Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Congee & Noodle House - Chatswood

We were in Chatswood wondering around looking for a place to eat. Hubby felt like Chinese cafe-type food so that eliminated all the Jap, Korean and dumpling places in the area. At the end, I chose to eat at Congee & Noodle House purely because the decor looked more modern than the BBQ place next door.

Hubby couldn't decide between the seafood fried noodles and the baked portugese chicken rice and so we ordered both. The seafood fried noodles offered a good balance of seafood to vege to noodles ratio. It had the right amount of seasoning on things and the noodles were crispy on the edges and nice and soft in the middle. However, a big down-fall to the dish is the oiliness of it. It was glistening!
Seafood fried noodles
The baked portugese chicken rice came with again, a good propotion of sauce to rice ratio. I think we both expected actual chicken-on-the-bone pieces but fillets were offered in this yellow concoction instead. The sauce was mild yet addictive and a simple egg fried rice was used to buffer the sauce.
baked portugese chicken rice
Throughout our meal, we eyed some waiters taking whole plates of food and whole bowls of congee outside (with dockets). Were they delivering takeaway? or delivering food to next door? Mystery is yet to be solved.

Nonetheless, this is your average honky cafe-style food. Nothing too spectacular, not too bad either.

Food - 7/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 6.5/10
Overall - 26.5/40

Congee & Noodle House
375 Victoria Ave
NSW 2067
Tel: (02)9884 8233

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ribs & Rumps - North Ryde

Hubby and I chose to catch the new Batman movie on the night it was released in Australia. We had also decided to give me a night off from cooking and to grab a bite from somewhere before the movie started. A quick flick through our Entertainment book for places near Top Ryde led us to Ribs & Rumps at North Ryde. I hadn't expected it to be packed out... but it was completely PACKED OUT.

The asthetics of the restaurant, with it's glass, wooden floors, hard walls etc meant that noise just reverberated everywhere. Yes it gives off that 'lively' vibe but it also means that you have to yell at the person next to you. The noise, along with our almost friendly waiter's heavily accented English meant that we generally asked him to repeat anything he said twice or three times - and STILL not understand what he had said.

Hubby and I were starving and greedy to try all the ribs at this place. So, he went for a combo of pork ribs, lamb ribs and a 220g rump steak ($46.95), and I opted for a full rack of beef ribs ($38.95). It was indeed a meaty meal with zilch greens. (we were in a hurry to catch the movie and hence, didn't trust the busy kitchen enough to order more than just mains). The pork ribs were really quite tasty. The coating was smoky and barbequey and the meat was tender enough. Hubby liked his lamb ribs (maybe cos he hadn't had them for ages), and the rump steak was a decent medium rare. Nothing too crazily awesome, but none too bad either.
Lamb ribs, pork ribs and 220g rump combo - $46.95
The beef ribs were meaty and very beefy in flavour. It was again, succulent and tender enough and the sauce coating on top was sticky and barbequey and tasty. I ordered mine with chisp and the chips were actually cooked quite well - crispy golden outside, fluffy innards.
Beef Ribs (full rack) - 38.95
So I guess that the food here is decent. I do recommend that a salad or some greens be ordered if you do come, as after a while, all the meat starts tasting the same and gets a tad boring. It is a crazily "lively" atmosphere so probably not the place for an intimate D&M evening.

Food - 7.5/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 6.5/10
Overall - 26/40

Ribs & Rumps (North Ryde)
11 Talavera Road
North Ryde
NSW 2113
Tel: (02) 9805 1199

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tomislav - Darlinghurst

For hubby's birthday this year, I booked for us to try Tomislav. It was a small, intimate restaurant - dim litted and with an open kitchen. For that Wednesday night, Tomislav was also there to teach a masterclass. We were seated just as the class finished. There were 2 waitresses for the whole restaurant and these waitresses were responsible for EVERYTHING - from answering the phone, to taking you to your seat, to getting your order, to bringing out your order, to clearing you table...absolutely everything! So whilst they were friendly and nice when their attention was on you, it was really really really hard to get their attention (as there were so many table and things they had to attend to). As such, we were up for a very very slow paced meal...

We started with their famous rice crackers. There are two flavours - sour cream and chives, and salt & vinegar. We chose the salt & vinegar version ($10) and it was yummy and playful. You get to spray the vinegar on yourself - as much or as little as you liked. The vinegar concoction isn't very strong and also brings along a subtle sweetness to it all. The crackers themselves were really thin and crispy. I think they're made of those viet rice paper sheets deep fried? I'm not sure why I think that... must have read it somewhere.
Rice Crackers (salt & vinegar) - $10
We were a bit torn between the 4 course meal or the 8 course degustation. At the end, hubby settled for the 4 course (which in retrospect, was a very good decision given the crazily slow pace of dinner). Even though we were ready to order and we flagged the waitress over wanting to order, it probably took a good 20 minutes before they allowed us to order our food. Looking around at some table which arrived after us, that seemed to be the norm.

The bread and butter came - butter on a fake stone cube and the sourdough bread looking ordinary. However, when you buttered your bread, a hint of coffee flavour crosses your palate which I found quite interesting. I couldn't tell whether the espresso flavour lay in the butter or in the bread. After tasting each separately (and copping a querying eye from the hubby when I scooped the super super crazily smooth butter into my mouth), I still couldn't really decide. Thing is, I felt as though the coffee flavour came from the crust of the bread... but it didn't make sense because Tomislav churns their own butter but just buys bread from the bakery... so if anything, they will be in a better position to flavour the butter. A question for me to ask them next time, when the waiters are less occupied.
butter on a stone
"coffee" tasting bread
I have to apologise for the crappy quality of my photos. Yes, I am a noob when it comes to taking photos of food on black plates in a dim atmophere and I don't realise it until I put it on my computer (cos it looks decent on the display of my camera).

Anyway - first courses. I picked the fried crystal bay prawns. The small prawns reminded me of popcorn chicken. They were lightly seasoned with seaweed flakes and swam in a pea and ham soup. The prawns were beautifully cooked and tasted delish. The soup with thick and crazily pea-tasting. If you don't like peas - do not order this dish! Luckily, I do like my peas and I did enjoy this course.
Fried Crystal Bay Prawns with seaweed and pea & ham soup
Hubby went for a venison tartare. This was a thin round disk of venison, beautifully seasoned, dotted with a small quail yolk and a small hint of mint crumbs. Crispy flatbread cracker thing added that textural crunch to the dish.
Venison Tartare, quail yolk, mint crumbs
My second course was a poached hen's yolk served with powdered (frozen?) foie gras and green peas. The foie gras, whilst powdery looking, went all smooth and creamy the moment it entered my mouth. Mixed with the gooey tasty yolk and the texturally firmer peas, it was really quite a good experience. The plate it came on also made it look cool and warpy :)
poached hen's yolk, foie gras, green peas
Hubby's 2nd course was the roast quail. The quail came with a sour cherry and XO sauce. The meat was succulent and cooked well... pink ish but not too pink.
roast Red Gate farm quail with sour cherries and XO sauce
Next up, in terms of mains, hubby decided on the roast lamb belly. I could have easily mistaken the looks of this for a pork belly (but probably more finness looking). It came with a wasabi powder, which was really subtle in taste, and a grilled pineapple. There was a creamy white sauce that I'm not sure what it was but I think it all came together nicely.
Roast lamb belly, wasabi and grilled pineapple
 The standout dish for the night was definately the braised beef short rib. This was OMG awesome. The short rib was soooooo succulent and sooooo tender and soooooo tasty. A bit of the beef with a dab of the crazily buttery soft smooth polenta (which really just seemed like butter), and I was floating in beef bliss! So delicious. There were also thin slices of buttered and herbed king brown mushrooms.
Braised beef short rib with soft polenta and king brown mushrooms
We couldn't pass up the opportunity to try the Heston-inspired tripple cooked crinkle cut fries ($11). Sadly, we weren't that impressed with it. Sure, it was crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside... but wasn't really all that much better than fresh chips from other places (e.g. El Jannah).
famous hand cut chips
Dessert-wise, hubby went for the cheese - the tarago river blue cheese which came with a pickled tamarillo pie and clotted cream. The cheese was really strong but very creamy and nice... when eaten in small portions. The pie was interesting - kind of like an apple pie but not.
Tarago River Blue with pickled tamarillo pie and clotted cream
My dessert was yummier. It was a vanilla cheesecake with apple ice shavings and roast apple icecream. The cheesecake was flavoured just right. Smooth round ball of smoothness with a crumbly buttered base. The icy-ness of the apple ice shavings and the flavoursome icecream added the temperature difference in your mouth. Although I'm not a fan of the apple taste, I was still a fan of this dessert.
Vanilla cheesecake with apple ice and roast apple ice cream
Coffees were ordered. Averate tasting long-black and cappuccino. No petit fours came with it which for a restaurant of this calibre, was a little dissappointing.
By the end of our meal (which started at 7.15pm), it was around 11pm. That was for a four course meal. Imagine the length of time required for the 8 course degustation! So only come here when you're feeling leisurely... wasn't really the fault of the waitresses... they were nice and friendly... but probably just worn thin having to look after everything (including making our coffee)!

Food - 9/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 30/40

2/13 Kirketon Road
NSW 2010
Tel: (02) 9356 4535

Friday, July 13, 2012

Jonga Jip BBQ - Eastwood

Wanting Korean food one day, my hubby and I walked the streets of Eastwood to find a restaurant we had not eaten at in a while. We settled for Jonga Jip BBQ but decided against barbequed meat and instead, ordered a soup each.

First off, a plethora of side dishes came and scattered across our table. There were heaps of side dishes! Interestingly, there was this lettuce salad with a black sesame watery mayo sauce. Not sure if I liked it or not. My favourites would have been the seaweed salad and the tofu/fishcake strips :)

Loads of side dishes
I had ordered the Beef tripe soup ($12). I can't eat stuff that's too chilli and I asked the waiter whether or not it was a spicy soup. I don't know if he didn't understand me or if he didn't care - he said it was normal and seemed to indicate that the soup wasn't very chilli but when it came out, chilli and pepper filled the soup. There was tripe and some intestine looking things which I couldn't have contested to, but it was the chilliness that threw me off. Hubby was nice enough the swap his soup with me :)

Beef Tripe Soup - $12
The soup I stole off hubby was the beef rib soup ($12). This was a clear soup but packed full of flavour. The beef ribs were really soft and tender and succulent. An egg white was also cracked into it making even more appetising.
Beef Rib Soup - $12
The food here was pretty good. and side dishes are a plenty. From memory, the barbeque here isn't bad either. Might come back when my stomach is craving side dishes :)

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

Jonga Jip BBQ
87 Rowe Street
NSW 2122
Tel: (02) 98585160

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuscany Ristorante - Leichhardt

Hubby and I were absolutely famished one Saturday morning (probably closer to midday) and were looking for something to eat. Out of the whole entertainment book, hubby opted to go to 'Le Pain Quotidien', the Leichhardt branch... which also happens to be the shop that no longer exists >.< Hence, as we were both starving, we entered the first restaurant we saw nearby - Tuscany - which sits just outside Norton Plaza, where we parked.

We both decided on pasta dishes, and just in case that takes forever to come, garlic bread was also ordered. The garlic bread was really really really buttery. Maybe a bit OTT on the butter as I felt as though I could squeeze drip the butter out of the bread. It was tasty though, and the bread was soft and the crust was crunchy. Either it was good, or we were both too hungry to know any better.

Garlic Bread
Hubby's lasagne came as quite a big stack. It looked hefty and substantial with loads of layers of pasta and meat sauce. It was tomatoey and relatively tasty. I think it would have tasted even better with a few less layers of the thick pasta sheets.
I ordered their Ravioli Paradiso - which was essentially ravioli with prawn meat inside, served with a prawn bisque. I was sold by the sound of prawn bisque and was a little disppointed that prawn bisque was scarce on my plate. The ravioli filling was quite tasty but the pasta was a little thicker than I would have liked. The sauce was really rich and tasty but as I said before, I would have appreciated a bit more sauce.
Ravioli Paradiso
Overall, it was a relatively pleasant experience. The atmosphere was classy and nice. The waiters were polite. The place filled with delicious aromas every time someone's food came out - that's got to be a good sign. And with the entertainment book discount, lunch came to under $30~ (but I guess it would have been quite a bit more without that discount)

Food - 7/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29/40

Tuscany Ristorante
55 Norton Street
NSW 2040
Tel: (02) 9568 2220