Friday, September 5, 2014

Deer Duck Bistro

Deer Duck Bistro
Address: 396 Milton Rd Auchenflower, QLD 4066

Z and I choose to try the Deer Duck Bistro degustation to celebrate our birthdays. We've heard good reviews about the place; however, most people seem to indicate that when they were there 2-3 years ago, the food has been amazing. No one seems to have a clear indication on what the restaurant is like now.

From the outside, the restaurant looked unassuming. It was not until we stepped into the restaurant that we realised it is separated into three dining quarters. The first section (as you stepped in), is very simply decorated. It had an easy, casual feel that you would normally get in a nice cafe. The second larger room is a little bit more closely packed. The decor is very much art deco (think 1920s; chandeliers, dark walls, wooden floors and dim lighting...). The third room, which is where Z and I were seated, was a little bit more spacious and it continues the decoration ambience from the larger room.

We opted for the 7 course degustation that night (the picture will only show 6 dishes - the amuse bouche picture has gone MIA). Instead of matching wine for each dish (Z doesn't like whites); we opted for a bottle of red that would go with (almost) every dish.

We started off with the crackle and the miso soup, which was simply divine. The crackles were made from fish skin and it complemented nicely with the sweetness of the miso soup (although I did think miso soup was a touch too sweet).

This was followed by the cured salmon. That was probably my favourite dish of the night. The salmon was cured to perfection. It had just the right level of tartness, smokiness and sweetness. Overall, I felt the dish to be very refreshing and I was hungry for more.

Next up was the egg yolk, barley & foam (what I called the garden barn) dish. The dish was seasoned well and the freshness of the egg yolk was complemented well by the grains and nuts.

For (I guess what you'd call) the main, lamb was on offer. However, given my dietary restriction, whilst Z happily chomped away on his lamb chops, I went for the vegetarian option, which was filled with a variety of mushrooms. The dish again was done well, very delicate texture and the seasoning was controlled.

Next up was the cheese plate and the amuse bouche. There was not very much needed to be said about the amuse bouche as it was mainly flavoured shaved ice with egg roll. The cheese plate on the other hand, I also won't comment much as I am not a big goat’s cheese (or blue cheese) person and the dish was unfortunately mainly those two cheeses.

Hence, Z happily ate both of your portions as I eager waited for the dessert, which was a chocolate beetroot brownie.

I have to say, I was quite amazed at how nice chocolate and beetroot complemented each other. As the dessert were a good balance of sweetness and a hint of earthiness.

Overall, it was quite an exciting set and I was happy that I had the opportunity to try it.

Recommended: The degustation was pretty good!

Deer Duck Bistro on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sushi Kotobuki

Sushi Kotobuki
Address: Shop 3 - behind fish cafe, 53 Lytton Rd, East Brisbane, QLD

Sushi Kotobuki is probably Z's favourite sushi place in Brisbane. I probably need to explain that when I say 'sushi place', I don't include the luxurious Japanese restaurants with the likes of Sake or Sono, but more like simple Japanese restaurants that concentrates on sushi and curry.

I suppose the beauty of Sushi Kotobuki is in its simplicity...

The restaurant is hidden behind two other restaurants along the busy Lytton Rd. The shop is actually quite small which means that whilst there are seats indoor, they remain scarce and most patrons just sit on the metallic tables and chairs outside (don't worry, the restaurant do provide cushions and wraps just in case you get cold).

The menu actually offers quite a wide range of dishes ranging from sushi, bento boxes, curry and other tad bits.

I normally just stick to the sushi when ordering. I have tried their snacks (edamame, miso soup etc.) before, other than the miso soup, the other stuff was pretty average.

But the sushi on the other hand, is generally quite amazing. I normally stick to the salmon rolls and the spider rolls. But the other sushi I've tried, the restaurant always manage to keep it a perfect balance of flavour and the ingredients are always fresh (no stale rice flavour you'd sometimes get from the takeaway joints).

In terms of price, I wouldn't exactly categorize Sushi Kotobuki as cheap...

To have a decent meal there, it'd cost you around $15-20pp (per sushi roll is ~$12).

However, given that everything is freshly made, I'd say it's worth the price.

Recommended: I try different things every time, haven't found a favourite yet as they are all simply delicious

Sushi Kotobuki on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bacchus Dessert Degustation

Bacchus Dessert Degustation
Address: South Brisbane, Podium Level of Rydges Hotel
Podium Level Cnr Grey & Glenelg Streets South Bank, QLD 4101

This, I admit was a bit of over-indulgence on my part when I saw the offer of dessert degustation from Bacchus thought to myself 'pft, I LOVE desserts. I can eat dessert all day. A dessert degustation will be a piece of cake...'

Anyway, Z and I decided that we will do this as a double date with a good friend of ours. Now, dessert degustation generally starts from 8pm every night, but luckily, we managed to secure a 7.15pm booking (and given that we spent a good 4 hours in the restaurant in order to fit everything into our tummy, I reckon booking for an earlier start is much recommended).

We've also decided to go with matching wines that - a decision which ended up being a double edged sword simply because you only have so much stomach space and in the end, it felt like you could either eat or drink (but doing both was impossible).

The ambience at Bacchus was also very posh but warm, like something you'd expect out of a five star restaurant. The waiters were absolutely lovely and offered perfect service (to the point where one of my friends wanted to take one particular waiter home because he was so ridiculously funny).

The desserts however, I don't know if I can write well enough to do them justice as each dish was so spectacularly unique and superb - from the white chocolate donuts and hot chocolate in the appetizers to the chocolate forest amuse bouche (which for Z was the highlight of the meal) to the decadent dessert for the dessert degustation...

We must have at least 10 dishes of sugary goodness for the 5 course degustation that we thought we were in for.

Of course, we each had our favourites, whilst Z preferred the amuse bouche; my friends preferred the raspberry & sorbet pannacotta (1st course) and the soufflé. Myself, I must agree that the soufflé was possibly the best soufflé I've ever had. The flavour was just superb and the softness texture of the soufflé really contrasted well with the crunchiness of the walnut inside.

Needless to say, the night was unforgettable (in the best - great great food - and worst sense - I could not look at dessert for the remainder of the week)!

Recommended: with the matching wine!

Bacchus on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ramen Champion

Ramen Champion
Address: Shop 50 Sunnypark Shopping Centre Sunnybank, QLD 4109

After hearing much rave about the new ramen joint in Sunnybank, my friend and I made a trip to Sunnybank one rainy Friday night, hoping the broth of the ramen would provide some warmth and comfort for the both of us.

The Ramen Champion shop front is hidden in Sunnypark Shopping Centre (it's located near Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant). The shop is on that back corner and quite small. In total, I don't think the restaurant could fit more than 25 patrons at a time.

The decor is also very simple. With exception to the signage at the back of the small, providing a flash of colour, the idea of more like a street food stall that has some tables and seats.

Everything is also pretty much self-services. You find your own tables and chairs, you order at the counter and grab your own spices, water and utensils - like most Asian establishments really.

The menu is also quite simple. There are only 6 or 7 choices of ramen and 3 or 4 side dishes you could choose from.

Anyway, for our visit, I went for the simple Champion Ramen and my friend went for the Champion Ramen Men (yes, I think he specifically choose it because of the word 'Men' in the name of the dish).

The services was relatively fast given that the joint was fully seated by the time we arrived, we received our noodles around 15 minutes after ordering.

In my opinion, the ramen was not bad. The soup was flavoursome, the noodles had a decent amount of chewiness and the char-sui pork was so soft that it almost melts in your mouth and much more flavourful than Hakataya's. However, the egg was extremely bland and was not cooked to the same perfection as you would normally get (ie. yolk has set but gives the sign of slightly running and there's a slightly soy/salty flavour in the egg which compliments the ramen).

The Champion Ramen Men was basically the same stock, however, the noodles are thicker and are served separately. Instead of slurping away at the soup and noodle, you'd dip the noodle in the thicker stock.

I am not sure my experience at Ramen Champion is positive or negative. It simply left me with a sense of 'meh' after my meal.

Recommended: Champion Ramen

Ramen Champion on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cowch Dessert and Cocktail Bar

Cowch Dessert and Cocktail Bar
Address: 2/179 Grey St South Brisbane, QLD

I love desserts.

By default, it generally also means that I love dessert bars.

Unlike restaurants, dessert bars provide patrons with an opportunity to sit and unwind after the hustle and bustle of dinner with some of best inventions in the society (in food regards anyway) - sugar, chocolate and ice cream!

Situated on the Southbank strip, Cowch creates a perfect atmosphere. It is casual, relaxed and the best (and worst part), the waiters don't come and usher you off if you decide to linger just that little bit longer.

From what I understand, Cowch provides quite a wide variety of choices. There are the alcoholic dessert beverages, the cakes, the hot chocolate (in udder mugs), frozen yoghurt and a range of ice cream varieties.

My companions and I tried a few different things that night. Whilst the cakes and the dessert plates were very delicious, the item off the menu that caught my eyes the most is the deluxe hot chocolate (served in the udder mug).

Now, the taste of the hot chocolate is pretty much stock standard (not comparable to chilli hot chocolate from San Churros, Lindt or a few other places I've tried), but what I do like, it how they make sure that it is not too sweet and presented so beautifully.

Pricewise, I did feel that it was somewhat expensive.

However, it was well worth the price for the atmosphere and the very friendly services that we received.

Recommended: The deluxe hot chocolate in udder mug

Cowch Dessert and Cocktail Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kwan Brothers

Kwan Brothers
Address: 43 Alfred St Fortitude Valley, QLD

I have been dying to go try Kwan Brothers since first hearing of its opening a couple months back as the idea of Asian fusion restaurants has always attracted, and at the same time, confused me.

But beneath the confusion of why would someone change the flavour of already divine dishes, there is also the acknowledgement that, yes, ingredients can alter their tastes in different countries (disagree with me if you will, but pork tastes significantly different in Australian compared to other Asian countries) and certain things would have to be approached differently.

Anyway, after much whinging and pleading with Z (as I did not want to go by myself), we finally made it to Kwan's Brothers last night.

Located next door to Alfredo's, on the block I generally known as the Alfred and Constance block, Kwan's Brothers adopted its sibling establishments' ambience with loud funky music and decor (There's a reason why my photos all had a red under tone as I didn't want to use my flash to ruin the dining experience of others in the restaurant).

Z and I were seated quite quickly despite that the restaurant was quite full already and unlike previous review I've read, the waiters were all quite friendly and attentive.

After much deliberation on the menu (since Z doesn't like rice and I don't eat lamb), we narrowed down our choices. For that night, we tried 6 dishes (and 2 drinks) from Kwan Brothers. They include Pork Bao Bao, Pork and Pineapple Skewers, Shaking Beef Salad, Deep-fried Cauliflower, Peking Duck Spring Rolls and Salmon in Banana Leaf.

At this point, I'd kindly ask readers to not judge us on our gluttony, we did enough of that after the meal...

Food came fast enough; the first to arrive was the Pork Bao Bao.

In essence, if anyone has tried Bun Mobile, very similar concept of delicious roast pork filing inside of plain steamed bun.

However, the baos are simply divine! The pork was juicy and so very well flavoured and when combined with the soft bun, it was simply sensational. I was blown away after the first bite.

The pork and pineapple skewers were also delicious. It adopted the similar flavour of the pork from the bao bao, however, there was an extra sense of bitterness and sweetness as it was barbequed with pineapples.

The deep-fried cauliflower was Z's favourite. In his words, "deep-fried batter coated with honey and sesame... how can I not love that"!

For me, the dish reminded me somewhat of the Korean deep-fried spicy chicken (except not spicy). I quite happily munched away on this dish as it went superbly with our drinks (although, it's probably better with a beer).

The shaking beef salad (we ordered the small one) was probably the least fusion-esque dish we ordered that night. It tasted exactly like the shaking beef salads I've tried in many Thai restaurants. It's sharpness and a hint of spices really hits the note. However, if you are not a fan of sour or sharp foods, this is probably not for you.

Following from Pork Bao Bao, my other highlight of the night was the peking duck spring roll with hoisin dipping sauce.

I do admit that there may have been some bias in that judgement as I am a big fan of peking duck and freshly made spring rolls. Rolling them together into one dish is pretty much a guarantee for success in my opinion.

The salmon in banana leaf was the last to arrive. But that stage, Z and I were so full, we are starting to look at food with apprehension.

But as the earlier dishes, the salmon, coated with its special satay sauce was also just beautiful. The salmon was perfectly cooked and the sauce was so delicious, if I had more room in my tummy, I'd eat every single bite!

Anyway, after stuff ourselves to the point of near explosion, Z and I ended rolling out of Kwan's Brothers rubbing our food baby in delight and our wallets (Z's really), lighter.

Recommended: Pork Bao Bao & Peking Duck Spring Rolls

Kwan Brothers on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 28, 2014

Little Greek Taverna

Little Greek Taverna
Address: 5/1 Browning St, West End QLD 4101

The Little Greek Taverna is one of my staples in West End. Most of my experiences at Little Greek Taverna has been positive - food has fantastic flavours, the prices being very reasonable and the staff generally quite friendly.

The only drawback at Little Greek Taverna is that because the restaurant is quite small and popular, getting a seat without booking on some nights are quite impossible. However, the restaurant do offer deliveries and my friends and I often just get the food delivered to The Cobblers next door on Browning Street whilst we enjoy with a couple of drinks.

This visit however, I went with a couple colleagues and given we had quite a few people; we went ahead and booked for the lunch.

For this visit, I went ahead with spanakopita for entree and a chicken souvlaki wrap for main.

The spanakopita arrived quite quickly and although it did not look like the traditional spanakopita I've had before in other Greek restaurants, the main flavours and key ingredients were all present and it tasted terrific. I found that the addition of the chilli powder on the side really set off the flavour and lifted the presentation of the dish.

The wrap was also delicious; however I would recommend the ones with haloumi. The addition of the haloumi lifts the flavour of the dish and provides an addition texture to the wrap that I find very pleasing.

Other dishes that really do deserve honorary mentions at the Little Greek Taverna include the lamb shank, where the meat really just fall off the bones and the stuffed capsicum which is another delight of its own.

And to top it all off, the price is also very decent. To be able to have have a great meal (entree and main) and cap it at under $25pp, there's not that many places in Brisbane that can do it with such such flavours and flair.

Recommended: The wrap with haloumi, the spanakopita, the lamb shank and many more...

Little Greek Taverna on Urbanspoon