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Posts Tagged ‘Syd: Haymarket’

True gem, Kura, Haymarket

Kura has been around for many years now. This used to be my cheap eats during my time at uni and have totally forgotten about this place until one weekend when Mum suggested this place. She has never been but have heard wonderful things about it. Kura in Haymarket is tiny, no more than a dozen people. It is located in front of Market City and can be easily missed if you haven’t heard about it or have not seen the number of people queueing to dine in or pick up their takeaway.

As you enter, you will notice a benchtop and kitchen behind it and any barely tables inside. The place is cramped, however its ALWAYS busy! We rocked up at 2pm for lunch and the place was busy. The waitress kindly told us that it would be a 15 mins wait and told us to peruse the menu and order prior to us being seated. Don’t be put off by the queue and the tiny space – service is efficient!

We perused the menu whilst waiting and ordered straight away. As soon as we were seated, the dishes were brought out. Turnover is quick also – you pretty much eat and leave. No loitering or chatting with friends.

Dad couldn’t go pass the Unagi – a large serving of delicious, sweet eel on a mountain of rice. The eel glistened, it was indeed a generous serving, it was wonderfully satisfying!

We ordered a side of sashimi with our Unagi main. The salmon and king fish sashimi were fresh and demolished quickly.

I couldn’t go pass the karage chicken – again it was a generous serving. The coating was incredibly crunchy, and chicken was tender and succuluent. Drizzled with sweet chilli and dipped in creamy Japanese mayonnaise, it was scrumptiously good.

I love takoyaki – fried Japanese dumplings with diced octopus, pickled ginger, green onions brushed with takoyaki sauce and topped with bonito. I made the mistake of popping the whole thing in my mouth and clearly burnt the inside of my mouh – ouch! They were good – so good that I ate majoity!

One of our mains came with miso soup – the soup was ok, it wasn’t the best I’ve had. It had cabbage in it which I thought was a bit odd.

I didn’t realise that Kura has three other branches – the newest K-Janura is in Pyrmont. The portions are generous, and great value for money. Total cost of meal was less than $30. Service and atmopshere friendly. How could I have forgetten this place? Pity they don’t deliver, it could be a local Japanese place.

Kura

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Shop 3, 76 Ultimo Road

Sydney 2000

Ph: +61 2 9212 5661

Kura on Urbanspoon

Mamak, Haymarket

Can you believe it has been three years since my last visit to Mamak? I can’t believe how popular they have become and now have TWO restaurants, one on Goulburn Street, Haymarket, and the other in Chatswood, which I have yet to visit. They have definitely done well for themselves!

As most of you know, the queue for Mamak is insanely long! I am not a fan of waiting, especially if it’s a 45 – 60 mins wait. I was catching up with a dear friend, C, for lunch. We originally wanted to go to Gumshara, however, there was a fire and the food court was closed – not sure for how long, think a couple of weeks – so he suggested Mamak. I was surprised there was no one waiting, however, the restaurant was full, and thankfully, there was one table for two left. I would have definitely suggested somewhere else if there was a queue.

I have been here a few times now (obviously, prior to three years ago) and have tried pretty much everything on the menu. C left the ordering to me, it was only his second time here. We started with the Roti Canai ($5.5). The roti was unbelievably flaky and soft that it melted in my mouth. Unfortunately the two curries offered were pretty average. It was a little watery and lacked flavour.

C had the lunch special, Kari Ayam ($10) – classic chicken curry cooked with freshly ground spices and chunky potatoes. The curry was definitely much better and I asked if I could dip my roti in it. C thought it was ‘ok’, too many potatoes and not enough chicken.

I had the rojak ($14), Malaysian-style salad, prawn and coconut fritters, fried tofu, hard-boiled eggs, freshly shredded yambean, and cucumber topped with a thick spicy peanut sauce and it was indeed a THICK peanut sauce. A little too rich and sickly for my liking. Aside from that, I do love the textures in the salad, the yambean and cucumber were both refreshing and tasty.

We couldn’t go pass the dessert – roti kaya ($7.5) filled with a traditional spread made from pandan and coconut topped with vanilla ice cream. This was absolutely delicious, I love the pandan flavour, the coconut was subtle, and the roti was crispy on the outside and deliciously moist on the inside – it all just melted in my mouth! Divine!

I had kopi tarik ($3.5) – you can ask for it to be less sweet, as I am not a fan of sweet coffee, and it was good. It was refreshing and went down too easily. C had the teh tarik ($3.5) and he definitely enjoyed it.

I have to admit though, I am not quite sure what the fascination is. I have friends who absolutely love this place. I mean, the rotis and teh tarik are fantastic, but I find the other dishes quite ordinary. The sate is nice, but my parents are definitely better. The curries are also ok, I find it quite watery, and lack flavour. The fried chicken is nice, but I do prefer the Indonesian version of it and the nasi lemak is ok – I have definitely had better.

I would come back but only for their dessert, the sweet rotis and teh tarik, and to watch the ‘entertainment’ whilst I wait for a table. I wouldn’t be rushing back again though – maybe in another three years?

GA’s ratings: 6 /10

Mamak

15 Goulburn Street

Haymarket, Sydney 2000

Ph: +61 2 9211 1668

Mamak on Urbanspoon

Spicy Panda, Haymarket

Spicy Panda is a Chinese restaurant that specializes in Szechuan cuisine. ‘The Mother’ and I have taken a liking in Szechuan cuisine, and even though the spiciness brings us to tears, we both truly enjoy it. Spicy Panda is located in Chinatown, on Dixon Street between Goulburn Street and Liverpool Street.

We came here with my parents, brother and sis-in-law one evening. I remember taking them to a Szechuan restaurant in Hong Kong, Da Ping Huo, and wow, what a meal that was! I do remember my brother breaking out in sweats and was almost in tears. Thankfully, this time round, no sweat or tears insight.

It’s a relatively new-ish restaurant; I think it has been around for about 6 or so months now. I was a little surprised by how fancy the restaurant was. I love the relatively large dining room with rosewood partitions.

We were presented with a colourful and pictorial menu. I love the bright pictures of each dish, I was salivating as I was looking at each dish. They left the ordering to Mum and I, and I think we did surprisingly well.

I couldn’t go pass the braised pork belly with preserved vegetables. The braised pork belly was incredibly tender that it just melted in your mouth. The preserved vegetables were a little sour but complemented the pork belly well. It wasn’t spicy but F and I couldn’t help but fight for every single last piece, it was a great way to start the feast.

Next, one of the classic Szechuan chicken with peanuts. The waiter told us that they only had bite size chicken pieces and that suited us fine. The chicken was succulent and the spiciness was intense. It consisted of fennel seed, pepper, chili and ginger to name a few, and it was magnificent and burst with flavours.

‘The Mother’ wanted the spicy beans with beef. The beans were unbelievably tender, it was a little salty, but it was delicious.

The shredded beef with vegetables were a little disappointing. It wasn’t what we expected, not like the one at Peking Garden in Eastwood. The beef weren’t crunchy and was a little hard.

Lastly, Szechuan fish (barramundi) stew and WOW. Check out all the chili! It was a huge bowl of chili spicy goodness!

The barramundi was cut into pieces and it was fresh, firm texture and cooked to perfection! The chili was amazing, however, it was a little oily. However, my taste buds were all tingly, funny and lost all taste buds. It was good though, however, had to pause to get my taste buds back!

It was a wonderful meal and reasonably priced (around about $110 for all). Service was efficient, and we all left feeling extremely satisfied. I love the intensity of the spiciness and the bursting of flavours. Definitely not for the faint heart.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

‘The Mother’s’ ratings: 7.5 / 10

Spicy Panda

Level 1, 8 Dixon St
Haymarket, 2000

Ph: +61 2 9262 7007

Spicy Panda on Urbanspoon

Gumshara, Kimama Kitchen and Boxing Day sale

Can you believe that I have never gone to the Boxing Day sale ever? This year was the first time, and I can understand why I have never participated – but more on that later.

My parents, brother, f and sis-in-law were talking about going to the Boxing Day sale, and I thought I would join them. We thought we would feed our stomachs before shopping, which was a brilliant idea! I can’t for the life of me shop when hungry, the mind can’t think about anything else but food – quite tragic really but that’s the truth. We met at Chinatown, I was telling my brother about this ramen place Gumshara Ramen and he was keen to try. Can you believe that I too haven’t tried it? ‘The Mother’ is not a big ramen fan, so have never really suggested it to him.

Located in Eating World Harbour Plaza and known for one of the best Tonkotsu Ramen in Sydney, my brother F had to try it. He is a MASSIVE ramen fan and one of his favourites is Ryo’s in Crowsnest.

The menu is not that extensive, eight or nine different types of ramen, ranging from light soup, thick soup, garlic and many more. If ramen is not your thing, then they do have a couple or rice dishes, however ramen is their specialty. Apparently each pot of broth is made from 120kgs of fresh pork bones and water! WOW that’s a LOT of pork!

F opted for the special 20 bowls of Tonkostu Ramen with Pork Ribs, with soft boiled egg – I probably would have ordered the same thing, however, I didn’t feel like ramen that day. Apparently you can request your soup to be thicker or less, however, F didn’t realize this so his soup was EXTRA thick! It was a rich and gelatinous soup – thick and full of flavours. F didn’t really enjoy it, as it was too thick, I thought it was a tad salty, however my sis-in-law, O absolutely loved it. I couldn’t help but ask if I could have some. The noodles were tender and the pork ribs, my my – it was incredibly succulent, crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. It was a generous serving of pork ribs and as salty as the soup was, I couldn’t help but ask for more and slurp my noodles – like a lady of course!

F still prefers Ryo’s, my sis-in-law prefers the soup here, but thought overall Ryo’s was still better. I couldn’t really judge as I am not expert in ramen but I did like the pork though – the pork was absolutely delicious!

Mum and I didn’t feel like ramen, so went next door to Kimama Kitchen to order a couple of things. I wanted the eel, and Mum wanted the Karage don, with a choice of home-made sauce, wasabi mayonnaise.

I love unagi, and almost always, order it if and when it is on the menu. It was a generous serving of eel, on mountain of rice. The eel was divine, it was moist, succulent and deliciously rich! I couldn’t help but eat the whole thing myself!

Mum opted for the chicken karage and they were fantastic! Generous amount of deep fried chicken, they were crispy on the outside and deliciously moist on the inside and topped with wasabi mayonnaise. I couldn’t help but steal a couple of pieces – it did satisfy my chicken karage cravings!

Full and stuffed, we were ready for shopping and waddled down to Pitt Street. Little did I know that all of Sydney was also going to be there. Check out the crowds on the corner of Market and George Street. One would think they were giving things out for free! I felt as though I was in Mongkok, Hong Kong – I have never ever seen THAT many people in Sydney. It was seriously crazy and crazier that I was there!

Sadly, I only bought one thing – a dress and we spent a good three to four hours at both Myers and David Jones. Not sure what we were thinking, I am not sure if I will be participating in another Boxing Day sale. It was just insane!!!

I did manage to go for another run that evening, need to burn off all that eating from Christmas. It turned out to be a glorious afternoon, considering it was raining and grey in the morning. Sydney at its best….

Gumshara: GA’s rating: 7.5 / 10

Eating World Harbour Plaza

Shop 209, 25-29 Dixon St

Haymarket, 2000

Gumshara Ramen on Urbanspoon

Kimama Kitchen: GA’s rating: 7.5 / 10

Eating World Habour Plaza

Shop207, 25-29 Dixon St

Haymarket, 2000

Kimama Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The big event…. the wedding!

The event that we have all been waiting for – the wedding! Baby bro was finally getting married to his beautiful wife. They found the date – auspicious date one year ago, and booked both the church and the reception straight away. They got married at the same place as ‘The Mother’ and I. St Peter Chanel in Hunters Hill and East Ocean for a traditional Chinese banquet. Thankfully it didn’t rain the whole day, they managed to squeeze in a photo shoot without the down pour, and got some wonderful shots!

It started at 9am, tea ceremony for both families. Since married, I am supposed to give red packets to those that are unmarried. Thankfully, now that F is married, I no longer have to give him any red packets for Chinese New Year! Sorry baby bro – that was the last, until you have kids, then it will be your kids that will be receiving the red packets.

The ceremony was gorgeous, it was the second time that ‘The Mother’ and I went to St Peter Chanel and it brought back many happy memories. I can’t believe that it has been three years since we last got married, it only seemed like yesterday that we were there, ‘The Mother’ waiting at the altar as I was about to enter.

F stood proud with his best man and groomsmen whilst he waited for his beautiful bride to enter the church. She was gorgeous, O was beautiful – I was so happy for him and welcomed my new sis-in-law in the family!

The reception was at East Ocean. I was MC-ing that evening, was a little nervous so poured myself a glass (or maybe two) of wine. The red wine went down smoothly, and before I knew it, I was relaxed, swaying and was ready to take on the dance floor! They had a beautiful Chinese banquet, ‘The Mother’ said to me ‘The food is surprisingly nice’ – as we were too busy mingling and taking photos that we didn’t have any at our own wedding. My cousin replied ‘well your wife isn’t enjoying it for the second time’ – which was true. I managed to eat bits and pieces but most of the stuff was rather lukewarm by the time I got to it. I didn’t realize MC-ing would be such a hard and stressful thing to do. But I have to say, I did have  a lot of fun, and had to return the favour!

The menu consisted of eight courses plus fried rice and noodles and desserts.

First: roasted suckling pig collation. You would think after eating that much suckling pig I would be sick of it? Alas NO! Who are you kidding? I LOVE suckling pig and this suckling pig was phenomenal. Crispy skin, tender and succulent meat, and the jelly fish was just perfect, soft, chewy and delightful.

Second: braised whole dried scallop with black moss. I had this cold as I was running around trying to sort photos and what not. The scallops were tender and succulent, ‘The Mother’ really enjoyed this, but unfortunately for me, it was a tad cold and I just picked at it.

Third: deep fried crab claw. When I saw this, I made sure I went to the table, I had to have this especially when it was hot! The crab claw was seriously awesome, lightly battered and deep fried, and the crab was juicy and succulent. This was awesomely good and one of my favourite dish.

Fourth: braised shark fin soup and shredded chicken and crab meat. The shark fin soup was tasty, bursting with flavours from the shredded chicken and crab meat. It was good, so good that ‘The Mother’ had FOUR BOWLS!!! Apparently there were spares, and since no one wanted them, he was more than happy to demolish each and every single bowl! Greedy?

Fifth: live lobster in superior broth. I am usually not a fan of eating lobster at restaurants, but when I saw a huge plate of it, how could I say no? Thankfully I got one of those ‘good’ pieces, where I didn’t have to use my hands and could just eat it straight away. The lobster was sensational! LOVE!

Sixth: Sliced abalone with sea cucumber. I LOVE sea cucumber and it has been a while since Mum made it. ‘The Mother’ ate the sliced abalone but didn’t want the sea cucumber so no guessing who ate it!

Seventh: Steamed live coral trout with ginger and shallot. This was incredibly tasty! The fish was fresh, and cooked to perfection. It was tender, and the ginger and shallot was a great complement. ‘The Mother’ loved this and if there were any spare, I am sure he would have eaten it.

Eighth: BBQ Crispy Pigeon. I was getting full by this stage and I usually love eating pigeon. Unfortunately, I could not eat anymore, so gave it to my cousin W. He loved it, he said that the pigeon was succulent and the skin deliciously crispy.

The next two courses I really didn’t eat. It was just too much. The special fried rice in lotus leaves and e-fu noodle in oyster sauce. I was incredibly full!

To be honest, I don’t remember seeing the sweet red bean and lotus seed soup! I was busy trying to catch up with family and friends that I really didn’t see the soup being served. Either that or someone must have eaten it!

The assorted Chinese cookies were a hit! There were two types, one being pineapple bread which I love (!!!!), and the other is coconut cookies which I thought was nice but nothing special.

Fruit platter of watermelon, orange and honey dew were fresh and refreshing.

Last but not least the wedding cake.

My cousin, R and her friend V, made our wedding cake. V also made my brothers cake and it’s a delicious chocolate cake, quite dense, not sickly sweet and simply mouth watering! The chocolate center was gooey, sticky and creamy, If only we had vanilla bean ice cream – that would definitely have been perfect!

We danced the night away, ‘da boys’ even sang I Swear together, it was definitely one unforgettable night!

Below is the Chinese character to ‘double happiness’. To my brother and sis-in-law – congratulations! To love, laughter and a happy after, may you both have a long a happy life filled with many children.

GA’s rating: 7.5 / 10

East Ocean Restaurant

421 Sussex Street

Haymarket, 2000

Ph: +61 2 9212 4198

East Ocean on Urbanspoon

Explosive flavours, Red Chili Sichuan Restaurant, Haymarket

I love spicy food, the spicier the better. So when our friend, M, suggested Red Chili Sichuan Restaurant, I knew we had to go! Apparently there are two locations in Chinatown, one in Burwood and one in Glebe. We went to the one in Harbour Plaza, opposite the Holiday Inn, which I think is the newer one out of the two in Chinatown.

When we got there, there was a queue of people waiting. I had made reservations, but it didn’t really matter, as we still had to wait for another 15 mins, and there were no tables inside! ‘The Mother’, M, and I were happy to sit outside, it wasn’t that cold, and frankly we didn’t want to wait any longer than we had too as we were ravenous!

The menu was extensive! There were so many choices that it took us a while to decide and the pictures on the menu looked fantastic that we wanted one of each – clearly our eyes were bigger than our stomach! So after careful consideration and discussions, we finally agreed on five dishes, two entrees and three mains – yes, for the three of us!

We started with the drunken chicken, and we have had this dish many many times, however, this one beats the rest. The chicken was tender and succulent, served at room temperature (instead of cold straight from the fridge), sprinkled with sesame seeds and drenched in chili oil. It was seriously spicy and seriously delicious.

Next came the fried duck, I love duck, but unfortunately, this dish was quite ordinary. It was good but I think it could have been a lot better. The duck meat was tender, and skin was crispy, however, it was a little on the boney side. Judging by the demolition of this dish by both M and ‘The Mother’, they must have utterly enjoyed it.

Stir fried shredded pork in Peking sauce and shallots were served with paper thin pancake. The pork was succulent and the Peking sauce deliciously scrumptious. It can be eaten with or without the pancake. My only gripe would be that we were only given FOUR pancakes! FOUR! Also, I think it would have been better, if it was a little spicier.

The next dish was the highlight of the evening – Chef’s Special Fish – EXTREMELY HOT! And by ‘hot’ I don’t mean temperature hot. One whole fish, cut into thin fillets, served in a large bowl of bokchoy and chili. It was like an endless pit, there were so many fish fillets I lost count how many servings I had. Diners next to us glanced at our dish in awe, thinking how on earth will they finish this? They were right, we couldn’t finish it, it was just way too much! This dish was outstanding, the fish were fresh, texture firm, and the chili was just amazing! I forgot what it tastes like to have your taste buds all tingly and funny. I loved it!

Here is a close up of the fish, there were fish under the mountain of chilies!

Last but not least, a small bowl boiled dumplings with hot and sweet chili sauce. The dumplings were filled with pork and vegetables, they were slippery, they were spicy and they were frigging awesome! We demolished them within minutes, even when we were all complaining how full we were.

It was reasonably priced, unfortunately, service is so so, like many Chinese restaurants you find in Chinatown. Red Chili Sichuan definitely lived up to its name. It is incredibly tasty and bursting with flavours. Not for those with a faint heart! They do serve non spicy food, but their specialty is ‘Red Chili’! I think we all enjoyed it and even better that we took some of the Chef’s Special Fish home!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Shop 108 – 111 / 25 – 29 Harbour Plaza

Haymarket, 2000

Ph: +61 2 9211 8130

Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Meet Fresh, Taiwanese Dessert, Haymarket

Ever wondered what the queue on the corner of Goulburn and Dixon Street is all about? The one next to restaurant Mamak?

It’s a newly opened Taiwanese dessert house Meet Fresh. They have over 100 Meet Fresh outlets in Taiwan, and this is the first one opened in Australia. I suggested this place to my brother and my sis-in-law to be one evening after dinner.

I can’t believe that we waited 30 mins in line – I NEVER ever line up for food, but was keen to see what all the fuss was about and it was a great way to catch up with the family!

Unfortunately, we couldn’t really see the menu until we were near the entrance. There were so many different options that it took us a while to decide what we wanted. There were taro ball desserts, herbal jelly, tofu pudding, and many more. You can also add extra pearls, taro ball etc for a small amount. The cost of the dessert ranged from $5 – $6, and extra toppings costs about 60c.

My brother F, opted for the Herbal Jelly no.6 (jelly cake, noodle jelly and pearls). Don’t be put off by the ‘Herbal’ bit, it really isn’t anything herbal. It is more like grass jelly, a little tasteless but with syrup, it gives it that sweetness flavour. The Herbal Jelly is served on a mountain of shaved ice, with syrup and topped with Herbal Jelly, jelly cake, noodle jelly and pearls. It was refreshing and deliciously sweet. The jelly cake, lemon flavoured was deliciously sweet, bouncy and chewy, the noodle jelly tasted a little bit like coconut and the pearls, perfect, soft and chewy just the way I like it. Apparently the pearls are made from mashed taro and sweet potato – it was delicious! If only all bubble tea drinks has that perfect, soft and chewy texture.

I ordered the Taro Balls no.1 (green bean, lotus and pearl). Again this was served on a bed of crushed ice, this time, you can actually see the crushed ice. The taro balls chewy and tasty. As refreshing as it was, I found this dessert to be on the sweet side, sweeter than the herbal jelly.

My sis-in-law, O, had the signature herbal dessert. This was quite simple, herbal jelly and taro balls, again served on a mountain of shaved ice. We were given creamers for the dessert, but we didn’t use any of it.

If  herbal jelly and taro balls aren’t your thing, you can also order tofu fah, traditional tofu pudding, available either cold or hot. You can also order the crushed ice desserts, or even drinks, black or milk tea served in the cool square jam jar! Of course all of that can be topped with lotus, red bean, peanut, pearls, lemon, taro balls and many more. Whatever tickles your fancy!

We probably should have shared two desserts between the three of us, the servings are quite generous and we were extremely full afterwards.

Open till late, which is perfect for a late night snack and for summer! Oh summer….

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Meet Fresh

13 Goulburn Street (Corner of Dixon Street)

Haymarket, Chinatown, Sydney

Ph: +61 2 8339 1031

Meet Fresh on Urbanspoon