A couple of weeks ago we went to this Peking Duck restaurant in the city, apparently it’s a franchise in China, and this was the first branch in Australia. I’ve seen this place a few times as we drove to Queen St a fair bit to park the car when visiting the CBD, but never knew that it was actually a duck restaurant. It’s quite a large space, well, it’s like a two level place but they’ve removed the second floor so it just has a really high ceiling. The setting is nice and the service more upscale than your regular duck restaurant (i.e. Old Kingdom or Simon’s) but it’s not fine dining.
We were six people and ordered two ducks and some fried rice (as two had already eaten something), whereas normally you’d order one duck between two (if it was done three ways), this was supposedly duck done two ways, but we did not get the duck soup (apparently all of the duck bones were bagged for take away by our Chinese speaking companions). The plum sauce, cucumber, and spring onions were individually portioned and more than enough for each of us. The duck however, was sliced a bit too thinly and at that point it is not clear how many slices you should put into your own crepe. I started off with two slices, but then we had leftover duck so I upped it to three slices of duck to each pancake, so in the end it seemed like two bigger slices or three smaller slices per crepe was right, whereas at Simon’s it might just be one slice or two smaller slices to a crepe.
The duck itself was pretty good but the skin lacked the crispness that we’ve enjoyed at Old Kingdom and Simon’s, there was a side dish of fried duck fat which was a novelty. Dip it in a bit of sugar and you have quite the treat, but really, this duck meal was left a bit wanting (the fried rice wasn’t anything to write home about either), it was also about $15 bucks more expensive (78$) than Old Kingdom or Simon’s so that was definitely a thumbs down. On a side note worth noting, there was no need to pre-order the duck as is usually the case at Simon’s and Old Kingdom.
We had some friends over from Adelaide on the weekend and as is our custom, we tried to wow them with something that they might not have tried in Adelaide (or might not even have). We weren’t able to get a preferred time slot (with our kids) so we had to settle with Hoi’s in Camberwell (near our work), we weren’t too sure about it as it’s usually just a take away/quick and dirty lunch place, that has re-branded in the past year or two as a Peking Duck restaurant. But it was our only option on short notice, we ordered two ducks over the phone (for five adults), but we were actually all still quite full from lunch, and then one of the adults dropped out.
We managed to order duck three ways here, so the regular Peking duck with crepes, stir-fry duck bone (really it’s other pieces of duck that have meat on the bone), and some duck fried rice, there are also options of duck and tofu soup, and crispy noodles with duck among others. So they provide a few extra options over the other duck restaurants. The duck was sliced better here and the skin was crispier, there were also a couple of drumsticks on a plate that I happily chomped down, yes, the duck was much better here.
They did however, skimp on the sauce and vegies, and when we asked for a sauce re-fill the waiter was very stingy and only half-filled the dish. We ended up only getting one duck which was probably a good thing because we weren’t hungry enough to take a second (we didn’t bother asking about it), even if we took it with us. So food, quite good, service horrible (not to mention my toddler was messing around on his high chair and the tray collapsed sending him sprawling on the floor!) but not unexpected, at 76$ for everything including a couple of beers and tea, the value was better than Quanjude. But I’d rate it lower than Old Kingdom and Simon’s for quality of food, but they are trying, and giving the extra options (something like six or seven total) is definitely a positive. So, next time our friends come over we’ll either have to take them to Simon’s or work out something else to wow them with, we’ll probably have six months to a year :D.
LOL, it was over a month ago you silly fool, and you’re only posting these now. That’s what you’re thinking isn’t it? If that’s what you’re thinking I wouldn’t blame you, I understand that not everyone thinks on the same level as me. Clearly I was waiting for the right time, when all the dust had settled and no one was posting about it any more so that I would have my time in the sun.
And that time is now, I didn’t take any great photos just whatever I could muster carrying the Fuji X100 around, I saw a lot of people carrying big tripods around but I had been out the whole day so that was not really an option. For a person like me (who doesn’t like big crowds), we probably went at a pretty bad time, it was about 10-11pm so it was pretty crowded and just walking down Swanston Street was a hassle. It would’ve been better to wander around at 2 AM or something with the streets empty to get a good look at the light shows on. With a pregnant partner we were never going to make it very far with those crowds so we left without seeing too much. Maybe next year we will get out at a better time, or we’ll be at home trying to (catch up on) sleep :D. Oh and be short to keep up as I follow up this post with my latest installment of Moomba fireworks photos, they should be up very shortly ;).
Just a couple of photos from Melbourne on a gloomy late Winter’s night, these were taken last week obviously (since it is Spring now), nothing too special, a couple of night shots in black and white.
It was an anniversary gift, going on a photography walking tour around Melbourne, the theme was Underworld, so the photographer guide took us around some of the areas where some infamous gangster/violent scenes occurred in the city. The weather was a bit rainy, but certainly gave an opportunity to try some different things.
It was pretty much a beginner’s course so I didn’t learn anything technicallu, but was good to get out and shoot some photos, cos I haven’t been doing that at all lately. But that’s about to change as we are heading to Europe in two days and I will be snapping up lots of shots of beautiful architecture and landscapes, and people. This time at the end of Summer rather than cold Winter, so I will hopefully have some different takes on what I previously did, in Paris at least.
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.
Did the ATB for the fourth time yesterday, having previously completed the 50km, 100km (Sorrento to Melbourne), and 210 km (Mel-Sorrento-Queenscliff-Mel), this year I was very lazy and signed up for the easiest triple digit kilometre ride, Melbourne to Frankston loop. I was planning on arriving in the Melbourne CBD at 7.30am to start riding by about 7.45am but as usual I was running late, and only got to the starting point at about 8.10am at which point I heard the announcer say if there are any more 100km riders, please come to the start line as we want to send off the 50km riders at 8.15am.
So I set off by myself (starting my strava app) in search of a nice group of people that would drag me 50km to Frankston. As is always the case the ride out of the city was slow and awkward with congestion and traffic lights slowing the cyclists down, but once we got past Port Melbourne the speed picked up, and I was able to put the hammer down and go at my own pace a bit. My legs were a little weary having not cycled much for the past month or two (probably only about 100km in that time), but I knew it wasn’t going to be too bad. There was a solid tailwind (I’m pretty sure) pushing us south towards Frankston which was pretty great as it helped me maintain an average moving speed of between 30 and 35 kph. I was aiming to arrive at Frankston at about 9.30am but due to the late start that was never going to happen, and I eventually rolled up at about 9.50am, so I managed to make quite good time.
I didn’t feel like I had a big tailwind when I was heading down but once I turned around and headed back for Melbourne (after about 15 minutes resting) I definitely noticed that the air resistance was a bit stiffer making the going a bit tougher. I persisted though trying to jump on to the back of any groups that I could hoping to get dragged forward at a similar speed to what I managed going south, but there was a definite slow down. What I find is that when you look up and see a bunch of cyclists and think, “great, I’ll try to latch on to the back of that group”, when you catch up to them they’re actually a bunch of individuals that are all just fading back at their own pace. So you catch up and you sit there for a bit, then decide that you need to go on your own to go at a speed that you’ll be happy with, then a group goes past fast and you think I should try to latch on to them, but that usually ends in failure and you (at least I do) inevitably end up going it alone. Any way, after making my way back (I didn’t stop any where except Frankston) to Alexandra Gardens and crossing the finish line (where I saw Em) I hurriedly headed over to her (she missed the money shot! :p) to discuss the morning (it was just after noon) before heading home (without getting my paid-for lunch!). Any way, a good day was had by all (I think) and we’ll do it again next year (probably), although next time I might continue on from Frankston to Mornington before turning around to get in a few extra kilometres, I don’t care about the ATB times as they count your stopping time, the strava time is where it’s at. Sheesh, shoulda used sunscreen, think I got burnt pretty bad. doesn’t hurt or anything, but I reckon a fair amount of skin is going to be peeling off in the next day or two, I look like I have my shoulders all strapped up.
Yeah, so this post is an unusual one for me, not typically a musical person, and haven’t been to a real concert before (Queens of the Stone Age in a big pub type venue), I was gifted a ticket (by my girlfriend) to experience the Lady Gaga show. I’ve never listened to a Lady Gaga song before, I couldn’t name one song before we went, now I can name “Born This Way”, “Alejandro”, “Poker Face”, and “Black Judas/Jesus” (not sure about that one), I am a Lady Gaga completist now, it’s an amazing transformation. The start time was 7.30pm when this lady came out and started performing, she didn’t sing or dance (well, she kind of did), but they seemed to be taking the piss if you ask me, she pretty much stood around for thirty minutes seeing how many people would stay. I didn’t think that we arrived particularly early, around 5.30pm (gates opened at 6pm) and somehow managed to get into the queue for the Monster Pit, which I guess is for the hardcore fans. That was pretty cool since we were pretty close to the stage even if we had to deal with the Gaga fanatics (neither of us are big fans although Em seemed to know a lot more songs than she was letting on :D).
So it took a wjhile for the place to fill up, probably not until 8-8.30pm before the place actually looked pretty full (the seated ticket holders were late), Lady Gaga didn’t come out until 8.30pm so I guess they knew what they were doing. The first hour or so is dance music so you can get your heart rate up and jump up and down, then she slows down and sings a bunch of slower, less loud songs, which I guess you have to be a fan to enjoy. It was certainly entertaining and elaborate, the stage was a giant fold out castle very similar to how the old HeMan castle was (from my memory). The stage consisted of the castle, a bit more area for dancing, and then a walkway that went around the monster pit (the close in area for hardcore fans) separating us from the poor late comers that had to dance further from the stage. You can see in the “horse” picture how close we were to the walkway that she danced and pranced down (a lot!), and we weren’t even in a crowded section, we just wanted to get away from the crush of the hardcore fans. The Monster Pit was about two-thirds full which meant there was plenty of room to breathe and dance. And finally, a brief video mash I made of the evening (thanks to Em for the videos!).
Not much to this post, over Easter went down to Port Melbourne for a quick wander, didn’t get to stay until after the sun set so no pier at night long exposure shots. Had a Mr. Whippy iced cream which is not as good as a Mcdonalds cone, I’m going to have to be honest there. Then last weekend we went down to the Mornington Peninsula National Park for a little walk, then down to Somers for a look around. These are the pictures that made the dtraCorp cut. Here’s a question, why don’t any sites/blogs/CMS’ provide animated gif thumbnails? The last picture I uploaded here is actually an animated gif but the thumbnail doesn’t show it. It’s not difficult, in fact, I implemented on my old site, and the classes are available on phpclasses.org, do a search cos I can’t remember what the class was called.
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?!?!?
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.