Tag Archives: Thai

Cookie

22 Jan

Cookie
252 Swanston street, Melbourne

This month it was Kieren and Sam’s turn to pick the restaurant and they went with Cookie. I’d heard about Cookie but never been, and what I didn’t realise was that even though it’s a restaurant, it has much more of a bar vibe to it. So if you go expecting restaurant-level noise (like James and I did!) you will find it way too loud. We had to talk really loudly to be heard by the person next to us, which I don’t really like doing.

The service was friendly, but man it took forever. They were super busy, so it took about 45 minutes from when we sat down to when we first got to eat. Luckily they had a pretty comprehensive beer list.

James ordered a Hitachino Nest white ale, which was really expensive – something like $12 – but he really enjoyed.

I ordered a blackcurrant and apple cider. Everyone thought it tasted like blackcurrant juice, but I liked it! You can see Howie holding up the menu to try and provide me with a picturesque background. =)

For his main James ordered hot pork sausage, pork belly, relishes, vegetables and sticky rice ($26.50). James really loved this (though to the left you can see that there was a mysterious giant lump of cabbage as a garnish), especially the hot pork sausage. He gave me a nibble of the pork sausage and OMG it was so spicy.

He wasn’t overly impressed with the sticky rice portion of the meal though. It wasn’t as soft as the sticky rice you get at Chinese restaurants, and it’s a bit disconcerting just having plain sticky rice. He didn’t finish this.

He also ordered some roti ($3.50) which was standard roti, though the portions were smaller than you’d get at most Malaysian/Thai restaurants. I guess that’s the price you pay for going to a trendy restaurant!

I ordered the soft shell crab with garlic and pepper and fish broth ($29.50). I’m a sucker for soft shell crab – if I see it on the menu I have to order it. This was full of flavour, and a surprisingly decent-sized portion.

The broth in the fish broth was nice, but the actual fish was really dry and unpleasantly old-tasting.

I also ordered some coconut rice ($3.50). Since three of us ordered coconut rice they put all of it on one plate (so don’t get too excited about how much of it there is). This was good coconut rice – much better than the coconut rice we had at Omah’s, but not as good as the coconut rice from Ying Thai 2.

I wanted dessert afterwards, but looking through the dessert menu, pretty much all the options were uninspiring. I’m just not a fan of Asian style desserts I guess.

While the food was nice, Ying Thai 2 remains my favourite Thai restaurant – the food being both better and cheaper. I wouldn’t be opposed to coming back to Cookie for the bar – at least then I’m prepared for it to be loud and crowded and for the service to be a bit slow. But I like to chat and be relaxed at restaurants, and Cookie’s not really the sort of place you can do that.
Cookie on Urbanspoon

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Isthmus of Kra

28 Oct

Isthmus of Kra
50 Park street, South Melbourne

This time it was Joan and Damo’s pick and they went with Isthmus of Kra, a Thai restaurant in South Melbourne.

We started off with drinks at Damo and Joan’s new apartment. They broke out some Bollinger for us, and it was fantastic – apparently the bready, almost savoury taste is classic Bollinger.

After drinks we walked to the restaurant. My heart sank a little when I saw the dim lighting inside cos I knew that was going to fuck with my photos. Also we were pretty much the only people there, which is a bit ominous for an inner-city restaurant on Saturday night.

We went with something called the Saffron banquet, which was $65 a head.

The first course to come out was the Tom Yum soup. I think my soup must have been from the bottom of the pot because it had a higher cabbage and lemongrass to soup ratio than everyone else’s. I should have taken a photo of another one because my soup is pretty ugly and didn’t reflect its tastiness. This Tom Yum seemed heavier on the sour and lighter on the hot than others I’ve had, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it.

The next three courses came out together. From the top going clockwise: Cassava Mushroom Pillows, Steamed Blue Dumplings, and Quail Secret.

The blue dumplings were definitely the most striking. I’ve never seen blue dumplings before, and I reckon these are a must-get just because they’re so unusual. They are filled with caramelized minced beef, but they’re really tiny so you don’t get much beef.

The mushroom pillows were fairly bland – I could taste the seaweed, beancurd, and a had a general impression of earthiness. Supposedly it came with a wasabi herbal salsa but I don’t remember it.

The Quail Secret was my favourite. I loved the sour pickles, and the quail was succulent.

The rest of the main courses arrived at once. This is the King Prawn Laksa.

We were keen to try the red roast duck curry, and although it wasn’t part of the banquet Isthmus Kra let us substitute it for the duck salad. It makes sense to substitute duck for duck, but in hindsight I think it would have worked better if we’d substituted for one of the curries. We had a lot of curries, and they kind of blended into each other, and I wouldn’t have minded a nice, light salad course somewhere in there.

No complains about the duck curry though, it was probably my favourite of the lot.

I loved the roti that came with it all. It was light, flaky and not too oily.

This is the Chicken Pad Horm – chicken wok-singed with anise basil, cashews and Asian greens, with a mild garlic basil paste. I remember enjoying this one at the time, but a week later and I can’t remember what it tasted like so it can’t have left that strong an impression.

The Beef Krabi was slow cooked rump beef in a mixed spice stock which was then braised in a coconut reduction. I liked the sauce but I wasn’t crazy about the texture of the meat – some parts I got were a bit stringy.

Thanks to Damo we managed to polish everything off. I was pretty surprised at how full I was feeling towards the end. Luckily I’d managed to save a bit of room for dessert. We got two desserts, the first of which was a Black Rice Mango Pudding. In general I’m not a fan of rice-based desserts, but this was OK.

The home-made ice creams were much better! Clockwise from left they were: chocolate ripple (like a cookies and cream), mango, and gingerbread. Everyone seemed to prefer the gingerbread, but after such a heavy meal the lightness of the mango really hit the spot for me.

We were given a choice of coffees and various teas to drink after dinner. I chose peppermint, which was soothing though not as nice as the Middle Eastern ones, which are now my benchmark for peppermint teas.

Thanks to Howie and Damo’s Entertainment Book we got a discount, and it came to $120 per couple. It was an enjoyable meal overall, but I think it was expensive for what we got. It was about twice as expensive as Ying Thai 2, and although the atmosphere and service were better I don’t think the food was.

Admittedly it’s a tricky price range to work in – not expensive enough to bring in exotic ingredients and get all arty with the food, but expensive enough that it needs to be something special to make it worth returning. And in my opinion, while there’s nothing wrong with the food, Isthmus of Kra just isn’t interesting enough for a return visit.
Isthmus of Kra on Urbanspoon

Thai Green Curry Chicken Drumsticks

24 Oct

This recipe has been in my regular rotation for awhile because it’s really easy to prepare and tastes much unhealthier than it actually is. When I eat it my tastebuds are like “omnomnom, this is a nice break from healthy food”, and then I realise that this is healthy food but the tastebuds are like “pft, no way” (Way!)

I think I’ll start toying around with different cuts since drumstick isn’t my favourite (the bone keeps jabbing me in the face when I try to eat around it).

I’ve tried the salad that’s included in the original recipe but it’s no good, so I usually serve this with some steamed vegetables or bok choy.

Ingredients

  • 9 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup Thai green curry paste
  • 2 TBSP desiccated coconut
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP water

Method

  1. Cut 3 deep slits in each drumstick
  2. Place curry paste, coconut, sugar and water in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add chicken and season with salt. Stir to coat and leave to marinate in the fridge several hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 200C.
  4. Place chicken in a single layer on a baking tray or baking dish. Bake for 50 minutes.

Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
1 serve (3 drumsticks):  580 calories, 52% fat, 39% protein, 9% carbs

New Cookbooks

20 Jul

Last week someone made about $8000 of fraudulent charges on my credit card (and the Citibank guy was able to confirm that it was indeed my card, and not James’) so both of us have to have new credit cards issued.

In the week before our replacement cards arrived I, rather perversely, spent a large chunk of time browsing online for stuff I want.

When we received the cards, my pent up shopping lust overflowed and I bought:

Thai Food (£15.89)

image from Amazon

I have Thai Street Food which is also by David Thompson (a Christmas gift from Scott!) and it’s so good that I also forked out for his other Thai cookbook. But that was was mainly an impulse purchase to get free super saver shipping from Amazon UK by spending over £25, and what I mainly wanted was Ottolenghi: The Cookbook (£13.74).

There are a few more things that I want to buy, like a replacement fountain pen, some make-up brushes, a pearl necklace (I don’t know why I thought googling “Asian wearing black pearl necklace” was a good idea), and some new clothes, but this will do me for now. Expect some new recipes when these two arrive! =)

Tom Phat

30 Mar

Tom Phat
184 Sydney Road Brunswick

James’ colleague from Optus, Hussam, and his family were visiting Melbourne for the Grand Prix, and wanted to have brunch with us. They were staying in Fawkner, so I suggested we go to Tom Phat on Sydney Rd, which has been on my to-do list for awhile.

Hussam and his wife were lovely, and they really really loved Melbourne. (James said that yesterday at work, Hussam was gushing about how awesome Melbourne was, and his boss got worried). They said they like the cafe culture of Melbourne, and how the houses are more affordable. They asked about house prices in the Fawkner area, and luckily Cat had been looking in North Coburg so I actually had some stats handy!

But anyway, to breakfast!

James got his usual long black to begin with. I didn’t take a photo of it. Though if any coffee manages to topple Seven Seeds from the top of his list I’ll take a picture. I ordered a Coffee Craze ($6.80), which was on the online menu (which apparently is a bit out of date) and not on the regular menu, but they still made it. I don’t know why I thought I would like it – I don’t drink coffee! Thankfully James was a big fan, so I gave it to him.

(Sorry all my shots are kind of crap. We were right up the back and it was really dark there)

James ordered the fried viet eggs ($9.90). He said they were nice, though he wasn’t wowed.

I felt kind of bad because my order of the roti omelette (12.90) was indescribably better. So. Much. Better. I can see why it was the Cheap Eats 2007 Breakfast of the Year (yes I am somewhat behind the times). It’s so different from Melbourne’s regular breakfast offerings, but still noticeably breakfasty.

It had bacon, chives, and a tomato salsa that definitely had fish sauce as one of the ingredients. And it was huge! I kept giving bits of it to James because I felt bad (he also wanted the roti omelette but I told him I’d bagsed it first) and I was still full afterwards.

Looking around, the roti omelette seemed like the dish to order – almost every second or third person had one.

I’d like to go back – maybe for lunch – I was intrigued by the chilli jam noodles. If we went back for breakfast, I would totally grab the roti omelette again, and this time I would let James have one too (sorry James!)
Tom Phat on Urbanspoon

David Thompson’s Grilled Pork Skewers

4 Feb

A couple of years ago, Scott bought me David Thompson’s Thai Street Food for Christmas. I’ve been eyeing the grilled pork skewers for awhile, and decided to make them the other day when I had some leftover coriander roots.

It’s supposed to make enough for 4-5 people. Maybe it’s enough for 4-5 Thai people, but James and I polished it off between the two of us.

I normally find pork to be bland, but the marinade for this is awesome. It’s simple (and easy to throw together) but quite smoky and if I bought this in Thailand I would not be disappointed. I didn’t use a charcoal grill like the book recommended, but I thought the Weber did fine.

I served it on a bed of bok choy and grilled eggplant.

Ingredients

  • 300g pork loin or neck
  • 1 tsp cleaned and chopped coriander roots
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 TBSP shaved palm sugar
  • dash of dark soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP fish sauce
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil

Method

  1. Slice the pork into thinnish pieces about 2cm square.
  2. Using a pestle and mortar pound the coriander root, salt, garlic and pepper into a fine paste. Combine with the sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce and oil. Marinate the pork in this mixture for about 3 hours.
  3. David Thompson’s recipe has you grilling it over charcoal, but I just grilled for a couple of minutes each side over gas.

 

Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
1 serve: 389 calories, 47% fat, 36% protein, 17% carbs

Thai Beef Cheeks in the Slow Cooker

20 Jan

And now for the recipe that keeps overflowing my slow cooker, but is so incredibly tasty that I continue to make it. It is so tasty that I am willing to spend $180 (in gift cards – but it’s still money!) to buy a slow cooker that will enable me to eat this more often.

I found this recipe on a Melbourne food blog, The Hungry Lawyer. The initial prep is a bit more complicated than I normally use for slow cookers – there’s a lot of chopping and measuring, and I always forget how much extra work it is, and allocate myself 10 minutes when I actually need closer to 20 or 30.

It’s supposed to serve 6, but I find it actually serves 4 (even if I buy an extra beef cheek), maybe because James and I are pigs and take giant serves of beef. I could stretch it out to 6 meals, but that would mean less delicious meat. Easier just to buy a bigger slow cooker so I can make more cheeks at a time (Me justifying a new slow cooker: “yes, but when you consider it in terms of cheeks per minute …”)

To cut down on prep get the butcher to trim the cheeks for you. The first time I made these I did it myself – first of all, it was gross because cheeks are pretty ugly, and second of all, it took forever. Yes, I do need to sharpen my knives. But it’s still easier to get the butcher to do it.

Even after trimming, it’s not a super lean cut of meat. If you’ve ever had those Asian stews where the meat melts in your mouth because they’ve used a nice fatty cut of meat, that’s what these cheeks feel like. Some people don’t like that mouthfeel, but stewy meat reminds me of mumfood, which I always find comforting. The beef in the picture is a particularly fatty piece – most of the cheeks were leaner than that.

Also the sauce this makes it incredible. Like James will lift the plate to his lips and slurp it down.

Ingredients

  • 5 or 6 beef cheeks, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 large brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cm piece galancal, sliced into thin matchsticks
  • 4 cm piece ginger, sliced into thin matchsticks (Note: If you cannot source galangal, just double the amount of ginger used)
  • 2 lemongrass stems (pale part only), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup tamarind paste (Note: I used something called tamarind puree, hoping it was the same thing, and it seemed to work fine)
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • small handful of coriander stems (roots and all), thouroughly washed to remove all dirt and grit and finely chopped
  • 3 hot chillies, thinly sliced
  • 3 or 4 kaffir lime leaves, crush in your hands before adding to the dish to release the lime oils
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 3 cups water (Note: I add 1.5-2 cups because of my small slow cooker and it’s fine)

Method

  1. Place the sliced onions, lemongrass, chilli, galangal, ginger, garlic, coriander stems and crushed kaffir lime leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker.
  2. Slice each beef cheek into two even sized pieces. Coat each piece of meat in the seasoned flour.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy based pan over medium-high heat. In batches, brown the beef for 2 or 3 minutes on each side until crispy and golden brown. Make sure that your beef is well browned to ensure that it does not look grey and unappetising after slow cooking.
  4. Arrange the browned beef cheeks on top of the sliced vegetables.
  5. Add tamarind paste, brown sugar, fish sauce and water to the slow cooker.
  6. Cook on the slow cooker’s ‘Low Setting’ for 8 hours. I personally like to start the cooking on ‘High’ for an hour or two, then reduce the heat to ‘Low’. (Note: If you don’t have a slow cooker, you could cook this dish in a casserole dish in the oven on 170 degrees for 3 hours and 30 minutes).

(Sorry, no macro breakdown because my calorie counter doesn’t have beef cheeks listed and I am too lazy to go hunting around. My guess is mostly fat and protein, very little carb. Higher in calories than a cut like chuck because it’s fattier)