Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shadowfax Winery, Werribee

On a recent trip to Werribee Parks, we stayed at the Mansions Hotel. After an early check-in, we strolled to the Shadowfax Winery eager to attend our first ever wine tasting. We arrived just a bit past 11 and were the first people there. The staff was only beginning to set up so we took a quick look around the premises.

It wasn't very big and we were ready for lunch. However the kitchen did not open until 12, and it seemed like our rumbling stomachs would have to wait. Instead they started us on the tasting menu and about 5 glasses later, I was too happy to feel hungry.

Having finished setting the place up, the waitress came over and took our orders so that the kitchen could get it under way. Meanwhile, we moved onto the second tasting menu.

By the time our food was ready, some large groups were arriving and the place was filling up rather quickly. We were glad we had beat the rush.
Pizza toppings were great although the bottom was a tad burnt. But meh, I was too drunk to care at that stage.

The Hervey Bay scallops were quite spectacular and the sugar snaps were a nice touch.

Having had a quite satisfactory feed and quite happily drunk, we stumbled back to the grounds to explore the Mansion.

Shadowfax Winery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ootoro, Southbank

Vaccies Lunch Series III
Ootoro is tucked away behind the Yarra facing restaurants along the Sth Bank, and between several office buildings. For no other reason than the fact that we happened to walk down that particular gap between the buildings, we probably would not have found it.

It wasn't particularly busy and the customers were mostly dressed in suits. After our rather uninspiring meal, I can safely conclude that it's a place of convenience rather than a foodie place. Prices were standard, service was relatively fast and the dishes were ordinary. I wouldn't make it a point to come back, but if I did walk past and was somewhat hungry, I might stop for a sushi or a quick bite.

For starters we ordered goyzas and two oknomiyaki's to share between us. For some silly reason, the second oknomiyaki did not arrive until the end of the meal and failed to serve its purpose as a starter. By then everyone was pretty full.

We rated our mains as follows:

OK: Hokkien noodles - 0.7
AM: Katsu ramen - 0.5
TI: Singapore mee - 0.6
LL: Vegetable ramen - 0.3 because it wasn't ramen like at all and the okonomiyaki was undercooked.

CC: Charsiu ramen - 0.5

Ootoro on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 27, 2010

Imperial Kingdom, Glen Waverley

Christmas Day tradition in my family is to do yumcha. Almost every year, we've come to Imperial Kingdom. Over the years, it's had it's ups and then it's downs. But in recent times, it definitely seems to have picked up its game. There were a lot of new dishes on offer and we had fun taking our pick.

Imperial Kingdom Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Simon's Peiking Duck, Box Hill Sth

My request for a table of six on a Saturday night was turned down (unsurprising really) and so I settled for a midweek lunchtime rendezvous with N.

I made sure that we arrived early so that I would have ample time to capture every detail of Simon Lay aka the Duck Nazi's newest venture. Our booking was for 12:30, but we were in the door by 11:50 and was the first table to arrive. Despite our unconventional early arrival, the waitress kindly showed us in and let us choose a table.

My extreme enthusiasm also presented me with the opportunity to capture the great man himself hard at work, preparing the pancakes. We were enraptured.

Our duck was quickly wheeled to the table and a younger shifu came to carve it for us. At this point, there was a group of 20 people that were seating themselves in the corner and we were SO GLAD that we came nice and early. I would've been gnawing at my fingers if I had to watch them get served first.

Look how golden it is! The slight crackle on the skin is beautiful. To my surprise, the duck was also very juicy and droplets from the meat almost splattered my blouse when the drumsticks were pulled off the body. I also loved the visible steam that radiated from deep within the duck as the cleaver drew closer to the skeleton. It carried the strong duck aroma to our twitching noses.

As per the teachings of the great man, the young shifu put the cucumber and the spring onion at 3:15 sharp. He then put a piece of nice fatty duck on top and smeared it with a good dollop of hoisin sauce. The top of the pancake was then folded down, the bottom of the pancake folded up, and the left hand side folded towards the centre.

The right hand side is left open and then turned 90 degrees anti clockwise. To eat, pick it up with both hands, lean forward over the plate and bite.

I could definitely taste the difference. This duck has the crispiest skin that I have had and it had an almost crunchier texture to the red tinged skin at most other places (including Old Kingdom). However due to the fatness of the duck, it was not dry or brittle and the meat was also juicy and succulent.

We had chosen option B and our second course was duck pieces with hand made noodles. This was quit splendid, and I liked the combination of soft small duck pieces, slippery Chinese mushrooms, crisp pieces of bamboo shoots, and the bouncy handmade noodles. Again, I was so glad we came earlier than our booking. Whilst we were on our second course, the staff was working at top speed to get the first course many other tables. The restaurant was at full capacity and people were getting turned away. On a Wednesday! At lunch! Unbelievable.

Lastly, we received duck soup. I liked how it was a quite clear broth, and the thinly sliced pieces of tofu was silky. Although it would've been nicer if there were less bits of bone and tendon and etc floating at the bottom. Nevertheless, it provided a warm satisfying finish to a very very enjoyable meal.

Simon's Peiking Duck Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 24, 2010

Meat and Cheese Platter

Spicy Fish, Glen Waverley

RaRamen was fully packed out on a weekday night and the 5 of us had to take our dumpling cravings elsewhere.
JG's Dumpling was open, albeit under a different name, but there was no way we could bring ourselves to eat there after its recent blacklisting on the Local Council website for uncleanliness and etc.
So then I thought of Spicy Fish. Although its not known for its dumplings, it did serve dumplings and would be able to satisfy us.

Eggplant mnnnnnnn... come to mumma!

The lamb was also nice and tender, although some of the group still found it a tad too spicy. For those who do like a bit of a zing, this would have scored 10/10.

Buck Choy with Chinese Mushrooms - would have been better if the buck choy had been sliced into smaller pieces. Although this size looks quite wonderful in a photo, it was hard to eat.

Fried dumplings were not cheap, but they made us happy.

However the Xiao Long Bao (XLB) were SO disappointing. We ordered two serves and they both looked like they had just been chucked into the steamer without much care. As a result of this sort of impropriety, most of the XLB's were leaking juice and some were completely devoid of juice. WTF!!! Seriously! Not impressed!

But we were in good company and we didn't want to kick up a fuss. Besides who knows what 'special ingredients' they might decide to use if we wanted replacement batches.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Capital Kitchen, Chadstone

Recently someone asked me if I liked Capital Kitchen and I found myself unable to give a precise answer. Whilst I found their cupcakes to be so cute and photogenic, I don't think I like the texture of the icing as much as I like looking at them. The cupcakes themselves are often moist which indicates that they are quite fresh. However as we both concluded that the extremely buttery texture of the icing is a bit of a turn off. There's something about it that doesn't seem quite right. Perhaps it's because we prefer our icing to be sweeter and less oily.

However we both agreed that their savoury offerings are fantastic. I especially like their salads and their breakfast offerings. The burger also looked like a decent bite, and N has eyed other people's chips on a number of occasions.

The place is large and it's very much self service. There doesn't even seem to be a manager running the show and things can get a bit chaotic, especially on the weekends. Be prepared to line up and DIY. The staff are generally young and lively, but sometimes I've found that they can also be a bit clueless and almost nonchalant.

Capital Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Siam Village, Pinewood

We don't usually try to seek out Thai food. But one night, we stumbled upon this little treasure. Since then, I've frequently craved their red duck curry and have had bouts of incurable longing for it. Sometimes when it gets really bad, I would N drive me there so that I can sneak bites of it in the car. Their tom yum soup is also very soothing and is N's favourite.

Siam Village on Urbanspoon

Samsara, Pinewood

Samsara is tucked away on the corner of Pinewood Shopping Centre. Two large and heavy wooden doors gives it a rather formidable look, and it looks rather out of place in this suburban shopping strip. Such grandeur seems to be more befitting for an eatery on Toorak Rd or Collins St.

Many times, I had wandered past and wondered how they were surviving. So one day, we came for a meal and it rather nice. A bit pricey, but with good food and quite filling portions. What really captured our attention was the banquet menu. N was not going to forget this one in a hurry. Sure enough, we came back recently to sample their banquet menu at a mere $58 pp.

By this stage we were already really really full. N went out for a ciggie break and ordered a latte in anticipation of dessert. To our utter astonishment, the waiter then told us that our mains would arrive soon. We nearly fell out of our seats.

This was so-so. Flavours were all there but the barley pearls were a little bit overdone and the chicken was a bit dry.

This I liked very much because it was juicy and tender and soaked up the jus rather nicely. The red capsicum accompanied it perfectly.

My favourites were the mahalabia, a kind of Lebanese custard and the dates stuffed with rose water flavoured double cream and pistachio nuts.

Samsara on Urbanspoon