27 Jan 2010

melbourne hwaro korean bbq

I was never one to be interested in Korean history, culture of even food. Heck, the only food I know Koreans eat is kimchi and bimbap (from tutor who speaks fondly of it). Since my friends have been eating Korean BBQ and I've seen blog posts for it, I decided to try Korean BBQ!

I txted Thangstahh and asked Murasaki about the Korean BBQ places they've ate it. Turns out the ones they've dined in were teppanyaki style. We have all the teppanyaki hot plates at home and my parents (who watch way too much Korean dramas) wanted to try the drama way - BBQ-ing the meats over coal or fire. I did a quick google search and Hungry Hamster did a review of a Korean BBQ restaurant which had what we all had in mind. I promptly made the bookings and Hwaro it is!


As my family eat dinner quite early, I booked at 5 PM which is the time they open for the dinner service. Don't know if it is because we were the first ones there, but we had TERRIFIC service. The waiters and waitresses were all professionals and knowledgeable! We weren't being hurried about what to order and they gave great suggestions.


The interior was extremely orderly, neat and clean. It gave me kind of a high class restaurant feel, especially the high chairs I was sitting on.

Each table has a wooden board (for the BBQ pot) and set out dishes and on top of each table was a ventilator (?) exhaust fan (?). The ventilator thing sucks up all the smoke, so the atmosphere won't be smoky and you won't leave the shop with BBQ scented clothing.


Each table also has one of these red buzzers. It's like the aeroplane staff assistance button. Click on it and a waiter or waitress will appear right before your very eyes (only the flight attendants are so damn slow). It makes a door bell ringing noise and it's pretty loud...a bit embarrassing.

Bong-bong @ $3

There was a selection of drinks from wine to cocktails to your average everyday drinks. I chose a Korean drink called Pear Punch at first however changed my mind when the waitress told me what a bong-bong was. Bong-bong is a sweet muscat (think grapes) flavoured drink with floating pieces of muscat. The taste is very familiar.

Korean dumplings @ $12

Unlike Chinese dumplings, Korean dumplings are flat. It had a vegetarian filling consisting mostly of cabbage. I liked the thin and crispy dumpling skin.

A slice of seafood pancake @ $15

All the bloggers who've been to Korean restaurant have suggested Korean pancakes are a must order, so we ordered one HAHA. Without the sauce, the pancake is rather doughy and tasteless, however once you dip it into the accompanied sweet sipping sauce, the whole flavour changes!

A selection of side dishes (included)

Didn't touch the kimchi or the spicy shredded lettuce, nor the blanched bean shoots. However I think I am strangely addicted to the fermented soy beans! I thought they were Japanese natto, but its not. The soy beans are sweet and chewy.

Scotch fillet @ $18.90, Mushrooms @ $5

The waitress bought out our ordered meat and started to BBQ it for us. We didn't have to a thing! Just sit and wait to be served. When the meat was cooked we were then asked to start eating. Felt so good to just sit there and wait to be served!

Thigh fillet (chicken) @ $15.90 (?)

Unlike the beef, the chicken was marinated. However when BBQ-ed, both have a tempting aroma and taste.

Walked out spending $100, although my dad complained about the 15 minute walk to and from and the small portioned food, I think he secretly liked it XD

Can't wait to the next visit! Although Korean BBQ over teppanyaki is slightly cheaper, I don't think it will be as tasty as flame grilled!


Melbourne Hwaro Korean BBQ

562 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Phone: (03) 9642 5696

25 Jan 2010

how to: choux a la creme

Half a year of of through research on one particular recipe, the choux pastry and how to make a perfect cream puff. I bring you this un-professional commentary of my experience :) Sorry if you don't understand my notes...

Cream puffs have always been on my baking list. However I thought it was a lot of work making the pastry and custard. As I always seem to burn my custard, I didn't dare bake choux shells since I'll have no filling! Recently I had luck with custard, so I decided to finally give choux a go. To be honest, this time is my second time baking choux shells. The first time was a flop. The choux shells deflated upon cooling.

After that failure, I decided to research about choux pastry (wiki information) ; how it's made and the method to make a perfect choux shell. I combined the recipe, baking times and tips from Keiko, Matt Moran's new cook book "When I get home" and publisher Hamlyn's "How to cook".

I'm not going to post the ingredients, but only the method, because I'm not even sure if this is going to work out a second time. This is only going to be a guide and a personal reference.

choux a la creme guide

  • Melt butter and bring to a boil with the milk (butter and milk must be combined - not a layer of butter on top)
  • Turn of heat and add all the sifted flour
  • Stir until dough comes together and doesn't stick to the sides
  • Add beaten egg one at a time and beat hard to incorporate
  • The dough will break up, but keep stirring until it comes together
  • The dough will look something like this, beat in another egg until the dough reaches the correct consistency (3 small eggs)
  • the correct consistency - soft enough to fall of a wooden spoon
  • Put dough in a piping bag and pipe out 4-5 cm diameter rounds (15 on one tray) using a pastry brush, flick water droplets on the dough and tray
  • Bake: 180 degrees fan forced for 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 130 degrees fan forced for 8-10 minutes until dry
  • Take out of oven and prick a small hole at the bottom
  • Return to oven, door ajar and cool

Yummy, yummy choux a la creme :) Tastes best on the day made!

I've tried Puffy, which is a a cookie crust on top of a choux. Yet to try Beard Papa's cream puffs. Although Jun did say Beard Papa's were expensive and not as nice as Puffy...

24 Jan 2010

where's the custard?!

Ever since M told be about Mira's food blog (Japanese), I began to admire her baking, cooking and photography skills. It was just like WOW!! What a pro! Talk about being impressed! I've tried a few of her recipes and they always turn our better than I expected. The textures of the cakes are really fluffy and it's not dry or anything.

When she announced she was pregnant, I was really, really happy for her. But that meant her baking slowed down quite a bit. So it was pretty rare to see a new recipe out. However she did blog her progress and shared photos of her previous bakes and her cat :)

This time I chose to make a custard filled banana cake. Funny thing was when I was halfway, I noticed the bananas were not on the bench top. PANIC ATTACK! So I incorporated the flours in so the creamed mixture wouldn't curdle and left straight away to the green grocers.

I didn't even bother going to Coles because I don't think they will sell over riped bananas. Thankfully the green grocers had a whole lot and it didn't cost me that much too! I rushed back home and continued on.

I piped in custard in the middle of the cake before baking however, when the cake was done, the custard was no where to be seen. Which leaves me with the ultimate question, where's the custard?!

Probably evaporated of something...? I don't see the custard on Mira's photo either. Oh well, the cake was really fluffy and light :D

Edit: I found the custard in the later part of the cake XD

On a note, Happy 17th Birthday SARS :)

23 Jan 2010

basic cut out cookies

I've been trying to find the basic cut out cookies I made at school a few years ago. The recipe was so easy, that the teacher didn't give us a handout of the recipe as it was written up on the chalk board. I tried asking a friend from school, but he really helpful as he told me to mix up a bunch of ingredients together without any measurements... When the new school year starts, I'm going to ask for the same recipe :)

As a substitution, I made cut out cookies using HHB's recipe. Hers is much tastier, crunchier and looks better than mine, however takes more time than the one I used at school. I was thinking of frosting these, but I changed my mind. I like it plain and not so sweet.

basic cut out cookies
adapted from HHB's pooh and piglet cut out cookies
later edited by me

150 degrees Celsius
fan forced

makes approximately 35
  • 100 grams unsalted butter
  • 80 grams sugar
    (it's more crunchy that using caster, I think)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 180 grams plain flour, sifted
  • 20 grams corn flour, sifted
  • water, if necessary
1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in the egg yolk and mix well.

2. Add in the sifted flour and mix to form a dough. If the mixture is dry, add in water until you get a pliable dough. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Lightly flour a working surface, rolling pin and cookie cutter. Roll the dough until it's 0.5 cm thick. Cut dough with a cookie cutter.
Note: I re-rolled my dough 3-4 times. I had no problem with hard cookies.

4. Gently lift the cut out cookies with a flat bladed knife and move to a lined baking tray.
5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
As I took them out from my oven, my sister and I engaged in the following conversation:
Sister: Are they cooked? They look so white.
Grub: Yeah they are, why?
Sister: I want them burnt!!
Grub: ...
- Transferring the biscuits from baking tray to cooling rack -
Sister: (checks the bottom of the biscuits) Dang! They're not burnt!
What a nice sister...

17 Jan 2010

layered agar agar (燕菜糕)

Layers and layers and layers

Agar agar, probably my most favourite type of jelly I've ever eaten. I have ate this year after year after year but never attempted to make it. I asked my mum for the recipe last Sunday and since it was so easy, I decided to layer it with two colours.

The recipe itself was passed down from my grandma to my mum and then to me, so it's probably a very reliable recipe :)

Coconut milk and agar agar powder


layered agar agar
(coconut and milo flavour)

makes around 2 litres
size depends on moulds
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 can of coconut milk (400 mL)
  • white sugar, to taste
    (I used around 1 cup)
  • 1 packet of agar agar powder (25 g)
    (agar agar is also known as kanten)
  • 1/2 cup Milo powder
1. Heat the water until boiling, stir in the agar agar powder. Stir until the agar agar is dissolved.
2. Pour in the coconut milk and stir consistently. When the liquid is at boiling point, turn off heat.
3. Divide liquid into half and add milo powder to one half. Stir until the colour is even.
4. Pour a thin layer of brown or white liquid into a few moulds and put into fridge to cool. In approximately 2 minutes, the liquid will set.
5. When the liquid becomes firm to the touch, pour in another thin layer of the other colour and place in the fridge to cool.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until there is no more liquid left.
One of the moulds I used

You can use any moulds you like, just make sure they can sustain heat.

14 Jan 2010

konnyaku jelly on a 43 degree day

Mission: Retrieve konnyaku jelly and shoot down the sun.

It's been hot...too hot for the past few days (it's cooled down now :D). Even so, the heat doesn't really stop me from venturing in the kitchen nor does it stop Eira from gaming in his 35 degree Celsius room. Call me crazy, but my hobby really doesn't get affected by the heat.

The other day I went to sleep in a sofa downstairs and I was deciding what to make, konnyaku or agar agar. Because I thought konnyaku was going to be faster than making agar agar, I decided to make konnyaku. After all, it only needs 10 minutes of stirring over high heat and 5 minutes of stirring over low heat. 15 minutes of hell.

Well it should be faster than boiling 2.5 litres of water. Konnyaku only has approximately 1.5 litres of water after mixing water with the jelly powder. Cooking instinct :P

Konnyaku jelly retrieved..now to shoot down the sun for good

The jelly set in no time and the next problem was fridge space. You see, one third of the fridge is occupied by water and the rest full of vegetables, defrosting meat, leftover dinners etc. So clearing space took more time, but I enjoyed the cool breeze on my face.

Shooting down the sun is impossible unless you're Houyi

Konnyaku is available at all good Asian stores in Melbourne. I've seen some on sale for about $3.50. If you can't find any, I suggest you ask a friend in Malaysia to send you some. If you have never eaten konnyaku before, it's like chewy jelly kinda like gummi. Tastes nothing like Aeroplane jelly.

Very, very, very HOT!

13 Jan 2010

baking bread

It was a hot day last Friday. I checked on iGoogle, and it said Melbourne was 34 degrees Celsius. As I am a person who hates the heat, I don't dare bake anything on hot days, as the oven makes the house more hotter. Friday was an exception. I wanted to bake bread and use the heat to make the dough rise.

I flicked through "Reader's Digest Bake with Love", a thick recipe book I received from Eira last year for my 16th birthday. I bookmarked about 15 recipes, but I never made anything from it until Friday because everything seemed so hard. That Friday I was determined to bake a loaf of bread and I did.

I halved the recipe because this was my first time baking bread and luckily I did because it turned out to be very big! I don't want to imagine how much bread I'll have if i didn't.

Turns out baking bread wasn't so hard. It just takes a long time for the dough to rise. The bread turned out a bit dry and hard because I probably over kneaded it because I forgot to add an ingredient (how shameful!) and slightly over baked it. But it's still edible and I like it toasted with jam or cream cheese.

I'm going to attempt bake another type of bread from the same recipe book and hopefully it's softer that this one.

Remember this book Eira? Thanks again! :)

12 Jan 2010

大福の大冒険 - daifuku adventures

Daifuku is a type of wagashi (traditional Japanese sweet) and the kanji 大福 stands for "great fortune/luck". It is made from mochi (glutinous rice cake) and has a sweet filling inside. Usually there is anko but there are some that have whole pieces of fruit, like the いちご大福 (ichigo daifuku) which is shown in Obachan's blog. Daifuku is also covered in a thin layer of starch to prevent the skin from sticking to other daifuku and also to your hands.

Nowadays, commercial daifuku contain fillings such as melon, blueberry and cream etc. There are even daifuku with ice cream as fillings (LOTTE 雪見だいふく) which I have ate before. We bought a whole box with 24 packs which was at wholeseller's price since it was on an order form for restaurant use (it's cheaper that way).

Because commercial daifuku and ice cream daifuku is so expensive to buy in Australia, I decided to make my own. I made a small bucket full of anko (see photo here, I edited an old post) the other day because I wanted to make some snacks which use anko as a main ingredient. Daifuku is just one of the few I intend to make in the next few days.

Mixing the ingredients in a microwavable container

The recipe I used was posted up by Obachan. I didn't have some of the ingredients, so I edited the recipe by a bit. The following ingredients are the ones I used:

  • 150 grams glutinous rice flour
  • 170 mL water
  • 1/2 tsp maccha (ground green tea) powder
  • 1 Tb of anko for each mochi
  • potato starch for dusting

After mixing

Obachan's recipe was very detailed in the instructions and even had step by step photographs. For that reason, I'm not going to post a recipe up. Instead, a commentary of my experience in making daifuku.

Just came out of the microwave - 2 minutes in an 1000W microwave

Is this what elastic means?

Obachan was right, stirring the mochi requires a strong arm. It was very hard to stir, plus it's stickiness didn't really help.

Gave up! HAHA

If you think stirring the skin was tough, wait till you try to take it out of the container! I gave up using the wooden stick and used my hands. The above photo was how much I left in the container, because I gave up. Next time I'll use a ceramic bowl, since it's shallower.

Wrapping the daifuku

I ended up with 11 pieces of skin. I wrapped the mochi with 1 Tb of anko.

Cleaning up the container was a pain. The mochi was so sticky so I left it there to soak in warm water for a few hours and it still was sticky. Somewhat easier to clean though.

Ready to eat! いただきます♪ Best eaten fresh :) Do not refridgerate...the daifuku becomes hard.

Daifuku reminds me of the game Harvest Moon. At the end of the year, there is an "End of Year Festival" where all the villagers gather to make mochi (rice cake). The elderly avoid eating mochi as it can get stuck in their throat.

This actually happens in real life as well! Because of it's sticky and chewy texture, the mochi gets stuck in people's throat (especially the elderly) and they don't have the strength to cough it out. So it gets stuck and they end up choking to death. Scary huh?

I also happened to choke on daifuku on the very day I made it...

8 Jan 2010

claw machine frenzy

A few days ago, I went out with Eira and Thangstahh as part of our "meet at least once in the term holidays". I haven't seen each other in while, so it was a good catch up of what's going on in everyone's lives. Turns out we have a pretty good plan of what we hope to achieve for our ATAR and our plan onwards.

Thangstahh's new iTouch

Arriving in the city, we met up with Eira at Menya located at Melbourne Central. Whilst they ate their ramen, I mucked around with Thangstahh's iTouch. Cooking Mama was fun, but I prefer playing it on Nintendo DS.

Help! My prize is stuck! Claw machine FAIL!

We visited our usual places and Photo World is of course one of them. What was funny was when I bent down to get my prize, it didn't come out! Instead it was stuck on the claw, so Eira went to call the staff over to rescue it.

My efforts for that day

Spent a total of $3 for 2 plush toys. As I bumped into Dimitri and Murasaki at the train station, they wanted to meet me at Photo World; Dimitri wanted to challenge me at claw machine (he ended up using $10 for 3 plush toys) and Murasaki was "I can't wait to meet someone" We ended up leaving before they came because we finished our budgeted money.

Went to Cue City to play pool and I left during the 4th game because I had to get back to close down the cafe.

It was a fun day, and the highlight was that some guy literally ran to Photo World to play claw machine and failed epic.

Tip of the day: Don't waste all your gold coins on one claw machine. Go try your luck at the other machines :)

7 Jan 2010

南天寺 - nan tien temple

Main entrance

The last stop in Sydney was to pay a visit to Nan Tien Temple which is located on top of a hill in Wollongong. We planned to visit this during our way to Sydney, however rainy weather delayed us from going.

View from the top of the main entrance

This is by far the most impressive temple I've seen in my life! The size of it is just remarkable. Statues, decorations, size was very outstanding compared to the one I frequent.

做好事,说好话,存好心; Do good things, Speak good words, Think good thoughts. Beyond the Realm of Conscience much?

Incense pot in front of the main entrance

Main Shrine

Everything is so neat and orderly. It's a really spiritual and relaxing place to be in.

Pagoda (reminds me of La Zha and Monkey King)

A temple which has some what turned into a tourist attraction. There were quite a far few foreigners and some even walking their dogs!

We only stayed for around half an hour to look around and take photos. Other than that we went to pray and headed home.

This brings an end to my holiday in Sydney :) Hope you enjoyed the mass photo posts.

For more information, please visit Nan Tien Temple's website.