Thursday, 31 December 2015

Lily's Chinese Kitchen - Coopers Plains

With the end of the year nearing, it's inevitably time for family gatherings. This year, we had our end of year dinner at Lily's Chinese Kitchen at Coopers Plains on account of the fact that an aunty was good friends with the head chef there.

Decor is relatively plain, and the store had a decidedly red theme to it.

As the aunty was already familiar with the chef, she had ordered quite a number of things off the menu days ahead of the dinner. Menus were not perused, and we just got started off with the complimentary soup, which was a light dried vege and pork broth.

Some fried dishes came out first, with a plate of deep fried flathead, and a serve of deep fried intestines. We found it interesting that the flathead was served chopped up as opposed to a whole fish. Whilst not as aesthetically pleasing, it ensured that all surfaces were crispy and crunchy, and we could avoid the inconvenience of flipping of the fish over. As for the deep fried intestines, they were the highlight of the meal. With a perfectly crispy outside, and a juicy chewy inside, I really enjoyed them.

The main highlight of the meal for others was the steamed eel, which was served with garlic and blackbean. Being used to Japanese roasted unagi, this was a definite change for me. The biggest setback for me was that the eel was quite bony, as opposed to unagi, where presumably the bones are removed for you. Nevertheless, being steamed, I could really taste the freshness of the tender meat, which was particularly accentuated by the garlic and black bean.

That evening we also had steamed scallops with garlic on top. Whilst plain, this method of cooking allowed for us to sample the freshness of the scallops with minimal flavouring. The scallops were fresh, firm, and large but interestingly served with roe, which served as a bit of difference in textures.

That evening, we also had two large hot pots. one was a braised beef, and the other was a salmon head pot. The beef was well marinated, and the pots were both very nourishing and welcoming, although the salmon was quite bony.

The meal was rounded off with a dish of stir fried water spinach with garlic and ginger, which was fresh, and cooked just right. The chef came out at this time and ran us through a number of variations on his dishes, including a completely deboned deep fried eel, which I was definitely keen to try next time. 

Price Range: $15 - $30 per person

Taste: 7.5/10
Value: 7.5/10
Service: 8/10
Environment: 7/10

Lily's Chinese Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 28 December 2015

Moga - Rosalie

In my effort to eat ALL the Japanese food in Brisbane, it was inevitable that sooner or later I would be going to Moga at Rosalie, situated opposite Blue Room and Gelataria Cremona

We made reservation before hand and were given a semi alfresco table, outside of the restaurant building but still under cover.

The extensive menu was provided, and we started ordering. Food came very quickly after that.

First to arrive was the wagyu tataki, served with ginger, garlic, grated daikon and a sweet citron soy. Whilst the wagyu was very thinly cut, I could still taste that the meat texture quite chewy. Needless to say it would have made a very tough steak if it was served thick. For the price, the serving was also very small.

Our small sashimi came out next, consisting of two slices of kingfish, three slices of salmon and two slices of tuna. It was adorned with flower petals, which we decided not to eat with the fish. Whilst the fish was reasonably fresh, the kingfish was super thinly sliced, and the salmon and tuna pieces were also rather small.

This is the Salmon Negima, which was marinated salmon, wrapped around shallots, sansho pepper, and red onion, glazed with sweet unagi sauce, mayonnaise and topped with salmon roe. Whilst it wasn't mentioned in the menu, the salmon was slightly roasted to a point where it was slightly burned on top. It was a very interesting and delicate combination, with strong flavours coming from the shallots and red onion, giving it a bit of crunch to the dish.

Our sushi rolls came soon after. We ordered a Kamo River Roll, which was marinated duck breast and cucumber, which was wrapped in lettuce and topped with teriyaki sauce. We also had a crab roll. The kamo river roll was really quite disappointing. The lettuce was soft, soggy and as a result of this we had lots of sinewy bits stuck in our teeth for the rest of the evening. The duck was alright, but it was quite a small portion given the size of the sushi. The crab roll was one of the better executed dishes, being crunchy and hot on the inside and topped with crunchy tobiko. It was similar to my usual at Oishii.

Wanting to try a variety of dishes, we also tried the Chicken Tsukune, which was marinated meatballs. The price was similar to Birds Nest Yakitori, but the standard definitely wasn't comparable. The chicken quite bland, and the portion was again, very small.

Initially, we had decided to finish off the meal with the meatballs, but my companion and I both decided that we were only half full, so we ordered the Salmon Sasa Zushi, which has a piece of marinated salmon wrapped around a rice ball and topped with salmon roe. With the mention of rice balls, we thought that it would fill us up, but the salmon was quite unfresh (as compared to the sashimi), and the rice balls were rather small, being not much bigger than a piece of sushi. 

For the price that we paid for our meal, we could have gone to Sono and had change to spare. Needless to say we had to go for a late night maccas run not long after our departure

Price Range: $50 - $70 per person

Taste: 4/10
Value: 3/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 7/10

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

Friday, 25 December 2015

Julius Pizzeria - South Brisbane

One of the places I had long wanted to try has been Julius Pizzeria, but with parking being an issue, and apparently quite a long wait for a table (as my friends had previously told me), it only slid further and further down the list. With their rule of no bookings after 5.45pm, we made a reservation to go at 5.45pm on a date that we were sure to finish work on time.

Upon arriving on time, we were given one of the last free tables. The restaurant was bustling and staff were really busy.

I was lucky enough to be given a seat where I could appreciate the chefs making the yummy pizza. 

The menu was provided to us, and it consisted of two sides of A3 paper, covering pizza, pasta, mains, sides and desserts. Our order was taken not long after by a rather grumpy and snappy waitress. My companion was a bit concerned with this as he is always conscious to not offend staff (and other people who may handle his food), but he later noted that this appeared to be the same across tables. Perhaps staff were particularly busy that day.

Between the two of us, we had two pizzas to share. This was the Prosciutto Pizza, which had a tomato base, mozzarella and oregano. Having had pretty good pizzas at Sugo Mi and Alfredos, I was expecting similar fare, but what we got was on a different level completely. The prosciutto was sliced perfectly thin, generously layered on top, with a slight dressing of olive oil that complemented the mozzarella and oregano. The base was also one of the most delicious that I have ever had, being fresh and soft in the middle, whilst crusty but not too hard on the edges. 

We were surprised to be even more impressed by the Tartufo, which contained Mozzarella, Smoked Bacon, Portobello Mushrooms, Stracchino and Truffle Sauce. The flavours of the stracchino and truffle was a match made in heaven, and the mozzarella added a stringy delicious texture to the pizza, whilst the bacon added depth and meatiness to the dish. 

As a side, we had the hand cut potato chips, which were served piping hot, and were possibly the thinnest hand cut chips I've ever had. They came lightly salted, and we were able to appreciate the texture of fresh chips without any other distractions. The price was a bit steep though.

Whilst the food was spectacular, I couldn't help but feel disappointed on how much better the whole experience would have been if staff had been friendlier even in the busy environment.

Price Range: $24 - $30 per person

Taste: 9/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 5/10
Environment: 8/10

Julius Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Motion Bar & Grill (Marriott Hotel) - Brisbane CBD

With not many days until Christmas, Espresso and Matcha are looking forward to their long awaited holiday soon! Having said that, it was also time for my annual company Christmas lunch. This year we had it at Motion Bar & Grill, situated in the Marriott hotel on Queen Street, which was a step up from Jade Budda last year.

Being part of the organisation social committee this year, we arrived early and helped with the setup by putting decorations and bonbons on each table.

One drink per person was provided as part of the lunch package. I followed recommendations of my colleagues and settled for a glass of champagne, which was a cheery start to the meal.

Entrees started coming soon after we sat down. As it was a set menu with alternate drop, I was lucky to have a companion who was willing to share their meal with me "for research purposes". This is their entree, being the Mushroom, Green Olive and Parmesan Tart with Roasted Garlic and Seeded Aioli. Whilst she didn't enjoy the mushroom paste on top of the tart, we did find the pastry itself to be flaky and delicious. The rocket was a nice addition, which complemented the seeded aioli well.

As for myself, I had the Chicken Currant Roulade with Chestnut Puree, Chorizo and Herb. Having done some prior research on the dish, I was looking forward to trying this. Roulade is apparently a traditional European dish, which is made from rolled up meats filled with cheeses and veges. I was very surprised that at the lack of "rolling" in the meats, although it was ovular in shape and filled with some currants, it was vastly different from what I expected. The chicken had a very processed texture to it, and reminded me a bit of the old chicken burgers that highschool canteens would sell. The chorizos though, were nicely grilled and made for quite the appetizer. 

After a not insignificant wait (which was reasonable, as they had to cater for 80 people), our mains arrived. My colleague had the Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Honey Roasted Carrots, Spiced Labna, Mint and Pistachio. The general consensus between all of us was that it was overcooked to the point where the meat was tough but stringy, and there was insufficient sauce for the portion provided. The carrots though were roasted quite tender, and turned out to be quite popular.

Whilst my companions had lamb, I had the Traditional Christmas Turkey and Glazed Ham with Pistachio Stuffing, Roasted Root Vegetables and Cranberry Jus. To start with, the portion was significantly bigger than the lamb (despite it not being as obvious on the photo). Unfortunately though, the ham tasted quite ordinary, and the turkey also lacked a bit of texture. The roasted potato and parsnip made up for this though, and I really enjoyed the lashing of gravy on the side. I only wish there was a bit more.

Desserts were served not long after that. This was the Raspberry and Lemon Mousse with Vanilla Sponge and Elderflower Jelly. It turned out to be quite light and mild. A friend who had not seen the menu summed it up quite well in saying it tasted like "cream and cupcakes with berries". What I found confusing though, was the piece of printed paper that it was served with. Whilst the dish would have been a bit plain without it, it may have been less confusing if it had been decorated with chocolate swirls or something else that is edible.

My dessert was the Mini Christmas Pudding with Brandied French Creme and Roasted Cinnamon Ice Cream. The Christmas pudding had a texture similar to a brownie, with added fruitiness. As always, I love brandied cream, which always adds a bit of joy to every dessert, but the highlight for me was the cinnamon ice cream, which was an interesting addition as it was both cold and a little spicy at the same time. 

Complimentary coffee and chocolates were served soon after that, which rounded off the meal quite delightfully.

Price Range: $50 - $70pp

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

Motion Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato1

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Gelare - Southbank

Having gone to an early dinner with some friends one night, I found myself still hungry. After enjoying the riverside walkway, we found ourselves wanting something sweet. Faced with multiple options, we settled on Gelare on Grey Street.

The display was very captivating, with sundaes, waffles and pancakes as well as drinks. 

We ordered via counter service, and were given a number.

Between my friend and I, we shared the super treat, which consisted of a large waffle with two scoops of ice cream, in this instance, we had mocha and matcha. I really enjoyed the mocha ice cream, the chocolate chips were crunchy and ample, whilst the ice cream was smooth and rich. I couldn't say the same for the matcha one though, which was apparently vegan. It was very watery and sweet, which made me quite put off. On the other hand, the reason why I always opt for waffles at gelare is because they are freshly made and delicious, particularly because they are soft and warm, whilst not being coated with sugar.

I also had a cappuccino, which turned out a bit burnt and acidic for my liking, which ruined the coffee, despite the fact that  the milk was creamy and the coffee was strong.

Price Range: $10 - $15pp

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

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