Saturday, 17 February 2018

Gong Cha - Sunnybank

So despite my personal preferences in bubble tea, there can be no doubt that there is a general consensus that the crowd favourite is Gong Cha. Be it the online reviews or public lineups outside the stores, Gong Cha is undoubtedly very popular. I guess that's why they considered a Market Square store viable despite the existing store at Sunnybank Plaza.

Wanting to avoid the queueing for a drink, I waited for the initial hype of buy one get one free to pass before cautiously making my way there to get a drink. 

Being located in market square I was pleasantly surprised at how spacious the store was and the abundance of seats both at the front and back of the shop. We ordered at the counter and was super pleased that there was no lineup (the line started the moment we sat down).

Our drinks were prepared quickly enough (far quicker than the Elizabeth street store). 


My companion opted for milk tea with grass jelly. He really enjoyed the crisp crunchy jelly, which was not as filling as his usual pearls. He also noted that the tea was fresh and fragrant, which he quite enjoyed. I had the Taiwanese green tea without sugar or ice as usual, to get a better appreciation of the essential tea flavours. I found the tea to lean to the stronger side of the spectrum with quite a bitterness to it which I appreciated, but this may not be a popular opinion. I found the bitterness so strong that to an extent it overwhelmed the tea fragrance, nevertheless it was a solid drink though not a favourite.

Price Range: $4 - $7pp

Taste: 7/10
Value: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 8/10

Gong Cha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ribs and Burgers - Fortitude Valley

Have long been curious about the quite popular Ribs and Burgers/Ribs and Rumps stores, so when we decided it was a good time to go out for a family dinner, and everyone was open to suggestion, I offered it up in lieu of the usual traditional Cantonese fare. Being situated along James Street, parking was no easy feat and was only achieved after considerable efforts were spent.

 A large menu was positioned at the door and the restaurant was surprisingly counter service. 

Given that setup, I thought for sure it would be table service, but I guess I was wrong. Thankfully my companions were decisive and it didn't take long for them to make a decision. 

After ordering we were given a canister with a number for staff to bring out food. Now we had initially asked stuff to give us a table inside the store, and despite the fact that it was completely full inside, staff agreed and asked us to wait, promising that the next vacant table inside would be given to us. Unfortunately, whilst we were waiting for staff to clear a table that had left, new customers had arrived and promptly rushed to grab said table and the staff didn't stop them. So in the end, we were unfortunately banished to the outside, when in my opinion staff members really ought to have stepped up and told the other patrons that we were already waiting in line. Despite the seating dramas, staff were friendly, and our food came quickly to be rapidly cooled by the wind =_=. 

Opting to share all dishes, it made for quite a spread. 

First thing I tried was that Lemon and Herb Grilled Chicken. Comprising of two Flame grilled breast fillets, they were slightly dry, but redeemed in part by the lemon basting. For such a meat heavy meal, the lemon added a twist of refreshment and tanginess which I quite enjoyed. 

Next we had the Flame Grilled Grass Fed Rump. Despite the considerable size, it was not too thick, which meant that it wasn't able to be cooked too rare. While the meat wasn't too tender, the thinness meant that it wasn't overly chewy. Taste wise, I would have enjoyed a side of gravy, but the basting on it was adequate. 

Next up was the Boneless beef ribs. These were my favourite of the evening, being quite juicy, tender and smokey, the parcels of meat melted in my mouth and bursted with delicious BBQ sauce. I really enjoyed it. 

Our last meat dish was the BBQ Chicken Wings with Ranch dip. Despite opting for the less spicy option, these were considerably spicy and the sauce was very very sticky. The spice was quickly cooled by the addition of ranch sauce, and the wings were quite tender and juicy which was well liked by a couple of my companions. 

Further to our meat dishes, we had three sides. First up was a bucket of chips. The quantity was quite generous and they were served quite hot but not too crispy. I would have liked some seasoning or sauce to make it stand out a bit more. 

While they chips werent crispy, the onion rings definitely were. They were finely shredded and fried to a crisp. Although served without sauce or seasoning, the basic onion taste was doubtlessly more exciting than standard potato chips. I really enjoyed them. 

Last but not least, the token veges to balance our meal were found in a dish of coleslaw. I like how fresh it was and how it wasn't drenched in sauce. The cabbage was really crunchy and we appreciated the refreshment immensely. 

Price Range: $20 - $30pp

Taste: 7/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 5/10
Environment: 5/10

Ribs & Burgers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Shinobi Ramen - Carindale

Living in the southside, I hadn't trekked east for quite some time, so when a friend suggested that we do some shopping at Carindale, I was keen to try out Shinobi Ramen, a Japanese Ramen Bar that I've heard quite a bit about, but yet to try. Being situated close to the relatively new and  extremely beautiful glasshouse, the store was in the middle of the shopping corridor, which isn't usually what I like (preferring the seclusion of a corner stall), nevertheless, we went to try it out.

Rather than a movable menu, the selection was printed on a plastic board on the wall. It was short, with four variations of ramen and eight types of sides, but that was more than enough for us. 

Ordering at the counter, we grabbed a number and awaited our food.

One of the highlights for the store was that the seats were placed all around the perimeter of the store, which gave me a perfect vantage point of the chef in making our lunch.

Being one of the earlier customers, there was minimal wait on our food, which arrived very promptly.

Between the two of us, we shared two sides, the Kaarage Chicken and Potato Salad.

Kaarage Chicken was quite tasty, being freshly fried with a crispy skin, albeit a bit on the fatty side, with considerable oil bursting out upon biting into it. Whilst the side piece of lettuce wasn't really that much, it did help balance the dish a little, on the other hand though, the wasabi mayonnaise was unusually sweet and not very spicy, so we opted to avoid it.

To balance out the chicken, we had a serve of potato salad. It whilst other potato salads that we've had before looked similar to an ice cream scoop, this was far chunkier, with very easily discernible pieces of potato, onion and carrot in a creamy mayonnaise dressing, which we really enjoyed.

My companion had the Original Tonkotsu Ramen, their signature dish. She found it to be quite good, although the egg was on the overdone side. 

I had the Black Garlic Ramen, which was essentially the same as the original tonkotsu, but with an added dash of black garlic oil. My egg was definitely done better than hers, although it was still cooked quite thoroughly on one side. It was served with three pieces of chashu, some shallots, black fungus and two pieces of nori. I really enjoyed the soup that wasn't too rich nor too overbearing, but struck a good balance, although the depth of flavour wasn't as good as Taros. The meat was very tender and melted in my mouth, whilst the shallots and black fungus gave it some added crunch. I did enjoy the black garlic oil, but I feel that the taste could definitely have been stronger.

Price Range: $13 - $25pp

Taste: 7.5/10
Value: 7.5/10
Service: 7.5/10
Environment: 7.5/10

Shinobi Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Love Malatang - Runcorn

Following my experiences at Narati, I was pretty hooked onto the concept of Malatang. Having heard that there was a pretty popular one in Runcorn Plaza, I made a point to drive over to try it out and see whether the hype was substantiated. 

Arriving at lunchtime on a weekday, it was not yet half full. Decor was simple and pleasing to the eye. 

Like most DIY malatang places, we started off by grabbing a bowl and tongs before proceeding to making our selection.

There was quite an impressive selection of foods available for us to choose from, 

but the quality of some, especially the meats, were a bit questionable.

Being the decisive person I am, my choices were made rather quickly and covered a few of my favourites.

As expected in a Malatang place, we weighed up each of our bowls before paying. Despite being weighed with the bowl in total  (no negative weights taken into consideration), the weight of the bowl was deducted upon payment.

Rather than getting a number for the table though, we got a number for each bowl we ordered, which I guess alleviates some of the confusion on the part of staff.

As with most no frills Chinese restaurants, cutlery and sauce was served on a DIY basis. 

I got my usual concoction of soy, sesame oil, garlic and shallots (a pretty unbeatable combination in my opinion). 

Given how empty the store was, our food did take some time to arrive. 

The three steaming hot bowls of soup came in quick succession, and were very well received across the table. Myself and one companion opted for a non spicy soup, whilst the other companion opted for a mildly spicy one. The soup base was extremely enjoyable, and the manager advised us that it was a slow cooked pork bone broth. Initially I had concerns with some ingredients being overcooked whilst some others were undercooked in the boiling process, but this proved unfounded. Although the meat was slightly more cooked than I would have personally preferred, it was still tender and had a good texture. I really liked how the ingredients and especially the noodles absorbed the tasty bone broth, and despite the hot summer, it proved to be a very enjoyable meal.

Price Range: $10 - $20pp

Taste: 8/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 8/10

Love Malatang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato