Chinese Roast Pork Belly *

Pork Belly

Happy Roast Pork Belly Day!

Okay, so it’s actually Valentine’s Day, but c’moooooon. Roast Pork Belly Day is about as arbitrary, right?

Besides, Valentine’s Day is completely wasted on me. I’m not into getting flowers (they die… and I can buy my own), or chocolates (I only really like plain dark chocolate… and I can buy my own), or jewellery (I don’t like gold or diamonds… and I can buy my own).

You can deduce a couple of things from that.

1: I don’t like receiving gifts. (Though I appreciate the thought and all.)
2: I’m terribly unromantic.


Mr Huang Jin

Remember when Melbourne was xiao long bao mad a couple of years ago?

That’s one food trend I’m happy to consume. And when Sarah posted about Mr Huang Jin’s XLBs recently, I was keen to check them out after an average XLB experience the previous week.

Mr Huang Jin are located in the Rialto tower on Collins Street, and haven’t been open for terribly long. And I feel the need to get this out of the way first: they’re not your typical dumpling restaurant where you can eat until you burst for $10. A serve of dumplings at Mr Huang Jin is $18-$20. Is it worth the extra money when you can go to a cheap cheerful place for much, much less? Well: read on.

I rocked up with Alastair and Bro on a warm Wednesday evening. We were the only table, so service was attentive, and very sweet.


1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles

You wouldn’t expect lamb skewers to be the best thing on the menu at a restaurant named 1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles. But if you make it to this casual restaurant in Footscray and don’t eat at least two lamb skewers each, you’re missing out.

1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles has been around for quite a while. Located on Hopkins Street, across from the Footscray Market, they serve north western Chinese / Xinjiang food. Food in the Xinjiang region of China generally uses quite a bit of lamb/mutton and no pork because it’s a region with a high proportion of Muslims, due to the geographic nearness of the Middle East. Noodles are primarily made with wheat flour and cumin is a common spice.

I hadn’t eaten at 1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles in quite a few years (for some reason I thought they had closed!) and was pleased to find on my latest visit with Maztech, Bro, Bro’s gf, and Alastair, that not much had changed. The walls had been painted, and there was now a helpful photo menu, but it was still the same casual joint that I remembered. And the lamb skewers were still on the menu. Win win win.


Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen

There’s an inner glutton in me. She is mostly tamed and kept deep down inside, but occasionally she rises to the surface. Normally she comes out in the presence of other gluttons ie Ms Kat. However, I discovered the other night that my glutton is only a glutton in training in comparison to Kat.

Kat wanted to go to Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen to eat Sichuan food and “shit on sticks” (my terminology – translation: meat/vegies on skewers). Since it’s my side of town, I was keen and we gathered up Thanh, Kat’s partner Josh, Alastair and Bro for a visit one night last week.


Tao Tao House

Sometimes the best planned ideas go awry. I often talk about my insane love for egg tarts (I’ve even baked my own before!) and I had plans for an egg tart tasting. A group of egg tart lovers would buy an assortment of egg tarts, get together, and then we’d EAT THEM ALL. After some chatting back and forth, it was decided that we have lunch beforehand at Tao Tao House, thanks to an excellent suggestion made by Allan.

However, unexpectedly several people had to drop out, causing us to cancel the egg tart tasting. Boo hoo! At least we kept the plans to go to Tao Tao House for yum cha.

Tao Tao House opened early this year on Glenferrie Road and is run by a father and son team, Jason and Eric Au. Jason Au was once the head dim sum chef at Flower Drum for nearly 20 years, and more recently worked at Donnie’s Golden Dragon Palace for 5 years. Impressive resume!


Cookbook Challenge: Fortnight 4, Love

Theme: Love
1st Recipe: Braised beef brisket with chilli and tamarind sauce
Cookbook: Blue Ginger

2nd Recipe: Pecan Chai Pie on Cashew Crust
Cookbook: Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen

The theme for this week’s Cookbook Challenge is “love”. Love, love, love. I’m very fortunate in love – I’m married to my best friend and the love of my life (gush) 🙂 . And then there’s the other kinds of love: family, of course – Bro and my mum and dad are ace. Plus there’s friendship love: see BFF for an example!

So to show a bit of friendship love for this fortnight’s challenge, my BFF and I have teamed up and swapped recipes. She selected a few for me, and vice versa. (Check out her post to see what she made.) 🙂

Mooncake making: Mid-Autumn Festival


On Sunday, I spent a fun couple of hours at Penny’s house with Anh, Celeste and Anna, making mooncakes. Mooncakes are Chinese pastries that are normally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. They’re very sweet, and high in calories, plus they’re relatively expensive per cake (I think a box of four here, depending on the quality, sells for ~$20-$25. But you’re not supposed to eat a whole one by yourself at one go – I wouldn’t eat more than 1/4 at a time.)

The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, and it’s meant to be when the moon is at its maximum brightness for the entire year. (The Chinese calendar is a lunar calendar, with the months following the cycles of the moon.) The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in many Asian countries – such as China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and the Phillippines, and this year it’s officially today! Happy Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival!