Quick trip back to Melbourne: Dahon Tea & Steer Bar and Grill

Quick trip back to Melbourne: Dahon Tea & Steer Bar and Grill

Everytime I have a bit of time or when I am feeling the homesickness most, I nip back to Melbourne even though it means close to 7 hours driving each way. (Can’t fly, expensive plus it’d still be 2.5 hours drive each way + the flying)

Recently I had such a bout of homesickness which promptly saw me back in Melbourne, and what better to do in Melbourne than to eat and make merry with friends? My only gripe with such flying trips is that it is too short to ever meet up with anybody and plan anything big. I’m really only in Melbourne for one full day. *sadface*

I hope to do reviews on these places soon, but meanwhile, do enjoy the photos that my iphone could muster up. I visited Dahon Tea and Steer Bar and Grill over the weekend, and much eating was done!

Dahon Tea was amazing. Kudos to Cherrie and her team, it was such a lovely place. The decor was amazing, the food was outstanding and I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to try every single tea on her menu.

Then it was to Steer for dinner. Steer never disappoints, the standards of the steaks are right up there and the melt-in-your-mouth-factor was through the roof that night.

Have to say though, my first visit to Steer was quite unmemorable, but the subsequent trips were sublime. I’m so glad I gave them another go!

And that was my quick trip to Melbourne. Sigh. I did say it was quick. *sadface*

Speaking of which, I’ll be heading to Taiwan for the first time ever in December!! I can’t wait eeeeee! If you have any must-eat, must-do recommendations for Taipei and its surrounds, please let me know!

Review: Colonel Tan’s, Prahran

Review: Colonel Tan’s, Prahran

Colonel Tan’s
(03) 9521 5985
229 Chapel Street Prahran
Prahran, 3181
Colonel Tan’s online

The blog’s been a little quiet. A little too quiet, if you ask me, but sometimes it’s hard to find time to blog. There’s just so much going on and my blogging schedule is in tatters while I’m trying to get everything under control. It’s never going to be under control so what the heck, let’s have a go at blogging.

There are many places in Melbourne that I’ve been meaning to get to. Much like blogging, it does get a little “when I have time”. Being away from Melbourne for most of the time also means that when I’m actually back in Melbourne, I cram too much in. And by cramming, I actually do mean physically cramming of food. So much eating was done in my two weeks back in Melbourne. Too much, my diet would say.

Colonel Tan’s has been on my to-go list for awhile now. I first heard of it when the housemate and I were trying to find other american diners that wasn’t Misty’s. We made an agreement that we’d go check it out as the housemate loves american diners. But it was one of those things that never got done. Then K started hanging out at Colonel Tan’s, and I wanted even more to check it out…..

I guess the important thing is that I did finally make it to Colonel Tan’s. And I wish I had a whole lot earlier. To be honest, I very nearly didn’t turn up for that dinner date because I was sick and having a sore throat and generally feeling quite ill. But I hated the idea of abandoning my friends so popped a couple of pills and headed out. And I was so, so, so glad I did.

Those chips! I had a sore throat but even I couldn’t stop eating them. I had to restrain myself so I wouldn’t end up ruining my throat more than I already did. But they were addictive and boy do I wish I had them right now. Yum. Do yourself a favour and order them when you go. You will thank me.

I’ve always liked beer. But I never drank a lot of it till I came to Murrayville. Then boy, BOY did I drink beer. Even so, being so far away from all the fancy bottle shops and what not, the beer you get up in Murrayville is crap like carlton draught. You learn to drink it and not complain about its crap-ness because if that’s all you’ve got… then that’s all you’ve got. (To be fair, we do have Cascade light and Coopers as well. But I get picked on if I drink Cascade Light up here. Hurdedum.)

Handcrafted beers is not something I’m terribly familiar with. But good beers are something I can most definitely appreciate (especially after Carlton Draught) and boy was this a good beer. I really should have picked up a six pack somewhere along the way before heading back up to Murrayville, but that’s okay. I’ll pick some up on my next trip back.

The sweet potato and cashew dumplings were sublime. I really really liked them. I can’t think of what else to tell you other than, I really liked them. It was a pity there was only enough for one each. Darn. I could have eaten a whole lot more. Definitely ordering more.

The rendang chicken curry dip with roti bread was okay. The rendang was a lot nicer than I was expecting it to be, so that was a nice surprise. But as far as blowing a person away or wowing them… this was about average.

In my opinion, this was the star of the night. The fat duck noodles kicked me straight back to nostalgia lane and the greasy goodness was just greasy enough to be delish and not overly so. Incredibly tasty, incredibly flavourful, every mouthful was a pure injection of happiness and joy into my veins. (Along with an injection of cholesterol, but let’s not think of that) Much like the dumplings, I’d have loved more. The portion wasn’t big, and we shared it out between 4 of us which was just nice but I’m being greedy and I would have liked more. More, more, more!!

This. Definitely order this if you go.

My next favourite would probably have been this. The Bangkok Bolognaise. Little surprise that my favourite dishes are of noodles, I’m noodle obsessed! Still, it was lacking a bit of wow factor. I’m still going to try it at home tho. I’m pretty sure I can come up with something with a little more zing in it.

Vegetable and Coconut Yellow Curry – mmhm. You can move along.

And lastly, The Colonel’s Five Spice Chicken with Sweet Chilli. K did warn that they are a bit inconsistent and we must have hit an off day as I was quite unimpressed by it. Tough chicken, not yummy skin. Pass.

All in all, an absolutely enjoyable experience. While some of the dishes weren’t wow, they were nonetheless of a very decent quality and coupled with the environment and atmosphere definitely puts a very different spin on the typical asian dishes that I know. Would I go again? Hell yeah. That fat duck noodle has my name all over it!

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The most epic farewell: Pan Asian CNY Peking Duck / Suckling Pig Fest

The most epic farewell: Pan Asian CNY Peking Duck / Suckling Pig Fest

Pan Asian
(03) 9533 7022
267 Chapel Street
Prahran, 3181
Pan Asian on the Web

If I had planned better, this post would have been up while I was driving towards my new home. But I didn’t plan it better. So as I write this, I am now sitting in my new home, having got my internet running (was the 2nd thing I did, right after sorting out the kitchen!) and my iMac back out of its box. (Complete with the brand new smell. Ahhh)

And if you haven’t been catching up with the news on twitter, I have moved. This time, it’s to Murrayville. Where? I hear you ask. Don’t feel bad for asking; before I took this job, I didn’t know where this place was either!

Murrayville is a tiny town (350 people only!) that is very close to the South Australian border. It is 10 minutes from the SA border, 20 minutes from the nearest SA town (where I get my groceries from) and about 2.75 hours from Adelaide. Unfortunately that also means that it’s almost 7 hours away from Melbourne, so my trips to Melbourne will now be restricted to only school holidays. Adelaide on the other hand, I’ll be there quite often! So fellow Adelaide foodies, please do share where are your must-eats and I’d love to meetup and catch up over a cuppa too!

But this post isn’t about all that. This post is actually about one of the many farewell events I had before I left Melbourne, but it takes the crown as being the most epic one. There can never be more than enough reasons to celebrate the eating of peking duck and suckling pigs but my imminent departure was one of the many reasons to have a #duckfest and for that I am very thankful and appreciative towards Pan Asian and Robert and Li who have become people I look forward to chatting with everyday in my life. Thank you.

Under the experienced guidance of Anna (the original host of #duckfest) and Penny (the Queen of Pork), the first #duckfest2011 took life and became a reality.

It was a night not to be easily forgotten: the whole restaurant was closed for this private event. #duckfest saw 70 people attending this event; to think the first #duckfest had 30! Perhaps one day, we will hit 150. Many friends whom I’ve met through this food blogging shindig were present and who wouldn’t be on a night that promises to dish up Peking Duck and Suckling pig? It was a merry night.

The night started with a CNY standard. Yu Sheng, or Lao Hei. ( You might remember my post about making my own Yu Sheng ). It didn’t have the same variety of ingredients that mine had, but for a simplified version, it was incredibly tasty and seeing as CNY this year I will be at work in my new job, I was thankful for the chance of being able to toss myself some luck.

Anybody who eats Peking duck often will know what the meaning of these condiments mean. It means Peking duck is next! There was even pickled vegetables. An interesting addition as I’ve never had pickled veges with my peking duck roll before.

Peking duck!!! While it is not comparable to Simon’s, it was still one of the better Peking duck I’ve eaten. For a restaurant that doesn’t specialize in them, Pan Asian did fantastically well!

The Duck Salad followed. This dish was made famous by a small typo by Anna, who wrote Suck Salad instead of Duck Salad in her email invitation to everybody. And thus the hash tag #sucksalad was born to commemorate the night. Following the appearance of this dish, several tweets containing a photo of it and the hash tag of #sucksalad appeared! The joys of dining with food bloggers!

Speaking of dining with food bloggers, I heard from Li that the attendees from the night who weren’t food bloggers were astounded by the flurry of camera activity that appeared around them whenever a dish came out. It’s such a lovely buzzing energy, I absolutely adore it.

The duck consumme was next and it was very light and very refreshing. Much like a cleanser. But the problem with light items in such a heavy menu is that they tend to become unmemorable. And this soup became it.

There was suckling pig that followed, but my photos of it are deplorable. But while the pork itself was juicy, tender and incredibly yummy, the skin was a spongey mess. I do have to point out that it wasn’t a chef’s mistake. It was an incredibly humid night (94% humidity!) and the crackling didn’t take too well to that. Oh well.

The last savoury course was stewed pork legs with leeks alongside Bak Kwa. How I love Bak Kwa! Om nom nom!

I don’t take good photos when I’m high on life, laughter and good food apparently. By this time, my photos were coming out terrible so do pardon the terrible photo of the extremely yummy dessert. Matcha Cupcake with a hidden mochi, alongside a mandarin sorbet with haw flake made up the delightful dessert platter, and while many agreed that the cupcake was just a touch on the dry side, the flavouring more than made up for it. It was an explosion of flavour and I drank in the green tea to my heart’s delight. The mandarin sorbet had the oranges dancing on my tongue, and I could have licked the plate clean if I wasn’t conscious enough to realise I was still in a very public place. Ahem.

It was an incredible night. I had so much fun, met so many people : both old and new friends and had the time of my life both chatting and eating. There were many folks who I haven’t seen for awhile and was very thankful for the chance to catch up before I ran off to my newest adventure. So Thank you to Robert and Li, Anna and Penny!

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Review: Lunch at Pan Asian

Review: Lunch at Pan Asian

Pan Asian recently opened its doors to the lunch crowd on Chapel St and seeing as I had a lunch time appointment in the area, I was quite keen to try it out.

If you have never been to Pan Asian then it’s about time you changed that. The exterior of the place looks somewhat daunting, with its tinted glass and if you peep in, the fancy looking interior makes one feel that this is an amazingly fancy place with prices way higher than the wallet could handle. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

My dining companions were kind and generous enough to allow me to photograph their lunches so I’ll try to show the varied range of lunch items up for offer in this short review.

The Chinese Crispy Pork Belly Baguette with apple and cucumber, and light hoisin dressing ($12) was Violet‘s order. It does make you think immediately of Earl Canteen’s version of the Pork Belly, since Earl seems to have redefine Pork Belly Baguettes, but this was somewhat different. I wasn’t too fond of the baguette, but I do generally dislike baguettes as I find them a tad too hard and too chewy.

The Pork Belly did have a nice crisp skin but the flavours in the meat was the stand out of the dish. The burst of flavours, so refreshing and yet so interestingly asian played on the tongue. Unfortunately, it is then washed away by that baguette. Did I mention, I don’t like baguettes? Violet on the other hand, found it lovely. She loved the baguette and loved every bit of it, but it was rather huge for just one of her. But at 12 dollars? A bargain.

Sarah ordered Thai street style beef salad with cherry tomatoes and spanish onion ($12) and while I didn’t get to taste this, I was quite taken by the vibrant colours that just brought the dish to life.

Jimmy’s choice of the Chicken curry with rice had me wondering why it was only a mere $10. That’s bargain like you wouldn’t believe, especially on Chapel st.

Here’s my own lunch of Hainan poached chicken with ginger shallot salsa and fragrant lemongrass chilli sauce and rice ($11). Beautifully poached chicken, every bit as greasy as you’d want your Hainan chicken to be, with the only disappointment being the rice not being the same Hainan rice I was hoping it’d be. But the absolutely amazing lemongrass chilli sauce had me craving for more, and every day that I am there, I pester, nay, beg the kitchen for the recipe. At $11, I’d be there every single day if I could.

Pan Asian also serves the beautiful cupcakes from Sugadeaux and let me tell you, they are divine. I was quite lucky recently to have received cupcakes from the beautiful Sugadeux for winning her twitter competition and I was in cupcake heaven. You haven’t tasted an amazing cupcake, till you have tasted a Sugadeux cupcake, let me tell you that.

The dessert platter shown above was given to us as a complimentary gift from the owners of Pan Asian.

All in all, an amazing experience. Don’t like the stern exterior and fancy interior turn you away. Take a step in and embrace the vibrant colours that dance on the walls of Pan Asian, and ask the owner, Li, to tell you the stories of the beautiful girls who adorn those drawings. Take a look at the chandelier and marvel at the fact that it’s mostly made out of mixing bowls of various sizes and salt and pepper shakers. One thing to note however, that you shouldn’t be heading over to Pan Asian looking for authentic Malaysian/Singapore/ Thai food. The food is asian inspired and resonates strongly with the asian flavours and textures, but it isn’t authentic in the strictest sense of the word, but I often think that the ‘authentic’ debate is a slippery slope to nowhere anyways. But this is hardly important.

What is most important, is to enjoy your lunch. This is Chapel St, after all.

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Pan Asian

(03) 9533 7022
267 Chapel Street
Prahran, 3181
Web: Pan Asian

Review: Namaste Bollywood Degustation @ Pan Asian, Chapel St

Review: Namaste Bollywood Degustation @ Pan Asian, Chapel St

While I don’t speak of wine a lot on this blog, I do actually love to drink this sparkling elixir that has so many so intoxicated. While the technical terms are beyond my reach and I am unable to wax lyrical about the minute details of the wine, it doesn’t mean that I love it any less. So when I was invited to a winemaker’s degustation dinner at Pan Asian by the lovely Robert and Li, I could hardly say no.

The wines for the night that had been matched with the food were provided by Nazaaray Estate Winery. Nazaaray Estate is located down south in the Mornington Peninsula, which explains why I haven’t been to the winery. I tend to venture towards the north more often with Yarra Valley being my most frequented wine region!

The menu for the night which promises quite a lot of mouthwatering dishes. I was really looking forward to this, especially after listening to Robert and Li’s opinions on their take on Modern Indian cuisine.

And you can’t go wrong with Tasting notes. I always like to have these handy with me – I like to know what I’m drinking! And since I’m no where as well versed with wines as to be able to identify the vintage, the region etc etc in the wine I’m drinking, I like to have the notes to consult. Wine drinking and me are still very new buddies.

To start with, we were given the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc which was my favourite white wine from the night. It’s reminiscent to its French counterparts and was incredibly smooth. Very unlike your run-of-the-mill Sauvignon Blanc that you might find down here in Vic. I could drink up bottles of these on a lazy night. Just make sure I don’t have to drive anywhere afterwards!

For starters, we had Fried Paneer Cheese on spicy spinach and piece of Naan. Very tasty with the chutney at the top packing a right punch. The spinach was a bit of a let down but the rest of the dish was superb. This was paired with a Pinot Gris 2010.

One of the highlights of the meal for me. This was : Sweet potato, mushroom and corn samosa and Almond Mansfield Toolangi potato and green pea tikki. Again, paired with Pinot Gris 2010. Where do I even begin to explain or describe this dish? Every mouthful was packful of flavour and different textures. You will just have to take my word on it that it was good.

This dish made me applaud the chef’s skills. And it made me even more eager to meet the chef, firstly because he turned out to be a long lost friend of mine and it’s been ages since we last met, secondly because the Punjab eggs of mince spring lamb scotched quail eggs and bloody mary chutney was THE BOMB. I’ve made scotched eggs before and while it’s not exactly rocket science, it’s not as easy as it sounds either. These eggs were beautifully packed into little balls of deliciousness! And that bloody mary chutney? Bloody damn good. Paired with the Chardonnay 2008 and I was in heaven.

Unfortunately this is where the meal started going somewhat downhill. The Oven Baked Masala Kingfish with mustard seed zucchini and cauliflower was a sight to behold. But while everything else was beautiful and top notched, the fish was slightly too tough for my liking. Overbaked? Perhaps. This was paired with the Pinot Noir 2007.

Chicken followed the fish, in the form of Chicken Ballotine with Butter Cream sauce served with tomato curry leaf quinoa. Somebody in the kitchen must have left the dehydration machine on because the quinoa was so dry, I had to down more Pinot Noir (2008, this time!) to get through it. Not that more wine is a complain. The chicken was dry as well. Overall, not an impressive dish and definitely didn’t match the standards set by the previous dishes.

Thankfully, the last dish was a show saver. The Cumin and Coriander spice crusted BBQ lamb fillets with puy lentil dahl and hot mint chutney was amazing. Paired with the Shiraz 2008 (how can you not love a Shiraz?) this was enough to forget the disappointment from the chicken. And that mint chutney! Heavenly.

That is, until the dessert came out. On paper it sounded wonderful : Pistachio bread pudding kulfi with jambu, fruits and promegranate soup. And what impressed me the most was the fact that Li had managed to obtain Jambu here in Melbourne. But unfortunately due to a kitchen mishap, the puddings came out frozen. It still tasted pretty amazing, but it was a pity to not be able to cut through the silky smooth pudding and marvel at its silkiness. I would also have loved to have a dessert wine to finish off this course and wrap up the entire wine tasting experience. There was nothing to wash down the dessert, which left the palate hanging out for more.

All in all, it was a really good experience. With the dishes, you win some, you lose some. Which is something I’ve come to expect at restaurants as it isn’t quite possible to cater to everybody’s very varied taste. What I didn’t like here, may well have been somebody else’s highlight of the meal. The wines were really good and the pairing worked well. It was very fascinating to see a modern take on Indian food, as what we tasted in this meal was a typical modern meal but with Indian influences and it added such a different dimension to the whole dish. Very enjoyable and very educational evening! Plus I got to meet my long lost friend and learn that he was getting married at the end of the year! Congrats Philip!

Thank you Pan Asian, Robert and Li for inviting me to the Namaste Bollywood degustation. I’m looking forward to going back to Pan Asian to try the À la carte menu!

Travelling in Mary Janes dined as a guest at the Namaste Bollywood degustation @ Pan Asian, Melbourne

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