Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Midori Japanese Teppan Yaki Restaurant

Midori Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon
"Where are you blogging about now?", friend asks.
"Midori! :D"
*Short pause*
"Wow. You alcoholic", friend says.

Just to clarify, I don't have any alcohol related issues. But I do have a very clueless friend! :)
So, I'm not an alco. I shouldn't drink. And to the mate that tells me that I should be training up my liver, good freaking luck with yours. Yeaaaaa buddeh! :D

So for those out there who aren't as clueless and empty-headed as the friend, Midori is probably on many foodie's wishlists. Upon hearing that I was writing about it, another friend asked how much dinner cost.
"$106", I said sadly.
"WHAT?! For each person?!?"
See. And that is probably the impression that most people have for this place, i.e., DAMN EXPENSIVE! (But no, that was the grand total of the bill, if you thought the same thing).

As such, I have mixed feelings about Midori. On one hand I desired to eat here real bad. On the other, I was very opposed to eating there, because I am frankly, not rich enough to eat there. So as we approached the restaurant, we were so very close to switching to Tony Romas instead. It might have cost only a little bit less, but I was certain it would fill our stomachs, unlike Midori.

Throughout the journey there and as I got closer to the entrance, I found myself finding every excuse NOT to eat there.
I was even prepared to say I HAVE NO APPETITE!, but that was too great of a lie.
But the one that came up time and time again, especially when we were at the entrance -
I HAVEEE NO MONEYYY! Because it was true.

Then the next thing I know, we were escorted upstairs to this hell of a different restaurant, greeted by waitresses in colourful kimonos and the sight of huge tables surrounding huge BBQ surfaces in the centre. This was going to be one exciting dining experience.
Yes, one, because I can't afford to go back again until I'm rich, which is probably never.

I was so intrigued by the patterns on the BBQ surface, which was written with salt crystals, which I later discovered that they were actually words. First thoughts were, coooooool! Seconds thoughts were, wow what a waste of salt guys. Especially when I couldn't read what the hell it said. And if you can, well, yeaaaaah whateverrrrrrr.
When presented with the menu, you initially get really excited. Then that feeling is soon taken over immediately, when you look inside the menu and spew up over the prices LOL. Ultimately we went for the Make Your Own set menu, which includes fresh salad, vegetables, miso soup, steamed rice, dessert and green tea (which we actually didn't get).

Seasonal salad
So this was the incredible starter to the incredible meal to come. A bowl of "seasonal vegetables" - yeah, I'd say year round instead - with traditional Japanese salad dressing. And this came out pretty fast, while everything else after it came out pretty slow. It made me feel like I came in here and ordered a bowl of salad only. Seriously it did.

Next up came the entree, which was a choice out of Tempura or Sashimi. This was a no brainer for us, with raw fish being the downright obvious choice. I can't go past this delicacy of raw salmon and tuna arranged delectably with cucumber slices. I think you begin to admire the presentation of food when you do a photo shoot with it - I know I do.
Of course, very fresh stuff, as you would expect at such a restaurant.

Shamefully, I have no recollection of what this cocktail is called, and what it tasted like, or what the heck it even consists of. I do remember the comment "this tastes like medicine" been made though. But from habit I'm pretty sure I always go for the creamy, thick ones over the fruity fresh liquid types of indulgences. Cause the latter just usually tastes like bitter softdrinks anyway.

Theatrical cooking
As Midori's tagline suggests, the place is all about the "Theatre of Dining". You really come for the experience of seeing these chefs, whose occupation double up as entertainers and if I may, cooking acrobats. They throw around salt and pepper shakers, juggle them, make a hell of a lot of noise and play with fire. Pyromaniacs really! That huge BBQ hotplate is pretty much their playground.

Word of warning would be the flame is pretty huge and pretty damn HOT!
I swear before the chef made the huge burst the fire, he told everyone to "watch your eyebrows".
I would say watch your whole face!

 If you choose the MYO set menu, main course is consisted of 3 selections out of meats, seafoods and mushrooms. For me, it was sorta ridiculous to be thinking mushroom or meat? Mushroom or meat? I mean if you're vegetarian, the choice is obvious. But for a non vegetarian, the choice is equally as obvious.
So obviously, I am not a vegetarian =p

Went with the yakiniku, which is chicken marinated in a special barbecue sauce grilled with slivers of onion and spring onion. Hot, tasty and delivered straight onto your plate. Doesn't get any fresher than that.

This expensive baby was not part of the MYO choices. Called this as an extra from the A-La-Carte menu, and from memory this was definitely pricey. By pricey I mean like it probably cost like half of the whole MYO set menu's price. And it wasn't even WHOLE, it was only HALF lobster! It was pretty extravagant though. And by extravagant I mean THE PRICE WAS FRIGGIN EXTRAVAGANT!

They even make it easy to eat by removing the flesh from the outer shell and popping it back into place so the whole thing looks untouched. Ease of eating is always a winner with me. Topped with crispy and fragrant pieces of garlic, it was delicious, but I wouldn't go as far to say it was worth what it was =p

At a restaurant like this, even all the meats get their own little sauce partners. Friend had a smear of soy sauce in one of the compartments which led to the chef changing the whole sauce dish altogether. Contamination is definitely a big issue here and isn't treated lightly lolol.

Far left is a runny "beef stock" sauce, complementing the prime beef we ordered, while the middle liquid partners seafood dishes, having a light, tangy tinged flavour.
To be honest, I think it doens't enhance much, and you could go easily without anyways.

Beef, Chicken, Salmon, Vegetables
And finally we have the finished product here. I held out eating for so long, just so that I could photograph the final thing, talk about being considerate! =p It's hard work resisting gobbling everything down whilst the food is hot and steamy on your plate with aromas wafting around, and you have to just sit there and stare cause you have to stay dedicated to your food blog. =)

Clockwise, there's our prime beef, yakiniku, vegetables (more like, beansprouts), and salmon. Favourite? Probably the beef. That was some good stuff.

Grilled beef
And because I fell in love with it, I felt compelled to take another photo of the beef. I find that most Japanese restaurants cook their beef really well, whether that be their epic cooking skills or the cut of beef they choose to use. But one thing never changes, as the beef is always juicy and succulent and hell tasty.

Soft but not too soft, chewy but not too chewy, and yes I'm indecisive so put up with it. It's got just the right amount of chew for just the right amount of mastication :)

Salt scribbles
Upon finishing our meal, another surprise came. And upon seeing this, a flashback came upon me and I suddenly realised what that initial message said :$

The chefs do have some talent, all their appreciative messages are scrawled on with precision, written upside down and backwards. I bet that doesn't even make sense to you right now. Just understand this is probably what we are paying for. All this schmancy shit you don't see at your ordinary restaurants.

I initially thought the chefs mastered this out of habit and repetition, saying thank you to countless customers, so it musn't be too hard, right? I underestimated. Because they can draw/write/entertain to your request.
*I didn't request that butterfly though, if that is a butterfly at all!

Green Tea Ice Cream
The concept of Midori is pretty different. After all this, you are ushered into their lounge area, full of chairs and tables away from the stuffy atmosphere of where the BBQ grills are. You sit around waiting a while for the final part of your dining experience where you get served dessert, being a mound of green tea ice cream topped with a blob of cream and the recognisable glazed artificial looking and tasting cherry.

I hate those things. They make cherries look so bad.
Ice cream is never bad though =)


All in all, it was a good dining experience. But experience looks awfully close to expensive LOL and damn, I knew it was expensive but I didn't know it was THIS expensive! I'd be pretty disappointed if it wasn't a good experience to remember. It's something different, and it's something worth trying.

Probably shouldn't be frequently visited unless you're disgustingly rich and got money to throw around, but at least once is good. Even after once, your wallet is left with a dent and probably feels physically lighter.
Booooooooooo :(

Service is both slow and fast at the same time. Chefs are extremely fast and entertaining at preparing and cooking your food, all with an air of style and talent. Waitresses on the other hand, seem a bit slow at times. Waiting around occured a lot. Gives you more time to take in your surroundings I guess, which would probably lead to you making more drink purchases. They're also dressed in traditional Japanese kimonos and thongs (shoes, not the other kind, lol) and you wonder how hard it is to be waitressing in such a uniform. Must get hot and sweaty at times...

Oh, and one thing I find amusing is they don't have EFTPOS facilities, being such a high class restaurant and all. You have to like walk across the street to the nearest convenience store and cash out there, which jacks up your dinner an extra $2 because of the ATM surcharge =p It's devastating to see a sky high bill soar even higher.

And it makes you wish you were filthily rich enough to always have a stash of cash on hand, readily available to use at ridiculously expensive dinners.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Hinz Chinese Seafood Restaurant

Hinz Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon
I think it's really unfortunate that people have to part ways. Yeah I know, it's a way of life and blah di blah di blah but still. Why? WHY! I hate it so much. It's a really weak trait of mine.

As such, the brother organised a get together for the little group of staff that have committed their time and effort for the ex business. I reckon it's awesome to be able to catch up with each other so we don't completely forget about the friendships that have developed through time.

Because of the awesome company present, I didn't focus on the food as much as I am usually out to do. The lines between colleagues and friends are always blurred but it's always for a good reason. I love this group of people.

Dim Sim proved to be a good choice for these type of occasions. Well, dim sim is never not a good choice for any occasions, really. After a little bit of explanation of why I was taking photos, we dug into these goodies:

Chicken Feet in Black Bean sauce
Memory tells me we had 2 or 3 of these. So either they were pretty nice, or the diners on our table just have a fetish and just really like feet. I haven't developed a particular dislike to eating these but I think it's more of I just can't be bothered with the effort to eat feet. Too much hassle to eat a theoretically yucky thing = yeah, screw that.

The Chinese name for this translates something to like phoenix claw. As such, a Malaysian with us did not know what this was because of its schmancy name. "Oh, it's just chicken feet." Disappointment. I guess they gotta make feet seem enticing somehow right?

Pork dumplings garnished with Caviar
Above is the usual suspect at dim sim, the famously mispronounced siu mai. Hinz version is relatively smaller than other restaurants, hence the ability to fit 4 into the steamer rather than the usual quantity of 3. Small doesn't always mean it's not good. Being small has its ups and advantages a lot of the time :)...and it definitely doesn't mean I've got a smaller stomach either :(

These dumplings seem to use pretty lean meat for the interior, which is actually pretty good for me since me and fatty foods don't make a perfect match anymore *tear*. But for everybody else who like their fatty meat blocks of fat, that's probably something less appealing and desirable.

Deep fried Prawn dumplings with Mayonnaise
I was too scared to experiment whether my body was agreeable to these deep fried, delicious, tempting prawn parcels. Judging from their looks they look pretty good. Bias is probably present because all deep fried stuff are extremely good looking.

Pork and Prawn Bean Curd Skin rolls in Oyster sauce
Bean curd has always been a favourite, because in my head it's healthy. And here I think I'm using the words bean curd and tofu to be interchangeable...cause I've never bothered to find out the difference. Here that healthiness doesn't seem to really come through though, does it...

The soft textured skin is wrapped tightly to hug the filling inside nice and snugly. The prawn doesn't seem to be very prominent and is overtaken by the flavoured soft mince to give these deflated, wrinkly, saggy skin a little bit of a face lift and a little bit of oomph.

Steamed Spare Ribs with Black Bean sauce
I like to judge the quality and generosity of a restaurant based on this dish, how judgemental and ridiculous that may sound. I find that we order this less and less because it gets to the point where you are sort of ordering a bucket of bones to eat suck and gnaw like a bunch of canines.

Sometimes, spare ribs can mean meat, other times it can mean fat, and occasionally it can mean pretty much bones. At Hinz I would say a pretty good balance is given. And doesn't this look so much more like black bean sauce than what the chicken feet sauce looks like?

Steamed Fish Balls
These used to be my favourite a while back. Fish balls. Mmm. =p These seem to be like processed fish paste mounded into a ball attached to some flaps of bean curd skin at the base. I would call that visual appeal only, with that addition.

The fish balls are pretty firm to the bite but are really not reminiscent of fish, like all fish balls. Pretty bouncy to chew too. Maybe a bit more flavour would make them better. Even more MSG? =p

Deep fried Squid Tentacles with Chilli and Pepper
No doubt, these are always a favourite amongst most people. What's not to love? Maybe the oil, the fat, and the fact that tasty stuff are almost always so bad for you, but besides all that, these are like the healthiest things ever LOL. It's good to develop a love for healthy things.

Cause I have to make an effort to avoid these absolutely healthy foods, I tend to peel off that magical golden layer coating which defeats the whole purpose of this dish. Very sad. At least the single naked squid tentacle I'm left with still satisfies. It's still tender and not rubbery and seafood is always satisfying when it's cooked the right way.

I was somewhat surprised to hear that these aren't available at dimsim in Malaysia. Really? I mean it's either they have really little variety or the person who said that is just a teeny weeny bit clueless :) Despite this though, she is an amazing, talented cook and I hope to scab some skillz from her and feature some of her creations on here soon :D
Fat chance mine would look presentable, thanks to my zero cooking capabilities. Ooh so envious.
Beef Tendon in Chu Hou sauce
This was purely my decision to order :D I love all the bits and pieces of cows LOL tendon, tripe, stomach, tail...I am so horrendous sounding right now. But they all taste just so good! But don't ask me what Chu Hou sauce is, cause I am as knowledgeable as those of you who don't know what it is. Slightly spicy is all I can give you.

From personal preference, I would say these tendons are cooked to a little too soft. I described these as cow veins then realised how gigantic the cow must have been if they had veins as mighty big as these. So yes, tendon for sure. I like my tendons chewy and springy to bite. Signs of the cow working out, no?
Beef Tripe with Ginger and Shallot
So what did I say, I love my milk producing friends. The 4 legged type, not the 2 legged type, ho ho ho =p
Here is yet another dish that comes off a section of the cow, and this time I hate to say after eating this thing for my whole life, I have no idea what I have been eating. Gawd I'm an adventurous one. I know nothing more than its some bit of the cow, just don't know what bit.
And now that I mention it, maybe it's better if I don't find out.

It looks a bit weird if you haven't seen it before, but it's actually nothing too scary, lookswise and tastewise. The texture is exactly how it looks, but that's easy to say. It's chewy, sometimes really chewy that you have to swallow it in a gulp and hope your stomach won't have too hard of a time disintegrating it.
Hinz Prawn Dumplings
I have nothing to say about these. They've become so standard. And these don't deviate from the ordinary, no better, no worser.
Good enough.
Egg Custard tarts
These were wanted so much that they came in between all the savouries on the table. Just couldn't hold the patience. I guess these golden gleaming pools of sunshine do win over the hearts of many. Simultaneously they also play the role of heartbreakers, breaking the hearts of those who try to resist their delicious call.

That combination of flakiness, crumbliness, melty shell and velvetty smooth custard within are easily lusted after and extremely hard to say no to. It's a very dangerous love.
People say love will probably make a person fat. Amen to that.
Hinz entrance
Talk about a grand entrance! Indeed it is hidden away from the actual street but all the more grand this way right? The exterior makes it like you're stepping into a different palace away from the traffic and commercialisation of Northbridge. Northbridge IS getting handsomer by the day though I must admit.

The exterior design is simple but elegant and effortlessly polished. The interior decor is pretty modern and sophisticated too, with paper screens and elevated seating spaces and all. This place underwent a huge makeover from pre Hinz and its appearance is largely transformed from that refurbishment. Evidently thought was put into everything and your surroundings should probably be admired when you step inside. Yes. That was an order =p


The plus side of Hinz is probably that there is no need to queue up or get any number tickets to be on a waiting system just to get a table to satisfy your hunger pangs. I mean like, keep me waiting and I can end up being a nasty bitch.

I guess this means staff can efficiently keep up with demands and orders from customers. Service is pretty attentive and non-intrusive and pretty good overall. It's pretty good to get that, coming from a dimsim restaurant where everything has to be FAST FAST FAST or else you feel like you're obtruding the whole world.

There was a period when Hinz offered dimsim with every dish having the capped price of $4 no matter what you ordered. Sounds prettaayyy tempting doesn't it? Surprisingly I didn't visit when this happened. And there is a reason for it.

One thing I do have to mention though. I have to stress it probably doesn't apply anymore, I'm unaware if they've changed management or not, but I wasn't impressed with something when I visited a while back. I mean, I simply asked how much tea was charged per person. And I was given the attitude and tone of voice, which was so condescending it somewhat angered me, put me off.

It was sorta like, are you questioning how much we charge tea type of thing. He shoved a calculator to me and asked if I wanted to recalculate the bill myself. Wow. I should have said yes. Uncalled for mate. I think that's the reason why I haven't been back for over a year.
Hey, I don't hold grudges or anything. That's what stubborn people do only =p

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Wok in a Box: Hillary's Boat Harbour

Wok in a Box Hillarys on Urbanspoon
Ok so I got to admit, I'm not usually one for cramped up take-out and squished up food in a box. Even when it's in one of those cute and sophisticated cardboard boxes that miraculously hold liquids like a pro that I always get fascinated at.

That's not to suggest I'm some prissy food snob or anything like that, no no.
Far from that. So far from it that in fact, I had a Happy Meal tonight for my dinner. See, I loved my happiness in-a-box. Epic name choice, Maccas!

I used to survive on those. Like every other happy kid. Especially overdosed on these back when the Snoopy collection was available.
Mannn, those were the best times of my life.

So anyway, considering our eating options at the Hillarys boardwalk, Wok in a Box was surprisingly the most appealing at the time. Never thought I'd end up back at one of these stir fry to go places so soon. Too less of a break from the last visit!
Verdict? Not too bad at all!

Serving sizes
So needless to say, with my anorexic figure and all, the larger box obviously belongs to me =p It's somewhat surprising, seeing that I'm considerably smaller than my eating partner. But yeah, don't judge me by my size I guess. In fact, don't judge ANYTHING before you get to know it. So many people are taken aback by my eating capacity and think I'm absolutely insane.
I also make people jealous alot :) so I consider myself damn lucky.

This was my breakfast for the day, probably close to 1pm. A good effort on my behalf, since breakfast can be like 2 or 3pm sometimes. Terrible, I know, really need to discipline myself into getting back into a regular lifestyle and start living like a normal person again. I like being different and all, but these are one of the rare times where it's not good nor healthy to be.

The stunny vibrant redness of these cardboard boxes makes me feel like I'm diving into a box of greasy KFC. That would have been awesome, but not too awesome for my body that's missing a gall bladder. Plus these are better quality.....boxes =p
In fact, I think we may have eaten here purely because of the boxes -.-

MYO Vegetarian noodles - $7.50
There's probably 2 types of people in this world. Those who love animals, and those who don't. I absolutely ADORE animals so much that I will eat every single one of them. And then there are those who ADORE animals so much that won't eat ANY of them. See, now that just makes me look bad and cruel and really not animal-friendly.

So the meal above is the meal for the saint who doesn't know what animals even taste like and doesn't touch them. Hardly even knows what a fish looks like, apparently. Catch my drift? What a good samaritan right!

So with the vegetarian make-your-own box, it costs you $7.50 but you can choose the whole buffet of vegetables, unlimited choice. The ingredients in this I can name is as good as your own judgement from the photo, so I won't bother. So very colourful and disgustingly healthy though. This would probably be too healthy for me even if I was on a diet.
Which...I would never go on to be honest =D

Teriyaki Chicken Stirfry - $8.95
I didn't feel like greasy noodles so early in the morning, I went for the *healthier* and *lighter* option of rice. So I pretty much just substituted carbohydrates with...more carbohydrates. Hah. I would choose rice over noodles ANYDAYYY though. I lurveee my carbs :D

I opened this and was like, WOAH man so much onion! And indeed every mouthful was full of it. It's good that it was sweet and soft and caramelised with that sweet but not sickly teriyaki sauce. Combined in a stirfry with chicken cubes, broccoli and verrry limited bok choy on a bed of steamed rice made a very satisfying Asian style breakfast.

After a few long hours of hard and productive procrastination, it was time to reward myself with a treat from San Churros. I love that hard work pays off in the end. Gotta reward yourself for working so hard once in a while frequently, right?! =p

Guilt kicks in when you lie to yourself. So I decided on the Kids Churros which gives you a smaller version of the normal serving. 3 mini churros - very artistically crafted and placed too! - with a pot of melted dark couverture chocolate and another colourful pot of hundreds and thousands. Colours always make me happy, cause they remind me of the simplicity of what happiness meant, way back then.

Looks like more time and effort and strategy is spent on the kids churros. They've really got the presentation thing going on. Might start getting the kids size from now on. All those rainbow balls and all brings me a little closer to childhood again.


If Noodle Box and Wok in a Box were situated together, I would probably choose the latter. I'm not expert on takeaway stirfrys but I guess it's just a matter of personal preference here. Plus, red is one of my favourite colours and more symbolic of Asian culture and I know that is a ridiculous reason to make a judgement of the actual food =p

Wok in a Box ingredients tasted really fresh and its appearance looked pretty fresh too. The waiting time is also pretty damn fast so if you're starving your ass off it's probably a good choice. Everything there is on a very convenient system, all the cutlery and utensils are set out and you're good to go. By the looks of it many people dined in and chose to get wok on a plate instead of in a box and I reckon it looked much better that way. Certainly better than dining out of a box, it even looked like you get more on a plate though that's probably a misjudgement.

Another plus side of it is that it's in such a good location. In fact ALL the restaurants are in such a pretty location, right by the harbour. Everything's laid back and nice but I guess that's the effect that nature has. It's got such a relaxed breezy atmosphere when the sun is shining...the clouds are drifting...the sea is...floating... :S
...and sigh I really need to work on my visual descriptions.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Tao Cafe

Tao Cafe on Urbanspoon
I was quite excited to be heading to another lunch buffet. That's what my life is for - buffets buffets buffets for breakfast lunch and dinner :D Too much of a good thing is a good thing.
Little Lamb had some promo flyers out advertising buffet lunch for $12.90 or something. I wanted to starve the night before in anticipation for this.

Sadly, very very sadly, I was going to see a circus the next day (lol? Exciting life huh.) and was running behind with times. As such, Tao Cafe became an appealing option instead. I was left with good impressions the last time I ate here. More on that later.

So when you hear of a restaurant as a fusion of 3 very delicious but very distinctly different cuisines, what do you think? The initial time I saw the combination of Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine PLUS A SUSHI TRAIN in the one dining place, I scrunched up my nose.

Multiculturally creative, yes. But also messy and risky, equally or even more yes.
How good are you, chef? Reminds me of me, unable to choose one so what the heck, lets just chuck them altogether and hope for the best shall we?

I wanted to try a dish from each Asian cuisine from the menu but the delicious memories of what I had last time wouldn't let me try something new. Had to have it again. Yes, HAD to! That's what happens when you've got a strong attachment to your foods. You get really clingy. And then you probably get sick of the same thing. Less is more, guys. Remember that.

Ended up choosing from the Vietnamese and Thai section. Sob. Japanese cuisine will have to wait. Can't believe I put my favourite on hold.

Lets start off with my number one favourite - rice! I'm such a rice bucket. I don't seem to get full without it and meals just feel...incomplete. Needless to say life would feel empty without this companion.

This came all pretty and round. Don't underestimate though, this dome structure cost $2.50. :( It's pretty smart to not include rice with meals, cause then people order it extra. It just sucks though.

Green Curry - $15.50
This dish was what I tried last time that I can remember polishing off entirely. A littleee bit salty but that's when the rice comes in to save the day. Personally I think more meat/vegetables should be thrown in for that price. But it IS nice.

You get the choice of chicken or beef or go vegetarian for this for the same price or choose prawns and pay an extra $3. Naturally I chose chicken, it's like the best thing on 2 legs ever. And the perfect accompaniment to a classic Thai green curry.

Vegetables - usual suspects being capsicum, green beans. More variety would have been even better! I took the sauce home and that was my dinner for the night. So sad :( So no, it doesn't really suffice for two meals.

Pad Thai Noodles - $14.50
Sadly this was nicer the first time I tried it. I can't pinpoint what has changed, but I was able to stop myself from eating it when I was full, unlike last time, when I just kept going. Sigh. See, don't know how to resist.

Again, got the choice of chicken/beef/vegetarian or prawn, but this time that's $4 extra. Just because.

It looks like a deceptively small serving size but noodles have got that real sly ability to make you think you can demolish everything, when you actually can't. Stir fried noodles with egg, bean sprouts, spring onion in tamarind sauce means the dish has got this slightly sweet, slightly sour taste that goes down easily. And crushed peanuts on the side! - that I usually just eat on their own in one go.

Cause I am so totally in love with nuts.
Any kind of nuts.

I know this is nothing special but I still had to take a photo. The lights fitted in the restaurant somehow gives all their decor and foods a sparkly gleaming finish. If you haven't noticed, all the photos here are like hell shiny and sparkly and practically GLEAMS on my camera display :)
And we all know food tastes better when it sparkles =p

Self explanatory. This is served because we ordered Pho. Some mint leaves, fresh bean sprouts, lemon, cut chilli and some Hoisin and chilli sauce.

Pho Tai Bo Vien - $13.50
I didn't really want to order this at first because I thought, man, I can probably get better pho at an actual Vietnamese restaurant and for a cheaper price too AND I can get the dac biet which includes all the awesome scraps of animals like tripe and beef tendon and cow tail and wow that just sounds like we are from the wild. But no, they are delicious scraps, really!

Tao Cafe's version includes rice noodles in a traditional beef soup with green onions, sliced raw beef, beef balls and coriander. You pay an extra $2 for those few beef balls, which they probably profit a heap from.

Verdict? Not too bad! Because there was something that probably made it so much more interesting to eat. Or eat out of.

Bonus points for the bowl that this pho is served in. Its circumference was comparable to that of a normal bowl this dish is typically served in, but this is so so much deeper. This is one of the angles you can see cyclone shaped that bowl is. And damn, cyclones can hold so much at their core.

                                           So how often do you eat out of a flower vase?


Tao Cafe is *relatively* new but based on my personal judgement I think they will go a long way. Their decor is fresh and modern and offers a variety of seating options - conventional tables and chairs, booths as well as seating around the sushi train. Which I have yet to try!

Meal prices are decent, but if you really want to compare, then there ARE plenty of other cheaper options. Especially nearby. Decent, but you can probably get the same dish elsewhere for less. Staff are friendly and service is pretty efficient, which is always good, and should be a benchmark for restaurants anyways.

So anyway, I was a bit skeptical about the whole 3-cuisines-mashed-together idea. And contradictory to what I said before but I thought...too much of a good thing can't be a good thing. Like too good to be true sorta thing. But turns out pretty goooooooood! Just gotta have faith, peeps. Give everything a shot. And THEN only give it crap, if it's actually genuinely crap.

So anyway. Why did I have good impressions of this place?
One magic word: discount!
Like, free discount! Like, good-hearted no reason discount! Like, walked outside afterwards with a puzzled look and a thought bubble rising above my head saying "why did I just get that discount?"
I will never know.

That happened the first time I was there. The waitress charged the full prices of all meals and drinks (as expected) and the extra 50c/$1 or whatever it was for the extra takeaway container for my curry sauce (yes, I did the same thing last time...). No problemo.
Another guy came to the counter while we were paying and took over, presumably of a higher position, or maybe even the owner. He looked at our bill, put it aside, and did up a new bill for us. A nicer looking bill.

Mysteriously, a few dollars had disappeared. I'm not complaining. Noticably he had taken off some dollars off the meals or he didn't charge the drink or something.
Must be my charm.
Like...must be right? Ho ho ho what can I say =p
Maybe thank you to Tao, for their generosity :)

Friday, 7 October 2011

Atrium Buffet: Burswood Entertainment Complex

Atrium on Urbanspoon
Warning: Long Extra long post alert :(

Do buffets make you squeal?
Buffets make me squeal.
Buffets make me squeal with delight so. damn. much. But because there are very few people to whom I feel comfortable squealing in front of, and too many who would cut up my vocal chords if I do, all the squealing happens inside me.

Soo, who doesn't love a buffet right?
I love buffets so freaking much that I dislike it. Really! Because the last 2 times I visited Atrium at Burswood, I suffered for the rest of the day in bed wincing from all the pains of overeating and bloating. Yep, I did it all over again a second time, knowing damn well that it hurts like hell. So I guess an idiot like me, deserves every bit of it.

And I'm not even joking this time, and you'd totally nod in agreement to me if you've gone through it, that those pains are actually pretty damn bad. No joke. Basically I'm saying if you're a fatty like me, you'd by in sync with me :P

I guess those aren't the only culprit reasons that I can blame. Here's a quick overview of my overall adolescent life and health status, if you are interested. If not, go, just kidding :) Feel free to scroll down or leave.


I'm an overall healthy person, blessed with a pretty good health with not many complaints about it. However, ever since primary school, I've been suffering from random stomach pains every so often, maybe twice a month or so. These would be really unbearable and I've cried countless times from it, wishing it would just leave me alone. I've had many a sleepless nights from those attacks, rolling around in bed, or if I'm awake, I'd be walking around curled up as if I was missing a spine down my back. That was how it helped relieved some of the pain, if any at all.

My abdomen would become stiff and hard, much like a chopping board. And even when the pain subsided, it would still be tender and I'd always pray, that that was the last time I'd ever have to go through with it. But every time I pray, I knew that was false hope, and I would just be lying to myself. We'd meet again, maybe in, less than a month. And that's if I got lucky.

So despite this, there was nothing else that stopped me from being an active, jumpy, hyperactive kid like everybody else growing up. But only after going through close to a decade of monthly pain attacks, did I finally find the reason for it. And even then, I was doubtful. After you've been stuck with something for so long, it's grown to be a part of your life, even if it is bad, because you've learnt to just deal with it.
Resilience, they call it. It's a very useful tool to get through life with.

So after numerous tests - blood, endoscopy, x-ray, ultrasounds (yes, many many pregnancy jokes there), CT scanning, you name it - results were always normal. GOOD, you may think. And that is certainly what I think too. But after a while, frustration kicks in. You start to hope they find that bug inside you, whatever it is, so they can hopefully kill it off once and for all and put you out of misery. Why am I hurting then, if my body tells me that there's nothing wrong with me?! Is it lying? Are the results inaccurate? Am I breeding something unpleasant inside me that I'm ignorant to?

I was suspected for Appendicitus at one point when I was overseas, to which I fainted upon hearing. You see, I'm weak physically, but I'm mentally weak as well. Probably even weaker. Most of the time it's my mind that lets me down, because I don't have the guts to believe in myself. But someone once told me, that half the battle is believing you can do it, which is something valuable I'll remind myself whenever I lack the courage.

So in the end, after 10 years or so, they finally found the thing that's been having its fair share of fun in my stomach for so long. I've been carrying half a sack of stones in my gall bladder. My doctors (yes, plural) both showed the same reaction:
"How old are you again?" Just got past my teens, my dear readers.
I guess I should have expected this, with all the junk and rubbish I eat everyday. I mean, I'm sure every kid has swallowed a cup of sand accumulated from all those playground visits anyway. And I've probably swallowed 5 cups, with the ultrasound pictures that showed my organ, abundant with swirly white storm clouds, representing the stones.

It took me ages to decide to finally decide to get surgery and have the whole rockpool inside me removed. One of the major reasons for not doing so was the risk of not being able to eat much fried/oily/fatty foods, which are the very things I live for. I just couldn't say goodbye. Ultimately the decision to preserve my wellbeing was more important, I guess. The decision is obvious, when you are rushed to the Emergency department twice in one week.

I'm still meant to watch what I eat, but I think because I was never taught how to resist temptations, I find myself unable to refrain from watching my intake of anything at all. The brother is always mocking me for my frivolous eating ways - all just self indulgent, carefree, unrestrained and lacking sense altogether. I don't just eat when I'm hungry or til I'm full, I eat when I'm happy, bored, tired, sad, indifferent, emotionless. It's just one of my pastimes.

It doesn't feel much different having my gall bladder stolen from me. I don't feel any more empty inside but I guess it's like, some people don't have a heart, but it just doesn't seem like they feel that because they're oblivious to that, right?! Those cruel, heartless people.
There's also 2 metal clips permanently inside me now, to cut off the flow of something from something to somewhere. LOL. So I'm curious to find out whether I'll beep at a metal detector. I've yet to find out.

I do feel unlucky sometimes, to be so young and to already have surgery. What else awaits me in the future? You can't help but think why me?, especially when you're surrounded by so many other healthy, fit and happy people. Whenever those thoughts taunt me though, they never get anywhere deeper than that. I really do open my eyes at how lucky I am, to ONLY have had this happen to me, something so minor, so insignificant and so...nothing in comparison to every other ugly thing out there. Sure it might seem like something big to me, but those worries are a speck of dust in the wind compared to all the hurricanes out there. And I genuinely mean it, when I say I do feel truly blessed to have only had rock formations inside me.
Cherish your life, folks.


So there you have it, my life. A *short* (yeah, right) excerpt of it anyway. To be honest, I don't know why I just wrote all that. Hmmm.

I think it's cause...I was trying to say, I really shouldn't visit buffets frequently, because I shouldn't overeat, which is something that DEFINITELY happens at my buffet feasts. I used to get pains for random reasons that I've observed: skipping meals, eating too late in the day, overeating, over hungry, even stress can trigger my insides to blast. Simple things like bloating wouldn't just go away, it would turn ugly and turn into pains that lasted the entire day/night.

Nowadays, I'm still experimenting what I can take, which to me, means stuffing my face with everything possible to see what what my stomach will accept/reject and the quantity it can deal with. And at all-you-can-eats is where I really witness my animalistic, insatiable appetite. Can't say no to all the sights, smells, tastes luring you in. That's why I always carry digestive/bloating tablets with me everywhere :)
Eat first, cure later. BAD philosophy.

At the newly renovated Atrium, you get the unmissable temptation to start on desserts first. Alas I did not do this. The following is snapshots of a small portion of what is available, unappealing shots as well, as it is rather hard to capture every dish on offer at a busy buffet. Kinda awkward too with other patrons trying to get their food without needing to consider what to write and what pictures to take for a newbie food blog :P

So I pounced around looking at all the foods available but I still started at my favourite side of the 3? 4? 5? main stations of Atrium, this being the Asian side. I find the most variety here and the dishes go through their rotational phases and change frequently, everytime I've visited. There's the main staples of Asian cuisine that don't budge however. There's always a stirfry of meats/vegies, stirfry green Asian veges, different meat curries, paratha, noodles, fried rice, dim sim. Those guys are always there. Its the foods we thrive on. i.e. we thrive on CARBS.

Asian dishes
I always enjoy discovering what's new. This time I found some very creative looking soba noodles twirled into a little bundle and topped with nori seaweed and sprinkled with those little flakes of "moving" things on takoyaki balls. Cuttlefish? Disappointingly these were unbelievably BLAND and tasteless. See? Looks aren't everything.
Anyway, I thought it looked interesting enough so I made a spot for it smack bang in the middle of my plate. Artwork should deserve its own special place on my plate. Just not in my stomach. MUST FREE UP ROOM FOR MORE FOOD!

Crab claw
Typically the middle section of the buffet comprises of seafood. Always prawns (shelled still, DAMN), sometimes lobster, sometimes oyster (albeit not very fresh sometimes), this time: HUGE MONSTER BRIGHT RED CRABS. Like no joke the size of one claw of these things...damn! The meat tasted fresh and juicy, however you gotta rip into these things and get your hands dirty to eat it. No metal crackers or any other crab eating device provided so it's hard to really eat it. You end up wasting a LOT of meat. Like a LOT! Cause you don't want to like bleed and stuff trying to eat this 8 legged... sea spider :S (I'm arachnophobic, btw)

On one side of this middle section is JAPANESE HEAVEN! Layers and rows of salmon and tuna sashimi...which was pretty much transferred onto my plate (see above) LOL. This is probably the largest mountain of sashimi I've come across. I felt a bit conscious carrying this fish stack back to my table. I felt like a shark... just eating like... a whole raw salmon. Eek. But soo good, you see all the lines of fish fat, mmm. There's like sushi as a few boring salads. Like really, who eats salad at buffets right? Don't do it.

Salmon sashimi #2
And...there's my second round of omega 3 overload...:$. Holy moly, I didn't realise how much I ... damn :S

East/West selection
Here is my East West fusion :) Typically I don't take a huge liking to the "Western" station food choice lol. Their meats are somewhat dry and overcooked and tough and the large sized cuts makes it hard to finish when you want to preserve stomach space for everything else. So I tend to avoid, because I hate wasting food. There's usually steak, cooked-when-ordered pasta, fish of some kind, roast vegetables, seafood pie (sounds great, taste...not so great), the usual suspects. Also very lonely carvery meats sitting there purely for looks. Not carved when you want it, so the meat is a bit dry. Also the usual cold cut meats, smoked meats, smoked salmons, you know it.

On this occasion, and on my plate, clockwise, the yellow steamed custard bun, siu mai (which I suspect all dimsims are store bought, but still taste good...), peri peri chicken, steamed salmon, cauliflower cheese, caesar salad (wow, I took salad...?! :S), fish in the middle and a little tied package of glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaf. As for the caesar salad, it's weird. There's a bowl of pre-made caesar salad, and right next door, there's undressed cos lettuce leaves and a bowl of caesar sauce. For those too good for premade and wanna DIY.

Nearly forgot to mention the DIY peking duck pancakes too. All the stuff you need, just needa DIY. Me? Too lazy. So I don't eat it. Some foodie I am. Effort=don't bother :P I don't think there's anything schmancy about it anyway. Definitely not the quality of real peking duck, where the skin is like epic. You also got the usual BBQ pork and chicken too.

Pumpkin Soup
Around the back area is a little overlooked soup station. I think this is underrated. I think everyone's missing outtt! It's like finding a little pot of gold, 2 pots in fact, cause there's 2 soups on offer. This time round there was pumpkin soup and Tom Yum soup. Ohh gawwwwwdd that pumpkin soup. That heavenly smooth velvety creamy pumpkin soup. The Coffee Prince had a spasm over this and I thought that was just weird but damn, I had my own spasm. I GET WHAT YOU MEAN NOW DUDE!

And for kicks, I decided to be a cheese lover for today. Sampled all the cheeses available, and from terrible memory they were Cheddar, Blue and Brie cheeses. Basic stuff butI had to google that. I can so marry Google. So you can tell I'm a bit noob at my cheeses. I shouldn't have too much fatty stuff in case my body throws it back up anyway.

Blue cheese always freaks me out with its alien blue/green veiny moulds. It's offputting to realise we're eating bacteria. Humans so weird eh. We don't eat perfectly good cheese but we eat fermented, mouldy, gone-off crap. Crap that stinks too. I gotta say Brie cheese all the freaking way.

Now, HELLOOO dessert! There's a whole BAR dedicated to desserts, chock full of delicate cups, slices, cakes, muffins, waffles, toppings, marshmallows, fruits, biscuits, crumbles, chocolate, epic flowing cascade of 3 TIERED CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN, can't name everything. Unfortunately I was too close to closing time and the desserts were CLEARED when I got round to it. Only got what you can see there. Sigh. But to be honest, by the time you move to desserts, you're just forcing it all in.

Strawberry Ice Cream
So, I made use of the ice cream bar. Like, REALLY use it. Like ABUSED it. I'm addicted to their Strawberry flavour. Usually I'm not a fan of conventional flavours but there's something about this that has me hooked. And when they're not lazy, there's an ice cream chef that bashes your ice cream with mixed in goodies (lollies/nuts/chocolates/jellies) on a slab of ice cold cement, cold rock style. I think I went up 3 times for that. You feel really guilty afterwards. Sigh. They should put a limit on that thing.

Because I got my fat ass up and got another scoop of ice cream, this time with colourful additions that added more crunch to my creamy mocha ice cream. Pecans and pistachios certainly made the ice cream more fun to eat. The nuts were all still whole, so I guess it wasn't bashing. More of just...mashing. By this time, I wanted to bash my head in for eating so much :(


This place is usually PACKED at dinner. Lunch is usually quiet from the times I've been there but this time was also PACKED. Presumably because there is 30% off for Club Burswood members. Free = good. But that won't happen so discount = good also.

It was hard trying to book a table while trying to maximise your eating time. It was weird though, they try to space every booking out so that there's not a rush of people and enough food around to cater for everyone. So we were scheduled for 1.15pm but got told to come earlier (even 12.30pm) and they might be able to seat us. But got told that our table had already been set and was ready when I made the booking at 12! So confused!

Food is replenished quickly (as it should) and plates are cleared quickly (sometimes). But like so many comments on urbanspoon, the quantity is definitely there but the quality can be questioned. But you know, Burswood is damn big and it doesn't need to give a crap. Refurbishment was just like, oh I dunno, $11 million or something. Got money to splash.

$30 for this was definitely worth it. This type of value makes me lose control and I go on a rampage of some sort of obsessive compulsive eating disorder. People say I'm like a bottomless pit in these situations. It's amazing.

I love the concept of "all you can eat". Cause that really means something to me and I take full advantage of it. Sometimes looking at what other people eat it's sorta like that's all you can eat?
By all means go all out but just make sure you don't eat the rest of the day... or maybe even the rest of the week. :(
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