The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 22 July 2016

Average dim sum @ Yum Cha Cuisine [Westfield Carindale], Brisbane (Australia)

We find it quite amusing that though we have lived in yum cha city for a few years already, whenever we visit our families in Australia, very often it is Chinese food or we go have dim sum. For my side of the family, Chinese is the easiest option because we can order a variety of food to share banquet-style while pleasing the parents who have a clear preference for Chinese cuisine. For hubby's side of family, it is a novelty for them to eat Chinese food and dim sum, and perhaps they think that I would much prefer to eat Chinese food, though I probably am far more open-minded than they are about trying all kinds of food. It is just as well because we hardly eat Chinese food here in Hong Kong - our family is too small to enjoy banquet-style eating - and let's face it, yum cha is much better with a bigger group. Last year we were in Brisbane to visit hubby's dad and family, and the first thing they did after picking us up at the airport was to bring us to Yum Cha Cuisine at Westfield Carindale for some dim sum lunch. The decor was simple, and service could do with some improvement. Some dishes were slow in coming out, which we found pretty inexcusable given that we were the only customers at the time of the day (around 2pm, after the peak lunch time). The dirty dishes were not cleared even when there was no more space for new dishes served, and one waiter looked like he would rather be somewhere else. The food itself was quite average, but the sweets were pretty good. If I recall correctly, the bill came to about AU$120 for four adults, which is quite pricey for dim sum. I am not too familiar with the foodie scene in Brisbane, so I cannot give an opinion of how Yum Cha Cuisine fares against other such restaurants in the same city, but there are much better dim sum for cheaper in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. There are a few branches of Yum Cha Cuisine all around Brisbane, so perhaps some are better than others, and I'm hoping the one in Westfield Carindale is not the best one.

The entrance to Yum Cha Cuisine from the mall:

Yau Yu Sou (crispy fried squid) - this wasn't crispy enough:

Har Cheong (rice noodle roll with prawns) - the noodle roll was a bit too thick:

Lo Bak Gou (turnip cake) - this was tasty:

The roast goose was ok, a bit dry in parts:

Char Siu Bao (barbecue pork bun) - these were good, and the kids finished these off in good time:

Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings) - the skin was too thick, but the filling was tasty enough:

Har Gao (prawn dumpling) - again the skin was too thick, but the taste was good:

Mango Pudding:

Egg Tart:

A version of Ma Lai Gao ("Malay Cake", steamed sponge cake), with taro jam in between the layers. We loved this and wanted to order more, but the first one took ages to arrive and we didn't want to wait any more:

Yum Cha Cuisine [Westfield Carindale]
Ground Level
Westfield Carindale Shopping Centre
1201/1151 Creek Rd
Carindale QLD 4152
Tel. +61 7 3398 8882

Yum Cha Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Sushi lunch @ Itacho Sushi [Olympian City], Hong Kong

Whenever we need to get any shopping done for the kids - their clothes or shoes - we head to the mall at Olympic where the stuff are not as expensive as the mall under our apartment building. Sometimes, we head over there just to eat. In March and April, it was raining a lot in Hong Kong. We had weeks of non-stop rain, and one rainy Sunday, we got bored with the same-old indoor scene around our home, so we hopped on the MTR one stop over to Olympic for a change of scene. We had lunch at Itacho Sushi, which proved to be a pretty good choice for sushi and sashimi. Service was efficient, and ordering was done via a tablet, which was a novelty. Prices were quite reasonable for the quality that we received.

Sushi counter:

The menu and order form on the tablet:

The boy's favourite sushi: salmon roe (HK$26/pc):

Mini sushi egg rolls(HK$28):

Itacho's Kids Meal (HK$62). The kids ate only three pieces between themselves:

Jika Cold Udon (HK$26) - the 2-year-old loved this:

Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Tempura (HK$33) - a good way to get some veges in the kids' tummies:

Salmon roll (HK$32 for 3 pieces):

Hubby and I shared the 8-Assorted Sashimi (HK$320). There was botan-ebi (shrimp), scallops, sea bream, yellow tail, salmon, tuna:

The Assorted Tempura (HK$58) was also a popular one that everyone enjoyed:

Overall this was a pleasant experience, and would revisit next time we want good sushi that is nearby.

[Prices quoted above do not include the 10% service charge.]

Itacho Sushi
Shop G23, Ground Floor
Olympian City 3
1 Hoi Wang Road
Tai Kok Tsui, Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 2793 3822

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Street food in Hanoi Part 3: xoi che, chao suon, banh bao

We are back home in Hong Kong now. That trip to Perth was so good but also so tiring; travelling with three kids (two under 3) is hard work. But it really was great to catch up with families and long-time friends. This is the final post from our trip to Hanoi last summer. I can't believe it already has been almost a year since we were in Hanoi, sampling all the delicious street food! Baby #3 was still in my belly, causing me awful morning sickness grief, but I somehow still managed to enjoy the foodie experience in Hanoi. Most of the following street stalls were marked on the map by our hotel guy who gave very good food recommendations. Nothing beats having a local's advice!

Xoi Che (sweet glutinous rice and treats)

The first stall we found was marked on our paper map by our hotel guy, but saw a similar stall across the road selling the same stuff, and we decided to check it out for comparison's sake. The first stall operated in front of a tailor's shop, which seem to be a common way for pop-up food stall businesses to run in Hanoi. The proprietress had some English ability, and she managed to understand what I was trying to buy.

Friendly partnership between the tailor shop and the xoi che stall:

The xoi che lady at work:

A simple dessert that was ready in a matter of seconds (though the ingredients would need to be pre-prepared):

Sticky rice with a simple syrup:

We also got a layered mixed beans dessert (quite possibly the Che Ba Mau, three-coloured dessert) which was refreshing and sweet and filling:

Across the road is a proper shop selling the same kinds of dessert, but with more varieties. I can't figure out if they're both owned by the same people because the signs of each shop state the same address, but we think the sweets taste better at the first stall. The dedicated seating space inside and in front of the second shop may be a bit more comfortable, though I'm sure you agree that there is not much that can be done to make sitting on low stools any more comfortable than it is (consider my poor hubby who had a big-for-her-age 21-month-old strapped on to him in a carrier - the bad pavements (and the lack of pavements altogether) plus the rain make Hanoi not very good for wheeled pedestrians).

Across the road at 93-95 Hang Bo:

There is a proper menu (in Vietnamese) on the wall, and google translate indicates that one side lists what is available in winter and the other is the summer menu:

The same bowl of sticky rice and layered mixed beans to compare. The other one is better:

93-95 Hang Bo Street
Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi, Vietnam

Chao Suon (spare rib rice porridge)

I love congee, so I was pleased to see this marked on the map. The consistency of this congee is thick and super-smooth. Flavour is great, but not a big fan of the spare rib bones. Comes with a serving of quay which is essentially the Chinese you tiao, the great partner of all things congee. You can also request pork floss topping, if you know how to ask for it (we didn't - there was a lot of pointing and gesturing).

Open-air dining at this roadside stall:

Super smooth and thick congee with condiments:

16 Hang Giay
Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel. +84 4 6684 9857

Banh Bao (steamed meat buns)

This is just like the Chinese bao. There were several stalls selling these steamed buns literally by the side of the road along the same street, and we chose the friendliest one (the other two didn't seem to care for our business). This is a meal-in-one deal, perfect for grabbing to have on the go.

Soft fluffy bao:

Glass noodle, vegetables, egg and meat inside:

Tiem Thanh Beo
8 Luong Van Can
Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi, Vietnam

Monday, 4 July 2016

Cheap and tasty Japanese @ Taka's Kitchen [Barrack Street], Perth (Australia)

G'day from Down Under! We are visiting Perth right this moment - we've been here just over a week, and will sadly return back to the daily grind of Hong Kong living at the end of this week. It has been almost two years since our last visit here, so this is well and truly an overdue trip. It's so far been an awesome great time with our families and friends - hubby and I especially love seeing how much fun our kids are having with their cousins - that it is more than making up for the huge effort it is to pack up and travel with three young ones. Everyone is loving meeting the newest addition, though the feeling is not reciprocated as all the excitement and new faces have been rather overwhelming for the wee 4-month-old. We've been enjoying the eating and all the food so far, trying out new places with families and friends, and revisiting our old favourites. One of our first meals in Perth this visit was to Taka's Kitchen. We needed somewhere close by our accommodation which was open at 5pm for early dinner so that we could make it back for the kids to have an early bedtime as they were still behind in sleep due to our long-haul red-eye overnight flight in to Perth. Taka's is an old favourite that hubby and I used to frequent back when we used to live here, and we were pleased to see that it's still operating after all these years away. It served great Japanese food that was affordable for us poor students. Prices has obviously gone up in the past decade, but it is still affordable and the quality has remained more or less the same. Most sets are under AU$10.

Taka's Kitchen on the corner of Barrack and Wellington Street:

Ordering counter where you order and pay first:

The simple but clean dining space:

The Mixed Tempura Set:

Large Sashimi Set and Karaage Set (without rice):

Taka's Kitchen [Barrack St]
150 - 152 Barrack Street
Perth WA 6000
Tel. +61 8 9221 4771

Taka Japanese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato