Archive for ‘Modern Asian’

March 11, 2011

Ms G’s

by minibites

Walk into the world of modern Asian fusion dishes and inspired cocktails. Ms G’s been on the block for quite some time now, with people spilling through the doors. Ms G’s has ulitised the space wonderfully with 4 levels of goodness. We’re stationed on the rope level decked out with hanging ropes of course, graffiti on the walls and amazing views overlooking into the cityscape.

Mini banh mi

The girls kick start the night with the infamous mini banh mi filled with chicken katsu or pork belly topped with a tangy yet slightly spicy sauce. Banh mi are Vietnamese baguettes filled with pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, coriander, soy sauce and meat slices. Simply ingenious to put pork belly in a baguette.

Grilled calamari, black pudding, coriander salsa verde

For shared mains, the night kicks off with good ol’ calamari, fancy style. It’s slightly grilled sitting on a creamy and flavoursome coriander salsa verde. On its own, it doesn’t work. But all together in one whopping bite, it does. I’ve never been a fan of black pudding, or otherwise known as blood sausage, as my palate never understood the strange texture, smell or flavour. I did try it though, just a little… teeny bite.

Braised pork belly “hue style”, konnyaku noodles, lemongrass, chilli broth

This was one of my favourite savoury dishes of the night. The fatty, tender pieces of pork belly are braised in a hue styled broth; both light and spicy. The best noodles are used to top it off, little knots of light konnyaku noodles; which are Japan’s super health noodles (low carb, low calories and high fibre!) and are made from the konnyaku potato. Delicious!

Stir fried rice noodles, grain fed beef, chilli, herbs, peanuts

Our final main is a little on the plainer and uninventive end, and sadly disappointing. The rice noodles are tossed together with some light sauces, herbs, peanuts and topped with slightly overcooked beef cubes.

Green Iced Tea, Ms G’s Famous Yuzu Slushee, Pina “Pearls” Colada

After a painstakingly long week, it didn’t take long before four little girls indulged in over half of the entire cocktail list. As my cocktail palate prefers fruity cocktails, my favourite of the night was the Green Tea cocktail served in the bubble tea cup with a mix of Zubrowka vodka, cloud & mist tea, grapefruit bitters, green apple and soda. The Polish vodka works here, it’s dry and has an unique fruity, fresh note.

On the sour end of cocktails, the Yuzu is a favourite; the limoncello (a Italian lemon liqueur) works well with the vodka, yuzu juice and orange bitters. The Aloe Vera and Choya Cobbler were also causing “mmms” and licking lips around the table.

Stoner’s Delight

A night out with the girls never ends without dessert. The Stoner’s Delight catches our eye and it’s a crazy (good) mess of banana ice cream, chocolate, crushed pretzels, peanut brittle, toasted marshmallows and chocolate rice bubbles cubes. It’s not a high class dessert, but it works, particularly with the Gen Y’s, bringing back memories of school fete days filled with peanut brittle pieces, rice bubble crackle filled patty cases and toasted marshmallows.

Ms G'sPandan Chiffon Cake

But the hero of the night is the pandan chiffon cake, which by this point, the combination of darkness and tipsyness equals blurry photo. Imagine a warm yet light and fluffy pandan chiffon cake sitting on a bed of sweet sago, all topped with a freezing cold scoop of coconut sorbet and finally garnished with sweet strawberries. Mmmmmm!

Get in early to kick back over bubble tea cocktails, banh mi and lipsmacking desserts.

Ms G’s
155 Victoria St
Potts Point, Sydney

Ms G's on Urbanspoon

February 8, 2011

Longrain Bar & Restaurant

by minibites

After the Taste of Sydney 2010, Longrain has always been on my bucket list of restaurants to go to. It’s another one of those restaurants with the no reservations rule, so timing is key! To avoid the lines, gear up to head over there at 6pm to grab a seat at the long wooden communal tables.

Push through the tall double entrance doors and enter into a wide open space with minimal decorations, wooden beams and simplicity. Walk to the left, it’s the bar which packs a very extensive cocktail menu enough to last the night, or walk to the right, and it’s the restaurant with the betal leaves and eggnet.

Prawn betel leaf

To kick off, heart shaped betal leaves topped with fresh prawns, peanuts, roasted coconut and ginger are packed to the punch with immense flavours. One of bite of crunchiness, sweetness, a little tang and nuttiness. A perfect entree.

Eggnet filled with pork prawns peanuts bean sprouts & sweet vinegar

Grilled angus beef rib with lemongrass & chili

For our mains, the eggnet and beef rib are shared. And portions are tremendously generous. Much like other modern asian cuisines, the eating theory behind Longain is that it’s made for sharing. The eggnet arrives and it is humongous. Impressively weaved, it encases plenty of beansprouts, pork, prawns and drizzled with a sweet vinegar, with a balance of sweet and sour.

The grilled angus beef rib rolls out shortly after, and we’re in awe at the size. We really didn’t expect the “rib” on the menu to be one singular rib. The beef is soft and tender with a little char and caramelisation. The slow cooked meat falls off the bone and the curry soup is a little spicy but just enough.

It’s a lovely place for a cocktail (or two) and a gigantic banquet feast.

Longrain Restaurant & Bar
85 Commonwealth St
Surry Hills, Sydney

Longrain Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

September 11, 2010

Gingerboy, Melbourne

by minibites

There’s something great about tapas-styled dinners and the concept of sharing food. Food really brings people together, and more and more Melbourian restaurants are embracing this. Gingerboy focuses on South East Asian “hawker” foods, meaning the foods may not look spectacularly stunning but are jam packed with spices and flavours. Greeted by a neon pink sign in the alleyway, we hide away in the corners of their upstairs bar filled with cushions, tapas and cocktails.

We indulge in their signature cocktails, a Pear to Remember, a nice refreshing cocktail with some fizz, but its polar opposite is the Thai Moon – a serious kick, tingle down your throat with explosions of chili and ginger. Not for the faint hearted.

So the chitter chatter begin and before we knew it, we were transported back downstairs to the restaurant. Walk into cosy room of bamboo lined walls, Asian influenced wallpaper, bright perspex chairs, oversized red hanging lanterns and  gorgeous pops of lights resembling as glowing stars in the sky.

Salt & pepper oysters with shredded iceberg, prik nam pla

Son in law eggs, chili jam and asian herbs

Bangalow pork belly, salted prawn and fennel salad, spicy oyster sauce

Within minutes of holding the menu, we throw our suggestions into the table and order! For starters, we dive into salt & pepper oysters, lightly battered and fried doused with a thai fish sauce, and an array of dumplings, with wagyu beef and scallop and smoked trout dumplings. Delicious, but unfortunately very small portions. By the time our shared main rolls out, we’re actually bursting at the seams, but there is always room for pork belly! Tender and juicy with a great crunchy salad of fennel on top.

The highlight dishes of the night are the son in law eggs, which are definitely a must have with any virgin visit to Gingerboy. I love eggs and when the waitress told us the method of eating these, I admit I was a little anxious. But I’ll leave this egg methodology as a surprise… My other hot favourite which we devoured without taking a photo is the coconut chicken salad with bursts of chili, mango, peanuts and beans. Great bursts of flavours and great companion to the dumplings. If you love Asian styled salads, this is a salad you should be friends with.

Pandanus poached pear with coconut tapioca, peanut praline

Gingerboy shared dessert platter

I don’t know where to begin with the dessert platter but think; sticky red date pudding severed with rhubarb, banana & palm sugar ice cream, a pandanus poached pear, orange & tonka bean splice, dark chocolate tofu cheesecake with chili cherry jelly and finishing off a steamed apple & vanilla buns with coconut custard.

Being greedy we had ordered the larger version of the pandanus poached pear, which turned out to be my favourite dessert – a light simple Asian influenced dessert with lots of tapioca and poached fruit. Another favourite that deserves an honorable mention is the dark chocolate tofu cheesecake with chili cherry jelly, an absolutely unusual description but there is something that kept me going back for seconds. It’s so textually intriguing and the flavours just somehow work…

Great atmosphere, informative staff but it is a bit on the pricer end, but if you’re after gourmet dumplings and Asian food with a twist, this is the place to go.

27-29 Crossley St

Gingerboy on Urbanspoon

June 1, 2010

LL Wine & Dine

by minibites

I’m so happy that I discovered this sooner than later. Hidden amongst the alleyways of Kings Cross, this restaurant bar has absolute potential, with a delicious collection of dishes, strong cocktails and a quirky interior. The restaurant captures the vibe of Hong Kong’s underground – and this space has been transformed from an once 1980s illegal casino, pornography dungeon and steel room.

From the outside, you can grab a drink in the skinny corridor-sized bar or wander inside past the pornographic wall, eccentric wall designs into a warm, Chinese influenced dining area.

Big trouble in little China

Unable to choose my cocktail, I quickly opt at the last minute for the Big trouble in little China, containing 42 below vodka, vanilla and pineapple shaken topped with fresh coriander. Surprisingly this becomes the favourite cocktail of the night and even though I’ve never had coriander in a cocktail before, it was a fantastic touch to this drink. Another recommendation would be the Red Dragon; a mixture of sweet and sour of coriander, raspberries pressed then shaken with chilli infused vodka, peach schannps and cranberry juice – unusual but hits the mark.

San choy bau of chicken

For entrees, we devour with LL’s twist on the san choy bau; instead of duck, there are pine nuts, chicken, lemongrass, mint, topped with spicy lemon dressing served in a large lettuce cup. A nice spicy kick start to the meal.

Black tea & star anise smoked duck breast pancakes

Next on the agenda are  DIY duck pancakes, served with traditional dipping soy bean sauce, cucumbers and spring onions. The duck pancakes are tender and cooked just perfect, with subtle hints of black tea and star anise flavours smoked through.

Beef eye fillet

More mains roll out on our miniscule table; beef eye fillet which are slow cooked and braised in house spices, served with chinese greens & baby carrots. Wonderfully tender meat that fell apart when served. The baby carrots also deserve a honorary mention, simple but blanched perfectly to maintain a soft yet crunchy touch.

A dish that I unfortunately forgot to capture due to the fact that I was too busy devouring and laughing the night away, is the chili & garlic crumbled soft shell crab served with wasabi mayonnaise – my favourite dish of the night. A definite must for those salt and pepper squid lovers who enjoy a great chili kick and more kapow from the wasabi dipping sauce.

Coconut cream, lychee and topioca panna cotta

Full to the brim, we share our dessert; the coconut, lychee and tapioca panna cotta, served with mango gelato and sugar pastry. Not your usual panna cotta but the flavours are refreshing and light, just perfect to top off our meal. It has a good jiggle but I was hoping for it to be a little more generous…

Great food and drinks with a fantastic atmosphere served by friendly and some pretty cute waiters too! Bookings are essential.

LL Wine & Dine
42 Llanklley Place
Kings Cross, Sydney

LL Wine & Dine on Urbanspoon

March 28, 2010

Seamstress, Melbourne

by minibites

The first time I hunted this hidden gem down, I was faced with big wooden doors – big wooden closed doors. Sad, hungry and disappointed, I made it my mission to return to see what all the fuss was about. Many of my colleagues have ranted and raved about this restaurant bar – the quirkiness of the interior, great service and new take on Asian cuisine. Step inside the world of great interiors – antique Singer sewing machines, hanging plants in test tubes and wonderfully draped light fabrics creating a tent-like atmosphere into the restaurant.

Amuze-bouche of a pork wonton served in duck broth

Greeted by our hostess, we order Asian beers and a range of dishes to share. Seamstress’ dining concept is similar to other Asian cultures where dishes are ordered to share – which made our token vegetarian very unlucky that night. Our amuze-bouche comes out and I’m delighted – simple and flavoursome, and it I want more! It’s a simple pork wonton served in a wonderful duck broth. I would have slurped the broth but that’s just unladylike…

Chalkboard special: Crispy quail served with five spice and lime

Tempura of zucchini flowers filled with baby button mushrooms, binnorie fetta and roast roma tomato sauce

The dishes begin to roll out and we begin with the special of the night, crispy quail with five spice. Teased as the “anti-quail woman” of the night, I caved into peer pressure and enjoyed the dish entirely. It may be as simple as a smear of different spices and salts but the quail was well cooked, boneless and balanced. The dash of acidity from the lime definitely topped it off.

Also not a fan of zucchini, I was hesitant to try the zucchini flowers. Surprising my mouth was a rush of textures and flavours; freshness and crunch from the zucchini, seasoned tempura coating and a melted mix of cheese and mushrooms. At this stage, I’m becoming a fan of everything that I never used to like.

Caramelised wild harvest scallops stuffed with “harm yee” on poached iceberg lettuce & saffron butter sauce

“Chinatown style” bbq duck with sweet pickled lemons on perfumed rice & choy sum

The next dishes roll out and we tuck into the seared scallops. Wonderfully large and seared, they’re a seafood treat. The duck is wonderfully tender but I do question its companions; the pickled lemons are a little unusual for me and the perfumed rice is slightly overcooked (to the point it becomes a mushy mess) but overall, I’m not too fussed.

12 hour braised berkshire pork belly, drunken potatoes, steamed baby bok choy and star anise caramel

Along with the five-spice quail, this is probably one of my favourite dishes. The care and love that has been put into cooking this dish shows by the taste. Wonderfully crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. The drunken potatoes are amazing; it feels like a kick and punch to my taste buds.

Rhubarb and marscapone filled pancakes, crumbed rhubarb candy topped with pistachio fairy floss and quince sorbet

Yin & Yang of valrhona chocolate with pina colada mousse, pineapple and saffron compote and coconut marshmellows

Bursting at the seams, we suck it in for desserts to share. The pancakes were a disappointment, not what I had imagined and components on the dish didn’t flow very well together. Although, the Ying & Yang delivered deliciousness. It was the perfect dessert to share, with an array of flavours from the bitterness of the chocolate, the airy-ness of the foam, slight sourness of the pineapple and the sweetness and crunchiness of the marshmellows. Definitely delivering a “ying-yang” dessert of flavours and textures.

Seamstress has done an amazing job at keeping Asian cuisine simple and clean but adding a nice modern touch of quirkiness. It has definitely reignited my grass roots and a love for Asian cuisine. Don’t forget to book, and to visit the Sweatshop for a drink, or two.

Level 1, 113 Lonsdale St

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