Thursday, 16 November 2017

Chongqing Street Food - Sunnybank

Last weekend I was given an interesting tip off about the opening of a new ChongQing style restaurant at Sunnybank plaza. Aptly named Chongqing Street food, it specialised in spicy foods. Having previously been a part of the Sichuan province, you can already guess that the cuisine is based on the same spicy, mouth numbing, peppery flavours. I was keen to try it out, especially as they had an opening special of 90% off on the first day. So with the promise of a heavily discounted meal, I stood in line for TWO HOURS to get some lunch.

One of the reasons why it took so long to get in was without a doubt the fact that the restaurant was quite small and only fit around 10 or 15 tables. After being ushered into the restaurant, we were not given a seat yet, but rather took the time to choose our skewers for lunch and order at the counter.

Other than skewers, the menu consisted of a selection of noodles, cold dishes, dumplings and sides. Unfortunately almost all of these were sold out on opening day, and our order was literally "one of everything that is left".

Without a doubt though, the main attraction of the meal was the skewers. Apparently quite a few of them had already sold out, but we still had and adequate variety to make our pick from, including the standard tofu and fishballs, in addition to mushrooms, chicken wings and even offals. 

Bubble tea was also available, but we didnt think that mixing milky based drinks with chilli and oil would be a smart move.

Without much deliberation, we ended up getting 60 skewers between the three of us. 

After putting our order in and leaving the skewers at the counter, we were, of course given a number, and a little bin for us to dispose of our skewers when finished.

Our sides were the first to arrive, and served as appetisers. 

The crushed cucumber was really well received, it was served chilled with some garlic sauce. The cucumbers were really well crushed, so they were able to absorb the sauce quite well, making it quite a tasty dish.

Next we have the peanuts which were well seasoned, but had a soft and powdery texture. I would have much preferred the standard roasted crunchy texture instead. We had some difficulty finishing this dish.

Lastly we had a dish of black fungus, which was also chilled and quite crunchy. It too was well received.

Our main event arrived quite quickly to much fanfare. Not having tried skewers boiled in chilli before, we observed that other patrons didnt eat their skewers individually as you would in a barbecue, but rather unskewered them all into the chilli sauce, and we followed suit. Having settled with less spicy as our spice level, the dish we received was already pushing the boundaries of my spice tolerance (i.e. dont go for medium or more unless you know for sure what you're doing). As for the skewers, I found them to be a really good deal with the discount, but at the regular price of $0.80 a skewer, I would have difficulty buying a skewer which is essentially one fish ball cut into two, or half a chicken wing. The things we had though were generally quite well cooked, my favourite being the intestines which were chewy and soaked up all the chilli sauce. 

The only two noodle dishes that were still available that day were the Chongqing noodles and the bean noodles (which were essentially Chongqing noodles with beans on top). I quite enjoyed the texture of the noodles, they were quite tender without being overly soft. Again our soup was ordered with less spice but really pushed on my limits and left a numbing spicy taste in my mouth, typical of Sichuan cuisine. Whilst I quite enjoyed the dishes and learned a lot about Chongqing cuisine, this is definitely not a meal I could repeat on a regular basis.

Price Range: $15 - $25pp (regular prices)

Taste: 7/10
Value: 9/10 (due to the opening special)
Service: 7/10
Environment: 7/10

Chongqing Street Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 13 November 2017

Hong Tea - Brisbane CBD

Was walking through the city with Iron Fist the other day when the newly opened Hong Tea caught my eye with its well designed signage. Being in a rush that day, I didn't manage to stop and grab a drink, but made a firm note to go back and try another day. The week after, I was somewhat early for a dinner with a friend, so took the time to walk over after work to try out their tea. 

Arriving to a somewhat empty store, the standard selection of drinks were available to order, ranging from milk teas to fresh teas and fruit teas, although no coffee. I also note that drinks were slightly more expensive than what I am accustomed to, with a regular milk tea costing $5.00 already. I was given a number upon ordering, as well as a loyalty card as usual.

Limited seating was available inside, as the shopfront was shared with what appeared to be an export company. I grabbed a seat at one of the two tables and awaited my drink.

Before long, my tea arrived. I ordered the Pure Milk Tea, to better appreciate the basic flavours of the tea. I had it in medium size, with less sugar and half ice. Compared to my regular at Chatime, I found the tea to be quite fragrant, but even at less sugar to be overwhelmingly sweet with a somewhat unpleasant aftertaste. I also found it to be more watery than creamy which was a little disappointing. 

Price Range: $4 - $7pp

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

Hong Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 10 November 2017

Il Verde - Bowen Hills

Iron Fist recently went to Il Verde for a birthday celebration and since going he hasn't been able to stop talking to me about their food, especially the cheese wheel, which they serve every Tuesday and Thursday. With that in mind, I went with two girlfriends last Thursday to celebrate the imminent arrival of Friday. Given the popularity of the cheese wheel, we made a point to book in advance, which turned out to be a good choice, as the place was completely booked out and turned down several walk in groups that evening. 

Seating was split between indoors an covered but outdoors. Unfortunately we were allocated outdoors seating, but thankfully it wasn't too hot. I liked the menu which consisted of quite a few traditional Italian options with a modern twist. Two of us opted for the set menu that night, whilst our other companion ordered a la carte. The popularity of the restaurant that evening also made it very difficult to get the attention of staff. At times like these, I really miss the efficiency of buzzers at each table in Korean restaurants.


The set came with two drinks each, a refreshing apple-y welcome drink, and then a standard red or white after. We both really enjoyed the cool crisp welcome drink that was quite sweet to the taste. I also opted for white rather than Iron Fist's standard red, and found it to also be quite sweet and cool, but went down nicely.

Our companion's entree was the fried calamari. Whilst it came with the batter starting to fall off the calamari, it was in substance quite tender and flavoursome. The added salad and garnish gave it some balance, and the aioli kept it reasonably moist. 

Our entrees consisted of flat garlic bread and polenta chips. These paled considerably compared to the calamari. Both the polenta and bread were extremely dry hard, with each bite the hard crustiness cut into my mouth. Whilst the shaved Parmesan gave it quite a bit of taste and bite, I do think that the dish could have improved greatly with some dipping sauces or even some melted cheese (to go with the cheese theme of the set).

As for mains, my companion who didn't order the set went for a serve of Insalata di Bresaola, consisting of air dried beef slices with zucchini, rocket, Parmesan and tomatoes. As expected, it was indeed very fresh and tasty. I had some of the beef and salad, and found it struck a good balance between the crisp rocket and salty beef slices. Definitely a lighter option than what we had. 

Before long, the chefs came to our table with their little trolley to make our mains before our eyes.

During the whole cooking process, the chefs explained to us that they sourced their cheese wheel from Italy, and the dish was actually made with four cheeses. I loved watching the whole process.

The final product came topped with bacon as well as truffle oil. Having previously experienced the cheese wheel pasta at eat street, we were a little concerned that it would have been too heavy and overwhelming to eat alone, it proved to be light enough for us. The pasta was a little bit softer than the standard al dente, which I appreciated, and the cheese sauce was really rich and creamy. I loved the crunchy bacon and wish that there was more, and the truffle oil really added a fragrant scent to it. I found it to be a very rich and creamy comfort food type of dish, which could have been improved with a bit more stronger tasting cheese.

To round off our set meal, dessert came quite soon after our mains.

This was the panna cotta, served with chocolate syrup. I expected it to be a little overwhelming considering we had such a cheese heavy pasta, but it proved to be relatively refreshing, chilled with a smoothness to it that was almost like pudding. The chocolate wasn't too sweet, and had a rather strong cocoa fragrance to it.

My other companion had the Tiramisu, a classic Italian dessert, but with an added twist of orange zest. This added some unusual citrus tones to the otherwise creamy and nutty dessert. I tried some and found the mascapone concoction to be quite delicious but the dessert was need of a stronger coffee element.

Price Range: $40 - $50pp

Taste: 6.5/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 6/10
Environment: 7/10

IL VERDE Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

PappaRich - Garden City

After going to PappaRich in Wintergarden last year, I was expecting that sooner or later it would come and open down on the southside. As predicted, it recently opened its second Brisbane Store in the Town Square precinct of Garden City. After reading that they had a few teething issues upon opening, I decided to wait for a couple more weeks before trying it out. Arriving last Saturday at 12.30pm, it was peak lunch hour, and there was already a crowd outside waiting to be seated. Giving my name to the waiter, I was told it would be a good 20 mins before we could get a table. 


The wait turned out to be a little closer to 30 mins, but at least I could take my time appreciating their menu at my leisure whilst I waited. Having given my name to the friendly waiter, I was also not compelled to stand in line, I could find nearby seating to wait for my name to be called (whilst gaming of course).

After the wait we were given a table at the back. I liked how the decor of the Garden City Store was similar to the City one, the consistency really stroked my sensitive OCD tendencies.


Again, each table had a buzzer, which I found a very efficient way to get waitstaff's attention rather than trying to wave one down. Orders were written on the notepad provided on each table to avoid confusion, and I do prefer it over ipad ordering, as we could still have freedom to add comments to our dishes for any required alterations.


Drinks came soon after our order. My companions had an iced red bean frappe, an iced tea tarik and I had a tea tarik. The red been frappe was coarsely blended like traditional ones, with copious amounts of red been paste and fresh milk. He would have liked for it to be a little creamier and for it to have had some more condensed milk. Both the hot and cold tea tariks were really well received. They were rich, fragrant and smooth,  but the hot one was really very small for the price paid.

Our food came quite promptly as well. My first companion had Pappa's Special Nasi Lemak. It consisted of some of the most fragrant and tasty coconut rice that we have ever had, served with a large portion of tender curry chicken, sweet sambal prawns, and a side of anchovies, peanuts, half an egg and some cucumber. Having read before that other reviewers weren't too satisfied with their serving size, I was quite pleased to see that they had made significant improvements to the quantities served, and my companion was really quite satisfied.

My other companion had a hainan chicken rice. The boiled chicken came with chicken rice, a side of sprouts and also a bowl of chicken soup. The chicken was smooth and tender, bonus points for not being overdone, which happens in quite a few places, though the portion could have been a little larger. The rice, like the coconut rice, was done really well, and was infused with quite a bit of chicken flavour, whereas the sprouts were refreshing and cleansed the palate. The broth was also steaming hot, but could have been stronger flavoured in my opinion. 

My dish was Pappas Wat Tan Hor. It was some stir fried flat rice noodles, with egg gravy, prawns, fish cake, chicken, vegies and shallots. I also found the serving size to be quite ample in this dish. The noodles were well caramelised, with the slight burnt bits that I enjoyed, whilst the egg gravy was warm, smooth and comforting. Toppings were considerable and generous as well. Taking into consideration that it costs a bit more than your average Sunnybank fare, I did find the quality of food was also above the average.

Price Range: $15 - $25pp

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

PappaRich  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato