Showing posts from April, 2011

Guan an Bau Truong Restaurant in Canley Heights, Sydney

An offering of fresh cut chillies, already soaked in vinegar marinade, with dashes of chili paste sitting in oil (image above) was a refreshing introduction to a Vietnamese experience.

The critical test of a stir fry is to have the aroma, garnered from a sufficiently heated wok, bring up all the flavours of ingredients, garnishings and noodles blend into a melting moment for our palate sensations. Penang island fried rice noodles (char koay teow in the Hokkien dialect) offers one such opportunity. Vietnamese cooking utilises much of clear glass noodles, and often I have had them cold stir mixed with seafood, but not stir fried. A visit to Bau Truong in the small but organised suburb of Canley Heights in Sydney's south-west made a revelation to me - a rather tasty outcome of the right wok heat, rightly textured glass noodles and flavoured by bits of pork slices and prawns (image below).

The restaurant is open throughout the day and is located along the main strip in Canley Heights. I…

SushiGoi at Coogee, Sydney

The Nishikigoi (goi fish) is a respected cultural symbol in Japan and most of east Asia of life, growth and plenty.

When Drew suggested having lunch at a restaurant with the namesake of the fish along Coogee Bay Road in Sydney's eastern suburbs, I was curious. It turned out to be a most satisfying experience for an easy afternoon - no fuss, smiling quick service, relaxed clients, fascinating decor (image above) - and I would return. This was a place so different from its competitors in Sydney's Chinatown and most of its so-called Asian suburbs.

The SushiGoi restaurant basically ran a train of food - the sushi kaiten concept - around a horseshoe layout - and apart from the main servings of bites rolling in front of you, you can also order sides from the menu and especially their udon. Amongst several things, we took in braised unagi; tuna and Tasmanian salmon with vinegar laden compacted rice; wagyu beef bites in marinade; crispy fried chicken Nippon-style; agedashi tofu (silky, …

What I Remind Myself

Peace of mind is rooted in affection and compassion.

When I had my house burned down, I gained an unobstructed view of the moonlit sky.

Drops of water, one by one, can fill a giant pot.

To overcome fear, use our motivation and imagination.

Great love and great achievement involves great risk.

Remain in the simplicity of the present moment.

My brain and heart are temples; my philosophy is kindness.

Tame your inner mind - and the outer enemy cannot harm you.

The trouble is that you think you have time.

Thoughts become words; words become behaviours; behaviours become
habits; habits become values; and values become destiny.

A single disappointment may instead herald the beginning of a fulfilling adventure.

Remember the principles that will help the hearth fires glow brighter.

True love rises above mere attachment.

Learn to be secretly happy within your heart in spite of whatever
circumstances. Our inherent personal happiness does not have to depend on others - only

You can…

St George-Illawarra Leagues Club

First opened in 1952, the St-George Leagues Club was first located at the corner of Rocky Point Road and the Princes Highway in southern Sydney. It was the second such club to obtain a liquor serving license in New South Wales. The expansion of the club name to include Illawarra, to reflect the combined NRL teams, marked a significant point in the history of the Dragons. Some mates and I recently on a late Friday night had the opportunity to visit this iconic base of NRL, especially for those from the Wollongong area and South Coast NSW.

Above, Dragons Great Billy Smith. Billy had a reputation for being tough in a challenging game, relying on his exceptional kicking and organising skills on the field and having a noted capability of challenging an opponent head-on. Smith had the honour of leading Australia and being named Man of the Match in a tournament match against Great Britain at Headingley in October 1970. Billy was also the winner of the Harry Sunderland Medal in 1967.

The walls …

Duck With Vermicelli Soup

Dong Ba, at 296 Chapel Road South in the suburb of Bankstown in the greater Sydney region, is an unassuming, down to earth cafe that reminds one of the hustle and bustle of old Saigon, but easily accessible when you are in the so-called Indo-Chinese quarter of Australia's largest metropolitan area. From Wollongong, it is a leisurely 45 minute drive and signals the start of what I refer to as the Asian foodie arc, that extends past Campsie, Marrickville and Eastwood.

The place is popular with on-the-run diners with thoughts on grocery shopping, but needing relief with a bowl of hot piping food, especially noodles in soup or served mixed dry. I had to try their duck breast cuts (above), which are served separately with garnishings of finely cut lettuce, onions, roasted peanuts and garlic oil relish - and you have the option of pouring them all on to the rich broth (below) or not. The broth hides delicately cooked fine white mung bean vermicelli, the texture of which goes well with th…

Another Breakfast at Balgownie

On weekend mornings, maybe we need a change from muesli, toast and the poached eggs. When the pace is more leisurely, mates can come over and get involved with a tropical themed meal that reminds me of memories of seaside bungalows, teenage camps and family outings. For the mains, the ingredients are simple - fresh prawns from South Australia, yellow Hokkien noodles, cherry tomatoes and sliced chicken breast. Have a dash of salt on the chicken bites. Get the wok going hot with some cooking oil, throw in some blended garlic and throw in the chicken first. When the wok gets going with aromatic sizzle, add the noodles and flavour them with some oyster flavoured sauce. The de-shelled prawns only need a quick stir to cook, so add them last. Tomatoes are garnishings when served. Add freshly ground pepper to taste before consuming.

Get your mates to prepare the stir-fried egg parcels - they are optional. (below)
What is mandatory, however, is the condiment of chili paste or sambal (below). When…

Mosman, Sydney - The Thai Paragon

A leisurely Saturday evening catch up with university classmates turned up as well to be
my latest adventure with Thai cuisine offered in Sydney. On a relatively warm autumn night, I had the opportunity - with mostly Caucasian diners at the Thai Paragon Restaurant - to reacquaint myself with some favourite dishes and tastes. Above, a fitting dessert of sticky rice pudding, accompanied by vanilla ice cream and bathed by raspberry sauce (foreground) and a selection of quintessential Thai fruits (jackfruit, pomegranate and the like) soaked in a light coconut milk mixture.

My recommendation for the evening (above) - the classic padthai, or stir-fried thin rice noodles with garnishings of fresh bean sprouts, small pieces of soya bean cakes, chicken bites and a flurry of sauces (sugary, savoury and salty) - all ready with an option of a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The Paragon version had an appetising wetness to this dish - not too dry and not too moist as well.

Between the soft shell crab …

Melbourne, Victoria

Melbourne, where there is retail therapy and choice of food relief after hours, especially on the much appreciated week night. Melbourne, named after a formal lordship, but where the streets are so easy to navigate. A city that has unassuming charm and delights in hidden corners. A place where you can dress up, or dress down. A conurbation where anyone can have a choice of gig, performing stage, bar or simple evening. Where rowers, runners, cyclists and walkers all seem to have been inspired by a thought or two - health and fun. Or adventure. Even simple city public perambulation and commuting offers a day long ticket, and then a further choice of tram, bus, train, river boats, bike or just strolling through enclaves, each with distinctive characteristics, which but when combined, make up the city as what it is.

Fine dining - with opportunities like Jacques Reymond in Prahran, Ezard along Flinders Lane and Vue De Monde along Little Collins Street - shines like gems in a hidden forest. …

Yarra Valley, Victoria - Chandon Estate

Above, the approach to Chandon Estate on an early autumn Sunday.

Above foreground, a preserved timber and metal contraption used in the estate location before it was managed by Moet-Hennessy.
Above, a background poster just recalls all those foot squashing pictures from European vineyard festivals, where lots of splattery mesh and juice result from the grapes being stomped upon by human feet. At the Chandon Estate, this is done by very well thought of and complied procedures and processes by human beings (aka employees) using the aid of a specialised tool.

Above, a view from the inside of the on-site restaurant, the Greenpoint Brasserie, which adjoins the vineyards and stroll gardens. Below, the welcome inside the immaculate and well designed showroom, which echoes French savvy, elegance and feel.

In the dark room, above, for riddling - or remuage in French - only after aging for up to three and a half years. Riddling is required to consolidate the lees, or sediment, for removal. The bott…

Penang - Hainanese Food

The island of Hainan, the largest in China and off its South China Sea coast, has been a source of emigration to Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia for most of the 20th century. Only recently, following China's re-emergence as a world player, have the reverse occurred - foreign tourists heading to Hainan's warmest tropical beaches and more in China. Underlying both social and population currents is the unmistakable role of its unique cuisine - light, aromatic and stimulating!

Hainanese immigrants to Malaysia and Singapore somehow found themselves as desired and specialist chefs to a variety of cohorts - the British ruling class, Straits Chinese families and business families who settled in the demographic soup mix of Malaya, in the era when it was part of the British Empire. In the 21st century, one of the Hainan influenced signature dishes, the chicken rice, continues to exert its socio-cultural influence on the streets, cafes and hotel resta…