Entries Tagged as 'Malaysia'

August 29, 2011

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Saturday Night Fever – Redbean Kitchen

No there wasn’t any disco. Or flares. Or even an afro in sight (much to my disappointment. I would have so rocked it).

I’m stretching the relevance of the post title as the only fever we got close to this weekend was that of my little brother who is currently coughing half his lungs out and sulking on the couch after missing out on playing his school’s badminton state final on Friday. They came second.

Anyways, the point of this post was that last night, Evs and I went on a date.

This was actually a date that we both knew about (unlike my attempt to keep the romance going from hundreds of kilometres away), and one that was spontaneous in the making.

Excited about our possibilities for our first Food Safari experience, we knew we needed a little planning before diving head first into international cooking. Well, more planning than heading to the local shopping centre an hour before it closed.

You might be thinking an hour is plenty of time.

But then you don’t know how long it actually takes for me to get ready.

Dead serious here.

So, after making plans to head to the farmer’s market on Sunday morning (yay! I HEART this particular market), we decided that we’d cash in our promise to go out and try a Malaysian/Singaporean restaurant.

Not actually knowing any good ones, we consulted our copy of The Age’s Cheap Eats Guide (it’s fabulous for a pair of cheap-asses like us. Haha – that’s not entirely true but it DOES have good stuff in it. Plus it was free with our newspaper subscription) and found a little place in Hawthorn called Redbean Kitchen, not too far away from us.

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The menu listed all the things we had planned to make and so clearly it was fate for us to go there.

I like to read reviews and check Urbanspoon as much as I can when I dine out and the people had spoken. It was a good place.

We got there and I was kinda half-surprised to see that it was a little place, more suited for casual dining. There is a university nearby and you could tell that this was a place that students would go to for a good, cheap meal.

I clearly had misjudged the fanciness of the place and was dressed to the nines (No, no afro) compared to the other diners (By the way – this is what I wore to work on Friday. Just had my hair up and changed the top for dinner on Saturday. As I mentioned above it takes me like a gazillion years to get ready and more often than not, I wear the same outfit twice if I know there is a chance I won’t bump into someone I know. Yep – total fashion faux pas, but sue me.).

IMG_0282Meh – I worked it.

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The place was packed, which wasn’t very hard to do as the tables for eating was just one row along the length of the restaurant. It was only when we sat down I realised that everyone had brought their own alcohol and seriously contemplated for 5 seconds popping into the nearby Hawthorn Hotel (which has a pub downstairs) and picking up a bottle of something nice.

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Considering the cold air outside, and the fact my butt was already nicely moulded into the seat of my chair, we stuck with the complimentary green tea for the night.

A lot of the reviews had gone with the restaurant specials which were displayed on a chalkboard on one side. We decided to got the same route and ordered and entree of vegetarian samosas, roti channai with beef rendang and the restaurant special – spiced, chilli crab.

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The entree came fairly quickly and only pausing slightly at the unusually bright orange dipping sauce, we tucked in. The samosas were fairly small parcels of fried…um…pastry? with some thinly sliced vegetables that looked like carrots and cabbage to me.

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Flavour wise, it was ok, nothing too special and if I wanted to be really honest, probably something very similar to what I could get from the frozen section at the supermarket.

Damn.

It’s hard doing reviews without getting catty.

The roti channai and crab came soon after, once we had polished off the samosas.

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(Yes that’s a little tower made out of a carrot in the crab dish. It scored cuteness points just for that)

Since I am a food whore and can eat a whole horse if given the chance, I was a little disappointed in the amount of roti that came out. I mean, you can’t deny a North Indian girl her roti now can you?? But the curry more than made up for the little pieces. It actually tasted a lot like a lamb rogan josh – the meat so tender it just fell off the pieces, the gravy mildly spicy and so so yummy.

The crab – well – when it came out, Evs and I both looked at each other and said “KFC – Kentucky Fried Crab”.

Haha – we’re hilarious.

It did have the same feel of the Colonel’s secret herbs and spices, but with a slight kick of chilli. We couldn’t eat too much of it, as it WAS deep fried and I kinda started feeling sick after the tenth fourth piece or so. Since this was meant to be the restaurant speciality dish, we were a little surprised that it wasn’t better.

Of course I had to have dessert (Am I the only one who looks at the dessert menu FIRST before the actual menu when dining out???) and got the iced kacang – a typical Malaysian dessert.

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I had no clue what this would be and looked suspiciously at my bowl which looked like it had a mixture of shaved ice, peanuts, some sort of syrup and red kidney beans.

RED BEANS.

In my DESSERT.

Clearly, I am a little slow on the uptake since the restaurant is called RedBean Kitchen. Of course there would be red beans in the meals.

It was quite nice and full of surprises as I tasted coconut milk, unearthed some bright green sago at the bottom along with a couple of lychees and these jelly-like things which I recall having in Vietnam but no clue what it is.

All in all – it was a good meal. The service was ok, and clearly because the place was jumpin’ jumpin’ they were a little scattered. But it was no biggie, Evs and I chatted away while sipping our tea and gorging ourselves.

The beef rendang was definitely the highlight of the evening. I’d go back just for that and am looking forward to trying to replicate it at home.

A couple of Indian girls also clearly thought we were the highlight of the evening as they kept sneaking looks at us. Have no bloody clue why but it was hilarious. One of the girls would be whispering out of the side of her mouth and then the other one would oh-so-subtly slowly move her head our way.

Subtle indeed.

 

TOMORROW… our first Food Safari meal at home.

 

When do you read the dessert menu – first or last? Ever had anyone obviously stare at you while dining out – what did you do?

August 25, 2011

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Food Safari – the adventure begins!

So remember my last post where I said I wanted to expand my culinary repertoire?

Well I had a brilliant idea.

It’s not a new idea, nor a particularly novel one, but it’s an idea that once it emerged in my mind, I couldn’t ignore it. And to give credit where it’s due, most of the brilliance actually came from the more brilliant half, but since we’re married and all and practically the same person etc etc I think it’s totally fair for me to say that it was mine.

Totally fair.

So there’s this TV show called ‘Food Safari’.

It airs on channel SBS here in Melbourne (It’s a free-to-air channel as I don’t have cable. I’m thinking that’s a good thing knowing my tendency to get hooked on really bad TV shows. I’m talking REALLY bad. Like we don’t talk about “Sweet Sixteen’ or ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ anymore in my house), which is renowned for it’s more world oriented programming and is a welcome relief from the drivel that sometimes airs on the more mainstream channels (I’m looking at YOU hundredth repeat of Two and a Half Men!).

It also airs world movies late at night, which I have heard that for any teenage boy it’s the thing to watch.

You know, because of the French movies.

ANYWAYS.

The premise is basically whereby the host Maeve O’Meara (I love to try and guess what outrageous top she will wear each episode) explores the cuisine of a selected country. She speaks to chefs from restaurants here in Melbourne and Sydney about the essential ingredients used in cooking, goes into local homes to talk about their favourite dishes and watches them cook it.  It’s great stuff, because everything is either made at home or easily adaptable to be made at home and the most amusing thing is watching her make orgasmic sounds as she bites into each dish.

I feel like I’m prying into a series of very personal moments.

Evs and I loved it, from the very first episode we watched on ‘Spain’ and drooled over the images of massive amounts of paella and thirst quenching ceviche.

Actually loved it to the point where we have now seen every episode and also bought the cookbook. Yes, the recipes are available online for free, but there’s something about having these wondrous meals bound together with beautiful pictures that you can lovingly flip through whenever you want.

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So – the brilliant idea.

Evs and I have decided to do our very own Food Safari.

Each month, we will randomly pick a country out of a box and then spend that month cooking dishes from that country. Not every night of course, but on the weekends when we have the time and motivation to create a majestic meal.

We’ve also decided that with the abundance of fantastic restaurants around in Melb, we’ll go out to eat at a restaurant of that country’s cuisine sometime during that month. It’ll give us the opportunity to try out some restaurants that we would have never have thought to go to and also hopefully discover some great places.

Last week, Evs came up to me with his hands cupped. In them, were numerous pieces of folded paper and he looked at me with a big grin.

“Pick one”

I squealed with excitement, knowing exactly what he wanted to do and then made him impatiently wait while I tracked down a decent looking box and pulled out the camera to document the moment.

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Stopping in mid-squeal (yes, I ran around the house squealing while collecting the box and camera), I told Evs to make the first choice.

And he did.

So, ladies and gentlemen.

Our first Food Safari adventure is…

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MALAYSIAN/SINGAPORE!!

I’m almost salivating. Right here. At my desk.

Somebody get me a tissue.

This is AWESOME.

For your reading convenience, I have created a new page at the top of the blog to write down my foray into international food. Bear with me as I get it sorted it out, but do check it out if you get the chance :)

This weekend, stay tuned for our first attempt at cooking Malaysian/Singaporean food.

Just THINK.

Singaporean Chilli crab, Malaysian Laksa, Coconut rice, Beef Rendang….mmmm…

Let the adventures begin!

What’s your favourite cuisine (own country’s doesn’t count :P )?? Ever tried cooking it at home?

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