Friday, September 23, 2011

Bakehouse Garden Korean BBQ - North Strathfield

Default dinner option for us seem to be either Charcoal Chicken (at El Jannah) or barbequed meat of some sort (either Jap or Korean style). Instead of going to Tosung this time, we decided to try something new - Bakehouse Gardens Korean BBQ within the Bakehouse Quarter.

Side dishes were pretty good - broccoli with chili sauce, eggplant, kimchi, pickled chinese cabbage. Good amounts of lettuce were supplied to supplement our barbequed meats.


For this night, we opted for a beef bulgogi hot pot ($40) which was a sweet soup with a heap of beef bulgogi, mushrooms (button and straw), onions, rice cakes, and potato noodles. This was really yummy. The beef was tasty and tender. However, the pot is rather deceiving - it's rather shallow, meaning that everything boils and cooks super quick. Delicious anyhow :)

beef hot pot

We also opted for 2 barbequed meats - marinated beef short rib ($19), and pork belly ($14). OK - so the portions aren't massive, but the meats are absolutely deliciousness!!! My hubby said that the pork belly here is just as good (if not better) than Tosung (whom he'd previously named as the best pork belly in Sydney). That is a BIG call. But not one without reason. It was melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and deliciousness!

Marinated beef short rib - $19
Pork Belly - $14

I have to say, the service here was pretty amazing. At one time, there were THREE waiters surrounding our table putting plates down, swapping plates, cooking our meat. Not only that, the grill was changed like 3-4 times during the course of dinner (where we only really cooked 2 meats). Not a bad place - cheap too! Definitely worth a revisit

Food - 9/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance- 7/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 32/40

Bakehouse Garden Korean BBQ
11 George Street
North Strathfield
NSW 2137
Tel: (02) 8746 0299

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cheeky Chocolate - North Strathfield

Looking for an Adriano Zumbo inspired cake without the normal Adriano Zumbo lines? Look no further than this sophisticatedly frenchy-looking dim-litted chandelier-filled chocolate cafe in North Strathfield.

Cheeky Chocolate only opened in the recent few months but quite often I see it packed full of people when I drive past on a Friday-Sunday night. Not only that, Adriano Zumbo does consultancy work here. Hence, I jumped at the first opportunity to drag my hubby and a few friends to sample the cakes here.

First thing that caught my eye - the glass cabinets filled with awesome looking cakes, macaroons and hand-made chocolates.

Cheeky Chocolate

My hubby was a party pooper and opted for a liquid dessert of chocolate thickshake. He asked for it to be extra thick. It came out only slightly thicker than a milkshake. Unfortunate.

Chocolate thickshake

One of my friends chose the mango cake. This was a square slab with a mango layer center, marshmellowy whiteness enveloped the mango with dusted yellow mango powder all over it. My friend enjoyed it muchly. In my tasting of it, it was an interesting texture, and sweet but not overly so.

Mango cake

Another cake which was ordered was the passion-fruit and white chocolate cheesecake. The top cheesecakey layer was light, the passion-fruit was flavoursome and the white-chocolate third-tier was slighty more dense and a good sweetness. The biscuit crumb base was also deliciousness~

Passion-fruit cheesecake

My eye landed on the chocolate caramel tart. A fantastic chocolate biscuit tart encased gooey fluidy chocolate mixed with caramel. All this was topped with peanut brittle. It was amazing! Rich, dense, chocolatey, heavenly!!!

Chocolate caramel tart

Fantastic desserts in a chillaxy friendly environment? Who wouldn't like it. For those alcoholics - there's cocktails galore here too! Definitely worth many re-visits :)

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 8.5/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 31/40

Cheeky Chocolate
11 George Street
North Strathfield
NSW 2137
Tel: (02) 9764 5966

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bar Biscotti - North Strathfield

We woke up early on a Saturday morning and I was starving! Hence, for convenience sake, we went for breakfast down the road at Bar Biscotti :)

It was a hot day so I decided to order a chocolate thickshake. It was tasty and yummy... but... slightly not thick enough. It was half thick - the bottom was OKish, but the top half was like a milkshake.

Chocolate thickshake

My hubby's cappuccino was also decent ish. Like we thought previously, the reason why the coffee is not as awesome as the ones in Melbourne is due to the milk. Hence, with normal Sydney milk, I guess it was an OK coffee.


Food-wise, my hubby went for the 'Big Biscotti' ($16.50). This was a pretty huge plate of stuff with 2 eggs (cooked how you like - my hubby went for fried), a huge pile of tiny mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, several sausages, a hash brown and a pile of thinly awesomely toasted bread. My hubby said that the bread was amazing! Everything else was not bad either.

The Big Biscotti

I decided to order my usual - eggs benedict with smoked salmon. Lightly toasted muffins topped with generous servings of baby spinach and smoked salmon slices and poached egg. The poached egg was unfortunately, overcooked. No ooziness. A shame. The hollandaise sauce was tasty though :)

Eggs benedict with smoked salmon

Breakfast was not bad. But when we went to pay the bill, they were like "$88.50 please" which left my hubby and I flaberghasted. "WHAT?!?!". Turns out, they mixed up the tables and put the next table's bill on our tab too~ So I guess that if you're eating here, be sure to check out the bill! :)

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

Bar Biscotti
24 George Street
North Strathfield
NSW, 2137
Tel: (02) 9746 7333

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shoya (2) - Melbourne

My hubby felt like eating barbequed meats - hence, we decided to dine at Shoya - a jap restaurant we'd been to before for an omakase. Shoya has 6 levels of dining - a smokeless Japanese style BBQ level, traditional HORIGOTATSU (jap) style seating, fine dining tables, an executive section with sushi bar, Karaoke rooms and an executive lounge. Since we're barbequing meats, we opted for the "smokeless" jap style BBQ level which didn't have a table available til 9pm.

It was really interesting because the smokelessness of the barbeque was amazing! The only barbeque I've ever been to where I could leave without smelling like a barbeque :) Food-wise, we decided to order a sushi and sashimi set ($65) and 2 barbeque sets ('Gouka Tokusen') ($59) to share between the 3 of us.

The sushi and sashimi moriawase had a good fresh selection of sashimi (king fish, tuna, salmon, white fish) and sushi (tuna rolls, california rolls, squid, clams, scallop, scampi, kingfish, salmon, tuna). All was yummy but.. for $65, it wasn't entirely value for money.

Sushi Sashimi Moriawase - $65

Assortment of sushi and sashimi carefully selected by the chef. A perfect starter to share or for the seafood lover's main.

The barbeque sets came with a seaweed salad, wagyu sashimi, and a mix of meat and seafood barbeque meats. A sweet finish of icecream was also included. The seaweed salad was yummy and fresh with a good amount of vinaigrette. The wagyu been sashimi was also deliciousness! Tasty, beefy, fresh.

seaweed salad and wagyu beef sashimi

On the meat platter, there was rib of Wagyu beef, Wagyu beef sirloin, pork belly, and free range chicken. There was also Ox tongue with spring onions and Wagyu sausage. All the meats were really good. The wagyu was really tender and tasty and the pork belly was yum. The OX tongue was chewy yet delicate and I love all sausages to Wagyu sausages were right up my alley :)
However, portion-wise, I don't think 2 males would be full on the amount of meat served.

selection of meats

On the seafood platter there was prawn, scallop, squid, abalone, and salmon. Again, portions were not plentiful but the scallop and squid were amazingly sweet and deliciousness!

selection of seafood

The seaweed soup was tastiness. Clear looking but full of flavour :) The set also came with a bowl of rice. Guess they have to fill you up somehow as the portions are plentifuless.

seaweed soup

Dessert-wise, my friend went for a chocolate cake. This was chocolate sponge topped with chocolate mousse and a tiny gold flake. It was no where near as yummy as the cake from Ganache... but... it was alright.

chocolate cake

Icecream-wise, my hubby went for green tea, I went for sesame. The green tea was like any other. But the sesame seemed to be a mix of black and white sesame seeds. It was really really packed full of sesame-flavour.

green tea and black sesame icecream

All up, food here is fresh and tasty. Portions are not the most, but... it's quality and not quantity, right? :)

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

25 Market Lane,
Tel: (03) 9650 0848

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cumulus Inc - Melbourne

Prior to going to Melbourne, I had done my research and read loads of good reviews about the breakfast at Cumulus Inc. Hence, I was dying to go.

Unfortunately, we had a bit of a sleep in and by the time we decided to go, it was pretty close to 11am. And that was pretty close to the time they stopped serving breakfast... hence, we rushed to Cumulus Inc by taxi and just made it.

Cumulus Inc.

First things first - coffee. Melbourne coffee. We figured out that it isn't about the destination, but about the milk. It's the Riverina milk that most Melbournian cafes use which make Melbourne coffee awesome~ And yes, the coffee here is awesome - both my mocha and my partner's capp. And the barista lady went crazy alllll morning making coffee after coffee after coffee.


My hubby ordered the 'Shakshouka'. This was baked eggs with roasted peppers and Persian feta which came in a heavy, super hot cast iron pan. It was packed full of flavour - crazy mix of spices which my partner loved. The heavy flavour hit was a little too much for me at that time of the day though.

shakshouka - baked eggs with roasted peppers and Persian feta - $17.50

I ordered the 'Grilled Lyonnaise sausage'. This was a huge plate of braised beans with chunks of sausage and bits and pieces of smoked pork hock. On top of this pile of beans was a 65/65 egg. From my research, the reason why it's a 65/65 egg is because it's an egg cooked at 65C for 65 minutes. This leads to an egg which has a firm ish egg white and a runny yolk. Break the egg and it spills all over the beans, leading to a hearty yummy concoction.

Grilled Lyonnaise sausage, smoked hock, braised beans and 65/65 egg - $19.80

Patrons come in and out of this cafe. But there's a promise of yummy food and delicious smells and aromas throughout, making the wait worth it :)

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 31/40

Cumulus Inc
45 Flinders Lane
Tel: (03) 9650 1445

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ganache (2) - Melbourne

I remember that I had an awesome cake from Ganache last time I was in Melbourne - hence, I couldn't wait to return. Stepping into their new branch on Collins Street, we were met with glass cabinets full of hand-crafted chocolates, macaroons cakes and slices as well as some enticing packaged chocolates.

This time round, I opted for a brownie mousse cake ($7.50). This a layer of delicious brownie with dark and milk chocolate mousse which was smooth, decadent and melt-in-your-mouth, and topped with a layer of chocolate anglaise. There was also a thin slice of tempered chocolate and a tiny tiny speck of gold flake sitting on top. YUM.

brownie mousse - $7.50

The pistachio macaroon ($2.20) had a crunchy shell and a creamy pistachio filling. I think I have confirmed that I am not a fan of macaroons - freshly made or frozen type. Instead, my hubby took fancy to this little treat.

pistachio macaroon - $2.20

My hubby opted for a Chocolate Milkshake ($6). This was a sweet chocolaty concoction with gelato, chocolate ganache and slightly too much milk. My hubby and I are both thick shake fans - hence, I think we'd prefer more gelato and more chocolate... so this was slightly diluted for our liking.

Chocolate Milkshake - $6

I love the cakes at Ganache. A must-return for sure!

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 30/40

Collins Street
Tel: (02) 9650 8388

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Movida - Melbourne

We hopped off a plane in Melbourne on a Friday night and decided to meet up with a friend for dinner. The dining place of choice was Movida. We had no reservations. We simply just rocked up to the packed out restaurant at 9.30pm. "Mind a 30 min wait?" sure- no problem. This is when you know you're in Melbourne - it's OK to start dinner after 10pm.


A jug of sangria to start the night as we decided on the range of tapaz (small individual pieces) and racions (sharing plates) to order. My hubby and our friend both liked the sound of the specials a lot - and hence, a lot of the specials of the night were ordered.

First up was the Anchoa ($4.50 each). This was a hand-filleted 'Cantabrian Artisan Anchovy' on a long thin flat crouton with a small scoop of smoked tomato sorbet. This didn't pique my fancy, but my hubby seemed to enjoy it.

Anchoa - $4.50 each

Something that was up my alley was the Croqueta ($4 each). This was super yummy crispy golden deep fried silky croquet with a filling of potato, jamon and egg. Smoothness and tastiness yet crispy and crunchy. YUM.

Croqueta - $4 each

Next one was also my order - Sopa Ajo con Vieira ($6 each). This was a perfectly cooked scallop mimicking an island surrounded a sea of garlic soup. The garlic soup was really really rich yet somewhat light. The scallop was lightly seared yet soft and tender inside. It was perfect combo. Super deliciousness! I could have like 10 of these!

Sopa Ajo con Vieira - $6 each

My friend picked the Agridulce con Pato ($11.50 each). This was a slow cooked duck shank which was crispy on the outside and stringily tender on the inside. This was served with hazelnuts, raisins and onions. Not bad.

Agridulce con Pato - $11.50 each

That was our tapaz dishes. Our sharing plates included the Cecina ($19.50) which was air-dried thin slices of wagyu with a soft poached egg and truffle foam. OMG this was amazing. The egg flavour was strong, get complemented the soft tender wagyu slices and truffle foam greatly. Deliciousness!!!

Cecina - $19.50

One of the specials was the rabbit. Four round columns of rabbit was wrapped in prosciutto was accompanied by melty soft brussel sprouts. This was OK tasting :)

rabbit with brussel sprouts

Another special that we ordered was a white fish served with pipi in a white wine cream sauce. The fish was really soft and tender with a crispy skin. The whole combination was pretty yum.

white fish with pipi in white wine cream sauce

The buttered leek was another special we ordered. The leek was really soft and really really buttery. Super rich and deliciousness.

buttered leeks

Thus far, the scallops were most awesomeness of the night. Something which was on the same calibre was the Carrillera de Buey ($21.50). This was slowly braised beef cheek which was seriously 'fall off the bone' beef cooked in Pedro Ximenez, all sitting on cauliflower puree. The meat was soooooo tasty. The sauce was infused into the meat which was sooooooo tender. Zomg :)

Carrillera de Buey - $21.50

Last but not least, we ordered a dessert on the specials menu - crispy spanish donuts. The donuts were filled with custard. The ball of goodness was deep fried, coming out super tongue-burning hot and super super crunchy. The ball of sweet dough was coated with cinnamon and was served with vanilla ice cream. My spoon could hardly crack into the donut... but - well worth the effort once able to be dugged into.

specials dessert

Finishing dinner close to midnight? Usual for Melbournians... right? This restaurant was well worth the <30 min wait. The flavours here were spot on. Worth a return visit for sure!

Food - 9.5/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 33.5/40

1 Hosier Lane
Tel: (03) 9663 3038

Monday, September 5, 2011

Vue de Monde - Melbourne

I think I have just had the most epic lunch - EVER.
The lunch booking was for 2pm at Melbourne's 3-hat restaurant Vue de Monde. Luckily, our hotel was just next door at Intercontinental Rialto.

The funny thing about this restaurant is that it was epic from the beginning. Situated on Level 55 of the Rialto, the building's lift's highest level was 54 which meant that in order to get to the restaurant, the reception lady at the bottom had to buzz you up. After an ear-popping elevator ride, we step out to an amazing Melbournian view and a classy 'antique-ridden' bar.

As unfortunately, our table was not yet available, we chilled out at the bar for a while - enjoying the view. When our table was ready, we were professionally led to yet another amazing space with spectacular views. Without table cloths, the table was instead covered with dark, textured kangaroo hide which was stitched and tacked across the table top creating a soft ish smooth surface to lean on. What catches our eyes (view apart) was the pile of river pebbles and blackened logs in the centre. Each rock and log is used in some way when you order the degustation... but as we were not only a few of the rocks were used for us. The rocks were used as cutlery rests, salt and pepper holders, butter receptacles and the like. Very artful. Was fun to play with for giggly girls like me :)

We weren't given a menu for ages - but that didn't mean we didn't get food. First off to reach the table was hand cut potato chips with a creamy dip (onions, carrot, chives, sour cream... and maybe some other ingredients that we couldn't identify). My hubby was sold! Super crunchy crispy chips. YUM :)

hand cut chips with dip

Next out, 4 more amuse bouches came out. There was this jelly thing with some white thing inside. The white creamy paste was a mix of oysters and lemon. The gelatine layer added an interesting texture to the creaminess.

apple gelatine creamy thing

Another was a venison tartare sandwiched between thin sheets of crisp dried venison meat. The venison tartare was really tasty, smooth, creamy. A slight taste-hit. I like how it was cleverly presented on top of a rock :)

beef tartare in venison jerky

There was also a bite-sized piece of smoked eel. The top was crunchy and crispy and unexpected in fish. This was due to a sliver of clear, crisp white chocolate praline. On top of all this, there was a small pile of caviar. I never knew eel could taste so good - so flavoursome and so many textures in such a simple looking dish.

bite-sized cod

The orange thing was a little rod of raw pumpkin topped with tiny squirts of lemon yoghurt,toasted pumpkin seeds and shallot/chive(?). My hubby was flabbergasted by the handiwork. There was also a worm-like thing on the rock. This was a pickled vegetable... the waiter said it was artichoke... I'm not sure what it was but it was vinegary and crunchy.

pumpkin rods

After all the appetisers were done, the waiter waltzed over and informed us of the 2 food options - 'choice' or 'freedom'. 'Freedom' is their $250 10-course degustation. 'Choice' is their 4 course a la carte options ($150). Looking at the time, it was after 3pm already - and after 5 amuse bouches, I don't think my stomach could fit 10 courses. Hence, the a la carte we opted - only just (as my partner was almost swayed by the quality of the meals thus far). We get an entree, main, cheese, and dessert. As I'm not a cheese fan, I was allowed to go for 2 entrees instead! :)

My partner opted for the Melbourne club sandwich. This was no ordinary sandwich. Where's the bread? 3 super crisp crisp-bread sandwiched a layer of prosciutto and a layer of sardines with cucumber shreds scattered throughout and a nice dollop of aioli. Tasty. Fresh. Yum.

Melbourne club sandwich

I went for the prawn Russian salad. In my mind, a prawn salad looks like a pile of greens with some nice peeled cooked prawns on top. What I got, however, was a rectangle of translucent smashed prawns with bits of green, potato puree squirts, carrot cubes, wasabi mayo and caviar scattered throughout. O.M.G. I can't describe how I felt when I ate this. How can a prawn salad taste so good? Sweet and fresh and tasty and savoury and flavoursome and like, everything!!!

Russian prawn salad

My 'extra' entree (which I swapped a cheese plate for) was the Ox tongue salad with Gascony butter. Gascony butter is butter with a pinch of pepper for extra taste. The ox tongue was really soft and chewy and tasted amazing when with the butter. There was a massive array of radishes, greens, celeriac, tiny onion slices and edible flours everywhere. It was like eating a garden. A very tasty garden though.

Ox tongue salad

After our entrees, we got our bread. The butter came with the waiter scooping it from a big wooden bucket in front of your table. It was then placed on one of the "rocks".

butter using rock receptacle

The bread came in a leather pouch with heated rocks on the bottom. Yes - heated rocks - to keep the bread warm and soft.

bread with heated rocks

The palate cleanser was even more amazing than the previous creations we've seen. I love it because it allowed me to play :) It starts with a wooden pestle which you use to grind a mortar filled with fresh lemon balm, baby parsley shoots, wood sorrel, pineapple sage flowers and tiny lime grains... all of which was snap-frozened by the use of liquid nitrogen which was theatrically poured out in front of your eyes. Crushing the frozen leaves and flowers, you get a pile of crumbs on which a cool refreshing cucumber sorbet sits on top. This was ridiculously fun and quite a creative palate cleanser.

Palate cleanser

Out next was our mains. This was course 2 and the time was close to 4pm (and we had a plane to catch at 6.30pm). I had the wagyu beef. This was two super marbled pieces of wagyu with dried apricot cubes, Jerusalem artichoke, radish slices... all on top of a bed of smoked bone marrow. There was also a creamy foam sauce of some sort. This was melt-in-your mouth goodness. Oh yes - and there were the edible flowers ... again. So many textures. So many flavours. Zomigosh~

Wagyu beef

My hubby had the flathead with tarragon, swede and mustard. There was a crispy crumbed skin on top of a perfectly cooked slather of flathead. I don't know what they put on the skin but it was soooooo crispy and sooooo complementary to the soft textured fresh tasting fish. There were also some puffy squares which were quite interesting.


Next up was my hubby's cheese platter. The cheese was shipped around on a temperature controlled trolley which was completely glassed so you could see the cheese selection. The cheese is cut to order but from my observation, every time patrons were asked what kind of cheese they wanted, they all let the cheese dude decide. My hubby's 3 cheese were... 2 from Normandy, and one which came from a 40 kg wheel.... hahaha - that's as far as my cheese expertise went. My hubby said that one of them was a Camembert. The cheese came with two plates of pastes and apple shards.

Cheese platter

Another palate cleanser came next. There was a bubbling lemonade - crazily bubbling liquid nitrogened and very lemony in flavour. Delicious~ There were also "popping candy". An apple sorbet with a jelly thing that you dip into the "popping" mix (kind of like the cola popping candy we have as a kid). "pop" "crackle" "snap". Brings giggles to every table :)

bubbling lemonade and popping candy

Then came dessert. Hubby chose he mandarin "Weis bar". This was a rich and creamy milk and mandarin sorbet surrounded by fresh mandarin bits which have been poached briefly in sugar syrup and super awesome bed of crunchy dried mandarin. The flavour was soooo intense. I'm not a mandarin fan but if the mandarin flavour was swapped with mango or pineapple... man - this would have been dessert of the year~ Crazy!

Mandarin Weiss Bar

I opted for something chocolatey. The chocolate souffle was topped with chocolate mousse and vanilla crème anglaise . The souffle was really light and fluffy. One spoonful would simple just aerate and melt in your mouth. So light, yet chocolately enough.

Chocolate souffle

By now, it was 5pm. We had to dash. Told the waiter we were catching a 6.30pm flight back to Sydney - he was bemused "cutting it short aren't we?".

As we headed back down the 55 levels, we were met by another smiling reception lady who gave us a goodie bag "breakfast for tomorrow". ZOMG. Breakfast goodie bag to take away? A smile came on both our faces :) There was freshly baked sweet brioche, muesli, tea mix, and 2 yummy choc chip cookies. Awesome!

Breakfast goodie bag

With so many amuse bouches, palate cleansers and amazing dishes - the $150 is waaaayyy worth it! All waitstaff were nice, friendly and attentive - giving that relaxed yet sophisticated feel to the restaurant (and you've gotta see the bathroom!). Ambiance is amazing. There's like, nothing to criticise... So would I be back? most definitely yes! Oh - by the way, remember to book like 3 months in advance!

afternote - the restaurant host EMAILed us the menu of what we ate afterwards (unrequested). That's pretty damn impressive!

Food - 10/10 (hubby wanted to give 11/10)
Service - 9.5/10 (+0.5 for emailing us the menu after)
Ambiance - 10/10
Value for money - 10/10
Overall - 40/40

Vue de monde
Level 55 Rialto
525 Collins Street
Tel: (03) 9691 3888