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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ramen Champion | 342 McCullough Street, SUNNYBANK QLD 4109

If I lived in Sunnybank, I'd probably never cook. Being the centre of affordable and (mostly) delicious Asian cuisine, Sunnybank always manages to have new restaurants popping up just as you thought that you have tried the newest joint around.

The other travel bunnie and I drove out to My Baby Warehouse a while ago to get some stuff for Minibun George (like he needs anymore baby gadgets) and while we were in the area, we decided to check out a reasonably newly opened ramen place – Ramen Champion.

We arrived shortly after 12:30 and we were lucky to have the last available table. The menu is quite simple and offers only a few ramen options. Orders are to be placed at the counter and despite the how busy the restaurant was, we received our order fairly quick.

The other travel bunnie ordered a Champion Ramen ($9.90) which is the classic ramen served with a pork bone soup base, while I had the Miso Champion ($10.90). Both ramen came with a few slices of flame grilled pork and some vegetables (mostly bean sprouts, although mine also came with corn kernels and some tiny slices of cabbage). In comparison to Hakataya Ramen, the grilled pork slices lacked that melt-in-your-mouth texture, which I love. We also found that aromatic smell of pork bones that had been slowly cooked for hours was missing from the soups, which were however quite thick and strong, and the flavour intensified as we got down to the bottom of the bowls.

Although I wouldn't go so far as to say that lunch was bad, it certainly wasn't one of the best ramen I’ve had.

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $20.80

Ramen Champion on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 15, 2014

Conrad Sanya (三亚海棠湾康莱德酒店) | Sanya, CHINA

So just like that our trip to China was almost over, but not before we spent our last three days relaxing in the summer sun at the Conrad Sanya. A lot of thought went into choosing our final destination as we wanted a resort that offered all of the summer pre-requisites like pools, beach access and lots of places to relax but wasn’t overly large and crowded. We had to head out to Haitang Bay (which is by no means downtown Sanya City) but boy did this property deliver.

We arrived late in the evening into Sanya Airport and the other travel bunnie decided that a little luxury was in order so he arranged for one of the hotel’s Bentley cars to collect us from the airport and whisk us to the hotel’s reception. Upon our arrival we were immediately greeted with Hawaiian Lays and shuttled to our villa where the check in processes was finalised and we were showed around the features of the room. My immediate impressions (despite it being very dark outside at this time) were WOW. The four posted bed, lush marble bathroom huge with gold fittings and tropical garden aspect and huge living space all screamed French classics despite our mainland China location.

The ensuing days went pretty much to schedule; wake up to the drawn curtains letting in the warming sun and allowing me to look out upon our private courtyard and swimming pool, hop directly to what is (without any hesitation) the best breakfast buffet of any hotel I have ever been to (think all of the usual offerings you would find at a buffet then add daily western and Chinese specials cooked to order as well as the freshest juices and tropical fruits and even a whole coconut), hop to the main pool by the beach and lounge around in the sun (we preferred this pool over the hotel’s other main pool which was more covered less conformable), head up to the main reception area for afternoon tea (complimentary for villa staying guests) and enjoy the hotels stunning view of Haitang Bay, back to the pool, back to the main reception area for evening drinks and canapés (complimentary for villa staying guests), then head out for dinner. In between, we managed to laze around our private pool and utilize our free mini-bar on the villa patio, use the hotel's complimentary shuttle to head into Sanya City, grab lunch/dinner and desserts at the hotel’s (and the adjoining sister property – the Hilton) numerous food and beverage outlets and generally RELAX!

In the end it was the small details that won me over (the various comfortable seating options around the hotels pool, the friendly service we received all of the food and beverage outlets, the inflatable pool toys that came with our villa and the over-the-top amount of sandstone that is used through the resorts grounds) that lead me to the conclusion that this was the best resort we stayed out anywhere in our trip in China (and one of the best we have stayed at anywhere in the world).

We can’t wait to go back!

PS: you have to check out their Chinese Zodiac pool!

Bunnies' travel notes:

Bunnies’ Villa Number: 8822
Number of Rooms and Villas: 94
Swimming pool: Yes
Check-in/check-out times: 3pm and 12pm
Price: $320+ AUD

Hotel Class: 5 Star

Madame Wu | 71 Eagle Street, BRISBANE CBD QLD 4000

So the new cool kid on the Riverside Block has moved in and her name is Madam Wu. Occupying the old space where Sienna was located, the brightly lit neon lights beamed out of this new restaurant’s terrace and often caught my from our unit (as if beckoning me to eat there).

And so I did (not needing to much persuasion). On the final night of my dad’s recent trip to Australia, myself and the other travel bunnie decided that Madam Mu’s would be the location for our going away diner last Friday night.

The 4.1 of us arrived at the reception and immediately I was stunned at the cool renovation this previously boring space had gone through. Think night club, meets sleek modern dining, meets earthy Asian tones all whilst having a open air view of the Brisbane River. We were shown to our table which provided ample room for Mini-bun George’s pram to be snuck in next to one end of the table. Our waiter for the night was a well informed young guy who went out of his way to ensure that we were taken care of all night. We started off with some drinks (the obligatory Tsingtao for dad and the other bunnie) while I decided to venture into a Virgin Lychee Mojito ($10) which was refreshing and delicious. Drinks came with complimentary spiced beans (which helped the boys to make the beer go down quicker) and then the table was treated to a show of what I like to call napkin trees (curled up moistened towels that are sprinkled in water by our waiter to then sprout up before eyes). Très cool! We then proceeded to order a number of dishes from the various sections of the menu that came out throughout the night to keep us all eating for at least an hour. The dishes included pan fried scallop dumplings, verjus butter, black tobiko ($20), tang sui chicken ribs ($12), piju ju snapper guilin style in tsingtao beer ($35), tea salted duck stir fried w' mushrooms & black vinegar ($35), roasted pork belly, coriander, peanut, chilli, fish flavoured dressing ($32) and snow peas & sugar snaps w' horseradish ($12) with some steamed rice ($3 pp) for the table.

I think the highlight was the duck given the interesting take on its presentation and strong gamey flavour but I have to say at the copious amount of melted butter that was drizzled over the scallops was also a BIG highlight. I was the only one game to order a dessert (the steamed chocolate bun w' green tea ice cream ($13)), but I can’t say that it was all that impressive.

The food portions were generous, the service was friendly and quick, and the setting was magnificent (save as for the fact that the Friday night DJ was playing his house beats just a little too loudly for Minibun to be completely asleep).  The cool new kid has definitely earned her place but for how long is another question with the mix on Asian fusion being a hard cuisine to keep customers coming back for more.

Total bunnie dollars spent: $198.00

Madame Wu on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Jamroc Jamaican Jerk Chicken | 421 Brunswick Street, FORTITUDE VALLEY QLD 4006

For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you may recall that about one and a half years ago, the other travel bunnie and I took a cruise around the Caribbean. On the day when the cruise ship made a stopover at Grand Turk, we stopped at a little beach shack for some jerk chicken. For $6USD, it was the best jerk chicken I've ever had. Seriously. After such a long time, the taste still lingers in my memory.

After coming back to Australia, every now and then I would have cravings for jerk chicken. But it was too difficult to find anything remotely close so eventually I gave up and turned to Nandos for some comfort.

Two nights ago the other travel bunnie and I (together with minibun) took a short car ride and ended up at Jamroc Jamaican Jerk Chicken in the Valley. The shopfront is only small but it's definitely inviting. Coloured in green, red and yellow, I couldn't help myself but to catch a whiff of the aromatic smell of grilled chicken.

We were welcomed by the shop's manager and at his recommendation, ordering took seconds. For $28.95, you can get a whole chicken plus a choice of two large sides, so it was a no-brainer for us. But instead of getting two large sides, the manager was kind enough to let us have a large chips, a regular Caribbean coleslaw and a regular rice and peas.

A short while later, our table was filled with food. I must admit that I was really surprised with how good everything tasted. I mean, I expected the chicken to be tasty given that's what the shop specialises in, but the chicken exceeded my expectations. Although it was cooked through, the meat was so tender. The delicious flavour was not only coming from the basting on the surface but the marinade had worked so well that it had sunk into the meat. The Caribbean coleslaw provided a fresh balance with the right amount of creaminess and crunch, and the rice and peas was a really good side too.

Make sure that you try their Caribbean ketchup ($1.50). I promise it's nothing like the average ketchup that you're expecting. I loved it with the ultra crunchy thick cut chips.

How I had not known about this place earlier I have no idea, but I'm glad that I do now. It's such a humble looking joint but their jerk chicken will surprise you. Give it a go and make your own decision, but be careful not to get addicted!

Disclaimer: the bunnies received a $30 food voucher form Jamroc Jerk Chicken, however my opinion is as always, my own.

Jamroc Jamaican Jerk Chicken on Urbanspoon
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