Sunday, August 30, 2009

My first Korean meal!

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Being a new food blogger, I always want to try something new and different. So on a Saturday afternoon, after reading almost every menu in Castle Towers and deciding that it was too expensive, we headed down to Eastwood where I had read a few reviews of restaurants there. Being Asian, I go there all the time but have never been to the other side of the station- apparently referred to as the "Korean side". I was very surprised to find out that on that other side, there was a whole street full of restaurants!!!

By then, it was around 3 and we were all quite hungry since we only had breakfast. So we walked into a this particular restaurant because it was one of the first ones we saw....and it had good pictures on its windows! The restaurant was pretty small and had a pretty unique design (which i later found out to be typical of Korean restaurants)- on one side of the room, there were a row of tables and chairs, on the other side, there were tables but no chairs! Since I'm hopeless at describing things, here's what I mean:



How cool is that?
You can't really see much in the picture. Which is because of a mix of my poor photo taking skills (as always) and my very weird camera (not my normal one) which has takes pictures with the worst colours ever!

Of course, we chose the chairless tables- thanks to my sister who requested that we sit there. Whilst this was at first very fun, by the end of the meal, we all had pins and needles!
Ordering from the menu was quite difficult- although there was an english menu, our lack of knowledge of Korean food meant that we had no idea what each item on the menu actually was. This problem was solved when my mum took the waitress outside and used the photos to tell the waitress what she wanted to order. It was quite funny =]


Complimentary appetisers
First to come out were the appetisers. As this was my first time in a Korean restaurant, I was quite surprised when the waitress put these down on the table and even more surpirsed to find out that they were free! (except for the sauces which came with our meals). Apparently, this is common in most Korean restaurants. I'm not usually a nut person but the nuts in the sweet sauce were so addictive, I kept eating them throughout the meal. I don't usually eat hot (as in spicy) foods either but I was feeling particularly adventurous so I tried the kimchi and the jelly-like thing (i have no idea what it is). Both were quite hot (for my tastes) but delicious. I'm pretty sure my excitement had something to do with it but I had only started on the appetisers and was already loving the meal! Even the salad, which only consisted of lettuce and carrot with dressing (if i remember correctly) tasted good!
Despite the small size of the appetizers, they took quite a while to eat because the kimchi was so hot, I couldn't eat it quickly and we had to eat the nuts one at a time because we were using chopsticks. The other food came very quickly so we never got around to finishing the appetisers....

Seafood Pancake- $13

I later found out that seafood pancake is usually considered an appetiser which I find hard to believe because of the size of this one. The seafood pancake was quite large and was very very satisfying. Sadly, I don't remember what it tasted like, only that I loved it and would order it again!


Bibimbap- $13

Bibimbap is a funny name. My mum recommended it to me- the chinese call this 'stone rice'. I was quite baffled as I didn't see the link between stones and rice. It made a little more sense when the dish arrived- it is served in a bowl made of stone (or some other material similar to it). The bowl is very hot so it continues to cook the rice for a while and almost instantly cooks the raw egg yolk when it is mixed with the rice.

Meat Soup with Rice- $12
This meat soup came with rice. It was served in the same type of bowl as the bibimbap.....I wonder why it isn't called 'stone soup' in chinese? I have no idea what this is- it was a soup with had meat in it but tasted like much more than that. The problem with eating something you've never eaten before is that it's difficult to figure out how to eat it. We ended up putting the rice into the soup and eating it that way.

Overall, this meal was one of the most exciting ones I've ever had. It was also very filling. The service was excellent and the food was delicious- i would come back here anyday!

For anyone who's wondering what's with the name (since my last post was about a Korean BBQ dinner), I've never had a non barbecue Korean meal. So I consider this to be my first =]

Myung-Ga BBQ Restaurant

120 Rowe Street,
Eastwood
NSW, 2122

Saturday, August 29, 2009

BBQ- Korean style

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What can you smell from streets away, tastes delicious, keeps you eating for hours and makes your clothes smell like food?

Korean BBQ. =] (okay fine, the same can be said about any BBQ...but STILL)


To anyone who keeps track (or would like to know), this is my second restaurant review =D I'm still quite uncomfortable with taking pictures in restaurants because I keep thinking that someone will come and tell me that photo taking is not allowed. And people give me weird looks too.....

Back to the point- we had been to Charcoal mine before but that was many years ago. When we decided to go back again, we unfortunately chose a Friday (a couple of weeks ago) which was completely booked out so we had to leave and go to some other restaurant. A couple of weeks later, we found ourselves back here- and this time, with a booking for 7:30pm. Unfortunately, this was the day of the Eels vs Panther game so it was so difficult to find parking (although we did find out later that the restaurant actually had its own parking at the back).
Maybe it was because of the football game going on, the restaurant was not nearly as full as it had been a couple of weeks earlier. We got a good table, right next to the food - as this was a buffet style bbq- but were quite dissappointed at the selection. It had a smaller choice of food than other BBQ's that we had been to and most importantly, had no dessert!!!! We were so tempted to leave except that we were already seated and it was rude to leave, especially since we made booking. So we stayed there anyway.

To those of you who have never been to a Korean BBQ buffet, it's like a normal buffet but instead of having a selection of cooked foods, they have cooked foods and raw meat which is usually marinated in really yummy Korean sauces. You then cook the meat on the bbq hot plate and then eat! Which is not as easy as it seems- if you have poor grilling skills, you'll end up with lots of burnt food...like me!

Usually, at other buffet style Korean BBQ restaurants, the bbq it turned on pretty much the moment you get there. So we were quite confused when 10 minutes later (literally), none of the waiters had turned them on. Then we found out that the grills here were not electrically powered but were heated by burning charcoal- hence the name "charcoal mine". I think you can just see the flame underneath the food.....it's pretty cool
Whilst we were waiting, we started with the cold food which didn't need to be cooked. We had a bit of Kimchi, salad and some fruit. Yes fruit-beause the watermelon looked so sweet and watery (and it was)!!

Selection of meats
When the charcoal finally arrived, we got to start....As you can see, the selection isn't all that great. But you know what? The quality of the food was a lot higher than at other places we've tried which certainly made up for the small selection. Everything quite good and we kept getting more!

I particularly liked this section because they're so fun to try! I didn't actually find out what any of them tasted like because once all the meats are cooked, they all look the same! But it was fun to guess what I was eating. The kidney was nice....but to forever to cook!



The salad here was really interesting too because it consisted mostly of sprouts. I don't usually like sprouts but the ones here were big and juicy! And the mushrooms- they were HUGE! and also big and juicy (is that a word you use to describe mushrooms??)



As there was no dessert, we finished with the fruits- which only consisted of watermelons and oranges. By the time were finished eating, it was around 9:30- although I'm sure we could've kept eating for the longer had it not been for the waitresses who were (not so) subtly trying to get us to leave.

The whole meal was $31 per adult ($2 more than it would cost on a normal weekday). And it left us all smelling like Korean bbq...

Charcoal Mine BBQ House
454 church street,
north parramatta
nsw 2151 australia


Charcoal Mine BBQ House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bread!

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I love it when the whole house smells like food after i bake something ;P

I'm not a huge fan of bread but when i saw this milk loaf on Happyhomebaker's blog, I really wanted to make it. So after wanting to bake this loaf of bread for more than half a year now, I finally made it!
I haven't baked a lot of breads before- just a one failed bread and sometimes the mixes which you put in the bread maker. I've FINALLY found out why none of my breads have ever looked or tasted as good as they should be- it was the yeast. So I got a new box of yeast- the ones which come in packets. And this time, the dough rose beautifully! I got very excited because it was the first time I saw bread rise....and then I got even more excited on the second prove because it kept on rising!!!

In the recipe, HHB suggested to let the machine knead the dough for one 20min cycle and then start it again for 10 minutes but i got impatient and took the dough out of the bread machine after 10 minutes to manually knead it for a while before I put it back into the machine to knead. =] Kneading bread is so FUN!!!!I think I underkneaded it so it didn't turn out quite as soft and fluffy as it could have been. But it was still soft and fluffy anyway and my whole family LOVED it!! And it made the house smell like bread.

Unfortunately, when I took the bread out the next morning, they were soft and fluffy no more. =( BUT then we put them in the toaster and they tasted just as good!!
You're probably bored of me talking about myself and bread.....So here's the recipe from HappyHomeBaker's blog but I thought I might as well copy and paste it here =]

Ingredients
143g fresh milk
35g egg
25g caster sugar
5g salt
250g bread flour
4g Instant yeast
38g butter

1. Place milk, egg, followed by caster sugar, salt, bread flour and yeast into the pan of the bread machine. Set to Dough function. Add in the butter after 8 ~ 10 mins into the kneading cycle. Continue to let the bread machine do the kneading. Stop the machine after the kneading cycle. Re-start the machine and let the dough knead for another 10mins before stopping the machine.
2. Remove dough from the bread pan, let it proof in room temperature in a mixing bowl, covered with cling wrap. Let proof for 60mins.
3. Remove dough and punch out the gas. Divide dough into 3 equal portion. Roll and shape into balls. Let the doughs rest and relax for 15 mins. (this 'relaxing' time is needed so that the dough will be easier to roll out and shaped).
4. On a lightly floured surface, flatten one dough and roll out into a longish shape. Roll up the dough swiss-roll style. Do the same for the two remaining doughs.
5. Flatten the rolled-up dough and roll out again into a long rectangular shape. Roll up tightly, and make as many rolls you can, swiss-roll style for the second time. Do the same for the two remaining doughs.
6. Place doughs in lightly greased bread tin/pan. Let the doughs proof for the second time, until it fills up 80% of the tin/pan. Cover with cling wrap.
7. Bake at pre-heated oven at 180 ~ 190 deg C for 30 to 35mins.
8. Unmould the bread immediately when removed from the oven. Let cool completely before slicing.

Thankyou very much to HHB for this very awesome recipe!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The ugliest cake ever!

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Here's a little story about me and cheesecake =]

One of the first cheesecakes I had (I haven't had many) was the blueberry cheesecake from the Cheesecake shop. It was about $7 for a quarter of the cake-back then our family thought that was pretty expensive considering the fact that we usually only pay around $15 for birthday cakes at Asian bakeries. I know, they're different cakes...but STILL! And I still thought it was expensive until this story:

Here's another story about me and cheesecake:

When I borrowed Donna Hay's "Fruit" Cookbook from the library and saw the blueberry swirl cheesecake, I knew I had to make it. It looked almost the same as the blueberry cheesecake we always get from the Cheesecake shop. And the recipe was so simple! All I had to do was to put everything into the food processor, dump it into the pan and bake for an hour!

Like all things I really wanted to make, I had to wait a couple of weeks before I actually got around to doing them because I had exams =[ So by the time I get to make it, I was very very excited.

I bought all my ingredients a couple of days before I was planning to make it. All except the blueberries. Our family doesn't usually eat blueberries so we decided to get fresh ones....because fresh is generally better right?

And a lot more expensive.

It costed $6 for a 125 punnet of blueberries!!!!! It didn't help either that they went on special the following day...to $4.50. Together with the cost of all the other ingredients (because we don't store cream cheese, sour cream or almonds at home....) it cost more than $10 to make this cake! And that's only for HALF the recipe!

So $7 for 1/4 of a cheesecake is pretty okay!
_____
Okay, so that wan't much of a story.....

Here's something about the cake:

It didn't turn out quite as I had expected- as the title suggest, this is one of the ugliest cakes I've ever made.anyone have any ideas why the picture turned out sideways??

So it's SUPPOSED to be a blueberry swirl cheesecake. Only, it didn't turn out as pretty swirls because of my lack of swirling skills. And it was very wrinkly. And it tasted nothing like the cake we usually get from the Cheesecake shop which is much more like a chilled cheesecake, only it says that it's baked....This one tastes like baked cheesecake- like the ones you get from cafes. And for $10? It was worth it! It was so rich and addictive! Next time I'll probably buy frozen blueberries because I don't think it really makes a difference....

Here's what happened:


I made this on the same day I was making the milk loaf because I thought the timing would fit perfectly- I could make this while I was waiting for the bread to prove. The timing didn't turn out as perfect as I wanted it to be and I ended up standing around in the kitchen for a couple of hours......

One of the interesting things about this recipe is that the base does not use digestive biscuits but uses shortbread instead. This was perfect for me because I had a packet of shortbread from AGES ago which no-one in our family likes because it was a werid brand. I had to buy some almonds to make the base because we don't usually eat almonds but since then I have developed a liking for them. Because the recipe calls for ground almonds, I processed them in my food processor- it's SO FUN!

I had equally as much fun processing the blueberries because they splattered all over container thing and it looked really cool! Unfortunately, the blueberry puree seeped into some gaps of the container thing and I have not been able to get it out =[ The actual cheesecake part was quite boring though- even when i used an electric mixer instead of mixing it in a food processor.

When I assembled the cake, I realised I'd cooked the blueberry puree for too long and it was too thick to swirl properly. So the swirls looked more like weird lines than swirls. I baked it for an hour and when i took it out, it was all wobbly- kinda llike jelly. It took AGES to cool and when it did, it didn't taste any good because it was still wet. Feeling quite disappointed, I put it back in the fridge. I tried it again the following day and.......it was so GOOD!

It was still quite ugly though. This was about the prettiest photo I could get:




Not pretty at all is it??
Nevertheless, it tasted really nice and I will no doubt be making this again in the near future.
And here's the recipe. incase, you want to make it too =]

BLUEBERRY SWIRL CHEESECAKE
apparently from Donna Hay Modern Classic #2 but I found it in 'Fruit'

Ingredients:

220g (7 1/2 oz) fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup caster sugar
85g (2 1/2 oz) shortbread biscuits
1/2 cup almond meal
45g (1 1/2 oz) butter
600g (20oz) cream cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process berries in a food processor and press through a sieve (you should have about 1/2 cup puree) Place the puree & sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stir until sugar is dissolved. Rapidly simmer for 8 minutes or until thick. Set aside to cool

To make the base, process the bisucits (cookies) in a food processor until crushed Add the almond meal & butter, process until combined. Grease a 22cm (9in) springform tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper. Press the crumb mixture over the base and refrigerate. Preheat oven to 140deg (280 F).
To make the filling, process the cream cheese in a food processor until smooth, add the sour cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla, process until combined & smooth.

Pour the cream cheese mixture over the base. Drizzle the blueberry mixture over and using a butter knife gently swirl the mixture just through the top of the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 1 hour or until set. Refrigerate and serve cold.


If anyone is interested, this is post number 3!!! And it's a whole week late. Oops.

First (food related) post!

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So. Six days after writing my first post (if that one counted) and I'm already behind on posts. I've realised how difficult blog writing is..... I look up to all those food bloggers who update their posts everday!

Anyway, last weekend, my sister took on the challenge of not eating for one and a half days. Why? It was the 40 hour famine weekend!!

Which was the perfect excuse for me to not only to bake something (maybe I'll write about that in my next post...) but also to go out and have an awesome lunch =] at
Thai spelndid in Rouse Hill. Okay fine. Not just me. Because I can't go out by myself (technically, I could......except I'm not walking all the way to Rouse Hill!!). Although I had been here before, I got very very excited because I love thai food!

To anyone who's been to Rouse Hill Town Centre, the restaraunt is right next to the cinemas so we used to pass it everytime we went to watch a movie. They smelt really good too!

They have a lunch menu which costs from $12 a meal depending on whether you choose vegetarian, seafood, chicken, beef etc. and comes with a coke or water. I had a hard time choosing what to order because everything looked so good. And then I had a hard time choosing whether I wanted chicken or beef......but I'm always that indecisive=]

The food comes and it's all pretty and glossy. It's just begging for a picture to be taken! First was the Pad Thai.

Beef Pad Thai $12 (with drink)

As you can see, my photo taking skills suck. The dish looked so pretty before..... It tasted really good. I haven't had many Pad Thai's before so i love it! It's sweet and full of flavour. I usually don't like to eat sprputs or nuts but I finish the whole thing. On the topic of Pad Thai, I once watched a video on Youtube of Pad Thai being made in Thailand...one a boat! I've never been to Thailand so I thought it was really cool. And apparently it's really cheap too. One day I will go to Thailand and try it.......

Chicken Thai Fried Rice $12 (with drink)

Second to come is the Chicken Thai Fried Rice. It's also pretty and glossy like the Pad Thai- only my lack of photo taking skills ruined it and it doesn't look as pretty and tasty as in real life. I preferred the Pad Thai over the rice, but that's because I generally like Pad Thai more than fried rice. However, I prefer this fried rice over many that I've tried before. It was delicous! Because it was so glossy (umm...oil i guess?) it wasn't dry like normal fried rice. And there was so much chicken!!! (which is a good thing!)

So there we have it. My first (food related) post. YAY!!!!! I can now call myself a.....FOODBLOGGER!!! =]

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