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Archive for October, 2009

Melbourne Food Review: Red Spice Road, McKillop St., CBD

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Red Spice Road Dining Room

I have heard, and read, many a good thing about Red Spice Road. The deal was clinched when a few colleagues had gone over for a dinner early one evening and came back absolutely raving about their early bird menu. We were going to see Beatlemania* on the night so we thought we would pop in for an early dinner. They have an early bird dinner special which is three shared main courses and shared entree for $25.

Look, let me get straight to the point before you read on: it was one of the worst dining experiences I have ever had. In my 2.0 words: epic fail. And I will spend the rest of this post telling you why.

betel leaves with chicken filling

(betel leaves with chicken filling)

We got there at around 6pm which was the time we made a booking for. The dining room was nice and spacious and practically empty. We were probably one of the three groups of people dining there at the time. My first thought was oh no communal table. Be aware that all seats are communal (except for the private room). Personally I’m not a fan of communal table unless the main is less than $10. However, that’s not by any stretch of imagination my main gripe.

Believe it or not, all of the empty tables and seats, they seated two of us the first two seats near the entrance. Literally 1 metre away from the cash register and waiters’ bench where cutleries, water jugs and all sorts of things are kept. Because it wasn’t busy, we constantly had about 3-4 waiters congregating right behind our backs chattering away.

the bar

(the bar – not very far away)

Worse still, the bar in the next room was going absolute full blast. The noise was so loud and distracting. The music was very fast and just pounding and uncomfortable. That wasn’t the only thing fast. The service was extremely fast. In fact, it was so uncomfortably fast. If you can imagine that. Our entree arrived within 5 minutes of ordering. Our mains no more than 2 minutes later. I didn’t even finish taking photos of the entree before our mains arrived. The second our plate looked half way empty, one of the very efficient waiter wanted to clear it away. I had to keep telling them to leave us (the fuck) alone. Really, by the end of the meal, I was that pissed off. Even Mekong on Swanston St. doesn’t rush you that badly.

crispy pork belly with salad

(crispy pork belly in sweet sauce with Asian-style coleslaw)

It felt extremely rush, in and out. And oh, because it seemed we had the worst seats in the house and there were about 200 other empty seats on the other side of the dining room? I asked if we could move. The reply was no. They were fully booked. Really? At 6pm? When the after work drink crowd was still going full force next door? And that we were there for the early bird which required us to leave by 7.15 anyway? That’s right. No can do. We would not move you. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kat

October 31st, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Melbourne Food Review: Colour of Earth, Queen Victoria Market

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pizza selection

Nicole and I have now more or less gotten into a habit of going to Queen Victoria Market for our fish, I have been going back to Colour of Earth a couple of times instead of the usual hot dog and borek (cos you know you cannot possible eat that every time you go to Queen Vic. Admit it, some of you do).


Colour of Earth has a lot of interesting little pizzas (or as I have been corrected by Liz, the proper plural for pizza is pizze). They have a few different pizza base including gluten free ones made from black rice, maize, etc. So you can actually buy takeaway base and they have psychedelic colour. Very awesome.

cosmopolitan pizza

(Cosmopolitan – $6.80)

On the day (and I have been back a couple of times since but I haven’t been taking photos) I decided on Cosmopolitan, which was black rice base. It looks kinda funny but it tasted really good. It had ricotti, pesto, mushrooms, mozzarella and sweet chilli sauce. I know sweet chilli sauce on pizza? What the hell? But it was good. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kat

October 27th, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Broccoli, Lemon and Shallot

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spaghetti with asparagus, broccoli, lemon and shallot

I make this dish when the vegetables are really nice and fresh. I guess it’s my version of pasta primavera. Last week, we ended up with some really good asparagus from the farmers’ market. I also made it with broccoli and asparagus since. It’s superb. I know it doesn’t look all that interesting to many carnivores out there but when made wit fresh asparagus and broccoli, the vegetables are beautifully sweet.

blanching asparagus

For two:

  1. 6 thick asparagus
  2. 1/2 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
  3. 3 shallots, sliced
  4. 1 tbsp of pine nuts
  5. 1 small lemon
  6. 250g of spaghetti
  7. 3 tbsp of spinach and almond pesto*
  8. 80 g. of butter
  9. 1 tbsp of olive oil
  10. 1/2 tsp of saltasparagus and shallot

Use a peeler and peel back the tough bit of the asparagus stems. Bring a large pot of  salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook for about 5 minutes. Before blanching the whole asparagus stems and broccoli florets in the boiling water for 1 minute. Remove the vegetables, set aside.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kat

October 25th, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Melbourne Food Review: Café No 5, Centre Place, City

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peppered eggs florentine

Maya had just come back from Raya at home in Singapore and she was desperate for a good cup of Melbourne coffee. So during a lunch time (she had an extra day off the lucky thing).

We decided on Centre Place/Degraves St. area since it’s the closest place where there is the most number of cafés in small areas. We landed at Cafe No. 5 because it looked nice and cosy.


(sorry about the picture, it’s the only one I have of the wall)

The shop itself was rather funky. We plonked ourselves on the communal table. The walls were adorn with paintings and other interesting artwork. Maya promptly ordered a coffee. I believe it was her second one in about 3 hours of landing in Melbourne and since I spent 13 months in Singapore, I can vouch that Starbucks is considered good coffee in Singapore. So enough said about the state of coffee affairs in the little island nation. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kat

October 21st, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Som Tum Thai (Green Papaya Salad, Thai Style)

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som tum Thai (green papaya salad, Thai-style)

Som tum, I’m led to believe, is actually Laotian in origin. The salad of green papaya is actually quite common among a few countries in South East Asia. The Thai version flowed through from the north east of the country, bordering Laos*

So when the dish reached Central Thailand, it became, well, I guess bastardised hence the word Som Tum Thai (as opposed to Som Tum Lao). The main difference is the inclusion of sweetness by use of sugar and the addition of peanuts. Most som tum peddlers in Thailand will sell different varieties of som tum. This one is my favourite.

som tum ingredients

(clockwise from left: payaya and carrot, palm sugar, snake beans, tomato, lemon, roasted peanuts, dried prawns, chilli and garlic)

I’m not too sure referring to this dish as a salad does it justice. The vegetables and other ingredients are pounded in a pestle and mortar with seasonings (fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice, tamarind) added one at a time while being pounded and churned. Like Josh said ‘it’s strange how you people beat the hell out of your salad.’

fish sauce, tamarind paste and my awesome pestle and mortar

(fish sauce, tamarind paste and my awesome pestle and mortar)

I have this little gadget that slices the green payaya into strips which can be bought at Asian grocery store. I haven’t got a picture of it at the moment but I’ll get it up later. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kat

October 20th, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Melbourne Food Review: Curry King (The Rasoi), Bridge Rd., Richmond

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my plate of yummy curries

It was Sunday night and I feel like going out for dinner. We figured since we had a very expensive night out at, um, well I can’t remember where anymore, we wanted something cheap and tasty.

Curry King

So I had a quick look at Very Cheap Eats and decided on an interesting sounding place called The Rasoi so we hopped into a car and drove ourselves down to up to Bridge Rd cornered Church St. We got there and guess what? There was no Rasoi! In its place, there was an Indian restaurant called ‘Curry King’. Frankly speaking, I hesitated. I mean, wouldn’t you? I generally tend to stay away from restaurants whose names bear zero creativity and I happened to think Curry King falls into that category.

Curry King, Bridge Rd., Richmond

We went in anyway and I’m glad we did. I’m really not too sure why the place is called Curry King now but it seemed like it was still the same restaurant as the menu printed all of the restaurants under its chain. There seemed to be quite a few of them and one of them (not this one) was called Gujarati Rasoi. My guess is that they renamed themselves somehow. The restaurant was rather nice with old brick walls and minimal decorations. It was almost empty saved for a couple of other tables. It had a big flat screen with Indian music videos playing of course (as you do) but overall it was quite charming. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kat

October 19th, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Nicoise Salad with Seared Tuna (My Way)

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nicoise salad with seared tuna

I am going through a fish phase since I discovered that I can easily run to the Queen Vic during the lunch hour to be the best fish imaginable. I have been wanting to make something with fresh tuna for a while and I figured the classic nicoise salad would be ideal. I bought some really nice yellow fin tuna steaks and seared it quickly before tossing it into the salad.

fresh yellowfin tuna

I had all the ingredients for the nicoise salad except for the actual nicoise olives and dijon mustard. So I improvised a little with the dressing. I decided to marinate the tuna in the salad dressing and since my new thyme was growing rather nicely, I thought I would make the dressing a combination of thyme and lemon zest.

tuna marinade and salad dressing

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kat

October 18th, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Penne with Cauliflower, Peas, Mint and Breadcrumb

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penne with cauliflower, peas, mint and breadcrumb

I bought half of a really nice cauliflower from the farmers’ market the other day and decided that I wanted to make something simple with it. I was inspired by a recipe from Matt Moran’s new book When I Come Home which featured in this month’s Delicious magazine. It was originally made with orecchiette and I didn’t have any. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kat

October 13th, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Cupcake Drive

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butterfly cupcakes

(Butterfly cupcakes – with strawberry cream)

We had a cupcake drive today to support breast cancer awareness so a few of us baked some cupcakes. The theme was pink. I tried to make mine pink but that kinda failed. Heather’s butterfly cupcakes were gorgeous with fluffy, buttery texture (I asked for recipe) with delicious strawberry cream in the middle.

vanilla cupcakes with buttercream icing

(Vanilla cupcakes with butter cream icing)

I’m not too sure who made this – I was told it’s just packet cupcake but it was rather nice. The cake texture was good too (better than mine anyway!).

cinnamon cupcake with cream cheese frosting

(cinnamon cupcake with cream cheese frosting)

Nicole made cinnamon cupcakes with pink cream cheese frosting. She also made another chocolatiest flourless cake with cream and strawberry. It was very rich and yummy.

cardamon cupcake, saffron and rosewater frosting with pistachio

(cardamon & lemon cupcake, saffron and rosewater frosting with pistachio)

I made cardamon and lemon cupcake with saffron- rosewater frosting and pistachio. It was based loosely on Persian Love Cake (from Epicurious) but I modified it so much that it looked nothing like the original. I did attempt to add a bit of pink colouring to it but it just wouldn’t turn pink. The cupcake tasted wonderful but the texture seemed all wrong and the frosting needed work. I need to modify this further.

vanilla cupcake with butter cream frosting

(vanilla cupcake with butter cream frosting #2)

These was by far the most well done cupcakes. The cupcake was beautifully vanilla (I suspect real vanilla rather than extract) and the butter cream which was also perfectly executed. Sometimes something so simple could be so gorgeous. I have no idea who made it but I’m definitely finding out and getting recipe.

Umm. Yes. I did eat 5 cupcakes today. Why? Is that bad?

Written by Kat

October 12th, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Posted in Special Event

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Melbourne Food Review: The Grand Tofu, Glen Waverley

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yong tau foo selection

Gayle, Murray, Josh and I went looking for a dumpling place on the main strip of Glen Waverley. Gayle, being a local, was completely out of touch with the Asian bit of Glen Waverley. Tsk tsk, Gayle! Unfortunately, it was 11am (we tried to make brunch because Josh and I had to be at Richard’s later for dungeons and dragons… oh did I just type that out? damn) and no dumpling place was opened. So I figured we might try The Grand Tofu instead.

more yong tau foo selection

There are actually two separate The Grand Tofu (no, I wasn’t the only one who noted this anomaly) on the same strip of King’s Way in the good old Glen. I suppose the shop was so popular that they might as well open two. I have been to the other one back in uni year. Zing and Cindy then boasted that they did really good yong tau foo. Frankly, I didn’t really quite know what yong tau foo was however when I got there I realised it was the noodle soup dishes where you get to pick ingredients of what goes into the soup. I have had it in Malaysia before (although the words yong tau foo didn’t really ring a bell). And then later in Singapore at the MINDEF canteen where I worked ($2! how awesome was that?)

fried dumpling

(pan-fried dumplings – $6?)

To cut the long story short, we ventured there that day. The decor was nicer than I remembered the other joint to be. Gayle, Murray and I all wanted to try the yong tau foo but Josh had wanted to be boring and decided on a plain old wonton noodle soup.  For the yong tau fu orderers (is that a word?), the waiter asked us for the choice of soup: braised (plain chicken stock), tom yum (Malaysian version of tangy, mildly spicy tom yum), and laksa. We were then given a ticket with instructions on how many pieces of yong tau foo we could choose.

pickled ginger

So we all crowded around the selection and chose our poison. We also ordered pan-fried dumplings since we figured we were there for dumplings in the first place. The dumplings were all right. Nothing special. The ginger that came with it was rather nice though. I suspected they didn’t put that much efforts into the dumplings. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Kat

October 11th, 2009 at 9:11 pm