Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jimmy Grants and Gelato Messina

Jimmy Grants:

Pita ($2.50) with Taramosalata Dip ($5.00)

Steamed Jimmy Dimmy ($5.00)

Slightly hipster soft drinks (not complaining)

Grain Salad ($8.00)

The Bonegilla ($8.50)
Combo chicken + lamb, mustard aioli, chips, onions, parsley


The Patris ($9.50)
Prawns, attiki honey, mayo, cucumber, mint, coriander

The Bonegilla... Dissected 

Gelato Messina:

Messina's most famous ice cream cake?

I like how they display their ice cream in ginormous spheres

Just towards the end of last year, I caught with Shellie, April, Kat and Ling (along with their hubbies and kids) over a souvlaki and ice cream run on a nice, sunny Sunday afternoon. Perfect. 

It was my second visit to Jimmy Grants and I do declare that that place is AWESOME. The souvlakis were a home run each time. First, I love how the pita bread is crusty on the outside, yet soft and pillowy on the inside. Delish. Plus, the grilled meat is done perfectly and paired with an incredible aioli. Could not fault it one bit and I was just surprised by how much I liked it the first time. Then, surprised again by how spot on it was the second time too. Plus, the fact that it's under $10 just makes it such an awesome value. Not the biggest souvas around, but I liked that it gives you room to order the side dishes or perhaps share a second souva with your friends ;). Oh and also, you HAVE to order the Jimmys Dimmys -- hands down most awesome dimmys in town! Uber thin skin and I love the incredibly soft texture and vibrant flavour of the filling. Surprising that the best dimmys is from a Greek restaurant, but respectably so. On the other hand, I don't think I enjoyed the famous grain salad as much as others did.

After a lovely lunch with the gang, we took a short stroll one block down to the newly opened Gelato Messina. I remember having the famous gelato chain in Sydney in 2011 for the first time. It was at The Star casino, I had the blood orange sorbet and it was great. I liked the interior of their new Melbourne branch. Shellie and I shared the Jack Daniel Smoked Chocolate Ice Cream and also the French Apple Pie. Put it this way, I loooove a boozy dessert. I'll be honest, I like them really boozy. The ones that you feel can almost knock you out. Let's just say that the JD flavoured ice cream almost took me there. French Apple Pie was so delicious too. Is it really the best ice cream in town, I don't know. I think I enjoyed Messina not so much for the ice cream, but because I had a fantastic lunch prior with awesome company. But truthfully speaking, that's how ice cream is meant to be enjoyed, isn't it?

Once again, I just cannot get enough of the food scene in the Fitzroy area. There's so much to eat and experience whether you're going for breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper. Grabbing a souvlaki lunch at Jimmy Grants followed by dessert at Messina. WICKED. And I recommend people do the same too. Otherwise, my other favourite thing to do at night in the area is to grab dinner at Vegie Bar before heading to have awesome n2 Gelato for dessert.

Jimmy Grants on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sun Mei Chinese Restaurant Using Delivery Hero

Note: All photos taken with my iPhone 4s

Orange Duck in Batter - $17.50

BBQ Pork with Plum Sauce & Veg - $12.90

Fish Fillet with Salt and Pepper - $17.50

Combination Beancurd & Veg - $14.90

Beef with Noodles & Veg - $12.90

Louisa from Delivery Hero Australia contacted me one evening to ask if I wanted to collaborate with her on a Chinese New Year collaboration she's working on on their website. 

Everyone who knows me understands that Chinese New Year is, without a doubt, the most important time of the year for me ever since I was born. I'll be honest, I was a little hesitant about taking part initially as things have been quite busy for me recently. However, I went for it anyway because I love sharing my Chinese New Year memories and traditions with other people. I was asked a number of questions regarding the holiday, which I was more than glad to answer. Just the thought of this significant holiday immediately brings a smile to my face.

Louisa then gave me a voucher to spend on their website. My friends and I had plans to stay in on Friday night to catch the Federer and Nadal Australian Open tennis match (epic!) so I couldn't have thought of a better time to use it. I was right.

The food took a little over an hour to arrive, which was fine. We knew it would normally take as long anyway. We were so excited like little children when the delivery man rang the bell that we could've given him a big fat hug to say thanks. The anticipation of food delivery is quite fun, actually.

The battered duck with a side of orange sauce was definitely new to us. A Chinese version of the famous French dish: duck a l'orange. BBQ pork dish wasn't great as some of the veg was a tad bitter and I found it to be too saucy. Battered fish was crunchy and delicious, the clear fav of the night. If I knew the sauce for the beancurd dish was going to be so similar to the BBQ pork, I might've opted for something else to get more variety. Noodles were a bit thick and floury but I can't help it because these are the only noodles I order from a Chinese restaurant.

Foodwise, it wasn't great. Highly expected anyway, so no disappointments from our end. People who order Chinese takeaway (or most other takeaway cuisine, for that matter) don't actually expect it to be the best things we've ever eaten. In fact, more often than not, our motivation is quite the opposite. You want something quick. And bad for you. Because we rarely do this to ourselves anyway. Just don't order this for your Chinese Mum and Dad and you'll be fine.

At the end of the day? You wonder to yourself why you would get Chinese takeaway when it isn't really Chinese food and you know that it's going to leave you with a slight feeling of regret. The answer is because it's so bad that it's good. It's so good that it's bad. Plus, you get a certain satisfaction from it that simply cannot, cannot be replaced with anything else but Chinese takeaway. Sometimes, it really is the perfect thing to have for a night in with friends. 

Hope you're all as excited about the Tennis Finals as I am! Chinese New Year is next weekend and I've already started being very busy, busy, busy with all the prep for it. Lots of work but I know it's going to be worth it. Can't wait to blog about it after!

Happy Australia Day and Chinese New Year to all of you celebrating!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Winston received a voucher to spend on the Delivery Hero Website. All opinions are honest and based on own personal experience at the time.

Sun Mei on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rose and Raspberry Filo Tartlets

Filo pastry makes the most amazing tart shells. It's ultra crisp yet holds its shape really well. Plus, I love the loud crunch you hear when people start biting into these babies.

My friend Grace was generous enough to invite about 15 of us over to her place for hotpot dinner one night. I decided to make these Rose and Raspberry Filo Tartlets as a little "thank you".

These tartlets are so easy to make and way easier to inhale. Such a delicious and light dessert. And what I like most is that the hint of rosewater in the custard is such a nice surprise. No one saw it coming when they bit into it but it works so well, especially with the fresh raspberries.

So, I highly recommend that you give this recipe a go, while we still have so much fresh raspberries available. Warning: these babies will go quick (too tasty and easy to eat) so be sure to make more.

Rose and Raspberry Filo Tartlets Recipe

(makes 24 tarts, adapted from this video recipe by Sorted Food)


1 pack of filo pastry
80g butter (melted)
500ml milk
5 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
45g plain flour
1 tsp rose water
1 punnet of fresh raspberries
Handful of pistachios


1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Blitz the pistachios in a mini food processor or chop it finely with a knife.

2. Handle one filo pastry at a time. Use the tip of the knife to draw 10cm squares on the sheet (so that it can be removed easily later). Brush the entire sheet of filo pastry with melted butter.

3. Remove 4 squares and place them on top of one another in a muffin tin. Make sure you offset each square slightly as you layer them (for extra crunch). You don't want neat stacks. Place them in a cupcake tin. Repeat for the remaining holes in the tin.

4. Bake in the oven for 6 to 7 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack. Repeat steps 1 to 4 to bake another batch.

5. Heat the milk in a pot until bubbles start to form on the sides of the pot. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, rose water and flour thoroughly in a separate bowl.

6. Pour a third of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Whisk. Add the remaining hot milk into the egg mixture. Whisk.

7. Pour mixture back into the pot and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly until start to thicken and coat the back of the spoon. Pour into heatproof bowl/tray and allow to cool for 1 hour.

8. Once tartlet shells and custard is cooled, spoon the custard into all the tartlet shells. You can give the custard a quick stir with the spoon if you see a layer of skin forming at the top.

9. Garnish each tartlet with fresh raspberries and pistachio crumbs.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Third Wave Cafe, Prahran

Beef Ribs - $25.00

Russian Sampler Plate - $26.90

Admittedly, this mushroom parcel thing was fantastic

I was invited by Third Wave Cafe to come drop by their newly opened cafe in Prahran. I took Mum to the tasting as well as she happened to be in town during that time. Our experience when we walked in was pleasant. Greeted with a large sea of natural light that filled the entire room. Not bad.

Our meal was off to an alright start. Chose the ribs cause that sounded delicious and also decided to try the Russian platter because we don't think we've seen anything like that anywhere before. We asked the waiter to explain the elements in the Russian platter because they weren't in English and we didn't know what they were. He couldn't tell us as well because he didn't know. Never mind. Ribs were a tad dry but we were quite forgiving as it was a huge chunk, which is always hard to keep moist. 

Very unfortunately, the meal took a sour turn when the waiter made a rather rude remark to us. He asked how we found the food. We were honest to say that we found the food to be quite enjoyable (despite the tough and dry beef) with the slight exception of the Russian dumplings. The skins were WAAAY too thick -- just thick flour, little filling and barely any sauce on top. When we expressed politely that our preference was for it to be slightly thinner (since he asked for our honest opinions anyway), he replied by saying "Well, these aren't meant to be like Chinese dumplings anyway." Wow........... Just, WOW. I don't normally get offended by things but this really struck a chord. Mum and I looked at each other in disbelief. What? Just because we're of Chinese heritage our minds are so narrow that we can't appreciate any dumplings that isn't from our culture? Okay, even though I've never been to Eastern Europe myself but I did have the Russian dumplings made by a true Russian at Pelmini Kitchen which was literally a 3min walk down the road from there at the Prahran Market. Now, THOSE ones were incredible and I recommend people to try next time you're at the market. Everything about them was delicious, nothing like the one at Third Wave.Whatever. This waiter obviously didn't know what he was talking about because on a separate occasion we asked if they made their own house jam. He told us that they did but we later realised it was clearly store bought as we had to break open a seal and there was a label from the supplier. WHATEVER, GUY.

Without being too touched by the previous remark, I tried to maintain completely objective about my thoughts on Third Wave Cafe. I still didn't really like the place. Why? There were 8 pages and almost 70 food items in that menu... Seriously?? Too much!! There was so damn much to go through that we scanned the menu so quickly that we weren't really processing what they had. It's like they put everything they could think of under the sun in the menu. Everything gets lost.

Honestly, what this does is make it hard for people to identify what the specialties are. You know, dishes that as soon as you see it just jumps straight out of the page. And trust me, most truly successful restaurant always has that 1 or 2 dish that everyone just raves about... Specialties

In fact, I couldn't even tell what type of restaurant they were. There was American... Australian... Middle Eastern... Russian... Mexican... Etc etc etc. I don't think any business can truly strive if they don't have any focus. It really did give me a sense that they weren't sure what they were doing. I mean, what is their identity? I don't believe that any establishment that fails to possess an identifiable value proposition to the customer segment will ever succeed. For example, imagine coming across a sign that says, "Hi, we make good Chinese, Mexican and African food. Come try.". Would you want to dine there? I sure as hell wouldn't.

To be honest, they really could have done much better with the Russian Platter if they handled themselves better. That dish definitely piques a lot of interest (which is a good start to begin with) and with the right approach, it can really create a strong identity because it's good to be famous or known for something. Branding. Too bad they failed to explain and execute the dish when we were there.

Like I said, I remain completely objective about my experience of Third Wave as most of it had nothing to do with that comment. Price is fair for its portion. But the food wasn't anything I would rave about. Yes to mushroom parcel only but no to dry and tough meat or chewy dumplings, thanks. Plus, they've lost my interest with their lack of focus in their vision for their cafe. Oh, and better treatment and language from a staff that actually knows what they're talking about would be much appreciated too.... Just sayin'

Disclaimer: Winston dined as a guest of Third Wave Cafe. All opinions are honest and based on own personal experience at the time.

Third Wave on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Spending Christmas and New Year in my Hometown

The spread I prepared for my family for Christmas Day lunch

As you might've seen if you follow me on Instagram (@winceeee), I spent 3 weeks over the Christmas and New Year holiday to visit my family in Kota Kinabalu (KK), Malaysia. It has been years since my WHOLE family has been back together at the same place/time and the last time that happened was during my brother's wedding several years ago. Since then, we've had a new addition to the family: my little nephew Aiden =)

It was a really cherished time for me. I had lots of time to reflect on various aspects of my life over the break. 2013 was definitely the most unforgettable year yet. Starting full time at a job that I love, meeting so many new friends (whilst saying farewell to many) whilst continuously sharing my passion for Food with others. I've had so much fun but taking time off really allowed me to reevaluate how I can continue to lead a more positive life in as many ways possible. Hopefully, this positivity will spill over to those around me as well. 

Anyway, it was a really blessed and fulfilling holiday and I loved every minute of it. So much has happened (and was eaten) but here's just a snapshot of some meals I had at home as well as snippets from a few family road trips that we took.

Christmas Lunch:

Once again... Easy Roast Pork with Crackling. I highly recommend people try out my recipe for roasting the pork with milk -- the jus is incredible! 

Check out my recipe: here

Smoked Chilli Mussels that I bought from Dannes Delights in Victoria Market

Garden Salad

Tasty Lamb Stew with Pasta. Recipe to come.

Winter Solstice Festival (冬至) Dinner

Mum's Ham, Abalone and Kailan Jade Chicken. Recipe to come.

Mum's Braised Chicken, Mushroom and Sea Cucumber in Superior Sauce. Recipe to come.

Sister's Glutinous Rice Balls with Peanut Filling in Ginger and Pandan Syrup

Road trip to Keningau

BEST Char Siew or Chinese Roast Pork in my life. Fantastical. 

Mixed Pork in Chinese Yellow Rice Wine Soup

Mixed Pork in Preserved Cabbage, Tomato and Tofu Soup

Mixed Pork in White Pepper Soup

Dry Bak Kut Teh

(All meals above were from Restoran Lima Ribu 5000 in Keningau)

Grilled Fish with Sambal

Seafood Curry

Road trip to Tamparuli

Steamed Pumpkin Bun

Imperial Pork Chops (排骨王)

Stir fry Mixed Pork

Crispy Fried Whole Chicken

Tamparuli Noodles

New Year's Day Lunch

Roast Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Anchovies

Another simple meal I prepared for my family 

Buttery Mash with Fried Onions and Mushroom

Adapted from my Buttery Mash Recipe: here

Buttered Red and Purple Carrots, Cauliflower, Peas

On a separate occasion, Mum made the most delicious Baked King Tiger Prawns with Garlic and Cheese. It was crazy good and the size of my entire hand

Hope you're all of to a smashing start to 2014. Happy New Year!

For a snapshot of what a festive dinner is normally like in my family as prepared by Mum, click: here

For a snapshot of what the food scene in Kota Kinabalu is like, click: here