Chaatkazz, Harris Park, Sydney

Chaatkazz is a buzzy restaurant serving vegetarian Indian street food and farsan (snacks) conveniently located a few minutes walk from the Harris Park train station. In the three times we’ve been to the Indian suburb of Harris Park, Chaatkazz was always packed, and tables are full of families of various ethnic groups.

The menu has a mind-boggling repertoire of dishes. Continue reading


Devon Café, Surry Hills, Sydney

Sometimes there is just that combination of the familiar with the new that makes a dish exceptional. Devon Café has garnered much praise for their innovative take on traditional brunch dishes. Zacharay Tan, Devon Café’s head chef calls upon his Penang (Malaysian) roots and Bistro Guillaume training to develop a quirky (and utterly delicious) Asian fusion menu.

BL and I have been for dinner at Devon on Danks, and finally made it to their original outlet in Surry Hills for breakfast. This unassuming café sits alongside other eateries on Devonshire St mere minutes from Central train station. The service is efficient, and attentive.

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Sydney Fish Market, Pyrmont, Sydney

I made it a point not to eat at the Sydney Fish Market (SFM) in the year I was living in Sydney. It seemed, well, too touristy (yes, I am ashamedly aware of the hypocrisy). There are always throngs of tourists chowing down on what seemed like overpriced seafood platters in a canteen-like atmosphere.

PicMonkey Collage

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy visiting SFM but only to purchase seafood. We’ve bought crabs, Moreton Bay bugs, prawns, mussels and fish. All very fresh, and marvellous. The selection is enviable; if it’s in season, you’ll find it. Plus there are multiple reputable vendors to select from.

Eating at the SFM is one of the picks for Grab Your Fork’s top Cheap Eats for Tourists, so I was keen to see if it really was affordable (my yardstick for an affordable meal out is $20 per person).

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Food finds in Coromandel

I have fond silly memories of the Coromandel region. My very good friend Gen and I embarked on a road trip when we were fresh graduates, where we wore commemorative toe rings (yes, really), got completely lost (who knew we were both so deficient at reading maps) and ogled the hunky waiter at a café in Coromandel township.

Cathedral Cove

15 odd years later, I finally made a return visit. This time sans toe rings, and with a spouse who knows the area.

Hot Waves Café
BL’s cycling trips in the Coromandel always included a meal at the very cozy and welcoming Hot Waves Café. Hot Waves Café is right beside the famed Hot Water Beaches, where you can dig your own hot pool at the junction of where the hot springs meets the seawater. Continue reading

Mr Bao, CBD, Sydney

I have a delicious obsession with gua baos, those Taiwanese street food of fluffy soft buns enveloping all manners of delicious meats with various pickles and condiments. In my last visit to Sydney, I chanced upon a new outlet.

Mr Bao opened their permanent outlet on York Street’s George Arcade on 7 August, building on their popularity at the Bondi Farmers Market and various festival markets. Their outlet at the end of the arcade is cheerful and fresh, offering 5 versions of their Vietnamese/Japanese take on gua baos, for $6 each or two for $11. Great value.

PicMonkey Collage1 Continue reading

The Bistro, Taupo, New Zealand

It has been a long, long while since my last visit to Taupo. I used to zip up the western bypass route on my rush to get to Auckland. Taupo is a thermal playground for families, and my recollection of its food scene is basic, cheerful and thoroughly forgettable. This time around, I was keen to experience the more refined end of the dining spectrum.

Hochstetter Cauldron at Orakei Korako

Hochstetter Cauldron at Orakei Korako

Monday is not a day for dining out, as we quickly discovered that it was rest day for most of the better restaurants. Luckily, The Bistro had recently decided to open on Mondays. A quick peruse of their online menu and we were salivating.

The Bistro’s look and feel is that of a smart, yet cosy space. The wait staff was a delight, she was friendly, a bit intense and totally efficient. Continue reading

Hawker, Chinatown, Sydney

Mamak is a stalwart on the Asian dining scene in Sydney (and Melbourne), and I rely on their roti canai and rojak on days when I crave the tastes of home. The creators of Mamak opened Hawker on the 22 Dec 2014. While Mamak focuses on the Malaysian Muslim Indian street cuisine, Hawker recreates Malaysian Chinese street food.

I was simultaneously excited and worried; we Malaysians are rabid, ummm… overly passionate about how Malaysian food should taste. Throw in the regional adaptations and personal preferences, you just need to sit back and watch the furrowed brows and critics come out. The menu at Hawker is Penang- and KL-based; therefore some of these were different from what I grew up with in Sibu and Kuching. Continue reading

Wonderbao, CBD, Melbourne

Recently, I did a roundup of the best gua baos in Sydney, and I put Wonderbao at # 2. Yes, I know they are not based in Sydney. My excuse is that I was first introduced to Wonderbao at the Sydney Noodle Night Markets, and became thoroughly enamored. So much so that when I found myself back in Melbourne after that, I made a beeline for their tiny outlet in the city.

Wonderbao is located down a corridor in a truly non-descript commercial building next to RMIT campus. You know you’re in the right place when you see steamers, a row of large bamboo steamers bellowing tantalising columns of steam.

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Warisan Uncle Man’s, CBD, Auckland

Warisan is the Malay word for heritage. And it’s pronounced Uncle ‘Mahn’. Uncle (or pakcik in Malay) Man’s is a Malaysian restaurant serving up traditional Malaysian food, plus some extras on busy K-Road. Unlike most (if not all) Malaysian restaurants in Auckland, Warisan Uncle Man’s is run by Malays, so the Malay cuisine here is expected to be top notch.

I had heard several family members and friends rave about this place and was eager to check it out upon my return to Auckland. A catch up with some Malaysian kaki (friends) created the ideal opportunity to see what the fuss was about.

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Pickled Pig, Warrnambool, Australia

One of the must-do tourist experiences in Australia is the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. This is a heritage coastal drive which takes in stunning surf beaches, rock formations, shipwreck sites, rock formations sculpted by the waves, and wildlife reserves. This is the home of the iconic 12 Apostles and London Bridge (which fell down in 1990).

We started at Torquay and drove along Great Ocean Road to Warrnambool where we decamped for the night. Just 20 minutes from Warrnambool is Tower Hill reserve, where an extinct volcano crater has created an inland island. At dawn or dusk, the animals are out in force. Our pre-breakfast stroll was alongside mobs of kangaroos, wallabies and emus grazing in the reserve. A friendly local pointed out a lone koala in the gum tree overlooking the car park. The animals here are so used to human presence, you can get very close to them. The lookout points on the rise, alongside Lake View Road have spectacular views of the reserve. Continue reading