Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

Pho Real at Times Square

Back in the days when I was studying in Aus, Vietnamese food was available near where I lived and I would often eat at the Vietnamese restaurant just 5 minutes walk from UQ located at Hawken Drive – it was the more affordable meals a student could have – usually the range of $6-8 (considered pretty cheap other than McDonalds and KFC)

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I still remember this dish – the really delicious Chicken Chop Rice .. served with that Vietnamese style sauce that’s quite sweet but matches the chicken really well.

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I also remembered when I was in Adelaide – Lok Ing took me to the Vietnam Restaurant at Pennington – their grilled quails were to die for! What a good time I had!

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When I was in Melbourne I had a chance to eat one of the best beef noodles I’ve tasted. It’s different from the Taiwanese Beef Noodles but for I prefer this dish definitely! They put thinly sliced raw beef onto the hot soup when you order it and it will arrive at your table with a medium rare texture which I love. They also put a plate of basil and mint leaves on top of a plate of taugeh to eat with the dish but most of all – that simply gorgeous bowl of beef broth! SIMPLY DELICIOUS!!!! I dream of the time I will get to try this dish again!

For a long time – I yearned for good Vietnamese food in Brunei. There was a Vietnamese restaurant that opened at Batu Bersurat before, serving good Vietnamese food – but I guess the market did not catch on and it was closed down.

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Finally Pho Real opened up in Times Square and it’s a wish come true!! I quickly popped over to try their dishes! When I was there – they only had 3 different dishes – naturally I ordered all three – the natural tendencies of a food blogger who wants to try everything he can get his hands on! Note: pictures were taken using my HTC Desire phone, using mytubo and not a DSLR.

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Their pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodles) is pretty good – you have the taugeh on the side so you can decide how much taugeh you can put – personally I did not put too much as the taugeh taste can be overpowering. I can say they are quite close to the taste of the best Pho in Melbourne but not there yet – they also don’t serve their beef slices raw (which might be a health concern) and I wished they had mint and basil leaves too! But one should appreciate that we can finally have a good bowl of delicious Pho in Brunei! Hurray!!

pho2Their Vietnamese Stew is another rich gravy-ish dish that I can mop up with rice anytime any meal of the day! I loved their fork tender beef and the raw onions they serve with this. Delicious! Girls might share a bowl of this as my other female friends find this slightly oily for their taste – but not for me .. I can finish a whole bowl myself + a bowl of Pho… *burp*

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They also have Vietnamese Spring rolls using thin translucent looking rice papers. I tried their Chicken Spring rolls and it’s pretty fresh tasting and good. Girls on diet can have this healthy guilt free snack! They have vegetarian version of this spring roll too!

Pho Real is located at Times Square Food Court and currently does not have many choices but this might be a good thing as they're focused on a few items and it usually means better quality and consistency. Still - I am looking forward to their new additions to their menu!

Disclaimer: This is not a paid post and I paid for my food. This reflects my own dining experience at this establishment. The contents therein shall not be construed as any admission of liability on my part and without prejudice to my rights, defences and remedies under any applicable laws.

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Vietnamese Banana Cake

This is a dessert that is so easy; you wouldn’t even need to make frosting! Another plus is that these ingredients are readily available all year round! Step forward Luke Nguyen's Vietnamese Banana Cake from his book ‘The Songs of Sapa ‘. Unlike the usual banana cake which has the texture of muffins, cupcakes or breads, here’s one banana cake that is richly dense and satisfying, people will be asking for seconds or thirds.


Ingredients

12 ripe finger bananas or pisang emas (Choose the ones that are ripe but not turning black)
60 g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
7 eggs
380 g (one small tin) of sweetened condensed milk (susu manis)
250 g unsalted butter, melted
200 g (around 1 and 1/3 cup) plain flour

Method

  1. Slice the bananas thinly on the diagonal and coat with sugar. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. Grease your cake pan or bakeware with butter.
  3. Beat the eggs and combine with the condensed milk and melted butter (make sure the melted butter is not too hot or it will cook the eggs).
  4. Now add the flour and mix well, then gently fold the bananas through the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the cake is cooked through in the center and golden brown.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. You can actually serve this warm straight out of the oven as well.

You can serve this on its own or with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy this with a nice cup of Teh Tarik or Pandan Tea. Hmm…… delicious!

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Health Benefits of Avocadoes

Health Benefits of Avocado

Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help to lower cholesterol. In one study of people with moderately high cholesterol levels, individuals who ate a diet high in avocados showed clear health improvements. After seven days on the diet that included avocados, they had significant decreases in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, along with an 11% increase in health promoting HDL cholesterol.

Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help to guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke.

Helps protect against Prostrate and Breast Cancer

Not only are avocados a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid, which has recently been shown to offer significant protection against breast and prostrate cancer, but these fruits also contain the highest amount of the carotenoid lutein of all commonly eaten fruits, as well as measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeazxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene) plus significant quantities of tocopherols (vitamin E).


Increases Your Absorption of Carotenoids from Vegetables

Enjoying a few slices of avocado in your tossed salad, or mixing some chopped avocado into your favorite salsa will not only add a rich, creamy flavor, but will greatly increase your body's ability to absorb the health-promoting carotenoids that vegetables provide.

A study published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition tested the hypothesis that since carotenoids are lipophilic (literally, fat-loving, which means they are soluble in fat, not water), consuming carotenoid-rich foods along with monounsaturated-fat-rich avocado might enhance their bioavailability.

A few quick serving ideas:

My favourite way is to mix avocados with milk and sugar - blend to make a rich tasty milkshake! YUMMY!

Use chopped avocados as a garnish for black bean soup.

Add avocado to your favorite creamy tofu dressing recipe to give it an extra richness and beautiful green color.

Mix chopped avocados, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and seasonings for a rich-tasting twist on traditional guacamole.

Spread ripe avocados on bread as a healthy replacement for mayonnaise when making a sandwich.

For an exceptional salad, combine sliced avocado with fennel, oranges and fresh mint.

For a beautiful accompaniment to your favorite Mexican dish, top quartered avocado slices with corn relish and serve with a wedge of lime.
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