Monday, October 24, 2011

Our Wedding Reception - Rhodes Phoenix

Wedding photos give me mixed feelings. On one hand, I get super excited about getting them in my hot little hands and can't wait to flick through them, on the other hand, I am way way way too lazy to sort through them properly. Hence, my hubby and I have yet to sit down together to figure which photos we want in our album. Official photos aside - I have been also sitting on photos of the food from our wedding (compliments to our good friend at TBang Photography).

First off - it was a pretty epic night. We were running slightly late and funnily enough, the waiters/manager of the restaurant wanted to make sure we were able to get food in our stomachs before doing parts of the official program (e.g. speeches, table photos, etc etc). I wasn't too surprised to see that the quality of food on our table was top-notch (as we're the ones paying for everything), but I was amazed to hear and see that all other tables had similar quality food.

First up for the night was the suckling pig and jelly fish platter. Everyone had a generous serving of the crispy skinned thinly meat/fat layered suckling pig and yummy jelly fish. I remember that a few of my non-asian friends came up to me later bemused by the fact that jelly fish could be eaten! It was a yummy dish indeed.

suckling pig and jelly fish

The prawn mince stuffed crab claws came out plump and golden brown. Crunchy deep-fried bread crumbs and tasty prawn mince was gobbled down by all (including my hubby's 3yr old nephew). I love how it managed to remain golden brown across all tables despite the massive amounts of these they had to fry up.

stuffed crab claws

Next up was braised dried scallop with mushies and broccoli. I don't remember much of this - probably wasn't impression-making, but I'm sure veges couldn't have gone too wrong. However, in retrospect, I believe that we had wanted to change the dish to fresh scallops (and not dried scallops) - the restaurant must have forgotten.

braised dried scallops with veges

I do remember, however, that the shark's fin soup with crab meat was awesome! Generous proportions of sharks fin, beautifully coloured, just the right consistency and delicious-tasting! I definately gobbled this one up :) Even my non-seafood eating friend ate this (though I'm not sure he actually enjoyed doing so) LOL

sharks fin soup

There were also lobsters a-plenty. My hubby was super relieved that he had the time to eat this - and it would have been a waste not to, as there was so much lobster! All cooked to perfection. My parents had altered the dish to make it come with thin egg noodles which complimented and mopped up the "supreme sauce" beautifully. Love the noodles :P

braised lobster and noodle in supreme sauce

Next up was the braised abalone with sea cucumber. I'm not a fan of abalone and not a fan of sea cucumber, but I could see that most Asian guests appreciated the taste and texture of this dish. The sauce was strong, but I think it was necessary coz abalone and sea cucumber are probably not the most inherently tasty things.

abalone and sea cucumber

Every table also got a large steamed live coral trout with ginger and shallot. Not sure what the taste or texture was on other tables - but I remember that our fish was spot on deliciousness. Super fresh, super smooth - the fish kind of just slithered down my throat with the perfect soy sauce coating. YUM.

steamed coral trout

I didn't touch much of my crispy skin garlic chicken but I do remember thinking that the kitchen did well to keep the skin crispified.

crispy skinned chicken

Just as the rounding off dishes, there was the fried rice in lotus leaf wrap. Most banquets get the rice and noodles at the end, but we shoved our noodles in with the lobster and hence, only rice in lotus leaf option was available. A very good option if my memory prevails.

fried rice in lotus leaf

Fruits and little biscuit and cake things were also served. Didn't get to touch them but they looked decent :)


All up, Rhodes Phoenix did an excellent job with the food. The service was also better than most and I love how the environment doesn't bring on that normal Chinese food clattering and clinkering echoey noises due to their high ceilings. Definately a good reception venue if you are stuck with the need to host a Chinese banquet.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 32.5/40

Rhodes Phoenix
1 Rider Boulevard
Rhodes NSW 2138
Tel: (02) 9739 6628

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pho Toan Thang - Flemington

Living where we're living gives us good close access to cheap yummy pho in Flemington. We've been to a few places for pho but one of our favourite is Pho Toan Thang which is situated in the little covered corridor.

Pho Toan Thang

My favourite pho is what I always order from this place (beef ball pho) and on this occasion, my hubby ordered the beef special (with the lot - rare beef, beef ball, beef brisket, beef tripe, beef tendon). The pho here is quite yummy. The soup is clear and tasty and luckily not filled with MSG. The beef balls are sometimes cut thinner than half... but also sometimes cut in half (depends on your luck). The noodles are deliciousness and when you add your own mix of condiments in, it's the perfect lunch or snack :)

"beef special", and "beef ball pho"

Not a bad place - price is also very reasonable. Hence, we've been here multiple times :)

Food - 8/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 29/40

Pho Toan Thang
95 The Crescent Shop 9
NSW 2140
Tel: (02) 9764 3687

Friday, October 14, 2011

Star of Canton Restaurant - Hong Kong

Whilst we were in HK, we were just in time to catch my cousin's wedding. To my hubby and I, it was quite a weird wedding. Weird - not cos my cousin was weird, but weird because of the attitudes of the people who attended and the waiters who served.

First off, his wedding landed on the National Day of China (1st of Oct) meaning that halfway through his reception, fireworks would be present - and having chosen a restaurant which looks directly out onto Victoria Harbour - it meant that our reception observed a 1/2 hr pause to admire the fireworks.

In that context, we had guests at the receptions rocking t-shirts, 3-quarter pants, high socks and sneakers, and like half the guests were in jeans ... Yes. And the bride had like 4 elaborate dress changes to match them. On that night, they were also possibly short staffed and they simply dumped the food on the table and provided ZERO service except when they wanted to clear the plate.

First dish was suckling pig with these pita bread things. A whole plate of these were just dunked on the middle of the table without explanation and the waitress scurried off (AND keep in mind, we were relatives of the people paying for this... so we were the worst of plebs). Atleast the suckling pig was crispy and crunchy.

suckling pig

Large scallops with fungi and celery were next dunked on our table. The scallops weren't cooked the best, but were none-the-less scallops. And I love scallops - so they were forgiven.


Next up was a nicely arranged plate of prawns, broccoli and deep fried crab balls. I like fish balls, crab balls, lobster balls, all these artificial stuff - so I was OK with this dish too :)

crab balls with prawns

Next dish was well and truly dunked on our table in the dark - in the dark cos the fireworks were on and the whole place came to a standstill of observe the spectacle for half an hour. I don't really like dried scallops and they can accompanied with random bok choi everywhere... so... no. Didn't really appreciate this one.

dried scallop with veges

The "sharks fin" you normally get was substituted with this random soup thing with tiny bits of chicken throughout. I thought it was just really badly cooked chicken soup. My hubby said to me after that there might have been some random tidbits of birds nest throughout. It was a pretty tasteless undelicious soup LOL.

chicken and birds nest soup

Abalone, goose feet and veges came out next. There was quite a lot of abalone on the plate. I think what happens is that the service you get affects the taste of the food greatly. And since the service here is sub-par, it makes you feel that the food is sub-par too (regardless of whether it really is or not).

abalone and goose feet

Next up, our waiter bought out the steamed garoupa fish and subsequently massacred it. My hubby witnessed the whole thing - she first tried to take the head off and failed, she then swapped tactics and tried to take all the meat off. Couldn't, gave up and zoomed off, leaving us with an ugly looking carcass of a fish.

massacred fish

"Crispy" skinned chicken was umm... just normal chicken?

crispy skinned chicken

Everyone was pretty stuffed by now. But then wonton noodle soup came out. Amazingly, although the previous dishes were at times, neglected, the wonton noodle soup was smashed by everyone. Slightly overly soggy noodles with not too tasty wontons... but seemed slightly yummier than some of the other dishes LOL.

wonton noodle soup

Dessert-wise, super diluted red bean soup with glutinous rice balls were average. The biscuits were sooooo hard that you possibly broke your teeth trying to bite into it. What amazed me more was that they bought out platefuls of whole oranges (uncut) with plastic bags on top of it (ie. they expect you to "take away" lots of oranges). ZOMG. What kind of fruit service is that?


Restaurant in a super nice location. Decor was nice. Music was HORRIBLE.... like... they were blaring the most inappropriate songs the whole night. Fail.

Food - 5/10
Service - 3/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - ?
Overall - 16+ ?/40

Star of Canton Restaurant
Level 17, The One
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: (852) 2870 1488

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hawker style food - Singapore

We were in Singapore for the F1 but subsidiary to super fast cars going around and around on an amazing night-time city race track, I was looking forward to delicious cheap hawker style food.

One of hawker centers we went to last time was the Maxwell Center. The beauty of this hawker center is that it's 24hrs - meaning that it is still opening when we're starving for dinner at 10pm. I also love how hawker centers can make you full whilst allowing for change from $5.

Not every store was open at this time, but there was enough for us to have a good feed. My partner opted for mixed rice noodles with fresh hand-made fish balls. It was an interesting selection for my partner as he's normally not into noodles nor fish balls - but I enjoyed it muchly :)

mixed rice noodles with hand made fishballs

I opted for congee. Though plain-looking in the photo, it was actually a preserved egg and pork congee (all the ingredients were in the bottom). The congee itself was cooked really well - smooth, dense and yum.

congee with preserved duck egg and pork

On the way to Maxwell Center, our taxi driver told us that of another awesome eating hangout - a whole strip of satay skewers at Lau Pa Sat. Walking there from Maxwell Center, we were met with smokiness in the air and lots of meats spinning round and round. However, be careful of the store owners pulling you into their stalls - hold your ground and decide which satay store you want to eat at (although they all sell roughly the same thing).

After considering our options, we went for a small meal deal of 20+ skewers - chicken, veal/lamb, and prawn. Looking around us, we could see many happy customers devouring one skewer after another. The meat was really tasty and tender and the satay sauce was really peanutty (which is awesome :P). These particular skewers were nicely peppered and slightly more chilli than your average satayed meat.

skewers at Lau Pa Sat

Much to my hubby's happiness, skewers are found pretty much everywhere in Singapore - including food courts of department stores lining Orchard Street. The one I particularly like is Takashimaya - a Japanese department store under which my hubby found delicious Jap-style skewers :)

Yakiniku at Takoshimaya food court

In the midst of F1 practice on Saturday night, we were hungry and extremely delighted to find that Glutton's Bay (another hawker store strip) was within the zones where we were permitted entry. Glutton's Bay is said to be priced a little higher than other hawker centers due to it's location and the fact that the makansutra people gathered some of the best seafood hawker people and gathered them here. But really - $10 for an awesomely yummy and huge oyster omelet with lots of fat juicy plump oysters? I'm not complaining :) Oh, and of course - sugarcane lemon juice to try and wash down the greasiness.

Oyster omelet

One of our local Singaporean friends took us to his local hideout - Beach Road Prawn Mee Eating House. It's amazing. It's pretty much an isolated hawker store in the middle of no-where in a place with no MRT and yet, tons and tons of super luxury cars are parked outside. Everyone was here to eat awesome Prawn Mee. The prawn was massive and fresh and tasty. The noodles were cooked just right and the soup base was spectacular! Bathed in prawn essence and other amazing ingredients - it was a super delicious prawn noodle soup. Our friend claimed that it was the best prawn mee in the country. We washed this down with barley water which was refreshing and nice.

Barley water
Prawn mee

Another Hawker center we visited was the one in Chinatown (not Chinatown food street which opens after 5pm, but the massive one on level one upstairs). We sampled a variety of food here - clay pot rice (which was really yum and authentically cooked for over 20 mins), these weird sweet and savoury crispy dumpling cups, and these soft steamed rice cakes with these mincey, preserved vege stuff on it. What blew us away, however, was fresh lime juice. Fresh lime juice!!! It was sour, yeh - but so so so refreshingly good :) Make sure you chose the store with heaps of limes. There's some imitations around which makes the juice more sweet than sour.

epically awesome lime juice
clay pot rice
singaporean treats

My hubby couldn't keep his eyes of the satay skewers - hence he got 5 chicken, 5 beef, and 5 lamb skewers which were all super tender, tasty and satayed. Again - super cheap :)

satay skewers

As I was doing my rounds of this huge hawker center, I noticed a massive long line. The rule is - when you see a line at a hawker center, line up. Doesn't matter if you don't know what you're lining up for, line up for it first anyway. Turns out, it was for soya sauce chicken with stir noodles. Couldn't resist and thankfully so. It was sooooo appetising! The noodles were soft but not overly so and the chicken was so smooth and tender and soysauce tasting - pretty damn amazing. Where are the stores like this in Sydney???

soy sauce chicken with noodles

I love hawker center food. Delicious. Varietied. Cheap. Make sure you choose one that looks relatively clean! They also display cleanliness ratings on their shop front (most of the time at least) so check that out :)