Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cold lunches

I can't believe that we're facing such cold weather already. Yes, I'm having a whinge. With barely enough time to lament the passing of daylight savings I'm now suffering chilly mornings and the need to already dig out winter coats and scarves and sweaters.

This weather does, however, give reason for hearty food; bedsocks and hot water bottles; days spent wrapped in a blanket no longer 'a waste'; the ongoing search for bars and pubs with real working fireplaces; and boots.

On hearty food, I could never imagine having a steaming bowl of soup noodles when there's a blue-sky, sunny day nearby. Which is silly, because one should eat what they want to eat, but I'm programmed to be weather-directed like that.

Cheap eats in the CBD on chilly weather days usually means one of two meals for me: Vietnamese pho or Japanese ramen. The decision usually comes down to the flavour hit I'm looking for: is it the wholesome, soup-sweetness of a beef pho topped with fragrant herbs and lemon; or the savoury, umami-rich ramen stock with chewy noodles and scattered vegies?

Shoyu ramen with chicken from Miraku Japanese Cuisine,
Hunter Connection food court

This day it's the latter in the bustling Hunter Connection food court joining Pitt Street to George Street near Wynyard (also known as my wet weather, undercover path to the ivy...). I find that shoyu ramen tends to be my pick at most ramen outlets because of some, possibly misguided, idea of mine that it is less oily than other varieties. Miso ramen is a little overwhelming for me as is tonkotsu ramen many a time.

I have chicken in this version; a generous addition of broiled thigh chunks along with bamboo shoots, shallots, bean sprouts and corn kernels. The noodles have a bite-y texture and make the perfect warming mouthful with the hot, steaming soy sauce soup.

Other days call for a pasta fix - and these can be truly bad or naughty days. There is a severe lack of decent, quick, cheap pasta available in the CBD for lunch. There are the microwave-to-serve options, although they're rarely heated sufficiently or end up suffering a dry microwave burn. There are some bain marie options, which are again lukewarm and blandly conformist at the best of times.

One of the best I've had is actually worth the extra walk although I've yet to have the toss up of accessing better pasta versus freezing body parts off. I'm sure this winter will bring it.

Chicken pesto penne and ravioli bolognese from Piato,
Metcentre Food Court

Perhaps not quite so representative in this picture, the selection of pastas in the bain marie here seem a little more innovative, a bit fresher, and definitely tastier than other takeaway options. Admittedly the pasta was overcooked and the ravioli tended on bland - the filling, I'm not even sure what it was (it was similar in colour to the pasta dough and didn't taste like cheese). The bolognese sauce was infinitely better than others, with minced meat you can actually see and taste, though just a touch underseasoned.

The creamy pesto was much better in comparison, but the naughty things always are, aren't they? This burst with flavour: creaminess, herbiness, sun dried tomato slivers and lots of chicken breast meat too. This carb-fest is much enjoyed, and in the end I'm glad that it's a little further away than other sources despite the cold.

P.S. I know about books and their covers, though I'm not sure if the rule applies to tins and their labels.

Six skinless hot dogs - in a can

For reasons fairly obvious to me, I'm not a hot dog fan - and seeing this, I'm glad. Do you know where your frankfurt comes from? And does it even constitute a hot dog without the bun?

Miraku Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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