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Archive for March, 2012

Ichi-ban Boshi, Sydney

This place has been around for as long as I remember. I used to come here after uni or during my lunch break to get my ramen fix. Now days, there are many other places to get ramen – Gumshara, Ryos, Menya to name a few and I have to say, Ichiban Boshi is probably my least favourite out of them all. I think the broth lacks a little something, a punch of flavour and taste. However, in saying that, I have come here many times for their ramen. The lines for Ichiban Boshi are ridiculously long so they must be doing something right?

I was catching up with the lovely suzchef and suggested this place. I was craving for Japanese, not ramen but for their pork katsu-don. The lines were surprisingly ok, rocked up at about 6.20pm, and within 10 minutes we were seated.

I do however like their non-ramen dishes. The pork katsu-don is one of my favourite, but then again, you can’t really get that wrong now can you? Bowl of rice topped with deep-fried pork cutlet, and egg – YUM! The pork cutlet was tender and had the right amount of fattiness, and the egg on top – perfect!

S had the wonton ramen – thin noodles with a generous serving of juicy pork and prawn wontons and choy sum. It looked a little oily though – too much chili oil!

We also shared a serving of gyoza – pork gyoza which we both loved. I love the tang of the sauce, could have easily eaten a dozen of these babies on its own – of course without the pork katsu-don! I am not that greedy!

The unagi with rice is another favourite of mine and the chicken karaage. Unfortunately, it is not a place that you can sit for hours. When and if busy, they do usher you out. Still service is quick and efficient and food is good and reasonably priced.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Ichi-ban Boshi

500 George Street, Level 2

Sydney, NSW 2000

Ph: +61 2 9262 7677

Ichi-ban Boshi on Urbanspoon

Categories: Japanese, Noodles, Sydney Tags: , ,

Mochi Ice Cream at Bubbies, and Leonard’s Malasadas, Honolulu, Hawaii

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this place – Bubbies Ice cream! It’s not your average ice cream but mochi ice creams. Mochi ice cream is a Japanese confection made from mochi (pounded stick rice) with an ice cream filling and these little babies were absolutely frigging delicious!

Bubbies can be found in the University district, apparently where college student hang-out. It does get busy and there aren’t many tables inside. We weren’t planning to dine in, as since Lobster Dynamite lives about 5 minutes away so it made sense to take away.

The place was relatively busy, their specialty I think is the mochi – different types of flavours. The regular mochi flavours are on the left and the specials and chocolate dipped ones are on the right. We bought a dozen and I was hoping the guy behind the counter would give us one of each, but instead two of six different flavours – lychee, guava, chocolate peanut butter, mango, chocolate espresso, green tea and azuki bean.

We cut six mochi into thirds, for Lobster Dynamite, ‘The Mother’ and myself. My least favourite would have to be the lychee and guava. My favourite out of the combination was definitely the chocolate espresso followed by the green tea. The next day I had the chocolate espresso on my own – it was MINE!

Would have liked to try the tiramisu or the strawberry dark chocolate chip! Definitely a must visit if you love ice cream and mochi.

They also had other dessert – ice cream and other desserts with funny names – like ‘come here little girl’, ‘knock me up’ or ‘maybe the bag broke’ – we didn’t try any of them but would definitely be interested next time! lol

A couple of friends have raved about Leonard’s Malasadas, so I had HIGH expectations. Leonard’s Bakery on Kapahulu Avenue in Honolulu is a popular bakery, queues can be long and parking can be a complete nightmare. The attraction is the deep fried yeast dough which resembles a Portuguese version of a donut without a hole – the malasada.

Usually deep fried, and often coated or filled with different types of filings. The traditional is just plain with icing sugar, but on offer were custard, chocolate and the flavour of the month.

We got half a dozen, 2 traditional, 2 chocolate, and 2 custard – it was warm and good but considering I had high expectations it was a bit of a letdown. It was good but nothing special I thought. It was like a warm donut but softer and it didn’t have the hole – it didn’t leave me with any wow factor. The custard was probably better, but it was a little too rich for my liking. I had a bite of ‘The Mother’s’ and that was it, unlike bubbies – I wanted more!

The bakery is nothing fancy, small, and run down. You can order other things besides malasadas – different types of donuts, cakes, cookies and many more but we were here for the malasadas and that’s what we got!

If you are in the area and are curious then definitely get some, but like I said early, I think the mochi ice cream wins for me!

GA’s ratings: Bubbies: 8 / 10

1010 University Ave

Honolulu, Hawaii, 96826

Ph: +1 (808) 949 8984

Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream (University Avenue) on Urbanspoon

GA’s ratings: Leonard’s Bakery: 6.5 / 10

933 Kapahulu Ave

Honolulu, Hawaii, 96816

USA

Ph: +1 (808) 737 5591

Leonard's Bakery on Urbanspoon

Wilbur’s Place, Potts Point

I have wanted to try this place for a while now. The team behind Bourke Street Bakery has a new spin-off, Wilbur’s Place in Potts Point. It’s a small eatery, twenty or so seats, its friendly, and focuses on quality seasonal food. You can dine-in or take away and on this glorious Friday, we decided to dine-in. Unfortunately they don’t take reservations, so come before peak hour and you are bound to get a table.

I was catching up with the lovely D, Wilbur’s place is tucked away in the busy Llankelly place, where room 10 and LL wine and Dine are also situated. They serve all day breakfast, which is a bonus my stomach could not go past  past the suckling pig roll with pickles and dill mayo ($10).

OH MY GOD! Undoubtedly one of the best suckling pig roll I have had. The pork was incredibly tender, the pickles and dill mayo a perfect combination. My only gripe would be that there weren’t enough crackle but the pork…. OMG! It was so good that I don’t think I even stopped to put it down. I just ate and ate and ate! Sorry D! I was way too engrossed in my pork roll. Pity this is not walking distance as I would happily eat this every day!

D on the other hand, opt for the suckling pig plate with white beans and cabbage salad ($14) which was served with sourdough. The cabbage salad and beans looked lovely, the suckling pig also looked tender and delicious. D said it was pretty good for what it is. I think my suckling pig roll wins hands down! Oh my…

Dinner menu changes from time to time, the menu displayed on the website looks pretty good and I am definitely keen to try but how can I resist a suckling pork roll?

Didn’t have the coffee, but D said it was good. Can’t wait to start drinking coffee again.

I was tempted to have the toasted brioche ice cream sandwich with caramel but was in a suckling pig coma and could not fit anything else. In the meantime, if you are in the area, go grab yourself a suckling pig roll – you won’t be disappointed. Not open on Mondays but no doubt I will be back sometimes this week!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

Wilbur’s Place

34 Llankelly Place

Potts Point, 2011

Ph: +61 2 9332 2999

Wilbur's Place on Urbanspoon

Shaved Ice at Matsumoto and Kalua Pork at Ola, Honolulu, Hawaii

On our first day in Honlulu, we went for a drive with Lobster Dynamite and The Professor. We drove to Oahu’s North Shore, walked around and stopped at possibly the most famous Shaved Ice place in Honolulu – Matsumoto. Matsumoto has been around since 1951 – opened by both Mamoru and Helen Momoy Matsumoto.

It is located about 10 minutes drive from the Dole Plantation site on the Northern side of the island, a scenic drive into North Point. We drove past looking for parking and the line was incredibly long! So many tourists, wanting to try this shaved ice, including ‘The Mother’.

It’s a tiny store, I didn’t go in as there were just way too many people. They have a multitude of syrup flavours – anything you can think off they had – strawberry, pineapple, lemon, coconut, banana, coconut cream, pinacolada – you name it! The list just went on and on. You can have the simple snow cone or be super indulgent and add on a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the bottom of the paper cone, or even add a generous scoop of azuki beans. Both ‘The Mother’ and Lobster Dynamite had neither; they just wanted a simple cone.

The shaved ice was HUMUNGOUS! I don’t think the photo really justified it! Huge shaved ice drizzled with syrup – from memory, ‘The Mother’ had melon, lychee and coconut – weird combination I thought but it seemed to work. It was just one sugary / syrupy drink! It was good for a warm day but talk about sugar over doze. I don’t know if I would have lined up for more than ten minutes though, it was good and I understand the fascination but I probably wouldn’t have gotten one on my own. ‘The Mother’ seemed to have enjoyed it but I could tell towards the end he was pretty much over it! lol

I can’t remember what Lobster Dynamite had, but I did prefer the colours on his ice than ‘The Mother’s’!

We drove around the island, stopping at Laniakea to look at the turtles. I think the boys really wanted to go snorkeling, however, weather was just too horrid and I don’t think they had their snorkels with them. Definitely next time… there will be a next time!

Next stop was definitely lunch – Ola at Turtle Bay Resort. The resort looked amazing, we didn’t really get a chance to walk around as our main focus was food! It was past 3pm when we got there, so the restaurant was closed, but they were still serving bar food which suited us fine.

‘The Mother’ and Lobster Dynamite both ordered the Ola slider combo with fries – Kalua pork slider with guava bbq sauce and from memory a cheddar cheese burger.

The Kalua pork slider was absolutely amazing; the pork was incredibly tender and the spices – fantastic!

Thankfully I ordered the kalua pork nachos – not what I expected what nachos would be. Five large thin and crispy corn chips all topped with generous amount of kalau pork and cheese with guacamole and tomato salsa on the side.

These babies were fantastic! The pork, the guacamole, the crispy corn chips – DELICIOUS!

The Professor wasn’t overly hungry, so opted for the cheese and fruit platter which looked very healthy and very tasty!

Overall it was a lovely meal – I really enjoyed the nachos and the pork sliders were fantastic.

Deliciously full, Lobster Dynamite drove us back to Waikiki, whilst I had a quick snooze in the car.

GA’s ratings: Matsumoto: 6.5 / 10

66-087 Kamehameha Hwy

Haleiwa, Hawaii, 96712

PH: +1 (808) 637-4827

Matsumoto Shave Ice on Urbanspoon

GA’s ratings: Ola: 7.5 / 10

57-091 Kamehameha Hwy

Kahuku, Hawaii, 96712

Ph: +1 (808) 293-0801

Ola (Turtle Bay Resort) on Urbanspoon

Menya Noodle Bar, Chinatown

Menya Noodle Bar can be found on Quay Street, Prince Centre, Haymarket. I have known of its existence for a while now but have not had the chance to go there. The dumplings next door is always inviting and busy but it is not a part of Chinatown that I go very often.

So on a cold Saturday evening, I was catching up with my brother, F and sis-in-law, O who was craving for ramen so I suggested this place. At 7pm the place was starting to get busy, you order near the door, take a seat and food will be delivered to you.

I have been to the Menya Noodle Bar on Sussex Street many times now, and usually alternate between the Tori-katsu ramen or the tori kara-age ramen or the Menya Curry and tori kara-age. However, that evening, I wasn’t really hungry so thought I would try something different. The agedashi tofu ($6.00) – 3 big pieces of deep fried silken tofu swimming in a pool of sweet soy sauce broth. I love agedashi but I don’t particularly like it drenched in sweet soy sauce. The tofu was soft and silky and although drenched was still quite tasty.

The mini rice bowls ($4.50) was hard to resist. I have never ordered the rice bowls before so opt for the buta mubashi bowl – sliced roast pork with shallots and mayonnaise. The pork was tender and had the right amount of fattiness. It was good!

F ordered the tori kara-age ramen, shoyu ($10.90) – I was secretly hoping that he would order the kara-age so I could steal a piece of chicken! I think I would have preferred the kara-age chicken on the side, so it doesn’t become soggy, but it was still quite tender. The soup was warm, thick, rich and GOOD!

O loves soba, so opt for the tempura soba ($13.90), again the tempura was a little soggy, better on the side I think so it remains crispy. However, I didn’t try this, by the time I was ready to try some, it was gone – she completely demolished it! I can safely say that she truly and utterly enjoyed this dish.

The place was busy by the time we got there, but turnover is quite quick. Menya doesn’t only have ramen dishes, they also have soba, udon, Japanese curries and many more. Food is good and reasonably cheap. As winter is approaching, I can envisage lots of comfort food which involves ramen and Japanese curry.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Menya Noodle Bar

8 Quay St Shop Tg8

Haymarket, 2000

Australia

Ph: +61 2 9212 1020

Menya Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Honolulu and Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

After what seems to be an eternity, ‘The Mother’ and I were finally heading to Hawaii. ‘The Mother’ has had quite a relaxing two weeks, roaming around HK, NYC and Miami but was certainly looking forward to our short albeit relaxing trip in Hawaii. We were staying with ‘Lobster Dynamite’ and ‘The Professor’ – they have a six month stint in Honolulu and thought we would take the advantage and visit them. I have wanted to go to Hawaii for a while now, 3.5 days was simply not enough but we did manage to eat some wonderful food and I even managed to do a bit of shopping – which was VERY important!

The weather in Honolulu was not kind, I didn’t see the lovely sun like in Miami, it was cloudy and rainy at times but it didn’t dampen our mood. We were here with friends, and we planned to have a good time! Our first evening, we were picked up by Lobster Dynamite and The Professor, their penthouse is absolutely amazing, it was near Waikiki beach and we could see the ocean from where they lived. Some afternoon, we were even dolphin watching, which was uber cool!

We didn’t do much that evening, the next day, we drove around the island, from Waikiki up the centre and around the coast which was nice. Stopped by to see the turtles – very cute!

Had some snow ice, had a very late lunch at Ola at Turtle Bay Resort, and driving back to Waikiki and stopping at Bubbies for some mocha ice cream. All in all it was a superb day of eating!

Lobster Dynamite was very organised, prior to us arriving, he sent us a list of restaurants 18 to be exact, and in 3.5 days, I am proud to say that we ate at 8 of them, not quite 50% but a frigging good effort I thought! So THANK YOU for being a great host and we look forward to our next trip next year to VEGAS! VEGAS BABY!

The evening we landed, we were starving! Lobster Dynamite suggested this burger place that was just around the corner from where he lived – Teddy’s Bigger Burgers, which was opened in April 1998 at the foot of Diamond Head. They claim they only use 100% chilled ground chuck (no fillers or binders) and burgers are hand pattied daily and always charboiled to order. Their produce and buns are the highest quality and are delivered fresh daily.

The menu – burgers of course and lots of it. Pick a type of burger – original, teri, monster double or spud, then ‘awesome toppings’, followed by fries and sides. There also have different types of burger combos to choose from.

I only wanted a burger, so opt for the Original Teddy’s burger, which are all cooked medium and stacked with super sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles unless otherwise requested and added cheese with that.

OMG – it was absolutely delicious! The ‘super sauce’ was excellent! The burger was a little bigger than I thought but it was divine. Tender beef pattie, the bun was also fresh and soft, the sauce trickled down my hands, it was one frigging messy burger but well worth it! It went down nicely and quickly and I could have probably gone for another half!

‘The Mother’ opt for monster double – you can’t see it from the pic, but the pattie is bigger.

The fries were uber crispy, and Lobster Dynamite ordered tots which are like potato gems – crunchy on the outside and soft pillowy on the inside.

It was a frigging good burger, a little fancier than both In-n-Out and Shake Shack but it was GOOD! I’m beginning to think Sydney needs a burger joint like this! My favourite burger place Lotus has closed down, so where can I get my burger fix?

Lobster Dynamite can vouch that it is one of the nicest burgers in Honolulu. It was a perfect way to end the first evening in Honolulu and I can say that dragon and I slept extremely well that evening!

GA’s ratings: 8 /1 0

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

134 Kapahulu Ave

Honolulu, HI 96815

Ph: +1 (808) 735-9411

Teddy's Bigger Burgers (Waikiki) on Urbanspoon

Tropical Beach Cafe and Oh Mexico, Miami, Florida

One of the mornings I had free, ‘The Mother’ and I went for breakfast at Tropical Beach Café. This place was recommended by the staff at the hotel where we stayed. It’s a Cuban restaurant, family run and offers great breakfast at terrific prices, compare to hotel breakfast.

I wanted something relatively healthy, have been eating quite a lot of bad food, as you do when you are on a work trip, so opt for Clara Salchicha (USD5.99) – egg white, sausage and toast. Generous serving of egg white, the sausage was a little oily for my liking and the fries, well so much for me being healthy! I’m not used to having fries in the morning, so it was a little weird but no doubt I had some. Who can say no to fries?

‘The Mother’s’ meal was SO much better and I had serious food envy! He ordered the chorizo toasted sandwich and it was divine! Toasted focaccia, it burst with flavours and I couldn’t help but keep asking for another bite. I am pretty sure I ate half of his sandwich… Whoops.

Service was friendly, and I think total bill came to USD12 which I thought was very reasonable! Food wasn’t too bad, but I think their toasted sandwiches are infinitely better than the eggs.

Later that day, after I sat on the beach whilst my work colleagues played beach volleyball, we went to Sunset beach for a stroll and some lunch.

‘The Mother’ had walked past Espanola Way and thought it was cool, so we went there had a stroll and stopped for some Mexican food at Oh Mexico. Again, not sure why we picked this place, I would have liked some Cuban food but there weren’t any Cuban restaurant in sight.

We weren’t overly hungry but wanted something to nibble on. Started with complimentary corn chips with guacamole and salsa dip. I love corn chips with guacamole so this was a winner.

We started with Quesadillas (USD 9), tortilla filled with queso fresco, pasilla roasted, and add chorizo for an extra USD 3. I love quesadillas, but this was extremely salty – the chorizo was uber salty. However, eaten with salad and guacamole, it made it slightly better. Shame though, as I really do like a ‘good’ quesadillas.

Also ordered a serve of the chicken taquitos (USD 9), chicken rolled in tortillas, shaved lettuce, onions, queso fresco, japaneo, tomatillo-avocado salsa. These I thoroughly enjoyed, the taquitos were crunchy and the chicken pieces were wonderful and fresh. Probably my favourite out of the two.

Service was friendly, food was good – if only the quesadillas weren’t so salty!

Miami reminded me a little bit of the Gold Coast, where the night life is a must. Unfortunately, considering it was a work junket, what happens in Miami will stay in Miami! We had fun though… that’s all I am going to say and that’s pretty much it on Miami. Next stop… HAWAII! Yay!

GA’s ratings: Tropical Beach Café: 6.5 / 10

2891 Collins Street

Miami Beach, Florida, 33140

USA

Ph: +1 (305) 538 0359

Tropical Beach Cafe on Urbanspoon

GA’s ratings: Oh Mexico: 6 / 10

1440 Washington Avenue

Miami Beach, FL, 33139

USA

Ph: +1 (305) 532 0490

Oh Mexico Restaurant on Urbanspoon