Friday, 29 May 2015

Maru - Brisbane CBD

As an avid foodie, one of the tasks that I have gained in the course of my work is arranging company lunches. Normally we have lunches in the local gastros/bars, but this time I tried to shake it up by having the next one at a Korean Restaurant. Knowing that Maru was within 5 minutes walk from our work, that was where we decided to go.

We made a reservation for ten, and our table was nicely set up before our arrival.

I was quite impressed with the variety avaliable on the menu. It encompassed a lot of traditional Korean dishes, a lot of fusion dishes, as well as a large selection of both spicy and non spicy dishes, noodles, rice, stews as well as fried chicken.

The posters on the wall were really eye catching, though my colleagues and I noted that we were unable to read them.

Cutlery was the usual Korean Style metal chopsticks and spoon. Knives and forks were provided on a DIY basis at the counter. 

They had an assortment of beers and other drinks available. Whilst I didnt get any drinks, some of my colleagues got beers.

We were given a selection of banchan. The three types given to us included kimchi, potato noodle salad and preserved onions.  I was surprised there was no pasta salad that day,  as I am quite a fan of Korean pasta salad,  but the potato noodle was really quite crunchy and fresh. 

Since I didnt get to try out all the dishes,  I will just list out the names of some of the dishes we had.  This was the chicken bi bim bap. 

This was the seafood udon,  which was served with rice. 

This is the beef ziggle,  served on a skillet with a side of rice. 

The boss got potato noodles as usual. 

This is the teriyaki chicken ziggle. 

I opted for the creamy chicken omu skillet.  Omu rice is where you have a really large piece of fried egg wrapped around fried rice.  In this case it had chicken on the side and was also doused in creamy sauce. 

The general consensus around the table was that the dishes were really generous in portion sizes and a great deal for the price. As for my Creamy Omu Rice, it was delicious. I liked how they used medium grain rice, it had a really good texture. The fried rice was done really well and the toppings really finely chopped so that it could be wrapped nicely in the egg. I found the addition of the sauce gave it a lot of needed moisture to the dish. The chicken was also nicely fried and seasoned.

Price Range: $10 - $15 per person

Taste: 7.5/10
Value: 8.5/10
Service: 5/10 (waiters tended to miss us waving at them)
Environment: 8/10

Maru Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Hakataya - Brisbane CBD

Having recently been to Genkotsu and Taros, I thought it would be nice to go to Hakataya at Myer for lunch. I arrived to find a small crowd lined up. Thankfully the line moved quick, and I was able to order rather promptly.

I got a number, and seated myself at the bar. I immediately noted the lack of usual condiments. There was no chilli oil and when I asked the waitress, there was apparently one sesame grinder for the whole store. It was being used by the table behind me, so I didnt wanna bother them to get it.

My ramen arrived a while after, with a side of pickled veges.

The first thing I noted from this, was the significant layer of oil on top of the soup. As far as my knowledge of ramen soup goes, I believe that if cooked long enough, the oil should ideally be emulsified into the soup (like taros or genkotsu). The soup itself could also have been a bit richer for Hakata style ramen. One of the other things I noted was that the chef had put the meat onto the noodles last

I also found the noodles to be relatively undercooked as well, in comparison to any of the other ramen that I've had before.

I also got a side serving of Gyoza. I was actually quite disappointed by them, they tasted no better than the frozen ones that I pan fry at home. The skins were stuck together, and rather thick for my taste. I couldn't separate them without ripping the skin from the adjoining dumpling. The insides were also rather bland, and dumpling sauce wasnt provided to me either. 
Overall, I wouldnt say that I had a particularly bad experience at Hakataya Myer, but I will say that for a Hakataya store, I was rather disappointed with the quality. Given the numerous ramen places within Brisbane CBD, there are many better options available. 

Price Range: $10 - $20 per person

Taste: 5/10
Value: 4/10
Service: 5/10
Environment: 4/10

Hakataya Ramen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Boom Boom Burgers - Surfer's Paradise

Lately I received an invite to go to Boom Boom Burgers on Surfer's Paradise. It was a really lucky coincidence that I had a friend visiting from overseas, so we both got to try out Boom Boom Burgers together whilst taking him around the Gold Coast.

Boom Boom Burgers is situated on Chevron Island, which is a short walk from Cavill Avenue. It only recently opened three weeks ago, but has quite a social media presence. 

I noted the menu out from outside and took my time to peruse it thoroughly. I really liked how they had quite a diverse menu, encompassing not just burgers, but also hotdogs, salads, sides and tapas.

We were quite promptly attended to and seated upon arriving. We opted for inside seats as per my usual preference. 

The theme of the restaurant was decidedly American, with some really snazzy decor. 

Due to the fact we were invited guests of Boom Boom Burger, we took our time deciding what was probably most iconic on the menu. Kudos to the owner who saw our indecisiveness and came over to offer a friendly suggestion.

My friend had table water, whilst I had red bull.

It was served in a mason glass and served with ice, a nice touch compared to the usual drink in a can.

We started off with the Signature Puff Potatoes, with a side of Aioli. The puffs freshly fried and steaming hot! The outside was quite crisp and hard, and reminded me a bit of crab cream croquettes. The insides were really soft and fluffy. We really enjoyed it.

We shared the two burgers that we ordered. The first one I tried was the Pig Me Up. To be honest, I found the bun to be relatively average. I would have preferred a sourdough or brioche more, but I suppose it was to fit in with the American theme of the store. What blew me away though, as the 6 hour cooked pork belly. It melted in my mouth upon impact. I found the apple sauce and lettuce gave the burger an added depth. I found it to be quite delicious.

We also tried The Drunken Cow, which had an eye fillet soaked in whiskey as the main attraction. I was really impressed with how the beef was very tender. I usually dont like eating steaks in my burger for fear that tough ones are chew to break off, and I end up eating the whole steak and leaving the bun. I definitely did not have this issue with the Drunken Cow burger. The beef was very very tender, and infused with the strong taste of whiskey. The mustard seeds added quite a bit of zing to the burger, and the cheddar cheese was also really delicious. 

Whilst we were eating, we spied the next table across eating the signature smoking hot burger, which was served in a glass container. It was quite a spectacle being lifted off with smoke coming out. I will definitely try it next time I go there.

Price Range: $15 - $25 per person

Taste: 7.5/10
Value: 7.5/10
Service: 9/10
Environment: 8/10 (there were quite a few flies, which were distracting throughout lunch)

Espresso and Matcha were invited guests of Boom Boom Burger, but all opinions are our own.

Boom Boom Burger on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Au Cirque - New Farm

After the last time I successfully got up early on a weekend, I made a choice to continue on my early streak. After my sister went to Au Cirque a couple of weeks ago and wouldnt stop ranting about how good it was, I knew that I had to go soon. So last Saturday, I managed to persuade my confidant to go with me.

It was quite crowded by 10 am, and we had to sit upstairs. I found it new and interesting how the tables were shared, although my confidant really didnt like it as much. He much values privacy a lot. 

We were provided water very promptly after being seated.

The menu itself was quite simple, but most of the options were really quite captivating. 

I started off with a Cappucino. I would have liked it to be a tad stronger, and I found it to have a bit more cocoa than normal. When there is excess cocoa on top like this one, for me there is a real risk of inhaling the powder into my windpipe whilst I am drinking it, which then leads to really embarrassing coughing fits.

Our meals arrived after quite a significant wait. We shared them together. First up was the Croque Madame. I had one before at Pourboys on Adelaide Street in the CBD and thoroughly enjoyed it.  In this instance, the croque madame was very rich, having really thick cheese and mustard in a ham sandwich, topped with egg. Despite breakfasts tending to be one of the more heavier meals, I did really find the dish to be even heavier than normally expected for breakfast. It definitely helped to have a glass of water and coffee to wash it down. In my opinion, the highlight of this dish was definitely the fried egg on top. Being quite pedantic about the way eggs are cooked, I really like how it was still runny on top, but nice and crispy on the bottom. I also particularly liked how it was sprinkled with cracked pepper.

We also shared the Breakfast Pide. Apparently Pide is a a sort of Turkish flatbread. I liked this a lot better than the Croque Madame actually. I really enjoyed the bread, it had a really porous texture which was crusty but light. The bacon was also cooked to have a nice crispy edge on it, but I guess the most defining feature on the pide was the lettuce. Normally, I am not big on having salad on breakfast, but I found it really balanced the meal out in making it a bit lighter. Needless to say, this was definitely one of the better breakfasts that I've had, if not one of the best.

Price Range: $10 - $20 per person

Taste: 8.5/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 6/10 (would prefer food to come out faster)
Environment: 6/10 (not used to communal tables)

Au Cirque on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Kadoya - CBD

In my humble opinion, Elizabeth Arcade is like a miniature Chinatown situated within the CBD, you can find a large range of asian eats in there, including Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and a couple of bubble tea joints. 

Despite the relatively large variety of choices we have, when I go to Elizabeth Arcade, there is no difficulty in deciding where to lunch. Kadoya is always my first pick. It offers a large variety of Japanese set meals and sides. I've been going to this place since early in my university days, and definitely hold a soft spot in my heart for it.

Orders are taken at the counter, and numbers are given. Water and condiments are obtained by DIY basis. As an interesting point, of all the restaurants that I have frequented, Kadoya seems to have the fastest speed when it comes to food being served. I love the efficiency and it goes a long way in the tight lunch hours.

On this occasion, my companion ordered a Chicken Katsu Bento Box. I've had their bento boxes on multiple occasions, and find that for $13 its a great deal, because it ensures that you will definitely be full. I also find the rice to mains/sides ratio to be very generous. I have been to other Japanese restaurants where the bento box is half filled with rice, and half filled with mains/sides. At Kadoya though, only one quarter is rice, and the remaining three quarters are comprised of mains and sides, which means you will definitely not get bored with your meal. The added miso soup on the side is also a nice touch.

My companion and I also got a takoyaki to share. For $3.90, it was a good deal for five. I like how they aren't completely drenched in sauce, and I can taste a fair amount of octopus in the takoyaki.

On this occasion though, I ordered the Karaage Chicken Ramen. Compared to the Hakata Style Ramen (creamy pork bone soup with white straight noodles, e.g. Hakataya, Taros, Kenkotsu), Kadoya offers Tokyo style ramen, which I actually prefer far more (Tokyo Style involves a clear light broth, with curly yellow egg noodles). As usual, I was quite impressed with the noodles. The light broth really accentuates the egg flavours in the noodle. In this instance, the chicken was a bit soggy, but it was well marinated and quite tasty. The portion was also quite large and generous. I really enjoyed it.

Price Range: $10 - $20 per person

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

Kadoya on Urbanspoon