Wednesday, 29 February 2012

View A Place

Hello All,

Draftfcb have created this fun app. Type in an address - maybe your favourite restaurant - and the place shows up in the snowglobe. (You don't have to use your home address if you don't want to.)

It works for Australia and several other countries.

(Looks like the app is a mashup using Google Streetview, or Google Maps if Streetview is not available).


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Food Safety - Tips and Red Flags

Hello All,

I am very particular about food safety, whether dining out, or preparing meals and eating at home.

Here is an interesting site about the food handling breaches to look out for in a restaurant.
Food Safety Full Service Restaurant

And a "Red Flag" scale to help you decide how to respond - do something or do nothing.
Food Safety Red Flag Scale


Review - Red Pepper

3 February 2012

Red Pepper
14 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Cuisine: Indian

Red Pepper on Urbanspoon

We went at lunchtime on a Friday without a booking. Actually, we didn't realise they took bookings, but we probably would not have made one anyway! The place was busy and the person taking orders asked if we would like to sit outside.  Luckily one of us found a great table just inside the front entrance so we avoided having to sit outdoors. The footpath tables are partially shaded by only 2 umbrellas, which would be okay if you love sitting in the hot summer sun, or are a hungry curry fan who can't bear to leave.

We ordered Chicken Classic Curry (menu rating Hot) with 2 naans, Lamb Roganjosh (menu rating  Medium) with small rice,  and Chicken Tikka Masala (menu rating  Medium) with 2 naans. Even though the Chicken Classic had a menu rating of hot, surprisingly it wasn't. We each have different levels of "hot" tolerance and none of us found this curry challenging. Both chicken curries had tender chicken. The lamb tasted a bit gamey, which is not unusual for this meat, and the lamb was a bit firm but still not too bad. All three curry gravies tasted average. The gravies looked similar in colour and as we were sharing the dishes, we sometimes had to dig into a curry to work out which curry was which. I liked the naan, especially the shape and how it is bigger than the plate! The naan is nice enough to eat on its own but also goes well with the curries.

 The order queue stretches down the long dining area to the door but the meals arrive quickly. Most of the curries would be pre-cooked and just need to be dished out from the pot to the metal serving bowls.

There is a proliferation of good quality eating places with reasonable prices in Melbourne. This impacts on the Value rating of this restaurant and other restaurants as  Melbourne diners are quick to work out where to get the best bang for their buck. What was once a cheap place to eat is now less so, with prices generally at $12.90 for a  small bowl of meat curry with rice or naan. Nonetheless, this place is still popular and the clientele includes a good many office professionals. The large number of diners from the Subcontinent is an indicator of the authenticity of its cuisine.

Overall, if you are after a quick curry meal before dashing back to work, this is a reasonable place.

Taste Rating: 6.5/10   Value Rating: 6.5/10

Front of the Restaurant

The Queue to Order


 The Menu

Lamb Roganjosh, Classic Chicken Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala



Footpath Dining
with Parliament Building in the background

Friday, 24 February 2012

A Taste of Harmony

Hi Everyone,

Here is a great initiative by the Scanlon Foundation. It is called A Taste of Harmony and will take place during the week of 19th to 25th March 2012, coinciding with National Harmony Day in Australia. 

A Taste of Harmony encourages all workplaces to celebrate their diversity by having workmates bring in and share a lunch of delicious foods from different lands.

Nowadays, most people have travelled overseas or eaten at restaurants that are "foreign" to them and are not as wary of "foreign" food anymore. But hey,  we are so busy nowadays we don't always get time to chat with our colleagues and this is a great way to know them better. Who knows, you might discover someone is a fantastic cook ... or not!

When I last checked, 1298 workplaces had already registered on the website. See link below.

Hope you are inspired to try this and happy feasting!

Links which you may like to check out:

A Taste of Harmony

National Harmony Day 2012


Monday, 13 February 2012

Review - Straits of Malacca

*April 2012  Straits of Malacca has closed at the venue @ 188 Little Bourke St, Melbourne. Petaling Street taken over this venue.
*July 2012  Straits of Malacca has taken over the Petaling Street venue @ 162 Swanston St, Melbourne

24 January 2012

Straits of Malacca
1st Floor, 188 Little Bourke, Melbourne
Cuisine: Malaysian, Japanese, Asian

Straits of Malacca on Urbanspoon

Remind me never to blog about a buffet again. I need a shoulder massage after loading 41 photos!

This is a new restaurant which opened about 1 1/2 months ago. Our group of 12 persons went for lunch on a Tuesday. The restaurant is large enough to comfortably hold several large groups of diners. It was about a quarter full on this day.

The lunch buffet costs slightly less earlier in the week: $19.80 Monday to Thursday, $22.80 Friday to Sunday.
Check their website for the current prices 
They are also on Facebook

Have you ever tried sampling from over 50 selections while attempting to take photos and maintaining a conversation with friends! I gave it a go but it was impossible to try everything.

To give you a general idea of the layout: there is a small selection of yum cha food, a Japanese food section, a roast duck and belly pork station, handmaking of Peking duck in crepes, a noodle soup station,  a main buffet table with Bain Marie food warmers, a side dishes section, a large dessert section and a bar which doubles as an ice kacang stall.

The Bain Marie food warmers contained: Braised Vegetables, Deep Fried Prawns with Special Sauce, Beef Rendang, Ma Po Tofu, Green Curry Seafood, Lotus Leaf Fried Rice, simple Fried Koay Teow, Braised Chicken with Mushrooms, Hong Kong Style Steamed Fish Fillets, Deep Fried Celery and Roast Pork Belly, Sweet & Sour Pork Belly Ribs and Braised Crab Meat Soup with Mushroom. I tried the prawns (good), rendang (good), tofu (good), green curry (good), fried rice (didn't quite like this), koay teow (good), chicken with mushrooms (good) and steamed fish (just okay).  I found the green curry not overly spicy but one person did, which was surprising as they had an Asian background and are used to hot spicy food.

There are three varieties of noodle soups:  Curry Laksa, Ramen, Udon. You don't select the ingredients as these are pre-determined (see photo below).  I tried the Curry Laksa -the soup was quite nice.  Again, I was okay with the spiciness level of the laksa  but a couple of people with Asian  background found it too spicy. The ingredients were simple and the serve was small, but this is adequate for a buffet situation. 

The Peking duck in crepe was reasonable. I did not get a chance to try the side dishes.

The desserts looked attractive but overall, we found the taste did not live up to the looks. The colourful jellies, especially the blue ones, looked really nice but tasted fairly ordinary.  I managed to get one piece of nonya kueh as the tray was not refilled - the flavour did not stand out.  Neither did any of the creamy mousse-type desserts.  If I had to pick one dessert cake, it would be the Napoleon slice.

We had the ice kacang last. It was interesting to see this being prepared at the bar where the staff member did a great job assembling the ice kacang. The taste was good but we were surprised to find the kidney beans was so undercooked that they were hard. This was the only letdown to what would have been a nice refreshing dessert.

The service was good. The staff were attentive and promptly cleared empty plates from the table. There was usually one staff member to keep an eye on the main buffet table to make sure it was in order.

The general consensus was we were impressed with the large variety of food on offer, and for a reasonable price of under $19.80. There was something for everyone and no one left hungry.

Taste Rating: 7/10   Value Rating: 8/10

   Click photos to view larger image

Straits of Malacca 
Love this photo of
Chinese Parasols on a Hot Summer Day in Chinatown

Yum Cha food

Japanese Food

Braised Vegetables

Deep Fried Prawns with Special Sauce

Beef Rendang

Ma Po Tofu 

Green Curry Seafood
Lotus Leaf Fried Rice

Fried Koay Teow

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms

Hong Kong Style Steamed Fish Fillets

Deep Fried Celery and Roast Pork Belly

Sweet & Sour Pork Belly Ribs

 Braised Crab Meat Soup with Mushroom

Roast Duck and Roast Belly Pork Station

Making Peking Duck in Crepes

Peking Duck in Crepe

Noodle Soups - Curry Laksa, Ramen, Udon
 Curry Laksa

Varieties of Mushroom


Century Egg & Pickled Ginger

Black Fungus (Mushroom) with Vinegar Sauce

Smoked Salmon

Octopus with Superior Sweet Chilli Paste

Salad Prawns in little boats

Smoked Duck Sichuan Style
Multi coloured Desserts

More Desserts

Napoleon Slice Dessert

 Nonya Kueh Dessert

Selection of Desserts


The Bar ... also serves as an Ice Kacang stall
Carnation Milk ...
one of the key ingredients of Ice Kacang

Assembled Ice Kacang and some of the ingredients
(grass jelly, sweet corn, kidney beans)

Ice Kacang

That was lunch! ...

... @ Straits of Malacca