Leaves & Fishes, Hunter Valley

Another really nice lunch in the Hunter Valley. Whilst visiting Lovedale (one suburb over from Pokolbin) to try some wines and olives we decided to drop by Leaves and Fishes for lunch.

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The restaurant was so nice, it felt very much like a tropical island shanty, with bamboo curtains and water running down the open sides. The sitting area sat out on the water and all three sides were completely open. The view was of a beautiful lake surrounded by trees and was fantastic, inside and out.

The food was just as amazing as the view and atmosphere. The menu was heavily Asian inspired, with influences and ingredients from many South East Asian countries.

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First up, we received complimentary Thai fish cakes with sweet, pickled cucumber. This was really nice and soft with a strong fish sauce taste. It came with a refreshing and crunchy Asian salsa like salad. It was a really nice way to start our lunch and set up our palettes to this interesting Asian inspired menu.

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For entree, we started with the seared scallops, on betal leaves with coconut and salmon pearls. This was my favourite dish at Leaves and Fishes. The scallops were perfectly cooked, soft and full of flavour. The betel leaves were perfect for wrapping and the salmon pearls gave it an extra kick of flavour, I think there were crispy shallots as well which gave the dish some lovely crunch.

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Our second entree was the tempura soft shell mud crab with spicy chili tomato sauce. This was amazing, and a little different to the Japanese style one we get back in Sydney, Melbourne etc. I guess its more of a Western interpretation. The main difference was the coating of the crab, it was really light and thin compared to most soft shell crabs I’ve had and wasn’t overly oily (which I find can really kill soft shell crab for me). The outside was crispy, whilst the crab inside remained super soft. The slight sourness of the tomato really help balance out the deep fried crab, such a great way to combine Asian ideas with Western concepts.

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We started our mains with a pulled pork and prawn egg net with asian herb salad and cucumber relish. This was nice (not as good as the scallops and betel leaves) but still awesome. The pulled pork was flavoursome and super soft, the prawns were fresh and bitey. The egg and cucumber really helped bring it all together. Unfortunately, there were also a lot of bean sprouts and I’m not a massive fan of bean sprouts generally, so I had to remove the majority of those to the side. Wish the description said there would be bean sprouts, I might have gone with something else.

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Our second main was the braised beef rib with black bean sauce, snake beans and pickled mustard. This was fantastic, the meat was super tender, and pretty much fell apart without too much effort. The meat was covered in a black bean sauce that was incredible, similar flavour to most black bean sauces that I’m sure you’re all used to, but somehow so much better than it has any right to be. The deep fried vermicelli noodles were also a really nice addition. Visually, it made the dish really pretty and also gave it a slight crunchiness which helped break up the softness of the meat.

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We finished off with a poached pineapple, lime sorbet, coconut tapioca and red shiso, this was really nice and rich. The coconut tapioca was creamy and delicious, the slight sourness from the pineapple helped to balance the whole dish. The lime sorbet also gave it a refreshing note. Really nice dish to finish up on, nice and rich but well balanced.

Leaves and Fishes’ pricing works on a two course minimum for $68. (Any combination of starters, entrees, mains or desserts). However, ours cost a little more since we wanted to add dessert ($15). They didn’t have any prices on their menu for entrees and mains but the rest did.

Overall, our lunch at Leaves and Fishes was such a great experience. The restaurant was so pretty and the food was really interesting and tasty too.

Check out some of our other food adventures from the Hunter Valley:

Muse Restaurant – Degustation 

Harvest Restaurant 

Sabor in the Hunter

The Cellar Restaurant

Muse Restaurant – Wine and Food Matching 

Twine Restaurant

Leaves & Fishes on Urbanspoon


The Cellar Restaurant, Hunter Valley

Decided to have dinner at Cellar Restaurant for our first night in the Hunter Valley. Since this was meant to be a nice relaxing get away as opposed to a full on trip, visiting every awesome food store and seeing everything possible, I decided to wing it and planned none of our meals or days in advance.

When we first got to Hunter we realised that all the restaurants were really fancy, all fine dinning and etc. It made sense to us after a while, why open up a restaurant in the Hunter Valley, especially near the wineries like in Pokolbin and Lovedale unless you have a passion for food. Regardless of this understanding we were still pretty shocked to see this and hence we went with the most ‘casual’ place that was still highly rated. I say ‘casual’ because its still pretty damn fancy, $30 mains, fancy wine, waiters putting napkins on your lap and etc. The only casual part is that we think we saw a guy in jeans in there.

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To start we got a pork, veal and pistachio terrine ($16). This is pretty unusual, I think we were expecting something softer, something more pate like, smooth and fatty. This dish was nice in its own right, just not what we were expecting. The terrine was quite firm, dense while the edges were a little jelly like. Overall it was a little bland, you couldn’t really make out any meat taste (let alone pork and veal flavours) but this went well with the flavoursome condiments. Worked really well when you coupled the terrine with some condiments on the super crispy and lightly oiled bread, pretty sure that’s how the dish it meant to be eaten and it definitely worked when it was done like that.

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Yorkshire pudding with braised Wagyu skirt and horseradish crème fraiche morsel ($6.5).This little morsel sounded pretty awesome and enticing from the menu so we grabbed one to try it out.  (Our plan was to try out a couple of the other morsels after our mains but like always, we were pretty full).

This was awesome! The filling was super rich and full of flavour while the pastry was light and fluffy. Worked really well together, awesome little bite size, wish we could of tried some of the other morsels or gotten a couple more of these.

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To start our mains, we got the venison, mushroom and red wine pie with crushed peas and kipfler potatoes ($29). This was a special for the night (pretty sure it sticks around but it cannot be found on the online menu, so fingers crossed that I remembered the price right). The pie filling was really rich, the red wine was quite strong and unfortunately there wasn’t much of a mushroom flavour, especially because I love mushrooms! The venison was really soft and delicious but it did become a bit too much towards the end, the peas were really nice and fresh but they weren’t enough to change up the flavours of the pie.

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For our last dish of the night we got the Crystal Bay prawns with chargrilled asparagus, salt cod Scotch egg and caper aioli ($26). On this particular night they ran out of asparagus and replaced it with some green beans, which I didn’t mind cos I really like green beans! This dish was really cool, I liked the idea of a seafood Scotch egg. I’ve never tried Scotch eggs before, I learnt about them after weaning off meat so this was a nice alternative. The prawns on this dish were really good, they were absolutely massive and they a really nice flavour to them that didn’t seem to come from seasoning or anything, just probably the type of prawns or where they came from. The prawns went really well with the caper aioli and I’m not not a massive caper fan but here it just worked, it gave the aioli a saltness and brought everything together nicely. It was so good I was scraping up all the aioli from the plate.

I really liked Cellar, it was not too fancy but the food was still really nice. It was a really nice way to transition from our casual eats and home food in Canberra to awesome and fresh foods of the Hunter Valley.

Check out some of our other food adventures from the Hunter Valley:

Muse Restaurant – Degustation 

Harvest Restaurant 

Sabor in the Hunter

Leaves & Fishes

Muse Restaurant – Wine and Food Matching 

Twine Restaurant

The Cellar Restaurant on Urbanspoon


My’s Vietnamese Restaurant, Weston Creek

I’ve always loved food pictures and I originally started this blog with the intention of sharing my food adventures through mainly images. However, over time I began typing more and more and now I’m at the point where I’m an doing full fledged post but still using Tumblr’s photo set option, that is a group of images at the top and my text below. I realise that this isn’t the best way to present and talk about the food that I’m trying out and it is also really difficult to tell what the different dishes are. Hence, I am transitioning! I’m going to start using Tumblr’s text option. Hopefully this goes well!

Onwards to the food! I’ve been to My’s a couple of times since coming to Canberra, this is my go to place for pho, it is simply the most flavoursome broth I’ve ever had (outside of my mum’s of course).and I absolutely love it. I actually discovered My’s during a bit of a Canberra pho safari. I was missing my mum’s pho and decided to go out and get some in Canberra, it was 9PM on a weekday and Can Tho offered to give me take away, it wasn’t great but I can’t blame them, it was late and it was take away. After this disappointing experience, I started searching for one that would satisfy my craving, during this little experiment I had pho from: iPho, Jimmy’s Saigon, Can Tho, Tu Do, Simply Pho, Roll’d, Au Lac and My’s. Most were pretty decent, some were pretty average but My’s was simply amazing.

This post is a little overdue. As I mentioned before, I’ve been here a couple of times before. However, I’ve never done a blog post on My’s and this place definitely deserves a post.

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So we decided to start with a couple of entrees, first up we got the deep fried wontons (5 for $6). These were nice, the meat was perfectly seasoned, not overly salty and not bland. Best of all it wasn’t overly oily. I’ve never really had fried wontons at a restaurant, I’ve only really had them at home but we had a friend who liked them, so we ordered some. After trying these, I definitely think I’ll start ordering them more often when I’m at Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants.

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Our second entree for the night was the garlic chicken wings (4 for $6), this was really nice and crunchy. However, the garlic flavour wasn’t particularly strong and could probably do with a bit more but the chilli soy sauce that it came with was really nice. The sauce was flavoursome and had like a honeyish sweetness to it. Without this sauce, the chicken wings would have been a little bit bland, like standard fried chicken wings, so I was really thankful for that sauce!

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On to the pho/rare beef noodle soup ($14.90), the best part of the night.

I’ve had pho in both Sydney and Canberra, and what makes My’s stand out from other pho in any of those places is its amazing broth. The broth at My’s has a strong savoury flavour to it that you can smell as soon as it hits the table. The broth is super dark, deep and full of meaty flavour as the meats have melted away into the broth. if you’ve ever had the chance to have or make pho at home, My’s broth is like what you get if you’ve had home made pho on its third or fourth day, the flavours just magnify from all the meats imparting their flavour. Some people prefer a sweeter broth, and for those people there’s an easy fix, just add a little bit (or a lot of) hoisin sauce.  Outside of the fantastic flavour, the serving size is generous, with plenty of rice noodles, meat and a lot of broth to go around. The herbs are also really fresh and there is plenty of it to help balance things out.

Every time I come to My’s the food is fantastic, there have been times when the broth was milder but even then it is so much better than most other joints. I have had a couple of other entrees here including the prawn and zucchini fritters (2 for $8.00), which were fantastic (sorry I don’t have a photo). My’s does serve a lot of other foods including Vietnamese home style food (like Griffith Vietnamese) and restaurant style food. I’ve never had anything outside of the pho but judging by the number of people they get every night, I would definitely feel safe ordering their other dishes. If you’re looking for a delicious savoury pho in Canberra, definitely check out My’s.

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