Har Gow

My sister has recently returned from Japan and quit her job.  This, for me, is a good thing.  She goes out more and thus has more time to do ridiculous things with me.

Friends of mine who have just met her have described her as the nice, innocent, girly version of me.  I tell her this and she tells me her friends say that I’m the tall, mannish hardcore version of her.

So, basically, we’re both Asian.

Thanks, guys.

She is the only person I know who I can be around and have me laughing by doing absolutely nothing.  And, because I love her, I caught A BUS (yes, a friggin’ bus) to Mitcham to see her and play a game of dumpling experiments.  The bus not only freaked me out, but I am sure I had aged a year by the time I got off it. We wanted to make har gow from scratch because we have been oh so disappointed with dumplings in Australia since coming back from HK.

And this is a picture of me making the dough for the har gow which my sister has instructed me to post as I am being an idiot and saying, “DOOOOOOUGH,” while looking like a tard.  She is quite proud of this photo.  All I think when I see this is that I have man arms and have to do something about all that regrowth.


As with most dumpling skin recipes, it is a hot water dough.

Around a cup and a half of wheat starch, a few table spoons of tapioca starch, a cup or so of boiling water and a tablespoon of lard.  Mix it all together and knead it till it is smooth.

There is a reason why I rolled them into logs.  But it needs to rest under a damp cloth for 20 minutes or so.

They’re har gow guts.  Chopped prawns, pork fat, spring onions, bamboo shoots, grated ginger, xiao sing, sesame oil, salt, sugar, white pepper, tapioca starch and egg white.

There aren’t any photos of us getting our hands dirty as, well, our hands were dirty.

With the logs, cut 1.5cm pieces and roll them out into discs.  Then, fill them with the guts and pleat with your tiny Asian fingers.

Don’t have tiny Asian fingers?  Make an Asian friend and get them to pleat them.  In this process, my sister told me about he ex-boss’ eccentric theory that no one likes to eat straight shapes, which is why you must pinch your dumplings into half moons.

Err, sure.

These are the ugly ones we didn’t want people to see cos I rolled the skins out while laughing too hard.

They’re in an oiled steamer, awaiting consumption so we don’t bring shame upon out families.

That being said, I doubt our parents are going to get to eat any of them.

12 minutes later and we have a lot of love.


Do you want to see how much we win at life?

This much.

Bam.  You’re welcome.

Don Too- The Ramen Debate

I love ramen, you love ramen, half the people I follow on twitter love ramen, and I am sure those who have not owned up to it love ramen as well.

I guess the only problem with ramen in Melbourne is, none of it is all that great.  We have, what you may call, a handful of passable ramens amongst shady imitations.  It had taken me a while, but I finally made it to Don Too after all the raving on their soft-centered eggs.

The eggs, the toppings and the noodles themselves don’t disappoint.  At night, Don Too serve nothing but ramen (there was a suspect laksa ramen which I am not game enough to try) and at a very low price.  When ordering Kirin at $5.50 instead of their standard $5 for all other beers, they say, “Are you sure,” as if you’re about to break the bank.  Their servings are generous, but they give you the option to order an extra serve of noodles in your bowl, if you are up to the challenge (don’t do it, I have not seen a single human win).

The noodles come with a toothsome bite, the eggs are gooey, the corn is buttered and the charsu is soft againt the crunchy abundance of the bean shoots which have been carefully picked of their tails.

The few complaints are, that while the broth is hot and the noodles are freshly cooked, their toppings are cold out of the fridge and turn a potentially warming dish into a tepid meal, and while their broth is subtle and has a deep depth of flavour, it is not nearly fatty or thick enough to stand up against an authentic tonkotsu.

So, the story continues, and the ramen hunt remains.  Don Too does provide a great relief from the constant visits to Ramen-Ya, and is just as good for entirely different reasons, but the unfortunate thing is that I may just have to go to NSW to be fully fulfilled within Australia.

Don Too

6/340 Lt Lonsdale St
Melbourne, 3000

(03) 9670 7113

Tiny. So, so tiny.

I was going to start into a post about rationalisations, politics and all those serious issues that surround a person’s different identities and circles, but I honestly don’t have the energy for that this morning.

Instead, I give you the antidote to my previously haphazard Fridays, which often found me drunk as a fisherman before the sun would even go down: Tiny.

Tiny is the name of this seven-seater cafe, which is actually a nook underneath the stairs of a design firm in Collingwood, owned and run by Michael Pham.  Foolscap are the architects who managed to squeeze everything in under the stairs.  Luckily Pham is not a tall man, and from what I see, none of his staff are either.  Many of you will probably know Pham as the banana-“kid” with the thick black-rimmed glasses, a camera with a nice piece of glass and a drink in one hand, photographing you at every party or opening worth going to.

And of course, at some stage, I either stopped caring about partying or Pham became a recluse.

We had crossed paths many a time but never properly met, and then, with the power of Facecrack, this happened:

I believe it was some time when I stupidly decided not to drink for a week, coinciding it with my friend’s bout of responsibility.

She lasted.  I didn’t, but I bet that is no surprise to you.

Pham and I ended up meeting and he showed me Tiny before he even got any of his equipment.  I believe the fridge arrived that morning and I advised him to turn it on to avoid the smell of stale grandparent underwear drawer.
Finally, Tiny opened, but I didn’t make it.  In fact, I didn’t make it for the first few weeks of opening because I had convinced myself that if I trained twice on a Friday, then it would be alright to continue on my liquid diet for the entirety of the weekend.  Oh, and then Pham got a concussion.

When I finally did make it, Pham did the worst thing he could do to a hyperactive child and fed me shot after shot of espressos before presenting the Pocket Rocket to calm me the fuck down.
The way Tiny’s menu works is that he has an all-day breakfast, a selection of 3-4 sandwiches and a couple of salads on rotation.  Depending on how busy they are, he may also have a couple of specials and a full cabinet of baked goods which also change in accordance to his mood.
In case you were wondering, the Pocket Rocket is a cannellini bean salad with dill, gherkins, rocket, capers, mayo and a boiled egg.  Basically, it’s a bowl of protein, and I think Pham’s got a grand experiment to turn me into some weird muscular hulk.

Or, he’s just being Asian.

In fact, we spend most of the time here making fun of our families and laughing at the Tiger Mom article with the guys from the design firm upstairs.  We make it okay to be racist against Asians, apparently.  And in case you are offended, I group Asians together, rather than being race specific, as Pham and I are different flavours of Asian.

Born of these times have been anecdotes of the stupid uncle who marries into the family(why is it always an uncle?), the effectiveness of not raising pussy children, fucklava (baklava), associations through alleged rumours and techniques of fattening up drunk people who you don’t like that end up in your house at the end of an evening.

The reason why I love this cafe isn’t just the size, the banter, the quality coffee, generosity, familiarity or the patrons it attracts; it is the completely unpretentious menu.  On it, there are sandwiches with grilled bacon and HP sauce, a “mousetrap” breakfast sandwich of vegemite and cheese and as you can see above, a fish finger sandwich.


And what is more badass,

this is his kitchen and barista station.  Some clever architecture, consideration and the willingness to saw through a shelf to fit in his grinder gives Pham many respect points from me.

Damn, I swept and mopped in there the other day and I had trouble maneuvering things around- I couldn’t imagine having two people in there at the same time without a fist or two being thrown.

Either way, being a dirty coffee fly has allowed me to befriend the people next to and above Tiny.  I am a big fan of the triumvirate and if you’re ever in the area, you’d probably find me sitting here taking up more space than the kitchen with my kickboxing gear on a Friday afternoon.

My advice is to go to the Japanese Bath House next door, feel virtuous, get touched up and then pollute your body with a coffee and a touch of racism next door.


51 Cromwell St,
Collingwood, 3066

(what, you think they have a phone???)
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