Monday, 29 June 2015

Illi Hill, Marrickville.

The inner west that was mostly industrial was now had quite a facelift and is inundated with more cafes than ever.  A few of my favourites are located quite close to me, but I love branching out and finding other good eats in the area too. This is how I found Illi Hill. Previously a corner shop and butcher, this café promises plenty of choices for everyone, vegans and gluten free too. The menu changes seasonally and in divided into breakfast and lunch, although you are free to order from whichever tickles your fancy.

Breakfast salad anyone?

As per usual, a café visit starts with a round of drinks, as much as I’d like a coffee, having a 3rd cup that day would have tipped me over. So better steer clear and opt for a milder option. (Trust me, a caffeinated up me isn’t pretty.)


                                                             Non-dairy Green smoothie


We were so glad when we saw the non-dairy smoothie on the menu as the dining buddy is lactose intolerant. The green smoothie tasted anything but green and earthy, it was slightly sweet with a nice tang to it. I would definitely order it again!



Soy chai

The weather was getting cold when we visited, so a hot drink was needed to warm up our souls. Soy chai is our go-to whenever we café hop, The version at Illi Hill is on the weak side but we have both yet to find a chai that is both strong enough for both of us, with exception to the sticky chai from Circa. Let us know if you know of a good strong chai! 


Mushrooms on toast


Don’t be fooled by the simple description, this dish was my pick of the day. Juicy field mushrooms were paired with tangy tomatoes and a house made pepita dukkah, complementing the saltiness of the feta perfectly. The sourdough was a bit on the tough side, so we ended up going hands-on. What etiquette?!?


Salad of 6 hour roasted lamb shoulder


I only ever order a salad if there is a substantial amount of protein attached to it, because truthfully speaking, I’m not a cow grazing the fields, so bring on the meat! This 6 hour roasted lamb did not disappoint flavour-wise. Tender and flavoursome, it was however a bit on the dry side. The serving size of this salad is massive though, I’m known to demolish food but even I struggled to finish it! Must be the hefty amount of grains and greens!


Gluten free lychee rose and coconut cake

We were about to grab the bill when I spotted some sweet delicacies on the front counter. They looked too pretty to pass up so I talked my dining buddy into sharing one with me. After much decision-phobia, we opted for the mini gluten free lychee rose and coconut cake. The cake was lightly scented but strong in flavour, crumbly, buttery and moist, albeit a tad on the sweet side. I would definitely come back for the other versions!

So what do you look for in a cafe? I love a cafe with a cosy homely feel. Let me know yours in the comments below! 


Till next time, 
Milkteaxx



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Monday, 22 June 2015

Tabaq, Newtown. Indian and Pakistani cuisine.


My experience with Indian and Pakistani cuisine has been somewhat limited, ok, very limited, does university days food court butter chicken count? 

yeah, probably not. 


pappadums and mint raita

the pappadums were thin and crispy, and when paired with mint raita? Godsend indeed.
I love the addition of mint to the raita, the only thing I could fault was how thin the raita was.


tandoori chicken

Next up was the tandoori chicken. We could smell this a mile away, so fragrant and nostril tickling.
The chicken was so juicy and tender, I could easily polish a whole chicken myself!


pakora

I had never had pakora before, but the name sure sounds like a dance move!
Instead, pakora is a deep fried vegetable fritter, crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, quite tasty for a vegetable fritter!


karachi machli

I grew up eating fish on a daily basis, you know the asian way with soy sauce, ginger and scallions? One does get bored of eating the same thing so often, so steamed fish hasn't made much of an appearance since the beginning of my kitchen experimentation days.

The karachi machli is an interesting way of cooking fish, the whole fish is marinated and grilled till smokey and slightly charred. however, if you aren't use to eating fish with bones, this is not the dish for you as I found many smaller bones embedding within the flesh.


palak paneer

The first of the curries to hit our table was the spinach and cheese. This one failed to wow us as the texture was quite odd, sloppy from the spinach paired with rather firm cubes of cheese.
Unfortunately we left most of this behind.


deer karahi

The deer curry on the other hand was quite good, the deer meat was stewed till it fell apart with a prod of the fork. Amazinggggg!


basmati rice

You either love or hate basmati rice, I remember a couple years back, basmati was being touted as the diabetic rice as it was higher in G.I. I personally prefer this less glutinous rice to the usual jasmine, but sushi rice still trumps over this by a long shot.


peshawari naan and garlic naan (pictured)

Carbs carbs carbs! I love my bread, especially in the form of fluffy warm naan bread. I have tried making these babies at home, but nothing beats the comfort that garlic naan gives. The peshawari naan is also a winner, it is sweet and coconutty, delicious!


chicken briyani

I may have unbuttoned my pants by this point, but who am I to refuse chicken briyani? flavoursome and spice heavenly, big thumbs up from me!

pistachio and mango kulfi

Dessert arrives in the form of pistachio and mango kulfi. The mango one is spot on and delicious abeit giving us a brain freeze, the pistachio however had a slight burnt plastic aftertaste, not so pleasant.

Overall, a fantastic experience, I would definitely be back for the peshawari naan and chicken briyani! 


Stay warm and till next time,

Milkteaxx


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Milkteaxx dined as guests of Tabaq Restaurant, opinions however remain her own.
Photos by Maikeru Nirvana unless otherwise stated. 

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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Sokyo- The Star

Japanese is probably one of the most loved cuisines in our household, not only is it an emphasis on fresh produces, delicate flavours and presentation, the fusion of Japanese with out flavours is endless. 


Speaking of Japanese cuisine, let me share with you my (not so hidden gem) favourite, Sokyo at The Star. 
Headed by the talented Chase kojima, the menu has never failed to impress. 


Interiors

I love the ambience of Sokyo, it is the perfect place to wind down and catch up over good food. This time round, it was a mother and daughter bonding session pre-theatre. 


Maguro Tataki- Seared tuna, carbonized leek aioli, pickled mushrooms, asparagus, smoked ponzu

Sokyo has a lovely pre-theatre menu available, but I always like to go back for the full menu so I can activate my decision-phobia with all the choices.

Salmon is probably the most well known sashimi out there, but for me, tuna and kingfish have always had my heart. This dish was simply amazing, with lovely contrasting flavours, smokey from the light sear and tangy from the pickled mushrooms. I could easily polish off 3 servings of this myself. 


Moreton Bay Bug- Green papaya pomelo salad, sambal mayo, black pepper amazu

What I also love about Sokyo's menu is their tempura offerings, not only are they items you won't find in other Japanese restaurants, the flavour combinations are also unique and a fusion of other flavours. 

After sampling a fair few last time, this time round I opt for the moreton bay bug tempura, the texture is similar to lobster but less firm, the flesh however is sweeter and softer. The only thing I could fault about this dish was how little of it there was!


The talented Chase Kojima at work 

Check out that concentration level. 


Jurassic Quail- Sweet potato, pickled cabbage, wasabi dressing

Moving on to the protein! Quail is delicious when done properly, but I have had my fair share of burnt to crisps quail from the local Chinese BBQ place but fear not as my faith has been restored by this dish. The quail is cooked to perfectly, still slightly pink and juicy. The sweet potato mash was also unbelievably delicious and added a nice sweetness to the quail. My mother, who normally doesn't like anything gamey gave this dish a big thumbs up!


Lamb Chops- Burnt eggplant purée, Aka miso, Basil

For the more substantial dishes, we opted for the lamb chops with the promise of some delicious sounding eggplant puree. The lamb chops were flavoursome but a tad too fatty for our liking, the eggplant puree however had us scraping the plate clean, do you think I can order a bucket of that puree as a dish? 


Tai Ceviche- Crispy nori, shio konbu, lime salsa

You cannot visit Sokyo and not sample some sushi, my long time favourite is the tuna crispy rice, but I think i have just found a new favourite. The tai ceviche is all things delicious and textural. The tai itself is mildly creamy and reminiscent of tuna, the crispy nori pushed it to the next level of awesome. This was definitely my pick of the night!


Goma street- Caramelised white chocolate, black sesame ice cream

One always has a spare stomach for dessert, well at least I do. I insisted that we do dessert here because it has never failed me. Goma street is like a dream come true, thin discs of chocolate sandwiching caramelised white chocolate, it pairs perfectly with the smooth and robust black sesame ice cream. I can never turn down this dessert. ever. 

So tell me, what is your favourite cuisine and why? let me know in the comments below. 



Stay warm and till next time,

Milkteaxx.


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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Buttermelt Cafe, Strathfield.

"You melt my heart babe" 

Yes, I was eavesdropping what the couple on the adjacent table to me was saying while waiting for food at what used to be Moochi in Strathfield. 

I really should probably keep my stalker tendencies to a minimum.... or is that called people watching (listening)...? 

Anyways, let's move on from my stalker behaviour. 
Let me tell you about some good food instead. 

Yes, Strathfield finally has a cosy cafe that serves more than your usual waffles and matcha lattes, Buttermelt has definitely upped the game for cafes in Strathfield IMO. 


Wild mushroom bruschetta 

I like to start my day with something savoury, and if it features mushrooms then I can guarantee that there will be no hangry meltdowns for the next 4 hours. 

This wild mushroom bruschetta has all my favourite things, a medley of juicy mushrooms, baby spinach and that oozy egg. Oh and a good grating of parmesan too! 
Almost food coma inducing, just almost. 


 Brioche French Toast 

One does not merely say no to french toast, scratch that, no one ever says no to french toast! (immediately unfriended if you do) 

I had had my fair share in Hong Kong, eating eggy french toast drenched in syrup and butter, as amazing as that sounds, there is something about the addition of berries to french toast that makes it that little bit better. 

The brioche french toast was crispy and soft, perfectly complimenting the mascarpone cream, pistachios and luscious mixed berries. I was so close to face planting myself into this. Thank god the plate was snatched away from me. (I kid you not!) 
I highly recommend this french toast, it is almost as my favourite from Three Williams


Taro Latte 

The purple hue of taro is so captivating and gorgeous, we could smell the taro from this drink a mile away but unfortunately the flavour didn't carry through. In fact, it had a rather unappetising soapy aftertaste. This was pretty much left untouched besides the first sips we took. 


Green Tea Smash 

Matcha. Put it in cake, in tea, you name it, I love that stuff!
The green tea smash here however didn't quite float my boat. I could barely taste any matcha flavour and was rather icy and bland.  the foodie in tow agreed with me, and I quote her, "taste like watered-down milk". 

Reviews of this place is rather mixed, but I can see why though, it could be still them ironing out some issues with consistency. 

In a nutshell, the food is brilliant, but the drinks could do with a bit more work. 

So tell me guys, what do you look for in a cafe? ambience? good food? wifi? Let me know in the comments below!


Till next time, 

Milkteaxx 

Click to add a blog post for Buttermelt Cafe on Zomato



                                                        Say hi on social media, I only bite food! I can be found on Instagramfacebook, twitter and Google+

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Sefa Kitchen, Bondi.

When I hear Bondi, I think beach, sunshine and hipstery of all sorts.
Don’t get me wrong, I love all things hipster and trendy, it must be my lack of it!
But what had me in Bondi on a fine Saturday afternoon was the Middle Eastern culinary delight, Sefa Kitchen.



Juice of the day- watermelon

We start our relaxing afternoon with a few drinks while basking in the natural light filled tables. I choose the fresh juice of the day, which is the watermelon juice, it is refreshing and all things delicious, perfect for whetting the appetite for the feast ahead.



Watermelon and elderflower Spritzer- Sparkling wine, aperol, watermelon liquor, elderflower & san Pellegrino.

The foodie partner in crime opts for something more exotic, a watermelon and elderflower spritzer. It is sweet, refreshing, slightly tangy and just a tad fizzy from allthe sparkly components.




interiors

Upon entering, your nostrils are tickled with the aroma of many amazing spices and herbs. But this eatery isn’t Bondi hipstery at all, it is intimate and cosy while still maintaining the homely vibe, oozing with comfort, perfect for a wind down Saturday.


food flat lay anyone?

Hungry? 

On to the food!

  
pumpkin fatteh w chickpeas & sour yoghurt

I love pumpkin, be it in soups, salads or in this case, pumpkin fatteh. This vibrantly coloured dish did not disappoint in flavour and texture either, crunchy bits of flatbread scattered through a delicious mix of chickpeas and creamy and sweet pumpkin. This dish was a strong contender for our favourite dish of the meal!


lamb kafta w yoghurt & pickles

Next up was the lamb kafta, these delicious morsels of seasoned lamb mince were made even better with their house made yoghurt and pickles, I found myself picking at this even though my stomach was screaming at me to stop eating.


fried lamb mince, hommus & pomegranate molasses

Of course we save the best for last. My pick of the day would definitely be the fried lamb mince, asides the obvious of this dish containing hommus (gosh, that stuff is amazing!),
this dish was so full of other aromatics, not only could we not taste any gamy taste.  I have recently found a liking for lamb. I used to avoid anything lamb because it was too gamey for my liking, but

We were so stuffed by this point that we wanted to refuse dessert, but seeing that it is a food blogging sin to do so, we took a couple of deep breaths and forged on. 


almond cake, sahleb & sumac watermelon

After some intense deep breath exercises we tackled the dessert menu. After much consideration, we opted for the almond cake w/ sahleb and sumac watermelon.

The best way to describe their almond cake? A deconstructed version of Black Star Pastry’s famed watermelon cake! The sahleb component was a winner, it gave the dessert a creamy and nutty aftertaste. So good I tell you!

How good you ask?
So good I continued to stuff myself silly despite being at bursting point. (Like that doesn’t happen all the time!)

I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Sefa, I would definitely go back for the extended dinner menu, with a couple of dishes that sounds mouth wateringly good! You now where to go if you get sick of the cliché fish and chips!

Till next time,



Milkteaxx

SEFA Kitchen on Urbanspoon



Milkteaxx dined as guests of Sefa Kitchen, opinions however remain her own.
*drinks were paid for independently.


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Friday, 22 May 2015

Via Tokyo,Hong Kong + Interview with owner, Kosei Kamatani!



Apologies everyone, Milktea has now disappeared off the face of the Earth. She has been away on some mini adventures in interstate and also has a severe case of writers' block. 

Have you missed the sarcasm and lame jokes? yes? fear not, she is back! with more lame and sarcasm than ever! Brace yourselves! 

Ready? 

Let's go! 

I make a return to blogging with a first, what first you ask? 
An interview of course! So who is this person that caught her attention? 

*drum roll please!*

Kosei Kamatani of the famed Via Tokyo in Hong Kong! 

Kosei is  a guy with guts IMO! Originally from a business background, he left his highly attractive and stable corporate job for F&B simply because he realised where his heart really was, with his family being in F&B for over 30 years. 

Kosei also heads up a few other food ventures ( highlighted below) but the other one you can't miss is definitely Ramen Jo. Delicious ramen I tell you! 

It was a shame I didn't get to meet him in person when I was in Hong Kong earlier this year, Kosei is super friendly and you can feel his passion for food even via email! now that's what I call for the love of food! 


Via Tokyo

Like The Peak, Via Tokyo is a must visit for any matcha lovers when in Hong Kong (Big call I know!). Over half their menu is dedicated to matcha items and they use 3.6 hokkaido milk, which is creamier and has a vanilla after taste (This stuff is so good that I drink this stuff straight even though I'm mildly lactose intolerant and almost never drink milk straight!) 

It is no surprise that visiting Via Tokyo on an average night means standing in queue for a good 20-30 minutes! But trust me, this place is worth the wait! 


shiratama azuki matcha soft cream 

"pour that syrup baby! " is what I said, probably a bit too loud because it garnered a few odd looks from my table neighbours. 

Wait till you try this azuki matcha soft cream though, because you may very well be saying the same thing. The matcha soft cream is creamy and intense in matcha flavour, the azuki beans and the mochi balls give it an refreshing change in texture. It may have be cold in Hong Kong at the time, but that did not stop me! 


royal milk tea parfait w/ housemade langue de chat 

asides matcha ( and hojicha, which i missed out on!) they also have a popular royal milk tea section of their menu. Essentially all the matcha items in royal milk tea flavour! The tea flavour is robust and is offset by the vanilla creaminess of the hokkaido milk. It complements the creamy soft serve really well. What surprised me was the house made langue de chat or cat's tongue biscuit. buttery and short, I could easily eat a dozen of these!

Now on to the interview with the highly successful man behind the operations of matcha heaven, Via Tokyo ( and a handful others including a shisha bar!)

1. What is your favourite creation from Via Tokyo?
At the moment, I really am happy with our milk tea parfait! I think the combination of ingredients has worked out pretty well.

2. You use to work in one of the big 4 companies, what made you leave the corporate world and delve into the world of food? And why HK?

I went school at the University of Southern California, at the Marshall Business School specifically. I always thought I was going to go the corporate route with steady and safe kind of career. But 3 years in, I realised it just wasn't what I wanted to do anymore; my family has been in F&B for 30 years, and where my heart always was. It was a natural decision for me. I was actually born in HK and my parents live here too - this is home for me!

3. From pizza to ramen to matcha heaven, you’ve got a fair few food ventures under your belt, can you tell us which one has been your favourite so far and why?How do you feel about all the accolades attached to your name?

When I first quit my corporate job, I actually started a Frozen Yogurt store called Yogo (which is the exact location where Via Tokyo is now). That was my favourite venture, the one that gets me nostalgic and leaves me with the most memories. It has since closed down, obviously, but it's where I got my start and learned the most about how tough the industry is.
The accolades (and there aren't all that much really!) are great, and provide good motivation for me. You always feel happy to be recognised for hard work. But my personal goal has always been to provide something which customers would find delicious and love to eat. There's nothing more wonderful than seeing a customer really enjoying one of your products!

4. So how did the super successful via Tokyo come by?

Via Tokyo was an idea me and my family had to offer quality Japanese desserts to the people of Hong Kong. I think previously there wasn't much in the way of a dedicated and authentic Japanese dessert store in Hong Kong, so we wanted to fill that gap. Before we opened, the concept was actually to offer a relaxing and quiet environment where people could have a coffee, read a book and have some dessert as well! I'd be lying if I said I knew it would get so busy.

5. So you call yourself a junk foodie, what do you get up to food-wise when you're not managing your ventures?

I love to eat, and it is my greatest passion (besides running my restaurants, of course). When I'm not working a lot of the time I'm eating! Fine dining at posh places is great but not always my thing, as I can't always justify paying for that kind of meal. Which is why I love to eat junk food! Quicker, cheaper, easier to enjoy. My ideal meal is a dirty burger or quick bowl of ramen, and of course desserts as well.

6. Who is one of your biggest inspirations when it comes to your creations and food related adventures? 

My mother. She's done this for 30 years by herself mostly, and it's inspirational to me that she could come to HK so many years ago and start from nothing. I would be nothing without her and she taught me to love food since I was young.

7. As a child, what did you like to eat? What about now?

My favourites haven't changed much! I had a terrible sweet tooth as a kid and I still do now.

8. Are there foods that you won’t touch with a 10-ft pole?

I guess insects? That totally revolts me! Can't imagine eating an insect. Durian as well, can't handle it!

9. You do a fair bit of travelling, do you have a favourite city for eating?

It would have to be Tokyo. The quality, variety, and price of food (with the low yen now) is quite unbeatable. They also do most other foreign cuisines quite well too!

10. Your most memorable meal so far?

Ahh sorry to cheat a bit, but can't say there's a clear-cut most memorable meal! If anything, I absolutely love the experiences during my annual ramen crawl in Tokyo/rest of Japan. The ramen is just too good.

11. And let’s hope you won’t be needing this anytime soon, what would be your Death Row meal?

Wow haha! Yes wouldn't want that, but for the sake of clarity, probably a steaming hot bowl of shoyu ramen. Would drink every last drop of soup.

12. What should we expect from you next? Any amazing food ventures in the planning?

I have too many ideas! Can't execute them all of course, but for the short term, would love to expand on Via Tokyo.

13. And last but not least, butter or margarine?

Butter any day. Cholesterol be damned.


I hope you all enjoyed the interview with Kosei! I definitely can't wait to meet him in person, he is such an inspiring guy! 
want to know more? you can find him on instagram here and here!

So guys, what is your favourite dessert? are you a matcha fan like me? let me know in the comments below! 


Till next time, 
Milkteaxx 

Via Tokyo
Shop nos. 1A-1B, G/F., Leishun Court,
106-126 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay
銅鑼灣禮頓道106-126號禮信大廈地下1A-1B號舖
PH: +852 
2895 1116Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/viatokyocafe




                                             Say hi on social media, I only bite food! I can be found on Instagramfacebook, twitter and Google+