Anyone familiar with Chatswood will know it has one of the best collection of Asian eateries on offer in Sydney. Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean...you name it, Chatswood has plenty of it. Chao Ba, a modern Vietnamese restaurant, is a welcome entrant to this jam packed dining scene.
I noticed this restaurant walking by the Concourse one night, and visited with a friend a couple of weeks later. The menu was quite extensive, ranging from small tapas style share dishes to more traditional mains.
We started with the Clear tapioca shrimp dumplings topped with crunchy fried shallots and chives. The dumpling skin was slippery and the right thickness to hold it together. The prawns were yummy and went well with the fried shallots and fish sauce which accompanied the dish.
The House special poached chicken salad was a little disappointing as I found the flavours a little bland. The crispy rice cracker on the side was unfortunately not very crispy.
On the other hand the Hanoi style crispy rice vermicelli spring rolls were beautiful, offering a lovely crunch as you bite into it. The pork and wood eared mushroom filling was flavoursome and even though it was fried, did not feel oily at all. I'd happily come back for these.
The Chargrilled beef wrapped in betal leaves with rice vermicelli was quite refreshing to eat. I loved the addition of the roasted peanuts and crispy shallots, and the betal leaves gave it an extra lift in aromatics.
Chao Ba is a great Vietnamese eatery with a casual vibe offering both indoor and outdoor seating. The dishes weren't all perfect but I am happy to go back to try out the rest of their vast menu.
Housed in the Harris Farm complex, Salt Meats Cheese in Drummoyne offers everything from wood fired pizza to a gelato bar. The restaurant was buzzing when we arrived just prior to midday, already developing a strong following despite only being only since late last year.
We started with one of the specials of the day - Grilled peaches with proscuitto, buffalo mozzarella and a balsamic glaze. The grilled peaches had a lovely sweetness and was complemented so well by the prosciutto, the creaminess of the buffalo mozzarella and the tanginess of the balsamic glaze - I would be happy to eat this anytime!
The Slow braised octopus Tagliatelle was another standout. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the slow braised octopus were incredibly tender. The classic flavours of garlic, chilli, parsley and tomato meant you really couldn't go wrong with this dish.
The Truffle pizza had a great aroma from the splashings of truffle oil. The edges of the pizza are fluffy and there's a slight hint of smokiness that comes from the wood fired pizza oven. The fior di latte was deliciously creamy, just wished there was a little bit more of it!
Salt Meat Cheese is a welcome addition to Drummoyne. Everything feels extra fresh because you are surrounded by the beautiful produce, seafood and flowers on offer in the stores surrounding the eatery. Despite being very busy, service was friendly and the food came out quickly. Will definitely be back!
One of the greatest things about the Sydney dining scene is the ability to pretty much find any cuisine of the world, at a high and authentic quality. At Himalayan Grill in Crows Nest, we found ourselves digging into Nepalese cuisine. To start off with, we ordered the Pappadoms with spiced yoghurt which were light and crunchy.
The Himali chicken wings were deep fried in a chickpea batter and accompanied by a tomato relish. The coating was very crispy but I was hoping for something a bit more unique from a Himalayan restaurant.
The Chargrilled lamb was very flavoursome but the texture was somewhat consistent - some pieces were incredibly tender whilst others were a bit chewy. I did really enjoy the potato cakes though!
According to their menu, the slow cooked Masala beef cheeks featured on SMH as one of the best in Sydney and it's easy to see why. With great aromatics, the cheeks falls apart at the slightest touch and has a lovely gelatinous texture. We lapped up the sauce filled with Himalayan spices with our roti.
Located in a suburban shoppping arcade, it is definitely not a fancy place, but still worth a visit to try out some tasty Nepalese food.
I was never a fan of Hello Kitty growing up (it was too pink and girly for me) but decided to check out the hype around the Hello Kitty Cafe, recently opened at the Chatswood Interchange. I was intrigued to see what would be on the menu, especially as I had heard the burgers were created by the team at Chur Burger. To my surprise, it wasn't overly 'cute' and pink and the theme was quite understated. The restaurant is quite small with a selection of booths and seats at the counter.
The food was very much what you expect at an American diner: waffles, fries and milkshakes amongst the menu items, but with an Asian twist (e.g. Kimchi slaw and miso mayo).
I don't see any connection between lamb ribs and Hello Kitty but ... it doesn't really matter as these were amazing! The ribs were melt in your mouth tender and generously laced with a sweet sticky soy sauce and jalapeños. The dash of lime just topped it off.
The sweet potato fries were not as crunchy as I would have liked but the miso mayo was quite addictive - a delicious mix of savoury and sweet.
We agonized over which burger to pick and eventually settled for the Maple Burger which came on a delicious brioche bun. Overall it was a good burger without being phenomenal. I did like the inclusion of a thick slice of maple glazed bacon in between the pulled pork and slaw.
The theme was a bit lacking for a novelty restaurant but I will definitely be back for another serve of the lamb ribs and to try one of their interesting milkshake concoctions.
On my search for the best lobster rolls in Sydney, I ventured to Waterman's Lobster Co in Potts Point. My friend and I were seated on one of the outside tables, nabbing one of the last remaining tables on a busy Satusrday afternoon.
We started with the New England Clam Chowder which was packed full of flavours from the sea. The chowder was creamy and rich and I particularly enjoyed the meaty clams and the crunchy, buttery croutons.
The White anchovies with shaved beetroot looked spectacular on the plate. The crispy slices of differently coloured beetroot were artfully arranged, interspersed with the cured anchovies which had a great intensity of flavour.
And onto the lobster rolls! The 'Connecticut' style lobster roll came on a buttery toasted brioche roll, which was heavenly - crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. The lobster meat has a subtle sweetness and there was a decent serving (knowing how expensive this is in Australia, it can't compare to the much bigger portions you get in America).
The 'Maine' lobster roll came with tangy Mayo and celery, which still allowed the lobster to shine. I found it hard to pick my preferred version, but in the end, I think the buttery roll of the 'Connecticut' style won me over. You can choose to add a side of crunchy fries (sprinkled with paprika) or pickles to the dish, both of which are great additions.
Good atmosphere and friendly service, I will no doubt be back to get my lobster fix.
I have great memories of eating my way through the Japanese city of Osaka a few years back so was eager to dine at Osaka Bar, which is headed up by Chef Kazu, ex-head chef of Masuya. It is nestled on Llankelly Avenue in Potts Point, one of the new dining hubs in the city with indoor and outdoor seating. The menu is a mixture of Osaka specialties, other traditional Japanese dishes and more Western/ fusion offerings.
But first, drinks! Seeing all the sake bottles lined up in the restaurant, my bf and I decided some sake is in order. Not knowing too much about the many variants of sake, we left it up to the restaurant to select one for us to try. We were invited to pick our own sake cup which was a nice touch.
We started with the takoyaki balls, an Osaka street food specialty. The balls were plump with a gooey centre and I loved the fact I could see actal chunky pieces of octopus inside.
The Popcorn prawns were a great snack, crispy on the outside and was accompanied with two tasty sauces: a garlic mayo and a spicy tomato sauce.
Okonomiyaki is another specialty originating from Osaka so we were definitely eager to try it. We opted for the pork filling and mixed with the cabbage and egg, was utterly delicious. It came wrapped with prosctuitto which was a bonus.
The confit duck is Chef Kazu's signature dish and it's easy to see why. The slices of duck were cooked at 65 degrees, resulting in melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. The miso and honey mustard melded with the blueberry sauce was a genius combination. The flavours worked really well together and this was one of our favourite dishes of the night.
Next was the Slow cooked beef tendon which had a lovely gelatinous texture. The flavour of the sweet miso broth was spot on and we could easily ate another couple of skewers.
The grilled wagyu was the chef's recommendation and again, he was right on the money. The wagyu rump, cooked medium rare was super succulent and it came with a delicious peppery steak sauce and creamy cod roe mashed potato.
Since it was a rather cold night, we ordered the Osaka-style oden, a Japanese style hot pot. It's a very homely dish with a soy and mirin based broth, containing fish cake, Konnyaku (yam cake), hard boiled egg and our favourite beef tendon.
If you love deep fried food, then this is the right place to visit as it serves a wide selection of Kushi Katsu skewers - which literally translates to deep fried skewers. Even better if you a member of Washoku Lovers (a promoter of authentic Japanese restaurants), as they offer you two complimentary skewers when you dine. We opted for the salmon belly and the eggplant varieties. The coating of bread crumbs results in them being super crunchy.
I love the tapas style menu which is perfect for sharing. The food is great value for money and it's great to see a restaurant showcasing the food of Osaka.
Sashimiso dined as a guest of Osaka Bar. All opinions are my own.
The Sichuan duck and tofu lo mein wasn't quite what I was expecting. I was anticipating actual slices of duck, rather than the minced variety. The noodles were cooked well and had that bouncy bite. The dish had a big punch of flavour, but the sichuan spice was a little overpowering for me.
Opened as a pop up bar, Merivale's Work in Progress helmed by Patrick Friesen, has been so popular it's now staying open indefinitely. The menu is dominated by Asian favourites, such as Lo Mein, fried chicken and wontons.
First to arrive was the Pork and prawn wonton. In the menu, the description of the dish included 'strange flavour'. I wasn't exactly sure what was so strange about it, but it was definitely tasty - a mixture of soy, peanuts and spices. The wontons were silky and plump with a delicious filling.
Every second restaurants seem to be serving fried chicken these days. I was eager to see how WIP's version measure up. With four varieties to choose from, we opted for the Fried chicken with ginger nuoc cham which comes with a side of pickled diakon, cucumber and kimchi. The batter was crispy and the meat very succulent, another great rendition of fried chicken.
Work In Progress is a great, casual place to go after work with friends (and they do a good cocktail too!) Let's hope they stay open a little while yet.
On our recent trip to Hawaii, my bf and I fell in love with Poke (pronounced Poh-Keh), a Hawaiian version of sashimi. It involves sashimi grade fish cut into cubes and marinated in Japanese inspired flavours, served on its own or with rice. Coming back to Sydney, the cravings for poke did not go away so we were super excited to hear Poke had opened up in Coogee.
The decor had a modern Hawaiian feel, a bright space with fresh flowers adorning the table. Aside from poke, they also serve other well-known Hawaiian cuisine such as Kalua pork and Huli Huli chicken. But our eyes went straight to the poke of course. There were three sizes of poke bowls to choose from. We opted for two medium bowls which gives you two choices of poke flavours, one side and black rice.
Two packed and colourful bowls soon arrived at our table and we couldn't wait to dig in. Bowl #1: Go Nuts tuna and the Spicy mayo salmon (today's special) with white kimchi and black rice. We devoured the chunky cubes of sashimi which tasted very fresh.The tuna was marinated in soy sauce and adorned with sesame seeds and crushed macadamia nuts, which gave the dish an added crunchy element. The spicy mayo goes well with the salmon and the black rice was great to mop up all the sauce.
Bowl #2: The Aloha Way (Salmon with soy and sesame dressing and cherry tomatoes) and the Go Nuts tuna with raw slaw. The addition of the cherry tomatoes made it quite refreshing and added a touch of sweetness.
The poke bowls were filling but still felt light. It is a great alternative to normal fast food...if only there was one closer to home!
I love House of Crabs in Redfern so I was excited to hear O Crab opening in Chatswood, serving crab in a bag. My bf and I ventured there on its second day of trading for lunch. It was a little tricky to find as the restaurant is tucked underneath a residential block, away from the hustle and bustle of the shops and train station.
The restaurant is interestingly decked out with nets adorning the ceiling and ropes acting as a room divider. We started with the O Crab seafood chowder which came served in a bread bowl. The chowder was flavoursome and creamy and they didn't skimp on the ingredients - loads of mussels, prawns and salmon were hidden inside the bread bowl. At $10 including a non-alcoholic beverage, this lunch special is great value.
Now for the crab in a bag! You basically pick your type of crab (they had prawns too) and the sauce you want. We opted for the snow crab in garlic butter sauce ($25 per cluster i.e. 2 legs) as I tend to find it a bit meatier than the blue swimmers ($25/crab) and we weren't disappointed! Opening the bag, the aroma of the garlic butter is immediately evident and we couldn't wait to dig in.
Equipped with our mallet (branded with the name of the restaurant), we proceeded to bash the crab senseless! The plastic aprons definitely came in handy at this point! It was a lot of fun trying to extract the entire piece of crab meat intact, although the legs were pretty spiky to deal with! The crab meat was sweet and together with the sauce, was absolutely delicious. I was glad I had some of the bread bowl from the chowder leftover to mop up the sauce.
We also tried the Spiced O Crabby Patty Burger with lettuce, grilled pineapple and chili mayo. The crab patty was very juicy and tasty. With the pineapple and tomato, the brioche bun got a bit soggy. The chips on the other hand were super crunchy - another element for me to dip into that garlic butter sauce!
Once it gets its marketing going, I am sure O Crab will be packed. I am keen to come back for dinner to try some more of the crabs, or even some cocktails!
Most Sydneysiders would agree the best Vietnamese restaurants are in Cabramatta or Bankstown, but if you don't want to trek all the way to the west and am after a modern take on Vietnamese cuisine, Mama's Buoi is for you.
Located on Willoughby Road in the bustling Crows Nest dining scene, Mama's Buoi was packed with diners when we visited on a Thursday night. The interior is vibrant and beautifully designed, with an open kitchen.
We started with the pulled duck pancake - with pineapple, pickled carrots, mixed herbs & honey. I would have loved a bit more duck, but the flavour was spot on. The pineapple and pickled carrots gave the dish a distinct freshness and wakes up your palate.
Being in a Vietnamese restaurant, I couldn't go past trying the Pho (Saigon style). The noodles were beautifully made, with just the right amount of 'bite'. The broth was very flavoursome, and a bit lighter and sweeter than what I had tried at other Vietnamese places. There was also an option to get a small serving, allowing you to try more dishes.
We also tried the Lemongrass Curry Chicken on the Bone, which was one of the recommended dishes on the menu. The chicken is melt-in-your mouth soft and the sauce very fragrant, with a strong hint of the lemongrass aroma. Definitely a satisfying dish!
Prices are obviously not as cheap as those found in the West, but still very reasonable. The atmosphere is lively and the food is very tasty. I'm eager to try the rest of their menu.
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