Off to Brisbane!

May 02-03, 2016

Finally, 5 weeks of night ward call are over for the both of us! On to 5 weeks of holiday! Including getting married! Can you imagine how excited we were to embark on this adventure?!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Thank you Yoni for picking us up when we landed in Brisbane, obviously so good to see you again! 😀

BRISBANE MAY 2016

We were so excited to enjoy a delicious Japanese lunch at our collective favourite – Wagaya – in Chinatown. Unfortunately, it was closed! Not sure why, but perhaps it was a holiday (May Day)?

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Instead, we had lunch at Thai Wi-Rat, with very cheap options off their lunch menu!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Both Yoni and I got rice with roasted pork (approx $10). Rather than succulent pork with crispy skin, Thai Wi-Rat appears to further fry/bake their pork after chopping – which made it quite tough and dry 😦 I have also never liked the bland cooked vegetables that often accompany such meals – I would much prefer a dressed salad or a bit of stirfry, but I suppose it’s standard! My Thai iced tea was good though!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Mike quite enjoyed his rice with roasted duck 🙂

BRISBANE MAY 2016

We then checked into our serviced apartment at the Meriton on Herschel Street. Beautiful view and a good value for the space – which is also perfect for entertaining some friends!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Our amazing view – we missed Brisbane!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

I asked the Meriton to leave a note from me to Michael in our hotel prior to checking in. It wasn’t a problem and a welcomed surprise for him!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Cheers to our holiday!!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Night view was just as nice!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

In the evening, we caught up with one of our favourite gals – Fiona! Had some delicious Korean food including crispy chicken wings and bulgogi at another favourite – Maru!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

So good to see this one!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Yoni dropped by after his evening shift to hang out with us some more – and he drove us to their airport the following morning, you’re the best!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

Gloomy morning before checking out!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

No problems with checking in for our flight and soon we were on our way to North America! First, Brisbane to Los Angeles with Qantas. Then, Los Angeles to Toronto to Ottawa with Air Canada!

I’ve always liked the better quality of food with Qantas airline!

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

BRISBANE MAY 2016

SOON… HOME SWEET HOME!

Great Chinese food from Dragon Gallery

We definitely have a weak spot for Chinese food and were glad to find an establishment in Rockhampton to satisfy our cravings.

Dragon Gallery is located at 1/295 Richardson Rd – next to the Asian grocery store Food Sing Trading.

IMG_3854

A small, simply decorated restaurant with limited seating so don’t forget to call and make reservations to ensure a spot! While dining in, we also noticed a very steady stream of customers coming in to pick up their takeaway orders. And speaking from experience, perfect for a night in!

IMG_3852

There may be a wait for food if it’s a busy night, but service is always good with frequent checking in to make sure you’re enjoying your meal.

(Menus provided by Dragon Gallery)

1782381_906762379367503_2051258252697723414_o

11391658_906762386034169_3202685725088350217_n

At our first visit with a few friends, we decided on one of the banquet options for value and variety.

11668085_914334941943580_320023247_n

We decided on the $32/head option and were not disappointed!

Mixed entrees – mini spring rolls, fried dim sims, and fried mashed prawn with sesame on toast.

IMG_3856

The spring rolls were large and delicious with the perfect hint of five-spice seasoning, something I’ve never seen before. Dim sims were also great. The prawn toast, however, had so little prawn they seemed more like fried sesame bread. I’m a huge fan of prawn toast and make it quite often at home slathered to the brim with prawn paste so it made me a little sad.

Pork with vegetables in oyster sauce. The pork was tender, vegetables still crisp and the sauce not too overpowering or salty!

IMG_3858

Boneless crispy chicken in lemon sauce. Piping hot and crisp with a delicious sweet and sour lemon sauce – always a favourite.

IMG_3860

All the dishes were served with generous portions of Fried Rice. Unfortunately, I forgot to grab a photo but it was simple and delicious.

Mongolian Beef – Sizzling hot, incredibly tender and not overpowered with onions.

IMG_3862

Honey prawns. This dish is always a treat. Perfect when they’re fresh out of the fryer with a delicate crisp batter coating and tossed in a sweet honey concoction… delicious!

IMG_3864

Included in the banquet is the option of dessert – banana fritter with ice cream or deep fried ice cream. We chose deep fried ice cream that came on a bed of canned fruit. The batter was interesting… coconut based and crumbly. I think we would choose to try the banana fritters next time.

IMG_3865

We prefer dining in as the food is piping hot and fresh but takeaway is a great option as well – we love the family options! Your food is often ready in the time frame given when you place your order. The only disappointment involved with takeaway is having to get the food home before you can eat it. And in that time, crispy dishes can get soggy from the steam!

Head in to Dragon Gallery for some delicious Chinese food! You won’t leave dissatisfied! 🙂

Catching up with friends at Bread & Meat Co

October 10, 2014

After months of hearing about not only the amazing sandwiches served at Bread & Meat Co, but the fact that they served Canadian poutine, Michael and I were super excited to suggest a visit to this eatery for a catch up with our friends.

IMG_7999

We were told that most of their sales occur by early afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to find the place not packed with seating available on a Friday evening.

Bright and rustic, loved that everything was on display and open to our viewing.

IMG_7997

With the 5 of us, we made sure to try all 3 regular sandwiches as well as their weekly special.

Beef Brisket Dip – 36 hour roasted beef brisket topped with Swiss cheese, horseradish aioli, and a side of jus for dipping ($9.50). Packed to the brim with brisket and perfect with the jus, it’s easy to see why this is a favourite among customers.

IMG_8000

Corned Beef Sandwich – New York style corned beef with gherkin aioli, topped with poached cabbage and a side of spicy dijon mustard ($8.50). A tad on the salty side but goes well with the dijon mustard! Those who ordered this sandwich thought pickled cabbage or sauerkraut would make a better condiment in flavour and texture over poached cabbage.

IMG_8006

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich – Smoked pulled porked with a BBQ hickory sauce, topped with fresh coleslaw on 2 toasted brioche slider buns ($8.50). This was my order, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The pork melts in your mouth, good crunch from the coleslaw and the brioche held together nicely. I did, however, find the BBQ sauce a bit too sweet and overpowering the smokiness of the pork.

IMG_8003

Xuan and Alexis

IMG_8017

Lastly, the weekly special Porchetta – Juicy pork loin with an herb stuffing, crispy crackling, topped with a salsa verde on a warm ciabatta roll ($9.50). Porchetta is something I learned for the first time tonight and it was true to its name – fatty and moist, boneless pork roast.

IMG_8009

Cool salt and pepper shakers

IMG_8013

And of course, how could we pass up the opportunity for a taste from home – Canadian Poutine with golden fries, fresh curd cheese smothered in hot gravy ($6). The good news is, the gravy was well seasoned and not crazy salty as some of our friends who’ve already visited warned us. The sad news is, this is not real poutine. The salty, squeaky cheese curds of real Canadian poutine is irreplaceable. And unfortunately, the chopped up bocconcini served at Bread & Meat Co is an admirable replacement, but simply not good enough.

IMG_8011

We wouldn’t order the poutine again. Instead, we look forward to trying their Sweet Potato Parm Fries ($6) or their Chili Cheese Fries ($7) next time.

The sandwiches were all delicious and massively filling. Look forward to visiting again and would definitely recommend to our friends. They even offer free weekday lunch delivery in the CBD for orders more than $18, how awesome is that?

Good to see you guys!

IMG_8015

Catch up soon Sarah!

IMG_8018

Bread & Meat Co on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Cafe Auchenflower

October 5, 2014

After months of being away, we finally caught up with James and Kim over breakfast at Cafe Auchenflower.

IMG_7996

With a cute and homely atmosphere, Cafe Auchenflower invites you in with friendly service and a steady stream of customers.

IMG_7994

A small menu that offers both sweet and savoury items, something for everyone.

IMG_7984

We started off with drinks, including a nice flat white, freshly brewed tea and iced coffee with ice cream

IMG_7983

IMG_7985

I ordered an iced chocolate, which was a little disappointing. Simply milk with chocolate syrup, not overly cold and certainly not iced.

IMG_7986

James and Kim decided on poached eggs on sourdough bread ($13) with a couple of sides, each around $3 (avocado, fritters, bacon).

IMG_7987

Michael couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pass up Benedict Eggs on toasted sourdough with bacon ($17).

IMG_7991

Everyone received consistent beautifully poached eggs and quite enjoyed their breakfast.

I ordered the Breaky Wrap with bacon, egg, greens, corn salsa & chipotle mayo ($17). Grilled to perfection with a generous amount of greens and bacon, although eggs a little overcooked.

IMG_7989

And don’t forget to check out the cabinet on your way out, tasty treats to pick up!

IMG_7992

IMG_7993

A lovely breakfast with great company! However, despite a good visit and food, Michael and I did find the menu overpriced and won’t be too hasty to return.

Cafe Auchenflower on Urbanspoon

Post exam dinner at Agricola Street Brasserie

September 11, 2014

Ecstatic to have completed our Medical Specialties exam, we were looking forward to a nice dinner with friends. A highly anticipated visit to Agricola Street Brasserie – finally! We were joined for dinner by Laura, Matt and their daughter Isabelle, as well as Ian & Sarah. 🙂

I have to apologize that we didn’t take many photos, too busy enjoying the food and everyone’s company!

You are immediately invited into the restaurant by the great atmosphere and friendly waitstaff. High ceilings, very rustic (yet classy) looking with mood lighting.

IMG_2287

We all enjoyed a cocktail to start, great choices available, although I can’t remember what we ordered now! Once our dinner orders in, some nice house bread and whipped butter were brought to the table. The butter was presented in cute mini jam jars, a cute touch!

We ordered a few appetizers to share, including a cheese plate with local and imported cheeses ($14). The cheese variety (can’t remember, sorry!) was interesting and tasty, served with bread, crisps and mango chutney. I think most of us enjoyed the blue cheese most, which was unexpected! With the amount of cheese on the plate, it could’ve definitely used more crisps or bread, although I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a problem if we had asked for more.

Mike and I picked out 2 dishes to try and share with everyone. The first was Classic Beef Tartare ($15). I quite liked the presentation of this dish, mainly because of the egg yolk in a half shell you pour over the beef yourself. Simple, but nice touch! The tartare was nicely seasoned accompanied perfectly with the dijon mustard and served with grilled bread – yum!

IMG_2284

The other appetizer we chose was Snails & Mushrooms, Garlic & Parsley Butter, Almond & Thyme Tartine ($13). This dish was fantastic! Heaping amounts of really tasty large snails and mushrooms atop 3 slices of bread. The bread soaked up all the juices, making sure we didn’t lose any of the delicious flavours! Unfortunately, only one other person at the table, aside from Mike and I, tried this dish with us. The others missed out!

The appetizer portions were a great value for the price. Unlike numerous other restaurants we’ve visited, these appetizers could easily be enjoyed between a group of 6 people!

For mains, Michael chose the Thai Sausage, Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts, Thai Chilies, Cilantro ($19). Really tasty dish with a lovely fragrant and texture to the sausage. However, we both felt that it could’ve used a small portion of seasoned rice or other form of carb to balance out the taste and look of this dish.

IMG_2285

Ian and myself chose the Basmati Rice & Chick Pea Salad, Vegetables & Herbs, Ginger, Lime, Olive Oil ($14). Flavours, delicious. I loved the crispness of the fried chick peas, they added really good texture to the dish. I’m generally not a fan of basmati rice compared to other types but this salad was done well with fresh vegetables and a nice, crisp dressing. The only thing about this dish that I didn’t enjoy? Too many hot chilies for my palate, I had to pick out quite a few!

IMG_2286

Other mains ordered at our table include the Roasted Halibut, Sweet Pea Puréeé, Mussel Butter, Pea & Brocoli ($27) which was thoroughly enjoyed with no complaints.

Another was the Seared Scallops, Cauliflower three ways, Bacon, Apple & Thyme ($25), which was unfortunately a disappointment. The scallops did not have a beautiful golden sear on them and the vegetables, especially cauliflower three ways, was too lacking. Compared to the serving size of other dishes, including appetizers, this one was tiny. Visually and conceptually, I think this dish needs to be rethought.

At one point during our dinner, the restaurant manager, Peter Goneau, stopped by our table to say hello and see how the evening was going. Mike and I always appreciate when staff go the extra mile to check in on their customers!

Everybody enjoyed desserts, some of which are not listed on the current menu. Matt had ordered a creme brulee while Laura enjoyed a sundae. Ian and Sarah enjoyed a chocolate pot de creme.

Mike and I shared what we thought would be a strawberry cheesecake. But it turned out to be almost a mix between cheesecake and strawberry shortcake. Mike was so disappointed but I quite liked it!

IMG_2289

At one point during dinner, I took a bathroom break, where I discovered 2 things:

  1. Really cool toilets! Individual private bathrooms with great personality. Love some of the unique touches like the faucets, and the door handles which were crafted from pipes.
  2. The open kitchen, that you can sit and dine at. As this area is tucked away from the main dining room, I had no idea but this would definitely be where I’d want to sit at for my next meal. Enjoying good food while seeing the magic happen in the kitchen, yes please!

IMG_2290

Great ambiance, attentive service, reasonable prices and overall very tasty food – one of my most enjoyable restaurant experiences during my time in Halifax. I’m keen to see what seasonal dishes will be on their menu the next time I visit!

Agricola Street Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Dinner at Brooklyn Warehouse

August 22, 2014

We didn’t think we would be able to get a place at Brooklyn Warehouse on a Friday evening without reservations but luckily, a table for 2 was available outside!

Sheltered, which I always appreciate, especially in the evening! Sorry, didn’t take photos of what the restaurant looked like on the inside.

IMG_7665

Service was great, friendly and attentive without being too pushy. We were quickly offered a drinks menu, which we ordered to start.

IMG_7662

IMG_7664

I got the Wasabi Caesars with vodka, shochu, clamato and pickled snow peas. I’d never had anything like that before, it was delicious! However, because it was very spicy and explosive in flavours, don’t do what I did and have it with your meal, it doesn’t pair as nicely as a wine! 😉 Mike got a Boxing Rock Red which he enjoyed.

IMG_7666

The food menu was in the form of chalkboards strategically located around the restaurant, offering a view from wherever you were sitting.

IMG_7671

IMG_7672

I chose the NS rabbit carbonara house fettuccine with bacon and herb crumb ($26). The pasta was nicely cooked and rabbit was tender and moist. However, although it might be difficult to gauge from this photo, but the portion was tiny. We found it hard to believe that this was supposed to a main dish, it looked more like an appetizer.

IMG_7667

Mike had the Maple glazed halibut with polenta, thyme, and pickled blueberries ($26). The flavours were great, unfortunately, the halibut was overcooked and as a result quite dry. Similar to mine, this dish was also quite small.

IMG_7670

Brooklyn Warehouse offers a pleasant dining atmosphere with great service and well thought out dishes and drinks. However, although the food is delicious, the servings are too small while being on the pricier side! We hope to leave with bellies more satisfied on our next visit!

The Brooklyn Warehouse on Urbanspoon

Quick meal at Golden BBQ

Golden BBQ was on our list of cheap eateries to try during Food Adventure with Yoni day a few weeks back. Roasted pork and BBQ’d duck are 2 of my favourite dishes, so I was really looking forward to a quick but delicious bite, especially considering the 88% rating on Urbanspoon.

IMG_7362

We arrived around lunch time on the weekend, busy but a few empty tables so we didn’t have to wait. There is no real decor or ambiance in this restaurant, which is fine! More of an in-and-out kind of stop.

IMG_7357

The plan was to be out eating for the entire day so Yoni and I decided to share a combo plate – $14.50 for a choice of two meats with steamed rice (or noodles for an extra $0.50). Of course, we chose the BBQ pork and duck.

IMG_7358

Every portion comes with a complimentary soup of the day. I don’t know if the type of soup changes often, but it was pumpkin or squash for us. Very dilute but warm and inviting nonetheless.

IMG_7356

There is hardly a wait for your food at Golden BBQ and our food came out within minutes of ordering. Portion size generous, served with a side of boiled or steamed napa cabbage. Unfortunately, both meats were served at room temperature and as a result, the pork skin was not nearly as crispy as it should be. Should be served piping hot so it was a disappointment. They do have great prices for a quick and easy meal out so I can see why people love returning.

IMG_7361

I’ve been spoiled growing up when it comes to roasted duck and pork. My honest opinion, the ones offered at Golden BBQ are definitely not as good and flavourful as they should be. If you’re having a barbecued meat craving or want to serve something nice for dinner, I would recommend picking up the meats at Burlington BBQ (a whole duck for around $25-30 and serves a whole family) just a few shops away, as their meats are tastier. It also ends up being much cheaper when you take it home and make up your own rice and side dishes!

Golden Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Evening catch up with friends @ The Burrow

Finally had a catch up this past Friday with Kee Ping, Amanda and Xuan at The Burrow.

With a great drinks menu and nice atmosphere, The Burrow was an easy choice and luckily we could make reservations so didn’t have to wait in line for a table.

IMG_5513

Beers for everyone! And of course, food. We got a few dishes to share:

Unfortunately, some of these dishes are part of their Oktoberfest menu which isn’t online so I can’t give you the full dish name and all its components.

Pretzels with Pepe Saya butter. I love Pepe Saya butter but the pretzels were unfortunately quite tough and definitely not worth $7/each.

IMG_5519

Main component of this dish was the crispy pork belly, which was lovely! Also had roasted peaches and something-I-can’t remember wrapped in filo pastry. Tasty dish!

IMG_5516

Dip-ah-dee-do-dah – A selection of fresh house dips, crisp bread, ciabatta, zattar and flavoured oils. The selection was different than what Mike and I have had before but still very tasty! Very generous portions of dips, and so would do with a bit more breads!

IMG_5518

IMG_5514

This dish’s main component was slow cooked venison with spätzle, apple and berries. When we asked what spätzle was, our server said her best description would be “similar to gnocchi”. Unfortunately, although the venison was tender and nice, the spätzle (that we were all trying for the first time) tasted more like stale deep fried batter. We’re still unsure if it was meant to taste that way, or if we just got a bad batch… And why make the pieces so tiny? So difficult to eat when they just roll around on your fork and then onto the table.

IMG_5520

We also got some Gnarly fries (curly fries) and Chips Ahoy! (beer battered fries) with aioli sauce. On a good note, the fries never disappoint.

IMG_5521

IMG_5515

We’ve been to The Burrow many times and love the service, drinks selection and quality of food. Unfortunately, we found our food hit and miss tonight but will still be back again in the future 🙂

The Burrow on Urbanspoon

Dinner with friends @ Epicurean

This is posted late, but I wanted to tell you about a delicious dinner we had at Epicurean (official restaurant of Inchcolm Hotel) back on September 17, 2013 🙂

Thanks to a weekly Dimmi Special, we were able to enjoy this restaurant for the first time at 50% off the food bill, drinks not included.

With dinner reservations for 7pm, we were greeted by the friendly staff and shown to our table. It was a quiet Tuesday night with not many other patrons except for a few I presume were staying at Incholm Hotel.

IMG_5378

Service was really great throughout the night, thank you especially to Richard for explaining the dishes and continuously checking in on us!

IMG_5376

We started off with wine and warm delicious bread.

IMG_5377

Next came the entrees which we shared between us.

Lamb Tenderloin, Pistachio Dukkah, Smoked Eggplant, Sumac Yoghurt, Lemon. Lamb was extremely tender and I especially loved it combined with the dukkah and yoghurt!

IMG_5381

½ Shell Hervey Bay Scallops, Salt Baked Apple & Onion Puree, Radish, Dill Oil. The scallops were sweet but I wish they had been seared (had absolutely no colour) and were accompanied by ingredients with a stronger flavour profile.

IMG_5382

IMG_5386

Hot Smoked NZ King Salmon Salad, Charred Potatoes, Candied Spec, Green Beans, 62˚C Egg. Smoked salmon was delicious and an interesting combination with the egg as well.

IMG_5379

White Rabbit & Mustard Fruit Rillettes, Moreton Bay Prawn Salad, Herb Brioche. I was worried, but the rabbit was tender and moist! The brioche, however, was too dry!

IMG_5385

Onto the lovely mains

I got the East Coast Gold Band Snapper, Roasted Peach, Sorrel & Green Peppercorn Cream which was absolutely lovely. The peach and peppercorn cream was a fantastic combination with the fish, which was perfectly cooked.

IMG_5387

Mike got the Pork Sirloin, Red Cabbage, Ricotta & Jamon Dumpling, Pear & Sage Emulsion which he said was, “deeelicious.”

IMG_5389

Kageen chose the Free Range Chicken (Breast & Leg), Pickled Ratatouille, Sweet & Sour Tomato Coulis, Fried Capers that she quite enjoyed.

IMG_5391

And finally, Xuan got King Reef Barramundi, Sand Crab, Tomato & Chive Mash, Sauce Nero with an additional side of Dutch Cream Potato Mash,Truffle Oil to share. The dish was good and it was interesting to try a squid ink sauce for the first time!

IMG_5390

Fortunately, with all of that, we still had room to try some of the desserts!

Mike and I shared the Belgian Milk Chocolate Mousse, Gin & Strawberry Gelee, Vanilla Crumble, Seasonal Berries. Beautifully decadent! The only thing we would point out is that the mousse was quite thick, more air would’ve been perfect but still delicious!

Kageen chose the Fruit Salad Compression, Crème de Framboise, Granita, Hazelnut Gelato as she had not compressed fruit before and found it quite refreshing. Her gelato had slipped off the starfruit in this picture.

IMG_5395

Xuan decided on the Classic Lemon Tart, Spiced Marmalade, Lime Crème that looked delicious!

IMG_5396

Thank you Epicurean for a great dinner with delicious food and wonderful service! We will definitely try to come back and visit again soon!

Group photo!

IMG_5400

Epicurean on Urbanspoon

Post-hike AYCE dinner @ Midam Korean Charcoal BBQ

Famished once we got back into Brisbane post-hike at Noosa National Park, we were grateful that Xuan had suggested all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ at Midam!

IMG_5362

At a very reasonable price of $28/person (remember, no tax no tip here), you got an unlimited amount (self-service) of a variety of meats that included: pork belly, marinated pork, marinated beef, marinated chicken, etc!

IMG_5356

Also included in the dinner was rice and a variety of sides that included kimchi, fishcake, sweet mashed potatoes and salad.

IMG_5360

Dinner was extremely good! The meats were tender and well marinated, and the side dishes were tasty. I also loved the dipping sauces! I assume some people are turned off by a time limit, but I think the maximum of 2 hours is definitely more than enough to walk away really satisfied!

IMG_5359

Cooking at the grill at our table was extremely easy and the overhead fan had good suction. Certainly didn’t walk away reeking of food!

IMG_5361

Good food with good company, what else could you ask for?

IMG_5358

The restaurant was super busy with quick service, separated seating areas and a common buffet section. And loved the overhead lights!

IMG_5363

Would definitely recommend a visit! If it wasn’t so hard for us to get to Sunnybank via public transportation, we’d be back sooner!

Midam Korean Charcoal BBQ on Urbanspoon

Lunch @ Dumpling Up

August 26, 2013

Got off early from the hospital, woo hoo!

Hungry and in time for lunch, how lucky 😛

Dumpling Up not only has a restaurant but a little kiosk next door where they sell dumplings and steam buns to go. After enjoying their buns-to-go a number of times, we decided to check out their restaurant for lunch.

A friendly staff member stood at the door introducing the lunch specials (on display in the window) to interested patrons.

IMG_5286

We were interested and promptly shown inside. Two words: lovely decor! Unfortunately, the restaurant was almost empty. A shame considering this restaurant opened only a few weeks ago at that time.

IMG_5303

IMG_5304

IMG_5305

IMG_5287

They had appealing $10 lunch sets (rice with a main, 3 dumplings and green tea) but we decided on the a-la-carte menu instead in order to try more items.

All dishes were only $2.90 – amazing! We chose a variety of dishes…

IMG_5306

Started off with BBQ pork steam buns (2 per plate) – tasty as usual!

IMG_5288

Silly face!

IMG_5290

Deep fried pork and shrimp dumplings (3 per plate) – fillings tasted very similarly, decent but not a stand out.

IMG_5291

IMG_5293

Edamame – overcooked with too much oil and salt.

IMG_5295

We also tried a few sushi options, all of which came with 3 pieces per plate.

Salmon roll (salmon, avocado & cucumber)

IMG_5297

Dragon roll (salmon, prawn & pickle)

IMG_5298

Spider roll (fried soft shell crab, pickle & cucumber)

IMG_5300

It’s a good thing we didn’t order too many because the sushi was not very good. Rice was overcooked, as you can probably see in the pictures. And the ingredients (tempura prawn and soft shell crab) were cold and not freshly made.

The price was great but the food did not match in quality. It was disappointing to see a large beautiful restaurant, with plenty of seating space, so empty in the middle of lunch time. And such a small menu that didn’t live up to expectations.

Service, however, was great and hopefully they will soon work out the kinks with the food – when you offer a limited menu, it should dazzle! Or maybe it was just a fluke in the kitchen the day we visited 😀 It is a lovely restaurant (with a bar and even private rooms) with good prices and we will be back in the near future to check it out again!

Dumpling Up on Urbanspoon

Late breakfast at Eurovida

After tennis with the boys, Xuan drove us to Paddington for a late breakfast at Eurovida –  mmm, so hungry!

IMG_4707

There were no free tables when we first arrived so we were invited to sit at the bar and order drinks to start. Didn’t have to wait long and we were soon seated at a table by the window.

IMG_4697

Xuan and Kee Ping

IMG_4694

Re-hydrated with some water and then ordered some drinks for breakfast.

IMG_4698

Missing pictures, but a chocolate milkshake for Kee Ping which he said was not bad. Along with a cappuccino for Xuan and a flat white for Mike – coffees were apparently quite good!

IMG_4699

A house made iced tea for me. Refreshing and I liked the fresh mint.

IMG_4700

Loved the wooden chandeliers. Very rustic and would look great in a cottage by a lake.

IMG_4693

And then the wait for food… which took a lot longer than we expected. The service was very pleasant but luckily we weren’t starving and grumpy!

Simple Eats for Mike: 2 poached eggs, toasted sourdough bread, Italian sausage and grilled haloumi cheese. Tasty sausages although not spicy as expected!

IMG_4701

Simple Eats for Xuan as well: scrambled eggs with sourdough bread and grilled haloumi. Nice fluffy scrambled eggs and large side of not-too-salty haloumi!

IMG_4705

Kee Ping got one of the specials of the day: Belgium waffle with poached pear, maple syrup and cream. For $17, we all expected a much larger serving, with at least 2 waffles. The dish was also too sweet.

IMG_4704

I got the Grilled haloumi with poached eggs, sautèed spinach, beetroot relish, sourdough toast. Nicely poached eggs and interesting beetroot relish which had good texture but I wish it had been a little more flavourful! The spinach could use some seasoning too, a hint of garlic would’ve been very nice. Also, I love watercress salad and find it such a shame when it’s sprinkled haphazardly as garnish (as seen with all 3 of our savoury dishes). A little bit on the side with a spritz of vinaigrette would make the dish much more tasty!

IMG_4703

We also got a side of fries with aioli sauce to share. The cut and taste of fries reminded me of McDonald’s fries, although slightly healthier if that’s possible. Aioli sauce was nice and garlicky – yum!

On the way out, I saw these huge banana chocolate pecan muffins and had to get one for later. It was big and looked very appealing but unfortunately didn’t taste exceptional. Very tough consistency for a muffin and not strong in flavour. Oh well!

IMG_4708

Overall we enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. We don’t live near Paddington but if it were more convenient, we would probably visit again.

IMG_4706

Eurovida on Urbanspoon

High Tea at Coffee & Chocolate

Christine Q invited me out for a high tea and study date at Coffee & Chocolate, how could I say no? 😉

IMG_4657

We met last Sunday at Queens Plaza with reservations for 12pm and were told we could each select any of the hot or cold beverages.

Christine chose a Callebaut Strawberry Hot Chocolate, which was served on a stylish dish with some marshmallows.

IMG_4655

I got a refreshing Mango, Guava & Lychee Frappe.

IMG_4656

We chose seats by the window and didn’t have to wait long for our high tea, which came out on 2 tiers – savoury on the bottom, sweets on the top.

IMG_4662

Pretty Christine with the goodies!

IMG_4659

Started off with the savoury goodies – chicken salad finger sandwiches, puff pastry triangles with a meat filling, mini quiche tarts, and bread rusks with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Quality of food was good, everything was tasty but presentation could use a bit of work!

IMG_4661

On to the sweets! Warm soft scones with jam, butter and whipped cream, chocolate cake, strawberry bar, macarons and mini muffins (blueberry and chocolate). The desserts were all average, nothing that wowed us but they were all enjoyed. The macarons were unfortunately undercooked and the turquoise one, despite the lovely colour, had no flavour.

IMG_4660

For $12 a person, we had a good time and left with happy bellies to get some studying done 😉

I have to say, I was a little concerned after seeing so many bad reviews on Urbanspoon, but I was glad to have been overall proven wrong. Decent food with prompt service, hurray! Would I come back? Well, I would like to give their chocolates a try, so maybe if I’m ever in the area?

Coffee & Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Yum Cha at King of Kings

Yoni was in town last weekend, and since Mike and I had been craving some yum cha (or dim sum), we convinced Yoni to come with us to King of Kings.

We arrived before the restaurant even opened for dinner, so an empty restaurant and plenty of seating to choose from. The staff were extremely friendly and service was great! I I also enjoyed the music – relaxing instrumental tracks (Muzak) of popular songs, both really old and really new. Nice when you have a headache! 😉

IMG_4635

The reason why we enjoy having Yum Cha at King of Kings is because it is available all day and is made to order. The menu was small with 16 items to choose from that cost around $7-8 each. It didn’t take us long to make up our minds, we went ahead and ordered 7 dishes. Although I just found out on their website that there’s a much more extensive menu available, we’ll have to find out when we can get those options.

IMG_4634

Our guest for the weekend, Yoni, with long hair.

IMG_4637

Deep fried squid tentacles. This dish was generous but not as good as we’ve had before, I wish the batter was lighter and crispier.

IMG_4639

Panfried pork bun. Tasty dumplings with large amounts of nicely seasoned pork filling.

IMG_4640

Steamed BBQ pork bun. These buns were just okay, the filling was very gelatinous – too much flour added as filler.

IMG_4641

Deep fried prawn dumplings. Nice and huge crispy dumplings with lots of flavoured shrimp filling. Would definitely get again. Really weird sauce… I don’t even know how to describe it.

IMG_4643

Pan fried pork buns. Good sized buns with a tasty pork filling.

IMG_4644

Deep fried glutinous buns. My favourite of the night, I always love these glutinous buns and these ones had a lovely savoury meat filling.

IMG_4646

Steamed custard bun. Although the flavour was nice, the texture of the custard was too clumpy and dry, not the delicious creamy filling I was expecting.

IMG_4642

We were given fortune cookies to end our meal. So whose fortune was better?

IMG_4648

Total cost: $52 between 3 people – not bad! The quality of King of Kings yum cha is decent, although everything tastes much better when you are starving. Some of the dishes were really good and others were sub par. Would we come back again? Probably, because it’s so convenient from our house (less than 10 min bus ride). Although we’ve heard from many that Sunnybank is the place to go for dim sum so we’ll have to make our way down there one day!

King of Kings on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Caffe di Vita

Since being introduced by our friend Fiona last year, di Vita has been one our favourite places, that’s close to home, to have breakfast with friends.

IMG_4598

It was only natural that we suggested to Josiah and Danya that we meet up there for breakfast and to catch up 2 Fridays ago on May 17th.

As Mike and I were walking towards di Vita, we realized it was completely void of patrons. On the other hand, Alcove Deli & Cafe, the establishment across the street that opened since our last visit in Wilston, was buzzing with people.

IMG_4590

I guess it could’ve been a sign, but since we had always been happy with the food and service in the past, we opted to stick to our original plans and stay at di Vita.

IMG_4589

We were soon joined by Jos and Danya and after some catching up, proceeded to place our orders for food and drinks.

The cute couple!

IMG_4593

From observation, there was only one staff member on duty out front and it was clear she had more on her plate than she could handle – especially since a number of additional customers had stopped to dine by this time.

I don’t know if there’s been a change in kitchen staff but the food that eventually came out was a little sub par compared to the number of times we’ve had in the past.

Josiah had French toasted brioche with apple & rhubard compote & an orange & honey yoghurt. I’m pretty sure you don’t need me to comment on this dish. Although it tasted good, it did not look very appetizing!

IMG_4594

Danya had the simple Eggs and bacon with toast. She noted the herbed butter on the toast – unexpected but nice flavour.

IMG_4596

Mike quite enjoyed his Eggs Benedict with ham.

IMG_4591

And I had the wild mushrooms sauteed in butter, thyme & garlic on toasted turkish bread with grilled haloumi, english spinach salad, a rocket & basil pesto & shaved parmesan. Very generous amount of mushrooms and nicely toasted bread but lacking the flavour of thyme and garlic.

IMG_4592

Unfortunately, due to being understaffed, the coffees also took very long to come out… too long. Danya’s coffee actually arrived after she was done her meal.

IMG_4597

It was a good opportunity to catch up with friends and grab a bite, however, I will be slower to suggest di Vita next time. Perhaps we will give Alcove across the street a try – especially when it was so popular, their menu was appealing and their prices cheaper!

Caffe di Vita on Urbanspoon

New Shanghai – A return visit

Mike had been craving Xiao Long Bao (steamed dumplings filled with soup) for ages. Naturally, we were both excited to hear about the opening of New Shanghai and were eager to try it.

When it first opened, Mike and i stopped by two evenings but quickly left because of the huge line at the door. Last month, we decided on a whim to have lunch there, ran into a friend and took him along as well. Luckily there was no line up and the food was tasty with good service. Decided we would definitely return.

IMG_4451

IMG_4452

Recent dumpling cravings got the best of us which marked our second visit last Wednesday. Fortunately, the line wasn’t too long. We wrote down a table for 2, grabbed a number and waited to be called. Mike and I grabbed seats in front of the display window and passed the time watching workers make different kinds of dumplings.

IMG_4436

IMG_4435

Our number was soon called and we were seated in the middle of a bench between 2 other groups, which was fine with us.

IMG_4438

Staring at the menu 😛

IMG_4439

A little wasteful, but I do like how the menus double as place mats. They soak up all the soya sauce we drip, haha!

IMG_4437

We weren’t checked on after being seated but had no trouble hailing the server a few times to place our order, get some water, and getting little bowls for our sauces. They have soya sauce and vinegar at the table, but we both really wished they had some chili as well!

The food came out quickly and staggered, which was appreciated as there wasn’t much room at our seats.

New Shanghai Pan Fried Pork Buns (8pcs). Soft fluffy pastry with a crisp golden bottom. Inside, a nicely flavoured pork filling and a burst of hot soup – delicious!

IMG_4442

Pan Fried Pork Dumplings (8pcs). These ones are similar to the Xiao Long Bao as they have the same pork and soup filling but I like them better because of the thicker skin and crispy pan fried goodness!

IMG_4446

Lastly, we had Shepherd’s Purse & Pork Wonton Tossed with Sesame Butter, Red Chilli Oil & Spice (10 pcs). Wontons were nicely cooked and we loved the flavour combination sesame butter and red chili – will definitely be trying this at home! I also had no idea what Shepherd’s purse (green-spinach-looking component of the wonton filling) is but now I know it’s a plant also called Capsella bursa-pastoris.

IMG_4447

Food was great and we even ended up taking home leftovers. Prices are very good for the quality and number of dumplings you receive. We stuck to the dim sum menu but maybe next time we’ll try some of the mains. Need to come with a handful of friends though, that way we can try more things!

Also, I loved the decor, especially the mirrors on the walls, the stone floors and the wooden window and door designs.

IMG_4450

Restaurant was still bustling when we left, with an even longer line of people outside waiting to be seated.

IMG_4449

New Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Egg Bistro – A great find

The first thing we liked about finding our way to Egg Bistro: super easy to get to from our house via public transportation. Lovely, because it means we may have found a new favourite spot.

Warmly greeted by the friendly waitress as soon as we walked in, we were given the choice of either sitting in the air conditioned dining room or in the secluded and shaded courtyard. It was a lovely day, so we opted to sit outside.

IMG_4429

IMG_4414

IMG_4415

Service was prompt as we were immediately brought menus and water. Mike and I had a discount voucher – $19 for a value of $39, simply pay the difference if we order more. We were told that even though our voucher was for breakfast and brunch, we were more than welcomed to order from the lunch menu. A nice option as it was nearly lunch time and the lunch menu items were enticing as well.

IMG_4419

For drinks, Mike ordered a flat white ($4) and I got a Tea Drop Mint Strawberry Iced Tea ($4). Coffee was awesome and my iced tea was very light and refreshing – definitely good choices.

IMG_4422

IMG_4418

IMG_4420

Loved the fancy-design matching cutlery

IMG_4424

After a bit of deliberation, we both ended up choosing items off the brunch menu. Didn’t have to wait long, food came out quickly!

Mike ordered the smoked salmon on rye with cream cheese, spinach, coddled egg & caper hollandaise. Yummy hollandaise sauce, a nicely poached egg and generous amounts of smoked salmon – Michael was a pleased man.

IMG_4428

I got the spiced lamb sausages with quince, radicchio, cauliflower, kipfler & thyme dressing. Lots of components but loved the combination of flavours! The sweetness of the quince (my first time trying, not disappointed), the bitterness of the radicchio, the creaminess of the cauliflower, the poached egg, and of course, the lamb sausage – so yummy! Also a very generous portion, especially with the potatoes, I shared quite a bit with Mike and was still completely stuffed!

IMG_4425

Despite sitting outside in the back of the restaurant, we were checked on during the meal to make sure everything was good, and it was!

After eating, we stayed for a while and got some studying done! (Looking at lectures of skin conditions may be awkward in public spaces, haha). Never felt any pressure to leave, which was great and when we went to pay, our waitress even suggested next time grabbing the couches so we could spread out and be more comfortable.

IMG_4431

Home made soda syrups and jams for customers to buy. Mike and I plan to pick up something next time we’re back.

IMG_4432

IMG_4433

Come back you say? Yes, most definitely. We didn’t have expectations when we read the mixed reviews online, but we could not fault a single thing during our visit. Great service and great food. We went on a weekday in between breakfast and lunch – perhaps that’s the trick to avoiding the long wait times we read about. 😉

What could make a really enjoyable experience even better? Our waitress (forgot to get her name :() had packed up 2 pear and buttermilk muffins for us to take away. She didn’t want them going to waste and figured we would be peckish later – so nice! And they were delicious 😉

IMG_4434

Egg Bistro on Urbanspoon

Next Door Kitchen & Bar – Our best meal so far this year

We had an important mission on Friday (April 05) – to pick a random restaurant in South Bank and have some delicious food.

This might sound easy, but there are tons of restaurants to choose from and so many sound good! The second restaurant we stopped at, Next Door Kitchen & Bar had a menu that invited us in immediately. All tapas styled dishes that sounded amazing and the best part: no lining up on a Friday night.

IMG_4272

The restaurant was quite busy, but the staff joined 2 small tables together and we were seated almost immediately.

IMG_4250

Cocktails on the menu were quite appealing but we opted for wine instead. Mike and Meaghan shared a bottle of Dalrymple Pinot Noir and I got a glass of Kiss Chasey Rose.

IMG_4253

It’s not often when you look at a menu and think, “You can order whatever you want, I would be happy to eat it.” But that was the case!

IMG_4251

Because the dishes are meant to be shared, the restaurant recommends 2-3 plates per person. We decided on 7 plates to share, as we also had full intentions to finish the night off at Max Brenner for dessert – needed to save some room!

FRESH BAGUETTE, PEPE SAYA BUTTER & HOUSE MADE SARDINE BUTTER ($9.50) Baguette was nice and crispy on the outside, chewy and dense on the inside – just the way I like it. It was my first time trying sardine butter so I was a little apprehensive, but it was quite tasty!

IMG_4255

GOLDEN FRIED POLENTA CHIPS, SALSA VERDE, SOUR CREAM, PICKLED EGGPLANT ($14.50) The polenta chips were fried beautifully! 6 sticks, a perfect portion to share between 3 people. I especially liked the pickled egglant, yum!

IMG_4257

PEA ARANCINI, GOATS CURD AIOLI, CORIANDER OIL ($14.50) Arancini (fried rice balls coated in breadcrumbs) is something I’d never had until last year. I’ve only had it a few times since and it was delicious this time as well 🙂

IMG_4254

GARLIC PRAWNS, GREEN ONION PILAF, GREEN BUTTER & SNAIL BEIGNET ($16.50) Succulent prawns on a delicious bed of rice. The snail beignet was not strongly flavoured but very nice with the crisp crust.

IMG_4263

CURED OCEAN TROUT, PICKLED BEETROOT, KATAIFI CRISP, DILL MAYONNAISE ($16.50) I normally don’t like cured fish, but the trout was delicious and worked nicely with the beetroot. The kataifi crisp (made from shredded phyllo dough) tasted like a delicious vat of crispy butter. I’m glad it was shared between 3 people! 😛

IMG_4260

SEARED QUAIL, TRUFFLED WHITE BEANS, RAISIN & PINE NUT VINAIGRETTE ($22.50) The most tender quail I’ve ever had! It’s a hard decision but probably my favourite dish of the night! 😀

IMG_4268

TRUFFLE PARMESAN FRIES ($8.50) We couldn’t resist! Such a generous portion of delicious, crispy fries – you could smell the parmesan from across the restaurant and the aioli just made them even better. Nom nom nom!

IMG_4270

Service was extremely attentive throughout the night. Mike and Meaghan had their wine glasses continuously topped up. Plates were promptly cleared off the table and we never had to wait long between dishes. The only thing we would change: To serve the fries first rather than last so we can enjoy them alongside the other courses.

IMG_4266

Thank you Meaghan for treating us to a wonderful dinner! We will definitely be back and be recommending this restaurant to our friends 🙂

Next Door Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Finally trying out Gunshop Cafe

We’ve heard from numerous friends that Gunshop Cafe is a wonderful place, especially for breakfast and we’ve been meaning to try it out for 2 years now.

IMG_4219

Coincidentally during Meaghan’s stay, there was a 50% off flash deal for Gunshop Cafe! Unfortunately, we couldn’t do breakfast or lunch because of our clinic schedules but anticipated a good dinner.

We were booked for 6:15pm on April 02. The restaurant was still quite empty when we arrived so we were given our choice of seats. We initially sat outdoors towards the back of the restaurant but the lighting was quite dim so we ended up changing our minds and moving inside.

IMG_4208

IMG_4210

The restaurant is small but warm and inviting. Although the decor is minimal, it works well and makes bold statements. I especially liked the fan outdoors and how the ceiling lights cast dancing shadows upon the entire restaurant.

IMG_4215

It took us a while to make up our minds on what to order because everything on the menu looked really good.

We settled on drinks first, which was my first disappointment. It was a hot day so I asked for my tea to be iced rather than served hot – never been a problem at other restaurants in the past. Unfortunately, I ended up with lukewarm and extremely diluted tea.

IMG_4213

We started off with the $50 shared plate. I can’t remember all the items, but this plate included: goat cheese stuffed green olives, sorpressa, black pudding, marinated lamb cutlets with romesco sauce, Western Australian sardines. All shared plates also came with olive oil, dukkah, evoo+balsamic, charred sourdough.

IMG_4216

Overall, the plate was really good. Lamb was cooked perfectly and the romesco was delicious. The black pudding was heavily spiced and extremely tasty. The added pickles and mustard were good accompaniments. There were way too many olives as they are really salty and you can only have so many. Meaghan and I aren’t fans of sardines but Mike really enjoyed them.

IMG_4217

But the sourdough wasn’t charred, only lightly toasted which was unfortunate because the added flavour would’ve been really nice. The other disappointment – as we were almost finished the dish, we realized the dukkah and evoo+balsamic was never brought out. A big no no for us – always serve what you say!

IMG_4218 IMG_4220

We then moved onto our mains.

Meaghan had the confit duck leg with du puy lentils, potato fondant, roast tamarillo and heirloom carrots. Duck was WAY TOO salty and extremely tough and dried out – unexpected for meat that was supposed to be cooked long and slow in its own fat. Unfortunately, she ended up leaving a lot of it behind.

IMG_4221

Mike had the homemade gnocchi with tomato fondue, evoo, prawns and basil. He enjoyed it, although not very memorable.

IMG_4223

Lastly, I had the wild mushroom risotto with poached duck egg, truffle oil and cress. Oh my goodness, my dish was unbelievably bland. There was absolutely no salt in my dish and we joked that the salt that was supposed to go into my dish must’ve been put into Meaghan’s. Risotto was overdone and the taste of vinegar overpowered my poached egg 😦 Please use less vinegar! When asked how our meals were, I did let the staff know that there was absolutely no salt in my dish, although it went went unacknowledged. I didn’t send back my food because I hate doing that – makes me feel like a total snob but this dish would’ve been justified. Instead, I just added some salt and ate what I could, was already filling up from the shared plate anyway!

IMG_4222

The other thing I didn’t like, which I’ve mentioned before about other restaurants – random salads. Don’t get me wrong, watercress is one of my favourite greens, but when it happens to be placed on all 3 dishes, I think it’s there for decoration and not for flavour. It also makes the dishes look less appealing.

IMG_4224

Dinner started on a high and ended on a low for us, which is too bad. Thankfully we weren’t paying full price because that definitely wouldn’t have been worth it. However, we aren’t giving up on the Gunshop Cafe just yet. The service and ambiance were great, so we will definitely give it another chance – breakfast next time though!

Gunshop Cafe on Urbanspoon

Happy New Year!

Michael stayed to celebrate new year’s with my family, which consisted of champagne (okay, sparkling wine), snacks and board games. Hurray!

My mom didn’t stay up late with us because she had work the next day. Instead, we celebrated with an early breakfast at Perkins before taking her to work 🙂

Like previous years, our entire family was supposed to celebrate New Year’s on the 1st at my grandparents. Unfortunately, the majority of my relatives were really sick, so our family festivities were cancelled!

I hope you all had a wonderful time with your family and friends – either out partying or just having a good time relaxing! 🙂

Photo #303: Tender Frog Legs

December 27, 2012

Mike came into town and we were heading back to his place for a few days. Decided to stop for lunch at our favourite restaurant in Ottawa before hitting the road. I’d only ever had frog legs done the “Asian” way (battered and deep fried, then tossed in salt, butter and sauteed garlic) so thought this would be a nice dish to try – the frog was so tender!

Halifax Day 7: A Date with Michael @ Salty’s

December 10, 2012

So… our last day in Halifax! So sad that time has gone by so quickly!

Michael and I spent the morning running errands in terrible weather but also had the chance to relax before our lunch date.

We had reservations for 1pm at Upstairs at Salty’s. Salty’s is a 2 level restaurant, where downstairs is casual and upstairs is more formal.

Michael had specifically asked for window seats, which was a treat! It’s too bad the weather wasn’t nicer but it’s the company that matters right? 😉 You look tired!

We were the only diners (Again! It seems to happen to us quite a bit) so service couldn’t have been any better.

Apparently, Upstairs at Salty’s uses the same lunch menu as their downstairs restaurant, which was fine with us.

We started with a glass of white before making our decisions.

Love good bread at a restaurant. Our food came quite quickly, which is always a treat.

Mike ordered the Maple Ginger Salmon ($17.95)
(roasted fillet of salmon with Nova Scotia maple syrup & ginger glaze, mashed potato, and seasonal vegetable)

Seasonal vegetable was indeed singular! Haha. Mike said his dish was tasty, but personally, I think his dish was lacking. Come on… you couldn’t add in some other veggies? And a little bit of effort on plating would have made such a difference. I also really don’t know what the sprig of parsley is trying to achieve…

I got the Beer Battered Shrimp ($15.95)
(served with fries, lemon mayo, and coleslaw) – I substituted sweet potato fries with curry mayonnaise (+$2)

The shrimp was good but the best part of my dish were those sweet potato fries. I will gladly exchange anything for those fries any day. So nice and crispy on the outside and light on the inside. However, the plating was once again disappointing. This is a nice restaurant… Why are my sauces coming out in plastic containers? You were able to get my coleslaw into a little dish, couldn’t you go all the way with the sauces?

Overall, we had a good time, especially with the restaurant to ourselves. The service was great and I wish the sky cleared so we could enjoy the view even more but perhaps next time.

Next time you say? Well the food was pricey… tasted good but nothing great. However, the good service and location warrants another visit – but we’ll try dinner next time, that menu is much more enticing.

Salty's on Urbanspoon

Halifax Day 3: Lunch @ Talay Thai

December 06, 2012

It was late afternoon by the time we got into Halifax and we still hadn’t lunch. Needless to say, we were starving! We decided to eat at one of Michael’s favourite restaurants, Talay Thai. Because some restaurants close in the afternoon between lunch and dinner, our only thought while walking towards the restaurant was, “Please don’t be closed, please don’t be closed!”

And it wasn’t!

There were 3 other groups dining when we arrived and were immediately shown to our seats. Beautifully decorated restaurant. The servers were also dressed in traditional Thai clothing, which was really nice to see.

We were immediately offered water and after a chance to ask a few questions regarding the menu items, it didn’t take us long to make up our mind. You can check out their full menu with prices HERE

I believe these are portraits of the younger King Adulyadej (Rama IX) and Queen Sirikit. I apologize if I’m wrong!

Our food came out quite quickly – steaming hot deliciousness! Presentation was beautiful, we couldn’t wait to dig in!

Duck Curry (Red curry paste w/ duck meat, coconut milk, pineapple, grape, lime leaves, basil & tomato) $13.95

This dish was rich, spicy and super yummy. I was also pleasantly surprised that they used only duck breast cuts!

Garlic Squid – Pla Muek Tod Katem (Deep fried squid w/ garlic & pepper)
$13.50

Also delicious, although the squid was slightly chewy. The pieces were large and it was difficult to take bites. I noticed the squid was lightly scored before being battered and fried, perhaps scoring it a little deeper might help? Still tasted great!

Our tummies were very happy by the time we were done. So filling as well, we didn’t even have room to try their desserts.

Talay Thai has earned numerous awards and recognitions, some of which are posted HERE

Beautiful restaurant, very reasonable prices, delicious food, prompt and wonderful service. I will definitely make Talay Thai a must-stop whenever I’m in Halifax!

Talay Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Last day in Brisbane!

Today is sadly, our last day in Brisbane before heading back to Canada for the holidays.

Clearly, Brisbane is EXTREMELY sad to see us go, check out how hard it was crying:

This video was taken while Mike and I were trapped at King George bus station. We had a reservation for High Tea at 11am but couldn’t weather the storm to walk a few blocks to the restaurant so had to cancel instead.

All jokes aside, it’s been quite a day. The first storm hit around 11am (in the video), with more than 11 000 lightning strikes across Southeast Queensland. The second one started around 10pm tonight and is still going strong! Thunder and lightning non stop! Read more about it HERE

For our last meal in Brisbane, a long overdue dinner with Mario at Madtongsan II – my favourite Korean restaurant! We’ve been often enough as it’s been mentioned here, here, and here!

We arrived around 5:30pm and the spacious restaurant was already packed. We were quickly seated, given water and glasses were brought for our champagne.

Michael and I love the Bi Bim Bap here so that’s what we ordered – I got tuna and Mike got beef. Mario chose to have a pork belly stir fry with vegetables and rice! We also got a dumpling appetizer to share. Our dishes came out very quickly and mmm – the food never disappoints!

Crispy dumplings

My stone pot! Doesn’t that look delicious?!

Michael’s dish

Mario’s spicy, but delicious, dish that was making all of us cough 😛

So good, all gone!

The meal costed $49 between the three of us – not bad! 🙂 And more importantly, we made it home before the second storm 😉

Madtongsan II on Urbanspoon

Lunch at Cicada with a doll!

A doll with big beautiful blue eyes! 😉

A final get together with Kristen on Nov 15 at Cicada before heading back to Canada!

Mike and I had passed by this place since last year with the intention of trying it out so I was glad we finally did it, and with good company too!

We went on a Thursday around lunch – super busy! Even so, we were promptly shown to our seats and service was quick and very attentive. I did not expect to be checked on so many times, so that was nice! The seating and decor both inside and outdoors were varied but lovely – catering to all sizes of groups, whether for meals or just to have drinks.

We ended up getting drinks and sharing a plate of calamari, salt & szechuan pepper, soft leaves, cucumber, cherry tomato, vietnamese dressing and 2 servings of shoestring fries with aioli sauce. The calamari was nicely cooked (although so little!) and the salad was fresh with a nice light dressing. Is it a vietnamese dressing though? Well… I’ve never had such a dressing in my life. 😉 but still tasty!

Prices were within the range we were expecting – $18.50 for the calamari dish. Would we come back? Yes, but probably only if we were in the area!

Cicada on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Chez Nous Cafe

With our first exam (Nov 5) down and 2 more to go (Nov 7&8), Mike and I headed down to Roma on Nov 6 for some breakfast and a few solid hours of studying.

We had paid $19 for a voucher at Chez Nous Cafe worth $48. It included 2 breakfasts or lunches and 2 drinks.

The location couldn’t be more convenient – just across the street from Roma St Station.

We walked inside expecting a limited menu to choose from as part of our deal but it was a pleasant surprise to be told that we could pick anything off the extensive menu. The prices of each item would be added up and if the total was over $48, then we would just pay the difference.

We both ended up ordering the big breakfast with a coffee and a can of lemonade. There was plenty of outdoor seating, but we opted to sit inside with airconditioning and a slightly quieter atmosphere.

The food arrived quite quickly, and it was the nicest plated breakfast we’ve had in Brisbane. Most other places we’ve been to haphazardly chuck everything onto the plate so it was nice to see a little effort into food arrangement.

The big breakfast consisted of 2 pieces of buttered toast, 2 eggs, a lot of bacon, a sausage patty, 2 hashbrowns, 2 big slices of grilled haloumi and a serving of tomato relish. Everything was really nicely cooked, which was definitely a nice change from the last few breakfasts we’ve had out.

Our dishes were promptly cleared from the table and we settled into studying. Nov 6 was also Melbourne Cup Day so it became pretty busy and loud as more people came in to watch the horse races. But that was alright, we headed home for more studying on the comfort of our couch 😉

Friendly staff, fast service, good food, nice atmosphere… would we come back again? Definitely. Even without a voucher!

Chez Nous Cafe on Urbanspoon

Part 2: A Delightful Wednesday

October 24, 2012

Mike and I love food and wish we could go out all the time. Unfortunately, we are both poor students so can’t afford it! However, we do try to take advantage of as many great voucher deals as possible!

And tonight was such a deal: $69 for a 6 course degustation meal and a glass of bubbly for two at L’Academie! We had a good time there last year and thought it would be worth going a second time!

The week before we emailed in a reservation but never received a response. A little unexpected, but nothing a quick phone call couldn’t solve and we were booked for 7pm.

Always a nice change to get dressed up for a night out! 🙂

Upon arrival, we were shown to our table and our degustation meal was explained to us. Unfortunately, the server did not speak very good English and also did not know the menu very well. We missed half the things she was saying and couldn’t really ask her any questions regarding the food (Ie. she didn’t know what a palate cleanser was). Throughout the meal, we had 3 servers, which I find out and just adds to potential confusion.

The bread had been put out at our table ahead of time, but we also noticed the bread in the kitchen was just sitting in a basket, also exposed to air. Dry, crusty bread isn’t very nice! And the same problem we had the last time.

I remember the first time I was at a banquet and had more than one set of cutlery – gosh I was so confused, haha! Certainly know better now 😉

Hey dear!

We had a view of the kitchen from our seats

First course: Oyster 2 ways: Bloody Mary and au Gratin

I’m not a fan of oysters, especially raw oysters – but I figured I must try! Michael thought they were quite delicious but I simply couldn’t get past the aftertaste of raw oysters. The other components of the dish were good though! What I disliked: the undressed, out of place julienned carrot and onion. I also wish the chef had separated the oyster from the shell. Would make things a lot easier and look more appealing if patrons could just go straight to slurping the oyster!

Second course: Fried tofu with some Asian styled sauce with a side of salad.

Tofu was way overfried. Crisp but completely dry. Not enough sauce also made the dish quite tasteless, and I normally love tofu. And again, with an undressed and haphazard salad, this was our least favourite dish of the night.

By this time, they had not given us our glasses of bubbly so we had to request them. Unfortunately, it was a different server and he too, did not speak English well and couldn’t understand our request. It was fine though, as he asked the lady who initially seated us and she promptly brought them out. Seems like they just forgot, so no problem! In case you were wondering, it was 2 glasses of Charles Vienot Brut Cuvee.

Third course: Strawberry & citrus sorbet (We think! Couldn’t figure out if it was citrus or just lemon)

Nice but a little too sweet for a palate cleanser! I found the portion a little large as well.

Fourth course: Chicken skewer on a bed of greens

Chicken was amazing. Crisp on the outside, tender and perfectly cooked on the inside, I wish there were 2 skewers! The salad was a little weird for me, again. Raw zucchini skins are definitely not the tastiest things you can put in salad

Fifth course: Thyme and garlic pork fillet on Paris mash, saffron carrot & Blaukraut (got the full name off the menu on the counter beside us)

A very hearty dish, we were definitely getting full now! Pork was perfectly cooked and made me wish there was more than 3 slices and less mashed potatoes! The sauce was so overpowering (tasted mostly of Worcestershire sauce actually) that it made the Blaukraut (German braised red cabbage in red wine) seem like a really odd and weak-flavoured addition to the dish. Nevertheless, still quite tasty.

Sixth and last course: Choc Hazelnut Gateau

Yummy! The other time we had dessert here, it was a crude and dry brownie. This cake (even though it was precut and refrigerated) was moist, decadent, full of hazelnut crunch and the serving size was enormous! I would’ve been more than happy with a piece half that size, but who was complaining!

With our bellies bursting with happiness, we said thank you and headed home 😀

Overall, we had a good experience. Staff were friendly but really need to work on learning their menu items and ingredients. Some dishes were quite tasty but we hated the undressed filler salads that came with many plates. Dessert was super generous and delicious which ended the night on a high note. We understand L’Academie is a training restaurant, and with such mixed reviews on Urbanspoon, we definitely did not walk in with any expectations.

Will we come back?

For a good price we would. But I think we’re more interested in trying out a new place next time.

L'Acadamie on Urbanspoon

A wonderful Friday surprise

Last Friday (October 19), Mike and I decided to have lunch at The Coffee Club in West End after PBL. We had bought a voucher that was expiring within a few days – $25 for 2 breakfasts or lunches and 2 glasses of wine/juice, so had to use it!

After a delicious lunch, we did what we usually do when we go out for food: hang around for a few hours and study. During that time, I got a message from Joseph saying “OSCE marks are out!”

I told Michael excitedly and then with trembling hands and a pounding heart, we logged onto Blackboard to check our scores. I don’t know If you remember, but a few weeks ago I wrote a blog after the OSCEs detailing my experiences and the fear that I may have failed.

I held my breath and loaded the page:

Yay! I passed! Michael was slower and was even more nervous to load his page, but he passed too! Yay us!

I was unbelievably happy. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Michael and I booked our flights back to Ottawa for the second week after final exams in case we’d have to redo the exam but now we can have a real holiday in Australia before going home instead!

Headed out after studying and stopped in Bent Books – sooo many books! Loved it!

Three Monkeys Coffee & Tea House on Urbanspoon

We then decided to stop at Three Monkeys Coffee & Tea House for a slice of celebratory cake. 😀 Our friend Lauren introduced this lovely cafe to us last year. Although it has great ambiance, cozy indoor and breezy outdoor seating, their cakes are unfortunately quite average while overpriced. Nevertheless, fun times! And make sure to check out the decor if you stop by! All the different “See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil” monkeys really gives the cafe its name!

Kimono on Urbanspoon

Decided to call it a day and head home. But during the walk back to Cultural Centre bus stop, we passed by Kimono – a sushi train restaurant we’d never seen before. Sushi is our weakness… so we decided we had to give it a try!

We were loudly greeted by the chef as soon as we walked into the door and felt immediately welcomed. A server showed us to our seats and briefly outlined the dinner options, which included an AYCE buffet option! Alas, we weren’t hungry enough for that so we ordered a few rolls instead. They were made on the spot, well priced and all were quite yummy!

When we went to pay, the server commented that we didn’t eat much but we told her we’ll definitely be back!

What an amazingly happy day! 😀 😀

Food Review: Malt Dining

It was Michael’s birthday on Friday but due to an OSCE practice session Saturday morning, we held off celebrating until that night.

With a 94% rating on urbanspoon, I decided on Malt for his special dinner and we weren’t disappointed!

Warmly greeted and shown to our table as soon we climbed up the stairs into The Attic. Michelle, our server for the night, was lovely and extremely friendly.

Mike started with Konynen Farm Rabbit Galantine with Walnuts, Tarragon, Apple, Beetroot and my entree was Pan Seared Hervey Bay Scallops with Watercress Potage, Compressed Tomato, Black Olive. Wine for the night: A bottle of Yealands Pinot Gris.

Michael’s dish was delicious! Rabbit was juicy and dish was perfectly seasoned. My scallops were a little underdone and two of them had absolutely no sear. The dried black olives added great flavour but the dish was overall too salty, so I was slightly disappointed!

I felt like the restaurant could use a little more lighting. There were only a few dim overhead lights and a single tea light at our table, making it nearly impossible to visualize the colours on our plates.

In such a small dining area, we didn’t want to continually use the flash on our point-and-shoot so unfortunately, no food pictures!

Next, our mains. Michael had Milly Hill Sous Vide Lamb Rump Herb Gnocchi, Spring Vegetables, Neck Jus and I had the Sous Vide Grimaud Duck Breast and Confit Leg Artichoke Pudding, Braised Napa Cabbage.

Again, Mike’s dish was beautiful with the lamb against the colourful spring vegetables, nicely seasoned as well. My duck was cooked really well and had the greatest crisp to its skin. Unfortunately, the confit leg was a little too salty (perhaps my tolerance for salt is just lower than most people) and the dish was not as visually appealing as it could be. Brown duck with golden potatoes on a bed of napa cabbage (which is nearly colourless) soaked in a brown coloured sauce… you get the picture. Delicious, but I think another choice of vegetables would have made the dish stand out more. The artichoke pudding was really interesting, never had anything like it. The outside looked like a tater tot/potato gem but oozed creamy smooth pudding on the inside. Yummy!

Did I mention there was live piano music throughout dinner? Yes! Their grand piano is definitely not just there for decoration!

For dessert, we shared the Passionfruit Soufflé with Vanilla Yoghurt Sorbet, Citrus Biscotti. Souffle was amazing! It had a really nice height and was super light and fragrant. The sorbet tasted like citrus even though the menu said vanilla yoghurt but still very tasty. The biscotti, however, was the hardest thing my teeth have ever tried to bite into. Perhaps I had to let it soak in the sorbet, but it really shouldn’t be so teeth shattering.

I also wish we were checked on while eating. It would’ve made it even more enjoyable to be asked how the food was and be given a chance to ask any questions, I’m sure everyone was quite busy!

Overall a really good and satisfying dinner.

I would definitely recommend the experience to my family and friends… but I do look forward to trying other restaurants before coming back 🙂

4/5

Malt Dining on Urbanspoon

Vietnam Week 2: Monday, Oct 31 – Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011

More hospital work!

There was A LOT of downtime. After their morning rounds, doctors would spend hours writing up charts while we sit around and twiddle our thumbs. Luckily, we had our Oxford handbooks, otherwise we would’ve died of boredom. That almost happened anyways, numerous times. We also had tons of pent up frustration as we were repeatedly left on our own and ignored.

Soon, we realized that being polite and waiting around to be spoken to would get us nowhere. Instead, we began to track down doctors and declare that we would follow them. Surprisingly, they preferred this. They are too busy to ask us to come with them, so they appreciated that we came to them… okay then!

We saw and learned, a lot!

  • What tests do you perform to diagnose meningitis? Dengue fever? Malaria?
  • How can you narrow down which snake bit the patient? What do you treat them with?
  • What blood disorder do you find in snake bite patients?
  • What effects of Dengue fever do you have to watch out for? How do you monitor them?
  • How can you tell from CSF components what kind of meningitis the patient has? Is it fungal, bacterial, viral, or parasitic?
  • When would a patient be more susceptible to fungal meningitis?
  • What are the most common organisms that cause meningitis?
  • What is Stevens Johnson Syndrome (Erythema Multiforme)? Why do you see it so often in VN?
  • And so much more!

During the first 2 weeks, we also had a 6th year medical student, Ha, with us from Hungary. She is originally from Saigon, and took us to a number of really neat and yummy places to eat and hang out.

One of them was street food at it’s best. Sit on these little stools and call out your order. They have amazing dumplings, fresh spring rolls called ‘Bo Bia’, and cold tofu! Yumm! They’re open in the evening, but come early because the food will run out quickly! On the corner of Le Thanh Ton (and a street I don’t remember) close to Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh night market and surrounding areas

This is the Bitexco Financial Tower – the tallest building in Saigon with 68 floors.

She also took us to her 3 friends’ cafe called, ‘Da Tung Thay’ which literally translates to ‘Was Once Seen’ or ‘Deja Vu’ This gem is found at the end of an alley off 89 Ham Nghi St, with no identifying signs, not even a store sign.

Inside, it is full of charm and uniqueness. Most furnishings and decorations in this cafe are items from their past. Old catalogues and newspapers have been ripped and used as wallpaper, shelves are adorned with comic books from their childhood, bricks from one of the owners’ old house makes up a portion of the restaurant’s wall, etc.

We stopped by late at night for a drink when it was empty and tranquil. The owners insisted that we come by again for lunch, where they serve neat old fashioned meals. They promised it would be different but delicious and meet our expectations, and we promised to try and come back.