Chinese New Year celebrations are still going strong, and one way to celebrate is to indulge in hotpot or steamboat. Traditionally, there is a communal pot of broth in which everyone cooks their food, but a new style of hotpot is hitting our shores where each person has their own, albeit smaller, pot of broth.
ipot is where we first encounter these individual hotpots. While we are all still seated around a communal table, in front of each person is an induction cooktop that is controlled on the side of the table. We order a soup base each and when it is brought out to us, the induction cooktop gets into gear and starts to heat up our soup.
While you wait for your soup to boil, make your way to the front of the restaurant where there is a whole wall of sauces for you to choose from! With some suggestions at the back of the menu in hand, we go a little crazy with the number of sauces and mixing up the combinations – but it’s all part of the fun :)
When we return, our individual pots are simmering away nicely and ready for cooking. Here is some of the food that we ate: Continue reading ipot, Sydney→
I had seriously been looking forward to our meal at Bo Innovation in Hong Kong. Apart from its numerous accolades like 2 Michelin stars and being ranked as the 52nd best restaurant in the world, I was particularly intrigued by chef Alvin Leung’s “X-treme Chinese” cuisine. The “X-treme” cuisine label is enough to make me sceptical, but I was surprised by how traditional Chinese dishes were given a modern twist with molecular gastronomy techniques to create a unique and innovative dish.
The elevator that takes us up to the dining area opens up to a small balcony garden where diners can sit and enjoy the sunshine. We’re taken to a table in the inside dining room, which features white tablecloths, sheer satin drapes and an open kitchen where you can see the chefs at work. For lunch, there are two menus on offer: the Lunch Chef Menu which is a degustation affair ($HKD780; around $AUD97 at the time) or the Bo Set Lunch which allows the diner to choose an entree and main, and includes a set starch and dessert ($HKD228; around $AUD28 at the time). We opt for the latter, and choose different dishes so we can sample as much of the menu as possible.
We are allowed to select 2 items per person from their list of Dim Sum or Classic “Bo” Dishes as an entree. We indicate that we are sharing the entrees and the waitstaff kindly bring out some small plates, chopsticks and a knife and fork for us to split the dishes. The cauliflower risotto is quite unexpected as the waitress explains that the risotto is actually little nubbins of cauliflower. Bits of black truffle are mixed throughout and the risotto sits in a pool of rich duck jus which provides most of the flavour of the dish.
So earlier this year I went on a little trip back to the motherland: Hong Kong! I was actually born in Sydney but the parentals are from Hong Kong and I do have some (limited) knowledge of Cantonese – enough for me to stumble my way through speaking to shop assistants and ordering food. The last time I visited Hong Kong was back in the pre-blogging days and so this was the first time I really went out of way to seek out great food in the city.
Of course the first place that made my list was the infamous Tim Ho Wan – one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants. We went here with some of my Hong Kong-residing relatives and it seems they have found the trick of how to get a table at Tim Ho Wan without queueing! We visited the Sham Shui Po branch for dinner (the original is located in Mong Kok) and didn’t have to wait at all. Possibly because yum cha food is typically not eaten at dinnertime, but who’s fussed about that when you’ve just escaped 2 hour+ queues to eat at a Michelin-starred establishment?
It’s still quite busy when we get inside but we’re quickly ushered to our table and orders are taken by indicating the quantity of the items you want on a piece of paper. The food comes out quickly and before we know it, we’ve got a whole host of yum cha favourites on our table, waiting to be eaten.
You can’t go to Tim Ho Wan without ordering the baked BBQ pork bun. Different to your regular char siu bao, these ones have a sweet filling of char siu encased by a pastry exterior and are topped with a sweet baked crust on top. It was like eating an almond croissant with a filling of BBQ pork, with the buttery pastry tasting almost croissant-like.
Isn’t she adorable? This steamed sesame “piggy face” bun is one of the desserts on offer at Chef’s Gallery, a handmade noodle and dumpling house located near Town Hall. Like many other dumpling houses in Sydney, there is an ongoing kitchen theatre with the chefs stretching out balls of dough into noodles and pleating dumplings for your viewing pleasure behind the glass walls of the kitchen.
I have a soft spot for fried Chinese buns so I’m interested to try the pandan flavoured yin si juan with its lurid green innards. Though it glistens on the outside, the exterior is still soft and doesn’t have the doughnutty texture that I love in fried bread. And despite the green colour it lacks a distinct pandan flavour so it basically just tastes like plain bread. Sadness.
The fried rice is much better and this may quite possibly be the tastiest fried rice I’ve tasted. Who knew that the addition of three types of egg (chicken egg, salted duck egg and century egg) could lift the humble fried rice to new heights? The rice is fluffy and I love the random bursts of salty flavour from the salted duck egg.
The newest addition to Chatswood’s Eat Street is one that you can smell from a few blocks away. Hang around the Railway Street side of Chatswood station and you will notice the lingering smell of charcoal and spices. Yep, that’s Crazy Wings you can smell, the restaurant right next to Mamak serving crazy meat, crazy vegies and even crazy honey toast – all on a stick.
We order some drinks in preparation for a chilli onslaught. Captain Awesome selects the interesting “Hot Kid Milk Beverage” which comes in a cute mini can and is filled with sweetened milk. The rest of us go for more mainstream items such as the mango blended ice and peach blended ice.
You can’t go to Crazy Wings without ordering their crazy wings and so we order three of the seven flavour options available. The honey soy is more honey than soy but nevertheless still juicy and flavoursome.