Auguest 2020: Melissa Delos Reyes

Crispy Orange Tofu with Broccoli

“Creating food is a therapeutic process. It’s a way for me to unwind and slow down in this fast-paced world. To see my family & friends enjoy what I create is worth all the effort.” — Melissa Delos Reyes

Auguest 2020: Melissa Delos Reyes

Ola! I’m Melissa or Mel, the smol lady behind Eats Meru on Facebook and Instagram. I am a social media associate by profession and I freelance in photography and graphic design. Ever since I was young, I’ve always enjoyed cooking, experimenting with food, and following recipes!

I created Eats Meru pre-pandemic to share my food adventures at first. Everything changed when the Covid-19 virus struck. No one was prepared. Businesses were greatly affected, especially the small/start-up local brands. Since then, I’ve converted my goal for Eats Meru as a platform where I can help local MSMEs to share their products especially now that everyone is doing their best to make a living.

For this post in the Auguest series, I chose the color orange. I’ll be sharing a healthy and plant-based version of the famous Orange Chicken that uses tofu as the protein of the dish; it’s sticky, orange-y, tangy, crispy, and tasty too! You can easily make this dish as most of the ingredients can be found in your fridge and pantry. It is also perfect for those busy weeknights as it comes together in 20 minutes.

Crispy Orange Tofu with Broccoli Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the crispy tofu

  • 2 packs firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch size cubes
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp rice flour
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the orange sauce

  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (about 3 medium-sized oranges)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp white or rice vinegar
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (2 tbsp for a thicker sauce)
  • 1 tsp chilli, minced
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, minced (or 1 tbsp grated)
  • Spring onion (for garnishing)
  • Blanched broccoli

METHOD

  1. Crispy Tofu: In a large bowl, combine the cornstarch, rice flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well and coat the tofu in the cornstarch mixture.
  2. In a deep, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the vegetable oil (enough to cover the tofu) over medium-high. Carefully drop the coated cubed tofu in the oil and fry until slightly golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pot; work in batches if needed.
  3. Once done, use a slotted spoon to remove the tofu and transfer to a wire rack or strainer to cool down.
  4. Orange Sauce: Combine all the ingredients for the orange sauce, except water and cornstarch in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook and bring to a boil.
  5. Mix the cornstarch in the water together to create a slurry and gradually stir it into the simmering sauce. Cook until the sauce thickens, stirring well for even thickening. Taste for salt, sweetness, flavour, etc. and adjust as you go.
  6. Turn the heat off and add the crispy tofu. Toss to evenly coat them with the sauce. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the spring onions. Serve immediately while hot, with rice and blanched broccoli (or any of your favorite greens for that matter). Enjoy!

This Crispy Orange Tofu can be modified for an even healthier option. For this recipe, the tofu is deep-fried in oil, but if you prefer, and have a bit more time on your hands, you can bake the tofu instead. Additionally, you can consider serving it with some cauliflower rice and other greens of your choice.

Crispy Orange Tofu with Broccoli

Crispy Orange Tofu with Broccoli

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2020 | Melissa Delos Reyes (@eatsmeru)

BON APPÉTIT

– Melissa Delos Reyes

myTaste.com

Beef & Broccoli Mee Pok with Soy Eggs

Beef & Broccoli Mee Pok with Soy Eggs

Hello Everyone! Finally I’ve managed to come to the theme that was intended for the month of March on Amcarmen’s Kitchen! Three weeks late, but you know what they say, better late than never! I hope that I can get all the recipes up for March before the end of the month so that I can start fresh (frish – inside joke) for April seeing as it is also an important upcoming month ahead for Amcarmen’s Kitchen. If you have been following my blog since the beginning, or long enough to know why April is important for Amcarmen’s Kitchen – I won’t reveal things now, but as the days draw closer to April, I will tell you why!

If​ you are just tuning in to the blog, the theme for this year is all based around foods that lower or help maintain your blood pressure to normal and safe level. I drew up the theme when I found out last year that I am susceptible to high blood pressure, and ever since, I’ve been doing what I can to eat right – it hasn’t been easy. So tangent aside, the theme for March is basically hero-ing broccoli! Though I must say, some of the dishes that I will be sharing with you guys don’t exactly hero broccoli, but at least it includes the ingredient I guess? Haha. Broccoli is a good source of the blood pressure-regulating minerals magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Previous research in animals has found that a diet high in broccoli sprouts may help reduce blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

Tonight’s recipe is a little twist on the classic Beef and Broccoli Ramen – well okay, it’s not really a massive twist or anything like that, the only difference is that I used mee pok noodles instead of ramen noodles. Mee pok is a Chinese noodle characterised by its flat and yellow appearance, varying in thickness and width. Mee Pok is commonly served tossed in a sauce (often referred to as “dry”, or tah in Hokkien, though sometimes served in a soup (where it is referred to as “soup”, or terng), where meat and vegetables are then added on top. Other than that, everything else is pretty much the same, so before I move onto tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original recipe over on Chelsea’s Messy Apron. I’ve also added a soft-boiled soy egg just for another layer of flavour and texture to the overall dish. When I thought of adding a soy egg to the dish, I didn’t look into how I could add more flavour the egg rather than just dunking it in soy sauce, but turns out that you can add star anise and cinnamon bark to the soy sauce, and apparently leave it overnight to soak up all the flavour. I left mine for about an hour or so just for the colour really.

Also, I know that this recipe calls for a lot of soy sauce which is in fact contradictory to lowering high blood pressure because of the amount of sodium in soy sauce. Therefore, ensure that you use low-sodium soy sauce for this recipe.

Beef & Broccoli Mee Pok with Soy Eggs Ingredients

PREP TIME 15* MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 4

*Plus about 4-6 hours of marination time

INGREDIENTS

For the beef marinade:

  • 500g rump steak, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, grated
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch

For the mee pok:

  • 1 package (400g) mee pok noodles
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef stock
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium dark soy sauce
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

For the soy eggs:

  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Optional:

  • Chilli powder
  • Lightly toasted sesame seeds
  • Spring onion

METHOD

  1. Whisk all the ingredients for the beef marinade (except for the cornstarch) in a small bowl. Place the beef slices, and the whisked marinade into a medium-sized zip lock bag and seal. Give it a good shake and then set aside in the fridge for about 4-6 hours, or no more than 12 hours. Flip the steak in the bag halfway through the marinating time.
  2. While the beef is marinating, you can get a head start on your soy eggs. Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and set it over high heat. Let the water come to a rolling boil. Once it comes up to a rolling boil, reduce the water to a rapid simmer by lowering the heat. Gently lower the eggs into the water one at a time and cook the eggs for 5 to 7 minutes (5 minutes for a very runny yolk or up to 7 minutes for a barely-set yolk). I cooked mine for about 6 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and run under cold tap water for 30 to 60 seconds. Slowly are carefully peel the shell off the eggs and dunk them into a bowl of dark soy sauce and warm water mixture. Make sure that the eggs are fully submerged in the mixture and let it sit for an hour or so until the egg white is coloured by the soy sauce.
  3. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil and then cook the mee pok noodles for about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
  4. Remove the rump steak from the bag and drain off any remaining marinade. Toss the steak to coat with the cornstarch.
  5. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat, until the oil is shimmering and then cook the beef in batches if needed, adding a touch more of olive oil after each batch. Cook without moving or flipping the beef until it is well seared, about 1-1/2 minutes. Continue cooking while stirring until the beef is lightly cooked but still pink in spots, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  6. In the same pan, sauté the minced garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 30-45 seconds, then add the beef stock and dark soy sauce. Stir and cook (uncovered) over medium heat until sauce thickens a bit and reduces by about a third (about 5-8 minutes). You don’t want to reduce it too much so it can still generously coat all the noodles & veggies.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, top the mixture evenly with the broccoli (don’t stir in). Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Allow the broccoli to steam until crisp tender about 3 minutes or to desired tenderness.
  8. Once the broccoli is to your liking, remove the lid, add in the cooked noodles and beef. Stir and top with desired toppings: green onions, chilli powder, and sesame seeds, and not forgetting the soy egg!
  9. Serve and enjoy immediately with family and friends.

Beef & Broccoli Mee Pok with Soy Eggs

Beef & Broccoli Mee Pok with Soy Eggs

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Butter Prawns with Egg Floss

Butter Prawns with Egg Floss

Hello Everyone! Today’s recipe is one of my favourite dishes that I simply cannot resist whenever I see it available on the menu of any restaurant that I go to. To be perfectly honest, it’s not about the prawns (or sometimes chicken) that makes me crave for this dish, but for the yummy egg floss that accompanies the protein. The egg floss is buttery, crispy, and a touch salty. I’m not quite sure as to how to explain it’s flavour besides what I have just said because when you think about it, it’s just fried in butter and oil, and topped over the protein that’s stir-fried in all the other flavours. Nonetheless, I love it.

Butter Prawns with Egg Floss Ingredients

I’ve not seen this dish in Asian restaurants around Sydney, and I don’t particularly know why since it’s quite popular in Chinese restaurants here. I guess that sort of explains my cravings for them whenever I’m back in Brunei. Since I have a confused and inexplicable love for this dish, I thought I’d give it a go and make it at home. I’ve never made this dish before, and to be honest, I can’t get the egg floss as thin and as crispy without browning them too much, as those in the restaurants, but I think I’ve pretty much nailed the dish in terms of its taste.

Butter Prawns with Egg Floss Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 15 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 sprigs curry leaves
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Ground salt and black pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a medium-sized frying pan or wok over medium-high. Season the beaten egg yolks with a bit of salt.
  2. Continuously swirl the oil quickly in one direction and then add the beaten egg yolks in slowly from a height. Continue swirling until the oil is foamy and the egg is crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the heat and transfer the egg floss to a sieve to drain out any excess oils. Set aside.
  3. Heat a bit more oil in the same frying pan and sauté the chillies, curry leaves, and garlic together until fragrant.
  4. Add in the prawns and season with a bit of ground salt and black pepper. Toss and leave to cook, about 6-8 minutes.
  5. Once the prawns are cooked through, transfer to a serving dish and top with the egg floss.
  6. Serve immediately with steamed rice and enjoy!

Butter Prawns with Egg Floss

Butter Prawns with Egg Floss

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Pan-fried Salmon Bellies

Pan-fried Salmon Bellies

Hello Everyone! Today I’ll be keeping it short as I don’t really have an elaborate story to tell for this recipe. I basically came across these beautifully cut, extra large salmon bellies when I was doing my monthly grocery trip to Paddy’s Market back when I was in Sydney. Salmon was already a favourite fish of mine, and salmon BELLY is THE favourite part of mine. To fully understand how much I love salmon belly, I can eat it all day every day, until of course that is, if I get sick from the amount of good fats I’m consuming!

Pan-fried Salmon Bellies

Anyway, so as I was saying, while I was at the seafood market looking for some prawns and shellfish, I came across these bellies and they looked too good to pass up! They were a bit pricier than the ones that you kind find at the Sydney Fish Market, but these were fresher and handled with care when it came to cutting them. Other places that sold salmon belly cuts had bones in them and looked like they were a week old – I didn’t mind spending about 10 bucks a kilo more for a much better quality cut.

I couldn’t think of any way that I could cook these bellies so I did a bit of research online on ways to cook salmon bellies. The most popular way of cooking it was by baking it, but I didn’t want to bake them to be honest just because I know I wouldn’t like the texture of the fatty bits. Then I got to thinking about why I liked salmon belly in the first place – it was because I liked how my Mom used to cook a salmon portion back whenI was in Brunei, by pan-frying it until the skin is super crispy and the little bit of fat at the end of the portion was crispy on the outside, but then melted in the mouth when you ate it.

Pan-fried Salmon Bellies Ingredients

So that’s how I decided to prepare my salmon bellies for you guys tonight, by simply pan-frying them and then topping them off with a simple soy sauce mixture to slightly coat it with a bit of flavour – nothing too intense to mask the goodness of the salmon belly. Okay, I know I said it’d be a short introduction, but I kind of said that before I even knew what I was going to talk about – I was going to say that I wasn’t in the mood to write anything, but I guess we know now that that wasn’t the truth! 😛

Pan-fried Salmon Bellies Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 5-7 MINS | SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g salmon bellies, washed and pat-dried
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 2 stalks of spring onion, sliced
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • Ground salt and black pepper
  • Lemon wedge
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger, julienned

METHOD

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high. Season the salmon bellies with a bit of ground salt and black pepper. If your salmon bellies are too long to fit into your frying pan, you may cut them in half.
  2. Place into the pan, skin-side down and cook for about 2 minutes. Turn it over and cook for a further minute. Remove from the heat and set aside onto a serving plate.
  3. Add in the ginger and chillies to the pan and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Turn the heat off and then add in the soy sauce together with the spring onions. Pour over the top of the salmon bellies and squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top.
  4. Best served with some steamed jasmine rice. Enjoy!

Pan-fried Salmon Bellies

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT

In Asia Restaurant & Bar

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! I think I will keep the introduction short today just because you’re about to dive into a 2200 word review below and I’m already tired of typing and spinning words out of my brain at this hour of the night. Seriously though, if university essays were this easy to write in less than 4 hours, I’d never hate writing essays (most probably)…

About three months or so, I actually don’t remember, I attended a talk organised by General Assembly on the Business of Food Blogging. It was there that I met Brendon D’Souza from brendonthesmilingchef, and he was indeed a happy smiling chap. Last week he invited me and a few other bloggers for an Instagram Meet Up at In Asia Restaurant and Bar in North Strathfield. He told an interesting story about how he came to know about this restaurant; basically he and his family were driving along looking for a place to hold his graduation dinner. They came across In Asia and I think he pretty much fell in love with the food here and even said that the Popular Popcorn Parfait dessert sold it for him. He met the owner of the restaurant and talked about organising a food blogger’s event to basically build up a social media presence of the restaurant. I’m really glad that Brendon organised this event because it was definitely a great experience for not just me, but for everyone else who was a part of the night. I met a lot of other food bloggers, and shared a few laughs over the night as we all started getting a bit tipsy from the drinks.

Let’s get straight into their menu and what I thought of their awesome dishes:

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: SUGAR FLOSS MARTINI
COCKTAILS: SUGAR FLOSS MARTINI
Vodka, fresh strawberries and limes, with candy floss ($16.00)

I remember seeing one of the blogger’s ordering this drink across the other table. Rachael and Angela, who were seated in front of me, bolted over to take a picture of this very photogenic drink that looked like a fluffy unicorn. I wasn’t bothered to get up, only because I was sitting on the inside of the booth(?), not sure what kind of seating it was, but it meant that I had to ask people to get up for me, slide over, and then get out. When the girls returned, we decided to all order a cocktail each and share so that we could get a taste of what In Asia had to offer. I really liked this drink, mainly for the fairy floss and vodka combination, but you can’t really go wrong with strawberry and lime.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: TOBLERONECOCKTAILS: TOBLERONE
Baileys, Frangelico, Kahlua, cream, chocolate syrup, and Toblerone shavings ($16.00)

This was something that I’ve not actually seen before elsewhere, but then again, I’ve only been to how many bars in my life? Yeah, not a lot. Anyway, this was by far my favourite cocktail of the night; alcohol and chocolate? Don’t mind if I do! I’m not a heavy drinker myself, but I’d definitely have 2 or 3 more glasses of this. For me, I couldn’t really taste the alcohol, but that’s okay because it tasted more like a chocolate drink to me, and I like that!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: FINE LYCHEE DAIQUIRI
COCKTAILS: FINE LYCHEE DAIQUIRI
Bacardi, Soho Lychee Liqueur, fresh lychees, and lime ($16.00)

I am currently obsessing over lychees so this drink was also a favourite of mine that night. Loved the sweetness of the lychee paired with a tangy lime. I very much enjoyed this drink and would definitely come back for more of this… And the two above as well *cheeky grin*

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: PAN-SEARED CANADIAN SCOLLOPS
ENTRÉE: PAN-SEARED CANADIAN SCOLLOPS
with chilli purée and lime sauce, fresh pear ($15.00)

I love love love love LOVE scollops. Have I told you how much I really love scollops? Well, as you can tell for my love of scollops, it is without a doubt that this was my favourite entrée of the night. The scollops were cooked perfectly and surprised me with that great kick of heat. I say surprised because I wasn’t expecting it to be that big of a kick to my mouth. I found it quite spicy to my liking at first, but loved it as I had more of it. The pear was a nice touch of freshness to the dish as well.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: BARBECUED CALAMARI
ENTRÉE: BARBECUED CALAMARI
with pickled papaya, fennel, cashew nuts, and crispy pork crackling ($15.00)

I honestly cannot remember what my tastebuds were going through when I had this dish. I mean, it was not a bad dish, but I feel like I didn’t have an overwhelming reaction towards the dish like I did with the other entrée dishes. The calamari was cooked well, and the salad was dressed nicely too. I like how they’ve added the crispy pork crackling in the dish for that added crispy element, but they were all gone before I could get any onto my plate (yes, most of the bloggers who I shared the dish with picked most of the crackling out)!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: BETAL LEAF OF POACHED PRAWNENTRÉE: BETAL LEAF OF POACHED PRAWN
with roast coconut, crushed peanuts, ginger, chilli, lime, and caramel sauce: 2 pieces ($12.00)

As soon as this dish hit the tables, I was flabbergasted by its presentation. Loved the shot glasses. Moreover, I was impressed with the flavour combinations in such a little piece of betal leaf wrap. You’ve got the roast coconut, crushed peanuts, together with the ginger and caramel sauce I presume, that is topped with the tender, melt in the mouth poached prawn topped with roe and a tangy hit with a thinly sliced piece of lime, all wrapped in a peppery betal leaf that gave a nice fresh crunch to everything. It was a bit of a guessing game on how many bites you should take with this; it feels a bit big for one bite, but not big enough for two if you get what I mean. I tried two bites, but then you’re left with just the coconut and peanuts at the bottom without the prawn for your second bite. So I just went for it in one bite for my second serve. I find it quite expensive though because that means that one betal leaf wrap if $6.00; it’s quite a spectacular dish, but I don’t know if I’d pay that much for it.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER CALAMARI
ENTRÉE: SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER CALAMARI
with wasabi mayo and sweet chilli sauce

I had a look back at their main menu and didn’t see this dish so I can’t say how much it’d cost you to order this. There’s nothing much I can comment on this only just because it’s salt and pepper calamari; I mean you can practically get it anywhere you go. Nothing special, but I did like the tender calamari, however not a big fan of wasabi myself.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
with roasted rice, chilli, lemongrass, Vietnamese mint, and tamarind dressing ($22.00)

I felt like it’s quite similar to a Thai dish known as Nam Tok in terms of flavour, but anyway this was a very innovative dish and the flavours were a nice accompaniment to the duck. I actually wouldn’t have been able to tell that the duck was tea-smoked, but nonetheless, the duck was delicious and I wanted more!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
with asparagus, shallots, and onion with hoisin sauce ($28.00)

Again, this was nothing special for me because I know how to make a mean beef stir-fry myself. I mean, it’s a good, simple, and humble dish, but nothing really as innovative as what I’ve already covered from this point on their menu.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
with IN ASIA’s spiced Kumara mash, cashew nuts, sweet potato chips ($27.00)

I wasn’t a fan of this dish for several reasons: firstly, I thought that it was a curry-based dish because of the ‘sauce’ and then I was surprised when I re-read the menu again at it was actually kumara mash. In my opinion, it was a bit thin for a mash. I like my mash creamy no doubt, but this felt like it took creamy to a whole other level. Secondly, though the salmon lived up to its crispy skin, it was however overcooked to my liking; it was a bit dry on the inside for me. The only thing I liked on this dish was probably the sweet potato chips. Sorry!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN ROASTED DUCK
MAIN: CRISPY SKIN ROASTED DUCK
with tamarind sauce, pumpkin mash, and navel orange

This I liked better than the salmon dish, and I loved the pairing of the duck with the navel oranges. Though the skin wasn’t as crispy as I thought it would be, it was still a very good dish, and that’s also mainly because I love duck no matter how it’s cooked (just not overcooked of course). You may have noticed as well that there is no price – same what I mentioned above for another dish, I couldn’t find it on their actual menu so sorry to say I can’t make out how much this dish would cost if you want to order this dish.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: KOREAN STYLE BARBECUED WAGYU BEEF
MAIN: KOREAN STYLE BARBECUED WAGYU BEEF
with grilled pear, black sesame, pickled radish, and ginger ($28.00)

This dish wasn’t actually on the pre-planned menu that the restaurant had for us. One of the girls, as she called herself, “that annoying person who just doesn’t like seafood”, ordered this off the menu as the owner of In Asia suggested that she did as he felt bad for having pretty much a seafood-heavy planned menu for the night. I am actually glad that she got to order off their menu and shared a little bit of her food with everyone else because this was a really REALLY lovely dish. The wagyu beef was cooked perfectly and was very tender. The grilled pear, I mean, where do I even begin with this pear? It was so good and paired so well with the beef. It was a match made it heaven.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CARAMELISED TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
MAIN: CARAMELISED TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
with crispy panko egg and sweet tamarind sauce ($23.00)

This was another dish that was ordered off the menu, and yet another great dish that made me happy that she doesn’t like seafood. This was actually my favourite main dish of the night. The pork belly was crispy and sweet, and that panko egg was just lovely. I honestly wanted more of this dish, but since we were only sharing, it made me sad that I could not have more that night. I would definitely recommend this dish if you’re ever thinking of dining here. It is a must! I would definitely go again if it weren’t so far from where I live!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
with banana pudding, passionfruit curd, pandan foam, pandan granita, shredded coconut, and coconut ice cream ($12.00)

Finally on to dessert! This was probably not one of the best desserts of the night just because I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other dessert that you’ll see below, both in terms of presentation and flavour. This didn’t really wow me that much I’m sorry to say!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MRS B'S FIRST KISS
DESSERT: MRS B’S FIRST KISS
with organic banana lightly battered in shredded coconut and fried, palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce, and rice puffs, served with passionfruit sorbet ($14.00)

I apologise in advance because I cannot comment on the flavour of this dish, and I will tell you why. So when the desserts arrived at the table, everyone went nuts for this dessert, as well as the one below because of their spectacular presentation. It was almost too beautiful to eat! So I got my pictures, and then I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. I thought, okay I’ll go to the bathroom quickly since the other bloggers were still busy taking pictures of the desserts. Came back about 2 or 3 minutes later and this dish was completely demolished. Lesson of the night? Hold it in, no matter how urgent it is. It’s not worth it especially if dessert is concerned and you’re sharing one dish with about 12 other bloggers. I was so sad!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT
DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT
with IN ASIA’s crushed corn flakes, caramel popcorn, grilled sweet corn, and caramel jersey cream ($14.00)

Okay, at least there was a good quarter or so of this dessert left when I came back from nature’s calling. Thank goodness because this dessert was the absolute bomb. I loved the flavours and different textures that you got in each mouthful of the dessert, and I didn’t think that grilled corn would be such a great compliment to the overall dish. The presentation was on point as well. Well done In Asia for this dessert!

There were some ups and some downs with the dishes that we had over the night, but I can safely say that the positives overpowered the negatives greatly. There was really only one dish that was a let down for me, and the others that had minor issues based on just my personal opinion and palette is nothing major to say that it was a bad dish. I’d rate the food of the night a solid 9.5 out of 10; the food really blew me away and clearly the definition of modern (kind of, sort of fine dining) Asian cuisine. For me, it’s sort of somewhere in the middle like it’s not casual but not extreme fine dining either. Not only did the flavours and textures impress me, the presentation of some of the dishes, mainly the entrées and desserts, really blew me away. The service was great as well, though I wasn’t sure why it took quite possibly close to 30 to 45 minutes for the light menu (which were the tea smoked duck salad and the barbecued calamari salad) to come out to the table after entrées – I wasn’t complaining though because I had a pretty hefty entrée to begin with. I’d give the service an 8 or possibly 9 out of 10 anyway. Now, value for money – the dishes here are pretty pricey to be honest but I guess you can say that you actually do pay for what you’re getting. If you’ve got the money to spend, definitely spend it here, otherwise it’s not really a place you can just rock up to if you don’t have the money or for a casual dine.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar
181 Concord Road
North Strathfield, New South Wales
Australia, 2137

– Ally xx

Sinigang na Bangús

Sinigang na Bangús

Hello Everyone! I’ll make this a quick one because I am eager to start watching Season 2 of Game of Thrones – yes that’s right! After much questions have been asked if I watch Game of Thrones, and hearing the gasps of shock when I say no – peer pressure got the best of me and now I am pretty much hooked onto it; I finished Season 1 in a day and a half! Just a note to myself, don’t watch when having lunch or dinner. I made that grave mistake of eating my dinner and the episode started with someone removing the guts of an animal and skinning it – I wanted to puke.

Anyway, if you have been following my blog for a while now, I posted a recipe for Sinigang somewhere in May last year. I made mention in that post that the dish can be made with any type of meat ranging from fish, pork, beef, shrimp, or chicken, stewed with tamarinds, tomatoes, and onions as its base. With that recipe, I used pork spare ribs, and for today’s recipe, I made it with bangús (milkfish). It is essentially the same ingredients and a similar process of cooking. Of course you can make it with any other types of fish; my mom has made this dish with pomfret, mackerel/tanigue steak, and even salmon belly – whatever floats your boat! Also, a perfect winter warmer!

Sinigang na Bangús Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large bangus (milkfish); scales removed, cleaned, and cut into 4-5 thick slices
  • 2 small spanish red onions, quartered
  • 1 bunch kangkung, washed, leaves separated from the stems, and stems cut into short lengths
  • 1 large tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 long red chilli
  • 1 medium sized daikon, peeled and sliced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp tamarind soup base
  • Ground salt
  • Fish sauce (optional)

METHOD

  1. Fill a pot with about 1.5L-2L of water. Add the chilli, ginger slices, onions, and tomatoes and boil for about 10-15 minutes. Once boiling, add the tamarind soup base and season with a bit of salt. If you want your soup a little less sour, add in a teaspoon at a time to adjust to your liking (I love my sinigang soup really sour!)
  2. Then add in the daikon and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Follow with the bangús and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Taste, and add a few drops of fish sauce if the soup is tasting a bit bland.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the kangkung in. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Sinigang na Bangús

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Devon on Danks: BREAKFAST WITH THE SAKUMA'S

Devon on Danks

Hello Everyone and welcome back to yet another Review Sunday on the blog! Devon Café is one of those that I’d never fail to go back to for a nice Sunday brunch, well besides the Potting Shed at the Grounds though – I can’t pick between the two! So recently, I think somewhere in mid-November, Devon Café expanded their brand and opened up a new venue over on Danks Street in Waterloo. I quite honestly did not get into the hype of it until late December, after Christmas, before New Years – not that I wasn’t into it, but I just wanted to wait until the hype died down a bit. Knowing that this is Sydney, the hype never dies down! The first time I went here wasn’t that bad though, we managed to get a seat straight away but even so, the place was pretty packed. If we had arrived any later we could’ve easily been standing outside waiting for at least 10 minutes or so for a table for 3. Don’t even get me started on how packed it was on ‘Straya Day, but lucky again we managed to get a table for 2 with ease, but I did feel sorry for the others who had to wait out in the rain for a table.

Devon on Danks: 'STRAYA DAY SPECIAL
‘STRAYA DAY SPECIAL
Medley of tomatoes, avocado, olive oil, and soft-boiled egg, on toast ($16.50)

As mentioned above, this dish was only available during Australia Day. I ordered it because it’s one of their specials and it won’t be on their menu ever again (maybe)! It was a difficult decision because I was eying their ‘Naked’ Bruschetta at that time as well. I actually have no regrets going for this dish because it blew my mind. Yes I know, some tomatoes and avocado on toast – really? The dish was just so flavoursome and fresh at the same time. The crusty white bread added that crunch texture to the palette and was excellent for soaking up the olive oil. The disappointment in this dish though was that my egg was not at all soft nor runny liked I’d expect it to be. Would’ve loved a runny yolk to compliment the crusty bread to soak it all up. Also, $16.50 for this dish? A bit too much in my opinion.

Devon on Danks: BREAKFAST WITH THE SAKUMA'S
BREAKFAST WITH THE SAKUMA’S
Miso grilled king salmon, smoked eel croquette, 63˚ egg, radish petit salad, and kewpi mayonnaise ($24.50)

This dish is probably Devon’s signature as it appears in both menus at the original Devon and Devon on Danks. My Instagram newsfeed always features this dish from other people’s brunches. I never really had this dish for myself to consume, but I did manage to have a bite from my friend’s plate. According to her, the salmon was cooked to perfection and I can definitely vouch for that statement. The egg was perfectly cooked, and flavour combinations worked well together. She overall liked the dish.

Devon on Danks: LITTLE LOST BREAD
LITTLE LOST BREAD
Brioche French toast, fresh and freeze dried strawberries, balsamic and strawberry gastrique, strawberry cheesecake ice cream, and Arnott’s biscuit crumble ($16.50)

Again, I did not have this dish to myself, but I did manage to have a small bite. My friends, who at that time share this dish as a dessert, really loved this dish, but it was a bit sour for my liking, which I think mainly came from the balsamic. But otherwise, the brioche French toast was amazing, and so was the ice cream that topped it. What I found interesting was that at the end of the description for this dish it said “add bacon $4.00”. BACON? I was so confused and intrigued at the same time, but my friends didn’t want to get the bacon with it.

Devon on Danks: DR SEUSS's GREEN EGGS AND HAM
DR SEUSS’s GREEN EGGS AND HAM
Thick cut bacon, crispy potato, 63˚ egg, green tomato ketchup, pea purée, soybeans, pea tendrils, and jus ($19.00)

This again was a dish that was predominately popping up on my Instagram newsfeed. I think what is attractive about this dish is its name. It brought back many childhood memories and this was a dish that I really wanted to indulge in, but unfortunately lost the battle with Marissa. She told me to order the same thing but I was like NO that’s not point! Because I write a blog, I actually hate it when people order the same thing, because then that means that I have one (sometimes two) less dishes to write about. Which also means that I have to again visit the café/restaurant so that I am not just reviewing two or three dishes. Anyway, tangent aside, the bacon was delish, cooked to perfection, and paired well with the other components in the dish. Marissa seemed to love it too!

Devon on Danks: SOFT SHELL CRAB SALAD ala JAPANOIS
SOFT SHELL CRAB SALAD ala JAPANOIS
Crispy soft shell crab with sichimi pepper, wasabi mayo, tobiko, nori, pickled cucumber, daikon, carrot, and shiso ($19.90)

Originally, this dish was meant to be a soft shell crab roll. I don’t know what happened, like whether they ran out of rolls or whatever other reason, this time when I came back with Tara, they had blacked out the ‘roll’ on their menu and changed it to a salad. Despite it not being a roll anymore, the dish was beautifully presented and was very flavoursome. The soft shell crab was crunchy and was packed with a lot of spice, quite possibly from the wasabi. That was on point for me. The salad was flavourful, but in the end I kept thinking that the dish looked really small, and for roughly $20.00, it almost seemed that you didn’t a good value for your money. I’ve had soft shell crab salad elsewhere before at a Japanese restaurant and it was about $11.00 for more than just ONE crab.

Devon on Danks: LUCKY DUCK
LUCKY DUCK
French buckwheat crêpe, crispy duck leg, duck liver parfait, fried duck egg, and blueberry preserve ($24.50)

This was the dish that I had that time I was out with Marissa and her friend Karina. Duck is one of my favourite meats which is why I had no doubts when having to select another dish after not being able to have my way with what I wanted in the first place. I regret nothing. This dish was top notch for me, despite me having doubts about the liver parfait. It actually tasted good together with the blueberry preserve and the other elements to the dish. I could not fault this dish, and unlike most dishes, this definitely was a great value for money.

Devon on Danks: CRONUT
CRONUT
Green tea matcha cronut with red bean filling ($7.00)

This was by far the best cronut I’ve had to date (not that I’ve had many anyway), but the flavour combinations happening in this one tiny cronut was to die for. The amount of red bean filling in this cronut might I add was very generous! It just oozed out every time we sliced into it for a bite. Though I did feel that by the 5th or 6th bite, I could feel that the red bean filling was a bit too sweet for my liking.

Devon on Danks: SOFT SERVE SUNDAE
SOFT SERVE SUNDAE
Pandan soft serve, banana, rice and coconut krispies, kalamansi cream, palm seeds, and gula melaka ($11.00)

What I love about Devon is the Asian fusion that they bring into their cuisine. This ice cream, though Asian inspired based on ingredients and flavours, is nothing that I have seen at all in Asia. Pansan, kalamansi, palm seeds, and gula melaka, are all flavours that I am familiar with, but never did I think that they’d all work so well together as an ice cream sundae! Loved the flavour combinations in this sundae, better than the salted caramel soft serve. I only wished that it had been a very hot day instead of a gloomy ‘Straya Day the time I shared this with Tara because the cloddish weather and really cold ice cream did not feel right!

Devon on Danks: DD's SPECIAL SOFT SERVE SUNDAE
DD’s SPECIAL SOFT SERVE SUNDAE
with salted caramel ice cream, black salt, and hot chips ($10.00)

Ever since the opening of Devon on Danks, I have seen this pop up on my Instagram feed one too many times! It brought back a lot of memories of when I was a kid and how I’d use to dip my order of fries into my soft serve ice cream on a cone from McDonalds. I think it was everyone’s childhood memories for everyone had written about how they did that when they were kids when talking about this sundae. Though I thoroughly enjoyed this, there was too much salt going on for me. I was fine at first, but I struggled to finish the rest. Salted caramel ice cream, TOPPED with black salt, AND salted fries on the side. Salt overload!

I’d rate the food probably an 8 on a scale of 10, just cos of some minor issues I had with some of the dishes that were served. Service was on point and the waiters/waitresses were always smiling, friendly, and gave great recommendations when it came down to having to make a decision on what cronut we wanted to have for dessert. The ambiance was sort of like modern meets industrial which by the way is what I like most about cafés around Sydney who embrace this interior design style fusion. Value for money is variable – some dishes I feel were reasonably priced while others I felt that they were a bit overpriced for the amount of food that was on the plate. Then again this is my opinion, and I’m pretty sure others will have a different say to this. But overall, be it the original Devon Café or Devon on Danks, I will always pay a visit when I am in the mood for a pretty epic brunch date.

Devon on Danks
2 Danks Street
Waterloo, New South Wales
Australia, 2017

– Ally xx