Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Saigon Chef - Wollongong

Saigon Chef

If you ask me or my partner - "where should we eat when in Wollongong?", the first answer you would probably get is ... fish and chips by the beach. Yes, we are touristy. But when you ask my church friends - "where should we eat when in Wollongong?" they take you to Wollongong Central's food court, or a random Viet restaurant just for fun - to spite our English pastor (who just happens to be of Viet origin).

What that means for our stomachs, however, is a bit of suffering on slightly ish tasting food ... LOL. ah hem... I mean - errr... tastes great! hahahaha.

At this place, I ordered a char kway teow. To be honestly honest - it wasn't too bad. It was average. Sure, the seafood and meat and stuff in it isn't the best. But the noodles... you can't really get it wrong. Slightly too spicy for my liking... it was more a soy sauce based stir fry flat rice noodles compared to a char kway teow flavour... but meh - i like noodles :)

char kway teow

My partner was slightly less lucky in his order. He ordered a kari ayam (curry chicken). This was... umm... interesting? super thickly battered chicken pieces coated with yellow guk? and surrounded with oily but fresh tasting prawn crackers.

kari ayam

The dishes ordered by my fellow church friends were also hit and miss. Some decent. Some okay. Some .... yeh. Oh wells- it's just lunch afterall.

Food - 5.5/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 5.5/10
Value for money - 6/10
Overall - 23/40

Saigon Chef
Shop 2, 171 Keira St
NSW 2500
tel: (02)
4228 6728

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kagaya - Hurstville


We were on our way to the gong for a church camp. But I was hungry - and my partner was tipsy after work drinks. Food was definately on my mind.

As we were heading down South, I chose to eat at Kagaya in Hurstville. There has been mixed reviews on this. Some saying that it's really cheap, some saying crap service, some saying that they hiked up the prices, some saying that the sashimi was still frozen. What was I expecting? Not really sure...

We chose the Teriyaki Dinner set from an array of dinner choices. For $39.80, we were met with the following foods (+ green tea)...

Appetiser was vermicelli - with vinegary dressing. Complimentary. A bit plain but still quite appetite-opening.

Vermicelli appetiser

There was a huge plateful of teriyaki chicken. The chicken was good. The skin was crispy and covered with toasted sesame. The teriyaki sauce was sweet and strong. Ok - so the presentation is a bit crappy (especially the cabbage salad), but the taste of it was decent and the portion was huge~

Chicken teriyaki

There was a choice of sashimi or sushi. My partner opted for the sushi. Again, not beautifully presented and the way the sashi was cut may not be optimal. Nonetheless, it was quite tasty and fresh. The rice was a bit bigger than I liked... but overall, the sushi was decent.


We got an agedashi tofu each. The tofu was really crisp on the outside, a heap of shaved ginger on top and just not enough sauce I think. However, you could tell that they cooked it fresh. Wasn't bad at all.

agedashi tofu

In a choice of beef tataki and yakitori, my partner chose the yakitori. This resembled the taste of the teriyaki chicken - except not as tender. However, my partner liked this more. And so - it was good, no fighting. We had our choice dish each :)

yaki tori

Miso soup came next. Nothing special. Pretty ordinary tasting miso soup.

miso soup

There was also a bowl of rice each. Amazingly, I managed to not only not touch the rice, I ended up with a bowl of rice which was larger than what I started with! LOL

To end the night, there was a scoop of green tea icecream each. It wasn't super green-tea tasty, not was it super creamy or super sweet. But icecream! I'm up for icecream of any sort on a cold winter's night! (and yes, icecream does taste better in winter - said my partner).

green tea icecream

So all in all, it was a decent tasting cheap meal. We had a 25% off voucher - making it a grand total of $30 for the two of us. We were both stuffed and satisfied. The only thing I was confused about was the order in which the food came (yes - the order of which I blogged the photos is the order in which the soup came... ie. the mains came up before the entrees LOL).

Food - 6.5/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 8.5/10
Overall - 28/40

175 Forest Road
NSW 2220
tel: (02) 9580 8099

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rhodes Phoenix (3) - Rhodes

Back at Rhodes Phoenix to nut out a few more details about this venue. Why not make a dinner out of it?

We asked what was good to eat for the night and the waiter recommended super large juicy oysters ($9 each). Erm, a touch expense? But I don't think anyone was thinking about that. Hence, we ordered an oyster each.

These oysters were very large and plump. Served with vermicelli, shallot and XO sauce - it was slightly not saucy enough. A bit more XO probably would have made it much yummy - not that it was bad... just not excellent.

XO oysters

I wanted a deep-fried taro duck dish. This was very thinly sliced duck with an inch-thick of mashed taro then deep fried. There was a slight lack of salt if you ate it by itself - but if you added the sauce, it bought along a bit more taste and zing~ What I liked about it is the smooth taro bits. Most people, I imagine, would probably prefer the crunchy deep fried substance which encases the taro and duck.

taro duck

My mum ordered a vegetarian dish comprised of bamboo shoot, mushrooms, black funghi and broccoli. Ummm... lots of veges with clear oyster sauce based sauce? :P

mixed veges

We ordered a live fish... not sure of the english name for it... but they overdid this one. It was oversteamed and the fish skin was broken. Even though it appeared much over-steamed, the meat was still tasty and fresh and subtly sweet. It was very easy to eat such that the six of us gobbled up the >1kg fish in no time.

steamed fish

A combination tofu hot pot was ordered. The seafood variety was pretty good. I liked the scallops particularly. But overall, the tofu hot pot was averagely good.

combination tofu hot pot

My mum wanted a seafood nest. This was a thin rice noodle deep-fried into a nest shape then filled with seafood and beans. The seafood here was really quite good. The squid was tender, the scallop was sweet and the prawns were crunchy - even if all were once a frozen variety. Yum nonetheless. My parents said that the "nest" itself lacked a bit of flavour - but really, deep-fried rice noodles... it's like deep-frying rice, there's not supposed to be flavour in that...right?

seafood nest

Complementary dessert was "lo mai chi" and deep fried sweet red bean pastry. The lo mai chi was stuffed with sweet taro paste and coated with desiccated coconut. This was quite nice. The deep fried red-bean pastry was very very sweet... a bit over the top sweet? It was deep-fried very well though. Not too burnt - it was golden brown.

lo mai chi with taro filling

deep fried sweet red bean pastry

Not too much to complain about. My partner's parents said that the dishes seemed to lack a bit of taste (not salty enough), but I thought everything was nicely subtly flavoured. The service was good - not sure if it was because they were aware of our intentions or if they are normally this good. I guess we will only find out if we return to the restaurant after the big day. As for the ambiance... there just so happened to be a small wedding occuring at the time we dined. Made for heaps of noise and a bit of ruckus.

Food - 8/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29.5/40

Rhodes Phoenix
Level 5, Rhodes Shopping Centre
1 Rider Boulevard
NSW 2138
Tel: (02) 9739 6628

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blancmange - Petersham


Work is horribleness >.< Saving is over-rated. Let's just use the money we earn on yummy food. That was my train on thought anyway, after a hecticly hectic week at work. Hence, I convinced my partner to go out to eat with me. Last minute booking got us to Blancmange, a nice cozy little restaurant in Petersham. Being seated next to the window of the small restaurant overlooking a park (in the dark), it provided for a tranquil dinner. Service was good at the beginning, but after a while (around 7 - 7.30 ish) being seated with your back to the restaurant means - limited service. LOL

We got freshly baked sourdough bread when we got seated. There were three pieces but my partner beat me to the bread. The crust wasn't super crunchy and crispy but the middle bits was really soft and fresh and tasty.

sourdough bread

At Blancmange, you can order a 3 course meal for $55 but my partner decided that it's too much food for us. As such, we opted to share an entree - the twice baked caramelised onion and gruyere souffle ($18). This was a sweet, cheesy, soft, super tasty and yummy souffle served with a witlof salad with walnuts, currents, blue cheese, semi-dried tomatoes and mustard vinaigrette. There was a super herby tasty triangular wafer in the middle. This whole dish is deliciousness! Delicately matching sweetness, savouriness, bitterness and sourness. All well balanced. YUM.

twice baked caramelised onion and gruyere souffle with witlof salad - $18

For the mains, I couldn't decide on what I wanted and my partner couldn't decided from two dishes. Hence, we ordered the two he had wanted. One was the roasted fillet of angus beef ($36). This was cooked medium rare - almost to perfection. Tender, tasty, succulent angus beef. Mmmm.... this was served with super creamy super smooth potato puree and a bourguignonne garnish of caramelised onions, mushrooms and pancetta lardons (i.e. bacon bits). This onion mushroom bacon mix was sooooooooo full of flavour. The mushroom, especially, soaked up all the juices and was just an explosion of taste. Wow. This dish was awesomely deliciousness.

roasted fillet of angus beef - $36

But wait - there's more. The other main we ordered was the pan roasted salmon ($30). So the skin isn't as crispy as I would like it to be but the fish was simply cooked just right. Not just pink on the outside and darker pink on the inside, the fillet was smooth, soft and tender. Almost melting-in-mouth type. The salmon was sitting on top of grilled green and white asparagus, and a bed of crushed kipfler potatoes, confit tomatoes and caperberries and gerkins mix. It was tasty and delicious :)

pan roasted salmon - $30

For dessert, I was dying to try the dark chocolate fondant ($16). This was served with a macadamia and chocolate crisp and vanilla icecream. The fondant was goey and flowing with warm soft chocolate cakey mixture. Not too sweet and not bland. Complemented with the icecream perfectly and who can resist chocolate with macadamia nuts on it??? I loved every bite of this desset. It was heavenly awesomeness :P

dark chocolate fondant, macadamia and chocolate crisp, vanilla icecream - $16

My partner didn't want dessert. He opted for coffee instead. A "tall" black instead of a long black by mistake LOL. It came with a sponge cake with jam and desiccated coconut. Nothing too special here.

long black with sponge cake

Overall, it was a lovely dining experience. The restaurant does get a little bit loud and echoey because of the smallness of it. But it was very much cosy and comfy. The food was comforting and delicious - did well to combat my work-blues and crashing into the garage. I would definately not mind dinning here again :)

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

1 Station St
NSW 2049
Tel: (02) 9568 4644

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

El Jannah (2) - Granville

Mmmm.... Chicken.... and lots of it!

My partner and a couple of friends had wanted to eat charcoal chicken from no other place other than El Jannah in Granville. This has now become a very frequented joint for my partner and I - and no matter how much chicken he eats, my partner does not seem to get sick of this place.

However, this lunch - we ordered TWO chickens between the 4 of us. To me, this seriously, just looked like a mountain of chicken. Hecticness.

The chicken was awesome as always. Charcoally burnt skin, juicy succulent meat. But most importantly - super super super awesomeness garlic sauce!!!

TWO whole chickens

Personally, I don't think that Charcoal chicken will be the same without garlic sauce. It's soooo super garlicy flavoured, smooth, creamy and no-doubt fattening. But so so so good and irresistable.

garlic sauce

The pickles were as normal. To me, the pink ones always taste stronger than the green ones. But when eaten with the chicken and the garlic sauce, it's always quite awesome~


No meal at El Jannah would be complete (for me) without these almost perfectly cooked chips. Crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffly on the inside and lightly dusted with chicken salt, it is seriously awesomely deliciousness when dipped in a good amount of garlic sauce.


So overall, El Jannah is awesome. Chicken is good, chips are more than good, and the garlic sauce is super super super good. But is it good enough for us to visit this place once to twice each week? My partner would say so.

Food - 9/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 30/40

El Jannah
4-6 South Street
NSW 2142
tel: (02) 9637 0977

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Excellent Chinese Restaurant - Carlingford

It was after church one Sunday - and I had a craving for siu mai (pork and prawn dim sims). It was 2pm and my hopes of going yum cha were expecting dissappointment - that is, until we rock up to Excellent Chinese Restaurant in Carlingford and find a line of awaiting patrons. A line at 2pm??? seriously?

We wait nonetheless and were seated not before too long. First thing I flagged down was the har gau (prawn dumplings). The skin of these dumplings were slightly broken - evidence of slight over steaming - but the prawn filling was yummy, tasty and elasticy texture (of freshness) inside. Not bad for a hungry stomach.

har gao

The dish my partner flagged down was the lo mai gai (lotus leaf rice with chicken and pork mince and chinese sausage). This was a good and bad choice. Good choice in that the thing was hot, the rice was cooked pretty perfectly and the portion of filling/rice/sauce was almost perfect. Bad in that it was sooooo filling that we pretty much couldn't eat anything else afterwards LOL.

lo mai gai

Hence, our last order for the day was what we initially came to yum cha for... the siu mai. YUM. Super super tasty and yummy (maybe because I just like all siu mai - especially freshly steamed ones) and I would sooooo go for 2nds and 3rds but my stomach was protesting in lotus leaf rice fullness :P

siu mai

All up, food here is good. Service and ambiance? it's a Chinese restaurant - you get what you think you get.

Food - 8/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 27.5/40

Excellent Chinese Restaurant
Carlingford Rd (cnr Carlingford Rd & Rembrandt St)
NSW 2118
tel: (02) 9873 6113

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cibo e Vino - Castle Hill

Cibo e Vino

It was a rainy Saturday night some few weeks ago. I was in a rush to go to a meeting - but hey, still need food right?

As such, we decided to try for a quick meal at Cibo e Vino. Now for all those looking for a quick bite - let me advise you now. Cibo e Vino is probably a restaurant where you need to be relaxed, carefree, time-ful.

As an entree to share, my partner and I opted for the 1/2 kg of mussels ($15). This was a plateful of mussels infused in white wine, tomato, herbs. There was a oil-brushed slice of crunchy crispy bruschetta on top, for us to soak in the beautifully herby and tomatoey broth that the mussels are cooked in. It was quite wonderfully fragrant~

1/2 kg of mussels - $15

As for the mains (which took over half an hour to come) my partner ordered a lamb rump ($30) whereas I ordered the duck ($30).

My partner went nom nom nom on the lamb. He said that it was quite tasty and liked it much. The lamb was char-grilled and sat on top of a white bean puree. Olive and roasted capsicum bits were scattered on top.

Char-grilled lamb rump - $30

My duck was char-grilled - crispy skinned with succulent, juicy meat (or duck fat). There was a heap of pomegranate in the midst of it all... slightly a bit too much though. However, the celeriac and chestnut puree and the roast garlic bits (which were really soft and fragrant) seemed to compliment the duck really well. The spinach just seemed to make the whole dish slightly healthier after I chomp down a mouthful of duck-fat LOL :)

Char-grilled duck - $30

Last but not least, how could we not order the shoe string fries ($9)? Not just any shoe string fries - but fries tossed with herbs, chilli, parmesan and garlic. These are sooooo full of flavour it's pretty amazing. Hard to describe - sooo much garlic bits and soooo soooo interestingly yum.

Shoe string fries - $9

Dessert time? Unfortunately not. I am now officially late for my meeting >.<
but it was kind of slightly worth it.... ish? Pretty decent meal. We managed to leave paying just $65 - tips included (with the help of the entertainment book but).

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

Cibo e Vino
Shop 2, 299-301 Old Northern Road
Castle Hill
NSW 2154
Tel: (02) 8002 0912