With the current economy condition, Gan and I have decided to dine more at "recession friendly" restaurants, with only occasional splurges here and there. We have been making trips to Flushing/Queens for good cheap eats, cooking more at home and taking advantage of events such as the Hari Raya (Eid) Bazaar at the Consulate General of Malaysia to get good food at cheaper price.The Consulate General of Malaysia hosts this event as part of the Eid celebration every year and seems like the event is getting more popular since people are finding out that this is perhaps the only place/event where they can buy truly awesome home-cooked Malay food.
It wasn't our first time attending the bazaar last weekend, but it was the first time we arrived early enough to buy the food before they were sold out. The event started at 1pm, and by 3pm, the place was packed with people who were there for just one reason - food. There were nasi lemak, satay, lontong, rendang, mee rebus, mee johor, pulut hitam, kuih keria, teh tarik etc. The table that sold nasi lemak and satay were the most popular, with people were lining up for at least half and hour just to buy nasi lemak/satay.
It was definitely a fun event for us; aside from getting to taste awesome food, we also got to meet new people and hung out with friends. The bazaar is definitely an event not to be missed, so try and go there next year if you can. I just wished I have asked for the sellers' contact numbers so that I can get some home-cooked Malay food to satisfy my cravings for the next 12 months!
Address: 94 Christopher Street, New York
I have never tasted Cuban food before coming to New York, and I doubt that there are good ones (if any) in Malaysia. But I have became a big fan of the cuisine ever since I tasted it for the first time at Sophie's downtown, a very popular Cuban lunch place in Wall Street area. After that, my quest for good Cuban food had brought me to Cafe Habana, Cafecito, La Isla (Hoboken), Havana Alma de Cuba etc. Although I really like going to Havana Alma De Cuba, just because the people are really nice, the food is good and the sangria is awesome.
If you do go there, make sure you try the grilled skirt steak with chimichurri sauce (Churrasco Con Chimichurri) - medium rare , shrimp in creole sauce (Camarones Enchilados) and Tamal Cubano. I like to order the white wine sangria there too, although depending on who makes the drinks, your sangria might taste more like fruit juice than wine, sometimes. The restaurant has a nice dining room at the back and a cute garden seating area, an ideal place for small parties or romantic candlelit dinner with your date ;)
Address: 167 Lygon Street, Carlton, Victoria, Australia
I was helping my sister Alyssa check out wedding favors online when I discovered that there is no GODIVA store in Australia, at all. First thing that came to my mind was, how is that possible? Not that Godiva chocolate is the best in the world, but they have shops almost everywhere. After visited Koko Black café at Melbourne’s Lygon Street, I understood why. There is no need for a Godiva store in Australia.
Koko Black is a local gourmet chocolate boutique/cafe that started in Melbourne. The one we went in Lygon Street sells everything that were made from cocoa – chocolates, hot chocolate, ice chocolate, chocolate ice cream, chocolate liqueur....you name it. There are other chocolate stores in Australia (most of them boutiques rather than chain stores), but nothing really caught my attention. What differentiates Koko Black from others is perhaps its commitment to world-class chocolate experience – from product quality/creativity to packaging to services, they aim to be the best. Koko Black is still currently a local Melbourne store, but it will not be long before they expand and succeed in Australia and in other countries.
Alyssa and Vince (her hubby) brought us to Koko Black twice, and I was totally addicted to their delicious hot chocolate. A perfect drink for chilly evenings in Melbourne. Just wished that they would let me take pictures of its wonderfully decorated interior so that I can share it with everyone else. Anyhow, this is a must try in Melbourne if you do go there.
Address: 20 Campbell St, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Phone: 61 2 9211 1808
We wanted to have dinner at Siam I am initially, since I read that the restaurant is considered the best Thai restaurant in Australia. Unfortunately, it was closed on the day we went there, so our friend Kris, who lives in Sydney, brought us to another Thai restaurant around the corner call Chat Thai instead. We could see a crowd gathering outside of the restaurant as we were approaching it, which is always a good sign. We joined the waiting crowd and waited for about forty minutes before we were seated.
The food at Chat Thai was good, slightly more authentic than the food served at most of the Thai restaurants in NYC (except Sriprapai of course). We ordered pad grapow (minced meat with basil and chilli), panang chicken (red curry), beef satay and a tamarind soup. We really liked the pad grapow, in fact it was the best I have ever eaten, but the tamarind soup tasted a little funky, even for me. I was very excited when I found out that they also served mango with sticky rice dessert. In case you haven't heard, mango with sticky rice is one of my favorite desserts, ever since I tried it in Phuket. It was totally to die for!
Chat Thai was worth the wait. Thanks again Kris for meeting up with us and bringing us there!
my glass of Thai ice tea
BBQ Beef + awesome dipping sauce
Address: 320 Racecourse Rd, Flemington, VIC, Australia
Phone: 61 3 9372 6383
Laksa King was the first restaurant we checked out in Melbourne. I specially requested my sister to bring us there because we were quite deprived of good Laksa Lemak here in NYC. Laksa Lemak, just in case you do not know, is a Malaysian style curry noodle soup (with coconut milk). To me, it is best darn curry noodles soup ever created.
The Laksa Lemak in Laksa King was actually pretty good. We liked that the restaurant served real, bloody cockles with the noodles soup, just like how we have it in Malaysia. (Bloodiness may sound nasty, but it's actually really good). We thought the curry broth was slightly heavy; we were more used to the lighter curry broth back home. I also ordered a bowl of fish head noodles soup. The fish broth was so milky, delicious and comforting, I drank all the soup instead of eating the vermicelli.
It was lunch time when we ate at Laksa King and I noticed there weren't many people, given the restaurant's popularity. But I was told by my sister that the restaurant usually gets really busy during dinner time and there'll be long wait for tables. So good thing we went there for lunch. Thanks again Alyssa and Vince for bringing us there!
ice grass jelly drink
Address: 359 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW, Australia
Phone: 61 2 9360 4762
We wanted to check out another restaurant for breakfast after arriving in Sydney, but a couple detours later (road closing because of the Sydney Marathon), we discovered Bills at Surry Hills. Since I have read some pretty good reviews on the restaurant before going to Australia, I convinced Gan to stop by Bills for breakfast.
Apparently Bills is a restaurant named after the owner Bill Granger, a Melbourne born food writer who moved to Sydney and ended up opening his own restaurants there. For a person who is not trained as a chef, he is doing pretty good. He owns two other Bills restaurants in NSW area. He also has a cookbook and he also appears frequently on tv/magazines. But I don't see what's the big deal though, the food was just ok.
Since we were there for breakfast, the menu focused on healthy and organic ingredients ie. sunrise drink of orange, banana, yogurt and berries, ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter, sweetcorn fritters with roast tomato, spinach and bacon, scrambled organic eggs with organic sourdough toasts etc. Yea, the ingredients were fresh but it was not worth the price. That was one of the more expensive breakfast that I have had, the bill came up to 58 bucks. Honestly, it was not even as good as Norma's in NYC.