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 patrons...it 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