Močan & Green Grout

Met up with a friend for lunch and we decided to check out Močan & Green Grout, a little cafe that has recently expanded from their hole-in-a-wall-coffee-takeaway business. 
When you first set your feet into Močan & Green Grout, it almost feels like you are going into someone's home. It's a small, rustic and cozy cafe with an open kitchen right in the middle of it.  Thus, you can choose to seat by the kitchen island and enjoy the makings of your food or alternatively, you can seat at the comfortable seats spread around the cafe. 


Tongue & Groove - New Menu Tasting

A few weeks back, I was privileged to be invited to try Tongue & Groove's new menu by their new head chef, Ayhan Erkoc, who has previously worked at The Manse, Noma and Celcius. I haven't been back for a while (previous visit blog post) but the atmosphere at T&G remains relaxed, modern and chic. I would also like to thank the friendly team at T&G especially Andrew Duong (Senior Restaurant Manager), Luke Cathcart (Restaurant Manager) and Sophia for their attentiveness and the awesome service on the night! 

We started out the night with some lovely tapas and drinks. Since I could not have any alcohol, T&G made some lovely mocktails for me instead!
From left to right: Lychee Delight, Berry Mojito & Espresso Martini (I didn't actually have this as it contained alcohol)


Simply Pho

Although winter is officially over...it doesn't seem to be the case here in Canberra!
Apart from last Friday's unusually hot day, Canberra has been either cold, windy, rainy or all of those combined *sigh
Well...winter has got its benefits too. That means i am able to savour pipping hot noodle soups without sweating like a pig! On this occasion we happened to stumble upon Simply Pho in Gungahlin - a small place with clean surrounds and an relaxed atmosphere. The staff was super friendly and efficient.

We started out with some Rice Paper Rolls (Pork) which were alright but nothing fancy.

We then proceeded to devour our pho(s): Simply Pho (premium rare beef and meat balls) and Pho Combo (rare beef, brisket, soft tendon, tripe and meat balls). Since they both looked almost identical, I only took a photo of one Pho dish. The rare beef was served quite rare (as pictured below) and I had to wait for a bit until it was semi-rare to enjoy it (if you like your beef cooked through then you will have to wait a bit longer). The components in the Pho Combo were good and the soft tendon was my favorite. The meat balls were quite nice as well and overall the bowl of pho felt quite light and clean as opposed to the hearty and filling-feel that I usually get from having phos.
Veredict: I am not sure if I liked it or not but it felt healthier though. Although next time in Gungahlin I would certainly take away their Saigon Roll which seemed quite popular =)

Simply Pho on Urbanspoon


Ladurée - Sydney

Here it is!
Ladurée has finally arrived in Australia (around mid-September) and with much excitement, I was able to get hold of a box of macarons *yey! Being one of the oldest makers of macarons in the world with 150 years of history, I couldn't wait to try these little gems.
Just FYI, one needs to queue for about 1 hour to buy these (I heard it was worse when it first opened up). O_O"

I got a box of 12 macarons ($3.20/ea) and these were the flavours in it:

Salted Caramel (x2), Pistachio, Raspberry, Blackcurrant Violet, Orange Blossom, Coffee, Ghana Chocolate, Liquorice, Lemon Lime Marshmallow, Almond Marshmallow and Strawberry Marshmallow.

Most flavours that I got were quite 'safe' as the more 'exciting ones' were not yet available or have run out: cherry blossom and basil lime, for example.

The ones that I was particularly excited to try were the marshmallow ones and they were quite nice. I liked that 'spring-y' texture from the marshmallow and Lemon Lime Marshmallow was my favorite.
In my humble opinion, I thought that the macarons were OK. I wasn't sure if that was because of the high expectations that I had or what, but they were not WOW and the texture wasn't the best either. The macarons crumbled easily and for some of them, I couldn't even taste anything but sweet - i.e. liquorice
Out of all the macarons that I tried, Blackcurrant Violet, Ghana Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Lemon Lime Marshmallow were my favorites.

Verdict: Not sure if I'd be willing to travel 3 hrs down to Sydney, queue up for an hour and pay $3.20 for a macaron that wouldn't WOW me.

Ladurée on Urbanspoon


Nyonya - Quick Lunch

Dear SMB blog readers, 

I've disappeared for a while (close to 4 months! Yikees!!!) but I hope you will all forgive me. I've been occupied with a lot things lately (including the trip to Hong Kong) that I barely have time to blog! You guys can have a look at one of the few things that I've been doing lately...check out my 'other-than-food' photography in the link below =)

For this post, I have decided to blog something quick and simple. 
I know I have blogged about Nyonya before but this post is slightly different. Nyonya has recently undergone a change of ownership and now they have added breakfast items as well as pies to their menu. Their pies are all made on the premises and look out for Malaysian flavoured pies such as Beef Rendang, Curry Beef and Curry Chicken as they tend to run out quite quickly. The pies are of decent size and $5 each (including $0.20 for sauce); here are the pies that i dug into on my latest visit:

- Beef Burgundy: delicious pie with chunky and tender pieces of beef. My favorite pick out of the two!

- Curry Chicken: I must have a very low tolerance for spicy foods because I found this quite spicy myself (i literally had to drink some water after every bite). Apart from that, the curry was nice and the pie pastry was quite good too.

The pies were quite satisfying and I will certainly come back to try other flavours. It's a perfect lunch option for those who are in a hurry! 

Nyonya on Urbanspoon


Bellabar and Locanda Winter Menu Sampling

About two weeks ago, I was kindly invited to sample the new Winter Menu by Bellabar and Locanda. Each dish was paired with a drink but since I can't have alcohol, I won't be reviewing them (photos won't be missed though!). The tasting night was great and thanks to the Bellabar & Locanda Team for their awesome hospitality. I must say that Max is definitely one of the most friendly (and very hospitable) general managers I've met.
Bellabar is just adjacent to Locanda with a comtemporary decor and dim lighting which makes the place quite cozy and romantic. Locanda, on the other side, has a more rustic decor and i definitely loved the big bench filled with freshly made pasta and mouth watering Italian antipasto items.

The night started out with Bellabar's lounge food menu being paired up with some drink creations by Jared - the senior mixologist at Bellabar who is very knowledgeable and friendly. Knowing that I couldn't have alcohol, Jared was so kind to make me a mocktail instead - Ginger & Cucumber Lime Mocktail.
The first dish up was the Fried Gnocchi paired up with the Bella “75” (no photo for this drink, sorry). According to Paolo, the executive chef, this dish is an inspiration from Sicily and it was served in a mini iron pot with some rocket leaves and finished off with a beautiful salsa verde. The gnocchi is freshly made with potatoes and was lightly fried, which created a lovely and crunchy texture outside while retaining the inside light, fluffy and full of potato flavour! Delicious~

Next dish was the Lamb Medallion paired with the Closer - the drink served in a martini glass shown in the first photo. Frankly speaking, i am not a fan of lamb dishes but this one wasn't too bad. The lamb was slightly grilled and put in an iron pot (same as the fried gnocchi) on a bed of mash potato and topped with some salsa verde. The lamb medallion was quite tender and not overly 'lamby'...very nice with the mash too!

Last of the Bellabar's tasting menu was the Bresaola on Parmiggiano paired with the Moscow Mule. I quite liked the strong and bold flavours present in this dish; the bresaola was cut paper thin and delicious when savoured with parmiggiano. The pickled tomatoes were super juicy and full of flavour and that just added an extra punch to the dish! Lovely.

Moscow Mule
Now moving on to Locanda's winter menu (no photos for the drinks as they were paired up with wines, except for the dessert dish), we are first presented with an entree called The Ducketta which literally means Little Duck. I never really had duck as an entree so this was actually quite interesting and a bit different. The duck used in this dish was a young duck cured and slow cooked in duck fat for about 12 hours, served with strawberries and celeriac and finished off with a plum vinaigrette. The duck was tender and the flavours worked well without making this dish 'too heavy for an entree'.

The next dish was a pasta dish, Trofie Pasta served with Scallops, Oyster Mushroom and Tarragon Pesto. Trofie pasta is like a twisted parpadelle, if you are wondering. The pasta was cooked al dente (perhaps just a tad under for my liking) and it was served with some nicely seared juicy scallops. The dish also exhibited some lovely earthy flavours from the mushrooms and the tarragon pesto; good dish for winter i must say.     

Next up was the Asparagus Risotto which it is pretty much self explanatory. The rice was cooked to perfection and all the ingredients just came well together. Simple, elegant and not to mention delicious! It's a must dish for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike =) 'No cream added!' - as Maxi emphasized.

Last dish to come out before the dessert was probably one of the highlights for most of the guests, The "OX" Scotch Fillet (aged 60 days). This was slow cooked in aged balsamic vinegar to add that beautiful caramelization on top of the meat while retaining its tenderness and the juices inside. The final presentation was done in front of us where Paolo cut the Ox Scotch Fillet into strips and drizzled some olive oil over them. Unlike the normal beef scotch fillet, ox scotch fillet taste a bit gamier and feels richer too. This dish was really done well and totally recommend it.

Last of the tasting menu was of course a dessert dish, the Passionfruit Semifreddo and White Chocolate Panna Cotta. The semifreddo was quire refreshing which matched quite well with the slightly richer and smooth white chocolate panna cotta. This dessert was matched with their House Barrel Aged Negroni.

House Barrel Aged Nigroni

The night ended well and I am sure all of the guests enjoyed it as much as I did. I was quite pleased with the quality and the standard of the dishes; dishes that deserve another mention (in my humble opinion) are the ducketta, the asparagus risotto, the ox scotch fillet and of course, the fried gnocchi. I am most certain that I will be back for these sometime!

Lastly, I would like to thank Phil (from The Mark Agency) for coordinating this event and I would also like to thank Paolo Milanesi (Executive Chef), Max Rossi (General Manager) and Jared Thibault (Senior Mixologist) for being such awesome hosts. 

Locanda Italian Steakhouse on Urbanspoon


Soju Girl

I've always wanted to come to Soju Girl and after who knows how long, i've made it! We went there on a Saturday night and as expected, it was busy. Soju Girl's decor is classic-chic with a hip and trendy twist; it is divided up into sections where you can enjoy some nibbles and drinks at the lounge area or you can have a proper sit down dinner. The menu focuses primarily on contemporary Asian fusion food done in small and large plates to be shared around and of course, best enjoyed with the variety of fun and fresh cocktails that Soju Girl has to offer.

We started with a few small plates to share:

- Tiradito of King Fish, Yuzu, White Soy, Radish: the kingfish was fresh and well dressed by the yuzu dressing. The sourness from yuzu was quite prominent but balanced well with slices of cucumber and radish.

- Thick Cut Bonito Sashimi with Yuzu Koshu and Japanese Soy (part of the specials menu): the bonito sashimi was fresh and matched deliciously with the yuzu koshu in Japanese soy.


Lanterne Rooms

Being awarded 1 hat by the Sydney Morning Herald last year, I was more than thrilled when I discovered that dinner had been booked at the Lanterne Rooms. This restaurant especialises in Nyonya Cuisine but it also has some Chinese, Indian and Western influences. The restaurant's design cleverly incorporates dark wood beams, bamboo shutters and beautiful detailed lamps to create an elegant Asian-influeced dining venue. The menu is not very extensive but enough to keep you excited. We ordered a few entrees to share starting with Cured Ocean Trout on Fennel and Carrot Confit. The trout was fresh, nicely cured and it blended well with the sourness from the fennel and carron confit. 


La Cantina

It feels like ages since i last posted here and i do apologize for that. On the other hand, i do have a few places that are eagerly waiting to be posted! 
For quite a while, i have been wanting to visit La Cantina - a nice rustic and cozy Italian restaurant located in the quiet surrounds of Narrabundah. The restaurant is nicely decorated with an array of oil paintings set against the thick brick walls, and definitely loved the brick archways that were cleverly lit by some simplistic modern lighting. Beautiful restaurant, i must say. 


Alice Thai Restaurant

Honestly, i wouldn't have found out about Alice Thai Restaurant if it wasn't for a friend of mine, who raved about how good their Pad Thai was. Alice's location is not exactly the best because their entrance can be easily go by unnoticed and their sign is often hidden behind the dance studio one. Alice's is not very big but you can tell that the owner has meticulously selected the paintings and decorations to create a traditional Thai atmosphere in the restaurant.


Homemade Orange & Star Anise Infused Quail Salad

Despite being tired and all, i decided to cook quail for the first time! *YEY
Since it was my first time cooking it, I decided to stick to the fairly traditional combination of flavours - orange and star anise. Overall, the salad tasted nice but i wished the quail was a bit more moist =P. Here is a photo of how it turned out:


Sanur's Balinese Restaurant

Hi SMB readers,
Sorry for the lack of posts as i've been quite busy lately but i hope you have all had a wonderful 2011. Wishing you a HAPPY (super belated) 2012 too! 
Sanur's Balinese Restaurant was the last restaurant that i've visited in 2011. It was a rainy and cold night after work and all i wanted was a hearty meal. Sanur's it was, since a lot of places were already closed for the holidays. It is a nice looking restaurant boasting full length glass windows and humbly decorated with interesting Indonesian ornaments.  The staff is friendly, polite and very helpful in describing what each component was.
We decided to order a Sate Sanur's for starters which was a combination of beef, chicken and prawn satays and it was accompanied by rice cake, pickled cucumber, sambal and Sanur's satay sauce. The satays were nicely served on a small pretty griller but that was just for 'decorative purposes'. Taste-wise the satays were alright but i wish they were served hot instead of near-cold; the accompaniments were nice though, especially the satay sauce. 

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