Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Review: Chilli Cha Cha, Haymarket

I have a new fave thai restaurant! There are no queues to get in, there are seven kinds of som tum (classic, fermented fish, fermented crab, fermented crab&fish, vermicilli rice noodles & crab, grilled pork neck and crispy fish), they don't stint on the chilli, and the food is good!

So Shh - don't tell anyone.*

So far, I have tried (numbers correspond to the takeaway menu):
21 - Yum Woon Seen (vermicilli salad). This is my new favourite signature dish. Vermicilli, squid and pork mince tossed in mint, coriander and thai dressing. Chilli/sour taste, balanced by the sweetness of spanish onion. Or are the eschallots?
26 - Som Tum (green papaya salad) 'classic'. Very hot and spicy, but the sauce is well balanced.
34 - Choo Chee with white fish. Steamed fish smothered in a creamy coconut red curry sauce, and sprinkled with finely sliced kaffir lime leaf. I wanted more.
39 - Panang curry with tofu & vegies. Kaffir lime leaf again, carrot, zuccini, and big chunky tofu pieces.
Thai red (iced) tea. Yum. yum. yum. yum. I love this drink. I love the strong tea flavour, I love the sugar.

Highly, highly recommended; stacks of dishes to try out, and not too pricey.
Chilli Cha Cha Thai Restaurant
Shop 462, 40-50 Campbell Street, Chinatown

* - Hmm. Looks like I may be too late. They've already got a mention in the smh.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Review: Ramen Kan, Haymarket

I raved about Ramen Kan in Bondi Junction in an earlier post. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for their Haymarket branch.

So I had a craving *again* for soft shell crab. In Bondi Junction, you get four segments of a soft shell crab, with a dipping sauce on the side. The whole crab. In Haymarket, it is "soft shell crab salad", and you get two segments of crab, shredded cabbage, indifferent tomato, and a decorative butter lettuce leaf speckled with ice. The whole lot was covered by a brownish vinegar-type sauce, that looked a bit like Satay, but wasn't.

I had originally ordered the "seaweed salad", craving the Kaiso Salad that I had enjoyed so much at Sushisuma, but the waitress suggested that I was getting a lot of salad. So Agedashi tofu instead - four cubes of tofu, in the light soy sauce and shaved bonito flakes on top.

I did alternate between genmaichai, the tofu, and the 'salad', but it was a struggle to finish. Too many 'samey' tastes, and the vinegar was a bit harsh.

Kudos for letting me know that I had way too much salad (I don't think I could have eaten much if it had had the same brown vinegar sauce). But for value for money soft shell crab - I would go to Bondi Junction instead.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Review: Elephant Jump Cafe, Surry Hills

A new discovery!
Was lurking near Central Station, when I made this new discovery. The restaurant at the Madison hotel was shut for renovations, so I ventured into Devonshire street to have a look-see. Elephant jump cafe looks pretty new, seats about 15 people. There were definitely thai people behind the counter.

We tried one of the house specials - Yum Yum stir fried; and Penang curry.

'Yum Yum stir fried' had instant (2 minute noodles), egg, chicken, carrot, chinese cabbage (wombok) and lots of pepper.
The Penang curry was really rich and pumpkiny with bits of carrot. A mild to medium flavoured curry, but very moreish. I was quite tempted to lick the bowl clean.

They had plenty of visitors
Highly enjoyable. I shall have to visit again.

Elephant Jump Cafe
Shop 3, 99 Devonshire Street Surry Hills NSW

Friday, November 14, 2008

Partying 'light'

I was at the lindt cafe last night at Darling harbour. Having ordered my small dark hot chocolate (disappointing, it didn't taste right - almost as though the milk was nearly off?), I needed to visit the bathroom. There was a young lady in there, who had just unpacked a hair straightener, and was looking for a spot to plug it in. I was stunned.
Guys always complain about the weight of women's handbags... and I can see why. Why wouldn't you straighten your hair at *home*, so you didn't have to carry it on Friday night?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Review: Ramen Kan, Bondi Junction

I found myself in the eastern suburbs, and having a craving for Japanese food, I went to Ramen Kan in Bondi Junction.
This is where I first discovered (deep fried) soft shell crab, several years ago.
The place was full of anglos. In fact, I only saw three Asians whilst I was there, and only one of them was Japanese. No matter, although the adage is that to find good japanese you should eat where the "locals" eat, the food is good.

Soft shell crab $8.90. One baby crab, cut into quarters, deep fried.
Ramen & Gyoza (set). $13.90. You get three gyoza (instead of the the six on the regular entree), a little heap of rice, a mini cabbage salad and your choice of shio/shoyu or miso ramen. I chose shio, because it had a tonkatsu base, and I adore tonkatsu ramen from ichban boshi.

The tonkatsu was a little disappointing. Instead of being really rich, sweet and satisfying; I found it slightly bland. Perhaps it was diluted to many bowls instead? After all, ichi ban boshi claims it can only make 15 bowls a day - and I've seen the stock with legs of pork all wrapped up in string, simmmering away.

I shall have to head back, and take some food pictures. If I had had space, I would have ordered the cabbage salad as well, for $1.50 a serve. (edit: going on the Haymarket store prices, this was probably $5.90).

Ramen Kan
Shop 3, Bronte Road (cnr Ebley Street), Bondi Junction

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Highway 50, Nevada

A few years ago, the Nevada State government got given some dollars by the Federal government, I guess, to "improve tourist facilities". They didn't really have any, because after all, people never actually *visit* Nevada, they just go to Las Vegas, right?

So Highway 50 (travelling west to east) got dubbed "Loneliest Highway in America", and you can get a dinky little passport, and get it stamped in each of the 5 counties that you travel through, and then at the *end* you can get some little souvenir. I didn't.

There is a distinct lack of signage, or even 'confirmation', that you are indeed travelling on the correct road, and in the correct direction. On one north-south road up to Interstate-80, we went 20miles from missing one sign, to being able to read the next one.

Every now and then there is a "Historic Marker coming up" sign, with no distance, and no indication if it is on the left or the right of the road. Only after having driven past it at 70mph, do you go "oh, that was the turnoff I was supposed to have turned off on".

We drove from Carson City to Fort Churchill. This posting was seen as a 'good one' for the officers during the Indian Wars, because you were about a day's ride from the towns of either Fallon or Carson City, and you got one day off per month. Plus you got someone else to do your washing. It wasn't so good for the infantrymen, but the signs didn't tell us why.

From Fort Churchill, we drove up to Fallon via "Ragtown", so named because of the plethora of washing that was draped all over the bushes to dry near the river. After Fallon, we visited Grimes Point Archaeological area, ooohed over the peteroglyphs, and ahhed over the sunset. Missed seeing the "Hidden Cave", I will have to call up and arrange a tour next time.

I remember seeing "Sand Mountain", this out-of-place looking enormous sand dune in the middle of high salt desert. Apparently the local Indians thought it was a snake god, because the ridge resembled the changing shape of a snake. Also, there used to be a pony express station at the base of the mountain. One day *...slurpe..* the sand mountain covered it over, and then 150 years or so later *...slurpe..*, it uncovered it again. I would be hesitant to slide down that thing on a cardboard box or 'sand surf' down the slope. Now it is being used for ATV or dune buggy shenanigans.

From there, it was a couple of hours drive into Austin, and the very strange Serbian International bar.