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Archive for November, 2009

New awesomeness arrived in Manly.

“Are you coming to the beach for free BJ?”
Uhm… excuse me, what did you just say? I know, we’d often have to abbreviate words on Twitter, but, dude, you got me confused, Richard.

I was reminded by Susan that Ben & Jerry’s – a well-known ice cream shop from the US – was opening their first scoop shop in Manly last Saturday. Ahhh that’s right, Ben & Jerry’s! Back in my Boston days, I used to stop by the shop on Newbury Street for a scoop or two. Those who know me too well in Boston, you know I’d then of course head down to my beloved favourite Trident cafe – where I’ve spent the most of my youth with their famous Turkey Burger and Yin Yan milk shake.

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Arriving in Manly after a short traffic jam on the way, I found Susan, Shez & Richard (Not FFIchiban) and Rose already waiting in the growing queue. Great turnout for their opening I see! I didn’t get to take pictures, but Ben & Jerry themselves were at the shop scooping ice creams!

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I’ve got my first scoop, the chocolate fudge. At the exit, I was spotted by the Ninja!

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I think we’ve got pretty much all of flavours didn’t we? My favourites are definitely the peanut butter cookie dough and Berry Berry.

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After two ice creams, we needed something else to entertain our tongues. We headed down to a nearby fish & chips shop to satisfy our craving for something savoury. Then Richard & Jacq arrived, and of course we went back in the queue for more ice creams before heading to the beach (Tweeted by Susan.)

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Despite the man-on-man sunscreen rubbing action, my shoulder to the arms got painful sunburn :( But I must admit, 5 scoops of ice creams & fun time catching up with lovely food bloggers, it’s totally worth the pain!

I hope Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops will eventually open more locations closer to CDB soon!

Ben & Jerry’s
Shops 5 & 6
25-27 South Steyne
Manly NSW
2100
02 8966 9219


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Grab your chopsticks

“Don’t judge but I already have my christmas tree up.”

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Susan kindly offered her place for us to celebrate our beloved food blogger friend Helen‘s birthday. Oh no, I wouldn’t judge you Susan. No. No way. Nada. *giggles*

A group of food bloggers gathered up, and we were determined to make and eat dumplings. Why? Uh, because we’re Asian? *rolling my eyes* I must say, when it comes down to food, our organising, planning and execution skills are undoubtedly unrivalled. Several group emails later, all ingredients, who brings what, place, date and time had been all sorted out. Shame I ain’t motivated enough to do the same for everything else.

Now let the dumpling factory run.

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The best dumpling folder was definitely Billy, he must be making 20 cents per dumpling somewhere at Chinese restaurant! Looking at Simon sitting next to me, I found giant big-ass man dumplings laid on his plate. Everyone got own style I’ve got to say. haha.

Six of us made 270 dumplings. That’s like, 45 dumplings each. Bring it on.

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To me the most fun part of home made dumplings is pan-frying. Place them on the pan, brown their bottoms, and then add water and put the lid on to steam. I like witnessing them turning into oh-so-yummy looking dumplings.
And voila. I managed to eat 35 dumplings. *burp*

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Now for dessert. Billy and Susan worked the two ice machines making ice kacang like a pro!

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Richard arrived just in time for dessert, of course not empty handed. Deep fried Mars bars! Oh Richard, you deep-fried my heart too. And how good are they? You can tell from Billy’s and Richard’s pictures, can’t you?

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Susan’s hand made Grab Your Fork cake was finally revealed to Helen. My god, how great is that?! Eat the rainbow!

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Happy birthday to you Helen! Wish you even more fantastic food to come on your way ;)

Birthday Yakitori BBQ

What I love about my Japanese gangs besides their personalities and characters is that many of them works as food related professions – chefs, catering business, import/exporter. Every time we plan gatherings for birthdays or other celebrations, arrays of food that perk up my eyes will be laid out on a table waiting to be eaten.

For our beloved friend Mayuri’s birthday, we gathered up and turned her house into a Yakitori restaurant. The teriyaki chicken wings in Coke I’ve recently posted was for this as well. Hisae and I arrived early and “help” the preparation.

Preparation
Our definition of “food preparation” – start eating before everyone arrives. We had this awesome honey nectar that tastes fantastic with lemon, ice cubes, tonic water and spirit – Hisae turned into a funky bartender.

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Everyone started arriving with more food. Busshari‘s executive head chef Nobu and his lovely wife Ema, Hiro from Japaz brought a cooler box full of wagyu beef, Chiho prepared must-have traditional Yakitori on skewers.

Abalones
Mitsu arranged oh-so-huge premium Tasmanian abalones – the huge ones are as big as my palm! As soon as the first one got grilled on the barbie, I volunteered to bring into the kitchen and slice them up.
“I know what you are up to, you’re going to eat them all by yourself aren’t you?” Mitsu suspects.
Oh no, how could I – because 3 others followed me. ;p

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Now get onto Yakitori. 5 big trays full of Negima (chicken & Shallot), Tsukune (Chicken mince with Shiso leaves), Hatsu (Chicken hearts), Liver, Chicken skins, Sungimo (Chicken gizzards), Nankotsu (Chicken gristles), mini tomato wrapped with pork slices etc etc – all piled up like a meat mountain. Simple salt & pepper and Yakitori sauce.

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Lamb rack was sizzling along with garlic, french shallots, and thyme & rosemary – which was gone pretty quick! Hiro patted on my shoulder and said “Don’t worry Yas, we still got more meat.” THANK GOD.

Cake
And here come the cake time. Great tasting quality cake from Azuma again. Mayuri cuts the cake surrounded by a bunch of good friends.

Mayuri the birthday girl
Happy birthday Mayuri chan!

We often say, once you hit 30, birthdays afterwards feel pretty much the same – which I find relatively true. But what we have here is a group of close friends sharing laughter, tears, unconditional friendship, royalty and trust that are only to get stronger and stronger as we grow older together. … not to mention, eating makes us stick stronger.

Would you like wasabi with that?

Hotness!! Although Sydney weather can be very unpredictable, I’d say the summer has come!
And many of you might have read on twitter, I’ve been half-naked quite often these days. So used to it that I have remember to put my T-shirt on when I walk out my door.

I don’t believe in “too hot to eat” – sure you might not want to eat pipping hot dishes for dinner, but my appetite wouldn’t reject any food intake. During summer time in Japan, cold noodle dishes are popular dinner choice. Udon, Soumen, and of course Soba.

As previously posted, Soba noodle these days are served not only hot or cold as it. And one of traditional and popular soba dishes is soba Sushi. No, it’s not soba noodle on sushi rice. ;p You might have read about it on Eat Show & Tell, apparently Shinbashi in Neutral Bay has this on menu.

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Oh yes, I do have a makisu rolling mat. After all, I’m Japanese, helloooo. *rolling my eyes* Tsukemono (Japanese pickles) can be found at major asian supermarkets – I chose this purple coloured one with red shiso leaves and cucumber. The recipe for sweet soy mushroom is listed at the end.

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Place the soba noodle, egg omlet, Spring onion, shitake mushroom and pickles on Nori paper and roll it! Unlike regular sushi roll, you want to roll and tuck it in very tight.

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And slice the roll and serve with soba dipping sauce, grated ginger and wasabi. Other popular ingredients for soba sushi are cucumber, crab stick, and shiso leaves.

Soba is a pretty health ingredient, I know I’ll be consuming alot this summer.

Sweet soy shitake mushroom
Soak dry shitake mushroom in a hot boiling water until soft. Don’t throw away the hot water, use it as dashi.
Put sake (rice wine), soy sauce, sugar, Mirin, dashi from dry shitake mushroom along with shitake mushroom in a pot, and cook it down until it gets glossy texture. You don’t have to caramelise. Easy-peasy!

Easy Teriyaki Chicken Wings.

“I’ve tried diet & zero before – gotta be classic cock!
I replied on twitter
with an obvious typo around midnight – I was laughing my ass off. Minh replied, “Freudian (slip) ?” As I keep typing “pubic” instead of “public” quite often when I’m writing codes, I’d say the answer is yes.

You know it’s another late night cooking. Oh don’t judge me so quick, I wasn’t the only one up late and cooking. Linda and Minh were making macarons around the same time.

There were two BBQ gatherings to go to on the following day, so I decided to bring this easy never-fail teriyaki chicken wings cooked in a coca-cola. I’ve heard some says “Oh I’ve tried and didn’t like it.”, but give this teriyaki version a try. It tastes much better than coke only recipes you might have seen on the net, and it is definitely a great party pleaser dish!

Ingredients
Just grab these ingredients. You don’t even need a detailed recipe or measurement because you can’t really go wrong. But remember, you need a classic coca cola for caramelization, not diet or zero. Otherwise you’d end up with chemical smelling wings in hot flat coke.
I have never tried with Pepsi or other colas out there, but as long as it’s got sugar in it, I’d say the choice of cola is up to your liking.

Step 1
It’s not really a required step, but I recommend to quickly boil the wings in hot water just to remove excess fat and scum.

Put grated ginger, garlic, sliced chilli and spring onion in a pot with small amount of olive and sesame oil, and add wings to brown. Then simply pour coke over them just enough to cover the ingredients. Don’t add soy sauce just yet.

I’ve got to say, even after having cooked this many times before, it still makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong as coke makes that refreshing fizzy noise in a pot. ;p

step 2
Carbonate acid tenderizes the chicken wings as the coke reduces and thickens. When the coke cooked down to about the half, add soy sauce and reduce the heat a bit. How much soy sauce to add? Just taste the liquid and see if it’s “not so salty” as is. The flavour will get stronger as it cooks down and thicken further.

At this point, caramelisation happens quicker. Lower the heat, and continue to cook until the sauce gets thicker yet a bit runny – about 1/3 of liquid left in the pot. You want to get like this:

Coke Teriyaki Chicken Wings in process. from hungry.digital.elf on Vimeo.

Add more soy sauce if the sauce is too sweet at this point. Let it cool a bit in the pot for a bit before serving. The sauce gets much thicker as it cools down. You might want to place them on the oven rack to cool and let the excess sauce drip off. Also, if you didn’t boil the wings at the beginning, you’d want to remove them from the pot when the sauce has desired thickness – otherwise the fat in the sauce would eventually get gelatinised.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings
Voila! Garnish with some chilli and sliced spring onion stock.

Glazed
Sexy glossy glazed chicken wing! This goes ridiculously well with a glass of chilled beer or two.

Gorgonzola & pear salad
While waiting for the sauce to cool down, I quickly made a gorgonzola and pear salad. Oh man, why do these two taste so awesome together?

The first batch, 1kg of chicken wings turned out really good that I was half-naked with my beer in my hand getting my fingers sticky.

Oh look, the clock just struck 3am.

Awesomeness in a pan.

“Oh so you actually still have your gym membership? How much you’ve lost?” says my friend spotting a membership swipe hanging from my keychain.

I’ve lost $38 a week if that’s what you are asking. *humph*

Ever since the last day at work, I’ve been a little too enthusiastic trying to redeem all the eating occasions that I had missed out. Too enthusiastic that I haven’t eaten dinners home – all dining out somewhere. (well, except all these late night crazinesses you’ve seen.)

But we all know dinners taste even better with great eating companions. And this time, Chef Lex was cooking for our hungry rumbling stomaches – how could I ever be home cooking dinner for myself? Being guided by my GPS navigation that shows its hate toward me with unnecessarily longer route, I made my way to his place.

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Hmmm this is such a great entrée – Scallop Boudin. It didn’t take long to completely disappear from the plate. Check out the recipe in Lex’s recent post on this!

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Now the action is on fire. The kitchen started smelling great with all the yumminess being cooked in a paella pan.

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It’s almost a symbol for paella, mussels slowly open their shells as cooked. And why not put some Wagyu beef on it.

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Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges and Voila! Chorizo, chicken, veggies, mussels, baby octopus, wagyu beef, all the goodness served in a pipping hot pan!

Kids, I said dinner is ready!
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Richard & Karen contemplating next move – or Richard might be just sleeping.

The paella was cooked perfectly and the flavours from all the ingredients were blended great. Our spoons made countless trips back and forth between the pan and our dishes until it’s completely gone. (Woo the bottom crust!)

What’s for dessert? Steph brought her pretty creation for us – Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes! Cuteness that pops and crackles!
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Check out the recipe and process!

Another awesome dinner filled with laughters – what else would we want? Nada.
Big thanks to Chef Lex for cooking for us, Steph for the lovely cupcakes to share, and Simon for even more macarons!

Celebratory meat-ing in order.

Update
My friends and I visited this place again on May 21, 2010 and the whole experience simply rolled down on the hill. It was QUTIE BAD. I don’t know what had happened to them since our first visit. Probably management changed, waiters/waitress training worsen, whatever that was, they should have handled the situation more professionally. I’m not going to dig deep into details, but now it feels right to withdraw my previous opinion on this place. However, I’ll keep the original post – so please read at your own risk!

Thanks
hungry.digital.elf.
Yas

Original Post (November 13, 2009)
Any occasion is another excuse for eating gathering. “I know you don’t need an excuse to eat anyway” you might say. True, but when “All you can eat” is involved, I’d like to have some excuse so I can justify my overloaded stomach later on. ;p So this time, Billy, Helen, Karen, Minh, Richard, Simon and I were called in to celebrate my last day at work.

Initially I thought of O Bal Tan, Suminoya, or Madang for BBQ, which is always quite good for a group gathering, until Billy suggested Shinara Grill & Lounge – another Korean BBQ place but offers all-you-can-eat buffet dinner. (note: O Bal Tan and Madang don’t offer AYCE.) This place has been blogged by our lovely friend Shez on her site, and I remember that I was intrigued but had never gotten to try. Previously blogged from a reliable source + all you can eat + enthusiastic food bloggers, you do the math!

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Shinara is located on Pitt street, right in front of the small alley into Madang and O Bal Tan. They have ground floor level bar/dining area, and upper level for BBQ seatings. The upper level is pretty huge space, clean and open atmosphere to it.

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Wooo, I remember this thingy from O Bal Tan. No smoke-cough!

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First to arrive. this is what I mean by “meat” when I answer to “What did you have for dinner?”
What else do I need to tell, right?

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And shortly our table was full of meat and other side dishes. Get cracking!

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Bibimbap. Add Gochujang (spicy condiment) and mix it all together.

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I don’t think I’d turn into a vegetarian ever again.

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Hmmmm come to papa.

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Cuteness! and I’m talking about the hanging Sponge Bob.

Shinara offers two all-you-can-eat buffet choices – Basic for $29 (To be confirmed – I think it was $29) and Premium for $39. Premium includes all items from basic menu plus additional items like sushi, sashimi and ox tongue.

Great value for small to large group gathering!
Thanks guys for come celebrate together :)

Shinara Grill & Lounge
Shop 1, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
02 9262 9218


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Asparagus carbonara – with a sprinkle of failure

If I wasn’t shouting loud enough on twitter and emails, I’m out of advertising industry! Starting on the last day at work, it’s been non-stop eating, dining out, catching up my neglected friends etc. It feels A-W-E-S-O-M-E. Hell ya.

“So you’ve left online ad industry, what’s plan B?” – my friend asked.

Plan… B… well…

























planb

I’ve moved onto something more data-centric, and good bunch of people have offered me projects already. I’m very fortunate to know many people who’s been good to me and supportive, indeed. So Plan C is pretty much sorted!

So what’s for late night cooking today?

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Hahaha this egg has a smily face on it. Bunch of asparaguses, slices of pancetta, and parmigiano reggiano. Initially I was simply going to wrap asparagus with pancetta and parmigiano, but I knew at this point that I had all the ingredients needed for carbonara, except one essential ingredient – pasta!

Hmm. And I remembered my friend Mayuri showing me the picture of “Carbonara alla asparagus” from Ukai tei in Japan. A bit different from their version, but I decided to ‘shave’ asparagus with a peeler and use it as ‘pasta’

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I know many readers are fantastic cooks, you know how to make carbonara, right?
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Oh I failed. I should’ve not been lazy and continue peeling more asparagus – after a quick sauté, a bowlful of peeled asparagus became nearly half the size. Plus, too much distraction was happening on TV, and the pancetta was a bit overcooked while I was carried away. *sigh*

NEXT DISH!


Announcement

Lovely Jen of Jenius‘ photo exhibition has just started this Tuesday and open until Sunday the 15th. And her book “I Ate My Way Through Singapore & Vietnam” will be available for purchase there as well.

Global Gallery, 5 Comber street, Paddington Sydney
11am – 6pm (Sunday: 12-4pm)

Find out more at http://www.iatemywaythrough.com/

Dinner with heat wave.

OH MY FRIGGIN’ GWAD IT WAS HOT.

“hahaha I lied.” – I can imagine a weather reporter giggling. It was reported on TV in the morning that the temperature would be 32C, but it actually had gotten up to 38C max. (it’s 107F) And it didn’t come down easy, and the temp. at 8pm was still 32C. Now that’s a sultry night to groan with, isn’t it?

A hot night like this can be hard to come up with what to cook. You wouldn’t want to go for anything that requires oven or long simmering, would you? I’d rather want to eat something quick and easy yet filling.

So here it is – Cold soba (buckwheat noodle) salad.

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It would have only taken like 15 mins to prepare this. But I really wanted slices of sweet soy shitake mushroom (from dried ones), and that itself took about half hour. Determination that is. *groans* Boiled asparagus, shitake mushroom, grated white radish (Daikon Oroshi), chopped spring onions, cubed tofu, and alfalfa on the soba noodle. And pour dressing made of soy sauce, rice vinegar, bonito dashi, sugar, wasabi, grated ginger and sesame oil over the salad.

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Something sweet afterwards. Coconut milk + soy milk + condensed milk with strawberries and sago. Easy & yummy!

After stuffing myself, I took a shower then munched on frozen grapes. Man this thing is very addictive and so perfect for a night like this.

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Eryka Ba”don’t” ;p