Sunday, July 27, 2008

Shanghai Nights, Ashfield - The Super post

So after my last visit to New Shanghai, I had a debate with my friend as to which restaurant is better. After much debate, the only conclusion we came to, was to go back to Shanghai Nights and try the same dishes again to do a proper comparison. Poor us, having to go taste test again ;)

Daikon radish buns

The lovely waitress at Shanghai Nights recommended that I try their daikon buns. Since the daikon is in season, they've made a new bun with grated daikon, chinese sausage and dried shrimp. I actually really really liked this bun. I think I'm so used to Shanghai buns always containing meat, that the daikon radish version is really refreshing. Although it was also very filling, we took 2 of the buns home.

Xiao Long Bao

I think these were slightly better than the New Shanghai version. Just slightly, I would've been happy to get a steamer full of these from either restaurant.

Hokkien Fried Rice

Cold windy weather calls for comforting, saucy fried rice. Mix everything together before eating. Its like the chinese version of mac and cheese in winter.

Pan fried pork buns

This was the dish that had us coming back for another taste test. I think my preference is still New Shanghai, where the buns are much lighter and fluffier, whilst these are slightly thicker. The base is also "crunchy" at Shanghai Nights whilst its "crispy" at New Shanghai. My friend still prefers the Shanghai Nights version.

Salt and pepper pork ribs

These pork ribs were super meaty and juicey. It wasn't as salty as I would've liked it, but I think if I had these on its own without all the pork buns and vinegar, my taste buds would've had a party.

Taiwanese beef noodle soup

I haven't ordered this dish in atleast 5-6 years, and it tasted almost as good as I remembered. I love the crunch of the pickled vegetables against the soft beef that's been stewing for ages.

Pork and crab roe steamed buns

Din Tai Fung was the first time I've had pork and crab roe steamed buns. I liked it, but I had nothing to compare it to. I found the ones at Shanghai Night much tastier, AND you can see the crab roe!


How perfect is this picture? The big chunky crab roe in the centre of the pork filling, sitting in a pool of juice wrapped in the thin dough. MmMMmm

Pan fried pork and coriander dumplings

I loved how the dough is just as thin on these dumplings as their other ones. The filling had a bit too much coriander for my liking (And I LOVE coriander). But once you douse it in vinegar, it balanced out really well.

So after all that taste testing, what was the conclusion? There were dishes we love from both Shanghai Nights and New Shanghai. The only way to end our argument was to agree that we'll alternate the restaurants every time we visit. The get the best of both worlds ;)

Shanghai Night
(Directly opposite Ashfield Mall)
275 Liverpool Rd
Ashfield 2131

Ph: 9798 8437

BBQ City Korean Restaurant

BBQ City is probably the first proper Korean restaurant I've been to, and is completely responsible for my love of Korean food. Frequented by Koreans all the time, you know the food has got to be authentic.

Kim Chi Pancake

One of my favourite entrees, although its big enough to be a whole meal for some. The spicy kim chi is pan fried in a soft chewy pancake. A slightly vinegary soya sauce is provided for dipping.

Banchan - Side dishes

My favourite thing about BBQ City is the variety of banchan they provide. Banchan is basically Korean side dishes to accompany the rest of the meal. Almost all Korean restaurants give you unlimited banchan, but you must ask for it. And if they charge you extra, you better check you're not getting ripped off. The banchan changes every time you go, so the more you go, the more variety you get to try!!

Boiled cabbage with a spicy bean paste sauce for dipping

Kim Chi - Still the best in Sydney

Sweet and spicy dried fish

Stir fried potato noodles

Sesame Spinach

Bulgogi beef on sizzling platter

This was quite nice, but I'm not a huge fan of mass onions unless they're fully cooked or caramelised. My friend enjoyed this dish thoroughly though.

Fish egg stew

When I first started eating Korean, the only dish I really knew to order was bulgogi beef and chicken with ginseng soup. That was until I ordered the Fish egg stew at BBQ City. This is now my "benchmark" dish at every Korean restaurant. A Korean restaurant doesn't get my tick of approval unless they make a good fish egg stew. The soup is spicy and hearty, yet light and fresh from the mass amounts of seafood and vegetables. This is served with boiled rice which you eat with the soup, seafood, vegetabls, tofu and other banchan. My all time favourite Korean dish.

With the freezing cold rainy weather we're experiencing, its almost time to go back for some more fish egg stew!

BBQ City Korean Restaurant
Level 1, 116-120 Liverpool St
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 02 9267 5155

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The biggest schnitzel I've ever tackled - White Cockatoo Hotel , Petersham

I got off at Petersham Station once on my way to meet a friend. I stopped by the White Cockatoo hotel when I noticed a whole heap of people eating schnitzels. I thought "Wow~ Those schnitzels are bigger than the palm of my hand! And only $15! Excellent value, must come back". So I planned to meet my friend there one night for dinner.

All along the walls were menu options with plenty of different types of schnitzels. Normal schnitzel with gravy, parmigiana style, mexicana style, cabonara, marinara etc etc. We ordered a plain schnitzel each, one with mushroom gravy and one with pepper sauce. They told us to sit at a table and they'll bring it over.

Since it was a thursday night, when you order a drink at the bar, they'll ask you to guess heads or tails. If you're right, you get the drinks free on the house. We sat and enjoyed our drinks, and next thing you know, our schnitzels came out:

Chicken schnitzel with pepper sauce

If you're thinking "How stingey are they with the chips? And why use such a small plate?". Well think again:

Chicken schnitzel with mushroom gravy

This schnitzel is HUGE!!! Like Titanic huge! And its not just ONE piece of schnitzel, ontop and underneath the big main schnitzel, were lots of other "normal" sized schnitzels. I mean, just the chips alone would probably fill you up, let alone the schnitzel. And you know what else? As they delivered the schnitzel, they asked if we wanted any salad. Without thinking, we went "errrrrr....yeah". If they had asked us if we've ever been abducted by aliens we probably would've went "errrrrr....yeah" cos we were so shellshocked by the size of the schnitzel.

Apparently, they used to serve the salad on the same plate, but either people we're eating it cos they were busy tackling the schnitzel, or it just wouldn't fit. So they ask you if you want the salad now.

I only managed to get through about 1/3 of the whole plate, leaving a heap of chips behind. And I love chips. I almost never leave chips behind, but this was just too big of a task to tackle. Not only were the schnitzels huge, but they were tasty. I've experienced my fair share of dry tasteless burnt schnitzels, but I've never had a schnitzel this size and STILL taste sooooo moist! And they weren't stingey with the gravy! I love my gravy and there was plenty to go around for this huge schnitzel!

When we first went to the White Cocktaoo Hotel and saw people eating their "big schnitzel", they were already 3/4 of the way through! Had we known how big their schnitzels are, we would've ordered one to share, and still not finish. I told a few of my friends about this, and apparently they go there after the guys have soccer practice, and have an eating competition to see who can finish the schnitzels. And even then, most of the time they only get 3/4 of the way through!

White Cockatoo Hotel
Shop 30, Terminus St
Petersham NSW 2049
Phone (02) 9569 4675

Sunday, July 20, 2008

*ACHOO* I lost my poor meatball...

On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.

Every kid would know this song when they were growing up. I remembered the ABC used to have a video clip for this song, with a kid chasing his getaway meatball down the street. Even though meatballs are a common comfort food for a lot of people, but its something I've never made before. The most I've done is help my mum roll the Chinese meat balls we steam, just like those you find at yum cha.

With the weather the way it is, this was a good chance to churn out some comfort food.

I started off with beef and pork mince, at a 2:1 ratio. I add some finely diced bacon, garlic and onion, which I had sauteed until they had soften and turned brown. I soaked some bread in water, squeezed the water out until dried and mashed the bread in. Grate in some carrots into the mix with a dash of rosemary and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Mix until everything is combined.

Take your time and roll small bite sized meatballs. Even though this is time consuming, it's quicker to cook and much easier to eat when you don't have to fit a fist sized meatball into your mouth.

Heat up a pan and panfry the meatballs until golden brown.

For the sauce, I used finely diced onions, carrots and capsicums. Saute in a pan with garlic until the vegetables soften. Add a can of diced tomato, some stock, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper. Gently simmer for at least an hour to let the flavors develop. When the meatballs are almost cooked, add them to the sauce and simmer. Serve piping hot on top of some spaghetti, or eat it on its own topped with heaps of cheese.

Full house and then Karaoke

Mey sent an email seeing who was up for dinner and karaoke. The karaoke didn't interest me much, but I was more than happy to try a new place. Dinner was at Full House, a Japanese/Korean restaurant opposite the Hilton. I'm glad we even made the place because MnMs offered to pick me and Cookies up, except she was late. REAL late. Yeh don't deny it Ems, YOU WERE LATE. We eventually made it to the city and parked at my work before we power walked to the restaurant, meaning we were only 30mins late.

It was great having a get together considering I haven't seen a lot of people since I started my new job. Plus we finally get to meet Gus's girl!

I was too busy talking to everyone else, but Gus reminded me to take photos of the food!

Their "famed" pumpkin soup - according to Cherry and Mey

Banchan - Bean sprouts, spinach, fish cakes and kim chee

My soft tofu seafood stew

The food wasn't bad, although the service and kitchen was a bit lacking. Although our table of 10 ordered together, some people's food came a good 30mins before other people. They just couldn't seem to get food out properly. And there was surprisingly a lot of microwaving going on in the kitchen. With that said, I enjoyed my soft tofu seafood stew. I would've liked a lot more broth in the pot though, but the tofu was sooooo nice I wasn't too fussed.

After dinner, we headed off to Karaoke World for a bit of singing. I can't remember the last time I went to Karaoke. It could have been Cherry's birthday about 5 years ago? Was it 5? Gosh, I can't even remember.....maybe thats the old age? The only way I could face karaoke again was to get "happy", with a uber big glass of wine. They're certainly generous with the wine at Karaoke world. My 2 glasses came in tumblers, which equated to 1/2 a bottle!

After karaoke, some people decided to head home, whilst the rest of us went to Passionflower for some dessert. Me and Cherry shared an ice cream combo with green tea, black sesame and sticky rice flavoured ice cream, topped with glutinous rice balls. It wasn't bad, but the thing that left a bad taste in my mouth at the end of the night was the "Sunday" surcharge they put on our bill, even though it was a Saturday night. When we questioned them about the surcharge, they said it applies to the whole weekend. No wonder they're no longer busy on the weekends.

Full House
Opp Hilton Hotel
Level 1, Shop 5, 238 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone (02) 9264 8013

Sukiyaki - The Non-DIY version

I haven't had Sukiyaki in ages. So when I had it at Masuya, I knew I wanted to make it the next day. But I was too lazy to actually have a hot pot since I didn't want to do any washing up, I decided to cook the Sukiyaki in a pot and dish it up instead.

The sukiyaki sauce was made with a dashi broth, sake, LOADS of soya sauce, sugar and mirin. No quantities here since I kept adding and adjusting the sauce until I got it right. Once I got the sauce right, I cranked up the sauce until it started bubbling. I then added the udon, potato noodle twisty things, onions, tofu, inoki mushrooms and a heap of leafy green vegetables. Once everything was almost cooked, I grabbed a heap of thinly sliced hot pot beef and submerged it into the sukiyaki sauce. I "waved" the beef around in the sauce until they came apart and started to changed colour.

Then, pull out the now soft udon that has turned slightly brown from soaking up the sauce, then the beef to stop the cooking and everything else you feel like into a bowl. Ladel over a bit of the sauce. Curl up on the sofa and enjoy.

Amy's 27th a@ Masuya, Wynyard

So it was Amy's 37th 27th birthday party. The party was at Masuya, which is literally around the corner from my work's car park. The plan was for me and Cherry to meet up earlier in the city, get trashed until Moishii comes out and let him park at my work. The plan was fairly good considering me and Cherry got smashed at the Metro before Moishii arrived. Infact, we were so trashed we started having a laughing fit when we talked about our past laughing fits.

When Moishii shows up, we continued our laughing fit over nothing. Well, Moishii had a laughing fit because he managed to rip my shirt apart to show the rest of the pub. After almost completely flashing the pub, we started hitting the drinks (after having a few shots). Eventually, Mey and a few others arrived. We had a few more drinks (Thats a lot of drinks) before heading to Masuya. Now here is where it gets a bit fuzzy. Somewhere along the way, we started having a laughing fit. A REALLY bad laughing fit. I was laughing so hard, I was crouched on the floor outside Masuyas having a fit. Next thing you know, Moishii pulls out his asthma spray and starts spraying me in the face, completely missing my mouth. And I don't even have asthma!!!

I finally calm down enough, and we get ready to go into the restaurant. We're still giggling, so I grabbed Moishii and said "Shhh...this is a sophisticated type of restaurant". Then we just lost it. We both cracked up laughing until we were crying. People walking into the restaurant thought we were completely nuts. Christine, Mey and the others, left us and went into the restaurant without us. Took as a while to compose ourselves before we could finally walk into the restaurant. Not that it stopped us giggling at the table.

The birthday girl

The drunks with Amy

It wasn't until the night was over that I realised I didn't get any photos with the birthday girl. I guess me and Moishii were too sloshed to stand up for photos. We were having a ball sitting in our own seats as well. Including stealing the strawberry garnishes off Cherry's drink:

Post garnish stealing - She didn't even notice!

Somehow during the night, we started talking about Cherry's birthday party at the Lord Roberts, and she pulls out the classic photo from the night. I just had to get a photo of the photo.

This was taken when Moishii busts into the women's toilets. Mind you, I did tell him to because I thought Cherry was going to hurl.

Somewhere along the line, we ordered a whole heap of food.

Octopus with chilli and garlic

Beef tataki



Unfortunately, none of the above was ours. Not that we were fussed, because our Sukiyaki pot came out soon after.

Beaten egg for dipping


Wagyu beef much marbling!

The waitress comes out with a blisteringly hot pan which goes on our stove. Within seconds, she had the onions and beef slizzing in the pan. Then the sauce goes in before the vegetables.

The waitress starts to load our pan to get us started for round one:

Except me and Moishii were greedy guts and decided that that wasn't enough, so we added more stuff:

This was our final cooked pot:

This was unbelievable hearty and comforting, yet so SO healthy for you. But as much as we tried, we couldn't finish the food. Luckily we had Amy there to help polish the food off (which is one of the things I miss about working with her, she eats all my junk food so I can't pig out!).

Amy helping out

Making lesbo faces at me...

Even after stuffing our faces, we still managed to find room for the white chocolate mud cake.

Happy birthday girl! Hope you had a fantastic birthday!

Ph: 02 9235-2717, 02 9231-0038
Basement Level
12-14 O'Connell Street
Sydney 2000

Seafood Doria...I think...

My friend was telling about this wonderful dish that can be found in Japan called a "Seafood Doria". I've never had it before, and have never seen it at any Japanese restaurant before. A quick google returned the most heavenly looking image I have ever seen. From then onwards, it was a mission to recreate this dish!

I searched and searched, I googled and then I interrogated my friend until I was confident I kind of knew what a seafood doria should be.

Firstly, I made a quick "fried rice" using leftover rice, bacon and onion. This goes into the bottom of a dish (I had to use a cake tin because I cooked too much.......). I then quickly sautee some peeled king prawns, fish and baby octopus. Other seafood you can use include scallops, mussels etc. Don't cook the seafood all the way through, it will need to be cooked again later. Scatter the seafood over the rice and ensure you spread it evenly so every section of the pan has a bit of everything.

Make a basic white sauce using flour and butter to creat a roux, then whisk in some milk until the sauce starts to thicken. Make HEAPS of this sauce. When the sauce is almost done, chuck in a handful of garted cheese until it melts in the sauce. Pour the sauce all over the seafood until it is generously covered. Sprinkle grated cheese all over the pan until covered. Bake until the cheese is all melted and golden brown.

My seafood doria coming out of the oven

It looks pretty average doesn't it? It certainly doesn't compare to the original photo I saw, and I was worried it would turn out crap. However, the minute I dug into the pan, I knew how gorgeously moreish this would be...

The rice had just become to absorb some of the cheesey white sauce, almost like a risotto. The seafood was just cooked to perfection. Soft tender baby octopus, flakey fish and the most bursty prawns ever! All covered in a lovely cheesey sauce. I was spooning the sauce up and eating it like a soup. Definitely something I should only make once every 6 months!

I'm not sure how authentic this seafood doria is, but my friend certainly loved it and both of us ended up fighting over the leftovers!

Friday, July 18, 2008

New Shanghai - Ashfield

After having Din Tai Fung and Shanghai Nights dumplings one after another, it was only fair to compare the food with New Shanghai. Its been a while since I've been to New Shanghai as I always go next door to Shanghai Nights. This is mainly because I know the waitress there and I've always eaten there as a kid. I went a few times when New Shanghai renovated, but its been about a year since I've been.

Walking in, half of the restaurant was empty, yet we've been placed on the table right next to the fish tank where we had to squeeeeeeze right in. But it was a small price to pay for the food we were about to get.

Xiao Long Bao - Steamed mini pork dumplings

These were really flavoursome. Compared to Din Tai Fung, the dumpling skin was thicker and had a rougher texture, but was still thin enough for you to see the soup within. However, the pork filling was much tastier than the ones at Din Tai Fung. After eating a few of these, you get that lip smacking gelatinous porky goodness coating your lips.

Shanghai handmade noodles

This is one of my favourite stir fried noodles, so we had to order this as a benchmark. This was a lighter version compared to Shanghai Nights, but still delicious. I would probably go to Shanghai Nights if I'm after a richer noodle, and New Shanghai for a lighter version in summer.

Steamed pork and coriander dumplings

Unlike the steamed pork dumplings, these weren't filled with soup. This is a much more common type of dumplings you find in most shops. Infact, this is what we make at home. The filling was a combination of pork mince, coriander and finely minced ginger. Really nice when dipped in the black vinegar.

Pan fried pork buns

These...these were da bomb! New Shanghai has got to make the best pan fried pork buns in Sydney. The base was ultra ultra crispy, whilst the rest of the bun was super soft and fluffy. Most places either have a soggy base or a really hard base but making the rest of the buns a bit tougher. These were PERFECT. And I haven't gotten to the filling yet. Hidden inside these babies, is a huge spoonful of broth. Sometimes, the buns go soggy because all the soup is absorbed by the bun. These ones however, even when they've been sitting there for 10mins were full of a wonderful rich and porky soup. Infact, this was how much soup was in there:

MmMmM porky goodness!

Conclusion? New Shanghai for the best pan fried pork buns!

New Shanghai
273 Liverpool Rd
Ashfield, NSW, 2131
Ph: 9797 7284