Friday, January 28, 2011

Wagaya (3)- Haymarket

My partner and I had just finished watching a movie and he made the fatal mistake of asking me what I wanted to eat. "Jap food" I replied.

I swear I wasn't deliberately trying to be difficult, but at 9 something at night, a Jap restaurant is slightly hard to find (well, an open one atleast). That is, until my partner remembered that Wagaya was open til 12midnight. Hence, there we headed.

We decided to order a salad. My partner chose the mentai potato salad ($7.20) which is essentially a big salad with a pile of cold mashed potato mixed with roe. It was quite tasty. Not too heavy but a good mix of greens and starchy substance.

mentai potato salad - $7.20

I really wanted sushi and so picked the rainbow roll ($10.30). It's smaller than most rainbow rolls. Less filling. But yummy all the same. (Maybe it just satisfied my sushi craving).

Rainbow roll - $10.30

Next up, my partner put on the order the oyster and mentaiko gratin ($14.60). Four oysters topped with roe and cheese and more cheese. Oyster and cheese, what can go wrong with that? :)

Oyster and mentaiko gratin - $14.60

Last but not least, to satisfy my partner's need for chargrilled/deep fried food, he chose the assorted yakitori ($12.50). Prawn, salmon, chicken and beef tongue. The beef tongue was nice and chewy and the salmon was tasty. The other two were very average though.

assorted yakitori - $12.50

It wasn't the best Jap food we've had. Nor the best service. But it was what's open at that time of the night when I wanted Jap food.

Food - 7/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 6.5/10
Ratings - 27/40

Level 1, 78-86 Harbour St
NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9212 6068

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Honda Ya - Taipei

This was actually our first meal in Taipei. On Christmas night when we arrived in the city, our friend took us to this Jap restaurant. Only problem is, I was sleep deprived, the menu was in Chinese or Japanese, and my ability to decipher Chinese in a sleep deprived state was minimal.

Hence, we opted for the next best option - a set menu. There were set menus of different prices. I think we opted for one that was around AU$50 ish? This is what we got.

Super fresh sashimi small prawns with wakame on the side. These tiny sashimi prawns were super subtly sweet. It was that fresh sweetness. The sweetness kind of lingers on in your mouth. Could have more than just this little plate of this.

sashimi little school prawns

The next was tiny little fishy sashimis. Lots of little fishy - eyes and bones and all. All see through and in this brothy sauce thing. This was not as appetising nor as sweet as the prawns. I don't know if it was partly psychological - but eating it eyes and all RAW... hmm... not too sure about it.

raw fishi

Next was sashimi. Squid, snapper, kingfish and errmm... something in the bowl. I don't remember anymore. What I do remember, however, was that the sashimi was definately decent and fresh and sweet and yum.


Next was a surprising dish. Barbequed HUGE scallop in a sweet sauce sitting atop super super crunchily fresh seaweed. It was like, awesome! Scallop and seaweed definately go together. I would have liked my scallop just a few seconds rawer, but really, it was quite good already.

Scallop and seaweed

Next came an oyster. Apparently oysters are slightly expensive in Taipei - hence we get one. A big one though. In a vinegaretty sauce. Again, the main ingredient was freshness~


After all the raw stuff came some deep-fried goodness. Tempura fish, deep-fried wonton and deep-fried asparaguses. It was all kinda average. Nothing spectacularly good or bad about it.


The chiwanmushi (steamed egg) was quite awesomeness! Smooth. Tasty. Cooked with stock. With seafood bits and shitake mushroom. YUM. I could down a few of these too!


Sushi aburi came next. Lightly flame-grilled on top and lightly salted. The sushi had a good punch to it. Not bad at all.

aburi sushi

After the lightly flame-grilled one came another sashimi one. This sushi was also very yum. Fresh. The rice was a good consistency, good amount of vinegar, and just a good portion.


California rolls came next. California rolls with REAL crab meat (not the imitation ones). Super super fresh and crunch seaweed. My friend thought it was really quite awesome.

california rolls

What came next was a huge bowl of soup. Fish soup with tofu. Mixed shallot, chilli, sweet sauce for dipping the rather big chunks of fish in. I think I was slightly too full by this stage to appreciate it properly.

fish and tofu soup

Miso soup - standard. Not overlly excellent. Not too shabby. I think there was a rice after this as well. I don't actually know what happened to my photos but from memory - there was actually a few more courses after this. (in my sleepy state, maybe I just thought I took photos but didn't really)

miso soup

And last but not least, red bean sweet soup. This is actually really really concentrated red bean sweet soup liquid - such that with each spoonful, you're getting lots of that red bean dissintigrated grain stuff, with whole red beans in it too. Hectic red bean flavour~

red bean soup

We all left the restaurant feeling extremely extremely full. I was extremely full AND extremely tired and although some Christmas festivity (which in Taipei seems to comprise of either being at a bar or club - or both) followed, I was well and truely ready for bed with a super filled stomach :)

Not a bad welcome to Taipei food though.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 32/40

Honda Ya
No. 1, Alley 7, Lane 303, Section 3,
NánJīng East Road,
Songshan District
Taipei City, Taiwan
Tel: 02 2545 8828

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sweeties Paradise - Haymarket

My friends and I have always raved on about how Sydney needs like, proper proper sweet soup places. When "Meet Fresh" opened in Chinatown and there were massive massive lines - I was excited! Yes!!! It's finally happening! But when all of my friends (most whom lined up for AGES) came back with not so good reviews of the food there, I was much less enthusiastic about giving it a go.

Sweeties Paradise

I have to admit though, I was on my way to dragging my partner to "Meet Fresh" until something else caught my eye. Another sweet soup place!!! I think it's newly opened (since Dec last year?) What caught my eye was actually the similarity in the bowls between "Sweeties Paradise" and a popular honky chain "Honeymoon desserts" (滿記甜品). Because of the smilarities on the bowls and spoons that they used, I dragged my partner in and braved an order.

I ordered my usual - Mango Pompelo & Sago Sweet soup (served cold) ($5.50). It came out really thick! OK, so there's not as much mango or pompelo in it as I would have liked, but OMG there's SOOOO much sago in this! I would have been happy with half the amount of sago I received in this. LOL. The coconut mangoey liquid part was very very creamy - not too sweet and not not sweet enough. The pompelo was slightly sparce but the mango (when you were lucky enough to catch a piece) was pretty nice. In all honesty, sweet soup in Sydney is more expensive and not yet as nice as that in HK. But as far as sweet soup goes in Sydney, this is definately probably one of the better ones there are. Not excellent-have-to-go-everyday quality, but definately good-enough-to-return quality.

Mango Pompelo & Sago Sweet Soup - $5.50

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

Sweeties Paradise
Chinatown (Dixon St)
NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9212 3818

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kings Henry Court - Penrith

Kings Henry Court was chosen as the destination for the farewell dinner for a super awesome collegue of mine. With an interesting name, the restaurant, which is located within an old church, has interesting decor on all parts of the wall. Paintings, signs, inspirational quotes and words, everything! There's even a novelty type shop (selling signs and "other" things) and a bar out front. The restaurant part is tucked out the back and almost concealed. In fact, from the moment I walked in, I thought I was at the wrong place.

They have a decently sized a la carte menu as well as two set menus (one at $20 and one at $30 per person). For tonight, we had gone for the $20 menu (available Tues to Friday only).

We had a choice of bread - crostini, cheese and chive or chilli cheese. I opted for the cheese and chive. It wasn't presented nicely or anything. Nothing fancy - it was more 'homey'. The turkish bread was soft and warm. There was visible strings of chive noticable and was cheesy and buttery throughout. It's one of those bread you eat as comfort food, which I liked much :)

cheese and chive bread

In terms of mains for the $20 menu, there was a choice of spaghetti, pie, fish and chips, chicken snitzel, or curry and rice. Choosing the chicken snitzel with gravy, I was met with a good sized snitzel - not too gigantic, not too small, decent gravy and a heap of mash. YUM. Unfortunately, the chicken was actually really quite thin and the batter was thick in comparison. The mash was heavenly smooth at first, but once it was cold, it lumpified. But all up, it wasn't bad. I also eyed my colleagues fish and chips - it was a massive piece of fish, stacks of chips and a pile of salad. Pretty decent value I think.

Chicken Snitzel with mash

Now for dessert. There was a choice of orange and poppy seed cake, banana cake and chocolate brownie. Being a chocoholic, there was no doubt that I was going to choose the brownie. It was a little harder than expected, but it was still moist and sweet and chocolatey with (rather big) lumps of walnut inside. I love (almost) all things chocolate and hence, had no trouble polishing this off.

chocolate brownie

So all up, food was decent. Sure, it's not the most well presented, nor the most extravagently exotic flavours. It was casual. Home-style. Comfort-type food. One of my colleagues expressed how awesome the food was the whole night~ And $20 for a 3 course meal? I have to say WOW. I should dine in Penrith more often!

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

King Henry's Court
74 Henry Street
NSW 2750
Tel: (02) 4721 1155

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Crinitis - Parramatta

Decisions decisions decisions.
Life is full of decisions.
I hate making decisions.
So when faced with a menu which opens up to be as big as your table and full of words, I was a little taken back. What to eat?!?!? What a hard decision.

My friend and I decided to dine at Crinitis. As it was a Thursday night, the place was quite busy and service was... well... yeh.

Decisions on what to order was definately difficult. But after much deliberation, we decided to order 2 mains to share - the Spiedini di pollo ($36.90) and the 500g pork ribs ($28.90). My friend also decided on a cocktail - the buckle me ($22.90) whereas I, having to work at 8am the next day, decided it's best to be able to drive home and wake up the next day.

So my friend's buckle me cocktail. The name says it all. Tasted peachy yet strong - very quite strong. It comprised of peach snapps, vodka, barcardi, tequila, cointreau, peach ice tea, apricot nectar and lemonade. One sip - it was nice. More than one? Buckle me.

buckle me - $22.90

The food took a little while to come out. The place was a little bit noisy. Hence, it was a little bit hard to talk. Yet, when the food did come out, it was pretty amazingly huge~ The 500g pork ribs were gigantic! Covered in homemade BBQ sauce and grilled to perfection. What more, it came with yummy chips :) Awesome~ (I did have a ribs craving though).

500g pork ribs - $28.90

The ribs came with a choice of salad, chips, potato or veges. As evident, we had opted for chips and veges. The chargrilled veges were actually pretty good. The zucchini was really sweet as was the capsicum.The potatoes were soft and fluffy too.

chargrilled veges

The Spiedini di pollo was 2 super long skewers of chargrilled chicken. The chicken was yummily garlicy, herby and lemony. The meat was a little bit dry and heavy, but tasted much nicer when heaped with garlic aoili :) The chips were good. Salad was normal.

Spiedini di pollo - $36.90

The servings were undeniably gigantic. By the end, we were both clutching our stomachs in fullness. Dessert menu? Unfortunately not this time.

Food - 8/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 28.5/40

291 Church Street
NSW 2150
Tel: 1300 274 648

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Doo Ri (2) - Strathfield

Another quick bit in amongst a chain of house hunting efforts took us back to Doo Ri in Strathfield. They offer a decent lunch menu for a mere $10 and when you add the almost limitless supply of side dishes, it makes it almost a bargain :)

So their side dish range isn't as impressive-looking as some other Korean restaurants, my partner simply adores the eggplant mushroom mix (middle top plate).

side dishes

In terms of actual lunch meals, my partner ordered his usual beef rib stew. I have to say, he was nice enough to let me steal this off him half way through because I found my choice too spicy. The stew was fragrant, the beef ribs were strongly beef flavoured yet slightly tough to chew off, and the glass potato noodles and soggy veges were just to my liking.

beef rib stew - $10

My choice was the beef japchae ($12). It was spicy. The first spicy japchae I've had. Why!?!?!?!? If I didn't have a sore throat, it would have been alright. But with my sore throat, my partner had to polish it off.

Japchae - $12

All up, with Korean-style "push a button" for service, service was not lacking. The food was decent and we were both completely stuffed. Lucky I managed to convince my partner out of ordering another plate of gyoza :P

Food - 7.5/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29/40

Doo Ri
20-34 Albert Road
NSW 2135
Tel: (02) 9746 7111

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jonahs - Whale Beach

Looking for food with a view?
This is it.


For my birthday dinner, my partner booked us in for dinner at Jonah's. Situated at Whale beach, the restaurant is perched high up in the cliffs but looks down to a simply amazingly clear blue watered, yellow sand beach. Breath-taking!

We were welcomed by friendly waiters who allowed us to chill with cocktails at their terrace overlooking the breath-taking views until we felt like settling in for dinner which was definately a nice touch. And when finally seated, we were again served by a friendly (yet not hassling) waiter.

Canapes and bread were complimentary. For the night, we got foie gras with crispy hammon and heirloom tomato. The hammon was super thinly sliced yet flavoursome through and through. The foie gras, thought just a tiny blob, was distinct and strong. Not a bad start.

foie gras with crispy hammon and heirloom tomato

The damper style bread we were served with was warm and soft yet crispy hard on the outside. More damper-like meant that the bread was quite a bit more dense. I think I prefer normal white bread :)

warm damper bread

My partner and I decided to share two entrees. The first was an angel hair pasta with Queensland spanner crab and tossed with lemon zest, garlic, chilli flakes and parmigiano reggiano ($28). We had overheard the next table rave on about how awesome this pasta was. And it was good. Subtle. But it wasn't the most excellent pasta I've ever had.

Queensland spanner crab and angel hair pasta - $28

The other entree option picked was the "avocado con frutti di mare" ($30). This comprised of a seared Hervey Bay scallop which was cooked really almost perfectly, a good dallop of burnt avocado mousseline, 2 pre-peeled king prawns, an avocado tomato salmon roe tower and a Sydney Rock oyster with avocado oil. The dish was again fresh and subtle. The avocado mousse went with pretty much everything which was awesome!

"avocado con frutti di mare" - $30

For mains, we ordered two fish dishes. One was grilled yellowfin tuna AND ocean trout AND Hervey Bay scallops ($49). Yes. It was quite hectic and slightly chaotic. The tuna steak was very very dense. A bit too heavy and strong for my liking. This was contrasted by the super soft tender and light ocean trout which I preferred muchly! The scallops were again cooked almost perfectly but I guess when I'm comparing to the giant scallops we got in Taipei, these scallops were definately babies. These two seafood options were served with wilted snowpea leaves, snow peas and baby radish.

grilled yellowfin tuna and ocean trout and Hervey Bay scallops - $49

The other main was the seared John Dory with Blue Swimmer crab meat. This was topped with a baby herb salad which was very much refreshingness but what better, was the melted leek pile with crab meat intermixed which sat on the bottom and was drenched in the buttery sauce. Heavenly! The three sweet pea pikelets surrounding the pile of fish was slightly odd though. Very strong in pea flavour but odd. And the fish was just average ish.

John Dory - $49

I have to say, dissappointingly, our stomachs could fit no more. Though tempted by the thought of dessert, my stomach simply protested. Next time. Maybe.

Food - 7/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 9.5/10
Value for money - 6.5/10
Overall - 31/40

69 Bynya Road,
Whale Beach
NSW 2108
Tel: (02) 9974 5599

Din Tai Fung - Taipei

Din Tai Fung (with DTF baby)

"DTF tonight?" That's what my partner and his friends regularly ask. Din Tai Fung in Sydney is pretty good. My partner heard that DTF in Taipei is even better. So I guess if we were to go to DTF in Taipei, we might as well go to the original store where this giant dumpling chain all started.

Being away from major MRT stations, the original DTF location is slightly hard to find. My friend decided to just cab us there. When we got there, there was quite a crowd. Keep in mind that we were having a super early 5pm dinner, I was amazed that we still needed to take a ticket.

We were able to put our order in before we were seated so the food came pretty efficiently. We had ticked several appetisers. The bean curd black fungi appetiser was yummy - subtly sweet, the flavoursomely oily juices just oozes out of the deep fried bean curd pieces.


There was also a hard tofu, mushroom, fungi, bean sprout, cold noodle mix which was refreshing and easy to eat. Chinese vegetarian-like goodness.


Another appetiser we picked was the fried green pea shoots. I think that green veges does us well in preparing us for the night street food sweep we had planned for later that evening.

fried green pea shoots

Dumplings-wise, we ordered these steamed wontons in chilli oil. The straight translation from the Chinese characters would be "hit hand". These were slippery smooth and extremely tasty. I tried to avoid as much chili oil as I could whereas my partner doused his in chili oil.

chili wontons

We couldn't come to DTF and not order the steamed pork dumplings. These were amazingly good. Small and bite-sized, it was super super thin skinned and filled with hot soup and subtle pork mince. It gave off the illusion of healthiness (but ofcourse we all know otherwise).

mini pork buns

These next four dumplings are truffle pork dumplings (We don't have these in Sydney). This was pretty amazingly truffled flavoured. So the dumpling is as tiny as the normal ones but it was soooooo full of flavour it was mind-blowing. But yes, it is like many times the price of the normal ones, so just one each - treat it like a delicacy and you will appreciate it more.

truffle mini pork buns

Then there was the pork and prawn shao mai. In Sydney, I think you get much less than 10 of these and they are more than the price of the steamed mini pork buns? I didn't like these in Sydney, but here, they taste much better. Soup and pork package with a tiny shrimp on top. Not bad.

pork and prawn shaomai

We also ordered this chilli noodle thing. This wasn't bad. A touch too chili for me when you eat a lot of it. But the noodles were silky soft and smooth, yet elasticy enough so it doesn't break.

Chili noodles

Last but not least, dessert time! We ordered 2 mini sesame buns and 2 mini taro buns. The buns were cute and hot and tasty. I had the taro one and the taro paste inside was just the right consistency, not too sweet and not too plain.

mini sesame and taro buns

All up, Din Tai Fung in Taipei keeps it's standard. I wouldn't say that it's that much better than the Sydney one. It's a little bit better. And the prices are way way way better. The most expensive thing ordered was the truffle mini pork buns (and yes, they were pricey). But still, feeding four of us, the bill came to approx AU$50 ish . Probably should give it a go if you're in town :)

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 29.5/40

Din Tai Fung
194 Xinyi Rd. , Section 2
Taipei , Taiwan
Tel: 886-2-2321-8928

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Orleans Cafe - Crows Nest

New Orleans Cafe

I feel like I hadn't eaten at a cafe in AGES and so when the opportunity to eat a leisurely Sunday cafe lunch, I jumped to it. On this occasion, we landed at New Orleans Cafe in Crows Nest.

Given the name, I was expecting some huge servings of some food or the other - and I was not disappointed. The only slight disappointment was my iced mocha. I requested for no cream (I hate the taste of cream), only to see the drink-making dude squeeze a huge dallop of cream on it, then realise his mistake, then take it all off again. So yes - hence, the bad appearance of my drink. Luckily, it tasted alright.

Iced mocha

Foodwise, my partner decided on the Peri Peri Chicken Po'boy ($20) - which essentially means, a big garlic French baguette sub type thing. In this huge bread sub, there was grilled chicken marinated peri peri style, guacamole, cheese, tomato and lettuce with aioli. The chicken was tender and tasty but not overpowering. The bread was crispy and fresh. It seemed to me like the right combination of everything. Not bad at all.

Peri peri chicken Po'boy - $20

I decided on the Wagyu Beef burger ($16). This was a super super thick patty of organic soft wagyu beef with onions, yummy melted cheese, tomato, lettuce and aioli, again served with fries. The patty was a little burnt on either side but because it was soooo thick, it was really really juicy (and probably really really unhealthy). It was interesting because the burnt bits added extra texture to the soft juiciness of the whole burger. The frieds were also amazingly good. Crisp and crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. It was extremely extremely yum :)

Wagyu beef burger - $16

So all up, New Orleans Cafe gets my tick of approval. It looks like a dirty American diner (and probably is), but as long as you don't look into the kitchen, the food is rather decent. They also had quite a big Sunday crowd which just kept coming and coming.

Food - 8/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 28/40

New Orleans Cafe
6 Willoughby Rd
Crows Nest
NSW 2065
Tel: (02) 9436 2596