“Weekend Foodtrail”…food, festival, “Sapa Rose” and more

Busy, busy, busy. That was all I can say. Long weekend. Today’s public holiday in Hobart. It’s the Royal Hobart Regatta Tasmania – only for Hobart and the south of Tasmania. It’s also Valentine’s Day. So happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers.

Early in the week, my team leader sent a meeting cancellation for today that occurs every Monday. I looked at the calendar – February 14. What The?? It’s Valentine’s Day, so when is Valentine’s Day ever become a Public Holiday. That was when I looked up public holiday in Tasmania and realised that it is the Hobart Regatta. I have never been to one of the regatta in Hobart. I enjoy having the extra day off from work, and having a 3 days weekend. How I wish we only work 4 days a week.

Well, this past weekend was no exception for me. It was busy and fun at the same time. Time to switch off from work, which was extremely busy last Friday, developing a detail project implementation plan for my project. I think I am beginning to get the “shit” from the project. But I need to get my head together so I won’t loose it. It’s not easy to manage a project when you don’t have the right skilled resources from the business to assist in the implementation. Anyway, I had to quickly popped over to my gym for an hour workout to help ease my frustration after a long week.

I got home about 6:30pm Friday and my partner was already in his pajama! Yes, in his pajama resting and had two rented DVDs. I was hoping to go out – for a dinner or maybe for a movie at the State Cinema. But, after an hour on my MacBook, I decided against that. So what to have for dinner?

That was the question our friend from Rita’s Bite asked me on Saturday. We went to visit her for a cup of tea, except there was not cup of tea. LOL. She forgot, but she did buy Lemongrass and Ginger tea to serve us – that was what she told us on Sunday when we caught up with her again for dinner at Sapa Rose.

I described to Rita and her friend that I did what I could with what I got in my kitchen. There was a whole free range chicken that I bought the night before. That was supposed to be poached for “Bonnie” – our 15-year old dame scottie. Instead I chopped up the whole chicken into 2 pieces thighs, 2 pieces drumsticks, 2 pieces wings and 2 pieces breast into 3 sections each. I marinated them with 2 teaspoons turmeric powder and a sprinkle of two of cooking salt.

Then I going through my kitchen to see what I can make for spices – 1 red onion, 4 cloves purple garlic, 1 thumb size fresh turmeric, 1 red chili, 6 dried chilies, 4 kaffir lime leaves – blended into a paste with my small handheld grinder. Then a star anise, 3 cloves and 1 cinnamon stick.

Then I heated my wok with half a cup of vegetable cooking oil. Tossed in the dried spices at medium heat, and later added the blended wet spices. Fried them until fragrant. Then added half the chicken pieces with bones – slowly added one at a time. That was when I thought that was enough. Had a few pieces left that I later added some caramalised thick soy, wrapped in glad wrap and left in the fridge for another night’s dinner.

After all my chicken pieces were nicely coated with the paste, I added a bowl of tamarind juice. Slowly simmer the chicken until cooked, then added some vegetables. In this case, I added what I have got from my fridge – chopped carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Added some fresh basil leaves from my fridge, a bit of fish sauce and later garnished with coriander leaves.

Unfortunately no photo was taken. Too hungry to think about taking pictures. Both of us enjoyed the spiced chicken. But next time I will leave the dried spices and try cooking with seafood.

Rita then asked, what are you going to cook tonight. That was a Saturday afternoon when we visited her. I told her with what I have got left of the chicken pieces that was marinated the previous night with added caramalised thick soy. I am going to pan fry the chicken pieces until they are browned, then add some turmeric juice with curry leaves and onion rings and slower simmer until chicken is cooked, the sauces thicken and caramlised.

I took a picture this time after plating. A chicken thigh on top of some baby rocket, spinach and kale salad, a bit of leftover steamed rice and a leftover Thai green curry drumstick cooked by my partner a couple of nights ago. It was not a glam-up restaurant dish, but a home cooked meal.

Earlier in the day before we dropped in to Rita’s place. We went for a light brunch at a nearby cafe – Jackman and McRoss Bakery in New Town. It is within walking distance to our place. J&McR is one of my favourite cafe in Hobart. They have a 3 outlets and each of them are quite different in style. The one in Victoria Street caters to the business lunch crowd. The one in Battery Point is extremely popular with well healed Battery Point’s residents and tourists. Then there is the one near our place in New Town, which is catered more towards the locals in the area, which has a more relax, casual and friendly atmosphere. I don’t think J&McR has a website. But if you do know there is one, please add the link in this post. Thanks.

I ordered a rabbit pot pie with couscous on top. My partner had a lamb shank pie and we both shared a salad. We bumped into our friend, Freddie who was there with his friend for a cup of coffee. Another couple who was about to leave and said we have met somewhere. It took us two minutes before we figured out where we have met. At a neighbour’s new year party 3 or 4 years ago! Then they said that they heard we have moved back to mainland. In Tasmania, we refer Australia as mainland. And, yes Tasmania is part of Australia. It was hilarious when CNN news had the map of Australia on their news a couple of weeks ago reporting Cyclone Yasi that was about to hit Queensland, and had Queensland as in Tasmania! That was a powerful cyclone to have swept and blown the entire Queensland state to Tasmania!

There were several major events happening in this past weekend for a small place like Tasmania. In the north, there was the Festivale in Launceston. I have never been to a Festivale. But friends of ours go there every year without failed, and they pre booked their accommodation for the following year. We bumped into them at the Wooden Boat Festival on Sunday. Wooden Boat Festival is another major event this weekend held in Hobart. We have not seen them for a couple of years. They told us that this year at the Festivale was not as great as the previous years. Seem less food stalls and more wine stalls, and food was not that great. Nothing exciting or innovative. The same old stuffs – tempura mushroom, burgers and more burgers. Nothing gourmet. I asked my partner why we have never been to Festivale. We both agree that it was a 3-4 hours drive depending on traffic to drive up north for a food and wine festival. Tasmania being such a small state that most of the stalls are generally the same as The Taste in Hobart. The stalls seem to rove around the festivals in little state of Tasmania. The only difference – Festivale is held in a nice big park with trees and greens. The Taste has the beautiful waterfront and the Sydney to Hobart yachts and The Salamanca.

The Wooden Boat Festival – first time I have ever been there. In previous years, there was a cover charge. This year, for the first time, it was free. Not that a small cover charge is going to stop me from going. But, I was not sure why a wooden boat festival can be that interesting to draw me there. But, curiosity is the word. I was drawn there to see what is so great about the festival. It was not just for boat enthusiast, but anyone. It was great! It was interesting. There were wooden crafted boats everywhere on every small space in the Hobart waterfront. I am not going to pretend that I know what I am talking about boats. So I won’t use any boatie technical words to refer to any of the boats.

This was huge. There were life size boats on the water, on the land, miniature models, art exhibitions, Japanese village showcasing Japanese artworks, sand castle building, pirates and children face painting, stalls on wooden boat building, old motors, tall ships, kayakers, floating stage, food and drink stalls. There were thousands of visitors – local, interstate and international tourists. It was massive for Hobart and great for the economy.

It was funny that both my partner and I agree that Hobart comes alive between late December and March/April, then everything slowly drifts off for the winter and all hibernate for 6-8 months in the state. That is when locals travel north to Queensland for their yearly getaway from the winter chill. For some reasons, the locals love Queensland for winter.

After spending almost 4 hours at the boat festival, we walked back to our car parked in a residential street in Glebe. It was a nice walk back with a view of Mt Wellington on a stunning Hobart weather.

A couple of hours to rest at home before we meet Rita for dinner at Sapa Rose.

There are very few places in Hobart that is opened on Sunday for dinner. It is indeed nice to have a new restaurant in Hobart. Not just any restaurant, but a Vietnamese restaurant. Opened on Tuesday last week. It is opened 7 days a week for lunch, dinner and also do a takeaway.

There is a separate menu for lunch and dinner, and a takeaway menu. It is a fully licenced restaurant.

We arrived early for our 7 pm booking. There were already a few tables of four and two. Huang, the owner, greeted us with a friendly and warm welcome as we entered the restaurant. The lighting was subtle and moody with soft music but loud enough to create a nice, uplifting and vibrant atmosphere. I could hear the kitchen behind with the the wok going. In an Asian restaurant, I simply love the sound of the woks. It creates the right ambience with nice balance of yin-yang energy.

The dinner menu is extensive. The wine list according to my partner has a good selection but under priced. Too cheap for a restaurant standard. Dishes are all well priced to be competitive in a very competitive market in a small place like Hobart with a small population who can eat out. Sapa Rose is not in an ideal location for dinner as far as food places is concerned. It is located on Harrington Street, away from busy eating street like North Hobart, Sandy Bay Road and Salamanca. However, it is a great spot for lunch crowd in the CBD.

We looked through the menu and decided to order three entree to start off to share – vietnamese spring rolls, papaya salad with grilled beef, and vietnamese pancake.

Papaya salad with grilled beef – tangy and sourish. Lovely dish to build up an appetite for the next few dishes.

Vietnamese spring rolls – as good as we can get in a Melbourne’s Vietnamese restaurant in Richmond. Fresh and crispy. The lettuce leaves unfortunately was not as crispy and crunchy as I like. The spring roll is wrapped with a bit of mint and lettuce leaves, then dipped in the traditional vietnamese dipping vinegary and fish sauce, which has been toned down. But overall this is a good starter to the main meal. A definite must if you love a great spring roll.

Vietnamese pancake. My partner loves a good vietnamese pancake, and had to order one when we are dining at a Vietnamese restaurant. So without fail, he had to order this one. We both agree it looked and tasted different from the ones we had in Sydney or Melbourne. It was mild in flavour. A bit dry. Less oily which probably is a good thing. A bit too much flour that there was a bit of an after taste. It is best eaten wrapped in lettuce leaves and herbs and dip in the same dipping sauce as the spring roll. It is good for those that have never tried a Vietnamese pancake. After food is an adventure and an experience especially of a different culture.

Next, we had to choose our mains. We decided on mushroom stuffed with prawn meats fried in oyster sauce, duck wrapped with prawns and toasted sesame seeds, and king prawns with herbs and spices. Huang, the owner, suggested to change one of the dish for something else because all three mains has prawn as a key ingredient. We left to him to substitute one of our selection with his choice – beef cooked in spiced coconut cream served on top of thin vermicelli noodles, a southern dish of Vietnam. Huang is also a trained chef and owned another place in North Hobart, the Noodle Box. Sapa Rose is his dream and biggest adventure into a fine wine and dining restaurant scene in Hobart.

Duck wrapped with prawn meats with toasted sesame seeds on top. The dish was served on hot plate. Then the slightly spicy and sour sauce was poured over the top of the dish. I could not remember having a sizzling plate dish at a Vietnamese restaurant. But, westerners love the sound of a hot sizzling plate. It was a good dish – nice full flavour and great combination between the tender duck meat and prawn meat.

Beef cooked in spiced coconut cream served on top of vietnamese vermicelli noodles. This had to be my favourite dish of the night. It was Huang’s recommendation. It has a mild curry flavour. A new experience for me at a Vietnamese restaurant as I never associate Vietnamese dish with a curry or coconut dish. There is a bit of cross border influence from Thailand as a popular southern dish. But it was good and went well with the vermicelli noodle, which is quite traditional in a Thai and Vietnamese dishes, especially cooked in a claypot.

Sapa Rose salted king prawns with herbs and spices. It was similar to a salt and pepper king prawns served in most Chinese restaurants. One of our favourite dish that we usually order at a Chinese restaurant. The dish was good. The right amount of saltiness and spicyness.

Overall, Sapa Rose is a wonderful addition to the dining scene in Hobart. There are so many dishes to choose from. I have to go there a few times to know which dishes taste best for my palate.

Both my companions have put up their own reviews in their blog. You can read Rita’s Bite on her own personal account of her experience at Sapa Rose. And, later The Fork n Food blog on my partner’s own personal account. As an individual and food lovers, we have our own individual taste and opinion. You have to go to Sapa Rose to experience something new and different in Hobart.

Huang – Restauranteur and Owner of Sapa Rose

I am glad we have an extra day off today, which is reserved for some chores around the house and garden.

Now for the Ten Days on The Island festival in March before the state goes to sleep.



17 responses to ““Weekend Foodtrail”…food, festival, “Sapa Rose” and more

  1. Your weekends are always full of the joys of living and eating. A great rap for Hobart and Sapa Rose. Will tell my sister to try it as she loves Vietnam – especially the food.

    • Mary – it was probably a bit full on. Saw your comment on Wah Yuen in Reb’s blog. That was funny. I still can’t believed he made us eat there! Ha ha.

      Btw, SR service is still a long way from being polished. So prepare for that when eat there. The owner Huang is aware and working on it.

  2. Love your review Victor – and hate the fact that your pics are always so much better and classier than mine! You have described the dishes wonderfully graphically, and make my mouth water when I read your descriptions, wishing I was there – then remember – wait! I WAS there! Now want to go again!

    But I DO have to contradict you with the siting of SR in relation to Nth Hobt or Salamanca eating streets. I LOVE the fact that it IS off the two main eating routes, because it’s easier to park in that area than at Salamanca or NH at night time.

    Apart from that – I am truly sorry and embarrassed for forgetting to offer you that beautiful Lemongrass and Ginger tea on Sat arvo! x

    • Thanks, Rita. But don’t forget that last picture of me with Huang was a credit to you and your camera. 🙂

      Agree that it is easier to find parking space at SR, right at the door step. Having said that, even eating in NH or Salamanca is not that difficult to park the car and free. It may take 3 mins to walk to the car, rather than 30 sec to a minute at SR. That, to me is a breeze compare to Sydney – the parking fees is enough to make me think twice about going out, or have to park several blocks away!

  3. Nice review Victor and what a full on week end! You don’t need the gym with all your running around Hobart.
    Looking forward to trying ther pho special.

    • Thanks, Dillon. SR’s pho stock is quite mild in flavour. Add the bird eye chilies, hoisin and chili sauce for added flavour. Let me know what you think.

  4. Hi, Victor.
    I don’t think some of these dishes are traditional Vietnamese. It is the first time I heard of duck wrap with shrimp. I was over Rita’s blog and saw the bill……WOW!
    That is some very expensive steak on the papaya and the salted prawn as well. Sorry I am a little frugal.
    I’ve seen many Vietnamese restaurants around this part trying to go as i like to say “upscale” but diners are just not there. At the same time, the mom and pa hole in the wall joint serving traditional style food still going for the past 10 years.

  5. Hi Victor, Wow your wekends are jam packed. The Sapa Rose meal sounds promising. I don’t know why many people always assume Vietnamese food shoud be cheap. I think it has some thing to do with a superior attitude we have over certain nations, a sort of post colonial hangover of sorts. As in: How dare they charge us so much.
    I think its wrong to impose this attitude on many ethnic food outlets, we dont seem to baulk at more ‘western’ restaurants charging appropriately. Its hard not to think that ther might be some prejudices and bigotry at play with those sort of attitudes toward ethic eateries and price.

    We also went to the wooden boat festival today, glorious Monday as it is. People were everywhere and there were lots of food outlets and it was nice to see some Indonesian fooon offer, though my kids said the satay chook wasn’t as good as Ivory cafe! I had a really delicious burger, which I promised I wouldn’t as i wanted to try the new Burger got soul outlet on sandy Bay rd later on. Anyways we left the festival with me of course completely hankering for a boat, the tragic wannabe sea farer that I am.

    Burger got Soul. great fit out, snappy menu, smart looking young staff(one of whom used to work for me) I might be wrong but it looks like a very similar business model to the Grill’d chain which started in melbourne a few years back and now has expanded interstate. Apparently Burger got soul started in Launceston a couple of years back also.
    the burger was fresh and clean tasting with recognisable fillings and mine, a pickle and mustard cheeseburger, was delicious The other similarity to Grill’d was the chips with are doused liberally with a seasoning mix that tasted to me like chicken salt mixed with some sort of smokey spice, but not smoked paprika. They were delicious, but too salty, even for me.
    We were there at 2pm and the place was full with a steady flow of customers for the entire time we were there, 45 mins. I think they will be very successful.

  6. I’d heard Burger got Soul was coming to Hobart but didn’t know it had arrived! Sheesh! Look what happens when you take your eye off the ball! Where is it Steve, in SBay Rd?

  7. Dallas – I know what you mean by the price.

    Steve – I also know where you are coming from on the price.

    I believe Dallas is comparing to where he lives, ie in the US. I think in Dallas itself. I have live there for a couple of years in mid eighties for my uni and work at The Anatole Hotel, and know there is a big Asian community.

    In any bigger cities, even like Sydney or Melbourne, there are better and more choices on Vietnamese food like in Cabramatta in Sydney or Richmond in Melbourne. The prices in most of the restaurants there are cheap in comparison to Sapa Rose, and very authentic to the country of origin.

    But since Sapa Rose is in Hobart, which is a small city, the price is quite reasonable for this type of restaurant. So it is hard to compare to eating out in a bigger city. I wish we have more choices here in Hobart like “mum and pa” type of restaurant, which can be found in Sydney and Melbourne – old established restaurants setup by Vietnamese refugees who first immigrated to Australia and “mum and pa” working hard for a better life for their children to have better education. These places are commonly found in Sydney and Melbourne with lots of migrants. But not in Hobart.

  8. Victor, I get the “shit” at my work place also, and I always tell myself that it’s better to be working than not.

    I like your boat photos, it must be a very relaxing place to hang out but it looks like you had a very busy weekend. Sapa Rose foods look delicious, I’ve never seen papaya salad with grilled beef before, it looks good.

  9. Dear Victor

    This is an absolutely fantastic post – I love the photos, especially AND you go into such detail about the food and some special Hobart attractions.

    I would like to add a link to this post from Think-Tasmania.com. Would that be alright?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Many thanks,


    • Hi Tania – thanks for visiting. Glad you enjoy reading the post.
      Yes, please. I am happy for you to add a link to this post. Cheers, Victor

  10. Thanks Victor

    You can find the link in the following article if you’re interested…


    All the best,


  11. I booked a table at Sapa Rose for 5 on a Thursday evening. It was early (6.30) and the restaurant wasn’t that busy.
    We waited 30 minutes for the entree – spring rolls. They were good.
    We then waited more than an hour for our main (ordered at the same time as the entree). Some dishes were better than others but overall it was really ordinary. Lots of MSG and fairly bland. We were not at all impressed.

    Even less so when I looked at the docket the next day and saw I had paid for 2 Boags Premium (2 x $7) we had not ordered.
    I phoned to mention this to the manager (twice) and each time was told he wasn’t there but that he would call me back. He hasn’t.

    • That’s not good, Pat.

      If you don’t mind, I would like to pass on your feedback to the owner. I believe he would want to know the mistake, especially the incorrect charge.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s