May 29, 2011

Jack Snacks!... Q-Choco Mochi Choco Pie (Green tea flavour)

Egad! It's been another crazy week at work that has left me with no time to blog. So, apologies... again. It's going to be like this for a while I'm afraid.

With long hours at work, there's alot more snacking to be done when sitting at your desk all the time. This Q-Choco looked quite interesting - it's from Taiwan and I like Taiwanese food? - and cheap at $2.60 so I thought I'd give it a try.

There's alot of packaging considering the size and number of choco pies in there. They're rather small but they're individually packed and then placed in a cardboard 'tray' which is then vacuum sealed and then placed inside the box that you see on the supermarket shelf. Er.. hello? Environment killer?

It's on the sweet side, but I like it. The chocolate on the outside is that 'asian' tasting chocolate, the mochi is a nice chewy consistency and the green tea filling has got a decent tea taste. The flavours actually work quite well together and I discovered the box was empty in no time at all. I think they have a couple of other flavours, but I just can't go past green tea anything.

Not green-conscious, but it is green-tasty.

What: Q-Choco Mochi Choco Pie (Green tea flavour)
Where: At selected asian supermarkets
How much: I got it for $2.60

May 22, 2011

Jack Snacks!... UHA C-Care Grape

UHA C-Care is one funny candy. It comes in 2 flavours - lemon and grape. I tried grape first and I liked it so much that I just keep buying grape instead of trying the lemon.

I guess it's called "C-Care" because it's got collagen and vitamin C. Hee hee yes, collagen! Not sure if it will improve your skin's elasticity so I'll just describe how it tastes. The outer layer is a hard candy shell. You bite into it and the inside is like a hard gummy - it's chewy and has got a kinda bouncy element to the gummy, all in a nice grape flavour. It's a funny sensation the first time you eat it and, in my case, really addictive! Oh it's also one of those handy small packets that I love carrying around!

Mmm tastes like collagen.

What: UHA C-Care Grape candy
Where: Get it at selected asian supermarkets (I've bought it from Thai Kee in Market City and also Miracle at World Square)
How much: From $3.55 upwards. $3.55 is the cheapest I've seen it and that's from Thai Kee at Market City.

May 20, 2011

Old friends and old favourites: Encasa

There's nothing better than spending time with an old friend - Lost Girl is by no means old, but we've been friends for a long time and that's something I'm more than grateful for.

So what better than dinner with an old friend at an old favourite? I first went to Encasa in 2004 - asked to organise a work lunch for our team of about 12 people (my gluttony was infamous even back then) I thought Encasa would make a good choice. The logic? More people equals more tapas! We ordered 2 of every tapa on the lunch menu and it was ALOT of food and all delicious. It's since been a favourite of mine, the tapas are authentic and the prices are good value.

But back to my dinner with Lost Girl - we didn't want anything too heavy or meaty so we decided to choose two seafood and one vegie tapa. The first was "Pulpo a la Plancha" (grilled fresh baby octopus, $13.50). The taste was nice, although a teeeeeny bit on the chewier side. We still ate it all, but I probably wouldn't recommend it for those with dentures heehee!

We also wanted to get the "Sardinas en Vinagre" (Sardine fillets marinated in olive oil, vinegar and garlic, $9.50). When ordering we were told they don't have sardines but they do have "Anchoas" (anchovies). No complaints from me. These are so good. They go so well with the lightly toasted bread that comes drizzled with a touch of olive oil, the vinegar is refreshing and the olive oil and garlic add loads of flavour. I could eat this all night.

Pulpo a la Plancha. Anchoas en Vinagre - goes perfectly with the lightly toasted bread.

As for the vegie choice... if I could only order 2 dishes when eating at Encasa, these would probably be it because I always order them when I come here. "Champiñones al Ajillo" (Sizzling garlic mushrooms, $9) and Patatas Bravas (Fried potato w/ garlic mayonnaise and spicy tomato salsa, $9). The mushrooms are so garlicky that you probably won't make any new friends but you won't care cause it's more than worth it. And the potatoes, talk about a perfect combination. And it's a huge plate so it's excellent value too.

I'll take Patatas Bravas over chips any day.
And Champiñones al Ajillo - the tastiest defense against vampires and hot dates!

I'm looking forward to my next catch up with Lost Girl. I'm also looking forward to catching up with Encasa again too.

What: Encasa restaurant
Where: 423 Pitt St, Sydney (02) 9211 4257 (check their website for hours and menu)
How much: Tapas range from about $7-$15, they also have main dishes as well as pizza and pasta
Need to know: You should definitely book for dinner, it's always busy at night time. I don't know about you, but I don't like missing out when I have my heart set on Spanish....

May 17, 2011

Birthday wish!

Work is still ruling my life right now, but I wanted to wish C a happy birthday. So happy birthday C! I hope you enjoyed the birthday celebrations over the weekend and I look forward to celebrating more birthdays with you!

As for the birthday dinner, as soon as I get a chance I'll be working on the post! All I can say is that is was delicious!!!

May 15, 2011

Jack Snacks!... Tokyo Super

Egad! I haven't posted in so long, I haven't done much of anything besides working so the posts will be a little sparse until things quieten down, apologies in advance!

You may have already seen or been to the new Tokyo Super shop in Kingsford. Yes, another asian supermarket! They've got a bunch of snacks and some which I haven't seen in other places (there's one awesome one which I will get around to posting about). A few items which are available in other shops were a little bit more expensive but I just couldn't leave without getting something.

So I found these cute looking grape chocolates from Chirin. I haven't seen them anywhere else in Sydney and not only does it look cute but it's cheap at 95cents! They're candy coated choc balls, the candy shell is indeed fruity and grapey with a small amount of chocolate inside. Another one of those things I enjoy carrying in my bag as a handy snack on the bus!

The shop front, the chocolate grape balls. 

Grape chocolate ball pill-popping.

What: Chirin Grape Chocolate balls
Where: Tokyo Super, 307 Anzac Parade, Kingsford 02 9662 4908
How much: 95cents for a 'tab'

May 9, 2011

Chatswood BBQ Kitchen

I love, love, love roast duck. A fact that is known by my family here as well as in Malaysia. So whenever I'm in the neighbourhood I go to Chatswood BBQ Kitchen because they have really good chinese bbq meats. The roast duck is my favourite in Sydney and the other bbq-ed wares are good too.

But a little bit about the place, it's a pretty basic layout and very Hong Kong in style - there's booth tables along the walls, plain chairs and tables in the centre space. The shop front comprises the bbq window where you can watch the bbq-man chopping away dishes of duck/pork with rice for diners and plastic containers of takeaway.

They used to be across the road in a smaller space, but some years ago moved to their current bigger location. Their menu has grown too - in addition to the bbq, noodles and rice dishes there are now dishes for a proper dinner meal, including steamed whole fish (fresh from the tank), mud crabs and more. It all looks tasty too.

The duck is consistently good - lean with glistening skin and moist flesh. I can't speak for others, but this is just the way I like my roast duck. I could never go past it when deciding what to eat until.....

A bbq admirer? 1/4 Roast duck - just look at it...
I think it might have been a year ago (or more, I can't remember) that I saw something new on the menu - "Soaked rice with Shun De fish ball" (順德魚腐泡飯 in Chinese, $10.30). For those who aren't familiar, soaked rice is a dish which is like rice in soup, with meat/seafood/vegies added in. It is so good. The fish soup is full of flavour with a nice milky consistency. In addition to the rice and the (super awesome) Shun De fish balls there's chinese cabbage, diced up mushrooms, zha cai (pickled mustard plant, which gives the soup the teeniest sour notes which I like), wood ear fungus and corn kernels. The Shun De fish balls are really something else - it's soft and soggy in a good way and the pre-frying (when they're made, I think) gives them lots of flavour. Heaven. It's since been my favourite dish at Chatswood BBQ Kitchen.

Soaked rice with Shun De fish balls. a.k.a "heaven"
Oh, I should mention there are other variations of soaked rice and rice noodle too. All come in the milky fish soup. I got a taste of the "Rice noodle and cuttlefish ball and seaweed" ($10). The cuttlefish balls are really soft, yum. The soup is lighter compared to the Shun De one but still flavoursome. Thumbs up, but my heart still belongs to Shun De fish balls.

Rice noodle and cuttlefish ball and seaweed
What: Chatswood BBQ Kitchen
Where: See below for the growing empire
  • Chatswood original branch: 306-308 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood 02 9419 6532
  • Soon to open Chatswood branch: 426-428 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood
  • Hurstville branch: 192a Forest Road, Hurstville 02 9580 6881 (only takeaway BBQ from memory, yes I've been there too..)
  • Eastwood branch: Shop 32/1 Lakeside Road, Eastwood 02 9874 5508 (not sure if this is BBQ only/takeaway only)
How much: 1/4 duck as a dish costs $10, soaked rice/vermicelli in the $10 range.
Need to know: Dinnertime is VERY busy at Chatswood. I don't know if they take bookings. While I waited in line I think heard a waiter say that if you want crab, you should pre-order.

May 6, 2011

Jack Snacks!... Funwari Meijin in Sydney!!!!

I first read about Funwari Meijin on and was so intrigued by (read "desperate to try") this super fluffy rice snack. It sounded really interesting and I searched high and low in Sydney trying to find a shop that stocked it. To my disappointment I failed miserably. I finally tasted it when I bought some in Singapore last year and wow! It really is super light and fluffy and really very different from anything else. It's like munching on little puffs of cloud.

GOOD NEWS. Two weeks ago I saw this at Miracle supermarket!!! I bought one straight away of course. I went back there tonight to stock up on snacks and did not see a single pack anywhere (good news travels fast). There is still hope though, I also saw it at Conveni-8 last week.

I could not believe my eyes... Funwari Meijin in Sydney!!!!

If you're into snacks like me, you definitely should try this. They have only stocked the original Kinako flavour which means it's sweet so if you like munching on sweet puffs of cloud, get to Conveni-8 before they sell out too (if they haven't already). Wonder if they're going to get more stock in? Wonder if they're going to get other flavours?....

Maybe my cloud description was not accurate. But who's to say I am wrong, have you eaten a cloud?

What: Funwari Meijin snack
Where: It was at Miracle Supermarket at World Square but seems to have run out already. Also seen at Conveni-8, 303 Pitt St Sydney (see my post on Conveni-8 for opening hours/location)
How much: I paid $7.45 for 6x multi pack at Miracle

May 4, 2011

The Cut Bar & Grill (and some birthday wishes)

This post is dedicated to 3 people. Firstly, NfOrCeR as this dinner was for his 30th birthday celebration - hope you had a great birthday my friend! And I am really glad I got to celebrate with you! Secondly is tanash - a big, big thank you, you know why. And last but certainly not least to E because today is his birthday and he loves a good piece of meat. Happy birthday E!! :)

So yes, meat features in this post. And really it should because meat is the absolute star of The Cut Bar & Grill. Now, I have to admit - being an Argyle restaurant I had some doubts. I didn't expect the food to be bad, I expected good food. I just didn't know whether it would be a great meal or whether it would be a case of style over substance. I'm not saying that Argyle is style over substance, just that a few frequenters are (a few, not all, and definitely none of my friends fall in this category). Maybe I think this because one can be refused entry to Argyle if one is not fashionably attired. It's also possible I was one of these said people the same night we came to The Cut to eat.

One last point about style. The Cut does have style. There's the pair of bullhorns overhead as you descend the stairs down to the underground restaurant. Marble tables, exposed sandstone and brick walls, timber ceiling beams and supports. Leather banquettes, leather chairs, leather chairs with cowhide backs. Black and white 'sketch' mural of a bookshelf that tells you which toilet is for which gender. Glass wall that corridors off the toilets with a barely discernable gap as an entry point (and if you miss it, the table nearest to the toilets might just notice and have a little giggle). Little cleavers and chopping boards acting as door handles in the toilets (which of course you don't see until you've made it through the glass wall).

F stands for female, leather abounds, the moody looking bar.

Yes folks, it is one stylish meat house. But it's comfortable too - the temperature is just right - even for the person who is always cold (me!). The lighting is soft but it's not so soft that you can't read the menu or see your food. Noise level is good too - it's quiet enough that you don't have to shout yet noisy enough that you don't have to whisper to avoid sharing your conversation with adjacent tables. And as we were seated on a bigger table with the curved leather banquette on one side, it felt very much like your own dining space.

Hurry up and get to the food you say? Ok. But first I need a drink. How about a "Mrs Robinson" cocktail (Parma Pomegranate Liqueur and Pomme Verte with lychee juice, whole lychees and watermelon cubes, $20)? It's described as young, fresh and fruity - aptly so as it ticks all those boxes. The only complaint is that it's got fruity bits in it which don't travel up the skinny straw too well. But that doesn't stop our table from ordering 3 of them.

Why hello Mrs Robinson.... yummy..

Bread is nice, there's a choice of white or brown (?) and best of all you can butter it or dip in olive oil. Side dishes are nice too, all $9. We got 'Shoestring fries with horseradish aioli', 'Steamed broccoli with almonds and anchovy butter' and 'Fried rosemary potatoes with prosciutto' which was the table favourite. Salads are all $10, ours was a 'Baby cos, red radish, dill creme fraiche and garlic croutes'. All is well in the food department thus far, but there's no wow factor just yet...

Bread olive oil or butter, shoestring fries, mustard.

Glorious fried potatoes with prosciutto, baby cos lettuce salad, steamed broccoli.

That is until the steak arrives and everything sort of fades into the background. The menu indicates that they are all grilled over beechwood and charcoal, then finished under a 650 degree broiler. I chose the '4-hour Slow roast Sher F1 Wagyu standing rib', served from their wagyu beef trolley, opting for the 300gm 'standard cut' ($39). It comes out on a white plate plain and simple, no unnecessary garnishes or adornments - it's all about the meat. It is perrrfectly cooked. It is stupennnndously tender. It tastes absolutely FANTASTIC. There are complimentary mustards or you can order a sauce for $5. Being an Argentinian food devotee, I tried the chimichurri. This was the one and only disappointment of the meal, it's not at all like the chimichurri in Argentina so stick to the other sauces (I tasted the ones my friends ordered and they were much nicer). And if you want real chimichurri then head to Porteño. One friend didn't order any sauce and was given a steak gravy/sauce of some sort, which I think a nice gesture.

E - this one's just for you, happy birthday my friend!

After the amazing steak, it was time for dessert. We placed our orders and NfOrCeR's was served with a candle for his birthday. Aww. I like those kinds of gestures too. I had 'Chocolate coconut mousse, black cherry sorbet with coconut rough soil and cherry liquer bubbles' ($16). Yum - quite a strong chocolate emphasis but a really nice flavour. The black cherry sorbet really cuts through the sweetness and makes for a good pairing. 'Praline crusted meringue with passionfruit curd and campari pearls' ($14) - it's one of their sweeter offerings but very nice and very pretty presentation. And then the 'Apple pie' - apple and blackberry jelly, honey creme, black cumin milk sorbet ($14) - this was very good. So good that the owner of this particular plate had eaten half before I got to take a photo. And I could see why once I tasted it, all the components worked well together in both taste and texture, a perfect combination of fruity and creamy flavours. I felt a little sugared out by the end of dessert so possibly something a little lighter would have been more suitable. But then that's probably because I was in a steak-induced food coma... and it was totally worth it.

Chocolate coconut mousse, Praline crusted meringue, half of the 'Apple Pie'

Hope you had a great birthday NfOrCeR!

What: The Cut Bar & Grill
Where: 16 Argyle Street, The Rocks
How much: Check the online menu for additional prices

May 1, 2011

Jack K-Snacks!... The Stone Age (석기시대)

The weekend is nearly coming to an end, I hope you've all enjoyed it! So with the new week about to begin it's time to wrap up K-Week with one more K-Snack!

I saw this at a Korean grocery shop and thought "Ooh chocolate rocks! How awesomely primary school!"
I have a penchant for old school foods and snacks. I also like handy little packets that I can stow in my bag, it's always good to have nibbles on the bus, out shopping, and anytime else. The name of these chocolate rocks translates as "The Stone Age" heehee! Well, not much to report in terms of taste, it's exactly like the kind you had in school - candy covered milk chocolate that look like little stones. Which ain't a bad thing, the old school classics shouldn't be messed with.

It's old school alright.. all the way from the stone age.

What: 'The Stone Age' chocolate rocks (석기시대)
Where: Find it at Korean grocery shops. I got mine from Wellbeing Mart (10 London St, Campsie), one of my favourite Korean shops - it's big and has loads of different things.
How much: $1.00