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

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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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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

Jasmins Restaurant, Lakemba & Abla’s Pastries, Granville

Sydney’s biggest draw card is its vibrant multicultural population. Lakemba, a southwestern Sydney suburb is the epicentre of the Australian Lebanese community, and we came here to join the diners at Jasmins Restaurant.

Jasmins is beautiful to walk into, it has a traditional décor with domed ceiling, beautiful friezes on the walls depicting the architecture of castles and ports and marble fixtures.

Coming from Malaysia and New Zealand, Middle Eastern cuisine is a mystery to me. Sure, most dinner parties tend to start with a supermarket hummus, everyone has had the odd falafel and no one turns down a late night lamb sharwma wrapped in pita. I’ve dabbled at the fringes like everyone, and was looking forward to my first Lebanese restaurant experience.

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Blue Moon Restaurant, Wentworthville, Sydney

Since I moved to Sydney 8 months ago, we had not eaten any Indian food. A couple of weekends ago, we took a drive out west to Wentworthville to check out Indian supermarkets for some tea dust to make a Sarawakian drink called teh C peng (iced tea with evaporated milk and attap sugar). And time to eat some excellent Indian food.

There were a couple of large supermarkets on Station Road, but first, lunch beckoned. Blue Moon Restaurant specializes in cuisine from the region of Kerala and Sri Lanka. This sleepy restaurant, which disguises itself as a takeaway joint, has very basic décor. Think plastic flowers, restaurant name painted over the previous tenant’s signage and then there are the blue lights.

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Interior design aside, there was only three other people waiting for their food when we arrived on a Sunday, close to noon. Knowing that Blue Moon had rated very highly on a Telegraph newspaper survey of Indian restaurants last August, I only had a passing moment of anxiousness.

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Hunt for the best gua baos in Sydney

Gua baos are a taste sensation. These Taiwanese steamed buns traditionally filled with braised pork belly and pickled vegetables were made world famous by David Chang of Momofuku fame, and are claiming their status as the ‘in’ food for the trendy. You can now get them in different versions, with chicken, tofu, beef and even soft shell crab. They are more regularly called pork buns, though I think of pork buns as the completely enclosed buns, not these half sandwich looking baos.

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Gua baos have been spreading through Auckland before I left New Zealand. Blue Breeze Inn in Ponsonby made them a signature dish, and Chinoiserie in Mt Albert serves predominantly modern takes of gua baos in a bar setting. BL and I have been hunting them out since we moved to Sydney last year.

We’ve eaten downright terrible versions, mediocre ones and some excellent interpretations. Of the seven we have had, here’s the list from worst to best. (I have only included those that are easily available). A good gua bao has the right balance of salty, sour, sweet flavours and chewy, crunchy, soft textures. All in one bite. The bun should be warm, fluffy and soft, not dry or tacky. The meat is tender and well seasoned; the pickled vegetable still has a crunch. Continue reading

LuMi Bar & Dining, Pyrmont, Sydney

LuMi Bar & Dining is a jewel of a modern Italian eatery situated at the Pyrmont pier, with 270 degrees of views looking out onto the pier and Sydney wharf. LuMi has amassed a stack of accolades for its highly talented young chef who has created an innovative modern Italian menu.

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As a Valentine’s Day splurge, I decided to make a booking at LuMi. But that was only because I was a novice at the Valentine’s Day restaurant game. I quickly realised that bookings for Valentine’s Day are scarce, and if you do find an opening, there is a ‘special’ Valentine’s Day fixed menu, which is way more expensive than the regular menu. It was enough to make me forgo the whole thing. Luckily things settle down the day after, so I made my booking for post Valentine’s Day to sample LuMi’s famous 8-course degustation menu ($95) for lunch. The other advantage in dining out the day after Valentine’s Day? You can just about have the place to yourselves. Continue reading

Devon by Night @ Devon on Danks, Waterloo, Sydney

If you are a Sydneysider, you have probably seen thousands of instagrammed photos of the beautiful Asian-inspired cronuts, donuts and soft-serve ice-creams that Devon on Danks and the original Devon Café in Surry Hills serves up for breakfast and lunch daily, among other delectable dishes.

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It’s not as well-known that come Wednesday to Saturday evenings, Devon on Danks morphs into Devon by Night, a bistro serving east-meets-west small plates dining. It’s the perfect showcase for its very talented Penang-raised chef Zacharay Tan.

When BL and I came here with friends a couple of months ago (yes, I have taken blog posting tardiness to a new level), we parked several blocks away expecting lots of traffic. Only to find… There. Was. No Traffic. We could have parked 20m down from the door. Devon on Danks is located in a corner by some commercial buildings, a church and not much else. In the evenings, you can nearly see tumbleweeds. Okay, not really, but for Sydney standards, this is a quiet street at night.

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Battle of the Sydney phở restaurants: Phở Tāu Bay vs An Restaurant

Phở, or Vietnamese noodle soup, is the quintessential comfort food. It’s warming, hearty, flavourful and soothing. In Sydney, with its large Vietnamese population, there are Vietnamese restaurants spruiking their version of phở in every suburb. The best are in the Viet-town suburbs (Cabramatta, Bankstown, Canley Vale, Haymarket), where there are competing phở restaurants.

The two grandmasters duking it out year after year are Phở Tāu Bay, Cabramatta and An Restaurant, Bankstown. Every review site will hail one of them as providing the best bowl of nourishing beef noodle soup this end of the world.

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Burger Liquor Lobster, Manly, Sydney

Manly is a suburb which behaves as if it is perpetually on spring break. The natives walk around in swimwear, or barely covered up in resortwear. Seriously. I saw girls in neoprene bikinis at the intersection, guys in boardshorts, and then there were the men walking through the Corso in swimming shorts that looked like underwear. Sometimes you just have to avert your eyes. There are ice-cream stands, juice stands and hot dog stands. There were toddlers playing in fountains, and buskers singing. It’s a happy, shiny, chilled out place. Continue reading