Gowan Road Chinese Restaurant @ Sunnybank Hills

April 13, 2014

Had a catch up weekday dinner with our regular customer the T family.

Being guided by Taiwanese RT San, I was in good hands.

There are many Chinese restaurants in Brisbane but it was my first time to come across one that serves proper Taiwanese style.

RT San did the ordering and we were blessed with beautiful food from beginning to the end.

Seafood and tofu soup with a good sprinkling of chopped coriander.

Chilli Prawns.

Black pepper steak dish.

Simmered pork belly with preserved pickles and plum.

Kuushin Sai. Hollow vegetable with garlic.

Sweet soy Chicken.

Crisp fried soul with mild spices.

Always inspiring to talk and never ending discussion about cultural differences and food adventures. Thanks T family!

Gowan Road Chinese Restaurant
Shop 10, 156 Gowan Road
SBH Qld 4109
33457866

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The Flaming Olive @ Fortitude Valley

April 13, 2014

The Flaming Olive opened up last week and I visited them with my friend @sushichefshin.

Head chef Wayne has worked with Shin and many other chefs in numerous high end restaurants as well as gaining some experience in Japan.

I saw the future of Brisbane dining scene. Haute cuisine techniques and beautiful presentation in a casual atmosphere and less formal service and cheaper prices. Much more food focused and slightly easy on the wallet making it a more usual affair rather than for special occasions.

We had Wayne serve us his recommendations. He started us off with three chilled dishes. The artisan cured salmon, pickled beet root, poached chicken in master stock.

To follow, the mains. Grilled spatchcock with salsa, slow cooked lamb shoulder, sautéed mushroom with onsen tamago.

Desserts, blueberry merengue with lemon curd and passion fruit parfait.

The savory main of lamb shoulder had been slow cooked in a garlic and EVO minimalist marinade and finished with a chicken juis based sauce. Tender and juicy with contrasting different meat stock was inspiring and delicious. More delicate and subtle contrasting chicken based sauce enhancing the lamb flavor.

My favorite was the poached chicken. Cooked at a low temperature keeping 100% of the inherent moisture . Any bad smells of raw chicken is non existent and a slight firmness and saltiness and umami from the stock has been transferred as well as firmened texture. Matches nicely with a creamy cauliflower purée. Personally I might prefer a slightly bolder acidity hit rather than the accompanying creme fraiche. But anyway the texture is wonderful and such a delightful way to start the meal.

Thanks Wayne and Shin for a wonderful time.

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Bird Cage @ Woollongabba

November 25, 2013

Don’t know why but I have not explored this part of Brisbane too much. Dropped in Bird Cage at Woollongabba for lunch today. Initially came across this place in an article in mustdobrisbane. The picture of the tasting platter lunch with 5 bowls of goodies enticed me to check them out.

Have to say I was not expecting too much as many new places have left me disappointed and the classically fitted out restaurant inside the same heritage building as Enoteca was eerily quiet from the outside. Walking in, we notice the huge ceiling fans humming harmonically and a few young chefs rhythmically prepping probably for their dinner trade. We were offered to choose a table of our fancy and we decided to take the comfy looking tall segmented booth seats.

The lunch options are attractive at $19 per dish and we ordered one of the tasting plate $19 and one of the Thai beef salad $19 as well as the lunch special beer on tap Asahi $6 and Cricketer’s Arms Lager $6.

The tasting plate had pork belly on kimchi and cucumber salad, salmon cakes on green papaya salad, greens w mushroom, chicken and eggplant yellow curry. The pork belly could have been a bit more moist and the Asian greens a tad sweet for me but the salmon cake, super! And the chicken in the curry, perfection! The eggplant I like a bit softer but the contrasting texture among the ingredients (chicken juicy sous vide? Onion, sweet and well cooked, eggplant slightly hard) showed care in the cooking. I savoured the dishes and ordered extra rice$4 to polish everything off.

The beef salad featured a decent sized sliced steak grilled medium and a very spicy papaya salad.

The desert share plate ($19 including two coffees) consisting of intentionally crunchily battered banana fritters and rich coconut ice cream and caramel gritty textured salted caramel sauce finishes off the meal in a decadent happy way. The coffee was very good too!

I imagine that the place is busier and livelier for dinner but having the grand restaurant to ourselves, hogging the comfy booth seating and taking it all in, this lunch was probably the best 73 dollars I spent for lunch in a long time. We shall be back!

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BirdCage on Urbanspoon


Ortiga @ Fortitude Valley

November 25, 2013

Was fortunate to be able to score a table at Ortiga before their closure last month.

I was very keen to repay a visit since chef Pablo mentioned us to an interview he did with the Virgin Airlines inflight magazine. Recommendations from fellow chefs/restauranteurs are the ones that I am grateful the most.

Pictured, the inch thick wine list, inspiring dishes delicious and beautiful. My favorite was the eel dish with elegant espuma and lamb tongue with apple-slaw and garlic flower.  The lamb shoulder was as fall off the bone as rumoured and the tanginess of lemon puree and delicious juis, great.  The desert with dehydrated buttermilk was awesome too! Open kitchen in full steam yet composed, and a final pic with Pablo.

Very sad to see such a world class dining venue getting acclaim but the Brisbane public not following.  I also regretted that my visit had to come at the trigger of their closure news.  In the end, I would like to think better late than never and my wife and I were glad and felt fortunate that we were able to experience Ortiga.  A truly memorable evening.  Thanks Pablo and the team!

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Bird’s Nest @ Westend

November 23, 2013

Finally! A yakitori restaurant in inner city. Damn good too! Using charcoal imported from Japan and free range chicken. Range of good sake and wine too.

Umm, I still think I do a decent job of my own yakitori but the quality of Bird’s Nest compared to the fuss and mess… Hey if you find me at their place sneaking a skewer once a week, that doesn’t mean a thing…

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Bird's Nest Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Dellugo @ New Farm

October 3, 2013

Dellugo in New Farm used to be a favorite of mine when entertaining overseas guests back in the days when I was a mining industry corporate.

Fond memories of a long dinner at Cafe dell’ Ugo with a stretch limo taking my VIP guest back to Sofitel.

Now my VIP guests are my 6 and 4 year olds who are relatively well behaved but are needed to pay close attention to so they don’t break anything on the table.

We had two pasta dishes, a gamberi tagliatelle (special request) and a ragu short pasta. Also the Involtini special and monkfish special. The standout was the gamberi tagliatelle.

I always find myself not enjoying the mains as much as I do the entrees or the pastas. But anyhow the gamberi pasta was amazing!!!

Tiramisu and almond tart to finish off. The tiramisu was very very nice. Coffee was excellent too!

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Dell'Ugo New Farm on Urbanspoon


Tokiya @ Mermaid Beach

October 3, 2013

BYO Japanese French restaurant in the Gold Coast.

The ingredients aren’t the most exotic items available in today’s foodie scene but the job is done properly.

Potato pan cake. Home made hash brown. Just awesome. Will go back just for this!

Salad. Roasted onion dressing is yummy. All the veggies are crisp and cold as a proper salad aught to be.

Garlic toast. Nice.

Sand Crab soup. Bisque is slightly weak.

Seafood chowder. The preferred choice between the two soups. Nice and buttery home style with chunky veggies.

Duck Orange. Juicy plump duck with a sweet duck sauce and compote of apples and fresh navel oranges.

Wagyu rib filet steak. Soy butter sauce.

Prawn and scallop risotto. Nice.

Creamed Potatoes, glazed carrots.

Apple pie and home made ice cream. Ice cream could be a bit more consistent but very nice and way too cheap.

Coffee is good too!

Will be back to sample more stuff. Really love these tiny bistros where you truly appreciate face to face service.

My wife tells me they do a japanse style lunch trade which draws a completely different crowd after cheap Japanese teishoku pasta and bento.

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Tokiya Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Chop Chop Chang’s @ Westend

August 21, 2013

New Asian tapas style restaurant in Westend. Casual but refined, hip but comfortable. A Thai and southeast Asian focused food means there’s plenty of chilli in the food.

Melon salad. Chilli marinated fruit. A good clever way to cleanse and stimulate the palate.

Shaved spicy beef. Actually not so spicy but just right. The rare shaved beef is perfectly tender and juicy. My favorite dish tonight.

Fish curry. Very mild. Fish moist and pumpkin sweet.

Brown rice and jasmine rice. Really glad to see brown rice on the menu. Offsets guilt a bit!

Fried egg w chilli jam. Spectacular presentation.

Salt and pepper cuttlefish. Tender and crisp.

Mussel omelette.

Also ordered “The Gatherer’s Plate” which was simply a dish of fresh asian salad and herbs.

The spiked jugs seemed pretty popular.

Good to see these tapas type places getting popular with younger people and when they are serious about food as much as CCC it’s easy to understand why the place was packed on a Wednesday night.

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20130821-212107.jpgChop Chop Chang's on Urbanspoon


Pork Buns

July 29, 2013

Pork buns seem to be taking the world at a storm. Traditionally china, Korea and Japan had these soft beauties but I am guessing the roots of this modern day pork bun craze is David Chang presenting his twist in New York and this ignited pork bun sliders in New York starting with rival Ippudo (correct me if I am wrong this is my guess). However, to be fair pork buns even in its slider format is not David Chang’s original invention, there had been traditional recipes in places such as Nagasaki which has the kakuni-man.

Anyway, it is amazing that Brisbane now has its own bun mobile.
The Bun Mobile on Urbanspoon

They have some fine dining experience behind their recipes and are pretty good. Looking from a professional perspective, it’s a clever model. All the meat filling is pre-cooked and the finishing grilling is done to add the charry aroma and wrapped with fresh salad and sauce in the pillow of the buns, meaning great quality at lightning speed! I had the twice cooked pork belly bun with a zesty sweet sauce and the wagyu bun with a reconstituted dried shiitake braise and spicy relish. If i were to comment on the taste, for me personally, perhaps I have the image of traditional pork buns so the zesty sauces and the juicy meat are great but i still find myself looking for sweetness and umami that i am used to with the traditional buns. But these buns are in fact nouveau western foods closer to fancy hamburgers rather than traditional nikuman (Japanese pork buns). So from that angle, these are well made buns well exceeding the expected standards of the modest $8.00 price and I won’t hesitate to try another type when I have the chance. Also they have made me want to try David Chang’s famous version in New York.

 

 

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Speaking of the traditional version, this home made pork bun (nikuman) from Art Taste Bakery in the Australia Fair Shopping Centre, Southport, Gold Coast is a classic. Love it. At 3.50, grab one if you are down that way.

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Kyoto – Meimon/Gogyo/Ichibanboshi/Watanabe Seimen

July 2, 2013

19:00 June 30 やっぱ京都で最初の食事はここ以外ないかなー!学生のときはできなかったゴージャスサイドメニュー全種類をつまみに親友と楽しく飲りました!やっぱ名門うますぎ!

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Aji no Meimon Head Quarters @ Shichijo Shichihonmatsu.  This was probably the best bowl rated by university student Taro Akimoto 20years old 17 years ago.  Sticky collagenous chicken soup with no added oils.  Enjoyed the same taste, had to be my first bowl to start my ramen memoir journey.

21:00 June 30 二件目もラーメン屋!一風堂系の焦がし味噌ラーメン五行。町家を改築したオサレなお店、接客もいいし参考になりました。美味しかった。温度が半端ない!あっつ!て感じ。

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Gogyo @ Shijo Sakuranobanba.  Recommended by N san.  Not on my memory list, but after reading about it, a good choice for a few drinks and nibbles and a bowl to finish things off.  The atmosphere and service standards, high motivation of the staff creating a vivbrant feel, all very good stimulation.  They’ve refurbished a Machiya style house probably 300-400 years old to a ramen shop and bar.  The burnt miso ramen’s burn tongue temperature, a really interesting one making me want to experiment too!

11:30 July 1本日一発目は渡辺製麺@西院。日本離れたのが8年前なんで魚介豚骨つけ麺を始めて食べた。魚介濃厚豚骨って話だけどデンプンぽいドロドロさは天一系に魚粉いれた感じ?麺はなかなかだけど僕だったらもう少し加水高めてもっともちもちさせるかな。

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Watanage Seimen @ Saiin.  Have not actually had the chance to try out the Tonkotsu Fish Stock Tsukemen which became main stream several years ago after I left Japan.  So this one also not on my memory list but good breakfast to start the day.  The soup felt not so thick from Tonkotsu protein and fatness but more from starch driven thickness.  Which is not unpleasant but left me still wondering if the real famous shops are also like this.  The noodles also could have been a bit more resilient chewiness which I think can be bettered with more moisture during the noodle knedding process.  Anyway a decent bowl.

13:00 July 1思い出の一番星。マスターは屋台3年、岡崎で34年。味も素敵な笑顔も全く変わっていませんでした。僕はまだ3年、頑張るぞ!

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Ichibanboshi @ Okazaki.  From the outside, you can never tell that this coffee shop looking place is a ramen shop if it werent for the tonkotsu aroma reeking the perimeter.  I rode my bycicle around the corner and smiled to myself as I knew straigth away from the smell that they were open from down the block.  This is the place that i frequented dueing my student days. Probably twice a week.  I was able to speak to the master in depth for the first time in 18 years and introduce myself as a fan and that I have followed his path in Brisbane Australia.  He was very happy to hear of my story and we shook hands.  His stock is tonkotsu predominant and charsiu seasoning as the predominant tare.  Topping is 3-4 decent slices of belly and or shoulder charsiu (very very good!), sprouts, shallots, bamboo shoots.  I always add some raw egg.  He has been keeping his style for 3 years as mobile yatai and 34 years at the current location.  He mentioned there are so many restaurants in Kyoto but still there was a need for a different taste and went for a distinct tonkotsu predominant ramen compared with the other shops that used chicken mainly.  Compare to his 37 years, I am still not even born.  Gambaro!

14:00 July 1 Tenkaippin Head Quarters @ Kitashirakawa. (just as a spiritual pilgrimage, no eating).

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Other shots.  Lost track of time exploring and testing my memory and wasn’t able to score my fifth bowl of ramen.

Nishiki Markets and me sampling some ayu and hamo.

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Doshisha Uni, Otani Uni.

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Nanzenji Temple and Biwako Sosui.

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A shot of my super fast ride of the day ($5 for the day and quicker than car or train!).

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Farewell Japan till next time!


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