Saturday, December 26, 2015

Tim Ho Wan - Burwood

I'd been dubious about Tim Ho Wan coming to Sydney for a really long time. Not just the crazy cues but also the outrageous prices. However, for today - my craving for a vegetable dumpling won out. It also helped that there were close to no lines at lunch hour (around 12.30pm).

We weren't super hungry, so we only ordered a couple of dishes. First and foremost, the spinach and shrimp dumplings ($7.80). This had the most amazingly thin crystal dumpling skin super delicious and plentiful spinach filling. YUM! I could eat plates and plates of this I think.
As per all our yum cha experiences, the pork and prawn dumplings had to be ordered ($7.80). This was a huge disappointment. Really dismal looking. Really not any better than siu mai from elsewhere.
The rice rolls with sesame sauce was pretty tasty. Silky smooth rolls drenched in a sweet sesame sauce. Can't really go too wrong.

The last thing we ordered was one of their specials - the crystal shrimp roll with century egg. I've never steamed rice paper rolls before. Now I know that it just becomes really sticky. An epic slab of prawn meat with a small slice of century egg and fish roe. Hubby quite liked this dumpling but I felt like there was waaaaaayyyyy too much prawn meat in this.
I think that Tim Ho Wan in Burwood is not bad. Extravagant prices aside, the service, ambiance and wait times were all quite reasonable.

Food - 8/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 6/10
Overall - 28/40

Tim Ho Wan (Burwood)
Ground Level Westfield Burwood
Cnr Burwood Road and Wilga Street
Burwood NSW 2134
Tel: 0426 788 708

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Biota - Bowral

Biota is one of those restaurants I've always wanted to try. Being in the Southern Highlands, it's relatively close to Sydney but after a yummy meal, it seemed more fitting to just stay the night also. Lucky for us, Biota offers a stay and dine package - 5 or 7 course meal with accommodation (twin share).

We opted for the 5 course meal. The food, service and ambiance combined all led to a really pleasant and relaxing experience. Several snacks were offered before the first course. This included a thing pear 'roll-up' with sheeps milk, goose ham, a cute little bowl of tasty fish roe and summer flowers, as well as an acacia seed eclair that you dip into a warm, raw hen's yolk.
Bread was bought to the table is these warm mole skins - toasty warm house baked dark rye bread rolls with really smooth and delicious cultured butter.
First course was an oyster with leek and cucumber. As my father can't eat raw foods, his oyster was substituted with a confit tomato. The oyster in the dish was really fresh and super sweet. Pretty amazing. I also loved the sweetness in the leek.
Course two was a slab of really tender pork belly, hidden underneath some greens and served with a tasty dallop of eel custard.
The next dish was house-milled single origin wheat noodles with a rooster stock and a dehydrated hens yolk. Dad's substitute was this plate of delicious smelling mushroom pasta.
The last savoury course was lamb. The lamb was all covered with pickled carrots and served with a blackberry sauce. My parents and hubby all loved it.
Pre-dessert was a honey-softie - a milk icecream with honeycomb. It was a really good palate cleanser- subtly sweet and quite refreshing.
Dessert was 'mums roses' served in these really intriguing stone bowls. Good use of liquid nitrogen to make the sorbet. It worked well with the peaches and cream.
All up - it was a really good dining and staying experience. The food, service and ambiance were all awesome and the rooms were also really clean, pleasant and comforting.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 32.5/40

18 Kangaloon Road
Bowral, NSW 2576
Tel: (02) 4862 2005

Friday, November 20, 2015

Salvage Specialty Coffee - Artarmon

We were heading to a Jap pottery sale on the weekend in the Artarmon area and decided to brunch there too. It was a slightly difficult choice as 2 pretty popular cafes were right next to one another on Wilkes Ave but at the end, we opted for Salvage Specialty Coffee (as it had pretty high ratings on bean hunter :P).

We were seated quickly and served quickly - impressive. Coffee here was likewise impressive. Disappointing that they only have one size of coffee cos I would have loved a large cup of my skim capp.
Food-wise, the blackboard offered lots of temptations. Even though there wasn't tons of options, there were many that we wanted to try. After intense discussions with the waitress and much deliberation, we finally opted for the Sloppy Salv (?? I actually forget the name...) and the Croque Madame (which was a weekend special).

The sloppy salv was a brioche burger containing some really tomatoey and slightly spicey mince bolognese. It reminded hubby of a MOS burger. It was definitely sloppy - pretty much falling apart. But pretty tasty :)
 The Croque Madame was exquisite. A perfectly soft-poached egg with delicious running yolk sat atop my toasty of black forest gypsy ham (super tasty), swiss gruyere, and dijon. The other half of my toasty was topped with creamy delicious bechamel sauce. Loved every bite of this crunchy, soggy, tasty, flavoursome concoction. YUM!
All up, I liked this place. Coffee is good. It's chillaxy. The food is really tasty. Definitely worth a visit if you are nearby.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29.5/40

Salvage Specialty Coffee
5 Wilkes Ave
Artarmon, NSW 2064

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ho Jiak - Strathfield

There's a new Malaysian place in town and it's super close to home. Being inside Strathfield plaza, there was a bit of a hitch in finding the place - as "HoJiak" actually isn't the name plastered ... it has "Penang Express" on the shop front and has that "food-court"-y type feel. Nonetheless, enough people seem to have found the place to make it quite buzzing and happening.

Hubby ordered their Hainan Chicken Rice. It's pleasant. The chicken is average and the rice is also decent. Not dazzling though unfortunately. 
My Prawn Mee was more impressive. Fragrantly aromatic and loads of flavour. It was pretty delicious. The noodles were wonderful in soaking in the tasty soup. I think it could have been improved by having real prawns instead of prawn cocktails... but you know what? I'd take it. I'd order it again. I also wanted an ice coffee but as they'd "run out", I had to opt for the Teh Terik instead (milk tea) which disappointingly, was pre-made, pre-packaged and slightly over-sweet.
 So all up, this is not a bad place for some Malay food. Lots of flavours in the soup for my noodles. But you know what? Temasek (in Parra) isn't too far away and that's also pretty delish! :)

Food - 6.5/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 25.5

Ho Jiak 
Shop 33, 11 The Boulevard
Strathfield Plaza
Tel: (02) 9008 8020

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Hartsyard - Newtown

Hartsyard is a place I've wanted to visit for AGES but for fear of long lines and waits, I had held off. I had seen lots of yummy photos from this place so anticipation was high. Their menu consists of "seed" (entree sized) and "feed" (main sized) all meant for sharing. For the four of us, the waitress recommended 2 seeds and 3 feeds.

The Oyster Po' Boy was recommended to us by our waitress. Crunchy deep fried oysters with mayo and coleslaw enveloped between two English muffin buns. Sliders in size, it was tasty but definitely not worth it's price tag ($24 for two). For $12 a pop, I can think of many many tasty burgers from elsewheres.
We also got their smoked trout from their 'seed' (entree size) menu. The trout was perfectly cooked with a subtle hint of smokiness. Loved the mix of cauliflower, carrot, pickled mix. Also really enjoyed the crispy fish skin. The 'everything bagel' was my favourite type of bagel in NYC and these everything bagel crisps were likewise quite tasty. I thought that the dish worked and was pretty awesome.
Hubby and I like the 'smokiness' of food. One of our friends did not and so I think his enjoyment of the meal went downhill from here. The sweet potato came as pretty as a picture. Really soft and sweetly glazed with smoked honey, and topped with hazelnuts, goats curd and bbq mushrooms, it was a delight to see. I'm not a huge fan of sweet potato, but hubby and our other friend seemed to approve.
The smokiness continued on into our pulled pork. I quite liked it. It was soft and tender. Some people would say mush? The really thick slice of maple bacon was also pretty good. And who can say no to crackling? It was served with some fresh green apple and yoghurt.
Hartsyard is also famous for their fried chicken - so we knew we had to order it. It was a good 4 pieces of chicken. Crunchy outside and juicy meat. Served with a buttermilk biscuit (damper like thing) that none of us really appreciated, and gravy. What can I say? It was good but not $33 worth of good? We can get pretty damn amazing Korean fried chicken for that price!
Last but not least - dessert. We knew that we had to get their famous soft serve however reluctant we were to pay $12 for a soft serve. It better be bloody amazing! As I don't actually even remember the flavour of the soft serve... cinnamon? with a choc doughnut on the side? ... I don't know... you can probably ascertain how much we enjoyed and savoured it....
All up, the food was OK but I was quite disappointed with the experience. This is American bar food cooked reasonably but with a close to fine dining type price tag. Not cool.

Food - 7/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 5/10
Overall - 25.5/40

33 Enmore Road
Newtown, NSW 2042
Tel: (02) 8068 1473

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rosso Antico Pizza Bar - Newtown

A colleague of mine had been raving on about an amazingly tasty new pizza joint in Newtown so when we needed to get takeaway in the area, we made a beeline for pizza. We didn't know how long it would take for them to make our pizzas so we decided to call ahead. My darling hubby called without even consulting their menu and ordered based on faith "just give me 3 of the most popular pizzas". What really shocked me was when they said that the order would be ready in 5 mins. We were not 5 mins away - floored on the accelerator!

On our way there, we rationalised that there was no way our pizzas could be done in 5 mins... maybe we just misheard 50 mins? But nope - lo and behold, pizza was waiting patiently for us as we pulled into the store 15 mins later. The pizzas that our kind waitress ordered for us was the Tartufo, the Napoli and the Prosciutto.

You could smell the Tartufo pizza before even opening the box - rich truffle smells just wafted out. This was an amazing pizza with italian sausage, porcini, fior di latte (cheese) and truffle paste. These toppings were a heavenly match, all sitting atop an amazing thin yet chewy base. YUM! Definitely dreaming of this pizza!
The Napoli was slightly less interesting. Loads of san marzano tomato paste with olives, anchovy, garlic and oregano. Quite tasty still... but I would have loved double the cheese! I guess this pizza is showcasing the tomato.
The last is my usual favourite (only this time, it is outdone by the truffle). The Prosciutto pizza had rocket, Parmesan, cherry tomatoes and of course - prosciutto. Loads of topping. Definitely appreciated the abundance of rocket. Very tasty indeed.
So the pizza were delicious even though they were sitting for some time on the counter. Imagine how tasty they would be if we ate in store! Definitely need to go back for some more truffle pizza! :)

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - ...?
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 22.5 + ? / 40

Rosso Antico Pizza Bar
Shop 2, 52-60 Enmore Road
Tel: (02) 8065 4224

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Besser - Surry Hills

Besser is a casual Italian joint settled among the old collection of Besser blocks. It gives off a relaxed vibe and an old-school style. The waiters are heavily accented but quite friendly. Given the concreteness of the restaurant, it gets super noisy as human voices bounce around the room.

As a party of four, we decided to just order dishes to share. We opted for two entree dishes - the meatballs and the pork fingers. The meatballs were reasonably bite sized and packed full of cheesy flavour. There was also quite a delicious tomatoey sauce that covered the meatballs. The pork fingers were lightly crumbed and eaten with an oniony-yoghurt sauce. There was also an intense mustard flavour to the soft pulled-pork innards.
We chose three pastas. Two of the pastas were part of their specials for the day. Due to the noise and the waiter's accent, I don't quite remember exactly what they were, just that one was a creamy risotto with scampi, and the other was a pappardelle with sausage and mushrooms. The risotto was quite tasty - scampi give or take, but the cheesy creaminess and the al-dente rice created pretty awesome rich flavours all round. The pappardelle was not bad either. Slightly creamy, slightly tomatoey and again, perfectly cooked pasta. Whilst both pastas were delicious, what surprised me most was the gnocchi with turkey that we ordered. Not that it was better than the other pastas. Just that I've never liked gnocchi (like EVER) but this gnocchi is beginning to change my mind. The gnocchi was really fluffy and pillowy - not dense or carby like the normal ones, and the turkey meat added the right amount of saltiness to it all.
Other than the pastas, we also ordered the grilled scotch mushroom (sorry about the photo.... I didn't take it...). Having no expectations of what a scotch mushroom was like, it ended up as a plate of thin grilled scotch fillet steaks with juicy mushrooms and wilted greens. The steak was cooked well - tender enough. But I think I would have been happy enough with just tons of the mushrooms (which was really flavourful as it soaked in all the meat juices) and the wilted greens.
Dessert-wise, nothing really appealed. And, Messina was just next door (even the waiter agreed). So... Messina we went.

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

3/355 Crown Street
Surry Hills
Tel: (02) 9331 1611