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When we visited Korea Town, I was amazed at how expansive it was and compared to our China Town in Melbourne, which is our largest Asian inner-city district, I loved walking down the streets of this bustling community, but I digress. My sister and her partner recommended we try this place out, and it seemed to be a local favourite. What Buk Chang Dong is known for is their Korean Tofu stews, served with a complimentary assortment of Korean pickled dishes and what seems like an unlimited supply of this Korean mixed grain rice that has this purple tinge to go with the stews.

While Buk Chang Dong primarily serves stews (soups), they also offer Stone Pot Bibimbap, Bukbegi Bulgogi and Broiled BBQ (Beef) among their wide selection of stews such as Beef, Seafood, and Kimchi stews. Not only this but you can select your preferred spiciness from the weakest “white” to the the extra spicy. I’ve always liked a spicy meter for restaurants just suited for your own liking.

We ordered the Broiled BBQ (Beef) which they certainly know how to do it well, steaming hot and marinated well. How a sizzling hot plate should be.

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Their sides also come with eggs to crack into your soup once it arrives, this is so the eggs aren’t already cooked once they arrive on your table because the soups are definitely hot to the touch.

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The Seafood Soon Tofu + Dolsotbab which contains oysters, prawns and mussels and pretty much all their soup dishes are absolutely delicious. Spicy, rich in flavour from the ingredients used to the stock all add to the depth of flavours and having this with the “purple rice” is just the best thing on a cold day.

Impressions

Buk Chang Dong excel in their stews and it’s evident why this place is a favourite amongst the locals. Why, I’d even make a special trip to Korea Town if I was in Toronto just to have another meal. If only I could find a place that does it so well in Melbourne.

Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu on Urbanspoon

Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu
691 Bloor St W
Toronto ON M6G

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I was thinking of something new to bake one day and I trawled through pages and pages of different cupcake ideas and recipes until eventually I found a recipe with Oreos in it. However, that particular one used a chocolate cake base which I preferred not to as I wanted to avoid a chocolate overload. So onwards I searched for the perfect Oreo cupcake recipe with icing and subsequently I found a recipe from Cook With Manali which looked absolutely beautiful that I had to give it a try. Spoiler alert: This were seriously addictive.

Oreo Cupcakes with Cookies & Cream Frosting (Cook With Manali Recipe)
Makes: 16-18 cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups Oreos (broken into small pieces) + 16-18 Oreo halves
2 eggs, at room temperature

Cookies & Cream Frosting
115g cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3- 3 1/2 cups icing sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp heavy cream or milk
1 cup Oreo crumbs (crushed in a blender & then strained)

Mini oreos for decorating the cupcakes

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Method

Oreo Cupcakes
1. Line a muffin pan with cupcakes liners, set aside. Preheat the oven to 175 C/ 350 F degrees (Depends on your oven as I have mine at 150 C for most baking)

2. In a bowl sift together all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

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3. In the steel bowl of your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or using hand mixer, beat the eggs and both the sugars together till creamy & pale in colour, around 3-4 minutes.
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4. Add oil, vanilla and mix until combined.

5. Start adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in batches. Add the flour first, combine then add the buttermilk. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts and buttermilk in 2 parts, starting and ending with flour.

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6. Mix the batter till everything is well combined but do not over mix.

7. Fold in the broken Oreo pieces, stir and combine.

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8. Place an Oreo on the bottom of each cupcake liner or twist the Oreo and put one cookie at the bottom of the pan with cream side up.
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9. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes on until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine were done in 16 minutes at 150C)
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10. Cool the cupcakes on wire rack before frosting them.
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Cookies & Cream Frosting

1. Crush Oreos in a blender/food processor to get Oreo crumbs. Strain or sieve if needed to get rid of any bigger chunks.

2. Using your mixer, beat butter and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy.

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3. With mixture at low speed, add 1 cup of icing sugar. Mix until it’s incorporated with the butter and cream cheese and them beat it at high speed for 30 seconds. Add the remaining sugar and mix.
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4. Add vanilla and cream/milk and mix.

5. Add Oreo crumbs and beat till frosting is smooth and creamy.
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6. Frost the cupcakes and decorate with mini oreos.

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Notes

  • These are vanilla Oreo cupcakes, you can make chocolate Oreo cupcakes using cocoa powder in the batter.
  • Adjust the consistency of the frosting according to your preference. Add more cream for a spreading consistency, more sugar for thicker consistency to pipe flowers etc.
  • You can use milk in the frosting but cream adds a wonderful rich flavour so if possible please use heavy cream.
  • Do not over-bake your cupcakes. Keep an eye on them after 15 minutes.

Impressions

I made this for my Buddhist community celebration earlier this year and the feedback was very positive! One thing to note though was that I prepared the frosting earlier in the day and then popped it in the fridge, and I forgot to take it out again to leave it at room temperature and as you can see the frosting I made initially does not look like the end result! I over whisked the frosting and consequently the frosting turned from what was a beautiful cookies and cream frosting where you can see the white cream and chocolate cookie crumbs to a completely chocolate frosting, so please be cautious of this when making the frosting.

Other than that, I do suggest reducing the sugar, I reduced it by a third from the original recipe and I found it a bit too sweet still because the Oreos are already ridiculously sweet as you have the base as Oreos plus the Oreo pieces in each cupcake. I haven’t tried just using 1/4 brown sugar but next time I’ll give it a go and update.

What I love about these cupcakes was the broken Oreos in the cake for some bite and also the half Oreos for the base that give it a cheesecake-like crumb base. Plus, the vanilla cupcakes itself are so moist and light. The use of oil instead of butter really makes such a difference!

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Sometimes Melbourne surprises you with its restaurants, and you can find real gems in many places around town. Som Tam is a Thai restaurant located in Thornbury, and is one of the latest Thai restaurants to hit Melbourne. Having opened earlier this year, Som Tam serves authentic Thai cuisine and what’s appealing about Som Tam is that the dishes on the menu are meant for sharing and in many ways this is a great thing, especially so as you can taste a wider range of dishes on offer. You can check out their menu here.

What I liked about Som Tam, is that it isn’t afraid to serve something different. The Thai restaurants I’ve frequented tend to serve the more commonly known dishes to Melburnians, but here it not only serves these but adds something a bit different to make it their own.

Please note this is a sponsored post

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We dined here on a Saturday evening, and every diner receives a complimentary Thai salad.  The salad is refreshing and light, with the slight sourness of the dressing and the crunchiness of the julienne vegetables. It’s quite a nice way to start your evenings meal.

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Satays are such a joyous thing to have as a starter. The Moo Satay here uses marinated collar pork so there is a bit of a bite to it, and served with a generous amount of their Thai peanut sauce. There is a richness to the sauce which probably comes from the use of coconut cream, and the subtlety of the turmeric and lemongrass just gives it a well rounded flavour. The nuttiness of the sauce isn’t too overpowering but it definitely goes well with the tender pork.

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The Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup here is in contrast to what you may typically find in other restaurants. The broth is clear isn’t your typical Tom Yum, with its clear broth but what it does retain is its spiciness. There’s also something with the combination of ingredients that I couldn’t quite work out why its different in taste but there is a slight tartness instead of the usual sweet, sour and spicy which we placed it down on the more generous use of fish sauce but I’m not certain. It may be a surprise for some, especially on taste but there is a particular cleansing nature to the soup that some may like.

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Som Tam’s Jasberry Rice is what I liken to a combination of Jasmine rice with the Black Sticky rice, which reveals itself in this purplish hue. It’s an interesting type of rice and the slight bite of some of the rice grains makes it interesting, maybe similar to having Jasmine rice with brown rice actually.

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The Red Curry Roast Duck was probably my favourite dish of the night. According to the menu, they use an in-house five spice mix for the duck and it’s served in a red curry with longan and fresh berries. There is indeed a certain sweetness to the curry, but the combination of the spiciness and creaminess of the curry along with the spices used makes for an amazing curry. The tender duck really just adds to the depth of flavour and I could really have that red curry all to myself.

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The Pad Ke Mao here is another winner, what makes this fantastic is how we call it the “wok flavour” where its this high flame from the stove that somehow creates this amazing flavour that you can’t get in your standard stove at home. For those that haven’t come across this dish before, it’s a flat rice noodles with basil and chilli and the essential Thai ingredients that brings it all together. It isn’t too spicy though if you’re asking, but just enough as a little kicker.

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Roti’s are the crepes of South East Asia, you can have it savoury with a simple curry or add only with butter or Kaya (coconut spread) even. If you wanted it as a dessert, ice cream and fruits are commonly used. Som Tam’s Roti adds bananas with a Palm sugar syrup and whipped cream inside the roti. The roti is soft inside yet crispy and it goes exceptionally well with the bananas and syrup. You can also request to add a scoop of ice cream which I feel would be perfect together.

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Their Black Sticky Rice with Coconut ice cream is another delicious dessert on their menu. The Black sticky rice here is different to the one served above, as they tend to add coconut milk (or cream) and sugar to make this dessert and a variation of this is also found in Malaysian cuisine. It’s served warm and as the black sticky rice retains some of its harder shell, it gives it a nice bite. Having this with a ice cream is definitely the way to go. The ice cream here isn’t as smooth or creamy as I would have liked but the coconut flavour is pleasant and it doesn’t taste artificial which is always a good thing.

Impressions
Som Tam really makes a name for itself here with its aromatic, and tasty Thai dishes. I had a hard time even choosing what to order because there were dishes that looked interesting such as their Green Curry Fried Rice or the Son In Law starter. The appeal of it all here is that the food is still authentically Thai and yet something distinctively modern and fresh about it.

I’d also like to add the service here was fantastic, they were attentive and friendly and made you feel at ease. So overall, it was a wonderful night out, great good with great people to enjoy it with.

Som Tam 
750 High Street
Thornbury VIC 3071

T: 03 9480 5276
E: eat@somtam.com.au

Opening Hours
Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Friday: 11:30am till 3:00pm/5:30pm till 10:00pm
Saturday: 5:30pm till 10:00pm
Sunday: 5:30pm till 10:00pm

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