Monday, February 28, 2011

Oliver Brown, Top Ryde City Shopping Centre

Cheesecake Boy and I are still busy organising our new place, I swear this unpacking is just never ending.  We needed storage containers for the kitchen, so on Sunday we decided to conquer the maze of Ikea.  Approaching the crazy zoo of Ikea made me want out, so some intense wandering of Rhodes Shopping Centre took place instead.  Exhausted after our efforts, we needed a sugar hit.  

After Rhodes Shopping Centre, we headed up to Mrs. Fields at Top Ryde Shopping Centre to get a nibblers gift pack, but decided to detour to Oliver Brown for our sugar hit first.  Oliver Brown is a chocolate cafe that opened late last year.  Apparently, they also have a store in Chatswood Westfield in the Fresh Food Market section.

When the Top Ryde shop initially opened, they offered discounts for all beverages and food excluding chocolate box sets, but as it was so busy, it put us off.  However, this place opens until midnight most nights, and I always see quite a large crowd inside, so we decided to see what all the fuss was about.

The shop front

We decide to sit inside and there are racks on the wall that offer magazines or the paper for you to read whilst you enjoy your purchases.

Inside seating

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ryo's Noodles, Crows Nest

Cheesecake Boy and I were in Chatswood on Saturday to pick up a few things.  We were feeling peckish so we decided to head down to Crows Nest for lunch.  We always said that we would try Ryo's Noodles every time we drove past but we always got deterred by the queues or never got around to it.  On this Saturday, we had decided that the time had come and ramen was definitely on the agenda.  

We drove past and there was a queue and I felt like pulling out like all the other times, as I  just hate waiting and would prefer to get there early to avoid the wait, but Cheesecake Boy insisted.  Lucky, that he did insist at that moment because not long after we got there, we were given a piece of paper with the word 'last' on it.  This meant that we got the lucky last spot in their lunch session, but then we were also entrusted with the duty of turning away the three hungry and disappointed couples that tried to queue up after us.

The shop front

As we are queuing we looked at restaurant's signage, we chose our ramen and then we noticed that they are opening a shop in Hong Kong this April.  So, if you don't have any luck down here, and if you happen to be in Hong Kong in April, they just might squeeze you in.

The lunch queue around 1.30pm
The lucky 'last' pass

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Greenhouse by Joost and Baroque Bistro

It's been a week a of unpacking for Cheesecake Boy and I, as we just moved into a new place, so we decided that Friday being the end of a very long work week, we'd go on a date and ditch the unpacking for one night.  We both work in CBD Sydney and decided that it was about time to head down to the Greenhouse by Joost to sit by the harbour and chill out.

The restaurant
Our side view inside
The view in front of me

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tokyoria - World Square, Sydney

Having lunch in the Sydney CBD can be a real chore sometimes. You have your favourites but they can get boring or you hit lunch peak time and then you can't find a restaurant where you can have a nice and peaceful break or the worst is when you plan to go somewhere for a catch up lunch with friends and the restaurant is packed so you have to find an alternative spot.  These are the issues that arise for me as I work near World Square.

I noticed Tokyoria when I was having lunch at Ding Tai Fung and kept it  in mind when I felt like something different.  Tokyoria is owned by Seoul-Ria, so you know that you are not going to get authentic Japanese food.  However, for a lunch catch up it's the perfect spot, as it's still relatively unknown so it's nice and quiet and the service is efficient as they operate with the computer touch screen menus like Mizuya and Wagaya.

Restaurant front
Complimentary edamame

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Taste of Shanghai, Eastwood

We're still in moving mode and our kitchen is still unpacked so lately we have either been out somewhere local for dinner or I've been pressing out jaffles but hopefully the kitchen will be done by tonight and I can start cooking again.  

We haven't come to this restaurant since it opened a couple of years ago due to the chaotic service we had repeatedly received and that the food was not to Cheesecake Boy's taste at the time. However, we decided to give them a second chance and we were pleasantly surprised this time.

Cheesecake Boy is not usually a huge fan of shallot pancakes but we order them because I like them.  He's surprised this time as they are not doughnut shaped ones.  However, he really likes these ones and helps me demolish them.

Shallot pancake $7.80

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rosso Pomodoro, Balmain (White Bay)

Cheesecake Boy and I are moving house this weekend.  We wouldn't have been able to pull this off, if it wasn't for the help of our families.  In appreciation for all the moving and cleaning that was completed on Saturday, I booked a table at Rosso Pomodoro to end the hard day with pizzas and beer.

We began with two starters a nice garlic pizza and an antipasto platter.  It says on the menu that the antipasto platter is for two people, but this was huge.  There were five of us and there was plenty to share.  The antipasto was delicious,  the best I have had in a while, as the flavours are not too strong and overpowering as others tend to be with overly salty meat and olives.

Bruschetta all'Agio: pizza crust with garlic, herbs and extra virgin oil

Antipasto della casa (for two people)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Yu-U, Melbourne

This visit dates back to Cheesecake Boy's birthday a couple of year's ago.  I had to book a month in advance to secure us a spot for his birthday lunch.  

Yu-U is so perfectly Melbourne, in that it has that elusive quality about it. I mean even the locals had no idea what I was talking about when I was trying to secretly get directions from the visitors centre and concierge of our hotel.  I guess, if you are hidden in a lane way and your entrance blends in with the rest of the lane and its walls, you may very well not want to be found.

Now I had booked all the restaurants  we were eating at that week without telling Cheesecake Boy where we were heading and when he saw the graffiti door I was dragging him into he hesitated until he saw the sign and menu in the door way.  The only other time he has done that was when I was dragging him into Madang that's in an alleyway off Pitt Street.

The entrance

Thursday, February 17, 2011

High Tea at Park Hyatt, The Rocks

A special friend of ours is getting married that led to this hen's high tea at the Park Hyatt.  Due to the sudden chilly change in the weather I had burned up my breakfast at Bacco and was ready to chomp and sip the afternoon away.

I think Cheesecake Boy might be right and that my camera may very well be dying, so apologies and I will very soon take my camera to see a specialist who may be able to rectify the problems I'm having with my camera lately.

The menu

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eastwood Garden Peking Restaurant, Eastwood

Dumpling girl and I have been regular visitors to this restaurant for the last 4 years or so due a number of reasons. In fact this is where our culinary journey started together. With so many fond memories from this place, we often find ourselves dining on our favourite dishes.

Arriving on a Tuesday night to find the restaurant only moderately busy, we were glad to be able to be seated without having to wait. Taking a seat near the door we were provided with menus to decide what to eat. I often feel that we don't even need the menus as Dumpling Girl almost always chooses the steamed tofu with fish and shallot pancakes and I almost always order the shredded beef and hot and sour soup.

The food arrived promptly and Dumpling Girl managed to remember to take photos before digging in. The hot and sour soup was first to arrive which is my favourite of any Chinese Restaurants. After sharing the soup together the Shallot Pancakes arrived with the shredded steak and our rice. The sweetness of the sauce on the shredded beef really makes it a delicious dish and I don't care how much I get mocked for it as most "Gwai Lo" order this dish. Dumpling Girl's steamed tofu with fish arrived and we commenced eating it. The combination of tender fish and soft Tofu coupled with the sweet, salty sauce makes this dish Dumpling Girls favourite at this restaurant.

Being a very busy restaurant, there are always a lot of wait staff around to take your order and it means that there are a lot of chefs in the kitchen. Part of the reason we enjoy this restaurant so much is that there is no nonsense. The diners are promptly seated with orders quickly taken. The food arrives in only a few minutes and is always consistently of a high standard. The serving sizes are generous for the price. All of these factors add up to making this what is probably our favourite Chinese Restaurant in this area of Sydney.

Given our attachment to this restaurant I can imagine that we will have many more happy memories of dining here long in to the future.

Apologies for the quality of the photos - Dumpling Girl's camera is dying we think

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Press Club, Melbourne

A couple years ago for Cheesecake Boy's birthday, we went down to Melbourne for his birthday trip.  We had contemplated that this holiday would be a good reason to also start a blog.  However, we discovered that I have this terrible habit of seeing food and going for it and then remembering afterwards that I forgot to take the photo, so its now 2 years later and here we are now.  I had managed on this ocassion to take all the photos of every item and looking back on these photos the other day, I thought I might as well blog this even though it has been a while, as I always have such fond memories of this trip and this meal we shared.

I had booked Cheesecake Boy and I on our last day in Melbourne to indulge in the Sunday Lunch Kerasma at The Press Club and this ended up being our favourite meal of our first trip to Melbourne together.  I believe the first season of MasterChef Australia was still airing when we came here, and remembered the passion that George has when he spoke about cooking and how Cheesecake Boy and I love Greek food, so that's how we ended up here.

The restuarant back then, I believe its been renovated now.
To start: tomato soup and sides

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bacco Pasticceria, Queen Victoria Building

My sister and I were meeting for a late breakfast today and we settled for Bacco Pasticceria.  It's nice and quiet up on level 2 at QVB this early morning.  Perfect for a catch up session without the usual hustle and bustle.

The shop front

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Red Spoon Thai Restaurant, Top Ryde City Shopping Centre

This place is one of our locals.  When Cheesecake Boy and I are super lazy after work we often order home delivery from their Gladesville shop as the Top Ryde shop does not offer this service yet.  

One night, Cheesecake Boy and I were on Spreets and saw that they had an offer that included four courses, a bottle of wine and two Events movie tickets for $59.  The perfect deal for one of our lazy days we thought.

The lazy night in question happen to fall on that dreaded day when Sydney reached 42 degrees.  Now the restaurant is incredibly dim, so I'm sorry but the pictures are really quite terrible.

Course one consisted of prawn betal leaves and mini spring rolls.  The betal leaves had a nice texture due to the sprinkling of the fried onions.  The spring rolls were quite standard filled mainly with cabbage and carrot.   Cheesecake Boy loved the dipping sauce.

Prawn betal leaf
Red Spoon mini stick roll

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ms. G's, Potts Point - Dumpling Girl's Birthday Finale

The end of my birthday adventures stops at Ms.G's.  I had been meaning to come for a while but had been too busy munching elsewhere, so it was only fitting that I book a table, and with family in tow we celebrated the end of my birthday week.

I truly love the decor and relaxed vibe of this place, it's imperfect, quirky and fun.  We are seated at the table with the lazy susan and the menus come, they have different covers of fat ninjas and cherry blossoms on them, but we were hungry so we had to make some quick decisions.  Now, don't be alarmed by the amount of food to come, just bear in mind there were eight starving souls dining that night.

The lights
Our table

I love gimmicks and all things adorably cute and my packaged cocktail was all these things with the bubble tea cup and the kokeshi doll on the top.  I couldn't resist, I had to slab her in the eye with that bubble tea straw.  It's a real novelty for me, as I don't drink bubble tea.  This cocktail is refreshing and more so for Ms G's Famous Yuzu Slushee that I get a taste of from my cousin. 

Good Morning Vietnam package cocktail
In that straw goes...and slurping away  

The boys on the other hand were happy with their beers.  I took a sip of Cheesecake Boy's 333 and I am pretty fussy with beer but loved this one. If anyone knows which bottle shop stocks it, please drop me a note as I've been trying to find it. 

Our food comes so quickly, first the mini banh mi they are delicious and the majority on the table vote this as their favourite of the night.  Cheesecake Boy and I order one pork and a chicken between us and share,  I think I was the only one on the table to prefer the chicken katsu but don't get me wrong, they were both fantastic.  Unfortunately, the mini banh mi are bite size and they're gone after 2 bites ok may be 3 but it's making me wish we ordered more.  However, we had to prepare ourselves for all the food to come and I really need to leave room for dessert. 

Mini banh mi - crispy pork belly and chicken katsu

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Porteno, Surry Hills - Dumpling Girl's Birthday Dinner

Unfortunately, Cheesecake Boy couldn't get my birthday off this year, so I decided to go to work too.  Luckily, I was working in Surry Hills and Cheesecake Boy was able to finish work early and pick me up, so off we went to queue up at Porteno.  I had been salivating over the suckling pig for a while, so Cheesecake Boy thought this was the best place my dinner on my special day.

We arrived at 5.45pm and people were queuing up on a Wednesday night already before us, but as long as we got a serving of the suckling pig, I was going to be a happy girl that night. 

Love the decor of this place

Cheesecake Boy is obsessed with olives and we have to order them every time he sees them on a menu.  I am not an olive fiend, so to me they are just olives but Cheesecake Boy devoured these.

Marinated olives

Pate is a different story though, I love this stuff especially when its as good as this one, definitely one of the better pates I've had in a while.  Cheesecake Boy, on the other hand doesn't understand my liking for pate though, he generally thinks pate has a funny aftertaste, but he still gives it a go.

House baked bread with olive oil and pork pate

The sauce and salsa go really nicely with the suckling pig and really gives the pork a lift.  Cheesecake Boy is smearing the green sauce all over his bread instead of the pate.  The sauce is was very garlicky, just right up Cheesecake Boy's alley and we both prefer this to the salsa.

The salsa and other sauce for the suckling pig

The cider went down easily as it was beautifully sweet, and my cocktail came with one of those hybrid spoon straws, so I could slurp my cocktail and scoop out the real stone fruit pieces inside.

Sidra escancidor (cider)

Fruit cobbler

The pastry on these were flaky, I loved the ricotta one more, not as keen on the beef but it was still nice.  However, being the boy that Cheesecake Boy is, he preferred the beef.

Beef and broccoli and ricotta empanada

Friday, February 4, 2011

Berowra Waters Inn - Dumpling Girl's Birthday Surprise

This restaurant has been on my wish list for a while, especially now that Forty One Restaurant is no more, so Cheesecake Boy being the great boyfriend that he is, decided to spoil me on my birthday.

On an overcast but warm Sunday we drove off to Berowra Waters, and I was moping thinking that it was a sign not to go but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as there is no air conditioning at the restaurant and it relies on fans to keep the circulation going.
Getting to the food, Cheesecake Boy and I decided on the five course degustation.  I'll let the pictures do the talking for now...

Our view
Someone being dropped off by seaplane, next time it's our turn (hint, hint Cheesecake Boy)
The menu
The canapes

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hurricanes, Top Ryde City Shopping Centre

Top Ryde City Shopping Centre reopened in 2010 after a long leave of absence. Being local residents, Dumpling Girl and I were excited to hear that Hurricanes would be opening a restaurant in "La Strada". Having dined at both the Bondi Beach and Darling Harbour versions of this restaurant, we were looking forward to our favourite menu items being the Portugese Chicken and the rack of Pork Ribs.

Being advised that the restaurant would open "late 2010" we would visit to see if it was open on our weekly shopping expeditions. To our dismay, the opening was pushed back to early 2011 which was not to our liking!. Having nearly given up on trying to predict the opening date, Dumpling girl and I started losing interest. That was until fate would have us in the right place at the right time.

Coming home from a long day at work in yet another boiling hot Sydney day, we decided that we were both too worn out to cook. Being Chinese New Years Eve we decided to go and celebrate once more by eating together. Dumpling girl decided that eating at Eastwood Peking sounded like a good idea. Phoning the restaurant with the faint hope that there would be a spot available, we were advised that the night was booked out. Upon hearing this news we decided to research what restaurants there were open around our area and to our surprise we found that Hurricanes was opening today!!!

We attempted to call to book however due to a non functional booking system (after 6pm) we had to try our luck that there would be spaces available. Arriving to find the place partially filled we were glad to be able to get a seat.

Being opening night there were nearly as many staff on as there were customers. We were ushered to our table by a friendly waiter who advised us that it was the first night working for hurricanes for most of the staff. We were handed menus which we looked at to see what items may tempt us and then decided it was best to stick with our original choices of Portugese Chicken and Pork Ribs with a side of chips and garlic bread. The food arrived and tasted just like we remembered and we were happy with our choices.

The difference between many restaurants is the service it delivers. On our visit the wait staff were attentive, efficient, friendly and professional. If anything I would say that they over delivered which is not always a good thing. I can only read from this that they are opening to make a good impression with all the new clientele.

Overall the experience was well enjoyed and we are sure that we will be back for more sometime in the future. First impressions count and I can say that our first impression was a good one!!

Garlic Bread - Delicious!

Half Chicken with Ribs - Meal for 2!