Wednesday, 30 June 2010

North East China Family @ Flinders Lane, Melbourne

One Friday afternoon, Funnyman and I decided to go out for lunch...

It was before the weather turned ice cold on us, but we were craving for quick Chinese... dumplings were the best option we could think of, so off we went... in search of the back streets of Flinders Lane...

We had both noticed (on separate occasions) that North East China Family was always busy and crowded during lunch hour, so based on that, we assumed that this was a good sign...

ASS-of-U-an-ME was what became of this visit...we were seated (with a group of 5 strangers), and were told that if we wanted pan fried dumplings, there would be a 30 minute wait... so with that ominous warning, we went with two steamed dumplings...

We decided to order the Chicken and Prawn Dumplings (15 pieces) $ 11 and the Pork and Crab Dumplings (15 pieces) $12... or as Funnyman called it, our Farmyard meets seafood dishes...

We were getting really excited (both very hungry as it was) and the fact that this place was so busy and full must have meant that the food was fantastic! (There was a line forming at the entrance, it was a Friday after all)...

Unfortunately, the excitement stops there... after waiting for 45 minutes and hailing the waitresses (who couldn't seem to communicate very well) and asking them three times (on separate occasions) how much longer it'd take, and with our lunch hour long past gone, we were forced to do the inevitable...

We walked out... on empty stomachs and the feeling of being cheated and unsatisfied...

Unhappy with that result, the following Tuesday (12pm sharp), Funnyman and I made our return...

And boy what a difference the service was on a normal weekday...

We were seated upstairs, and placed our order (we placed our order immediately upon being seated as we didn't want to waste any time)...

Our food arrived in 5 minutes!!!

Now if I had done this food review visit on a normal weekday, I would have given this an entirely different rating...

However, having had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde experience with this place... I've been given an honest insight to the running of this establishment...

Service aside, the dumplings were nothing to shout about. Sure, they were good dumplings. But were they great dumplings? Dumplings that would make the Emperor of the Qing or Ming dynasty come back for more?

Definitely not. No where near the quality of dumplings from Hutong Dumpling Bar in the city, nor even the dumplings from Auntie's Dumplings in Carnegie... (Which reminds me, that I have to do a review there soon, I keep putting it off, because it doesn't need a review!)

Edible...But that's about it.

Would I come back for more? Maybe.. but definitely not during lunchtime on a Friday... I'm not too sure why the others keep coming back...

*Disclaimer: All food ratings are purely based on my own experiences and how I feel about the service, food and quality

Food/ Cuisine: Northern Chinese (Specialty: Dumplings)
Dining Style: Restaurant/ Canteen/ Asian Coffee Shop (Share Tables)
Overall Food Rating (Based on the Dining style): 5/10
Restaurant ambiance: 4/10 (I think I'm being too nice)
Service/ Attitude: 4/10
Value for money: 5/10

302 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000

Tel:(03) 9629 9968

North East China Family
is open
Mon-Fri from 12.00pm-3.00pm & 5.00-9.00pm
Saturday 5.00-9.00pm

How to get there:

View Larger Map

North East China Family on Urbanspoon

Monday, 28 June 2010

Teenage love affair

One day, a boy went to college as he does everyday. Except that this day was different, he was paying attention.

He noticed a girl that he hadn't noticed before. They were friends, but today, there was something "extra" special about her. She was stirring up feelings that he didn't think existed.

Together with a group of friends, he decided to pursue her and confess his feelings for her.

Unfortunately, he moved too fast and he was rejected.

He didn't give up. He couldn't give up.

Slowly he built that trust that she craved. He knew not what he'd do if she rejected him again.

It was the longest few months of his life.

One weekend, he whisked her away, and dared to ask her to be with him again. He promised her to love her forever and to never hurt her. To forever make her laugh and be happy.

He promised her with 101 roses which he wrapped and prepared himself.

With every thorn that pricked his finger, he made a silent wish that she would say "yes".

They were 18 years old.

9 years later, we're celebrating that love, trust and friendship created during that time.

Exasperating at times, he is still keeping that promise.

Happy Anniversary to the Boy and I.

I love you.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Aii yaii yaii... arrribbbaaaaaa... Les Petit Truffe

Read this blog post title and just picture a chef (any chef) wearing a Mexican hat and screaming in the French kitchen... just picture it...

The Boy wanted to finish up some ingredients in pantry/fridge/freezer/kitchen (he was going to cook all my food)...

We were going to have a "rubbish night!".. you know... the night where you can't be bothered and just eat sausages, chips, pizza...drink lots of coke...

Except that, this is the Boy's take on his "rubbish" night =)

First dish was a thinly sliced aubergine (brinjal/eggplant) which he baked in the oven drizzled with olive oil.

Roughly chopped and fried some chorizo to put on the topping... served with chorizo oil and garlic crisps...

Chorizo done 3 ways... one with Japanese Mayo, one with tomato relish and one with gherkin.... served with preserved capers

Lastly, hash browns served with thinly sliced swiss brown mushrooms, sliced chorizo

Together with burnt sage and crisp Serrano ham (I nearly murdered him when I found out what he did with the Serrano... but it was so crispy and delicious... I just glared at him for 2 minutes)

And that my friends, is how you make a "Meh" night to a "Glam" night!!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Lamb Patties Recipe

Hello folks!

This is a simple recipe which I made up and have decided to share as it was soooo good... I'm going to eat it for the whole of next week's lunch at work!

Lamb Patties - Cheat version =)

Problem is, I never measure my ingredients when I'm cooking, so this is the recommended recipe (by me) *fingers crossed*

500g of lamb mince
1 large shallot finely diced (depends on how much onion you want really)
2 cloves of garlic finely diced
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 tablespoon of Gourmet Garden mint (I'm using what I got from the Good Food and Wine =))
1 tablespoon of Gourmet Garden rosemary
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (I might have put a bit more, feel for the consistency)

Mix ingredients all together well with your hands (the fun bit!)

Roll up about 6 medium-large meat balls and flatted with your hands... kids would have so much fun doing this...

You can store them in the freezer as well, just separate with baking paper and keep them in a zip lock bag...

Serve with a fresh salad of mix leaves, mushrooms, and feta cheese...


On it's own with some feta on a English Muffin...

You can pretty much eat it however you want... I had mint on one day with a bun, feta the next with English Muffin on it's own...

The power is yours!!

p/s obviously cook the lamb patties before serving.. heat up some olive oil in the pan and fry until cook (About 2 mins on each side)

Now go cook!

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Good Food & Wine Show - Melbourne, Part II

This continues from the last post.

After our big lunch, we wandered off to the free cooking theatre (Good Food Magazine)... to see Manu cook up a storm...

He was really charming (just like on TV and I've had a tiny crush on him since Ready, Steady, Cook days in uni)...

At one point, he asked the crowd, "Any of you watch My Kitchen Rules? Good... why would you want to watch 3 fat man instead of two handsome one's eh?"... saying that this was a running joke with him and the Masterchef "boys"

Taking a pot shot at Masterchef... to my delight... they (all the celeb chefs) appear to be good friends anyway...

We wandered over to the Border's Book Signing area next and took a few snaps of Gary and George doing their 'thang...

(The book signing session times)

At this point, I was wanting to buy heaps of food and ingredients, but they Boy wouldn't let me... at the pretense of going to see Gary and George at the Border's booth, the Boy went to line up at the celebrity iLive theater and was cheekily grinning from ear to ear...

Turns out, he had bought tickets for us to see Matt Moran's cooking show... titled Matt's Favourite Things

Cheeky fella...

So I was really excited and happy that we managed to get seats for the show, as all other shows were fully booked, with the Boy saying that George and Gary's show was sold out!

I didn't care as I was happy anyway with the surprise of Matt Moran... That's Lucy the Lamb on stage with him...

And man can that Chef disect a lamb really quickly (yes, the whole bloody lamb!) And he was giving out each piece of the lamb to audiences on the floor... shoulder, leg, neck, etc... everything!!!

He then called up some lucky sods from the audience (floor and further back) to be participants on stage to eat his food... he was trying to matchmake people, and the reward was, if the couple hit it off on the show and got together, he would throw in $500 to spend in his restaurant Aria in Sydney...


(The happy couples)

Matt was suave and a big comedian... often putting his foot in his mouth and apologising for it... it was really fun! Quick like Jamie's (Oliver) show which I went to a couple of months back... fun!!!

At the end of the show, I was ridiculously happy and the day could not get better! (Or so I thought!)... walking out... the Boy and I were making a list of things that we should buy.. he wouldn't let me buy a lot of things, saying that we will be walking around and he didn't want to lug the items around... fair enough...

I didn't suspect a thing... when he said he needed to go to the Gents... I followed him towards the exit as the toilets were located outside... and he sneaked into the iLive celebrity theater line again!!!!!!!!!!!!

He had somehow gotten us tickets to the SOLD OUT show of Gary and George's Your Place or Mine show!!!

When the two chef's walked out, it was pandemonium... quite akin to Rock Stars coming out to their concert stage.. it was phenomenal... of course, I added to the din and hullabaloo...

Their show concept was simple... partly to promote Masterchef and partly to promote their new book coming out at the end of the year... where they will demonstrate how to cook 40 different ingredients cooked via Gary's and George's own respective styles... (So that's 80 recipes!)

They have an amazing rapport on stage... and spent a lot of time making fun of Matt Preston (only because he wasn't there to bite back)...

I was jumping up and down on my seat trying my best to be picked to go up on stage (we were 5 rows away)... and still missed out!

At the end, they brought out the team of chef's and apprentice who were "behind the scenes" at their restaurant booths and the back stage preparation ....

(Gary and I during last year's Taste of Melbourne... I'm milking this picture for all it's worth!)

And finally, as that was the last show of the weekend, I could finally walk out of the theatre knowing that there wouldn't be anymore surprises and could happily shop with no interruption...

The great thing about leaving the shopping at the very last minute, was the extra bargains that came our way...

We got 6 tubes of herbs from Gourmet Garden for $6 (originally 3 for $6)...
Ayam Brand sauces 5 for $10 instead of 4 for $10 (including free recipe books, 2 sets of bowls, chopsticks and spoons)
3 rose juices for $12 instead of $15
3 packets of Luv'A Duck for $20 instead of $16.50 each!
A bottle of coffee Bailey's (new) for $25
A jar of Yarra Valley salmon roe for $15
and a Masterchef (1 year) subscription for $38 with a free Masterchef Junior kit

All in all a good haul.. and a fantastic Surprise gift from the Boy...

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Good Food & Wine Show - Melbourne, Part I

Good morning Melbourne (and the globe, to whoever is reading this elsewhere!)... Apologies on the lack of postings.. I've been so bogged down with work and everything else.. but I have RETURNED!!! (All hail!)

On the first weekend of June (4th-6th) and on that Sunday, the Boy had a surprise prepared for me...

(George Colambaris's restaurant meals)

Now, he had prepared me that Sunday would be a surprise.. so I spent that whole week guessing where he would take me for lunch/dinner (the last surprise was Embrasse)

(Gary Mehigan's restaurant meals)

So after church on Sunday, when he said he needed to collect some tickets in Crown (at Ticketek).. I was suspecting that we would be dining at Maze or Bistro Guillaume

(Shaun Bowle's menu)

So as we parked and were getting out of the car, he stopped me and said, "Aren't you going to wear your heels?"... so this confirmed my suspicion that we would be dining at Crown... just where, that was going to be my surprise...

So I followed him to the Ticketek booth (which I now know, that he knew would be closed)... and he suggested that we try the booth at Southern Cross instead.. and I whined that I wasn't going to walk that distance in my heels!

(Pete Evan's menu)

He said, "Don't be silly, we'll catch the tram"... so I grudgingly went along... and at the intersection (in front of Lucky Chan, we saw Neil Perry a.k.a. Steven Seagal at the window.. and I squealed!... maybe another round at Rockpool?)...

But then the Boy said, "Oh, I KNOW... let's try the Melbourne Convention Centre to see if they have tickets there!".. I looked at him doubtfully, but happy that I would have to do less walking...

At the steps of the Melbourne Convention, I saw the big banners notifying me that I had been duped and that my surprise was the Good Food and Wine show!!! YAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

I was utterly and completely flabbergasted with his nonplussed facial expressions and leading me on to wear my heels (WHICH gave me a few blisters and we had to return to the car to change back to proper shoes... all the while, the Boy patting himself proudly on the head on a Surprise well done!)

Note: EVERYONE (whom I had related this story to) said that my blisters well worth it and nobody bothered about the pain =(... lols.. I just like to whinge...

(Gary Mehigan's Fennel and Grapefruit Salad served with Hardy's Nottage Hill Sauvignon Blac)

With hundreds of booths relating to Food and Alcohol... I was in heaven!

Because it was lunchtime and the crowd hadn't yet arrived, we headed straight to the celebrity restaurant (the only area for dining)... with Entrees costing $16; Mains costing $24, and Desserts costing $8... we actually started with mains, then dessert and then went back to entree's.. but for the purpose of your reading pleasure.. this has been re-arranged =) Full menu at the bottom of this post

Shaun Bowles's Taste of Victoria entree which consisteed of Sugar cured ocean trout with Yarra Valley salmon roe, Vitello Tonato-Poached Warragul veal with tuna mayonnaise and white anchovy and Red Hill goats cheese with brioche and baby pear

The Boy said the veal was alright, but I actually quite liked the goats cheese and I thought it went interestingly well with the baby pear... sweet and savoury at the same time...

The Boy had George's Braised Chicken and Celery Fricassee (Fricassee is another word for stewed, typically done with poultry dishes)... served with Hardys Oomoo Adelaide Hills Chardonnay

This was quite nice (I stole some to try)... and although it was nice... there wasn't anything special with this dish...

I had a magnificent Bastilla of Lamb, Olives and Pine Nuts from Gary Mehigan's counter... served with Hardys Nottage Hill Pinot Noir (I don't normally like reds but this went really well with the dish)

Ever since I saw Gary making Beef Wellington on masterchef and seeing the wonderful puff pastry bits and oozing meat inside... I've been jealous (because I don't eat beef or any part of any cow... Yes, this includes veal)

But no longer! I loved this meat pie (that's what it is in essence)... the meat was seasoned beautifully and the pastry was light and flaky...

A quick shot of Gary's Panna Cotta with Rhurbarb compote served either with Hardy's Oomoo Clare Valley Sparkling Shiraz or T2 Melbourne Breakfast Tea or both

We didn't actually try this dish, so I can't comment on the taste.. but it looks pretty!

For dessert, I caught a glimpse of a little girl hurrying back to her dining table with this dish (this area is self served)... and I couldn't lose out to a little girl!

Shaun Bowles's Apple, Rasberry, and Calvados Cobbler with Vanilla Ice-Cream (suggested serve with T2 Sencha Vanilla Tea)

This was indeed heaven on earth and I melted with every spoonful...

Overall, the food was excellent (the chef's were around after all, when they weren't doing their cooking shows or autograph sessions...)... although.. I didn't see Shaun Bowles or Pete Evans... although I'm sure the former was lurking around somewhere being the Executive Chef to the venue...

More surprises to come (for me) in the next post!!

In case you're wondering what the meals were... I've typed it out here for you (for those that have bothered scrolling all the way down =) This has disappeared from the Good Food Show website and all that remains is Perth's menu.

Gary Mehigan
Entree $16 Fennel and grapefruit salad
Main $ 24 Bastllia of lamb, olives and pine nuts
Dessert $8 Panna cotta with rhurbarb compote

George Colambaris
Entree $16 Warm salad of squid with chickpeas and wild greens
Main $24 Braised chicken and celery fricassee
Dessert $ Chocolate and walnut tart, salty caramel sauce

Pete Evans
Entree $16 Sweet corn soup with crab
Main $24 Chilli mussels on rice with Asian herbs
Dessert $8 Goat's curd cheesecake with passion fruit sauce

Shaun Bowles
Entree $16 Taste of Victoria --> refer to above pictures and description
Main $24 Braised short rib of beef with flat noodles and Chinese broccoli, Pecorino, cracked pepper and ricotta tortellini with salsa verde
Dessert $8 Apple, raspberry and calvadoes cobbler with vanilla ice-cream

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