Sunday, February 28, 2010

BBQ One- Eastwood

BBQ one is famous for their good quality chinese BBQ meats, and rather infamous for the terrible service. The owner lady isn't all that well mannered, the BBQ chopping guy shouts at you and the waiters not-so-subtly try to shoo you away once you've gotten through half your meal (like by moving your plate a quater of an inch...for no good reason). Nevertheless, it still always busy with heaps of customers, as a result of the quality of their food. No other barbecue shop in Eastwood has ever managed to compete with it.

A couple of months ago, it FINALLY opened a new restaurant in the shopping centre in eastwood. New waiter, new chefs, new restaurant....but the service was just as bad! With its new opening (or not so new anymore), we had to try it.......just as a comparison. We walked past the original shop, which was still up and running, and as busy as ever towards. The other restaurant was much bigger and brighter. The food looked the same, but we were curious to find out more.

The waiter speedily writes down our order, speed walks away and quickly, the complimentary soup is put down on our table. To me, the soup always tastes the same- it isn't anything special, and so I forget to take a picture until we've all finished out first bowl. Oops.

The speed is a big thing at BBQ one restaurant- we've only just finished the soup, and the first dish arrives. We ordered the two choices of BBQ meat with rice- in which we chose roast duck and 'crackling' roast pork. As always, the roast meat at BBQ One is delicious, especially when you eat it from the restaurant, as it is still fresh, crispy and hot. It goes well with the rice, which is flavoured with a bit of soy sauce. The first dish does not dissapoint and we are unable to notice any difference between the quality of food between the two restaurants.

Sweet and Sour pork remains one of my all time favourite chinese dishes. I have a love of fried foods and usually like some sort of sweetness in food (which is also why I love honey chicken!). Add to that the huge amount of onions and pineapple- there's no reason for me not to like this dish! I don't think I've ever come across a sweet and sour pork which I didn't like and this was no exception. The pork is hot and crunchy, and the sauce is nice and sweet. There's a mountain of rice lying just under the pork- a bit more too much rice (or maybe that's just because our family doesn't eat a lot of rice....)

This hot pot contains a lot of different ingredients - tofu, chicken, beef brocili, mushrooms etc. The pot comes boiling hot- the sauce is bubbling and continues to do so for a couple of minutes. It makes it hard to take photos as the steam keeps fogging up the lens (which I'm sure isn't a good thing!) It comes as no surprise that the food is hot- and so we need to carefully blow on it until it's cool enough to put in your mouth. Unless you're me and therfore too impatient to wait- in which case you'll end up burning your tongue- an experience which I am not unfamiliar with! The sauce it thick and goes well with the other ingredients- the tofu soaks up some of the sauce, as does the brocoli. The meat is very tender and there is quite a lot of it in the pot- it is a lot more filling than it seems!

Despite the fact that the food is quite good, there is a notable difference between the old restaurant and the new one (the old one is definitely better). However, there is less of a wait here which means that we will more likely to be dining here than there from now on =]
10/160 Rowe St Eastwood
NSW 2122
(02) 9874 5323

BBQ One Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Bet you didn't know it's your birthday today!! (unless you're chinese) Because today's the 7th day of the new lunar year, known as 'eveybody's birthday'!!! Apparently in China, they used to all have a birthday on this one day instead of everyone having serperate birthdays....which could only mean one thing- LESS PRESENTS! and cakes too. And I'm guessing birthday parties are out. I mean you couldn't really celebrate somebody's birthday properly when it's your own birthday too...right?

I thought it'd be fitting to blog about this birthday cake I made a while ago for my mum's birthday. Her actual birthday that is. =]

I'd left it until the last minute to make the cake (because I'm a 'last minute' sort of person) so I got up (relatively) early on my mum's birthday to bake the sponge cake base. I have a funny thing with sponge cakes. Whilst they're improving, it takes me twice to actually make the cake. For instance, with my mango and cream spongecake, I forgot to fold the sponge cake batter the first time. I got it right the second time. This time, I decided to use a different recipe and made it the traditional way- that is, whipping the egg whites and yolks together at the same time (I usually separate them). Everything was working fine until I popped it into the oven and, minutes later, the middle bit of the cake just sank! I searched online and found that it was maybe because I overwhipped the eggs that it sank. The cake was a lot smaller than it should have been (and it was a small cake anyway!) so I decided to eat it. for breakfast. Cutting through it, I was glad I didn't actually use it. Because the texture was like this:

The texture was really rough, and was more like pancake than a sponge cake. Luckily, I made it in the morning, so I still had to rest of the day to bake another one. And the second one came out perfect!

We had chosen the design of the cake the day before after a lot of indecision. At first, we had settled for a 'napoleon cake' but then my mum was scared that I'd spend too much time making the pastry so she changed her mind. Since my parents keep on picking the same old 'mixed fruit spongecake' like the ones you get from the asian bakeries (I'm sure I've ranted about this before), I decided to find a new way of picking more interesting designs and flavours. I collected a huge stack of brochures from various cake shops in Hong Kong (since they sell the types of cake which my parents would like) and then I let my parents choose from those.

The only cakes in the brochures which really appealed to my mum were the fruit spongecakes but even they had lots of designs which I would neve have though of. My mum ended up choosing a cake which sort of looks like this. Sort of.

What she actually picked was a hello kitty cake since she thought I'd never be able to make it. That's sort of true since I don't have any hello kitty moulds. It was supposed to be a christmas cake so it had strawberries with cream piped on the top like snow and mango etc. It was pretty impressive. The only reason why this cake sort off resembles that one is because of the pink edge, which I personally think is pretty cool. Although it's probably only because I made it.

Looking back at the photos, this cake reminds me of play-doh. It looks like the play-doh cakes which they have a photo of on the packaging (except they wouldn't have fruit on the top). I was never any good at playdoh- which isn't surprising since I never a creative person. Which I think is evident in my 'fruit arrangement' since that's the only thing that I couldn't copy from the cake brochure (strawberries and mangoes were expensive that week). So I raided my fridge for fruits, and when taht wasn't enough I opened a can of fruit and 'arranged' them (not very) artistically on top. Nevertheless, the cake tasted great- and was quite cute since it was so small! (I'd used a 15cm mould)

And before I forget what this post was supposed to be about:
Happy birthday to you all!

(a Hello kittyless) Hello Kitty Sponge Cake
or more correctly, you average mixed fruit spongecake recipe (for the sponge cake from HHB)


2 eggs, bring to room temperature
50g caster
2g salt
50g cake flour (I used a bit less)
15g salad oil
15g fresh milk

filling & frosting:
300ml thickened cream
mixed fruit

1.Sift cake flour, set aside. Grease and line a 15cm round pan, set aside. Pre-heat oven to 180degC. Position rack at the lower bottom of the oven.
2. Separate the egg whites and yolks. With an electric mixer, whisk eggwhites and sugar on HIGH speed until stiff peaks are formed. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and then fold the egg yolks into the egg white mixture.
3.Add sifted cake flour and salt into the batter. With a spatula, gently fold in the flour until well blended.
4.With a spatula, mix about 1/3 of the batter with the salad oil in a separate bowl. Fold in this mixture into the remaining batter. This method will help to ensure the
oil will be fully blended and at the same time will not deflate the batter.
5.Add in fresh milk and fold in gently with spatula.
6.Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 20 mins, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Unmold and cool completely.

Assemble the cake
1.With an electric mixer, whip the whipping cream still stiff.
2.Slice the cake horizontally into 2 layers. Place one of the cake layers cut-side down
on a cake plate. Spread the whipped cream over the layer.
3.Arrange mixed fruits to cover the whole layer.
4.Fill with some more whipped cream. Top with the other cake layer, cut-side up.
5.Spread the whipped cream over the top and side of the cake. Arrange the remainder of the fruit on top.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Almost New Year.....

With the lunar new year coming up, many bloggers have been busy making new year treats. I don't usually bake for special occasions (other than birthdays) because they usually fall within some sort of busy period where I just can't find enough time to bake something and blog about it in time. Thinking I was going to have to miss out on yet another occasion, I resorted to reading about other people's blogs (erm..whilst supposedly studying..hehe), as I usually do anyway, until I came across pineapple cookies/tarts on almost everyone's blogs- which reminded me, that I had actually made them a while ago!!

I'm guessing that these cookies are a Malaysian thing because when I asked my parents about them, they had no idea what they were talking about. To them these are more similar to the chinese pineapple cookies they buy from asian supermarkets (I don't know if they're the same thing???)

I'd made these at the end of last year after reading about it. I chose this recipe and made it one afternoon before I went on holidays to give to my relatives. It was quite a risk, making something I'd never made before as I often fail the first time I try to make anything. But since I don't have a signature dessert or a favourtie recipe or anything, I thought I'd just give it a try. Luckily, they turned out perfect so I was able to box them and take them overseas- my relatives loved them!
When I got back to Australia, I made them again- to take photos (so I could blog about them) and, more importantly because we all wanted to eat them again! Unfortunately, they didn't turn out as good as the first time but still tasted great! me and my sister had a fun time rolling these into balls- whilst my mum had....errrr fun cleaning the burnt bits left on the saucepan after I cooked the pineapples. Oops.

Rolling them is a bit tricky at first but is extremely fun- the dough is very soft due to the large amount of butter which leaves your hand all oily after rolling them, whilst the pineapple filling is extremely sticky. My sister made a few oddly shaped ones- just so that we could tell they were hers! Not surprisingly, they were devoured very quickly- I completely understand the food bloggers obsession with these cookies, and why everyone makes them for new year! I'll definitely be making these again and again and again!
Nastar (Pineapple cookies)

For the pineapple filling:
1 can (440 gr) crushed pineapple, DO NOT drain
150 gr sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

1. Dump everything into a medium saucepan. Cook until caramelised, mashing the pineapple gently.
2. Transfer into a bowl and cool. Shape into small balls and place on a baking paper-lined baking tray. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until needed.

For the cookies:
125 gr butter, chopped, cold
25 gr powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
150 gr plain flour
25 gr cornstarch

1. Mix butter and powdered sugar on medium speed. Do not overmix - we don't want to incorporate too much air.
2. Add yolk and mix well. Sift together flour and cornstarch. Mix on low until combined.
3. Take 10 gr of dough and flatten it. Place one pinapple ball on the center and enclose with the dough. Place on a lined baking tray - cover with plastic wrap if necessary, to prevent the cookies drying out. Repeat until dough is used up. Do NOT brush them with egg wash (recipe follows) prior to baking.
4. Bake in preheated 180 C oven for 10 minutes. Take out and brush with the egg wash. Return to the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the tops are nicely browned.

Egg wash:
1 egg yolk
1 tsp milk
1 tsp honey

1. Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl. Make sure the honey is dissolved well and the mixture is no longer lumpy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

J.J Sushi

If you ever wonder how teenagers remain so skinny these days, it because they have terribly small appetites. On our school camp last year we got three sausages, a pile of mashed potatoes and some peas for dinner. The sausages were normal (I'm guessing pork?) thin sausages like the ones you get from the supermarket. Not the most interesting dinner, but what was surprising was that most of the girls didn't manage to finish it!

Which is why, half a year later, when my friend decided to take us to a sushi train, I was not surprised that they only had two dishes each. I was planning to go to Kansai that night, which is why I ate a minimal amount (just enough to supress my feeling of hunger) and I STILL managed to eat more than them.

Situated in Paramatta, it's not too close to the shopping centre, so it's not too busy, but that also means that the prices are not as high as, say, Sushi bay. All of the dishes are around the $3 mark, with the most expensive being $3.50 (I think). They also had many unfamiliar dishes, which I always find fun to try.

Seaweed Salad Sushi
I had warned my friends that I was to photograph their food. However, I still managed to miss the first dish. By the time I noticed, my friend had already finished half of it.....

Fried Mussels

A lover of fried foods, I decided to try this, just for the fun of trying something new (to be honest, I had no idea what this was until I looked at the menu). My friend warned me that it didn't taste good- I should have listened. You see, I forgot one very important thing when eating at sushi trains- the fried foods have steam on their covers when they're hot. The lid to this dish? Was clear. Absolutely no water vapour at all. Consequently, the mussels were cold (no, not even warm) and hard. Yes. Hard.

Terriyaki Sushi
It took my friend about 10 minutes before picking her first dish. Because she sat there, intent on getting a plate of terriyaki sushi. It took ten minutes to find one, and there weren't any after that. How lucky!
The sushi was quite large in size (compared to the other sushi) and not too bad for the price. It also took a LONG time for my friend to finish, and it was very very messy. Nevertheless, we had a very fun time photographing and videoing her eat the sushi (which was too large to fit in the mouth at once) with chopsticks (let's just say, her chopstick skills were, errr....non existent =P)
From what I heard though, the sushi was quite delicious. But then again, terriyaki will always please =] It did however, leave my friend feeling very full- so full that she was contemplating whether or not to get a second dish.
Fried Prawn Inside Out Roll

After the not so great experience with the fried mussels, I decided to try another of their fried dishes- this time, making sure that the lid was covered in water vapour. This however, did not ensure that the fried prawns were hot- they were still warm but not as hot as I had expected. Nevertheless, they were crunchy and the fried prawns with lettuce and mayonnaise was a nice combination.

Seafood Croquettes

Recommended by my friend, they decided to order on each, me skipping out because I'd already eaten two dishes. Although I did not know if they were hot they were(although I suspect they weren't) , they must have tasted good becuase it's something that my friend orders each time she comes here. They didn't look too bad either!

Japanese Cotton Cheesecake
A meal is never complete without something sweet, and this japanese cotton cheesecake was the perfect way to finish this one. I've never had dessert at a sushi train, mainly because I've never been to one with dessert (no, fruit does no count). So I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was japanese cotton cheesecake on offer- something which I'd always wanted to try. It was really good- it tasted like a cheesecake, only with a texture like a sponge cake (although slightly less airy than a normal sponge cake).

J.J Sushi
3/188 Church St
Parramatta NSW 2150
(02) 9891 1399

Thursday, February 4, 2010

All you can eat Japanese food.....

If you've ever read the 50 or so reviews of Kansai on eatability, you'll notice that they're very varied. Many have said that they've had good experiences, many say they've had terrible. Lucky for me, every time we've been here, it's been brilliant even though the food is often inconsistent- not so much in quality, but in what you actually get.

The dinner all-you-can-eat offer is $38 a head-which is about the most our family will ever spend on dinner (we usually come here for our birthdays). There's also another option of $28 per head, which excludes the hot pot and sashimi boats, but it's not as fun! They give you their usual menu and you can order whatever you want. Which is great because unlike buffets, you not have to get up (haha....we're so lazy) and the food is also hot and freshly made!

Sashimi Salad

The sashimi salad is great- it's one of our favourties which we order everytime. You can't really see in the picture, but they give a generous amount of sashimi with the vegetables- usually salmon, tuna and kingfish. But what makes this so good is the dressing- it's a special japanese salad dressing which tastes slightly like soy sauce, only ten times better!

The sashimi salad is so good that we re-order it. The second one is much larger than the first- see what I mean about the inconsistency? haha. But it tasted the same.... which is all that matters =]


The gyozas are pretty good. Although you order from a menu, they let you choose how much you want of everything- we order 8 pieces for the four of us. They're pretty good, and they all get eaten quickly (as they taste better when hot) but they're not the best I've ever had.

Terriyaki Eel

The eels are delicious! Covered in the special terriyaki sauce, it tastes slightly different from the ones you buy from asian supermarkets- only better! You can order it with or without rice (personally, I think it tastes better with rice) but we order it without, since the hand rolls have plenty of rice in them already! And since this is an all you can eat- you don't want to fill yourself up with too much rice!

Salmon Roe Sushi
I'd only ever had salmon roe once, and that was quite a while ago so I'd forgotten what it tasted like. These salmon eggs remind me of nemo....which makes me feel slightly bad eating them. When you bite into it, each egg quirts out the liquid inside, which tastes rather like salty water. We each take a bite and then leave the rest for my dad, the only one who likes these.

Soft Shell Crab Hand Roll

This is another one of our favourites at Kansai. The first time we ordered it, we were dissappointed in the size of the crab, compared to the amountof rice in the hand roll. But being freshly fried, the soft shell crab is very crispy and tastes great with the mayo and the rice. We leave the rest of the rice to eat with the eel!

Salmon and Avocado hand roll
My sister orders this- I'd much rather have the soft shell crab! Again, there is a large amount of rice compared to the amount of filling but my sister loves it!

Terriyaki Salmon

This was the first time we ordered this, so we only ordered two pieces. It's a good thing we did too- it looks nothing like what it did on the menu. Notice how one piece is like 5 times the size of the other? haha. The salmon is overcooked- it didn't have the nice, soft texture you would expect of salmon- instead the texture is rather like that of chicken. The sauce is supposed to be teriyaki but just looking at the colour, it was obvious that it didn't really taste like it. We were therefore, very dissappointed in the dish.
Prawn and Vegetable Tempura

The tempura is the best! Like the gyozas, you can specify how many pieces you want and you also have the choice of prawn and vegetable. The first time we ordered, we were wondering why they didn't ask us WHAT vegetables we wanted but then it came and we realised that they don't fry pieces of specific vegetables but vegetables all shredded and mixed together. And it tastes so good! Mainly because, apart from the normal vegetables like carrots, it has a LOT of onions (I'm an onion lover!) The prawn tempura is also good- if the vegetable tempura is already so good, what can go wrong with the prawns? The tempura is freshly fried and is therefore very crunchy, and comes with a tempura dipping sauce, which is like light soy sauce. Needless to say, we re-order this a lot of times.
We try a couple of the sushi- the more unusual ones of course. We order tobiko, after looking at it on the menu and wondering what it was (we asked the waiter) and then found out that it was the normal orange fish egg-like things. We also order the scampi, as I had no idea what it was (well my dad told me is was raw prawn and since I'd never tried it before I might as well try right?). It wasn't as cold as it probably should have been (sashimi is supposed to be cold right?) and so it was kinda disturbing and scampi tastes really weird! It's kinda like the texture of most sashimi only it's a bit goo-ey. It wasn't all that great. Lastly there was the...umm...kingfish? I don't really remember (since I didn't eat it!)

The first sashimi 'boat' we ordered was not actually a boat but a bridge.....
Today there are three types of sashimi- tuna, salmon and kingfish. Sure, it doesn't look as pretty as other sashimi boats I've seen but as always the sashimi on the boat is fresh and cold (unlike the scampi...*shudder*) and tastes great! Once, we got a boat with only salmon and tuna though......

And then we order another one. And this time it was actually a boat!
For some reason, this boat was smaller than the first one (in terms of the number of pieces of sashimi)- we were sure we'd ordered large again! But oh well.
Teriyaki beef

This is much more like teriyaki then the salmon was. The beef is nice and tender. It's nice to have something diffferent, something not seafoody.

Lastly, there's the seafood hot pot. It doesn't look like much- the first time we came here, we didn't order it because it seemed like a huge pot of udon noodles. Besides, eating everything else makes you too full to order a huge hot pot. But out of curiosity, we ordered one on another visit and it was so good, we order it everytime!

There are three choices of hot pot on the menu, seafood being the most expensive option. You get a choice of either a miso or chilli broth. Since us kids can't really stand hot foods, we always go with the miso. What you get inside the hot pot really depends on the day- but there's usually a couple of mussels, prawns, and a huge octopus which then shrinks to normal cooked octopus size after is cooked. It's really cool to watch the octopus shrink! On this occasion, there was also soft shelled crab- but it seemed like so much of a waste as it didn't taste all that great in soup. There's always salmon fish heads underneath the udon, which make the broth taste seafoody (in a good way though). We usually drink a lot of the miso, instead of ordering miso soup. After eating a lot of sashimi, and other foods, it's always nice to have something warm!
At $22.50 a head (normal price), just the hot pot and the two sashimi boats we ate before (normally $58 each) add up to more than what we pay for our bill!
Kansai Japanese Restaurant
Hunter ConnectionBasement,
Shop B1, 7 Hunter St
Phone (02) 9231 5544

Kansai on Urbanspoon
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