Happy Lunar New Year 2017 – Lazat Malaysian Restaurant, Sunshine

Lazat Malaysian Restaurant
495 Ballarat Rd, Sunshine

Happy lunar new year to all those that celebrate the season! Melbourne’s lunar new year festivities seem to get bigger and brighter each year. Coming from a Filipino background I never really celebrated the occassion until I met my hubby. He is half Filipino, half Malaysian Chinese and every year we celebrate with his dad’s side of the family. An abundance of food and a clean house, red pockets for all the kids and greetings and hopes of prosperity in the new year.

This year the in laws were on holiday overseas so with little experience on how to prepare the traditional new year’s dishes, the hubby and I searched for a place that served yee sang. Yee sang or yusheng, also known as the Prosperity Toss, is a salad that consists of raw fish, crunchy noodles, strips of veggies and assorted condiments and sauces. We have fond memories of our first ever taste of the dish in Malaysia. It’s not even so much the flavour but the sharing of the meal that we get excited about. Everyone gathers around the table and tosses the noodles and veggies high into the air as happy new year greetings are shared.

We headed to Lazat Malaysian Restaurant in Sunshine and devoured a few dishes for lunch:

– Steamed fish of the day with ginger and onion
– Seafood fried crispy noodles
– Yee sang salad with crunchy wontonpieces, veggies, sauces and condiments and salmon
– cendol for dessert

I loveeee the cendol dessert! The first time I had it was in a market in KL when we visited the hubby’s family during our honeymoon. Cendol is a popular dessert enjoyed in south east Asia consisting of coconut milk, green rice flour jellies, pandan leaves juice, shaved ice and palm sugar.

When the dessert came out these three smashed it in no time, We should’ve bought another one!Lazat have a little courtyard out the back with outdoor seating and the kids spent quite a while just standing in front of the waterfall fountains and watching the fish swimming around.

Family Fun Day at Brimbank


Community Fun Day – Station Road, Brimbank Shopping Centre
Rotary Club of Brimbank Central Inc.

After Baby D’s final music lesson for the term in Williamstown and some Saturday household cleaning chores, lunch was a no brainer at the Community Fun Day at a local reserve. Organised by the Rotary Club of Brimbank Central there was entertainment, rides and food from 11am to 9pm so Baby D had an array of colourful distractions to occupy him all afternoon!

Filipino BBQ skewers with rice and a coffee & mamon combo from Randy over at Cafe Rende hit the spot as cultural dancers and an Elvis impersonator took over the stage. Baby D went on his first ride on the hot air balloons and turned bright red on his first round because he was holding breath! He’d been staring at them the minute we arrived so I thought he’d enjoy it but as soon as the balloons gained momentum and height, he started looking a little worried. A quick diversion from tears meant some time in the mini animal farm! I saw a piglet and was immediately sold on going in with my little man – that and the fact that it was free! 😉

More dancing and music showcased some of the local talent in the area and the weather was perfect for an afternoon of outdoor fun. I’m so glad there are plenty of exciting things for Daniel to see because watching his face light up is priceless. What outdoor activities do you get up to on the weekends? 🙂

Mamons are super soft sponge cakes with finely grated cheese – yes you read right, cheese! Filipinos are infamous for adding cheese to desserts lol!! – don’t knock it til you try it. These mamons are so good you need to try them!

Daniel loved the watching the animals at the Animals 2 U enclosure – so many different types of animals that he didn’t know where to start!

A great range of performers!

He totally looked like he wanted to ride the balloons but then when he did, he looked like this… 🙁

Bumped into some mothers group friends! 🙂

Gintong Kultura perform traditional Filipino dances


Hit with Pho Fever!

2014 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
Sunshine Pho Fever – 10th-13th March, 2014
Sunshine Business Association

It was a sold out event last year and luckily this year Kenny (Consider The Sauce) reminded me to get my pho fever on! Sunshine Pho Fever was again part of the Melbourne Food and Wine festival and this year we joined other guests on a walking degustation tour of the Vietnamese eateries that boast the drinks and soups Sushine is renowned for.

From the placemats with interesting facts printed on them to the goodie bags we were given at the end of our evening, it was a very organised event in which the hosts and restaurant owners’ love for this district’s cuisine was evident and contagious. We were charmed by Simon and Phong who hosted the two separate groups that night – they did a fabulous job showing us around.

Pho fever was a great night out where I learnt all about the origins of pho, how it is cooked, met the people behind the scenes and also met other interesting diners. Networking and pho – I’ll be back next year pho sure! (Sorry I had to do that!).

So without further ado below were the 4 stops that those of us in Group 2 enjoyed last week!:

Cafe #1:
Sao Cafe 3/308 Hampshire Road, Sunshine (9312-0546)
To start the evening off we were welcomed with a red carpet and our choice of refreshing drinks. Wes and I enjoyed ca phe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee) and taro with some pearls. Mmmm yum.

Cafe #2:
Pho Hien Saigon 3/284 Hampshire rd, Sunshine (311-9532)
We love this place! Being a regular weekend lunchtime favourite, something new we experienced was a meeting restaurant owner Cung and hearing about how his workers and himself prepare their delicious pho and the hours it takes to get it right. Cung explained that his pho is in the making from 9am to 9pm each day . In the evening they take out the ingredients and let the soup rest overnight. It is then ready to serve the next day after Cung himself comes in the morning to season it with his secret mix of spices and herbs.

Cung explained that his uncle originally from the south of Vietnam, now living in California gave him a recipe for pho except Cung felt it had too strong a taste and aroma so after trying pho from different places he tweaked it to his taste, and ours! – I finished my chicken pho even though I thought I should’ve been pacing myself for the rest of the night. It was too good not to! Pho Hien opened 7 years ago and recently expanded its floorspace to accommodate their adoring patrons.

We had the chance to sit next to Kenny and Lauren (Footscray Food Blog) and it was great seeing the different “routines” people have when seasoning and eating their pho (I’ll have to write that up in another blogpost if you’re interested).
If in Sunshine or if you just want to try somewhere new you must try Pho Hien Saigon’s pho, combination rice vermicelli, crispy fried chicken and rice, pork and broken rice and their amazing avocado smoothie!! – ok basically everything they serve here is drool-worthy 🙂

Pho Vien

Cafe #3:
Thuan An 253 Hampshire rd, Sunshine (9311-1119)
Next up the beautiful Julie welcomed us with a candlelit table and the ingredients of her pho displayed along the table runner – star anise, cumin, cinnamon, coriander seeds, cardamon, and rock sugar. Julie explained that their pho broth takes 18 hours to cook and that it is compatible to suit the tastes of those people from both the north and south of Vietnam. Julie informed our group that the spices must be put in at the right time or it will make the soup too light or too dark in colour.

I opted for the combination pho this time which included strips of tripe, sliced beef, meatballs, tendons and brisket. It had a strong flavour and I liked the different textures however I was quite full from my chicken pho that I couldn’t finish it no matter how hard I tried! Or maybe I was just too excited to get into the kitchen and check out their 240 litre pots of broth. The kitchen staff were very friendly and happy to have us in their space.

Our fellow table folk this time were the lovely Tracey (SBA’s new marketing manager and Malcolm from the Academy of Design). We got to chatting about everything from pho, arts, youth, council and area development. Keep an eye out for big things happening in the area! 😉

Cafe #4:
Nhi Nuong 2 Sisters, 255 Hampshire rd, Sunshine (9311-6522)

We were welcomed, fed and serenaded by the talented sisters Yen and Elizabeth at our last stop on our Pho Fever adventure – Nhi Nuong. It was a colourfully decorated cafe and I was glad to see fresh fruits, crunchy spring rolls and beef in betel leaves. I was so full I doubt I could have finished a third bowl of pho – again props to the organisers for taking on feedback from last year’s event!

The first thing we were asked to do was to smell and taste the tea and guess what it was made of. The tea on our tables was warm and fragrant and had a calming effect. We were informed that it had pandan in it and could not be brought in stores – it is specially made in a country town in Vietnam and imported to the restaurant for $80/kg! The betel leaves that enveloped the scrumptiously marinated beef was $45/kg and came from Queensland where the weather produced good quality leaves. We were also served tall glasses of refreshing sugar cane juice flavoured with cumquat and with a guitar and beautiful singing voices, we listened to a traditional Vietnamese children’s song about a child having sugar cane whilst waiting for her mother to finish her grocery shopping. What a night!

If you’re after a night of good food, great company and passionate cafe owners committed to serving you, then Sunshine’s annual Pho Fever is a must visit in Melbourne.

In the meantime if you want to experience more of the area’s food and talent – this weekend is the first year of MaDE in Brimbank (Music And Dance Event). This Sunday March 23rd from 12pm-8pm, come and grab some lunch or dinner from local stalls or an array of food trucks. While you eat, you will be entertained by talent from locals and also XFactor guests and the twins from My Kitchen Rules! For more info check out: Brimbank’s MaDE.

Birthday feast at Rustique

Rustique antipasto platter The Urban MaRustique exterior

Rustique Co. – 75a Mt Derrimut Road, Deer Park 03 9017 6655
Modern Australian

These days even though we would love to have a meal in the city on a weeknight, it sometimes feels like a great feat having a walking, talking one year old toddler with us. While other patrons sometimes look a little irked at our little one as he messily enjoys his food, I try to quickly eat my meal in case Baby D decides he wants to walk around and explore. Therefore when my little sister’s 21st came up, she thoughtfully booked us all into a family-friendly restaurant for dinner to accommodate for our one year old and the newest addition to our family, my beautiful 7 week old niece.

Rustique has only been open for around 8 weeks and we were welcomed with a spacious layout and a fun playground situated right near our table. What a great find! Generous meal sizes and a good variety on the menu and reasonably priced, I enjoyed the entrees the best! Baby D loved the playground and the capsicums on the antipasto platter and the mash that came with my veal scallopine.

What we ordered:

– Antipasto platter with cured meats, cheese, salmon, olives, fruit and bread
– Salt and pepper calamari with crispy shallots, chilli, lime and sesame
– Scallops baked with breadcrumbs, parmesan and aioli
– Eye fillet steak with mushroom and pepper sauces
– Veal scaloppine with mash, bacon, mushrooms, asparagus and cream
– Open lamb souvlaki with pita and sauces
– a fish dish – can’t remember the details but it was really tasty!

What I want to try next time:

– the scallops with parmesan again!
–  the pasta tossed with mussels, prawns, scallops, calamari, salmon, garlic and olive oil
– and the cakes in the window display looked delish!

Rustique serves hearty meals in a kid-friendly environment with sleek decor and enough room for high chairs and prams. Comfortable for both families and those wanting a more intimate dinner, we sat in the “family” area right next to the playground. Rustique also take bookings for functions and on the weekends it can get busy so it’s always a good idea to call ahead. Looks like we’ll be coming back here and trying more of the menu soon 🙂 Happy birthday again baby sis! xx

Rustique Co on Urbanspoon

Rustique scallops The Urban Ma Rustique calamari The Urban Ma Rustique playground Baby DRustique salmon The Urban Ma Rustique open souvlaki The Urban Ma Rustique steak and mushroom jacqfruit Rustique veal scallopine The Urban Ma The Urban Ma dines at Rustique