Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dinner at KU-O Japanese Restaurant

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KU-O Japanese Restaurant
Shop 39B, Market Square, Corner Mains Rd and McCollough Street, Sunnybank

While others get ready for a break over Christmas and new years, I've been gearing up for the busiest time of the year for me. School holidays plus other dentists taking leave means I work a lot more hours than I'm used to. For the most part, the temporary nature of it keeps me reassured and sane but I still need to plant extra indulgences to balance out a heavier working schedule. Last Saturday night after a busy 6 day week of work, I convinced Marc to take me out for dinner. There's little in the way of life difficulties that can't be solved by food.

I tossed up a few options and ended up going with KU-O because I was surprised I never heard of it before. Online reviews sounded good and feedback from friends was also good so my enthusiasm grew. KU-O is located inside Market Square, next to Malaya Corner. I must have not been to Market Square for a long time because I haven't seen KU-O before and I also can't remember what used to be there.  The restaurant is quite small and narrow but I feel this adds to the authenticity. We got a table without a booking but I noticed some other tables were marked as reserved and I heard some people leaving their name and number on a waiting list for a seat. I guess we were lucky.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Dinner and Drinks at London Fields

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London Fields

In an effort to stay relevant and not fade away from the Brisbane dining scene, I figured I needed to visit more fresh and newly established venues. London Fields opened up not too long ago, ironically near where I used to live. Well, I no longer live there so it took a bit of a journey to get there but that's something we expect after moving out from the inner city ring. I had heard some positive feedback about London Fields and was curious to make my own assessment.

We visited last Friday night without a booking. There were a few functions going on (birthday? Christmas parties?) but we were able to find a spot to sit without dramas. I don't think there's too much in the way of actual dining tables but we scored a low tabletop with stools surrounding. For finger food this is fine but you would definitely want a proper table if you had something that required knife and fork.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Pho Bar for Lunch

My Pho Bar
6/19 Kooringal Drive, Jindalee

Familiarising ourselves with the new neighbourhood, I did a search on Zomato for nearby Vietnamese restaurants. It's hard not to miss being a 2min drive from Trang's in West End. A few expected results came up for Darra and Inala but I was intrigued by My Pho Bar which won by being closest to us.

We headed there just before 2pm on a weekday and as expected for such a suburban area, it was fairly quiet. I was quite impressed by the cleanliness of the place. A large mirror near the back of the restaurant fooled both me and Marc into thinking there was another room there. It was spotless! I couldn't see a single smudge mark.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Dinner at The Persian Restaurant

The Persian Restaurant

I was surfing through the interwebs looking for dinner inspiration when I came across The Persian Restaurant in Bardon. Vague memories from my past started stirring. I'm pretty sure I visited a restaurant called 'The Persian Restaurant' many, many years ago but that one was in Coorparoo. It might even be by the same people because I notice the website mentions they are 'now' located in Bardon. Presumably it had a previous location. I tried to search my own blog for any previous reviews but couldn't find anything.

In any case, new location means new things to write about. We made a booking for dinner last Friday night at 8pm. It was quite busy when we got there so we were glad to have a booking. The restaurant is nice to look at with a dark interior, generically 'ethinic' decor features and pretty fairy lights across the outside windows. The lighting inside is dimmed but not so much that my poor eyes couldn't read the menu (which is my idea for uncomfortably dark).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lunch at Goodness Gracious Cafe

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Goodness Gracious Cafe
250 Oxley Road, Graceville

The good thing about moving out west is that I finally get to try a lot of cafes and restaurants that have been sitting on my 'to visit' list but never bothered to go to because they were too far away. Now, I live in the 'far away' and whilst it's vastly inconvenient for anything in town, there are some notable gems in this part of Brissie.

One cafe that I'd been following on Instagram for aaaages is Goodness Gracious in Graceville. Jenny occasionally passes it on her drive and commented that it is always busy. The photos they posted looked amazing so I was keen to give it a try. Yesterday, Marc and I were both home with nothing to do so we headed there for lunch.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Peking Duck at Lucky Corner

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Lucky Corner Chinese Restaurant
1/660 Oxley Rd, Graceville

I feel like I've raved so much about Peking duck in recent times I could compose a passionate love ballad about it. Happily for me, food sister Jenny shares my enthusiasm so I don't have to worry about not having anyone to enjoy duck with. A friend of hers recommended Lucky Corner as the best Peking duck in Brisbane. It seemed like an obscure pick but in the name of research, we're always willing to taste test.

Lucky Corner is a small Chinese restaurant off Oxley Road in Corinda. There's easy street side parking but there's a bit of construction going on nearby so we accidentally drove past it. The menu is entirely in English which doesn't speak strongly about authenticity but I was happy to reserve judgement until after eating.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ole Fuego for a Spanish Tapas Feast

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Ole Fuego

Marc and I rarely go to the movies because I have the attention span of a goldfish and find it hard to sit still and not talk for close to 3 hours (aren't all movies these days just so LONG). However, we obtained some free tickets and when something is free, that changes things so despite my misgivings we made a date night out of it.

Indooroopilly shopping Centre is our new local shopping hub so that's where we headed for dinner and movies. It wasn't late night shopping night so the centre was fairly quiet but the dining strip along Station Rd still had some activity happening. We got a table at Ole Fuego and managed to get our order in before the kitchen closed.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pop Up Degustations by Prodigy Chef Cody McKavanagh

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Pop Up Degustations by Cody McKavanagh

I thought last Thursday night was just going to be another non-event pretending to be Friday night (but ending with disappointment). I was trawling through Facebook when a random message alert came up. A Sydney-based chef, Dre Kang alerted to me an incredibly special series of food events happening in Brisbane early 2016.

Chef Cody McKavanagh of Warwick upbringing (Queeeeeenslaaaanderrrrr) is not an average teenager. Rather than being proficient at sleeping in, late night Maccas runs and computer games like I was at that age, he has already trained at some of Australia's top restaurants including Quay, Aria and Rockpool. Most impressively (at least to me), he has done a stint under renowned fantasy chef Heston Blumenthal at Fat Duck, one of the most highly rated restaurants world wide. That's mighty impressive for a 19 year old.

Bao's Shanghai Restaurant for Dinner

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Bao's Shanghai Restaurant
Sunnypark Plaza, Sunnybank

It's a sad state of affairs for me as a food blogger when even my dad is more in touch with new restaurants than I am. He told me about a new Shanghainese restaurant opening up in Sunnybank and we were curious to check it out. We actually popped in on its second day of service and encountered chaos. Kitchen staff were unable to keep up with orders and patrons were being turned away because the owners were losing control of the situation. Dad and I managed to get a table but it was about an hour before we were fed. I thought about blogging Bao's based on that but I assumed (and hoped) that the service would improve once they found their feet and I didn't want to give an unfair report.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Red Lotus, Annerley for Dinner

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Red Lotus Vietnamese Chargrill, Annerley Location
3 Cracknell St, Annerley

Jenny mentioned to me in passing a restaurant near her called Red Lotus. It flashed up a feeling of reminiscence and when I searched the dregs of my tired and aging memory bank, I realised I had been to a restaurant called Red Lotus on one of my first dates with now-husband Marc. That was its Fortitude Valley location and it appears the same owners have also got a restaurant of same name at Annerley. In further Brisbane-is-a-small-city news, they are again the same owners behind Cafe O-Mai, which is located right next door to Red Lotus in Annerley.

It seemed fitting that I visit this Red Lotus with Marc. We're not sentimental people but we do enjoy a good feed so it's a case of any excuse will do really. I made a booking for a weekday night but whilst it was fairly busy, I'm pretty sure they could have squeezed two people in without a booking. I would recommend you book for a weekend or larger group though.

From the outset, Red Lotus doesn't look like your typical Vietnamese eatery. I described it to Jenny as a nice date spot because it's got lovely decor but is still reasonably relaxed. The menu is packed with detailed descriptions and photographs so even Vietnamese food novices will have some guidance as to what dishes to order.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Little Clive for Brunch

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Little Clive

It's been just over a month of living in the Western suburbs and my frequency of dining out has markedly decreased. I find it's too much of a hassle to drive into town where all the nice restaurants are so the only time we do manage to do that is when there's another errand to tag on so that it is geographically multiple birds with one stone.

Leading up to Halloween, I had some errands to run in the Annerley district so we coordinated one of those outings with a group brunch date at Little Clive. We arranged to meet at 11am on a Sunday, which is peak brunching time. I don't know if it was easy/difficult to get a table because Marc and I missed the exit onto Clive Street twice and ended up in the Gabba and had to do a giant loop. By the time we got to the cafe, our crew had already secured a table.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Easy Halloween Treats with Donut King

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Donut King Halloween Edition

It's that time of the year again! Growing up in Australia I was never big on Halloween but somehow this year, I'm really getting into the spooky festivities. We're even having a costume party on the Saturday so there's been a lot of thought and planning into decorations, outfits and a themed menu.

Coming up with scary Halloween-suitable foods is hard. If you look online there's a million adorable and perfect ideas that other people have created but try to do it yourself and it's likely that lots of ingredients, time and money later, you end up with a bit of a mess.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Brunch at The Duck's Nuts, Bundall

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The Duck's Nuts
Sorrento Shopping Village, 23 Bundall Road, Bundall

A couple of weeks ago, Marc and I found the perfect opportunity to head down to the Gold Coast. It was mixing business with pleasure but since the 'business' part was all to do with him, I went there purely to have a good time. My day started with breakfast at The Duck's Nuts, a cafe a friend recommended. After half an hour of coffee leisure time, Marc joined and ordered lunch. I'm averaging out our meals to be 'brunch'.

I haven't had much prior experience with Bundall. Geographically it's somewhere between Surfer's Paradise and Broadbeach but slightly more inland. The Duck's Nuts is located along the Bundall Road edge of Sorrento Shopping Village. It's small so you need to be looking for it. I quite liked the courtyard seating especially the tables that backed onto the street.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Falalalah for Lunch

193 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane

I was devastated, absolutely devastated when I saw Hong Depot being torn down. It was something of a West End icon to me and even before I became a local, I enjoyed delicious and filling Korean BBQ feasts at this corner establishment. Admittedly more recent trips have been less optimal (I count one case of severe food poisoning and many cases of overspending), I always have fond memories of the owner Alex Hong and when you put face to business, it's always a sad thing to see a venture go down.

Just before we left on our honeymoon, I spotted new signage being set up at the site of Hong Depot. It appeared to be predominantly staffed by Koreans so I entertained the idea that Mr Hong hadn't gone bust but instead had decided to reinvent himself and his restaurant. Of course that's quite a narrow-minded assumption because there do exist more than one Korean restauranteur in Brisbane and according to a friend of mine, this new establishment is run by someone else.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ponycat for Breakfast

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693 Brunswick Street, New Farm

I hit the ground running at work after our holidays finished and it was work, work, work for the first fortnight or so. Gradually things eased off a bit and I had myself some free days to rest and explore. On one of these occasions, I headed to New Farm for brunch. A long, long time ago (I'm talking years) I had tried to visit Ponycat with a friend but it was full and we didn't want to wait. That was on a weekend and we all know how competitive inner-city cafes can be for weekend brunch.

This time, I was there on a weekday and there wasn't any trouble getting a table at all. The cafe is small but I noticed a lot of the patrons ordering takeaway. I requested a soy latte upon seating and then started to peruse the menu.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

On the Silk Road (possibly) in Robertson Village

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On the Silk Road (or perhaps 'The Red Claw')
Shop 6, 17 Barrett Street, Robertson Village, Sunnybank

The heading of this post sounds appropriately confused because I genuinely don't know what the restaurant is called. Zomato has a listing for it as 'On the Silk Road', which is still displayed on the exterior of the restaurant but there's also a huge sign claiming 'The Red Claw'. That, plus numerous cartoon crayfish painted on the walls inside make me think there's a shift in restaurant specialty and namesake that hasn't been 100% completed.

Whatever the case, I hate having unblogged experiences so right or wrong I'm going to cover our dinner here. Marc and I underwent the most hectic couple of months in our lives. As well as getting married and honeymooning (considered the 'good part') we rented out our unit, were rendered temporarily homeless and had to find a new place to live quick stat. Moving house is probably the worst thing I could ever wish upon anyone, especially when the place they're moving into is just a so so temporary abode with no new house appeal that would otherwise be the light at the end of the tunnel. Even worst is when you have no time off work, have all your belongings and furniture stored away in sealed boxes across 2 different locations and happen to be a hoarder of useless crap. I felt like the move was never going to end. Thankfully we did it and are now somewhat settled in to our new residence in the Western suburbs of Brisbane.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Rare Pear for Brunch

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The Rare Pear

As much as I loved eating local specialties throughout China, by the end of our trip I was desperately craving "western food". Almost as soon as we landed, I scheduled a brunch outing with Jenny.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Made in China Restaurant at Beijing Grand Hyatt

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Made in China Restaurant

I have often considered Peking duck to be my death row meal (it changes at times but usually bounces back to this) but I am picky. In Australia, even a half arsed Peking duck gets my mouth watering because any roast duck is better than no roast duck. In China, I've tasted a spectrum between "awesomely authentic" and "wannabe" and the difference is huge. Knowing how good it can potentially be, I feel like it's a huge missed opportunity to get anything less than perfection when ordering roast duck in China.

Needless to say, in Beijing the expectations were even higher. As a food blogger, it often surprises people to hear that when I go traveling, I don't research restaurants I want to try. The reason is that as much as I love food, the stress of finding addresses in unfamiliar cities and having to get there by a certain time is just not worth the trouble for me. I also think great overseas food experiences can be had by simply trying their street food or casual eateries.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tibet and China 8 - Beijing

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I felt almost ashamed to be a Chinese born who visited China almost every year but had never been to Beijing or seen the Great Wall. This was all amended at this holiday and it was well worth the wait.

Summer palace

We were driven to a section of the Great Wall that was about 2hrs from Beijing. As a result, it wasn't too crowded and we had a great time exploring. I did not expect the Great Wall to be so hilly but it was. What a work out!

Tibet and China 7 - Xi'An

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I wasn't really looking forward to our stay in Xi'An because at other parts of our trip I found all the historical and cultural sites to be the most boring. Generally when I'm traveling I'm most enamored with natural sites. My attention span is too finicky for learning new things.

Tibet and China 6 - Chongqing and Yangtze Cruise

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Chongqing and Yangtze River Cruise 

Even though we didn't directly enter Sichuan Province, we had more than a small taste of Sichuan cuisine. It's a very popular style of food within China and globally and as fans of spicy flavours, Marc and I found ourselves gravitating towards Sichuan restaurants quite often.

Hot pot buffet

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tibet and China 5 - Guilin and Yangshuo

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Guilin and Yangshuo

Elephant trunk hill, the landmark of Guilin

By this point of the trip we were bouncing from amazing scenic location to amazing scenic location. Guilin has to be The Highlight of our entire holiday for me.

The scenery along the Li River and what we were immersed in bike riding around Yangshuo was nothing short of breathtaking. Everywhere we looked was right out of a Chinese painting.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Tibet and China 4 - Kunming

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Our last stop in Yunnan Province was its capital, Kunming. This city is a giant melting pot of various ethnic minorities and mainstream Chinese culture. Our stay in Kunming was short but I really enjoyed it.

The main site we visited was the stone forest. This all-natural spread of rock formations was unreal. We climbed to a high vantage point and spotted artsy rock shards as far as the eye could see. It was like being dropped into a life sized bonsai-style mountain range.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Tibet and China 3 - Lijiang

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Our next stop in the Yunnan Province ended up being one of my favourite throughout our entire holiday. My ideal kind of holiday location involves stunning natural scenery, sunshine and delicious food. Lijiang ticked all of the above.

Lijiang in Chinese means "beautiful river" and refers to the Yangtze River which runs through it. Aside from sites like the Tiger Leaping Gorge (we saw it from the Shangrila side, not the Lijiang side) and the first bend of the Yangtze River, Lijiang has some amazing mountains and lakes.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tibet and China 2 - Shangrila

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Shangrila County

Going into this trip, we didn't know much about Shangrila. Isn't it a fictional location? Wiki tells me that Shangrila County in China used to be called Zhongdian but was renamed in 2001 after the land from James Hilton's novel 'Lost Horizon' to promote tourism.

Songzanlin Monestary

It was originally mapped as part of Tibet but was reallocated as part of Yunnan province, again to increase tourism. The point being that visitors to Shangrila could go on a basic Chinese visa and not have to apply for the pesky Tibet permit.

Tibet and China 1 - Lhasa

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I can't explain why, nor do I recall a reason for this but I've wanted to go to Tibet ever since I was a young child. I think the root of this desire is something as simple as looking at a postcard of the Potala Palace and thinking "this is the most stunning building I've seen in my entire life. I must visit in person!"

View out of our car on the ride to Lhasa from the airport

This last holiday, I finally got the opportunity to head to Lhasa. Tibet is one of those places we feel is important to visit while we're young and fit because the altitude can be an issue. We had been planning to travel around China as part of our honeymoon and geographically, it made sense to tag Tibet on to the trip. It's not very straight forward obtaining a permit to enter Tibet but thanks to our travel agency everything was sorted in time.