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

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Great Japanese food @ Matsuya, Melbourne

There is a gem of a Japanese restaurant in our neighbourhood. It ticks all the boxes for what we look for in a good Japanese restaurant: fresh ingredients, authentic preparation and presentation, and delicious food. It's a bonus that it is a walk of less than 10 minutes from our front door, and there is even an early bird discount for dinner everyday - perfect for our kids who have early bedtimes. We have dined at Matsuya twice - once on a lunch date without the kids, and another time for an early dinner with the whole family - and have also ordered a takeaway sushi platter for one kid's birthday celebration a few months ago. There was a wide range of Japanese dishes on the menu, to suit even the pickiest of eaters, like my kids can be. The fish and seafood were always of excellent quality, and other dishes were delicious and tasted just the same as those we ate while we lived in Japan. The service was what one would expect of Japanese hospitality, and prices were reasonable for this calibre of dining.

The sake was really good:

The korokke was crispy without being greasy:

The gyoza had the perfect slightly charred base, with a skin that was not too thick nor too thin, and a delicious moist filling. This was the 10-year-old's favourite:

The 3-year-old loved the inari sushi, for the slightly sweet fried tofu skin and the sushi rice within:

The karaage was perfectly seasoned, not greasy, and the crispy coating contrasted nicely with the moist chicken meat. The 5-year-old favoured this dish:

Miso soup and salad that came with the sushi dish:

Seafood that looked and tasted fresh and lovely:

Chirashi don, one of my favourite dishes to order at a Japanese restaurant:

Katsudon, a nostalgic dish for hubby. It was delicious and he wolved it all down pretty quickly:

Ice cream mochi was a great way to end a delicious meal:

146 Station St
Fairfield VIC 3078
Tel. +61 3 9482 6088

Matsuya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Delectables @ Confiserie Sprüngli, Zurich

Last April, we were in Zurich for the first part of our epic European trip, and because I had been so busy and occupied with packing up 7.5 years of life in Hong Kong for our big move to Melbourne, hubby was in charge of the itinerary for Zurich. It was no surprise then that come lunch time, sweet-toothed hubby would lead us to Confiserie Sprüngli, a Swiss luxury confectionery manufacturer. This is the same Sprüngli as the world-famous Swiss chocolate brand Lindt (short for Lindt & Sprüngli), sharing the same founding father. This location at Paradeplatz is the confectionery company's headquarters, and upstairs is a cafe and restaurant, apparently a traditional meeting place for the elderly ladies of Zurich's upper class. It is a popular option for lunch, and hubby had the foresight to book a table in advance for us so we did not have to wait. Service was pleasant and efficient, and the menu had a nice variety of food. Our lunch experience at Confiserie Sprüngli was lovely, and even the pickiest eater in our family enjoyed the food.

On the ground level of Confiserie Sprüngli is the bakery. We had a brief walk-through, and the offerings were much the same as the branch we visited in the main train station:

The upper level is the cafe and restaurant space:

Big girl wanted pasta, so she got the kids' tagliatelle, with a separate container of cheese for her to add to her heart's content:

The boy and I shared the Club Sandwich Classic, with chicken, ham, fried egg, tomato, salad and mayonnaise:

My mum ordered the Pan-fried Halibut with tomato risotto and sauteed spring onions:

Hubby's eyes were on the Sprüngli puff pastries, and chicken was the meat filling of the day:

From the display cabinet, hubby selected two desserts: a streuselkuchen (crumb cake) with mixed berries filling...

... and a chocoladen-kuss (chocolate kiss):

Within the chocolate coating for the chocoladen-kuss, was cake with a custard-like filling:

We visited the shop branch at the main train station when we first arrived in Zurich, and bought a few things to try. There were plenty of delectable-looking delights:

A whole display cabinet filled with chocolate truffles:

The bunnies were a special edition of the traditional zopf bread. Such a nice introduction to zopf, and I became slightly obsessed with zopf, buying a loaf whenever I could even after leaving Switzerland and Austria:

The famed Luxemburgerli, Sprüngli's signature mini macarons, of various flavours and a cream filling. These are lighter than the traditional macarons, and smaller, which makes it easy to eat a few of them in one sitting!

Confiserie Sprüngli [Paradeplatz]
Bahnhofstrasse 21
8001 Zurich
Tel. +41 44 224 46 16

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Quintessentially Aussie @ Fairfield Park Boathouse, Melbourne

When we first moved to Melbourne in May, and I told my Melburnian cousins where we live, one of them asked if we had been to the Fairfield Park Boathouse. The same boathouse came up again in topic with a Melburnian friend, who used to work in the same area, and she again affirmed that it was worth a visit, though for her it was more for the scenery than the food. We fell in love with the place the first time we visited, and hubby describes it as "quintessentially Aussie". We have visited the Boathouse several times since, usually with out-of-town relatives and friends. The boathouse overlooks the Yarra River, and there are rowing boats, kayaks and canoes for hire to explore the Yarra River. The casual outdoor setting is great for those with restless and energetic children, and there are even 40-cent-kiddy-rides with the option of riding a horse, a giraffe, a zebra or a car!

Beyond the entrance are the first area of outdoor tables, the tearoom (where orders are placed), and a set of stairs down to the boat hire shop and more tables:

Down the flight of stairs is usually where we sit ourselves:

Beaut view of the Yarra River:

There's plenty of food on the menu to suit all tastebuds and appetites. Orders are placed at the tearoom, and then a buzzer is given to notify that the food is ready for pick up. There is a long wait for the food, and the price is relatively high compared to the cafes on Station Street in Fairfield, but we love the beautiful scenery and the food is delicious, so we don't mind the wait and cost too much for an occasional treat.

The Devonshire Scones with Jam and Cream ($11.50):

Beer Battered Fish and Chips with garden salad, lemon wedge and aioli ($26.50):

Boathouse Beef Burger with bacon, onion jam, crisp lettuce, cheese, mustard aioli, and chips ($26):

Lightly Fried Calamari with rocket, herb aioli, Spanish red onion, shaved parmesan, balsamic vinegar & lemon ($25):

Pork Belly with pumpkin mash, apple sauce, crispy pumpkin skin and water cress ($27):

Pulled Pork Roll - 10 hour slow cooked spiced pork shoulder with coleslaw, Carolina rub, barbeque sauce & chips ($25.50):

Fairfield Park Boathouse & Tea Gardens
Fairfield Park Dr
Fairfield VIC 3078
Tel. +61 9486 1501

Fairfield Park Boathouse & Tea Gardens Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Cheesy lunch @ Raclette Factory, Zurich

Hubby was in charge of the itinerary for our first day in Zurich, and he led us to Raclette Factory for lunch. This casual diner offers the Swiss specialty of raclette in tapas-style portions at the counter, giving the opportunity to try out the different cheeses on offer. The menu was simple, offering some raclette classics, three varieties of tarte flambée and what they call 'raclette tapas' where you can choose two or more cheeses (including blue, goat, sheep and truffle) to go with your choice of sides (potatoes, bread, or mashed potatoes) and additional toppings (ham, bacon or sausage). There was also the all-you-can-eat option, which would be a great option for cheese-lovers! Raclette Factory was a good kid-friendly choice for lunch, and needless to say, the kids enjoyed the food very much.

The interior in wood and bright red is very Swiss in design:

Raclette Heidi, a classic with raclette cheese, potatoes, pickled onions and pickles:

One of the raclette specialties with sausages to appeal more to the little ones:

The Original Tarte Flambée with crème fraîche, onions and bacon:

Raclette Factory
Rindermarkt 1
8001 Zürich
Tel. +41 44 261 04 10

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Excellent lunch buffet @ Conservatory, Melbourne

Three weeks ago, I celebrated getting another year older. My birthday fell on the Melbourne Cup public holiday, which was a nice coincidence for a first birthday in Melbourne. The Melbourne Cup is a pretty big deal Australia-wide - I still remember my former workplace in Perth celebrating it with a lunch outing, but we weren't so lucky as to get a full day off like Melbourne does. My older sister's partner was given four free tickets to the Melbourne Cup on my birthday, but unfortunately he had to work that day, and my older sister had to look after her four kids, so my younger sister and I planned to leave the kids with our hubbies, and use the tickets with two friends. Neither my sister nor I have been to Flemington Racecourse for the Melbourne Cup, so we looked forward to dressing up and experiencing the event at the racecourse. Well, the day came, and the weather was bad with heavy downpour. I can't remember ever driving in such heavy rain before, and the rain did not cease until noon. We all decided on Plan B, which was a lovely lunch at Conservatory in Crown Casino. I was still happy with the backup plan, because it had been more than a decade since I'd been to Crown, and I had never stepped inside the casino before.

Lunch at Conservatory was an excellent buffet spread, which reminded me of the buffets we used to enjoy with our relatives in Hong Kong. There was a wide range of dishes to suit all kinds of tastebuds and a big appetite for Asian, Western, Eastern and Indian cuisines. The dessert bar featured a chocolate fountain and many sweet delights. The food were presented nicely and prepared with high quality produce, and everything was delicious. The main attraction of the buffet for me would be the seafood bar - the natural oysters in particular were delectable, and very popular so I wasn't the only one who thought so. At $109 per person for the lunch buffet, it was expensive, so it's definitely a special occasion treat. Despite the bad weather that curbed our original plan, I still had a fantastic birthday out with my younger sister and friends.

Beautiful interior design with gorgeous marble floors:

Large floor-to-ceiling windows with river views of the Yarra:

Hot buffet selection where the roast station is:

Asian section with a variety of dumplings, spring rolls, buns as well as a few Indian dishes and breads:

Salad selection:


My first plate was heavy on the seafood, and my second and third helpings also featured lots of seafood:

One of four sides of the square dessert bar, featuring a range of delectable sweets and cakes. The other three sides held fruits, cake slices, a chocolate fountain and ice cream:

My first plate of desserts:

I highly recommend a meal at Conservatory for a special occasion. It's family-friendly too, so bring the kids along!

Level 1, Crown Towers
Crown Melbourne
8 Whiteman Street
Melbourne, VIC 3006
Tel. +61 3 9292 5777

Conservatory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato