Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Campbell Restaurant - Haymarket

Campbell Restaurant

I don't know why but after an hour of bike riding, all I could think about was coffee - strong yummy coffe of either the Gloria Jean's Voltage type or asian ice-coffee type. Since we'd also not had lunch yet, we opted for a honky style cafe in the city.

The first thing I ordered was my iced coffee-tea mix. It was deliciousness. I love also how they separated my sugar syrup so it wasn't too sweet and wasn't too bland. My partner chose the red bean grass jelly ice-cream float. He loved it (and so did I). There was ample grass jelly, a good portion of red bean, yummy coconut milk and awesome awesome icecream (the icey type that I, but possibly not others, love). He loved it so much that he ordered another one of these (and subsequently felt sick from the milky sugary overload).

iced coffee-tea mix
red bean grass jelly icecream float

In terms of food, I opted for an afternoon tea special. These were french toast bites. Lovely golden deep fried cubes of super soft fluffy bread. It tasted almost like fairy-bread from Japan on the inside. Sooooo soft. The bad thing about it is that I like my french toast with peanut butter. But this was not an option here. I could only either have chocolate or strawberry topping with it >.<
French toast bites

My partner chose the cheesy seafood baked rice. This was very yummy. A good variety of seafood on a semi-fried rice base. Topped with creamy sauce and lightly-browned cheese. It was tasty, filling but not overbearing. Mmm...

Baked seafood rice

Overall, the food here was pretty good. The service was also not bad. A few waiters eyed us as we pulled out and played Monopoly Deal, but none stepped in to stop us which is good. The restaurant is also clean, bright and comfy. Not a bad place to dine.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 31.5/40

Campbell Restaurant
1st Floor, 102 Hay Street
NSW 2000
tel: (02) 9281 0743

Monday, April 26, 2010

Genki Ramen - Artarmon

Genki Ramen

Following from the previous post, my partner and I were stuck in Chatswood without a movie to watch. But we really did want to watch it! So what could we do to kill time?

We walked around, browsed, and decided to buy a card game we were introduced to earlier in the week - Monopoly Deal. We bought it from Toys-r-Us for $9.99, only to find it for $2 cheaper at Myer 5 minutes later (so buy it from Myer!!!). We drove out of the carpark (as we're too cheap to pay for parking) and parked on the street. In the car, we played Monopoly Deal for hours! Like seriously - it was sooooo fun! We played until the sun went down and we couldn't tell the colours of the property properly.

When it was fully dark, we decided that we needed to play somewhere other than the car. I had even considered just dining at Maccas (a place I'm trying to boycott for my health's sake) but my partner suggested for us to try and see if Genki Ramen was open (since we were so close).
And it was! (And I bought my cards in with us!)

My partner ordered the Takana fried rice ($11) and I ordered the Tonkatsu Ramen ($11).

Because the fried rice had this chilli vegetable stuff mixed, my partner said that it made the rice a bit soggier than what he likes. The rice was mildly spicy, kind of like really mild kimchi-ish rice. It wasn't overly interesting though. It came with a miso soup which was also pretty ordinary.

Takana Fried Rice with miso soup - $11

My ramen was less thick and less potent compared to Ryo's or Gumshara. It was a lot lighter on the stomach. It wasn't too salty or too flavoursome and possibly lacked a little bit of taste - but it definately wasn't bad. The ramen was a bit soggier than I had expected (or maybe it was because I took too long to eat it) and I would have liked maybe an egg or two :P

Tonkatsu Ramen - $11

And to the possible surprise of waiters and patrons around us, my partner and I continued to play throughout our meal - having fun and being loud and slightly ever so stressed when we're being deal broken :)

Monopoly Deal

Food - 7.5/10

Service - 7/10

Ambiance - 7/10

Value for money - 7.5/10

Overall - 29/40

Genki Ramen
Wilkes Ave

NSW 2064

(02) 9410 3777

New Shanghai Chinese Restaurant - Chatswood

How did we end up at New Shanghai in Chatswood?

Well, the thing is, I had initially wanted ramen at Ryo's (in Crowsnest). But knowing Ryo's, it would probably have been closed. The next best thing is probably Gumshara (in Dixon foodcourt). We were on the way there but we saw flashing signs that there would be delays in the city due to road closures for Anzac day. These signs, along with my sudden realisation that I was wearing an Italia jacket (an anti-anzac jacket) and probably didn't want to be seen by any loyal Anzacians, turned us off going to the city. Instead, we detoured and ended up at Chatswood.

New Shanghai Chatswood

We had wanted to watch a movie at Hoyts, but the movie we wanted to catch was not showing until 9pm (a whole 7 hours later). Thus, food was the next best thing.

I was a bit shocked to see such a huge dining area and so many diners at this place. As per usual, my partner wanted to order pretty much EVERYTHING. After much convincing, this was our final food choice.

We ordered shredded kelp mixed with vinegar and spice dressing ($3.80). This was pretty yum. A bit more vinegary compared to usual, but was flavoursome and appetising all the same.

shredded kelp - $3.80

Another small dish we ordered was the sweet and sour pork rib ($4.80). There were many pieces of pork rib. Each piece had much of that "soft" bone in it so we could choose between chomping through and swallowing the bone, or to meticulously working around the bone to get the meat. This was a huge flavour-hit. The sauce was pretty thick. It was nicely sweet and not overpoweringly vinegarily sour. The meat was also nice and tender. Not bad at all.

Sweet and sour pork rib - $4.80

The last of our small dish selection was the braised dry bean curd with black mushroom and fungus ($4.80). My auntie in HK used to make me this. The taste of this was similar to that of my aunties, but it was much much much more oily and the texture was not as good. However, it was enough to satisfy my reminiscent craving for this vegetarian dish.

Braised dry bean curd with black mushroom - $4.80

We also ordered a sweet corn soup with crab ($6.80). We had expected chicken corn soup with seafood extenders but instead, we got little bits and pieces of real crab (or atleast the crab they put their steamed little crab and pork buns). The soup was smooth, thick but not too thick, and sweet and tasty. Mmm...

Sweet corn soup with crab - $6.80

Last but not least, we had to get the Xiao Long Bao (steamed mini pork buns) ($6.80). I was very quite pleased with these. The dumpling wrap was thin but not easily breakable. The pork inside was tasty and there was much soup inside. The flavour just exploded in our mouths. It was a very good balance between the thin dumpling wrap, soup and meat. Very good value for the quality of the buns and price we had to pay.

Xiao Long Bao - $6.80

Food-wise, I was quite amazed by this place. Service was a bit lacking and ambiance? Well - just like any busy, slightly loud Chinese restaurant. I wouldn't mind coming back though. All up was only $26 for this much food with no surcharge on Anzac Day. Pretty awesome! :P

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 9/10
Overall - 30.5/40

New Shanghai
427-441 Victoria Ave
NSW 2067
Tel: (02) 9415 3536

Sunday, April 25, 2010

La Parrillada - Leichhardt

My friends had initially wanted to try Brazillian barbeque in Leichhardt but unfortunately, it was booked out on this (and probably every) Saturday night. So, as our goal was barbequed charcoaled meat and lots and lots of meat, we opted to try out La Parrillada, a Peruvian grill restaurant nearby. This place offered over 3kgs of meat for 4 people ($110) and for four hungry carnivours such as ourselves, it sounded pretty good :)

La Parrillada

In terms of drinks, my company wanted to try the purple corn juice. Unfortunately, this was sold out. Instead, I tried their Peruvian soda, the Inca Kola ($3.50). This looked and tasted like asian Schweppes creaming soda, just as sweet but with slightly more fizz.

Inca Kola - $3.50

As part of our meal, we started with bread rolls and chargrilled frankfurts. The bread rolls were slightly warm but was a little tough and chewy. The frankfurts were really hot and very tasty. Chargrilly, meaty, with little chunks of fat visible. Oh well - we were about to embark on over 3kgs of meat so what was a bit more fat?

bread roll

Chargrilled Frankfurts

To accompany and complement the meat, we got a variety of sauces. There was tomato sauce (the red one), mayo (white), mild homemade chilli sauce (green), and hot spicy chilli sauce (orange). I loved the mayo and the green chilli. It was mild yet tasty. The orange one was definately too hot for me, but my partner finished platefuls of it.

La Parrillada sauces

We also got a bowl of chips and salad with our deal. The chips were slightly too oily. The colour was also a bit off-golden brown. It seemed to have been deep-fried in old oil. It was still crispy though and we did manage to polish off the whole bowl. The salad was a bit plain. Just lettuce, cucumber, tomato and bits of red capsicum. I used the lettuce to wrap around my meat to make me feel a bit better about the whole deal.

hot chips


Now onto the pile of meat. The waitress asked us how we wanted our meat - we chose medium and it got slightly more cooked as it stayed on the grill longer and longer. This huge pile of meat had stuff like sirloin, T-bone, and New York beef cuts, pork loin chops, pork spare ribs, lamb cutlet, chorizo, and beef and pork ribs. Yes - it was every vegetarian's nightmare. I also, was in a bit of shock to see such a huge pile of meat. Nonetheless my dinner company was overjoyed at the chargrill flavoured meat and we dug into it straight away.

Pile of meat - over 3kg

I had doubts about our ability to eat all this meat but amazingly we managed to gobble it all up after a good couple of hours. We were all thoroughly stuffed and left feeling satisfied.

Food - 8/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 29.5/40

La Parrillada
470 Parramatta Rd
NSW 2040
tel: (02) 9560 0943

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kansai - Sydney

I've wanted to try the Japanese buffet at Kansai for a while. After training one day, my partner and I got the chance. As it was a random dining experience, my phone camera had to photograph our meal.

At Kansai, the all you can eat buffet is $38 (adult) for a big range of small eats, sushi, sashimi boat and hot pot, and $28 (adult) for everything but the sashimi and hot pot. Being a fan of sashimi, we opted for the $38 one.

At Kansai, you get unlimited orders as long as you don't waste the food.

The gyoza was pretty good. Nice and crisp on the outside, and yummy vermicelli meat mix on the inside. Tasty, but not overly tasty. But yummy all the same.


We had two rounds of the sashimi salad. There was cabbage, avocado, a mix of tuna, salmon and king fish cubes, a stick of cucumber and carrot, and a dab of flying fish roe on top. Wasn't bad. Like it wasn't the best sashimi salad I've had, but it wasn't bad. There was really quite a huge pile of sashimi cubes and when mixed with the fresh cabbage, salad dressing and mushy avocado, it was pretty good.

sashimi salad

We also ordered half a portion of rainbow roll. There was soooo much salmon inside this roll compared to normal rainbow rolls. It was slightly wierd how the sashimi bits on top was so thin in comparison. I actually really enjoyed this sushi. The generous proportions of salmon and the mayo inside provided for an appetising dish.

1/2 portion of rainbow roll

By now, you can probably tell that presentation was not the forte of this place. Instead, food quantity and economicalness probably is. The sashimi boat came loaded with piles and piles of salmon, tuna and king fish. All the sashimi bits were fresh and tasty. Not bad at all considering we could have ordered unlimited numbers of these sashimi boats.

sashimi boat

The last thing we could fit in our stomachs was the hot pot. We chose the miso seafood hotpot. This comprised of mussels, tofu, prawns, octopus, fish head, udon, veges and soft shell crab - yes, you read it, soft shell crab! This must have been the first time I've had soft shell crab which was not deep fried in batter. After a while, the broth of this hotpot became really creamy and delicious. The sweetness of the seafood (although initiall frozen) seeped through the broth, making everything super tasty. The soft shell crab was definately interesting. It was still sweet and tasty but texture wise, it was weird. But I guess the benefits of the soft shell crab was that us, lazy people, could chomp the whole thing and not spend hours on end picking out the meat from a small crab.

miso seafood hotpot

All up, the food at Kansai is decent. It's most definately worth it for the price. You get unlimited orders and the portions are decently large. Service is not the most attentive, but it got us through the night. Will probably come back the next time I want a Jap feast - when I overcome my current sashimi overkill :P

Food - 8/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 9/10
Overall - 30.5/40

Kansai Japanese Restaurant
B1/7-13 Hunter St
NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9231 5544

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hi Thai - Blacktown

I met up with a friend after work one day, and we decided to eat at Hi Thai, a recently opened Thai restaurant in Blacktown.

I was sooooo close to ordering my usual Pad Thai. To break tradition, I opted for the chicken Peanut Noodle instead ($13.90). This was chicken pieces with super thick rice noodles, topped with a HUGE heap of super rich, super tasty, super oily, super unhealthy, yet super yum peanut sauce, mixed vegetables and egg. This was extremely extremely yummy. But with every bite, I could tell the I was eating something that was doing my body harm. I felt as guilty as I would have been, eating peanut butter out of a jar - which I guess was pretty much what I was doing - eating peanut butter mixed with oil! *sighz* Never mind - a treat after a hard days work.

Chicken Peanut Noodle - $13.90

My friend opted for a heathier option. He chose the Tasty Pumpkin with beef ($13.90). This was thin pumpkin pieces with beef, egg, veges and mixed with oyster sauce. As it doesn't come with noodles, hence he had to order rice with it. His dish was much much healthier tasting and looking compared to mine. Unfortunately, it was less yummy than mine.

Tasty Pumpkin with beef - $13.90

Overall, this was an average Thai place. Not bad, not excellent - but Thai is good any day.

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

Hi Thai
On Four, Westpoint Shopping Centre
NSW 2148
tel: (02) 9831 2415

Cafe Sydney - Circular Quay

To celebrate our 8 year anniversary, my partner and I decided to dine at Cafe Sydney - a restaurant we've been attempting to try for over 5 years now. Why? Boils down to our laziness to book and the impossibilitiness of dining at this place without a book. So yes - after the much anticipated wait, our expectations of this restaurant was probably quite high. But on our way to the restaurant, both my partner and I had decided to talk it down - if it's better than Bilson's, it's probably OK.

So we arrived for our 8.30pm booking (after a super hectic day at work for both of us). We were tired, we were hungry - we just wanted to eat eat eat! Unfortunately, our table was not ready yet. As such, we were escorted to the bar area where we had our own sofa space. We ordered a couple of drinks as we proceded to wind down. My partner got a beer, I ordered the Guava Polava ($11). This was a refreshingly sweet and fruity mocktail of guava nectar and mango puree. It was actually really yummy. Very mangoey and icey - just the way I like it!

Guava Polava - $11

When we finally got seated at our table (at 9pm), we were met with a a friendly bubbly waiter, a fantastic view of the harbour bridge and delicious aromas stemming from food from tables around us.

Choices of entrees and mains abounded, making our decision-making process quite tough. But we plowed through and persevered.

We ordered a garlic naan ($2.50) as opposed to traditional bread rolls. The garlic naan came our fresh and warm. Smelt fantastically aromatic and was light, very slightly oily, and subtly garlicy. It was quite appetising indeed.

garlic naan - $2.50

We also decided on an entree to share. We chose the grilled scallops ($27). Three big ish plump scallops came topped with rolled white anchovy. Accompanying it was shaved fennel, cabbage and 2 ruby grapefruit pieces. There was also small clumps of pine nuts and a smooth creamy pile of white sauce. Fortunately, the scallops were nicely grilled and not over cooked. The shaved fennel and cabbage salad was fresh, but the grapefruit pieces were slightly too juicy to be complimentary. The pinenut clumps were absolutely gorgeous. However, the same could not be said about the white anchovy. The anchovy was super strong and super salty and super overpowering. Eating the anchovy with the scallop meant that you absolutely cannot taste the scallop - anchovy only. It's amazing how such a small clump of fish can be so dense and strong.

Scallops - $27

In terms of mains, my partner opted for the pork belly ($38) under the strong recommendation by the waiter. The pork belly was twice cooked, with a nice rod of pork crackling, and accompanied with caramelised pear, speck, pistacio and jus. The waiter described the meat as "melt in your mouth" goodness - and melt-in-your-mouth goodness was how this meat was. It was very flavoursome, sooooo tender, and a good mix of meat and fat. The crunchiness of pork crackling was demonstrated by the huge cutting and crunching noises made by my partner. According to him, this dish was good - but not awesomely WOW.

Pork Belly - $38

I opted for a 'food addition' special of the night. The john dory ($42) came with black-coloured squid and prawn ravioli and small cubes of zucchini and chorizo. The john dory fillet was nice and tender. The skin was unfortunately not crisp and overall, the fish was slightly too salty. The ravioli pasta shell was a bit too thick and chewy - slightly too little squid and prawn mix for the thick pasta shell - the proportion was not quite right. In terms of the zucchini and chorizo cubes, they were pretty average. No complaints. The bisque sauce it came with was also OK.

John Dory - $42

In terms of sides, we ordered the mashed potato ($8) and the rocket and parmesan salad ($8.50). The mashed potato was very average. Not creamy enough and not fluffy enough - slightly too dense. Tasted also slightly like my packet deb mash (which I actually love). It just wasn't as awesome as mash ought to be at restaurants. The rocket and parmesan salad, on the other hand, was really pretty good. The rocket was fresh. There was a good amount of balsamic vinegar, and the parmesan cheese was pretty greatly complementary to the rocket.

mashed potato - $8

rocket and parmesan salad - $8.50

After all this food, my partner and I were both stuffed. We eyed the dessert menu and eyed the time and decided against getting dessert. Not that it wouldn't have been good- but nothing popped out as awesome 'eat me now!' dessert.

Overall, the food was not bad. The ambiance was absolutely wonderful, dim-litted, romantic and with a fantastic view. The service here wasn't the most attentive, but he was definately cheerful and friendly enough. I believe we had a good time and a decent meal to celebrate our 8 years of being together :)

Food - 7.5/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 9.5/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 33/40

Cafe Sydney
Customs House 5th Floor
31 Alfred Street
Circular Quay
NSW 2000
tel: (02) 9251 8683

Monday, April 19, 2010

Medusa Greek Taverna - Sydney

On a long-overdue catch up with high school friends, we dined at Medusa in the City. I had my reservations about eating here because 1. it's in the city and I work super far away from the city and 2. it's greek food (and I've once been told by my Greek friend to never dine at a Greek restaurant as I don't eat lamb, feta, eggplant, pumpkin, sweet potato etc etc - ie. I don't eat any of the staple Greek ingredients).

Anyway - here I was. I was ready for anything.

Being a group of 9, we ordered the set menu ($50 each). We got 2 Mezze plates to share. The Mezze plate comprised of tarama and tzatziki dip, grilled halloumi cheese, dolmades, country-style sausages, olives, and a plate ful of pita breads. We were instructed by the waiter to attack the halloumi first - before it gets cold. Of a firm and chewy texture, it was mild yet tasty. The taramosalata is an authentic fish roe dip -pinkish in colour and really quite tasty and yummy. It wasn't too strong and it wasn't bland. The Tzatziki (which is yoghurt, cucumber and garlic) was likewise quite palatable.

Mezze plate

To be completely honest, I was not brave or game enough to consume the dolmades. Dolmades are the vine leafy green things with rice and minted yoghurt inside. As my partner described it as "it's alright" - and he actually likes Greek - I thought it was a bit too much of a risk seeing that I don't think I like vine leafs or rice or yoghurt. The country style spicy sausages were also untasted by me... partly because I was a bit hesitant about what type of meat it may be made of and partly because by the time I wanted to get to it, it was all gone :P The last part of the dish - the olives, were virtually untouched by the whole table. Not because they were bad olives. But mostly because we were all not huge fans of olives.

Mezze plate

We were also served with a greek salad. There were tomatos, cucumber, spanish onions, capsicum, and olives, sprinkled with oregano and topped with a block of feta. Drenched in olive oil, it didn't have too much taste. But I like cucumber - and it was fresh.

Greek Salad

There was also an entree of prawns bathing in thick tomato broth, baked and topped with crumbed feta to share. This was actually OK. The tomatoey stuff was very very rich and thick. The feta wasn't overpowering. However, the prawns were a little mushy-ish. Maybe a bit overcooked? or it could just be because it was soaking and baking and bathing in the tomato too long?


Bread accompanying the prawns

In terms of mains, we had a choice between 5 dishes - 2 lamb dishes, 1 vegetarian dish, 1 eggplant thing, and one chicken thing. Interesting enough, there was an ingredient in each of these dishes that I do not eat. Hence, I picked the least threatening ingredients.

My Kotopoulo Tis Santorinis was a spinach, goats cheese and roast pepper stuffed chicken smothered with Santorini wine sauce. I'm not a fan of goats cheese and was able to squish all the filling out without it infusing into my chicken too much. I think that the cheese and the mushy roast pepper was a bit... um... overpowering. But I think that's how the Greeks like it? Nevertheless, the chicken itself was pretty tasty. The wine sauce was smooth and creamy. And there was yummy mash potato underneath it (which I could eat after I filtered out all the huge cubes of sweet potatoes which were luckily not mushed).

Kotopoulo Tis Santorinis

My partner opted for the Arni Souvlaki which was lamb skewers with tzatziki, herbed chips and spicy salad. He said that it was alright... but not excellent. He prefered the souvlaki from Stalactites (in Melbourne) and as the souvlaki here couldn't beat that of the famous 24 hour fast food joint - well... yeh. Anyway, lamb aside, the herbed chippies were really quite awesome~! :)

Arni Souvlaki

Another main that was ordered on the table was the Mousaka (as well as the vegetarian version - Mousaka Me Lahanika). The Mousaka is potato layered with eggplant and topped with eggplant and smothered in beef mince and bechamel sauce then baked like a lasagna. I had originally wanted to order this - but I asked the waiter if it would be possible to take out the eggplant and the answer was No! Even IF the eggplant was taken out, the eggplant flavour will still be infused throughout. So when it came out, I was super relieved I did not order this. So super eggplanted.


The last main of 5 was the Medusa's Arni Sto Fourno which was a whole slow baked lamb with roasted lemon potatoes and vegetables. It looked decent and no complaints originated from my friend. So I can only assume that the meal was fine.

Medusa's Arni Sto Fourno

For dessert, we each got a Galactobouriko and a Baclava. Both desserts were sitting ontop of a pool of syrup. The Galactobouriko was nice and warm. The puff pastry was crisp and completely gorgeous - the custard on the inside was something I didn't adore though. Hence, I simply just ate the warm outer crust :) The Baclava was super super sweet. A bit too sweet. Most of us could not stomach this.


In addition to all this, a few of us also ordered the Greek coffee. This came in a small cup. Strong and slightly too sweet. Near the bottom was residue. As it was so sweet I thought that the bottom residue stuff may have been of the chocolate variety. Boy was I wrong. Warning - DO NOT TOUCH the muddy murky brown stuff at the bottom of the cup. It tastes like sand and mud. And it definately ought not be eaten/drunk. The waiter definately should have warned us about it earlier!

Greek coffee + mud residue

All up - this dining experience was better than I expected. BUT - it wasn't overly awesome either. If you wish to dine here, remember to book in advance - apparantly it's always booked out!

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

Medusa Greek Taverna
2 Market Street
NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9267 0799