Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Mr Bao - York Street, Sydney CBD

Mr Bao is a regular feature at many of the markets around Sydney, and always seems to be very popular. The baos are influenced by Taiwanese street food, gua baos, and given a Vietnamese twist. 

Mr Bao is open for lunches Monday-Saturday and for dinner on Thursdays and Fridays. It's a great spot for a quick lunch time catch up. Word of warning though, it does get pretty packed and seating is minimal, so be prepared to get takeaway.

Vietnamese iced coffee

I love a good vietnamese iced coffee and it's almost always my drink of choice when available. The iced coffee at Mr Bao is smooth, with just the right amount of condensed milk.

Asian slaw salad bowl with crispy tofu

The salad bowls come with a choice of crackling pork belly, karaage chicken or crispy tofu; which easily makes a good choice for a lunch option for one. 

Gua baos and sweet potato fries

The pork crackling gua bao is divine; crackling pork belly with hoisin sauce, lightly pickled cucumber and coriander. The karaage chicken gua bao comes with a giant piece of juicy fried chicken, spicy aioli, pickled red cabbage and coriander.

The sweet potato fries are also great; nice and crispy, and served with the same spicy aioli. 

I can certainly see why Mr Bao is such a lunchtime hit; the baos are absolutely delicious and it's in such a handy location. 

Mr Bao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 19 June 2016

XO - Narrabundah, Canberra

Time and time again, I've been impressed with the amazing standard of restaurants that have appeared in Canberra. I had the pleasure of visiting XO Restaurant, during my downtime on a recent work-related trip to Canberra.

XO is a cosy restaurant nestled in suburban Narrabundah; the menu is innovative and has a modern, south-east asian focus. 

Japerol spritz

The Japerol spritz is an asian take on the Aperol spritz - 50/50 blend sake with aperol and fresh orange. It's a light and refreshing cocktail.

Shantung bao

The Shantung bao is delicious; a slider-sized fluffy white bao filled with twice cooked pork belly, cucumber, pickled daikon and ginger. 

Hiramasa kingfish

The kingfish is lovely and fresh; it's cured with beetroot, lemongrass, mixed herbs and a citrusy ponzu nuoc cham sauce. 

Mouth watering chicken

The cold cut chicken dish packs a punch, with Sichuan chilli oil, crushed nuts, cucumber and wood ear mushrooms. Best eaten with a generous serving of rice. 

Bo Kho

The perfect winter warming dish - Black Angus beef cheek stew with carrot mash, cactus coriander and pan grattato (aka breadcrumbs) I loved this dish; the beef was so tender, it just fell apart with barely a touch of the fork. The serving size is quite generous.

At this point we were pretty stuffed, but couldn't resist the desserts! 

Black rice pudding

A nice take on a classic asian dessert, served with crunchy shards of golden honeycomb, lime meringue and fragrant coconut ice cream.

Pandan panna cotta

A creamy and decadent pandan panna cotta with gula melaka syrup and a crunchy sesame tuille. 

I throughly enjoyed my meal here; everything from the ambiance, to the service, to the impressive food. A (not so) hidden gem in Narrabundah. 
XO Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Melbourne Eats - Part 1

I recently travelled to Melbourne, accompanying the Mr whilst he was undertaking a course for work. It was a great excuse for a break to do some shopping, catch up with friends and eat my way around Melbourne too.

Our first stop was to a highly recommended pub that specialises in the good old parmigiana and hand crafted beers - Mrs Parma's.

Aussie parmigiana 

The Aussie parmigiana consists of bacon, egg and beetroot toppings. All the parmas come with napoli sauce and melted cheese as a standard; there's 14 different variations of toppings, plus daily specials. All of the parmas come with a side of chips and salad.

Fish and chips

The menu also consists of the regular bistro classics. The beer battered Rockling fillets and chips pale in comparison to the parma; the batter is quite thick and stodgy. Definitely recommend sticking with the speciality parmas here. 

Mrs Parma's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

After a quick shopping expedition in the city, I spotted the Milkcow pop up located at The Strand. Milkcow is originally from South Korea and known for their milk, creamy and organic soft serves, and is currently making a temporary appearance in Melbourne.

Milky Cube

100% organic honey swirl topped with a honeycomb wedge. The soft serve is lovely - it manages to be incredibly creamy whilst still remaining light. The honey adds a nice touch; I like how the coldness of the ice cream turns the honey solid.

There's more toppings than you can poke a stick at, including options with fairy floss and caramel popcorn. 

Get in while you can - originally slated to end on the 31st of May 2016, it seems that due to the popularity of the pop-up, Milkcow's time in Melbourne has been extended indefinitely.

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

Still on the dessert note, I was surprised by how many asian dessert options were dotted around the city, or to be more specific, the Chinatown area. On our first night in, we stumble across this dessert cafe, Satu Produk Durian, that specialises in durian desserts (of which I am not a fan of!).

We go for the more standard desserts options, without durian. Our selections include a mango pomelo sago with coconut and matcha jelly (top right), and a matcha sago, with grass jelly and mango (bottom left). 

The online reviews for this place are not too favourable and the desserts seem to be hit and miss. 

Satu Produk Durian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The next morning, I venture out for a solo brunch. One street that always pops into my mind in Melbourne is Hardware Street - home to Hardware Societe and a handful of other great cafes. As I'm catching up with a friend later on in the week at Hardware Societe, I decide to check out one of the newcomers, White Mojo.

The menu consists of some traditional breakfast items, as well as some more fun, experimental dishes. I like how the menu is an all day affair with no separation of breakfast and more lunch-esque options.

The interior is bright and streamlined, with grey honeycomb marble and light wood being the main features.

Flat white

I don't think I had a disappointing coffee during my entire Melbourne trip, and White Mojo is no exception. 

Cauliflower panna cotta 

The cauliflower pannacotta was brought out to the table covered by a glass dome, and uncovered to reveal a cloud of smoke. Very theatrical. 

The dish itself consisted of a black pudding dust, Canadian scallops, crispy pancetta, 63 degree egg, dehydrated red onion, and potato popcorn. The cauliflower panna cotta was more of a  cauliflower puree, than a set panna cotta. The cauliflower went very well with the scallops and pancetta, though I thought there was too much of the panna cotta, I ended up leaving some behind. 

Cake donuts

The counter had dozens of these irresistibility cute small cake donuts. I grab a matcha flavoured one to take away.

Matcha cake donut

White Mojo  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
A firm Melbourne favourite for cakes is Luxbite. This time I visit the conveniently located city branch, T by Luxbite. 

T by Luxbite is located in Flinders Lane and is a condensed takeaway version of the original shop in South Yarra. There's a good selection of individual cakes and tarts, as well as some whole cakes. 

There is also a sampler option with a few petit four sized pieces of cakes, as well as macarons and tarts - I was tempted to get this, but limited myself to selecting two cakes instead as I still had days worth of eating to do in Melbourne, and had to save space(!)

Lollybag cake

The lollybag cake consists of seven layers; starting with the banana lolly joconde (almond sponge), Freckles crunch, Jaffa ganache, Musk marshmallow, banana lolly joconde again, Spearmint lead buttercream and a Redskin glaze. 

Wang Wang

Sour cherry jelly, white sesame caramel, black sesame panna cotta filled chocolate tart, coffee and hazelnut praline mousse, white chocolate glaze. 

T By LuxBite Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

For a quick and easy dinner, Shanghai Street was a fantastic option. There seems to be a few branches around the city; we went to the one located on Little Bourke street.

The shop is busy and seating is cramped, and there's usually a queue come dinner time. Don't be deterred though, the food comes out quickly and the line seems to move fast.

Chicken and prawn boiled dumplings

Beef noodle soup

The food is simple but delicious; and for $10 per person, it's awesome value too.

Shanghai Street Dumpling Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Stay tuned for Part 2...