Let's Get Fat Together http://fatboo.com Food, Travel, Friends. Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:39:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Bali Revisited, Part 2 http://fatboo.com/2014/12/jimbaran-rock-bar-potato-head-beach-seminyak-nasi-padang-bali.html http://fatboo.com/2014/12/jimbaran-rock-bar-potato-head-beach-seminyak-nasi-padang-bali.html#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 21:30:19 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=19972 Bali Revisited, Part 2 by Fatboo

Travel journal covering the restaurants, seafood & beach clubs in Bali. We visit Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak, Rock Bar & Jimbaran Bay.

Bali Revisited, Part 2 was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Bali Revisited, Part 2 by Fatboo

This post is the second instalment of a two part series covering my ‘recent’ trip to Bali with Fatbee in August 2014. If you’d like to start from the beginning of this trip, please read my previous post – Bali Revisited, Part 1.

Bali Revisited, Part 2Bali Revisited, Part 2

Nyuh Bali Villas

Jalan Bali Deli No. 99
Seminyak, Bali 80361
Website

We’ll continue where we left off with another poolside breakfast in our quiet villa. I went Continental while Fatbee had an amazing chicken porridge.

I’m a bit funny, but I love longer stays at hotels when we’re on holiday. That’s because it becomes my home away from home, my secret refuge, and a grounding pillar to protect me from the sensory overload of visiting too many new places and seeing too many new things.

Bali Revisited, Part 2

Restoran Sederhana Masakan Padang

Jl. Bypass I Gusti Ngurah Rai No. 11 C-D
Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
+62 361 754875

With breakfast finished, the rest of the day stretched ahead of us. In the end, we decided to hire Kenny our friendly Balinese driver and venture out of Seminyak.

Our first destination was a lunch stop at a Nasi Padang restaurant.

Bali Revisited, Part 2

Nasi Padang originated from the island of Sumatra, and this is the real way that Nasi Padang’s served in Indonesia. Once seated, a waiter arrives with a mountain of small plates of food and arranges them on your table like a culinary card stack. You then eat from whatever plate that looks good to you and you will be charged for whichever plates of food you eat from.

It’s a concept that probably won’t fly really well in Australia… what with our food hygiene laws, but I was almost speechless from astonishment with this way of dining. In fact, if there’s two pieces of chicken (or rendang) on a plate and you only eat one piece, you even get charged for just the one piece!

Bali Revisited, Part 2

This was such a fun meal for me as a newcomer to “The Ways of the Padang”, and it helped that the waiters working there were such a cheerful bunch of people too!

Bali Revisited, Part 2

Spa Uluwatu

Intercontinental Bali Resort, Jimbaran
Website

We then spent the better part of the afternoon pampering ourselves with a 2.5 hour spa session at Intercontinental Hotel’s spa.

Bali Revisited, Part 2Bali Revisited, Part 2

We picked the pure indulgence package for couples (Rp. 2,200,000 for two), which included a foot bath, foot reflexology, Balinese full body massage, body scrub, lavender aloe body wrap (I felt like a human rice paper roll!), facial and flower bath. Once again, the masseurs did not bat an eyelid when saw they had two boys as their clients. That’s how amiable and open-minded the Balinese absolutely are across the board.

Bali Revisited, Part 2

Jimbaran Bay

After our spa package, it was close to sunset. We took a short stroll from the hotel compound onto Jimbaran Bay for our dinner. This area is famed for its affordably priced seafood restaurants where customers can dine right at the beach.

Bali Revisited, Part 2

Made Bagus Cafe

Jimbaran Bay
Jimbaran Kuta Selatan Badung, Bali‎
(0361) 701858

It was busy and full of visitors, but we picked a quieter restaurant closer to the outskirts. There, we sat down and had our dinner whilst watching the sun descend into the ocean horizon.

Bali Revisited, Part 2Bali Revisited, Part 2

I loved this meal not only because of its beachfront setting… the food was fantastic! Our set meal consisted of 1 lobster, 1 whole snapper, calamari, 6 king prawns, veggies, rice, chips and beer or wine each, and it ended up costing Rp.495,000 (A$49.50) for two! The seafood was grilled over coconut husk fire and served with a gentle but lip-smackingly good chilli sauce.

Bali Revisited, Part 2

Just like my experience at Warung Sulawesi, this was probably one of the best meals we had out of the trip. It was also funny how the restaurants had to shift their tables further up the beach when the tide started rising as the evening progressed.

I remember a big (Russian?) guy insisting on having a table out at the front despite warnings from waitstaff, so he and his girlfriend stayed there while the tide crept closer. Half an hour later, a huge wave came nearly up to their knees and the girlfriend lost her flip flops… ha ha!

Bali Revisited, Part 2

Rock Bar

Ayana Resort
Jimbaran, Bali
Website

After dinner, we decided to visit Rock Bar at Ayana Resort in Jimbaran… you actually have to take a small monorail down to the cliff-perched bar. It was a very dramatic setting… with a bar counter facing the ocean and a DJ station that’s set atop a separate outcropping surrounded by the choppy sea.

Bali Revisited, Part 2

I’d say if you intend to watch (what I’d imagine to be) an amazing sunset here, come very early like around 4pm because it’ll probably be INSANELY busy, plus the hotel guests get priority with the monorail. Overall, I found this place a bit too ‘exclusive’ for my liking and the drinks were also pricier than the other beach clubs we’d visited so far.

Bali Revisited, Part 2Bali Revisited, Part 2
Slush Puppy (coffee, chocolate & coconut water) 30
Huevos Rancheros with fried egg, black beans, avocado 85

Ku De Ta

Jalan Kayu Aya No. 9
Seminyak, Bali 80361
Website

We decided to shake things up a little the next morning and skipped the villa’s complimentary spread so that we could have brunch at Ku De Ta. Once again, I liked how they do their drinks here… my morning pick-me-up consisted of a deliciously icy coffee, chocolate and coconut water slushie. Fatbee had a berry protein blast smoothie.

Brunch here came at very friendly prices and we liked how quiet the beach club was in the morning. Having now been to a few beach clubs, I think Ku De Ta is probably my favourite Bali beach club. The music, drinks and atmosphere is solid and consistently good.

Bali Revisited, Part 2

The rest of the morning was spent exploring Seminyak’s main stretch of shops. We happened upon a colourful procession along the way, I wish I knew what the ceremony was about.

Bali Revisited, Part 2Bali Revisited, Part 2Mojito Royale 105

The Bistrot

Jln Kayu Aya 117
Seminyak, Bali
Website

While the weather in August was a lot cooler compared to our previous visit in April, this happened to be a warmer day than usual. Hence our decision to clamber off the streets and have pre-lunch cocktails at this vintage lounge.

Bali Revisited, Part 2

This was close to the end of our trip already, so we were starting to feel a bit wistful. How quickly five days can pass!

Bali Revisited, Part 2

Warung Aneka Rasa

Jl. Raya Seminyak (Jl. Oberoi)
Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia

For lunch, we shared a plate and a drink at a very local warung that’s smack in the middle of Seminyak’s otherwise upmarket high street. This warung probably caters to the locals working in the shops and hotels in the area. It was a good feed and our shared meal only cost us Rp.30,000 including drinks.

Bali Revisited, Part 2
Nyuh Bali Villas

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing what we love doing best when on holiday… NOTHING!

Bali Revisited, Part 2

Potato Head Beach Club

Jln. Petitenget
Seminyak, Bali 80361
+62 (361) 473 7979
Website

Our final sunset in Bali was spent at another hugely popular destination – Potato Head Beach Club… with it’s strikingly iconic frontage made of thousands of old, colourful window shutters. Even on a Monday, we had to queue up for 20mins or so and nearly missed the sunset.

I was sightly crestfallen to see that the inside did not quite have the same impactful theme as the front facade. But it still looked impressive as a large horseshoe-shaped construct facing the Balinese ocean like a coastal amphitheatre, with the setting sun as the final golden act.

Bali Revisited, Part 2
Prohibition Iced Tea 130
Vodka + Gin + Rum + Tequila + Orange liqueur + Earl grey tea-cola + Dry ice + Vodka-injected oranges

We found the cocktail menu very interesting, plus they’re presented playfully and at a friendly price tag. Fatbee’s awesomely named prohibition iced tea was served in a pot with dry ice vapours floating forth. Meanwhile, I had a bloody mary served like a Japanese dish… with chopsticks, soy sauce and pickled ginger (see below).

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Bloody Mary (with all the trimmings) 130

The crowd here was quite mixed probably because the complex had three restaurants in it, not to mention a few lounge-bars and a beachfront infinity pool. It got a little bit rowdy and annoying for me during sunset, but once dusk fell things became a lot more civilised here. And being the dork that I am… I started to just kick back, relax and read a book in this beach club!

Bali Revisited, Part 2

Merah Putih

Jalan Petitenget No.100x
Kerobokan, Bali 80361
(0361) 8465950
Website

Indonesian food is almost always synonymous with it’s low-key warungs and cheap eats. A fine-dining Indonesian restaurant is almost unheard of, and that’s why Fatbee wanted to try Merah Putih on our final night here. This restaurant serves traditional Indonesian dishes with a modern and creative twist.

Bali Revisited, Part 2
Sambal 25 | Babi Guling Bumbu Kecap 170
Rawon Sum Sum 85 | Pecel 45

We had a good meal here, Fatbee said that the flavours were authentic and exquisitely done, albeit a little toned down. I think it’s funny that my first ‘proper’ introduction to Indonesian rawon soup and babi guling happened in a fine dining spot! All that said, I’m still very much a ‘culinary barbarian’ at heart and would’ve preferred trying these celebrated Indonesian dishes in the form of their humbler street-stall iterations.

Bali Revisited, Part 2Sunset at Potato Head

And thus ends yet another short getaway to Bali. It’s funny how in our previous trip, I mused about staying in busy busy Seminyak for its delightful food warungs and great restaurant scene should we decide to revisit Bali again. Who would’ve guessed we’d do exactly that a mere four months later!  It must be the friendly and gentle sensibilities of its people that really made me want to come back.

I now feel like a Bali veteran, but I think on future trips to this island I won’t stay in Seminyak right through. That’s because over and above the beach clubs, buzz, food and trendiness… I still treasure quieter holidays in faraway places more. Thankfully, Bali has many more districts that I have yet to explore, so I’m pretty sure a revisit will definitely happen in the (quite possibly near) future. Teeheehee!!

Bali Revisited, Part 2 was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi http://fatboo.com/2014/12/pho-nom-tan-thanh-loi-footscray-emporium.html http://fatboo.com/2014/12/pho-nom-tan-thanh-loi-footscray-emporium.html#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 20:46:53 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=20245 Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi by Fatboo

Vietnamese food post covering a Pho shop in Melbourne Emporium (CBD), and an old-school Com Tam (broken rice) joint in Footscray.

Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi by Fatboo

Phở Nom

Store 33
Lwr Ground, Emporium
287 Lonsdale St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Facebook Page
Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi

We’ll cover a couple of Vietnamese eateries today that happened pre-Bhutan. One of them’s a pretty slick shop set in a CBD shopping mall while the other one’s old-style and in the burbs.

Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi

One good thing about Melbourne Cup Day is how the city tends to be a lot quieter in the afternoon as the rest of Melbourne crams itself into Flemington for the races (just make sure you’re out of town before the race finishes and the celebration starts!).

Fatbee and I decided to spend that fine day doing a spot of shopping in the city, and our favourite mall has to be Melbourne Emporium, where they actually have some of our preferred international vendors like Topshop, Muji and Uniqlo.

Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi

Even the food courts upstairs and in the basement have somewhat more ‘premium’ vendors like Dainty Sichuan Noodle Express, Earl Canteen, Jimmy Grants and I Love Pho Express. That afternoon, we decided to sample Pho Nom (in Emporium’s basement). This store has been receiving pretty good reviews from the foodie community. On arrival, I chuckled a little at the colourful pronunciation crash course telling you “IT’S FUR, NOT FOE”.

Like with most food court stalls, it’s pretty much self-service… order at the counter, grab a buzzer and return to the counter to collect your food when the buzzer blinks and rattles like a madman. Add your own herbs, spices and condiments before taking a seat and slurping to your hearts content.

Pho Nom | Tan Thanh LoiPHO BO SAIGON 12
Sliced rare beef, brisket, meatballs

Fatbee went with what could perhaps be called Pho Nom’s version of Phở Bò Dặc Biệt – a combination soup with rare beef, brisket and meatballs… but here, it’s noticeably lacking the more adventurous items such as beef tripe, tendons and meat loaf.

Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi
PHO BO WAGYU 15
Sliced Wagyu sirloin

I went with Pho Nom’s specialty – Wagyu pho offered at a slightly more premium price. What arrived was a bowl of noodles and soup (you add the herbs and garnishing yourself), and in a separate bowl you are given six slices of raw Wagyu beef (see below).

Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi
Fatbee’s Pho Bo Saigon | My bowl of sliced raw Wagyu

Overall, we found the MSG-free broth on the clean side with very mild hints of spice and a little bit lacking in the ‘beefiness’ department. I also found my broth a bit too salty for my liking, although I admit to having a pretty low tolerance for salt.

Fatbee’s broth was nicer because it came with the pieces of beef and meatballs in it, meaning his soup was slightly sweeter, beefier and better balanced overall. All that said, we both agreed that our pho did not taste ‘street’ enough.

Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi

Fatbee’s slices of (non-Wagyu) beef were of pretty good quality, but sadly they were firm and rather overcooked when we dined there. As for my raw Wagyu offerings, I liked how it was served on the side and it did have good texture and flavour on its own. However, I thought the quality of the beef soon got lost inside the stronger flavours in the soup.

Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi

I wanted to like Pho Nom. The quality’s there, but the concept, broth and its accompanying components did not quite strike a chord with us. If you ask me, I think MSG sometimes has a unnecessarily bad rap. I’d personally rather have some MSG in my broth than have a bowl of soup that’s too salty. All that said, I still think Pho Nom will suit those of us who prefer clean-tasting broths.

Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi

TÂN THÀNH LỢI

73 Nicholson St
Footscray, VIC 3011
03 9687 4886
Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi

A few days later, we found ourselves in Footscray for our regular grocery shopping session. I was looking for lotus root to cook Fakegf’s Canto-style braised pork belly with lotus root dish, and for some reason all the Asian grocers that I visited in Melbourne weren’t selling fresh lotus root in November.

Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi

Dinner happened just around the corner from Little Saigon Market, at this old-school Vietnamese eatery that Fatbee heard was popular for its Com Tam (broken rice) dishes. I must say that sitting in there, I realised that I prefer this type of old-fashioned ambience than the refurbished and more glitzy joints in Footscray.

Pho Nom | Tan Thanh LoiCơm Tấm Bì Sườn Chả Trứng $10
Broken Rice with Shredded Pork, Grilled Pork, Meat Loaf & Fried Egg

While it’s hard to not like broken rice as a Vietnamese dish, I’m glad to say that Tan Thanh Loi’s version exceeded my expectations. Our plates came with all the components piled on like a mountainous mess that, strangely enough, still managed to look very delicious to me. The grilled pork was nicely chargrilled and tasty, the fried egg came nice and oozy and I liked how our plates of rice came with a little side serve of (admittedly salty) soup.

I believe the enjoyment of food can be affected by the setting and circumstances that you’re eating the food in, and being in this snug little joint probably appealed to me more than eating in a sparkly food court. What’s served here isn’t fancied up or anything, you don’t get any of those big chunks of pickled carrot or pretty pretty garnishings and neat food-styling. Instead, it is just what it is… a simple, tasty and very ‘street food’ type of meal, which is probably the kind of food that I tend to prefer.

Pho Nom | Tan Thanh Loi was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Burning Man http://fatboo.com/2014/12/burning-man-black-rock-desert-2007.html http://fatboo.com/2014/12/burning-man-black-rock-desert-2007.html#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 09:22:20 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=19883 Burning Man by Fatboo

Travel journal about Burning Man, a surreal festival of profound self-expression that I'd attended 7 years ago in the middle of Nevada desert, USA.

Burning Man was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Burning Man by Fatboo

Further to my suspicion that this blog’s on the verge of being renamed into “Let’s Travel Together”, I’ve decided to share one of the more unique trips I’ve had in the past decade.

I still think that one of the loveliest trips I’ve ever had was a two-week trek in Nepal (circa 2004). But that happened during an era where I was still using a film camera and… *ahem* there’s no way I’m scanning the photos just to share them here!

Burning Man

Fortunately, this pilgrimage to a week-long festival smack in the middle of Nevada Desert happened back when I’d actually owned a (cheap) digital point-n-shoot. And I’m now so thankful that I’d taken photos back then, because I still think it’s one of the most surreal holidays I’d ever experienced!

Burning Man
Enroute to Black Rock Desert, Nevada

It all started during my two year stint working in the UK on a Working Holidaymaker Visa… a visa that requires you to work for a maximum of one year only, meaning you’re meant to be on holiday (funds permitting) for the other year. I was in my 20’s then… with jet-black eyes, a strong jaw and a rugged complexion to go with my firm resolve to grab the frontiers of the world by its horns and wrestle it to the wind-beaten earth.

*koff*… okay I lie, let’s rewind…

I was in my twenties… yup yup… and sort of geeking away playing computer games in a small cottage located right above my workplace near the coast in Essex. I was in the rather forsaken (and introspective) position where you sort have to keep yourself occupied somehow, since you’re in a faraway country with very few friends. In between epic solo gaming sessions, I also knew that trips had to be planned for my non-work months, so I started looking into places to visit and people to holiday with.

Burning Man

I must say it helped that I was still a bit of an (already fading) tree-hugging hippie back then, with connections to the fire-twirling community in Singapore. Eventually… on a typically somber British evening, I’d started chatting with my friend Belinda in Singapore, who’d passionately described to me the details pertaining to a rather curious annual festival that happens in Nevada Desert in the US.

The event fascinated me and Belinda’s enthusiasm rubbed off on to me like a World of Warcraft Expansion Pack. And I can’t recall exactly how the ball got rolling, but we’d somehow managed to garner a small group of friends to organise and experience this festival together.

Burning Man

The festival is called Burning Man, it’s an annual week-long event that occurs around August in the middle of Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada. And the year that I’d attended this event was 2007… that’s seven years ago!

I flew from the UK to San Francisco, stayed a couple of nights at a friend’s friend’s home in Menlo Park… we then loaded the U-Haul (trailer) and drove off into the heat-hazed horizon towards this mystifying ‘city in the desert’.

Burning Man

And so… that’s how THIS happened.

There I was… in a vast expanse of desert, dotted with some of the most surreal and incredible sights that my mind could never have imagined.

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Steampunk Treehouse – a world in which there aren’t any natural trees anymore

What’s happened here is… for that one week, an illusory city is erected in the middle of what (for the rest of the year) is normally a desert wasteland that’s devoid of life. And each year, there’s a different art theme. For 2007, it’s themed as “The Green Man”, where the installations and its participants explore issues around the environment and sustainability.

Just for that one week, a community of 50,000 people from all reaches of the globe comes together to form a polyglot of colour and life in the middle of a desert… transforming it into a temporary phantasmagorical city of experimentation, sharing, profound self-expression and self-reliance.

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Apocalypse Stagecoach – pulled by the four horsemen of the apocalypse

And all I can say is when you arrive here, be prepared to be unprepared… because you’ll encounter some of the most unexpected things on the playa (desert basin)… from Vietnamese noodle carts to a mythical stagecoach…

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… to random art installations that actually makes you stop in your tracks.

Burning Man

And of course, there’s also a ceaseless flow of innovation and playfulness too!

Burning Man

But let’s talk a bit more about the logistics involved with this trip.

The desert is a harsh environment, you need to be prepared. When you’re attending Burning Man, you take to the desert everything that you’ll need to survive your stay… that includes all your food and water. That’s why we needed a U-Haul trailer. And likewise, you take back with you everything that you brought (even your waste), so that you don’t leave any signs of your presence in the desert (aside for footprints) once you depart.

Burning Man

Some of the other necessary items each Burner should bring includes a (cheap) bicycle that you can use and then discard at the end of the burn. This fabled city on the playa is soooo huge that a bicycle’s one of the most effective ways for one to explore what the city has to offer.

Burners should also bring aviator goggles and masks because massive sandstorms will occur quite frequently. I remember wandering out of my tent on a whim during one of the biggest sandstorms that we’d weathered for that week, and I was astounded to realise that when I stretched my arms out in front of me… I couldn’t see my hands! It was such a marvellous experience… and by the end of the sandstorm, I was completely orange in colour!

Burning Man
This wasn’t my camp

Burners are also required to form or join a camp, each with a different theme. Camps are safe communes for participants to live together (usually in tents), and it’s a place where they can share communal amenities like a gravity feed shower stall or kitchenette. Some camps are very well established with pretty good facilities, there are even ones where Burners can even sleep in air-conditioned RV caravans… which is an unthinkably amazing luxury when you’re facing 40-50ºC desert heat in the middle of the day!!

Burning Man
Wooden effigy of the man, which will be ritualistically burnt at the end of the festival

I confess that by the time I’d embarked on this trip, I’d already become a bit of a creature-comfort loving sort of holidaygoer. So the five days that we spent in the desert were quite challenging on the body to me. If it weren’t for the amazing sights and installations that I’d kept discovering each day, and the beautiful smiling people that I’d kept meeting all the time, I probably would’ve had a meltdown. But instead, I found that my mind felt richer and my spirit stronger from experiencing (and surviving) this festival despite its harsh desert environment.

Burning Man

While cycling is one of the easier ways to get around the playa, some of the Burners have created their own Art Cars to drive around in. These art cars were extraordinary sights that made me smile… you can be wandering in the desert and all of a sudden there’s a red-and-black-dotted ladybird scooter… or a giant sofa (with people sitting on it) scurrying across the desertscape.

Burning Man

Or how about this??  A giant supermarket trolley… !! The dudes on it were tossing out bottles of mineral water as gifts to anyone walking around the playa…

Burning Man
Big Rig Jig – art installation fashioned from oil tankers, a visual metaphor for non-sustainability

Which brings to mind another concept about Burning Man. In Black Rock City, the notion of money does not apply (aside for the entrance fees and camp funds). The ‘currency’ out in the playa involves sharing and bartering, and everybody’s supposed to be your friend. When people wander by your camp… you say hi, invite them into your safe space and share a bit of what you have.

And likewise, should you wander past someone else’s camp, you may find yourself being invited in for a bit of conversation and sharing. I remember entering a camp where an amazing old man played the violin for us, and another tent where I was introduced to the joys of nibbling into a piece of liquorice root. There was even a Geisha-themed tent, where their way of sharing was to welcome anyone into their plush and comfortable air-conditioned tent during the searing midday heat.

Burning Man
Crude Awakening

Speaking of the heat, one of the ways to escape it is to nap during the hottest hours in the afternoon, and to start exploring the city just as the sun begins to sink into the horizon. And I thought the nighttime lightscape can be just as phenomenal…

I remember one of the nights, I was cycling in a random direction in the darkness towards a small blinking light in the horizon. Half an hour later, I finally reached that blinking light. It turned out to be a stationary double decker bus, with giant birdcages hanging from its sides. And the bus, bird cages and sand around the bus was full of people dancing to music that’s pumping from a DJ stand nearby on the desert floor.

And pictured here was one of largest installations in 2007… consisting of 9 humongous figurative steel sculptures (each weighing 7 tonnes and belching flames from body, hands and eyes) in various poses of worship towards a central Oil Derrick.

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Inside of one of the steel sculptures | View from the top of the Oil Derrick

200 people could fit into the platform at the top of the 90 foot tall Derrick. I found this installation frightening in its grand scale and its suggestion of how humanity worships (and is so dependent on) oil. And it all culminated in a massive annihilation on Friday night, where (at 10pm) an ominous black cloud poured forth from the Derrick as air sirens wailed and… minutes later… the Oil Derrick erupts with a fiery explosion made of 2.4 gigawatts of raw energy.

They called it the largest flame cannon in history. I remember sitting about 500 or so metres from the Oil Derrick with the rest of the Burners that night, and I’ll have to say that I’ve never experienced such a huge blast at such close quarters. A massive wave of heat tore through us that, for a moment, I thought I was about to become broiled into a human yakitori.

While crazily monumental in its message, I also couldn’t help thinking how environmentally unfriendly this installation was with its unbridled use of pyrotechnics.

Burning Man

But I found that the mornings greet you with a calmness and uncanny tranquility. You wake up to quiet signs of life outside… but during your first hour or so, your mind doesn’t quite comprehend that you’re out there in the surreal playa with its fantasy landscape. It’s such that you could almost be walking in a waking dream.

It’s only when I strolled past the still-glowing embers of the (now destroyed) Oil Derrick, all blackened and charred to the ground, that it suddenly came to me what had happened the night before.

Burning ManBurning Man

And from my perspective, my experience on the playa almost turned into reality – everything that I loved about Studio Ghibli animes and Final Fantasy-type RPG games, with its fantastical stories and implausibly outlandish themes. Who knows? Maybe one year a huge floating castle will descend from the sky onto these desert plains…

Burning Man
Temple of Forgiveness

Another large installation that happens every year is the erection of a large temple made of wood, located in the deep playa. The temple theme for 2007 was one of forgiveness, and as I approached along the avenue towards it, it seemed to convey Japanese sensibilities.

Burning ManBurning Man
A vehicle for remembrances, blessings, promises and forgiveness

When I reached the edifice, I was amazed how the entire community gathered there stayed silent. I found that I was in a sanctuary of calm and contemplation. Looking at the walls, I saw that there were many many messages inscribed onto the wood.

I learnt that it’s a yearly tradition for Burners to write messages onto the temple’s wood frame, and they’re usually messages of a highly personal nature. On the final night of the festival, the temple is ritualistically burned.

Burning Man

Speaking of burning, the second last night of the festival (ie. Saturday night) is when the large wooden effigy of the man is set ablaze in the midst of much celebration, music and drumming. It is this ceremonial event where the name of this festival comes from… going all the way back from its origins in 1986 when a group of friends burnt the first wooden man in San Francisco’s Baker Beach.

I’ll have to say that as much as this was the yearly custom, the ‘Burning of the Man’ felt like a bit of a non-event to me compared to the much grander blasting (to smithereens) of the Oil Derrick and its nine grandiose steel sculptures from the night before.

Burning ManPhone booth to God

As I write these final words, I feel very glad that I’ve decided to pull these five days out from my memory archives and onto this shared space on my blog. It’s uncanny how quickly we forget these amazing adventures in our lives once we go back to the humdrum of our daily routines back home. But just writing about it helped me relive, in great detail, many of the moments that I’d experienced there as if it had just happened yesterday even when this was an event that occurred 7 years ago!

Burning Man

As I call to mind scenes like this string of balloons floating into the blue infinity of sky… I’d like to deeply thank Belinda, Li Han and their friends who brought me along and guided me through those unforgettable days spent in Black Rock City. With me being somewhat awkward and socially inept at times, it’s thanks to these wonderful people whom I went to Burning Man with that made my experience the terrific one that it was.

Burning Man was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Wonky Trolley http://fatboo.com/2014/12/wonky-trolley-burgers-north-melbourne.html http://fatboo.com/2014/12/wonky-trolley-burgers-north-melbourne.html#comments Sat, 06 Dec 2014 02:30:08 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=20088 Wonky Trolley by Fatboo

Cutely named burger shack in North Melbourne serving tasty burgers with juicy patties and lots of salad sandwiched by fluffy brioche buns.

Wonky Trolley was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Wonky Trolley by Fatboo

47 Errol St
North Melbourne, VIC 3051
03 9328 1781
Website

When we’re out of pre-cooked microwaveable meals, on our not-so-lazy nights Fatbee and I would walk into the city for our dinner. On our superbly lazy nights, we’d get food delivered to us using Menulog.

Wonky Trolley

But how about those in-between nights where we’re somewhat lazy but aren’t in the mood to make that 30 minute trek into town? Well… we basically find places that are within ten minutes walk from home!

On this front, Errol St seems to have the highest concentration of eating spots within nearby walking distance, with the downside that many of the places either aren’t cheap enough, or they don’t quite tickle our fancy. But recently, I’d noticed a new burger joint that replaced Urban Burger along that stretch. We decided to give it a try.

Wonky Trolley

I think it was the name of the place that caught my eye at the start, it just sounded so cheeky and random. Entering the joint, we scanned the easy-to-read menu of 7 beef burgers, 6 chook burgers, 1 veggie burger and then made our choice. All the burgers are also available as a wrap and you even have the option for gluten free buns.

Wonky Trolley
CHILLI 11
Beef, Jalapenos, Cheese, Salad, Relish and Chipotle Mayo

Here’s Fatbee’s pick… a beef burger with hints of spiciness derived from slices of pickled jalapeños. I think there are two types of burgers out there: the old-school ones where it’s all about cheese, bacon, pickles, onions and sauce. And then there’s the healthier, more balanced types with lots of lettuce and veggies like beetroot and pineapples. I’m happy to say that Wonky Trolley’s menu features the latter type of burgers, which is what I prefer.

Wonky Trolley
FULL TROLLEY 13
Beef, Bacon, Cheese, Egg, Pineapple, Salad, Relish and Aioli

And I got Wonky’s burger with the lot. It was very satisfying with a nice, soft and moist patty of good quality beef layered with fried egg, bacon, lots of salad, sliced pineapple, aioli and relish. The brioche buns were fluffy with a wonderfully soft crust and I liked how they didn’t come all oily on the outside. The whole thing was so juicy that lots of dripping action happened onto my plate, which is one of my yardsticks for how good a burger is.

Wonky Trolley

I like how Wonky Trolley serves delicious burgers that manages to straddle the fine line between being ‘healthy’ without being too greasy. The pricing leans towards the slightly more ‘premium’ side of things ($10-$13), but the quality is good and the burgers are big enough to be a full meal on its own for me without needing a side serve of chips.

Wonky Trolley

Wonky Trolley was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Sambal Timun Recipe (Spicy Cucumber Salad) http://fatboo.com/2014/12/sambal-timun-recipe-spicy-pork-cucumber-salad.html http://fatboo.com/2014/12/sambal-timun-recipe-spicy-pork-cucumber-salad.html#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 09:55:23 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=18718 Sambal Timun Recipe (Spicy Cucumber Salad) by Fatboo

Recipe for Nyonya Sambal Timun, a refreshingly punchy Peranakan salad of cucumber, pork & chicken gizzard tossed with spicy sambal & fragrant herbs.

Sambal Timun Recipe (Spicy Cucumber Salad) was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Sambal Timun Recipe (Spicy Cucumber Salad) by Fatboo

Sambal Timun Recipe (Spicy Cucumber Salad)

I watched mum make this simple Peranakan dish on my last trip to Singapore, and I must say it’s quite an addictive spicy salad offering. It works wonderfully as an appetiser or as a supporting dish in any Nyonya meal.

I really liked the spicy kick and tanginess from the sambal belacan dressing, made superbly punchy and fragrant with the use of fresh kaffir lime leaves and torch ginger buds (bunga kantan).

Sambal Timun Recipe (Spicy Cucumber Salad)

The prep work isn’t too difficult either. Prepare the salad ingredients by slicing up the onions, cucumber and cooked meats. Next, prepare the dressing by mixing the sambal blachan with lime, fragrant herbs and the seasonings… then toss.

The salad should be served immediately as the vegetables will ooze water over time. Do not keep overnight.

Sambal Timun Recipe (Spicy Cucumber Salad)

For those of us living overseas, fresh kaffir lime leaves can be expensive, an alternative would be to use the soaked dried leaves instead, but it won’t be as fragrant. As for bunga kantan torch ginger buds, you probably will be able to find them in the frozen section at your Asian grocer.

Limau kesturi (calamansi lime) is smaller and a lot more fragrant than regular limes, but if you can’t find them in Australia, use one large lime instead. Finally, if eating chicken gizzard is just a bit too adventurous for you, remember that that ingredient is entirely optional.

Sambal Timun Recipe (Spicy Cucumber Salad)

Sambal Timun Recipe

Adapted from Mum’s Recipe
Peparation Time: 1hr
Serves 4-6 

INGREDIENTS

200 gm Fresh Red Chillies
40 gm Belacan (toasted)
100 gm Pork Belly
2 Chicken Gizzards (optional)
1 tbsp White Vinegar
4 small Kesturi Limes (or 1 large lime)
1 tbsp Sugar
½ tbsp Bunga Kantan (Torch Ginger Bud) – thinly shredded
2 Kaffir Lime Leaves – thinly shredded
20 gm Dried Prawns
Half a big Red Onion – thinly sliced
1 Continental Cucumber – peeled & sliced into pieces
Salt

METHOD

Make the sambal belacan by grinding till fine:
Fresh Red Chillies
Toasted Belacan
Pinch of Salt

Soak in hot water for 5 mins, then drain & pound coarsely:
Dried Prawns 

Place Pork Belly in boiling water & simmer for 20 mins till cooked. Remove & rinse under tap water till cooled.
Rub the Chicken Gizzards all over with salt, then place in boiling water & simmer for 10 mins till cooked. Remove & also rinse under tap water till cooled.
When Pork & Chicken Gizzard are cooled, slice them & leave aside

Put following ingredients in a bowl, big enough for tossing :
Sliced Belly Pork
Sliced Chicken Gizzard

Pounded Dried Prawns
Sliced Red Onion
Sliced Cucumbers

Mix well together to create dressing:
1 heaped tbsp of Sambal Belacan (from prepared Sambal belacan above)
1 tbsp White Vinegar
Juice from Kesturi Limes
Shredded Torch Ginger Bud
Shredded Kaffir Lime Leaves
1 tbsp Sugar
Pinch of Salt

Pour dressing into the prepared bowl of ingredients, toss. Serve immediately.

This dish goes nicely with other Nyonya dishes such as Ayam Pongteh, Ayam Buah Keluak and Chap Chye.
Also, more comforting recipes can be found on my Recipes Page.

Sambal Timun Recipe (Spicy Cucumber Salad) was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Combi http://fatboo.com/2014/11/combi-cafe-elwood-vegetarian-vegan-raw.html http://fatboo.com/2014/11/combi-cafe-elwood-vegetarian-vegan-raw.html#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 02:20:57 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=20071 Combi by Fatboo

Cafe in Elwood with a healthy menu of super foods and raw / vegetarian dishes that tastes surprisingly good. Enjoy your meal with a kombucha on tap.

Combi was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Combi by Fatboo

1/140 Ormond Rd
Elwood, VIC 3184
03 9531 0084
Website

The discovery of this gem of a cafe was a bit of an accidental find due to lack of research on my part.

Combi

Here’s what happened… Fakegf had been going through a healthy 4-week clean-eating challenge when we decided to brunch out. When she suggested this place, if I had known about Combi’s food concept I might’ve gone “OMG…. rabbit food? NO WAY!!”. Instead, it was more a case of me not researching and hence thinking “Oooh… I haven’t brunched in Elwood before… so exciting. Yes please!”.

So I only learnt that we were in for an incredibly healthy (and mostly raw / vegan / vegetarian) meal when we were already on our way there. But as luck would have it, I ended up enjoying this meal lots!

Combi

Combi is set in a squeezy, narrow little space along the busy stretch of Ormond Rd in Elwood. And at 11am on a Thursday, it was very busy and full of smiles. The customer demographic seemed to lean towards the healthy yoga-loving and wheatgrass sipping variety of Melburnians. Needless to say, the menu boasted ingredients such as kale, chia seeds, activated almonds, spirulina, fermented protein powder, cacao nibs, acai and nut mylk.

Combi
BEETROOT KOMBUCHA 5 | GREEN FIELDS 8.5
Kale, cos lettuce, celery, cucumber, green apple, mint, lemon

Truth be told, I thought the menu here was a nice change from my usual oily-carby foodscape of cheap Asian fare, so I ended up getting pretty excited about what we were about to have.

We started off with a selection of drinks, with Fatbee having an organic cold pressed juice that contained so much vegetables that Fakegf funnily quipped that she thought she could almost “photosynthesise”… ha ha! Meanwhile, I had a fermented chilled tea that was served on tap, it tasted like a fizzy slightly alcoholic drink infused with beetroot.

Combi
ORGANIC CHIA PARTY (GF/RAW/V) – 14.5
Parfait of chia seeds, soaked in house nut mylk infused with orange rind, layered with banana, berries crunchy activated chocolate buckinis, zesty incan berries and macadamias. Topped with house made coconut cashew yogurt and strawberry coulis

Both Fakegf and myself decided to try Combi’s super bowls, aptly named so because it contains super foods.

Here’s Fakegf’s much-enjoyed chia seed dish served in a jar. I’d personally steer clear of chia seeds and basil seeds because of its sticky-slimy texture when wet (not to mention it looks a bit like tadpole eggs), but Fakegf really liked her dish and I have to admit it looked amazing.

CombiORGANIC ACAI BOWl (GF/RAW/V) – 15.5
Antioxidant-loaded Acai blended with banana, blueberries, house made nut mylk then layered with crispy coconut flakes, activated caramelised buckinis, banana, maca and cranberries

While Combi’s menu does have one non-vegetarian item (a ham, cheese and tomato sandwich), I decided to sample what Combi does best. My dish tasted like an intensely refreshing banana beetroot smoothie served very chilled and topped with a crispy nut granola. I absolutely enjoyed it and it really did feel like I was having a huge antioxidant hit.

Combi
RAW ORGANIC ZUCCHINI SPAGETTI (GF / V) – 14.5
Zucchini spaghetti with a creamy cashew sauce, mushrooms, soy beans, tomatoes, fresh herbs, topped with activated nuts

Fatbee went with a savoury item – ‘spaghetti’ made from tendrils of freshly shredded zucchini served with nuts, mushrooms, herbs and tomatoes then lightly dressed in a cashew sauce. Healthy, light and well balanced, this dish tasted fantastic without becoming ‘healthy-boring’. In a nutshell, I was amazed that raw food could taste so good.

Combi

Even though we’re both Singaporeans, Fakegf’s food journey is fast going on a widely divergent tangent from my own. And I think that’s a good thing because I get to (ever so often) have a hit of something that’s very different from the foods that I’d normally eat.

Perhaps the fact that I’m a big fan of the light and clean-tasting flavours in Japanese cuisine helped ease me into liking Combi’s healthy / raw vegetarian fare. But more so than this, I’m just very happy that there are foods out there that can still excite me.

Combi

Combi

Combi was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review http://fatboo.com/2014/11/singapore-airlines-business-class-a330-flight-report.html http://fatboo.com/2014/11/singapore-airlines-business-class-a330-flight-report.html#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 21:12:54 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=19775 Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review by Fatboo

Flight report covering my Singapore Airlines Business Class experience on the Airbus A330. (Includes comparisons with Thai Airways Business Class)

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review by Fatboo

Singapore Airlines | Business Class | Oct 2013
SQ 973 BKK-SIN | SQ 207 SIN-MEL
Airbus A330-300 (Regional, Angled Flat)

This post covers the final two legs of my (first-time) experience flying in business and first class using purchased points from a mileage program. For more details on how I did it, refer to my previous post covering Thai Airways Royal Silk (Business) Class from Paris to Bangkok on the A380. It’s only on these final two legs that I’d finally got to try business class on Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

You may also notice that I’ve become more detailed in my thoughts and comparisons between various airlines’ premium class products. I admit that it’s a retroactive change in myself. One year ago, I was all starry-eyed like a child in a candy store boarding my first business class flight.

Since then, I’d learnt that business and first class seats and experiences can come in many different forms depending on the airline, route and the aircraft you’re travelling in. Hence this more analytical slant to supplant my own personal thoughts and feelings about the flight in my reports. Not to mention it really is big big dollars flying inside any of these premium cabins, so even the smallest differences in detail counts for a lot.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class ReviewSilverKris Lounge, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

After a 12 hour flight from Paris, we faced a few hours transit in Bangkok before our onward flight to Singapore. And it was time well-spent… relaxing in the very comfortable confines of Singapore Airline’s SilverKris lounge. Because I assume there aren’t that many Singapore Airlines flights out of Bangkok at any moment in time as compared to Thai, the lounge was nice and empty. We helped ourselves to some light (Asian!) refreshments and snuggled into the sofas.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

It was funny what seasoned premium class travellers we’d become by that point. I remember on our first flight together three weeks before (on Thai Airways A380 First Class), how mom kept panicking that we’d miss the plane (in the end we were escorted by buggy to the gate!). This time round, she just relaxed and did her own things without a care in the world and it had to be ME who did the ushering with a “Ummm… mom! It’s time for us to head for the gate!”.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

SQ973 – Bangkok to Singapore

And with a quick walk up the airbridge, our next premium class experience was about to begin!

Truth be told, I was pretty excited about being able to experience business class on Singapore Airlines at last. I’d heard many good things about it.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

And here’s the interior of the business class cabin on Singapore Airlines A330. It has a capacity of 30 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration (it’s 2-4-2 in economy).

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

Dad and mom sat in the row in front of me while I sat at the window seat next to somebody I didn’t know. I’d become slightly spoilt from my last 12 hour flight where I’d enjoyed lots of privacy in my standalone window seat with direct aisle access. But here’s the thing – this is a short haul (2h 25min) regional flight, so having the luxurious 1-2-1 configuration that’s normally reserved for long haul flights will be a very rare occurrence.

The seats are upholstered in a soft, light brown leather and they’re quite noticeably wide at 24.5 inches (compared to 18 inches in economy). The seat pitch (distance between the back of the seat in front of you and the back of your own seat) of 60 inches ensures a good amount of legroom too. Seat pitch in the same aircraft’s economy cabin is 32 inches.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class ReviewSingapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

Once seated, we were immediately offered a choice of refreshments. And here’s the seat control panel… considering it’s a short haul flight, these seats are able to come to a fully flat position, albeit at a 8º angle (if you’re wearing silky business suits, you’d probably slide down… hahaha!). Still, I thought that was quite a step up from regular recliner seats that don’t come fully flat.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

It wasn’t long before we were soaring in the cloud dappled skies.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class ReviewSingapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

A white tablecloth was placed on our spacious tables and lunch was served. I can’t remember what the dishes exactly were, but I thought it was pretty alright.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

And here’s me snapping a sneaky photo of dad and mom enjoying their flight. This was to be the final flight that I’d be taking with them (the next flight from Singapore to Melbourne I did on my own). Mum and dad said that this entire trip was very memorable because we experienced together something that not that many of us will be fortunate enough to try… let alone as a family!

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review
Changi Airport Terminal 3

I spent a few days in Singapore with my family before going back to Melbourne…

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

… and funnily, the ONLY photos I’d taken whilst in Singapore was of mum buying durians from an old school durian vendor.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class ReviewSingapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review
SilverKris Lounge (Business Class) – Changi Airport Terminal 3

But those days of relaxation in Singapore won’t be covered here, let’s move on to my flight back to Melbourne… starting with the quiet moments of reflection I spent inside the SilverKris Business Class lounge.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class ReviewSingapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

The lounge is actually quite massive, which is understandable considering Changi Airport has a traffic of 53.6 million passengers a year (compared to 30 million for Melbourne Airport). So I can imagine there’d be loads of Singapore Airline flights each and every hour, with a concomitant high volume of business class passengers.

I liked the high quality dark wood and marble motif of this lounge, but found that its large size makes the lounge feel less homely. All that said, it’s still a very comfortable space with a peaceful, polished atmosphere.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

SQ207 – Singapore to Melbourne

And here’s the aircraft that will take me back to Melbourne.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class ReviewSingapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

Stepping in, I discovered that the aircraft and its cabin was identical to what I’d flown in from Bangkok to Singapore a few days before.

Being a 7-8 hour flight, Singapore to Melbourne is considered a regional (medium haul) route, so the more luxurious (1-2-1) fully flat business class seat configuration (with direct aisle access) is currently only available for some the night flights (on the A380 & Boeing 777-300ER) on this route.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class ReviewSingapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review
Changi International Airport (right after takeoff)

So inwardly… I was kicking myself for not researching a bit more thoroughly. But seriously, I shouldn’t be complaining… not to mention I always prefer day flights to night flights.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class ReviewSingapore Airlines A330 Business Class ReviewNasi Lemak
Fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk, accompanied by spicy sambal prawns, fried chicken, fried anchovies with peanuts, spicy pickled vegetables (achar), an omelette wedge, and grilled fish cakes (otah)

Breakfast consisted of fresh fruit, pastries, tea/coffee and a choice of cereals or yoghurt. But I skipped most of these offerings and went straight for the main dish of nasi lemak which, wise tactician that I am, I’d pre-ordered days before the flight via SQ’s Book the Cook service. It’s a service for premium class travellers where you can pre-order a main course (from a huge online menu) for each of your flight’s meals which will then be specially prepared just for you.

And I’ll have to say that this nasi lemak was very very good!! Normally airplane food tends to suck, but this dish really tasted exactly like how it should be on the streets of Singapore.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

I spent the next few hours engrossed in my laptop and iOS devices (yes, I never ever use the in-flight entertainment on planes ever). During this time, I also meekly asked the one of the flight attendants if I could have an SQ Teddy Bear (the boy bear to be exact) for my ‘nephew’. The attendant happily obliged… but truth is, it actually was for Fatbee who already owns the girl bear… hahaha!

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review
Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review
Tian of Alaskan king crab and mango with mesclun
Assorted Sushi (Book the Cook)
Marinated and smoked fish on lightly vinegared Japanese rice (served at cabin temperature)

I also went the Book the Cook option for the second meal service (before landing), this time picking sushi because I’d never imagine eating sushi whilst on a plane! All that said, this dish did not quite hit the mark because ‘cabin temperature’ pretty much meant the sushi was served quite chilled, so the rice and seafood were quite firm to the tongue. Not to mention sushi should always be eaten the moment it is made, so this meal choice was a rookie mistake on my part.

I think the take home message here is – when you’re flying SQ… stick with the amazing local Singaporean dishes!

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

Once I saw the patchwork quilt of Australian farmscapes stretching before me, I knew that we didn’t have much longer before touchdown.

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review

Here’s a final pensive view of the business class cabin before I exited the aircraft for the final time.

Overall, this entire award booking involving two airlines and five flights in total has been one blast of an experience! But some of you may be curious to know if there are any comparisons to be made between my Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines experiences. Even though the flights I took weren’t equal (TG was long-haul while SQ was medium/short-haul), I liked how SQ’s regional business class seats were 4.5 inches wider than TG’s business class seats, not to mention they were upholstered in nice leather rather than fabric. And that nasi lemak was one of the nicest meals I’ve had on any airline, not to mention SQ actually plates the dishes properly instead of just serving them on a casserole dish.

As for the service, they were both good but I think SQ’s service had more polish with better attention to detail (not to mention I find the Singaporean accent very comforting). All that said, I personally thought the Thai attendants (despite being a little inconsistent) were more relaxed… they smiled and chatted with us more. The SQ cabin crew were fast and efficient, but they can sometimes come across as hurried in their impeccable efforts to perform all their duties with such superb precision.

Here are my other flight reports for this trip:

Thai Airways Business Class Boeing 777 MEL-BKK (Shell seats with 167º recline)
Thai Airways First Class A380 BKK-CDG (Full Flat Bed)
Thai Airways Business Class A380 CDG-BKK (Full Flat Bed)

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Review was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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FOMO Thai http://fatboo.com/2014/11/fomo-thai-bourke-st-melbourne.html http://fatboo.com/2014/11/fomo-thai-bourke-st-melbourne.html#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 23:30:54 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=20216 FOMO Thai by Fatboo

Thai restaurant in the city with authentic (and spicy) dishes served with a light modern twist. Visit this place & experience Bangkok's urban food culture.

FOMO Thai was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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FOMO Thai by Fatboo

171 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9650 7987
Website

FOMO Thai

When Fatbee and I catch up with a particular group of his friends, he calls it as “Dinner with The Fat Club” -: Fatboo, Fatbee, Fat Pumpkin and Fat Money. Not the politest of nicknames, but it wasn’t me who came up with them… ha ha ha! Either way, that’s how we found ourselves trying out this (newish?) Thai restaurant along Bourke St in the city.

FOMO Thai

And speaking of bad jokes, when Fatbee first said we’re dining at FOMO Thai, the first reply that came out of me was “how come it isn’t called MOFO Thai?”. Needless to say… he completely ignored what I said… ha ha ha!

The interior’s modern and the waitstaff were decidedly Thai, which got me a little more excited. The concept here is to relax and have authentic Thai food served in the typical new-urban Bangkok setting.

FOMO Thai
Som Tum Ko Rad Plara ส้มตำโคราชใส่ปลาร้า – $14.00
“Ko Rad” style Som Tum

We started off with the customary serve of som tum, which came confidently tangy and (I’m happy to say this) fabulously spicy! One thing I notice is Thai restaurants have so many variations of som tum on their menu with just minor tweaks in their ingredients, but the dish tends to end up tasting quite the same to me. So the “Ko Rad” style som tum still tasted like a spicy-tangy papaya salad!

FOMO Thai
Moo Krob Tod หมูกรอบทอดกับนํ้าจิ้มสามชนิด – $38.00
Roasted pork bellies served with three specialty condiments

Here’s a dish that Fat Money enjoyed before, a pile of crispy pork belly served on a board with hoisin sauce, kecap manis and chilli sauce. To me, it’s somewhat similar to having the deep fried pork hock Thai dish but all cut up nicely for you, except that the meat in this case was wonderfully soft and succulent despite how it looks like in the photo. It’s really really good, and my only gripe is how modest the serve is for its price point of $38.

FOMO Thai
Gang Keaw Look Cheen Pla Grai – $19.00
แกงเขียวหวานลูกชิ้นปลากราย
Green curry with homemade fish dumplings cooked in fragrant lime leaves and green basil

The other main dish we had was a very interesting one where green curry was paired with fish dumplings rather than the usual chicken or beef. I used to gripe about how sweet, mild and non-spicy Thai curries (especially green curry) are in Melbourne compared to its knock-your-socks-off spiciness in Thailand. But this dish finally breaks out of that mould… it was delightfully hot! On first sip, a few of us sputtered… ha ha!

FOMO Thai

The fish dumplings were like bouncy-soft nuggets of fish cakes, the fragrance of the spices and ingredients was lovely and I liked how they used proper Thai eggplants for this dish and there wasn’t any of that carrots / capsicums / zucchini nonsense.

FOMO Thai
Muk Pad Kai Kem หมึกผัดไข่เค็ม - $19.00
Stir-fried squids with salted egg

Our final dish turned out to be a ‘palate cleanser’ of sorts because it was light and non-spicy. salted eggs, when overused can be quite overpowering in terms of smell so I liked how clean this version of it tasted. And oddly enough it almost reminded me of the sauce that you’d get with Singaporean seafood hor fun.

FOMO Thai

FOMO Thai was a bit of a surprise find, especially that lovely Thai green curry. But let me make it clear that this is from the perspective of a non-Thai.

I thought the food here was authentic with a modern twist, making it quite accessible to the palates of discerning Melburnians. And if how the spicy the food seemed to be has put you off, worry not… the friendly waitress actually warns you if a particular dish is very spicy… to which I’d always return with a joyous thumbs up sign! My yardstick for how authentic a Thai place comes from what spice levels they throw at us, but a very recent trip to Bangkok just last weekend proved to me that even the Thais will tone down the spice levels of the dishes for non-local diners. So I’m all the more happy now that FOMO Thai doesn’t do that!

FOMO Thai

FOMO Thai was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters http://fatboo.com/2014/11/soba-salmon-pancakes-lotus-root-pork-belly-beetroot-carrot-soup.html http://fatboo.com/2014/11/soba-salmon-pancakes-lotus-root-pork-belly-beetroot-carrot-soup.html#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 01:50:00 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=20047 Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters by Fatboo

Some of the simple Asian dishes I've been cooking at home... soba with pan-fried salmon, braised pork belly with lotus root, beetroot carrot soup & more.

Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters by Fatboo

My food jaunts this year have taken a pretty big step back, with Fatbee and I mostly depending on those good ol’ places (mostly in the city) that’s both cheap and tasty. Truth be told, it has reached a point where I’ve run out of new places (and recipes) to blog about!

But this blog’s more like personal sounding board for my food and travel adventures anyway, so I’ve decided to round up this compilation post covering some of the things that Fatbee and I have been eating at home. If anything else, it shows how human we are and that we too can have our incredibly lazy months!

Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters

Japanese soba with pan fried salmon

Now that the weather’s warming up, we’ve started cooking fewer one-pot stews and curries… much to Fatbee’s relief! I’d previously bought a packet of soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles) from Daiso last year, but finally got around to cooking it recently. The recipe’s inspiration comes from Winston, who’d previously shown how you can make a delicious and simple meal with soba and fresh salmon. The dish we cooked here is perfect for warm weather because soba is meant to be eaten at room temperature and the other components to the dish are also very cooling on the palate.

The cooking instructions on the packet were entirely in Japanese, so we winged it. I found that cooking soba is pretty similar to cooking pasta, except it takes a shorter cooking time in briskly boiling water to be ready (about 3-5 mins). About halfway through boiling, I also added the veggies (broccolini or asparagus) and blanched it for a minute or so before setting it aside… that’s ultimate lazy cooking for you! Once ready, the noodles were transferred into a sieve and rinsed through with cool tap water to stop the cooking process. One packet of soba was enough to serve four persons.

The salmon came next, and it was a simple matter of sprinkling a few turns of salt then pan-frying on all sides over medium to high heat till the outsides are brown and crisp. If the salmon is very fresh, I like to make it crisp on the outside and slightly undercooked in the middle. Assemble everything together on a plate, sprinkle a bit of furikake (Japanese rice / seaweed seasoning) on top of the noodles, and enjoy this dish with a dipping sauce of soba tsuyu on the side. Soba tsuyu is basically a mixture of Japanese soy sauce, mirin and bonito extract, and we did the smart thing of buying a ready-made bottle of it at the Asian grocers instead of making it ourselves.

Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters

Pancakes with berry compote, mascarpone cheese, smoked maple syrup

We also found ourselves brunching out less these days. And on the rare Sundays where neither of us are working, Fatbee would make pancakes at home, thereby saving money and skipping the incredibly busy weekend brunch crowds.

It’s a very easy dish to make too… with Fatbee handling the cooking of the pancakes (there are a million recipes online), while I’d just mix a bowl of frozen berries with a bit of sugar and water and microwave it in 20-30 second pulses till it’s sticky and lightly cooked. Add a dollop of mascarpone cheese and drizzle everything over with good quality maple syrup. We used smoked maple syrup from The Melbourne Pantry and I must say it tastes friggin’ good with the pancakes.

Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters

Ling ngau man ju yoke
(Braised pork belly with lotus root and red fermented tofu)

Fakegf invited us over for dinner one evening and she cooked this Cantonese dish, whose origins came from her paternal grandmother in Hong Kong. Because I’m Peranakan in background (with it’s spicy-pungent and incredibly saucy dishes), I found myself loving how light and clean-tasting this Cantonese-style dish was despite pork belly being one of its main ingredients. The incredible deliciousness of that meal hovered in my mind for days and I finally got Fakegf to give me the recipe for this dish, which she sent to me over 6 succinct text messages.

Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters

And I’ll have to thank Fakegf for that recipe because the dish turned out perfect… exactly like how she’d made it when we visited. Succulent pieces of pork belly sitting in a gentle braising broth of ginger, garlic and red fermented beancurd (南乳 – Cantonese “nom yee”). And it’s just so nice having it with the earthy, soft-crunchy pieces of lotus root.

Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters

Smoked salmon, baby asparagus & failed poached eggs

Continuing with our home brunch efforts, here’s a $7 meal for two one Sunday morning. Problem is, we totally struggled with poaching the eggs. Tried swirling the pot of water, tried adding vinegar, and tried wrapping it in cling film… all with not much success.

Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters

And here’s Fatbee’s plate… it ended up being a brunch with Nordic elements of smoked salmon and asparagus fused with Malaysian-style kueh neng – soft boiled eggs that were meant to be poached eggs. And I nearly snorted a piece of asparagus up my nose when I saw Fatbee holding his cup o’ eggs and sipping it as if it were a cup of coffee.

Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters

A Work In Progress:
A candid look at a year in the life of Noma.

It’s funny how just when my world’s revolving around cheap eats and very little homecooking, I actually end up being interested in reading René Redzepi’s latest book(s). For those of you who have not heard of him, he is the head chef of Noma in Copenhagen, which has been ranked as the best restaurant in the world 4 times in the past 5 years. Fancy titles aside, it didn’t stop him from using the f-word within the very first paragraph of the book… ha ha!

The book’s set up very playfully. You start off by reading the Rene’s journal covering the daily events in his life at the restaurant… and along the way he’d direct you to specific recipes and candid snapshots (found in the other two books) that were inspired from the events of that day. The recipes are nigh impossible to recreate, but I wanted to read the book more for his philosophy towards food and cooking, which I got a good sense of in this very personal (and conversational) journal.

Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters

Beetroot & carrot soup

On one of the rare days where I’d actually felt like cooking, I made a simple meal of spicy slow-baked ribs with miso and garlic. To accompany that dish, we enjoyed it with a very simple beetroot and carrot soup, a dish that Winston introduced us to when we had a simple potluck dinner last year.

I omitted using pork or chicken bones to make the broth, so it’s basically chunks of beetroot and carrot lightly simmered with just enough water to cover it and a few turns of salt. If the root vegetables are fresh and sweet, it makes for a very delicious (and not to mention colourful) soup dish.

Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters

And finally, here’s something I did not make. Fakegf had been embarking on a 4-week clean-eating challenge, an effort that I have a deep respect for but definitely can’t pull off myself. Her diet consisted of uncompromising-but-wonderful dishes such as gluten-free banana pancakes with peanut butter and oven baked fish with wilted vegetables and pine nut crust.

One evening, she dropped off a few slices of homemade semi-raw carrot ‘cheesecake’ (gluten, dairy, egg and sugar-free) along with a bar of vegan rose-scented pana chocolate (sweetened with agave nectar). I am usually skeptical about these healthy raw foods, thinking they’re abit too healthy-boring. But oh my goodness that carrot cheesecake was amazing!! And with our recent enjoyable visit to Combi cafe, I can see the allure of clean-eating and probably wouldn’t mind ‘indulging’ in that pastime ever so often… pending Fatbee’s approval… ha ha ha!

Home Snippets & Cooking Disasters was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Darac Grill & Bar http://fatboo.com/2014/11/darac-grill-bar-tokyo-hometown-supermarket-melbourne.html http://fatboo.com/2014/11/darac-grill-bar-tokyo-hometown-supermarket-melbourne.html#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 05:49:13 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=19899 Darac Grill & Bar by Fatboo

Busy Korean restaurant in the CBD with good stone-bowl bibimbaps and buddae jiggae (army stews). Also check out the Japanese supermarket a few doors away.

Darac Grill & Bar was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Darac Grill & Bar by Fatboo

51 A’Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9662 2441

Darac Grill & Bar

My enthusiasm for cooking comes in small little waves, and for the most part, I prefer to just eat out these days. Because Fatbee and I only go for cheap eats, it actually becomes almost as affordable as home cooking (albeit less healthy). If anything else, one could argue that this is good for the economy!! It also helps that Fatbee lives really close to the city, so we’d quite often stroll into town (so healthy!) for our dinner… a ritual that I quite enjoy doing.

I was in the funny mood for Korean cocktails one Sunday night, so we walked towards Joomak’s underground lair on Swanston St only to find out it was shut. Plan B involved exploring the vicinity around A’Beckett St and we quickly decided on Darac.

Darac Grill & Bar
Rice $2 | Yakult Soju Cocktail $8

I’ve been here a number of times already and, if the crowd’s already any indication of it, the food’s pretty good. However, the Korean cocktail selection isn’t as fabulous here, with many items being served in a bottle or a can, and no fruit-infused makkoli cocktails! So we both tried the only cocktail that sounded appealing – a combination of soju with yakult and soda. Good choice though…! It was nice and sparkly with hints of yoghurt.

Darac Grill & BarA3 Pork Shabushabu Sausage Stew (Medium) $29

For that evening, we veered away from the yummy stone-bowl bibimbaps and decided to share a hotpot instead. A cunning plan on my part if I may add… because now that we’re in October and the weather’s warming up, I wanted to enjoy hotpots and soups a bit more before it gets too warm for it.

Darac seems like a bit of a specialist with Korean Army Stews, with quite a few iterations of it on the menu. We picked the version that came with thinly-sliced pork, shabushabu-style. It seems like every second blog post I publish these days is a Korean joint, with me tucking into the deliciousness of an army stew. Change blog name to “The Army Stew Diaries”… no?

Darac Grill & Bar

Jokes aside, I’m really glad we tried this dish. On top of the usual stock-standard tinned rations of SPAM, baked beans, cocktail sausages and ham with kimchi and spicy paste… once things got bubbling, the discovery didn’t stop. This stew also boasted squares of tofu, macaroni, zucchini, sweet potato noodles, rice cakes, garden chrysanthemum, spring onion and of course sliced pork.

I found the components here balanced each other very nicely, and I liked how the presence of gochujang (spicy paste) wasn’t overpowering… making for a gentler broth with a slightly ‘milky’ flavour. I really enjoyed this offering.

Darac Grill & Bar

Korean Army Stews (Buddae Jiggae) isn’t for everyone. But if you’re a fan of it like I am, then I recommend you give Darac’s version of it a try… if you can find a table in this busy restaurant to begin with!

Darac Grill & Bar

Darac Grill & Bar

We will end this post with a delightful discovery that we’d made the same evening. Just a few doors down from Darac, we found a Japanese supermarket opened by the Hometown group of Asian grocers. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, we also found a huge section wholly devoted to matcha flavoured goodies!

Darac Grill & Bar

Japanese snacks tend to have no English translations on the packet, so part of the fun is actually randomly buying whatever looks unusual or fun! Here’s the bounty that we came home with that evening! And you’re probably not going to be surprised, but I loved the pink Rilakkuma snack-in-a-cup the best. It’s actually strawberry flavoured crispy puffs with hints of cuttlefish!

Darac Grill & Bar was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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10 SEO Mistakes I Learnt the Hard Way http://fatboo.com/2014/11/10-seo-mistakes-bloggers-make.html http://fatboo.com/2014/11/10-seo-mistakes-bloggers-make.html#comments Sun, 09 Nov 2014 08:25:38 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=18204 10 SEO Mistakes I Learnt the Hard Way by Fatboo

A discussion about the importance of harnessing SEO optimisation techniques for Bloggers, and the flipside of getting too caught up with stats & metrics.

10 SEO Mistakes I Learnt the Hard Way was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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10 SEO Mistakes I Learnt the Hard Way by Fatboo

This is a continuation from my previous post, where I discussed “Is Blog Optimisation Worth It?”. Today, I’ll be musing over another aspect of online blogging that’s pretty close to many of our hearts – it’s called SEO. While I’m not an expert at it, I tend to think of it as a fun ‘hobby’ (even when it backfires on me).

For those of you following me just for food reviews, this post will be quite tangential… but it sort of gives you an inside glimpse into the technical (and sometimes exasperating) side of blogging and my own perspectives towards it.

10 SEO Mistakes I Learnt the Hard Way

1. What Is SEO?

We’ll start with a definition. Basically SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.

I think of SEO as a list of things that you can do to improve your website’s ranking and visibility in a search engine’s organic (ie. “natural” and unpaid) search results. And of course, amongst all the search engines, Google is King! So you could almost call SEO as a series of things we try to do to make Google be “best friends” with our blogs… hah!

The list of SEO tips is endless and beyond the scope of this post. But here’s a few examples:

  • Using Appropriate Keywords.
  • Writing well, and writing about things relevant to your blog.
  • Doing good blog housekeeping, stay on top of your broken links.
  • Taking steps to increase the speed of your site, Google likes fast-loading sites.
  • Avoid duplicate content.
  • Engaging with the community.

2. How important is SEO?

For me, it’s very important… Google alone accounts for 61% of all my traffic. So seeking to improve my site’s SEO further could be very beneficial. If your Google Ranking is high, your website is more likely to appear in the first page of search engine results.

3. What do you mean by “Appropriate Keywords”?

I’m basically talking about having relevant keywords in your entries. For example, titling a post “An Exciting Weekend of Food” won’t rank as well on Google Searches as a title like “Mamasita, Chin Chin & Huxtaurger… Oh My!”. That’s because people won’t be searching on Google for vague things like “exciting foods”, they’d be searching for the specific restaurants.

In a nutshell, you’ll want to use keywords that people use when they do searches on Google. And ideally, those keywords should appear in your blog post, its title and even the post URL!

4. Anything to Watch Out For?

A word of warning here: Google is very smart. After discussing about appropriate keywords above, I got a little caught up and decided to tweak the titles of all of my old blog posts (adding in the suburb of each restaurant to the title). Google saw this as an attempt at optimisation and my page views from search engines dropped by a fair bit. Yup… I ended up on Google’s naughty list! It may be many months before my Google page rank goes back up, but oh well… it was a fun endeavour in a geeky way! :p

A lesson learnt here: be cautious if you decide to overhaul your whole blog all at once as it can be seen as a red flag for Google. Instead, optimise slowly or only do so for your future posts.

5. Blogroll… Yes or No?

A Blogroll is an online list of blogs with similar interests as your website. A food blog like mine has a blogroll listing other fellow Melbourne food bloggers. I look at it as a form of ‘scratching each other’s backs’… being part of a community, whilst giving each other more exposure. Not to mention Google likes it when websites of similar content creates links with each other. One ‘risk’ about having a Blogroll is the repercussions of not including a fellow blogger in your list (I can be forgetful sometimes). It can make them feel left out… or worse… cranky!

Some bloggers still upkeep a Blogroll, while others have taken their Blogrolls down. I’d say just do what you’re comfortable with. However, I find that just having the blog names displayed in a list to be not that meaningful, so my Blogroll now resides inside a page called “Comrades”… where I have a little description of how I’ve come to know each and every blogger on that list. This makes it more personal.

6. How About Duplicate Content?

The SEO community seems to be on two sides of the fence with this. Some think that duplicate content of more than one paragraph should be avoided because Google could smack both websites with a duplicate content penalty. Others think we’re being too paranoid and that this so called duplicated content penalty only happens to very spammy websites.

Personally, I try to minimise duplicate content where possible… meaning if I give a website permission to republish my blog posts, I’ll want them to correctly set it up with canonical tags that tells search engines where the copyrighted master page is (ie. the original post in my blog). If they refuse to do this, then the minimum that I’ll tolerate is proper credits and backlinks to the exact page in my blog that they republished from.

What I won’t tolerate is anyone who copies my content without permission, publishes it on their site without proper backlinks, and then tries to pass it off as their own original content. With these content thieves, I’d lodge a DMCA Site Takedown request immediately. No warnings, no grace period.

7. Are Site Stats & Google Analytics Useful?

10 SEO Mistakes I Learnt the Hard Way

The vast majority of site owners use Google Analytics to get information about how well their sites are performing. But guess what? It has taken me more than 3 years before (just a few months ago) I finally started using Google Analytics to check my blog statistics! Here’s one stats report that has captivated me… it’s a real-time summary of how many active users are browsing my site right now, telling me which pages they’re on, where they entered my site from (Facebook, Twitter…) and what type of device (desktop / tablet / mobile) they’re using!

Sometimes I’d say all this information is almost too useful, and also a bit freaky knowing how much information is being collected as we browse things online. These statistics gives you so much information about your blog and its traffic that you run the risk of changing your blogging behaviour if you get too caught up by its metrics. The screenshot above already tells me that recipes are significantly more popular than my bread-and-butter Melbourne restaurant posts. Revamp self-image into Fatboo The Recipe Blogger… no?

Noooooooo!!!!

But if used wisely, Google Analytics and site statistics can be a powerful tool in troubleshooting what part of your site actually works or needs work. For instance, here’s one thing I learnt… I’d previously made the mistake of putting Singapore hawker food posts on low priority because it felt out-of-point from my Melbourne-based food blog. Google Analytics showed me that it’s my Singapore Food Posts (even the old ones with ugly photos, bad formatting and all) that actually generates the most interest and page views! So I absolutely shouldn’t have stopped myself from sharing my love for Singaporean hawker fare!

8. Should I Continue Covering Restaurants?

US-based Diane Jacob’s post “Are Restaurant Bloggers Still Relevant?” got me thinking further about this.

Let’s face it: restaurants are local and its reviews will only be of interest to the people who’re in that city. More often than not, all I’d get is a small spike in page views when a restaurant post first gets published… and then interest disappears. Urbanspoon referrals do help a bit, but not much. And I hardly get any traffic for restaurant posts via search engines.

By comparison, a recipe post appeals to a worldwide audience and gets constant traffic daily. To put it in perspective, my best performing recipe post gets 23 times more page views a year than my best performing restaurant post. This is why the biggest blogs tend to be recipe blogs.

I confess I have at times thought to myself what’s the point of spending so much effort into writing a restaurant post when it hardly gets read. I’m almost better off just Instagramming the restaurant dishes I’m having right there and then, knowing that my 3,000 or so followers will see it!

Which brings me to my next question:

9. Should I Care About Page Views?

It is rare to find a blogger who doesn’t care about page views, and I’d be lying if I said that page views didn’t matter to me. Over the years, I’ve put in heaps of effort into making this blog look good… changing to a cleaner theme, pushing out better photos, collaging them beautifully, and supporting it with (what I believe is) decent writing. I thought all that effort would mean more visitors and hits, but in the end it made no difference, and that actually hurts.

But rather than thinking I’ve been doing everything wrong, the reality is: there are many factors that governs page views and, despite my best efforts, this statistic can go up and down. And while some of us are more successful at it than others, I shouldn’t take it personally if I’m just not as good at it.

These days, I’ve finally learnt not to get too hung up over page views, there are other (healthier) measures of success than this. All it takes is a change of perspective.

10. Should I Engage With The Community?

The answer here is a straightforward yes. The act of following, commenting and sharing your passion with other bloggers does make quite a difference. Using social media to chat and connect with each other is great too. And don’t forget, replying to comments that other people have made on your blog is good common courtesy.

Yes I know that’s quite a bit of time and effort, but know this: readers do read and follow blog comments, tweets and instagram posts. So if you place a well thought-out comment on someone else’s blog, it compels their followers to want to discover more of what you have to say.

All that said, I personally have taken a step back from commenting on blogs these days. To be honest, I find it’s a somewhat clunky affair, with many fields to fill and an annoying CAPTCHA sequence. And it’s a bit one-way too, because the dialogue is usually just between the blogger and myself. More often than not, the only reason why I occasionally make the effort to comment is the simple fact that most of us bloggers LOVE receiving them. It’s like the lifeblood of a blog!

These days comments (and even whole conversations) occur on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in a much quicker and more dynamic way involving many participants. Because it’s a lot more lively, I find myself more drawn towards using these platforms to engage with the community.

So What’s My Endgame?

Part of me feels now that I’ve been blogging for four years, I’ve more or less reached my Endgame.

The blog’s theme is finally to my satisfaction (even if a part of me think it’s still a touch ‘clinical’)… I’ve got an easy workflow, I know what I’m doing (most of the time) and I’m doing it at my own pace. And even though I’ve made a number of SEO mistakes that backfired on me, I just tell myself not to take it personally. If there’s just a handful of people out there who finds this blog enjoyable, that’s enough for me.

I’ve also started blogging for myself and about the things (both the fun and mundane) that have been going on in my life… from my relaxing holidays to the simple cheap eats and homecooked disasters that forms the bread-and-butter of my Melbourne existence.

If there’s any advice I’d give, I’d say that in the end it’s all about balance. Don’t get too caught up with page views and metrics. Optimise carefully, do what you can and only if you have the time to. Find your comfort point… that delicate fulcrum between optimisation versus your personal satisfaction. Write passionately. Write playfully. Write for yourself and don’t sweat over what Google or your readers may think. In a nutshell… stay happy!

But if I were to delve deeper… I think my ideal ‘Endgame‘, ironically, would be for me to go back to the innocent headspace that I had when I first started this blog. Back when I knew nothing about blog optimisation, web design, search metrics, nothing. Back when social media had only started. Back when it was just me, my thoughts, my heart full of dreams… and that inviting blank screen with a blinking cursor… .. . |

PS: If you have your own SEO experiences to share, I’d love to hear about it!

10 SEO Mistakes I Learnt the Hard Way was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Dinner at The Grain Store http://fatboo.com/2014/11/dinner-grain-store-cafe-melbourne.html http://fatboo.com/2014/11/dinner-grain-store-cafe-melbourne.html#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 08:30:57 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=20101 Dinner at The Grain Store by Fatboo

The Grain Store in Melbourne is quite well known as a brunch spot, but many of us do not know that they're also open for dinner service.

Dinner at The Grain Store was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Dinner at The Grain Store by Fatboo

517 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9972 6993
Website

Disclosure: Fatbee & I dined here courtesy of The Grain Store

Most of the restaurant invites that I’d receive tend to fall on evenings where I’d still be stuck at work. So it was quite nice that Fatbee and I could make it to this intimate little bloggers’ dinner at The Grain Store one Wednesday evening a few weeks ago.

Dinner at The Grain Store

Most of you will know of The Grain Store as a brunch spot, but not many of us know that they’re also open for dinner service. Fatbee and I enjoyed our brunch here very much when we last visited in June, so we were pretty excited about how the dinner menu would turn out like.

We arrived early and sipped at a glass of rosé whilst appreciating how the last rays of evening light fell over the modern-yet-rustic tables in the dining room. Other fellow bloggers soon appeared, forming a cosy group of not more than 15 of us.

Dinner at The Grain Store

Small little starters soon arrived in egg-shaped glass cups. They’re an amuse bouche made up of savoury mushroom jelly topped with a gently sweet layer of pumpkin foam and served with a triangle of chickpea chips.

Dinner at The Grain Store

We were then led into our private dining room, our wine glasses filled, and then German-born head chef Ingo Meissner came out to say hello and explain a little more about the restaurant’s philosophy towards food. Amongst all the words like ‘fresh’ and ‘in-season’, I didn’t quite catch everything that Ingo told us except for one thing: they actually have a rooftop garden where they grow seasonal produce that ends up on your plate. For a restaurant that’s smack in the CBD, I think that’s fantastic!

I think it’s quite intimidating for a chef to face a table full of self-professed online ‘food critics’, so all I can say is kudos to chef Ingo for speaking to us all without wanting to hide behind one of Designani’s paintings… ha ha ha!

Dinner at The Grain Store
Green asparagus, grilled burrata, mandarin, black barley, hazelnut vinaigrette, rosemary sablé
Poached veal fillet, avocado, tuna mayonnaise, charred shallots, white anchovies, caper berries
Pan seared scallops, smoked eggplant, butternut boudin noir sandwich, ricotta lemon curd, crisp leeks

For our entrées, each of us received a plate with a sample-sized serve of three of the small dishes from the dinner menu.

I enjoyed this offering because the flavours were distinct, fresh and unique without being ‘overworked’. Sandwiching a piece of gently-spiced blood sausage between slices of butternut pumpkin worked very well for me, as did the surprise combination of avocado and tuna in a mayonnaise paired with a delicate slice of veal.

Dinner at The Grain Store
Free range Aylesbury duck breast, fennel remoulade, potato risotto, caramelised carrot, tomato, pine nuts

For mains, each of us had either duck or fish that night as they staggered the dishes down the table. Fatbee and I tasted our dishes and then promptly swapped plates because we preferred what the other one was having… perfect!

I went with the duck, which came blushing pink in the middle, succulent and with a lightly glazed skin that’s full of flavour. The crisp-crunchy ribbons of fennel salad helped cut into the unctuousness of the duck and I enjoyed how light and ‘summery’ this dish tasted overall.

Dinner at The Grain Store
Lakes Entrance dory fillets, new season asparagus, soft herb spätzle, charred corn salsa

Fatbee’s preferred dish consisted of these lightly pan-fried dory fillets served with asparagus and corn. We swapped dishes because I personally am not a fan of the dense / bouncy texture of John Dory while Fatbee tends to wrinkle his nose at most duck dishes (except Chinese roast duck!) because of its ‘duck smell’.

The fish sat on a green bed of soft herb spätzle, which is a curious European dumpling of sorts made from flour and eggs. I once tried to make spätzle at home to go with my homecooked Hungarian Goulash and failed (they were like bricks!). So I was glad to try a ‘real’ version of it as cooked by an European chef… they had a firm-elastic texture that’s a bit like a denser, more rubbery version of gnocchi.

Dinner at The Grain Store
Rosemary & parmesan polenta chips

We also had shared serves of these (jenga-stacked) polenta chips to go with our mains. They were lovely.

Dinner at The Grain Store
Black forest gateau, chocolate ganache, cherries, vanilla kirsch panna cotta, cocoa nibs
Strawberry soufflé, goats cheese sorbet 

We ended the night nicely with a sampler plate of little sweets. I quite liked the hints of almond that came from the kirsch-infused panna cotta and the chocolate ganache was nice and dark. The soufflé had flavours that reminded me of eating strawberry yoghurt, but many of us found the goats cheese sorbet on the pungent ‘goatey’ side.

Dinner at The Grain Store

I find it funny that these days, the fine dining experiences that Fatbee and I have either happens when we’re overseas or as restaurant invites extended towards myself as a food blogger. As such, we tend to treat it as a special occasion and our meal here was no exception.

Just like our brunch experience at The Grain Store, I think the quality of cooking for its dinner service is just as good. I’d like to thank The Grain Store and Sarah from Zilla and Brook for inviting Fatbee and myself to this cosy and intimate dinner. It was also very nice to have (finally!) caught up with Daisy and also get to know (if only briefly) a few more fellow bloggers like The Bake-a-nista, Little Miss Melbourne and Nouveau Potato.

Dinner at The Grain Store was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Chilli Baked Ribs with Garlic & Miso http://fatboo.com/2014/11/baked-pork-ribs-garlic-miso-chilli.html http://fatboo.com/2014/11/baked-pork-ribs-garlic-miso-chilli.html#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 06:50:09 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=20080 Chilli Baked Ribs with Garlic & Miso by Fatboo

Fuss-free recipe for an oven-baked dish of porks ribs marinated in chilli, garlic & miso paste. Succulent, tasty and fork tender.

Chilli Baked Ribs with Garlic & Miso was written by Fatboo.
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Chilli Baked Ribs with Garlic & Miso by Fatboo

I first encountered this dish when I was visiting an ex-highschool friend in Dublin (circa 2007). She baked it saying how easy and delicious it is, and I have to agree that it was indeed yummy!

My memory’s quite murky when it comes to events from seven years ago, but these baked ribs tasted lovely enough to linger in my mind for years. And I think part of its allure also came from how incredibly fuss-free this dish seemed to be.

Chilli Baked Ribs with Garlic & Miso

I managed to recreate this dish for Fatbee earlier this year and, despite feeling skeptical about the combination of ingredients at the start, he ended up loving it too. It’s one of those dishes that sounds unconvincing in your head but actually works well. It’s also funny how back then I could cook it intuitively without a recipe to follow.

I just marinated the ribs with quantities of ingredients that felt right, baked it at temperatures and times that felt right, then pretty much left it alone in the oven whilst I played video games all afternoon… and it turned out fantastic!

Chilli Baked Ribs with Garlic & Miso
Miso paste, red birdseye chillies, garlic

A few weeks ago, I tried to cook it again but this time with attempts to quantify how much of each ingredients to use with the intent of creating the recipe… but the resultant dish did not quite hit the mark. It took me a few more attempts before I finally got it right, and I’m happy to say it’s now ready to be shared as a recipe.

Chilli Baked Ribs with Garlic & Miso

Here’s all the ingredients you’ll need: a few heaped tablespoonfuls of miso paste, chopped red chillies, chopped garlic, a bit of honey and oil. The honey helps balance out the savouriness of the miso paste and it also helps create a bit of chargrilled caramelisation during the final stages of baking. And if you don’t have honey, you can always substitute it with something else that’s sweet like maple syrup or sugar.

Chilli Baked Ribs with Garlic & Miso

Just mix all the ingredients with the cut ribs, then cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours, or preferably overnight. Sometimes when I’m very lazy, I’d even just throw all the ingredients and the ribs into a large ziploc bag and then seal it and mix it all from the outside, thereby not dirtying my hands at all. During this stage, you can also separate the ribs into portions and put those you’d like to cook the next day in the fridge while the rest can be stored in the freezer for future meals.

The ribs become nice and succulent when baked slowly at low temperatures whilst covered in foil to stop it from losing moisture. After 2½ to 3 hrs of slow baking, open the foil packages and rearrange the ribs into a single layer, and then chargrill them at maximum temperature for 5-10 mins. And that’s it, you’re ready to serve!

Chilli Baked Ribs with Garlic & Miso

Chilli Baked Pork Ribs with Garlic & Miso

Preparation Time: Overnight
Baking Time: 2½ to 3 hours
Serves 6

1 kg Pork Ribs
Half a bulb of Garlic (chopped)
5-10 Birdseye Red Chillies (chopped)
2 heaped tbsp Miso Paste
1 tbsp Honey
1-2 tbsp Oil

Method:

Wash the rack of pork ribs, pat dry and remove the membrane layer from its bony underside
Cut the ribs into pieces

Create the marinade by mixing all the other ingredients in a large separate bowl
Add the ribs into the bowl and mix well (alternatively you can marinate the ribs in a large seal-tight ziploc bag)
Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours, preferably overnight

Transfer the ribs into 2-3 closed parcels made from aluminium foil
In a preheated oven, bake at 120ºC for 2½ hrs (3hrs if the ribs came direct from the fridge)
Remove from oven, open the parcels, arrange the ribs in a single layer
Bake at maximum temperature 240ºC (or use the griller) for 5-10mins till the outsides are chargrilled

Serve with a squeeze of lemon

Chilli Baked Ribs with Garlic & Miso

Chilli Baked Ribs with Garlic & Miso was written by Fatboo.
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Warung Agus http://fatboo.com/2014/10/warung-agus-west-melbourne.html http://fatboo.com/2014/10/warung-agus-west-melbourne.html#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:00:43 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=19796 Warung Agus by Fatboo

Balinese restaurant in West Melbourne with authentic gently flavoured Balinese-style dishes. Good babi guling here.

Warung Agus was written by Fatboo.
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Warung Agus by Fatboo

305 Victoria St
West Melbourne, VIC 3003
03 9329 1737
Website

Warung Agus was one of the uncharted territories that I took dad and mom to during their recent Melbourne visit this year. I say ‘uncharted’ because they’ve not been here nor have they tried Balinese cuisine. And I’m happy to say that they’re more open to trying new things lately, so we made a booking here the night before they left for Singapore.

Warung Agus

I’ll have to declare this to be one of the last few bastions of old-school dining left in Melbourne. With a quiet ambience, nicely spaced out tables, white pressed tablecloths and (later on) I’d discovered that they’re still using the old-fashioned (knuckle-scraping) franking machines for credit card transactions.

Warung Agus

And… right next to the entrance as you enter, there’s even this little pavilion where a couple could dine at Indonesian-style (if they’re so inclined). There, you can sit cross-legged with plush cushions all around you.

Warung AgusToge $22.00
Traditional West Bali style gado gado

We started off with a serve of gado gado, Balinese-style. To be honest I couldn’t really tell the difference between this and usual Indonesian-style Gado Gado that Fatbee and I have made in the past, with the now-very-familiar superbly rich peanut sauce and all the vegetarian trappings of bean sprouts, spinach, tofu, keropok and the all-too-necessary drizzle of kecap manis over everything. It’s still a decent dish, but I won’t order it again simply because it did not stand out that much from other styles of gado gado.

Warung Agus
Be Pasih Panggang $28.00
Whole grilled seasonal fish with balinese spicy tomato relish

Next up was a serve of whole grilled barramundi topped with a gently spicy Balinese tomato-based sauce. The flavours were subtle and refined and it went nicely with the creamy-fleshed barramundi.

Warung Agus
Babi Guling $30.00
Balinese roasted pork with crackling, served with lemongrass, chilli and ginger spicy sauce

Of course one can’t dine on Balinese food without trying their babi guling (roast suckling pig). And we quite unanimously loved this dish, where the meat’s wonderfully unctuous and tender accompanied with nice and crispy crackling. It also came with a nutty and herbaceous green lemongrass and ginger sauce.

Fatbee, despite being Indonesian, generally isn’t fond of babi guling because the pork tends to be over-spiced. But the version served here wasn’t too overhanded with the spices, so he liked it.

Warung Agus
Ayam Negara $28.00
West Bali style chicken – boneless chicken pieces in coconut and candlenut gravy with half boiled egg 

Our final dish was a chicken curry of sorts, which came with a subtle and slightly floral fragrance to it which fascinated mom. While it wasn’t too rich from coconut milk, we found the use of kemiri (candlenuts) gave it a thickish consistency. The only thing I wasn’t that keen on with this dish was the use of chicken breast meat, which meant that the chicken pieces were quite firm.

Warung Agus

Indonesian cuisine has many subsets because it’s such a large country with many islands. But I think Warung Agus is about the only place in Melbourne where you can get pretty authentic Balinese cuisine. Like the dishes I’ve had whilst holidaying in Bali, I found the flavours to be subtle and nuanced, which correlates with how pleasant and gentle the Balinese people tend to be.

The pricing is on the steeper (mid-range) side of things, with a main serve of nasi campur (mixed rice) going at $30 when you can get it for A$3 in Bali (A$12.50 if in a hotel resort). But all that said, the concept here leans towards the slightly more fine-dining side and the quality of the food here is good.

Warung Agus

Warung Agus was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Whampoa Fish Head Steamboat http://fatboo.com/2014/10/whampoa-fish-head-steamboat-singapore.html http://fatboo.com/2014/10/whampoa-fish-head-steamboat-singapore.html#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 20:21:27 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=19165 Whampoa Fish Head Steamboat by Fatboo

Hawker stall in Whampoa Food Centre serving the best version of one of my favourite Singaporean meals - Fish Head Steamboat.

Whampoa Fish Head Steamboat was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Whampoa Fish Head Steamboat by Fatboo

Let’s talk about Singaporean eats today. I know I’ve already blogged about Singapore Fish Head Steamboat three years ago, but the previous place we used to frequent (in Hougang) isn’t that good anymore. So it’s time for an update.

Xin Heng Feng Guo Tiao Tan

Blk 92, Whampoa Drive
#01-1415
Whampoa Market & Food Centre
Singapore
GoogleMap
Closed on Tuesday

Whampoa Fish Head Steamboat

Each Singaporean family has their own favourite stalls serving their much-loved hawker dishes. But based on my own taste preferences, this stall in Whampoa Food Centre serves the nicest Fish Head Steamboat I’ve ever eaten.

Whampoa Fish Head Steamboat

On arrival, you can tell it’s popular. That’s because even though the hawker centre hardly has any stalls open in the evening, you can still see tables and tables of people sitting and waiting with no food on the table. They’re all waiting for their turn to have their steamboat served.

We did the same. Mum lined up and ordered, telling the hawker stall vendor our table number. And then it’s a waiting game… where dad would quite often buy little snacks such as Hoover Rojak to tide us through the longish wait.

Whampoa Fish Head Steamboat

I remember there were weekends where we’d arrived at 6.30pm but waited till 8pm before our food arrived. But the good news is, they’ve somehow become more efficient lately, and the wait doesn’t go beyond 30 minutes. And the arrival of a round wooden pedestal with cutlery, disposable napkins and chilli sauces signals that our turn is coming soon.

Whampoa Fish Head SteamboatWhampoa Fish Head Steamboat

Not long after, a trolley of supporting dishes arrives, and you pick which ones you want. Dad usually orders the pork aspic (trotter jelly), soya sauce eggs and chye buay (salted vegetables). They all serve to give extra umami to the already delicious main event.

Whampoa Fish Head Steamboat

And here it is! A bubbling steel pot arrives… still heated by red smoking hot coals underneath, with orange flames licking up its central airwell. This is the reason why it has to be served on a block of wood.

Whampoa Fish Head Steamboat

And let the feasting begin!

The reason why fish head steamboat tastes go good is because of the use of the charcoal fire… sizzling and flavouring up the delicious piping hot soup whilst searing the scatter of seaweed, toasted pnee her (dried sole), slices of yam, wombok, and of course the delicious chunks of succulent fish head. It’s such a tantalising offering and a fantastic Singaporean meal.

Whampoa Fish Head Steamboat

We’d usually order Ang Go Li (红哥里 – Red Snapper) as the fish of choice with our steamboat. A small pot costs S$20, medium S$28 and the large goes at S$35. Other options include Pomfret and Garoupa.

I know I can’t make a charcoal-fired meal in Melbourne, but I’m seriously so tempted to have a go at recreating this amazing hawker dish even if there aren’t any recipes out there. If anything else, it’d be just to have a little slice of home in my heart to remember by before my next gastronomic visit to Singapore.

You may also be interested in exploring more of my Singapore Hawker Food Trail

Whampoa Fish Head Steamboat was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Little Big Sugar Salt http://fatboo.com/2014/10/little-big-sugar-salt-lbss-abbotsford.html http://fatboo.com/2014/10/little-big-sugar-salt-lbss-abbotsford.html#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 02:11:06 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=20031 Little Big Sugar Salt by Fatboo

Understated cafe in the bustling Vietnamese food precinct along Victoria Street with a great menu of fusion brunch dishes like kimchi salad with eggs.

Little Big Sugar Salt was written by Fatboo.
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Little Big Sugar Salt by Fatboo

385 Victoria St
Abbotsford, VIC 3067
Website

Little Big Sugar Salt

I confess life’s been pretty slack lately. If both Fatbee and I have a day off together (a rare commodity), it’s a case of window blinds down, alarms off and NO PLANS whatsoever for that day. That’s what we did a few weeks ago on a wet and blustery Thursday. We woke up around 10am, lazed about doing nothing, then asked what Fakegf was up to (she had the same day off). Turned out she was having a leisurely solo brunch session at LBSS. We joined her an hour later.

Little Big Sugar Salt

This little corner cafe resides in an old shophouse around the bustly stretch of Vietnamese eateries along Victoria St. A bit of a refreshing change from the (already delicious) culinary landscape of banh mis, phos and bun chas.

The open kitchen’s right up the front as you enter, and the seating areas are located in little rooms down a narrow corridor leading to to back. If you’re visiting, you have to check out the bathroom too, trust me… lol.

Little Big Sugar Salt
Smoothies $9
Purple Rain | Dr Green

We arrived to find Fakegf all cosied up at a corner table with her laptop and a cup of almond milk coffee. We promptly added to the drinks landscape by having LBBS’s trademark smoothies.

Fatbee’s Purple Rain was made from blueberries, purple kale, ginger and coconut water… bright and healthy. And I picked a green smoothie consisting of spinach, banana, pear, almond milk and a touch of matcha powder. It’s like a healthy banana smoothie… and while I couldn’t detect the matcha, I liked the nuttiness derived from the almond milk.

Little Big Sugar Salt

The food menu is partitioned into a four-piece food pyramid that’s named after the cafe. “Little” eats sit at the top while “Big” dishes forms it base, and the middle is sectioned into “Sugar” and “Salt” dishes. It’s quite a cutely thought-out concept.

Little Big Sugar Salt
This One $19
A high and mighty pile of healthy, with sticky kumera, cashew cream, kimchi salad, and poached eggs

We became accidental vegetarians that morning, with both of my companions picking this delicious number from the “Big” section of the menu. The caramelised kumera (sweet potato) worked wonderfully in this dish because it was coated in what tasted like soy and honey before being chargrilled into a crispy-sticky delight. Amazing.

Little Big Sugar Salt
Keyword: Tasty $15
An avo smash feat. feta, quinoa, kimchi, and a poached egg. 

I had an intriguing dish of smashed avocado and feta topped with a quinoa and kimchi salad. This would be the first time I’d ever encountered Korean kimchi incorporated into a Western-style brunch dish. It worked surprisingly well and the kimchi tasted deliciously homemade.

Little Big Sugar Salt

I really liked what they did to the menu at this understated little cafe and I found that it helped fuel my growing love for vegetarian dishes. Fakegf also tells me that they change the menu regularly here, so I think I’m going to be back here pretty soon!

Little Big Sugar Salt

Little Big Sugar Salt was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Frying Colours http://fatboo.com/2014/10/frying-colours-kensington-korean-fried-chicken.html http://fatboo.com/2014/10/frying-colours-kensington-korean-fried-chicken.html#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:16:36 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=19823 Frying Colours by Fatboo

Busy Korean eating spot in Kensington with very good Korean Fried Chicken.

Frying Colours was written by Fatboo.
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Frying Colours by Fatboo

520 Macaulay Rd
Kensington, VIC 3031
03 9939 9679
Website

Frying Colours
Ginger Soju Cocktail $10 | 2 Brothers Kung Foo Rice Lager $9.5

I heard about this place from Kenny, who’d suggested that the Korean Fried Chicken here is the real deal. I chuckled a bit over the name of the establishment, but eventually found myself having dinner here with Castletime and Beanstalk.

We arrived to find the place very packed for a Wednesday night, I’m glad we booked! The space was new and trendy with dim lighting, wood tables and a warm industrial motif. Looking at how quiet the rest of Macaulay Rd is in the nighttime, I can understand why this is a popular goto spot for dinner amongst the residents in Kensington.

Frying Colours
Korean Army Stew $36

While the menu did have a number of one-dish options (including a delicious sounding Beef Bulgogi Burger), we decided to order a few big dishes to share amongst us. First up was a serve of army stew, a dish that Fatbee and I have grown to enjoy lately. Those of you who aren’t fans of canned and processed food will not enjoy this… ever. It’s because this stew features tinned rations that were introduced by the US Army during the Korean War. I’m talking about SPAM, baked beans, cocktails sausages… all bubbling paradoxically in a spicy Korean hotpot with kimchi, mushrooms and noodles.

Frying Colour’s version was a little different in that it was served without a heat source and they used instant (ramen?) noodles instead of sweet potato noodles (although I hear that instant noodles is how the Koreans originally did it). The broth was on the lighter side than the army stews that I’ve had at other Korean places, leading me to think that it might be a slightly Westernised offering. But calling it fusionised sounds a bit wrong considering the dish itself came about from Western influences during the Korean War.

Frying Colours
FC Fried Chicken Half Original / Half Sweet Soy $34

Next up was the much talked-about serve of KFC (Korean Fried Chicken). I admit that Frying Colours does a pretty fine rendition of Fried Chicken here, with perfectly crisp outsides and beautifully succulent insides. I also liked how the layer of batter on the outside wasn’t too thick, and the seasonings were done sensibly so as not to interfere with the enjoyment of the chicken flesh itself.

I personally ended up liking the sweet soy flavour a bit more than the original because the sweetness wasn’t overpowering and the soy gave it a nice umami lift. I’ve had lots of places with Korean Fried Chicken in Melbourne now, and I’m glad to say that there are two places where I actually enjoy their KFC: Chimac and Frying Colours.

Frying Colours
FC Mixed Grill $43
Scotch Fillet, Marinated Pork Belly, Chicken Thigh with Salad

Our final shared dish was a mixed grill platter with three meat selections of our choice. Frying Colours has decided to forgo the use of the traditional Korean BBQ setup, saving you from sitting in a thick cloud of meat smoke in the restaurant. Instead, the concept is: your meats are grilled to perfection for you in the kitchen and then served on a platter.

The grilled offerings, especially the blushingly pink beef, was of good quality… but Fatbee and I personally think that it’s not quite the same thing to having your meats sizzling (and caramelising) right in front of you on a Korean BBQ that’s heated by charcoal fire. Somehow, just seeing this platter made me feel as if I was in a Greek restaurant having grilled meats with crudités and Asian condiments… ha ha!

Overall, I think the food quality here is good… especially the fried chicken, although some of the other dishes can be a little bit ‘Westernised’. And now that I know that about this place, for my next visit I’m probably going to sample their burgers and bibimbaps along with a greedy serve of more delicious fried chicken!

Frying Colours

Frying Colours was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Bali Revisited, Part 1 http://fatboo.com/2014/10/ize-seminyak-nyuh-bali-ku-de-ta-barbacoa-warung-sulawesi.html http://fatboo.com/2014/10/ize-seminyak-nyuh-bali-ku-de-ta-barbacoa-warung-sulawesi.html#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 22:34:38 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=19941 Bali Revisited, Part 1 by Fatboo

Travel journal covering Bali's stylish hotels, beach clubs, restaurants & delicious food warungs in Seminyak. We visit Ize Hotel, Ku De Ta & Barbacoa.

Bali Revisited, Part 1 was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Bali Revisited, Part 1 by Fatboo

When it comes to holidays, I usually don’t go back to the same place twice in a year, so Bali must have some sort of a spell on me to actually have me revisit within 6 months! I blame Fatbee’s crazily indulgent Bali itinerary he’d curated for me back in April.

Bali Revisited, Part 1Bali Revisited, Part 1

Ize Seminyak

Jalan Kayu Aya (Laksmana – Oberoi) No. 68
Seminyak, Bali – Indonesia
Website

What happened this time was… we initially wanted to visit New Zealand for a short getaway from our hectic work lives. But that plan fell through when airfares to NZ doubled overnight just when we decided to book. This made Bali once again a more affordable (not to mention luxurious and much warmer) option for a short holiday.

That’s how we woke up to this view in our top floor Seminyak hotel suite on the first morning of our trip.

Bali Revisited, Part 1
Photos of the suite, taken the night before

On arrival the night before, the staff told us that they’d run out of the rooms we’d booked, so they upgraded us from a regular US$90 room to this US$250 suite… score!!

Bali Revisited, Part 1Bali Revisited, Part 1
Rooftop Pool | Meja Restaurant @ Ize

With scenes like this… we knew that we were once again back in Bali, away from the wintry cold of Melbourne. It’s amazing how a 5-hour flight can take you into such a different world.

Breakfast was a lavish a la carte affair in its woody beach-themed ground floor restaurant, I loved how it wasn’t your run-of-the-mill hotel breakfast room. Fatbee picked this hotel for our first night because of its central location, funky design and good pricing.

Bali Revisited, Part 1Bali Revisited, Part 1
View from our hotel balcony | Nasi ayam lunch

Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku

Jl. Kayu Jati No. 12
Petitenget, Seminyak

For our first lunch in Bali, we walked down memory lane by having what I thought was the nicest meal I had in our previous trip. But this time, we paid homage to Nasi Ayam Kedewatan’s branch in Seminyak rather than the original in Ubud.

Bali Revisited, Part 1

I don’t know which part of Indonesia this particular dish is from, it’s a chilli chicken rice accompanied with deep fried chicken skin, gizzard, chicken satay and a wonderful chopped dried chillie sambal. Amazingly delicious for an unbeatable Rp.30,000 (A$3), but I thought the Ubud branch was a bit tastier because the deep fried chicken skins there were served really crisp. All the same, if you’re in Seminyak I’d recommend you add this place as part of your food tour.

Bali Revisited, Part 1

Nyuh Bali Villas

Jalan Bali Deli No. 99
Seminyak, Bali 80361
Website

While staying in a hotel suite is very nice in its own right, the focal point of any Balinese holiday for us will have to be its luxurious villas with private pool. Hence our move to this secluded residence for the rest of our 5-night trip.

Bali Revisited, Part 1Bali Revisited, Part 1

Our villa was located on one of the quieter back streets in busy Seminyak, and its walls helped give an added sense of privacy. Our budget was a bit more modest this time and this residence set us back US$215 a night, so of course it wasn’t quite the same opulent experience as our seaside stay at Alila Villas Soori with the roar of the ocean surf against its black sand beach.

By comparison, at this villa we could still hear street traffic whilst in bed at night. Still, our stay here was comfortable enough to make for a short and relaxing getaway.

Bali Revisited, Part 1
Nasi Campur Bebek Too-to 80.000

Made’s Warung (Seminyak)

Ph: 62 361 732130
Website

We encountered a prime example of peak hour Balinese traffic that evening. Our Villa’s complimentary shuttle service endeavoured to drive us to Potato Head Beach Club, which was a short 3.2km drive plus a 3km detour to drop another couple off at Cocoon Beach Club first. Sadly, traffic was so appalling that Friday evening that it took our van nearly two hours to travel 3km. Needless to say, we completely missed our beach sunset that evening.

We ended up abandoning the driver (apologetically) and walking the 1km or so back to the villa. Dinner happened at a rather upmarket (and touristy) Warung near the villa. I found my Nasi Campur Bebek dish a little bit wafty in the duck smell department. But Fatbee’s Nasi Goreng Special (Rp.60,000 not pictured) tasted exactly like the Indonesian-style fried rice he grew up loving – incredibly flavoursome, punchy and smoky.

Bali Revisited, Part 1

Here’s the view that we woke up to the next morning.

Bali Revisited, Part 1

And breakfast was delivered to our villa, this was the first time I’ve ever experienced that!

Bali Revisited, Part 1

Motel Mexicola

Jl. Kayujati No. 9 X, Petitenget Beach
Seminyak, Bali 80361
(0361) 736688
Website

Truth be told, this trip was meant to be a ‘bridging holiday’ – a short holiday to tide us through till our bigger holidays. And hallmark traits of a bridging holiday includes lots of sleeping, cocktails and eating. That’s why pre-lunch cocktails at this Mexican-themed bar had to happen.

Bali Revisited, Part 1Bali Revisited, Part 1

All I can say is… we loved the psychedelic decor!

Bali Revisited, Part 1

Warung Sulawesi

Jl. Petitenget, 200Y
Seminyak, Bali

And then it’s time for lunch!

While Singapore has its kopitiams (coffeeshops), Indonesia has its warungs. And it’s street eats and little family-owned businesses like these that I absolutely ABSOLUTELY love! I made sure Fatbee added this warung to the itinerary when he was planning this trip. The atmosphere was rustic and quiet, as if you’re in an Indonesian family’s courtyard.

Bali Revisited, Part 1
Sambal, papaya leaves, calamari, tempeh, fish otak – Rp.53,000

I made Fatbee line up and pick the dishes for us because I tend to be superbly boring with my dish choice selections, getting familiar items like ayam goreng (deep fried chicken) and sayur lodeh (vegetable curry).

Bali Revisited, Part 1
Teh Botol – Rp.5000

It was a fantastic decision on my part, because Fatbee came back with a plate of utterly unfamiliar but scrumptious dish items. This turned out to be the best meal I had out of the whole trip… the spices and vegetables (especially the papaya leaves) just tasted so different to what I’m used to. We enjoyed this meal with a bottle of our favourite Indonesian tea beverage – teh botol.

Bali Revisited, Part 1

Part of the reason why we decided to stay in Seminyak this time round was the food, and we both thought that Waroeng Sulawesi served a truly authentic Indonesian feed.

Bali Revisited, Part 1
Nyuh Bali Villas – Afternoon Tea

We cabbed back to the villa for a bit of a rest and a dip in the pool. Our stay here also included complimentary afternoon tea delivered to your villa every day. For that afternoon, we chose to snack on these yummy banana fritters.

Bali Revisited, Part 1

Ku De Ta

Jalan Kayu Aya No. 9
Seminyak, Bali 80361
Website

All rested up, we headed off for our cocktail sunset at Bali’s very first beach club – Ku De Ta.

Bali Revisited, Part 1Bali Revisited, Part 1
Watermelon Crush | Coconut Strawberry Daiquiri
Papillon – 120k ea 

We left earlier to make sure we’d get there on time. The place was already pumping at 6pm, but we were fortunate enough to score a table… and a slew of evening cocktails ensued.

Bali Revisited, Part 1

Ku De Ta may be Bali’s first and oldest beach club. It’s smallish, doesn’t have a pool nor does it have dramatic architectural showpieces to impress visitors. All that said, we thought the crowd and music played here was by far the nicest out of all the places we’d visited. The cocktails here were good too and they were priced quite affordably.

Bali Revisited, Part 1

Barbacoa

Jalan Petitenget 14, Kerobokan
Bali 80361
Website

For dinner, we thought it was time for something a little different food-wise, hence this South American food adventure in the heart of Bali. Pictured bottom right is the Argentinian way of roasting meat… ‘asado-style’ over hot coals.

Bali Revisited, Part 1
Local Suckling Pig, Crackle, Green Chimichurri 250

We enjoyed most of the dishes, especially the bocaditos (little bites). However, the centrepiece dish of suckling pig asado fell short of our expectations because some parts of the meat weren’t succulent enough (read: dry) and I was hoping for a more smoky, charcoal-fired flavour.

Bali Revisited, Part 1
Intercontinental Bali Resort, Jimbaran

I’ll end the first instalment of our short getaway to Bali here, with a view of the beach front dining opportunities that one can enjoy in Bali.

I think it’s the good food, affordability and level of service you get here that pulls me back and helps me overlook Bali’s shortcomings… like the insane traffic and chaotic town-planning. The thing about Bali is… there’s probably not many other places in the world where you can get a private villa with pool at such prices!

In the next instalment, we will explore more beach clubs in Seminyak, learn the real way to eat Nasi Padang, and spend a day discovering what Jimbaran Bay has to offer.

Bali Revisited, Part 1 was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind http://fatboo.com/2014/10/two-little-pigs-charcuterie-grind-brunswick.html http://fatboo.com/2014/10/two-little-pigs-charcuterie-grind-brunswick.html#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 23:50:35 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=19562 Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind by Fatboo

Hearty brunch spot in Brunswick specialising in charcuterie platters and pork belly brunch dishes. We had a good meal here.

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind was written by Fatboo.
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Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind by Fatboo

146 Sydney Rd
Brunswick, VIC 3056
03 9939 4042
Facebook Page

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind

I remember being pretty titillated by this cafe’s cute little name. And then once I clued in that they specialise in pork belleh and charcuterie platters, I was even more galvanised about making a visit.

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind

It seems my food-loving compatriots had the same idea in mind. So when Ashley, Fakegf and I decided to have a triple date with our partners one Sunday, all Fakegf had to do was suggest this place and everyone replied with a resounding “OMFG PORK BELLY YESYESYESYES!!!”

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind
PORK BELLY WALDORF $16.90
Roast pork belly, celery, royal gala, granny smith, walnuts, egg yolk mayo, preserved lemon

And that’s how THIS happened. Crispy pork belleh… ROOOOAR!!

I must say I went on a bit of a tangent in terms of brunch dish selection. Despite it still being Winter, that particular day was sunny enough for my body to be fooled into thinking it was Summer, hence this light and crunchy waldorf salad…

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind
Earl Grey Tea $4.00

…paradoxically paired with a pot of tea instead of my usual hit of coffee. Crispy pieces of pork belly aside, the salad still managed to look and taste healthy (with lots of apple). But the portion size was pretty big and I almost could not finish!

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind
SOY CHAI LATTE $4.00 | PEA & HAM $16.50
Crisp roast pork belly, poached free range eggs, green pea veloute served with sourdough toast

Meanwhile, both Fatbee and Fakegf picked the winning dish for the day. The pea veloute was incredibly tasty and it went very well with all the other components. My companions wanted to mop up every last drop of it with their sourdough toast.

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind

I thought this was a perfect dish choice for winter… delicious and comforting. The pork belly had excellent crackling on it, and being just the one slab, it was a lot more succulent than the smaller slices of pork belly that came with my salad.

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind
TWO LITTLE PIGS $19.50
Free range eggs, thick cut bacon, san jose chorizo, duck fat mushrooms, spinach, hashed potatoes, apple chutney

The boys (Brad and The Angmoh) behaved predictably and went with Two Little Pig’s classic big breaky, which I much say should be renamed into “two not-so-little pigs”. That’s a crazy amount of goodness all crammed into that huge plate!

Needless to say, the boys were happy. And they did not skimp on quality either… I had a nibble of bacon from The Angmoh’s plate (he couldn’t finish everything) and it had great flavour.

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind
DUCK FAT FRIES $7.50
Parmesan & tarragon mustard aioli

To help balance out the (omnipotent) presence of all that muuurt, here’s something ‘vegetarian’ that the six of us shared… *koff*. I loved how the fries came hot, flaky and crisp, the parmesan worked wonderfully with it and even the aioli was good.

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind
BUBBLE & SQUEAK $16.50
Poached free range eggs tomato chutney, chickpea fritter of braised beef, caramelised onion, truffle oil & corn kernels

And our final savoury dish was Ashley’s, who picked something slightly less ‘meaty’ with chickpea fritters filled with corn and braised beef.

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind

I kept catching whiffs of truffle oil from her dish wafting across the table to me… it gave me food envy!

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind

By this point, even though we were all suffering from food surfeit, there was one particular dish on the specials board that was too good to pass up. So we decided to share it amongst the six of us.

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & GrindTwo Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind
NUTELLA DOUGHCAKES
w strawberry butterscotch icecream $13.50

Now you understand why? Ha ha!!

And so we learnt that they do sweet brunch dishes here pretty well too. The doughcakes were fluffy and ‘half-baked’ moist, and instead of the nutella being incorporated into the batter, they actually served it as plain doughcakes with hot and melty nutella inside… Perfection!

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind

Sometimes having a brunch spot hit all the high notes with me has its downsides, and that’s because it makes my post come across as unnaturally ‘gushy’. But the truth is what it is: the brunch fare here is good. And seeing that we haven’t sampled the charcuterie platter here, I have a feeling I’ll be back pretty soon.

If you’d like different perspectives, here’s Fakegf and Ashley’s version of events.

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie & Grind was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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K Tarng http://fatboo.com/2014/10/k-tarng-korean-carnegie.html http://fatboo.com/2014/10/k-tarng-korean-carnegie.html#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 06:20:38 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=19703 K Tarng by Fatboo

This quiet restaurant in Carnegie is sister restaurant to Tarng in the CBD. Had a pretty enjoyable Korean hot pot here.

K Tarng was written by Fatboo.
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K Tarng by Fatboo

45 Koornang Rd
Carnegie, VIC 3163
03 9972 9197

K Tarng

This post shows how sometimes a little mishap can be a good thing. Dad and mom can be quite loyal when it comes to dining in Melbourne. Once they like a place, they’d go back again and again… if it’s good, why risk a new place?

That’s how we ended up in Carnegie when they visited this year, where the original intent was a revisit to 7 & 7 Korean Restaurant, a place with good bulgogis and samgyetangs. But when we arrived on a Sunday night, it was shut!

K Tarng

We walked up and down the entire length of Koornang Road and finally settled on this place. And to be honest, I felt a bit of trepidation taking them in here, as I thought concept’s a bit more like a Korean ‘izakaya’ slash chicken-and-beer den… not quite the same cosy family vibe as 7 & 7.

K TarngK Tarng
Raspberry Makkoli $14 | Jinro Soju $13

On the upside, it also meant that we could enjoy a selection of Korean cocktails and sojus with our meal. This would be mom’s first encounter with fruit flavoured makkoli – a light sweetish Korean rice wine. And like me, she liked it!

K TarngK Tarng
Tarng’s Korean Style Fried Chicken (Half) $15
BBQ Baby Octopus & Pork (Spicy) $13.8 

K-Tarng in Carnegie can be thought of as a sister restaurant to Tarng in the CBD. However, the CBD branch specialises in soups and hot pots more while K-Tarng is less soup-focussed (no samgyetang – ginseng chicken soup!) plus it has other types of items on the menu. We basically decided to order things that dad and mom have not really tried before.

We started off with a classic serve of KFC – Korean Fried Chicken, which (to my surprise) dad and mom really liked. Admittedly, it was fresh and crispy with tender insides, but I still tend to prefer the less battered-up Malay and Indonesian style ayam goreng.

Next came a sizzling dish of baby octopus and pork in spicy sauce. I tend to find the spicy sauce used in Korean cuisine quite sweet and generic (all their spicy sauce dishes tends to taste the same and I grow bored quickly). All that said, being new to this style of Korean dish, dad and mom once again enjoyed it.

K Tarng
Soft Tofu Hot Pot w Pork 28

Our final dish was a beautiful serve of kimchi stew-like hot pot with tofu and pork. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for Korean Fried Chicken and spicy sauces (as evidenced from the previous two dishes), I’m very fond of Korean hot pots. So needless to say, I liked this dish as much as my folks did. It was spicy, bubbling hot and with many pieces of soft silken tofu. Such a nice and comforting dish to have for that cold evening when we dined there.

K Tarng

Overall, the quality of cooking here can’t be faulted, it’s just the style of cooking (KFCs and spicy sauces) that I personally haven’t quite grown to like. And the only reason why I’m less likely to come back here is because the menu contains the types of dishes that I normally wouldn’t go for.

All the same, I’m glad that 7 & 7 wasn’t open that evening, because this ‘accidental’ meal at K-Tarng ended up proving to me that my dad and mom aren’t as set-in-their-ways as I thought they were. And come to think of it, judging by the ‘doom and gloom’ manner in which I’ve been describing the non-soup dishes here, I’m probably more fussy than them!

K Tarng

K Tarng was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review http://fatboo.com/2014/10/thai-airways-royal-silk-class-a380-business.html http://fatboo.com/2014/10/thai-airways-royal-silk-class-a380-business.html#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 07:25:44 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=19723 Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review by Fatboo

Flight report for Thai Airways Royal Silk (Business) Class on the Airbus A380 (from Paris to Bangkok). Includes comparisons against first class.

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review was written by Fatboo.
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Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review by Fatboo

Thai Airways A380-800 | Royal Silk Class (Business)
Paris to Bangkok |  TG 931 | Oct 2013

This flight report covers the return journey from my France trip with dad and mom. It’s part of a carefully orchestrated partner airline award booking using (painstakingly) purchased points from a mileage program.

With those points, I flew business class on Thai Airways from Melbourne to Bangkok and met up with dad and mom there (they flew from Singapore on SQ’s business class). From Bangkok, the three of us flew to Paris together in Thai Airways First Class on the A380 – one of the most memorable flying experiences I’ve ever had.

Sadly, I could not find three seats in first class on our return flight (only two were available), so we decided to stick together and fly back in business class, which was a good thing anyway because we wanted to see Thai’s A380 business class product as a point of comparison to our first class experience.

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review
Charles de Gaulle Airport (during taxi)

I think award bookings are fantastic if you have the foresight to plan and book the flights waaaay ahead of time when there’s still space availability. For this trip, I booked 10 months ahead after spending a whole year purchasing the points whilst praying that the mileage program doesn’t devalue. Overall, I spent a grand total of A$2915 flying myself from MEL-BKK-CDG return, while I spent A$2120 pax to fly my parents from SIN-BKK-CDG return… which is a insanely good value!

Like many of us, as a middle-income earner there’s NO WAY I’d fork out many thousands extra just to fly in a premium cabin, so our flights for this particular holiday can be pretty much considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience. At the time of writing, I’ve relegated myself back to economy class for all of my holidays since that trip, and whoa my goodness am I feeling the difference now.

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review

Here’s the Thai A380 upper deck seat map that we’d found at the airport’s check-in section. On our previous first class flight, we sat right at the nose of the plane in seats 1A 1E 1F. This time, we’re in the (Royal Silk Class) business cabin further back, in seats 17A 17E 17F.

I’m showing you this picture to illustrate how the business class seating configuration (in purple) is construed in a staggered fashion, which is important when you’re choosing your seats. I made sure I had a personal seat that’s against the window (17A) instead of against the aisle, and I made sure that dad and mom had the ‘honeymoon seats’ (17E 17F).

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review
Star Alliance Lounge (Charles de Gaulle Airport – Paris)

After check-in, we had enough time to enjoy to the Star Alliance Lounge (business class edition). It wasn’t that much to shout about, mainly because Paris isn’t a Star Alliance hub… but at least it wasn’t busy and there were reasonably comfy sofas for you to rest at with lots power points available to charge up your devices.

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review

Boarding was a breeze, and we soon found ourselves in the A380’s business class cabin. On the approach, we first noticed how HUGE a cabin it is with 60 business class seats. It’s a distinctly different feel to the exclusivity of the 12-seat first class cabin. But I suppose that’s expected from such a large airplane.

On the upside, I quite liked the staggered 1-2-1 layout. It may look a little bit messy, but it affords you with a good amount of privacy in most seats whether you’re travelling singly or as a couple. And there’s the added comfort of direct aisle access for everyone.

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class ReviewThai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review

Dad and mum were seated in the middle of the plane in their ‘honeymoon’ booth. The rows in this section are staggered together and apart to accommodate single and couple passengers.

Of course, the 20 inch wide seats here felt a bit more squeezy than the 26.5 inch wide seats in first class. All that said, dad and mom actually enjoyed this seating configuration better than what they’d experienced in first because it really felt like you’re in your own private little ‘capsule’ when you’re in the honeymoon seats.

During mid-flight, I tried sitting in there and it did feel very secluded and cosy indeed! By comparison, there’s this thick divider between mom and dad’s seats when we flew first class on Thai’s A380, making it feel less personal.

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review

Here’s my window seat. The seats in this column are staggered such that one seat is against the window (with the side table separating you from the aisle) whilst the next one is against the aisle (with the side table next to the window). I picked one against the window as the little partition table next to me helped afford some added privacy from the aisle traffic.

The seat pitch (distance between the back of the seat in front of you and the back of your own seat) is 74 inches (83 inches in first), but the staggered configuration means you will have added legroom because your legs pretty much extend into the underneath of the side table section of the passenger in front of you.

I’m also happy to say that these business class seats can flatten into a full 180º flat bed, which I later on took full advantage of during our 12 hour flight. Of course, it wasn’t quite as plush as having your ‘bed’ all cozied up with a futon and duck down quilt in first class, but I was still very happy to be able to sleep flat whilst flying. I did find that I couldn’t splay around the ‘bed’ with as much abandon here as compared to the wider flat beds in first. Haha… yes I’m a rather fidgety sleeper.

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class ReviewThai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review

The TV screen in business class is 15 inches wide, as compared to 23 inches in first class and 10.6 inches in economy. And here’s one of the things I like about sitting in the upper deck of the A380… your hand luggage, unwanted pillows, blankets and accessories can be stowed into the little cabinets next to the window. So they’re out of sight but within easy reach. No need to get up and open the luggage compartment above you.

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review
Chicken Satay | Salmon with Dill Cream Sauce, Mixed Salad
Salmon Chu-chee Curry | Cheese Platter + Cake

Lunch was a leisurely (and now all-too-familiar) five course affair featuring an obscene amount of food laid on white tablecloths. And once again, I found myself enjoying the starters and entrees more than the actual mains and dessert. And also once again, I maintain my stance that airplane food remains pretty ordinary regardless of the class of travel because everything is pre-cooked on the ground and then reheated in the air. Even when we were in first class, only the caviar starter was great, but everything else went downhill after that… ha ha!

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review

After our meal, the lights were dimmed as everyone settled into their seats (and beds) to rest, sleep and relax.

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review

Breakfast was served an hour or so before we landed in Bangkok (at 5.55am). I enjoyed having some fresh fruits to start with (to go with the yoghurt, pastries, juice and coffee/tea) before the hot main dish arrived.

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review

And the experience ended all too soon, with us arriving safely in Bangkok. There was a sense of pensiveness as we departed the aircraft, as that was the end of this epic long-haul leg of our premium cabin experience as a family. But on the bright side, we still had our flight from Bangkok to Singapore (in Singapore Airlines business class) to look forward to, not to mention my flight back to Melbourne.

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (viewed from Silverkris Business Class Lounge)

I apologise for being less comprehensive with my photos for this flight report. This was the end of our 3 week trip in France and I was at that point where I was less excited about being overly trigger happy, with more focus on just taking it easy and enjoying my flight. All that said, I now think I’ll want to be more detailed with my flight reports should I ever travel premium class again!

Overall, I think travelling in business and first class appeals to each of us for different reasons. Fatbee loves the priority check-in, bag tags, boarding and lounge access… while I get a lot more excited about the fact that I can have a flat bed in the sky and loads of legroom to boot. The noticeable absence of noisy children and crying babies is a big big plus for me as well. And of course there’s this palpable feeling of exclusivity as you breeze past the snaking economy queue as you’re boarding.

I’m not in a career that requires me to travel for business (with its concomitant stacking of frequent flyer miles). So I’m now back to travelling in the squeezy confines of economy, whilst slowly accumulating points in a few frequent flyer programs (via flights and credit card spend) for my next putative award booking in the future. I admit it’s a pretty frustrating experience travelling in economy now that I’ve had a taste of the more ‘spacious’ side of things, but hey… it’ll make my next premium cabin experience all that much sweeter no??  =)

Here are my other flight reports for this trip:

Thai Airways Business Class Boeing 777 MEL-BKK (Shell seats with 167º recline)
Thai Airways First Class A380 BKK-CDG (Full Flat Bed)
Singapore Airlines Business Class A330 BKK-SIN-MEL (Angled Flat)

Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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Jinda Thai Restaurant http://fatboo.com/2014/10/jinda-thai-abbotsford.html http://fatboo.com/2014/10/jinda-thai-abbotsford.html#comments Sun, 05 Oct 2014 08:50:12 +0000 http://fatboo.com/?p=19691 Jinda Thai Restaurant by Fatboo

Thai restaurant in Richmond with a huge menu of traditional dishes. I thought the flavours were a bit mild, but enjoyed the boat noodles here.

Jinda Thai Restaurant was written by Fatboo.
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Jinda Thai Restaurant by Fatboo

3-7 Ferguson St
Abbotsford, VIC 3067
03 9419 5899
Facebook Page

Jinda Thai Restaurant

My meal at Jinda reminds me of how transient your circle of friends in Melbourne can sometimes be. This little gathering happened because a friend of mine, Mel, had finished her studies here. This was to be her farewell with our group before her onward journey back to Singapore.

Jinda Thai RestaurantJinda Thai Restaurant
Cha Yen – famous iced milk tea $3 | Jinda’s Brown Rice $3.50

With high accolades coming from the foodie community, I actually did make a previous attempt to dine here months ago, but did not score a table. So this time round, we had the foresight to book ahead!

That’s how eight friends ended up spending an evening here… chatting for hours, and overordering plates and plates of food.

Jinda Thai Restaurant
Thai Fish Cake 5pcs/serve $7.90 | Som Tum Soft Shell Crab $12.90

We started off with the usual suspects for starters. First with a delightfully fragranced house made Thai fish cake. Then with a rather insipid soft shell crab papaya salad that featured no spicy kick at all.

Jinda Thai Restaurant
Nam Tok – classic Thai salad dish w grilled pork neck $12.90
Son in Law’s – crispy boiled eggs, tamarind sauce, dried shallots, chilli & coriander $11.90 

Going forward with the lighter selections, our next two dishes were pretty good, with the grilled pork neck salad coming out as the winner in terms of punchy (albeit non-spicy) flavours with succulent pieces of pork neck.

All that said, I personally thought the son-in-law eggs were on the sweet side (because of the sweetish tamarind sauce) and I wasn’t all that impressed by the ring of greenish tinge around the yolk – a sign of overcooking.

Jinda Thai Restaurant
Red Curry Roasted Duck $15.90 | Green Curry Chicken $14.90

Moving forwards towards the larger eats, the two curries that we ordered did not really hit the mark. Like most of the Thai curries I’ve seen served in Melbourne, they were mild, creamy, sweetish and not spicy. It’s a flavour profile that the majority of locals here enjoy, but if you’ve been to Thailand and had the curries there, you’re more likely to be disappointed.

Jinda Thai RestaurantNam Jim $25.90
Deep fried fish roasted grounded rice, tamarind sauce, dry chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar

I had no complaints with the deep fried fish here though, it came perfectly crispy and the dipping sauce was good.

Jinda Thai Restaurant
Pad Pug Tofu – Asian stir fried mix vegetables & tofu $14.90
Tom Sab –  spicy clear soup w herbs & lots of dried chilli w soft pork bones $15.90

To help assuage our feelings of surfeit and guilt, we had a serve of stir-fried tofu with vegetables. I was also curious to try out the tom sab here, which came nice and spicy but did not have the same depth of ‘meatiness’ in the pork broth as Tom Toon Thai Noodle Cafe’s version from around the corner.

Jinda Thai Restaurant
Boat Noodle – aromatic beef based soup with your choice of beef or pork $9.00

Our final dish for the night was a curiosity bowl of the much-acclaimed boat noodles here, which I thought was pretty good. The rich broth boasted a nice and deeply-beefy flavour profile with warming hints of herbs.

Jinda Thai RestaurantJinda Thai Restaurant
Crepe Cakes – w coconut ice cream (Thai Milk Tea) $8.50 

We ended the night with serves and serves of crepe cakes, one of the main reasons why I wanted to dine here.

Jinda Thai Restaurant
Taro | Pandan
Matcha | Coconut 

Between the eight of us, we sampled each and every flavour on offer here, with my favourite being the pandan… and then Thai milk tea coming in at a close second. I also really liked the coconut ice cream that came with it, it had a slightly coarser texture (like a sorbet) but contained chunks of fresh coconut in it. All that said, I thought that the texture of the cake itself could’ve been softer… perhaps because it came straight from the chiller.

Jinda Thai Restaurant

The company I had here was great… we stayed behind and chatted waaay into the night. But in terms of the food, I personally think it’s good quality but somewhat lacking in punchiness. And seeing that I enjoyed the boat noodles, I think the next time I’m back here I’m more likely to order from the one-dish-meal section as opposed to the larger share plates.

My other quibble here is this recent trend in Melbourne where diners are seated at small and narrow tables crammed with cutlery, plates and cups. We actually ran out of table space because the dishes came out very quickly. Small tables at brunch spots are fine because each customer usually orders one dish. But for a share plate focussed place, a table of 8 should be given a larger or wider table, especially when we actually booked ahead.

Jinda Thai Restaurant

Jinda Thai Restaurant was written by Fatboo.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to discover more at Let's Get Fat Together.

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