Lunch at Wagamama, Rocky Horror in Melbourne

On Saturday, I met my mum and sister in the city for lunch and a casual stroll around before heading to the Comedy Theatre to watch the 2pm session of The Rocky Horror Show. We started off with lunch at Wagamama on Flinders Lane.  We ordered a bowl of salted edamame and I went for my Wagamama usual, which was the ‘spicy yasai itame’: tofu, mushroom and veg with chili, ginger, garlic and lemongrass on rice:

Wagamama spicy yasai itame

My sister ordered a vegan udon noodle dish, though I can’t see it on the menu.  I tried some and really liked it:

Wagamama udon noodles

My mum ordered a non-vegan meal so I won’t mention it here, but she kindly treated my sister and I to lunch so I don’t know how much the dishes cost.  As always, the service was fast, friendly and knowledgeable with our waiter being very clued up about which bits of a meal were vegan. I note that there are a large number of negative reviews on Urbanspoon.  All I can say is that my mum, sister and I expect good meals when we go out to eat and we got them at Wagamama.  Spicy, tasty, filling portion sizes and definitely not bland. My mum especially is always happy to chat about what was missing, this could have done with more garlic, that could have done with less cooking and so on but she was very pleased with her meal and would order it again.

Wagamama in the city is located at 83 Flinders Lane (the Southbank restaurant has closed). Toilets are near the cash register. Mum paid with plastic so that, along with cash, is accepted. The restaurant itself has long table seating indoors and seating outdoors.  The long tables are well suited to groups. http://www.wagamama.com.au/restaurants/flinders-lane-melbourne

Wagamama on Urbanspoon

 

After lunch (and before, actually) we had some time to kill so we walked around the city for a bit.  My sister and I both love older buildings with the gorgeous wood work and tiling, so when we noticed the stairwell at the Presbyterian Church of Victoria Offices, we had to go inside and snoop:

Presbyterian Church of Vic Offices

I WANT:

Presbyterian Church of Vic Offices

Presbyterian Church of Vic Offices

presbytarianchurchvic1

The Manchester Unity Building.  I wish they’d get rid of those barnacles:

Manchester Unity Building

We looked around the Royal Arcade and went in to the Babushka store:

Babushka Shop Melbourne

Babushka Shop Melbourne

Babushka Shop Melbourne

Finally, on to the Comedy Theatre for the Rocky Horror Show.  The cast were great, my favourite parts were when the actors had to pause before delivering lines because they were trying not to laugh. Of course, I was taking photos (before the show!) of the wood panelling.  Nitpick time: perhaps someone would consider fixing the curtains, they were awfully torn in some areas:

Comedy Theatre Melbourne
A fun day out in my fab city 🙂

What I Ate: the Healthier Weightlossier edition, part II

Last week I blogged about what I ate, with a weight loss slant.  I continued with my oil-free cooking (ie not using oil from a bottle), no bread/pasta/crappy carbs eating this past week as well as continuing to cut out sugars (apart from fruit), watching my portion sizes and not giving in to my ‘inner Labrador’– that woofy voice that tells to me sniff around the kitchen for tidbits all day long.

So last week I was pretty happy with my loss of  1.5kg/3.3lbs (I’m recording my weight here weekly for interested parties!) but I’m not a person who goes much by numbers on the scale.  I care about how my clothes fit, how I feel and how un-bloated I look!  Scale readings can be dodgy from one day to the next, though I have been weighing daily in case I one day decide to put those numbers up publicly somewhere for some reason.  Truthfully, I don’t care for daily weighing, happy to do weekly but for me monthly is where I would probably get a more accurate idea of how I’m going.  I’m also not counting calories, weighing or measuring food at this point while I do have quite a lot of body fat to lose.  Once my stupid feet injuries are history and I begin training again when I have (hopefully!) lost lotsa fat, that’s when I’ll begin paying more attention to eating for fuel and recovery.  For now, I’m just getting myself back in to healthier eating habits that I can maintain daily long term.

This week I have lost 900g (1.98lbs), making a total weight loss of 2.4kg (5.2lbs) in two weeks.  I’m not doing anything strictly though I do prefer to use fruit in smoothies at breakfast time and not during the day. I’m avoiding using oil and throughout the day I keep a mental note of where I’ve eaten fats. I’m drinking more water too and not eating sweets though as you will see below, going out to dinner is the exception to the rule!

Okay, this week’s foodie goodness!

On Monday we had Easter lunch at my mum and dad’s house.  I’m avoiding things like rice and potatoes at home but I put a little on my plate along with some black pepper tofu.  Look at me having an okay portion size.  In other words, measly. Mum had made some stuffed vine leaves and dip made with roasted red peppers, eggplant, walnut and garlic:

dolmades

easterlunch

Dessert was the Banana Coconut Pie I made from one of Brendan Brazier’s Thrive books:

thrivebananacoconutpie1

thrivebananacoconutpie2

That morning’s early breakfast was a smoothie made with a hemp milk, banana, a few greens, orange and lemon:

breakfastsmoothie1

On Easter Sunday DeeW fell over at a park and broke her arm in one, possibly two places. Husband and I decided that DeeW and I should stay with my parents for a couple of days, just to allow her to chill out a bit more and also be closer to the hospital if she needed to go back for some reason.  This meant I had to go back home and scramble fast, like Goose and Maverick, to get all my gear together for a sleepover.  This included taking one of those big plastic storage tubs on wheels, carrying my blender, meals I’d cooked for the week, nooch, hemp protein, dressings, stuff from the veggie crisper drawers and canned beans.

I had (over) sauteed some kale and pak choy in water then added in a small batch of red quinoa I’d previously cooked and frozen.  I wanted to add this to meals throughout the week.  First up was a variation of the Pizza Bowl from Isa Does It.  I roasted some eggplant using only a little olive oil spray and well, this makes the eggplant turn out all dry and blergh.  I already had a little amount of pasta sauce in the fridge I’d made for DeeW, using an Aldi ‘Just Organic’ pasta sauce with some spinach and lentils added.  To that, I followed the Isa Does It recipe for the sauce and I add a small handful of raw cashews, a bottled roasted red pepper a tablespoon of tomato paste that had been in the fridge for almost-too-long, veggie broth and lemon juice.  I forgot to soak the cashews, because when I use my power blender I don’t have to soak.  But I forgot I was using my food processor when I threw cashews in to the mix, so they didn’t mix well (couldn’t mix them in the blender because there wasn’t enough sauce and it would have gathered under the blender blades).  The Isa Does It recipe uses vegan sausage but I used the roasted eggplant and some of Johanna’s Tomato Nut Roast with Buckwheat that I had frozen.  This was quite a filling meal though next time I’d want to follow the Isa Does It recipe to the letter… because here you can see the bits of cashews that didn’t whizz up well:

pizzabowl

Another Isa Does It recipe was the Citrus Tahini bowl.  Here, I marinated some firmer tofu overnight in sesame oil (less than what the recipe states, a couple of drops were enough for flavour), orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic and ginger (I leave out the sweet stuff like agave or maple syrup). The leftover marinade is mixed with tahini and used as a dressing. I served this over those overcooked greens and the not-very-good roasted eggplant.  Yum!

citrustahinibowl

A breakfast smoothie was made with fresh figs, banana, plant milk, cinnamon and hemp protein.  I can’t find my photo but it was delicious.

Mum cooked up some big bean things with carrot and potato.  I wasn’t very hungry when I ate this because I’d just had those dolmades, so this isn’t my usual dinner.  Because there’s not enough of it:

greekbeans

I asked Mum if she could make some of her Greek lentil soup without oil and with all the leftover veggie bits we had.  So this soup is made with brown lentils, onion, a bit of garlic, carrots, broccoli stems and kale. I admit that taste wise, this isn’t that fab because the olive oil is what adds that spark.  But I kinda feel that every now and then I need something that’s just a simple healthy food, without needing loads of flavour.  I need to break out of the mindset I have when it comes to food, I want everything to be fantastic and hate bland boring stuff, even if I know a dish is really good for me.  In other words, I’m a spoilt foodie brat.  As in, if I’m really hungry and whining about having nothing to eat because we’re going shopping the next day, Husband will suggest I eat toast. And then the scene looks like this:

groverblue

Anyway, here’s the soup.  I had this many times:

kalelentilsoup

I’ve been in a quiche craving mood lately so I decided to try these fab looking Mini Crustless Tofu Quiches from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.  After reading through the comments I decided to use a packet of the Morinaga tofu that you find in the non-refrigerated aisles.  It seems that using soft or silken tofu that we get here in Australia would not result in a ‘set’ quiche.  I thought I had the same problem when I tried to take a quiche or two (or three…) out of the mould after they’d cooled down to warm, but when I let the rest cool completely they came out of the moulds fine.  I really liked these but predictably, my fussy family didn’t.  I’m going to use the filling recipe as a base for lots of other stuff.  I have some vegan vol au vent cases that may work:

minitofuquiches

This is the non-weight-lossy bit.  Friday was ANZAC Day here in Australia and we usually always make ANZAC biscuits.  Traditionally they contain butter which can be replaced with a vegan alternative, but this year I looked up healthy vegan versions online.  I found one using almonds and coconut oil, but I won’t link to it because it was a bit blergh.  I ended up adding some Nutellex because the amount of coconut oil wasn’t enough and I didn’t want to use up the little bit I have remaining.  This year I used maple extract instead of vanilla, just for something different.  I wouldn’t call them ANZAC biscuits at all, as ANZAC biscuits are something that stand on their own and healthier versions like this are just too different to even call themselves ANZAC biscuits.  I’d say the ones I made should be called coconut almond biscuits:

notquiteanzacs

Another non-weight-lossy bit was dinner at Loving Hut on ANZAC Day.  All healthy bets are off when it comes to meals out!  Though I did factor in what I’d eaten that day and that I had about four meals worth of lentil-veg oil free soup at home to make up for it all a bit!  I had some of the fried entrees (spring roll, crumbed prawns.  I ordered Husband the wrong spring rolls and he had one and didn’t like it much so I had the two leftovers…)  Then for my main I decided on the spicy lemongrass chicken with vermicelli noodles and a lemongrass dressing.  The bowl was loaded with mint and coriander which I love and some some salad ingredients.  The flavours were great but it was pretty spicy.  The ‘chicken’ was layers of (possibly) bean curd sheets and was quite chewy. I only ate a bit because I was already full and took the rest home to have for lunch the next day.  Aaaaand I maaaay have ordered the salted caramel coconut ice cream by Zebra Dream…

lovinghutlemongrasschicken

I saw plantains in a supermarket and decided to try them out.  I’ve never had them before and see so many American recipes using them:

plantains1

I had no idea what to do so I followed instructions for slicing the plantains in to 2mm slices, spraying with a little oil, then a little salt and lemon juice then bake.  They looked nothing like the photos of roasted plantains.  I didn’t like them at all so I think an expert has to prepare them for me next time:

plantains2

Okay, that’s about it.  I’ve just realised I haven’t got any meals prepared in advance for this week and I haven’t sat down to flip through cook books.  Apart from that lentil soup.  I have one plantain left so I guess I should do something with that as well as all the veggies.  I’ll probably end up with a veggie and chickpea/bean curry and I’d love to replicate the meal I had up there at Loving Hut.

Hope you all have a fabulous Monday!

A really lazy ‘what I ate’ plus a return to Gong de Lin

Again I’ve fallen behind with making notes of what I’ve been eating.  I’ve been kinda sorta ‘good’, and having some raw stuff but mostly in the form of smoothies and juices.  I’ve found that when I make things that are a little more time consuming, I’m the only one that ends up eating them which is not exactly ideal if there are a lot of nuts involved.  Plus once the cooler weather hits I turn in to one of those people who don’t like eating raw in cold weather!

One of my favourite smoothies is the Cake Batter Smoothie from Eat Raw Eat Well.  It’s made with cashew milk, avocado, date, orange, lemon.  I love this smoothie so much:

cakebattersmoothieHusband and I were near Richmond again so we dropped in to Loving Hut for our usual.  Husband gets the spring rolls.  You can see in the photo they look like regular spring rolls, whereas our previous visits gave us the more puffed up lumpy bumpy pastry:

springrolls

I was determined to try another dish but in the end I just felt like the tofu puff-veg curry again.  I’ll get something different next time…

tofu puff veg curry Loving Hut

I made the cheesy-onion raw cauliflower popcorn in the dehydrator using this recipe at Little Vegan Bear.  Caeli is right when she says these feel junky but without the junk!  I just wish my family ate it but I’m not complaining that I get it all to myself:

cauli popcorn

My mum made a nice roasted eggplant dip and green beans with potato and carrot.  Yes, that’s a chores list that says scrub toilets:

beans dinner

Mum also gave me some of the burghul she made and this made another hearty meal served up with grilled mushrooms:

mush beans burghul

I made up some lentil and bean ‘meat’ based on a recipe from Isa Does It though I added in some mushrooms.  I had this during the week rolled up and pressed in my sandwich grill press thingy, or in a tortilla.  I made Johanna’s Cauliflower Cheese Sauce with some minor modifications (like veg broth instead of soy milk, and I used nooch instead of tahini).  I ended up putting more sauce on my plate so I could use the tortilla as a mop because this cauliflower sauce is yumz:

taco meat cauliflower cheeze sauce

I made Moroccan Chickpea Burgers from Holy Cow! I liked them but the family are really, really fussy when it comes to burgers.  As in, they don’t really eat them:

moroccan veg burgers

March 14th was Pi Day.  I didn’t make anything on the day, but the day before I made a sortof pie in the form of an apple rhubarb crumble.  I believe North American peeps call this a crisp:

rhubarbpie


I was mostly happy with the two person banquet at Gong de Lin recently (we were not served the baby corn soup) so when I got home I’d purchased another two person Scoopon.  I took my sister to Gong de Lin last week and the soup came out straight away.  We had the same entree of steamed dumplings and spring rolls, but these dumplings had a different filling than last time and were bigger too.

For our two main meals the sweet and sour mock pork came out but instead of the spicy mock chicken, we had a mushroom dish.  I thought it was good taste wise but anything other than button shaped mushies make me nervous.  My sister is braver than me in this respect and polished it off. The downside here is that we waited for rice to come out but none appeared.  Flagging down the waitress was pointless because other tables were getting really impatient and beginning to call out.  Besides, my sis and I were really full by this point that we said mehhh don’t worry about the rice:

gongdelin2a

I had talked up the dessert course T and I had last time.  This time however, we were given the same ‘dumplings in clear broth’ though the broth again seemed to be water with sugar.  As for the marble sized dumplings, I must report these were a massive let down.  They were plain balls of unsweetened dough with no flavour.  We ate one each then pushed it aside.  Mega disappointing:

gongdelin2b

My sister and I walked around a bit to ease our full stomachs.  We stopped in at the Organic Food and Wine Deli in Degraves Street for some cake.  The vegan options were lemon poppyseed (my sister got  that).  I went for the chocolate cherry cake.  Both tasted nice but were a little on the dry side.  I took a photo of my sister’s slice of cake but it was too blurry (this photo isn’t much better):

ofwd cake

I should point out The System my sister and I use.  When we go out to eat, we never order the same thing.  We pick two menu items we both like and we share.  Husband doesn’t get this.  He belongs to the school of “if you want something, just order it”.  Alas, he hates it when I pick from his plate.  In my defence though I must state that this ‘picking’ is always me taking a sample from his plate before I’ve used my cutlery and he’s welcome to try some of my meal.  Ditto for my sister or others who follow The System.  You don’t double dip of course.  But Husband does not understand this amazing System.

My sister and I had gone in to the Manchester Unity building:

manchesterunity1

manchesterunity2

We got in the lift and were snapping photos of ceilings and so on then got told off by the people from some of the businesses there.  Had we seen a ‘no photography’ sign we would have respected it.  It’s silly they don’t have signs up, I know people who go around to old buildings like this snapping pics of the interiors.

Husband and I have been enjoying watching Veronica Mars.  We had the final tv season put aside years ago and have just watched them all.  We’re definitely going to watch the movie.  I never thought I would enjoy a program set in high school (then college) but it’s a great show.  I especially love the interaction between Veronica and her Dad, always fantastically played:

veronicaketihmars

Another show we’re loving right now is Outrageous Fortune.  OF is a show produced in New Zealand about ten years ago.  I would love to work as a set or wardrobe stylist on a show like this.  I burst out laughing when Pascalle wore the trashy white boots with her bridesmaid dress:

outrageousfortune

I swore I wouldn’t buy any more cookbooks… a blog I follow is Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows.  Angela has just released her Oh She Glows cookbook and my copy arrived today.  Wheeee!  I really liked her introduction and I’m looking forward to trying out some of the recipes as they all look brilliant. Each recipe has a photo and it’s a pleasure to read through. Another book that arrived is Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen.  I’ve had my eye on this one for ages but always said no because I wanted to avoid eating bread.  But the truth is I do love a good sandwich and I’m not very creative when it comes to my own sandwiches.  Plus some of the recipes in this book look fab.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite songs from when I was young.  One year in the early 80s, probably 1982, I received my first record: one of those compilation albums with a bunch of hits from that year.  May I present Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five for your viewing pleasure!

Loving Hut Northcote: The Return. Again.

We love Loving Hut in Northcote.   Today we went with my sister and her partner for his belated birthday. This was their first time there and they really enjoyed it.  My sister no longer eats meat and although she considers herself ‘more vegetarian’, most of what she eats is vegan.  When she cooks, it’s vegan and when she chooses a meal from the cafeteria at work, she chooses something vegan.  Her partner is still omni but he’s very open minded and will try anything.

I ordered our usual entrees, which consists of fried stuff (spring rolls, moneybags and crumbed prawns) and we got the 7-piece serve of the southern fried chicken to share.  My sister and her partner loved it.  Their entree were the rice paper rolls with the crumbed prawn fillings served with two dipping sauces.  I forgot to take a photo when it came out:

loving hut rice paper roll

I went for the vegan sushi entree in the hopes DeeW would eat it.  She eats avocado maki rolls but unfortunately she removed all of the filling here and nibbled at the rice and nori:

loving hut vegan sushi

For our mains, I decided to break from the usual homemade curry and try something different.  I enjoy the homemade curry so much that I always say “I’ll get something different next time”.  So I went for the katsu style breaded duck in plum sauce with some plain rice on the side:

loving hut duck katsu

This was a massive serve.  As you can see, it’s all the mock duck with a little onion.  I find dishes like this really difficult to finish on my own so I was glad that we all picked at eachother’s plates.  Even so I took the leftovers home.  The plum sauce was more a coating on the dish, which I prefer instead of the duck pieces drowning in sauce.  I’d recommend this more for a party that are sharing the food around, as a meal for myself it’s just too much, with no veggies to lighten it.

My sister ordered the pad thai which was listed on the daily specials board.  Again this was a big serve and after the entrees, my sister barely put a dent in it.  She left enough to fill a takeaway container.  I tasted some and it was pretty good, there was tofu and bean shoots throughout:

loving hut pad thai

Sister’s partner got the ‘shrooms dish with rice on the side.  He loves mushrooms and said his meal was great.  I tried a bit and it was quite nice, though I am a total wimpazoid when it comes to anything other than button mushrooms.  Even cutting shiitake slightly freaks me out:

loving hut shrooms

We were absolutely stuffed and waddled back to our cars.  As usual, the men serving us were lovely and our meals arrived quickly.  We got there at 5:30 and there was only one other couple but by the time we left more people arrived.  It seems everyone orders the southern fried chicken!

Loving Hut Northcote is located at 377 High Street in Northcote.  I blogged about a previous visit here

Linda from the Lentil Institution has posted about her trip to Loving Hut Northcote here.  Cindy and Michael from Where’s the Beef have also visited.

Banquet lunch at Gong de Lin

I’m a bit behind the times with this whole Scoopon thing.  I signed up recently because I think it gave me some extra bonus entries in to a competition.  Anyway, one of the Scoopon deals arriving in my inbox was a 100% vegan banquet at Gong de Lin.  $39 for two people so I signed up quick smart because it was a $54 saving.  My buddy T and I rocked up today all hungry like and got a booth by the window (we had to make a booking).

We started by ordering a ‘freshly squeezed juice’ first, though we were a little suss about the ‘freshly squeezed’ origins:

gongdelinbanquet

First up, according to the Scoopon coupon description were the vegetarian spring rolls.  These were fairly standard spring roll fare but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because spring rolls are usually always yum:

gongdelinbanquet

The steamed vegetable dumplings came out at the same time.  I thought these were quite nice and would happily order them again:

gongdelinbanquet

Course 3 on the Scoopon menu description was baby corn soup… but ours never materialised.  I didn’t realise this when we were there, it’s only now reading the menu for this blog post that I realise we didn’t get it!

Next up: bean sprouts in Sichuan style sauce.  These were okay, with some thin noodles in there.  It was more of a refreshing accompaniment and I’d be happy if I could make this at home.  Nice and simple but tasty:

gongdelinbanquet

At the same time we also received a bowl of rice each and the sweet and sour ‘pork’.  Ahhh!  This tasted exactly like the non-vegan version you find in standard suburban Chinese restaurants.  You know, where lemon chicken is on the same menu.  I haven’t had sweet and sour pork (vegan or otherwise) in many, many years and this was a nice bit of nostalgia.  I believe this could fool a meat eater:

gongdelinbanquet

Because I was a bit of a doofus I tipped all my rice in to my bowl and plopped the sweet and sour pork on top, right before the waitress brought out the chicken with hot and spicy sauce.  The mock meat here wouldn’t fool a chicken-eater, but the dish was really tasty.  Suits me fine as I’m not in to mock meat as a meat substitute, I eat it because it’s food I like. Nothing to do with meat. I had to salvage half of my rice for the hot spicy chicken dish:

gongdelinbanquet

Finally we got glutinous rice balls in a sweet sauce.  The ‘sauce’ was more like warm water that was sweetened.  I really liked the black filling which tasted like bean paste and sesame.  A word of warning: take a pocket mirror.  Maybe even a toothbrush, because the filling got all over our teeth, in our teeth and we had to sit there cleaning out black bits.  Seriously, take a mirror and you’ll see what I mean:

gongdelinbanquet

I asked T what she would like to say for the blog and she said BRING A MIRROR.

Gong de Lin is located at  level 3, 264 Swanston Street, right near Lonsdale Street.  Walk in to Noodle Kingdom then take the elevator immediately to your left.  I previously visited Gong de Lin and I was happy with my meal there, though the second time I walked out as I waited for nearly twenty minutes to order and I was the only customer.  Trust me folks, I was making the ready-to-order face. You know, the slightly insincere half smile with raised eyebrows?  Anyway. When I’m hungry, you can’t mess with me.

I’m a bit bummed now that we missed the baby corn soup, there was no mention of it whatsoever so I’m slightly miffed. Regardless, I liked it all enough to order another two person coupon and I’ll take my sister.  This time I’ll take the coupon menu with me and make sure I get everything! T and I were so full we walked it off, down to the recently opened Broad Bean Organic Grocers in Southbank to take a look.  They have a good variety of products and vegan treats:

broad bean organic grocer

broad bean organic grocer

broad bean organic grocer

We took a peek at Testing Grounds, a public open art space opened in October 2013 that was formerly a vacant lot.  That’s the Victorian Arts Centre in the background:

testing grounds

It was quite warm out in the sun so we finished our city outing with a nice big cold juice at a juice bar in Melbourne Central.  I forgot to take a photo of the juices, but here are some scenes of a typical Melbourne day in the city.

cityscene1

cityscene2

cityscene3

I thought about asking this person if they could do a Weeping Angel pose.  Then I thought they probably get asked this all the time and find it REALLY annoying:

cityscene4

Don’t blink!