Kin by Us, the cafe by former My Kitchen Rules contestants Uel and Shanelle, has been getting great reviews since it has opened. I was eager to find out whether this eatery which takes classic cafe dishes and give them an Asian twist lives up to all the hype.
The snap crackle plop is their signature dish and you can see why. It consists of chicken rice, chicken crackling and an onsen egg (an egg cooked at 63 degrees which is an item featured multiple times on their menu). The dish had an amazing aroma when it hit the table. The fried chicken skin is super tasty and addictive and the onsen egg was cooked perfectly with a runny yolk in the centre. The dish is bursting with flavour and whilst the serving is not big, at $10, I will be happy to order a second one!
The awesomely named Bao Cheeka Wow Wow with rendang beef cheek, pickled veg & crunchy bits in a steamed bun. The bao had inredible height and again, it was very flavoursome. The pickled vegetables offset the richness of the beef, and the bun was wonderfully soft and fluffy. It also came with a side of crackling which we were very happy to devour.
The coconut cold drip coffee had subtle notes of coconut which added a bit of sweetness and I loved the way it was served, with a little Asian cookie on the side.
Kin by Us is a great addition to the dining scene in the lower north shore. Their take of Asian cuisine in a cafe setting is not commonly found in Sydney. There were a few other things on the menu that caught our eyes so we are definitely looking forward to coming back.
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!
Chiosco by Ormeggio is the casual offshoot of the two hatted Ormeggio at Spit Bridge. After a morning kayaking, we were in need of sustenance. Perched on the jetty with a nautical theme, metres away from the luxury boats and the glistening waters, it makes for a very relaxing setting.
The menu at Chiosco (Italian for kiosk) contains a selection of Italian street food as well as three pasta dishes. We opted for the burrata with basil oil, beetroot and sourdough crumbs first-up. Burrata is a fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream, and is one of my favourite cheeses. Cutting into the burrata, the cream oozes out and we had fun mixing it with the other ingredients on the plate. The flavours were spot on and the sourdough crumbs gave great texture to the dish.
The lamb skewers were perfectly cooked and the yoghurt and mint oil gave the dish a refreshing hit.
The Fregola with prawns and cherry tomatoes was a simple but tasty dish. The Fregola, which is similar to Israeli cous cous was very well cooked, moist without being gluggy. Though at $22, I was expecting a bigger serve.
Top quality food and friendly service, my only wish were that the servings were a little bigger. It's a great place for a long, relaxing lunch.
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!
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.
The Mysore chilli chops were really succulent and aromatic, marinated in chilli, carom seeds and sesame seeds. With the bone wrapped in foil, it makes them just that much easier to devour.
Located on the busy Pacific Highway, Malabar is well known for their take on South Indian cuisine.
One of their specialties is Dosa - a rice lentil crepe. We tried the Kheema Dosai which consisted of a beef mince filling with fenugreek, ginger and cinnamon - so flavoursome! I loved the texture of the Dosa - it's like having an ultra-thin, super crispy crepe. The coconut chutney and spicy sambar rounded out the dish perfectly.
We also got one of their other signature dishes - the Butter Chicken, or chicken makhani. It's definitely one of the best butter chickens I have had. The chicken pieces were moist and tender, and the creamy tomato sauce was wonderfully rich and tasty, with just the right amount of sweetness.
With an extensive menu packed with South indian classics done well, it is easy to see why Malabar has been a long-time fixture on the Sydney dining scene.
I was very excited to hear that a casual eatery serving lobster rolls has recently opened in Crows Nest. Ever since I went to NY and Boston in 2011, I have been in love with lobster rolls.
The interior is modern with a red and blue theme, definitely a notch up from your standard fish n chips store.
Of course, I had to order the lobster roll. Johnny Lobster's version contained chunks of lobster with tomato, cucumber, potato, dill and mayo, all inside a brioche roll. The toasted brioche roll was divine, one of the best I've ever had! I was hoping for slightly more lobster, but knowing how expensive lobster is in Sydney, it was more wishful thinking. The lobster meat was nicely cooked and went well with the dill mayo.
We also ordered the Fish Roll with Pico de Gallo Salsa. The fish was wonderfully crispy on the outside, nicely complemented by the fresh and zesty tomato and cucumber salsa.
The Haloumi salad with fennel, radish, pickled carrots, rocket and orange was another very fresh and colourful dish, though could have done with a bit more dressing.
Great place to grab a bit to eat, am keen to try the soft shell crab roll next time!
I like to try out different restaurants but one that I keep coming back to time and time again is Tatsuya. Not the hatted Tetsuya, but a similarly sounding Japanese restaurant in West Ryde.
Agedashi tofu is one of my favourite things to order at Tatsuya. The serving size is very generous, four thick slices covered in a crispy batter, but still silky soft on the inside. The tofu is topped with a sprinkling of flakes and sits in a delicious broth.
The Deluxe sashimi set contains 32 pieces of sashimi goodness. It's great value considering how big each of the pieces are. The sashimi is very fresh and there is a large array of variety.
The Grilled Sushi set contains 10 pieces of sashimi (kingfish, salmon and scallops) lightly blowtorched, complemented with the kewpie mayo and teriyaki sauce. The scallops weren't as grilled as much as they normally are but the taste cannot be faultd.
The Wafu steak comes served on a cast iron hot plate, on a bed of sauteeds. Meat was tender and the sauce was just rightly balanced, yet another dish to savour.
Service is quick and efficient. It's not the place to go if you are after a nice ambience and relaxing dinner, but for good quality and value Japanese food, Tatsuya is definitely worth a visit.
Over the years I have been to many Japanese restaurants in Neutral Bay, including Sushi Samurai which has been rebranded to Izakaya Samurai. It is actually the sister restaurant of Izakaya Yebisu in the city. Like Yebisu, the restaurant features touch screen menus which makes ordering ultra simple. Before we had finished ordering, our first dish had already arrived. Talk about efficiency!
First up was the lotus root chips. I am not a fan of lotus root generally, but it is a different story when they are deep fried! Unfortunately these were a bit chewy and not crispy enough.
Seafood carpaccio with Japanese ume dressing. It's like a Japanese take on ceviche, the tangy soy dressing went really well with the fresh sashimi. It was something different to the regular sashimi...which we also ordered.
The main sashimi plate comprised of tuna, snapper, kingfish, salmon, prawn, salmon roe and scallops. The slices were beautifully presented and were quickly chowed down.
I love agedashi tofu so was very keen to try this variation - Agedashi Eggplant. It was delicious and the sauce was really nicely balanced. The eggplant was amazingly soft and just melted in the mouth.
Not so impressive was the beef tongue, which was a bit chewy.
One of the dangers of a touch screen menu is that it is just too easy to order. No need to find a waiter/ waitress, one touch of the screen is all it takes. The food kept on arriving...The skirt steak was tender and the ponzu dressing really lifted the flavour. The grilled kingfish was moist and flavoursome, although by this stage, I was feeling rather full. The scallop and garlic fried rice, is an example of a simple dish done really really well. I was surprised at how much flavour they managed to pack into it!
For a Japanese restaurant, the dessert menu was quite extensive. The Earl Grey Brulee caught my eye and it did not disappoint - and very reasonably priced as well! The earl grey flavour was obvious without being overpowering and I enjoyed every mouthful. The Green Tea tiramisu was also very well made, although it didn't have the wow factor of the brulee.
Izakaya Samurai is a great place for a casual Japanese meal with an extensive menu, with the added convenience of a touch screen ordering system.
Zucchini chips? It was just too intriguing to pass up. We were at The Lodge for brunch on a sunny Saturday morning.
The zucchini chips were quite large and chunky. It was covered in a tasty spiced tempura batter. Texture-wise, the chips were crunchy on the outside but still a bit wet on the inside. I felt quite healthy eating these as it resembled more veggie than chips...I still prefer sweet potato fries any day.
The tea smoked duck salad with fig, Gorgonzola, pear and white balsamic reduction was beautiful. Can't really go wrong with that combination of flavours!
The mushroom arancini was gooey on the outside and had a nice crunch on the outside.
Service was quick and friendly. The place turns more into a tapas bar at night, will be back to try it!
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