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Archive for July, 2011

Kaki Lima, Kensington

Ever since I went to the Malaysian Kitchen private dinner I have wanted to try Kaki Lima – to eat their roti canai once again.

Kaki Lima restaurant can be found on Anzac Parade in Kensington. It is a rather odd place as it is not exactly the ‘best’ location for restaurants. Unless you catch the bus or walk pass this part of Kensington, one would not notice this place – well I certainly didn’t!

I was catching up with uncle and his lovely wife, L. She loves roti so was very keen to try this place. Whilst perusing the menu, we thought we would order a ‘snack’. The roti was served with sugar, which I thought was a little weird as I have never had roti with sugar. I have only seen it served with curry or as it is, and I definitely like it plain.


The roti was as good as I remembered it to be. Deliciously flakey, fluffy, thick! DELICIOUS!


Started with kueh teow goring – fried thick noodles in thick soya sauce with beef ($10). Loved the wok aroma, the noodles thick and soft and I love the thick soya sauce.


The vegetable karipap (curry puffs) ($6 for 3) was nicer than I remembered it to be. The pastry flaky and a little crunchy, and the vegetable curry delightful.


The asam pedas fish with okra cooked in spicy tamarind sauce ($19) was a favourite amongst the diners. The fish I thought was a little dry but the tamarind sauce I loved!


I have never heard of ayam kuzi ($13) until that evening. Chicken Kuzi, a dish originating from the state of Kelantan. Thick gravy-like with coconut and served with sultanas – a bit weird I thought, very coconut-y, creamy and thick. The chicken incredibly tender and succulent, but I am not convinced about the kuzi sauce.


For dessert, we couldn’t help but order two things (getting full by this stage). Had the coconut pandan cake like – it was dense and absolutely delicious. Served warm, the pulut inti – glutinous rice with coconut topping and palm sugar was wonderful. L definitely enjoyed it, I think she loves anything with palm sugar! It was sweet and excellent.

The service and decor simple and friendly. Definitely worth returning considering how busy Mamak is, especially for the roti canai and kuih.

GA’s rating: 7 / 10

Kaki Lima

230 Anzac Parade

Kensington 2033

Ph: +61 2 9662 6868

Kaki Lima Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Sonoma Bakery, Waterloo

Sonoma bread really requires no introduction to bread lovers in Sydney. Most restaurants, cafes, will get their bread from Sonoma and most delis and even grocery stores will stock Sonoma bread.


Sonoma has opened several cafes across Sydney, Waterloo, Glebe, Bondi, Paddington and of course their large commercial bakery in Alexandria. I was catching up with the gorgeous B and she suggested this place. We both love bread so this was the perfect reason to go!

There’s no shortage of cafes in Waterloo and Sonoma Bakery Cafe can be found on the main strip of Danks Street. It is a very small cafe, brightly lit and serves breakfast and lunch and sells bread for bread lovers like us!

The skim cappuccino is excellent deliciously strong and aromatic.


Strong black coffee with a dash of milk on the side for the lovely B.

B had the muesli – half honey spiced hand roasted and half soaked sonama muesli ($9), topped with yogurt and rhubarb. I love the combination of crunchy and soaked muesli – and the rhubarb, excellent.


I couldn’t go past the turkish eggs ($12) – sourdough with eggs, dukkah feta, olives, mint and lemon.


WOW! Toasted sourdough topped with medium cooked eggs, nuts, seeds, feta and olives. It was oh so delicious – would it be bad to have this every day?


Great little spot, it can be uber busy around breakfast and lunch time. They have pre-made sandwiches and soup for diners who can’t dine in. Service is minimal, you order at the counter, pay, take a number and food will be delivered.

No doubt I got a couple of loaves of bread and as always great catching up with you gorgeous B! Hope you all have an awesome weekend!

GA’s rating: 7 / 10

Sonoma Bakery Cafe

2 / 9 Danks Street

Waterloo 2017

Ph: +61 2 9699 1920

Sonoma Bakery Café on Urbanspoon

Winter comfort food, lamb shanks in red wine served with roast potatoes and beans

Lamb is not something I enjoy eating. Most of the time I would avoid it like plague but the past couple of months I have tried a few different types of lamb dishes and surprisingly enjoyed it. First at Cafe Ish, the lamb cutlets with panko crumbs (delicious!), then lamb shanks at Clover (melt in your mouth, post to come) and lastly the lamb at the [TOYS] event which tasted like a chicken (the best lamb I have tasted!).


The thing I don’t like about lamb is the strong after taste and the smell, however, if it’s simmered in wine or it comes with some sort of gravy or coated with crumbs I don’t mind. As long as the smell is not there, I think I can ‘handle’ it. Believe it or not I have never ever made lamb before so this was a first and a risk! Surprisingly it turned alright and was a winner!

I adapted a recipe from Australian Good Food and Travel Guide. I don’t know what possessed me to cook lamb for the first time for four hungry diners. I bought 8 lamb shanks, so doubled everything below.

Ingredients

  • 4 lamb shanks (medium size)
  • 1 brown onions diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 2 large carrots diced
  • 2 sticks celery diced
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley
  • bit of thyme
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 50ml of veg oil
  • 1.5 cups of red wine
  • 2lt veal stock (I used beef stock instead)
  • 50ml of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • lightly coat the shanks in flour and season with salt and pepper.
  • in a hot heavy-duty pan with little oil, seal the shanks till brown.
  • once brown remove from pan, drain excess oil from pan.
  • heat oil in a large pot, saute onions, garlic, carrots, celery, fresh parsley and thyme. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • once sautéed add the lamb shanks.
  • add red wine to the shanks and the stock.
  • once the shanks have come to a boil, turn the heat down and let it simmer slowly.
  • simmered it for about 2.5 hours, the longer the better.
  • the shanks are ready when they start to fall of the bone.

Served with potatoes and green beans.
Potatoes:

  • cut into quarters
  • in a baking tray, add oil, then put potatoes and bake until soft
  • i usually pan fry the potatoes a little, so they are brown and add salt


The lamb was incredibly tender. Hearty, perfect for a wintry evening and a winner amongst the diners! No lamb smell, the red wine really helped I think. Think I only have one lamb shank leftover, can’t believe they were a hit! Quite easy, but just time-consuming, if you have a pressure cooker, or slow cooker, would definitely be a lot quicker!

Could this be a new love? I wouldn’t go as far as saying I love lamb! Pork is still my favourite but I wouldn’t hesitate making or ordering it next time I see it on the  menu!

Bambini Trust Cafe and a quick visit to Cafe Cre Asion, Sydney

I have seen this cafe many times now, my bus would drive past this place and I have always wondered what it was like. No matter what time of day, I see many diners eating and drinking outside. So when I caught up with a fellow food lover, F, I couldn’t help but suggest this place and thankfully, she too has been wondering what this place was like!


Located on Elizabeth Street, opposite Hyde Park, this cafe is very slick, interior quite dark, antique mirrors, dark-wood bar, it was a lot larger than I thought but still quite cozy. Bambini Trust serves Italian and Mediterranean food. The food is generous, hearty and absolutely delicious.


We started with bread rolls, crunchy exterior and deliciously fluffy and soft on the inside.


F couldn’t go past the cape grim sirloin ($38) – chargrilled, porcini rubbed bistecca al fungi – saute of fresh mushrooms (36 month grass fed, free range Angus Sirloin from Cape Grim, NW Tasmania).


It was cooked just the way F wanted – medium rare, and it was tender and I love the sauteed mushrooms – full of flavours and wonderful.


I couldn’t go past the special, beef cheeks with dutch carrots and gnocchi ($38).


Melt-in-your-mouth succulent beef cheeks with cooked to perfection carrots. The gnocchi excellent, crunchy on the outside and pillow-y soft on the inside. It was such a hearty dish and perfect for the cold wintry day in Sydney.


We also ordered a side of ‘Darling mills Farm’ Salad leaves ($9.50) – pricey for what it is, but it was light and refreshing.


Reservation is definitely highly recommended. We didn’t make a reservation for lunch but thankfully someone cancelled and we got the last table available! Lots of suits, great for business lunch – can be a little noisy though.

Wine list extensive, as it should be as it is a wine room also. Definitely keen to check out the wine room once dry July is over and try their dinner menu. Service efficient, wait staff super friendly and professional. Meals were brought promptly and most importantly, food – superb! We both enjoyed our meal.


We didn’t have dessert but on the way home, I couldn’t help and get a coffee at Cre Asion. Located next to Berta on Alberta Street, this little cafe is owned by Yu Sasaki, ex Universal. The restauranteur, L, took me here a while back but have not had the chance to return until that day.

Macarons made daily and throughout the day, the cafe is tiny but there are a couple of tables inside and out for those who want to dine in.


Coffee bit of a hit and miss, first time was a little too watery, second time a lot better.

I couldn’t help but buy a couple of macarons – yes a couple for ‘The Mother’ as I am not usually a huge fan. However, these little babies were delicious. Not as sweet as I had anticipated and went down extremely nicely with my coffee.


Coffee and Green Tea – awesome! Whoops – sorry ‘The Mother’ – they were supposed to be for you! All flavours made from scratch using real ingredients. Prices of each macarons are $2.70 each, or $19 for 8 or $30 for a box of 14.


Too close to home, and definitely worth coming back for!

GA’s ratings Bambini Trust: 7.5 / 10

Bambini Trust

185 Elizabeth Street

Sydney 2000

Ph: +61 2 9283 7098

Bambini Trust Cafe on Urbanspoon

GA’s ratings: Cre Asion: 7.5 / 10

Cafe Cre Asion

21 Alberta Street

Sydney 2000

Cafe Cre Asion on Urbanspoon

El Capo, Surry Hills

Trying to decide where to eat in Surry Hills can be a little daunting and confusing sometimes. There are so many restaurants and cafes that it is hard to pick which one. El Capo has been on my list for a while now, ‘The Mother’ and I were supposed to go for dinner, but when we rocked up on a Friday night at about 7.30pm, they said we had to wait for 45 minutes that we both walked away and said next time.


El Capo can be found on Waterloo Street, ‘sandwiched’ between Orto Trading Co and Izakaya Fujiyama. El Capo serves Latin Amerian food, it is all about ‘latin flavours’ and the menu focuses on pickles, chili and smoke.

The restaurant is quite small, about six communal tables with mismatched chairs. My favourite would have to be this stool made out of US100 dollar bills! Uber cool!


I love the decoration inside, the box of dominoes, the different types of tin of utensils.


Whilst waiting for the lovely S, I ordered a glass of tamarind juice. Deliciously refreshing with a slight tang.


The Lunch menu is well priced, albeit limited, four lunch options all for just $10. Grits, pork and salad ($10) – it really had me at pork. Pork, puffed white corn and cabbage salad was delightful.


Different flavours and textures, it had a nice spicy kick at the end. The pork shredded into pieces and the salad a wonderful complement. It was light and frigging tasty! A definite winner for me.


S on the other hand opted for arroz con pollo – Caribbean chicken rice. Risotto like, it was nice but  it was extremely creamy and left a very strong sour aftertaste. If you like the cream and tang then this is the dish for you as it would be perfect for winter. Apparently it is one of their best sellers, however, not for me.


I don’t think S enjoyed his dish as much as I did. The portions for each servings were definitely generous. More options for dinner, I’m definitely keen to try the pork cheeks, smoked passionfruit, congo potatoes! The fish ceviche sounds divine too.


Decor simple, service very friendly and atmosphere great.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

El Capo

G08/52 Waterloo Street

Surry Hills 2010

Ph: +61 2 9699 2518

El Capo on Urbanspoon

The Wine Library, Woollahra

I have always wondered about the Wine Library. It is the sister restaurant of Buzo Italian Restaurant, however, food at the Wine Library is tapas like and has a Mediterranean and Spanish influence as well as Italian.

I was meeting a dear friend, M, for lunch and suggested this place. Situated on the busy street of Oxford Street in Woollahra, the Wine Library is tiny but quite long. Bar at the front with a couple of stools and tall tables and at the back, a few tables where diners can sit, eat and there is a small courtyard at the back which would be perfect for summer.

I was utterly impressed with the wine list – 15 pages of extensive wine list ranges from affordable to ridiculously expensive.

The menu is also quite extensive – so many choices – and everything sounds wonderful. I know M’s love for chicken liver so suggested the chicken liver and vin santo parfait, toasted sourdough ($14).

Warm toasted sourdough, with a generous spread of chicken liver – it was smooth, deliciously creamy and had the right amount of saltines to it. I couldn’t taste any of the vin santo but generously spread on the warm sourdough it was definitely tasty.


The pork and veal meatballs, cabbage ant tomato ($15) probably the highlight.


Two plump large and bouncy pork and veal meatballs in a pool of tomato sauce topped with cheese was just delightful. It was so tender and tomato sauce rich and thick. Definitely could have eaten two meatballs on my own.


Pasticciata (baked polenta, fontina, and duck ragu) $16 is such a cold wintry dish. I couldn’t really taste the duck, but it was cheesy, creamy and oh so sinful! Perfect for a cold day. Don’t think M really enjoyed this dish.


The cabbage, white balsamico, parmigiano and mint ($9) is a refreshing salad but nothing special I thought. We needed a salad with all the hearty food.


Unfortunately we didn’t have any desserts, we were both stuffed. The Wine Library serves snack dishes all day, they also serve breakfast, paninis and after 5pm more of the heavier dishes.

It’s very relaxed and laid back, great service, and food hearty and wonderful. Would definitely love to come back at night and try some of their wine selection.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

The Wine Library

18 Oxford St

Woollahra 2025

Ph: +61 2 9328 1600

Wine Library on Urbanspoon

Din Tai Fung, Sydney and Tiramisu Recipe

It certainly has been a long time since my last visit to Din Tai Fung (DTF) – can you believe over a year? ‘The Mother’ and I went to the DTF in Hong Kong and Taiwan and it was just as good but for half the price! ‘The Mother’ loves DTF, he claims they are the BEST dumplings in Sydney as they are consistently good. I am not sure if I agree with him – I wouldn’t say its the BEST dumplings in Sydney, but he sure does love them. So when I asked what he wanted to do for his birthday, he suggested DTF.

We had an early dinner, 6 pm and the place was already busy! Thankfully we didn’t have to wait at all and walked straight in. I left all the ordering to ‘The Mother’ (first time ever!) and surprisingly, he ordered well!

Started with my favourite silken tofu with pork floss and a thousand year old egg. ‘The Mother’ is not a huge fan of this, he doesn’t like pork floss and hates cold tofu.

However, this is probably one of my favourite dishes, soft, silky tofu with pork floss and gooey, creamy thousand year old egg. How can he not like thousand year old egg?

We ordered Shanghainese noodles with chicken and soup on the side. The noodles cooked to perfection, slippery and oh so soft.

The chicken incredibly tender, and the soup delicate and lots of flavour. It really complemented the noodles well.

Two servings of xiao long bao – steamed pork dumplings and steamed crab meat and pork dumplings – 8 in each. They are as good as I remembered them to be. Make sure they are cool enough before putting the whole thing in your mouth, as they are juicy and the juice can burn your mouth! Yes, it has happened to me before, a hard lesson learnt! ‘The Mother’ loved it so much that he ate 14 and left me with TWO! yes… TWO – one of each!


The stir fry black pepper steak is a favourite of ours. The meat deliciously tender and succulent with a nice peppery kick. Unfortunately silly me forgot to take a picture, you just have to trust me that it was good!

Green beans with pork mince is also another favourite, and by this stage, we were both getting extremely full!


Service is efficient, by the time we finished at 7pm, there were a queue of people waiting to dine. Don’t fret, turnover is quite quick, so don’t be put off by the queues. However, in saying that, I don’t usually like to wait.

Incredibly full, we really couldn’t stomach any dessert and waddled to the movies to watch Harry Porter. Not a bad film, although the last 45 mins dragged a little.

You can’t have a birthday without a cake right? Earlier that day, I made him a tiramisu. My mixer is currently broken, so I wanted to do something relatively easy that doesn’t require a lot of hard labour!


For the life of me I can’t remember where I got the recipe from but being the lazy cook that I am, I picked the easiest and simplest!


Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, separated (i didn’t have enough eggs so used 2)
  • 1/2 cup Caster sugar (reduced my sugar to only 1/3)
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua)
  • 200ml thickened cream
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 28 sponge finger biscuits
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (didn’t have cocoa powder so grated some dark chocolate!)

Method

  • Beat egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Gently fold in mascarpone and liqueur.
  • Whip cream to firm peaks, fold into mascarpone mixture.
  • Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, fold into mascarpone mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins.
  • Combine coffee and warm water in a shallow dish, stirring until coffee dissolves. Dip biscuits 1 at a time in coffee, turning to coat. Place in a single layer, over the base of a 6cm-deep, 18cm x 28 cm (base) baking dish.
  • Spread half the mascarpone mixture over biscuits to cover. Repeat layers with remaining biscuits, coffee, mascarpone mixture.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
  • Dust top with cocoa powder and serve.

Voila….

To my dear husband, best friend, and the most important person in my life – Happy Birthday and here’s to many more to come!

GA’s ratings for DTF: 7.5 / 10

Din Tai Fung

644 George Street

Sydney 2000

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon