Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Teppanyaki Lovers

Teppanyaki Lovers
Address: Level A, Myer Centre, 91 Queen St, Brisbane, QLD 4000

Seven months after my last Japan trip, the craving for okonomiyaki has built to the point where I was looking up for recipes online trying to make my own okonomiyaki (and that is always a bad sign because my cooking skills are far from being impressive).

Worse still, okonomiyaki is one of those foods that whilst it is abundant in its country of origin (Japan), it is relatively difficult to find across the continent (especially in Australia it seems). The only other place that I am aware that makes okonomiyaki is a restaurant called Kabuki and its okonomiyaki cost around $18...

In the interim, I decided to take myself to Teppanyaki Lovers underneath Myers. Yes, the wait at the Teppanyaki Lovers can be long (especially if you order okonomiyaki - give them 10mins at least) and the ambience is completely lacking (you are right next to the bus stop). And if you want to compare the okonomiyaki from Teppanyaki Lovers to the ones from Osaka or Kobe... The batter tends to be a bit thick and there are not enough cabbages and a little too much mayonnaise.

But what I would love to highlight is that all the basics you want in okonomiyaki is there and at least it give you the familiar taste of okonomiyaki at a relatively low price. And for that, I am simply happy and grateful.

Recommended: Okonomiyaki
Directions: Make your way to Myer centre. The eatery is beneath the Myer food court, so down the elevator near Michel's, you find yourself next to McDonalds. Turn left and there's a corridor, walk down. Teppanyaki Lovers is on the right handside.

Teppanyaki Lovers on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 22, 2012

XXXX Brewery & Alehouse

XXXX Brewery & Alehouse
Address: Corner of Black & Patent Streets Milton QLD 4064

Quite honestly, the XXXX Brewery tour and its alehouse is somewhere no local Brisbanian would ever go. Or so I have been told by many Brisbanians.

Nevertheless, being only recently migrated to Brisbane, anything with the word "tour" seems to interest me.

As a result, I booked myself a $25 tour on the Saturday afternoon to find out and understand the production of beer. More specifically, XXXX beer.

The XXXX Brewery is located in Milton, which is only two stations away from city. The factory is also right next to the railway line, which means that it is pretty much means you can't miss it. The entrance however is tucked away at the back streets, so there is a little bit of walking. Close to the entrance, there will be signs that will guide you to the meeting point of the tour.

It is recommended to get there a little bit early (10-15mins). Bags need to be stored. The tour also asks for covered shoes and no photos or videos on the tour for safety and security reasons.

The tour generally last about an hour and the guide will take you through the process of beer making from the beginning all the way to packaging. The tour guide will also give you a history of the brewery and the origin behind the name XXXX. But all that, I won't ruin it for you here.

At the end of the tour, you are provided with four free beers (or soft drinks). And one of them is the wooden barreled XXXX beer which they now only sell at three places - Albion, Cairns and at the factory in Milton on Friday and Saturday.

Now I am not a beer expert to be able to tell you how it would be different to the stainless steel barreled ones. But if you are a beer fanatic, recommended for you to try.

The alehouse also serves up snack and food for the hungry. Unlike a proper restaurant, it does not offer dinner menus. You do however have a choice between the snacks and the 'light' lunch option (the portion is actually massive. I was given a 'side' salad that I could have possibly consumed as the meal).

All food they serve, they have made it with a beer twist in it. Whether it is the XXXX beer battered fish and chips or in the steak.

The actual taste of the food... I am sure that I have had better elsewhere. However, the beer is great and the atmosphere is light and fun. It serves as a great catchup place with a few mates to have a cold beer and a few bites on a Sat or Sun afternoon.

Recommended: The beer! Food wise, unless you are hungry, go for something light.

Directions: Catch a train to Milton Station. Exit through the exit at the side away from the city (that exit is a tunnel that will take you across the busy Milton Rd and to almost right in front of the factory. Once out of the tunnel, walk towards the city direction, first street (after the beer factory), turn left, the entrance is not far ahead to your left.

XXXX Ale House on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 20, 2012

Harajuku Gyoza

Harajuku Gyoza
394 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006

I have been delaying this one for quite a bit. Everyone I know seems to be raving about Harajuku Gyoza and telling me how it is one of the most interesting/fun restaurant in Brisbane.

Anyhow, knowing how long the queues could be, I went there for dinner on a rainy Friday evening a couple weeks ago and luckily, the restaurant was only half full. But before the meal was finished, I assure you, a line started to form outside the restaurant.

The decor of the restaurant was fun and vibrant with pictures of the cute smiling dumpling everywhere and the Japanese feature plates hanging on the walls - I found the one of of KISS especially interesting. Maybe it is in relations to the Japanese fascination with heavy metals rock bands? (I am thinking Dir en Grey here...)

Anyway, seated at the bar and pondering away, I waited for my hakushika sake and edamame along with grilled duck, grilled prawn and grilled pork dumplings.

I do have to admit, for a gyoza bar, the variety of dumplings on offer are kind of limited. But then again, Harajuku Gyoza as the name suggest, is a gyoza bar and not a dumpling bar and they do offer side dishes to keep the variety interesting.

In terms of flavour, I do think that their grilled duck and grilled prawn is pretty nice but the pork dumplings are not that special... Maybe a bit more flavour in the filling might assist?

It is probably also noteworthy that Harajuku Gyoza is quite expensive. 3-5 grlled dumplings can set you back $8. For a gyoza fanatic like myself, I could probably devour about 12-15 gyozas in one meal? You can do the math how much it would cost to satisfy me in one meal.

But I guess most people go to Harajuku Gyoza for the experience of it. Especially with the waitresses (or two of the many waitresses) dressed up in vibrant pink and blue wigs and costume and create the vibe you (should) get in Harajuku. (I have been to Harajuku twice and saw nothing like that...)

Overall, it was definitely a fun experience, but if you do go, go with lots of friends.

Recommended: The sake
Direction: I have to admit that I am a little bit lost here. I don't actually remember how I got there. Just that it involved qutie a bit of walking.... sorry...

Harajuku Gyoza on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Le Bon Choix

Le Bon Choix
Address:379 Queen Street, Brisbane 4000

Forsaking the likes of Adriano Zumbo and Le Renaissanc in Sydney for the unknown of Brisbane was difficult, especially for someone who's got a major sweetooth like mine.

So, one of the first task I set myself when I set foot in Brisbane, was to find that perfect patisserie replacement.

After much research, I decided to make way to Le Bon Choix. The decision was made based on its easy to get to location (Queen St, Brisbane CBD), its beautiful and delicate cakes and the reasonable price charged.

I went to Le Bon Choix on a lazy Sunday afternoon. At first glance, I was completely enamored by the decor of the patisserie - high ceiling, white marble floors, beautiful cakes all lined up in the glass counters, macaroon towers and all the baked goods!!! Drool! Drool! Drool!

However, what was surprisingly and dissapointing was that at 3pm in the afternoon, they still had an amazing long queue. Quite literally, I spent a minute deciding which cake I wanted and spent the next 30minutes in queue waiting for it...

However, once I gotten my hands on the Miroula - decadent chocolate mousse with creme brulee centre and a chocolate macaroon on top, all that waiting was forgiven.

I went back for the white chocolate Lenette a week later. Unfortunately, as I had to take it back to the office for several hours... The creme was no longer as fresh as I wanted it to be. I guess the moral of the story here is that the cakes are best enjoyed immediately...

Will be going back to try all the other delights soon!

Recommended: Miroula

Directions: Exit Central Station, go across ANZAC square and Post Office Square. You hit Queen St. Turn left and keep on walking down. The patisserie is on the right handside of the road.

Le Bon Choix on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quarter Twenty One

Sydney Special - Quarter Twenty One
Address:Lvl 5, 100 Market St, Sydney NSW 2000

For a Sydney-side who landed in Brisbane for just over 2 months and are finding it difficult to tackle the best (and at times, the worst) restaurants and eataries in Brisbane, I generally does not concern myself with providing reviews to Sydney restaurants. However, this special comes with the recent announcements of the closure of Becasse and Quarter Twenty One due to financial difficulties.

I make no attempt to hide my shock and horror of how quickly things tumbled down for the high-end restaurants in Sydney during a financial downturn. Especially since Becasse is one my favourite restaurant and it was less than a month ago when I went to Quarter Twenty One for their degustation course. It was one of the cheaper degustation restaurants found in Sydney and the food they served were surprisingly yummy.

Located in the new Centrepoint Westfield, the location of the restaurant is a little bit strange for a one hatted restaurant, but extremely easy to get to. Although the entrance of the restaurant shares common area with Westfield's foodcourt, once inside, the ambiance is quiet and elegant. You do feel like you have been pulled away from the hustling and bustling of a busy shopping mall.

The only draw back for my meal however, was that the service was a little bit slow and for the 7/8 course meal, it took over 3 hours to finish and a lot of the times, we were waiting whilst hungry.

However, the waiters and waitresses were all very nice and they kept the bread rolls flowing whilst we waited (I wonder if that's why they went bankrupt??)

Now, whilst not all the dishes were stand outs, there were two outstanding ones that made an imprint in my mind - the seared scallop and crispy pig tail and the banana creme brulee with salted peanut brittle.

The pigtail was quite exotic and I do admit it is not everyone's cup of tea. But I do guarantee you, if you don't know what you are meant to be eating, you would not have discovered the pig's tail.

Opinions on the pig's tail may differ, for the group of friends that I went with, we all agreed that the creme brulee was probably one of the best ones we have ever tasted.

Quarter Twenty One took a simple creme brulee and has given it their own twist. Starting with the crisp salted caramel brittle instead of the usual caramelized top to the peanut brittle hidden with the creme brulee.

I will admit that this is the dish that had me go 'WOW, I want some more'!

I am saddened that Quarter Twenty One will be closed and that I will never again have a creme brulee like the one I had.

RIP Quarter Twenty One! You shall be missed!

Quarter Twenty One on Urbanspoon

McGuire's Colmslie Hotel

McGuire's Colmslie Hotel
Address: Cnr Wynnum & Junction Rd Morningside, QLD 4170

To be very honest, Colmslie is a place that I would not normally go. However, my friend visited from Sydney and her workplace organized her shortstay accomodation at Morningside.

Out of pure laziness and a lack of sense to explore, we decided to settle at Colmslie and try the Qld 'specialty' - seafood.

I will not delve much into the ambiance of Colmslie - for it is akin to all other RSL restaurants you will find, very bright lights, canteen-esque counters and etc.

Now what is interesting to note, is that although the food at Colmslie although is not cheap, does come in well endowered proportions. The seafood basket alone set me back close to $40 (this is on par to what I would've paid for the medium to high end restaurants found in Darling Harbour, Sydney).

Between two girls, we ordered two entrees (garlic bread & salt and pepper squid) and two mains (both had seafood basket).

In all honesty, by the time we finished the entrees, we were so full, we could've forego the mains (the fact that they used a lot of oil in their cooking seriously didn't help either).

However, probably because of all the oil that was in the dish, the seafood basket is definitely good (please don't remind me about cholestrol though)...

Recommended: Not bad if you are on company budget and can't be bothered to travel...But if you are there, go for the seafood basket. Alternatively, I heard the buffet breakfast is good, but I haven't tried it and probably are not going to.

Directions: A car is needed as it is a fair distance from the station. Wouldn't be able to give direction this time round... I got driven you see...

McGuires' Colmslie Hotel on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Little Saigon Grill

Little Saigon Grill
Address: 9/235 Edward St, Rowes Arcade, Brisbane Qld 4000

I am a massive fan of vermicelli salad - MASSIVE. In turn, one of the first things on my agenda when I moved to Brisbane was trying to find a good Vietnamese restaurant close to work.

Whilst AJ's is simply fantastic, it is quite a fair distance from work and given the queue you normally experience, that does limit the frequency of my visits.

The discovery of Little Saigon Grill in Rowes Arcade has made me very happy. So happy in fact, I turned up there to have almost every single day for about a week (hence, also my lack of updates as I really have not gone anywhere else).

What is necessary to note, is that Little Saigon Grill is a takeaway shop and completely lacks ambience. But for the prices that it charges and the food it serves, I say, forget about ambience and give me foodcourt!

Now, I think I might be (or definitely is) biased when I say that my favourite food from Little Saigon Grill is the vermicelli salad. The roast pork belly is very yummy but my favourite has to be their lemongrass chicken.

The only thing that isn't done so well in their vermicelli salad is that at times, the vermicelli tends to stick together. Which indicates that they probably rushed it during the cooling process. But really, for a foodcourt takeaway, I can't fault them for that.

Their banh mi is also very nice. But given that I am used to paying less than $5 ($4.50 in fact for the more expensive one) in Sydney, paying $6.90 at Little Saigon Grill does make me feel as if I am splurging. But given that they are the only shop that sells banh mi is the city... I am happy to accept that.

Little Saigon Grill on Urbanspoon

Recommended: Lemongrass chicken vermicelli salad

Direction: Out of Central Station, you want to be on the corner of Edward and Ann St. Go down Edward St towards the shopping strip. Cross Adelaide St. Entrance to Rowes Arcade is on the left handside of the road. Once you go in, you will find Little Saigon Grilled.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Summit Restaurant and Bar

Summit Restaurant and Bar
Address: Sir Samuel Griffith Dr, Mt Coot-Tha, QLD

I made a special trip to Summit at Mt Coot-Tha for two reasons:
1. "Mountain climbing/walking"
2. The high tea at the Summit

Whilst the three hour track that I took is another story of it own and I will stay on track to review the high tea at Summit.

Now after reading so much review of Summit, both good and bad, I was curious before I got there. However, on an overall basis, I have to say, I was quite pleased with the restaurant and the services received.

Located on the peak of Mt Coot-Tha, unless you drive, getting up there is a bit a hassle. There are buses (the 471) that goes there once an hour. If you happen to miss the first one, you are pretty much in trouble. It also sets a time limit as the last bus is around 5-6pm, which means that you won't get to enjoy the dinner.

However, for a lunch or afternoon tea, you are well set.

The restaurant is located just a short distance from the bus stop and ambiance is quiet and elegant. Combined with the superb view looking out of the balcony, I have nothing to complain for on that front.

Because I went for high tea, the restaurant was relatively quite and the waiters were very attentive and everything arrived in good speed.

There were positives and negatives however with the high tea. The scones were very nice, the portions were perfect and there was this cream/pecan log that was simply divine.

What was somewhat disappointing was that they didn't offer free refill for tea, which I was very use to at every other high tea places I have been to. As part of the high tea was this fresh herb sorbet that they made. Whilst it was lovely, I was not used to having sorbet right in the beginning and by the time I was ready, it had melted a little.

As part of the high tea range, they also had a mini meat pie? Now, I enjoyed that meat pie thoroughly as I had just done a three hour walking track. But for general high teas, meat pies are a little bit... rustic and Australian.

Overall, it was a great experience and the price was actually cheaper with other high teas I've had. Definitely worth a try if you have some time whilst visiting Brisbane.

Direction: Adelaide St. Catch the 471 and get off at the last stop at Summit Peak.

Summit Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hanaichi Sushi Bar

Hanaichi Sushi Bar
Address: Wintergarden, Queen St, Brisbane

Despite the number of Japanese restaurants in Brisbane, finding a sushi bar has not been easy (especially in the city). Hanaichi is in fact the first one I have found in Brisbane CBD.

I was a little bit skeptical, especially knowing that it is the same chain run by the Chinese owner that does all the Hanaichi takeaways. Not that there's anything wrong, Hanaichi does cheap and good lunches that I frequently visit.

But truth be told, I was surprised by the sushi bar. The food is fresh and the orders were delivered fast. And by per plate, the price is comparable to other sushi bars you would find.

The only thing that I thought the restaurant could do better was perhaps to have more variety and some specialty dishes. But then again, sometimes, it's the simplicity and the basics that makes and breaks a restaurant.

However, I would have preferred if they offered kitsune udon, but that's just a personal thing as I prefer to have a simple/non fried vegetarian udon with the sashimi and whatnot.

Recommended: Take you pick. The great thing about sushi bar is that you can have whatever you like.
Direction:Exit Central Station, cross ANZAC Square and Post Office Square. Turn right on Queen St. Keep on walking down and you'd hit the shopping strip. The Wintergarden is to the left. Go past Hilton, there's Coach and there's set of escalators. Go up and the sushi bar is to the right handside.

Hanaichi Sushi Bar + Dining on Urbanspoon