Monday, 23 June 2014
When I visited Sydney a couple of weeks ago, BL and I spent a couple of afternoons eating our way around Cabramatta, which, for the uninitiated, is the Vietnamese epicentre of Sydney and located an hour by train west of the CBD.
Seriously, you’ll feel as if you’re back in Hanoi, albeit, without all the motorbikes and street stalls. Oh, and the heat… okay, you’re not back in Hanoi, but let’s just say you could pretend you’re in a very orderly Vietnamese city.
There are dozens of restaurants once you step onto the main street of Cabramatta. When we visited on a Saturday, most had queues out the door. Our first mission was to find a bowl of life-affirming phở bò, which is why we could not go past a restaurant that advertises ‘Pho for everyone’. We squeezed in between the small tables laden with steaming bowls of noodle goodness, and was lucky to get a table as there was just the two of us. The menu is on a signboard on the wall, and with a choice of phở, phở or more phở. The small bowls are a steal at < $10.
Wednesday, 18 June 2014
I always thought instant noodles were desperation rations for those days when I can’t be bothered to cook, or go to the supermarket, okay, when I can’t even be motivated to leave the house. And it’s certainly not something you brag about eating… even though Indomie mi goreng can be strangely addictive....
Then I chanced upon ramenrater.com, and found a whole instant noodle subculture. There are people who blog about these lowliest of foods. Seriously. Guess what, there are some really good instant noodles out there. And the part which truly blew me away was a good number of these impressive ramen came from Malaysia and Singapore. No. Freaking. Way.
How did I miss all this? After a study of the Top 10, BL and I decided to see if we could track a few of them down in Sydney, and found them in the various Vietnamese Supermarkets in Cabramatta where we were visiting for lunch (Prima Taste instant noodles are available at Tai Ping Supermakets, and MyKuali is available from e-pacs in Auckland). These were the three contenders which we picked for the challenge:
Monday, 26 May 2014
Masu, part of the SkyCity complex, needs no introduction after being named the 2014 Metro Restaurant of the Year Supreme Winner. We decided to come here for lunch to celebrate BL’s birthday. We booked online, and they ring you the day before to confirm, a nice touch. The layout of the restaurant is beautiful, I love the way wood and stone are used to convey an elegant simplicity.
The kitchen is divided into three sections; a sushi bar, the robata grill and the kitchen. Each is staffed with multiple chefs (I counted nine in total across the three stations on a reasonably quiet Sunday lunch).
Monday, 19 May 2014
Baduzzi is an Italian trattoria under the helm of Michael Dearth of The Grove. This is in a lower-price range, but with all the creativity and passion, which goes into his other restaurant.
This place is a visual delight, with its leather blanquettes, customised wallpaper, marble tabletops, mirrored walls and chic industrial ceiling. I love that they use coloured crockery; the bright green of their plates was a herald of good things to come. As a retired Catholic though, the idea of a Virgin Mary salt spoon was just a touch too uncomfortable. The service is top-notch; you get a warm greeting followed by friendly and attentive service for the rest of the meal. There are even blankets for the cooler evenings if you choose to dine in the covered courtyard.
And then, there is the food. I could wax lyrical about the food at Baduzzi… and I will. The food is innovative, visually stunning and tastes fabulous. The menu has changed slightly each of the three times I’ve visited since the end of last year.
Monday, 12 May 2014
Just when you think Auckland has reached a maximum awesomeness of bakeries, here’s another one which nudges the bar up another notch. La Bottega Bakery is an absolutely delightful Italian bakery, which has just expanded its repertoire to a delicious brunch menu (this review is based on a previous menu; the current menu is available here). There is seating in a rustic courtyard which is nicely screened from the elements.
The service is charming, and helpful. While I have stopped here for pastry takeaways and marvelled at their sandwiches during the week, BL and I were here for their new weekend brunch menu.
Monday, 5 May 2014
Four Seasons Restaurant is the training ground for up and coming culinary professionals learning their trade at AUT’s Culinary School. This is set up as a fine-dining restaurant, with student chefs in the kitchen, student front-of-house staff and a tutor supervisor ensuring everything goes according to plan. Due to the student staff, bookings are essential. The restaurant is only open during the week and during semester times, and the menu changes every semester. They also do a degustation dinner one week per month. Prices at Four Seasons are incredibly reasonable; - $10 for an entrée, $20 for a main and $10 for desserts.
This was the venue for the third Dumpling Club evening outing; 12 of us made our way to the AUT’s WH Building, into an inviting space and a beautifully set up table. There’s something about an origami napkin that still delights me. The student staff were very attentive, though quite shy and were tentative in their interactions with the guests.
The restaurant is fully licensed, and there is also a good selection of non-alcoholic beverages, including the All Good Organics’ range of soft drinks.
Monday, 28 April 2014
Tianze Dumpling House opened in December 2013 just down the road from my office. I don’t know if it was a sign, but the Dumpling Club executive team made its reconnaissance visit a mere week after it opened, and brought the rest of the hungry gang a couple of months later.