Thursday, August 28, 2014

Prato Cafe & Diner - Abbotsford

I was looking up  yummy brunch places and came across this cafe tucked away in Abbotsford. Abbotsford is not a suburb we frequent so I was pleasantly surprised when it was just 15 mins away from home. So what drew me to this cafe tucked in amongst expensive waterview properties? I saw a photo of their fish pie and thought - 'I've got to eat that!!!" So guess what I ordered? :)
The cafe is spacious yet friendly and welcoming. Although staff was not abundant, service was prompt enough. Coffee here was also pretty tasty! Smooth and rich and aromatic - campos coffee.
Hubby had his heart set on many things. He finally decided on the homestyle bacon and egg roll. We called the waitress over to order and he ordered.... the beef burger. What happened?!?!?! The beef burger came on a super duper sesamed bun. Over-sesamed for sure! The cheese burger came with Gruyere, onion, pickle, ketchup, and mayo, served with crispy golden french fries. It was average... Why is it so hard to find an awesome burger in Sydney these days? :(
My smoked fish pie was super super delicious. Large chunks of smoked white fish with sweet leek, potato and peas and a light golden bread crumb. The fish was so smokey and the combination of the lot was creamy and really tasty! However, it is quite rich, so much so that it was truely difficult to finish the dish alone.

This cafe is quite a gem. Quiet and tranquil with indoor and outdoor seating, and lovely high ceilings too! Worth a visit for sure :)

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

378 Great North Road
NSW 2046
Tel: (02) 9712 5638

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Red Pepper - Strathfield

It's rainy and cold and somewhat miserable. Perfect weather conditions for hot pot and KFC. When my friends mentioned KFC and image of a huge bucket of colonels specialty in a family feast wafted into my mind, only to be corrected. KFC = Korean Fried Chicken.

Situated at Strathfield Sports Club, millions seem to flock to this place for KFC. My friends were regular patrons here whereas I was a noob - hence I left the ordering to them. We had a whole Spring Onion Gang Jung - super crispy fried chicken with loads of fragrant spring onion, garlic and hints of chilli. It's sticky and subtly sweet. The meat is incredibly succulent. YUM!

We also had half a sweet and spicy chicken. It had really rich tomatoey flavour and tons of sesame seeds. Really sticky and quite spicy for me - but no spice hit for the hubby.

The last chicken flavour we had was the snow cheese chicken. ZOMG - fried chicken with sprinkles of artificial cheese.... Soooo sooo bad for you but really crispy and quite delish.
Hot pot wise, we had the budae chigae - the 'army stew' which is my absolute favourite. A chilli stew with sausages, spam, kimchi, bean sprouts, tofu, veges, and instant noodles. LOVE it! So artificial and prob not worth the cost... but so up my ally in terms of tastiness :)

I feel like I should have eaten at this place ages ago as it's a pretty awesome little gem. Don't expect good service though. If you are eating here on a weekend - be sure to book!

Food - 8/10
Service - 5/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 26/40

Red Pepper
4A Lyons St
NSW 2135
Tel: (02) 9701 0911

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chur Burger - Surry Hills

I had put off going to Chur Burger, not because I don't love burgers, but because whenever people tell me it's the 'best' one around - I'm usually disappointed. But when our friends told us to go and check out Sydney's supposed 'best burger', we thought we'd go with an open mind.

I read a lot of blogs on the place prior to our visit so I knew to steer away from the pulled pork burger. I'd also read that the salted caramel milkshake was a bit on the thin side. But you know me - salted caramel anything, I will order it. So, against my better judgement, a salted caramel shake landed in front of me. It wasn't as thick as I usually like it, and it was really really sweet. Redeeming factor though - it was very much salted caramelly.
The four of us also shared a plate of corn fritters. These were AMAZING. Beautifully crumbed and golden brown, and oozing in corn pasty sweetness. The dipping sauce was also really good - creamy with a hint of chilli. Really really yum!
If only the burgers were on the same caliber... Three of us ordered the beef burger whereas hubby ordered the lamb burger. The beef burger came with a thick patty cooked medium, tomato jam, melted cheese, mustard mayo and thin slices of pickle. All this was sandwiched between slightly overly browned, bit powdery, overly dense and waaay too buttery brioche buns. I have to say that it was an average-tasting burger, at best. The only redeeming factor was that the cheese was nicely melted.

Hubby's lamb burger had mint sauce, red onion, aioli, and a cute little slab of feta cheese. He said that it tasted alright. He wasn't super impressed, but he didn't complain too much about it - apart from the fail bun.
Between the four of us, we ordered both types of chips. The normal potato ones with chilli salt, and the sweet potato ones with garlic and lime. The sweet potato chips were a bit mangy looking - 'cooked to death' was the phrase my friends used. The thicker ones were still ok though - kind of like baked sweet potato. Unfortunately, they were far outnumbered by the crazy browned cooked to death ones... The normal potato ones, on the other hand, were actually pretty tasty. Cooked well with crunch and fluffiness.
With loud pop music playing and shared tables that are slightly too high to be comfy, the atmosphere was not the most conducive to chatting. The supplemental food was yum but 'voted the best burgers in Sydney'? I think not. I probably wouldn't come back.

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

Chur Burger
48 Albion Street
Surry Hills
NSW 2010
Tel: (02) 9212 3602

Friday, August 15, 2014

Rustic Pearl - Surry Hills

Before bracing ourselves to launch into our nephew's 3rd birthday party, we decided to grab a quick early breakfast around Surry Hills. We ambled into Rustic Pearl, a cozy small ish cafe on Crown Street.
Water served with a thin slice of lemon and mint was a nice touch. The menu appeared tasty and it took a while for us to deliberate our choices. At the end, hubby got a bruschetta and I opted for a fancy bacon and egg roll. And of course we got coffees which were creamy, smooth and tasty - not a bad start to the morning.

Hubby's bruschetta was a mess of sucuk (a dried, spicy turkish sausage), fresh tomato, rocket, pomegranate molasses and melted buffalo mozzarella, finished with soft boiled organic egg. Hubby's problem with this dish was the avocado that was smeared on the toast - he said that it made the toast all soggy and undesirable. The other components looked delish, but hubby said that it was pretty average.

Sucuk bruschetta

My bacon and egg roll was a crispy yummy bun encasing a beautifully cooked  organic fried egg, bacon loin, rocket, tomato relish and hollandaise sauce. Impossible for me to eat as a whole and a touch messy as I cut it up. It was tasty enough but not spectacularly amazing.
bacon and egg roll

All up, it was a pleasant experience. Food and coffee came promptly and it helped us chill out for a bit before heading to a hectic kids party. Not too bad :)

Food - 6.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7.5/10
Value for money - 6.5/10
Overall - 27.5/40

Rustic Pearl
415 Crown Street
Surry Hills
NSW 2010
Tel: 0406 930 083

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ramen Ikkyu - Sydney

A couple of our friends tempted us with the promise of delicious ramen. As I have an almost insatiable craving for ramen - we were there! I hadn't been to Ramen Ikkyu before but my friends assured me that the chef (originally from Blancharu) married the perfect broth with the perfect noodles.

When we got there, the head chef was present - cheerful and helpful in demeanor when he saw me struggle with finding the food items that I wanted. Or... did he just find me too slow in ordering?

Our friend talked up the amazingness of the pork rib - supposedly a massive slab of meat. How could hubby resist? When it came out, the pork rib was indeed MASSIVE. It was also super succulent and tender and really really tasty. With a slight charred, bbq flavour, it was a melt-in-your-mouth piece of meat. The rib came with a rich soy-based soup. I think that the pork rib's fat dripped into the soup, making it the soup rich, thick and porky in flavour.
pork rib ramen
I opted for a less epic option - the Ikkyu Salt. The 'paitan soup' is slightly lighter than the tonkatsu soup base of other ramen places. This soup was lighter but still rich and concentrated. It tasted more chicken-like compared to pork which was interesting. Initially, the soup was slightly less satisfying that the tonkatsu soups, but halfway through the noodle slurping, the richness of the soup really got to me. The noodles were good and the egg and bamboo shoots were likewise deliciousness. The bbqed pork meat is also completely delicious! (although I did prefer the chunkier rib pieces that hubby had).

ramen ikkyu salt

Although free kaedama (ie. extra portion of noodles) is offered, none of our party of four required this. However, we couldn't resist but to share some gyoza. The gyoza is pretty succulent and not really charred. There's this thin layer of batter that joins the gyoza together which unfortunately doesn't add much to the dish.
All up, this was a pretty delicious feast. We were all ramened out by the end of it (and in search of something sweet :P).

Ramen Ikkyu
Sussex Centre Food Court
Sussex Street
Haymarket, NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9281 0998

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mooberry Dessert & Breakfast Bar - Neutral Bay

It was really nice of the Mooberry founders to invite hubby and I to a tasting at Mooberry at their recently opened 3-level flagship store in Neutral Bay.  Stepping in, there was a hipster-vibe with fake grass on the walls, green running vines, lit up trees and the rustic woody furnishings. Quite chillaxy.

Although we were running a touch late and the store was short staffed on the day, the store manager Jamie was super friendly and accommodating. We were first invited to sample their froyo. Choice of : original, chocolate, coconut, pomegranate, passionfruit and salted caramel. People who know me would know that I'm not an avid fan of froyo. However, salted caramel is also my weakness and I would salted caramel everything~ So no surprises as to which flavour I tried. There's a ton of accompaniments to have froyo with but I opted for the coco puffs, the 'gaytime' coating bits, and tim tam bites. Hubby opted for strawberries, passionfruit and mango to go with his pomegranate froyo.
I have to say - I was pleasantly surprised that I liked my salted caramel froyo, mainly because it didn't have a yoghurty aftertaste that I dislike. Unfortunately, that probably also means that avid froyo fans would think that it's not yoghurty enough - can't please all crowds :P My toppings matched my froyo well so it was really quite tasty. The pomegranate froyo was much more 'yoghurty' which is definitely to hubby's favour. I think he liked his refreshing toppings also.

After our froyos, we were served (again with a big friendly smile) with hot chocolates - one was the original Belgium chocolate, the other - salted caramel. My last salted caramel from Milse (in Auckland) was a bit odd tasting but this one... quite yum. There was good chocolate flavour with a yummy caramelly overtone. Loved it! I would order it again for sure. The original Belgium hot choc was also tasty. Not too thick but rich and creamy enough.

I have to say - a froyo and a hot chocolate for brekkie pretty much filled me already but Jamie came back with their Belgium waffles. Couldn't say no to chocolately waffles :) Jamie said that they have their own waffle maker and are making their own waffles in store. Our waffle was slightly too dense. They may have to alter the recipe slightly to lighten and fluffen it up a bit - but there was chocolate, strawberries and banana a-plenty. The chocolate froyo also a good addition to the package.
Jamie was going to come out with churros as well - but there was no way hubby and I could stomach it - we had hit our max sugar levels so maybe when we come back next time (at night - as Jamie said that the store looks pretty awesome at night), we'll have a try. On our way out of the store, I eyed someones crepes which looks delish - again plentiful and served with strawberries and chocolate drizzle...we might just have to try that too~

Mooberry pretty much monopolises froyo in Neutral Bay. They have two other branches - one in Rhodes (which serves Campos coffee) and their original Newtown shop (more froyo dominated). It's an interesting concept - merging froyo with desserts with brekkie.

Disclaimer : We were invited as guests to sample the desserts at Mooberry - but all comments  and opinions are my own.

Mooberry Dessert & Breakfast Bar
(Neutral Bay Branch)
162-164 Military Road
Neutral Bay
Tel: (02) 8957 9758