Spice Gourmet Thai Food

Other than Chinese food, Thai food is probably the next popular Asian cuisine in Sydney, if not on par. We have been to a couple of Thai restaurants before and they’re usually packed with customers. Last weekend, we decided to give Spice Gourmet Thai a shot since we were craving for something hot and spicy (as always!). Located in Parramatta, I found out it’s just next to the famous Malaysian restaurant Temasek, which we would definitely go to next.

IMG_2994

Pork Neck

Since we made our reservations earlier, we did not have a problem getting a table. In fact, we were way too early for our reservation (45 minutes!) and I was worried that they might not be able to accommodate us before our time. Thankfully, there was a vacant table and we were comfortably seated by the window in no time.

IMG_2989

Candlelit dinner

Our first dish was the Medley of Appetisers, which consist of a chicken satay skewer, a fried chicken wing, a spring roll and a curry puff. This was clearly  meant to be a single-serve portion, because everything was just singular. The chicken satay was well-marinated with a delightful peanut sauce, and the chicken wing was nicely flavoured too. The curry puff had nice pastry but could do with more fillings within.

IMG_2991

Medley of Appetisers (AUD$9.90)

Dining in a Thai restaurant wouldn’t be complete without the customary Tom Yum Soup. The version here (and in most other Thai restaurants in Sydney) was served with button mushrooms, which I thought was quite strange. But I like mushrooms, so I didn’t mind them. But I did mind that the soup was not as spicy as I had wanted it to be. I guess they must have toned it down for the local palate, for I seldom find food here to be as spicy as we could get back in Malaysia. Perhaps I should start learning to make my own version of spicy tom yam soup! :)

IMG_2993

Tom Yum (AUD$9.90)

My favourite dish of the night was the Pork Neck with Chilli Lemongrass Sauce. It was stir-fried with broccoli, chilli and onion and had a nice sweet and savoury flavour to it. The pork was also tender and juicy, I certainly wished there were more of them! Saucer was so sweet to let me have most of this dish because he knew I didn’t quite like the other one.

IMG_2995

Chilli Lemongrass Sauce $14.90

The other dish that wasn’t really my cup of tea was the Beef Fillet Jungle Curry. This was a hot and spicy beef curry with lemongrass, baby corn, eggplant, basil and bamboo shoots. I believe this is a dish you either love or hate, because of the strong bamboo shoot flavours imparted in the curry. I, for one, am not such a big fan of bamboo shoots, so that was probably why I didn’t find myself liking it. Saucer, on the other hand, didn’t mind the flavours, so he had most of this. The curry was clear and light, much like a broth, so it was quite a new experience for me. And after that experience, I think I’m more of a curry with coconut milk type of girl. :)

IMG_2997

Jungle Curry Beef Fillet (AUD$14.90)

For dessert, we shared the Vanilla Ice-Cream with Coconut and Black Sticky Rice with Thai Custard. The ice-cream was nothing out of the ordinary, except that it was served with toasted dessicated coconut. The portion was quite huge, with 2 giant scoops enough for the 2 of us. But we unanimously agreed that the black sticky rice was a much better dessert. It reminded me of the pulut gula Melaka that we have in Malaysia, except that this was mixed with black glutinous rice within. The texture was really similar and the Thai custard provided a nice contrast to the dessert in terms of the texture and taste.

IMG_2999

Vanilla Ice-cream with Coconut $8.90

IMG_3002

Black Sticky Rice with Thai Custard (AUD$8.90)

IMG_2987

With my new hair

On another note, I just had my hair cut last week. It had been a while since I had hair this short, so I had to take a picture to commemorate the occasion. :) Overall, Spice Gourmet Thai was quite an average experience for me. We did enjoy that odd dish or two that night, but we were not entirely satiated, as how you would feel after you have a great meal that hits the right spot. That just means that we would continue searching for that perfect Thai restaurant!

IMG_2986

Thai decorative piece at Spice Gourmet Thai

Spice Gourmet Thai
71 George St, Parramatta
NSW 2150 Australia
Tel No.: (+612) 9635 9666
Opening Hours: Lunch (11:30 am–3:00 pm), Dinner (5:00 pm–10:00 pm)
Website: www.spicegourmetthai.com.au

Spice Gourmet Thai on Urbanspoon

Chinese Steamed Fish Recipe

Today’s post is contributed by a guest writer, Tom Lee, who is also a lover of fish!

The following recipe is something that I ate all the time when I was younger. Coming from a family with a Chinese heritage, steamed foods were very common. My favorite was a soy sauce steamed fish. The finished product looks like it would take quite a bit of effort to make, but in reality it’s one of the simplest dishes ever! There are only 7 ingredients and the whole process takes just 10 steps. Hope you enjoy it!

Steamedfish

Chinese Style Steamed Fish

Ingredients:
–  2 Stalks of Green Onions / spring onions
–  2 inch Piece of Ginger Root
– ¼ Teaspoon Chopped Thai Chilies (Optional)
– 2 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
– 1/8 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
– 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
– 4 Ounce Halibut Fillet

SteamedFishPREP

Ingredients

Instructions:

1. Julienne the green onions and ginger into 2 inch strips.

2. In a heat safe plate (one that will fit on top of a steamer plate/basket), place some of the julienned green onions on the plate. You want enough to separate the halibut from the plate itself, but also save some to top on the fillet after it is done steaming.

3. Cover the top of the fillet with the ginger.

4. Fill your pot or pan with about an inch of water and turn the heat on high. When the water is boiling place your fish in there, on top of the steamer plate/basket, and steam for 5 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakey.

5. While the fish is steaming, grab another small pot or pan and bring the tablespoon of canola oil to a boil.

6. In a separate bowl mix 2 tablespoons of soy sauce with equal parts water and 1/8 teaspoon of sesame oil (½ of a ¼ teaspoon or about 2 drops).

7. When the fish is done, you will want to carefully pour out all the water that has collected around the fish from the steam. An alternative is to transfer the entire fillet to a new plate. Whichever is easier. Keep the green onions that are on the bottom of the fillet, but discard the ginger on top.

8. Put the rest of the green onions on top of the filet, as well as the Thai chilies. If you prefer something without a kick, then the chilies can be omitted.

9. Carefully pour the hot oil over the green onions and chilies that are on top of the fillet.

10. Without putting the oil pot/pan back on a heat source, pour the soy sauce mixture into the pot/pan to heat up the mixture a little bit from the residual heat. Then proceed to pour over the fish. Here you can pour as much or as little sauce as you want, depending on how saucy you like your dishes.

About the guest writer:

My name is Tom and I grew up in sunny Southern California. I came over to the United States from China when I was about 8 months old. Although I have been living in the United States since then, I have always eaten very traditional Chinese foods growing up. I never even had a hamburger until I was in middle school. I owe this to my Grandma and Mother who cooked such wonderful tasting food, for such a long time. As I ventured off to college I saw family less and less. However, my cravings for the food they made kept increasing. That’s when I started looking into making food for myself. Having no culinary experience, I was pretty intimidated. However, after doing some research, it turns out that there are many recipes that are very simple. Once I realized that cooking could be simple, I started cooking more and more. This is how I began to create recipes that are easy to make, affordable, and healthy.

Tom Lee is a business development associate for the Santa Barbara Fish Market where you can support local fishermen and buy fresh seafood online or buy fresh fish online.

Chinese Steamed Fish Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 1-2
Ingredients
  • 2 Stalks of Green Onions / spring onions
  • - 2 inch Piece of Ginger Root
  • - ¼ Teaspoon Chopped Thai Chilies (Optional)
  • - 2 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • - ⅛ Teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • - 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
  • - 4 Ounce Halibut Fillet
Instructions
  1. Julienne the green onions and ginger into 2 inch strips.
  2. In a heat safe plate (one that will fit on top of a steamer plate/basket), place some of the julienned green onions on the plate. You want enough to separate the halibut from the plate itself, but also save some to top on the fillet after it is done steaming.
  3. Cover the top of the fillet with the ginger.
  4. Fill your pot or pan with about an inch of water and turn the heat on high. When the water is boiling place your fish in there, on top of the steamer plate/basket, and steam for 5 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakey.
  5. While the fish is steaming, grab another small pot or pan and bring the tablespoon of canola oil to a boil.
  6. In a separate bowl mix 2 tablespoons of soy sauce with equal parts water and ⅛ teaspoon of sesame oil (½ of a ¼ teaspoon or about 2 drops).
  7. When the fish is done, you will want to carefully pour out all the water that has collected around the fish from the steam. An alternative is to transfer the entire fillet to a new plate. Whichever is easier. Keep the green onions that are on the bottom of the fillet, but discard the ginger on top.
  8. Put the rest of the green onions on top of the filet, as well as the Thai chilies. If you prefer something without a kick, then the chilies can be omitted.
  9. Carefully pour the hot oil over the green onions and chilies that are on top of the fillet.
  10. Without putting the oil pot/pan back on a heat source, pour the soy sauce mixture into the pot/pan to heat up the mixture a little bit from the residual heat. Then proceed to pour over the fish. Here you can pour as much or as little sauce as you want, depending on how saucy you like your dishes.

 

PappaRich in Sydney!

In the spirit of Malaysia’s elections coming, I will be featuring more Malaysian food found in Sydney here. Somehow, having Malaysian food does make one feel closer to the country, especially when the restaurant is a franchise from Malaysia! Yes, I have previously dined in several Malaysian restaurants that were founded locally in Australia but this one is a restaurant that everyone is familiar with – PappaRich. They have officially landed in Sydney a few weeks ago, and we couldn’t wait to give it a try.

IMG_2953

Roti Canai

As with most newly opened restaurants, there was a long queue in front, mostly Malaysians. It almost felt like we were back home, with all the familiar chatter and familiar faces around us. We were there for lunch, and had to wait about half an hour before we got a table. Service was prompt and friendly, pretty impressive given that it was only opened for barely a week then.

IMG_2955

Full house at Pappa Rich

IMG_2952

The familiar Pappa Rich logo

While waiting for our table, we were given a thick menu and an order chit to place our orders. So by the time we got our table, we just had to pass the order chit to the waitress and wait. Quite efficient in minimizing the turnaround time, I think. Our first order to arrive was the Roti Canai, served with 3 types of sauce – dhal, curry and sambal. I thought the dhal and sambal were good, especially the sambal because it was hot and spicy with a kick! The roti though, lacked the fluffiness that we love. Its texture was more like crispy pastry instead of fluffy bread, so perhaps we might not order this again. We definitely prefer the roti from Mamak, another Malaysian restaurant in Sydney.

IMG_2954

Roti Canai (AUD$5.90)

A dish that several Malaysians recommended was the Penang Char Kuey Teow, which was incidentally my favourite too. I would have ordered this regardless, and was pleased to know that it did not disappoint. One of the main weakness that I found with some of the wanna-be char kuey teow here was the lack of ‘wok hei’ or the slightly charred/burnt taste. The version from Pappa Rich had the wok hei we were looking forward to, but it did lack in terms of spiciness. Perhaps they had toned it down to suit local taste buds? It would have been perfect had it been more spicy, I think. :)

IMG_2957

Char Kuey Teow (AUD$12.50)

Last but not least, Saucer ordered the Nasi Briyani with Red Chicken and Sambal Eggplant, something resembling what you would get from nasi kandar places in Malaysia. The briyani rice was just as fragrant as what we remembered back in Malaysia, and fluffy too. We were very pleased with it. The red chicken or ayam masak merah was fried and mixed with a sweet and spicy gravy that was perfect with the rice. Finally, the egg plant was first deep fried and then mixed with a spicy sambal. Who wouldn’t love that? The crunch of crispy skin mixed with the kick of sambal – yum! Every element in this dish was done right, including the piece of pappadom which was crispy and in a perfect round shape. Both of us couldn’t find any fault with this dish.

IMG_2959

Nasi Briyani with Red Chicken and Eggplant (AUD$12.90)

IMG_2960

Perhaps the closest Nasi Briyani you can find in Sydney

Needless to say, we left the place happy and satiated. Sure the prices are a bit steep compared to Malaysian prices but if we’re going to pay that much anyway for any other meal in Sydney, we might as well spend it on something we love. I’m elated that there’s finally a place that I can go to, to cure my home-sickness for Malaysian food, and one that has plenty of choices! We’ll definitely be back!

IMG_2950

PappaRich Malaysian Delights in Chatswood

PappaRich
1/63A Archer St
Chatswood
NSW 2067 Australia.
Tel No.: (02) 9411 3207
Opening Hours: 11.00am to 10.00pm Monday to Sunday

Penang Cuisine

Being Malaysians, we do constantly crave for a taste of home. So when I heard about Penang Cuisine from my fellow colleagues who went there for lunch, I told Saucer that we simply had to give it a try. My colleagues who were non-Malaysians gave pretty good ratings for the restaurant, so I was quite excited. We finally went there last weekend, on a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon. The plus point about going on a rainy day was that tables were easily available and service was quick.

Mee Rebus

Weekend special

We placed an order for Penang Lor Bak, which we both missed, and we probably shouldn’t have set high expectations for it. The lor bak was served with some fried tofu on top, which were quite good, but unfortunately, the lor bak itself left much to be desired. The skin was crispy and golden but the fillings within were no where near the lor bak filling we had back in Penang. This was mushy, wet and somewhat soggy. And they left out one very important element of lor bak, which was the chilli sauce! It’s no secret that I love all things spicy, so imagine my disappointment when I saw no chilli sauce served with the lor bak. Sad to say, this dish was not up to par.

Penang Lor Bak

Penang Lor Bak (AUD$6)

Saucer had wanted to eat Wat Tan Hor for the longest time, and even though I tried making it once for him, it didn’t turn out to be very good. So imagine how happy he was to see it on the menu! The Wat Tan Hor (fried flat rice noodles with smooth egg gravy) was served piping hot with the gorgeous, unmistakable aroma, which was a good sign. There were also plenty of vegetables and fresh prawns used. But that was where the plus points ended. Other than the familiar aroma, the noodles were not fried with enough heat (hence lacking the charred flavour/wok hei), and the gravy lacked flavour. It was such a shame to have had our expectations up high to be brought down after the first bite.

Wat Tan Hor

Wat Tan Hor (AUD$13.80)

Finally, we also had the Mee Rebus because it was a weekend-only special that day. The dish looked beautiful, with all the elements there – cucur udang, fried tofu, potatoes, lime and egg. We found the gravy to be lacking of that umami and kick. Perhaps more curry powder or chilli would be better? I found it interesting that they also had squid rings in the mixture, although I didn’t mind them. Among the three items ordered, this was the best even though it wasn’t great.

Mee Rebus

Mee Rebus (AUD$12.80)

Overall, it was unfortunate that we found the food at Penang Cuisine wasn’t quite as Penang as we wanted it to be. Perhaps the flavours were localized to suit the local taste buds? Or perhaps we just had too high expectations? Having stayed in Penang for a good 4 years before, it’s hard not to compare. If anyone of you have visited this place before, we’re more than happy to listen to what you think! :)

Penang Cuisine Epping

Penang Cuisine at Epping

Penang Cuisine
32/74 Rawson St,
Epping NSW 2121,
Australia.
Tel No.: (02) 8095 0788
Opening Hours: Daily (11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:30-9:30 pm)
*Note: No desserts served during weekends

Penang Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Easy Lasagne Recipe

One of the recipes that I love to follow when the weather is cold and I feel lazy is a good Lasagne. I have only started to make lasagne after I moved to Australia, simply because I always thought it to be something too rich and filling to cook for 2 people. But during the cold winter months here, one can really eat more than usual! :) So I scouted around for recipe and after some trial and error, came up with my own modification of a quick and simple lasagne recipe. I love this recipe because I only need to spend about 20 minutes preparing and cooking the ingredients, then chuck it into the oven and let the house be filled with the glorious smell of cheese! I can even use the time while it is in the oven to take a good long shower and food will be ready right after that. :)

IMG_2879

Lasagne fresh from the oven

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 100g button mushrooms sliced
  • 500g beef mince
  • 4 slices pork bacon chopped
  • 575g bottle of tomato pasta sauce
  • 6-8 pasta sheets
  • 2 cups thick cream
  • 2 cups grated / 6 slices cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

Steps:

1. Heat the olive oil on a large frying pan.

2. Add in garlic and onion and fry until fragrant and onions are soft.

3. Add in bacon slices and fry for 2 minutes.

4. Add in beef mince and stir fry until brown.

5. Add in mushrooms and pepper.

6. Pour in pasta sauce and season with pinch of salt and pepper.

7. Bring to boil and lower heat to simmer for about 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened.

8. While waiting for the sauce to be ready, preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan-forced.

9. Spoon 1/4 of the pasta mixture onto a baking dish.

10. Drizzle 3-4 tablespoons of cream on the mixture.

11. Drizzle 1/2 cup or 2 slices of cheddar cheese on it then cover with pasta sheets.

12. Repeat steps 9 to 11 for 2 more times.

13. Pour the remaining pasta sauce on the top layer of pasta sheet and drizzle the rest of cheddar and parmesan cheese.

14. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and place it in the oven.

15. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is golden. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.

IMG_2883

Glorious piece of cheesy lasagne

Easy Lasagne Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Quick and easy lasagne for a cold winter day.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 100g button mushrooms sliced
  • 500g beef mince
  • 4 slices pork bacon chopped
  • 575g bottle of tomato pasta sauce
  • 6-8 pasta sheets
  • 2 cups thick cream
  • 2 cups grated / 6 slices cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil on a large frying pan.
  2. Add in garlic and onion and fry until fragrant and onions are soft.
  3. Add in bacon slices and fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add in beef mince and stir fry until brown.
  5. Add in mushrooms and pepper.
  6. Pour in pasta sauce and season with pinch of salt and pepper.
  7. Bring to boil and lower heat to simmer for about 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened.
  8. While waiting for the sauce to be ready, preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan-forced.
  9. Spoon ¼ of the pasta mixture onto a baking dish.
  10. Drizzle 3-4 tablespoons of cream on the mixture.
  11. Drizzle ½ cup or 2 slices of cheddar cheese on it then cover with pasta sheets.
  12. Repeat steps 9 to 11 for 2 more times.
  13. Pour the remaining pasta sauce on the top layer of pasta sheet and drizzle the rest of cheddar and parmesan cheese.
  14. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and place it in the oven.
  15. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is golden. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Visiting a Beer Brewery

It has been ages since my last update, I know. I have been so busy with work recently with a new task assignment on top of my current workload that I found it difficult to allocate time for blogging! Anyway, I looked through my album and discovered a place that I had been wanting to share for the longest time. It was a visit to a beer brewery in Hunter Valley! Now, when we mention Hunter Valley, most of us would just think about wines, vineyards and cellar doors. But during our visit, we passed by the Potters Hotel Brewery Resort which houses the Hunter Beer Co. brewery right next to a hotel.

HunterValley

Potters Brewery

HunterValley

Entrance to the pub

It was around 3pm in the afternoon when we arrived, which coincidentally meant the pub was rather empty. I guess the scene would change come night time. Walking into the pub, the first thing that came to mind was the strong smell of hops! Yes, it was unmistakable and it was pungent. I couldn’t decide if I liked or hated it. We walked over to the bar and asked about the brewery tour and beer tasting as shown on the entrance. It turned out that the brewery tour was only held during specific hours so we missed the chance, but we could still opt for the beer tasting at $10 for a selection of 4 beers.

HunterValley

The pub

HunterValley

Brewery area

potters_brewery_flow_chart

Brewery Chart

The Hunter Beer Co. is a microbrewery that brews several award winning flavourful beers – from its award-winning Kolsch and to the easy drinking German Ale. Even though we didn’t go for the brewery tour, there were plenty of information around the pub that described the brewery process and the different ingredients used.

HunterValley

Information about beer and taste

HunterValley

Beer ingredients

The bartender told us there were 10 different types of beer to choose from, and we had to pick 4. It was not easy since we didn’t know which were good and which were not. We were given some recommendations though, and decided that we must try the award-winning Hunter Kolsch. We also picked a Pale Ale and a Hunter Witbier in the mix.

HunterValley

Ten types of beer to choose from

HunterValley

The different beer logos

HunterValley

Our choice of 4 beers

HunterValley

Hunter Beer Co. coaster

Of the 4 beers we had, I remember that both of us unanimously agreed that the Hunter Kolsch was the best of all. It was not too light or hoppy, and had a refreshing aftertaste which was perfect to drink in the afternoon. We didn’t quite enjoy the pale ale, which turned out to be rather bitter for us. The Witbier was somewhere in the middle, but we still preferred the Kolsch above all. We wished that we had ordered more of that! :)

Kolsch – A refreshing easy drinking ale with flavour, perfect for summer drinking. Pale golden colour with light honey-biscuit malt character, subtle passion fruit and pineapple flavour is delicately balanced with a restrained bitterness and drying finish.

HunterValley

Saucer enjoying his beer

HunterValley

Award-winning Hunter Kolsch

HunterValley

Beer barrels outside the brewery

After drinking our beers, we took some time to walk around the Potters Brewery surroundings – partly to let the alcohol subside, and partly to take in the gorgeous decor. The surrounding grounds were massive and had plenty of greenery for us to lie down and enjoy the blue sky and nice weather. Coincidentally, Potters is also a hotel so if you’re looking to visit Hunter Valley, you could choose to stay here right next to the brewery and have freshly brewed beer any time you want!

HunterValley

Potters Brewery

HunterValley

Potters Brewery, Hunter Valley

Hunter Beer Co. @ Potters Hotel Brewery Resort 
Wine Country Drive,
Nulkaba NSW 2325
Australia
Tel No: +(612) 4991 7922
Opening hours: Open 7 days 10am – 5pm
Email: info@pottershbr.com.au
Website: www.hunterbeer.com.au