Wednesday, April 27, 2011

MOS Burger, Sunnybank, QLD

MOS Burger has finally opened in Brisbane! It is the first MOS Burger store in Australia, which I thought was pretty amazing, considering most exciting store openings/first stores would trial the market in Sydney or Melbourne. I don’t think there’s ever a ‘good’ time to go to MOS Burger – every time I walk past it is always packed, with a ridiculously long line! But I finally took the plunge and lined up for my share of MOS Burgers – what exactly is the big fuss all about?!
Look at that line!!

We ordered five burgers to share between us. Mr. E ordered two, as the burgers were pretty small compared to McDonalds.

Pork Ginger MOS Rice Burger – I guess these are probably the most unique burgers that MOS has to offer. A rice burger made from ginger pork wedged between two rice ‘buns’. Pork was marinated nicely and packed with flavor. A friend of mine has tried this in Hong Kong, and apparently the rice buns are slightly browned to give a crunchy layer on the outside. This one was simply a soft rice bun but it was something different though, so still good. 
Pork Ginger MOS Rice Burger

Mr. E ordered this wagyu beef cheese burger with cheese. To be honest, I don’t think it tasted much like ‘wagyu’ but it was certainly very juicy and he seemed to enjoy it a lot. They are certainly generous with their veggies though. It was packed with caramelized onions, several slices of fresh tomato and lettuce. It would have been nicer if the cheese was actually melted, I think.
Wagyu Beef Cheese Burger

Wagyu beef burger. Not much different to the wagyu beef cheese burger above. It was still very juicy and quickly devoured by Mr. E.
Wagyu Beef Burger

We also ordered the Fish Burger. It looked almost the same as McDonalds’ Fillet o’fish, except this one had a tastier tartare sauce (and plenty of it!).
Fish Burger

I really wanted to try the seafood kakiage rice burger, but it’s currently unavailable, so I ordered the last non-beef option on the menu, which was the teriyaki chicken burger. This was actually done quite well, as the chicken was tender and flavoursome. The only thing I didn’t like about this burger was that it came with the chicken skin, which was still lined with chicken feathers?! :-( I really wasn’t happy about that, but didn’t bother to complain and simply picked the skin off and kept eating. I don’t think I will order this again after that experience…
Teriyaki Chicken Burger
Alright, just so you all don't think I'm exaggerating... Here is the proof... Tell me foodies, is this acceptable?!
A friend of mine recommended the soups. There were minestrone, mushroom soup and corn soup – and we ordered all three :-) My favorite was the corn soup as it was creamy but not over the top, and the corn was really sweet. Good alternative to a soft drink! The mushroom and minestrone soups were acceptable, but nothing to rave about. The chips were a huge let down though, which was a shame.
Top to bottom: Corn soup, Minestrone soup, Mushroom soup

The burgers at MOS Burger are quite tasty and the ingredients that they use are really fresh. Would I line up again for 30 minutes just to grab a quick bite to eat? Probably not. However, if you have the patience and don’t mind waiting, definitely worth checking out.

MOS Burger on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Universal, Darlinghurst, NSW

When honeyhype came to visit me in Sydney, I made sure I took her to some of the better restaurants Sydney had so offer. We had already made a booking at Hurricanes at Darling Harbour for dinner, but last minute changes left us without a booking and it was my job to find a replacement. I searched on Urbanspoon and came across Universal, which seemed appealing as it had really high ratings, but I had my reservations as I have found that these ratings aren’t always accurate. After doing a bit of research on the restaurant, I found out it was in fact owned by Christine Manfield, who had appeared on Season 2 of Master Chef. I had found another Master Chef-made famous restaurant! Luckily it was a week day and they managed to squeeze us in, even with our last minute booking.    
The décor was minimalistic yet elegance. The lighting was dimmed throughout the restaurant, giving a really lovely ambience and a rather relaxing, yet classy feel.

As we took our seats the waiter ran us through the menu, and explained the concept behind Christine’s dishes. They portions are quite small and the purpose was so we could order a few dishes to share between the two of us. He suggested we order four dishes to share, but we only ordered three, just to make sure we had enough room for dessert. 

Seeing scallops one of my favourite foods, I couldn’t go past the seared scallops on the menu. The seared scallops were cooked just the way I liked my scallops – golden brown colour on the outside with a soft and melting texture on the inside. The scallops were sweet and extremely fresh. I also loved how there were so many textures in this dish- the crispiness of the roasted lotus root, crunch from the tempura, finished off with the samphire and wasabi avocado which gave the dish a distinctive taste.  This was such an enjoyable little dish!
Seared sea scallop, asparagus tempura, lotus root, samphire and wasabi avocado 

The scallops were quickly devoured and soon came our pork belly dish. I picked this dish as I was curious about how they would make consommé from kimchi! But it turned out to be a very wise choice as the consommé tasted so clean and crisp with a hit of spiciness. The pork belly was so tender too, which was great. The pork belly was only lightly marinated but the consommé made up the savouriness which made it just right. The two balls next to the pork were in fact oysters wrapped in wombok to look like two dumplings.  
Fragrant pork and kimchi consommé,  oyster and chive dumplings, soy braised pork belly 

My eyes lit up when I saw ‘truffle’ on the menu, as it’s also another ingredient which I really enjoy. The presentation was not as nice as the previous two dishes, but the taste was just as good. The fish was firm and fresh (without the fishy taste!).   
Coorong yellow eye, black truffle potato galette, caramelised foie gras and spinach  

Dessert time! There were 6 desserts to choose from and they all sounded so delicious, that we had difficulty deciding on just one! We narrowed it down to three desserts, but the waiter gave us a hand and suggested two of the more popular ones to us. My goodness were we blown away!

First up, madame pompadour, which contained white peach curd, peach and rosé jelly, peach macarons, fromage blanc sherbet, fairy floss. We couldn’t help but stare at the dish in awe for a few seconds before we excitedly dug into this. The flavours were absolutely amazing. Peaches, roses, tangy sherbet, light, fluffy fairy floss, not to mention tiny peach flavoured macarons! This was such a complicated dessert and it was executed so very well. What a mind blowing dessert to say the least.
Madame pompadour - white peach curd, peach and rosé jelly, peach macarons, fromage blanc sherbet, fairy floss

  I’m not usually a fan of heavy caramel desserts as they can sometimes get too rich which is off putting. This dessert has definitely changed my mind about caramel/honeycomb for good. I think this is Christine’s interpretation of the Golden Gaytime ice-cream and she has done a really good job at capturing all the flavours from the ice-block Aussies have grown up with. The honeycomb ice-cream was sweet but not sickly, and I also loved the caramel parfait which was surrounded by a crunchy salted hazelnut caramel cylindrical shell.
    Gaytime goes nuts  - honeycomb ice cream, caramel parfait, chocolate crunch, salted hazelnut caramel

Just to prove how good the desserts were, we managed to eat both desserts and liked the plates clean (figure of speech!). They were probably the most amazing desserts I have had (excluding Vue De Monde).

Universal turned out to be a wonderful dining experience for both honeyhype and I. I would definitely recommend Universal to my friends who are visiting Sydney, or even locals who haven’t had the chance to try it! I look forward to visiting Universal again to try out the rest of their menu, not to mention the desserts!

Universal on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 21, 2011

MoVida Bar de Tapas, Melbourne, VIC

This was a last minute decision as we were unable to make a booking at Flowerdrum, but MoVida Bar de Tapas turned out to be a pretty good consolation prize in deed! The restaurant actually doesn't take phone bookings, but instead, you can walk in and wait for a table at the bar. If you want to get seated quickly, it's probably best if you come earlier as the restaurant got fairly busy soon after we sat down (we were there around 6:15pm).
MoVida Bar de Tapas - Business card ~ so funky!

How can we eat at a Spanish restaurant without firstly order a Sangria! This was made fresh in house and we had the option of ordering a 500ml jug. But we decided to order one glass each, just to try. Nice and refreshing and not too alcoholic.
Sangria (red)

We ordered several dishes to share. They were all delicious to say the least and it was so hard to pick a favourite. But I think the duck liver parfait won in the end; this is exactly my type of dish. The duck liver parfait was savoury with a strong, but pleasant duck liver taste. You really have to eat it with the pedro ximenez foam (which was sweet, with texture similar to tofu, but fluffier and without the soy bean taste) because the sweet and savoury tastes from the two things mixed together was just heavenly when it hits your taste buds. The brioche tasted like they were freshly toasted and so crispy. Yum!
Higado de pato - duck liver parfait with pedro ximenez foam and toasted brioche.

I always have to order the scallop dish on the menu, as I absolutely love these little babies, and when cooked well, they are just a delight to devour. MoVida has done this dish quite well. The scallops were nicely seared and the inside was still slightly opaque and just undercooked, which gave the scallops a lovely 'melt in your mouth' texture. Loved how it came with so much veggies too!
Essalada a Rusa Con Veira - pan seared Canadian scallops with Russian salad of carrots, potato, peas and piquillo pepper

More seafood- Monte Y Mar, which was a pork stuffed calamari with squid ink dressing. This was actually quite small, but enough to leave you feeling satisfied. The calamari was again cooked nicely (not one bit chewy at all) and the pork was seasoned with some herbs, giving it a distinct taste.
Monte Y Mar- pork stuffed calamari with squid ink dressing

Next came our pork dish - a slow cooked pork jowl (pork cheek!) with fennel and Borlotti beans. I actually only found out later that this was pork cheek so wasn't sure how the texture should have been like. But it was really soft, and kind of broke apart with we pushed our forks into the meat. I thought this could have been seasoned better though, as it tasted a bland for me.
Cerdo Con Habas - slow cooked pork jowl with fennel and Borlotti beans

I was drawn to the name of this dish more than anything - "Miguel" is such a sexy name (reminiscing back to my high school days when I would rush home to watch 'Passions' on TV Channel 10 at 3:30pm, haha!) so I had to order it. It turned out to be really nice! The chicken was mixed with what tasted like a creamy sauce with shallots and different spices. I really loved that crunch from the croutons and it was kind of cool eating it like a small sandwich. ha!
Pollo Escabache Al Miguel - spiced chicken escabache tapa on crisp crouton

Croqueta filled with Jamon and egg. Did you know Jamon is actually 'ham' in Spanish! So essentially it was a ham and egg croqueta. This was sooo delicious as it was nice and crispy on the outside, with the filling just oozing out of the croqueta as soon as we took a bite in this little gem. We should have ordered at least two for each person! Oh well, what a great excuse to come back again for more Tapas!
Croqueta- Fried silk croqueta flavoured with Jamon and egg

Time for dessert! I must say their dessert menu wasn't very extensive, but it had the main thing that I wanted to order...Churros! I was so sad to hear that our local Spanish deli had closed down and I had been craving some churros ever since. The churros were nice and crunchy with a tiny bit of sugar sprinkled on top. But surprisingly, it was the chocolate dipping soup that stood out the most! It was mildly sweet and had a thick, consistency - imagine a warm thick milo mousse? We almost drank the whole pot of it once we had finished dipping the churros. Mmmmm. You really have to try it to understand how unbelievably good this tastes. 
Churros with chocolate dipping soup

MoVida Bar de Tapas is definitely the place to go for some good quality, Spanish Tapas at a reasonable price. The place has a lovely casual feel to it and would be the perfect place to meet up with a few friends to catch up over a glass (or two!) of Sangria, along with some darn good tapas! This place is definitely worth a visit when you're in Melbourne!

MoVida Bar de Tapas on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Move over, Adriano Zumbo!

...Just kidding! BUT! Adam Liaw from Masterchef tried out my macarons and said he loved them!! I am over the moon.
" Adam Liaw: 
Thanks @ for the A+ macarons at my book signing today. The chocolate one was just about the PERFECT texture."

I have to admit that ever since I went to Sydney to try Adriano Zumbo's famed and delicious macarons, I have become slightly (ok, VERY) obsessed with these sweet delights and have been wanting to learn the art of making macarons. What gave me a further drive was visiting La Belle Miette in Melbourne and appreciating some of the ones they made. The shop has only been open for a few months and is already building a pretty good reputation among fellow foodie bloggers. The lady shop owner also claimed their macarons were 'the best in Australia, even better than Zumbo's!'. That, I would disagree. There's just something about Adriano Zumbo's macarons that make those tiny little gems stand out from the rest! But then again, it all boils down to personal preference :-) .Time for show and tell!

Adriano Zumbo - Patissier

Macarons! (L to R) Salted butter caramel, wasabi and pickled ginger, raspberry,maple syrup and pancake, salted butter caramel (again), pineapple and lime.
Adriano Zumbo Patisserie on Urbanspoon

La Belle Miette

(L to R) Pink grapefruit, macadamia and ginger, dark chocolate, salted caramel, olive oil, rose.
La Belle Miette on Urbanspoon

And attempts at making macarons as delicious as Adriano Zumbo and La Belle Miette... Ta daa!

Chocolate and pistachio

Lemon Tea!

The lemon tea macarons were a surprising hit with my friends and family. The macaron shell had a fragrant tea flavour with a tangy lemon cream wedged in between. Refreshing just like a cup of lemon tea :-)

Now that I'm on a roll making macarons I would love to make them in other yummy flavours! I don't suppose you guys, my readers, have any suggestions for flavours? If so, I would love to hear from you!

OMGGIMMENOW Queensland restaurants

(Thanks to honeyhype for helping with my photos)