@Bangkok- Haymarket

#@Sydney’s @Bangkok!

In Sydney we’re spoiled by all the good authentic Thai food we can choose from! I’d say almost every Sydney suburb has its own local Thai restaurant and if you’re in Thai-natown in the city (Campbell Street and surrounds) you may be left debilitated by all the choice!

So with all the choice out there, why @Bangkok? It’s been a moment since we’d last dropped in on Capitol Square; and we were curious to see if anything had changed down there. And since we were in the mood for Thai, and we hadn’t tried @Bangkok before, we chose it for those simple reasons.

My wife was pleased to see that her favourite Thai dish was on offer (Yen Ta Fo- $14.00); while I ordered the Kway Teow Ped- $15.00, purely because I hadn’t heard of it before; and we ordered a Yakult smoothie with Pipo jelly- $7.90  to share.

Although the restaurant is located inside Capitol Square, oddly it felt like dining alfresco- due to all the sounds bouncing around. Considering it was 2pm on a Sunday, all the tables were occupied, and when admiring the restaurant’s ambiance the light bulbs spelling out the restaurant’s name was the most eye catching interior detail.

In no time our food arrived (less than 5 minutes), the first time our food has ever beaten out the arrival of our drinks.

My Kway Teow Ped was a soup noodle, consisting of a clear thin noodle, roast duck, blood jelly, with herbs and beansprouts in a sweet soup base. Every element of the dish was perfect! The duck was cooked perfectly, tender thick sliced pieces and they were very generous in their portioning; the clear noodles was something I’d never had before, really thin and perfectly squared off, with a delicate texture to them; the blood jelly is an acquired taste which we like, just like an iron-laden tofu; the herbs and sprouts were super fresh; and the soup was sweet, it could be too sweet for some but I didn’t mind it. All in all a perfect dish in my opinion.

My wife’s favourite dish (Yen Ta Fo) is also a soup noodle; in theory our dishes were similar- but very different at the same time. Where my soup was dark brown, her soup broth was pink in colour; instead of thin noodles she had large sheet noodles; instead of roast duck she had an assortment of fishballs, squid and fried tofu; we both had greens but her herbs were a different selection of fresh greens to mine; while the only same same ingredient was the blood jelly. My wife’s opinion of the dish compared to all the others she had in the past? Also Perfect! 3 from 3!

And our drink? It was served in a jam jar mug, with a thick layer of blended ice on top (like a slushy); underneath the ice was the Yakult, and the pipo jelly. There must have been another unnamed juice mixed into the drink, perhaps fresh tamarin juice as it was pretty sour. I mean really sour. But the drink was interesting, sucking through the thick straw, it was like taking core samples- getting a hit of ice first, before the sour liquids came gushing up, and followed by the pipo jelly (little balls which were sour as well). It was actually so sour that when I was trying to finish the final inch of ice and liquid, my jaw seized up from a combo of sourness and iciness. I had to keep exercising my jaw for the next 20 mins to free it from it’s aversion to ice and sour (the 6th book in George R. R. Martin’s series).

Our end verdict, 4.5 Stars from 5! (3 from 3 for Food, it was perfect we couldn’t fault it, and even with the locked jaw, I’d still give them perfect marks for the food/beverage offering; 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the staff were all polite and really efficient); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (as the place was modern, they played a Thai pop playlist which I liked); and 0.5 from 1 for Value for Money (@Bangkok was good, but we really do reserve 5 Star ratings for the Best restaurants, so we had to look for marks to deduct and Value was probably the only weak-point of today’s experience)).

Would we be back? You can stamp my dining-passport now as I’ve been to Bangkok, been there, done that. Unfortunately the next time we have a craving for Thai food, we’ll just try the next Thai place we haven’t tried before. Call us dis-loyal, but there are just too many Thai options out there!

@Bangkok- Sunday 14 April (4.5 Stars)

https://www.facebook.com/atbangkok.syd/

PH: (02) 9211 5232

Shop G11, Capitol Square, 730-742 George Street, Haymarket

Mon-Sun 10am – 4.30pm, 5.30pm – 12 midnight.

Zhuzhing-up Standard Kombucha

Saturday 13 April

It has been a while since we’ve last left an entry in our Kombucha brewing journal, but don’t think for a second that we’ve stopped brewing! The reason for the lack of activity has been due to the fact that we’ve just been doing the same-ol’ brews, so there wasn’t much to journalise.

But this week we’ve attempted our first foray into zhuzhing-up our standard kombucha- injecting some liveliness into our brew by the way of GINGER!

After cooking a Chinese fish dish last week we had some leftover ginger, so instead of letting it just wither until the next weekend when we found another recipe which required the root- we added it to our secondary kombucha brew.

For us we kept it pretty simple, first peeling away the outer skin of the ginger, and then just dicing up the ginger into thin matchsticks and dividing the spoils equally into the three bottles of kombucha we produce each week.

After a week of secondary fermentation, there was definitely more effervescence when the cap was twisted off, and the flavour? Oh it was a real nice pure ginger flavour! It was remarkably similar to a ginger beer, but tart due to the kombucha’s usual properties.

When compared to a store bought ginger flavoured kombucha, the home brew is definitely more intense in gingery flavours, and it tastes more natural (perhaps that is a psychological thing, due to knowing the provenance of each ingredient).

And when compared to standard kombucha, it’s less sour- so ideal for those who might find kombucha usually too vinegary for their liking. If given the choice now, we prefer ginger infused kombucha, than stock standard kombucha.

P.S. Before consuming, pour the kombucha through a strainer to remove the pieces of ginger. However if you don’t mind expending more effort to extract the ginger flavours? You can first mince-up/grate/puree the ginger and add this into your secondary brew- this will eliminate the need to strain when it’s time to drain……your glass!

Festivals & Things to Do- Chinatown Night Markets- Fridays 4pm-11pm

South Sussex, Little Hay and Dixon Streets

Just like Asia…….without the stifling humidity! Would be my description of Sydney’s Chinatown’s Night Markets– this feeling was emphasized when a Cantonese couple floated past us pushed along by the tide of people. What we heard was “this is just like Hong Kong” uttered in Cantonese before they were carried away- our people currents taking us in opposite directions.

The Chinatown Night Markets is mainly along the 2 pedestrianised blocks of Dixon Street between Goulburn and Hay streets, with spill-overs onto South Sussex and Little Hay streets. The pedestrian corridor is lined on either side with stalls selling ‘stuff’ (can they be the same stallholders from nearby Paddy’s Markets?) and food stalls selling Asian street food which you can hopefully easily eat on the move.

A fortnight ago when we were foraging for food we had explored the Chinatown Night Markets, but at the time everything seemed too crowded and we had in mind a sit-down meal. Tonight, stuck for a dining idea we decided to put up with the crowds and grab what had grabbed our attention last time, the Roti and Chicken satay sticks from Mamak’s street stall, and the Curry puffs from the stall next to them.

Roti Telur (egg roti)- $9.00, and Chicken satay sticks (6 pieces) – $13.00.

Unfortunately the curry puff stall from a fortnight ago, weren’t there tonight- I bit back the urge to ask neighbouring vendors if they knew what happened to them, using hand/arm gestures to depict the width of the stall, the height, and point to the empty spot and do a large dramatic shrug for the universal language for ‘where can it be?’ But I gave up on the seemingly fruitless attempt as quickly as I thought of it. So we settled on a light evening meal tonight.

Street food ought to be consumed while walking the street markets, but hey! That ain’t our thang- sauces dribbling down the arm. So we took them home to eat on proper crockery.

In a meal which consisted purely of appetisers, we started off with the Chicken satay (maybe Mamak should source shorter bamboo sticks as the meat only took-up half of the bamboo real estate). Two pieces of grilled chicken on each skewer, dipped in tasty peanut sauce.

And the egg roti were cut into quarters, quite thick by roti standards and it was accompanied by 2 sauces – a Sambal and a curry which was heavy with the taste of dried fish. When placed into your mouth the fish flavour was putting up a commendable competition with the egg flavour of the Roti, to be the stand-out flavour in your mouth!

Surprisingly we were satisfied from our meal, eating skewer, Roti, skewer, Roti, and skewer- and with the left-over sauces we found something bland around the house to dip it in- sock anyone?

Chinatown Night Markets- each Friday night from 4pm till late. With the days getting shorter and colder, visiting the Night Markets in late autumn-winter is the perfect time! In the colder months, having bodies pressed up against you is less irritating than in the summer evenings! Agreed?

Creamy Pumpkin & Cauliflower Soup Recipe

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

½ Butternut pumpkin

1 Head cauliflower

1L Chicken stock (reduced salt)

250ml Thickened cream

Parmesan cheese (optional)

Crusty bread to serve

Directions:

Step 1: Chop pumpkin into small cubes, and remove florets from cauliflower.

Step 2: Bring chicken stock to a boil and add pumpkin and cauliflower to pot, cook for 15 mins.

Step 3: Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash pumpkin and    cauliflower.  Then remove pot off the heat and use a stick blender to puree the remaining chunks of pumpkin and cauliflower.

Step 4: Replace pot on the stove, and add cream to pot, stirring and allowing to cook for another 5 mins.

Step 5: Ladle out among 4 bowls, serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for added flavour. Serve with crusty bread.

Comments:

For your safety: When using the stick blender, make sure you don’t hover the blade at the surface of the soup as the boiling liquid will spit when you depress the trigger. Make sure the stick blender blade is submerged completely into the soup before giving it power- as you don’t want to be howling in pain like the fallen wine press lady.

TV Recommendations- Employable Me

Please allow me to stray away from our regular posting cycle just for a week, as I’d like to recommend this 3 part documentary series which can be accessed from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) free streaming service iView.

At work we’re embarking for the first time to actively seek candidates with disability, which is fantastic! As everyone in society deserves the right to have access to equal employment opportunities, thus they can realise their full potential and make a livelihood for themselves. Yeah? Agreed?

So I was more open minded to watch ‘Employable Me’ when my wife suggested to watch it as she had seen a TV advert teasing the release of series 2, while series 1 was available right now on iView. To be honest with you, in the past I would have been hesitant in watching this, as these topics are always confronting and challenges your pre-conceptions; and in the evenings when I’m chilling, I just want to be entertained by shows, I don’t want to be made uncomfortable, with the truth. But since I was performing some tasks at work to assist the team tasked with achieving our Equity & Diversity goals, I thought it prudent that I watched this to get into the right head-space.

Employable Me (methinks word-play on the Universal film Despicable Me) originally was a British program which aired on BBC2 to much acclaim; before Canada produced their own version which  aired on AMI-TV;  and the ABC joined the party by producing its own version in 2018, with season 2 dropping on 9 April.

Australia’s version of Employable Me is produced by Northern Pictures, which features stories from 9 young individuals (split into 3 groups of 3- 60 min episodes), with neuro-diverse conditions such as autism, Asperger’s, Tourette’s, and Fragile X Syndromes. Within the given time, the show first introduces each individual so we the viewer can get to know them as people; before learning of their work/career experiences/histories/aspirations; then leading to an outing- to ‘cold call’ on some potential employers (often to little success); which segues to individual meetings with experts to either uncover their hidden talents, or collaborating with a  job coach to increase their chances to land a suitable role; until the final 15 mins is spent looping back around to another perspective employer who gives them a limited duration work trial. By the end of the episode, there is a sense of closure for the viewer, as when they show the final images of each person, in captions it updates us as to where each of them have progressed months after filming had concluded, i.e. landed full-time employment, or was still seeking.

For me I found the show incredibly insightful, as often times we have heard of these conditions, but realistically we don’t actually know much about them at all. Sure, rightfully or wrongfully so popular culture has occasionally brought to prominence some conditions, i.e. Deuce Bigalow’s depiction of Tourette Syndrome and The Good Doctor’s depiction of one on the autism spectrum- which in a way has shed light and generated conversations about these conditions; however obviously they have swayed us to think of  these conditions in a certain way. And it’s only when you meet real people with these lived experiences, that has now changed my understanding of how these conditions actually impact the individual, and how individuals are able to work around these conditions.

The show was put together wonderfully, as it really allowed for each individual’s unique character to shine through first and foremost; and it was both honest, while showcasing each of them in a positive and heart-warming light. There definitely weren’t any cringing moments here, if anything I found myself smiling for most of the show as the individuals were guys/gals you could really warm to, and see yourself getting behind. So the show Employable Me has both educated me, changed me, and surprisingly entertained me as well! Definitely worth viewing if you’re a person who is always looking to self-improve and to be more empathetic.

And trying to be objective, the two critiques of the show I had was that this season at least, the focus was only on neuro conditions; when other  overseas versions covered a wider range of disabilities- it would be nice to see a more diverse selection of people next time (although we might just see that in season 2). And the last critique, was that it was really interesting to see how autism and Asperger’s only means that the brain is wired differently from the norm. And who is to say that the way that their mental circuitry is wired, is wired incorrectly- when you watch the show you’ll see that each of them have incredible minds and an amazing ability to store and retrieve memories which puts the 99% of us to absolute shame.  For some, within their area of expertise, it was almost like asking ‘Google’, as they could tell you the answer straight away- so who is to say that they aren’t the top 1% and we the majority are the bottom 99%? Ok, ok, I’m coming to my point of criticism……… My critique of this, is that the show depicts that the vast majority of disabled people have a hidden skill- which off-sets and can be exploited by an employer. However what if you’re in that 99% of people, and then later in life you acquire an injury or disease which leaves you permanently disabled? If enough of us watch  Employable Me, we might be led to believe that every disabled guy and girl has this near super-power, but what if they really don’t have a special skill to begin with, and then become disabled? The show does set a very high bar for others to meet, which I’m thinking is a little bit unfair to set the expectations so high, when realistically the majority may not be able to meet this lofty pedestal. It just makes that task of finding work, that much harder when 8 of 9 were shown to possess near genius levels of mental power. I think this could have been avoided if the chosen individuals did represent a wider representation of disabilities, so I guess this links in with critique no. 1. 

So yeah, aside from these issues, the show is truly worthwhile! I’m usually recommending shows from Netflix, and I’m aware that not everyone has a subscription- but iView is totally free to use (if you’re in Australia), so no excuses for Sydney-siders not to be watching this! Definitely worth 3 hours of your time.

For more information about the Australian version of Employable me, click HERE! And to watch immediately from ABC iView, click here!

P.S. Since writing this post, Season 2 episode 1 has aired on the ABC, in this season they do follow a more diverse array of  people and the outcomes are probably more reflective of the reality for disabled job seekers i.e. that unfortunately there isn’t always a happy ending.

The Bun Gallery- Haymarket

No Men’s club here, just tasty buns (of the edible variety)……

**Reader beware- Post may contain adult themed word-play**

Earlier in the week my colleagues and I were just sitting around at lunch time chatting about food (like you do), and we were sharing hot-tips of our favourite go-to places in the city and my colleague hadn’t tried Bò 7 Món Thanh Tâm – my go-to Viet restaurant in the city; while her hot tip which we hadn’t tried was The Bun Gallery. “Hey? Come again?” My inner voice asked, but of course I didn’t ask that out aloud as we were in a work setting after all. But after Googling it, ok yeah, it was what I had thought she had said, and I had to stifle a giggle because I’m ‘oh so professional!’ Haaha. So our lunch-time conversation ended, by each of us agreeing to try each other’s hot-tip, so my wife and I tried The Bun Gallery this afternoon.

When I first suggested ‘The Bun Gallery’ to my wife, I allowed her to process the information and then asked her “What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘The Bun Gallery’?” And she answered, “I’m getting a mental picture of an art gallery exhibiting full-colour pictures of human bottoms”. While the first thing which came to my mind wasn’t any better, images of neon lit signs above establishments with beefy bouncers standing outside them, came to mind……

But no, The Bun Gallery is only a Chinese restaurant on Quay St Haymarket (opposite the UTS library), serving steamed buns, dumplings and small snacks to share. Outside their store you can study their menu before deciding to go in or not, and you make your orders and payment, before finding yourselves some seats either downstairs or upstairs in the loft/gallery section.

For under 35 bucks, we ordered 4 of their signature pork buns ($2.60 each); a plate of steamed pork and chive dumplings ($10.00); my colleague’s hot-tip was the Salt & Pepper fried Tofu, so we had to get that ($7.00); and for drinks we ordered a bottle of Plum juice and a Soya milk drink ($4 each).

“So maybe the upstairs loft area was the inspiration for the restaurant’s name?”, we asked ourselves from the second floor; from up there you can look down onto the ground floor dining area- and the open space allowed us hear (but not see) the goings on in the kitchen. It was empty up in the loft when we arrived, so we had the choice of all the tables and we elected one which was pushed up against the floor to waist-high glass banister.

In no time our drinks arrived (we felt kind of slack, as the waitress had to climb all the way up to give us our drinks (Plum juice was out of a squat glass bottle – prune juice infused with ginseng, when the soya milk was just your stock standard affair).

And then our waitress had to climb the stairs a second time to serve us our steamed buns and dumplings. I’d read a less favourable Zomato review, where the reviewer had suggested that their buns/dumplings were frozen. And yeah, probably they were, as they seemed too perfectly shaped to be freshly hand-made – but they tasted fine, the bun was soft and bouncy all at the same time (how most people would like their buns to be…..); and the pork inside was tasty (no frozen scent here). And the dumplings were little things, one bite wonders- so checking left and right to see if anyone was watching- I picked up the little gems with fingers and popped it into my mouth. Ooo! What you’d do if you don’t think anyone is watching (as the correct etiquette would be to use my chopsticks of course).

And for the third and final time (on our bequest at least), our waitress had to high-step her way up to us again, this time with our fried dish (I was almost tempted to comment ‘Good exercise hey?’ but feared it might be lost in translation and it’d just be awkward). But thanks for the hot-tip Abbey! The tofu were as good as you had described them! Fried and seasoned with Salt & Pepper, just like a vego’s take on squid! And sprinkled over them were deep fried wonton chips. As the tofu were tiny cubes (no larger than a six sided dice), I elected again to use fingers and when another couple joined us on the gallery level I was beyond caring about social etiquette and continued popping them into my mouth with fingers like you’d do with peanuts at a pub – all the while the poor waitress had to climb up and down serving this new couple.

Our end verdict, 4.0 from 5.0 Stars! (2.5 from 3 for Food (as everything was tasty and just the right amount to comfortably satisfy); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (as all staff were polite and friendly, and I would give extra points if I could for the waitress’ cardio fitness); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (as the place had a really relaxed vibe to it, and they had a good Mando pop-playlist going); and 0.5 from 1 for Value for money) we reserve the full 1 point for places which are ridiculous in their cost-benefit proposition, and The BG was good, but not ridiculously so)).

I really do love finding out about unknown (to us at least) places first hand from friends, as you can never go wrong with recommendations from people you trust. Thanks again Abbey for the hot-tip!!! The only hot-tip which I have for other diners, is if you elect to sit where we sat today (the table which was pushed right up to the glass banister), don’t be sitting there if you were wearing a short skirt. As customers downstairs can easily see right up to the loft area from where they’re sitting. So The Bun Gallery wasn’t a “Bun Gallery” and sitting where we sat you’re not at any risk of giving other diners a ‘Bun show’, but you’d definitely be giving them a ‘Leg show’ though – that’s my hot-tip for today. *Slow wink*.

The Bun Gallery- Sunday 7 April (4.0 Stars)

https://www.facebook.com/thebungallery/

PH: 0434 834 688

Shop 2, the Quay, 61-79 Quay Street, Haymarket

Mon-Fri 8.30am – 9pm

Sat-Sun 10am – 9pm