Sunday, 7 December 2014

Ippudo at Central Park, Chippendale

I'd like to confess that I'm no Ramen connoisseur. I'm not one to religiously scope out Ramen eateries and rave about their broth intensity or collagen factor. My palette is not accustomed to the pork-rich flavour of Tonkostsu, nor the full, complexity of Miso Ramen. But, nevertheless, I do love noodles of any sort and will willingly pursue any noodle restaurant to seek out some squiggly goodness. And when a Japanese restaurant by the name of Ippudo extends its branch out to the reasonably new Central Park Complex, you'll bet I'll be there in a heartbeat.

Westfield's Ippudo restaurant in its high-class food court is renowned for it's authentic, full-bodied Ramen. The restaurant in Central Park is located in the ground level Dining District, across the path from Ribs and Burgers, a chic cafe called Autolyse, and next door to the dessert-lover's paradise, Max Brenner. The interior space is not as big as the Westfield branch, but large enough for a comfy space that doesn't feel like you're one in a hundred hungry noodle-slurpers. And, unlike the Westfield flagship, there's little wait (if any at all), at least in the early months since its opening in early October.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Abhi's Indian Restaurant, North Strathfield

It's an old wives tale that spicy food is good for sickness - naturally 'hot' foods like horseradish, wasabi and chilli are good remedies for when you're feeling a bit off or fluey. Likewise, it's also well known (especially in warm, humid places like Malaysia) that eating spicy food can help cool you down on hot days. Eating food like curries when you're sweltering in 30 degree plus heat makes you sweat, which the body's cooling mechanism. Funny, isn't it?

Most of the time when we're sweltering and hot, we shy back into air-conditioned comfort or duck our head in the freezer for an ice cream. Indian food is one of those cuisines that utilises spice not just to counteract the warm weather, but to add layers of complexity to each and every dish. Nothing is without a little bit of spice, and it's not necessarily all hot spice either.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Cornerstone Cafe Bar, Crows Nest

Some foods are just not very graceful to be seen eating in public. A piece of cake, yes. A bowl of salad, sure. A coffee, or cup of tea, of course. But something on a stick like, say, a kebab, or juicy like watermelon...not so much. Spaghetti, hmm maybe. Pizza? Perhaps. But a burger? Uh uh. Not a chance. So it's lucky that most of the time I eat burgers I'm with my family, people I can happily eat anything in the company of. But on the occasions I do venture out with friends, sometimes it's not so smooth sailing. But if you can't eat naturally in front of your friends, then what are friends for, right? 

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Stuffed Capsicums Recipe

What do you do when you have an abundance of capsicums in the fridge? Stuff them, of course!

Seasonal produce can lead to the creation of many an inventive meal. I wish I was the kind of cook who could conjure up a meal, with complementing textures and a balance of flavours, from whatever I have in my fridge. But I'm not. Instead, I'm happy to share with you that I have a confidant in Google and my reliable cookbooks.

Cookbook recipes are the inspiration for my cooking, as well as a form of entertainment. For me, reading a cookbook is like reading a magazine, except that one will be greeted with the extra bonus of being able to glimpse and drool at a collection of beautiful food photos along every page. The way I read a cookbook is the same way I read a magazine - front to back, reading every word on every page, starting with the ingredients and ending with the final step of the method. I'm methodical like that.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

JENESYS 2.0: Kōchi, Japan

Earlier this year I went on a once in a lifetime trip to Japan on the JENESYS 2.0 programme (to read all about it on my first post click here). Part of this involved a trip to regional Japan to experience every day life outside of the bustling, tourist-strewn hub of Tokyo, to spend time with a host family in Japan suburbia. 

When you travel, you experience a city from a different perspective to the locals. Of course, this is in part because you are a tourist, and no matter how hard you dig you will always be a tourist. But this is also because more often than not, you will stay where it is most convenient, where you will be able to travel easily and where you can make the most of your holiday time - whether this be near a popular transport centre or in the middle of the city. You never really get to live like the locals. 

Our regional stay enabled us to do just that - spend our time with Japanese locals, take part in traditional cultural activities and eat authentic home-cooked Japanese food. You could be forgiven for thinking it's all about Tempura, Sushi and Ramen here. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Pho Toan Thang, Flemington

People naturally gravitate towards queues. Perhaps it's curiosity. Or perhaps it's the intrinsic human need to be where the crowds are, to feel included and in the know. Either way, a queue outside a restaurant indicates more often than not that it is one that you should visit. If you have the time and stomach capacity to wait, that is.

At Pho Toan Thang in the inner west Asian hub of Flemington, you will find a queue snaking outside the restaurant, tucked inside an arcade, every day. Some times, if you arrive early enough, you may be rewarded with a short queue, perhaps only two or three groups long. Or if you're really lucky there may be no queue at all. This Vietnamese-Chinese restaurant is well known among the local community for its cheap, consistently delicious food and fast turnover. So don't let the line deter you, it simply indicates a level of popularity and cult-like following signals a good feed. It's not the kind of place you would take someone for a good chat or catch-up, but rather the eatery you would turn to for a quick, low-cost but extremely filling, satisfying meal.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Strawberries & Cream Sponge Cake

I must confess that prior to beginning the journey of this recipe, I had a slight aversion to (or rather, fear of) sponge cakes, for two main reasons.

Reason number 1: The recipe requires the whipping of egg whites. Not that I am scared of this, but rather the lack of a stand-mixer in my kitchen requires a labour of love and 10 minutes of semi-vigorous physical activity to achieve glossy, stiff-peaked whites.

Reason number 2: It's hard to predict how successfully the cake will turn out, as there are a number of variables that could cause it to go downhill. For example, overbeating the egg, beating too much air out of the mixture or having a cake that disappointingly deflates upon taking out of the oven. I say this because the latter happened to me the last time I attempted a sponge to make lamingtons. I later realised I hadn't left it in the oven long enough to rise and become stable.