Monday, 29 December 2014

Shabu House - CBD

One of the things I enjoy most in winter is Hot Pot, where you and a group of people sit around a simmering pot of soup, and toss in raw meats and veges to cook it yourself. Its homey and warms you right up. Its one of those seasonal things that can be compared to eating ice cream in winter (i.e. only for those who are not faint at heart). Being someone who likes to challenge theories, I went to Shabu House despite it being summer.

Upon arriving, I was pleasantly surprised to find the place to be relatively busy for a weekday. We asked for a table of three and were promptly seated.

There are three choices of soups being Tom Yum, Miso and Fish. I opted for miso.

Now in my opinon, what sets Shabu House apart from all its other competition (Little Lamb, Bestaurant, 100 degrees hot pot) is that other than just hot pot, you also get to choose from a large selection of sushi. There were quite a few seafood options, including crab, salmon and tuna, in addition to chicken and California rolls. In my opinion, for a store that sells such a broad variety of foods, one cannot hold too high an expectation for the quality of individual dishes. To this note, Shabu House offers sushi of quite a high quality. I have had sushi in quite a number of more general buffets and each time I have found it to be quite horrible. No doubt it is not up to the same quality as Sushi Train or Oishii, but I found it to be really quite decent. The rice was well seasoned, the fish was fresh and the turnaround was high.

In terms of the hot pot itself, there was a large variety of foods to cook. For its seafood selection, it had some fish, prawns, octopus and mussels. Pretty decent for $32.

Water, like everything else was on a DIY basis.

In terms of meat, they have pork and beef as well as chicken. They also have a nice selection of noodles which you can also cook in the pot. Aside from this, they also have a number of pre cooked hot food such as fried chicken wings and fried rice which I didnt try (because I was too busy with all the other stuff)

Overall, I had a really great night at ShabuHouse. It's not exactly traditional Japanese Hot Pot (being run by Koreans), but they do make a great effort to make it as authentic as possible, and its a great deal for the price.

Price Range: Lunch $23 Dinner $32

Taste: 7/10
Value: 8.5/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 8/10

Shabuhouse on Urbanspoon

Friday, 26 December 2014

Oishii Sushi Bar - Sunnybank Hills

When asked where is a good place to round off a tiring week, one of my most frequent answers is Oishii Sushi Bar at Sunnybank Hills.

Located on Pinelands Road, it is one of the most efficient sushi stores that I have attended, with food coming out within around 10 minutes of ordering. Usually, its super packed and really hard to get in without a reservation. Luckily for us it was a really rainy night, and we were able to quickly squeeze in without a reservation.

We shared a pot of hot green tea between the four of us, but we found it was a bit lacking in flavour compared to other Japanese restaurants. No matter, this was not the main attraction of our attendance.

The first to arrive for us was the large salmon sashimi. It was very fresh and yummy and I particularly enjoyed their salmon roe, although last time I had this, I remembered they put more effort into the presentation, with some sashimi being shaped like a rose. 

One of my sister's favourite dishes at Oishii is the Tuna Avocado Maki. She has to order it every time we go there. One thing I do particularly applaud, is the consistency at Oishii. Every time you go there, you can pretty much expect to have the same quality of food. To this note, the Tuna Avocado Maki was well seasoned, and the rice was cooked to a good consistency.

This was the Tori Katsu Curry, it had a good ratio of Curry Sauce to rice, and an ample amount of chicken. I found the dish to be a bit small though.

Another of my sister's must orders is the Himawari (Sunflower) roll. It is basically a fried chicken sushi roll, wrapped in a thinly fried piece of egg in with some seasoning on top. The flavours of the chicken and egg were very complementary with one another, and we really liked this dish.

Next came the Red Bull, which was a crumbed (not tempura) prawn roll. As you can see, the rice to filling ratio wasnt as much as the above rolls, but nevertheless, it was sufficiently flavoured, and the prawns were very crunchy.

Without failure, every time I attend Oishii, I definitely order a portion of Red Dragon and Black Dragon. The Red Dragon is an Avocado Roll, topped with Salmon and Mayonnaise, whilst the Black Dragon is a Tomago and Cucumber Roll, topped with Unagi. Whilst this is definitely our favourite, I feel that every time I order it, the Salmon gets inevitably thinner and thinner, though the Unagi has remained relatively consistent. As with all the sushi above, the rice was well seasoned, as all sushi should be, and the food was fresh and complimented each other really well. 

The last thing to arrive for us was the Triple Treat. Three Salmon Avocado Hand Rolls. The reason why I always order hand rolls is because no matter which Japanese Restaurant I go to, they have to make them fresh for you. Obviously this is beside the point in Oishii, because everything is made to order, but nevertheless, I got them out of habit. The amount of salmon provided in the hand roll was very generous, with two thick slices in each hand roll, it was so big that it covered the rice. The avocado was nice and ripe, and the rice was well seasoned. Whilst it wasn't as good as Oshin, it was still really enjoyable.

Although the price is a bit high to go on a regular basis, I still really enjoy going to Oishii when I have special occasions, or when I'm in a particularly good mood. 

Price Range: $25 - $35 per person

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

Oishii Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, 22 December 2014

Miel Burger - Brisbane CBD

A week or so ago, my burger connoisseur friend left the country, just as I was about to suggest going on another burger hunt with him. In memory of him, a friend and I visited Miel Burger Container, which our dearly departed friend had highly recommended.

What I particularly enjoy about Miel Burger, is that they are very open to customising your own burger. Whilst some chains have no alterations policy, and some other ones charge quite a bit extra for alterations, Miel has half of their menu dedicated to designing your own burger.

One thing about the place though, due to the popularity, it is usually very hard to get a seat. It took us a while, but we finally squeezed into a tiny little table.

Without realising it, my companion and myself got the same burger, but on different buns, she had it on the sesame Ciabatta bun, whilst I got mine on the Brioche bun.

One of the major things which I find so appealing about Miel is the addition of a small portion of fries on the side when you order a burger. Whilst in other chains, I might not be able to finish a whole burger and a portion of chips, Miel offers a small amount of freshly fried chips to accompany the burger for free. As far as I am aware, this is the only burger place in Brisbane to do this, so it is very commendable indeed.

This was my burger, which came with the Brioche Bun. It was really nice and toasty on the outside, whilst being fresh and soft on the inside.

I ordered mine with the beef patty, tomato, lettuce, onion, cheddar and aoili. As you can see, the patty is just the right size for the bun, which was pleasantly puffy. The salad was fresh and the portion was ample.

On the inside, the cheese was melty and the patty was very juicy. I really really enjoyed it.

Our third companion, who was not very hungry that day, ordered the Miel Chips and shared them with us. We really liked how the chips also had the freshness of  the onions and tomatos on them, though we didnt like the sweet chilli sauce. The bacon bits were also a really nice addition.

We decided that next time we go, we will definitely have to try the chilli fries out, as well as the bulgogi beef burger.

Price Range: $10 - $15 per person

Taste: 9/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 6/10

Miel Container on Urbanspoon

Friday, 19 December 2014

Jade Buddha - Brisbane CBD

With Christmas almost upon us, it means that corporate end of year functions are also under way. My organisation, which shall not be named, held their party at Jade Buddha.

While there were a number of seats inside the restaurant, we were seated outside next to the Brisbane River.

To start, we were all given one complimentary drink each.

Half of my colleagues were served with the Lamb Rack. I hear that it was a bit over done to be classed as medium rare, and the sauce was a bit lacking, but other than that it was quite yummy.

On the other hand, I had the Sous Vide Chicken Breast. It begs the question, what is Sous Vide? Sous Vide is a method of cooking in lower temperatures in an enclosed bag to ensure that the meat is cooked to a consistent level throughout, whilst maintaining a level of moisture. To this point, I found the meat cooked really nicely. It was indeed very moist, and I particularly liked how the skin was done. I also really liked the potato, and the nice shape it was cut into. I found the chicken was heavily reliant on the sauce, to which some of my colleagues mentioned they did not have enough. Indeed, looking across at different plates, I realised the amount of sauce each person had been given was quite inconsistent, but so far as my own dish, I found it relatively pleasant.

Between the choice of the two desserts, the date loaf was the less exciting one. Whilst I didnt get to try it personally, colleagues informed me that the loaf could have been more moist, and the warm banana would have been better if we had been indoors with air conditioning, but the peanut brittle was really crunchy, and the vanilla sauce on the side was also really good.

Thanks to the person whom I sat next to, I got to eat the Chocolate Pudding. It was a very big portion for a dessert, almost eclipsing the main actually. The pudding was very very rich, and moist. Luckily we had cream on the side. The wafer stick was very crisp, but the ice cream melted too quickly in the heat.

For such a large event (catering around 60 people), I think Jade Buddha did a pretty good job. The service was friendly and efficient, but there could be a bit more consistency for the same dish.

Price Range: $20 - $40 per person

Taste: 6/10
Value: 5/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 6/10 (may be better if we had been seated inside)

Jade Buddha on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

World Food Markets - New Farm

Last weekend, the World Food Festival was held just outside the Brisbane Powerhouse, at New Farm. It had actually spanned for two weeks, but I didn't know that it was on, until a colleague asked me whether I went yet. So on Saturday, I called up a friend, and off we went.

It was a cool day for summer, and we travelled to New Farm via City Cat, the breezes were very refreshing.

The Brisbane Powerhouse is a decommissioned power station, which has been renovated and is now used as an entertainment hub of sorts.

While the crowds were substantial, they were definitely less than the usual level you would find at the Eat Street Markets.

Whilst Eat Street Markets are generally populated by food stalls run from shipping containers, the World Food Markets have gathered a number of rather popular food trucks from Brisbane and brought them together for the two weeks that it runs for.

Our first stop was Char Baby, and whilst I was set on getting some beef, my associate decided that we ought to try something unique, which is why we ended up getting the duck special.

I have very mixed feelings about this dish. The pastry was really light and flaky, which I enjoyed very much, however the duck tasted a bit course and overcooked. My associate also commented that there may have been too much herbs and spices mixed into the duck, to the extent that it was very overbearing and overpowered the flavours of the duck. Aside from this, we found the sauce tangy and refreshing, and the peaches were quite sweet.

The next thing we ordered was actually the poutine from Little Back, however since there was a 30 minute wait for the chips, we moved onto other trucks.

When asked what I most wanted to try from the World Food Market, it wouldn't surprise anyone that I said 'Sushi Neko'. I had heard about this food truck from a number of people, but working in the CBD, I have been unable to catch them during normal working hours. 

Between the two of us, we ordered the Takoyaki, and the Salmon Bento.

I found the Takoyaki to be hot and fresh, with ample amounts of filling. I would have liked it more if it was more crispy and had more bonito flakes though.

The Salmon Bento contained two temari balls, and two hand rolls. Temari are 'thread balls', so in this instance it means ball shaped sushi, which is a variation on the usual nigiri sushi. In both the Termari Sushi, and the Hand Rolls, I found the Salmon to be fresh and yummy. The rice however, could do with a bit more seasoning. Using soy wraps instead of seaweed for the handrolls was an interesting little change, but for the two of us, it felt more like we were eating Vietnamese rice paper rolls than sushi. Other than that, the avocados were very fresh, and I particularly enjoyed the tobiko on top.

After we were done with the Japanese food, we got back in time for a fresh batch of poutine to come out!

There is no denying, I adore shoestring fries. I love them much more than the average thick cut chips. So whilst my friend was saying that she would rather thick cut chips, I ate away merrily. The pulled pork on top was very soft and juicy. It was particularly nice with the extra mayonnaise on top. Needless to say, this was the highlight of my night.

Another vendor which I was very keen on trying was the Bun Mobile as I've heard so many good things about it.

Between the two of us, we shared one Pork Bun (by that time, we were really quite full). Now to be honest, I was quite skeptical about the buns, because it appeared to me to be a sandwich made with 'Man Tau' (Chinese Steamed Buns), which I am very not used to. Being a firm traditionalist, it isnt usually the type of thing that I'd usually try, but after all my friends descriptions, I had to try.

The bun itself was exceptionally well done, it was soft and moist with the delicate sweet flavour that Chinese Buns have. The pork chop was nice, and the whole thing went really well with the hoi sin sauce and shallots.

We finished off the night with a refreshing lime berry cordial from Heet's n Shaved Ice. It could have been more icy, but nevertheless we liked it.

Little Back on Urbanspoon The Bun Mobile on Urbanspoon Sushi Neko on Urbanspoon Char Baby on Urbanspoon