Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sassy's Red

We wanted to escape the heat and have some food in an air-conditioned environment. We walked into Westfield and headed directly up to the food court. Prominently situated at a corner is Sassy's Red, an offshoot of the famous Chinta Ria.

Perhaps due to their reputation, I had high expectations. And well, because every Malaysian is a Malaysian food expert, no?

We gave Donny's Chicken Rice and Char Kway Teow a try. The chicken was over cooked and rice was too dry. 

Oh, and the CKT, just have a look at the chilli sauce - so not Malaysian CKT style.

So disappointed. For the price we paid, we could have had bigger portions and more authentic taste in other Malaysian eateries available in the city. 

Sassy's Red on Urbanspoon

Sassy's Red
Level 5, Shop 5002, Westfield Sydney, 188 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.
Tel: +61 2 8072 8072, Fax: +61 2 8072 8073
Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 6:30pm (9:00pm on Thursday)
Sunday 10:00am to 6:00pm

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Three Monkeys Coffee & Tea House

When I was visiting Brisbane for a conference once, I met up with one of my ex-students. She suggested to meet at The Three Monkeys at West End and I obliged. Having never been to West End, I took the opportunity to explore the area and walked from UQ to West End (I know, long walk).

Opened in 1990, it was originally started to serve the students living in the three houses above. As its popularity grew, so did the premises. In 1995, The Three Monkeys changed hands and major expansion took place, moving into the courtyard and across into adjoining rooms.

There was a Mediterranean feel to the place. It was decorated with an eclectic collection of international memorabilia, cosy couches and booths to hide in. 

The queue was long for as long as I was there. Must be quite a popular place, I thought.

I was pretty attracted to the display of cakes - such a wide selection and all at $7.35 per slice.

 We ordered a salad, a pizza and a slice of lemon cheesecake to share.

I also ordered a hot chocolate, which I really liked. And I was impressed with the lemon cheesecake. If I visit again, I would give their other cakes a try, too.

Three Monkeys Coffee & Tea House on Urbanspoon

The Three Monkeys Coffee & Tea House
58 Mollison Street, West End, QLD 4101, Australia.
Tel: +61 7 3844 6045
Sunday to Thursday 9:30am to 11:30pm
Friday & Saturday 9:30am to 12:30am

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Holy Basil

It was hard to imagine such a tasteful interior existed inside of Shark Hotel (not that I think that Shark is shabby or anything). I just did not expect that they would do up the place so well - even using earthen shades of mortar and pestle as decor.

They have quite a reputation and one would easily mistake them for a Thai place. I see a confused look on your face now. Trust me, I had that same reaction until I found out that this family-run business is actually Laotian but one that cooks up a Thai storm. As Laos is a tiny country neighbouring countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and China, it would make sense they use similar cooking methods and ingredients, especially herbs and spices.

First up, we had the Thai Papaya Salad ($11.90). Sour enough to jolt you awake if you are feeling sleepy.

We also enjoyed the Seafood Tomyum ($17.90), which in our opinion, had a generous amount of seafood in it.

One of my all-time favourite orders at a Thai place is the Red Duck Red Curry ($17.90), and in my opinion, the one they served here was fantastic! I could not get enough of the curry! The duck pieces were tender and juicy, too.

Stir-fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts ($13.90) was nothing to shout about - done like any other Thai place.

Now, two highly recommended things that you must order at Holy Basil are not main dishes. Instead, one is a drink while the other is a dessert.

The drink is none other than the Watermelon and Lychee Ice Blended ($5.50). Super addictive even for a non-cold drink lover like me!

The most famous dish served here has got to be the Holy Basil Fried Ice Cream ($13.90). You must think that we were mad to pay that much for a piece of fried ice cream, which is less than RM3.00 ($1.00) back home. But hey, this was one hell of a melt-in-your-mouth-roll-your-eyeballs-towards-heaven kind of fried ice-cream. Really.

Be sure to make a reservation, especially if you are thinking of having dinner here. They are very popular and without a reservation, it would take at least 30 minutes before you get a table. But once they get your orders, food as served pretty quickly.

Holy Basil on Urbanspoon

Holy Basil
Shark Hotel 127 Liverpool Street, NSW 2000, Australia.
Tel: +61 2 9283 8284
Open daily 12:00pm to 3:00pm and 5:00pm to 11:00pm

Monday, February 17, 2014

Le Pain Quotidien

I did not know that this place was tucked away in a corner on the fourth floor of Westfield. So, thank you, Jen, for introducing this place. 

Pronounced "luh paN koh-ti-dyaN", Le Pain Quotidien claims that they ensure that their ingredients are of the highest quality by sourcing organic ingredients. I noticed that with this organic concept there is also the concept of sustainability, as they used reclaimed furniture and energy-efficient lamps.

I was looking for something light to just line my stomach before I trigger my gastric. I chose to try their Pumpkin Soup ($10.95). Definitely not a "pour out of a commercially produced tin can" bowl of soup, this one. Freshly made, I added some black pepper powder, as I found it a little too bland.

We liked the Lemon Tart ($6.95) - one to share was not enough but we had a dinner to attend in an hour so yea...

Service depends on how busy the place is and which group of waitstaff is on shift. We were not very lucky, as many of the waitstaff spoke to us in a "sigh, I want to get off work now so can you hurry up with your order already" kind of tone.

Le Pain Quotidien on Urbanspoon

Le Pain Quotidien
Level 4, Westfield Sydney, Corners Pitt Street and Market Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.
Tel: +61 2 8246 9213
Daily 8:00am to 6:00pm (9:00pm on Thursday)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mr. Wong

Quite a few surprises even before we managed to get seated. As they do not accept reservations for dinner should the party not have at least six persons, we were placed in the queue and were told that we would receive a call from one of their staff when it gets to our turn. Sure.

Our turn 2 hours later. 2 hours of unfriendly gestures and condescending tone from one of the frontline waitstaff. Excuse me but I do not freaking care if you are a fine dining restaurant or a fast food joint, or whether we are customers or not, please treat a fellow human being with more courtesy. Goodness, service - big fat red cross in the box.

We were starving so it did not bother us where we were seated. We quickly browsed through the menu and placed our orders.

Crispy Eggplant with Fish-Fragrance Sauce ($19.00) was finished in no time. Either we were really hungry or it was done really well. Must be a combination of both because we could smell it from afar.

The Kung Pao Chicken with Peanuts, Dried Chillies and Szechuan Pepper ($25) could have had more spicy kick. And for the price charged, we would be happier with a slightly bigger portion.

The Twice Cooked Green Beans with Pork Mince and XO Sauce ($19) was really fragrant from the chilli and the XO sauce.

One dish we highly recommend is the Red Braised Pork Belly with Apple Salad ($27), which came served in a claypot.

The crunchy and sour taste from the apple gave a delightful contrast in flavour and texture to the melt-in-your-mouth pieces of fat pork belly (which XW and I absolutely loved!).

Thankfully, the waitstaff serving us provided way better service than that woman at the front. He was friendly, helpful and had a good sense of humour. "You must have the dessert and I know, you're gonna ask me which ones. I'm gonna tell you - all of 'em."

Well, although we were tempted to try all, we did not. We shared three between the four of us.

Mr. Wong's Deep Fried Vanilla Ice Cream served with Butterscotch Sauce ($14.00) received positive reviews but we did not enjoy it. Somehow, it did not feel quite right to be eating fried ice cream in a fine dining setting. Or rather, perhaps we have had better for less, we were slightly disappointed at the overpowering sweetness of the butterscotch sauce.

The dessert we enjoyed the most was the Lychee and Ginger Ice and Coconut Sorbet served with Pineapple, Water Chestnuts and Herbal Jelly ($14.00). Refreshing blend of sour and sweet!

The Chocolate Crème, Raspberries, Macadamia Brittle and Crème Cheese Ice Cream ($14.00) looked interesting to us and luckily, we were quite happy with it, too. We were expecting a weird taste from the crème cheese ice cream but weird it was not! More or less licked the bowl clean.

Interesting tip: Brace yourselves for a wall of roast ducks when you head to the washroom.

Mr Wong on Urbanspoon

Mr. Wong
3 Bridge Lane, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.
Tel: +61 2 9240 3000
Open daily 12:00pm to 3:00pm, 5:30pm to 10:00pm (Sunday)/11:00pm (Monday to Wednesday)/12:00am (Thursday to Saturday)
*Bookings allowed for lunch and groups of 6 or more for dinner

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Tea Salon

The Tea Salon is located at an eye-catching location and sports an English concept of well, tea.

To help shoppers decide on whether to take a pitstop here or upstairs at the food court, they have a menu displayed at their entrance.

And like any other shopping or makan place, they were packed on a weekend.

We tried to contain our laughter when we were given the tableware. So, ahem, we were going to have tea with the Queen!

Their hot chocolate ($4.50) was quite thick.

And we had the typical English tea and scones. A pot of tea set us back $5.50.

We had Classic High Tea ($39) to share, which included four afternoon tea ribbon sandwiches:
1) Chicken, mustard, lemon, thyme, roasted almond and celery
2) Smoked salmon, rocket, lemon and capers
3) Cucumber and dill butter
4) Roast beef, horseradish cream and baby cress

And also assorted sweets:
1) Salted chocolate and coconut macaroon
2) Strawberry and rhubarb tarlet
3) Mini rose panna cotta with Persian fair floss
4) Vanilla cupcake with fresh passionfruit topping

As each person was entitled to one scone, we chose a Spiced Cinnamon and Raisin scone and a Lavendar scone. Do not be deceived by how tiny they look. By the time we got to halfway, we were full already.

The Tea Salon
Westfield Sydney, Level 4 (Designer Gallery), cnr Pitt Street and Market Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.
Tel: +61 2 9233 2231
Monday to Wednesday & Friday 9:30am to 5:30pm
Thursday 9:30am to 7:00pm
Saturday 9:30am to 6:00pm
Sunday 10:00am to 6:00pm

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café @ Darling Quarter

Since Guylian opened a branch at Darling Quarter, we have made it our dessert place in addition to Lindt. Each visit would see one of us placing an order for a Guylian Hot Chocolate ($7.50), which is a special blend chocolate drink with a choice of milk, dark or praline. 

For those who enjoy their drinks cold, the Guylian Iced Chocolate ($8.50) is a satisfying choice. I have always found the cold version not as sweet as the hot version.

On special occasions, we would order cakes, too. We have tried the 100% Pleasure ($16.00), Belgian chocolate mousse with almond panna cotta and Guylian shiny icing. To me, this does not have the wow factor but perhaps not being a big fan of panna cotta did not help, either.

However, I really enjoyed the Guylian Dark Baked Chocolate Cake ($16.00), a rich Belgian chocolate cake with signature ganache and a scoop of white chocolate and raspberry ice cream. The cake was really rich and the sour taste in the ice cream helped to balance the flavours.

On one occasion, I tried the Tiramisu ($15.50), mascarpone sabayon cream with chocolate sponge fingers and dark chocolate paillete feuilletine. I thought it could do with just that bit more of alcohol...

Service is normally quick but be strategic with which day and time you choose to visit. Weekends are normally very crowded.

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe on Urbanspoon

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café @ Darling Quarter
TR5/TR6 1-25 Harbour Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.
Tel: +61 2 9283 1947, Fax: +61 2 9283 2398
Open daily 8:00am till late

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Flying Teapot Cafe

Recently, a friend has been frequenting a cafe, apparently new in our hood. The photos she shared showed a place in a lot of pink and with a unique name, Flying Teapot. One night, we chose this cafe as our catch up venue.

Just like in the photos, the main theme colour of this cafe was pink. Different shades of pink were presented in the paint, decor and furniture.

However, the main theme was, as you could assume from the name of the cafe, teapots. As such, the place was decorated with many teapot fixtures, such as teapot lampshades, teapot lighting, teapot telephone, teapot clock and teapot holders to name a few.

In addition to their main product of tea (they serve a variety of different black, green, flower and fruit tea), they are also a vegetarian cafe.

If we arrived earlier, we would have tried their selection of cakes, too.

We were reminded that each person would have to order at least one drink. Payment here is still cash only.

Seems like the open kitchen concept is catching on back here, too. Like many places in Sydney, the trend is to allow diners a chance to watch the kitchen in action. 

They also had this in one corner:

Perfect place to goof around and take photos for people like my crazy friends...

They even had a portion of the shop set up as a clothes boutique. This part of the shop carried a sailor theme. In case you are wondering, it was Korean fashion with pricing comparable to some more well-known brands sold in our shopping malls.

I found their menu creatively designed. It was in a newspaper format and did not have too many things to look at. Sometimes, less is more, as the more choices we consumers are given, the more confused we become.

Diners have the option of having tea for one (ranging from RM8.90-RM12.90/AUD3.05-AUD4.40) or tea for two (ranging from RM15.00-RM19.00/AUD5.10-AUD6.50).

Our orders of tea came accompanied by a teapot-shaped bickie served on a teapot-shaped saucer.

Just look at the adorable teapot!

As I was the only person who had not had dinner, I ordered a plate of Toona Spaghetti (RM16.90/AUD5.80), which I enjoyed. Although light, fragrant with herbs and sufficient in portion.

Perhaps as early childhood educators, we pay attention to artsy and adorable details - we noticed that our plates had different fruit motives.

Friendly service, inviting ambience, clean environment and ample parking available. The best part was that they made eating vegetarian food less boring. Would definitely visit again!

Flying Teapot Cafe
9-1 Ground Floor, Jalan SP 2/7, Taman Serdang Perdana, Sek 2, 43300 Seri Kembangan, Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel: +60 3 8940 9168
Monday to Saturday 12:00pm to 10:00pm
*Cash transactions only