Anmitsu Mihashi, Tokyo Japan

Let me share one of my favourite places for Japanese mochi and sweets in Japan. Mihashi is a kanmidokoro, a cafe selling all my favourite traditional sweets which opened in Ueno during the Edo period (it now has multiple stores in Japan).

We came here for their signature anmitsu dessert but I also wanted to havve some mochi. A light second lunch before dessert if you will.
We traditionally eat ozoni at the start of a New Year when we make our own mochi (using a machine, we don't pound it with a wooden hammer here XP) from scratch and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner until it runs out. Ozoni is a light bonito dashi broth with mochi, chicken, shiitake, prawn and a fluffy egg. I loved how there was a garnish of mitsuba (I'm yet to find this herb locally) which made a subtle difference to the broth. Mum also ordered the isobeyaki which is grilled mochi brushed with soy sauce and wrapped in seaweed.

Anmitsu is a traditional Japanese dessert with small cubes of agar jelly, a mitsu (brown sugar syrup) is poured over the jelly and eaten with red bean paste, fruits and sweet gyuhi mochi. I chose the Shiratama Cream Anmitsu just in case I hadn't had enough mochi…an anmitsu served with vanilla soft cream, shiratama (rice flour dumplings) and mandarins.

Shiratama Cream Anmitsu

Mihashi is the best place for anmitsu and their menu consists of variations of anmitsu with seasonal fruits, strawberries, shiratama, green tea, soft serve etc. The most popular dish here is probably the Matcha Anmitsu, anmitsu with bitter sweet green tea ice cream which is handmade.

Tokyo Station
Ichiban Gai

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant

A trip to Cheng Huang Miao Old Town is not complete (for a tourist) without a visit to Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant (Cheng Huang Miao near the 9 corner bridge). 
Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant is at least 100years old, the "original" restaurant specialising in Xiao Long Bao (now selling eight different versions), which was invented in Nanxiang, but grew so popular they also brought them to Shanghai. I’ve loved these little babies ever since Helen introduced them to me during one of our regular yum cha sessions. The first time I tried these I burnt my tongue, not realising the soup inside would be so hot… since then I’ve mastered the art of eating Xiao Long Bao – dip it in vinegar with shredded ginger, bite a bit of the dumpling, enjoy the soup and eat the rest of the dumpling OR wait till the dumpling cools down a bit and shove the whole thing in your mouth and savour all the deliciousness that is the xiao long bao.

The first time we visited Cheng Huang Miao, the line for Nanxiang Steamed Bun ran for about 100m, so we decided to come back on another day much much earlier. The next time we arrived 30mins after they had opened and already the line was pretty long but we started queuing…10mins later we had not moved an inch. This is probably because each batch of Xiao Long Bao gets steamed then given so we have to wait until the next batch is steamed ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Lining up in the heat, surrounded by boisterous, loud old women playing whistles and jingling bells started to irritate me A LOT. So we followed a couple up the stairs which leaded up to the restaurant section, found ourselves a table and ordered three baskets of xiao long bao and two dipping sauces with ginger. To be seated upstairs you need to pay a few extra RMB, (totally worth it in my opinion) though the wait is probably about the same. While waiting for our xiao long bao we bought some freshly roasted chestnuts to nibble on and watched the people pass below on the bridge.

The Xiao Long Bao that I know and am used to are tiny dumplings thinly wrapped and pinched, filled with tender minced pork or crab and the best part is that distinctive hot broth that spills out and bursting with flavour as soon as you nip a bit of the dumpling. However, in Shanghai I generally found that their dumpling skin is slightly thicker than those served in Sydney where the dumpling is so thinly wrapped, it’s translucent and you can see the amount of soup.
Food Safety Inspection Notification – Excellent
Three poker chips – one for each basket :)))
Pork Xiao Long Bao and Crab and Roe Xiao Long Bao
Overlooking the bridge which warded off ghosts (because they can only travel in straight lines)

They weren’t the best I’ve ever had, (the best I’ve had are at Din Tai Fung or Crystal Jade where they are much much pricier). However, Nanxiang Steamed Restaurant displays many awards and is known as the "original" Xiao Long Bao, slightly overrated but still probably worth a visit for a tourist ๐Ÿ˜‰ It also has an "Excellent" Food Safety Inspection rating which you would NOT expect to find at many places.

Shanghai: Cheng Huang Miao

Glimpses of Old Shanghai




Walking through the small alleyways and residential areas of Old Town, you get a glimpse of life in Shanghai as we passed tonnes of street vendors, "DVD" stores and markets selling live chickens. After a 15min walk we had reached Cheng Huang Miao, it’s the ultimate tourist "trap" where you have Chinese temples filled with souvenir stores to cater for us tourists (really good if you want cheap souvenirs). The buildings are quite beautiful with the pavilions, gilded alcoves and dragons hanging off the roofs. The complex is immensely huge with small laneways lined with food stalls, drink stalls and $1 shops, making it easy to get distracted and lost (it took us several visits to figure out how to get in and get out without ending up on the other side of town).

When we visited the bazaar, they were preparing to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival so the place was especially boisterous with drums banging, cultural performances and colourful displays of dragon boats and  of course a Haibao to keep it modern. Oh, DO NOT come here on a weekend, the crowds are insane – once you get inside the complex, you’ll never be able to get out… also beware of strangers who pull you aside and shove a business card covered with photos of designer goods in your face – they don’t know that "no" means "no".

We usually came here for a quick snack  from the food stalls. At first I could not stand the place as it reeked of Stinky Tofu and I was of course scared of getting sick and weren’t sure if it was "safe" enough to eat from here so we started easy with Portugese Egg Tarts and Bubble Tea. Bill was more adventurous and ate Beef Skewers and Soft Shell Crab. I did however, have a few Giant Xiao Long Bao, sucking the juicy goodness from inside and discarding the thick skin… kind of a waste really, but it was way too thick and dry for me to eat. Besides food stalls, there are tonnes of quirky stores if you look carefully: we stumbled across "Fashion Lane" within Cheng Huang Miao with vintage retro stores and an anime shop woohoo! We also saw many stores selling tea leaves and one store dedicated solely to walking canes.
It’s an interesting place to get lost in, if you have the patience and can tolerate the crowds.

Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Festival
Street Food
Giant Xiao Long Bao
Fried Soft Shell Crab

Portugese Egg Tarts
Beef Skewers
Retro Chairman Mao

Cheng Huang Miao at night
The Bund Center, our apartment from one of the gates at Cheng Huang Miao

Shanghai: Dai Mei Hot Pot

On our first night in Shanghai, Bill was keen to have hot pot for dinner. So after getting to know the Huahai Shopping strip we walked into the first hot pot restaurant we came across.

Dai Mei (Huaihai Zhong Lu) restaurant is located on the second floor of the building, to get there you have to take an elevator up which meant there was no way for us to judge it and deem it "safe" enough to eat at… which made it a bit of a gamble. As we entered I was happy to find the restaurant was massive and busy (although they had packed tables wherever they could), it was quite clean and the ventilation must have been good because it wasn’t very steamy despite the number of hotpots boiling.

I don’t think that we were fully aware we weren’t in Australia anymore until we sat down at Dai Mei and looked at the menu, we immediately thought  "Shit, the whole menu is in Chinese… there’s no pictures … there’s no English … and there’s no pinyin …how the hell are we going to order". Luckily Bill managed to call over a newbie waitress who had the patience to explain to us how to order and ticked the portions of each dish for us. Dai Mei has a system of pre-paying before any food is served so once we had chosen our orders, we paid at the register and collected our drinks, went back and waited for our food at the table.

Boy, was this place cheap – our total cost for dinner was 65RMB ($15) including a 2L Pepsi, beef rolls, lamb rolls, tofu, bean curd noodles, enoki mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, beef and fish balls, spinach, green vegies, chinese cabbage sauces and watermelon. We also ordered a tray of crawfish (this was advertised separately and had a picture woohoo!) The food came almost immediately after paying and we started cooking and eating to our heart’s content. It involves A LOT of sweating but it was so enjoyable and even more satisfying because it was so cheap XP We came here for dinner after a day at the expo because it’s open till late – we ordered basically the same things but with orange juice instead.

er… can’t read anything
Beef rolls and Lamb rolls
Half our spread

Shanghai First Impressions: Welcome to the Future… or not

Shanghai really is the epitome of contrast – where modern meets traditional. 


It was a long drive from the airport to the French Concession, and as we traveled on super efficient highways I began to realize we had arrived in this hugely vast hyper-modern city and I was stunned with the sheer amount of skyscrapers lining the horizon. I guess I forgot about Shanghai’s population of 20million.

First impressions of Shanghai as we explored the fast paced city one tree lined street at a time, you notice buildings have an old charm to them, everyone drives like a mad man, people can sell virtually anything on the street from fake wallets to stinky tofu and cyclists and pedestrians greatly outnumber cars. The city is shockingly fast paced that there seems to be a Hermes being built on every corner and you can see progress each time you walk past a construction site. Something I was not expecting was the streets are extremely clean – for the whole three weeks we were there we did not see a single roach or rat. Ironically, although the streets are so clean, the people are in the bad habit of spitting everywhere. The probable reason why the streets are so clean is at the end of the day they hose down the whole street with really high pressured hoses – no water restrictions there. Some other differences? They have countdowns on their traffic lights for cars and pedestrians!! And when you’re turning left, you have to be in the most right lane… weird huh?

The modern and the traditional


The very traditional

2 seconds before pedestrians are run over


Bills’ grandpa lives in the French Concession area and lives in the old Shikumen style buildings. The entrance is separated from the street by a large gate and the lane is lined with small courtyards where residents grow their own herbs, park their bicycles and hang their laundry. I think the building is made out of stone and houses 5 families with a communal kitchen and communal bathrooms.  We frequented the area so often we were able to explore and get lost in the French Concession which led us to gorgeous hidden lanes and pretty boutiques.


We were also lucky enough to have an apartment on the Bund, THE promenade of Shanghai. Our view from our bed was so freaking amazing I can’t begin to describe what it felt like falling asleep to the view. It is very futuristic and kind of quirky with the Oriental Pearl Tower, spiky Jinmao tower, the Aurora tower which lights up "I heart SH" and the funny tower that looks like a bottle opener you hang on your key chain. We were lucky enough that they had finished three years of renovations here, but this also meant ALOT of people were also visiting the Bund, with street performers, food stalls and hoards of people lining up for a photo op, it was hard to get a nice photo of the skyline.
The Bund at night is gorgeous!!!! The elegant colonial buildings along the whole street illuminates gold and all the buildings look so so grand and decadent and you realise where the "Paris of the East" comes from. Walking past all the buildings lining Zhongshan Lu, you can tell there is alot of history here that it’s overwhelming. It’s also reflected at the end of the road where Huangpu Park meet the People’s Monument. There’s nothing quite like this here.

Goooooood Morning – the view from our bed
The Bund at night
19th century elegance
Good night – the view we fall asleep to

I never thought that I would fall in love with China, but within weeks I had fallen in love with Shanghai.
Next time baby I want to stay at the Waldorf Astoria ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

Back from Chinaland!!!

Hi all!!

I think it’s been around a month now, and we’re finally back from our holiday in Chinaland!!! …


We’ve also brought back a few extra kgs …

ANNND meet my new toy!!


Stay tuned for more blog posts from our holiday! :))

Zai Jian!!!

I’m up up and away… off on a holiday: 3 destinations in 3weeks.

Be back soon with loads of photos from faraway lands ๐Ÿ™‚

Guess where I’m off to ??
Getting myself excited for the trip, I made these last weekend!!
Felt Dumplings, Sesame Bun, Shu Mai and Spring Rolls!!!

Oyster Weekend Indulgence

Spoiled ourselves over the weekend with an impromptu couples retreat with Helen and Jase at Quay West Resort Magenta Shores.  The resort was gorgeous, everything was so so clean and NEW. I think it only recently finished building because our GPS located a huge piece of land when we typed the address in. Our lagoon villa was so spacious, with the lagoon pool close by, indoor heated pool, gym and steam just up the road AND with a humongous kitchen with an island *squeeal*.

It wasn’t all indulgence though as our R&R actually turned out to be a super painful one for some after a huge 5 hour workout on the following day. We had booked ourselves a Wine and Kayak Guided Tour (Glenworth Valley Tours $115) through Brisbane Waters and Woy Woy Bay which started at 10am and ended at 3pm. It was supposed to be relaxing, paddling through serene waters, taking in natural surroundings and learning about oyster farms – how their grown, how to eat them best and what wine to match with them and finishing off with a pelican feeding. We did do all of that but it also turned out to be 10km and 4hours of hardcore paddling in the scorching sun… because we were way to competitive and our strokes sucked. Nonetheless we had fun paddling and eventually burning out. Anyhoo, most importantly during the tour we ate the-most-delicious-creamy-oysters-ever farmed from the Tea Gardens. They were the-best-I-ever-had and I wanted more – I think I ate close to a dozen during the tour, but it obviously it wasn’t enough for us so the next few days we went around the local seafood shops for oysters and even ended up spending $35 for a dozen at a restaurant instead.

The rest of the weekend flew by as we tried to relax and limit the use of arms which were still aching from kayaking by hitting the beach and lazing around the lagoon pool, indoor resort pool and soaking our muscles in the steam room.

*sigh* weekends are never long enough anymore :(((

Quay West Resort Magenta Shores
The number one golf course in Australia?
Birds of Paradise soaking up the sun
(on our way to the lagoon pools)
Lagoon pool next to our Villa
(Jase looks really funny here… like a baby’s body with a big head)
Cooking with the besties with a glass of Rosemount O = FTW!
Sweet and Sour Pork
Garlic Butter Chicken
Garlic Prawns
  The beach 10mins from our villa
… which was windy and had rough seas…
(my tshirt with ramen made Bill crave noodles)
the boys had very synchronised JUMPS AND LAND which impressed the girls
Found a much calmer beach with shallow waters
R&R makes me so happy
I miss summer already!!

Nelson Bay II (I’m still peeling to this day)

We started every other morning off with a cup of Nespresso coffe and a complimentary breakfast and the paper – and boy was the breakfast good. Bill never eats muesli so this opened his eyes to delicious healthy eating… though he complains muesli is so much more expensive compared to his usual sugary cereals.

We also managed to squeeze in parasailing from Port Stephens marina and saw some dolphins in the bay. It was so much fun! It was a bit scary at first but then when you’re flying in the air, it’s so fricken cool. They also let us slowly free fall and dipped us into the water, then accelerating hard to lift us heavies back into the air. After an hour on the boat, I came back with the worst shorts tan from wearing the harness ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Before heading back we wandered around the town centre and picked up some pies from Red Ned’s Gourmet Pies (Stockon St, Nelson Bay). They had so so so many pies on display and they were the most OTT pies I’ve ever seen, so amazing with half an onion on top of mash on top of a steak pie, a Mexican pie with a nacho chip base and one which was decorated with cherry tomatoes. They also have crazy pies like kanagaroo, ostrich and crocodile! But we kept it simple and brought hom Japanese Wagyu Steak Pie, Chunky Pepper Steak and for me a Lobster, Prawns and Barramundi pie which had this amazing creamy sauce (leeks,ginger, coconut cream).

Breakfast of Champions??
Crunchy muesli with fruit, which we mixed with the Traditional Plain Yoghurt and followed it up with the Fruits (strawberries, rockmelon, passionfruit and mango) We kept the Raspberry and Chocolate muffin to eat later in the afternoon.
The beach was perfect and the water was so so clear!
A quick bite to eat before parasailing.
(see how fail he is at cutting bread)
oh yeh, basically this is the only thing Bill knows how to make at this point in time, and will make this when I ask him to make me some food. So before we headed up to Nelson Bay we bought a loaf of Farmer’s Vesper from Luneburger. Simply just Pastrami, Rocket, Cheese and maybe some Pesto if I feel like it.
Moving away from the marina…
…to go parasailing weeee
Snack time – Japanese Wagyu Steak Pie
This was delicious!!! The pastry was buttery and flakey and there were huge chunks of tasty steak and the sprinling of nori on top complemented the meat!
Now we have Biils specialty Mediterranean styleees
Toasted Farmer’s Vesper topped with Vintage Cheese, Rocket, Grilled Capsicum and Chargrilled Eggplant

Nelson Bay

This is the amazing start to the New Year I’ve had, with the bf surprising me with a romantic getaway to Nelson Bay at a 5 star resort <333
I’ve been complaining for a while now that I haven’t been to a beach in two summers, partly because last summer 08-09 I had a broken foot and was confined to the house but also because I’m working full time and the weather has been pretty crappy on the weekends that I AM free. So I guess my whinging and whining paid off :)))

Nelson Bay is only a 3hours drive away from Sydney so though we’re not traveling too far it’s still a nice little holiday. We were blessed with perfect weather.. may have been a little too hot with temps at like 30degrees+, but our place had aircon AND foxtel woohoo XP After settling into our suite we went down to the pool which was a warm 28degrees due to the sun! When we got back I realised I already had a tan line though I slathered on the sunscreen ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The weather is absolutely friggin fantastic!!!
Very very very spacious for just the two of us…. but who’s complaining
the kitchen decked out with Miele appliances
*faints* a Nespresso coffee maker <333
Ensuite (I’m taking this photo from inside the bath tub XP)
*faints again* Loccitane products!!
Private pool and spa
this pool is seriously deep…
In the shallow area I need to stand on tippy toes to have my head out of the water
In the deep area when I stand on the pool floor and stretch my arms up… my fingertips don’t reach the surface
HALF hour later… I had a tan
Later that evening we "strolled" down to the town centre walking along the Marina and grabbed a "pre-dinner snack" at Bub’s Famous Fish and Chips (1 Teramby Road, Nelson Bay). I know every single fish and chip shop have their "Famous Fish and Chips" but believe me this place was really really good! The fish was actually fresh and the calamari rings was so soft and tender and their chips were LIGHT. Even better, the Fisherman’s Basket we ordered wasn’t overly greasy!!! For our actual dinner though we went next door to Fisherman’s Wharf Seafood Restaurant which is actually the restaurant part of Bub’s Famous Fish and Chips which is the takeaway part, and there’s also a Fish Market associated too. The restaurant was good and the cold prawns, crab and oysters were a nice change from the deep-fried snack we had earlier… but I actually would have preferred to eat more Fish and Chips from Bub’s XP
Seafood Platter for one
Natural Oysters, Blue Swimmer Crab, Prawns, Fried King Prawns, Salt and Pepper Squid and Fish Cocktails
Yamba Prawns and Scallops with Avocado Salad
The boy brought this while I was in the bath… he’s an idiot but makes me smile ๐Ÿ™‚
Relaxing outside in the warm summer on the balcony