Where to eat satay in Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya, Malaysia

When I am looking for local fast food in West Malaysia, it’s a toss-up between roti or satay. Both are delicious, and both provide a fun spectacle. Watching the Mamak chef deftly twirling his roti is exciting, but there’s something hypnotic about watching a satay maestro basting and fanning sizzling skewered meats over hot charcoal.

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Satay is dinner fare at the hawker centres, but if you crave satay for lunch, head to one of the many outlets of Sate Kajang Haji Samuri. Kajang, a town 21km west of Kuala Lumpur, is famous for satay. History has it that satay was brought to Kajang from Java where it was given a local flavour and became very popular. Haji Samuri started in Kajang in 1960 and has become synonymous with satay in the state of Selangor and beyond. Their tagline translates to ‘For the real taste of satay kajang’. Continue reading

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Over The Moon Dairy, Putaruru & Cambridge

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Over The Moon Dairy makes my favourite cheese in New Zealand. Based in the tiny town of Putaruru (pop: 3,777 in 2013) in South Waikato, the boutique cheesemakers churn out an amazing array of hard, soft and blue cheeses using cows and sheep milk, including a range using jersey cows milk.

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Over The Moon makes (in my humble opinion) the best soft cheeses in New Zealand. From the delicately earthy camembert to the smoothest OMG triple brie to the absolutely decadent black truffle brie, everything is exceptional. It takes great restraint to not polish off a wedge of the black truffle Brie in one sitting. I also love their halloumi, which is deliciously stretchy and chewy. It’s no surprise they have won multiple prizes in the NZ Champion of Cheese awards every year. Continue reading

Geeks on Sainsbury, Morningside, Auckland

I love neighbourhood cafes; they bring a relaxed focal point to the community. In Morningside, a slowly gentrifying neighbourhood, Geeks on Sainsbury has brought the suburb a step up on the trendy scale. The commercial complex it is located in is drab and sleepy, and thoroughly in need of a boost.

The workspace is divided in Coffee Geeks and Kitchen Geeks. They serve up coffee from a boutique Wellington roaster, Red Rabbit Roastery, and check out the explanation of an espresso on the blackboard. I really like how Geeks have focused on the provenance of their ingredients. They serve Six Barrel Sodas, Aoraki salmon, Best Ugly bagels and Pokeno bacon.

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Nanam Eatery, Royal Oak, Auckland

Nanam Eatery has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of Coco Restaurant. We loved Coco and its very talented chef Daniel Nguyen; it was unfortunate the market wasn’t ready for modern Vietnamese fine dining without the plush accoutrements. The owners of Nanam worked at Coco, and they have created an exceptional smart casual modern Filipino restaurant which works well with its environment.

My experience with Filipino cuisine spans all of one restaurant, and I found the liberal use of vinegar takes some getting used to. However, Nanam’s chef does a  gentle introduction to Filipino flavours, taking what makes Filipino food unique and interesting whilst adding them to dishes which are more readily recognisable.

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Mt Albert Market, Mt Albert, Auckland

The Mt Albert Market is located in the forecourt of Sprout Café, on 847 New North Road. This is handy, – utilising Sprout’s window server for coffee and outdoor bench seating for the market visitors. This also means the market is outdoors but under cover and intimate. There is reasonable parking along the nearby streets.

This is a community food market covering the gamut of grocery staples to treats. The range is perfectly edited and great quality; the organisers have included passionate artisan food producers who care about their products.

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Devon Café, Surry Hills, Sydney

Sometimes there is just that combination of the familiar with the new that makes a dish exceptional. Devon Café has garnered much praise for their innovative take on traditional brunch dishes. Zacharay Tan, Devon Café’s head chef calls upon his Penang (Malaysian) roots and Bistro Guillaume training to develop a quirky (and utterly delicious) Asian fusion menu.

BL and I have been for dinner at Devon on Danks, and finally made it to their original outlet in Surry Hills for breakfast. This unassuming café sits alongside other eateries on Devonshire St mere minutes from Central train station. The service is efficient, and attentive.

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Sydney Fish Market, Pyrmont, Sydney

I made it a point not to eat at the Sydney Fish Market (SFM) in the year I was living in Sydney. It seemed, well, too touristy (yes, I am ashamedly aware of the hypocrisy). There are always throngs of tourists chowing down on what seemed like overpriced seafood platters in a canteen-like atmosphere.

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Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy visiting SFM but only to purchase seafood. We’ve bought crabs, Moreton Bay bugs, prawns, mussels and fish. All very fresh, and marvellous. The selection is enviable; if it’s in season, you’ll find it. Plus there are multiple reputable vendors to select from.

Eating at the SFM is one of the picks for Grab Your Fork’s top Cheap Eats for Tourists, so I was keen to see if it really was affordable (my yardstick for an affordable meal out is $20 per person).

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Food finds in Coromandel

I have fond silly memories of the Coromandel region. My very good friend Gen and I embarked on a road trip when we were fresh graduates, where we wore commemorative toe rings (yes, really), got completely lost (who knew we were both so deficient at reading maps) and ogled the hunky waiter at a café in Coromandel township.

Cathedral Cove

15 odd years later, I finally made a return visit. This time sans toe rings, and with a spouse who knows the area.

Hot Waves Café
BL’s cycling trips in the Coromandel always included a meal at the very cozy and welcoming Hot Waves Café. Hot Waves Café is right beside the famed Hot Water Beaches, where you can dig your own hot pool at the junction of where the hot springs meets the seawater. Continue reading

Mr Bao, CBD, Sydney

I have a delicious obsession with gua baos, those Taiwanese street food of fluffy soft buns enveloping all manners of delicious meats with various pickles and condiments. In my last visit to Sydney, I chanced upon a new outlet.

Mr Bao opened their permanent outlet on York Street’s George Arcade on 7 August, building on their popularity at the Bondi Farmers Market and various festival markets. Their outlet at the end of the arcade is cheerful and fresh, offering 5 versions of their Vietnamese/Japanese take on gua baos, for $6 each or two for $11. Great value.

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