Friday, June 29, 2012

One Year and Twenty Four Days Later....


Being the restaurant we had our awkward first date at, it holds a very special place in our hearts.

When we arrived, a minute after 5.30 because I hadn't mastered google maps yet, it was empty. In hindsight, I probably didn't need to book a month in advance but it's better to be safe than sorry and I probably would do it again because I love this place. It was lovely inside, we were promptly seated and given a drinks menu to study and the table next to us in the photo is where we would later be seated. 

Monkey and Dragon.
The reason why we were moved was because Jack had to make it awkward and spill his cocktail all over the table. They were so nice about it though and replaced his drink as well. At Tatsumi they do their own japanese inspired cocktails based on the chinese zodiac and even though we're not monkeys and dragons, they sounded tastier, and they were.

Complimentary Appetiser
Anything that's free makes me happy, even if it's something little, I'm yours. Smoked salmon with avocado in pastry cup. Simple but flavorsome. And FREE!

Fish Carpaccio
We decided to go for the degustation menu and share the choices so we could eat more things but had to add the carpaccio because it's always been our favourite dish and no one does this better than they do. NO ONE! 

Assorted Appetizer
First Course. This was awesome. I've never had gooseberry in my life and then Jack broke into his story telling mode about it, long story short, i thought it tasted like tomato but I am wrong. Anyway, left to right, top to bottom, oyster shot in tomato vodka concotion (bloody mary?), marinated fish (Jack loved this), fried fish, edamame beans with lotus root, duck and gooseberry (so tender) and beef tataki.
Pan Seared Scallops
Second Course. With a parsnip puree and miso beurre blanc sauce. Jack was very kind and let me have the extra scallop. We were very behaved and did not lick the sauce.
Variety of Sashimi. Tuna, Salmon and Blue Cod
Tempura Soft Shell Crab
Third Course. Only thing I didn't like about this dish was the goat cheese in the salad, but that's because goat cheese  tastes too farmy for me and I haven't quite acquired the taste for it yet. Other than that, delish!
Crispy Skin Salmon Teriyaki
With creamy wasabi mashed potato, portobello, onion rings and blue cheese tortellini. This was very filling despite only being in mini form and the mash was sooo good. I'm ashamed to say that I was actually nearly full after this.

Assorted Tempura
Canterbury Wakanui Blue Beef Steak
Main Course. Tempura is pretty straight forward. The dipping sauce was nice and warm. The beef was accompanied with polenta crisps, a puree, mixed mushrooms (apparently according to Jack) and a pickled ginger shoot which they explained could only be eaten at the fat end but that did not stop Jack from trying.

Assorted Nigiri Sushi
Sushi Course. I discovered that I love scampi. It tastes so much like crayfish. Jack gave me half of his :D then I discovered (so many discoveries that night) that I am possibly allergic to raw scampi and crayfish because my mouth went a bit numb, throat got scratchy and I started swelling around my mouth, not the first time this has happened but I survived, it was very mild and not going to deter me, I want more!

Scampi Miso
Scampi Battle
This was so cute. A little twist to the miso in a teacup and because we're not very mature and to be honest, why wouldn't you?! Scampi battles! I like to think my scampi won. 

Green Tea Fondant
Black Sesame Creme Brûlée
Dessert. We got to choose our own desserts and like the good old days, we chose our favourites. As usual Jack shared most of his and I was very stingy with the sharing of my fondant... it was too good! I gave him my candied orange though!

Dinner was a two hour affair and the first hour we were the only ones in the restaurant. When we left another table came. I hope they get busier because they really are a wonderful restaurant and I can not wait to go back to Auckland to eat everything else on the menu with the fish carpaccio as well of course...

They don't have pictures on their website yet but they do have a delicious sounding menu which I frequent weekly, if not daily... definitely worth a visit.
Friday, June 15, 2012

Keeping Warm for Winter

It did snow. Only for a day, and I still had to work so it was not as exciting as I would have imagined. Then our bird died so that was sad and a bit depressing... but we'll stop talking about that because we don't need tears right now.

Snow Snow
The only thing I like about winter now is that it's the start of hot pot and spicy food season. Well, spicy food is any season but it's extra satisfying on a cold winter's night.

Spicy Cold Chicken
Spicy Cold Pork
I can't remember the English names of most of the dishes, nevertheless, I don't think they were much more descriptive and helpful like mine, so yeah. 

I love the cold entrees at Daphne's. If I was ever on a budget (which I probably should put myself on) while eating out, I'd just order those two dishes. Probably just ordering the chicken would be enough but I like fatty pork and tend to eat myself silly a lot, so extra is needed. The sauces (the chicken is a slightly numbing szechuan peppercorn spicy sauce and the pork is a slightly creamy and spicy garlicy sauce) are great with rice.
Garlic Gai-Lan
Oyster Sauce Tofu
Ordered two non spicy dishes mostly for my sister because she can't handle the heat well and they were nice. The tofu was very soft and veges were tasty but very expensive for what they were. I could have ordered three chickens for the price of those veges. It doesn't pay to be "healthy" does it?
Hot and Sour Soup, Dan Dan Noodles and Spicy Fish
My two favorite soups in the world (seriously) are tom yum and hot and sour soup. Unfortunately they seem to be the hardest soups to make and not many places get it right. The hot and sour soup here was okay, we had to add more vinegar to it but it was lacking some hot and sour soup basics (bamboo, wood ear fungus... there was a story about wood ear fungus and how it's good for something maybe lungs and miners in china used to have it and something possibly relating to the soups origin but I tune out when the story gets too long so I do not have the full story to tell). Jack even proclaimed that I made a better version and the first time I made that soup for him he didn't even know what I made, so brownie points for me! 

The fish is served on a constantly heated dish so the oils in the sauce don't glug up and I'm not a big fish with bone eater but the tidbits underneath and around the fish that has absorbed most of the juices is divine. Yum.

Noodles were a little soft but my sister ate most of it and she likes soggy noodles so it was a win for her. AND it got her to drink a whole jug of water!

Spicy Lamb Ribs
The last dish to come was Jack's favourite. The lamb was infused with a spicy cumin flavour and the little wonton chips made the dish fun for me.

We don't normally eat Chinese food for dinner because it can get a bit boring and repetitive but Daphne's offers a decent amount of szechuan style dishes that are really delicious and their menu is pretty, with pictures that actually look like the food. Daphne herself (OMG it's her restaurant) is probably the nicest person working in a Chinese restaurant, which is a nice change, but she's probably a bit too nice for her own good sometimes.

It's nine days until I go to Auckland, did intend to eat a bit less to look good in my swimwear but you know... s*$! happens.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Yummy Yum Cha

The past week I've been super excited because Jack booked tickets to go to Auckland this month and I get to go to Tatsumi! I've already booked the table (a month in advance is not too eager...) and studied the menu, so it's going to be awesome!

We're also going to Rotorua for some hot pools action so I better somewhat control myself in the food area so I can still fit into my swimsuit the next day.

Turnip Cake, Congee and Cold Chicken Feet
Beef Brisket Rice Noodles
Shrimp Dumplings
Yum Cha staples:
  • Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gau)
  • Steamed Pork Dumplings (Siu Mai)
  • Steamed Pork Ribs
  • Steamed Chicken Feet
  • BBQ Pork Buns
I don't eat steamed chicken feet because it reminds me of wrinkly old ladies. I'm not the kind to be all ewww gross, feet, I mean I eat chicken so it's still chicken and I'm not disgusted by it in that way, just my brain just doesn't like the look of them. I will however eat them the other way because the texture is crunchy and I like how Red Bowl mixes it with sesame and chilli oil. Mmm oils.

I love pork ribs but I can't eat half of the pork ribs yum cha places offer because of one ingredient they add, and unfortunately they do add it. In Chinese cooking sometimes dried fruit peel is used with beef and pork to do something with the flavour and I hate it. Even if the amount is minuscule, it's the first thing I can taste and it's almost an instant gag reflex that I can't ignore sigh. So no yummy ribs for me.

As for the steamed pork dumplings and bbq pork buns, didn't really feel like it to be honest. 

I don't normally get time to take photos when I'm at yum cha and we go a lot. Traditionally it is a relaxing tea drinking affair but realistically there's such a rush and thrill to it that you just eat and leave. It's okay here for now, but apparently in a lot of other places they actually put time limits on how long you can be there for?! The pressure. 

Food at Red Bowl is nice, the one thing I think they do better than any other yum cha place in the city is their congee. It might not be anything amazing to look at, it's rice porridge, white glug, and sometimes you may have to adjust the flavor yourself slightly, but the consistency of that glug for people who know how to eat it that way is perfect and it has never disappointed me!

I also really enjoyed the english love songs they had playing, I haven't heard Boyzone and Wet, Wet, Wet since high school and it was great to reminisce about the good ole days... 

Now, I wonder if it will snow tonight and if I will still have to go to work tomorrow if it does... 

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