Some of the food I always ensure I have when I visit the Philippines (description when you click on the individual photos)…
Reminiscing the cream of mushroom soup I had in Toronto’s Biff’s Bistro, I made my own version last night. I’m trying to watch my calorie intake these days so my version is not as creamy as I would have loved it to be. Instead of using heavy cream I added a few dollops of creme fraiche instead to make it rich.
The recipe below gives about 4 bowls of heart-warming soup.
1/4 cup olive oil, or 1/2 stick butter
1/2 onion, cubed
5 cups coarsely chopped mushrooms of different varieties (I used a mixture of button and Swiss brown cap mushrooms)
1 litre (4 cups) stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup heavy cream, or 3-4 tablespoons creme fraiche
salt and pepper to taste
parsley (to garnish)
1. In a medium sized stock pot, melt butter and saute onions until soft. Add in mushrooms and saute until soft (about 5-7 minutes).
2. Add in stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to medium. Continue boiling for 10-15 minutes.
3. When mushrooms are completely soft, turn off the heat. Using a handheld blender blitz the soup until mushrooms are finely blended. Alternatively, you can use a blender and pour soup back in the pot after blending. Bring the soup back to a simmer and add the heavy cream or creme fraiche. Mix well until cream is evenly mixed into the soup. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Serve in bowls and garnish with a few leaves of parsley if desired.
You know that little Korean restaurant along Pier Street that you can never get into? Well, after months of “trying to get there early” to get a table, I finally got the chance to sample their wonderful dishes. In fact, I’ve been to the Took Bae Kee Pier Street restaurant twice now and once to the newly opened Took Bae Kee 2 restaurant in Barrack Street.
The restaurant in Pier Street is a tiny little shack, hence why you have to be there early to get a table. There are always people waiting outside – even when it’s chilly – and if you happen to be one of them you can’t help but stare at the people eating inside, hoping it would induce them to eat faster. I usually come with a big group and this is clearly not the way to go. Unless they join all the tables together, Took Bae Kee Pier Street can only accommodate groups of 4 people max or less so better head to the Barrack Street one if you want space.
Took Bae Kee offers us, Perthians, wonderful Korean dishes that closely mirrored what I had sampled in South Korea a few years ago. The only difference is that meals in South Korea are served with WAY more side dishes. Took Bae Kee gives you a selection of 4 side dishes which changes from time to time and which includes kimchi, bean sprouts, soy beans, nori strips, sweet pork cubes and more.
I went with L once to the Pier Street restaurant and had beef bulgogi served in a claypot that keeps your food warm and sizzling. The dish was simple and good.
L had the spicy pork, served with rice, which she said was very good.
And because it was a cold night, we decided to share a hot and spicy soup to keep us warm. We had the tofu soup and it was, indeed, very hot and spicy.
Then the next time I came here with Auntie C I had the same dish again just because it was delicious while she had something light – Jap Chae, which is a dish of sweet potato noodles stir fried with vegetables. This dish was very tasty but quite salty. It wasn’t as good as the ones I had in South Korea.
At the Barrack Street restaurant, I had the sliced beef soup with noodles. The soup was a touch bland but they give you salt and pepper on the side so you can season it yourself.
I haven’t been to many Korean restaurants in Perth but Took Bae Kee is surely one that I will always go back to.
My rating: 7.5/10
A very hearty soup that I often make because it’s very easy and is a complete meal by itself. A big bowl of this warms my insides during winter. You can really use a variety of vegetables for this.
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, cubed
2 celery sticks, sliced into half-inch pieces
1 head broccoli, flowers separated and cut into bite size pieces
1 can beans (optional)
handful of shell pasta (optional)
1 can condensed tomato soup or 1 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
chicken stock or water
salt and pepper
slices of crusty bread
1. In a medium or large stock pot, heat the oil. Sautee all the vegetables for about 3 minutes. Add in the condensed tomato soup or tomato paste. Stir for about 1 minute. Then add in chicken stock or water (or a mixture of both) enough to cover the vegetables plus about 1 litre extra. Bring to a boil.
2. When the soup starts boiling, lower the heat and simmer the vegetables until soft. If you wish to add the shell pasta, add them to the pot when vegetables are half cooked.
3. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Adjust the taste by adding more tomato paste if needed.
4. Serve with crusty bread, if desired, and enjoy while steaming hot.
Finally a place in Perth where I can indulge in noodles semi-guiltlessly (semi, because I am trying a diet of low carbs). If you need to be reminded…I have a very unhealthy addiction to noodles. Noodle soup, stir-fry noodles, deep fried noodles with sauce, boiled noodles, claypot noodles, salad noodles – in whatever way noodles are cooked I will eat them all (but noodles in a heart warming broth is my number choice).
Today on a very chilly day I ventured out to the city for some harmless shopping. I had the craving for a good bowl of soup, battling between minestrone or asian soup. In the end, asian soup craving won so I headed on foot to Northbridge for a big bowl of noodle soup. I have read that Big Bowl Noodles along William Street makes their own noodles so that alone is enough to convince me to give this place a try. The restaurant was not overly busy when I walked in seeing as it was already 2:30pm then. There were only 3 other tables occupied so service was very quick.
They have this on their wall explaining something about noodle making -
- and they are right. Noodle making is an art. Big Bowl makes their own noodles called La Mien, as in noodles pulled by hand, but we are now in the modern ages so they actually use machines to “pull” the noodles. There are 3 machines – 1 for regular noodles, 1 for wholemeal noodles, and 1 for thicker regular noodles – and the noodles are “pulled” to order. Place your order then choose your noodle and the waitress presses a button on the machine and, voila, noodles come out and she passes them on to the chef.
There are some 50+ combinations of noodles on the menu – some soup, some stir fried, some vego..etc. and it did take a while for me to decide which one to indulge in. Finally I chose the fish skin with prawn dumpling noodle soup with wholemeal noodles. Wow, it was heaven in every slurp. And made even better with a little bit of chili. It was unusual to have wholemeal la mien because I have never been to a chinese restaurant that actually makes and serves wholemeal noodles. This worked just fine for me because I currently have an obsession with anything wholemeal (for that added texture). The soup was very simple yet tasty. Just broth, I’m guessing pork broth, and not loaded with msg seeing as I was not left dehydrated after I finished my bowl of noodle soup. They were generous with the veggies too. The only real problem with my meal were the dumplings. They came in only 4 pieces and were mediocre. The wrapper was too big and I could not make out where the fish skin was.
The staff there can speak little English, enough for them to get by and understand me. I was going to try ordering in Chinese but I felt so embarrassed with my broken Chinese that if she asked me something else I would’ve just turned red and replied in English. The lady who served me looked a bit uptight but she did turn out to be friendly upon “chatting” with her about the noodles. I loved my wholemeal noodles so much that I ordered fresh ones to take home. I did not know that you can actually just order fresh noodles until a man came in and ordered 4 large containers. So I copied him and ordered 1 large container for myself. And this was when I “chatted” with the lady about the different types of noodles and how I should store and cook them at home.
I am literally contained with excitement about cooking the noodles at home. I finally found a place where I can get quality noodles to feed my addiction.
My rating: 8/10
I came to “Phong Vinh” for lunch one day en route to the post office in Northbridge. I used to frequently dine in “Viet Hoa”, the Vietnamese restaurant next door, but after they have decided not to put anymore coriander in their soup I was on the hunt again for a good Vietnamese restaurant. I love pho. I love soup. I love bean sprouts too. So, mathematically speaking, I love Vietnamese noodle soup. I heard and read great reviews about this food court seating styled restaurant and it seems to be always full every time I walk past it.
The waitress served me tea in a thermos, yes a thermos, not a teapot, as soon as I sat down. They have over 100 menu items including spring rolls, rice dishes, dry noodles, soup noodles, beverages. It took a while for me to decide what to eat since everything looked so delicious. Finally I went for the “chicken beef soup”. I asked the waitress if this had noodles and she said it’s “chicken hofan in beef soup”. Ah well, should have written that in the menu.
I was playing with my Iphone when the steaming hot bowl of noodle soup came. The waitress spilled some of the soup and splashed some onto my arm while transferring the bowl to my table. She apologised and quickly went to get a cloth to wipe her mess. The bowl was literally a bowlful of soup (which was why it spilled) and I already knew then and there that I would not be able to finish the whole bowl unless I wanted to fall asleep at work. As with any other Vietnames restaurant, my noodle soup came with a side of bean sprouts and mint, and also a side of chilli and lemon wedge. Yum yum yum. The soup was very tasty and it had coriander in it. If there’s anything wrong with it it would be that it’s a little too oily. The lady said it came with hofan noodles. I was disappointed with this but due to my own fault really. I was really after the pho noodles, rice noodles not hofan noodles. The hofan was too soft for me. Somewhere close to being mushy in fact. I asked the waitress beforehand if I could change my order when I saw a yummier looking item in the menu that had rice noodles in it but she said the cook/chef had already started making my hofan soup. So no worries I told her. It was my mistake. And the best thing about my noodle soup was the chicken. It was very very tasty and tender. I was thinking of bland sliced chicken breast when I ordered this but they surprised me with uber tasty chicken chunks. Needless to say I was very very full.
Then a few weeks later I came here again with Auntie C, Uncle J and my little cousin. We had springs rolls to start with – a pork one and a vegetarian one. Both were very tasty and crunchy. They serve it as soon as they come out of the fryer so watch your tongue.
This time I made sure I ordered the correct type of noodles. I had the Phong Vinh special noodle soup which was divine. Rice noodle in soup loaded with toppings, seafood and meat.
As we always have someone order a braised duck noodle soup in Viet Hoa, we also had Phong Vinh’s braised duck noodle soup to see how it compares. Both were similar in taste and the difference really just came down to the soup. Phong Vinh’s is not as salty as Viet Hoa’s.
Uncle J had the chicken noodle soup, dry style (which basically means that the soup is served on the side). This is utterly similar to the chicken beef soup that I had during my first encounter with Phong Vinh except that the chicken here was fried and served on the side as a cutlet piece. He said the dish was just lovely.
Last but not least, my little cousin had the stir fry beef with fried rice. This is definitely not the best dish they are serving. The sauce on the beef tasted like something out of the packet and the fried rice was bland. If you are looking for a dish like this I’d suggest heading to a Chinese restaurant instead.