Friday, October 23, 2009

Gia Hoi

A new addition to the numerous eateries on George Street (Chinatown side) was Vietnamese restaurant Gia Hoi. This place opened its doors sometime in May and the banner advertising a 10% opening special is still hanging above the entrance to the shop when H and I visited. The whole shop was outfitted in bright orange which brought a smile to my face. I love the colour and even own a bright orange jacket but that's a story for another time.

Service was warm and welcoming and we were quickly shown to our seats (which by the way was bright orange) and provided with bright orange coloured menu. We quickly decided on our dishes as we were famished but I was still undecided if I should order the Durian Shake or be good and have water instead. The durian shake won in the end and it was the best durian shake I've had in Sydney. It tasted exactly like a D24 (Malaysia's grading / name of a particular durian breed). Click to find out more about Durians.

Durian Shake ($4.50)

H's Vietnamese Ice Coffee ($4.50)

Gia Hoi's Special Beef Noodle Soup ($9) - One of the better ones I've tasted in Sydney. It had generous servings of rare beef and noodles. The broth was full of flavour however, it was pretty oily as you can tell from the picture above. Still, a great dish to warm you up on a cold wintry day.

Grilled Chicken w/ Rice ($9) - I loved the chicken as it was well marinated in lots of herbs. The marinade penetrated through the chicken pieces beautifully and you can taste the flavours not just on the skin and outer layer of the chicken but infused into the meat as well. Call me fussy but I dislike grilled meats that have been marinated only on the outer layer and when you reach the middle or towards the bone they taste bland. All that gorgeous flavours on the outer layer gets me excited for more and when you hit a bland patch it's just.... off-putting (is that a word?). I digress, the grilled chicken here at Gia Hoi was beautifully marinated and tasted gorgeous.

Gia Hoi
709 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000

(02) 9211 0221

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Alchemy Cafe & Restaurant, Christchurch

Recommended by the friendly staff at our B&B, we didn't realise that Alchemy is a multi-award winning restaurant until after we had tasted the food (more on that later). Alchemy is located in Christchurch's Art Gallery, situated next to the Art Centre and we didn't suspect a thing as it looks like a normal cafe. Service was slow (we had to wait more then 20 mins to put in our order all the while trying to get the attention of the 3 staff on the floor) but more than made up for it by the food.

H's Works Breakfast w/ Cressy Farm bacon, 2 free range eggs, venison sausage, sauteed rosemary potatoes, grill tomatoes, mushrooms and ciabatta (NZD $21.50) was awesome. The bacon was succulent and meaty and I loved, loved, loved the venison sausage. All was cooked perfectly and you can really taste the difference when good quality produced are used.

I had ordered the Seared Akaroa Salmon on mushroom filled french toast with sauteed spinach and watercress (NZD$22.50). This was an award winning dish and I agree full-heartedly. The mushroom filled french toast was gorgeous with meaty mushrooms and eggy goodness. The Akaroa salmon was cooked perfectly, slightly pink in the middle and looked awesome on top of the french toast.

H and I both agreed that we would definitely be back for more the next time we are in Christchuch. Just fabulous food, quality produced and "outside the box" cooking.

Alchemy Cafe & Restaurant
49 Worcester Boulevard
Christchurch 8001 New Zealand

+ 64 3 366 3018

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mu Steakhouse, Christchurch

Mu Steakhouse, recommended by a colleague of H was situated smack bang in the city centre. We decided to rock up and try our luck as we did not ring before hand to make a booking. Once there we were told that they could seat us but we would have to leave by 7.30pm. An hour and a half for dinner was fine by us. Just feed me a decent meal.

Mu Steakhouse has a bar section and 3 floors for food. It was all dark wood illuminated only by dim red lighting (a nightmare for photographs so please excuse the poor quality pics).

A picture of meats on display at the front of the kitchen. This got me salivating but alas I had chosen the wrong dish for the night (read more to find out).

For entree we started off with Mu Steakhouse Tart which was made up of creamy blue cheese & onion on top of rocket with confit of tomatoes. H loved blue cheese so when he saw this on the menu he just had to order this dish. I'm not a big fan of blue cheese but this was quite good as the blue cheese wasn't that pungent.

The best of the night though was the Chicken Liver and Cognac Pate topped with white truffle butter and accompanied by hazelnut wafers. The pate was made absolutely more delicious by the white truffle butter topping. I just couldn't stop eating this although I could feel my arteries clogging up.

H's 500g Rib Eye on the Bone was awesome. The meat was just superb; full of natural flavour and cooked to perfection.

Unfortunately my dish which was the special Lamb Trio wasn't my cup of tea. I'm not a big fan of offal and 2/3rd of this dish was made up of 'em. The lamb chops were pretty good but sausage which was made with liver ...eik!

Dessert made up for my main though. We had ordered the Espresso Brulee which was delicious. A slightly burnt crust which cracked with a flick of the wrist revealed coffee infused, creamy, delicious innards. The brulee was accompanied by olive sorbet made in house which was also delicious.

Mu Steakhouse
92 Lichfield Street
Christchurch, NZ

(03) 377 0681