Monthly Archives

February 2016

In Asian, Dining, Lunch, Restaurant on
February 29, 2016

Ryo’s, Crows Nest

Some month and a half since returning home from holidays, and still suffering from mild post-Japan depression, I thought I’d treat myself to some ramen. Even if the recent 30 something degree heat was more a salad kind of weather.

I’d been meaning to try Ryo’s, having driven past the bright orange building and the long queues numerous times. It’s not exactly located in the most convenient place, but after driving around the block in circles for a while we eventually found street parking and breathed a sigh of relief when we saw that the queue wasn’t as long as we had expected.

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In Asian, Recipe on
February 24, 2016

Teriyaki Tofu

So I know that this tofu is not the most visually appealing dish,  but I promise you- it tastes a lot better than it looks!

I’m always on the look out for interesting dishes to pack for lunch, even if I already have about a hundred recipes bookmarked. Quite a few of these involve creative ways of using tofu- one of my favourite foods.

Having tried using tofu in many different forms, I have found that my favourite way to cook tofu is to keep it simple- cooked briefly with a little bit of sauce. This recipe is about as simple as it gets- using a simple teriyaki sauce to impart a light flavour. The sauce isn’t overly sweet or salty so you can still taste the tofu flavour- although this does mean that this recipe isn’t one for those who aren’t particularly fond of tofu!

 

Korean-Style Teriyaki Tofu Recipe
Recipe from here

For the Tofu:

200g Firm tofu
dash of Salt
Oil, as needed

For the sauce:
1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
1 cm of white part of a Japanese leek, finely chopped
1 Tbs Sugar
1 tablespoon
2.5 Tbs Soy sauce
1 Tbs Cooking sake
2 Tbs Water
dash of pepper

1. Slice the tofu 1 cm thick. Put the sliced tofu on paper towels, and microwave for 1 minute to drain off the excess water. Sprinkle with a little salt. Combine the sauce ingredients.
2. Heat up some oil in a frying pan, and pan fry the tofu until golden brown on both sides!
3. Wipe out any excess oil from the pan and add the sauce. Simmer and reduce the sauce while turning the tofu pieces over occasionally.
4. Top with sesame seeds and/or shallots to serve. Sprinkle on some ground chili pepper to add spice for grownup palates.

In Japan, Travel on
February 17, 2016

Travel | Japan, Osaka: Waffles and Crabs and Ichiran Ramen

 

Our first meal in Osaka happened to be at the airport. This was a result of forgetting to order meals on our flight and surviving off only toasties and cup noodles for the 8 or so hours. Luckily for us, the airport had a pretty impressive selection of food outlets so we had quite a satisfying udon and unagi meal, although we gobbled everything up before I even remembered to bring out my camera.

Menyagaten

 

So by the time we reached the city, we weren’t terrible hungry and only after a light-ish meal so we ended up at this small and cozy ramen restaurant for dinner. 

 

Maze Soba (700yen)


The menu was in Japanese but thankfully it had plenty of pictures so it made it quite easy to order. I had absolutely no idea what the maze soba was, but seemed like a good option seeing as it was posted all over the store on posters and signs.

It’s an impressive bowl of thick noodles with a soy-like sauce mixed in, a piece of tender chashu pork and a mountain of toppings. Of which I’m pretty sure included a quite a bit of pig fat. And a generous serve of minced garlic to give you hours of garlic breath.

But if you cast your mind away from how unhealthy it may be and how bad your breath will smell afterwards, mix it all together and you have yourself a very very tasty bowl of noodles. Perhaps a little on the salty side for my tastes, but still very tasty indeed.

Gachi Shouyu Ramen Kai (980yen)
 
And for the not so adventurous, they also do shoyu ramen. We were quite impressed with the soup base, as the shoyu ramen we’ve tried in Sydney are quite plain in flavour- this one was very moreish.

 

Gyoza (280yen)

And we couldn’t go past the gyoza, at only 280yen for 6 pieces! Very delicate dumplings with a crispy bottom and a delicious filling- we would have ordered a serve each if not for the fact that we were feeling quite full!

Maison de Gigi

 

It didn’t take us long to discover that three meals a day was not going to do it for us in Japan, as there’s food everywhere. A short walk down the Shinsaibashi shopping strip, and we find ourselves lured into this cafe from the display of waffles out the front.

Hazelnut Latte (630yen)

 

The three storey cafe sells mainly waffles but they also do some pancakes and crepes. You can buy takeaway waffles for roughly 150yen or you can opt to dine in, but there is a policy of ordering a minimum of one item per diner. 

 

The coffees look like coffee machine ones, with foamy froth and lack of coffee art. Whether or not it’s machine or barista made, we couldn’t figure out, but the coffee was surprisingly pleasant, especially with the hazelnut aroma. 

 

Liege Waffles (set, 980yen)

There’s a huge cabinet of the cute liege waffles at the front of the store and they do them in four different flavours. These are pre-made however, so they’re of the more bready texture.

Custard and Banana Waffles (780yen)

If you dine in, you also have the option of ordering the freshly made waffles which are definitely the better option- these come hot and are softer and fluffier than the liege variety. We love the presentation of the waffles, with quenelles of cream and ice cream, custard, bananas and chocolate sauce piled beautifully.

Dotonbori

 

By the time we reached Dotonbori, we had an hour to spare before lunch so we hit the streets and tried some of the street food. 
 
 
There was plenty of takoyaki, but none quite as noticeable as the Dotonbori Kukuru Konamon-Museum which has a massive takoyaki holding octupus. We didn’t have time to visit the museum, although we did have enough time to join the long line for some takoyaki.
 

 

Watching takoyaki being made is like an attraction in itself- there’s something mesmerising about the way the chefs turn the little balls at lightning speed. The end result are piping hot takoyaki balls which are incredibly soft inside- quite unlike any takoyaki I’ve ever had elsewhere.
 
 
We also tried this takoyaki place further down the street which was a little less busy both out of curiosity and because we can’t have enough takoyaki.

 

 

They looked a little different, with less round balls and a more generous sprinkle of bonito…..but tasted pretty similar to the other ones!

 

 

There’s also a cute melonpan food truck towards the end of the street which claims to be the “second delicious melonpan ice cream in the world”. Not sure where they got that from, but I wonder where I’d find the one ranked number one?

 

The melon pan are heated and the slab of ice cream is sandwiched between the bun when you order. This makes for a great combination of warm bun and cold ice cream with a particularly crunchy outer layer. If this is only second best, now I’m really curious as to how good is the best?

Amongst the many food vendors on the street was this scallop store which only sold the one thing- grilled scallops.

Grilled Scallops (500yen)

 

They tasted even better than they looked- really fresh and sweet. And they were massive! 
Kani Doraku

 

 
And of course, we couldn’t visit Osaka without trying out the famous Kani Doraku- the main store of the chain. You can book online in advance but we turned up before lunch to get a ticket from the front, which designates you a time to come back when a table will be ready so that you don’t have to stand around waiting. 
 
Peach Sake Drink
 

We were advised by a friend to visit during lunch hours, as their lunch sets are much cheaper than their dinner. For a 9 course crab feast, their lunch sets are great value- we picked the Ruri set for 4320yen per person and the Moegi set for 3780yen to try a bit of everything.

Ordering is via their iPad system which is quite simple to use- tap your selection and you’re ready to go!

Boiled crab

 

All the required utensils are provided for removing the crab meat from the shells- I love how the section of shell is removed so all that you need to do is give it a bit of a scrape to remove all the meat. No nutcracker required!
 
The boiled crab is simple yet tasty- fresh crab meat is nice and sweet in itself, and although dipping sauce is provided, I prefer eating it without.

 

Raw crab tsukuri

We’re not completely sure we’d like the raw crab, as we’re not huge fans of raw anything other than salmon. Luckily it’s not as chewy or sticky as we’d thought, and rather sweet, although I don’t think we’re completely sold.

The claypot rice with crab is the last course, however, it’s brought to the table early to heat up and cook.

Grilled crab

The grilled crab tastes quite similar to the boiled version, just a little drier.

Crab tempura

What’s not to love about crab tempura? The pairing with okra tempura is rather odd, and though we’re not huge fans we’re happy to find that it’s not very slimy.

Crab gratin

The crab gratin comes in the cutest mini claypot with a crab painting on the lid. And a cute spoon too!

All cuteness aside, it’s an amazing dish, with crab meat blanketed in creamy cheese sauce.

Streamed egg custard with crab
Continuing on with the cute theme are these super smooth and silky steamed egg custards- a sort of Chawanmushi but with a crab topping instead of filling. 

 

Steamed crabmeat dumpling made with Yuba 
 
The crabmeat dumplings are bite-sized dumplings made with a delicate tofu skin wrapper, each beautifully presented in its own little bowl. 
 
Japanese soup

We can’t seem to figure out what the little colourful balls are- they’re a little like fish balls but not quite. Nevertheless the miso soup is quite enjoyable.

Claypot rice with crab

By the time we’d finished all the other courses, the claypot rices were ready. There’s a fragrant smell coming from the claypot when you open the lid, but unfortunately, the crab leg in the rice doesn’t impart as much flavour into the rice as we’d expected

Ice cream with green tea sauce

And onto arguably my favourite course of the meal- ice cream! The waitress comes with perfectly round scoops of vanilla ice cream, and then whips up the matcha at the table before pouring it onto the ice cream. It’s the perfect ratio of matcha to ice cream to balance the bitterness of the green tea to the sweetness of the vanilla.

Teppan Jinja

 

When dinner comes rolling around, we find ourselves on Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street looking for food. We’re lured into teppan jinja by the sight of the yakitori grilling and the friendly chef waving at us.

 

Beef, Chicken, Stuffed lotus root and Scallop with Miso Sauce

 

There are seats by the bar downstairs where you can see the grilling in action, however it does make for a stuffy environment so we’re taken upstairs to a private room. There’s a little buzzer in the corner to signal waitstaff to come when you’re ready to order. 
 
All items are priced per skewer and aren’t too pricey so it allows us to have quite a variety of food. I’m a huge fan of the stuffed lotus root which are nice and crunchy and have the perfect amount of mince stuffing in each of the holes. The scallops aren’t nearly as big as the ones we had in the afternoon at Dotonbori, however, they are sweeter and tastier with the thick miso based sauce on top. 
 
Asparagus Wrapped in Pork (250yen)

There’s menu also ranks their top choices by popularity, with asparagus wrapped in pork ranked number 1 so we had to try this. And we’re glad we did, though we’d rank the scallops higher than this one. The pork is cooked perfectly, without the asparagus being too soft or hard, accompanied by a light teriyaki-like sauce.

Prawn Toast (190yen)

The waiter recommends these prawn toasts which are mini bite-sized toasts. Whilst there isn’t a whole lot of prawn on the toast, there’s just enough to impart enough flavour to leave us wishing we had ordered more.

Ichiran Ramen

As delicious as the skewers were, it didn’t take us long to figure out that it would take a ridiculous amount of skewers to fill us up so we decided after round two of skewers to find something a little more substantial to fill us up.

 
And so we ended up at the legendary Ichiran Ramen. 
 
We thought we’d beat the queues by coming late-ish at night, but we find that there’s many more night owls than we’d though, with the queue starting from the entrance and snaking its way into the back of the store where the ordering machines were.

 

Calpis
 
Luckily for us, the store is much bigger than it appears, with 8 or so levels and separated into sections with individual booths or those with tables.
 
Tonkotsu ramen (790 yen )
 
Each ramen is customised so you choose exactly how you want it from noodle texture to the strength of the broth. We can’t exactly remember how we ordered our one but it was perfect. The broth is so good it’s addictive, with a strong pork flavour without being too salty or overwhelming. We’re glad we ordered a kadaema to finish off the soup!

Menyagaten
2-7-28 Nishishinsaibashi Chuo-ku Osaka Osaka
大阪府 大阪市中央区 西心斎橋 2-7-28 萬壽福ビル

Maison de Gigi
 2−2−17 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka 〒542-0085 , Japan
〒542-0085 大阪市中央区心斎橋筋2-2-17
 http://maison-de-gigi.com 

Kani Doraku Dotombori Honten
〒542-0071 1-6-18, Dotombori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
http://douraku.co.jp.e.at.hp.transer.com/kansai/honten/

Teppan Jinja Dotonbori
1-6-4 Dotombori Chuo-Ku | Dotonbori Erika Bldg. B1, Osaka 542-0077, Osaka Prefecture
〒542-0077中央区道頓堀1-6-4道頓堀エリカビルB1

Ichiran Dotonbori
〒542-0084 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Chuo Ward, Souemoncho, 7−18, 1F
〒542-0084中央区宗右衛門7-181F
http://www.ichiran.co.jp/english/html/kin_douton.html 

In Australia, Burgers, Dining, Travel on
February 9, 2016

Travel | Cairns: Apex Milk Bar,

Happy New Year Everyone! Perhaps a little late, but better late than never I hope? 
Getting back into blogging after a hiatus is a bit of a hassle so I’ve been putting it off for a while, but I’m back!! For anyone who follows me on instagram, you’ll probably have noticed that the hiatus was because I went on holidays over the new year period- and it was a blast! More posts about that soon, but I thought I’d start off by blogging about where I headed off to first, which was Cairns. 
 

Cairns was a bit of an unexpected stopover as we’d left it too late to book cheap direct flights from Sydney, so this was the next cheapest option. With a one day stopover, there wasn’t quite enough time to do the typical Cairns tourist things so we wandered around town instead, which wasn’t particularly eventful.

 
It probably wasn’t the best idea to dine at a milk bar with no air conditioning in the 40 something degree heat, but hey- the pictures on facebook looked appealing!
 
Colonel Schnitty Burger $7

The menu mostly consists of burgers and hot dogs, with a weekly rotation of burger specials. When we went, the “Colonel Schnitty” was the special of the week and at only $7 for the burger it’s quite a bargain!
The combination of crumbed chicken breast and crunchy slaw seems a little odd at first but it works perfectly. The slaw is of the more creamy type, but seems to pair nicely with the chicken and the soft bun. It’s so good, I almost ordered another one!

Fisherman’s Basket ($16)
 
I would have happily tried the rest of the burger menu, but unfortunately the rest of the party aren’t particularly keen on burgers. There’s not a particularly extensive selection of food apart from the burgers, so we decided to try the fisherman’s basket which was smaller than we had expected.
 
The basket is your typical fish and chips shop fare- it comes with battered local mackerel, calamari rings, fish cake, coconut prawns and hot chips.
 
Spicy Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Sauce ($12)
 
We’d originally been keen on trying out their fried chicken didn’t have any, so we picked the next closest thing- the buffalo wings. It’s not quite what we’d expected as it’s not very crunchy and we’re not too fond of the sticky sauce, but the blue cheese sauce was something different!
 
Onion Rings ($6)
 
Their onion rings are impossibly large- a result of more batter than onion. It’s quite nice when they’re fresh as the batter’s nice and crunchy but it does soften quite quickly!
 
 
On the way back to our hotel, we spot this mango tree full of unripe mangoes. If only we had one in our own backyard! 🙂

Apex Milk Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato