Monday, August 27, 2012

Movida Next Door, CBD

The ever beautiful Hosier Lane... Just as stunning at night as it is by day

G'day everybuddy!

I sincerely apologise for the lack of updates the past few weeks. The past 7 days has been SO crazy at uni and I honestly don't think I've been stretched this thin for such a long time. Sleeping at 5am, leave for uni in the morn and only back at 2am, the whole shebang... And me, being me, I still chose to go out with friends for a good time despite all my crazy commitments. I brought this upon myself. But you know what, NO REGRETS. Got everything done in time and still managed to have a BLAST with friends in between.

Why? Because my motto is to: "Work hard, play harder".

Only thing is that my body completely broke down at the end of last night and has been trying to recover desperate ever since. I've obviously put too much stress on it the past week. Sigh...

Any-hoo, back to the post. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you'll notice that I've been posting a lot more Reviews than I do Recipes recently. Normally, I try to have a good balance of both. The reason is because the number of restaurant posts in my drafts folder is just so insane at the moment that I can't stand it. Plus, delaying some recipes just gives me more time/opportunity to re-shoot them when I can hehe. Hope you're all okay with this for now, though! But I'll definitely be back later in the week for a recipe post ;)

So, this meal was had sometime last semester. A few of us met for the first time at the Cacao Green Tasting we did, so we decided to plan a dinner together afterwards and I'm glad to finally be able to share our meal with you today. One thing about our meal was that we ordered a bunch of stuff off their "Specials" menu, which I'll highlight in blue, as reference.

Now, on to the food!

Monte Enebro -- $8.00
(Roquefort Culture Semi Soft Goat's Cheese with Figs)

I swear this tasted just like a mild blue cheese, but so delicious! Smooth, creamy, soft and the candied figs added just a nice amount of sweetness to each bite. LIKE.

Mejilliones -- $19.00
(Mussels in Wine)

Great!! Though, the sauce was a bit mild. But, the mussels were so fresh and tender. In fact, I think they were slightly undercooked, which was why they were on the softer side, but I preferred it that way.

Sesos -- $5.50
(Fried Lamb Brains)

YESSSSS!! If you know me, you'll know that I'm a HUGE fan of innards and offals.

This was perfect and right on the money. Creamy and delicious, almost like a semi-firm custard. Deep fried till perfection and I enjoyed the bearnaise-like sauce underneath. Awesome!

Bomba -- $4.80 each
(Chorizo-Filled Catalan Potato Bomb with a Spicy Sauce)

Definitely the most underwhelming dish of the night, for me. Mainly because it was almost $5 each and nothing special, IMO. If only they were more generous with the filling, otherwise it just tastes like any other croquette to me.

In fact, I still prefer eating Koroke (Japanese croquettes) more than this... Ha.

Berenjenas -- $12.50
(Eggplant Chips with Salmorejo)

SOOO GOOD!! Uber thing, crisp on the outside with a soft, fleshy centre. Seriously addictive, couldn't stop eating. BEST.

Pez -- $25.00
(Hapuka in Burnt Butter Sauce)

Now, this was actually my first time eating Hapuka (from the waters of New Zealand), a fish that I'd heard about for sometime. Glad to finally get the chance because it was AMAAAZING. Honestly, one of my favourite fishes now. Flesh was firm enough to hold its shape well but still so delicate in the mouth with a faint taste of the ocean. I love it so much. Perfect sauce to go with it too. Hope you get the chance to try the Hapuka here too!

Morcilla -- $16.00
(Blood Sausage with Baby Brussel Sprouts, Croutons and 65 Degree Egg)

FAVOURITE DISH OF THE NIGHT, and there were lots of great ones to choose from too. It was picture perfect, as soon as it hit the table. And the baby brussel sprouts were just too cute for words.

First, it was delicoius because it was the spicy kind of morcilla, which I enjoy. Jam-packed with flavour and fragrance. Plus, the fried croutons made were crisp and delicious.

But, best thing about it was how the super soft egg just bound everything on the plate together. Loved it so, so much. Best blood sausage dish I've had so far. Beautiful.

I even asked the waitress if there was any chance they would put this on their permanent menu and she said that it's very likely it will be running throughout Winter, because it's a nice and hearty dish. GO TRY!

Crema Catalana -- $13.50
(Baked Citrus and Cinnamon Custard)

Now, the desserts... Wee-hee~ The waiter told us that this was different from a creme brulee (because it's more citric), but I disagree. Call me uncultured, but this was baked custard with a torched sugar layer on top. CREME BRULEE! Plus, it wasn't that citric to begin with.

This was okay, but I still prefer normal creme brulee with vanilla pods. Though, the crust was perfect. Good sound, good crack and enjoyed that it was slightly dark/burnt.

Churros Con Chocolate -- $12.00
(Spanish Doughnuts with Rich Drinking Chocolate)

Churros weren't too dense or oily, which was nice. Chocolate was rich but not sweet. Nice.


Overall, quite impressed by all the food we ate that night, and it was honestly one of the better meals I've had in Melbourne. Granted, most of the mains we ordered were from the Specials menu, which would be a shame if it's not there anymore because they were DELICIOUS! I'm still grinning just thinking about each of the dishes from that night and must say that I really like this place, more than I expected. Try and order these dishes, if you can.

Movida Next Door isn't exactly cheap given the portions, so I guess it'd be more suitable if you're a working professional? One of those meals that put me back to homecooking for the next 5 nights, but it was worth it. Also, thanks again to Ashley, Drew and Ming for their great company that night. Always a pleasure and definitely look forward to eating with all of you again, woo-hoo! =D

MoVida Next Door on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wince's Faves: Ume Sushi House & Brother Baba Budan, CBD

Their chirashi is just SO picture perfect!!

I think my love and enthusiasm towards food and cooking definitely comes from my family. Each one of my family members and I are such foodies, but in very different ways. For instance, I like how my Sister and I have very different taste/circles and so a lot of places that she likes to go, are places that I would never have heard of or think of trying until she brings it up! And I'm so grateful for that because a number of places that I LOVE eating now are recommendations made by my Sis, including Ume Sushi.

In turn, this place has slowly become a family favourite (as Mum always makes sure we take her here on every visit!) as well as somewhere that I'd take close friends or friends who are visiting in Melbourne for a nice, simple lunch.

Really convenient location, too!

This place is prolly somewhere most of you have walked past, because it's actually just on Lt Bourke and in between Elizabeth & Queen St! I know I have and never thought much about this place until my Sister actually brought us here.

There's a lot of things I enjoy about Ume Sushi... No.1 being the Chirashi!! But we'll get to that in a sec...

Tuna Sushi Roll with Wasabi

What I normally do when I'm here is order a serve of the Chirashi, and also one Tuna Sushi Roll on the side. It's rolled up nice and tight and the fillings are generous, with toasted sesame seeds to back it up.

But best part is the Wasabi cream that they use here, instead of the usual Wasabi + Soy Sauce. Goes so well with the Tuna rolls!

Chirashi Sushi -- $11.90

Whenever people ask me, "Where do you go in the city when you have a sashimi craving?" I can think of two places. And this is definitely one of them!!!

It's SO comforting to me because it's very straight-forward, but very generous with the ingredients (esp the sashimi) whilst being so beautifully presented. Each and everytime. I like it a lot also because you can see how the chef behind the sushi counter always has a smile on his face when he makes this. He's so careful and pedantic when assembling this dish but you can also tell how much he enjoys preparing it.

There's just true joy on the face of the person preparing the food and it definitely translates into a wonderful final product, which people genuinely enjoy. I honestly do feel so happy for him, because it's evident that he loves what he does. And don't you think that it's quite rare to see on people's faces these days...?

Usually they give a mix of Tuna/Salmon sashimi but sometimes, they let you opt for all salmon only

So what makes this so enjoyable to eat? Well, basically everything about it. The fresh sashimi, slices of avo, strips of inari, rice seasoning, seaweed, tamago and even the bits of fish roe. Not to mention how the sushi rice is slightly sweet from the mirin and also has a small amount of Jap mayo to bind all the ingredients together.

Mix it all up and every bite is just such a joy to eat!

There's many other great chirashis in Melb (other fav would def be ShiraNui at G. Waverley) but I don't compare to see "which one is better" because they're so diff everywhere you go =). I actually really don't like answering those kind of questions TBH (lol) and go to diff places because they offer diff things, not because which ones I'd "rank higher".

How can you not smile when presented with a dish like this?

- The chirashi is impeccable each time (seriously perfect for sashimi cravings)
- Their wasabi cream
- The other food here is really delicious too (apart from the bain marie stuff, which I stay away from so wouldn't know). For instance, they do one of the better tempuras and their yakiniku udon is utterly delicious as well
- Price is reasonable
- They give 10% discount for students!!! (which means students only pay $10+ for this lovely dish)

Now, who says cheap student eating has to be all quantity and no quality? =)

Ume Sushi House on Urbanspoon

Another thing I love doing everytime I finish eating at Ume Sushi House is to take a short walk, couple of doors down to head to my FAVOURITE coffee place in the CBD, Brother Baba Budan! And I strongly recommend you do the same =D

I came here with my good friend, S, after yet another great meal at Ume. And we both love this place so much that I now call him my "Brother Baba Budan Buddy" aka "BBBB". Lol.


Soy Piccolo Lattes

LOVE drinking either their Soy Piccolos or Soy Magic.

The aftermath. Hard to stop at 1. Great way to end an afternoon of eating/drinking!

I still remember the very first time I had a coffee here at BBB. My eyes immediately lit up and it honestly felt like I just went to Heaven and back. The flavour packed a punch and it felt so good and warm down the throat. No matter what blend they're using that day, their coffee is always bold and the milk is just thick and full. And being welcomed with the most delicious aroma of coffee beans as soon as you step into this quaint little cafe played a big part in my exciting coffee experience here each time. Definitely stimulates the senses.

Though, I think there's a lot of places that do great coffees in Melb but I still like coming back here more, particularly because it takes me back to the time I had my first coffee here, several years ago. It's not just the coffee itself, but the feeling I get everytime I take a sip of BBB coffee. It's sensational. And I love it =)

Brother Baba Budan on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Beef Ribs in Tomato Sauce + COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY!!!

A great cookbook that I'm SURE you would
(image source: The Pioneer Woman)

Sooooooo... I bought a cookbook by The Pioneer Woman a couple of months ago from Fishpond. But, what happened was that they sent me an extra copy by mistake. Yikes! I wasn't sure what to do with the extra copy so I e-mailed them to ask if it was okay for me to use it as a giveaway... And they said YES!

YIPPEEEEEE~~~ Thanks, Fishpond!!

The thing is, I am VERY particular with the cookbooks that I buy but there's so many reasons why I just knew deep down that THIS was the cookbook for me.

Her food is SO utterly delicious because it's the exactly type of food that people crave to eat. Shown in jaw-dropping photography. Plus, they're simple to do! Not to mention how incredibly funny she is. And if you've read her blog, you'll know what I mean. You'll also realise why that this woman is so spectacular in so many ways that it's no wonder she's one of the most popular food bloggers in the world. Period.

So! Want to win a copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier? I'm going to make it very easy for you =)

Here's how to enter:

Simply leave a comment at the bottom.

As many times throughout the competition.
But max once per day.
Competition ends: 8pm, 22nd August (Wed)
Open to Australian residents only.
Winner will be selected at random.

AND... If you tweet this link OR like my Facebook page, you get 3 extra votes -- yay!

Feel free to let me know if you've commented and already a fan of my FB page. I'll know what to do. Best of luck to you all! =)


To accompany this post, I've decided to share one of my ALL-TIME favourite recipes by The Pioneer Woman. There's so many to choose from, because I've made so many of her recipes by now and they've all been such a huge hit every single time, no kidding!

But, this Beef Ribs in Tomato Sauce has GOT to be one of the best. Takes long to cook, but honestly, very minimal effort. Final product is deeeeeliciously slow cooked beef ribs, where the meat just falls off the bone and fats/tendons/cartilage just melts in your mouth. All drizzled in seriously lip smackingly good sauce.

Now, THIS is why I love The Pioneer Woman's recipes and also why I'm sure you'd enjoy her cookbook as much as me. Do give this recipe a go, you won't be disappointed!

NOTE: By all means, you can choose to cook and braise the beef in a single dutch oven. But, if you're like me and don't own a dutch oven yourself, just cook it in a pan before transferring to a large oven proof casserole pot (like Corningware). Otherwise, a baking tray covered in aluminium foil would work too. Just as long as it's covered and beef is submerged in sauce as much as possible =)

Beef Ribs in Tomato Sauce
(slightly adapted from this recipe by The Pioneer Woman, serves 6)


1.5 kg short (or beef) ribs *
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp sugar
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 whole onion, diced
1 cup red wine
2 cans (14 oz) whole tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce **
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
1/4 tsp dried herbs
500g fettuccine
Grated cheese ***
Minced fresh parsley

* I can never find short ribs so I just buy normal beef ribs and get the butcher to cut it to about 2.5 inch long pieces
** Or mix 3 tbsp tomato paste + water in the 14 oz can
*** I LOVE the Mexican Blend from Costco. Good in sharpness and gooeyness. My shredded cheese of choice


Preheat oven to 140degC. Heat olive oil in a heavy pot over medium to high heat. Sprinkle the ribs with salt and pepper.

Brown the ribs in oil, in batches until nice and golden. Very important for holding its shape cause we'll be braising for several hours in the oven! Remove to plate.

Throw garlic and onions into the pan. Stir to cook for a minute or two, then add tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, salt, chilli flakes and thyme. Stir to combine.

With tongs, set short ribs back into the pan, submerging as much as possible in the sauce. Transfer to casserole pot. Cover pot and place in the oven. Cook for 3.5 - 4 hours. Short ribs should be tender and falling off the bone.

Remove ribs from the pot. Allow pot to cool, then refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, remove from the refrigerator and remove all the hardened fats/grease from the top. Discard. Return pot to stovetop or oven and warm it up.

Cook pasta as per packet instructions. Serve the sauce and beef ribs generously on a bed of cooked pasta. Sprinkle generously with shredded cheese and chopped parsley. DELICIOUSSSS!!!

As you can see, I didn't have fresh parsley but it does make a big difference!

SO yum I seriously could not contain myself

The "Knock You Naked" Brownies that I've blogged about (here) was also featured in this cookbook. Great!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mamasita, CBD

I'm a really slow blogger, if you don't know this by now. Most of my meals that I blog about would've taken place about 3 - 6 months ago. Any of you like that too? But, what I do is that IMMEDIATELY after I get home from eating at a restaurant, I would write up a very rough but detailed draft of my meal there. Then, I'll only take it out to polish it later on when it's time to blog about it. That way, I wouldn't have to crack my brain to try and remember what it was like because everything had been documented already.

So, I came and dined at Mamasita a couple of moons ago with Bryan (aka Fatboo) and Jo (aka Fakegf). Neither of us had tried this place before so we were quite excited. And what I love about dining with these guys is that they always make me feel SO comfortable (and less like an idiot) for taking as much time as I need to take my food photos. Plus, they're such lovely people to dine with, seriously!

Another thing I remembered distinctly about our meal there was how DIFFICULT the lighting was for us that day!! We had a big window just above us and it was difficult because it kept shining very harsh, direct light onto only certain parts of our table. So, it was very hard to find a balance because half the dish would be overexposed and the other would be under. Bah!! Then, just when we thought we had gotten the hang of it, a cloud would come and cast its shadows and we're back to square one again. Ughhhh... Natural light is good, but only when it's controlled.

ANYHOO, here's a recap of our meal =D

Bryan's Margarita -- $17.00

Elotes Callejeros -- $4.90
("Street Style" chargrilled corn, queso, chipotle mayo and lime)

My friend S made me promise I would order this because he was raving on and on about it, so I did. Let me just say, chipotle and lime is such an UNBEATABLE combo, seriously. And you get the deeper smokiness from chipotle as opposed to regular smoked paprika. Corn was buttery grilled all the way through and was super tender and bursting from each bite. Sprinkled with a tiny bit of cheese and SET.

Though, $5 for a small corn on a cob, hmmm... Maybe just once but prolly not after this haha

Little salsa verde on the side... Mmmm

Next, we each ordered a side of tacos but gave each other a taste, which is always fun to do ;p

Taco de Moronga -- $6.00
(Grilled black pudding, jalapeño herb mayo & apple)

Liked this a lot. Flavour of the black pudding wasn't as intense as I'd normally prefer it to be, but still quite nice overall. Slight crispiness on the outside too

Taco de Berenjena -- $5.00
(Eggplant, zucchini, huitlacoche & guacamole)

Sauce was great. Very moist taco to eat but I liked it

Taco de Lengua y Cachete -- $6.00
(Braised ox tongue & cheek, pickled veg & ghost chilli mayo)

*DING DING DING*! Winner of the tacos! The strands of meat was moist, but still really, really crispy! Glad that this wasn't a saucy dish because it was just nice with the salsa verde, yum. Really delish, this one

Ceviche de Veracruz -- $15.00
(Snapper, tomato, olive, green chilli, lime & coriander)

Another awesome lime combo would have to be chilli and lime. Actually, come to think of it, lime goes with a lot of things. I especially like em in my papaya/paw paw, Ribena, etc etc.

Beautiful. Just, lovely.

ANYWAY, this ceviche was AWESOME!! I thought the size of the fish was just right (in little cubes) for it to be cooked all the way through by the acid. But the flavours were fantastic. Fresh, vibrant and almost dancing off my palates. Think it's prolly my favourite ceviche to date.

Mole negro con pollo -- $24.00
(Black mole with raised right confit chicken maryland)

First of all, this dish tastes nothing like the smell, it was interesting. AND, it kinda looked like a Chinese dish cause of the sesame seeds, chilli and coriander LOL

First time eating mole, actually. And omg this dish got super messy to eat after a while. The spices seemed almost Moroccan, but had a deeper and slightly darker (bitter) aftertaste. Sauce was quite addictive, it tasted very peculiar, but in a good way and I couldn't help but keep taking one scoop after another.

As I said, messy but addictive!

Flautas dulces de calabaza -- $12.00
(Blue corn flautas, pumpkin mousse & praline)

Blue corn chips...?! That's right. Something I've only seen on TV but didn't get a chance to try until now. Deep fried too. WIN! It's great because it wasn't as sweet as expected, seeing as there's condensed milk and praline.

The pumpkin mousse was smooth, creamy and subtle in flavour, which made it nice to eat with everything else on the plate. Plus, it just looked great on the plate. We liked this too!

Piña a la parilla -- $10.00
(Grilled pineapple, lemon chilli sorbet, orange piquin syrup & coconut)
I... Thought this dessert was just okay, nothing particularly exciting. I actually had something similar to the lemon chilli sorbet as a dare once, which was ice blended lime juice with chillies, so maybe that's why.

Also, it might've been hard for them to get sweeter, fresher pineapples (as these were quite bland) cause it's not in season, but it's not their fault.


Overall, quite an enjoyable meal at Mamasita. I liked tasting the variety of food on the menu and would definitely come back to taste more. Was also decent place to chill for a looong (2 hour) lunch on a nice, pleasant afternoon.

Service staff were cool and laid back, whilst maintaining a level of professionalism. My favourite kind of service. Robot staff are the worst. To me, this played a part in making the meal more enjoyable. Maybe cause it wasn't busy when we went, hmmm... After hearing all the horror stories about long queues and rushed service, I feel fortunate for not having experienced that myself.

So, I guess when it comes to eating at a popular restaurant like Mamasita, best to head there for a late lunch on a weekday when it's less busy, if you can =)

If you like, you can also check out Bryan's awesome post on Mamasita: here
(his photos turned out waaay better than mine so do chekkitout! ;p)

Oh, oh and alsooo... My next post (which will be up in a few days) is going to be a GIVEAWAY, so do stay tuned...!! =]

Mamasita on Urbanspoon