Saturday, 31 July 2010

Bamboo Dumpling Bar, Surry Hills

A few months back, a bunch of us bought the deal vouchers off Spreets where we can dine to the value of $20 for just $10 at Bamboo Dumpling Bar.
We kept postponing the dinner until the last days before the vouchers will expire :P
Getting 7 girls to agree on a same day and time is not an easy task.

My plan was to go here during lunch time on the weekends because I know how dark the place is at dinner, but it's much easier to get us together at dinner time.
As I was paying the bill at the end of the night, the co-owner / manager / waiter , Michael, asked whether I managed to get good shots ?
I just crossed my fingers >__<  With very little light is available, I can only hope that my hands were stable enough and hope for the best :P
It was not until the last food photo that I remembered I had brought a small torch in my bag *doh*

Red cupboard by the entrance ; Dumplings slogans framed on the wall

As we stepped in, it feels like we are in an old antique shop, I love it ! Especially that red cupboard by the entrance. There are birdcages hanging down from the ceiling, but instead of birds, there's Astro Boy, puffer fish, etc in them.
Unfortunately because it is too dark, I didn't manage to get many good shots of the decors *sad*

Menu ; 3 Dipping sauces to go with the dumplings

Beside the a la carte menu, there are 2 banquet style menu, a $20 pp or the $27.50 pp. Being the gluttons  we are, we opted for the $27.50 :D
Michael then asked whether any of us have allergies to anything since we are having the banquets.
One of the girls doesn't eat prawns for the oddest reason ever - she doesn't eat anything that has more than 4 legs -__-;. So her share of dumplings with prawns will be swopped with something else.
It is nice to see that they do they care about their customer needs even though it is just a dumpling bar.

With the banquet, we got 9 Entrees and 3 Mains served with steamed rice, needless to say, we are stuffed by the end of the night lol

So, let the dumpling feast begin ! \^o^/

Peking Duck Pancakes w/ Hoi Sin Sauce

The wrap was served warm, the duck itself was juicy and meaty. There was just the right amount of hoisin sauce to go with it. It is as good as what you'd find in a Chinese restaurant.

Vegetable Spring Roll

The spring rolls were served with a citrusy sweet dipping sauce and arrived hot from the deep fryer *hot*hot*
Crunchy and filled with loads of veggies *crunch*crunch*

Coconut Chicken & Peanut Skewer

The minced chicken is wrapped around a sugar cane skewer and then grilled. It was delicious !
The chicken is full of flavour from various spices used to marinate it, and chewing on the sugarcane at the end is a bonus. 
There was silence on the table as we were gnawing on the sugarcanes hahahahahaa.

BBQ Pork Buns

Can't beat hot steaming bbq buns , the buns were soft and light :)

Pork & Prawn Siu Mai

Pork & Chive Dumplings

I found that the dumpling skin is too thick, but the pork & chive filling inside was juicy so it counter balanced it :)

Har Gow

The har gow was plump and big filled with crunchy prawns.

Vegetarian Gow Gee

I know it's just filled with veggies, but I quite like it  :) If the skin was it thinner it would have been perfect.

Chicken Dumplings

The chicken dumpling would have to be the least favourite of the night. The chicken mince filling was too soft for our liking. 
The previous dumplings we had so far had much more textures and flavours.

As suggested, we took a 10minutes break before the mains were served. To be honest, we thought we couldn't fit anymore food after the stream of dumplings we just had.

Salt & Pepper Squid with Thai Chili Sauce

The salt and pepper squid was good, perhaps a tad too salty but we didn't mind it much since we were eating it with steamed rice.
It was crispy and tender, I think they have used Szechuan pepper on the batter as it did tasted quite different from your regular salt & pepper squid.

Steamed Asian Greens with Oyster Sauce

We need greens to balance out the deep fried squid, simply steamed and drizzled with oyster sauce, topped with a generous sprinkle of fried shallots.

BBQ Pork w/ Sesame Soy Sauce

This bbq pork is very good ! It was tender and slightly caramelized on the outside. We wanted more !!
(So much for us being full already, ey ? :P)

Salt & Pepper Tofu with Lemon

Just when we thought that was all the dishes for the banquet, Michael returned with a plate of salt & pepper tofu. To which he received a puzzled look from all 7 of us  LOL
It was complimentary of the house for us to try - YAY ! \^o^/
The salt & pepper tofu was as yummy as the squid, the tofu was soft on the inside with crispy crumb coatings and served with a side of mayonnaise.

Chocolate Dumplings

"Can you still fit desserts ?" asked Michael as he was clearing our table. 
Another puzzled look from us, what sort of dessert would a dumpling bar have ? Plus, we do not recall seeing dessert mentioned in the menu.
When he said chocolate dumplings, we all smiled and nodded :P
Although we are full to the brim, we cannot pass on the chance on trying out chocolate dumplings can we ?

The dessert took a while to come out, my guess would be that they had to make the skin from scratch and upon tasting it, I imagine it would be quite tricky to make it. 
It is definitely worth the wait !!  The skin is made from 100% cocoa powder with a little bit of sea salt, then filled with gooey hazelnut chocolate ganache and drizzled with Asian spiced orange sauce.
One tip on eating it, you must eat it by the mouthful to get the full effect ! 
This tiny morsels just burst in your mouth with creamy, dark, hazelnut goo  >___<
A must order if you are eating here, if it's not on the menu ask for it.

We would have happily paid for the scrumptious dessert, but too my surprise, it was complimentary as well.

The foods were delicious, although we found that the dumpling skins were too thick for our liking. 
The service was friendly and attentive. Even without the special deal vouchers, the foods are very reasonably priced and always arrived piping hot on the table. 

Special thanks to Michael who had been helpful from when I made the booking (back and forth email changing dates and numbers, sorry :P) and for great service we had that night. All of us really enjoyed our meal there and we shall be back for more dumplings ..oh and the chocolate dumplings too :D

Bamboo Dumpling Bar is now also open in Balmain and their Potts Point branch is under renovation at the moment.
For the other locations, please visit their website.

Bamboo Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, 30 July 2010

Iima, Haymarket

Located inside Mr.B's Hotel on Pitt Street where Mandarin Club used to stand is Iima, a Thai Japanese  restaurant that is run by the same people that is responsible for the famous Chat Thai restaurants. 
When I first came here as it was just opened, I was expecting to see fusion dishes, but instead there are 2 separate cuisines here, Japanese and Thai.
It does solve the problem when some feels like Thai and the others feels like Japanese :P
Come to Iima and you can have both in the one place, genius !

Tonight we decided to get 2 Japanese and 2 Thai dishes to share between the 3 of us. 

Ocean Trout Wrap

What they called a wrap is really just a sushi roll, there's lightly seared ocean trout, avocado, topped with spicy leek and then served with miso mayonnaise on the side.
My friends commented that the sauce looked like a centipede, I'm afraid I must agree LOL
So we quickly scramble the sauce so it doesn't look like one anymore :P
Compared to when I had this dish last (back in Nov'09), I must say that the portion size has gone up. Which is great because they have kept up the quality, the ocean trout is fresh and love the smoky flavour from the searing action. 

Tori Nanban

Succulent chicken breast pieces tempura served with a caramelized soy vinegar dressing and topped with tartare sauce. It is quite similar to tori karaage but the batter is lighter and quite bland in flavour. But fret not, that's why the sauces are there to compliments the tempura chicken. The tangy soy vinegar dressing plus the creamy tartare sauce, yummm.....

Plain Rice ;  East meets West Cutleries

It's quite interesting eating with 2 sets of cutleries the chopsticks and the fork and spoon. I had to switch cutleries between dishes because picking up sushi rolls with anything other than chopsticks is just too hard.

Nahm Dtok Ocean Trout

When I ordered the 2 Thai dishes, the waitress express her concern that both of them are quite spicy. 
I asked, "How spicy?", her response was "Not too spicy, just a little".
We can handle little spicy, so we just stick to our selection.
NOTE : When they say "little" spicy it actually means "OMG !! Where is the gallon of water !!" kind of spicy.

It was freaking hot !! >_<; Mind you, we were brought up eating spicy foods, and we are struggling to eat it. 
Your mouth is burning and you sweat like crazy - in the middle of winter, not normal.
You should see us as we were eating it, it was continuous actions of eating, wipe sweat off forehead and hand on glass of water ROFL
It was hilarious !!! 

Although it was painful, we cannot stop eating it as it was very good ! The ocean trout is cubed and fried till crispy, then tossed lightly in lime juice, red onions, pounded roasted rice & roasted chili flakes (real potent chili flakes). It was then topped with some aromatic herbs which makes the dish even better.
If you like very spicy food , then this is the dish to order. 

Duck Curry
Thank goodness for the sweet duck curry , it really does help to calm down the heat from the previous dish *phew*
The juicy barbequed duck fillets are cooked in a mild sweet & sour curry, with pineapple, lychee baby corn & snow peas. The addition of fruits in it helps lift up the otherwise quite heavy curry.

Dessert Menu

Can't go pass the dessert menu :) Especially when it's pancakes heheehehe....
So here is how it works, you choose plain or pandan pancakes, choose what sort of topping you'd like (anything from standard strawberries to something more exotic like black sesame paste) and then choose what flavour ice cream to go with it.

Pancakes with Pandan Coconut Sauce

The pancakes size has almost doubled since last visit ! It used to be quite small and thin, so I told my friends we should go for the 4 pancakes option.
Ooops :P The pancakes are now larger in diameter and more fluffy, so of course we are struggling to finish off the dessert.
We got mixed pancakes, plain and pandan. The pandan ones are definitely the better of the two :) 
The pandan coconut sauce is creamy and sweet , the coconut ice cream is really good as well.

So if you are after some delicious Thai food and the queue at Chat Thai is looking like a line to a rock concert, walk a block to Iima and you will be as satisfied.
It is however located inside a bar, so I'm not quite sure if you need to be over 18 yo to dine here ?

Iima on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Sensory Lab, Melbourne CBD

I've told my travelling buddies, I will not leave Melbourne until I go to the Sensory Lab !
So straight from lunch at MoVida, we went to this cafe with laboratory concepts. It is brought to you by the people of the famous St.Ali in South Melbourne. The Sensory Lab is located inside David Jones on Little Collins Street, you can have a seat in the cafe or grab a cup on the go from the designated take-away window.

Sensory Lab Main Store Area

As we stepped inside, it definitely felt like you are in a lab environment, clean, stainless steel benches, lab glasswares, etc. Except you get a waft of aromatic coffee beans instead of chemicals, thank goodness for that !
Now, why can't the lab at work smells like this ??

How it works in the Sensory Lab ; Coffee Beans for sale

Sensory Lab also sells roasted coffee beans, glasswares to brew your coffee in, and other drinkwares. I didn't had a close look, but at a glance they seems to carry the ranges from Hario, a Japanese brand that makes tea and coffee wares from glass. I had a set of their tea wares at home :D

With the permission of the barista, I went trigger happy with their coffee making stations.
So here we have, coffee made by syphon filter :

Syphon Filters

How pretty...

Caffeine molecular structure for the nerds in you

Take-away window and cafe area

After that, we grabbed a table in the cafe and was handed a clipboard with the various way you can have your coffee brewed : the usual espresso & milk coffees, syphon filtered coffees, and coffees made by cold drip method.

Sensory Lab Menu

Before I had a chance to study the menu, the waitress a.k.a. the lab assistants, complete with white lab coats and pens in the pocket  (felt like I'm at work lol), came to take our order.
Since I have no idea what to order, I thought I'll play safe and ask for a recommendation instead :P
I was then asked whether I like my coffee with milk or straight ( straight this time ), Syphon or Cold Drip  (Syphon of course !),  bold or fruity notes (fruity notes sounds good).

Water & Sugar ; Syphon Filter to use at home

Love the Schott bottle being used as water jug and the brown jar used as sugar container. Maybe I should "borrow" them from work...hmmmmmmm.....
I was so tempted to get one of those syphon filter , but when do I find the time to brew it that way ?
I'll stick with my one button press Nespresso machine lol

Syphon filtered coffee ; Mocha

My heart sank when my fruity, straight, syphoned coffee arrived in a cup :(
I was expecting to do the syphoning myself *sob* with broken heart I drank my coffee *sob*
The beans used was from the Kenyan Mbee blend, it has fruity passionfruit notes as the waitress explained. To get the full flavour out of it, it is best to let it cool down a little before drinking it. 
It does has a fruity notes with slight astringency. 

My cousin got  the standard mocha instead and it was very good indeed. Creamy with rounded coffee and chocolate notes.

Sensory Lab is a cafe that focuses on their coffee and I must say it has a fun and quirky concept.
There wasn't much sweet stuffs on offer to go with your coffees which was unfortunate. 
With so many other great coffee places in Melbourne, I wonder how long will this concept coffee store will stand ? 

So that's it, the last post on my Melbourne food filled weekend trip :) I hope you had enjoyed it as I had enjoyed eating them.
Of course I returned to Sydney 1.0kg heavier LOL

Lab assistant taking your order

Sensory Lab on Urbanspoon

Monday, 26 July 2010

MoVida Bar de Tapas , Melbourne CBD

Two weeks before our trip to Melbourne, I rang up MoVida to make a dinner reservation. I was then told that all 4 of their restaurants are fully booked out for dinner until October !! 0___0
But thankfully they can fit us in at the original MoVida @ Hosier Lane for lunch, I just made the reservation straight away then consult with the others later on hahahahahaa...

MoVida Menu

The menu is split into 2 sections, Tapa and Racion. Tapa is small individual portions and Racion is bigger in portion and are meant to be shared.
Everything sounded so good on the menu, so we decide each of us will pick 2 tapas each = 6 tapas and  then 2 of the raciones. That way we can taste as many variety as possible without bursting our tummies :)
When the waiter came over to take our order, he started telling us of the specials of the day so quickly that we just stared at him...lost LOL
So, because of the new informations on the specials, we had to recon and decide on what to order all over again.

Complimentary Platter of Warm Breads

The waiter returned not long after with stone slab of complimentary breads & olive oil. There were 2 types of bread, one a normal bread and the other one is deep fried ! I think it's deep fried focaccias but the others think they are donut lol
Regardless what it is exactly, it was amazing !! The smell of deep fried bread, soft and fluffy on the inside, sprinkled with coarse sea salt and dipped in the olive oil. I can still remember the smell and taste...mmmmmm....

We have been forewarned that the tapas here are quite small in portion, having that in mind we are still quite surprised on how small they were. Then again, they are after all designed as individual portions.

Without further ado , here are the 6 tapas that we ordered :

Manchego Custard w/ Fresh WA Black Truffle, Leek & Potato Crisp

The truffa is presented in an egg shell sitting on a bed of coarse salts with a thin disc of potato crisp sitting on top - wow !
The crisp is to be crushed and then sprinkled into the egg on top of the sliver of truffle.
The Manchego custard has mild flavour , creamy and silky, the truffles brings earthy flavour to the dish and the crisp adds a lovely texture to what otherwise is just a soft textured dish.

Oven Baked Scallop w/ Jamon & Potato Foam

The scallop was tender and the potato foam disappears into nothingness in your mouth. 

Fried Silky Croquette Flavoured with Leek & Mahon Cheese

This dish reminds me of Japanese croquettes, creamy mash covered in bread crumbs and deep fried till golden.

Catalan Potato Bomb w/ Chorizo

(Seems like I'm having issues taking shots of brown coloured dishes that day *sigh*)

One of the specials of the day, Bomba is very similar to the previous Croquetta, except that it has chorizo in it and is served with tomato paste. The sauce on top reminds me of a sunny side up egg :D

Monte y Mar
Tube Calamari w/ Braised Pork served w/ Squid Ink

The other special of the day that we cannot help but burst into laughter when this arrived at the table. The calamari was no bigger than a thimble ! So you can imagine when we try to split it into 3 - with extreme precision.
The calamari was tender , the braised pork stuffing melts in your mouth :) Wish the portion was bigger so I can properly taste it...

Costilla con Sobrasada
Roast Lamb Cutlet encased in a Catalan Pork & Paprika Pate

It's lamb cutlet wrapped in bacon and some paprika pate :) The lamb was very good, juicy, sweet and still pink in the middle.

Moving on to the raciones , the shared dishes :

Traditional Spring Bay Stuffed Mussel w/ Dried Chorizo & Lemon Aioli

Out of the dishes we had so far, I like this one the best. The golden ball of stuffed mussels burst in your mouth, delicious. The stuffing was creamy and the lemon aioli compliments the crispy creamy mussels.
A dish that I would definitely order again.

Pan Seared Quail Breast with Fried Bread & Grapes

There were 2 pieces of tiny quails on the plate, much smaller than what we were expecting for a $16 dish -__-
The flavours in the dish just doesn't do it for me, it was too much sweet on the plate. The grapes were sweet and so were the sauce that goes with it.

We couldn't go pass the desserts menu that we have been eyeing on since we sat down, so we ordered two to share.
While the savoury dishes came out from the kitchen quickly, the desserts were another story.
They took forever to arrive, a good 20minutes before the first dessert was served.

Goat's Milk Cheesecake w/ Lemon Sorbet

The goat's milk cheesecake is served with a crispy walnut tuille, lemon sorbet and tomato puree.
The cheesecake is creamy but the smell of goat's milk was too strong for me, so I left it to the other two to polish it off. Love the walnut tuille though :)

Ganache Caliente con Turron
Hot Chocolate Ganache Pudding w/ Vanilla Bean Ice Cream & Nougat

The longest wait time for dessert ever ! After waiting 30minutes , the waiter told us that the chocolate pudding / fondant collapsed as it was removed from the mould so they have to re-do it again (as we know, fondant took at least 20minutes to bake) and kept apologizing for the delay. Since we have to wait so long for it, the fondant is complimentary on the house.
So 40minutes later, the fondant finally arrived. Fortunately, it is the BEST chocolate fondant I've ever had !
It was warm, soft and oozing lava of rich dark chocolate - chocolate heaven *mmmmm*
Love the vanilla ice cream and the not too sweet handmade nougat cubes.

Inside MoVida Bar de Tapas

If I were to pick which were the Top 3 of what had that day,  the order would go like this :
1. Chocolate Fondant
2. Tigre
3. Truffa

The others were delicious but were quite ordinary and didn't have as much wow factor as these three :)
Service was great, the waiter was very informative and spent time describing each dishes to us.
We didn't order that many foods as we were not too hungry, be prepared to spend quite a lot if you are dining here on an empty stomach though as the foods are quite pricey in comparison to the portion size.

Grafittis on Hosier Lane

MoVida Bar de Tapas on Urbanspoon