Launch of Bruce Leaves, Bondi Beach

K and I recently visited the newly opened Bruce Leaves in Bondi Beach, an outpost of the original branch in Alexandria. It makes a lot of sense that they’ve opened in this area as its very concept seems to fit the whole Bondi vibe – healthy salads and rolls with a multicultural twist, designed to appeal to the healthy and fit beach-loving residents of Bondi.


Their launch night was very laid back, with some classic 90s tunes pumping through the speaker system, and staff working on pumping out bite-sized salad and banh mi servings behind the counter. Bloggers, locals, and friends of owners alike mingled through the store and flowed out onto the footpath and little courtyard in front of the store, sipping drinks and laughing and chatting into the night.


Alcoholic versions of their smoothies were circling for all guests – some with a shot of toffee vodka which K just absolutely loved. As I’m still choosing not to drink, the staff generously offered to make a normal smoothie specifically for me. I ummed and ahhed over the different options as they all looked fantastic. The juices looked fantastic as well!


I ended up choosing a coconut banana smoothie, which comes with scooped coconut flesh and juice, banana and soaked chia seeds. It was wonderfully refreshing, and startlingly filling as well. The chia seeds gave the smoothie an interesting texture as well. K just had a Becks beer – not on the usual menu I think, but it was available for the launch party!


Different varieties of miniature banh mi were on the menu at the party, and the staff walked around with rows of them on boards for partygoers to help themselves.


The Chicken Banh Mi was a study in delicious contrasts – tender chicken pieces in a crusty bread roll. Fresh coriander and carrots with a savoury spread and sauce. Exceedingly more-ish in its interpretation of a Vietnamese classic.


I liked the vegetarian Haloumi Banh Mi – it could have done with a bit more haloumi, but what was there was chargrilled to smokey goodness, and was set off particularly well with the fried shallots.


K and I also tasted a satay beef salad – beautifully chargrilled cubes of tender beef served with a peanutty satay sauce with little chunks of pineapple, lettuce and other fresh vegetables. It’s very Malaysian in its style, continuing Bruce Leaves modern interpretations of Asian classics.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get the opportunity to try any other of the salads that Bruce Leaves has on its menu as they proved to be very popular with the other guests who snapped them up before we could try them. All the more reason to return and try them on a proper visit!

Note: Gourmanda visited the launch of Bruce Leaves Bondi as a guest of Seriously Social. All photos and words are her own.

Unblogged Files: January to March 2015

Once again, I find myself months behind in my blogging – some of my latest entries are of dining experiences I had back in early February! Never mind, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will always be playing catchup on blogging. Quite simply, there’s just so many restaurants to try and recipes to share that I can hardly do justice to them all in a timely manner, unless someone was to pay me to quit my job and blog full time!

While it’s highly unlikely that someone will pay me to be a food blogger, you may know someone who needs a freelancer for a small project or ongoing work in communications. I’ve just set up my professional portfolio with an aim of growing my base of freelance clients in preparation for upcoming joblessness due to resigning from my current role to go on a six-month long trip to Europe. More on that soon, once we finally book tickets and everything is set in stone!

In the meantime, I would appreciate it if you would consider sharing my portfolio with any small business owners you know who need some communications work done!

Onto some food highlights from the past three months!


The first – this gorgeous candy apple from Love Dem Apples in Surry Hills. The days of the stale teeth-breaking toffee apples are gone, and the many coated varieties of candy-coated apples from Love Dem Apples have taken over. This is the Bueno version, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the coating does taste exactly like a Kinder Bueno, with the sweet tartness of a fresh green apple. It’s not a cheap dessert-on-the-go (I think this was around $11 for a single candy apple), but it is actually the type of snack that you would want to share with others as a whole chocolate coated apple to yourself is actually a bit too much. Split between two or even three people would be perfect.


I love beautifully presented lunches, and this was pretty excellent. It’s a healthy green vegan stack from Caffe Nostra in St Leonards, just around the corner from my workplace. With a few different varieties of beans on the plate, as well as chia crusted avocado slices and sautéed mushrooms, it’s extremely beautiful; and very filling.

Unfortunately, Caffe Nostra is starting to develop a black name in my workplace, due in large part to a series of negative experiences by some colleagues. One colleague received peanut butter toast three days in a row after specifically asking for Vegemite toast. Another colleague was charged an extra $4 for gluten-free toast, making her simple eggs and avocado on toast request a $21 dish. Combined with some instances of over-charging for soy lattes and other meals, I think it won’t be long until most of my colleagues move onto the next small café in St Leonards for their coffee fix!


The dessert craze that’s had everyone raving these past few months in Sydney is Aqua S in Regent Place. I fell for it as well, and went in to try their signature sea salt soft serve, combined with a chocolate strawberry flavour. I went all out and chose to include all toppings – popcorn, fairy floss, marshmallow and popping candy. It’s a real indulgence and while I haven’t been back yet, I think it’s going to become one of those iconic Sydney institutions that I’ll take all interstate and overseas visitors to try.


K lent his hand in the kitchen one weekend for once – an unusual occurrence as I tend to most of the cooking while he does the dishes! He spent a good amount of time cooking the perfect joint of pork in the slow cooker to create a beautiful barbecue shredded pulled pork with caramelised onion dish that lasted us for most of a week. It’s such a versatile dish – we started off using it in pulled pork sandwiches and rolls before using it as a topping on rice and pasta, and then just by itself mixed in with a bean salad as well. I’m going to have to ask him to make it again soon.


My cousin who was my maid-of-honour at my wedding has recently moved to the UK to try and build a life there for a couple of years like millions of other young Australians who make the move. It makes a lot of sense – the UK is the perfect base from which you can take a million long weekends to explore different parts of Europe. Since moving there a month ago, she and her boyfriend have already been to the Czech Republic, Spain, Morocco…and who knows where else is on their list!

Before she went over to the UK though, she and her boyfriend came to Sydney for a few days for the Asian Cup semi-finals and finals. We took them out to Ippudo Central Park for lunch one day, where I enjoyed this Akamaru red ramen. I can’t get enough of Ippudo’s rich tonkotsu broth and tender pork slices!


When my friend Jenny was visiting me here in Sydney for a few days, we went up to the Blue Mountains for a day trip. We stopped in at the Post Café in Leura for an afternoon tea during a freak hailstorm. I was hoping for a traditional Devonshire tea, alas, they had just ran out of scones! Not all was lost though – I had a delicious orange muffin, and Jenny ordered this piping hot bread and butter pudding that came with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice-cream. The waitress advised her to dig a well in the pudding and to drop the ice-cream in…well, what a revelation! Simply delicious, though very rich.


Everyone knows N2 Extreme Gelato as the forerunner of the current craze for nitrogen gelato. There’s a few similar gelaterias around now, but N2 continue to make its mark as the nitrogen gelato stop of choice with their use of inventive flavour combinations.

I stopped into N2 with my friend Jenny after we dined at Gyuzou (read review), and introduced her to the concept of nitrogen gelato, which was new to her. I chose to have the Cendol flavour – a mix of pandan, coconut, grass jelly and red bean, with the N2 signature syringe shot of palm sugar syrup. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best flavour I’ve had at N2 before – the texture of the grass jelly was somewhat questionable. I’ll stick with my favourite peanut butter and chocolate combos next time!


K and I were also invited to Bondi Hardware’s third birthday party in February, featuring a variety of cocktails (K enjoyed the watermelon cocktail) and delicious small nibbles. The pearl barley aracini was probably my pick of the night! You can check out a few additional photos of the party on my Facebook page here.


Chinese New Year is a time for family and lots of eating! This year, our Chinese New Year celebrations were a lot smaller than they would normally be. K’s grandparents, the organisers of large family gatherings, were away in Malaysia this year, instead we had a smaller and more intimate dinner at Sambal in North Ryde for immediate family only.

Yuu sahng always makes an appearance at Malaysian Chinese New Years celebrations. It’s a raw fish salad also known as the “Prosperity Toss” and is commonly eaten at Chinese New Year as the words in Chinese can sound like a homophone for “abundance and prosperity”. When it comes out on to the table, everyone is supposed to dig in with their chopsticks and ‘toss’ the salad to mix it all up – that way everyone gets to share in the abundance!


I also took a quick trip down to Melbourne to visit my father and brother. Dad always likes having me home. While we connect multiple times every week through regular phone calls, Facetime calls and WhatsApp messages, there’s no substitute for having me there in person. Part of it is for practical reasons – I do a lot of his household administration every time I visit as his English isn’t great. So I’ll spend time calling up companies, changing account details, filling in forms…all the little things that go into running a household that you need some English skills for.

Mostly though, he simply likes to cook all my favourite dishes and feed me up! This time, dishes included fish head noodles, tomato prawns on vermicelli noodles, fried tofu and a chicken and mushroom stir fry. I absolutely love fish head noodles, and really should learn how to cook it myself!


Tim Ho Wan recently opened in Sydney, and with it, an entirely new dining precinct (“The District”) opened up in Chatswood Interchange, above the train station. While Tim Ho Wan is definitely the drawcard with immense queues of people lining up for the famous Baked BBQ Pork Buns (my review coming soon!), there’s heaps of other new eateries in the area that I strongly encourage people to check out!

K and I were the first customers on opening day at Cheers Cut, a Taiwanese fried chicken and seafood joint. While we only ordered the fried beef and chips as a small snack to get us through to lunch, they were so excited to have us stop by that they gave us a sampler of their fried chicken and spiced squid to try as well. The chips were incredible – salted and seasoned with mixed pepper, and the squid was equal parts sweet, tangy and spicy. I’d definitely go back the next time I wanted a quick snack – or even a full meal – in Chatswood.

Coming up in the next three months – two big meals with one at the Fat Duck Melbourne (Chef’s Table – yay!), and one at Tetsuya’s as well. What indulgence!

2014 Family Christmas Lunch and a Recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Turducken

Christmas. A time for overindulgence in food, family connection leading to family squabbles, and finally, vows to never see your family again.

…I kid! Since moving to Sydney a few years ago, I now find myself really cherishing the time I get to spend with my family. Every minute you spend back at the family home becomes increasingly precious, because no matter how many phone calls or FaceTime connections you make, it’s never quite the same.

While our original plans had been to spend Christmas Day in Sydney with K’s family before driving to Melbourne on Boxing Day, we changed our minds when my father was unexpectedly called back to Hong Kong just before Christmas when my uncle passed away. Not wanting my brother to have to spend the holidays alone, we drove down early and spent the holiday together as a family with my cousins.


We hosted Christmas lunch, and decided to follow a sample Christmas menu offered on First up – Green Beans with Cherry Vinaigrette Dressing. This was a great hit with everyone, as the sweet cherries combined with the tart lemon vinaigrette really helped to enhance the fresh crunchy beans. Note – this dish doesn’t reheat that well for leftovers the next day, so it’s best to make a smaller amount and eat it all on the same day!


Next – Charred Capsicum and Zucchini with Goat’s Cheese. This one doesn’t look quite as pretty as in the picture as we ended up using a serving bowl that was probably too small for its purpose, so the presentation wasn’t ideal. It also made it a bit harder for people to dig through to the base to get the goat’s cheese dressing. I recommend serving this dish in a larger, flat serving platter rather than in a bowl. Note – the goat’s cheese cream is delicious, and I would happily just have that on toast with a crack of black pepper!


Crispy Parmesan Potatoes also made it onto the menu. We enhanced the recipe with some duck fat that we had rendered off our next dish, which really made the cheesy roast potatoes super rich and crispy. I’d definitely make this dish again!


The piece de resistance – a Turducken! We didn’t follow a recipe for this and pretty much made it up. Taking the easy way out, we chose to only use the breast meat from each bird (chicken, duck, turkey), rather than the whole body which would have been too hard to manage. At the same time, because we were concerned about only using the leaner breast meat which might dry out in the oven, we decided to wrap the whole thing in fatty bacon, to help keep the meat moist.


And it worked! The turducken was delightfully moist and tender, and the roulade-style shape that we opted for stayed together even after we cut the string that had been holding it together. The half jar of leftover pesto that we added to the centre of the roulade at the very last minute was a stroke of genius as well. Many thanks to my amazing husband K who took primary responsibility for this dish as I tend to get a bit squeamish about touching raw meat!


My brother’s a keen amateur baker/dessert maker, and he took responsibility for making these Christmas Pudding Truffles. Without any glace cherries on hand as recommended by the recipe, he used some fresh cherries instead to top the truffles which I think worked really well! These are very rich though – one would be more than sufficient for most people….okay, maybe two!

It’s months ago now, but how was your Christmas? Did you spend it with your family?

Recipe: Bacon-wrapped Turducken Roulade


  • One chicken breast
  • One duck breast
  • One turkey breast
  • One small jar of pesto sauce
  • One packet of long middle bacon
  • Melted butter for basting
  • Kitchen string for wrapping


  • Flatten and tenderise each piece of poultry breast. I do it by using the back of a meat cleaver.
  • Cut out lengths of string and lay it out across your chopping board.
  • Lay out strips of bacon length-wise along your chopping board, going the same way as your lengths of string.
  • Lay out the flattened turkey breast on top of the bacon strips. Baste with a thin layer of butter.
  • Lay out the flattened duck breast on top of the turkey breast. Baste with a thin layer of butter.
  • Lay out the flattened chicken breast on top of the duck breast. Spread the pesto over the chicken breast.
  • Wrap up everything carefully, ensuring that the turkey entirely covers the duck and chicken breast, and that the bacon is sufficiently wrapped around the turkey.
  • Tie up your lengths of string to ensure that everything is held together tightly. Baste with butter.
  • Cook for two hours at 200 degrees, or until cooked through. Check regularly.
  • Rest for at least half an hour before carving up the turducken for a delicious Christmas lunch.