Review: Mr Wong (Sydney CBD)

This year my sister chose Mr Wong to celebrate her birthday. Despite being hidden in an obscure lane in the CBD, the Cantonese restaurant displays the Merivalesque fanciness of its relatives.

Mr Wong

Service was prompt and knowledgeable. The wine suggestion went well with the food and worked perfectly for the birthday toast.

Ginger beer, pinot noir

Home made ginger beer, pinot noir

We ordered two roast meats and a vegetable side to share: half Chinese roasted duck, roasted five spice pork belly and four types of braised mushrooms stir-fried with bamboo shoots and asparagus, all adorned by the asterisk that indicates dishes that can be prepared sans gluten.

As you may or may not know, Cantonese food is very popular in Peru, and we miss it sometimes. Unfortunately, we haven’t found a Cantonese restaurant in Sydney aligned to our palates. Until now. The roasted duck was superb, including the sauce.

Chinese roasted duck

Chinese roasted duck (half $34)

Same with the pork belly. Granted, this is not a traditional Cantonese dish, but it was tasty. I preferred the duck, though. The red sauce was the same sweet sauce that came with the duck, the yellow one was a sinus-clearing horseradish sauce.

Roasted pork belly

Roasted five spice pork belly

The stir-fried veggies were a winner. I love mushrooms, and I love that Chinese people love mushrooms (and know how to cook them).

Four types of braised mushrooms stirfried with bamboo shoots and asparagus

Four types of braised mushrooms stirfried with bamboo shoots and asparagus ($24)

Mr Wong
3 Bridge Lane
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9240 3000
merivale.com.au/mrwong

Mr Wong on Urbanspoon

Review: Brew Collective (Sydney CBD)

This is almost literally a hole in the wall on Kent Street, very close to my office. I’ve tried my two usual beverages: cold drip and long black, and both have been awesome. This is definitely my favourite coffee shop close to work. Service is friendly and quick (at least when I’ve been there).

Brew Collective

They do food, too: some pre-prepared salads, sandwiches/wraps and pastries.

Food

Food

Brew Collective
Shop 2, LG, 1 Margaret Street Sydney (enter via Kent Street)
Sydney, Australia
0404 997 675
www.brewcollective.com.au
On Facebook

Brew Collective on Urbanspoon

Review: Braza (Darling Harbour)

Brazilian BBQ. All you can eat delicious meat. No words required.

Pork belly

Pork belly

Chicken hearts

Chicken hearts

Pork neck

Pork neck

Chicken wrapped in bacon

Chicken wrapped in bacon

Rump cap

Rump cap

Chicken drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks

Salad

Salad

Sides

Sides

Beef ribs

Beef ribs

Okay, maybe a few words can be said. I liked that they have a list of foods that people with different allergies/intolerances can’t eat. There’s a live samba show with great drumming that reminded me of some Sepultura tunes. Meats are nice (the beef ribs are the best IMO), but overall it was not my favourite Brazilian BBQ, in part because it’s more expensive than others.

Braza
Darling Quarter, 1-25 Harbour Street
Sydney NSW
(02) 9286 3733
www.braza.com.au

Braza on Urbanspoon

Review: Sedap Malaysian Kopitiam (Sydney CBD)

My CBD lunch friend Sebastian really wanted to try this Malaysian restaurant. He sent me a link to a positive review. I, of course, went to Urbanspoon and discovered the percentage of likes was 45. Hmmm… I still decided to give it a shot, and also eat somewhere that was not picked by me, for a change.

Sedap Malaysian

Menus

Once there we were handed lunch menus and Sebastian discovered everything he wanted to try was in the dinner menu. Laziness was stronger than common sense and we stayed.

Sedap Malaysian

Cups and jugs

He ordered the Nasi Lemak with Sambal Kangkong and Beef Rendang with Roti. The rendang was okay, and Sebastian approved the roti. The problem was the nasi lemak, described as “a fragrant coconut rice dish served with hard-boiled egg, salted peanuts, anchovies, sambal sauce, cucumber slices”. The sambal was quite sweet and not spicy at all, and the coconut rice tasted like rice cooked in the water used for rinsing a glass that once had coconut water. There, I said it. Sorry, Sedap.

Nasi Lemak with Sambal Kangkong

Nasi Lemak with Sambal Kangkong ($12)

Beef Rendang with Roti

Beef rendang with roti ($13)

I ordered the Asam Laksa, which I had never tried (I always have the more common curry-based laksa), consisting in a “clear rice noodle in tamarind flavour fish-based soup served with fish, pineapple, cucumber, red onion, mint, red chilli and prawn paste”. The menu goes on to say that it is ranked “No. 7 world most delicious food by CNN 2011″. Oh, the marketing! Anyway, the “fish” turned out to be a few anchovies and the whole thing was sweeter than dessert. This was one of the few occasions I left more than half of my meal, and one of the few occasions when I resorted to eating peanuts to fill me up.

Asam laksa

Asam laksa ($10)

Sebastian apologised for bringing me there but I was happy we were even after the day he hated me for feeding him bland meatballs.

Sedap Malaysian Kopitiam
10/501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9262 7979

Sedap on Urbanspoon

Mahamudra Course 2015 – Ballina Beach Village

This year we held our East Coast national course in the same venue than last year.

Buddha

Great teachings, great friends, great parties, great food.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Dinner

Dinner

Dinner

Bar menu

Bar staff

Cocktails

Antipasto

This year we had a bit of bad weather thanks to the cyclon in QLD, and a water and power outage for 8-10 hours due to a road accident. Interesting circumstances and great opportunities for watching our minds. We’ll be back around the same time next year.

Ballina Beach Village
440 S Ballina Beach Rd
Ballina NSW 2478
(02) 6686 3347
www.ballinabeachvillage.com.au

Review: Croutons Soup Bar (Sydney CBD)

One day I took a different path back to work from the post office and found this takeaway soup bar kind of hidden close to the service entrance to Woolies. I like soup and they had some gluten-free ones.

Entrance

Croutons Soup Bar

Soups are kept hot in soup pots, each with a label indicating the list of ingredients. I have read reviews complaining about the soups being lukewarm, but that wasn’t the case when I tried one.

Soups menu

Soups

There are also free herbs and condiments you can grab/add to your soup, with clear instructions in a sign depicting Seinfeld’s soup nazi.

Condiments instructions

Condiments

I tried the roast beef and vegetable soup, which was nice. Not as good as homemade but close enough. One con is that they serve it in nasty styrofoam containers.

Roast beef and vegetable soup

Roast beef and vegetable soup ($8.50, regular)

They also have gourmet bowls that IMO are not that gourmet. I tried a coconut & lemongrass fish bowl that was quite ordinary.

Gourmet bowls menu

Fish bowl

Coconut & lemongrass fish bowl ($10)

Croutons Soup Bar
g27/60 Margaret Street
Sydney NSW 2000
0433 175 031
On Facebook

Croutons Soup Bar on Urbanspoon

Review: Cocowhip coconut ice cream in Sadhana Kitchen (Enmore)

One of the highlights of summer this year was the introduction of Cocowhip vegan ice cream in Sadhana Kitchen. This soft serve is made entirely from coconut flesh & coconut water and incredibly creamy.

Wagon Wheel Sundae Cocowhip, Original Cocowhip with caramel sauce, Tim Tam Slam Cocowhip

Out of the four sundae options, they had sold out on the salted caramel. We ordered the other three to share between three. We had the simplest one (Original Cocowhip) with both cacao and coconut soft serve twisted together, topped with caramel sauce and cacao nibs. Simple but great.

Original Cocowhip with caramel sauce

Original Cocowhip ($7)

We chose plain coconut cocowhip for the Tim Tam Slam Cocowhip, which comes with a house made tim tam, cacao nibs and house made chocolate sauce. I haven’t had a real Tim Tam in almost 5 years but I’m pretty sure this one didn’t come close, in a good way. It was decadent, delicious and low in the guilt factor.

Tim Tam Slam Cocowhip

Tim Tam Slam Cocowhip ($13)

We also had plain coconut cocowhip in the Wagon Wheel Sundae Cocowhip, topped with half a house made wagon wheel, raspberry chia jam, cacao nibs and house made chocolate sauce. I liked this one a bit better than the Tim Tam Slam thanks to the tartness of the raspberry chia jam. I must admit I have never had a real Wagon Wheel so can’t compare.

Wagon Wheel Sundae Cocowhip

Wagon Wheel Sundae Cocowhip ($13)

Sadhana Kitchen
147 Enmore Road
Enmore NSW 2042
(02) 9516 1334
www.sadhanakitchen.com
On Facebook

Sadhana Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Review: 2042 Cafe & Deli (Newtown)

Holy crap, it took me almost 4 years to come back to this wonderful cafe. I heard from John that they had changed menus recently, and that prompted our visit.

2042 Cafe & Deli

Specials blackboard

We knew the place had good food; this time what blew us away was the service. Our waitress was efficient, knowledgeable and had terrific memory.

2042 Cafe & Deli

We ordered three dishes to share between three: warm duck breast salad with crispy bacon, pickled Brussel sprouts, kipfler potato, baby sorrel & orange dressing, smoked Wagyu beef sandwich with sauerkraut, pickles, cheese, Reuben style on GF bread, and pork belly burger with bacon, cheese, chipotle mayo, lettuce & BBQ on GF bread.

Warm duck breast salad

Warm duck breast salad ($25)

Smoked Wagyu beef sandwich

Smoked Wagyu beef sandwich ($15)

Pork belly burger

Pork belly burger ($15)

Yeah, that was a lot of bread (and cheese), but totally worth it. Everything was delicious, with the scale tipping a little bit toward the pork belly burger. Will be back.

2042 Cafe & Deli
403-405 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9550 2500
www.2042.net.au

2042 Cafe & Deli on Urbanspoon

Review: Natty’s Cafe (Stanmore)

I used to go to an osteopathic clinic in Stanmore across the road from Natty’s. I had checked the menu and planned to eat lunch there one day but I stopped my treatment and forgot about the cafe until recently, when a house hunting trip took us one block away.

Natty's Cafe

Natty’s seems to have a solid local clientele. They do takeaway stuff but on weekends the bulk of the business seems to be eat-in.

Takeaway blackboard

Specials blackboard

Natty's Cafe

Coffee at Natty’s is BBB (bueno, bonito y barato). Drinks ordered in our table included a capuccino, a long black on ice a long black on ice with a splash of almond milk and the non-caffeinated morning liver tonic, consisting on juiced carrot, celery, cucumber, parsley and ginger.

Capuccino

Capuccino ($3)

Long black on ice, long black + almond milk on ice

Long black on ice, long black + almond milk on ice ($4.20 each)

Morning liver tonic

Morning liver tonic ($6)

The food menu seemed ordinary last time I checked but I think it might have been an outdated version. This time around things looked more appealing. Alvaro and I shared the big breakfast with free range eggs your way (we had them scrambled), bacon, sausage (swapped for extra bacon due to gluten content), mushrooms, rosti, smoky tomato relish and (GF) toast. Lots of garlic in the mushrooms, very tasty brekkie.

Big breakfast

Big breakfast ($18)

Dish number two was the smoky paprika baked salmon salad with kipfler, green beans, mesclun, capers, dill and aioli. In one word: delicious.

Smoky paprika baked salmon salad

Smoky paprika baked salmon salad ($17)

Both of our friends ordered the poached chicken salad with citrus, hazelnut, mint, mesclun and orange blossom dressing. Tried a bit, also great. Will be back next time I’m around.

Poached chicken salad

Poached chicken salad ($15)

Natty’s Cafe
14 Northumberland Avenue
Stanmore NSW 2048
(02) 9568 6711
www.nattyscafe.com.au

Natty's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Review: Sushizilla (Chippendale)

My sister and I went to check out the newest sushi train in Sydney, Sushizilla. They’re running a few specials, including all plates for $2.90 (excluding sashimi).

Sushizilla

Sushi train

You can also order a la carte via touchscreens.

Touchscreen

We ordered a plate of sashimi and a seaweed salad. Nice, fresh and pretty to look at.

Sashimi

Sashimi ($16)

Seaweed salad

Seaweed salad ($5.90)

Yeah, it wasn’t enough food. We grabbed a couple of plates from the conveyor belt, including the crab (stick) aburi sushi pictured below.

Booze

Crab aburi sushi

Crab aburi sushi ($2.90)

Sushizilla
Central Park
Shop 204 28 Broadway
Chippendale NSW 2008
0438 689 119
www.sushizilla.com.au
On Facebook

Sushizilla on Urbanspoon