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Posts Tagged ‘Travelling’

Cafe Ekberg, Helsinki, Finland

Café Ekberg has been around since 1852. They serve buffet breakfasts and daily lunch specials, however, we were here for a quick stop during our shopping expedition as Dragon was asleep and I needed to sit down (she was sleeping on the hip seat and I have been walking with her ‘attached’ to me like a koala for at least 4 hours!)

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Café Ekberg is a very popular café and not only does it serve breakfast and lunch, it also serves great pastries and cakes. It is famous for the napoleon which we ordered and I have to say, I can understand why. Pastry flaky and the cream filling were not super rich. Perfect with a cup of tea!

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I also couldn’t go past the ginger bread – it wasn’t too sweet and didn’t have a strong ginger taste which Dragon also loved!

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Service was friendly and polite. The place was busy no matter what time it was but the pastries are definitely worth going for.

Next door to the café is a patisserie in which you can buy more cakes and bread to take home. We bought a couple of bread for Dragon to eat and no doubt she demolished them!

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On the first few nights we were in Helsinki, Dragon and I were still very jet lag. ‘The Mother’ has been in Europe a week earlier so he was ok and has adjusted. Unfortunately for him, Dragon and I ended up sleeping rather early, mid-afternoon early, 4.30pm on the first day and then 5.30pm on the second day. He was so looking forward to going out for dinner with us, however, we were so tired that an earth quake couldn’t wake us up!

On one of the nights, he went to get Hesburger – Finland’s version of McDonalds – he bought me a chicken burger and chicken nuggets for Dragon. I have to say, it was pretty decent and I preferred this over Mc Donalds.

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Jet lag is never fun, she got up at 2am the first day we were there. It took her about 4 – 5 days to go back to normal. Rule of thumb I hear, one day for each hour, which is about right.

So unfortunately we didn’t go out for dinner very often in Helsinki as we ate a lot of Pizza, and left over pasta! HA!

GA’s rating Café Ekberg: 7.5 / 10

Address: Bulevardi 9, 00120 Helsinki

Tel: +358 9 6811 860

Wonton House, Melbourne

We had originally wanted to go to Hutong for dinner in China Town but it was fully booked. Our fault for not organising it early enough! ‘The Mother’, Brother in Law and I were catching up with two of our friends in Melbourne, P and R. A lot of places we thought of was either closed or fully booked, so we took a stroll down China Town and P suggested this place.


Oddly though, as the name suggests, Wonton House, we did not order any wontons or any dumplings! Thought we would each pick a dish…

Fish and bbq pork tofu hot pot. Usually one of my favourite dish in Chinese restaurant but this was average. The tofu was nice, but the fish I thought had too much batter.


The beef in black bean sauce I thought was ‘different’. The sauce was way too thick and salty, it was a shame cause the beef was incredibly tender!


I really liked the salt and pepper fried tofu. Lightly battered, the tofu was soft and extremely yummy! Couldn’t help but eat more than one!


Lastly, watan hor – thick rice noodles topped with thick egg gravy sauce with seafood was a winner amongst the diners.


Overall the food was ok. From memory, the total bill came to $85.00 – which is ok but definitely have had better Chinese food in Sydney.

After dinner, we went for dessert. Can’t for the life of me remember the name of the cafe, but we shared Bailey’s cheese cake and OH MY! It was absolutely divine! Absolutely loved it!


It was definitely lovely to catch up with P and A – hoping to catch up with you both soon!

GA’s ratings: 6 / 10

Wonton House

181 Russell St

Melbourne, VIC 3000

Ph: +61 3 9662 9882

Wonton House on Urbanspoon

Bali here I come…

September 20, 2011 9 comments

It’s been almost 3 years since my last visit to Bali and I can’t remember the number of times ‘The Mother’ and I have been. I first took ‘The Mother’ to Bali when we first started dating and has fallen in love ever since! He even wanted Bali to be our last honeymoon destination and what a brilliant idea that was after a whirl-wind trip! Swimming in our own private pool, sipping cocktails and eating wonderful food!

The first time I took ‘The Mother’ to Indonesia, I think it was a shock to his system! Bad traffic, bad pollution and a horrendous amount of people – ‘The Mother’ just doesn’t like crowds! Also, it is not the cleanness place, so he had the Indonesian belly! I think the highlight though would be the road trip from Malang to Bali, and stopping mid-way at Gunung Bromo, an active volcano and part of the Tengger massif in East Java Indonesia. My wonderful Aunt and Uncle, took their kids (my cousins) and us and have to say, we had an AWESOME time! The view was just spectacular and we got up at a ridiculous time to watch the sunrise – well worth it!

For those who knows me well, will know that I have created a list of food that I would like to eat. Since I am going to just Bali and not all the food and snacks are the same in Indonesia, I have given that list to my parents and cousins who has outsourced to my aunts and uncle all over Indonesia to buy! God Bless them!

My passticerie cousin is getting married in Bali and I have been looking forward to it since the day she told me! She made my gorgeous wedding cake below – and the figurine too! No dear cousin, I will not be returning the favour and making your wedding cake! BUT I will see you soon.

So… Bali here I come! I am so looking forward to the food, no doubt there will be a lots of food consumed, especially the suckling pig at Ibu Oka. Looking forward to a bit of sun (ok a lot of sun and warm weather!), reading, R&R and catching up with the family.

See you all when I get back! May do a quick post whilst in Bali… we’ll see!

Earl Canteen, Melbourne

I had the pleasure of going to Melbourne last week for a long weekend. Virgin and Qantas had cheap flights and my brother and I couldn’t help but get tickets. Cheap flights, great food – what’s there not to like.

There were a couple of restaurants that I had to go – Cutler and Co was on top of my list! So were Movida, Cummulus, HuTong Dumpling Bar, Earl Canteen and a couple more. However, unfortunately, we didn’t get to eat at all those places. Most places either don’t take reservation or they were fully booked – FIVE WEEKS IN ADVANCE! Who plans that far ahead? Clearly not me!

I was in Melbourne with the family and my brother and sis-in-law, I noticed that the bigger the group, the hardere it was to just rock up and get a table.

We started with Earl Canteen, which can be found in Melbourne CBD. It’s hidden behind the NAB building at 500 Bourke Street, and we were lucky enough to get a table straight away, right next to the kitchen. The place was busy, diners queuing, ordering their food and diners waiting to eat.

F ordered the pork belly – crisp skin otway pork belly, apple, cabbage and fennel coleslaw, wilted silverbeet, baguette ($13.50). My goodness – crispy pork belly with crackle!!! It was defliciously tender and succulent. The bread was slightly toasted and was crunchy. I heard the pork is cooked for 16 hours, overnight and then in the oven the next morning. F loved it, I probably should have ordered this, but instead opted for something else.

My parents and sis-in-law, O, ordered the Earl lunch box which consisted of a sandwich, salad and seasonal fruit friand ($13.50). Compared to the pork belly baguette, this looked totally unappealing, but it tasted better than it looked! Both opted for the free range chicken paper roll with avocado, corn and saffron mayonnaise. The salad, zucchini, green beans, currant and almonds were delicious, but the pork belly ROCKED!

I ordered the hot smoked huon salmon, quinoa, lentils, beans and piquillo peppers ($11). Generous chunks of salmon, which was tender and succulent. The quinoa, lentils, beans and peppers were a great complement. It was seriously tasty!

I can see why Earl Canteen is SO popular. Service was quick and efficient. If I worked in  Melbourne CBD, this would definitely be my local!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

F’s ratings: 8 / 10

Earl Canteen

500 Bourke Street (enter via Little Bourke)

Melbourne 3000

Ph: +61 3 9600 1995

EARL Canteen on Urbanspoon

Tokyo Eateries, Part 2..

More on the Tokyo eateries…..

7. Genpin Fugu, Shinjuku

One thing I wanted to eat in Japan was FUGU! Also known as puffer fish, it can be lethally poisonous due to its tetrodotoxin, a poison that is 1200 times more lethal than cyanide. It only takes a small amount to kill a person and each blow fish contains enough to kill 30 people, therefore has to be carefully prepared. I am not quite sure what my obsession with fugu is but I HAD to try it. Not sure if it’s trying to live dangerously or the simpsons episode but I was determined to eat it.

Genpin Fugu is a restaurant that serves fugu and nothing else. There are many branches; however, ‘The Mother’ and I went to the one in Shinjuku. Upon entering the restaurant, there is a fish tank where your meal is still swimming around in it. It is one of the ugliest fish I have ever seen!

‘The Mother’ and I opted for one set course (they are really into their set courses!) plus another serving of hot pot.

We started with the ‘Yubiki’ – boiled chopped skin served with sauce which was AMAZING! The sauce consisted of soy sauce, shallots, garlic and onions. The fugu was fresh, it was a little chewy but eaten with the sauce was quite tasty.

Next the fugu sashimi. The sashimi itself was a little dull and tasteless, it has a similar texture to yellow tail but it has a really interesting effect of numbing your mouth after a few bites. Dipped in sauce, it gave it more flavouring and taste. Surprisingly, both ‘The Mother’ and I really enjoyed it.

The fugu hot pot – now this was incredible and you have to see it to believe it. Cooked on the table in the most amazing pots, it’s a basket with a piece of paper lining – yes just a paper lining! You then cook everything in there – I was amazed and I kept wondering how this paper didn’t rip or whiltered?

The sauce – I LOVED! One of the best I have ever eaten.

The different cuts of fugu – ready to be boiled and eaten.

Cooking the fugu and vegetables.

The boiled fugu was wonderful, it was still a tad chewy and tasteless but again with the sauce was excellent.

The ‘Zousui’ – porridge of rice and egg yolks cooked with the broth and as horrible as it looks, it was actually quite tasty. Similar to that of porridge, it was moist and more watery than porridge or congee. ‘The Mother’ had about three bowls, he definitely enjoyed it.

Lastly, dessert, a scoop of macadamia ice cream, it was creamy with big chunks of macadamia and was the perfect way to end the meal.

I really wanted to try the ‘torafugu karaage’ – deep fried fugu, but ‘The Mother’ was full and well I doubt I could have eaten the whole thing on my own.

Everything was fresh, I have heard that this delicacy can get really expensive. One set meal and an extra hot pot costs about (5900 yen, which is about AUD 72).

We both survived it, so if you feel like you want to live dangerously for a night and want to try something different, go for it, try the fugu!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

‘The Mother’s’ ratings: 7.5 / 10

Genpin Fugu

2F, 3-8-2 Shinjuku,

Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Ph: +81 3 3341 9529

6. Soba and Tempura, Akasuka

‘The Mother’ and I were meeting some friends for lunch who has recently moved to Tokyo for work – LUCKY SOD! So jealous! ‘The Mother’ worked with H and luckily for him, got a transfer to Tokyo to work.

Unfortunately S, H’s beautiful wife, couldn’t be there as she had a big night the night before and was not feeling too great. S had picked this wonderful all you can eat restaurant, she loves food just as much as I do, however, H could not find it, so we went to the first restaurant that we saw which was this soba house, call Tanakaya.

Soba is a thin buckwheat noodles which can be eaten either hot or cold and are great all year long.

‘The Mother’, H and I all opted for the tempura, soba lunch set, except H opted for the cold soba. Prepared in a different way to that of pasta, most Japanese noodles, including soba are rinsed vigorously in cold running water to get rid of excess starch. The cold soba was served on a sieve-like bamboo tray called a zaru with dipping sauce known as soba tsuyu on the side. The tsuyu is made of a strong mixture of dashi, sweetened soy sauce and mirin.

It was a cold day and I couldn’t bear the thought of eating cold soba, so opted for the hot soba. It was served in a bowl of hot tsuyu, which is thinner than that used as a dipping sauce for chilled soba. The soba was cooked to perfection and delicious, I couldn’t help but keep slurping the soba – it was good.

The tempura, was served on a bowl of rice, prawns, fish, eggplant and pumpkin – it was wonderful and a great complement to the soba. The rice was a little too much for my liking!

It was great catching up with H, I am a little jealous of his new venture in Tokyo! It was an enjoyable meal, and reasonably cheap too, about 1400 yen (AUD 20).

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

‘The Mother’s’ ratings: 8 / 10

Soba Tanakaya – www.soba-tanakaya.com

5. Gonpachi, Roppongo Hills

If you have watched kill bill, then you will recognise the battle scene – it is one that is not forgotten easily. Uma Thurman in her yellow jumpsuit with her big samurai sword being all scary and well quite impressive in my opinion. This restaurant can be found near Roppongo hills in Tokyo.

I have heard about this restaurant from various friends, and was keen to check it out (and because I am a Kill Bill fan!). Upon entering, we were greeted by all the staff who loudly shout their welcomes in unison. We didn’t have a reservation but were offered a table by the bar which suited us fine.

‘The Mother’ didn’t want the set menu – too much food he claims so we opted for a la carte. We started with the grilled miso glazed back cod and it was as delicious as it looked! It was served with a mound of grated daikon. The cod was wonderfully cooked, the skin was caramelised and sticky and the miso marinade was delightfully sweet. A great start!

‘The Mother’ and I were highly impressed with the kakuni stewed pork belly with radish served with half a boiled egg. The pork belly was so tender it just fell apart. It was brilliant, we couldn’t help but fight for every single last piece.

The japanese wagyu beef steak was to die for. Served medium rare, the beef just melted in the mouth, no chewing required and the grated daikon was a great complement. This was definitely a winner for me.

The charred grilled eggplant with chicken miso sauce and cheese was delicious. Soft tender eggplant baked with miso and sprinkled over cheese – it was gooey and cheesy. ‘The Mother’ didn’t want any of this, so yes, I ate the whole thing myself! Appalled? I was!

‘The Mother’ opted for the kake soba – plain noodels served in hot broth. It was plain but ‘The Mother’ certainly enjoyed it.

They do have set meals if you don’t want to pick and choose. The restaurant is simple but wonderfully decorated. I love the lanterns hanging from the ceiling. The waitress were attentive and service excellent. It was a fun and buzzing restaurant  at affordable prices. I would definitely recommend Gonpachi, even if its just for lunch and to check out the fighting scene!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

‘The Mother’s’ ratings: 7.5 / 10

Gonpachi

1F,2F, 1-13-11 Nishiazabu,

Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0031

Ph: +81 3 5771 0170

Hope you have all enjoyed part two of Tokyo Eateries. Last post of Tokyo eateries to come shortly.