Monday, March 31, 2014

Roasted Potato Stacks Recipe

I've got a very distinct memory of making these roasted potato stacks because I remembered it being the best and worst time for me to make them back then.

It was one of the last few work days of 2013 (just as our office was about to shut down for 3 weeks for the Christmas break). I got home from work at about 7:45pm that evening with my brain feeling completely fried after such an intense and hectic day.

Not wanting to buy lousy takeaway despite feeling famished by the time I got home, I decided to make these potato stacks for the first time anyway. Even though it was quite late already, I was still adamant about scrubbing, cleaning, slicing and stacking these potatoes one by one before preparing the salmon and salad to go with them as well. Suffice to say, dinner was only had rather late but it was so worth it. 

My friends never get me when I tell them I'd still rather cook even if I'm back from work late and tired. The thing is, the lousier my day's been, the more I'm likely to cook something more substantial (despite it taking more time and effort). Why? Because there really is nothing that makes me happier after a long day at work than a healthy, wholesome, home cooked meal like this. Even if I have to do it myself. Takeaway food always makes me feel so shit. Period.

Really happy with how these babies turned out. It tasted amazing and went so well with my dinner. Just reaffirms once again why Kipfler potatoes are my ultimate favourite potatoes to roast.

In short, these roasted potato stacks really cheered me and I do hope that they bring as much joy to you as it did to me.

Roasted Potato Stacks with Crispy Skin Salmon and Salad in Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

A bit of Jap mayo with my salmon, of course

Roasted Potato Stacks Recipe

(serves 2)


100g potatoes (Kipfler potatoes preferred)
60g butter (melted)
Cracked salt and pepper
Fresh rosemary (finely chopped)


1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Scrub and clean potatoes. Pat dry.

2. Slice potatoes thinly with a mandolin.

3. Lay a metal plate/baking tray with baking paper. Using sliced potatoes of a similar size, place a piece of potato at the bottom. Brush a bit of butter before placing the next piece of potato on top. Repeat the potato/butter layers until the potatoes are stacked to about 1 inch high.

4. Season the top with cracked salt and pepper. Top with chopped rosemary.

5. Bake the potatoes on the plate for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Such a satisfying meal… Hope you give it a go

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Crumbed Pork Cutlets with Creamy Jalapeno & Green Onion Sauce

In case you haven't noticed by now, I am currently on a mini mission to blog all the recipes and reviews that I've got sitting in the backlog for the longest time. All these posts only take up just as much space in the computer as it does the back of my mind. I do hope to get through them, one at a time. I find that my palate has definitely changed a lot as of late so I'd really like the food adventures I share on this blog to be more current and relevant to my life today.

As most of you may know from my Instagram photos, 2013 was really the year of "potlucks" for me. Attending/hosting potlucks left, right and centre. This was a dish I made when I had a potluck one Saturday evening at my place with over 30 of my friends. How I managed to fit everyone in my place is still a mystery.

The cutlets stayed crisp for a really long time until my guests arrive and was enjoyed by all. I decided to make this recipe at the time as I wanted an excuse to buy a meat mallet. Now, I am quite the schnitzel or crumbed cutlet fanatic. The sauce is so easy and tasty too.

Oh, and I know that it's 2014 now and I'm probably 10 years behind, but I've finally made my first GIF! It's like how I only started playing Counter Strike 2 years ago after it's been out for about 10 years? You can tell that I am very much ahead of the times... 

Anyway, hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did.

Crumbed Pork Cutlets with Creamy Jalapeno & Green Onion Sauce

(slightly adapted from this recipe by Food Wishes)


For the pork cutlets:
1kg pork tenderloin (trimmed and cut to 8 equal sized pieces)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup plain flour
2 eggs (beaten)
3 cups panko breadcrumbs 
Oil for frying

For the sauce:
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup dill pickles (diced)
1 large jalapeno pepper (diced and deseeded)
1 cup green or spring onions (sliced)
1 1/2 tbsp plain flour
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper


For the pork cutlets:
1. Place a layer of cling wrap at the top and bottom of each piece of pork. Using a meat mallet, pound or flatten the pork until it is just under 1cm thick. Repeat until all the pork is done.

2. Season both sides of the pork with salt and pepper and lightly coat each cutlet with plain flour in a large plate/tray. 

3. Stir in the beaten egg into the plate/tray and coat the cutlets in egg evenly.

4. Place the panko breadcrumbs in a separate plate and coat each cutlet evenly with the breadcrumbs. Set aside on a large plate. Repeat until all cutlets are coated. Leave in fridge for 20 minutes.

5. Heat up a large pan with 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil. Once hot, fry the cutlets in batches until golden brown on both sides. Should take 4 to 5 minutes per side. Once cooked, set aside.

Tip: You can cook the cutlets hours ahead before your guests arrive. Just place the cutlets on a wire rack in an oven at 60°C to keep warm. Just before serving, crank up the oven to 180°C for 5 minutes to heat up again.

For the sauce:
1. Heat up a pan with the butter. Once butter is melted, stir in the pickles, japanelo and green onions and cook until the onions are softened.

2. Mix in the plain flour. Once the flour is combined, stir in the cold milk and allow to simmer on low for about 5 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.

3. Add in the Worcestershire sauce and a few dashes of cayenne pepper. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. 

4. When ready to serve, place the cutlets on a plate and drizzle with sauce on top. Garnish with more sliced green onions on top. Eat immediately.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Clearing Out My Backlog - Part 3

Wat Da Pho, South Melbourne

I often refer to this resto as the "hipster pho place", which I totally don't mind it being

Jackfruit Smoothie - $5.50

Da Sticks (with Caramelised Coriander Pork) - $9

Pho (Sliced Beef, Beef Brisket, Beef Balls) - $10.80

I've been to Wat Da Pho on 4 occasions by now. Even though the Pho isn't the best in Australia but there's reasons why I keep coming back and would suggest this place to catchup with friends: location and ambience.

My friends and I always come here to get our own bowl of noodle while we would share the caramelised coriander pork skewers to start. These skewers have been off the chain 3 out of 4 times. Incredibly tender, charred and flavourful, so delicious. Then, there was that one time when it did come out a bit too sweet and tough.

In terms of the Pho, I do like the fact that they don't use MSG in their stock at all (believe it or not). Their Pho is decent in taste and size and does the trick. Sure, I would prefer the stock to be a bit more punchy with the beef flavour but most Pho restaurants fail to do this as well anyway.

Personally, I know the food here isn't nearly as good as the ones in Footscray or Richmond (but sometimes, it's close). But, the fact of the matter is that I LOVE that there's a place now that's close to the city with a clean, cool and comfortable environment for me to enjoy Pho (without having to drive all the way to Footscray at night which I dread and dine at a less than comfortable setting) any night of the week. The place is cool, very cool. I call this the "hipster pho" place and is such a good place to catchup with friends over an easy bowl of pho. 

As much as I like the ones at Footscray, I wouldn't necessarily be able to hang out as long and freely as I could here. Which is why, Wat Da Pho fills the need for people who want to enjoy decent pho but is more forgiving with the food itself since it's a nice place to enjoy your meal.

Wat Da Pho on Urbanspoon

Yokoso Izakaya, Moonee Ponds

Aburi Hotate - $9.00
(Seared scallops with japanese citrus ponzu sauce & spices)

Crispy Wagyu - $10.50
(Crumbed wagyu beef ball with Japanese tartar & BBQ sauce)

Yakiyaki Platter - $18.50
(Tori chicken, Wagyu beef, ebi prawn, sake salmon, kinoko mushroom, yasai vege mix)

Double Salmon Roll - $9.50
(4 pieces of salmon roll with avocado and cucumber topped with seared salmon and mayo)

Chirashi Salad - $18.50
(Mixed sashimi on green salad with tobiko and mayo sauce)

Chocolate Spring Roll - $9.50
(Chocolate spring rolls served with green tea ice cream)

Yokoso Izakaya was a place that I've wanted to try for the longest time as I drove past it to and from work every single day for 1 1/2 years. It's always caught my attention from the outside so I brought Mum here when she was last here in November. First, let me just say getting a parking to eat in the area took us 45 minutes on a Friday night. You would think that it'd be easier as it was 9:30pm by then but noooo it was still near impossible. Definitely never spent so long circling for a parking in my life.

When we walked in, the place was packed and buzzing. Filled with young people and young families out on a Friday night. I liked it. To sum up, I am sad to report that the food here was rather underwhelming in general but did have a few standout dishes.

Highlight was definitely the crumbed wagyu which was incredibly crunchy on the outside and bursting with juices on the inside. Their homemade tartar sauce was so rich and flavourful yet zesty too and it tasted amazing. Mum and I LOVED this. It was great. We also enjoyed the chocolate spring rolls very much and commended them on their clever innovation.

Downside was everything else. The skewer platter was not good at all. Chicken - dry. Prawn - like the frozen peeled ones you get at the supermarket. Salmon roll was bland and the salmon and rice completely lacked flavour. The chirashi salad was most disappointing of all as it looked amazing on the plate but tasted anything but. Sure, I liked the idea of it as it had a variety of seared seafood but we couldn't get past the fact that they put so much of a kind of soy sauce in their dressing that it ruined the dish completely and we couldn't taste anything but the overwhelming saltiness. 

Overall, this place has less hits and more misses so I doubt I'll be back as much as I loved the crumbed wagyu balls. 

Yokoso Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Shandong Mama, CBD 

Noodles with Prawn, Pork, Shredded Cucumber & Coriander in Bean Paste - $10.80

Noodles with Shredded Pork, Egg & Seasonal Vegetbles in Sesame Sauce - $10.80

Spicy Chicken Noodles - $8.90

Chive Omelette

Shandong Mama really is a dumpling restaurant like no other.

I find Chinese cuisine to be especially good when they're regional. And I like how that as you're browsing through the menu, you could tell feel that there's so much love in each dish because the entire menu and restaurant is dedicated to the owner's mother. It's rather endearing.

We completely let ourselves go and ordered so many dumplings, including the following:
- Aussie Lamb Fried Dumplings 
- DILL-icious Pork Fried Dumplings
- Mackarel Fried Fish Dumplings
- Melbourne Fried Dumplings
- Beef Dumplings
- Steamed Dumplings

The dumplings here are definitely different from any other dumpling restaurant that we've been to in terms of flavour and appearance. But boy oh boy were they DAMN good or what. The skin is thin and silky but still retained a chewy bite before being fried till crisp. All the fillings were absolutely delicious. Not too heavy and each had a very distinct personality. Favourite was definitely the mackarel fish dumplings and everything else was a close second. Equally amazing.

The noodles really surprised us as well, to be honest. Absolutely LOVED the bean paste and also sesame sauce noodles. They, too, had a slippery mouthfeel and a slight chewy resistance in the bite. The black bean one was so simple yet flavourful and I liked the little prawn chunks you get in the occasional bite. The sesame one too was very interesting as it had strong nutty flavour and the addition of raw garlic seemed odd but completely lifted the dish to another level. We enjoyed the noodles almost as much as the dumplings.

Shandong Mama has really proven itself to be a frontrunner in the Melbourne food scene. It's simple and fuss free but produces damn good food at a reasonable price. I enjoy my visits here each time and am hoping to come back again soon. You have to try Shandong Mama if you haven't been... You won't regret it.

Shandong Mama on Urbanspoon

Proud Mary, Collingwood

Potato Hash - $18.00
(Charred kale, double smoked bacon and an organic poached egg with bagna cauda)

Roasted Mushrooms - $16.50
(Chipotle butter, brioche, whipped goats cheese and a poached egg)

Crispy Pork Belly Sandwich - $15.00
(with smoked paprika reliash and aioli)

Frank and Beans - $17.50
(House pork and fennel sausage, saffron beans, poached egg, garlic fried sourdough)

Avocado - $16.50
(Avocado on farmhouse toast, charred corn, spanish onion & quinoa tabouleh, goats cheese & chilli oil)

Everybody has been telling me that I should go and try Proud Mary. I didn't actually go for the longest time until last October and have been there 3 times in total to date.

I first tried the famous Potato Hash and do agree that it's a tasty and complete dish. Every element served its purpose to make my tummy happy and satisfied. I do enjoy the roasted mushroom dish too but do sometimes find that they give way too much of the goats cheese and brioche can get very soggy and oily if you don't eat it quickly enough. 

The dishes at Proud Mary do hit the spot so I do see why it is always packed and is a favourite amongst many. The food is consistent in quality and comes out from the kitchen surprisingly quick! It's for these reasons why I do think it is a safe place to take friends and family from out of town here for brunch and chances are they will find something they like here.

But if I were to be perfectly honest, I still prefer the food at Breakfast Thieves or Twenty & Six Espresso despite this place being a crowd favourite.

Proud Mary on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Clearing Out My Backlog - Part 2

Monga Izakaya, Glen Waverley

Grilled squid

Grilled Chicken and Chicken Skin Skewers

Chicken Karaage

Baked Scallops

Grilled Salmon Fish Head

Squid Ink Rice

I came here with Thanh and Kim one Friday evening for an overdue catchup. The restaurant was nestled in the hustle and bustle of the main strip of Glen Waverley, where there were packed out restaurants everywhere.

Overall, I wouldn't say that this was my favourite Izakaya in Melbourne. The squid was rubbery and too saucy. Chicken karaage was crumbed instead of battered. Salmon head was moist but way too burnt. Although, I must say that the highlight of the night was the squid ink rice. Absolutely delicious. 

Using Kim as an excuse as she was preggers at the time, we decided to go for a second dinner across the road at Papparich -- which was a wicked idea by the way. To be honest, I didn't care much about what we were eating that night as I was more there for the catchup and boy oh boy did we have a GREAT time or what. Had so much laughs that our stomachs were in stitches all night. Which reminds me, I need to call them up for another dinner soon.

Monga Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Ishiya Stone Grill, CBD

Potato salad

Mini Wagyu Skewers 
(as part of the Tues & Wed set meal)

Grilled Salmon Belly

Roast Duck Breast Stone Grill - $29.90

Aged Tenderloin Steak and Tiger Prawns Stone Grill - $38.90
(as part of the Tues & Wed set meal)

Ishiya Deluxe Stone Grill - $39.90

Teppanyaki Fried Rice - $6.90

Ishiya Stone Grill in the CBD is a place that I've been more than 5 times already as it is a place that my aunt/uncle like to take us to when they're in town. Besides that, I also decided to bring my good friends who were visiting from Perth one evening too. 

I enjoy my meal here every time. I think the steaks are of good quality and the experience of eating/cooking your food on a hot stone to your liking never gets old. Plus, they have all these dipping sauces on the side for you to try that each bite is just different and delicious. Besides getting the stone grill steaks, we also always order the grilled salmon belly which is absolutely DELICIOUS. Grilled till crisp and melts in your mouth. You have to get it when you're here.

Overall, Ishiya is actually more affordable than people think. For $30+ you can actually get a pretty decent steak dinner. Plus, a different kind of experience in a comfortable setting too. Besides that, they do a different kind of promotion every night of the week too -- great value for money. I do recommend you try if you haven't been. 

Ishiya Stone Grill on Urbanspoon

Napier Hotel, Fitzroy

Burger with Chips

Pork Belly with Crackling Special

Kangaroo Fillet with Chips

Braised Beef on Mash Special

Crispy Skin Barramundi

Sticky Date Pudding

I've been to Napier Hotel twice now. The first time we came here was my friend asked me to pick a gastropub to celebrate his birthday. It sounded good on Urbanspoon so we gave it a go.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meal. It was decent and okay. No complaints. Was it the best gastropub? Probably not but boy are they popular (luckily they took bookings). That said, the standout dish at Napier Hotel was the kangaroo fillet. They were friggin tasty and delicious! From the way they marinated and seasoned the meat, to the way they cooked it till its tender. Everyone agreed that it was the dish of the day, quite unassumingly so, in fact.

My mate Calvin and I (who was there with me at the birthday dinner that night) liked it so much that we came back again a second time a few weeks later just to order the kangaroo fillet. In terms of setting, I still think Napier Hotel leans more towards the pub than a gastropub as table setting was very, very casual (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). It's not like people who go there (including us) mind anyway, but just giving you guys a heads up in case you do.

Napier Hotel on Urbanspoon

Sushi Hotaru

Salmon Sashimi with Red Onion

Beef Tataki with Red Onion

Aburi Salmon

Assorted Sashimi

Aburi Scallops and Salmon

Unagi Roll

Tempura Udon

Prawn and Egg Temaki

Prawn Cutlets

Aburi Scallops

I am very careful about where I bring my parents to dinner in Melbourne. Mainly because we don't eat out often (as parents prefer to cook at home, so do I) and they've travelled all the way from Malaysia for a visit. So when we do eat out, I try to make sure it's something they'd enjoy.

Heard about Sushi Hotaru from so many people. I am so sorry to say that my parents and I did NOT enjoy our meal here. Not even close. Everything we had that night was sub par. Sashimi wasn't fresh. Rice was so stiff. Tempura was hard instead of crispy. Everything was really cold and lacked flavour. Plus, I think that their pricing strategy to make everything $3 only limits the choices for premium ingredients (no sight of salmon belly, wagyu or soft shell crab that night) or reduces the portions to almost a measly quantity. I did not like the uniform pricing at all.

This place just did not do it for us at all. If you've had Sushi Train in Adelaide, you would know that the food at that sushi train restaurant there was WAY more superior than the one at Sushi Hotaru. Hands down. 

Once again, Melbourne lacks a good sushi train restaurant. And I know that many people feel my pain and think that this is the answer to their prayers but sadly, it wasn't the case for me. Back to square one. Food here didn't do it for us at all... NEXT!

Sushi Hotaru on Urbanspoon

Pacific House, Richmond

Crispy Skin Pork (or Siew Yoke)

Roast Duck

Pipis in XO Sauce with a side of Chinese Doughnuts (not pictured)

Golden Fried Chicken Ribs (or Chicken Ribs with Salted Duck Egg)

Claypot Sichuan Eggplant

Pi Pa Tofu

3 Egg Spinach

Steamed Eel in Black Bean Sauce

Almost everyone who knows me know that I friggin' LOVE Pacific House, Richmond. It was the very first restaurant I ate when I arrived in Melbourne 6 years go. In fact, my cousin took us straight here after he picked us up at the airport. Pacific House, Richmond is the No. 1 go to restaurant for a family dinner. I'm not exaggerating when I say I must have come here more than 30 times by now... And the funny thing is, it STILL doesn't get old. In fact, I was just here again last week and the week before.

What Pacific House, Richmond is famous for is their roast duck. Their damn roast duck that tastes so damn good every single time. The uber crisp skin, succulent meat with the incredibly tasty sauce at the bottom. It is always the first dish that hits the table. And the experience of taking the first bite of duck at every meal here just puts such a smile on our faces and reminds us once again why we come back. Uh-MAY-zing.

I also like how they always give a bowl of complimentary soup at the start of the meal (which you could order seconds, if you wish). It's always so rich in flavour and feels so warm going down the throat. They do really good soups. We've ordered so many dishes here as well over the years. Their other roast meat dishes isn't nice so I would just stick to the roast duck. I also highly recommend the steamed black bean eel. Besides that, they do the best golden fried chicken ribs. As for veg, the 3 egg spinach is good alternative to the standard oily fried veg.

People often ask me what my thoughts are on the other Pacific House branches. South Yarra is absolute crap to me and I would suggest people stay far away from it. The CBD branch is a different concept to this as their menu is of the HK Cafe (or "char chan teng") style so dishes are more individually portioned and also has things like cheese baked rice, doll noodles, toast etc. 

Anyway, Pacific House Richmond holds a very dear place in my heart and I always look forward to my visit here. Definitely one of my top favourites in Melbourne.

Pacific Seafood BBQ House on Urbanspoon