Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sushi Roll - Top Ryde

I had salmon and avocado sushi craving and we had to collect my hubby's dry cleaning... hence, we were made to find a sushi place within Top Ryde. Sushi Roll at the outdoor piazza 'La Strada' was picked.

Sushi train or a-la-carte, both available. We opted for sushi train this time. My first pick? Salmon and avocado roll! :) Others included tuna salad and avocado roll, scallop sushi, crab salad and avocado sushi, seaweed ship, and salmon and avocado hand roll. The sushi bits on the train were nice. But I prefer the sushi bits we made-to-order (ie. pick something on the menu which you can't find on the train) - as they were more fresh :) I LOVED the scallop... so sweet and tasty. The seaweed salad was also heaped super high and yum. Mmmm...

All up? The sushi's not bad. Everything is tasty. Not the super freshest of sushis but good enough to satisfy my cravings :)

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

Sushi Roll
Top Ryde Shopping Centre
Shop 3042 Ground floor
Blaxland Rd (Cnr Devlin St)
Top Ryde
NSW 2112
Tel: (02) 9808 6986

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thanh Mai - Canley Heights

For dinner one night, our church friends decided to all venture out to our english pastor's "hood" - Canley Vale. Being Vietnamese, our pastor took care of all the ordering. Some of us had drinks - avocado shakes, durian shakes, custard apple shakes, and my awesome iced coffee. I only tried the avocado shake (and none of the others). It was creamy and sweet, apparently comprised of loads of avocado, ice and condensed milk. My iced coffee was strong and sweet - just the way I like it :)

avocado shake
iced coffee

Foodwise, we had to try some traditional Viet cuisine. There was the sour fish hot pot. This was really really yummy. Fresh live fish (tasted like Perch or Silver Bream) which was to be immersed in a sour soup made from pineapple, tamarind and tomato. The water spinach, bean sprouts and okra were thrown in with the mix. All up, the fish was super super yummily fresh - you take it out after it's done and dunk it into fish sauce to eat. The soup was an interesting mix of sweet, savoury and sour. The Viet way is to have the soup with your rice. I think I'm too honky for this... I like my soup by itself. The soup was strong, but in quite a nice way :)

sour fish hot pot

Another Viet traditional dish was the caramelised fish hot pot. Again, super fresh fish was chopped up and cooked in a bubbling caramelised sauce which was sweet sweet sweet. You can see the flame surrounding the pot... you let it sizzle until the flame goes and then the caramelisation just fills your whole mouth! A must have sauce!!! (and fish!!!) Deliciousness!

caramelised fish in clay pot

The other dishes, though under the guise of "Viet food" are pretty much found in your normal Asian repertoire. There was the salt and pepper squid which was crunchy and golden and chewy and tasty and everything! The garlicy chilli deep fried lemony seasoning made the dish very much appetising.

salt and pepper squid

There was also pork chops which was coated in some sweet marinade which was tender and tasty enough.

pork chops

We also had a plate of lemon grass chicken. The chicken was kind of dry but immersed in epic flavour. The meat was so chewy that our pastor questioned whether or not it was crocodile meat. It tasted like chicken though... but then again, crocodile probably tastes like chicken too LOL.

lemon grass chicken

The seafood tofu hotpot was average. A good mix of calamari, fish, prawn, mushrooms and veges. Twas average.

seafood hot pot

All up - the two fish dishes (the sour soup and caramelised fish) were definitely the winners. YUM!

Food - 8/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 28.5/40

Thanh Mai
252 Canley Vale Road
Canley Heights
NSW 2166
Tel: (02) 9726 6883

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Danks Street Depot (2) - Waterloo

Brunch at Danks Street at 10am.

10am!?!?!?!?! Who organises something on Sat morning at 10? Not only that, why are the streets packed and the cafe overly populated at such an early hour? Well... it was my high school friends. And I like my high school friends. As such, early early on Sat morning, I dragged my hubby out of bed and headed for Waterloo.

The perfect anecdote for an early morning wake is a huge bowl of coffee. A HUGE bowl of super yummy creamy tasty nicely balanced mocha the size of my face. YUM :)

Bowl of Mocha

One of my friends was a vegetarian. As such, he opted for the tomato and avocado on toast. It came out first and I was a little surprised by it's portion size. The plate was big enough. But there's just a slice of toasted bread with some chunky tomato and avocado bits and scarce amounts of feta.

tomato and avocado on toast

Another friend opted for the broccoli and scramble on toast. Again, big plate, not much food. Looking slightly yellow and overcooked broccoli came with not much scramble unfortunately.

broccoli and scrambled egg on toast

Sardines and tomato on toast was colourful enough. I think it tasted alright coz there were not much complaints from my friend (except for maybe the portion size).

Sardines and tomato on toast

I ordered the creamed truffle eggs with grilled tomato and mushroom with a slice of bread. The eggs were awesomely creamy and tasty but I still remember that back in the days when I first came to Danks Street my creamed eggs filled the ENTIRE plate. And I mean - the ENTIRE plate. Those were the awesome days that I miss muchly >.<

truffled creamed eggs

One of my other friends went for the smoked salmon omelet. It was actually relatively decently portioned, the smoked salmon looked fresh and tasty.

smoked salmon omelet

My hubby went for the chicken sandwich. I think this looked the best out of all the meals. Awesomely toasted chicken salad with corn and rocket. YUMness! :)

Toasted chicken sandwich

All up, the food here is still tasty. The portion size, however, it horribleness! Inflation!!! I miss the good ole days.

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

Danks Street Depot
1/1/2 Danks St
NSW 2017
Tel: (02) 9698 2201

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sushi Bar Rashai (2) - Annandale

My mum wanted to eat Japanese one night. Hence, my hubby and I took our parents to Sushi Bar Rashai. My mum likes sushi and sashimi and my dad is a huge fan of eel. So a dinner with both these elements would suit us just fine.

We ordered a party sushi and sashimi platter for 2. This had a good variety of salmon (natural and lightly seared), tuna, king fish and another variety of white fish. All were in cut to perfect thickness. All were nice and firm and fresh and tasty. Super YUM. The sushi pieces, however, were pretty normal ish. Nothing too special.

party sushi and sashimi platter

Before ordering, my mummy eyed the vege tempura which landed on a neighbouring table. Hence - it became something on our order. Lightly tempura battered bit of veges (including beans, lettuce, carrot, sweet potato, onion), nicely deep fried and awesomely crunchy :)

Vegetable tempura

I wanted to try their Sapporo hotpot which was on their specials menu. The soy-milk based hot pot with seafood (prawns, scallop, fish), enoki mushrooms, and asian veges were super yum. Slightly overly tasty... but yum nonetheless. OK - it might be my bias in that I love all ingredients in it :P

Sapporo hot pot

My daddy's favourite- the Unadon - came on a large dish. Unfortunately, it was slightly luke-warm and not quite hot enough... and the eel was slightly not saucy or tasty enough... but, it was just there to quench my daddy's cravings.


Service here is friendly. Food here is tasty... not the best jap food I've had, but not bad either.

Food - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Service - 6/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 27/40

Sushi Bar Rashai
241 Parramatta Road
NSW 2038
Tel: (02) 9560 3007

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Colebee Centre - Doonside

One of my friend's weddings was in the dead of winter. The ceremony and reception took place at the Colebee Centre which was in Doonside - out west... out in the open... late afternoon... making it even colder. Hence, being inside with food was warmly welcomed.

For starters, the classic bread roll with butter. Nothing too special.

bread roll

In terms of entrees, there was alternate beef and cannelloni dishes placed. I was lucky enough to get the sliced roast beef. The beef was sandwiched between toasted ciabatta, rocket, cherry tomatoes and drizzled with olive tapenade. This was OK ish. The beef was tender enough and the rocket was fresh... not a fan of the cherry tomatoes. The reason why I said lucky I got the beef was because the the cannelloni pasta was filled with roasted pumpkin (which I don't eat), fetta (which I don't like), ricotta (which I'm not a huge fan of) and thyme... all drenched in rich bechamel sauce. Yeh... rich, creamy but not really my type of dish.

sliced roast beef, rocket, cherry tomatoes and olive tapenade

roasted pumpkin, fetta, ricotta and thyme filled cannelloni

One of the mains was very similar to the entree. In fact, I think that they used the same beef in the entree as with the main. The beef escalopes were served with a pink peppercorn and brandy cream sauce with potatoes, carrots and zucchini. That was my partner's dish. Mine was a huge chunk of pork with apple compote and light gravy. This was served with mash and veges. Again... dishes were OK ish...

beef escalopes in a pink peppercorn and brandy cream sauce

pork with apple compote and light gravy, mash and veges

Dessert was probably my favourite of the night. My partner received the sticky date pudding with hot butterscotch sauce whilst I got the chocolate gelato truffle ball with a creamy centre which was rolled in dutch cocoa. I loved my dessert. Sweet finish. The gelato was awesome. Chocolatey enough. YUM :)

sticky date pudding with hot butterscotch sauce

chocolate gelato truffle ball with a creamy centre rolled in dutch cocoa

Guess that at weddings, it's not about the food but about how awesome the bride and groom were. And they were definitely awesomeness :)

Food - 6.5/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - ?/10
Overall - 19.5 + ?/40

Colebee Centre
Nurrangngy Reserve
Knox Road
NSW 2767
Tel: (02) 9831 5265

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

zenja (2) - North Strathfield

We were on our way to brunch in Eastwood or Burwood when we decided we were too hungry and wanted food RIGHT NOW. Hence, the car suddenly stopped on our road where Zenja was conveniently located. Our last experience at Zenja left me with mixed feelings - awesome food, crappy service. Nonetheless, we took the risk.

Contrary to our last experience, we were whisked away and seated immediately, the menu was provided shortly and our order was taken promptly.

Everything came out in a timely fashion and the service was friendly and attentive!!! So the lesson to be learnt here? Only visit Zenja when the crowds haven't appeared yet.

My hubby ordered a "flu fighter" ($5.50) which was a mixture of pineapple, orange and apple juice with a hint of ginger. Sounded healthy enough and tasted primarily of pineapple juice with subtle ginger. I ordered my usual - skim mocha ($3.50) and was pleasantly surprised at how smooth and creamy it was. It was just strong enough in coffee and chocolate flavour, well balanced and at perfect temperature. It was as good as Melbourne coffee!!! Well, I thought so anyway :)

flu fighter - $5.50
mocha - $3.50

Foodwise, my hubby opted for the french toast ($11.50). This was two thick-cut slices of bread immersed in egg mixture, served with maple syrup, crispy bacon and grilled tomato. I'm used to eating french toast asian style, which has peanut butter dripping in the middle of the two bread slices, but I guess this style is slightly healthier.

french toast - $11.50

I remembered how awesome my eggs benedict was last time ($13) and hence, went for it again. It came with THREE huge eggs poached to perfection, a good heap of smoked salmon, a small serving of baby spinach and nicely toasted turkish bread all with a decent portion of hollandaise sauce on top. It was a winner! So deliciousness. But I have to say, 3 eggs is slightly overkill. I tried to palm an egg off to the hubby but he wouldn't take it.

Eggs benedict - $13

We had an almost perfect Zenja experience this time... until we went to pay. The bill came to $29.40 (as we had an entertainment book voucher). We gave $50 and got $20 change. Sure, we were going to tip - but I would like that to be a choice. I want to get my change then choose to leave it for them. Shouldn't that be the way it's done in Australia?

Food - 9/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 31.5/40

5 George St
North Strathfield
NSW 2137
tel: (02) 9746 9334

Friday, August 12, 2011

Inside Out Restaurant and Bar - Parramatta

My friend and I met up at Inside Out Restaurant in Parramatta for a catchup - chosen by a process of elimination and surprised to find it's relatively nice cozy atmosphere.

Drinks for starters - my friend ordered this fig cocktail. I don't remember exactly what was in it... only remember fig, frangelico and me saying to my friend "that sounds like it might be super sweet" and my friend saying "it's OK. I like fig". As it turns out, you should always listen to the female race because we are always right LOL. The drink was soooooo super sickening sweet. So epic that every sip made my friend cringe and become shocked by how sweet it was all over again.
fig cocktail

Food-wise, my friend opted for the pan seared duck breast ($36). Slices of duck was served on a fluffy bed of sweet potato mash and topped with a small bunch of wilted spinach. The fig made an appearance once again in the sauce - a fig and port reduction. Overall, it made for a sweetly sauced succulent duck breast which was nice tasting... not super awesome though.

Pan seared duck breast - $36

I went for steak ($39). A nice 300g slab of grain fed sirloin on a heap of creamy mash potato and plentiful soft shell crab on top, all smothered in a bernaise sauce and red wine jus. I wanted medium rare - came up more medium. It was tasty enough. The soft shell crab could have been nicer if it had a bit more crunch... but overall, it was OK :)

sirloin with creamy mash potato and soft shell crab - $39

For dessert, we decided to share a creme brulee ($12). This was probably the best dish of the night - a definite winner. Yummy glazed over sugar toffee which was super awesome when combined with smooth creamy cold custody concoction. This was served with a relatively sweet raspberry sorbet and a not so awesome almond biscotti. I would have been happy with the brulee with nothing else accompanying it :)

Vanilla bean creme brulee - $12

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

Inside Out Restaurant & Bar
99 Phillip Street
NSW 2150
Tel: (02) 8837 7300

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ocean Room - The Rocks

Since our honeymoon, "life" had just gotten in the way of my awesome hubby and I from sitting down to an intimate nice dinner together until now with the chosen venue of Ocean Room.

Ocean Room

It was a relatively tough decision between their degustation or a-la-carte menu. At the end of the night, a-la-carte won. Tapaz-style dishes we opted for as starters included the soft shell crab taco ($6 each), tuna cornet ($5) and the aburi scallop ($5 each).

The soft shell crab taco was really yummy. The taco shells were thin and super crispy. It kinda crumbled a the bite - but in a good sort of way. The soft shell crabs were quite strongly spiced and deep fried just right. This sat on top of lightly pickled vegetables which made for a good balance - the unhealthy crab and the healthy salad. YUM!

soft shell crab taco - $6 each

The tuna cornet comprised of very paper thinly curled nori rice cracker cornet. In this crisp cornet was finely diced marinated blue fin tuna tartare. I have to say - this was tiny! One bite could probably do for this cornet. It was an interesting combination. Not overly tasty but ... meh~ not bad either.

tuna cornet - $5

The aburi scallop was another interesting combination. Yummy flame seared scallop encasing a good dollop of Japanese pesto and a heap of Tasmanian wakame. Not 100% convinced that the wakame and pesto went together and not sure if the scallop went together with the two condiments.

Aburi Scallop - $5 each

We couldn't got to Ocean Room without trying their signature dish - the Tuna Creation ($23). This was 5 tuna cubes prepared in 5 ways with 5 condiments. The leftest cube of tuna was oil blanched with bits of fresh ginger and corriander on top. This was served with chilli salt. Together, it was average. The next one down the line was a natural raw cube of tuna served with light soy salt and a tiny bit of wasabi and lemon zest on top. I liked the light soy salt and I think this combination went well. The middle one was also served with soy salt, but this time, the salt was 3 years aged. The tuna cube was seared and sprinkled with five peppers and salmon roe. I believe this one was yum too~! The fourth cube down the line was raw tuna with black salt, and jalapeno and yuzu zest on top. The black salt was scarce but strong. You probably only needed 1 or 2 flakes to accompany the tuna otherwise the fish would be overpowered. Last but not least, the marinated tuna with truffle salt. Fried garlic and fresh chilli was sprinkled on top. I think that this was the strongest in flavour and quite tasty.

tuna creation - $23

We also ordered a scallop melt roll ($17). This was a cucumber, pickle, salmon sushi roll with seared scallop on top, flame seared cheddar cheese, garlic miso on the cheese and either bonito flakes or caviar on top of that. I love scallop. I love sushi. I love cheese. However, when all put together, it was the cheese that sunk the boat. Not sure if cheddar cheese should be on sushi.

scallop melt roll - $17

Now onto the mains. I ordered the tuna fin ($39). Only one word can describe this - EPIC. When I ordered it, I was thinking of the fins of a normal sized fish. But I was wrong. Very very wrong. When this dish came out, my hubby was thinking that this was a whole sword fish and thought to himself ("That can't be ours~"). BUT... it was. This was HUGEMUNGOUSNESS!!!! It was like 40-50cm in bigness! It came with a tuna wing "map" which detailed 3 bits to it, all different in taste and texture. The far part of it was the back loin - which is part of a muscle that supports the head of the tuna. This part tends to be very lean and the flavour is quite intense and strong. The inner middle part is the fin muscle. And this part is one of the most active muscles of the whole fish - it's darker looking (almost brown ish) and tastes quite different to any other part of the tuna. My favourite is the bit closest to us - the neck belly. This part is fatty and smooth and rich and tasty and deliciousness. YUM. It also can be considered "otoro". This massive yellow fin tuna wing came accompanied with a crushed cucumber ponzu dipping sauce which I didn't have to use much of coz the slow roastedness of the tuna was flavoursome enough :)

tuna wing - $39

My partner's main was tiny compared to my tuna wing. His Shiogama pork belly "cout de sel"($37) came with a dash of spicy kochujang sauce and a small salad. The pork belly was tender and rich and tasty. Not bad but I think our attention was captured by the massive tuna wing.

shiogama pork - $37

For a sweet finish, I ordered the chocolate tasting plate ($17). This comprised of 3 small cakes. The opera cake on the left with creamy yummy chocolate and espresso layers, a white and dark chocolate parcel (with sponge and mousse bits encased inside the chocolate coating), and a chocolate mud cake which was rich and moist and doused in delicious chocolate ganache. Not a bad finish to the night at all!

chocolate tasting plate - $17

All up, this place is pretty impressive. Views of the Opera House, which hanging tubes of brass (or whatever metal it is), a good variety on the menu, and OK service. Only bad thing was, they never returned with our change. Either they thought that $16 is definitely going to be tip or they just genuinely forgot - not quite sure. But as a patron, I prefer to see the change returned and if I so choose to tip them the whole lot of the change, I would let them know by leaving it on the table.

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

Ocean Room
Bay 4 - Ground Level
Overseas Passenger Terminal
Circular Quay West
The Rocks
NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9252 9585