Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Howzat Burger - Brisbane CBD

With all the new burger places popping up all over Brisbane, and a close friend who is a burger connoisseur, it was only sooner or later that I would accompany him to Howzat Burger (*^▽^*). 
Howzat burger is situated on the Valley end of Adelaide Street, close to All Hallows School, a brisk 15 min walk from the city centre. Apparently, it shares premises with Ecco.
*It was only after mentioning this place to a colleague, did he tell me that all the names at Howzat are cricket themed. Very interesting indeed.

Howzat's Adelaide Street Store has limited opening times, being open for lunch on Tues - Fri only.

Arriving at 12.30 on a weekday, the lines were impressive!

It took quite a while to find seating for three.

Upon ordering, we are given a number, and food is brought out to us.

The first burger that came for my friend was the fish burger. He thoroughly enjoyed it and commented that it had great flavour, but would like to try the pork belly burger next time.

My burger connoisseur buddy ordered 'The Don', being the beef option in the menu. He also really enjoyed his burger at Howzat, particularly the melty cheese.

He also ordered fries on the side. I liked how it came in a small bucket, its very cute and different to the normal types of packaging. The chips were pretty regular, and slightly on the salty side.

I snuck a pic while my buddy was eating 〜( ̄▽ ̄〜) I hope he doesnt mind too much haha 

Being an avid fan of bacon burgers, I ordered 'The Warnie', which in addition to bacon, had Monterey Jack Cheese and Wagyu Beef. Very yummy indeed!

The bun itself, was fresh and soft. The patty was juicy not oily. The cheese was very tasty, and the tomato jam was a good change from the regular ketcup that other stores use.

Again, my chips were also a bit on the salty side. I guess its a matter of preference.

Undoubtedly, Howzat burger is a great addition to Brisbane's burger scene. My burger connisseur friend still says that Miel Container is the best burger joint in Brisbane, but Howzat is definitely not far off. In terms of pricing, all burgers sell for $12 each, whilst sides are around $5. Not cheap, but not expensive for a corporate lunch, Howzat is good for a day when you need that little bit of extra encouragement.

Price Range: $12-$20 per person

Taste: 8.5/10
Value: 5/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 6/10

Howzat Burger on Urbanspoon

Monday, 29 September 2014

Nikumaki Honpo - Eight Mile Plains

One cold chilly miserable night, I found myself at Warrigal Square, and remembered that a friend had recommended that I try Nikumaki Honpo ( ´ ▽ ` )ノ. Of course being at the right place at the right time. I went. Nikumaki (肉巻き) is short for meat wrapped rice balls. Put some cheese on top, and it is the ultimate comfort food \(@ ̄∇ ̄@)/.

Its noteworthy that Nikumaki Honpo closes at 7.30 mostly, which is quite early. I'm sure lots of night owls like me would love to be able to eat hot meaty cheesy rice balls in the middle of the night.

The shopfront is quite simple, the menu only consists of two types of nikumaki, basic or cheese, with a variety of toppings, as well as several takeaway rice meals. 
Upon ordering, the owner puts the rice ball into the oven to heat it up so its piping hot, and then uses a torch to further toast the cheese. End result : very very hot rice ball.

So here's the my rice ball, all wrapped up in takeaway fashion.

Here's my rice ball in all its glory o((*^▽^*))o.

Nikumaki Honpo is one of my favorite establishments. It has a limited menu, but what it can do, it does exceptionally well. The rice was cooked to a very good texture, not too hard and not too soft. The meat was not bland, as well as soy, it had delicate sweet flavours to it as well. Not to mention it was not too thick or too thin. Just enough to give ample flavouring to the rice. The added cheese makes it more rich and comforting. If I could, I would come here every day ( ^_^)/.

Price Range: $4.50 - $5.00

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

Nikumaki Honpo on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Harajuku Gyoza - Fortitude Valley

Being a self proclaimed Dumpling Connoisseur (amongst many of my other self proclaimed titles). Harajuku Gyoza had been on my long list of 'places to try' for quite some time.♥(✿ฺ´∀`✿ฺ)ノ. 

Last month, Brisbane hosted its first Noodle Night Market. There was no question of my attendance. One of the highlights of that night were the gyozas at Harajuku Gyoza, the most crispy, juicy and overall delightful gyozas I've had in Brisbane. They brought me much needed warmth in an otherwise chilly night. Needless to say. I put a priority on Harajuku Gyozas on my go to list (◍•ᴗ•◍)❤.

Please excuse the fuzzy photo, I was shivering from the cold that night <(。_。)>.

Last Monday, after a depressing morning at work, I decided that I needed some cheering up. I had been saving Harajuku Gyoza for this type of day, when I needed more encouragement to get on life.

Harajuku Gyoza is situated on Brunswick Street, a good 20 minutes walk from the CBD.
I had heard from a friend that the lines were quite substantive, so I decided to beat the crowd and get there at 11.30, and ended up being the first to go in.

The first thing you note when being seated is that everyone has a unique plate, with a little sauce dish.

Everyone is also given a placemat menu

As you can see the decor is quite youthful and vibrant.

Upon ordering Gyozas, I was presented with a sauce set, which comprised of soy sauce, vinegar and chili.

The blurb on the placemat shows the recommended portions for dipping sauce. Without having a personal preference yet, I adhered to the instructions provided.

The round sauce containers were really cute and reminded me of Christmas Baubles.

Completed 'HsiaoFu's dipping sauce' haha.

My order of Tonkotsu Pork Ramen and Grilled Pork Gyoza came together, which was a good start.

Although I am a big fan of ramen, I cannot say that I am intimately familiar with specific details. What I do know though, is that there are two main types of ramen soup, one that is the clear stock base with a curly egg-y flavoured noodle (apparently Tokyo Style), and one that is the rich creamy opaque stock base and a straight white plain noodle (apparently Hakata Style). Despite all the hype about the creamy type, I am definitely an avid fan of the Tokyo Style Ramen, which was the type offered by Harajuku Gyoza. Whilst the soup and noodles were good, the toppings needed a bit more work. The pork was very very fatty. Indeed the majority of the slice of pork was fat, with only a little strip of meat in it. The accompanying egg also needs a bit of work, because it was quite overcooked. The eggs usually accompanying ramen are cooked to a point where the egg yolk is in a semi liquid state. As you can see from the photo, the egg was pretty much fully cooked.

The Gyoza, unlike the egg was rather less cooked than I would have liked it to be. The one that I was served in Noodle Night Markets were cooked to perfection. These ones could have been a bit more grilled and caramelized, but nonetheless they were very juicy and flavorsome. This is probably because I was the first one there, maybe their grills weren't preheated enough by the time I ordered.
A word of warning though, the chili was very hot, so small amounts are more than sufficient. 

In terms of price, for a corporate lunch, I find it quite expensive, coming to $20 for one person. This is especially so, for the Gyoza cost $8 for five pieces. The price of ramen and don are quite reasonable, but why else would you go to a Gyoza bar other than for the specific purpose of eating Gyoza.

Overall, it was a nice solid experience from Harajuku Gyoza. Not mind blowing like my experience at Noodle Markets, but still good. Evidently they had all the main components down pat (noodles, soup, dumpling skin, filling), but need to focus more on attention to small things (char siu, egg, bottom of dumpling), to make it a very very good restaurant.

 I would recommend this place to friends, but only if you had a lot of time to wait in a line, and for special occasions where you would be willing to splurge for lunch.

Price Range: $20-$25 per person

Taste: 7/10
Value: 4/10
Service: 6/10
Environment: 7/10

Harajuku Gyoza on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Little Red Dumpling - Sunnybank Hills

A new dumpling place opened in Sunnybank Hills last week, we only realised it when we drove past on our quest for lunch. Having just started this blog, I felt compelled to try it immediately ¯(°_o)/¯.

Little Red Dumpling is situated in a relatively busy shopping strip called Centro Pinelands, near Nandos and Coles. It had a rather small unassuming shopfront, we would not have noticed it except for the fact that we are intimately familiar with the area and noted that something looked different ┗(・ω・;)┛.

When I went there, they were in the middle of a grand opening promotion, where you like them on Facebook and you get prawn crackers and a drink for free.

The menu is quite short, with all offerings being covered on two pages.

The decor was very red, in line with their name.

Points for interesting furniture. Gives a funky vibe to the place.

The usual suspect - Soy Sauce. There is one on every table.

First came our drinks, iced coffee served in mason jars. A pretty contemporary kind of vibe compared to other Chinese restaurants. The coffee wasn't too sweet, but it could probably have been stronger.

Beef Rice came first, the beef was braised to be soft and has a 'melt in your mouth' type of feel a bit on the oily side though, but the flavour was really quite good, . The beef to rice ratio was also quite generous compared to other places which I have been to.

Xiao Long Bao came out next. This is definitely needs improvement. You can see that the skin isnt really thin compared to places like New Shanghai or Taste Gallery, not to mention it was probably overcooked, as the skins had already been broken because it was steamed for too long. In terms of what residual juices there were remaining in the Xiao Long Bao, they were relatively watered down from the water run off from the steam. The Xiao Long Bao was a particular disappointment for a place which prides itself on being a dumpling bar, the quality which was provided is what I would expect at a generic yum cha place.

Courtesy Sprite was then provided for one of our companions for liking their facebook page. I liked how they had the extra slice of lemon.

The next thing that arrived was the Chicken and Prawn Dumplings, which came with special dumpling sauce. There was a slight hiccup in the execution of this dish. While the Xiao Long Bao was overcooked, these were significantly undercooked. We raised this with the waitress as soon as we realised it. She was profusely apologetic and rushed off to have it replaced with a new plate, which was definitely fully cooked.
In terms of texture, the fillings in the dumpling were very finely ground, in fact one of my companions said it was far too ground up that you were unable to distinctly separate the chicken and prawn pieces, it was just a light protein-y mass. The sauce on the other hand was quite pleasant, being not too salty and not too spicy, but just right.

Next up came my other companion's drink. She has a particular dislike for cold drinks but wanted to their coffee. Kudos to the waitress who was kind enough to offer to make an exception and warm up the coffee for her.

Braised beef noodles came next, in line with the beef rice, it was quite oily but again the flavours and textures were quite nice. I wouldnt have it often, but it was really quite enjoyable.

Next came the highlight of the meal. The pan fried dumplings were delicious! Crispy on the bottom, juicy and flavourful on the inside. I'd say its on par with one of the best pan fried dumplings I've had in Brisbane. With all the disappointment from the Xiao Long Bao and Steamd Dumplings, I would return to Little Red Dumpling purely for their Pan Fried Dumplings(∩˃o˂∩)♡.

We were also provided prawn crackers as part of their opening special, but interestingly it only arrived right at the end.

Additionally, when we were paying we realised there had been a miscommunication between the restaurant owners and its waitresses, who told us that the free drinks included in the opening special had included coffee, when it was only juice and soft drink. After clarifying who had given us this false information, they decided not to charge us for the coffee.

Overall, I'd say it was quite an interesting visit, whilst their Xiao Long Bao and Steamed Dumplings needed more work, the beef noodles and pan fried dumplings were more than enough to convince me to return. I'd also like to add that with all the confusion of starting a new restaurant, their staff were friendly and attentive. I know a lot of places which would have declined my friend's request to have her coffee heated, but the people at Little Red Dumpling complied with our request without complaint.

Essentially from the experiences I have had in going to a newly opened restaurant, you can either be blown away by their quality and then come back at a later time to be disappointed in the drop in quality (*cough cough Roll'd*) or you can go in whilst they are still experimenting with what's good and what's not, be disappointed when they haven't worked out their processes, and then come back at a latter date to be pleasantly surprised with the improvement. Hopefully this place will fall into the second category (* ̄0 ̄)θ~♪.

Price Range: $10-15 per person

Taste: 5/10 (8/10 for the fried dumplings)
Value: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Environment: 7/10

Little Red Dumpling on Urbanspoon