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.

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

Rowe Street
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)

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.

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

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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Code Black Roasters - North Melbourne

One of the many things that Melbourne does better than Sydney is their coffee. For whatever reason - Melbourne coffee is mostly smooth and creamy and delicious, whereas in Sydney, getting one of these creamy rich coffees is like winning the lotto. So it was a no-brainer that we would be hitting a lot of cafes whilst we were in this wonderful city.
We visited Code Black Roasters which is a few blocks away which is a few blocks away from the Queen Victoria Markets. The place was hipster - you could tell by the bearded employees and the crowd that's here (mac-books galore). As predicted - coffee was AWESOME. Rich, aromatic, creamy, hits the spot.
Foodwise, I ordered the hot smoked salmon and hubby ordered a 'T-rone' steak sandwich. The toasted sourdough sandwich had thin porterhouse steaks cooked medium (or a bit more medium-well) with thin haloumi slices, iceberg lettuce, a jalapeƱo mustard and tomato sauce. It was tastier than I thought. The steak slices were more tender than expected and the haloumi and mustard complemented the meat well.
My hot smoked salmon was cooked through and a bit tough and rubbery. I would have much preferred it loads more pink. Likewise, my poached egg was overdone and un-runny which was a let down. I liked the crispy herb potato hash and of course, the avocado (which you can't really get wrong). The hollandaise sauce was also OK. All up - it was OK... just not great.
So I guess that the coffee was amazing but the food may need to be refined a bit.

Food - 6.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 6.5/10
Overall - 26/40

Code Black Roasters
119 Howard Street
North Melbourne
Tel: (03) 9381 2330

Monday, March 23, 2015

Grand Trailer Park Taverna - Melbourne

A couple of my friends in Melbourne seem to love burgers as they go to Grill'd on a regular basis. Just for a change, I thought I'd lure them to try another burger joint - Grand Trailer Park Taverna. Stepping in their upstairs venue, it gave off a retro style vibe - disco balls, fairy lights, trailer type seats. Kinda fun and casual feeling.
My friends ordered a spiked milkshake each. One was the peanut butter and jelly, and the other, the kinder surprise. Does it surprise you that there's an actual Kinder Surprise sitting atop the frangelico/baileys milk concoction? It was kinda tasty and quite sweet. I liked it more than the PB and Jello which tasted a bit more like cough syrup with the Captain Morgans Rum in it.
Burgerwise, hubby ordered the KSA, which is pretty much the original burger with beef, cheese, tomato, lettuce and sauce on a brioche bun. The bun was a bit dense and proved to be a bit too much by the end of the burger. The balance of their 'special sauce' and mustard was pretty tasty with the juicy meat patty. Not a bad burger. I just wanted a different bun.
I couldn't resist but get a deep-fried mac and cheese croquette in my burger. Deep fried mac and cheese IN my burger!!! It made my burger massive and even more massive than need be. Loads and loads of carb. Yum in the first bite. After that - a little too dense. The rest of the burger was pretty delicious though :)
Chips were also quite tasty. Crispy enough on the outside and soft and fluffy on the insides. A must get accompaniment to burgers I think :)

Food - 7/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 6.5/10
Overall - 27/40

Grand Trailer Park Taverna
87 Bourke Street
VIC, 3000
Tel: (03) 99723699

Friday, March 20, 2015

Hakata Gensuke - Melbourne

There's lots of lines for eating places in Melbourne. We lined up at HEAPS of them this trip. Luckily for us, Hakata Gensuke was one long line we managed to side step as we came here a little later than the normal lunch crowd.
The ramen portion here is not big, but the soup is thick enough that the package as a whole is filling enough (for lunch anyway). The three of us ordered slightly different soup bases. I ordered their signature Tonkotsu with an addition of a runny (super delicious) egg. The pork broth was super flavoursome. Thick. Collagen-rich. A tender pork cha-cha slice, black fungus and spring onions came with thin noodles. I got my noodles cooked normal - you could also request them hard or softer than normal. I loved it - hit the spot for my ramen craving.
Hubby go the black Tonkotsu. Lots of garlicy flavour in this. And super super black. The soup was slightly less thick than my signature tonkotsu but was heaps yum anyway. Again, it came with pork, black fungus and spring onions. Hubby got the noodles with goey egg and seaweed (the sides are NOT cheap).
Our friend ordered the 'God Fire'. As the name suggests - it was spicy! You could request the level of spice. My friend (being Korean) ordered a spice level of 3 of 4. It was a huge hit of chilliness. He seemed to quite enjoy the noodles, so I guess it was tasty enough :).
I would come back. But I love ramen - so I'm possibly biased. However, the amount of lines that we see as we go past this place suggests that other people like this place too.

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

Hakata Gensuke
168 Russell Street
VIC, 3000
Tel: (03) 9663 6342

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

400 Gradi - Brunswick (Melbourne)

World's best pizza and I don't have to fly half way around the world for it? That's right! The amazing pizza maker at 400 Gradi recently won the title of 'world's best pizza' for their Margherita pizza. As we were in Melbourne for the F1, we thought that we'd take the opportunity to check out just how good this pizza is. Situated on Lygon Street (and also another branch at the Crown), I was a little worried about the potential for it being a tourist trap type place. Luckily, the restaurant was far far away from the tourist bit of Lygon.

We had to order the Margherita - but we added anchovies to it. The pizza base was pretty amazing. It was thin and soft on the middle of the pizza, doughy and chewy on the edges and just that tiny bit of crispiness. The tomato base was rich and the cheese was really tasty and stretchy. When you eat it the traditional way (ie. you roll it all up), it was the perfect bite every time. The anchovies gave the whole pizza an extra dimension.
We also got a pasta - the tagliatelle con prosciutto crudo croccante. In English, it means pasta with crispy prosciutto, rocket and shaved parmesan. What's not to love about it? The pasta was cooked al-dente. There was a ton of salty prosciutto to it, and we got extra cheese to add to it if we wanted. It was pretty tasty. I wish we got a bit more rocket though~
We couldn't look past dessert. We ordered the tiramisu and the chocolate fondant. The tiramisu was really smooth and creamy. Good amount of coffee flavour in it. Quite liked it. The chocolate fondant came with vanilla bean ice-cream and a sprinkle of white chocolate shavings. The fondant was oozy on the inside... but not oozy enough for my liking. It was nice and chocolately and dense, and the ice-cream was yum. I was expecting a bit more from this dish but I guess it was OK.
So all up, pretty delicious pizza. Tasty pasta. Good desserts. Be sure to book if you are planning to come here - just in case!

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

400 Gradi 
99 Lygon Street
VIC, 3055
Tel: (03) 9380 2320