Posts Tagged ‘dining’

Al Aseel, Greenacre

Having sampled the Lebanese Charcoal Chicken at El Jannah, I had wanted to try Al Aseel to compare. Booked one month in advance, and the placed was buzzing at 6pm on a Saturday night.

On recommendation, we got the Mixed plate, chicken lemon garlic, Lamb shawarma and lamb kibbeh. Lamb Shararma was delicious – crispy lemony bits, and although served on a bed of onion, it was cooked onion.

Lam Kibbeh, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

The kibbeh. This is raw (lamb) mince, spiced up and mixed with burgul, chilli and some lemon juice. Kind of like a meat tabbouli. A colleague told me about it ages ago, just before he told me about El Jannah.

It tasted just like creamy grease! It was a little spicy from pepper or chilli, came dressed up like a raw meat bread roll, with burghul all throughout, a half a spanish onion, mint, and a small pot of olive oil. Glad I tried it, but I probably wouldn’t get it again. The remains ended up getting fried on the BBQ, and the men of the house said that it was more delicious BBQ’d.

The pickles – we have hot pink turnip strips, but also fresh tomato slices, green olives, chunky gherkin slices and three pickled chillies. And just enough flat lebanese bread, cut into quarters for four.

Al Aseel, Greenacre, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

The chicken platter came with chicken ex-skewered, covered in lemon and garlic yoghurt; baba ganouj, hummus, tabbouli and one felafel. Baba Ganouj was nice and smokey, hummus with a few chickpeas scattered on top, olive oil on both. Tabbouli yummo and lemony. I had to ask the staff for a small tub of garlic – the mixed platters came with it, so we think that the table that our dish was accidentally delivered to first had stolen it. I liked the garlic, but I liked the one at El Jannah better – it wasn’t as bleached white, it had a more creamy colour to it. Felafel was delicious, crispy on on the outside, moisdt on the inside. I wish there was more than one.

I tried a strawberry Holstein fizzy malt drink. It tastes like fake strawberry and is very sweet. Hey, I tried something new!

Lots of fun as had rolling up mixtures in the lebanese bread, and eating our homemade rolls. $52 for four, including drinks.

We asked about the rice pudding not on the menu, but both staff members say that there is no dessert offered at Al Aseel (unlike this article), so we head next door to Saggbagh Patissiery.

I eyespy a family here whom I had seen in Al Aseel a little earlier, so perhaps only the Surry Hills Al Aseel restaurant offers the rice pudding dessert. I don’t know the names of the sweets, but we tried the deep fried springroll with sweet cheese inside, the cashew roll in a pastry that looks like noodles, a cashew slice in between semolina topped with white marshmallow topping – similar to what I had at El Sweetie in Granville. The one with the noodle pastry is very crispy and fresh – so much so, that even thought I am normally not a fan of this sweet, I hop up and order another one. It’s so cheap here – approximately $1 per sweet. You can even grab a platter full of sweets, have decorated with sweet cheese and pistachio, and wrapped up in cellophane as a gift.

I then pop over the road and visit Five Star Chocolate and Pastry, which is a lot more glittery and swish looking than Saggbagh. I pick up a handful of what looks like nougat in apricot “roll up” style sheets, some other medicinal tasting jelly rolled in rose petals – $20/kg, and two pieces of pistachio nut presented as a sugared biscuit.

I ask about the “astfa”, which looks like a deep fried crepe or pastry with filling. It comes filled with either walnut or sweet cheese. The outside tastes a bit like gulab jamon Indian sweet filled with walnut pieces. After my earlier feasting, I could only eat a small corner before I had to pack it away again. Oh well, all the better for breakfast!

Al Aseel Lebanese Restaurant
Shop 4
173 Waterloo Road
Greenacre NSW 2190
(02) 9758 6744
11am – 10pm, 7 days a week. Bookings highly recommended.

Sabbagh Patissery
5/173 Waterloo Road, Greenacre, Sydney
(02) 9758 5020

Five Star Chocolates and Patisserie
168 Waterloo Road, Greenacre Sydney
(02) 9740 7440

Yok Yor Thai Food Factory, Haymarket

You would be hard-pressed to find a green curry on this menu. In fact it is there, at the bottom of the list and served with noodles.

Yok Yor Thai Food Factory, Haymarket, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

The staff wear cute little overalls and bright yellow hard hats (factory, geddit?) which match the construction work going on next door.

The decor is mixed with 60s speakers speakers acting as a bench seat, and a variety of retro chairs amongst industrial light fittings. It can get very noisy, especially if there is a large party!

My first and second choices* from the menu are already sold out. Testament to the popularity of this place in ‘thai town’, which has been only open a few days.

So instead, I settle upon Gai hor bai teuy $7.9. This is fried marinated chicken wrapped in pandan leaves. It is served with salad leaves and a sweet-salty dipping sauce. The waiter helpfully tells us not to eat the outside wrapper, which although is edible, is not very pleasant. Like crispy cooked paper (I couldn’t resist). The chicken inside was caramelized but moist. It is also slightly fatty, but then it wouldn’t be as delicious, would it? I couldn’t really taste or smell the pandan.

Drinks @ Yok Yor, Haymarket, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

My pandan juice ($3) however, is delicious! First time I have seen it on a menu, it is a light lime green/yellow in colour and tastes like you are eating those green pandan jelly desserts. It is a little on the sweet side. We have also ordered Gang hung lay ($13.5). This is a slow cooked pork curry from Chiang Rai with five spices, peanut and coconut. It is quite dry, tastes quite sweet, but my palate doesn’t seem to be able to pick up what the five spices are. It is a bit like massaman curry, with chinky pieces of pork that crumbles to touch. It is served with big crunchy curls of pork crackling chips as a garnish.

Pandan wrapped Chicken & som tum @ Yok Yor, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

My test Thai dish used to be som tum, or green papaya salad. I haven’t had it in ages, but I order the simplest version today – plain ($9.50), with only half a chilli. Despite my wussiness with the chilli, the sauce is well balanced hot, salty, sour and sweet, with dried shrimp, roast peanuts and cherry tomatoes scattered throughout. Sticky rice to cool the heat is extra.

I don’t know if the Yok Yor in Chinatown is related to the one of the same name that used to be on Crown Street Surry Hills, but it has an interesting mix of dishes and drinks that I haven’t seen before. I’ll have to come back and try some more items off the menu.

*The dishes that I wanted to try, but were sold out were:

1) Kanom beaung yourn# or Thai crispy pancake with shredded duck and coconut, served with sweet chilli dipping sauce $9.5.

2) Rice parcels of ground pork and peanut served with curly endive (#3 on the menu).

# I went back on a weekday lunchtime to try the crispy pancake. Strangely, it seems that part of their conditions of operation is that they can’t sell takeaway until after the cafe in the same building has ceased trading. I.e after 5pm. Also, there was no crispy pancake available. I am starting to have doubts as to its existence.

Yok Yor Thai Food Factory
Shop G06 45 Campbell Street Haymarket
Sun – Thu: 1100-0100
Fri – Sat: 1100 – 0200
Takeaway available after 5pm

Pho Pasteur, Blacktown

pho pasteur by A Sydney Foodie
pho pasteur, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

Pho Pasteur in Chinatown, Sydney is well known. It is where local Vietnamese go to eat in order to feel at home because what is on the menu is, and the decor is plastic, the food is cheap and the staff are rude and abrupt.

Personally, I prefer Gia Hoi which is next door. There seems to be a lot more variety, it appears cleaner and the staff are friendlier.

The local paper indicated that Pho Pasteur had opened up a branch in Blacktown near the cinemas, within the shopping complex. It’s funny, because they moved into a shop recently vacated by another Vietnamese restaurant who had moved onto street level.

There was a text menu and a photographic menu; good in theory, but when the photos are the size of a 20c piece, it doesn’t help much. The prices were higher than in town, and higher than expected for suburbia.

We ordered beef noodle soup (pho), hot and spicy beef and pork soup, and steamed gai lan (Chinese broccoli) with oyster sauce.

There appeared to be a few teething troubles. One table ordered spring rolls. None of the waiting staff had explained to them that you use your lettuce leaf as your ‘plate’, and wrap it around the spring roll to eat. They had felt confused by the lack of personal plates, and so were using their teacups as tiny bowls. Another table had trouble attracting the attention of the waiting staff. Instead of the kitchen saying: “This dish is for table 6.”, the servers were wandering around until they found a docket which had a similiar item on it, and plonking it down. That’s how our broccoli ended up in the table next to us, and they didn’t know any better, so they ate it. This is a shame for the restaurant because that represents lost income.

Our noodle soup arrives. Traditionally, hot and spicy noodle soup arrives with a giant plate of shredded cabbage and purple banana leaf, or purple cabbage if banana is not in season. Not this time. I have no cabbage, lettuce or mint. I have to scavenge my greens from the bean sprouts and mint intended for the beef pho.

The broth of both soups is good, but there is a severe lacking of noodles. We had ordered the regular size, since that normally satisfies. It appears that because they offer both extra noodles ($1) and a large bowl size, the hank that went into our bowls was 1/3 the normal size. There were not many noodles that I could hunt down to eat.

We left the restaurant feeling strangely unsatisfied. The manager behind the till tut-tutted when we told her about the missing vegetables and went to check with the kitchen and waitstaff. Hopefully the difficulties we had we our meal are just initial teething troubles.

Pho Pasteur

Shop 4001A

Westpoint Shopping Centre “on four”

Level 4, Patrick Street Blacktown

open daily “till late”

(02) 9622 1621

Review: Guzman Y Gomez, Newtown

Time to take a little break from Reverb10!

I had meant to go to Izote Mexican restaurant for dinner, but they looked
full-up and I wanted a quick meal, so I went to Goman y Gomez Mexican
takeaway instead.

This mob have been here for a while, even opening up a branch at the New
Westfield Centrepoint food court. It’s kind of like a fast and furious food
Mexican takeaway, with alcohol available as a tequila slushie or as a beer.

In the USA, particularly in California, you see these Mexican food wagons
everywhere. Pulled up into parking lots, or running around providing food
for construction sites. The less than polite nickname for them is the “chuck

This is the first time that I’ve been to Goman y Gomez, and it was crowded
and loud!

This was the first time I have gone to Guzman, so I didn’t know what to
pick. After pondering the menu, I got a Pork chipotle burrito with
guacamole. The guacamole costs $1 extra, and you don’t get very much,
perhaps a tablespoon full. The burrito itself took about 10 minutes to
prepare and felt very very heavy. You can also get a burrito in a bowl, the
supposed “lighter” option because it doesn’t come with a tortilla.

The burrito was very tasty, but not as hot (if at all) as the menu warned.
It was heavy going – I can see why you would get the mini-B for $6.90. The
black beans were small and interesting. It is hard to get non-tinned black
beans in Australia, the recommendation when cooking Mexican is to use “Black
Turtle Beans” which are larger and coarser. The beans in the burritos appear to be a small dense bean, much like the black bean used in chinese cooking for fermentation ala “black bean paste”.

I would’ve enjoyed my time at Goman y Gomez a lot more except for that when
I went up to pick my order from the counter, someone sitting next to me
decided to take my seat. Without asking. I thought that was the height of

For dessert I grabbed a strawberry and balsamic gelato from Ice and
Slice. Usually gelatomassi is my haunt (I adore their peanut butter gelato),
but Ice and Slice seemed to have a few interesting flavours which I shall
have to go back and sample.

( Y Gomez
175 King Street, Newtown 2042
(02) 9517 1533 ‎
Monday – Saturday: 11am – 11pm
Sunday:11am – 10pm

( and Slice Gelateria
135 King Street
Newtown, NSW 2042
Ph: (02) 9516 4595
Monday – Friday: 11am – late
Saturday – Sunday: 9am – late

Review: Pho 76, Green Valley

Apparently this place is quite famous for students of the local high schools. We were just looking for a place to host our Christmas lunch, so we came to Pho 76 to sample the menu.

Pho 76 is a little Chinese & Vietnamese resturant as part of the Green Valley Plaza. They also have a sister store as part of the Wetherill Park shopping centre, but I am informed that the original is the best.

The place is decked out with a red feature wall and chandeliers. There are
booths along one side of the wall, which is where we are seated.

We order:
Pho Bo (Beef Noodle Soup) $9.00
Bun Cha Gio (Spring roll vermicelli with Beef) $10.00
Muc Xao ot/Ran Muoi (Salt and Pepper Squid) $12.50
Mi Xao Don Thap Cam (Combination Crispy Noodles) $10.50

I get the spring roll vermicelli, even though it isn’t on the menu (it is at
Wetherill Park Store). The noodles are fat rice noodles instead of skinny
mung bean vermicelli rehydrated with hot water. The sauce is a weakened sweet chilli sauce which gets thick, sweet and cloying so that by the end of my dish it gets too much and I can’t finish it.

The salt & pepper squid is springy in texture, the batter having become slightly soggy whilst cooling down. It is served on a bed of crispy noodles, the only vegetables are the shallots which have also been deep fried.

The combination crispy noodles offer a good mix of flavours, and my colleague enjoys it immensely.

It turns out that I have been flavouring Vietnamese Beef soup incorrectly all these years! Instead of tasting the broth, then adding fresh lemon juice, fresh chilli, mung bean shoots and herbs to taste; You are supposed to get a sauce dish, and mix half hoi-sin sauce and half chilli sauce. You then proceed to add some to your soup, and then dip your beef into this sauce mixture before consuming. By the end of the pho, you’ve run out of sauce! I tasted some of the broth before this mixture was added, and it was flavourful and complex.

Tasty and cheap. Recommended.
Pho 76 Chinese and Vietnamese Restaurant

Shop 18a, Green Valley Plaza
178-193 Wilson Road
Green Valley 2168
(02) 9826 7676.
10.30am-9.30pm, 7days

Review: Lone Pine Tavern, Rooty Hill

I have been to the  Lone Pine Tavern (and Bistro) quite a few times, even before the Feros Group took over, remodelled it, and turned into a generic blonde pub with wood floors and fancy light fittings and noisy atmosphere. On Saturday nights, it’s quite a popular spot for the locals and their families.

The food is pretty good, but has alas suffered a price rise as a result of the new owners and the renovations. Unfortunately, the gourmet beer selection is lacking – no James Squires or Coopers, which really are the most mainstream offerings of the alternative beers. There is even XXXX on tap, but I think that particular tipple is only suited whilst sitting on the balcony of a Queenslander whilst baiting a crocodile for entertainment.

The Chicken Parmigiana

At $18, it is a bit expensive, but look at the size of the thing! Not only
that, it is delicious. With this dish, I have to share, otherwise I can only
finish the chicken and the salad.

The pizzas are good value , I was a fan of the Spanish prawn pizza (also $18), not so much of the chicken tandoori – mor because of the sameyness of tandoori than the actual pizza. I haven’t yet managed to finish one pizza in one sitting, however the kitchen is pretty good in supplying lengths of foil to wrap up your leftovers.

I have also tried the Moroccan Lamb with cous-cous, which was pretty tasty. But really, it was chargrilled lamb, with Morroccan-style cous cous. I wish there was a bit more of the very-liquid mint yoghurt sauce to finish up with.

The Seafood basket is all deep fried: doesn’t really float my boat, but has been popular on occasion with some of my friends, and the chicken casserole came with an amazing eight chicken drumsticks – one dish to share!

I would advise steering clear of the ‘thai’ salads. Unfortunately, tipping sweet chilli sauce over something does not make it “thai style”.

The Lone Pine offers good value and hearty gourmet pub fare, and is one of the better options in the Western sydney suburbs.

Lone Pine Tavern and Bistro
15 Rooty Hill Rd South Rooty Hill NSW 2766
Bistro hours 12-3pm lunch, 6-9pm dinner, 7 days
Phone (02) 9625-8475

Review: Miso Restaurant, World Square

I’m not in the city often enough to remember when this popped up*. Certainly it has been open for several months, and is run by the Matsuya group who also own the very succesful Makoto sushi train around the corner and the Japanese bar Musashi in Campbell st Chinatown. This place seats about 50, and it is less frantic than the other restaurants, almost calming and
Everyday they offer a different bento box special, and they also offer
something called ‘teishoku’. They describe this as a healthy set meal, often
served home-style on small plates, and designed to reset your body and mind.
The blurb says: “It is a nourishing combination of rice, main dish, miso soup, and fresh seasonal vegetables.”

Prices vary depending on what main meal component you order, but it is usually $18 on average.
The first time I visit I order the bento box of the day. Service is quick,
and it is delicious. The serving size is such that you feel satiated but not over full.
This time I want to try a ‘teishoku’ combination – wagyu beef and chirashi rice ($17.80), and gen ma cha ($3.80), the roasted rice green tea. I wonder – is Chirashi Sushi the dish that Ton Ton noodles offer at lunchtime?
The majority of the customers are Chinese, but next to me are some Greeks, one of whom is very insistent on getting chicken breast katsu don. Not the thigh, must be the breast. It takes about 10 minutes for my meal to arrive. There is a random selection for the little appetizers that come with your meal: this time I got a little dish of ramen with a light soy sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds; and something like a ball of pureed potato salad, complete with crunchy pickled vegetables.
I love this ‘potato salad mash’. It is just so moreish, probably because of the mayonaise mixed throughout. The beef is thickly cut, covered in ‘yakiniku’ sauce. This is tasty initially, and then when it cools, seems to taste very salty. Elsewhere on the interweb, I find out that this sauce can be a combination of hoisin, soy sauce, miso, lime juice, ginger, sesame oil and honey.
The chirashi sushi (aka ‘scattered sushi) was a bowl of medium grain rice, with thin slices of oily salmon, some of which have been seared with a blowtorch. There is a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds on top, and a bit of soy or similar sauce Yum! I finish every morsel.
By the time I get to dessert, I’m full. My neighbours have just received their tonkatsu sets – the menu warns that it takes 20 minutes to prepare the tonkatsu dish. There is the sound of happy crunching. I try a litte spoonful of what appears to be creme fraiche with a dollop of strawberry jam on top. Nice, but I’m happy with the tingling taste of sushi and beef remaining on my tastebuds. Recommended!

Miso Restaurant

Shop 20, World Square Shopping Centre (Hordern Arcade, Off Pitt Street)
644 George Street.
Lunch 11.45 a.m. – 2.30 p.m. Monday-Friday
Dinner 5.30 – 9.30 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Ph: (02) 9283 9686

* Website says since May 2008. Really?

Review: Ton Ton Noodles, Regent Place

Ton Ton Noodles

Originally uploaded by A Sydney Foodie

My sister had been raving about this place, and how they had a salad very similar to the Kaiso Salad at Sushisuma which I am so fond of.

We got here at prime time on a Friday night, and tables were hard to find. People were lurking, territorially over the heads of people who were leisurly slurping the last of their matcha green tea milkshakes from the café. The head of Azuma, was surveying his domain, ensuring that all customers had a place to sit: whether it be in the Noodle area, or in the café next door.

We ordered Nagasaki Chambon ($12.80), with the addition of a boiled egg ($2), and black sesame ramen. Service was quick, and luckily we had snaffled a table.

The Nagasaki Chambon was the standout favourite – delicious and moreish. It came with chinese cabbage, wood ear mushroom, prawn, bean sprouts, a prawn, a few pieces of katsu chicken, and the broth was rich and tasty I couldn’t stop eating!. The black sesame ramen was interesting: It came with a quick splash of a black, almost oily, sesame “sludge”. In comparison, the broth seemed almost plain. I suspect that the diner is supposed to swirl the sesame sludge around throughout the broth, but we didn’t for fear of making everything taste the same.

I visited again on a Wednesday night, and what a contrast to the Friday night! Tables were much easier to get, and there was a steady stream of takeaway customers. The Nagasaki Chambon didn’t seem as delicious as last time, it seemed almost plain and boring.

There is an interesting meal deal you can get: any $9.80 ramen dish, plus hand roll and gyoza, for a total of $12.50 There is also beer (Asahi and Sapporo), and BYO for a $2 corkage per person fee.

You know what? Looking at the history of the place, I think I have been here before! Was this the Japanese restaurant in Crows nest, where you got to eat like a sumo wrestler, and grind up your own sesame seed dipping sauce??

Ton Ton noodles
Regent Place, corner George and Bathurst Street, Sydney City (underneath the Lumiere building).
11am – 10pm last service, daily.

Review: Becco, Melbourne

Becco, Melbourne

Originally uploaded by A Sydney Foodie

I had the luck of being in Melbourne for work, and even better had a few hours at the end of the conference to go shopping (Gertrude Street, Smith street where unfortunately Ammo was closed, and then Brunswick Street). You can see the men I work with roll their eyes when I say I am going shopping before dinner.

I had had plans originally to go to Hutong dumpling for dinner – but they were fully booked out!

Anyway, a colleague had made a reservation at Becco. He had wanted to try Becco with his wife on the last trip, but unfortunately that time, it was fully booked out.
Busy night. Staff were quite intent on having us order a drink prior to ordering food, and it wasn’t until we had sat at the table chatting for 20 minutes with the wine menu unopened, did we

Oysters – three kinds available. Smokey Bay (SA), St Helens (Tas), Wallis Lake (NSW). I got three each of the Smokey Bay and St Helens. I figured that those two were the most closest thing to ‘local’. They came on a bed of ice, freshly shucked, ‘juice’ still intact. I tried mine both with and without lemon, and definitely preferred

The pasta of the day – sounded so delicious, that 3 out of 4 ended up getting it in one form or another. Spaghetti tossed with olive oil, calamari, cherry tomatoes, rocket or watercress, chilli and pickled ginger. After my oysters and bread, I found the main size hard going – I wished I had asked for it entree size!

As much as I would have liked to have tried the cheese platter ($18/50g, or $24 for 3 cheeses), there was just not enough space to fit it in.

It was good to not be rushed out after our meals, unlike some places trying to fit in two or more covers per table per night.

Becco Bar & Restaurant
11-25 Crossley St
Melbourne 3000 VIC
Phone: (03) 9663 3000
Mon-Sat noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm

Review: La Piadina, Bondi

NQN reviewed La Piadina earlier, which is what put me on to this place. Having finished my business up the road, I wandered over late on a Wednesday, the worst bit was having to find a legal parking place.

I have heard of piadina before, having sampled it at Piadina Slow Food, Melbourne many moons ago. That time, we had rocked up at 1345, just after the lunchtime rush, and *all* the slow cooked food was gone. The chef offered to cook us a Piadina instead. There, the piadina is cooked in a small cast iron pan, and rich with fillings. Very delicious, and about the same price, albeit a few years ago.

Anyway, we were talking about La Piadina, weren’t we?

The place was pretty buzzy and had a friendly atmosphere. There were cartoons projected on the rangehood, and a great funky blues music playing. The piadina bread was cooked on the flat oven plate underneath the rangehood, as well as the freshly sliced meats before the piadina was assembled on its wooden serving board and presented for my consumption.

I got # 5 (the spicy Spanish sausage or cured ham), and #10 (eggplant, mushroom and cherry tomato). Both were delicious, and #5 was indeed hot – I peeked inside and spotted chilli seeds. The mushroom one was swoony with the mushroom fragrance and quite tasty. I had the remainder reheated for breakfast.

No. 5 had a white gooey cheese which was quite plain in taste. Not mozzarella, not bocconcini, something else.

It would be a good type of thing to share amongst people. I know that there is quite a bit of labour involved – they make their own dough – a bit like pizza dough but with lard, according to this article. Wow, have piadina’s been that common in Melbourne since 2006?

You pay $15 for No. 5, then you get a flat piadina, half the size of a leb bread, and you think: is that it?

I guess that they’re sort of justified in charging that price, but when you look at it, really, you think that these things should’ve been in the order of $5-8 apiece for the size, not $13-15. They had their own GIANT meat slicer on the premises though, so they’re slicing the hams etc themselves.

It was nice, I ate 1 ¾ piadinas, but at $27 for dinner, that is one of the more expensive of my food safaris. Don’t know if I’ll be doing it again. I guess it is one of those things that inspires you about what to put in your sandwich, or perhaps how to serve party snacks (and would be very easy to do on your own if you have a sandwich press).