Austin Top Attraction | State Capitol Complex – Texas History and Politics

Visiting Austin Downtown would not be complete without stepping on the ground of Texas State Capitol. All the roads that lead to Austin Downtown would let you bedazzled with a glimpse of this majestic landmark of Austin. Housing the chambers of Texas Legislature and governor’s office, State Capitol is the venue to catch an exciting story of Texas history and politics.
Texas Capitol - The facade at 11th Street
Texas Capitol - Goddess of Liberty Statue raising a Lone Star
Sitting on two and a quarter acres land, Texas State Capitol was first designed in 1881 by Elijah E. Meyers – an architect who was later fired and the construction’s direction was taken over by a civil engineer – Lindsay Walker (1882-1888). Originally, the building was planned to be erected entirely using limestone but the high iron content in limestone which would discolor over time had triggered the builder to opt for pink granite instead. This iconic building has an approximately 400 rooms and more than 900 windows.
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Austin Lake Travis | The Oasis Restaurant – Sunset Capital of Texas

This year, the birthday celebration for my Significant Other was truly Austin! We toasted at The Oasis Restaurant which is popularly known as ‘The Sunset Capital of Texas’. Located about 15 miles from our current residence, the decision to celebrate by Lake Travis was rather impromptu.
Welcome to The Oasis
People are watching the sun down...the higher the better?

Which deck shall we head to?
Beautiful coastline
Spectacular view of sunset at The Oasis
After our afternoon walk cum jog at Lady Bird Lake, a friend suggested Lake Travis for Tex-Mex cuisine. Claimed as one of the top ten visitor attractions in Austin, my Significant Other and I rushed there right after and guess we made it on time to capture the stunning sight of the sunset! That day was just perfect as weather was sunny through the whole afternoon.
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Home Kitchen Recipe | Bak Kut Teh – Pork Ribs Herbal Soup

Bak Kut Teh, is literally translated as Pork Ribs Tea. But I think it is more meaningful to be called Pork Ribs Herbal Soup to detail this Malaysia/Singapore specialty. The mouth-watering Chinese savory soup is made from pork ribs which is simmered in a collection of Chinese herbs for several hours.  It is also served with white rice or yam rice, ‘yu cha kui’ (fried dough stick), fresh raw garlic and  oyster-sauced ice-berg lettuce.
Pork ribs herbal soup a.k.a. Bak Kut Teh
Bak Kut Teh is a popular dish among South-East Asia Chinese but surprisingly, not among the typical Chinese in China. According to Wikipedia, Bak Kut Teh was first introduced to Malaya in 19th century by the coolies from Canton or Hong Kong as they ate to gain energy. That’s a bit of the history.

And how Bak Kut Teh is prepared? Usually back in my home country, my mom would get a pack of herbs from Chinese medicinal hall. They are later wrapped using a white linen and put in water to simmer with pork ribs. In my situation, I usually purchase a packet of A1 Bak Kut Teh from grocery store in Malaysia and then simmer with pork ribs for an hour or two.
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Home Kitchen Recipe | Lotus Root Savory Soup with Wolfberries, Black Dates and Peanuts

Last weekend, we had a short trip to Houston. Thank God, we stayed over night and we had more time to hang
around. As a result, we took this chance to drop by at Houston Hong Kong Market which is situated in Chinatown along Bellaire Blvd. Plenty of Asian ingredients and choices were available here. Everything looks appealing! And we were a bit confused where’s good to start!

As we strolled to the fresh vegetables section, my Significant Other kept reminding me not to buy perishable stuff since our traveling journey would take at least 3 hours from Houston to Austin. Otherwise, I think I’d bought a whole lot of month supplies. As we walked along the alleys, we fall for our first sight on lotus roots. I couldn’t resist but to get closer and started picking a few pieces. They were so pretty compared to what I used to see in Austin’s Asian Market. I was trying to justify in my mind that these roots were robust and should be able to pass the 3 hour-road test!
Lotus root soup with black dates, wolfberries and peanuts
Both of us are a big fan of Lotus Root Soup. On the next day after our return from Houston, I went ahead to cook Chinese Lotus roots soup without hesitant. However, I was short of pork ribs and therefore I used lean pork loin instead. Even so, this savory soup turned out fabulous! After taking the first sip of the soup, my Significant Other probed me whether I did cook with a packet of ‘secret ingredient’ but to his surprise, everything was authentic yet very delicious!

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Austin Spicewood Springs Road | Asia Cafe – Sichuan Cuisine

Sichuan or Szechuan cuisine is a style of Chinese cooking originated from Sichuan Province in southwestern of China. It is famed for bold flavors, particularly the pungency and spiciness resulting from sparing use of garlic, chili peppers and the unique flavor of the Sichuan peppercorn.
Asia Cafe - Authentic Sichuan Cuisine in Austin
I had been to Sichuan twice in the last 5 years but I do not recall anything great I have had there during my trips. My friend jokingly said ‘it must be you were visiting only the restaurants recommended by the tour guide!’. He could be right, I did not have much time to go for gastronomical adventure. One being the reason, I could not speak Chinese very well and secondly, I was not sure what was good to try!

And now, here am I in Austin and we have just found a place to dine Sichuan nearby where we live. Cited as serving unaldultered Sichuan cuisine, Asia Cafe is also the best venue to dine authentic Chinese. Formerly operating behind Asia Market (an Asian grocery store), it is now opened just next to it and a stone throw away from the intersection of Research Blvd and Spicewood Springs Road.
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Austin North Lamar | Shalimar Restaurant – Pakistani and Indian Cuisine

As a typical Malaysian, once a while I would crave for Malaysian food which sum up from Malays, Chinese, Peranakan and Indian cuisine. In my dictionary, Malaysian cuisine covers almost everything in Asia and perhaps up to Middle East. Apparently there is none of Malaysian restaurant in Austin but briyani rice is obviously something close to home. So today, I am going to take you a Pakistani cum Indian restaurant to try my first briyani rice in Austin.
Facade of Shalimar
Situated almost next to H.E.B. along N. Lamar Blvd, Shalimar is a kosher restaurant and serves an array of Pakistani and Indian cuisine ranging from Tikka, Boti, Kabab, Korma, Masala, Naan, Paratha and Biryani. They also offer buffet lunch and buffet dinner daily.
Get started to pick my favorite

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Texas Waco | Historic Suspension Bridge Crossing Brazos River

The bridge that transformed Waco from a small frontier town to a commercial center was the bridge I stood on October 10, 2009 which is located north of Waco Downtown.
Back then, this was part of Chrisholm Trail where wagons, stagecoaches and cowboys crossed Brazos
The bridge was part of Chisholm Trail which served millions of cowboys and cattle crossing Brazos River in last centuries. The idea of constructing a bridge was initiated to offer an alternative and served the growing need to get across Brazos River via ferry which was then dangerous and time consuming.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior, Waco Suspension Bridge is the first bridge built to cross Brazos River. Its longest span is 475 feet (175 m) and is claimed to be the longest single-span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi.
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Home Kitchen Recipe | How to make Cantonese style Barbecued (BBQ) Pork (Char Siu)?

Some people called it Cantonese style barbecued pork and the other may refer it as barbecued pork. Both to Chinese dialect is ‘char siu’ or ‘char siew’. Barbecued Pork is a Cantonese cuisine. It is usually consumed alongside a starch like rice and we called it ‘Char Siu Pui’ (Barbecued Pork Rice; Pui: Hokkien for rice) or sometimes barbecued pork is used as a filling in steamed buns which is called ‘Char Siu Pau’.
Home Recipe BBQ or Barbecued Pork
In Malaysia and Singapore, char siu is typically sold at the chicken/duck rice stalls in hawker center or kopitiam. Besides char sui, roasted pork or ‘siew bak’ (in Hokkien) or ‘siew yoke’ (in Cantonese) would also be displayed along as an option. Comparatively, ‘siew bak’ is more fatty as it was prepared from three-layer pork belly. However, the tangy colored skin of the roasted pork is crunchy and addictive! Apart from this, ‘char siu’ is also served with egg noodles as ‘Wan Tan Mee’. In short, typical ‘char siu’ can be easily recognized from its appearance of red-edged lining which is a food coloring that makes ‘char siu’ look nicer (but to me, it is not necessary at all).
 
Typically, barbecued pork is prepared from lean pork loin coated/immersed in a sweet-savory marinade. Then, the pork strips would be barbecued and basting follows intermittently.
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Austin Chinatown Center Restaurant | Pho Saigon – Vietnamese Noodle House

One of the best restaurant food served in United States is Vietnamese noodles. On my last stay many years ago, I did try in other states and they were fabulous! What’s interesting is their Vietnamese coffee and pho. And I love the fresh vegetables accompaniment. Typically, most Vietnamese restaurants in United States offer relatively a better pho than what I could get in my home country whereby Vietnamese cuisine is over-priced and under-valued.
The facade of Pho Saigon @ Chinatown Center
Phở or in correct Vietnamese language pronounces as ‘fur’ is  a famous Vietnamese noodle soup originated from North Vietnam. The soup which usually prepared from beef broth is served with rice noodles. It is also offered with other fresh accompaniments like basil, lime, bean sprouts and green peppers.
The menu and contacts
In a chilled evening of fall, having a bowl of pho is extremely satisfying to warm up my tummy. As usual, the portion is considered huge for a petite Asian lady like me (braggg!Tongue out) but there is always an option for packing to-go when I couldn’t finish it.
Fresh accompaniments..aromatic
Shrimp spring rolls - another Vietnamase specialty
Pork Balls Egg Noodle

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Home Kitchen Recipe | Raspberry Streusel Muffins

I first heard of ‘Streusel’ when I visited Fredericksburg – a German township in Texas some time ago. In baking and pastry making term, streusel which originates from a German word ‘streuen’ means ‘something scattered or sprinkled’. Going back to English, this verb carries the same meaning as the English verb ‘strew’ which means spreading or covering a surface area with something. Talking about streusel muffin, it simply means a muffin that comes with a topping. This topping is usually made from a combination of nuts, sugar/syrup, flour and oil/margarine/butter. Unlike frosting in cupcakes, this topping is baked together with the muffin. It never came across my mind that cooking and baking do add on new words to the list of my vocabulary as well!
Raspberries
Like what I mentioned in my earlier installment, baking muffin is addictive and here I am on the game again. This time, I am hoping to play around with oat and raspberry. I did a bit of homework and as a result, I would pick and play with some recipes to exploit all the resources I have at home.
Raspberry Streusel Muffins
The outputs turned out beyond my expectation. My raspberry streusel muffins did expand although prior to baking, there was not much hope for it, judging from its mass and inertia! The flour and oat mixture also provides healthy sense by increasing the fiber content in this muffin recipe.
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