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Archive for June, 2008

Waaaahooooo @ Waqu

As we live not too far apart, Nelson, Nathan and I would usually catch up at Sideway Deli Cafe, which has been my neighbourly favoured cafe, talking about what we’ve been up to over a few glasses of latte and yummy lunch food they serve.

On Saturday night, we booked a table at Waqu in Crows Nest, mainly because I’ve wanted to find out why I haven’t heard many people – including my Japanese foodie friends – saying much about this place. And HERE’S WHY.

Let me cut to the point. Overall, I think they serve average value meal for $49 for 5 dishes. But that’s it. Nothing really impressive about it and the place left me with not much to remember of afterward.

Starter – Amuse Bouche

I wanted them to amuse me a bit more. Deep-fried soft shell crab Taco was tasty and I loved it, but I couldn’t help thinking “Wait, I’ve had exactly the same thing at Rise before, haven’t I?” and chilled carrot soup (just like a gazpacho) served in a shot glass was definitely no-no to me. It tasted like a failure – carroty green and fishy with caviar. Cha-soba (Buckwheat & green tea powder noodle) itself could have been better served without that ginger sauce thicken with potato starch – I think Soba wouldn’t go with anything thicker than Soba dipping sauce or vinaigrette kind of dressing… (just a thought as a Japanese ;p ) I’d be happier if they had served two tacos or warm ordinary carrot soup instead. ;p

Entrée
For Entrée, you get to choose one from 3 options:
a) Ocean Trout Tartare
b) Scallop and Tofu Galette
c) Kurobuta (black pork) Pork belly fillo

Nate chose the ocean trout tartare.

Nelson went for Scallop & tofu galette

and I chose what they didn’t pick – Kurobuta pork belly fillo

Nelson’s Scallop galette was quite good – very tasty and full of scallop flavour. On their menu on their web site it actually says it’s served with anchovy butter sauce, but it was more like a seafood broth though. Nathan’s tartare was, I thought, a bit too much as an entrée dish for one. Although Ume sauce (sour plum sauce) tasted good by itself, I didn’t think it goes well with the main tartare sauce. My pork belly fillo – well, it tasted good but it was what I’d say “Oh that was pork belly?” You wouldn’t think it was pork belly until you read the menu again. (if so, then, might as well use ordinary part and make it unknowingly less fatty?)

Sushi – the third course
I totally forgot to take a picture of it. It was very average sushi-train grade.

Main
Again for the main, you get to choose one of three mains:
a) Beef tenderloin stake with Japanese style risotto served with garlic salted veggies.
b) Saikyo marinated Cod with grilled eggplant.
c) Asian spiced spatchcook with zucchini, tomato and potato gratin

Nathan picked the Saikyo marinated Cod

Nelson picked the beef tenderloin stake.

And again I chose what’s left – Asian spiced spatchcook.

Nathan’s cod – was to me very tasty. Saikyo (西京) is supposed to mean “Saikyou zuke (西京漬け)” which is one of traditional Japanese cooking methods to usually marinate fish in Saikyo Miso. Saikyo miso contains more fermented rice than ordinary miso and adds distinguish Sake-like flavour to it. But even for Japanese people, this is always hit or miss. I liked it, but not sure if Nathan enjoyed it.

Nelson’s stake – it was such a small serving and I didn’t ask for a bite LOL I wonder more about what they call “Japanese style risotto.” – what was so Japanese about it?? Bonito Dashi stock was used instead of other soup stock to cook it?

My spatchcook was actually quite tasty and good, very tender and I liked it. But again, I wasn’t too sure what was so Asian about spicing. I didn’t particularly taste anything asian in it. nicely flavoured though.

Desert
You get to choose either Chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream or Sweet Sake cream caramel.


Personally I found the sweet Sake creme caramel (Sake Creme Brulée) really good, and damn I should’ve had that. Chocolate cake was something I can definitely make by my own.

So there you go.
Now I know why I don’t hear much about this place. It’s a very OKAY place – you would leave the restaurant with neither “Hey that was great!” nor “Damn that was awful.” I’m sure that I’d be just like my friends – “Ah yeah, I’ve been there once. It was okay. (end of the topic)”

Considering what we had for $49 for 5 dishes, we are most likely to get slightly more exciting fusion experience at Rise for 7 course degustation for $60. ($42 on Tue/Wed/Sun) (Although it’s been said – and I myself confirmed – that the quality of food @ Rise has been slightly diminished due to the change of chef/owner.)

And we left the restaurant and headed back home………. NOT.
We ain’t satisfied with the amount of food we had. With our yet hungry stomaches, we headed down to Chinatown for KFC. (Korean Fried Chicken, of course.) We started eating straight away upon arrival of our food, so enjoy the picture of violently eaten crispy fried chicken. *lick*

GAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Maybe Bill Gates isn’t as bad as everyone says.
Read the Bill Gates’ email sent to internal people @ microsoft 5 years ago. He was talking about XP perhaps? Imagine how he must feel about Vista now… brr.

Yas is lovin’ Take me Take me
Take me Take me – Perfume

Breakfast @ Yas'

Isn’t it exciting to stay home all day waiting for a cable guy who would never show up even between the time frame they promised? On top of that I was also expecting an important package delivery that might come in any time. I was totally stuck in my room and this waiting turned out to be DIY prison.

While confining myself in an endless waiting game in my own comfortable prison, I decided to have a long breakfast.

Have you had Japanese style pancake? It’s pretty much the same as ordinary pancakes but only fluffier and a bit more of vanilla to it. and this is one of the dishes that I can make almost perfectly every time. It’s only a pancake, but try make one yourself. It’s quite hard to make evenly golden brown pancake!




Served with maple syrup and butter and banana soy milk shake.
You can find & use Japanese pancake mix (Hotcake mix) but it’s pretty easy to make the same taste. (don’t get confused with “Okonomiyaki mix” which is usually labeled as Japanese pancake mix.)

Fluffy Japanese style Pancake (4 pancake slices)
200g self-raising flour
1 egg
4 table spoons of sugar
1 tea spoons of salt
2 tea spoons of baking powder
2 tea spoons of vanilla extract (or substitute with 1/2 tea spoon vanilla essence)
2 table spoons melted butter
1 table spoon of mayonnaise
(I know, weird, right? Vinegar helps batter to fluff! and it’s made of egg and oil anyway.)
150ml milk – better be whole milk. If you want to substitute with fat-free or even soy, don’t bother making this in the first place.

Anyone up for breakfast? no?

Flash Mob Sydney

It’s not a good thing to cancel a meeting for a health reason and be captured by ABC coverage. ;p
It was held at two locations – Pitt st mall and Martin Place, which apparently looked too “Something is about to happen” like. I had never seen that many people at neither of these locations, and I’ve got to say it was too obvious.


Flash Mob in Sydney! from hungry.digital.elf on Vimeo.

Watch the full story on ABC.

After this event, we headed to North Sydney for a bowl of ramen noodle at Ryotei, then off to Tokyo mart to do some Japanese grocery shopping. I also bought a fillet of ocean trout and some fresh veggies and fruits for dinner.



Pan-fried Ocean Trout on garlic sautéed zucchini with Shimeji stir-fly.
I’m on “Two veggies minimum per dish every meal” mission.

Installing a clean Windows Vista

Due to my work, I often need to use both Macintosh and PC. Though I own both hardware, it’s really a pain in the ass to switch back and forth. After MacOSX 10.5 release, I have installed Windows XP with BootCamp which has been tremendously working great, but you still have to boot every time you need to use it.

Two major virtual machine softwares are available for Mac to install and use different operation systems at the same time – VMWare Fusion and Paralles Desktop 3.0 for Mac. I’ve previously tried Parallels as its development had been a bit ahead of VMware – but at the time it wasn’t quite ready yet. Now with version 3, it seems like it’s been seamlessly integrated with Mac’s native features like Exposé etc. As my need to debug on both PC and Mac for Adobe AIR increased, I decided to install Windows Vista with the virtual machine software. But which one is better….? (seems like this has been a major question for Mac users out there)

OK, so I installed both VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop for Mac on my machine to see which one would suit my need better. I have, iMac 24inch Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4Ghz, 4GB Memory, 350GB HDD and external 27inch LCD, and this review is totally based on my specific hardware configuration, just FYI.

VMware
Pros
I found this to be quite zippy – although starting up the virtual machine (just like turning on the power) took a bit longer than I’d expected. Installation of Vista was breeze and quick – and will automatically set up your Windows account during the installation. So once the install was done, you are ready to log in straight away. VMWare the only virtual machine software to enable 2 processors performance. – although there aren’t too many applications that can take advantage of it. what a shame. At first start up, I didn’t get any sounds and system tells me that audio device was not found. However, after installing VMWare Tool, it fixed the problem and now beautifully working. (I think this installation of VMWare tool should be done automatically after OS installation though…)

Cons
Lack of configurable items compared with Parallels. You pretty much get basic preference items such as Memory allocation, shared folder, network sharing. As I didn’t get video memory allocation setting, VMWare only works in one of your display. You can still switch between the monitors when you are in single window mode, but not full screen nor unity mode. This is ouch for me.

Performance wise, it works really nicely and doesn’t hog up memory as much.

Parallels for Mac
Pros
You get to configure the virtual machine as you like – from memory allocation to video, USB, network, file associations, etc. I certainly love the smartSelect feature – which allows you to configure which file type should be opened with. Probably just like alot of people say “Hey that can be done on both PC and Mac already” I thought the same. SmartSelect actually sets up which machine (Native OS or Virtual Machine) to open the file. For example, if you prefer not to open PDF files on the virtual machine, you can configure the file type to be opened on Native OS side – launches Adobe Reader on Mac. Or clicking on links – such as URLs and email address on the virtual machine – can launch a new browser or email window on mac side. This is very nice.

Also, you can specify video memory allocation with Parallels, in Coherence mode you can freely go between two monitors. This is a great feature.

Cons
For some reason, my Vista failed to playback WMV files (just ordinary wmv11 codec.). And I haven’t figured out what exactly wrong with it… Performance wise, it seems a bit slow compared with VMware. but this is just slightly slow, not unbearable at all.
Unlike VMWare, Parallels installs and sets up your virtual machine just like your native OS. (Although you can change later.) My vista was set up under my mac OS account, so I didn’t even get to set up windows account with password. Seems like windows account was created per MacOS users. So I guess if I logged into my guest account on Mac and tried to launch virtual machine, I need to create another account on virtual machine side. I didn’t want to integrate the native OS account with virtual as I wanted a complete independent virtual machine.

Verdict
I decided to go with VMWare! All I want from virtual machine is a debugging environment to quickly switch back and forth – to see if what I’m doing works on Windows, to quickly use windows only applications, how it’d look and behave on IE, etc. There wouldn’t be much need for me to do long tasks on virtual machine anyway, I’ll go with VMware for its performance than Parallels’ greater ability to customize the virtual machine to work comfortably in virtual machine as a second working environment. (which would be great if you need to often work long on Windows as sub-main machine.)

Food-ful 2 days (yet surprisingly healthy)


I’ve forgotten why but I didn’t make it to Good food & Wine show last year for some reason.
This year, with enthusiastic early notice from Amanda, I made it to the show with her and Rob on a chilly cold Sunday in Sydney with my red runny nose. Thanks to her, I got to see Chef Gordon Ramsay from Hell’s kitchen and the F word!

It was too bad that we couldn’t get our books signed by him, but I’m pretty happy with the stuff I bought there – Pukara Estate Wasabi infused extra virgin olive oil, scone & pancake mix from Whisk & pin, and 15mins-before-closing bargain – 3 packs of red bean buns for $5 and 3 bottles of Lo Sui & Zheng Jiang spare rib marinate sauce for $5.

Too bad for you, Ellen! (who by the way twisted her ankle almost falling down from stairs.)

After the show I had a Nabe dinner with usual Bondai hungry kids. Chicken dumplings Nabe in a yummy real chicken stock with alot of veggies and fresh thick-cut smoked ocean trout. I definitely re-confirmed that Nabe is indeed one of Japanese winter soul foods.


Another chilly Monday went quite slow as I had a day off. Lazy morning passed by with my large soy latte and freshly made strawberry muffin at my favourite cafe in my neighborhood. I met up with my friends in Neutral bay for lunch @ Atomic Espresso then off to San Churro in Glebe for chocolaty desert.

And I’m ready to relax and getting ready for busy Tuesday after cosy home cook dinner.



Quickly roasted chicken filet on couscous & baby spinach salad with marinaded boiled egg with greek yogurt dressing.

Bunny time.

Yummy ramen with three thick slabs of mouth-watering chashu (with thick layers of FAT!) AND Tonkatsu for dinner last night, and black premium pork cutlet with sweet miso sauce for lunch.

I KNOW I MUST COMPENSATE for the sins I have committed in the past 24 hours…



Carrot & Orange salad
Shredded carrot, sliced orange, raisins, lean beacon slices, roasted pine nuts,
tossed with dressing – lemon juice, white wine vinegar, mustard, salt & pepper and olive oil. Yum.

And one of my friends pointed out that people usually compensate by exercising, not by cooking healthier food. OH YEAH? LIKE, I DIDN’T KNOW THAT? *stuttering*

hmm? oh? huh?

I was in Bondi Junction catching up with my friend and we went for a dinner to satisfy our craving for Ramen! (hmmm… Aburi Chashu Ramen AND Tonkatsu. Bring ‘em on.)

And I’ve got a can of Coke Zero because it’s got zero sugar ;p

Coca Cola Zero it is.

….
….
….
Hmm?

Did you notice something?

….
….
….

That’s Coke Zero alright. Isn’t it?

….right.

well… something’s different….

….

*GASP*

Ohhhhhh design has changed!!

I had never experienced the sensation.

One of my Japanese friends recently went back to Japan and brought me back interesting sweets, as they always do. She brought me new Pocky Gokuboso (I know, it sounds wrong as a name of product), Tirol Chocolates which makes me want to go Otona-gai, etc etc.

There is this product that she goes “My god, you have to try this, it’s the new thing in Japan.”

“Nama Caramels by Hanabatake farm” (Raw Caramels)





Apparently you have to even wait in a looooooong line to get this in Japan at a moment. She told me that she waited for 1 and 2/1 hours. (insane!)

Nama sweet – (raw sweets) is a pretty new product genre in Japan, often implies “high-end”. The most famous one must be the raw chocolate. It’s pure rich chocolate made from fresh/high grade cocoa and doesn’t use any additional preservatives. It’s raw and must be refrigerated. I’ve had raw chocolates before which instantly melts away in your mouth. Sort of like chocolate truffles.

What’s so popular about this? It’s the feel you get when you pop this in your mouth. It does indeed melt in your mouth like raw chocolate, but it feels…. indescribable. A solid candy like caramel instantly becomes chewy caramel, then keeps melting to be caramel sauce. All happening in less than 5 seconds. What’s left in your mouth is a sweet milky flavour of caramel. It’s quite interesting, and it’s really frustrating that I can’t describe it well. “Eating is believing” applies to this product.

New sensation indeed…

Oral pleasure.

I was totally seduced by that sweet smell and these pictures show the rest.