February 28, 2011

Sick days 1... Soup for lunch

What do you crave to eat when you're sick? Like most chinese people, my answer is congee. Well most of the time anyway. It's the ultimate comfort food. This past week coughing and sniffles can be heard all around, everyone's sick and I haven't escaped. There's been nothing better than my mum's congee at home. But going back to work I have to fend for myself and find alternative comfort foods, congee is not easily found in Sydney's cbd.

So on this day, lunch was another great comfort food and that's none other than soup. There's a little shop at the George St entrance to Hunter Connection food court. They sell fresh juices and a handful of different soups. I decided to try the "sweet corn and tomato" and despite not being a big fan of corn it was pretty good. With enough flavour for a sick person to actually taste and enough vegetables to leave you feeling fairly satisfied, I was able to get through the rest of the day. Oh, I also got a pumpkin seed roll from Luneburger which is one of my favourite bakeries in Sydney so I was plenty full after I finished everything.

Hot soup and fresh bread, it's a sick man's lunch.

What: Sweetcorn and tomato soup, pumpkin seed roll
Where: Soup was from the juice/soup place at Hunter Connection food court (at George St entrance), bread roll from Luneburger at Wynard train station
How much: I got a regular soup for $6 (large is $7.50), bread roll was $1

February 27, 2011

A Snack from Jess

Dips are great for snacking and entertaining especially if you don't have to make them. One of my favourites which is a little different is the pea and wasabi dip from Marks and Spencer (M&S). M&S are renowned in England for their range of ready made meals which are easy to buy and good value. I get this dip from the small M&S at Clapham Junction station which is convenient if friends are coming over for drinks as I just serve it up with some toasted pita bread (and it's a quick and yummy snack before dinner which looks healthy cause it's green!). The dip also contains mint and soft cheese which makes for a more interesting dip than the usual french onion or houmus.

What: Pea and wasabi dip with mint and soft cheese
Where: Marks and Spencer supermarkets
How much: £2.99

February 26, 2011

Jack Snacks!... Sugar Coated Tamarind

This is more of an old school snack. But something that I hadn't tried before, despite having seen it in asian shops all my life. Sugar coated tamarind is a strange and interesting combination - it's hot (the tamarind is a spicy kick), sour and sweet all at the same time. Just like Thai food! Cause that's where it's from. It makes me wince, but not alcohol-wince. It's more of a kick-you-awake kind of wince. It could be just the thing to take to those long boring meetings...

Sour, sweet and hot - can you handle it or not?

What: Sugar Coated Tamarind
Where: At most asian supermarkets
How much: Only $1.29!

February 25, 2011

Mother Chu's Taiwanese Gourmet

Mother Chu's is one of those places that has been around for just about always. It's good for a meal and also a good option when you just want to have a small snack. The "Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup" has a nice peppery, chilli kick and good beef taste with bitey noodles. I decided to try the "Savoury Mince Congee" for the first time and it turned out to be a good choice - nice consistency and a light flavour, enough not to require any soya sauce (for me anyway). I can never say no to the "Omelette with Preserved Vegetable" as I love asian style omelettes and the addition of preserved vegetables makes for a great pairing. On this occassion the preserved vegetable didn't have much flavour though, maybe they're using a different kind to before. There was also a glass of cold sweet soya bean drink to complete the Taiwanese meal. I also like sitting at the little outdoor tables that run alongside the restaurant in the arcade, it makes me feel like I'm in Asia!!

Taiwan Beef Noodle Soup, Soya bean drink, Omelette with preserved vegetable.

Savoury mince congee, the noodles emerging from beef soup.

What: Mother Chu's Taiwanese Gourmet
Where: Shop 1/ 86-88 Dixon St, Haymarket Ph: 02 9211 0288
How much: This meal cost around $25 altogether
Need to know: You pay for the meal when you order

February 24, 2011

Jack Snacks!... Calpis Peace Candy

Do you like the Calpis soft drink? I do. I like the unique yoghurt-y taste. I also happen to be a sucker for super cute packaging which is why I had to buy Kanro's "Calpis Uke Caru Peace" candy. I don't know what uke or caru means, but the Calpis taste is definitely evident in this candy. There's 3 flavours - plain, strawberry and Iyokan (a Japanese citrus fruit). All taste good, all have the Calpis taste. And they're individually wrapped with some kind of message on the front - there was one in english saying "Good luck!". So cute!

Peace out!

Y'see what I mean by cute?

What: Kanro Calpis Uke Caru Peace candy
Where: At selected asian shops selling Japanese candy (I got mine from Miracle supermarket)
How much: I think the price was $5.29

February 23, 2011

Jack Snacks!... TeAmo Teapresso

Another tea place to love! Even though EasyWay tea is everywhere, it's at the bottom of the list when it comes to preference. It's too sweet and the tea taste is lacking. Chatime and BoBiBon are better offerings with their stronger tea taste and, in the case of Chatime, a wide variety of interesting flavours. There's another really good option now, and that's TeAmo Teapresso. According to the little pamphlet/menu booklet, they use a teapresso machine. And that's what's so good, the strong emphasis on the tea component. There's hot teas (tea lattes and cappuccinos and brewed tea), iced tea lattes, iced milk teas and iced traditional teas. You can add pearls or various jellys but no fruit flavourings for the drink itself. It's good as it is, cause you can really taste the tea! They also sell crepes and a few flavours of ice-cream which I am yet to try. But if you are a tea lover like me, try this place out!

Iced Classic Green Tea ($4.50 XL) with mixed jelly ($0.40) and Iced Roasted Tea ($4.50 XL), the TeAmo shop, the iced green tea before all the jelly disappeared.

Yep, check it out, that's real tea they use and that's tea in my drink!

What: TeAmo Teapresso
Where: Shop LG 08, 580 George St, Sydney (Adjoining Citisuper asian supermarket)
How much: Priced from $2.80

February 22, 2011

Java Restaurant

Looking at my posts, it probably seems I don't eat breakfast, lunch or dinner. That perhaps my diet is comprised solely of snacks instead. So it's time for a dinner post. And what better than one of my favourite restaurants in Randwick, no, make that one of my favourite restaurants full stop! It's none other than Java Restaurant, an Indonesian place that's been around for years and years (it's something in the vincinity of 20, I can't remember exactly now).

I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but my family have been eating at this restaurant for over 10yrs, and we order the same dishes every time. EVERY time. When we've got a larger table, then we might add something new to try. But the dishes I'm going to blog about today, are the ones that we order without fail. The waiter knows as well and smiles knowingly when he says "the usual?" :)

The usual #1 - Ayam Sereh. Deep fried chicken pre-marinated in lemon grass and spices ($13.90). It's the perfect fried chicken, with crispy coated skin and tender flesh. The lemon grass and spices are the perfect combination, not too overpowering. It's served with chilli on the side which is a low spicy and I think contains some tomato. Sometimes when we have a big table of diners, we order 2 serves cause nobody wants to miss out. That's how good it is.

The usual #2 - Kangkung Cah Bawang Putih or Terasi. Choice of stir-fried Water Spinach sauteed with garlic or tomato slices, onions and shrimp paste chilli ($13.90). We always go for the garlic option, as some of our family are not chilli eaters. Plus it's nice to have a non-chilli dish as all the other dishes have a chilli component. This is the kind of vegetable dish that everyone likes, even people who don't like vegetables. And I can attest to that as I do know such people and they have gone to Java and liked this dish!

Ayam Sereh, Kangkung with garlic.

The usual #3 - Terong Belado. Fried egg plant pieces topped with belado chilli (11.90). Perfectly fried eggplant topped with a fresh chilli sauce that isn't too spicy. For a fried dish, it's nice and light, the pieces of eggplant are chunky so you get nice fresh eggplant inside.

The usual #4 - Ikan Goreng Cabe. Deep fried whole snapper topped with medium hot chilli (market price, last time I had it, it was $31). Another glorious example of how deep fried food should taste. The fish is not too dry inside, and the outside is so crispy that you can crunch away on the fins and other fried bits. The chilli is different to those in the above dishes - it's a little hotter and not so much the salsa-like consistency that you get with Ayam Sereh or Terong Belado. Note that we ask for our chilli to be served on the side.

Terong Belado, Ikan Goreng Cabe.

Rice costs $2 per person, but is unlimited. And that's important cause this is the kind of food that makes you eat more rice than usual. And it does seem like a lot of fried food to eat at once, but you don't walk out feeling like you just ate a bucket of KFC. Our mum likes healthy food that's boiled or steamed but even she has a soft spot for Java.

This post is dedicated to Ice Man. I once had some leftover Ayam Sereh which I took to work the next day and gave to Ice Man to try. Even though it was leftover fried food that had to be reheated in the microwave, he loved it and asked me where I got it from. I said we'd go for lunch or dinner sometime together with Clem but haven't got around to it yet. This is a good reminder, we should go soon, I'm always up for Java :)

What: Java Restaurant
Where: 151 Avoca St, Randwick. Ph: 02 9398 6990. Open every day 11am-10pm except Tuesday
How much: Most dishes under $20
Need to know: They only take cash payments and for friday and saturday night dinner you should definitely make a booking

February 21, 2011

Jack Snacks!... In love with Soft Brew Apple

Yes that's right, I am in love with a drink! It's not your average soft drink nor is it a regular apple juice. It's "Soft Brew Apple" made by WP Hopper. It's a soft drink that's brewed like a beer with barley, hops and fruit juice (apple and pear in this case) but because there's no fermentation it's completely alcohol free. When I saw it at the local fruit shop I bought one straight away and couldn't wait to try it. Would it taste like beer? Would it taste like apple juice? It tasted like apple beer!! Now I don't mind the way regular beer tastes, but when I drink it I make a little "alcohol wince". Soft brew apple is smooth and doesn't give you any sort of wince. I would choose this over a regular beer any day of the week! In fact, if they stocked this at pubs and bars, I could see myself drinking all night...

Soft brew apple. Hello my love!
Oh, I should mention. There are actually 3 flavours. Apple, Blackcurrant and Citrus. I have since tried the Blackcurrant which is also nice, but I think the fruity-beer aspect isn't as noticable. I'll have to try the citrus as well. At this point, apple is definitely the winner and the one you should try first.

Soft brew blackcurrant - nice, but my heart stays true to apple.

What: WP Hopper Soft Brew drinks
Where: I found it at Royal Randwick Fruit Market, I'll be checking out other stores to see who else stocks it.
How much: I could have sworn it was $3.99 the first time I bought it. But the second time round it was only $1.99. $1.99!!!! Love only costs $1.99! UK readers can buy this at Waitrose according to the WP Hopper website too!

Hix and Mark's Bar

After watching the musical of Priscilla Queen of the Desert we headed to one of the popular Hix establishments in Soho with a group of friends from work including Alan and Marcel from Amsterdam who love a good cocktail. So it was fitting to start with a post-show/pre-dinner cocktail in the very cool, loungey Mark's bar in the basement of the restaurant.

The cocktails were sophisticated and exotic including my "Pegu Club" cocktail, named after a British Officer's club on the Rangoon River in Burma. It's a mixture of gin shaken with Cointreau, lime juice and angostura and orange bitters - perfect to get my appetite going. After enjoying the very comfortable bar, we were taken to our table upstairs in the lighter surrounds of the restaurant with it's open kitchen along the main wall.
With eight of us for dinner, it was great to see the variety on offer from Hix, among his well known oysters and steak options. I had a mixture of Cumbrae rock and Loch Ryan oysters to start and they were a perfect size with a fresh taste. Other delicious looking entrees on our table included the whipped Jerusalem artichokes with Herefordshire snails and crow garlic.
Mains did not disappoint either with the highlight, judging by his reaction, being Dave's hanger steak with baked bone marrow. Denisse's St Mary's Bay gurnard with mussels and sea greens also looked good and even our tricky diners Sam and Darren found themselves satisfied with some simple but stylish fish fingers, chips and mushy peas. Judging by the very clean plates, it's safe to say most of us were pretty satisfied.

Desserts topped things off nicely with orders of the Amedei milk chocolate and hazelnut meringue, the Yorkshire rhubarb pie with Cornish saffron custard and our exciting apple fraize with cider brandy ice cream which was much more brandy than cider or ice-cream. All and all Hix was an enjoyable experience and although not the cheapest, it was a great post-show treat.

What: Hix
Where: Soho or one of the other locations
How much: Average £10 for entrees, £18 for mains

February 17, 2011

Jack Snacks!... Lemon Lime Bitters Slurpee

Recently I saw some 7-Eleven ads on the side of buses advertising limited edition slurpee flavours. The one flavour that really caught my eye was Lemon Lime Bitters. I like the regular slurpees, but sometimes they can be a bit too sweet. This looked like something I might like. And I did, it wasn't too sweet, it's kinda like ordering the drink at a bar and letting the ice melt a teeny bit before freezing it all. I'm going to try and get it again before they stop selling it!

On the cup it says "slurp so much your tongue freezes to the straw" hee hee
What: Lemon Lime Bitters Slurpee
Where: At 7 Eleven stores
How much: I got a medium size for $2.50

February 16, 2011

Happy Birthday from the roof eating cake!

This post is a birthday wish to Jess' husband Dave, who is a silent contributor to this blog. Well, soon-to-be. He will be taking some of the photos for Jess' posts, which are yet to make a debut. He is also a great bro-in-law! I wish him a very happy birthday! The below pictures were taken on a trip the three of us took to Turkey, a beautiful place with friendly people and amazing food. I look forward to more travel and food adventures with Dave and Jess that we can share with you!

Happy Birthday from the roof eating cake!

February 15, 2011

Jack Snacks!... Meiji Apollo Ichigo

Meiji Apollo Ichigo - cute 'apollo spaceship' shaped strawberry chocolates. Just like the strawberry mushrooms I had previously, they have got a really distinct strawberry flavour. And they've got starawberry in the ingredients list too! It's only a small box, I think I would like to carry one in my bag but it would probably disappear so quickly... Houston we have a problem....

One can never get enough starawberry..

What: Meiji Apollo Ichigo
Where: At selected asian shops selling Japanese snacks. I've seen it at Maruyu on Clarence Street and also at Miracle supermarket
How much: It was around $2.99

February 14, 2011

Sweeties Paradise

Sweeties Paradise. It's a Hong Kong style dessert place featuring a myriad of sweet dessert soups and various other offerings. So many that even after 6 visits there are still so many things to try, and already a few favourites. Mango Grass Jelly ($4.99) is a nice, simple mix. The fresh mango offsets the sweetness of the grass jelly. Papaya Fungus Sweet Soup ($6.20) is a tried and true classic that can be served hot or cold. When eaten cold, it's refreshing and perfect for summer. Mango Pomelo & Sago Sweet Soup ($5.50) is fruity, the pomelo giving it a bitter kick to balance the flavours. Almond Soup and Tofu Pudding ($4.50) is for people who really like almond. The tofu pudding is a little different from the usual kind, it has more of a jelly texture than one often sees. Almond Egg White ($5.20) is another one for the almond lover, the almond soup is a nice consistency containing pieces of egg white.

The one let down so far was Snow White Soup (with sago/black pearl, $5.50). We had it with black pearl, maybe that's where we went wrong. There's some bits and pieces of fruit, I can't be sure exactly what they are. And then there's about seven million bits of black pearl, with a load of vanilla ice cream on top. After eating about two million bits of black pearl, one starts to wonder how they are going to eat the other five million.

Papaya fungus sweet soup (front) and Mango grass jelly (back), Mango pomelo & sago sweet soup (front) and Almond soup & tofu pudding (back), Snow white soup with (seven million) black pearls, Midway through Snow white - still so many black pearls... 

Almond egg white and mango glutinous dumplings - when will I see you again?

But there's another highlight to make me forget about Snow White and the seven million black pearls. It's Mango Glutinous Dumpling ($4.99 for 3). The dumpling is soft with the right amount of chewy stickiness and a light mango flavour. Then inside one finds a treasure - a piece of fresh mango. I've been day dreaming about the dumplings ever since that first taste.

Mango glutinous dumpling - the second encounter is just as breathtaking. Thumbs up all round! 

They seemed to be open quite late when I went there on a Friday night, so it's a great option for an after-dinner treat. And they have takeaway too, for those like me who can't get enough. Paradise indeed!

Papaya Fungus Sweet Soup - takeaway makes for a nice treat at home.

What: Sweeties Paradise
Where: 45 Dixon Street, Haymarket
How much: Most dessert soups around the $5 mark

The Other Sister

Yes I do exist and I am finally contributing to our blog although there is no way I will be able to keep up with Jack's snacks and her endless food adventures. It is a shame that we are only starting this now after living in Europe for the last 5.5 years but hopefully being in London, there will still be a few interesting posts from the other side of the world with the help of my husband Dave.

This first entry is going to capture a weekend of fun and celebration a week ago in London. On Saturday we had a quick lunch at Ping Pong, a chain in London that serves dim sum with a modern edge and Asian-inspired cocktails. Ping Pong is a bit pricier than your normal Chinese dim sum (or "yum cha" as it is known in Hong Kong and Australia) but the quality of the food is very good and well presented.

Today is only a quick meal with lots of steamed dumplings: green chive and prawn dumplings; scallop and shiitake dumplings; our favourite seafood dumplings (prawns, scallop and crab in carrot pastry) and finally the cute seabass dumplings in red cabbage pastry (a special dish for Chinese New Year).

We also had some "char siu" buns (BBQ pork buns), some fried crab coriander rolls (a fancy spring roll) and shiitake mushroom and chicken hotpot special which was a bit disappointing. This was all washed down with a couple of cocktails: Lemongrass and lime for Dave and an Elderflower Collins for me.

Ping Pong is highly recommended for a healthy but tasty brunch, or even dinner for the less traditional.
What: Ping Pong
Where: various locations in London
Price: Average £3-4 per dish


Back in September 2010 MeetFresh, a popular Taiwanese dessert chain, opened it's first Sydney store in Chinatown. Even now you'll usually see a long line out the front, such is it's popularity. And one can understand why, the handmade taro balls are a unique offering - chewy with a nice bite. The herbal jelly has a bit of chewiness too, and it's not overly sweet. Tofu pudding is light and silky. I've only tried a couple of the drinks and found them a little on the sweet side. I'm sticking to the taro balls instead!

Taro dessert 1 (left) and Honey bean tofu pudding (right), Taro dessert 1 (front), Herbal Jelly 2 (back).
What: MeetFresh
Where: Corner of Goulburn and Dixon Streets, Chinatown
How much: Around the $5/$6 mark

February 13, 2011


About three years ago I travelled in Argentina for a month and fell in love with the place. It's a beautiful country full of amazingly good people and to top it off, some of the best meat in the world. I would go so far as to say that it is a carnivore's heaven and a vegetarian's hell. I ate so much meat over there that when I came back to Australia I didn't want to see steak again for several months. It's not just the fact that we ate so much of it, but we were spoiled by the quality and taste. So when I first heard that the talented people of Bodega were going to open Porteño, I knew I would be making a visit to see if I could find a little piece of Argentina here in Sydney.

We arrived at the restaurant after driving countless circles around Surry Hills looking for a parking spot. After placing our names on the waiting list we went upstairs to the bar and were seated. The bar is has got great atmosphere and all the staff look very rockabilly cool which I loved. There were a lot of interesting sounding cocktails and C chose the San Carlos whereas I asked for a mocktail of "something fruity" since I was designated driver. We also ordered a tapa from the Bar Menu - I can't remember the exact name but it was a tartare of kingfish and avocado served with tortilla crisps (about $14 or $18). What I do remember is that it tasted awesome. It can get a bit difficult to scoop up the tartare with the tortilla crisps so one might have to resort to fingers which means you get to lick your fingers too.

Finger licking good tartare, the cool bar area and funky cocktails.

We were then taken to a table downstairs and happened to be seated right near the bar, asador grill pit and parilla grill which made for a nice view of the action. Unfortunately both the Cordero a la Cruz (woodfired lamb) and Chanchito a la Cruz (woodfired suckling pig) were sold out so instead we opted for a few other dishes. Our eyes lit up when our waiter brought out chimichurri and salsa - "just like Argentina!" we exclaimed. And so it was with the Chorizo Porteño ($12), both meaty and juicy. Repollitos de Brusela Frito (Crispy Fried Brussel Sprouts with Lentils and Mint, $14) was like a vegetable epiphany. I'd never been a fan of brussel sprouts but these were crisp with a hint of vegie-bitterness and the mint is a perfect touch. Finally the Tira de Asado (beef short ribs, $34) arrives and it's this dish that takes me back to the land of meat aplenty. They were perfectly cooked and so flavoursome. I could almost say "please sir, I want some more" but the serving size is extremely generous and we are practically bursting at the seams by the time I've eaten the last mouthful (the last mouthful is naturally eaten by me, because I am the slowest eater in existence as all my friends know).

Working the parilla grill in style, the best brussel sprouts ever, chorizo and the downstairs bar.

Estrella beer, Tira de Asado and Chimichurri - 3 things to transport you to Argentina.

Our rockabilly-cool waiter said he was impressed that we finished it all and asked if we could even fit in dessert? During the meal I had seen some desserts wafting past to other tables and knew that I needed to make myself acquainted with at least one of them despite being full. So I told the waiter that I would be making use of my dessert stomach and he understood, saying that we were kindred spirits (heehee). The decision wasn't hard, Leche Quemada (burnt milk custard with cumquat jam, dark chocolate ice cream & salted popcorn, $14). On ordering we were informed that the jam was to be made with cherries instead - no complaints from me as cherries are my favourite fruit! The custard was rich and sweet but perfectly balanced by the bitterness of dark chocolate ice cream (when it comes to chocolate icecream, the bitterer the betterer I say) and the other components of the dish. I scraped every little bit off the plate, the only thing left to do would have been to lick it but I decided to exercise some restraint. And when the waiter came to take the plate away? He simply commented "No words need to be said". And so it was with the entire meal, I couldn't fault a thing even if I tried - the service, the atmosphere, the cool-without-attitude attitude and most importantly the fabulous food.

Leche Quemada - no words need to be said.
What: Porteño
Where: 358 Cleveland Street Surry Hills
How much: It ain't cheap but it's worth the money for what you get.

February 10, 2011

Makoto Salmon Sashimi

Wednesday was the seventh day of Chinese New Year. Known as "Yan Yat" in Cantonese (人日) it is considered to be everyone's birthday and for those of us who are Chinese Malaysians, it's a day to "Lao Yusheng" for good luck. Literally this means to mix or toss raw fish. The "Yusheng" is a salad that includes raw fish, vegetables and sauce. Unfortunately you won't see any of that in this post! As it's only mum and me we usually just get some salmon sashimi for our own simple version of lao yusheng. I got this takeaway salmon sashimi from Makoto. It was fresh and came with some seaweed salad, a tasty substitute indeed.

It's not quite Lao Yusheng, but at least it was tasty!
What: Small Salmon Sashimi
Where: Makoto sushi bar, 19 Liverpool St, Sydney
How much: $15 for 10 slices and a little seaweed salad on the side

February 8, 2011

Achacha Thirst Quencher

In my earlier post about Achacha fruit, I had mentioned the Achacha Thirst Quencher. The recipe had been printed on the side of the bag that the fruit was sold in. It mentions that in Bolivia, the drink is used as a thirst quencher and hunger suppressant. Hunger suppressant? Now that's intriguing - is there anything that can suppress MY hunger? The instructions are simple enough and can be found on the Achacha website. All I had to do was wash some Achacha skins and soak them in water, leaving them in the fridge overnight. The next day, strain the liquid and add some sweetener (in this case I chose honey), then it's ready to drink. It was very refreshing indeed with a slightly tart, floral taste. The addition of the honey gives it just the right amount of sweetness to offset the tang. If you do eat some achacha, it's worthwhile trying this drink as well. Did it suppress my hunger? Not really. But then again I did only make one glass, maybe I need to have a few more glasses next time...

Just add water! And some honey too.
What: Achacha Thirst Quencher
Where: Get the recipe here
How much: The fruit skins won't cost you anything, all you need is some sugar or honey

Achacha - the prince of fruit?

I can't remember if it was 1 or 2 years ago that Achacha first appeared in fruit shops. My curiosity was immediately piqued! It turns out that Achacha is Achachairú, a Bolivian fruit related to Mangosteen. It does taste like mangosteen, juicy with flesh that is sweet with a bit of tartness. It is truly delicious and worthy to be related to the queen of fruit. Since that first taste, I can't resist buying some whenever I see it in the shops. At the Chinese New Year markets there was an Achacha stall and I bought a bag for $10.

Could it be? A relative to the queen of fruit?
On the paper bag that contained the Achachas, there were a few recipe ideas. One was for an "Achacha Thirst Quencher" made with Achacha skins, water, sugar and (optionally) mint. Apparently in Bolivia it is used as a thirst quencher and hunger suppressant. Looks like I'll have to find out for myself. Naturally there'll be a post about it!

There's no doubt - after one taste, I'm hooked!
What: Achacha
Where: At fruit shops
How much: It varies, depending on where you got it from. I got this 1kg bag for $10

February 7, 2011

Ching Yip Coffee Lounge

You can probably guess I love food. Something else I also love is a bargain. When the ticket machine on the bus is broken, I don't think anyone is more excited than me about getting a free ride to work (cause that's a saving of $2.64!!!!). So it makes sense that a food bargain is like a match made in heaven. Ching Yip Coffee Lounge has got a great value afternoon tea and daily set menu. Afternoon tea is daily from 3pm-5pm and there are various options which cost either $5, $6 or $7 and all come with tea/coffee. The set meal is about $10 (I can't remember the exact price) and comes with an entree of soup, a main meal which is usually a plate of rice with some kind of dish heaped on and a coffee/tea. There's also the regular menu with loads of options. The best thing about coming here on this occassion was the air-conditioning, which meant some respite from the 40+ degree heat here in Sydney. I ordered the afternoon tea of "Luncheon meat and fried egg sandwich" with an iced lemon tea for the drink. It's a simple sandwich, but the kind that really satisfies with freshly cooked luncheon meat and fluffy egg. Iced lemon tea is just the right level of sweet and not too lemon-y. Apologies for the terrible photos, I had my camera on the wrong setting but I was starving and just couldn't wait to eat!

What better than a food bargain? A food bargain that tastes good.
What: Ching Yip Coffee Lounge
Where: Level 2, Dixon House, 413 Sussex Street, Haymarket
How much: Afternoon tea $5-$7, daily set meal around $10

February 6, 2011

GPO Wood Fired Pizza

Mmm pizza. Especially the thin and crispy wood fired kind at GPO. It's crazy busy if you go there for lunch on a weekday but on a non-Friday weeknight it's not as hectic. I ordered 3 takeaway pizzas from there on a Wednesday night at about 8pm or so. They said it would take 10min and indeed they rang me after 10min to tell me it was ready. The drive home was torture because it smelt so good! And naturally it wasn't as crispy after travelling in a cardboard box but it was still dang good pizza. With an uber thin crust and generous amounts of fresh toppings in great combinations, there's a lot to like. And because the crust is so thin, it's not too heavy. We ordered 3 small pizzas (20cm), the Patate, Salsiccia and Ortolana. The Patate (Bianca Base with Shaved Potatoes, Rosemary, Sea Salt & Olive Oil) had the right amount of saltiness and the potato slices were nice and soft. Salsiccia (Tomato Base, Mozzarella, Italian Sausage Mince, Mushroom & Spinach) was a really nice mix of meat and vegies and Ortolana (Tomato Base with Mozzarella, Eggplant, Zucchini & Mushroom) has a very generous amount of topping which I personally like - it's disappointing to order say a mushroom pizza and only find a scattering of mushrooms on there. And no, I did not eat all 3 pizzas by myself!

Meet my three friends - Patate, Salsiccia and Ortolana.
What: GPO Wood Fired Pizza (see menu)
Where: Lower Ground Floor, GPO Sydney, No. 1 Martin Place.
How much: $40.90 for the 3 pizzas we ordered.

February 5, 2011

Jack Snacks!...Yuhin Popping Candy Dragon Beard Candy

Have you ever had Dragon Beard Candy (龍鬚糖)? I love watching it being made, probably even more than I like eating it. It's hard to get it fresh in Sydney, and Yuhin brand Dragon Beard Candy is a good option hand made in Hong Kong. And it tastes good! They have various flavours - Ice Crispy, Black Sesame, Spicy, Almond and even Wasabi Seaweed. But the flavour we are trying for today's Jack Snacks! is Popping Candy. It's good to place the whole piece in your mouth in one go as it's otherwise messy. First you enjoy the delicate texture of the Dragon Beard Candy and then "pop! pop! pop!" the popping candy goes crazy. I will definitely be getting this flavour again!

Pop! Pop! Pop! It's like a party in your mouth.
What: Yuhin Dragon Beard Candy
Where: At selected asian shops, I got this one from New Yen Yen supermarket (Burlington Centre, Chinatown)
How much: I paid $2.50 for this.

February 4, 2011

Jack Snacks!... Sakuranbo Cherry Candy

During lunchtime one day this week, my friend discovered that I had never tasted UHA's Sakuranbo Cherry Candy. So I was treated to my first ever taste of this candy. It's got a nice cherry taste, kind of like eating a cherry soft drink in lolly form. I like it! Why hadn't we met before?

Cherry candy, where have you been all my life?
What: UHA's Sakuranbo Cherry Candy
Where: At asian shops that stock Japanese lollies. This one came from Citisuper in the city.
How much: Oops, I can't remember as I didn't pay for this one, I'll find out next time I eat it!

Jack Snacks!... Apam balik

Last weekend I went to the Chinese New Year markets at Belmore park. I was in search of Apam Balik, a Malaysian street snack which had been available at the 2010 markets that I didn't make it to. I found it at one of this year's stalls, 2 for $7. There's 2 versions of Apam Balik - the slightly thicker pancake style and the thin & crispy style. I like the thicker pancake style best. Both sandwich a generous sprinkling of sugar and peanuts and there are other things which can be added. More often than not it's creamed corn. I am seemingly one of the only people in the world who does NOT like creamed corn. At the stall on this day it was the thin & crispy version. It also had creamed corn. Not exactly the combination I had hoped for but given how hard it is to find Apam Balik in Sydney, I was very, very grateful. Apologies for the poor photo quality - most of the Jack Snacks! photos are taken using my mobile if I don't have a proper camera handy.

Did I mention I don't like creamed corn?
What: Apam Balik (peanut pancake)
Where: It was at the CNY markets at Belmore park, now over.
How much: 2 for $7.

Jack Snacks!...Lychee gummy candy

Is there anyone who doesn't like gummy candy? The Japanese ones are great cause there's many different flavours such as this Meiji Kaju Lychee Gumi ("gumi" being the japanese version of the word "gummy"). It's got concentrated lychee juice and I could smell them from a couple metres away. They really taste like lychee too. The mini pack size is great to carry in your bag for a sugar hit at any time. You'll note that the price is listed below as "$2.99 on this occasion", prices are just a guideline - if you know Jack then you'll know that she loves to buy stuff when it's on sale. Jack loves a bargain snack.

Carry in your bag for a lychee hit any time.
What: Meiji Kaju Lychee Gumi
Where: I got this from Maruyu (scroll to the bottom of the page for the store locations)
How much: $2.99 on this occasion

Jack Snacks!... Strawberry chocolate mushrooms

I never liked strawberry flavoured food growing up, it just tasted sweet and artificial. But many of the Japanese strawberry flavoured snacks really taste like strawberries without being cloyingly sweet. This is Meiji's "kinoko no yama koi ichigo" (kinoko means mushroom, yama means mountain, ichigo means strawberry). They're cute and have a nice strawberry flavour and disappear way too quickly. A browse of the ingredients finds that it has got "dried starawberry" so that must be where the flavour comes from...

It's the dried starawberry that makes it taste so good.

What: Meiji kinoko no yama koi ichigo
Where: Asian shops that stock japanese snacks
How much: I think it was around $4

Lindt Blueberry Chocolat Mousse

I like chocolate. I like cake too. So naturally I should like chocolate cake, but often it's just too sweet. This Lindt Blueberry Chocolat Mousse ($40 for a whole cake) from one of the four Lindt Cafe's in Sydney looks like it should be too sweet but it actually isn't. Described by Lindt as "layers of chocolate hazelnut biscuit, blueberry compote and dark chocolate mousse that lay beneath a mirror of blueberry glaze", it's surprisingly easy to eat. Not too sweet, the chocolate not too overpowering and the blueberry giving a hint of fruitiness. I guess I do like chocolate cake afterall.

What: Blueberry Chocolat Mousse cake
Where: Lindt Cafe's
How much: this one was $40

Jack Snacks!... Iced Matcha

Welcome to the first 'Jack Snacks!' post. What are they about? Well I'm Jack, and well, I snack. All the time. So I thought it'd be nice to make a short post about the various snacks that I try. Hope you like them, here goes!

It's not hot this week in Sydney. It's _really_ hot. And what better to cool down than an Iced Matcha? And if you're a little lazy, there's nothing better than a ready made mix - just add water! There are a few choices around, this particular one is UJInoTSUYU's 'Matcha with Sugar and Oligosaccharide' (origo sugar). You can have it hot, cold, with milk as a latte or even on shaved ice. So easy, and so tasty... this particular pack costs approximately $6 or $7 for 6 serves and you can get it at selected asian shops.

UJInoTSUYU Matcha w/ sugar & origo sugar - take one stick, pour contents into glass and add water - perfect for the hot weather!
What: UJInoTSUYU Matcha with Sugar and Oligosaccharide
Where: Try asian shops that stock Japanese teas
How much: I think it was around $6/7

February 3, 2011


Recently my great aunt came to Sydney from Malaysia stay with us for three months. She's a coffee lover, or rather a caffeine addict should I say. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.. wherever she went she would try a coffee. Anyone who's been to Malaysia will know that good western style coffee is HARD to find. So it was fitting that we take her for one more Sydney-coffee before she flew back to Malaysia. Where better than her favourite coffee spot in Sydney. High - a cafe on High Street in Randwick that apparently serves excellent Toby's Estate coffee. I'm no expert as I don't drink coffee but from all accounts it's a very good coffee indeed and it looks it too:

Large latte - coffee really is the star of High cafe.
 But it's not just the coffee that tastes good, all day breakfast does too. Avocado, tomato and basil on sourdough toast looked light and fresh. Poached eggs with sourdough toast and a side of avocado was polished off with not a scrap to spare, but for me and my great aunt, we just couldn't go past the scrambled eggs with sourdough toast and 2 sides of bacon to share. The bacon is crispy, the scrambled eggs not too runny with the right amount of creaminess and the sourdough toast soft and fresh. It's a comfortable space too - small but cosy with some artwork on the walls and coffee display at the entrance. There was a continuous trickle of customers and not too many staff but service was still friendly. My family will definitely be back for the coffee, it'll be bacon for me again too!

Scrambled eggs with sourdough toast and 2 sides of bacon. Avocado, tomato and basil on sourdough toast.

What: High Cafe
Where: Shop 6, 166 High St Randwick (Mon-Thu 6:30am-4:00pm, Fri 6:30am-3:00pm, Sat/Sun 7:00am-3:00pm)

Unofficially on the roof eating cake!

Welcome to the unofficial launch of "On the roof eating cake"! This is a blog of two sisters called Jess and Jack who live on opposite sides of the world who love food. On the roof eating cake is where we'll share meals with each other as well as family and friends. It still needs a lot of work in the design department, so watch out for a new design coming soon. Being the first day of Chinese New Year, I'd like to wish everyone Gong Hei Fat Choy! (Below is my latest interest, Chinese paper cutting, what better time to start than just in time for CNY!)