Monthly Archives

March 2010

In Asian, Dining on
March 31, 2010

Sunny Harbour Seafood Restaurant- Hurstville

One of the yum cha restaurants I’ve always liked is Sunny Harbour Seafood restaurant. We used to come here quite often on weekends, depite it taking more than one hour to drive there (which meant long waits) and even despite the fact that the employees would let in the people they knew quickly, whilst the rest of us watched in frustration. The restaurant was small and cramped but the food was good, which is really what mattered. But the one thing that set the yum cha apart from others in Sydney was the fact that they’d often have seafood dishes- such as prawns, lobsters, crabs and my favourite, steamed eel. They’d brought out on the small yum cha standard dishes, often stacked so high they’d almost topple over- and they’d be as hot and yummy as they’d be if you ordered it from the menu at dinner. The only difference was the price- it was really cheap! This meant that we would often be able to eat luxuries which we’d normally eat on special occasions (i.e. birthday dinners, new year dinners etc etc). Somehow, this made it taste especially good.

However, as restaurants do, it grew and moved to a much larger building (with three levels!) which meant a few changes. Unfortunately, this meant the end of such dishes and they turned ‘normal’ and only served yum cha dishes. As good as they may have been, it was not good enough to keep us coming back as often as we used to- especially as the restaurant became busier than ever, the wait did not shorten and the employees STILL ‘pushed in’ the people they knew. Eventually we stopped going there altogether.

What brought us back was an advertisement in the chinese magazines, advertising that they had employed a new dim sum chef from Hong Kong and that there was a 15% discount on weekdays. So, on a weekday when I probably should have been studying for exams, my parents took me here to give it another chance. Although the quality of the dim sum was still not as good as the Hong Kong standard, there was quite a large variety of things to choose from and the quality was good, compared to others in Syney. The 15% discount also meant that it was really cheap, compared to other yum cha restaurants- especially as yum cha seems to be getting more and more expensive these days.

Now, you might be wondering what I’m doing taking a picture of teapots. The teapot on the left was really small and cute! Yes, I know, they look the same size. =[ The smaller teapot is for water, so you can distinguish between the two- I only ever drink water because I don’t like tea (Or coffee…. if anyone wanted to know). Infact I dislike it so much that on the rare occasions that water is not ordered, I’ll only drink the tea when it’s dilute and will refuse to drink it once it goes past a certain shade of brown…… tehehe….

Gosh. I’m so mature =D

Steamed Pork Ribs

I never know what the food is called in english! Steamed pork ribs is one of our all time favourite yum cha foods because the meat is so soft and tender (or rather, the fat is). This one is no exception and the fact that there are a couple of pieces of taro in it gives it a bit of authenticity. The taro is actually the highlight of this as it is surprisingly good.

Chicken pie

I love chinese chicken pie- I love how the pastry is almost opposite of normal ‘western’ pies which use puff pastry for the top and shortcrust for the base. This chicken pie uses puff for the base and the top is sort of like short crust only it’s much crumblier, and biscuit like. The contrast between the savouriness of the filling and the sweetness of the top makes this pie so distinct and delicious.

The chicken pie is good but not my favourite (that would be the one in Eastwood…)

Pan fried buns

The buns are wrapped in cling wrap, and are obviously cold, or at the best, warm . Neverhteless, they have got the taste right. The slightly sweet pillowy bun with the delicious chicken filling (like that of your normal steamed chicken pie) is really good, and I wouldn’t mind having all three to myself! The bun is awfully soft, like the steamed ones but with a fried bottom which give it its slight crunchyness, and that extra bit of texture. I can’t help but imagine how good these would be if they were just hot!

Har Gow

These cute little dumplings are not only cute but delicious too! I can never really tell the difference between good and bad har gow, although this may have to do with the fact that we don’t order it much. These are pretty ordinary, but they taste good!

Beef Tripe

Mixed innards of a cow (I’m sure there’s a better name for this!)

This is wheeled out in a huge hot trolley, alongside various congee. The large amount of liquid means that the trolley is awfully heavy and we notice the yum cha lady finding it difficult to manouvre it through the tight spaces. We ordered this and whilst the lady scooped it out from the trolley and into the bowl, my mother started a friendly coversation with her ( Something along the lines of ‘wow, that trolley looks really heavy!’) and so they talked . And talked. And she kept scooping stuff out, until it was pretty much overflowing! Which was awesome because I love this =]
Lotus Paste Buns

The lotus paste buns are smaller than the usual ones, which is why they give us 4 of them instead of the usual three. Personally, I prefer larger buns but I don’t really like lotus paste buns anyway (I’m not a huge fan of lotus paste) but since there are four buns, I help out and eat the bun of one of them. THe bun is soft and yummy- I don’t know about the paste though, I leave that for my parents =]

Pan fried Rice Noodle Rolls

These are a little underfried for my liking- i like my rolls extra crispy but other than this, the dish is really good.

Crystal Skin Dumplings

Ideally, a meal would end with dessert, or something sweet. However, our choice of dessert, these crystal skin dumplings, are rare and we end up asking a lot of the ladies whether or not the trolleys they are pushing have these. When we finally come across a lady who answers yes, we order it immediately, although we have not finished yet. These crystal skin dumplings are best eaten hot, so we I eat it straight away (burnt tongue…..I know) and the filling is so hot that it almosts oozes out. This restaurant must stock u ppon a good supply of taro because the taro crystal skin dumplings (the purple ones) have a really nice taro taste. The normal custard ones are good too but the taro one is definitely better =]

Afterwards, we stop by a bakery which also sells drinks. Freshly squezed sugar cane juice is something we get almost everytime we visit Hurstville. The old Sunny Harbour Seafood Restaurant was situated next door to this shop, and we would buy it almost everytime we were waiting for yum cha. Although the quality of this drinkis pretty bad, it doesn’t bother me or my sister, since we love sugar cane so much and we quickly finish it.


Sunny Harbour Seafood Restaurant
9-11 Crofts Avenue
Hurstville NSW 2220

Sunny Harbour Seafood on Urbanspoon

In Recipe, Yum Cha on
March 21, 2010

Pot stickers

I often am surprised at how easily many popular dishes eaten at restaurants can be recreated at home. I mean, if something which tastes so good can be made just as good at home, it wouldn’t be so popular right?

Or maybe not.

A long time ago, my mum was flicking though a chinese cookbook she borrowed from her friends. She cam across a potsticker recipe which she thought would be interesting to make, especially as we love potstickers so much.

Potstickers are something we (used to) order almost whenever they’re on a menu. They usually come in lots of 10 so we would share them so that my parent would get 3 and us kids would get 4 each. Me and my sister would eat them ever so slowly, wanting to be the one to eat the last potsticker, not wanting to be the one who watched the other eat it whilst we sat there in jealousy. The potstickers at yum cha were also really good, especially as they were big (although often not hot) but they were quite expensive, as they only came in lots of three.

So you could probably imagine our excitement was my mum told us that we would be making potstickers for lunch. Taking her cooking approach of following the recipe exactly for the first attempt, my mum made her own ‘lard’, or pig fat, as the recipe called for it. We then followed the recipe step by step. It took a while -all the kneading, resting and then the rolling out of the dough took a lot longer than expected and us amateur dumpling pleaters took a while to get a hang of pleating these things. The trick to pleating these things is to only pleat one side of the dumpling, like when pleating har gow. It will naturally curve inwards, giving a nice, ‘potsticker’ shape!

By the time we’d actually finished pleating, we couldn’t wait to try them out. Unfortunately, the cooking time is about 10 minutes- much longer than we could wait for.
So when they came out of the pan, all hot and crispy, we didn’t wait for them to cool- and they were delicious! They tasted exactly like the ones at restaurants. So pleased were we, with this recipe that it has now become a sort of ‘tradition’ that we make these potstickers at least once every holidays. Eventually, we substituted oil for the lard (a much healthier alternative!) which didn’t make too much of a difference, and got the hang of making these it takes us less time to make them.
Now, when we go to restaurants, we only occasionally order potstickers, as we prefer to try other things which we don’t make at home. We can never get enough of these things though- eventhough we the recipe makes a lot more then 10, and so we end up having more than we would at a restaurant, my sister and I still end up eating it slowly, wanting to be the last person to finish out share- even if they taste better hot!

Potstickers Recipe:

40g flour
20g water

20g lard (we used vegetable oil)
150g flour
75g boiling water

160g Chinese cabbage
240g minced pork
20g water chestnuts
20g Sichuan preserved vegetables
1tsp chopped ginger

1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp oil
Dash of sesame oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1tsp chicken powder
1 ½ tsp bean flour

Prepare the filling:
Wash vegetables and blanch in boiling water. Squeeze dry and mince. Mince with pork and seasoning and stir well. Place in refrigerator.

1. Mix ingredients A into a dough an set aside for 1 hour to rest (this is the raw dough)
2. Boil oil and water. Pour immediately into flour. Stir and mix well. Add to raw dough and knead into a smooth dough.
3. Divide into 3 pieces and with rolling pin, press into thing circles (we do this approximately and usually end up make only around 20 from the recipe…)
4. Wrap in ingredients (about 15g- again, we do this approximately). Note: to wrap potstickers, pleat them like you would with normal dumplings but only pleat one side, leave the other side smooth. You should end up with a curved shape.
5. Heat and grease a frying pan. Line potstickers in pan and add 4-5 tablespoons of water. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes. When all the water has gone, add a little oil. Fry on low heat until golden brown.

Tips (from the book, not me!)
* The wrapping is the same as for mini steamer buns, ie Xiao long bao (*gasp* I didn’t realise until now!!) The advantage of using a raw and cooked dough combination is that it will not stick to the table or the rolling pin. The texture when eaten is not sticky as well.
* When the dumplings have been cooked, they should be placed on the plate so that the bottom becomes the top. (I tried it- it looked funny….)

In Asian, Dining on
March 17, 2010

Eastwood Star BBQ

It seems that I often remember insignificant things which nobody else does. For instance, one of my most vivd memories of high school was the first day of Year 7, when we were all sitting in the hall whilst the parents were all peeking in through the glass door (the teacher wouldn’t let them in). The teachers then made the parents leave and told us to wave goodbye to them- it was like preschool all over again!

I would have thought it to be a memorable experience for everyone, but everytime I bring this up, no one seem to rememeber this……

Another one of my memories was when my mother once took us to a restaurant in Eastwood after school. This was back in my early primary school days, and it a was a rare thing for my mum to take us out after school. I remember the restaurant being slightly dark (or maybe it was because I was looking outside the whole time) and that it wasn’t really nicely decorated but that I was really happy to be able to eat out after school and especially happy that I was allowed to choose a drink, which I happily slurped down. Unfortunately, it closed down a long time ago, and in its place have been several of other restaurants, most of which haven’t been too successful.

Lately, it belongs to Eastwood Star BBQ, and always being up for something new, we decided to give it a try.

Complimentary Soup (Lai Tong)

The restaurant isn’t too busy, which I guess isn’t surprising given the amount of competition around the area. They have a selection of barbecued meats too, which don’t look too bad but the fact that BBQ One is only a few metres away means that they don’t get too many customers buying them.

Dinner is served with complimentary soup which tastes the same as any other complimentary soup you’d get from a chinese restaurant- I can never really tell the difference. I really like this type of soup -it’s sweet, it’s got carrots in it (yum!) and the pork is very very tender.

Satay pot

The satay pot was good- it had plenty of noodles and onions and the meat was nice and tender. Of course, it is never a good idea to eat too much of the noodles- they leave you feeling very bloated when they get down to your stomach and expand. But the flavours were really good- making it really difficult to control youself!

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork is one of my all time favourite chinese dishes. Although I can tell the difference between a good and bad sweet and sour pork dish, it’s hard for a restaurant to produce one which I won’t like. So, needless to say, I was content with this dish. The pork was hot and crunchy and the sauce was good, although not the best I’ve ever had.

Shan Tung Chicken

With nice crispy skin, and a tangy and slightly sweet sauce, the Shan Tung chicken goes quite quickly. Again, it isn’t the best I’ve ever had but being fried chicken, we liked it anyway.

Portugese chicken baked rice


I usually love portugese chicken rice- I love the straight-from-the-oven-hotness and how it’s drenched in yummy portugese (curry like) chicken sauce. This one however, failed to please and we did not even end up finishing it. The sauce itself was mediocre but what ruined this was the amount of cheese they put in. Although portugese chicken rice is usually served with a bit of mozerella cheese over the top, so that when you scoop it out, there are cheese strands, the cheese does not affect the taste too much. This dish had too much cheese and I think they also used the wrong type of cheese as the strong cheese flavour didn’t compliment the rice and portugese sauce too well. Luckily, I actually like cheese, so despite the mismatch of flavours, I found it bearable.
Overall, the food isn’t too bad but definitely not as good as many of the restaurants in the Eastwood area.


Eastwood Star BBQ restaurant195 Rowe St, Eastwood

In Asian, Dining on
March 4, 2010

Arisana- eastwood

One of my well known characteristics is that I’m very sensitive to the cold. At school, in winter, you’ll often find me with at least 4 layers on (2 of which are thick wollen jumpers) and will not take them off unless it gets hot enough that most people aren’t even wearing jumpers. In summer, you’ll sometimes still see me with a jumper on, even if I’m sweating until someone points out that it’s too hot to wear a jumper- in which case i’ll take it off (not that it makes too much of a difference).

This is quite different to my mother and sister who are extremely sensitive to the heat. Summer leads to a lot of inactivity and my mum dreads any baking or ironing that needs to be done. So on another typical hot summer day in Sydney, we, for some crazy reason walked from one side of Eastwood to the other (from Chinese side to the Korean!). This of course ended up with a lot of sweat and we had hardly enough energy to take any more steps. The reason for this craziness? Food. Or rather my want of Korean food (I just happened to drag them along!)

By the time we reached the other side, out criteria in choosing a restaurant were not in the food itself but in the level of air conditioning. The shops with their doors closed were most likely to have air con but the newer looking restaurants did look cooler than the old ones.

This was the reason we ended up at Arisana.

Like most Korean restaurants, they gave us the (free) appetisers. I never liked pickled radishes before- the spicy ones were hot and tasted very rasidh-y. Although, in a strange way, it was still nice. The yellow ones were much sweeter- I’m much more familiar with these ones as we buy them at the Asian supermarkets (we usually put them in sushi!) Interestingly, we saw people sprinkling vinegar onto it- maybe that’s the traditional way to eat it? Interesting, the menu at does not comprise of only Korean food, but also Taiwanese food! And, the menu was in Korean, Chinese and English! (Although it’s mostly in Korean) The food was reasonably priced- most of their dishes were around the $30 but we went for the less expensive options of noodles/rice which were around the $12 mark. Fried Dumplings $10

The dumplings were nice- crisp and crunchy. However, they don’t stay like that for long. We were distracted by the other food that came, and by the time we got back to these, they had gone soft.

Seafood Rice $13
The food comes really fast. The seafood rice comes as a pile or rice and a pile of seafood (and vegetables). The dish ia quite big, and cold possibly feed two (normal appetite-d people)and tastes really good. The seafood ‘sauce’ tastes like fish soup and is quite runny.
It also comes with a soup which at first looks like borsch but then it doesn’t taste like it- it doesn’t have a strong tomato taste (despite its colour) and is quite hot. To me anyway (to normal people it probably isn’t that hot…) It tastes delicious though.
Sauteed Black Bean Noodles $12
One of the Korean dishes on the menu, the black bean noodles, is by far the most popular dish in this restaurant. When we walked in, the first thing we noticed was that each table had at least one bowl of these unique black noodles. So, out of curiosity, we ordered one too.

Mix mix mix!

The black bean noodles- there’s a few variations of these from plain black bean noodles $9 to other things $12. We chose the sauteed ones becuase there is a picture on the menu. Unlike the other ones, the sauce comes separately from the noodles.
The problem with eating food from different cultures is that at time, you don’t know how to eat it properly. Luckily, we witness a guy sitting a another table pouring all the sauce over the noddles and then mixing it, so we copy him. There is a lot of sauce though, and we don’t end up eating all of it (the sauce, that is) because there’s so much. The saucewas delicious- there were lots of onions which I like but not an empowering onion taste. It wasn’t too salty, was slightly sweet and came with meat and cucumbers which tasted delicious. Served with thick noodles, the serving was actually a lot larger than it had seemed left us very full!
We leave, feeling very satisfied (and bloated) knowing very well that we will be back again. Maybe for dinner (as I think, the lunch and dinner menu are the same), and most likely dragging my father along too!
108 Rowe St
Eastwood NSW 2122
(02) 9858 2300
Open Daily 10:30am-10pm
In Cookies and Bars, Recipe on
March 2, 2010

Yellow Cookies

I’m the type easily tempted by a slight discount on cookbooks and bakeware. Often, I find myself wanting to buy a discounted cookbook of which I know I’ll probably never use- but the pictures are so tempting! Just last year, after christmas, we were shopping at Target when I came across a christmas cookie cutter and cake tin set, with a really cute rolling pin and brush reduced to only $4! Having never baked sugar cookies before, and rarely baking butter cakes I knew that I’d probably never use it. But a girl can never have enough bakeware and so I purchased my first ever set of cookie cutters- and funny shaped cake tins.

As I had suspected, they lay in the cupboard for almost two years, which is partly because it’s strange to make christmas shaped bakes when it isn’t christmas. Until Star day at school turned up. Because one of those cookie cutters were star shaped! You might remember the yellow cupcakes I made for the same occasion- the theme was yellow, but I thought star shaped yellow cookies would be perfect!

………..Or not so yellow

With butter cake, butter cream and now sugar cookies, I ended up using quite a lot of butter and sugar. Good thing that I didn’t have too many left for myself or my family! The house smelt like butter, my hands were all oily and so was the whole kitchen- mainly the tabltetop. The trays, bowls utensils took forever to wash. But it was definitely worth it!

This was the first time I made sugar cookies as I personally prefer choc chip cookies type cookies aka the type which you just throw onto the tray and bake. Personally, the sugar cookie appeals to me only in the decorating, no so much in the actual cookie itself. Inspired by the numerous blogs I’d read which had beautiful sugar cookies iced with royal icing, I decided to give it a try.

The original plan was to make royal icing and pipe some patterns onto the cookies. But then I decided against it at the last moment, scared that I would give everyone food posioning (with the raw egg whites, salmonella and everything) so I decided on just normal sugar icing made of icing sugar mixed with water/milk. The coobook had made it look exactly like royal icing. Much to my dissappointment, it looked like anything but royal icing when i made it.

The icing itself did not turn out pure white as the cookbook has illustrated. Then, eventually, it got contaminated with the yellow icing (don’t ask!) and so I was left with yellow, and a weird coloured icing. I tried piping patterns but the colour just wouldn’t come out nicely so I resorted to sprinkling them with hundreds and thousands. Tastewise, I don’t really like hundreds and thousands as I don’t like the texture but it made the cookies look not as pathetic as they were.

The cookies themselves came out beautiful if a little thin- I got a little excited when rolling out the dough and so it got thinner and thinner, with me wondering why I had made so much more than the recipe said. Despite the thinness of the cookies, they tasted great- even my parents liked them (although they preferred it without the icing)! It did however end up with hard edges because it was too thin which I didn’t notice until they cooled and the cookie became hard. Nevertheless they tasted good and will definitely use this recipe again- although next time I’ll try royal icing!

Sugar Cookies


Yield: About 50 2-inch cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sugar or cinnamon sugar, for dusting (optional)

Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.

Working with a stand mixer, perferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated – because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finisht eh job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy and malleable.

Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. If you want to make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. If you want to make slice-and-bake cookies, shape each half into a chubby sausage (the diameter is up to you – I usually like cookies that are about 2 inches in diameter) and wrap in plastic. Whether you’re going to roll or slice the dough, it must be chilled for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

If you are making roll-out cookies, working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of ¼ inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies – I like a 2-inch round cookie cutter for these. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies. (This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you’ve rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.

If you are making slice-and-bake cookies, use a sharp thin knife to slice the dough into ¼-inch-thick rounds, and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you’d like. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Storing: The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.