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Dumplings

In -, Dining on
January 23, 2019

Shanghai 18 Bun, Town Hall

If hidden hole in the wall joints are your kind of thing, then Shanghai 18 is one for you. A small Shanghainese restaruant located in the quite corner of Sussex street, its dim lighting which makes it looks like it’s not even open means it’s easily missed.

So it’s not surprising that it’s fairly quiet when we visit.


Xiao Long Bao ($9.80)

The menu consists of a variety of dumplings, buns, noodles and your typical Chinese stir fries.

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In Asian, Dining, Lunch, Restaurant on
September 11, 2016

Chef’s Gallery, Town Hall

If you have ever been to Town Hall, you would no doubt have walked past Chef’s Gallery. With it’s big glass windows showcasing the mastery of their well trained noodle chefs, it’s quite hard to miss, as they transform their pieces of dough into beautiful strands of noodles. There’s something particularly mesmerising about the process, the speed at which a thick piece of dough becomes elongated and multiplies right before your eyes.

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make noodles myself, so when the opportunity came up to attend a short noodle making masterclass with chefs at Chef’s Gallery, I didn’t hesitate to sign myself up.

To avoid the bustling crowds, visit in the morning just past opening and you’ll find yourself in a pretty quiet restaurant (it doesn’t take long for the restaurant to fill up though!). There are usually only a handful of seats by the kitchen where you can watch the action, however there’s no need to fight over a nice spot today, with the chef wheeling the cart over to pull his noodles right in front of us.

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In Taiwan, Travel on
July 18, 2015

Travel | Taipei: Yongkang Street and Nearby Eats

When we visited Taipei, we were lucky enough to have the guidance of a friend who recommended us to book a hotel near Yongkang street as it would be much more convenient to get to the foodie destinations.

Best advice ever!

We literally stayed across the road from the original Din Tai Fung which we’d loved to have tried, but the queues were never ending and the fact that there’s a billion branches everywhere else sort of made it less exciting (I know the original one is different, but still!). There’s plenty of similar restaurants around the area, and we were recommended this one from our taxi driver who noted that the xiao long bao was very good (we later find out that their website is named thebestxiaolongbao.com!).

Hangzhou Soup Dumplings 杭州小籠湯包 

 

Hot and Sour Soup
 

It’s located across the road from CKS memorial hall so it was easy to plan,  though we didn’t expect such a big crowd during the early lunch hours on a weekday. There’s menus to look through and order from and a takeaway section on the side to keep you interested while you wait though- and the assurance that the wait will definitely be less than the one at Din Tai Fung 😉
 
Because of the sheer volume of customers, service is quick and efficient- order before you get your table, there’s a self-serve fridge of small side dishes to start you off but once you sit down, dishes are just about ready to be served. 
 
Shredded Turnip Pie (Front) and Sweet Taro Pie (Background)
 
There’s no particular order that food will come out in- these two pies arrived almost the instant we sat down as they’re premade and stored out the front of the store near the takeaway section. We quite enjoy both of them, with a crispy layered outer pastry shell, and a tasty radish and taro filling.
 
Xiao Long Bao 
 
The xiao long bao are surprisingly quick, and ridiculously hot and steamy when they arrive- the steam did not die down for quite a while! They’re very beautiful, with each being uniformly shaped, with a thin, delicate wrapper and plenty of juice inside. Definitely enjoyable, but I probably wouldn’t call it the best xiao long bao ever. 
 
Crab Roe Xiao Long Bao
 
There’s a variety of xiao long bao available on the menu, for those who are looking for something a little more exciting than your normal pork xiao long bao. The prices here are ridiculously cheap (especially when comparing to Sydney prices haha), so we don’t hesitate to order the crab roe xiao long bao. 
 
There’s no mistake which steamer is the ordinary xiao long bao and which one is the crab roe, as the crab roe version arrives with a little bit of the yellow crab roe spilling out of the top. Tastewise, it’s quite similar to the original one, with the crab roe imparting a more fishy kind of taste. 
 
Shrimp Siaomai
 
It’s interesting that this was named a siaomai (dim sim) as it’s definitely different from the type we’re used to- it’s more like a xiao long bao with a prawn placed at the top where the dumpling is supposed to be pleated together! 
 
Steamed Vegetable and Pork Dumplings
 
The steamed vegetable and pork dumplings are a little different, with a slightly thicker skin and pleated like a dumpling. They’re quite tasty, and we love how hot they are, just like all the other steamed dumplings here.
 
Spicy Stink Tofu
 
We’d yet to try the famous (or infamous depending on how you see it), Taiwanese stinky tofu, so we’re curious to try this version. There’s various different types of this dish, and the version they serve here is the steamed version. It comes as three small tofu cubes swimming in a pool of chilli oil, topped with mince like topping which carries most of the ‘stinky’ flavour. 
 
Mixed Vegetable and Meat Potstickers
 
And since we ordered so many steamed dumplings, we had to even it out with some fried ones too. The potstickers are fried beautifully, presented with their perfect golden side face up. They’re nice and crispy, but also soft and delicate on the other sides. 
 
Marinated Beef Wrap
 
The marinated beef wrap is Taiwanese specialty we haven’t come across before- a thin scallion pancake, wrapped with beef shank, cucumber and shallots inside. Sort of like Peking Duck pancakes, except with beef instead of duck and a different wrapper. We’re huge fans of scallion pancakes, so it’s no surprise that we really enjoy these wraps!
 
Spicy Bean Noodles
 
We wanted to try their side dishes so we ordered these spicy bean noodles (炸醬麵) to share. It’s a small serve size, perhaps not designed for sharing, and doesn’t seem to fit in with all the other things we’ve ordered in this meal either. Nevertheless, it’s a very tasty dish, with the sauce in the pork mince topping being quite salty from the beans,  which works quite well once mixed in with the noodles, cucumber and other blander components of this dish. 
 
Red Bean Pancake
 
And of course we had to finish of with a dessert of some sort! The red bean pancake is funnily enough shaped like a pancake (we’re more used to the rectangular shaped ones!).  We love the sesame topping which adds a little crunch to the pancake, though we’re more of a fan of the fried and layered versions that we’re used to. 

 

Smoothie House 思慕昔
 
Speaking of desserts, I must introduce you guys to Smoothie House!!! The best dessert place that ever existed!
 
No joke!
 
The Asian tour books, online blogs and basically everything that I read about Taipei had some sort of mention of this magical dessert place, and being right on Yongkang street there was no way we couldn’t try it. Or so I thought until I realised the people I was travelling with weren’t into desserts, and a couple of small issues meant that we walked past it about two or three times without actually going in. 
 
But we did eventually make it, and boy were we glad we did- it might look just like shaved ice, but it is the most amazing shaved ice ever! The menu consists of about 10 or so different shaved ices- which come with different flavoured fruits and a topping of ice cream or pudding. I almost ordered something else as my Chinese pronunciation isn’t terribly accurate (the guy at the counter thought I was saying number 4 instead of number 10 haha) but did eventually manage to get my mango shaved ice!
 
 
In terms of flavour, we were divided when it came to the flavour we enjoyed best- half of us liked the mango, the other liked the strawberry. Both fruits were amazingly fresh, and the syrups and ice cream that came with it weren’t overly sweet or fake either. 
 
The best part though was definitely the shaved ice- I’ve had shaved ice, both here in Australia and in HK before, but nothing compares to this. It’s the softest thing ever,  with the layers being ever so thin and delicate (I’d say ‘melt in mouth’ except you could always say that about any ice dessert!). I’d almost say it felt fluffy when you put it in your mouth, only to vanish into liquid the next second. 
 

My friend had recommended this mango and passionfruit drink also, but this was only available from the proper restaurant upstairs (the downstairs area is more like a takeaway joint with a few bar-like seats) so we trekked up (any exercise during holidays is a struggle), and waited forever to get it. It was nice- definitely something different, sort of like the mango dessert in a cup, but I did enjoy the mango dessert much more!

Yongkang Beef Noodle 永康牛肉麺館

And I saved the best for last!!

The others weren’t too keen on trying it at first because it was a bit of a walk, being at the end of one of the side streets to Yongkang, especially as there were so many tempting things to eat on already. I eventually did manage to persuade them to make the walk through the dark and lonely street, and we’re glad we did! If you’re wondering why this post doesn’t contain more restaurants, despite us visiting Yongkang Street some 4 or so times in the couple of days we stayed- this restaurant is the reason. We tried this and we couldn’t stop coming back!!

There’s a little bit of a wait sometimes, but when it gets busy, they also open their second level so it’s not much of an issue. Food is served amazingly quickly, even when they have a full house which was great as we were pretty hungry on the few occasions we visited!

We were there for the beef noodle of course, but couldn’t help noticing that almost every table always ordered a side of the steamed pork ribs rice (粉蒸排骨) as well, which came packed in a curious steamer. There’s quite a lot in the small steamer, so it’s great for sharing with tasty pork ribs being the main focus of the dish, sort of coated by a some broken rice. There was also quite a strong taste of cooking wine in the dish, which made it very fragrant!

Wontons in Chilli Oil
 
The wontons in chilli oil are extremely soft and delicate and they filling is quite tasty itself. We’re a little disappointed that the chilli oil isn’t as strong in flavour as we’d like- it’s quite spicy but lacks a little complexity in flavour. 
 
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup with (Half Beef and Half Tendons)
 
And the reason why we’re here and why we just keep coming back- the beef noodle soup! It comes in two main varieties- all beef, or half beef and half tendons. Initially, we ordered the half half version, as we quite like tendons and they’re usually more tender than beef, but we realise the beef served here is also incredibly tender anyway, without losing the slight chew and taste of meat!
 
The noodles are thick and chewy, quite unlike any other noodle I’ve tasted- it’s so good I could easily just get a bowl of noodles in soup and be quite content with my meal. But it’s really the soup base which makes this noodle dish so amazing- it’s amazingly flavoursome (you can probably tell just by looking at the colour of it) in an indescribable way. If you’re ever around in Taipei, definitely make the time to check out this place!
In Asian, Australia, Café, Dessert, Dining, Restaurant, Travel on
March 31, 2015

A Short Trip to Melbourne

 

It surprises most people that despite having lived in Australia all my life, I’ve never ventured much out of Sydney. With domestic airfares being dirt cheap most of the year nowadays, it was about time that I started exploring other states, starting with Melbourne.

Because the trip was a sudden decision and we had bigger plans for another holiday further down the track, we tried to keep costs to a minimum and there wasn’t much of a planning, with last minute searches on Urbanspoon to decide our dining destinations for the day. Nevertheless, much fun was to be had in this exciting city!

Shanghai Street Dumplings

My friend had mentioned something about dumplings being cheap and tasty, so we searched up the nearest dumpling place to our hotel, and ended up at Shanghai street dumplings, which proved pretty popular, with plenty of diners even in the late afternoon when we rocked up.

Dumplings In Chilli Oil $8.50

 

The menu includes so many dumpling varieties that it’ll make your head spin- we spent quite a bit of time choosing what we really wanted. The dumplings in chilli oil are exactly that- 15 cute plump dumplings sitting in a warm soup with a drizzle of chilli oil on top. I can’t say they were overly exciting, nor were they spicy (we ended up spooning plenty of the chilli oil they provide as condiments on each table over the top to add some flavour), but there was definitely enough to fill us up for a meal!

 

Homemade steamed Shanghai Xiao Long Bao (Chicken and Prawn) $9.8
 

The xiao long bao seem to be pretty popular, with almost every table having ordered one so we chose the chicken and prawn variety for a little something different. The pork versions did look a lot more enticing that these ones though, which were not as soft and delicate as we’d expected, nor was there much soup in these ones…..

We headed out to the Crown after dinner, where we did see quite beautiful night scenery which made me wish that I had brought my DSLR to capture it 🙂

 

Manchester Press

And what’s a visit to Melbourne without at least a couple of visit to their famous cafes?

There’s too many good cafes in Melbourne to try in one trip, so to narrow down our search, we chose ones within close walking distance of our hotel, which is how we ended up here at Manchester Press. It’s hidden at the end of a laneway, easily missed were it not for the crowd gathering outside, waiting for their takeaway coffees and breakfasts which. There’s also plenty of people sitting inside so we’re lucky to grab a seat on the long wooden bench near the counter.

Coffee here is apparently really good, but seeing as neither me nor my friend were coffee drinkers, I don’t really have much of an opinion on that. The latte art was beautiful though 🙂

Fruit and nut Bagel $13

The menu consists mostly of bagels, and luckily online recommendations indicated two choices so we didn’t have to spend too much time deciding between the options. My fruit and nut bagel is a beautiful splash of pink and green, with a toasted bagel, mixed berry marscapone, strawberries and pistachio. Although it’s under the breakfast menu, I found it quite sweet for breakfast though- I could easily have had it for dessert! That said, I did really enjoy it though!

Smoked Salmon Bagel $13

The smoked salmon bagel is quite a substantial serving, with a generous amount of smoked salmon on top of a bed of spring onion and chive cream cheese and toasted bagel, as well as a small side serving of salad. And it makes for a very satisfying start of the day!

Hosier Lane


I quite like exploring the many laneways in Melbourne, where you never know what you may find- funky bars, cafes, nice graffiti or some interesting shops. Unlike in Sydney, where a laneway is…..well just that.

Dip In Café

 


And I can’t tell whether all of Melbourne’s cafes are hidden in laneways or if we just happened to only choose those which were, but for brunch another morning, we headed over to another café hidden in a laneway. Dip In Café specialises in dips, but it seemed that their baked bread bowls were equally as popular from online reviews.

Shakshuka $13.9

The Shakshuka, which was a tomato based vegetarian filling with two baked eggs on top reminded me of café style baked eggs, just in a bread bowl rather than in a pan. It is a much larger serving than it may seem- you might not want to have your next meal until much later in the day!

Or you could always try to walk it off and squeeze in an extra meal somewhere in the middle!

With Melbourne’s free tram system in the CBD, we stayed mostly within the city, with much walking and tramming to cover most of the city within the first couple of days. The stroll along Southbank was surprisingly nice, with the nice water view and all types of interesting love locks on the bridge.

Cat Café

Melbourne’s Cat Café opened up not too long ago, the first of its kind here in Australia, so we decided to make a quick visit to see the cats, despite not being huge cat lovers. All of their cats are from rescue shelters, and we were lucky enough to visit on a day after three new kittens had been brought in.

There is a minimal entry fee to see the cats ($10 for an hour), but it certainly is a different sort of experience. They also have some food and beverages on offer, since it’s a café, but seeing as we were still quite full from brunch, we gave it a miss.

Chokolait Emporium

Apart from eating, we did do quite a lot of shopping in Melbourne, and I don’t know if I should be proud to mention this, but I did give H&M and visit every single day I was there (it was massive!). The shopping centres were rather similar to Sydney’s though so we didn’t stay there much.

We did make a visit to the Emporium though, for a chocolate fix at the Chokolait Emporium as we’d purchased a group buy deal online. It was great value, at $29 for more chocolate than two people can handle- two chocolate drinks and a chocolate platter.

There’s a choice between hot and cold chocolates so we went for one of each. The hot version was chocolate overload- so chocolatey that I don’t think I could have even made it to the chocolate platter if I’d drank that all myself. Definitely the perfect drink for a chocaholic though!

The cold version was easier to handle, being less chocolatey, despite looking the part, with a fancy chocolate drizzle on top.

And of course- the chocolate platter!

We’ve tried a chocolate platter at Lindt café in Sydney before, so we weren’t completely new to this. With four chocolate pieces, mud cake, mango and vanilla ice cream, it doesn’t seem like much, but it certainly fills you up a lot more than you’d expect. The handmade Belgian chocolate were nice and smooth, and we had much fun guessing what flavours they were, whilst the cake was pretty solid also. The ice creams served well to balance the chocolate so that it wasn’t too overwhelming, though it did mean that their flavours were a little overshadowed by the chocolate.

And for more beautiful Melbourne night scenery, we headed over to St Kilda to see some penguins, though it did take us a while to find. Which although it was cold and windy, meant that we did get to see the sun setting by the seaside which was quite pretty!

Walk right to the end of the pier and you might see a penguin if you’re lucky! We spotted two when we were there, including this super cute shedding penguin!

Chan Charlie Chan

 

Satay Chicken Skewers

For something a little different, we ended up at Chan Charlie Chan for dinner, which interestingly enough was situated within Melbourne’s RMIT university. It’s a nice and quiet spot as we visited before the University semester had started so there weren’t many students around but did make me wish that I had a nice Malaysian eatery around on my uni campus too!

The entrée of satay chicken skewers was small and cute, and quite tasty too with a nice nutty flavour.

Bak Kut Teh

Although it was summer, it was surprisingly cold on the week we visited, which made it perfect for having a warm soup. The Bak Kut Teh, served in a clay pot, wasn’t quite as strong as I would have liked it, but was quite enjoyable, especially with the crispy dough sticks it’s served with.

Chicken Curry Laksa

We enjoyed the chicken laksa also, which came with pieces of smooth, tender chicken on top. The laksa soup is much spicier than anticipated though!

Lemongrass Chicken

The lemongrass chicken is surprisingly tasty, with the lemongrass and other herbs imparting a unique fragrance to the grilled chicken. It’s great by itself, but we discover that it’s even better when you dip it in the sweet, vinegar sauce!

Cacao Green

And because every day should finish with dessert, we visited Cacao Green for our fix of waffles. They’re a froyo bar, but we found that we quite enjoyed their waffle, which were made to order- they’re soft and fluffy and a great size for sharing. Topped with a sprinkle of fresh strawberries, a drizzle of nutella and a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream, the strawberry and nutella waffle was definitely a winner in my books- nothing super fancy, but a flavour combination that’s sure to please.

We had a little spare time towards the end of our trip, so we squeezed in a ride on the Melbourne Star. There was barely anyone there, so we managed to get the cabin to ourselves. The 360degree view is quite a sight, and it certainly gives you a different perspective of the city!

It is a 30 minute ride, though it feels much shorter than that- much like the whole trip in general. Before we knew it, we were on a plane back home! Will definitely be back again soon to continue exploring this city!

Shanghai Street Dumpling & Mini Juicy Bun on Urbanspoon

Manchester Press on Urbanspoon

Dip In Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cat Cafe Melbourne
375 Queen Street

Chokolait Emporium on Urbanspoon

Chan Charlie Chan on Urbanspoon

Cacao Green on Urbanspoon

In Recipe, Yum Cha on
March 8, 2014

Steamed Chive Dumplings

 

The uni semester has once again started, meaning lots of early mornings, late finishes, long lectures, long bus rides etc etc etc…..and inevitably, the lack of time to do anything I really want to do 🙁

I didn’t get to much in the holidays (hence the lack of blogging this year) because all I really felt like doing was sitting around and do nothing, which was sorta what ended up happening and now there’s a little bit of regret for not doing some things I should have…..

My mum made some chive potstickers one day, and since she had quite a bit of the filling left, I made some steamed chive dumplings the next day because I think chives go better with steamed dumplings (though that’s probably just my thing). I don’t make dumplings often so my dumpling skins were a bit thicker than they should have been and I didn’t realise that steaming them for 15 minutes instead of 5 (as my filling had pork in it whereas normal chive dumplings don’t) would break most of the dumpling skins (well there goes my half and hour of wrapping and pleating!). Nevertheless, they were delicious and well worth the effort 🙂 Read more