Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Hoh Won

Every now and again you get lucky. Sneaking behind a dumpster on Caledonian Lane, taking a leak when you’re bladder is bursting and not getting caught by passing boys in blue, despite the steam from the stream trickling down the alley. The 7th nugget in the 6 pack at the Golden Arches. Going home with a lady or fella to their place to… errr… sleep and avoiding the $80 cab ride home to Cherrybrook.

Extremely privileged to have been introduced to a local delicacy and consider it a leprechaun, a rare find. Hoh Won is something to be cherished. Cheap, cheerful, but most of all, damn good. So good I’d miss the grand opening for the new McFeast burger for the food here. ShanDong Chicken feels like the extra shake after relieving yourself, if you know what I mean. Colgate white poultry meat, skin that inch by inch has been crisped, lathered in a light soy and rice wine marinade that’s infused with garlic, spring onion and gentle slap in the face from fresh red chillies. Yum yum yum yum yum. Plenty of other choices such as the honey sweet Peking Pork Ribs, Chicken Wet Fried Noodles that sounds like Homosexual Hooker Good Times with a lovely, starchy, chicken stock gravy and won ton noodle soup.

Whilst the décor makes you feel like growing a mean set of handle bars, squeezing into denim flares and popping that oversized collar to fit in with the deliberate 70s feel, cab it and lead to the Hoh Won direction. I guarantee you will get lucky.

4 / 5 yums!
Where? 134 Anzac Parade, Kensington, NSW
What? Under $12

Left to Right : ShanDong Chicken, Peking Pork Ribs, Kang Kung

Happy Chef

They’re a smiley team at Happy Chef
They’re the cheery Happy Chefs
They love their soups and cooked noodles
Cooked fresh, straight to your mouth (at Happy Chef)
Come what may, you find a wide range
Luke Mangan thinks it’s alright
Yan Can Cook gives his thumbs ups
Must be good enough for you
They are the Happy Happy Chefs

2.5 / 5 yums!
Where? Sussex Center, Shop F3 401 Sussex St, Haymarket, NSW
What? Noodles and noodles Under $10

Left to Right : Spicy Beef Brisket and Dry Noodles

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Guzman y Gomez

Guzz Man WHY Gomez? Sounds Mexican but my Spanish ain’t so well. Instead of figuring out how to pronounce the name of this place, just tell your mates to meet you at the joint that does true Mex with a fetish for black and white pixelated images, newspapers against splashes of yellow with a big dark table you could lie on.

If that’s a mouthful, wait til you see the menu. Relatively straight forward… choose your soft tortilla: small sized Quesadillas (that’s keh-sah-dee-ya to you punk) which is kinda like a cheese fold over, medium Taco (not what you’re thinkin) which is kinda like a half fold over or the mother Burrito which is kinda like a non fried Chicko Roll but heaps healthier. Then your meat filling from a zesty chargrilled chicken or prawns in Yellow Mole, the BBQ spiced chicken, beef, fish or tofu Gurrero, a mysterious D.F. Steak and Onion, Pork Chipotle or the “it ain’t a meal if it ain’t got meat” rabbit food options of grilled pepper & onion, grilled mushrooms or black bean. Finish it off with salsas of tomato, jalapeno, coriander and chilli in mild, medium hot and hot. Go the GYG Nachos for the brainless choice.

Satisfying that key criteria to be fast food, could this be the industry’s new black? Great value with most under $10, it’s Subway fresh that’s Selma Hayek foxy, lean and fat free.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 175 King St, Newtown; 1A Bronte Rd, Bondi Junction; Bayswater Rd, Kings Cross, NSW
What? Most under $10

Left to Right : Fish Guerrero Burrito, Pork Guerrero Taco, Black Bean Taco, GYG Nachos, Chicken Guerrero Burrito

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Glebe Point Diner

An instant classic. A throwback to the good old days. Chubby Checker’s “The Twist”. Street’s Golden Gaytimes. Get Smart. Disney’s “Mary Poppins”.

The twist in this episode, the almost charming, lackadaisical, casual feel to this place, daring to deviate from the norm. Windows as tall as Wilt the Stilts Chamberlain and some open up the diner to the quiet part of Glebe Point Road. Smart white wicker chairs for the alfresco compliments the liquorice black and pearly white candy stripes inside. Makes you feel like lickin the walls.

Golden times indeed, certain to make people happy, deep fried zucchini flowers are delicately battered, lightly seasoned, stuffed with creamy, ricotta, oozy filling, absent of excess oil. Even better, slices of medium rare duck from NSW in a salad of watercress, sherry vinaigrette, matched with just ripe black figs. Imagine the textures of tender meat with the sweet flesh of fruit, a gaytime (not in the woman woman man man way) indeed.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Ms Poppins, beauty in the Coorong beef flank, cooked to medium rare, roasted tenderly with snake beans and caramelised eschalot, arrive with homemade, hand cut French fries. Chim Chim Cher-ee good comes in the form of Bermagui Moon Fish boneless fillet, pan fried to a slight golden brown with sauteed spinach, roasted potato sauced with a refreshingly biting lemon preserve.

However, missed by that much, the desserts didn’t match the CONTROL of the previous courses. Plum tart was exactly that, a little too tart, the vanilla crème patissiere not enough to balance whilst the base a bit biscuity hard and crumbly. 99 in appearance, but 86 bungled, the rosemary and honey pannacotta with apricot jam looked a treat, though, was more liquid than Don Adams’ solid portrayal. Chief would be frustrated.

Despite this anomaly, it’s hard not to love the place. With an extensive wine list, a Larrabee knowledgeable wait team and prices that will have you return for multiple re-runs, better book yourself a seat for the whole of Sydney wants to eat here. Okay okay… would you believe that there’s a pretty long waiting list for the Diner on Glebe Point Road?

4 / 5 yums!
Where? 407 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe, NSW
What? Entrees $15, Mains $25, Desserts $14

Left to Right : Zucchini Flowers, Duck Salad, Beef Flank, Moon Fish, Plum Tart, Pannacotta

Monday, 14 April 2008

Flying Fajita Sisters

“Deal or No Deal” shares my sentiments for Mexican food. Not a fan. Not that it’s clumsy, or an ill conceived idea that to this day leaves me scratching my ass as to why people enjoy the show. The cuisine from that country south of NSW, I mean Canadia has never really did much for me. Tex Mex, it just tries too hard to please, kind of like the host of that TV show. That was until a cabbie, playing reggaeton and with a slight American accent told stories about how his wife had been a predator of true Mexican food in the big apple and that her hunting adventures had taken them to little place in Glebe, with it’s little courtyard out the back, is probably the number one target. With a music taste like that and advice from a seemingly well travelled gent, sure… lets play… DEAL.

So you venture into the main dining area that feels like you could pull over that poncho, slap on a sombrero, lean up against a wall and go for a siesta. Further through is the courtyard as promised, though not as charming as described, feeling more like a fenced cobble stoned driveway complete with the four legs. Dining by candles does set a healthy mood.

Easing into the grub, eliminate those hand made corn chips and dig out a healthy amount of dipping, a trio of pepian, a Mexican pesto of pureed pumpkin seeds and non-threatening green chilli, queso fundido made with charred tomato, melted cheese and a sweet, mildly spicy ancho chilli and frijoles of reddish brown bean stewed down with traditional spices and cheese. Envisaging a few of those cynical briefcases in my mind are being knocked off, temperate for this stuff is rising.

Mains are typically Mex, though made the traditional way. No Doritos style tacos here and most come with your choice of meat / non-meat fillings. Tamales, explained as a pre Hispanic sandwich, steamed parcelled brick red achiote pulled pork by a banana leaf, served with Mexican rice, black beans and two salsas which I mistakenly under utilised until the end, for until then, it was mildly pleasant with it’s spice blend. Burritos, a flour tortilla bounding a sour cream, cheese, tomato salsa and a sweetly smoked chicken comes with guac that’s neatly spiced allowing a full avocado hit.

Unfortunately all this hasn’t changed the brain’s opinion for the Mex. Deal or No Deal… okay game but bored knocking off cases… NO DEAL for me, happier to take the bank and run.

2.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 65 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe, NSW
What? Most under $20

Left to Right : Appetiser, Trio of pepian, queso fundido and frijoles, Tamale, Burrito

Sunday, 13 April 2008

East Ocean

The Prince Charles of Chinatown Chinese restaurants. With Golden Century ruling the nest, East Ocean will always play second fiddle. Unless there is a plot to assassinate the queen, it’ll always be a number two finish for the Ocean. An imperial oriental feel to the venue, a grand dining space fit for the underlings.

Start with some royal roast meats: roast pork, duck, BBQ pork, pork crackling and “rubber bands”. Salt and pepper squid is gourmet upped, lightly battered yet crispy and just enough spicy salt coating. Diced beef and black pepper sauce is ever so Charlie’s ass tender, the crispy skinned chicken does not have an Elizabeth wrinkle in sight. Eggplant with minced pork hotpot is raunchier than the Dutchess of Cornwell, as is the salt and pepper pork chop that is Ms Parker Bowles equal.

No shame in being in line for the throne but least it’ll be kept warm until that day.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 421-429 Sussex St, Haymarket, NSW
What? Most mains under $25

Left to Right : Roast meat assortment, Spicy Salt Squid, Black pepper beef, Crispy Skin Chicken, Eggplant and pork mince, Spicy Salt Pork, Veggies and Mushrooms, Mayonnaise Prawns

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Dickson Asian Noodle House

Jason Akamanis, not what it used to be. There was a time when Dickson Chinese Noodle House was Brownlow quality. The Hainan chicken rice was worth the stopover if driving through Canberra. It could have been used as a major attraction a la the mouth from Brisvegas. Chicken rice glistens under the spotlight, made with a true, homemade chicken stock. The generous chicken remains but is now a tad Simpson Desert, a bit dry. The rice replaced with an artificial yellow tinge not too far off Aka’s hair colour that is far inferior to its predecessor. You’ll need the garlic oyster sauce combo to save a parched eating hole. Failing to live up to the lofty high standards of the past, reeking of Aka since moving to the Bulldogs.

Char Kway Teow is an improvement, the flat noodles nicely smoked by a subtle charred flavour and a reasonable spicy kick. The laksa, which comes in diminutive half size right up to jumbo, is rich in flavour, hearty for a cold winter’s day, without destroying throat by chilli. Have it with chook, cow or things from the water.

Does bring a tear to the eye to see a former superstar in decline, you’d only hope that they can lift themselves off the turf and reclaim past glories.
2 / 5 yums!
Where? Shop 4, 29 Woolley Street, Dickson, ACT
What? Most mains under $12

Left to Right :
Char Kway Teow, Laksa, Hainan Chicken Rice

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Chinese Noodle Restaurant

The air is fresh. Welcome to lush vineyards that exists in the sanctuary within the eating nook under the Prince centre in the outer regions of Chinatown. A simple establishment, much like the country life that can be found here. Pictures help to explain the menu as one frolics through the choice of dumplings, stir fried noodles and a few mains thrown in. Steamed dumplings, thinly rolled dough filled with pork and chives and crimped to seal are juicy and Shiraz complex, just like they do it in the Chinese north. Draftstopper thick rice noodles are springy and silky that would be fun to bounce off should they make gigantic strands. De Bortoli value, Yering Station premium taste but cleanskin cheap in price and decor.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? Shop 7, 8 Quay St, Haymarket
What? Dumplings $6.50

Saturday, 5 April 2008

MART 130

MART 130 shouldn't be hard to find once you decrypt its name. ("MART "is tram backwards, stop 130). if you are too hungover drinking Ara the night before to solve the riddle, take the other advice... opposite Gunn Island hotel in that tram shed - don't ask, it makes sense once you're there.

brunch is a inevitable concept that Gen-Y's need to start embracing at they start moving into their late-20s. messy night drinkings followed by late-afternoon wake-ups are no more. the cursed habit of waking up at 7 every morning to get to work will destroy the ability to sleep-in on weekends. once awake - it's either the gym.. or its brunch.

MART 130 will ease the brunch transition into our lives. top coffee (brand is genovese), an award-winning plate of corn frittas (cheap-eats 2008) and cute milk bottles for drinking water. its a charming cosy cottage timber floors, small communal tables to share with other brunchers and well.. a slew of yummy mummies to eye out.

relax with a few friends, impress last night's date with a morning out or dash in for an after a yoga class.. brunch, its your new morning after.

3.5 / 5 yums!

Where? 107 Canterbury Rd, Middle Park, VIC (Tram Stop 130)
What? Eggs #1 and Corn Frittas

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Chicken Gourmet

Gut, queasy. Heart, beating a Brazilian samba. Body temperature, hot… then cold… then really hot… then you get the picture. Coordination, lacking. Yup, you’re drunk as a skunk and you’re in Canberra. Munchies? Heck yes. Where else for a late night feed but the nation capital’s finest.

Comparable to KFC? Not quite but damn it’s good. Managing through blurred vision and astounded that the cashier can comprehend the slurred “schlickin fluggar n ships”, out comes every intoxicated person’s saviour chicken burger and chips. Quick as a 9.74 second world record 100m sprint, a deep fried, battered chicken patty that’s lightly spiced with a bit of shredded lettuce (because it’s really important to get your vitamins at this time of night) is presented in-between two sesame sprinkled burger buns. Crinkle cut chips that are a little powdery is irrelevant as the gravy that saturates them makes one forget temporarily.

Wallet, empty. Food…worth it. Home… by foot.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 131 City Walk, City, ACT
What? I wish i remembered...

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Chat Thai

If Chat Thai were a woman, and I mean a real woman, she would be Angelina Jolie as Mrs Smith. A golden blend of dark, mysteriously sexy, ultra stylish, and ooooo so delicious. Cosy as the power couple became during and after the movie, the brick walls, dim mood lighting, large contemporary canvases, traditional Thai water holders, furniture from a faded era mixed with bentwood chairs give the place character. Well thought out and considered, the kind of effort you’d exert to adopt a Cambodian child. The queues for this place just as long so take a ticket and get in line.

Speaking of effort in producing a super child, superb food exits the kitchen though for the chefs probably nowhere near as pleasurable performing the processes the two went through (but who knows, whatever floats their boat) and a hell of a lot faster (unless Brad has anxiety issues). Instead of a cold bucket of water to snap one out of these thoughts, try Orileng, traditional thai black coffee or the heavily reduced caffeine Cha Dum Yen sweetened iced red tea.

The “no fanks Turkish… I’m sweet enough” Pad Thai is Girl, Interrupted quality without the over the top Lisa Rowe tendencies. The honest stir fry of rice noodles, peanuts, garlic chives, bean shoots, egg, sweetened ever so slightly by a bit of honey, so frequently ruined by Western bastardisation, has won me over. Gaeng Keaw Gai, chicken green curry made with galangal, kaffir limes lemongrass is lovingly cooked, so aromatic with an unexpectedly distinct lime kick at the end that so many green curries tried before have lacked. Yes Mrs Smith... I have been a naughty boy. Taking on a Jolie persona, Mu Pad Prik Khing is smoking as the dominatrix in the black latex corset and CFM boots: pork loin mince stir fried in a paste of roasted chilli, galangal, with green beans and fresh chilli gives the tongue and month and all mighty whipping. Continuing the flavour pleasure, Bpla Choo Chee, the snapper in a deeply rich red curry made from you guessed it, galangal, kaffir limes, lemongrass, palm sugar, garlic and chilli, explodes in the eating orifice like a fighting married couple with access to an excess of firearms and weren’t afraid to use them.

The final phase is a happy ending in the form of Lodt Shong Singapore, that is coconut milk with pandan flavoured balls of glutinous rice. Also taste the fresh mango and a sticky, glutinous coconut rice that’s probably taken all the fat from Jolie’s thighs.

Chat Thai truly have their act together, having refined the art of great food at a great venue. Bradgelina would be proud.

3.5 / 5 yums!

Where? 20 Campbell St, Haymarket, NSW
What? Mains most under $12

Left to Right : Orileng, Cha Dum Yen, Pad Thai, Gaeng Kea Gai, Mu Pad Prik Khing, Bpla Choo Chee, Mango Glutinous Rice, Lodt Shong Singapore
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