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Rustic Pearl, Surry Hills

November 25, 2013 1 comment

There’s really not a shortage of cafes in Surry Hills and I am always amazed that there are new ones opening every couple of months! I have missed my old hood and the cafes. Rustic Pearl can be found on the busy street of Crown Street, right next to Ampersand cafe and opposite the clock hotel.


The cafe is quite small, the menu has an interesting mediterranean twist and everything on the menu sounded lovely. I couldn’t go past the avocado smoothie – fresh avocado, yogurt, milk, honey and pistachio AUD6.50. I had it sans pistachio, the smoothie was delicious, not too sweet and it went down perfectly.


F had the  mocha and he really enjoyed it.


I couldn’t go past the pan fried chicken breast salad with crispy bacon, chickpeas, char grilled zucchini with balsamic dressing AUD18. The original comes with pine nuts, agresto and spiced apricot dressing but you all know about my nut allergy. The salad was indeed healthy and exactly what I needed – how I miss a good simple salad!


O had the chicken, mushroom and cheese gozleme and I have to say, this was superb!


F couldn’t go past the sucuk bruschetta – char grilled sucuk, melted buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomato, basil, rocket, pomegranate molasses and soft boiled eggs AUD17 – I had serious food envy! F demolished this, and I can see why.


The char grilled Mediterranean lam burger with red onion jam, smoky eggplant puree, fresh tomato, cos lettuce and yoghurt dressing AUD18 was pretty decent, but I am not a big fan of burgers on focaccia bread. The filing was quite tasty though.


Service was polite and friendly. The cafe was busy at lunch time. I love the rustic feel to the place, and the mural on the wall. They have some decent sandwiches also – petunia trout sandwich with avocado, rocket, artichoke, capers and tarator sauce sounds pretty good! Next time!


GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Rustic Pearl

415 Crown Street

Surry Hills 2010

Ph: +61 406 930 083

Rustic Pearl on Urbanspoon


Catalunya, Central, Hong Kong

There’s been a lot of hype about this place, and has been on my list of places to try since it opened. Reservations has been a complete night mare, especially for dinner on either Friday and Saturday night. We managed to get a booking one Saturday night but had to cancel. I was so gutted, but thankfully, a couple of my dear friends also wanted to try this and we opt for lunch which was SO much easier to get reservations!

I was rather impressed with the large space, and the team of culinary experts – headed by Executive Chef, Alain Devahive Tolosa, who haas worked alongside Ferran Adria of el Bulli, and a team of 20 chefs who come from many of Spain’s top Michelin three-starred restaurants. The menu vast, it took a while for us to go through…

We started with the suckling pig tapa (HKD170) – two cube pieces, the skin was incredibly crispy and the meat, tender, so tender that Dragon ate both pieces! We had to order another two servings!


I really enjoyed the steamed green asparagus with soft boil egg and black truffle (HKD160), it was scrumptiously good!


The jamon iberico croquettes (HKD100) was a favourite amongst the diners – extremely smooth potatoes and indulgent.


The black rice with red prawns (HKD160) – squid ink black rice with red prawns and garlic escense was a bit of a hit and miss with my fellow diners. Some loved the strong prawn flavours whilst others thought it was too fishy. I didn’t have any of this but ‘The Mother’ seemed to have enjoyed it.


I didn’t have any of the cod fritters (HKD90) a tribute to one of the most popular Catalan bites was another hit. ‘The Mother’s’ words – crispy and very creamy inside! ha!


Unfortunately the calamares with lemon mayonnaise (HKD110) was a little ‘meh’ – too oily and too much batter. ‘The Mother’ believes he has had better, so did my dining companions.


The ham, cheese and truffle ‘bikini’ (HKD 120) was ok – it tasted like a normal ham and cheese sandwich and a pretty expensive one at that!


I really enjoyed the scrambled egg on a potato bed with chorizo (HKD85) – eggs, potatoes, chorizo? Perfect breakfast!


Bombas from barceloneta (HKD95) – meat and potato concoction with Brava spicy sauce – not very spicy but definitely delicious.


The prime natural beef rib eye (HKD445) – 18 months, 400 days grass fed was incredibly delicious. Tender and succulent that it just melted in your mouth – could definitely have eaten this on my own!


The seafood paella – scampi, prawns, muscles and clams (HKD850) was infinitely better than the one at Quemmo (post to come) but still lacked a little umph. R thought the prawns weren’t cooked enough, ‘The Mother’ thought it was just ‘ok’.


We were getting full by one but thought we would share some desserts. The Cheese Flan (HKD70) was surprisingly better than I had anticipated. The cheese was subtle, it was fluffy and light.


We all wanted to try the Torrija (HKD70) soft and sweet warm bread with smoked milk ice cream. Not sure what we were expecting in terms of smoked milk ice cream, but the bread reminded me too much of a bread and butter pudding. Not that I am complaining as I LOVE bread and butter pudding.


The chocolate (HKD95) – a promise to end an indulgent meal on a delectably sweet note was the perfect end to the meal.


In hindsight I am glad it wasn’t just ‘The Mother’ and I dining here, as we wouldn’t have tried that many dishes. It was so lovely to catch up with Jason Bonvivant and Mochachocolata Rita – let’s do it again!

Service was polite and food was pretty good overall. There were some that was meh but definitely keen to try their other dishes on the menu!

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10


G/F, Guardian House,

32 Oi Kwan Road

Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2866 7900

Carnevino, Central, Hong Kong

I am always on the hunt for a good steak place. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a steak house, like Blue Butcher or Bistecca. I had a fantastic steak at Doppio Zero earlier this year. I have heard good things about Carnevino so suggested this place when a couple of my fellow diners were keen on steak.


Carnevino is an Italian steakhouse in the heart of Central. The name “Carne” stands for steaks and “vino” stands for wine which promises to serve the highest quality steaks and fantastic wine. The restaurant was quite spacious, and it was quite dark – perfect for a romantic dinner.  We started with amuse bouche – watermelon with mint – I really do like that combo!


The menu was vast, lots of steak on the menu as well as poultry and fish. No one wanted entree but i really couldn’t go past the bone marrow with preserved lemon gremolata (HKD198), roasted bone marrow with preserved lemon and parley and my goodness – I LOVE! I have to admit, the one at Blue Butcher is probably slightly better, but I would happily eat this one on my own also.


It took the boys a while to decide what kind of meat and what type they wanted. I think the mulled over it for about 15 mins – USDA filet? ribye? Australian grass fed? I have to admit, it went for quite a while! LOL. I ordered the smallest steak possible which was 6oz – USDA filet, medium rare. The steak was tender, and cooked the way I liked it.


I can’t exactly remember which steak ‘The Mother’ or the other boys had but they weren’t overly too impressed with their steak. It was hard and they all said that Blue Butcher was infinitely better.

C had the tuna (HKD338) slightly seared, served with potatoes. C thoroughly enjoyed it.


For sides, we ordered the guanciale mashed potatoes (HKD88) – mascarpone mashed potatoes with pork jowl and a poached duck egg and oh my, smooth, creamy and delicious – I would happily have licked the plate!


The charred long beans with salmoriglio (HKD78) wasn’t too bad. I really enjoyed the shitake mushrooms with balsamic (HKD78) and the tuscan wedges (HKD78) – crispy potatoes with parmigiano reggiano and garlic was also wonderful.

I was getting full by this stage, but ‘The Mother’ and I couldn’t go past the profiteroles – cream puffs sandwiched with vanilla ice cream and topped with warm dark chocolate sauce – OH MY!!!!


The carrot cake, coconut ice cream, ginger carrot sauce was a hit!


I know D was a little disappointed with his dessert – chocolate-banana brownie. He thought the brownie could have been ‘better’.


Service was polite and friendly. We had dragon who was running around, and dropping food all over the floor and they didn’t really complain! Food was a bit of a hit and miss, especially in terms of the steak but I really enjoyed mine could be because I have been craving for it. However, I must admit, I still do prefer Blue Butcher!

GA’s ratings: 6.5 / 10


5th Floor, LHT Tower,

31 Queen’s Road

Central, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2352 7700

Chalkboard Cafe, Waterloo, Sydney

This post is long overdue. I was in Sydney a couple of months back and was catching up with a couple of my favourite peeps, and i suggested this place. Thesuzchef, Uncle and I all have kids, so we need somewhere that is child friendly and big enough to fit prams. Unfortunately, none of us brought our prams but this cafe was definitely spacious. It is located in Waterloo in PYD design centre in Sydney. The cafe was quite spacious and I love the open space, great for Dragon to run around. The menu was vast, all day breakfast and lunch started at 11:30am.


I really wanted eggs, but Dragon is allergic to eggs. So opt for her next best thing, and her favourite also – Crispy Fried Chicken with tortilla and tomato chilli jam. The fried chicken was surprisingly tasty, crispy skin and tender.


thesuzchef ordered the blueberry and buttermilk pancakes served with blueberry compote and vanilla cream. Unfortunately it was a true and utter disappointment. It wasn’t fluffy or soft, it was rock hard and cold.


Uncle had the open fillet steak sandwich with sautéed mushroom, salad and red onion marmalade. It looked good but from memory, Uncle thought it was just ‘ok’. (photo by my Uncle)


The brioche French toast with caramelised banana, bacon and maple syrup was infinitely better than the buttermilk pancakes. (photo by uncle).


Overall food was a bit of a hit and miss, which is a shame. I really wanted to like this cafe as I liked the vibe. My fried chicken was pretty good but I don’t think everyone enjoyed their meal. Service was friendly and polite. It was lovely to see you all – I have missed you dearly!

GA’s ratings: 5 / 10

The Chalkboard Cafe

PYD Building

197 Young Street

Waterloo 2017

Sydney, Australia

Ph: +61 2 9698 2553

The Chalkboard Cafe on Urbanspoon

Silly Boo, Tin Hau, Hong Kong

I have been to Silly Boo a number of times now. This place used to be a froyo shop and one that i went too quite frequently. Silly Boo serves all day breakfast, casual lunches including sandwiches, coffees and yogurt – the range for yogurt is not vast but if you are craving yogurt and coffee, then this is the place to be.


The restaurant is quite small, service can be a tad slow at times depending on how busy they are. The menu are written on the black board above, you order at the counter, pay and food will be delivered to your table. We were here one weekend, after the lunch hour and the service wasn’t too bad.

I was craving breakfast – eggs, mushroom, bacon you name it. Scrambled eggs, you would think that would be easy, but sometimes they just make it too dry. It was pretty good at Silly Boo, I do still prefer it a little more fluffier and creamy like at Bills. The bacon and mushroom a wonderful complement.


‘The Mother’ ordered turkey, tomato, lettuce and mayo on focaccia bread and he said it was ‘more than good’. He loves a good simple sandwich whereas I prefer something more substantial. It wasn’t too bad I have to admit but my breakfast was definitely better.


‘The Mother’ ordered coffee and said it was excellent, the yogurt which I have had a number of times wasn’t bad. Plain with real fruits on top which Dragon loved. I keep forgetting about this place, it’s just that the place is SO small, that getting a table for more than 2 people can be a hassle. Service is a bit of a hit and miss too but food is pretty consistent which I like.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Silly Boo

G/F, 96 Electric Road

Tin Hau, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2570 8030