If you are in Auckland and craving a great breakfast/brunch – then you need to make a beeline to ‘Dear Jervois’ in Herne Bay. I do realise that I should stop declaring various things as “the best _____ ever”, but seriously, this was an incredible omelette.
When I researched a good cafe to try for our last brunch in Auckland, ‘Dear Jervois’ appeared quite a few times.
This omelette is the best omelette I’ve ever eaten (and has been mentioned as ‘the best in Auckland’). They have different variants which include a salmon or a veggie option, but the reason I picked this was because of all the amazing photos on instagram. I couldn’t scroll more than a handful of images without seeing this beauty. This is the perfect combination of egg, cheese, bacon, and aioli. The Aioli was very subtle and actually complemented the dish perfectly. If you are in Auckland, please visit Dear Jervois just to have this bad boy.
Poke Bowl with sashimi grade salmon; avocado, spring onion, seaweed, pickled ginger & sesame seeds on black quinoa rice ($22.00)
My wife totally loved her Poke Bowl. Little did we know but ‘Poke Bowls’ seem to be all the rage in Auckland at the moment – having spotted them a number of times throughout the city.
Side of Fries ($7.00)
These fries were amazing. Piping hot, crispy, and with a great aioli for dipping. The one thing I do remember thinking was – wow, what a generous portion for a side dish. I’m not normally a fan of the fryer-basket display, but in this case it was big enough that the two of us nearly didn’t finish it.
Large Cappuccino ($5.50)
The coffee was really good. I try to have a cappuccino where ever I have breakfast. The large was served in a big cup (nearly a bowl). Yum!
– Best Omelette I’ve had, and I’ll endorse it’s title of “best omelette in Auckland”.
– Excellent Coffee
– Music selection was well appreciated.
– Didn’t get to try any of their yummy baked goods 😦
– Kimchi Fried Rice wasn’t available.
I’m very glad that this was our last brunch/lunch in Auckland. Talk about ending the trip on a high-note. The total bill came to $64.00 – which was pretty in keeping with the rest of the meals on our trip. If you do check out Dear Jervois based on this review – please write a comment below and let me know what you thought of it!
It’s a cold Aussie morning, what if I told you that your could have an amazingly comforting Hot Milo in two minutes? Chances are that you already have the 3 ingredients needed to make one. What are you waiting for??
Milo, 3-5 heaped tsps
White Sugar, 1 tsp
Microwave + Microwave safe mug/jug.
This is what I’d call Aussie comfort food. It’s something I used to make as a kid, and it still holds up on a cold winter’s morning/night.
1. Pour milk into a microwave safe mug, until 1cm from top.
2. Either microwave in that mug, or transfer into a microwave safe jug (I do this because it’s easier to the mixing in a moment).
3. Microwave for 1.5 min on high.
4. Once milk is heated, add 1 teaspoon of white sugar, and then 3-5 heaped milo spoons (to taste). Note: 4 spoons is a good balance, but you can tweak it depending on how intense you want your milo taste.
5. Then pop back into microwave for 30 seconds.
6. Transfer to mug and Enjoy! (warning, that last 30 seconds in the microwave is there to make it piping hot!).
NOTES: you can adjust ratios once you’ve gotten the hang of it, reduce the sugar if you find it too sweet (etc).
Let me know if you make it and what you think! + Tweet photos to @Insanity540
In the back of Cammeray there is a little cafe called “The Alchemist Espresso” that puts some science into the cafe game. The cafe is located on the corner of Carter and Wilson Street in Cammeray, serves up a really good coffee, and some tasty food.
If you spot the giant old “VB” sign on the building, you’ll know you’ve found the right place. There is usually parking on Carter St opposite.
The interior decorating is fantastic. I couldn’t take enough photos of it. Just note that you place your order at the counter.
Now, to the good part, what did we have? Well naturally coffee…
Large Skim Cappuccino ($4.00)
The coffee at Alchemist is really great. I really enjoyed my large cup, I look forward to my next visit.
Huevos Rancheros ($16.90)
I ordered the huevos rancheros because they sounded really good on the menu, what I received however was something I would call “deconstructed huevos rancheros”. Not to be picky, but I was expecting something a little more akin to the traditional dish, and for $16.90 I was disappointed to receive one poached egg. The flavour was there, the tortilla was great, and the egg cooked perfectly… but I was a little sad by this one. To be honest I was have remorse from not picking the Cheese BLT (which I’ve heard is good). The one plus about having it served this way was that I was forced to eat it with a knife and fork. The other thing that stood out was that the spice/heat (chilli) in this was a little too much. I like chilli, and spice, but this had a lingering heat that meant I reached for the water over my coffee (and still felt minutes later).
Warm Moroccan Spiced Chicken ($19.00)
The star of the meal and the reason for our visit. My wife actually visited the cafe with a girlfriend the day before, and had this, and was raving about it. I wanted to try this new cafe and hence us coming back the next day. The secret to this dish is to ask for “additional relish”. The chicken is slowly cooked and the entire dish is delicious. I can’t imagine someone ordering this and being unhappy (but do go for more of that relish – trust us!).
One of the things I really liked was all the Science references. The only yelp review criticises that alchemy isn’t chemistry… but seriously, get a grip, they’ve gone with a theme and I appreciate it. One thing I really liked was that the table numbers were actually elements from the periodic table (not pictured). In prominent display is the organic chemistry symbol for Caffeine;
Now one thing that was frustrating was the fact it was really hard to find a copy of their menu online, so I took some photos to help those of us that like to pick what they want ahead of time.
Here is a copy, as of May 2017;
Fascinating and fun interior.
Periodic Table Numbers !
New enough that it isn’t overwhelmed with people (?).
Lack of menu online (see above).
I didn’t really like my huevos rancheros (probably won’t order it again).
Questionable if prices for meals are just a tad too much? (family members have commented that they thought the price for food was high).
I want to come back and try that Cheese BLT and their other food. I know that my wife will always be happy to have that Warm Moroccan Spiced Chicken. They also had a special on a blackboard that sounded really good (something to do with warm oats that just sounded perfect on a cold winters day).
Just a quick recap of what’s happened over the past year.
1) We have gotten back to having 1,000 – 1,300 views a day!
This is an incredible feat, considering there was a 5 month shut-down. Hopefully everyone who used to follow the blog is back with us. The sad thing is that a lot of that traffic comes from a single post (the walk-through for Doodle God). The goal however will be to maintain (and improve) that traffic to what I managed to reach in 2014 (total year view count of 536,042 = 1,468 views per day).
2) I’ve been slowly restoring the old content.
One of the nice things to learn is that although I did a fantastic job of removing the old blog posts, all of the media from that content was lurking in the backend. Now I have a fun of looking over the 3,447 media items and seeing what has already been posted. You might get the occasional bombardment of posts if you follow via RSS or other places, but I’ll turn off the facebook link for those old content so you don’t get swamped. I’m just going to back date the posts so if you browse anything from 2015 and earlier, that’s old content I’ve restored!
3) Editorial content (original content)
I’ve been generating and sharing some original content via the Editorial Section where I’ve included some more personal items.
4) More Reviews coming
As part of my drive for writing more editorial content, I’m also going to be sharing my restaurant reviews. Most of these will be Sydney-based locations, but could be elsewhere. I did a review of a fantastic restaurant in Canberra, and I’m also considering giving some insight into products, apps, other things I’ve used to share my opinions of them.
One thing I’d really appreciate is if you could recommend the blog to some friends or people that might enjoy the content that I’m posting. I have created a Facebook Page that is a really easy way to keep up to date with the latest posts, but also provides you with an easy way to SHARE or TAG your friends. For example, know someone that is a little competitive or loves Rick & Morty? You can just tag’em and hopefully they’ll start to follow the blog. Also, there are some things that I share only on the facebook page as a mini-treat (pun-for-example not intended) for those that have LIKED the page and follow it.
I saw this come up on my facebook feed and was curious. It looks so simple, and the result looks pretty good. I wanted to share this because I reckon something this simple would appeal to a lot of people.
Chances are that if you think of destinations for a weekend away from Sydney that Canberra isn’t usually one of them. We decided that we’d spend a weekend in the nation’s capital and turned out that we had such a great time I decided I should write about it.
Driving down to Canberra from Sydney The drive from Sydney to Canberra takes about 3 hours. While we could have done that all in one go, we made a decision to make a pit stop in Bowral as there were a few places my wife wanted to check out. I was keen to do this because I haven’t been to Bowral since I was kid, and I’m always keen to explore towns. We left Sydney at 9:00am, fired up Waze and Spotify, and hit the road. I found a playlist on Spotify called “Unwind 00’s” which actually had a decent mix of songs that actually suited driving;
Using Waze whilst driving long distances – the best GPS app you’ll ever use.
Whilst driving long distances I have to insist you use/try Waze. It’s like if you took the GPS directions of Google Maps and gave it better features. The best part? Waze drivers give you warnings about accidents, traffic jams, and most importantly Police traps. It isn’t fool proof, and you need to be careful you have a dash-mount, but it’s amazing when you do long drives. Get it, and thank me later.
Stopping in Bowral – Scones from The Press Shop After 1.5 hours of driving we reached Bowral. We arrived at 10:30am and both of us were hungry. Our first stop was to get some food at “The Press Shop”. This cafe is beautiful and busy. It has outstanding baked goods and tasty menu items. Neither of us wanted anything too big, so we opted to try some of their scones.
If you’ve ever wanted a perfect Scone, then you need to come here. The traditional one was 100% everything you’d want in a scone, light, perfect. The Apple one I had was like if you took a scone and mixed it with an apple pie with gooey maple sauce. If you want to check out The Press Shop cafe it’s located here;
Bowral had lots of interesting places to see and visit. We didn’t have time to stick around as we had a massage booked at 1:45pm and it was a 2 hour drive from Bowral to Canberra. We quickly looked at a few things and jumped into the car to reach Canberra.
Arrive in Canberra – Massage at Hale Spa After driving for 3 hours I can honestly say that I was ready for our booked massage. We were a little bit late, which meant that instead of the hour massage we had planned, we were only able to do 45 minutes. This was disappointing, but understandable. The Hale Spa is associated with the hotel we stay at (see next), and provides a wide array of options and packages. The massage was perfect, both my wife and I loved it and were super relaxed afterwards. We would like to come back and book in a proper / longer treatment.
Staying at The Little National Hotel
There were a number of funky hotels that we wanted to stay at in Canberra, but the one that really caught our eye was The Little National. Located very close to Parliament House, this hotel has an interesting and modern interior. The layout of the room is unique with the king-sized bed being positioned right up against the full wall window with a view was too cool to pass up. The checkin was easy, the staff friendly, and everything was modern and simple. The room was narrow, but not bad. If you enjoy big hotel rooms then this place isn’t going to be your cup of tea. The top 2 levels (5/6) are hotel rooms, I have no clue if there is a level 1-3.
On each of the two hotel room levels there are communal lounge areas that you can relax or work in. From 5pm, they open up a mini-bar and you can purchase drinks and some very limited nibbles. One the really great features is free movies and super fast free wifi. The movie range was good and impressive with the current titles on offer. We watched two recent movies during our stay (Passengers + The Arrival).
– King-sized bed is incredible.
– View is great, and electronic blinds/block out shade is perfect.
– Outdoor parking option is really handy
– Location is 5-10 minutes from most shops, restaurants etc.
– Super fast free wifi (100-200Mbps!)
– Free (recent release) movies
– No room service option, very limited food options.
– Rooms could be too narrow for some people.
– Lack of table space within room and some basic items (no cutlery etc).
Dinner at ‘Akiba’.
Everyone knows that when you go away somewhere one of the challenges is finding somewhere good for dinner. Thankfully, a quick google of “best places for dinner in Canberra” brings up quite a few recommendations. I chose two places as options; for Japanese food ‘Akiba’, for Italian ‘Mezzalira’. My wife said that she wanted Japanese.. and we were very lucky to score a 9pm booking. The place was fantastic. So much so, I had to write a dedicated review post – “Akiba, Canberra – Home of the Best Pork Belly Bun”. I’m not going to rehash that post here, suffice it to say it was worth it and I’d highly recommend you having dinner there.
The joy of the King-Sized Bed
One thing that’s hard to convey is how amazing the king-sized bed at The Little National is. I laughed when I first saw that they provided the supplier’s contact details and the price (so people could buy it). After spending a blissful night, I understand why. So comfortable, so peaceful. The block out blind means you sleep in complete darkness. The hardest thing was hearing the alarm going off at 9am and convincing yourself you actually have to get up.
Brunch at The Cupping Room – The best coffee in Canberra.
After checking out, we needed to get something to eat. We both decided that we had to try “The Cupping Place” as its touted to have the best coffee in Canberra. The place was popular, but we only had to wait about 20 minutes to get a table.
National Gallery of Australia The one thing we planned to do before heading back was check out the National Gallery. We originally had planned to come down to see the Versailles exhibition, but that closed the weekend before we booked everything. Regardless, the NGA is an incredible place to visit. I won’t bore you with all of the photos I took, but I’ll just pick a few choice ones;
Driving back to Sydney – slight detour for some Pho The drive back to Sydney was reasonably unremarkable. The highlight was when my wife turned to me and said “you know, we since we are out this far, we should go to Cabramatta for Pho”. I immediate redirected the GPS for Pho Tau Bay and we had an amazing Pho dinner. What a great end to a great weekend!
Writing about Travel One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is write up my travels and share them with people. I like writing down where I’ve been, what I saw, and taking photos… but to combine them all into a meaningful post and sharing it with people is something I’ve never managed to do. I’ve been wanting to share more ‘Editorial’ content, and travelling stories are fun to write and I hope read. This could be considered my first attempt at doing this.
When you search for top restaurants to eat in Canberra, the name ‘Akiba‘ keeps showing up – and for very good reason. It’s one of the best, most energetic and fun, Japanese restaurants I’ve been to. It also boasts what I’m calling “The Best Pork Belly Bun in Australia“. A big call, but I’ll explain that later…
Their website boasts that they are The #1 Top Restaurant in Australia as voted in the People’s Choice Award in 2016. Given our experience, we believe them!
Walking in on a busy Saturday night the place is buzzing with fun and excitement. Every patron is enjoying themselves. It’s hustling and bustling, the staff are laughing and having a great time, and the food is top-knotch. After a little while you realise that you could spend all evening here drinking with your friends and ordering tasty food – which is exactly what I think people do since it’s open until 3am.
One thing that is really exceptional is the staff and the speed and efficiency of the kitchen. The waitstaff are very friendly, helpful, smiling and laughing the whole time. It appears less like they are all at work together, and more like they are a group of mates hanging out. The speed of the kitchen is something I wanted to highlight for a second because it was shocking how well they did. It was a packed Saturday night, and the food kept coming quickly (but not so much that you felt overwhelmed). Another little point I liked was that the waitstaff were totally eagle-eyed for when your dishes were done and deftly cleared empty dishes whilst they walked by. This may seem small to people, but I hate it when the table is cluttered with empty dishes.
A++ for service guys! (btw, both my wife and I have previously worked in hospitality, so this is legitimate and sincere praise).
Now… let us get to the food. One of the great things about Akiba is that there is literally so many good things on the menu you struggle to pick which items to order. It’s a great problem to have, as it means we’ll just have to come back to order all the stuff we didn’t get to try the first visit. Now, that being said, we did order a lot of food… but we had a great time. We love Japanese food, and we walked out of Akiba sad… sad that our dining experience was over and that we could not physically consume another delicious bite.
My wife is an oyster fanatic and upon seeing oysters as an entree option she quickly decided that was her pick. The oysters were fresh, delicious, and the ume mignonette was a perfect accompaniment. We were seated on the bar directly opposite the sushi/seafood prep station. This was great because we not only got to watch all of the sashimi being made to order… but also watch as the chef hand-shuck each oyster as the orders came through.
Sadly, this was the only dish I didn’t manage to take a photo of, so I had to go to instagram and source one.
Pork belly bun, char sui, asian slaw ($8.00, per bun)
Whenever I see a Pork Bun option on a menu I’m instinctively drawn to order it. I love them so much. This is what I considered “my entree choice”, and I could not be happier I did so. I’m going to call it now; this is the best Pork Belly Bun I’ve had in Australia. I can’t really put into words how great this was, but the flavour, the melt in your mouth pork belly, the fact it had a bit of crispy crackling – oh man! First bite I immediately smiled and savoured the bite. I then had that knee-jerk reaction of “you gotta try this” as I pass it carefully over for her to try. “Damn” was the only thing she could muster. I will say this, if I came here and only ate these and drank beer all night – it would be an amazing night. I took two photos of the bun, neither of which do it justice. I’ll be back just to eat these!
As I said earlier, we were sitting directly opposite the seafood/sushi/sashimi prep station. The moment I sat down after parking my wife said “we MUST order the Hapuka dish”. I never disagree with my wife when it comes to sashimi. This dish was incredible. I had to stop myself from making pleasure noises as I ate because I knew it would make the sushi chef uncomfortable. He was only 2 meters away after all. Each bite was joy – the wasabi miso et al. sauce brought a great spice, the sesame a creamy taste, and the tempura flake provided a good crunch.
Peking Duck Soup Dumplings ($14.00, 6 pieces)
We are big fans of soup dumplings (xiao long bao), and the idea of having DUCK soup dumplings was just too tempting to ignore. Unfortunately, there was a distinct mismatch between our expectations and what we ended up with. The flavour was good, the peking duck was there, but the one thing we were expecting – that gushing piping hot soup – was lacking. It had a small amount of soup, but not really what we were hoping for. Of all the things we ordered, this was the one that we would probably pass on.
Kobe skirt [steak], teriyaki, black sesame ($33.00)
Teriyaki, kobe beef, what’s not to like? cooked perfectly and with a tasty teriyaki sauce/glaze underneath this was a great main item. The thing I liked about this was that the very edge of the beef was really well seared and BBQ’d, but the beef wasn’t overcooked or ruined. It came out medium-rare, but we didn’t specify or get given a choice… which is fine because it was good. If you don’t like pink in your beef then you might need to discuss this with the staff.
Agadashi Tofu is one of our regular “must-order” dishes at any Japanese restaurant. This means that we’ve become quite critical and even come up with an “out-of-ten Agadashi rating system” (where ‘0’ is awful and ’10’ is a god-like-best-in-the-world-kill-me-now some sort of mythical dish). So far, nothing has been given a 10/10 (as that is the coveted holy grail). Akiba’s version of Agadashi Tofu ranks as 9.8/10 = which is one of the highest scores we’ve ever given. Perfect crisp, soft silken tofu, delicious sauce… all coming together into something truely exceptional.
Where did it lose 0.2 marks? 0.1 was deducted for some inperfections in bites/pieces. You can see in the photo one piece had escaped it’s coating, and not really pictured well is the huge pieces and the random “batter-only” pieces. See… we’re critical. The other 0.1 was the fact we both didn’t turn to each other and immediately state “this is it… this is the best agadashi we’ve ever eaten”.
Let’s get back to it… This is an amazing Agadashi Tofu. If you like this dish at other places, then order it. If you don’t like tofu or don’t order it, what I would recommend is that you suss out if the rest of your table will have some, and split it as a table. That way you can try a REALLY REALLY GOOD VERSION of it, and if you still don’t like it then maybe tofu isn’t for you.
King prawn fried rice, snake beans, chilli fried egg ($21.00)
Steamed or fried rice? As if there is ever a choice… fried rice always. The waitstaff actually jokingly warned us that we might have over-ordered at this point. He said that we might find ourselves taking some home. The fried rice came out and was quite good, cutting up the fried egg with spoon and mixing ourselves reminded me of nasi goreng, or my own Kimchi Fried Rice recipe (coming soon under Recipes). Annoyingly, we did end up totally stuffed and had to take half the portion of fried rice home with us.
My wife loves Umeshu, so she ordered this for her drink. Umeshu is usually pretty sweet, and this one was sweet, but really good. For a moment I considered ordering one aswell. They have a well stocked bar and a great range of drinks, but I decided that tonight I was directing all my stomach space to food (and stuck with sparking water). I didn’t realise it, but the sparkling water was free – which was nice.
– Best Pork Belly Bun (bao) I’ve had.
– A++ Service from staff.
– Quickest and most organised kitchen we’ve been to.
– Fun and entertaining atmosphere (better than Sydney!).
– Located in Canberra, which makes it difficult for Sydney-folk to visit.
– Cannot eat my body-weight in Pork Belly Buns and Beer without ruining my diet.
– Peking Duck Soup Dumplings didn’t have enough soup.
One of the best Japanese restaurants we’ve ever been to (incredible food, atmosphere, and staff). We will 100% be coming back. My wife would also love to have her birthday party here. She doesn’t think people will travel to Canberra just to have dinner with her here, but I countered with we can promise them “incredible Japanese food” in a fun place that’s open until 3am, and see what they reckon. In the end, after eating a tonne of food, the bill came to $129.00 – which isn’t too horrendous considering it would be double that if we had the same amount of food in Potts Point. TIP: Make sure you book in advance as this place is super popular and people were being turned away at the door when we arrived at 9pm.
Korean Seaweed Soup (Miyeok-guk / 미역국) is a tasty beef & seaweed broth that is good as a simple meal, but also is used for health reasons. The soup is primarily known as a postpartum (after childbirth) food in Korea because it is very soothing for your stomach. Actually, I had an upset stomach recently and this is what led to me cooking this. Because of this soup’s association with childbirth, it’s also a Korean tradition to eat miyeok guk on birthdays.
Korean dried seaweed (Ottogi Seaweed) 50g package.
Chuck steak, 300g, diced (if you are fortunate enough to have a Korean butcher, explain to them “it’s for seawood soup”, they’ll get the right one and cut/prep it for you!.
Sesame Oil, ½ Tbs.
Garlic Minced, 1 Tbs.
Korean Soy Sauce for soup (Guk Gan Jang), 3 Tbs?
Korean “Magic Sauce”** (Yeon Du), 1 Tbs. **This is the name I’ve given this particular ingredient, it’s an vegetable extract/stock that acts as an alternative to salt.
Take 25g (approximately half the 50g pack) of dried seaweed, place into a large bowl, soak in cold water for 10 minutes. You can set a timer on your phone to help you remember when you started.
Fill your kettle and boil a large amount of water (this will be useful later).
Whilst the seaweed is soaking, cut your meat into chunks (if not already done), and also prepare garlic mince, set both aside in separately.
In a large pot (2-4L capacity), put 1Tbs sesame oil on medium heat.
Add the meat and brown over the medium heat, stirring constantly, browning for 1-2 minutes.
Drain the seaweed by carefully pouring out water and retaining seaweed in bowl. The trick here will be to use your hands to squeeze the excess water out of the seaweed, whilst letting the water drain (best done at the sink).
Once the meat is browned, and is still mostly rare, add in your strained seaweed and garlic. Stir for 1 minute on heat. This is essentially stir frying all the ingredients a bit.
Add in a splash of the boiling water from the kettle. You are just wanting enough to semi-submerge the steak (not a lot, a few cups at most).
Stir over medium heat for 2 minutes.
Add boiling water until all contents are submerged.
Use scissors (and tongs) to cut the seaweed up into smaller pieces – whilst it’s on a medium heat.
Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. The longer you let it simmer, the better the taste.
At this point, have a quick look at the surface of the soup. Sometimes the beef releases some “muck” that you want to skim off and dispose of. This is just a remnant of the cooking process.
Add in 2-3 Tbs of the Soup Soy sauce, and stir in.
Add in 1 Tbs of “korean magic sauce”, stir.
At this point you’ll want to have a quick taste (be careful as it’ll be boiling hot). If it tastes like it needs more seasoning, add 1 Tbs of Soy and Magic Sauce, stir and taste again. Repeat until you are happy (note, it really shouldn’t be more than 3 Tbs of each).
Let simmer for another 10 minutes.
Serve with Brown rice and Banchan.
Photos of Ingredients (to help you at the Korean grocer);