John Smith Cafe, Waterloo, Sydney

I’ve heard so many good things about John Smith, which is located in Waterloo in Sydney and was on my list of cafe’s to visit on my recent trip. My list pretty much consisted of cafes and good breakfast. The place however, is tiny, so get there early or in our case, we went during the weekdays just after the lunch time rush and didn’t have to wait for a booth at all.

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The menu vast which we love and who doesn’t love all day breakfast? We started with cold pressed juices – apple, pineapple and it was refreshingly good. Dragon drank most of it, that we had to order another glass for me!

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My brother really enjoyed their coffee – one of the best he said.

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My sis-in-law, O and I couldn’t go past the eggs Benedict with pulled pork – my goodness, it had my name all over it! The pulled pork was incredibly tender, even Dragon wanted more. The béarnaise sauce was excellent, wasn’t too rich and sickening and perfect with oozy egg! It was the perfect breakfast!

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I was pleasantly surprised when my brother, F, ordered the chicken salad with pesto. I thought he would have ordered a burger but he wanted something healthy and indeed it was surprisingly tasty. Everything was so fresh and we love pesto, so its as a win win for both of us.

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We thought we would share a cronut, and oh my my, it was sinfully good! I have heard wonderful things about Brewtown Newton’s cronut and this definitely did not disappoint!

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The staff was super duper friendly, and food excellent. We did have to wait a bit for our benedict as they ran out of béarnaise sauce but it was definitely worth the wait. I can’t wait to visit John Smith Cafe when I am back next!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

John Smith Cafe

1 John Street

Waterloo, 2017

NSW Sydney

Australia

Ph: +61 422 855 811

John Smith Cafe on Urbanspoon

Zafran, Central, Hong Kong

Zafran is Aqua Group’s latest addition, which is hidden down a little alley off Wyndham Street. I love the modern stylish space, and was pleasantly surprised how large the space is. It was divided into three different segments – bar, dining room and late night lounge. I do love the open bar seating, especially as you can see the chef in action. Zafran is led by Spanish chef Marc Lores and offers diners delicious ‘classic tapas’ and ‘Zafran tapas’

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I was here for lunch with the friend and was surprised at how reasonable it is – choice of 1 starter and 2 plates for HKD108. Between the two of us, we got to try 6 different dishes which were good.

We started with Spanish potato, tuna, carrot, olives ‘ensaladilla’ – it was beautifully plated and too pretty to eat!

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The mixed leaves, Manchego cheese, Serrano ham and cherry tomato were definitely light and refreshing. I love the texture of the cheese, and the Serrano ham was excellent.

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Next came the Iberico Bellota ham croquettes (4pcs). The balls were thin crispy and not oily. It was extremely smooth and absolutely delicious

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I love baked Portobello mushroom, especially stuffed with ham, peppers and Mahon Cheese.

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We definitely couldn’t go past the yellow miso and soy glazed pork rib with oregano and Spanish style potato (HKD28 supplement). This was definitely a winner for both of us! The pork was incredibly tender that it fell off the bone. The yellow miso and soy gave it that nice sweet taste which was just right and not too sickly.

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The Spanish breakfast – panaderas potato, homemade sausage, fried egg and padron pepper (HKD28 supplement) was divine. I would happily eat this for breakfast every morning (not that my hips would thank me!), the soft potatoes, and the oozy yolk and not to mention the delicious homemade sausage.

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We both enjoyed the food very much and I am very keen to try their dinner menu which has more options than the set lunch menu! Service was efficient and food came out relatively quickly.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Zafran

Basement, 43-55 Wyndham Street

Central, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2116 8855

Cecconi’s Italian Restaurant, Soho, Hong Kong

I am always on the hunt for good Italian restaurants as ‘The Mother’ really likes Italian cuisine. We’ve been to 208, Trattoria Doppio Zero- to name a few but have never been to Cecconi’s before which is part of the Dining Concepts Group. Located in Soho on Elgin Street, Cecconi’s served diners ‘traditional italian favourites with modern and delightfully innovative dishes’. The menu is quite vast and everything on the menu sounded wonderful.

We started with some bread which Dragon demolished half of it. We also asked the chef to make her some pasta – just plain tomato based pasta and it was a generous serving. The pasta was al dente, the sauce perfect and no doubt Dragon demolished this! All by herself!

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I started with roasted figs with goat’s cheese, flat pancetta and honey mustard dressing. I love figs and believe it or not have not eaten that many here in Hong Kong! The figs were beautifully cooked, and the goat’s cheese, generous gave it a nice kick – probably too much goat’s cheese for my liking but it was still wonderful.

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‘The Mother’ opt for the spaghetti with crab, garlic, chili, tomato, basil and toasted bread crumbs. He absolutely loved it, so much that he didn’t offer me any and did not say a single word!

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For main, I couldn’t go past the roasted pork loin with braised red cabbage and crispy pork belly. The crispy pork belly was fantastic – crispy skin and tender mouthwatering meat. The roasted pork loin was also incredibly tender and the red cabbage was a wonderful addition.

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‘The Mother’ opt for the peppered duck breast and confit dug leg with sweet potato mash and lime jus. The duck was beautifully cooked and extremely tender. My gripe would be the sweet potato mash and lime jus – I didn’t think it went well with the duck, making it too rich in my humble opinion. ‘The Mother’ enjoyed it which is important.

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Unfortunately we were too full for dessert. I hear the tiramisu is the highlight at this restaurant – shame, as we both love tiramisu! Service was friendly and they were very accommodating with Dragon. The restaurant was a little dark for my liking but the food I thought was pretty good, and would be more than happy to try their other dishes!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Cecconi’s Italian Restaurant

43 Elgin Street

Soho, Central

Ph: +852 2147 5500

The Pig and Pastry, Petersham, Sydney

I have heard wonderful things about The Pig and Pastry which opened sometimes last year by a husband and wife team. I was catching up with a couple of my favourite peeps in Sydney and suggested this place. The Pig and Pastry is located in Petersham, overlooking the Petersham Park and serves diner healthy and deliciously breakfast and lunch.

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We started with some drinks – i love the cute tea set and the small milk bottle

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The house made sodas – from memory, mine was the raspberry and strawberry and it was refreshing and excellent for a hot day!

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‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the bacon and free range egg roll (AUD 9) on soft gap with house made tomato sauce. He has been craving a good back and eggs and this totally hit the spot.

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I opt for the sweet corn fritters (AUD 17.5) served with poached egg (on the side), crispy bacon and avocado salsa. The bacon was a little dry for my liking but the sweet corn fritters was delicious – crunchy on the inside but soft and sweet inside. I especially loved the avocado salsa and not to mention the poached egg!

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E had the poached eggs (AUD17.50) with smoked streaky bacon, roast tomato, field mushroom served on a toasted sourdough and it looked very good! I’d happily eat everything on that plate also!

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Service was polite and friendly. I really wanted some desserts but was feeling extremely full! We arrived at 9.30 am and got a table reasonable easily, as we were leaving at about 11am there were a long queue outside. Really enjoyed my breakfast here, how I have missed cafe food! Would definitely be back in November to try their other dishes, lunch perhaps and some desserts!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

The Pig and Pastry

1 Station Street

Petersham 2049

Ph: +61 2 9568 4644

The Pig & Pastry on Urbanspoon

Zeus Street Greek, Drummoyne, Sydney

Zeus Street Greek is a newish eatery opened in Drummoyne offering diners delicious greek food. The restaurant is casual albeit small but with a very relaxed setting. There’s a no reservation policy so come early if you want to beat the dinner rush. The restaurant was packed when we arrived just after 7pm and after a good 35 minute wait (there were 6 of us) we were finally seated and quickly ordered our food as we were famished.

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The menu is quite simple – souvla pitas, nude pitas, salad, dips and sides and everything sounded delicious. There is also a kids menu which is just as good.

We started with some house-made pita (2) (AUD 3.0) and two serving of tzatziki – greek yogurt, cucumber, roasted garlic and dill (AUD6.5) – my favourite. The tzatziki was fresh, refreshing and incredibly delicious that I wanted to lick the bowl. I love the house-made pita – it was so soft and fluffy that even Dragon couldn’t help but eat half on her own (maybe more)!

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The lightly fried calamari and preserved lemon mayo (AUD12.50) was also a hit. The calamari was lightly coated, giving it a nice crunch and the lemon mayo was a wonderful addition.

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From the souvla – pitas, we ordered the zeus – lamb – signature slow cooked lamb with Aegan slaw, smoked eggplant, onion and parsley. I am not a huge fan of lamb but both my parents really enjoyed it. Generous amount of lamb meat which was tender and the Aegan slaw a wonderful complement.

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The papou niko – char-grilled pork from the souvla with Aegan slaw, caramelised onion, preserved lemon mayo and parsley was a favourite. The pork was tender, and who can say no to caramelised onion and lemon mayo?

Uncle ‘Tzimmy’ classic – choice of lamb, pork, or chicken with tomato, tzatziki, onion, paprika and chips was a hit. My brother, F, ordered the lamb and he absolutely loved it!

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For Dragon, chicken and chips with lemon mayo wrapped in pita. The chicken was tender but she didn’t quite particularly like the lemon mayo. She absolutely loved the chips though.

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We noticed everyone had a serve of the feta and oregano chips (AUD6.50) – this was good. Fries with feta – definitely a winner for everyone.

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Unfortunately we were all very full for dessert but I did like the sound of the greek doughnuts! Service was quick and efficient, it does get busy so come early or later in the evening. Food was delicious and would be more than happy to go back for more of the house-made pita breads. YUM!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Zeus Street Greek

187-189 Lyons Road

Drummoyne 2047

Ph: +61 2 9181 4646

Zeus Street Greek on Urbanspoon

Papi Chulo, Manly, Australia

Sorry for the lack of post! Am finally in Sydney and enjoying the somewhat cooler weather! It’s so good to be back, catching up with family and friends – oh I have missed you all! The cool change is definitely welcoming, not to mention the space and fresh air!

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Papi Chulo is the ‘newish’ establishment by the Merivale empire. It is located in Manly, just over looking the Manly wharf .The space is bright and spacious, and there are both booth seating with high bench tables and stools. I have wanted to try this new place ever since it opened, and rightly so, as soon as we got to Sydney, I had to try. I wanted to try everything on the menu, snacks, smoked bbq, you name it, everything!

We started with the pea guacamole with tortilla chips (AUD14) – the pea guacamole was deliciously smooth, and Dragon couldn’t help but lick her spoon every time I give it to her. The tortilla chips we also adored and it was a wonderful complement.

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We opt for the Papi Chulo BBQ Plater – half rack of lamb ribs, 150gm each of wagyu brisket, pulled pork and pork belly platter served with pickles and soft bread (AUD86). This was definitely a winner for every one!

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My favourite was definitely the wagyu brisket, it was incredibly tender and succulent that I wanted more.

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The pork belly and the pulled pork were also fantastic. Melt in your mouth and I love the flavour of the pulled pork.

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My least favourite was probably the lamb ribs, it had quite a strong lamb taste in my opinion but my fellow dining companion enjoyed it.

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Lastly, we ordered the curly fries, oh my my… crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It was fantastic and i couldn’t help but polished the plate, including Dragon.

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We also had a side of Vietnamese Coleslaw (AUD8) which was refreshing and perfect with the meat fest we were having for lunch.

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Unfortunately, that’s all we had as there were only 3 of us. I really wanted to try the burger and the bone marrow. I guess I just have to go back for more! Service was polite and friendly and food came relatively quickly. If only we lived closer to Manly – I could get my wagyu brisket fix every single week!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Papi Chulo

22-23 Manly Wharf

Manly, 2095

Australia

Ph: +61 2 9240 3000

Papi Chulo on Urbanspoon

The Dining Room, Causeway Bay

There’s really not a shortage of restaurant in Hysan Place. It has taken me a while to try this restaurant, Dragon and I were shopping one Friday night and we decided to give this place a go, ‘The Mother’ joined us afterwards as he too wanted to try this restaurant. Thankfully we were there early and was seated immediately, the queues at this place is ridiculously long! It’s good but not sure if I would wait 30 40 mins to be seated – but then again that’s me, I just don’t like to queue.

The menu is very similar to Din Tai Fung I thought, Shanghainese food – xiao long bao, pan fried dumplings and noodles – and that is exactly what we ordered. We started with a very refreshing drink – for the life of me I can’t remember what it’s called, apple soda with apple vinegar jelly. The most unsettling thing is the ice cube that flashes when in glass!

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We had to order 2 servings of the xiao long bao. Dragon absolutely loved them! Not so much the pork but the skin, she ate 4 of them on her own. The skin I thought was a little thick, I still prefer Din Tai Fung’s which is much thinner.

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The noodles Dragon loved, she pretty much ate half of it. It was cooked just the way she liked it and with it was the fried chicken fillet. Unfortunately the chicken fillet was a little dry and tough.

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The pan fried dumplings we all loved! The outside of the bun was crispy and inside was bursting with juice. Definitely one of my favourites

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We didn’t have any dessert at The Dining Room, I have been craving the Uji Matcha Smoothie from via tokyo and believe me it did not disappoint! Perfect for a hot day, the slushy matcha was just perfect, not too sweet and not too creamy. It certainly went down nicely.

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Service and food at The Dining Room was pretty decent, I quite like the layout and the communal dining table. Food was very similar to Din Tai Fung but ‘The Mother’ and I agreed that we both still prefer Din Tai Fung.

GA’s ratings: 6.5 / 10

The Dining Room

Shop 1201, 12/F, Hysan Place,

500 Hennessy Road,

Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2648 2299

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