Darwin Blog

Hong Tai
Saturday, 28 July, 2007, 12:07 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin, Dining

Last night we went to an old faithful, the Hong Tai for dinner.  Located in Aralia Street in Nightcliff, this restaurant is pretty daggy, but the food is outstanding.  They have one waitress that manages the floor and considering how busy it was last night (booked out and it is only a small restaurant) she did a good job.

The Hong Tai serves both Chinese and Thai food and is BYO.  Last night we had vintage Moet (2000) and Piper Hiedsieck as our drinks of choice and they complemented the food perfectly.  We are such regulars, that the waitress does not mind us getting our own drinks and letting her know what we had.  In fact, sometimes when it is busy we seem to serve ourselves.  That is the type of place it is – very casual.

On that note, there is no need to dress up.  Casual dress is the way to go.

Between the seven of us we ate garlic squid, sweet and sour pork, crispy fried chicken, Mongolian lamb, tofu with Chinese vegetables, duck with brown mushrooms, beancurd combination soup, tom yum soup and four serves of mixed entrees.  Let’s not forget the special fried rice and the prawn crackers.

All up, the meal cost $50 per couple and was extremely good value.  The taste was superb and as usual we gorged ourselves.  We left the restaurant very full, content and not to mention a little merry.


Peter’s of Kensington
Tuesday, 24 July, 2007, 8:15 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Sydney, Observations

If you are into homewares, especially anything for the kitchen, I strongly recommend that you log onto the following website:  http://www.petersofkensington.com.au/Home/

I love this website.  They have so much good stuff and heaps cheaper than you would find in any department or speciality store – even when they have the items on sale.  Postage is cheap too.

Yesterday, my latest order from Peter’s arrived and it was an enormous box filled with goodies – postage cost – $15 – how good is that.

And what did I get – some new Scanpans (can’t buy them from anywhere else cheaper), new Italian glassware (three sets), a new set of Mundial knives complete with knife block, a new teapot (ceramic from Japan) and a cool Faber Castell whiteboard/blackboard.

Peter’s stock all the best brands and everything is reduced.  Brands include Alessi, Scanpan, Royal Dulton, Antler, KitchenAid, Villeroy & Boch, Waterford Crystal, Primo, Nigella Lawson and the list goes on.

I love how they have the Wish List.  On the web site, whilst you are browsing, you can create a wish list of items you may wish to buy at a later date.  In addition, the wish list lets you know when anything goes out of stock.  My wish list is quite long, as there are always things on there that I think that I just need to have. Like the cup cake holder/ carrier!

I have also bought suitcases for travelling, which are of excellent quality and the three packages were delivered home, still for the same postage price of $15.  Peter’s also have a gift wrapping service if you want to purchase gifts, but are time poor to wrap.

I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.  You can even sign up for the weekly newsletter of specials that can be delivered to your in box each Thursday morning – what a perfect way to start the day .

The Last Day of the Mid Year School Holidays
Tuesday, 24 July, 2007, 4:39 am
Filed under: Observations

Today is the last day of the mid-year school holidays here in the Northern Territory.  Our child has spent four weeks at home in our company and really, it hasn’t been all that bad!

I am home today with husband and child, just pottering around and being a family.  My son is enjoying playing a number of play acting games, my husband is also blogging and playing around with the computer and I am, after this blog, hanging out some washing, doing some tidying up and I think I will finally set up my home office, so the laptop does not live on the dining table any more.

Whilst we are not doing anything in particular or special, there is some comfort in us just being home and hanging together, I guess it is the comfort of knowing that each of us are around but not in each others face.

Today also marks that it is eight weeks until we fly out of Darwin on our long vacation break for the year.  We will be tripping around south-east Asia and I can’t wait to enjoy the food, different culture and the shopping.  What holiday is complete without shopping?  I will have some more exciting places to recommend upon our return.

Until then, I still have many more in my archives for just Darwin and I have some more that cover off Bali and Sydney and perhaps some other places.

So today will be uncomplicated and relaxed as our child builds his own momentum for returning to school.  I think he will be glad for some company in his own age group.

The Morning After…
Sunday, 22 July, 2007, 5:35 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin

Last night we had a party to celebrate my husband’s birthday – that in itself is another story.

After many Pommerys, Salingers, cowboys and the odd Bombay Sapphire and Agrum, one passed out.  Woke up this morning absolutely fine, but craving a hit of sugar.

Had a cup of coffee, didn’t do the trick.  Downed an icy cold can of Coke, sort of worked.  Considering I gave up Coke and Dit Coke over a year ago, I surprised myself by drinking the whole can.  No fear of becoming addicted to the black drink again.

What did the trick was a roast pork and gravy sandwich from Mic Shelley’s Cafe in Nightcliff Shopping Centre.  I swear, they do the best roast sandwiches in town.

The bread is white and ultra soft and yes, they use butter and they are extremely generous with the meat and gravy.  To date we have never experienced dry over-cooked roast meat in our sandwiches.  Somehow it is always perfect.  We also shared a hot chips and gravy.  I had some juice, trying to do the right thing by my body, but what I really wanted was a creaming soda.  I am sipping on one as I type.

Monday, 16 July, 2007, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin


After many years of using the same hairdresser, I was forced due to illness to find someone new.

I am vain about my hair.  It is short, I do not use product and I do not own a hair dryer.  Basically, if it is cut well, I should be able to wash and wear.  Therefore, moving to a new hairdresser did not come without its reservations.

I have known and watched the rise and rise of Teresa, who is the owner of Kabuki and she is one impressive, confident young lady.  She has her head screwed on.  She also cuts a number of my girlfriend’s hair and they look very smart and chic.  The cuts themselves are works of art for the precision.

So I guess deciding where to go was simple, but getting used to someone new may be a little of a struggle.  Why? I am a reasonably private person so talking about myself and what I plan to do on the weekend is quite out there for me, in a public domain like a hair salon.

I was impressed that Teresa was running to schedule and not only did she cut my hair, she also washed it herself instead of having a limp wristed apprentice do it.  She washes hair really well and gives the scalpt a great work out and massage.  She cut my hair so well, that it is a wash and wear cut.  I have had many comments about my hair and how good it looks – the same happened with my previous hairdresser, who is one of the best cutters I have ever known.

The best thing was that I was in and out within the hour – how could you ask for anything better than that and I was able to get an appointment in advance at the time and day I choose.

By the way, the salon is quite funky and has one of my favourite designers featured, Florence Broadhurst.  The salon is bright, with huge windows that bring the outside in and the way the chairs are set up provide excellent people watching opportunities.

Moorish Cafe
Monday, 16 July, 2007, 12:32 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin, Dining, Observations


On Thursday night, three friends from Cairns arrived in Darwin for 24 hours.

As part of the Darwin experience and they being foodies, I arranged for us to have lunch at Moorish.  I also arranged for three Darwin girls to join us.

Five of the group ordered the lunch time special, which was your choice of three tapas and a glass of sangria.  The girls ordered a variety of dishes including pork ribs, African meatballs, calamari, prawns, chorizo, duck sausage, scallops, haloumi and oysters.  I understand that the tapas were excellent, but the serves of haloumi were quite scarce.

Two of us ordered salads and one of those salads belonged to me.  Whilst we agreed that they bring out the dishes as they were cooked, I did not expect my simple salad of calamari and chorizo to take an hour and a half to compile and make it to the table – I was extremely hungry by this point and had also downed two sizeable gin and tonics!

My advice – Moorish should look at offering a smaller menu selection for lunch, as not everyone has three hours to spend at lunch and most diners only have an hour.  The days of the long lunch are well and truly over! Or they should make sure they can deliver to the table in a reasonable amount of time.  The quality of the food can’t be faulted but the timing can.  Two guests had to leave prior to the last of their tapas coming out.

Their saving grace was the dessert.  Most of us don’t have time for dessert when out for lunch, but today we could and we did. Three of us ordered the Creme Catalina and yes, I will be back for just that dish as, it was divine.  Another had the vanilla crepe and another had the sticky pudding.  Rave reviews all round for the desserts – lucky!

We walked away from the meal very content with what we had eaten, although the next day some of us were still dissatisfied as to how long it took for the meals to come out. 

Monday, 16 July, 2007, 12:16 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin


When I first came to Darwin in 1984, there were only two stores worth shopping in, Alfred’s and Blazez.  Unfortunately Blazez closed sometime ago, much to my disappointment, but Alfred’s is still a Darwin institution.

The store is run by Stanley Chin and his family.  It stocks many gift ideas at a great price range.  You can buy Chinese New Year cards, quality knives for the kitchen – he has all the big names, Scanpans, great wooden toys for children and plenty of practical joker gifts that go down real well for the office Kris Kringles.

In the old days, Alfred’s used to be located in the Mall and they also had the best range of basketware.  Nowadays, other stores seem to have captured that market.

Alfred’s also have a steady supply of salty plums for all those brought up in the Territory or in PNG – my mouth is watering just typing “salty plums”!  They also stock some of the Casuno range, Christopher Vine china – to die for and a number of Chinese good luck symbols and chimes to hang around the home.

I recently bought a beautiful purple coin purse for a friend as a birthday gift from Alfred’s and it is made of eel skin- the colours of the range are fantastic and there is something for men and women.

There are so many gift ideas in this store and the service is superb – it always has been and gift wrapping is complementary – I am sure there is something I have missed, but why not drop into the store and have a look yourself.