Review: Oriental Palace

Interestingly the thing I miss most since my seachange to Hervey Bay isn’t the Brisbane nightlife or social scene. It’s not the shopping or the array of cultural activities. It’s takeaway food options!

I must first confess though that although I’ve whinged about this for two years I’m still only just getting around to trying some new places.

After writing about this very issue in my ‘other’ blog last August I had a range of recommendations about Fraser Coast options… but most pointed me in the direction of  Oriental Palace in Scarness.

We had a few false starts as my friends and I rocked up one Sunday lunch only to discover the restaurant only opens at night. (A bummer as I actually eat out more at lunchtime than dinner!)

However, two weeks ago we finally made it. And enjoyed the experience.

Oriental Palace offers Chinese and Malaysian cuisine. I’m coeliac so offered to go it alone and order my own gluten-free dish; allowing my friends to choose whatever they wanted. However, they kindly agreed to both order from the GF menu so I would be able to try a few different dishes.

Happily, being coeliac is NOT an issue at the Oriental Palace. Rather than a blank look the waitress knew exactly what I needed and disappeared, bringing back a menu with GF options clearly marked. (She had spares, so let me bring one home for takeaway-ordering purposes.)

None of the entrees are GF, which isn’t unusual and my friends decided to forgo them anyway and nibbled on the vege chips provided while we sipped our drinks and gossiped discussed important social issues.

We went for the: Chicken with cashew nuts & vegetables; Chilli beef & vegetables; and Cha-Kueh-Tiao (Malaysian Flat Rice Noodles (which comes with a range of meats).

oriental palace food 2

Chilli beef & vegetables

Service was very speedy and we agreed all three dishes tasted really fresh and healthy, although the Chilli beef won out on taste.

The other two dishes were a teensy bit bland… but I suspect the chef had to eliminate  sauces because of the whole gluten thing. It’s something I’m accustomed to but my friends asked for some soy sauce and I think that helped.

Cha-Kueh-Tiao

Cha-Kueh-Tiao

Some choices I would have liked to have tried weren’t available gluten-free which is a tad disappointing. Many sauces (oyster, soy, black bean etc) aren’t necessarily gluten-free but you can buy GF brands. Understandably though, most places have their own preferences and probably can’t just use Masterfoods / Chang’s when they’re accustomed to Kikkoman’s. Or similar. 🙂

So, while my old fave Brisbane haunt still holds a place in my heart, I’m pleased to have discovered Oriental Palace. We caught wafts of sizzling beef, Laksas  and Mongolian lamb and the like and I suspect my dining companions opt for those next time they visit. I certainly would, if I could!

Oriental Palace 352 Esplanade, Scarness is open Tuesday – Sunday evening from 5pm. Most meat-based dishes are around the $20 mark and it’s BYO and licensed. Check them out on Facebook or call on 07 4128 3496.

Sem gas

(First published in Debbish.com on 31 January 2013)

I’ve been struggling with cravings since last week. Hot and sweaty and enroute home from a Zumba class in my new hometown I decided I was too lazy to cook and stopped at the first ‘Asian’ takeaway I came to. Thai and Chinese are my favourites and the place I found chose was Thai. After a few false starts I discovered which dishes could be made gluten-free (for I am coeliac) and left 25+minutes later (having been told 10mins) with two dishes and rice in hand.

I scoffed most of the meal that night and had the rest for breakfast the following morning. The garlic and pepper chicken was TO DIE FOR!

It kills me that I cannot cook Thai / Chinese food that tastes as good as the stuff I buy.

As so often is the case, it gave me a taste for something delicious and spicy and I’ve pondered the idea of takeaway almost every day since.

However, earlier this week I convinced myself I would be satisfied with a more logistically-simple option, available at a cafe just a few hundred metres from my apartment.

SaltWhen I first arrived here I indulged in Salt Cafe‘s steak sandwich on gluten-free bread and served with chips a number of times. In fact, the friendly waitress who served me the day I hung out waiting to get into my apartment (while I waited for settlement and the removalist) remembered me each time I went back.

And before I knew it I was imagining myself biting into the sandwich, onion relish dripping down my chin.

For various reasons I didn’t get there yesterday so while phaffing about this morning I texted my aunt and uncle who live nearby, asking if they were keen to meet for lunch. Fortuitously we agreed on Salt and I sauntered down in the oppressive heat eager for my steak sandwich.

Once settled however, I was greeted by a waitress I didn’t know and handed a dodgy one page menu aptly named “Emergency Menu – available all day” and listing cereals, bread rolls, a couple of salads and chicken or ham toasted sandwiches. What. The. Fuck?!

“The gas is out,” the waitress explained.

Not convinced she wasn’t conspiring against me to avoid offering me the fulfillment I needed (ie. steak sandwich and chips) I turned to Twitter and Facebook to have this confirmed. And sure enough… my Facebook feed was full of local cafes and restaurants either announcing their reduced menus or sprouting that they use electricity and were offering their full array of food.

Apparently a gas pipeline was damaged a bit further north during our recent storms and until flood waters have receded it can’t be fixed… and there’s no gas. (I have to confess I’ve never really thought about where the gas comes from or how it gets here!)

Screen shot 2013-01-31 at 5.49.18 PM

I’m not a gas-y girl you see. I’d love a BBQ but only gas makes sense and the notion of a gas bottle freaks me out. I’ve always bought places which have electric ovens and stovetops rather than gas cos of the whole ‘freaking me out’ thing. And… I always thought I would be the one to suffer – during an electricity outage; that I’d be regretting my no-gas decision.

And yet… here I am, still with electricity with which to cook, while the cafes and restaurants of Hervey Bay serve cereal.

Are you a gas or electricity person? Or perhaps both?

 * Sem gas = without bubbles (in Portuguese and possibly similar in Spanish and Italian!)