Saturday, 26 September 2009

roma on watts deli cafe @ watts rd., denistone east

After weeks and weeks of driving past and pointing out to J that there's a gelato shop on this road ('Can you see the pictures of ice cream on their sign' and 'Maybe we should stop by and get some ice cream one day?), we finally did a stop by for lunch and actually came back the same day for dessert. How could we not?!

So, 'Roma on Watts' is a gelateria cross deli cafe. As you're driving down the road, it's quite clear that this place sells gelato but once you're inside the doors, you'll see that they're well stocked with deli goods (olives, cheeses, tomato pastes, dried pastas, etc.), the coffee machine is running and you can come in for a big breakfast or light meal. One would think Watts Rd. to be a strange choice of location for a Deli Cafe, the cafe is neighbours with a pharmacy (there might be another shop in between them) but the steady stream of customers coming in through the doors would speak otherwise. We spent a lazy Saturday sitting outside and I've got to admit, I quite like this place.

There's marked car spots just outside and plenty of parking down Watts Rd.
J doesn't get my obsession with coffee but he seems to drink it when I drink it.
Toasted Chicken Schnitzel Foccacia - I highly recommend this one!
Toasted Chicken, Lettuce & Avocado Foccacia.

We contemplated whether to have gelato also (it wasn't a hard decision) but given we were quite full, we ended up going to the shops first and ducking back. It's great that Roma on Watts is just en route to and from Mac Centre.

J looks pretty happy with his Chocolate gelato cone.

Expect some extremely friendly service (one of the ladies there saw me taking photos and asked whether I wanted a photo of J&I, I kindly declined but is that good service or what?!) There's quite a few staff for such a small cafe (from memory, there were about 5 ladies behind the counter) so do expect to be looked after when you walk through their doors.

Do visit and check this place out, and you might even see me sitting outside with my gelato!

Monday, 21 September 2009

new shanghai @ lemon grove shopping centre, chatswood

I'd first heard about New Shanghai reading Char's blog and then came across it again in a few other foodie blogs. The unquestioned consensus is that the food here is good and the service, well it can vary. For us, it was just a tad unnerving that the waitress looking after our table didn't say a single word to us. We sat down and ordered, she didn't write anything down, didn't nod her head or even utter a word of acknowledgement. She'd walked over to us in silence and just as quietly, walked away.

J is finding amusement in a lot of things lately and this teabag in a teapot was one of them. Whilst common to find the teabag in a teapot at Korean/Jap restaurants and at most cafes, it's quite unusual to see it's appearance at a Chinese restaurant.
Crab Meat Xiao Long Bao. This was one of the recommended dishes; they were lovely and very quickly gobbled up. Skin was just thick enough and inside it was a golden tasting soup that fortunately wasn't too hot.
Drunken Chicken with Peanut Sauce Noodles. I was having cravings for both Drucken Chicken and noodles and this one neatly satisfied the two. We were actually quite surprised how big this came out; in the photo it's only tiny. Had we known how big this was, we probably wouldn't have ordered the third dish.
Stir Fried duck with steamed cornmeal buns. We waited over half an hour for this one and when we went to chase the order, the waitress (who had nothing to do with our table whatsoever) promptly replies, 'It's ready' and ever so quickly walks away. If you'd seen us at that moment, you would've seen both our jaws drop and then us cackling away at such a interesting response. Normally you would at least get something along the lines of 'I'm so sorry. Let me go check for you'. But alas no...anyway, that waitress didn't actually come back out with the dish straight away, we still ended up waiting a couple more minutes.
We weren't too sure how to eat this one but thought it'd looked good in the picture on the menu. We figured you must eat it like this. The cornmeal bun with a bit of duck, a bit of cucumber and a bit of shallot.

Lately, J&I seem to be ordering a bit too much food (and/or overestimating how much we can actually eat). We were stuffed by the time we ate all the food and were really struggling with those buns. My parents have always been right - eating buns fills you up way too quickly.

This could've been quite a cheap meal but the dish with the cornmeal buns was actually quite expensive (almost $20). I'm still glad that we tried it and in a way, it's almost like a slightly different take of the duck pancake which I love. Admittedly though, this one is quite a bit more filling.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

a brownie with too many nuts

I've had a few friends stumble across my blog in the last week and whilst it does make me a little nervous when I think about who's out their reading my blog and paying attention to what I write, I actually get quite excited by the new messages that get left and the positive feedback I get about this space of mine. So thanks to all for popping by and leaving your lovely comments.

It's almost been three years since I started this blog. From my adventures at Patisserie school, to local eats, to the more expensive degustation dinners when I started working and could actually afford to eat a little more expensive, my tastes have evolved and changed. What has surprised me even more is how much the boy's tastes have changed. From large chunks of steak (the more the better), he's come to appreciate the delicacy of a cut of wagyu, he absolutely loves friands (and I'm sure there's few guys out there who would even know what one is), he's really grown to absolutely love and appreciate food. And what has brought on this realisation and sense of nostalgia?

J complains that there are too many nuts in this piece of brownie and his opinion, this is not what a brownie should be. I was amused.
At the same time, a chai latte served in a teapot left me boggled. On closer inspection, they'd used proper tea leaves but a big NO to brewing tea in a pot of milk - it just doesn't happen so this one did leave me a little disappointed.
On the other end of the table, a recent purchase of a SLR camera has C snapping away. These days I'm not the only one who takes pictures of food. Seems like I've managed to influence those around me.
This was afternoon tea at New Orlean's Cafe after my lunch of Japanese beef curry pork cutlet rice. Time and time again, I come back here and I do love the atmosphere of this place. Great that Essential Ingredient is just down the road and yes, as usual, I did drag the boys down the road to have a quick squiz inside. They didn't complain or at least, kept quiet about it.

Anyway, back to the brownie, I do agree with J and perhaps these guys could go easy on the nuts. A bit more chocolate would make it tastier.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

japanese beef curry rice with pork cutlet

Like I mentioned in my last post, I've been revisiting a lot of my favourite restaurants and amongst the top 5 would be Ryo's Noodles in Crows Nest. They're famous for their ramen (and equally famous for their queue that extends out the door at all hours when they're open) but this time round, I skipped the ramen and went for something a little different.

Standing in the queue with little to do. May as well take a photo of the sign at the front of the restaurant!
J thinks I'm crazy with my camera (I take photos of a lot of random stuff) but he's actually the one that's into cameras and photography. I can't quite work out his expression in this pic - could be hunger cross bemusement cross 'here Jenny goes again'.
Everytime I'm at Ryo's, I see people order this dish and I finally gave in and decided to give it a go. It's the Japanese Beef Curry Rice with Pork Cutlet. Shreds of beef are laced through the curry sauce (don't worry, the curry is only mild), served with a generous piece of pork cutlet. The pickles on the side go surprisingly well with the rice and curry. It boggles me that the curry always seems to be 'overflowing' on the plate but once you dig in, you'll find that there's not too much curry left once you're done eating (it all gets gobbled up).

Fortunately, our wait for the table wasn't long this time round (sometimes the queue can put you off by the time you sit down for your meal). Meals generally come out quickly and to be expected (as it was a busy day), the waiters/waitresses were just as eager to clear the table as soon as we were done. It's completely understandable and generally when I come to Ryo's, I'm not expecting a long lunch anyway. Pfft to the guy waiting in line that started staring at my friend (who was the last to finish his bowl of noodles). Seriously, did you think that staring at someone would make them eat faster? And the fact that I stared at you to tell you to stop and you just keep staring? Some people are unbelievable!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

a monster of a feed

Whilst I'm generally on the lookout for a new place to eat, lately I've been revisiting the favourites and trying a few new dishes on the menu. One of my locals is Ribs & Rumps; my place of choice when I'm in for a big feed (and trust me, this place consistently offers a monster of a feed!)

We had a funny waiter that night and he was keen to get those bibs on us as soon as we ordered. It wasn't too embarrasing as it seemed that the waiter had done the same thing to everyone around us.
J was originally planning on getting a steak but the news that I was shouting that night convinced him that he would much rather enjoy the Ribs & Rumps Original Combo - a whopper of a feed that had both beef and lamb ribs plus a 250g rump steak.
I'm a big fan of their beef ribs but tonight I thought I'd try something a bit different and went for the pork ribs. Whilst tasty, I actually do prefer their beef ribs better (there's just that bit more meat!)
Since we first ordered the sizzling black mushrooms, we've been a fan.
I suggest making a booking if you plan to come here on a Saturday night. The restaurant is crowded with families, large groups and private functions but don't get me wrong, it's a great buzzing atmosphere and if you happen to come across the waiter we had that night, you'll be guaranteed an entertaining evening.

If you can restrain, try to save some room for dessert. They bring the dessert menu (in the literal sense) to your table and the cakes do look so good. So far I haven't been able to fit it in but I'm working on it!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

dumplings plus @ swanston st., melbourne

It was our last day in Melbourne, the skies opened up and it poured. Trying to stay out of the rain, we spent most of the day checking out the shops at Central and come lunch time, KT joined us for our last Melbourne lunch. There wasn't much time till we had to head back to the hotel to check out so lunch ended up being at Dumplings Plus, just down the road from Central.

As it's name would suggest, the place serves up dumplings (in all its varieties and forms). Noodles also feature on their menu and our lunch ended up being a mixture of the two. I absolutely love dumplings and noodles would definitely follow closely behind.

Spicy Pork Mince Noodles. Love how thick the soup is but probably not all that healthy for you.
Xiao Long Bao aka Pork Dumplings. These were tasty and held a good dollop of hot soup inside them but notice how thick the skins were. I actually quite like dumpling skin more than I do the filling so I definitely had no issues with this one.
They forgot about our order of handcut noodles but once we reminded them, the order came to the table in a matter of minutes. Disappointedly, these handcut noodles tasted like big strands of dumpling skin which whilst I'm a big fan of it, I wouldn't exactly call these noodles.
Bye bye KT - till next time!

For a Chinese restaurant, the decor of Dumplings Plus is surprisingly modern and cleancut. Our waiter was particularly attentive and whilst the owner/manager might seem to loiter around watching the tables, I'm sure he means no harm and at no point were we hurried to leave. Whilst we were there, the tables around us were all full so I'm sure that speaks for itself. Meal was inexpensive and was an ideal place to grab a quick lunch.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

grill'd @ brunswick st., fitzroy

If I were to recount one of my most epic evenings, this had to be one of them. What was meant to be a dinner with KT and J's cousin, ended up being journey through train stations, boarding a train that changed route on us as soon as we boarded, through suburbs and restaurants that wouldn't take us without a booking, KT buying a few books along the way and then finally dinner at about 9pm on a Saturday night. Dinner did taste good and thanks all for the company.

A snap along the way (it's actually the logo/sign) for Coffee HQ. It's rather cute!
One of many train stations we found ourselves at that night. We were all amused, J in particular.
At long last, my dinner at Grill'd! The Zen Hen - Grilled chicken breast, tangy satay sauce, coriander, shredded carrot, salad & herb mayo.
Lots and lots of Thick Hot Chips with Grill'd Herb Mix.
Given it was a late dinner, the burgers and chips were gobbled up quickly. We could only laugh at the adventures earlier that evening and the pigs on the wall at Grill'd probably put us in a sillier mood than we were already.

Anyway, had no idea that Grill'd was a franchise, would be keen to try the one in Sydney!