Posts Tagged ‘western sydney secrets’

Circa Espresso, Parramatta

When the trio of cafes Three Ropes, Paper Plane Cafe and Circa opened in Parramatta, I got pretty darn excited. At last, little laneway style coffee was available to me, and I didn’t have to travel to Melbourne or Sydney city to get it!

Unfortunately, Three Ropes has now shut because of an entire block redevelopment for the UWS/WSU Western Sydney University campus, but the other two live on.

Circa prides itself on using local produce.

Breakfast Rice ($13):

Breakfast Rice

I liked the combination of flavours, and a wonderfully pink poached pear. This will fill you up. I had to take my leftovers with me in my reusable coffee cup.

Ottoman Eggs ($17):
Ottoman Eggs

I seriously chose this dish because of the existence of garlic labneh. Interestingly, in order to make the accompanying bread ‘seedy’, a plain slice of sourdough had been buttered and sprinkled with a sesame seed and poppyseed combo. A good way to just get over kind of bread, and offer it two ways.

Baked eggs ($19):
Baked Eggs

I have been making shashuska at home for ages. This reminded me of that slow cooked egg dish, but with sucjuk – a spicy Turkish sausage. Inspiration! The following weekend I made my shashuka with nduja – which is pretty darn hard to find in Sydney!

Circa Espresso
street: 21 Wentworth Street, Parramatta NSW 2150
M-F: 0700-1500
S-S: 0800-1500


Sun Catering, Wentworthville

Masala Dosai is one of the few Indian style foods that I crave. I love the thin crispy pancake, and getting all grubby in eating with my fingers.

So when my friend gave a hot tip to try Sun Catering in Wentworthville, I had to make the effort and try it. The place has two bain maries with precooked food – one is the vegetarian one, the other the meat one. These were popular with the locals in ordering four curries & rice.

Masala Dosai ($6):

Masala Dosa

Served on a metal food platter, we have a hot coconut chutney (orange colour), a slightly sour green chutney (also coconut based), and the sambal. The filling in the crepe interestingly not only has the standard potatoes and peas, but also curry leaves, coriander, corn and carrot. One dossai is a bit too much for me to finish, so I wrapped up my leftovers in a napkin, and reheated them later in the jaffle iron.

Sun Catering
Street: 9 Station Street, Wentworthville, NSW, 2145
Phone: 61-2-86267861
MFSS (7 days): 1100 – 2200.

Appearing soon: Bourke Street Bakery!

Opening on Monday 27 April 2015:

Bourke Street Bakery!!!!

Landing soon...


They’ve snapped up a spot that used to host a Delifrance, followed by a Brazillian cafe, then by Sweet Street cafe (which had lovely fruit tarts), right near where the Artisans Apprentice Bakery used to be.

Bourke Street Bakery
street: Shop 17/162-172 Church Street, Parramatta, 2150
Connection Arcade/Parramatta Pedestrian Mall.

Phone: 61-2-9893-9075
M-F: 0700-1600

Post-Post Note: As of February 2016, due to the UWS/WSU behemoth taking up an entire city block, BSB is now located at:
1/186-190 Church Street, Parramatta, 2150.

On tour: Canley Vale Progressive Lunch – part two

To recap, my friend M had invited me on a trial tour of Canley Vale, run by taste tours and the benevolent society. This is part two.

Waddling down the road, we then stopped at…
Henry Steamed Buns

We tasted some of the custard buns….

Henry Steam Buns custard

Amazing, bright yellow filling and very very egg-y in flavour. I have made these in the past, and I did cheat slightly with the addition of custard powder. My ones were lacking the fluffiness of the bun, because I tried to spread it across two many buns – they were more dumpling than bun.

Henry Steam Buns times two

We each got a packet of two buns, a giant one, and a smaller one. We were too full from lunch to sample our packs immediately.

The larger bun was a very tasty vegie bun. I saw water chestnut, corn, cabbage, peas and carrots. Very pleased to see the variety of veges in there – vego ones can sometimes be really disappointing.

I thought that the second one was supposed to be a pork bun and was initially disappointed when I opened it up and it looked like it was a red bean bun! I heated up the bun and was very surprised to find that it was actually pork!! The sauce was so red and the meat was so tightly packed in that it looked like red bean mixture. Amazing. I loved that there was lots of meat rather than too much gravy. The vege bun was pretty tasty as well.

This place was a little gem. Just make sure that if you are after a BBQ pork bun, you specify this.

Everyone else had wandered a bit further down the road, and we found them at the Passion Cafe.
Binh gave use a run down on how the green pandan flavoured ‘worms’ are made in the three colour drink.
Three colour drink

The tall glasses were then returned to the kitchen, to be divided up into smaller sample containers. We had, after all, finished lunch a mere 15 minutes beforehand.

Drinks at the Passion Cafe

A sampler of ‘tamarind iced drink’ was also distributed (on the right, above). This was indeed an interesting drink. Icy cold with sour tamarind, sweet palm sugar, roast peanuts and little pieces of crystalline ginger. Very refreshing.

I saw that little vietnamese coffee drippers were available, so before departing on my way, I ordered one to go. You take one sip, and it’s like: BLAM! The punch of serious caffeine, sugar and ice just whacks you about the head. Lucky I hadn’t yet had any coffee that day, or else I would have had trouble sleeping.

I might have to make a return visit to try their other options!

Before leaving the area, we went a little further up the road to visit Canley Heights. This place was buzzing with people, and we popped into a small grocery store off the main road to see what we could find.

I first spotted the greens, and some of which we had been discussing that day in the restaurant.

Canley Heights greens

From left to right we have: kang kong (ong choy, tong choy, water spinach or Ipomoea aquatica), Vietnamese Mint (Vietnamese Coriander, hot mint, or Persicaria_odorata), Rice Paddy Herb (or Limnophila aromatica). The first one I ate, the latter two I didn’t quite get around to eating the entire bunch, but I did strike some cuttings in a pot, and they are taking over. I asked the shop assistant what the vietnamese name for rice paddy herb was – she said that it was very long, but that it was used to make Tom Yum soup.

The dry goods that I found:

Canley Heights booty 1

A ginger tea in a bag that doesn’t contain any sugar, tamarind paste (seeds included), and roast rice powder – to save me from dry roasting and then hand grinding in a mortar and pestle when I want to make the thai salad dish larb. I really liked the tea to add a bit more oomph to a standard lemon and ginger tea, when I don’t have access to fresh ginger.

I enjoyed myself so much here, that I came back again a few days later to buy some more pork rolls.

Henry steam buns
Shop 3/17 canley vale road

Passion cafe
15 Canley Vale road
0700-2200, daily

On Tour: Canley Vale Progressive Lunch – Part One

My friend M had emailed me a deal I couldn’t refuse: A foodie tour of Canley Vale in the Fairfield council area for the bargain price of $30 instead of RRP $55.


Trackwork on the train line meant that I, who normally would need to change trains got to catch a direct one there: whilst other friends had to change trains twice.


There were two reasons why this particular tour was so cheap:
1) it was being run as a trial with the aim of developing a full tour of the area
2) it was being sponsored by the council.

Hurray. After meeting our brightly t-shirted taste volunteers at the station we went across the road to the N.S.W Tien Hau Temple.

Tien Hau templeThis temple has been built in 1995 by Vietnamese refugees in the area as a tribute to the goddess Tien Hau (天后, Lim Mak Ngeo), who they felt had guaranteed then safe passage through the South China Seas. Our guide, Binh, remembers being one hungry small child in one of those boats, and how the first meal she had on land was the best tasting meal she’s ever had. Really a very sobering thought.

Tien Ha temple, canley vale

Binh also told us about the fortune telling/divining rituals, and how the temple was staffed entirely by volunteers – no full time monk here.

Next up: Canley Vale hot bread shop.

So I’ve been to a few of those places seeking the varieties of the banh mi – pork roll. Normally you get a choice of pork, chicken, salad.

Canley Vale bakery

Here the choices were: pork, BBQ pork, pork meatballs, fish cake, egg, omelet, tuna, plus almost any combination of the above. Binh described the process of making the mayonnaise, the pate and the hot pink pork sliced sausage. If you were keen, you could also buy your own 1kg tub of either mayo or pate at a very respectable $14/$16. The fish cake roll – with the tastebud scorching chilli was very delicious. If I didn’t know that I had lunch coming up, I would’ve bought another roll.

Each taster also got a can of grass jelly drink. I’m afraid I missed the spiel, I just remember that the grass jelly was a relative of the mint family. I have had this drink before. I like it when the grass jelly are big cubes of wobbliness, rather than tiny hard squares as in this can.

Bach Dang Vietnamese Restaurant
Whilst walking from parking her car to our meet up location, my friend M had wandered past a restaurant with the most amazing aroma wafting out from the kitchen. This place was a little bit fancier, what with padded chairs and carpet and all.

On the menu:
-Caramel Fish and soup (two dishes)
-Spring Rolls
-Bean Curd with butter and garlic
-Veg pancakes
-Campfire beef

Spring rolls:

Bach Dang: spring rolls

The spring rolls were flavoursome and tasty, and not your usual fare. I think I picked up taro, vermicelli noodles, black wood ear fungus in the mix. How unlike the standard chinese ‘spring roll’ contents of not much!

I was super excited when the vietnamese pancake banh xeo turned up.

Bach dang - veg pancake

Clap my hands happy. Clap. Clap. ‘Banh’ means cake, ‘Xeo’ means sizzling. This is one of my favourite dishes to order whenever I see it on the menu. This is the first time I have seen a vegetarian version – filled with lovely fat slices of tofu, mushrooms, bean sprouts. Utterly delicious.

Campfire beef before:
Bach Dang - campfire beef before

This is the dish just after it got brought to the table, and the methylated spirits was set alight. You then needed to ‘stir’ the dish (two soup spoons worked best), so that the onions and beef cooked throughout. We had two dishes of this on the table, and one worked, and one was a bit raw.

Campfire beef after:
Bach dang - campfire beef after

As you can see, it makes a right royal mess of the cooking bowl. You can kind of see why this is a special occasion dish, rather than an everyday one.

Butter and garlic tofu:
Bach dang - butter and garlic bean curd

I don’t know why this stuff was bright yellow, but the batter on the tofu was very thick, almost biscuit like. I cut the tougher sides off mine before eating the silken tofu insides. The crispy garlic and spring onion mix was very moreish. Like salt and pepper tofu, but extra yum.

Sour fish soup:
Bach Dang - fish soup
This is a traditional Vietnamese dish – an every day food. First, a silver perch is seared, and then poached in tamarind broth. This is flavoured with rice paddy herb and elephant ear stem. Normally it has pork added, but this one didn’t.

The soup was very sour! The rice paddy herb added citrus/cumin flavours, and the elephant ear stem added a spongy texture – but like tofu, it doesn’t have any flavour itself. I also picked up flavours of garlic, okra and tomato.

Caramel Fish:
Bach dang - caramel fish

By contrast, the caramel fish was very sweet, and you are supposed to eat this mixed through your rice. I ate this caramel fish first, and it tasted really sour. After a tasting of the sour soup, the caramel fish tasted really sweet!

Tien Hau Temple
124-128 Railway Parade, Canley Vale NSW 2166

Canley Vale Bakery
4/32-34 Canley Vale Road, Canley Vale NSW 2166

Bach Dang Vietnamese restaurant
Tue-fri: 1000-1430, 1700-2200
Sat-Sun: 1000-2200
46 canley vale road, Canley Vale NSW 2166

Vege Delight Restaurant, Quakers Hill

I had a dinner date with a friend. She suggested we try a new place that had opened in Quakers Hill. We are both fans of the Masala Dosa (!Crispy! I must always have this crispy), so we decided to give Vege Delight a try.

Their slogan is: “No Egg, No Meat, No Worries!”

The restaurant was empty at 630pm on a weekday night, but as we were finishing up it started to fill. The takeaway menu is slightly different to the eat-in, mainly in that some of the set meals are not available. There seem to be quite a few dishes that I have not seen at other places, including Makki Di Roti – a corn based bread, Jal Jeera and Badam milk beverages. The prices are the same for eat in or takeaway.

We ordered:

Masala Dosa ($12.90)
Dal Makhini ($10.90)
Saag thali set meal, which included two pieces of Makki Di Roti ($18.90)
Jal Jeera ($3.90)

Unfortunately, there was no Badam milk available, so I went without. It sounds a bit like the Mexican horchatas drink: Milk with a richness of almonds and sugar topped with saffron and cardamon. You can see why I wanted to try it.

The Masala Lassi arrived first. This was described as a beverage with tangy Indian spices .
It was nice and refreshing with a good sour tang. It took away the heat of the dishes without the heaviness that a mango lassi offers.

The saag thali set meal was next to arrive:

Vege Delight

Clockwise from top left of the tray we have makki di roti, Sarson da Saag, Paneer Makhni, a ginger and green chilli pickle, a turnip salad (mooli salad). You can also see the masala lassi on the far left.

The corn based bread, Makki di roti, is awesome. This is the first time that I have seen this style of bread on a menu. We are assured at the time of ordering that it is wheat free*.

Saag is an intense green dish made from ‘mustard leaves’ and spinach. It’s what a Punjabi Popeye would eat. I find it is too intense to eat on its own, so it is good the set dish comes with a variety of tastes. The ginger and chilli pickle is deceptively mild and tasty, until you find a chilli seed that blows your head off. Paneer Makhni tastes like an overly sweet “butter chicken” sauce, but with cubes of paneer cheese.

Dal Makhini:

Vege Delight - Dal Makhni

I ordered this dish as a just in case I got hungry. It is black lentils slow cooked with tomato, ginger, coriander and butter. It reminded me a lot of an Indian version of refried beans, and worked quite well mixed with steamed rice.

Masala Dosa:

Vege Delight

The Masala dosa is very crispy, and the accompanying sambal is light and refreshing without too much chilli. The coconut chutney has a slightly sour fermented taste, and is not quite to my liking.

* Unfortunately for my gluten-free friend, the stomach pains later on suggested that perhaps the corn bread was not “wheat free”. In addition, I check my Book of Asian Ingredients which states that the recipe uses corn meal and atta flour; “Atta flour is fine wholemeal flour … Other flours bearing the name atta are bajra atta (millet flour) or jowar atta (sorghum flour). However atta usually refers to wheat flour. “. Perhaps this is a misunderstanding on our part in not confirming what the ingredients were. Perhaps to the waitress, ‘atta flour’ is not the same as ‘wheat flour’.

I will be visiting this place again for the sheer variety of different vegetarian dishes available. You can even order pizza/pasta dishes with an Indian twist. However, if you are someone with food intolerances, it would be advised to double and triple check the ingredients before you order, to avoid any misunderstandings.

Vege Delight Restaurant, Quakers Hill
street: 6 Douglas Road, Quakers Hill NSW
phone: +61-2-9837-0307