Mangosteen, Lemon, and Basil Cocktail

Mangosteen, Lemon, and Basil Cocktail

Hello Everyone! Before we jump into a new fruit theme for the month, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of my Auguesters for sharing, not only their deliciously enticing recipes, but for also sharing their story and passion for food. Thank you to the new faces, and of course to the recurring guests over the years since I started the series. I hope that I can call everyone together again next year! If you would like to know more about the series, and possible hop on the bandwagon for next year, check out the ‘Auguest’ tab above and feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions, or if you are interested in being a part of the series for next year. Yes, I will take bookings as early as now *cheeky grin*.

Moving forward, the theme, or shall I say, fruit for September is none other than the Queen of Fruits herself – Mangosteen. Mangosteen is a tropical fruit that is in season from May to September; widely grown in the eastern, central, and southern parts of Thailand. Mangosteen is known as the ‘Queen of Fruits’ because of its unique crown and deliciously sweet taste.

Mangosteen Fruit

The fruit has a thick reddish-purple-brown rind with a green petal-like crown. The juicy white pulp is made of segments of varying sizes – usually 4 to 8 pod-like fruits. The number of hard brown petals at the bottom of the fruit indicates the number of segments. Among the pulp segments, only one or two are big and have almond-like seeds in them.

Here are some pointers on how to select the best of the best mangosteens:

Colour

When the fruit starts to ripen, the rind turns reddish-purple. At this stage, the mangosteen has a sweet and sour flavour to it, and it can be stored longer than ripe ones which have a dark purple rind to it and is sweet.

Stem

Choose fruits that still have fresh, green stems. Dry stems indicate that the fruits are old.

Skin Appearance and Feel

Good mangosteens have firm yet flexible rinds. You want to avoid those with cracks and bruises since it is likely that they have fallen from the trees, and are generally bad. Bruising also causes the skin to harden.

Additionally, mangosteens that have a smooth and shiny skin usually means that they have been sprayed with chemicals. On the other hand, fruits that have brown stains are often organic and sweet.

Hardened yellow drops on the skin is dried-up sap. If it’s just on the skin, it has no negative effect on the fruit, however, once it enters into the fruit, it often spoils the pulp and thus making it inedible. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know before opening the fruit.

Weight

Choose fruits that are heavy for light fruits often mean that they are old and its pulp may be dry. If you are able to, it’s a good idea to sample the fruit first before buying it. Fruits from the same batch are more likely to be of the same quality. However, it is quite common in some markets that different grade fruits are mixed. Therefore it’s worth the extra effort to check out several fruit stalls and buy from the best ones.

Mangosteen Fruit

How to cut open a Mangosteen Fruit

Take a mangosteen fruit and insert a knife about half an inch into the rind (outer thick skin). Slide the knife around the fruit so that it does not touch the inner white fleshy pulp part, and without cutting the fruit in half. Another method would be to firmly press down on the fruit until the rind tears open. Twist and tear until it opens apart. Once open, scoop out the fleshy white fruit and discard the rind.

The recipe that I will be tackling tonight, is a simple yet refreshingly exotic cocktail drink to quench that weekend thrist. Or hey, maybe even a midweek-midday stress reliever? Your choice. I won’t judge. I’m probably the latter. Feel free to substitute the booze for any other alcoholic beverages such as vodka, or completely leave it out for a mocktail drink instead.

Mangosteen, Lemon, and Basil Cocktail Ingredients

PREP TIME <10 MINS | COOKING TIME | SERVES 1*

* Recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc. to serve 2, 3, or larger groups.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 fresh mangosteen fruit
  • 2 shots tequila**
  • 330ml soda water
  • 1 sprig basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Optional

  • Basil leaves, to garnish
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon slice, to garnish

* 1 shot = 2 tbsp

METHOD

  1. Add the fleshy white fruit (pitted)*** of the mangosteen into a blender and blend well until it becomes a smooth fruit paste.
  2. In a pitcher, add the soda water, lemon juice, and sugar together. Stir well. After the sugar dissolves, add in the mangosteen fruit paste and shots of tequila. Stir.

Note: Add half of the lemon juice first. Taste then add/adjust if needed. If you add all the lemon juice in one go, it may become very tangy and you may have a hard time in adjusting the flavours. Diluting the juice isn’t a good idea.

  1. Transfer the juice to a salt-rimmed glass, and garnish with a lemon slice and basil sprig. Add ice cubes if you wish.
  2. Serve and enjoy!

Mangosteen, Lemon, and Basil Cocktail

*** While other choose not to eat the seeds of a mangosteen fruit, they are actually are soft and edible. In some cases though, the seeds may be hard and bitter so you might want to discard them if so. Only the larger pulps of fruit contain seeds.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Chocomolé Smoothie

Chocomolé Smoothie

Hello Everyone! It’s week 3 of deliciously healthy smoothies to kickstart your mornings, boost your afternoons, or fuel your post-gym workouts. Well, tonight’s smoothie is a little less healthy in comparison to the two that I’ve posted since the month started – and I say this just because I’m using full cream milk in the recipe. I’ve opted for the light yoghurt though if that makes any difference! *cheeky grin* Anyway, this recipe was inspired by a smoothie that I had probably over a year ago or two now back when I was brunching my way through Sydney with friends. I had this smoothie (or something similarly along the lines of this smoothie) at a café called Rustic Pearl. When I saw this on their menu, the reaction ew came to mind followed with mixed emotions. Nonetheless, I decided to be adventurous and instead of going with a conventional banana and cinnamon smoothie, I ordered the Chocomolé (Chocolate & Guacamole) – may I just add what a creative name to call the smoothie! This was the best decision that I made that day. The smoothie was an absolute yum!

Anyway, don’t forget to check out the original recipe over on Texanerin Baking. There are options for vegan, diary-free, and paleo as well, where you can basically switch out the Greek yoghurt with coconut milk yoghurt, and completely omit the use of full cream milk as well or replace it with coconut milk. Though it was delicious for me, it might not be to everyone’s liking for I think my Mom didn’t like it when I made this batch a couple of weeks ago for the first time haha.

Chocomolé Smoothie Ingredients

PREP TIME <5 MINS | COOKING TIME | SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium cold banana
  • 1/2 cold avocado flesh (about 85 grams would suffice)
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (or coconut milk yogurt for vegan, dairy-free, paleo
  • 2-4 tbsp milk, optional (omit for vegan, dairy-free, paleo or use coconut milk)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Blend everything together in a blender until it’s very creamy. Add more milk until it is to the desired thickness or your liking.
  2. Top with some banana slices and some roughly chopped dark chocolate. Serve immediately or keep covered in the refrigerator for up to one day.

Chocomolé Smoothie

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Apple, Carrot, & Celery Juice

Hello Everyone and a very Happy New Year to all my family, friends, and followers! I’ll keep this part short, and probably write more in my next post as it’s currently way past bedtime for me here in Brunei. I just want to let you guys know that Amcarmen’s Kitchen is back for 2016, kicking it off with some health juices for the month of January! I am also back with an all new upload schedule, which I will probably explain in next week’s post – but basically, from today onwards, tune in to Amcarmen’s Kitchen every Wednesday night for a new post!

So, I think the combination was meant to go like Apple + Carrot + Tomato, in which, this combination helps to improve skin complexion and eliminate bad breath, but we never got around to juicing up this combination – maybe because we didn’t have tomatoes in our vegetable compartment that time? Anyway, we had celery and used that instead. I’m not sure now what health benefits this combination with celery provide, but celery contains an excellent source of vitamin K which is beneficial to the human body as it is required for complete production of certain proteins that are prerequisites for blood coagulation. Our bodies need this for controlling the binding of calcium in bones and other tissues. Other health benefits of celery include: vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and despite being mainly water, celery also provides a fair amount of dietary fibre. So mix that in with some sweet apples and a carrot for more rich vitamins and minerals such as iron, copper, and manganese, and you’ve got yourself a tasty and super healthy juice!

Apple, Carrot, & Celery Juice

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME | SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large green or red apple, quartered and cored
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thirds
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into thirds

METHOD

  1. Juice all the ingredients using an electric juicer. Pour into a tall glass and add ice if you want your juice cold. Serve and enjoy, especially on a hot tropical afternoon for a nice refresher!

You may also replace the celery with about a half teaspoon of ginger juice. This combination helps to boost and cleanse our system. Happy juicing everyone!

Apple, Carrot, & Ginger Juice

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Kale Smoothie with Almonds, Banana, & Pineapple

Kale Smoothie with Almonds, Banana, & Pineapple

Hello Everyone! I’ve got another brekky smoothie recipe for you today, and some may find this unusual at first, but it actually works! I must admit, I was once cynical about the idea of adding vegetables to a smoothie. That changed when I moved to Australia and saw kale juices/smoothies pop up here and there in many local cafés in and around Sydney. I’d always see my friends with a take away cup of green smoothies that were either made up of kale or spinach included in them. To be honest, I’ve never tried a kale smoothie before and this is the first time I’m making and trying one! I’ve had kale before, and to me, it doesn’t have a distinct taste to it, so I was glad that the non-exsitent kale flavour didn’t shine through in the smoothie. Instead, you can taste the almonds, bananas, and pineapple which was nice. However, after having done some research, kale apparently does have a strong flavour that many might be used to, so when making a green smoothie using kale, you should use strongly flavour fruits such as strawberries or pineapple to help mask the flavour (possibly why I personally could taste the kale because I use pineapple in my green smoothie).

Before I begin with this simple green smoothie recipe, I want to talk to you a little bit about the health benefits of adding kale to your smoothie. Kale helps cut the sweetness of the fruits added, and has more than twice the recommended daily value of calcium to your diet. It is an excellent leafy green to use for detox as it contains cleansing properties. In addition, kale has a lot of vitamins and also contains powerful antioxidants that help protect your immune system and fight against certain cancers. If you want to read more about the health benefits of kale, please click here. Now, you may substitute kale for spinach if kale isn’t readily available where you are; I know that it’s not very cheap to get kale here in Brunei since it’s air-flown in from Australia.

The original recipe can be found over on Real Simple; all I did was again, change the quantities to serve about 3-4 tall glasses. I also decided to substitute the coconut milk for fresh coconut water as most coconut milk that you find here in Brunei are straight out from a tin and have a whole lot of preservatives added to them. You can use coconut water from the shelf if you don’t have fresh coconut water readily available but I personally hate those because they taste very artificial to me. Otherwise, you can also just use water. I read in the comments section of the site as well that someone added almonds to the smoothie for that added protein, so feel free to add your favourite nuts into the mix as well when you make your smoothie!

Kale Smoothie with Almonds, Banana, & Pineapple Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME  | SERVES 3-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 & 1/2 cups kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 cups fresh coconut water
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/2 medium-sized pineapple, chopped
  • 2 ripe bananas, chopped

METHOD

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender in this order: bananas, almonds, pineapple, kale, and 1 cup of coconut water. Pulse a couple of times to mix up the ingredients in the blender a bit and then blend on high for about 30 to 60 seconds. Add more coconut water if needed to reach your desired consistency.
  2. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Kale Smoothie with Almonds, Banana, & Pineapple

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Gingery Berry & Oat Smoothie

Gingery Berry & Oat Smoothie

Hello Everyone! For this week of breakfast/brunch month, I have some simple brekky smoothies for you that you can easily prepare the night before, whizz it in the blender in the morning, and voilà; you’ve got a quick brekky that you can take with you to go if you really need to. I’ve never really been the type to make my own smoothies at home, not until my second year of uni back in 2012 when my flatmate at that time started making smoothies for the both of us on the weekends. She would always make the same banana and blueberry smoothie with full cream milk, old-fashioned rolled oats, and vanilla yoghurt. Ever since then, I would whip up this easy smoothie whenever I felt like it even after we went our separate ways. I’ve also made a strawberry smoothie with the same ingredients, just taking out the bananas and blueberries, and added mint into the mix; it was a really good smoothie too.

Anyway, I won’t be sharing those two recipes with you this week as I’ve got two completely different (maybe in some way a little bit similar) smoothies for today and Thursday. I decided try new smoothie recipes and for today’s post, I came across a recipe for a Blueberry and Oat Smoothie; now I know this is sounding a little similar to the smoothie that I mentioned above, and that I’m used to making, but what makes this different is the touch of ginger added. I don’t think I’ve had a smoothie with ginger in it before so I thought that I’d give this recipe a try; original recipe can be found over at Real Simple. All I’ve really done was change the quantities to serve 3-4 tall glasses, as well as reducing the amount of sugar.

Gingery Berry & Oat Smoothie Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME  | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 & 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 & 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup creamy vanilla yoghurt
  • 1 cup ice
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp fresh ginger, grated

METHOD

  1. Add the oats and water to a blender and leave to soak until the oats have softened, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the ice, blueberries, yoghurt, brown sugar, and ginger to the blender. Blend until smooth and frothy, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

Gingery Berry & Oat Smoothie

I’ve read a few of the comments on the site where the original recipe was uploaded, and some said that the oats had a weird texture and made the smoothie grainy and starchy. Some didn’t like the addition of the ginger and made their stomachs upset. So I guess this smoothie is not for everyone, but if you think you’d enjoy all these flavour into one drink, then go ahead and give it a try because it’s definitely delicious! I personally thought that the oats were fine and still gave the smoothie a nice flavour and texture to it; I feel that without it, the smoothie would be quite loose. The ginger, though quite a strong flavour, paired well with the sweet blueberries and helped cut down the sweetness of the smoothie from the added sugar.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Belly Bao - BAONANA SPLIT

Belly Bao

Hello Everyone! Finally I’m back with an all new Review Sunday (on a Monday – sorry about that) on the blog! I had a pretty hectic day yesterday and didn’t get around to finishing this post. I spent yesterday morning hanging out with my sister, the afternoon with a fellow food-loving friend, Miao, over some cold drinks and cake, then went to indulge in the not-as-amazing-as-I-thought-it’d-be fireworks display for Singapore’s 50th National Day (might I add also, being sardined between sweaty, wet, and smelly people; it was so gross). Then ended the night meeting Alex, talking about anything and everything while we strolled around the area and eventually made our way to have some food.

So onwards with the review – I’ve only ever been to this place once, but have heard many things about it before it even started shaking up the Sydney scene permanently. I think, that is if I am not mistaken, Belly Bao first started dishing out these buns at various market stalls across Sydney about a year ago. I managed to visit a stall at the Paddington Markets on a Sunday afternoon before the found permanent residency at the GoodGod Small Club in the Sydney CBD.

Belly Bao

So the first and not quite last, but won’t be back in a while kind of thing, time I visited the club was with my friend Marissa on a Thursday, maybe Friday night after she had finished her work. We got to the place at around 6:30pm and the place was already packed. The line to order food was not too long, but a good 20-30minute wait, so while Marissa was lining up to order food, I went around the club quite possibly 7-8 times to look for a seat, and occasionally approach people that looked like they were about to be done, asking if I could have their seats when they were done. Thank goodness I was able to snag a seat for a two just as Marissa was about to be next in line to order the food. So yes, if you do plan on visiting on a Friday or Saturday night, be prepared to hunt down seats for a while and battle the noise a bit (well it is a club after all).

BELLY BAOS

Belly Bao - SLOW BRAISED PORK BELLY
SLOW BRAISED PORK BELLY: Pickled mustard greens, coriander, crushed peanuts, and kewpie mayo ($6.50)

The braised pork belly was well cooked – tender, juicy, and packed with flavour. However, I was not a fan of the pickled mustard greens and the coriander. I was able to look past these because it was actual a delicious bao overall. Perhaps a little bit more kewpie mayo or a spoonful of the stock that the belly was braised it would have been nice as it did feel a bit dry with the steamed bun.

Belly Bao - CRACKLING ROAST PORK BELLY
CRACKLING ROAST PORK BELLY: Crackling, pickled radish, coriander, and kewpie mayo ($6.50)

Though I did not have this bao when I was at the club, I did have this when I visited their Paddington Market stall before they opened permanently at GoodGod. Like the first bao, this was also as delicious as the first – tender, juicy pork belly with a nice crispy crackling skin.

Belly Bao - SOFT SHELL CRAB
SOFT SHELL CRAB: Watercress, chilli aïoli, and lemon vinaigrette ($7.50)

Now, I love a good soft shell crab, however I was kind of disappointed with this bao just because the soft shell crab wasn’t as crispy as it could be. It had a bit of a crunch, which I’m guessing came from the shell of the crab anyway, and it was a bit chewy more than crispy. Although I really wanted to love it, it was a sad let down. If it had been the crispy soft shell crab aI hoped it’d be, it would’ve been a great bao especially paired with the chilli aïoli and lemon vinaigrette!

SIDES & SNACKS

Belly Bao - Belly Bao spicy half chicken
SIDES & SNACKS: Belly Bao spicy half chicken ($15.00)

Beside the baos, we also got a couple of sides and we didn’t need to think twice about getting some fried chicken; I mean, who doesn’t like fried chicken? Or better yet, spicy fried chicken? Absolutely delicious, crispy skin on the outside, and tender, juicy meat on in the inside. It wasn’t really that spicy to be honest, but it’s alright for someone who can’t take spicy I guess. Or if you don’t do spicy at all you can just opt to have the non-spicy chicken 🙂

Belly Bao - Sweet potato fries drizzled with chilli aïoli
SIDES & SNACKS: Sweet potato fries drizzled with chilli aïoli ($7.00)

You can honestly never go wrong with sweet potato fries, NEVER. This was a pretty hefty order though and I don’t think we even finished them because we were too full in the end to down them all. The fries weren’t very crispy to be honest which was a shame, but were still nevertheless oh so good. For some reason though, I found their chilli aïoli super spicy – even more spicy than the spicy chicken so not sure what happened there!

DESSERT BAOS

Belly Bao - BAONANA SPLIT
BAONANA SPLIT: Golden fried bao with vanilla ice cream, fresh banana slices, salted peanuts, drizzled with Nutella ($6.50)

Before I begin, I just want to say that I wished they did more desserts for their menu because their golden fried baos are heaven on earth. Maybe they could consider changing up the dessert menu once in a while like how other places change up their dessert flavours once every two weeks. That may just very well attract me towards the place even more! Anyway, I can’t really fault this dessert because I love banana and Nutella, and everything else paired with it. If I had to nitpick this dessert, I just wished that the Nutella was a bit more like a sauce 🙂

Belly Bao - STRAWBELLY BAO
STRAWBELLY BAO: Golden fried bao with vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberry slices, drizzled with condensed milk ($6.50)

From the two desserts, this was the once I actually ordered while Marissa had the first. I’m glad this was the one I ended up because I loved the strawberries and condensed milk drizzle over the whole dessert. It was delicious indeed!

NON-ALCOHOLIC QUENCHERS

Belly Bao - CHERRY MELON POP & GG ICE TEA(LEFT) CHERRY MELON POP: Freshly juiced watermelon & green apple popped sweet with Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters ($9.00)

(RIGHT) GG ICE TEA: Our classic house-brewed ice tea with fresh mint ($9.00)

Overall, I wouldn’t say that the food is really outstanding, but it’s a pretty good interpretation of traditional Taiwanese street food, “not how grandma remembers it”, or as one has questioned, is bao the new taco? They’re definitely a little more than just average, but would probably not score it more than a 7 out of 10; I just didn’t feel any fireworks as I had a bite of my slow braised pork belly bao. The dessert bao though I feel were on an entirely different level to the savoury baos, and so if I were to score the savoury and sweet separately, I’d give the dessert a higher ranking. Other than that, I suppose that the baos are a good value for money. One of these babies, plus a side or two, with dessert filled me up real good, each bao only setting you back about $6.50 on average. I believe that Belly Bao could have chosen a better place to locate their residency – something more in line with the history of how they started out would have been a much more enjoyable scene I believe. I was imagining a quirky café on the corner of a suburban street that isn’t too far away from the city, like perhaps Bronte or Coogee, with some outdoor seating. I was a bit disappointed to hear that they’ve teamed up with a club scene which feels like the complete opposite of what their food is about I guess; then again this is just my opinion. I’d give the ambience a 4 out of 10, possibly 5 if I am being generous – but yeah, dark, noisy, super packed, not quite the way I want to enjoy these delicious baos.

Belly Bao
53-55 Liverpool Street
Sydney, New South Wales
Australia, 2000

– Ally xx

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

Dragon Fruit & Calamansi Shake

Dragon Fruit & Calamansi Shake

Hello Everyone! Today’s recipe as you can see is a very vibrant one indeed; but colour aside, the dragon fruit (or also known as pitaya) has many health benefits. For starters, it is low in cholesterol and even though the fruit does have small amounts of fat because of the many seeds in the edible part of the fruit, it has little to no unhealthy cholesterol producing fats. Dragon fruits also contain high amounts of vitamin C that provide you a rich balance of nutrients. These are only some of the health benefits that dragon fruits have to offer and you can head on over to Natural Food Benefits for further information.

Pink Dragon Fruit

The Pitaya is the fruit of several cactus species and are originally native to Mexico, and are now cultivated in East Asian, South Asian, and Southeast Asian countries. It is commonly know as the dragon fruit as it traces back to its Asian names, for example: the Thai kaeo mangkon (แก้วมังกร) (dragon crystal), the Vietnamese thanh long (green dragon), and the Chinese huǒ lóng guǒ (fire dragon fruit) or lóng zhū guǒ (dragon pearl fruit) to name a few. The dragon fruit comes in three different colours; a red-skinned fruit with either white or red flesh, or a yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh. With the red-skinned fruit, you can’t tell the colour of the flesh unless you ask the man or lady who sells them at the local markets, otherwise, supermarkets usually label them according to the colour of the flesh.

I cannot remember if I’ve touched on what a calamansi is on a previous blog, but I’ll give a brief description on what it is for those of you who don’t know. The calamansi citrus is like a cross between mandarin oranges and kumquats. The flavour is slightly sweeter than a lime, but has the taste of a sour orange. The fruit is grown throughout Southeast Asia, primarily in the Philippines and Malaysia, and is an ingredient used to flavour dishes and make them taste truly authentic. Other than that, it can be sipped on its own as a refreshing drink.

Dragon Fruit & Calamansi Shake

We bought these brightly coloured fruits in the market 2 weeks ago and we didn’t know what to do with them besides just eating them. Then I remembered that a had a red dragon fruit smoothie when I was back in Sydney and decided to turn these fruits into a drink of my own. I searched for recipes online and found one that had the addition of lime and other ingredients in it. I think at the time that I wanted to make this drink, I didn’t have any of the ingredients in the pantry but I had calamansi; and so I decided to give that a go and combine just the two. It tasted really good! The mild sweetness of the dragon fruit paired wonderfully with the sourness of the calamansi.

Pink Dragon Fruit

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 red dragon fruits, skins peeled* and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups ice
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Juice of 5 calamansi
  • Mint leaves, to garnish

*First slice the fruit into quarters, lengthwise, and then you can peel back its skin easily.

METHOD

  1. Combine all the ingredients, except the mint leaves, into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and garnish with mint leaves.
  3. Serve and enjoy a refreshing drink in the summer sun!

Dragon Fruit & Calamansi Shake

PS: Consumption of significant amounts of red-fleshed dragon fruit may result in a harmless pinkish/reddish colouration of the urine and poop.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Avocado & Date Smoothie

Avocado & Date Smoothie

Hello Everyone! Today’s recipe was inspired by a smoothie drink that I had about a few weeks ago from The Energy Kitchen here in Brunei. I really loved the taste of it and I was surprised by how little ingredients it contained. It was not only rich and flavourful, but it is also healthy indeed. However, the drink was very pricey; if I’m not mistaken I think it was about $9.00, maybe almost $10.00 for a large glass (11oz maybe). Because of that, I decided to then give this smoothie a try with local avocados that cost $4.00/kg; and you get about 5-6 avocados depending on their size per kilo. Dates were probably around $4.00 per 500g and a carton of almond milk was about $5.00. I with all this, I was able to make at least 4 large glasses with these and still had a lot of dates and almond milk leftover for another 2 rounds of this smoothie. It’s definitely much cheaper making it at home!

Avocados have several proven health benefits including an abundance of nutrients such as vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, potassium (even more than bananas), and small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous, etc. Avocados are also loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, in which the majority of the fat is oleic acid; beneficial in that these acids activate the part of your brain that makes you feel full. In addition, oleic acid has been linked to reduced inflammation and has beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer. To find out more on the health benefits of avocados, visit the Authority Nutrition page.

This drink also doesn’t contain any sugar. Instead they contain dates that are naturally sweet, and not only that, dates are also known to have many health benefits; to name a few, they relieve constipation, intestinal disorders, heart problems, anemia,  sexual dysfunction, diarrhea, abdominal cancer, and many other conditions. Dates are rich in several vitamins, minerals and fibre too, containing oils, calcium, sulfur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, and magnesium; all of which are beneficial for our health health. To read up more on the health benefits of dates, visit the Organic Facts page.

Pair these two together with about 3/4 cup of almond milk (you can use any other type of milk if you wish, and also add more milk if you want you smoothie to be a little bit thinner), and you’ve got yourself a rich and healthy drink. I didn’t add any ice to this drink so make sure that your milk is cold or place your smoothie in the freezer for about 10 minutes before drinking.

Avocado & Date Smoothie Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or any other milk)

METHOD

  1. Combine all the ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy a healthy smoothie!

Avocado & Date Smoothie

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Masala Chai Tea with Soy Milk Ingredients

Masala Chai Tea with Soy Milk

Hello Everyone! So on Tuesday I posted a recipe for homemade soy milk. The first thing I thought after making having made the soy milk was what other things could I do with it to make another delicious drink. So today’s recipe uses the soy milk that I made to make a masala chai tea. I mean, you can always use store bought soy milk, or any other milk for that matter.

Masala Chai (literally translated: ‘mixed-spice tea’) is basically a flavoured tea beverage made by brewing black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs. Nowadays, it is a very popular and feature drink in many coffee and tea houses. Chai is traditionally prepared by brewing green cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, ground ginger, and black peppercorn together with black tea leaves. Most retail versions of this tea includes tea bags for infusion, instant powdered mixtures, and concentrates. I used tea bags for mine only because I could not find any loose black tea leaves in stores.

I love chai tea. In fact, I ordered it almost every time I went to a café, aside from a café latte that is. I was surprised that it was that easy to make when I came across a recipe online on how to make you own chai tea.

Masala Chai Tea with Soy Milk Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-15 MINS | SERVES 4-5

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup homemade soy milk (or any other type of milk)
  • 1/4 cup loose black tea leaves (or about 5 tea bags)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 inch of ginger root, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Several peppercorns

Other optional spices that you can add to your chair tea inlaced: vanilla, almond, nutmeg, bay leaves, star anise, or fennel and allspice; I added star anise to mine.

METHOD

  1. Combine the water, spices, and tea in a medium-sized saucepan. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let it boil for a further 5 minutes and then turn the heat off. Let the mixture steep for at least 10-15 minutes.
  2. Strain the tea mixture and discard the spices. Add the soy milk and sugar to the strained tea mixture and stir well. Then reheat the tea until piping hot.
  3. Enjoy! Serves about 4 cups of tea.

Masala Chai Tea with Soy Milk

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com