Monday, May 30, 2011

Glamorous Wok

Glamorous Wok
Shop K4, Sunny Park Shopping Centre, 342 McCullough St, Sunnybank

Now here's a bit of a story...

A couple weeks back, mum and dad took me to this new Chinese restaurant in Sunnybank. We ate, I took photos, blah blah blah... I ended up not being able to blog the place because I didn't know what the restaurant was called in English.

I thought this was a shame because I actually had a lot to say about it.

Lo and behold, just the other day, someone posted a comment on one of my New Zealand posts saying 'you should write about Glamarous Wok!'

I didn't know what that was so I Googled it and it turned out to be that restaurant. Amazing. Well to me, it was quite obviously written by the owner or someone similar... though they weren't very tactical because they didn't even bother pretending it was a legitimate comment under a relevant post.

Well I'm glad. Because now I can get my opinion out there.

It wasn't too busy when we got there at lunchtime. The place is decked out really nice with shiny, flashy menus. We ordered a few dishes and sat, and waited.

Stir-fried intestines and snake beans

The first to arrive was stir-fried intestines with snake beans. It was a very flavorsome dish and I actually didn't mind it. It was heavy with garlic and shallot. A bit on the oily side but that's not unusual for restaurant food. My dad didn't like that all the aromatics were cut coarsely and he thought it was garlic overload in an attempt to create flavor cheaply.

Luffa and clam stew

Our next dish was luffa and clam stew. This was, in my opinion, disgusting. There was practically no seasoning and the clams were very fishy (obviously frozen). No redeeming features here. We munched at the luffa, convincing ourselves that if nothing else, it contained fibre.

Golden fried rice

The fried rice arrived. I couldn't help but overhear a table adjacent to ours complaining that their fried rice hadn't arrived and they had no rice to eat their dishes with. In fact, I heard them complain 3 times to different staff members. Our fried rice didn't cause that much trouble but it was completely unexciting. It was named their 'golden fried rice' and we couldn't see anything good about it. I dare say it was worst than most takeaway fried rices. Gluggy rice, boring contents.

Grilled beef ribs

We waited ages for our grilled beef ribs, to the point where we nearly thought about cancelling the order. When they arrived, we were shocked by how small the portion was. They weren't cheap so we figured... hey, this might be a really good cut of meat cooked very delicately. Totally wrong. There was nothing special about the flavor but moreover, the meat tasted like it was from some throwaway carcass. Lots of sinew and bone. I could barely tear the flesh with my teeth. It was a real struggle.

I probably don't have to spell it out but we had a terrible first impression of Glamorous Wok. My family gets very excited about new Asian restaurants and they're rarely as disappointing as this was. What's strange (and I think it's fair to mention this) is that the other day, weeks after I went, Mochi told me her friends HIGHLY recommended this place and that it was very difficult to get a booking. Either somethings changed (e.g. the whole cooking staff) or I'm crazy or someone's crazy. I did think they might have a good tea menu because the waitstaff were trying to push us to order some... but we didn't end up doing so. Maybe their tea is just that amazing that it overshadows their shortcomings... who knows!
Glamorous Wok on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cafe Mondial for Breakfast

Cafe Mondial

Last weekend involved a short trip back to Brisbane for Byron's birthday. We had a tight schedule and needed to be on the way to Toowoomba before a certain time. Because of this, breakfast was a strictly timed affair.

We were staying in the city and decided to eat at the first 'ok-looking' cafe we came across.

This happened to be Cafe Mondial.

In all my years living in Brisbane, I've walked past this joint n times but never even had a coffee from there.

There's a generous supply of outdoor, street-side seating that was too chilly for my liking (probably something to do with the fact it was early in the morning and I had stupidly neglected to bring a jacket). We huddled inside and started studying the menu. At one stage, I felt sorry for Cafe Mondial because the cafe next door seemed to be getting all the business... then I realised that next door was also part of Cafe Mondial. We were just sitting in the less popular section.

Latte and cappucino

Coffees were ordered first. Mine was a latte as per usual and Byron got a cappucino. They were quite good.

Mushroom medley - sauteed mushrooms, haloumi cheese, baby spinach, aioli and olive bread

For breakfast, I chose the mushroom medley. I had been in a mushroom mood for ages but everytime I went to Coles, they were all gone (besides the fancy mushrooms for more $$). The plate came out heaped with sauteed mushrooms. They were cooked well, nice and juicy. It had a side of grilled haloumi, which is something I love but haven't eaten in a long time. There was also half a grilled tomato and a thick slice of olive bread.

Big breakfast - with poached eggs, bacon, chipolatas, mushrooms with olive bread

Byron orderd the big breakfast with poached eggs. There was a stack of bacon, chipolatas and mushrooms. It wasn't as huge as some other 'big breakfasts' that I've seen but we agreed that the quality was great. He also got a slice of buttered olive bread and thought it was fabulous.

We liked our breakfast because everything was cooked well. The servings were good for us too. The staff were very friendly but not 'fake friendly' so it was a nice place to be on our Sunday morning.
Cafe Mondial on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chicken and Sweet Potato Casserole with Caramelized Red Onion

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Chicken and Sweet Potato Casserole
Home Cooking

It's that time of the year when slow cooker recipes are much more in demand. For me, it's not just great because slow cooked meals tend to be thick, comforting and hearty (perfect for Winter) but because I can make a big batch to refridgerate and eat throughout the week.

I ended up at a recipe which ironically isn't slow-cooked but it sounded so good I made it anyway. It was perfect for me because I bought a huge bag of sweet potato that I didn't know what to do with so when I saw 'sweet potato' in the title, I knew it would do.

I used the original recipe for inspiration but didn't follow the quantities that specifically.

Chicken and Sweeet Potato Casserole

Serves 3-4

  • 3 x chicken thighs, cubed
  • 1 x fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 tsp of chopped thyme (I only had the dried stuff)
  • 2 x red sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 x garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup cooking cream
  • 1 x red onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. Brown your chicken in a frying pan with some oil and cook for about 2 minutes on medium-high.
2. Add the fennel, thyme and garlic. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes or until soft.3. Add the wine, mustard, sweet potato and stock. Bring to the boil. Cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 30min or until the sweet potato is cooked through.4. Meanwhile, make the caramelized onion. Cook the onion on medium low for about 20min or until soft. Add the sugar and balsamic and stir. The onion should get sticky and oozy.5. After the chicken and sweet potato is ready, stir the cream through and simmer for another 5 minutes to thicken. Taste and season according.6. Serve the chicken and sweet potato with some caramelized onion ladelled over the top with a sprinkling of black pepper.

I garnished my bowl with a wanky sprig of fennel. Totally uneccessary in terms of taste. Byron had doubts about my creation because it contained sweet potato, one of his sworn enemies.

After a taste, he admitted it tasted good. I thought it was perfect for Winter because it's creamy and hearty. Although this dish is quite easy to make, it didn't taste too boring and conventional because of the fennel and caramelized onion.

I used the Philadelphia Cream for Cooking because it reckons it's healthier. I didn't even bother looking up the nutritional info to validate that but I can say the dish turned out well.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sweet and Sour Pork with Fried Rice

Sweet and Sour Pork with Fried Rice
Home Cooking

No points for guessing why it is that 9pm last night, after we'd already had dinner, we decided to make sweet and sour pork. I had been watching Masterchef at the gym while Byron was watching at home and though these were different situations, the same thought bubble arose: Need Sweet And Sour Pork Now.

We'd just spent the weekend with an empty fridge/pantry because we were too lazy to go grocery shopping so we stockpiled a mountain of frozen snacks and also picked up the necessary ingredients.

I was given the task of making fried rice. I've made fried rice before that was pretty good and had used that as bragging rights. Unfortunately, Byron didn't get to try any that time so he didn't really believe me and I thought 'sweet, this is my chance to prove it'.

My main concern was that we didn't have any day-old rice so I had to make a fresh batch. Normally, I don't even think about it but I thought it'd be extra important to get the consistency right so I Googled a rice-cooking guide and followed that. Well, I ended up with rice that was basically glue and tried to fry that. No luck. It reminded me painfully of our sweet potato rosti that was attempted from over-cooked sweet potato mash.

I crawled into my room to have a sook but because all the other ingredients were ready to go, it was too much of a waste to do the typical drama queen act of throwing everything at the wall.

So we persevered.

Sweet and Sour Pork and Fried Rice
Serves 4


For the pork
  • 2 x pork chops, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 x whisked egg
  • ~ 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp mirin (you can use rice wine)
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 x onions, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium tin of pineapple thins
  • 1 x red capsicum, diced
  • 1 x green capsicum, diced
  • 1.5 tsp cornstarch
For the rice
  • 1 cup of rice (we used medium grain)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 x lap chong sausage, diced
  • 3 rashers of bacon (no rind), diced
  • 1/4 cup of peas
  • 1/4 cup of prawns, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • sliced shallot to garnish

For the fried rice...

1. Cook the rice first according to your preferred method. We used 1 cup to about 1.5 cups of water.
2. Heat some oil in the wok and cook an omelet with the eggs. When it's mostly sealed on one side, start breaking it up into big eggy pieces. Set aside.
3. Fry the bacon and lap chong until cooked and set aside.
4. Fry the prawns until just cooked at set aside.5. Once the rice is ready, start frying that in a hot wok with some oil. Add the other ingredients and stir fry until well-mixed and the grains are nice and separated.6. Season with oyster sauce. Garnish with shallot and serve.

For the sweet and sour pork...

1. Combine cubed pork with mirin, whisked egg, salt and pepper and cornstarch. You may need more/less cornstarch depending on the desired consistency. The consistency should be a little bit more watery than regular batter.2. Heat some oil in a large saucepan with medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot enough (drop some batter in to test if the oil hot enough), drop the pork cubes in. It is best that they don't touch (ours fused together into a giant mass).
3. Once the pork cubes are golden brown, remove from the oil and set aside on paper towel/rack to drain.
4. For the sauce, mix the juice from the tin of pineapple with the white wine vinegar, soy sauce, tomato sauce in a bowl. Stir and set aside.
5. Meanwhile, stiry-fry the capsicum and onion in a frying pan on VERY high heat with a little bit of oil.
6. Once the vegetables are browned, reduce the heat to medium-low and pour in the sauce mixture. Stir it around and bring to a simmer.
7. When the capsicums are just cooked, turn the heat down to low. Mix some together 1.5 teaspoons of cornstarch with equal parts water. Add this into the sauce and stir until the sauce thickens.
8. Once the sauce is nice and thick, add the pork and pineapple pieces. Serve.

As I've already mentioned, my rice-making attempt was disastrous. We ended up making a new batch that was monitored carefully to prevent it from being over-cooked.

Creative problem-solving

To emulate a dried day-old effect, we even took the rice outside into the freezing night and fanned it. It turned out pretty good.

The sweet and sour pork was amazing. We have a problem with takeaway sweet and sour pork that is basically a large ball of batter with a tiny morsel of pork inside. Because we battered our own, it was generous. Perfect for soaking up the sweet and sour sauce.

We had this again for leftovers the next day and it was even better!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Steak Sandwich with Rocket Pesto

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Steak Sandwich with Rocket Pesto
Home Cooking

I've been trying really hard to accumulate stuff to blog. I haven't been out anywhere spectacular for a while. I am too tired to cook anything interesting when I get home (boiled veggies with olive oil hardly deserves merit). When I've been back in Brisbane lately, I found myself gravitating to old, familiar restaurants rather than venturing to new places. Exactly NOT what a food blogger should be doing.

In the face of all this... 'unproductivity', I have been trying to make SOMETHING to write about. I attempted gnocchi last week, which turned out OK but the sauce was a disaster. Unbloggable. We saw them make rosti on Masterchef and tried to make sweet potato rosti. Unfortuantely we made the incorrect decision to take a bath while the potatoes were boiling and ended up trying to grate and fry mashed potato... not successful by any standards.

Well today we had a bloody awesome steak sandwich. Yeh, yeh, I know... steak sandwiches are hardly chefy. That aside, we smeared the bread with a special pesto that was at least made from scratch. It's not at all difficult to make but we've made it twice now because it's that good. Byron's got a little herb garden (dammit - I should've taken photos!) and we picked some fresh rocket and basil for this dip/spread.

Rocket Pesto

  • large handful of fresh rocket
  • small bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted cashew
  • 1/4 cup macadamia
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 30g parmesan, grated
  • salt

1. Whiz the nuts and leaves in a food processor.
2. Add olive oil until you get a good spreading consistency. I don't like the nuts too crushed because larger chunks give a good texture.
3. Add the grated parmy and give it another few whizzes. Add the lemon juice.4. Taste and adjust with salt.

This dip is awesome for dipping with wholegrain rice crackers. We used it for our steak sandwich.

I'm not going to give a 'recipe' for the steak sandwich for obvious reasons. We barbequed the steak and onion slices. The boys had bacon on theirs too.

The other components were: the rocket pesto, fresh tomato slices, thinly sliced cheese, fresh rocket leaves and barbeque sauce.

We toasted some light rye to sandwich it all together.

Leftover piece of steak used as a cracker

I don't think pesto is a conventional addition to a steak sandwich but that and the fresh rocket leaves gave it a wonderful zing and nutty texture. Definitely improved something that's already great (which is not easy to do).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Toowoomba Fish Depot

Toowoomba Fish Depot
Shop 10, 192-198 James St, Toowoomba

Mochi had been promising me 'amazing fish and chips from this amazing fish shop' for weeks. Somehow we never got around to it until one day Byron and I couldn't figure out what to get for tea and Mochi mentioned the fish and chip shop again. Only problem was she was about to start cooking her own food. We staged a hurried intervention and peer-pressured her into showing us where the fish was.

It was an adventure getting there because whilst trains in Toowoomba are not that frequent, one somehow intercepted our route 2 times.

When we arrived at Fish Deppot, it was actually quite busy. There was a small queue, which gave us adequate time to decide on our orders.

Byron and I took the easy route and got a platter for 2. It came as a giant paper package. We were cold and hungry and couldn't wait to unravel.

Seafood platter for 2

Peeling away the paper revealed a mountain of fried goodies. I normally get battered fish but we weren't given the option and all the fish pieces came crumbed. This disappointed me when I saw it but the crumbing was actually quite tasty.

Inside of my fish

Very crunchy. I wasn't a huge fan of the seafood stick (though they're one of Byron's guilty favorites). The prawn and calamari were OK but by then I was too overwhelmed by oil and crumb to distinguish much. I was admiring the store tartare sauce when we were waiting but the tartare sauce that came with the platter was just premade supermarket stuff that tasted like thin mayo.

Crumbed sweetlip, calamari and beer-battered chips

Mochi ordered a crumbed sweetlip and calamari. I should mention now that I have no idea what fish we were eating. We did an experiment where we tried some of Mochi's and some of ours and decided that yes, there is a difference but nothing to really sway our preferences. She also ordered beer-battered chips. They were slightly underseasoned but aside from that, a very interesting chip. Not the usual beer batter... more like a cross between a chip and a wedge.

The Fish Depot was good on speed of cooking and value for money. I would have liked to try some battered fish because crumbed just isn't really my cup of tea. Our chips were boring but the beer-battered ones were quite unique. They would've been great with a sauce.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

King Ahiram Lebanese Food

King Ahiram Lebanese Food
88 Vulture St, West End

Mochi and I were in the fabulous position of needing a quick bite before our Thai massage appointment during the Labor Day long weekend. If there ever was a good reason to rush food, that would be it.

We thought somewhere in West End would be convenient because that's where our appointment was too. After trawling up and down Boundary Street, we ended up at King Ahiram's. We're both huge fans of Greek/Turkish/Middle-Eastern food so it seemed like a good idea.

King Ahiram's is a cross between takeaway joint and very casual diner. After reading the menu, we decided to share a Deluxe Plate. We also scanned through the hot food display and picked a spinach pastry to add to our meal.

Deluxe platter - shish kebab, hommus, baba ghanoush, tabouli, kafta, falafel, vine leaves, cabbage roll and spinach pie

Our platter didn't take long to arrive. I was initially skeptical that it wouldn't be enough for the two of us but it was a decent-sized platter.

Flat bread

Most importantly, there was a large flat bread for dipping that was very filling. I particularly liked the lamb kebab and falafel.

Spinach pastry

The spinach pastry was alright though the filling was a bit bland. Because it had been sitting there for a while, the pastry wasn't crunchy either.

It was quiet when we got there but that might have something to do with the fact that it was only 5:30pm. The food was OK for a Middle-Eastern quick fix but it wasn't anything spectacular to me.
King Ahiram Lebanese Food on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Flute Fine Food for Brunch

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Flute Fine Food
4/380 Cavendish Road, Coorparoo

I was stuck in Toowoomba on Mother's Day so mum and I decided to delay it a week to this weekend. We settled for brunch on Saturday, followed by a fishing trip on Sunday.

When I started searching for a potential breakfast spot that I haven't already been to, I found Flute and was happy to see that it was close by too. Flute is located on Cavendish Road, next to Cream, which was one of my favorite cake cafes when I lived in Brisbane.

At first I thought we were too early because there didn't seem to be anyone around. Once we walked closer, I realized my eyesight is shot because it was nearly packed. This was barely 8:30am, mind you. We were going to take a table inside but didn't want to be sandwiched between 2 other groups of people so we ended up sitting outside.

The outside space was nice albeit a bit too dark and romantic for that time of day. There was a mounted heater and even wooly blankets for you to keep your legs snug.

Mum and I ordered coffee to start.


My latte was surprisingly huge. Mum exclaimed 'is that a soup?' It was a good coffee (thankfully, else I would've been stuck with a big bowl of crud) and a great start to the meal.

Flat white

Mum had a flat white. Both our coffees came with mini dark chocolates. They were very yummy.

I was disappointed that the menu didn't have any sweet breakfast offerings besides the chocolate brownie, which in my opinion is more a dessert/snack than breakfast. Even their crepe was savory.

Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs - with avocado, tomato and fire roasted capsicum relish, caper berries and Turkish pide

Mum's choice was the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on Turkish pide. It was a giant serve (matched my latte) and she claims it is one of the greatest breakfast creations she's ever tasted. It came with avocado and tomato relish and some weird things that looked like olives with a stalk (later identified as caper berries - yes they taste like large, juicy capers).

Flute eggs benedict - smoked ham off the bone, eggs, spicy tomato jam, white wine sauce and shaved parmesan

My order was the egg's benny. It was again, a large serving. Basically, it was similar to mum's but with poached eggs and leg ham instead of scrambled eggs and salmon. The hollandaise sauce (they call it a white wine sauce?) was excellent.

Service at Flute was friendly and consistent. Even though they were extremely busy, it didn't feel rushed at all. I thought the food was quite good... perhaps not the top of my list (Pearl is still best IMO) but the servings were hearty enough to justify the price.
Flute Fine Food on Urbanspoon