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

Café Giulia Review – A delightful discovery for a Happy Saturday breakfast / brunch delight.

Cafe Giulia
On a gorgeous Saturday morning like today ( and after a beautiful ‘sleep in’ ) it was time for Hubby and I to trek off for our ‘Breakfast Food Safari’

Today’s destination is ‘Café Giulia’ at Chippendale. I have read so many positive reviews about this ‘renovated butcher shop turned cafe’ on the corner of Abercrombie Street and have wanted to visit ever since, but because it doesn’t open on Mondays, Saturdays is the only day to go!

I was warned to head over early as this place serves some of Sydney’s top breakfast fare as recommended by The Sydney Morning Herald, Time Out Magazine and rates very high on www.eatablilty.com, that it gets packed out quite early.

Selection of sweets and cakes to tempt you while you order from their extensive blackboard menu. Just make sure you are lining up against this... its the rule! :)

We arrive at a little after 12pm and as we stepped into what appeared to be a small cafe – was really quite spacious and packed inside. We were surprised at the amount of people here already and the lively buzz and energy was really exciting with happy weekend people and staff carrying around the food up along the narrow cafe. The huge blackboard menu that immediately grabbed my attention on entry, was scribbled ‘choc-a-block’ with choices and my eyes could not make out what was written as I was scurried along by the waitresses carrying around dishes which looked AMAZING and kindly, yet abruptly asking us to ‘step aside’ as to keep the traffic of people moving. Although it was slightly chaotic inside with people looking for seats, ordering along the counter forming an orderly queue to staff walking around with plates serving – it seemed somewhat controlled with the professional and friendly staff helping us locate a table.

The kitchen bench where everything coming out looks so delicious! Impressive logistics too!

The kitchen bench where everything coming out looks so delicious! Impressive logistics too!

Love the artwork on the wall available for purchase at Cafe Giulia.

Love the artwork on the wall available for purchase at Cafe Giulia.

Thankfully, apart from the huge blackboard that first catches my attention, I also managed to spot a familiar face inside the cafe near the window. It was my friend ‘Chezza’ whom I haven’t seen since a wedding we have both attended of a mutual friend. We have been meaning to catch up for the longest time and it was here on our ‘random Food Safari Breakfast’ that I should see her and her friend at a table! I say, ‘Thankfully’ – because as the cafe was packed to the brim with people and with no free table in sight – we were able to share the table with Chezza and her friend David. It was truly a ‘divine appointment’! :) God’s timing is hilarious and most awesome – especially today!

After getting over how ‘random’ our meeting was ( as if we had planned to do breakfast together the entire time!) Chezza and I get up to inspect the gigantic blackboard menu while David and Hubby chats away and minds the table. ( Later we were to laugh at how people in Asia, particularly in Malaysia and Singapore – people would use packets of tissues to ‘reserve’ seats at tables. Packets of ‘Tempo’ tissues would mean a sign of authority while in Australia, items of clothing on seats would be the same thing….although if you did that in Asia, you would most likely be missing your jacket or have people take your table in a blink of an eye!)

So, as I was saying, Chezza and I queue up along the counter as instructed by the staff – as if we were to stand anywhere to look at the menu, we would be mowed over by the efficient staff with their hot plates of food and coffee, as well as be blocking the herd of people flowing in from the entrance and spotting for a seat before they can order. That is the system – stick to it! :)

Love this crammed up blackboard filled with delicious decisions...... oh and the cute random octopus drawing in the middle :)

Love this crammed up blackboard filled with delicious decisions...... oh and the cute random octopus drawing in the middle :)

Our eyes scanning the endless scribbles on the menu – I was determined to order something that would satisfy this long awaited visit. Brain ticking, tummy rumbling, noise of people around us buzzing, coffee machine churning, bacon sizzling and the breakfast smoke aroma rising and happily soaking into our clothes and hair as I tried my best to concentrate to decide….

‘What would you like honey?’ asked the staff at the counter. I was seriously impressed with her calm composure as she waited for my order while a mile long queue was behind me. *Ok – so it wasn’t a mile long, but you get the idea…* ‘Take your time….’ she assures me as stumble my words of ‘Haloumi …

Spinach and feta omelette with toasted sourdough. This one was HUGE! Good for sharing!

Spinach and feta omelette with toasted sourdough. This one was HUGE! Good for sharing!

‘ I want something with haloumi… ‘ ‘Can I have the Kefte with scrambled eggs, tomatoes, haloumi and mint…and the French toast with extra side of bacon please’ I ordered. ‘And two mochas – one skim and one regular.’
Phew! I ordered under pressure ( not because I was hurried…but because there was SO much to choose from and so much I wanted to try!) and I walk back to my table looking forward to our food.

Delicious Kefte with Scrambled eggs and tomatos and chunks of haloumi on sourdough toast. This was delicious and definetly for huge appetites or for sharing!

Delicious Kefte with Scrambled eggs and tomatos and chunks of haloumi on sourdough toast. This was delicious and definetly for huge appetites or for sharing!

This dish was so delicious! The ‘Kefte’ was minced lamb with herbs and made the perfect compliments to the fluffy scrambled eggs packed with grilled tomatoes and my all time favourite cheese – halomui and I happily bite into chunks of it burrowed within my tasty eggs. I could go on forever! The sour dough toast soaks up all the flavours from the egg and the kefte just have a party in my mouth! This is a ‘Happy Meal’ for breakfast on a plate!

As we all giggle about how delicious all our breakfast choices is – the French Toast with bananas, cream and a side of bacon ( an extra $4 was worth it!) – comes with maple syrup for your pouring pleasure in a recycled ‘San Pellergino’ glass bottle. (Loves it!) This dish wowed the Hubby as he LOVES french toasts – and the sight of this dish just brings a smile to his face from ear to ear. He digs in and lovingly cuts some off for me and places it on my plate – and can I say that this combination of banana, soft pillowly french toast drenched in maple syrup with bacon and a smear of cream is worth the queue for a table on a packed weekend here alone! :)

Maple French toast with grilled banana and side of bacon and cream on side. This was SOOO delicious!

Maple French toast with grilled banana and side of bacon and cream on side. This was SOOO delicious!

Mmmmm.... maple syrup and bacon on french toast.... pillowy bread and soft grilled bananas drenched in maple syrup with the saltiness of bacon and dash of cream. So naughty yet nnnnice!

Mmmmm.... maple syrup and bacon on french toast.... pillowy bread and soft grilled bananas drenched in maple syrup with the saltiness of bacon and dash of cream. So naughty yet nnnnice!

I really can't get enough of this french toast... Mmmmm to the max! :)
Strong and hot coffee brought out the same time as the meal ~ perfect! :)

Strong and hot coffee brought out the same time as the meal ~ perfect! :)

While waiting for our food to arrive – our creative brains went into overdrive ( possibly from the excitement as we wait for our yummy breakfast and that we had just happily bump into old friends for a random breakfast catch up!) Our funny conversation with Chezza and David started when we talked about bacon with french toast and how much we all love our bacon. ‘Bacon completes the meal!’ David exclaimed. And so went our silly conversations to saying how there should be such ice cream flavours with bacon chips in it, such as,  ‘Apple crumble with bacon chips…or Wasabi ice cream with dried beef jerky…’ Mmmm…bacon chips with ice cream… hehehe!

After our silliness, we suss out what we each ordered… Chezza ordered the Spinach and fetta omelette with a Pineapple Apple Ginger & Mint juice. (Mmm… fresh juices.) I was contemplating why I didn’t order a fresh juice….David: Field mushrooms with scrambled eggs and tomatoes plus a Watermelon juice with mint. Mmmmm!

Scrambled eggs with tomato and spanish onions with a side of field mushrooms.

Scrambled eggs with tomato and spanish onions with a side of field mushrooms.

Freshly squeezed juice - watermelon and mint.

Freshly squeezed juice - watermelon and mint. An old butcher shop now turned into a cosy 'diner' cafe ~ best kept secret ( or not) in Sydney.

An old butcher shop now turned into a cosy 'diner' cafe ~ best kept secret ( or not) in Sydney.

An old butcher shop now turned into a cosy 'diner' cafe ~ best kept secret ( or not) in Sydney.

After today’s visit – we were so impressed that Hubby and I are bound to be back to sample more of it’s delicious goodies! It reminded us alot of this diner we visited while in New York last year – loved the simplicity, ‘no fuss’ attitude of this place and the food served within the chaos and still manage to have happy smiling people enjoying their food – hopefully means this establishment will stay for many more years to come!

Love

Eve x

Cafe Giulia Take Away Menu can be viewed here: http://www.cafegiulia.com/storage/caf__giulia_take_away_menu.pdf

Cafe Giulia

92 Abercrombie St
Chippendale

Ph: 9698 4424
Fax: 02 9698 1415

Hours
Tue to Fri

6.30am to 4pm
Sat & Sun
8am to 3pm

Closed Mondays and long weekends.

Be sure to check their website for special ‘dinner evenings’

D’ough Expresso at The Galleria Victoria – ‘Sunny’ and cheerful place for a quick take-away brekkie of tea and toast.

It is always pleasant to have your day started with things that brings a smile to your face. I love how it just makes your day that much brighter…. This morning I count myself blessed for:
- Waking up to my favouriest person in the world… my Hubby :)
- Having The Hubby drive me into work as I got up a little late….Such a sweetheart.
- I love the sunny mornings we have been getting in August….
- Receiving a free cupcake with my hot tea and toast at D’ough Cafe this morning… :)

I have to admit, I am not usually the one who likes to go to ‘franchises’ for coffee or tea. I know this sounds a bit ‘cafe snobbish’ but somehow I just preferred the family owned businesses or cafes that ‘specialises’ in coffees or whatever it is that they are specialised in! :)

What I discovered here at this newly opened franchised cafe of 3 weeks, The ‘D’ough Expresso’ downstairs at The Galleria Victoria on Pitt Street/George St – was the bright bubbly and friendly service they have here.

I was glad to have decided on impulse to grab my tea & banana bread here one morning as I was running late. I had missed my morning train and was running late but was hungry. So as I hurried along to work one morning after getting off at Town Hall station and with 5 minutes to spare, I find myself at D’ough Expresso.

My morning was a bit frazzled from the lateness but I was warmly welcomed by the beautiful smiley waitress who introduced herself to me as I stood there deciding what to order. Her name was ‘Sunny’ which I thought was such a fitting name for a bright bubbly person like herself. :)

My order of an English Breakfast tea was served very hot ( just as I like it!) in a double cup so I wouldn’t burn my hand :) The triangle tea bag is from one of my favourite tea boutiques, ‘T2′ and my two pieces of banana bread came toasted just golden on the top ( again… as I like it) I asked for no butter as I didn’t want greasy fingers plus the added butter intake for the day ;)

As mentioned before, I am not usually the one drawn to ‘franchised’ cafes ( I have also loved going over to ‘The Big Bite’ Sandwich cafe for coffee made by a very friendly Greek gentleman, but alas I am on a ‘coffee break…break’ and trying not to drink as much coffee….so I have tea instead! :) ) So as I was saying about ‘franchised cafes’… I am not saying there is anything wrong with them, but just as a personal preference if I had to choose between a small family owned business to a franchise – the small ‘hole-in-the-wall’ wins for me. However in this case with ‘D’ough’ and the friendly genuine service here won me over. Ok, so ‘D’ough’ may not be ‘specialised’ in ‘artisan’ breads or have award winning macaroons ( like some of my other favourite cafe spots) but what I do love about this particular D’ough is for their quality customer service, remembering your name as they introduce theirs to you and their happy smiles not just to their customers but to their own staff members too -showing they have a positive work place, which rubs off even if you are there for 5 mins to grab a quick brekkie… you also get a free ‘ pick-me-up’ too! :)

While waiting for my brekkie, I check out the food on display which looked pretty enticing too – with ‘iced almond short bread’ looking all short and crumbly and generously dusted with icing sugar, Vienna horseshoe biscuits with the ends dipped in chocolate… their pastries and sausage rolls looked pretty decent along with their ‘New York’ inspired sandwiches which I am keen to try for lunch soon.

This Friday morning, I got a raisin toast and tea I happily get my frequent sippers card stamped with their ‘apostrophe’ logo on my card… only 7 coffees or teas to go before my freebie! Yay! :) Shouldn’t be too hard…. I will drop by again soon :)

Love
Eve x

D’ough Expresso

The Galleria Victoria ( Food court/ Ground floor)
George Street/Pitt Street, Sydney

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!)

Sonoma Bread Cafe @ Glebe – Tasty sourdough sandwiches + Singles Origin coffee makes a good Monday.

It is once again Monday.

My ‘day off’ and I was on a mission to soak up as much as I could today with my favouritest person in the world – My Hubby. :)

Delicious and lazy sleep in til 10am. ( I adore sleep in’s – although on days like today, I did wished the hands on the clock would just stay still while I slept, so that I would be able to enjoy more of the day without needing to get out of bed too early…)

Feeling refreshed and charged up for another beautiful week ahead – I review the ‘to do list’ in my head as I brushed my teeth and got ready.

As I had to run a few errands today and had to be in Glebe, I decided that we should do lunch there…but where?

I remembered about a yummy bakery for their highly reviewed breads at a bakery named ‘ Sonoma’  Sonoma is a artisian bakery using only the freshest ingredients and supplies to top restaurants in Sydney such as: Tetsuya’s, Aria,
Quay, Est, Pier and Icebergs Dining Room and Bar.

Sonomo Bread ~ a tiny yet cozy spot for a sandwich and coffee at Glebe. High ornate ceilings, glass windows, no fuss.

Sonomo Bread ~ a tiny yet cozy spot for a sandwich and coffee at Glebe. High ornate ceilings, glass windows, no fuss.

sonoma entrance

Their main bakery and branch was situated right next to our church in Waterloo, on Young St, but I also remembered they had a cafe branch at Glebe. So  as soon as I recalled our tasty visit to Brasserie Bread last Monday, I was up for more artisian sourdough. ( What is it with Monday and artisian sourdough breads I wonder?) Just can’t get enough I thought!

We arrive at  our destination at Sonoma Cafe at about 1.30pm and by then most of the sandwiches which are pre-made in the glass cabinet was gone. Thankfully, our choice of the chicken on rye sourdough with butter lettuce leaves and corned beef, mustard mayonaise and butter lettuce leaves on sourdough (forget what bread it was exactly) was still available. We were asked if we wanted them toasted – I asked our friendly ‘waiter’ which way he preferred to eat them for maximum ‘eating pleasure’ and he replied ‘ Toast for sure!’ and hence we settled on toast!  Mmmm. Crunchy.

I must admit though, as lovely as the bread of this cafe sound, I was a bit dissapointed that they did not use ‘real’ chicken breast for their sandwich fillings and instead used what I suspect is ‘bought’ chicken cold meats. Also forgetting that the butter lettuce leaves were so fresh and tender, that when the lovely toasted ‘sambos’ arrived to our table – they were cooked through and was soggy. ( I always wondered why no body would offer to place fresh crunchy  lettuce back inside your sandwich AFTER it was toasted and not before. Hmm.)

Chicken and sourdough sandwich.

Chicken and sourdough sandwich.

Chicken and sourdough.

Chicken and sourdough.

Regardless of the cooked lettuce – I still enjoyed the modest looking sourdough sandwich that was just so lovely and crunchy with the warmed moist filling of the chicken and mayonaise oozing through the ‘holes’ in the bread. The texture of the bread was crunchy from the sandwich press which it was toasted on but lovely and ‘chewy’ and goes well with the chicken… even if it was not a poached organic chicken breast as I would have preferred.

Corned beef on sour dough.

Corned beef on sour dough.

After enjoying my half of the chicken sandwich, I reach out for the other half of the corned beef sambo from my Hubby’s plate and sink my teeth into another crunchy bread delight. The corned beef slices blended with the mustardy mayonaise and lettuce was a satisfying combination. A simple and tasty lunch- no fuss and gave the bread space to shine through ( yet I think I would prefer the sandwiches at Brasserie Bread a bit more for their generous fillings)

Serving Single Origins coffee at Sonoma.

Serving Single Origins coffee at Sonoma.

Sonoma 1

Our Single Origin’s coffee wasn’t too bad either – I would have preferred mine a tad hotter if I could… ( I love my coffee HOT!) However, given the relaxed setting in a cute (but cozy) cafe with high ceilings, friendly staff, laid back locals walking in for their sourdough fixes and muesli packed in brown paper bags ( I saw an elderly gentleman stock up 2 bags of the honey toasted oat and muesli..must be good!)  and with my back resting against the glass window, The Hubby happily snapping away on his camera – I was happy with my simple lunch and sip the rest of my coffee and watched the world go by on a lazy Monday on Glebe Point Road.

Walking out, I realised that right next door was another cafe that I had once visited and loved and vowed to return…but forgot! So with this in mind, the next time I am in Glebe -the name skips my memory right now, but it is right next door to Sonoma….. ( oh dear, early memory loss it NOT good :P)

Hope sourdough helps with the memory!

What are your favourite topping or filling for sourdough breads?

Currently my favourite is the Lynwood Jam of Raspberry and Rhubarb purchased at Brasserie Breads.

Love for you to share!

Sonoma Bakery Cafe 215 Glebe Point Rd,
Phone 02 9660 2116,

Opening hours 8am – 4pm Seven days.

http://sonoma.com.au/

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