Doing it tough in Sydney

Because of work and personal travels, I spend an average of 2 to 3 months a year staying at hotels. It may be novel at first, but the excitement soon wears thin, and it’s not something that travel allowances and airport lounges alone can restore. Top of the list on the things that annoy me when travelling, other than being away from the boy, is the hotels.

Due to my obsessive compulsive attitude towards hygiene, I am particularly weary of hotel rooms. The first thing I check, as I swipe through the door, is the bathroom – everything from the shower to the toilet bowl, and the sink to the floor. I then turn on the hot water full blast in the shower. What for? Well, to kill all those disgusting germs and the putrid odour that I am sure lingers in every single hotel bathroom. The second thing I stress over is the bed – I throw all the decorative cushions on the ground (leaving them there for the rest of my stay), peel back any throws or covers, and check the sheets. I then inspect the pillows one by one, not too carefully, for fear that I would see things I do not wish to see. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. I would never use the mini fridge unless absolutely necessary – for some reason, I am a firm believer that the fridge would house millions of invisible bacteria unbeknownst to the human eye. I have developed a habit of purchasing a bottle of antibacterial hand wash upon arrival, because all you get is a bar or two of soap which of course does not defend you against those nasty germs. God forbid if I throw my clothes on the carpet or the bathroom floor, who knows what’s been there. The same goes for bare feet, so I always travel with a pair of thongs. Finally, the golden rule is to touch as little furniture as humanly possible.

I am in Sydney this time. My dislike for hotel rooms does not lessen one bit, but eating out makes up for it, as it always do.

Random Ukraine restaurant called TT’s, at Surry Hills


Light and delicious fish cakes from TT’s for lunch, served with horseradish cream (YUM!) At only $9, it didn’t break the bank either.


My coffee haunt in Surry Hills – ‘Strawberry X’ – has the friendliest barrister ever. Great service every time – oh did I mention cheap drinks too? By Canberra standards, anyway.


Random picture of the kitchen in the apartment I am staying at. Sigh, the germs!


But yummy Vietnamese combination rice makes things much better. This one was delicious, a huge serving with chunky lemongrass pork and all the trimmings, from “An An” in World Square.


Breadtop, always a palate pleaser. My eyes were bigger than my stomach, but I assure you that it’s all for the boy.


The seven (six) course Asian degustation

Degustation is a culinary term meaning “a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods” and focusing on the gustatory system, the senses, high culinary art and good company.

Inspired partly by Masterchef and partly out of sheer insanity, I decided to make a 7 course Asian degustation. But due to time constraints (I started at 3pm and managed to finish at 7:30), it turned out to be a 6 course degustation. I did some preparation for the other dessert course, but it would have taken a little more time to put together – so watch this space!

Without much further ado, onto the menu!

The first entree is salad of beansprouts with sesame dressing on an egg net. This one is Korean-inspired. The beansprouts are blanched first then dressed in sesame oil, salt etc.

The second entree is Vietnamese pork meatballs with sesame-infused soy sauce and mayonnaise. I cheated with both the soy sauce and the mayonnaise – soy sauce is from the farmers market at Pyrmont in Sydney and the mayonnaise is the famous Japanese Kewpie brand. For those that are about to scoll at me for using store-bought mayonnaise, I did make my own the other day!

The third entree is steamed cabbage rolls in a light chicken broth. This Chinese dish consists of julienned carrots, shitake mushrooms and dried tofu sheets wrapped in steamed cabbage (wombok). The broth is made from no other than Campbell’s chicken stock (so good and so easy).

The first main course is Dong Puo Rou with tea egg. What is Dong Puo Rou you ask? It’s really just a fancy Chinese name for slow-braised pork belly. The eggs are cooked with star anise and black tea, giving it a special fragrance.

The second main course is chicken and potato coconut curry. Mum used to make this curry with curry powder from Shanghai, which had a special flavour. Western curry powder just don’t taste the same. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find it here, so instead I improvised and added coconut milk to the curry, making it a partly-Chinese, partly-Indochina dish.

The dessert is Japanese green tea mousse with ai-yu jelly. This one was a quickie – I used Japanese green tea mousse from a packet, and the jelly came in a can 🙂

Like I said, the second dessert course wasn’t prepared because I ran out of time, but will make it sometime this week!