Friday, April 25, 2008

Chocolate Buddha @ Federation Square

Tonight I took the time out of work & study to have dinner with my siblings. We decided we wanted something close by and Asian. I don't know why but I can never get sick of eating Asian. Me and my sisters ruled out Italian right at the start in unison and I think it was probably due to the fact that we've had a little bit too much of Italy having had gone there for almost a month couple months back.

I made the bold choice and picked: Chocolate Buddha @ Fed Square. Having read up on this restaurant in the Good Food Guide and from talk of its stylish decor. We agreed to give this place a try.

Sushi Chef

It's pretty obvious how it got its name from - not something you would connect with to a Japanese restaurant. But upon entering the joint, you are greeted by a row of fat buddha figurines all aligned on the wall just beyond the communal tables. It was a busy night since it was Anzac Day, we could see massive crowds inside and outside the restaurant chowing while being entertained by a Anzac war film broadcasted on the big screen tv right in the middle of the square. We were seated almost straight away and was greeted by a paper menu which doubled as a table mat. Browsing through the menu, we were delighted to see many choices to choose from - noodles, rice, bento, sushi/sashimi and many Japanese appetisers. Over the page, a full drinks menu ranging from wines, to spirits, to imported beers and flavored teas were all available.

My sister Laura ordered the 'healthy' dish - Tofu Ankake(?), which was basically tofu simmered in ginger & soy cooked with chinese cabbage, carrots and mushrooms atop warm Japanese rice.

Tofu Ankake

My other sister, Chloe opted for the 'safe' option of Kare Tendon, which consisted of deep-fried panko-crusted ebi (prawns) doused with Japanese curry sauce, garnished with red peppers, mushrooms & onions. And as for me, being a bit more adventurous and garnering quite an appetite ordered the Miso Shiru (miso soup), Edamame (Soy Beans), Chef's Special: Seared Prawns with citrus dressing, Grilled eggplants and another Chef's Special of Beetroot & Mint Sushi.


Beetroot & Mint Sushi

Grilled Eggplants

Service was brisk at the start, but it waned down when the waitresses felt they had already catered to your orders. It was difficult to flag for attention, especially when most of the waitresses seemed to be hanging out back in the kitchen than on the floor. I couldn't help but overhear the couple next to us trying to order glasses of water, which the waitress seemed to brush off as if it wasn't her job to offer any in the first place. We received the same treatment when I ordered extra dishes of Salmon sushi, the grilled eggplants and the beetroot sushi. I would've imagined their willingness to serve since I was spending more money. Taste-wise, the food wasn't too bad - my sisters enjoyed their dishes. I felt my miso soup was a bit bland; the grilled eggplant was oily and had a slight 'numbing' taste to it, and the beetroot sushi a bit tasteless. But the seared prawns were definitely my favourite by far, though its price tag was the bigger attraction (3 banana prawns for $15) - sorry i finished the dish before remembering to take a foto of it! *my bad*.

In total, the whole dinner cost us (3 people) $108 including drinks.

But all in all, it was agreeably better than Wagamama though the service is still questionable. I have to add that when I got my change after paying for the meal, I was speaking to the couple sitting next to us, and can u believe it when the waitress took all the change thinking i left her a big tip? (There was about $45 there!) I felt that it was absurb that she had not ask me whether she could take the change, and the couple agreed. Goes to show the sort of attention they would only give to you - your money!

Chocolate Buddha
Federation Square
cnr Flinders & Swanston St,
Melbourne, Victoria
(03) 9654 9488

P.S. Sorry about the bad photos - had to resort to my sister's 2.0 megapixel camera phone.

Tomorrow Night (hopefully): Oyster Little Bourke! Will try to post up a review & pics!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Steamed bananas.......Mmm


Not much to report these couple of days, because I haven't been going out much due to being:
1. Swamped with assignments - 2 due next week, and another 2 due the week after!

Resulting in me having to....

2. Take a break off work for the next couple of days, which meant I had to be thrifty;

While at the same time....

3. Am forced to save up just enough to fund my birthday 'party' this weekend... dinner + cake + movie *GOSH!*

So basically, as much as I would love to go out, have fun and go indulge my tastebuds, my studies have taken over every aspect of my life. (It's interesting how they're all connected in some way or another.)

On a tastier note, my green plantain (or sugar/cooking) bananas which I bought a few weeks ago have ripened nicely and I was able to make them the way I always do back home in Malaysia - cooked in steam (dont know if that's a Malaysian thing or Chinese thing, but I read that people in Latin America have many uses for them - most of which of course are for consumption). This tastes fantastic when served in warm coconut milk & sago. Or even with ice cream and maple syrup. I personally like them on its own. *YUM*

Beautifully ripened plantain bananas

Blackened skin due to being cooked

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pacific BBQ Cafe, Lonsdale St

Hey foodies (or whoever out there who reads my page anyway),

I know I've been MIA for a bit again. Not entirely excusable, but I don't often have the time to go out to eat so it is quite a rare opportunity for me to blog about a cafe or a restaurant that I come across. And it so happens I was able to try out the new Pacific BBQ House on Lonsdale St (which Mellie reviewed about a week ago. It was a pity I did not bring along a camera, eventhough it was sorta my friend's bday. It wasn't anything big to start with, so it didn't cross my mind to take my camera with me. While waiting to be seated, I could see trays and trays of roast duck, roast pork and 'char siu' (bbq pork) get transported to & from the kitchen almost every 5 minutes. Then there were the waiters who were briskly serving up plates of roast meats, rice and a side of bakchoy to almost every table occupied.

As much as I know how much the roast meats are their speciality, I just wasn't feeling roasts that night so I opted for the very interesting Crocodile Meat in XO Sauce over rice ($12.80). Okay, now I have to say, the XO sauce didn't taste much like XO sauce to me....or maybe they didn't use the Lee Kum Kee brand that my tastebuds have grown accustomed to. It tasted a bit like 'har mai' (dried shrimps) mixed with oyster sauce and chopped chillies and garlic. Maybe that's what XO sauce is made of, but I would've favoured a bit more spice. But anyway, onto the crocodile meat...well...when u look at it, it does resemble fish fillets, only thinner. Taste-wise, there really isn't much to say about it. It doesn't taste fishy or chicken-y or any other meat-type categories you can think of, though the texture did remind me beef? Yeah, it felt pretty rubbery when I was chewing on it. I think at one stage I was even going to gag at a piece that wouldn't break after having gnawed on it for awhile. But don't get me wrong though, I'm not trying to criticise that crocodile meat is inedible. I'm just describing it as it is. It's probably not as tender as other game say, kangaroo, deer or ostrich meat but it is distinct in its own right. And for those who aren't afraid to try something new can and should get a taste of it at Pacific BBQ House. However, I would more likely recommend visiting the Richmond or South Yarra branches as they have more choices. This one though, has its own flair in serving very typical 'cha chan terng' hong kong cafe -type food, such as Roast Meats, Noodles (incl. Vermicelli, Egg, Macaroni, Instant (?!), Flat), Rice Dishes (incl. baked with cheese), Claypots and even Steaks to boot.

Pacific BBQ Cafe
213 Lonsdale Street,
Melbourne 3000
(03) 9663 9288

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Oriental Spoon, La Trobe St

I'm so glad to know I finally have some time to really rediscover the joys of dining out. My previous inhibitions were brought about by guilt from overeating and then there's my painstaking issues with cumbersome allergies. But I've come to realise that I can still enjoy food without crossing those boundaries. So to start off, I shall reestablish my title as a full-fledge flogger by providing an insight into a recent dining experience (it was just tonight, actually) I had at:

Oriental Spoon

Now, I've actually wanted to try this place for a long time now, but somehow or rather, my family & I always end up going back to Seoul House. Sure, Seoul House does Korean BBQ quite well. In fact, they actually have a very extensive menu and give out lots of various free accompaniments. But what made Oriental Spoon special i felt, was its client base - the young & hip. This place seemed to attract them like bees to honey. And the place is huge enough as it is, yet u can see countless people waiting near the entrance trying to get a seat.

Luckily for us, my sister had her friend book a table for us this afternoon. And slowly but surely, we drilled our way through the noisy crowd and onto our table. Since it was our first time there, we were sorta having trouble deciding what to order. But before we came, I did a little research into the restaurant through the reviews made by tummy rumbles a while ago on food recommendations. Based on what I recalled through their post, I made the decision to get the KimChi Pancake, Marinated Meat Set, Baby Octopus Bulgogi and Tofu Casserole. I knew more or less that these were safe bets of things to order. Unfortunately for me, I never expected them to turn out to be so HUGE!! It was too much food for the 4 of us - 3 girls + 1 guy! (And trust me, we are relatively large eaters!)

KimChi Pancake
(The last one left was mine. It was all gone before I could whip out my camera!)

Marinated Meat Set
(with two cute button mushrooms)

Tofu Casserole
(it's actually something like a spicy seafood & tofu soup)

Baby Octopus Bulgogi
(as u can tell, half of the dish is already gone...)

Overall, I would say that this place is within the same calbre of Seoul House in terms of flavor and choice. Taking note that the price ($110 for everything + 4 drinks) and service was unexpectedly better than the aforementioned. However, it's slightly rigid menu which did not allow us to order ox tongue (a favourite of ours) on its own, left us much to desire from.

Oriental Spoon,
Cnr Elizabeth St & (254) La Trobe St,
Melbourne 3000
(03) 9654 9930

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pot Luck @ Nadia's

Hey foodies,
It's been what...almost a year since I last blogged?!?! GOSH, time has flown so quickly. I mean, I was just so busy with my studies that I couldn't even find the time to enjoy all the great food this city has to offer. But nonetheless, I am bringing sexy back - with more pictures and hopefully, more surprises.
And to start it all off, just some pictures from a recent 'pot-luck' at a friend's house, which was exciting and fun as many of them have never "done one of these before".
I was a bit tied up with work and all, so I just ended up bringing salad (and little easter eggs and some lemon cookies from Italy *mmm*). But as u can see, others have made better attempts!

The Group

The Group (again)

Food Galore!

<3 align="left">

Note: I promise I will post up stories of my travels to Europe later on. So keep checking in soon!