Continuing the Vietnam trip, Hoi An is only 40 or so minutes away from Danang. During our stay in Danang, we decided to catch the bus to Hoi An and I have to say, I fell in love with Hoi An. Hoi An is a city on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals. We went here twice, both times only for half a day and I kind of wish we stayed here longer, the city is very laid back, picturesque (wish I took more shots with my camera) and had lots of little stores where i could and would have spent a fortune if we did stay longer. Not to mention, it has the BEST BANH MI in the world!!!!
We spent most of the time in Ancient Town, just wondering and eating. We took a tuk tuk the first time we were there, and it was a great way to see the town, though I wanted to stop, take photos or go into the store at that instant!
There were a lot of street foods, I manage to try some but not a lot as it’s always hard to eat street food with Dragon – cleanliness is a factor for her, however, we did try one of the desserts in the street, a very cold refreshing drink which both Dragon.
I really wanted to buy durian – you all know Dragon and my love for the fruit, but ‘The Mother’ would not have it at all!
Now, the best banh mi that I have ever tasted – Phuong, and I am talking not about just the fresh fillings inside but also undoubtedly the BEST BREAD I have tasted. They are not stingy about the filling either, and it is one of the cheapest place that we ate in Vietnam.
There are 12 different types of Banh Mi and between you and me, I really wished I tried ALL 12! However, we only tried 3 between the both of us as we ordered the same ones the second time we went there! No 5 – banh mi thit nuong – barbecue and No 9 – banh mi thit geo vii ham va pate, bread with pork, ham and pate were my two favourite!
The fresh baguette – I wanted to shove a dozen of them in my bag!
No 5 – pork, ham, and pate, my goodness, this was DIVINE! I could have eaten two bread rolls on my own (ok i ate 1.5, shared the other half with ‘The Mother’)
No 9 – barbecue which had pork crackling!!!! was probably my favourite, real pork meat, with crackles, who can say no to that.
The first night we went to Hoi An, ‘The Mother’ wanted pho, so we found the closest restaurant near the bus terminal that sold pho, Pho Hua.
‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the beef pho – soup was clear, with lots of beef pieces floating on top. I have to say, this was good, better than any pho i have had in Hong Kong, but I still prefer Pho 75 that we went too in Danang.
Dragon and I on the other hand, the chicken rice (not glutinous rice) was ok, the chicken pieces were nicely marinated and the rice was tasty.
I couldn’t resist in ordering their vegetable spring roll, eaten with lettuce it was ‘semi’ healthy right?
The second time we were in Hoi An, we went to Morning Glory owned by local chef and restaurateur Trinh Diem Vy, who also owns other restaurants in Vietnam. The restaurant is located in a two-story old colonial building and specialises in local favourites. Reservations is highly recommended, but we were there for an early diner (5.45pm) and had to return the table by 7 which suited us fine.
We started with some duck spring rolls, not fried, have to say, this was pretty tasty, albeit small serving but the duck was tender, and the ingredients were all fresh!
‘The Mother’ absolutely loved the ‘My Quang’ Noodles with seafood – which is a well-known dish from the Quang Nam province with crab, shrimp, fresh herbs and yellow rice-flour noodles. He devoured this in no time.
I opt for the roast pork and fresh rice noodles – cold noodles, hot pork served with papaya pickle, fresh herbs, cucumber and sweet and sour peanut sauce. I had to ask for the sauce on the side, but the noodles were still tasty and perfect for a hot summer day.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for dessert, as we had to catch the bus back to Danang. The dessert all sounded wonderful and I truly wished that we had more time in Hoi An! Reservation is highly recommended at Morning Glory, we were there at 5.45am, that’s why we got a table, but even then, there was already a queue of people waiting to get into the restaurant.
Hoi An is just absolutely gorgeous, I think I could definitely have spent at least a week just exploring the city and eating my way through all the alleys, and not to mention try ALL the banh mi! There will be a next time, hopefully not too far in the distant future!
Banh Mi Phoung
GA’s ratings: 10 / 10 (yes I hardy ever give 10 but THIS WAS PHENOMENAL!)
2B Phan Chau Trinh, Hoi An, Danang
GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10
Address: 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam
Ph: +84 510 2241 555
Whilst we were in Danang, ‘The Mother’ suggested that we go do a food tour. Believe it or not, I have never ever been to a food tour – ever so this was my first time and it was a brilliant idea and a fantastic way to try the street food of Danang.
We did a our research and we found a few, but the one that suited us and could fit us in was Summer, who is a former foreign affairs professional turned food blogger, she is also a hostel owner and her website is DanangCuisine.com which has been featured in media all over Asia. Summer’s sister, Helen also does the food tour with her, as at the time we were in Danang, Summer was pregnant, so we met the lovely sister Helen.
The tour is based on Summer / Helen’s top 10 favourite dishes, and the tour ‘will take us to shops scattered around the central district, some within walking distance, others a short cab ride away’. Helen picked us up, and we also picked up 4 other guests – it was great to meet new people and learn about their experiences and hear about their adventures.
Tour details: Capacity of 2 – 6 person. There’s one for lunch time (11 – 1.30pm) or evening (6 – 830pm) and price: US45 pax or (980,000VND) inclusive of all food and drinks, transport and photos were taken during the toor.
We started at Quan Ba Vui – they only sell two things here, bun ga (Vietnamese grilled chicken with Vermicelli noodles) or xoi ga (chicken steamed sticky rice)
We had one each, the xoi ga – chicken steamed sticky rice was a little too heavy for my liking (like any other sticky rice) however, it was tasty, full of flavour and the chicken was tender. Dragon absolutely loved this dish! I didn’t realise how much she loved sticky rice!
The bun ga – vietnamese grilled chicken with vermicelli noodles was DELICIOUS! silky smooth vermicelli noodles, the soup was clear (with added chili oil) and again the chicken was tender.
I was so glad that we got to try Mi Quang Ba Vi – it is a Vietnamese noodle dish that originated from Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam. It is usually served in various occasions such as family party and the dish is made with rice noodles tinted yellow with the use of turmeric and served with shrimp, pork, chicken or even fish and beef. The broth is made by simmering the meat in water or bone broth for a more intense flavour, seasoned with fish sauce, black pepper, shallot and garlic. It is also served with toasted Vietnamese sesame rice crackers, fried shallots and various herbs.
The condiments – spring rolls, Vietnamese rice cakes (i had originally thought it was pork skin!) and some vegetables
Mi Quang – superb! It was slightly spicy for Dragon but I know she would have loved the rice noodles! It was cooked to perfection, and one couldn’t help but ‘slurp’ the noodles! The pork was ok but it was the condiments that goes with it that makes this one of my favourite dishes in Danang.
I was getting full by now, but there were MORE! WE hop out of our van and walked down an alley way and at the end of the corridor there is a bight sign marking our destination, Ba Duong – one of the best places for banh xeo, a crackling fried rice flour crepe filled with bean, sprouts, shrimp, spring onions and mung beans.
The restaurant only serves banh xeo, which is accompanied by pork skewers, rice paper, and a pork liver and peanut sauce. Helen said that the ‘secret to this place is how crispy the pancake is’.
As I couldn’t eat prawns, they made a special one for me without prawns
The way you eat it is, take a rice paper roll, then the yellow rice crepe, and pork skewers, dip it in the sauce. My goodness – the flavours, the crunchiness, the pork – burst of flavours in my mouth. this was excellent and the sauce – i wanted to buy some and bring it home!
‘The Mother’ wanted to try corn juice – I have to say, I am definitely not a fan. It was sweet, milky, corn-y (is that even a word?). ‘The Mother’ thought it was nice but it was definitely not for me!
We went to Ba Lan (which ‘The Mother’ and I went previously on our own) to order some Vietnamese pork roll, but this time, it wasn’t your typical pork roll.
First, pork floss, with the vegetables and pate – this was interesting. I do like pork floss but it was a little weird I thought. Definitely not my favourite type of banh mi.
Second was just the pate with some chili and now this was delicious! They were tiny and went down so easy! The bread, again that bread was just incredible! Crunchy on the outside and perfect on the inside.
Last but not least, desert. Helen mentioned that there aren’t many deserts of cakes in Vietnam. They usually just have fruits and we went to Sinh To Che Thai. My glass was filled with jack fruit, avocado, banana, bit of condensed milk and crushed ice! Perfect for the warm weather in Vietnam!
We met some wonderful friends during the tour, got some pretty good recommendations for where to eat in Ho Chi Min City, so will keep that in mind for next time!
The tour was definitely worth it if you only have a short time in Danang and wanted to try all the local cuisine. Helen, our tour guide was friendly and very knowledgeable. We had a great time, and would definitely do another food tour next time. All the food was delicious, and I am missing Vietnamese food and can’t wait to go back to Vietnam!
Next – our delicious eats in Hoi An and where I had the BEST, seriously THE BEST BANH MI EVER!
Quan Ba Vui
Address: 55 Lê Hồng Phong, P. Phước Ninh, Quận Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng
Mi Quang Ba Vi
Address: 166 Lê Đình Dương, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng
Quán Bánh Xèo Bà Dưỡng
Address: K280/23, Đường Hoàng Diệu, Phường Bình Hiên, Quận Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng
Address: 62 Trung Nu Vuong, Danang, Vietnam
It seems like a life time ago we went to Danang. Life in the GA household is never dull, have been super busy with Dragon, work and traveling a little. Since Danang, we have been to Indonesia for my cousins wedding, and a short trip to Singapore for some eateries. On top of that, we were also in Sydney for 2 weeks, so this blog has been slightly neglected, and I am truly sorry!
Now, Danang, we were here just after the Easter break and I have to say, it is one of the most enjoyable and relaxing holiday we have been too for a while. The three of us, slept so much, ate so much and relaxed so much that we didn’t want to come back home! We had buffet breakfast every single morning at the resort, then when we came home, Dragon asked me where the buffet was! My dear child!
Where we stayed: Premier Village Resort Danang – the resort is beautiful and child friendly (as friendly as it can be!). The resorts all have 3 – 4 bedrooms, however, we only needed one so they closed the other 2 bedrooms, and it was beautiful. We had our own private plunge pool where we swam almost every day, there’s a kitchen for us to cook (which we didn’t of course!) and a kids area for Dragon just in case it rained. There was also a main pool which we frequently visit and the resort was right near the beach, you could pretty much walk to the beach but considering how much Dragon hates sand, we didn’t venture out to the beach. The resort also had activities for kids, kite flying for one, and many more.
What we did: relaxed and swam in the pool every single day. We went to town to eat almost every day, and we did 2 trips to Hoian (which I will post separately!) Hoi an was just beautiful and next time we are in Danang, will sure to stay there!
What we ate: now the list is long! We had such amazing for that we didn’t want to leave. The resort had great food and we ate at the resort a couple of times that week, but most of the time, we ventured out and even did a food tour! My goals was to have a banh mi every single day, have 7 banh mi’s and believe it or not I did! I simply couldn’t get enough of it!
First day at the resort we didn’t do much, we ate by the pool – the food was pretty decent. ‘The Mother couldn’t go past their chicken burger with chips – chicken fillet with tomato, lettuce on a deliciously soft bun and served with chips.
Dragon wanted a burger, to be honest, I should have known she would have just eaten the chips!!!! which she did, I ended up eating her burger. Sadly though, the beef pattie was a little dry and disappointing.
I ordered the meatballs with baguette and Dragon preferred this to hers. The meatballs were succulent and the baguette, was excellent, believe it or not, better than any bread I have eaten in Hong Kong.
‘The Mother’ was still hungry and ordered a tuna salad. The tuna was lightly crumbed, the tuna itself was fresh and delicious.
That evening, we were ready to venture out for some local food! ‘The Mother’ was craving pho so Pho 75 – caught a taxi there, which costs more than the food itself! But so worth it.
They only served pho and it was phenomenal! Best I have eaten, the noodles were translucent, and the broth – it was much cleaner and clearer than the northern cuisine. No sauce required, the broth was just perfect, and the beef was just a wonderful complement. Pho cravings satisfied!
The next day, my quest for banh mi started! We started with Banh Mi Thit Nuong (banh mi with grilled pork), again we caught the taxi to town, and I found one called “Huong” on the corner of Le Loi and Le Thanh Ton. Apparently, this is quite popular with the school kids, as there are schools nearby.
We sat on one these small stools, it was perfect for Dragon and she absolutely loved it! Now, the banh mi itself, DELICIOUS! Filings of grilled pork, vietnamese mint, papaya pickle, bit of butter, pate and chili sauce (mine had no chili sauce as i shared it with Dragon). Seriously superb, nothing I have had before. The banh mi I am used too from Sydney was with different cold meats, but this grilled pork was just divine. I asked for an egg also, and boy it was just magnificent! The bread, yes, again, the bread, was just fantastic! I have truly been deprived of good fresh bread in Hong Kong.
This is the lady that makes the banh mi – she was uber friendly, even gave Dragon a free bread!
‘The Mother’ on the other hand, was on the hunt for the BEST vietnamese coffee, he had coffee at least twice a day, but I am still not quite sure which one he liked! A few hundred metres away from this banh mi stall, there is a coffee shop for the life of me I forgot the name. However, we ordered some Vietnamese coffee – served cold and with condensed milk.
I couldn’t go past this taro milk tea, with taro pudding – surprisingly good!
The next banh mi place we tried was bnah mi thit nguoi (banh mi with jambon) and the main ingredients are jamon, cha and pate – no other herbs but long strips of chili, cucumber and spring onion. The stall we went too was called Ba Lan. We didn’t eat at the stall as there were no seats and Dragon was getting a little restless so we took it home to eat.
WOW! This was definitely ‘The Mother’s’ favourite, we bought four and he ate 3 in one sitting! ok, maybe 2 and 3/4. The bread was excellent again, and the filing was just superb. I was told that it is the BEST banh mi thit that there are already numerous fake banh mi Ba Lan – this is the original place! Definitely worth visiting.
The best banh mi that I ate was definitely at Hoian – which I will post later on. We went to a pretty decent restaurant on our last night in Danang which was recommended by a few people called Aspara Restaurant – mix of Thailand and Vietnamese cuisine. The menu was vast, it took us a while to peruse the menu, however, the best bit, there were performances which Dragon loved – she didn’t want to eat and kept dancing. i have to admit though, it is a bit of a tourist place, but the food was definitely good!
We started with these fried salt and pepper tofu, the tofu was silky smooth and cut into bite sizes.
I ordered the fried chicken with rice for Dragon, the fried chicken was pretty decent, as good as the one you get in Sydney.
‘The Mother’ wanted some seafood – started with some pipis served in a clear, gingery brother, the broth was tasty and the pipis were a wonderful addition.
The scampi cooked with onions and garlic were definitely the highlight! So much flavour and the scampi itself was deliciously succulent.
Last but not least, the vegetables.
It was possibly our most expensive meal in Danang. It was good to try but I definitely still preferred the street food! We did one food tour, which will be in my next post, and also Hoian – such a beautiful place!
In the mean time, where can I get a decent banh mi here in Hong Kong?
Premier Village Resort Danang
Address: Vo Nguyen Giap Street, Ngu Hanh Son District, Danang, 055000, Vietnam
Ph: +84 511 3919 9999
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
Address: 91 Ngo Gia Tu, Danang, Vietnam
GA’s ratings: 8.5 / 10
Address: 62 Trung Nu Vuong, Danang, Vietnam
GA’s ratings: 7/10
Address: 22 Tran Phu, Danang, Vietna
Ph: +85 511 561 409
So Part I was all about Lake Taupo, and Napier. Now the second part is about driving back from Napier to Auckland and stopping at Rotatua, spending a few days in Auckland and a few days in Bays of Island.
After Napier, we drove all the way to Auckland, it was about a 6 hour drive but we did stop in Roturua – we had originally going to stay overnight here but ‘The Mother’ decided against it and went straight to Napier. We sent to Polynesian Spa which I loved, however, Dragon, not so much! The water was WAY too hot for her and she said that it smelt like ‘poo poo’ LOL. We even got a private pool (only 30 mins) and we stayed at the Lake Spa for a bit. I would definitely have loved a massage, but ‘The Mother’ was eager to stop by a park (I can’t for the life remember the name) before Auckland. There were SO MUCH SPACE and GRASS!!!! LOVE!
Where we stayed: a 4 bedroom house (found on air bnb by ‘The Mother’s aunt) which was nice and spacious. Only problem was the walls were so thin, we could hear a pin drop!
What we did: nothing much, we had a wedding at Abbeville Estate – it was a beautiful place for a wedding and Dragon again wore her favourite and BEST outfit for the day!
What we ate – for breakfast we ate at home, and obviously a wonderful meal for the wedding and dim sum (yum cha) for the day after wedding. I did have a pretty good meal with one of my oldest and dearest friend in Auckland – Blue Breeze inn which serves a delicious Modern Chinese food.
Chef Che Barrington is the chef behind Blue Breeze Inn and in 2011, he opened MooChowChow, Auckland’s first modern Thai restaurant. There were so many options on the menu. We started with the steamed bun of roasted pork belly and pickled cucumber (NZD10 each) – that crackle, it was sublime and the bun itself was soft and pillowy which was excellent.
We also couldn’t go past the steamed bun of five-spiced tofu, kimchi, and coriander (NZD9 each) – I have to say, this was pretty good. I may have preferred this over the pork belly one and that says a lot!
The bang bang chili chicken with black vinegar, sesame-chilli dressing (NZD18) was ‘bang bang’. The chili really gave it a nice kick! It was a little spicy for Dragon unfortunately but she definitely enjoyed my pork belly more.
The beef unfortunately wasn’t as tender as I had hoped. It was a little on the tough side.
For dessert, we ordered a couple of things to share. Mango, tapioca and lemon sorbet was refreshingly light and was a great palate cleanser!
The taro dumplings were more on the heavier side but it’s not something I have eaten before. It was good but I definitely prefer the mango, tapioca and so did Dragon!
Service was good and food was pretty good, especially the pork buns, shame about the beef though, as I was craving beef!
Before we left Auckland we had a quick lunch at Toru Café which is located in Ponsoby – I am really loving that area. It’s a little like Paddington, if you live in Sydney.
‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the beef cheek, tomato, kasundi, carrot pie which was served with crinkle chips (NZD16.50) – oh how I fell in love with the crinkle chips! My my! It was crinkle potato chips, slightly fried, it was delicious. The pie itself wasn’t too bad either.
I couldn’t go past the spiced chicken, halloumi, cous cous, raisin, harissa, date (NZD22.50) – I love cous cous, and not to mention squeaky cheese! Unfortunately Dragon wasn’t a huge fan of cous cous, nor the squeaky cheese, she did however, eat all my chicken.
Service was polite and friendly, it’s a pretty cool little café, it was in the middle of a shopping arcade and was very relaxed. Food was good and everything on the menu sounded great! Those chips though – worth coming back for just a bowl of crinkle cut chips!
We were in Auckland for about 3 days, and then we drove up to Bays of Island. It was about a 2-3 hour drive, very scenic but lets be honest here, I spent most of it sleeping! Every opportunity I had, I was sleeping, I was SO TIRED and besides, cars and I – sleep! Who doesn’t? Come on?
Where we stayed: Waterfront Suite Paihia – Herritage Boutique Collection, 100 Marsden Road, Paihia, Bay of Islands, Paihia, New Zealand. We got the 2 bedroom apartments – don’t ask why but we definitely enjoyed the space! LOTS OF SPACE! And had a view of the ocean, which was beautiful!
What we did: if it was summer or if Dragon was a little older, we could have gone swimming with the dolphins, go kayaking etc. But alas, our little Dragon is still 2.5 years old. We hung around town, there was a lovely grass area, and a piano where Dragon could not stop playing! I believe she has musical blood in her, just like her mama!
What we ate:
We arrived early afternoon, and thought we would have an early dinner at Alongside which is situated over the water in the stunning bay of islands. It’s a very laid back place, very casual, we sat there drinking and eating whilst watching the sunset. It was a tad cold but it was still quite pleasant.
I couldn’t go past the braised beef croquette – 4 generous size croquette with lots and lots of beef. The outside was slightly burnt but the inside, my my my… it was absolutely amazing!
‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the soft shell fish tacos with our local catch, apple and mango salsa. He demolished this before I could even take a photo of it.
We also ordered a side of chunky street fries with rosemary salt and smoked aioli – they were demolished by the three of us! So good!
They even had a kids menu for Dragon. Not pictured but for NZD10 – a bowl of Bolognese pasta and juice. She loves pasta so had no problems demolishing it.
It is really a nice way to spend the afternoon / evening. I can envisage many Sunday lazy afternoons sitting here, drinking and catching up with friends. It was really a very nice and pleasant area.
The next morning we had breakfast at Upper Deck, which was next door to our apartment. I ordered the big breakfast to share with Dragon – 2 fried eggs, bacon, sausage, mushroom and hash browns which was served with some brown toast. Pretty large serving, Dragon isn’t really a toast kind of girl for breakfast, she usually eats rice and leftovers for dinner. She loved the sausage and mushroom though, the toast she thought was a little hard.
‘The Mother’ had something more simple – he was a little over big breakfasts (HOW COULD HE?) and opt for muesli, yogurt and fruit which was surprisingly good! Fresh fruit and the yogurt was surprisingly good!
We had dinner at one of the local pizza place near our apartments. The pizza wasn’t too bad, very big but it was for four of us. We ordered two of it and managed to finish it all!
Overall, it was a great trip I love New Zealand, it’s such a beautiful place. However, the driving – the driving with Dragon almost killed me! Never again I think. We did have a good time, and would be keen to go to the South Island at some point.
GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
146 Ponsoby Road
Auckland, New Zealand, 1011
Ph: +64 9 360 0303
GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
16 – 138 Ponsoby Road
Auckland, New Zealand, 1011
Ph: +64 9 555 1229
GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10
69 Marsden Road,
Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Ph: +64 9 402 6220
GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
76 Marsden Road
Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Ph: +64 9402 8147
Wishing you all a Happy New Year and to lots more eating in 2015 – I certainly know there will be a lot of it happening! It’s been a while since I last blogged, we had a nice 2 weeks break, just hanging in Hong Kong. New resolution this year is to blog a little more, not nearly as much as pre-Dragon but definitely a little more than post-Dragon! Below is a family photo from our trip in New Zealand which I absolutely love!
It seems like forever since our last trip to New Zealand (have yet to blog about Kaoshiung, and not to mention some eateries from Helsinki and Prague!), we were there just over a week. I have previously been to New Zealand, South Island to be exact – Christchurch, Queenstown, Milford Sound and had a wonderful time. We did the awesome foursome which includes bungee jumping, white water rafting, canoeing and shotover jet. This time though, we were in the North Island, for a wedding in Auckland and thought we would check out the nearby towns. We stayed a couple of nights in Taupo, then Napier (my favourite!), Auckland and then Bay of Islands.
We arrived quite late to Auckland and ‘The Mother’ drove straight away to Lake Taupo, so by the time we got there it was quiet late, bed time for Dragon and we didn’t do much. We had something quick to eat on the way which I can’t even remember, either Mc Donalds or KFC!
Where we stayed: Hilton Lake Taupo, 80 – 100 Napier Road Taupo and we got the suite. It was very spacious, separate bedroom and living room. It was a shame we were there in Winter, would have loved to have gone swimming. The water was warm, but outside was freezing!
What we did: We had lunch and dinner at Lake Taupo town. We took photos in front of the lake and it was beautiful. Even our little photographer couldn’t wait to take photos of us and order us around!
What we ate: We had breakfast twice at Dixie Browns, which was located on the shores of Lake Taupo. It has one of the largest fresh water lakes in the South Hemisphere and there was also the view of Mt Ruapehue, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.
‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the hot chocolate
With a large dollop of chocolate which I couldn’t help but eat on its own! YUM!
I opt for the kiwi farmhouse breakfast (NZ19.90) – fried eggs, Kransky sausage, mushroom, hash browns, smokey bacon and grilled tomato served with hot buttered toast. It was a pretty large serving (bacon and tomato not on the same plate) and pretty decent.
‘The Mother’ opt for a sweeter breakfast, truck stop pancake stack (NZD15.90) – blueberry pancake stack drizzled with maple syrup and cream. Oh my, it was good but sickly sweet in my opinion especially with hot chocolate, but ‘The Mother’ seemed to have enjoyed it.
Service at the Dixie Browns was excellent and food was good, that we came again the next day to try out their lunch menu!
After brunch, we took a quick drive to Chateau Tongariro Hotel – it’s a BEAUTIFUL Chateau, ‘The Mother’ originally wanted to stay here, but I was against moving every single night as it wouldn’t be too relaxing.
We went inside and had some afternoon tea, scones and tea and some bread for Dragon at the Ruapehu Lounge Bar.
The scones were beautiful, I have missed good scones, I have tasted some horrid ones here in Hong Kong, guess I can just make my own?
And we got some bread with dips for Dragon
We went for a drive to the top of the mountain, and the views were spectacular. I love how there were still snow which was amazing and yes it was STILL VERY COLD!!!!
For dinner, we ate at Taupo town centre, Plateau Restaurant & Bar. There was even a kids menu which was awesome – drink, food and dessert for NZD15! Dragon opt for the meatballs, tomato sauce with steamed rice (weird combo I thought but she seemed to have enjoyed it). And she of course enjoyed her ice cream sundae which we took some also.
I was a tad greedy and ordered the 2 things – the crispy fried chicken with chipotle mayo (NZD12.50) – it was a little bigger than I anticipated. I was expecting drumsticks and wings, however, it was chicken breast fried, which was a little disappointing.
The steamed pork bun, braised pork, coriander, hoisin sauce (NZD9.0) was a little dry, I liked the steamed bun but the braised pork was a little on the dry side which was a shame.
‘The Mother’ opt for the fresh market fish with some saffron pasta which he utterly enjoyed.
The next morning, we had brunch at Replete Café and store which was also located in the town centre. It was a relatively busy when we rocked up, you pay at the counter and food will be delivered to your table. I absolutely LOVED the banana smoothie – very creamy and had a pretty strong banana taste which I liked.
For breakfast, I opt for the field mushrooms on megagrain farmhouse toast with sausage (NZD16.00). Dragon ate most of the sausage, as I was happy to just have the mushroom.
‘The Mother’ opt for the complete Replete breakfast (NZD17.50) – eggs, chargrilled bacon, roasted field mushrooms, grilled focaccia and tomato relish. I stole some bacon but he pretty much demolished this on his own.
We left for Napier just after lunch and arrived at about 4.30pm. Now have I mentioned how much I LOVE NAPIER? From memory it was about 4 hours drive from Lake Taupo. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Napier. It’s located in Hawke’s Bay on the eastern coast of the North Island.
Where we stayed: Art Deco Masonic Hotel, 2 Tennyson Street, Napier South, Napier 4110, New Zealand. It was a very ‘cool’ and funky hotel. There’s a pub downstairs and we got the pacific suite, again separate living and bedroom and overlooking the ocean – it was indeed beautiful!
What we did: We arrived early afternoon, and we walked along the Marine Parade, again taking photos. This time jump shots which Dragon absolutely loved!
We also went to the National Aquarium, it’s not a big aquarium but worth visiting, especially since it was raining. Dragon found this ride and didn’t want to leave! We walked around town, I wanted to do a bit of shopping but ran out of time. Definitely worth staying at Napier a bit longer. We also went for a drive, about 1 hour drive to a mountain, it was so windy that Dragon couldn’t stop laughing- she loves the cold weather! There were some jump shots also!
We had breakfast at the hotel both days as it came with the package, nothing too fancy but it was pretty good – eggs, bacon, toast, pastries, cereals and fruits.
For dinner on the first night, we ate at Emporium eatery and bar which is located at the Art Deco Masonic Hotel.
We shared a couple of things, including a pizza – roast chicken, chorizo, brie, pesto mayo and rocket which Dragon thoroughly enjoyed. The crust was thin and there was a generous serving of chicken and chorizo.
I loved the fried polenta, cauliflower puree, smoked tomato salsa and parmesan (NZD15) – ‘The Mother’ wasn’t a huge fan of polenta, which meant more for me!
The pork, fennel and lemon meatballs, hummus and tzatziki (NZD16) was good but I still preferred the polenta.
We were too full for dessert, and it was almost Dragon’s nap time, so we waddled upstairs and had a wonderful sleep!
The next day, we had lunch at Salt, which is also known as the ‘round house’, a Napier icon. It has a lovely view of the inner harbor of Ahuriri and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For lunch we had the lunch menu which was a great deal! I think for NZD20, you get soup or salad or garlic bread and a choice of main.
We had the cream of mushroom, which was deliciously creamy
The garlic focaccia which Dragon demolished!
‘The Mother’ opt for the steak, which was served with herb butter and chips! The steak wasn’t too bad for the price, and cooked just the way he likes it.
I opt for the chicken and mango filo pastry with a side of salad. It was ok, the filing was quite rich, it was a little too creamy for my liking.
Service was good, and pretty decent value. Pity my chicken filo pastry was a little on the rich side. There were a lot of seafood on the menu if you preferred (which is also their specialty!).
For dinner, we made reservations with Mister D and I have to say, it is one of the best food I have eaten in a while! Mister D is ‘a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, we believe in fresh, local produce delivered with great service but no fuss’.
We started with some fresh bread which was hot and fresh – yum!
The waiter suggested the potato gnocchi, cheese sauce and coffee (but without the coffee) (NZD13) for Dragon. It was a very cool presentation, gnocchi served on a stick, which creamy and cheesy sauce. Unfortunately Dragon didn’t take a liking to the gnocchi or cheese sauce – I should have known. She is not a big fan of potatoes and she hates cheesy food, cheese on its own she loves, but cheese on food, not so much!
I couldn’t go past the bone marrow ravioli, beef juices, salsa verde (NZD24.50) – OMG! THE BEST! Even Dragon ate half of it (maybe more). The ravioli with bone marrow was just superb, tender and delivious and the beef juice – my my. I could have definitely eaten a second serving on my own!
‘The Mother’ opt for fist in a bag, new potatoes, asparagus, Telegraph Hill smoked olives parlsey butter (NZD29.50) – it was quite a novelty. The fish was incredibly tender and ‘The Mother’ definitely enjoyed it.
For dessert, we shared the ginger beer crème caramel, poached rhubarb and gingerbread (NZD15). Dragon ate most of the gingerbread on her own, she wasn’t a huge fan of the crème caramel but it’s probably due to texture. ‘The Mother’ and I fought for every single last piece – it was delicious!
I really enjoyed my meal at Mister D and wished we came back the next day for breakfast! I heard the donut was too die for and always runs out!!!! Definitely worth going if you are in Napier, service and food was excellent!
Next… Auckland and Bays of Islands
Dixie Browns – GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10
38 Roberts St, Taupo 3330, New Zealand
Tlp:+64 7-378 8444
Chateau Tongariro Hotel – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
State Highway 48, Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand
Tlp: +64 7892 3809
Plateau Restaurant & Bar – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
64 Tuwharetoa Street Taupo Town Centre, New Zealand
Tlp: +64 7377 2425
Replete Café and store – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
45 Heu Heu St Taupo, New Zealand
Tlp: +64 7377 3011
Emporium eatery and bar – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
Cnr of Tennyson Street & Marine Parade, Napier, New Zealand
Tlp: +64 6835 0013
Salt – GA’s ratings: 6 / 10
10 West Quay Ahuriri, Napier, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Tlp: +64 6833 6035
Mister D – GA’s ratings: 8.5 / 10
47 Tennyson Street Napier South, New Zealand
Tlp: +64 6835 5022
Wow, its certainly been a very long time since I last blogged! Things in the household has been quite busy actually. Work, Dragon, work, Dragon and getting sick, hence, there hasn’t been any time for much else. Thought I would go back to the Singapore post, My bro, F was craving some good congee. He took us to Tiong Shian Porridge which specialises in serving porridge / congee and clay pot frogs leg! I didn’t even know this place existed until he brought us there. Apparently one of his friends who lives in Singapore brought him here and he has been coming back ever since!
The specialty is congee and we ordered 3 large bowls of congee – 2 fish and 1 chicken. To be honest, I am no expert in congee and I am not a huge fan as I only eat it when I am sick. I have to admit though, Dragon really enjoyed the chicken congee, it had the right consistency, not too watery like most places I have eaten.
We noticed that a lot of people was ordering the braised bean curd. It was definitely tasty, silky smooth and soft. The sauce was a very wonderful complement to the dish and especially when eaten with congee, it even got the approval from Dragon! We also ordered a side of chicken wings, however, it wasn’t as tasty as from Chomp Chomp.
The dried chili frog leg clay pot was delicious. The sauce had the right amount of sweetness and spiciness and it was surprisingly meaty! We also ordered the clay pot fish and this was everyone’s favourite. The fish had a slightly crisp to it and was extremely tender.
I have to admit, I really enjoyed the congee, even Dragon couldn’t say no!
On a separate day, my dad was craving for some turtle soup. Now I was a little skeptical about turtle soup but I am always up for trying new things. Dad was craving it and F have heard about this place in Singapore called – Ser Seng Herbs Turtle Restaurant. I know what you might think, these turtles are endangered species, but I asked and these turtles are farmed just like cows and chickens.
The menu is quite limited, just steam turtle or mix turtle internal organ soup and steam black chicken soup. I ordered the smallest portion of the turtle soup and steam black chicken soup. I have to say, I wasn’t a huge fan, not something I would order again. The soup was quite herby and the meat, well I wasn’t sure what I was eating. I do enjoy the innards of chicken and what not, but this was a little weird for my liking.
The rest of the crew definitely enjoyed it, and the steam black chicken soup – well, the soup was tasty but black chicken, I ate it after I gave birth to Dragon and till today, I still can not eat it!
One can not go to Singapore without eating an ice cream sandwich – I can’t remember if it’s the same dude, but he is on Orchard Road and he has been there for as long as I can remember. We had the durian one, and my my… BEST!
Tiong Shian Porride
GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10
265 New Bridge Road, Ann Kway Building
Tlp: 6221 1596 / 6222 3911
Opening Hours: Daily 8am to 4am
Ser Seng Herbs Turtle Restaurant
GA’s ratings: 6 / 10
29 Lorong Bachok, Singapore 387791
Tlp:+65 6748 3953
Sorry for the lack of post, it has been a crazy few weeks and I had the pleasure of going to Singapore for a few days for a wedding and see the family again which was really really nice! Dragon got to see her cousin again, and my goodness, I love how affectionate she is, she would kiss her niece every time she saw her! Sometimes too much that C would be scared of her, look at the expression on her face below – poor C!
I haven’t been to Singapore for a very long time now, 6 – 7 years ago, ‘The Mother’ and I stayed in Singapore for 3 months to find a job, we both didn’t love Singapore and so decided to go back home to Sydney which was one of the best decisions we made! We had fun though in Singapore but I don’t think it is a city for us.
We were in Singapore for about 5 days, managed to stay at Marina Bay Sands for a couple of nights which was uber nice. We didn’t leave Marina Bay at all, even ate at the food court and Din Tai Fung. When the family came, we moved into a serviced apartment and that’s when all the eating started. My dad LOVES Hainan Chicken rice, so a visit to Tian Tian was a must!
Tian Tian is located in Maxwell Road Hawker stall and they even have a restaurant at Joo Chiat Road. The hawker stall was packed when we arrived at 12.30, it took us a good 20 minutes to find a table, and even then it was shared but well worth it! Tian Tian Chicken Rice is one of the most famous chicken rice stalls and surprisingly my parents who come to Singapore frequently has not been. The queue for the chicken rice was horrendously long. We ordered a whole chicken and it was cooked to perfection – tender and succulent, even Dragon wanted more.
The chicken rice was fragrant – it was indeed wonderful and satisfied my cravings. We also ordered a side of vegetables which was good but nothing special, the chicken is definitely my favourite!
Can you believe that I have never been to Chomp Chomp food centre which is located at Kensington Park Road, Serangoon Gardens (nearest MRT station is Serangoon and it is a 10-15 minutes bus ride to reach the food centre). We took a cab and it was only SGD12 if it’s not peak hour. There were so many stalls, we didn’t know where to start!
I ordered some chicken wings from Daily Fresh BBQ Chicken Wings. Each piece of chicken wings is about SGD1.2 and cooked to order. The chicken wings itself was tender and succulent, but felt that the aroma was not strong enough.
I couldn’t go past the pork and chicken satay, minimum order of 10 and my goodness, they definitely satisfied the cravings. The meat was flavourful and tender and definitely one of the best satay I’ve had in a while.
F wanted the bbq stingray, I loved the banana leaf’s fragrance, the skin was crispy and the meat itself was tender and succulent. Dad however thought it tasted like sardines and not sure if he liked it that much.
Oyster omelette is a definite must and a favourite amongst the diners. Eggs, oysters, what’s there not to like?
And also vegetables – the chili really gave it a nice kick!
We enjoyed the meal at Chomp Chomp Food Centre, not sure if we would trek all the way there again though? Especially if Dad thought the stingray tasted like sardines! HAHAHA! They did go to Newtown Circus a few days later and thought the food was better there, I know it is more tourist-y but it was definitely easier to get too.
There’s definitely good food in Singapore and we certainly ate well! I would definitely go back to Tian Tian for that awesome chicken rice.
GA’s ratings Tian Tian Chicken: 8 / 10
Tian Tian Chicken Rice
#01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre
Tel: +65 9691 4852
Tue to Sun: 11am – 8pm
GA’s ratings Chomp Chomp Food Centre: 7.5 / 10
Daily Fresh BBQ Chicken Wings 夜鲜烧烤鸡翅膀 (Chomp Chomp Food Centre)
#01-03 Chomp Chomp Food Centre
20 Kensington Park Road, Serangoon
Ang Sa Lee Satay (Chomp Chomp Food Centre)
Stall 32, Chomp Chomp Food Centre
20 Kensington Park Road, Serangoon
Ang Sa Lee Fried Oyster (Chomp Chomp Food Centre)
Stall 26, Chomp Chomp Food Centre
20 Kensington Park Road, Serangoon
Lucy BBQ Seafood
Stall 5/6 Chomp Chomp Food Centre
20 Kensington Park Road, Serangoon