Friday, 30 December 2016

Otto - Brisbane

A couple weeks ago, one of the big big bosses at work dragged me into his office, which instantaneously brought on some serious anxiety about what it could be about. Turns out he only called me in to tell me (in minute detail) about an excellent meal that he had in Quay in Sydney. After doing a bit of digging, I realised that whilst Brisbane doesn't have its own Quay, the owners have created a little Italian restaurant by the river, which is why I dragged a colleague to go try it with me as and end of year celebration.

We arrived somewhat early at 12 and were greeted with a warm welcome and an epic view of the Story Bridge. 

Having come here on a spontaneous whim, we did not have a reservation, and the restaurant was full. Luckily for us though, they still made room for us by seating us on the kitchen bench, where we could watch at the chefs as they crafted the food. My companion ordered a red wine and I a water, which was brought out very quickly.

The food menu consisted of two pages, with a selection of starters, entrees, pasta, mains and sides. A selection of specials was also on offer, but we settled with a pick off the menu.

Our meal commenced with some complimentary bread (with unlimited refills just like they do in Melbourne!). Whilst some restaurants don't put much thought into their bread, I was immediately impressed by how fresh it was. With its crusty exterior and warm toasty soft interior, the butter literally melted onto the bread. Taking a further look into the kitchen, I could see why it was so delicious, they made it on site in the oven to our left!

Our starter soon came. We ordered a Affettati e Grissini (cold cuts with bred sticks) to share. the cuts consisted of Mortadella, San Danielle Prosciutto and Wagyu bresaola. We watched as the chef masterfully shaved our hams to just the right thickness before arranging them on the platter. My companion was a big fan of the Mortadella with its slight hint of black pepper and other spices. On the other hand, I really liked the San Danielle Proscuitto with its subtle sweet undertones.

Our mains came not too long after. My companion ordered the Maiale - a Byron Bay Berkshire pork cutlet served with cauliflower, char-grilled cos, garnished with balsamic. Whilst we enjoyed our starters, we also spied the chefs cooking my companion's pork chop on their specialised grill. Needless to say I love watching my meals get prepared. Back onto the pork chop, I found it to have a perfect texture, striking a good balance with being moist but also slightly toasted on the outside. The flavours were quite mellow and comforting as well.

For my main, I ordered the Strozzapreti - Twisted pasta served with banana prawns, garlic, chilli, black olives, tomato and calamari sauce. Needless to say, the flavours were a bit more adventurous than the pork chop, and the portions were also significantly more generous. I really appreciated the handmade pasta with its delicious chewy al dente texture. The prawns and calamari were also fresh and flavoursome, but not overpowered by the tomato sauce.

As a side, we also shared a bowl of shoestring fries (my favourite cut). It was served delectably hot and crispy, and I loved how they retained their crunch even cooling significantly. I would have liked the addition of some sauces to give it some extra flavour.

Price Range: $40 - $60pp

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

Otto Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Da Burger - New Farm

Being quite a burger fan, I have long been curious about Da Burger, one of the most popular burger joints in Brisbane. With the year drawing to a close, I thought it would be about time to try it out so I can finally strike it off my list. So after work one day, my companion and I made our way over to Brunswick Street to the much acclaimed burgers.

Like most burger joints, it operated via counter service. The staff were really friendly and took their time to have a good chat to each of their customers, which gave it quite a personalized touch, although it did make waiting times a little longer than usual.

We were given a number and grabbed a table along the hallway. I really liked how they had a wall filled with their customer's handwritten reviews. The opposite wall, which you can see in the photo was adorned with photos of their customers.

We also loved how each table was given a connect four set, which was quite ingenious, as we could entertain ourselves indefinitely whilst we waited for the food.

Speaking of the food, it didn't really take very long to come out (or maybe we were too immersed with the connect four game (which I won ;).

My companion ordered the Bacon Enter, containing a lamb patty, red onion jam, streaky bacon, blue cheese sauce and BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato,onion and mayo, with a side of chips. He found the patty to be quite a highlight as it had the taste and texture of lam without the strong gamey taste that often comes with it. The salads were fresh and crunchy which he really enjoyed. On the flip side though, the bun was a little underwhelming (our preference is for the shiny brioche type of buns), and unfortunately not toasted, but thankfully without sesame. There was a little too much sauce for our liking, which pooled into quite the puddle inside the paper wrapping.

I got the Bus Stop, containing an angus beef patty, streaky bacon, pickled gherkins, lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo and tomato relish. I would agree with my companion in saying that the bun could have been so much better if they had a couple of variations for us to choose from and if they could have toasted it. The angus patty was quite delicious and crumbled into little pieces of meaty goodness in my mouth. The bacon was deliciously smoked and crunchy, which is always the best way to have bacon. I probably should have asked for some extra cheese though, but same as my companion, I also had a small pool of sauce at the bottom of my paper wrapping. 

Price Range: $12 - $20pp

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

DA'Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Yahoo - Sunnybank

After quite a few somewhat extravagant meals out, my companion and I were looking for somewhere inexpensive but with good quality. Having not gone up to Little Taipei for a while, we thought it to be a nice place to try something new. Arriving, we were both shocked and dismayed to see that Yakitori, Ren, and Momo Juice bar had closed down, David's appeared to be closed down, or maybe they were on holidays. All that was left was the Taiwanese bento place, Yahoo and a newly opened Tofu dessert place. Customers were also sparse, and we decided to stay and and grab dinner at Yahoo. 

We ordered at the counter, but rather than grabbing a number, the elderly owner brought out the food to us when it was ready. My companion ordered the egg ho fan. Whilst you can't really see in the photograph, the noodles were deliciously caramelised and lightly toasted and then drenched in copious amounts of egg sauce, topped with some chicken, pork, fish cakes and veges. Whilst we would have liked more noodles to go with the sauce, the flavours were really compatible, and we really enjoyed the meal.

I opted for the bak kut teh with rice (as there was no other options for noodles. The soup was only mildly herbal rather than the super strong hit I was expecting, but the pork was tender and comforting, and the tofu soaked up a lot of the hot soup. The portion of rice was very generous and for a dinner under $15, I would say the quality was definitely there.
Price Range: $10 - $15pp

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

Ya Hoo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Fratelli Famous - Brisbane CBD

Despite the hot Brisbane summer, my craving for a fresh pizza never really changes, despite the heat. Which is why we were really pleased to hear that Fratelli Famous was coming to Eagle Street Pier. Having read somewhere that it would be located under Sake, it took us a while to find it, as it actually located on the other end, underneath Bavarian Bier Cafe.

Wanting to attend on the grand opening day (since I conveniently work just across the road), we were quite dismayed when it the opening got delayed due to water damage (I had even forgone my packed lunch that day to go here!). Nevertheless, we were given a pizza voucher and told we could attend again later to grab that pizza. Upon later consideration, we found this alternative to be even better, because we didn't need to line up with the crowd in the heat. So we went on the Monday right after to try it out.

Heading in, I noted the immediate similarities to Subway, which was rather unexpected.

Whilst some of the more common combinations were preset for ease of ordering, I'm pretty sure most people would be keen on creating their own pizza. 

What I did notice though was that unlike Subway, which has curved plastic panels, Fratellis have quite a tall flat piece of glass separating you from the staff. Whilst I understand it's probably there to stop customers from leaning into the ingredients, we had real difficulty communicating with staff when the pizza oven is roaring and other customers are also trying to shout their orders through the gap in the glass. 

Like Subway, we proceeded down the production chain, first taking our pick in size, and type of pizza base. My companion and I both selected sourdough, but had one large and one regular to share. There were four types of sauces, we settled on red and sugo (later regretting not trying white sauce). What really separates Fratellis from Subway though in my opinion (other than being a pizza joint rather than a sandwich joint), is the fact they don't limit you on the number of toppings you can choose. Indeed I opted for all the cheese except for feta and vegan, and the staff were very generous in their portion sizes.

A variety of seasoning was available, I opted for garlic salt and oregano. 

A large assortment of meats were up for our choosing next, and I had all the meats except for spicy salami and chorizo. An interesting note though, the Italian sausage came as chunks of ground up meat, whilst the meatballs were more like sliced sausage than actual balls.

Of the other toppings, I settled on tomatoes, onions and garlic (because at that point, my pizza was already piled like a small mountain).

It then went into their pizza oven, whilst I didn't time it to see whether it was really 90 seconds like they claim to be, it was a rather fast turnaround (for a pizza), which we appreciated. 

As mentioned, between the two of us, we got one large pizza, which came cut into six slices, and one regular pizza, which came as four slices. 

My companion, being more conservative with his tastes, ordered a bacon and salami pizza with mushrooms, onion and garlic. Whilst I would have thought that mushroom would complement white sauce better, it gives me incentive to try that combination next time. Other than this I really liked the pizza base which was just the right thickness, and deliciously toasted in just the right places. 

Coming out of the oven, my little mountain had subsided quite a bit, but the toppings were still substantial (so much that I had to use the fork to support the end of the pizza so that the toppings wouldnt fall off as I ate). Despite being a little on the salty side, it was definitely quite the flavour hit. I particularly loved the ground up Italian sausage, but found the mild salami not really mild enough. Rather than chopped bacon, perhaps thinly sliced streaky bacon would have also made it all the more enjoyable. Whilst not really comparable to Julius or Sugo Mi, for $15, I think its still great value for money and really conveniently located. 

Price Range: $11 - $20pp

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

Fratelli Famous Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Malaya Corner - Sunnybank

If I remember correctly, out of the Oriental Group chain of restaurants, Malaya Corner was the original and longest standing. Being located at Market Square, it always has a constant stream of customers all hours of the day, even between regular meal times, due to its highly popular afternoon tea specials, which is why we headed there when I managed to get off work reasonably early last week.

Like most Asian restaurants, there were quite a few TVs hanging on the wall for us to watch whilst during our meals. 

There were a large selection of Malaysian and Chinese style tea sets, all mains came with a complementary drink.

Complimentary tea is also available, but on a self serve basis (like Coffee Square and Oriental Corner).

My first companion got the Mini Malacca Coconut Chicken Rice. Considering its label of "mini" it was definitely more main size than snack size. The rice was most definitely a full bowl, and the sides were reasonably decent. The chicken was super tender and well seasoned, the meat literally fell off the bone! The anchovies were an interesting addition, which made the dish quite salty, and the rice had a distinctively fragrant coconut scent to it.

Another companion had the Stir fried beef ho fan, a traditional Hong Kong staple. From the moment it was set down, I could smell the char grilled caramelisation of the beef and noodles, which was a major plus for me. The portion was distinctively smaller than the usual full size servings, but it quality wise, it was very delicious. The rice noodle was soft but not soggy whilst the beef was tender and well marinated with dark soy.

I ordered a bowl of chicken and bbq pork noodles soup, which was both comforting and nourishing, albeit a bit small. The egg noodles were a little too soft for my liking, despite my preference for noodles on the more soft end of the spectrum (which means that other people may have found it very soft). The bbq pork was a little coarse in texture, but the chicken was tender. 


My companions ordered a hot milk tea, an iced red bean frappe and I had the iced milk tea. Both milk tea drinks were quite strong and standard in taste for an establishment at Sunnybank, but the red beans in the red bean frappe were a little more brown and a little less red than what we are usually used to, but my companion noted that it also had quite a strong coconut taste to it, making it distinctively enjoyable.

Price Range: $10 - $20pp

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

Malaya Corner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato