Monday, 9 December 2013
Spicy House was the Dumpling Club's November outing. Make sure that you don't confuse Spicy House with the similarly named Spicy Joint one block up the road lest your dinner party end up at two separate places.
The menu at Spicy House seems more edited compared to other similar eateries, and there is a helpful ‘Top Dishes” list on the whiteboard along with some specials. And if you are really lost, there are also some pictorials on the wall. Spicy House lives up to its self-declared 'Spicy food expert'; most dishes are cooked with ‘spicy sauce’, else has fresh or dried chillies in its list of ingredients. This is deceiving though, as most of the dishes we got were mild, though I'm sure you could ask them to dial up the heat if you prefer.
Labels: eating out
Friday, 6 December 2013
Have you ever wondered why you like certain foods, and dislike others? Or why you think some recipes are inedible while others seem to enjoy the taste? Baring the cultural aspect, a lot of it comes down to how you perceive the smell of the foods.
All of us, at some point, have disagreed on what a particular food tastes or smells like (think coriander, durian, wine). And while you might think that the other person might be mistaken or have a poorly developed sense of smell, sensory scientists at The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research have dissected some of the genetics behind flavour preferences and shown that we all live in our own unique world when it comes to odour perception.
A pair of studies published by Sara Jaeger, Jeremy McRae, Richard Newcomb and colleagues published in an August edition of journal Current Biology identified the genetic variations that underpin the differences in smell sensitivity and perception between individuals, which explain some of the reasons why people appear to have ‘blind spots’ in their tasting abilities.
The researchers tested nearly 200 people for their sensitivity to ten different chemical compounds that occur in foods and searched through the subjects’ genomes for areas of the DNA that differed between people who could smell a given compound compared to people who could not. This approach — known as a genome-wide association study or GWAS — is widely used to identify genetic differences, for instance, between healthy and diseased individuals in the hope of identifying genes that underpin certain diseases, such as diabetes or cancers.
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
I am taking baby steps into Korean food with bulgogi, a well-known Korean marinated meat dish, typically cooked over the grill. It has a sweet-savoury taste which is easy on the palate and found at all Korean eateries.
This recipe comes from Rachel, my Korean beautician. She tells me that she cooks bulgogi once a week and typically cooks 1kg of beef. The marinated meat can be kept frozen until required.
This is truly an easy dish to make; the bulgogi marinade can be easily prepared from common sauces, and the proportions can be varied to your taste. The trickiest part may be to obtain the thinly shaved sirloin beef used for steamboat and Korean grills, though these are now readily found in almost all Asian stores.
Monday, 2 December 2013
Market Kitchen is situated at the corner of Davis Crescent and Carlton Gore Road, a short walk away from central Newmarket. The first thing you notice when you enter is the welcome, - you’re warmly greeted like a regular guest. The excellent service continues for the rest of the evening.
The restaurant has a feel of a converted villa, divided into rooms that served to partition the bar from the restaurant, and create nice, intimate spaces. There is also a courtyard out the back for al fesco dining. I lived in Palmerston North for a long time (11 years), and Matthew McAlpine’s restaurant Dejeuner was the epitome for fine food and excellent service in a cosy setting. I was keen to see what he had created in Auckland.
Market Kitchen caters for a range of appetites and tastes. There were twists on traditional favourites such as meat pie (stewed beef hot pot) and fish and chips (pan-fried snapper), but also exciting flavour combinations for the more adventurous.
Labels: eating out
Thursday, 28 November 2013
Did you know that Auckland has 3,500 restaurants? Not only that, I’m amazed how many new restaurants seem to pop up each week and or how many restaurants reinvent themselves. It’s impossible to keep up.
As someone who eats out regularly (okay, I eat out a lot), restaurant review sites are my bibles. I read all of them, including newspapers and magazines, plus I canvas my foodie friends. However, I typically find that newspapers and magazines focus on the latest celebrity openings (read “expensive” restaurants), with some more popular eateries scattered among these. I understand these; readers want to know what's new and trendy in town. Unfortunately, review sites are generally not moderated, which can lead to false and even revenge reviews.
I regularly write reviews on easyfoodhacks which focuses on ethnic, small, family-owned restaurants. These are the ones which are largely ignored by the publications (though Metro does an excellent annual Best 100 Cheap Eats roundup, and the NZ Herald runs the occasional small, ethnic eatery review).
I was contacted by Sahil Ludhani from Zomato back in June when he arrived to scope a potential launch in NZ. He explained the premiss of Zomato, - an online restaurant guide (and app) which has credible reviews on up-to-date restaurant listings. Zomato's entry into New Zealand would start with Auckland and Wellington.
Monday, 25 November 2013
Madame Kwong’s is a new, upmarket Chinese restaurant in a city which sorely needs one. The cuisine focuses on Cantonese and Sichuan food, and also offers dim sum for lunch. It is probably the largest Chinese restaurant in town, well set up for functions and easily seating 300 across two floors. On the Wednesday night we visited, the lower floor of the restaurant quickly filled with both large groups (tables seating 12) and smaller groups of 4 by 7pm.
Madame Kwong’s is owned by a family friend, Vivian and her husband John. Kwong is a merger of their surnames, and the name finds its inspiration in a famous chain of restaurants in Malaysia, Madame Kwan’s. The Chinese name is Mei Shi Chien (Fine Foods at Chien’s) After some teething problems and finally getting their liquor licence, Madame Kwong’s has settled into a relaxed and efficient atmosphere. The staff are still green and struggled to make recommendations. However, Vivian is present most evenings, and is a wonderful host, making sure we had enough to eat, and suggesting some treats.
Saturday, 23 November 2013
Taste of Auckland is the must-do gastronomy event on the NZ calendar, and this year it ran from 14-17 November. It is part of the international Taste Festivals franchise, which lends it a well-considered organisation blueprint. There were 11 top-notch restaurants taking part this year, 3 of them showcased modern Asian cuisine; iVillage (Indian), Everybody’s Izakaya (Japanese) and Mandarin Dumpling & Bar (Chinese). Each restaurant offered 2-4 dishes, costing $8-14 crowns each. ($1 crowns are equivalent to $1, and are loaded onto cards).
There’s entertainment, chef masterclasses, Fisher & Paykel Roast tasting, small producers and much more. The weather came to the party, and it was sunny, warm with a hint of breeze. Perfect.