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Archive for April, 2012

Tropicana Cafe, Coogee

Apologies for the lack of blog post. As some of you may know already, ‘The Mother’ and I are thrilled to announce that Dragon arrived on 10th April 2012. We are both ecstatic and looking forward to the years ahead.

This post is a little overdue, prior to arrival of Dragon, ‘The Mother’ and I went to Coogee. It was a beautiful Sunday and I wanted to get out of the house, go to the beach and have brunch. Coogee is not a place I go very often, I am not sure what possessed us to pick Tropicana, probably because it was busy and I was starving and didn’t feel like burgers at Moo – yes you heard me right!

From memory, there is another Tropicana café in Darlinghurst, but I am not sure if it’s owned by the same people. The menu is definitely different. Tropicana café can be found on the busy street of Coogee Bay Road, the place was buzzing when we arrived just a little past midday. We scored the second last table outside; it was just too nice to sit indoors.

We started with a juice and smoothie – I love a good strawberry smoothie.

‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the bacon and egg roll – there is something about bacon and egg rolls that he loves, even on weekends when we are at home, he would ask for me to make it. He said it wasn’t the best but it was still quite tasty.

I on the other hand opt for the breakfast bruschetta with tomato. It was indeed a generous serving – two pieces of toast, topped with smooth and silky scrambled eggs and diced tomatoes with feta cheese. It definitely hit the spot!

Service friendly and efficient, food felt like it was very home-made and generous serving at that. We, well I definitely left feeling very satisfied and very full.

After lunch, we had a stroll down Coogee beach, one of my favourite beaches in Sydney, and with weather as perfect as this in autumn, who can say no? I sure am going to miss days like this when we move to Hong Kong!

GA’s ratings: 6.5 / 10

Tropicana Café

207 Coogee Bay road

Coogee NSW 2034

Ph: +61 2 9665 5619

Tropicana Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Grounds, Alexandria

Alexandria is not a place I go very often, but there seems to be a lot of new cafes, restaurants around the area. First it was 4143 at the James Barnes, and now The Grounds.

The Grounds is relatively new, situated on the corner of Huntley Street and Bourke Road, where 4143 is. It’s a relatively large area, it has a kitchen garden, café, takeaway area, research facility, kids’ play area and various workshops.

They take their coffee seriously here, there is a huge blackboard illustrating every step of production which I thought was pretty cool.

I have been here twice now, both in the first week of its opening and the place was busy. The first visit was with two lovely girlfriends, E and H for lunch. We rocked up at midday thinking it would be relatively easy to get a table, unfortunately we were wrong. It took a good 20 minutes before we were seated. There are outdoor seats in the garden, however, that’s only for takeaway.

There are two menus, one for takeaway which is written on the board above the counter and coffee machines, and the other for dining in. We perused the menu carefully, unfortunately breakfast finishes at 10.30 am – there is no all-day breakfast.

I really wanted the confit ocean trout salad with pearl barley which was served with green beans, tender stem broccolini, hand picked garden herbs and preserved lemon – it looked absolutely divine. Both E and H ordered this – medium rare ocean trout, and they both said it was excellent.

I on the other hand opt for the herb crumbed chicken schnitzel which was served with house slaw and salsa verde. The chicken schnitzel was thin making it very dry and overly too crunchy. I would have definitely have been better if it was thicker and less dry.

We couldn’t refuse a bucket of fries, unfortunately, it didn’t come in a ‘bucket’.

Drinks – juices and ginger beer are all served in rustic jars, which I love. Coffee is definitely what they are good at!

I was hoping to try the breakfast on the weekend with ‘The Mother’ and his friends. We rocked up at 10.30am, there were 8 of us, so unfortunately we had to wait a good 40 minutes before we were seated. We toyed with the idea of ordering takeaway and having it in the garden, but the eat-in menu sounded wonderful – scrambled eggs with smoked cheddar with garden herbs, roasted field mushrooms and toasted miche sounded wonderful, so does the brioche French toast. However, by the time we were seated, breakfast was over and lunch was about to start in 30 minutes.

Service the second time round was a little slower – they were extremely busy and under staffed. It took them a good 30 minutes for our hot cross buns to come and when they finally arrived, we devoured them within seconds!

I was a little disappointed that breakfast was over. For lunch, I thought I would try the Grounds Burger, dry aged angus beef, smoked cheddar, tomato, house pickles, tomato relish and fries. It was served on a wooden board with a knife right in the middle of it – the beef pattie was thick and juicy. It was surprisingly good, better than I had anticipated.  Is it my favourite burger? Probably not, you probably know that my favourite burger is still the Lotus Burger. The side of chunky chips were excellent. The majority of us ordered this.

‘The Mother’ ordered the confit ocean trout salad and enjoyed it. B ordered tortilla which was served in a grilled pan, and served with house-made olive bread and spinach leaves topped with herbs and parmesan cheese.

Thought the service was a little bit of hit and miss – still teething I think. I have yet to try their breakfast but am very keen to try. Coffee is definitely their specialty! Make sure you go early, like before 9 am if you don’t want to miss out on breakfast!

I do love the idea, the outdoor gardens, they even have chickens on the grounds! I do hope that the service is just a teething thing, it would be better if they did have service in the garden too! Nothing beats eating breakfast in the garden whilst the sun is shining!

NB: photos unmarked was taken by my Uncle!

22nd June 2012

As you know, I have wanted to come back here for breakfast, but on the weekends, unless you are there before 9am there is at least a minimum wait of 45 – 60 minutes. That’s totally and utterly insane and you all know how much I hate waiting.

I was taking ‘The Mother’ to the airport – a very sad day, as he is leaving both dragon and I for a few weeks to find a place before we all make the move. It was a Friday, and the place was relatively busy. Parking was absolutely horrendous but thankfully we found one!

I took my parents here, and they loved it, mind you we didn’t have to wait at all and were seated immediately. The cappucino they absolutely loved.

My freshly squeezed orange juice which was served in a cool jar 🙂

Dad ordered the ocean trout with scrambled eggs and fennel which was delicious. Generous amount of ocean trout and scrambled eggs, and the fennel was cooked to perfection.

Mum had the scrambled eggs with toast ($10) with a side of smoked salmon ($4).

I knew exactly what I wanted, rolled eggs with crispy quinoa ($16), I have seen many friends eat this and I couldn’t wait to try and it was absolutely delicious! Probably one of my favourite breakfast at The Grounds. The eggs were cooked to perfection, it was served with asparagus, roast tomatoes and crunchy quinoa – YUM!

Service this time round was infinitely better. The place was busy when we got there at about 9.45am! Can’t wait to have the rolled eggs with quinoa again, but I don’t think I will be rocking up on the weekend though!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

The Grounds of Alexandria

7a / 2 Huntley Street (corner Bourke Road)

Alexandria NSW 2015

Ph: +61 2 9699 2225

The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

Roy’s, Hawaii

Our last meal in Honolulu with both Lobster Dynamite and The Professor was at Roy’s. There are six different locations in Honolulu alone, and we went to the one in Waikiki Beach which is a short drive from their place.

The chef behind this restaurant is Roy Yamaguchi. Born in Tokyo, he worked as executive chef at le Serena in LA in 1979, and by 1984 he opened his own restaurant in LA called 395 North. He moved to Hawaii in 1988 and open Roy’s. There are now 31 Roy’s including 23 in the US, 6 in Hawaii, 1 in Japan and 1 in Guam.

There were a few hiccups with our reservations, but thankfully we didn’t have to wait for long for our table, as we noticed there were a few people waiting. The menu looked wonderful, a mix of everything, ranging from raw seafood, cooked seafood, poultry and meat. Considering there was a lot of raw seafood that I could not eat, I thought I would just order separately from the group. Their food looked spectacular and yes, I was uber jealous.

We started with the edamame which was served with sesame oil and chili – just the way ‘The Mother’ likes it.

‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the king fish tuna, it was the first time that The Professor had it and she enjoyed it. Lobster Dynamite also loved the freshness of the fish, it did look very very good!

The crab cakes were also delicious – full of chunky crab meat in a spicy sesame sauce.

The lobster roll was also a hit!

That was their entrees, for mains, ‘The Mother’ had pan roasted kona kampachi – big island clams, local vegetable minestrome, roasted garlic – the fish was pan fried, it was tender but yet firm at the same time.

The Professor had the sea scallops – butter wilted nalo arugula, fresh wasabi sourdough fritters, local orange, and seared scallops. I didn’t have any of this, but it looked absolutely divine and no doubt The Professor really enjoyed it.

Lobster Dynamite had the roasted garlic and sesame baked jumbo shrimp and indeed they were JUMBO shrimp!

I on the other hand couldn’t go past the pork belly with buns – tender succulent pork belly which was served with radish, and bao (buns).

They were seriously good, so good that I don’t think I offered anyone some! I could have happily eaten another half a dozen for my main.

For mains, roasted half chicken, Asian herb thai chili, and mac-nut relish, kobacha spaetzle and oxtail cassoulet. It was a rather large serving, larger than anyone else’s on the table. It was rich, the chicken was tender, the spaetzle and oxtail I loved but it was a little on the rich side. It didn’t help that I was full from the buns.

We shared dessert, upside down pineapple cake which was served with vanilla bean ice cream.

The pineapple cake was a bit rich but incredibly delicious.

The chocolate soufflé was another wonderful dessert, it oozed with chocolate, and wow… what a perfect way to end the meal.

It was a wonderful meal with friends. Service was spot on, and food delicious! Would definitely recommend this place but reservations are highly recommended.

Thank you to both Lobster Dynamite and The Professor for your hospitality! We look forward to our next trip together in Vegas! Vegas baby, Vegas!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

Roy’s Hawaii

226 Lewers Street

Honolulu, Hawaii 96815

Ph: +1 (808) 923-7697

Roy's (Lewers Street) on Urbanspoon

Cornersmith, Marrickville

I have heard wonderful things about Cornersmith. It took a while to get there, but finally one Saturday morning, ‘The Mother’ and I were catching up with one of our friends, M, and I suggested this place. The place was packed on Saturday at 10.30am – they have a self-managed queue system. Write your name and the number of people on the board that’s hung on the door and wait. It took us a good 30 – 35 minutes to be seated. ‘The Mother’ is not fond of waiting, but considering there were no other cafes nearby and he had M to keep him company, he didn’t complain so much! Not that he is a complainer – just that he doesn’t like waiting much!

The menu which was written on the board was vast! I couldn’t decide what I wanted, as everything sounded wonderful. The bircher muesli, the eggs, the sandwiches – I really could have ordered one of each!

I couldn’t go past the poached eggs on toast with red pepper relish ($9) with a side of avocado ($4). Perfectly poached egg, the avocado and red pepper relish fresh and absolutely tasty all served with a sour dough bread drizzled with olive oil. It was the perfect breakfast that I needed that day.

‘The Mother’ loved his poached egg, garlic aioli, rocket, free range ham and red pepper relish ($10). He didn’t exactly offer me any, but he was going to lick the plate if the waitress didn’t take the plate away. He said the serving was a tad small but everything was so fresh and complemented each other well.

M had the apple bircher with natural yogurt, plum compote and poached pear ($10) – I almost ordered this and it looked as good as it tasted. It was divine! The apple bircher was soaked perfectly, the plum compote and poached pear wonderful complement. I could happily eat this on a daily basis!

Cornersmith can be found on the busy street of Illawarra Road and it is very close to Marrickville station and a couple of shops down form PhD. I didn’t get to try the coffee, as I am still on a coffee ban, but I am a definite fan of the food and the vibe. Getting a table for more than two is a bit of a pain I thought – those that came in twos got seated quicker.  As whether or not its baby friendly? It’s tight, the place is small and if you have a massive pram it could ‘get in the way’ but doable.

The menu is simple. They have many things made on site – honey, pickles, chutneys and jam. I bought a muffin to take on the go, for the movies and I have to say it was one the fluffiest, and nicest muffin I have had – I can’t remember what it was sorry! But it was good.

Would happily come back – if it was closer I would be there right now!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

Cornersmith

314 Illawarra Road

Marrickville NSW 2204

Ph: +61 2 8065 0844

Cornersmith on Urbanspoon

Rainbow Drive-in, Honolulu, Hawaii

A plate lunch is a must try in Hawaii as I was told by Lobster Dynamite. It is considered as ‘local food’ in the sense that it reflects the fusion of the local cultures and ethnicity. Lobster Dynamite suggested that we go to the Rainbow Drive-in, this place has been around for over 45 years and boasts to serve some of the ‘cheapest and best plate lunches to Hawaii and the world’.

A ‘plate lunch’ consists of entrée, 2 scoops of rice, 1 scoop macaroni salad or slaw. There were many choices ranging from fried chicken, ham steak, bbq steak, cutlets, corned beef and many more. Alternatively, there are also burgers, sandwiches and other miscellaneous items. The description of each food can be found below.

I couldn’t go past the pork cutlet with gravy ($7.25) – and what a generous serving it was! The pork were on the thin side but tender, and the gravy although thick was a wonderful complement. I really enjoyed the macaroni salad.

‘The Mother’ wanted something different; he got the mahi sandwich with lettuce ($4.50) and a side of fries. The mahi sandwich was very simple – mahi, lettuce and that was pretty much it. It was pretty tasty though, very simple and very good.

He also ordered a medium float ($3.00) which he absolutely loved! He glared at me every time I asked for a sip.

Lobster Dynamite ordered the beef with gravy, very similar to mine.

He also ordered a cheese burger which was $2.50! How can he resist a burger for $2.50 he claimed! Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of this as he pretty much scoffed it down before I could even press ‘click’.

Service nill, you  order your food at the counter and wait for you food. Seating is very minimal, especially during peak hour – so come early or come a little after peak hour. Reasonably priced and generous serving. It is quite close to the beach so if there are no seating; you can always stroll down the beach and have it there. Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t beach weather, so we ate there, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Rainbow Drive-in

3308 Kanaina Ave

Honolulu, Hawaii 96815

Ph: +1 (808) 737-0177

Rainbow Drive-in on Urbanspoon

Spicy Sichuan, Sydney

Ever since ‘The Mother’ had his first encounter of Sichuan food, he truly can’t get enough of it! There is one dish that he loves, and that’s the fish fillet swimming in a pool of chili, peppercorn and lots of it! I don’t love the numbing effect so much but like ‘The Mother’, I truly do enjoy a good spicy Sichuan cuisine.

I have seen this place as I walk home, the place is always busy with people queuing and waiting to get in. Spicy Sichuan can be found on Cunningham Street, just off Goulburn Street – you can’t miss it, there are usually a group of people queuing to go inside. There are two levels, ground level is hot pot, which we didn’t want, and a la carte which is upstairs. There was a little bit of a mix up with our reservations but after about 5 – 10 minutes, we were seated and looking forward to what was to come.

We thought we would all pick a dish, ‘The Mother’ knew exactly what we wanted – the only reason why we came here for. The MiL and BiL aren’t very good with spicy food so we made sure that we had a mix of both.

We started with the ling fish filled with vegetable in chili oil ($29.80). OMG – look at the redness of the bowl – so many chili and so many peppercorn for that numbing effect.

The fish fillets were incredibly tender, and if you carefully pick out the peppercorn it is not that spicy at all! But what would be the fun of that right? It was spicy, tiggly numbing spicy but it was good!

Next, the tea smoked duck (whole $36) – this was fantastic. It had a distinct smoked flavour and aroma and was incredibly succulent. It was a favourite amongst the diners.

I was craving dumplings so opt for the northern China dumplings with meat and vegetables, ($9.80 for 12) and this totally hit the spot! It was boiled or braised, and wow – I could not stop but pop these babies in my mouth one after the other. Definitely worth trying.

Fried buns with sesame on top ($8 for 6 pieces) were also good. It didn’t have any hazardous soup inside but slightly pan friend and sprinkled with sesame seeds on top. It was good.

Last but not least, this came out last and extremely slow oddly, was the fried vermicelli with XO sauce. I thought this was a little ordinary. Fried vermicelli cooked in XO sauce and topped with two prawns. I was full by this stage so this was so so.

Service was a little slow at times, but we didn’t have to wait too long for food or tea or drinks. My favourite dish was definitely the fish fillets and the dumplings. The duck was also good.

‘The Mother’ and I are definitely keen to try their other spicy dishes.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Spicy Sichuan

2 Cunningham Street

Sydney, NSW 2000

Ph: +61 2 9211 4222

Spicy Sichuan Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Categories: Asian, Chinese, Sydney Tags: , ,

Shokudo, Ala Moana, Hawaii

Shopping in Hawaii is seriously fantastic, I wish I bought more stuff. One of the malls that we went too was Ala Moana – pretty cool mall with some high end and low end shops. ‘The Mother’ didn’t really want to shop but thought we could all grab some lunch before we went our separate ways – boys went to the beach and me, hang out at the shops for a few hours.

Shokudo was on Lobster Dynamite’s list. It’s not quite in the mall, it was outside near the parking lot. It was quite a spacious and bright restaurant, loved the modern décor and the food was fantastic at reasonable prices.

The menu vast, we thought we would pick a couple of dishes to share and started with the yuzu Hamachi carpaccio ($13.95) – thinly sliced yellowtail sashimi with yuzu pepper vinaigrette topped with pickled wasabi was a favourite of ‘The Mothers’. The sashimi was fresh, the vinaigrette really gave it a nice touch.

The calamari tempura ($8.45) – tender calamari lightly battered and deep fried served with wasabi aioli was delicious. It had the right amount of batter and it wasn’t oily or sickly and who could say no to wasabi aioli?

‘The Mother’ loves edamame ($3.95) – lightly salted boiled soy beans, they were a great started. I do like them sprinkle with chili though – it gives it that extra zing!

The pork gyoza ($6.95) – Japanese potstickers served with chili soy sauce was a hit, so good that the boys ordered two servings of this. I couldn’t help but steal a couple of them also!

I ordered their lunch bento box – chicken karaage ($8.95) with was absolutely fantastic! Crispy and tender chicken, it went down too nicely with the wasabi aioli. I was secretly hoping the boys didn’t want any and thankfully – they didn’t!

It also came with some rice, salad, edamame and miso soup.

Now dessert, Shokudo is quite famous for their honey toast and even though we were full, we HAD TO get one.

TWO GINORMOUS slices of Japanese white bread, toasted with the centres cut into little cubes and topped with creamy ice cream and drizzled with honey. You can add toppings such as chocolate, strawberry, caramel, sweet red bean and the like but we wanted it plain.

Our jaw dropped as the lady put this on our table – OH MY GOD! It was definitely a generous serving. Even though the bread was toasted, it was still quite fluffy and drizzled with honey and eaten with ice cream it was absolutely divine! We didn’t think we could finish it, but boy were we wrong!

Service was indeed friendly and food came relatively quickly. We were tempted to get the sushi pizza but thought that would have been too much – we needed to make room for the honey toast and I am glad that we did!

Deliciously full, I tried very hard to stay awake whilst shopping and to be honest, that wasn’t difficult as I was overjoyed by all the ‘Sale’ sign!  Lobster Dynamite and ‘The Mother’ went for a drive and the beach and picked me up about 4 – 5 hours later.

If you are in the area and want a Japanese fix or just honey toast, Shokudo is definitely a visit.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Shokudo

1585 Kapiolani Blvd

Honolulu, Hawaii, 96814

Ph: +1(808) 941-3701

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