Taco Bill & Rising Sun Hotel, South Melbourne

Hi everyone! My apologies for being so slack with my blogging. I have either not been cooking, or been eating out, or been invited to dinner at a friend's place, or just been cooking food I have already previously blogged about! To be honest, I got nothing right now too... hahahahahaaa but I just thought I should post some "food porn" in the mean time, to remind you that we foodies are always hungry no matter what. And just because I haven't been cooking anything new doesn't mean I have stopped eating (just in case any crazy person out there was wondering just that!)

TACO BILL - MEXICAN RESTAURANT

My workmates and I have recently had lunch at Taco Bill @ Clarendon Street, South Melbourne. It is a Mexican restaurant and serves excellent Mexican food.

This was the "La Combinacion" which pretty much has everything. Other than the taco and enchilada and rice and beans, I won't know what else else to call these things, lol. But they were all delicious!!

My personal favorite is the "Beef Enchilada Grande" - I just don't know how you can go wrong with plenty of cheese and the saucy flavors of Mexican!

For something slightly different - the Beef Fajitas are served on a sizzling hot plate with soft tacos and basic filling of lettuce and rice to go with the beef.

THE RISING SUN HOTEL, Eastern Rd @ South Melbourne

Just around the corner from our office is a pub / restaurant which we would opt to go to whenever we feel like having a "pub" meal.

The entrees were rather impressive - very nicely presented.

The Chicken Parma was quite a generous portion. But unfortunately my colleague had an undercooked parma... raw chicken is bad.. really bad. The restaurant offered to replace the chicken parma with a new one but by then he already ate 3/4 of it and was very full... and the restaurant is "not licensed" for takeaway... so he got given a "raincheck" so the next time he comes in, his meal will be free. Not bad.. but still, raw chicken - BAD!

The Rising Sun Hotel also prides themselves for their steaks. They have various cuts of the day displayed in the meat keeper. I opted for the Rib Eye Steak with Garlic Butter, medium rare. It was fulfilling, but I didn't really quite like the fact that the steak was sooooo charcoal from grilling that it left a really strong, overpowering charcoal taste. I would've preferred it if it was just the right amount of black / crunch on the outside.. and a lot softer, and more tender, and juicy on the inside. Unfortunately my Medium Rare sort of went to Medium. Unfortunate but still quite a delicious steak.

Classic Roast Chicken

Hooray it's Sunday again! It is so easy to let the days go by during the week. We get so consumed with our daily routines, and having a full-time job usually means we come home absolutely exhausted. So, the only day I really look forward to cooking a wholesome meal is on Sundays!

If you've been following my blog for a while, you probably would've noticed by now that I'm a big fan of a good roast for my special Sunday dinners. Tonight was no different.... :)


Ingredients:
1 whole free range chicken
3 chopped carrots
1 large onion, chopped
3 potatoes, diced
125g corn kernels
Salt and pepper
Basil herbs
Canola oil

Method:
  • In a large casserole dish, place the whole chicken and marinate it generously with salt, pepper, basil and canola oil.
  • Add the carrots, onions, potatoes, and corn kernels. Season lightly with salt and pepper and canola oil.
  • Place the casserole dish into a pre-heated oven at 175C fan forced. Cook for approximately 1 hour, until the inside of the chicken is cooked and juices run clear.

Kikkoman Asian Marinades... Magic Sauce!

In the past week, I have cooked two dishes using the same sauce: Kikkoman Sweet Chilli, Ginger and Soy Marinade and Sauce combined with Melted Butter. 

Rainbow Trout in Sweet Chilli, Ginger, Soy and Butter Sauce served with Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Vegetables.

The trout has literally been smothered with the sauce, and baked in the oven for 30 minutes at 180C fan-forced, fully wrapped up in foil. The result is this tender, "steamed-effect" fish and its meat was still slightly pink and it was just absolutely divine. Never overcook fish, it's meant to be enjoyed most when it's still moist and tender and so full of natural fish flavor! Yuummmmm... it was delicious!

Oven Baked Pork Spare Ribs in Sweet Chilli, Ginger, Soy and Butter Sauce served with Asian Sweet Mashed Potatoes and Stirfried Carrots and Beans with Dried Shrimp.

I've basically placed the ribs (also smothered in sauce) in a casserole dish and baked for approx. 30-40 minutes at 180C heat, uncovered. Leaving it uncovered allows the meat to burn just slightly to create that charcoal taste.

The secret to these dishes is the "Kikkoman Sweet Chilli, Ginger and Soy Marinade and Sauce". A really good substitute is the "Kikkoman Roasted Garlic Marinade and Sauce". Both sauces combined with melted butter (or water) creates a delicious sauce which goes with pretty much anything!

I just call them "Magic Sauce" :)

Beef Wonton Soup / Fried Wontons

I haven't been able to do a "proper" grocery shop for almost two weeks now, and as a consequence my pantry looked a little bit empty and choices for our meals were limited.

However, never underestimate how far 1kg of beef mince can go! This weekend, I cooked up a pot of Beef Wonton Soup (serves 4), two serves of Fried Wontons for entree, another two serves of wontons frozen for next time, and 4 serves of Gary Mehigan's Spicy Pasta and Meatballs (recipe here)!!


Wontons are great because they are reasonably easy to make, and you can make lots of them in batches and freeze them for easy access later. They are also extremely tasty!!


To make the filling, I've kept it reasonably simple and just seasoned the beef mince with sesame oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt and pepper. If you're up for some fancier flavors, freshly chopped coriander and finely chopped onions or water chestnuts.


You can purchase the wonton skins from Asian grocers for only $1 a packet. Each packet contains approx. 50 sheets so it's an awesome bargain! To fold the wontons, wet the edges with water, fold them over and press them together as triangles. Feel free to be more creative as you please with the folding!


To prepare the soup and create a delicious broth, I've used only chicken stock and ginger powder... yes that is all! Throw the wontons into the boiling pot of broth and cook for approx. 10-15 minutes until the wonton skins are soft and meat inside cooked. Serve hot and garnish with freshly chopped spring onions.


For fried wontons, heat oil for deep frying and deep fry prepared wontons for approx. 5 minutes until it turns brown. Simplicity rules!


Chinabar Signature Asian Buffet @ Burwood East

Restaurant Review
All photos from www.chinabarsignature.com

Last night, I've decided to gather some friends together for a "feasting" at Chinabar Signature Asian Buffet @ Burwood East, Melbourne. I've never been to this place before, but the photos from their website looked so good - and it seems such good value for money ($49 per person on weeknights) that I simply couldn't resist! I've already set my mind to it that I would have all the oysters, sashimi, crispy pork, roast duck and hainanese chicken as much as I could possibly devour. My favorites!!


When we first arrived, first impression was "WOW this place is HUGE!".


When we got inside, our second impression was "WOW this place is PACKED!!"

And then it was just food, food and more FOOD everywhere!! It felt like Christmas, our eyes were all shining with excitement. You can eat whatever you want, as much as you like to your very heart's content (before you start feeling sick because you realise you've actually eaten way too much). You pretty much have unlimited access to sushi, sashimi, seafood, Chinese roasts, Peking Duck, stirfries, main meals, dim sum, yum cha, and the desserts were amazing!

Selection of "Mains" collage:
Selection of "Dim Sum" collage:

Seafood:

Sushi Unlimited!

Desserts galore!

Check out the full menu here: http://www.chinabarsignature.com/menu/

I must also say, I was very impressed with the two things you don't normally get a buffet:
  1. GREAT SERVICE - surprisingly waiters / waitresses were very friendly, and very accommodating to make sure we have what we need. They also cleared our plates fairly quickly!
  2. AMAZING FOOD QUALITY - seriously, these chefs are no amateur chefs. The dishes served at the main section were traditional Chinese dishes you get at Chinese Banquet Restaurants, not the yucky regular Chinese takeaway places. The seafood selection was fresh, and the roast section were constantly being topped up... and the food was nice and HOT, unlike the usual soggy / cold food you would normally expect from a buffet. And the desserts... oh my, the desserts not only TASTED amazing, but also so well presented in lovely little cups like a wonderful work of art!
Overall, I was very impressed - and I look forward to going back there again, once my stomach settles of course. It will also officially be my new "tourist go-to place" for whenever I have friends / family visiting from Malaysia. I will definitely take everyone I know who's visiting Melbourne to Chinabar Signature Asian Buffet. Awesome stuff, well done to the restaurant staff and marketing for the superb pictures on the website.

Now, who wants to go have some amazing Asian Buffet in Melbourne? ;)
 

Sydney Part 2: WildFire Restaurant

Hello again everyone! I really hope you guys have enjoyed reading my previous blog post featuring Nu's Restaurant in Sydney. I've also had some really good comments on the pictures I took of the city at night. If you're curious, my camera is a Canon EOS 550D and I only got it about a month ago as you can read in this blog entry.

So, back to Sydney - I was up bright and early the next day and the view were still breathtaking. I just don't know how people who live in Sydney just get "immune" to how beautiful their city actually is.

This was the view from the front of the apartment.

The apartment has a nice pool / BBQ area. Too bad it was too cold to go for a swim, lol otherwise it would've been awesome to just swim in that pool and enjoy the view!

View of the sailboats at day time - I think I personally prefer my night shots from my previous blog post. There's something about the lights that make me go "oooooo..."

For the rest of the day, I spent most of my time in the office attending a company conference. After work, we went back to our apartment, freshened up, and then caught a ferry from McMahons Point to Circular Quay for dinner.

This is the Overseas Passenger Terminal @ Circular Quay West... The famous "Quay" restaurant from MasterChef is just 100m walk down from where this photo was taken.

This is where we were going to have dinner: WildFire Restaurant.

Not surprisingly, the restaurant was already full and buzzing with activity. How cool do the chandeliers look?!

And as you can see, the view of the Sydney Opera House from the window!

 The seafood bar... where everything looked amazingly fresh and inviting, but we weren't there for seafood.

We were more interested in these guys over here.. where they prepare woodfired meat and seafood dishes.

This was what we ended up ordering: Wood Fired Churrasco with a selection of tapas that have been created to compliment the variety of fire-roasted meats, poultry, homemade sausages and seafood.

To start of, of course we ordered some cocktails. Sorry I don't remember what was in any of these cocktails, lol.. but this one was call "Straight Up"

And this one's called "Surprise Me"

And I really had no idea what this was.. I literally told the waiter to bring me something nice.

To start off with, we had some sour dough.

And some flat bread.

And then we were served some prosciutto appetizer thing..

And some of us ordered some oysters...

And finally our platter of entrees and tapas have arrived! Don't they all look yummylicious?! On the far left is an open caesar salad, followed by crumbed bell peppers at the top, moving down to some grilled shrimp and I think the bottom one are some artichoke... I think. I might be wrong. I was too busy taking photos when the waiter explained what everything really was!

Here's the highlight of our night - when the MEAT really just started coming in all the time. We were just getting a constant serve of meat on a stick, it wasn't funny. These homemade sausages and chicken were so delicious!!

Our meat servers were all kind enough to pose for a photo. And like I said, they just kept coming and offering us MORE meat!!

We had all the meat you can ever name... chicken, beef, lamb, pork... and they were all cooked to perfection and so tender and beautifully marinated.

My plate just kept filling up until I could no longer eat or look at another piece of meat!

And yes, we also had seafood! Prawns!! I could eat the whole stick of prawns, lol.

And the swordfish wasn't too bad.. it was a bit salty, but that's how it's supposed to taste anyway. It was OK, but by then I was already very full!

Swordfish up close and personal.

Overall, I must admit the WildFire experience is different to what we had the night before. WildFire is exactly what you will get at say, Bluefire Grill @ The Docklands, Melbourne (which I have been to before) so it wasn't a new experience for me. For some other people on my table though, it was their first time so they were very impressed. I mean, we had all the meat we could eat! At the end of the day, it was good value for money - the service we had was spectacular, and it was a great venue to socialize with our team members.

Speaking of service, I must highlight a few things the staff at WildFire did for us which really impressed me and motivated our generous tip.
  1. One of our dinner guests has a food / digestion disease called "Celiac" which meant she had a whole list of things she could not eat. Our waiter was informed, and then he got someone else from the restaurant who seems to know exactly what the allergies are about and fully advised our dinner guest on what she can or cannot eat within the menu. It was really helpful!
  2. Another one of our guest is vegetarian, so obviously all the meat shown up in the menu doesn't appeal to him. Again, our waiter went into the kitchen, spoke to the chefs, and came out and presented some wonderful "custom" options just for our vegetarian guest. 
So well done to the team at WildFire for looking after us. Like I said, it was a different experience to Nu's the night before, so I can't really compare apples and oranges. Although I think I personally prefer our dining experience at Nu's only because of the burst of flavours that generally is offered by more exotic food options such as Thai.
Anyway, as we walked out of the restaurant, I took some more random shots.

I had a pretty close view of the amazing Sydney Opera House.

And again, just how beautiful the city looks at night!

Wildfire on Urbanspoon