Monday, September 28, 2009

QQ Pot - Carlingford

A bunch of 20 or so of us were looking for a lunch spot after church. We did settle for Carlingford Village Food Court and were all lining up for the food court chinese takeaway until one of us suggested going to a newly opened "viet" place (and what looked like a super popular takeaway disappeared in a flash!). I think the place is called "QQ Pot"... but... umm...

So what's enticing about this "Viet" (but not actually viet) restaurant? Not really too much. The decor was kind of interesting, with newspaper stuck on as wall paper. The place looked kind of like a cafeteria... However, the waiters (who spoke wierdly accented canto) were friendly and I loved how you get to just tick the meal you wanted (kinda like how you would order dim sims at yum cha in HK).

ticking menu

We ordered thai fish cakes ($8.80) and viet spring rolls ($6.80) for starters. The fish cakes were of the frozen packet variety. Mmm.. very average. The spring rolls were miniature and quite peppery. However, not too appetising... even though I was STARVING (and that's saying something...)

thai fish cakes - $8.80

spring rolls - $6.80

Some of my friends ordered sizzling clay pot rices (all $10-12). There were chicken and chinese sausage clay pots, chicken and chestnut clay pots, pork ' n vege pot... etc etc. The clay pots came out before any of the other dishes... which is kinda wierd (as it normally takes around 20 mins for one of these to be done)... and kind of gives you an indication of how slow it took the food to come out. However, my friends seemed to much appreciate these clay pot rices :)

clay pot rice varieties

Another friend ordered pork chop with fried egg rice. Mmm... I don't really know what to make of this dish. I ordered a malaysian noodle in casserole ($9.80). The picture on the menu looked much better than it actually was. What it essentially was is a small bunch of tiny frozen marinara mix, shrivelled pork pieces, bits and pieces of veges and a fried egg on top. This was... ermm.... essentially tasteless. LOL

pork chop rice

Malay noodle hot pot - $9.80

This was the last dish to come out on our table (some many many many minutes later). It was crispy chicken with tomato rice. According to my friend, the rice was extremely extremely soggy. The chicken seemed alright though.

crispy chicken tomato rice

Overall, the food here was very non-consistent. Other than the clay pot rices, the other dishes were quite plain and ordinary-ness. I think most of us would have preferred to eat outside in the food court. However, the service was quite good. They didn't kick us out even though we were making a huge ruckus :P

Food - 6/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 6/10
Overall - 26.5/40

I.T (??? ... I don't actually remember what this place is called)
Carlingford Village Shopping Center
372 Pennant Hills Rd,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Boon - Darlinghurst


As a professed chocoholic, I could do none other than drag my partner to chocolate shop after chocolate shop (or atleast, to shop for chocolate). This Saturday found us at Boon in Darlinghurst.

Having a good range of pretty handmade chocolates on display, there were many a buyers during the time we were here. Opting more for an immediate chocolate hit, my partner and I sat upstairs and ordered from the small but adequate chocolate menu.

Range of chocolate gifts

We decided on a mocha frappe ($7.50) and a petit fours ($13.50) to share. For the mocha frappe, my partner asked for it to be extra thick - and it extra thick it was. Each sip bought with it a strong dark chocolate coffee hit. Not sweet but sooo addictive. I don't know what it was, but each sip enticed more and more sips.

mocha frappe - $7.50

The petit fours comprised of dark chocolate icecream, a tarte au chocolat noir, and a hazelnut praline with two pieces of strawberries sitting prettily next to it. The dark chocolate icecream has got to be the thickest dark chocolate icecream I have ever eaten. It was sooooo dense and soooo filling and sooooo rich - it was actually a struggle to finish. The tarte au chocolat noir was deliciousness. Chocolate encased inside what tasted like a butterscotchy-caramelly cheesecake base casing. Mmmm... yum! And the hazelnut praline was good too. But nothing over the top special.

Petit Fours - $13.50

The upstairs environment, though small, was cozy and comfy. Ideal for a chill or a catchup with friends (but not too many friends). It also has a boucany area if you so wished to sit outside. The service was friendly, though they mainly left us alone and worked downstairs. Overall, the chocolate experience was very satisfying and though small in portions, left us clutching our stomachs at the richness and denseness of the chocolate involved.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 8.5/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 32.5/40

251 Victoria Street
NSW 2010
tel : (02) 9356 8876

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Digi.Kaf - Glebe


A yummy brunch at Digi.Kaf at Glebe was on the agenda for today. This place is an internet cafe - with a warm sofa-cozy area containing a good range of magazines and newspapers, as well as free internet usage. Greeted by friendly waitstaff and a variety-ful menu, my partner and I had quite some difficulty deciding what we wanted to order.

Coffee-wise, my partner had his usual Capp in a mug, and I, my usual skim mocha. The coffee here was good, but for some reason, Sydney coffee just isn't quite as smooth as Melbourne coffee. Melbournians just seem to have a better coffee culture ish. Nonetheless, the coffee here is better than most other Sydney cafes - it's strong and tasty... yet slightly watery tasting (hence not as smooth as Melb coffees).

Cappaccino - $4.50

mocha - $3.50

Food-wise, my partner's quesadillas ($17.50) with added grilled chorizo ($4) did not disappoint. He happily gobbled the tortillas, which were stuffed with re-fried beans, roasted capsicum and yummy tasty cheese, topped with a spicy tomato jam and sour cream. Under the tortillas sat a little pile of rocket. The eggs also looked light and fluffy... yet my partner was too full by and hence, was unable to polish them off.

quesadillas with chorizo - $17.50 + $4

I got an ($17.50). This was a three-egg HUGE omelette with a choice of three fillings. In mine was smoked salmon, mushrooms and shallots (a good pick, thought I) with tasty cheese. I think I would have preferred my omelette a little slightly less cooked - yet, it was very tasty and yummy and delicious anyway. The huge size of this meant that my toast went virtually untouched. - $17.50

Overall, this cafe had friendly attentive service. The atmosphere was chillaxy and laid back. And, because this cafe is in the Entertainment book (which has buy one main get one free), we left this cafe $30 out of pocket... yet with two free coffees for our next visit (much thanks to the friendly waiter dude).

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 32.5/40

174 St Johns Rd
NSW 2037
tel: (02) 9660 3509

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Counter - Crows Nest

The Counter

I've been raving on about this 'build it yourself' burger joint to my partner for quite some time now and was quite a bit more excited compared to my partner (who had absolutely no expectations of this place). My partner, who believes that just about everything is better in Melbourne than it is in Sydney, did not think being able to construct your own burger was a good idea - afterall, what if all the stuff you put inside taste great separately, yet completely do not complement each other? Good point partner. But I was excited anyway.

When we first got our clipboard of choices, I was excited but admittedly, quite overwhelmed. You had to choose whether you wanted a burger, or a burger in a bowl (ie. burger ingredients in a bowl... so essentially a beef or chicken salad). What type of meat you wanted (beef, chicken, turkey, vego), with number of grams of meat you wanted, the type of cheese, what toppings (up to 4 toppings are included), what type of sauce, what kind of bun... it was very much quite omgness. As my partner and I started filling out the form, an immense pressure fell on us both... it was like taking a test!!! which is the right box to tick?

the counter test

My partner succumbed under the pressure and ripped up his form, opting instead, for the 'counter burger' ($14.50). I perservered... but it was difficult. I mean, did I want mayo or horseradish mayo or peanut sauce or honey mustard or ginger soy glaze or sauce of the month...? and did I want american cheese or cheddar cheese or colby cheese or horseraddish cheddar or imported swiss....??? and so on and so on... you get the point. It was a very intense high pressure situation for someone who just cannot make decisions...

In fact, during the middle of this immensely stressful situation, the waiter came over to get our order on drinks. Having not even a glance at the drinks menu, I was like... err... coke ($4)? Only to be belittled by my partner who opted for a Chocolate malt shake with chocolate brownie pieces and icecream ($7.50), which, according to the waiter, was "an excellent choice, the best on the menu". *sighz* Luckily, as slight consolidation, I did get a HUGE coke with a juicy lemon piece... ahh... lemon coke :) AND, I did steal quite a lot of brownie pieces from my partner's drink. The shake was super sweet and malty and chocolatey. It could be improved if it was indeed a thickshake - and not merely a milkshake. Nonetheless, my partner thoroughly enjoyed his drink (and did, infact, let me slurpily consume it too).

lemon coke - $4

choc malt icecream brownie shake - $7.50

We als ordered a "Fifty-Fifty" ($6.25) - half frieds and half onion strings. This came with a watery herbed mayo (nowhere as good as herbed mayo from Grill'd), and barbeque sauce. I prefer thick cut chips, but these fries were not bad (better than Maccas) and the onion strings reminded me of the onion stacks you can get at Hogs Breath.

the 'fifty-fifty' - $6.25

So, what did I eventually choose in my burger? I went for a 150g beef burger ($13.50) in a hamburger bun with cheddar cheese, grilled pineapple, carrot strings, grilled onions, and mixed baby greens and sauced with horseraddish mayo. Not too adventurous, but I thought that the ingredients would not be too wierded out when eaten together. My partner's Counter Burger ($14.50) was likewise conservative, comprised of beef, provolone, lettuce, tomato, fried onion, sauteed mushies sauced with a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. The burgers were quite huge. They should really do a "how to eat" guide. My partner shoved the top on and ate it as a whole burger (with slight difficulty) whereas I tried to be civilised and ate it with a knife and fork (and failed miserably). In retrospect, hands are the way to go I think.

My built burger - $13.50

Counter Burger - $14.50

I think that overall, burgers from Grill'd trump Counter. Grill'd burgers are much juicier and tastier (must be the herbed mayo). My partner also complained how the beef pattie was thick yet pretty much tasteless. It was angus beef... so maybe it's got less fat to make it healthier and hence, less taste and juices too? I don't know, just a guess. But in all, the service here was friendly. But I'm not sure how sold I am on the test-like format of the 'build your own burger' sheet... a bit too high stress for the weekend. kekeke... :)

Food - 7/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7.5/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 28.5/40

The Counter
118 Willoughby Road
Crows Nest
NSW 2065
tel: (02) 9436 2700

Stra Pocha - Strathfield

Stra Pocha

For a cozy meet-up between just a few friends, Korean at Strathfield was suggested. My friend suggested Stra Pocha, a busy little Korean joint on Everton Rd. To slightly rescue our clothes from reeking of korean barbeque smell, we chose to sit outside in the semi-darkness by the roadside. Good spot for a cozy chatty catchup. Bad bad spot for photos.

As per usual, we got our plentiful side-dishes. Due to my bad dim-light photo taking skills, only a few photos came out unblurry - so they will have to do. We got kimchi and sweetened potatoes and kelp-like salads, and other little salady side dishes. Though there wasn't much on each plate, each side dish was authentically yummy (as far as I could tell).

Side dishes

To prove how authentically Korean the place is, the first waiter we got spoke pretty much NO english. He nodded and smiled and looked sincere. Tried to be helpful. Failed. Went in and got someone else to serve us. His english was no better but nonetheless, we got our orders in.

We opted for a total of three dishes between the four of us. Coming in huge portions, I regretably admit that we failed to finish. Our bbq meat choice was the marinated juicy pork ribs ($38). One of my friends is a fake vegetarian (one who eats meat, but doesn't really normally eat meat). When a huge plate of raw meat was plonked in front of her, her eyes went wild with shock. Not only had she not been to a Korean barbeque place where plates amongst plates of bloody raw meat is the norm, she probably had not seen so much raw meat on a plate in her life~ We saved her and kindly removed the marinated ribs from her sight. Luckily, she did eat this meat when cooked though (I think). The meat was thicker cut than usual. That, coupled with our dying coal pieces meant that it took AGES for the meat to cook. It was well worth the wait though. It was very tasty and mostly tender.

Marinated pork ribs - $38

We also ordered dumplings with veggies cooked in casserole ($40). This was essentially udon and dumplings and veggies in a pot cooked in front of you. I think we must have left the fire on for too long - or we took too long to eat it - and the entire thing went kinda slushi. I happen to like my veges super soft as I believe it soaks in the juices. However, slushi dumplings were a different story. In essence, this dish tasted alright but looked far from appetising.

Dumpling with veges and noodles - $40

Our last selection for the night was the marinated beef with veggies and noodle ($30), again cooked at the table. There was a HUGE chunk of beef and lotza yummy veges, not enough potato noodles and super super sweet sauce! Extremely yummy and extremely (almost overbaringly) sweet!
Marinated beef vege noodle hotpot - $30

Normally, Korean food is full of chilliness. However, since my fake vego friend and I tolerate very little chilliness, our dishes were all non-chilliness. Overall, the food was alright, and the service was friendly though almost uncommunicatable. There was, however, one english-speaking waitress that did end up tending to us. And despite our efforts to sit outside and save our clothes, we went home smelling slightly of Korean bbq. Oh well... sacrifices we make for food :P

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

Stra Pocha
19-21 Everton Rd
NSW, 2135
tel: (02)9534 8117

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Habib's Charcoal Chicken - Bankstown

Habib's Charcoal Chicken

Recently, I have been going visiting a Lebanese Chicken place in Granville once or twice a week. So, I was pleasantly surprised when we decided to head down to Bankstown for Habib's. I've heard a lot about this place. Many of my friends have mentioned how awesomeness the garlic sauce is.

Our chicken is cooking!

Chips with Chicken salt, or should I say heaps of chicken salt with some sprinkles of chips on the side. If you love chicken salt, you would love this place as they provide chicken salt shakers on each table. These french fries style chips is not really my thing, I prefer the thicker cut chips from El Janna .

Chicken Salt with a side of Chips

The main dish! A whole chicken flattened butterfly style and cooked over a real charcoal grill. Cooking over a real charcoal stove really makes it taste much better than the standard BBQ chicken you get elsewhere. This chicken was beautifully cooked, it was not dry and tasted really Charcoaly.

The Charcoal Chicken

The chicken is good, but it's really the condiments that lifts this place above the competition. Garlic sauce is simply divine. I could finish two of these plates of garlic sauce myself. The sauce is very creamy and VERY 'Garlicy'. If you have a date planned for the next 2-3 days, you might want to avoid it. However, this garlic sauce is so nice that its probably worth postponing a date for. The radish and gherkin are quite pickled potent in taste. Its quite overwhelming when eating it by itself. But, with the Lebanese bread, chicken and garlic sauce, it is the perfect addition.

Habib's Famous Garlic Sauce

Assorted Pickles


Lebanese Bread

This is an example of how to eat Habib's Charcoal Chicken.

1. Pull apart the bread
2. Spread garlic sauce on the base of the bread
3. Top with chicken, pickles, and tabouli (fries optional)
4. Roll up and eat

How we eat are Charcoal Chicken

Overall, I was quite impressed from the food. The place is quite big, much bigger than El Jannah and hence would be a nice place for a casual feed for a large group. We came here with about 20 people, the service was good and the staff were friendly. The food is served quite fast and relatively well priced (cheaper than El Jannah).

Compared to El Jannah, this place is actually quite similar. The garlic sauce is probably nicer here, a little bit more creamy and more garlic taste (but very similar) and its cheaper than El Jannah. However, the chicken at El Jannah suits my tastes more because its more crispy on the outside and generally tastes fresher and more grilled.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for Money - 7/10
Overall - 29.5/40

Habib's Charcoal Chicken
24 Restwell Street
NSW 2200
tel: (02) 9708 2219