Sushi Club, Pyrmont ($$)

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Address: 137/313 Harris Street, Pyrmont  NSW

Tel: (02) 9692 8280

Website: http://thesushiclubpyrmont.weebly.com/index.html

Opening Hours:

Monday -Sunday
Lunch: 11.30am-2.30pm
Dinner: 5.30pm-9:30pm

* * *

SenoritaLay, MC, MRyan Photography and I hit up Sushi Club for some all you can eat seafood.

We headed over to Pyrmont after work, with MC and I parking in Darling Quarter and SenoritaLay and MRyan Photography parking opposite the restaurant in the Secure Parking.

Getting there was pretty easy as it is only a 5 minute walk from Darling Harbour shopping centre.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere was pretty quiet and calm.

There were a couple of other tables around us but, being a Wednesday night, no one was particularly chatty or loud. We were probably the loudest ones there!

The brick walls and florescent lighting didn’t help the restaurant’s appearance, although the red and white chairs did brighten it up.

Also, while I didn’t use the restrooms, I noticed that some people who did use them had to go to another room outside the restaurant, possible an outside toilet or something- not ideal!

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Service

Service was quite average.

When we arrived, MC and I went up to the registers and asked if we could have a seat and order a drink.

We were asked to choose our drink from the fridge, which we did, and were then led to a table outside.

As part of the all you can eat option, you have to finish one dish before ordering another. As there were 4 of us, each of us had to order a dish each time. At the end of the meal, MC and I were ordering dishes just to keep up, which is a bit of a waste as the restaurant could have just let SenoritaLay and MRyan Photography order a dish on their own (it would have been better for them!).

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Food

I ordered a mango green tea and MC ordered an Asahi beer ($10.00 total).

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To start off, we were each given a bowl of Miso Soup, which was…well, a standard Miso Soup.  Probably a filler for the main event, but that didn’t stop us!

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MC ordered the Chicken Karaage. It was crunchy and a bit oily, but we all loved it nonetheless! We ended up ordering another dish of it because we are all fatties who love fried food. The tangy mayo was perfect with it to freshen it up a bit and MRyan joked about having to eat the lettuce and orange before we could order another dish!

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We ordered a Smoked Salmon Roll which was quite large and presented nicely, if a little messily.

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We also ordered a Crumbed Chicken Roll.

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We ordered a Sashimi Platter for something a little more fresh.  Unfortunately it was pretty disappointing. There wasn’t a lot of fish, it was about half fish and half vegetables, and the few pieces of fish that were there were poor quality and had bits of skin on.  They were poorly cut and quite chunky.

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We ordered Chilli Edamame to munch on with the sushi and I have to say this was one of the better dishes I had. The chilli sauce was delicious and hot and it had a very strong garlic taste, which I loved. The beans were warm and fresh and overall the dish was an interesting take on the standard salted edamame.

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MC ordered a Teriyaki Chicken hand roll. It was a bit difficult to eat as it wasn’t tightly packed, but the teriyaki chicken was tasty and the rice was perfectly sticky.

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We also ordered Pan Fried Pork Gyoza. There were lots on the dish and they were crispy on the outside and tasty and moist on the inside.

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The Tempura Prawn roll was probably my favourite dish, as I love crispy fried foods and seafood.  The roll was tasty, the prawn crisp, and the extra fried pieces on top added some more crunch! This roll disappeared quickly!

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Finally, SenoritaLay ordered the Salmon Salad. This was an average dish, again with poor cuts of salmon.  However, there was a lot of roe and avocado in the dish and it didn’t taste too bad overall.

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Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 5
  • Food- 6
  • Ambience- 5
  • Value – 7

Sushi Club on Urbanspoon

Guest Recipe: Mango Cheesecake (serves 12)

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The epitome of the Australian summer to me is mangoes, which are one of my favourite fruits.

Did I also tell you that I love dessert?

I had a first world problem of having too many mangoes growing from our mango tree at home, so we had to try and eat most of them before they went off. With all the current combinations of fruit- based cheesecakes like lemon or raspberry, why not try mango?

So with an adventurous mood on a Saturday afternoon; I decided to try a mango cheesecake.

This was also my first attempt in making a cheesecake. I had a Coles catalogue recipe (http://recipes.coles.com.au/recipes/3164/mango-cheesecake) lying around, which was just perfect – my biggest concern with starting was using gelatine powder, which I’ve never used before.

Although I have a huge sweet-tooth, I prefer to add less sugar than suggested in dessert recipes; I was also considering that our home-grown mangoes would add enough sweetness to this dessert.

The recipe also suggested Arnott’s Marie biscuits (which I used), but if I was to try this again, I would use shortbread fingers instead for a more buttery taste for the base of the cheesecake. (One thing to note is that I didn’t have a food processor so I had found an innovative way to crush the Marie biscuits, and I’m sure you will too if you don’t have one.)

After an overnight chilling, the cheesecake turned out beautiful, very rich (so for not those on diets), and of course the mangoes were the star in this dessert. I also attempted to make the coulis but had added too much lime juice which overpowered the mango flavour in the cheesecake when accompanied with it.

Overall, this recipe was easy to follow, with only a few steps involved. The family loved it and now left with a few less mangoes.

TCFB Pic

Ingredients:

  • 150gr Arnott’s Marie Biscuits
  • 80gr butter, melted
  • 2 x 250 g pkts Kraft Cream Cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 300 ml Thickened Cream, whipped
  • 1 Tbsp Gelatine
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 4 Mangoes, peeled and sliced

Coulis

  • 1 Mango, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Lime Juice

Method:

1. Process biscuits in a food processor until finely crushed. Add butter and pulse to combine. Press over the base of a 20cm springform pan. Chill for 15 mins or until firm.

2. Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and sugar in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Fold in the cream. Whisk the gelatine and hot water in a small bowl until the gelatine dissolves. Stir 1/4 cup of the cream cheese mixture into the gelatine mixture, then add to the remaining mixture and mix well. Pour half the cream cheese mixture over the biscuit base. Top with half the mango slices, then remaining cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate overnight or until firm (see tip).

3. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge 15 mins before serving. To make coulis, place the mango and lime juice in a blender and pulse until smooth. (If necessary, blend in a little water until coulis reaches pouring consistency.

3. Arrange the remaining sliced mango over the cheesecake and drizzle over the coulis.

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Anzac Biscuits (makes about 18)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • ¾ cup coconut
  • 3/4 cup stevia powder
  • 3 Tsp golden syrup, honey or agave
  • 3 Tsp hot water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 140 gr melted butter

Method:

1. Add flour, rolled oats, coconut and stevia to a large mixing bowl.

2. Melt butter in a saucepan over high heat and add golden syrup/honey/agave and water.  Stir to mix in and continue stirring until butter starts bubbling.

3. Add baking soda to the saucepan and stir quickly for 10 seconds.

4. Pour butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix in.

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5. Using a tablespoon for measurement, roll the mixture into balls and then press out onto greased baking trays.

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5. Bake at 150C until the biscuits are golden (about 15 -20 minutes).

Enjoy!

Tip: adding crushed macadamias will add extra flavour and texture!

GIVEAWAY & Service Review: Eatnow.com.au / Review of Hanuman Thai

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What is it: an online food delivery service

Where is it: www.eatnow.com.au

* * *

I had been approached to try Eatnow.com.au, an online food ordering service. Eatnow is one of Australia’s leading online food delivery services and operates in over 3,000 restaurants.

One weeknight, TW wanted to go out for dinner, Wicko wanted massaman curry and RW was just hungry, but I didn’t want to leave the house as I was already in my PJs!

So I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to try out Eatnow.

We decided to order takeaway online and I jumped onto the website to order. 1

Upon entering in my postcode and selecting my suburb, a number of restaurants in the area came up. 32.

You could also search by map and choose options based on delivery, distance, deals and favourites: 6

We ended up going with Hanuman Thai St Ives as we had tried many of the other restaurants that came up.

When I clicked on the link, the menu and details appeared.  As a bonus, Hanuman had free delivery and 10% off the first order!

We chose a medium spicy massaman beef curry, a papaya salad, a mild red chicken curry, a beef and chilli basil stir fry, and curry puffs.  The total was about $55- great value. 5

Once I clicked through the links and paid (via paypal), I received a confirmation email stating that my order had been processed and a text message thanking me for my order. The email also indicated that it would take 45 minutes for the meal to arrive and provided a phone number to call with any further questions.  Easy!

We waited for 45 minutes and then decided to call the phone number provided when it got to 50 minutes.  We had ordered at 8.50pm – when I called the number the lady who answered said my order was ready and the delivery guy had left 10 minutes ago.

Lo and behold, 5 minutes later the doorbell rang!

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We were pretty excited to open the door and receive a brown paper bag of well-packaged Thai food!

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The Thai food was pretty good, we loved the flavours in the massaman curry, the fresh papaya salad, and the crispy and spicy curry puffs!

Quite delicious and if I hadn’t been on Eatnow I would never have known it existed, and only a suburb away!

* * *

Eatnow Competition!

TCFB, along with Eatnow.com.au are running a giveaway!

You could win a $50 Eatnow.com.au voucher to use online for either takeaway or delivery in your area. All you have to do to win is comment below in 25 words or less what you would order on Eatnow.com.au.

For extra entries, like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/thecasualfoodblogger, Instagram: @thecasualfoodblogger and twitter: @tcfb

Terms and Conditions

  1. This competition is open to Australian residents aged 16 years or over.
  2. The competition commences Sunday 9 November 2014 at 12.00 pm AEST and concludes on Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 12.00 pm AEST.
  3. Please include your name and email address so we can contact you if you win.
  4. Winners will be notified by email by Sunday, 23 November 2014 by email and on our website (comments) and Facebook page.
  5. If we are unable to contact you or do not hear back from you within 5 days of  the date of our email we will choose another winner.
  6. By entering this competition you agree to give us your postal address and to allow us to retain your contact details for the purposes of this competition.
  7. The prize consists of 1 x $50 Eatnow.com.au voucher.
  8. Prize is not redeemable for cash.
  9. This competition is hosted by The Casual Food Blogger at http://www.thecasualfoodblogger.wordpress.com.

The Grounds of Alexandria, Alexandria ($$)

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The Grounds is a super popular cafe in South Sydney, which some say has the best coffee in town.  Located in Alexandria, the grounds is centred around a beautiful garden and the old pie factory in which it is located, giving it a rustic and country feel whilst still maintaining the industrial chic vibe which fits in with the character of the suburb.

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The Grounds was conceived and opened by Ramzey Choker, his business partner Jack Hanna and Ramzey’s sister (and interior designer) Caroline Choker.

Ramzey is an entrepreneur who has worked on a number of other restaurants including Bacco Pasticceria and Rocket, and Jack is a coffee enthusiast and former World Latte Art Champion who has worked under Sammy Piccolo in Canada.

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My friend DeeV and I (who I met when I did part a course at Cambridge- see here) decided to check it out as we both had not been and thought it was definitely about time!

We headed over on a Sunday morning and caught the train in, walking for 40 minutes from Central Station to get there (although you can also get the train to Green Square and walk for 10-15 minutes or catch a cab).  We both found it a little inconvenient to get to as I live north and DeeV lives West – so hopefully the owners open up a new one somewhere a bit more central for the rest of Sydney.

Once we entered the grounds, we immediately put our names down for a table inside. We were handed a buzzer and advised it would be a one and a half hour wait.

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Although we knew it would be a long wait we were still a bit disappointed at HOW long they told us it would be. However, not to worry- The Grounds also has an awesome mini market and beautiful garden which we really enjoyed exploring while we waited.

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We wandered through the garden and checked out the famous piggy, Kevin Bacon, walked past the little events gazebo in which a lucky little boy was having his birthday party, and wandered past another events room in which a 21st birthday was being celebrated.

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As it was extremely hot, we grabbed a lemonade-  I got a regular one and DeeV got a rose one. I loved the quaint stall with the strawberries and blueberries (so bright and fresh!) and the lovely dispensers for the lemonade.

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The beautiful lemonade stall, with delicious flavours of lemonade and iced tea- $5.00 per cup.

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After a wait of about 50 minutes, we went to check how we were going and as soon as we approached the cafe our buzzer went off! Woohoo, we didn’t have to wait one and a half hours after all!

We were super excited as we were seated on the side near the giant coffee chalk board and had a great view of the happenings inside the giant cafe.

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It was quite loud inside as there wasn’t much insulation for noise and there were lots of people and some music as well so it was a little difficult to speak

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We weren’t sure what to order as there were a lot of great options but we started with a cappuccino for myself and a flat white for DeeV.

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Cappuccino, $3.80

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Flat White, $3.80

The coffee at The Grounds is excellent and has a beautiful nutty flavour, without being too strong or too bitter. As the blackboard (photo above) suggests, they really emphasise quality and perfectionism in every step of the coffee making process and even have an on-site research facility.

We finally made up our minds on what to order.  Getting the attention of a staff member was a little difficult as they were super busy, but when we did they were always very friendly and efficient!

I had the Lamb Salad and DeeV had the Ragu.

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Ragu, $19.00

DeeV loved her ragu and said the pasta was very well made and not sticky or gluggy at all and the sauce was flavoursome and delicious. The serving size was very generous.

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Lamb Salad, $19.00

At first, I thought my salad was quite bland but when I discovered that the dressing was under the salad and mixed it all in, I really enjoyed it. The raisins were sweet and delicious, almonds added texture and crunch, there was plenty of lamb and the tangy dressing gave the dish a Middle Eastern feel.

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Chips with chilli aioli, $6.00

Aioli chips were the perfect side and were crunchy and beer-battered- very enjoyable. Not a very large serving, but it was plenty for the two of us as we didn’t even manage to finish them!

After devouring our meals, we decided to have a walk around the grounds and check out the stalls and food for sale.

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We started off indoors and ogled at the delicious cakes.  Neither of us could resist them and we both ended up buying a few treats to take home.

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We then headed outdoors where we saw a nut stall, olive stall, donut stall, waffle stalls, flower shops, coffee shop and more!

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I ended up buying a number of goodies including some chocolate covered nuts, donuts and cakes.

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We then grabbed a takeaway lemonade and left to explore the antique stores around the area   – some beautiful pieces you should definitely check out!

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Recap

Overall, a fantastic day out with excellent coffee, beautiful gardens to explore, delicious lemonade, amazing cakes and wonderful company! If only it wasn’t so crowded- open up another one guys!

8.5/10.

* * *

Address: Building 7A/2 Huntley Street, Alexandria NSW

Tel: (02) 9699 2225

Website: http://groundsroasters.com/

The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

Customs House Bar, Circular Quay Sydney ($$)

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Customs House was the headquarters of the Customs Service where new arrivals to Australia had their passports stamped; and just down the road on Macquarie street, is Customs House Bar, where they had their first drinks in Australia.

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Atmosphere

The Bar is over 160 years old and is now owned by the Marriott, but still retains much of its history.

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The original marble bar is still intact and is listed as a heritage item,while the exterior also retains its 1800’s look.

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However, Customs House Bar also has a modern outdoor beer garden bordering on Macquarie Place Park with a white picket fence, modern wooden furniture and custom stamped tables and cutlery boxes.

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Service

Soon after our arrival, TW and I were greeted by the lovely Kelsey who quickly brought us out some cold water to cool us down (it was a HOT day so we greatly appreciated it), and very knowledgeably explained the menu to us, making a couple of recommendations.

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To start with, we ordered a jug of the delicious Peach White Sangria ($20), which was oh-so-refreshing.  The wine was quite sweet and featured peach puree and orange juice, peach pieces and orange and ruby grapefruit slices in white wine.

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Kelsey pouring out some of the sangria for us!

After a few glasses we were starting to feel a bit dizzy- that stuff is strong!  The Bar Manager, Mirza, who has worked at hotels such as the Intercontinental in Sydney and the Ritz-Carlton in London, later told us that it’s made the old fashioned way with plenty of wine and not just juice and fizzy drinks.

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Next up was food.

The Executive Chef Hemant Dadlani recently introduced a new gastro-pub menu with the usual pub-style meals such as pies with mash and gravy, and more modern foodie favourites such as slow-cooked ribs, a Wagyu Burger and fresh new salads.

Mirza informed us that most of their clients are office workers who head over for a quick meal or post-work drinks so they have to ensure they can serve people tasty food and great beer in 45 minutes or less.

We started with the Ploughman’s Board- a platter of prosciutto, sopressa salami, aged cheddar, brie, olives, and country bread with artichoke butter.

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Note: this platter is quite a bit larger than the usual Ploughman’s board for one person. 

The Board was delicious and great with the White Wine Sangria.

The bread was crunchy, the butter creamy and flavoursome and the combination of the bread and butter with the brie cheese and mature cheddar was mouth-watering. The salami and meats were delicious – very fresh and slightly spicy and the salty olive mix was great to nibble on with a drink.???????????????????????????????

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Ploughman’s Board

Next up were mains, and being a big seafood lover, I decided to go with the Tempura Prawns with preserved lemon aioli.

The serving was unexpectedly generous and we didn’t end up finishing all the prawns. The dish was presented on a cool wooden board with a special separate spot for the sauce to sit on, and the prawns where served in a metal bucket with “newspaper” lining.

The prawns were also very well cooked, they were large and juicy and had a crunchy, light batter on the outside. The aioli was tangy and very refreshing with the prawns.

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Tempura Prawns, $24.00

We also ordered the Beef Brisket in Ciabatta with Coleslaw, mayo and chips.

The brisket was soft and fell away easily. It had a delicious spicy Mexican-style sauce, tangy mayo and was complimented by a fresh, cooling coleslaw and sourdough bread.

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The fries were battered and crunchy and presented in a mini bucket, again with a newspaper lining. They were delicious and very moreish!

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Beef Brisket in Ciabatta, $20

After eating our fill, I headed inside to watch Kelsey pour out a couple of mini tasting glasses of her favourite beers for us to sample.

While inside I also had a look at the beer tasting map – featuring some of the many beers on offer, and discovered the tray of yummy-looking pretzels.

Kelsey explained that she had lived and worked in Germany for a while so she was a big beer fan and explained that Customs House Bar has a big focus on beers and sometimes runs beer tasting sessions.

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We tried the Founders Beer (British Trading Co), White Rabbit and Sierra Nevada Torpedo (from left to right), which were served on a beer paddle.

Kelsey explained that the darker ones were roasted and so they had a stronger flavour. We noticed that the darker they got, the more they tasted and smelt like coffee due to the roasted beans.

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I think this is one place Wicko would love to try out as he has acquired quite the liking for beers since our visit to Munich!

Recap

Great food, fantastic and fast service- great for the one hour lunch break. A great range of beers and a new crowd-pleasing menu.

7/10

TCFB and TW dined courtesy of CHB and 6dc Publicity.

* * *

Address: 17 Macquarie Place Circular Quay, NSW

Tel: (02) 9259 7317

Website: www.marriott.com.au/hotel-restaurants/sydmc-sydney-harbour-marriott-hotel-at-circular-quay/customs-house-bar/81733/home-page.mi 

Customs House Bar on Urbanspoon

Night Noodle Markets 2014, Hyde Park Sydney

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The Night Noodle Markets ran from 10-26 October 2014 as part of Good Food Month.

The markets were held in the north end of Hyde Park near the fountain and St James Station and featured a number of Sydney’s fave restaurants including Mamak, Jackie M Malaysian, Hoy Pinoy, Wonderbao, The Eight and more.

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The atmosphere is great at the NNM and this spring the place was PACKED out with tourists and locals as well as the city’s workers!

MDS and I visited on a Thursday night and decided to try a few of the popular dishes I had been waiting to savour for a few weeks.

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Wonderbao

We started off with Wonderbao as it is a Melbourne restaurant that you cannot have in Sydney any other time apart from these NNM.

The line was long but we waited for our turn with the others, all the while trying to decide what to get!

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Wonderbao specialises in baos-  Chinese steamed buns with various fillings such as pork and prawn.

On offer were a number of pork, tofu, chicken and vegetarian options as well as a dessert option.

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We thought the buns were very expensive and overpriced given their size, at $5 or $7 each and $12 or $20 for three depending on what types you ordered.

In Melbourne they are usually between $2.20-$4.20 but I guess as you can’t normally get them in Sydney and they had to fly up from Melbourne, it’s probably fair.

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I ordered the braised pork belly and twice cooked pork belly buns and MDS ordered the twice cooked pork belly and chicken bao.

We loved the flavours of the pork and chicken and the soft, fluffy buns. Definitely on par with Din Tai Fung!

ONE tea bar and grill

Next up we queued again for the Rice Burger and Ramen Burger!

There was a combo deal of 2 for $25 so MDS who had not tried the Ramen Burger, ordered that one and I ordered the Rice Burger.

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As usual the Ramen Burger was pretty popular there and we saw heaps of people ordering it!

MDS chose a beef filling and enjoyed it but it was a little too much as we had already had baos and cider by then, so she could not finish it.

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Ramen Burger

I chose the Rice Burger to try something different, and had a filling of teriyaki chicken.

The chicken was well cooked and slightly sweet and I enjoyed the fresh vegetables and the fresh mayo inside the burger. I also loved the side salad with watermelon but would have preferred if it was seedless.

The bun is made of rice and was cooked on both sides so that it sticks together, and topped with seeds.

I enjoyed the rest of the burger but was not a big fan of the rice bun. I thought it was a little too dry and did not hold well together. While the rice was cooked, it tasted raw or uncooked because it was so crunchy!

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Rice Burger

After enjoying our meals we were super full and decided to walk around a bit, taking photos in front of the giant blow up cat and looking at the cool tents and lights around the area.

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Finally, we stopped to try some dutch pancakes with chocolate and caramel.

While the pancakes were great- light and fluffy and tasty- the chocolate sauce was too artificial and sickly sweet. Would have preferred it with a dollop of nutella instead! Nonetheless it was a good way to end a good night!

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* * *

Wonderbao: 

Shop 4/19-37 A’Beckett St, Melbourne VIC

(03) 9654 7887

info@wonderbaokitchen.com.au

http://www.wonderbaokitchen.com.au/

Wonderbao on Urbanspoon

ONE tea bar and grill

73 York Street, Sydney NSW

(02) 9362 7771

http://www.oneteabar.com.au/

One Tea Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Black Star Pastry, Newtown ($)

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Black Star Pastry in Newtown was established in 2008 by Christopher The and the team.

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In my excitement I took a ridiculously blurry photo of the cafe- apologies!

Chris spent most of his career in fine dining restaurants, specialising in desserts and since opening Black Star has won numerous awards and has gained much recognition for his amazing pastry skills.

MC and I visited following a large lunch at Doyle’s and waited in line about 10 minutes to order (trust me, it’s worth it!).

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The line at BSP- MC waiting patiently outside!

When I got to the front of the line I found it hard to make up my mind but one thing was certain- Watermelon Cake was going to be involved.

The famed Watermelon Cake is the star of the show at BSP and almost everyone who ordered something, bought a slice.

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Watermelon Cake, $7.50

The Cake is described on the website as: “Fresh, light, fragrant. This cake has become our signature and is perfect for birthdays, weddings and christenings.   The cake consists of two layers of almond dacquoise, fresh whipped cream, watermelon, Strawberries, Iranian pistachios and rose petals.   It is Gluten free and requires refrigeration.” 

The cake is absolutely exquisite and MC and I were surprised by the combination of sweetness from the strawberries and gelatine, freshness from the slice of watermelon, crunch from the pistachios and lightness from the cream and dacquoise.

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Definitely right up there with one of the best cakes I have ever had!

Apart from the Watermelon Cake, BSP also has quiches, sandwiches, and other pastries and cakes.

I decided to buy a slice of Watermelon Cake and Lemon Myrtle for Mitch’s parents.

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I also bought a Watermelon Cake, Persian Orange Cake and Frangipane Tart for Wicko and my parents.

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I really enjoyed the sweet denseness of the orange cake (something I hope to try to make at home soon), and the almondy taste of the frangipane.

As pistachios and rose are two of my favourite flavours, I loved how much they are used in BSP’s pastries.

Rating

Pros- amazing cakes and beautiful presentation.

Cons- you have to wait in line, small and crowded shop with limited seating (it’s worth it).

9/10

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Address: 277 Australia St, Newtown NSW

Tel: (02) 9557 8656

Website: http://blackstarpastry.com.au/

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