Sunday, 23 October 2016

Mukashi mukashi... MOS Burger!

Once upon a time, in a land far away (Japan) there was a gaijin girl living in a small town that got very quiet on Sunday nights. Yup, you guessed it - that girl was me, and that Sunday night was actually my Saturday night (I worked Tuesday to Saturday) so damnit I wanted to DO something those days! What's a girl to do?

We'd hit up MOS Burger, that's what!

MOS Burger is a Japanese burger chain selling a wide range of regularly bunned, rice bunned and unbunned burgers (aka burgers with a lettuce bun). They're pretty cheap, good value and taste good to a western palate. When I heard there was one in Brisbane I was hell-bent on paying it a visit - even if I couldn't eat.

I got there and the customer service was EXACTLY like it was in Japan. The staff greeted everyone who came through the door, and farewelled them as they left. They did do it in English, but the same pitch and speed - it was quite uncanny! The counters were clean, the benches unsticky and the serviettes and straws stocked up.

To hell with it, I thought, and ordered a fish natsumi (lettuce bun) burger and an iced macha (it was actually hot enough to have that there - wonders will never cease). My burger came out in a basket, just like in Japan, and I proceeded to deconstruct to see what I could eat. I ate the cheese, and the special sauce, and tried a mouthful or two of the fish pattie, because I am stubborn and wanted to feel normal for just a few seconds... and also just to see what would happen (I will not elaborate on that part except to say I REALLY, INTIMATELY appreciate the high standard of cleanliness MOS Burger maintains in their bathrooms...). The burger was crunchy in all the right places and had plenty of colour and flavour. AND THE ICED MACHA TASTED JUST LIKE ICED MACHA SHOULD! I don't like mine too bitter, nor too sickeningly sweet (which is what mostly happens here in Australia). This one was right smack bang in the middle. PERFECT.

Bunless burger

Iced macha that actually tastes like iced macha!

And so, feeling as though she had accomplished a mighty MOS Burger mission, the girl lived happily ever after and headed off to Roma Street to begin her journey home.

MOS Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 15 October 2016

A Moderately Stellar Performance by Stellarossa

Over the holidays I bailed to Brisbane for a few days for a professional development course. The course was great (language nerdery abounded, and pleased my word-loving soul no end), I found a brilliant Airbnb to stay at... the food situation? A little tough... but I was up to the challenge.

Hunting for breakfast near the West End, I happened upon Stellarossa. While they were curious and a bit confused as to why I'd order a side dish and a juice and no main meal for breakfast, they were polite about it and said no worries. Love courteous staff, especially when I'm still waking up.

Behold, the wonder that is fresh avocado


The avocado had that slight solid and stringy texture that tells you IT IS THE REAL FREAKIN' DEAL, MAN but it was very well mushed up and in its little white ramekin it was the perfect serving size to both satisfy me and prevent me from being sick. I added a little salt and pepper (I like my avocado with substance and bite!).

The Green Machine juice was a beautiful balance of sweet and zesty in its flavour. It was a pretty decent size, too. The texture was somewhere between a smoothie and a juice, so quite substantial without being too thick an inconveniently blocking your straw (hate it when that happens). I was only sorry not to be able to finish everything as they must have thought me a very odd chicken!

There are other places around that do a maybe more imaginative breakfast but for solid food, solid service and a solid surround, Stellarossa hit the mark. Gets a tick of approval for VSG patients as well.

Stellarossa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 14 October 2016

Never Come Back from Copperface Jack's

I love that song Copperhead Road so every time I walked past Copperface Jack's in Brisbane's West End it would start playing in my head. Who am I to deny my inner Steve Earle fan? I had to sit down and try it.

At first I hit them up for a cider late-ish one evening. It was not-quite-closing-time, but pretty quiet so I ordered a cider and charged my phone (they have many strategically placed powerpoints which regulars/people needing powerpoints take advantage of) while people watching the street outside. The cider was fine (you can't really stuff up a cider), the service pleasant and the surroundings tres ambient for late in the evening.


The last morning I was in the northern state I hit them up for breakfast - obviously what they are known for in the area as they were doing a brisk trade by the time I showed up a bit before eight. They had a yummy-looking offering of avocado and feta on toast which I asked for without the toast (which they were fine with, no weird looks today). The avocado was diced (an interesting effect on the texture) and the goat's feta crumbled on top (quite a dry one, but a good contrast with the soft avocado). It was served with rocket and lemon. I got about a third of it down, and the rest I was able to pack into a takeaway container and pick at during the day. Also got a small chai latte which was fine, but not a stand out in the world of chai. Fairly standard.


Standard Chai

Loved the atmosphere here. The morning staff greeted every regular by name and had a personal comment for them; the regulars were comfortable enough to josh around a bit with the staff - the sign of good relationships being built despite a recent change in ownership. I'll definitely be looking out for a reason to visit again next time I'm in Brisbane!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Kimchi and Bab With Baby

Over the holidays a friend from my Korea days visited Melbourne and I FINALLY managed to get together for lunch with her and her more-than-gorgeous (AND BEAUTIFULLY BEHAVED) baby. Did we (all) want Korean? Hell yes we did, so onto Zomato we flew, and upon Kimchi and Bab in Caulfield we happened.

Now at the moment I'm still not eating much. We figured soup would be safe, so we got budae jjigae (army soup) which contains a bit of everything - kimchi, sausage, spam-like meat, bit of veggie stuff, noodles - in a thick, spicy broth. It was rich and packed full of flavour and texture, and came with the usual assortment of banchan (side dishes) which I could have totally gone to town on as they looked and smelt amazing. As it was, I got a couple of small ladle-fulls of the broth down over the hour or so that we were there, and a few small pieces of the sausage. BONUS! I totally recommend this to anyone struggling with the rigours of a miniature stomach.

Banchan before the...


The restaurant is not huge but it was big enough for us to fit Kat's pram between two tables, and ourselves around it. The food was EXCELLENT value for money and could easily have fed us for breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days for $30ish dollars. They have a decent range of available-in-Korea soft drinks in the fridge (I had milkis - it's been a while and it was a SWEET reunion). The servers were lovely and generally very helpful (assisting us with the gas burner to heat the soup), well presented and neat.

As at the holidays, there were two restaurants labelled as Kimchi and Bab on the road. If you are facing the station with your back to the Princes Highway, the one on your left is the one currently in operation.

Kimchi and Bab Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Sleeve Lyfe - How You Doin'?

These posts are hard to write. Bear with me, cos baring my soul online isn't all that easy or my usual MO on this blog.

Last week marked three months living with the vertical gastric sleeve - an operation that removed a very large portion (80-90%) of my stomach.

Most common question: how are you feeling? My answer (with people I count as acquaintances): 'Good, but tired. Thanks for asking.' My answer (with people I know well): 'Tired. But today I got a whole cup of tea down, and I only threw up once. F£%&ing bonus. Thanks for asking.'

Yup. Still not quite on solid food. I should be taking out shares in Kraft, because cheese sticks are about the only thing I haven't thrown up at least once of the things that count as solid food that I've been able to eat consistently post-surgery. I've had a few weeks here and there where I've been able to eat small quantities of normal food and I've stuck to protein first, as told by the dietitian - meat, omelettes, etc - and I've made the most of it by going out then so I still have SOMETHING to write here. Three gastroscopies and a barium swallow (ugh) later, they're not sure why it all keeps falling in a heap - all they can suggest is that some people's bodies heal slowly, and it looks like I'm one of them. So I'm still taking it easy. Soup, cheese, Gatorade, yoghurt = my favourites.

Other common question: any regrets at this point? That's hard to answer. Yes, throwing up and not being able to eat much at all is a pain in the butt. Yes, being bone tired, irritable some (more) of the time is less than ideal. And for a foodie not being able to enjoy food in the same social, hypersensorial way I used to is enough to make me pout - BUT I love being able to sit cross-legged with my class on the floor and not needing to wriggle. I like being able to cross my legs at the knee instead of the ankle. I like being able to walk the furchild without my hips and ankles complaining. I'm enjoying exploration of my aspiration suitcase (where smaller clothes than what I could fit have resided since I outgrew them).The weight loss? No regrets there. That's lots of fun. I'm not going to reveal how much I currently weigh, but I will say I've lost more than this:


That's my favourite graphic so far from which provides me with hilarity whenever I reach another weight-drop milestone and check in.

So, short answer: I'm doing okay. Not perfect, and my journey is far from over, but I'm getting by. Thanks to those of you who've asked after me, those who checked in when I went AWOL from SwapBot, or who have supported me on Facebook. I'm getting where I want to go more easily because of you. If you're a fellow sleever, how far out are you and how are you doing? If you're not a sleever, but you have questions about sleeve lyfe - what would you like to know? Leave me some love below and I promise to answer.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Rice Workshop Knox

When I lived in Japan it was a tradition for the gaijin (me and the American teacher I worked with) to go to Yoshinoya once a week for a beef bowl - shaved beef and onion, cooked with some kind of broth and served with rice and sometimes other stuff like veggies if you were feeling splurgey. It had a very distinct taste, sweet and salty at the same time, and the beef was always very long and thin and soft. I missed it when I left.

When I saw that Rice Workshop had opened at Westfield Knox AND they were offering entry into a draw for a trip for two to Japan I was like OH YES I'LL BE IN ON THAT. At the time I could eat a little, but still no rice, so I ordered the beef bowl with extra veggies and a poached egg (why not pack a bit more protein into it?). They really meant it when they said extra veggies to make up for it! It was like a dense foliage of greens with a generous scoop of beef and a runny egg on top. Authentic and yum!


I couldn't eat heaps of it at the time, but it made three decent meals for me over two days - plus the Khocolateman tried some and decided it was pretty good. I went back and got the tonkatsu with Japanese curry for him the next time I was there, which he unfortunately devoured before I got to take a photo of it but he seemed to think it was pretty good (and for a guy who MAKES CURRY IN A BIG WAY this is BIG PRAISE). I got that in a combo with their takoyaki (picture perfect, a little tough on the outside... but oh, those tasty little octopus balls!).

See? Picture perfect in glossy hi-def detail

I think I have a new favourite in the food court!

Rice Workshop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Foreigner, Ivanhoe

While where I live is very much the eastern suburbs, I have friends scattered across the city and when it's time to catch up I much prefer to go to them rather than having them come to me (unless they live close by in which case all bets are off and we go to Knox!).

One of these fabulous amazing friends is a teacher buddy from old school who suggested we meet at The Foreigner in Ivanhoe for a coffee over the holidays. What a lovely space! AND IT HAD PARKING OUT THE FRONT! The staff were laid back and entertaining (there was an impromptu dance going on at one point which was very engaging) as well as really knowing their stuff about the menu items.

Being as it is I couldn't eat, I ordered a chai latte. Imagine my surprise when they asked 'Leaf or powder?' I pounced on that - a rarity - and was presented with a lovely pot of PROPER chai latte. The flavour was distinct but not overpowering and the milk not too frothy and not too boiled but just right. It was the Goldilocks of chai tea latte.

Mmmm proper chai for the first time in forever!

My teacher buddy had a coffee but also ordered the ricotta and honey pancakes with a side of bacon. They came out with a generous scoop of ice cream, a fairy floss garnish and a sprinkling of crushed pistachios - a beautifully presented plate full of colour and different textures. I am assured it was just as tasty as it was pretty - and it was very, very pretty.


If I was closer to the area I think this would become my regular haunt. As it is, I can guarantee I'll be back during the term at least once - it's too good not to have a repeat visit!

The Foreigner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato