Category Archives: Food Safari Days

Pho An @ Bankstown Restaurant Review: ‘So Pho, So Good!’

What a way to spend a Monday evening!

After a whole day of house cleaning and re-organising my wardrobe, changing over the Winter clothes for the Spring, I was tired but pleased that I had used my day off very productively and managed to burn off some calories from working the vacuum – that I was ready for our ‘Food Safari’ adventures with Hubby in the evening with our fellow Food Safari hunters/organisers – Lambo and Maz.

Tonight was ‘Pho Night’ and Miss Maz, whose is from a Vietnamese background, has been telling me forever about this ‘best Pho place!’ and that I just had to go try it out. (A rave review from a Vietnamese native who has sampled Pho in Vietnam and also makes it So having our Monday evening set aside, Hubby and I was looking forward to this place where it was so highly spoken about ….especially from someone who knows and loves her Pho!

After several ‘adventurous’ incidents on route to Bankstown – we thank God that we made it there in one piece, as we were craving for a large hot bowl of Pho! :)

Parking was very handy as there was a large parking lot next door to ‘An Pho’ and later discover that whilst we did drive quite a long way to get there, to actually consume a bowl of Pho was probably the same amount of time to walk to and from the car park… VERY FAST! ( So just a hint readers: This place is not for you to dwell and hang around if you know what I mean – especially during the ‘peak’ lunch times! )

We had so much anticipation on eating here – as Lambo and Maz kept raving on how good it was and that this drive out on a Monday night was well worth every litre of petrol! ( Which I might add made Lambo do all sorts of crazy driving getting us there, such as making a right turn but ignoring the speeding on coming traffic – argh!)

As we turned onto the street where the restaurant was, I noticed a large building with a brightly lit restaurant which had a sign outside reading ‘ Pho An ~ So Far So Good’ I thought to myself ‘ How cheesy is that!’ to my amusement, that Maz exclaimed ‘ Oh thats where we are eating!’ ”Oh ~ ” I thought…. and giggled inside.

Upon entering, I noticed that there was two doors – ‘Entry’ on the left and ‘Exit’ on the right. ‘Wow ~ how organised’ I thought.

Next thing we knew, we were escorted to our table and had the waiter shadow behind us and from the corner of my eye, I saw that his PDA was ready and finger in hand – poised. He was ready.

Having already discussed in the car on our way over, we were organised and decided what we had wanted to eat. Maz said that they are fast and serving nothing much other than Pho ( pronounced ‘ Fur ‘ ) in it’s specialty and acclaimed ‘secret’ soup, ‘Traditional Northern Style Vietnamese special rice noodle soup’ we just had to decide whether I wanted the ‘small ‘ or ‘large’ size and which part of the ‘beef’ I had wanted in it…
I went for the ‘original’ which was just the rare beef which I liked to cook in the hot broth to keep the flavours and tenderness of the meat. My Hubby went for the ‘duc bit’ which contained ‘no duck’ but just the ‘special’ beef bits – such as: brisket, beef roll, flank and tripe. Very special indeed. He also of course added in his favourite Vietnamese cold drink/dessert : Three Colour Bean Sweet in a Parfait Glass with shaved ice. I personally love this drink too – always reminds me of happy childhood days, especially with the tri-coloured syrup over the ‘igloo-sque’ ice crush with the squiggly green chendol and red jelly swimming in the coconut milk. Happy times!

What was also renowned here at ‘An’ apart from their delcious and simply addictive soup (urban myths saids their secret ingredient is of a ‘herb’ of an addictive kind which Amesterdam would have approved….) but what I was also amused upon my visit was the efficiency of this place. Food and service is made at LIGHTNING speed – worthy of a good ‘F1′ pit stop for all you F1 fans out there..

After ordering and seeing our speedy waiter tap it all in his PDA, my Hubby turns to get the camera out of his bag and after only fiddling the aperture and settings, he turns back to find that his large bowl of ‘Duc Bit’ or known as ‘ Beef Combination’ noodles and all our orders has arrived steaming hot to the table! Amazing! This is why they are also called ‘ McPho !’ :)

Snapping our food quickly before our soup goes cold ( My pet hates: Luke warm coffee and luke warm soups – hence I wanted to dig in as soon as I can and dunk my rare beef straight below the steaming hot broth.)

Our slurping and silence was the indication how good the noodles were and the soup was – as advised I first taste the soup without adding the addition sauces to sample it as a ‘pho purist’. It was very flavoursome and hits the comfort spot square bang in the middle! *Sigh* Nothing like a bowl of Pho on a Monday night with friends…. and adding more of the hoisin and chilli sauce to adjust the taste of my soup with a squeeze of lime, I was in a ‘happy place’ ( Wondered if the ‘special happy herb’ had anything to do with this natural high….) ;)

Thanks also to Lamb, who suggested that I MUST try dipping the beef with the self made Sate sauce. It was just so sublime – the rich tang of the chilli with the mellowing chilli oil was just a perfect condiment with the slices of ‘just cooked’ beef. I was in love!
Best still – this stuff was on sale for about $3.00 a jar at the counter!

Overall, the Pho An experience which I could say was enjoyed with a smile and a tummy full of noodles. It was indeed well worth the drive and God forbid an addiction to An’s … for it is a LONG drive from the North to here!

Tips:
Sharing is not allowed at this joint – ( no pun intended) but as we discussed it would be possible to share a large bowl of Pho between friends, you will find that this will cost you an extra $3.00 for a bowl. Unless of course you are super close with your friends and family and do it cheap communal style… or just avoid being cheap and get your own bowl! ;)

Free parking lot next door – plenty during the time when we were there on a Monday night. Not too sure if it is during the day!

This delicious 'Pho An Sate' did wonders to my Pho and taste buds..... Soooo tasty! Reminds me of the 'hawker styled' chilli sate served at Macau/HK eateries. So good!

This delicious 'Pho An Sate' did wonders to my Pho and taste buds..... Soooo tasty! Reminds me of the 'hawker styled' chilli sate served at Macau/HK eateries. So good!

The entry, arranged with 'exit' and 'entry' for precision logistic flow.... Guess this is handy during the mad peak lunch feeding frenzy....

The entry, arranged with 'exit' and 'entry' for precision logistic flow.... Guess this is handy during the mad peak lunch feeding frenzy....

Almost at Formula 1 driving precision - the kitchen and drink bars are prepared for a split second 'order to table' service at lightning speed....

Almost at Formula 1 driving precision - the kitchen and drink bars are prepared for a split second 'order to table' service at lightning speed....

The array of 'cheng do' ( green jelly) and iced bean drinks with tri-coloured drinks all prepared and ready to go....Service is at neck breaking speed here!

The array of 'cheng do' ( green jelly) and iced bean drinks with tri-coloured drinks all prepared and ready to go....Service is at neck breaking speed here!

The two different sizes ~ $13.50 for the large or 50c less for the small.... I thought it was better deal to get the large, even if you don't finish it. My Hubby cleaned up the large bowl in less than 10 mins!

The two different sizes ~ $13.50 for the large or 50c less for the small.... I thought it was better deal to get the large, even if you don't finish it. My Hubby cleaned up the large bowl in less than 10 mins!

Hot, brothy, coriander and loaded with tender thin slices of beef, swimming in a jumble of silky white rice noodles...... Slurpin' silky goodness!

Hot, brothy, coriander and loaded with tender thin slices of beef, swimming in a jumble of silky white rice noodles...... Slurpin' silky goodness!

Pho An Sate

Pho An entry

Pho An 4

Pho An 1

Pho An Restaurant
27 Greenfield Parade
Bankstown, 2200
Website: http://www.anrestaurant.com.au
Telephone
02 97967826

Ching Yip Coffee Lounge Review: Hong Kong style cafe food in the heart of Sydney.

Love kitsch?

Love ‘old-skool’ H.K diners that seemed to have froze in time back in the late 80′s?

Then this awesome ‘hide-away’ cafe serving some authentic Hong Kong ‘fast food cafe’ style food is the place to be!

This funky little cafe sprung back into my mind as I was reading one of my favourite blogs ‘Grab Your Fork’ when it mentioned about this cafe I had forgotten temporarily. As I read the review, I was immediately transported back to my high school daze, as though it was  like an old MTV replaying in my head… I remembered those ‘cool’ days, rocking out my ripped Levi 501′s, Hound Dog t-shirt and Stussy skater shoes – when my besties and I would catch the L90 bus out from Dee Why and venture out to the City and make a day of it. I would of course also show them around Chinatown – and how I would introduce them to the retro HK food at ‘Ching Yip’ or better known as ‘Tim Tim’ in Cantonese ( meaning: ‘Sweet Sweet’) Sweet! :) Those were the days…. and revisiting this cafe was almost like stepping back 10 years into time -as nothing looked like it has changed much. Same was the neon pink lettering sign that gives the whole entry a soft and retro glow,same are ‘tacky’ plastic flowers for decor and best yet is the cylinder cake fridge which does not display any cakes – but an ‘artistically’ arrangement of lemons. ( I assume they ran out of space in the kitchen and could kill two birds with a stone by combining storage vs. art) With such a large amount of lemons stacked up – one can only assume these are gathered and used for the very popular HK cafe style drinks which always asks for slices of lemons: ceylon red tea, hot lemon coke and ever popular ‘lemon water’ ( Yes. Basically it is boiling water with a slice of lemon and you add the packet of white sugar…delightful!)

Ching Yip Lemon Tea

Infamous lemon display work of art...

Infamous lemon display work of art...

Now onto the food.

The food is awesome. Nothing spectacular but in every way, comforting in the sense that it appeals to my ‘Hong Kong cafe style food’ liking. It is non pretentious, it is not fancy but just tasty and ‘sloppy’ food. Sloppy, not in the way it is bad – but just how HK cafe style food IS good for and I love that. The Hubby’s order was a ‘Baked Pork Chop Rice’ This is the ‘safe option’ at most Chinese cafes – as it really should be a ‘no fail’ ( Or at least that is how you can test the cafe’s quality and authenticity) So in this case…. ‘Sloppy’ tomato sauce covered rice with all the ‘kitsch’ goodness of the slightly ‘baked/burnt’ marks over the sauce which covers a huge piece of fried pork cutlet that is flavour-somed yet tender and somehow a perfect compliment with the frozen peas and corn fried rice underneath. Genius!

Ching Yip Pork Chop Rice Ching Yip Cafe Soup Ching Yip Cafe 2

This is accompanied by the ‘Daily Soup’ which both The Hubby and I get with our meals. What I also love is the ‘Soup Of The Day’ that accompanies the dinner sets and makes the meal out in this cafe so homely. Tonight the soup is a Chinese styled broth made with generous amount of lean pork and pork bones and some ‘unidentified vegetables’ which was lovely with bites of soft pearly barley for texture. The colour is a bit dull, but this is the kind of soup that taste better than it looks. I love how something as simple as the ‘Daily soup’ can be comforting to me -growing up in a Chinese house hold and visiting my Grandma’s place, being offered a bowl of ‘home made soup’ as you come home from school or from visits to Grandma’s place – soup is like a ‘warm hug’ and that is so nourishing. :)

Although the soup at Ching Yip is nothing as ‘sweet’ or as nourishing as the way my Grandma and my Mum makes her soup – the bowl I was served on this rainy evening, warmed me up none the less.

My friends, a lovely couple from my church who came to dinner with The Hubby and I ordered some stirred fried noodles with lean pork strips and pickled cabbage and ‘Special Set Menu Of The Day: Chicken with special sauce on rice + daily soup. This was the same as what I ordered.

Ching Yip Noodles Ching Yip Chicken rice Ching Yip Chicken 2 Ching Yip Cafe 4

The stirred fried noodles with lean pork and pickled cabbage looked delicious as it arrived promptly to the table. It was indeed ‘ sloppy’ and the sauce glistened with the generous portion of chubby egg noodles scattered with pieces of pork. From the ‘MMmmmmm~!’ coming from Mrs P – she gave the smile of approval and ate the dish happily.

Mr. D’s and I ordered the same ‘Set Menu Of The Day’ and the Chicken with special sauce came out quick and fast.

Our crispy skinned 1/4  chicken with a good cover of a ‘mysterious’ brown sauce was served on a bed of fluffy white rice. The size was very generous and I was thinking I would not be able to finish – yet I dig in and curious to know what the ‘brown sauce’ was. ( We guessed it was most likely chicken gravy seasoned with the ‘Maggi’ sauce)  The taste was definitely as I expected – similar to something I would have eaten at Hong Kong’s most popular chain cafe franchise ‘Cafe de Coral’ ( Hubby and my favourite cheap eat’s in HK on a budget)

Mr. D loved his ‘brown sauce’ so much – he inquired for more from the kitchen. Calling out to the ‘party of waitresses’ standing by chatting, they happily gave us a full bowl of sauce – The Hubby thought he would be as ‘charming’ as people are in HK – addressing the lovely waitresses as ‘ Excuse me pretty lady!’ *cringe* but somehow a bit of flattery went along way, as the sauce we were given was in a large soup bowl, which I jokingly said to Mr. D ‘ I think they are expecting you to drink it like soup with a spoon!’ :)

Ching Yip Sauce

Overall – my re-visit to ‘Ching Yip Coffee Lounge’ was very pleasant and even had Mr. D and Mrs. P wishing to come back again soon to sample more of their kitsch menu offerings. Already we are happy to try out the cheap $6.00 breakfasts of toasts with a bowl of soupy macaroni and choice of hot or iced cold Ovaltine. This is VERY H.K and we all love it!

With our tummies full and smiles all round from our ‘HK cafe’ experience – both from the decent food at a very decent price ( $20 for Hubby and my meal and I think we even got change for it…) Our band of waitresses bid us farewell ( how polite!) and as we take our last glance at the lemon cabinet with a few jokes… we get in the elevator time machine and transport ourselves back to 2009.

For a visit back in time ~ be sure to give this cheesy H.K cafe a visit. ( Sense of humour and an appreciation of ‘sloppy’ HK style food required)

Enjoy!


CHING YIP COFFEE LOUNGE       
L2, DIXON HOUSE, 413 SUSSEX ST, CHINATOWN

Opening

7 DAYS, 9.00AM-8.30PM
P:9281 1591

(No bookings required ~ spontaneous rock up is best!)

Pilu Kiosk Review – Suckling Pig on Sonoma Bread Sandwiches/Panini’s with the gorgeous ocean view.

With my Aunt Carol, Uncle Ray and my little cousin Ian visiting from Hong Kong, I wanted to take them to a place for lunch where you can soak up as much of this beautiful weather we have been having in Sydney lately plus a place where we can take our Monday at a slow and leisurely pace…..

Beautiful ocean views of Freshwater Beach from Pilu Kiosk

Beautiful ocean views of Freshwater Beach from Pilu Kiosk

So with this in mind, it wasn’t very hard to decide that we should head down to Freshwater Beach ( one of my favourite beaches for a dip in Summer) but always a favourite even to just come and look out at the wide ocean, take in the warm salty sea air and to soak up as much sun for a fix of Vitamin E ( or whatever vitamin you get from the sun…!! Just make sure you have sun screen on!)

Freshwater Beach is already an ‘A-class’ beach in my books – but what makes it even more inviting is that one of the best Sydney restaurants, Pilu is also situated right on beach front.

With raving reviews of the high caliber of food created by Chef and owner, Giovanni Pilu ( his first restaurant was at Cala Luna where he introduced Sydney to Sardinian specialties like oven roasted suckling pig and linguine bottarga.)

Both my Husband and I have yet to try the actual restaurant ( we tried to book it once for Valentines Day, to our disappointment it was completely booked out!) Even my parents have sampled lunch there once with my Uncle visiting from Hong Kong and that they kept raving on about how delicious the suckling pig was for days!

So when I heard that Giovanni had opened up a smaller (and more affordable) cafe next door to Pilu – conveniently named ‘Pilu Kiosk’, I knew I had to get down there to sample the fare and I love how I could also turn up without needing to book! :)

We arrive at Pilu Kiosk at around 1.00pm on a Monday and found parking super easy as there was ample parking spots at the beach. ( We had a Warringah Council sticker which meant it was free! Yay!)

The little sitting area on the front deck of Pilu Kiosk.

The little sitting area on the front deck of Pilu Kiosk.

The cafe/kiosk was super cute in size – I had a feeling that I had just rocked up at my friend’s nearby beach house with simple design of an outdoor oversized porch dotted with a few small tables and chairs.
The layout is pretty ‘cosy’ – most people who was sitting were in pairs ( plus their puppy) as the size of the table and seating was not really catered for large parties or group of fives like us, however we were more than happy to do ‘take out’ and re-locate to more spacious settings at a picnic table/gazebo on the grass facing the beach.

pilu menu

Their chalk board menu was scribbled with some delicious delights… but my eye went straight for the ‘suckling pig panini’s served on some yummy Sonoma breads. ( Yum!)
What also caught my attention was the Salt & Pepper Calamari with chips and aioli ( Mmmm…) Honestly, I do not think our beach side lunch would be complete without a bit of greasy chips and fried seafood to complement our ‘healthier option’ of the panini’s….

As I was ordering the savories…. my eyes darted towards the sweets that was displayed directly above the panini’s…. ‘Nutella Tarts’ Without much thought I order two. ( One for my little cousin Ian and one for my Hubby and I to share….well kinda as I found out later I would want more than half!)

Delicious, buttery and chocolatey/Nutella tart pastry........Mmmm.

Delicious, buttery and chocolatey/Nutella tart pastry........Mmmm.

Pulling apart the warm Nutella tart...with the chocolately goodness oozing out....

Pulling apart the warm Nutella tart...with the chocolately goodness oozing out....

The suckling pork sandwich was perfectly moist with the wholegrain mayonaise and fresh butter lettuce all held together with the chewy and crunching sensation of the Sonoma grain breads. ‘CCCCcccrunch!!!…Chew! Chew! Chew! Smile’ was the eating order as my Hubby and I share our moreish Pork Panini. Feeling that one sandwich was properly a fail decision of under ordering, I run back up to order a ‘Roast Vegie Panini’ which the Hubby turned out loving even more than the pork with the generous antipasto filling of artichokes, eggplant and capsicum. Yum!

Suckling pig sandwich ~ delciously moist and crunchy with the Sonoma bread.

Suckling pig sandwich ~ delciously moist and crunchy with the Sonoma bread.

The only slight let down of this lunch was the overtly salty Calamari – while it seemed like the thing to order near the ocean, I expected this to be done exceptionally well, yet it turned out to be most disappointing when at first bite I thought I had fell face down into a pile of salt. Getting my Uncle and even my little cousin, Ian to sample – everyone had agreed that it was way too salty to be palatable.
IMG_2327
Thankfully, the manager did take it back ( at first reluctantly) and made me a new batch with no added salt. ( Apparently I was supposed to know to ask them not to add salt…(???) Great – accuse the customer for not wanting to eat super salty calamari… ) Surprised at how the manager would appeared a little annoyed that I took it back, she was quick to make me a new batch and suggested I sprinkle my own salt on, which ironically the salt she gave me in a separate container blew away not long after I had settled it back down on our picnic table. Oh well ~ who needs the added sodium intake anyways??

After a very enjoyable lunch, it was just about sitting back and enjoying the view. Watching my little cousin Ian, happy and playing by rolling around in the grass was a beautiful sight. Complete freedom and unquestionable joy as he just giggled each time he rolled and stood up dizzy. I love that pure and simple joy. Reminds me that we should all attain this more – simple joy and a sense of freedom to roll around in the grass after lunch… if you want to! :)
IMG_2311

Today was a beautiful day spent at a gorgeous place enjoying good food with the people I love – this day will definitely stand out with the many which I will cherish forever.

Love
Eve x

ps) Thought I would mention this place has a brekky menu too – and with a view like Freshwater Beach, it would be an ideal breakfast meeting place anytime of the week! They have freshly baked muffins which is always a winner! x

Verdict:

Atmosphere: With a gorgeous ocean view and laid back locals – this is a perfect ‘chillaxing’ place. BYO picnic rug during Spring/Summer for your own ‘private seating’ on the grass lawn outside.

Outstanding: Pork sandwich and the Nutella tart! I could easily eat 3! :)

Parking: Ample! Meter parking but free if you have the Warringah Council sticker.
Bring your puppy ~ it is pet friendly with water bowls for your four legged friends!

Tip: BYO picnic rug and swimmers + towel for a quick dip!

Address: ‘On the Beach’,
Moore Road, Harbord NSW 2096
Telephone: (02) 9938 3331
Fax: (02) 9939 1355

The Peking Restaurant Review – Authentic flavours of Beijing with ‘*A-grade service’ at Beverly Hills.

*The ‘A’ stands for ‘Authenticity’… in the warm reception we received upon arrival.

The ‘authenticity’ is in the ‘Asian-style’ service which sadly was the poor management and the ‘warmth’ was the temperature rising within me as I was told we had to wait for the table which we had booked for at 7.30pm.

This was not a good sign.

My family was hungry and we had drove all the way from the North to try out out this place, especially my parents was looking forward to it since they saw their advertisements  on ‘TVBJ’ ( an Asian Cable TV channel)

It was definitely authentic …..

Authentic because like many restaurants in Asia, patrons were literally ‘hovering’ over sitting patrons while they eat as you look down upon them like ‘Table hungry vultures’. This was very authentic indeed. For a few moments, I felt like I was transported to Beijing and was not in Beverly Hills, Sydney. ( I must have been hallucinating from hunger or completely fuming at this stage…)

We had discovered, arriving at 7.30pm on the dot meant nothing for our 7.30pm booking. What added to the ‘rising temperature’ boiling within me was not the fact that  my family and I were made to wait and had to stand amongst the diners in a crowed restaurant …my Dad was at one point squashed next to some plastic pot plants near the entrance- which in hindsight was quite amusing as he looked like he was lost in some ‘plastic jungle’ – sadly didn’t get a photo…would have been funny :) ( Good that we still found this humorous… as it was really getting beyond a joke)

The ‘authentic’ decor – which included a plasma T.V hanging over the cash counter, was playing ‘Australian Idol’  …on mute (?!)It did  managed to distract us temporarily from our rumbling stomach but about 8.00pm,  I was getting pretty peeved off….both at why Kyle Sandilands was still on ‘Idol’ but more so at why our table was still not available!

What really added to my frustration was after waiting for more than half and hour and not given an apology as we got told we would get the  ‘next available table’ -  another family that was hovering nearby ‘OUR’ table – impolitely, very swiftly and totally un-apologetically  *gasp!*sat down!

My jaw almost fell opened – as I was in disbelief in what just happened. While my family had stood for more than 40 minutes crammed up against the wall in this ‘very popular’ packed restaurant…. to witness another family stoop on OUR table! *double gasps!*

What was WORST – is that our waiter and the Manager who had seen the whole scenario take place – DID NOTHING about it!  *What the?!* Barely apologising about the whole ‘table snatching’ we were even advised not to argue with the patrons Table Snatchers – and that they will get us our table within the next 5 minutes….. I was quite over it by then.

I was hungry and I really wanted some food. ( Darn it  how the Peking Duck that was being skinned before us – looked so delectably glossy and moist…. and the food that was being carried out by the flustered waiters was enticing enough for me control my temper…. and stay. Oh how I wished I could have been strong enough….but alas the Peking duck had me in its traps…..I feel so ‘cheap’ ;) *breathe in…..breathe out….* :) )

Thankfully, it was only another 5 minutes as promised that another table was made available. ( I could see the ‘hint’ for each table to leave was the ‘fruit’ they strategically place onto your table with the bill….this I might add is another practice that makes this place ‘so authentic’ ! :) )

My goodness… I just realised I have blogged and about 600 words into my review… and I have not mentioned about the food yet. ( Don’t worry… it is coming and thankfully was also their saving grace…)

So after all this drama – THANKFULLY the food was GOOD.

Upon seating… we get given our plate of complimentary peanuts. ( Temperature of annoyance is slowing cooling off….)
Peking Peanuts

Fried Dace with black beans and capsicums. Very tasty dish - although as commented by my Mum, is a very simple dish to make. This was the first dish to arrive and we lapped it all up in a flash! Mum was also inspired to recreate it at home with a 'childhood staple' of canned 'Fried Dace Fish in Black Bean Sauce' I am normally not fond of canned foods - especially after the health scare from China made goods. However, this dish brings back alot of memories of eating this straight out of the can with a steaming bowl of white rice. I googled and found a cool link to a blog with a receipe. Looks simple enough to try! :)

I ‘googled’ and managed to find a really cool blog ‘Babe In The City’ with a Fried Dace with Black Bean receipe – looks simple and delicious enough to try – http://babeinthecitykl.blogspot.com/2007/04/stir-fried-kailan-with-pork-and-fried.html

Next was my favourite dishes of the evening…. and since the arrival, I have somehow managed to completely forget about the 45 minute wait… and Kyle Sandilands on ‘Idol’….

Peking Mantou2Peking Mantou1

Fluffy soft 'mantous' .... makes me forget about the drama before.... 45 minute wait?!? What was that anyways?...............'Nom!Nom!Nom!'

Fluffy soft 'mantous' .... makes me forget about the drama before.... 45 minute wait?!? What was that anyways?...............'Nom!Nom!Nom!'

Peking MantouPost eating up almost the entire plate of the ‘Mantou’s – the Fish in Chilli Oil comes next………..

This dish arrived at our table and everyone was 'Wow!' and I was thinking ' Thank God this did not just spill all over me as the waitress who was struggling to carrying to the table looked a bit shakey...'Burning oil laden with chilli and fish does not come out easily in the wash...or skin' That aside - this dish was D-elicious and yes... again I will happily wait for 45 minutes for this. I kid you not. The fish was as tender and silky in texture - does not even taste 'oily' considering it was soaking in it ( you get a strainer ladle with the dish to 'fish' the fish out........) The taste is both 'numbing' with the numbing peppercorns and the dried chilli just gives an incredible explosion in your mouth and palette.... fish is almost like 'tofu' but beautiful in the taste.... Amazing. *Be warned - this intense aroma of the cloves, chillis and peppercorn will seep into your hair...clothes...everything! Wear something you don't require dry cleaning if and when trying this dish!*

This dish arrived at our table and everyone was ‘Wow!’ and I was thinking ‘ Thank God this did not just spill all over me as the waitress who was struggling to carrying to the table looked a bit shakey…’Burning oil laden with chilli and fish does not come out easily in the wash…or skin’ That aside – this dish was D-elicious and yes… again I will happily wait for 45 minutes for this. I kid you not. The fish was as tender and silky in texture – does not even taste ‘oily’ considering it was soaking in it ( you get a strainer ladle with the dish to ‘fish’ the fish out……..) The taste is both ‘numbing’ with the numbing peppercorns and the dried chilli just gives an incredible explosion in your mouth and palette…. fish is almost like ‘tofu’ but beautiful in the taste…. Amazing. *Be warned – this intense aroma of the cloves, chillis and peppercorn will seep into your hair…clothes…everything! Wear something you don’t require dry cleaning if and when trying this dish!*

This dish arrived at our table and everyone was ‘Wow!’ and I was thinking ‘ Thank God this did not just spill all over me as the waitress who was struggling to carrying to the table looked a bit shakey…’Burning oil laden with chilli and fish does not come out easily in the wash…or skin’ I thought briefly.

That aside – this dish was D-elicious and yes… again I will happily wait for 45 minutes for this. I kid you not. The fish was as tender and silky in texture – does not even taste ‘oily’ considering it was soaking in it ( you get a strainer ladle with the dish to ‘fish’ the fish out……..) The taste is both ‘numbing’ with the numbing peppercorns and the dried chilli just gives an incredible explosion in your mouth and palette…. fish is almost like ‘tofu’ but beautiful in the taste…. Amazing.

*Warning: – the intense aroma of the cloves, chillis and peppercorn will seep into your hair…clothes…everything! Wear something you don’t require dry cleaning if and when trying this dish! My favourite blazer I wore that night is still smelling like the restaurant……….*cry*

Close up of the tender fish pieces from the Chilli Oil. The 'yellow bean sprouts' that is at the bottom of the bowl of this dish is also very tasty and compliments the soft fish with a nice 'crunch' - as the sprouts also soaks up all the flavours from the oil.

Close up of the tender fish pieces from the Chilli Oil. The 'yellow bean sprouts' that is at the bottom of the bowl of this dish is also very tasty and compliments the soft fish with a nice 'crunch' - as the sprouts also soaks up all the flavours from the oil.

Our long awaited dish..... surprisingly good and worth the wait, drama + everything else.....

Our long awaited dish..... surprisingly good and worth the wait, drama + everything else.....

After our ‘star dish’ of the juiciest and most succulent Peking Duck wrapped in the warm flour pan cakes married with the sweet hoisin sauce and slithers of shallots and cucumber – we were all smiling from ear to ear. Considering the duck costs $58.00 – we were all stuffed and had plenty to share with no one really needing to ‘fight’ for their portion as each had about 4 – 5 pancakes each! Awesome!

Peking duck soup

This was followed with the ‘duck broth’ made from the duck bones from our Peking duck – funny how it came after the meal, but needless to say we had no room on our table – nor in our stomachs at this stage. I take a few spoonfuls anyways just to sample it – it was definitely flavoursome in duck… and the fresh coriander leaves breaks up the slight gamey duck taste. I think I preferred my ‘Hurn Pin’ green tea as a digestive before desert than the soup………

peking desertPeking desert 1

While everyone was rubbing their swelling bellies – I was determined to try their desert that Mum was raving on about. ( She has seen the ad and said one of their glutinous rice desert was a ‘must try’) The Hubby and Dad was pretty much packed to the brim – but didn’t need much convincing for them to eat it as it came to our table looking all ‘chubby’ with the dough all rolled up with red bean paste with a dusting of the ‘bean powder’ Everyone complimented that it wasn’t ‘anything special’ – but I enjoyed it as I love Asian desert with a bit of ‘chewy mochi’ texture… and given this wasn’t too sweet, it was a good way to finish the meal. Afterall, by the time we had finished our meal… the restaurant atmosphere was alot calmer… hence I guess was the reason we never got our plate of complimentary fruit with our bill…..

As we got our bill – my Mum also purchases a ‘duck bone/shell’ for $3.00 as it was advertised in Chinese on the walls. Mum was happy that she can also take some duck bones home to make ‘congee’ with for tomorrow’s night ‘lighter meal’ for dinner. On reporting this the following night – the duck bones was worth getting as there was still plenty of meat on the bones, perfect for flavour with the congee – and enough meat for a ‘pickled vegetable and roast duck’ vermicelli! My Mum is a genius! ( Will post up pictures of her creations soon!)

Love
Eve x

Verdict & hints:

Very poor management and service ( or lack of ) aside – go anyways and experience what it truly feels like to be dining at an ‘Authentic Chinese’ restaurant and taste some of the best duck you will find in Sydney. ( This is in my opinion of course… and my Dad’s who has worked in the Chinese restaurant industry for years and has a stubborn palate for good food.)

- If booking – book earlier and GO earlier. (We found out that a table reserved for 8.00pm – turned up at 7.00pm and they allowed him to take it….*grumble at lack of booking system*)

- Parking in side street as King Georges Road is pretty busy and could be packed most of the time.

- Bring cash. ( It’s authentic…)

- Be prepared to wait or hover… :)

The Peking Restaurant
493 King Georges Road Beverly Hills NSW
Phone: 02 9570 5131
Open Monday to Thursday 12:30-10:00
Friday 12:30-10:30
Saturday and Sunday 11:00-12:00; 10:30-10:30
CASH ONLY
BOOKING DOESN’T NECESSARILY COUNT…. :)

Sagunja Sushi Restaurant Review – $2.50 for all plates! Best cheap eats in Chatswood.

saguna sushi intro

Sagunja Sushi situated below Hoyts Cinema at the Mandarin Center in Chatswood, has become one of our favourite places for lunch after church on the Sundays.

Being very conveniently located below the cinemas where we host our services for church as part of the Hillsong Chinese Chatswood Extension, my Hubby and friends tend to always choose this place for the quick and easy lunch with the added bonus that it is both a thrifty and healthier option than what is offer at the Mandarin Food Court.

Healthy because it is made of freshest sashimi available ( there is a huge turn over rate to ensure that the seafood in particular is fresh and is not the left over stale bits…) Thrifty and so economically friendly, is that all the sushi on their ‘conveyor belt’ is $2.50 for ALL plates. I kid you not! All plates of sushi – including fresh scallops, salmon and king fish sashimi as well as the tastiest soft shell crab is going for $2.50each!

This was our major draw card – as we found it hard to believe at first and on our first vist, we were very self concious of how many dishses we would eat… But after confirming from the friendly staff that all dishes regardless of the fresh tangerine fleshy salmon sashimi to the semi-torched scallops to our favourite soft shell crab… we just went NUTS and started grabbing plates off the belt faster than you can say ‘ More soft shell crab please!’ :)

So on this Sunday – which would mark my 4th time in a row this month for our post service lunch, Sagunja does not fail to deliver a perfect and delicious lunch for under $15 per person. ( We spilt bills with a few friends as we attacked at least 20+ plates of sushi) By the end of it, we were happily full and had our fix of sushi for the week – this was including endless supply of wasabi and pickled ginger and a hot mug of re-fillable green tea. ‘Oyshi desu ne!’ :)

Sagunja also does an a larte carte menu with hot udon noodles, ramen and rice bento boxes available.

M favourite sushi:

- Soft shell crab roll. Delicious with the inside out rice and seaweed roll. Love the added touch of egg and optional mayonaise.

- Torched scallops with mayonaise. This is when the freshest juiciest scallops are served on sushi rice with ‘squiggles’ of mayonaise on top before it is given a ‘torch’ by a hot flame. This gives the sushi a beautiful smokey taste and ehances the sweetness of the scallop. Love it!

- Torched salmon with spanish onions. This is made similar to the scallops. Slightly torched salmon on top of sushi rice plus a scattered of spanish onions. Delicious! This plate would normally be about $4.50 at other sushi joints nearby…

Also another one of my ‘must haves’ ( except today) is the Egg Sushi – love the sweet Japanese egg omelette on rice. Mmm!

I highly recommend this place if you are ever in the North side of Sydney and in and around Chatswood. A good place for a quick lunch or dinner. Ideal for a quick bite to eat before catching a movie or shopping around Chatswood.

There is ample of parking within the Manderin Center complex with the first 3 hours of parking free if you get a stamp from any of the stores within the center. ‘For a free parking rate – remember to validate!’ :)

Love

Eve x

So what would be your ‘must have’ sushi ? Love to also hear about your favourite sushi joints!

Sagunja sushi2

Slightly torched salmon sushi with the spanish onions. So tasty!

Sagunja sushi1

Salmon with avocado and cream cheese. Mmmmm!

Sagunja Soft Shell crab

Soft shell crab - can't get enough of these! Best value for $2.50!

Sagunja sashimi

Fresh fresh fresh salmon sashimi. Beautiful with a dab of soya and wasabi!

Sagunja 3

Sagunja dishes Sagunja 5 Sagunja 2 Sagunja 1 Sagunja 4 Sagunja Sushi Restaurant

Mandarin Centre
Level 2, Shop 225, 65 Albert avenue
Chatswood NSW 2067

Phone (02) 9410 2545
Fax (02) 9904 6751

Gumshara Ramen – Voted Top 5 Noodles 2009 in Sydney by Time Out Magazine.

Gumshara Ramen at Eating World Food Court, Harbour Plaza, Chinatown.

Gumshara Ramen at Eating World Food Court, Harbour Plaza, Chinatown.

As a result of an incorrectly scheduled event in my diary, my Thursday evening was free and my Hubby and I had a spontaneous date night in ‘downtown Chinatown’ for dinner.  What a treat!

After ‘studying’  my latest copy of  ‘Time Out Sydney’ Magazine all day and reading up on the features of  the ‘Food Awards 2009′ – I was armed  and informed with enough food recommendations to try out for tonight, and being around Chinatown – I suggested we try out ‘Gumshara Ramen’ for a ‘thrifty’ and easy meal as we were both pretty tired from our day.

I gave my Hubby the challenge of parking – considering it was on a Thursday evening, that if we fail to find a parking spot in Chinatown, we will have to go home and eat the left overs that he made the other night… ( He did this Moroccan Lentil Soup from a ‘Food Safari’ receipe on the SBS website! heheh and we still had PLENTY left over. The Hubby didn’t know how much lentils can ‘expand’ whilst cooking! heheh)

So as we both shuddered at the idea of eating more lentils… we hoped and prayed for a parking spot.

And THANK GOD that after only circling once around Liverpool St, we found a spot nearby on Dixon St. (Yay! No Lentils!)

Eating World at Harbour Plaza, Dixon Court... opposite from the Sydney Entertainment Center.

Eating World at Harbour Plaza, Dixon Court... opposite from the Sydney Entertainment Center.

We walk towards ‘Eating World’ Food court ( a place which I have not been to since high school…days long ago when catching a bus from the North to the City was the thing to do!) On our way, we walk pass ‘Mamak’ and the queue outside was starting to grow all the way around the newly renovated restaurant front and near to the dumpling place on the corner. (Note to self: Must come back and try Mamak again soon.)

Walking into Eating World, we immediately spot the raved-on-about place of ‘Gumshara Ramen’. It is the first thing you see as you walk through the electronic slide doors. A modest little counter with a huge cardboard sign of pictures showing the various ramen in ’100% Real Australian Pork’ stock.

( I am also informed that ‘Gumshara’ means ‘ The Chronic or ‘The Strong one’ in Japanese and the soup takes about seven days to make with 120kg of pork bones, water and miso…….Nice!)

'Essential to maintain smooth skin' I'm sold! Gimme a bowl please! :)

'Essential to maintain smooth skin' I'm sold! Gimme a bowl please! :)

Most, if not all reviews I have read about this place has been saying how ‘thick and gluttonous’ the stock is. I read a sign at the counter that saids: ‘If you prefer less salty or thick soup, please inform staff’ ‘ Okay! ….but we didn’t :)

Chef Dan Hong in action

Chef Dan Hong in action

So my mouth and lips were prepared to be ‘collagen’ and inside of my mouth ready to be ‘glued’ together…..sounds great already. Hmm.

Seasoned Egg with slighty gooey yolk - $1.50, Rice $1.50, Chilli Pickled Cabbage $1.50....however we thought this was classified as our 'Order Fail of the evening' :) Priceless.

After ordering – Hubby ordered the No.#1 and I the No.#2 – he had more pork slices in his plus a ‘seasoned egg’ for $1.50 which we would share, thinking the golden yolk looked so rich in the picture. He also orders some ‘pickled cabbage’ for $1.50 – as he is a sensible eater and likes his veggies. ( Although I think this barely counts, but was the only thing available that looked green or resembled to vegetables…) We later discover this cabbage was a an ‘order fail’  The taste wasn’t what we were expecting and was some what disappointing. Not to worry – for a $1.50 we can except the strangely pickled cabbage with chilli flakes. :) Gumshara kitchen

An array of condiments: pickled ginger, salt(?), chilli powder, seasoning sprinkles, soya etc

An array of condiments: pickled ginger, salt(?), chilli powder, seasoning sprinkles, soya etc

While waiting – I take a sneak peek behind the red curtain and see the ‘Ramen Chef – Dan Hong’  was stirring away over his huge pot of stock with a large ‘stick’. He would stir and then with a small hand held ‘shovel’ – gather more pork bones from a nearby cardboard box into his stock and stir. I gather this was a separate pot of stock, as apparently each stock takes about seven days to make to ensure it’s heartiness and flavour. I am pleased to know that no MSG is added to this stock – so I will not be needing to down liters of water tonight before bed, as I would have to at another Ramen establishment over in the north …

I watch with much interest as Chef Dan Hong cooks his noodles in the individual noodle ‘hand held strainers’ – and  gathers a handful of ramen into the strainer, then quickly hand flick the water straight onto the floor… (mind you, he is  wearing wellies and the floor is quiet wet from the water….) My husband and I both watch in amusement – although the kitchen is small and appears clean and tidy, the floor is wet – and we now see why, as with each bowl of noodle made, the water is strained onto the floor……interesting.

We also observe the busy waitress helping both to take orders, collect money and then go and help the chef ‘measure’ the right amount of thick hot broth into the black lacquer bowls with a chopstick. She stands a chopstick vertically inside the bowl to make sure the same amount of soup is poured in… ( I think to myself ‘ the writer in Time Out was not kidding when they said they can ‘stand a chopstick in the thick soup..!)

Waiting no longer than 7 minutes or so, our bowls of ramen is ready and we eagerly take our order, smile politely to the Chef as he caught my eye looking at him and give him a Japanese ‘nod’ of appreciation. I like that. I respect a chef who can cook honestly with his heart ( especially when he announces that 100% pork is used and no MSG on his sign) and that he would also take the time to smile at his customers from inside the kitchen.

Eating World Food Court on a Thursday evening.

Eating World Food Court on a Thursday evening.

My Hubby and I find a seat in the crowded food court – funny how much this place has changed and gone into renovations since the ‘dark 90′s’ when the place was slightly dodgy and had food counters that was not as pleasing as the ones on offer today. ( Note to self: Must come back and try all the other stalls as well, especially the Asian/Cantonese food stand next to Gumshara where it was lined with people who looked mostly like uni students… great prices and long queues is a sign of only good food right? Also the other Japanese place looked pretty good too for Katsu Don with rice and miso for $7.50, Indonesian food and Thai food… oh so much to sample!)

Now …. back to the ramen.

From the looks – I could already sense how THICK this soup was going to taste. I could barely see through to the noodles as the ramen looked all tangled in this deep ‘blanket’ of saucy, brown, soup/sauce! I made sure that I was prepared with some complimentary salted pickled ginger in the condiments area – as I think I will need it to break up the ‘gluggyness’ of this broth!

Hubby's bowl of ramen....

Hubby's bowl of ramen....

....With the seasoned egg.

....With the seasoned egg.

So we dig in…. and the first slurp with the steam rushing up to our faces was just delightful! Just as expected for a cold night from a big bowl of comforting noodles, broth that soothes the tummy and makes our lips stick together from the collagen. ( I am thinking how my Mum needs to have a few bowls of this to strengthen her joints instead of taking her boring Glutamate tablets!) Also for a while as we happily pull up strands of the ramen goodness – I was reminded of our ramen hunting days while in Japan, especially in Kyoto after our 2 hour bullet train ride. It was very rich and flavoursome and not as ‘manufacturered’ as some other ‘franchised’ stores.

My bowl of Pork Ramen.

My bowl of Pork Ramen.

Gumshara ramen close up 3Gumshara Ramen close up

The sign reads: ‘ Our food is made by traditional Japanese way to cook which uses fresh pork bone and water, NO MSG is used.  The richness of the soup comes from the marrow of the bone and soft bone. It contains alot of collagen which is essential to maintain a good skin’ ‘Mmmm ~ good skin I thought…. I am totally up for that!’ :)

The ramen is quite ‘al dente’ and slippery as we slurp up more ramen + soup. The soup is also scattered with freshly chopped green spring onions which is nice to break up the richness of the soup. I would recommend to eat this quick and fast – as I was starting to see the soup ‘setting’ and a ‘skin’ of it was developing on the surface already from the air. *Slurp!Slurp!*  The few slices of the ‘cha siu’ ( pork) floats on top and the taste is pretty pleasant, not too salty or tasteless but just right. It was quite ‘fatty’ in the pieces and the first piece was welcomed however the pieces to follow with the heavy soup, soon became a little too much for my palatte and I needed more ‘pickled ginger’ and ‘pickled cabbage’ to break up the fattiness. Overall, the pork slices are well balanced in their flavour and is one of the better ones I have tried. The nori that comes stuck on the inside of the bowl was soggy – and not crispy or large as the one at Ryo’s ramen – yet I did not mind it too much, as it was all about the soup here anyways and the soup definitely delivered as one of the thickest, richest and unique of its kind here in Sydney. I can see how they would have secured their place as No#1 for Noodles as voted for in ‘Time Out’ Magazine (Issue No# 60 August – $3.95 at newsagency)

Order fail: Chilli Pickled Cabbage. $1.50 You be the judge and give it a go :)

Order fail: Chilli Pickled Cabbage. $1.50 You be the judge and give it a go :)

About the end of our bowls ( well, mine half way finished) where our lips were ‘sticky’ from the gluttony soup and our mouths heavily lined with collagen and our lips had to be wiped not once or twice but with much force to clean the remains off …. we were waving our ‘invisible white flag’ as to give up and leave our bloated bellies be. We were FULL and honestly, could not bare another spoon of the thick soup that have us both grasping our tummies and craving for a cold fizzy drink to wash it all down!

Overall, the ramen was satisfying – yet this may not be something I can find myself eating more than once a month as the actual meal itself is too rich for my liking and I would have been better off sharing a bowl between the two. I see this as a treat to have once in a while – kind of  like the comfort of ‘butter’ – it is tasty and rich and delicious in small portions, as well as the ‘naughty’ larger portions…. this Gumshara broth will be best appreciated in small doses.

Feeling very ‘pregnant’ with food and with soup – we were still determined to go check out the asian desert house that I also read up about on a few food blogs sites ( sorry ~ memory slips from me at this time of night…note to self: blog earlier) and on SMH about ‘LNC’ Desert House on Dixon St.

This was the place we ‘piked’ out on last week after our dinner at ‘Chat Thai’ and Japanese photo booths…. we were all too full last time from Thai and Passionflower, that we said we would reserve LNC for another Food Safari Day/Night… and so tonight…. was the night!

I was so happy that The Hubby agreed even though we were about to explode with ramen. ( Sorry for the gross imagery! Would share with you how we REALLY felt with the soup caught in our throats… but I better not! Oh I think I just did… opps!  heheh)

LNC Desert house is at Dixon Street in Chinatown – so our short stroll over was very welcomed as anything to walk off our bulge was a good thing.

To read about our post dinner desert at LNC Desert House ~ please visit again soon, I promise the pictures will be up and looking beautiful …. and I will also throw in a special ‘Japanese boyband MTV’ Hubby and I watched while scooping at our Red Bean Slushie with Coconut gelato and Green Macha Pearl Tea. It was pretty entertaining! So come back and visit soon!

Thanks for dropping by and reading!

Love

Eve x

Ps) We strolled past ‘Sushi Rio’ on the way to LNC – which is another place my friend has told me about and loves! It is actually one of their favourite sushi places and we can see why, with the long queues also parked outside waiting for seats. ( Note to self: Must bring the family here for a night out. Curtis would love it!)

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