Friday, August 31, 2012

Phat Brats 'Dogustation'

Disclaimer: I was invited to nom complimentary at the Phat Brats Dogustation

Couple weeks back, if you follow me on twitter, you may have observed myself, and a couple of other bloggers, tweeting rather mouth watering photos of hotdogs all night. 

The event was 'Dogustation', where Phat Brats treated us to a selection of some of their best gourmet dogs. Paired with beer. The epitome of urban fanciness hey?

Phat Brats is a chilled out little spot, no-fuss, no-muss, but honest, wholesome gourmet hot dogs, in a very befitting location on Brunswick Street. 

It was an awesomely fun night, the cosy little store was packed out with people, despite how cold it was that night, and the night started with corn pups with the house tomato sauce and mustard. I absolutely adored how novel these were! It was so much fun to eat them like a lollipop! 

Next up was a beer soaked bratwurst with house BBQ sauce, pulled pork and appleslaw. Not just one protein…two? Sign me up buddy! It was well seasoned and the apples made for a nice refreshing change.

It's easy to think that with hot dogs (like burgers) that it's all about the meat. But at Phat Brats, they do cater to the vegetarians…and pretty well if I do say so myself! They had both the vegetarian options out on offer, the first of which was the black bean, lentil and veg 'sausage' with rawslaw, beetroot salsa, cheese sauce and a green pickle relish. I missed actually eating this one, but my mouth was just watering looking at the beetroot relish run over other people's fingers. So much jelly. 

But it's alright! I at least managed to get my hands on the superfood dog, with a 'sausage' made of sweet potato, quinoa and tamarind, with a chilli lime mayo, minted peas, alfalfa, coriander and sour cream. Phew! The toppings keep coming! Whilst it's no beef sausage, it was still incredibly tasty, it just didn't quite have the texture that you're used to getting in meat, but that's not really anybody's fault here. We did find the toppings a little bit awkward to get our mouths around, but other than that, it's great to see that the vegetarian aren't forgotten in a cuisine (can hotdogs be counted as their own cuisine now?) which is very meat orientated. 

One of my favourite hot dogs of the night was up next…a lamb and rosemary sausage with rawslaw, house gravy, smashed minted peas and fetta cheese. 

It seems everybody couldn't wait to get their hands on it and the chopping boards of dogs were gone almost as soon as they left the kitchen! The peas were perfect with the savoury, juicy lamb which was seasoned just right. 

I unfortunately did not try a whole of beers that night, by Southern Bay Brew Co, as someone near me had started drinking the beer we were supposed to be having at the end night by the bottle, much earlier on in the night, commented on how amazing it was and promptly went to go get me a bottle when I had expressed my interest. It was the Metal Head robust porter…which well, was a beautiful beer. Rich, heavy, and just luscious in the mouth, it was indeed very robust. And c'mon, with a label like that, what's not to love? 

A traditional degustation would never be complete without dessert….so why should a 'dogustation' be any different? It wasn't. 

Our last 'course' of the night was a hotdog sundae with double chocolate ice cream, toasted coconut, berry coulis, whipped cream and smashed pistachios. Oh. My. God. 

We were all wondering at first if they used a regular savoury bun, or what they would use in place of it otherwise…we very soon (and happily) found out that the buns had been replaced by doughnuts. Yes. Chocolate ice-cream in doughnuts. With whipped cream. With berries. With nuts. I was very, very tempted to munch down on two of these, but I was unfortunately a little bit full from the other four hot dogs I had had already…if your'e not a sweet tooth, this probably wouldn't be your thing...but if you're a bit of a sugarholic like me...well...don't come here. I'm having them all. So there!

I guess the only thing I was mildly disappointed with this evening, was that we didn't get to try any chips. I dunno, it just seems like it would have been the perfect thing to have with hot dogs and beer. You feel me? But regardless, everything we did have was indeed, honest, homely and well seasoned, but with a twist of fanciness. And I guess, to be completely honest, I'm quite glad we didn't have more to eat as I was quite stuffed indeed (and what food lover ever likes to admit they can't eat more…)! 

320 Brunswick Street

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bangkok - MOS Burger, Coco Ichibanya, Route 66

What were we up to now…? Day 6 in Bangkok or something? Who knows, who cares, it was holiday time, when you're supposed to lose track of time and be lost in the bliss of doing whatever the hell you want. God vacations are good. 

On day whatever it was, Brad and I decided to take a lazy day and not venture much further than across the road to Terminal 21. 

As mentioned in an earlier post, Terminal 21 is a pretty new mall in Bangkok, it's right next to the Asok BTS station and is kind of 'airport' themed, with each level being themed after a different country. I guess in a country…continent even, with so many malls, you've got to find a way to stand out, it is quite fun though, there's even a San Francisco level with a mini Golden Gate bridge. Pretty cute yo…

Brad's really not big on shopping. At all. Typical guy's guy, the sort to only shop when he needs something practical. Unless it's a bass, he has a tendency to bid on bass's on eBay and end up 'accidentally' winning them. Suuuure buddy! 

However, on this particular day, I must have gotten Brad on the right side of the bed as we ran around the London floor of Terminal 21 and got quite a bit of shopping done! Cheap converse's, funky t-shirts and some nice collared shirts, we got a bit of everything really!

With so much shopping being done, we needed to supplement ourselves eventually!

So we swung by into MOS Burger in the basement level. 

So I know MOS Burger is from Japan, and that they're super popular…although I don't really know why. I'm not as in tune with the burger scene as some people are…but when @NatStockley was in Bangkok last, he did send me a tweet to tell me to check it out when I was over…so who am I not to pop by? 

It looks very Japanese. It's clean, it's brightly saturated colours and beautiful looking burger pictures. 

I was excited though. RICE BURGERS. RICE BURGERS. THEY HAD RICE BURGERS. Someone loves me and my gluten intolerant tummy (although I tend to be a bit more naughty than I used to these days anyway…). 

I got the yakiniku rice burger which was really quite delicious. It was absolutely boiling hot, I'm pretty sure in my eagerness to have sticky rice and marinated beef goodness in my mouth, that I burned my mouth, so I do recommend just uh, letting it sit for a bit. Like smart people would. 

It was tasty though, the rice 'bun' held together really well and I absolutely loved the kind of crispy char around the outside. Pair that with deliciously seasoned beef and you can't go too wrong!

I can't quite remember what Brad had, but what I did love about our two burgers in general was the size. They were quite cheap and sure, small, probably about half the size of a Grill'd burger, but just enough to have something in the tummy and continue on power shopping. Or have with chips and onion rings. Oh yeaaaah.

At some point in the afternoon, I found a frozen yoghurt store that had a Thai iced tea frozen yoghurt flavour. THAI ICED TEA FLAVOUR. So much happy. So much. We sat on the top floor of Terminal 21, where the movie cinemas were, by the window and chilled out for a bit while Brad had coffee and I had THAI ICED TEA FLAVOURED FROZEN YOGHURT. Life was good. Shopping is tiring y'know. 

Being epically lazy, we ended up back at Terminal 21 for dinner as well. As much as I do love Thai food, I am happy to mix it up a little bit as well, so this particular day happened to be almost entirely free of Thai food, Thai iced tea flavoured frozen yoghurt kinda counts right?  

When we were on the San Francisco floor, we happened to walk by Coco Ichibanya and were seduced by the warm, comforting flavour of Japanese curry. Like, no kidding. I was astounded at how good it smelt! It's never smelt this good back in Melbourne! 

I love a good Japanese curry, there's something so satisfying about mixing a deliciously savoury thick gravy into rice and turning the rice into the most amazing rice you may have ever eaten. At Coco Ichibanya, I absolutely loved the customisation that they afforded you, it was almost like being at Grill'd or Subway! 

You could have more rice, less rice, added vegetables, extra protein and varying degrees of spiciness. Where are these options back at home?! 

Ah, so good. Really, full of flavour, spicy and thick. To me, the best Japanese curry is still with beef, I'm not so into chicken katsu, and to make myself feel mildly healthy, I added some corn on top. Which was a bit cold, but by the time you mixed it into the curry and rice it warmed up anyway! 

After dinner, we decided we would go check out some of the local partying scene, Brad having done a little bit of reading and keen on seeing a different side to Bangkok's partying and drinking scene. Sure, Bangkok's well known for it's sex shows and go go bars…but we're not really interested in that. 

So we both dolled up (maybe me a little more so than I do miss my pink hair) and grabbed a cab down to Royal City Avenue, which is one of Bangkok's largest entertainment and clubbing areas. It was only about a 10 minute drive from where we were staying, which made it super convenient for us!

It's pretty crazy when you get there, it's uh, loud, to say the least, with super sized clubs lined up one after the other. We decided to walk past Slim, which was the one closest to where we got dropped off, and strolled our way into Route 66. 

There was an entry fee for foreigners to get in, but this entry fee goes to drink vouchers…so there's no real extra cost to getting in, unless you don't plan on drinking. And you're in Thailand. Why the heck wouldn't you be?!

Compared to Pat Pong, the energy in Route 66 was so much more fun. Royal Avenue City generally attracts the local university crowd, with hardly a caucasian or tourist in sight. 

Route 66 had two areas, one side had live music and the other side had all your club anthems and R&B going on. Both had inside and outside areas, the tables outside making for a nice reprieve from the crowds and noise. 

All in all, it was quite an excellent night, we both got a bit drunk, danced a bit (yes the to-be-doctor does dance if he's had enough booze) and had a good time. 

Just be wary catching a taxi home, they will try to rip you off a bit. Normally I'm not so good at bargaining. But I was drunk. And I'm a happy noisy drunk. The conversation went as such. 

"Where you going?"
"Asok BTS"
"200 bah..."
"Aiyaah….! 150…baht?"

In my drunken stupor I ended up giving 150 anyway…but there's always that satisfaction of winning the negotiations right…? 

Terminal 21

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Route 66
Bang Kapi, Huai Khwang
Bangkok 10310

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Hanoi Hannah

So Monday nights right. I always figured people probably wouldn't go out as much on a Monday night, cause you know, the weekend would have just happened and money saving has to happen on the odd occasion. Or in my case it should definitely happen a lot more, but I blame it all on the shoes, and their cow-hidey, high heel sexiness…it's not my fault!


So Monday nights right. 

Caryn and I decided to meet up for dinner, because we hadn't seen each other in ages (as always), and we thought we would make our way to Hanoi Hannah to check out the little hotspot. 

Oh lord. 6:30pm and the place was pumping already! Phew. Since I arrived first, they wouldn't seat me until Caryn arrived as well. So I perched myself at the bar. 

And although I had told myself earlier that I wasn't going to have any alcohol, as I had been drinking fairly heartily the week prior…well…it's a Hendricks iced tea with aloe vera foam. How the heck am I going to say no?

Just one's alright isn't it? Maybe? Definitely! 

Just yummy really, the aloe vera foam was certainly a fun element and I loved what it added to the flavour. Really, really refreshing, this would be so perfect in summer it's not even funny!

Hanoi Hannah is a tiny little space, and kind of feels like someone took an abandoned house and just decided to install a shiny new bar in the middle of it. It's kinda cute and kinda rustic feeling, with a little Asian flair in the decor. 

Caryn eventually showed up and I hopped around trying to find someone's attention, to see if it was possible to be seated at a table anywhere. I was quite cooly told no but that they would see what freed up (yeah right buddy), but fortunately another stool freed up at the bar and so we stayed there. No thanks to you Chapel Street hipster staff! (That wasn't too mean was it? Oh well!)

We had wanted the balalot but they did not have it this fine Monday night. Le sigh! So pork belly sliders it was! Looking all cute and perfectly pokeable, the bread we loved, and although the pork was seasoned well, it was quite dry. Maybe the crispy tofu sliders would be the way to go next time? 

Whenever Caryn and I eat out, I'm always amazed how much food we seem to be able to go through between the two of us…and tonight was no exception! Our plates are always wiped clean as food wasted!

Salt and pepper dusted school prawns with a 'vietnamese' salsa were next up. We were always both suckers for these little goodies. And we weren't let down, light, crisp and tasty, these went down like popcorn!

We both oohed over the 5 spice quail, which was sticky and sweet, and the sort of thing that you would eat with your hands and then lick your fingers clean later. Maybe a touch dry, but hardly noticeable and still quite enjoyable. 

I think the crispy soft shell crab was one of our highlights, another which we ate with our hands, so uncouth are we! 

And of course to finish, we had to try out their msg free beef pho, what visit to a Vietnamese restaurant would be complete without? Hanoi Hannha kindly split the serve into two smaller bowls for Caryn and I, so we could avoid a messy sharing process! 

I'm personally no expert on pho, but I generally enjoyed the flavour, the noodles were perfect for slurping, the beef tender. My only real complaint was that it was served warm. When I have soup, or a soup noodle type of dish, I like my soup to be piping hot and steaming away which is what was lacking here. What a shame. If they could serve it piping hot, for $10, I think it's a fairly decent feed, especially for being so close to Chapel Street! 

Although we had a slightly bumpy start, in trying to get a table, our night was soon filled with laughter, giggles and gossip. Hanoi Hannah was a fun, and fairly affordable little spot (surprisingly) for us to catch up. The food was easy to nibble, with some hits and some misses. Service was also much friendly and attentive once we were seated and ordering food. If only it wasn't so hard to get a darned table…! Get here early folks!

Hanoi Hannah
180 High Street 
WindsorVIC 3181

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Studley Park Boathouse

I've been told that I've gotten to the point where my social life has gotten too dense. And in a way I guess they're right. I'm quite social as is and probably go out a little bit too frequently, but I still struggle to find time for my long suffering friends. It gets so easy to just forget to send a message out every now and again y'know?

But I suppose then, it just makes the moments with those friends even more enjoyable when you have them. 

David suggested we go pop by Studley Park Boathouse cafe for lunch one day during the week. Considering my close proximity to Studley Park, I'm a little bit surprised I hadn't actually gone before!

It was a lovely winter day, with the sun in full blast, so my parents decided to bring Chai out for a walk as well. Ah, he was so tempted to chase after the ducks and geese…cheeky little fella!

So at Studley Park Boathouse, there's the kiosk for your cheap and easy pasties and what not, the formal fine-dining restaurant, which wasn't open this day and the cafe, which sits somewhere between the kiosk and restaurant in terms of fanciness.  

The staff were very friendly at the cafe, all smiles and chit chat, they made sure I was well looked after while still waiting for David. 

My soy chai was enjoyable, smooth, sweet, with a bit of spice.

I do love David, when we catch up we always tend to act like old housewives and gossip about what everyone has been up to. We 'tut-tut' over some, 'good for him' for others. We spent so long catching up that it took us quite a while to actually order anything….

David went with the confit duck on mushroom risotto, which was just a treat. Intensely aromatic with a hearty, comforting smell, the duck was well cooked, not too dry at all and the risotto, whilst maybe a little wetter and saucier than I'm used to, was pretty moreish! 

I went with something a bit lighter, and got the salt and pepper calamari. I enjoyed that it was only lightly battered, and had a nice texture to it. There was also a little bit of a spicy bite to it which was quite enjoyable as well. 

But whatever 'lightness' and 'healthiness' I gained from forfeiting a heavier meal for a lighter one, I think I lost once we ordered dessert. Of course there's dessert. This is David and I we're talking about! 

A delicious apple and berry (I think)  crumble, with a healthy squeeze of whipped cream and for just $2, a ginormous serve of ice-cream on the side. Crumble really does make for a fantastic autumn/winter dessert. There's just something warming about having baked berries and apples, in a crumbly tart. Yes. Life is good.

Whilst probably not breaking any revolutionary ground in cooking and cuisine, Studley Park Boathouse offers comforting and friendly food. 

1 Boathouse Road
Kew Vic 3101

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