Monday, 26 February 2018

Bootleggers - Chermside

Readers will know that as a somewhat recluse southsider, it takes something quite special to bring me out of my self imposed exile (not really) to the northside. Having long heard of the renovations done on Westfield Chermside, it finally took an invitation from Bootleggers to bring me up into the uncharted north for a hearty American lunch on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I was lucky to be accompanied by food reviewer iHo for this meal.

Situated in the relatively new upstairs outdoors dining precinct in Chermside, it was a pleasure explore all the different options. But we were only there for one thing that afternoon, smokey American barbecue. Arriving at Bootleggers, I really appreciated the rustic wooden setup, giving it a very strong smokehouse vibe. We were quickly greeted by the head chef and seated.

The menu consisted of two pages of food in addition to an extensive drinks menu. In addition to standard BBQ fare, the menu also contained burgers, hotdogs, wings, fries and other sides, but rather than making our choice, we settled for the omakase way and let the chef serve up some of their signature dishes.

Starting off though, we had six glasses of beer to taste. From left to right, we had the Brouhaha Milk Stout, Fortitude Ginger Beer, Hasselhop IPA, 28 California Ale, Kaiju Krush and the Twisted Palm. The milk stout was quite rich an sweet, and the Kaiju Krush was fresh and fruity, but my favourite was without a doubt the 28 California Ale, which was crisp, sharp and had a nice slight bitterness to it.


We also tried two cocktails, the lychee mule and of course my favourite espresso martini. The lychee mule was fizzy and refreshing, I enjoyed the brisk minty taste and the light spice of ginger. The espresso martini was very smooth and quite sweet.

Our food started coming before long. Our first BBQ platter contained pulled pork, beef brisket, beef ribs, smoked chilli beans and chips with an assortment of dipping sauces. The beef ribs were really tender and meaty after being slow cooked for 6 hours with paprika, garlic and onion. The meat was completely infused with flavour and went really well with the garlic aioli sauce. The 14 hour beef brisket was also packed full of flavour, with a signature spice rub and bbq rum sauce. Compared to the ribs, I found it to be sweeter and it had considerable moisture locked in from the fattier portions of the meat, making it a very enjoyable guilty pleasure. In contrast, the pulled pork shoulder has been cooked for 8 hours in its natural juices. It didn't have as much of a wow factor as the other two beef dishes with their crispy caramelised edges, rather being a consistent stringy meaty texture which were slightly dry, but easily alleviated by utilising the sauces. We both also really enjoyed the chips which were lightly seasoned with paprika, being crisp, fresh and hot.

Our next BBQ platter consisted of pork ribs, coleslaw and chips. Compared to the beef, the pork ribs were cooked with cumin, brown sugar and paprika. It presented a near perfect level of moisture retention which deeply impressed me. Each rib slid out easily from the meat and the texture was spot on. This was by far my favourite of all the dishes we tried that afternoon. The coleslaw it was served with was also fresh and crunchy with a creamy sauce.

Other than heavy meats, we also had a serve of  popcorn shrimp glazed with honey. These were battered in a light tempura, fresh and crunchy with the honey giving the relatively simple dish some added dimension. 

Our final dish was the Smoky Maple BBQ Buffalo Wings. These were fried before basting in smoky maple bbq sauce, luckily the skin retained some crunch despite the coating. This complimented the sticky texture well. The coating also served to lock in the meat juices from the chicken, and the meat was remarkably juicy, which we also really enjoyed. 

After the meal, we were given an exclusive look around Bootlegger's commercial Smoker, one of the largest in Queensland and Australia. We were given a first hand account of the processes undertaken to ensure quality and consistency of the food, and the long arduous hours it takes to cook their meat low and slow with such a juicy tender result. It definitely gave us a whole lot more context to our meal and a newfound appreciation of the efforts that resulted in the food on our plates. 

Espresso and Matcha were invited guests of Bootlegger, but our opinions, as always, are solely our own.

Price Range: $20 - $40pp

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

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

Friday, 23 February 2018

KU-O - Woolloongabba

All my readers will know by now my favourite cuisine is without a doubt Japanese, and one of my favourite hangouts is KU-O, so when I heard that they opened a new branch at the Gabba in the relatively new Trafalgar lane, I made a point to check it out with Queen V as soon as I could. 

Like the Market Square stall, it had a decidedly wooden setup with booths that were almost identical to the original store. 

We also found the umbrellas on the roof super adorable too. I was a little surprised that it was only half full on that Saturday lunch hour. 

The lunch menu consisted of two pages and covered a variety of entrees, sushi, sashimi in addition to the typical rice and noodle dishes. 

We started our meal with a serve of salmon and avocado sushi. They were quite well done with the rice being well seasoned with a good texture that I found not too soft and not too hard, but with a good bounce in each bite. The salmon was quite fresh and the avocado was ripe, which I really appreciated. 

Queen V also ordered a dish of karaage chicken. Stealing a piece as soon as it was set down, I was met with a good scalding in my mouth as it was extremely hot from being freshly fried (I guess that's karma for stealing right?). It was wonderfully crispy and juicy, with a batter of reasonable thickness. What stood out to me the most though was the delicious creamy egg sauce that came on the side, which went a long way to cooling down the hot chicken. 

For my main, I had my standard chirashi. It came topped with salmon, tuna, bonito, kingfish, prawn and tobiko. I liked how the sashimi was thick cut, giving me a bit more substance to bite into. The rice was wonderfully seasoned like the sushi and I enjoyed it immensely. Of the fish, I found salmon to be the best that day, with a smooth and fatty texture that was very delicious. Special mention has to be given though to the bonito, which was very fresh and although still very strong in taste, it was not particularly fishy. 

Queen V opted for that beef sukiyaki rice that day, and it came topped with an egg as well as glass noodles. The egg was cooked perfectly with a reasonably solid white and a runny yolk. The glass noodles were an unexpected element in the dish but they were perfectly chewy and absorbed quite a bit of the delicious so soy broth. The beef had also absorbed quite a bit of broth and was tender albeit on the fatty side.

Price range: $15 - $30pp

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

Ku-O at the Gabba Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

8 Chicken and Beer - Sunnybank

Being quite a fan of Korean Fried Chicken (despite suffering so many breakouts after) I was keen to hit up most of the popular joints in Brisbane to find a favourite. Having read some limited reviews on 8 Chicken and Beer, I was curious to try it out. However given my recent diet, it required considerable reason for me to break my vow and indulge, so when a friend went through a slight life crisis, I decided that there is nothing more comforting and loving than a dish of fried chicken (any excuse to break the vow), so off we went. 

Arriving at 12 on Saturday, I was surprised to be the only table in the store. Only after sitting down did I notice the constant stream of customers coming in and out getting their chicken take away. 

The menu was short for a Korean restaurant and contained the obvious fried chicken, some dumplings, soup and hotpot as well as sides. 

Complimentary sides were provided after ordering and portions were generous. That day we had fresh and pickled radish as well as kimchi. I liked the kimchi which was much stronger seasoned and saucy than I had been used to, making for a strong flavoursome starter.

 After a short wait our food arrived. 

The main event was of course the fried chicken. We ordered a whole portion, boneless and original. My companion said he considers the chicken to be on the bland side since it wasn't strongly seasoned, but I found it to have enough so that I could appreciate the freshness of the chicken. Being freshly fried, it was HOT and crispy whilst maintaining an element of juiciness inside, although it wasn't as tasty as the one I had in Momo. This came with a side serve of chips which were also only lightly seasoned with salt and wasn't too exciting. 

To accompany the chicken, we had a bowl of dumpling soup. Expecting the usual dumplings with rice cake in beef bone broth, I was surprised to receive a bowl of clear soup with four giant dumplings and no rice cake. The soup was warm and nourishing, garnished with nori and enoki mushrooms. The dumplings were an interesting experience, similar in shape to Shanghai Xiao Long Bao, it was roughly double the size and filled with pork, greens, carrot and egg. The pastry wasn't too thick and it was elastic enough to hold the delectable parcel together. I quite enjoyed it. 

Price range: $15 - $25pp

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

8 Chicken Beer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Gong Cha - Sunnybank

So despite my personal preferences in bubble tea, there can be no doubt that there is a general consensus that the crowd favourite is Gong Cha. Be it the online reviews or public lineups outside the stores, Gong Cha is undoubtedly very popular. I guess that's why they considered a Market Square store viable despite the existing store at Sunnybank Plaza.

Wanting to avoid the queueing for a drink, I waited for the initial hype of buy one get one free to pass before cautiously making my way there to get a drink. 

Being located in market square I was pleasantly surprised at how spacious the store was and the abundance of seats both at the front and back of the shop. We ordered at the counter and was super pleased that there was no lineup (the line started the moment we sat down).

Our drinks were prepared quickly enough (far quicker than the Elizabeth street store). 


My companion opted for milk tea with grass jelly. He really enjoyed the crisp crunchy jelly, which was not as filling as his usual pearls. He also noted that the tea was fresh and fragrant, which he quite enjoyed. I had the Taiwanese green tea without sugar or ice as usual, to get a better appreciation of the essential tea flavours. I found the tea to lean to the stronger side of the spectrum with quite a bitterness to it which I appreciated, but this may not be a popular opinion. I found the bitterness so strong that to an extent it overwhelmed the tea fragrance, nevertheless it was a solid drink though not a favourite.

Price Range: $4 - $7pp

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

Gong Cha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato