Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Cho Gao a Goer?

What I really like about Cho Gao at The Pier is the layout and variety of seating format, which they describe as "one harmonious entity, a single space with different zones". This is something lacking along most of the Esplanade and Pier establishments with their monotonous phalanxes of regular table seating.

Cho Gao is on the northern side of The Pier just along from the Pier Bar, with outdoor seating along the boardwalk. The view from here has certainly changed since the lagoon development. I recall being able to watch the sun set over the range and the lights come on along the Esplanade. The outlook now is dominated mostly by trees and carparking. The latter courtesy of the planning masterminds down at the Port Authority who apparently see prime waterfront land as an opportunity to whack down some bitumen and park cars on it.

Back to Cho Gao's, and beyond the format, where this week I made my third lunch stop since opening. Dining solo it's easy to just park yourself on a stool on the boardwalk, take in the view over the carpark and trees, relax with a good book and enjoy some Singapore noodles with an Asian beer.

The Singapore noodles, fried with BBQ pork, prawns, red capsicum and bean sprouts were fresh, tasty and well presented. On a previous visit I shared a noodle lunch with a friend in the low casual seating on the boardwalk and we were both impressed with the food and the ambience. Although at $17 for the Singapore noodles this is not the cheapest Asian eatery in town so it will be interesting to watch how it goes.

The menu is not the all encompassing matrix of options found at many Asian restaurants, and doesn't need to be if a menu is well constructed and refreshed from time to time. There are four sections on the menu with dishes 'to share', noodles, mains and desserts. There are ten dishes 'to share' mostly priced in the $13 to $15 range. Noodles range from $14.50 to $17, with mains around $25 to $28.

There are also banquet menu selections for groups, and with the diverse table formatting and emphasis on share dishes my thinking is that this may be worth a go sometime not too far away .......

Monday, 26 January 2009

Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year!! Welcome to the Year of the Ox ......

The Chinese pronunciation of "ox" happens to coincide with the English pronunciation of "new". So that "happy niu year" means "happy ox year", which is nicely convenient.

Apparently it also coincides with some other day of lesser significance this year?

Kitchenslut celebrated on friday with a banquet, including dragons and fireworks, down at Cafe China.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Bargain Bin

Some interesting specials around town the past week as restauranteurs chase the elusive dollar. This one is from Wink, on the corner of Grafton & Spence. Wink is a newish place where the long established Yama previously was. I didn't try the special at the time although I have eaten lunch at Wink a few months back.

Wink has an interesting menu and the food quality when I was there was definitely towards the better end of the quality spectrum. A little birdie recently whispered a complaint on service, although thats become so typical for Cairns that maybe we have become desensitised? Service? Whats that?

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Something Fishy

Dolphinfish was renamed as Mahi Mahi to avoid the negative perceptions associated with eating 'dolphin'. Now an animal rights group in the U.S. has decided that the way to stop people eating fish is to give them a cuddly image and rename them all as Sea Kittens!

Hmmm, I think I may have found the perfect name for that iconic fish cafe?

P.S. The Sea Kitten stories are brilliant don't miss them!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Public Art in Cairns

I think I have finally succeeded in getting a slideshow of Cairns Public Art operational in the sidebar however it should also be available over here at Picasa Web Albums? Suggestions and contributions welcome and I will try to expand and update the slideshow library with identifying captions and comments ......

Public art can often be controversial. When you visit a gallery you can leave it behind. Your own collection is your choice. However, public art is in your face and you must live with it. Council actually have a policy for public art in Cairns. Curiously this is funded out of a levy on new property development, however a direct rationale for the link is not evident to me unless as an externality tax on deficient architecture?

In the last year a small precinct of works have been added at the northern Esplanade parklands. 'Telescopus' by Dom Johns is the most prominent. I like Dom's work and have a small mosaic of his from the Cairns Regional Gallery postcard show a few years ago.

Perhaps our most (only?) iconic public art feature around town is the 'jelly babies' at the CoCA Centre. During last years KitchenSlut abroad foreign sojourn I was impressed by King Bladud's Pigs in Bath, England. A concept which could be adapted here (perhaps as part of Cairns Festival) and create interest among visitors and locals as well as contribute to charity?

However, I wonder if we would be brave enough for something like this multi-story mural on the wall of the Tate Gallery looking out over the Thames in London? It certainly attracted plenty of interest and photography from tourists!

It would also stimulate additional entertainment value with a flow of opinionated reactions to the letters column in the Cairns Post.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Recipe's for a Rainy Day

It was a day to sleep in with a good book ...... unless anyone was fortunate enough to spend the day in bed with a delectable other!? My current reading is 'Mozart in the Jungle'; sex, drugs and classical music by Blair Tyndall. A fascinating insight into human behaviour beyond the staid exterior of the symphony oprchestra pit.

However, one cannot spend all day in bed (absent the delectable other) and must pursue more active passions to maintain mental acuity and balance. Perhaps fellow local blogger Fosnez has provided a lead with an inspiration to roll up the sleeves, take off the jewellery, open the port bottle, and indulge in some seriously sluttish kitchen activity.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

US Restaurant Index at Record Low

The excellent Calculated Risk blog posts an update on dismal data for the US restaurant industry.

Not sure if we have any equivalent measures here? The KitchenSluts personal index of people watching along the Esplanade is measuring slow to dead (however the seasonal adjustment of this methodology is somewhat imperfect).

We note the ongoing failure to lease the space in front of Harbour Blights as well as prominent vacancies and lease signs along the Esplanade strip. However, there are some good deals on offer for any keen diners still out there .......


I'm keen for some recommendations on the best fish'n'chips around town?

It has always seemed to be something missing in Cairns to me. Yes, we do have seafood restaurants and fish'n'chip takeaways, but we don't seem to have a genuine iconic fish cafe? This is odd given the seaside location and the large number of UK visitors where the fish & chippery, with mushy peas, is almost part of a staple diet.

This isn't a new theme for me. I remember being in an Esplanade bar some years ago when a tourist walked in asking 'where can i get fish & chips' on The Esplanade? He was directed by the barman in the direction of Captain Cook out along Sheridan St. Again this week I was enjpying a quiet vino at the new Bella Vista (who at least mark their glasses so you know you are not being ripped off)where some visitors were discussing where they could get fish'n'chips and seemed to have been directed to Muddies. Now Muddies is ok for what it is and has been good from time to time, but given its conflict with a childrens playground is not quite what I had in mind.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Australian Tropical Foods

Great to see the Australian Tropical Foods website revamped and looking good!

The old site had been badly neglected for some time. We can only hope that, unlike previously, this site is maintained and supported?!

The Kitchenslut was impressed during last years UK sojourn by the pride in their local food and restaurant accreditation program in Cornwall. Why not here?

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