Monday, December 24, 2012

Kazbah, Darling Harbour

I know I've been very quiet lately and haven't been very active on the blogging front... But it's because I got a new job! It's at a very small company, but it's a start in my career so I've been busy working there from 9-5, cramming in as much work before Christmas. So unfortunately, I haven't had much time to go out. But my sister and I snatched up the chance to meet up with a very old friend (we've known each other since before I even went to Kindergarten!) over lunch as soon as the weekend rolled around.

Water with fancy green leaves
Kazbah has been on my list of places to eat for a while now, for their legendary French toast. Look at it!

French toast, bacon, glazed baby figs, double cream& apple cinnamon syrup, $18.00
If there's one thing you need to order when you go to Kazbah, this is it. The bread had soft innards surrounded by a deliciously crunchy crust. Look at that fatty bacon as well! Tastes amazing but cannot be good for my arteries :P But the sweet figs paired perfectly with the bacon and syrup. I've become the biggest fan of the bacon and syrup combination every since breakfast at Pancakes on the Rocks!

The camel burger - camel kafta, grilled eggplant, rocket, tzatziki, haloumi & chips, $21.00
Our curiousity got the best of us and we ordered the camel burger. What would camel meat taste like? It reminded me of beef, though there was a distinct smell much like lamb. The taste wasn't too prominent because there was a lot of spices used within the patty to give it flavour. And I suppose it's always hard to discern differences in meat patties! The Turkish bread was charred to give it a lovely crunchy edge. The chips here are worth mentioning because of the seasoning! I love some spiced chips (:

Chahi - yemini sweet milky tea, $4.50
This tea had nice hints of ginger and cinnamon, but wasn't too strong. Shame they used a teabag for this! I'm always disappointed when I order tea out and instead of loose-leaf, I get a teabag. It is quite dissatisfying. I am however, admiring the crockery (:

We walked to San Churros and spent a significant amount of time catching up there over cold drinks as it was a hot day. Nothing like air conditioning in shopping centres to beat that!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas filled with joy and happiness. Wishing you all the best!

The Promenade, Harbourside Shopping Centre
Darling Harbour, NSW, 2000
9555 7067

Kazbah Darling Harbour on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 14, 2012

Banana Bread

Funny thing is when I was young, I used to hate bananas. And when I say hate, I mean absolutely despise them. While I love my grandpa to bits, he used to always try to get me to eat the weirdly textured, awful tasting fruit trying to enlighten me about the great nutrients it has. He never really did convince me to eat them.

Fast forward a decade and now I eat bananas most days strangely enough. Amusing how things turn out don't they? On the other hand, my boyfriend sees bananas at the enemy (don't worry, you don't have to eat this banana bread!) but that's not a problem - more for me!

This banana bread is awesome fresh out of the oven. Cut through the crunchy top and you will be rewarded with a soft fluffy crumb that will have you coming back for more. The best thing is that banana bread recipes require old bananas that are spotty so you can get rid of them before they go bad!

A question I have for you, dear reader, is have you ever thought about why banana bread is categorised as 'bread'? I think it's to trick us into thinking we aren't devouring cake when in actual fact, we really are ;)

Banana Bread
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


3 medium-large bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup of flour


1. Preheat oven to 180C.

2. Mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.

3. Beat in sugar, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and stir in.

4. Add the flour and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

5. Pour batter into a greased 10 x 20cm loaf pan.

6. Bake for 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

7. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve. Eat!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Menya Mappen, Sydney CBD

For a quick meal fix before watching The Perks of Being A Wallflower (Which was really good! If you liked the book, you'll like the movie because Stephen Chbosky who wrote the novel also directed it!) yesterday, the boy and I went to Menya Mappen! Some hot noodles were exactly what I felt like eating because it was cold and windy outside. I really don't know what's happening with Sydney's summer... What I love about Menya Mappen is how quick everything is served. It really functions like a well-oiled machine. Looking at the concise menu, I easily took my pick. Spicy pork it was!

For those of you who haven't had a Mappen experience, you order at the counter with this guy who then speed cooks your noodles too! Take your pick out of regular or large, depending on how hungry you are or how big your appetite is. Check out all those strainers for easy draining of the noodles.

You will then slide your tray along and pass all that tempting tempura calling out your name in all their oily goodness. The noodle dishes themselves are really cheap but adding on a few pieces here will quickly add up so don't go too crazy so there won't be any surprises when paying at the counter later on!

Regular bukkake spicy pork miso with soba, $5.90
At the end where you pay, you can also take a scoop of tempura flakes or spring onion. I chose spring onion because who doesn't like the freshness of spring onion? The noodles were cooked exactly how I liked them - still retaining a bit of bite. The spicy pork mince was awesome too! Though the spices combined with the heat radiating off of the heater to keep all that tempura hot really started to get to me halfway through my bowl. It was getting really hot! I would really suggest you to sit far away from the tempura bar unless you like overheating haha.

Sweet potato tempura, $1.00 ;  Takoyaki, $2.00
I have a neverending love for sweet potato and sweet potato with a super crunchy tempura batter on the outside? I'm totally won over. Takoyaki is always delicious and $2.00 for the whole stick was too cheap for me to resist.

Menya Mappen will always be my stop for a quick noodle fix if I'm craving for a warm, comforting bowl of noodles (:

Menya Mappen
Shop 11, 537 - 551 George Street
Sydney, 2000, NSW
9283 5525

Opening Hours
Sunday - Wednesday: 11:30am - 10:00pm
Thursday - Saturday: 11:30am - 10:30pm

Menya Mappen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Xanthi 2, Sydney CBD

Having been to Xanthi before, I was in the mood for some Greek food and suggested we go here to catch up for lunch. A and R readily agreed after our experience with a dodgy Asian waiter at Athenien Greek.The service here is always super friendly and upon arrival, we were given some samples of smoked eel croquettes with red pepper mayonnaise which were delicious and just the thing we needed to whet our appetite.

What I love about Xanthi are their Ouzomezedakia - small sharing plates! Sharing is caring (:

Alexander's Taste Of Persia, $13.00
Our healthy salad was first to arrive consisting of carrots, roasted chickpeas, dried apricots, sumac, and yogurt dressing. I instantly fell in love with the roasted chickpeas which were so crunchy and so much better than croutons! I am definitely roasting chickpeas next time at home. That salad was refreshing and the dried apricots worked surprisingly well with the creamy yogurt dressing which verged on the sweet mayonnaise side as opposed to the tangyness I was expecting.

Eggplant and feta Patties, $14.00
I adore eggplant and so do my friends! So it wasn't a surprise when all our eyes zoomed in on this dish. The crunchy and aromatic black and white sesame crumb coating on the outside was opened to reveal a smooth eggplant, fetta and basil centre which was so flavoursome I almost forgot about the lime and paprika ricotta underneath the patties! But when eaten together, these patties were wow.

Lahanika tiganites, $14.00
Zucchini flowers is something I've always heard about but for some reason, I had yet to try it. We were all curious enough to order this and eager to have a taste of our first zucchini flowers! There were zucchini flowers, oyster mushrooms, eggplant and artichoke in this one single dish! It was hard to tell what was what because they had all been crumbed and things all tend to look the same after that has occurred... But I think I managed to try a bit of each and they were all wonderful. I actually really enjoyed the artichoke! Which is another vegetable I've never had before. Ah, I am still young and yet to experience the wonders of the world.

Special of the day - stuffed calamari, $15.00
When the waitress mentioned the special of the day, we were all quite intrigued. The calamari was stuffed with rice, mince and mint leaves and was smothered with a rich tomato sauce. The stuffing really reminded me vine leaf dolmathes, but without the sour element. The tomato sauce was full of herbs and was heavenly. Combined with the soft calamari, I really enjoyed this dish.

Caramel baklava ice-cream, $15.00
I've heard wonderful things about the caramel baklava icecream so it was something I wanted to try! The vanilla ice-cream was heady with vanilla bean - we could see the black specks throughout which made it a really good vanilla ice-cream. None of that Home Brand business. The caramel was sweet and buttery and oh-so-divine. If only they sandwiched layers of baklava in between the vanilla ice-cream ;)

Banana ekmek, $15.00
We were really indecisive about our second dessert. We were tossing up between the Banana Ekmek and Garden of Aphrodite until David came along and recommended the banana ekmek as more of a sharing dessert so banana ekmek it was! There were two banana pieces which were wrapped with kataifi to make them very reminiscent of the banana fritters I've had at Ms G's! I loved the crunchy exterior dusted with cinnamon. Who doesn't love cinnamon? :D There was also a quenelle of chocolate mousse which was fluffy yet rich at the same time. The salted caramel was served as two small cubes and were very thick - almost the consistency of fudge but not quite. We were quite heavy on the caramel today weren't we?

We left very full at the end of our meal and very satisfied with the quality of the dishes. I would definitely say Xanthi s one of my favourites. Service is friendly and food is consistently delicious!

Xanthi Bar & Restaurant
Level 6 Dining Precinct, Westfield Sydney
100 Market St
Sydney NSW 2000
9232 8535

Opening Hours:
Sunday - Thursday: 11am - 10pm
Friday - Saturday: 11am - 11pm

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Nutino Brownies With Peanut Butter Swirls

Have you ever decided that you wanted some Nutella on a cold Winter's day only to open the jar and discover that the consistency of your Nutella is well, hard? And not to mention completely unspreadable on bread? Well one day, a friend of mine introduced me to Nutino. It's like Nutella only it doesn't become a strange texture on cold days! Not to mention it's also cheaper! Do I need to convince anyone anymore?

A while back when Nutino was half price, we bought a few jars and this last particular jar had been sitting in our pantry shelf for quite some time. My sister was craving brownies so a batch of brownies were going to be made! (aren't I the nicest sister?)

These brownies are awesome. Gooey just out of the oven, and wonderfully chewy if left to cool. The Nutino taste isn't too prominent, but it seems to help make the brownies richer. If that wasn't enough, I decided to swirl some peanut butter into half the mixture to see how that fared too. It was nice, but I think classic chocolate will always win! The brownies were all gone by the end of the day of the day.

Nutino Brownies With Peanut Butter Swirls
An original recipe by Crystal Noir

Makes one batch using a 26 x 17cm pan


For Nutino Brownie
1/2 cup light Olive Spread (you can substitute margarine or butter)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup Nutino
1/2 cup baking cocoa
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup milk

For Peanut Butter Swirl
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp plain flour


Preheat oven to 180C and line your tray with baking paper.

To make the brownies
1. Add Olive Spread, sugar, eggs, vanilla essence, salt and Nutino to a large bowl and beat until combined.

2. Mix in baking cocoa and flour until just combined.

3. If the mixture looks a bit too thick, add in desired amount of milk. I ended up using a quarter of a cup of milk.

4. Pour/spoon batter into baking pan.

To make peanut butter swirl
1. Combine all the ingredients. It should resemble a thick paste.

2.Drop little blobs of the peanut butter paste on top of the brownie batter.

3. Using a skewer/chopstick/knife, swirl the blobs together until you are satisfied with how it looks.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cut and then eat!

The peanut butter flavour wasn't too prominent as you can see from my first photo. The peanut butter only sits at the top. So if you are a fan of peanut butter and want a more prominent flavour, I would suggest pouring in half your brownie batter, spoon some blobs of peanut butter, then cover it with the rest of your brownie batter, top it with the remaining peanut butter paste, and then swirl.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Girl, you know you shine

 I have become very much enamoured by gold recently! I had been eyeing a watch designed by Marc Jacobs for quite some time and was sad to discover that not all of his Marc by Marc Jacobs line was stocked down south. In Australia. But this is where online shopping gives us a helping hand! It really is quite handy (but probably a bad thing simultaneously!) that you are almost constantly a mere click away from being able to buy anything you want.

My boyfriend was lovely enough to buy this for me from ShopBop and I had been waiting excitedly for just over a week for it to arrive in the mail. Sure enough, it came early in the morning at around 8am just yesterday! I was surprised by the large box as it only contained a mere watch but all was explained when I excitedly tore into the packaging to discover that there was a lot of foam and brown paper used to protect your purchase. Of course the watch itself was packaged, but there was also another ShopBop gift box that encased it.

Even the box is pretty!
Marc by Marc Jacobs Henry Glitz Watch, RRP $275.00
The watch itself was beautiful! It was a bit bigger than what I was expecting but it makes it all the easier to read the face. Us Asians are small in general so our wrists are quite tiny. Therefore, the watch was quite big but after watching a handy YouTube video on how to remove links, I successfully removed three links and it now fit much better! I never realised how easy it was and saved myself the time and money if I had gotten it professionally done.

Another purchase I made myself a while ago on Spreets was this necklace. My name never pops up anywhere so when I saw this offer, I found it pretty hard to resist! Yes, it may be a bit obnoxious but it's so Carrie! (Sex and the City)

This deal was amazingly cheap so I had to get it. I waited oh so patiently for this to arrive. It took about a month! But it arrived in the end and I'm very happy with this purchase. I'm pretty sure they have a website where you can customise your own name necklace too. Ouffer currently has a deal for name necklaces too if anyone is interested (:

But for now, I'm going to happily add these to my bling collection :D

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kura Kura Japanese Casual Dining, Haymarket

Today was a fail day. I was meeting the boy after a long day at work for a dinner catch up. I already had my mind set to having goat curry. GOAT CURRY PEOPLE. I really wanted to try goat. But after the long trek to Surry Hills, Queenies was closed. WHY, OH WHY? And after such a long, arduous walk in my work heels uphill! So began the circling around the Surry Hills area for some dinner. Why is everything closed on Sundays? I'll admit, we did walk around in circles for a bit. Ok, MASSIVE CIRCLES, because we ended up right back in the city where I worked! Only it was over an hour later from when I actually finished work... We had a pointless trip and my feet hurt like crazy nonetheless from standing up at work since 9am that morning. A quick decision led us to Kura Kura, a little Japanese joint on the corner of two small streets in Haymarket.

Kura itself began as a tiny little shop with only a couple of tables and bar stools. Too bad the seats were basically all taken there so we ventured next door where you go up the stairs to the dining area which has many more seats and tables.

Okonomiyaki, $6.50
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake that is normally grilled. This particular version consisted primarily of cabbage with a few bits of spring onion scattered throughout. It is topped with generous lashings of Japanese mayo and a teriyaki-style sauce, chopped spring onion, pickled ginger, and who could forget the bonito flakes that move? The outside gave a wonderful satisfying crunch before breaking into the soft cabbage innards which was not bland at all. This type of comfort food was exactly what was needed to forget the gusts of wind outside.

Gyoza, $5.90 for 5 pieces
I ordered this because I was curious as to how it would fare against the Chinese dumpling counterparts. These ones were okay with their pork and cabbage insides but pan-fried dumplings win hands down.

Deluxe udon, $12.90
Pretty solid udon noodle soup. Prawn tempura, chicken, egg, seaweed and chewy udon noodles all in a soy-based soup. Pretty hard to go wrong. Shame the tempura got a tad soggy from the soup! But this is expected.

This joint is pretty awesome if you're up for some good Jap!

We ended the night at ZenQ with some coconut sago with the added chewy goodness of their Q-balls and pearls! Delicious.

Kura Kura Japanese Casual Dining
Shop 3, 76 Ultimo Rd
Sydney, NSW, 2000
9212 5661

Opening Hours
Monday - Thursday: 10:30am - 11:30pm
Friday, Saturday: 10:30am - 12:00am
Sunday: 10:30am - 10:30pm

Kura Kura Japanese Casual Dining on Urbanspoon