Monday, October 31, 2011

Shiro Izakaya

Hey Chia!

One of the most exciting things has happened in Perth! Do you remember Lawrence? He went to UWA with a few of us. Anyways, today I went to his new Japanese Restaurant, Shiro Izakaya.

It started off with me being on the phone with Kev while flicking through Facebook. I then saw Lawrence's status:
Starting lunch @ Shiro tomorrow, friends only so if you want to come let me know

So I naturally commented on his status, and hey presto! I had a booking for Kev, Clem and I. Then this morning, I changed the booking to include Els and Joce! (You remember Joce from Barcelona right?!).

Anyways, we all finally arrived at Shiro located at 150 St Georges' Terrace. Walking up to this glass restaurant, which looked onto Central Park, made my eyes boggle. When I walked in, I was blown away with its modern interior, its clean lines, high roof and vibrant atmosphere!

We were greeted by Lawrence who was his cheery, cheeky self, and we were shown to our table. I'd like to say that he was accommodating to our 'demands' such as me wanting a 'warm' bowl... or was it balls? Anyways, he returned to our table with one warm bowl, and 4 'normal' temperature ones- thanks Lawrence. =)

Let me list the things that was awesome about this place:
  1. Its modern interior, large windows looking out onto Central Park, and its vibrant atmosphere;
  2. The efficient, friendly and professional wait staff;
  3. Fast service of great quality, and tasty food (eg. We all commented that the salmon on our Alaska roll was very fresh!);
  4. The unique and interesting flavours;
  5. The cocktail menu looks really sweet and tasty; and
  6. They have an upstairs section which also looks out to Central Park.
Here are some photos!

Fresh, and vibrant!

Taco don buri

Alaska roll

Crunchy roll

It was pretty yummo! I can't wait to try their dinner menu (one of their dishes is a roll called 'The Rolls Royce!- How cool is that?!) and their cocktails (once their liquor licence has been approved!)

Just flicking through the cocktail list and seeing things like 'Sake Bomb,' 'Monkey Magic,' 'Shogun Assassin,' etc just made me wish that it was Friday night already, and the weekend was upon us. If it were Friday night, I would be smashing down those cocktails and lounging around!

Because I am no good with reviews, here is a food critic's opinion:

And their restaurant website can be found here. (However, I think they are still working on the website)

Thanks to Lawrence who extended the invite for lunch at Shiro to friends, and for making our first visit a mighty exciting one!

And to all who read this... definitely check Shiro out!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Back at Home

Hi Chia!

I loved your video! Awww it made me miss being with you! I wish I was there to frolic in leaves! And oh my goodness! The food looks awesome! I am so happy that you had such a great time in Budapest!

I also can't believe that it has been 6 months since you moved to London. Actually, to be honest, it feels like a long time, because so much has happened since you left, including our Spanish trip!

I've now just returned home, and have found my laptop, so I can finally blog a proper post with decent photos.


So, one of the things that happened this week was that I decided to do something new with my hair. It just kept growing and growing, and getting a little bit unruly. So on Thursday I went to the hairdressers:

My long boring hair, tamed by a braid for the last time

Lighter and neater!

Not only did my hair change, but Perth changed into a police state for the arrival of the Queen. Lucky for me, my supervisor's office window looked over Government House, and I was updated on any developments. This is a photo of the arrival of the Queen.
Unfortunately, the Queen didn't come out to greet her crowd.

Alicia's Hen's Night

On Friday night I attended Alicia's Pink Pj Party for her Hen's Night. Alicia looked so adorable! And it was great to catch up with friends I had not seen in such a long time. I am sure you will see a few familiar faces Chia!

It was such a great night to reflect on Alicia and Michael's relationship (Or to learn more about their relationship in my case). The girls had organised a quiz for Alicia, where she had to guess what answer Michael would have said in response to the question. Most of the answers Alicia guessed correctly! But Michael had ellaborated and provided such sweet and cute details. The one that I loved the most was:

'What animal would Alicia be?'

Alicia guessed cat, but was wrong. Michael had in fact answered it with baby elephant because though she is a little clumsy at times, it doesn't stop her from trying and looking adorable at the same time. Isn't that sweet! It made me so gushy! =D

After the games and delicious food, we all sat in front of the tv to watch Bridget Jones' Diary, which I had not seen in such a long time! And, oh my goodness, it is such a great movie!

Markets for CHOGM

Yesterday, Kev and I walked around Northbridge and found ourselves outside the state library and the art museum. They had an international food stall there, live cultural entertainment, as well as some markets, which were organised for the purposes of showcasing Perth's talent for CHOGM. One of the stalls I cam across was an aboriginal art stall, which had some beautiful paintings.

Rainbow snake... I remember being told a myth about a rainbow snake when I was in primary school, but I can't remember it now.

I love these eggs!

A car interior painted with aboriginal art
I also looked at the jewelry that they had there, and came across some interesting cute designs. However, it was Kev who found this:

Happy cloud which was given to me from Kev
He has such a good eye for spotting such cute and interesting things. I tend to get overwhelmed and excited with a stall and glance over the whole thing. But now I have a happy cloud that I wear on my shoulder =D

How is London? Have you settled back already?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hungry for Hungary

One of the things I love about travelling is the FOOD!! There is not a single country that I've been to where I've disliked the food.

I honestly had no idea what Hungarian food tasted like until I came here and it's not hard to quickly become a fan of their food!  I've noticed that they are heavy on their salt but their dishes are still divine. You just need to make sure you quench up afterwards.

Let me show you everything Hungarian that I've had.


Sesame bread filled with jam. Pastry filled with brocolli and cauliflower
This was DELICIOUS!! I'm not sure if they are the labels for it, but I call it the Hungarian cabbage lasagne! It was layered with sauerkraut, rice and minced meat and served with a dollop of sour cream. 
This is how it looks when the lady scooped it out. Polishing the whole plate was an easy task!
Then I decided I wasn't full and it struck me that I've only got a short time left to sample as many things as I can so I had  crepes! It was filled with chocolate sauce, crushed walnuts, rum soaked raisins and the man sprayed on more rum. I am salivating thinking about it.
Unbelievably good! Heavily dusted with icing sugar and huge puffs of whipped cream. Heart attack in a bite!

Forget the name of this but it was chocolate and crushed biscuit layers
Flodni- the middle part is a dense layer of poppy seeds. Never had that much poppy seeds in one go.
Langos- stretched dough fried and brushed with garlic oil and sprinkled with salt
One of these savoury scones. Think tomato, paprika, pizza all rolled into the soft bun, sprinkling of cheese on the outside and lightly fried.  These were to die for!
Fish soup. One spoonful of this and I immediately  thought of  mum's asam laksa.  Remember the laksa that you tried a few times you've been over?  I certainly found it amusing (and so would my mum and anyone else who knows the taste of asam laksa) that this traditional Hungarian soup tastes just like the Malaysian noodle soup dish
Apart from the food, the sights have been impressive. The highlight today was walking up Gellert Hill. I loved walking up the steps and admiring the vibrant yellow colours of the leaves. It made me that happy, I think I skipped a little on the way up. I wished there was someone to share the experience with. I sat for ages on a bench looking out into the city soaking it all in so that I never forget that exact moment.

This video is just for you :D Sometimes when you're alone you just have to amuse yourself.

I hope you like these photos too. I already know that when I look at these they will bring up the fondest memories of Budapest.

Parliament and Szechenyi Bridge

Szechenyi Bridge and St Stephen's Basilica
Fisherman's Bastion

A leafy trail up Gellert Hill

I've walked the city ten times over and I think I've got the map of Budapest embedded in my head. Tomorrow one of the things I will definitely be doing is revisiting the thermal baths again. It will be my last full day in Budapest then Saturday late afternoon I will make my way back to London. Sigh.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

6 monthversary

Hi Anna!

Lucky you! Dinner looks fab!!! I think you'll miss playing house :P

Just a short one today. I've been too tired to blog and been having really long packed days. Yesterday I achieved my mission of trying out cakes. I had 3 different types of Hungarian cakes and they were divine!!!

Today I did a lot and this included getting a little lost after dark and walking instead of catching the metro because I wanted to get as much exercise as possible. One thing I love about Budapest is that it is one of the most safest cities I've been in to. There aren't people loitering around or any dodgy  looking people.

I went out last night with one of the people I met here and so today I've been feeling tired and mopey like I usually am when I'm lacking in sleep and the alcohol has worn off.

Tomorrow will be 6 months from when I left Perth. If you put it like this, 3 more sets of those, and I'm back in Perth. The days have just flown and so has this trip. I think I need to squeeze in as much travelling as possible for the remainder months.

For now it's goodnight! :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pizza and salad!

Wow! Budapest is looking more and more exotic and appealing from your photos! I had no idea what it had to offer! Such a wonderful historical/cultural place!

The market looks even more vibrant than the ones we saw in Spain!

I am blogging from my iPhone, so this will be a short one. But I thought I'd show you the dinner that Kev prepared for us while I was busy punching bags and working up a sweat.

It was super delicious! Thank you Kev!

Central Market and lots of walking

Hi Anna

Today I visited the Central Hall Market which was about a 15 minute walk away. It was really easy to get to and wasn't hard to find at all.

The ground level sold fruits, vegetables and spices. Everything is arranged so neatly! It's as if each item has its place.
They sure like to decorate their pumpkins here
The top level sold Hungarian souvenirs and food. This was where I had my beef stew with rice. No idea what the Hungarian name of it was. I just pointed and ordered it. Oh I am hungry looking at it again!

Will have to try stuffed cabbage next time
I really needed something to satisfy my sweet tooth after my meal so I tried some cookies. These were the 2 out of 4 cookies left. I devoured the other two :D They were so yummy! Soft but not too buttery with jam fillings. The chocolate swirly one had a spongy chewy texture which was surprising but yum! I wish I bought more.

I love how they are decorated
According to a sign, the basement level sold fish and pickled vegetables but I didn't bother because I wasn't in the mood to smell fish. Maybe I'll revisit and see if there are some nice pickled vegetables to try.

I spent the rest of the day walking around the area near the hostel. It is known for the Jewish quarters. I also came across St Stephen's Basilica and I'm excited that you get to see a full shot of me and not just my head!
 Odd and slanted angle
For dinner I had goulash soup in a placed called Bali Caffe. Made me think of Bali. It was very similar to the dinner last night except it had chunks of beef in it. Very hearty and filling and before I finished it I knew that I needed to walk it off. I decided to walk across the bridge and further down so I was almost  opposite the Parliament. Budapest looked absolutely magical and romantic at night. There wasn't many people around but I certainly felt safe at all times.

Tomorrow one of my mission is to try some Hungarian cakes and pastries.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thermal baths, a castle and home cooked Hungarian meal

Hi Anna!

I still can't believe I'm in Budapest! I woke up this morning not feeling the best. It was a slow start to the day and because it was a public holiday, I really didn't know what to do with myself. I read a little bit more on Budapest and then decided to ask the receptionist what he thought and he suggested visiting a thermal bath. I'm not sure if you're aware but Budapest is famous for its thermal baths. Off I went to Szechenyi bath and it was really easy getting there. I love the public system here because it feels safe and is not crowded at all.

Szechenyi bath house

OK so imagine me at the bottom right of the pic :)
I spent about 4 hours at the bath house and my fingers and toes ended up white and withered.and currently my nail tips have gone from white to a grey transparent colour. There are suppose to be up to 20 baths in the place but I ended up alternating between an indoor bath of 38C, the sauna room and the huge outdoor bath. I didn't take photos so you'll have to imagine me somewhere in these photos I 'borrowed' online.

I spent a lot of the time sitting outside because they had water massages and a whirlpool and it was a novelty for me to to be in bathers immersed in warm water and watching the steam rise up into the cold. Almost a mysterious experience. I have no idea what the outside temperature was, maybe about 10C? It was freezing when I got up to get back into the building. The last time I wore bathers was with you in Ibiza so you can imagine what a totally different situation to be in.

It was very crowded and several times I ended up being wedged in between people. Worst was being next to couples that were making out. There were plenty of people young and old and it was fun  people watching and also laughing with an older couple at the ones that were caught in the whirlpool and couldn't get out.It was also good for some reflection time and evaluating life as you do..I was a little hesitant about being solo but as usual I ended up loving it and enjoying my own company.

You can see how huge this place is.but I only stayed within a small part of it- the right side of the outdoor bath because I was too lazy to explore around. It also didn't help that there were no English signs at all and the whole place was like a maze with baths, sauna and massage rooms in every corner.
I felt really tired after all that and when I thought my fingers could not shrivel up any more than they were, it was time to get out.. It was strange to be putting on layers again. I decided to walk around the area aimlessly and leisurely and I came upon a sign that pointed to Vajdahunyad Castle so I decided to check it out. Absolutely beautiful of course!!! I loved being rugged up and walking around in the cold here. I think it is a less miserable cold compared to London. It helps with  beautiful scenery, plenty of  wide open spaces and hardly anyone around.

The castle

 Part of the castle was copied from one in Transylvania but I'm not sure if the bust is but when I first saw this I thought of Count Dracula.
After that I headed back to the hostel because the owners said the were cooking us a free dinner and no way was I going to miss a home cooked meal! It was my first taste of Hungarian and I loved it!! Perfect for the weather. The spice from the Hungarian salami and the paprika was wonderful. I haven't had the chance to talk to the people here but during dinner I found that a few of them were here because there was an international tango event and you dance until you're tired, come back and sleep, then dance again because it's on for 24 hours over the weekend. Talk about intense!
Paprikas krumpli -paprika-based stew with spicy sausage and potatoes. I took a pic of the recipe and will definitely be making this when I get back to London. All I need now is to buy some paprika, one of the most commonly used spice in Hungarian cooking.

Gabora with his head lowered is one of the owners, the other is Francis,  the one standing up and he cooked us the meal
Hope this post took you right to where I am :) Tomorrow I will plan to visit the Central Hall Market, the largest market in Hungary. I can't wait to sample some of their pastries and cakes!!! Reminds me of our market visits in Valencia and Barcelona :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Playing house

Budapest! How wonderful! The photos really make me wish that I considered it as a destination to visit! It looks so interesting! How are your roomies?

As I mentioned before in my previous posts, my week has been busy with conference, and on top of that, Kev and I have been playing house at his parents place.

It has been fun, and interesting. Like I now see how living close to the city is so much easier. Home is so far usually, and I usually have to get ready a lot earlier.

But Kev and I have been managing well. On Friday night we saw QI live! I don't know if you have watched it before, but it's UK 'game show' where there are questions and answers. But the twist is that the comedians that are contestants on the show, are able to discuss about the topic, which are usually 'Quite Interesting'. It was lots of fun, and it felt so great being 'at' the show. Stephen Fry told the audience that it was the very first live show for QI. So we felt very special!

The stage of QI at Burswood

On Saturday night we made chilli con carne and salad:

Our dinner

And while we were shopping for the groceries look what I finally found:

Share a coke with me!


Can't wait for your next post!

First day in Budapest

Anna you are looking STUNNING in that photo! That dress and hair all looks fab on you! I love it!!! You have skills with the curling iron I tell you! Feeling a little regret chopping of the hair and jealous that you can get yours looking as if you've just had it done at some fancy salon!

Today was my first day in Budapest. I managed only 2 hours of sleep last night and I can't believe how much I managed to get done today and it's 10.30pm and I'm still awake even after such an early wake at 5.30am. When I was in Gatwick Airport I thought about us and how we were there about two months ago waiting to  depart for Valencia. I haven't been feeling the greatest and a little worn down and wasn't that excited about the trip either.

I took public transport to get to the hostel but had to ask for directions when I got out of the metro station. I approached a couple and they had no idea because they were tourists themselves and were lost and they had no map! I took a few from the airport tourist info booth so I gave them one of mine and helped them get their bearings a little. My good deed was paid off when a guy who also a tourist, helped me find the hostel using his GPS thing. I really the hostel that I am staying because it is is rather hip and funky and the bathrooms are extremely immaculate and fancy. Almost like a b & b but you're sharing the room. I  can't believe I'm paying about 10 pounds a night to stay here! There are 6 beds but at the moment only 3 of them are occupied including mines. I swapped hellos with the other two and they seemed really tired and went for a nap while I was settling in.

After about an hour of rest I decided to get some air and stretch my legs a bit. When I arrive in a new place I get too excited and I like to go for a wander rather than nap. Besides I didn't want to mess up my sleeping patterns. I went for a walk towards the river and was amazed at how clean and beautiful it was. I could really tell the air was a lot cleaner and smelt fresher than in London. I noticed that I was the ONLY solo female Asian around and I definitely felt like I had more stares here than in London.

Sorry that I have to make this short because I need to get some sleep now. I would love to go into more details but I'll leave you with some photos. You can see the rest on my FB :) I've added comments on those too :)
On the way!!!

Looking down from my bed

On the bridge looking at Parliament and Danube River

ANNA! I smiled when I saw this!

Yup I'm in Budapesti!