I finally managed to pull my finger out and get my ass down to the Vietnamese café on Aplin Street, Ba Mien a couple of weeks ago for lunch with one of my most favourite people to have lunch with, fellow blogger, Baking Myself Happy. (Sorry Sandy I still haven’t made it to Terrazza. I swear I will get there eventually haha). BMH and I have a shared love of food, talking about food and our general intolerance for stupid people. Given the opportunity to choose where we had lunch I chose Ba Mien, knowing that it was somewhere that was close to where BMH worked and also somewhere that I had wanted to blog about for quite some time. BMH had actually been there quite a few times given the close proximity to her work but was happy to go again with me.
We met there just before the lunch rush which was perfect for BMH because she was a little restricted for time due to it being her lunch break also. Myself, well when I’m not at sea I’m a lady of leisure. That’s not true at all, it seems like the more time off I have from work the more I have to do but on this particular day I had no trips to Master’s, Bunning’s, Solomon’s Carpets or all of the above planned.
After our hello’s and a bit of general chit chat out the front of the shop we headed in and placed our orders at the counter. BMH already knew what she wanted so she ordered first leaving me to have a bit of a longer look over the menu. For someone who spends a lot of their spare time perusing menu’s online (hey it’s a vice of mine) for once I wasn’t at all prepared and this was in fact the first time I’d had a chance to view the menu. Shock! Horror! It didn’t take me long before I settled on the Lemongrass and Beef Chilli Noodle Soup ‘HUE’ Style for AU$10.90. The lady at the counter did mention to me that it was hot but I brushed her off. Please… I’m too hot to handle baby! I know I have tendency to go for mainly noodle dishes but in my defence I did seriously consider the Green Crispy Papaya Salad with Coriander Dressing for AU$9.90 (another regular dish of mine). It was the Coriander Dressing that turned me off. I don’t like coriander, it’s just too overpowering for me.
Formerly the grease trap ‘Galloping Gourmet’, Ba Mien is cute, colourful and adorned with vibrant (but a little tacky) lime green walls and bottles of Sriacha chilli sauce. I must admit it’s really great to finally see some Asian cuisines other than Chinese, Japanese and Thai setting up shop in Cairns. I know for a very long time we didn’t even have one single Vietnamese restaurant in Cairns and now we have at least four that I can think of off the top of my head.
Anyway so while we waited for our food to arrive BMH and I discussed the in’s an out’s of the universe, buying houses – something the two of us are both considering with our respective partners, why Isagenix is such a farce (how the hell people are falling for the food replacement shake gimmick again especially when it’s clearly a pyramid scheme!) and BMH’s absolute horror at discovering that she may not be fitting into her dresses quite so well because she had started to develop lat’s (the muscle kind). This part I found overly amusing especially considering how devastated she was about it all. Being a girl with quite large ‘lats’ I couldn’t quite understand it.
Back to the Isagenix part for a tick.. I more than understand the premise behind it all – weight loss and living a healthy life but surely people would rather eat real food? I myself can contribute a 15kg weight loss to Celebrity Slim Weight Loss Shakes back in 2006. However the overall success of me not piling back on the pounds after I stopped having meal replacement shakes can also be attributed to the stress of my piece of shit, alcoholic ex-boyfriend and surviving (literally) on a diet of cigarettes and daily 5km runs on the Esplanade. For the record I don’t smoke anymore and I certainly don’t condone this form of weight loss. At the time I was a shadow of my current self both mentally and physically but we get over these things. Enough about me… Yeah Isagenix might help you lose weight and feel great about yourself but what about the afterwards? You can’t live on shakes forever and have to go back to eating real food eventually. My advice is to educate yourself. Learn to eat real food in moderation and exercise. It’s not frigin rocket science people!!! Am I right or am I right hey BMH?
Enough about that – It didn’t take long before our lunch to arrive at our table – I’m actually not sure if the service is always that prompt or it was just that we were the first one’s there for the lunch trade. My guess is that it’s always prompt or there is no way that BMH would keep going back. My noodle soup was quite large in size and stature with a bit of chilli and lime on the side. The broth was somewhat flavoursome, mostly the chilli kind, but generally didn’t have much depth to it. The thinly sliced beef was lovely and tender and this was the first to go from my bowl followed by the noodles which were still a little bit firm to bite. Exactly the way they should be IMO. I then proceeded to work down the large amount of soup in my bowl only to be faced with nearly choking on chilli. It’s not that it was particularly hot but more it just went down the wrong way, kind of like when you breath in Milo. THAT SHIT BURNS!!! Tears ran down my face, I couldn’t breath and I immediately turned around casing the nearby drinks fridge for anything that may quench the choking burn. Fortunately for me, after a sheer moment of panic, the burning subsided, I wiped away the tears and our conversation continued as per normal.
BMH’s had ordered the Lemongrass Beef Bowl which appeared a little more basic than mine. From the Happy Baker herself “It was okay – nothing to write home about. There wasn’t really a discernible lemongrass taste more just a generic Asian taste. The beef was pretty chewy but really for the AU$8 or so I paid I wasn’t expecting gourmet’. Oh, she’s gooood.
I found the food at Ba Mien to be only okay… worth the visit but nothing to write home about. This is something that was reiterated by BMH – she would know because she has dined there a lot more than I have. Also because as a fellow foodie, I more than trust her opinion. Apparently it can be a little hit and miss but usually worth taking the chance on considering it’s handy location to her work, cheap meals and cheerful service. I myself will definitely be returning for another go and to try something else on the menu other than noodle soup. Ladies, forget cleansing with Isagenix ladies and instead try the Lemongrass and Beef Chilli Noodle Soup at Ba Mien. Not only will it clean you out starting with your nasal passages, at a mere AU$9.90 a pop you might actually save yourself some serious coin and a few extra kilo’s in the long run.
15a Aplin St, Cairns QLD e4870
Ph: (07) 4051 6426
It’s been a ridiculously long time between posts for this vixen. It turns out that life without a laptop/computer is pretty damn debilitating for me. I have had nothing but dramas with a Toshiba Ultrabook I bought less than two years ago (brand new) having the operating system ‘break down’ no less than three times and also the hard drive replaced once in that period. Many a file have I lost over this time because although I have the best of intentions to back files up, it’s just something that usually gets put on the back-burner for me. I do however usually save at least two copies of everything – one on my laptop and one on my hard drive but it really doesn’t matter because I get f**ked by technology one way or another (apparently portable hard drives don’t like to be dropped).
Finally, I’d had enough of my laptop failing me and tried for the 500th and final time to get it replaced under the extended warranty that I had purchased. The dude in JB HIFI proceeded to tell me that it was something that I was doing with it that was causing it to fail and they couldn’t replace it. With MS by my side I usually feel 10 feet tall but without him my eyes began to well up. I kept it together long enough to ask the guy to speak to the ‘big manager’ but make sure he takes my side when explaining the situation. Two minutes later he returns and tells me they are going to replace it with a product of equal or lesser value (that really could have saved 10 minutes of arguing). The two computer guys tried in vain to get me to consider an Apple – something I didn’t want to have a bar of. I DGAF how good Mac’s are nor do I want to approach them with my ‘non-PC’ brain on. I’m a PC for life kind of girl so save your breath. In the end I got some new ASUS Zenbook thingy with some Norton Antivirus to go with it. Now if I could just figure out how to use Windows 8 then life would be sweet.
So here I am trying to get back on the blogging bandwagon and recap all the wonderful and not so wonderful places that I have dined in the last, say 3 months. Firstly I think I will start with one of my most recent outings – Cafe China Express at the Marina. Having been there a few months now Cafe China Express has taken over from the long-standing, and probably too long, Boardwalk Cafe. A place that was once upon a time known for its huge cafe style meals and delicious Egg’s Benedict. I personally hadn’t returned since I received a particularly violent case of food poisoning there after consuming an Open Grilled Turkey Sandwich on my 23rd birthday about three years ago (haha just kidding, it was two). It turns out that the toilets at Rosse and Locke are few and far between, especially when you’re in a ‘hurry’. Big thumbs up for my birthday that year. FML.
Anyway, Cafe China Express was so carefully selected by my brothers beautiful girlfriend GH for her 20th birthday dinner last weekend, presumably because well they have pork buns and we all know that everyone loves pork buns. The fact that you pay and order at the counter is perfect for a large group because divvying up a bill can often be a painful experience, something I found recently whilst dining at an Italian restaurant in Sydney’s Pyrmont a couple of weeks ago with a couple of wines under my belt, or smoking hot pair of Wayne Cooper pants (in a size 6 might I add, awwww yeah!). Anyway so cunningly GH told my family – minus myself – that dinner was at 6.30pm when it fact it was at 7. My family is notorious for being at least 20 minutes late no matter how much warning they have and anyone who knows them knows this. Apparently leaving home with ample time to arrive at their given destination is far too difficult because my dad always finds it imperative that he walk the dog at the exact time they should be leaving home. Mum always blames dad for them being late and all you can do is shake your head and sigh. So you can imagine my delight when I arrived at Cafe China Express to find that my entire family already seated and waiting – apparently I was the late one. Whatever makes them feel better.
We all perused the menu whilst waiting for the birthday girl to arrive. Since it was a bit chilly outside I thought I would go for a noodle soup type dish to warm my insides. There was pork buns and dumplings to be shared as well. About 20 minutes later the whole party had arrived and after greetings and salutations were made and presents were opened we all went up to order. I chose the Fish Ball Soup (AU$11.90 for regular size) with an entrée of Har Gow or steamed prawn dumplings (3 for AU$7.90). Like me, my dad has a lot of trouble understanding people with certain accents. It’s nothing personal, maybe we are both hard of hearing – some would say ignorant – but even I sometimes have trouble understanding my Sri Lankan aunties when they talk too fast. After a 5 minute struggle to order dishes, my dad decided it would be better to point it all out instead. Upon returning to the table he claimed that he really had no idea what the bubbly Chinese girl behind the counter was saying and he thought she sounded like she was singing a song when she talked. Dad has such an eloquent way of describing things sometimes but he means it in the best possible way.
There was 12 or so people seated at the table and it took about 20 minutes for the meals to start arriving. My dumplings arrived somewhere in the middle, closely followed by my Fish Ball Soup. Most of the meals arrived a little scattered, and not in any kind of order.
I tasted a selection of the dishes around me including my younger brother’s Roasted Duck Laksa, which he managed to eat the majority of in between his constant scrolling through Facebook and Instagram despite my repeated requests for him to put his phone away, was delicious, creamy and extremely decadent.
Mum and Dad’s plate of Roasted Duck – tough and chewy although a very reasonable sized quarter serving for AU$9.90.
The majority of my family had ordered BBQ Pork Buns to share – except for me. According to my dad they were cold on the inside like they had been put in the microwave and barely heated through. That and they were more dough than anything else. How hard is it to serve a warm pork bun? My dumplings were also ridiculously doughy to the point where I was unsure if there was in fact any filling inside them. Dad and I debated whether or not they were made in-house, especially considering that Café China has about 3 other eateries in Cairns. In the end we concluded that they were pulled straight from a box in the freezer along with the pork buns.
My Fish Ball Soup was as I said earlier quite flavorless. The broth had very little depth to it and although the fish balls were nice, in that artificial kind of way, I found myself wishing that I had ordered something else, like my brother’s laksa.
Next to me mum and dad’s plate of Stir-fry Spinach in Garlic had arrived. A staple for them whenever they go to a Chinese restaurant. I shovelled some into my mouth with my chopsticks to be met with what I can only describe as ‘liquid hot magma’ style spinach. Holy crap they must have literally pulled that stuff straight out of a volcano it was that frigin hot! With tears welling up in my eyes and my taste buds burnt clean off it still tasted pretty good but there was lots of oil on it – presumably what caused my third degree burns (who needs taste buds anyway).
My sister, across from me, had ordered the Chicken Teriyaki. This arrived at the table no less than 30 long minutes after everyone else received their meals. It took that long that we actually thought they had forgotten since all we could see in the open kitchen were people washing up and doing non Chicken Teriyaki related jobs. I tried to do the right thing and wait for her meal to arrive before I started mine but it became beyond ridiculous and in the end my near flavorless soup was getting cold. When it finally did arrive we exchanged glances across the table to say ‘is that seriously it?’ I guess Chicken Teriyaki can’t really be too elaborate a dish but it was literally a piece of whole chicken breast thrown on a plate with some rice, a bit of tomato and kewpie mayonnaise. I wondered what the hell had taken them so long? Presumably because she had ordered a Japanese dish in a Chinese restaurant – a cardinal sin in my books and a sure-fire way to screw up your meal – or get food poisoning especially in a foreign country.
Our dinner at Cafe China Express at the Marina wasn’t particularly fantastic and certainly didn’t even come close to some of the fantastic Chinese dinners I have had in the last 12 months – to be fair most of those were actually in China. The service was great but I wouldn’t consider the place to be express (my sister wasn’t the only one who waited more than 20 minutes for her meal to arrive and the restaurant was barely a quarter full). It was all pretty cheap but more the cheap and nasty type of cheap not the ‘woo hoo we paid next to nothing’ exciting kind of cheap – although the birthday girls mum did score a free glass of red wine. The food itself was somewhat lacklustre and although there was a few yummy dishes amongst our table on the whole it all seemed pretty thrown together. Maybe that’s where the express part comes in…
Cafe China Express At The Marina
Pier Shopping Centre, Pier Point Rd, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4051 6887
I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks now… I started it a little while ago and just wasn’t in the mood to finish it plus MS was home from work so I had (ok wanted to more like it) spend some quality time with him, plus it was Christmas. I get very little blogging done when MS is home because I have way too many distractions. I have the attention span of a goldfish (about 3-4 seconds) so when I do my posts I can’t have any distractions – that means silence and no Facebook. So yeah…
What was supposed to be a takeaway night for me on a Saturday including watching the final episodes of Dexter (yeah I still haven’t gotten around to it) on my living room couch turned into a family dinner at Fasta Pasta. Fasta Pasta was the place that I had originally planned to get my takeaway from since I had a craving for pasta and it was just down the road for me. I hadn’t actually been to Fasta Pasta in years but my ex (not the alcoholic/loser one) and I used to go there quite a bit and take advantage of their AU$9.90 lunch special (I think it’s gone up in price a little since then). At the time we found it to be quite good but like I said that was years ago. I have heard good things about Fasta Pasta over the last couple of years plus it’s always packed (but then again so is Sizzler). I’m pretty sure the Cairns branch of Fasta Pasta received a locally voted award for the ‘best service’ by The Cairns Post at some point. As you may have already guessed my family loves food, cooking and eating out just as much as I do (where do you think I got it from?) and they all jumped at the chance to go out no matter where it was – so we headed on down for a 7.30pm booking.
We arrived on time and took some seats at our table of 6 (5 of us plus my brothers girlfriend). The waitress bought us over some menus and a couple of baskets of bread with butter. As is the norm with me I had already had a good look over the menu on the net so I knew what I wanted. The rest of the group needed a little bit of time and by the time we went up to order at the counter there was a line of about 10 people waiting although the restaurant was only about 1/3 full. I guess it was a bit of a peak time for them – for ordering I mean. Anyway we all ordered our meals (some of us separately) but on the same table number. I ordered my meal last. The man taking the order whom I am assuming is the owner since he has been there ever since I can remember was super friendly and made some funny comment about my mum looking more like my sister than my mum. Mum’s love that kind of thing.
We sat down at the table and awaited our food happily lathering butter on our pieces of bread and eating them in the meantime. I had ordered a main sized Fettuccine Puttanesca which was fettuccine (der) with a tasty Mediterranean sauce of garlic, basil, capers, olives, anchovies, oregano, chilli and Napoli sauce for AU$13.40. Not exactly bank breaking prices here at Fasta Pasta that’s for sure. Much to my surprise my dish arrived first, before anyone else at the table, despite me ordering my meal dead last out of the 6 of us. I did the right thing and waited for everyone else’s dishes to arrive, because I have good manners (I like to think so anyway). The next meal didn’t arrive for another five minutes and it was a Margherita pizza that mum and dad had ordered to share between themselves. Another five minutes later my sisters Ravioli Milanese arrived and then over the next 10 – 15 minutes the rest of the meals arrived in a scattered mess. So much for bringing everything out in some sort of order or at least in a group so one person’s (namely mine) didn’t go cold whilst waiting for the others to arrive.
So anyway, eventually all of our meals arrived and we were able to eat our dinner, together (after I took photos of everyone’s meals of course). The main thing that attracted me to the Fettuccine Puttanesca was the fact that it was Fettuccine and the anchovies of course. I know you either love them or you hate them but I frigin love those little furry fish. Only just last week I found a huge bottle of anchovies in my mum and dad’s pantry (yes I have posted about eating anchovy’s out of the jar at their place before) and I got a little carried away trying to be sneaky and spilt half the contents of the jar including the oil through their cupboard. It took me a long time to clean up and was totally not worth the 2 or 3 furry fish that I got to eat. Serves me right for being sneaky I guess. Although I ordered a main serving I managed to gobble down the lot and still be hungry. It was a reasonable sized serve but I thought it should have been a little bigger for a main size. Having said that I really enjoyed my dish – however a little Tabasco sauce on it for a bit more flavour didn’t go astray. The pasta still had a bit of bite to it and tasted like freshly made pasta.
Across from me my sister had ordered an entrée sized Ravioli Florentina which was meat filled pillows of pasta, tossed with bacon, baby spinach and white wine in a Napoli and cream based sauce for AU$12.40. She reckons that is the same dish that she gets every time she goes to Fasta Pasta (which isn’t very often) and always enjoys it. In contrast to my main sized dish, her entrée was quite large. So much so that even she couldn’t finish it. Never mind – there were plenty of people at the table that were willing to give her a hand, like my dad or as I like to call him ‘Garbage Guts’. He’s a human Labrador that’s for sure.
My brother on the other hand wasn’t quite as happy as my sister and I with his pasta meal. He had ordered the Spirali Calabrese in a main size which was described as spirals of pasta sautéed with pepperoni, olives, chilli, garlic, basil, oregano, mozzarella and Napoli sauce for AU$14.40. I tasted it and it was pretty flavourless with not a whole lot going on. He doused it in parmesan cheese and then only ate half of it. For my brother to not eat all of his dinner then that says a lot to me because as a growing boy (he’s not even 20 yet) he has a massive appetite. He pushed it aside and finished off the remains of his girlfriend’s Canneloni.
I’m not a big fan of Cannelloni. Not because of anything to do with Fasta Pasta but more so because of the cannelloni that my ex’s mother (JC) used to make when we came over for dinner on occasion. Yes, I am talking about my ex again (the same one that I used to go to Fasta Pasta with). I am still very good friends with his parents, particularly his mum JC. You might remember that I wanted to take MS there for dinner but he thought it was a little weird to go to his girlfriend’s ex boyfriends parent’s place for dinner but he has since gotten over that as he has gotten to know them better. It’s only weird if you make it weird hey? So anyway JC used to make this cannelloni with heaps of onion and capsicum which just so happen to be two of my most hated foods at the time, only now to be overtaken by celery. Being the polite and well mannered individual that I am I always thanked her for dinner and told her how delicious it was. It was a vicious cycle because I was trying to do the right thing and show my gratitude for her cooking dinner while nearly gagging on this cannelloni and here JC is thinking ‘wow she must really love this cannelloni, I must cook it again next time’. It took about three years until I finally came clean that I really didn’t like JC’s cannelloni and it turns out that JC thought that the Pumpkin Risotto that I had cooked for her and her husband one night was equally disgusting. This was about seven years ago and I like to think that my risotto making skills have significantly improved. There you go – an insight into the impact that cannelloni has had in my life and something that JC and I still joke about. She reckons she will give me the recipe one day so I can cook it myself. Yay.
GH (my brothers girlfriend) thought her cannelloni was delicious, although she may have been being polite also. From closer inspection by me it looked like there was no onion or capsicum lurking in her dinner. The Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni was fresh pasta tubes filled with ricotta and spinach, oven baked in a Napoli sauce and served with basil, garlic and cream sauce for AU$15.40 for a main. It was a large serve and she couldn’t finish it all, hence why I said my brother finished it off when he didn’t want to eat his.
Next up was my mum and dad’s pizza was a Margherita Pizza – large size with fresh tomato slices on a tomato and mozzarella base topped with shaved parmesan and baked in the oven for AU$13.90. Hmmm, well, it was probably the worst pizza I have ever had whilst dining out. Except for a Hawaiian Pizza that I had in Phuket. You don’t order Western food in Asia IMO. Always stick to the local cuisine whatever that may be. This pizza that mum and dad had ordered tasted like a McCain’s pizza and a crappy one at that. The base was thick and hard like cardboard, the cheese tasted like plastic and the other toppings were so flavourless that only half of the pizza actually got eaten and that was more out of curiosity by the people at the rest of the table than anything else. It was truly horrible and how you could stuff a pizza up this bad was beyond me – even the human Labrador didn’t want it. I suspect it had been pulled straight from a box in the freezer.
Mum and dad also ordered a Puttanesca – the same as me – but mum changed the Fettuccine to normal pasta. She thought that the pasta was undercooked and didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. I wouldn’t exactly give them any points for presentation either. It just looked like all the meals had been slopped into their respective dish with no care really taken, not even a sprinkling of parsley around the edge (that’s a joke).
So there you go – our family dinner at Fasta Pasta wasn’t exactly a memorable one, not that we really expected it to be. I was hoping for a quick, tasty meal to cap off my week so I could go home and sit on the couch in my undies. I know that Fasta Pasta is a family restaurant and it is busy because of the fact that you can feed your whole family for between AU$50 and AU$100 – not to mention the friendly service from guy taking your orders at the counter. Another thing is that it’s also nice and loud in there so the kids can scream and do what they do and I doubt anyone would batt and eyelid. But… that doesn’t excuse the way our meals were staggered to arrive at our table over about a 20 minute period. I must admit it put a sour taste in our mouth pretty much from the get go. And that pizza! WTF?! The food at Fasta Pasta definitely represents good value for money however it’s not difficult to bring all the meals out at once so everyone can eat together! It might be good value but it certainly ain’t fast.
68-72 Shields Street, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4041 0388
Opening Hours: 7 days 11.30am – 3pm, Sun – Thurs 5pm – 10pm, Sat & Sun 5pm – 11pm
Last Sunday I took my little bro (AW) out for dinner for a bite to eat and a bit of sisterly advice since the whole finishing school/starting real life thing seemed to be getting to him a little bit. After a bit of thought I decided on Corea Corea since it was in town and convenient to where we already were in the city. We headed up the escalators at Orchid Plaza and I was taken aback by just how many people were upstairs. I figured that they must be all spread out along the top floor at the different eateries that are up there but on closer inspection Corea Corea was the only one open. There was about 100 people or more there for Corea Corea on a Sunday night. I couldn’t believe it. And what’s more there was even a line of about 10 to 15 people deep. Not to be put off, we weren’t in a hurry so we headed to the back of the queue which seemed to be moving quickly.
The five minutes or so that we waited in the queue gave us ample time to decide on what we wanted to order from the large menu behind the counter. When we got to the front I asked AW to go and find a table to which he managed to find one up on the decking in the actual restaurant part of Corea Corea. A lot of other people were seated out in the Food Court waiting for or eating their meals. I waited at the counter a couple of minutes while the wait staff sorted themselves out watching them all frantically running around like chooks with their heads cut off as my nana would have said. And when I say running I literally mean ‘running’. One waiter in particular was bringing dishes out to various tables and virtually sprinting back to the kitchen to keep up with the demand. By this stage a man had come to the counter to serve me, I asked him if they were normally this busy to which he replied “most of the time”. Again I was surprised because I do go to Orchid Plaza quite a bit but have never seen it this busy, although I tend to go during the day.
I ordered a Spicy Chicken Pot (AU$13.95) for AW and while I was tempted to order the Charcoal Grilled Beef Ribs (AU$21.95) I had a bit of a craving for noodles so I went with the Spicy Cold Noodle (AU$13.95) instead. The prices at Corea Corea are hardly going to break the bank with only two items on the menu over AU$15.95. I took a seat at our table with the number I had been allocated and we waited for our meals to arrive. In the meantime I gave AW some advice on home, Mum, Dad, our sister, money, work, girls (one in particular), mother in-laws (one in particular), exercise and the future. That took about 5 minutes and then our meals arrived. Nah jokes, it took a little longer than that. Our meals arrived one after the other, firstly my Spicy Cold Noodle with a little container of Kimchi, a bowl of Miso Soup and a smaller container of what I am assuming was lemon juice. It looked like lemon juice and it tasted like lemon juice so let’s just call it lemon juice. Then AW’s Spicy Chicken Pot came out sizzling hot in its own little black pot. I seriously reckon that the Chef’s and the wait staff must burn themselves so damn much working with those things. I know I would seeing as how clumsy I am.
I dug into my Spicy Cold Noodle pretty much straight away although the Spicy Chicken Pot was so damn hot that AW couldn’t start eating it for a good 20 minutes when I was pretty much finished mine. The Cold Noodles (there was even ice cubes in there – maybe they should call it Icy Cold Noodles) were exactly what I needed on such a hot night and I ordered them not only because they taste awesome but also because I didn’t feel like sweating my ring out with something as searingly hot as a Korean Pot. The noodles are really long and a little hard to bite through making it difficult to swallow mouthfuls. I tend to end up with half of them down my throat and the other half in my mouth trying not to choke. Gee these Spicy Cold Noodles sound delicious don’t they. I have eaten them at Corea Corea before and they gave me a pair of kitchen scissors with my utensils assumedly to cut the noodles into more bite size friendly pieces. Maybe they had run out scissors this time around but I managed just fine. Don’t let that put you off especially if you love chilli and noodles like I do because these noodles are damn good! I love the julienned bits of cucumber over the top with the chilli. There also half a hard-boiled egg, a slice of beef and a bit diced chilli on top for decoration. I poured the ‘lemon juice’ over the top since that is what I am assuming you are supposed to do with it. Again my Spicy Noodle Bowl is a really yummy dish and I enjoyed it immensely.
It is pretty hard to have a big pot of yummy food sitting in front of you that you can’t eat because it’s too hot and after about 20 minute’s of burning himself with small bits of rice and chicken AW’s Spicy Chicken Pot had finally cooled down enough to actually eat it properly. On the top there was a generous amount of shredded cabbage and underneath a yummy mix of rice, chicken and veggies. The only problem is that because the whole mixture is sitting in the pot sizzling for such a long time it gets stuck to the bottom of the pot and gets a bit crunchy. I personally think that is the best part of the whole dish and AW seemed to agree while MS thought it was gross when I dined there with him once but who listens to him anyway (just kidding my love). AW practically inhaled his Spicy Chicken Pot when he realised it was cool enough to eat and seems he has developed a few family habits, not even leaving a grain of rice behind (I do the same and so does our dad). You could call us gutses but I just reckon we like our food.
Corea Corea is certainly a bit of a favourite haunt for locals and tourists in Cairns. Again the place is ridiculously busy for such a little place in the middle of a seemingly barren food court that most tourists probably only stumble across. I’m not sure that I agree with the statement on the Orchid Plaza website (apparently Orchid Plaza has ‘World Renowned Multi Cultural Eateries’) but what used to be a sleepy two storey shopping centre that was mainly just used as a way of getting from Abbott Street to Lake Street or vice versa has re-awakened and it’s a great place to go if you are looking for a Asian meal for lunch or dinner. My only problem with my dinner that night is that I had a bit of an upset stomach the next day. I could blame the chilli but since I’m half Sri Lankan chilli isn’t really a problem for me. AW didn’t seem to have a problem but that is probably because his meal was cooked in a hot-pot in ridiculously high temperatures (sort of on par with the temperatures Cairns has been experiencing lately). I’m not saying that it was the Spicy Cold Noodles but I am not saying that it wasn’t. I do sometimes question the cleanliness of Orchid Plaza as a whole with its open food court and birds roosting above so having sizzling hot meals that you can’t eat for the first 20 minutes can only be a good thing. Still like I said we both enjoyed our meals along with half of Cairns, the food tasty and cheap, and even though I may sometimes question the hygiene of such a place, like The Lillipad Cafe, it hasn’t stopped me going back again and again.
Shop 32, 79 Abbott St, Orchid Plaza, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4031 6655
Opening Hours: 7 days Lunch 11am – 4pm, Dinner 6pm – 9pm
New on the scene on the corner of Shields and Abbott Street in the Cairns CBD is Frydays Fish and Chippery which has been open for a few weeks now. Driving along Abbott Street it’s a little hard not to notice the bright blue neon signs advertising the new eatery. After driving around and around for a park early last week so I could grab some groceries from Woolies I ended up finding a park near Frydays and went over to have a look at their menu. The menu at Frydays Fish and Chippery is pretty much stock standard for what you would normally find at a Fish and Chip shop with a few more gourmet options like Sweet Potato Chips and Tempura Batter thrown in. There is everything from burgers to salads to Coconut Crumbed Prawns with over 10 different types of sauce to choose from including Nahm Jim and Goats Cheese Aioli (yum!). The prices on the menu at Frydays are also very reasonable and it’s nice to see somewhere not charging through the roof just because of their location.
Looking for somewhere to grab a quick dinner before I flew out for work last Friday and so I didn’t have to rely on the ‘Curry or the Pasta’ on the plane MS and I went to Frydays. We went in for dinner at about 6.30pm, just in time to catch all the bats leaving for the evening much to the delight of the tourists. The corner of Abbott and Shields Street is a very busy corner and certainly a prime position for a Fish and Chip Shop, although obviously not a prime position for just any cafe since the last two (Harry’s and some New York Pizza place didn’t last very long). MS and I sat down at one of the communal type benches on the Abbott Street side of Frydays and had a look over the menus. MS had whinged and complained that he didn’t want to go somewhere with greasy food for dinner but since it was my so called ‘last supper’ he didn’t really have a choice.
In the end he found something on the menu that he wanted and I went up to the counter to order – Two pieces of Spanish Mackerel with Tempura Batter (AU$8 each), two serves of Sweet Potato Chips (AU$5 each) and a ‘Tasty Tempter’ of Lemon and Parmesan Herb Crumbed Calamari (AU$9.50) with some Garlic Aioli for MS and some Cocktail Sauce for me. In the end it came to just over AU$36 which I thought was fairly reasonable. The guy that served me at the counter was helpful and friendly and I noticed about 5 or 6 staff in the back. The place looks to be pretty much entirely run by backpackers and although the owners are locals they weren’t anywhere to be seen. I sat back down at our communal table and noticed a couple of American tourists at the table next to us, a backpacker waiting for his takeaway at the end of our table and a couple of locals (I think) sitting at a small table on the Shield Street side.
After about five minutes a waitress bought out a glass of ice with a can of Coke for MS and then about five minutes later our food arrived – each fillet served on a bamboo cutting board alongside the a bowl of Sweet Potato Chips with a small bowl of green salad. The Lemon and Parmesan Herb Crumbed Calamari came out on a separate board inside a small deep fryer serving basket, a super cute way of serving it. On the side was the small dish of Tartare Sauce and another small bowl of green salad.
Firstly, I noticed that both of our Mackerel fillets had the wrong batter. The batter that we had on our fish was more like the other option of Beer Batter rather than the light and crisp Tempura Batter that we had ordered. It was thick and greasy, as you would expect Beer Batter to be but we didn’t take it back since we were pushed for time with me having to fly out in the next hour. It was nice but like I said it was too greasy and I couldn’t finish all of my fish (I always finish my fish) since the grease filled me up too much. The Sweet Potato Chips were beautiful and sweet with just a slight crispness to them. Although I thought the serving size was a little bit small for AU$5 in the end I couldn’t finish them all anyway. The sauces that we ordered were stuffed up and instead we received one Tartare (so that meant we had two because one came with the Calamari) and one Garlic Aioli. I caught one of the waitresses attention as she walked past and off she went to fetch a small dish of Cocktail Sauce. She replaced a Tartare with the Cocktail Sauce and took away the extra Tartare. She could have at least left it. What if I had already dipped one of my chips in that spare Tartare? Was it going to someone else for them to dip their chips in it or down the drain? My guess is the first one.
The Calamari was lovely and tender with a really yummy Lemon and Parmesan Herb Crumb enveloped around it. Upon ordering at the counter I asked the guy serving me if it was local squid to which the other guy listening in the background replied that it wasn’t sourced in Cairns but it was indeed Australian squid. That’s all I wanted to know and I was more than happy with that answer. I thought that the serving size for the squid was very reasonable for AU$9.50 and although MS and I did our best to eat it all we couldn’t finish it. I think the fish took up just a little too much room in both of our stomachs. The one thing that I must comment on is the dire state of the three green salads served to us. Each of them looked like they had been sitting in the little bowls all day and looked very withered and tiresome. Neither MS or I touched our salads and I kind of got the feeling that we weren’t the only ones that hadn’t touched those particular salads on that particular day. I had a look at the salads in the window and there are a few other salads to choose from with your Fish and Chips like Potato Salad and Cous Cous Salad. I am pretty sure these ones cost extra which is why we just ended up with the plain old green salad (with an emphasis on old).
Despite the greasy fish and the ordinary salad I did actually enjoy my meal, MS however did not. He claimed that the food was too greasy. I tried to remind him that we did in fact just dine at a Fish and Chip shop so technically it was always going to be greasy. What does he know about tasty food anyway? Most of all I enjoyed the proximity of Frydays in relation to everything that was going on. It’s a great spot to people watch especially, as I said, in the early evening when the bats are flying over. Tourists really are absolutely captivated by them. I like the fresh and vibrant design of the place and the communal benches out the front (there are tables for those that don’t want to sit at a communal bench). The service was good although we did get asked by two waitstaff how everything was within about five minutes of each other. That will all iron out over time. I think with few minor tweaks with the food and service and the owners of Frydays Fish and Chippery are most certainly onto a winner. Up until Frydays turned up Cairns CBD was lacking in the fish and chip shop department so it’s opening can only mean good news for locals and tourists that enjoy a bit a fried food (I know I do).
Frydays Fish and Chippery
Cnr Shields and Abbott Streets, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4041 1918
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun 9am – 10pm
(^Yes I did use the same Dundee’s photo I have already used). After hearing a few people rate the Quick Lunch Menu at Dundee’s over the last twelve months or so I decided it was about time I gave it a go. I did vow to never go to Dundee’s again after a run of crappy dinners there for various friends birthdays but I figured lunch may be a different story. Another reason I hadn’t dined at Dundee’s for lunch until recently was because I expected the meals to be too small to satisfy my rather large hunger pangs (turns out I was right and wrong). Dundee’s have a $17.50 Quick Lunch Menu available from 11.30am till 4.30pm Mon – Fri, $21.95 Sat & Sun. The whole 5 hours, 7 days a week thing is certainly something I must commend them on since most Cairns lunch specials are only available Monday to Friday and up until around 2.30pm. I almost always manage to miss the 2-2.30pm cutoff for lunch so MS and I end up scouting around for somewhere to have a late lunch sometimes ending up at the Crepe place at Cairns Central because we are out of ideas (or Crape as they like to spell it). Since my first Quick Lunch at Dundee’s just before Christmas I have dined there another two times for lunch. I’ll explain the reasoning for that a little bit later…
My first lunch date was with my ex boyfriend’s parents BC and JC whom I have remained close with since my relationship with NC ended just over 5 years ago. Some people might think it’s a little weird that I still ‘hang out’ with my ex’s parents on occasion but I don’t really mind because the relationship ended on good terms and I also think they are cool to hang out with – NC now lives in Perth and no we don’t keep in touch. On the plus side MS doesn’t seem to mind either however he does find it a little odd that BC and JC want to have us over for dinner one night. Something we are yet to do but fine with me since JC cooks the best goddamn Steak Diane I have ever had. Enough about my ex and let’s talk about Dundee’s.
So BC, JC and I ended up at Dundee’s on a Saturday afternoon for lunch. We walked in and took up a seat near the back of the restaurant. One of the female waitresses came over and poured us some water and handed out some menu’s while we chatted. There is a selection of 11 dishes to choose from in total with pretty much something for everyone from Pasta, to Seafood to Steak Burgers and Salads. I must admit I was quite happy with the menu and there was certainly more than one dish that I wanted to try. I do however think that there were too many Pasta Dishes on the menu with 5 out the 11 dishes being pasta. I guess it is a ‘Quick Lunch’ menu and what’s quicker to whip up than pasta? BC decided to go with the Steak Burger – Char Grilled Rib Fillet, Fresh Grated Beetroot, Roma Tomato, Balsamic Onion, Swiss Cheese, Lettuce and Paw Paw Chutney in a Toasted Turkish Roll with Chips and Smokey BBQ Sauce. JC went with the Fish and Chips with Aioli Dipping Sauce and although I really wanted Chips and Bread with my lunch I figured since Christmas was only a few days away I would choose a less stodgy option so I went for the Calamari Rocket and Apple Salad which was Calamari Coated in Dundee’s Special Seasoning, Lightly Fried and Served with Tom Yum Mayo and Rocket and Shredded Apple Salad. Prior to ordering this I asked the waitress if the Calamari was local to which she replied that she didn’t know but she would find out. She returned not long after and assured me that the Calamari was indeed local squid. Ok then.
BC, JC and I continued chatting away after our lunch orders were taken whilst exchanging Christmas and birthday gifts (I had celebrated my 21st birthday only a few days before, haha). After about 15 minutes another waitress returned to confirm our order because apparently it had been confused with someone else’s. She assured us that our meals were not too far away. We waited about another 10 minutes and our meals finally arrived. So much for the whole ‘Quick Lunch Special’. Maybe they ought to change it to simply the ‘Lunch Special’? (Sorry about the shitty photos in the post. They either turned out crap or I forgot to take them altogether).
So onto the food… I was extremely surprised at the size of the lunches placed in front of us. BC’s Steak Burger and Chips was huge and looked absolutely delicious giving me a pang of food jealousy. The Onion Rings on top looked so good I was hoping he would offer me one but he didn’t *sad face*.JC’s Fish and Chips was also very large with Crispy Golden Pieces of Battered Fish presented ever so stylishly in a wire rack on top of a large serving of Golden Chips. My Calamari and Rocket Salad was also very large. So much for the small lunch serves that I was expecting because these serving sizes were almost too big but in a good way… My tender Calamari was piled high on my plate next to a delicious crisp Rocket and Apple salad. It was some of the best Calamari I have eaten in a very long time! The three of us really enjoyed our meals and I couldn’t fault any of it except for a few minor mishaps with the service. We finished our meals and said our goodbyes after a good 1.5 hours of chatting and I went home to MS and told him how I couldn’t wait to take him there. Lunch #2
The next time around MS, myself and my good friend MD who was visiting for Christmas from Brisbane went to Dundee’s for lunch on Boxing Day after I had talked it up to the two of them. We arrived to a pretty much empty restaurant and were seated by a very friendly young man that seemed pleased that he had a group of English speaking diners. Apparently Christmas Day had been a very busy day for Dundee’s especially for Chinese and Japanese diners. I asked if there would be a surcharge on our bill since it was a Public Holiday to which the waiter replied that there wasn’t. Something I was most surprised about and apparently they don’t have Public Holiday Surcharges any time of the year. Nice.
We all had a look over the menu and MS being true to form with his current phase of ‘bulking’ or as I call it ‘his excuse to eat whatever the hell he wants’s ordered a pasta dish. He ordered the Bacon and Mushroom Linguine which was Sauteed Bacon, Mushroom and Baby Spinach in a White Wine and Creamy Sauce Finished with Green Eschallots. He ordered Chicken with it as well and was told by the waiter that it would be an extra $5 for chicken. Hmm I guess that is reasonable.
MD, feeling just as crap as me with our post Christmas physique’s, went for a more healthier option and ordered the Roast Sweet Potato and Artichoke Salad from the Entree section of the Main Menu with an extra of Chicken as well. The Roast Sweet Potato and Artichoke Salad came with Red Peppers, Bocconcini and Baby Spinach coated with a light dressing and Toasted Pine Nuts for AU$17.50 (the same as the Quick Lunch Menu but then with an added AU$5 for the chicken).
After overlooking it the last time I dined at Dundee’s with BC and JC and developing a bit of a penchant for Baby Octopus at a pre Christmas BBQ I decided to order the Octopus Salad – BBQ Marinated Octopus tossed in a salad of Sweet Onions, Roast Red Pepper, Black Olives and Wild Rocket with Crumbled Feta. I swapped the Roast Red Pepper for Sundried Tomato since Capsicum is another item on the short list of things that I don’t like to eat along with Celery and (sometimes) Onion. While we waited for our meals to arrive we made small talk about the Boxing Day bargains that MD and I had bought with our Christmas Gift Cards and how our dedication to being at Cairns Central at 8.30am had paid off and meant that we weren’t caught up in the horrendous Boxing Day crowds, particularly at Myer. We also had a laugh about all the silly girls waiting in huge lines to try on clothes in the Miss Shop area while just across the way MD and I had free reign over the children’s dressing rooms with arm fulls of clothes to try on.
There weren’t many people dining at Dundee’s on Boxing Day so we got our meals fairly quickly, only about 10-15 minutes of waiting. Our meals arrived and I could tell that my two dining companions weren’t impressed with the food that I had talked up over the last few days. MS’ Bacon and Mushroom Linguine just looked like it had been slopped into the bowl. The linguine was overcooked, the presentation was poor and MS wasn’t sure if there was even extra chicken in the dish. After careful inspection and calling over the waiter he was assured that yes there was chicken in there somewhere. A little disappointing considering he paid an extra $5 for it. He did eat the whole thing but said it was pretty disappointing.MD’s Roast Sweet Potato and Artichoke Salad was ridiculously small with her loudly questioning how small it would have been if she hadn’t ordered the extra chicken to go with it. I tended to agree with her and although it did sound nice on the menu I was glad I didn’t order it. Though in Dundee’s defense she did order it from the Entree Menu. MD ate her salad but I could tell that she wasn’t happy and I felt bad that I had suggested to go to Dundee’s in the first place. My Octopus Salad was at the opposite end of the scale and I really enjoyed it. There was plenty of Octopus in the Salad, something I was a little wary of when ordering it. The salad was crisp with just the right amount of dressing, nice juicy sundried tomatoes and the sweet onions really topped it off. Well that’s 1 out of 3 meals that were good however my other two dining companions were not so happy with my meal and I think MD was starting to wonder if I really knew anywhere good to eat in town at all since our last lunch date at Mondo a few weeks before was truly disgusting. Lunch #3
The week after Christmas my mum, sister and a friend of ours went to Dundee’s for lunch after a suggestion from me. Mum wanted to go to Splash but I really wanted to test the waters again and try and get a final yay or nay with my so far 1 for 1 lunches at Dundee’s. We grabbed a table for four and had a look over the menu’s. Our friend VF being a non adventurous diner decided to order the Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli while my mum ordered the Cajun Ocean Trout – Ocean Trout Spiced with Cajun Spice on a Wild Rocket, Avocado, Tomato and Red Onion Salad with Dill Creme Fraiche Dressing. My sister (TW) ordered the Calamari Rocket and Apple Salad that I had a couple of lunches ago and I ordered the Roast Duck Spring Rolls – Shredded Roast Duck, Rice Noodles and Mixed Julienne Vegetables Rolled in Spring Roll Pastry with Chilli, Lime and Coriander Dipping Sauce and Asian Coleslaw.
Dundee’s was unsurprisingly busy for lunch time on a Friday but our meals arrived relatively quickly and all together which is always nice. My mum was instantly disappointed at the size of her Cajun Ocean Trout. It was so small that she contemplated taking it back but then decided that she would just eat it. (My mum’s New Years resolution should be to speak up for herself). In the end she enjoyed her Trout and decided that it was indeed enough for lunch although she wasn’t the slightest bit full however after finishing off my side of Asian Salad she was a lot more content.To my right I noticed just how small TW’s Calamari, Rocket and Apple Salad was. It was nothing like the one that I had eaten only about a week earlier. There was only half the amount of squid and half the amount of salad that I had on my plate when I had ordered it. TW was no doubt disappointed with the size of her meal as was I. Although I did breathe a sigh of relief that I didn’t order it and went with the Spring Rolls. She enjoyed the squid and the salad but she wanted more. VF’s Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli was a generous serve of fluffy pillows full of ricotta-y goodness and swimming in Napoli Sauce, just like any pasta should be. I was hoping that she would offer me a taste but alas she did not so I just had to sit and watch while inhaling the sweet smell of my friends lunch across the table. Again, I really enjoyed my lunch. The Duck Spring Rolls were crisp and golden and the dipping sauce was perfectly suited. I cut TW off half of a Spring Roll to try and her response was ‘That’s really good’, and she was right but I don’t think they actually tasted like duck nor did I really see any evidence of duck inside. I ate half of the generous serve of Asian Slaw on the side while my mum still starving from her Cajun Trout polished off the rest. I was so eager to eat my lunch that I actually failed to get a photo of my Roasted Duck Spring Rolls. Whoops.
That’s two out of two meals that were disappointing on conclusion of my third lunch within a couple of weeks at Dundee’s. I wrote about my experience on Trip Advisor under the ‘guise’ of foodvixen around a week ago, along with about 13 other restaurants in Cairns. I was inboxed the next day from the Dundee’s Managing Director apologising for my bad dining experience and offering me a Gift Voucher to make up for it. If I accepted she wanted to know the date of when I would be dining there so she could follow through with the ‘front line staff’. I wrote back and pretty much said thanks but no thanks. It was a nice offer but I wasn’t going to accept a Gift Voucher to dine at Dundee’s again although my sister said she was happy to accept it on my behalf (sorry TW not this time). Also, the front line staff should be up to standard any day and every day not just the day that they were expecting me. It was a nice gesture though.
I dined at Dundee’s for lunch three separate times over two weeks during the Christmas period and each time my fellow diners were left disappointed with their meals. I noticed a total lack of consistency each time between the meals that were served particularly in regards to the serving size. The service still continues to be well below par with up to four waitresses/waiters serving you at once – resulting in our order being misplaced on the first occasion and the staff knowing little to nothing about the food being served by the restaurant they are working in. After my first lunch at Dundee’s a few days before Christmas I was super impressed with the meals and the value for money that the Quick Lunch Special offered so much so that I took my two friends for lunch only a few days later. As a result I was left disappointed and annoyed that I took them there. The third occasion was as I said ‘just to make sure’ it wasn’t all a fluke and to be honest, it seems all a bit hit and miss to me. Some days are good, some days are bad, some meals are good and some meals are bad. I want to like Dundee’s I really do but unfortunately I am going to have a hard time convincing my lunch buddies to go there again.
Dundee’s Restaurant on the Waterfront
*Quick lunch specials $17.95 Mon – Fri, $21.95 Sat, Sun and Public Holidays 11.30am – 4.30pm*
Cairns Harbour Lights, 1 Marlin Pde, Cairns QLD 4870
Opening Hours: Lunch 11.30am – 4.30pm, Dinner from 5.30pm till late
Ph: (07) 4051 0399
Yum! Can’t go wrong with lunch at Hanuman at the Hilton! The food was delicious, the service was excellent and the view of the Hilton’s manicured gardens and Trinity Inlet is second to none (unless of course you are dining downstairs at Mondo where the view is the only thing worth going for).
34 The Esplanade, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4052 6786
Opening Hours: Lunch Mon – Fri 12pm – 2.30pm, Dinner 7 nights 6pm till late
A couple of weeks ago my new-to-Cairns friend Baking Myself Happy and I went for dinner at a place that I spotted when I popped into First Choice Liquor for a bottle of wine. After seeing what looked like a new Asian restaurant I sauntered over to check it out, peering inside to find a busy little Korean restaurant that I have never seen nor heard of before called The Asia Bar and Restaurant. Situated right underneath Bohemian Central Backpackers I was eager to check it out so I enlisted BMH to come to dinner with me so we could catch up and I could hear about her recent trip to Thailand. As it turns out BMH had never had Korean food before but said she would love to try it. We arrived together and parked in the First Choice Liquor carpark right near a lovely man that upon closer inspection was peeing on the wall. He didn’t seem to notice us as we walked past but I sure as hell noticed him – filthy man. Do not let my observations of this drunken individual deter you from visiting this delightful little restaurant since unfortunately this appears to be a regular sight in Cairns.
So we headed on into The Asia and found there wasn’t a vacant seat in the entire place which probably seats around 30 people. We also noticed that besides one other person we were the only non-Korean people in there. We both figured that any place that is full of traditional diners has to be good so we waited about 5 minutes for a table to be free and sat down. I have to admit it was a very awkward 5 minutes because we were not acknowledged nor spoken to by any of the wait staff. This didn’t deter us and after the waitress wiped down the table she handed us a couple of menus to have a look over before fetching us a bottle of water and a couple silver cups that made the ice cold water go down nicely.
We both ummed and ahhed over the menu and although everything on the menu sounded good there just wasn’t anything that particularly grabbed me. All except the Ttukbaegi Jjamppong Bap or as I like to call it Chinese-Style Earthen Pot with Vegetables and Seafood and Cellophane Noodles with Rice. Unfortunately for me this dish was only available on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Alas, I was a day late. In the end we both settled with the Bulgogi Deopbap or the Rice Topped with Beef for a mere AU$11. Can’t argue with that! I also ordered some Japanese Pickle to go with my dish – a steal for only AU$1!
While we waited BMH recounted wondrous stories of private plunge pools and endless amounts of Som Tum in Thailand. There were also not so wondrous stories of her nearly getting eaten alive by monkey’s on Monkey Beach near Phi Phi. When I went to Monkey Beach I didn’t get off the damn boat. I never liked monkey’s you can’t trust them and they also scare the sh*t out of me. While waiting for our main meals the waitress brought over the Japanese Pickle that I ordered along with a small dish of Kimchi (a traditional fermented Korean dish that tastes much nicer than it sounds). We only waited about 10 to 15 minutes for our meals to arrive and when they did they really weren’t too much to look at. To me all it looked like was some Beef and Veggies on top of some rice with a bit of salad on the side. Well maybe that is why it’s called Rice topped with Beef? D’uh.
Anyway turns out we were actually both pleasantly surprised with our meals despite their appearance. Okay the meals didn’t look bad just super boring I guess. The beef was really tender with a slightly sweet flavour to it. It was quite delicious! I added a bit of Kimchi to mine to give it a little bit more spice although there is a tray on each table with spices and sauces for you to add your own if you like. The serving size was quite large, almost too large for me to finish even though I picked all the onion out of it (I’m a sook, I know). The addition of the wedge of orange on the side was a nice touch to cleanse the palate at the end of the meal (at least that’s what I think it was for).
So it turns out that BMH really enjoyed her introduction to Korean food and I enjoyed introducing her. I would really love to go back on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday and try the ‘Chinese Earthen Pot’ or maybe even the Spicy Sausage Stew with Rice which is AU$25 for two people. The food was really yummy and cheap too costing only AU$25 for the two of us. The Asia is a little bit loud with the conversations of other diner’s being a little bit deafening at times. BMH and I did have trouble hearing parts of each others conversation so that we had to resort to the old smile and nod every now and then. Unless you are planning on an intimate dinner don’t let that deter you. The atmosphere at The Asia is a lot nicer than another popular Korean restaurant in Cairns, Corea Corea at Orchid Plaza and a hell of a lot cleaner too. The Asia Bar and Restaurant is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before a catching movie in the city. That’s if you can get a table.
The Asia Bar and Restaurant
100 Sheridan St, Cairns QLD 4870 (underneath the Bohemian Central Backpackers)
Ph: 0407 974 338
Opening Hours: Mon, Wed & Thurs 5pm – 10pm, Fri & Sat 5pm – 12pm, Sun 5pm – 10pm
A few weeks ago after a couple of laps of the good old Red Arrow with two of my girlfriends we stopped in for coffee at relatively new Edge Hill Cafe, Ozmosis. Ozmosis is halfway down Collins Avenue between overrated and overpriced cafe The Edge and the Botanical Gardens. Ozmosis offers Modern European food at very reasonable prices in a laid-back friendly but urbane atmosphere. At the moment they are only open for breakfast and lunch but they have plans to open for dinner in the near future hence their inclusion in the 2013 Edition of the Table 52 cards. The cafe itself is fresh and vibrant with a slightly bare interior (I actually prefer the non-cluttered look). The large wooden windows open out onto the pathway where the dining is allowing for a very open aired dining experience and certainly helps if you need to get one of the waitstaff’s attention. Anyway so we stopped in for a coffee, well I did, my two friends got a juice each instead. While we were sitting and having a chat I had a look over the menu and although we had all decided that we weren’t sitting down for breakfast at the time I did spot a couple of items on the menu for both breakfast and lunch that I simply had to come back and try. As luck would have it some other friends of mine, MB and AA, wanted to go somewhere for lunch to catch up that weekend so I suggested Ozmosis. We met up at Ozmosis on a Sunday afternoon while the love of my life (MS) was off galavanting with the other woman in his life (his motorbike).
When we arrived at about 12.30pm the restaurant was about half full with people sipping their cappucinos and reading the Sunday Mail. The waitress brought us out some glasses of water and a jug with a couple of menus for us to peruse. I already knew what I was having thanks to my coffee break earlier in the week and a bit of snooping on Ozmosis’ Facebook page. After about half an hour of catch up chatter and numerous polite requests from waitstaff to take our order (AA can really talk!) AA and MB chose a dish and we ordered our lunch. AA ordered the Ozmosis Beef Burger with Provolone, Tomato Relish, Green Pickle and Handcut Chips for AU$17 while MB decided on the Panko and Paprika Crumbed Schnitzel with Spicy Slaw and Seeded Mustard for AU$16. AA and MB also ordered Toasted Flatbreads with Smoked Aubergine, Beetroot, Horseradish and Olives for AU$9 from the Starter Menu for the three of us to share. I was almost swayed by the Marinated Beets, Toasted Walnuts, Quark and Watercress Salad for AU$13 but in the end after my massive rant about the lack of decent Mexican food in Cairns I went for the Soft Shell Taco with Prawn, Black Bean and Herbed Sour Cream for AU$16. I asked for rocket on my taco since if you read this blog regularly then you know that I am not a fan of iceberg lettuce. I have no idea if iceberg lettuce was even to be included on the taco in the first place but having learnt my lesson far too many times I got in first.
After about 10 minutes the Toasted Flatbreads arrived which I managed to get a photo of but only after MB had jumped in for a taste. Lucky for her we managed to re-position everything and get a quick photo before we tucked in. The bread itself didn’t resemble any type of flatbread that I have had before, bit more like a non-flat bread. The Flatbread (or was it?) was lightly toasted and out of the three dips the Beetroot was the one that we all thought was the nicest. It was a very decent serving size and we didn’t get to finish it all before out lunch order arrived.
All the meals were beautifully presented as they were set down in front of us by the slightly clumsy waitress. It turns out that although a bread board might be an innovative and trendy way to present a burger it isn’t exactly practical because the items on top just want to slide right off. Something that I am sure the waitstaff have become most familiar with. As AA tucked into his meal I eyed off the green pickles laid out on top of his burger bun. I love the fact that pickles have made a come back! No more are they doomed to being thrown on McDonald’s windows from people picking them off their cheeseburgers, but instead they are now being re-introduced to menu’s in all their tasty glory – and so they should be! AA enjoyed his burger and also commented on the fact that he loved inclusion of the pickles. AA said that the only drawback of his Ozmosis Beef Burger was that the beef pattie was very under-seasoned and just tasted like a big lump of meat. Also I am little suspicious of their handcut chips, which didn’t look at all handcut to me.
Next up was MB’s Panko and Paprika Crumbed Schnitzel which arrived with the inclusion of fries although the menu didn’t state that fries were included. MB said that the golden Panko and Paprika crumbing was light and crunchy. Come to think of it I actually have no idea what type of meat was in the Schnitzel, I am assuming it was pork but it wasn’t written on the menu at all. The powers that be at Ozmosis might need to consider including that information for the uneducated people like me. I did notice that MB ate the Schnitzel and the fries however she all barely touched the Spicy Slaw. Probably because there was no dressing on it whatsoever. It was basically just chopped up cabbage and carrot. It wasn’t spicy like written on the menu. I’m also not quite sure what happened to the Seeded Mustard (also stated on the menu) but MB got a small serve of Tomato Relish on the side (not stated on the menu). MB said that she liked her dish although she didn’t think it was anything to write home about and it looked pretty darn boring to me.
Lastly was my Soft Shell Taco with Prawns. I had been looking forward to this dish since I had spied it on the menu a few days before. Again, although not stated on the menu this dish also came with fries. Something that I was a little annoyed about seeing as I chose the taco over a couple of other items because I wanted a relatively healthy lunch. It’s nice to have a bit of extra stuff included in your meal that you are not expecting I guess (depending on what it is) but I just didn’t want chips with my ‘healthy’ lunch. What’s that you say? I didn’t have to eat them? Pfft, as if. Each taco had three prawns delicately placed on it with Rocket and the Black Beans. I smeared a bit of Herbed Sour Cream on the Tacos, picked one up in my hands and took a bite. The taco was tasteless. The Herbed Sour Cream gave the taco absolutely no depth and the semi crushed Black Beans underneath the rocket didn’t help the situation. The whole thing just tasted very bland and I think maybe they were relying on the subtle flavour of the prawns to shine through but to be honest the prawns were so damn bland that I actually think they were farmed prawns. I have to say that I was really, really disappointed with my Soft Shell Taco. Traditionally, tacos have salsa on them to give them a bit more of a zesty flavour or maybe just any flavour. I think this dish would be a lot better if salsa was included or even some diced tomato but right now I’m giving my Soft Shell Taco with Prawn’s a thumbs down.
We finished up our meals, paid our bill and left and although that the service we received was both friendly and attentive, the food just wasn’t up to scratch. Maybe my expectations were too high. I vowed that I would return for breakfast in the coming weeks and give that a go…
A couple of weeks later MS and I returned to Ozmosis for breakfast. He was wanting to go out for breakfast and actually suggested to me that we go there since he had to listen to me ramble on about my disappointing Prawn Taco. We arrived to an almost full cafe with all the tables on the deck full as well as the ones on the footpath. All except the one right in front of the window to the coffee machine so we sat down and the waitress brought us some menus. While we had a look over the menu I spied the clumsy but very sweet waitress that had served AA, MB and I only a couple of weeks before. Seems the two weeks waiting on tables had done her a world of good because she was a lot more skilled and confident at waitressing. Good for her! I for one would make a terrible waitress (far too clumsy).
MS chose the Buttermilk Pancake Stack with Ricotta, Caramelised Apple and Canadian Maple for AU$13 with a side of Streaky Bacon for AU$4. I was tossing up between the Crushed Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Quark and Preserved Lemon on Sourdough for AU$9 or the Smoked Salmon, Horseradish Yogurt, Poached Egg, Grilled Rye and Burnt Butter Hollandaise for AU$14. In the end I went with the Smoked Salmon dish since I was hungry and I figured it would probably be a bit bigger than the Avocado one. While seated at our table both MS and I noticed quite a lot of flies flying in and out of the cafe. Since Ozmosis is an open air cafe with big wooden sliding windows there really is nothing to keep them out. They were everywhere on the counter behind the coffee machine where they were making the smoothies and I shudder to think what the kitchen was like. No doubt everything would be covered up (I hope) but it’s still a food prep area! I went in to order and pay at the counter and while I was in there I had a chat to one of the waitresses (potentially the owner) of Ozmosis about the flies and what they could do about them. I suggested a natural fly catcher out on the footpath to lure the flies outside and away from the food. Something had to be done but she seemed very blase about it all which I thought was pretty ignorant because I am sure I wasn’t the only one that noticed.
Anyway, we waited about 10 to 15 minutes for our meals to arrive with Flat White’s arriving in the meantime passed out the window by the bubbly barrister. There really was no point in bringing them all the way out when he was literally less that a metre behind me inside the open window. I did watch in interest the way that he carried coffee’s to other people’s tables, precisely balanced on three fingers. A mean feat in my book! The man certainly knows his way around a coffee machine because the coffee’s were delicious. MS’ Buttermilk Pancake Stack was as you would expect, a stack of three pancakes with some ricotta on top and a jug of Canadian Maple to drizzle over the top. We were shocked to find that the ‘Caramelised Apple’ was in fact five pieces of browning apple spaced evenly around MS’ pancakes. It hadn’t been ‘caramelised’ but merely cut up into bite sized pieces of apple.
His side of Streaky Bacon was a bit on the small side and barely took up the small dish that it was brought out on. MS said that the pancakes were nice but in the end he didn’t finish them all, which says a lot about his meal. He regretted his Buttermilk Pancake decision but overall MS was a disappointed with the lack of bacon he got with his meal.
My Smoked Salmon dish was yummy with perfectly poached eggs needing only a small poke from my fork to ooze their yolky goodness all over the Grilled Rye underneath. I did think that the serving of Smoked Salmon was also a tad on the small side, another slice would have been nice. The Horseradish Yogurt however was horrible. It tasted more like Vanilla Yogurt than Horseradish and was far too sweet to eat with my eggs and Smoked Salmon. Maybe they should stick with the Burnt Butter Hollandaise and omit the Horseradish Yogurt altogether because it certainly didn’t taste like Horseradish. I couldn’t eat it and left it on the side of my plate.
I know it’s early days but after two and a half rounds at Ozmosis I am a little disappointed with the food. The service is outstanding with a few minor hiccups at the beginning (to be expected) but these had been ironed out by the time MS and I went there for breakfast. The plethora of staff are super friendly, greeting you as you arrive and waving you off as you leave. They continue to top up your water throughout your meal and even come out to ask if there is anything more that you need. The food however, sounds a lot better on paper. When I first looked at the menu there was not a dish on it that I didn’t think sounded absolutely scrumptious and wanted to try. Unfortunately the food wasn’t as delicious as I had been hoping for. Nearly every meal that I had or my company had either had something missing or something extra that wasn’t included on the menu. I don’t know about you but I like to know what is coming out and I expect just that, nothing more, nothing less. The items on the menu at Ozmosis are very reasonably priced to a point where I was actually surprised that a cafe in that position (I mean Edge Hill) would charge so little for what to me sounded like trendy, fresh and innovative food (for Cairns anyway). Ozmosis has everything going for it and already serves as a popular breakfast and lunch spot in the heart of Edge Hill. If their dinner menu sounds as delicious as their breakfast and lunch menu then I’ll be there in a heartbeat. A few tweaks to the food that is currently being served and I think they definitely have a recipe for success.
1/116 Collins Ave, Edge Hill QLD 4870
Ph: 0409 624 355
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun 7am till 4pm
After recently discovering a penchant for Thai food and more specifically Pad Thai MS has been wanting to eat it more and more. I have no problem with that since Thai food is definitely one of my favourite cuisines (that and Japanese are probably tied for first). The other day while driving down Sheridan Street, deciding that we both wanted Thai food and wondering just where the hell we could get it at 3pm in the afternoon (seems eating a late lunch is becoming the norm for us). All the other places were closing up for the lunch trade and wouldn’t open up until dinner. That is, coincidently, when we both noticed Poemphun Thai on the other side of the road. Neither of us had ever seen it before but we took it as a sign and after a bit of a ‘u-ey’ we headed back to this newly discovered Thai place.
Poemphun Thai is located in the building where Little Italy used to be and then after that a Brazilian place that must not have lasted long because I didn’t actually notice it was there until it was closed down. We went in to have a look at the menu and it turns out that Poemphun Thai had only just opened up the day before. What luck for us! True to form and not the straying type MS ordered the Pad Thai Gai for AU$12.90 while I ordered the Som Tum (Paw Paw Salad) for AU$10.90 (medium heat). Although they do takeaway here we decided we would eat in since we weren’t in a rush to get home.
The kitchen is pretty much right in front of you at the counter and you can see the two Thai cooks in front of the flaming woks throwing the ingredients in as they go so you know that it’s fresh. The restaurant itself is a little dated but neat as a pin with cute little wooden booths to sit in and serviettes all folded up like a lotus flower and colourful plastic tablecloths. When we sat down to eat there was two other tables occupied in the little restaurant and while we waited for our food to arrive the waitress brought us out a jug of water and I had a look over the menu. The menu is very reasonably priced in fact I would go as far to say that it is some of the cheapest Thai food that I have seen in Cairns if not the cheapest (AU$12.90 for a Massaman Curry!). There are some delicious sounding dishes on the menu and I vowed that if the food was good we would return for Round 2 to try some other dishes.
We waited no longer than 10 minutes for our meals to arrive at our little wooden booth. MS’ Pad Thai came with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the top, a small pile of sugar (no doubt to sprinkle over the top to make it sweeter), a small pile of ground peanuts (in case you wanted more) and a small pile of chilli flakes. MS squeezed the lemon over the top, sprinkled on a bit of peanuts and sugar and just plain avoided the Chilli Flakes since he doesn’t like hot stuff (although he has come a long way since he met me and I opened his eyes to the wonders of food). He claims that this Pad Thai is the best one he has had to date. Better than the one at Orchid Plaza (Chilli Thai), better than the one at Lemon Tree (Main Street Arcade) and better than the one on Minnie St (J & L Takeaway and Minimart). That not to say much since it’s only 3 out of sh*tloads of Thai places in Cairns but this Pad Thai had everything going for it plus I tasted it and gave it the thumbs up as well.
My Som Tum was so damn good! It had all the right things tht Som Tum is supposed to have in it – Green Beans, Tomatoes and the perfect mix of Palm Sugar, Chilli and Fish Sauce. Mind you it was bloody hot but not too hot for my liking. I’m going to have to go against everything I have said in my previous post about Som Tum in Cairns and give this one the gong for Best Som Tum. Sorry Lemon Tree you guys are great but… This Som Tum just tasted so fresh and not pre-prepared at all. I ate up every last tasty morsel of that Paw Paw Salad right down to using a spoon to finish off the dressing.
We finished up our meals and made our way out to the car only to be followed out by the little Thai lady that owns the shop to thank us for eating at Poemphun Thai by clasping her hands together and bowing with a huge smile on her face. It was really lovely and made me even more happy that we had stopped in to have a look and in turn found some truly delicious Thai food.
About a week later MS and I found ourselves looking for a quick and early dinner and ended up back at Poemphun Thai for Round 2. MS ordered the Pad Thai (AU$12.90) again with the BBQ Pork for an entree for AU$6.50. I ordered a Thai Curry that I had already drooled when I read it on the menu on our first visit… the Pad Phed Moo (Dry Pork Curry) with Lean Pork, Stir-fried Red Chilli Paste, Coconut Milk, Green Peppercorns, Galangal and Fresh Basil for AU$12.90 or you can get Prawns for $14.90. A bargain if you ask me! Again we sat down at a little wooden booth and waited for our meals to arrive. This time there was a lot more people – some dining in and some coming in to pick up their takeaway. Seems that Poemphun Thai is already getting a little following of Thai-hards (I made a funny).
First up out came the BBQ Pork that MS ordered. Well he ordered it but he certainly wasn’t going to eat the whole thing by himself. There were four skewers of BBQ Pork in total and we both really enjoyed them. The Pork was super tender and flame grilled which gave it that yummy slightly charred taste. MS only problem was that he wanted more and didn’t think that it was a very big dish. I actually thought that it was very reasonably sized for an entree and pretty stock standard for a Thai restaurant, though some skewers were certainly bigger than others.
Again MS gobbled up his Pad Thai, making sure to avoid the Chilli Flakes. Same goes as what I already said about it his previous Pad Thai experience at Poemphun Thai, I’m not repeating it. He loved it and can’t wait to go back and get another one. My Pad Phed Moo or Dry Curry Pork, whatever you want to call it was superb. It wasn’t as dry as I was expecting from the name but then again it wasn’t swimming in sauce like a Massaman. Sort of in between I guess. The sauce was so yummy that I wished that I had ordered a bowl of Steamed Rice to mop it all up but alas this wasn’t part of my meal allowance. MS tasted it and although he liked it claimed that it was a little too spicy for him. I actually didn’t find it spicy at all so the only thing I can conclude from that is that he is just a big sissy. The Dry Curry Pork’s only downfall was that there was quite a lot of peppercorns in it still attached to the vine. I was a little unsure as to whether I was supposed to eat them or not. I erred on a side of caution and after nibbling on one and finding it far too peppery for my liking I didn’t continue with the peppercorns, other than that I loved it!
So like I said the food at Poemphun Thai is absolutely delicious. The woman that runs it is super friendly as are her staff (and pretty much all Thai’s). The food is fresh, fantastic and cheap as chips. If you are looking for somewhere for your Friday night takeaway or somewhere to dine without all the fuss of dressing up to go out then Poemphun Thai is it- plus it’s BYO. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
343 Sheridan St, Cairns North QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4041 6367
Opening Hours: 7 days 10.30am – 9.30pm