Posts Tagged ‘review’

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

Ryo’s Noodles, take two

No sooner had I blogged about my my first visit to Ryo’s Noodles, then I managed to arrange to meet up for lunch with my friend Sarah. Destination: Ryo’s Noodles!*

This time, the queue at 1pm was a little longer, but we still got our seats at the bar within 20 minutes.

Eyeing off the Top 5 menu, this time I chose No. 3: “Hot and Spicy Ramen with pork, soya egg, scallions”, and Sarah chose the “Miso Ramen with pork, half soya egg scallions, ”, and of course the pork rice ball and the cod roe rice ball. On reflection, we ought to have chosen the “pickle rice ball” instead of the latter, since I was there to try new things. Next time.

The ramen came out first, and we dug in, with the rice balls coming out a few minutes later. Apparently there were no knives available to split the rice balls, and so I had a go of hacking the rice balls into two pieces with my very blunt chopstick. The pork rice ball was as good as I remember, the perhaps we had left the cod roe rice ball too long on the plate – it didn’t have those cold pearls of salty goodness bursting in your mouth – it appears the roe got cooked from the heat of the warm rice.

The thing that I noted most (and missed most!) was the slice of seaweed that adorned most other ramen dishes. The hot and spicy flavour was nice, cutting through the oiliness of the tokotsu broth. Which started congealing in pools almost as soon as the bowl arrived!

The other thing that I noticed was that although both ramen dishes came with soya egg, the Miso one only had half an egg rather than the whole one of the hot and spicy flavour. Midway, we swapped, and Miso flavour in comparison tasted like sucking miso paste off a spoon. The flavour was so strong!! Whilst I was eating this one, I said that I preferred the hot and spiciness of my own, but of course once I switched back, I couldn’t handle the broth anymore. Sarah did like her Miso one – I guess it is a case of what you get used to, or what dish turns up first. She agreed on the deliciousness of the pork rice ball, and the almost creamy tuna-like quality.

Next time, I think I would have to try the Soy Ramen (No. 2 on the Top 5, I think). You get a simpler taste of salt/soy rather than the overpowering taste of Miso.

In other news: I have found two better stockists of the Sonoma bread on the north shore.

1. Taste Organic (145 Falcon Street, Crows Nest), here, stocks Sonoma, with only a small markup on the direct-bakery price (39cents on a loaf of soylin). Not only that, but it is just up the road from Ryo’s.

2. Thomas Dux (13-19 Willoughby Road Crows Nest), owned by Woolworths. I must’ve been blind not to see this one whilst walking up Willoughby Road last time. They stock Sonoma, Brasserie Bread and Byron Bay Bread. Yummo!

*this shows you just how long it takes me to get around to writing some of these posts. Not all the time though.

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: 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).