New Shanghai, Chatswood Chase ($$)

Address: Lower Ground Level, Chatswood Chase- 345 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW

Tel: (02) 9412 3358

Website: http://www.newshanghai.com.au/splash.php

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Wicko and I attended a menu tasting at New Shanghai in Chatswood.

Wicko has started covering a few more events for me as I try to manage work and blogging and transition to being a part-time uni student from March onwards.

This event was particularly appropriate for him  as he went to school in Chatswood so knows the area quite well.  He also is quite a fussy eater so I thought exposing him to something different would be good to develop his blogging palate!

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Atmosphere

The restaurant is located in the food court of Chatswood Chase shopping centre, so we decided to park in the centre and walk down.  This was a good idea on the way there, but was a little creepy when we had to walk through the shopping centre in the dark on the way back!

The atmosphere at the restaurant was a little different to what I had expected.

It was a lot darker, almost a little grungy and it gave off a “busy modern city meets traditional tea house” vibe.

The place was packed out with busy diners, quite good for a Wednesday night out of the CBD.

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There is a small drinks bar on one side, featuring prints of a smiling Chinese girl and a large printed umbrella.  The colours brighten up the dark space and the slightly faded look gives an “old-yet-new” feel.

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There was also a private dining room which was being used when we entered (this photo is from after the meal as I did not want to take a photo while there were people in there).

I loved the red, shiny bamboo wall paper on the walls, an elegant way to brighten up the space.

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Wicko and I also liked the glass windows (similar to those at Din Tai Fung), which showed off the skills of the dumpling and bun makers, kneading and rolling away until each dumpling was perfect.

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The final touches were the antique-looking carved wooden windows ….

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the red windows and bunting….

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and the bamboo coloured neutral table settings.

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Service

We were looked after by the friendly and pleasant Jerry, the Chatswood Manager who was overseeing the staff taking our orders and delivering food.

After perusing the menu, we ordered drinks.

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Some chose pineapple, some Yakult and others pineapple an coconut.

The drinks took a while to come out and all came out at different times but they were really nice and worth the wait.

Wicko chose a Kiwi Blended Ice which was not at all sour, like some of the kiwis you find here. It also contained large chunks of Kiwi on the top.

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Kiwi Blended Ice, $5.80

I chose the Lychee Blended Ice, which I found tasted like lychee jelly, rather than fresh lychee, which was not a problem for me as I love lychee jelly anyway!

The drink was refreshing but I would have liked some pearls or jelly in there like at Easyway and Chatime.

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Lychee Blended Ice, $5.80

The lovely Georgie, who was sitting next to me, chose the Strawberry Blended Ice, which came out topped with a couple of strawberries and some mint.

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Strawberry Blended Ice, $5.80

Food

Food. Boy was there a lot of it.

The menu at New Shanghai is seasonal except for the key basic dishes so in order to try a bit of everything we had both Dim Sim and Mains to share.

We started off with the delicious pillows of pan fried pork buns that were soft on top, crisp on the bottom and full of juicy pork.

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Pan Fried Pork Buns (8 pieces), $10.50 

Next were the Xiao Long Bao, pleated dumplings with a delicate and soft skin, these dumplings were bursting with broth and pork flavour. Delicious and quite a generous serving for the price!

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Xiao Long Bao (8 pieces), $7.80 

One of the more exciting dishes on the menu and definitely one of my favourites, was the Prawn Wonton tossed with peanut butter, red chilli oil and spice. The creamy, nutty flavour of the peanut butter (which you can see in the middle) was perfect with the spicy chilli and cool cucumber and the prawns were cooked until JUST done!

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Prawn Wontons with peanut butter and chilli sauce (10 pieces), $14.80

The steamed Pork Belly Buns were soft and slightly chewy with a tasty sauce, however, the pork was quite dry so I didn’t really like this dish.

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Pork Belly Buns, $6.00 (2 pieces)

The pan fried pork dumplings were great as they were so golden and delicious on the bottom, perfect with the vinegar and soy sauce.

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Here’s a photo of the bottom of the dumplings:

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Pan Fried Pork Dumplings (8 pieces), $9.90

After we had enjoyed the Dim Sim, we moved on to the Braised Tofu and Mushroom in Sweet Soy Sauce.

While I am definitely not a mushroom person and couldn’t handle more than a bite of these slimy looking things, I did enjoy the tofu, the glossy sauce and the braised greens.

Great for the vegetarians!

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Braised Tofu and Mushroom in Sweet Soy Sauce, $16.80

Next were the Stir Fried Claims with XO Sauce. The claims were well cooked, the sauce was sweet and a little spicy and the shallots were crunchy and added some freshness and colour.

Wicko also enjoyed his first clam, noting that he had caught one once on a fishing trip by accident.  Nice.

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Stir Fried Clam, $15.80

The Steamed Fish with Seaweed was soft and flaky, falling apart easily when prodded with our chopsticks. I’m not 100% sure exactly what the sauce was or how much it cost though as I couldn’t find it on the menu.

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My favourite dish, possibly of all time, had to be the Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab.  This dish was a winner all round and we enjoyed the super crunchy fried crab, the spicy chili and the well seasoned batter.  The presentation was also nice with some bright colours to lift the look of the dish.

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Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab, $29.80

Next we had the King Prawn in Ginger and Shallots with Vermicelli.  There were plenty of prawns in this dish, even if they were a little overdone and hard to peel (HOW do you peel prawns with chopsticks and a soup spoon!?).

The ginger and shallot sauce was tasty but I wasn’t a fan of all the noodles at the bottom, a little too much vermicelli for me!

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We then had the Salt and Pepper Deep Fried School of Prawns, which were the same as the soft shell crab, except crunchier.

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The Sizzling Seafood Hot Pot was next.  A pot full of seafood broth, steaming vegetables, tofu, fish, prawns and squid, this dish was something light that you could enjoy with fried rice of noodles, without feeling super guilty that you just ate all dat fried crab.

???????????????????????????????The Rainbow Beef was next.  The beef was cut super thin, battered and then fried and coated in a red sweet and sour sauce, leaving it crunchy and sweet.

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Rainbow Beef, $17.80

It was served with some steamed plain bread that you were meant to place the beef in, although I only ended up trying a piece of the bread and a couple of pieces of the beef.

The bread was light and pillowy and very cutely shaped so that they looked like little clouds!

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Finally, the last dish was the Fried Rice with XO Sauce.  The rice was so flavoursome and colourful and I loved the prawns and egg in there.

A great dish to complement any of the other mains, especially the steamed vegetable and seafood dishes.

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Fried Rice in XO Sauce, $11.90

For dessert, we shared HUGE bowls of shaved ice, ice cream, fresh mango and strawberry (yes, fresh!), and some condensed milk.

Despite half the dish being ice, once the ice cream and ice started melting the combination of fruity flavours mixing in with the ice made for a cold and satisfying dessert.

We were surprised to find that all this was only $10.80, however, you are only able to choose either mango or strawberry when you order this at the restaurant.

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Fresh Mango or Strawberry Shaved Ice, $10.80

Summary

The food was very tasty and there was so much variety, flavour and technique used in making these dishes.  Great value as well and large serving sizes.

The decor is traditional meets modern, and I loved the glass area where the dumplings and buns were made and the beautiful red and black antique looking features.

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-  8
  • Food-  8
  • Atmosphere- 7.75
  • Value – 8

TCFB and Wicko dined complimentarily as guests of Wasamedia and New Shanghai. 

New Shanghai Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kataifi Prawns (serves 3-4 as an entree)

This simple and quick recipe is great for entrees or just a light snack.

It is healthier than tempura prawns or prawn cocktails as it does not involve any frying and looks interesting on the plate.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 packet kataifi, kept out for a few hours until it is room temperature
  • 500gr prawns
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Seasoning of your choice (I used an African-style rub mix)

Method:

1. Heat oven to 200C.

2. Peel and de-vein prawns, leaving the tails on.

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3. Take some kataifi out gently and put it in a small bowl. Separate some of the strands so it is easier to work with.

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4. Beat the egg with a fork and add salt, pepper and your choice of seasoning.

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5. Lay the kataifi strands out in a long line. Place the prawn at the top of the strand and roll it down to the bottom until covered. Place on an oiled tray.

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6. Once all prawns are covered in kataifi, place tray in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until pastry is golden and crispy.

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Enjoy!

Destination Food: Sri Lanka and Singapore 2013

On my recent trip to Sri Lanka and Singapore I was excited to experience a variety of delicious foods and tasty treats.

I always love going to Sri Lanka and enjoying the delicious hot and spicy curries and pastries or fresh tropical fruits, many of which are hard to find or cannot be found in Australia. Singapore is also a fave of mine because it is so beautiful, clean, warm and happening and the food is always reliably good.

While I don’t have photos of everything I ate, I have tried to put some of them together to give my lovely readers an idea of the types of things we enjoyed!

So without further ado, here are some of my foodie adventures for Sri Lanka and Singapore 2013!

Sri Lanka

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Good ol’ chocolate milk out of a plastic packet. Cheap, cold and delicious!

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Pineapple and sugar bananas- very tropical!

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Fresh juices at Roots (like Boost).

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An old favourite that has been around for years, Green Cabin’s chocolate eclair and stuffed gothamba.

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Fish cutlets, a round ball of pan fried fish and potato, battered and covered in bread crumbs, then fried.

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Me with a King Coconut drink (thambili) at the fruit markets in Galle.

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Ambarella pickle- ambarella, chilli, salt.

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Food from Peddlar’s Inn at Galle- including the famous chocolate brownie!

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Green mango- love it

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Sri Lankan traditional milk rice

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Chocolate cake from Perera & Sons.

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Guava, wood apple and mangosteen- some fruits I definitely don’t see in Australia (except maybe guava)!

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Fab pastries- “Chinese” rolls, patties and sausage rolls

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Bayleaf restaurant, Gregory’s Road

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Rest stop meal on the way to Jaffna- egg gothambas, string hoppers, bread

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Steamed corn from a street vendor

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Orange Crush (basically Fanta).

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Thosai, also known as Dosa/Dosai, This is basically a crepe made from rice batter and dhal. It is crispy and slightly bitter, and can sometimes be made in a long round roll or cone shape.

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Breakfast fruit at the Jaffna hotel- pawpaw, pineapple, sugar banana and lime.

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Toddy – an alcoholic drink from the sap of the palm tree. Smells like hair products.

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Lunch at the beautiful Fort Hammenhiel, north of Jaffna.

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Beautiful golden Jaffna mangoes.

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Huge jackfruits on the floor- this one was about half a metre!

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More mini Jaffna mangoes

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Pit stop curry lunch near Jaffna – delicious!

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Lingan Ice Cream in Jaffna.

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Rio Ice Cream in Jaffna

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Toast pan (bread), kimbula buns (crocodile shaped sugar bun), malu pan (fish bread).

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Delicious Ministry of Crab meal, a restaurant owned by famous Sri Lankan cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, along with Sri Lankan chef Dharshan Munidasa.

Singapore

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What The Fries??? Hot chips with a variety of sauces, including the Singapore Chilli Crab sauce, which I tried.

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Popeye’s Louisiana Fried Chicken, delicious- like KFC.

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IMG_4990Bubble Tea- pomegranate green tea with lychee jelly.

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Macarons from TWG. Amazing flavours incorporating tea, such as Earl Grey Chocolate!

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Hilton Buffet Breakfast.

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Conrad Hilton fruit platter and complimentary chocolates.

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Award winning BBQ Pork and Chicken with Chilli Sauce in Chinatown.

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Amazing Haianese chicken – one of my favourites!

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Soursop and mango and guava juices.

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Mum enjoying a traditional Singapore coffee- she loved it.

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Room service breakfast at the Grand Park Orchard hotel.

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Red bean pudding with coconut milk, served warm- actually so delicious.

Summary

Overall, the foods I experienced were amazing and I can’t wait to return to Asia to experience more of it.

I’d love to hear what your favourite spots are in Singapore or Sri Lanka- I know the lovely Christine from Cooking Crusade has many great places in Singapore to recommend!

Please comment below with your tips and favourite restaurants!

Top Speed Thai, Willoughby ($$)

Address: 331 Penshurst St, North Willoughby NSW

Tel: (02) 9417 7500

Website: 

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Atmosphere

My family and I decided to check out Top Speed Thai on Sunday night for an early 5.30pm dinner. Located in the North Shore suburb of WIlloughby, TST is a modern-style Thai restaurant with pleasing aesthetics and a warm atmosphere.

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We were surprised to find that the restaurant was quite busy. There were three other tables of about 4-5 people and a couple of tables of 2. Not bad for a Sunday night. On top of that, plenty of people came in for take-away. A busy restaurant is always a good indication of the quality of the food!

The wooden tables and cute candles make TST look quite cosy, while the dark decor and pink and gold accents add some vibrancy to the space.

I liked the general set up of the restaurant except for the fact that some of the staff were making spring rolls and food on a dining table at the back of the restaurant, which was visible from our table. This was a little odd and I think, they should have used a screen to cover that area up if they were going to use the space for food preparation.

Service

Service was quite good. The staff were friendly, and food was VERY quick- we barely waited 10 minutes before we were served our first order although the food did not all come out at the same time. Further, our water was filled up promptly and our wine (corkage $2.00 pp) was cleared away when we had finished.

Food

To start off we ordered the Gai Satay, “tender marinated chicken breast on skewers, grilled and served with peanut sauce.”

This dish was delicious and was served with a sweet watermelon flavoured syrup with chilli floating in it, and a thick, crunchy peanut satay sauce. The chicken was delicious and moist and the dish was a winner with all of us!

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Gai Satay, $7.90

Next up were the Curry Puffs, “assorted vegetables cooked with Thai herbs and curry powder, then wrapped in puff pastry and served with sweet chilli sauce.”

This dish was great too. The pastry was lovely and crispy, obviously fresh and made hot to order. The filling was quite spicy, but that’s exactly how it should be so I was quite happy with this dish.

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Curry Puffs, $6.90

For mains we ordered Cashew Chicken with Chilli Jam Sauce which was a chicken stir fry with cashews, vegetables including onions, broccoli and carrots, chilli jam and chillis. This is usually a classic Thai dish and one of my favourites but I was disappointed that the sauce wasn’t darker and thicker. It wasn’t very flavoursome and although it tasted OK, was a bit of a let down for me given my love of this dish.

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Cashew Chicken with Chilli Jam Sauce, $16.90

Next up was Satay Beef which contained strips of beef stir-fried with vegetables in a peanut sauce. I did enjoy this dish and my brother loved it, having a second serving and pouring all the sauce into his bowl!

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Satay Beef, $16.90

We also ordered the Volcano from the Sea, “a steamed combination of seafood (prawn, fish fillet, squid, mussels, scallops and egg) in red curry sauce and coconut milk.”

This came to the table on fire, with some oil around the foil being lit for special effect and to keep the dish warm. What a dramatic entrance! Once the fire went out we opened up the foil to find a delicious creamy coconut sauce with perfectly cooked seafood inside. There were also some steamed leaves (bok choy) in the bottom of the dish, but we didn’t eat them as they seemed a little odd in a creamy curry and we were beginning to get full. However, all up the curry tasted delicious and for mum and I, was a favourite.

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Volcano from the Sea, $22.90

Finally we ordered the Lamb Cutlets in Massaman Curry. This dish consisted of 4 lamb cutlets with massaman sauce, Thai spices, baby potatoes and cashew nuts. It was delicious. Although the serving was quite small, the lamb was very tender and soft. The curry was creamy and rich and the dish was very well presented. The soft, starchy potatoes were great with the creamy sauce. A fantastic dish which is quite different from the usual Thai fare!

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Lamb Massaman Cutlets, $20.90

We also had steamed rice to go with the food, at $3.00 per person.

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Cost

I had a voucher for dinner for two which cost $40.00 on Groupon. I decided to take my family along as well and so we ended up paying another $45.00 for their meals. All up dinner cost $85.00.

Rating:

Overall I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 7
  • Food- 7.75
  • Ambience- 7
  • Value – 8

Top Speed Thai on Urbanspoon

Buddha Belly, Terry Hills ($$)

Address: 327 Mona Vale Rd  Terrey Hills NSW

Tel: (02) 9450 1504

Website: http://www.thebuddhabelly.com.au/

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Atmosphere

Buddha Belly is situated in Terry Hills gardens, just off Mona Vale Road. It is a tranquil spot, surrounded by bamboo, trees, a koi pond and a cute little store selling decor and furnishings from Bali.

All of this combine to make it a pleasant place to relax and enjoy a coffee or a meal. Prowsey and I headed over to Buddha Belly upon discovering that Plan A (Butcher’s Block) and Plan B (Sous le soleil) were closed on Sundays.

Service

Upon arriving we were greeted at the door by a young guy who led us to a table. During our time there we were helped by another waiter who was also young, and who seemed a little inexperienced and shy. However he took our orders with accuracy and politeness and we didn’t have any problems with service at all.

Food

We started off with drinks. I ordered a Summer Morning (pineapple, passionfruit and mint) juice ($7.50), while Prowsey had a smoothie (also $7.50). My juice was delicious. It had a fresh minty smell and a slightly sour tang of passionfruit mixed with the sweetness of pineapple- delicious!

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Summer Morning Juice

For entrees we ordered Sourdough Bread with Olive Oil and Balsamic Dukkah ($3.00). This entree included a large piece of bread, some delicious tangy balsamic and mellow olive oil, and a great dukkah mix of spices, herbs and sesame seeds. Delicious. It was a perfect serving for us to start off the meal without getting too full and was pretty cheap too!

For mains, Prowsey and I both ordered the Summer Salad ($27.00), which was a salad of smoked trout and crab meat, king prawns, green mango, paw paw, onion, cucumber, wakame, cherry tomatoes, herbs (including mint and parsley), and wasabi mayonnaise (taken from the menu).

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The salad was delicious. There was plenty of it and there was a high seafood to salad ratio. The dressing was delicious and creamy, while the leaves and tomatoes were refreshing and light. The seafood was cooked perfectly and the smoked trout really added to the complexity of the dish. At the end of this we felt satisfied and full but weren’t in a food coma from fatty carb-loaded food!

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After lunch, I had a chai tea ($3.80) and Prowsey had a cappuccino ($3.30). My tea was a little weak as I think one tea bag for that pot of water wasn’t enough (I prefer a strong chai tea with lots of milk and a bit of honey!).

Cost:

Overall our entrees, meals, drinks and coffee came to about $40 each.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 5.5
  • Food- 7.5
  • Ambience- 7.5
  • Value –7

Buddha Belly on Urbanspoon

Barramundi Bar & Grill, Sydney ($$)

Address: Cnr Lang and Jamison St  Sydney NSW 2000

Tel: (02) 9252 4726

Website: http://barramundibarandgrill.com.au/

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Atmosphere

Atmosphere was pretty quiet for a Thursday night. This may have something to do with the location, being in the middle of the CBD rather than near the entertainment hotspots of Darling Harbour, Circular Quay or Chinatown.

It was mostly filled with older people and the atmosphere was more refined and relaxed,

Service

Service was good, they staff were friendly and nice and the experience was altogether enjoyable.

Food

SenoritaLay and I had a deal to get the Seafood Platter wine a bottle of wine. We ordered a white wine and could barely finish the bottle as we were both quite tired and are lightweights!

The seafood platter contained lobster mornay, salt & szuchuan pepper calamari, soft shell crab, grilled prawns, beer battered fish and mornay scallops in the shell.

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SenoritaLay with the seafood platter

The battered fish was tasty but was not crispy at all, the grilled prawns were dry and overcooked, the mornay was OK but a little floury, there was only half a lobster, and the chips were soggy and lacked salt. Overall, the platter was a little disappointing. I was grateful for the side salad which came with it as all the fried food was a bit overpowering and heavy.

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Cost

SenoritaLay and I used a deal, paying $25 each. The platter is normally $110 on the menu.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 6.5
  • Food- 5.5
  • Ambience- 6.5
  • Value –7.5

Barramundi Cafe on Urbanspoon

Seafood Marinara with Angel Hair Pasta (serves 6)


This was the perfect quick and easy dinner for MC and the fam last night. Everyone enjoyed it and it only took a short while to prepare. The marinara can be substituted with prawns or other seafood as well.

Ingredients:

  • 500gr angel hair pasta
  • 750gr seafood marinara mix
  • 250gr snow peas- washed and with the ends cut off
  • 4 Tsp minced garlic (or equivalent fresh, chopped garlic)
  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Fresh herbs (I used basil and parsley from my herb garden)
  • Olive oil
  • Chilli flakes to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Prepare pasta according to instructions on back of packet. When al dente, rinse under cold running water until room temperature and leave to sit in a colander (this stops the cooking).

2. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan (on high). When hot, add garlic and onion and stir fry until onion turns clear and slightly golden. Add chilli flakes (I added about 5 tsp but it depends on your preference and the intensity of the chilli you have), and toss.

3. Add seafood to the pan, stir and cover for about 5 minutes.

4. Add snow peas and toss until they change colour (darker green).

5.Add the lemon juice and wedges to the pan.

6. Season with salt, pepper and more chilli if desired.

7. Drizzle with olive oil and toss through chopped fresh herbs.

Enjoy!

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