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.
@ restaurant is one of several Japanese restaurants situated on the busy Pacific Highway in Crows Nest. The cosy eatery was full on the Saturday night we visited. We started with the Beef tataki which was beautifully seared. The sprinkling of the fried onion on top added a nice crunch and the ponzu dressing tied the dish together.
The agedashi tofu is a tried and tested favourite and @ Restaurant's version was no different- I especially loved the flavoursome bonito stock.
The sashimi mix included a selection of salmon, tuna, kingfish and snapper. The servings were quite generous and it was evident the fish was very fresh.
The Wagyu potato nest was definitely the highlight of the meal. Hidden underneath the best of thinly sliced potato chips were bite sized wagyu beef. The chips, seasoned generrously with salt and seaweed, were super crispy and highly addictive. The cubes of wagyu beef were very tender with just the right amount of marbling.
@ Restaurant has been added to my list of neighbourhood gems, offering quality Japanese cuisine at reasonable prices. Definitely one to come back to.
Toriciya is a restaurant I have been recommended to try by multiple friends and it most certainly did not disappoint. The restaurant was located in an unassuming, suburban street in Cammeray but once inside, it felt like we had dropped into an izakaya bar in bustling Tokyo. The narrow dining room had a certain warmth to it and I loved how the walls were adorned with different designs of sake bottles and cups.
We started with the Tasmanian sea urchin which is not something you can find in too many restaurants in Sydney. I love its creamy texture and served with the sea salt flakes, really brought out the fresh taste of the sea urchin.
The sashimi was incredibly fresh and the knifework was precise, and I loved the striking presentation.
The Wagyu beef tataki was amazingly tender, and the dressing had a nice zing to it, really waking up our tastebuds. The generous discs of truffles on the dish didn't hurt either!
The photo of the Savoy Cabbage doesn't do this dish justice. Whilst it looks like an ordinary plate of vegies, it was an amazingly complex dish and the aroma of the truffles was intoxicating. Heaped with saffron, the cabbage was soft but still had some crunch and the citrusy soy dressing was to die for.
The Wagyu beef steak was wonderfully tender and the miso paste was a nice accompaniment to the dish.
Yakitori skewers is one of their specialties and we opted for the Pork belly variety. Freshly grilled with a slightly charred flavour, the pork belly had just the right amount of fat and was very succulent.
The Saikyo miso Gem fish fillet was on the specials menu and it was sublime. It reminded me of the famed miso cod dish, with its melt in the mouth flaky flesh and filled with miso flavour.
For dessert, we tried the Green tea creme brulee with roasted green tea ice cream. I love this variant to the standard green ice cream, but with a more toasty flavour. The green tea brulee had a nice crisp topping and a rich flavour, a good way to end a truly delicious meal.
I read that Toriciya has been opened for 24 years, can't believe it took me so long to try it out! The food was exceptional throughout and service was friendly and attentive. I will definitely be back to experience the rest of the menu.
Lan Yuan is a newly opened Cantonese restaurant located in Top Ryde Shopping Centre. The design of the interior is lush and green, with lots of bamboo plants helping diners escape from the fact they are dining in a shopping complex. A plate of complimentary prawn crackers soon arrived on our table, which is always a good start to a meal!
We got the Snake bean and minced pork. With the garlic and oyster sauce, it's a very tasty, home style cooking dish.
The Crab meat and corn soup was thick and delicious, perfect for a cold winter's night. \
The Shandong Chicken was the highlight of the night. The crispy skinned chicken is juicy and tender, served with a soy, black vinegar, chilli and garlic dressing.
Lan Yuan does not have the feel of a typical Cantonese restaurant. It's a bit more relaxed and a bit less boisterous. Service is attentive and the servings are ginormous. It's a great addition to this part of town.
I have tried most of the options at the newly revamped Macquarie Centre (Chef's Gallery, Ippudo, Papparich to name a few), so was keen to try something new which is how I ended up at The Missing Piece. Located outside DJs and Uniqlo, the cafe was buzzing on the Saturday we visited.
The Missing Piece is known for its creative drinks so I tried the Tutti Frutti (a white peach, passion fruit, raspberries and rock melon frappe) which looked spectacular and tasted just as good. I loved the fact I could pick out whole raspberries in the drink and it wasn't all just blended into a pulp.
My bf got the GoNuts milkshake - combining two of his favourite things (cinnamon donuts and milkshake). It was topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and came with a snake wrapped around the straw - a quirky but nice touch. The milkshake had a good consistency and wasn't too sweet, so was very easy to drink.
The Sea salad with wood smoked salmon, kale, quinoa, chia seeds, almonds served with a poached egg was delicious. The dressing was simple - just olive oil and lemon but it was all the dish needed, and the percetly poached egg topped it off.
It was only when the dish arrived that I understood why it was called Hashtag sliders (With the polenta chips literally forming a hashtag). I loved the sliders - the lamb was soft and succulent and the jalapeno mayo gave it a touch of spice, though not too much. The polenta chips had a nice crispiness, but could have done with a bit more seasoning.
It can get quite busy on the weekend, but service is pretty efficient, so the wait isn't too long. On the way out, we saw some delicious looking cronuts and pastries at the front counter...which we will be back for next time!
I was on the lookout for a new Japanese restaurant to try but being Monday night, the options were rather limited. A quick scour of the internet led me to Sakana-Ya in Crows Nest, nestled in the raft of restaurants along Pacific Highway. The interiors are simple and unassuming, and on the night we dined, we were the only non-Japanese customers which is always a good sign when looking for authentic fare. The menu was very quite large for a Japanese restaurant, with the specials alone being two pages long!
The Beef tongue was thinly sliced and perfectly cooked, and just completely melts in the mouth.
The Japanese style omelette with scallop was very smooth with a distinct sweetness. There were chunky pieces of scallops interspersed within it, making for an excellent, light dish.
The Grilled black cod was one of the best that I've had, it was incredibly smooth and almost buttery. The flesh was flakey and had a lovely miso flavour that I just wanted more and more of.
The Deep fried baby purple eggplants comes dressed with three kinds of miso sauce. There were white miso, red miso and one that I couldn't remember. They were tasty, but a little bit too salty for my liking. I did love the soft and gooey texture.
I love salmon belly in sashimi form, and discovered they are just as tasty when simmered in a sweet soy and sake broth. The salmon was incredibly tender and the flavour of the broth was perfect.
Sakana-Ya is definitely a neighbourhood gem. Some of the fresh seafood dishes seemed a bit on the pricey side but there were lots of well-priced dishes to choose from. The service was friendly and I will definitely be back to try the rest of the menu.
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!
St Leonards has been curiously devoid of restaurants, relying on the neighbouring Crows Nest to offer a diverse range of cafes and restaurants. So I was very pleased to hear The Rice Den had set up shop on Chandos Street in St Leonards, offering modern Cantonese cooking. The decor is bang on trend with wooden interiors, exposed bulbs and quitessential Asian ingredients neatly arranged on open shelving. I also loved the use of an abacus feature framing the window, looking into the open kitchen. The restaurant was full and buzzing on a Friday night.
We started with the Roast duck san choy bao. The duck was well seasoned and the pinenuts added a nice crunch, but at $15, I was hoping for a little more.
The Crispy lamb spring rolls were a lot better value for money. The pastry was super crispy and gave a very satisfying crunch, and the lamb filling was full of flavour. The sour plum sauce was just the right condiment to go with them.
Moving on to the bigger plates, we opted for the special of the night - Crispy pork belly with caramelised eggplant and pickled ginger mayo. The presentation resembled more of a Western dish, complete with knife and fork. The pork belly is beautifully tender and the strips of skin was oh-so-deliciously crunchy. The caramelised eggplant reminded me more of traditional Cantonese cooking and I loved its soft, gooey texture.
The Steam broccolini had that lovely vibrant green colour and was a good cleansing dish before dessert.
There's a choice of two desserts on the menu and we opted for the Ovaltine pannacotta served with a whisky glaze, strawberries and roasted chestnuts. The pannacotta had just the right amount of wobbliness and the ovaltine flavour was quite pronounced, a refreshing alternative to chocolate. The strawberry and chestnut mixture was a great accompaniment, and ensured the dessert was not too sweet.
The Rice Den is a welcome addition to the lower north shore dining scene and offers a fresh take on Chinese cooking. The restaurant also has a fully licensed bar with a range of Chinese inspired cocktails, so come hungry and thirsty!
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.
Moorish Blue is a relatively new addition to the North Sydney dining scene, serving delicious North African cuisine. With a plush and elegant interior, adorned with chandeliers, fairy lights and Moroccan paintings, it was the perfect setting for date night.
We started with the Mutton backstrap, caponata (eggplant stew), fried okra with spiced yoghurt dressing. It's not often seen on menu in Sydney so I was intrigued. The
dish was mouth-wateringly good. The mutton was impeccably cooked and the eggplant mix was filled with flavour and definitely moreish! The gooey inside of the okra goes very well with the yoghurt dressing.
Next was the Za’atar salt & pepper squid with fried egg and lemon. The squid, coated in the very aromatic Za'atar crust was very tender. I loved the inclusion of a fried egg on the dish - the yolk worked as a dipping sauce for the squid.
Continuing with the seafood theme, we got the Wok-fried calamari, pearl couscous, okra and Tunisian paste. The calamari was ridiculously tender and together with the chewy pearl cous cous and okra, it was a great combination of flavours.
My favourite dish of the night was our dessert, the Turkish coffee tiramisu. The tiramisu was so creamy and velvety smooth, and I loved the intensity of the coffee flavour. The crunch of the peanuts and the cranberries added the perfect finishing touches to it. If we weren't so full, we would have ordered a second serving!
Beautiful food with a venue to match, I will definitely be back at Moorish Blue.
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