Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Century - Pyrmont

A family friend had their 90th birthday recently and they invited us to attend their birthday dinner at The Century in the Star. The menu was pretty extravagant, the food was pretty tasty, and the waitstaff were pretty friendly and patient with us. And so, it was a good night all up :)

One of the first courses of the night was the lobster sashimi. It came on an impressive bed of smoking liquid nitrogen - just for the 'wow' factor, but it really didn't need it as the lobster sashimi itself was pretty 'wow' itself in terms of being sweet and super fresh tasting. Being so close to the fish market, we not only got pieces of lobster sashimi, we also got and oyster and salmon sashimi  - both of which were really tasty.
Course two was XO pipis on vermicelli. This was pretty steaming hot and well sauced. Everyone happily chomped on this and there were no complaints. So pretty good dish :)
Lobster braised with ginger and shallot was next. There was a pretty massive plate of lobster and had tons of meat. Funnily enough, this lobster had a more crab like texture - less chewy and more sweet - and so, I quite liked it.
The next course was abalone slices with veges. There was soooo much abalone. All thinly sliced and stir-fried. It wasn't chewy and tough like I expected but because it was so thinly sliced, it was subtly sweet and soft and delectable.
A steamed coral trout was next. Steamed really well, the meat fell off the bone. Pretty good for fish :)
Chicken and noodles, as well as garlic lettuce came next. These were pretty average compared to the rest of the meal. The noodles might have lacked a bit of flavour. Possibly needed a bit more salt or a bit more sauce? But noodles are noodles - and I eat all noodles.

Fruit, biscuits and Chinese 'birthday buns' came next. The birthday girl got the massive bun (which unfortunately was hollow) and the rest of us go the little buns which had red bean paste in it. Nice end to the night really.
The Century @ The Star
80 Pyrmont St
Pyrmont NSW 2009
Tel: (02) 9566 2328

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Good Luck Chinese Restaurant - Enfield

After a super difficult and long long week at work, all hubby wanted was duck and so duck we ate. We'd talked about going to this Chinese restaurant in Enfield for years so I was pretty pumped that we finally could visit 'Good Luck Chinese Restaurant' for their popular Peking Duck.

Between the two of us, we couldn't really eat much more than the duck. (and remember to pre-order the duck at least 1 hr before you visit the restaurant). The duck comes in 2 courses - the pancakes and either the soup or deep fried duck. I don't know if we were tucked in a corner of the restaurant or if we looked young, but we were ignored for quite some time. When the duck finally came, it was gloriously crispy and good looking :)It was tasty and succulent and a little bit oily, but really deliciousness! The pancakes were definitely homemade cos it was a bit thick... and very often stuck together. But the yumminess of the duck makes up for the shortfall.

Unfortunately, that's pretty much the extent to which the yumminess ends. Our second course was the soup. It was a bit dismal. Lacked taste. A bit of duck bone, some shallots and a few bits of chinese cabbage... It was slightly not tasty and non-delicious.
We also ordered a small side dish of cold noodles. This was likewise a bit dismal and non-delicious and I would recommend against ordering it.
So I guess that this is a small Chinese restaurant that is really good for Peking Duck (but maybe order the fried version for the second course) and ask others for recommendations for what else to order here (definitely not the cold noodles).

Good Luck Chinese Restaurant
182 Liverpool Road
Enfield NSW 2136
Tel: (02) 9747 4625

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Burger Project - Sydney

You know how you hear about place that's meant to be good but then receives tons of negative reviews and you're like - 'I don't think I want to go there' except you really want to try it for yourself to see if it really is as crap as others say it is? Well - Burger Project is one of these places.

We didn't know how bad the crowds would be for Sat lunch so we got to the burger joint at 11am when it opened. It was pretty empty. As we sat outside waiting for our friends googling all the blogs on the place and seeing pic after pic of dry, unappetising burgers our expectations dropped lower and lower - even when we saw Neil Perry go in and out of the store.
I decided to order the cheeseburger ($8.90) whilst hubby got the spicy pork belly burger ($9.90). My cheeseburger was largely disappointing. You'd expect a quality juicy and tasty beef patty coming from Neil's kitchen, 36 month grass-fed Cape Grim beef brisket and all, but what you really get is a pretty bland, slightly dry slab of ground beef. The bun itself was not much better - it had this stale dense dryness to it. Not really sure how to describe it but it wasn't good. There also wasn't enough of Neil's "special sauce" so the whole thing was a bit of bland boring eat. Way different to the awesome cheeseburger from Shake Shack (if that's what they were aiming for).
 Hubby's spicy pork belly burger was a bit better. The chilli added the flavour and really, can't go too wrong with pork crackling in a burger. The bun was still a disappointing factor though.
 The triple-cooked chips were actually pretty good. Crispy and crunchy. However, apart from the top ones which were a good chip length, there were tons of scrappy little bits and pieces in this cup.

 Our friends also ordered the crispy hot wings (3 for $9). They said that it was pretty good. The wings were of a decent size and crumbed in a salt and sichuan pepper mix. At $3 a wing - you'd definitely hope they're pretty tasty~
So all the reviews we read before entering the burger joint were not lying. Burger Project is really quite disappointing as far as burgers are concerned. Not really worth a visit if you have other options. And not really a place you'd revisit.

Food - 6/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 6/10
Overall - 26/40

Burger Project
World Square Shopping Centre
Shop 1106 (next to DTF)
664 George Street
Sydney, 2000

Friday, November 14, 2014

Oliveto Ristorante & Bar - Rhodes

We live quite close to many yummy looking restaurants but it had taken us a few years to try out Oliveto - an Italian restaurant with a view of the bay. I was thinking that being kind of in the middle of nowhere, the restaurant would be quieter but it was the complete opposite. The restaurant was bustling and super super busy (and really quite loud) at 8pm on a Friday night.

Many items on the menu sounded delicious so it took us ages to decide what to order but at the end, we decided on the antipasto plate to share, a prosciutto rocket pizza with anchovies, and a mixed mushroom pappardelle.

The bread came with olive oil and balsamic. The bread was pretty dense - not my type. But hubby managed to polish it off with the antipasto. The platter came with prosciutto, beef carpaccio, chilli salami, cheese, artichoke, eggplant, capsicum, egg frittata, and olives (both green and black). All the meats were really really good. I especially liked the beef carpaccio - heaps tasty!

After the antipasto, we were both already quite full. There was no way hubby was to finish his pizza. However, it was really tasty somehow - I don't know if it was the cheese or the prosciutto or the anchovies but something in this pizza made it delectable.

My pappardelle smelt absolutely wonderous. Fresh herbs with mixed mushies and home-made pasta. YUM! It was mouth-wateringly delicious. The pasta was perfectly al-dente and mixed with just the right amount of flavoured olive oil.
Neither hubby nor I had enough stomach space to do dessert but looking around the restaurant, dessert looks amazing. As does their grilled seafood (def food envy there). We felt that Oliveto was a heaps tasty Italian restaurant which is well worth a re-visit.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29/40

Oliveto Ristorante & Bar
443 Concord Road
Rhodes, NSW 2138
Tel: (02) 8765 0006

Friday, November 7, 2014

Eating in Jeonju

Now whilst Busan is the Seafood capital of Korea, Jeonju is the Food capital of Korea, home of super fresh ingredient and super tasty food. Being just a couple of hours (via KTX) from Seoul, hubby and I couldn't resist but to do a day trip here to have the best Bibimbap in the world. Or at least, this region is famous for bibimbap (and was having their annual bibimbap festival the week after we visited). Word of warning - we went on a Saturday (and I don't know if it was just THAT sat) but it was super crowded, full of local Korean tourists.

In Jeonju, there is Hanok Village, a village full of olden day Korean dwellings. This is were the majority of the tourist attractions lie - pavillions, a Confucian school, tea houses, traditional wine making places and so forth. I think this is also where Koreans take their kids to stay the night to teach them the traditional way of living. Above all those touristy things - there is food galore! So much street food!!! And stews, and tradition "royal table eats" (where you get a table full of food) and of course, bibimbap.

The bibimbap place we chose was a little walk away from the village. Upstairs in level two, the place was full of people, all eating the same thing. There's really two choices - the bibimbap with cooked beef and the bibimbap with raw beef. And like any good Korean meal, it comes with a table full of side dishes, all super tasty and super awesome and super refillable. This bibimbap had so many different types of root veges, it felt clean, wholesome, healthy and was really quite delicious. I'm usually not one who likes rice, but I loved this bibimbap and was almost able to finish this massive bowl of rice!
Street food-wise, who can resist some liquid nitrogen ice-cream. The workers at this shop completely hooked us in (along with some friendly Ahjussi's ) but taking these chocolate biscuits and pouring liquid nitrogen on them. When you put it in your mouth, it leaves this really cold, super crisp feeling. The worker was like 'chew quickly' and you realise why straight away. Don't chew quickly enough and that biscuit is going to be stuck to your tongue for the rest of your life! LOL Btw, this tiramisu icecream was deliciousness :)
A spectacle not to be missed at Jeonju this Sat was the amount of people lining up for things. People were lining up for all types of street food - particularly for Mandoo, for this baguette burger, croquettes and PNB. PNB is this super famous bakery that sells chocopies. You know how you get chocopies at the Korean stores here and its like, meh... PNB sells chocopies that are like OMG it's soooo big! The chocolately biscuits sandwich just the right amount of marshmellow and jam and it's all wrapped in this chocolate coating. It's not too sweet and not too dense. Pretty much just right for a chocopie. Hubby was a fan and I ate some (which is saying something as I usually don't even glance twice at chocopies).
After much deliberation, we also lined up and got his 'baguette burger'. This was a cheese, mincey, pizza-y mixture stuffed inside this super crunchy yet super soft baguette bun. Koreans definitely know what they are doing when they are making bread, donuts and deep-frying and this baguette burger was no different. We were initially disinterested and underwhelmed - puzzled by why the line was so freaking long but after one bite, we were sold (even though our stomachs were already full). It was cheesey, meaty and had the right amount of chilli.

Right before our baguette burger experience, we actually had probably the best Beef Rib Soup I've had in my life. This beef rib soup was really really tasty. The soup was just teaming with  the essence of beef bone and the beef? So succulent and fall off the bone. It left this warm fuzzy feeling within us. I wish I had some of that soup now :)
In Jeonju, there's also meant to be something called 'Bapsang' which literally means - a million side dishes. I suspect that you can get this in any of the house-stay places in Hanok but we didn't get to try as the place recommended to us by our friend was closed down :( Maybe next time! Jeonju is really a great eating day trip! Must go if you have some spare time in Seoul.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Eating in Busan

For some weird reason, I always seem to miss out on Good Food Month due to being away. Normally I get a bit upset for missing all the awesome food but this year, I felt like I went to foodie heaven overseas - namely, Busan. Busan is the seafood capital of Korea and it does not disappoint. Not only do you get super fresh and tasty seafood here, you also get a million side dishes with each meal. Need I say that I LOVE korean side dishes?

Our first stop when we got to Busan was the Jagalchi Fish Markets in the Nampodong area. This place is MASSIVE. Even before you get to the main market building, there are streets full of ahjumma (Korean 'aunties') trying to lure you in to buy their seafood. Most places have these dicey little tables and stools for you to sit on as they prepare your seafood either sashimi, barbequed to stewed. I have to say - the aromas wafting from these stalls and the crazy amounts of seafood teaming in their stalls is quite a temptation.
We ate at the Jagalchi markets twice - once on the street stalls and once on level two of the actual market building. I have to say, I preferred the one at the actual market building more , even though it was a tad more expensive. We had a live Hirame (flounder) sashimied  for around AUD$50 but it came with a crazy table full of side dishes!!! As it was our first meal in Busan, I was completely blown away. You should have seen my face light up when dish after dish after dish was brought out! Loved all of it - particularly the pajeon (spring onion pancake) - super fresh, crisp and crunchy outside and soft insides. YUM! The fish itself was also really delish! Really really sweet. The stall we went to was 'C1' in the 2nd floor of the building.
Just next door to the Jagalchi markets are the PIFF street eat stalls. This is where the Busan International Film Festival used to be but now - it's just teaming with carts of delicious street food. My favourites include the fish cakes and the 'hotteok' (seed stuffed pancake). ZOMG - its deep fried cripsy, sweet with some sugary paste in it, chewy and soft dough, AND tons of sunflower, sesame and other types of seeds. Sweet and savoury and really addictive. Lucky they're only like a dollar each.

Just around the corner from the PIFF food carts is another area in Nampodong filled with eating carts. Ahjummas here try to lure you to eat their Bibim Dongmyeon (cold glass noodles), there this really tasty squid salad, tons of fish cakes and really delicious pajeons (spring onion pancakes). It's also a 'must try' to just eat on the street like the locals - standing up, squished in between people, trying to eat everything without spilling stuff on your shirt (or other people's shirts). Everything is really quite cheap - hubby and I got full on this stuff for less than AUD$10.

After shopping around Nampodong area (and if your still hungry from all that street food), there is also a 'jokbal alley' right there. 'Jokbal' (or pig trotters) are boiled and cooled then sliced. You can opt to have pure meat or you can have it in a salad - which usually is this jelly fish, mustardy, cucumbery mix. It's tasty... but you know, if you had limited stomach space, other things in Busan are more WOW.
If you just happen to be in Busan during a crazy windy storm, there is no need to despair. Just take yourself to Lotte or Shinsegae (biggest department store in the world) and have a massive feast, shopping spree and Spa (SpaLand). It is a crazy experience - not only the food but also the spa in this department store (another must try!).

Foodwise - there are restaurants, food courts and these areas which just sell snacks. We had it all in Shinsegae - really yum  beef rib soup and ginseng chicken soup in the restaurants, browsed all the Asian "international" foods on offer, and stopped off at tons of just small food stores that sold snacks like super delicious green tea icecream (originating from Jeju), these little croquette bread things which was really popular (crispy, deep fried, soft bread with filling eg. curry, cheese, red bean), and mando (who can say no to dumplings?)

As we stayed in Haeundae, the Haeundae Gukbap Alley was easily accessible. Gukbap is this pork soup concoction - often with rice in it, or on the side, or if your odd like me, with noodles. There's two famous shops (even though the whole alley is Gukbap) right next to each other. One is Granny Kimm Hee-Dae's original cauldron gukbap and the other is the Jeontong Haeundae Wonjo Halmae Gukbap (48 year old traditional haeundae granny gukbap). We tried both - I personally preferred the one with the yellow sign. However, the one with the red sign offers Korean Yakult as a side dish (and no one can say no to yakult).

yellow sign shop
red sign shop

If you want seafood dining with a view, it's hard to pass on Millak Raw Fish Town. Housed in an old brown building, there are a good 10 stories filled with seafood-serving restaurants. You can be brave and work with the ahjummas on the ground floor that haggle you to buy their seafood with the promise that someone upstairs will cook it up, or if you're like us, you'd just try your luck at any one of the restaurants upstairs. We picked one on level 6 which had a decent number of happy customers inside.
We ordered this fish stew (AUD$30) and again, it came with a table full of amazingly tasty side dishes, and four (yes FOUR) grilled fishes. It was delicious! Yes, some people think that putting a fresh fish in a chilli stew is a waste - but it's sooo sooo sooo tasty! The fish meat is sweet and it make the spicy stew so yum!

Another place good for dining with a view is at Taejongdae. Most people come here for the park - fantastic view of cliffs, you can go for hikes, there's temples, light houses and even a 'suicide rock'. Whilst we did all that touristy stuff, we were really mainly here for the clam tents. This is a massive row of tents with Ahjummas in each one, flagging you to come in and eat their barbequed shell fish. Yes please! I think that each tent is around the same - we got out meal from this super friendly lady who thought were were noobs and cooked everything for us.

The seafood sits in these buckets of water and I can only assume that everything is still live cos it tastes so good and so fresh. Our lady gave us 3 pots of mussels (even though there's only 2 of us), prawns, a massive platter of shellfish barbequed, dukbokki (rice cake) with shell fish in it, and this rice dish (also with shell fish in it). The sauce is amazing - a combination of onion, garlic, cheese and gochujang, and the seafood is just so sweet. All this for AUD$40 - and an amazing view! Sold!

If you get a bit sick of seafood (if that's even possible), venture to Seomyeon. Yes there is shopping and street food galore here, but there's also a plethora of amazing Korean BBQ places. We were lucky and found one that served really crazily amazing pork belly (Samgyupsal). We were well and truely in a local area as when we asked for a menu - the dude pointed the a wall of korean words. Sign language helps and when there is really only one thing that every table is ordering, the real question is probably just 'how many' you want to order.
This pork belly was EPIC. it was sooo massive. Still originally on the bone, the slices were thick, good portion of fat then meat then fat then meat, and these glorious-looking pork skin pieces that you make into delicious crackling on your bbq. ZOMG. It was melt-in-your-mouth goodness. I want my samgyupsal to always look like this from now on!

I'm not able to put everything we ate down in this blog cos that would take me a year to organise, but if you're looking for an eating adventure, Busan is definitely one place you can eat to your hearts content. I think the most expensive meal we had was around AUD$50 but a lot of the time, it's the cheap street food that is really satisfying. Loved Busan! I will definitely return.