Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Home-Made Chappatis & Curry Chicken

"Haih. I missed roti canai and teh tarik-la"

"Wah. The weather so cold now. If only Melbourne got mamak stall, that would be so syiok."

"So hard to make roti canai and tosai on my own.. Here got sell, but so expensive. Cannot eat out everyday and order as much as you like back in Malaysia".

"HAR! You know ar!! In KL, I can order maggi mee goreng, roti telur tambah bawang plus cheese naan only cost less than RM10. Got change somemore! Here order one mee goreng also A$7.90 (approx RM23) already. Eat no full some more. And then teh tarik (A$3 = approx RM 9) they ready made already. Terus pour from the large jug! No buih!! Sakit hati!!"

These are the common complaints you will often heard from Malaysian students in Australia. There would be a moment or two that these conversations will spark out - either with fellow home-sick Malaysian students or on MSN venting their displeasure to family members and friends back home.

Missing mamak food is one thing, but don't know how to make one is another. And even if you managed to find a place serving mamak food (ecstatic joy as if you have found gold treasure), the opening hours are just not right (closed before 10pm. Aisey!! Mamak is for supper what, close so early no point already) and the prices are expensive ($2 for roti canai, $8.90 for nasi lemak with the rice absolute no fragrance of pandan leaves whatsoever).

Eh, what about our fellow uni-mates from India? I mean what is it like for them to come to a foreign country with the national currency even weaker than Malaysia's? They grew up eating spicy curry with chapatis and rice in every meal!! Comparing with eating out in India and ordering Indian food served in Melbourne, there would be a huge difference after converting it to the strong Australian Dollars. Many Australians (or even we, Malaysians) would find that eating out in India would cost next to nothing.

Surely, for them, just like us Malaysian students, would feel that spending $2 on a roti or $3 on a chapatti or $8.90 for a chicken briyarni is much too dear. Even if you got the money and you never think twice paying $6.90 for Dan Dan Mian or $7.90 for Spicy Chicken on Rice, you would still feel somewhat reluctant on spending that much on a particular food when you know you can get the same thing back at home. Especially when back at your national country, it is so much cheaper that everyone can afford to order second or third servings or even pay for the whole table without second thoughts.

Last night at home, J received a call from his friend A, a student from Northern India. He need help in installing a speaker system in his car. Upon arrival, A and his housemate, V (also from India) were cooking dinner. J noticed that they were making chapattis and curry chicken. The smell was enticing. When they invited J to join them for dinner, he accepted it with much enthusiasm. J thought that it was simply marvellous for these bachelor students making their own chapattis and curries .. the sight came as a big surprise because he never thought that they are making such good food like these. He proclaimed that they put up quite a lot of effort in preparing their dinner. And they cook like this quite often!

And so, thanks to A and V's generous hospitality, J got the taste of his beloved country, Malaysia. It is such a wonder that all of them come from different continents of the world and yet share the fondness of the same simple, food. It all fits into the Muhibbah spirit doesn't it? =) Food does bring people together.. Selamat Hari Merdeka, you guys, wherever you are!

And now, to the pics *pics were taken with a phone so they aren't clear. Forgive me! J had not thought of bringing his camera with him.. He didn't know that he's about to have a great dinner!*

Fresh chapattis from the griddle with curry chicken

J had 4 of these wholesome pancakes

A & V - The gracious hosts from Northern India

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Spicy Chicken @ Dessert House, Chinatown & The Aftermath

Spicy Chicken with Rice $7.90
Deep-fried chicken ribs with salt and pepper

The chicken taste as scrummy as it looks. There were plenty of piping hot crispy deep-fried chicken ribs coated with salt, black pepper, garlic, onions and bell peppers - simple but yet very tasty. A rather popular in-house dish (evident from similar dishes on most tables).

As this is an eatery managed by Hong Kong people (please correct me if I am wrong here), I can understand why the food is saltier than what J and I are normally used to. When I was in Hong Kong with my family a few years ago, we noticed that many of the dishes were saltier than the ones served in Malaysia.

Also, when I dined out with my Hong Kong friends in Mlebourne, I noticed that some of them always drizzled a few rounds of soya sauce on their rice even though there's already some on it (as you can see on the pic above). And it never fails to amuse me to watch them do that. LOL

Black pepper reigns supreme

The dish does live up to its name (which is quite a rare occurence here), the liberal amount of cracked black pepper brings the fried chicken to an unprecedented ooopmh, J was glad there's cold water within reach. He walked out a happy customer with a full belly.

Alas! Within a couple of hours, J felt extremely thirsty - an indication of MSG overload. Even while gulping down water between each outburst of overbearing thirst - resulting in bloated belly due to gallons of water intake - the whole ordeal lasted through the night into the early hours next day. It was agonizing. He could hardly sleep that night. =(

Looks like this will be first and last time he would order this dish. On the other hand, Dessert House always serve value-for-money and tasty food, we will definitely be back again as we never encounter much problems with their food before - perhaps we could do well sticking to our old favourites. =)

Dessert House
Mid City Arcade, Chinatown
Melbourne CBD

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Man does Grocery Shopping & Sirloin Steak Recipe

What's Inside a Man's Grocery Bag?

Throughout the years of studying and living abroad in Australia, J is used to home-cooked food served up fresh and piping hot during lunch and dinner times. There was not one moment where he needs to ponder what ingredients to buy in the market, what to cook and whether there's sufficient nutritious value for the day.

And so, when J had to live alone for 2 months (me being in Malaysia for personal reasons), busy with stressful assignments and natural lack of motivation and interest to cook proper food, he will resort to eating outside or cooking simple food at home.

I will always have to remind him to get enough vegetables and fruits, but he, like most guys out there don't really care much for vitamins and fibre intake, they normally just gobbled up whatever's that looked and smelled good, and for those lads who have to look after oneself, it would be even better if there's less cooking and cleaning up afterwards.

And so, are you interested to see what's inside J's grocery bag while he needs to feed himself? His motto while shopping for food: Must be *senang* / easy to prepare.

All are best accompanied with cold beer

*Man's grub for 2 weeks
2 Mc Cain's frozen pizzas
6 Four & Twenty beef pies
2 packets of Penne
3 jars of Dolmio pasta sauces
4 packets of Arnott's Tasty Jacks
4 fresh beef sirloin steaks

*can lasts longer if cooking involves too much work and resorts to eating out

Oh well. At least there's tomatoes and bits of veges there. Bet you guys would imagine that J is a triple-chinned burly man with protruding belly after seeing the pic, but he's in fact a very lean and active young guy with blessed infinite metabolism. Such is the life of a lad in his early twenties who's used to ready home-cooked food and now has to resort to cook for oneself, eh? My poor darling, I'll be making sure that he'll eat hot rice with 3 dishes when I'm back!! He he.

Sirloin steaks for 2 (or for 1 very hungry man)

*danger: Meat overload ahead. May cause excessive drooling

J's working diligently on an assignment which is due the next day. All of a sudden, he felt hungry pangs. He had been ignoring the slight tummy rumblings earlier but now he's starving. No wonder, it's 7 pm and he had not eaten anything since morning. Feeling extremely hungry, he went to the kitchen to make himself sirloin steaks that he had bought in the supermarket yesterday. Easy, tasty and fuss-free!

4 pcs of 150-200g of beef sirloin steaks
4 tbsp of olive oil
salt and freshly cracked pepper

1. Rub olive oil generously all over the steaks
2. Crack salt and black pepper on steaks to taste
3. Cook for 4 minutes on each side for medium
4. Remove the steaks and place on serving plates
5. Leave to stand for 10 minutes to let juices in the steaks 'settle down' (this is to ensure that
the steaks stay juicy and to avoid juices running out when cut)

Place 2 steaks on a hot pan

Crack fresh black pepper on top

Turn around after 4 minutes on medium heat

Nearly done now

Leave to rest for 10 minutes


2 steaks done in 8 minutes for medium-cooked. However, after thinking that he would need to freeze the rest of the steaks (and when he wants to eat it in the future, he would need to let the steaks thaw in room temperature for few hours before he could cook them - as if he got time to plan his meals!!), J got put off and decided to cook the rest! All 4 steaks of it...

Juicy steaks ready to be devoured

Massive and yummy isn't it? The steaks are eaten with swigs of icy cold beer. If I was there, I would serve the steaks with potatoes and greens. But he couldn't really bothered with peeling potatoes and cutting broccoli. Haha. He reckons the steaks aren't as tender as the scotch fillets he had before, but still at least it made the hungry pangs go away.. In the end, he can't finish them, looks like the eyes can eat more than what your tummy can hold - and the dogs got to eat the leftovers.

Lucky them.

Thanks for the pics, dear!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Free lunch at CBD & Spicy Szechuan Noodles

Coca Cola Lunchbox - cute!

While walking around the city today, J noticed a small crowd in the middle of the street. He saw lots of people walking away carrying a small, bright red box. Bursting with curiosity, he joined the queue and received a red box too. It was in fact, a lunch box containing healthy munchies!!

OoO.. An unfamiliar design

Coca Cola Zero!!

Is it right to consider Coca-Cola Zero as a healthy drink? I mean, it contains zero sugar, so that means less carbs right? Of course, nothing's better than plain water. But ugh, I only like my water cold. I always prefer Diet Coke or Coca Cola Zero (for now, haha) to regular Coke anyway. Always. But restaurants in Malaysia hardly ever offer Diet Cokes anyway, I wonder why, surely there's a market for it? I mean I know that diet soft drinks are more expensive than regular soft drinks in Malaysia but surely one wouldn't mind paying extra few cents for it? I know I wouldn't..

I mean there are more people, especially ladies who are health-conscious nowadays. I'm not sure if I'm contradicting myself by saying diet soft-drinks are better than regular soft-drinks, but for a person like myself who likes sweet, bubbly, gassy drinks (such as Coca-Cola), and be able to enjoy them once a while without feeling guilty, I say let's serve more light soft-drinks in eateries!! Be it mamak stalls, trendy cafes or posh restaurants! Haha.

And no, this is not a paid review of Coca-Cola Zero, although I wish it is.

Pumpkin, egg mayo and salad wrap

J said that the salad wrap was pretty average, but that's because he's not a pumpkin-lover. Still, it's healthy and fresh, what's more the box could be re-used again, such as storing biscuits or sandwishes for pinics.. thus, for the conclusion: Nice!!

Spicy Szechuan Noodles at Red Silk

Here's yet another review of Red Silk Bar and Restaurant. Can you tell already that this is the ultimate favourite lunch spot for J (for those who have been reading the blog since the very beginning, which was just very recently)? He never gets tired of the food there, even when I tell him to try other eateries in the city because I (means the readers-lah) need more variety! SIGH. Wait till I come back to Melbourne next month, then there will be more food reviews on other eateries.. actually not so much also, maybe more towards my home-cooking, because I like to cook a lot. And eat a lot also. Another big SIGH.

I can understand him also, it was just like how I can never get tired of the nasi lemak stall at my primary and secondary school's canteen, even after eating there nearly everyday (sometimes 2-3 meals a day from the same nasi lemak stall (before class, during recess and after school lunch) for 11 frickin' years. And I still dream about her 'chilli masak kentang goreng' until today. Talking about loyalty man. Old habits die hard. Especially when it revolves around good food. Oh yeah~

Ok, let's get on to the food.

Spicy Szechuan Noodles with Vanilla Ice-cream and Red Beans Drink $7.90
Generous amounts of minced pork in spicy sauce on a bed of springy wanton noodles.


Doesn't the ice-cream looked luscious? The drink was very rich and creamy ... those with a sweet-tooth will definitely like this one! That is if you like red beans of course... I'm more of a 'pulut hitam - black glutinous rice' gal.


What makes this difference with Dan Dan Mian? The salty and sourish preserved pickles. Very appetizing and somewhat refreshing to the tastebuds..

Piles of springy egg noodles - Yummo

Very al-dente, the wanton noodles are of a good quality. Eaten with the saucy spicy pork together with the crunhiness of tangy preserved pickles, it was a wonderful lunch, quite different from the usual Dan Dan Mian and wanton mee with BBQ pork.

Are you bored of Red Silk reviews already? Sorry if you are, but (Oh no, not again!!) there will be more to come. Be patient with me yah? Haha. But for those who got some extra free time and there's nothing better to do, you could read my other reviews on Red Silk...

Seafood Tomyam Noodles
Combination Seafood Noodles

Red Silk Restaurant and Bar
101, 1st Fl 200 Bourke St,
Melbourne 3000
03-9663 9922

P.S.: For those who are really free, and wish to do something good today (haha) maybe you could spend some time helping me on this: I have problems with my photos in blogger. After uploading them straight from my computer, I always find that the pics are blurer than what they are supposed to be. I've tried minimizing the pics, but the pics still look bad. Very frustrating for me. Does anyone know why? What should I do? THANKS!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mix Skewers on Hot Stone @ Punt Hill Hotel, Essendon

Today, J was invited to have a dinner at Punthill Hotel in Essendon by his colleague. He had mix skewers on hot stone.

Pork, beef and chicken skewers with bread rolls and steamed vegetables

The raw skewers of different cuts of meat were placed on a very, very hot stone. It is quite a spectacle... soft pillows of smoke rises with mouth-watering aroma of sizzling meat.

It was very mesmerising and interesting to watch your meal cook in this method, quite similar with Korean BBQ but the difference is that you get to eat from your very own hot stone. It is a very special kinda feeling. Not for sharing, please.

J chose to leave the chunks of beef on its skewer and removed the bite-size pieces of pork and chicken meat to ensure even cooking for to avoid contracting health hazards, just to be on the safe side...

Ooo meat

The meat were marinated lightly with just salt and pepper to ensure that they are not overpowered by spices and sauces. No complains from J, he likes his steaks to be served that way too. He reckons that the beef skewer the best of the trio, juicy and tender. The pork was sadly a bit on the dry side. The morsels of chicken was tasty too but of course, nothing beats a good cut of beef. YUM!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Easy Home-Cooking: Beef Scotch Fillet Steak

I love Australian meat products. They are always fresh and very tasty. They're not as gamey as the ones in Malaysia. Whenever J or I feel extra carnivorous that day, we will just go to the supermarket nearby and grab some ready-cut steaks. My favourites are T-Bone and Lamb Chops. I love lamb chops!!

Also, it's very easy to prepare steaks - cooking time will vary according to how you want your meat done. Usually, I will cook them for 4 minutes on each side for medium.

Fresh steak on a hot pan

I usually cook the steaks one at a time, mainly to avoid over-crowding the pan for even heat distribution. Not much oil is needed, in fact I merely rubbed the steak with some olive oil and then placed in on the hot pan.

Turned to cook the other side

Sizzling steak.

When the cooking time is nearly over, crack some black pepper and salt on top. Leave it for 10 minutes to let the juices within settle down. If you are impatient and cut into your steak immediately after cooking, the juices will run all over the places and the steak will tend to be dry. Serve it with buttery boiled potatoes and asparagus. *Smacks lips*

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Seafood Tomyam Noodles @ Red Silk, Bourke St

It's back to Red Silk Restaurant & Bar again for their daily lunch specials (one main and a drink for $7.80). This time, J had cravings for seafood and something hot to warm the soul against the cold winter wind and so he chose seafood tom yam noodles. For the complimentary drink, he had red bean with ice-cream.

Seafood tom yam noodles & vanilla ice-cream on red bean beverage $7.80

The drink is very delicious, it could almost be a dessert on its own - sweet and soft, chewy red beans with cold vanilla ice-cream. Very tasty according to J!! I will try to make this at home next time, it seems very simple yet special in a way. Never thought of it, eh?

Red hot chilli alert

Pretty calamari & big prawns

According to J, the noodles are not tongue-numbingly spicy and it had a very nice sweet and sour flavour to it. Therefore, he reckons that people who aren't chilli-tolerated could enjoy this noodles comfortably without the huffy-puffy and sweats that comes with eating spicy food.


The seafood (prawns, calamaris and fish fillets) and fish cakes are abundant resulting in pleasure equal ratio with the aplenty vermicelli noodles. There were also some fresh tomatoes and baby sweet corns floating around the soup. Pretty good!

I am pretty confident that there will be more food reviews on Red Silk to come.. This is the 2nd review and this blog is barely a month old! Lol. J simply loves this place, for its free drinks and generous servings.

Read my 1st review of Red Silk:

Seafood Combination Noodles, Red Silk.

Red Silk Restaurant and Bar
101, 1st Fl 200 Bourke Street,
Melbourne 3000
03-9663 9922

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Tim Tam - Love them, Enjoy them, Want them or Hide them?

J went to the supermarket recently and immediately noticed the latest limited edition of Tim Tams Originals. Of course, he has to get the Love Potions, too.

I was intrigued by the phrases on the packaging and found these very interesting info on their website.

And so, I decided to do a Tim Tams test:

1. Love me

"The majority (52%) of Tim Tam lovers enjoy doing the Tim Tam Slam where the biscuit is used as a straw to drink coffee or port"

Verdict: Have not try that method before. So, no, I don't love you, Tim Tams. *but that's not fair because I really like to eat you!*

2. Enjoy Me

"50% of consumers choose to eat the last Tim Tam in the packet before anyone else does, while only 17% will share it with family or friends"

Verdict: I'm the 17%

3. Want Me

"64% of consumers eat their Tim Tam biscuits on the same day they buy them"

Verdict: YUP. On the other hand, we don't eat 'em all since we always buy in bulk when there's

4. Hide Me

"Many consumers go to extremes to hide their Tim Tam biscuits from others…inside the crisper draw in the refrigerator, the laundry basket, the freezer, the car, in a desk drawer, in the bedroom, and even in the safe!"

Verdict: Not me. Lol, who in the mighty world would keep chocolate biscuits in the safe?

Sigh. It seems that I fall in neither of the categories. What a slap on the face, and I thought I love them.

Now, which one are you?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Dessert House, Chinatown

Contrary to its name, regular customers frequent the restaurant not for desserts but for satisfyingly delicious Chinese meals.

Lemongrass Chicken on Rice $7.90

Yet another popular Chinese eatery in the heart of CBD, this restaurant is packed with young university Asian students - all the time.

Why? Really simple really.

That the food is good and cheap.

And that, is all that matters. =D

It is a norm for the waiters/waitresses to take away your unfinished drinks and meals if they think you have been there for a 'reasonably long time'. This is to accommodate new hungry customers who are queueing outside during busy lunch/dinner hours. Be prepared to gobble up your food and leave fast!

Pan-fried Lemongrass Thigh Fillet Chicken, Fried Egg and Shallots
with White Rice

The chicken is extremely juicy and tasty. It is well-marinated, fully infused with lemongrass flavour. Not only that, it is a rather generous piece of chicken fillet and there were plenty of white rice to go with it.

Absolutely delicious.

Crispy Fried Egg on Rice Drizzled with Soy Sauce

There's also a delightful complementary fried egg with the meal. It is just an added bonus, like chicken drumsticks in curry laksa. boiled eggs in curry puffs and omelette in nasi lemak. One do not expect it to come with the meal, but will accept most willingly and happily when served.

It is a great place to have your fix of comforting Chinese meal, but do keep in mind that you will need to finish your food quickly during busy hours.

Dessert House
Mid City Arcade, Chinatown
Melbourne CBD

Red Silk, Bourke Street

Red Silk Restaurant and Bar is J's favourite spot during lunch simply because of its affordable price yet big servings of food.

The menu mainly consists of Chinese one-dish meals (ie stir-fry on rice, stir-fry with noodles, etc) for easy decision-making and quick no-fuss tummy-filling for Asian students who are the main patrons here.

One day, after my class in the city, I came here with my friends for lunch. I wanted something with seafood and so Combination Seafood Noodles is the one to go.

Combination Seafood Noodles $8.90

As you would have noticed in the pictures, the noodles are a bit burnt on the edges giving it a slight bitterish and dry texture. Sauce would have save the noodles but alas, there are none to be seen.

Big red prawn

However, the combination seafood stir-fry is delicious. There are soft, juicy chicken tenderloins, calamaris, fish cakes, fresh prawns and plenty of bok-choys. Yummy!

* Note to Malaysians* Not only the steaks here are humungous, the Asian food served here are massive too. If you are a small eater, this plate of noodles could be split among two people and would satiate them satisfactorily.

Red Silk Restaurant and Bar
101, 1st Fl 200 Bourke Street Melbourne 3000
03 9663 9922