Thursday, February 19, 2015

Alfie & Hetty Restaurant - Glebe

We were invited by the great people at Alfie and Hetty to dine at their restaurant and try their food. Stepping into the restaurant, it felt really homey and cozy. Being two terraces (and previously two different restaurants) joined together and refurbished to it's original shine, the fireplaces, lighting, furniture, paintings, vintage everything - just made the place really comfy. The friendly and smiley staff also helps make you feel like home. They've even got an upstairs lounge area with it's separate bar, sofas and balcony area - perfect for a private function.
It took us a while to decide what to order as everything sounded really tasty. Smelling the wonderful aromas in the air didn't help us narrow down our options but we finally settled for a couple of entrees and a signature roast to share. The scallop entree was cooked perfectly. Like perfect Canadian scallops (AMAZING) on a bed of cauliflower puree and crumbed chorizo. The flavours can do no wrong and I just absolutely love the cauliflower puree - sooooo smooth, sooooo creamy, and soooo awesome with the bits of chorizo. It took a lot of self control for me to not lick the plate.
Our other entree was the beef tartare. We got a wonderful cylinder of hand cut pasture fed Hereford prime tenderloin which had this really creamy texture and zesty punch. It felt fresh and clean and wonderfully morish. Whilst egg yolk is normally placed on the top of the beef pile, at Alfie and Hetty, the egg is mixed in with the cut up beef - probably the source of the creaminess. It came with handcut  rustic-looking chips and aioli. Who can say no to that? :)
As for the main - we opted for their signature smokey beef ribs to share. It definitely could feed two people cos it was massive and it smelt just so good! I wish I could ask the beef to smile as it is so unphotogenic - but oh so good. The menu said that 2 days of TLC was put into cooking this beef and you could kind of tell - the meat just simply melted in our mouths. No knife required - just so so so so tender! The sauce glaze on top was smokey and BBQy but hubby pointed out that if there was a good smokey chilli sauce on the side (like at the American joints), it would have made it even better! But honestly, I was pretty happy to sink my teeth into this meat. There was sweet potato and wilted greens scattered around but really, nothing could draw us away from the beef. I eyed some lamb roast from other tables and that looked just as succulent and tender as our beef. Worth checking out next time I think!
Since we had stuffed ourselves with glorious meat, our stomachs only allowed us to share a dessert. It was a tough toss up between their creme brûlée, chocolate fondant, and apple-rubarb crumble (which came highly recommended by their super friendly manager). The brûlée won our hearts and we were not disappointed. Great toffee layer on top and smooth, vanilla-rich custard - it was superb! Awesome finish to our meal :)
It was a really enjoyable night. We knew we were in for a treat from the moment we stepped in, with the delicious aromas filling our senses. And we were not disappointed. Would not mind revisiting this restaurant again in the future!

As anyone who mentions this blog post gets 10% (til the end of Feb), it's not a bad idea to try out this place soon! :)

Alfie & Hetty
207/209 Glebe Point Road
Glebe, NSW 2037
Tel: (02) 8957 0652

We dined as guests of Alfie & Hetty but the photos and comments are entirely our own. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Knafeh - North Strathfield (pop-up)

My friend told me that Knafeh, the hipster Jerusalem street food truck, was going to be popping up at the end of my street for a few days. Having passed on the opportunity to try it at previous markets and festivals due to long lines, I just had to go. Being on the corner of George St and Parra Rd in North Strathfield, I was thinking that there'd be less lines... but I couldn't be more wrong.
Lines and waittimes were still plentiful, even though it was in the carpark in the middle of no-where. We ordered a knafeh ($8) with ashta booza ($4). There's a good production line happening with hipster-looking men (with beards ofcourse) making this seemingly simple Levantine dessert.
The Knafeh is a thick, porridgy, subtly sweet baked cheesy blob with a crunchy crushed cereal-like top. The added booza was like a clotted cream with thick, sticky texture. Crushed pistachios on top was a good addition and unlimited sugar syrup was at our disposal. I believe that this is a love it or hate it dessert. And judging by the lines - loads of people love it. Unfortunately, I don't think this is for me...
If you want to try this place, they will be here again from 19-22nd of Feb!
Knafeh (pop up)
Cnr George St & Parramatta Rd
North Strathfield
NSW 2137

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cho Cho San - Potts Point

I had heard of Cho Cho San for quite some time, but have never really been bothered to take myself to Potts Point to try it out. Luckily, one of my colleagues was more motivated to go here and booked us a table. The interior of Cho Cho San is quite hipster and trendy. A long shared table, some window/bar type tables and some small individual tables. Simplistic, naturalistic, hip.
The menu here is simple and not massively extensive. However, we still couldn't be bothered to choose so we opted for the 'Feed me Please' set menu - and added a raw beef tataki because I had read on other blogs that it was heaps tasty.

The first bite of the set menu was the edamame beans. Coated lightly with salt, seaweed and pepper, these were tasty but nothing super flash.
Next came the petuna ocean trout. This was really tasty. Fresh, sweet, with this yummy sweet vinegary soy ish sauce. Black pepper was also sparingly sprinkled on the delicious slices of fish.
I don't eat eggplant. I really don't like it in mushy stews and I just don't like it. Period. However, at Cho Cho San, the eggplant came out in a super super crunchy tempura form with just the right amount of miso flavour. The tempura was SOOO crisp... I actually ate a whole eggplant piece! (super record for me)
 The beef tataki was ordered as an extra plate. The raw beef was really nicely marbled and melt-in-your-mouth. The smoothness of the beef contrasted really well with a bed of crispy wild rice. The sweet ginger dressing was also pretty amazing with the thin beef slices.
The kingfish collars surprised me. There were big chunks of fish what were amazingly smooth, sweet and delectable. The squeeze of lime just finished off this seafood delicacy perfectly.
A big pile of soba noodles came next. The noodles were chilled but subtly flavoured (sesame, soy, mirin etc???). Tossed with sesame and piled full of edamame. It looks simple, and it was, but it was my kind of comfort food.
My least favourite dish was the celery dish. I think it may have been used as a palate cleanser? Not much taste... just celery - plain.
The last savoury dish that came out was the soy glazed wagyu beef. This exceeded my expectations. Perfectly cooked beef - rare ish. Super tender, quite melt-in-your mouth. Heavy sweet brown sauce. Lots of onion flavour. Sooooo delicious. Definitely will want this dish again some time!
Dessert-time was green tea soft serve. There was great green tea flavour without the crappy powdery stuff. One of the best green tea soft serves I have had. YUM.
 Good simple flavours here. Some pretty good dishes. Difficult parking situation... Maybe public transport here if you can... :)

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7.5/10
Value for money - 7/10

Overall - 30/40

Cho Cho San
73 Macleay Street
Potts Point
NSW 2011
Tel: (02) 9331 6601

Monday, February 9, 2015

Vic's Meats - Pyrmont

I've been meaning to check out Vic's meats at the Sydney Fish Markets for a while, but it's been a bit of a struggle trying to convince hubby to go to the fish market and not focus on prawns and sashimi and seafood platters.

Vic's meats is located kind of at the carpark of the Fish Markets. It's got a small ish but good-quality butcher attached to a smokery where you can grab a quick bite - pulled pork sandwich, brisket, cheeseburger, wings, lamb cutlets, pork ribs or beef short ribs. So in short, just a meat fest. There's also a section here where you can get super premium cuts of wagyu cooked teppanyaki style - a tad pricey though...
With our memories of how awesome smokey meats were in America, we were a bit dubious as to whether this could be replicated in Sydney. All the meats were smoked on site in this industrial, mean-looking smoker on the back side of the store. I ordered the pulled pork "sandwich" and hubby got an open beef brisket sandwich (which really just means that you get the meat and slaw separate from the bread. It was all put together really quite sloppily, but thankfully, it was quite tasty.
Hubby's beef brisket wasn't quite as tender or as smokey as the ones in America, but it was quite enjoyable nonetheless. The bbq sauce was really tasty, as was his slaw. I believe my pulled pork sandwich was tastier. The pulled pork was super juicy and succulent and packed full of flavour (with help of the smokey, slightly sweet sauce). The whole thing fell apart easily and the mustard pickle slaw went a bit everywhere but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Quite a tasty little bite :) If only I had some hot chips to go with it all, it would be perfect~
I think that Vic's meats is worth a try. Even if you're not super full after the bite, you can just duck next door and fill yourself up with prawns and lobsters and what not. Win win situation really.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29/40

Vic's Meats
Sydney Fish Markets
50-60 Bank Street
Pyrmont, NSW 2009
Tel: (02) 8570 8570

Friday, February 6, 2015

Balla - Pyrmont

I'm so behind on my blogging this year. Things have just been so hectic - just with the day to day stuff, and before you know it, it's Februrary! Hubby and I visited Balla at the Star for my birthday this year. I was looking for simple, delicious Italian food and was hoping to find it here. Being from a whole month ago, my memory of this place is quite hazy... so it probably wasn't as memorable as I wished, but I do think it was an enjoyable enough experience.

The restaurant on the night was busy busy busy. And extremely noisy. The packed environment stressed me a bit but I guess rowdiness is part of the Italian experience? Their wine list comes on an i-pad and the connoisseur basically told us to just flick through as he rushed from table to table.

Food-wise, we decided on an antipasto and an entree to share. We got 50g of Proscuitto San Daniele and 50g of the Finochietta Balla. The proscuitto was really delicious, as expected. Shaved really thin and full of flavour. The finochietta require more chewing action but rather tasty nonetheless. They were a bit stingy on the bread sticks and if there wasn't the bread (which comes normally) we would be asking for way more bread sticks.
The duck ravioli we ordered to share was reasonably tasty. Pasta cooked al-dente, but the filling was slightly uneventful. It came with crispy sage and a creamy potato and garlic sauce. I'm not used to having potato sauces... cos really, it's just a creamy creamy mash. Mash with pasta? Mmm.... a bit thick and gluggy, but atleast it was tasty mash :)

For the mains, hubby had the line caught snapper. Now this I remember as the fish was cooked perfectly. The fish was falling off the bone, still really juicy and came with delicious pesto. I think I liked the walnut pesto a tad better than the salsa verde - but really, both were good. So if you don't mind eating a whole fish - head and bones and all (which, being asian, we have no problems with), this is a good dish to order.
I had their pork special. I don't remember much about it. I think it was roasted well, with a good glaze. A good mix of fat and meat that made it just the right tenderness and juiciness. And it came with onion and a mustard??? sauce.... maybe? Hahaha! Other than - 'the meat was good' , the dish escapes my mind.
We also had a side of asparagus with reggiano which came really late. But the asparagus was good, especially with the slightly melted cheese. Can't fault it really.
By then, we were both really full. Nothing on their dessert menu excited me so we decided to skip that.

All up - not a bad evening of food. Didn't like the hustle and bustle within the restaurant very much... so, don't think I'll be in a hurry to return any time soon~

Food - 7.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 5.5/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 27/40

Level G, Harbourside 
The Star 
80 Pyrmont St
Pyrmont, NSW 2009
Tel: (02) 9657 9129

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Aqua S - Sydney

We were just chilling around and checking out random stuff in the city when we came across Aqua. This soft serve place caught my eye immediately - not only because of their theme colour (which is my favourite - blue), nor their interesting flavours (salt, lemon tea, biscuit), but the look of the final product, especially when fairy floss, candied popcorn and popping candy is involved!

I walked past and immediately stopped my hubby mid-step. My brain was like "say waaahttt?".
I already didn't OTT my sugar intake. I opted for the salt soft serve (which is blue!!!!) with popping candy and fairy floss. Took a lot of restraint to not get the candied popcorn, and I didn't really care for toasted marshmellows. The result? Fancy looking soft serve which has to potential to be the next Sydney fad. (but an expensive one at that)

The salt soft serve was quite salty ... but I love salt. Salted caramel, salted chocolate... salted anything! Turns out, I think I just like salt cos salt serve is my new best friend :) The popping candy was also awesome!!! That with fairyfloss is what childhood memories are made of. I would recommend eating it in-store if you are messy like me instead of trying to run to the car in the rain with this concoction in your hand as you end up with crusted sugary crystals and syrups all over you (I learnt the hard way...).

Aqua S
Regent Place
501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(Next to Sedap)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sushi Hotaru - Sydney

Sushi trains bring back lots of memories. High school trip to Japan where a bunch of rowdy teens filled the whole sushi train shop. Lots of wasted time in HK waiting to be seated (cos every sushi train was super crowded back in the day). Late night after-uni sushi training. Much happiness indeed. So when we were invited by lovely Sue to dine at Sushi Hotaru, we jumped to the occasion.
It was my virgin trip to Sushi Hotaru, even though there has been many good things about the place. The first thing that drew my eye was the mosaic backdrop - sets the scene well :)
the chef (off to side) was camera-shy but super friendly :)
Most sushi plates are $3, which is awesome really. And not only can you pick off the train, you can also order off their i-pads (which unfortunately for me, means a lifetime of indecisiveness). Nonetheless, we made our choices and left stomachs satisfied.
Sushi Hotaru adds three-four new menu items each year. Guess that means you can come back time after time and try something yummy. For tonight, some of the new items included a crunchy prawn and cucumber roll, pork buns and seared chilli squid nigiri. That's where my search for new items stopped and instantly, focus was on eating. The seared chilli squid nigiri was super tasty. Slightly charred flavour, sweet (sauce-wise and seafood-wise), hint of chilli, all freshness and just zomg YUM. A plethora of really pleasing flavours - took a lot of self control to not order a second.
On Sue's recommendation, I punched in the beef tataki nigiri. Being two slices of Australian Wagyu, slightly seared, topped with onion, ginger and shallot, it was soft, light-meaty tasting and didn't requite too much chewing. Much much yummier than other beef tataki's I've had in other places.
The salmon nigiri also came with glowing recommendations. A large, really fresh slice of salmon atop of neatly made rice ball. What could go wrong really! Delicious :) I have to say, I liked the salmon nigiri more than the ship sushi with salmon bits and salmon roe which was OK but lacked the wow. The salmon and avocado roll was also good but again, just like your standard. 
I would highly recommend using the screens if you are ordering sushi's with deep-fried or seared things. We took a few dishes straight from the conveyor belt - one of them being the soft shell crab roll. It wasn't bad - it's just that I could imagine all the potential - how much more awesome it could have been if it was made to order. And I guess they also have good QC on their train - every two hours, someone's checking to make sure that the sushi training around is still good to eat, discarding any that don't look appetising.
Halfway through our meal, the chef handed over a pork bun. I took it before I realised that I didn't order it. I was about to stammer out that it wasn't ours when the chef happily waved the dish back to us and told us to try. I was super glad we did. The pork was melt in your mouth. The pork fat aromas filled my mouth and the warm, soft steamed bun was there to soak up all the oils. And of course, the kewpi - just completed the whole bun for me. A bit of lettuce and some sweet brown sauce... the package was just deliciousness!
Hubby ordered an eel hand roll. Unfortunately, he felt like the eel needed a bit more sauce. He also chose the lobster salad ship sushi. I thought it was good (but I like all salad-dressinged things) but hubby thought it was so so. Nonetheless, we ended the meal with a bang as I ordered two more really yummy items (which were a bit similar but oh so yummy) - the seared scallops (with and without the chilli and sweet sauce) and the seared chilli salmon. It's similar in flavour in some ways - but the fact that one was a salmon and one was a scallop allowed you to differentiate and look at each sushi with renewed appreciation.
All up, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Sushi Hotaru. Tasty and fresh (especially when ordering off their fancy screens), definitely a good choice for a fast quenching of sushi craving. Moreover, if you eat here enough, you can collect stamps on their loyalty card - one stamp for every $20 - 10% off for every 5th stamp! Happy hour here is from 2.30pm to 5.30pm where miso soup or green tea is given for free :)

Sushi Hotaru (Town Hall)
125-129 Bathurst Street
NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9264 1630

We dined as guests of Sushi Hotaru and SD Marketing