Holiday Foodsteps: Markets, Markets

I love hustly-bustly markets, especially ones that have food stalls thrown into the mix. Sydney has its fair share of markets, and all the ones we visited had food to offer. Happy times, indeed.

 Paddy's Market

Step into Paddy's Market and one gets transported to a different world, a world very much like our very own Petaling Street. Market City is a maze of stalls, selling perhaps the cheapest souvenirs in the city. Power through all the "I Love Sydney" t-shirts and boomerangs and you'll find a section of stalls selling fresh produce. Needless to say, we made repeated visits to the market, each time coming away with a lovely selection of summer fruits.

Gorgeous, juicy mangoes - gotta love mango season.

Even the king of fruits made an appearance

Sydney Fish Market 

Fruit markets are always good fun but fish markets have a special place in my heart. Oh, how I've missed you, Billingsgate. The Sydney Fish Market is one part market and one part food court, yes, it really does spoil you. 

Spotting an available table is half the battle won but the real test is in making your choices - and with display counters like these, it really is quite difficult to decide.

When in doubt, a combo is the best way to go - grilled all kinds of everything 

Plump, briney, sea-tasting oysters

Lobster mornay with a few grilled fish buddies. The flounder had me at first bite.

And if there's still any space left for dessert - a chocolate covered banana (or whatever other fruit you fancy), to end the meal on a sweet note. Chocolate covered treats aren't the only sweets on offer - we spotted pots of yogurt and some delicious looking ice cream bars but after all that seafood, our tummies surrendered and one bite of a chocolate covered banana was all some of us could handle.

Foodies Market at the Rocks 

Yes, the name itself is promising.

A stretch of stalls that formed a food street very much like London's Whitecross Market - all that sizzling and bubbling calling out to passers-by. 

The brother and his spinach gozleme - thin, crisp pastry filled with a mix of spinach and feta cheese. 

Curry laksa, from an Asian takeaway on the street perpendicular to the Foodies Market. Our inner Malaysians were curious, and were rewarded by a rather decent version (considering that it was a takeaway) of a local favourite.

Holiday Foodsteps: Hurricane's Bar and Grill and Chocolateria San Churros, Harbourside

When I mentioned that I'd be visiting Sydney for the first time in November, food recommendations started pouring in - "ribs!" "macarons!" "the fish market!".  I have to admit that for awhile, we only had restaurants on our itinerary. Of course, we did eventually strike a balance and do our share of non-food-related sightseeing, but with lots (and lots!) of happy food memories in between.

We discovered, to our pleasant surprise, that our hotel was really just a stone's throw away from Darling Harbour, so it was one of the very first places we visited. We spotted Hurricane's Grill and Bar pretty much as soon as we entered Harbourside Shopping Centre and were excited to be able to start striking items off our "must-eat" list.

Harbourside Shopping Centre
Shops 433-436, Level 2
Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia

Ribs, that's the name of the game here. It was pork all the way for us, despite the restaurant offering customers a choice of beef, lamb and pork. Sticky, sweet-smokey ribs worth getting your hands dirty for. While I still reminisce about those amazing Chicago Rib Shack ribs, still sitting at the top my my rib list, Hurricane's did help me get my fix, and for that I am grateful.

The mixed salad, our attempt at balancing out all the pork. 

Mussels cooked in creamy garlic sauce, a nice (creamy, as advertised) prelude to the ribs. 

You'd think that we'd be too full to move after a huge rib meal (and we were, to be fair) but holiday stomachs are different creatures altogether and you know what they always say about dessert - there's always, always space for it. 

Chocolateria San Churro
Shop 107/109 Harbourside Shopping Centre
2-10 Darling Drive
Darling Harbour, New South Wales
Australia 2000 

We'd seen this brightly lit outlet with the colourful interior on our way into the shopping centre - one of those warm, inviting dessert places that draws you in no matter how much you try to resist. 

We wanted something to share as we didn't think we could handle whole servings individually and the Chocolate and Churros Tapas seemed to fit the bill. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, a nibble here and there, and 7 satisfied grins. 

And that's how I knew, on the very first night, that I was going to like Sydney very much.

Santa, Buddy.

Whether you're having a white Christmas or an incredibly wet and rainy one - may it be filled with much love and merry-ness.

Reese's Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

I was given a bag of peanut butter chips recently and while I was tempted to eat them right out of the bag, just as they were, I decided that I'd be good and whip up a batch of cookies with them instead (of course, that didn't stop me from sneaking in a few mouthfuls of peanut butter chips in the process - quality control, you know). 

Adapted from's Reese's Original Peanut Butter Chip Cookies 
(Makes about 36)

3/4 butter, softened
1 1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups unsifted plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
140g peanut butter chips

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add eggs and beat well
Combine flour and baking soda
Add flour to batter in small batches, stir well (As always, I ended up using my hands)
Add chips and mix well
Wrap dough up with clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour 
Preheat oven to 176 degrees Celsius 
Drop teaspoon sized balls of dough onto a baking sheet-lined tray, about 2 cm apart and bake for 10-12 minutes (or until the cookies are a light brown)

I was almost certain that I had brown sugar in the cupboard but discovered, after a bit of digging around, that I had actually completely run out of it. I didn't want the cookies to be missing that slight caramel taste that brown sugar lends to cookies, though, so some innovation had to be employed. Chelsea Sugar - Baking Substitutions came to the rescue - with substitutions for most of the fundamental baking ingredients covered, this is definitely one handy link.

And the cookies?
Slight taste of caramel - check. Yummy salty-sweetness from the peanut butter chips - check. Addictive - CHECK. 


Duck n' Such, Hartamas Shopping Centre

Duck is right up there on my list of favourite proteins, so a name like "Duck n' Such" really does call out to me. There have been quite a few write-ups about the place of late, and it's not often that one comes across a restaurant that's really all about duck (and a few other "such"es) - so yes, a visit is definitely warranted.

Duck n’ Such
Lot G11A & B,
Ground Floor,
Hartamas Shopping Centre
Tel: 03 6143 2285

We were there for dinner one rainy weekday night and after getting just a little bit confused by Hartamas Shopping Centre (that place never ceases to confuse me), we found the outlet, and found that we were the only ones there (I have to admit, we were slightly unnerved by the lack of other customers).


The leafy fruity salad - as promised, a lovely mix of greens, grilled duck breast and nuttiness, topped with a deliciously fruity date vinaigrette reduction. This is clearly one way of getting people to eat their vegetables.

Salted vegetable and plum duck soup. We had high hopes for this one - with it being one of my childhood favourites. While the soup definitely packed a punch - it packed a bit too much of a punch. It would perhaps have been a lot more comforting (as soups should be) if the sour notes were tuned down by just a couple of notches. 

The Duck n' Such Signature Peking duck wrap, one of their (as so-named) signature dishes. Serving crispy, Peking duck with roti jala instead of the usual steamed, paper thin Chinese pancakes puts a giggle-worthy Malaysian twist to the dish. One can also opt to have their duck served simply with lettuce leaves, without the roti jala - for a lighter meal, perhaps?

 The skin was light and crisp, and the trio of accompanying sauces (sambal!) were good complements.

The overall menu is an interesting one and while a few kinks have to be worked out here and there (perhaps with just a little more time), I'm hoping that this will will grow into a dependable place to get your duck fix.

Fong Lye at the Gardens

There are a few places at the Gardens that are never without a queue come meal times, and I noticed that Fong Lye is one of them but there's something about the efficiency in which they deal with the queue that reminds me very much of Din Tai Fung - and I suspect that that's the reason why the queue doesn't intimidate customers.

Fong Lye Taiwanese Restaurant
Lot T208
3rd Floor
The Gardens
Mid Valley City
Kuala Lumpur

Tel No: 03- 2282 8699

Fong Lye runs on a simple, hearty concept - set meals with a few options for sides. One can get a little spoilt for choice, and I remember hmming and hawwing for quite sometime over my options on my first visit to the restaurant. Sets generally feature a main dish accompanied by rice (or noodles, in same cases), soup, and a small selection of appetisers.

This time though, it was a simple - dad wanted soup so we thought that the steamboat set would be perfect. I'm not entirely if the set is meant for one but enough food came for two, so no complaints there. The set came with a nice little mix of ingredients - thin slices of pork, golden mushrooms, fish derivatives and my personal favourite, slices of pumpkin (I'd never thought I'd see pumpkin as part of a steamboat set before).

Clear, mild soup - no overseasoning here. 

Some fried mushrooms on the side - coated with batter that tasted not unlike a deep fried Chinese doughnut (from the addition of Chinese five spices to the batter, perhaps).

A special soy sauce mix (we detected some white radish, among other things) that was a lovely complement to everything. 

While it probably doesn't serve up the best of the best, Fong Lye is a good place if you're on the lookout for a complete meal (fish and egg in tomato gravy, anyone?) and with good, quick service as well as a pleasant ambiance, the queue really doesn't come as a surprise. 

Simple Tulip and Star Cookies

Cookie cutters - once you go metal, you can never go back. Oh, to think I used to battle it out with my plastic cookie cutters - how one has to apply a lot more pressure onto the cutter to cut through the dough, how the plastic gets a bit too sticky from the dough after awhile. I got this new set of very girly cookie cutters for my birthday (along with the Hummingbird Cake Days recipe book) and have just been waiting for a cookie-cutting occasion to come along so when there was mention of a surprised birthday party involving a very girly theme of pastel and butterflies, I knew it was time.

For the cookies, a little tweak of a Christmas cookie recipe - I left out the spices to make them a little more kid-friendly.

Adapted from a recipe for spiced Christmas tree cookies from the BBC Good Food Festive Collection 2011:

85g butter (softened)
250g all-purpose flour
1 egg 
2 tablespoons golden syrup
200g sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add egg, golden syrup and vanilla essence and continue mixing. 
Sift flour, baking powder and salt and fold into to the butter mixture bit by bit, mixing well with a wooden spoon (or by kneading with your hands - the easier route, in my opinion).
Wrap the cookie dough with cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (I let it sit in the fridge overnight).
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius
Roll out the dough (sandwich the dough between two pieces of cling film before rolling out with a rolling pin to avoid the dough sticking to everything) until about 2.5 mm thick, punch out shapes with the cookie cutters and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. 
Place in the oven for about 7 minutes, or until cookies turn a light golden brown. 

You can probably gather from this picture that I couldn't quite decide how I wanted to decorate the cookies. It was an evening of experimenting - piping vanilla glaze, piping green vanilla glaze, using the glaze as edible glue for rainbow stars, dusting with icing sugar. The works. 

I finally decided, after making quite a mess, that I would stick to using good old chocolate glaze - melting half a bar of cooking chocolate with a teaspoon of butter, dusting the whole cookie with a thin, thin layer of icing sugar and dunking one half of each cookie in the glaze. 


So they didn't turn out quite like I imagined them to be (pretty, pastel coloured) but they were still  popular, especially with the kids. I think I'm going to start using golden syrup a lot more now - I love the slightly caramel-y flavour that it lends to everything.

Golden syrup and metal cookie cutters - I think I've found some new pals.

Also, if anyone knows a good alternative to royal icing, I'd be glad to hear from you.

Little Korea, Solaris Mont Kiara

I had my heart set on steaming hot soup, and not just any soup but one that had that distinct Korean flavour that's always such a thrill. Having spotted a few Korean places in Solaris Mont Kiara before, we decided to just park our car and take a walk to suss out the options. Little Korea won hands down on first impressions - with the smell of meat being barbecued and the slight buzz from diners who were already tucking into dinner despite it being a bit before dinner hour.

Little Korea Korean Restaurant
5-3 7-3 9-3, Jalan Solaris One
Solaris Mont Kiara,
Kuala Lumpur

Sure, the sizzle from the barbecue was tantalising but when one's heart is set, one's heart is set. Hot pot it was.

To kickstart the appetite - eight side dishes, and a nice little mix of dishes too.

At the top of my list - light, smooth, comforting steamed egg. 

We decided against a kimchi-based hot pot, opting instead for a pork rib hot pot which featured a less spicy broth. When it arrived at our table, in all its bubbling, gurgling glory, we knew that we'd made the right choice. Bordering between soup and stew, our pot came with a generous amount of pork ribs, cabbage, chunks of potatoes and springy bits of golden mushroom. 

I'm rather unaccustomed to seeing such huge chunks of pork ribs - despite their size, they were deliciously tender and had a lovely, hearty, porky goodness to it.

I like that Korean restaurants usually cover all bases - our meal ended on a sweet (and refreshing!) note with a serving of fruits and a sweet drink made out of rice ("Barley, but rice," offered our kind waitress).

It's a good thing we decided not to add a serving of Korean-style pancake to our order - the "small" hot pot was more than enough for two, what with the bottomless side dishes. In fact, I reckon that the hot pot could comfortably feed a party of three or four (and yes, by comfortable I mean not leaving the restaurant chiding yourself for thinking that you could handle "just one last bowl of soup").

So yes, steaming hot soup - check. I see myself coming back for more - and how can you not, when a restaurant wishes all its diners "all the best"?

A Sneak Peak: Chilli's Bar & Grill, Paradigm Mall

Trial runs and sneak peeks don't come along very often yet there I was, seated at a table at the just-about-to-open Chilli's Grill & Bar in Paradigm Mall, eager to see what the new addition to the Chilli's family had to offer.

Chilli's Grill & Bar,
GB 01 (Ground Floor), 
Paradigm Mall
1, Jalan SS 7/26A,
Kelana Jaya, 47301
Petaling Jaya, Selangor 

 While the full menu wasn't available for the trial run, the full range of drinks and most of the crowd favourites, food-wise, were available.

Tender and flavourful, the Southwestern Grilled Lamb

The New York Strip, which got a nod of approval from my dinner buddy.

The El Nino Margarita - such a good-looking cocktail, don't you think? 

The dinner buddy - savouring his last morsel of beef. 

The Tropical Sunrise Margarita

Chilli's has always been rather popular for their margaritas (oh, those huge servings!) and while both margaritas were satisfying, the El Nino Margarita came out on top for me (so much so, I ended up swapping drinks with my dinner buddy).

For dessert, cheesecake served over strawberry sauce. Smooth creamy cheese, addictive biscuit base (I think I'm going to start extending the biscuit base up to the sides of all my cheesecakes now) - a lovely end to the meal.

The new outlet seems to be off to a good start - service was smooth, the staff friendly and the food up to par. I think it's safe to say that it's going to do its older siblings proud.

Officially opens its doors on Friday, 21st September 2012.