Posts tagged Dumplings

Wax on, wax off: Lotus, Sydney CBD

Crispy tofu with salt and wildfire dukkah, $17: Lotus, Sydney. Sydney Food Blog Review

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re missing, until you’re missing it. And I never knew just how hard it was to get vegan options until I actually went to lunch with a vegan.

And I mean real options. Not like “yeah you can order the side salad” options.

So when the menu at Lotus offered up plenty of delicious sounding tofu and mushroom dishes, I thought, “Maybe there’s hope after all!”

The Order:

Steamed shiitake mushroom dumplings, $12

Crispy tofu with salt and wildfire dukkah, $17

Steamed seasonal vegetable with sesame oil and soy, $16

The Food:

The food was quite lovely, with a Mr Wong-esque slant to it.

Steamed shiitake mushroom dumplings, $12: Lotus, Sydney. Sydney Food Blog ReviewSteamed shiitake mushroom dumplings, $12

We started off with the Steamed Shiitake Mushroom Dumplings, $12, filled with a mushroom and chopped greens mixture (asparagus, I think?) and encased in a translucent potato starch skin that’s notoriously hard to handle. It was a light bite, and the flavour of the mushrooms really came through, almost for a lack of flavour from anything else. The chilli that came with it really helped, though – there was a tomatoey sweetness that prevented it from being too spicy (not that it’s ever really a problem for me) and overpower the dumplings.

Crispy tofu with salt and wildfire dukkah, $17: Lotus, Sydney. Sydney Food Blog ReviewCrispy tofu with salt and wildfire dukkah, $17: Lotus, Sydney. Sydney Food Blog Review

My favourite, though? The Crispy tofu with salt and wildfire dukkah, $17. Soft, fluffy tofu is dusted with a tangy, peppery mixture, and served alongside a thick, sesame and black vinegar pouring dipping sauce. The tofu actually carried a light crunch on the outside, that soaked up all the sauce without turning into mush, and then crumbled satisfyingly into my rice.

The Steamed Seasonal Vegetable with sesame oil and soy, $16, was, well, Bak Choy with soy. Not groundbreaking, but we didn’t order it expecting the wheel to be reinvented. So…*shrugs* eh.

The Service:

The service at Lotus was a bit of a mixed bag for me. They were efficient and polite enough most of the time, but they didnt go out of their way to make me feel like I was in safe hands. For example, beyond what was written in the menu, I didn’t get much more information about the dishes set down in front of me. There was no forthcoming explanation, for example, about the sauce that went with the tofu, and I had to ask them twice before I got an answer.

Also, towards the end (you know when they set down a dessert menu purposefully in front of you?), I had the distinct feeling of being rushed off. I mean, I totally understand that restaurants have to turn tables over in order to make money, but it’s usually a little bit more subtle. We had taken a pause to Instagram (talk about #FirstWorldProblems, huh), and the waitress came back to enquire about our choices for dessert, even though it hadn’t been enough time for me to finish typing my Instagram caption.

Not a good look.

Value for money:

I know I have to take into account the CBD location, and the fancy interior and all that, but the only thing that justified the price was the dumplings. Everything felt just that little bit overpriced, and there is no parallel universe where $16 for steamed Bok Choy tossed in soy sauce and sesame oil is justifiable. Well, maybe if there was gold leaf.

BUT STILL. My Asian ancestors would disown me if they found out I paid that much.

The Vibe:

It was classy, in a “non-Asians were drinking wine with their Asian lunch” sorta say. (Where is the damned tea, people?!) The decor screamed pan-Asian chic, and it was fairly busy for a weekday lunch. Otherwise it felt pretty sterile, which is good or bad depending on how you look at it: I completely understand if dilapidated Asian restaurant with a single old man in the kitchen is not always your thing.

And finally,

As far as the vegan options go, Lotus performed pretty well. They gave us more options than your average eatery in the CBD, even if that came at a price. If you’re not with a vegan crowd, however, Lotus might not be your first choice: there are just that many more authentic and delicious options in the city that are easier on the wallet to drop by for lunch.

Unless, you know, you really want that wine with your meal. In that case, go for it, you lush. I won’t judge. 😉

This meal was independently paid for.

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

Taste of Shanghai, World Square

Barramundi in Sweet & Sour Sauce, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog Review

Ever eat so much that the meal was just a whirlwind and the evening was a blur because you’ve blacked out from a food coma?

I had that, when we were invited to celebrate the launch of Taste of Shanghai’s brand spanking new decor of their World Square outlet.

Get ready for a deluge of food photos…

Peking style shredded Pork + Golden Buns, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog ReviewPeking style shredded Pork + Golden Buns

Pan Fried Noodles with Shrimp & Shredded Pork, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog Review Pan Fried Noodles with Shrimp & Shredded Pork,

Salty Pork with Green Vegetable Fried Rice, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog ReviewSalty Pork with Green Vegetable Fried Rice

Pan Fried Pork Bun, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog ReviewPan Fried Pork Bun

Tofu with Preserved egg, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog ReviewTofu with Preserved egg

Wonton in Red Chili Oil Sauce, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog ReviewWonton in Red Chili Oil Sauce

Stir Fried Green Beans with Pork Mince, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog ReviewStir Fried Green Beans with Pork Mince

Xiao Long Bao, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog ReviewXiao Long Bao

Mud Crab with Salted Egg Yolk, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog ReviewMud Crab with Salted Egg Yolk

Dude, we had 20 different dishes that night. Like a solid 20, not even counting the double ups of a couple of them. I had my clear favourites, of course, like the coronary-inducing Mud Crab with Salted Egg Yolk. And by coronary, I mean my doctor would collapse from the shock and horror as I wantonly devour succulent mud crab coated in a rich, salted duck yolk crust. Yaaaaasssssss.

Eggplant & Pork Mince in Sweet Chili Vinegar, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog ReviewEggplant & Pork Mince in Sweet Chili Vinegar

Also on the hit list, the Eggplant and Pork Mince in Sweet Chilli Vinegar, eaten with the Salted Pork and Green Vegetable Fried Rice. There’s just something so comforting about tossing that tangy tender eggplant in a large bowl of fried rice that just keeps me going back for more.

Fish Fillet in Spicy Chili Oil, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog ReviewFish Fillet in Spicy Chili Oil

If you’re looking to impress, the Fish Fillet in Spicy Chilli Oil comes out in a massive platter, complete with a slotted ladle so that the fillets aren’t absolutely drowning in the crimson oil. The fish is snowy white and tender, and a barest hint of chilli clings to the silky flesh. Make no mistake, this fish is less fried and more poached in its texture.

Barramundi in Sweet & Sour Sauce, Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Sydney Food Blog Review Barramundi in Sweet & Sour Sauce

Chilli oil not quite your thing? Well, How about the Barramundi in Sweet and Sour Sauce, because who doesn’t like a sweet and sour? A WHOLE fish is deep fried and glazed in the sweet and sour sauce of my childhood – thankfully missing the pineapple pieces and capsicum – ready to be a dramatic centrepiece at any table. Very theatrical in its presentation, but accessible and straightforward in its flavours.

Food-wise, they’re serving up pretty much the same menu – except that the physical menu has been given a facelift. I’m happy to report that the seasoning levels were much better than the last time I visited, and I wasn’t left reaching for the water quite as often.

It was really lovely getting spoilt on such a selection of the menu. The seating has changed to allow two massive tables to accomodate large groups, as well as smaller tables for the everyday crowd, and the walls are adorned with family photos from the owner’s childhood. It really gave it a cozy, homely feel, which was quite impressive considering that it was packed to the brim on a weekday night.

From what I hear, this is the first of the Taste of Shanghai group of restaurants to get the facelift, and I think it adds a nice update to a reliable chain of eateries. Now just to see when my local Taste of Shanghai gets the same treatment! 😉

Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of Taste of Shanghai.
Taste of Shanghai
Shop 9.07, World Square Shopping Centre
644 George Street
Sydney, NSW
Phone: 02 9261 8832
Website: www.tosau.com.au/

Click to add a blog post for Taste of Shanghai on 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

Shanghai’d! Taste of Shanghai, World Square

Sydney Food Blog Review: Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Braised bamboo shoot

Dumpling frenzy is alive and well in Sydney, with every man and his dog attempting the iconic soup dumpling (xiao long bao) – little pastry wrapped parcels of engineering genius that explode with scalding hot soup the moment you bite into it.

What can I say? We’re gluttons for punishment.

Din Tai Fung has been known as the reigning lords of soup dumplings, and in Sydney, it seems, that claim has been challenged by fellow Chinese restaurant giant the Taste of Shanghai.

Sydney Food Blog Review: Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Pan fried pork dumpling,Pan fried pork dumpling

Of course, one cannot subsist on soup dumplings alone. Well, maybe we can, but probably shouldn’t. So you know, we order other things, too, just as a cover.

…and also cause I was starving.

Sydney Food Blog Review: Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Pan fried pork bunsPan fried pork buns

Sydney Food Blog Review: Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings)Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings)

Sydney Food Blog Review: Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Braised bamboo shootBraised bamboo shoot

Sydney Food Blog Review: Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Stir Fried Green Beans with Pork MinceStir Fried Green Beans with Pork Mince

Sydney Food Blog Review: Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Olive Fried RiceOlive Fried Rice

Sydney Food Blog Review: Taste of Shanghai, World Square. Deep Fried Chinese Milk DoughDeep Fried Chinese Milk Dough

And the verdict? They do actually serve up a variety of dishes quite well. The service can be a bit impersonal, but really, I wasn’t expecting too much from the gruff manner of the people seating us anyway. At least they’re consistent, right?

The actual soup dumplings pale in comparision to Din Tai Fung, but it’s a good effort, and better than many other places who attempt this structural masterpiece of a dish. Notable dishes include the braised bamboo shoots, olive fried rice and pan-fried pork buns – the fluffy bun equivalent of the soup dumplings, complete with explosive hot soup.

One warning, though, for the high blood pressured amongst us: the food is incredibly uh, seasoned, so you’re probably going to either need lots of plain rice and tea to cut it, or need to drink an entire lagoon of water afterward.

Mermaid sold separately.

This meal was independently paid for.
Taste of Shanghai
Shop 9.07, World Square Shopping Centre
644 George Street
Sydney, NSW
Phone: 02 9261 8832
Website: www.tosau.com.au/

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Something Old, Something…New Shanghai, Bondi

Sydney Food Blog Review of New Shanghai, Bondi

You know the stereotype about Asian menus having 10 billion different items so you don’t know what you want to order? Well, let me tell you that the Struggle. Is. Real.

And I was totally struck by a case of analysis paralysis when I rocked up for my invite to New Shanghai and their steaming baskets of dumplings.

So what do you do when you don’t know what to order? Well, “order everything” seems like an answer we can go with!

New Shanghai, Bondi: Sydney Food Blog Review: Shredded jellyfish & radish tossed with sea salt & light soy dressing, $7.80Shredded jellyfish & radish tossed with sea salt & light soy dressing, $7.80

New Shanghai, Bondi: Sydney Food Blog Review: Sweet & sour pork rib in dark vinegar sauce, $5.80Sweet & sour pork rib in dark vinegar sauce, $5.80

New Shanghai, Bondi: Sydney Food Blog Review: Crab meat Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings), $11.50Crab meat Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings), $11.50

New Shanghai, Bondi: Sydney Food Blog Review: Shepherd’s purse & pork wonton tossed w/sesame butter, red chilli oil & spice, $11.50

New Shanghai, Bondi: Sydney Food Blog Review: New shanghai pan fried pork bun, $6New shanghai pan fried pork bun, $6

New Shanghai, Bondi: Sydney Food Blog Review: Deep fried calamari coated with salted egg yolk, $20.80Deep fried calamari coated with salted egg yolk, $20.80

New Shanghai, Bondi: Sydney Food Blog Review: Shandong Chicken (Deep fried crispy skin chicken with special garlic & chilli sauce), $13.50Shandong Chicken (Deep fried crispy skin chicken with special garlic & chilli sauce on rice), $13.50″

New Shanghai, Bondi: Sydney Food Blog Review: Stir fried Chinese rice cake with X.O. sauce & shredded pork, $14.40Stir fried Chinese rice cake with X.O. sauce & shredded pork, $14.40

New Shanghai, Bondi: Sydney Food Blog Review: Steamed pumpkin & sticky rice cake filled with pumpkin paste, $5.50Steamed pumpkin & sticky rice cake filled with pumpkin paste, $5.50

See? I wasn’t kidding.

I’ve long popped my New Shanghai cherry, and the biggest gripe I’ve always had is about the consistency between the outlets. I usually go to Chatswood, for example, and it’s usually pretty good, but a scheduling decision put me at the Bondi branch this time, which showed some cracks in its armour. The all important Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings) have always been steaming hot full of liquid in Chatswood, but this time, they were not quite as soupy as they should be. Even accounting for the time it took for me to take photos. The skin was not quite thin or translucent enough, although the filling itself was quite tasty.

The Pan Fried Pork Buns, on the other hand, did what the soup dumplings should have done, and burst forth with super hot juices encased in a sweet fluffy shell made out of Chinese milk dough. That, I could have kept eating forever. That, and the Fried Rice Cakes in X.O sauce? YYAAAAASSSSSSS. There’s just something about the firm, chewy slices of rice cakes that just gives you a warm hug from the inside and tells you that everything is going to be okay.

Cold dishes also fared well – the Shredded Jellyfish with Sea Salt and Soy was quite refreshing, and the Sweet and Sour Pork Rib, while containing more cartilage than I was expecting – was also very moreish. Light, and balanced, because shredded jellyfish is a salad right? And it’s good for you?

Other hot dishes, on the other hand, didn’t do quite so well. The Salted Egg Yolk Calamari tasted like it had no egg yolk at all – which either means that there was a distinct lack of egg yolk, or that the order was taken down wrong, even though it was repeated back to me – and it did taste like more batter than calamari at many points. The Shandong chicken had clearly been off the mountain for too long, because while it’s meant to be served at room temperature, both the chicken skin (which was meant to be crispy) and the sauce were a pale shade of tepid.

The sweet dish to finish – Steamed pumpkin & sticky rice cake filled with pumpkin paste reminded me of Japanese mochi, which is not such a bad thing, except that I was really looking forward to a pumpkin tasting filling, rather than something that looked and tasted like red bean.

But like any relationship, it has its ups and downs, and while this might’ve been a blight in my otherwise great experience at New Shanghai, it’s not enough to deter me from going back…to the Chatswood branch.

Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of New Shanghai.
New Shanghai
Food Court, Shop 4
Level 5, Westfield Bondi Junction
500 Oxford Street
Bondi Junction, Sydney, NSW
Phone: (02) 9386 4623
Website: www.newshanghai.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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