Mon Thani Lunchbox

Edit: Mon Thani is now called Song Canteen, which serves very similar dishes.

Beef and bamboo curry, spicy pork mince and rice

Beef and bamboo curry, spicy pork mince and rice

Today’s packed lunch is a delicious bento of leftovers. At the end of each day, Mon Thani now sell small containers of their dishes for $5 a box. I love grabbing a few of these for a quick dinner, and lunch the next day! Check out my review of Mon Thani!

First look at Kinn Thai Canberra Centre

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After waiting a week for their Grand Opening (after they announced it), Kinn Thai Canberra Centre finally opened yesterday. Macgyver Boyfriend and I took advantage of the 25% off discount last night. The_Food_Avenue_Kinn_Thai_Canberra

Sandwiched between Sammy's and Wood and Coal, where Wagamama's used to be, Kinn Thai is located in the North Quarter of the Canberra Centre in Civic.

It's a Thai restaurant with a modern interior and an exciting menu. They already have other Kinn Thai restaurants in NSW and QLD. I had been poring through the menu online prior to dinner (drooling over every item) and had pretty much decided what I wanted to try that night. I liked that the menu had vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free tags next to each menu item (for those with specific dietary requirements). MB suggested a few dishes that he wanted to try...like the satay chicken skewers and the wagyu beef but I had other plans! I wanted to get the duck pancakes, the scallops, the crispy pork belly, the soft shell crab and the crispy whole barramundi. He gave in to my demands but commented that it was a lot of food. Clearly, I had eyes bigger than my stomach and wanted to order ALL THE FOODS! MB gently talked me out of ordering the barramundi right away and by the end of the meal, I was glad he did!

We got a couple of mocktails ($9 each) and they were fantastic. MB had the Koh Sumui Sunrise (left) with pineapple juice, passionfruit, touch of citrus, and a dash of grenadine. I ordered the Pineapple Mint Lychee Daiquiri Mocktail with blended fresh pineapple, mint, lychee. Lovely tropical flavours that were beautifully balanced.

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The first entree was the pan-seared sea scallops with spicy chilli and lime sauce ($9). The scallops were perfectly caramelised. The sauce was quite a bit spicy and while it was only 9 degrees outside, I was thankful for the refreshing drink to cool my mouth down (being the chilli wuss that I am).

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They had sold out of the duck pancakes so we got the Crab prawn roll instead. As we were already getting crab for the main, MB wondered if we needed double crab. But when we took a bite of the crab roll, the answer was obvious. We TOTALLY NEEDED DOUBLE CRAB! For only $7, you got four amazingly crispy deep-fried spring rolls, filled with crab meat and aromatic Thai herbs, served with plum sauce. I just adored the plum sauce, which coated the crispy roll so well when you dipped the roll. It was thick but not sickly sweet and just a bit of sourness. I may have been spooning the sauce directly into my mouth after the rolls disappeared...

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As a hardcore pork belly fan, I was dying to try the Crispy pork belly ($24). I was not disappointed. The crackling was indeed crisp and the capsicum chilli sauce was a unique and tasty accompaniment. Later that evening, a friend texted me saying he was at Kinn Thai and that they had run out of this dish. We may very well have had the last pork belly dish that night...oops! :P

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While the pork belly dish was MB's favourite main (he loved the capsicum chilli sauce and the crispy crackling), mine was hands down the crispy soft shell crab ($23). On the menu, it was called the Chilli jam crispy soft shell crab, but out came crispy soft shell crab in a bowl of what looked and tasted like a thick red curry sauce. I certainly wasn't complaining as it was delicious (crab was crispy and not oily, sauce was magical) but I did wonder whether I was missing out on an even better chilli jam sauce.

By this stage, I was feeling pretty satisfied and content. I guess I didn't need the crispy barramundi dish after all, but boy I really wanted to try it.

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I also really wanted to come back and try the wagyu beef and the pork ribs...

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I really liked that the menu covered a range of dishes and prices. I could see myself popping in for either just a light snack or a hearty three-course meal. The food also came out quickly after we ordered so it would also suit those who need a quick dinner.

The wait staff were always friendly and attentive, which was great to see. I was worried that being seated outside that we might be forgotten but the wait staff was constantly walking around, our water glasses were always topped up and they even served the rice onto our individual plates for us.

For two mocktails, two entrees, two mains and rice, it came to $43.50 per person (with the 25% discount, only $32.60 per person). Even without the discount, I thought this was a very reasonable price for a good quality two-course meal in Canberra and I couldn't wait to come back to try more menu items!

*All dishes were paid for by The Food Avenue.

The Low-Down on Kinn Thai Eatery type: Thai restaurant What to order: Crab roll, Crispy soft shell crab, Crispy Pork Belly Best for: Quickie dinner before a movie or theatre show Website: http://www.kinnrestaurant.com.au/ Phone: 0262471277, 0477422203 Address: Shop FG08, 125 Bunda St, Canberra

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Review: Morks restaurant, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

Morks is a contemporary Thai restaurant, which has recently relocated to the Kingston Foreshore from its previous location in Florey. The seating capacity has greatly increased and it is now a modern-looking, minimalist restaurant with a simple colour palette and a striking red feature wall. Morks1

I wrote in my first review of Morks back in June 2012 that it was my restaurant of choice when interstate friends and family were visiting. Almost two years later, in April 2014, I'm still recommending Morks as the go-to restaurant to showcase excellent food in Canberra.

A friend from Sydney was visiting Canberra recently and only had time for one lunch catch up. He was in the mood for good Asian food, so naturally I suggested we go to Morks - which has the added bonus of foreshore views.

He ordered the chicken mince with basil leaves and chilli, steamed rice and poached egg dish ($16). The egg was poached perfectly and the well-balanced flavours of the wok-tossed chicken mince surpassed my expectations.

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I ordered the Massamun Burger - slow cooked beef chuck with spicy salad and shoestring fries ($16). I already knew the Massamun beef at Morks was amazing, and I couldn't resist trying the burger version! I was not disappointed. The rich, saucy filling lent itself to being held together between two absorbent burger buns.

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My Sydney friend was impressed by Morks' innovative menu and its beautiful location, saying he would be keen to make more trips to Canberra in the future!

In quick succession, I was back at Morks for dinner to try out their flagship menu. The service on this particular Thursday night was as warm, welcoming and friendly as it has always been, despite the fact that all the tables (in an expanded venue) were occupied with patrons.

My dining companions decided that the tasting menu ($85 with wine/$60 without) looked too good to pass up. As it was a weeknight, we all gave the matching wines a miss, preferring to order drinks separately. The Bennetts Lane NV Brut was a light and crisp sparkling and a perfect first drink. I also had a sip of Linda's lychee lime and bitters. It was sensational - and has become my new favourite non-alcoholic beverage.

The tasting menu kicked off with pan seared scallops and pig ear terrine. The pig ear component was marinated beautifully and the texture was unique and delicious. I've had pig ear before and knew what to expect - gelatinous and slightly crunchy. The scallop was caramelized on the outside, soft and tender on the inside. The textural combination of the delicate scallops paired with the unique pig ear terrine signalled a captivating start to the tasting menu.

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The second course was a salad of crispy rice seasoned with red curry paste, grilled cured pork, Thai herbs, roasted coconut, and dried hot chilli. While the cured pork looked a bit unfortunately like grilled spam, it tasted nice and I loved the overall flavours of the crispy rice salad. The balance of sour, spicey, and salty flavours was genius. The addition of onion and coriander turned the dish into a salad, which worked wonderfully.

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Up next was the braised pork belly with crackling, English spinach, boiled quail eggs served with five spice pork reduction, chilli and garlic relish and rice fried with basil and chilli. The pork belly was, as always, faultless. A magnificent constructional feat, the pork belly looks like a savoury version of a layered cake. I still maintain (as I did in my original review of Morks) that the fried rice could (and would be better) replaced with plain steamed rice as the bold flavours of the fried rice tends to compete with the flavours in the reduction and the pork. In the whole scheme of things, a very minor issue and the dish is overall very enjoyable.

The last dish was creatively called "Egg in Hay" - the egg-shaped homemade coconut icecream sat in a nest of roasted coconut and condensed milk, concealed by a pile of pashmak (Persian fairy floss). The dairy-free ice cream was creamy and surprisingly thick in texture. Flaky roti added a contrasting crisp texture to the dish. As I was eating this heavenly dessert (and best dish of the night), I kept thinking, "I don't want this to end!"

I feel like the Morks leadership team has really come into their own in their new venue. They have stayed true to what Morks in Florey was all about by keeping popular menu items and not letting the hospitality slip. And they have also continued to experimented with exciting new dishes and come up with the beautiful Egg in Hay dessert. It is easy to see that the people at Morks are passionate about developing great food and care about the dining experience for their patrons. What more could you want?

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Morks on Urbanspoon