Manpuku joins a growing list of Japanese eateries in Chatswood, specialising in ramen. The interior of the restaurant is simply decorated with wooden furnishings and ropes draping from the ceiling. They had some interesting drinks on the menu so we decided to order an Organic plum wine and the Apple jelly wine. Both tasted quite fruity and not too alcoholic, and I loved the texture of the jelly wine - it felt like I was eating a dessert.
For appetisers, we ordered the Octopus Karaage and the Wing Gyoza. The Octopus karaage was freshly cooked with a crispy batter. They were a great accompaniment to the ramen.
The Wing Gyoza caught my eye when perusing the menu. Upon enquiring, we learnt that it 's basically a fried chicken wing stuffed with a dumpling filling. What is not to love about that? The fried chicken wing had crispy skin and the dumpling filling actually felt like it belonged inside a chicken wing!
Onto the ramens and there were a few different soup bases to choose from - chicken soup, pork soup or a miso broth. We chose the Long Name Ramen, a suitable name considering the actual name of the dish consists 14 words. The ramen came with two slices of pork belly, bean sprouts, bamboo shoot, a seaweed sheet and a soft boiled egg. The broth was creamy and flavoursome, and the noodles were still springy with some bite.
The other ramen we tried was the Shio Gara which uses a chicken soup base and comes with medium straight noodles. This is great if you prefer something lighter and cleaner tasting, with a more subtle flavour. For an extra flavour kick, we added the special Gara pepper, which is a white pepper with dried garlic, bamboo and onion.
Service was efficient and friendly, and I'm glad I've found another place to satisfy my ramen craving.
One last thing - If you are a fan of Japanese food, do join Washoku lovers, which offers a range of benefits at a growing number of Japanese restaurants.
Sashimiso dined as a guest of Manpuku and Washoku Lovers. All opinions are my own.
Chao Ba, Chatswood
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.
Hello Kitty Cafe, Chatswood
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.
Bao Dao, Chatswood
I had walked by the Taiwanese eatery Bao Dao on several occasions wanting to try it, only to be deterred by the queue outside. Having dined there, I now understand that the queue isn't just due to the small interior, but also because their food is delicious and great value!
There's a two page menu showcasing pictures of each dish and ordering is done at the counter. We started with a couple of small plates. The Braised eggplant was a cold appetiser - soft and gooey with a tasty sauce, we devoured it in a flash.
Next was the Stewed tofu in a soy broth, which had a lovely velvelty texture.
The Taiwanese, like the Koreans, also love a food fried chicken. I loved Bao Dao's take on it, with incorporated fried basil. The batter was very light, the chicken very tender with just the right amount of seasoning.
The Handmade pork dumplings were also a highlight. It was clear they were freshly made - with an almost translucent skin and a plump filling, these dumplings were just what was required in this cold weather!
The portions are small (and cheap) so you can order a lot of different things to try. It's a great place to go to experience some authentic Taiwanese dishes. I will definitely be back to try their pork buns next time!
Tim Ho Wan, Chatswood
Ever since the world's cheapest Michellin starred restaurant Tim Ho Wan landed in Sydney back in late March, there have been constant queues for a table, especially on the weekends. The hype seemed to have died down a little and getting there just after 8 on a Tuesday night a couple of weeks ago, we were seated straight away. The menu contains all the familiar dishes you would find at Yum Cha and you order from the menu rather than from the roaming trolleys.
We couldn't go past the famous Baked bun with BBQ Pork filling. It is definitely sweeter than the average BBQ bun but I didn't actually mind it. The crust of the bun is quite crunchy but the inside of the bun is pillowy soft filled with delicious roasted BBQ Pork. I can see why it is the go-to dish at THW.
Another essential dish at any yum cha is Prawn Dumplings (or Har Gau). They are a bit pricey at $8.30 for four, but the flavour could not be faulted with a generous amount of prawns.
The Turnip cake was less impressive. Whilst it was tasty and had a lovely crispy coating, it could have done with more filling and flavour.
The food came very quickly...and by the time I got to the Steamed Egg Cake, it was getting a little cold. Despite this, the cake tasted delicious. The texture is very much like a chiffon cake - very light and fluffy and with just the right hint of sweetness.
The Spring roll with egg white were very crunchy, though I think I preferred the more common filling of meat and vegetables.
The Rice with Chicken, Sausage and Mushroom was rice full of flavour, but would have loved another couple of pieces of chicken.
One of my all time favourite desserts is Mango and Pomelo with sago and they do it very well in HK. It is almost like a cold soup, light and creamy. The sweetness from the mango goes perfectly with the slightly tangy pomelo.
So would I come back? Definitely. I am keen to try out the rest of the menu selection, but I will definitely order the pork buns again! The service is quick and efficient, and even though it is a bit more pricey than your standard yum cha restaurant, it is still very reasonable.
O Crab, Chatswood
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!
Chum Tang, Chatswood
With the opening of The District above the train interchange, Chatswood has gained a ton of new eateries overnight. Tim Ho Wan has got all the headlines (and queues) but there are other exciting additions, such as the Thai eatery Chum Tang, a sister restaurant to the much loved Khao Pla.
The restaurant design takes its cue from the name Chum Tang, which translates loosely to train terminal. The kitchen area is set like a rural Thai railway ticket booth with the dining area resembling the waiting area.
We started with the pork belly curry which was the highlight of the meal. The combination of the tamarind and palm sugar gave the dish a lovely sweet and sour balance. The pork belly was very tender and I loved the addition of the cashew nuts in the curry.
I was intrigued about the jackfruit salad with poached chicken, roasted coconut and chilli jam. Unfortunately, this dish wasn't really to my liking. The dressing was too strong and I didn't get the lightness out of a salad that I was after. The jackfruit is quite overpowering and I would preferred more chicken and less jackfruit.
Our final dish was the Grilled wagyu sirloin with roasted rice and roasted chilli. Cooked on a charcoal grill, the wagyu was deliciously tender. The spice mix was quite hot for my palate, so I was glad there were some raw cucumber on the plate to offset some of the heat.
Being a new restaurant, the waitress was keen to get our feedback. We were told they will be moving from the current soft opening menu to a fuller menu, with more non-spicy options but still showcasing Thai regional cuisine. I look forward to trying more of their menu!
Kingston & Co., Chatswood
Pork belly seems to be on the menu of every second Sydney restaurant these days, as it was at Kingston & Co., a newish eatery at Chatswood Westfield. My boyfriend and I both have a soft spot for pork belly so of course we ordered it. One bite of the pork belly and I was in food heaven. The skin was super thin and crispy, and actually reminded me of the skin of a roast suckling pig found at a Chinese restaurant. The meat was wonderfully tender and melted in your mouth. Conversation ceased as we just savoured each bite. However, it did get a bit heavy towards the end so I would recommend sharing this dish. The housemade apple sauce was delicious and the coleslaw rounded out the dish well.
Wagyu 'n' cheese sliders - the beef patty was juicy and tender and I loved the mustard sauce which cut through the fattiness. Am definitely going to come back and try their other burgers on the menu. For an entree, the portion size was very generous.
Our other dish was the Haloumi cheese, Turkish bread and figs. It was a great combination of flavours - the intense sweetness from the figs, the saltiess of the cheese and turkish bread to soak it all up.
For drinks, we tried the Frozen Bounty - just as the name suggests, it tasted like the Bounty chocolate bar (a combo of coconut flakes, chocolate, ice cream).
I enjoyed sitting in their quasi outdoor section, observing the hustle and bustle of Chatswood. The dessert looked very appetising but we simply could not eat anymore, so will have to come back next time!
Based on reader feedback, I am trying out my new rating system - assessing each individual dish for its tastiness and lightness. Let me know what you think!
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