Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Revolver Cafe, Annandale

We came to Revolver based on several recommendations from friends.  It was a weekday morning around 10am and the restaurant was busy!  I can only imagine how hard it would to get a seat here on a Sat/Sun for brunch.
The café is located on the corner of a quiet suburban street in Annandale.  Rustic wooden doors and floors greet you as you walk to the entrance, and the café décor is made up of mismatched old-school chairs and fittings.  We were seated towards the back of the café, giving us a sneak-peak into the open kitchen, constantly churning out hot plates of brunch-goodness.

Big sign, inside the Cafe

We had the Revolver Big Breakie, consisting of two eggs baked in our house-made beans, honey cured bacon, roast tomato, mushrooms, pork fennel sausage & toast ($16.50).  It came out piping hot in a frying pan, filled with fresh vegetables and beans, with the two eggs on top.  To the side was a slightly toasted thick slice of bread, accompanied with herb olive oil dipping sauce.   We also added a Cranberry Bran muffin ($4) and a latte ($3.20) to wash it all down. 
Revolver Big Breakie, consisting of two eggs baked in our house-made beans, honey cured bacon, roast tomato, mushrooms, pork fennel sausage & toast ($16.50). 

Cranberry Bran muffin ($4)
Latte ($3.20)

Love the quaint feel of this café and was nice to experience it without the heavy traffic that it normally gets on the weekend.  Next time around, I want to try the Revolver’s own gluten free banana bread toasted w butter ($4.50), and the Eggs Benedict with two poached eggs, organic free range ham, baby spinach & hollandaise sauce on toast ($15.50).  Guess I’m already planning ahead for future trips here!

Revolver on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

U E Restaurant, Cabramatta

Everyone know Cabramatta  is known for great Vietnamese food, but did they know that there a great Duck Noodle Soup at U E Restaurant?
U E is located on John St, but you would never know it unless:  1) You saw the sign hanging above the ally, or 2) Someone local took you there.  U E is literally hidden at the back of a long, narrow, dark and dingy alley-way - but don’t let that deter you!
We can here specifically for the Duck Egg Noodle Soup.  Our food arrived pretty quickly after we ordered, and we were presented with a huge bowl of egg noodles, topped with nearly a ¼ duck thigh and leg.  The meat of the duck is marinated with a variety of Asian spices, and was so tender that it fell off the bone as we dug into our bowls.  There was also a generous serving of bean sprouts, and vegetables (Tong Ho?) and lemons.
Duck Egg Noodle Soup ($14)

If you’re in the area, UE is definitely worth coming to.  Can be hard to find and a little scary to wondering down the alley, but once you taste the Duck Noodle soup, all of that will be forgotten :)

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Tokonoma, Surry Hills

Nestled on busy Crown St within Surry Hills, Tokonoma could easily have been missed if it wasn’t for its sister restaurant Toko next door.  As you enter through the dark doorway, you are greeted by curtains that separate the entry from the bar and dining area.  The restaurant hostess greets you immediately, and if you think you can come here without a reservation, you’d better think twice!  Dinner seating on a Saturday is served at two times – early seating from 6pm to ~9pm, and then later seating from ~9pm onwards.  If you are late to your reservation, you have 15mins to run there before they give up your seat!
The ambiance of the restaurant is swanky, dark, and romantic.  Kind of like a mixture of Hollywood glam combined with East Coast Uptown snobby-ness.  Restaurant tables are simple, similar to those that you get at a lounge/bar.  This makes it a little difficult to get close(r) to your date, without making it entirely obvious J
Tokonoma serves Japanese Izakaya (small, tapas-style) cuisine.  We had the following items:
·         Japanese Green Salad (crisp mizuna, asparagus, cucumber, avocado, light-wafu dressing) $13.20
·         Toko Signature Sushi
o   Aburi truffle to umeboshi no unagi nigiri (unagi, torched foie gras, umeboshi) $15.80
o   Hotate no ponzu to wasabi ae gunkan (chopped scallop, ponzu, wasabi, cucumber) $12.80
·         Robato Grill
o   Shiitake no hachimitsu fuumi (japanese mushroom skewers, soy honey butter) $13.80
·         Sake no aburi yaki (smoked miso king salmon, fresh lime) $20.80
By far the best two dishes were the Unagi and Foie Gras Signature sushi, and also the Miso smoked King salmon.  The blend of the Unagi and Foie Gras was smoky and rich…so decadent!  The Smoked king salmon was perfectly cooked, so soft and melted in your month.  Combined with the miso sauce, it was light yet fulfilling. 
Unfortunately I did not take food pictures of the night – the restaurant was so darkly lit that camera flashes would have likely disturbed other diners.  However, presentation of each dishes were quite beautifully set.
Tokonoma is gem in Surry Hills that I will surely return to.  It’s one of my top 5 restaurants in Sydney and I would come back just for the Unagi & Foie Gras sushi J
Toko on Urbanspoon

Bourke Street Bakery, Surry Hills

This bakery has been on my list of to-dos for several months now.  Located in the leafy streets of Surry Hills, Bourke Street Bakery is an icon in this part of town, if not in Sydney.  This bakery’s shop front is not particularly large or noticeable, but what you will see are groups of people lined up outside, queuing for their piece of rich, buttery goodness.
We choose the Beef Brisket, Red Wine & Mushroom Pie ($5.30), the Pork & Fennel Sausage Roll ($4.50), Lamb, Almond & Harrisa Sausage Roll ($4.50), plus a Latte ($3.00).  Was tempted by Rhubarb & Almond Tart, Lemon Curd Tart and Cookies that adorn the bakery windows but was able to resist J
Pork & Fennel Sausage Roll ($4.50)

Beef Brisket, Red Wine & Mushroom Pie ($5.30),

I only tried the Pork and Fennel Sausage Roll.  The pastry was flaky, and the meat was well seasoned.  Slightly more fennel or herbs would have given it that kick to make it extra special.  Both the Beef Brisket Pie and Lamb Sausage roll was also very well received, as was the coffee.
Given I only tasted the Pork Sausage roll, it probably didn’t give BBBakery the justice it deserves.  I’ll give it another chance next time I’m in the area - maybe the cakes or the Lamb Sausage roll will win me over.
Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday, 18 June 2012

Lindt Chocolat Café, Cockle Bay Wharf

Was a chilly night and we were craving some sort of dessert/late night snack so ventured to Lindt Café for some hot chocolate.  They had a 2 for 1 special going that night: A buy-one-get-one Hazelnut hot chocolate, so why not!   Added a few Macarons (Pistachio, Vanilla) and a slice of the Opera cake.
Our drinks came out in 5 minutes, presented nicely with a mug, a hazelnut chocolate pot, and a mini-jug of milk.  We poured our chocolate into the mug, but unfortunately the milk was not hot enough to really melt the sad.  Ended up being a lukewarm drink which was quite disappointing.  The “half-price” factor didn’t even make up for it!  Macarons were tasty if not a little sweet (but that’s how macarons normally are) and the Opera cake was quite rich.
Hazelnut hot chocolate, Macarons, Opera Cake

My only other experience at Lindt was at the George St location in Sydney CBD.  I think they do better drinks there than what we experienced today at Cockle Bay Wharf…perhaps it was an off day?  You can decide J
Lindt Chocolat Café on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Happy Chef Noodle, Haymarket

The Haymarket food court can take a bit of work to navigate.  Filled with masses of people and choice-upon-choice of takeaway options, its difficult to know what to order. 

Today we went to Happy Chef Seafood and Noodle restaurant.  It is located at the far end of the brightly-lit food court.  The pictures on the boards look so appetising, but makes you wonder if its a true reflection of the actual dish.  Still, its food court so what can you expect!

We choose the Wonton and Fish Cake Noodle soup.  The noodles were well cooked, not to soft/soggy and not too hard.  Approximately 6 wontons were included and they were decently sized with a pork and vegetable filling.  The fish cakes was less impressive and a little rubbery. 

Wonton and Fish Cake Noodle Soup (~11)

A decent meal in a food court environment.  Wouldn't come here specifically to eat, but pass-able if you are in the area and are starving.
Happy Chef Seafood & Noodles Restaurant
401 Sussex Street, Shop F3 Sussex Centre
Sydney New South Wales 2000
(02) 9281 8337

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Nonya, Chinatown Sydney

As I continue my Malaysian-food cravings, I had high hopes for Nonya.  Located upstairs in the outdoor Dixon Street strip-mall, it looks quite fancy from the outside.

The first time I came here, I had the Char Kway Teow ($11).  Plenty of flat rice noodle surrounded by egg, prawn, Chinese sausage and bean sprouts, it had quite a spicy kick to it.  Pretty delicious and hit the spot.

Second time here, it was raining.  Note to self: Take care when walking ANYWHERE inside the restaurant since their floor tiling is super slippery.  Saw several people sliding around, almost on the verge of hitting the floor and a potential law suit :D

Dinner consisted of Roti Prata ($6), Malay Satay chicken skewers ($8), KangKong Belachan vegetable ($11), Gado Gado - veggies in peanut sauce ($11), Beef Rendang ($11), Hainanese Chicken Rice ($10), Char Kway Teow($11), Chow Fan Fried Rice ($11), Singapore Spicy Chilli Crab ($$$$$).  

Roti Prata was thick and not paper-thin like you get a Mamak.  The Malay Satay chicken was drenched in oil and fat...for a girl, it wasn't too appetising.  The KangKong Belachan was tasty and had a good amount of shrimp paste but also heavily saturated in oil.  Gado Gado was cooked Malay-style rather than Indonesian-style and bland even though it was topped with plenty of peanut sauce.  The beef rendang was decent but the meat was a little dry.  The Hainanese Chicken and Char Kway Teow was tastu and the overall two better dishes of the night.  The Chow Fan rice had ~5 large prawns but completely bland and the rice was hard!  As for the Singapore Chilli tasted ok but completely overpriced. 

Nonya has abandoned the notion of simple and tasty Malay hawker food.  It plays on its modern-decor, clean Asian restaurant-feel to attract its customers and charge high prices for underwhelming dishes.  Service was terrible.  Also for large groups with 8+ people, you'll likely be seated in the hallway of the adjacent Asian mall...aka - outside the main restaurant.  

Do not anticipate returning since Sydney has many more Malaysian restaurants serving exponentially better food, but just in a less-hip environment. 

Nonya on Urbanspoon

Sapore della Vigna, Leichhardt

First time to the Italian Forum, I was excited to try some true Italian cuisine.  It was a Friday night but surprisingly not too busy.  We immediately got seated and was presented with a huge many options!

As a fan of pappardelle pasta, I opted for the daily special of Braised Lamb Shank with Black Pepper Pappardelle (~$28).  Large amounts of ribbon pasta filled the plate, combined with a tomato-based sauce.  A large lamb shank sat on the top, setting the scene for a yummy and hearty meal.  As I dug into the dish, I noticed some of the pasta was still clamped in chunks.  It was quite unique though, having black pepper embedded into the pasta ribbons.  Although the lamb meat fell off the bone, it was a little dry, so not too enjoyable when eating in large amounts.  The tomato sauce did help to offset the dry-ness, making it more tasty.

Braised Lamb Shank with Black Pepper Pappardelle (~$28)

We also got the Spicy seafood Linguine.  It came out temperature hot and beautifully presented, however it lacked the spicy kick except for when you ate the actual chill pepper.  It was however filled with prawns, scallops, mussels, clams and tomato cubes.  The pasta was cooked too al dante for me, and unlikely to have been freshly made that day.

Spicy Seafood Linguini (~25)

Consider this to be mass-made Italian food, quality and taste was good but overpriced.  There is seating both inside and outside the restaurant and can cater to large groups and/or parties.  Took us at least a good 15 mins and 4 tries of the waiter to get our bill.  Very welcoming to get us in the door, but took forever for us to pay and leave.

Sapore on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Petaling Street, Sydney CBD

I always crave Malaysian foods, here I am to try it out.  Petaling Street serves Malaysian Hawker food, according to their restaurant menu.  Standing at the front entrance, you think it's a long, narrow restaurant that seats only a small number of patrons.  Little do you know, there is a second floor that expands out into a much bigger dining hall. 

We had the Chicken Curry Laksa, which came out fairly quickly once ordered.  Filled to the brim with piping hot broth, the bowl had substantial amount of chicken, fish cakes, bean curd and bean sprouts, and included both thick egg noodles and vermicelli noodles.  Curry broth was spicy and very flavourful - a pleasant surprise to other bland broths I've had in the past.
#56.  Chicken Curry Laksa ($10.80)

We also had #40. Fried Koay Teow ($10.80).  A huge plate of flat rice noodles, mixed with seafood, bean sprouts and Chinese sausage.  Again, very good flavours which hits the spot.  Didn't notice any MSG afterwards either, which is a plus!

All in all, Petaling Street could be my new "to-go" dining place for a quick and cheap eat.  Satisfies all the cravings and doesn't blow the bank!  I'm hungry for their food just thinking about it... Highly recommended!

 Petaling Street: Malaysian Hawker Food on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Baba Laksa House, CBD

Several workmates had suggested this so come here on a weekday to try it out.  Located in the Grace Hotel on York St, its a pretty central location that fills up quickly once lunchtime rolls around.  We got there at 12.30pm and I was slightly worried about not being able to find a table.  Luckily for us, a couple was just finishing up and I quickly slid into their vacant seat :)

Baba Laksa has quite a diverse set of lunch options - ranging from rice places, to laksa, to soup noodles.  We choose the Beef Rendang with Rice, and the Singapore Har Mee.  The Beef Rendang was presented on a long plate, filled half with white rice and half with beef chucks.  Texture of the meat was a little dry for me, and although there was plenty of rendang sauce...there wasn't too many chucks of meat - maybe 7 pieces?!

The Singapore Har Mee was quite good.  Noodles in a tangy and light broth, filled with plenty of chicken meat and prawns.  I think I counted at least 5 prawns, which is pretty impressive!  These days, it seems like you are lucky to get more than 3 :D  A small amount of chinese vegetables and bean spouts was included, and the bowl was topped with fried onions and half a boiled egg.  For those that want a bit more heat, you can add extra chill to spice it up.  Baba serves their laksas and soup noodles in long, oval-shapped bowls.  Takes it one step up from the old, chipped, plastic bowls that usually goes together with this type of street food!
Singapore Har Mee Noodles (~$11)

Baba Laksa house is a place to grab a casual bite - Quick service, right amount of tables/seating, and decent food.  Wasn't a fan of the beef rendang but would go back for the Singapore Har Mee.  Although Baba is situated in a hotel lobby, its not a "hotel-type" restaurant...its simple food, nothing fancy.

BaBa Laksa House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Etch Restaurant, CBD

We came to this restaurant solely wanting dessert! :) 

Etch is located inside the Sydney Intercontinental , with a private entrance to the side of the hotel.  We had previously read the menu on their website , but as you enter the lobby of the restaurant, the "flower pattern" located on their website actually is a true reflection of the restaurant's ambiance.  Unlike most of the modern hotels these days (W or Westin in particular), entering Etch takes you back to grandma's house that's filled with antique chairs, old fashioned decor, and walls that are still lined with wallpaper.  Does wallpaper still exist?  haha :)

We started off with the Pavlova platter, which contained of mini pavlova shells, chocolate mousse domes, and ice cream.  Given the menu had 'pavlova' in the dessert's name, what came out was not what we had envisioned at all.  After tasting it, I would call it a deconstructed meringue, definately not a pavlova.  The meringue shells were crunchy and hollow on the inside, but no soft or silky texture of a pavlova base.  The mousse domes was quite dense but good, however the ice cream was pretty regular. 

Although the bottom of the dessert plate was lined with chocolate-lines, there was not enough of it to be able to lift it off the plate.  Guess it was solely a decorative-effort rather than an accompliment to the dish.  As much as I love most dessert, I felt this one was just 'meh'.  Even as I write this post, I noticed the website has been updated and it is no longer offered on the menu - trust me, you aren't missing much.

Mixture of Pavlova and Ice cream ($16)
Onto the next dessert tray - the Caramel date tart.  From the description on the menu, it does give the impression that it may be similar to a stick date pudding/tart.  But!  Obviously what came out was nothing like it. 

The tart was simply that - a thin layer of caramel followed by a layer of date filling, all on top of a shortbread crust.  Kinda like a pumpkin pie...except with dates.  A scoop of burnt butter ice cream accompanied it on the side, though I couldn't really taste the "burnt-ness" that it's name suggests.  And although of the two desserts, I personally liked this one better, it was still just 'ok'. 
Caramel date tart, burnt butter ice cream, 
Earl Grey tea syrup  ($16)
Based on the quality of these two desserts, I'm sceptical to return to Etch for dinner.  Etch - I really did want to like you, but something special would need to happen to convenience me to change my mind!

Etch on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Australian Youth Hotel, Glebe

Came here on a weekend and was pleasantly surprised by the quaint, rustic restaurant located at the back of the pub. We chose to sit in the main dining area, but there's option to sit in the outside courtyard.

The menu is Modern Australian, so we started with the Seared Scallops wrapped with pancetta.  Scallops were cooked nicely however a little on the small side.
Seared scallops in pancetta, with pumpkin purée, thyme roasted cherry tomato ($16/$28) 

For mains, had the Spiced Lamb Salad.  Portion size was perfect, filled with chucks of roast pumpkin that was soft and had a slightly sweet taste.  A large amount of shredded lamb filled the plate, though meat was slightly dry in texture.  However, the dish was still quite enjoyable and filling, especially with the large macadamia nuts that scatted the plate.

Spiced lamb salad with honey roast pumpkin, macadamia and fetta ($17)

Also had Wagyu steak.  When it came out, the cut of the meat looked more like a tenderloin steak (roll-like shape), than a regular steak cut.  When we cut into it, meat was cooked perfectly to medium-rare.  Wasn't a fan of the string fries that came on the side either, since I usually prefer the thick-cut fries.  They were heavily fried to give it a crunchy chip, but also had little potato taste since they were so thin.

‘Cabassi & Rea’ Wagyu minute steak, 600 day grain fed, marble score 7 Central QLD

Saw across the table that other diners were digging into their Beef and Guinness Stout pie with mash and a puff pastry lid ($18).  Looked pretty good so might give that a try next time.

AYH has pretty decent Australian fare food at reasonable prices.  Venue is clean, neat and quite fancy for a pub setting, good service too!  Perfect for a date night without feeling like you made an effort :)  Worth a visit if you are in the area. 

Australian Youth Hotel on Urbanspoon

Friday, 4 May 2012

Barramundi Cafe, CBD

Came to Barramundi Cafe on a Friday evening looking for some casual Modern Australian dining.  Since I walk past it every day going to work, thought it would be nice to try it for a change.

Getting at table at 6.30pm was no problem.  We were promptly seated, and and asked if we had a voucher - which we did not.  As it progressed through the night, it seemed like most diners had a Groupon/Scoopon voucher for the seafood platter mains and a bottle of wine. 

We were content with the a la carte menu, of which we chose the Crispy skinned salmon fillet on a mushroom cous cous ,tomato salsa and minted yoghurt.  Salmon was quite a large portion, cooked perfectly with a crispy skin.  The cous cous underneath was enormous, with a scattering of enoki mushroom throughout.  Couldn't taste the mint in the yoghurt, but the combination of the cool yoghurt with the salmon together make it smooth and refreshing to eat.

Crispy skinned salmon fillet on a mushroom cous cous ,tomato salsa and minted yoghurt ($26)

We also had the Mixed platter of Northern Territory barramundi fillet, soft shell crab, prawn skewer, calamari served with garden salad ,chips and homemade tartare sauce.  I was disappointed in this dish - the fillet was skimpy and soggy, the batter for the others was heavy and overwhelming, and the chips were pretty dull too.  A fish and chip shop could have done about the same but with less of the price!  The garden salad was drenched heavily in the dressing, making it limp.  Come to think of it, without the tartare sauce, everything would have been dry. 

Mixed platter of Northern Territory barramundi fillet,soft shell crab,prawn skewer,calamari served with garden salad ,chips and homemade tartare sauce ($25)

For dessert, we tried the Sticky date pudding served warm with ice cream since its a staple Aussie treat I haven't had for 6+ years :)  It came out promptly - a large hot slice surrounded by large amounts of toffee syrup.  Quite tasty but was more like a dry version of a date cake, and not as moist as I was expecting.  The toffee syrup did help, but with all that sugar, it'd better make it great!  Ice cream was just the regular vanilla ice-cream, would have been better if it was vanilla-bean but that's just me being picky.

Sticky date pudding served warm with ice cream ($9)

For the price of the food, would have expected a little better than what we got.  I did enjoy the salmon fillet, since it was by far the best dish of the night.  Would only return for a corporate lunch/dinner, but if work is paying, I'd prefer to try something else :D

Barramundi Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Gumshara Ramen, Chinatown

Came to Gumshara Ramen with super high expectations based on other reviews.  Brought my US friend too, since he is a ramen-nazi and was hoping to impress him with this place.

Took us a little while to find the shop since it is tucked away inside a food court in Dixon lane.  Ordered the Tonkotsu Ramen with egg.  Broth was very, VERY heavy...more like syrup than broth in my option.  It wasn't seasoned, and was very fatty.  Pork slices were just mehh too.  Ate only the egg and the bamboo shoots and left the rest.  Was very disappointment...prefer Ramen Dojo in San Mateo x100 better! *sigh*

Gumshara Ramen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Goshu Ramen Tei, CBD

Have been on a search for ramen so today I wondered into here for lunch since it's quite close to work. There are two Japanese Ramen restaurants right next to each other, but I always seem to choose Goshu Ramen Tei over the other one.

Had the Combination Seafood Shoyu Ramen. Portion size was ginormous! Lots of noodles that were cooked al dente, and on top was scattered lots of vegetables, seafood and egg! Very satisfying and could not finish the whole bowl.

Goshu ranks as one of the better ramen places I've been to so far in Sydney, though not the best that I've had.  Great for a quick bite and enjoy the sun in an outdoor seating.

Combination Seafood Shoyu Ramen (~$14)

Goshu Ramen Tei on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Bambini Trust Wine & Bar, CBD

Came here on a weeknight and was surprised to see how packed this restaurant was!  Nearly all the tables were full and we were lucky to even get a tiny table which was jammed near the front of the walk-away.

We weren't going to miss this chance so we squeezed in quickly and got seated.  The waiter was friendly though a little distracted with addressing and chatting with seems there might be quite a few regulars here.  From this first impression, was slightly curious on quality of food this place serves.

We were offered bread rolls after we placed our order - something that I was used to in the US but less here in Sydney.  Shared the large Prawn appetiser (daily special) which was quite tasty and well seasoned.  Then moved onto the Cone Bay Barramundi.  The fish was pan-fried with a crispy skin - my favourite part.  It sat on a bed of puree and accompanied with mushrooms and spinach.  It was quite a light, delightful dish, and very satisfying.

CONE BAY BARRAMUNDI with Cauliflower Puree, mushrooms, spinach & Horseradish Vinaigrette (~$36)
Interior of the restaurant is dark and swanky, but in an old-fashioned sort of way.  It almost has a musky feel as you entering into it's mysterious, hidden location.  Definitely book in advance to avoid missing a spot, since I'm sure its a favourite with work crowds looking to impress their clients.

Bambini Trust Wine Room on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Scholar, Canberra

Yum Cha is a family get-together meal and today was no exception.  We arrived around 1pm, and waited ~15mins before being seated.  As we start ordering, I noticed how few carts were going around.  And for those that did come by, it was the same one that had passed earlier.  We order the regular staple dishes - Har Gaw (Prawn Dumplings), Siu Mai, BBQ Pork buns, chicken feet plus a few others.  However in comparison to other Yum Cha places, the variety was terrible!  It became so bad we had to order two plates of noodles, since there was literally nothing to eat.

We had the Combination Chow Mein (with soft noodle) and the Sliced-Pork Rice Noodles.  Noodles took a little while before it came, but when it did, they were pretty tasty.  The waitress that served us could not understand what we were trying to order, and her manager did not seem to care either, when she tried to flag him down to help.   Dessert-wise - there was no dessert cart :)  You would have been lucky to get egg tarts, but no sesame balls or other items, at least not in the ~2 hours we were there.

On a positive note, the venue has been updated a little (its located upstairs where New Shanghai used to be) and each chair had nice seat coverings, same as those used for a Chinese wedding banquet meal.  They also take reservations over the phone for lunch.  However, I wonder if we forgot to request that they reserve us some food? 

The Scholar
23 Woolley St,
Dickson, ACT
The Scholar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Chicken Gourmet, Canberra

If you have ever stayed out in Civic till wee hours of the morning, you'll more than likely know Chicken Gourmet!  Known for great hangover/after drinking food, this place is packed late on a Friday and Saturday with those wanting just that.

Tonight was the first time I had been back there in many years. Most people order a combination of chicken pieces, chips, or burgers.  We ordered the first two items and food was collected and paid for within 10 secs.  For me, the Crinkle-Cut Chips were the highlights...I semi-wished I had not eaten dinner previously just so I can indulge in this goodness!

Crinkle Cut Chips - Courtesy of Chicken Gourmet
Chicken Salt - must add!

We order them with gravy which was poured on top, and once we opened up the bag, we also added a scoop of chicken salt on the side, available free as a condiment.  Chips were not overcooked nor saturated with oil.  Rather, they were crispy, non-greasy and stayed that way until we finished the whole bag! 

Its been a long time since I've had such great chips  :)  Thank you Chicken Gourmet reminding me of your existance - don't ever change!

Chicken Gourmet
Shop 132, City Walk, Civic (next to King O'Malleys)
Chicken Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Friday, 13 April 2012

Cafe Sydney, Circular Quay

Cafe Sydney - heard so much about this restaurant even before I came, so there was quite a bit of an expectation coming here tonight.  Known for its food as well as spectacular views, this restaurant was always on my list of to-dos.

Situated on the 5th floor of Custom House, you enter through the main lobby, passing the library before heading to the elevators.  As you arrive at the restaurant, you'll notice that the restaurant bar is dark and swanky, filled with large over sized chairs that beckon you to sit down.  Reading the drinks menu here can be a little challenging, but the waiters know this and promptly arrive with a solution - a book light to clip onto the menu!  Quite novel :)

Once we get seated at our table, we instantly notice the beautiful, open view of the harbour bridge...absolutely stunning!  Now I just hope the food is just as good!

View of the Harbour @ Cafe Sydney

I started with the scallop appetiser since I'm always a fan of seafood.  The presentation was great and the orange sauce on the scallops was pretty tasty.  Only comment would be the scallops were kind of small..together with all the bright colours of the dish, it was nearly hidden.
Seared scallops, pickled carrot, quinoa, red vein sorrel, crispy pancetta ($27)

I also tried the carpaccio dish.  This dish did not have much "omph" to it.  The slices of carpaccio were quite thin, and when you pick it up, it looks like it is going to fall apart from the way the fish was sliced.  Did not taste much of the vinaigrette at all.  In fact, it was just very thinly cut pieces of sashimi, which for the price, i would have preferred just that.
Kingfish and ocean trout carpaccio, zucchini, fennel, radish, creme fraiche, citrus vinaigrette ($26)

For the mains, I choose the barramundi (fish) dish which I quite enjoyed.  The fish was not over-cooked, and the fish skin on top was very crispy.  I noticed others on my table with the same dish but did not eat the skin - Personally, I think they missed the best part!  It was accompanied by a croquette and a creamy salad, which reminded me of coleslaw but 10x more rich.  A good dish overall, would rank this as "safe" rather than anything of a wow-factor.

Cone Bay barramundi, Moreton Bay bug croquette, celeriac remoulade, anchovy butter ($39)

As dessert, I had the peach tart, which replaced the rhubarb tart that was on the menu.  It was served with a raspberry ice cream that sat top of a sprinkling of crystallised sugar/toffee.  Together, the icecream-toffee combination was wonderful. The tart itself was quite good, but again, nothing that particularly stood out against the norm.  In fact, I would have preferred to pair a vanilla bean ice-cream with the Peach tart, instead of raspberry.
Warm Peach tart, pistachio crumble, fresh raspberry ice cream ($18)
Had a small taste of the banana dessert too.  Presentation was beautiful, taste was just ok.
Fried banana, peanut butter parfait, salted caramel peanuts, chocolate ice cream ($18)

All in all, Cafe Sydney will rank as a restaurant with magnificent views, serving beautifully presented food.  The Sydney views, dim lights and swanky decor are the stand-outs in the dining experience here.  Food was quite solid, but nothing to overwhelm the mind or palette. 

Café Sydney on Urbanspoon

Monday, 9 April 2012

Lynn Shanghai, CBD

Been meaning to come to Lynn Shanghai for a while, so glad that I finally got a chance to make it here tonight. It had been pouring outside so we nearly missed the front door as we were rushing to get out of the rain. 

Lynn Shanghai is located inside the The Castlereagh Club.  Enter through the revolving doors of the club and continue straight through to enter the double doors of the restaurant.  We were immediately greeted by staff and taken to our seats.  Interior of the restaurant is modern, filled with red and black colour schemes.  A small glass flower ornament with a tea light candle was stationed at each table, creating a warm setting.  The waitress provides you an ordering form to fill our your selections - make sure to choose the right items so to avoid any surprises when the dishes come (as we experienced during our meal that night!)

We started off with the Shanghai Style Hot and Sour Soup, asking for it in "Mild" spiciness.  I found the staff were quite accommodating on removing/reducing spices, so just ask them based on your preference.  Although our soup was 'mild', it was actually still quite spicy - could have been the amount of black pepper added instead of hot chili oil.  Nonetheless, it was quite enjoyable.  Soup was filled with plenty of chicken strips, tofu, black mushroom fungus, and the portion was LARGE in size!  Easily 4 small bowls, which is perfect for sharing.

Shanghai Style Hot and Sour Soup ($7.80)

Next was the Shredded chicken with Bean Jelly in Peanut sauce (Cold Plate).  Again, we asked for it without Chili Oil, which usually is drizzled over the top.  The Bean Jelly noodles were chewy, with a bouncy "QQ" texture.  Cold shredded chicken and cucumber were scattered on top of the noodles, all on top of the peanut sauce.  Flavours were good and did not feel too oily.
Shredded chicken with bean jelly in peanut sauce ($8.80)

Then we moved onto the Sautéed Diced Fish with Corn and Peas, sprinkled with Pine Nuts.  This was my favourite dish!  Apparently this was on the "Chef Specials" menu, so it may be a seasonal item.  Fish was diced and mixed with assorted vegetables and topped with pine nuts.  Was not drenched in sauce, and I liked it was light and not oily at all.  

Sautéed Diced Fish with Corn and Peas, sprinkled with Pine Nuts (~$16.50)

Had to finish the meal with some dessert :)  Choose the Steamed Pumpkin Pastry Dumpling filled with lotus paste.  The glutinous rice pumpkin exterior was soft and chewy, and the lotus filling inside was not too sweet.  Did not particularly "wow" me, but it was good enough to feel satisfied.
Steamed Pumpkin Pastry Dumpling filled with lotus paste ($5.90)
Lynn Shanghai Cuisine
199 Castlereagh Street Sydney NSW 2000

Lynn Shanghai Cuisine on Urbanspoon