Thursday, June 30, 2011

La Disfida - Haberfield

Super awesome piping hot wood fired pizzas on a cold winters day?

I'm all for it!

La Disfida is a cozy little Italian pizza joint in Haberfield, didn't allow us to make reservations so hence, we got there at 6pm to guarantee ourselves a seat. A good selection of entree, pizza menu and blackboard selection, we had a hard time trying to refrain from ordering everything on the menu.

After a long deliberation, we decided on 3 entree dishes: the calamari e zucchini fritti ($17), deep fried polenta with a blue cheese dipping sauce (from specials menu), and the porcini fettuccine (also from specials menu).

The zucchini and calamari came out in decent proportion. Smelt amazing! Tasted good too (until it cooled down) but I found the batter a little too floury and not crunchy enough. But that's probably what they were aiming for. Good thing was, it didn't feel too oily :)

lamari e zucchini fritti - $17

I'm not a polenta fan, but my friends were - and they absolutely loved this dish. Deep fried perfectly cut rectangular prisms of golden brownly crumbed soft mushy polenta in a hecticly strong and flavoursome blue cheese mixture. If I were a polenta and blue cheese fan, I can imagine that this would be perfect - but sadly, I'm not.

deep fried polenta with blue cheese
The creamy fettucini with porcini mushrooms and rocket, however, was absolutely perfectly up my alley. It came out smelling delicious - getting all those stomach acids going - then lived up to its promise by providing al dente pasta with aromatic porcini and tasty rocket leaves. YUM. If I wasn't dining with friends, I would have absolutely hogged this dish and claimed it as mine.

Porcini fettuccine

So this restaurant is famous for it's wood-fired pizzas. They have a huge brick wood-fired pizza oven on the bottom level and hard working pizza makers spinning dough, topping the dough and ovening the round disk of goodness. We ordered 2 pizzas - the quattro stagione ($22), and the barletta ($22).

The quattro stagione (or, 'four seasons), was a thin crispy chewy tomato pizza base topped with artichokes, olives, ham and mushrooms. The mozarella was a little bit scarce and the pieces were cut a little be large anf uneveny, but it was definately very very tasty. My favourite bit of the pie was probably the artichokes which were soft and juicy and deliciousness~

quattro stagione - $22

The barletta was again, a tomato-based thinly crusted pizza, this time, topped with prosciutto crudo and basil, pepper to taste and olive oil drizzled over. Again, I would have preferred a little more mozerella, but it was very yummy anyway.

Barletta - $22

After those epic savoury dishes, we were all up for a sweet change. I ordered the tiramisu ($10). This was really light, richly coffee-flavoured, with a uber awesomely dusted chocolate coating. Seemed authentically italian to me! (but what would I know?)

tiramisu - $10

My friends ordered from the desserts special menu ($11 each). There was a cannoli with ricotta stuffing and a sticky date nutty biscuit thing. They seemed to think that this was alright. The cannoli was very crispy and the ricotta was really creamy but I'm not a fan of sticky date fig thing.

dessert special - $11

pannacotta - $11

The other dessert was a pannacotta. Very smooth, silky looking wobbling thing that my friends seemed to enjoy muchly.

All up, the food here was pretty awesome. Service is good and friendly enough, although at times, they speak a little too quickly. Ambiance is cozy and chillaxy - just the way you'd want it for a catch up with friends.

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

La Disfida
109 Ramsay Rd
La Disfida
NSW, 2045
Tel: (02) 9798 9299

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jean Georges - New York City

2 course lunch meal at one of the best 3 michelin star places in NYC for just $32 per person? Why not?

During our honeymoon on our non-budget, I was researching all the good restaurants and cafes to check out in NYC. I came across Jean Georges which had really good reviews from heaps and heaps of blogs and seemed like AMAZING value! And hence - we just had to try it.

Located opposite Central Park and in the Trump, it felt like a really chillaxy type restaurant. There were two sections in the restaurant, one appeared more casual, and the other, slightly more dressed up. As I had mentioned in the reservation that we were on our honeymoon, we were quickly and effortlessly escorted to the more formal side of things the moment we got there.

Complimentary bread - a choice of a few, but the ciabatta was the winner for me. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside - perfectly accompanied by creamy room temperature butter :)

complementary bread

The amuse bouche came out not long after we were seated. I have to say, my memory slightly escapes me. As much as I recall, the orange liquid was a chilled carrot soup with some fancy vegetable salt encrusted on the rims of the small glass. The carrot juice was really really sweet but then because your lips and tongue are touching the salt, there's the element of that melting and melding in with the sweet carrot liquid. It was slightly wierd - something that you don't really like at first, but then the taste grows on you and before you know it, you've downed the whole thing. I think the others were a crunchy raddish bit on buttered wholemeal bread and a ricotta pasta thing? I have to say - I don't remember anything about them ... which probably means that they weren't bad nor outstandingly good.

amuse bouche

As the first course, my hubby chose the foie gras brulee. This was a really well oiled, perfectly browned, really rich and smooth foie gras cylinda accompanied with a blob of pineapple-meyer lemon jam, just to balance out the richness of the foie gras. It smelt amazing. And I think it tasted quite delicious as well.

foie gras brulee

Mine was a little bowl of sea trout sashimi, which is hidden below a lemon, dill and horseradish dressing (which was nice and thick) with a heapful of trout eggs and crispy tiny bits of deep fried trout skin on top. It was asthetically pleasing and a whirlpool of flavours. It was sour (due o the lemon), rich, smooth yet subtley fresh and sweet (due to the trout) then you get the saltiness from the trout eggs and the crispiness of the bits of skin. It was altogether a bit confusing... but in a good way. Odd yet beautifully so.

Sea trout sashimi

As for the main, my hubby and I both opted for fish. I ordered a salmon and him a snapper. My salmon was slow baked to perfection. A warm potato salad with liquified horseradish sauce and sugar snap peas accommpanied the fish which made it uber palatable. Really well cooked fish!

slow baked salmon, warm potato salad, sugar snap peas and horseradish

My hubby's red snapper was encrusted with nuts and seeds and was swimming in a sweet and sour jus. I believe that his fish was cooked to perfection too! (though I thought mine was better)

red snapper crusted with nuts and seeds, sweet and sour jus

After all this (for lunch)... we were both stuffed. However, I still kind of wanted something sweet and the dessert menu was so enticing! Luckily, we decided against it because we were soon met with a massively tempting array of petit fours.

A variety of chocolates were presented - the best is probably the caramel one - with lavendar macaroons. Wow! To top it all off, we got super fresh fluffy marshmellows...So fresh that they cut it at your table! Hecticness!

petit fours- macaroons, assorted chocolates, fresh marsh mellows cut at your table

Service here is impeccable. The value speaks for itself. Everything was just as it was meant to be (apart from the epicness of the tips you're meant to give in US restaurants). Definitely would recommend it, and for the value, definitely worth a return visit.

Food - 9/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 8.5/10
Value for money - 9/10
Overall - 34.5/40

Jean Georges
1 Central Park West
New York 10023
Tel: (212) 2993900

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cheesecake Factory - San Francisco

The Cheesecake Factory.
I have to say, the name of the restaurant was very enticing.

The first thing I noticed about this place was that it was absolutely PACKED! Located on top of Macy's at Union Square, there were people waiting everywhere for a seat. The next thing that caught my eye was a huge cabinet of cheesecakes. There were so many on offer (and I think there was even more than that which met the eye).

Cheesecake Factory

We ended up eating... later. I decided I didn't want to wait. Hence, we went walking, shopping, then came back close to 11.30pm only for find that we still needed to wait to be seated. Hectic!

My hubby ordered a steak. And since I felt like mac and cheese, we ordered that as his side. Because it felt weird for us to just order 1 main and 1 side dish after waiting so long to eat here, I decided that I wanted a soup of the day too.

We were greeted by 2 warm fresh bread rolls - white and chocolatey wholemeal. The bread was quite nice and soft... so good infact that the table next to us had 3 lots of these bread roll baskets (between the 2 of them)... hectic.

yes... there are two bread rolls in here

The mac and cheese was absolutely heavenly. Smelt amazing. Came out lightly charred on top and super super super cheesiness. It was soooooooooooooo good! But because it was essentially carbs and fat, it was really really filling. I got through less than half of this, and I was pretty much done.

baked mac and cheese

Whilst the side was amazing, the main was very much not so. My partner's steak was tough and tasteless. The onion rings were HUGEness but so stupidly floured and again, tasteless. The chips were pretty good though :)

rump and chips

My soup of the day was a cream of chicken and mushroom soup. When the waiter asked me if I wanted a cup or a bowl... I was stupidly thinking normal cup and bowl sizes. What came to my table was epic! A diameter of 35-40ish cm bowl dish came out filled with soup. ZOMG. It was really really creamy and really really rich. I could feel my arteries clogging up. So not the "healthy" option I thought I was up for.

cream of chicken and mushroom soup

I couldn't fit in dessert. Dinner was too epic. But being at the Cheesecake factory and not eating a cheesecake felt wrong... and hence, we got it takeaway. I got a chocolate cookie dough cheese cake. With a chocolate brownie base, it was really rich, really sweet but really kind of yum. Not bad at all.

chocolate cookie dough cheesecake

In America, we get charged a 15% tax to everything. On top of the 15% tax, there's another 15-20% tip. And for the first and luckily, the only time we were in America, we got charged a "healthy eating tax" - a fat tax~!!! ZOMG.

Food - 6.5/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 6.5/10
Overall - 26.5/40

Cheesecake Factory (San Francisco)
251 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Tel: (415) 391-4444

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lori's Diner - San Francisco

As part of the American experience, my partner really wanted to eat at a diner. We chose one of the many many Lori's diner which lined San Fran streets.

There were duke boxes and vintage cars and other random stuff scattered throughout the diner. Pretty interesting - kind of like hogs breath but slightly classierish and less cluttered. Foodwise, we decided on a main each and a loaded potato skins to share.

The potato skins were thick. Slightly crisp on the outside and loaded with bacon and cheese. These were tasty but somehow, maybe could have been better ish.

loaded potato skins

I opted for an Edsel Burger. This was a super nice and juicy patty smothered with sauteed mushrooms and melted jack cheese on top with lettuce, tomato and onion in between 2 soft potato buns. I went for coleslaw as a side as requested by my hubby.

Edsel Burger

My hubby went for something different - the meatloaf. This was interesting. I think I'm a bit asian, but I've never had this type of ground meat combination. Not 100% sure what meats in here but I guess it was okay. I liked the mash - it was super creaminess.


Eating at diners is pretty good. I wouldn't mind having some diners here in Sydney. I did forget to tip them but... as they gave me the change in my hand and they didn't have a tip jar available... and since not tipping is a super nono in America - we ran for it!

Food - 6.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7.5/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 28/40

Lori's Diner (Sutter location)
500 Sutter St,
San Francisco, CA 94102
Tel: (415) 981-1950

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ginger and Shallots - Eastwood

I was dying for congee one day and hence, to satisfy my cravings, we decided to go to Eastwood to hunt for some.

Stepping into 'Ginger and Shallots', it was pretty populated with the lunchtime crowd. I noticed that everyone else got "lunch specials" but unfortunately we were just dealt with the normal menus. Nonetheless, the thing I was looking for was there - lean pork and preserved egg congee in hot pot ($9.80). It was definitely a lot more expensive compared to normal congees... must be because it's served in a hot pot rather than the normal pot. The congee was tasty and smooth and really hot and boiling. There's a decent amount of preserved egg and meat in it. All up, it was like the normal congee but possibly kept warmer for longer. Is that worth the price premium?

lean pork and preserved egg congee in hot pot - $9.80

My hubby opted for beef brisket with rice in hot pot ($10.80). It was completely loaded with beef brisket. The rice was also cooked decently well. There was hardly any veges in this - which suited my hubby just fine. Not bad at all.

beef brisket with rice in hot pot - $10.80

Service and ambiance isn't hot flash - it's just an asian place. The food is also decent. A bit pricey for congee but the other options are reasonably priced. If you're an asian show fanatic, there's TVB playing on large screens throughout the place.

Food - 7.5/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 6.5/10
Overall - 26/40

Ginger & Shallots
Shop 25, 1 Lakeside Road
NSW 2122
Tel: (02) 9874 8066

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Luce - San Francisco

We were staying at the Intercontinental on Howard Street in San Fran and in our hotel was the 1 Michelin Star Restaurant - Luce. Capitalising on the opportunity to dine here, we opted for a hearty breakfast. Whilst not too many people were in the restaurant at the time we were here, the atmosphere was almost nice and quiet - almost - because the waiters were relatively rowdy and were mucking around the whole time we were there.

Scanning through the menu, it was a pretty tough choice but ultimately, my hubby chose the Niman Ranch short rib hash. The pork short rib came with 2 superly well cooked organic poached egg in a hearty stew with root vegetable cubes and weiser farm fingerling potatoes. It was really tasty - the meat was fall-off-your-fork tenderness, the root veges were a good mix of mushiness and crunchiness, and the egg was perfect runniness.

Niman Ranch short rib hash

I couldn't resist but to order my usual - eggs benedict. Lightly toasted muffins topped with a generous stack of smoked salmon, spinach and yet another duo of perfectly cooked poached eggs. Light and creamy hollandaise sat in a little pot on the side and a generous portion of cucumber and fennel salad with farm fingerling potatoes complemented the dish. Really really delicious. Yet, it gave off a fresh, clean taste - not oily or dense or anything like that at all!

smoked salmon benedict

The food and the decor in this place is a must. Crazily deliciousness - I could have breakfast here like every morning!

Food - 9.5/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 31/40

888 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94103, United States
Tel: (415) 616-6566

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fisherman's Wharf - San Francisco

"Tourist trap", "a place you'd go but you'd regret going afterwards". These were the phrases that had been drilled into my from my endless trolling on the net for things to do in San Fran, hence, when I got there, my expectations were low.

However... what were these people talking about?!?!? Sure, sights-wise, it's slightly non-trilling, but food-wise... YUM! There were crab salads, prawn salads, crab sandwiches, prawn sandwiches, crab chowder and most importantly, clam chowder galore!!! It was top notch smelling, and extremely extremely appetising. Dungeness crab and clam chowders are definitely the "must have"s here.

Fisherman's wharf

We went for two places for clam chowder - Boudin's Bakery (which was so awesome, we went back to find more on another day), and Alioto's. The clam chowder in San Fran is amazingness! It was super smooth, creamy and tastiness with bits of tiny clams scattered throughout. There are benefits of it coming in a bread bowl and by itself (with sour dough on the side). When in a bread bowl, it's novel and the soup is thoroughly soaked through into the bread. When the sour dough is given on the side, the bread is also always fresh and soft and fluffy and you can control how much soup and soakedness you want :)

Clam Chowder, New England Style in a bread bowl

Chili Beef

At Alioto's, not only did we get creamy clam chowder (and red tomatoey seafood chowder), we also got fresh and sweet dungeness crab. I opted for my crab to be in garlicy butter sauce. The garlic and butter was infused through the thin shell and into the sweet sweet meat. My hubby's crab was cooked cajun style. His crab was seasoned with chili powder, cayenne pepper, onion and garlic bits, salt and black pepper. Personally, I preferred my cooking method - yummily aromaticly sweet without being overpowering :)


Clam chowder and tomato seafood chowder

Dungeness Crab - Garlic Butter and Cajun Style

The view from out table

So tourist trap or not, Fisherman's wharf is pretty deliciousness for seafood. The dungeness crab is a must have as is the clam chowder! :)

Food - 8/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 30/40

Boudin's Bakery
160 Jefferson St
(between Mason St & Taylor St)
San Francisco, CA 94133
Tel: (415) 928 1849

8 Fishermans Wharf
San Francisco, CA 94133
Tel: (866) 439 1332

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Azuma Kushiyaki - Sydney

We were just about to watch Hangover II but we were 1/2 and hour early, and it was just around dinner time. Wandering past the nearby restaurants and cafes, I stupidly believed that we had enough time to eat at Azuma Kushiyaki. Just a few skewers of meat on a grill - how long could that take... right? Answer = too long.

After a quick browse through the menu, we made our pick. Kaki Fry came out first. Three deep fried oysters - crunchy batter surrounding a decent-sized fresh oyster, and dunked into mayo. YUM.

kaki fry

I was also dying for sushi and hence, I ordered the salmon and avocado roll. I was slightly disappointed with this dish. It looked pretty - simply smothered with toasted sesame seeds. But this also translates to being able to taste nothing BUT sesame seeds. It also resulted in a mouthful of sesame seeds as I ate this. Not too awesome at all.

Italicsalmon and avocado inside out roll - $11

A kushiyaki platter (1 dozen skewers) was also ordered. With a range of beef, duck, lamb, chicken, fish, prawns, and veges, it was all very appetising espeically when sprinkled with their pink salt and cracked pepper concoction. I was pleasantly surprised by the tastiness and tenderness of their beef tongue which was thickly cut. The beef and the fishes were also very palatable. Of the veges, my favourite was the zucchini - moist and subtly juicy.

kushiyaki platter (1 dozen) - $29.80

Last but not least was the salmon head. This was going to be soft shell crab until my hubby changed the order at the last moment. A good choice though. Barbequed charred tasting with super tender and flavoursome salmon meat.

salmon head

And were we late for our movie? We quickly got the bill, ran out of the restaurant and just made it for the beginning of the movie :)

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

Azuma Kushiyaki
Regent Place Shopping
Ground Level, 501 George St
NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9267 7775

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Burger House - San Francisco

We arrived in San Francisco from Hawaii slightly late and didn't get to go out and explore and find dinner until around 10pm. From being in Hawaii where shopping was open til 11pm, we were slightly shocked to find most food places already closed by the time we ventured out to the middle of the city. What was left open was this burger place and a pizza place.

We opted for burger. So Burgerhouse it was.

Burger House

It reminded me of those late night kebab shops you get in Sydney when everything else is closed. Just as greasy probably. My partner ordered the black jack burger and I opted for the '49er all beef hot dog.

The burger was quite yum. The black angus beef patty was succulent and juicy. The monterey cheese complimented well. Then there was your usual lettuce, tomato and tomato sauce. What really was yummy was the chips. Golden crispness on the outside. Delicious hot fluffiness on the inside. Pleasant surprise for a late night dodgy looking burger joint :)

black jack burger
My hot dog was likewise very quite yummy. The sausage was super tasty and massive. In with the dog was lettuce, cucumber and tomato - probably in effort to try and make it seem a bit more healthy. The mustard drizzled on top was also not bad.

49'er All Beef Hot Dog

All up, not a bad burger/hot dog joint. Lots of people frequented the place during the time we were eating (possibly because it was one of the few places that still appeared open).

Food - 8/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 27/40

Burger House
237 Powell St
San Francisco
Tel: (415) 956 2311

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

High Tea at Intercontinental - Sydney

Just taking a bit of a break from the recent American posts...

For one of my friend's Hen's, she opted for a high tea at Intercontinental Hotel. It wasn't at the Cortile lounge... it was upstairs. But I think the food should be the same as downstairs. For $50 a head including a glass of champagne, I was flabergasted by the amount of food we each got.

Sitting down, we were met with these four little pots. The cream and the jam was obviously for scones. But the chocolate sauce and maple syrup? I was pleasantly informed by my friend that they will be for waffles and crepes which will come in addition to the massive tier of stuff we will get.

cream and jam, chocolate sauce and maple syrup

One massive tier was to be shared amongst 4 people. There were like 8-10 scones on the top level. On the 2nd level, there were 3 types of sandwiches (egg and cucumber, sundried tomatos, and ham and cheese), mini meat pies, and mini quiches. The bottom tier was where the sweets lay - passionfruit cheesecake, opera cake, macaroons (different tiers had different flavours - mine was pistaccio), cream cornettos, and toffee nut tartlets.

WOW. Epic. We probably finished 3 of the massive pile of scones between the 4 of us. They were apparently really really good (I'm not a scone person and I wanted to save my stomach for the rest of the goodies and hence, didn't have one). Of the sandwiches, the egg and cucumber one was the yummiest. Meat pies and quiches were unfortunately, very average. The bottom layer... delicious! I loved the opera cake - smooth, rice, chocolatey and creamy. The nut tartlets were also tasty and crunchy, sweet yet not overlly so. It was the macaroons which took me by surprise. They were slightly massive ... and at first, due to the psychedelic green colour, my friends were puzzled by what flavour it was. But after tasting it, the unmistable pistaccio nutty flavour was unmissable.

high tea 3-tiered stand

In the midst of chomping through the tiers, icecream balls, belgium waffles and crepes arrived to the table. I only had the belgium waffle as I simply couldn't fit both in. The waffle was slightly cold by the time I got to it, but when combined with the icecream and the chocolate sauce, it wasn't half bad :)

waffles with ice-cream and chocolate sauce

All up, for $50, the amount of food we got was pretty good. Everything was quite delectable, and left all of us being stuffed + more. Only thing is, the waiters were slightly not very approachable and continuously tried to kick us out at around 5ish.

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

Intercontinental Hotel
Corner Phillip & Bridge Sts
117 Macquarie Street,
NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9240 1396