Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tanaphorn Thai - Kingsford

After an evening statistics class on a dreary Monday morning, food was definitely on the agenda.

Long discussions about what to eat followed, and it was agreed - dirt cheap (yet edible) Chinese food in Kingsford.

And hence, there we were, stepping into a Thai place. (what happened???)

Tanaphorn Thai

Nonetheless, having settled down near the back of the restaurant, we chose our dinners and patiently awaited... and waited... and waited...

And, it came!
My favourite thai noodles (ie. chicken pad thai) came steaming hot and hugely piled on my plate. The menu promised "Thai rice noodles pan-fried with chicken, together with king prawn, egg...." for a mere $9.90. And "king prawn", in the singular, it was! It was still delicious and very filling.

Chicken pad thai - $9.90

Then came the Barbeque chicken salad ($14.90) that two of my friends ordered. A refreshingly fresh and filling salad with a sweet type of dressing and very yum was kind of the description I got from my friends. The fact that one of my friends who tends to be on a strict chicken and chips diet (and doesn't have the word vegetable in his dictionary) found the salad apetising must be saying something!

Barbeque Chicken Salad - $14.90

And lastly, the 'Pad num plik paow' (aka chicken stir fry in chilli jam sauce - $10.90) arrived, also steaming hot. The comment I got regarding this dish was, 'kind of like sweet chilli, but not actually sweet-chilli sauce', which I thought made sense given that chilli = chilli, and jam = sweet and hence, chilli jam must = sweet chilli.


Pad num plik paow - $10.90

In all, not a bad place to chill and chat after a horrendously boring and long day at uni.

Ratings:
Food - 7/10
Service - 5/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 25/40

Tanaphorn Thai
510 Anzac Parade
Kingsford, NSW, 2032
Tel:
9663 5277

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sydney Fish Market - Pyrmont

I LOVE seafood! (especially fresh raw seafood)
So I was super happy when my partner finally decided to take me to the fish market.


What did I want to eat?
Absolutely everything!
Sashimi salmon, sashimi scallops, oysters, prawns, seaweed salad... and so the list continues.


What did my partner want to eat?

Deep fried calamari rings.

As we do have limited stomachs (and because my partner's list was relatively shorter), we decided to give up on some of the items on my list of wishes. Which, was fair enough... kind of.


As I mentioned before, I love going to the fish market. It's so big and exciting that I want to look at absolutely everything (much to the dislike of my partner who hates walking).

Mud crabs - seem to be in multitudes today.

Ooo... my scallops!!!

Nonetheless, after our routine scout of the place and checking out what each store had to offer, this is what we decided on.

Christies

Salmon sashimi from Christies (simply because the line at Peters was overwhelming, and thus, off-putting to our hungry stomachs). The salmon was fresh and super super tasty! mmm... satisfies my week-long craving.

Salmon sashimi... mmm

Oysters, also from Christies (because this is where we always get our oysters). We were tossing up between the oysters from Coffin Bay and the Hawkesbury, but, when crunch time came, Hawkesbury came blurting out of my partner's mouth. So, Hawkesbury it is! And an excellent choice at that! The oysters were big and fat and juicy and oh so yummy!

Oysters in multitude

Our potential oysters

Oysters which ended up in my stomach

And, my must-have on every trip to the fish market - seaweed salad! (also from Christies for convenience sake).
Seaweed Salad

The Man at BBQ Grill

And of course, we ordered a seafood platter to satisfy my partner's cravings. After bringing up all our past experiences of not finishing even half a seafood platter for 2, I convinced him to get the seafood platter for 1 from BBQ Grill, which, as it turns out, was a horrible decision - as it was quite unexpectedly small, and left us wanting.
Seafood platter for One

Not to worry! I still had items on my food wish list. But, it was overridden by my partner's fantastic idea to taste the new yum-cha place that opened. Images of siu mai and prawn dumplings floated to my head and not a moment later, we were upstairs in (almost empty) restaurant. There, we were greeted by many friendly staff, and were asked many many times why we went so late (as it was nearing 3pm).
Yum cha place - Fisherman's Wharf Seafood Restaurant

Shortly after we sat down, my
siu mai's came offering themselves to me! And, these were pretty damn good siu mai's (beats the ones at Din Tai Fung anyday!)

Siu Mai (pork and prawn dumplings)

Whilst I was happy chomping on my siu mai, my partner went ahead and ordered pumpkin xiao long bao. Although they looked kind of like xiao long bao, the skin of these was that of a xiao giao (prawn dumpling) - ie. not the usual skin. And the fact that there was pumpkin in it tainted the experience a little (as my partner conveniently forgot that I don't eat pumpkin >.<). Nonetheless, for the sake of tasting it, I bravely entered into unknown territory. It comprised of pork and prawn pieces (similar to a prawn dumpling you get at any other yum cha place) but with some mushy pumpkin bits (which thankfully, didn't have that strong pumpkin taste to it). So, it was ok! (for a non-pumpkin eater, that must be kind of a good rating... right?)
Pumpkin-flavoured xiao long bao (mini pork buns)

But, my favourite dish at this place, the xia jiao (prawn dumpling). It was deeeellliiicccciiiousss!!! :) And because my partner ordered a dish I didn't really eat (ie. the pumpkin thing), I got to eat three of these awesomeness little things! Perfect!

Xia jiao - prawn dumplings

Super close up of the super duper nice xia jiao... mmm

And that concluded our trip to the fish market (for today anyway).

Ratings (our fish market experience):
Food - 9/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 31/40


Sydney Fish Market
Cnr Pyrmont Bridge Road & Bank Street
Blackwattle Bay,
Pyrmont, NSW, 2009
Tel: (02) 9004 1100


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Charcoal Mine Barbeque House - Parramatta

Looking for meat that is super hot, sizzles, and charcoaled when it reaches your mouth?
Korean barbeque is probably the answer for you.

Charcoal Mine

On a cold winter night, my partner and I stumbled into this Korean BBQ store (after much much deliberation about what to eat). And yes, by the time we reached this shop, we were famished and looking longingly to the meat bar.

Selection of raw, marinated and non-marinated meats


Assortment of intestines

For those who don't know what a Korean BBQ involves, you get a hotplate, and raw meat, maybe some vegetables, and you cook it yourself to whatever you deem as perfection. Although the meat bar at Charcoal Mine, being buffet-style, doesn't provide the largest selection of meats, it is adequate and includes scotch fillet (marinated, not marinated, and cubed), beef rib, chicken, sausages, mussels, squid, and various beef intestines. For the vegetarian (though I recommend for you not to step into Korean BBQ places), there are mushrooms, salad, and kimchi (korean spicy pickled veges). They do also provide condiments (chilli, various sauces), rice, and fruit.

Hot plate (fueled by charcoal)

Condiments

Kimchi

More raw meat

So, how do you eat meat from Korean BBQs?
Well first, you take a piece of lettuce.


Then, you take a piece of meat, dab it in the sauce you desire, and place it on top of the lettuce.

The kimchi goes on top of all that.

Add more sauce if you want more taste.

And lastly, you wrap it up and shove it all in your mouth before it falls to pieces.

Oh, of course, the meat should be cooked first! :)


Ratings:

Food - 8/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 28/40

Charcoal Mine Barbeque House
454 Church Street,

North Parramatta, NSW, 2151

Tel: (02) 9630 3299

Sam's Cafe - Epping

Looking for tastes that is a little different?
Try out this little cafe in Epping.

It offers an assortment of unusual Honky eats (e.g., coffee-flavoured meat, rice stuffed in squid) as well as the usual Asian favourites (e.g., spam and egg in instant noodles).

Usually quite crowded on previous visits to this humble little cafe, I was surprised to find it empty on a late-lunch Saturday. Nonetheless, we plowed in and got personalised service.

Although the shop offers fancy meals and desserts, my favourite has got to be the soup. Hence, I opted for the "lobster soup in buns" ($8.00). Most of the other soups come soufflé style, but this particular choice of mine comes with a soup bun, soaked in soup, and covered with cheese. Mmm... yum. (although it might still just be canned soup! LOL)

Lobster soup in buns - $8

My partner ordered the "Russian Borsch" ($6.80). Not as fancy as my soup, but again, probably previously canned. We also decided to share the 'tea flavoured ribs with rice' ($14). This is comprised of pork ribs, soaked in tea-flavoured broth and ovened. Not as tender as I remember it used to be, it was nonetheless, something different to the everyday pork ribs.

Russian Borsch - $6.80

Tea flavoured ribs with rice - $14

Ratings:
Food - 4/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 5/10
Value for money - 5/10
Overall - 20/40

Sam's Cafe
Shop 32
74-76 Rawson St

Epping 2121
Tel: 0424046377

Friday, August 15, 2008

Menya - Haymarket

Menya. Translates to 'noodle shop' in English.

Translates to lack of parking and cash only - for those who drive and habitually CC their way through life.

Nonetheless, the obstacles were encumbered and we were seated, rather too cozily, on a long shared table. I clutched my stomach and hungrily slurped my Calpis Water as I awaited my noodle to come. And it did.

I had ordered an awesomeness-looking ramen: The Ni-tamago ramen ($9.90). Unlike what the name suggests, the 'ni-tamago' which should really mean 'two-eggs' really came out as 6 half-slices of perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg. Resting on a tonkotsu soup base and served with bean sprouts, naruto, and a piece of seaweed. Compared to Ryo's, the soup was less thick and less potent. But ofcourse, we need to stop comparing it to what might be the best ramen in Sydney! The only complaint my partner had about it was the lack of meat but that suited me fine. Swap me a perfectly cooked and seasoned soft-boiled egg for a piece of meat anyday!

Ni-tamago Ramen ($9.90)
Close up of the seasoned tamago

My partner ordered the Kogashi-ninniku Ramen ($9.50). Not as impressive-looking as my ramen, it comprised of caramelised garlic oil, crushed garlic, bean sprouts, pork, naruto and a piece of seaweed, all served on a Tonkotsu soup base.


Kogashi-ninniku Ramen ($9.50)

Menya offered "mini" rice-dish bowls for prices as low as $3.50. So, tempted, my partner and I shared a salmon rice dish. Quite average tasting, but it was surely cheap!

Salmon Rice

After we ordered, I noticed the 'Gozilla Ramen' - a ramen challenge where you have to finish over 2 kg of ramen within half-an-hour. If it is finished, your meal is free! (but if not, there is a price to pay. A dear price of $29.95 for a bowl of ramen). Nonetheless, if you happened to be absolutely famished one day, and you feel like eating noodles like there is no tomorrow, you can attempt to conquer the Gozilla!

Being a small cozy noodle joint, offering a cash only, order before you seat service, I suggest to all those out there who live off their CC to stop by an ATM first. Also, being in the middle of the city, public transport is not such a bad option. The periferals aside, the ramen is better here than at some other places in the city.

Ratings:
Food - 6/10
Service - 5/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 24/40

Menya
Level Ground, Shop TG8, 8 Quay St
(entrance from Thomas Street)
Tel: (02) 9212 1020

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wagaya - Sydney

Wagaya. New. Innovative. Chic.

As I stepped in, I was hit with strong Japanese flavours which made my mouth water. The decor was modern and each group got their own little "cubical" space complete with an ordering LCD touch screen. That is, in addition to the menu, the LCD allows you to browse through the available foods, complete with pictures and descriptions. Ordering is self-service, and simply pressing the enticing pictures of food on the screen brings delicious realities to your table in no time!

LCD order menu.

Menu for the less technologically oriented.

The first thing that came to my mind was scallop sashimi ($6). and coming in a flash, I was not disappointed. These were very fresh and really really sweet. I could eat bucket-loads of this, but there were just so many more enticing food pictures on the menu.

Super fresh and sweet scallop sashimi - $6.

Another favourite of mine, and also a recommended Wagaya dish, is the soft shell crab salad ($9.90). The soft-shell crab came lightly battered and not too oily. Mmm...yum. The salad was also fresh and a welcome contrast to the deep-fried crab.

Soft shell crab salad - $9.90

My partner was intrigued by the eel chazuke ($7.50). This was quite an interesting dish comprised of eel and rice, soaked in green tea. It tasted a bit like asian congee... but I do prefer congee. My partner didn't take well to this type of rice dish and ate no more than a few spoon-fulls. But, I reckon that this is a dish you have to try and decide for yourself, if this is a dish for you.

Eel chazuke - $7.50

Close-up of this wierd dish.

Next thing I happily ordered on the LCD screen was the crab chawanmushi ($6.50). This is a savoury egg-custard with egg, shitake mushrooms, and broad beans. This was nice, but not particularly spectacular. The egg custard was smooth and silky, but when three-quarters of the cup was just egg custard without the other fillings, it does get a bit boring.

Crab chawanmushi - $6.50

Although my partner was coughing, I could not refrain from ordering the takoyaki gratin ($6.90). This was simply takoyaki (octopus) balls with potato and cheese melted on top. Nice tasting, but yet again, quite average.

Takoyaki gratin - $6.90

Lastly, we debated between the 'salmon roulette' sushi (where one of the sushi on the plate is loaded with wasabi) and the rainbow roll. As my partner was scared that I'd make him eat the loaded sushi even if I picked it, we decided to order the rainbow roll ($9.80) to fill our stomachs. The sushi was fresh and delicious. But, we have seen better.

Rainbow Roll - $9.80

Close-up of rainbow roll.

Wagaya is a fun and innovative Japanese eatery. I love ordering on the touch screens and I love how the food comes within minutes. The food is fresh, and although some dishes are better at other Japanese restaurants, Wagaya is not bad for the price required.

Definitely a restaurant worth visiting, even if your not computer savvy.

Ratings:
Food - 7/10
Service - 9/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7/10
+ 1 for innovative menu
Overall - 32/40



Wagaya
Lvl 1/ 78 Harbour St
Haymarket NSW 2000
Tel: 9212 6068

Shanghai Night - Ashfield

I was craving for dumplings since our last visit to Din Tai Fung. And so, Shanghai Night became my tunnel-visioned destination.

Shanghai Night.

We got there early in the evening, and yet the little store was already buzzing with activity. Although the menu on the wall was written in Chinese, and my ability to read these hieroglyphic-like characters is limited, we managed to get a few delicious eats on the table.

Decor of Shanghai Night.

Our order looked a bit like this:

The green bean starch sheet cold noodle ($11.80) came first. Didn't look spectacular, but tasted quite alright (could be because we were extremely hungry). It bought along with it an immensely strong sesame oil. A was a bit disappointed at this because, although the green bean starch sheets are an old time favourite of mine, I preferred the peanuty-based sauce offered at some other Shanghainese restaurants.

Green bean starch sheet cold noodle -$11.80

Then came the crab and pork xiao long bao [mini pork bun with crab] ($9.80). Compared to the xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung, the "skin" of these little buns were quite a bit thicker. However, the flavour burst encased in these dumplings was amazingness. Simply exquisite.

Mini Crab and Pork buns - $9.80

Vinegaring the xiao long bao.

We also ordered the pan-fried pork bun with shallots ($8.80). As I bit into one, I instantly realised that these little pork buns come out extremely hot and fresh (hot enough to burn one's tongue). As I was trying to convince my partner how amazingly wonderful this creation was, he pointed out that the buns seem as if they were deep-fried a the bottom. But, pan-fried or deep-fried, they still tasted pretty awesome.

Pan-fried pork bun with shallots - $8.80

Lastly came the prawn and pork wonton soup ($6.80). By this time, my partner and I were both incredibly satiated. And since these did not look or taste anything like the Shanghainese-style wontons at Din Tai Fung, my partner was none too pleased. Nonetheless, they were... okay?

Prawn and pork wonton soup -$6.80

In all, this shop is able to satisfy any dumpling craving - and quite a cheap and yummy option too! Definitely worth a visit and definitely not a bad alternative to the world famous Din Tai Fung.

Ratings:
Food - 9/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 9/10
Overall - 30/40

Shanghai Night
275 Liverpool Road
Ashfield, Sydney

Tel:
(02) 9798 8437