night noodle markets

You know summer's just around the corner when Sydney's festivals come out in full force. In particular, the Night Noodle Markets have to be among my favourite events, just because it makes me so excited for holiday parties and warm summer nights! This year I hit up the markets pretty early (by my standards, anyway) and I definitely think it's only getting bigger and better each year. Granted, everything's still a bit overpriced, but I'm a total sucker for good vibes and the novelty of dining al fresco. I'm pretty sure the whole of Sydney agrees too, if the crowds are anything to go by...

Since I missed out last year, my top priority was getting my hands on bao, bao and more bao. The first ones are from Bao Stop, and while I enjoyed them (especially the peking duck) I definitely preferred the ones from Mr. Bao. I mean, just look at those fillings escaping from their pockets! The karaage chicken, fried tofu and pork crackling pieces were generous and went really well with the pickled veggies. Be warned though, since they're so massive they spill everywhere with one wrong move. I may or may not know from experience...

My friend's yakisoba, which she wasn't really a fan of. A bit disappointing considering the price, but I guess with events like these the food always tends to be hit or miss.

My buddies and I shared the Black Star Pastry x N2 desserts, which you can either buy separately or in a trio. The strawberry watermelon cake needs no introduction. Brokeback Moment involved vanilla gelato coated by a chocolate shell, complete with honeycomb and caramel in a pipette. I had the teafogato, which was like nothing I've ever had before. Unlike real afogato, the ice cream and tea combination reminded me more of a creaming soda float, or spider as we call it in Australia. Not sure if I'd get it again, but it was interesting to say the least!

There were so many other things I wanted to try (like the dessert sliders in Jane's post) but with the crowds only set to get bigger, I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to venture out again haha. Nevertheless, if you're a Sydneysider and still want to visit you should get on it! The markets end at the end of this week.
Posted by : Mani

crispy rice salad (nam khao)

Whenever people ask me what Lao food's like, I usually have no idea how to respond. While it's probably most similar to Thai cuisine, there are just so many dishes that are unique to Laos that I don't think I could list them all! One of those things is nam khao, or crispy rice salad. If you ask me, it really embodies ingredients that are common in Lao food, like fresh veggies, fermented meat and chilli (if you can handle it). Anyway, this isn't like any old fried rice. The rice and pork mixture's literally deep fried and broken up to make a 'salad', so there's little wonder as to why I love it. If you're interested in learning how to make this quintessential Lao dish, keep reading!


   Nam khao recipe
5-6 cups leftover jasmine rice
1 packet dessicated coconut
½ can Thai red chilli paste
½ packet pork mince
Som moo (fermented pork)
4 tbs sugar
3 tbs salt
3 eggs
Canola oil
Green onion, coriander, chilli
1. Soak the coconut in a bowl of water. After about an hour, remove and drain it.

2. Mix in the coconut with the rice, pork mince, tumeric and curry until well-combined. Try to break up the rice if it's stuck together in large pieces, but avoid making the chunks too small either.

3. Season with salt, sugar and fish sauce, then break in the eggs and combine altogether.

5. Take about a fistful of the rice mixture and roll into balls. Deep fry them in oil at about 180 degrees until they are golden brown.

6. Break up the som moo (fermented pork) into small chunks, then generously sprinkle it with lemon. Then, after the rice balls have cooled, begin breaking them up over the pork in chunks.

7. Taste the rice salad, then add fish sauce to taste. Garnish with chopped green onion, coriander and chilli if you prefer. Serve on its own or in lettuce cups.

Some tips you might find useful:
  • Fermented pork can be bought from specialty stores and Asian supermarkets. However, if you can't get your hands on it don’t fret! You can use ham, even though it’s not exactly the same thing.
  • If you don't have any leftover jasmine rice, cook it with a little less water than you would usually so that it's drier. Whatever you do, don't use rice that's too fresh as it'll make the mixture sloshy.
  • When rolling the balls, make them round but slightly flattened. This ensures maximum surface area and crunchiness ;)
  • Keep in mind that when you add the herbs at the end, the flavour will become less intense. So ideally, when you taste the rice mixture before then it should be slightly too salty.


There you have it! The contrasting elements in this dish really makes it feel like a party in your mouth, but honestly? When I'm cooking it with my mum I'll often sneak in a rice ball (or five) because they're just that tasty. Even if you don't make it, definitely try out nam khao if you find yourself in a Lao restaurant! You won't be disappointed.
Posted by : Mani

odds and ends

I don't know about you, but September's always an exciting time of year for me. On top of graduation season and the beginning of spring, there always seems to be an abundance of birthdays around this time. For that reason alone I've definitely been a busy bee, and a broke one at that! Anyway, in honour of my extra day of delaying going back to uni (hurrah for the long weekend) here's a roundup of photos from my daily life, or just things I've been eating recently if I'm being totally honest. Most of these things probably won't be new to you if you follow me on Instagram, but oh well...


Just some casual shots around the city while I was running errands. Even though I tend to pass places like the Strand Arcade all the time, living in such a gorgeous city never really gets old. I definitely take it for granted sometimes!


My family's Father's Day lunch. I've always found it bizarre that Australia has Father's Day in a completely different month to the rest of the world, but moving on... What you see here is basically a Lao dish where you make your own lettuce wraps with meat, vegetables and rice noodles. However, we also have oysters there because why the heck not. On the right are some Thai donuts and pandan custard, which were sooo good! I've probably taken ten years off my life just from consuming all those calories though, haha.


It just wouldn't be a post of mine if I didn't indulge my sweet tooth, right? I made vanilla and strawberry panna cotta, which I actually posted a recipe for awhile back. The classic flavour combination just makes it one of those things that everyone loves. Plus if you make it during the day, it'll be ready in time for dessert!


Central Park's currently hosting a cool exhibition called 'Game On' as a part of Art and About, which I really enjoyed. Basically, they've installed a bunch of vintage video games and ping pong tables that are free to use, and it's so much fun. I think it's only there for another week, so be sure to check it out if you haven't already!


I finally tried out Vapiano's at a friend's graduation dinner, and it was pretty good! At first I thought it was strange that the pasta wasn't tossed through, but the trapped heat underneath meant that it was piping hot when it got to my table. Also some waffles I had for breakfast, because why not. They were good enough to eat on their own, but you can never go wrong with some squeezed lemon and sugar on top.
Posted by : Mani