Saturday, August 27, 2011

Petaling Street in Melbourne o_O

Yes, there is a Petaling Street in Melbourne. Only it's not really a street - it's a restaurant. o_O And they serve Malaysian hawker food (Petaling Street is actually a street in Kuala Lumpur).

Decided to check it out - it's been open for a few months and every time I walk past it, it is packed.

The interior is very typical of a working-class Malaysian restaurant. The wooden stools and tables packed closely together further enhances the buzz and rush of the place. It is quite well-ventilated, with a high ceiling, so you won't have to worry about your clothes and hair smelling like food when you leave the place. And as you walk in, you can see the kitchen staff at work preparing and dishing out the food.

Got the 'roti kosong' to start ($4.90). It was served with some curry on the side. The roti was nice and fluffy, and the curry was pretty yummy too.

Wasn't feeling like eating noodles so I ordered the Fish Fillets in Nyonya Sauce with Rice. I love rice - any kind except the soggy kind. The dish was really tasty. Not mind-blowing - nothing compares to real Malaysian food in Malaysia. But this stuff was pretty good by Melbournian standards. The sauce was tangy, just a little spicy, and a good balance of flavours. The deep fried fish fillets were nice and crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. For a dish that costs $10.90, I can't complain.

Suvrat ordered the Nasi Lemak Special with chicken curry ($10.50). Nasi lemak is an iconic Malaysian dish that I grew up eating. I used to have it practically every day when I was in school. I LOVE it! Especially the kind that comes wrapped up in a banana leaf and sold by the roadside :p The version at this place came served on a plate - no dramas. But the presentation was haphazard - not good.

The coconut rice serves as sort of the central core of the dish, around which various other elements are built. Fresh sliced cucumber, roasted peanuts, deep fried salted anchovies (ikan bilis), a half-boiled egg, and 'sambal ikan bilis' which is a sweet and spicy way of cooking the dried anchovies with chili, onions, ginger, garlic and shrimp paste. The sambal in a nasi lemak can either make or break the whole meal. This one also came served with some Malaysian-style chicken curry (chicken curry with coconut milk). Some places serve it with fried chicken, or other curries - beef, prawn, etc. It was however, missing the fried anchovies! *sharp intake of breath*

The reason why I love nasi lemak so much is because it really is the best blend of tastes and textures - the crunchy peanuts, the crisp and fresh cucumber, the softness of the egg, the salty fried anchovies, the sweet and spicy explosion of flavour that is the sambal, and that lovely coconut rice. Can I say again how much I love nasi lemak? While the sambal, chicken curry and coconut rice at this place were pretty good, I've definitely tasted better nasi lemak. In conclusion, I did not love this nasi lemak. But it was Suvrat's dish anyway - and he didn't complain too much about it.

We also ordered drinks - I ordered the Iced Bandung and Suvrat ordered the Iced 3 Layer Tea. The Iced Bandung is basically condensed milk and rose-flavoured syrup, diluted with some water. It was very sweet, maybe a bit too sweet. But I really like the combination of the creaminess from the condensed milk and the rose flavour from the syrup. Suvrat's drink consisted of a layer of milk tea, a layer of evaporation milk, and a layer of palm sugar syrup. He said it was good. I didn't try it, so I can't compare it to the other 3 layered teas I've tried.

I would definitely like to go back to this place to try some of their noodle-based dishes, when I'm in the mood for noodles. Items that caught my eye on the menu were the Dry Egg Noodles with Roast Chicken and the dry-version Wonton Noodle (egg noodles with wonton, vegetables and BBQ pork).`

All in all, Petaling Street seems to do Malaysian food justice. It may not serve amazing, knock-your-socks-off food, but if you ever do find yourself having a craving for some pretty good Malaysian food, this place should be able to satisfy it :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quick & Quiet - Aix Cafe Creperie Salon

Needing some Q&Q (quick & quiet) time last week, I decided to drop by Aix on Centre Place (near Degraves Street) for lunch.

Decided to be a bit of a pig and ordered a savoury crepe - field mushrooms, taleggio cheese, and spinach ($8); and a sweet one for dessert - good ol' lemon & sugar ($5).

The crepes are made so well here! Of course, once it's been folded up it's hard to appreciate the delicate thin crepe for what it really is. This place uses the same crepe batter for their sweet and savoury crepes - and I like it :) Most other creperies use buckwheat flour to make their savoury crepes (called galettes).

This savoury crepe is the one that I order EVERY time I eat at this place. Took me a few minutes to muster up the courage to whip out my phone (yes, I'm still using my phone to take photos) to photograph the crepes. I think I need to practice doing this with more confidence... But anyway, back to the crepe - I just can't seem to order any other crepe because this one is so well-balanced in terms of flavours and textures that I know I won't be disappointed :p The salty and gooey taleggio cheese, the crunchy spinach, the soft but firm field mushrooms. Oh man.

I was a little surprised when the lemon & sugar crepe came out - there was the crepe sitting in the plate, drenched in lemon juice!!! I was worried it would be too much lemon. This crepe also came topped with a generous amount of sugar. Yikes? Not! It all made sense as I dug into my crepe - the lemon juice was soaked up by the crepe, yet somehow the crepe managed to stay moist without getting soggy (amazing?!); and the sugar was definitely needed to balance out the acidity of the lemon juice. Together, it wasn't too sweet at all. Love.

And that meal took me 25 minutes! Not bad for a quick lunch, hey? And can I say that I absolutely love the cute little space that is the creperie! It is tiny - seats about 10 people inside, and maybe about 6 on the curb outside. But I nearly feel like I am in France again, sitting there having my crepe :p

They also make other things like lasagna using crepes as the pasta layers, and salads and sandwiches. I am yet to try them because I always go there for the crepes.

Aix Café Creperie Salon on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cupcake Central @ Melbourne Central

Melbourne Central recently opened it's new food court - it's a pretty cool food court. Large open spaces to sit and eat, albeit slightly too dimly lit in some parts for my liking. But all-in-all, I really like this new food court :)

Went there on a whim today with JWT and stumbled upon this new cupcake place!

Both of us had the lavender, lemon and honey 'baby cupcake'. It was very good! The cupcake itself had this lovely lavender scent. The texture of the cupcake was just right - not too dry, not too moist. The buttercream icing on top wasn't too sweet nor too heavy. The blend of flavours of the lavender, honey and lemon worked very well together. All in all, I am definitely going back at some point to try their other flavour combinations :)

Normal sized cupcakes are priced at $4 whilst the 'baby' cupcakes are $2.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My First Salad Experiment - healthy AND yummy :)

First post - a salad of leftovers and some new ingredients I bought on the way back from work.

It does not have a name - I really did dream it up... (With some inspiration from Ottolenghi in London - lurveee their salads!!)

Here's what I threw together (makes enough for 2 people - so multiply accordingly!)

  • Basmati rice, 1/2 cup
  • Baby salad mix - baby spinach, baby mesclun lettuce, baby beetroot, 60g coarsely chopped width-wise *
  • Wild rice, 30g
  • Roasted salted cashew nuts, 40g chopped coarsely **
  • 2-3 small chillies, de-seeded, de-veined and finely chopped
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 handfull of coriander (the leafy part), coarsely chopped
  • Lime juice, 1/2 lime ***
  • Toasted sesame oil - 2 tbsp ***
  • 250g firm tofu (cut into 1cm slices)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste (I used Murray River salt in this, but normal table salt is fine)
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  1. Cook the basmati rice and wild rice separately as indicated on the packets, leave to cool. (Note that wild rice takes longer to cook than basmati rice.)
  2. Shallow fry the tofu in the vegetable oil, over medium heat until golden brown on each side (about 4-5 minutes each side). Let it rest for about 15 minutes before cutting into roughly 1cm width cubes.
  3.  Toss the sliced garlic around in the leftover oil from frying the tofu for about 1 minute, till lightly browned.
  4. Toss together the rice, garlic, chili, cashew nuts, tofu, coriander and salad mix.
  5. Pour over the lime juice and sesame oil, and toss the mixture to coat it well.
  6. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  7. Devour!!

*     I cut the salad leaves into smaller strips so that they would mix well with the
**   I roasted the cashew nuts myself, just tossing them around in a pan (no oil)
      over low heat until they had that slightly charred look.
*** Adjust the amounts of lime juice and sesame oil to your taste.

Oh and FYI, the leftovers I used in this recipe were the salad mix that I had been using over the week in my sandwiches for lunch (for work), and the basmati rice I cooked a few days back for dinner.

Being the slow-poke I am, it took me about 40 minutes to 'whip this up' - anyone else who tries this will probably be quicker. I can tell you, it's definitely worth it! The carbs and tofu will keep you full for a while, and the whole recipe is just soooo healthy and super yummy :) Nom nom nom.

The dressing, which is basically just sesame oil and lime juice, is an amazing complement to the salad. Love it.

Possible variations could be to throw in toasted sesame seeds, replace the cashew nuts with almonds, use different salad leaves, or even throw in some sliced carrot! Maybe some finely diced shallots? Really, the sky is the limit here.

P.S. Apologies about the picture - took it on my phone, in pretty poor light. It does not do the salad justice. I will be purchasing a new camera soon - so expect better photos in the future! :)