Showing posts from February, 2016

South-east Asia - At a Critical Junction

South east Asia in history has been an area rife in contention amongst the political powers of the day. For example, in the past they involved Hindu kingdoms, Arab missionary traders, colonial Euro powers, runaway local chieftains, Japanese imperialist armies and Americans fighting Communism.

Its strategic location and huge amounts of natural resources attract adventurers, migrants and entrepreneurs. Spices and herbs growing naturally here have changed eating habits and culinary practices around the world. There is a flurry of dialects, religious beliefs and languages spoken by its residents from various ethnic hues - and they live on a varied topographical landscape ranging from islands to riverine deltas and inland volcanoes.  Abundant forests, various resources from gems to petroleum and varying fishery stocks have supported its populations from time immemorial.   The peninsular extending below Thailand was strongly referred to as the "Golden Chersonese' in ancient texts.…

Penang Buddhist Association Revisited


Saigon Senses - Wollongong Central NSW

It was the interior deco that caught my eye as well.  There were far and few in between Asian food outlets in the Wollongong area when I first moved there many years ago, perhaps a few Indian and Indo-Chinese ones selling pan -Asian menus.   Now that the demographic diversity of the greater Sydney Basin is more reflected in gastronomic choices in this seaside town, I can now cite three recently opened places selling the pork roll ala Vietnam - the Quay Canteen at Crown Street Mall, the Bakery Boys at lower Crown Street and now Saigon Senses.

And yes, the belly pork roll which I had as takeaway at Saigon Senses is the clear winner - wholesomely generous, bursting with flavour and brimming with the garnish of pickled slices of crunchy veg.  Roast belly pork per Vietnamese recipe is closer to the Cantonese version than to those in Spain, Germany or Italy.  maybe it is the added spices for taste, perhaps it is the French effect with a baguette - make your choice as to multigrain, wholeme…

Blue River Chinese Restaurant - Woonona NSW

Long and short noodle soup still remains on the menu, with that iconic corn and crab meat version that is a staple in Western countries but which you don't see much in Asia itself.   I always had problems distinguishing between the terms long and short for noodles, for to me they are simply egg noodles and wantons.

For seafood, Blue River has fish, scallops, King Prawns and squid cooked with a combination of flavours like chilli, garlic, King Doo sauce, shallots, black pepper and more.

One of the popular dishes in south-east Asia for Chinese restaurants is steamed fresh fish, but alas this is not offered here.  Instead, deep fried fish fillets come with lemon or mushrooms or black bean sauce or snow peas and broccoli.   I do not find black pepper sauce goes with fish, but they also have that with lamb and beef.

Prices are reasonable and service for us that evening was rather on time, there was no mucking around in the kitchen.  Next time I must try their garlic infused chicken, …

The Eight Restaurant, Langham Auckland

I was tipped off about the modern interactive lunch experience at the in-house restaurant of the Langham in Auckland's Grafton precinct, especially its ala carte offerings.   Due to time scheduling and logistics one weekend, we could only try breakfast - but I was sufficiently impressed.

Omelette met my expectations, although the lady making this was not chatty and reserved towards customers.  My benchmark for breakfast omelettes are those made in Vietnam, fluffy, delightful, with many ingredients and full of flavour.   There is a usual  queue to the omelette making place but i did not notice this on that Saturday morning.

Dried fruits, cheese and other nibbles; waffles and pancakes; and the several choices of fresh morning juices made me happy.   The croissants and breads came from a good baker in practice, for I loved their brown colours and crispy textures.   Presentation was paramount; at times I thought i was at a corner of a village bakery, at others at a garden party's…

Viet Kitchen, Mount Eden - Auckland

A new player in Dominion Road's food scene offers a lilting menu and a variety of yummy Vietnamese dishes for take away or for an easy time out.  The Viet Kitchen has a modern decor, has a spacious interior and friendly staff.   My group was seated in an friendly and efficient manner and staff made sure to ask if everything was going all right with the food after we had started taken them. Young Kayley was captivated by the framed paintings and photos on the wall - and took time out to also check the bamboo plant with her Mum.  The restaurant is sited in an already existing hub of food outlets and not far from the Countdown supermarket in Mount Eden.

The egg noodles in soup are a must to try.  The day the four of us visited, with an infant in tow, the stringency, freshness and texture of the noodles stood out positively.  The other test for such a delicate and simple dish is the satisfaction the soup gives you on the palate - this one for dinner time was not over whelming, not sa…