Aussie Story @ Sibu Bus Terminal

aussie story sibu

Aussie Story is new – very, very new. It has only been open for 4 days and we went on the fourth day of their operations. No newspaper advertising, no Facebook/Twitter/Instagram page, just pure old school word-of-mouth accompanied their soft launch and it’s been packed every single night ever since they opened their doors!

The congratulatory wreaths that celebrated the launch were still fresh! We didn’t know about the place, we chanced upon the restaurant by accident and decided to go in and take a peek at the menu. It’s a very nice place – you can say that the warm, soft-incandescent lit interior called out to us on a rainy day. smirk

aussie story restaurant

The place is a joint venture between two friends who’ve been classmates since their school days. Fredrick Wong is the barista and he’s in charge of the front-of-house while his partner Johnny Yong is the head chef and manages the back-of-house. I think this division of labor suits their personalities well, according to the long conversations we had with the both of them.

Aussie Story is still in the soft-launch stage so a lot of the items on their menu is unavailable, like the pita bread that I was interested in. Thus, we asked for recommendations and got:

Toasted French Loaf with Cheesy Egg Salad (RM 7.50)

toasted french loaf

This is the appetizer that Johnny the chef suggested. He almost insisted on it, so Arthur and I ordered it to see what the fuss is all about. It’s a baguette that’s been sliced and covered with melted cheese, finely chopped cubes of hard-boiled eggs, and an acidic element (the chef hinted it was based on the Thousand Island dressing).

However, it came out so fast I could see that only 2 of the 3 pieces had been browned properly. I don’t mind the chewy texture of the bread but I think it could have been on the oven/toaster/grill for a couple of minutes more so the Maillard reaction and caramelization would have been more even.

I thought I would dislike this pale looking appetizer but I thought it was delicious! The cheese and mayo works very well together and you can still taste and feel the texture of the tiny cubes of hard boiled eggs in the topping. There’s also a sour note which really made the dish!

The flavors works very well together and we both enjoyed it very much.

Irish Stewed Lamb Shank (RM 38)

irish lamb shank

I was surprised when this came out almost after the appetizer. It has barely been 5 minutes since we placed our order! The lamb shank is slightly smaller than the ones that I’m used to seeing but it tasted alright. The meat fell off the bone when picked at with a fork – a sign that it’s been slow-cooked to perfection.

I also liked how they left the cartilage on the top of the shank – the best part of ordering the lamb shank, I reckon. The mashed potatoes were good and I really liked their purple cabbage coleslaw.

However, one minor quibble I had was about the sauce – it was pretty evident that the gravy that came with the lamb shank isn’t the same reduced gravy that the lamb shank was cooked in – it tasted too watery, as if the gravy was sourced from generic stock and poured over the dish instead of the actual reduction from the lamb shank pot.

British style Fish & Chips (RM 15)

british fish chips

The fish and chips were made with good fish and the batter was seasoned well. It’s great value for the price too, since you get a huge fillet of fish (which is not the 50% filler, 50% fish abomination that’s been passed off as Dory fillets – they use proper fish fillets here).

The dipping sauce keeps up with the times too! They don’t use tartare sauce (despite what it states on the menu), it’s a pet peeve of mine when F&B outlets do, it’s so 90′s school canteen and it’s usually used to cover the taste of bad fish. Restaurants have found better combinations to go with good catches now and the last time I remember having tartare sauce was during my high school in Christchurch, NZ when the school canteen would serve fish sandwiches slathered with tartare sauce.

I’m sure I’ve had tartare sauce in bad local fish and chip outlets since but if I had, it wasn’t memorable enough to remember.

aussie story fish

Aussie Story uses a mayo based egg infused dip which I thought was very nice. It reminded me slightly of the dill aioli I had in CREST Café, Birubi Beach recently.

I think it’s actually the *same sauce* that goes on top of the baguette appetizer, but without the acidic component. The purple cabbage coleslaw is also the same as the one served in the lamb shank. Overall, I quite liked the dish.

white chocolate
White Chocolate Drink (RM 6.50)

I think it’s smart of them to incorporate similar and reusable things across dishes to minimize prep time. Fredrick and Johnny recounted the first day they opened and the trials of having to serve a full house, and having to comp a lot of tables since they couldn’t keep up with the pace of service.

One minor feedback that I have is that the appetizers and the main courses all came out at the same time – there’s no time for us to savor the appetizers and then wait for the main courses to arrive. Everything just came out almost immediately, it was so fast it made me slightly dubious on how they can cook everything to order.

CoffeX Bristot

Fredrick did address this when I raised my concerns though – it seems that Sibu people like having all their dishes on the table at the same time so they can share it. There’s no concept of waiting for a 3-course dinner here and I have to agree with him. It’s not Aussie Story’s fault, it’s the culture here and they have to accommodate for it lest people complain about their food not arriving promptly.

The service is impeccable and they really want to learn – we were solicited on our views of every dish. I told the owners that I was very impressed that the head chef and the front-of-house manager would take the time to go to every table and talk to the patrons about the food. We got all our drinks comped by Fredrick so the bill only came out to a discounted RM 60 for the food.

I would highly recommend this place due to the service – their PR is second to none and their food is pretty good overall. It’s up there with places like Tom’s Too but the service here is spectacular. It’s their passion after all, and I went back Saturday night with my dad to try and get a table, but the place was totally full.

aussie story

I really enjoyed the ambiance of the place and it’s the best service I’ve ever had in Sibu – totally customer oriented. Fredrick insisted on serving us coffee (they use CoffeX and Bristot) on the house when I asked to pay the bill too – which is a nice touch. There is a reason why the restaurant is called Aussie Story but I’ll let Fredrick tell the tale since it sounds more passionate coming from him – it is, after all, his story. :)

Aussie Story
Sibu Bus Terminal
(opposite 3° Celsius)

Borneo Cultural Festival 2014

borneo cultural festival

The Borneo Cultural Festival is back! BCF 2014 is the latest iteration of this Sibu festival celebrating local Dayak/Iban and other native cultures. It’s our version of Kuching Festival and there’s a similar emphasis on food! The last time I went was when I was working here, during Borneo Cultural Festival 2008.

sellers

I went with my dad for the last two days and the layout is similar, with sections for Dayak cuisine, Malay cooking and Chinese food. I first wrote about Borneo Cultural Festival in 2003 when my blog was just over a year old (they had a beauty pageant for Miss Malaysian Chinese that year) and went again for BCF 2006 – check out the Borneo Cultural Festival category for full coverage!

bcf2014

Here is my photoblog for BCF 2014:

ayam pansoh

Ayam Pansuh is a Sarawakian dish that uses bamboo to cook chicken. The meat is stuffed into the tube with tapioca leaves and some water before being cooked over a charcoal fire. The bamboo is then cracked open and the water becomes the stock of this chicken dish. You can eat the tapioca leaves too!

beancurd sheet

This is a piece of tofu skin that’s been dipped in *real fish batter* before being deep fried. I’ve never quite had something like this before. It’s made of soybeans – basically a bean curd sheet that’s rehydrated and coated with fish. My dad loved it.

satay

12 different types of satay! There’s chicken skin, chicken heart, chicken liver, rabbit, beef, lamb, cockles, ostrich, and many other unusual proteins on skewers. No pork satay here though coz this is a halal stall. However, my favorite guilty pleasure is here in abundance – grilled chicken skin actually tastes wonderful, but you can’t eat too much of it or you’ll get sick of the ultra rich fat.

wife biscuits

Wife Cake comes in many different variants here. Besides the traditional lao por peng, there’s also “Husband Biscuits” (Biskut Suami) which uses star anise as a filling.

pulut panggang

Pulut Panggang makes an authentic appearance too! It’s glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves that’s been grilled over a charcoal BBQ, giving it the distinctive smoked flavor. I bought several of the beef and chicken filled ones and it was good.

potato twisters

I got potato twisters as well – a staple fair food. It’s a whole potato that’s been cut into spirals and this version uses a sweet batter to coat it before it’s deep fried and slathered with mayo and chilli sauce.

bcf2014 me

Awesome stuff.

ice cream cone

This is a very diluted soft serve ice cream cone. It’s a mix of chocolate and vanilla but it tastes horrible – akin to a penny pinching coffee shop being miserly with the cocoa powder. smirk

chess competition

Chinese chess competition that’s open to the public. It was played on one of the smaller stages in a tournament format.

best pavilion

This particular booth got Best of Show. The Chinese pavilions are usually very well decorated compared to the sparse Malay booths.

pavilions

Here’s another example.

chinese culture art

These pavilions are usually made by clan associations e.g. Heng Hua, Foochow etc but some of them are owned by more general groups like the Chinese Culture & Art Appreciation societies…

gula melaka puffs

…and they have the manpower from clan membership working inside too!

clan pavilions

The Chinese pavilions line the side facing the main road so it’s beautiful when you look in that way – the lights, the glitter, the jazz! (or rather, er-hu ;))

taiwanese food

There’s also a huge Taiwanese food trend in the stalls this year.

bcf

Music, dance and cultural performances are constantly done on the main stage – it’s also a major attraction besides the food.

sugar machine

Sugar twill machine that makes candy on a stick with CAD printing that you can choose – anything from your Chinese Zodiac (Rooster, Dragon, Snake etc) to intellectual property (Doraemon, Hello Kitty and the Disney character lineup). It’s very popular with kids.

sugar twill

(and the young-at-heart)

sibu pasar malam

The Sibu Pasar Malam Association also has a booth selling traditional night market fare.

UniqBun

Gardenia, Massimo and other commercial large-scale baking and distribution operations in KL don’t sell their RM 0.80 ready-to-eat cream filled buns here, so people often buy them in bulk at LCCT/KLIA2 before flying back. There’s now a Sibu company doing it – UniqBun.

cook-to-order

This is my favorite food of the Borneo Cultural Festival 2014. I award it my personal blue ribbon. ;) I even went back the next day with my dad to get some more. It’s cooked-to-order palm sugar balls filled with glutinous rice (pulut). It puffs into a ball when it’s deep fried and it’s a sweet treat at RM 1 each.

palm sugar balls

You just can’t argue with piping hot, deep-fried sweet balls of caramelized airy dough.

dabai sarawak

Oh, and it’s dabai season again! I like how this stall had samplers that has been blanched and marinated in soy sauce and sugar (the traditional way of preparing it). You can only get these in Sarawak. It’s called okana (black olives) but it’s not technically in the olive family. A delicious, seasonal local delicacy.

cultural performance

I quite enjoyed going to this year’s Borneo Cultural Festival with my dad. It didn’t run for a while due to politics but now that it’s back, I hope it’ll be an annual event. It wasn’t very packed on the last day due to the rain and some of the food items sells out fast since it starts at 5 pm but it’s a lot of fun!

food stalls

More importantly, BCF 2014 is a festival we can call our own! :)

RM 16 bowl of Heng Hua Spicy Assam Tom Yam Fish Noodles

henghua assam tom yam noodles

There are a lot of fish and prawn noodles in town but none quite like this. The most (in)famous one would be the RM 35 bowl of fish noodles from Min Kwong. There’s also a RM 15 bowl of prawn noodles in the small and hilariously named town of Jakar. However, the closest tasting one would be the justifiably popular RM 14 bowl of Asam Tom Yam Big Prawn Noodles in Glory Cafe, Sarikei.

It was my dad who suggested this place for dinner. He’s a Heng Hua and this is a Heng Hua owned coffee shop, and since it’s a small community, we might be somewhat related. smirk

sieng hing cafe

The first question the lady asked me when I ordered this RM 16 bowl of goodness is whether I can eat spicy food. I replied in the affirmative, taking pride in my cast iron stomach (and tongue) and the chilli flakes in the broth gave me the sniffles and nearly drove me to tears…in a good way.

I asked why they use a thick kind of rice vermicelli noodles called hung ang in the local dialect and it’s coz that’s the best pairing for the dish. The thick but short noodles doesn’t clump together and unlike wheat based noodles, the rice vermicelli noodles is the perfect vehicle for *transporting the broth* to your palate.

henghua assam rice vermicelli

There’s a lot of space between the rice vermicelli – you can’t really pick them up with chopsticks without large gaps – so the spicy asam tom yam broth gets into the crevices and it allows the full flavor impact to hit you.

cat
Resident cat approves of this nomz!

The fish is a mixture of tapah and patin and there’s easily 3-4 times the amount in the regular Foochow twice cooked noodles I had for RM 14 at Y2K Cafe. There’s also generous amounts of lemongrass, egg, tomatoes, chilli flakes, baby corn, fungus and a special type of pickled salted vegetable in the asam tom yam soup.

assam tom yam noodles

It left me sweating but very satisfied when I finished the dish. They also sell a large prawn version for RM 26. The generous amounts of fish and the ultra spicy broth made the Sieng Hing Cafe fish noodles one of the best gastronomic finds in Sibu. It’s perfect if you have a blocked nose since the spice will clear up your sinuses in no time! :)

3 uniquely Sibu dishes

I’m back in my hometown, eating delicious food you can really only get here – at least, if you want the authentic stuff! :)

1. Char Kueh Tiaw Omelet

CKT omelet

Yeah, that’s what I’m calling it! It has been around for over 40 years (no kidding) and this particular way of cooking it is a Sibu institution. I first ate it as a kid in Kwok Ching Coffee Shop (now defunct) and this is the son carrying on the legacy, cooking it the exact same way.

How do you get char kueh tiaw into an omelet? The CKT is cooked first and even though it’s a simple dish – spring onion and bean sprouts are the only ingredients – it tastes superb in its simplicity.

kueh tiaw omelet

The CKT is dropped on a cracked egg on a hot wok, flipped and served. This technique has been copied by many other cooks in Sibu but there is only one heir of the original and he does it best! This stall is located at Aloha Cafe and it’s only RM 3.30.

2. Twice Cooked Tapah Fish Noodles

foochow fish noodles

There are RM 35 bowls of this stuff out there. I had that with my better half when we came back last time at Min Kwong. I can’t justify eating that all the time so this is an equally good (if not better) version from Y2K Cafe. It’s RM 12 and is cooked in the traditional Foochow style – the noodles are first *fried* before being *stewed* in a hearty soup.

tapah fish

That means you get both the Maillard reaction and caramelization on the noodles from frying in the fiery hot wok, making it taste wonderful, before it’s softened in the rich seafood broth. Infinitely satisfying, and a local classic. You can drink the wonderfully tasty soup after you’ve finished your noodles too – it’s full of flavor!

3. Kampua Mee with Pork Tripe and Pig Liver Soup

kampua noodles

Yup, this is our famous kampua noodles. I always like to add a bowl of pig liver soup to my order (RM 4) coz it makes the noodles taste even better with that rich, mineral-y taste that liver has. I also like pork tripe soup (RM 5) coz of the chewy texture and the acidic dipping sauce it comes in.

pork liver soup

It’s a perfect side dish(es) for kampua noodles – the offal works very well with the slices of BBQ pork in the noodle dish and I always love drinking the soup after I’m done – alternating between the clear pork tripe soup and the dark iron-y pig liver soup with tendrils of liver. It’s always the *first* thing I eat when I come back and this one was at Yum Yum Cafe.

How to make a tea bag rocket

This is a perfectly safe and *fun* indoor science activity for kids (and the young at heart, like me). smirk The teabag rocket works due to the principles of thermodynamics – you can read up on the science behind how it works if you’re so inclined, but basically it’s a regular tea bag which achieves lift-off and flies off suddenly like a rocket when lit.

It’s a lot of fun and the kids really loved it! I wanted to show this to the little girls and their cousins were there during the weekend too, which makes it all the merrier. I can see that they enjoyed the show. I got them to catch the expired tea bag rocket too, which is surprisingly intact, like a discarded snake skin.

You just need tea bags, a pair of scissors and a lighter!

Instructions:

cut teabag

1. Cut the tea bag at the very top so that the tag/staples are removed

empty teabag

2. Pour out the tea leaves

lighting

3. Use your fingers to make the tea bag into a square tower and light the top

teabag rocket

4. The tea bag will burn down to the end and suddenly take off like a rocket

Pro tip: Make sure that you’re indoors, turn off your fan and close any open windows to prevent a draft from blowing the tea bag rocket over.

I’ve wanted to show this to the kids for a long time. It’s a lot of fun if you have young kids. I like to think of interesting things to do which will entertain them and make them laugh – it reminds me of the projects my late mom did with when I was their age, like growing sugar crystals.

It instils curiosity and makes for a fun interlude during the weekend – although my poor dear had to clean up after us coz the tea bag rockets produces a lot of ash! :)

Dinner by Michelin Star Le Gavroche’s Chef Alexy Fuchs Malaysian visit

michelin star

It’s Chef Alexy Fuchs first visit to Malaysia and I booked a table for two on Saturday night at Mezze Bistro in KL, where he will be cooking for a week. I wanted to buy my better half a good dinner experience – it’s been a while since our last 2 Michelin star meal at Le Relais Louis XIII in Paris earlier this year and I thought it’ll make a nice dinner date.

michelin star kl

He came over to Malaysia to collaborate with the resident head chef of Mezze Bistro, Yves Pierre Renou, to showcase the cuisine from their home in Alsace, France. There is a similarly named restaurant in London by Michel Roux Jr. with Two Michelin Star dining. This Le Gavroche is located in Strasbourg, France and is helmed by the husband-and-wife team of Nathalie and Benoit Fuchs.

bread basket

Le Gavroche is a One Michelin Star establishment and Alexy Fuchs is their son and chef. I was really keen to check out the food since he is hand carrying a lot of French produce during his flight over so it’s an awesome chance to experience a Michelin star restaurant chef cooking in Malaysia.

Amuse-bouche

Roquette Gazpacho with Fromage Blanc and Endives / Beetroot Discs with Whipped Goat’s Cheese

Roquette Gazpacho

I really like this amuse-bouche. It’s an arugula gazpacho served in a cocktail glass, which I thought sounded really promising for the rest of the night. My better half was a little dubious about how rocket can work, considering the bitter taste of the leaves. It’s blended with fromage blanc (literally white cheese) which works very well in cutting down the sheer bitterness of the greens.

beetroot disc

I also enjoyed the little discs of beetroot that produced a nice little crunch with the creamy topping of goat’s cheese. The two goes very well together – the Alsace vinegar in the gazpacho balances the flavors in this two-component amuse-bouche.

Entrées

Seared Foie Gras with Roasted Peanuts (RM 85)

foie gras

This is foie gras that Chef Alexy Fuchs personally hand carried all the way from France. I couldn’t tell if it was duck or goose foie gras and even experts like Daguin have difficulties telling the difference unless they’re both plated side by side. We have been to France and both are called foie gras in France – foie gras de canard for duck foie gras and foie gras d’oie for goose foie gras. It should be noted that 80% of foie gras produced in France is now duck foie gras.

However, I was told that this is goose foie gras – the real deal – and I don’t doubt it. The lightly seared generous slices of foie gras is rich, silky, buttery and melt in your mouth. It’s rich and it’s fatty – the contrast between the browned crust and barely solid center is divine! It’s almost disappears on your tongue into creamy goodness as soon as you pop it in your mouth.

My dear chose this starter since I’ll have my own foie gras in the very classic French dish Tournedos Rossini as my main. I have eaten a lot of foie gras preparations – from pate to mi-cuit and all the way up to whole foie gras and I have to say that this rates as one of the better ones that I’ve had.

It’s no coincidence that Alsace is one of France’s great foie gras producing areas. Chef Alexy Fuchs flew in from that region, bringing the Alsatian foie gras in, so I’m glad we ate it! The apricots at the bottom of the dish went really well with the flavors of the pan-fried foie gras.

Monkfish Carpaccio with Fresh Herbs & Candied Lemon Marmalade (RM 64)

monkfish carpaccio

I love monkfish and I love raw monkfish even better! It has to really fresh to serve as a carpaccio instead of a ceviche. This is a dish I am 100% certain that Chef Alexy Fuchs prepared himself coz I walked into the kitchen while he was slicing the monkfish.

This is my entrée and I really enjoyed it. I saw that everyone else at the fully packed dinner service ordered the foie gras (probably coz proper foie gras isn’t very common here) but I was very happy with my monkfish carpaccio. I asked my better half to eat this before her starter coz the flavors are much milder and she gave her nod of approval too.

I actually preferred my monkfish carpaccio – the wonderfully intense citrus flavors in the marmalade dotted all over the plate makes it a joy to spear a few slivers of monkfish to smear on the candied lemon before letting the taste combination hit my tongue. It’s wonderfully balanced and a great entrée to my heavier main.

Mains

Beef Tournedos, seared foie gras, paired with summer vegetables confit & veal reduction (RM 160)

Tournedos Rossini

Beef Tournedos is an extremely classic French steak dish. Tournedos Rossini usually consists of a good filet mignon topped with a slice of fresh whole pan-fried foie gras. It’s the most expensive item on the menu but it’s something I wanted to order as soon as I saw it since I’ve had it before and it was awesome!

beef tournadoes

This rendition didn’t disappoint – the steak was cooked perfectly medium rare, with a nice and pink interior. It’s also very juicy and even my better half, who isn’t a huge fan of beef, enjoyed a bite from my mains. I like how the foie gras is placed over the dish – the buttery and silky pan-fried liver almost acts like a sauce when you slice a bit of it to go with a chunk of prime filet mignon.

I liked the mini vegetables garnishing the plate too, but the hero of the dish is hands-down the well cooked steak with a decadent slice of foie gras on top.

Pan-fried Turbot, served with bouillabaise, fennel and toast (RM 128)

turbot

This is my better half’s order. The turbot is excellent – moist and delicious! I like how it’s stacked on top of toast too. I felt the flavors worked very well and I only have one bone to pick (pun intended) – there’s cartilage left on the fish!

That’s usually an unforgivable sin in haute cuisine.

panfried turbot

I got it on my first bite when my dear cut some turbot for me to eat and had to gracefully spit it out on my napkin. She didn’t get any cartilage in the next few bites but caught some on the last bite. I felt that the prep cooks should have done a better job at this – it’s not bones at least, but it detracts from the overall enjoyment of the meal.

Quail stuffed with Crayfish, served with Potato Puree and Crayfish Coulis (RM 98)

quail crayfish

I decided to order ANOTHER main to share! It’s not everyday we go out for a romantic dinner with a chef from a Michelin star restaurant cooking so I thought it’ll be nice to stuff ourselves…and it was the best decision I ever made!

The quail is absolutely fabulous!

There’s no other word that does it justice. It’s our favorite dish of the night! The quail is deboned and seasoned to perfection (it’s really hard to get those small bones, trust me) and cooked just right. Overcooked quail is really inedible – check out the ignorant and lazy street vendors butchering the small bird at Pasar Ramadan and you might think quail is a tough, dry little bird. Wrong!

crayfish stuffed quail

It’s succulent and moist and I was pleased to see that it was still pink in the center. The crayfish stuffing was to die for – simply delectable. There’s a VERY generous amount of Rhine River crayfish inside the quail. Magnifique! Everything in the dish works well, from the mashed potatoes to the little crayfish for you to suck the head juices out of and everything is on the plate for a reason – to rock your world!

It certainly made our night! Best dish ever, compliments to the chef.

Desserts

Passionfruit Pannacotta (RM 22)

passionfruit pannacotta

This is my better half’s choice since she really enjoys eating panna cotta. There’s an intensely acidic passionfruit puree inside, which really wakes you up like nothing else! I felt that the two goes very well together and we both enjoyed this dessert – the panna cotta was just the right consistency too!

There’s also a quill of grilled pineapple that acts as a garnish which surprisingly tastes really yummy too!

It’s turns out that no one else ordered dessert around us – we were the only ones, which is a bit of a shame, considering it’s priced pretty well.

Pineapple & Mango Streusel with Coconut Sorbet (RM 35)

chocolate macaroon

This is actually written wrong on the menu. I was confused when the dish came to me. I asked the waitress if she got the order wrong and Ling Ang came over to tell me that it was the right dessert – the menu was printed erroneously. It’s actually a chocolate macaron (of sorts) with a coconut based filling paired with a passionfruit sorbet.

It’s a perfect dessert for people who doesn’t like sweet desserts – both the desserts are more acidic than sweet. However, I felt that the dessert was rushed out and I personally didn’t feel that it’s a very well made dessert. I was really looking forward to his Caramelized Brioche with Beer Poached Pear and White Cheese Sorbet (RM 30) but it was only available on Tuesday and Thursday.

petit fours

The two desserts we ordered were too simple with really basic flavor combinations. We enjoyed it, but we certainly *weren’t* blown away. I can’t help but feel let down after the awesome entrées and main courses. The complimentary petit-fours really saved the desserts department though!

chef alexy fuchs

You just have to remember that Michelin stars are awarded to the venue so there’s no white tablecloth service and all that here. A lot of the things they do locally is a faux pas in French haute cuisine – asking to clear tables before both parties have finished dining, not serving the lady first etc but I guess that’s a product of Malaysian culture. Once we got the great floor manager Ling Ang and the friendly and accommodating waitress Juney to serve us, it was smooth sailing.

700 dollar dinner

It’s not everyday you get to have a Michelin star restaurant chef come over and do a collaboration so I thought the experience was great and the food was good overall, especially the perfectly cooked stuffed quail! Our bill came up to a total of RM 711.10 for two without wine (we shared a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water) which is very reasonable for KL standards considering the food and chef.

mezze michelin

I nearly missed Alexy Fuchs trip over coz I didn’t check my email for newsletters – the lounge sends out the occasional update on food happenings which sometimes goes into spam. This isn’t an invited review by the way, that was done in the afternoon and it wasn’t my cup of tea. I paid full price for the dinner coz I wanted to have a romantic dinner with my dear and you can only get that intimate ambience on a fully booked Saturday night by reserving a table.

alexy fuchs

I also got to meet Alexy Fuchs – thanks to Ling Ang who let me into the kitchen to say a quick “Bonsoir” to the chef! He was really nice and down-to-earth and I put up an Instagram photo of us in my SixthSeal.com Facebook page, which he shared on his personal Facebook page and said something to the effect of “even 10,000 miles away, the people here knows of the famous Le Gavroche by Nathalie and Benoit Fuchs” and tagged his parents which I thought was a cool thing to do.

michelin us

It was great night out and we both enjoyed ourselves immensely! :)

Black Star Pastry’s Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream

black star newtown

There are two outlets in town but there’s really only one place to get your Black Star Pastry fix – the original patisserie at Newtown. The massive crowds stretching down the block, the Newtown chic grunge patrons, the punk rock waitress posing for the camera. You just can’t beat the ambience, even if you’re packed tighter than sardines in can.

black star pastries

…and the thing to have here is their Strawberry and Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream. It’s what they’re famous for. Hell, it comes up as soon as you type “Black Star Pastry” into your good friend Google.

Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream (AUD 6.50)
Fresh, light, fragrant. This cake consists of two layers of almond dacquoise, fresh whipped cream, watermelon, strawberries, Iranian pistachios and rose petals.

Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream

This is their signature item and it’s the reason why people queue up. It’s constantly sold out and if you want it on a plate, you’ll be better off trying at their (much larger) sister outlet in Rosebery, which was practically empty when I was there. I had it to go but decided to crowd into one of the eclectic seats with rocks (!!!) as tables to eat them.

newtown black star pastry

It’s a beautiful cake and it tastes even better than it looks! The description of the cake pretty much says it all – the flavor combination of berries, the refreshing watermelon and the delicate rose petals hidden in the cream is, for a lack of a better term, divine. If you’ve never had a watermelon cake before, I suggest you rectify that as soon as humanly possible.

Orange Cake with Persian Fig

I highly recommend the Orange Cake with Persian Fig (AUD 4) too. I asked the waitress what people ordered besides the Strawberry Watermelon Cake and got this one. This tall, cylindrical delight is made from whole boiled oranges, garnished with cheese cream icing and Persian figs, pistachios and rose petals. It’s surprisingly moist and decadent and both cakes are gluten-free!

Lemon Myrtle Chiffon Cake

I had the Lemon Myrtle Chiffon Cake at their Rosebery sister outlet and it was awesome too! It’s a roomier venue, but a little antiseptic with all the staff wearing uniforms, unlike the cool and non-conformist vibe you get from the original Newtown cafe.

black star rosebery

I also got another Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream to go and it tasted similar so the outlet you prefer is up to the ambience you like.

me black star

Black Star Pastry has won a ton of awards and is helmed by the patisser Christopher The. They’re also famous for their lamb shank pies and wood-fired breads but I only had room for the cakes – a quick dessert before lunch!

black star pastry

Black Star Pastry
277 Australia Street,
Newtown NSW

Opens 7 am – 5 pm, 7 days a week

Shell FuelSave Challenge 2014 starts now!

sibu

I realize there is one thing that my humble hometown has that not many other states have – a traffic garden! I come from Sibu and we have a miniature town complete with small stop signs, lanes that have directions and even mini traffic lights! It doubles as a favorite jogging spot but that was how I learned the fundamentals of driving by pretending to be a car on my cycle as a 9 year old kid.

rtm me

I was quite involved in local events back when I was working in Sibu and I remember Shell did a traffic event there too.

shell station malaysia

However, there’s something more exciting coming up and there’s going to be auditions in Johor Bahru, Kuantan, Penang, and Selangor! The 6th Shell FuelSave Challenge is back!

shell fuelsave

The Shell FuelSave Challenge is an annual driving event which showcases how easy it is for everyday individuals (that’s you and me) to become advocates of fuel-saving and be awarded when they practise the Shell FuelSave Tips, coupled with the use of Shell FuelSave 95 – a Fuel Designed to Last Longer per Tank.

fuelsave 95

Interesting fact: Did you know that UPS in the United Sates almost never make left turns? Their courier delivery service trucks makes a right turn 90% of the time to save on fuel! This was actually tested in an episode of Mythbusters and it turned out to be true!

The episode of Mythbusters was dedicated to “hypermiling” and refers to a series of techniques for energy efficient driving.

Shell FuelSave Tips #1: Keep your tyres at the right pressure. Correctly inflated tyres are safer, last longer and improve fuel economy.

tyres

Shell FuelSave 95 is formulated with Active Efficiency Ingredients designed to improve fuel and engine efficiency as well as save costs. This year, participants will be able to enhance their knowledge on making smart choices on the road though the Shell FuelSave Challenge, which will have both a real-life and online component where you have the opportunity to win exclusive prizes and rewards!

Shell FuelSave Tips #2: Use air conditioning sparingly. Air conditioning puts added strain to the engine and uses fuel to operate, limit use to particularly hot days.

fuel consumption

Shell FuelSave Challenge 2014 is back and you can join the driving challenge that will test all your preconceived notions of fuel efficient driving! You think you can squeeze the most kilometers out of a single litre of gas? This challenge is for you! There will be four regional winners (North, East Coast, Central and South) for RM 2,000 each and the best of the best will come together for the National Finals! Just register and stand a chance to win the RM 20,000 grand prize!

Shell FuelSave Tips #3: Avoid carrying excess weight. Extra weight affects your fuel efficiency. Keep your boot and back seat clear of unnecessary items that just add weight to your vehicle.

driving challenge

You can also participate the Shell FuelSave Journey after registering online – there will be tasks and “missions” that can be completed by just answering a few questions and clicking a mouse button. This is the online bit if you’re more inclined to participate in a digital format. There will also be exclusive prizes and rewards even if you don’t make it to the Driving Challenge!

Start your engines now at the official Shell FuelSave Challenge page!

CREST Café, Birubi Beach

fish and chips

The magical view of Birubi Beach makes CREST Café one of the best spots to have a modern interpretation of a perennial Australian favorite – fish and chips!

birubi beach

We had just walked over from the car park when the sound of breaking surf crashing over the beach lured us over. It was a beautiful morning and the rain that accompanied our dolphin watching expedition earlier in the morning had gone away and the sun was starting to shine.

crest cafe

CREST Birubi Beach is located just by the seaside and you can smell the wonderful surf as you walk into the modern café. I heard it has just recently been refurbished for several million dollars and it looks modern, minimalistic and clean.

Fat Yak Pale Ale

It’s a beautiful spot for lunch! I browsed the menu and instantly spotted what I wanted – fish and chips! This isn’t your dad’s fish and chips shop mind, they use Fat Yak beer batter from the artisan brewery in Matilda Bay to coat the fish and they also serve Fat Yak beer on tap!

Minimum Chips Golden Lager

There are two fine craft beers from Matilda Bay Brewing Company on tap – (Hand Cut) Minimum Chips Golden Lager (AUD 6) and Fat Yak Pale Ale (AUD 6). I thought the former was a hilarious name for a beer and would have been the logical choice for fish and chips beer batter coating. We ordered a pint of both to try out.

Fat Yak beer battered flathead, chips, dill aioli and salad (AUD 20)

fat yak beer flathead chips

This is the beautiful craft beer battered fish, which almost everyone ordered. The flathead is a very unusual fish with eyes on the top of its head (like a skate or stringray). CREST Birubi Beach does it beautifully – the fish was local and fresh with a nice coating of Fat Yak craft beer batter. It flaked off nicely and the chips were done to perfection, going very well with the dill aioli.

I found myself wanting more, even though the portions were rather generous. People kept stealing my chips and dill aioli dip too, which goes to show how good this dish is.

fat yak me

It went very well with the Fat Yak Pale Ale that I ordered. I felt it was poetic to have both Fat Yak beer on my food as a batter *and* as a drink. The Minimum Chips Golden Lager is slightly more refreshing but the IPA style Fat Yak runs more towards my tastes.

crest cafe birubi beach

The magical view of Birubi Beach makes CREST Café one of the best spots to have a modern interpretation of a perennial Australian favorite – fish and chips! It was our final lunch before leaving the Port Stephens area for Sydney and I have to say, it was a very memorable one. I even put the picture of me drinking the Fat Yak craft beer as my Facebook profile picture!

CREST Café
Birubi Beach Surf Club
73, James Paterson Street
Anna Bay, New South Wales

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