Soi 38 Thai Restaurant Melbourne

Soi 38 Soi Yummy

It was an impromptu date in an unassuming restaurant, which I have seen plenty in Singapore but never in Melbourne.

For the lack of pretentiousness alone, I knew it would be a treat to eat at Soi 38. A place I have been wanting to go to since last year, but no-thanks to Covid and whatnot, it only happened this week.

Soi 38 is located inside a Wilson Parking carpark in Melbourne CBD area. I made a booking for 6.15 PM (booking is highly recommended) at 5.45 PM and went to The Paperback bookshop to spend time there while waiting for Fafa who had a gym class.

At 6.30 PM, we have put our order in: Thai BBQ set, Thai iced tea, coconut juice, Som Tum as the entree and my fave mango sticky rice dessert. The BBQ set came with various meat and seafood, noodles, vegetables and a single egg—all to be cooked on the tabletop bbq stove.

To say I was delighted would be an understatement.

The food, dipped in their homemade Thai sauce, was delicious. And the crowd was interesting. That evening, the place was bursting with diversity, from suit-wearing business people to pierced belly flashing student.

I will come back again, bring all my friends and recommend Soi 38 to anyone.

🥘K

First Quarter Moon Aquarius

210121

Happy Aquarius season ♒︎ guys!

I haven’t been writing for a week here, the longest period since I started this blog last year. I am feeling a wee bit of a writer-FOMO, so here are some random observations I noted down in the journal recently —

I use a 400-page black Moleskine to journal. It was a birthday gift from Fafa. At first, I thought it would be my annual journal. But now, only five months in and having used up 3/4 of it, I think I will be getting myself a new journal for my half-birthday in March.

One of the reasons that I haven’t been writing much on the blog is because I am hitting a tarot-reading wall. For some reason, I have been feeling a little less excited about journaling about tarot recently. Not sure whether I am even allowed to say that, but that’s the truth. I have come up with solutions, though. I have started journaling tarot with prompts given by the Moon Void Tarot‘s creator, Stefanie Caponi to honor the Aquarius season (my Moon sign).

I also bought another tarot deck—my first-quarter purchase (hey, I lasted 20 days! Now, I have to go through the next 70-something days without buying another deck). It’s the Fifth Spirit Tarot which sits on top of my 2021 tarot deck list. Yesterday, I saw that Two Sided Tarot has it listed on their website and with only AUD10 shipping, I knew I shouldn’t wait any longer.

One last thing about tarot: I am looking for a tarot deck with continuity or a similar theme throughout the deck. The Moon Void Tarot deck has been the closest I’ve got, but the non-human court-cards broke the singular theme thing that it had going for it.

Even though I haven’t been writing much here, I have been compiling random notes I wrote here and there — paper and digital — into my Day One App. Maybe I can share some of the not-super-boring ones here?

Also, even though I haven’t been writing much, I have been running. I registered for a measly 10km run in October. That gets me going. I am clocking in 3km every run, but with an embarrassing pace to be shared here.

The last best coffee I had was well, not a coffee. We went to Brunswick last weekend to feast on a crab at Miss Katie’s Crab Shack. On the way back, we stopped at one of my favourite coffee shops in Melbourne for some sit-down coffee chai.

This month, I dreamt of Fafa bringing and or showing me a ladybug. Twice. Google told me that it’s a symbol of good luck.

This week, I tried a new Thai dish called Hor Mok for the first time. It’s steamed fish cooked with coconut cream, curry and basil leaf served banana leaf cup. I ordered it because it reminded me of Kerala Meen Pollichathu, but it tasted closer to Cambodian Fish Amok.

Yesterday, I found out that all this while I have been cooking and eating butter that has expired in 2019.

Today, I woke up reminiscing about my Uni time. Jik and I used to sneak into each others class. Even though we majored in different subjects and went to different Universities. And hers was more fun than my boring Accounting lectures.  Then, I realized that taking up CPA is like adopting the worst part of schooling-the studying and exam parts. Ugh!

I realize more and more that I am a creature of routines and rituals. So instead of ignoring it, I should use those things as a foundation of my daily life.

Half-naked yoga brings me joy.

♒︎K

Sake Daruma Gyoza Gyoza

Gyoza Gyoza

I went to Gyoza Gyoza for a dinner and catch-up with Viv last Friday.

Full disclosure: I didn’t even have the courteous to wait for her before starting to put the food order once I sat down in their Melbourne Central branch. In my defense, it has been a crazy workday, and I had to skip lunch hence I was famished. I did apologize to her. Halfway eating my grilled miso rice — with both hands, making a mess of myself — no doubt making her feel second-hand embarrassment, I realized this place might just be my favorite chain restaurant in Melbourne (Hoka Hoka Bento in Jakarta and Sakae Sushi in Singapore).

They have delicious tapas-style Japanese food. From edamame, yakitori, takoyaki to miso soup. And their drinks are delicious. So are the desserts.

I have lots of good memories in Gyoza Gyoza. I have been here with Fafa, I think twice with Jik and at least one time by myself. Clearly, it’s my go-to place for comfort food. Their price range from single-digit but doesn’t mean that they are cheap because you tend to eat a lot here.

New Year Day in Tokyo

Happy New Year from Japan. I woke up at 4.30 AM and started replying to all the new year wishes until I fell asleep again.

Sushi 🍣 was our first meal of 2020. We went to Sushizanmai at the Tsukiji Fish Market for lunch as I was curious to check out the the restaurant chain that bought one single tuna 🐟 for $3m at the New Year’s auction at Toyosu fish market. The sushi was really good 👌🏽 and we only paid a few hundreds Yen per plate 😋.

We then walked to Ginza and later took train to Shinjuku. We stopped at Starbucks for the hot Azuki Beans Latte, I also stopped at Kinokuniya to get some English translated Japanese literature. We then dropped my last film roll to be developed in BIC Camera and stock up on beauty products at the Japanese drug store.

Our last dinner was Tebasaki chicken. We then went to the Loft at Tokyo Solamachi and went back to the hotel to pack. I had some choya and wrote a gratitude list which seemed like a good practice to do as a part of New Year rituals.

A Reset Day in Osaka

After having a low-ball day yesterday, we decided to start our reset day in Osaka with MOS Burger breakfast. I have been a fan of MOS Burger ever since my Singapore days. And I always order the same thing in any MOS Burger, from Gold Coast to Osaka: Yakiniku rice burger. It’s the best!

With our tummy full, we went to Tsutaya Starbucks.

Fafa wanted to drink matcha latte, meanwhile I had a few postcards to be written.

We then went to Grand Front Osaka and hand a very delicious izakaya-style lunch and got pretty drunk with sake. We then went to Kinokuniya in the same building, disappointingly it had no English language books.

Tired, we had a pit stop at Nana Cafe.

On the way back to hotel, we got our white strawberries cake each. After resting for a while, we went to Ichiran Ramen chain in Namba for dinner.

Our last stop for the day was Life Convenient Store to stock up on various Japanese snacks.

White Rice and White Wine

If you were on the death row, what would your last meal be?

I reread the Skyped message that popped on my desktop screen.

It was from Pedro.

If it was anyone else, my reaction would either be “WTF” or “hu?”.

But coming from him, the question was as normal as a “Good morning“.

That’s how he usually greets me every day; with a question, more often than not, with bizarre ones. After all, our friendship is strongly based on life’s morbidness. We celebrate death, worship Kali, discuss heartbreaks, and quiz each other on serial killers trivia.

This is not an easy question to digest first thing in the morning.

I know that my last meal needs to be epic.

The thing is, I have way too many dishes I love so much; from Singaporean chicken rice, Indonesian nasi Padang to Indian dosa.

After wasting a good chunk of the working hour, I typed my answer.

I told him that if I were to face the death penalty (hopefully for doing something semi-heroic) my last meal would be a South Indian crab masala thali meal.

Then, I asked what would his last meal be. He replied almost immediately. Looked like he had put enough thoughts on this beforehand. “Vatapa”.

I remember Vatapa.

Pedro told me about Vatapa in the first week we were introduced. That time, out of sudden, he declared that he was missing his favorite Brazilian food and then proceed to show me this Vatapa picture.

I also remember thinking how it looked like my favorite prawn sambal, a widely loved Indonesian dish originated from the Sumatra region. I told him to bring back something next time he goes back to Brazil.

The last meal question lingers in my mind.

I wonder what would others choose, so I texted Fafa. Thankfully, he, too, is well versed with my cuckoo side, no explanation required.

At first, he said anything that his mom cooks. Well, that’s not how this works my friend! Otherwise, we all would choose our mom’s cooking. I told him his mom wouldn’t want to visit him after he committed such a heinous crime. He then settled with meen pollicithu with Kerala rice thali meal. Yum! I wouldn’t mind sharing his last meal.

Aww, the thought of couple’s last meals, how romantic.

With some more minutes to kill before home time, I pinged Manda, and asked her the same question. After giving a few judgy remarks, she replied with: sashimi for entree, hawker food as the main course, creme brulee for dessert, and a glass of mojito to wash it all off.

Damn, she is fancy! Especially when I thought she would settle for just laksa.

Then again, she had a point, why would I deprive myself of the pleasure of dessert and alcohol, my two life vices (among many), if it’s going to be my last meal?!

I pinged Pedro back to clarify that I would also have mango sticky rice for dessert and a bottle of Moscato as my last meal’s drink.

Loads of white rice and copious amount of wine. Yep. Seemed legit both for epic last meal and as the title of my memoir.

Back from Japan

11 days and 999 pictures later, I am back from Japan!

We touched down in Melbourne yesterday morning and I spent the whole day recuperating from the long and tiring plane rides back home. Between then and now, I have had Nasi Lemak (Singapore Airport), Briyani, spicy Szechuan chicken, a copious amount of lavender tea, a large flat white, a bowl of pho, and pasta puttanesca.

Those things combined with the icy cold weather and back to back meetings at work, I am finally grooving back into the daily routines.

Australian Barbie

I went to my first Australian BBQ party today. It’s at Jik’s Toast Master friend in Sydney.

We were two hours late, but we brought a gorgeous cake. Ian, the host, handed me a large glass of red wine and introduced us to people’s mismatch. His niece, Asian kids without their parents, Japanese, Indians, and Santa Claus, among others.

At first, I felt a little out of place. I almost regretted saying yes to this in the effort of trying new things, but the internal tension melted once I started eating. The meal was cold meat, shish kebab, and what’s left of the salad. It wasn’t what I had in mind about Australian BBQ, but we were late again. We were the only ones who started filling our plates while others were devouring the desserts.

By the second plate, I was already at ease. Making conversation, dashing compliments, and judging people.

Not long after, tea and coffee were served, and the conversations flew. Now, it felt like an Australian BBQ, and I kind of like it, except for talking to one girl who was full of herself. I blocked her voice completely when she said that green eyes people are evil.

After a while, we left our Australian BBQ, together with another Toast Master friend of Jik. He was supposed to show us the way to the coffee shop nearby as we wanted to do some light reading.

I just bought the book titled YOU. It’s a psychological thriller from the stalker’s perspective. I was three pages in and completely hooked. I kept thinking about the book the whole weekend whenever Jik asked what I wanted to do during this trip. Hence the light reading.

But instead of showing us the way, he joined us at the cafe to read his book as well. When he ordered green tea, he earned my respect. Our conversation flew; it grew to be more engaging and fun. It was 4 PM when we left Ian’s Australia BBQ party, and we left the coffee shop at around 7 PM to have Vietnamese dinner right across the road. 

Cold weather made my heart grow fonder of pho, something I actively hated in Singapore. We all ordered the same bowls of pho. It came. I put the whole plate of cut chili into it and started slurping. Thirty minutes later, our pho was done, but not our conversations. We continued the discussion with toxic friends, Facebook, and whatnot.

At 11 PM, we parted ways.

Jik and I walked back home and continue our conversations well past our bedtime. All in all, I would say the Australian BBQ experience was a success.

Steak Night

My work team has started a new tradition in the office. We go for a Steak Night night to the restaurant across the road on Wednesday night.

I don’t remember who started it except that one day, my then manager, LP, invited me to join them on Steak Night. In the beginning, it was every now and then, just the three of us. But it quickly escalated into an event with the whole team, sometimes with other teams, every Wednesday, with beers. Everyone has started to look forward to this. The conversation about Steak Night starts at 9.01 AM on the same day with one or two people come to inform me that they can’t make it while the rest say they will try. Somehow I always manage to convince all the parties, the ones I like, to come.

Me? I don’t need convincing. I always come, I like Steak Night; for obvious reasons, the $20 meat, and the booze and for not so obvious reasons, like how we grow closer together by sharing inappropriate stories and comments among colleagues, managers, and subordinates. Including someone who slammed the door on his sister’s new boyfriend because he was a team ex-boyfriend, someone who drove very slowly on a very narrow road, beside a cliff, in the snow, to get some, and someone else who slept with their manager. Hoyaa. Steak Night is the best!

Update 2018: Now that I am no longer working in the same department nor does any of my old teammates, the Steak Night is practically non-existent. Newman and I have been trying to revive this tradition by committing at least once a month to it, unfortunately, it’s not that easy now that he is no longer working for the company and I work normal hours.