Posts tagged Chinese

How to make dumplings!

Okay, I know I’m late to the party but CAN YOU BELIEVE LUCIANO AND MARTINO WENT HOME ON MKR????? *heartbroken*. Damn these reality TV shows and their sudden death rounds! They were hilariously loveable, AND they could cook, too. 🙁 🙁

But it DID get me thinking – if I were in the sudden death round, what would I make? It would definitely have to be something close to home, and all I could think about was the memory of my mother teaching me how to make dumplings when I was 4. I’ve been making them ever since, and I thought it was time to share it. =)

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257 Home Kitchen, Eastwood

257 Home Kitchen, Eastwood. Sydney Food Blog Review

Coming from a country like Singapore, I’ve been taught from a very early age to trust a queue. That is, if there’s a queue outside a restaurant, they MUST be good. Cause all these people can’t be wrong, right? Especially in an Asian-heavy suburb like Eastwood: if I’m hungry and there are people queueing out the door of 257 Home Kitchen, it should be a safe bet that we’ll have a good dinner.

Right? RIGHT??


The Order:

Pan-seared pork dumpling, $10.80

Jellyfish with scallion oil, $13.80

Braised Pork Belly with Eggs, $22.80

Steamed Cod Fish with Preserved Vegetables, $18.80

Eggplants and Octopus with Soy Bean Paste, $18.80


The Food:

After reading online that the food was authentic and that it was well worth the wait, I decided to put the menu to the test. Yes, we ordered this much food for the blog. Not that I was greedy, or anything.

Pan-seared pork dumpling, $10.80: 257 Home Kitchen, Eastwood. Sydney Food Blog ReviewPan-seared pork dumpling, $10.80

The Pan-seared pork dumpling, $10.80, was okay, if a little doughy for my taste. The filling was appropriately juicy and well, porky, but the there was something vaguely chalky about the wrapping that reminded me of factory-made dumplings that I’ve tasted elsewhere before.

Jellyfish with scallion oil, $13.80: 257 Home Kitchen, Eastwood. Sydney Food Blog ReviewJellyfish with scallion oil, $13.80

The Jellyfish with scallion oil, $13.80, was a little different from the Japanese style jellyfish salads that I’ve had at other restaurants. Rather than thin strips, this one used the thicker parts of the jelly fish, cut into shorter pieces that provided a similar mouth-feel to the tapioca balls that you find at the bottom of your bubble tea, except crunchy instead of chewy. It was also only very lightly seasoned, which does not bode well if you like a little more flavour to go with your jellyfish. A bit meh, and I much prefer the other versions.

Braised Pork Belly with Eggs, $22.80: 257 Home Kitchen, Eastwood. Sydney Food Blog ReviewBraised Pork Belly with Eggs, $22.80

I think the favourite at the table was the Braised Pork Belly with Eggs, $22.80. A classic Chinese dish, this involves cooking cubes of fatty pork belly in a soy based stock, with quail eggs added in for texture. The result is a tender, gelatinous pork, with lots of dark, rich sauce for you to spoon over a bowl of rice.

Steamed Cod Fish with Preserved Vegetables, $18.80: 257 Home Kitchen, Eastwood. Sydney Food Blog ReviewSteamed Cod Fish with Preserved Vegetables, $18.80

I ordered the Steamed Cod Fish with Preserved Vegetables, $18.80, mostly because I haven’t seen many restaurants give the option of Snow Cod (or halibut), and it’s one of my favourite fishes (fish?). Steaming it over a bed of preserved vegetables brought back memories of my mother’s cooking, and the gravy of soy, veg, and juices off the fish seasoned it just enough. A fair warning though: this is no boneless fillet. You’re meant to pick at the fish daintily with chopsticks, or risk a mouthful of prickly bones!

Eggplants and Octopus with Soy Bean Paste, $18.80: 257 Home Kitchen, Eastwood. Sydney Food Blog ReviewEggplants and Octopus with Soy Bean Paste, $18.80

Sam and I ADORE eggplant, and coupled with my love for octopus, the Eggplant and Octopus with Soy Bean Paste, $18.80, seemed like an obvious dish to order for our veg component. This one was a bit of a let down for me. Most eggplant dishes I’ve had in Chinese restaurants are rich and thick, with punchy flavours that bring out the body of the eggplant. This particular one was a bit limp for me – the eggplant was a bad kind of mushy, and somehow the octopus took on nothing of the flavours around it. The rice cakes, though, I did thoroughly enjoy. Slices of chewy cakes litter the dish like pockets of treasure – it was the only reason that I ate this at all.

Food: 0.5/1


The Service:

I’ve never had such a dichotomy of experiences in the same restaurant, on the same visit. We started out in “shockingly bad” territory, with the waitress skipping right past us to the next person in the queue, after a 15min wait. When we asked about it, she said she assumed that we were with the people behind us, even though we were standing fairly far apart from them, were the first people in the queue at this point, and had no contact with them at all. Thankfully, she redeemed herself by immediately offering us a table.

Then during the meal, the service was excellent, with our waters efficiently kept topped up, and our food arriving pretty quickly. It wasn’t hard at all to get their attention, and requests for chilli sauce were filled with no trouble at all. Things were looking up, and the hanger was passing. Well, except for the one bit of confusion where our dumplings took a little longer, and then all of a sudden we were presented with two orders, instead of one. ?

So I guess it’s a middle-of-the-road score for service, since the good and the bad evened out? Still fairly bizarre, though.

Service: 0.5/1


Value for money:

This is definitely NOT somewhere you’d go to dine alone. For one, the portions are quite a bit larger than a single person’s meal, but they also charge you for it.

The jelly fish, for example, was the one I could justify the least – $13.80 for a tiny salad? Not when I can get better just by walking down the street. The eggplant was also a bit on the pricey side for me. Even when you consider the super tiny pieces of octopus, I don’t think I can justify shelling out nearly $20 to order this dish a second time.

Even when you apply Asian metrics to this meal – because the menu is built for sharing, the cost per head gets cheaper if you dine in a larger group – it’s still a fairly expensive meal for the home style dishes that they serve.

And it’s not even in the CBD!

Value for money: 0/1


The Vibe:

I do like the hipster deco of the restaurant (wood and tile surfaces) and the busyness of it all really does add to a modern Asian restaurant sort of feel. The crockery also matched the feel of the interior design, tying it all together in an elegance I appreciate.

The only thing that ruined the illusion for me (which I’m sure was just due to my bad luck on the night) was the super annoying group next to me. About 6 middle aged men and women (I think they were in their 50s) were yelling to each other over the noise of the restaurant…about my food. I kid you not. They were dissecting my choices, the amount of my order, and well, us, right next to our table! We were so close that I could have slapped the main culprit in her smug face if I lacked the control. Just because I’m speaking English doesn’t mean I don’t understand it when you judge me in Cantonese, lady!

But it’s not something the restaurant can really help, so I don’t blame them. Just my bad luck.

Vibe: 1/1


And finally,

So I guess the reports that the food is authentic is fairly correct – it was authentic…to home style cooking. But I’m not sure that I want to pay those sort of prices to eat food that any of my friends’ mums could make at home. No, when I decide to treat myself to a meal out, I’d want to get something that is either labour intensive for a home cook to make, or requires a kind of finesse that only a chef can deliver.

I guess they weren’t lying when they called it “Home Kitchen” though, huh.

I’m not sure that I’ll be stepping back into 257 Home Kitchen any time soon, especially when there are so many more options to check out in Eastwood.

Bonus Points: 0/1

This meal was independently paid for.
257 Home Kitchen
257 Rowe Street
Eastwood, Sydney, NSW
Phone: 02 9874 6118

257 Home Kitchen 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

Din Tai Fung, Chatswood

Rainbow Dumplings, Din Tai Fung, Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog Review

Hello Chatswood, how you doin’?

I swear, I turn my back for one second, and Chatswood suddenly becomes a massive foodie hub, with specialty gelato, dessert cafes, Michelin Star restaurant, and Chinese hotpot, just to name a few. I mean, I knew that there was more to it than night markets and Daiso, but it really didn’t hit me till we were looking for a satisfying dinner after treating ourselves to a movie.

Enter Din Tai Fung.

I already have a bias to loving Din Tai Fung. I mean, it’s really hard to fault a restaurant chain that not only has Anthony Bourdain’s stamp of approval, but that also takes the time and effort to make sure that their signature dish – their soup dumplings – tastes and feels exactly the same, every. single. place. in. the .world.

That, my friend, is some serious brand commitment.

Rainbow Dumplings , Din Tai Fung, Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog Review

The Rainbow Dumplings are every ADD foodie’s wet dream, in that every single one has a different flavour. Is it in-your-face-obvious different? No, but it’s just different enough to keep you on your toes. At its core, these dumplings use the same signature recipe that words for them, and it’s like betting on the safe horse:

It just never disappoints.

Tofu with Century Egg and Pork Floss , Din Tai Fung, Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog ReviewTofu with Century Egg and Pork Floss

To fill my craving, I also ordered the Tofu with Century Egg and Pork Floss. It must be me getting older, but I’m really acquiring a taste for the black jelly-like century egg. Coupled with silky tofu and sweet/savoury pork floss (which is pork cooked in a soy based sauce till it’s dried out completely and pulled into floss), it’s an absolute heaven in both taste and texture.

Well, if you’ve acquired the taste, of course.

Pork Cutlet, Din Tai Fung, Chatswood: Sydney Food Blog ReviewPork Cutlet

There was also the pork cutlet that I got because the Taiwanese are somewhat famous for fusion street food, like pork cutlet, and Din Tai Fung is founded in Taiwan. This one, however, um.

No. Just no.

Nothing really going for it, and we really could’ve ordered something way more worthwhile.

But other than that, going to one of Din Tai Fung’s many outlets has started to feel like coming home. You know exactly what to expect, and you know that that they’re not going to suddenly turn the tables on you. Sure, it’s nothing particularly new and exciting, but hey, not everyone has to be a Heston.

The Chatswood outlet is somewhat more worn than say, the one in The Living Mall, or the one at World Square, but the locals don’t seem to mind at all. I’m not so sure that they would keep up with Chatswood’s burgeoning food scene – even the service has that old-world quality of ignoring you, slightly 😉 – but I’m sure such a large brand like that has no problems holding their own.

If you can, though, go to the ones in the city. The ambience is much MUCH better.

This meal was independently paid for.
Din Tai Fung
1 Anderson St
Chatswood NSW 2067
Phone:+61 2 9415 3155
Website: https://www.dintaifung.com.au

Din Tai Fung Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Rice Den, St Leonard’s

Rice Wine Cured Ocean Trout, Pickled Fennel, Ginger and Soy Sauce $16. The Rice Den, St Leonard's: Sydney Food Blog Review

What’s going on with the North Sydney area? It wasn’t until I started looking through my calendar did I realise how many trips I was making into the St. Leonard’s/Crows Nest to eat. Thai Food, Mexican, Burgers…and now, Modern Cantonese.

The Rice Den in St. Leonards takes traditional Cantonese cuisine and gives it a new spin with fresh Australian ingredients. When we first step in, the dark wood furnishings convey a sense of old world charm, while the efficient wait staff bring it all back into the modern day. They knew the menu like the back of their hand, and could make personal recommendations based on solid food knowledge.

So far, so good.

Handmade Cheong Fun, Peanut sesame, hoisin sauce $8. The Rice Den, St Leonard's: Sydney Food Blog ReviewHandmade Cheong Fun, Peanut sesame, hoisin sauce $8

We started with the Handmade Cheong Fun with Peanut Sesame and Hoisin Sauce, $8. Because nostalgia. When I was a kid, Cheong Fun was a daily breakfast. My mum would take me to this hawker stall, downstairs from the kindergarten I went to. A large, rotund man in a thin white wife beater stood, amongst steaming pots, selling rice cakes with radish condiments and rice noodle rolls with hoisin sauce to long queues of dreary-eyed office workers in the building.

The noodles here were soft, tender, but not quite as silky as I wanted them to be. As for the sauce, I could do without the peanut element, but it really did bring childhood memories flooding back for me.

Mixed wild mushroom pancake, $10. The Rice Den, St Leonard's: Sydney Food Blog ReviewMixed wild mushroom pancake, $10

But because you can’t live on rice noodles alone – well, you can, but I don’t think you’re meant to – we also got the Mixed Wild Mushroom Pancake ($10) and Rice Wine Cured Ocean Trout with pickled fennel, ginger and soy sauce ($16).

Rice Wine Cured Ocean Trout, Pickled Fennel, Ginger and Soy Sauce $16. The Rice Den, St Leonard': Sydney Food Blog ReviewRice Wine Cured Ocean Trout, Pickled Fennel, Ginger and Soy Sauce $16

The Rice Wine Cured Ocean Trout was seriously kickass, but we all know that I’ve got a bit of a thing for cured fish. Or fresh fish. Or any fish. Doesn’t have to be fish, as long as it comes from the sea. In this case, the rice wine flavour wasn’t particularly obvious, but it really worked as a dish, for me.

Tea smoked chicken salad, rice sheets, peanut sesame and soy dressing, chinkiang vinegar, $16. The Rice Den, St Leonard's: Sydney Food Blog ReviewTea smoked chicken salad, rice sheets, peanut sesame and soy dressing, chinkiang vinegar, $16

Crispy soft shell crab, with spicy spanner crab mung bean noodle, $24. The Rice Den, St Leonard: Sydney Food Blog ReviewCrispy soft shell crab, with spicy spanner crab mung bean noodle ($24)

Of the larger bites, we ordered the Tea smoked chicken salad, rice sheets, peanut sesame and soy dressing, chinking vinegar ($16), and the Crispy soft shell crab, with spicy spanner crab mung bean noodle ($24).

Maybe it was the crazy heat, but I was really really feeling the chicken salad, and I’m not even a chicken fan! The smoke really came through without being too overpowering, and the black vinegar dressing kept it refreshing and moreish. A big fat yes.

The Crispy soft shell crab, with spicy spanner crab mung bean noodle ($24) reminded me a little of the Thai claypot crab with glass noodles, mixed a little with chilli crab. There was something really comforting about it, and it was very well made, but somehow wasn’t quite as punchy as the tart chicken salad on a steaming hot day.

French Toast, Dulce de Leche, Peanut Crumble, Mascarpone with matcha green tea, $14. The Rice Den, St Leonards: Sydney Food Blog ReviewFrench Toast, Dulce de Leche, Peanut Crumble, Mascarpone with matcha green tea, $14

And to finish, French Toast, Dulce de Leche, Peanut Crumble, Mascarpone with matcha green tea ($14). It was crazy rich, with only the green tea mascarpone to cut it. It didn’t quite have the pudding quality that I like in a french toast – My french toasts border on bread pudding – but it was fantastically crispy, and oozing with Dulce de Leche.

I really like what The Rice Den does with bringing old school favourites into the modern day. There’s a whole lot of respect for the cuisine, without taking itself too seriously, which is really what casual dining (to me) is all about. Because not everyone has to spend 10,000hrs perfecting Cantonese techniques.

No, I think we’ll leave that to the old masters.

Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of The Rice Den.
The Rice Den
30-32 Chandos Street
St Leonards, Sydney
Phone: 02 9438 3612
Website: http://thericeden.com.au

The Rice Den Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Billy Kwong, Potts Point

Steamed Prawn Wontons, $19, Billy Kwong Potts Point: Sydney Food Blog Review

Billy Kwong is not a Chinese restaurant. Well, I mean I assume he is also a man, but I’m talking about Billy Kwong in Potts Point. It may be decked out like a Chinese restaurant, it may smell like a Chinese restaurant, and it may even serve typically Chinese dishes, but don’t let all that fool you.

Since opening its doors in 2000, Billy Kwong has been the poster child for the Modern Australian take on the Chinese cuisine – fusing native Australian ingredients with Chinese cooking techniques to create something that’s unique to Sydney.

As for the quality of the food, my friends are split into two camps. The non-Asian friends love it and would happily head there for a night out; and the Asian friends, well, let’s just say that there’s better Chinese to be had at a more affordable price.

But keeping in mind that it’s (repeat after me) not a Chinese restaurant, it’s actually a pretty decent feed.

Steamed Prawn Wontons, $19, Billy Kwong Potts Point: Sydney Food Blog ReviewSteamed Prawn Wontons, $19

We started with Steamed Prawn Wontons, $19, and Rice Noodle Rolls, $28. The wontons, with its silky wrapper and fresh filling, sat in a peppery puddle of brown rice vinegar and chilli dressing. A small salad of finely sliced herbs finished the dish, and made sure that every mouthful was satisfyingly fresh, sour, salty, and spicy.

Rice Noodle Rolls, $28, Billy Kwong Potts Point: Sydney Food Blog ReviewRice Noodle Rolls, $28

The Rice Noodle Rolls did not fair quite as well, with a fairly thick sheet of rice noodle wrapped around a cigar of pulled braised beef brisket. I loved the crispy texture of the fried rolls, but flavour-wise, it needed a little something something to cut through the richness. The beef was, well, beefy, but not outstandingly so, and it didn’t taste any particular spice that spoke to a labour of love. And at $28 for an entree, I was really hoping for a LOT more love.

Crispy Duck with Davidson's Plum, $48, Billy Kwong Potts Point: Sydney Food Blog ReviewCrispy Duck with Davidson’s Plum, $48

For the main, we got the Crispy Duck with Davidson’s Plum, $48, with Stir Fried Native Australian Greens, $12, to share. The duck came in a huge serving (we were warned by the waiter) and the fuchsia sweet plum sauce was a fun take on the Duck á L’orange from days gone past. Intensely spiced, the salty sweet gravy was just so satisfying ladled over rice, and reminded me of glossy plates of sweet and sour pork from my childhood. SAH GOOD.

Although just between us, I could’ve gone without the duck. Just the sauce, sour plums, rice and maybe a touch of chopped chilli, thankyouverymuch.

Stir Fried Native Australian Greens, Billy Kwong Potts Point: Sydney Food Blog ReviewStir Fried Native Australian Greens

The Native Australian Greens were stir-fried with ginger and white soy. I’m sure it would be more impressive to know exactly what greens we were eating, but to me, it all just tasted like wilted spinach. Lovely spinach, but wilted spinach nonetheless. I know, right? #FoodBloggerFail

The biggest thing that struck me about the experience at Billy Kwong is not actually the food: it’s the service. Our water glasses were never empty, and our teapot was constantly topped up with hot water. Our waiter knew the menu from back to front, and gave sincere recommendations about what (and how much) we should order. The welcome was warm, and they were very quick to notice if we looked up and needed assistance.

I guess that’s what really separates my Asian friends and my non-Asian friends: we place so much importance on the food that the service really is optional. We don’t care if you ignore us, if the food is delicious and at a good price. Everyone else, though, sees the value in the service provided, and at Billy Kwong you’re really paying for that privilege.

A lovely place to have dinner, as long as you’re not expecting an authentic Chinese restaurant. Because it is not. ?

This meal was independently paid for.
Billy Kwong
28 Macleay Street, Elizabeth Bay
Potts Point, Sydney, NSW
Phone: 02 9332 3300
Website: http://billykwong.com.au

Billy Kwong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hedgehogs in the Inner West: Luyu and Yum Yum, Newtown

Mr Luyu Snow White Dumpling, $11.80, from Luyu and Yum Yum: Sydney Food Blog Review

It was raining, and I was late. Public transport improves no one’s mood at the best of times, and this was no exception. It was stiflingly humid, and even the vibrancy of a neighbourhood like Newtown couldn’t fight off the absolutely depressing and un-sexy shade of grey that had descended upon Sydney.

Located on King Street with a bright neon sign is Luyu and Yum Yum: the effort of tea master Luyu to pair his tea with food, and the result is a classy east-meets-west restaurant, with a heavy emphasis on dumplings.

Manga Dumpling Manga Dumpling “Hedgehog”, $12.80

I had a job to do (hard life) and as the entrees started rolling out I felt like I was getting a good Asian feed, without the stereotypical Asian service. The Manga Hedgehogs were so gosh darned cute that I almost couldn’t bear to eat them. Almost.

Manga Dumpling Manga Dumpling “Hedgehog”, $12.80

Encased in sweet fluffy dough was a rich mushroom filling that transported me back to Hong Kong in the 90s. Everything melded together whilst keeping its own flavour identity, and I felt like I was watching an award-winning acapella performance.

Caviar Dumpling, $13.80, from Luyu and Yum Yum: Sydney Food Blog ReviewCaviar Dumpling, $13.80

The Caviar Dumpling was also a winner, and not just because I’m a slave to anything caviar. A solid mouthful of prawn dumpling was just lightly annointed with salty caviar, giving me texture and flavour all at once.

7 flavoured tofu, $7.80, from Luyu and Yum Yum: Sydney Food Blog Review7 flavoured tofu, $7.80

Want something fun? Then eat the 7-flavour tofu with the chilli oil. By itself, the cubes of tofu weren’t particularly exciting, but the chilli oil transformed it into BBQ duck. Seriously. If you’re vegan and always wondered why we love BBQ duck so much, this is your chance to find out. There’s some sort of magic voodoo going on here, and all I need to know is that it just works, like Apple products did in the 00’s.

Duck Pancake, $16.80, from Luyu and Yum Yum: Sydney Food Blog ReviewDuck Pancake, $16.80

Speaking of which, the Duck pancakes bring me right back to old Chinese restaurants of the 90s with my family, with generous lashings of sauce to accompany the chunks of duck meat. Nothing new, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Fantastically executed, and kept me eating till the last bite, even if I personally prefer the sweeter plum sauce to the more commonly used hoisin.

Truffle Dumpling Skewer, $12.80, from Luyu and Yum Yum: Sydney Food Blog ReviewTruffle Dumpling Skewer, $12.80

The east-meets-west fusion, of course, doesn’t always produce stunners. Even the most beautiful people in the world have average babies sometimes. Don’t let Angelina and Brad fool you. The Truffle Dumpling Skewers was one example, which confused the excitement right out of me. Let me try to explain it with this Venn diagram.

Dumpling venn diagram. Sydney Food Blog Review of Luyu and Yum Yum, Newtown

It’s really like if you added truffle on a Siu Mai. Prawn dumplings? We know that’s delicious. Truffle prawns? Yes please! Truffled dumplings? Din Tai Fung will show you the way. But Truffled Prawn Dumplings? Eh, not so much. Maybe my palate isn’t pushing the boundaries of dining, but I wasn’t a fan of the combination even though I enjoyed the individual components. And the sweet Jasmine honey sauce didn’t help either. It was cute that it tasted strongly like soda – and I’m all for repurposing flavours in unexpected ways – but it just didn’t go.

If in doubt, just follow the Fonz.

Mama's Chilli Chicken, $12.80, from Luyu and Yum Yum: Sydney Food Blog ReviewMama’s Chilli Chicken, $12.80

And the mains didn’t exactly come out swinging in the same way entrees did.

The Chilli Chicken and Beetroot echoed Kung Pao Chicken, an old school popular Chinese restaurant favourite that involves cashews, dried chillies, and a dark soy sauce that’s so sticky it really should be called a glaze. In this case, fresh serrano chillies replace the dried, and candied walnuts replace the cashews. The glaze wasn’t quite as saucy or dark, and the fresh pieces of beetroot added a fresh crunch. The candied walnuts were the best bit of the dish, with a glassy sugar coating that shattered with every bite. I really wished that there was more of the glaze/sauce – how would you mix it into your rice otherwise? – and while I was initially ambivalent about the beetroot, it really grew on me as I kept picking at it. The part that got me confused was the sprinkle of dried basil over the top. It jarred me out of the Asian illusion of the dish, and felt like that awkward kid at the party who tries to insert themselves into the group and then doesnt know what they want to say. Not a bad dish, but after the dumplings, it had big shoes plates to fill.

Eggplant, $12.80, from Luyu and Yum Yum: Sydney Food Blog ReviewEggplant, $12.80

The Eggplant was another dish that grew on me, but not to desired rash status. Battered eggplant fritters are served in a pyramid of sorts, and drizzled with a caramel sauce. I really
mourn that the eggplant wasn’t more obvious – you could’ve replaced it with zucchini and I’m not sure many would notice – but it was pretty enjoyable in a fritter sorta way. Crunchy-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside coating, and sauce. Good, but not ‘amazing’, as the waiter recommended it to us.

If the dumplings were the pinnacle of what Luyu and Yum Yum had to offer, then I’m really sorry to say that Osmanthus Oasis, for me, was base camp at the foot of the mountain.

Osmanthus Oasis, $13.80, from Luyu and Yum Yum: Sydney Food Blog ReviewOsmanthus Oasis, $13.80

My personal doubts about the flavour aside, the Osamanthus Oasis was just plain hard to eat. Served on a long, thin plate, the jelly kept slipping and sliding off and was fairly difficult to pick up. What made matters worse was the chocolate syrup, that added a faint chemical taste to the dessert. Why they would add something like that to what could’ve been an otherwise an interesting dessert, I will never understand. Especially not when the waiter strongly seconded our decision to order it.

I think Luyu and Yum Yum is perfect for a group outing: the serving sizes of dumplings allow you to sample and try a little bit of everything without getting too full, and it’s a nice change to the ubiquitous tapas houses in Sydney. If I could do it all over again, and I wouldn’t mind going back with more friends, I’d just stick to the dumpling and entree menu. It’s got more than enough variety to keep anyone’s attention, and most of it is really well executed.

Just don’t order the dessert. Trust me.

Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of Luyu and Yum Yum.
Luyu and Yum Yum
Level 1, 196 King Street
Newtown, Sydney
Phone: 02 8317 6337
Website: http://luyu.com.au

Luyu and Yum Yum 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. Trés 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

West meets…East Ocean, Haymarket

Sydney Food Blog Review of East Ocean, Haymarket: Rice Noodle Rolls with Chinese Dough Sticks

What happens when you give a glutton two hundred dollars to spend at a restaurant? So much food that you’d have to roll me home, that’s what. And it didn’t even involve crab, the most magnificent of food creatures.

That’s just a regret that I’m gonna have to live with for the rest of my life. :'(

Sydney Food Blog Review of East Ocean, Haymarket: Beef Tripe

It all started with a surprise gift of an East Ocean voucher from Zomato coinciding with my birthday. It was like the Universe was telling me that I was long overdue for some dumplings, and what’s good eating without some good people to eat it with?

Sydney Food Blog Review of East Ocean, Haymarket: Seasoned Jellyfish Salad

5 people can smash $200, right? Surely, with prices of food what they are in Sydney’s CBD. Well, no. We only hit $176, and you could hear my cries of asian-stingy-anguish from the next street over, as I waived away my right to finish off that voucher. URRRRGGGHHHH. How did we not hit target??

Although I guess, it speaks to the value for money. I personally ate till I couldn’t eat anymore, and we didn’t hold back in the ordering either: suckling pig, jellyfish, soup dumplings, scallop dumplings, chicken feet, rice noodle rolls and more, all made multiple appearances around the table. In front of me. Mostly.

As for the quality of the food, it was actually pretty decent. There were a few items that weren’t as up-to-scratch: the rice noodle rolls needed a thinner sauce in larger quantities, the soup dumplings were dryer than an Australian dessert…but you know what, I really enjoyed the sheer variety that they had, and all printed in a pictorial menu, no less.

And the service? Well, it isn’t a good Chinese restaurant unless the service is…questionable. Some good, some bad, so that evens it out I guess. Although there were times I just wanted to hold them by the collar and yell, “JUST FEED ME!!! FEED ME GODDAMMIT”

I’m not me when I’m hangry.

Oh and one last thing: the good stuff – like the aforementioned suckling pig – only comes in at 11am. Don’t bother rocking up before then if that’s what you’re after. Trust me.

Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of Zomato.
East Ocean
421-429 Sussex Street
Sydney, NSW
Phone: 02 8318 2200
Website: http://www.eastocean.com.au

East Ocean Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Asian? Asion! Cafe Cre Asion, Sydney

Sydney Food Blog Review of Cafe Cre Asion, Surry Hills

What do you do after you go on a multi-pork-roll-food-crawl down oxford street? Walk to Surry Hills to get dessert, of course!

Sydney Food Blog Review of Cafe Cre Asion, Surry Hills: Cookie Selection

And that’s how we found ourselves at Cafe Cre Asion (how do you even pronounce that, anyway?) ordering cookies, macarons and tea on an incredibly full stomach.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Cafe Cre Asion, Surry Hills: Macaron

This Asian dessert cafe has all the usual suspects…suspect. Matcha features in many of the menu items, including their famous matcha lattes.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Cafe Cre Asion, Surry Hills: Yuzu Honey Tea

The latte was okay, iced, but what really blew me away was the enthusiasm of the service. Sure, there were a few mixups, but they all looked so happy to be there. The macarons were also surprisingly good as well – the roasted rice had a lovely savoury quality to it, and the lychee had an amazing perfume.

A nice place to have afternoon tea with a friend, or takeaway some treats. Be careful of rocking up with big groups though – it’s quite a small space that’s really more suited to uh, intimate catchups.

Or you know, you could just go by yourself and stuff your face with macarons like I wish I did!

This meal was independently paid for.

Cafe Cre Asion
21 Alberta Street, Sydney, NSW
Phone: 02 8317 4856
Website:
www.creasion.com.au/

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