Sunday, April 19, 2009

Brisbane Trip '09

I got the opportunity to go to Brisbane for 10 days for a business trip. I was working at Queensland University of Technology on particle testing. Whilst I was up there working, I did manage to squeeze in some sight seeing and eating of course.

First for some sights.

Views of Brisbane River.

Botanical gardens adjoing QUT and Queen Street Mall, the main shopping strip in Brisbane.

Chinatown and The Treasury Casino.

A wharf in South Brisbane looking back at the city and Southbank adjoining the city.

A "fierce" croc at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo. If they poked and prodded that croc anymore, it would have been tender enough to throw on the BBQ.

Now to the food. I ate a lot of food during my stay there. Hey, work was paying. Most of it was surprisingly good. Brisbane actually has a great food culture there, nothing at all like the Gold Coast where I struggled to find a good pasta.

First off though, there was some food that was so bad that I just have to post about them.

Worst Three Thing I Ate In Brisbane

* Number 3 Worse Food - Chicken and Pesto Pasta from University Food Hall.
This was your average pasta, not good but still edible. Only a few hours later when I started to have stomach pains and threw up a few times did I regret buying any food from a university food hall. What was I thinking? All my years of training at uni should have taught me that no good ever comes from the university run food hall. When I asked the university staff I was working with, they said none of them ever ate from the food hall. Hahaha, if only I knew earlier. Instead they pointed me to the two university cafes, which did indeed produce very good food and smoothies.

* Number 2 Worse Food - Pizza from local pizza restaurant.
So even though the pasta from number 3 made me throw up, I still thought this pizza was worse. That's saying a lot. This pizza sounded so good on paper, proscuitto, goat's cheese and salami. How could you go wrong with those ingredients? How, just how. I'm still asking that. But the pizza had so much meat piled onto it that it was hard to cut through. The base was soggier than a wet Melbourne day. The salami was completely off and smelling it made me want to vomit. The cheese was more rubbery than chewing gum. And the proscuitto was so salty. Needless to say, I didn't eat any. I couldn't even send it back because it was a delivery from the local "gourmet" pizza shop and the driver had left.

* Number 1 Worse Food - Croc Attack Burger at Australia Zoo.
This burger was wrong on so many counts. The description sounded so good. A hand made pattie grilled, served with egg, bacon, beetroot, salad and chips. Hand made pattie my arse. The pattie was this congealed mess such that you couldn't actually see the meat fibres. The pattie was colder than Tilda Swinton's face. The egg was rubbery. I never knew that was possible. Again, cold egg with black marks all underneath it. And the bacon, not even cooked. The bun was extremely sweet. And the salad, who puts julienned carrots and shredded cheese with huge chunks of lettuce into a burger? And all of it was served with a side of alfafa sprouts and a wedge of orange. A complete WTF burger, it's more messed up than Tara Reid's surgically enhanced breasts. It was at moments like that where I wished there was a McDonalds around as their burgers are ten times better than that monstrosity which was the Australia Zoo burger. Shame on them.

Best Five Things I Had In Brisbane

Ok, after the tragedy of the worse foods, there was indeed so many good food. There were great food at the pubs, uni cafe, local restaurants and fine dining establishments. Here were some standouts.

* Number 5 Best Food - Snails from Belgian Beer Cafe
It's not often that you get to eat snails so when I see it, I order it. These snails were beautifully cooked in a classic garlic butter sauce. A great entree to whet the appetite for the next dish.

* Number 4 Best Food - Oysters from Sono
I'm a sucker for oysters and these beauties were perfection. They were freshly shucked and so full of flavour. Served with a light citrus soy sauce which was thoroughly intoxicating, I had this dish many times during the trip.

* Number 3 Best Food - Chips from Brett's Wharf
The humble chip, who knew it could taste so nice. I actually forgot to take a photo of it, as I was too busy eating it. The steak and lobster I had was amazing, but the chips were the standout of that restaurant. These fat hand cut chips fried and sprinkled with sea salt and served with a garlic aioli. It was so amazingly good as my friend said. He said he went there just to eat the chips sometimes, I would join him.

* Number 2 Best Food - Seared Kingfish Belly Sushi from Sono
I didn't think Sushi could get better than the seared salmon sushi at Shira Nui. I was to be proven wrong. I tried the seared salmon sushi at Sono, it was good but not as good as Shira Nui. But then, the seared kingfish belly sushi, oh my goodness, it was sushi heaven. It was just something intangible where the combination of the seared flavour with the fatty belly, the wasabi, the soy sauce and the vinegared rice that was pure bliss. I thought it might have been an aberration the first time I ate it so ate it three more times, each time equally good.

* Number 1 Best Food - Cherry Blossom Cake with Cherry Mousse and Jelly Served with Liquored Cherries and Cream from Sono
You might start to notice a pattern here, there was a lot of damn fine food at Sono. Despite the Seared Kingfish Belly Sushi being an amazing dish, I can't go past desserts. This cocotion was the special for March and I just happened to be able to sample it on my last day in Brisbane. It was cherry blossom flowers cooked in a sponge cake, with a cherry blossom mousse and a layer of cherry jelly on top. It was served with an assortment of flowers. A side dish of liquored cherries and cream was given. All the flavours just combined so amazingly well. The flavours of the cherry blossoms and flowers kept coming through, mixed with the contrasting textures, it was a party in your mouth. When eaten together with the cherries and cream, it gave another altogether fantastic burst of different flavours. A clear winner for me.

So that was my trip. I completed all my work, and in fact did more than required, while also enjoy some great culinary experiences. I would definitely go back to Brisbane again.


  1. That uni campus is where I did my degree! Sounds like the food hall hasn't improved at all - I packed my own meals throughout most of my undergrad years, and spent many an hour snoozing in the adjoining gardens. :-)

    I'm glad Sono made up for it - the cherry blossom dessert sounds fantastic!

  2. I love Sono as well! Though I still find it a slight slight pity that it's not entirely run by Japanese people. I'm a sucker for authenticity especially with Japanese food.

    Just some suggestions (if you haven't been already) for your next trip to Brisbane:

    The Gunshop (great brunch) - West End
    Three Monkeys (for desserts) - West End
    China Sea (best Chinese in Brisbane) - Milton
    Ahmets (Turkish food - above average) - Southbank
    Tomato Brothers (delicious pizza which I guess would be much better than the one you had!) - Rosalie

  3. Cindy, food hall food is still shocking. I love the surrounds of QUT. The adjoining gardens are fantastic to go for a stroll during lunch time. I did that quite a bit.

    Sono was ridiculously good. Plus work paid for the meals, which made it even better.

    Hi Carmen, nice to meet another Melbournian blogger. I didn't know Sono wasn't run entirely by Japanese. The wait staff were all speaking Japanese all night. You might like this article that I read a while ago, How To Tell A Real Japanese Restaurant.

    Thanks for all your tips, I must try some of those places when I next visit Brisbane.

  4. Hm, makes me glad I left Brisvegas to pursue my (incredibly short-lived) uni life. Although I have to admit that things at ANU in Canberra weren't much better!!

    Can't wait to spend a week up there in a month's time. And combining that trip with a day in Woodenbong to catch up with family :)

  5. Anna, I wouldn't think food at any uni is good. If you go up, give the Seared Kingfish Belly at Sono a try. I know that you don't really like sushi, but this one is amazing.