Stars in suburbia

My absence for so long is probably inexcusable. Many things have been happening. For starters, I’m now back in Singapore. Missing the world out there because I’ve been grounded for 3 months. Three whole months. Seems like an eternity.

I find myself missing Aussieland sometimes. The place I thought I’d be quite happy to leave since I’ve been there for over 2 years.

Memories bring me back to this Spring night in Albany, when we looked up into the sky and saw something we thought was impossible due to light pollution. I guess light pollution is not as great an issue in Albany, Western Australia.

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My first glimpse of the Milky Way!

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The Milky Way in Albany

Although its not as spectacular as in other places, we felt pretty happy seeing it for the first time. Can you imagine how this would look without all the light pollution? I miss the stars in Australia, and hopefully one day I’ll find myself somewhere else looking at an even more magnificent Milky Way!

 

The Tuck Shop Cafe, Northbridge

I’ve walked past Tuck Shop Cafe a number of times, and was always put off by the queue. But one day, Louisa and I decided to brave the queue and find out what exactly was going on. Turns out, it’s one of the better food decisions we have made! So much so that I brought the bf there for a second time.

On my very first Tuck Shop experience: We put our name down for a table, and were told it would be ready in about 15mins. So we crossed the road to just kill time at the Korean supermarket. We got back just in time to be seated, true enough, in 15mins.

The menu was a simple one pager, with the date printed on it. Most items on the menu were below $20 and the pies were just $12.50. I heard the pies were immensely popular but I decided to just select a main. After a bit of deliberation, we decided on these two gems:

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A huge portion of Nicoise Salad.

Louisa loved the Nicoise salad loads! I’m not a tuna fan but it really wasn’t too bad. I loved the meatballs though! The egg was done perfectly, with the yolk oh-so-runny. The portions were huge, and I had alot of trouble finishing the meatballs, even with Louisa’s help. I loved the combination of the tomato and hummus sauces. This is a MUST TRY!!

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Morrocan Meatballs on Flatbread, with a seasoned poached egg

On my second visit, I decided to try something else. We went for mains as usual, although I really got to try the pies one day. Maybe I’ll do that once I’ve finished tasting all the mains.

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Veal and mushrooms, with goat cheese, spinach and egg on bread

Not a cheese fan but OMFG. The goat cheese is fanfuckingtastic. The concept didn’t vary much from the meatballs but the flavours were totally different. For people who like beef and mushrooms, this is a pretty safe choice.

 

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Pork belly, chorizo and potatoes

I must say I really love these two dishes. There was more pork belly on the dish than anything else, but of course I was busy stealing someone’s potatoes and chorizo too. I liked that they also used paprika on their potatoes and spanish onions.

The verdict: This place gives excellent value for your money. What impresses me about the place is the ability to manage crowds really well, something not many places in Perth can do. It was noisy inside but not unbearable. I still hope that one day I wouldn’t have to queue but I doubt that will ever happen. Did I mention that my coffee snob bf loves the latte as well?

The Tuck Shop Cafe on Urbanspoon
 

The Rays of Hamelin Bay

I’ve always wanted to see the Rays of Hamelin Bay but have never been able to. Timing. That was the issue. Down south, I usually go to beaches to admire their breathtaking sunsets and as you can imagine that’s not when the stingrays are present.

One day, we decided to take one last shot at seeing those incredible rays. Right before our lunch at Vasse Felix. When I wore a dress. We saw the rays swimming close to shore but not quite coming in, until this kind lady threw the fish remains in to lure them for us. Aussie hospitality.

Hamelin Bay is a sanctuary for sting rays, and these rays are supposedly friendly because they come near to shore when the fishing boats get back in, so they can feed. Careful of the barb though.

There were about 3 of these Eagle Rays but this one came the closest. Yeah I know, it sucked not to be able to take a pic with the ray, but who do you think took this pic? ; )

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An up-close encounter with a wild Eagle Ray

Hamelin Bay is south of Margaret River, nearer to Augusta lighthouse. Stop by in the morning or noon for a chance to see these rays. They’ll be around whenever fishermen are.

Vegas!

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Finally, I’m in my hotel room in Vegas, ready to go to bed soon. I absolutely cannot wait to sleep but I just have to blog about today.

It was a 4 hour drive which was mostly boring, except for eating In-N-Out, a must try when you are visiting California! I heard they have expanded out of the state though so go google if you are around the States.

This In-N-Out was at Hesperia, CA. Apparently its supposed to be a good stop because you don’t have to deal with queues but holy shit. There were tons of people. My brother, however, confirmed that this is indeed “not so crowded”.

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The In-N-Out Menu

Double double

The Double-double

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Cheese fries and regular fries, made out of potato!

In-N-Out fries are never frozen and you will see and taste the difference. It really is something new. Plus, it’s so cheap! Even my mother who doesn’t fancy Western food raved about the burger because she liked how fresh the veggies are. lol.

And just in case you would like to see how a desert drive from California to Nevada looks like, here you go. Actually forget it, the drive was pretty boring and I can’t find any good pics.  But I saw some animals! Like a whole pack of them but my retarded camera couldn’t capture them. I’m not even sure if they were dingoes or whatever.

After 4 hours, I finally caught a glimpse of the Strip but we were passing Vegas to go to the Premium Outlets (North). The stuff wasn’t bad and I grabbed some jeans, earrings and a blouse but that was it.

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The Vegas Strip

Thank fuck it was only about a 10min drive away from The Strip because I was ready to KO. BUT NOOOO, Caesar’s Palace wouldn’t allow it.

Firstly, the hotel being so huge, was so fucking confusing to drive in. Then when we reached the hotel valet area, the guy told us to head to another fucking valet because they were full and we weren’t premium members. Fine! After 10mins of driving to the other side, the lady there told us we had to return to where the fuck we came from for them to help us with luggage. W T F.

We pointed out that we were sent from there and something awesome happened. She told us to park our car at one side, and told the valet guys to come down to take the luggage from our car right there and then! I love American service standards. Or maybe its just her. All i know is that I would be fucking pissed if she were to send me back where i came from.

We took some of our shopping bags off the car to ease the process of transferring luggage, but fuck, we had to carry all that shit from the stupid valet to the hotel registration area, which seemed liked a mile long to me. On the way, we passed through the casino.

I told my sis, “this is exactly how i imagined Vegas to be, just without me carrying all this shit.” Honestly.

A very annoyed Me joined my family at the check-in counter and then proceeded to the Bell Desk to hand our luggage ticket over. The bell boy took one look at our ticket and said, “Oh sorry, we don’t take these anymore.”

WHATTTTTTTTT?!?!?!?!

Just as I was about to unleash my wrath on this guy behind the desk, he saved himself with two words that doused my anger. “Just joking!”

Two. bloody. seconds. late. and I would’ve been prepared to scream. What is it with American humour now? Wrong time for a joke dude.

And oh my camera batt has died. So more pics tomorrow. Annoying camera.

***

OK so hi, this is two days later not tomorrow. Why is it in the same post then, you may ask? Cos the bloody WiFi is impossible and apparently I exceeded the 500mb of 4G speed so they downgraded me to 2G. Ya i expected a downgrade to 3G but not 2G! 2G is so shit that autocorrect doesn’t even correct it from “2g” to “2G”!

I’ve been spending the last two days shopping, eating and doing lame stuff in casinos (read slot machines).

And we made the visit to Sin City abit more “magical” by going to the David Copperfield show. (PS: his accent reminds me of Phil Dunphy from Modern Family! Not to mention, Phil’s into Magic!)

After watching Now You See Me, I spent most of the show wondering how the fuck he did all those stuff rather than just enjoying the magic. But it was still pretty fun. I haven’t actually been to a magic show before but it certainly isn’t like those on TV where they just keep their mouths shut most of the time and perform magic. He talks! Alot. And, he’s pretty funny.

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This is one of the souvenirs I had sent to my email from Copperfield. If you zoom in you can actually read what went on in this ‘gone to the future’ trick.

For dinner, we went to Gordon Ramsay’s Bar & Grill.

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Gordon Ramsay Bar & Grill at Caesar’s Palace

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Corn Soup with Peekytoe Crab Meat

This soup was delicious but a tad too sweet. But would I order it again? Hell yea!

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1/2 Dozen Oysters

For sides, we ordered mushrooms and also well-done French Fries, or Chips as the English call it. The chips were sadly a letdown as they turned out soggy. I just had to say this because if not I’ll look at the picture I took and think it was awesome. Hah. All of their sides sounded really good though and I would want to try the smashed fingerling potatoes the next time. Mmmm.

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Sauteed Summer Mushrooms with Poached Farm Egg

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English Chips

Ok right now I need to apologize in advance for the poor picture quality of the main dishes. This was because the food took over an hour and everybody was starving. And the last thing you do to starving family is to take pictures of their food. God forbid. Anyone who does that should be shot. So, I only had one shot at each dish the second it was set down on the table. I’m getting hungry now just writing this.

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Roasted Jidori Chicken Breast

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Roasted Brook Trout

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Fillet Mixed Grill

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Big Rib Eye Chop

Just so you know, the last dish was a monster. It was 30oz of cow on that plate! They only serve it Med Rare (good choice) and it was oh so fantastic.

 

Night came and we took a walk along the Strip.

BTW have I mentioned how freaking hot it is in Vegas now? It reminds me soooo much of Perth (just that its a bigger, livelier city). The moment, and i mean that in a unit of time, you step out of any air-conditioned place, a warm breeze envelopes your whole being and you feel like a pig in an oven. Being roasted. Alive. No shit.

My resolution was to stay in aircon as much as possible.

Okok, back to the walk. We went to the Bellagio to see the fountains. It was a bloody huge one, and I found out later that the whole lake was 8 acres.

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Our vantage point

The Fountains of Bellagio paired with the Gods to put on a great show for us. We found a cozy spot just before the dancing waters came to life against the Vegas sky. As the dance began, lightning streaked across the night cityscape, producing a beautiful symphony. This musical was nothing short of awesome. As the waters burst to its’ fullest heights, thunder boomed in the whole city and a great gust of wind created a fine vapour from the fountains that moved slowly toward us.

Everyone could see the mist that got closer, and closer. Finally we felt atomized drops of water on our skin, before we felt bigger drops. And then, suddenly, a torrent of water threatened to drench everybody who didn’t duck in time. LOL. Thankfully we took cover, and my gadgets are safe. Anddd that’s also why I don’t have pics of the fountain dance.

Ok, Grand Canyon tomorrow and we’re going on a helicopter. WEEEE! Never been on one before. Excited!

***

It’s no secret I’m lazy, which is why this whole thing is in one bloody post. Too bad. hahaha. I actually enjoyed San Francisco so much that even when I had Wifi I couldnt be half assed to blog.

We took over an hour on a bus to get to Boulder Airport where we would get on our helicopter to see the Grand Canyon. It was pretty well organized I must say and we paid extra for front seats so that we could see the view better. The $50/pax more was honestly worth it because if you were to be stuck behind, in the middle, you see jackshit. And I did not fly halfway round the freakin world to look at shit.

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Waiting for our flight in overcast weather

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Hoover Dam in the distance

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The Colorado River

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Just random views of the West Rim (because I’m running out of caption ideas and being lazy)

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Finally blue skies!

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Our awesome pilot/tour guide! Honestly I think the heli seems abit too small for him.

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Part of the Colorado River (if my memory serves me right)

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Some scenic piece of sparse land

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One last look..

 

My LA shopping haul

Ok i took a bath and decided to continue blogging because I may be too busy in Vegas tomorrow to blog.

I shall start by raving about how awesome shopping is here!! Look at my haul! I LOVE USA!

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A Sephora VIP member in one purchase

Yes its a feat coming from one who does not wear make up most of the time. But I have to credit my sister and my best friend Dixie for that. Because all of us bought.. the Clarisonic! And it wasn’t because it was cheap, just that they had the Boscia products along in the set. And of course I like that Boscia doesn’t test on animals. Ohhh also, the Tarte eyeliner I bought (as above) is pretty easy to apply for a noob like me. Also no animal testing!

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The Clarisonic Trio!

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Suddenly, stripes are kinda my thing.

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And SuperDry is unbelievably cheap. OMG. I obviously went crazy.

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My birthday present from my Sister!

Oh yes most of them are unboxed cos I’m really too tired and lazy to deal with them now. Can you believe this isn’t even the shopping leg of the trip? Probably heading to outlets tomorrow in Vegas!

I’m Loving the City of Angels

Hello from LA!

Yes i know i was supposed to blog about Langkawi but I got busy. And now I’m in LA!

Today is already the forth day here and so far I’ve been to Disneyland, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. Impressions? LA reminds me of Aussie but a way awesomer, cheaper version. Oh and shops close later. HOW AWESOME IS THAT!!!

Okay okay fine, now a recap.

Day 1, LAX is a terrible airport. Too crowded, and they absolutely do not know how to run an airport. Immigration took too long to get through so everybody (on many flights) had to navigate the luggage carousels with several bags on the floor from earlier flights. Then we queued one hour to exit. OMG! They need lessons from Changi. Then we finally went to grab our rental car from Hertz and queued like mad too.

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Our Dodge Grand Caravan for the awesome journey ahead!

Eh, ya I know, apparently its normal to not have car license plates in the front of the car. Most cars have them on the back only.

Our first meal was dinner in Johnny Rockets! At first glance, it really seemed like Billy Bombers in Singapore. I wonder if any was a copycat?

Johnny Rockets Menu

Do you see what I see? Unlimited fries!

JR Route 66

This is what I ordered, the Route 66.

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This is the burger featured in the menu above,

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Steak sandwich, something Mom likes.

The food here was pretty yum, something fun to have on the first day in America. The only thing was that there were fries everywhere. FRENCH FRIES. OMG, free flow of fries. No wonder its so easy to gain weight here.

On Day 2, we decided to explore LA abit so we headed to Rodeo Drive. But! Not before having brekkie at the famous IHOP! Yay pancakes.

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Looks normal right? But the food is awesome!

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The Breakfast Sampler. A MUST GET!

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And of course, pancakes! SO FLUFFY AND YUMMYYYYYYYYY!

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Spinach and Mushrooms Omelette

It was gobbled up before I managed to grab the picture. That how good it was. We also ordered Chicken and Waffles but I don’t know why I cannot find the picture of it. Overall, a must go to place in USA.

We also went to grab a picture of the Hollywood Sign. LOL! It was a steep drive up but at least we weren’t walking!

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The world-famous sign! Abit unimpressive actually.

Rodeo Drive is the LA shopping street, with all the famous brands and all. I like the place. It was clean and bright. We also saw alot of people making a big deal out of the Bugatti Veyron that was parked on the street so I snapped a pic.

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A flashy car suits a flashy street.

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The start of Rodeo Drive! 

And oh, we got hungry after walking around for abit, so we went to The Cheesecake Factory! Initially, I thought it was all cheesecakes and was skeptical but my siblings told me they had nice food too.

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Garlic Noodles, the best dish on the table. And oh, I chose it.

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Some Da Vinci pasta thing, abit too sweet though but still nice.

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The Everything Pizza. Love the name, loved the pizza.

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Tortilla soup

Oh yes, this is the first time I tried Tortilla soup, and the last too. Its too weird and beany for my liking. LOL.

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Viet spring rolls for my grandmother. 

Portions here were GINORMOUS. Like seriously. We shared these few dishes and were too stuffed for any cheesecakes. haha.

OK i’m getting really sleepy. I’ll blog about the rest of the trip tomorrow at Vegas.

Timetravel Thursday: A love of beaches

Whoop whoop! On Saturday I’ll be flying off to Langkawi! I promise to blog about it as soon as I’m back but for now, here’s a pretty sunset to look at. This pic was taken with an iPhone 4, not any camera!

IMG_0012Sunset at Scarborough Beach, Western Australia

Timetravel Tuesday: My yummy post exam reward

3rd June 2013

My exams have been stressing me out abit I guess, and it didn’t help that I woke up late for the paper. Thankfully the lights were on my side, and the green wave brought me to school in 7 minutes. Nope, I didn’t speed.

After my exam, we headed to Bintang Cafe in Victoria Park to munch. I’ve always wanted to try out Bintang Cafe but never ever ever managed to because the restaurant is always packed! Doen’t help that the restaurant has probably less than 10 tables. So this time, Lady Luck was on our side and there was ONE table empty! Muahahahha!

It was a public holiday too so I was pretty glad that this place doesn’t charge surcharges as some other places do in WA! Wth right, yeah I didn’t know till recently as well.

 

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Bintang Cafe’s Mee Ayam

The bf ordered Mee Ayam with Bakso (Chicken Noodles with Beef Balls). This was pretty yum, and i LOVED the bakso. I’ll probably return for this next time. The noodles tasted like mushroom noodles but were abit bland in my opinion. After the bf ate some of my beef rendang, he said that that was the reason why the noodle tasted bland to me – because of the beef rendang’s sweetness! Gah. This was a generous portion for noodles, and I like it.

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Bakso (Beef Meatballs) in Soup

I ordered something called Nasi Ayam Komplit (Complete) or something like that. Was so hungry so I didn’t exactly remember.

The beef rendang was so good, and the chicken too. Compared to Batavia, this was awesome! However there wasn’t any chilli. At least I think there wasn’t. The sauce near the egg tasted tomatoey and was definitely not spicy at all. The egg was pretty yummy though, it was fried and hence had that layer over it. I didn’t eat the ikan bilis but the keropok was the usual crappy ones that restaurants here serve. Truth be told, the rice was quite shit. I wouldn’t order this dish again. The rice was probably 50% of the entire dish, and mushy, cold rice wasn’t something I was in the mood for. There weren’t any pics because I was too hungry as usual. Muahahaha.

 

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Happy Soda!

It makes you happy without LSD! hahaha. And yes it tastes pretty authentic but sweet as fuck. Do not order if you hate sweet stuff.

After the meal, and filling our tummies, we headed over to my favourite dessert place – The Imp! Yes I know they serve lunch but some reviews on Urbanspoon were not positive at all so I didn’t want to risk it because i was SO hungry.

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The Imp’s Chocolate Fudge Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream

One annoyance I have with desserts and ice cream is that one scoop of ice cream usually isn’t enough to eat with the entire dessert. So imagine how happy I was because the imp serves 2 scoops by default! But… their cake was so HUGE that even 2 scoops of ice cream didn’t suffice. HAHA! And no, I had to share this with the bf, it really is quite filling.

SOOO happy and grateful for this day.

Warm soups for a cold day

The past few days, Perth cooled down drastically. One night it was 3 degrees! That’s crazy cold for the start of winter, so its no surprise I needed to get warm.

What better way to do it, than at my favourite Viet restaurant in all of WA – Phong Vinh? Since I discovered this place, I never went anywhere else to eat viet food, not even in Singapore if I could help it. This place has the best Viet food I’ve ever tasted other than those I ate in Ho Chi Minh City in 2011.

The restaurant is rather large, and situated on William Street in Northbridge. Pretty accessible I’d think.

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Raw Beef Pho @ Phong Vinh

I ordered the Raw Beef Pho, my staple! The reason why I love the Pho here so much is because of the soup! However, sadly they screwed it up twice for me. The very first time, they mixed raw beef with cooked tough-as-tyres beef. That pissed me off but the soup was the reason I gave them another shot. The second time was after my joyflight, the noodles were overcooked. That’s my pet peeve, but I didn’t send it back because I was so ill at that point I didn’t give a shit. Anyway, this one was awesome.

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Braised Beef Noodle Soup – something new for us

This time, the bf wanted something warm too so he went with Braised Beef Noodle Soup. It was abit like the usual Beef Stew Noodles we order but not the same. I initially didn’t like the soup, but the more I drank it, the more that mild sweetness grew on me.

He had his iced Vietnamese coffee as usual. This one, I like because it’s usually so bloody sweet. mmmmm. I’m surprised he likes it though. Here, they weirdly don’t serve it up the traditional way but serve it all ready in a glass.

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Pork Spring Rolls and Stuffed Chicken Wings

And how could I forget, the pork spring rolls! I hate the skin though, it’s not the authentic Viet one but the filling is ohmnomnomnomnom too yummy. Also, my favourite – Stuffed Chicken Wings! This boneless dish may seem pretty expensive for $8 for 2 but I suppose if you consider one bloody chicken wing in Perth costs $2-2.50 it seems rather worth it because they have to debone and stuff it. I try to not skip this dish everytime I’m here.

I wanted to head over to Superstar waffles but was too full. $10.50 for a HUGEEEEEE bowl of Pho is really worth the money. No harm trying it out if you are craving Viet food in Perth.

Phong Vinh Vietnamese & Chinese Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Bak Kut Teh in Perth

Alwin’s parents opened a Bak Kut Teh restaurant few months back and I’ve always wanted to visit. One day, we got the twins together and went with them.

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The interior of Cai Jin Shui Bak Kut Teh House

Five of us (including the twins) met at the restaurant for what I thought would be a delicious bak kut teh meal… but I have never been so wrong. The meal was fantastic, but I ate so much more than Bak Kut Teh. Honestly, I was SOOOO full. And as usual, I was too busy eating, so I got Alwin to send me the pictures. (I’ve now added some pics from my second visit)

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Bak Kut Teh Combination

The word “combination” is used very loosely in Asian restaurants all over WA to my annoyance. In this case, combination means that pork stomach is added. I’m not a fan of that but the Bak Kut Teh soup was good and tasty. This is Malaysian (herbal) BKT we’re talking about, not the Singaporean peppery version. I also LOVE the mushrooms (xiang gu) that were extremely soft, and not chewy. Chewy mushrooms annoy me. The meat was not superior pork ribs like you get in some joints in Singapore, but it sure beats the version in Yen Yen Kitchen (Southlands) where it was mostly bones. There was 6 pieces of meat (with bones) and maybe 5 normal slices of pork belly. I asked them to omit the pork stomach. Note that this is the Combination size, which costs more and is bigger than the normal portion. I would love it more if it were thicker (more gao) like the Klang Bak Kut Teh I had with Christina at Beach road though.

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The You Tiao (dough fritters) was also fried fantastically and was crispy! I hate soft BKT you tiao.

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Fried NZ Flounder Fish in Home-made Sauce

This fish was really fresh and fried well. Alot of places I feel, use frozen fish and that is apparent in the taste. With this fish you can taste the freshness along with the Thai dressing. The twins said there was another coconut sauce thing which  I may try next time. I also heard his mom chose the biggest fish for us, lol.

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Pig Trotters in Vinegar

I always hated pig trotters in vinegar since the first time I tried it. But Alwin was like “10 out of 10 people love this” and I said “well, better make sure I don’t break that record”. Avison assured me that it wasn’t as sour as the traditional version though, and he was right. It had sweet and sour notes to it but it was really quite delicious. The first of its kind to go down well with me, but if you are looking for a very sour version, this isn’t it.

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Hakka Yung Tau Foo

This tofu is made by the twins’ mother herself, the lady boss! I love the gravy, and ate lots of that with the rice. The tofu with minced pork was great too, I only wish there was more mince pork, lol. As you can see, the sizes are pretty inconsistent. I took that as a good thing and ate the two smaller pieces HAHA.

Other things I ate were:

Lady’s finger with Sambal – I really hate lady’s finger so this is so not my thing. I was hoping they could cook sweet potato leaves or kang kong with the sambal :( but they said its really hard to find those vegetables here in WA.

House Specialty Noodles – This dish is supposed to be a specialty and is unique to Malaysian cuisine. I found it soso but the BF loved it. It tastes abit like Singaporean ee-mee and I think it was better when you ate the noodles with char siew, and not just noodles alone. In addition, we had free flow rice. I ate two bowls. BURSTING like mad after that.

Drinks I had:

Barley – They added green bean into the beverage, so if you like green bean you’re gonna love it! Myself, not so much. I ordered a coke in the end.

Luo Han Guo – the BF lovessss this like mad though. He drinks it everytime he goes.

Final Notes: We paid $20/pax each after a discount (UP. approx $25/pax). I know some people have said this place may be overpriced but I would defo go again with the boys. We ate like pigs for that $20.. lol. My Favs? The tofu, and the xiang gu in the BKT really stood out, but the whole meal was good. For more info, visit their Facebook page.

We went over to the twins’ house to chill after that, so this is a picture of the very friendly resident dog, Tiger. I know, there are matts behind his ears but we trimmed all those off after the pics were taken.

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Hi! My name is Tiger Liew.

 

Cai Jin Shui Bakuteh House on Urbanspoon