Monday, 22 April 2013

Ladurée, Sydney

A little gift of Ladurée macarons is something that puts a smile on your face and makes that ordinary weekday a little special. The little double-decker macaron was invented in 1930 by the grandson of the original pattisier Louis-Ernest Ladurée, and they are still popular 83 years later. But somehow this trend has not quite stuck with me. 

For those who don't know what macarons are (though it is highly unusual nowadays), they are essentially a meringue cookie sandwich. But I guess if you want me to elaborate more, a filling of flavoured ganache or buttercream is sandwiched between two meringue based cookies. The meringue shells are incredibly sweet and it's the filling that determines what flavour it is. 

I have visited the Ladurée store in Sydney before and people go mental for these things! Before you're even close to the kiosk you know you're close by the sight of the outrageously long queue. Each of the macarons cost extra if you dine in.  

The exuberant packaging
There is extravagant packaging for the macarons. The boutique carry-bag, the ribbon and the box make the macarons more than just sweets but a gift of luxury and decadence. At $3.20 for one petite macaron, I question whether customers are paying for the actual sweet or the gift wrap. 

Photogenic food
There isn't any indication of what the flavours were so it is a tasting game. The green macaron is not pleasant, awful actually and I had no idea what flavour it is. The two chocolate macarons (I'm not sure if there was any distinction between the two) were good! I'm not sure what the pink one was, but it was quite sweet. The vanilla is fine and reminds me of marshmallow. But my favourite is the salted caramel, it's the best and you can't go wrong! 

Ridiculous photogenic confectionary
For those who have not tried a macaron before, whether it's from Ladurée, the Lindt cafe or Adriano Zumbo, give it a go. Macarons are gorgeous and delicate, but it comes at a very luxurious price. 

Level 3 Westfield Sydney
100 Market St 

9231 0491

Ladurée on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Mamak, Chatswood

The story goes that Mamak was created by a bunch of uni students who were craving food from home and ended up making a business out of it. Regardless if this is accurate, whatever they were inspired by, the Mamak team has created great success! With huge queues snaking around corners, Mamak has expanded beyond Sydney and has set up shop in Melbourne as well. There's no doubt we'll be seeing Mamak invading the other states soon!

Like all South-East Asian cuisines Mamak is no exception to having spicy food. The spicier it is, the more addictive the food becomes! Every time I leave Mamak after a very satisfying dinner, I am so bloated because every spicy bite is followed by a giant mouthful of water to numb it all. "If it's that spicy, why do you eat it?" Because no one can say 'no' to Mamak. 

Since it's only just after 5.30pm (their dinner opening time), I figure there's bound to be no queue and I can take my sweet time getting there. And voila! This may be the only time where I can take a picture with no queues outside the door! But when I'm inside I see 90% of the tables are occupied with diners and the waiter shows me to a table in the corner of the restaurant which I happily accept. 

I am incredibly impressed (but also slightly scared) of the couple next to us because every 5 minutes a dish is brought to them and they always to manage to successfully gobble it down. I'm pretty sure they got 3 times more things than us (a table of three)! I think they ordered plain roti, curry, rice, fried rice, roti stuffed with meat, a dozen satay sticks and two desserts. The tables at Mamak are quite snug so I wasn't deliberately looking at their feast. It was hard not to notice! 

Rice, $2.50 per person
We order two servings of rice and the serving was massive! Nice and fluffy. Very necessary to have with curry!

Kari kambing, $16.00
Dad specifically requests for their slow-cooked lamb curry and it's as good as he remembers it as he keeps on spooning rice and ladles the curry! The lamb is very tender, soft and juicy. The curry sauce is great, slightly spicy and needs to be eaten with rice!  

Mee goreng, $11.50
The mee goreng is much spicier than I thought it was. There are specks of chilli throughout the noodles but the flavours are so great that you just can't help having another serving. There are prawns, egg, fish cakes, tofu, bean sprouts and choy sum embedded in the noodles. It's a great dish to order if you're eating by yourself as the price is very reasonable for a huge plate of delicious noodles! There's also an option for maggi moreng. 
A dozen of chicken satay sticks, $16.00
Mamak's chicken satay sticks are close competition to the ones I've had in Singapore's Lau Pa Sat hawker market. It's the last dish to arrive but they are certainly worth the wait. We often order a dozen of these to take-away but when it gets back home the chicken is slightly dried up already. But having these on the premises and still hot from the chargrill is a great experience because the chicken is moist and tender. The satay sauce is perfect as it has bits of peanut in it and you can taste all fresh ingredients that has been put in it. I love that it has texture to it because it gives it character and depth.

There are plenty more things at Mamak that I love dearly but unfortunately with just three people, we don't have enough stomach space to consume it all. I LOVE their fried chicken! The batter is light and thin which gives the pieces of chicken just a layer of crisp while the meat is very juicy and tender. Their rotis are amazing, sweet or savoury. And last but not least their ice milo is great. It's very simple but chilled condensed milk and milo make the perfect couple. Don't be discouraged by the queues, it's usually a quick turnover so be patient and stare at the roti chefs throwing the pastry around through the glass windows. 

Shop P9, 1-5 Railway St

9411 4411

Mamak on Urbanspoon