japanese food

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Adventure in Penang, Malaysia

Published November 1, 2010 by Mary Jane

Morning All, yes I’m awake at around 8am this morning. Got a day off today since it’s the Melbourne Cup day and I don’t work on Tuesdays. Still got the hayfever which is keeping me awake at night when I start rubbing my itchy eyes. Anyways, I’ve recently came back from Malaysia/Singapore trip it was only a short trip for a week so I’m going to quickly cover the things we did in Penang, Malaysia. I’ve never been to Penang before and this was my first time there. We were only there for two days. I went with Pandabear, my mum and my mate Shirlyn 🙂

We booked ourselves into the hotel “G hotel” a lovely place to stay, modern and the great thing about it is that there’s a huge multistory shopping centre called Gurney Plaza just right behind it. How convenient for a lazy shopper like me. heheheh…so we checked ourselves in and my mate Shirlyn’s daddy works in Penang so he was going to arrange all our dining outings. Yay! I love it when there’s a local person who can take us around, save us researching and testing out which restaurants served great food. Since we only have 2 days in Penang, Shirlyn asked me whether I wanted to visit the temples or do some scenery visits. I was like Nope! I’ll be happy to spend the two days shopping and eating 🙂

So day 1, I decided to get my hair done as the Aussie dollar was quite strong and it’s expensive to get my hair rebonded (straightening your hair chemically) so I checked out the salon within the shopping centre plaza. Came across a few of them and checked out their prices and decided to go for this salon which uses Shisheido products for straightening hair and treatments. I’m a Shisheido girl – I used their make up and skin care products most of the time, I was surprised they even have hair products too! I was amazed to see that all the hair stylist were male so I asked them how come there’s no female stylist? They replied “it’s too hard to employ female stylist, they end up finding a rich boyfriend and quit their job” hehehe, I see. So the hairdressing dude told me it should take approximately 3 hours for rebonding and if I want to colour my hair it will be additional 2 hours. I was like that’s 5 hours in total wasted on my hair. So I told them, I’ll just rebond my hair and maybe colour my hair the next day. That way I still have some time for shopping 🙂

The hairdressing dude was pretty clever, he was feeling my hair and said to me would you like to try our 7 process Shisheido hair treatment cos your hair is very dry and after rebonding probably would damage your hair slightly. It didn’t take too long for the dude to convince me so I went for the hair treatment. Anyways, it turned out that I had so much hair and because of the 7 process treatment plus a free trim, it too me around 5 hours in total to get my hair done! The end result was great, my hair is straight and nice and silky except I can’t wash my hair for two days due to the straightening chemicals!! Argh!!!

So onto the food part since I didn’t get time to shop for day 1. But here’s some of food we’ve ate. I’ll do a full post on the restaurants review separately. So Shirlyn’s dad is a CEO of an Electronic company in Malaysia and he gets his own private driver named Naga. Naga is a lovely Indian dude, he’s ever so cheerful and has a beautiful smile. It’s great as when ever we need a ride to places, Shirly’s daddy would call Naga and he’ll be waiting outside. It was upper class treatment for us to ride in a Mercedes every where we go 🙂 I call him the Ninja Naga, cos he seems to appear out of nowhere. Then I was told when we have our dinner he would wait outside till we finish and drive us home. But what does he do outside?? Doesn’t he get bored?? I was told he gets paid for doing nothing usually he takes a small smoke and sits in his car resting or chatting to some fellow drivers outside.

So Shirlyn’s daddy (aka Uncle Lee) took us to a Japanese restaurant – apparently there’s many Japanese restaurants in Penang, some are rubbish according to Uncle Lee this particular restaurant sells the most authentic Japanese food as the chef is Japanese and so is the owner. So I was so excited as I love Japanese food. Man, can I tell you it’s one of the best Japanese food I’ve ever had…so many varieties. Uncle Lee ordered so much cos my mate told him I was a big eater 😛 in the end we were struggling to finish some of the food. But here’s some snap shot of some of the food we’ve ordered…

So for brekkie the next day, Uncle Lee decided to take us for some Roti Canai and he was so thoughtful that he even freezed packed some durians for us. As at the time we were there durians aint in season, so he freezed the different varieties of durians for us so that we can enjoy the lovely durians. Well, for Pandabear anyways. Mummy and I both hates durians, it must be a Malaysian thing – cos we both don’t like the strong pungent taste of durians – to me it tasted like cross between garlic, rotten cheese and sweet custard. But, I was willing to try a few pieces as Uncle Lee promised once I’ve had durians 3 times, I’ll fall in love with it. This is my second time with Durians!! Surprisingly, they didn’t taste too bad, quite sweet 🙂 I didn’t fall in love with it but hey…maybe my third time with durians may just do the trick! Uncle Lee mentioned he would only take us to this Roti Canai shop cos it’s clean, I was like are there any dirty stories about Roti Canai? He replied “yes, there is but once I tell you. You would never have roti canai again!!” so after me hassling Uncle Lee to tell us the stories, he was quite stubborn and refuse to tell me the stories. Till this day, I still don’t know about dirty story of roti canai…

Roti Canai with curry

Roti Canai with curry

freshly freezed durians

freshly freezed durians

So after brekkie, Naga the Ninja dropped us off to shopping and Uncle Lee has to go back to his office as he’s a very busy man! So off we went it’s shopping for me. I think there was about 5 stories worth of shopping, so we started from the top floor and worked out way down. Btw, I didn’t get my hair colour done. Didn’t want to waste more time on my hair. I love shopping at this complex not only there’s so many shops to look around but lots of little stores in the middle of shopping centre selling knick knacks 🙂 Most of you would know I love my knick knacks and they were really cheap too. So I bought a large bag worth of knick knacks from different stores = a very happy Maryann. We decided it’s best to split up with Pandabear cos he wants to look at his ‘guys stuff’ and I’m sure he will nag me or talk me out of buying my knick knacks so it’s best he doesn’t tag along with us girls. We set a time to meet up back at the hotel at 6pm for dinner. So that gives us approximately 5 hours to shop.

Now I’m fast shopper, I give myself approximately 5 minutes for each shop so I can cover all the shops – when I spot a good shop I would stay there for up to 15-30 minutes trying out their clothes. I decided, I may as well spend most of my shopping money in Penang as it’s definitely going to be cheaper in Malaysia than Singapore due to the exchange rate! There was a money exchange place right in the shopping centre – how convenient they must get tourists here all the time. So I exchanged 1/2 of my shopping money and went off shopping. I ended up buying some cook books, some clothes and lots of knick knacks and when I looked into my wallet I only got some money left. I decided to head down to my last stop – Shisheido skin care products and found out their make up and skin care is actually quite cheap compared in Australia. So I ran out of money and borrowed my mate’s money and off I went buying my shisheido products and because I have bought a certain amount, they gave me a free nice pink bag 🙂 and a gift voucher of RM50 so I was happy to hunt around to spend my RM50 – so I ended up buying a work shirt for RM50 and a pair of socks.

So time flies when you’re having fun, it was dinner time. Uncle Lee has came to meet us for dinner and bought us some freshly squeezed sugar cane drinks and oh we also had some snacks while we were shopping too..here’s some photos of it…

Anyways, dinner is Chinese and it’s a huge Chinese restaurant – I would think this place hosts regular wedding functions. So we were escorted to our VIP room and all the staff knows Uncle Lee, he must be one of the regulars there and they know what he’s going to order! The food was delicious, fresh produce a variety of prawn curry, steamed fish (was caught live outside from the tanks, I couldn’t bear watching them catch our fish cos I won’t be able to eat it afterwards), abalone dish with lots of vegetarian items. The Chinese food here are really great 🙂 Uncle Lee really knows his food…some photos of the dishes we ate…

To end off our last dinner, Uncle Lee took us to Nonya House which specialise in traditional Nonya dishes 🙂 what a great idea…the whole restaurant is actually a house and when you walk inside it has a traditional Malaysian taste with it’s decorations. Apparently all the interior decorations were decorated by the owner himself. Ofcourse, the waitress greeted Uncle Lee, once again I believe he’s one of the regulars here. Uncle Lee suggests that we try this fruit drink which is kinda like a rare fruit we don’t have it in Australia. But sorry I can’t remember the exact name due to my fish memory. It tasted like a cross between guava and lime and they served it with a dried plum. The dishes there I’ve never tasted them before – it was awesome and tasty 🙂 Uncle Lee saw me digging in and started ordering more and more dishes until I told him I think my stomach is going to explode and that made him stop ordering….here’s some of the dishes we had…

Uncle Lee was really strict in where he brings us to dine, so we didn’t have any hawker style street food as he didn’t want us to get sick. Just as well as I had a minor food poisoning in Singapore later on 🙂 I must have gained like a few kgs eating all these exotic food. We had a wonderful time in Penang and would definitely pay another visit but next time we would explore the scenary routes such as the beautiful beach, temples and perhaps the night market (Uncle Lee told us he wouldn’t recommend us going cos there’s pick pockets there…)

Thanks to Uncle Lee & Auntie Lee for being so hospitable to us and showing us around during these 2 short days worth of trip.

till next time Penang…

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Sushi oh Sushi..lovely sushi (Sushi Night)

Published September 14, 2010 by Mary Jane

Anyways, as most of you know that I’m into Japanese food especially sushi – I don’t really like sashimi as it’s raw..most of the raw stuff I don’t like. But I love sushi and can eat it everyday. So one particular weekend, I decided to head to my brother in law’s place and make sushi with my sister in law, she’s never made sushi before so it’s great we get to have fun in the kitchen making sushi 🙂

I’ve set myself some goals, we will make 3 types of sushi – normal sushi maki roll, temaki which is a hand roll sushi – cone shaped ones and nigiri which is an oval shaped sushi rice with filling on top you get them quite common from sushi train. To add variety I decided to try out a rainbow sushi which is inverted with the rice on the outside and sushi skin on the inside and sashimi with avocado on top. So here it is..

Ingredients

Ingredients

It is definitely time consuming in preparing the ingredients for the sushi filling. So that’s why we don’t make sushi often, only when we are craving for it. The time you take to cut and slice and cook the ingredients you’ll probably be pretty hungry. Then assembling it as well…

Rainbow sushi

Rainbow sushi

The rainbow inverted sushi is very hard to make, especially slicing it. The avocados were really slippery and also it would have looked nicer if I also had a red tuna on it to make it even prettier, but pretty happy with my results. My first time making rainbow inverted sushi.

Nigiri sushi

Nigiri sushi

I bought a nice piece of fresh salmon from my favourite place – Victoria Market. I love it…it was so fresh, no fishy smell and it aint slimy and usually I would avoid raw fish like anything. But when I dipped this with my soya sauce and horse radish. It was delicious! I think I ate lots of nigiri sushi that night, beat my sashimi record!!

Temaki

Temaki

The Temaki hand cone sushi roll was harder than it looks, you are suppose to have a crispy cone, but mine turned out to be soggy..I wonder if it’s too much rice or too much su – vinegar water. Anyways, it was well worth the try.

Overall, we had a great sushi night – it was tasty and we served it with miso tofu soup 🙂

Sushi with miso soup

Sushi with miso soup

But we were all sushi out afterwards..so full with so much sushi rice left…next time we will balance it out with some deep fried tempura 🙂

Restaurant Review – Suji Sushi Japanese Restaurant (Melbourne)

Published August 19, 2010 by Mary Jane

Afternoon Bloggy friends, I know I actually blogged in the afternoon instead of night time..well, I’m so happy that my epic failure cake turned out to be a half decent cake so I can’t wait to blog this later on…Now, I had a rather productive day, cleaned the whole house, listened to some sermon and then decided to hobble my way through to QV to buy some Quilt cover for Pandabear, we’ve finally got 2 separate blankets yay 🙂 sorry forgot to mention that we don’t share our blankets, as I’m a roller I end up pulling the whole blankets to myself and Pandabear gets really cold and he doesn’t want to wake me up by pulling the blankets back…so that’s why it’s better we have separate blankets 🙂

Anyways, so I pop on my scarf and thick jacket and stared outside it’s actually a little sunny which is great and put on my little cushion band-aid for my feet it is still quite sore, no make up, no blow dry of my messy hair and stepped out! Wow, it’s so cool – back home in Perth I will have to make sure I put on my make up, brush my hair and get dressed. Life being a bum is actually quite liberating! So as I’ve mentioned about hundred times – I love Japanese food, so we came across this Suji Sushi place – day time it’s always packed with working people there so I told Pandabear we must try for dinner one night. So we didn’t book, we walked from our hotel to the Japanese place. When we arrived the person told us we have to order and pay at the counter and then take our seat. Which is fine, except when I asked for a copy of menu – he said sorry we don’t have menus, you just order from our sign board?? What?? A restaurant without menus!! How strange…anyways, we struggled to decide what we wanted – eventually I went with good old bento boxes…

I was also eying out for some sushis as well, but since the bento boxes came with sushi – I thought I’ll leave it as that. So I went with Teriyaki chicken & Teriyaki beef – wow you can have two different dishes in your bento and Pandabear went with seafood deluxe – superior bento – so he thought. The decor of the restaurant is not too bad, has the standard Japanese wooden tables and on the tables you have your chop sticks, sauces and some other cutlery. I overhead the waitress/waiters speak Chinese, and I was like oh no..this restaurant is probably own by Chinese. Nothing against Chinese but I know there’s alot of chinese people running Japanese restaurant and some of them make awesome Japanese food but some of them make Chinese mix with Japanese style food. Anyways, our bentos have arrived…

Teriyaki Beef & Chicken Bento box

Teriyaki Beef & Chicken Bento box

I decided instead of deep fried items, to opt for the fruit salad – that way I don’t feel guilty eating a large bento by myself at least there’s some healthy fruit salad with it 🙂 Now, the presentation is not bad – the taste is only ok. Teriyaki beef was average and teriyaki chicken – the sauce was really salty and alittle too thick for my liking. One more fault my rice was warm!! I like my rice steaming hot so that was a bit disappointing. However, the sushi were quite nice…

Here’s Pandabear’s bento box..

Seafood deluxe bento

Seafood deluxe bento

Now, the presentation of Pandabear’s bento box looked alittle messy, the noodles were everywhere. You can see two large prawns – but that’s pretty much the only “seafood” he has in his bento box. He stared at mine and said he should have ordered my bento box instead. So I shared my teriyaki chicken & beef with him…so the food was average. But look, the price is really cheap – so I guess you get what you paid for…I would probably recommend their sushis for lunch but for dinner…definitely not the bento boxes but just go with the sushi…I wonder why is it so popular during lunch hours – maybe cos it’s cheap and large servings…

Here’s my rating:

Dining experience: 3 star
Food experience: 3.5 star
Would I recommend it? probably not…maybe just go for the sushis…

The Bonsai Cafe & Lounge (Perth)

Published August 6, 2010 by Mary Jane

Evening bloggy friends, wow I’ve had a really tiring day – didn’t sleep too well last night, it’s funny since I’ve moved to Melbourne I’ve been having these crazy dreams and I will wake up and realised phew..it’s just a dream. Anyways, it was sort of a frustrating day today, Pandabear had to wake up around 3am to fetch his brother’s family to the airport which woke me up and then it took me awhile to go back to bed. Then we decided today we will go and collect our apartment keys from our leasing agents and was then told that if we want to connect our electricity/power today it will cost $215 – after hour charge similar to on the day connection charge, however if we are willing to wait till Monday the cost will be $35.

Seriously, I could live without electricity of the night – but Pandabear was whinging saying how could I brush my teeth, boil water or do anything in the dark!!! In the end we forked out the $215 and viola our electricity/power was connected, we then went through and did our condition report and thankfully, our pack and send company called to advised our other luggage has arrived! Yay, my cook books are in there.

Anyways, this particular restaurant is situated in Northbridge – it hasn’t been opened for a long time and since the owner is Taiwanese, I’m always supporting a Taiwanese brethren – so we decided to try it out for our family farewell dinner. There were 8 of us plus two of my nieces. The place is quite dark and got that rusty look with the brick walls. We went there on a sunday night and it seemed rather busy. The menu consisted quite alot of small dishes to share kinda like tapas-style dishes. We thought, well we’ll just have a few different dishes to share that way we get to try different things.

Salmon Sushi

Salmon Sushi

The food took a little while to come, and by the time the salmon sushi arrived – we were all like eagles digging in, but since there were only 6, two people were left out.

Asparagus wrapped by beef

Asparagus wrapped by beef

The asparagus wrapped by beef is quite tasty and unusual with the crunchy texture of the asparagus and the tender beef. However, it wasn’t enough to feed all of us…

teriyaki chicken sushi

teriyaki chicken sushi

pork belly with salsa

pork belly with salsa

The pork and salsa was just alittle weird for our liking, I reckon the salsa didn’t go quite well with the bland taste pork belly.

prawn sushi

prawn sushi

takoyaki

takoyaki

The takoyaki were delicious! Out of all the dishes, this one is the best.

duck breast

duck breast

The duck breast was another disappointment for me, it’s well cooked however it didn’t have much flavour in them. Overall, the sushis were really well-done and I love the presentation of all the tapas dishes, however we were still all very hungry so decided it’s time to order ourselves the main course. We waited for our main course to come, and finally my main course of pork chop and rice came – my goodness only mine came and the kids were really hungry so I gave some of my pork chops to my nieces.

pork chop & rice

pork chop & rice

I was already half way through my mains, and none of the other mains have arrived. This is not acceptable as by the time people receive their mains I would have finished mine!!!

tooth fish

tooth fish

The tooth fish were quite nicely done, tender and tasty.

Steak

Steak

Overall, the mains were really nicely presented and they tasted quite nice – but the food waiting time was a little too long – the kids were getting restless and keeps saying I’m hungry!! All the mains didn’t come one after another there was a gap and our friend Katherine’s main came last poor here staring at everyone eating their mains.

Now, amazingly after all those food we still had room for dessert and the desserts were displayed inside a glass case and you also had a LCD monitor displaying other desserts. So we asked whether we could order one from the TV display and were told that they only have limited desserts ones that are displayed inside the glass case – that was a little disappointing.

Mango Cheese cake

Mango Cheese cake

Green Tea Mouse Cake

Green Tea Mouse Cake

Chocolate Mouse Cake

Chocolate Mouse Cake

The desserts are to die for, the presentation were gorgeous and worth the wait. Not too sweet just nicely balanced, moist cake 🙂 It made up for the slow mains.

Overall, the staff seemed pretty friendly but lack in attention – to see whether everyone have received their mains yet. The presentation of all food were great but the food waiting time was just too long.

Anyways, here’s my rating:

Dining Experience: 3.5 star
Food Experience: 4 star
Would I recommend it? YES

Restaurant Review – Sushi Village (Whistler, Canada)

Published June 25, 2010 by Mary Jane

Well, I’m moving onto the next part of our trip that is Whistler in Canada. We’ve booked ourselves some beginners skiing lessons and snow mobile rides. Really excited as I’ve never tried skiing or snow mobile rides before. Anyways, we went around the whole Whistler village area to check out places and deciding what to dine for dinner came across this particular restaurant in our hotel brochures – apparently it’s really popular and since it’s Japanese cuisine – it’s a bonus for me cos I love Japanese food.

We decided to try this place out on a week night, when we arrived around 7pm it was already packed and there were people standing in the queue already. So we asked the waitress how long we need to wait for our table she said around 30-45 minutes, now Pandabear and myself didn’t feel too hungry so we were happy to wait for our table. There was a bar next to the waiting area, so Pandabear ordered a strawberry mocktail drink – it was pretty tasty.

Bar Area

Bar Area

On my way to the bathroom, I notice along the corridor there’s a little sign that says Sushi Village Hall Way of Fame. It was very interesting, as there are photos and signatures of famous people including sports stars, singers, and actors/actress.

Finally, after 45 minutes later – the waitress called out our names and lead us to our table. I wasn’t feeling terribly hungry so we decided to share a plate of assorted sushi, tempura prawns and Pandabear had beef udon noodle soup and I had the plain udon noodle soup. There was a sushi bar next to our table and you could see the sushi chef making yummy sushis.

Sushi Chef

Sushi Chef

We had to wait for 10-15 minutes before we could place our order and then wait for around 30-40 minutes for our food, by that time I was getting really hungry and we asked our waitress how long our food is going to be. She went back in the kitchen and came back to let us know it’ll be ready in about 10 minutes. Finally, our food came…

Assorted Sushi

Assorted Sushi

Tempura Prawns

Tempura Prawns

Beef Udon Noodle Soup

Beef Udon Noodle Soup

Plain Udon Noodle Soup

Plain Udon Noodle Soup

When the food came out, the presentation for the assorted sushi were great – lovely colour balance and it taste pretty fresh. For the tempura prawns it was crispy and tasty, as for udon noodle soup they were just average. Well, the food overall was ok – it wasn’t spectacular or worth waiting for 45min up to an hour. Service was average as well. So here’s my rating:

Dining experience: 3.5 star
Food experience: 3.5 star
Would I recommend? Maybe (if you don’t mind waiting for your table for up to an hour)