Date Archives February 2015

Of flatbreads and pickles: Jasmine 1, Auburn

Large mixed plate from Jasmine 1 in Auburn

A quick Google of Jasmine 1 in Auburn turns up very conflicting results: no one can seem to agree on whether it’s actually part of a chain, whether there’s an affiliation between the different locations, or even whether it’s spelt Jasmin or Jasmine (why did I not take a closer look at the sign when I was there).

But what they can agree on, is that the food is good.

A bowl of Foul: broad beans simmered with lemon juice and garlic, finished with olive oilFoul, $8

Pronounced “Fool”, Foule consists of broad beans simmered with garlic and lemon juice, and topped with a fruity olive oil. As Anthony Bourdain once said of another dish, it “sits like a bag of quarters” in your stomach, but it’s so worth it. A thick stew of tender broad beans are lifted with the sour tang of lemon juice and served with soft Lebanese flatbread.

Well, the flatbread comes with every meal, so I’m assuming that I can pair the two together.

Fried Kibbeh: Seasoned lamb mince enclosed in burghul, shaped into an oval, and fried to a crisp.Fried Kebbeh, $12

And as soon as I saw the word “kibbeh” (kebbeh?), the words “raw lamb” immediately come to mind. And I rarely see restaurants serve this, because of the risks involved in serving people raw, minced meat. Steak tartare is hand-cut, and so’s the Korean yukhoe, but mincing, requires a machine, and that can be an absolute breeding ground for bacteria if not properly maintained.

Unfortunately, my dining partners weren’t quite up for ordering it, so we ended up getting Fried Kebbeh instead!

Fried Kebbeh

These divine oval parcels involve seasoned lamb mince stuffed into a burghul shell, and deep fried into golden brown deliciousness.

Fattoush: Salad of tomato, capsicum, onion, cabbage, mint, and parsley, dressed in lemon juice and olive oil.Fattoush, $8

And we got a salad. Because, EAT YOUR VEGGIES. But no, really, I never realised how INSANELY AWESOME it is to have crunchy bits of deep fried flatbread sitting on top of a salad so well-dressed it’s ready for the Oscars. Maybe it’s not the BEST fattoush in the world – I wouldn’t know really, since I’ve been distracted by it’s greener cousin tabbouli all these years – but it was tasty, and fresh, and one of the more enjoyable salads I’ve had in a while.

Large mixed plate from Jasmine 1 in AuburnLarge Mixed Plate, $36

And then the main event. A Large Mixed Plate, $36, to share. 3 chicken skewers, 3 koftas, and 4 lamb skewers are served with a plate of pickles, and endless flatbreads. Oh, and a garlic sauce that is garlicky enough to repel a bad tinder date, but not quite enough to keep you safe from vampires, a la El Jannah. The kofta was fantastic – and reminded me heaps of the Persian Koobideh, which also involves seasoned minced lamb cooked on a stick – and the lamb kebab was well seasoned and had just the right accents of fat. And I adore lamb fat.

The chicken, not so much, but I’m not a chicken person, much less chicken breast.

The service – which some think is a bit spotty – was actually pretty good when I went – they had a few customers in the restaurant, promptly brought us our menus, and took our orders in a timely fashion. They also served up complimentary cups of hot sweet black tea, which ended the meal on a light, sweet note.

Not that it stopped us from dropping by the amazing bakeries on the way back to the car to get some desserts in!

Jasmine 1
22 Civic Rd
Auburn, NSW 2144
Phone: 02 9643 8426

Jasmine 1 on Urbanspoon

Drive by eating: Sabbaba, Sydney

Falafel from Sabbaba in Westfield Sydney

Falafels are tricky business, and when you add the words franchise or chain in to the mix, you’re really taking a gamble. Now add a picky middle-eastern man, and you’re really skating on thin ice.

Sam speaks constantly about this mysterious falafel man and his cart just down the street where he grew up in Iran, and how he made falafels that were crazy crispy on the outside, and melt-in-your-mouth moist on the inside. Falafels we’ve had in Sydney have since not been up to scratch to him, either ending up soggy, or wayyyyyyy too dry on the inside.

But what about Sabbaba?


The Order: half a dozen mini falafels, and a baklava.

The Taste: the falafels are fried to order, so you’re ensured a hot, tasty bite. The small size gives you a good amount of surface area to ensure maximum crispiness, without compromising on moistness inside, and it just makes all-round deliciousness. The baklava, on the other hand, was just a touch stale, and a bit of a nothing, I’m afraid. I’ve definitely had much better elsewhere.

The Service: It’s a food court store, so no table service to judge here. But they are efficient and polite, and you’re not left standing there staring into the kitchen, hoping to make eye contact with a staff member.

The Convenience: Located in the upstairs food court of Westfield Sydney, they’re pretty easy to get to, especially if you’re already in the CBD. Getting out, however, is a bit of a nightmare since the centre requires you to navigate through the maze of escalators in order to exit the building, so make sure that you allow for the time if you’re on a lunch break.

On the food front, they have a nice mix of ready-made and made-to-order food, so you’re never kept waiting too long for your order. It’s not the fastest though – in order for the freshness of fried-to-order falafels, you’re trading off a little in time.

The Value for Money:They’re not the cheapest option in the CBD – and I’m including Chinatown as part of the CBD – but they are one of the more affordable options in the Westfield food court. And I must say that they’re pretty reliable as a chain, which is invaluable if you’re a time-poor person in the CBD with only 5 minutes to make your decision for lunch. That being said, I’ve never tried their main options, but the snacky type foods receive a big thumbs up from me.

86-100 Market Street, Level 5
Westfield Sydney, NSW 2000
Phone: 02 9223 3315

Sabbaba on Urbanspoon

Ramen O-San, Haymarket

Tonkotsu Ramen from Ramen O-San

Sydney is truly in the grips of pork fever – and I mean the good kind. From crackling, to rolls, to bacon, we are truly all about that pig, bout that pig, no treble.

And right smack in the middle of all the swine craze is the tonkotsu ramen. Believed to have started in the Hakata/Fukuoka region in Japan, this ramen begins with a thick, rich soup made with pork bones simmered for hours, and creamy with emulsified pork fat and gelatin. The thickness and richness of the soup may vary from store to store, but there’s no doubt that the tonkotsu is a signature of the Fukuoka prefecture.

Which is why the first recommendation off the menu at Ramen O-San – the 7th store internationally by Chef Kazuteru Oh after gaining much recognition in Japan – is the Tonkotsu, followed closely by the Sumo Ramen, which is a pork and chicken mixed broth base.

Sumo Ramen from Ramen O-SanSumo Ramen, $12.80

Now this bowl of Sumo Ramen was HUGE. Like this bowl could double up as a sailboat for fictional children’s shows characters. I guess that’s why they call it..sumo.

Never mind, I’m a bit slow on the uptake.

Sumo Ramen Noodles from Ramen O-San

A mixture of pork and chicken broth (vegetarian and Jewish friends, look away) is ladled over thick straight noodles and topped with a heaping mound of bean sprouts and cabbage, and 2 rectangular pieces of kakuni pork – pork belly stewed in a soy based sauce till lip smackingly savoury and fall apart tender.

Like Asian bacon almost, except not fried.

The kakuni pork was a delight for me – salt is my kryptonite, or so says my doctor – and the soup was very manageable, since the chicken broth thinned out the pork broth considerably. I wasn’t, however, as big a fan of the amount of cabbage and bean sprouts in the bowl. I know I know, 5-a-day and all, but it got to the point where there was a bitterness from the veg that overwhelmed the whole bowl like a crew in the midst of mutiny.

Tonkotsu Ramen from Ramen O-SanTonkotsu Ramen, $9.80

I guess I’m a bit more of a simple girl who likes a simple bowl, and the Tonkotsu Ramen in all its porky glory really brought me to a happy place.

Not to mention the slightly more practical size.

Tammi holding a bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen

See? Much more manageable.

Tonkotsu Ramen Noodles from Ramen O-San

The ramen for the Tonkotsu was also much thinner. All the better to slurp up that soup with my dear. says the wolf. The noodles here are slightly softer than I’m used to – it could be the photo taking but I take photos everywhere – but the broth came swinging with the flavours. It was a pure, unadulterated pork flavour, complete with the luxurious finish of pork fat. Texturally not as thick as say, Gumshara, but as I’m informed by more than one Japanese friend, NO ONE makes it as thick as Gumshara. And the thin slices of pork belly on top had just the right amount of tenderness to fat, making this my favourite for the day.

And what does Sam think?

Sam slurping up ramen soup

He says while finishing the rest of the soup in the bowl.

Well, there’s a reason why he’s not a food blogger.

I’d be very interested in trying the other menu items on my next visit – I think I can hear a tsukemen – dry noodles dipped in a thick seafood sauce – calling my name.

Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of Ramen O-San.

Ramen O-San
Shop B01, Dixon House Food Court
Cnr Dixon & Little Hay St
Haymarket, NSW 2000

O-San Ramen on Urbanspoon

Easy Tom Yum Fried Rice

Tom Yum Fried Rice with Vegetables and Shrimp

Even the most eager of home cooks come to a point in their week when they get a bit lazy, and because I’m a night eater (ooh that should be my Super Villain name!) my laziness always comes in the form of not entirely having fresh ingredients at the end of the week, and not wanting to rush to the shops to buy last minute ingredients in the final 5 minutes before they close.

Enter this Easy Tom Yum Fried Rice, made entirely out of ingredients that I keep stocked at home! You’ll notice that my frozen prawns and veg is cooked straight from the freezer – no thawing time! And it works, too, because the prawns are small and the veg is bite-sized. If you have larger pieces of meat that are frozen, they may require a little bit of thawing, unless they were cut before freezing, in which case, substitute away!

But the whole point of this recipe is that it’s more of a guideline: feel free to mix and match ingredients that you might keep on hand, and create effortless deliciousness!

Tom Yum Fried Rice with Vegetables and Shrimp

[yumprint-recipe id=’1′]

Godzirra Sushizilla!

Prawn Roll from Suzhizilla

There’s just something about sushi trains that are just so fascinating for me: the lights, the colours, and the endless varieties of small bites smothered in mayo and teriyaki sauce.

Yeah, I think it’s the mayo that’s got me.

But sucking mayo straight from a Kewpie bottle aside, there’s so much more to a Japanese restaurant than just a sushi train, and Sushizilla in Central Park has become a new favourite in my household not only because of their $2.90 sushi train happy hour (5-9pm every day), but also because of their standout a la carte menu.

Clockwise from top left: Grilled oysters, Chawanmushi, Chippendale Roll, Eel Hamburg, Prawn RollClockwise from top left: Grilled oysters, Chawanmushi, Chippendale Roll, Eel Hamburg, Prawn Roll

I was a bit disappointed that on the day that I go back with my camera there wasn’t any black cod available, but I still maintain that their Miso Black Cod ($13.50) is rocking. Rice essential though, because unless you’d like salty miso flavour that makes your face screw (in which case, high five!), then you might need to temper the miso a little with some steamed rice.

The Prawn Roll was also a standout for me – panko-crumbed prawn is rolled into an inside-out maki roll, and topped with mayo and blowtorched. Mmmmm mayo. The Chawanmushi is also a regular order for me: silky savoury egg custard is studded with edamame, crabmeat, chicken and salmon roe.

Sushi train order

They sushi train, while not as stellar as their a la carte, also feature fresh ingredients and satisfying bites. And at $2.90 per plate during happy hour, this place is packed with students from around the area at dinnertime. 

Go for the cheap sushi, stay for the a la carte! And with extra incentive this time, since Sushizilla is offering 20% off all a la carte menu orders till the end of February 2015!

And you know we love a good discount around here. =)

Central Park
Shop 204 28 Broadway
Chippendale, NSW 2008
Phone: 0438 689 119
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun, 9:00am-9:30pm

Sushizilla on Urbanspoon

Keeping My Cool with T2 Cool Sorts

T2 Cool Sorts Peaches and Cream

I’ve always been fascinated by cocktails and iced teas, probably because the delicate mixing of flavours to me is like alchemy, and that promise of absolute gold at the end of you get it right.

Well this summer, T2 has come up with fruity iced tea mixes, ready for your teapot and a bit of hot water.

T2 Cool Sorts Peaches and Cream

In the T2 Cool Sorts box ($22), you get 5 flavours to try: Banana Riot, Juicy Ginger, Mango Twister, Melon Head and Peaches and Cream.

I really bought the whole box because of the mango – it’s sweet without being too cloying, and refreshingly light and fruity, exactly what you want an iced tea to be. The peach brought similarly refreshing notes, but with less sweetness straight out of the box.

The rest of the tea though, were a bit average for me. The melon did truly tasted like honeydew, and since I’m a bit more of a rock melon sorta gal, it wasn’t quite my thing. The banana had really nice caramel notes, but wasn’t as refreshing as I wanted my iced teas in summer to be.

And the ginger. It may be because I grew up in a culture that likes our flavour strong, but I barely got a hint of ginger, and then not that much else unfortunately. If I feel like ginger, I think I’d stick to my Apple and Ginger Green Tea.

But that being said, I’m still quite happy with my purchase. It gave me a chance to get some ideas and try some new stuff. And that mango, oh that mango!!

Each pack roughly 10 cups, so it’s enough to keep me hydrated for say, a week?

Shame that you can’t get the pack of mango by itself, but you take what you can get, hey?

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Stark Raving…Mad Fo’ Chicks, Eastwood


I’m glad I live in a world where Korean Fried Chicken joints pop up like daisies in the summer. It means variety, choice, and a horizon filled with battered and fried juicy morsels.

And it saddens me when I see what I thought was a busy restaurant all boarded up and closed.
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