Have you ever wanted to try somewhere new to eat out and then arrive there only to take one look at the menu and walk out again? Well that happened to my mum and I yesterday. Unfortunately for you I’m not going to divulge any more the details or give you the name of the place I am referring to because I didn’t try their food and it might just be amazing, it was just the menu didn’t really float my boat. Lucky for me, due to my incessant hourly scrolling through Instagram I already had a backup so mum and I jumped in the car and headed straight there.
My backup lunch destination was the newly opened (as of yesterday in fact) Petit Café on Lake Street. Directly across the road from Woolworths mum and I were both blown away when we entered the schmick Sydney-esque interior with soft blue walls, IKEA type retro furniture and mirror like polished floors (although much to mums dismay no communal table).
The whole place is very ‘not Cairns’ in a very good way! The Petit Café on Lake Street is the second such branch of it’s kind in FNQ with the first one being the ever so popular (so I have heard anyway) shop in Kuranda.
Mum and I took up a table for two in the middle of the floor and had a look over their extensive menus with a page each for Traditional Crepes, Gourmet Crepes and of course Sweet Crepes. With over 30 different types of crepes on the menu it was quite a difficult choice for both of us, even mum who is still – despite my initial thoughts that she would barely last 2 weeks – a vegetarian. Sorry mum!
She chose a Traditional Crepe with Creamy Goats Cheese, Homemade Onion Jam, Toasted Almonds, Cherry Tomatoes, Cheese and Spinach while after a tough choice I ended up choosing a Gourmet Crepe with Medium Rare Roast Beef, Homemade Tartar Sauce, Egg, Cherry Tomatoes, Cheese, Cornichons and Baby Spinach. Initially I did think that the prices were a little high – a couple of the Gourmet Crepes are around the $23 mark I instantly changed my mind when I saw the sheer size of the things and the generous toppings.
Mum’s Traditional Crepe came out pizza style whilst mine was folded up a little like a calzone. I’m going to try and keep this short and sweet because there’s not a whole lot that needs to be said other than both of our crepes were absolutely delicious. Mum thought her crepe had a few too many almonds on it but I tasted it and disagreed with her.
My egg was runny and the homemade tartar sauce along with the cornichons gave my Gourmet Crepe a lovely zing! It was so big that I was in fact full for the rest of the afternoon but I am looking forward to my next visit to try the Kangaroo Prosciutto Crepe and of a course one of their amazing sounding Sweet Crepes – and yes of course they have Nutella Crepes for those of you that were wondering!
Attentive service, knockout decor, beautiful fresh ingredients and crepes made with love I have absolutely no doubt that it’s going to be on for young and old at the newly opened Petit Café.
Lake St, Cairns
Opening Hours: 7 days 7.30am – 3.30pm
After over 150 posts of me talking about myself I want to hear about you! I want to hear the all time best foodie experiences of you guys – my foodvixen readers. It doesn’t have to be fancy and it certainly doesn’t have to be expensive – the best meals are often the cheapest meals! For me food is all about the experience – who you dined with, where you dined or what you ate. It doesn’t have to be overseas, it could be a memorable picnic on the Cairns Esplanade or fish and chips at Palm Cove… Whatever is it I want to hear about it! For those of you that have followed my blog some of you might remember me recounting my top foodie experiences in previous posts but for those of you that missed it, I’ll recount one more time in the hope of unlocking some of your top foodie experiences.
1. Peking Duck in Beijing – I travelled to China for the first time in 2006 and as part of the tour we were on my family and I ended up at a restaurant in the heart of Beijing. I had never had Peking Duck before – the world famous dish that actually originates from Beijing and was first prepared during the Imperial era – nor did I know what it entailed. The duck was sliced in front of our table by the chef and then the waitresses showed us how to eat it with spring onions, cucumber, sweet bean sauce all wrapped up in a little pancake. The thin and crispy skin of the duck was out of this world and to this day I still dream about returning to Beijing to eat their amazing Peking Duck.
2. Oysters in Florida – Before the big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – 2004 to be exact. My family and I did an RV tour of the USA and we stopped in at the Eastpoint Oyster House in Florida for some fresh seafood. There is nothing my family loves more than fresh seafood – apart from my sister who only just discovered wine (yes she hasn’t quite grown up yet). We bought 12 dozen oysters to eat between three of us – me, mum and dad. The oysters were only US$3.99 a dozen if you shucked them yourself. Having owned a seafood factory for many years my dad was and still is no stranger to shucking oysters. He would also tell you he once won a prawn peeling competition against the prawning peeling ladies that worked at his factory. What he won’t tell you is that he cheated and those ladies should have beat him hands down. Anyway we sat out of the front of the Eastpoint Oyster House on a rickety old table overlooking the Apalachicola Bay, surrounded by mountains of discarded old oyster shells and ate dozens of Apalachicola Bay oysters straight from the shell with savoury biscuits, hot sauce and lemon. Absolute bliss.
3. Chicken Biryani in Colombo – I travelled to my mother’s birth country in 2011 where I did a three week Intrepid tour with my cousin. The first day that we arrived in Sri Lanka we found ourselves at a rundown little restaurant on the main strip not far down from the famous Galle Face Hotel. We had no idea what to order so we pointed to what everyone else was having which turned out to be the best Chicken Biryani of my life for all of about 200 rupees (about AU$2). Although I was the only female in there the owner made us both feel very welcome, in fact he was beside himself with excitement at having some Australian tourists dine at his humble roadside restaurant. It was the perfect beginning to what was an amazing 3 week adventure in Sri Lanka.
4. Stand up noodles in Osaka – Tachigui soba is a fast food that is unique to Japan and literally means ‘standing up eating’ soba noodles. I first travelled to Japan in 2009 where my friends and I stumbled upon a tiny Tachigui soba bar in the Osaka suburb of Fukushima (no not that Fukushima). The four of us crammed into the noodle bar on a cold and wet day and slurped our steaming hot bowls of noodles with a couple of friendly Japanese business men who found it all highly amusing. It was my first introduction to stand-up noodles and I made sure that I returned to this very place in my most recent trip to Japan in November last year.
Others moments worth a mention are gobbling up cherries the size of a baby’s fist at the Salamanca Markets in Hobart, baby back ribs in a dingy bar in Nashville, a birthday picnic organised by my love MS and courtesy of Davy at Mama Coco at Lake Eacham, a 10 course degustation atop the Rialto in Melbourne at Vue De Monde also with my love, xiao long bao amongst Chinese breakfast-goers in Shanghai and fish and chips on Bondi Beach in Sydney. I could go on forever here because I have had some truly memorable foodie moments in my travels. As you can tell I love food and I love travel but this was only supposed to be a relatively short post. Now it’s over to you x
If you haven’t heard about Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken then you must be living under a rock – or in Far North Queensland. I do understand we are a little sheltered up here in our beautiful part of the world. Heck, the Mexican food fad that took over our southern states about 3 years ago hasn’t even reached us up in Cairns yet (and no Cactus Jacks doesn’t count). In fact I am pretty sure we are still in the midst of the frozen yogurt phase that is so, like, totally 2012. Being an avid reader of Gourmet Traveller and Delicious magazines thanks to my monthly subscriptions (friends and family know the way to my heart for birthday’s and Christmas) I like to think (hope) that I am pretty up to date on the food trends. Along with Mexican food there has been cupcakes, macarons, hot dogs, anything Vietnamese, dumplings, gelato, burgers, Korean food and god knows what else! But now it’s the Taiwanese’ turn with Hot Star Large Fried Chicken. A chicken franchise brought in by some savvy travellers which has taken the cities of Sydney and Melbourne by storm, one deep-fried chicken breast at a time.
People are lining up down the street for these Taiwanese street food inspired protein pockets. It’s pretty basic to say the least but at Hot Star Chicken they take a whole chicken breast on the bone and smash it flat, marinated it for 2 hours, coat it in tapioca flour and then deep fry it in Cottonseed Oil till it’s crunchy on the outside and deliciously moist on the inside. Having recently travelled to Sydney with my family Hot Star wasn’t really somewhere that I was hell-bent on seeking out but more hoping to stumble upon. It certainly didn’t take long to spot a small crowd of people (mostly young Asian’s) huddled on the street waiting for the latest batch of chicken to be deep-fried. Before I knew it my whole family with MS in tow was lining up to try Hot Star Large Fried Chicken.
It’s a CASH ONLY kind of gig and for a mere AU$7.90 a hit, it’s a pretty good deal, especially when it’s cooked to order – that way you know it’s fresh – freshly fried anyway. The guy at the counter asked if we wanted Original or Spicy to which MS and I decided that we wanted ‘spicy’. He gave us a small plastic bag and a ticket with a number and we stepped aside, laying in wait for our ‘afternoon snack’. We waited about 10 minutes until with expert precision the guy working the deep fryer began to pull each chicken breast from the bubbling hot cottonseed oil, bag them up and call the individuals numbers of the hungry chicken lovers waiting curb side. MS and I spotted a couple of breasts that were basted in some sticky brownish sauce and then coated in sesame seeds. We had no idea what they were (possibly the lemon chicken?) but we both wished we had gotten that one – the grass is always greener.
Additions of deep-fried mushrooms and sweet potato chips on the menu at Hot Star also rate very high on the culinary Richter scale according to various reports on social media and other online reviews. Those deep-fried goodies would have to wait till the next time I crossed paths with a Hot Star Chicken joint because I had to save room for dinner – even if this was classed as ‘research’.
A couple of minutes later the ‘spicy’ coating was sprinkled onto our piece and our number was called. The pictures of it in MS’ hand just doesn’t do it justice. This thing is seriously about a foot long and with the breast itself weighing on average 250 grams. MS and I shared one but I could have easily polished one-off on my own despite it’s size. I refrained because technically we had just eaten a late lunch including BBQ pork puns and Deep Fried Sesame Balls with Red Bean Paste. Seriously those things are the best damn sweets ever invented!!!
The Hot Star Large Fried Chicken is kind of like a big chicken schnitzel crossed with KFC I guess. It was tongue searing-ly hot having just been pulled from the deep fryer seconds before but a perfect way to warm you from the inside out on what was a ridiculously cold and windy afternoon in the city of Sydney. The spice was spicy but nothing major. Hey, if MS can eat it without many complaints then it’s definitely not very spicy – he is a total pussy when it comes to spice after all. The batter was thick and crunchy and although the whole thing was encased in a little paper bag it didn’t seem overly oily.
There’s really not a whole lot for me to say about it especially considering that Hot Star Large Fried Chicken has been blogged about and reviewed to death since it opened in Australia about six months ago by people far more in the know than me. At the end of the day although tasty, succulent and a sh*tload better than a 5 piece feed from KFC (much kinder on the wallet too), it’s really just a big deep-fried chicken breast. Typically, MS was more smitten with the $4 slice of greasy Meatlover’s pizza that he bought from the pizza place directly next door while we waited for our chicken. In his own words that was his ‘culinary highlight’ of our trip to Sydney. Ah such a typical male.
Hot Star Chicken
96 Liverpool St, Sydney NSW 2000
429 Elizabeth St, Melbourne VIC 3000
231 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm 7 days
I have been back on dry land for just under a week now but haven’t had a chance to put up a post until now. MS and I flew down to Sydney the day after I got back from sea for my cousins wedding on the Central Coast. I think I mentioned in my previous post that we have both started a meal plan with me looking towards a particular, but as yet unmentioned, goal come September and basically MS just wanting to be bigger and leaner. That does have certain implications for me and eating out unfortunately since we can only have one ‘cheat’ meal a week, a far cry from the three meals a day that we used to do. But after over 5 weeks eating ‘clean’ we decided to go all out and eat whatever the hell we wanted for the 4 days that we were there. We had buffet breakfasts with all the trimmings, fish and chips, pizza, wedding cake, a plethora of canapes, waffles from the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe, Panna Cotta from the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe and even Hot Chocolate from the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe. But what trip to Sydney isn’t complete without a stopover to China Town?
I had spotted BBQ King a couple of years ago when I was in Sydney for work. A crew mate took my crew and I to some pub across the road that apparently had the best Laksa she had ever eaten. Stubborn old me didn’t order the Laksa since I was a little skeptical ordering it at a pub but hey it looked good. Laksa just wouldn’t do and I longed for the ducks and large bits of pork crackling hanging in the window across the road at BBQ King. Not long after that I read about it on a Perth food blog that was my inspiration to start foodvixen in the first place. The Food Pornographer and her many photos of Suckling Pig and Roast Duck had me at ‘hello’ so I vowed that next time I went to Sydney I would go to BBQ King. So with MS in tow we made our way down to Haymarket from our hotel on Pitt Street.
I must admit both MS and I have developed a bit of a penchant for Roast Pork and Duck of late but the only place that we can really go to satisfy it in Cairns is Cafe China on Spence Street or the one at the Casino (for a quick feed anyway). Cafe China on Spence Street is really nothing special, the food is pretty ordinary and I also question the hygiene of the place but we continue to go back there for some reason. I guess because it’s cheap and you can pretty much always rely on it to be open. We arrived to a half full restaurant at about 6.30pm and were ushered to a table by one of the many Chinese wait staff. The restaurant is very dated with yellow stained walls, drapes and old framed Chinese ‘artworks’ but it works and I actually felt like I was in one of those old school Kung-Fu movies with the really bad dubbing. Going to a flash, new Chinese Restaurant just wouldn’t feel right to me. Cheesy decor and yellow fluorescent lighting is all part of the experience surely. In the corner was a large Chinese family tucking into a banquet, some Police that were by all accounts still on duty next to them, a couple of seedy guys that looked like they were doing some Underbelly type business deals and then a couple seated next to us. MS and I overheard a little bit of their conversation… Not because we were listening but more because they were so damn close we couldn’t really help it. The crux of the conversation came to a head when the woman asked the man if he was only interested in her to live in Australia or he actually liked her for being her. Awkward.
The waiter fetched us a pot of Chinese tea and some little cups as well as a couple of menus to look over. The menu was extensive with lots of soup, rice dishes, various types of meat and even Marinated Pork Uteri. Err, maybe next time? MS and I drooled over the Whole Suckling Pig for $480 but you had to give 24 hours notice. Dammit. One day I will have loads of money to spend on Whole Suckling Pigs (notice the plural there) but until that day we stuck to the more reasonably priced part of the menu. MS was considering ordering soup for an entrée but I convinced him that if we were at a place called BBQ King then soup just wouldn’t cut it, even if it was only for the entrée. In the end we (I) chose Peking Duck for the entrée for AU$14, since MS had never had Peking Duck before and I often wondered how I could ever live without it after tasting it for the first time in Beijing about 8 years ago. Well it is the National Dish of China (thanks Wikipedia). For mains we decided we would share a couple of dishes and after much sulking from me because MS didn’t want to the order the Roast Duck because it ‘has too many bones in it’, we chose the Barbeque Pork and the Lemon Chicken (both AU$22.80), much to my dismay. But ‘apparently’ I always have to get my way so I was attempting to be a little less pushy and more open to other suggestions, even if that ultimately meant I didn’t get everything what I wanted i.e. Roast Duck.
We waited about 5 minutes until our entrée of Peking Duck arrived. On top of each of our steamed pancakes was a big, juicy piece of duck breast with crispy golden skin. The waiter placed a small bundle of shallots on top of the duck held together by a ring of fresh chilli, drizzled the sweet sauce over the top and placed each of the plates down in front of us. I nearly fell off my chair I was so excited and after a couple of happy snaps we both dug in. The fattiness of the duck, the crunchiness of the shallots, the sweet taste of the sauce and the oh so soft pancake, was just, oh god, it was amazing! I really think that it was one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. Food wise anyway. Ha. I was expecting gratitude, amazement, surprise or at least a bit of excitement on MS’ face but all he said was ‘that wasn’t that great’ and ‘it just tasted like sauce’. Way to ruin the moment. Had we just eaten the same thing?!
Onto the mains… It didn’t take long till our table was adorned with plates of Barbeque Pork and Lemon Chicken. We dug into the Barbeque Pork first and I have to say that it was absolutely delicious and easily won the accolade of Best Barbeque Pork I have ever had. The most recent one that I can remember was at Taste of China on Abbott Street where the tough pork was drizzled in a thick molasses type sauce that completely overpowered the entire dish whereas at BBQ King the pork did the talking and not the sauce. The light and sweet sauce soaked into the ridiculously tender pieces of pork made my tastebuds do a little dance with every mouthful. In the end, although it was fantastic, we couldn’t finish it all due to the large serving size.
The Lemon Chicken was also delicious! The bite sized pieces of Chicken were lightly battered and deep-fried till they were just crispy and lightly smothered in a lovely tangy Lemon Sauce. Not too tangy though. Too many times I have been disappointed with crappy Lemon Chicken where the sauce just doesn’t taste right or the chicken is way too battered. This was in fact the second best Lemon Chicken I have ever had with the best being Kin Wah on Florence Street of course! Still it was a pretty good Lemon Chicken to come close to that one I reckon! By the end of it we were both pretty full and MS questioned why I was filling up on rice when there was all this other yummy food on the table. Well, because the best part of eating Chinese (in my opinion) is soaking up all the sauce in your steaming hot bowl of rice.
Well that was it. My anticipated trip to BBQ King in Sydney was over. But was it everything I thought it would be? Hell yeah! The service was swift, to the point and a little sterile, as you would expect at a Chinese Restaurant. On paying at the counter the owner (I think he was the owner) was more than happy to have a chat with us warning us to keep a lookout for counterfeit $50 bills that were getting around and even imitating what a crayfish looks like when it eats a prawn. Don’t ask. As mentioned the decor was a little dated and I was expecting Jackie Chan to jump out at any second but the food was fantastic and I will most certainly be returning on my next trip to Sydney. The place is hugely popular with Sydney-siders and has been for over 30 years and for good reason. I really wish we had a BBQ King in Cairns but then again maybe it wouldn’t be such a great thing because I honestly don’t think MS or myself would be able to stay away from the place, especially considering it’s open till 2am. We would be Platinum Members in no time and that meal plan would be out the window before you could say ‘Whole Suckling Pig(s)’.
18 Goulburn Street, Haymarket NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9267 2586
Opening Hours: 7 days 11.30am – 2am