SHUK North Bondi

Hello Everyone and welcome back to our final Review Sunday for the year! Your read that right, and if you were able to catch my review last Sunday, you would’ve already known that I am stopping Review Sundays for a while. I have pretty much covered all the restaurants and cafés that I have visited over the past few months when I was in Sydney, and I have not been café hopping since I got back to Brunei. Instead of reviews on Sundays, I will be posting some of my design work on the blog.

All that aside, let’s get down to the review! So I’ve been wanting to go to this place for a very long time now and have had many opportunities to visit, but was always shot down for various reasons. The first time I tried to come here was for a brunch outing with Jialing and Yvonne. Yvonne was feeling under the weather at that time and said that she didn’t want to travel so far for brunch. The second time I tried to go there was with Jialing and her boyfriend for lunch; shot down again because he didn’t want to go to a place that has anything to do and/or supports Israel – just some firm beliefs and political issues he has with the country. So for my farewell brunch, I didn’t let anyone tell me otherwise because this would be the very last opportunity I’d have to go to this place. So how I came to know about SHUK was purely by just discovering eating places that I have never been to before. I came across a lot of places, but SHUK really spoke out to me, especially their Isralei Breakfast.

So yes, as mentioned above, I invited a few of my very close friends to come out and have brunch under the beautiful winter sun. Amongst the people who came out to see me were Annie, Daniel, Edison, Greta, Kevin, and Sophia. I know, you’re probably asking, where’s Jialing and Yvonne? Something happened the night before where Jialing couldn’t make it to brunch that morning. Yvonne technically had no excuse, but still ended up waking up late and therefore did not make it to brunch. I did however see her for a bit after brunch.

“The place is unstoppable. It’s Israeli by heart, Mediterranean on paper, Bondi by postcode and very Australian in its multicultural scope.” — Ryan O’Kane in GoodFood.

This café, bakery, and deli draws inspiration from the Hebrew term SHUK, which means marketplace. SHUK is North Bondi’s own marketplace where the freshest produce and dishes offered promises a flavour of Israel mixed with modern favourites for locals and tourists alike. Their menu is directly influenced by Arabic, Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisines, and of course is inspired by Israeli dishes that the owners of SHUK grew up with, sharing with us what they’ve learnt from their families back home.

ALL DAY

SHUK: Green Shakshuka
GREEN SHAKSHUKA: Baked eggs, fennel, zucchini , kale, caramelised onion, feta, olives, and sourdough ($16.00) with extra chorizo (+$3.50)

If I ever have the chance to go back again, I would definitely order this dish. It looks like it would taste really good, I mean, of course it tasted good according to my friends who ordered it and didn’t share one bite (I forgive you Kevin). Edison was too far away from me to share, because I know he’d share 🙂 It is also a healthy vegetarian dish if you minus the chorizo add ons on the other dish!

SHUK: Hummus & Lamb
HUMMUS AND LAMB: House made hummus with 8-hour slow cooked lamb, served with pickles, olives, bread, and zhug ($18.00)

This dish that Sophia ordered looked amazing, and even the combination of hummus and slow cooked lamb was hard to resist. On their menu you could have hummus and mushroom as another option, and I remember when Sophia ordered this, she asked our waitress, “I really like lamb, but I also like mushrooms, so I was wondering if I can have the hummus and lamb with mushrooms as well?” The waitress said she’d ask but by the looks of the photograph, I don’t think she got her mushrooms. Anyway, I had a bit of her dish and it was delicious. The lamb was tender and juicy, and the hummus complimented it well. I can’t remember if it was from her dish, or Kevin’s, but I remembered eating the olives from someones dish because they didn’t like it.

BREAKFAST

SHUK: Israeli Breakfast
ISRAELI BREAKFAST: 2 eggs of your choice, Israeli salad, olives, labn’e, butter, house jam, avocado, and yoghurt with granola ($21.00)

This was the dish that I ordered. To be honest, even though it look spectacular in front of me, served in a massive pan with little bowls of everything, that was all it was. Don’t get me wrong, it was a bad dish, it’s just that he flavours and everything were average and nothing really blew my socks off. Also, when I got the dish, I felt like something was missing; I had all these spreads but no bread to put it on, so I had to call a waiter and ask for some toast for my dish. I still liked this dish; I only wished it impressed me more.

SHUK: SHUK Porridge
SHUK PORRIDGE: Oats, puffed whole grains, banana, dulce de leche, and roasted nuts ($13.00)

Now I know Daniel to be quite health conscious, so it was no surprise that he’d go for this dish (well except for the fact that it has dulce de leche in it). Daniel was sitting across the table from me so it was hard to want to try a little bit of his dish. From where I was sitting though, he seemed to enjoy his porridge, but I think he was a little bit upset by the fact that he ordered some smoked salmon on the side. Why was he upset? The side was priced at $4.00, and he got a puny bowl of it.

SANDWICHES

SHUK: House Cured Salmon
HOUSE CURED SALMON: House cured salmon with sour cream & dill, pickled cucumber, and spinach on an Israeli roll ($13.00)

I’m surprised that even though Greta sat next to me, I didn’t get to try her roll at all, well only because it’s kind of hard to bite into someones sandwich I guess. I did ask her how her dish was and she said it was very good. She had actually been thinking of going to SHUK for some time as well and thanked me for choosing this place as it then gave her to opportunity to.

SPECIALS

SHUK: SHUK Special

I’m sorry but I completely forgot what this dish was – it was on their specials menu which meant that it wasn’t listed out on their regular menu. A little back story here, so one of my friends, Annie, who came late to the brunch, went inside the café and ordered this dish. When he dish came out, she told us that it was one of the specials that they had for that week. We never asked the waitress who served our table what the specials were, and frankly she didn’t think to mention it to us as well, so I guess it’s no one’s fault. Also, because of that, I didn’t know what dish she ordered, nor did I remember to ask her what dish she ordered. I think she mentioned it, but it’s been more than a month since I was at SHUK, so it has already slipped my mind. So I did have a bite of the burger, I believe it was beef, and one too many sweet potato fries *cheeky grin* The fries, to die for, and the burger patty was tender and juicy.

Overall, I’m actually quite impressed with the food served up at my farewell brunch. It was actually quite a packed Saturday morning when I got there, but I was able to snag a table within 5 minutes of arriving. I’m just glad that they didn’t kick me out of the table because I had to wait a good half hour for the next three people to arrive, and an hour for the rest to come. We basically had the table for an hour before we even started ordering… Oops! Besides that, they can accommodate quite a lot of people in their restaurant, both indoors and outdoors. The service was pretty good, the waiters and waitresses who served our table were quick with requests and food came out very quickly too I might add. I’d give ambience/environment and service a clear 8/10 for our experience that day. I must say that I was quite surprised that the food served was fairly priced, though I’m not sure if I’d pay $21.00 for the Israeli Breakfast, but other than that, the other dishes definitely looked like you got your money’s worth; 8/10. The food looked amazing and some impressed more than others; 8/10.

SHUK is open everyday for breakfast and lunch, and dinners on Friday and Saturday night until 10pm. If I ever find myself in Sydney again, I would definitely hit this place up again and try dishes from their lunch and dinner menu as they look very enticing. As to quote Greta on that day, “you should just keep coming back and leaving so that we’ll have endless farewells.” Thank you Greta! 🙂

SHUK North Bondi
2 Mitchell Street
North Bondi, New South Wales
Australia, 2026

– Ally xx

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Mr. Crackles

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Just a little heads up, next week Sunday will the the last Sunday that I will be doing reviews. I’ve come to a point where I’ve pretty much covered all of the places I’ve been to when I was in Sydney and haven’t been to restaurants, cafés, and/or eateries around Brunei – well I have, but I haven’t been in a I-need-to-take-a-picture-of-this-so-I-can-review-it-for-later kind of mood lately. Don’t fret! I will still be posting on Sundays, they just won’t be reviews. Instead, I will be sharing with you some of my design works since I believe that the last time I posted anything design related on my blog was about a year ago; so you’ve got that to look forward to!

Back on topic, today I will be reviewing one of the best places, in my opinion, to get a fairly priced roll of tender, succulent, crispy-skinned pork crackling. Excuse me for a second while I wipe the drool that just dribbled down my chin as I typed that. Only kidding, but seriously, if you’re ain’t watching your calories, this is where you need to be at every opportunity you get! I’ve passed this place so many times before as it’s within probably a 10-minute walk away from campus, but I’ve never really gone inside and tried their rolls until August of last year I think (and I had been living in Sydney since 2011)! My high school friend (and still friends now) Andrew was visiting from Brunei/UK and I decided to take him here for lunch before his flight back to Melbourne, and then Brunei, eventually to the UK. Of course Jialing was with us too; no food adventure would be complete with my partner in crime.

The second time I came here was the Christmas of 2014 I believe, and that was when I saw my friend Marissa post a photo of their special Christmas roll; apple sauce and cranberry relish paired with crispy pork?! Hells yes! Of course I went back with Jialing; she indulged in her Sticky BBQ Pork again. I think I may have gone back a couple times more before I introduced this place to my family when they were over for my graduation in June. Everyone, and of course myself included, loved this place, and how I wish that a Mr. Crackles existed on one of the side streets of Brunei. I’d be their number 1 customer hands down!

ROLLS

Mr. Crackles: Crackles Christmas Roll
ROLL OF THE MONTH (DECEMBER 2014)
Crackles Christmas Roll: Crispy pork, apple sauce, cranberry relish, and herb crumb ($13.50)

As mentioned above, I could not resist saying no to this little gem. I think what got me was the apple sauce and cranberry relish; first, you can’t go wrong with crispy pork crackling being paired with some apple sauce. Secondly, the cranberry relish to really pull the idea of Christmas together in this man-sized roll. The pork was, as always, cooked perfectly; tender, juicy meat with a satisfying crispy crackling for that crunch we all look for in a great roast pork. Everything else complimented the roll nicely.

Mr. Crackles: Braised Beef Cheek
ROLL OF THE MONTH (MAY 2015)
Braised beef cheek, parmesan mash, and gremolata crumble in a soft bun ($13.50)

I mean, I know the presentation of this roll is less enticing and extravagant than that of the other rolls, but trust me when I say that this is one pretty amazing combination of tender braised beef cheeks and parmesan mash in a soft bun. I had actually forgotten that there was mash in this bun when I came around to eating it. This was only because the mash isn’t actually visible when you first look at the bun; it was hidden below the braised beef cheeks. When I took a bite and realised that there was in fact parmesan mash in it, it was a nice surprise indeed. If this special ever comes around again, be sure not to miss out on it!

Mr. Crackles: Sticky BBQ Pork
STICKY BBQ PORK
Smokey bbq, ranch, salad, and onion rings in a soft bun ($13.50)

I must say that amongst the other rolls, this was by far the best looking one out of the bunch. I mean, I still love and prefer a nice crispy pork on my roll, but this was just something else. Onion rings in your bun? Don’t mind if I do! Smokey, sticky, check! A bit messy to eat if you’re biting into it instead of being posh and using cutlery, but who cares really.

Mr. Crackles: Crackles Classic
CRACKLES CLASSIC
Crisp skinned slow roast 5 spiced pork belly served with Vietnamese salad in a roll ($13.00)

You’ve heard me talk about the crispy pork before in the Crackles Christmas Roll, so it’s basically that, tender, juicy meat with a satisfying crispy crackling, with a nice touch of fresh Vietnamese salad to compliment the meat.

Mr. Crackles: Manwich
MANWICH
Twice the meat and half the salad on any of our famous rolls ($17.00)

Its like their Crackles Classic Roll only twice as much meat on it for a man-sized bite, but who says women can’t have it too?

SIDES

Mr. Crackles: Crispy Pork Nacho Fries
CRISPY PORK NACHO FRIES ($12.00)

This would’ve been flawless for me if it weren’t for the tomato sauce(?) in the nachos. I can’t quite put my finger on what it tasted like to me, but all I know was that it was a bit strong and acidic for my liking. I had to pick out the fries that were least covered in the sauce as I did not want it to go to such a shameful waste. In the end, I ended up leaving about a third of the fries behind, but still eating all of the yummy crispy pork of course!

Mr. Crackles: Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip
BUFFALO WINGS ($9.00) + blue cheese dip ($1.00)

The chicken packed just the right amount of heat in them and let’s be real here, you can’t possibly go wrong with buffalo wings AND blue cheese dip! These were delicious indeed.

Mr. Crackles: Cup of Crackling
CUP OF CRACKLING ($5.00)

When I first saw these cups of magical cracklings, I knew I needed to devour one. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with them as they weren’t quite what I had imagined them to be. They were a bit too salty for my liking, hard, and dry. I prefer the crackling on top of those pieces of meat on their rolls than this crackling.

Mr. Crackles is like a Western take on a classic Vietnamese pork roll. Overall, if you want your daily fix of crispy pork crackling, be it in a roll, salad, or topped with your nacho fries, then Mr. Crackles is the place for you. I’d say that their rolls are reasonable priced for the size you get, therefore I’d give value for money an 8/10. For those who haven’t been to Mr. Crackles on Oxford Street just somewhat opposite Taylor Square, you’ll notice that they have very limited seating – 8 seats to be exact. Every time I go there though, I still manage to snag a seat and that’s only because everyone that goes there gets their rolls to go. I guess I can’t really judge the ambience of the place seeing as it’s more of a place where you’d grab your food and eat elsewhere, but if you do end up sitting down at the place to have your food, it’s quite loud from all the traffic noise on Oxford Street. It can also get a wee bit crowded if you go during peak hour, which is usually lunch and dinner I’m guessing. I saw crowded because you’ve got a lot of people lining up and waiting around for their order. If I were to give the place a rating, I’d say 7/10 as it’s alright as a takeaway place, but I’d give it a 4/10 for a sit down place. Besides that, I’m pretty sure you all know that I’m definitely going to give the food a sure 10 for the rolls. The sides had some minor issues with me, but nothing too big that would make me take it out on the rest of the menu. You can’t fault a perfectly great roast pork like that from Mr. Crackles! If you can, than you are not my friend.

Mr. Crackles
155 Oxford Street
Darlinghurst, New South Wales
Australia, 2010

– Ally xx

South Dowling Sandwiches

South Dowling Sandwiches

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday on the blog! Where do I even begin with South Dowling Sandwiches? I’m not quite sure how many weeks into my first year of university it was when my friend Simon introduced me to this little shop on South Dowling Street just about a 5 minute walk away from the [then] COFA campus. What caught my eye at first was their sandwich signage that hung above their petit establishment, and thus I called it ‘the sandwich shop’ whenever I referred to it amongst my friends. It wasn’t only until a year or so later that I realised they were actually called South Dowling Sandwiches.

Anyway, my friend Simon and I decided to get a different sandwich each, and share the other half with each other so that we’d get the best of both worlds. I got the chicken schnitzel on brown bread while he got the leg ham on white, no extras included at that time. The size of these ginormous sandwiches freaked me out just a little bit because they were insanely massive, which I guess it’s a good thing because then they were definitely worth the seven bucks.

South Dowling Sandwiches

To be honest, I don’t think I was a regular customer at South Dowling Sandwiches; I don’t know for what reason because right now I can’t think of a good enough excuse to skip out on a delectable Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich, especially when I grew into a new found love for their caramelised carrots! Those that know me oh-so well also know that I accidentally on purpose forget to bring my lunch to uni on Monday’s just so that I can have my weekly dose of Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich on brown bread with extra Caramelised Carrots.

South Dowling Sandwiches

This is the best sandwich in the world; like if this sandwich was a man, I’d marry it. I’m serious.

I’m  serious. I totally captioned that on a photo I posted on Instagram 16 weeks ago when I was on a date with my Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich on brown bread with extra Caramelised Carrots. PS: May I also add that these sandwiches are MASSIVE and that there’s no way you can eat this with finesse. Herb mayo all over your hands and mouth? Been there, done that too many times.

All-in-all, I would like to thank South Dowling Sandwiches for feeding me for the past four years of my university degree. I apologise that it has taken me this long to write a review for you guys on my blog, but honestly, if I had written it last year, all you’d be seeing are pictures of my absolute favourite, the Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich on brown bread with extra Caramelised Carrots. I’ve tried to branch out from my regular (but could sense betrayal from the Schnitz as I did), so I brought along my many friends and family whom I managed to steer them away from my regular so that I could provide you with a range of their dishes on this review:

SALADS

All salads consist of lettuce, rocket, roma tomato, green beans, cucumber, red cabbage, potato salad, grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, mushroom, caramelised carrots, lentil, capsicum, beetroot, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil

South Dowling Sandwiches: Vegi Salad
VEGI ($10.50)

This was the very first dish that my Mom had when she first arrived in Sydney last May. I suggested that she try the veggie salad because I know she loves vegetables and tries to eat it more often. She really liked this salad, especially the little lentils and the caramelised carrots (which she thought at first was sweet potato). I don’t think she’s had a salad like this before, and when I say that I mean with so many different things going on in one bowl.

South Dowling Sandwiches: Chilli Chicken Salad
CHILLI CHICKEN ($11.50)

Pretty much the same as the sandwich I guess, just that you get the whole veggie works as well! Also, with the salads, you can ask to not include some veggies that you don’t particularly fancy, like how I always ask for no beetroot and cucumber, but add just a touch more carrots 😛

South Dowling Sandwiches: Chicken Schnitzel Salad
CHICKEN SCHNITZEL ($11.50)

I think the first time I ordered the salad instead of the sandwich was the first time I got to taste the magic of the caramelised carrots, and ever since I never fail to get the extra carrots with my sandwich (of course, there were a few times they had run out of the carrots and it completely shattered my heart). I remember the guy behind me in line even commented jokingly  when he saw the devastation in my face: “It’s all about the carrots, why else would we be here?” I think the salad is just as good as the sandwich, just that with the salad, as I have already stated above, you obviously get more veggies!

SANDWICHES

Special sandwiches include potato salad, avocado, caramelised carrots, boiled egg, tomato, and cheese (+$5.00)

South Dowling Sandwiches: Leg Ham Sandwich
LEG HAM: Honey mustard, herb mayo, bocconcini, roma tomato, lettuce, and rocket on brown bread ($7.50)

Where do I even begin? I think the last time I had the leg ham sandwich was when I had it the first time, as I explained above. My sisters shared this leg ham sandwich when they came to Australia a few months back for a holiday and to attend my graduation. Anyway, they both loved it and thought that it had good flavour to it from the fresh ingredients.

South Dowling Sandwiches: Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich with extra Caramelised Carrots
CHICKEN SCHNITZEL: Herb mayo, lettuce, and rocket on brown bread ($7.50) with extra caramelised carrots (+$1.50)

I mean, if you’ve managed to skip all of the above and went straight to looking at the photographs and write-ups, then you wouldn’t have known that this is the prize winner right here! You most definitely need to have the extra caramelised carrots in this sandwich otherwise why even bother if you don’t?! The Schnitzel is cooked well, crisp and golden brown on the outside, while still it remains tender and juicy in the inside. The caramelised carrots adds a little extra bite a sweetness to the sandwich and the lettuce and rocket adds a touch of freshness and peppery flavours. UH-MAY-ZING.

South Dowling Sandwiches: Chilli Chicken Sandwich
CHILLI CHICKEN: Red pesto, lettuce, and rocket ($7.50)

Next to the Chicken Schnitzel is the Chilli Chicken, which is also another famous order amongst the many customers that go in and out of South Dowling Sandwiches. Whenever I get the chance to sit in their little place, I always hear people ordering either the Chicken Schnitzel or the Chilli Chicken sandwich. I’ve tried the Chilli Chicken before, and although it is without a doubt just as delicious as everything else on their menu, it’s not for me. I have no issues with it whatsoever, I just can’t part away from my OTP 😛 But anyway, they definitely know the true meaning of chilli when they say chilli chicken – the chicken packs a lot of heat which makes it oh-so good.

Overall, a great place to get your (man-sized) sandwich or salad fix; a definite 9/10 for value for money. The great thing about it is that you get to customise your own sandwich/salad as well which is what I love about South Dowling Sandwiches. You get to make YOU in the form of a sandwich/salad. I’m pretty sure you all know that I’ll be giving the Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich on brown bread with extra Caramelised Carrots a sure 10 out of 10; which goes for the rest of their menu. The place could be a bit better I guess (6/10), but it doesn’t bother me that much at all especially when you’re greeted with a warm welcome of a Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich on brown bread with extra Caramelised Carrots – oh and the always smiling owner, Avi, and my friend Celeste. Celeste has been working there ever since I first started coming to SDS (I presume even longer than that as well) but didn’t know her until we met at our mutual friend’s, Pam’s graduation dinner party last year July 🙂 From that day on, I need not tell her my order; she knows it off by heart. Although seating may be limited, it never stops me from dropping by and getting takeaway instead to eat it on campus since it’s only a 5 minute walk away; but if there’s a table available (which there always is whenever I pop by), then I always stay and have small conversations with Avi and my friend Celeste.

South Dowling Sandwiches: with Celeste & Avi

I’m so sad that I can’t just hop on a bus and travel to South Dowling Sandwiches for some sandwich love, but even though I am no longer in Sydney, I still keep up to date on what’s going on through their Instagram page – they’re soon to open a second branch so stay tuned for that! They could be coming to a place near you!

South Dowling Sandwiches
377 S Dowling Street
Darlinghurst, New South Wales
Australia, 2010

– Ally xx

O Crab Sydney

“O Crab ain’t just another crab shack or seafood diner! The restaurant pays homage to the American seafood pub scene dishing out bags O Crabs with customers breaking out the mallets and getting messy all whilst enjoying a craft beer, or two or three…”

O Crab Sydney

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday on the blog! I actually had this review scheduled for last week, and when I realised that I was going to be covering seafood month, I thought I’d push this review to today as it sits with the theme for the month of September on Amcarmen’s Kitchen. Wow, I just realised that that was a really long sentence! I think I was living with Marissa at the time she came across this restaurant while she was browsing through Instagram for a place for us to have our next girls brunch out. She came across O Crab and asked if I wanted to go; I had a look at the pictures on their Instagram and was already hooked on the idea of crabs in a bag, eating them with disposable aprons, gloves, and a mini Thor hammer. They definitely lived up to their statement of a truly unique dining experience.

It’s been a while since I came and visited O crab, I’m guessing it was somewhere in the middle of winter around late June or early July, so bear with me if I can’t remember what the dish tasted like. Trust me though, you’re going to want to pay them a visit when you get a load of the pictures. Also, before I forget to mention, when we were about to leave the place, the waiter asked us if we wanted to sample their Jolly Rancher Cocktails, which at the time, they weren’t serving on their menu just yet, but now I think they are. It was a Sunday after lunch kind of day and already we were doing vodka shots of Jolly Ranchers haha! We told the waiter to not give Marissa any shots since she was underaged (she wasn’t, but we just wanted to play with her a bit). It tasted really good and I’m glad that it’s on their menu now but sad that I won’t get another opportunity to have a proper drink of it!

O Crab Sydney
One more thing! If you check in on Facebook or upload an image on Instagram with the hashtag #ocrabitson and #ocrabsydney you get a free soft drink! How cool is that? Actually, another thing I remembered when I was just about to post this review, we also got complimentary nachos while waiting for our meals! #winning #sofood #muchfree

FEELIN’ PECKISH…

O Crab Sydney: O Crab Seafood Chowder
O Crab Seafood Chowder: Creamy taste of the sea – mussels, prawns, fish, and seasonal veg served in a freshly baked bread bowl ($12.00)

I love a good chowder, and what better way to warm up from such a cold morning it was that day we trekked to O Crab than a seafood chowder in a bread bowl! It was well seasoned, definitely creamy in texture, and nicely finished with a soggy bread bowl to nom on. Since it was a very long time ago since I had this dish, I can’t remember if there were pieces of fish in the soup or they were all just blended together, but I guess it would’ve been nice to have a few pieces of mussels, prawns, and fish in the there instead of just all soup.

CRABS AND PRAWNS “IN A BAG”

O Crab Sydney: Blue Swimmer Crabs in Original Old Bay
Blue Swimmer Crabs in Original Old Bay: American blend of herbs and spiced seasoning ($25.00 per crab)

I remember this dish very well and because the Original Old Bay sauce was to die for! I remember we were dipping everything we could find, the prawns, fries, and even the bread bowl from our chowder into this sauce because it was just that amazing. Besides the sauce, the crab was also cooked well and had a lot of meat in it (I cannot stress the number of times I’ve had crab that was all shell and no meat).

O Crab Sydney: Snow Crab Cluster in Cajun
Snow Crab Cluster in Cajun: Classic Louisiana style spiced seasoning ($29.00 per cluster)

The seasoning for this crab cluster wasn’t bad but it was my least favourite from the three sauces/seasonings that we picked. Nonetheless, the crab clusters were well cooked, and again packed a lot of meat into those legs so I couldn’t complain. Also, we dipped the crab meat in the Original Old Bay sauce anyway so it was pretty damn good!

O Crab Sydney: 300G Prawns in Garlic Butter
300G Prawns in Garlic Butter: Special blend with herbs ($18.00)

The prawns were pretty good as well, well cooked that they were melt in the mouth kind of good, and the sauce was garlicky, buttery (as you’d imagine garlic butter sauce to be anyway), and simply delicious. There’s really nothing more that I can say about these prawns really; I have no issues with it.

BURGERS & FRIES

O Crab Sydney: O Crabby Patty Burger
O Crabby Patty Burger: O Crab signature spiced crab patty with lettuce, grilled pineapple, and chilli mayo served with original fries ($19.00)

I only had a small bite of the burger only because this was actually Jialing’s dish. She wasn’t too fond of crabs even though she tried very hard to want to like it. So instead, she ordered a burger for herself. I can’t remember what the burger tasted like but I do hope for your sake that the patty is cooked through but still juicy on the inside. That would be perfect. Oh, you can also substitute original fries for sweet potato fries for an extra $2.50 – I don’t know why we didn’t get the sweet potato fries!

O Crab Sydney

I really enjoyed our dining experience at O Crab; I wish I had gone back a second time for some Jolly Rancher Cocktails and more crabs of course! Also, I could not have chosen better people to dine with that day. The food was superb and I really could not fault the dishes that we had; so I’d say the food for me is a sure 9/10. When we got there, the restaurant was in fact empty, which I thought was kind of weird for a weekend and during lunch, but anyway, it meant for a quicker service for us. I guess it was good also in a way that we were then able to sample their Jolly Rancher Cocktail since we were the only ones there. Though it was quiet because we were the only ones there (what am I saying, we were a very noisy table on our own!), the ambience was quite nice and in theme with the whole crab shack/seafood diner vibe of wooden crates and ropes that decorated the restaurant; 8/10. If you’ve got the money to spend on high quality mud crabs then go for it! Mud crabs are based on market price and when we saw their Instagram post from a few weeks ago, a 1.4kg (or something of that weight) mud crabs was going to cost you a whopping $95!!! Other than that, the blue swimmer crab and snow crab cluster are quite affordable; 7/10. I do highly recommend this place if you want some good quality seafood at an American themed crab shack and a beer to go with that.

O Crab Sydney: Aftermath

O Crab Sydney
Suite 2/9 Railway Street
Chatswood, New South Wales
Australia, 2067

– Ally xx

Yeniköy Café and Restaurant

Yeniköy Café and Restaurant

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! I have a quick review for you tonight on the blog, and when I say quick I mean that I will only be covering 3 dishes from this place. I was supposed to go back to this place a few more times to try out their lunch and dinner menu, but I didn’t get to before I left Sydney. Hopefully the dishes I cover today will make you want to give this place a try if you haven’t already paid them a visit. The dishes I will be showing you today are quite simple, but packed with flavour, and I really felt like I was in a different place – Turkey? I’m not sure since I’ve not been. If you want to check out their menu a little bit than what I will be showing you today, click here.

Yeniköy Café and Restaurant

If I remember clearly, Jialing, Yvonne, and I were being indecisive on WhatsApp the night before – well, I wouldn’t say indecisive, more like I wanted to go to a certain place (SHUK to be exact in North Bondi), but Yvonne didn’t want to go too far off from the city because she was sick that day. Then we couldn’t agree on a time because again, BRUNCH at 10am was too early for Yvonne, so we finally came to a compromise to meet at 11am instead so that we wouldn’t miss out on Yeniköy’s breakfast menu.

Anyway! I came across Yeniköy by simply just walking along King Street in Newtown – don’t know when it was or why I was in Newtown in the first place (quite possibly to eat anyway). Also, did you know that Yeniköy is Turkish for “new village” which is a pretty fitting name for a café and restaurant to be residing in  the hip streets of Newtown. I think I walked past Yeniköy a number of times, but had never actually gone in until this brunch of ours. I was quite intrigued by this place, not by the food at first, but the ambience of the place as I quickly glanced through the huge glass windows – “wood furniture, stone panelling, lanterns, and Edison light globes”, Besides that of course, I was intrigued by their menu that’s Turkish with a Modern Australian twist to mix it up a bit.

Even though we all ordered a dish each, we shared everything together so that we could get a little taste of each other’s dishes – I mean, it’s a common thing that we do whenever we eat out tougher anyway 🙂

BREAKFAST MENU

Yeniköy Café and Restaurant - KIYMALI GÖZLEME
KIYMALI GÖZLEME: Beef mince and vegetables gözleme with side vegetables ($13.00)

For those of you who don’t know what a gözleme is, it is basically a savoury traditional Turkish flatbread that is filled with various meat (minced beef, chopped lamb, fresh or smoked seafood, sucuk, pastirma), vegetables (spinach, zucchini, eggplant, leek, chard, various peppers, onion, scallion, shallot, garlic), or a combination of both, and/or cheeses, then sealed and cooked over a griddle. The flatbread is made of hand-rolled dough that is lightly brushed with butter and eggs.

This was the dish that I ordered and wished I had all to myself because it was pretty amazing. I’ve had gözleme before, but only at the Glebe Markets, and those tasted pretty great too. The beef mince filling tasted really good and the flatbread was nice a crisp. The “salad” on the side was a bit disappointing though because it was just a mixed leaf salad with cherry tomatoes and cucumber (which I personally don’t like). I guess that doesn’t matter anyway since the gözleme was the highlight of the dish!

Yeniköy Café and Restaurant - SUCUK BRUSCHETTA
SUCUK BRUSCHETTA: Turkish sausages, tomatoes and eggs on a toasted Turkish bread, topped with melted mozzarella cheese and pomegranate molasses, and served with rocket and side vegetables ($17.00)

This was Yvonne’s dish, and I can’t remember if she liked it or not, but I remember that the only thing I really liked on this plate was the scrambled eggs – light, fluffy, and well seasoned. Again, the side vegetables weren’t anything special, and I don’t know, neither was the bruschetta to be honest. I’m actually not a fan of bread that has been toasted until crisp because then it just becomes too dry for me and too hard to chew, especially the crust – which was what this bruschetta was. I like my bread soft. But hey, the dish wasn’t a bad dish at all, it’s just my personal preference, or I guess, me being picky.

Yeniköy Café and Restaurant - TURKISH SUCUK AND CHEESE PIDE
TURKISH SUCUK AND CHEESE PIDE: Traditional Turkish lamb and beef mince sucuk and cheese pide with a crack egg ($14.00)

Jialing ordered this dish, and before I start, I’m going to tell you a story. So, I can’t exactly remember where or when, but on a different occasion to this, I saw ‘Pide’ on the menu and ordered it, unsure really on how to pronounce the word. So when I ordered it, I pointed at it and hesitantly said to the waitress, “can I have the… pide (pie-duh)“. She knew I was struggling to pronounce it, and she said, “one pide (pee-deh), yeap”. So I told this to Jialing and Yvonne when we saw Pide on the menu. I told them that it’s pronounced pee-deh but Jialing insisted that it was pie-duh because one of our mutual friends said so. To end our not-quite dispute over the word, Yvonne told me to say pie-duh to the waitress and see if she would correct me – I wasn’t going to make a fool out of myself again so when the waitress came over to take our orders, I said pee-deh, but Yvonne butted in and said pretty loudly with an exclamation mark PIE-DUH! I started laughing and so did the waitress, and she said it’s pronounced pee-deh.

Anyway, so now that you know how to pronounce pide (pee-deh), on to the actual dish – it was good, but again nothing really that special to be honest.

To be perfectly honest, I was a little underwhelmed with the dishes that we had at Yeniköy, but obviously, this is just one person’s opinion. I really wished I had gone back for lunch and/or dinner because the dishes that those menus looked more enticing than what we had. All in all, we had a good time because even though the food was mediocre for us, it wasn’t bad at all. We shared a lot of laughs and remembered this day as “the time that Yvonne was sick” (a little inside joke between the three of us), and overall just enjoyed each other’s company in a very nice café on King Street. Ambience and service is a sure 10 out of 10, food a 7 maybe because I still enjoyed the food and their other menus looked great too. Value for money, maybe a 7 too – it’s not overly priced, breakfast that is, not sure about the lunch and dinner menu.

Yeniköy Café and Restaurant
480 King Street
Newtown, New South Wales
Australia, 2042

– Ally xx

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Before I begin, I hope you’ve been enjoying the recipes produced by my guest bloggers, my one true love, Jialing Mew, and of course my new friend Brendon D’Souza, for the past two weeks. I’ve really enjoyed hanging out with them and cooking with them in the kitchen before I left to come back home to Brunei. Stay tuned for the next two weeks, I’ve got another friend who will be guest blogging, and a special someone whom without her, this blog may not even exist!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria

So anyway, for those who have been following my blog for a while now, or those who just know me personally, will know that The Ground of Alexandria is a place I keep going back to for the food and just the overall vibe of the place… oh and for the cute waiters at the Potting Shed as well *cheeky grin* If I did not already mention this in my previous review on the Potting Shed, there is another café/restaurant as well as various food stalls in and around the Grounds. I’ve been to and had food at the Garden Bar three times now and the food never fails to impress my tastebuds and fill my tummy up with delight. The first time I was here, I went alone for the Christmas Markets back in 2014, shopping for gifts for my friends, eating food, and meeting Santa Claus! Would you believe that that was the very FIRST time I ever got to meet Santa and sort of sit on his lap? Yeah, what a childhood I’ve had right? Anyway, Santa said to me “it must be my lucky day!” referring to the fact that he’s had a couple of women taking photos with him before me.

The Grounds of Alexandria

The second time I came back to the Ground and had food at the Garden Bar was with my family when they came to visit for a holiday and my graduation ceremony in early May of this year. I decided to take them to the Garden Bar and enjoy the eats of the various food stalls. There were a lot of people, as usual, and it was difficult to snag a seat for four, but luckily we were able to find one under the lovely winter sun within 15 minutes of arriving. My Mom and my sisters fell completely in love with the food, as well as the atmosphere and overall vibe of the place – just like me. The third time I came back and had food from the Garden Bar was during a catch up session with Vidhya – well, I had been stalking the Instagram page of the Grounds and found out they were selling waffles that weekend so I HAD to go (and drag Vidhya along of course since we planned to hang out that day). Vidhya, if you’re reading this, correct me if I am wrong, I think I made you fall in love with the Grounds as well!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria


Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR BREKKY: BRUNCH BURGER
THE GARDEN BAR BREKKY: BRUNCH BURGER
with halloumi, caramelised onions, and rocket on a brioche bun ($10.00)
add chorizo (+$3.00)

I ordered this burger before when I went to the Grounds by myself during the Christmas festivities. I ordered it with the chorizo, but then completely forgot to add on that as an extra when I ordered it for the family to share. So instead it was a vegetarian burger with extra garlic sauce; nonetheless, it tasted great without, but still would’ve been even better with the chorizo! I think I’ve mentioned this before in many blog posts, and many of my friends know this – I’m not a huge fan of burgers, and even though this tasted pretty good, I am still not a fan of them.

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: JUMBO SALT & PEPPER PRAWNS
THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: JUMBO SALT & PEPPER PRAWNS
crumbed and dressed with garlic, lime, coriander or chilli ($15.00)

THIS. That’s all I pretty much need to say about these prawns really; cooked, crumbed, and seasoned perfectly. The prawns melted in your mouth at every bite and tasted so well with the extra chimichurri sauce I drizzled on top! The prawns were by far my favourite dish from the Garden Bar – was sad to find out that they weren’t on the menu when I returned with Vidhya for round 2! (Side note: extra sauce comes at no price! They’re at the collection counter in massive bottles waiting to be drizzled onto your food!)

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: CHICKEN WINGS (feast for one, 8 wings)
THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: CHICKEN WINGS (feast for one, 8 wings)
crumbed and accompanied with fiery chilli or BBQ basting sauce ($12.00)

Another one of my favourites from the Garden Bar; we ordered the fiery chilli wings and though it wasn’t the fiery that we’re used to, it was still deliciously good, juicy and tender! If you’re tastebuds don’t fancy some spicy wings, I’m sure that the BBQ won’t disappoint. There’s also another option if you want more wings, which is 20 wings for $20.00!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: BBQ CHICKEN ROLL
THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: BBQ CHICKEN ROLL
spit roasted over ironbark & charcoal, served with salsa and your choice of sauce ($12.00)

This Vidhya had when I took her to the Grounds; you have the choice between chicken, beef, or lamb as your meat, and you can either have it as a roll or a salad. Vidhya of course, only eats chicken, thus the chicken roll. I can’t remember if I had a little taste of the roll or not – I’m guessing I didn’t since I can’t remember, but anyway, I’m sure the roll tasted really good since pretty much everything on their menu had been spot on for me. Vidhya seemed to enjoy it 🙂

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: SMASHED AVOCADO
THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: SMASHED AVOCADO
with tomato, feta, dried chilli flakes, and fresh mint from the garden ($9.50)

I’m usually not a fan of ordering smashed avocado when it comes to eating out. The reason being is that it’s basically just a piece of toast with smeared with smashed avocado and topped with feta, tomatoes, etc. Something that I can easily whip up myself at home to be honest. But alas, I knew that going out with Vidhya for “brunch” would turn into late lunch – and surprise surprise! We ended up getting to the Ground at 1pm when we decided to meet up at 11:30am. Anyway, yes so my instincts were right to have something to eat before meeting up with Vidhya to eat again 😛 So since I wasn’t overly starving, smashed avocado was the only light thing on the menu besides the roll/salad, or burger. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the smashed avocado – I mean, you can’t really stuff that up I guess.

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - SIDES: SWEET POTATO FRIES
SIDES: SWEET POTATO FRIES ($8.00)

When you see sweet potato fries on the menu, how can you ignore it?! Drizzled with extra garlic aïoli sauce ❤

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - ORGANIC JUICES: TROPICAL FLAIRORGANIC JUICES: TROPICAL FLAIR
watermelon, pineapple, apple, lime ($8.00)

Refreshingly good!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - GARDEN SMOOTHIES: MANGOGARDEN SMOOTHIES: MANGO
fresh ripe mango, dried mango, and natural low-fat yoghurt with the goodness of chia and flax seeds ($8.50)

Though it wasn’t mango season the time I ordered the drink, it tasted heavenly!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - CHOCOLATE AND RED VELVET WAFFLES
CHOCOLATE AND RED VELVET WAFFLES ($9.00)

THIS IS THE REAL DEAL HERE; basically the main reason why I keep going back to the Grounds. I cannot stress out how many times I’ve been to the Grounds for the waffle stall that left me disappointed on so many occasions. I say disappointed because no matter when, and every time I find myself at the Grounds, the waffle stall was ALWAYS closed. There was one time I even waited around at the Grounds for 2 hours for the stall to open and kept pestering the lady at the dessert stall, asking when the waffle stall would open. I got tired of waiting, and eventually just had food from the Garden Bar and then left. When the Grounds posted a picture of their Chocolate and Red Velvet Waffles on Instagram, I knew I had to make a trip over for them; I was overly happy! Even though I was already so full from all the food I had that day prior to waffle eating, I finished all three waffles (with the help of Vidhya who took one or two small bites because she too was already full). Definitely worth my 9 bucks!

The Grounds of Alexandria

Once again, the Grounds of Alexandria never fail to disappoint me every time I visit. Each time I visit is a different experience; also because I’m with different people whenever I pay a visit to explore the gardens, the markets, indulge in the food. and of course say hi to the various farm animals such as Kevin Bacon the resident pig. The atmosphere and overall vibe of the place is a sure 10 out of 10 for me – it can get very crowded during sunny weekends, but nevertheless, it’s all part of the experience really; I mean, it’s crowded for a reason! Food I’d give a 9 out of 10 (only because I feel I’d be too biased if I gave them a 10 out of 10 for food even though they really deserve the 10). Seating can be a bit of a hassle to find especially when the Grounds is packed with people and kids. Vidhya and I ended up sitting on the ledge of one of the garden beds along with other people, but if you’re okay with that, I see no problem here. The Garden Bar has a good value for money, definitely much cheaper than the Potting Shed for reasons that are apparent anyway in terms of the quality of the food served and the ambience of the Potting Shed in comparison to the gardens. If you haven’t seen my review for the Potting Shed, or want to recap on the dishes from there (the menu might be different from my review and now since seasons have past), click here.

The Grounds of Alexandria

Garden Bar at the Grounds
Building 7A
No. 2 Huntley Street
Alexandria, New South Wales
Australia, 2015

– Ally xx

Belly Bao - BAONANA SPLIT

Belly Bao

Hello Everyone! Finally I’m back with an all new Review Sunday (on a Monday – sorry about that) on the blog! I had a pretty hectic day yesterday and didn’t get around to finishing this post. I spent yesterday morning hanging out with my sister, the afternoon with a fellow food-loving friend, Miao, over some cold drinks and cake, then went to indulge in the not-as-amazing-as-I-thought-it’d-be fireworks display for Singapore’s 50th National Day (might I add also, being sardined between sweaty, wet, and smelly people; it was so gross). Then ended the night meeting Alex, talking about anything and everything while we strolled around the area and eventually made our way to have some food.

So onwards with the review – I’ve only ever been to this place once, but have heard many things about it before it even started shaking up the Sydney scene permanently. I think, that is if I am not mistaken, Belly Bao first started dishing out these buns at various market stalls across Sydney about a year ago. I managed to visit a stall at the Paddington Markets on a Sunday afternoon before the found permanent residency at the GoodGod Small Club in the Sydney CBD.

Belly Bao

So the first and not quite last, but won’t be back in a while kind of thing, time I visited the club was with my friend Marissa on a Thursday, maybe Friday night after she had finished her work. We got to the place at around 6:30pm and the place was already packed. The line to order food was not too long, but a good 20-30minute wait, so while Marissa was lining up to order food, I went around the club quite possibly 7-8 times to look for a seat, and occasionally approach people that looked like they were about to be done, asking if I could have their seats when they were done. Thank goodness I was able to snag a seat for a two just as Marissa was about to be next in line to order the food. So yes, if you do plan on visiting on a Friday or Saturday night, be prepared to hunt down seats for a while and battle the noise a bit (well it is a club after all).

BELLY BAOS

Belly Bao - SLOW BRAISED PORK BELLY
SLOW BRAISED PORK BELLY: Pickled mustard greens, coriander, crushed peanuts, and kewpie mayo ($6.50)

The braised pork belly was well cooked – tender, juicy, and packed with flavour. However, I was not a fan of the pickled mustard greens and the coriander. I was able to look past these because it was actual a delicious bao overall. Perhaps a little bit more kewpie mayo or a spoonful of the stock that the belly was braised it would have been nice as it did feel a bit dry with the steamed bun.

Belly Bao - CRACKLING ROAST PORK BELLY
CRACKLING ROAST PORK BELLY: Crackling, pickled radish, coriander, and kewpie mayo ($6.50)

Though I did not have this bao when I was at the club, I did have this when I visited their Paddington Market stall before they opened permanently at GoodGod. Like the first bao, this was also as delicious as the first – tender, juicy pork belly with a nice crispy crackling skin.

Belly Bao - SOFT SHELL CRAB
SOFT SHELL CRAB: Watercress, chilli aïoli, and lemon vinaigrette ($7.50)

Now, I love a good soft shell crab, however I was kind of disappointed with this bao just because the soft shell crab wasn’t as crispy as it could be. It had a bit of a crunch, which I’m guessing came from the shell of the crab anyway, and it was a bit chewy more than crispy. Although I really wanted to love it, it was a sad let down. If it had been the crispy soft shell crab aI hoped it’d be, it would’ve been a great bao especially paired with the chilli aïoli and lemon vinaigrette!

SIDES & SNACKS

Belly Bao - Belly Bao spicy half chicken
SIDES & SNACKS: Belly Bao spicy half chicken ($15.00)

Beside the baos, we also got a couple of sides and we didn’t need to think twice about getting some fried chicken; I mean, who doesn’t like fried chicken? Or better yet, spicy fried chicken? Absolutely delicious, crispy skin on the outside, and tender, juicy meat on in the inside. It wasn’t really that spicy to be honest, but it’s alright for someone who can’t take spicy I guess. Or if you don’t do spicy at all you can just opt to have the non-spicy chicken 🙂

Belly Bao - Sweet potato fries drizzled with chilli aïoli
SIDES & SNACKS: Sweet potato fries drizzled with chilli aïoli ($7.00)

You can honestly never go wrong with sweet potato fries, NEVER. This was a pretty hefty order though and I don’t think we even finished them because we were too full in the end to down them all. The fries weren’t very crispy to be honest which was a shame, but were still nevertheless oh so good. For some reason though, I found their chilli aïoli super spicy – even more spicy than the spicy chicken so not sure what happened there!

DESSERT BAOS

Belly Bao - BAONANA SPLIT
BAONANA SPLIT: Golden fried bao with vanilla ice cream, fresh banana slices, salted peanuts, drizzled with Nutella ($6.50)

Before I begin, I just want to say that I wished they did more desserts for their menu because their golden fried baos are heaven on earth. Maybe they could consider changing up the dessert menu once in a while like how other places change up their dessert flavours once every two weeks. That may just very well attract me towards the place even more! Anyway, I can’t really fault this dessert because I love banana and Nutella, and everything else paired with it. If I had to nitpick this dessert, I just wished that the Nutella was a bit more like a sauce 🙂

Belly Bao - STRAWBELLY BAO
STRAWBELLY BAO: Golden fried bao with vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberry slices, drizzled with condensed milk ($6.50)

From the two desserts, this was the once I actually ordered while Marissa had the first. I’m glad this was the one I ended up because I loved the strawberries and condensed milk drizzle over the whole dessert. It was delicious indeed!

NON-ALCOHOLIC QUENCHERS

Belly Bao - CHERRY MELON POP & GG ICE TEA(LEFT) CHERRY MELON POP: Freshly juiced watermelon & green apple popped sweet with Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters ($9.00)

(RIGHT) GG ICE TEA: Our classic house-brewed ice tea with fresh mint ($9.00)

Overall, I wouldn’t say that the food is really outstanding, but it’s a pretty good interpretation of traditional Taiwanese street food, “not how grandma remembers it”, or as one has questioned, is bao the new taco? They’re definitely a little more than just average, but would probably not score it more than a 7 out of 10; I just didn’t feel any fireworks as I had a bite of my slow braised pork belly bao. The dessert bao though I feel were on an entirely different level to the savoury baos, and so if I were to score the savoury and sweet separately, I’d give the dessert a higher ranking. Other than that, I suppose that the baos are a good value for money. One of these babies, plus a side or two, with dessert filled me up real good, each bao only setting you back about $6.50 on average. I believe that Belly Bao could have chosen a better place to locate their residency – something more in line with the history of how they started out would have been a much more enjoyable scene I believe. I was imagining a quirky café on the corner of a suburban street that isn’t too far away from the city, like perhaps Bronte or Coogee, with some outdoor seating. I was a bit disappointed to hear that they’ve teamed up with a club scene which feels like the complete opposite of what their food is about I guess; then again this is just my opinion. I’d give the ambience a 4 out of 10, possibly 5 if I am being generous – but yeah, dark, noisy, super packed, not quite the way I want to enjoy these delicious baos.

Belly Bao
53-55 Liverpool Street
Sydney, New South Wales
Australia, 2000

– Ally xx

Cuckoo Callay - YA BACON ME CRAZY

Cuckoo Callay

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Now, I’ve been back to the places twice already, once earlier on this year in February for my last brunch with friends in Sydney before I left to go back to Brunei. The other time I went here was with my family towards the end of May this year to try out their new menu, and to obviously take them to a favourite café of mine (yes I really liked this café from the very first visit I made with my friends). Anyway, the dishes that you are about to see below are a bit muddled in a sense that you will see dishes from their Bacon Festival which launched in the second week of February. The festival lasted for about 6 months I think, and is now no longer on their menu, but don’t fret! They have a whole new menu out and I will also be looking at a few of those dishes in today’s review.

Cuckoo Callay

Firstly, the Bacon Festival; sadly over, but the deliciousness will forever remain! Though I’ve been following the café on Instagram for a while back then, I never really found the chance to pay a visit. When they launched their bacon festival, I made it my mission to go at least once before leaving or else I’d miss out on the festival forever! It was such a great sunny fall day spent with very close uni friends. It was my second last day in Sydney at the time and therefore my last brunch as well before I went back to Brunei. I mean, clearly seeing that I’m back in Sydney, it wasn’t actually my very last time – I just said that at the time because I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to the June graduation sessions, and if I didn’t that meant that I’d be away from Sydney for 9 months until November 2015. I’m glad that I was able to graduate in June, so really I wasn’t gone for too long, but I do only have 2 weeks left in Sydney before I leave for good *sad face*

We decided to all order a dish each, and share amongst the 5 of us so that we’d be able to get a taste of everything bacon! Also to note down, all their bacon goods are free range and sourced from Australian pig farmers by Black Forest Smokehouse.

Cuckoo Callay - BACON DAWG
BACON DAWG: Maple glazed bacon sausage with gruyere cheese sauce, tomato and quince relish, crackling, and dill mustard pickles ($16.00)

My least favourite from the dishes that we ordered and only because I don’t like mustard or pickles, so dill mustard pickles? No! Otherwise if I can recall, my friends quite enjoyed this dish, but it wasn’t their top pick amongst the other dishes. I did love the sausage as it was juicy and succulent, as well as the crackling though, well what I could get of it I suppose since we were all probably going for it!

Cuckoo Callay - BACON ALL THE RULES
BACON ALL THE RULES: Black Forest Smokehouse maple bacon, bourbon bacon, bacon steak, bacon sausage, and bacon-crumbed poached eggs served on sourdough ($24.00)

This dish, though nothing special for me personally seeing as I could whip up something like this at home myself, was a good dish. It was jam packed with meat, eggs, and toast; a classic hefty breakfast. I know this is probably something you probably wouldn’t comment on, but the eggs we’re cooked perfectly with an oozy, runny yolk. I’m commenting on the eggs because you would not believe the many places I’ve been to that say poached eggs and the yolk was a disappointment – basically overcooked. Cuckoo Callay did not disappoint!

Cuckoo Callay - DON'T GO BACON MY HEART
DON’T GO BACON MY HEART: Beer candied bacon and popcorn chicken burger served with beer and tomato chutney, mustard aioli, and ‘slaw on brioche ($19.00)

I don’t really remember if I liked this dish or not – then again I guess not being able to remember a dish means that it didn’t have an impact on me. I don’t think it was bad, but it didn’t impress either. As long as there was bacon, but not just any bacon, beer candied bacon!

Cuckoo Callay - BACON, GET IN MA BELLY
BACON, GET IN MA BELLY: Pork Belly with sticky sweet chilli and fennel seed sauce with bacon, caper, coriander, and lime salad ($20.00)

This was my second favourite dish from the festival. The pork belly was chunky and crispy which was well accompanied by the sticky sweet chilli sauce/glaze it had. The squeeze of lime over the pork belly was a nice hint of freshness along with the capers and coriander. I don’t really like the taste of coriander so I just picked the capers out and ate those 😛

Cuckoo Callay - YA BACON ME CRAZY
YA BACON ME CRAZY: Buttermilk waffles with house-made bacon, caramel and cinnamon ice cream, Black Forest Smokehouse maple bacon, maple syrup, and chocolate coated bourbon bacon ($20.00)

MY FAVOURITE DISH OF THE BACON FESTIVAL! I love bacon, I love waffles, I love caramel, I love cinnamon, I love ice cream, and I love caramel cinnamon ice cream. Altogether? Heaven. Need I say more? Well, I guess the only things I can say negatively about this dish was that the waffle was a bit soft for my liking. I’m all about the crispy waffle! Otherwise, a superb dish.

Cuckoo Callay - BLOODY BACON CUCKOOTAIL
BLOODY BACON CUCKOOTAIL ($14.00)

I have no words for this, well I do but it’s going to be very biased. For starters, I’ve never had a Bloody Mary before so I was definitely taking a chance on this drink. But bacon makes everything better right? I’m afraid to say not in this case. One of my friends even made the comment saying that, “it tastes like cold pasta sauce” and after that comment, I could not get the image of drinking pasta sauce out of my head. I told you it’d be biased, but for Bloody Mary drinkers, this would probably be heaven for you guys.


So as mentioned above, I was able to revisit Cuckoo Callay a second time with my family when they came to visit. The bacon festival was sadly over (I think the weekend before they arrived actually), but they had a whole new menu out for everyone to enjoy! Before I get into the food, I need to tell you a story about what happened at the café; it’s nothing bad, in fact it was hilarious and I will never forget this story. Anyway, when our dishes came to our table, I of course, whipped out my camera and started taking photos of the dishes. Moments later, I’d say about less than 5 minutes later, our waiter (a charming and cheerful lad I might add), returned to our table and said quite loudly and playfully, “Why haven’t you guys started eating?! Is there something wrong with the food?!” followed by a small giggle. I replied, “I’m taking pictures!” to which he then responded, again playfully with a hint of sympathy, “Oh okay, so everyone has to wait I see”. My Mom then said, “She has a food blog” to which he then gave that raised-head ahhhh expression, and then walked away. It was quite hilarious! I’ve taken so many pictures of food before at cafés/restaurant, but never have I ever been why I’m not eating my food. Well honey, if you just wait for me to be done with my pictures, I’ll gladly eat the food!

Anyway, below are just a few of the dishes you can find at Cuckoo Callay:

Cuckoo Callay - GEORGE'S GORGEOUS COUSIN
GEORGE’S GORGEOUS COUSIN (vegetarian and gluten-free): Marinated avocado and thyme infused confit heirloom tomatoes on sourdough, goats curd, house made basil pesto, lemon herb gremolata, and a 63degree egg ($17.00)

My sister Angela had this dish and I of course had a little bite of it so that I could at least write about the taste of the dish. What I really loved about this dish was the marinated avocados; I mean avocados alone are already just good nought for me with a crack of sea salt and black pepper, but these were simply divine. I can’t quite make out what they marinated the avocados in, but they tasted a bit tangy? Anyway, they tasted so good that I think I might’ve had a bit too much of the avocados than I was offered to have!

Cuckoo Callay - PURPLE RAIN
PURPLE RAIN (gluten-free): Beetroot cured salmon, organic quinoa, chargrilled broccolini, sugar snap peas, avocado, kale, chilli, feta, toasted almonds, and 63degree egg ($21.00)

This was the dish that I had and though the avocados weren’t marinated, I still believe that I made the right choice in ordering this for myself. The dish was packed with lots of flavours and textures, and the runny yolk from that 63degree egg just tied the whole salad together. The cured salmon was something new for me in a sense that I’ve never had beetroot cured salmon before and though it was nice, nothing can compare to Devon Café’s cured salmon for me!

Cuckoo Callay - WE FOUND MARY'S LAMB
WE FOUND MARY’S LAMB: 16 hour slow cooked Moroccan spiced lamb, Israeli couscous, chermoula marinated eggplant, minted yogurt, and pistachio ($22.00)

My youngest sister Alyssa ordered this dish, well more like I ordered the dish for her since she had no clue on what to order. The lamb was very tender and really had that Moroccan flavour packed in it. I really liked the Israeli couscous for the way it looked only because I don’t think I’ve ever seen couscous so big and so round! Besides those two elements, everything else on the dish tied nicely together.

Cuckoo Callay - EGGS ON TOAST
EGGS ON TOAST: soft scrambled ($9.00) with extra marinated avocados (+$4.00)

My mom, though she enjoys food a lot, isn’t much of a big eater and so I ordered a simple eggs on toast with marinated avocados for her. You can choose how you want your eggs, whether soft scrambled, 63degree, or fried, and what extras you would like to go with it from crispy bacon, beetroot cured salmon, duck sausage, to grilled haloumi, marinated avocados, etc. Take your pick really to whatever suits your tastebuds. Anyway, of course before ordering this dish, I had no idea how good the avocados were, so after tasting them from my sister’s dish, I was quite happy with the decision to get extra avocados for my mom’s dish only because it meant that I could have more avocados *insert evil laugh* Anyway, what else can I say? The scrambled eggs were light a fluffy, the way it should be and toast is toast.

One thing that I noticed with Cuckoo Callay’s menu (both for the bacon festival and their new menu), is that they are very creative with naming their dishes; even my Mom found it very amusing! Overall, both dining experiences were delightful, and both the company and the quality of service was on point. If I recall, we had to wait a while for our dishes during the bacon festival, and that was only because the café was jam-packed with a lot of customers. We even had to wait 45 minutes in line to be seated, but altogether worth the wait I must say. The festival did not disappoint! Value for money? Like I mean it’s definitely worth your money in comparison to other places that I’ve been too. My Mother on the other hand, of course having just arrived from Brunei where you can probably get a similar dish for half the price, found it quite expensive. However, before she and my sisters left to go back to Brunei, she did comment on how yes eating out is definitely more expensive in Australia, but you get double the portion than you do back home. I’d give value for money an 8/10. The food probably a 8/10 as well; some minor issues due to personal taste, but nothing bad or mediocre about the food to give it a lower rating.

Cuckoo Callay
Newtown Railway Station
Shop 324B Erskineville Road
Newtown, New South Wales
Australia, 2042

– Ally xx

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT

In Asia Restaurant & Bar

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! I think I will keep the introduction short today just because you’re about to dive into a 2200 word review below and I’m already tired of typing and spinning words out of my brain at this hour of the night. Seriously though, if university essays were this easy to write in less than 4 hours, I’d never hate writing essays (most probably)…

About three months or so, I actually don’t remember, I attended a talk organised by General Assembly on the Business of Food Blogging. It was there that I met Brendon D’Souza from brendonthesmilingchef, and he was indeed a happy smiling chap. Last week he invited me and a few other bloggers for an Instagram Meet Up at In Asia Restaurant and Bar in North Strathfield. He told an interesting story about how he came to know about this restaurant; basically he and his family were driving along looking for a place to hold his graduation dinner. They came across In Asia and I think he pretty much fell in love with the food here and even said that the Popular Popcorn Parfait dessert sold it for him. He met the owner of the restaurant and talked about organising a food blogger’s event to basically build up a social media presence of the restaurant. I’m really glad that Brendon organised this event because it was definitely a great experience for not just me, but for everyone else who was a part of the night. I met a lot of other food bloggers, and shared a few laughs over the night as we all started getting a bit tipsy from the drinks.

Let’s get straight into their menu and what I thought of their awesome dishes:

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: SUGAR FLOSS MARTINI
COCKTAILS: SUGAR FLOSS MARTINI
Vodka, fresh strawberries and limes, with candy floss ($16.00)

I remember seeing one of the blogger’s ordering this drink across the other table. Rachael and Angela, who were seated in front of me, bolted over to take a picture of this very photogenic drink that looked like a fluffy unicorn. I wasn’t bothered to get up, only because I was sitting on the inside of the booth(?), not sure what kind of seating it was, but it meant that I had to ask people to get up for me, slide over, and then get out. When the girls returned, we decided to all order a cocktail each and share so that we could get a taste of what In Asia had to offer. I really liked this drink, mainly for the fairy floss and vodka combination, but you can’t really go wrong with strawberry and lime.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: TOBLERONECOCKTAILS: TOBLERONE
Baileys, Frangelico, Kahlua, cream, chocolate syrup, and Toblerone shavings ($16.00)

This was something that I’ve not actually seen before elsewhere, but then again, I’ve only been to how many bars in my life? Yeah, not a lot. Anyway, this was by far my favourite cocktail of the night; alcohol and chocolate? Don’t mind if I do! I’m not a heavy drinker myself, but I’d definitely have 2 or 3 more glasses of this. For me, I couldn’t really taste the alcohol, but that’s okay because it tasted more like a chocolate drink to me, and I like that!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: FINE LYCHEE DAIQUIRI
COCKTAILS: FINE LYCHEE DAIQUIRI
Bacardi, Soho Lychee Liqueur, fresh lychees, and lime ($16.00)

I am currently obsessing over lychees so this drink was also a favourite of mine that night. Loved the sweetness of the lychee paired with a tangy lime. I very much enjoyed this drink and would definitely come back for more of this… And the two above as well *cheeky grin*

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: PAN-SEARED CANADIAN SCOLLOPS
ENTRÉE: PAN-SEARED CANADIAN SCOLLOPS
with chilli purée and lime sauce, fresh pear ($15.00)

I love love love love LOVE scollops. Have I told you how much I really love scollops? Well, as you can tell for my love of scollops, it is without a doubt that this was my favourite entrée of the night. The scollops were cooked perfectly and surprised me with that great kick of heat. I say surprised because I wasn’t expecting it to be that big of a kick to my mouth. I found it quite spicy to my liking at first, but loved it as I had more of it. The pear was a nice touch of freshness to the dish as well.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: BARBECUED CALAMARI
ENTRÉE: BARBECUED CALAMARI
with pickled papaya, fennel, cashew nuts, and crispy pork crackling ($15.00)

I honestly cannot remember what my tastebuds were going through when I had this dish. I mean, it was not a bad dish, but I feel like I didn’t have an overwhelming reaction towards the dish like I did with the other entrée dishes. The calamari was cooked well, and the salad was dressed nicely too. I like how they’ve added the crispy pork crackling in the dish for that added crispy element, but they were all gone before I could get any onto my plate (yes, most of the bloggers who I shared the dish with picked most of the crackling out)!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: BETAL LEAF OF POACHED PRAWNENTRÉE: BETAL LEAF OF POACHED PRAWN
with roast coconut, crushed peanuts, ginger, chilli, lime, and caramel sauce: 2 pieces ($12.00)

As soon as this dish hit the tables, I was flabbergasted by its presentation. Loved the shot glasses. Moreover, I was impressed with the flavour combinations in such a little piece of betal leaf wrap. You’ve got the roast coconut, crushed peanuts, together with the ginger and caramel sauce I presume, that is topped with the tender, melt in the mouth poached prawn topped with roe and a tangy hit with a thinly sliced piece of lime, all wrapped in a peppery betal leaf that gave a nice fresh crunch to everything. It was a bit of a guessing game on how many bites you should take with this; it feels a bit big for one bite, but not big enough for two if you get what I mean. I tried two bites, but then you’re left with just the coconut and peanuts at the bottom without the prawn for your second bite. So I just went for it in one bite for my second serve. I find it quite expensive though because that means that one betal leaf wrap if $6.00; it’s quite a spectacular dish, but I don’t know if I’d pay that much for it.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER CALAMARI
ENTRÉE: SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER CALAMARI
with wasabi mayo and sweet chilli sauce

I had a look back at their main menu and didn’t see this dish so I can’t say how much it’d cost you to order this. There’s nothing much I can comment on this only just because it’s salt and pepper calamari; I mean you can practically get it anywhere you go. Nothing special, but I did like the tender calamari, however not a big fan of wasabi myself.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
with roasted rice, chilli, lemongrass, Vietnamese mint, and tamarind dressing ($22.00)

I felt like it’s quite similar to a Thai dish known as Nam Tok in terms of flavour, but anyway this was a very innovative dish and the flavours were a nice accompaniment to the duck. I actually wouldn’t have been able to tell that the duck was tea-smoked, but nonetheless, the duck was delicious and I wanted more!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
with asparagus, shallots, and onion with hoisin sauce ($28.00)

Again, this was nothing special for me because I know how to make a mean beef stir-fry myself. I mean, it’s a good, simple, and humble dish, but nothing really as innovative as what I’ve already covered from this point on their menu.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
with IN ASIA’s spiced Kumara mash, cashew nuts, sweet potato chips ($27.00)

I wasn’t a fan of this dish for several reasons: firstly, I thought that it was a curry-based dish because of the ‘sauce’ and then I was surprised when I re-read the menu again at it was actually kumara mash. In my opinion, it was a bit thin for a mash. I like my mash creamy no doubt, but this felt like it took creamy to a whole other level. Secondly, though the salmon lived up to its crispy skin, it was however overcooked to my liking; it was a bit dry on the inside for me. The only thing I liked on this dish was probably the sweet potato chips. Sorry!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN ROASTED DUCK
MAIN: CRISPY SKIN ROASTED DUCK
with tamarind sauce, pumpkin mash, and navel orange

This I liked better than the salmon dish, and I loved the pairing of the duck with the navel oranges. Though the skin wasn’t as crispy as I thought it would be, it was still a very good dish, and that’s also mainly because I love duck no matter how it’s cooked (just not overcooked of course). You may have noticed as well that there is no price – same what I mentioned above for another dish, I couldn’t find it on their actual menu so sorry to say I can’t make out how much this dish would cost if you want to order this dish.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: KOREAN STYLE BARBECUED WAGYU BEEF
MAIN: KOREAN STYLE BARBECUED WAGYU BEEF
with grilled pear, black sesame, pickled radish, and ginger ($28.00)

This dish wasn’t actually on the pre-planned menu that the restaurant had for us. One of the girls, as she called herself, “that annoying person who just doesn’t like seafood”, ordered this off the menu as the owner of In Asia suggested that she did as he felt bad for having pretty much a seafood-heavy planned menu for the night. I am actually glad that she got to order off their menu and shared a little bit of her food with everyone else because this was a really REALLY lovely dish. The wagyu beef was cooked perfectly and was very tender. The grilled pear, I mean, where do I even begin with this pear? It was so good and paired so well with the beef. It was a match made it heaven.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CARAMELISED TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
MAIN: CARAMELISED TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
with crispy panko egg and sweet tamarind sauce ($23.00)

This was another dish that was ordered off the menu, and yet another great dish that made me happy that she doesn’t like seafood. This was actually my favourite main dish of the night. The pork belly was crispy and sweet, and that panko egg was just lovely. I honestly wanted more of this dish, but since we were only sharing, it made me sad that I could not have more that night. I would definitely recommend this dish if you’re ever thinking of dining here. It is a must! I would definitely go again if it weren’t so far from where I live!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
with banana pudding, passionfruit curd, pandan foam, pandan granita, shredded coconut, and coconut ice cream ($12.00)

Finally on to dessert! This was probably not one of the best desserts of the night just because I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other dessert that you’ll see below, both in terms of presentation and flavour. This didn’t really wow me that much I’m sorry to say!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MRS B'S FIRST KISS
DESSERT: MRS B’S FIRST KISS
with organic banana lightly battered in shredded coconut and fried, palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce, and rice puffs, served with passionfruit sorbet ($14.00)

I apologise in advance because I cannot comment on the flavour of this dish, and I will tell you why. So when the desserts arrived at the table, everyone went nuts for this dessert, as well as the one below because of their spectacular presentation. It was almost too beautiful to eat! So I got my pictures, and then I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. I thought, okay I’ll go to the bathroom quickly since the other bloggers were still busy taking pictures of the desserts. Came back about 2 or 3 minutes later and this dish was completely demolished. Lesson of the night? Hold it in, no matter how urgent it is. It’s not worth it especially if dessert is concerned and you’re sharing one dish with about 12 other bloggers. I was so sad!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT
DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT
with IN ASIA’s crushed corn flakes, caramel popcorn, grilled sweet corn, and caramel jersey cream ($14.00)

Okay, at least there was a good quarter or so of this dessert left when I came back from nature’s calling. Thank goodness because this dessert was the absolute bomb. I loved the flavours and different textures that you got in each mouthful of the dessert, and I didn’t think that grilled corn would be such a great compliment to the overall dish. The presentation was on point as well. Well done In Asia for this dessert!

There were some ups and some downs with the dishes that we had over the night, but I can safely say that the positives overpowered the negatives greatly. There was really only one dish that was a let down for me, and the others that had minor issues based on just my personal opinion and palette is nothing major to say that it was a bad dish. I’d rate the food of the night a solid 9.5 out of 10; the food really blew me away and clearly the definition of modern (kind of, sort of fine dining) Asian cuisine. For me, it’s sort of somewhere in the middle like it’s not casual but not extreme fine dining either. Not only did the flavours and textures impress me, the presentation of some of the dishes, mainly the entrées and desserts, really blew me away. The service was great as well, though I wasn’t sure why it took quite possibly close to 30 to 45 minutes for the light menu (which were the tea smoked duck salad and the barbecued calamari salad) to come out to the table after entrées – I wasn’t complaining though because I had a pretty hefty entrée to begin with. I’d give the service an 8 or possibly 9 out of 10 anyway. Now, value for money – the dishes here are pretty pricey to be honest but I guess you can say that you actually do pay for what you’re getting. If you’ve got the money to spend, definitely spend it here, otherwise it’s not really a place you can just rock up to if you don’t have the money or for a casual dine.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar
181 Concord Road
North Strathfield, New South Wales
Australia, 2137

– Ally xx

Surly's - AMERICAN BBQ PLATES*: PORK SPARE RIBS

Surly’s

Hello Everyone and a very warm welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! It’s been a while now since I’ve done a review on the blog, and it’s mainly because I’ve been travelling around Australia the past month with my family. Not only was time a bit short on my hand, I didn’t have much places that I wanted to review anyway. Now that I’ve sort of settled down a bit from travelling, I’ve been visiting/revisiting some of my favourite eatery spots in and around Sydney. That’s probably one of the many things I will miss about Sydney, the food diversity it has to offer.

Surly's

About a week ago or so, my friend Sophia was organising a Food meet up and asked for suggestions on what kind of cuisine we’d be up for. Since the meet up was on the 4th of July, I suggested we go out and have some American food to kind of, but not really, celebrate Independence Day; and that’s what we did yesterday night at Surly’s. We caught up over good (but greasy) food and exchanged A LOT of laughs across the table, and even when we were out and about Surry Hills making our way to Gelato Messina for dessert.

I wasn’t evasedropping or anything, then again maybe I was since the music was ever so loud at the place, but this was how to conversation went at the table beside ours:

Aussie: Today is America Day right? Happy America Day!
American: It’s not ‘America Day’, we don’t call it America Day…
Aussie: Oh so what do you call it then?
American: It’s Independence Day.

I don’t know why I found that so funny – maybe because here it’s called ‘Australia Day’ but that is in fact it is the complete opposite of gaining independence. I’m not even American anyway so I don’t know why I was so keen on kind-of celebrating 4th of July. I’d probably call myself faux-merican just because when I first arrived here in Australia, people always assumed that I was from America because of my ‘accent’ – sorry what accent? I always thought that Australian’s had an accent while I was perfectly normal. Anyway, there was one guy who went all specific and said to me, “you sound like you’re from California”.

Surly's - STARTERS: NACHOS
STARTERS: NACHOS
Cheesy jalapeño ($10.00)

What can I say? Chips, really yummy cheese, and jalapeños. ‘Nuff said. $10.00 might’ve been a tad bit too much to charge for just these though. I don’t really like jalapeños as well so it was just basically chips and cheese for me, but still good!

Surly's - STARTERS: WINGS
STARTERS: WINGS
Buffalo hot wings served with carrot and celery sticks and ranch ($12.00)

I remember looking at the menu before heading to Surly’s that night and when I saw buffalo wings on the menu, I knew I was going to get a side of these for sure. When we got to Surly’s and we were deciding on what dishes to get to share with everyone, I asked which of the wings they wanted from a choice of either Buffalo Hot Wings or House BBQ Wings. Natalie tad me that Sophia doesn’t really eat hot/spicy things, but said that she would need to eventually since she’d be going to Thailand with her. So I said, “hot wings it is – this can be her training for Thailand”. The wings were good and had a good amount of heat, didn’t really like the ranch sauce, more of a blue cheese sauce person when it comes to buffalo wings, but the majority of the table voted for ranch. The only thing I didn’t quite comprehend was ‘served with carrot and celery sticks’; we had just one stick of each…

Surly's - FRIED CHICKEN: 6 pieces with fries on the side
FRIED CHICKEN: 6 pieces with fries on the side ($25.00)

Okay I admit that when I saw 6 pieces and $25.00 together I was a bit confused like how and why so pricey for 6 pieces of fried chicken?! When the dish came to the table, it was not at all what I had in my mind – they were 6 enormous pieces of chicken, like as big as your face kind of big. I told everyone at the table that I wasn’t expecting the pieces to be so big, and then followed that sentence with, “oh that’s right, I forgot it’s American sized” and everyone started laughing. Also, when Sophia got this dish, she asked what were the other sides that we decided on for the other dishes because we all agreed that we’d get different sides to try them all. The sides that we hadn’t picked yet were fries and greens beans. I jokingly told Sophia to get the green beans just because it’d be funny to imagine the pairing of fried chicken with green beans! Anyway, funny backstory aside, the chicken was well cooked – tender and juicy on the inside, and a flavourful crust on the outside. A bit greasy but what even is fried chicken without the grease?

Surly's - AMERICAN BBQ PLATES*: PULLED PORK
AMERICAN BBQ PLATES*: PULLED PORK
with BBQ beans and coleslaw ($15.00)

The pulled pork for me didn’t have much flavour to it to be honest, and I probably only had two small bites of this dish because of this; sorry but I wasn’t a fan. Also, it seemed kind of dissatisfying to see such tender good pork to be slopped on a plate just like that – at least put it in a sandwich or burger. Other than that, the BBQ beans tasted really good, and coleslaw, I mean, it’s just coleslaw to me. The cornbread was really good and I definitely think there should be more cornbread on the plate to go with the pulled pork I reckon!

Surly's - AMERICAN BBQ PLATES*: PORK SPARE RIBS
AMERICAN BBQ PLATES*: PORK SPARE RIBS
with mac n’ cheese and potato salad ($20.00)

Sadly the pork ribs didn’t leave me wanting for more. Jialing agreed that the ribs lacked flavour beyond the outer layer of the meat and quote, “as if they didn’t marinate the ribs at all”. On top of that, the ribs were dry and not very tender. The sides were good though, but that’s basically all for this dish.

*All plates come with 2 sides (mac n’ cheese, coleslaw, BBQ beans, green beans, potato salad, or fries) and  homemade cornbread

The only thing that I wanted to try but completely forgot about ordering it when at Surly’s was their Philly Phil’z Philly Cheesesteak: Juicy grilled flank , grilled peppers and onions all glued together with provolone ($13.00) Man that sounds so good! Maybe next time? Well see – if I really REALLY need to go back for this dish.

The ambience of the place was pretty good actually, lots of space and pool tables on the upper floor for a nice game; not for me though because I don’t play (more like I don’t know how to play). The place was well lit, but not enough at night that is, for someone like me who takes pictures of food – we had to be ‘that kind of people’ who takes out their phone flashlight for a photograph. alright; not a place for a person who loves taking pictures. The music was really loud, so I wouldn’t suggest it if you want to catch up with friends and have deep long conversations or for a date; it’s more like a Friday night with your mates kind of place.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed exchanging laughs as I said earlier and ended up not having an itchy throat at the end of the night from raising our voice over the table. The service was really quick, when we returned to our tables, Jialing’s pork ribs came within 10 seconds upon sitting down, and I’m guessing on average we waited less than 15 minutes for all the meals to come to the table, which was less than waiting for Sophia to arrive at the place. I’d say a good value for money as well, but probably not for the BBQ plates in my opinion. Overall the food was okay – maybe good, but nothing out of this world; I’d probably rate it a 5 out of 10 just with some minor issues that I had with some dishes. Other than that, be sure to check out Surly’s with your mates for a round or two, or maybe more, of drinks and a game of pool – the place has a pretty sweet vibe for that kinda night out.

Surly’s
182 Campbell Street
Surry Hills, New South Wales
Australia, 2010

– Ally xx