It Just Has To Be Delicious

Archive for March, 2018

Chicken with chilli, ginger and mushrooms

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This is a Ken Hom recipe which I have adapted and every time I cook it, I get compliments from our guests. The original version does not use chilli, so you can leave it out if you want to, but I think it adds a nice dimension. The chunks of chicken in my picture are quite large but if you are feeding a  lot of people, make smaller chunks so that it cooks more quickly and evenly.

If you want to serve it with special fried rice as in the picture, make sure that you have some cold cooked rice available. This is then fried in a wok in a little oil with onion, frozen peas and egg approx 4-5 minutes before serving the chicken. Fry the onion first so that it is soft, add the peas so that they thaw, then either add a pre-cooked one egg omelette that has been chopped into small pieces, or cook a raw egg in the oil and break it up with the spatula before adding the rice. Toss the rice around in the wok to distribute the onion, egg and peas, and keep going until it is heated through.

Another bit of prep to do at least 30 minutes before cooking is to take the dried mushrooms, put them in a bowl or jug, and cover them with boiling water to give them time to reconstitute. You don’t have to use dried mushrooms, but if you do, you get a real depth of flavour and you can use the mushroom water to make the stock.

For the Chicken, ginger and mushroom you need (serves 2-4 people):

Chicken – thighs are more juicy, but you can use breast if you prefer, 100-200g per person should be plenty. This should be filleted and cut into 1 inch chunks.

Chicken marinade – this is enough for 2-4 servings:
Light soy sauce – 2 teaspoons
Shaoxing rice wine (or sherry) – 1 tablespoon
Sesame oil – 1 teaspoon
Cornflour – 2 teaspoons
Black pepper – approx half a teaspoon

Other ingredients:
Dried mushrooms – 25g – make sure these are soaked at least 30 mins ahead of cooking.
Fresh mushrooms (get a nice exotic mixture if you can – shiitake, cloud ears, brown) – 25g
Chilli – 1 small chilli of any variety – regular (or jalapeno if you are a chilli fan)
Ginger – must be fresh – 3 tablespoons peeled and cut into shreds
Garlic – 2 tablespoons peeled and chopped
Shallots or red onion – approx 4 tablespoons finely sliced – this equates to about half a red onion
Fish sauce – 1 tablespoon
Oyster sauce – 1 tablespoon
Sugar – 2 teaspoons
Chicken stock – 150mls – you can buy this ready made or make it up with the mushroom soaking water and a heaped teaspoon of good quality chicken stock powder
Groundnut oil – for cooking – probably a few tablespoons, I always guess mine
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh coriander and spring onion for a garnish – if you have some handy – this is optional

Method:
Things to do 30 minutes before cooking:

  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in water that you have just boiled in the kettle. They should be soft after about 30 minutes – leave them longer if not. Save the soaking water to make the stock (but remove any leftover bits from it by straining through a tea strainer). Remove the stalks and discard them, slice the mushrooms and set aside.
  2. If you haven’t got stock already made up, make up 150ml of chicken or vegetable stock by either a) using a stock cube or b) a heaped teaspoon of good stock powder with 150 – 200 mls of the mushroom water. Simmer in a little pan to dissolve all of the cube or powder and set aside. Bear in mind that some will evaporate so use more than 150mls of water and top it up if necessary.
  3. Marinate the chicken in 2 teaspoons of light soy, 1 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and some salt and pepper. Ken Hom says to use one and half teaspoons of salt, but I leave the salt out because the soy is quite salty. I do add about half a teaspoon of pepper though. Once the liquid marinade is mixed through, add about 2 teaspoons of cornflour and mix again – this will make the coating thicker and cling to the chicken, give it a good mix so that it isn’t lumpy.
  4. Prep all the ingredients – peel and finely slice the ginger, garlic and shallots, slice the mushrooms. Slice the chilli and remove the seeds if you don’t like your food too spicy.

Cooking the chicken for the first time (this can be done in advance if you are prepping this for a busy dinner party):

  1. This first cooking gives the chicken the flavour of the ginger and chilli and also makes the ginger and chilli lovely and crispy to add another nice texture to the dish.
  2. Put approx 2-3 tablespoons of groundnut oil in a pan or wok and heat it until it is just smoking.
  3. Add the chilli and ginger and fry for a minute until crispy.20180330_180742.jpg
  4. Add the chicken and fry for another 4-5 minutes until almost cooked. The time will depend on how big the chunks are – if in doubt slice a piece to see if it is almost cooked through – if it is too pink, leave longer.20180330_18083820180330_181442
  5. Drain the chicken and reserve approx 1 tablespoon of the oil. Keep all of the crispy chilli and ginger pieces. If you are clever in the way that you do this, you shouldn’t have to clean the pan.

Putting it all together:

  1. Reheat the wok or pan with the remaining tablespoon of oil (don’t worry if you lost it all, just add another tablespoon of fresh oil).
  2. Add the shallots and garlic and fry for a minute to soften.
  3. Add the mushrooms (dried and fresh), and continue to stir fry and soften.20180330_181801
  4. Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce, stock and sugar. Return the chicken to the pan.20180330_181848
  5. Leave to simmer for 3-5 minutes to make sure that the chicken is cooked through.20180330_182228
  6. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to adjust seasoning if necessary.
  7. Serve with rice and garnish with fresh coriander and sliced spring onions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon Palace, Joondalup

Dragon Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dragon Palace is my favourite spot in Northbridge for dim sum/yum cha, and they have recently opened a branch more locally to me in Joondalup. Word has passed around quickly that there’s dim sum in Joondalup, and every Sunday there are queues of hungry diners outside waiting for their number to be called.

Like the Northbridge joint, you register your name and number of diners, and receive a raffle ticket, the prize being your table, once it’s ready. Dragon Palace provide all of the regular dim sum favourites, and you can also order a la carte or from the dim sum menu if your choice is not available on the trolleys.

We didn’t want a huge amount and just chose a few of our favourite dishes, starting off with a pot of Jasmine tea.

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The first food that we selected from the trolley was sticky rice in lotus leaf. This is a wonderful package of sticky rice and mixed meats wrapped and steamed in a lotus leaf – it’s like unwrapping a present because you never know what’s going to be inside – and it was a lovely selection of tasty chicken, pork, egg and mushroom. It was also nice to be given a bowl of chilli oil sauce at the start of the meal with out having to ask for it.

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We also chose siu mai prawn and pork dumplings – a classic dim sum dish – and ours tasted juicy and well seasoned.

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The prawn and coriander dumplings were equally succulent:

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My personal favourite is crispy seafood dumplings – always served with mayo (and sometimes the mayo has mango in it). Yum.

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We finished up with wor tip – fried Shanghai style dumplings filled with meat, leeks, cabbage, and other delights, and served with the essential red vinegar accompaniment.

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I really enjoyed the meal, but there are currently two problems at this restaurant. Firstly there is no lobby, just some sliding doors at the entrance, so flies get in quite easily, and it can be a bit distracting having to wave flies away from your food. Secondly, they haven’t quite got the service right. We were seated by the window and had long periods of waiting for a trolley to arrive. With just a bit of logistical thought, the restaurant could organise the timing of the trolleys better so that every table gets some service without having to wait too long. That said, the restaurant is in its infancy, and I am sure that they will soon have the service down pat like the Northbridge restaurant.

Measure, Mount Lawley

Measure Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

If you watched Australian Masterchef in 2016, you would have seen the beautiful dessert creations of Karmen Lu. She just missed out on making the top ten, but her skilful creations stayed in everybody’s memory, and it was great day in Perth when she opened her dessert bar in Mount Lawley. Measure is very popular with the locals. As you walk in there is a busy bar area with a charismatic cocktail bartender, and further back there are quieter tables.

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Karmen serves bar snacks like duck croquettes, arancini and sliders, but the thing that everybody drools for are the desserts, each one carefully thought out for maximum flavour and texture.

I chose the peanut caramel popcorn. A soft peanut bavarois atop a brownie, with caramel popcorn, popcorn gelato, wonderful brulee banana, a chocolate ganache, and salted caramel powder liberally sprinkled over. This was en exquisite dessert – everything matched beautifully and tasted great.

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My partner chose the choc mint. Dark chocolate cremeux, chocolate royaltine (crushed cookies), choc mint soil, cacao nibs, chocolate popping candy, crispy milk foam and river mint gelato. The foam was really delicate and tasty, the river mint more subtle than regular spearmint, and the chocolate was rich dark and gorgeous. Another wonderful grown up dessert.

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The sweet creations are not cheap – ours were $20 each, but they were oh so worth it. Measure is a great way to finish off a meal with a touch of Masterchef class. Highly recommended…and yes Karmen herself was there, working hard behind the pass.

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The Dainty Dowager, Mount Lawley

Dainty Dowager Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Dainty Dowager is on the main Beaufort Street strip just past Clarence Street, and the first thing that you notice is the warm welcome. There are obviously many regulars here judging by the number of hugs and warm greetings that the head waitress dishes out. We were seated at a regular table (there are also high bar tables that you can perch at), and considering that it was only 6:30pm the place was buzzing, noisy and vibrant.

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The wait staff are incredibly good here, not overly attentive so that you feel stifled, but they notice straight away when you need a water top up or a fresh napkin.

The menu is made up of small, medium and large dishes, and it is very much designed for sharing. The vibe is Asian fusion, and I found that most items on the menu were tempting – it was difficult to make a shortlist. We started off with a glass of Castelli Riesling first, a lovely drop – floral and citrus – a real champion of Great Southern Rieslings.

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We chose three small dishes. The first to arrive was a sashimi grade fish with ginger plum dressing and burnt chilli aioli. The fish of the day was kingfish, and this dish brought to mind more of a South American style ceviche than a Japanese dish. The aioli was punchy but went really well with the fish and we found it a great and enjoyable plate of food.

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The next dish was a pair of napa cabbage spring rolls with celery leaf, carrot and peach and ginger sauce. This was nice but the spring roll lacked seasoning and really needed the sauce to bring out the flavours. It was beautifully crunchy though.

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Third to arrive were the coal charred pork spare ribs with a sweet sticky marinade and pickled daikon and carrot. Everything about this plate was tremendous, the pickles beautifully done, the ribs melt in the mouth succulent and falling off the bone. If you order just one thing, order these ribs.

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We ordered a medium plate of soft shell crab. This arrived with a som tum salad, and again was a triumphant dish. The crab wonderfully crispy and well seasoned, and the green papaya salad a combination of spicy and citrus, all served with a sweet chilli sauce. Yum.

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The last dish to arrive was a large one – chicken mussaman curry. This was different from a regular mussaman curry, there were no potatoes and the sauce was thinner than usual, but the chicken was beautifully flavoured – it had been cooked sous-vide and then flash fried to make the skin crispy. It had a wonderful gingery depth and was served with tomatoes and snake beans. We had to order the rice separately and were presented with a bowl that was plenty for two.

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At the end of the meal we were pleasantly full and very happy with our choices, keen to return and try the rest of the menu. The only downside was the ambient noise which made it difficult to converse without shouting at each other, but through sign language we enjoyed a wonderful meal.

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Pavilion, Joondalup

Pavilion Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pavilion is a restaurant located at the West Coast Institute in Joondalup. It is a restaurant where hospitality staff are trained, so it’s best to bear this in mind when attending. Sometimes everything runs perfectly smoothly, and sometimes not so, but everybody has to train somewhere, and this aspect is reflected in the price of the food.

I went there for lunch with work colleagues, and the floor was full of eager beaver trainee wait staff who served us admirably, especially young Bella who was assigned to our table.

The menu does not have a massive choice and there is usually only one vegetarian option. The regular choices are 3-4 entrees, mains and desserts. It’s not particularly inventive or masterchef-like, but then again, the objective here is to train wait staff, and to have an over complicated menu would add an extra dimension of difficulty to proceedings. That said, all the food here is very tasty and well prepared.

We ate a set menu for a special staff function. Our starter was a pumpkin and coconut soup. Lovely and smooth, with a bit of a spice kick to it, and perfectly prepared croutons, I enjoyed this very much.

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Then we had a ‘go up and serve yourself’ carvery with a choice of pork or lamb. I chose the pork, and the chef served up a slightly clumsily carved thick slice of pork, when a few smaller slices would have been preferable. This was served with apple sauce, potatoes dauphinoise, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin, crispy roast potato cubes and gravy. I really enjoyed the food, despite having to cut large chunks off of my ginormous slice of pork. The veggies were a little underdone, but this is probably intentional as carvery vegetable sit around on the heaters for a while (and probably eventually become overdone).

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Dessert was a lemon tart or an orange chocolate mousse. The orange chocolate mousse was luscious and very moreish with some wonderful candied nuts on top. The lemon tart was nicely made and served with fruit.

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We were offered tea and coffee and the meal was complete. There were a few ‘accidents’ in the dining room, a few dropped glasses, and some service mistakes here and there, but generally it was a very pleasant meal and the staff tried very hard to ensure that we had everything  that we needed.

If you are happy to be served by young trainees, and don’t mind that the service is a little slow and deliberate at times, you will end up having quite a good value delicious meal. The trainees are really enthusiastic and pleasant to chat to. If you are looking for silver service and perfection, then look elsewhere. I liked it, and would be happy to return.

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Grab A Yabby, Mount Lawley

Grab A Yabby Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Grab A Yabby is a hip and happening seafood bar on Beaufort Street, just at the back of block of shops near the IGA. Bright and airy, the menu consists of mainly seafood, but also some steak and ribs options. Our waitress, Rory was a delight – she made us feel welcome and explained the menu in detail to us.

When you sit you are presented with various helpful options for your meal, which can be a messy affair (not advisable to wear your best frock or a white shirt!). You get a plastic bib, napkins, and disposable gloves. Seafood comes with a mallet to crack open the shells and a knife to dig out the flesh, and of course a bowl for the waste shells etc.

We chose a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to drink – a very nice drop indeed, with great fruit on the nose and very reasonably priced.

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To start we chose the signature soft shell crab sliders, and to be honest, I could have eaten a whole plate of them – they were outstanding. Crispy soft shell crab, mayo, lettuce all in a cute brioche bun. Yum.

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For mains we selected a combo – the freshwater crayfish combo – 1lb (about half a kilo) of crawfish and yabbies in our chosen sauce which was XO – a classic Asian sauce of shallots, lemongrass, dried shrimps and scallops. This was served in a bag which was a great idea for ensuring that the shellfish were coated in the sauce, and the bag contained potato and sweetcorn. We also received a pot of rice which was lovely with the sauce drizzled over the top. It was messy fun peeling and extracting the fish meat from the crustaceans, and the staff were readily on hand to give yabby peeling lessons. Once we got into using the mallet, a few pieces of shellfish did go flying, but it was all good delicious fun. Everything was wonderfully fresh and tasty. I really would have loved some bread to soak up the rest of that lovely sauce.

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We also chose a rack of pork ribs which was beautifully presented and served with chips and a lovely little watermelon salad. After finishing the seafood and washing our hands (there is a convenient wash station with soap and paper towels), we disrobed our bibs and moved across the table to the less messy side to eat the ribs.

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The meat on the ribs was succulent and they were well flavoured. The chips were top quality too. If I had one criticism it was that the rib meat didn’t fall apart from the bone and another 30-60 minutes cooking would have made all of the difference, the coating was also a bit on the salty side for me, but not unpleasantly so. At the end of the meal there was no room for dessert, and we went home with very full tummies.

I will definitely return and try some of the other seafood on offer. Grab A Yabby is ideal for groups, it’s fun and it’s good. Give it a try.

Click here for more information on Grab A Yabby.

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Black Kettle, Georgetown, Penang

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Georgetown has some nice coffee shops, and it would take quite some time to visit them all. When I researched the best coffee in Georgetown, two cafes came up time and again – China House and Black Kettle.

Black Kettle is a bistro, patisserie and cafe, and the array of cakes is pretty impressive. As you walk in, the breads and pastries are on display in glass cabinets, available for takeaway or dine-in and it’s really difficult to choose a favourite. We decided to have brunch first, then walk around Georgetown for a while and come back for coffee and cake later.

I chose a cherry blossom tea for my beverage. Black Kettle serve teas from Harney and Sons, and cherry blossom is a flavour that I hadn’t tried before. It was beautiful, crisp and clean with a slight floral and fruit flavour, and so nice that since I returned home, I have been looking for a local supplier.

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My partner chose a flat white, and decided that it was a fabulous coffee, well made, fresh beans, perfectly brewed.

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For breakfast he chose an omelette – duo of cheddar and mozzarella, and this was a triumph, delicious from the first mouthful to the last and accompanied by the house made pain de champagne bread.

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I chose scrambled eggs, house made bread, and tomato. This was lovingly made and each ingredient although simple, had a depth of flavour that made it a wonderfully satisfying and memorable meal. Sometimes simple ingredients, prepared well, make the best meals, and this was a fine example.

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When we returned a few hours later, we had the difficult job of choosing a pastry from the vast selection available.

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After much deliberation, I chose a peach danish, with beautiful melt in the mouth flaky pastry and succulent peaches, with a smooth sweet glaze.

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My partner chose the salted chocolate caramel tart. A beautifully made chocolate case with a layer of caramel and chocolate ganache. Very well constructed.

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What a delight Black Kettle is. It’s modern, airy, everything looks delicious, and the quality shines through. The staff are friendly, and I will definitely return next time I am in Penang.

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Click here for more information on Black Kettle.

Lawleys Bakery Cafe, North Beach

Lawley's Bakery Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Just a quick review here of Lawleys at North Beach. This is one of several Lawleys outlets in Perth and has the advantage of being close to the ocean on Flora Terrace, which is quite lively at weekends with neighbouring Tropico offering great brunches.

As soon as we walked in, we noticed an array of bread, savouries, pastries and cakes. Looking at the menu, Lawleys offer some fairly regular breakfast options, but after seeing the wonderful subs and sandwiches, we couldn’t resist giving them a try. It was nearly lunchtime and a sandwich seemed more appropriate than a brekkie style meal.

I chose turkey, cranberry and brie on dark rye.

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This was a great sandwich, plenty of turkey, not too much cranberry, nice ripe brie, and a suitable helping of salad leaves. the bread was delicious too and the quality shone through.

My partner chose a continental roll on a white baguette.

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Again the bread was superb, the ham and salami were delicious, and the cheese melted temptingly in the middle.

The selection of cakes available here is wonderful – danish pastries, slices, scrolls, buns, sponges and tortes. The hot cabinet contains fresh and appealing pies and sausage rolls, and the cold cabinet contains a great selection of sandwiches, wraps and rolls.

I must come back to report on the other yummy options.

 

Kebaya, Georgetown, Penang

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Kebaya is an amazing location. Tucked away in Stewart Lane, Georgetown on the beautiful Malaysian island of Penang, the dining room and hotel is a renovation of  seven terraced houses. Everything has been achieved to a very high standard from the beautiful traditional tiled floors to the intricate woodwork and chandeliers. When you step into Kebaya, it feels like stepping back into old Penang, and the wait staff greet you with politeness and elegance that makes every customer feel like a star.

We were a little early and sat by the bar having a cocktail before we were seated. I chose a Long Island Iced Tea

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My partner chose a Mojito.

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The bartender lovingly prepared each cocktail by eye (no measures!), and they were served with some nibbles. We were given the menu to peruse while we waited.

The food is Indo-Chinese and Peranakan, and everything on the menu is appealing. I would have tried every dish if it was possible. The menu is MR 128+ per person (approx $42 AUD, or £24) and for this you get an appetiser, a main, a vegetable dish and a dessert. You can order extra dishes if you like, but we found that four dishes each was sufficient.

To start we chose Pai Tee – Crispy ‘ tou hats’ of saltwater school prawns with fresh julienne vegetables & a sweet chilli and coriander sauce.

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We also chose Kebaya Ban Xeo – Crispy wafers stuffed with shredded chicken, bean sprouts, crispy tofu and stir fried vegetables in a tamarind sauce.

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Both starters were served in china egg holders, beautifully put together and succulent. A wonderful start to the meal. A little spicy with each flavour tingling the tastebuds in the most wonderful way.

For mains we chose the following:

Grilled Snapper – Fresh fillet of snapper marinated in a spice paste and wrapped in a banana leaf, grilled over a charcoal flame. This was creamy with a really fresh fillet of fish, and not too spicy, a wonderful contrast to the other flavours provided.

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Lor Ark – Duck confit with caramelised spiced plums & oranges in cinnamon, star anise, clovers & nutmeg. Wow this was a very special dish. The duck was beautiful in flavour and texture, with lovely warm spices, and the plums were absolutely perfectly ripe. This is a dish that I will remember for a long time to come.

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Wing Bean Kerabu – Salad of wing beans, toasted coconut, calamansi lime and sambal belachan. Apologies for the photo – we served some up before taking the photo. This was a wonderful combination of beans, herbs and spices – a great symphony of flavours.

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Thai Soft Shell Crab Salad – with chilli lime dressing, green apples, mango and pomegranate. I love soft shell crab, and this dish was similar to a som tum but with extra punch and texture. I loved it.

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Desserts were as follows:

Chocolate fondant served with vanilla ice cream. Dreamily gooey in the centre, this rich chocolate fondant was one of the best I have ever tasted. The ice cream was top quality, smooth and velvety.

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A special dessert called ‘Silks and Jewels’ consisting of almond panna cotta, glazed on osmanthus flower syrup, topped with candied kumquat, ginger, nutmeg and fresh mandarin. Again, a triumph of a dessert, wonderful exotic, warm, floral and citrus, a dessert that ticked all of the boxes and finished off a very memorable meal.

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I would totally recommend Kebaya Dining Room to anybody coming to Penang for a holiday. It scores highly for ambience, quality, elegance, and overall dining experience and now in my list of favourite restaurants in the world. Amazing.

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Click here to learn more about Kebaya Dining Room.

Miss Chow’s, Whitfords

Miss Chow's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Miss Chow’s is one of a group of new restaurants that have opened in the last 12 months at Whitfords shopping centre. They all seem quite popular with the locals, and we decided to try Miss Chow’s for Sunday lunch after a morning visit to the cinema.

It’s a large open area for dining and we chose to eat inside, although it was a bit chilly with the aggressive air con and fans running.

We didn’t want to order a huge amount, just some dumplings and ribs.

I chose a fresh iced lemon tea to drink. This was lovely, and I could taste the tea as well as the lemon. It had just the right amount of sweetness.

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We ordered three lots of dumplings. No dipping sauce was provided other than with the fried dumplings. There was soy sauce on the table but no small dishes to put the soy into for dipping.

The siu mai prawn and pork dumplings – four in a portion. These are very traditional Chinese dumplings served with almost every dim sum meal. they were very tasty and enjoyable. Sorry about the photo, we ate two of them before I remembered to take a photo.

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We also chose the traditional partner of siu mai – har gow which are crytsal prawn dumplings. Again a portion of four, but they tasted quite bland, the flavour of the prawn did not come through.

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The pan fried dumplings were pork and vegetable (like our favourite War Tip), and served with a sweet chilli oil type sauce, but it didn’t have any real heat to it. The flavour was okay, but not as nice as the previous dim sum restaurants that I have visited.

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The best item that we ordered were the caramelised spare ribs. Served with black vinegar caramel, pineapple, bell peppers and fresh mint, they were succulent and fell off the bone. I wasn’t too keen on the large mint leaves – they could have been shredded. After a while the ribs felt a little too sweet, but generally they tasted quite good.

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So would I go back to Miss Chow’s ? Maybe for the ribs or to try something else from the menu, but not for the dumplings. I have had better dumplings in Northbridge and won’t settle for bland ones.

Click here to read more about Miss Chow’s.

 

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