Monday, 29 February 2016

Sushia Bar - Brisbane CBD

Working near Eagle Street means that to and from work, I often walk through Queens Plaza. As a result, new things that open there are easy to catch my eye. An example of this is the Sushia fresh bar which opened on the ground level not long ago, and had me at the bright yellow decor and large variety of foods.

With a friend working nearby, we grabbed some sushi to eat at the foodcourt.

I was particularly impressed with the large variety of nigiri on offer. Last time I was overseas, I often frequented sushi bars which had individual nigiri for sale. This really reminded me of my trip, that is, up until I actually ate it. The whole sushi was quite cold, to the extent where the rice was quite hard, and the toppings lost their freshness. Whilst I understand that health requirements may require made sushi to be chilled, if they were freshly made on the spot, this would mean that the sushi could be room temperature.

Other than the nigiri, I also got a salmon bento, which consisted of another five salmon nigiri, and four pieces of salmon sushi. The salmon pieces, whilst fresh, and tolerable chilled, were very thinly sliced. As such, I found it to be rather disappointing.

My companion also ordered two large rolls for over $3 each. Again, they were both cold, and the rice harder than he would have liked. He found the aburi salmon to be particularly thinly sliced. 

Our meal at Sushia definitely satisfied a long term curiosity for food which had been on my mind for quite a while, however given the options available in Brisbane CBD, I would definitely be opting for Sushi Edo or Nigi Nigi instead.

Price Range: $10 - $20pp

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

Sushia Fresh Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 26 February 2016

Vapiano - Garden City

With Garden City's refurbishment over the last several years, Town Square has been the location of numerous restaurant openings. One of which is Vapiano, an Italian restaurant that I regularly frequent in Albert Lane. Their opening in Garden City meant that I do not have to drive (and hunt for parking) to the CBD to get an Italian fix.

We arrived on a Friday afternoon to see the line was quite extensive.

But the service was still very friendly, and the pasta was being freshly made.

Despite the line being very long, we were given some pizza to eat during our wait. The crust was freshly made, and thin (though not as thin as Julius Pizzeria). It had olive oil and rosemary on top, which really accentuated the fresh doughy taste of the base, whilst providing light flavouring on top.

After ordering, we found or own tables in the upstairs dining area. As usual, there were pot plants on our tables, full of herbs. This evening, we had basil and thyme. 

My main of choice was the Carbonara, which contains a comforting combination of bacon, cheese, and egg in a creamy white sauce in addition to chopped onions and garlic. The pasta was deliciously fresh, and cooked al dente, but the sauce was rich and thick in the sense that one feels quite full and bloated after several mouthfuls. Having said that, I found the bacon to be particularly tasty, and would have enjoyed it much more if there were more bacon in the dish.

My companion had the traditional Spaghetti Bolognaise. The sauce was definitely a lot lighter in comparison to the Carbonara, the tomato sauce was fresh and tasty, and the added pepper gave the dish a lot of zing, but there was very little meat to the dish. Whilst the sauce clung to the spaghetti well, more meat would have substantially improved the meal.

Whilst the meal was delicious, I could not settle without trying a desert from the inviting cabinet. Ever eager to try a rendition of my favourite desert, I settled on the obvious choice – Tiramisu. It is sponge soaked in coffee and syrup with a blend of mascarpone cream and cocoa. The cream and mascarpone was light and very delightful, and the sponge was strongly doused with espresso, which I always appreciate. The portion size was good for its price, and I consider it to have been one of the better commercial Tiramisus that I have tasted. 

Overall I found Vapiano to be quite satisfying in scratching my Italian itch. The signature al dente pasta and live cooking of the pasta is still the strong point for the Vapiano chain and Garden City is no exception. I definitely look forward to my next visit.

Price Range: $20 - $30pp

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

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

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Hot Cake House - Sunnybank

Feeling peckish one Friday afternoon, a friend and I decided to get a quick snack at Sunnybank before going home. On a whim, we headed to Hot Cake House, for a yummy traditional Taiwanese Snack.

Despite being called Tokyo Pancakes, they are undoubtedly Taiwanese. Recently they have been doing a special where you buy three and the fourth one is complimentary.

With most of the flavours at around $1.00, it is very affordable, and a good alternative from the usual cake and doughnuts.

Pursuant to the deal, we ordered three and got four. They were served piping hot and fresh in a paper bag for consumption.

This was the Green Tea and the Chocolate flavoured hot cake. The insides were both very hot, but somewhat lumpy, as if they had not made sure the filling was well mixed. Nevertheless, it was still quite delicious, particularly the authentic tasting matcha.

Further to this, we had some of the more interesting flavours including the blueberry custard, and strawberry sweetie. Whilst the blueberry one had blueberry jam, the strawberry one actually had a strawberry mixed in with the custard. I found it particularly nice too, as the strawberry one had strawberry batter on the outside.

Price Range: $1 - $2 per piece

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

Hot Cake House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Yangs Cuisine Traditional Taiwanese Food - Sunnybank Hills

For those of my readers who have heard of my friend, the Burger Connoisseur, he is not merely a burger fan, but also a devout lover of Taiwanese Food. With this in mind, last time we had dinner, we went to Yang's Cuisine on Pinelands for authentic Taiwanese food.

We grabbed a table, and some menus. Just like Shin Yuan, we had to order and pay at the counter before food would come. Interestingly we did not get a number, and they were able to bring out our food without any hassle.

Like most Taiwanese restaurants like Kingsfood, we had unlimited light broth (but no water). The soup was much stronger in taste than Shin Yuan, and I found this much more enjoyable.

Most of the meals came out in this set which contained rice or noodles, a main and a couple of side dishes. This was the braised beef, which one companion had. I didn't have it on this instance, but the braised beef at Yangs is usually quite tender and soft, but strongly seasoned. It makes for a very nourishing comfort food.

Another had the deep fried pork chop, which was battered with potato starch (which is one of the more prevalent batters in Taiwan. The rice was also topped with delicious braised pork, which added taste to the plain rice. Being a fan of short grain rice, I'd like to make mention to the fact that they used traditional short grain like the Taiwanese usually use. There were two types of veges on the side, some pickled cabbage, and some stir fried Chinese greens with garlic, that balanced out the meal quite a bit. My companion would have liked there to have been a second piece of pork chop though.

Burger Connoisseur got the deep fried chicken bites, served with rice. Interestingly, the chicken bites were coated in a flour base rather than potato starch, Burger Connoisseur said he liked it more than his usual chicken fillets. 

I enjoyed the deep fried chicken fillet, served with noodles. Whislt it didnt come with side dishes like the rice did, I was in the mood for noodles. The chicken fillet, whilst definitely far smaller than Hot Star, had similar seasoning and batter. The portion of noodles provided was also very large, and topped with delicious braised pork and some greens. The soup was steaming hot and the noodles had a good texture. Like my companion, I wish there could have been a bit more chicken though.

In addition to our meals, we also had two snacks to share between the four of us. We had a portion of deep fried tofu, and pan fried dumplings. Both were huge, considering they were only snacks. They were both very crispy and delicious. It came with a sweet tangy barbecue sauce. Whilst the dumplings didn't contain soup, I still found it quite juicy.

Price Range: $10 - $20pp

Taste: 8/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 5/10
Environment: 7/10

Yang's Cuisine Traditional Taiwanese Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Shouk Cafe - Paddington

Having acquired the ability to wake up before midday on a weekend, and feeling a little adventurous, we decided to have the first brunch of the new year at the highly popular Shouk Cafe in Paddington. In fact, highly popular was quite the understatement, with a group of people waiting outside, and we were told that the wait for a table would be 40 minutes. With that, the waitress took our name and number, and we headed around to browse the nearby antique stores until we were called back after around 35 mins (because apparently some of the people decided to head elsewhere cos they didnt want to wait too long). 

We were given a table at the back, which was still quite humid, despite the air-conditioning. At least we had a very good view out back.

The weekend menu had a selection of all day breakfasts, lunch meals, drinks and sides. We noticed the mention of the avocado shortage, which meant that no avocado dishes were to be served. Water was provided to us pretty quickly, but unfortunately the water was warm, when we had much preferred chilled. 

Our drinks arrived rather promptly, but we were told that we were not able to order until another table (who were apparently still deciding) had ordered. My companion, who had previously worked in the hospitality was surprised, because when he worked as a waiter, people's orders were taken not by order of arrival, but by when patrons were ready to order. Nevertheless, we waited for the other table to finish deciding before ordering. 

My companion had the English Breakfast, which he found comforting, whilst strong, and impressively loose leaf rather than a teabag, but he needed more than one packet of sugar. Luckily for him, I do not take my coffee with sugar, so I gave him mine.

I had a cappuccino, which was served with most of the cocoa dissolved, which was welcome. It was reasonably strong and had a good aftertaste, but the foam could have been a bit richer.

After waiting another 30 minutes or so (thankfully I had not arranged to meet anyone after lunch, as we would have been super late), our food came.

My companion and I shared our meals, and the first one I tried was the Salmon Latke Stack. As a point of reference, Latke is a potato pancake made with grated potato, flour and eggs. I had the stack with the smoked salmon option, and it was served with poached eggs and garnished with some preserved onions. I enjoyed the eggs immensely, as they were done very well to keep the liquid yolk. As for the stack, the Latkes were an interesting variation on our usual hash browns, but I found them quite flour-y. The sour cream on top gave it quite a bit of creaminess and added an extra dimension to the taste too.

The other meal was the Jackson, which consisted of two eggs, a Merguez sausage, grilled mushroom, braised kale, bacon, sourdough toast and another piece of Latke. The eggs were also executed very well, with a slight crispy edge and a nice runny yolk. The Merguez Sausage (which is an Arabic beef and mutton sausage) was very strong in flavour and quite spicy for a breakfast. The sourdough was soft on the inside but crusty on the outside, which made it quite tasty with butter. I didnt enjoy the kale that much, because I prefer my greens to be crisp and crunchy, but my companion said that it made the meal very wholesome. He also enjoyed the mushroom very much and said it was well seasoned. What we found interesting though was the presence of bacon in a middle eastern themed breakfast where pork is not usually served. 

Whilst I enjoyed my meal at Shouk, I considered the wait quite disappointing, and although it was a unique and interesting experience, it still doesn't top our favourite breakfast joint, Double Shot.

Price Range: $20 - $30 pp

Taste: 7.5/10
Value: 6/10
Service: 5/10 (very long wait times, although service was friendly)
Environment: 6/10

Shouk Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato