Thursday, August 29, 2019

Quarter Century

It doesn't ever feel different when you become a year older, until it really hits you that you are older. One thing I realised I was looking forward to is renting a car if I ever need to, without a premium insurance fee. Also figuring out health insurance was such a waste of time. That's probs the 2 main things which really 'solidifies' the extra stuff you have to do once you hit 25.

Pandan and coconut

This flavour got deleted literally 2 days after I ordered the cake, so I forgot what other flavour it had. It had layers of a darker choc sable, bits of mango and a lemony curd/sauce inside. The pandan was quite subtle in the mousse. It wasn't really sweet and the slightly sour lemony mango inside help balance it.


I have a thing where I like to have the exact amount of candles as the year I'm turning. Surprised 25 candles managed to fit on this small cake.

layers

Red velvet cake from Michel's Patisserie

Manager at work buys everyone a cake on their bday. Glad they chose this flavour for me (not a big fan of chocolate), but either way I wouldn't mind. She even puts in candles which is cute.


Thanks g8s for these cakes! Love trying new flavours. The mango and yuzu was the favourite of the night, also an og so you can't go wrong. I quite liked the guava and strawberry too, so cool how they're making more cakes shaped like fruit tasting like the fruit. No one liked the purple lavender one, I actually didn't mind it. I couldn't taste the soapiness, although it wasn't my favourite it wasn't bad either. The ume slice was delicious as well, full of various flavours. Love catching up with g8s, and was definitely delightedly surprised that Happy Apple came. 

Thanks Happy Apple for my first ever succulent - hope I don't kill it...


85deg Black forest cake

Finished off cake week with a simple cake to share at church. Thanks Blair for the surprise. Although I'm not a big fan of Asian cake, the good thing about 85deg is that it comes with plates, knives, forks and candles, so can literally just buy this cake and eat it anywhere. 

I think I'm caked out...for now....

Monday, August 19, 2019

Tetsuya's

I've been wanting to come try this place for a while, so have been saving up this place for a special occasion with a special person. So for my 25th birthday this year, decided to book the most expensive degustation dinner in Sydney (thanks Blair for the birthday dinner). I've been to a lot of food places in the past year, from fine dining (Bennelong, Catalina, O Bar and Dining, and more)/restaurants/local eats/cafes etc in Sydney, from East Coast to West Coast in America, and throughout Europe as well. Just haven't had time to do food reviews (last one was in Aug 2018 which was a backlog from March 2018), but had to do a post about Tetsuya's.

For a Tuesday night, the restaurant was surprisingly full. I made a booking around 2-3 weeks in advance, and was seated one 'row' behind the window garden seat. Apparently window tables are allocated based on reservation dates, so I guess there were some people who are more organised than me haha.

8 course degustation was $240pp. Yes, I still bring lunch to work, so I can then splurge once a year on fine dining. The food here is focused on seafood with 4/8 dishes being seafood, so if you don't like seafood then don't come. It has Japanese inspired dishes mixed with a bit of French cuisine.

Hidden on Kent St

I used to always walk past this to get to my bus from the city to home on Kent St. During the day the gates are closed, so this place is hidden away. You come here for the food not views, unlike other fine dining places 

View of the Japanese style garden

Can't really see it at night and I don't think you're allowed to walk in it, but it's cute. Of course if you ever go Japan, the original country is always more impressive. It's cute how they try to transport you to Japan.

Truffle butter + filtered water with lime

We ate pretty much almost all the butter. I never eat butter, except at fine dining. It was so light, and whipped well so very spreadable, but the truffle flavour was so intense and you could see so many bits of truffle in it. Makes my truffle salt and truffle oil at home seem like nothing. Even if you had a blocked nose, you would be able to smell the truffle. They offered sparkling, still or filtered water (no tap water option cause fine dining haha).


Bread options were Kombu scroll, rye or white sourdough. All of them were so delicious. The scroll was extra flaky and easy to pull apart, and sourdough had a nice crunchy crust without being chewy. Not sure if I filled up from the bread, butter and water...

Cherry Blossom: dry sherry, bombay gin, cherry beer, ratafia, lime-$24

Chose this one since it seemed to fit with the Japanese theme. It tasted like slightly sour cherries, and not sweet. It was nice but not one of my favourite cocktails.

Tuna with daikon and wasabi

You can definitely tell this fish was so fresh and the flavours weren't overpowering the fish flavour. Could hardly taste the wasabi which was good, since I'm not a big fan. Daikon gave it that extra bit of freshness for the dish.

Poached scampi with coffee vinaigrette and cannellini bean

Scampi perfectly cooked and full of flavour, and moving onto a warm dish. I couldn't really taste the coffee, but it gave that slight bit of acidity to cut through the butteriness of the scampi. The puree on the side help emphasis the smooth texture of the scampi.


Signature dish: confit of ocean trout with salad of apple and witlof

Wow, this dish lived up to the hype. The softest trout ever which melts in your mouth, perfectly seasoned with the kombu on top. Your knife just glides right through, and this is indeed my favourite seafood dish. Loved the crunch from the apple salad hidden underneath for some texture and slight sweetness. The caviar also gave it a pop of flavour. The parsley oil looked pretty on the plate, but I couldn't really taste it.

eating from books

Apparently, this is the most photographed dish in the world. Mainly because it was invented back in 1987. Most restaurants weren't even opened by then, and most chefs change their menu and remove signature dishes (like the Quay's snow egg) from time to time to keep people coming back. This dish has stayed on the menu since it was first created which explains why it's the most photographed dish. The recipe photo shows more parsley oil and caviar, but I guess that book was published around 2000, and 19 years later, inflation etc so they just cut out the extra bits without sacrificing the quality of the trout. 

salad to go with the trout

Salad had a nice dressing, I don't mind acidity, but some may find it a bit too acidic/bitter. Waiter suggested to have the fish first then have the salad as a side. I found the salad flavour to a bit overpowering, so I just had the salad separately after I finished the trout.

Queensland murray cod with confit fennel and young garlic

Moving onto the first hot dish where the plate was pre heated to preserve the warmth. This piece of fish was quite small, but again cooked to perfection. The skin super crispy and again the fish was very soft. It looked like a lot of sauce, but it was the perfect amount. This garlic sauce is better than El Jannah's (which is already one of the best for just cheap eats). The sauce was an emulsion, so it was super smooth without being too garlicy.

Pearl meat with jerusalem artichoke and navel orange

The first of the two meat dishes was this confit chicken which was really moist and smooth, and packed full of flavour with the accompanying jus. The orange was a nice element to the dish bringing some depth of flavour, rather than just savoury.

Wagyu rib eye with chestnut mushroom and yuzu

I loved the yuzu sauce on the side, highlight of the dish. It gave a lovely acidity to cut through the richness of the beef. The meat was perfectly cooked and loved the jus sauce. Mushrooms were plump and juicy. Good end to the savoury dishes.

Blood orange and beetroot sorbet with layer of white chocolate

This was the perfect palate cleanser, and the sourness from the sorbet really cut through to literally cleanse the savoury taste from previous dishes. A thin piece of white chocolate covered the sorbet to help balance the acidity, and on the side were some pearl like things. Apparently they use some science to make them. They're soft and not chewy like your usual tapioca pearls.

Chocolate stone with honey and milk

The dessert was nice but not amazing compared to other fine dining desserts I've had, wasn't expecting much from desserts since I was coming here for their seafood. The chocolate stone had a sort of milk ice cream filling inside and was really soft and not rich. Loved the quenelle of ice cream on the side with some crumbs for texture. The tempered ring of chocolate made the dish more fun. Could definitely hear the crack as your spoon cut through it.

Yay for birthday cake

Tetsuya's chocolate cake

The mousse cake was rich but not too sweet. I'm not a chocolate person, and if I do eat chocolate, it's always dark choc. The mousse was predominately dark choc which I loved, and just some sweetness from the white choc inside.

Petits fours: citrus tart, raspberry and mascarpone macaron, chocolate truffle lychee black sesame

I love these petits four, especially because it wasn't just chocolate. The chocolate truffle was my favourite, since it looked like truffle, but inside was this delicious black sesame filling, what a thin outer shell of chocolate. The macaroni wasn't overly sweet since the mascarpone was light and with a mild raspberry filling. Loved the acidity from the citrus tart as well with a thin layer of meringue.

His first cookbook

Thanks Blair for buying this book all those years ago (way before we met and even he didn't know who Tetsuya was when he bought this book around 10 years ago). So lucky we brought it along with us, since we got it signed! (Well Tetsuya was overseas but they swapped our copy with a signed copy in their stock).

Me being weird even though it's a fine dining place, I started taking photos of the trout dish with the book, and the usual taking a million photos before I eat, even though these days they just get stored since I don't really have time to upload to my food Instagram account or blog about it. Halfway through the meal a waiter said to follow him, and to take our phones. He ended up showing us into their kitchen! First time seeing a commercial kitchen (not through a window or on MasterChef). We were literally on the pass, and seeing all the chefs plate up. Inside was really big, and they explained how they don't use computers, since everyone eats the same 8 courses, so they just cross it out as you complete a dish then make the next one. So cool seeing the head chef in work as well.

peek into kitchen

Bit shocked at the invite into their kitchen, still in awe

Service was impeccable throughout the night as you would expect for a fine dining restaurant.  We did tip them extra since they went above and beyond for our dining experience. Although Tetsuya himself wasn't there (he was to return the following week, but these dining places are more once in a life time not weekly dining so we wouldn't obviously go back just to see him), we were just shocked that they let us have a peek into their kitchen and signed our book! Definitely a birthday dinner to remember.

Tetsuya's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, August 5, 2019

Three weeks...

I didn't realise how long three weeks (and 3 days) actually feels. It's weird how last year, 6 weeks in America just flew by (plus additional placements in Melb/Hobart/NZ), but I guess it was long days from 7am-6pm, and then long commutes back to NYC, or when it was a slightly shorter day, every single bit was trying to pack in things to see and places to eat. Now it's reversed and staying in Sydney while seeing other people go overseas isn't easy. Much respect to those who I know who've been/are in LDR...so thankful that I don't because not sure how I would survive tbh. Only just these three weeks have sort of felt like ldr...and probs another 2 weeks at the end of the year...Placement away from home is different, because I could drive back to Sydney on weekends, whilst you can't really fly from overseas frequently... Times like these also reaffirms some values, like if it was the choice between spending time away from family but earning more money, I would rather less money and more time with family. Time is something you can't buy...Really happy for Blair's successful research/work trip in Finland/Estonia and church conference in Korea. So the time apart was necessary and worth it. Thanks goodness for internet.

Things in HK are still so crazy...Really hope a repeat of 1989 Tiananmen Square doesn't happen...and really hope things will return to 'normal' by November...So incredibly grateful and thankful that my parents decided to move here where they didn't know any English all those years ago before I was born.

Can't believe it's birthday month already. Signed up to some free birthday food since conveniently my birthday is on my day off, but I feel like I'm at that age where I'm starting to ceebs...Guess it make sup for missing bday food last year since I was in NYC. Ended getting myself another Dyson appliance as a present to myself again this year.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Central Coast Work-Cation

Currently halfway through my 'placement' in the Central Coast, one of two weeks done. As new grads we were supposed to do half a year, but with low metro cover, they shortened my placement from 4 to 2 weeks. The drive up had a lot of road works, since they're widening the road from 2 to 3 lanes. The parts which are already 3 lanes are so smooth and well paved, but once you turn off the highway, so many potholes everywhere. It's also so hard to drive through pouring rain since sometimes the lanes don't have the reflectors of the roads (and of course no street lights).

It sort of feels like a mini  holiday since I'm staying at a hotel. The accommodation is actually pretty good, although still around a 25min drive to work, but a smooth drive. Work in Syd is also a 25min on weekends but every minute you're stopped by a traffic light, whereas here in the Central Coast, there's only like 1 traffic light on the drive, and most of the road is around 80 (compared to average main Syd roads 60).

Patient demographic is very different, feels like 'retirement town'. There are kids, but the average age of patients I see is 80. Everyone is very nice (just a bit slow as expected).

Having my own place is nice, but I don't think I could ever live by myself in a place. Although I love peace and quiet at home, it's nice to have someone else in the house with you, even if you're not talking, just the presence is nice. Also would feel so bored if I moved to a regional town by myself. This place I'm at is just over an hour from home, so it's not really regional. Around 1/4 of the restaurants are opened at night, and feel like a ghost town, but there is still some entertainment around. If I moved rural, I would be so bored, and also impossible to meet up with friends. Already missed some catch ups since working here for a bit. Idm missing a few here and there, but not permanently. This short term stint working not in metro Syd has been a good experience so far.

Just over a week ago attended a friend's wedding. I love going to weddings, and my heart is so full of joy and happiness. It's inconvenient how I have to take leave for weddings cause of ft work, but it's worth for closer friends. People who just invited me to ceremony only unfortunately I have to reject since I literally don't have enough leave. It's weird how winter isn't really considered 'wedding season', but nowadays, every week is wedding week. Like that day I went to the wedding, there were 3 other weddings of friend's of friends. In September, I know of every week someone is getting married (sort of glad some of them didn't invite me so I don't feel bad saying no...) Also know friends getting married Oct and Nov (know them enough to say hi but wouldn't consider friends).

Guests lists are tricky, especially with so many people and their plus ones. Also if we invite them but then they split before we get married...or just not invite their plus ones, but then they may feel awkward coming by themselves...since although weddings are a happy day, I could sense from some people who are single it's not the most comfortable day for them...just some rambling thoughts...

Did a road trip to Canberra yesterday, as Blair needed to go to the Estonia Embassy. The road there was pretty much flat and super well paved, unlike Central Coast where you go through, up and down mountains. I guess the nation's capital needs to be well accessible. I really love driving through Canberra roads, so spacious are hardly any cars. They also have a light rail which recently opened in April, also looks pretty much like our light rails in Sydney. Houses in both Canberra and the Central coast are sooooo cheap compared to Sydney...Like half the price for some at the Central Coast. Guess that's why quite a few people live up there and drive to Sydney for work.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

10 months to go

Can't believe it's already 10months to go, and we're also almost halfway through the calendar year. I think I have gotten used to the routine of full time work, but if I didn't have things to look forward to (not just getting married), but meeting up with friends or events to go to, it would make work life mundane.

I think for 10 months, I have gotten pretty much all the 'big stuff' sorted out. I know I'm gonna stress about the small stuff, probably 2 months before. Mainly timings of things and lack of help from people from set up etc. I just don't have the manpower, and although most people get people from their church to help, well I've never helped anyone's church wedding, and have stopped going to my childhood church for over a year (not that I was close to anyone to begin with even if I have known them from birth), it's just stressing over who can help without feeling guilty asking people for help. I like to organise a lot of stuff myself, but I know I'll need people to help. Even simple things like transporting a flower vase isn't easy when you think about the technicalities like who is taking it and who will drive them, let alone trying to organise food and stuff (or I can do it the easy way and just not have food lol).

There are some bloggers/vloggers who do 'Wedding Wednesday' or post/video every single step of their wedding planning. I guess they get money from it, but here are just some of my thoughts on wedding planning so far:
Dress
- Wedding dress is the number one biggest waste of time. From looking online at night, on your daily commute, then searching up websites, to making appointments at multiple places, each place taking around an hour, I could easily say I spent a ridiculous of at least 20 hours (at least 5 try on places-I lost count, then an hour or two every second day looking at websites). It's also the biggest waste of money, hence yolo. I tried to like something online, but couldn't find any and also didn't want to risk it.
- Dress prices also don't include alterations, which cost on average $500, yeah, not cheap. Managed to just stay under my budget though (after increasing my original budget so I guess I didn't really save that much). I'm just glad that's out of the way, cause it also takes a freaking 6 months to make, and you have to factor in alteration time after. So apparently I'm right on time with timings...although not sure how people with short engagements like some optom colleagues who have less than 9mths from engagement to wedding...I guess that's why express dress orders also exist...I also ended up going back to the first dress I tried lol, so all that 20hrs outside of work could've been spent doing something more productive...
- Compared to other things like rings, 1hr at the jewellers, 1hr checking at event spaces, decisions all made after looking at the first places we looked at (these all cost a lot more than a dress). Ironically they also were the easier decisions.

Flowers
- No such thing as cheap flowers. Even small businesses on social media actually might charge more or about the same as a florist with a shop front. There are actually heaps of florist who work from home without a shop front, but still not cheap. Even if you get a friend to do flowers for you, yes it's a bit cheaper since I guess you don't have to pay for labour hours, but the actual flowers aren't cheap, and it doesn't look quite as nice (unless you're not picky, but apart from my grad, wedding is the only time I'll ever order some nice flowers to celebrate the occasion)

Cake
- I actually booked my cake before getting my dress because #priorities. So keen for people to try the flavours. Although still have yet to decide on the size, since I don't want to see leftovers go in the bin...Cake testing portions were pretty generous.
- Again, no such thing as a cheap cake (and I didn't even mention the word wedding at time of quote lol). Even normal occasion cakes cost more. Like my 21st Unbirthday cake, it was $275 with customised colours and details. Now a similar 2 tier cake is $425 without macarons or edible flowers or chocolate gems, includes delivery though, but normal chocolate is cheaper than flowers etc, so that inflation was crazy high since 4 years ago...Pretty much any social media baker or home baker charges similar prices now, not as expensive as cake shops, but a lot more than expected.

Makeup and Hair
- Another over priced section, but just like flowers, only time in my life I'll pay someone to do my MUH (apart from yr 12 formal, but that was a family friend who did it for cheap just for fun). I guess make up itself is expensive, and you pay for their skill (just like flowers).

Honeymoon
- Really it's an excuse for a holiday. People have different priorities, some have super fancy weddings and other don't. I guess I could've save money for a house (lol I kid, what house deposit when there's a wedding to be paid for) by having a cheaper honeymoon (like anywhere in Asia), but I value travel, experiences and culture. Decided to have reception at a not fancy city view or fancy food restaurant to save money for honeymoon in Europe. 'Europe? Again?' - Is literally every person's reaction when I tell where we want to go lol.
- Also limited by the fact that I only started work this year, so will be on negative annual leave. Hence, can't go overseas for long anyway. Would've loved a long honeymoon, but that's not the point so it doesn't matter if it's short or long.

Photography
- A major aspect in this overpriced industry where they charge a million times more once you mention the word 'wedding.' For this, I didn't even bother asking for quotes. We just went with a friend's friends recommendation. Although not a professional 'wedding photographer,' he's done some weddings for friends, so he should know what to do. We were pretty happy with our engagement shots (again, not cheap, but thanks to Blair for his generosity since that guy's full time work is more purposeful than a proper wedding photographer). I think as long as they can edit photos even from really bad lighting is good enough (our engagement shoot was on the verge of raining/cloudy skies so he did a really good job).
- This is something I originally was a bit picky about getting a 'professional' and even though we don't really save money, at least more comforted that we're funding out photographer's Bible college studies rather than just for profit wedding industry. Again, different people have different priorities/budgets. I think at the end of the day, I'm not going to be sad that the photo didn't turn out as good as I expected to be, since it's the fact that we're getting married and the memories which are more important to me.

Wow, my rambles turned out longer than expected. As per usual on my days off, I have not done any cleaning/throwing away of things. I think I've sort of decided to leave my things are my parents place when I move out, and if they ever sell the house, I'll come back to throw stuff away...

Monday, June 17, 2019

Although our government hasn't been really stable these past few years, I'm still so grateful that my parents moved to Aus all those years ago. The past few weeks/days have been so crazy in HK. Have to acknowledge the persistence of all the protestors. Although I do have to wonder what's going to happen when 2047 comes, and the whole 50 year thing since 1997 comes up...I'm just grateful my family there is safe.

The great thing about Sydney Metro is that it has really freed up traffic jams on the m2, esp leaving the city during peak hour. On my occasionally days off trekking to the city, there's like no traffic, but like in 2013 where there was minimal traffic on the m2 (and back then it was only 2 instead of 3 lanes). The closest station is still a 8min drive from my house, but I realised all the stations except for a few like Castle Hill, Showground, all are situated on the outskirts of the suburb, so hence why they built car parks since you need to drive there. The Cherrybrook station has the smallest carpark, probs cause land is more expensive, and further out North West you go, the car parks are so big. Like Kellyville and Bella Vista car parks are at least 4x bigger than Cherrybrook. Then at Tallawong because there's so much land out there, they just did open space car park instead of multi-storey with no roof over the top. The car park there is so big, it'll probs stake around 10min walk to the station since it's like the size of a couple  football fields. Although I probs won't live in Cherrybrook much longer, I'm glad this side of Sydney finally has some sort of transport. Still have to drive since everyone in this area has around 2-4cars per household, cause you can't survive without a car in the Hills, but better than clogging up roads/increasing traffic.

The current apartment situation around Sydney is so crazy. So many new properties, but then places like the Opal Towers and Mascot Towers with structural defects. If you're living in ti or using it as a investment property, you'll never be able to sell it, and you still need to pay the bank more than what it's worth. Literally your savings go down a drain. Like the Mascot building is not even 10 year old, means pretty much any apartment in the past few years also risk structural defects. You can't even sue the builders because they have either deregistered and changed company names or have already gone broke...Some buildings now have some cladding on it as well which makes things complicated since off the plan apartments won't even tell you what the actual building is made of. Colleague of mine when she inspected her apartment in Epping before settling in, had cracks across the glass door and kitchen bench which they probably just flipped over to hide it on the final inspection. If the apartment inside is already dodgy, then imagine what sort of material or lack of good material the actual building would be...Even though low interest rates atm, you really don't know which apartments are dodgy until way late, esp off the plan you can't even examine what you're buying...Not that I have the money, but current news puts me off investing in apartments cause of dodgy construction only coming up 10 years later...

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Graduated! 🎓

Finally graduated! 6 years of blood, sweat and literal tears. I can't be bothered to upload photos here, so refer to my insta post, or if you have Blair on fb, go to the grad album (thanks for the amazing edits Blair, since sunset lighting with shadows was shockingly bad). Thank you to all my friends, family and especially Blair for all your support. Would not have been able to graduate without everyone's help.

It was a logistical nightmare on the day, trying transport whole fam plus overseas relatives there, plus a night time graduation where the sunsets at 5pm, so limited lighting. Luckily could pick up the gown from 3.30pm and get some decent shots. Still can't believe both my grandmas travelled to attend. So thankful my fam managed to be able to find paid parking, since apparently some days the paid parking was all full.

There was a time when I thought graduations were overrated (maybe especially during my salty year when everyone was graduating, or friend who graduated 3 years before me), but then it is the only time in my life where I could celebrate this milestone. Research life isn't for me, so pretty sure I won't be graduating again. Salty days are over (I think). There was about 12 of us graduating with double Bachelors, and rest of the optom crew with Masters due to the course change structure. The 12 of us failed after we passed 3rd year, so couldn't get the Masters even though we literally did the same course, and same classes and everything. Stupid uni logistics...so maybe still a little bit salty, but I guess having a double Bachelors means I'm still 'older' within the industry, since they'll know whoever is graduating with a Masters is defs a new or recent grad...

So happy with how the flowers turned out. They still smell so sweetly fresh 2.5 days later, especially since on the day I literally just chucked them around. Those big roses are so much more fragrant than the small roses or the ones we have in our garden. I love the sweetness of the rose. Although I don't understand how rose fragranced hand creams/perfumes etc are so sickly gross and strong of artificial rose smell....I actually hate rose flavoured skin stuff, apart from rose flavoured food. Now I can appreciate expensive roses due to their smell. Also understand why people buy flowers for their house even though a normal bouquet isn't cheap, but good quality flowers just make the whole house smell amazing.

It's such a sigh of relief to finally have that damn piece of paper and a fancy plaque (both of which I have absolutely no use for, since it's weird to display in the office since people will be like you're a new grad...) Graduations so much more high tech compared to like 2016 when Blair graduated. There's now live streams, can also download live stream, printout of on stage photo, and got to keep the grad cap. Although I think they probs charge us more for graduations now.

Coincidentally, day after I graduated, the store got a new sign with my name on it. So come find me for glasses.