Thursday, 23 August 2012

Cambridge Forum International Food Court

Cambridge Forum International Food Court on Urbanspoon
So whenever a macaron baking session fails and they turn out like rocks that belong in your garden, natural instinct is to give up and go eat out instead.

And with the sheer variety of choice here, yummy prices, and the amount of times my macarons do not end up turning into macarons, I'm going to be at Cambridge Forum a whole heap. Coming here TWICE within 15 hours maximum has set a personal record thats gonna be hard to beat.

I'd say impressive, and not even slightly gluttonous, no matter how I try to look at it.
(But in all seriousness, it's hard not to be).

Teh Tarik - $3.50
We've been on a Teh Tarik roll as of late. This milky beverage is the latest fashion trend on the pink walkway leading down to my stomach, and it sneaks its way into our order and onto our table whenever we see its presence on a drink menu.

Having one sole drink store in the food court seems to be how Cambridge Forum and Spencer Village like to operate. It was a sad moment when I saw the choice of a coffee cup to hold our Teh Tarik in, when I'm so used to downing the stuff in something like a beer mug instead of sipping it daintily from a delicate coffee cup.

As it wobbled and slid en route to our table, I was really wishing for a bigger cup. And bigger handles!

NOT a coffee
Objects that have dots, bumps and holey surfaces usually end up giving my skin the same sort of appearance when I look at it. The only exception to this rule is a deliciously frothy, crater-like surface of a freshly brewed and frothed Teh Tarik.

Unfortunately this layer is not due to the pulling technique, but from a normal, commercial coffee machine's steam wand. It tastes nice, but not as satisfying a teh tarik as I'd hope for.

Assam Laksa - $9
It's easy to tell when assam laksa is cooking away on the stove top, the moment I open the front door. Its smell is the strong, sharp and stinging type that seems to be travelling nowhere except up your nose. And then it lingers there (and in every microscopic air particle in the house) for another day or so.

The Assam Laksa at the Malaysian Hawker store is a weekend specialty only, in all its gluggy glory. Its intense aroma instantly travelled into our nostrils - the salty, the spicy, the sour elements in the dish instantly recognisable.

Unlike conventional laksa, there's no solid meat in this. Fish is minced and ground up into the soup, which carries a sourish tamarind-like taste. The soup is gritty and thick from all the minced fish and pungent shrimp paste that makes laksa so unique. A full on breakfast, but it's hard to get full on just a bowl of noodles, onions, pineapple and lettuce shreds!

Vegemite Chicken Rice - $10.50
I remember seeing so many Vegemite sandwiches around me in Primary school, ecstatic to finally try my own, then throwing the whole sandwich in the bin after the first revolting bite. The jar of Vegemite sat in my pantry for the next few years, unforgotten, presumably full of mould and still not too different from its original flavour at that point.

"How do people even like this s#!t!!!", my 8 year old brain thought. (If my vocab was already that vulgar).

And to this very day, I still stay true to my opinion, but to a lesser extent.

Why would you eat a slice of bread for breakfast ever again?
But as luck might have it, you could come across a different method of usage of your most hated food enemy, which completely revolutionises your thinking. You might eat capsicum if it's on a pizza or touch garlic if it's on garlic bread, but this is to the point where I'm inspired to go and buy a jar of vegemite (and then risk breeding mould. Again.)

Ladies and gentlemen, vegemite chicken, is about to change everything. Your like/dislike for vegemite, your diet, and unfortunately, your size. Please go and try the marmite chicken dish from Hawkers Cuisine in Northbridge if you haven't already, for your own good.

Those vegemite-on-toast days are long gone...
But as much as I hoped, Malaysian Hawker's vegemite chicken dish does not fare up to my heightened expectations for it. It is crunchy and liberally coated in sticky, syrupy sauce, but makes you conscious of the oiliness very soon. Bleurgh.

I blame the chicken that's cut up into very small bite sized pieces, which is convenient to eat but gives you a mouthful of batter instead that overrides the meat taste. And while vegemite sauce sounds disgusting in the mind, the sweet caramel flavour in the mouth is another delicious story.

Mini Shanghai Dumplings - $4.20
When one has a dumpling craving, it is absolutely compulsory to satisfy it.

At Wembley Dim Sum in the food court, you can get your Dim Sum fix easily, minus the hassle of fighting for a parking bay and minus the risk of getting lukewarm, unfresh Dim Sum baskets that have ran a few tiresome laps around the dining floor.

Our doughy babies
Freshly steamed to order, you could safely bet that your order will arrive still with steam rising from the basket. I was in a soupy kind of place and hoped to satisfy that from the broth that sits in these little plump pouches.

Unfortunately, as tough as the dumpling skin appears, it ripped on the way to my mouth. Thinness is not the problem, but rather because every 1 of those 4 dumplings stuck ever so tightly to the sheet of paper beneath them. Impossible not to cause leakage of hot soup inside.

Which saved my life. (My tongue).

Birds eye view has never looked so good!
If they showed a little resistance against the paper, the dumpling skins are actually firm without the excess doughy texture one might expect. The pork mince filling inside is juicy and moist from being bathed in the soup, and the few pearls of fish roe on top are really too limited to add any taste or texture besides helping on the visual side.

I used to eat all my dim sums with vinegar in rain, hail or shine, but I've gotten over that stage. A dash of vinegar might enhance their taste sensation, but I prefer to go without. Sourness can really distort the original flavour too easily.

2 Meat Curry Combination with Dhal & Rice - $11.50
Wandering around during dinner may get you specials and discounts, if stores are trying to sell as much of the food as possible that's sitting in warmers.

Not feeling particularly inspired by the mainstream Asian stores even after a few laps around the food hall, I opted for the nice smelling Wembley Curry House, with all its ugly brown food giving off beautiful aromas.

It's hard to make a choice if you take the 2 meat combination offer. Ultimately, we went for the Lamb Rogan Josh and the ubiquitous Butter Chicken, and a bonus of one more vegetable choice! It is messy (to eat AND to look at), but oh so tender and satisfying.

My mighty good looking and tasting curry beef and chicken with dhal and potatoes for breakfast.
Soybean Milk
It is a no brainer and joyful fact to find soybean milk being sold at predominantly Asian food courts by the jug, instead of the canned variety being the only choice.

Served warm, a glass of this goes down a treat.

Bak Kut Teh - $10.50
Bak Kut Teh is also a Weekend Only dish from the Malaysian Hawker store. I haven't seen this being served with chilli, and I made sure to leave those scary looking chilly seeds alone.

This dish already has all the hotness it needs (temperature wise). In with the tasty soup is a party chock full of pork on the bone, vegetables, tofu and plump Chinese mushrooms. After working your way through all this and leaving yourself with nothing but soup, you can make yourself another meal by ladling the soup over the plain steamed rice.

A steaming hot Bak Kut Teh has got to be one of the most comforting dinner (or lunch or breakfast and everything in between) meals ever.

Tom Yum Soup - $10.50
I experienced a strong calling of noodle soup as I roamed down the walkways of the food court, leading to different countries (cuisines). Many dishes are offered by not just 1, or 2, or even 3 stores, which makes it a bit of a confusion-enticed headache to decide where to get my Tom Yum from.

So out of the 4 stores offering it, I ended up at Malaysian Hawker AGAIN. There hasn't been a time I have diverted away from them. And I am glad I chose them to be my Tom Yum provider, for it fully justified the comment "Oh my god that looks so good" that a stranger made when walking past my table.
Indeed it was, you have good taste.

Afraid that this hot and sour soup would be too hot and too sour for me, I had no reason to be. This could have just been my appetiser, for each consecutive spoonful whetted my appetite and made me progressively hungrier. Loaded with fish balls, chicken, onion, fish cake, broccoli, snow peas, carrots, mushrooms, beansprouts and prawns (PHEW!) AND noodles, utterly delicious.

First spoonful, I died. Every other spoonful after that, I'd gone to heaven.
And when I emptied out the bowl, I came crashing down to Earth.

My 3rd Tom Yum on my 3rd visit in (probably) 3 weeks. Too good.
Chicken Rice - $8.50
Similar to the Tom Yum, you'll struggle with where to get your chicken rice from.
The Singaporean store just about sold me with their advertised boneless chicken rice, before an invisible force pulled me next door to its neighbour, Malaysia.

And to my joyful discovery, Malaysia's chicken is also boneless! Hurrah!

More skin than meat that meets the eye
Looking like the twin to the aforementioned vegemite chicken dish except with slightly different features, the chicken rice is also served with cucumber, tomato and a sprig of coriander. The rice is cooked with chicken stock, and while not as fluffy as plain rice, is more flavoursome.

The chilli sauce the dish is served with is a little on the watery side, but still a good accompaniment to the chicken. The chicken is passable but not at its best as it could be, if it were smoother and the skin not as dense and "fat".

Steamed Custard Buns - $4.20
Before the days where dim sum buns could hold liquid, you would be very familiar with the more solidified custard filling buns. And while they were a delicious treat, their newer improved versions are pure indulgence.

And you can be sure that the centres in these will flow like a river, filling your mouth with a creamy golden liquid (and the table, if you aren't fast enough).

Big round white balls
Perfectly white and smooth buns sit in the basket, still piping hot from being freshly steamed. The two domed shaped buns are like fluffy pillows that are soft and airy, keeping the inside filling scalding hot by sealing in the heat.

Although more suitable to eat at the end of the meal, it is wise to eat these at the beginning instead when they are hot and at their absolute best liquid state.

I cannot lie, I like big buns. And get my hands on them ASAP.

Plain Rice Flour Roll - $4.20
Thinking this was chee cheong fun, A mistakenly ordered these but nevertheless were still a good dish. Rolls of silky rice flour sheets are layered atop each other, surrounded by a moat of sweet and salty soy sauce.

Usually fillings like pork or prawns are rolled in between the sheets, adding texture (and protein!) but these vegetarian rice flour rolls' simplicity are just as good.

The still life of deliciousness
As frozen as it looks, my attempt to capture the beautiful moment of the liquefied centre escaping from its hole nearly cost me my bun.
The movement looked beautiful on my camera screen, until I realised what was happening and threw down my camera to rescue it.

Just one more second...
And I would have been licking my tissue.


So when one mentions the words "food court", what comes to mind is usually mediocre, mass-produced edible items that can sometimes be referred to as food. Having grown up in one (sort of), this is not the case and Cambridge Forum here is also far from that misconception. And after a sit back in my chair rubbing my tummy satisfaction level kind of dinner here, home, die in bed, and come straight back here for breakfast situation, it is my home away from home (whenever food is needed)!

And while most food courts generate business via random foot traffic and provide convenience food, this food court provides purpose food - people actually come here for it specifically, and not just because they need a tummy filler after emptying out their fortune after shopping for 5 hours. Perhaps AFTER late night shopping in the city, as Friday night here was one big busy food party with LOTS of hungry attendees.

A spacious complex with lots of parking, complete with an indoor playground and mounted televisions makes a very comfortable family environment. Good news for families, but not exciting news for those intolerant to excessive noise and movement when dining out. The food hall ambiance is inescapable, but the layout is clean and comfortable. Just behold and beware the prominent NO OUTSIDE FOOD ALLOWED warning upon entering!

It's all about honest, inexpensive good feeds here, and grab your own cutlery and provided wine glasses (yep, BYO!) from the central table type of place. I was given $20 to go crazy with, and while that could get me a stingy entree elsewhere, you can get as crazy as 3 dishes here with a red note. And food delivery to your seat means you possibly see more service here than you would at a restaurant where getting your food requires you to get off your ass.

And THAT, is precisely the reason why all my pants are getting too tight for me.

(08) 9383 9318
Tues - Wed: 11am to 9pm
Thurs - Sun: 11am to 9.30pm
Closed Mondays



  1. LOL at 12:58am you posted this. ive been craving for dumplings lately! and youve made my made feel somewhat satisfied after reading your blog :) the capture of the bun is amazing and the warm soy milk makes wonders for a winter day! xx

    - pho

    1. 12.58 is one of the earlier posts :P
      Don't worry, we'll get your intense dumpling craving satisfied very soon ;)


So what did you eat today?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...