Yen's Vietnamese

Review: Yens Vietnamese (Waterloo)

This small Vietnamese eatery is located away from all the cool areas in the city but it’s worth making a detour (which can be justified by having gelato at Ciccone and Sons for dessert).

Every time we’ve come on Monday night for a pre-meditation bowl of soup it’s been packed, which is always a good sign. The food is BBB (bueno, bonito y barato), generous in size, and consistently good. The tables are always stocked with the mandatory sauces, fresh chilli, tissues and a flask of hot tea that gets promptly replaced when needed.

Sauces, tea

Noodle soups are a must-have here, the broths are flavoursome and don’t rely on heaps of sugar and MSG. The menu has tons of options to customise your soup, for example, my go-to is chicken broth with seafood and carb-free (yes, that’s exactly how it’s phrased in the menu – it comes with vegetables and no noodles). The base broth can be beef, chicken or vegetable – both the beef and chicken are excellent (haven’t tried the vegetable one). There are several protein and extras options so you won’t get bored ordering the same soup every time.

Beef & chicken pho

Beef & chicken pho ($15 + $3 for extra beef)

Pho with crispy skin chicken

Beef pho with crispy skin chicken ($14)

This time I had the cabbage salad with chicken and prawns which was, as you can see in the photo, a massive serve, and very tasty.

Cabbage salad with chicken & prawns

Cabbage salad with chicken and prawns ($15)

The stir-fried noodles are also highly customisable, with different noodle, sauce and protein options and a good amount of veggies.

Stir-fried noodles with chicken & vegetables

Stir-fried nooodles with chicken & vegetables ($13)

The Bottom Line
Drinks: 4.5/5, free hot tea.
Food: 4.5/5, fresh, tasty and lots of options.
Service: 4.5/5, warm, efficient and friendly.

Yens Vietnamese
29 Botany Rd
Waterloo NSW 2017
(02) 8399 0598

Yen's Vietnamese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Cauliflower Hotel

Review: Cauliflower Hotel (Waterloo)

Hey, what’s up??!! Feels like I haven’t blogged forever! As I approach the end of my degree I feel like there’s too much on my plate (literally and figuratively) and some things have to wait. Like blogging. Like meditating more than once per day. Like going to the farmers market every Saturday. You get the drill.

On top of uni and work, our Buddhist centre recently moved so I spent a (tiny) bit of time helping out. The new centre is in Waterloo (Redfern, really) so naturally we have been exploring the area to find our new local cafes, restaurants and pubs.

Speaking of pubs, we found a pretty good one: The Cauliflower Hotel. Sounds like a name created recently to cater for low-carbers and no-grainers but no, this place has been there for a while. In fact, apparently food wasn’t very good in the past, but fortunately things have changed.


We’ve tried the Sunday roast ($18) a couple of times, a generous pile of slow-roasted meat (we’ve tried lamb and pork) serve on top of cauliflower mash and roasted veggies. Great bang for the buck.

Sunday roast #lamb #pub #lunch #realfood #jerf #aussie

A post shared by Gaby Mora (@gabymoragondo) on


Sunday roast. #pork #roast #sunday #postmeditation #publunch

A post shared by Gaby Mora (@gabymoragondo) on


We also tried the pescado del día (fish of the day – yes, there’s a Latino theme in the menu), which comes with a very nice corn purée, corn chip crust and ensalada fresca. The fish was a bit overdone for my taste, but the dish as a whole was nice.

There are also smaller meals to share, for example tacos (1 for $7, 2 for $10) with either pulled pork, barramundi or chicken. We tried them with pulled pork, adobo de Oaxaca, crisp red cabbage & cucumber salsa tacos on gluten-free tortillas. There’s also the lemon pepper calamari ($10, also gluten-free) pictured below, Latino-inspired dishes and the usual pub suspects.

Pulled pork tacos in GF tortillas. #sunday #postmeditation #publunch #tacos #glutenfree

A post shared by Gaby Mora (@gabymoragondo) on


Calamari #pub #lunch

A post shared by Gaby Mora (@gabymoragondo) on


There’s live music every Sunday arvo as well. Most importantly, this place doesn’t get as busy as our old locals.


Cauliflower Hotel
123 Botany Rd
Waterloo NSW 2017
(02) 9698 3024
On Facebook

The Cauliflower Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: John Smith Cafe (Waterloo)

Finally got to meet John Smith, one of the newish spots in the ever-growing Sydney cafe scene. I’m always worried about getting indifferent service in popular cafes but this was not the case at all: service was excellent from start to finish.

It was hot enough to forgo my usual long black, and even resist the temptation to get an almond milk latte (!). I enjoyed a smooth and refreshing cold drip instead. It was so good I had a second one for dessert.

Water, cold drip coffee

Water, cold drip coffee ($4.5)

The main reason I wanted to visit John Smith was to have pulled pork with my eggs. That’s right, the eggs Benedict with daily greens can be served with braised pulled pork as one of the optional extras. We asked to swap the regular toast for gluten-free, but they didn’t have any, so they suggested the sweet potato rosti. The eggs, pork and hollandaise were excellent, but I prefer the kumara hash at Pitt Street Diner over John Smith’s rosti.

Eggs Benedict with pulled pork on sweet potato rosti

Eggs Benedict with daily greens ($15) + braised pulled pork ($4) + sweet potato rosti ($3)

We also shared a salad with roasted cauliflower, sweet corn, shaved fennel and baby endive with salsa verde and pomegranate reduction. The salad comes with chickpeas but we asked for none, and added chicken and avocado from the list of suggested extras. Awesome salad, great textures and nice mix of bitter and sweet elements.

Roast cauliflower, sweet corn, shaved fennel, baby endive, salsa verde, pomegranate molasses + chicken + avocado

Roasted cauliflower, sweet corn, chic pea, shaved fennel salad baby endive with salsa verde, pomegranate reduction ($12), + chicken ($4) + avocado ($4)

There’s a collection of sweets (including donuts, croissants, and their offspring: cronuts) on display in the middle of the cafe. Alvaro has been telling me he wants to try to get in ketosis but his will is too weak for stuff like this. Especially when the answer to “do you have any gluten-free desserts?” is yes.



So he ordered a gluten-free lime, yoghurt and coconut cake, sourced from Little Secrets Bakehouse. For the first time I stayed strong and didn’t try it. Alvaro reported it was good and not as sweet as other gluten-free desserts. Good to know.

GF lime, yoghurt and coconut cake

GF lime, yoghurt and coconut cake ($4.5)

John Smith Cafe
1 John Street
Waterloo NSW 2017
0422 855 811
On Facebook

John Smith Cafe on Urbanspoon

Review: Danks St Depot (Waterloo) – Closed

For an IT person, I’m very slow in adopting new techie stuff. It took me a while to get into Facebook and Twitter, I don’t own an iPhone (yet… but I did get an iPod earlier this year) and I’m fairly new to e-deals. Yeah, I agree some vouchers are a rip-off but if you choose carefully you can end up saving some money in useful stuff. Like the 8 kilos of grass-fed beef delivered to our house a few weeks ago. Or the $29 breakfast for 2 at Danks St Depot.

I bought this voucher because Danks St Depot has been in my wishlist for ages and Alvaro’s birthday was coming. Most of the times we have breakfast at home but this particular weekend it was more convenient for us to celebrate early in the day than at lunch or dinner.

We picked Gladys up and headed to Waterloo. It took us 15 minutes to find parking (busy area!) but we were finally there. Jared Ingersol’s philosophy follows the principles of the Slow Food movement, meaning that he embraces sustainable, ethical, local and seasonal food. All of which I totally support but unfortunately in this case the slow factor applies to service, too. As we learned, it’s not good to arrive on an empty stomach (especially after a gym workout!) because the wait for both food and drinks is very, very long.

Because it took heaps of time for our dishes to arrive (which turned breakfast into brunch), our waiter double and triple checked our orders. I’m glad he did because he didn’t have a very good memory. Besides the deal combo (a platter of roasted pears plus two egg dishes), we ordered an extra egg dish and hot drinks: a cappuccino for Gladys, a mocha for me, and a chai latte for Alvaro. The waiter came back a while later saying they had no chai. Weird. Alvaro ordered a hot chocolate instead.

The first thing to arrive was the platter of roasted corella pears, labneh, roasted walnuts and local honey. It wasn’t huge but enough for the three of us to start the meal. The dish was wonderful, the soft and sweet pears were perfectly complemented by the sharpness of the labneh and the crunchiness of the walnuts. But for me, the best ingredient in the dish was the honey. I’ve been eating plain boring supermarket honey lately; this one made my tastebuds smile.

Roasted corella pears, labneh, roasted walnuts and local honey

Roasted corella pears, labneh, roasted walnuts and local honey

Then a waitress brought two mochas to our table, and a few minutes later the hot chocolate. Wait a sec, where’s the cap? After apologising she took one mocha back and after a long while (and a reminder to our waiter) the correct coffee was sent. My mocha was lovely but I found the hot chocolate extremely sweet.

Mocha and hot chocolate

Mocha and hot chocolate ($4.50 and $5.00)


Cappuccino ($4.50)

We were lucky to have poached pears and coffee in our tummies; the eggs just took ages to arrive. The poor guys at the kitchen could barely keep up with the demands of such a busy cafe. The creamed eggs (2 eggs cooked with cream and butter) served with chives, truffle oil, roasted portobello, herbed tomato and sourdough were good but didn’t live up to their awesome-sounding description. They had no salt and weren’t as creamy as we expected. To be honest, I couldn’t taste the truffle oil.

Creamed Eggs with Truffle Oil

Creamed Eggs with Truffle Oil ($19.00)

The basil and goat’s cheese omelette was much better. The cheese was great, the basil fresh and the omelette perfectly cooked.

Basil and Goat’s Cheese Omelette

Basil and Goat’s Cheese Omelette ($18.50)

We never have dessert with breakfast but it was already lunch time and we still had stomach room. A quick look at the options made us drool with “the business”, more about it later. For the sake of variety, Alvaro ordered the vanilla seed panna cotta with red wine poached pear (remember how he usually orders risotto for main? Panna cotta is his top choice for dessert… very predictable). The wait for the sweet stuff was almost as long as the others. The poached pear was good, although a bit hard to cut with a spoon (a knife a fork would have been handy). The panna cotta was excellent, with a great taste and not overset.

Panna cotta with red wine poached pear

Panna cotta with red wine poached pear ($15.00)

“The business” was outstanding. If memory serves, the menu describes it as bread and butter pudding broken down and served with rhubarb compote and warm milk. There was no rhubarb in the bowl but a scoop of ice cream and crème anglaise on top of the chunks of bread and butter pudding soaked in warm milk. The epitome of comfort food in a bowl. I wanted more but was finally stuffed.

"The business"

The business ($8.50)

The bill came surprisingly quickly and with a 10% Sunday surcharge (announced in the menu). We had to wait once again for our change. I found the food good but not worth the training in patience and hunger control.

Note: the photos in this post were taken with my sister’s Olympus point-and-shoot camera due to an issue with my camera’s memory card.

Danks St Depot
1/2 Danks Street, Waterloo NSW 2017
(02)9698 2201