Posts tagged Chatswood

Manpuku Ramen, Chatswood (part 2!)

Hiyashi Chuka, $13.50: Manpuku, Chatswood. Sydney Food Blog

If you think I’m crazy for going to eat ramen in the middle of summer – heck, even I think I’m nuts – then I must be certifiably insane. But good food does wonders, and, as my second afternoon in a summer at Manpuku will attest, really good air-conditioning.

Yeah, 40C heat ain’t got nuthin’ on that air conditioning.


The Order:

Kono Deaini Kanshashite Aijou To Jonetsu Konete Isshoukenmei Tsukutta Uchirano Icchan Sukina Manpuku Shiawase Ramen, $14.90 (with extra ni tamago)
Soy based pork and chicken soup. Pork belly, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, shallots, seaweed sheet with wavy noodles.

Tsukemen, $15.90 (with chashu instead of softened pork rib)
Soy based tokotsu sour dipping soup. Softened pork rib, bamboo shoot, eggs, ultra seaweed sheet and shallots with wavy noodles.

Hiyashi Chuka, $13.50
Cold noodle with chicken soy based sour soup. Comes with ham, cucumber, bean sprouts, egg, tomato, seaweed, snow sprout.


The Food:

When a ramen place has three different types of noodles for their different ramen, you can bet that the choices they make is deliberate, and not much is left to fate.

Chef Suzuki – who got head hunted from another ramen restaurant for those skillz- tells me that Manpuku works with a noodle master, who suggests the best noodle type for that particular soup. A tonkotsu, for example, works best with a dried noodle that provides the best al dente texture that will stand up to such rich broth.

Kono Deaini Kanshashite Aijou To Jonetsu Konete Isshoukenmei Tsukutta Uchirano Icchan Sukina Manpuku Shiawase Ramen, $14.90 (pictured with added egg): Manpuku, Chatswood. Sydney Food BlogKono Deaini Kanshashite Aijou To Jonetsu Konete Isshoukenmei Tsukutta Uchirano Icchan Sukina Manpuku Shiawase Ramen, $14.90 (pictured with added egg)

Our first bowl of ramen was the Kono Deaini Kanshashite Aijou To Jonetsu Konete Isshoukenmei Tsukutta Uchirano Icchan Sukina Manpuku Shiawase Ramen, also affectionately known as the Long Name Ramen. And you know what, the name was not the only thing that was a mouthful. (Heh? Geddit? Ramen joke) The soup was a great middle ground between the pork and the chicken, rich without being unctuous, with plenty of delicate flavour throughout. And if, like me, you yearn for something a bit less delicate, then I would suggest adding the garlic paste for bonus points. Fresh garlic is blended with drinking sake to mellow it out slightly, and it brings an amazing Victoria-Secret level body to the soup.

Hiyashi Chuka, $13.50:Manpuku, Chatswood. Sydney Food BlogHiyashi Chuka, $13.50

The Hiyashi Chuka, on the other hand, was very much my speed. Springy cold noodles get topped with finely sliced ham, egg, cucumber, seaweed, tomato and bean sprouts, and tossed in a chicken stock/soy/mustard dressing. I swear, if this is a typical salad, no one would ever complain about eat salad ever again. It was tangy, refreshing, and just so SO moreish. Chef Suzuki says that the sourness means that he never gets tired of eating this noodle, and I’m inclined to agree. It felt so light on the stomach, and my palate was partying with such a riot of flavours that I just kept eating till well beyond the point that I was full. Shame that it’s only here for the summer season, though. Personally, I’d find a reason to eat this all year round!

Tsukemen, $15.90: Manpuku, Chatswood. Sydney Food BlogTsukemen, $15.90

We also tried the new and improved Tsukemen, with a less salty gravy/broth for you to dip your noodles into. This time, we also had the chashu (sliced rolled pork) instead of the softened pork rib like the last time, but I must say, if I had to do all over, it’ll be the pork rib again…and again, and again. There’s nothing like a first love, huh.


The Service:

Chef Suzuki from Manpuku Ramen, and his team: Manpuku, Chatswood. Sydney Food BlogChef Suzuki (left) and his team

I know it’s not the fairest thing to say, since I was invited as a guest, but if you can, have a chat to Chef Suzuki, because that just augmented my experience and made me hyper aware of every element of love that went into the deceptively simple bowl (bowls!) sitting in front of me. Knowing that the soup, for example, takes at least six hours of simmering to perfect, or that the noodles are rolled thrice with a $100,000 machine to give you that body and texture, just makes me thankful for all the labor that goes into creating the ramen experience at Manpuku.

He even told me that he tried pressure cooking the stock to speed up the process, but that created a “brown” smell (from the Maillard reaction) that he wasn’t after. How cool is that?!

Otherwise, I like the efficiency of service still, much like the last time. Ramen still came out at lightning speeds, and the staff were polite and lovely across the board. Nothing out of the ordinary, but super pleasant, like the last time we were there. ?


Value for money:

We always knew that the ramen here isn’t the cheapest around, have you seen the portions?! It’s huge! I know you can probably get a cheaper lunch elsewhere in Chatswood, but for the portions that you’re getting and the quality, I think it’s a pretty good bang for your buck.

Also, I only just realised how many items there actually are on the menu, so there’s lots of variety and something for everyone! Score.


The Vibe:

It’s still super chill, and the the vibe is still really relaxed. Maybe it’s the 40C day that we rocked up on, but it’s totally the place that you rock up in shorts and flip flops, and have a casual bowl of noodles.

And they still yell random things whilst cooking your ramen. Tee hee. How’s that for atmosphere?


And finally,

I’ve always known that ramen broth takes forever and that there are different noodle types for your soup, so in that sense, Manpuku isn’t reinventing the wheel here. But I’m sure there are plenty of ramen shops that don’t spend the time, and for that I’m grateful still.

It’s also really interesting that Chef Suzuki, like Chef Haru of Ramen Ikkyu, has a fine dining background. It gives him a different understanding of how to balance flavours, and brings a new perspective to a very traditional art form. To quote him, there is no right or wrong ramen: it is an art form, and his experiences allow him to express the art in different ways.

Oh and if you’re wondering what a chef who is around ramen all day every day eats?

Cereal. Chocopops, to be exact!

Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of Manpuku.
Manpuku
226 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood, Sydney
Phone: +61 2 94111021
Website: www.ramenmanpuku.com/

Manpuku Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hello…Kitty Diner, Chatswood

Gee Gee Burger, $12: Hello Kitty Diner, Chatswood. Sydney Food Blog Review

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what the reviews say. If you put a dish like Crispy Lamb Ribs on the menu, I will show up. And I will drag Christine and Simon along with me. Like how we ended up at the Hello Kitty Diner…

And made this.

Our Freakshake creation: Hello Kitty Diner, Chatswood. Sydney Food Blog ReviewWhat happens when you cross a milkshake with a doughnut and a soft serve?

Simon is not impressed.

Simon is not impressed: Hello Kitty Diner, Chatswood. Sydney Food Blog Review


The Order:

Crispy lamb ribs, $10
With sweet soy, mint, sesame seeds

Southern fried chicken, $10
With waffles, bourbon barrelled maple syrup

Gee Gee Burger, $12
Korean fried chicken, cucumber kimchi, pickled vegetables, Asian slaw

Sweet potato fries, $6
With Miso Mayonnaise

Doughnut Soft Serve

Doughnut

Yuzu curd and white chocolate milkshake, $8


The Food:

Never has there been such a roller coaster of emotions when it comes to a menu. First I got all excited because Warren Turnbull of Chur Burger fame (and just all round chef who knows his food) designed the menu. I mean, how wrong can it get, right?

Then the deluge of reviews came through, and let’s just say that people were less than impressed. Quite a bit less. Reviews ran the gamut of saying that you’d go more for the kitsch of the theme than the food, to saying that it was downright nasty (I’m paraphrasing here). Either way, it didn’t look good for our tastebuds, but I was adamant on getting my hands on those lamb ribs.

Crispy lamb ribs, $10: Hello Kitty Diner, Chatswood. Sydney Food Blog ReviewCrispy lamb ribs, $10

Ahh lamb ribs. My second favourite of the rib variety – after beef ribs, of course – and I’m glad to say that this doesn’t change things. Lightly coated with corn flour, there was just the slightest crunch before it gives way to unctuous meat, the richness of which is enhanced with the sweet soy sauce. Because sugar is delicious, amirite?

Southern fried chicken, $10: Hello Kitty Diner, Chatswood. Sydney Food Blog ReviewSouthern fried chicken, $10

The rest though, didn’t fare quite as well and fell into the “okay” category. The chicken in the Southern Fried Chicken was pretty decent, but the sad state of the waffles let it down. It was stale, and tasted like waffles that had been pre-cooked and heated in the microwave. Even the novelty of having it Hello-Kitty-shaped couldn’t save it.

Gee Gee Burger, $12: Hello Kitty Diner, Chatswood. Sydney Food Blog ReviewGee Gee Burger, $12

The Gee Gee was in a similar boat, with a decent balance of flavours, but dry bun. It’s like you could see where they were trying to go with it, but they never quite got there.

Sweet potato fries, $6: Hello Kitty Diner, Chatswood. Sydney Food Blog ReviewSweet potato fries, $6

The Sweet Potato Fries were pretty edible, but no where close to the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had in Sydney. Even with the miso mayo – and you know I’ll eat anything that’s got miso in it.

Doughnut: Hello Kitty Diner, Chatswood. Sydney Food Blog Review Doughnut

Doughnut flavoured soft serve: Hello Kitty Diner, Chatswood. Sydney Food Blog ReviewDoughnut flavoured soft serve

Of the sweets, the Doughnut and Doughnut soft serve was dutifully adorned with Hello Kitty themed decorations, but when it comes down to it, the ice cream tasted like plain vanilla – which is okay except when you’re selling it as doughnut flavoured – and the strawberry flavoured doughnut was so sweet that I’m still buzzing from the sugar high days later.

The real travesty, though, was the Yuzu Curd and White Chocolate Milkshake. It’s as if who made this never had yuzu before. It was faintly chemical in taste, and on top of everything, runny like the texture of milk. We all took a sip each, and the glass was banished to the end of the table, behind the water glasses.

I guess what Simon said really summed up the food, ” I wouldn’t be angry if I was served this again”. Sure, the menu is designed by a really good chef, but it’s a bit like Apple being designed in California – no one said anything about execution. With mostly okay-but-not-mind-blowing dishes, you really start to wonder how much the novelty of it all is really carrying the diner.

Food: 0.5/1


The Service:

The Hello Kitty Diner seems to be staffed mostly by teenage girls, which seems fitting given the theme, no? They aren’t the most experienced of staff, but at least they don’t look like they were tortured into being there, which is saying a lot. They were polite enough, and we really appreciated the little things, like waters being replenished efficiently, but not much personality otherwise.

Well, this one girl did seemed sorry that we pretty much left the milkshake untouched, but that’s about it.

Service: 0.5/1


Value for money:

It’s not the most filling meal you could have at Chatswood, but $10 for a plate of ribs is not too shabby either. The burger was of a similar price and size to Chur, except for the drop in quality, so it’s also not the worst thing you could spend your money on.

But really, you’re there for the kitsch. Let’s not kid ourselves.

Value for money: 0.5/1


The Vibe:

I actually love how the diner is decked out. It actually feels like how I imagined a Hello Kitty Diner would look like as a 10 year-old, and I like how they get the message across without shoving your face in it.

And we all know how I love a good theme. 😉

The Vibe: 1/1


And finally,

There are no illusions here. The Hello Kitty Diner isn’t the epitome of fine dining, and you know what? It never said it was either. It’s there for the fans and people who love the novelty, and by the way, you can eat there too. All we could ask of it is that the food doesn’t suck, and in that regard, we were pleasantly surprised.

Just don’t order that Yuzu curd and white chocolate milkshake. Just please. Don’t.

Bonus Points: 0/1

This meal was independently paid for.
Hello Kitty Diner
The District, Chatswood Interchange
436 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood, Sydney
Website: https://www.facebook.com/hellokittydineraustralia/

Hello Kitty Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hawker Lane, Chatswood 

Food Spread, Hawker Lane: Sydney Food Blog Review

I don’t know if you spend much time in Chatswood, but it feels like Westfield has been in construction for the longest time. Well, it’s finally ready, and what used to be a set of three or so restaurants has now become an entire food court, called Hawker Lane.

I was lucky enough to be invited to sample some of the food stalls, and stack it up to the hawker experience of Asia.

Chachu

Lamb Boti Kathi, Chachu: Sydney Food Blog Review Lamb Boti Kathi

Serving up Indian street food, this father/daughter team (I’m assuming – there didn’t seem a good time to ask, but the dynamics sure looked that way) looked fairly new to the food industry. We were recommended Kathis, which is a kind of wrap filled with egg, filling (this is usually meat or some other protein), salad and sauce. Of what we tried, the Lamb Boti was delicious, with chunks of lamb pieces, a hit of sweet chilli, freshness from spanish onion, and heft from the flatbread. The lamb was a touch too cooked for my taste, but not everyone can serve up pink lamb in a food court situation. Fair enough.

Oh, and the Spicy Fries were great munchy food, too. Couldn’t stop picking at it.

Spicy Fries, Chachu: Sydney Food Blog ReviewSpicy Fries

There seemed to be some confusion amongst the staff, but I’m going to chalk that up to the newness of the restaurant. I’m sure it’ll only get better as they settle in, but in the meantime, they have enough charm and personality to tide them through.

ChaChu
Hawker Lane, Level 2, Westfield Chatswood
1 Anderson Street, Chatswood, Sydney
Phone: (02) 9412 1555

ChaChu's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Manpuku, Chatswood

Manpuku, Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog Review

Not owning a car sucks. You know why it sucks? It sucks because when you see restaurants in say, Kingsford, that you want to visit, you have to either take a bus or not get to go at all.

Oh, and I hate taking the bus.

So when I found out that there was a Manpuku conveniently located in Chatswood, I just knew that I had to go get my ramen on.

The Order:

Miso, $14.90 + $3
Miso based pork and chicken stock, bamboo shoot, pork belly, seaweed sheet, shallots and egg + spicy bomb and extra egg

Tsukemen, $15.90
Soy based tokotsu sour dipping soup, with softened pork rib, bamboo shoot, egg, ultra seaweed sheet and shallots

Okonomi stick (Musashi), $5.90
2 skewers of Japanese and seafood pancake, mayonnaise, powdered seaweed bonito flake and Japanese BBQ sauce.

Manpuku mini rice bowl, $3.90
Pork belly, mushed egg, bean sprouts, shallots, sesame, mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce.

The Food:

Manpuku runs like a well-oiled machine, and the food comes out hot and fast. Every bowl looks exactly like the picture in the menu, and they’re clearly hitting all the marks like seasoned performers.

Okonomi stick (Musashi), $5.90. Manpuku, Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog Review Okonomi stick (Musashi), $5.90

The Okonomi Stick is a must-order if you like Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake). Tender pancake is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and topped with bonito flakes, mayonnaise and Japanese BBQ sauce. AND IT’S ON A STICK!! Extra awesome.

Miso, $14.90 + $3. Manpuku, Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog Review Miso, $14.90

The Miso ramen featured a rich miso pork and chicken stock, with wafer thin slices of rolled pork belly, menma (pickled bamboo shoots) and ni-tamago (soy marinaded egg). I strongly recommend getting the Spicy Bomb – a ball of chilli flavoured paste gets stirred into the soup, pushing that rich flavour over the edge…of absolute GLORY.

Tsukemen, $15.90. Manpuku, Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog ReviewTsukemen, $15.90

The Tsukemen was lighter than I’m used to – all the Tsukemen I’ve had in the past involved noodles dipped in a gravy-like sauce, and here, the sauce was more soup-like. Much less intense in flavour, but on the upside, I’m not left constantly reaching for water to wash down all the salt. Oh, and the Softened Pork Rib! Tender fibres of pork meat is layered with unctuous collagen and fat, because nature knows what she’s doing, and Manpuku knows just how to treat it.

So. Freaking. Delicious.

Manpuku mini rice bowl, $3.90. Manpuku, Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog ReviewManpuku mini rice bowl, $3.90

We tried the Manpuku mini rice bowl, partially because it’s so darned cheap! If I was dining alone and wanted something light, I do think that the mini bowls can function as an actual meal. The mushed egg in the Manpuku bowl added an odd sort of graininess, and I’m not quite sure that it worked with the blanched bean sprouts. Not my cup of tea, but still cooked well regardless.

The Service:

When we had to write down our names on a clipboard, I thought that we were in for a long wait. Apparently not. We weren’t even 5 minutes in and we were ushered to a table, complete with menus. They were efficient and speedy without being invasive, and never have I felt like I was in more competent hands.

But just when they seemed like they might be professional to the point of being rigid, they came through for me. Washoku card holders get a free drink with their meal (have I mentioned how much I love free shizz?), and it just so happened that I left my card at home. Our waitress very nicely said that if I could show her my login screen on my phone, then she’d put through the deal for me.

How nice is that?!

They were also extremely thoughtful about things like cutlery, and reinforced the feeling that we were being very well looked after.

Value for money:

Considering that we basically had enough food to feed three people comfortably (or in this case, 2 very greedy people), I was quite surprised to see that our bill was only slightly over $40. At an average of $15 a pop, the ramen can be considered on the pricey side, but for the absolute monster portions, and food so lovingly laboured over, you’d be hard pressed to find better value for money elsewhere in Sydney.

Oh and for the extra greedy of us (sometimes a girl’s just gotta eat!), there’s also kaedama starting at $1.50 for a half serve. It’s basically the option to order more noodles for your leftover soup, because God forbid you should leave Manpuku hungry! ?

The Vibe:

I quite like how Manpuku straddles the fine line between no-nonsense and well, whimsical, for lack of a better word. Everyone goes about their business with fantastic efficiency, but the whole restaurant is decorated with hanging ropes and stained wood.

And when I say the whole restaurant, I do mean all of it, including the toilet. Yes, there is a giant wooden ship-shaped sculpture in the toilet, with rope and jaunty plastic flowers and a touch of glitter, just for Christmas.

Have a look when you go. Go on.

Also, don’t let the constant chorused yelling scare you. Besides the expected “irashaimase!” (Welcome) when you walk in the door, there is also a specific call-and-answer type war cry (for lack of a better word) that comes straight from the kitchen. Have no idea what it is, but I quite like the enthusiasm of it all.

And finally,

I’m so glad I’ve finally ticked Manpuku off the Eat List. It checked all the boxes for me – food quality, value for money, service – and I can’t wait to go back for a lunchtime treat. The only downside is that because they’re so specialised in doing ramen well, they don’t have many options for other foods, meaning that you can only go with other ramen lovers like yourself.

But those are the best people anyway, right? ?

This meal was independently paid for.
Manpuku
226 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood, Sydney
Phone: +61 2 94111021
Website: www.ramenmanpuku.com/

Manpuku Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

PappaRich, Chatswood 

Fried Banana Fritters, PappaRich Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog Review

Asian cookbooks lie. They lie through their teeth. Good, authentic Asian food is damn hard to recreate at home, not to mention the list of specialty ingredients that’s as long as your arm.

As a Singaporean who cooks I know what I’m talking about.

So whenever I feel a bit homesick and want some familiar food, I’m always faced with a quandary – the Southeast Asian food in Sydney simply cannot be compared to the experience of dining on street food (sometimes the risk of food poisoning is just what you need for a little evening excitement), but it’s still better than what I’ve got the energy to make at home. Then what?

My previous visits to PappaRich have been something of a mixed bag. The first visit fulfilled a craving; the second left me wanting like an inconsiderate lover. Maybe third time’s the charm?

On this depressingly rainy afternoon, we jumped straight into the hard stuff. Nasi Lemak with its usual condiments of sambal, fried anchovies, egg and peanuts came with a fried Chicken Maryland so huge you could use it as a weapon. Maybe it’s my Asian sensibilities but the size of the chicken in Australia still scares me.

Nasi Lemak, PappaRich Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog ReviewNasi Lemak

The most important part (some would say titular ?) of the dish – the rice – was delicately aromatic with coconut cream, and designed as a springboard for the other flavours. The sambal was legit, but like the loud best friend with all the personality, drowned out the flavour of the rice. And I really wanted the rice to be stronger in flavour.

Also on the order, the Hainanese Chicken Rice. Invented by the Hainanese people who migrated to SouthEast Asia, this favourite is truly a celebration of chicken. Rice, sautéed in garlic, ginger and spring onions till fragrant, is then cooked in a chicken broth that has been used to poach whole chickens to silky perfection.

The condiments that come with it also haven’t escaped the chicken treatment: fresh chilli sauce gets loosened with stock and chicken fat, and a chicken/soy dressing lightly coats the chopped chicken.

Vegetarians need not apply.

Hainan Chicken Rice, PappaRich Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog ReviewHainan Chicken Rice

I’m actually quite happy to report that here, the chicken had passed the quality test. Often overcooked and super dry, the chicken still retained some silkiness, and whatever dryness it might have had was made up with the soy/chicken dressing that most restaurants leave out. The rice could be more aromatic, but not everyone requires their rice to be anointed with as much ginger, garlic, and chicken fat as I do.

Yes, the secret to a good chicken rice is chicken fat. You may begin clutching your chest in fear.

And while you’re doing that, we also ordered a plate of Deep Fried Chicken Skins.

Fried Chicken Skin, PappaRich Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog ReviewFried Chicken Skin

Yeah. And it was good.

Sambal Eggplant, PappaRich Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog ReviewSambal Eggplant

What was not so good was the Sambal Eggplant. Usually, this dish involves cubes of eggplant simmered the an ass-kicking shrimp-laced chilli sauce. You get chilli, mix it with your rice, and eat your way into heaven on earth. Instead, we got massive chunks of eggplant covered with a sauce so skimpy you’d think it was showing off at the beach. Not my favourite rendition of this homely classic.

On the dessert front, PappaRich is offering dishes that are designed to really piss of your doctor. But only in the most pleasurable way, of course.

Roti Bom, PappaRich Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog ReviewRoti Bom

The Roti Bom is the rich cousin of the popular Roti Canai, and it’s not afraid to show off. Thick, flaky pastry is served with a generous dusting of icing sugar, and side portions of condensed milk and granulated sugar for you to dip.

Because crunch is very important when you’re eating condensed milk.

Fried Banana Fritters, PappaRich Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog ReviewFried Banana Fritters

If you feel that it’s important to finish your meal with fruit, then the Banana Fritters with Vanilla Ice Cream might be more up your alley. Banana. Batter. Deep fried. Ice cream. It’s exactly what you’d expect: piping hot fritters and melting ice cream is always lovely, even if technically they’re using the wrong banana. The banana commonly used in Malaysia is much smaller and sweeter, and doesn’t have that hint of chalkiness.

Oh and here’s a tip for you: by the sheer creative powers of my dining partner, we have figured out that the best dessert of all is a mashup of the two. Take a bit of hot banana, place it on the Roti, drizzle some condensed milk on, and finish with ice cream.

You. Are. Welcome.

With regards to the food, I think I’ve figured it out: you just have to be really careful what you order. PappaRich isn’t good at everything, but at its mid-range price point, I think that’s okay. The Assam Laksa still remains a favourite of mine, and the fried chicken wings are pretty good too, even though the Char Kway Teow is consistently below average. It’s a good starting point to the world of Malaysian food, and the little checklist order sheets ensure that no order is lost in translation.

And if in doubt, just order the fried chicken skin to go. You can’t go wrong with that.

Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of PappaRich.
PappaRich
63 Archer Street
Chatswood, Sydney, NSW
Phone: 02 9411 3207
Website: http://www.papparich.net.au

PappaRich Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bubble bubble toil and trouble: Simmer Huang, Chatswood

Sydney Food Blog Review of Simmer Huang, Chatswood: Assorted Meat and Seafood, $49.95

 

“Have you been here before?” asked the waitress, before setting the menu before us. Now THAT was a loaded question and a half. I mean, I hadn’t been to this branch before, but I did have a previous Simmer Huang experience (dare I say) at Eastwood.

I shook my head no, preferring to go with the former. That dinner at Eastwood was baffling, to put it nicely, and I didn’t want it to taint this lunch that they were nice enough to invite me to as well. The concept, the waitress continued in halting English, was that you ordered your raw ingredients, and it would get cooked at the table in front of you. So a little bit DIY, little bit theatre, and I could certainly live with that.

We look down at the menu, nay, checklist, and begin ticking off our choices. There was a slight sense that if we were to choose the wrong combination of ingredients, then the outcome would be entirely on us. No pressure. Our waitress, thankfully, chooses this time to swoop in to the rescue, with personal recommendations, and very subtle looks of disappointment when it looked like we were interested in the more pedestrian choices like Spring Onion Pancakes.

But who doesn’t like flaky, oniony pastry that shatters when you bite into it? I didn’t think so.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Simmer Huang, Chatswood: Spring Onion PancakesSpring Onion Pancakes

The Spring Onion Pancakes here, though, were actually pedestrian. It wasn’t particularly flavourful, and the pastry was slightly less flaky and more oily, coating your mouth with a shiny layer rather than shards of crispiness. On the upside, I didn’t need to top up my lip gloss.

Also in the do-not-order basket is the Hometown Chicken, though I really should know better when ordering poached chicken. Due to the health regulations in Australia, most chicken is cooked to death, and this one did not escape that fate. Sauce or no sauce, fibrous chicken breast turn to dust in the mouth, and if this was the only test of a restaurant then NO SOUP FOR YOU!

Sydney Food Blog Review of Simmer Huang, Chatswood: Hometown Chicken, $7.80Hometown Chicken, $7.80

Thankfully, there were redeeming dishes too. The Signature Cold Tofu was a delicious nod to a humble peasant past, and the sauce had just the right kick of spice to give the delicate silken tofu flavour. The cold jiggly squares melted in your mouth – and on your chopstick if you don’t pick it up right – and was refreshing on a warm afternoon.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Simmer Huang, Chatswood: Signature Cold Tofu, $6.50Signature Cold Tofu, $6.50

The Squid Balls brought out the 5-year-old in me, not just in the name (do they have any?) but also in the warm memories that came flooding back at this children’s party staple. No sausage roll for this Singaporean! Squid, Lobster or Fish, balls of this variety always have a bouncy texture that fries to a hint of a crisp on the outside.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Simmer Huang, Chatswood: Squid ballsSquid balls

But what of the main event: the hotpot?

Sydney Food Blog Review of Simmer Huang, Chatswood: Assorted Meat and Seafood, $49.95Assorted Meat and Seafood Hotpot, $49.95

Well, there certainly was a pot, and it was hot! Rather than the more popular style of cooking your food in boiling soup, this one involves our waitress layering the meat and veg in a wide sauté pan, before mixing in a house-made sauce.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Simmer Huang, Chatswood: Squid in hotpotSquid in hotpot

The whole pot then bubbles merrily away while you pick straight from it. But what of all the extra bits that I ordered, like the noodles and mushroom?

Well, this is where a major part of my confusion at Eastwood happened. No matter how much you’ve ordered, you were meant to finish ALL of the hot pot meat that’s laid out in front of you – in our case chicken, squid, prawn, and pork – before they come by, add water to the thickened sauce and THEN cook your noodles. By which you might likely be full, or feeling a hole in your heart meal that only noodles can fill. What if I wanted to eat my meat with my noodles, like many other bowls of Chinese food I’ve had before?

Though if you can overlook that, do order the noodles. They aren’t joking when they say “Hand-pulled noodles”, because you get to see it made at your table. TrĂ©s fun.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Simmer Huang, Chatswood: Order of Hand pulled noodlesHand Pulled Noodles

Sydney Food Blog Review of Simmer Huang, Chatswood: Hand pulled noodles

Sydney Food Blog Review of Simmer Huang, Chatswood: Handmade Noodles getting pulled

And if the chilli in the pot is getting too hot for you (see what I did there? Tee hee) then they have some lovely drinks too. The Lychee Cocktail is fizzy and sweet, and the Salty Lemonade is exactly like it’s described.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Simmer Huang, Chatswood: Lychee Cocktail

A scoop of boysenberry ice cream floats on a fizzy lemonade base that carries a hint of salt. Think less salted caramel, and more dried salted plum. It polarised our table (which wasn’t too hard because there were only two of us), and I just LOVED it because it gave me a break from the common soft drinks that are usually stocked in Australia.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Simmer Huang, Chatswood: Salty Lemonade

On the whole, it was much MUCH more enjoyable than my time at Eastwood, though I can’t say if the bump in service is entirely attributed to the fact that I was invited. I did feel like everything was better explained, and that I wasn’t left to navigate the treacherous waters of checklist ordering – where the descriptions are brief, if present, and the instruction manual non-existent. The restaurant is also fairly large, with beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows that provide you a view of, well, not very much at all, but I do appreciate large windows for the natural light.

I still am extremely uncomfortable with getting my meal split in two, but then if that’s their style of cuisine, then maybe it’s just not for me. The portions are also built for 4 people, so if you are planning a cosy lunch for 2, then you might want to pack an extra two stomachs.

Or takeaway containers. Those work too.

Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of Simmer Huang.
Simmer Huang
The District, Podium Level
Chatswood Interchange
436 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood, Sydney
Phone: 02 9411 3335
Website: http://www.simmerhuang.com

Simmer Huang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Attack of the giant squid: Cheers Cut, Chatswood

Sydney Food Blog Review of Cheers Cut, Chatswood: Giant Fried Squid

So too much sugar is bad for you. We know this. I mean, we can definitely feel the sugar crash coming on when we haven’t had enough sugar, right? The high before the fall? And that’s when you need something to cut it, to make yourself feel better. Something like…

Fried chicken.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Cheers Cut, Chatswood: Giant Fried Chicken

After Simon, Christine and myself all but staggered out of Passion Tree with a self-induced sugar coma, we wandered into the deserted District Dining area (you know, where Tim Ho Wan is?) and saw, lit like the gods themselves were pushing us to eat it, Cheers Cut chicken.

Hot Star-sized chicken is crumbed and fried, Taiwanese style, and you get to choose a sauce or a dusting of flavour. We did chilli, as it would have left the chicken more crispy than if it was drowned in sauce. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

And because we didn’t want the chicken to get lonely, we also got a Fried Giant Squid. Which wasn’t too large to the other squids, I guess, but a bit large to the chicken.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Cheers Cut, Chatswood: Giant Fried Squid

The chicken wasn’t quite as moreish as I was hoping it would be, but I did love the plum seasoning on the squid, whinch had the tender on the inside and crispy on the outside thing going for it.

And you know what, it DID end up cutting the sugar, which was all we wanted from it.

Mission accomplished.

This meal was independently paid for.
Cheers Cut
Shop P3, The District
Podium Level
Chatswood Interchange
436 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood, NSW
Website: http://www.cheerscut.com.au

Cheers Cut Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A quick pash: Passion Tree, Chatswood

Sydney Food Blog Review of Passion Tree, Eastwood: Caramel Popcorn Waffle

Foodie friends are the best. They feed you, they eat with you…and they don’t judge you when you decided to eat a crap ton of sugar and call it dinner.

In fact, they’ll do it with you.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Passion Tree, Eastwood: Selection of MacaronsSelection of Macarons

That’s pretty much what happened when Simon, Christine and myself went to the opening night of Passion Tree at the new The District Dining in Chatswood. We pretty much had a “give me one of everything” moment, and it’s no child’ s play, let me tell you that much.

And it didn’t help that I was prepping some food at home before the event and only had roast chicken skin to eat. Yes. The whole chicken.

ARE YOU PROUD OF ME NOW MA?? ARE YOU PROUD OF ME???!!!

Sydney Food Blog Review of Passion Tree, Eastwood: Green Tea BingsuGreen Tea Bingsu

Anyhoo, you know how sugar always seems like a good idea as a kid because you pretty much don’t remember the crash afterward? Like how women who go through childbirth supposedly have some sort of amnesia that makes that forget the worst of the ordeal?

Yeah. No such luck here. We knew we were heading straight for a sugar crash, and we were going down in a blaze of glory.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Passion Tree, Eastwood: Original Honey ToastOriginal Honey Toast

We started off with macarons, which were surprisingly good in texture, but lacking in the flavour department. And in the age of Adriano Zumbo, there’s no reason to have bland macarons. The Chocolate didn’t much taste like chocolate, and the Blueberry left us scratching our heads wondering what we just ate.

The Jasmine was the best of the lot, bringing out lovely floral notes that made a macaron refreshing. Salted caramel and Strawberry came a close second, with actual oozing strawberry sauce coming out of the bright pink macaron.

We then had the Green Tea Bingsu, which is a Korean dessert made of finely shaved ice and topped with all sorts of ingredients, from fruit, to cereal, to ice cream. yes, it IS customary to have ice cream on top of your shaved ice, and don’t let anybody tell you different.

Unfortunately though, this was no Kanzi cafe and its towering pile of melon and snowflakes. In this case the actual shaved ice was not quite finely shaved enough, and somehow managed to be a touch watery. The green tea ice cream was quite nice but not especially so, and the cereal and azuki toppings made it all like a Japanese parfait. So points for that.

The Original Honey Toast gallantly rode in and saved the day – crispy-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside toast (or should I say, loaf) was drizzled with sauce and covered with ice cream and whipped cream. And a blueberry sauce on the side, just for funsies. I really enjoyed how the really absorbed all of the melted ice cream and sauce while retaining its crunch, and it gave me the same warm, fuzzy feeling like when you dip garlic bread in soup. But sweet.

Think about it. Yeah, you know that feeling.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Passion Tree, Eastwood: Frozen Blended Drinks (Turkish Delight, Chocolate and Green Tea)Frozen Blended Drinks (Turkish Delight, Chocolate and Green Tea)

And this point we were about to keel over in a sugar crash so large it would reduce any rational adult into a floor-lying-air-kicking tantrum, so we decided to wash it all down…with sugary ice blended drinks.

DO. NOT. JUDGE. ME. JUST DON’T.

The Turkish Delight was my favourite of the lot, with actual Turkish delight pieces in the rose and chocolate flavoured drink. Colour me impressed. And pink. Like the colour of Turkish delight. It did get a touch cloyingly sweet about halfway through, but that may just be influenced by the fact that we were already hitting that wall of sugar rush. Just maybe.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Passion Tree, Eastwood: Smores WaffleSmores Waffle

And you know what the treatment is when you hit a wall where you think you can’t go on any more? You push past the pain. It’s exactly like running. Or an all you can eat.

Same same, really.

So we head right back down the rabbit hole with waffles.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Passion Tree, Eastwood: Caramel Popcorn WaffleCaramel Popcorn Waffle

We were pushing past that wall so hard, we ordered two waffles. TWO. Take that, sugar crash. The S’mores waffle was a diabetes-inducing Nutella-marshmallow-strawberries-and-cream, while the Caramel Popcorn was a more straightforward caramel sauce/popcorn/cream sorta deal.

The S’mores coulda really don’t with some actual blowtorching of the marshmallow – rather than just the pillowy white gooey state it was in – Aqua S style. And no Nutella. Please no Nutella. It just pushed it over the top, and gave me that sticky peanut-butter-on-the-roof-of-your-mouth sticky feeling. Caramel Popcorn was heaps better, but really should be enjoyed without cream.

Repeat after me. Whipped cream does not make everything better.

I like that Passion Tree joins the ranks of other late night dessert cafes like Max Brenner and Oliver Brown without completely cornering you into the chocolate corner. It may be sacrilegious to say, but I don’t always want chocolate in my dessert, thank you very much. Sure, it’s not crazy amazing in terms of the food, but with a tiny kitchen just for assembly, it’s really more about giving you a bright space to have a seat with your friends and while the night away over some sugar. And I think they’ve done that nicely.

Not everyone can be a Cafe Creasion, you know.

Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of Passion Tree.
Passion Tree
The District Dining
Chatswood Interchange
436 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood NSW
Website: http://www.passiontree.com.au/chatswood-interchange.html

Passion Tree Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Varying degrees of…Celsius Dessert Bar, Chatswood

Review of Celsius Dessert Bar, Chatswood

Nitrogen frozen treats seem to be all the rage right now, doesn’t it? And with good reason: the low freezing point of liquid nitrogen makes the ice cream super smooth, and the clouds of vapour provides a dramatic way to watch your ice cream getting made!

Located near the new Chatswood transport interchange, Celsius Dessert Bar has a small range of nitrogen-frozen gelato to choose from, coupled with thoughtful toppings to create a full-fledged dessert.

Because ice cream can always use some topping. 😉

Review of Celsius Dessert Bar - Watermelon SplashWatermelon Splash

Review of Celsius Dessert Bar - Monkey MagicMonkey Magic

Simon and I shared a Watermelon Splash and Monkey Magic, and we were about to go for a third, but…well, we really shouldn’t. Haha. The Monkey Magic really reminded me of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey, except a little lighter. The chocolate cookies and the bruleed bananas were a very nice touch, and made for a fantastic dessert.

The Watermelon Splash on the other hand, would have been much better off without the topping – the honeycomb had a very slight burnt flavour to it, and made the whole thing taste…savoury. The gelato itself was really refreshing, and light, and tasted of fresh watermelons, which is, well, a good thing.

I really wanted to go back and try the other flavours, but I don’t know if I can go past the Monkey Magic!

Banana flavoured anything is my kryptonite. Go figure.

This was independently paid for
Celsius Dessert Bar
Kiosk 4 Chatswood Bus Interchange
436 Victoria Ave
Chatswood, NSW
Phone: (02) 8068 6895
Website: http://www.celsiusdessertbar.com.au

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The Michelin Effect: Tim Ho Wan, Chatswood

Review of Tim Ho Wan, Chatswood

The Michelin guide started as a general guide for motorists. The Michelin brothers (who owned the tire company), decided to publish a guide that included maps, instructions for changing tires…and where to eat if you were going on a road trip. Today, this humble guide started by two men who owned a tire company has become a force unto itself, elevating restaurants to 6-month-waiting-list levels, or crushing the dreams of a chef slaving away at his craft.

All within those three little stars next to the restaurant’s name.

Well Tim Ho Wan – famous for being the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant – has expanded beyond its original Hong Kong venue, to the busy streets of…Chatswood.

Hundreds of excited foodies flock to Tim Ho Wan in its opening week…and then another week, and another. The queue never seemed to end. But luckily, I’m Singaporean, so I’m not afraid of a queue!

Review of Tim Ho Wan, Chatswood - Prawn DumplingPrawn Dumplings

Review of Tim Ho Wan, Chatswood -  Pork Rib with Black Bean SaucePork Ribs with Black Bean Sauce

Review of Tim Ho Wan, Chatswood - Rice Noodle Rolls with ShrimpRice Noodle Rolls with Shrimp

Review of Tim Ho Wan, Chatswood - Glutinous Rice in Lotus LeafGlutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf

Review of Tim Ho Wan, Chatswood - Fish Maw with Prawn PasteFish Maw with Prawn Paste

Simon and I went for a weekday brunch to minimise waiting time – surely other people have day jobs right? – and we were seated in 5 minutes. Win! We ordered a mixture of classic dim sum – rice noodle rolls and prawn dumplings, to name a couple – and the signature/new dishes – barbecued pork buns and fish maw with prawn paste. The classic were, well, a disappointment. The rice noodle rolls were brittle, and sorely lacking the chewy pull that I look forward to, and the prawn dumplings and pork rib with black bean sauce were mediocre.

The signature dishes, on the other hand, were much better executed, perhaps because there isn’t much competition out there. The barbecued pork buns with its buttery shell of “crumble” over the top of sweet, stuffed milk buns were truly special, and kept me going back for more. And the fish maw – fish stomach fried to a sponge like texture and then stuffed with fresh prawn paste and steamed – was quite the representation of good cantonese cooking.

For such a short menu, it’s a shame that there were more mediocre dishes than good ones. The glutinous rice – another in a long list of classic dim sum menu items – was expertly executed, but on the whole, the experience wasn’t enough to even keep us for dessert. Not worth the hype, nor the trip, unfortunately. Maybe a takeaway order of the barbecue pork buns?

This meal was independently paid for.
Tim Ho Wan
Victoria Ave & Railway St
Chatswood, NSW
Phone: (02) 9898 9888
Website: www.timhowan.com.au

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