Review: Madame Nhu (Surry Hills)

A winter dinner catch-up with my sister called for Pho. Good opportunity to finally try Madame Nhu. The Surry Hills shop is small and cosy, and service is efficient in order to keep tables turning. We tried the Phở nạm beef with tender thick-cut Tasmanian grass-fed brisket. I ordered mine without noodles, and it came with veggies instead. Yes, price is higher than average but quality is great.


Pho accompaniments

Phở nạm beef ($15.9)

Madame Nhu
82 Campbell St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9212 3311

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Review: The Annandale Hotel (Annandale)

Back in Sydney, we had a good catch up with my sis at The Annandale. This is no longer our local, but we’re at a reasonable walking distance. The beer and cider selection is quite good.

The Annandale

Food sounded great but was a tad underwhelming. At least what we tried: pan-fried barramundi with eggplant, kipfler potato, bean shoots, cucumber, pickled onion, sambal, and 300g Scotch fillet with chopped cos salad, fried egg, tomato, and fries.

Pan-fried barramundi

Pan-fried barramundi ($24)

Scotch fillet

300g Scotch fillet ($27)

You know what happens when the meal doesn’t satisfy you completely, either volume or flavour-wise: you want more. We ordered a serve of triple cooked chips with aioli, which were awesome, especially with a second schooner of cider.

Triple cooked chips with aioli

Triple cooked chips with aioli ($7)

The Annandale Hotel
17 Parramatta Road
Annandale NSW 2038
(02) 9550 1078
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Holidays in Perú (July 25 2015)

Remember how I said I would order the gluten-free meal for the trip back to Sydney? Well, I missed the deadline (24 hours before the flight) and had to navigate around the regular menu again.

The worst meal is always in the short leg (Lima-Santiago). We were served a ham and cheese sandwich, butter, jam and fruit. It wasn’t easy to get all the bread off the ham and cheese so for people who are very sensitive to gluten the best choice would be to eat the inner slices only. Rolled up with butter in the middle like I did.


Snack Lima-Santiago

Meals in the longer (Santiago-Sydney) leg started with lunch: marinated chicken and quinoa salad with grilled vegetables, mixed leaves, and lemon dressing. I don’t eat quinoa regularly because I don’t digest it well but I thought this was the safest option. I also had a couple of personal bottles of shiraz and skipped dessert (peaches and cream with biscuit crumble).

Chicken & quinoa salad

Lunch Santiago-Sydney

During the flight I declined the various offerings (ice cream, empanadas, chocolate biscuits, grapefruit cordial) and had raw almonds instead and water instead.

For dinner I chose the roast chicken with broccoli, carrots, and merikan spiced potatoes. Looked like hospital food. Dessert was dulce de leche mousse with toasted coconut, good stuff.


Dinner Santiago-Sydney

Holidays in Perú (July 24 2015)

Last day in Lima. Four weeks went in a breeze but we were kind of ready to get back to work and study (and away from traffic and chaos!). We spent the first half of the day with my family, having lunch at my aunties’. If you don’t know much about me you probably know I’m obsessed with food and wear mostly black, but I bet you don’t know my sisters and I were raised, to a large extent, by my aunties (and uncle, who died in 2008). Mum had a full-time work, so we had breakfast and lunch next door at my aunties’ and did our homework there most of the time, until dinner time. I even moved for a period of time perhaps looking for a bit more independence and/or breakfast in bed on weekends.

Pollo al maní

Pollo al maní



Now that a few decades have passed, things have changed a bit. Now my aunty who had me using her bed while she slept in an uncomfortable foldable one is in charge of cooking. She made her now famous pollo al maní (chicken in peanut sauce) with cassava and rice, which was delicious. And as if we didn’t need more food, mum also made carapulcra (dried potato, chicken and pork stew), equally tasty. Given the humongous amount of food (and carbs!) I did the sensible thing and did not eat a grain of rice.


Dessert was one of my mum’s favourites: agar-agar jelly with chancaca (panela-type cane sugar) syrup.

Agar agar jelly

Agar agar jelly

After packing, we spent time with Alvaro’s family, which is way bigger and younger than mine. We had a Peruvian-style BBQ with chicken, chorizo, anticuchos (marinated beef heart), potatoes, corn, avocado, salad, etc. Good times.




Holidays in Perú (July 23 2015)

On our second last day in Lima we got to hang out with my brother-in-law again. My sister was still in the US, so it was only the three of us. Alvaro had been nagging me with his arroz con pato cravings long before we arrived to Perú so I did a bit of research and Don Fernando seemed to be a good place to get it. We were received with complimentary leche de tigre (the juice from cebiche), cancha (toasted corn kernels) and chifles (plantain chips).

Leche de tigre, chifles, cancha, rocoto

Complimentary leche de tigre, cancha and chifles

This is a Northern restaurant, and besides seafood and the aforementioned arroz con pato, this region is well-known for its chicha de jora (a fermented corn beverage). It looks like cloudy apple juice and tastes a bit like kombucha. I’m not sure about its alcohol content but it’s not that high, I think.

Chicha de jora

Chicha de jora (S/. 10, 4.21)

We started with a mixed platter called ronda Don Fernando, which contained tiradito (sliced raw fish marinated in lemon juice, with rocoto), cebiche, chinguirito (dried fish cebiche), and pulpo al estilo muchame (octopus with olive oil, garlic and oregano). The four dishes are divided by mashed cassava. Yum.

Ronda Don Fernando

Ronda Don Fernando (S/. 58, $24.42)

We thought the arroz con pato (rice with duck, cooked with coriander, pumpkin, chicha de jora, etc.) was okay but not outstanding. We chose breast over maryland because we were told it had more meat, but thought the meat portion was on the skinny side.

Arroz con pato

Arroz con pato (S/. 35.80, $15.07)

At this point we were satisfied but not full. We ordered a piqueo with another two staples from the North: tamalitos verdes (made with corn and coriander) and seco de cabrito (baby goat stew with coriander). Very tasty, I’d say better than the arroz con pato.

Piqueo de tamalitos verdes y seco de cabrito

Piqueo de tamalitos verdes y seco de cabrito (S/. 29.80, $12.55)

That night we went to the Buddhist centre for the last time. There weren’t many people around because a bunch had gone to Europe for a summer course, but we got to hang out with some of our friends, with some nibbles and wine. One of Alvaro’s friends from high school met us there and then we went for a late dinner to one of those cheap sandwich shops that are so popular among party animals. Its name is Koko Lucho and, believe it or not, it was my first time there.

Koko Lucho

Alvaro had his last jugo de lúcuma of the trip, and we shared a salchipapa. This one was called “la combi” (public transport van), that came with smoked frankfurter, BBQ chorizo, Huacho sausage, scrambled egg on top, potato chips and salad. Now you know why people come here after a night of drinking.

Jugo de lúcuma

Jugo de lúcuma

Salchipapa "la combi"

Salchipapa “la combi” (S/. 20, $8.42)

Don Fernando
General Garzón 1788, Jesus María
+51 1 2610361 / +51 1 4632656
Lima, Perú

Koko Lucho
Av. Aviación 3790, Surquillo
Lima, Perú

Holidays in Perú (July 22 2015)

One day we were brave enough to go to Barranco. Not because it’s a bad neighbourhood, but because it would take forever to get there, given the crazy traffic conditions in Lima. Anyway, we made it on time to Las Vecinas Eco Bar, a healthy cafe that had good reviews. Once there we weren’t very excited with the menu, so it was only drinks for us while we waited for our friend Julio. Alvaro’s limonada de granadilla (granadilla limeade) was great, especially because it didn’t have any sugar. There was panela on the table for those who like their beverages sweet.

Limonada de granadilla, café americano

Limonada de granadilla, americano

Once Julio arrived we went across the corner to Isolina a Peruvian restaurant that a friend had recommended. The vibe alone was better than in the other cafe, and the menu was short but promising.


We started with a jug of chicha morada, which tasted exactly like the one my mum made on my birthday when I was a kid.

Chicha morada

Chicha morada (S/. 20, $8.42)

Plates were expensive for a reason: they were gigantic, designed to share. We ordered pepián de choclo con chicharrón de costillar de cerdo (corn stew with fried pork ribs), which was awesome. I liked the texture of this pepián better than the one at La Picantería, and the dish had great taste.

Pepián con chicharrón

Pepián de choclo con chicharrón de costillar de cerdo (S/. 65, $27.37)

To round up lunch, we ordered ensalada mixta (mixed salad) that was also generously served and well dressed.

Ensalada mixta

Ensalada mixta (S/. 15, $6.32)

We skipped dessert and moved to an organic cafe that Julio recommended: La Bodega Verde.

La Bodega Verde

This cafe again had better vibe than the first one, and, most importantly, wifi. It was social media catch-up along with another americano for me, a jugo de lúcuma y plátano (lúcuma and banana juice) for Alvaro and carrot cake and coffee for Julio.

Jugo de lúcuma y plátano

Jugo de lúcuma y plátano (S/. 11, $4.63)

Café americano

Café americano (S/. 7, $2.95)

Carrot cake

Carrot cake (S/. 11, $4.63)

As we all needed to go to Miraflores later, we walked alongside the coast line for a bit of fresh(er) air and to prep our guts for our next eating appointments. Being away from the chaos of the city for a few hours was one of the highlights of this trip for me.

That night we met friends from uni for dinner at Edo Sushi Bar.

Edo Sushi Bar

Chris, Alvaro and I had some drinks while waiting for Kathy and her husband Giancarlo. The walk from Barranco had stimulated our appetite, so we also ordered tuna nigiri and usuzukuri estilo nikkei (seared tuna slices with “acevichado” sauce).

Sake, té verde

Sake, green tea

Nigiri de atún

Tuna nigiri

Usuzukuri estilo nikkei

Usuzukuri estilo nikkei(S/. 35, $14.74)

For our “main” course, Alvaro and I shared sashimi moriawase (12 fish cuts and 9 seafood cuts) and the good old seaweed salad.

Sashimi moriawase

Sashimi moriawase (S/. 53, $22.31)

Seaweed salad

Seaweed salad (S/. 19, $8.00)

The others shared two paquetes (packages), the first with 8 sashimi cuts, 10 sushi pieces and 20 maki pieces (S/. 109, $45.89), and the second one with 6 sashimi cuts, 8 sushi pieces, 10 maki pieces, and 1 hot dish (S/. 109, $45.89). In both you can mix and match. The hot dish they chose, panceta con puré de wasabi (pork belly with wasabi mash) was a winner.




Sushi y sashimi



Panceta con puré de wasabi

Panceta con puré de wasabi

The sweet end of the meal was tempura de plátano (banana tempura), served with vanilla ice cream.

Tempura de plátano

Tempura de plátano

Las Vecinas Eco Bar
Domeyer 219, Barranco
+51 1 4773253
Lima, Perú

Av San Martin 101, Barranco
Lima, Perú
On Facebook

La Bodega Verde
Jiron Mariscal Jose Antonio de Sucre 335A, Barranco
Lima, Perú
+51 1 2478804

Edo Sushi Bar
Calle Berlin 601, Miraflores
Lima, Perú
+51 1 2432448

Holidays in Perú (July 21 2015)

Sometimes it’s all about seeing the glass half full. What was meant to be lunch for two (me and my best friend from school Jessica) turned into Alvaro and me visiting her and her husband, who broke his Achilles tendon playing soccer. Since lunch had to be takeaway, we went to the local market for a jungle food fix.

Pura Selva

Juanes, chorizos, cecinas

Juanes, cecinas

Alvaro and I shared a ronda Tarapotina (S/. 30, $12.77), which came with tacacho (mashed plantain and mixed with fried pork), cecina (dried cured pork), chorizo, juane (seasoned rice and chicken cooked in banana leaf), and maduro (fried ripe plantain). Not super healthy but very flavourful.

Tacacho, cecina, chorizo, maduro

Tacacho, cecina, chorizo, maduro



That night we went for dinner with my niece (who is 21 now!) and her boyfriend. We went to Gaston Acurio’s Peruvian burger joint Papachos. Yes, burgers are trendy in Lima at the moment, too. We started off with some drinks: limonada de kión y menta (ginger & mint limeade), characato with chicha de jora (fermented corn drink), pisco, maíz morado (purple corn), pineapple, cloves and mint, and pituco with Campari, vodka, strawberry juice, orange and lemon. Quite sweet but enjoyable.

Pituco, characato, limonada de kión y menta

Pituco (S/. 25, $10.65), characato (S/. 16, $6.81), limonada de kión y menta (S/. 7, $2.98)

The thing I had been craving for weeks before the trip was a Salchi Papacha with frankfurters, chorizo, two fried eggs and 5 sauces on the side (different type of chili sauces, fruity ketchups, etc.). It was as massive as its description (and price) suggest, and my craving was fully satisfied.

Salchi Papacha

Salchi Papacha (S/. 34, $14.48)



Bruno had a hamburguesa clásica (classic burger) with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and Cheddar cheese. He said “yes” to the “achorada” version (supersized 300g patty) and couldn’t finish the plate.

Hamburguesa clásica

Hamburguesa clásica, achorada (S/. 36, $15.33)

Besides the salchipapas, Alvaro and I also shared a hamburguesa Papacha with blue cheese, bacon, sauco (a berry) ketchup, onion ring (didn’t notice that one when ordering!), lettuce, and tomato, served without a bun and with sweet potato fries. Huge serving, great flavour. We did finish it. Oink!

Hamburguesa Papachos al plato

Hamburguesa Papacha (S/. 36, $15.33)

Pura Selva
Mercado de Magdalena
Lima, Perú

Av. la Paz 1045, Miraflores
Lima, Perú
+51 1 2536460
On Facebook

Holidays in Perú (July 20 2015)

Last week in Lima and we still had people to see and things to do. Our friends Marlene and Jaime, who lived in Sydney for a while, had been away on holidays, but luckily came back before we left. We had lunch with them at La Picantería, one of the restaurants we really wanted to try. We had been at chef Hector Solis’ other restaurant Fiesta before, so expectations were high.



The restaurant is located in a low SES suburb and mimics a traditional “picantería”, only with better cuisine and higher price tags. As always, we were welcomed with a bowl of cancha.



Drinks-wise they had jugo de granadilla (granadilla juice). If you go to Peru and see it in the menu, do yourself a favour and order it.

Jugo de granadilla

Jugo de granadilla

We ordered a bunch of food to share. Sardines are not a typically served with causa (spiced mashed potatoes), but I really liked the causa de sardinas.

Causa de sardinas

Causa de sardinas (S/. 29, $12.36)

The cebiche was made super fresh with great quality fish but for some reason it wasn’t my favourite.



Chita a la parrilla (grilled chita – chita being the name of the fish) was much better than the cebiche IMO. Lots of flesh, awesome flavour. It came with yuca frita (cassava chips) and arroz con choclo (rice with corn).

Chita a la parrilla

Chita a la parrilla

We also had pepián de choclo, ají amarillo y queso de la casa (a corn-based stew, with yellow chili and cheese) that came in a massive salad bowl. Check the size in the photo below, with my iPhone 4 as a reference. This version of pepián was way more fluid and smooth than the homemade version, which texture I prefer, but the taste was great.

Pepián con ají amarillo y queso

Pepián de choclo, ají amarillo y queso de la casa (S/. 29, $12.36)

The last dish, which we couldn’t finish, was pata al horno en su jugo (1/2 roasted female duck with jus), served with arroz con pallares (rice with lima beans) or arroz con choclo (rice with corn).

Pato al horno en su jugo

Pata al horno en su jugo

What to do when you are absolutely stuffed but the restaurant manager sends complimentary dessert because they know the chef friend you’re eating with? We ended our meal with several spoonfuls of crema volteada (crème caramel), and our friends enjoyed the torta de galletas (biscuit cake).

Crema volteada

Crema volteada

Torta de galletas

Torta de galletas

La Picantería
Francisco Moreno 388 esquina con Gonzales Prada, Surquillo
Lima, Perú
+51 1 2416676

Holidays in Perú (July 19 2015)

Sunday was quality time spent with my family. My aunties bought costillas de chancho al cilindro (pork ribs cooked in a cilinder) from a nearby restaurant. They also got a plate of seco de cordero con frejoles (a lamb & coriander stew, served with beans and rice) for us to try. I had also requested mum to make caigua rellena (stuffed caigua, green pod-like vegetable), one of my favourite home-cooked dishes.

Costillas de chancho al cilindro

Costillas de chancho al cilindro

Seco de cordero con frejoles

Seco de cordero con frejoles

Caigua rellena

Caigua rellena

Everything was delicious and we didn’t need any dessert but who can say “no” to granadilla, especially when you can’t find it in Australia?




In the evening we had a late lonche (afternoon tea) with tamales (the orangey one made with dry corn and yellow chili, the green one made with fresh corn and coriander, both filled with chicken, and wrapped in corn husks) and chapana (made with grated cassava, cane sugar and aniseed, wrapped in banana leaves).

Tamal criollo, tamalito verde

Tamal criollo, tamalito verde



Holidays in Perú (July 18 2015)

Our only weekend in Lima was dedicated to old friends and family. Saturday was BBQ day, starting with lunch with my uni friends. We got to meet two cute new baby girls in the UPC (my first uni) family and spend a great afternoon with the gang.

Parrillada UPC

A bit of everything



Parrillada UPC

Cooked veggies

Then we headed to the Buddhist centre, listened to teachings and enjoyed a post-midnight BBQ. We also got to spend the night in our old room, courtesy to its current inhabitant (thanks again, Patty!).

Arroz con pollo

Arroz con pollo


Chicken wings