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Posts Tagged ‘asian’

We arrived in Sydney around one o’clock on Saturday. It was windy but bright, a wholesome twenty degrees, and someplace different. For one, the airport has a train. Sydney 1, Melbourne 0.

It costs about $16.40 to get an adult onto the airport line into the city proper – it’s only about three stops to Central, so I’m not sure if it’s cheaper to get a taxi if there’s a few of you. The Rocket was free, so we sucked up the thirty-plus dollars and delighted in being on a double-decker train. Our hotel was a short walk from Central, so we wheeled ourselves over and checked in. I was in charge of booking as Teach was armpit-deep in reports at the time, so I spent a few days getting increasingly agitated about how expensive it is to stay places, and not having any visual of where in Sydney is good or safe or close or fun, and panicking about the date getting closer and everything selling out and us sleeping in an internet cafe. Eventually I chose the Campbell Street Meriton Apartments, because they had an immediately available online chat and could answer all of my questions about cots and babies and stuff, and their prices seemed relatively competitive, especially for the size of the rooms. (Not that I would know. I am just awful at booking things. If it’s on sale, I’ll find out, the day after I’ve paid upfront and signed a no-refund disclaimer. It’s just not one of my skills, sadly.) Anyway, it turns out that the reason it was a bit expensive was because it’s right in the middle of the city, and quite nice; armed with a bit more knowledge I would probably stay a few suburbs further out next time and just catch a train in. Still, as Past Fiona had already paid for it and Present Fiona got to stay there, it was a nice place: a one-bedroom serviced apartment, which meant we could get the Rocket to sleep in a separate room and then go watch free Foxtel in the lounge/kitchen. For another $35 we had a cot put in the room; it was pretty small, and with metal prison bars instead of gentle white wood like the one at home we inherited from my sister. As we settled in, we tried to get her to sleep, but she wasn’t really on board with that idea. Instead we got her up and took her for a wander around.

This door to our hotel: most fun thing in New South Wales

It’s hard not to compare Sydney to Melbourne the whole time. In my mind where we stayed was the equivalent to the Spring Street end of Little Bourke, with theatres and people but narrow streets and not quite the level of excitement of the bigger streets. Sydney is cleaner, but maybe less friendly – unless it’s just that it’s unfamiliar – and has almost no street art in the places we were. There weren’t many cute little shops to go into, though there were lots of tasty-looking eateries. We strolled up Pitt St just as gale-force winds hit; hats flew off people’s heads and one person was attacked bodily by an errant newspaper. The Rocket has stopped enjoying wind and instead chose to wail, so we went into a Coles for a bit to buy some milk and cereal, then went up to Kings Comics and talked ourselves out of piles of collectible toys we didn’t need. It was nearing dinnertime, so, having previously consulted my friends online about where to go, we had dinner at Mother Chu’s Vegetarian Kitchen.

It was a patchy start; we got there at about five past five but weren’t given our mains until about a quarter to six, though we’d had some (sadly unsalted) edamame to start. The service was very friendly, however, and the Rocket just happy to be indoors. The menu mostly calls things “soy” or “gluten” instead of the usual “duck” or “chicken”, and doesn’t elaborate on the flavours. I chose crispy bean curd with mushrooms and broccoli; Teach picked a crispy gluten dish. Once they turned up, we were much more positive; the food is pretty delicious, and maybe we’d just been a bit tired and cranky. My bean curd wasn’t crispy, but it was warm and good and there was tons of it and I ate it all up, only managing to get a little of Teach’s crispy gluten before he scoffed all his too. The Rocket was happy with her bowl of rice, a bunch of edamame and some of my tofu. If I’m in Sydney again, I’d give it another shot for sure, maybe this time calling a day in advance so I could have some of their vegetarian Peking Duck, or some steamed BBQ buns, or satay sticks.

We decided to call it a night after that, and took the Rocket back to the hotel, tucked her in, consoled her, tucked her in, gave her toys, went back and picked up her toys from the floor, tucked her in, etc etc for all eternity until she finally slept. Then we ate candy and watched terrible television until we were sick, because if there’s one thing we do well, it’s knowing how to waste being in a different city.

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This week my little Rocket turned two. I own two baby books with the purest white untouched pages you’ve seen, but I’ve documented her journey from our discovery of her as a sesame seed in my belly to now fairly well online and in a few journals scattered around my house when I needed something non-human to vent or emote onto. A decent amount of the day was spent looking at pictures of her as a tiny baldy baby and a bigger baldy baby and a tiny baldy toddler and then now, as a curly-haired decent-sized toddler-kid. Things were sometimes hard at the start. Sometimes they were boring. Sometimes – well, always – they were tiring. And now, at two, I cannot believe the magical little creature she’s become. Sometimes things are hard, like when she throws her food on the floor and then laughs like an tv-movie villain; sometimes things are boring, like when I have to push her in the swing for four million hours or watch the Space episode of Yo Gabba Gabba because she loves the Rocket Ride song so much; sometimes it is physically demanding but no longer am I tired from lack of sleep, except when I stay up too late watching and making fun of Machete Kills. But oh, she is so much fun, I can’t even tell you. She laughs, she jokes, she hides, she calls my name, she sits on my foot and hangs onto my leg as I haul her around the house giggling, she pours me pretend tea from her tea set, she climbs into her cardboard rocket and peeps out the window saying “hellooo!”, she races her Matchbox cars all over the house, she demands I read her books, she counts to ten without saying eight, she high fives everything she can, she swims, she laughs, she flies in with her arms wide for hugs, she dances, she draws, she picks terrible outfits from her clothes drawers, she hides behind poles that are some five-centimetres wide. She’s the best, even when she refuses to eat my elaborate meals and trashes my house and screeches in frustration when I can’t understand what she’s saying.

For her birthday we celebrated with our family on the weekend; snacks, balloons and hugs in the park. While I was at work the night before, Teach made her a cake, dyed the icing green, then drew train tracks on it with an chocolate pen from Coles. We’d bought her a birthday-themed Thomas the Tank Engine train: a Thomas covered in streamers with a cake on the back. Press the cake, it plays the TTTE theme song. Two candles, two sparklers, and a kiss on the cheek. She chased her cousins around and screamed with laughter.

On the day itself, I was at a bit of a loss in the morning, so I took her to Little Creatures in Balwyn. I hadn’t been back since she could walk, and she had great fun bullying some older kids into sitting where she told them, while they in turn stole toys off her and everyone shouted and cried. Still, such is life at a play centre, and she liked playing in the Duplo room and the house room the best, lugging her wonky-eyed baby doll in its baby carrier over to the Lego car and dropping it head-first into a pile of blocks.

After her nap, she woke up to a few lovely present deliveries from friends and family, which was lovely except you try shoehorning a kid away from her beloved new picnic set to go outside. My folks came over and we went on a fruitless expedition to Cocco Latte (closed for an emergency, but open today when I went back) and Acorn Nursery (closing earlier than I expected, so we slammed down our coffees, looked at the fountains and gave up on parks to head back.)

When Teach got home from work, we decided to go out for dinner, which, let’s face it, was more for us than for her. We went to Chadstone so we could hit up Wagamama – there was literally no one but us there at the start, which meant she was free to shout for a while, but she also got rice everywhere and upended her orange juice on the table, so, you know, good work at acting childish on your second birthday, I mean sheesh. Still, the waiters didn’t mind, my meal was delicious and while we forgot to order a free kids meal they threw in her juice on the house.

Appetites sated, we went to Timezone, because there are lots of bright lights and buttons to press. We got a $20 card and played any game she looked remotely interested in; some we didn’t even have to pay for, like the Dance Dance Revolution-type one where she got up on the platform and danced like crazy with the fun-loving people on screen. She boshed some crocodiles, rode a train, hit some lights, drove a car, went on a rat race, and then scored some bubbles and a miniature basketball with all our tickets. She had a blast; we were happy to see her so happy.

The year before, we’d had a little friend party at a park near work, where the Rocket had just learned how to stand up on her own. This year, we headed to the same park after work for an ice cream in the sun. We sat on the grass near another little girl who crawled excitedly over to see us. It turned out she’d just turned one, and to see her next to the Rocket was incredible – a year in a kid is such a long time. As the kids high-fived each other, the mother said, half-laughing, “Does it get easier?” and like I told her then, it really really does.

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yong green food ii

So I don’t know about sensible people, but it so happens that the way our finances work is that we spend three weeks a month lamenting that we have to put all our income into rent and blueberries, and then one week when we get paid and throw all of our money around like we are celebrities with lavish lifestyles. I mean, it’s Target clothes, dumplings and new crayons out the wazoo. Crazy times.

So that one week a month is when you’ll find us reasoning that we should go out for lunch and dinner instead of making it at home, and also go out for cupcakes and gelati for dessert, and thus these types of posts are born, and not the ones where I post recipes made up of two-minute noodles and an old can of corn I found in the cupboard.

We’ve been to Yong Green Food before, and continue to wander over there if the mood strikes us, if Teach has a hankering for a dragon bowl or the queues at the Vegie Bar are too alarming. Yong Green Food focuses on wholesome vegetarian (mostly vegan) food, some with a Korean/Asian theme, lots of macrobiotic stuff and a decent range of raw options if that’s your thing. The prices aren’t particularly cheap but the servings are lavish and the food always good, so it’s worth what you pay.

I ordered the buckwheat crepes with mushrooms and some kind of tasty dressing (sadly Yong’s has no website for me to check and I have no brain for remembering ingredients – maybe wasabi but I don’t think it was hot?), along with a bowl of miso soup. The crepes were absolutely gorgeous as per usual and look super fancy on the plate; the miso was fine, but not as amazing as Wagamama’s, though the tofu in the soup is much tastier than anywhere else I’ve tried. Teach unsurprisingly ordered a dragon bowl with soy beef, and had to skimp on the super spicy sauce that is served alongside it as he correctly predicted that the Rocket would shout at him to share his rice and he didn’t want to set her on fire. We’d dragged our friend Dani along with us and she ordered a burger; it was ENORMOUS, and she has a pretty small appetite at the best of times but still put a fair dent in it. The Rocket enjoyed my miso soup more than anything, and they had a high chair for her which made life easy with all of our plates and dinosaur sandwich boxes everywhere. The service is always friendly (they forgot Teach’s drink but flew it to him when he pointed it out afterwards), the food arrives speedily, the staff smile at kids and I always leave feeling tremendously healthy and ready to go gorge myself on cupcakes until I am sick.

Yong Green Food

421 Brunswick St

Fitzroy

phone: 9417 3338

 

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Earlier this week Teach went off for a few days on school camp. Which, you know, fun for him (turns out all teachers I speak to love going on camp, I always imagined it was a nightmare for them) but annoying for ME, as this meant three whole days in which I had to change every single nappy, get up for all the night yelling, and could not blame the trashed state of the kitchen on him. Terribly sad, etc. However, I found people who would at least occupy my days, and on Monday I bothered my parents all day (I didn’t get a picture but hot damn the playground in Knox City shopping centre is a great one and it has a FENCE to trap kidskies in), and on Tuesday my friend S came over and stayed until dinnertime. We knocked up a pasta for lunch – our go-to recipe is basically pasta, spinach, dukkah, sun-dried tomatoes – and then drove to Balwyn to bash about in Beckett Park.

I’ve been once before with my mothers group, but it’s not great for crowds of kids as they all run off to different places and let’s face it, 83% of the point of mothers groups is hanging out with other adults, so when you have to run off after your kid it defeats the purpose a little. Anyway, when it’s just your kid, it’s a bunch of fun. There’s a tiny in-ground trampoline for bouncing, a wooden maze that even I could find my way out of (and I am terrible at all mazes), lots of wooden ramps and pathways, four swings (including two side-by-side baby swings for those with twins!) and a big-ass sandpit with two of those ride-on scooper things. Also it has a table, see above. Beckett Park’s actually pretty great – there are toilets, heaps of space to run around, a viewing tower (padlocked and with no note, WHAT IS THE DEAL BOOROONDARA COUNCIL) and an indigenous flora reserve. We didn’t make it to the flora, alas, too busy chasing dogs and patting all the wooden sculptures in artistic appreciation.

After an hour and a half, we were burnt out on playgrounds (Rocket was NOT and threw an appropriate tantrum) and went off for a quick poke around in the new nearby organic supermarket Apples & Sage (no website yet, located on Whitehorse Road between Balwyn Road & the Safeway.) Holy shit, this place has everything a health person/junky vegan/etc could desire – meatless pizza, chick’n & cheeze pies, everything else you’ve ever seen or imagined. All not even particularly comparatively expensive, though S and I were a bit skint so we passed up any purchases though I was pretty pleased to know it exists and will totally return and buy pretty much everything.

For dinner we went to Vegie Mum in Doncaster – we’ve been a couple of times and it’s always been a success. Vegie Mum is a Chinese/Malaysian vegetarian restaurant, and serves up a bunch of mock meats and vegetable dishes. The decor and atmosphere isn’t incredible, but the service is always grand: they’re lovely to the Rocket and have a pile of high chairs, the staff are friendly as anything, and the food arrives at speed. This time, I ordered a laksa for myself ($10), and a plate of fried tofu ($4.50) for the Rocket, along with some rice (usually $2 but I think they charged us less for the small bowl.) S got tea, spring rolls and some other noodle dish I can’t remember and didn’t try because my laksa was far too delicious and I could barely spare some concentration on my daughter as she got rice all over clothes and her hair (but to her credit mostly did a vaguely good job.) S kindly shared some of her noodles (mine were too spicy) and the Rocket was generally very pleased with the whole scenario, especially when she got to dump a cup of water over herself too. (SIGH.)

I didn’t take any pictures of my food, because I have fallen out of the habit due to, uh, not blogging in months (which, mild excuse, is because I now also blog over here!) but my Laksa was a perfect kick of chilli in gorgeous coconut broth, with beans, noodles (ask for the egg ones to be swapped out for rice), eggplant, tofu, chicken, prawn and pork. Turns out I like fake prawn more than real, and I ate stacks of it, and BEST YET, when I was almost done I found SNEAKY HIDDEN PORK AND PRAWNS, praise be. Writing about it is making me a little dribbly so I best stop now.

…well, just after a quick smooch to my olderiest friend Rachael who prompted me to write again. xx

Beckett Park

the end of Parring Rd

Balwyn

Vegie Mum

27 Village Ave

Doncaster

ph: 9816 3222

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Once upon a time birthdays used to be epic in our house. Teach and I would try our hardest to outdo each other for every birthday and Christmas and any other event that could be used to purchase gifts. Christmas is a perfect example: every year the competition was threefold: 1. who spent the most, 2. whose presents were largest in quantity, and 3. whose pile was the highest if you stacked them on top of each other. (Whoever wasn’t working on Christmas Eve usually won the last two.) We loved going nuts on gifts and smooches and dinner at places fancy or crap, whatever the birthday person wanted. Then we had a baby, and all these bills and so on and no sleep, and so birthdays have been more low-key, but also great because now there is a second person to give you a toothy birthday smile in the morning. Anyway, to eventually get to a point, Teach’s birthday was yesterday, and I got him a guitar pedal and a book (not very original of me) and some supercool EC comic cushions, and then we went out to dinner with his dad’s side of the family to Oriental Tea House in Chadstone.

 

Teach and I used to go here a fair bit; we’ve also been to the Little Collins, Prahran and Melbourne Central versions, but Chadstone is the closest. And I hadn’t really noticed this before, but it’s actually super kid-friendly – there are a bunch of high chairs, and the atmosphere is much more loud and vibrant than I’d recalled it being when Teach and I were alone together, staring into each others’ eyes. (This is lies. We have always been abrupt diners–in, order, finish, out, no dawdling.) I had been worried about takingĀ  the Rocket since she’s discovered the ability to throw things on the floor and make dinosaur sounds while waiting impatiently for food, but I think the location was a success, actually.

 

As for the eats, well, there are no pictures, but as I doubt anyone comes here for my outstanding culinary photography, it’s probably no problem. We usually order the same things: two spring onion pancakes, buckwheat chili dumplings, vegetarian dumplings, and salt and spicy soy bean tofu. This time we also ordered two serves of the vegetarian san choy bao, because I thought the Rocket would like to try some. (She did not.) It was flat out, due, I guess, to the fact that there was some VIP night on inside the neighbouring behemoth of a shopping centre (this restaurant is on one of those arms that sticks out towards a car park, so, part of the centre but not inside) and it meant both the service and the food, while perfectly adequate, were hit and miss. I’ve often found the food to be great one day and average the next, but on the upside, it’s never been terrible. Teach didn’t eat his san choy bao but hoovered down everything else. I ate so fast I wasn’t sure if I was hungry or full at the other end. The dumplings come in little bowls of three, so you can order a fourth to even up the numbers or just let the birthday guy eat two instead. (I am Very Kind.)

 

The tofu was excellent as always, six little deep-fried cubes accompanied by spring onion and chili. I used to go to bat for these every time we were figuring out where to go for dinner. I think the tastiness of them blinded me to other things, like the fact that the skin on the buckwheat dumplings is usually too goopy, and none of the dumplings ever come close to most other places (like my current superfavourite China Red.) One other specialty of this place is the tea – every single one I’ve tasted has been beautiful, and they sell them instore, along with quite lovely tea sets. I’m trying to cut down on sugary drinks at the moment as I can’t fit into any of my pants, but I recommended the raspberry & lime iced tea to my stepsister-in-law and stared at her drink in jealousy when she ordered it, and did it again when she ordered a second.

 

Her grandfather’s birthday was the day before. We gave him, among other things, this Chinese Zodiac figurine, which the Rocket promptly broke.

 

So, in conclusion (these are turning into essays a bit, aren’t they? I am excited and wordy today) Oriental Tea House remains a decent place for a meal, friendly to those with kids, fairly well-priced (though sparing on the dumpling quantity), and a good atmosphere, probably because the decor is quite fun.

 

 

Oriental Tea House

 

Shop F015

Chadstone Shopping Centre

Chadstone

9949 2071

website

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china red

At a recent entertaining Chinese New Year party that we left far too early, a conversation started amongst the bloggers there about how they post blogs. Chronologically seemed to be the way to go, so, even if a fun thing happened today, you post about the thing you had next on your list, which may have happened ages ago. Seems fair, so let’s travel back in time about six weeks and do that, which also helps get rid of some of the terrible pictures on my phone that I need to delete to make more space for eleventy billion self-portraits of the Rocket figuring out where the camera button is.

 

 

Pre-Rocket we discovered a most wonderful futuristic eatery in Melbourne’s Chinatown called China Red, or Touch-Screen-Place if you are me or Teach and get it confused with China Bar all the time. Because yes, instead of table service, you are seated next to a touch screen, order your choices right there, and then someone delivers them to you at high speed. It means you don’t have to awkwardly mispronounce things like I always do, and you can hem and haw all you like over luscious oily pictures of food while everyone else at your table says JUST GET THE DUMPLINGS LIKE ALWAYS JEEZ. It also means you don’t really have to tip much, right? Right.

 

 

We’ve ordered a few things there, but we now have a standard order of twelve vegetarian dumplings, garlic beans, a coke and an iced tea. Odds are in your favour that the dumplings will be fat and delicious (eat them with the supplied chili oil and flakes dumped in soy sauce), and the beans soaked in garlic, al dente and mouth-destroyingly hot. It’s not as cheap as you’d wish, but it’s totally divine. Not only that, but the last time we went, they even sourced a high chair for the Rocket to sit in and didn’t even blink when she dropped beans on the ground. (I cleaned them up before we left, I promise. I’m not That Guy.) While the atmosphere is slightly higher than cafe, the casualness of the touch screens make it lower than a posh restaurant, so: take your kids, but leave if they cry. Luckily, you can be in, fed, and out in no time, meaning there’s a lower chance your kid will opt for said tantrum. And if your kid is older, they can ruin your day by ordering seventeen spring onion pancakes which you’ll then have to pay for, because there are no refunds once you’ve hit the order button. But you’ll probably eat them anyway, because they’re yum.

 

China Red

Shop 6, 206 Bourke St

Melbourne

9662 3688

website

 

There’s a flat entrance, and all ordering and payment is done at the table. There is a downstairs section, which is unfortunately where the toilets are located, but as it’s in a strip of shops there are public toilets handily located just across from the shop. A pram might be squashy, but not impossible.

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chillipadi

Since my friend Steph’s return from China, we have made a bit of a habit of catching up for lunch once a week. This week we went semi-cheap and just made avocado-ey toasty goodness at home (accompanied by some cupcakes, which I will hopefully blog about at a future time that doesn’t involve me dropping them on the footpath thirty seconds after Steph had carefully transported them from Fitzroy), but I still have another week’s eating excitement up my sleeve. I frequently meet pals in Melbourne Central (have I mentioned my love for this place? I mean, it is sadly bereft of kids’ clothing stores, but not everywhere can accommodate my every need I GUESS) but have yet to try everywhere, though I am doing my best. And a recent happy discovery was Chillipadi.

The Rocket had fallen asleep in her Baby Bjorn (did you know that they were invented by Bjorn Borg? I did NOT until very recently, thanks to my friend Katy) before we arrived which seemed like a godsend until shortly after our food arrived. The food was great but do you know what is ridiculous? Eating laksa over a sleeping baby’s head. It is a glorious food, but it is a splashy food. It is designed for slurping over the bowl, not delicately eating (with a FORK, ugh) over your daughter’s lovely skin without getting soup on her. Anyway, I got soup on her, and on her clothes and also me. But she was cool with it.

 

So we got chips with shichimi salt, a vegetable laksa each, and Steph had a virgin cocktail (the Hello Kitty, I think?) while I ordered something that I remember, vaguely, as being Ribena with lychees. The first few sips made me think EEK TOO SWEET, then mysteriously, after eating the spicy laksa, it was suddenly WHOA PERFECT SWEETNESS. The laksa was pretty good–not Laksa King good, but as that is the King, I guess there isn’t much hope for anyone else–with stacks of noodles and vegetables but not enough tofu, WHY IS THERE NEVER ENOUGH TOFU*. But I would (and will) happily get it again, this time hopefully while the Rocket stays awake and sits next to me very quietly with her hands folded in her lap, so that I can eat it properly with slurps. But let us talk about the chips. I think we can all agree that the chip winner in the Skinny and Interesting category** is Trippy Taco’s trippy fries, all paprika and smokey goodness. Well, we have a contender now in these shichimi salted fries, and while I don’t know what shichimi salt is (magic, presumably) I will eat it gladly because it nudges ahead in the category by being more conveniently located. These are GLORIOUS.

 

All in all, two thumbs up, would nom again. The service was smooth and friendly about the Rocket, even recommending we didn’t go upstairs as intended because it was loud and might wake her up. As it’s part of Melbourne Central, it’s on a flat surface (though gets squishy inside, however there is outdoor seating as well) and the toilets are just around the corner.

 

Chillipadi

Melbourne Central

Little Lonsdale St

Melbourne

9663 5688

pretty cool-looking website

 

* I KNOW there are those of you snickering about tofu. When it is done badly, or eaten straight from the packet, it obviously sucks. When it is made properly, it is a beautiful thing. DEAL WITH IT.

**current winner in the Fat Chips category is Gasometer, but I haven’t been there for ages due to lengthy waits so, what are your favourite Fat Chip locations?

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