Monday, August 24, 2009

Wako - Sydney

Wako Japenese Restaurant

Wako japanese restaurant was the destination for lunch, as picked by my trusty friend. Situated on Dixon Street, it was one of the strip of eating places I had wanted to try - but haven't yet had the time to.

Stepping in, I was instantly engulfed by the quite, serene and tranquil atmosphere of what strikes me as a somewhat authentically jap restaurant. Only downside to the somewhat classy and elegant decor was that two big, tall bamboo sticks (stuck on the wall with blue-tak) fell with a super super loud clutter during the middle of our meals. Luckily, the table that the bamboo's landed on was empty, otherwise I daresay that an ambulance would have been involved on our chillaxy lunch. Other than that, I would say that this is fine Jap dining at affordable prices :)

Settling into our menus, I was drawn to the Aburi Sushi "Special" set. Aburi sushi being Flame grilled nigiri, lightly salted on the top, and the "special" set being that it comes with salad, miso soup, agedashi tofu and salmon sashimi. Placing our order was also quite simple... simply press the button on the end of the table, and the waitress/waiter comes "instantly" (after a few moments) out.

Miso Soup

Let's start with the miso soup - it was distinctly more flavoursome than your average packet mix. In fact, the very first sip of this soup set it apart from most miso soups that you get at Jap restaurants. It was rich, full of flavour, yet not overly powerful. It also had that really 'clean' sort of taste, uncontaminated with MSG.

The salad was slightly less appreciated by me. It felt and tasted pretty ordinary yet, it seemed to warrant praise from my partner. I guess, included in such a big set for less than $20, it was quite a bargain.


The salmon sashimi was really something else. It was soooo unexpectedly good and fresh. The pieces were that perfect bite size... thick, yet not overwhelmingly so... and soo sooo sooo freshhhhh!!! Mmmm....

Salmon Sashimi

The agedashi tofu also did not dissappoint. It was light and subtly tasty. And I love the seaweed and shallot on top which adds an extra crunch and texture to it :)

Agedashi Tofu

the "special" set minus the main

Now onto the Aburi sushi - which is actually what I ordered. Coming out on a heavy ceramic plate, looking uniquely Japanesy, I didn't really know what to expect. The very first bite into this... omigosh~~~ The fish was fresh... yet it had that grilled charred type taste to it... AND it was lightly saltedly flavoured. Mmm... The best of the lot was the salmon, and then the scallop. The mackeral in this was slightly too salty for my liking, but all the rest were really good.

Aburi Sushi

My partner had strong faith in his appetite and opted also, for a "special" set. He ordered the Tonkatsu. The Deep-fried bread-crumbed pork was really really good too. The sauce was tasty, the pork was tender and the portion was HUGE... (ooo...btw, his set came with a bowl of rice too!).


As you can imagine, both of us were fully stuffed by the end of lunch. Luckily, the waiters were patient enough to let us just sit and lounge and chill and chat for quite a while after our meals.

Another of our company ordered the Yakiniku set. Looked a little bit overcooked to me... but my friends like their meats thoroughly well-done. So it was very well suited for them. It did look very nicely sauced though~


The salmon chirashi set also looked awesome! Big slices of salmon, generous portions of rice, and salad, and... my friend really appreciated the "pop-ness" of the salmon roe which led to that salty liquid oozing out. Mmm.. must mean that it's fresh and tasty.

Salmon Chirashi

Last but not least, was my God-bro's Unagi-don. He got a HUGEEE piece(s) of Unagi... and the rice looked nicely tanned (indicative of it being well sauced) and no qualms or complaints came from him. I'm sure it was awesome too! (even though I don't eat eel) :P


All in all, it was a great lunching experience. Nice friendly staff who weren't intrusive, yet attentive-ish when you press the button. Awesome food. Good affordable prices. Big portions. Leaves us fully stuffed. Great quiet environment for a chill-out. Seems almost too good to be true!

Food - 9/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 9/10
Overall - 34/40

Number One Dixon
Lvl Ground, Shop 34
1 Dixon Street
NSW, 2000
tel: (02) 9262 9355

Ching Yip Coffee Lounge - Haymarket

Ching Yip Coffee Lounge

With an ongoing yet sudden craving for clay pot rice (aka bowl son rice) - ie. rice cooked in a clay pot with yummy ingredients on top - my partner and I found ourselves going up some dicey elevators in a building filled with closed shops and into a somewhat busy honky-style cafe.

We quickly ordered our clay-pot rice and drinks and were alerted to the (expected) 20 minute wait for the rice. My malted ice holicks was very yum and filling whilst my partner's redbean iced drink with icecream looked somewhat murky and less impressive compared to the ones at Cafe de Macau (in Eastwood).

Iced Holick

Red-bean with icecream

I ordered a chicken and chinese sausage clay pot rice ($10). This was very much much deliciousness. The chicken was smooth and tender and chicken-tasting. The Chinese sausages were very tasty yet I could subconsciously taste the fat oozing out from it. Also, the rice (drenched with soy sauce) and kept sizzling hot by the pot was al

Chicken and chinese sausage clay-pot rice - $10

My partner was slightly more greedy in his selection of toppings - he wanted Chicken and Chinese mushroom with Chinese sausages. After he ordered, he seemed to regret not adding even more topping on (eg. salty fish). Nontheless, my partner thoroughly enjoyed his feast too and demolished the whole thing.

Chicken and mushroom and chinese sausage

Overall, being where it was, you really can't say too much about the service or the decor. However, Sydney-standards-wise, I have to say that this is probably the best tasting clay-pot rice I've had. And for just $10, I think it deserves a re-visit.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 29/40

Ching Yip Coffee Lounge
Level 2 Dixon House
413 Sussex St
tel: (02) 9281 1591

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Max Brenner - Parramatta

Max Brenner

I still remember driving up and down street after street in Paddington trying to find Max Brenner. That must have been close to 6 years ago. When we first heard about how Suckao's work (melting chocolate chips into milk) we were intrigued and determined to find the shop (back then, no one told us the address... just the general vicinity). Since then, as the years have passed, my partner and I have sampled close to almost the whole menu of foods (ranging from the beloved Belgian Waffle to the Chocolate dome to Chocolate Brownie, to the chocolate lick to the chocolate dip... and the list goes on and on and on).

However, recently, our trips to Max Brenner had become extremely scarce. This is probably due to the discovery of other cool chocolate places such as Koko Black, Adriano Zumbo, Lindt Cafe, etc etc etc... Popping up recently on the menu is something new - the Popsicle Fondue for Two ($12.50). This is two chocolate icecream popsicles with a range of dipping sides - pure melted chocolate, crunchy chocolate covered waffle balls, and sprinkles. Excited to try this, we were disappointed some 15minutes later when the waiter came over to inform us that there is apparently none in store. *sighz*

We subsequently changed our order to the Chocolate Fondue for Two ($16.50). This comprised of a pot of melted milk and and a pot of melted dark chocolate with things such as seasonal fruit (which appears to always be strawberries and banana), marshmellows, and banana bread. The chocolate is lovely, yet a tad too sweet. Strawberries were fresh (but slightly contaminated by the abundance of banana - which is something I don't eat).

Chocolate Fondue for Two - $16.50

I also ordered the Peanut Butter Iced Chockie ($7) which is a thick rich mix of peanut butter chocolate iced drink. I was a bit disappointed when this did not come in the usual Alice Cup and instead, was served in a plastic takeaway cup. However, halfway thru the drink, I was glad it was served takeaway as there was no way I could finish it in the store (as my partner would become indefinately bored) hehehehe...

Peanut Butter Iced Chockie - $7

I like Max Brenner, but it has lost the spark it used to when there were very limited stores - when it was just at Paddington and Double Bay and we had to trek to get there. Now that it's everywhere, like Krispy Kremes, it has lost it's intrigue. (oh, but it's still good)

Food - 8/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29/40

Max Brenner (Parramatta branch)
Shop 2187
Level 2 Westfield Parramatta
159-175 Church St
NSW, 2050
tel: (02) 9635 7566

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gumshara - Haymarket


I had done my research and read up of many food blogs (such as Grab Your Fork, Simon Food Favourites, and Chocolate Suze), I felt ready to tackle this supposedly awesome ramen shop.
With super super super thick collagenic soup it is made the "traditional Japanese way", using 120kg of pork bone a day and with NO MSG~ Also advertised was how good collagen is for skin - not that it'll do you any good if you die of a heart attack from the fatty glugginess. :P

Tucked away in a food court in the heart of the city, I had a bit of trouble convincing my partner that this ramen soup would be excellent and as good (if not better than) Ryo's. In fact, being a lazy Saturday lunch time, not seeing any crowds surrounding this little ramen shop, and only two people working in the shop made my heart skip a beat. What if it wasn't as good as it's talked up to be??? I was quickly reassured by the shop assistant's fluent Japanese and the fluent Japanese of the customers before me. The shop had to be good if Jap people own it and if Jap people go to it... rite?

But what better than first-hand experience? I opted for the garlic tonkotsu noodle ($9.50) with an egg ($1.50) whilst my partner got the pork spare rib noodle ($13) with an egg. Only 10 Spare Rib noodles are made in a day - so partner considered himself lucky.

Seasoned Garlic

Garlic Tonkotsu Noodle - $9.50

Pork Spare Rib Noodle - $13

My first gallop of noodles bought a smile to my face. The soup was thick and flavoursome, with the garlicy flavour infused throughout. The soft-boiled season egg was cooked just right. The egg yolk runny (but not too runny) and very tasty. Mmm... My partner's pork spare rib also did not dissappoint. He got a HUGE chunk of meat - tasted as though grilled on a wire rack (and probably was) - and was tender, meaty, and with fat encased throughout. Mmm... My partner slurped down his noodle and his soup and attacked the meat until it was all gone. No exception from me.

With each spoonful, I could feel the collageny fatness stick down my throat. Amazingly, however, my mouth didn't get that usual thirst ick feeling I normally do when I'm attacked by MSG. So the soup, although superbly flavoursome and thick and all the rest of it, probably really doesn't have MSG~ figure that!

All in all, Gumshara is awesome! Because of the thickness of the soup, my partner and I were not hungry for a long long long time - we barely needed any dinner! Would I be back? DEFINATELY! Would I have it everyday? Only if I really wanted a heart attack :)

Food - 9/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 9/10
Overall - 31/40

Eating World Food Court
25-29 Dixon St
NSW, 2000

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Stalactites (2) - Melbourne


Our last meal before we were due to leave the enchanting city of Melbourne just had to be none other than at our favourite souvlaki shop - Stalactites. Sitting on busy Lonsdale St in the heart of the city, the shop was packed as for lunch on a Sunday. And unfortunately that translated to quite a long wait before our meals came out. Also because the shop was bustling with people, the waitresses were slightly unattentive.

Nonetheless, the food was still quite awesome. We ordered a mixed dip and pita bread ($1.50 each). The mixed dip comprised of tzatziki (yoghurt, garlic and cucumber dip), hommus (chickpea), tarama (caviar and lemon), and melitzanosalata (eggplant and garlic). I think that the tzatziki and hommus was the best. The other two were average.

Mixed Dip

Pita bread - $1.50 each

We also ordered a meat platter for two ($18 x 2). On this plate of meat was ...erm... a bit too much lamb for my liking. But my partner and two of my friends loved every single moment of this lamb infested plate. :P There were marinated lamb skewers, lamb cutlets, lamb giro, homemade Greek rissoles, hot sausages and last but not least, my yummy yummy chicken giro. Mmmm.... I love the chicken. It was so tender and herby-infused. Yum~

Meat platter for two - $18 x 2

Last but not least was our large bowl of chips ($7). Crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Super hot and tongue burning. Awesome!

Large chips - $7

Well, despite the crappy service and the long wait for the food, I know we will be back. (must be the 24 hour yummy chicken factor :P )

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 7.5/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 30/40

177-183 Lonsdale St
VIC 3000
tel: (03) 9663 3316