Saturday, May 23, 2015

Belly Bao - Sydney

The Asian style - white open 'baos' made hipster by David Chang is pretty "in" nowadays. One of the institutions captilising on this fluffy bun trend is Belly Bao. Located within the GoodGod bar, the dining areas are PACKED on the Thursday night that we visited. The main reason for that is their 'baoger' - the promise of a super juicy burger with a really soft 'bao' bun.

Due to the number of patrons for the night, it took FOREVER for the food to come. Half an hour in to waiting, we finally got our wings and baos. The wings were pretty deliciousness. Crunchy batter and super juicy tender chicken. 
The baos were also quite good. The buns were soft enough (not not as soft as Momofuku ones). Hubby got the crackling roast pork belly bao. The crackling was really good and the pork belly was soft and tender. My braised beef short rib, served with kimchi, was also quite good. Soft flaky sweet ish beef with all it's juices. Hard to say no to it. Our friends got slow braised pork belly ones and no real complaints from them either.
After a whole hour of us waiting (rather impatiently) we finally got our burgers. It was quite a decent sized burger. The bun was nice and soft with toasted sesame seeds plastered over. The patty was juicy and cooked well and who can say no to the really tasty mayo sauce? There was also a good handful of veges/pickles and yummy melted cheese. I have to say, it was a good burger. But was it worth an hour wait??? probably not....
We also had sweet potato chips with spicy mayo. Crispy yes. But nothing too special.
 All up, the food was pretty good. However, it was a bit too crowded and the service a bit too lacking. Despite the yummy burger, I'm a bit hesitant to return.

Ratings:
Food - 8.5/10
Service - 5/10
Ambiance - 5/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 26.5/40

Belly Bao
GoodGod Small Club
53-55 Liverpool Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Green Peppercorn - Sydney

Thai food is better eaten with friends because you get to sample so much more food. I've been to Green Peppercorn in Fairfield but I'd never been to their Sydney joint. Our friends, however, swear that this is one of their favourite Thai places and come here on a regular basis. We also ordered much of their favourite dishes.

The Charcoal OX tongue didn't look too pretty but it was absolutely deliciousness. It was flavourful, succulent and slightly chewy. Pretty yum, especially with the special dipping sauce.
The chicken feet salad was another favourite. De-boned chicken feet is heaps easy to eat. Slightly chilli but packed full of flavour.
Pad thai is always my favourite go-to dish. The pad thai here was pretty good - slightly too chilli for me when I mixed in all the the chilli flakes, but otherwise, not too bad a noodle dish.
One of the specials was their pork knuckle. It was massive!!! Crispy skinned, caramelised sweet sauce, fall-off-the-bone meat. Cannot complain - I was in pork heaven :)
 Dessert-wise, our friends order their fried icecream every single time. Delicious caramelised sweet sauce, flaky thin filo pastry and a good amount of nuts to add the crunch. Pretty deliciousness.
I wanted to try their mango coconut dessert with coconut jelly, coconut milk and sago. It was really really good. I loved it! Really refreshing, not too sweet, a good combination of flavours. YUM!
All up, a pretty good dinner. Would love to come back again sometime.

Ratings:
Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 30/40

Green Peppercorn
Civic Hotel Level 1
388 Pitt Street 
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 8080 7043

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pilu at Freshwater

For our anniversary dinner this year, we decided to go to a restaurant that we'd thought about going to for years and years - ever since we saw Giovanni at a Taste of Sydney festival almost a decade ago. We braved the torrential rains that night and headed to Freshwater to dine at Pilu and was greeted by really nice and friendly waitstaff. Needless to say, the beautiful ocean view was denied for the night.

Because of our indecisive natures, the degustation was the ideal choice for the night. We were initially served with a welcome gift of savoury cookies. These cookies were pretty tasty, slightly cheesy in flavour and definitely served to whet our appetite.
The bread we got for the night was freshly baked, warm, crunchy outsides and soft innards. The butter was nicely whipped and quite tasty.
The first course we got was the Hiramasa kingfish. Thinly sliced really sweet kingfish was accentuated with the mild spice of friggitelli and pine nut pesto, and a really delicious side salad of corn (and singular caper).
 The next course smelt delicious but was rather confusing. Mr Giovanni came out and served the milky, cheesy pecorino consomme himself and poured it atop the tiny hand-rolled fregola, sweet pumpkin cubes and cavolo nero (ie the green stuff). It was so fragrant... but a bit of a let down. But then again, I've never been a fan of soupy rice, whatever flavour it may be.
I found the next pasta dish was much more appetising, even if it initially did look like little green worms on a plate. The parsley flavour in the pasta mixed really well with the orange chilli paint in the bowl. Bits of mussels and chickpeas were mixed in, but the pasta and sauce itself was tasty enough.
Next up was the fish. A perfectly cooked piece of Mulloway sat atop the most sweet and deliciously charred cabbage. Yummy buttery shrooms were good but not necessary on the plate. The black paint was delicious squid ink. The orange mustard sauce was slightly less so.
Next up was Pilu's famous suckling pig. You definitely don't get much of this signature dish but the bits that you do get are wonderfully deliciousness. The skin is crispy and the meat is really nice and tender and flavoursome. You get sides of pickled raddish, cabbage and roast potatoes. All really tasty really.
Dessert-wise was a bit of let down for me. But that's probably cos non-chocolate desserts are not my preference. The more refreshing of the two desserts was the textures of pear. A soft-poached pear with pear sorbet. I think if you like pear, you would like this.
The other dessert, and the finale of the night was a Sardinian fried pastry filled with ricotta and sultanas and drizzled with honey. The pastry was nice and crispy and there was a decent dollop of ricotta in it. The pastry wasn't too sweet and I guess it was OK... still would have preferred something more chocolately :P
 All up, a decent meal at Pilu. Not the best 2 Hat restaurant we've been to, but it was decent - the food was a bit more traditional than other restaurants. I'm sure that if it was a good clear day, it would be a meal with an amazing food.

Ratings:
Food - 7/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 6.5/10
Overall -  28/40

Pilu at Freshwater
Moore Road
Freshwater
NSW 2096
Tel: (02) 9938 3331

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cafe Paci - Darlinghurst

I've heard many a good things about Cafe Paci but for some reason or another, it's taken me for ever to come and try their food in their ultra hip industrial-chic restaurant. Many people have told me that this pop-up restaurant offers crazy good and amazingly wow Mod Australian dishes and on a drizzly cold Friday lunch, I got to experience their astounding twists of flavours for myself.

Fridays at Cafe Paci mean the option of a fix prix lunch menu ($45pp) for a four and a half course meal (half course = 'snack'). For this Friday, our "snack" was their cheese sticks. Not just any cheesesticks but 'Omg what on earth is this?!?!?' cheesesticks. These deceivingly simple-looking cheese sticks were uber flakey and crunchy, topped with this fairy-floss texture which was snap frozen honey, and pollen (elderflower?) of some sort. That - and just the aromas of freshly baked goodies. It blew my mind away. Pretty good start to the meal.
We also got a loaf of potato bread. I think the waiter said something about this bread being made of potato and wheat and brushed with molasses on top to give that crunch and sweetness. The butter was also really super soft and creamy and made on the house. It's hard to say no to freshly baked bread. However, this bread was a tad dense and a tad too sweet for me.
Our first real course was Pig Tail. I've never eaten pig tail and by choice, I probably wouldn't order pig tail. However, this came out looking pretty picture perfect. The pig tail was lovely and caramelised giving a good crunch (kind of like when you eat pork crackling when you dig into some pork belly), it was super duper tender and the fat-meat ratio made this cut of meat super juicy and melt-in-your-mouth. Don't forget the awesomely sticky and delicious sauce and the thinly sliced celeriac to balance it all out. They also had some dehydrated cumquats on top to give that citrousy zing to it (kind of like when you add orange to beef cheeks). Pretty tasty introduction to pig tail I think.
Next up was a NZ snapper. Perfectly cooked fish with crispy skin. This fish sat in a pool of vadouvan (or as the waiter nicely explained - an Indian curry spice which goes well in French-inspired cooking because it blends well with garlic and shallots). There was also a lemon sauce, a super tasty spinach puree and some wilted and fresh spinach leaves. On top, there were these thin brown crispy slices of mustard. Very interesting and visually appealing dish.
With the fish came a side of potatoes. This was potatoes with a creamy potato sauce. Yes - we are talking potato puree with loads of butter and loads of cream and ZOMG let me lick the bowl clean now!
Our next dish was a palate cleanser or pre-dessert of cucumber sorbet and yoghurt mousse. This cucumber sorbet was sooooooo refreshing! I don't know how to describe it properly... You know how cucumber is 'crunchy water'? Well, cucumber sorbet is cold, smooth, tasty, refreshing water? The light yoghurt foam, which had just the right balance of sweetness, complimented the cucumber sorbet nicely.
Last course of the day was a milk sorbet with rhubarb, molasses syrup and meringue. The milk sorbet was a bit tasteless... kind of just cold texture. The thin meringue pieces were sugary goodness and the rhubarb was cooked nicely.
 All up, for $45, it was a pretty damn impressive lunch. Super delicious and really satisfying. Definitely in need of a visit if you haven't already.

Ratings:
Food - 9/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 7.5/10
Value for money - 8.5/10
Overall - 32.5/40

Cafe Paci
Level 1, 95 Riley Street
Darlinghurst
NSW 2010
Tel: (02) 9368 7000

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sonamuya - Eastwood

I was intrigued by this Korean restaurant in Eastwood as their banner says 'Joyful eating for Healthy Living'. They serve a bibimbap buffet and unlimited pork cutlet rice for lunch, both for $11. We had that one time - good value, good tasting food. However, for this day, we came with a few friends for dinner.

The banchan (side dishes) here were pretty deliciousness. I guess they would be making heaps of this stuff as some of these ingredients go on the bibimbap buffet spread also.
We ordered a hotpot, fried chicken, and beef ribs to share. The hotpot was a good size and filled with delicious ingredients - beef, octopus, mushies and veges. The soup was sweet ish and really tasty. Seems tasty and healthy enough :)
The marinated beef rib mini pot was absolutely deliciousness! Slightly too sweet but the beef was soooo melt-in-your-mouth. Zomg, I could eat this and nothing else. It was so good!
And just to round up the night with something slightly less healthy - korean fried chicken. Half spicy, half original. Lots of crunch. Tender, juicy chicken. Pretty awesome~
I was pretty happy with this meal. I would definitely come back for more. Be aware, however, that this restaurant is tiny... so getting a table here may be a bit hit and miss.

Ratings:
Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 30/40

Sonamuya
Rowe Street
Eastwood
NSW 2122

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Huong Xua - Canley Heights

It's been cold. It's been windy. It's been windy. Perfect weather to curl up in bed. And perfect weather for a hot bowl of pho. As I work in Bankstown, going to Pho An (in Bankstown) on a non-work day did not seem appealing. We were also already frequent flyers at our favourite Flemington pho joint. So for something a bit different, we trekked to Viet town Canley Heights in search for a delicious bowl of noodle and we ended up at Huong Xua.

Being early, we were seated quickly and service was relatively attentive. They order on a smart phone so it initially felt like the waitress was texting her friend whilst taking my order, but all was good as my delicious looking beef ball and beef tripe pho came out promptly. The soup tasted really really clean. Delicious aromas, not too sweet, not too overpoweringly herby, and did not leave me wanting to drink endless cups of water. To me - that's a pretty perfect bowl of pho :)
People all around seemed to be ordering this chicken thing, so we didn't want to be left out. Hubby ordered their steamed salty chicken noodle soup. The plate of chicken wasn't big but it sure looked tasty. You dip the steamed chicken in a salt and kaffir lime type mixture and it makes the chicken really tasty, tender and strangely addictive. The noodles and the soup base were also pretty good.
So I guess we were both pleased with our decision to trek to Viet-town, rain and all. Can't wait to go back for another bowl of super tasty noodle soup! (oh, and btw, we ordered the small bowl. They have this crazy massive bowl and a food challenge for all those big eaters - with the prize being a photo and the joyous pride of being able to keep the bowl)

Ratings:
Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 8.5/10
Overall - 30/40

Huong Xua 
4/219 Canley Vale Road
Canley Heights 
NSW 2166
Tel: (02) 8764 4117

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Cafe Shenkin - Erskineville

It was the long weekend and my uncle was over from Hong Kong. He seems to like coffee so I had every intention of taking him and my parents to Brewtown for some delicious coffee and cronuts. The plan was thwarted as a million other people also seemed to want coffee and cronuts that same day. Plan B? Cafe Shenkin we went.

Having some larger communal tables up back, our party of 5 were seated quite promptly (I did call ahead to put my name down on their list 10 mins before we arrived). Coffee was good. Better than I expected. The milk and froth in my cappuccino melded in smoothly and creamily with my coffee.
My mum ordered their Israeli Big Breakfast, only to be shocked by why it was so big. Two pita breads, two eggs, labne, smoked salmon, avocado, tuna and a cucumber and tomato tabouleh type salad made this plate look pretty impressive.
I convinced my uncle to try their shakshuka with chorizo. He was initially confused as to how to tackle this big pan full of red soup - but one he dug in, he seemed to quite enjoy the middle eastern flavours. My only gripe with this is that it looked heaps watery. I'm pretty sure I can make less watery but just as tasty shakshukas at home!
Hubby got the Ziva - which was a olive and sesame puff pastry with hard boiled egg accompanied by a plethora of dips. The hommus was tasty and came as a generous serving. The other dips and chutneys were also really tasty - I just don't know what they're called...
I ordered a spinach and feta puff pastry with fried egg and salad. I was a little underwhelmed by my choice. There was barely any puff to my puff pasty and any spinach and feta that was promised was scarce. The egg was just that... and nothing too impressive about my salad either. Rather a 'meh' dish.
My dad went for non-middle eastern flavours. He played it safe with the 'eggs benny'. Two poached eggs on english muffins with hollandaise sauce drizzled on top. A classic that really can't go that wrong.
So all up, I think my uncle was pleased to have tried something different - something that Honky people don't have much exposure to. I felt like the coffee was good, the waiters were patient but the food was a bit hit and miss.

Ratings:
Food - 7/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29/40

Cafe Shenkin
53 Erskineville Road
Erskinville
NSW 2043
Tel: (02) 9550 5511