Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lazar Charcoal Grill - Encore

After a great time at Lazar's the first town round, and hearing that they were closing forever this Saturday, I had to go back for one last time.

This time, the meal and service were again excellent. We got a different waiter this time, but he was equally funny in his own less excited way compared to the other waiter.

As for the steak, it was once again delicious. The sausages were so flavoursome as I remembered. And this time, I left some space in my stomach so that I could taste the strawberry pancakes properly. The pancakes were indeed scrumptious.

This time I remembered to photograph the food. Hopefully I can find another steakhouse that is just as good.

The sausages don't look that different but they are tasty without that usual smelly after taste from most sausages. The pork sausages was better in my opinion but the beef sausages were still very good too.

Complimentary salad consisting of potato salad, green salad and sauerkraut.

My scotch fillet steak medium.

The food was beautifully accompanied by a Penfolds Thomas Hyland Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 vintage. It was wonderfully smooth with slight hints of flavour.

The famous Lazar pancakes with plump sweet juicy strawberries and ice cream. The strawberries must be freshly picked from the farm because they are always sweet and don't just look good with no flavour like the supermarket ripened ones.

It's a shame that Lazar's will be closing forver as the great service and steaks would have seen me go back there many times. If you read this before Saturday November 4, go to Lazar's and try out the steak.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

East Dynasty

East Dynasty is located in Eastland Shopping Centre in Ringwood. It is one of my favourite places for Yum Cha, but after last night's meal, I will only go there for Yum Cha in future.

East Dynasty's interior looks like that of many other Chinese restaurants. There is the usual red colour in most of the decorations and lots of Chinese artwork such as shell covered wooden panels and embroidered artwork. It wasn't that crowded unlike at Yum Cha so was less noisy than usual. Despite not being full, the service was still extremely slow with far too few wait staff. The meal took forever to arrive. This has happened twice now when I have gone for dinner so I don't think it was a matter of a chef being sick. At least last time the food was good so it was worth going back. This time, it about 20 minutes to get entrees and a further half hour for mains. With the mains, one dish came out about 20 minutes before all the others, and we asked for rice a few times but it never arrived while the food was getting cold.

The only good dish of the night was the soft shelled crab entree. The crabs were coated in a light batter and fried and then cooked in the Chinese style of chilli and salt. The crabs tasted very nice and it was a weird sensation eating the whole crab without having to peel anything.

The mains were all very average Chinese dishes. There was sweet and sour pork which was alright since the pork wasn't the cheapest cuts that stink. However, good sweet and sour pork should be done with ribs and a light batter with an equally light sauce. The sauce shouldn't be too thick and sticky.

The dish of fried chicken ribs and fried battered milk was disappointing. I've had much better fried chicken ribs at Hoa Tran, and it costs a third of the price there. The fried battered milk was way too sweet and the batter much too thick.

The peppercorn beef in a sizzling hot plate was not really sizzling. The beef had been soaked in so much bi carb powder that it had lost all flavour and was just a soft piece of something.

Overall, the whole night was extremely disappointing. The food took forever to arrive, service was almost non existent and the price was expensive too. Compared to their excellent Yum Cha, the dinner experience is definitely not worth trying again. The funniest thing that happened all night was when an old lady was leaving and just walking past my table. The head waitress walking behind the old Chinese lady told her in Chinese to "step out of the way, you're blocking the whole walkway". How rude. Is that the way you speak to an old person and also a paying customer.

Overall Rating: 9/20, Food and service equally disappointing. Price is also too expensive for quality of food. Go to East Dynasty for Yum Cha as that is excellent but don't bother going there for dinner.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Misuzu's is located on Victoria Avenue in Albert Park. Upon arriving at the restaurant, you are greeted by a large tree with lanterns all over it. Once you step inside, the dark room with various paintings and red and black decor really strike you. Since we didn't book, we got escorted to a table upstairs, which lacked a lot of the atmosphere downstairs. It was still nicely decorated upstairs but didn't have that buzz.

For entrees, we got the sashimi and Japanese salad. The sashimi tasted fresh and the Japanese salad was interesting with its mix of cooked tuna, calamari, sweet potato, corn kernels, red onions and rocket.

For mains, I got the Teriyaki Beef with Soba. I found the soba a bit too soggy for my liking. The teriyaki beef tasted like that at most other Japanese places.

The initial plan was to head off to Cacao for dessert and chocolates. They advertise their opening hours as till 10pm on a Saturday, but they lie. It closes at 7pm everyday. So upon finding Cacao closed (must go there some other day though), we dropped off at Acland Street in St Kilda instead. We wend inside the Acland Cake Shop, with its old style cafe decorations and I ordered the Acland Special. The Acland Special was a mix between a fruit tart, vanilla slice and sponge cake. It tasted like a fruit slice and wasn't too special.

Overall Rating: 12/20, Misuzu's is a nicely decorated restaurant and has good service. The food was not too different to other Japanese restaurant and was similarly priced.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


The tomato plant was not grown in England until the 1590s, according to Smith. One of the earliest cultivators was John Gerard, a barber-surgeon. Gerard's Herbal, published in 1597 and largely plagiarized from continental sources, is also one of the earliest discussions of the tomato in England. Gerard knew that the tomato was eaten in both Spain and Italy. Nonetheless, he believed that it was poisonous (tomato leaves and stems contain poisonous glycoalkaloids, but the fruit is safe). Gerard's views were influential, and the tomato was considered unfit for eating (though not necessarily poisonous) for many years in Britain and its North American colonies. By the mid-1700s, however, tomatoes were widely eaten in Britain; and before the end of that century, the Encyclopædia Britannica stated that the tomato was "in daily use" in soups, broths, and as a garnish. Tomatoes were originally known as "Love Apples", possibly based on a mistranslation of the Italian name pomo d'oro (golden apple) as pomo d'amore.

I like tomatoes.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Green Mangoes

I love eating green mangoes. They're actually not that cheap either, often more expensive than the ripe ones during mango season due to less demand for green mangoes so the price goes up since the sellers need to make more profit on them.

However, green mangoes are delicious when eating the right way. The way to eat them is to peel and cut them into little strips. Then you make a following sauce to taste for dipping the mangoes in:

Green Mangoe Dipping Sauce

*Good quality fish sauce
*Lots of chilli

Mix these three ingredients in a bowl to whatever taste you like. Remember to pound the chillis to really bring out the heat. I love it extra extra hot so that I'm sweating after I eat it. It's so addictive eating green mangoes with this sauce. The mix of sweet, sour, salty and hot is perfect.

I really recommend you give it a try before saying its digusting. This method of eating green mangoes is the norm in South East Asia and that many people can't be wrong.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Power of Cinnamon

It is found that mixture of Honey and Cinnamon cures most of the diseases.

Honey is produced in most of the countries of the world. Ayurvedic as well as Yunani medicine have been using honey as a vital medicine for centuries. Scientists of today also accept honey as a Ram Ban (very effective) medicine for all kinds of diseases. Honey can be used without any side effects for any kind of diseases. Today's science says that even though honey is sweet, if taken in the right dosage as a medicine, it does not harm diabetic patients also.

A famous magazine named Weekly World News published in Canada dated 17 January, 1995 has given a list of diseases that can be cured by Honey and Cinnamon as researched by western scientists.

1) Take one part honey to two parts of Luke warm water and add a small teaspoon of cinnamon powder, make a paste and massage it on the aching part of the body slowly. It is noticed that the pain recedes within a minute or two. 2)Or arthritis patients may daily, morning and night take one cup of hot water with two spoons of honey and one small teaspoon of cinnamon powder. If drunk regularly even chronic arthritis can be cured.

In a recent research done at the Copenhagen University, it was found that when the doctors treated their patients with a mixture of one tablespoon Honey and half teaspoon cinnamon powder before breakfast, they found that within a week out of the 200 people so treated practically 73 patients were totally relieved of pain and within a month, mostly all the patients who could not walk or move around because of arthritis started walking without pain.

Hair Loss
Those suffering from hair loss or baldness, may apply a paste of hot olive oil, one tablespoon of honey, one teaspoon of cinnamon powder before bath and keep it for approximately for 15 minutes and then wash the hair. It was found very effective if kept for 5 minutes also.

Bladder Infections
Take two tablespoons of cinnamon powder and one teaspoon of honey in a glass of Luke warm water and drink it. It destroys the germs of the bladder.

Make a paste of one teaspoon of cinnamon powder and five teaspoons of honey and apply on the aching tooth. This may be done 3 times a day daily till such time that the tooth has stopped aching.

Two tablespoons of honey and three teaspoons of Cinnamon Powder mixed in 16 ounces of tea water, if given to a cholesterol patient, it reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood by 10% within 2 hours. As mentioned for arthritic patients, if taken 3 times a day any chronic cholesterol is cured. As per the information received in the said journal, pure honey taken with food daily relieves complains of cholesterol.

Those suffering from common or severe colds should take one tablespoon Luke warm honey with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder daily for 3 days. This process will cure most chronic cough, cold and clear the sinuses.

Yunani and Ayurvedic have been using honey for years in medicine to strengthen the semen of men. If impotent men regularly take two tablespoon of honey before sleeping, their problem will be solved.
In China, Japan and Far-East countries, women who do not conceive and to strengthen the uterus have been taking cinnamon powder for centuries.

Women who cannot conceive may take a pinch of cinnamon powder in half teaspoon of honey and apply it on the gums frequently throughout the day, so that it slowly mixes with the saliva and enters the body.

A couple in Maryland, America had no children for 14 years and had left hope of having a child of their own. When told about this process husband and wife started taking honey and cinnamon as stated above, the wife conceived after a few months and had twins at full term.

Upset Stomach
Honey taken with cinnamon powder cures stomach ache and also clears stomach ulcers from the root. Gas: - According to the studies done in India & Japan, it is revealed that if honey is taken with cinnamon powder the stomach is relieved of gas.

Heart Diseases
Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, apply on bread or chapatti instead of jelly and jam and eat it regularly for breakfast. It reduces the cholesterol in the arteries and saves the patient from heart attack. Also those who have already had an attack, if they do this process daily, are kept miles away from the next attack. Regular use of the above process relieves loss of breath and strengthens the heart beat.

In America and Canada, various nursing homes have treated patients successfully and have found that due to the increasing age the arteries and veins which lose their flexibility and get clogged are revitalized.

Immune System
Daily use of honey and cinnamon powder strengthens the immune system and protects the body from bacteria and viral attacks. Scientists have found that honey has various vitamins and iron in large amounts. Constant use of honey strengthens the white blood corpuscles to fight bacteria and viral diseases.

Cinnamon powder sprinkled on two tablespoons of honey taken before food, relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals.

A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural ingredient which kills the influenza germs and saves the patient from flu.

Tea made with honey and cinnamon powder, when taken regularly arrests the ravages of old age. Take 4 spoons of honey, 1spoon of cinnamon powder and 3 cups of water and boil to make like tea. Drink 1/4 cup, 3 to 4 times a day. It keeps the skin fresh and soft and arrests old age. Life span also increases and even if a person is 100 years old, starts performing the chores of a 20 year old.

Three tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon powder paste. Apply this paste on the pimples before sleeping and wash it next morning with warm water. If done daily for two weeks, it removes pimples from the root.

Skin Infections
Eczema, ringworm and all types of skin infections are cured by applying honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts on the affected parts.

Weight Loss
Daily in the morning, 1/2 hour before breakfast on an empty stomach and at night before sleeping, drink honey and cinnamon powder boiled in one cup water. If taken regularly it reduces the weight of even the most obese person.

Also drinking of this mixture regularly does not allow the fat to accumulate in the body even though the person may eat a high calorie diet.

Recent research in Japan and Australia has reveled that advanced cancer of the stomach and bones have been cured successfully. Patients suffering from these kinds of cancer should daily take one tablespoon of honey with one teaspoon of cinnamon powder for one month 3 times a day.

Recent studies have shown that the sugar content of honey is more helpful than detrimental to the body strength. Senior citizens who take honey and cinnamon power in equal parts are more alert and flexible. Dr. Milton who has done research says that half tablespoon honey taken in one glass of water and sprinkled with cinnamon powder, taken daily after brushing and in the afternoon at about 3.00 p.m. when the vitality of the body starts decreasing, increases the vitality of the body within a week.

Bad Breath
People of South America, first thing in the morning gargle with one teaspoon of honey and cinnamon powder mixed in hot water. So their breath stays fresh throughout the day.

Hearing Loss
Daily morning and night honey and cinnamon powder taken in equal parts restores hearing.

Sent by Dr. Quek Hwee Choo via email

Friday, October 20, 2006

Amusing Conversations at KFC

I remember once upon a time when I was young that KFC used to be known as Kentucky Fried Chicken. A friend told me they had to drop that name because there wasn't enough chicken content in their food to be called "Chicken". I don't know if this is true but would almost agree with it sometimes.

So I went and bought some KFC for dinner tonight. Sometimes fast food is just the easiest thing to eat when there is nothing else to eat. I know that its extremely bad for me and I react to it immediately. After eating it, I will get pimples within the next few hours. However, I do like eating it every once in a while.

Here is what I had tonight. Notice anything? A total lack of colour besides brown. Everything is fried in heaps of animal fat. Those skewer things on the left are the new "Short Time Only" Hot Rods. I got fooled by their marketing and got some. What do they taste like you ask? They taste just like their "Hot and Spicy" chicken they had only recently, just moulded into a different shape and stuck on a skewer.

While I was buying the KFC, two hilarious incidents happen. Firstly, a lady next to me asked for "A chicken burger without the chicken". Huh? Why didn't she just go to a sandwich shop? She wanted the buns with just mayo, lettuce and tomatoe but no chicken. Then the poor pre pubescent guy behind the counter goes "I'll check if we can do that". Of course you can do that, just pull the chicken out of one of your burgers. Then he comes back and says "Yes we can do that". He then turns around to the girl at the next register and says "How do I punch that into the machine?" I guess they don't exactly train for situations like this, or even how to think slightly outside the square. The girl told him that he could "Punch it in as a Twister with just Lettuce and Tomatoe." I guess since the Twister is supposed to be their slightly healthier option, sometimes people might want more salad in it rather than meat.

The second incident was a man who had brought back half a bag of bread buns. He said that they were still frozen and asked for his money back. The KFC manager gave him back $1.20. He said that he wanted all his money back even though two buns were missing. She said that since he only brought back four, she can only give him back the money for that. Also she said "I'm already giving you a discount, you got that as part of a meal and we didn't even charge you the full price for it." THis was totally hilarious to me. Here she was bargaining with him over how much money he should get back. In the end, he accepted the $1.20 and walked off. For me personally, I couldn't be bothered driving back for $1.20 but would make a point to check that the buns were not frozen the next time.

See how much fun you can have at KFC while you wait for you pimple inducing artery clogging cruelly raised chicken fried in heaps of fat. I think I might try the chicken burger without the chicken next time and see how that tastes hahahaha.

Hoa Tran

Hoa Tran Chinese Vietnamese restaurant is my favourite cheap eats restaurant. They serve very good food at insanely cheap prices. It only takes about 5-10 minutes for them to serve your drink and food. I've been so many times and they have yet to get my order wrong. If you want a quick good cheap meal, this is the place to go. It's always packed in the restaurant despite being in a very competitve market in Springvale where there are heaps of other similar restaurants. It's the quality of their food and service that separates them from the pack. They were recently reviewed in The Age Newspaper and the reviewer gave a very glowing review.

I went there to lunch today with 12 other work mates. Since it was so packed on the table, Tin and I decided to sit on another table, hence I have only taken photos of what we ate. There are so many dishes that I love at Hoa Tran. Just to name a few, I like the following: Grilled Beef Skewers with Vermicelli, Malaysian Style Beef with Fried Rice Noodles, Starch Noodles with Seafood, Lemongrass and Chilli Chicken, Salt and Chilli Chicken, Vietnamses Style Broken Rice, Seafood Fried Rice Noodle etc etc. I also like what I ate today and what Tin had as well.

I got a free soup since I ordered a rice dish. The soup is usually a chicken based soup with vegetables and various other ingredients which change from day to day.

Most soup based dishes are also accompanied with salad that you can put into it. The little bowl contains the Vietnamese Fish Sauce mixed with chilli, lemon juice, sugar, water and some carrot pieces.

I chose the Flame Grilled Chicken with Steamed Rice. This dish only costs $7 and you get the free soup as well. The chicken has a nice charred flavour and is still nice and tender.

Tin ordered the Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Spicy Soup with Vermicelli) is also only $7. This is a great dish as well, with strong flavours in the soup. I really like the cooked beef pieces and the pork leg. I usually get it without the pig's blood though since I just don't like the flavour of blood rather than being disgusted by it.

For drinks, Tin and I both got the Avocado Milkshake. It's so creamy and delicious. Usually I will get this shake or the Durian shake, the Jack Fruit shake or a Strawberry Shake. They're all made from real fruit and they don't put too much ice so that it's all watery.

Overall Rating: 14/20, The service is very efficient and the food is very nice and exceptional value for money. It has a very noisy raucous atmosphere and is great for general dining. If you want a quiet setting, do not go here.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Passionate About Food

I've just added links to other food blogs that I read regularly. It's amazing to see the amount of people out there who are so passionate about food. I've always thought of myself as being pretty passionate about food, but compared to a lot of these people, I am rump steak to their Wagyu steak, Cadbury's chocolate to their Valrhona chocolate.

Some other bloggers eat out so much its unbelievable so they have a lot of material to write about. I don't want to (or have the money to sustain) eating out on weekdays. If I ate out more often, I think my weight would skyrocket very quickly. Apart from being unhealthy, I think you actually get bored of too much restaurant food. The strong flavours and very oily food is just too much for your palette sometimes. I know that's the case with me. More than two days of consecutive restaurant dining and I'm ready for a nice simple home meal.

Apart from eating out a lot, many food bloggers cook a lot too. They cook lots of interesting food and post very regularly on their blogs. I like the actual cooking part of cooking, just not the preparation part since I'm fairly lazy. Hence I don't actually cook very often, but I think I might start trying to cook more things. As for writing in this blog, I'm very enthusiastic about it. Previously though, I would only do posts when I ate out, which is only about once a week. Hence the frequency of the posts was quite low. However, I have decided to change track a little and post anything and everything about food. Sometimes if I eat some interesting food or have an opinion about something, I will post about it. This blog will become more personal from me and less formal with only restaurant reviews.

Hopefully my fellow contributors on this blog will also write more posts about anything food related. I guess since this blog was my idea, I should set the example and post more food related things and hopefully everyone else will follow.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lazar Charcoal Grill

I went to Lazar Charcoal Grill on Johnston Street in Fitzroy with Dennis and Patrick to eat some steak. Lazar was voted as the best steakhouse in Victoria by The Age Good Food Guide in 2004 and 2005.

On approaching the front of the building, you are met by this middle age looking building. Even the front door was this heavy wooden door with cast iron handles. You then go through a second set of doors before you get inside the building. Once inside, there wasn't really a welcome counter and we stood around waiting for a waiter to see us. When he finally spotted us, he escorted us to a table.

The building is cavernous inside, with wood panelling everywhere. You definitely cannot play any annoying background music here, just the sounds of people enjoying themselves

The customer service was really great here. The waiter was an older gentlemen who clearly knew how to make the customers relax. Upon escorting us to the table, he said "Do you know those people over there" to which we replied "No", and he said "They were looking this way so I thought you knew them, No, then they must be looking at me, I'm so good looking you know". That definitely broke the ice and we were all relaxed and laughing. Then while we were deciding what to order, he said "Boys, what's taking so long, there really isn't much choice on the menu, just steak". He was so funny. All night he kept coming up with funny things to do and say and was like a father joking around with his kids. The only time when we saw him serious was when Dennis asked for some tomato sauce to go with the chips, to which he sharply replied "No" and walked away. We thought he was joking but I guess they don't like using tomato sauce at Lazar's. Apart from that, he was a great waiter who made the night a lot of fun.

For dinner, obviously we ordered steak. I chose the scotch fillet medium while Dennis had the eye fillet medium rare and Patrick the eye fillet medium. We also got one beef broth and the sausages and chips. Salad and bread is complimentary. The salad was very nice actually, it comprised of a mixed lettuce salad with capsicum and tomatoes, but mixed in it was also a potato salad with capers and some sauerkraut.

I was enjoying the food so much that I forgot to photograph most of it. But trust me when I say that it was all very good, starting from the bread with extra delicious butter. The soup was like a tomato base with very strong beef flavours and egg inside. The two types of sausages, one a pork and beef one and the other a beef mince were totally delicous. I've never tasted better sausages.

My steak was cooked to perfection and was full of flavour. I didn't need to put any salt or pepper or the mustard and horseradish sauce offered. It was beautiful as it was. It was also huge, and I struggled to finish the last bite. I felt that the scotch fillet had more flavour than the eye fillets. The eye fillets were definitely tender but due to having virtually no fat, lacked that extra oomph that my scotch fillet had. We polished down all this food with a strong tasting Fox Creek 2004 Shiraz.

For dessert, there was only three choices, strawberry with ice cream, lemon crepes or strawberry pancakes. We went for the strawberry pancakes and Patrick said they were the best he had tasted. I also thought they were very good, but not sure about the best. The strawberries were large and plump, covered in a strawberry sauce wrapped inside a flavoursome crepe. The ice cream was good quality vanilla ice cream. Once again, I totally forgot to photograph it since I was too busy eating it.

When we had finished and were about to leave, the waiter asked how everything went. We said it was great. So he asked if we would be coming back, and we said yes. Then he asked when we were coming back, which I thought was putting us on the spot. We said some time soon. He asked whether it was before or after November 4th. We said probably after. He then told us that Lazar's is not going to be around after November 4th. The owner, Mr Lazar was packing up shop. The restaurant was going to be demolished to build apartmentss after opening for 35 years. Mr Lazar himself was 75 and was ready to retire. The waiter himself had also worked there for 30 years. I could see the genuine sadness in his eyes. The restaurant was probably a second home for him, and now it was all going to change. So if you read this post before November 4th, I definitely recommend you go and have a good steak there. I will be going back for one last time as well. It's such a shame, just when I find a good steakhouse and it is going to close. Below is a picture of me with Mr Lazar at the grill cooking away all the steaks.

Overall Rating: 15/20, Great food and atmosphere. It is also great value with a steak costing only about $25. There was also no charge for corkage, which was a shock as well, a rareity in todays restaurant industry. The service was outstanding and genuine.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

In Good Company

I had written in my review of P.J Malaysian Cuisine that I had a great meal despite the food being only ok. A lot of times, its the company that determines how good I think the meal was. Average food in the company of good friends or family can make the night more memorable than it should be.

I had dinner at P.J's with my friend Calvin who I hadn't seen in ages. We ate there for about 3.5 hours and just caught up on everything. We talked about anything and everything and it was such a relaxful great night out. He is someone who I think is a very good friend despite not seeing him that often. We always seem to just pick up where we left off and nothing ever seems to change.

The meal was secondary in the whole experience. If the food had been better, we may have noticed it a bit more. Since it was ok, it didn't add much to the night. If it had been bad, it probably would have only detracted a bit to the night since that was not the purpose. We just wanted to catch up and dinner is just the easiest and most comfortable setting to do that.

However, sometimes I go out to dinner to eat some good food. During those times, even if I have good company, because we all have the same purpose of wanting to eat good food, a bad meal can really ruin the night. We still have fun but since we all have high expectations of the food, a bad meal can be a letdown at the end of the night. We become almost distracted by the bad food, since rather than being able to just enjoy what you are eating and continue chatting away, the focus is instead drawn to the food and how bad it is.

Recently I read an article by John Lethlean, chief food reviewer for The Age newspaper where he said that he had such a great meal with one of his best friends that he hadn't seen in a very long time. They ate at Hotel Lincoln and he said that the great food coupled with the company of his good friend was so perfect that he relived all his childhood fun with that friend and it almost brough him to tears. I don't know about coming to tears but a great meal in good company does have a pleasant quality where everything just seems to flow so nicely.

P.J Malaysian Cusine

P.J Malaysian Cuisine is located in Glen Waverley just round the corner from the cinema. I popped into there for a very good dinner with my friend Calvin (which wasn't really related to the food and more about the company but more about that in another post), who I hadn't seen in a while.

P.J's is fairly small and felted a little cramped with all the tables so close to each other. But I guess with such a small area, they have to maximise the usuage by putting the tables close together. The room is decorated with some very eclectic art pieces, including a tall statue of a black man standing near the front door.

The service is very professional at P.J's and they are definitely catering to a more upmarket crowd than the other restaurants along Glen Waverley.

The food was ok but no different to any other Malaysian restaurant. It was standard fare. The menu was quite limited and just served the usual things you would see at a lot of Malaysian restaurants. The price however, was double what was charged at most cheap Malaysian restaurants that I go to. We chose to have the Nasi Goreng, Hot and Spicy Chicken and Curry Beef.

Overall Rating: 10/20, A bit too expensive for standard Malaysian food, but if you want somewhere a bit more upmarket with good service where you can sit down all night and talk, this is a good place to go.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Sawasdee is located in Chinatown in Little Bourke Street. From the name, you may know that it is a Thai restaurant. I think Sawasdee is like saying "hello" in Thai.

When you first approach the restaurant, all you see is an unspectacular door. Fortunately, there is a girl dressed in a Thai outfit ready to pull you into the restaurant. It's becoming more and more common now to have staff outside a restaurant to attract customers. When you first go up the stairs past the ammonium smelling carpet, you are assaulted by a room full of green. The carpets to the chairs to a lot of the decoration is quite an ugly green. Everything looks so outdated and old.

There weren't a lot of people in the restaurant when we arrived at 7:30pm, not a good sign on busy Chinatown on a Saturday. Once again, I told myself to reserve judgement till after the meal. It did fill up a bit more afterwards, but was still fairly bare. The live music from the piano player was very loud and reverberated throughout the room and was actually very annoying after the first song. He was very good but it was just so loud and we were shouting to be heard over the music.

The Kai Yang (below) was barbequed chicken marinated in lemongrass, garlic and coriander. I couldn't really taste the lemongrass. It just tasted like regular barbequed chicken with some sugar on it. The sour vinegar sauce helped to give the chicken a bit more flavour.

The Gaeng Daeng curry (below) where we chose to have with roast duck was ok. The roast duck was a bit flabby (I can't think of a better word). It needed to be more roasted to give a better flavour.

The Pla Pao (below) was a whole fish wrapped in banana leaf and barbequed. We chose to have Barramundi, which was supposedly live still, but who knows. Even if they show you the live fish, they may just take a dead one after and cook that. I once saw a guy take a live lobster out of a tank in a Chinese restaurant, then he went into the kitchen but moments later I saw him sneaking back out and putting the lobster back in the tank hahaha. Anyway, the fish was a bit muddy in flavour but the sauce helped to mask a lot of it.

Overall, the meal was passable but too expensive for the quality of food. The service was attentive and professional. The atmosphere wasn't too good, the pianist was just too loud and actually detracted from the atmosphere. The terrible interior was just an eyesore and the green colours just keep assaulting my eyes.

Overall Rating: 9/20, I personally wouldn't go back to this restaurant. The food was ok and service good but too expensive. I couldn't stand the interior of the restaurant and just can't enjoy food in that environment.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

De Los Santos

I went to De Los Santos on Saturday to try some Spanish food. The website looked very enticing with the recipes listed so was really looking forward to it.

When we first arrived there, the restaurant was very empty and we had some trepidation about going in. Generally an empty restaurant on a Saturday night means it's not too good. However, we decided to go in and more people started to arrive soon after. The room had very high ceiling painted red and the surroundings were comfortable. I'm not so sure about the funky red vinyl covered plastic chairs though. The vinyl didn't quite stretch the whole way, so when you lent back on the chair, you couldn't feel the back of the chair and was stopped by the vinyl. Apart from that, plates, cutlery and cups were all clean and not scratched. One of my pet hates is really scratched up glass cups that just look unclean.

De Los Santos Interior

For dinner, got got tapas and mains and shared as usual. We ordered the following dishes:

Veal and Pork Meatballs
Above: Albondigas - veal and pork meatballs in a rich caramelised salsa

The veal and pork meatballs tasted like regular meatballs in tomato sauce. There wasn't anything particularly different about the flavourings.

Above: Chorizo - grilled spiced pork sausage with a sherry and eschalot vinaigrette

I was expecting a lot from the famous Spanish chorizo but must say I was not fully satisfied. The sausages were extremely salty and lacked a real character.

Spiced Chicken Balls
Above: Pollo y Arroz con Fritas - spiced chicken and rice balls with saffron aioli

The spiced chicken balls tasted a lot like other rice balls I've had. The texture was a bit mushy and even the saffron aioli lacked flavour.

Above: Jamon - sliced jamon with a piquant salsa, Spanish extra Virgin olive oil and sourdough bread

I liked the jamon, it tasted like a milder version of proscuitto. The salsa worked well with its slighty sour flavours.

Cured Salmon
Above: Salmon - vodka and sugar cured salmon with a citrus and horseradish creme fraiche and caviar

The salmon tasted like a dulled down version of smoked salmon. It lacked any flavour of salmon and I couldn't taste the vodka or sugar flavours at all.

Twice Coooked Pork
Above: Panza de Cerdo - twice cooked caramelised pork belly with a warm spiced lentil adn green bean braise

I liked the twice cooked pork, it tasted a bit like Chinese roast pig, but with slightly chewier skin. The lentil salad went well with the pork with the tangy sauce.

Above: Paella con Pollo y Pato - mixed meat paella with chicken, duck, chorizo and a salsa verde

We decide against the usual seafood paella and tried this one. This paella was ok but not great. The rice was too soggy. The duck was just pan fried but not enough so the skin wasn't crispy. The chorizo on this paella was better than the tapas chorizo that we ordered.

So far in the meal, we all unanimously agreed that it was ok, but just couldn't match the great dining experience that we had at Movida Spanish restaurant a month earlier. If I hadn't gone to Movida before and came here first, I would say that it was ok. But having been to Movida, everything here lacked that special "pazazz" and tasted rather bland to be honest. However, I said that De Los Santos could still redeem itself if the desserts were great, since I'm such a sucker for desserts.

Coffee Soaked Dates
Above: Coffee Poached Dates - with hazelnut toffee and muscat custard

I liked the date soaked in coffee, it gave them a very interesting flavour. The toffee were ok and the custard lacked flavour.

Creme Caramel
Above: Flan - Spanish creme caramel with citrus and spiced red wine glaze

The flan texture was quite bad actually and I didn't much care for the flavour either.

Chocolate Pudding
Above: Budin de chocolate - chocolate and espresso pudding with rum and raisin ice cream

The rum and raising ice cream (my favourite type of any ice cream) was good, but again lacked more flavour. The pudding texture was good and went well with the chocolate sauce.

Spanish Doughnuts
Above: Rosquillas - Spanish doughnuts with chocolate parfait and Seville orange sauce

The doughnuts were quite crumbly and didn't work for me. I did like the chocolate parfait and eaten together with the doughnuts, helped moisten the doughnuts. However, the whole dish was ruined by the extremely bitter orange sauce.

The desserts did not redeem this restaurant in my eyes. Their flan is like supermarket quality while Movida's was truly unforgettable, a definite must have the next time I go back there. Their pudding was ordinary while Movida's chocolate ganache pudding was truly magnificant. Their ice cream was again normal, while Movida's was different and great.

So what are my overall summation of the place. I think that everything was done ok but nothing stood out. There wasn't anything that I would go "wow" and must eat again. If I hadn't been to Movida previously, I would rate this place fairly highly. The pricing is good, it's definitely cheaper than Movida, service was good but lacking a little in atmosphere. However, I have been to Movida and this place is just a very cheap imitation. All night, the most uttered words were "At Movida.....". Everyone just kept comparing every dish to Movida and reminiscing about how good that place was. The food there may be slightly more expensive, but it was all done so well that I will be going there for my Spanish food in future.

Overall Rating: 11/20, Food and service ok but just lacking anything special. I just kept comparing it to Movida and it was well and truly beaten. Despite the great sounding menu, not a single dish here lived up to expectations and was a standout that would differentiate it from Movida.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

O.M.G...Banoffee Pie!

Today I have made a tantalising new discovery.

Phil and Leanne bought me a slice of Banoffee Pie today and I am in love. Banana and toffee on a cheesecakey like crumbly base...Dare I say a work of sheer genius? No surely not? But maybe I am saying exactly that, maybe I am in the presence of true greatness and I just don't know it.

Banoffee Pie...It's a genuine taste sensation and that's all I have to say on the matter!