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

Meat District Co. - Sydney - Roasted bone marrow

Meat District Co. – Sydney

Hello Everyone! And a happy first day of Autumn to all my dear Aussie friends. Welcome back to an all new Review Sunday. Today, I have a selection of cocktails, entrées, mains, and a dessert to share with you from Meat District Co. Sydney. If I am not mistaken, Meat District Co. started in the United States? And branched out to Sydney in late 2014. How I came to know about this place was through my internship – Meat District Co. Sydney is a client of Hello Social and I worked on a few graphics for them, one of which included their #mdcburgerselfie competition that ran earlier on this year.

The first time I came here my boss Max treated lunch for everyone in the office. I had the lamb loin then. The second time I came here, I came with a bunch of close friends for my farewell dinner. We went on a Friday night and even Darling Harbour had fireworks on later that evening. Normally fireworks only happen every Saturday, so Edison cheekily said that he had arranged for fireworks that night for my farewell (obviously he didn’t). Nevertheless, the fireworks were a great touch to a wonderful evening sharing food and exchanging laughters with close friends.

Inspired by the paddock to the plate, Meat District Co. aims to bring a NEW kind of dining to Sydney. Meat District Co. works in partnership with some of Australia’s most sustainable producers delivering an experience & dishes that tick all the boxes when it comes to quality & taste, leaving you wanting more each & every time: an ADDICTION waiting to be savoured. We remember a time when beef came from a farm & not a factory – when ‘100% beef’ was actually from a cow. Meat District Co. has decided it is time to bring the farm to your doorstep.

ASSORTED HOUSE COCKTAILS

Meat District Co. - Sydney - ASSORTED HOUSE COCKTAILS

CUCUMBER MULE: Traditional Moscow Mule with Smirnoff Vodka, lime juice, ginger beer & cucumber slices; served tall over ice ($10.00)

MANGO TANGO: A sweet & fruity mix of Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka & Mohala Mango Liqueur, cloudy apple juice & mango purée ($10.00)

PIMMS ‘N’ PONY: Fortified ‘any occasion’ classic; Pimm’s No. 1, tuned with Gordon’s Gin, served tall with lemonade, strawberries & mint ($10.00)

HAVAIANA: Pleasant flavour of the tropics; a blend of Malibu, Midori, banana liqueur, pineapple juice & coconut cream ($10.00)

FRUIT NINJA COMBO: Sweet with subtle fruity hints of mixed Passoa & Malibu strengthened up with Smirnoff Vodka, finished with pineapple juice, passionfruit & dash of raspberry cordial; served tall & garnished with fresh fruits ($10.00)

I only had sips of the other cocktail drinks that my friends ordered, but from what they all had to say, their drinks were all refreshingly tasty. The alcohol flavour did not dominate which I quite like. I had the Fruit Ninja Combo cocktail, and obviously I’m going to be biased, but it was probably the best cocktail drink from the others that we ordered that night. It was absolutely yum. Tough I couldn’t really taste much of the other fruits that were incorporated into the drink, the passionfruit taste really stood out from the rest.

Like most reviews I do, I mentioned that I could not comment on some (most) of the dishes because I wasn’t able to have a bite of it. But overall, my friends were really impressed by the flavours of the dishes that they ordered, which were mainly the burgers and the fries. They also commented that the prices were well worth money.

STARTERS & SIDES

Meat District Co. - Sydney - Fries with rosemary & thyme salt
Fries with rosemary & thyme salt ($5.00)

Meat District Co. - Sydney - Truffle fries, truffle salt, truffle parmesan & truffle aioli
Truffle fries, truffle salt, truffle parmesan & truffle aioli ($7.50)

Meat District Co. - Sydney - Crispy battered onion rings with truffle aioli
Crispy battered onion rings with truffle aioli ($7.50)

Quite possibly the BEST onion rings I’ve ever tasted ANYWHERE in the world. Nothing can top this. The crispy, light batter that wrapped around a generous thick slice of onion was simply to die for! And that truffle aioli! I really wished I hadn’t shared this dish with others.

Meat District Co. - Sydney - Roasted bone marrow
Roasted bone marrow with garlic, parsley, mustard seeds, chilli, served with bread ($8.50)

Unfortunately this dish was more bone than marrow. A little disappointing to find half a slice of bone with little marrow on it. I felt that there were more mustard seeds than the marrow itself, and I’m not a fan of mustard myself! Would’ve been a great dish if the marrow spoke for itself because that’s how I like it.

Meat District Co. - Sydney -  Grilled watermelon salad
Compressed, grilled watermelon salad, sumac, goat cheese, and hazelnut ($8.50)

BURGERS

Meat District Co. - Sydney - OLD FAITHFUL BURGER
OLD FAITHFUL BURGER: MDC beef patty with mixed greens, tomato, caramelised onions, pickles & house sauce ($12.00)

Meat District Co. - Sydney - TRUFFLE BURGER
TRUFFLE BURGER: MDC beef patty with truffle parmesan, rocket, roasted peppers, tomato & truffle aioli ($14.00)

Meat District Co. - Sydney - CHICKEN BURGER
CHICKEN BURGER: Crumbed chicken breast with sesame seeds, almond flakes, tomato, coleslaw & horseradish mayo ($14.00)

Meat District Co. - Sydney - SPIDER CRAB BURGER
SPIDER CRAB BURGER: Battered soft shell crab, coleslaw & lemon caper aioli ($16.00)

Meat District Co. - Sydney - SLIDERS FLIGHT
SLIDERS FLIGHT: 3 mini burgers, an Old Faithful, Crumbed Chicken & Lamb Pull ($15.00)

THE DOGS

Meat District Co. - Sydney - CLASSIC DOG
CLASSIC DOG: Pure beef hot dog with caramelised onions, mustard, pickles & ketchup on a baked roll ($11.00)

THE PULLS

Meat District Co. - Sydney - SLOW ROASTED PORK
SLOW ROASTED PORK: Spiced & roasted pork shoulder, coleslaw & apple jam on a bun ($12.00)

Meat District Co. - Sydney - SLOW ROASTED LAMB
SLOW ROASTED LAMB: Spiced & roasted lamb shoulder, cucumber, rocket, BBQ mint dressing on a bun ($13.00)

FROM THE GRILL

Served with your choice of chips or salad

Meat District Co. - Sydney - 220G LAMB LOIN
220G LAMB LOIN: Sous vide lamb loin with an olive & pistachio crust, truffle mash, and lamb jus ($33.00)

This was overall an okay dish to be honest. I know a lot of people have certain preferences of how they like their mash; I like mine smooth, creamy, and rich, which unfortunately was not what I got on my plate. I got chunky mashed potatoes, which I don’t mind, but would’ve preferred it the way I like my mash to be. The lamb loin looked a bit small on the plate, but nonetheless was quite flavourful. Was it worth the $33.00? Probably not.

RIBS & COMBOS

Served in two sizes with your choice of fries or a side salad

Meat District Co. - Sydney - HALF PORK RIBS
HALF PORK RIBS with a side of rosemary & thyme salt fries ($31.00)

This was my highlight of the night for this main dish was the absolute bomb dot com. Way much better than the ribs you find at Hurricane’s Grill in my opinion. Tender pork ribs with a lovely barbecue flavour. I only wished they had given a truffle aioli dip for the fries on the side because the dip that I got seemed like it was barbecue sauce if I’m not mistaken? Yes that’s right, only real women order fries with their ribs… I mean, a salad? Really? Anyway, barbecue on barbecue was a bit much to handle. Nevertheless, this dish is seriously melt in the mouth, and the TRUE definition of finger licking good. I mean honestly, who eats ribs with a knife and fork? Not me that’s for sure!

DESSERTS

Meat District Co. - Sydney - COOKIE & CREAM CHEESECAKE
COOKIE & CREAM CHEESECAKE: with white chocolate ganache, chocolate soil, and white chocolate gelato ($12.00)

This wasn’t my first choice at dessert actually for I had my eyes (or more like my friend Simon who wanted to share dessert with me) on the Caramel Tart, but they had unfortunately just run out of it when we placed our order – so it was either the cheesecake or gelato. It didn’t disappoint though for it was a nice, light, and airy dessert, which was perfect to top off the half rack of ribs I had that night. My gelato on the side unfortunately melted quite quickly, but MDC aren’t to blame here for I got caught up saying goodbye to a few friends who were ready to go home that night. Overall, I lovely dessert to end the night on.

Overall, the food is about a 7 to 7.5 out of 10 for me. There are a few dishes that I had minor issues with, and some that were top notch for me. Then again, I haven’t had the range of dishes that they have to offer so I can’t give an honest score. Service was good, and the ambience, I’m not too sure because both times I dined outdoors and haven’t had the chance to see the indoor seating area yet. Value for money is variable, I don’t know about spending $33.00 for a small piece of lamb loin, but the ribs was definitely worth it. For a total of 14 people that night at my farewell, the total bill came to almost $450.00!!!

Meat District Co. – Sydney
R3/11 Lime Street
Sydney, New South Wales
Australia, 2000

Bar Surry Hills & Italian Restaurant

Bar Surry Hills & Italian Restaurant

Bar Surry Hills & Italian Restaurant
I have had the greatest pleasure of attending the re-launch of Bar Surry Hills with my lovely +1, Yvonne Wang. The story behind this photo was that the two ladies sandwiching Yvonne and I “photobomed” our photo.

The Bar is now open with an all new Italian kitchen, featuring a menu themed with all your favourite pizza and pasta selections! It is located on the ground floor of the Rydges Hotel Surry Hills, and is just a 5-minute walk from Central Station, and is open daily from 11 am until late, making it the perfect venue for a business lunch, an after-work cocktail, a romantic nightcap, a private party, birthday, or a special event.

The overall experience was a good one, and I was glad that I got to share the night with the lovely Yvonne Wang. As we entered the venue, it greeted us with a warm welcome. We were led towards the bar to grab our complimentary beverages (from Sydney Brewery Beers, to various cocktails, and wine). Towards the left of the entrance to the restaurant was the charcuterie station – a display of aesthetically beautiful Italian bread and a selection of various cold cut meats, sliced on the spot for you as you wait in line to grab a charcuterie plate for yourself (or your table).

We waited around for a while with our drinks until a table cleared. We then sat down and had all the food circled and brought to us – breadsticks with oil-marinated olives, bruschetta, a selection of pizzas, and desserts, Nutella pizza and what tasted like lemon and poppyseed cannoli to me. We had a little bit of everything, and probably missed out on a few selections that they offered on the night – I know because I remember seeing plates of what looked like deep fried balls, filled/stuffed with cheese perhaps? Anyway, they never made it to our table and stopped serving them at one point.

The food was great. Delicious. I can’t say much about the value for money as I’m uncertain on how much each individual dish that was served costed. Nonetheless, they average from about $10-$30 AUD, which I think is reasonable for the quality of the food. The venue, also great. I really loved the sleek and modern feel the place brought, and also evoked a fun and funky atmosphere. I can’t comment much on service quality in terms of how quick the food arrives to your table, but I can definitely say that the staff very friendly.

Bar Surry Hills & Italian RestaurantComplimentary Paloma Cocktail, Red Wine, and Breadsticks with Oil-marinated Olives

Bar Surry Hills & Italian RestaurantComplimentary Espresso Martini

Bar Surry Hills & Italian RestaurantCharcuterie Station – selection of beautiful Italian bread & cold cut meats

Bar Surry Hills & Italian Restaurant
Diavolo Pizza

Bar Surry Hills & Italian Restaurant
The highlight of the night in my opinion – Nutella Pizza served on a huge plank of veneered plywood

Be sure to check out their entire menu by visiting their Bar and Restaurant!

Bar Surry Hills & Italian Restaurant
28 Albion Street
Surry Hills, New South Wales
Australia, 2010

Click here to see more photos of the event.

– Ally xx

ps: Also, many thanks to my fellow COFA friend, Greta Peterson. Without her, I wouldn’t have known about the event. Thank you for getting me onto the VIP list!