Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cocolo Thai & Japanese Dining Bar - Randwick

After a prolonged period of starvation following a busy day at uni, a few friends and I rocked up to 'the spot' at Randwick and ended up at Cocolo, a Thai and Japanese restaurant. For those who are wondering if this is a fusion restaurant... well, the menu has elements of Japanese food and elements of Thai food but the fusion bit is a bit err... awkward... (I shall explain this later on).


One of my friends ordered the Chirashi Don ($9.90) which she described as a 'giant sushi in a bowl'. The sashimi pieces look quite fresh, and as no complaints came from my friend (although this could have been due to our starved exhausted state), I'm inclined to think that this dish was quite alrite.

Chirashi Don - $9.90

Another of my friends ordered a Massamun Curry with Mixed Vegetables ($12.90). The bowl of curry was quite big (I thought) and slightly more watery than I'm used to seeing. Although the curry was quite large, along with the big bowlb of rice, my friend seemed to consider it just as a first dinner - or perhaps as "snack" - as she mentioned that she had dinner waiting for her at home too~ hehehe. But having said that, I must reiterate that we had all had a long exhausting day.

Massamun Curry - $12.90

My next friend ordered the Shio Butter Ramen ($9.90), whilst I ordered the Miso Ramen ($9.90). The ramen is also where I believe, this "fusion" restaurant goes wrong. When I order ramen, I guess I'm expecting half an egg (which this place provides), a couple of thin slices of pork (which here, is substituted by chicken), some corn, bamboo shoots, and shallots (which here, appears to be just a selection of greens normally found in stir-fries). I guess my problem with these substitutions is firstly, the look of the dish - makes it look messy and less appetising, the oddness - I've never had zucchini and brocoli with ramen (outside of my home-made two minute noodles with all the left overs chucked in), and lastly, the taste - the chicken was... urm... wierd tasting. The chicken peices in my bowl had a somewhat sour taste to them - and dunking it in the "miso" soup did not make it any better. So, I just let them be at the bottom of my bowl. Speaking of the soup base, it was alot less "miso-y" than expected. My friend also commented that her buttered-up soup was a bit odd as well (which is understandable as butter in ramen must must MUST be accompanied by corn!).

Shio Butter Ramen - $9.90

Miso Ramen - $9.90

In all, I must say that I didn't really like the "fusion" in my ramen, and the next time I come here, I think I'll stick with a pad thai or some sushi. Although the food wasn't brill at this restaurant, my company was - and without my lovely friends, I definately would have went home dissappointed by the meal. The service was average and the ambiance... nothing brilliant but I think we WERE the noise, so no complaints from me! :)

Food - 5/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 5/10
Overall - 22/40

Cocolo Thai and Japanese Dining Bar
20 Perouse Rd
Randwick, NSW
Tel: (02) 9326 3855

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Trevi Lakeside Restaurant - Norwest

Decided on a family dinner to herald the end of my exams 2008.
To break the monotony of a Chinese food streak, we decided on Trevi Lakeside.

Trevi Lakeside

The restaurant was quite busy, and customers seemed to keep coming and coming.
The restaurant must have a nice attraction somewhere - thought I.

Certainly can't be the service that's keeping everyone? There were only 3 visible waiters roaming around the tables - and, either because we weren't regulars, or because we we're asian, or because we didn't order wine - we didn't even get to hear the "today's specials" when some (not all) tables around us seemed to have this pleasantry.

Nonetheless, we ordered 1/2 a dozen of "house" oysters ($17), which were oysters topped with ricotta, crushed macadamia, baby spinach and vinocotto. Interesting, but I prefer them natural i think. Cooking it "house" style was interesting, but the piled on ricotta overpowered, well, everything I guess. An interesting concept - but one which looses the oyster.

half-dozen house oysters - $17

My mum ordered the "linguini al vongole e granchio" ($27). This was linguini with fresh blue swimmer crab meat, yamba king prawns, and vongole all in a garlic white wine, basil and parsley. Hmm... again, attractive on paper - less so in real life - and even less in taste. The sauce was watery and somewhat bland.

linguini al vongole e granchio - $27

My dad took the lamb racks, chargilled and macadamia crusted, with potato gratin, buttered french beans and vinocotto glaze (the "agnello di casa" $36). I'm not a fan of lamb. My dad knew this and offered me to the potato gratin which was... very very lamby. My dad seemed to enjoy this dish - and my mum too (more so than hers).

agnello di casa - $36

Lastly, my dish. The "salmone" ($34). This was a grilled atlantic salmon fillet with crusted pistacchio on mushroom and asparagus rissotto and drizzled with truffle oil. The salmon was a touch (or a bit more than a touch) overcooked. The crusted pistacchio top was super salty - but without it, was 'super hard to taste anything much' - ie. tasteless. The risotto, however, was not bad and oh so very creamy and filling. However, I'm not quite sure how well the salmon went with the risotto. Seemed like they could be better off sitting on two separate dishes.

salmone - $34

Food aside, the ambiance of the restaurant is great! It was quiet and peaceful when we first entered. We had a table which overlooked an artificial lake and a water fountain and many many little duckies. Very nice. I guess what dissappointed me was the service (of which, they barely spoke to us - not even when they put down our dishes), and the quality of the food (which sounded so enticing on paper). Dessert was not ordered as we didn't want to find ourselves stuck at the restaurant for another half-an-hour or more just for that one coffee or dessert plate. Hence, my family made a quick exit and got the bill even before our table was cleared.

Food - 4/10

Service - 3/10

Ambiance - 8/10

Value for money - 5/10

Overall - 20/40

Trevi Lakeside Restaurant
Shop 5, 8 Century Circuit

Norwest Business Park

Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

(02) 8850 0111

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Torin Japanese Restaurant - Eastwood

I was dying for sashimi and scallops and oysters.
But given that I was in the midst of my exam period and that my partner had a plane to catch that afternoon, fish market seemed out of the question.

Rather, we picked a small Korean-owned Japanese restaurant on the "korean side" of Eastwood - Torin.


The restaurant was nice and cozy, and was busier than I had expected. In fact, the seemed to be more customers (of either of Korean or Honky decent) than the waiter could handle.

Nonetheless, we were seated, and we ordered, and the food arrived promptly.

The menu offered a vast array of Japanese and Korean food. As I was dying for sashimi, Sashimi was definitely on the agenda - the question was whether we wanted the medium ($50) or large ($80) size. My partner boasted that he could finish TWO large sashimi boats himself - so I guess that he was quite hungry. That, coupled with my own hunger - it required alot of will power to put off ordering the extravagent $80 large sashimi (it was just lunch after all).

At the end of much much deliberation, we decided on the medium-sized sashimi, gyoza (one of my partner's favourite - $12), and a seafood udon ($12).

Before our orders arrived, we were presented with a nice plate of salad each. I'm not sure what the sauce consisted of - but it wasn't bland nor overpowering.


As I looked around, I noticed that most other tables got those cool free korean condiments. But none arrived at our table (looking back, we probably should have been thankful that we didn't receive these). Instead, (much to my surprise), three delicious-looking complementary dishes ("sukedashi dishes") arrived at our table. There was this pancakey thing. Resembled an okonomiyaki - mix of flour and cabbage, yummy sauce and bonito flakes. Very very delicious.

Okonomiyaki ish dish

There was also this very red, spicy-looking dish which I initially mistook for eggplant. Luckily, it wasn't. It was salmon fish-head/bone drenched in what seemed like kimchi-ish sauce. Was it spicy? I would say - yes~ but tolerable. To my partner... spicey??? no - but tasty nonetheless.

Salmon head/bone

There was also what seems like oven-baked buttered creamed cheese corn. The corn was super sweet and the sauce mild yet complementary. Luckily, this dish was situated next to me. If it was any closer to my partner, I doubt I would have had the chance to even taste it! :P

Oven-baked corn

Now for the dishes we actually ordered - the medium sashimi platter ($50). There was salmon, tuna (3 pieces), octopus (3 pieces) and white fish. A bit uneven on the proportions - but probably for good reason. The salmon and white fish outdid the tuna and octopus by miles. The salmon was very fresh and delicious tasting - mmm... satisfies my sashimi cravings :)
I was, however, slightly dissappointed that there wasn't more variety (eg. scallops).

Medium Sashimi - $50

Now the gyoza ($12). Nice, crispy, and golden brown. When dipped in the gyoza sauce - mmm... yum.
Gyoza - $12

And then the udon ($12). I was very thankful that the udon was quite a small portion given the amount of food that was already piled on our table. The udon was... very average - like any other udon. The amount of seafood content was minimal, and the tempura was soggy by the time we got to it (our own fault).

Seafood udon - $12

So, the waiters were very busy - so not too much can be said about the service. Nonetheless, the food arrived promptly and the waiters (and the chef) was nice and smiley when we saw them. Further, the ambiance of the restaurant wasn't bad - a bit echoey on noise, but nice and cozy nonetheless. Overall, not a bad lunch place - the bill at the end of the day was only $74 and our table was covered in food - so much so that I sensed envious looks from other tables :)

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

Torin Japanese Restaurant
122 Rowe Street
NSW 2122
Tel: (02) 9874 9660

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Eastwood Chinese Restaurant - Eastwood

Mmm... what's better for lunch than Yum Cha?

Okok... maybe there are lots of nice things I can think of eating for lunch... but dumplings aren't a bad option!

My family decided on yum cha in Eastwood. It was a Saturday - and there were lots of people. Thankfully, my lovely daddy got us a table :)

First to be ordered was an array of dumplings.
Mmm... I love dumplings and could eat this everyday!

There was the "gaw choy gau" (aka steamed chinese chive dumplings), "siu mai"(steamed dim sims), "har gau" (steamed prawn dumplings), "dou miu gau" (baby snow pea leaf dumpling), and beef dimsims. The dumplings were all very plump and tasty.

steamed chinese chive dumplings

siu mai - steamed dim sims

baby snow pea leaf dumpling

har gau - steamed prawn dumplings

beef dim sims

Now for the other dishes we had at yum-cha. There was the chicken feet in black bean sauce, the combination of tofu and eggplant with imbedded fish meat - drenched in oyster sauce (and a bit of chilli sauce), pan-fried taro, radish, and water-chestnut cakes, barbecue pork pastry(it was a plate of four - but two were eagerly eaten before I managed to kidnap the dish), egg tarts, and deep-fried sesame balls.

chicken feet in black bean sauce

combination of tofu and eggplant

Trio of cakes - taro cake, turnip cake and water-chestnut cake

Barbeque Pork pastry

Egg tarts

Deep fried sesame balls

Overall, I thought that the food was decent - some dishes (eg. the deep fried sesame balls) came out at a less than optimal temperature, but other dishes (eg. my beloved siu mai and other fellow dumplings) were delicious. Maybe it all depends on your luck! :)
The service wasn't ever present, but they did refill out teapots once in a while.
The ambiance... well, typical noisy crowded yum-cha place - but then again, I guess that's what gives it the "yum-cha" feel!
And price? Well, the total bill for the five of us ended up to be less than $67 - so not bad!

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

Eastwood Chinese Restaurant
2/25 Railway Parade
NSW 2122
Tel: (02) 9874 8732