Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pho Hoang Gia

I've been really bad at posting this past week. Have had some problems with my notebook (am shopping for a new one but with a very tight budget) thus the late postings. Sorry guys...

We were at Pho Hoang Gia, Flemington, a week ago from today and the memory of that lunch are still fresh in my mind. That says a lot about the food eh? H and I use to frequent this place almost twice a month when he was living in Rhodes but since he's moved this is our first time back after 2 years. The place is still pretty much the same; the food still tastes the same, no change in the decor or the people working behind the counter.

I love the pho (beef noodle soup) here. The broth is just right and the beef slices lightly pink just the way I like it. However, after a discussion with my Vietnamese colleague about food in Flemington she tells me that Flemington's Vietnamese cuisine is not authentic as they are made by Vietnamese-Chinese thus the taste is slightly different from what she eats at home. I still love it here though. Try to find out for yourselves.

We started off with prawn spring rolls. The prawn rolls here are great. They are filled with generous amounts of tasty prawn cake (the same as fish cake, but done with prawns instead of fish).

MM ordered the fried chicken and broken rice with an additional fried egg on top. She loves it so much that even after a week has gone past she's still dreaming about it!

H got his favourite vermicelli with grilled pork and spring rolls. We've tried this at a few places and this is one of the best.

Last Saturday's 39'C was just too hot for me to order the usual; pho, so I got the pork chops with broken rice instead. The pork chops here are really tasty; marinated with generous amounts of lemongrass, garlic and fish sauce.

Overall, this is a great place to go on a lazy Afternoon, offering great value for money dishes. They also have air conditioning which is really important when it's 39'C outside!

Pho Hoang Gia
2/98 The Crescent
Flemington NSW 2140

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cafe Mix, Shangri La

We so love our 'We Love Sydney' card. What great bargains especially during this time of economic slowdown where H and I have had to cut down on eating out. 

Our latest dining experience was at Cafe Mix, Shangri La. Dinner buffet on Fridays and Sundays are $68 pp while Saturdays will set you back $85. Am not sure why the huge price difference between Fridays and Saturdays as they serve lobsters on both these days but not on other days of the week. Be prepared to book at least a week in advance though as we tried booking on a Wednesday for Friday dinner and it was fully booked and so had to come back the following Friday.  

Our party of four was seated right next to the fresh seafood section. Big smiles on our faces as we sat down and right across from us the lobsters were being refilled.
Once seated and drinks ordered, the gals head straight for the lobsters. hehe. Lobsters were fresh and meaty but I still craved the chinese style lobster cooked in ginger and shallot sauce. I still managed to consume 4 halves of lobster though :)

Pictures of the salad and sushi stand. I have to admit I didn't have anything from this section at all.

Even though they had 4 sections for different cuisines; Indian, Japanese, Chinese and Italian, the majority of dishes were all Chinese. I counted 2 Indian dishes which were Lamb Korma and Pilaf rice and pappadums. One roast beef which I guess goes under the Italian section? Non existent Japanese section unless you count the sushi on the salad stand. We saw the Japanese chef wrapping the peking duck under the Japanese stand and enjoying it too. He was very popular as the peking duck was really good. Hoisin sauce was very yummy. We asked the friendly waitress why the emphasis on Chinese cuisine and she told us that it's because of the Chinese New Year special celebration promotion. As part of the celebration they had a lion dance, followed by a couple playing traditional Chinese instruments and another couple with a Chinese calligraphy stand.
The buffet was a great success as there were a few stand out dishes. I love the peking duck, steamed whole fish (they had 2 types of fish one of which I think was coral trout) in soya and spring onion, Singapore chilli crab, and this tiger prawn dish cooked in a creamy sauce. They also had home-made BBQ pork, steamed dim sum, noodles and winter-melon soup. 

Lets get to the dessert. I was really excited about the dessert after looking at pics from chocolatesuze blog and from walking pass the dessert stand to our table. Sadly, the dessert wasn't much to shout about. The chocolate fondue was really really sweet and the strawberries really really sour. There were a few varieties of cakes which was good. My favourite being the baked cheesecake and the chocolate mud cake a close second. 

Cafe Mix, Shangri La Hotel
Level 1, 176 Cumberland Street
The Rocks NSW


I suggested this place to my uncle who is from Melbourne, here in Sydney for work, and the 3 of us made our way to Takeru from the hotel he was staying in in the Haymarket area. We arrived at 7.25pm and the place was packed but luckily for us we only had a 10 minute wait. Once seated we peruse the menu and quickly decided on our dishes. 

I got the grill salmon meal which came with rice, miso soup and a tiny (soya sauce saucer) size of pickled vegies. Sadly, I found the fish pretty bland. Not much taste there and the meat was pretty dry as well. 

Uncle P ordered the unagi meal which was pretty good other then the tiniest taste of fishiness in the fish.

The best for the night was H's beef dish but for some reason I can't recall what it's called. I had it 5 minutes ago! The meat was succulent and beautiful marinated. Each bite just makes you crave for more.

Overall, this place is great value for money. 

Takeru Japanese Cuisine
Shop 10, 339 Sussex Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kingsley Steak House, King St.

Spur of the moment decision to head down to Kingsley Steak House on King Street as we just got our We Love Sydney Card which entitles us to a "buy one free one" main course. Click on the below link to register (free) for your We Love Sydney card.

We started of with the entree to share (for 2 at $28.50, or 3 ppl for $39.50). You get to choose 3 entrees out of 5 that they have on the menu. We got the (from left to right) chicken liver pate, seared scallops and soft shell crab. The chicken liver pate was delicious. Seared scallops wrapped with bacon was good too. The soft shell crab however was nothing spectacular.

For mains we both ordered the 350g Angus 150 day grain fed rib eye ($39.50). The quality of the meat was excellent and the chef cooked it to perfection. The baked potatoes were exceptional; I couldn't stop eating it even though I still had half a chunk of steak left and my stomach was getting full.

We had a lovely bottle of red that went really well with the steak.

Kingsley Steak House
29a King Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Monday, January 12, 2009

Umi Kaiten Zushi 2

The first time we were here we loved the deep fried prawns plate which I've never seen at other sushi train eateries. We loved it so much that we're always talking about going back and we finally did! Our first out of home meal for 2009; Umi Kaiten Zushi.

First thing that caught our eye was the salmon nigri. Both H and I just loves salmon; sashimi, smoked, grilled.. you name it, we'll try it and most likely love it. The salmon was very fresh and the overall combination of salmon, rice and mayo with red onion went really well together.

Salmon Belly Nigri. Another first for me seeing salmon belly served on sushi train. The dish was nice but it would have been better just by itself without the rice sashimi style.

H and I were very intrigued by a picture of this on their menu. It's Flamed Grilled Spicy Miso Scallop Roll. It's the special for the month selling at $9.80 a dish. A lovely combination of grilled scallop on a roll filled with avocado topped with spicy miso sauce. Very yummy.

This dish is fabulous. It's fish on a skewer and deep fried. The fish was really fresh. The reddish thing on the plate is octopus stewed in some kind of tomato sauce. It was really tender and tasty that we got a plate of that by itself.

Tomato Stewed Octopus - as above. Doesn't look as good as it taste.

One of the many fusion dishes at Umi Kaiten Zushi, I love the combination of mango and roe. The sweetness of the mangoes inter-mingled with the saltiness of roe *swoon*. The salmon however didn't add anything to this dish, in fact it was like a third wheel when you're on a date at the movies hehe.

Seared scallop and sashimi combo. Even though it looks like a great combination I would rather have eaten them separately as to be able to savour the natural flavours of both this ingredient. My brain was just too overwhelmed by the competing flavours of the two to be able to enjoy this dish fully.
Unagi Nigri. Pretty good as it wasn't overly marinated.

Seared Salmon - not as nice as Azuma's but still pretty good.
We can't believe the deep fried prawns were not on their menu. We settled for deep fried salmon skin instead. This dish is huge and well worth the $5.50 price tag.
Overall, a great place to go to for good and fresh sushi. It is however on the pricey side, but if you have the entertainment book, that entitles you to 20% of the total bill.

Umi Kaiten Zushi
Level 1, 477 Pitt Street
Haymarket NSW 2000

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year dear readers…

Here's to another year filled with good food and great company.

My first blog for 2009 is not a review of a restaurant or even a cafe, it is actually our new year's
eve dinner. H and I decided to create our own dinner for two which was a great end to a fantastic year and the start of the new year.

We started of with French onion soup. I used onions, white wine, thyme, bay leaf and chicken stock to make the soup. For the bread I used sour dough (as that was what we had at home at the time) and home made herb butter followed by cheese on top. However, as I had to share the oven with H's roast lamb which was roasting at an even 165'C the cheese didn't melt and brown in time before I had to take it out.

We followed the soup with a smoked salmon and cucumber combo. We usually make this as an entree when we have people over and have had great feedback with them. Start of with cucumber as a base, put two drops of Japanese mayo followed by smoked salmon layered on top. I've added some dill for added presentation.

The lamb took ages to cook but it was all worth the wait. The meat was succulent and full of flavour.

For dessert I melted some lindt 70% dark chocolate with their chilli chocolate. Once melted, I added some cream and finely crushed nuts and spread it out on baking paper. I should have planned this better and got some cake molds as well so that the chocolate would have a proper shape. The dessert didn't turn out as well as I hoped in the end and I didn't have the heart to take any pictures after that. Sorry!

The next day; New Year's Day.

The leftover lamb was made into a Lamb Ragu cooked with bortolli beans. Yum Yum
With a side of rocket salad and Parmesan cheese on top drizzled with a balsamic dressing (ala Cafe Sopra).
Finally ending with cheese, crackers, nuts and grapes.

Sorry for the long long posts. I just couldn't decide between starting another post for the leftovers which we made into new year's day dinner or to posts them all in one as it is kind of a continuation. I guess you know which one won even though the second day dinner is a total meal by itself.