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Posts Tagged ‘chadstone’

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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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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lord of the fries

When Teach was on holidays it was super easy to blog every day, and now that he’s not, it’s trickier. Well, that’s what I’d say if not for the fact that the real reason I’ve been slack is that we’ve been mainlining episodes of Community season three for the past week. Also, I’ve taken up this bizarre habit of making myself sandwiches instead of going out for lunch. Wacky, right? But I can still be relied upon for frequent laziness and last Sunday, after work, we decided to have an early dinner at Lord of the Fries at Chadstone.

Every time we go there, the service is totally fantastic (especially this one blonde girl who is always smiling and super friendly) about my ridiculous dithering and requests and unfortunate need to make small talk all the time. They haven’t made my order wrong once (while I’ve had a few missteps at the Melbourne Central and Fitzroy locations, but I absolutely have to point out that I never bothered to take them back to rectify the errors, which I am totally convinced they would) and the food is junky, delectable excellence. Our order goes like this: “One big original burger, one mini vegan (new thing on the menu), a box of fries with gravy on the side, and two mandarin Jarritos.” (Because Jarritos, am I right? They are the new cool thing in fluids.) Teach always gets the big original burger, because he is unoriginal, and I often try their specials, like the Uncle Sam burger: chick’n patty, tomato, lettuce, pickles, cheese, and onion rings. ONION RINGS. It’s genius. Who knew? My favourite ever special was the Kahuna burger–chick’n patty, bacon, cheese, tomato, lettuce, pineapple–but they don’t have it any longer, which is about the saddest thing in the history of food. And until Lord of the Fries, I was a chip purist who never let anything but salt desecrate my potatoes, but GRAVY. Why did I not know this before? OH MY.

This meal is about my favourite ever, the mini version of fun burgers/hot dogs leaving me exactly perfectly full when paired with the other things. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. And because the Chadstone store is in a shopping centre, you can take a pram and there’s tables and a high chair and there are millions of screaming families around so really, it’s just perfect. Can you tell I’m a fan?

 

Lord of the Fries

Chadstone Shopping Centre

Near Cinema complex

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wagamama

Despite current appearances, we don’t actually eat out for every single meal of our lives. But once school holidays roll around, we rarely bother to leave the house for an actual holiday, instead just basically taking two weeks off cooking and cleaning. So the cafe posts will sadly diminish once Teach starts school (tomorrow, sigh) and we have to remember how to cook again. Something about bread, and a toaster, and peanut butter? We’ll probably figure it out again.

Yesterday we continued our laziness and I got to pick our lunch destination. After pondering every food in existence, I decided I was desperately in need of edamame, which meant: Wagamama! Chadstone is not too far from our house and contains some of my favourite things–a movie theatre, a bowling alley, Lord of the Fries and the Oriental Tea House–so off we went. There’s also a restaurant in the city, but it was raining a bit too much to negotiate a baby around the place–though I had forgotten that shopping centres require parking. And Chadstone is the WORST on a Saturday. You live, you learn, you forget completely and do it again in a month.

The menu has changed since we last went there early in the year. There are some tasty-looking additions, and now the vegetarian and vegan-adaptable dishes are clearly marked (online also lists other the choices for other dietary requirements). The ponzu stir-fry with green tea noodles sounded excellent, but as it was lunchtime we were both sold by the allure of the bento box, because I love a selection of food. The alarmingly-priced juices became cheaper when paired with the bento, so I ordered an apple, mint and lime juice ($3 with the bento), and it was refreshing, zesty and totally great–I drank the whole thing, where usually I give up halfway through a juice. Our miso soups arrived first, cloudy but not gritty, warm, full of spring onion and not overly crowded with seaweed. Mmmm.

Next up was the box itself: edamame, mixed salad, sweet potato kusabi (this comes with a wasabi mayonnaise; I didn’t have it as I wasn’t sure if it had eggs, but I’d forgotten to specify what I couldn’t eat beforehand), rice, and the tofu with asian greens. The edamame was just what I’d wanted, soy beans all salted up to be inelegantly hoovered up by me; the salad dressing was pitched just right against the rest of the food; the sweet potato chips were nice but real salty (and I am 40% salt so I don’t say this lightly); the rice sure was white; and the tofu with asian greens was super yum, but I only got two pieces of tofu which was a bummer. Still, very satisfying. The service was great, too–while there’s inevitably a queue to get in, the staff are very nice, and there were kids in prams everywhere (you can get to the raised platform via a ramp). They also offer placemats to draw on and a kids’ menu, so they’re more than happy to accommodate your little squealer. I can’t deny it was a little tricky to eat my bento with a squirming baby in my arms, but that’s not Wagamama’s fault, no matter how many times I have called head office to ask them for parenting advice.

 

Wagamama

Lower Ground Level

Chadstone Shopping Centre

1341 Dandenong Road

9530 9410

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