Archive for the ‘Sydney City’ Category

Al Aseel, Surry Hills

Posted: January 30, 2013 in Lebanese, Surry Hills, Sydney City

al aseel mixed plate

On my way home from the office one afternoon, I find myself deep in discussion with my cab driver around food.

He’s originally from Lebanon and it’s not long until I beg him to tell me where to find the best lebanese food in Sydney. I insisted I wanted the real deal, the stuff that you would find back at home and throughout the Middle East. As my most vivid memories of the Middle East were of how spellbinding the food was.

So… with pen in hand, note pad on my lap. I furiously took notes and made a list.

Al Aseel was one of the restaurants that came out on top.

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In the heart of the CBD, we find ourselves tucked away in one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney – Pendolino.

Awarded a “One Hat’ out of a possible Three Hats from the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, I am always shell shocked as to why Pendolino is only given the one.

Being the veteran that I am, I became quite vocal of what we should order. I go in and advocate that we must try the beef carpaccio and the hand made ravioli with burnt butter sage sauce.

beef carpaccio

The first thing that immediately impresses upon you is the beautiful scent of truffles when the beef carpaccio is placed in front you. To taste every single morsel of flesh is phenomenal with its melt in your mouth texture. It is so tender it doesn’t even require so much as a chew, only a gentle slip into your mouth. The aromatic notes of the truffle, the saltiness of the testun barola cheese and soft crunch of the rocket cress deliver a delicious and sensory overload.

four cheese ravioli

This is a dish I simply can not do without. The hand made ravioli is expertly tended to and made to perfection. Resulting in the perfect thinness of pasta that is tightly wrapped around a delicious filling of spinach, parmigiano reggiano, gruyere, buffalo mozzarella.

The filling is beautifully plump and strikes the perfect balance between the mixture of cheese and the burnt butter and sage sauce. And the experience of the buttered sage leaves disintegrating along the roof of your tongue feels incredible.

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As part of the Sydney Festival, Justin Hemmes (Merivale Group) has partnered with Sydney’s Opera House to secure the iconic hot spot to bring us this cool little pop up restaurant-come-bar.

From the 4th – 28th January, Dan Hong (Mr Wong’s & Ms G’s) will be overseeing the venture where he will be dishing up a selection of the el loco menu along our beautiful Sydney shores. With a slight surcharge included… Que?

el loco pop up

The hot dog revealed a delicious grilled pork frankfurt nestled away in between a soft doughy bun.

Smothered in blinding amounts of cheese, I was unable to detail the other additions. It was only with each bite that brought the discovery of the pickled jalapenos, mayo and salsa. I even felt a slab of butter!

hot dog and taco 1

Unfortunately, the tacos were less successful. The beef tacos distinctively boasted of Asian rather than Mexican flavours which was subtle and kind of… not what I had in mind. Beef in black bean anyone?

In my surprise taco, they served up kidneys which I probably wouldn’t have ordered if it wasn’t a surprise. The battle was already lost before it even begun. Kidneys were served hard and rubbery, which wasn’t very palatable.

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For the ultimate dude food experience, make way to The Dip @ Good God Small Club.

As one of Top 10 Bar foods in the 2012 Good Food Guide, it also happens to be situated right next to a perfectly good watering hole, where jug after jug keeps going MIA and you’re the culprit.

A perplexing experience all round, it is part club, part bar and part diner.

With the music reverberating through your ear drums. Your wannabe Havana night club-come-diner is littered with fake ferns, fairy lights and neon signs dazzling you every way you turn. Its over-the-top and just beyond random, that you kind of can’t help but embrace it… and give it a whirl.

lining up 2

We unanimously decide on the chilli fries with beef and cheese and we feel like we’re no way near hungover enough to be here. But, what the hey?

Chips are thick, soft and borderline soggy which is my kind of chip.

Covered in minced beef and cheese, these fries are very good in that dirty dodgy kind of way.

chilli fries

Next up, Dylan orders up the dynamite chili dog and his silence really says it all. As soon as he comes up for air, he is quick to declare his satisfaction with the dog.

dynamite chili dog

The young cheezy is everything you could hope for in a dirty vile way. That I still yearn for it every single day.

It’s meaty, it’s soggy and my god is it cheesey… I would happily go there to be defiled all over again.

young cheezy

These wings taste exactly like the wings they have at Hooters. Is it wrong that I know that?

The wings are tasty, with a healthy dose of vinegar and a touch of spice for added kick. The ranch dressing also sits really nicely with it smothered on top and double dipped. YUM-o.

buffalo wings

While tasty, the Jug of Pimm’s just needed another decent glug (or two) of alcohol.

pimm's

The pulled pork nachos was easily the weakest link. The salsa was lacking in that fresh intensity you would normally expect.

While the promise of the 12 hour smoked pulled pork was disappointing. Not only in the amount that was provided but it was dry and was void of the smokey notes that one would expect from a pig being up in the big smoke for 12 hours.

pulled pork nachos

Overall, a fun experience. Great for a cheap hang out with your groupies. Food is good and chock full of carbs and fat. Which makes going to gym, all kinds of worth it.

Welcome to The Dip, for dude food that’s worth it.

The Dip @ Goodgod Small Club on Urbanspoon

The Dip @ Goodgod Small Club

02 9283 8792

55 Liverpool St Map.f8cd109
Sydney, NSW 2000

thedip.com.au

One of the most popular events to hit Crave Sydney Food Festival is the Night Noodle Markets. Held over 13 nights where Sydney’s Asian restauranteurs come together in true hawker fashion to showcase their best at Sydney’s Hyde Park.

I’m not normally a huge fan of the Night Noodle Markets. There are hoards of people, you can never find a spot to eat and worse, there’s usually a massive line between you and what’s cooking.

This year saw more stalls and more seating. Event organisers even included table service in the mix. Staff would remove your leftovers and kindly offer to order you a drink. “I’ll have a cab sav thanks!!”

ATM machines were also cleverly installed so you wouldn’t have to bear the embarrassment of running out of cash. Clever.

eat art truck

a Food Truck story…

Eat Art Truck is one of 10 food trucks to hit Sydney, thanks to Sydney Mayor – Clover Moore.

This began with regulatory changes enabling mobile vendors to take shape and only 10 permits were up for grabs.

Due to overwhelming interest, interested vendors were put through rigorous testing where finalists competed in an ultimate cook off. The competition was judged by a panel of expert food judges where the winners of the permits were announced.

How to find them?

To locate the moving targets, trading hours are updated regularly through their Twitter and Facebook feeds but to access all Food Truck updates in real time. The City of Sydney has recently released a new Food Truck app.

chicken wings

Eat Art Truck is fast becoming one of Sydney’s favourite food trucks and is headed up by Testuya’s ex-sous chef Stuart McGill.

These chicken wings have been getting a lot of air time since its arrival. It boasts a spicy crisp exterior against a succulent interior and a gorgeous creamy mayo laced all over the chicken skin. And for $8 we had 6 massive chicken wings to let loose on. Bargain.

pulled pork bun

Next up, the pulled pork bun. The sweet bun was jam packed with masses of pulled pork. I chose to have the bourbon BBQ sauce rather than the hot chilli sauce and found that the bourbon BBQ was masked by the marinade of the pulled pork. So perhaps, hot chilli next time round? Nevertheless, the bun was still tasty and incredible value for $12. Surely no one could eat all of this in one sitting?

beef brisket bun

The beef brisket bun was less successful. If I had to compare the amount of beef vs. the pork. Beef would lose out.

I also found that the slaw to beef ratio was outweighed by the slaw. It didn’t taste like kimchi and I also couldn’t taste the chilli. By no means did it taste bad, it just didn’t live to up the expectations as advertised.

kingfish sashimi tortilla

The colourful kingfish sashimi was visually so stunning that I caught a lot of food envy from my fellow night noodle-ers!

The fresh kingfish cubes are tender and finds itself coated with lime and chilli. Kingfish morsels are laid on a bed of crunchy tortilla chips and is gloriously laced with the aforementioned mayo sauce.

chicken wings 2

Given its previous success. We unanimously agreed to order a 2nd and 3rd batch of the chicken wings. One wing per head count just will not do!

beef wrapped vine leaves

carmalised pork belly

The beef wrapped in vine leaves didn’t quite do it for me, it was dry and had this processed aftertaste.

Although the pork belly was beautifully soft, fatty and wonderfully caramelised with a delicious rich deep sauce. This went down a hit with the excess sauce soaked into our bed of rice.

noodles w spicy sichuan sauce

Served cold, these noodles were absolutely gorgeous. The noodles were soft and slippery and submerged in the most delicious spicy sichuan sauce finding its way through every strand.

tea smoked duck

It’s difficult not to compare the tea smoked duck to your duck pancake. I always find that the technique of cooking dries the texture of meat, reduces the fattiness and crispiness of  the duck. This was very much the case here. While tasty, my preference lies firmly with my fatty duck pancake.

sichuan pepper beef jerky

The less popular item of the night was the sichuan pepper beef jerky, only because it was scalding hot! A couple of pieces were unbearable and made it difficult to taste the inherent flavours with the chilli overkill.

The Night Noodle Markets was a vast improvement to previous years. Event organisers clearly put a lot of thought into the event by easing the amount of congestion by having more operators and more table settings.

With great weather on our side, buzz in the air and the hum of live jazz tunes. You can’t help but let loose with good company, good food and good wine.

Welcome to the Night Noodle Market, for good times.

Eat Art Truck on Urbanspoon

La Mint on Urbanspoon

Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Porteno is 2 years in the running and already it has risen to the stars. Having recently been crowned at the Good Food Guide awards with the best chefs of the year (Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz), Porteno is also brimming with a 2 hat rating to boot.

Ideal for meat lovers and big groups. It’s Argentinian fare, brought to you by a traditional Parilla (barbecue) and Asado (pit of fire) with carcasses splayed and spinning for your viewing pleasure. This is expertly tended to by Elvis’ dad (Adan Abrahanowicz) and served to you by hot to trot 50’s pin up waitresses.

bbq eggplant

First up, Ensalada Palermo Viejo. Kind of like your pizza look-a-like and is covered in a tahini base with all the roasted trimmings nestled on top it with a gooey quail egg added for good measure.

Emma G ceremoniously did the honours of slicing and dicing (cos she always does this so immaculately) to reveal a delicious resounding crunch of the hard base and it only seemed fitting as she was London bound for an indefinite length of time. Naturally we had to make her pay for it and dish up everything in sight!

tuna

The tuna is cooked to expose a luscious pink in the middle centre and is rested upon this glorious garlic sauce. It is so tasty you could lick the plate and even your mum couldn’t hate you for it. And it all comes covered with asparagus, capers and jalapenos all smokey and charred to give it that added flavour and crunch.

blood sausage

I was pretty impressed with my food eating crew. We all leaped at the opportunity to hack into the blood sausage. Most people get put off by the thought of it. Not us… we practically hoovered it down, not even with the slightest hesitation or an afterthought. It was meaty, smokey and incredibly juicy on the inside.

pig

The 8 hour woodfired pig is justifiably famous and rightfully so. Its moist centre glistens with its own juices and with the fat shining just as bright. It tastes just as sweet. And of course, you can only judge a pig by it’s crackling. With a rock hard blistering exterior and indisputably emphatic crack against your jaw line, there is no arguing that this is the perfect pig.

lamb ribs

While tasty, the 8 hour woodfired lamb but didn’t quite hit the same note as the woodfired pig. I guess I’m just a die hard pink in the middle or (red raw if you will) kind of girl when it comes to my lamb.

polenta

This is so… good, that it has to be bad! The polenta comes out luxuriantly silky and rich that a couple of heaped spoonfuls is just right.

fennal salad

The fennel salad is tasty, textured and wonderfully fragrant.

brussel sprouts

Considered another non-negotiable must have item among Porteno fans.

If you’re not a fan of brussel sprouts, try their fried up and nutty version and it is likely to change your tune. It still has that distinct bitter brussel-ness to it but I can assure you most of the aftertaste subsides.

quince gorgonzola tart

This is not for the faint hearted, it boasts rich and powerful flavours. The quince sits within the gorgeous crumbly base while the gorgonzola cheese is whipped through the muscat ice cream. This is then piped on the tart’s surface. I personally loved the cross between sweet and savoury and find that all the flavours are a perfect accompaniment to one another. But this definitely had a lot of love-hate chit chatter going on at our table.

pav

Probably the best pavlova I’ve ever had and was an easy crowd pleaser among the group. And again, its considered a favourite of Porteno fans.

Unfortunately, the burnt milk custard, orange jam & chocolate ice cream didn’t quite do it for me. I’m not a fan of chocolate orange, so the battle was already lost before it had even begun. And the chocolate was just too rich for me. So really, I’m not really in a position to comment.

burnt milk custard and ice cream

Welcome to Porteno, for Argentinian fare served with Argentinian flare.

Porteño on Urbanspoon

Porteño

02 8399 1440

358 Cleveland Street
Surry Hills, NSW

porteno.com.au

It’s been a year since my last visit and admittedly I was a bit hesitant.

I was brought back by another birthday girl and couldn’t bear to say no. We stopped for a quickie and mysteriously got in during the lunch hour.

Woo… and no lines too!

bread and olive basket

bread basket – complimentary
fat green olives on ice $6.00
Large green olives, black olive tapenade & crispy “music bread”

We were given a complimentary bread  basket while we grazed over the menu. I found that the bread this time round was a vast improvement since my last visit. Crusty and fragrant with a dash of olive oil and herbs.

The green olives were plump and delicious with the olive tapenade positively moorish.

prosciutto, pear and pecorino

It is said that the prosciutto has been hand picked by Jamie Oliver himself all the way in northern Italy. Levoni is rumoured to be dedicated to breeding and cultivating livestock of the highest grade up until its slaughter. With that kind of value proposition I couldn’t very well pass it up, now could I?

The prosciutto came salty, supple and gloriously pink. It’s delicious… yes. But it isn’t the best I have ever had but still… Jamie’s is tasty enough.

The salad was similarly tasty but we were disappointed to be only given 3 slices of pear.

spaghetti bolognese

spaghetti bolognese $12.50
entree size

The spaghetti bolognese was fairly tasty with the pasta al dente and the bolognese rich and meaty. It just had that distinctive tinned tomato aftertaste that made me smack my lips together in question and ask, “Is that aluminimum I taste?”

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One of the things that I love about my job is that everyone at my office, loves food.

My boss is no exception. We regularly talk about food, new places on our hit list and we constantly share recipes and products.

To celebrate our 3 month milestone together, she decided to surprise me at sushi e. If I had I known, I probably would have brought my camera but then it wouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Nonetheless, I still managed to take photos with my iPhone. Given the quality of the my experience here, I couldn’t resist the temptation of putting a post together for you to see.

prawn shumai

prawn shumai $18.5
chinese influenced steamed prawn dumpling with ponzu dipping sauce

Ms G started our order with the prawn shumai, insisting that it was a sushi e must have. I can see why you wouldn’t want to give these dumplings a miss. The prawn fillings were plump and sweet. The wrappers were thin and delicate with the ponzu perfect for dipping.

goma ae

goma ae $13.5
Japanese spinach salad with sesame paste

The spinach was dressed to impress and coated with the most luscious and nutty sesame paste that brought your bland old spinach to something that is worth longing for.

salmon tartare

salmon tartare $25.0
salmon sashimi combined with onion, lemon and mayo then finished with generous serves of salmon roe and cucumber, then dressed with a wasabi ponzu dressing

Chef Nobuyuki Ira said, “the trick to eating this dish is to mix the tartare and roe until it is completely combined. Then use the deep fried wonton wrappers to scoop up the mix”.

Ms G and I gave each other this pained look, as we couldn’t bear the thought of tearing it apart. (I was also concerned that I wouldn’t get my fair share of roe!)

But we did as we were told. We mixed and we scooped.

The result was absolutely mouthwatering, it was outrageous.The explosive pearls, creamy flesh and wonton crisps made us get over our guilt trip, post-haste. Reminding me distinctively of the sashimi taco at Sake Restaurant.

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Notorious for its monstrous line that whirls itself down Goulburn Street and at times, past Dixon street. The sight in itself should be enough to put anyone off Mamak. But the promise of their cheap and cheerful eats is now legendary. It just keeps everyone coming in single file.

I’d like to hit rewind for a moment to when I stumbled across afoodstory. I still remember it to this day. I found their Mamak post on their blog and it left me dying to go. I loved their blog and read it with fond admiration. One of the many blogs that inspired me to start up my very own.

When I met them at a bloggers dinner I was pretty thrilled! I had to confess that in spite of reading their Mamak post, I still hadn’t made it there. So we made a pinky swear that we would go together!

Hit fast forward and here I am sitting with Lex and Dylan and it seems quite surreal, to be sitting here with ‘the’ exact same bloggers that I had read about in that post!

roti canai

Lex is an expert Mamak goer and you can tell. She knows exactly what to order and every single word off the menu rolls off her tongue.

First up, the roti canai. It promises to be fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside and it doesn’t disappoint.

chicken satay

The satay sticks is a quintessential must have item. The chicken skewers are juicy, tender and packed with flavour from the marinade and charcoal. The peanut sauce is the right amount of sweet and spicy, I mean… there are just no words. It was so good, I literally ‘ate’ the sauce, with the bowl in one hand and the spoon in the other. Lex, Dyl and Brazil weren’t far behind either.

The only draw back was that we felt short-changed when the chicken sticks arrived. According to Lex and Dyl, they have definitely downsized on their servings since their last visit. Slightly disappointed, we move on and we order another batch.

nasi lemak

After a recent visit to Malaysia and Borneo, I ate this gem morning, noon and night. It is arguably Malaysia’s national breakfast dish but you can find it any time of the day due to its popularity.

I wanted to have the Nasi Lemak with chicken so I could rate the authenticity of flavours and likeness to the dish back in Malaysia and it was absolutely spot on.

drinks

The tea tarik is a wonderful recreation of the popular Malaysian drink. With its signature frothy top, this baby is as authentic as its gets. It is so damn comforting, you can’t but help sigh at every sip.

The milo tea is another typical Malaysian tea and is accurately represented here. The tea is also tasty but I only have eyes for the tea tarik.

roti telur - egg

Roti telur is just as tasty but it doesn’t have the same textural contrasts as the roti canai. The roti encased a fluffy egg filling and it is served with two curry sauces and a spicy sambal sauce. The curry sauces are pleasant enough but all my love heads straight for that little blob of spicy sambal sauce.

rojak

Rojak plays a bit of visual trickery on you. You don’t even know what it is when it comes out. But it is a salad alright.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really tickle anyone’s fancy. I found it overly drenched in the spicy peanut sauce, that it overwhelmed the other elements of the dish.

ayam berempah

Ayam berempah is like Malaysian KFC with the added flavours of star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves infused into the skin. The chicken skin was nice and crispy with the resounding crunch to every bite. But KFC will always be my first true love. No contest.

cendol 1

cendol 2

This is a very typical asian dessert with the jelly like morsels swimming in a soupy syrup/milk with shaved ice on top. I wholeheartedly enjoyed this dessert but I think you may need an asian palate to truly appreciate this.

roti kaya

Brazil had his heart firmly set on the sweet roti. The sweet buttery roti was filled with a pandan and coconut spread, showcasing the roti’s versatility. Again, the roti did not disappoint and this was hands down the crowd favourite.

Welcome to Mamak, for some cheap, cheerful and authentic Malaysian that’s worth the line and the wait.

Mamak on Urbanspoon

Mamak

02 9211 1668

15 Goulburn St
Haymarket, NSW

Quarter Twenty One is now closed.

This is Chefs Club, where 6 Chefs offer six set menus (with wine) for $30, every Tuesday.

Note: the entree and main shown here is not available on the al la carte menu.

cured beef

cured beef, picked mushroom, smoked celeriac & madeira

It was a stunning start with the beautiful slivers of cured beef laying there with its bright blushing red centre.The delicate droplets of smoked celeriac was a creamy and buttery touch that softened the intensity of the cured beef.

roast pig

roast leg of suckling pig, parsnip, brussels sprouts & honey clove jus

What makes a perfect roast pig? Tender pieces of pork? Check.

Crackling that’s crisp and that beautiful blubber of fat that lines it. Check, check.

What a glorious little piece of suckling pig. There are no words other than, you have lived and served me well piggy.

bombe

Passionfruit & vanilla bombe, yoghurt, candied macadamia, rhubarb sorbet $17

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