AYCE buffet at Eclipse Asian Cuisine

December 16, 2013

At my mum’s friend’s recommendation, our family decided to have AYCE buffet lunch at Eclipse Asian Cuisine.

A reasonable, $12.95/person + tax/tip for weekday lunch.

Our first impression of Eclipse was, “Holy, heavy doors!” But we did appreciate the eclipse decor pattern on the glass.

Joking aside, the restaurant is large with 2 main seating areas, offering both tables and booths. We were greeted at the door and immediately shown to a booth. Recommendation: hooks by the booths to hang up coats!

The decor is nice and tasteful with wood and brown furniture against purple walls with circular white and yellow accents.

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We arrived shortly after 11:30am for lunch so it was not surprising that there were only a few other patrons in the restaurant. However, there was a steady flow of diners as we headed into lunch hours.

Before grabbing food, I walked around to take a look at all the dishes available and take a few pictures. I was quite taken aback when an employee, I assume the manager/owner as he was in a dress shirt and tie, saw me and harshly asked, “Why are you taking pictures?!” When I replied that I like to blog and was planning to write a review, and asked if taking pictures would be okay, he gave a curt nod of his head and walked away. Isn’t it easier to be friendly?

Anyway, I quite liked the set up of the food. A symmetrical, semi-circular area with an island at the centre and 2 smaller areas off to each side.

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The presentation of the food was elegant, smaller portions cleanly plated on white square dishes. However, I believe this also allowed the dishes to cool a little quickly.

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There are many meat dishes (vegetarians will have a hard time here) and a number of seafood ones to choose from. Many of the classics (dumplings, General Tao’s chicken, egg rolls, stir-fries, etc) are available along with a selection of sushi, salads, soups, and desserts.

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Hungry for food!

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I found my mum’s side profile funny

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My plate. Trying to get a bite of many dishes…

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Unfortunately, my tiny, sesame ball with red bean filling was still raw on the inside.

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And 2 of us had big chunks of fat in one of our pork dishes, not a fan. Fat is the closest piece, pork behind it.

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Overall, the food and selection is good. Of course, the variety doesn’t match Emerald Buffet, but Eclipse still offers something for everyone in a nicer environment. Some dishes are cooked and taste better than others. I especially liked the salmon Teriyaki and salt and pepper shrimp. The sushi is decent, although if you are looking for sushi, I would definitely recommend going down the street for AYCE at Sushi Kan.

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Desserts were definitely disappointing, with a small selection of fruits, jello, ice cream and pre-bought desserts. Unfortunately, many pastries/cakes were dry as they are left open to the air. Would’ve loved to see some Asian desserts as well!

With reasonable prices and food, I’m sure we will find ourselves back when craving Chinese buffet!

Eclipse Asian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

AYCE Sushi fix at Banc Sushi

November 30, 2013

All you can eat sushi with the cousins! Yay, I finally get my sushi fix!

We decided on Banc Sushi as it is pretty tasty and in a convenient location for everyone.

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For my friends who don’t know how AYCE sushi works, you are given a menu and ordering sheets. You write down the quantity of each item you want and they bring it straight to your table… how easy can it get!

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It costs $23 for dinner on Fridays and weekends, prices for lunch and weekdays are more cheaper.

Check out the extensive menu:

And of course, photos!

Only missing 2 cousins: My sister and Kien

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The other half’s first bit of food arrives…

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The girls

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Our side of the table was waiting so long for food… then realized we never handed in the order. Fail!

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Always with the nipple touching Khang

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Finally, our first dish arrives – seaweed salad!

And more food!

Tuna

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Unagi/eel – this was so tasty!

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The Lover’s Roll… in the shape of a penis. Many laughs and instagram-ing occured at the table

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The most tender beef rolls (enoki mushrooms inside) I’ve ever had!

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So much dessert! Ice cream and fried banana for everyone! Haven’t had mango ice cream in so long – yum!

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Kevin so happy with his 6 scoops of ice cream 😛

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Happy with bursting bellies!

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Let’s do this again before I leave! 😀

50% off Korean BBQ dinner @ Hong Depot

An opportunity through Dimmi for 50% off food (not including drinks or desserts) at Hong Depot, a Korean BBQ restaurant in West End. With an 82% rating on Urbanspoon and being somewhere we’ve never tried before – how could we resist?

Xuan, Mike and I had reservations for 5:30pm but showed up a bit early due to the timing of buses. No problems though! We were invited to our table and ordered drinks to start while waiting for the kitchen to open. The boys enjoyed Heineken beer while I got a glass of Black Raspberry Wine – sweet but so tasty!

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The restaurant is quirky but homey, does that make sense?

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Check out the plastic gloves filled with water, hanging all over the restaurant. Nope… still haven’t been able to figure it out 😛

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We were soon ready to place our order and eagerly awaiting our food.

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As with many Korean restaurants, there are always free unlimited refills of side dishes. The ones offered at Hong Depot were sliced fish cake, kim chi, and seaweed salad. All were very good! Never had seaweed salad as a slaw before but the crunchy texture really makes it!

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The dishes soon started flowing out at a very good pace. First dish, Rice Balls ($7 for 4 pcs – mixed with rice, yellow radish, seaweed, sesame and mayo) – very good! I especially liked the added texture of the red rice.

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Mandu ($9 for 8 pcs)! Korean dumplings with vegetable filling.

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Large Kimchi Pancake ($16). Crispy, filled with nice and spicy kimchi.

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When we finished our tapas, the staff set up fiery coals to barbecue our meats…

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Rice with dipping sauces

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We got 4 servings of meat, each 200g: Beef Galbi ($21 – marinated short beef rib), Spicy Beef Bulgogi ($18.80 – marinated thin slices of prime beef), Spicy Pork Bulgogi ($19.50 – marinated thin slices of prime pork) and Jumuluck ($21 – marinated boneless short beef rib). All of the meats were tender and well marinated.

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Loved being able to BBQ the meat to our liking and thank goodness for the table suction fan. Otherwise, we’d be reeking of BBQ on the way home!

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And even though we were getting full, ice cream was just too tempting. Xuan and Mike each got a scoop of Green Tea and I got Black Sesame ($6 each) – creamy and delicious! A very generous portion as well, no complaints!

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With the 50% discount, our bill for 3 people came to approximately $105 – great value! The dinner was great and everything was delicious 🙂 The staff were also extremely friendly and accommodating, despite the restaurant being very busy later in the evening. We left extremely satisfied but would be hesitant to return soon because at regular price, the food is quite pricey for the portion size. Would definitely recommend trying at least once though!

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Hong Depot on Urbanspoon

Day 03: Bangkok – Dinner at Gaggan!

Monday, July 15, 2013

After our little shopping adventure, we met up with Laura in the evening close to Lumpini Park for some drinks – buy one cocktail get one free! 😀

It was nice to spend more time together but it wasn’t long before we said our good-byes and parted ways because Mike and I had reservations for a very special dinner… at Gaggan, known for its progressive Indian cuisine. I know what many of you, including Laura, are thinking, “Who goes to Thailand to eat Indian food?”

Well, when it’s listed as #10 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013, (#3 in 2014!) you know it’s worth it. We made our reservation back while studying for exams and were looking forward to this meal the entire trip. We had even already decided that we would be going for one of the tasting menus.

Unfortunately, it was raining and we had left our umbrella back at the hotel… and because our cab driver (which we needed for only a couple hundred of metres) was inefficient, we still showed up to the restaurant wet. It is also why we don’t have any pictures of what the restaurant looks like from the outside. But to give you an idea, it was a large white colonial-styled house with many large windows, each with warm light shining through. 🙂

We were greeted by friendly staff and shown upstairs to our table for 2. There was a sense of intimacy as we were seated in the corner but could still look out to the dining room and see the other diners. I only wished the lighting was a little bit brighter for better quality of photos 😉

The ambiance was really nice and felt like we were dining in someone’s house rather than a restaurant. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures to show you… sorry!

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Along with our menus, we received a ‘welcome drink,’ a passionfruit and strawberry sorbet, frozen with liquid nitrogen. We didn’t get the “flair” presentation with the liquid nitrogen being poured at the table like other diners have shared, but it was still tart and tasty.

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We soon decided on our drinks: An Asahi beer for Mike and a frozen lychee and rosewater mocktail for me.

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And it also didn’t take much effort to confirm that we would be going for the 10 course tasting menu. Most courses are listed on the menu, but the unlisted ones were a nice surprise!

The meal was exceptional… and I have photos to share with you!

The first item was something we had read online from previous diners and were quite looking forward to – the Yoghurt Explosion. Rich yoghurt with black pepper submersed in an alginate bath to give the form of an egg yolk and served on a ceramic spoon. We were instructed to slide the whole thing into our mouth and just experience the explosion. Explosion indeed! An awesome burst of flavour that left us with silly smiles on our faces and looking forward to what the rest of the evening had to offer.

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Next was a trio served on an interestingly shaped metal plate. We were instructed to eat from left to right. The first was a white chocolate shell filled with a spiced liquid concoction that included chili. Sweet and spicy, a nice kick to start off the plate.

The next item was an edible bag made of rice paper and filled with wasabi flavoured beans and dried fruit. Interesting textures from the melting rice paper, crunchiness of the beans and chewiness of the fruit – the combination of flavours was nice as well.

Lastly was a deconstructed samosa with potato mousse on the top. Nicely flavoured, but I wish it was served fresh and hot rather than cold/room temperature.

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My date! ❤

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Our third dish was called Viagra – French Oysters freshly shucked served with kokam nectar and Indian mustard ice cream. On top of the oyster was an oyster leaf with foam. We were told to eat the leaf first on its own and that it tastes like an oyster… wow, true! Did some reading afterward to find out that oyster leaves have a slightly salty/ocean taste that highly resembles oysters – even referred to as vegetarian oysters. The oysters were fresh (actually the first one I’ve tried and enjoyed) with the coldness of the mustard ice cream immediately melting in your mouth. Yum! With slight brain freeze 😉

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The next dish, Egyptian Secret was spiced foiegras with spiced red onion chutney and cold raspberry foie powder. My first time having foiegras, and it didn’t disappoint. It was smooth and creamy with a slight bitterness that was balanced by the sweetness of the other components.

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The fifth dish, In Season was an airlight soup of summer truffles and organic waynaud peppers. With slivers of truffle on top of this delicious foamy creaminess, In Season has ruined one of my favourite comfort foods – Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup from a can. The soup was literally airy but packed full of flavour. So rich and tasty! I only wish I could eat it again…

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Next on our tasting adventure was Smoke It Up – river king prawns tandoor grilled and finished with fennel Kachumber, coriander foam and charcoal oil. The green garnish on the prawn was called salty finger, and we were told to eat it first. It was a surprising taste of watery saltiness, and interesting addition to seafood dishes! Mike’s prawn came out with a head and mine didn’t, one of the only inconsistencies we noticed that night. The dish tasted nice, although the salad was a little too salty. At the end of the night, this was our least favourite dish.

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A happy girl!

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What Mike had been looking forward to, Game On – Wild French quail sous-vide 6 hours with chettinaud spices tandoor roasted with pineapple chutney. Without inquiry, we were assured, “Using fingers is fine!” which gave us a little laugh. The quail was super tender and flavourful and the pineapple chutney added a combination of spicy sweetness we’d never had before. We both agreed that the chutney was a little too thick, too dark and too sweet.

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The last savoury dish for the night, British National Dish – chicken Tikka masala deconstructed and reconstructed curry makhani foam with traditional chicken tikka. Yes, a pretty full on dish description but it can be simplified to fewer words: Best Tikka masala ever. Really. For us at least, we’ve only eaten Indian food in Brisbane. The naan was delicious as well, we completely devoured that dish!

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Our pre-dessert: Black sesame ice cream topped with a sponge cake. Being honest here, the ice cream was great but sponge cake was kind of weird… I think this dessert would’ve been much better as a take on fried ice cream. With crisp, fried cake on top instead 😉

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And the finale to our night: Cinanana – banana meringue with Ceylon sweet cinnamon burnt ice cream. So tasty! The banana meringue, in terms of texture, light sweetness and flavour, really made the dish for us. There was also passion fruit gelee tubes which had a nice flavour but we weren’t a fan of the texture and thought the flavours would’ve been just as great without. 🙂

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After such an enjoyable meal, our only wish was that we could’ve had 2 or 3 times the portions! But alas! It was still be a great adventure!

I was adamant with Mike that I wanted to meet Chef Gaggan and shake his hand. Mike was skeptical. Chefs, after all, are busy people where their kitchen is a secret where magical things happen and not the place for customers. So I tried to prove him wrong. When I asked if it was possible to meet the chef and give him our thanks, our waitress said she would ask. She came back and said, “Yes, and he would like to give you a tour of the kitchen! Would you like to go? But he’s a very busy man, so he’s waiting for you to come right now.”

Without a second of thought I blurted, “Of course, thank you! Let’s go!” And off we scurried downstairs. Chef Gaggan met us at the kitchen entrance and welcomed us into his kitchen, asking how we enjoyed our dinner. Then he gave us a tour of his little kitchen, which although small, was highly functional with around 30 staff members coming and going. We even got to see his lab, where some of the magical creations take place.

Unbelievable to Mike, I asked Chef Gaggan for a picture with him, to which he happily agreed!

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Knowing he was quite busy, I still jumped at the opportunity to ask if I could snap a few pictures of the kitchen… He responded with telling his staff to put on their faces for the camera!

[Chef Gaggan has an interesting history and extensive experience, read more about him here on their website!]

I’m sorry for disrupting for your work environment! I wish I had been able to get everyone’s names and titles but I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. ^_^

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Excuse the pan, my fault for barging in and snapping away! But look at the colours! 🙂

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Mike and I had a great experience here and I wanted to share that with all of you! If you are ever in Bangkok, make a booking at Gaggan for a night of surprises. We were taken on a whirlwind of wonderful tastes, and the other great thing? That 10 course tasting menu cost a fraction of what it would in Brisbane – 1600 baht per person (+10% service charge and 7% VAT) ~$55 CAD + fees.

Light and fluffy waffles at Geláre

Mike and I went to see the movie Oblivion with Yoni last weekend at South Bank Cineplex. The movie? Entertaining, although the storyline was not unlike many other ‘the world has been taken over’ movies.

Now on to something more important: WAFFLES

If you take your movie ticket to Geláre, just down the street, you get 50% off basic waffles (comes with whipped cream and syrup, other toppings extra).

It was way past lunch and we still hadn’t eaten, how could we say no? So off we went.

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Friendly staff, happy to wait while we took our time deciding! We each settled for a large waffle with a scoop of ice cream – $7.50/each, a great price.

Mike and Yoni decided on White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle and I got Chocolate Overload – mmm!

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The waffle was just the way I like them – piping hot, crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. Super tasty! Some people prefer harder, denser waffles like the ones served at Max Brenner. As much as I love Max Brenner, I really do think these waffles are better. Especially because they’re freshly made on the spot!

Many reviewers on Urbanspoon found the consistency of the ice cream (thick, elastic-like) to be off-putting. Yes, I agree the consistency of the ice cream is different to what I’m used to, but it was delicious! Rich and creamy, far from lacking in flavour.

I’ve also noticed from reviews that some people are under the impression Gelare is serving gelato (“ice milk products with a low cream content”) – No, that is not the case! If you bother to read the About page of their website, Gelare explains their ice cream in detail:

  • Real flavour and no artificial ingredients
  • Features a higher cream content than almost every other ice cream on the market.
  • While other ice creams contain as much as 50% air, Geláre is made with no air. (Explains the “gooey” texture)
  • Geláre is unique because it is much creamier and thicker than Italian ice cream. It is also much heavier, creamier and more intensely flavoured than American ice cream. Geláre is an improved “hybrid” ice cream combining and also exceeding the best qualities from both countries.

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We all left super satisfied with full bellies – who would’ve thought it could be so filling! Would we come back? Most definitely, and soon too! 🙂

PS: You can get the same 50% off deal every Tuesday – without a movie ticket!

Geláre on Urbanspoon

Max Brenner, double rainbow and pretty skies

Our last treat out with Meaghan in Brisbane – Max Brenner (one of my favourite places) for dessert after our amazing dinner at Next Door Kitchen & Bar!

A very happy girl with her Toffee Choc-Nut Waffle – little pots of melted chocolate can bring such joy into people’s lives!

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Mike and I shared the Spectacular Choc-Fudge Brownie Sundae (with additional caramel sauce, haha). I don’t know how people finish this on their own – sugar coma!

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Silly face!

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Walked out of my house the other day and groaned aloud because it was raining and because it was so early in the morning. On the way to the train station, the rain stopped and this is what I saw – double rainbow all the way across the skyyyy!

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Some days, I make it out of the clinic and home before the sun goes down. When that happens, I get the chance to see pretty colours and bats flying across the sky.

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Other days, I have to walk home alone in the dark 😦 And by the time I get home, my brain and body are too tired to do anything but eat and sleep.

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Harajuku Gyoza – A long time coming

Michael is a huge fan of dumplings – so am I.

We’ve also passed by Harajuku Gyoza many many times – each time itching to go in but holding off. We finally went on April 04 during Meaghan’s visit.

Super friendly service with shouts of ‘Irasshaimase!’ (welcome) as soon as you walk in the door. Great decor as well, I really liked the plates and the lights.

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The menu is simple but offered a variety of dumplings averaging $8 for 5 pieces.

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We ended up ordering edamame (boiled young soybeans), chicken karaage (marinated and lightly battered fried chicken) and 5 gyoza (dumpling) dishes, all grilled with pork, duck, chicken, vegetable, and Moreton Bay bug filling.

Food verdict? VERY AVERAGE, nothing special.

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Edamame was great, although it’s hard to get that wrong.

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The chicken karaage had too much batter and skin for my tastes – I’ve had much better.

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The dumplings were not very flavourful. If I didn’t know what we had ordered, it would’ve been hard to tell the difference between the pork, duck and chicken gyozas. The vegetable dumpling had interesting (edamame in the filling) texture, although not great flavour. This was also my first time tasting Moreton Bay bugs – it was tasty but I wouldn’t be able to say if it was cooked well or not 🙂 I also wish the gyoza wrappers were more chewy and crispy.

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Even though the food was a little lacking, it was clear everyone (including us) were enjoying themselves. The restaurant was soon filled to capacity and buzzing with conversation. Every time a sake shot was served (from a huge bottle), the staff would yell out leaving customers laughing and a little self conscious 😛

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For dessert, we shared an apple gyoza with icecream and a peanut butter & white chocolate gyoza with icecream. Each came with 3 pieces of deep fried dumplings and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Delicious. You simply cannot go wrong with those flavour combinations… deep fried. I was so excited to eat it, I forgot to take pictures 😦

A really enjoyable evening but we probably won’t come back unless it’s with a large group of friends for the atmosphere. We will try out other gyoza restaurants before coming back to Harajuku solely for the dumplings.

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Harajuku Gyoza on Urbanspoon

Photo #326: Guilty or Not?

January 19, 2013

It was late and I was the only one awake. It had been 30+ degrees all day and suddenly a craving for cookies&cream ice cream came over me. So… I had some, yum! Do I feel guilty? Nope! Trick: Use a small ice cream scoop (1 tbsp) – looks like a lot but 4 tbsp is only 1/4 cup! 😀

FADU: Korean Food and Emergency Shelters

July 17, 2012

Spent a few hours at Westfield Chermside Shopping Centre, then headed into the city for Korean dinner at our favourite – Madtongsan II. My brother treated us all to $0.30 ice cream cones from McDonald’s for dessert… bless his soul! On the way home, we stopped at King George Square where the Emergency Shelter Exhibition was being displayed. More info on that HERE.

 

Family picture at King George bus station on the way home!

Working off the calories, badminton in the garage!