Posts tagged Soup

More chatting: Assamm, QVB

Restaurant Review of Assamm, Sydney CBD. Sukhothai Noodle Soup

When I was a kid, I decided that I didn’t like noodle soups. After all, they were milder in flavour than their ‘dry’ counterparts (usually tossed in a myriad of sauces and condiments), and you had to wait so darn long for the bowl to cool off. That just stood in my way of inhaling my noodles, and you never want to stand in my way when I’m hangry.

But like I always say, there’s nothing like a good offer to change someone’s mind, and when it’s a $6 lunch in the city, you know that the cheapskate in me just can’t resist.

A child of the omnipresent Chat Thai group of restaurants, Assamm offers authentic Thai food in the heart of Sydney CBD. Located in the basement of QVB, this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant plays host to snaking queues of hungry officeworkers over the peak lunch periods. But if you’re just willing to wait a little longer, they offer $6 mini-portions between 2-5pm, and let me just say? the portions are actually not so mini.

Restaurant Review of Assamm, Sydney CBD. Sukhothai Noodle SoupSukhothai Noodle Soup, lunch special

Well, unless you eat like a linebaker in the middle of training season, that is. This ‘mini’ portion more than fed me when I was in a my-stomach-is-trying-to-eat-itself state, and I would actually compare it to a regular serving size in Asia.

Restaurant Review of Assamm, Sydney CBD. Grilled Chicken on rice, lunch specialGrilled Chicken on rice, lunch special

The food always adheres to a certain basic standard and authenticity, to me, Assamm really brings it on their broth. There waa none of the watered down cost cutting crap that you usually find in the city. No, this is legit. The Sukhothai Noodles were my favourite, with bold flavours augmented by dried shrimp, tamarind, and a good lashing of chilli. The thin rice noodles were the perfect conduit to slurp up the broth with, and I would have been happy with just the noodles and broth, sans toppings.

Restaurant Review of Assamm, Sydney CBD. Boat Noodles

In fact, I enjoyed myself so much so that I went back again the next day, and decided to brave the queues during the peak lunch hours. This, unfortunately was the downfall of the whole Assamm experience for me.

My dining partner was in the bathroom, so they wouldn’t give me a table until she got back. Fair enough, it’s a busy time. Then she came by and I thought we’d be off to our tables, but we were forced to place our order at the counter first, even though my dining partner hadn’t had a chance to look at the menu. Then we sat down, and her order came first, and mine only arrived pretty much as she was finishing her lunch. I can understand a bit of staggering when its busy, but I do think that it’s bad form that two noodle soups arrive so far apart.

Needless to say, that kinda put a damper on my Assamm dining streak. Great for the off peak dining, but maybe not quite worth the peak hour lunch. Good broth though. Good broth.

This meal was independently paid for.
Lower Ground QVB
455 George St
Sydney, NSW 2000
Phone: 02 9261 0204

Assámm on Urbanspoon

Having A Chat: Jarern Chai Boon Cafe, Haymarket

Review of Boon Cafe/Jarern Chai, Haymarket

Thai food is just as vibrant as its culture: a sophisticated balance if salty, sweet, sour and spicy, Thai people
have been instilled with this ability to create explosive flavours in stir fries, soups and stews, that keep you coming back for more.

In Sydney, Chat Thai has been hailed as one of the most authentic, with matriarch Amy Chanta at the helm, leading her team of Thai born and bred chefs and food staff. The recipes come from their family tables, which adds a certain sense of history to the menu. But Thai ingredients can be hard to source, and the list can be as long as your arm.

Well, with Jarern Chai, you can get all your questions answered.

Jarern Chai/Boon Cafe share the same space on Pitt Street in Haymarket. Boon Cafe has a bit of the hipster coffee vibe, but with a menu full of comforting Thai favourites. Now what I really wanted was the Intestine dish that I saw on Instagram, but because life isn’t perfect, it wasnt available and I had to settle for Duck Noodles instead.

#FirstWorldProblems am I right?

Duck Noodle Soup - Roasted five spice duck egg noodles with goji berry, thai basil, and chilli oilDuck Noodle Soup – Roasted five spice duck egg noodles with goji berry, thai basil, and chilli oil

The soup, like all soup I’ve had at every incarnation of Chat Thai, is legit. Savoury and tangy, this broth was laced with goji berries and topped with chunks of duck, egg noodles, and bean sprouts. My only complaint though? At $14, it was a wee bit expensive for a bowl of noodle soup in Chinatown.

It’s friggin student central, man. I can turn a corner and find something similarly decent for cheaper.

Otherwise, the service was friendly, and the atmos was relaxing. Nice for a leisurely catchup, but not if you’re tight on the purse strings!

This meal was independantly paid for.
Boon Cafe at Jarern Chai
425 Pitt Street, Chinatown
Sydney, NSW
Phone: 02 9281 2114

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Jarern Chai Boon Cafe on Urbanspoon

Shiitake Mushroom Ramen Recipe

I am an absolute ramen fiend – nothing beats a hot bowl of noodles and soup in the middle of a freezing winter. But most ramen broths are based in bone and meat for that intense flavour, and it does mean that my vegetarian friends often miss out on this awesome meal. But bone does add a depth of flavour that is hard to replace, so I thought to use Lapsang Suchong – a smoky black tea – and konbu – a dried seaweed – to add body to the soup.

The result is this Shiitake Mushroom Ramen that I can share with ALL my friends, and if I swapped out the egg and egg noodles, my vegan friends too!

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Do you know what a ring burner is? Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket

A chopstick lifting out strands of rice noodles from the Supernova level 7 spicy noodle from Do Dee Paidang in Haymarket

I like my chilli like I like my war, nuclear.

…Wait, that didn’t come out right.

But I do like my chilli hot, and Do Dee Paidang in Haymarket has certainly thrown down the gauntlet, serving up a bowl of spicy noodles that have beaten many a food. Their Supernova Noodles are labelled as Level 7, for the 7 spoonfuls of chilli that they put in it.

Supernova Level 7 Spicy Noodles from Do Dee Paidang in HaymarketSupernova Level 7 Spicy Noodles

When you place the order, the waitress doesn’t just give you the dubious look that she saves for drunk men trying to pick her up. No, she first assumes that you mean something less spicy, and she points to the Level 3 and Level 5 options on a menu so filled with pictures it looks like a child’s storybook. I firmly stand my ground, and point to the Level 7, and her eyes widen slightly as she’s processing what I just said, and then followed by a look of uncertainty. “Are you sure?” She asks, “There are 7 spoons of chilli in that one. It’s very spicy”. I reassure her that it’s okay, and she shrugs and takes the order, recommending rice noodles as the noodle option.

And the rice noodles arrive, shrouded in a fiery red soup, and topped with fish balls, pork ribs and crispy deep fried wonton skins. The first chopstickful looks very promising – the chilli flakes cling to each strand like an over-the-hill woman going through a mid-life crisis clings to a man. I bite into it, and well, I didn’t exactly get swift kick in the pants that I was expecting. I wanted my mouth to feel like it was on fire, and my eyes to start tearing…not this slow burn business.

To be fair, it does build up slowly, but beyond causing a bit of a coughing fit, I don’t actually think it was all that spicy. In fact, I was more distracted by the slightly burnt aftertaste of chilli flakes that had been roasted too far, and that acrid bitterness was just something I couldn’t get rid of. Just a touch disappointing after all the chilli hype.

The fish balls and pork ribs were tender and delightful, and the wonton skins did add a nice touch. Especially with the Som Tum Pu we ordered – a Thai Papaya salad with fermented crabs.

Som Tum Pu Papaya Salad from Do Dee Paidang in HaymarketSom Tum Pu (Papaya Salad with Fermented Crab)

This dish is not for the faint-hearted. By all western standards, this dish stinks like a fish rotting in a sewer, but for me, it was all sorts of salty deliciousness that I crave on hot days. Sour, tangy, salty, spicy, Som Tum consists of shredded green papaya, carrot, green beans, and fresh tomatoes, pounded in a mortar and pestle with lime, fish sauce, sugar and chilli. This particular version includes fermented crab the colour of a rotting corpse on NCIS, and I particularly enjoy sucking out the salty juices from the tiny pointy legs.

What can I say? The stereotype is true that Asians will eat anything.

Durian and sticky rice dessert from Do Dee Paidang in HaymarketDurian and Sticky Rice Dessert

And because the portions here are similar to what you get in Thailand, we order a dessert as well. Durian and Sticky Rice brings back comforting memories of family trips to Thailand, where my parents and I would share a small plate of this food hall staple while taking a break from all the sightseeing and shopping. Here, it’s served in a bowl, probably because the durian is pulpier in texture due to the difficulty of getting fresh durian in Sydney. It’s still every bit as comforting as I remembered, though. Warm, sticky glutinous rice is topped with creamy durian and coconut cream, lightly salted to bring out the sweet. At Do Dee Paidang, they finish with a small pinch of Foi Thong – golden strands of egg yolk made by drizzling a mixture of duck and hen yolks into a hot sugar syrup. So rich, so addictive.

The food here really reminded me of food that I had in Bangkok, and I especially enjoyed the portion sizes. It may seem stingy, but really, the small order of noodles is only $5.50, and it allows us to try more things off the menu. I left feeling full and satisfied, but not wishing that there were napping options right in the middle of Chinatown for me to nurse my food coma. The service was well, what it was: not entirely attentive, but not rude either. It took awhile to get someone’s attention when it got busy, but once you got a hold of them, you never had to ask twice for what you wanted. Efficient.

We really enjoyed ourselves at this little eatery on Ultimo road. Makes me wonder what the grilled menu items are like.

This meal was independently paid for.
Do Dee Paidang Thai Noodle Bar & Cafe
9/37 Ultimo Rd
Haymarket, NSW 2000
Phone: 02 8065 3827

Do Dee Paidang Thai Noodle Bar & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cinderella ahoy! Sweet Pumpkin Soup, Eastwood

The Big Breakfast from Sweet Pumpkin Soup in Eastwood comes with baked beans, mushrooms, bacon, eggs, wilted spinach, grilled tomato half and thick slices of white toast.

In my household, brunch on a weekend is often nothing more than a nice idea that other people do. See, all the fancy pants brunch places are located inside the city, and otherwise, the cheapskate inside me insists that I can whip up the usual breakfast fare in my own kitchen.

And really, I don’t want to have to hop on a train first thing in the morning on a day off just to get some food.

A mug of cappuccino is topped with thick frothy milk and a dusting of cocoa powder.Cappucino

But Sweet Pumpkin Soup opened up just down the road, and besides the usual breakfast fare, they served up cheesy garlic bread first thing in the morning.

Cheese. On garlic bread. FOR BREAKFAST. Me likey.

Iced Chocolate from this cafe is served in a tall glass, topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powderIced Chocolate

So off we went. Drinks first, of course, because some people can’t eat till they’ve had their Cappucino. Fair enough. Just gives me an excuse to get an Iced Chocolate! They were nice and rice, though not outstanding. But it was a good start.

The Big Breakfast from Sweet Pumpkin Soup in Eastwood comes with baked beans, mushrooms, bacon, eggs, wilted spinach, grilled tomato half and thick slices of white toast.Big Breakfast

And for the interest of comparing apples with apples and bacon with bacon, we did also order the Big Breakfast. I was actually pleasantly surprised by this plate – the serving was actually enough for the two of us to share (we’re not big on breakfasts usually) and the food was cooked well. The toast was my favourite bit – no sad slices of supermarket white bread here, they toasted sweet white Asian milk bread, and that soft fluffy interior of the thick slices made all the difference.

Pumpkin soup is served with a thick dollop of cream, and an aromatic basket of fluffy garlic breadPumpkin Soup

Of course, we couldn’t not order the Pumpkin Soup at a place called Sweet Pumpkin Soup, right? So I indulged my Cinderella fantasies and got a bowl, which was really half a bowl…cause the bowl was very tall.


You know what I mean.

It was rich and thick, and was actually quite satisfying and creamy. Especially with the Cheesy Garlic Bread.

Garlic bread is topped with melted cheese and served in a pretty white basket.Cheesy Garlic Bread

Yes, as promised, the cheesy garlic bread. And it actually lived up to my lofty expectations. Again, the sweet Asian milk bread was used, and it gave me the distinct impression of eating a cloud. A buttery, savoury, makes-garlic-breath-worthwhile cloud. And the cheese gave me a fantastic soft foil for the lightly crisp crust that gave way to my determined attempts to get it all in my belly before The Boy noticed it was even on the table. 

Not quite successful, but I guess I can share. 

It was a lovely morning out, and considering that we were both a bit grizzly first thing in the morning, I think the staff managed us very well. Now for more of that garlic bread…

This meal was independently paid for.

Sweet Pumpkin Soup
106 Rowe St
Eastwood, NSW 2122
Phone: 0433 301 173

Sweet Pumpkin Soup on Urbanspoon

You pho, Me Pho!

There’s been major changes down Eastwood’s Rowe St recently – shops vacate and restaurants move in (Bao Dao and Tounoya, to name a few), which can only mean good things for a glutton like me.

And it seems that just because a restaurant is popular doesn’t mean it’ll stay: Pho Gia Hoi was always pumping, but seems to have been replaced by Me Pho, a small, quiet Vietnamese restaurant, serving up more varieties than your average pho menu.
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Man Soup

I think that it’s entirely appropriate that my first bowl of  Man Soup was made by a man. I had a bad case of the cold, and was holed up under the covers feeling incredibly sorry for myself. I swear my life was flashing before my eyes, and I was absolutely starving, but wasn’t feeling up to cooking at all.

Enter the Man Soup – the modern man’s answer to sustenance, and bonus points if it’s made for a woman suffering from the man-cold!

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