Wednesday, 30 July 2008


I think this is the first post of something home-made :)

It all began during the brief 2-week holidays...there was a potluck for a friend's going away party, and I decided to bake a cheesecake (because that was the only thing I ever baked)...thought that would help to de-stress post-exams! Following that, I baked a couple more cheesecakes (with San on one occasion) and couldn't stop looking at cake recipes online.

Before long, I came across this great cupcake blog called Cupcake Bakeshop. Chockylit (who owns the blog) is just so creative with her combination of flavours and as importantly, presentation of her cupcakes. I was hooked after a quick scan and couldn't stop stalking her blog!! I read recipe after recipe, and just really wanted to try them out.

One fine day, I decided to take action and started my cupcake adventure with her chocolate ganache + fresh strawberries cupcakes. Hence, I went out, shopped, came home and baked. I left the buttercream frosting out because 1. I got too tired :P & 2. I reckon it would be too sweet for my liking

Just a small batch as an experiment :

was not happy with the cupcake went out and got new ones the next on! :)

Verdict : not too bad except I perhaps burnt the cakes a bit.

I continued reading her blog and a cupcake that combines chocolate, red bean & green tea caught my eye. I love this combination! (e.g. green tea + red bean bun from bread top) and Chockylit is a genius!! :) This time round, I took photos as I worked...just thought I'll share some of them!

Some things I needed :

And now putting them together...

Batter :

beat butter and sugar together

mix the dry ingredients together (flour & all the powders)

add dry ingredients & wet ingredients (milk+vanilla essence) to butter+sugar mixture = batter completed!!

Red bean filling :

...after boiling the red beans for >1 hour (till soft)

bean puree...not the most appetising photo :)

cook the bean puree with some oil & sugar...doesn't look too good but yummy even at this stage :)

Then putting it all together...

one spoon of batter and sit a ball of red bean paste on top

top it up with enough batter to make the cup about 2/3 full

bake away...

out of the oven and cool...

top with green tea frosting + sprinkle some green tea powder :)

a 2nd batch I baked...made over 25 of them...

and a look inside :)

For a potluck, I made a huge batch of the chocolate ganache ones...the ganache was much lighter in colour because I did not have enough chocolate...haha. Hence, I made some alterations to the ganache recipe for frosting, to make it less runny. Worked pretty well actually...! But I forgot what I did exactly :P Definitely added some butter and icing sugar. Anyway, some photos!

fresh out of the oven

cut a cone-shaped bit out and fill the cupcake with chocolate ganache + fresh strawberries (diced)

cover the filling with the 'lid' :)

...and finally, top with frosting & half a strawberry (found it was difficult for a whole strawberry (especially since the ones in Melbourne are quite a decent size) to sit well on top of the cupcake) coated with chocolate

the lot :)

Weee!! I am on a cupcake-high! I made another batch since then - chocolate, banana, peanut butter combo (I love all these things!!) The red bean/green tea ones are a huge hit...very popular among my 'guinea pigs' :)

Once again, the recipes are from Cupcake Bakeshop. I don't claim any credit for these amazingly creative recipes :) I am totally in love with her blog and I read her recipes for fun. I know...I'm going mad. I just want to share the fun I had baking with everyone, and if you too like baking, perhaps you would enjoy trying out some of her 80+ cupcake recipes.

P.S. the reason I like cupcakes is because...they are so pretty!


Sunday, 20 July 2008

Ma Brown Restaurant

Mouse is back on da blog (block)!

Thanks to my MM sister for up-keeping the blog for the past week while I regain my interest and love for blogging all things food! ^^ I certainly hope I am back to stay for a while - have been taking photos of food for the past few days! Hohoho.

Tonight's post features Ma Brown, a Chinese-Malaysian restaurant tucked away at Balwyn. It's a restaurant that you can't get to by public transport - need to drive, and thanks to San, we were all driven there this evening for the FOOD. We do love Ma Brown food, but it's so out of reach, we don't go there often.

Anyway, it's best that you call to reserve a seat AND food if you're planning on dining there, otherwise, it could be like a 2-hour wait. Slight exaggeration, but very slight. :D

Ma Brown's signature dish is...Spicy Quail. This is the dish that most people equate Ma Brown with and it is, to me and to everyone else - A MUST TRY.

YAAAAY QUAIL! (2 pieces = 1 quail)

Drooling yet? :P

The quail is really fantastic. The meat is juicy and tender and the sauce is yummy, spicy and fragrant. A bite of quail meat and the sauce with bits of chili is seriously yummy for the tummy. San thinks the quail is 'finger licking' and MM says it's 'good good' and also, she does not recommend licking your fingers because of germs.

By the way, I should mention that Alf is so in love with the quail that he could probably marry it or something. That's how good it is.

Another of my personal favorite is the Ma Po Tofu - an ordinary sort of dish by Chinese restaurant standards, but I like Ma Brown's variation.

Tofu in a dish

Their sauce is tangy and spicy, mixed with minced meat, mushrooms and mixed vegetables. They used button mushrooms for the dish, so I really like the big-ish bites of mushrooms with the soft tofu. It's really great when it's all hot and piping.

Alf also ordered another of their signatures, Beef Rendang.

Beef Rendang with beef

I really like the beef in the rendang - it's tender and soft and really well-cooked to complement the rendang sauce. I think their rendang is home-made and it's different from any other rendang I've tried before in Melbourne. I do think it could be more...hmmm...maybe a little bit more spicy? It could be more flavourful in my opinion, but I do like it. MM thinks it's ordinary though and San likes it.

For veggies, we had Stirfry Eggplant.

Eggplant: Blurry

Eggplant: Not so blurry closeup

Apologies for the blurry picture, didn't manage to get a good one. As far as eggplant goes, and I am not a big fan, thumbs up from me. Again their sauce is superior than most which makes the dish good. The eggplant is well-cooked in my opinion, and it's neither too mushy or too tough.

We also had Steamed Fish.

Fishy fish fish

Nothing super special about the way the fish is prepared but it is very good and very fresh fish - the fish meat is tender and soft. Yummy! I am a huge fan of steamed fish, though. :P

Overall, a good foodie experience - don't expect top service though. Because they are extremely busy and extremely understaffed, you may need a lot of patience for service. Or you could do what we did and helped ourselves to certain things like cutlery and napkins, or physically take the teapot to the counter for a tea refill. Haha. Make sure you have marginally a lot of time to spare for dinner at Ma Brown - definitely not somewhere for a quick meal.

The whole meal cost us approximately $AUD143.50, for 7 people. :)

But for the quail - it's worth the wait. Really. And remember - call to order how many quails you'll like, beforehand! For the record, the picture above shows 8 quails.

- Mouse (who is backkkk!)

p.s. check out MM sis's best of Hong Kong post below mine!


Ma Brown Restaurant
Shop 6, 188-190 Belmore Road
Balwyn 3103
Phone: (03) 9816 3755

Saturday, 19 July 2008

The best of HK...

...some of them, in my (and my friends') humble opinion(s) :)

Actually, it is because I have a few things from HK I would like to share still, and I decided to lump them all under one post.

Street Food

Frankly I didn't have enough street food (so many more I would have loved to try...but I wasn't feeling very well for that whole month, too much to eat, too little time) but here are a (very) few...including the HK must-try ---> smelly tofu!!

this is the one on 'goldfish street' in Mongkok...literally...lined with shop after shop selling fishes (plenty of goldfish)...and you will be able to smell this stall from far away :)

a closer look...before adding the sauces

Despite smelling quite bad from far away (like a rubbish dump)...the smell got less bad nearer (maybe it is just me)...and after coating the tofu with different sauces (don't know what they were...probably chilli & sweet sauce), I thought it tasted quite GOOD...haha. A layer of crispy skin, soft on the inside that melts in the mouth. Definitely wouldn't mind having it again! Haven't tried it anywhere it could be the stall that is good...which is the famous one, apparently.

Another famous street food stall we visited was the one somewhere between Jordan and Tsim Sha Tsui (TST). This one is famous for 雞蛋仔 ('gai dan zai' in cantonese)...which is something I would describe as something sweet made with flour cooked into oval-ish shapes - crispy on the outside and pancake like on the inside.

a lot of newspaper clippings with famous HK stars!! must be IS a well-known stall, really

the 'gai dan zai'...really good actually!

the same stall also sells other types of street food...and we did have the curry fishballs as well (another typical HK street food...always being mentioned in TVB dramas :)) which were the BEST ones I had in HK...the texture was just right...yum!

And something I always enjoy on a cold winter night (or day for that matter)...warm roasted sweet potatoes!! Sooo good :)

the colours are so pretty as well!

both were sweet and lovely...but I prefer the purple ones

Egg tarts

Another HK trademark food. I am personally not a fan of egg tarts but for people who like them...HK is an egg tart heaven. After talking to the locals, these are 2 places recommended for the best egg tarts.

somewhere in Mongkok...we had a hard time finding is under some pedestrian bridge (I think) but there are a lot of bridges in that area

the egg tarts ;) they do look really good! (I just don't like biscuity things much)

The other place, best portuguese egg KFC!! Surprised? I was.

recommended by our classmates

Milk tea

Can you believe it? There is a 'best milk tea' place!! (I do miss the milk tea in HK...used to have one with every meal...) Anyway, this place holds the record for selling most glasses of milk tea in a day or something like that. We went there after class hoping to try their egg tarts and 'po lo pau' (pineapple bun...which is a type of bun with a crusty top with criss-crosses hence resembling a pineapple involved in its production) but we were too late!! Apparently they run out of those early afternoon. So, we sat there and savour the milk tea. Didn't think it was too special...but good nevertheless.

famous milk tea

This place is somewhere in Wanchai...I am sorry that I don't remember its name :(


One of the staples in HK. I love all kinds of dumpling soups...but of all the places I tried, my favourite has to be 樂園 (Lok Yuen). They have a few branches but the one that I've been to 3 times was the new one in Mongkok, opposite Argyle Center on Argyle Street. Why? Just because it is new, with a modern and trendy interior (rather than hawker style) and the food tastes as good. Price...perhaps just a couple of HK$ more...totally ok with me.

my favourite - fish dumpling noodles...even the skin of the dumpling is made from fish...very nice!! where are can I find this?? *sob*

Also, I love to have noodle soup with some deep-fried fish skin. I don't have a photo but they are really good just on their own, or after a quick soak in your soup :)

Lok Yeun is apparently famous for their 'exploding beef balls', which are beef balls with hot soup in the middle once you bite into it. They are good but fish dumplings are still the way to go for me! :)

HK cafe

Ahh...Australian Dairy Co. Many locals love this place. If you are not familiar with the asian culture at all, be prepared for some serious culture shock. This place is SO popular that if you go at lunch time, there will be a long queue...but not to worry because one will not have to wait long.

One of the many (they have SO many workers for a shop of that size) waiters will get you at the door to ascertain the number of people he will need to seat. With seconds, one will be ushered into the cramped and crowded shop where you will be expected to stand in any small space you can find, hovering over people who are still eating.

The idea is to stare as much as possible so people will get uncomfortable and eat faster so they will be able to leave as soon as possible and you will get your seat...I'm kidding actually...but who knows.

their popular tea set...good value for money at HK$26(ish) everything you can see in the photo...including a hot milk tea/coffee

another thing people go there for...too sweet for me to finish on my own...but oh-so-smooth

The staff...though not the most polite bunch, were certainly entertaining!! :)

And this brings me to the end of my 'best of' post!!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

NOBU Melbourne

Most of us would have heard of Nobu. It is a chain of restaurants started in the US, a collaboration between Robert De Niro and Nobu Matsuhisa, a chef known for his fusion cuisine - traditional Japanese dishes with a twist, incorporating South American (Peruvian and Argentinian) ingredients. Nobu's flagship Manhattan restaurant is apparently a renowned hang-out for A-list stars...a place for star-spotting :)

Well, we can't expect to run into Paris Hilton in Nobu Melbourne, but Grant Hackett and his wife was there on CC's birthday :)

So anyway, with all the hype, CC decided that she would like to have her birthday dinner (this was last year) there...and that was our first visit to Nobu.

I have to say...while going through a few websites in my research for the restaurant's address and menu, more than 90% of the reviews were negative (I am NOT exaggerating) and most of them complained about the service...many had good things to say about the food (nevertheless, some weren't impressed by the food either).

I will go through the food first, and then you will get my honest opinion :)

So...first visit was on CC's birthday last year.

started with edamame $6

I don't know if they actually charged us because I wouldn't order this...the waitress sort of just brought it along I think...because we started with edamame the 2nd visit as well. Anyway, some of the items are no longer on their menu so I can't quote the price for some of them!

So basically, in Nobu, you order a whole bunch of stuff and everyone shares. There are no entrees or mains (or anything filling for that matter...but wait, I'll get to that)

The cold dishes :

prawn cocktail...we did not like the bitter leaves

yellowtail sashimi with jalapenos

I LOVE this...but I can't find it on their online menu...don't tell me they took it off! It is one of the few reasons I would go back to Nobu :(

beef tataki - also can't find it on their online menu...maybe it is known as another name...reason no.2 for my revisit :)

Sushi - very standard, nothing special at all

scallop & smelt egg $14, eel & cucmber $13

Hot dishes :

2 pieces - gone in one mouthful $4.50

fresh soft shell crab karaage $20

the famed black cod with miso $42 - melts in your mouth...all of us love it!

this is a cold dish...which we ordered at the end because we were not full at all and this was the only thing they had with noodles in it...and even then, only a few strands...mostly made up of something that tasted like archichoke to me (I haven't eaten much archichoke in my life)...didn't like it

Dessert :

wam chocolate satandagi with almond ice cream $18 - not too memorable

mochi no youna $15 - interesting dessert with 'miso sponge'...I thought it would be weird to mix something salty with sweets, but turned out to be yummy!

There are a few things I really like there, so when mum and little sis came to Melbourne, sis & I brought them there for the must-trys :)...and hence my 2nd visit.

Unfortunately, being hopeless at directions, we got lost after finding the carpark to Crown closed (which was where I intended to park) I drove into some tunnel that took me goodness-knows-where, and we had to navigate our way back to crown AND continue hunting for parking. Finally we made it to Nobu, incredibly late for our booking...and we had to give up the table in less than an hour. Needless to say, it was a very rushed dinner...which spoilt the experience.

Again, we started with edamame ...and my 'must haves'

1. yellowtail sashimi with jalapenos
- no good photo this time all the photos are a bit blurry this time round

2. beef tataki

3. black cod with miso

New things we tried :

mushrooms cooked in sake - I love mushrooms...but the taste of the alcohol was too overwhelming

seasonal vegetables with spicy garlic sauce $18 - any old chinatown restaurant, just much smaller serving...I would never order this but mum insisted on vegetables

beef gyoza ~$37 - they have a whole range of different beef, I remember the wagyu one was $72...this was not bad, different from other gyozas I've had

prawn tempura with sauces - unimpressive...even the bowl is not up to standard...tsk tsk

scallop sashimi - I really like this...I think I just like the freshness of sashimi...mmm...only thing, it wasn't cold enough for me

soft shell crab sushi $20 - it was good, little sis loved it :)

So, my take on Nobu Melbourne?

Generally, they do have a few things that make me want to go back - i.e. miso cod, yellowtail sashimi, beef tataki...unless I can find them somewhere else. Otherwise, there are options elsewhere for the similar things e.g. soft shell crab roll - nice but is it worth $20 for 6 pieces?? (I don't think so) Ambience? I wasn't impressed...when I was describing it to my mum, I went 'the tables are like the ones at the hawker centres (in penang)' in the design :) Many people complained about the snap-apart chopsticks...and the lousy service...I guess in short, paying fine-dining price when the restaurant doesn't present itself that way. I have no huge complaints about the was good on CC's birthday and all the rush the 2nd time was my fault mostly (sigh)...maybe wasn't as attentive as most fine-dining restaurants.

Another thing, the portions are really small so either be prepared to pay a lot, or eat something else before or after...haha. Actually, be prepared to pay a lot and still not feel full...We paid about $350 for 4 the 2nd time and still had room for desserts, a cheese platter and drinks somewhere else.

I just ask Mouse and San to describe Nobu in 3 words :

Mouse : miso black cod

MM : about the restaurant! not the food!

Mouse : well, that's all it is to me *shrugs*


San : won't feel full


Well, I have to go up to 4 words - poor value for money

There you go :)


Nobu Melbourne
Crown Melbourne Australia
8 Whiteman Street
VIC 3006
03 9696 6566