Friday, 30 January 2015

REVIEW: Wagaya

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
Up the stairs to Japanese food pleasuretown!
I remember when Wagaya first opened in Chinatown in the valley, about 4 years ago now, I must have visited about 5 or 6 times. I love Japanese food and Wagaya had me tickled pink with their touch screen ordering system. Since then though, I haven't been back for a year or two so it was high time I revisited.
Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
The booths give a great feel of your own private dining space

Initially, I was going to bring Mr Cakes with me as Wagaya is all dark and fairly private, I thought we could have a little date but on further consideration, I uninvited him and bought my other favourite man with me instead. Don't worry, he was cool with it.

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
Tree in the restaurant like it's no big deal

As I said, Wagaya is dark and atmospheric with little booths that could hold up to 6 with private dining spaces at the back for larger groups, which are so cool with their sunken tables and authentic Japanese zataku low tables. They also have really fun karaoke rooms! Wagaya is private enough for a nice date but it's also lively enough for a group of friends to visit before a gig out in the valley. And it's BYO wine, so that's another awesome point.

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
The touch screens! So fun! So dangerous...

My friend had never been to Wagaya before so I was really excited for him to use the touch screens, they're so much fun to use but you do need to be careful as you can accidentally order a lot of food. It's so much fun to press those buttons!

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
The crunchy chicken cutlet roll. Man...I could eat those crispy bits by the bowlful.

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
Styled myself up a little plate. #Foodstylist

We started off with my favourite sushi roll, the Chicken Cutlet Crunch roll, which was $10 for 6 pieces. You can choose 3 or 6 pieces for all of the sushi rolls, we went with 6 cos we're awesome. I adore the chicken crunch roll, it is so delicious with a nice crumbed chicken cutlet and avocado, topped with deep fried panko breadcrumbs on top. We both really loved it.

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
Salty soybeans sitting in a saucer. Check those alliteration skillz.

Next up we ordered the classic Edamame ($5.80). The portion size was really good and kept us going through our entire visit. The first few on top weren't that salty, and for a salt fiend like me, that matters but I found the salty goodness a few beans in.

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
STAHP! You're killing me! Look at that crispiness!

I'm a sucker for karaage, which is deep fried bits of chicken thigh. The Spicy Chicken Karaage ($8.80) is a karaage lovers must. It came out and my eyes got wide. It was crispy and had a sweetness to it that is just so my kind of thing. Some people may find it a little fatty, but I actually love a bit of fat. I'll eat the fat right off your steak. So for me, this was heaven. Like...really good. I could go some now...

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
My friend, my confidant, my lover, my wings.

It will not come as a surprise to you then that my all time favourite dish from Wagaya is the Spicy Fried Chicken Wings ($7.10). I have not visited here once and not gotten these wings. They're crispy and juicy and delicious. I can't detect any heat in them though, but I eat my chilli very hot so I might be a bit immune. Either way, if you're a wing lover, get them. If you're not, get them. They'll convert you.

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
Oh little red things, what are you?

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
Food styling. #shouldhavegotacleanplate

Then we ordered the Tuna Avocado Roll, $12.50 for 6 pieces. This roll was so good, the tuna inside was just seared on the outside so it was nice, raw and plump on the inside. It was so fresh and good, that it might just knock my beloved crispy chicken wings off the No. 1 dish perch. I really liked the spring rolls on top too, they paired well with the tuna. There were some red things on top, which looked like saffron but couldn't have possibly been at that price so if you know what they are, please tell me. We were curious as what they were.
Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
Go away, duck. Stop ruining the good food run. Oh I see you in the corner there, wing. Don't think I'm not coming back for you.

Things were getting to the pointy end now...or the fat belly end, as we both were pretty full. But we soldiered on because as I said before, we're awesome. And we did it for you. We both love duck so we decided to try the Seared Roast Duck ($10.50). Unfortunately, we found the chink in Wagayas amazing food armour that we weren't looking for. Given the name, we thought it would be a hot dish and in fact, I think we found it in the Grilled Dishes section of the menu but what came out was cold duck with a lot of ginger on it. Neither of us was a fan. Would give it a miss next time.

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
The desserts. Alright.

We rounded off the night with two desserts, the Green Tea Cheesecake with Green Tea Ice Cream and Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream, both $7.50 each. The chocolate cake was okay, it wasn't amazing. It would have benefitted from being served hot, I think but as it was, it was still okay. I thought the green tea cheesecake was the better of the two desserts but it still didn't blow me away. It wasn't very cheesecakey , it reminded us both of a shortbread biscuit. I liked it, but maybe they should call it something else - Green Tea Shortbread Cheesecake Kinda Thing.

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
The smoky hot grill.

We were both really impressed with how quickly food came out and the service we received. The wait staff were friendly and efficient. It makes it the perfect venue for a quick lunch or before a show as everything comes out quickly and as it's ready.

Cassie Cakes Review of Wagaya
Hey tree.

Overall, we had a fabulous time at Wagaya. I'd recommend sticking to their strengths, which was almost everything. I would recommend skipping dessert and just getting more delicious sushi or chicken wings. It's a really fun place and I'm glad I had the chance to revisit, I won't be leaving it too long til next time!

Disclaimer: Cassie Cakes was an invited guest of Wagaya. Opinions are my own and the above review is an honest account of my experience.

Izakaya WAGAYA Brisbane on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Pear, Raspberry and Coconut Bread

A moist and summery fruit loaf with pear, raspberry and lots of coconut topped with a crunchy, sweet crust.
Pear, Raspberry and Coconut loaf Cassie Cakes

Now what is it exactly that makes this bread a bread? Really, it's more like cake but you can eat for breakfast without raising too many eyebrows. That being said, I'll eat a piece for chocolate cake for breakfast any day. But for those with slightly stricter guidelines, this bread presents you with an excuse to eat cake any time of the day. If you need one. Which I don't. 
Pear, Raspberry and Coconut Loaf Cassie Cakes
When will Mr. Cakes paint that window trim? Maybe never.

Pear and raspberries are a much underappreciated pairing, if you ask me. The crispiness of pear goes well with the tart sweetness of the raspberry and they look really pretty together. Then imagine if you invited coconut along to that party. Things are heating up. Pear, raspberry and coconut get on so well, they must be French. The French are cool with that sort of thing.
Pear, Raspberry and Coconut Loaf Cassie Cakes
Note the action shot up there? Pretty tricky.

This is a nice, easy recipe and besides being a little longer to cook in the oven, it's pretty quick too. The main thing that differentiates this bread from a cake is the method of adding the wet ingredients to the dry in one go. Sift the flour with the raising agent, then stir in the sugars and coconut. Follow that with the wet then the fruit, and you're done. So easy.

Pear, Raspberry and Coconut Loaf Cassie Cakes
All ready for the oven!

Something I find these kind of sweet breads can be too dry. It's for this reason that I like to put two types of fat into them. The melted butter gives the richness and flavours while a neutral flavoured oil like a plain vegetable oil ensure the bread is moist during the long baking time.
Pear, Raspberry and Coconut Loaf Cassie Cakes
Love it when cracked and imperfect is a good thing! Extra crunchy bits.
I also like to use two types of sugar. I like caster sugar for the sweetness and texture that it gives while the brown sugar gives the depth of flavour and richness. You can just as easily use one type if you run out of either or can't be bothered to get both containers out of the cupboard. The struggle is real.
Pear, Raspberry and Coconut Loaf Cassie Cakes
Butter makes it better.
There is something so inherently pleasant about baking in a loaf tin. And the more battered up they are, the better. Turning out a loaf of cake is simply one of life's little pleasures. 
Pear, Raspberry and Coconut Loaf Cassie Cakes
Bread by the morning light.
I also like to sprinkle the top of the loaf with a generous amount of coconut and caster sugar for an extra crunchy top.
Pear, Raspberry and Coconut Loaf Cassie Cakes
Pear, raspberry and coconut bread goodness.

This recipe is really easy to whip up too, and it freezes really well. It's a good thing to bake on a sunny Sunday afternoon, eat half of it, warm and slathered with butter then regret it since your diets been going so well, then freeze the rest to make it harder to eat. But then microwave it and eat the rest. Not that that's what happened to me.

Pear, Raspberry and Coconut Loaf Cassie Cakes
So good.
Serve this loaf in thick slices with plenty of butter and a sprinkling of icing sugar, if you so wish.
Pear, Raspberry and Coconut Bread

Prep time: 20 mins

Cooking time: 1 hour 10 mins
Total time:  1 hour 30 mins
Servings: 12 slices
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk
2 1/2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
4 tablespoons melted butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large pears, cored and chopped
150g raspberries - either fresh or frozen

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Whisk eggs, milk and vanilla and set aside.
  3. Sift together flour and baking powder in a large bowl then add both sugars and coconut and mix well.
  4. Make a well in the centre and add the egg mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the butter and oil, fold 3 - 4 times then add the pear and raspberries and fold gently til just combined.
  6. Add to loaf tin and smooth with the back of wooden spoon.
  7. Top with additional flour and a generous sprinkle of caster sugar.
  8. Bake for 1 hour and 10 mins.
  9. Allow to cool slightly.
  10. Serve warm with a generous amount of butter and a sprinkle of icing sugar, if desired.

Friday, 16 January 2015

REVIEW: Brown Dog Cafe

Brown Dog Cafe Review Cassie Cakes
You go get that salted caramel milkshake, Max.
When plans to exercise fall through, it is always best to console yourself with a delicious breakfast. The mid-morning breakfast club, formally known as the early morning yoga club, met at Brown Dog Café in Woolloongabba. Brown Dog Café had been on my list for a little while as I had heard it was a dog friendly place and planned to bring Puppy Cakes, once the weather was cool. But I was happy to go their for a preview.
Brown Dog Cafe Review Cassie Cakes
Nice selection of baked goods.
Brown Dog Café sits on a sun drenched corner, just outside the main café drag of the Logan Road cul-de-sac. It's popular with bicyclers, who come resplendent in their too tight lycra, sharing more about their downstairs mix-ups than I care to see. But don't let that put you off, it's easy to escape the bait shop inside.

Brown Dog Cafe Review Cassie Cakes
Stay cool, indeed. I see you up there, Bud.
Inside is small and very warm, a fact which I'm sure the staff would agree with but stick with me here cos Brown Dog is about to blow my mind. The menu is small as is the kitchen but it's better to do a few things well than a lot of things sucky. Also there are a selection of sandwiches and slices in the cabinet. For drinks, we ordered a Pineapple and Mint Frappe ($7.50) and a Salted Caramel Milkshake ($7.50).
Brown Dog Cafe Review Cassie Cakes
Max! Leave that dog alone!
The pineapple and mint frappe with tangy and fresh, perfect for a warm morning cool down. But here's where things get interesting. Remember 5 sentences ago when I said Brown Dog Café was about to blow my mind? Well here's what they, specifically the milkshake master named Jay, did...
Brown Dog Cafe Review Cassie Cakes

He made me...

Brown Dog Cafe Review Cassie Cakes
See all that ice cream, visible and delicious? Take note, milkshake makers!
...the BEST milkshake EVER. Since starting this blog, I have ordered a milkshake wherever I can and you know, they're always pretty good, cos milk and ice cream is pretty good but Brown Dog Café took it to the next level. Thick? Tick! Ice cream-y? Tick! Sweet but not cloying? Tick! Flavourful? Tick! The best milkshake this side of Pashen Street? Ti-freaking-ck! In fact, I have decided to start a ranking of the best milkshakes I've had and Brown Dog is going right on top. Check out my ranking here.
Brown Dog Cafe Review Cassie Cakes
The Dogs Breakfast...lucky dog.
From there my hopes were pretty high for the meals. First up, we ordered the Dog's Breakfast ($13)which comes with haloumi, avocado, lemon, spinach, tomato and toast, but my dining companion swapped out the toast and tomato for ham instead. The modified meal looked incredibly appealing and would make any haloumi lover happy. There was a good amount of avocado. Personally, I would have wanted some toast but no carbs before marbs and all that. The diner did say it was a little salty but given the combo of both ham and haloumi, she accepted that might be expected. Am I rhyming?
Brown Dog Cafe Review Cassie Cakes
Scrambled eggs. Dang that buttery toast looks good.
Next up was the Free Range Scrambled Eggs on Toast ($9) which did exactly what it said on the box. The eggs were fluffy and the toast was toast! This was a straight up, simple dish and for $9, I think it looked pretty good. When pushed, the consumer said she thought it would have been nice to have some "green stuff" on the plate but we all agreed that it didn't say that on the menu so there wasn't anything to complain about.
Brown Dog Cafe Review Cassie Cakes
Yummy avo on toast!
I ordered the Avocado and Lemon on Turkish Toast for $9. Again, it was straight forward and simple. And delicious! I would like to know where they got their avocados from as the were so creamy and unblemished by any dark spots. The toast was nice, crisp and buttery. It was a nice size too and I was very satisfied.

Brown Dog Cafe Review Cassie Cakes
Will you look at that sky! Gorgeous, Brisbane!
For the quality, simple fare, I'm a big fan of Brown Dog Café. The endearing Jay and his milkshake prowess are reason enough to visit. Puppy Cakes and I will have to come and visit together soon!

Food: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Atmosphere: 3/5

Brown Dog Café on Urbanspoon

Friday, 9 January 2015

REVIEW: Thai Wi Rat

Cassie Cakes Review Thai Wi Rat Brisbane Blog
Surely a name ripe for puns?

I have to be up front here and declare my bias when reviewing this restaurant. I've been coming here for years. When I lived in The Valley, we'd have Sunday drinking sessions round the corner at The RG and end up at Thai Wi Rat for a pad thai and a bottle of wine or two. They're BYO too, which is awesome. So I have a long relationship with this place.
Cassie Cakes Review Thai Wi Rat Brisbane Blog
Good old Chinatown. Good old The Valley. I love you, Fortitude Valley.

I visited with a couple of girlfriends on Wednesday night to this perennially popular restaurant without reservations and found a table quickly. This is not the usual scenario during the weekend and I would recommend a reservation if you're visiting on a Friday or Saturday night.

Cassie Cakes Review Thai Wi Rat Brisbane Blog
Making use of space.

We ordered at the counter and sat near the water feature to people watch while we waited for our food. The tables and chairs at Thai Wi Rat fit the rest of the décor - cheap and functional. Don't be scared off by the look of Thai Wi Rat, inside is worn, a little tacky and they use whatever storage space they can find but this isn't fine dining. It's budget at it's best.

Cassie Cakes Review Thai Wi Rat Brisbane Blog
There are blue lights everywhere so the food looks a little better than it does in these photos...
The food arrived quickly, coming out as it was ready. For entrée we shared Chicken Satay skewers ($7.90), Coconut Prawns ($8.90) and Vegetable Spring Rolls ($5.90). The chicken satay skewers had plenty of satay sauce on them and were made of good quality breast meat. The were also nicely charred and generous in size.

Cassie Cakes Review Thai Wi Rat Brisbane Blog
A little too uniform to be freshly made.

The coconut prawns were fairly typical of what you'd get in any lower end restaurant. I suspect they could be the ready-made frozen variety. But hey, they're real prawns and you get four of them for under $10. They're not my favourite thing on the entrée list but that's not to say I won't ever order them again.

Cassie Cakes Review Thai Wi Rat Brisbane Blog
Get in mah belleh!

One of my favourite things on the entrée list is the vegetable spring rolls! I love these spring rolls, they're full of veggies and always a reliable go to. They come out piping hot so beware when you bite in! I always order the vegetable spring rolls without fail.

Cassie Cakes Review Thai Wi Rat Brisbane Blog
Oh Thai Green Curry, why don't you want to look pretty for my camera?

For mains, my friends choose to split the Thai restaurant classic - the Thai Green Chicken Curry for $10.90. The curry had a good heat and a decent amount of chicken in it. The flavour was good, but it didn't exactly knock anyone socks off. Which is good cos none of us were wearing socks and that would have been awkward if it had tried.

Cassie Cakes Review Thai Wi Rat Brisbane Blog
Hot and sour soup, who would have thought that combination would be so yum? Tom yum, to be precise.

I ordered the Tom Yum soup with seafood for $8.90. The serving was massive and very fragrant with lots of calamari and scallops  but only two or so prawns. But what can you reasonably expect at that price. The soup was definitely hot and sour, just like a good tom yum should be.

Cassie Cakes Review Thai Wi Rat Brisbane Blog
Tried to get an artistic shot of the lanterns. Could be worse?
Thai Wi Rat is not going to get any Michelin stars or Chef Hats in this lifetime or next. Don't come here expecting fine dining or even matching chairs. But some of my best meals have been had here, with lots of laughs, drinks and a full belly. It's cheap, it's BYO and it's decent food with some great flavours. Did I mention it's cheap?

Food: 4/5
Service: 3/5

Price: 4/5
Atmosphere: 3/5

Thai Wi-Rat on Urbanspoon

Friday, 2 January 2015

REVIEW: Felix Espresso & Winebar

Cassie Cakes Review Felix Brisbane Blog Food
This way for goodness!
Anyone who doesn't think Brisbane is cool ought to pay a little visit to Burnett Lane. Tucked into a little nook and up a narrow staircase is the very cool Felix Espresso & Winebar. I met with some girlfriends a few weeks ago for a before work breakfast. Walking in, I was surprised at how small Felix is, with only room for around 15 people. However Felix uses the space it does have well, with a split level dining area, seating on the lower level and espresso machine and kitchen up top. There is also a wonderful mural of the sky on one wall which is lovely to gaze at while you sup.

Brisbane Food Blog Cassie Cakes Review Felix Brisbane
Head in the clouds.
With such a small space, the menu is quite small but Felix focuses on organic and whole foods with some raw items appearing on the menu too. So it's very much about quality over quantity. Even though the menu is limited with less than a dozen items on the menu for both breakfast and lunch, there are a selection baked goods as well as a few extra items on the specials board.

Brisbane Food Blog Cassie Cakes Review Felix Brisbane
Yeah, I'm not sure about you Green taste good but you look strange.
For drinks we ordered two juices, a fresh squeezed orange juice and a green juice with kale, mango and orange, both $8. The orange juice was tart and delicious. I've never been brave enough for green juices, I just can't get over the look of it but I did try a little of this one and it was very nice. I may be brave and take the plunge soon. A coffee was $4 for a large cup and was reportedly very, very good. Another was ordered after the first.

Brisbane Food blog Cassie Cakes Review Felix Brisbane
Oh lordy. Will you look at this? This is the milk hot chocolate.

Brisbane Food Blog Cassie Cakes Review Felix Brisbane
This is the dark chocolate version.
The hot chocolate at Felix is something to rave about. I had a juice but after tasting some of one of the hot chocolates, I couldn't help but order one for myself! They come in both dark and milk chocolate at $4, which is pretty awesome. They are smooth, they are velvety and just...uh. So good. Felix is now where we get our hot chocolates all the time! If you go, I can't impress highly enough the importance of getting one of these.
Brisbane Food Blog
The healthy choice, chia and fruit.
The food followed quickly after the drinks with the Cup of Chia Topped with Raw Coconut Cashew Cream and Fruit ($6) sticking closely to the healthy theme. It serve was pretty generous for the price and the coconut cashew cream was delicious. The fruit was fresh with a good mix of berries and apple. It all went well together and tasted like springtime on a spoon.

Brisbane Food Blog Cassie Cakes Review Felix Brisbane
That's French mustard, I'll have you know.
The toasted sandwich de jour was Ham with Gruyere Cheese Served with Mustard and Pickles for $10. It looked a little lonely on the large plate but was stuffed full of both ham and cheese. As someone who has scored the city looking for a simple toasty, it was good to see it on the menu. The diner was happy with her choice as well.

Brisbane Food Blog
That's a lotta avocado.
I am always partial to a good avocado on toast for breakfast and the Avocado on Olive Toast with Lemon ($6) was hard to pass up. It too was dwarfed by the size of the plate and I almost grumbled about there being only one piece but when I remembered it was only $6, there really wasn't much to complain about given the prices for most inner city breakfasts. The avocado was fresh and the bread was good.
Brisbane Food Blog Cassie Cakes Review Felix Brisbane
If it comes in a little pan, you know it's a good sign.
The ordering game was won by the lucky recipient of the Shakshuka and Eggs with Sourdough ($11). I just love it when things come out in little cast-iron pans. I'm so glad that it's a popular way to serve food. This particular dish came out all hot and full of spices with an egg on top. I was most jealous.

Brisbane Food Blog Cassie Cakes Review Felix Brisbane
The coloured glass cast a lovely glow throughout the restaurant.
Overall Felix was a win, a cute café that's tight on space but big on heart. As I said, I've been back many times to get more of their delicious hot chocolates and would also like to give their salad range a try. It's a great spot to catch up with friends before work.

Food: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Atmosphere: 4/5

Felix Espresso and WineBar on Urbanspoon

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