Instameal: Paldo Udon

Look for red packet / Red, an eye-catching colour / Unless they're all red

Name: Paldo Udon
Description: wad of udon noodles, two sachets. One soup base, one dehydrated vegetable.
Price: $0.90
Spiciness: 1/10
Taste: Noodles were a surprise. Usually instant-udon tends to be oily, but this one isn’t. It’s roughly the same as ramen noodles, but paler and thicker like udon. It wasn’t as spicy as it looks. As with all udon noodles, don’t overcook them, as I have. (Shown in the end product photo). I can’t remember which vegetables were in it, because it was a while ago, but there’s nothing weird in it. It’s just tasty. The negative point is the energy content, and the lack of protein. But then again, this shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Would I buy it again? Yes. I am pleasantly surprised.

Beans not included / But noodles and flavours are / Add your own veggies.

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Instameal: 60 ingredient ramen

What, six lots of ten?/ This can't possibly taste good / Challenge accepted.

Name: Can’t read Korean. It’ll be dubbed 60-ingredient ramen.
Description: Wad of ramen noodles, 2 sachets. One soup base powder, one dehydrated vegetables.
Price: $1.29
Spiciness:3/10, dry heat but doesn’t detract from the other flavours.
Taste: Noodles are egg noodles. They are on the better side of the instant ramen noodles I’ve had. Vegetables included are carrots, cabbage, shiitake mushroom, and a bit of broccoli. Broccoli. Wow. It tastes light, since it is vegetarian. It’s slightly spicy, in a slightly sweet way which is nice.
Would I buy it again? Yes. I like the sachets, the design of the packet, and the vegetable sachet is impressive. There was broccoli! It also comes in a 4-pack.

Always read units / Anastheticist must heed/ Good advice for life

I was surprised to read 475 kJ as the energy for the whole packet, and I should have been because that is extremely low for a bowl of food. It turns out it was 475 kcal, which is very different from 475 kJ. It puts the meal at about 2000 kJ, which is where most korean instant noodles are. (Due to the size.) I feel cheated.

While I was feeling cheated, I counted the ingredients. At most, it lists 55. Not 60. It’s still a formidable number.

Here’s a picture of the end product:

I feel cheated twice /Fifty-five ingredients/ Tastes pretty normal

Brunetti’s Black Forest cake

Nowadays, I have some strange food cravings. Not so much a craving in the sense ‘I must eat this or I will implode into a singularity, or ‘I will fly to the nearest major city to obtain a small crate of it, then go home’ , or ‘like a pregnant woman wants pickles’, or ‘like a woman wants icecream’, but in the sense I can read about MPTP-sensitivity in the substantia nigra in relation to Parkinson’s disease and my mental commentary would consist of ‘… and the moral of the story is… I wonder if there’s chocolate in the snacks drawer?’

That, and fruit jelly. Tim-tams, crisps, peaches, kiwi fruit icecream, and Bueno bars.

Anyway, the story is, I didn’t buy any of the above, and went home dejectedly for not having done so. Then there was, sitting in its full chocolatey glory, in a paper box, a chocolate cake. Not so much cake, as chocolate and cream. Excuse me while I cry salty tears of joy.

Where did this cake come from?
We got it from a neighbour in a food swap. We swapped Dragon Boat feast food (zong zi, as well as homemade char siu, drunken chicken, medicinal broth among other traditional sorts of food associated with Chinese feasts) with her, and she gave us a cake in return. I love food swaps. She doesn’t cook very often, especially feast foods because they are just too much for two people to consume. She lives with her husband, and he likes home cooking.

Chocolate and cream / Kirsch, cherries and light sponge cake / This is Black Forest.

Chocolate splendour / For Dragon Boat Festival / Unconventional

A chocolate prince / Remove the crown for soft bits / Mousse instead of brains

I… have no idea how to cut this cake. So I took the cones out to see if it was easier.

It was, but then there was the additional solid wall of chocolate. Make no mistake, the solid wall of chocolate is fantastic, but it is difficult to cut through.

 

Grab your silver forks / The castle walls have fallen / Pillage the insides.

But I managed, and here is the inside of the cake. Layers from the top: chocolate cone, chocolate mousse, chocolate sponge cake with kirsch, a silkier chocolate cream, cherries, more cream, chocolate sponge with kirsch.

Enough metaphors / Time to dig into this cake / Enough haikus too.

I love surprise-cake.

Instameal: Paldo Kalgukso

Hand-cut egg noodles / In light and tangy soup base / Doorway to Summer

 Name: Paldo Broad hand-cut noodle (kalgukso)
Description: wad of noodles, packet of simmer sauce.
Price: $1 thereabouts
Spiciness: 0/10
Taste: Noodles are smooth, as with many kalgukso noodles. They’re flat, about 3 mm wide and smooth. They are not as springy as egg noodles. The soup base tastes vaguely like kimchi and tomatoes. Simmer sauce should be added early, so it can actually simmer in the sauce. It removes some of the harsh edge of it. Other than that, it’s pretty tasty. It’ll be even more tasty with an egg and some vegetables. (I put in some leftover beans and broccoli.)
Would I buy it again?: Yes. Generally, I’m pretty happy with anything ‘kalgukso’.

Instameal: Samyang Kalgukso

See a kalgukso / Automatically take one / Hello hot breakfast

Name: Samyang kalgukso
Description: Wad of noodles, 2 packets (soup base, dehydrated things)
Price: $1 thereabouts
Spiciness: 2/10
Taste: Noodles are smooth, flat korean hand-cut noodles. Soup can be a bit starchy. For those who don’t like that, stir the noodles around and change water just before noodles are cooked so it can heat through again. Soup base can taste harshly spicy, like the salt content is particularly attracted to the sides of your mouth and trying to preserve them, or failing that, makes your teeth feel rubbery. Luckily, it doesn’t last very long to be an issue. Dehydrated bits contain zucchini. carrots, cabbage, spring onions, and what I think may be …. pancake? The non-starchiest plasticky pancake shred I can name as a pancake. Or maybe it’s meant to be shreds of very thin egg-crepe. I just pick those out.
Would I buy it again? Yes. I like kalgukso. I also like having multiple packets I can add to the noodles.

Empire Strikes cafe

I love this place, it’s a guaranteed good day. A good day consists of a delicious hot breakfast, preferably eaten at lunchtime, eating with a group of friends who are also eating delicious food, and being at Empire Strikes Cafe.
The food is either organic or locally sourced. The coffee (femnisto-coffee?) is made from beans sourced from an ethical group, run by Peruvian women. The service is outstanding. It’s warm and welcoming, vibrant, and unbelievably generous.
Empire Strikes cafe (now ‘ES’) is also a gallery for some funky street art. Here are some paintings.

Chillaxed artsy scene/ As expected of Brunswick/ Look at the paintings

Delicious pancakes / Icecream, bacon and syrup / Pancakes level up

Banana pancakes with icecream, bacon and maple syrup. Canadian pancakes. (Bananas are also insanely expensive at the moment. $4 a pop for organic. $2 for the standard banana. Usually I just buy regular food, but a point made at ES is that they use organic or local produce whenever they can.)

Pretty clover leaf / Four leaves to give you good luck / Good start to the day

Clover in your long mac. Also, it has 3 layers. So pretty.

The dangerous stack / Every meal should be breakfast / But that makes no sense

Live dangerously. Do the stack. This is the fabled Dangerous Stack. The plate on the right came out first, (anti-clockwise direction, starting with the toast) sesame toasted (buttered, of course), 2 poached eggs with a thick mayonnaise (It might actually be a butter-based sauce, but it is sour like mayonnaise), sliced chorizo, 2 hash browns, roasted tomatoes, herbed mushrooms, baby spinach and bacon. Then came out the plate with sausages. Huzzah! More food! I thought that was all that was coming (seeing as that is what the entire stack entails), but not so! Along came an errant plate of bacon, finding its rightful place in the world.
“Anyone missing bacon?”
Nobody was missing bacon.
“If nobody claims it, we will,” I say, jokingly.
We got the bacon. What you see in the Dangerous Stack photo, is that plate of extra bacon.

Peel and cut pumpkin / Add salt and roast til done / My work here is done

Roast pumpkin, fetta, baby spinach toastie. Roasted pumpkin was prepared just a little while ago, just before people were arriving.

Holy moly steak / Portion size is mega-huge / Need more stomach space

Steak sanga. They are the size of two burgers. The steak is done medium (not shown in the picture.).

Vegetarian / But bacon makes its way in / So, best of both worlds?

Vegetarian breakfast. Two slices of buttered sesame toast, 2 poached eggs, baby spinach, roasted pumpkin, and I think there are olives, capsicum, eggplant and onions too. There is also bacon on the top-right. (That is from the extra plate of bacon.)

There was also an Eggs Benedict. Unfortunately, no photo of that. (Repeat after me, photograph food before eating it. Or before people eat it.)

Plateful of wedges / Goes down the hatchet with dips/ I have no regrets

Wedges too. Not your ordinary wedges either. Wedges baked with bacon, tasty cheese and spring onions. Served with sour cream, and sweet chili sauce.

Whoo Cowabunga! / Ninja turtles figurines / And a biscuit tin

Every cafe needs some figurines, and a vintage biscuit tin.

Warm and generous / Fantastic food and service / Go visit them now.

The folks at ES. It’s an awesome photo.

We need to go there again.

 

Empire Cafe Gallery on Urbanspoon

Yamato

Yamato is a cosy little place we stumbled upon when looking for a place to eat. I am glad I found it. It is in a little alleyway (as with many restaurants around this city) near a looming szechuan chinese place. If you brave the prickly-but-eventually-numbing spiciness of the air surrounding the szechuan place, you are granted access to Yamato.

Inside:

Inside Yamato/Check out paper lantern lights/A world of its own

The first thing you’ll probably notice in the photo is the feature wall. But in real life, the first thing you will notice is how incredibly small the place is. (The largest table was for 4. Maybe 6, if small people squeeze in the sectioned off room and figure out a way to not elbow others in the ribs.) It’s a cosy kind of small. I like the paper screen windows, and paper lanterns. I also like the raised platform with a table behind the feature wall. It doesn’t smell of numbing spicy food inside. It doesn’t remind you it was raining outside either.

Beers for you and I / With teriyaki chicken / Drink the night away

The beer flags and pictures are a nice touch too. They say ‘Beer’ and ‘Peace’. Bottom left says ‘vacation’, and the fourth is self-explanatory.

Only the dregs left/ Take photo before eating / Otherwise all gone

We ordered Ishikari-nabe (regional specialty of Hokkaido, so you can expect food with substance in it), and tsubu-an daifuku (glutinous rice cake with smashed red bean paste— it has smooth red bean paste with bits in it). Above is a picture of the dregs of the nabe/hot pot.

It had fatty salmon, thinly sliced pork belly, tofu, carrot flowers, daikon flowers, spring onions, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, homemade fish balls, homemade surimi (white fish made into a paste) tubes coated with egg, chinese cabbage, onions, and vermicelli noodles on the bottom. Served in a pail. On a portable stove. There was plenty to be had. (I could do with a bit of sweet miso, but the soup is fairly rich already from the fish and pork.) (Damage is $16.80/pp, minimum 2 people. It is a pail, afterall.) The dregs would be better if they gave us a raw egg to stir through. Still good though. I just like to eat a lot of food, even when I am full. Is this what they call gluttony?

After that, there was mochi to be divided and devoured. It’s still warm from the portable hot stove. It’s also very good. One second it was in my hand, the next it was gone, and left me wanting more. The red bean paste (an) wasn’t too sweet, and there were enough whole beans for my liking. The mochi itself (Mochi is the rice part, and daifuku is ‘stuffed mochi’.) had a good texture, and a high water content so it dissolves quickly. (Damage for daifuku was $3.80 eaach, size of a digestive biscuit.)

Got to come back for more nabe, and daifuku. There are also other things on the menu, but it is Winter now.

 

Yamato Japanese on Urbanspoon