Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Ms G's, Potts Point

We decided to have dinner at Ms. G, which I was excited about after hearing wonderful reviews of their starters. Locating the place was funny, as it was confusing which was Darlinghurst Rd & which was Victoria Rd (those coming from Kings Cross St, it's the one with Mercure hotel on it). When we spotted the place, we noted that it looked like strip club with the neon signage and all (parody of the location?). It looked like a funky and youthful place upon stepping in. We arrived early (6?) so it was relatively empty, we were probably the first customers, but it packed very quickly. By 7pm, it was super packed.

One thing that really struck me about the place was the modern rustic decor. It was fresh, interesting and very pretty. We sat on the 3rd floor. The fusion of the ropes, light and the wooden textures on the right is unusually romantic, the grafitti wall art on the left is funky for a friend's reunion and the two seater with the view and some ropes is better for conversation (in my opinion). The ground floor is also a refreshing area to eat, with the breeze directly flowing in. I like the place so far. However, when mr C informed me of the 'edginess' they brought to the restrooms I felt that they are trying to hard to stand out. According to mr C, there are rusty old taps with buckets used as sinks, yet the place is still clean... I'm usually of the opinion that no matter how you want to reinvent the decor, you should leave the restrooms alone. Why would you take the risk of possibly causing people (and hygiene freaks) discomfort when going to the restroom? I don't know, but the sound of a rusty tap turns me off immensely, hence why I didn't want to go there amidst mr c's encouragement. It screams 'What the?' and 'try hard'. No offence, of course. If anything, I would have left it at the interesting signs in the toilet and not done something so drastic. The unique plate collection was a nice touch though.

The menu is cute and interesting. The place gives me the impression that is it out to impress and be unique. Hence, the play on "msg621" and the artistic theme of the restaurant and the friendly staff. Our waitress was cool, laid back and very helpful. My friend really enjoyed the service, and the main reason, I think, is because it created a very casual and light hearted interaction between diners and the restaurant. Now, onto the food. Or drinks.

We ordered Good Morning Vietnam, Iced Green Tea, both without the alcohol, and for the friend who wanted an alcoholic drink,Summer Lovin'. Both the non alcohol drinks were packaged, and the alcohol unpackaged. Me and my friend, H, both oohed and aahed over the cute packaging. However, H looked at the small size of the drink and noted that it seems slightly overpriced for a drink that small for $14. I interject and presuppose that since these are like cocktails, the price would appear reasonable (and in line with many other places). Besides, I think without alcohol it was slightly cheaper (but I cannot be sure, because I only briefly looked at the bill).

The cute packaging!

"Good Morning Vietnam" - $14
Raspberries, lime, palm sugar, Vietnamese mint, soda

I opted for this without the alcohol (shochu) since I thought I would enjoy the fruity taste better. I think that was a good decision, because I found the drink to be too acidic (and not very fruity) even without the alcohol. The taste of raspberry doesn't come across very strong, instead the minty taste takes over. Personally, I didn't really like the drink and ended up swapping for my friend's Iced Green Tea.

Green Iced Tea - $13
Cloud & Mist tea, grapefruit bitters, green apple, mint

I found this to be a more to my taste. It's slightly less acidic, surprisingly a bit sweet (perhaps the green apple?) and the mint flavour actually blend well with the green tea (whereby with the raspberry, it kind of clashed). Also, I loved the green tea aftertaste of this drink. This drink isn't very sweet, but I found that I kept sipping at it because of the lightness of the acidity was balanced well with the green tea.

Summer Lovin' - $20
Tanquery 10,Applejack, St Germaine elderflower liquer, pineapple and ginger foam packaged

I found that this drink, despite the alcohol, retained a sweeter taste. However, that's not to say you can't taste the alcohol. Pleasant drink, with nice incorporation of the pineapple flavour. But not the greatest cocktail I've tasted either.

For starters, we had the mini banh mi, Ms G's grilled corn on the cob. Yep, this was a no brainer! We sat close to the window, and the sun was still up, so there is a slight glare in the photos.

I found that the crispy pork belly had a really delicious, creamy pate (which I want more of!). The buns of the mini banh mi were softer than the traditional banh mi, lightly sprinkled with flour. It was delightful!

However, I liked the chicken katsu mini banh me more. The chicken was crispy, and the sauce slightly spicier and tangier. It kind of reminded me of a mini KFC burger more than the Vietnamese banh mi. Texturally, this was also more interesting than the pork belly banh mi.

I think the success of the mini banh mi, is their cute size. Looking at the components, there isn't a great variation from that to a normal banh mi apart from the pork belly and the chicken katsu (and the spicy sauce). But due to the smaller size, you have all these textures and flavours in one bite (like sushi!) and it leaves you wanting more. With the Vietnamese pork roll, perhaps the size of it, for me, is harder to finish and is meant to leave you full. Both are very good in my opinion (I'm digressing), and I feel that appreciation of either one, leads to better appreciation of the other.

I was greatly anticipating the grilled corn, and it did not disappoint at all. I loved it.

The combination of the butter, spicy sauce, parmesan and coriander were perfect. I had mine without the lime but it was simply perfect regardless! The corn itself wasn't very sweet, but the spicy sauce really reinvented corn on the cob for me! I've never had corn like that, but it is such a great combination. The grated parmesan flakes was so yummy as well, perfect with the coriander. I kept rolling my corn in more parmesan. Man, writing about this makes me want to re-eat the corn. I wonder if they do takeaway....

For entree, we had the raw sea scallop, kohlrabi, guacamole, finger lime ($16). mr C really liked this. I liked it too (I'm a scallop fan!). There is a great amount of herbs which is a Vietnamese thing apparently (says mr C) and maybe this is why I'm such a fan of this dish too. The herbs and the guacamole goes really well with the sea scallop, and the crunch (not sure if its fried shallots of fried kohlrabi) provides a nice texture to the mix. My only wish was if the sea scallop was medium rare, because the raw scallop became too slimy once I had a bit too much. Whereas cooked scallop is sweeter in taste yet the tenderness of the scallop is revealed once bitten into. However, I'm no chef so nothing much I can do there.

Our second entree, prawn toast, yuzu aoili, herbs ($14) is quite an interesting dish. It was served hot, so once I took a bite of it, steam came out. It was very nice, since I like my food hot. Once again, a lot of herbs and also some mayonnaise dressing. Admittedly, the dish was pleasant - hot, crunchy on the outside, yet softer on the inside, but it lacked something 'special'. In the end, I didn't even bother fighting for the last piece (but I think my company did enjoy the meal more than I did). It's probably something to do with the prawns (because I love my seafood, prawns included)

Onto our mains, the first that arrived was the Vietnamese curry...

Personally, as a Vietnamese myself, I didn't think the curry was spicy enough to be considered Vietnamese curry. Flavour wise, it did resemble the home made curries I've had (minus the hot spiciness). This is probably because as mr C notes, that the area and restaurant is more geared towards western diners, who probably can't handle as much spice (I'm generalising of course). I look around and do note that we were the only Asians on the level. Apart from that, baguette was crisp, enjoyable. However, mr C commented that there was nothing remarkable about the dish and I felt the same way. Another thing we agreed on was that the dish was quite a waste of wagyu beef. Whilst it was tender and fell apart easily, the fattiness of wagyu beef is nowhere to be found. And so, it reminded me of so many other beautiful wagyu dishes I've had ... and I don't think this is a desired effect of the chefs!

Jow's sweet & sour lamb ribs ($23) were next up. I myself am not a fan of lamb to be frank, but mr C loved it and raved on and on about it. I liked the marinade, and the herbs. The lamb was well cooked. mr c and I come to the conclusion that the lamb was probably braised first, then deep fried, leaving an extra crunch to it (another big hint seems to be the fall-apartness of the white bones.) And that is about all I can rave because I don't enjoy the taste of lamb personally. I do think that lamb lovers would love the dish though.

Snow crab meat, dashi custard, broccoli, vegetable nage($24).

I really liked this dish, probably my favourite main. The crab (I love my seafood!) was sweet and delicious, whereby the custard was soft - almost tofu-like - and had an egg-y taste (which mr C says is a good thing, shows they made is with real egg). The dashi taste is very light though, but does add an interesting element to the custard. The broccoli is also very yum retaining the natural taste of broccoli but you can also taste the broth slightly penetrated the broccoli. I love the broccoli, and it added a nice crunch to the dish. Broccoli is also good for you. Broccoli!

Now, desserts! Also another course I really anticipated. Albeit, I was slightly disappointed. We had the 'Stoner's Delight 2.0', Pandan chiffon cake and Blood orange ice cream & granita, crushed Oreos and marscapone mousse. In hindsight, the "Breakfast" dessert sounds appealing.

The Stoner's Delight 2.0, is ... wacky. Actually to be completely honest, it was my least favourite. The 'doughnut' aka cinnamon ice cream is lovely: creamy, not overwhelmingly sweet. The banana fritter was also very delightful, I really liked that. Apart from that, the mars bar slice did not look too sweet, but ended up being overwhelmingly chocolatey which made chewing it to be rather icky. The candied bacon is interesting. I guess you either like it or you don't. And most of us didn't. Well, most = all. I didn't really mind it, but it wasn't something that commanded me to gobble it all up. It reminded me of beef jerky, texture wise, slightly chewy and harder. The potato chips added crunch, but flavour-wise, wasn't compelling to me.

The pandan chiffon cake was pleasant, the components were appropriate. However, it wasn't outstanding. My first scoop was of the coconut sorbet which was divine though. It perfectly captures the taste of coconut and chilled perfectly. I want more coconut sorbet. The pandan was a bit dense, and not spongey enough in my opinion. The sago and diced strawberries were also nice, but I did wish for something a tad more interesting.

Lastly, the blood orange ice cream & granita with crushed Oreos... H and mr C really liked this... I'm a fan of granita and fruity desserts, and the blood orange is refreshing. However, the crushed Oreos felt out of place. I felt there are many other crunchy foods which can lend the same texture. The ice cream wasn't too rich, and blended well with the marscapone. However, I do feel that with both the granita and ice cream being blood orange flavour.. it was too much. I guess, I would have preferred the ice cream a lighter vanilla or another fruity flavour to balance it out a bit more.

The open kitchen, which they kindly let us photograph after we asked. Dan Hong is quite a cutie, expression-wise, in the kitchen.

Drinking in the kitchen? Who said chefs aren't interesting?

The verdict? A nice place to chill, with pleasant food. The fact that they are better known for their starters is telling, as their mains and desserts leave for a lot more to be desired.

155 Victoria St, Potts Point (20) 8313 1000

View Larger Map

Ms G's on Urbanspoon

Monday, 19 December 2011

Encasa, Central

My uni friends and I were meaning to have a Spanish excursion for some time (since we, as Spanish beginner students are in a craze about Latinos and their fancy r's). After scheduling and re-scheduling, we finally decided to have lunch at Encasa. Encasa, a down-to-earth Spanish restaurant with awesome value and good food. Encasa is great for intimate dinners (though it can get a bit noisy) but excellent for group outings because you get to try a variety of tapas. There were three of us - costed $80 all up (yes we pigged out this time!), but usually you should be full at $15 each.

The Chorizo a la plancha is a Spanish sausage (with many varieties), famous for its either sweet or spicy flavour. It has a nice smoky flavour as it is grilled (a la plancha translates to grilled in Spanish). The smokiness is what makes it a popular tapas choice ('cos anything smoky makes you salivate). It was 'nice', so my friend A says, though I couldn't try this, since me, being a pesco-vege. Unfortunately, this is where my post falls short.

For me, I enjoyed the Patatas Bravas the most, just as much as my carnivore friends did. These fried cubed potato things come out piping hot, drizzled with some divine aoli and some spicy red sauce which seriously make an addictive combination. How can potatoes, once known as peasant food, become so tasty! Every time I eat this, I just simply ponder about how good it is. Okay, I can rave on and on about these lovely potatoes, but I shan't spoil your first experience too much.

I really looked forward to the Pulpo a la plancha (grilled octopus), since it's grilled! I watch
ed as the indescribably appetising plate of octopus arrived at our table - adorned with some good ol' charred bits full of that smoky flavour. The grilled legs curled up, calling for our salivating tongues (at least in my imagination!). Paired with some face-scrunching lemon, the octopus tingled in my tongue with delight. But don't get too excited! I can see you wetting the keyboard already ;). Well, flavour was great, but texture? I'd question that. Chewy and definitely on the tough side, I was met with disapointment when I started to look crude chewing with patience on the right side of my mouth (my right). This was my first time having this, so I can't confirm that it's the common case.

Pernod, prounounced pair-no, a French white wine with a very distinct flavour, sometimes it could resemble a liquorice flavour, just a little bit. Now when I say little I mean little, so for all liquorice haters (don't worry I am one too), this is something that wouldn't be of concern to you at all!
Pernod pasta is definitely a must-try at Encasa. This is perhaps my favourite pasta, ever. Its distinct cream sauce that comes for the Pernod wine, completely surprises the palate with a sophisticated combination of King prawns and sundried tomatoes. What makes it even more lovely, is that this unique flavour lingers with you. The penne was al dente; I don't like soft mushy pasta very much. Although I love this as much as I love my water, this dish may require some open-mindedness. Hopefully after a few brave attempts, you'd be forking away. But really, if you're a true food lover, you should be digging away after your first bite.

Lastly, we ordered a Cuatro Quesos (four cheeses) gourmet pizza. Smelly but deadly. This pizza consists of blue cheese, mozzarella, goat's cheese and parmesan. The base was nice and crunchy with a good soft thickness to it (but nothing beats Criniti's base!). This is definitely a must-try for all queso lovers. The pizza here is great to order because it's easy share and they offer a wide range of toppings, even half 'n' half.

Possibly also my favourite alcoholic drink, Sangria is a Spanish fruit punch made by combining with red wine with a variety of fruits like apples and oranges. The balance of wine and fruit is definitely to my taste, with a good wine tartness lingering on your palate after a sip. I think anyone, even those who don't like the taste of alcohol, would find this surprisingly nice.

Encasa is one of my favourite restaurants but it can get pretty packed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Its best to book 2 weeks in advance for dinner. For lunch, you should be able to grab a seat if you just pop in, though it still does get packed at lunch time depending on the day.

View Larger Map
Encasa on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Adriano Zumbos Patisserie, Manly (and very briefly, Sushi Manly)

Note: this has been in my drafts since before Christmas. True apologies!

The smallest business sign out? Leading to cavity inducing sweetness!

Wooh first post! Long overdue, but better late than never (that seems to capture my philosophy of time rather accurately!) Anyways, moving on. So, a weekend away (I lie, what I mean is 2 weekdays, but same thing when you're on uni break) means I ventured out of my nest a little (truly minimal). So, where else to head to but Zumbos patisserie (read: take cute desserts to eat at HOME, yay!) and then cravings for sushi struck. So me and J left our little acquisitions with the lovely store assistant, went to eat, then came back to collect our desserts. Anyways, onto pictures and so forth.

Oh right. Let me just say, to combine someone who isn't good with directions, who has a tendency to want to shop whenever shops are around, and a small tucked away patisserie meant that my head was literally spinning in every direction trying to locate this place. There was a bit of added stress having to assure my friend that "I swear, there is a patisserie here... somewhere..." without really believing it myself. But thanks to lovely locals, we spotted the place (cue "Oh my gosh that's so hidden!" here). By the way, it's kind of opposite the Manly wharf, on a 'vertical' road.. opposite this businessy and private office building. Disclaimer: my directions are only to be used as a last resort, as I truly have the worst sense of direction. No joke.

Yes, the entrance is also very understated. It can hardly be considered a door!

Entering the store, I was like rather surprised. Compared to the website (geek I am), the interiors were much duller, much smaller, rather empty. However, I was intrigued by the wall art, as it perfectly encapsulates Adriano's reputation as the Willy Wonka of pastries and the like.

Quirky, vibrant, abstract.

By the time we arrived (thanks to a hell lot of procrastinating, movie watching and video game playing) at 6, a lot of goodies were gone (the v8!). That's not to say we didn't overindulge as it was already. More about that to come. We stood in awe for a bit, wanting a bit of everything, then discussing what to buy for the boys and then working out what my friend could devour (she's allergic to nuts). Here are some of Zumbo's delectable desserts:

The tarte aux fruits de la passion & grandma's soap... Zumbo has a thing for unique names.

The logs: lemon meringue and pecanne.

What I nicknamed the Deadly Duo: one is hot (as in spicy) chocolate and the other has green chilli in it! We daren't take that risk!

Eventually, these were our picks:

Grandma's soap, Snowmanorr, NYC

Colourful "Zumbarons": Sweet corn with a hint of mango, Plum pudding,
Watermelon & orange, Cola, Lychee & Lime & mint mojito

Pain au chocolat (far left)

Chocolate snowmen (it had a much awesomer name, which I forgot)

Needless to say, they're all very neatly presented. The only ones I managed to taste though were:

Grandma's soap - $9
This was rather ... interesting? It was just sweet enough, and very light. However, faithful to its name, it did have a soapy taste (perhaps due to the lavendar, my guess). The layer of almond creme was perfect though - creamy, not overly sweet and not too smooth either. Can't say much about the blueberry, except that it made me crave blueberries, a whole punnet please.

Pain au chocolat - $3.50

A very standard pastry, yet undeniably delicious. Pastry was crunchy on the outside, and chewy enough on the inside, with bits of chocolate. I can't fault it because I love my pain au chocolat because it combines pastry with tidbits (not too much) of chocolateeeee!

Macarons - $2.50 each

Actually, we bought these for the boys and I (there are almond bits in all macarons and J is allergic, the poor girl). Luckily, by the time we had desserts the boys were too immersed in a life and death game of Monopoly (their words, not mine) and were uninterested in desserts. Their loss I tell you. So yes, I had all these to myself as a matter of fact.


My sister didn't really fancy this when she had a bite but I thought it was alright. Admittedly there was barely any 'distinct flavour' in this, which was what I was looking forward to (the idea of capturing the awesome flavour of cola which is so heavily reliant on its 'texture' in a macaron). So there was a bit of disappointment on my part.

Lime & mint mojito:

Me and my friend literally squealed when we saw this. And no it's not because we're alcoholics - not even close (neither of us really drink). But because it was such a pretty green and sounds quirky enough, but also safe enough. It was really good. Perfect to take a big bite from, or to nibble from too. Suits me perfectly (I alternate from the two when I'm snacking).

Sweet corn with a hint of mango:

Didn't taste the 'hint of mango' to be honest. But the sweet corn was an interesting taste actually. I'm not a fan of sweet corn flavours in general (I like the real thing too much). But I found this quite pleasant anyhow. I think it's really hard for me to fault 'Zumbarons' because they're so texturally and experimentally intricate that even if the thought of the flavours are seemingly weird, but when blended together in a macaron, the textures balance out the oddity of the flavours. Just a thought/rambling.

Plum pudding:

This was described to us as a Christmas special, so I couldn't pass that up. It was nice between my lips, but in hindsight, definitely not a memorable combination to be frank. My guess is that amongst all Zumbo's seemingly crazy, erratic and experimental flavours, this one paled in comparison. However, that might be a blessing in disguise for those who want to steer clear of the 'weirder' flavours (don't worry, I didn't want to have a Hot Chocolate Zumbaron myself).

Watermelon & orange:

This was yummy. Crunchy and sweet. I liked it.


I left the best till last. My favourite Zumbaron. Light, fruity, sweet and perfectly crunchy. So so yum, I kind of want more just thinking about it.

Chocolate snowmen:

Oh my god. The chocolate was so deliciously rich and I just wanted to keep eating it but it eventually ran out. But damn, that was some fine chocolate. It was darker than I usually enjoy but that kind of thing is secondary to it's overall texture and taste. And the crunch of the shell.

Sushi Manly:

Contrary to the title, our stay there wasn't brief. But this post will be, because I only snapped one photo haha. The rest I forgot (even though the camera was in my lap) because I dug in immediately. However, I enjoyed the food.

As an avid fan of my salmon, me and my friend pay careful attention to the quality and freshness of the salmon. Luckily for us, our salmon was fresh and tasted flawless.

Sushi train - raw salmon roll? (I honestly forget the name of this, I just gobble it all up)

Apart from that, I also had my staple california roll (delightful), tried cuttlefish - which was interesting... reminded me of squid but much chewier and less flavoursome. As I've never tried cuttlefish before, I don't have a standard to set it against, except I personally enjoyed it a lot. Funnily, when I picked it up, I mistakenly thought it was scallop. I also had salmon and avocado which was also very yum, avocado was soft and creamy and salmon was wonderful. The main flaw about the place is the soy sauce. As a lover of sushi, I cannot iterate how important soy sauce is. It can't be too salty because that takes so much away from the freshness and natural flavour of the seafood and overpowers the slight sweetness of the rice vinegar in the rice. Also, soy sauce shouldn't be too heavy because of the natural textures of the fish (saying this with raw salmon in mind). Thus, I love my soy sauce slightly sweet. Sorry about the rambling, but I love my sushi and the art of sushi (too much free time spent researching and watching documentaries on this). Just a side note, if you want to determine whether ingredients are fresh, be mindful of what drinks you have. Some places will recommend teas to go with it, others might suggest sakes. Water is good too. This is truly if you want to determine whether the place actually serves wonderful sushi. That being said, if you're out for a good time, drink what you please! My friend had the miso soup, which she wasn't very impressed with.

Shop 1a/40 The East Esplanade
Manly, NSW 2095

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday
7:00am till 7:00pm

Saturday & Sunday
8:00am till 5:30pm

Adriano Zumbo on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 17 December 2011

My Favourite 25 Eats of 2011

It went from a top 10 list till I realised I couldn't contain all my favourite eats within 10 dishes so it changed to a top 15 and now to a top 25. Unusually indecisive of me. They're slightly more biased towards the Surry Hills cause that's where you'll find me during uni lunch breaks. There's a treasure trove of good food down there, from hole in the wall cafes, fine diners, bistros, produce markets, you name it, anything foodie and it's there. I only started blogging mid October this year so forgive me if pictures are a little lacking. A kind thank you to all those who contributed to these pictures, Meimei, S, M, L, H, J and A and all those who put up with my crazy shenanigans, it's been a wonderful year.

1 Pumpkin Custard - Bentley, Darlinghurst
At Bentley, you should always be prepared for something wacky. That's exactly what you get but the more down to earth dishes are still winners. The pumpkin wasn't quite the custard you're expecting, more like a puree and melds beautifully with the cheese, crackle and the little trail of assorted nuts, a very earthy, textural and a delicious entree. Nice one.

2 Taiwanese Beef Noodle - Raramen, Box Hill
I can not begin any top eat list without some form of beef noodle. It is impossible. I'm asian. And this year for me I've been converted into Taiwanese beef noodle. As much of a requirement it is for my somewhat confusing Vietnamese full-bloodedness to allow Pho to reign this year, I would, with difficultly, spend my last 10 dollars on this glorious bowl of beef noodle. But boy would it be a good bowl. Fall-apart, tender and fatty hunks of beef brisket sit in a wonderfully aromatic simmered broth with one of the best hand pulled noodles (ramen) you'll ever find. Plus the place has a FREE self serve red bean soup in a bain marie and 2 flavoured FREE slushie dispenser making this a must for those on a budget. Pretty coooool.

3 Gaytime Goes Nuts - Universal, Paddington

One of the yummiest desserts I've had this year. You can't be a dessert freak and not have tried one of Christine Manfield's masterpieces there. Caramel parfait, honeycombe ice cream and chocolate and hazelnut ice cream are housed in a brittle honeycomb wafer cylinder. Truly spectacular.

4 Rum Soaked Banana Tart with Peanut Brittle- Plan B, CBD
It saddens me to think I won't have my hole in the wall cafe to go to anymore during uni after the entire Becasse business relocated to Pitt st mall. And with it went Plan B. But the memories will stay. Okay so you used to get a brilliant wagyu burger for $10 as opposed to the $18 one they serve at Charlie Co, but I would always go to Plan B for their Tart. A short crusted base houses a beautiful custard hiding a little surprise of rum infused banana finished off with a sweet and salty peanut brittle. Heaven in sweet form.

5 Marron On a Rock - Vue de Monde, Melbourne CBD

It's hard to say but I think this dish could quite possibly be up there in terms of my favourite dish of all time. It definitely made me discover what my favourite meat was- marron. A sweet tail of marron is perfectly shelled, cooked in butter and parsley with a brown butter emulsion and a mini sandwich of mudcrab mixture between two crisps all served on top of a giant black pebble. That's right. A pebble. So simple yet remarkably amazing.

6 Garlic Sauce and Tabbouli- El Jannah, Parramatta
When in need for a cheap eat, this place always hits the spot. The garlic sauce there is the stuff of dreams, and cut it through with an acidic spike of tabbouli salad. I would put the charcoal chicken on there, but it always just seems to be a little dry.

7 Lamb Kebab - Ali Baba, Liverpool
Alright I know this might not seemingly be anything gourmet. I don't care. There's always room for fast food. So good it makes me forget about the 2 hour tennis session I had earlier.

8 Fish Fingers - Bodega Tapas Bar, Surry Hills
One of the usuals that I always have there. Sitting on top of the bar stools while your watching them prepare it is even better. Seeing the whole fish expertly taken apart and all. Perfect amount of raw onion and mojama (dry fish floss) cover freshly sliced kingfish sashimi and a wonderfully acidic cuttlefish ceviche sit on top of a smoky, garlicy and charred slightly charcoaley sourdough. I know what you're thinking, raw onion, I know, I know. But trust me, it really works. It's such a clever dish. One of the best bites I've had ever.

9 Mum's Wok tossed Mudcrab- Home
Honestly, crab anywhere is good, but nothing beats homemade, freshly bought live mud crab. I love it and favourite eats are always subjective. You get in there with your hands and all, pulling apart meat drenched in aromatic ginger and spring onion sauce. And it doesn't get any better when your mum makes it. Happy days.

10 A Trip to Tokyo - Quay, Circular Quay
A near perfectly executed dish, it reminds me of the trip to Tokyo I never went on. Sad.

11 Lemon Sugarlips - Adriano Zumbo, Balmain
What do bacon and schezuan pepper and popcorn and fish and chip and hamburger and toothpaste and tabacco all have in common? You may think i'm fishing for possible Berty Bott's every flavour beans combinations but no. They're all macaron flavours by the wacky Zumbo of course! Take your pick but me? I like to stay grounded on this earth. Give me this- their deep-fried bread with a coating of cinnamon sugar and a lusciously thick lemon creme patissiere inside from the pastry genius and i'm happy. Need I say more?

12 Crispy Chicken with Dry Egg Noodle- Tan Viet, Cabramatta
Every Vietnamese restaurant has their own crispy chicken but these are my favourite. You get a super moist chicken maryland cut up with shards of gloriously crisp skin and a side of egg noodles drenched in their secret sauce. So good, most of cabramatta would agree with me, you'll rarely find this place without some sort of line forming outside.

13 Pacific Oysters- De Costi Seafoods, Pyrmont
You sit down beach side (okay that's not exactly fish market, but you can always dream) with a dozen of these, a little lemon and pepper on the side and you're on your way to happiness.

14 Homestyle Biodynamic fried eggs - Billy Kwong, Surry Hills
Alrite I know what your thinking, just fried eggs. And honestly to me, biodynamic eggs taste all the same, it just makes me feel heathier and better about animal rights. But there is something incredibly mind-numbing about the super crisp bottom and slightly underdone top, dressed with house made XO that has me maddeningly scrambling to perfect the scrambling recipe. To no avail.

15 Mushrooms in Garlic- Bodega tapas bar, Surry Hills
I think it's starting to be evident i'm a bit biased towards this place but I just love it. Brilliant, honest food with no pretense. Pan fried assorment of different mushrooms teamed up with nutty, soft garlic cloves result in a fabulous dish and a deeply flavoured oil that you can just mop up with the Sonoma bread they give you.
One of the best eats you can possibly have at a good price. And yes, that's a kitchen at the picture backdrop, an open kitchen for you to sit and watch them prepare your food. It doesn't get any better than that.

16 Macarons - Lindt, Darling Harbour
I've been to a few places for macarons. Adriano's used to be my favourite, but the flavours started getting a little too wacky, sizes started to shrink, prices started to increase, so long story short, it's just not as good as a couple of years back. Lindt's are just so consistently good, perfect feet, crispy shell, chewy inside, creamy fillings and it doesn't seem to have hit the GFC so far. My favourites are vanilla bean and salted butter caramel.

17 Crispy Chicken - Mother chu's Taiwanese Gourmet, Chinatown
Crispy chicken winner was a tough toss up between this one and the one at Din Tai Fung. Whereas this one may not be as crispy or juicy as the one at Din Tai Fung, undeniably there is an unbeatable appeal of pan fried spring onions, garlic and chilli that Din Tai Fung doesn't have making this a real winner and favourite.

18 Chocolate Forest- Sepia, CBD
A really tough toss up between their specialty of seasonal weiss barr and chocolate forests, my friend and me are still in debate over which one is better, but my natural predilection to heavier things makes me like this one more. It is a sight to behold, I really felt like I was exploring a forest with my tastes, with the dark chocolate twigs, soil, moss, sugar crystalised fronds, different types of chocolate rocks, jellies and a chocolate mousse undersoil makes it a very delicious adventure indeed.

19 BTS (Better than Sex)- House, Surry Hills
From the bamboo shoot salad there, to my favourite calamari salad with enough chilli to render you unconscious, this place is really good but there's one dessert that will have me coming back and back again. A thick buttery slab of brioche toast, creamy panda ice cream with an oh so sweet palm sugar sauce. A stairway to obesity and happiness at the same time.

20 Truffle Butter- Tetsuya's, CBD
Odd having just butter on my top 25 list, I always look forward to bread and butter every time I'm eating out, but this butter has me thinking about it on a constant basis which is a bit weird admittedly. Airy whipped butter, the distinctive ricotta and Parmesan flavour mixed through, with a teesy bit of truffle to add a touch of luxury, I remain adamant this is the best butter you'll have. I went through 3 tubs by myself the last time I went there. Be warned, this stuff is addictive. 10 K run, here I come.

21 Fried spiced calamari with aioli- Bodega, Surry Hills
Bodega again. A serving of their calamari is always a must when coming here, perfectly cooked, crispy, served with a home- made, thick, generous serving of home-made aioli. But what really lifts this dish beyond all other fried calamari is simple; an extra spike of paprika to finish it off. It arrives at your table but you can already smell it metres away, the paprika exudes an intoxicating perfume and it gives the dish such a jaw dropping Mediterranean flavour. Little does go a long way.

22 Wagyu Burger- Rockpool Bar and Grill, CBD
This is how all burgers should be made. A thick, coarse grind, grade 9+ wagyu patty is cooked medium with zuni pickle, Gruyere, house made tomato sauce slapped together with toasted brioche. It's the sort of burger that you just close your eyes to, all the flavours melting together in one bite and nothing else matters but the burger in front of you. This is no-nonsense food, my kind of food.

23 Mandarin Dessert- Quay, Circular Quay

I'll let the picture speak for itself.

24 Braised Wagyu Shin with Potato Puree- Foveaux, Surry Hills
When you boil it down, it's essentially just beef, jus and mash. It seems like the surefire lazy way of a restaurant pulling out something delicious, simple yet unimaginative. I couldn't careless. The wagyu's robust and hearty in flavour, incredible well marbled and just melting. Best slow cooked protein i've had this year. Screw the intellectual component, at prices like these, I just want really good food. 

25 Polenta A La Tabla- Porteno, Surry Hills
Forget the possible heart attack that might result after finishing this, or wanting mash instead, or some diet you're not going to adhere to half a year later. All that matters is that if you somehow have this placed in front of you, you'd better devour it quick, cause if not... I will. Polenta is the new mash, and better. It's slightly runnier and lends itself to being infused to cheeses better. Give it a spritz of good oil and a bit of herbage and what results is an awesome side dish.


Readers, this space is for you. What is your favourite eat this year? Drop a comment, I'd love to hear.

Oh, my trousers just split, I'm so excited
Jamie Oliver

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Holy Basil, Canley Heights

A frequented place by locals like me, Holy Basil boasts value, atmosphere and good Thai food. This place is quite the popular blonde chick, so popular that they've opened another chain in Shark Hotel in the CBD. The Holy Basil in Canley Heights is always extremely packed, you'd still see a long line of people waiting at 9pm for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. Unfortunately, no bookings, but apparently my friend C, claims that she's booked this place before...either the worker on the phone was new, or she was un poco loco. So, two Fridays ago, we celebrated J's birthday here before she left to Brissy for some damn fine work experience at Rio Tinto...I know Rio Tinto...that girl is also un poco loco. We had a group of 20, and all was good when some of our trusty friends arrived at 5-ish to hold a table for us.

Some boys started off with chicken skewers. I didn't eat this but I'm sure the photo is doing all the talking right now, hopefully.

Many of us opted for the Salt and Pepper Calamari, which had a very nice crisp and crunchy batter, though I would have preferred if the coat was thinner and lighter.

This Pad Kee Mao is made up of thick rice noodles with chilli sauce and veges (or whatever you order it with). Honestly, there was an overload of chilli sauce, especially since the sauce tasted like it was mixed with the artificial tasting ones in the bottles. Definitely have had better. I didn't catch what others were eating but from experience, I do dare say the curries are quite delish.

Now, the notorious deep-fried ice-cream was certainly perhaps (excuse the oxymoron) the best of the night. Unlike the normal scooped icecream rolled in cake crumbs, frozen, then deep-fried, this triangular heaven is, I believe, wrapped in filo pastry, and when deep-fried, produces a very nice thin and crunchy coat. It's paired with toasted coconut and caramel sauce making it just divine to indulge in. But really, I am sincerely impressed at the quality and dense texture of the icecream after deep-frying. I would LOVE to learn how to make this.

This was J's (you can probably guess her name by now) Cookies & Cream ice-cream cake that some girls bought from Wendy's. Very yummy! Though, complaining AGAIN, I do like my icecream as creamy as it was, but just more hard and dense. But that's just me.

We ordered some fruit shakes to get some sugary goodness inside our systems. This is the strawberry shake but watermelon shake is my fav. I'd be sipping on these all day if I had a blender that could handle ice (yep, my blades broke when I tried to blend ice).

Despite the usual long lines, try to hop in early for a short wait as Holy Basil is definitely worth trying.
Holy Basil on Urbanspoon

No, we aren't the most amazing gastronomes or chefs. Heck, half our team doesn't even know how to cook... well. However, what we really love is eating. And lots of it. We enjoy that occasional freebie, filling up that craving for a midnight snack and finding a 20 in our pockets that we thought we never had, and using that as an excuse to go out eating. As we battle the ongoing war on uni student poverty, we'll bring you the most swoon worthy recounts of our latest foodie adventures.