Posts tagged Restaurant Review

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.

Reuben and Moore, Sydney CBD

Reuben wagyu cheese burger ($14): Reuben and Moore, Sydney CBD. Sydney Food Blog Review

I remember when I first heard about New York’s Katz’s Deli and their towering beauties of Reubens. Thin slices of salt beef are layered like a puff pastry put together with brute force and New York grunt, and the whole sandwich (can you even call it that anymore?) stands proud, dripping with juices from all the meat and steam. And naturally, after that, I had to assuage the empty reuben shaped hole in my heart…perhaps Reuben and Moore can help me out?


The Order:

2 bite sliders (3 for $15)
Pork shoulder: pulled pork, smoked chilli, Apple and fennel coleslaw
Wagyu salt beef: chipotle mayo, sauerkraut, shaved pickles
Chicken and charred corn: pulled chicken, BBQ sauce, carrot and coriander coleslaw

Reuben wagyu cheese burger ($14)
Wagyu beef burger, Swiss cheese, pastrami, lettuce and chipotle mayo


The Food:

Okay, so this time we decided to get a bit, uh, creative. I’ve long decided that if the Reubens at Reuben and Moore were the “best Reubens in Sydney”, then maybe Reubens aren’t really my thing after all – I always find the bread is too hard, which throws the ratio off, and I just end up wanting the salt beef with no distractions. Which is usually what I get, sometimes with a bit of ham.

This time though, we were in a burger mood, with three wee sliders (for sharing, because calories don’t count when you share), and a Reuben Wagyu Cheese Burger, which just sounds like a sandwich and a burger had a love child. And I’m down with a good crossover, as long as it’s delicious.

2 bite sliders (3 for $15) : Reuben and Moore, Sydney CBD. Sydney Food Blog Review2 bite sliders (3 for $15)

The sliders were just the right size for a person with as short a food attention span as…hey there are dumplings over there! Filled to the brim with lush, juicy ingredients, every bite was full of flavour, even though in isolation, the elements were pretty average. The Wagyu Salt Beef was my favourite, but that could also be because I couldn’t actually tell the difference between the Chicken and the Pork because there was so much sweet sweet sauce. Blessing or a curse: that one’s up to you.

Reuben wagyu cheese burger ($14) : Reuben and Moore, Sydney CBD. Sydney Food Blog ReviewReuben wagyu cheese burger ($14)

It may just be my order, but the execution of the burgers just don’t seem to scale in quite the same way. The Reuben Wagyu Beef Burger was a bit lacklustre in the seasoning department – no mean feat considering that there was pastrami, cheese AND mayo in it. The bun ate a little stale to me, and it hinted at the Reuben themed burger it had the potential to be, but left you disappointed.

Much like my hopes and dreams for my life.

Food: 0.5/1


The Service:

The service here has always been pretty consistent, thank goodness. They are always polite and professional, and on the customer-facing end, incredibly efficient. Sure it’s a little impersonal – once in a while you get the feeling that they would rather be anywhere but there, though they’re never rude to your face – but hey, it’s not marketing itself to be a high flutin’ fine dining restaurant, right?

Service: 0.5/1


Value for money:

At $14 ish for a burger, I’m not sure that I would necessarily call this value for money. Size wise, I guess it’s okay, but when you have playas like Josh in the game, I’m not sure that charging that for a below average burger really makes the cut anymore.

Value for money: 0.5/1


The Vibe:

Reuben and Moore has always branded itself in-between the classy and the casual: i.e. not quite subway, but it still IS a sandwich joint. I wouldn’t blink twice at walking in with flip-flops and a singlet, but it’s not quite filled to the brim with after-school teenagers. A happy medium, even if it’s not bursting with vitality.

Vibe: 0.5/1


And finally,

I used to visit Reuben and Moore way more often when I worked in the area – I always ordered the Salt Beef Plate with Pickles – but since I work somewhere else now, I don’t quite see the need to make dedicated trip back for the food or experience. Give it a shot if you have a serious hankering for salt beef.

Otherwise, I’m sure there are other options out there too.

Bonus points: 0/1

This meal was independently paid for.
Reuben and Moore
Level 5, Westfield Pitt Street Mall
188 Pitt Street, CBD, Sydney, NSW
Phone: 02 8072 9777
Website: http://reubenandmoore.com.au

Reuben & Moore Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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

Loco for…Coco Cubano, Ryde

El pollo frito, Coco Cubano, Ryde. Sydney Food Blog Review by Tammi Kwok

When I first saw Coco Cubano, all I knew was that you could order a Cuban cigar with your hot chocolate. I don’t smoke, and the hot chocolate was okay, but not great, so I left it at that.

Today, many branches later, Coco Cubano is offering up much more than hot chocolate and cigars – though the cigars are still there for sure – and I was lucky enough to be invited to try out the new menu!

The menu:

Starters

Tostones
Havana Dip Plate

Entrees

El pollo frito
Chilli caramel pork belly
Cuban fried rice
Tropical prawn salad

Mains

Arroz con pollo
Pork ropa vieja
Beef short ribs
The Cubano

Sides

Elote
Garden salad

Desserts

Buñuelos
Citrus cheesecake

Drinks

Salted Caramel Espresso Martini
Chocolate & Rum washed “brownie”
Triple chocolate batido crazy shake
Salty dulce de leche crazy shake

The Food:

There was just SO MUCH of it. As statistics would dictate, some were good, and others not so much.

Of the good pile, lay the El Pollo Frito, the rice in the Arroz con Pollo and the Buñuelos.

El pollo fritoCoco Cubano, Ryde. Sydney Food Blog Review by Tammi KwokEl Pollo Frito

The El Pollo Frito (fried chicken drumettes with red mojo dipping sauce) had a lovely, seasoned crust that the colonel (or should I say, el presidente) would be proud of. The dipping sauce was similarly flavourful, with a great balance of sweet, tangy and savoury. Sure, the drumettes themselves could use a little brining themselves, but otherwise it was pretty nice.

Arroz con pollo, Coco Cubano, Ryde. Sydney Food Blog Review by Tammi KwokArroz con pollo

The Arroz con Pollo (Cuban spiced half chicken with brown Sofrito rice) had fabulous rice that was light, delicately flavoured with separated grains. Nice work. The chicken though, came off a little dry, but for me, the rice more than makes up for it.

Buñuelos, Coco Cubano, Ryde. Sydney Food Blog Review by Tammi Kwok Buñuelos

And the Buñuelos? Donut + Chocolate = always a winner. The donut was a touch stiff for me, but I loved the crunch of cinnamon sugar on the outside, and then the richness of the thick, flowing molten milk chocolate that I can dip it into.

Of the not-so-good, the Cuban fried rice, the Chilli Caramel Pork Belly and The Cubano. Every thing else is – in the words of every competition reality TV show judge ever – “safe“.

Cuban fried rice, Coco Cubano, Ryde. Sydney Food Blog Review by Tammi KwokCuban fried rice

The Cuban Fried Rice (with chorizo, chargrilled corn and black beans) would have been better off labeled just rice and beans. It had the texture of risotto, which completely threw me off the expectation of fried rice. It was pretty heavy, and when compared to the rice of the Arroz Con Pollo, just didn’t make the cut.

Chilli caramel pork belly, Coco Cubano, Ryde. Sydney Food Blog Review by Tammi KwokChilli caramel pork belly

The Chilli Caramel Pork was almost too sweet, or not sweet enough. It was like eating pork belly (albeit tender and nicely cooked pork belly) that had been sprinkled with sugar. It didn’t quite have the hit of dark rich tones of caramel, and there wasn’t an element of salt to balance out what sweetness was there. The chilli also wasn’t particularly present, but that could also be because my Asian chilli sensors have been used and abused over the years.

The Cubano, Coco Cubano, Ryde. Sydney Food Blog Review by Tammi KwokThe Cubano

And if you’ve seen Chef (the movie that taught us you needed to neither have looks nor personality to land Scarlett Johansen, you only need to know how to cook), you would probably have a super romantic idea of the Cubano, which at its core is a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. A BANGIN’ toasted ham and cheese sandwich. Here it was a bit, um, bready, and the cheese say limply on the ham and pork, but was neither melty nor luscious. The side fries, though, were shoestring, and so have my seal of approval just for that.

The Service:

It’s a bit hard to comment on the service because we were there for a menu launch, but I did have a particularly friendly waiter who was hilariously cheeky and made sure we felt right at home. It was also a great ice breaker that he had a name tag that said “Awesome”.

Well, if the shoe fits, right?

The other service team members were friendly enough, but mostly just seemed rather green and just a little lost. Maybe it was the event setting that they weren’t used to, but when compared to Mr. Awesome, they just sort of faded into the background.

Value for money:

It’s not the cheapest meal out there, with mains sitting at the $25-$35 mark. But then again, they aren’t advertising value so much as they’re advertising an experience. In this case, it’s a bit middle of the road: the food wasn’t particularly authentic or punchy, but they weren’t charging you CBD prices for it. It would make more sense if you were dining in a group, in this sense, and if the group wanted a Cuban-lite experience that wasn’t too exotic.

The Vibe:

When we went, they had a BALLER singer/guitarist playing. He was as Australian as they come, but he really brought a Latin American vibe to the whole place. The mood lighting and dark wood also brought forth visions of smoky clubs in 1930s Havana, and really add fuel to all the Dirty Dancing fantasies you might have (the sequel, I mean. Don’t judge me!). The space may not actually be conducive to dancing, but doesn’t mean you can’t pretend!

And finally,

So the goss from Mr. Awesome is that the kitchen team was very nervous about the new menu, also because they were coming together as a new team. Fair enough. Some things can take a while to settle in and because this is the launch of something new, I can take that into account. I had a good time there, and while I didn’t get what I think would be an authentic Cuban experience there (I’m happy to give the oppression a pass), I went in knowing that an authentic Cuban experience wasn’t what they were offering up anyway.

Like I said, if you’re celebrating in a group that has polarised tastes and likes a very… gentle introduction, this is a safe bet. Otherwise, maybe stick to the hot chocolate and cigars. Hard to go wrong, there.

Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of Coco Cubano.
Coco Cubano
Ground Floor, Top Ryde Shopping Centre
Corner Blaxland & Devlin Street
Ryde, NSW
Phone: 02 8279 9239
Website: www.cococubano.com/

Coco Cubano 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/

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At..Home Thai, Sydney

Eastern Thai Sausage ($11.90). Home Thai, Sydney: Sydney Food Blog Review

Remember how I talked about how every conversation with my friends revolve around food? Yep, it’s struck again! This time it was Christine’s birthday, so Simon and I went present shopping.

But first, lunch.

For me, hot days = Thai salads, and Simon recommended the ones at Home Thai on Sussex Street.

Mixed Papaya Salad $11.90. Home Thai, Sydney: Sydney Food Blog ReviewMixed Papaya Salad $11.90

Just like many authentic Thai restaurants, a papaya salad comes in many variations: fermented crab, shrimp, anchovies, sausages, rice noodles…if anyone ever tells you again that a salad is just a bowl of rabbit food, sock ’em in the head with some fermented crab.

That’ll teach them.

We got the Mixed Papaya Salad ($11.90), with vermicelli, pork roll (which is a bit like a Thai ham), Thai anchovies and pork crackling (!!). Because pork crackling makes everything better. This version is a little more sweet, which tempers the fermented flavours of the anchovies and shrimp paste. The soft pork roll and pork crackling added a great contrast of textures, that made this more a satisfying meal than a side dish.

Eastern Thai Sausage ($11.90). Home Thai, Sydney: Sydney Food Blog ReviewEastern Thai Sausage ($11.90)

Speaking of side dishes, we also got the Eastern Thai Sausage ($11.90). The texture was more like fresh mince than what you’d necessarily expect from a sausage, and there was a slight sourness that’s typical of this variety. Why it’s sour, I have no idea. But I’m quite happy to eat it all the same.

And because we’re asian, WE MUST HAVE RICE!!

Pork Hock with Rice ($9.90). Home Thai, Sydney: Sydney Food Blog ReviewPork Hock with Rice ($9.90)

Rarrr. Rice monster.

The Pork Hock with Rice ($9.90) was very simply a stewed bit of pork hock, with lots of gravy and rice. There’s just something about the whole hock getting stewed that turns the rind and fat into a lovely soft gelatinous mass, with chunks of fall-apart meat underneath. Unctuous, flavourful, and an absolute favourite at the table.

SAH GOOD.

As for the present, well we didn’t quite find what we were looking for, but we got there in the end. Now who’s birthday’s next…

This meal was independently paid for.
Home Thai
1-2/299 Sussex St
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone:+61 2 9261 5058
Website: http://www.homethaisussex.com.au

Home 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

Coffee Box Espresso, Darling Harbour

Prosciuto and Egg Sandwich, Coffee Box Espresso, Darling Harbour: Sydney Food Blog Review

With the onset of 38C days, I think it’s safe to say that summer is officially upon us. It sucks, but it’s true. And with all the sweat, tears, and general grumpiness that accompanies it, also comes the headaches, and you know what solves that?

Iced Coffee.

Many ‘serious’ coffee places seem too snooty to do an iced coffee – there’s a stigma that iced coffee is somehow not worth their time because it’s more coffee flavoured milk than a serious caffeine hit. Fair enough, but that leaves people like me in the middle of nowhere, because I’m an unabashed fan of iced coffee that’s forced to either settle for the bottled stuff or make it at home myself.

Well Coffee Box Espresso in Darling Harbour comes to the rescue! Made with a shot of real coffee and scoops of ice cream, they actually make one of the best iced coffees I’ve had in Sydney. Assuming you like iced coffees, of course. Blended and frosty, it was creamy, sweet, and, I can’t stress this enough, made with actual coffee. Caffeine and sugar hit, all at once!

It’s a twofer.

And if iced coffee is a little bit beneath you (no judgement here! *backs away with hands raised*), then a cold drip might be your thing instead. This week, the cold drip coffee came in the form of an Ethiopian Koke Yirgacheffe, with was sweeter and less acidic than most cold drips I’ve had. Very easy to drink, especially for a coffee beginner like me.

Food-wise, I think Coffee Box Espresso do pretty well for a tiny little kitchen that’s pretty much the size of a kiosk. Sandwiches are made daily on-site, and the pastries are baked by “mother dearest”.

I kid you not. The owner’s mother supplies the baked goods, which instantly raises my respect for the place.

Strawberry and Passionfruit Muffin, Coffee Box Espresso, Darling Harbour: Sydney Food Blog ReviewStrawberry and Passionfruit Muffin

We tried the Strawberry Passionfruit Muffin, which was covered with a very generous dusting of icing sugar.

Like the kind that will go up in puffs if you breathe too hard on it.

The muffin itself was tender and moist, and fell apart in the best way. Like a heroine in an old school romance movie. A little bit of tart, a little bit of sweet, and a whole lotta soft cakey crumble.

Well done, Mama.

And at the risk of eating dessert before the main – the sky is going to fall down on us! – we also tried the Prosciutto and Egg sandwich.

Prosciuto and Egg Sandwich, Coffee Box Espresso, Darling Harbour: Sydney Food Blog ReviewProsciuto and Egg Sandwich

Hard boiled eggs – but not too hard boiled! NO GREY RING OF DEATH!- are well, sandwiched between a crusty roll, together with strips of prosciutto, rocket and tomato relish. Very delicious mix of flavours, even though the bread was a bit, um, chewy for my taste. Which wasn’t too hard to fix – just take off the bottom and have it as a tartine!

My mama always said I was a problem solver.

The Coffee Box Espresso may only be a scant eight weeks old, but they seem to have their act together. The owner makes the coffee personally – for every customer, not just for me – and there was a sense of consistency and heart in the work. I’m glad to see a kiosk that tries for standard, rather than just ordering things in for profit and ease, and with the arrival of a new oven soon (so I’m told) it looks like it should go on that way.

Definitely stop by for a quick iced coffee if you’re in the area on a hot day – they aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but they sure do provide a smooth ride.

Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of Coffee Box.
Coffee Box Espresso
Level 2, Harbourside Shopping Centre
2-10 Darling Drive, Darling Harbour, NSW
Phone: N.A.

Coffee Box Espresso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mugen Ramen, Melbourne CBD

Sydney Food Blog Review of Mugen Ramen, Melbourne CBD: Goma Tsukemen, $13

I really dislike eating alone. Really, I do. I mean, I almost never ever order just the one thing, and the stares of judgement and mild disbelief from even the most polite waitstaff when I’m sitting, alone, at a table covered with food…well, even I get embarassed too, sometimes.

But sometimes, when you’re all alone in a strange city, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And in this case, Mugen Ramen was calling my name.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Mugen Ramen, Melbourne CBD: Tsukune, $15Tsukune, $15

Mugen Ramen, sister to Robot (a bar that lives right next door to it), is known for their Japas menu (Japanese tapas), and Tsukemen: dry ramen dipped in a thick gravy-like broth, perfect for summer where thick steaming bowls of soups have no place.

But ramen never stands alone. The Japanese, in their infinite wisdom have side dishes to accompany. Because variety is the spice of life, right?

Sydney Food Blog Review of Mugen Ramen, Melbourne CBD: Tsukune, $15

Tsukune, $15, is basically a chicken kofta. Seasoned chicken mince is shaped around a skewer and grilled, and youre encouraged to dip it in a fresh egg yolk. Chicken on chicken action, eyyy!

Sydney Food Blog Review of Mugen Ramen, Melbourne CBD: Pipi Sake Mushi, $15Pipi Sake Mushi, $15

I also can’t go past shellfish without ordering it, so I order yet another dish to go with my ramen. NO JUDGEMENT.

The Pipi Sake Mushi, $15, was a delightful little pot of buttery clams, much like white wine steamed mussels, buy smallet and, well, Japanese. The sake provided a light astringency that cut through the richness of the butter, and enhanced the sweetness of the juicy juicy clams. Yum.

Sydney Food Blog Review of Mugen Ramen, Melbourne CBD: Goma Tsukemen, $13Goma Tsukemen, $13

But the main event: Goma Tsukemen, a thick, salty sesame sauce that coats every strand of the thick ramen noodles. And even for an absolute sodium-fan like me, this was salty. Like screw-your-face-up-dry-your-mouth-out kinda salt levels. Delicious, but halfway through the bowl I was struggling to keep downing it despite the sharp pangs of saltiness on my lips.

Despite the slight seasoning issue – didn’t stop me from eating it all, though! – I really did enjoy the food at Mugen. The basement dining area added to a wonderful underground dining sorta vibe, and well, it just helped me hide from the shame of eating all those dishes by myself.

Service-wise, well, I think there could be some improvements. I made sure to go for a late lunch (2:30pm) on a weekday in order to have my pick of tables, and even though the restaurant was nearly empty, the waitress tried to insist that I sit at the adjacent table to the one I wanted, which was more dimly lit. When I asked why, she said that they might need to seat a larger group and that I might need to move should they need the table back.

Fair enough, though I don’t see why that should happen in an empty restaurant, right? Well, 2 people came along, and then she promptly asked for the table back. At this point, the restaurant was 60% empty!! Even the customers waved me back down and said that they didn’t mind sitting at the next table. I don’t really know what was going on, but it wasn’t necessarily the nicest experience.

But, if you’re not too fussed on service, it’s worth a summer lunch. The food is intensely satisfying, and a classy take on comfort foods. My sorta comfort food, anyway.

Just remember to go with friends. Maybe you’ll get better luck with the tables.

This meal was independently paid for.
Mugen Ramen
11 Bligh Place, CBD
Melbourne, VIC
Phone: 03 9620 3647
Website: http://www.mensousaimugen.com

Mugen Ramen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato