March 12th, 2007


lau's family kitchen

one of our mates, michael and his brother jason, have followed in their father's footsteps in the restaurant business in melbourne. this cosy little eatery has been getting heaps of attention from the media, because of their father's fame. [gilbert lau] is a legend in the world of australian fine dining, who built the iconic [flower drum], one of the best restaurants in melbourne. if you google these names, a gazillion sites will pop right out.

so uncle gilbert has retired early, and his sons have opened their own little restaurant, called lau's family kitchen. this is a great arrangement so he can help them out and not leave the industry totally yet. apparently, he draws the crowds too!

my holiday wouldn't be complete without a group dinner at lau's family kitchen. after all, the last time i saw michael 4 years ago, he was a graphics dude!

it was a good move for him. :) the restaurant is small, but intimate. the atmosphere ties in with the menu, which isn't big on variety but only comprises a few pages of specialised dishes. they focus on what they're really good at over here. it's only been 6 months since they've opened, and their bookings are packed out everyday.

the first starter, oysters in black bean sauce with spring onions was pretty darn awesome. i've never had oysters done chinese-style (except for oyster omelettes in singapore hawker centres) and this really rocked. next up was deep-fried squid in spicy salt, a very common entree in many chinese eateries. this is something i love to order everywhere i go, so i've a pretty good idea of the standards around in both singapore as well as melbourne. what they scored with here was their use of very, very fresh ingredients. the squid was tender and melted in our mouths. the batter was light and crispy. the portion wasn't quite big enough, so we only had one piece each. that left us hanging for more!

lamb springrolls are apparently their specialty dish. and they didn't disappoint indeed. the springroll skin was thin and not too oily, the stuffing within was piping hot and oh-so-fragrant. almost every table within our sight had the same springrolls at some point.

then we were spoilt with a very large plate of crispy roast pork belly, on-the-house from michael. it was plump, juicy, and extremely sinful. i had three big pieces. :p the sweet and sour pork was ordered for aaron, who wasn't into seafood and most things we chinese peeps enjoyed. it was definitely one of the nicer versions i've tried, with the sauce being not too overpowering and the batter was just enough to complement the pork.

a very yummy fried rice tipped our tummies into near-full zone. with bits of avocado, chopped snow peas, egg, scallops and mushrooms, this has got to be one of the best fried rice i've ever munched on. luckily the next dish that came was a rather light beancurd with vegetables. a special mention goes to the mushrooms in this dish, they were impossibly tender.

then the fish came, and i don't remember what kind of fish it was... but it was really awesome. fresh, succulent and so tender that it was hard to pick up with chopsticks. it was lightly panfried, so there was a crisp layer of skin and sauce-crust. oooooh... that was heavenly. after the fish was demolished, the pork loin in vinegar sauce arrived on our table. by this time, we were so stuffed we had food coming out of our ears. but we went on because the pork was really yummy too! i've never had pork in a vinegar sauce, and this really whets the appetite.

as we sat there patting our bellies, michael asked if we wanted dessert. penny asked for two serves of banana fritters for us all to share. this was supposed to be two bananas fritters with two scoops of ice cream or something like that. check out what came to our table...

but it was fantastic. even though we couldn't eat anymore, we managed to polish off everything except one fried banana. not bad aye? the combination of lightly-battered fried banana went beautifully with vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. syrup-drenched strawberries were so yummilicious too.

we were charged mates' rates for the meal. :) six happy bellies rolled out (very slowly) at the end of the meal and after two bottles of wine. am still feeling stuffed now and it's been more than 5 hours!



roasted rack of lamb

so i roasted a rack of lamb today, after marinating it overnight. :)

the bad thing about working with an oven you're not familiar with is, the temperature may not be what it seems. so doc's oven was probably too hot, 200 degrees celsius was probably really 220-250 degrees celsius, and the lamb got over-done. :s that was a little disappointing but luckily doc says it didn't turn out too tough. it was just kinda well-done, thanks to my habit of roasting things fully covered in foil.

but lamb should never be well-done! sigh.

the vegetables turned out really yummy though. i chopped pumpkin slices, one sweet potato, a handful of baby potatoes and peeled a bulb of garlic... covered them in canola oil, then tossed them with rosemary and salt. a few bits of butter were placed strategically around the top so they would melt down through different parts of the tray. because of temperature problems, i don't know what the temperature i roasted them at was, but it was between 150 degrees to 220 degrees, for about 40 minutes. :p

for those curious to know, marinade was a mixture of honey, teriyaki marinade (watery type, not paste-type), lots of chopped garlic, juice of two lemons, rosemary and flour. proportions to taste. :)