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

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

Baked Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese-Yoghurt Dip

Baked Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese-Yoghurt Dip

Hello Everyone! Back again with another lip-smacking recipe that will definitely fill your tummies (I am so full right now that I keep burping out loud, and my burps taste of garlic oops!). I love buffalo wings, just as much as I practically love every other chicken wing dishes out there. Now the easy option would just be to go to Coles and buy a pre-packed marinated bag of buffalo chicken wings and simply throw it on the grill and voilà! I mean, yes I have done that multiple times, at barbecue parties because it’s a quick and easy solution to getting ready-marinated meats on the day. But no, not today; I always have to take the long route, which I think is worthwhile especially if you’re learning how to cook. Taking shortcuts won’t allow me to get creative in the kitchen and experiment with recipes. It definitely won’t allow me to expand my abilities in the kitchen as well. I’ve been wanting to tackle this recipe for a while now, but never got around to until today.

Blue Cheese-Yoghurt Dip Ingredients

So today I posted these two images on Instagram. If you have an account, please look up @amcarmenskitchen and give me a follow. I usually post teaser images of the ingredients that I will be using for the recipe that will be posted on the blog later in the evening. I also always ask my followers to guess what dish I will be making based on the pictured ingredients. I try to make my Instagram feed as interactive as possible with my followers. Today I posted a blurred image and asked them to guess the 8 ingredients for today’s dip to go with these succulent buffalo wings. Didn’t quite get many responses but thank you to my girl Mel Barrass for guessing an ingredient right! I then posted the other image and got a response from my twin Pamela about how curious she is to know what I’ll be making from these ingredients.

For this, I looked at two recipes from the Food Network and tweaked the method a bit. But please do check out the original recipes as linked:

Baked Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese-Yoghurt Dip

PREP TIME 10 MINS* | COOKING TIME 35 MINS SERVES 3-4

*Add an extra 4-5 hours waiting time for chicken to marinate

INGREDIENTS

For the buffalo wings

  • 15 chicken mid-wings, washed and cleaned
  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the blue cheese-yoghurt dip

  • 3/4 cup greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Ground salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Place the wings into a pot of boiling, salted water. Cover and reduce the heat to medium. Parboil the wings for 6-8 minutes. Remove the wings and carefully pat dry. Lay the wings out on baking dish lined with paper towels.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan along with the garlic. Add the hot sauce and salt and stir to combine. Remove the paper towels and pour the hot sauce mixture over the wings and toss. Cover the dish with cling wrap and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 4-5 hours before cooking.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the yogurt, blue cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, milk and lemon juice in a medium-szied bowl and whisk together until combined but still chunky. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Preheat oven to 220C. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil and place the wings skin side up onto the tray. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 35 minutes, or until cooked through.
  5. Serve with blue cheese-yoghurt dip and a salad of your choice. In this case, I had a 4 leaf mix with a french dressing, and homemade roasted sweet potato fries. A great combination!

Baked Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese-Yoghurt Dip

Baked Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese-Yoghurt Dip

Baked Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese-Yoghurt Dip

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com