Saturday, 2 June 2012

Miss Mai, James Place

Last week I blogged about wanting to return to new Vietnamese eatery Miss Mai to sample their duck (!!!!) banh mi.

Today I fulfilled that promise. And because I'm a fat bastard I also ordered chicken pho.

The duck banh mi was everything I hoped it would be. A generous portion of warm, fatty, juicy duck stuffed inside a crisp, chewy roll with crunchy carrots, cucumber and handfuls of fresh coriander. The too-brown photo below really doesn't do this excellent roll justice.


At $7.50 this duck banh mi is on the more expensive side but absolutely worth every cent. And I really REALLY like that the meat filling at Miss Mai's is warm - it transforms what I'd usually consider a fresh, crunchy summery roll into something warm, comforting and perfect for winter eating.

Because I felt a cold coming on (but mostly because (as above) I'm fat, hungry bastard) I ALSO decided to order the chicken pho. Logically, if chicken soup cures a cold then a spicy, herby chicken pho should kick the shit out it!


I reckon the chicken pho is actually better than the beef pho. The broth was hot and sweet again but seemed cleaner and clearer; the chicken was tender, juicy and ever-so-slightly fatty in a good way; there was more generosity with the rice noodles (my one bugbear from last time); and once again the herbs were fresh, beansprouts crunchy and chillies spicy. I felt greatly restored after eating my chicken pho - it really moved all the gunk out of my sinuses.

I had selfishly hoped that Miss Mai's would remain one of those hidden gems in the Adelaide CBD - but no such luck. Adelaideans seem to have already cottoned on to the fact Miss Mai is serving up some seriously good Vietnamese food.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Pure Vegetarian, Adelaide Central Market Food Court

Pure Vegetarian is one of the places I go when I feel as though my body needs veggie hit when the weather starts to cool down. By that I mean a warm, filling meal of vegetables. To be clearer - not salad. We all know that you don't make friends with salad - this is especially true when the weather is cold.

Today I ordered hokkien noodles with vegetarian fish, spicy eggplant and sweet and sour gluten.


Vegetarian fish - firm tofu wrapped in seaweed, crumbed and fried - may sound a little odd but is in fact one of the two menu items I keep coming for. The seaweed provides an authentic fishy flavour while the tofu mimics the flesh of a firm white fish and the fried crumb creates a wonderful layer of crunch.

The other dish I love to order from Pure Vegetarian is the spicy eggplant. It's got a salty, spicy, umami quality that coats the mouth and makes the gums throb with flavour.

Disappointingly, the sweet and sour gluten couldn't match it with the other two dishes. Probably because the eggplant actually benefits from sitting around in a bain marie and cooking longer while the vegetarian fish sells so quickly it doesn't have time to get old. Because that's what the sweet and sour gluten tasted like - old and stale. Imagine using a piece of cardboard to balance out one leg of coffee table for for 10 years and then coating that cardboard in batter, frying it and dousing it in a sweet sauce and serving it with pineapple chunks. No matter how you dress it up it's still a decade old piece of cardboard - dry, tasteless and utterly without gastronomic merit.

In summary - vegetarian fish and spicy eggplant = good. Sweet and sour gluten = bad.

In all seriousness, do check Pure Vegetarian out. You'll love most of the food - just avoid the sweet abd sour gluten.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Taste of China, Central Market Food Court

Taste of China is a relatively new Chinese eatery in the Adelaide Central Market Food Court specialising in Chowzhou style cuisine. I had been eying it off with anticipation for a while and with great curiosity I ordered the Chowzhou style fried noodles.  I couldn't tell what to expect from the picture on the wall - other than prawns. Let me say now I was pleasantly surprised...


Plump, juicy prawns; tender squid and baby octopus; fish balls with a citrus-y (lemongrass perhaps?) zing; crunchy beansprouts - I can't remember the last time I had a noodle dish this good from a food court. There were two other things that really made me sit up and pay attention to this noodle dish - a deliciously savoury fried patty of mystery meat (either pork or possibly some sort of soy protein - no idea what it was but very tasty) and the BBQ pork. This ISN'T the paper thin, cardboard flavoured BBQ pork found in too many otherwise good fried noodle dishes - but big hunks of sweet juicy meat.

The chilli dipping sauce provided a much appreciated hit of heat while the pickled carrot and radish pickle was a palate cleansing crunch.


The only disappointing part of this meal was the lettuce soup - it tasted exactly like it looked - like lettuce with hot water. Bland rather than light and refreshing. 

Taste of China's menu also offers an intriguing looking aromatic chicken dish which looks to be served with boiled eggs and tofu. I'll be returning soon to taste it with interest. I want to see Taste of China do well and stick around. That first store in the Central Market's Food Court has been occupied by too many different (and failed) eateries of the past few years and from my first impression Taste of China would be an excellent addition to the market's eateries.