Thursday, 24 September 2015

NomNom: Belly Bao; Sydney NSW

Tucked away around the corner of Liverpool St and Sussex St close to Chinatown in Sydney, Belly Bao could easily be missed as just another dark underground pub/bar. But if you went inside (and perhaps ignore the funny fake plants and fairy lights hung around almost everywhere in sight) and take a leap of faith for trying it, you are bound for a good time and delicious meal.

Towards end of nights, it tends to get crowded, so if you have a larger group, best to book a table. And always bring your id as the club it's at is an 18+ venue (it's a bar)

We started with Sweet Potato Fries (A$7). The portion was quite generous and came with drizzle of chilli aioli.


Papaya Salad (A$12) was very refreshing, especially to accompany all the other deep fried food we ordered. The dressing was tangy vinaigrette.


We all loved the Fried Chicken (Half $15 or Whole chicken for $25) - massive cut portions fried perfectly but still moist inside.
You know how you opt to grab the chicken breast because you want to be kinda health-conscious (less fat than chicken thigh, yo. Although it really beats the point because you order fried chicken of all things!), but mostly hate it because they are usually very dry? Nuh uh. Gladly had my chicken breasts here thank you!.


And we did not know which to choose from their awesome sounding signature Baos, so we did the most logical thing to do:

Ordered them all.


All the Baos were good, and all of us had our own favorites. Mine was the Crackling Roast Pork Belly and the Crispy Tofu.

2015-09-19 20.08.31

Dessert was a much easier fair. There were only two kind of dessert Baos, and there were four of us. So we ordered one each and shared. All their baos served for dessert are fried and served with vanilla ice cream.

Strawbelly Bao (A$6.50) came drizzled with Matcha condensed milk. Mmmm... matcha... .

Baonana Split (A6.50) was equally as good, drizzled with Nutella.

I was so torn. Maybe next time I'll have one of each for myself.


55 Liverpool St, Sydney

Saturday, 5 September 2015

NomNom: One Tea Lounge Bar & Grill; Sydney CBD

I am a tea mania - more specifically green tea mania. Precisely why I had been trying to get my hands on some beautiful gastronomical grubs at One Tea Lounge.

I had been checking out their online menu for some time (check it out online, or refer to the menu below which I have taken picture of :D. There are two additional dish which haven't been reflected online yet) and I realized that there are too many things I want to try (all of them!), Being the greedy person that I am - oh-how-I-want-to-try-them-all-at-once - I tried to gather a couple of friends who are as green tea/matcha nuts as I am, made a booking for it (important, yo! We did a walk in a few weeks ago and were swiftly denied entry as they were very fully booked. Haha...), and off we went.

Le Menu. Some new additions with somewhat flaming theatrical experience - the Flaming Wagyu & Matcha Lava Bomb
1/2heart and I were the firsts to arrive, and while waiting for our friends, we decided to try one of their signature cocktails (hey, put matcha in any of drinks/alcoholic drinks - I'm sold). We decided on The One Tea Experience (A$37). What came was a refreshing citrusy matcha (which still came across as the most prominent element/taste) drink with a hint of Gin in one massive-ass teapot! Way more than enough for two people, but we gladly gulped savored cups after cups.


Before long, our two friends arrived to join us and we went nuts with our orders. We ordered two sets of their signature sliders (One Tea Sliders (A$20 for a set of 3)). 1/2heart and I had a set to share and opted for Ramen Burger with Wagyu Beef, Matcha Baoger with Miso Tofu, and Matcha baoger with Braised Pork Rib.

They were all incredibly yummy, however taste wise, my favourite would be the Matcha baoger with the Miso Tofu. As the Miso Tofu is quite subtle, I could still taste the slight matcha of the bao. Where for the other meat fillings, the bao just tasted as normal bao.
Ramen Burger is burger/sandwich which 'bun' is made of ramen noodles pressed and lightly seared. It gave a sweet aftertaste.

2015-09-06 09.50.49

Popcorn Curry Chicken (A$10) was served with mayonnaise infused with green tea & lime. Couldn't really taste the curry, but the batter was light & crunchy and the chicken bits were so juicy. The mayonnaise was a hit between the four of us. By the end of the dish, there was none left of the sauce.


We wanted to try their takoyaki (they named it Takocini, as their take is basically arancini balls stuffed with bits of octopus), however the menu only listed it as a set of 3. The waitress gladly offered to arrange an extra ball (at $3 additional).
One Takocini (A$9 for a set of 3)

The arancini balls were also very juicy, the rice inside were soft, fluff, and bound all flavors together perfectly; the octopus pieces were bouncy but not overcooked.


Matcha Fries (A$7). Fries, but made to taste better because it was sprinkled with Matcha salt. Nuff said.


Now I didn't get the chance to take a picture of this dish when it came to the table (the waitress quickly took off the glass lid) :( But this dish was brought out while still 'smoked' inside a glass lid.
Gyokuro Smoked Octopus Avocado (A$15) - this was easily one of my favourites. The subtle smoky flavour gave off sweet and earth smoked tea that infused perfectly into the octopus and avocado.


Green Tea Miso Cod (A$37) was so-so. I couldn't really taste the tea element of it. The fish, skin crackling, and octopus were all perfectly cooked, but nothing special about it.


After stuffing ourselves with savoury dishes, we moved on to desserts. Because why would you go to a restaurant specialized in green tea dishes if you were not going to try green tea desserts!

Matcha Fondue for 2 (A$22). Oh Ma Ma Mia. We were all so impressed on how green the fondue looked and the bitter matcha taste perfectly combined with creamy white chocolate. One Tea Lounge definitely doesn't hold back on their matcha powders.
The dish came in a beautiful resin bento box, had some fruits and marshmallows, green tea castella (my fave), green tea biscuits, and green tea macarons.
It took all of our willpower to not lick the fondue bowl after we finished all the morsels.



Ice Cream Baoger (A$13 for a set of 2). The dessert baoger has a few choices of ice cream on the menu - green tea, black sesame, lychee, or red bean.
You know what we ordered?
They did perfect bao, which had been fried but still fluffy, and combined with the green tea ice cream and red bean inside.... . Heaven.


Not too many places in Sydney does it, and so far my favourite of matcha lava cake would be Devon's in waterloo.Well, with this very welcomed new addition to dessert menu at One Tea Lounge, I might have a new favourite. Matcha Lava Bomb (A$20) arrived with a flaming theatrical experience (literally). The waitress poured some orange liquor which had been set alight from a metal jug. The cake was fiery with blue flame for a few seconds.

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And then when we hesitantly broke the cake to start digging in, the four of us gave a collective cooing sigh.

Perfect dark green matcha melted centre oozing out.
The burnt liquor gave kinda bitter taste on the tongue and could easily overpowered the matcha taste, so make sure you don't take too much of the liquor soaked cake top all at once.


We are already making plans to come back.

Upper Ground Floor, 73 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9279 3311
(booking recommended)

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Random: Sweet Street 2015; Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney

I have never had so much sugar in one night than tonight. And I know I will have trouble sleeping (hence this blog post), and will probably have headache tomorrow from the sugar hangover. But I doubt I will fret about it.

Because Sweet Street was practically a dessert theme park. And I enjoyed every bite and sight of it.

Shangri-La Hotel hosted the event - the brainchild of Anna Polyviou (Anna, for this, you're my goddess!) - and it showcases myriads of desserts by some of the top pastry and dessert chefs of Australia: Adriana Zumbo, Lux Bite, N2, Black Star Pastry, Cacao, Messina, Andy Bowdy, and Anna Polyviou herself.

The ticket for the event costed A$75, and you'd get 8 credits/tokens (it's just a card with 8 circles that would be ticked off one by one when you order an item) to be used towards whatever you fancy. (Most costed 1 token, the only 2 tokens item we had was the Jasper cake by Andy Bowdy.

Come on, just look at all the pretty little things, how could you not be tempted!

Andy Bowdy (or Andrew Bowden) who has gone independent from the famous Hartsyard in Newtown. Thank the Lord that he is still doing desserts even going solo. Do what he does best to spoil Sydneysiders' sweet tooth.

Andy Bowdy Land is a happy happy place to be

this Jasper cake flew off the table faster than a V8. It costed 2 tokens, but was so popular
Cacao does eclair. And Pikachu!!! I didn't care what's in it, had to take one.

Anna Polyviou arguably served some of the prettiest desserts there. Loved the presentation of her cakes in the jars. 

doughnuts with injected with some chocolate, topped with glazed popcorns. Mmmm

pretty (though lighting sucked)
From Lux Bite, I had the Rilakkuma (I think every Asian there would have had this one), and the blueberry cheese cake.

You would have thought 8 credits per person wouldn't be enough, but 1/2heart and I were completely stuffed only halfway (we had to take away quite a bit to completely exhaust our credits). 
There were also some savoury bites, and they were quite good.

Rest of the others that we did not try...

Gelato Messina stand

Will have sweet dreams tonight (or perhaps a nightmarish one where I'd be chased by a cake), once I get all these sugar calmed down in my system.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

NomNom: Tim Ho Wan; Chatswood NSW

I remember queuing up in front of Tim Ho Wan - Kowloon branch - in Hong Kong back in 2011 (back when I was a lazy ass blogger - not that I am much better now...). The queue was for around one hour, waiting for the shop to open.

That's right, folks, queue already started for metres and metres away even before the opening time. I remember this fact because although I had braced waking up early to queue up, there were already around 20 people in front of me when I arrived, only half an hour before the opening time. 

All this to taste the infamous BBQ pork bun that put Tim Ho Wan on the Michelin recognition list.

Was it worth it? I am torn, but I can tell you that I have never had better BBQ pork bun anywhere else.

Well obviously I cannot go to Hong Kong everytime to fix my longing for them buns, so imagine my glee when I noticed last year that Tim Ho Wan was going to open their first branch in Sydney.

Imagine my praise to everything that is holy when they actually opened in Chatswood, just by the train station.

Imagine me being torn again and sorely heart-broken when I heard and read about the notorious queue happening again - taking as long as 150 minutes.

So I waited, dear readers. I waited and waited and hoped that the queue would somewhat die down after a few months of the new-opening craze.

And I finally got my chance last Saturday. I only had to queue up for around 15 minutes during lunch hour. Praise to everything that is holy - again.

Price wise - it is more expensive than the HK counterpart. (Well, what do you expect).
But Tim Ho Wan does not suffer, because there are always people like me who are willing to pay the extra dollars to satisfy our gluttony.

Prawn Dumplings/ Har Gow (A$8.30 for a set of 4) are standard fare of yum cha. Theirs are succulent and fillings are crunchy. Nothing special, but decent.

Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf/ Lo Ma Kai (A$8.80). Decent size, flavoursome,  and contain various fillings - chinese sausage, pork, chicken, and mushroom.

Pork Dumpling with Shrimp/ Siu Mai (A$7.80 for a set of 4). Again, standard yumcha fare.

Their steamed egg cake (A$5.80) is a very nice steamed flour & brown sugar cake. I remember my mom used to make this all the time when I was growing up (it was cheap and filling). Chinese bread shops usually also sell them, but I have to say Tim Ho Wan has the best one so far (apart from my mom's of course) as it is perfectly fluffy, no sogginess from the steam, and has the right level of sweetness.

Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumplings (A$7.80 for a set of 3), are the ones I have not tried in HK's Tim Ho Wan before. They are bouncy, crispy, and had slight twang from the wasabi sauce. Definitely one of the items I will order again.

But come on, be realistic. These babies right here are what THWdie-hards keep coming back for. 

Crispy Baked Bun with BBQ pork (A$7.80 for a set of 3).

I ordered two sets. I had to have the 3 buns for myself. No sharing, even with 1/2heart

Sweet juicy BBQ pork pieces enveloped with ridiculously soft but crispy layered sweet bun. I subconsciously remember that one hour queue back in Hong Kong; and during the moments I kept stuffing myself with bites and bites again of the wonderful creation, and not even sparing all the fallen crumbs on the white plate..... .... .... .

The wait was worth it. 15 minutes or 150 minutes. (*this sentiment only lasted until I walked out of the shop of course).

(all pics taken with iPhone5)

Tim Ho Wan
The District (Chatswood Station Interchange)
Corner of Victoria Ave & Railway St, Chatswood, NSW 2067

May I suggest to try other places in The District: it is a swanky food court full of good eateries. For chocolate lovers, do not miss The Choc Pot. The main shop is in Burwood (just a small shop), but the one inside The District definitely has better ambience. Get their Choc Pot or Mr Souff (takes of chocolate lava cake and salted caramel lava cake respectively).

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Travel: Bay of Plenty Lodges - Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay, NSW

I have not updated this blog for a while o_0. Got hit with the busy bug at work and the lazy bug at home. I did go to Indonesia in February, but did not document the trip as it was only to visit my parents to spend chinese new year together. And there was really nothing interesting apart from fattening up ourselves.

Anyway, since I'm back from a short trip during the Easter holiday, might as well document this now :). We went to Jervis Bay, and stayed at Bay of Plenty Lodges, which is located inside Booderee National Park. It's around 2.5 hours (in a perfect traffic condition and without detours) south of Sydney CBD, or around 4 hours if opting to pass the scenic drive route. It's basically the same direction to when we went to Kangaroo Valley on Christmas time, just add more distance.



To enter Booderee National Park, there is a fee of $11 for a 48 hours stay. Bay of Plenty Lodges is very well hidden , even inside the park. It takes around 20 minutes of driving through gravel road before we reached it.

As with plenty of other accommodations during the long weekend holiday (peak season), the price was higher than usual. During our stay, we paid A$270 per night (for Lumeah Cabin, that could sleep 5 people), with a minimum requirement of 3 nights stay (only applicable during the long easter weekend).
The cabin is pretty basic, but it's clean, well equipped and self-contained.



The BBQ area is communal, but as there are not many cabins in the complex, you wouldn't have to worry that you don't get a turn using it. Visiting this place with a bunch of friends or family members (the more the merrier :)) is great as you can just stay within the complex (as long as you bring enough food provision for during the stay).



Kayaks are provided for guests use, and it is highly recommended to kayak through the clear waters of the inlet (just behind the complex). The inlet is practically for exclusive use for the guests.


The inlet's water is calm and very safe for swimming. Lots of small fish in the shallower waters, and quite bigger ones in the deeper end. Even when we were on kayak, I could see some fish swimming underneath.



And no less beautiful at dusk... .


Possums are spotted very often (in fact every night during our stay) around the cabins, but mainly at the BBQ area. I guess they look for food scraps they could find from the closed rubbish bins... .


And kangaroos & wallabies are everywhere!



The inlet, the sea, and at any other beaches in the national park are apparently very good for fishing. We did not catch any fish (because we sucked at it), but a few other guests merrilly shared their fishing stories and showed off their catch :( from flatheads to salmons... .


There is a walking trail just outside the complex, that leads to Bherwerre Beach. It is a large beach and quite secluded, unlike the more famous Murray's beach. The waves at Bherwerre are stronger though.
It is a great spot of catching sunrise :)



If you get bored watching the wallabies, kangaroos, and possums in the complex, tired of swimming or kayaking in the inlet, you can visit a few of other beaches inside the national park.
One of the most famous beaches in Jervis Bay is Murray's beach, boasting clear water and lots of fish for snorkelling enthusiasts.



One of our favourite places is Green Patch - a small park with another small beach :), and with plenty of resident birds.






It is very easy to spend a week there just unwinding, or days not leaving the lodge's vicinity. However, within some short drives outside the national park, you can visit more beaches (Hyams Beach is one of the more well-known ones), and lots of sea-side towns.


Truly some of NSW's beauties... .