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July 2013

In Asian, Dining on
July 29, 2013

Thai Lemongrass, Darlinghurst

Fish Cakes

Our latest group buy voucher lands us at Thai Lemongrass, a cozy little Thai restaurant on a quiet street in Darlinghurst. The restaurant is anything but quiet on a normal weekday night, though we notice most customers are coming with vouchers too, which makes us wonder (as we often do with these deals) how on earth they make a profit by selling so many vouchers.

We’ve got a bigger problem ourselves, that is of choosing one entree and main each from the menu- there’s just too many things we’d love to try! We start with a serving of fish cakes which are rather spicy for me, though i don’t really take spice too well! I must say, they are rather tasty though.

Duck larb

The Duck larb sounds interesting and different so we order that also and find out that it’s rather much like sang choi bow, only with a much tinnier lettuce leaf and (arguably) tastier meat filling flavoured with plenty of aromatic herbs. We love its presentation, though the size of the lettuce leaf means that it is quite difficult to eat.

Mixed Entree

We’d originally ordered their prawn cakes, but as they’d run out, we ordered a mixed entree instead which although not as interesting as our original choice, turned out pretty good. The satay chicken skewer was quite tasty and though we couldn’t quite figure what sauce the chicken wing was cooked in (the menu says it’s thai herbs and sweet chilli sauce- though it didn’t taste anything like sweet chilli to us), we quite enjoyed that one too.  You can’t really go wrong with fried entrees, and the spring roll and curry puff were both crispy and delicious.

Tom Yum Soup

The flavours in the Tom Yum Soup probably defines what we would describe ‘Westernised’ Thai food- overly sweetened and all the wrong flavours. It tastes rather much like a sweet Thai curry sauce than the usual spicy and sour soup we’re used to.

Deep Fried Fish with Papaya Salad

Unlike a lot of other vouchers, this one entitles us to anything on the menu, so we’re excited that we can order the whole fish dishes. We go for the fish with papaya salad, which is beautifully deep fried (though it’s not as crispy as it looks) which is covered in a light sweet chilli-like sauce. The fish meat is already cut up into chunks which makes it a lot simpler to eat, though we do enjoy picking at the crispy bones (tails and fins!) and we find quite a lot of meat still attached to the bones.

Pad Thai King Prawns

We ordered the Pad Thai King Prawns, one of the pricier options on the menu, to see why it is so special it made it to the chef’s special menu over the other variations of pad thai they had on their menu. The grilled BBQ king prawns come separate to the noodles, and have a nice smokey flavour, although the three prawns weren’t too great for sharing between four!

The pad thai noodles aren’t too special, and their noodles a tad chewier than I’d like, but they’re enjoyable and tasty like any other classic Pad Thai dish.

Ped nam buoy- Roast Duck

On the menu, the roast duck seems a little out of place for a Thai restaurant and even more so when the dish finally arrives as it’s really similar to the Chinese roast duck we’re used to, especially with the light dressing of plum sauce. That said, it’s amazingly delicious, with a great duck flavour, and not at all dry like some roasted ducks we’ve had in the past. I don’t usually eat much of the skin of roast duck, but this one was so incredibly very crispy and tasty I couldn’t resist eating it all!

Lime Leaves Peppercorn Seafood

The lime leaves and peppercorn seafood looked like a pretty boring stir fry of seafood and veggies, but we did get a bit of a surprise amongst tasting as it has a great breath of wok and is very tasty.

Khanom Tako

We finish off with the dessert of the day, a light coconut jelly/pudding which we enjoy as we’re all coconut lovers. We’re surprised, as we dig in, to find that there’s a second layer on the bottom, which is less coconutty and more jelly like, with pieces of water chestnut. It’s a shame it’s such a small serving as we really enjoyed it!

Thai Lemongrass on Urbanspoon

In Cake, Recipe on
July 23, 2013

Mango Mousse Cake


I’ve had my fair share of cake failures in the past. None more so than the first chocolate cake I ever made, but my first mango mousse failure also falls into close competition and is one I’m unlikely to forget anytime soon- afterall, it was the failure which inspired me to start this blog!

I’d decided to make a mango mirror mousse cake, not unlike the one in this post (although in my head, I’d imagined the finished product to be a little fancier)- this was back in the days before I started this blog, when my baking experience was limited to a handful of simple cakes and cookies. It was yet another one of my perhaps too ambitious baking projects especially considering the amount of interest, knowledge and experience I’d had with cakes, but hey, what’s the fun if it’s too easy right? Read more

In Asian, Dining on
July 21, 2013

Cha Cha Dumpling Train

I’m quite a fan of fun food, so where there’s new and creative gimmicks and I won’t hesitate to give it a try!

That’s how we end up at Cha Cha Dumpling Train – just like a sushi train, but with steamers of dumplings and buns rather than sushi- and it’s ‘opening special’ of $3.50 per dish made it rather attractive too!

We arrive early as the yum cha train is rather small, seating about 20 people in total on the train, and we notice the place fills up quite quickly! The train is quite empty at first but the dishes fill up quickly as more customers start sitting down.

Scallop and Chive Dumplings

The steamers are labelled on their lids so you don’t have to open each of them to figure out what they are. We’re a bit disappointed that there are only a total of 5 different offerings in the steamers on the train- 3 types of dumplings (scallops, prawns and vegetarian) and 2 types of buns (pork or vegetarian), even though the sign at the front of the shop shows a lot more steamed options!

We go for the scallop dumplings first, and realise the dumplings are unlike the any of the varieties of dumplings you’ll get from yum cha restaurants. These have a tasty scallop and chive filling, though the soft, gow-gee like wrapper reminds us rather much of our own home-made dumplings!

Prawn Dumplings


The prawn dumplings are pretty much the same thing but with a different shape and filling. We find the dumplings to be rather dry and bland and much prefer the scallop ones. 
The buns on offer don’t look too attractive, and aren’t great for sharing as there’s only one in each steamer, so we move onto the non-steamed options. There’s a couple of fried options such as lemon chicken and salt and pepper calamari, and we can see them cooked in through the window into the kitchen, they come in rather small proportions and not exactly what we’re in the mood for. 

We go for these beef rice paper rolls, the yum cha train’s alternative to sushi, which seem more a little out of place here as they look a bit Vietnamese to us. They’re wrapped beautifully with a generous amount of tasty stir fried beef (a bit like kebab meat actually!) and veggies, though they’re a bit difficult to eat!

Unfortunately, that was all on offer that we were interested in as we’re not too big on Westernised chinese food when it comes to yum cha, though we did really enjoy the idea of yum cha train!

Cha Cha Dumpling Train
Shop 2020A Level 2 Westfields Sydney
Cnr Pitt St Mall & Market St

In Asian, Recipe on
July 17, 2013

Hainanese Chicken Rice

In attempt to improve start building up some cooking skills, I went to my bookshelf inspiration and found this Hainanese Chicken recipe, along with many other much more ambitious projects which I’ve yet to start even thinking about collecting ingredients for. I actually thought that this was quite ambitious itself, until I realised how dead simple it was to boil a chicken and mix up three sauces to serve it with. And don’t let the picture fool you- the chicken was so much more smooth and tender than it looks! The only challenge really was to chop it up into nice presentable pieces (of which I had no clue how to do so!).

The rice is amazingly tasty too, though you might not want to let people know that it tastes so great because of the amount of chicken fat in it! 😉 Read more

In Dining, Modern Australian on
July 14, 2013

Orient Hotel, The Rocks

The Orient Hotel was probably not the best option for a family dinner, being situated above a (quite noisy) bar, but I couldn’t resist buying a voucher for a 3 course meal as it was quite cheap at $99 for four. Luckily, the soundproofing in the restaurant was done pretty well, so despite the large party just outside the restaurant, we managed to enjoy a relatively peaceful meal!

Crumbed lamb’s brains, speck, sauce gribiche

I rarely ever eat Modern Australian, so I wanted to try pretty much everything on the menu, but ended up deciding on the lamb’s brains as I’d never tried them before. Their soft squishy texture was quite similar (to me at least!) to tofu, and they were cooked beautifully with a golden crispy crumbed exterior. The small pork cubes were also deep fried until incredibly crispy and were amazingly addictive, although it didn’t feel all too healthy as there were a lot more pork fat cubes than meat ones!

Smoked salmon, toasted brioche, celeriac remoulade
The salmon and toast was much less exciting, with the brioche tasting rather much like normal bread than what we’d expect of brioche. The smoked salmon was quite enjoyable, with a deep, rich smoky flavour whilst not being too salty. We prefer our smoked salmon a little more on the colder side, though that might be just us. 
Seared scallops, black pudding, cauliflower purée
The scallops are also cooked and presented beautifully- which got me pretty excited as I could finally take one of these typical scallop shots everyone has 😉 The insides of the scallops were quite soft, so we weren’t sure if they were a little undercooked but we liked the polenta, which was nice and soft and fluffy like mashed potatoes
Rock Oysters
The oysters come in a generous serving of 8 and are quite cute, sitting on a bed of salt. We do find them rather salty, though we couldn’t really point out the reason.
Lamb rump, caponata, broccolini, rosemary jus
The orders must have gotten mixed up at some point, as my lamb, which was supposed to be done medium, came out medium-rare- I don’t mind raw(ish) beef, but raw lamb isn’t exactly my thing, so tasty as it was (and it was pretty good!), I did feel a little uneasy eating it. The serving was quite substantial, as I really enjoyed the caponata- a tasty, soft cooked vegetable salad, though it was a lot more tomatoey than I’d expected.
Eye fillet steak (220g), broccolini, potato and bacon croquettes

Because of the mix-up, the steak came out much more cooked that we’d prefer, though we loved the tastiness of the meat and the contrasting textures of the cripsy grilled exterior and the meaty, chewier interior. The croquettes were delicious also, tasty enough to be eaten without sauce. We found the overall proportions for this dish to be rather small though, not quite enough to fill one person up.
Wagyu corned beef, carrot, kipfler, white onion sauce

We’re not quite sure what exactly corned beef is, as we’d thought it was that stuff in cans that we’ve always had but the ‘wagyu’ part of the name sounded too good to resist so we ordered it anyway. Turns out that corned beef isn’t really our thing, as we thought it tasted rather much like ham, just less salty.The potatoes and carrots were tasty and cooked nicely though!
John Dory fillet, burnt butter, capers, lemon, mash potato

And because we love our seafood, we couldn’t go past the grilled dory fillet which unfortunately was a bit of a let down as it was rather plain and bland though we loved the mashed potatoes, which are incredibly light and fluffy.
Chocolate fondant pudding with Brnady Anglaise
We’re not too fond of the wait for desserts, which take over half an hour to come out- it’s not that we’re in a rush or anything, but once we’ve started eating, we don’t really like stopping until we’ve reached the end……if you know what I’m talking about?The chocolate fondant is great though, cooked beautifully with a crispy exterior and warm melting interior- definitely our favourite dessert of the night and we’re glad we ordered two!

Passion fruit panna cotta, strawberry coulis

The panna cotta was smooth and creamy, and we finished it in no time as the flavours were very light and refreshing. 
Affogato – espresso coffee, ice cream and Frangelico 
A quick google search after the meal reveals that affogato is a drink, and I wish I’d known earlier as I was a little perplexed as to how to ‘eat’ this ‘dessert’. I did eventually figure out that it was probably easiest to pour everything onto the vanilla ice cream, though I found the espresso to be much to strong and bitter for me (as I’m not a coffee drinker) so I ended up having to fish out the remaining bits of vanilla ice cream……yes I’m a bit of a noob 😉 I really enjoyed the ice cream though, with specks of vanilla which misled us to thinking that it was cookies and cream for a second or two. Interestingly, the flavour didn’t really taste much like vanilla, though that might have been because I’ve never had ‘real’ vanilla ice cream before-but it was nice and really creamy!Upon leaving, the strange stares by the bouncers (which pretty much say ‘how on earth did they get in?’) make us realise that it’s probably a good thing we came relatively early as my sister probably would not have been allowed in had there been bouncers when we arrived!

Orient Hotel on Urbanspoon