Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review | Pierre's Platter

On a nice weekend, my sister and my cousin went down to Mornington to visit my grandma who lives down there. My cousin suggested we go to a restaurant in a winery nearby - and my sister and I were so excited when we found out it was a Mauritian restaurant!! My whole family is of Mauritian decent - and my sister, cousin and I are all first generation kids in Australia - so we still relate very much to the culture and food of our parents.

Mauritian food has many influences - Indian, French, African, and Chinese styles of cuisine all feature throughout the native Mauritian menu, making me extra keen to see how this was represented on the menu at Pierre's Platters.

Upon my first glance of the menu, I knew I wanted to taste the Pain frit (fried bread), and after some serious discussion with my sister and cousin, we decided to share the Roasted Rib Eye, Fish Gratin, Chicken Curry and a Vegetarian Platter.

(The platters are great for sharing between a few people, but as a main meal it is recommended to have one platter per person.)

First up, the Pain frit was served, and it looked so delicious. It is served with a traditional Mauritian tomato based sauce (Rougaille) which tasted just as good as it should - exactly like I remember it from family events and street stalls in Mauritius. The fried bread is pure goodness. If you head out to Pierre's Platters, it is a must try!

Pain Frit - $7.00

While we waited for our main meals to be served, we decided to try some of the wines that were on offer from the Stumpy Gully winery - and each selected a wine to have with lunch.

Soon after, the main meals were brought out, looking so good I almost forgot to take photos! The Roasted Rib Eye was very tender, and was served with a little potato gratin, and some aioli. It was a big serve of meat, but we conquered it by dividing it into four! I added some aioli to a mouthful to find the two made a great match! The potato dish was so rich and creamy! This dish was quite filling, so I had to be sure to leave room for everything else as I didn't want to miss out on anything!

Roasted Scotch Rib Eye with Potato Gratin - $30.00

The Fish Gratin was absolutely delicious! I don't think I have tasted a fish gratin before, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. After my first taste, I was surprised to taste the creamy, cheesy sauce that was accompanying the fish, which was so soft and not too overpowering. I also would recommend sharing this dish, because it is also quite rich. The salad which was served with this dish was dressed really nicely too, which is sometimes easily forgotten. Both of these dishes were good examples of the strong French influence on Mauritian cuisine.

Fish Gratin

Next up were some more Indian style dishes - the Vegetarian Platter featured a Potato Curry and Lentils, served with roti bread, dahl pouri bread and some more of that delicious Rougaille sauce. The Potato Curry surprised me as it was actually fairly spicy - but the mix of vegetables in this curry reminded me of my mum's cooking. The lentils were amazing - I think they had been cooked with a special stock, since their flavour was just extra yum! I'm not 100% sure about that fact, but I do know lentils pretty well..

The Mauritian roti bread is quite similar to some of the roti bread available at Indian or sometimes even Thai restaurants, but it is simply more delicious when I know it is to be consumed with a Mauritian meal :) To the right of the roti bread, you will see a thinner bread which is much more yellow in colour - that is the dahl pouri bread. This bread is made from dahl (yellow split peas) which gives it a unique and very delicate texture. Dahl pouri is traditionally served with rougaille sauce, and I have vague memories from buying a dahl pouri and sauce from a little street cart on a busy Mauritian street when I was there as a child. We all commented on how delicious the dahl pouri was, and it was even more delightful with the great rougaille sauce.

Vegetarian Platter - $28.00

The last dish to try was the Chicken Curry - which was served with some more Roti bread. You might think we would have already had enough of Roti bread - but let me tell you, you can never have enough! Although it was a little oily, the curry was great - I couldn't stop myself going back to the dish for more! The chicken was so soft and tender, and had soaked in all the great flavours from the curry. I also enjoyed mixing and matching this dish with the Potato Curry and Lentils from the previous dish, to create different tasty combinations in my mouth. Yum! The little side salad was also typically Mauritian to me - the tasty vinaigrette tasted just like my dad's!

Chicken Curry with Roti

Unfortunately for us, we couldn't taste any of the desserts after lunch as my sister had bought a cake to share at my grandma's house, and we were already quite full. However, I know I can rest assured knowing that I will surely be back to visit Pierre's Platter to take my parents there, and eat more Mauritian goodness, and no doubt some dessert.

I would recommend this little restaurant to everyone! For non-Mauritians, it is a great way to taste a unique cuisine, and for Mauritians, it is a great taste of home - and everyone will be able to enjoy the gorgeous setting!

Pierre's Platter is located in the Stumpy Gully Vineyard.

Pierre's Platter on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Revisit | Chin Chin

You can read about my first visit to Chin Chin here :)

I was lucky enough to revisit Chin Chin for an early dinner before a gig in the city. My foodie partners had already scored a table pretty easily since it was pretty early, but when I arrived, I had to struggle a bit with the waitress at the door to get her to help me find our table. She was a little bit rude to me initially, but I spotted the lovely E and his brother and sister seated right by the bustling kitchen, so I was allowed to go through. From that point the service was as friendly and prompt as I remember it being on my previous visit.

Everyone was pretty hungry so we set our sights upon the menus to make our selection. Since reading Peach Water's review where she ordered the crushed ice drink, I was pretty keen to order that same drink. That day, the fruits in it were melon, mint and orange I think. I was surprised by the colour, but this drink was a very refreshing friend as our dinner progressed. The flavours were quite subtle and fresh, and the flavour of the combination of the melon, mint and coconut was great.

Crushed Coconut Ice w Melon, Mint, Orange & Vodka - $12.00

For food, we ordered the Pork Satay skewers, a Massaman curry, the Crispy Skinned Duck, and my favourite from my last visit, the Pad Seuw noodles.

The Pork Satay was served with pieces of fresh cucumber and pineapple, crushed peanuts and a 'Three Flavour sauce'. While I found the pork to be almost a little tough, I really enjoyed the taste of the sauce with all of the elements of the dish. I tasted some with cucumber, some with pineapple and some with the pork. I guessed that two of the three flavours in the sauce may have been kaffir lime and maaaybe pineapple since there were some pieces of the fruit in the bottom of the little dish.

Pork Satay - $23.00
The Massaman curry really surprised me - it was so tasty. It had a real earthy flavour. The sauce had that lovely coconut creaminess to it, and the braised beef chunks were so tender and had soaked in all of the goodness and was a delight to eat. As you can imagine, the crispy shallots and peanuts that were sprinkled over the top of the dish were also delicious. However, after a little while the sauce because just that tiny bit too rich, so I definitely recommend sharing this dish.

Massaman Curry of Coconut - $25.00

The Crispy Skinned Duck looked so pretty. The bright, fresh colours of the salad reminded me just why I loved Chin Chin so much - they are never shy with fresh herbs and zingy flavour. The salad was a pickled cucumber and ginger salad, and it was served with some sesame salt for sprinkling and some fresh lemon for extra zing. The duck... was amazing. It was so tender and juicy, and the skin was indeed very crispy. E and I discussed the duck very seriously while chomping away and we both agreed that it was more tender and flavoursome than the duck at MaBrown, even though both were served in different styles. I found that the sesame salt was not really necessary, but I did enjoy a nice sprinkling of it over the salad since it was there. The salad was good - it was so fresh, and the zingy flavours from the pickled cucumber was a good mix with the duck.

Crispy Skinned Duck - $33.00

Last but definitely not least, the Pad Seuw noodles, with braised wagyu, was just as fantastic as  I remember. This dish is a real winner. All of the ingredients are so fresh, and the sweet flavour of the meat and shallots is absolutely morish. The rice noodles, which are my favourite kind of noodles, are just so good - they had soaked up some of the delicious sweet goodness, and I was so happy that this dish was still so delicious and satisfying. YUM!

Pad Seuw - $24.00

The staff at Chin Chin are so friendly, helpful, efficient, and know the menu really well - all factors which are important to me. I was surprised on my way out to not have been sent away with at least a smile or thank you from the staff that were looking after the door, but nevertheless Chin Chin remains a delicious Melburnian food institution, and in my opinion is not overpriced, for the level of flavours, food and hospitality they produce.

Chin Chin on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Review | Ajisen Ramen

After a pretty hectic Saturday day and evening, E took me out to one of our favourite local spots for dinner to relax, and enjoy some tasty food.

Ajisen Ramen in Glen Waverley is the home of E’s favourite and most craved dish. And his yearning is for good reason – the famed dish, Ebi Mayonnaise, is unbelievable moreish and fresh, and we will be fans of it for years to come for sure.

Apart from the Ebi Mayonnaise, we also ordered a Bento each – I ordered the Tori Karaage (Chicken) Bento and E ordered the Tonkatsu (Pork) Bento. For drinks we both ordered another favourite – grape Calpico soda. This drink is a must try – it is devilishly sweet and grapey. Sooooo good!!

Grape Calpico - $3.80 (Thanks to E for styling this photo!)

Back to the Ebi! This dish is made up of perfectly crispy fried prawns, on a bed of salad, laced with sweet Japanese mayonnaise. The flavour of the prawns is so true, and the crispy layer surrounding them makes for the perfect combination of textures with the silky mayonnaise and refreshing salad. This dish is definitely a winner in both of our books.. I’m salivating as I write this up, and thinking of the next possible chance for me to sample some more goodness.. hmm.. maybe on the weekend?

Ebi Mayonnaise - The best $9.00 you'll ever spend!

The Bento boxes came out soon after – each with massively generous servings!! Each Bento was made up of a compartment of steamed rice, some salad, 2 gyoza, a teriyaki tasting chicken and spring onion skewer, and our meat – Tori Karaage for me and Tonkatsu for E. The chicken skewer was really delicious – the meat was very tender, and the flavour was great! This really surprised me since it was just a small part of the Bento, and not the main feature. The gyoza were also good, and although the gyoza at Shyun was just that extra bit tastier, it didn’t stop me from downing both of them :D. The salad was quite similar to the salad under the Ebi Mayonnaise – so you know how I feel about that! Delicious and refreshing!

The Tori Karaage pieces had a great kick to them – the batter coating them was so crispy and reminded me a little of KFC (in a good way), and in the cooking process had kept the chicken so tender, so it was so soft to eat.

Tori Karaage Bento - $13.80

E’s Tonkatsu pieces were also tasty and he gobbled them all up. I was so full by this stage that I didn’t really touch any of the rice. E thought maybe Ajisen could serve the rice in one of the smaller segments of the Bento box, but we were both impressed that the serve was so big.

Tonkatsu Bento - $12.80

After a mess of a day, it had been a perfect night at Ajisen. The staff are all exceptionally efficient and polite, and are very quick using their PDAs to take our orders. We will definitely be back to enjoy Ajisen and no doubt more Ebi Mayonnaise and all its glory.

Ajisen Ramen on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 10, 2012

Recipe | Blueberry Friand Slice

Mum had been wanting me to use some of the delicious frozen blueberries we had in the freezer, so on a sunny Sunday when I had nothing much else to do, I was very happy to oblige!

I found this recipe online, and it sounded perfect. It was so easy to make, and it was so good I forgot to sprinkle icing sugar over the top of it when it had cooled from the oven!

1 1/4 cups icing sugar mixture
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
150g margarine spread or butter, melted, cooled
4 eggwhites, lightly whisked
150g frozen blueberries
Icing sugar mixture, to serve

Preheat your oven to 180°C or 160°C if your oven is fan-forced. Grease a slice tray- the recipe used a 16cm x 26cm. I'm not exactly sure how big the one I used was - but it may have been a bit bigger than that size, and there was no dramas. Line the tray with baking paper, or alternatively (if you have 3cm of baking paper left on the roll), rub butter into the tray, being sure not to forget the corners and edges.

Sift sugar, flour and baking powder into a large bowl, and then stir in the almond meal and lemon rind. I couldn't find our teaspoon measure (I'm so organised!) so I just used the rind of a normal size lemon.

Make a well in centre and add in the spread/butter and eggwhite. Stir it altogether until it is nicely combined. Then, pour the mixture into your prepared tray. Evenly sprinkle the frozen blueberries around the tray. I kind of failed with the 'evenly' part, but I think I managed to make it look nice in the end!

Ready for the oven!

Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Lift out onto a wire rack to cool. Cut into pieces. Dust with icing sugar (ahem, optional!). Serve. Eat!

Let me know if you try this out! :)

Review | Shyun

E and I love the freshness of Japanese food, and we have wanted to try Carnegie’s Shyun restaurant since hearing about it.

The restaurant itself is actually quite small, there were probably only about 12 tables in the front, but it turns out they have another section with additional seating. They would need it too – the place was so busy, with both reservations and walk in groups coming in for dinner.

E knew exactly what he was going to order, so I decided to focus on some basic favourites of mine in Japanese restaurants. E ordered the Chirashi and a Seaweed salad, and I ordered some Gyoza and a regular Sashimi plate.

The service was fantastic throughout the night – our meals came out super quickly, and the staff were very friendly and polite. The cold dishes came out within a few minutes of each other after we had ordered. We had a table that was close to the two gentlemen preparing the Sushi & Sashimi dishes, so I was able to watch them carefully, and very nimbly sculpt the fresh pieces of fish into perfect rose shapes. It was mesmerising!

The seaweed salad was so tasty – I don’t think I have ever tasted it before, which surprised E very much. It had a really nice flavour – so fresh – and no hint of bitterness at all. I really loved the consistency of the seaweed – it was solid yet almost gelatinous, and kept me entertained like a little girl! The colour was also fantastic! So green! I love green :D

Seaweed Salad - $5.00

My little sashimi plate was so cute and delicately laid out onto the plate. I felt I needed to be respectful to the salmon, so I unravelled it from its rose ever so slowly, a petal at a time. All of the sashimi was incredibly fresh, and melted in my mouth. It was so tender and just plain amazing – it reminded me why I loved sashimi!

Regular Sashimi - $9.00

The Gyoza had a really great taste, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it was something different and more delicious than your average gyoza dumpling. The skin/wrapper of each was so delicate, you can see in the photo, a little bit of one had been ripped. I felt sorry for that little dumpling so I ate it first! Om nom nom. The rest of them didn’t have too long to wait either!

Gyoza (5) - $5.00

E’s Chiarashi bowl had a really great mix of sashimi, served on sushi rice. Yum! He really enjoyed this, and it was also pretty good value! I tasted one of his prawns and it was just as good as I was expecting. E was really impressed with the immaculate presentation of his dish, and in awe of the chef’s knife skills, cutting up each tasty morcel perfectly.

Chirashi - $17.90

If we go back to Shyun, I would love to taste the black sesame icecream for dessert. E and I will probably be back for more goodness, armed with some friends so we can try out even more food!

Shyun on Urbanspoon