Happy Birthday me, 33, just like my number, and multiplying each digit together equals my birthday. Any way, moving on, my better half surprised (as if I didn’t know) me with dinner at a fancy French restaurant, something that we haven’t done before. Bistro Thierry in Prahran is pretty French, from waiters with French accents (mostly) to all the pots and pans, baguettes to escargot, and creme brulee. We each ordered an entree along with a main, and a glass of wine (as chosen by the waiter) and shared the dessert as we usually do. This being a French restaurant, of course we also ordered some traditional French Fries.
I had the steak tartare, while Huyen (her name is not em or emmy) had escargot, I would have to say that the steak tartare was the highlight of the meal for me, beautifully tender and a very flavoursome vinegarette on top. The escargot were yum, but the sauce was probably a bit rich, very buttery, the snails were cleaner (no grit) than the ones we ate in Vietnam, but the sauce was too overpowering.
On to the mains, emmy had one of the fish of the day, pan seared snapper on black rice, she just told me that it was good but did not have any wow factor. Meanwhile, I went with duck confit, it was good except that the skin crackling on top was just too salty. The french fries were good (although we probably should have gone with a salad instead), as were the baguettes on the table.
For dessert we ordered the creme brulee (not pictured) as we tend to do, I liked it, but it wasn’t anything special, I wonder if there is anything that can make it really stand out. That’s it, good service, good atmosphere, food a little pricey, and tending toward being a bit rich (that’s French cuisine I guess), a good meal, but I don’t think that I’d put French food up there in my favourite cuisines.
557 total views, no views today
A little Japanese restaurant in South Melbourne, very little, only 12 seats, specialising in tempura (obviously). You walk in and immediately feel like you’re in Japan, all the little plates, the orderliness, the Japanese business men. We arrived a bit after 6.30pm (what a pain getting into the city on a Friday evening) and made out way in. There are only three set menu options on the menu, the tempura set, and two tempura + sushi sets, we just went with the tempura set because Emmy can’t eat raw fish now (although there is some sashimi that she had to swap for cooked salmon). I didn’t take pictures of every dish because they were little bits of fried vegies or whatnot.
We got a starter of sashimi (cooked salmon), followed immediately by the tempura, sweet corn (just kernels, no idea how they kept it all together), asparagus, prawn, chicken and egg plant, sweet potato, tuna and avocado, zucchini and salmon, scallop and sea urchin, king dory and shiso, mushroom and prawn meat (my favourite), finished with some kakiageidon (rice with seafood vegie), and dessert of panna cotta (I forgot what they actually called it). Each dish is just a morsel really but when you eat at a pace like that where the chef is placing something new on the dish every ten minutes or so, you just feel content (or maybe you get full on drinks).
Two thumbs up, it’s great tempura, fresh and crunchy without feeling greasy, and served in a way that doesn’t make you bloated nor do you feel hungry despite the small portions. (On a side note, these pictures were taken with Emmy’s new second-hand X100, which I’ll be reviewing/posting later).
598 total views, no views today
Hey this site is going to become a foodie blog before long at this rate, but any way, this week we went to Piqueos in Carlton north on Rathdowne St, it is some kind of a take on Argentinean and Peruvian cuisine. Having been to both of those countries I was of course excited to give it a try, hoping for some delicious flavoursome ceviche, chimichurri, and yummy hunks of meat. So it turns out that they have two sittings for dinner, the early one at six, and the later one at eight (which I’m not sure exactly what that means apart from if you have a six o’clock sitting, you need to be out by eight). Being three of us we decided against the tasting menu which provides a varierty across the board (but for me had some items that I wasn’t particularly interested in) and went for three mains, two sides, one salad, and an empanada for myself.
First the empanada, having not had a cheese empanada since those heady days back in Buenos Aires, I was pretty excited to try this one out, the options for empanadas are a bit limited, beef, chicken, and cheese, I went for the cheese (I wish there was a ham and cheese or tomato and cheese) and potato, it’s quite small, and to be honest, while it is good, it didn’t have that melted flowing cheese inside that I was hoping for. Personally I think the potato to cheese ratio was too far in favour of the starch, did I mention it was
quite small? It was $4.50 (Cumanas how I miss you and your $2.70 peso empanadas in a million flavours), okay, don’t give me a massive Salteña, but give me something for my money.
On to the sides and salad, we ordered the grilled beef heart (had this one while studying Spanish in Sucre, Bolivia, didn’t know what it was then, jus thought it was yummy, street food ftw!), ceviche (to be honest I first tried this in Mexico where it was super, then had it in Arequipa, Peru where it was only so-so, probably would have been better had I tried it in Lima) also had this at Mamasita (very good, so maybe I’m a Mexican ceviche fan), and the palm heart salad based on the recommendation of the waitress.
I didn’t get a picture of the beef heart as it wasn’t very photogenic, but it was well cooked and tasty.
The ceviche I did like, it was refreshing and had a beautiful lemon-y zest, the fish (kingfish I think) was perfect, actually, there was something really spicy in there that would only kick in after swallowing the fish and the sourness of the lemon juice wore off, that was a great kick. The salad was good although I’m still now sure what the palm hearts were and what they were for, the tomatoes in the salad were very good though, as were the olives.
On to the mains, and I know what you’re thinking, jeez dtra, those sides don’t look very substantial, and you’d be right, they were quite insignificant as far as portion size is concerned. So do we have much hope for the mains (which are not served with any sides), it would be a strange restaurant to provide small sides and then have gargantuan mains, and this is not a strange restaurant. For mains we ordered baby chicken, churrasco (some kind of steak), and fish of the day. I didn’t get any pictures because visually they weren’t anything special, and it was quite dark in there so they’d just be black blobs on the screen. I had the steak which was well cooked, very tender, and had a huge slathering of chimichurri on top, can’t really go wrong there, good job. I had a bite of the fish (which also was covered in chimichurri), but I think my meat was better. I didn’t get to try the baby chicken (seems a bit cruel, but maybe it is actually a small chicken or some other kind of fowl), but it seemed to be juicy. Now I don’t have the most sophisticated palette (is that how you spell it?) in the world, but I want to talk about the chimichurri, cos they also place a small dish of it on the table as a condiment, my guess is olive oil, parsley, coriander, garlic, and something else, possibly a tiny bit of lemon juice or something similar, quite good, nice and simple that’s for sure.
Unfortunately, this was not the nostalgiac Argentinean meal that I had hoped for when I planned the dinner, when I think of Argentina, I think of vast quantities of grilled meat, chimichurri, and bread, yummy bread. While the food was tasty, the portions turned out to be wanky and not enough for me, I ad to go and get some wedges somewhere else to appease my rumbly tummy, I needed carbs, or at least more meat, I’m pretty sure I could have eaten twice as much as I did which was a bit disappointing. Maybe if I had my time again I would have gone for the tasting plate, but in the end, fancy pants dining probably doesn’t do it for me, and I think for future endeavours I will push the scale down a bit if it will give me a fuller belly. I couldn’t say I didn’t like the food (what we had was delicious), but I couldn’t say that I was happy with the meal either, we’re talking $160+ for three people (two drinks including a pisco sour that I couldn’t taste :`( ) and I was still hungry.
Apologies for the orientation of the photos, wordpress still being hopeless.
487 total views, no views today
What’s this? A restaurant review? What has this site become? Some wanky foodie themed poo poo page? Well, obviously not, this site will continue to be that random no-theme-post-whatever-comes-to-mind out of focus blog with no core theme apart from yours truly. Any way back to the topic at hand, Chin Chin, an Asian/Thai fusion restaurant on Flinders Lane in the CBD, we had so much fun that I thought I have to post this, also I did the Asian thing and took pictures of everything. We got there just before 6pm on a Friday evening, and were told that it was a one hour wait, but they took our number and would get back to us when our table was ready. So while there is no booking, at least if you get in reasonably early you can get a table guaranteed reasonably quickly. We got in there just after 7pm and sat down, we’d read about the “Feed me” option earlier and pretty much had our hearts set on that. The waiter came over and explained that it was probably too much food for two of us, and that they could give us four or five dishes for the same price and we wouldn’t feel too full. But being the Asians that we are, we just went for the full thing, which is seven dishes picked by the staff, so basically it’s not a degustation as that would consist of several small dishes, there were seven good size dishes. What they failed to tell us at the beginning was that if there were four of us we would have gotten the same amount of food, so basically we ate food enough for four. On to the dishes, the kingfish sashimi was the first dish out and was very yummy, we knocked that one off very quickly. The school prawn and the pork belly wrap were next, I liked the wrap very much, kind of like a cross between Peking Duck and Vietnamese rice paper roll. I’m not a big fan of school prawn so can’t really comment on it, it was edible, but you know. The caramelised fish and pork belly and pad siew were next. The fish was a bit too salty for my taste but perhaps might have worked with some rice, the pork was good as pork belly usually is. The pad siew I thought was a bit too salty, the noodles were really soft and smooth, but I thought the beef was a little overcooked.
Crispy skin duck was next, and to be honest I thought it was a bit dry, it needed some sauce, the final dish of the night was supposed to be the soft shell crab curry (served with rice), but at this point we were way too full to handle a curry and decided to switch to a papaya salad for something a bit lighter. The salad was good (I especially love my plating!), would have been better as an earlier dish, but at that point it was either that or dessert, but we decided to go the whole hog (to a degree) and get the seventh dish. Then we finished off with a dessert of palm sugar iced cream with lime syrup, there was actually another iced cream in there but I can’t remember what it was, there was also honeycomb, so it was pretty bloody sweet, except for the lime syrup which was bitter and once mixed with the sweet iced cream would balance the flavours. I thought the iced cream was too sweet and didn’t really like the fact that waiting for the iced cream to melt to get the flavour balanced as we were left with a melted pool of iced cream. Sheesh, after all that bloody food we were totally bloated, and I was just about ready to burst. This was truly a contest, me versus all the food, and Em versus the waiter. He was quite wanky, coming over and explaining each dish with all the superlatives and adjectives usually associated with Masterchef, and seemed to become particularly smug the longer we went, getting visibly more distressed (probably) until we finally managed to finish the meal and were ready to leave. So if you’re keeping score, we won 2-0 :D.
I do apologise for the orientation of the pictures, but WordPress seems to be cracking it with the iphone 5 pictures.
745 total views, no views today
Welcome to the monthly dtraCorp post (that’s what it seems like any way), we went to Shira Nui last week for Em’s birthday as part of what has now become an annual tradition (Japanese on Em’s birthday). Shira Nui is a sushi bar in Glen Waverley, a south eastern suburb of Melbourne, it’s widely known as a Chinese hub, but this Japanese restaurant has certainly made a name for itself. I’m not really a foodie so don’t expect me to lay on the big terms to describe the food, but I do have pictures (it was Em’s birthday so that’s my excuse) of all the dishes and can remember how most of them tasted. We had heard about omakase which is when you eat sushi with no set menu (well, probably the chef has a set menu in his head), and you sit there and wait for the chef to serve you the dishes. So we sat at the counter and waited to be served, the sushi comes out thick and fast, everyone getting the omakase gets the same stuff so you can get a preview of what you’re going to get if you so wish. Some of the sushi came with a squeeze of lemon (the chef did it, we weren’t given any) which I thought was a really good touch, I don’t think I’ve ever had that before and was thinking it would be on all the sushi or at least all the fish sushi, alas, it was not to be.
944 total views, no views today
Just a couple of food photos today, I was going to make this a cookbook review post, but decided that because we strayed a bit from the original recipes, and also they’re from different books, I would just give them a quick mention more than anything. The first picture is the fried rice my lovely Em made for us, it was super yummy containing all the essential ingredients (rice, peas, prawns, egg, Chinese sausage, with some extras like corn and carrot), of course the meat in this dish (apart from the Chinese sausage) was some cooked pork, this pork was not bbq pork (char siu) as would normally be the case but some leftover five spice pork chops that we had (following the recipe from Andrea Nguyen’s Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, I didn’t season it enough and also it didn’t have enough time to marinate) so we’ll leave that for another day. I like fried rice done properly, and Em did a great job.
The second dish is salt and pepper tofu from Secrets of the Red Lantern (Luke and Pauline Nguyen), we don’t have a deep fryer so we had to make do with what we have and just do a normal fry on both sides of the tofu rather than deep frying. It turned out pretty well (especially after my first attempt in which I totally burnt the tofu trying to shallow fry it crispy) but I have to question the amount of salt they call for in the recipe, as we only used half of the seasoning and it was about right for a similar amount of tofu, although I thought ours was slightly under seasoned. Any way, I hope to post the recipes in the future along with more in-depth reviews as long as we follow them more closely (although it’s hard because we don’t always have all the exact ingredients) and I remember to take photos. That’s it for now, will have some more photos in the next few days before we head over to Japan for a couple weeks next week, should be lots of photos of food then :D.
645 total views, no views today
At least I think these photos were taken in or around May, didn’t really get up to too much over the past month other than a bit of a self-harm, and watching a lot of movies. The picture of my hand showing the stab wound caused by my own clumsiness, I was wiping down the bench top, and stupidly left one of the magimix blades in the drying rack (hanging over the edge of course), and pushed my hand right into it with quite a bit of force it seems. Anyway, I got three stitches which will hopefully come out this Sunday after two weeks, and I can resume normal activities.
The caterpillar photo was a stroke of luck as it must have fallen out of a tree and landed on our gate where it was easy pickings for me (first), then I’m sure for some bird afterwards. After that are a couple pictures of some pizzas I made, the bacon and egg one really came out funny, perfect for Valentine’s Day, the Salami one tasted better. I did learn that with our oven it is better to cook for a bit longer, and also to fry the bacon a bit before putting it in the oven, probably the egg too. The last two shots were taken up at Lake Eildon National Park where we did a nice three hour hike (could’ve been faster but you know me :D), that’s it for now, I just got back from Hobart, so will be posting some pictures from that trip soon too.
685 total views, no views today
This place opened up in Thornbury sometime last year, it was really close to my old flat but since I’ve now moved, it would be on a very rare occasion that I get to try it out. I was in the area last Friday and looking for something to eat with a couple of hours to kill. Read about this place in the age so headed over to see if we could get a table (for two). Fortunately it was very early (before 6pm) and so the place was empty and we sneaked in a table before the place filled up. The cuisine is middle eastern (Lebanese I think) style pizza with modern flavours. There are two types of pizza, Pide and the other one I can’t remember, Pide is the traditional style round circular shape of pizza, while the other one is a canoe/boat style pizza which is a novelty, but I have to say, I prefer the normal shape because the base was nicer, crunchy and not too thick while the canoe pizza was too dough-y.
We got the Bosphorous (canoe style) which has prawns on it among other things, it would have been nicer if it was on a normal pizza base I think, the base was just too soft and thick for my liking. The second pizza we got (because the first was not filling enough) was the Emir Bashir II, this one I really liked, very yummy and the base was just right, it had Turkish sausage, olives, tomato, parsley and hummus (cheese probably would have been better but I’m like that). We tried the cured beef for starters although it didn’t come out before the first pizza, it was nice but I didn’t think it was anything special. Definitely worth a try if you’re in the area, why are all the good pizza places in the north?!?!?
446 total views, no views today
OK, here it is, I wouldn’t call it a recipe because it is so vague, I don’t really have any measurements, just a bunch of instructions with whatever quantity of ingredients you actually have. Anyway, the list of ingredients you should have include:
OK, that is your list of ingredients, what to do with them? You just have to heat up the stock, boil the egg noodles (nice and chewy is preferable), most of the cooking is with the wontons I guess. Put your pork mince in a bowl, take your egg (don’t know really, half an egg for about 150-200g of pork I reckon) and beat it a bit, and then throw it in with the mince and stir around a bit. If you have corn flour just put a bit on the prawns, then cut them (depending on the size into four parts if they’re small) and toss them in with the mince.
Chop your spring onions, coriander, and chilli nice and fine to garnish your noodle soup with. Chop your shallot finely, I like to chop it in half vertically, and then slice it into smaller bits then. Heat up a pan (the smaller the better) with your canola oil, once hot, throw the sliced shallot in, and once they start to brown, turn the heat off, and let them cook in the heat of the pan, they should be brown and crispy at the end.
Mix that around a bit, and then add a bit of salt and pepper, and stir it around evenly, add some soy sauce, you be the judge of how much you want, but don’t put much in, they really don’t need it, you can put salt in the water later to give the wontons a bit more saltiness if necessary. To make your wontons, take a wonton skin, place it on your bench, use a teaspoon to scoop up some mince making sure to get at least one piece of prawn in there and put in the centre of the skin. Folding/wrapping the wonton is a pretty simple task, my technique is just to fold the square in half (into a triangle shape), and then bring each corner toward the central corner and press down a bit to seal the wonton, it doesn’t have to be super tight.
Throw a batch of wontons (about six (6) is a good number for one bowl) into the boiling water (turn this down to medium heat at this point), and then let the wontons cook, use a thingie to stir them to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan. If you find that the wontons aren’t salty enough you can add some salt to this water. I usually just watch the clock, five minutes at medium heat is a good amount of time to cook, but basically when the wontons float to the top of the water, they are done.
Put your egg noodles into your bowl, splash on a bit of oyster sauce (how much depends on how salty your stock is and how much flavour/msg you like), I prefer putting the spring onions and coriander and chilli in before pouring the stock over the top, but this is not particularly important. I do like to put the fried shallots in after the stock because it means they stay crispy a bit longer. Put the wontons on top of the noodles (and add the char siu if you have it), and pour the boiling stock over the top, mix it around so that the oyster sauce is mixed in and flavoured. That’s it, you’ve got some yummy wonton noodle soup, I hope! Look at those yummy, fragrant fried shallots on top, yummy!
Update: Here’s a picture of the same wontons fried (pretty shallow), not particularly pretty, but they were pretty yummy too, with soy sauce, or if you have that sweet and sour sauce or similar, that’d be good too.
1,664 total views, 1 views today
Here it is, the first proper post here at the davidtran.org, the layout of the wordpress site is a bit different to the old dtraCorp site, so the pictures will probably just be spread throughout the post, rather than the old layout of one main picture, and the other pictures at the end of the post. So anyway, the first picture is of Flinders Street Station taken from across the foot bridge. It was taken with the FA43mm (just about my favourite lens now) as I didn’t have the DA21 with me on the night, so couldn’t quite fit the whole thing in, I got it though, check flickr for that one.
A couple weeks before, I went to Seoul Tookbegi for dinner, haven’t had Korean for quite some time, so thought we’d give it a go, it was quite good, but I think Korean (like Japanese) is better as a banquet where you can order many different dishes and try a bit from each. It is Chicken Bulgogi, I know, I need some work on my food photography, just one of the list of things I need to work on.
Finally, Melbourne taken from Southbank, just outside the ca$ino, the flames were going off, it was around 11pm, I have another version on flickr that has larger flames and is a bit over-exposed because of that. I didn’t bother with a tripod, so this was just balanced on a concrete wall thingie. That’s it for now, next photo post will have some pictures taken at the Tesselaar Tulip Festival, which I went to on Saturday, took a bunch of pictures, hopefully some good, will start getting those up onto flickr next week I think.
394 total views, no views today