Saturday, 30 July 2011

Shou Sumiyaki Sake Bar and Grill @ Melbourne

It was by chance that we found this restaurant. For our Australia trip, we had the food trail all planned out through advance research on the affordable yet yummy places at each stop. On the last day, we had planned to go for yummy crispy pork belly sandwich at EARL Canteen and banh mi at Nhu Lan after reading about the latter here.
We went to Nhu Lan - the shop on Victoria Street had been demolished(!!!) to make way for some new office tower or other and the second outlet at Footscray was too far away. So off we headed to EARL Canteen on Bourke Street for some crackling comfort. It was a long walk as the shop was numbered 500. When we reached it, it was closed as it was located at the business district where all the adjacent premises were closed on a Saturday =.= We decided to make a last ditch attempt to eat banh mi at another outlet called N Lee Bakery on nearby Little Collins Street as I don't think banh mi is available in KL. We walked all the way back where we came from as N Lee is numbered 62 only to find out that the shop too is also closed -_____________________________-" Aren't most Asian shops open all day???
After being disappointed thrice, I decided I had to have some Japanese to cheer myself up. Off we went to Little Bourke Street for some pick-me-up. The shop front of Shou Sumiyaki looked very posh and we would never have entered had it not been for the menu proclaiming ramen lunch sets ranging between AUD 14 to AUD 16 <big grin>
Posh Japanese restaurant

Bar Counter

Ocha and Genmaicha

The tea is served in an authentic ceramic pot that looks like it was handcrafted individually based on the pot designs. Gosh I just love all these ceramicware - I swear I'm going to buy tons of this when I go to Japan and ship them back to KL d^^b 
Minced garlic, chilli pepper flakes and soy sauce


As part of the lunch set, we were served an appetiser of the day which was cucumber salad dressed in sesame sauce with a few slices of wagyu beef. Very dainty presentation. The cucumber salad was very refreshing and tasted great with the coating of sesame sauce and sprinkling of lightly toasted sesame seeds. The three small slices of blanched wagyu beef were very tender and yummy. 
Salmon sashimi

JS ordered the Salmon Sashimi Ramen Set which came with three slices of salmon sashimi which were very fresh and juicy. Unfortunately, it did not top Munakata's, possibly because the ones at Shou were not as thick as the ones at Munakata. 

I had the Gyoza Ramen Set which came with three (probably the shop owner's favourite number) pieces of gyoza, vinegarish dressing and a side salad. The gyozas were lightly pan fried resulting in a rather soft dumpling. I used the term "vinegarish" dressing as the sauce was not as sour as vinegar should be but it still went well with the gyozas. It also gave the otherwise plain salad a bit of flavour. 
Tonkotsu Ramen with Char Siu

All ramen sets came with char siu with a choice between miso or tonkotsu broth. Being deprived of pork (me more so than JS), we of course chose the tonkotsu broth. As befitting a posh place, the ramen did not disappoint. The broth was thick and flavourful, somewhat like drinking your mum's homemade pork bone soup. The addition of fried garlic bits in the soup added to the flavour. If you do not like garlic then it would be a bit of a pain trying to prevent the golden bits floating into the soup ladle.
The ramen was springy and not starchy and went well with the bamboo shoots, spring onions, bean sprouts and sliced woodear fungus. The boiled egg was perfectly done with a firm yet runny golden yolk.
The highlight was the char siu. Thick slices of melt-in-your-mouth meat, it was a mixture of both lean meat and fat and both were tender and meltingly soft.

PawPoints: 4 Paws

Shou Sumiyaki Sake Bar and Grill
160 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne CBD
Tel: 03 9654 3993
Tue - Sun: 12pm - 3pm (Lunch)
Sun - Thu: 5pm - 10pm (Dinner)
Fri - Sat: 5pm - 12am (Dinner)

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Pho Dzung Tan Dinh @ Melbourne

As Melbourne is teeming with Vietnamese, I figured that Vietnamese cuisine there should be as authentic as it gets. So after searching through a number of Melbourne food blogs, Pho Dzung Tan Dinh seems to get the best reviews out of the numerous restaurants.
Restaurant counter

Medium Sliced Beef Pho (AUD 9.50)
  • Huge amount of tender slices of beef.
  • Concentrated beef stock but the aftertaste is light and clear.
  • Equal quantities of beef slices, rice noodles and bean sprouts.
  • Lemon wedges add an unconventional tangy zing to the soup.
  • Mint leaves (I should say branches) are huge though and are quite a handful - hard to soak everything in the soup since the bowl is already filled to the brim.

Grilled Pork Vermicelli (AUD 8.50)
  •  Grilled pork was quite good, very well seasoned. Can be a little dry near the bony parts.
  • Good variety of vegetables including carrot, cabbage, red cabbage, bean sprouts and cucumber.
  • Very large amount of vermicelli, insufficient sauce. It was quite hard to mix everything up properly and in the end, the vermicelli stuck together in a huge lump =.=
Overall I think that Vietnamese food in Malaysia is up to par with those at Melbourne (well based on this restaurant which supposedly is one of the best). The pho at Pho Dzung Tan Dinh was good but the Grilled Pork Vermicelli was so-so only - I've had better at Vietnam Kitchen.
Well it should be noted that the rave reviews were for the outlet at Richmond whereas we went to the CBD branch so I'm not too sure if there's a difference in taste? It should be the same though <shrug>

PawPoints: 3 Paws

Pho Dzung Tan Dinh
234B Russell St
Melbourne CBD
Tel: 03 9663 8885
Daily: 9am - 10pm

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Tuckeria Fresh Mexican @ Brisbane

One of the top recommended Mexican fast food in Brisbane, we headed to Tuckeria for lunch right after checking in at the backpackers (the one we booked is totally not recommended =.=). It was such a long walk to the shop from Fortitude Valley Station though =.= When we reached it, it was empty whereas Grill'd next door had a few patrons. I was a little hesitant to enter but luckily my doubts were put to rest by the food and the amount of people queuing up come lunch time.
Shop Front



We had a hard time deciding what to order with the extensive choices. As indicated in the menu, you firstly choose the type of wrap and filling. Then select the type of beans you prefer. Thirdly, choose the type of salsa and level of spiciness and finally, add condiments as you wish =)
Back of menu
The back of the laminated menu has a graffiti representation similar to those seen frequently on the walls of Brisbane.
Decorative Chicos

Pork / Chorizo Tacos (AUD 9)
  • Grilled pork was really good! Charred tender meat with a little fat - very well seasoned. I had half grilled pork and half chorizo but I think they must have given me grilled pork for both instead as I didn't taste any difference >.>
  • Came heaped with Pico de Gallo Salsa which wasn't spicy even though I requested for 'hot' (spiciness categories include mild, medium and hot).
  • I added loads of raw onions and coriander which are free! Went very well with the grilled pork as the raw onions provided a zing and the coriander a burst of freshness.
  • White corn tortillas were very bland and floury - no amount of grilled pork and salsa could mask the blandness =.= The only thing which helped was the hot sauce which I poured generously =D
Beef Burrito California Style (AUD 11)
Flour tortilla wrapped around beef, black and pinto beans, and Pico de Gallo Tomato Salsa and baked in aluminium foil. JS chose California style which came with fries instead of Mexican rice.
Overflowing burrito contents

  • Beef was very tender and well marinated - fell apart at the touch of the fork.
  • Flour tortilla absorbed the juices of the beef and did not taste bland at all. Probably the effect of baking it in foil paper.
  • Surprisingly, mixture of salsa, beans and fries went very well with the beef and tortilla.

Hot Sauce

Tapatio Hot Sauce - the only thing which saved my bland flour tortilla =P Spicy but really good, just like Nando's Extra Hot Peri-Peri Sauce =)

PawPoints: 4 Paws

Tuckeria Fresh Mexican
421 Brunswick Street
Fortitude Valley
Tel: 04 0637 7278
Sun - Thu: 11.30am - 9.30pm
Fri - Sat: 11.30am - 10.30pm

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar @ Gold Coast

While researching for food in Gold Coast, we were attracted to this pizza shop by its website and menu. So many varieties of pizza!!! It took us quite some time to locate the building though and although they have many outlets, the hotel reception staff had never heard of it =.=
Shop Front
There weren't a lot of people at Crust - I presume most people are at home or they ordered delivery instead. We were the only table there so it felt a little awkward sitting outside (it's alfresco dining). Maybe it's because it was a Monday night?
We originally wanted to try the deep dish pizza as I don't think they are available in Malaysia but we couldn't tear our eyes away from the different kinds of flavours on offer!
Crust Supreme (AUD 21)
The pizza came laden with smoked ham, pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, capsicum, onions and Kalamata olives. Just look at the amount of toppings scattered on top of the crust. All the toppings tasted as they should - chunky meat, juicy pineapples, crisp capsicum.
We requested for a Spicy Tomato Salsa base which gave an entirely different flavour to the pizza. It provided a slightly spicy and smoky tomato base that was unique and unlike any pizza we've ever tried. There are many other types of base to choose from such as Refried Bean, Pumpkin, Spinach and Ricotta, Sweet Chilli, Olive Tapenade, Hoisin, Bechamel, Garlic and BBQ.
The crust was very good - baked to perfection, crispy and not doughy. Each slice was of adequate thickness and topped generously with fillings. I find the amount of melted cheese on the pizza sufficient although cheese lovers may prefer to have more.

PawPoints: 4 Paws

Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar
3/3018 Surfers Paradise Boulevard
Wyndham Surfers Paradise Building
Surfers Paradise
Gold Coast
Tel: 07 5538 6720
Mon - Thu: 4pm - 10pm
Fri - Sun: 12pm - 10.30pm

Monday, 25 July 2011

Peter's Fish Market @ Gold Coast

There are a few fish and chip shops in Gold Coast serving produce directly sourced from nearby trawlers. Peter's Fish Market which is located on Seaworld Drive is the one most accessible to us as we stayed at Surfers Paradise. It is also only a short walk from Seaworld so I would really recommend anyone stopping by the theme park to pop over for a quick bite. It is really worth the walk =) 
Not sure if the owner looks like this =P
Fresh seafood for sale
More seafood...
Depleting trays are immediately replenished by the staff
Succulent boiled prawns
Large array of fresh fish

Fish of the day + Small calamari + Small chips (AUD 10)
  • Extremely fresh haddock with firm white flesh lightly flavoured with salt. Although it has been deep fried, the flesh remains moist and soft.
  • Very crispy golden crumbly batter deep fried just right. No bitter dark bits.
  • Extremely fresh calamari - tears off easily when bitten and not chewy at all.
  • Normal chunky fries but better than the average chip shop fries.
Fish of the day + 4 Prawn Cutlets + Small chips (AUD 13) - Tartare Sauce (AUD 2)
  • Extremely fresh prawns - if you scrape off the batter coating, the flesh is translucent and extremely bouncy even though it has just been deep fried. The tail is fried to a very crunchy texture - good for people (like me) who like chewing on crunchy bones =D
  • Tartare sauce has a thick consistency unlike the watery ones in Malaysia. It seemed odd to eat fish and chips without tartare sauce or a splash of malt vinegar so we paid AUD 2 for it even though it sounds a bit unreasonable (aren't sauces supposed to be complimentary???). We had leftover sauce even with the small tub in the above pic (maybe JS didn't take much...bland tastebuds =P).
Notice I used the phrase "extremely fresh" multiple times? =D That's just how the food at Peter's Fish Market tastes like. I especially enjoyed the prawns and calamari. Remember to visit one of these trawler-shops when you're at Gold Coast! =)

PawPoints: 5 Paws

Peter's Fish Market
120 Seaworld Drive
Main Beach
Gold Coast
Tel: 07 5591 7747
Daily: 9am - 7.30pm

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Munakata @ Life Centre, KL

We have been meaning to try Munakata ever since we had a taste of their version of takoyaki at the Bon Odori Festival last year. However, it was indeed a shock when we arrived at Life Centre for dinner as the place was undergoing major renovation works. I'm surprised Munakata is still open for business and that there are still customers coming and going, considering the state of the place and what we had to walk through to get to the restaurant.
Buffet Ala-Carte Menu (RM 60++ / RM 35++)
As can be seen in the above picture, you have to order the menu items ala Old Town Kopitiam style where you write the item number on a piece of paper and the quantity you wish to order. Overall, there is sufficient ala-carte items with varied cooking styles.
Two orders of salmon sashimi
Although the salmon sashimi had a little dark spots, they were the highlight of the meal! The salmon sashimi served were thick and extremely juicy and bouncy, the best both of us ever tasted! Seriously, if you want to make this buffet worth your money, you just have to eat this only. It was sooooo good that we had a second round - 4 orders of excellent salmon sashimi =)
More salmon sashimi!

Reviewing this now makes me crave for the salmon...
Ankake Age Dofu

Was actually craving for chilled tofu but this was the only tofu option available so we ordered it. The deep fried tofu was coated with a light batter and garnished with chopped spring onions and sweet soya sauce. I had expected the tofu to be wobbly on the inside but the tofu used here is the firm kind. I think the sauce is a bit too little for the tofu though as the firm type is a bit more bland, in my opinion.
Enoki no Gyuniku Maki
This is a sliced beef roll with enoki mushrooms. The beef was good, slightly charred yet still moist. It was sufficiently thick that there was a bite to it. Lots of enoki mushrooms were rolled within the beef slice. The beef juices and marinade were fully absorbed in the enoki mushrooms; however they were a bit tough to bite off, seeing as they are straw mushrooms.
Salmon Teriyaki

Firm meat goes well with the sweet teriyaki sauce but I think I prefer the raw version =P
Gindara Teriyaki
Yet another fish with the sweet sauce. Soft flesh with oily bits that JS loves (sounds wrong haha!) Obviously he prefers this over the salmon...
Unagi Teriyaki

This one needs no introduction - grilled to perfection but portion was kind of small for one order.
Tempura Moriawase

Soft Shell Crab Tempura
The Tempura Moriawase & Soft Shell Crab Tempura were already cold when we got to them because so many orders came at once. The prawn & the vegetables were tasty but I didn't really like the crab. It would have been nicer if Munakata provided some grated radish with the dip =)

Furai Moriawase
Essentially deep fried crumbed seafood, it was good with the sweet oyster sauce and the shredded cabbage offered some sort of fibre to the otherwise protein-packed dinner.
Hotate no Butter Shoyu Yaki

The grilled scallops tasted strongly of butter. The moist flesh went well with the crisp chopped scallions. The slight brownish colour of the scallops suggested that light soy sauce was also used to flavour the dish.
I had always wanted to try grilled smelt fish but it was kind of disappointing as I had always anticipated it to be so crispy such that the bones are edible. The fish was lightly grilled but the bones remained inedible. Furthermore, there were a lot of small fine bones that eating this became a pain in the ass -_-"
I think I prefer Sushi Zen's Yakitori as Munakata's chicken skewers were not as tender and moist.
Yakinasu no Nikumiso Kake

I expected the brinjal to be grilled until the flesh is all soft and mushy but the skin was still hard and tough to chew. The minced meat with miso sauce was a tad bit salty but goes well with the eggplant.
Gyu Saikoro Steak
Cubes of good beef cooked just right, not too chewy and had a nice texture.
Sake Chazuke
This is a very good meal to have on a cold rainy day. Rice soaking in a bowl of tea flavoured by the salty salmon and garnished with chopped scallions and dried seaweed. Very refreshing and comforting. Wouldn't mind ordering this again. Chilli pepper flakes are available for sprinkling over the dish.
Green Tea Ice-Cream with Red Beans
The green tea ice-cream here is really good. Very bitter which complements the sweetness of red beans well. The texture is rather flaky with tiny bits of ice. I would prefer the creamier type of ice-cream but the icy texture of this ice-cream together with its bitterness does grow on you leading to JS...
JS's accomplishment
...ordering 4 bowls of it!!!
Edamame chopstick holder
Satisfied customers =)

PawPoints: 4 Paws
Pawket: Cheese

Mezzanine Floor, Life Centre
No. 20, Jln Sultan Ismail
Tel: 03 2166 7441
Daily except Sunday lunch and public holidays: 12pm - 3pm (Lunch), 6pm - 11pm (Dinner)