Sunday, 9 November 2008

Urban Bites

When you think of angry man, you think Jason Statham in Crank. For a fool, maybe a Brendan Fevola. The truth, Paul Pierce, cause he can motherf*ckin play. I like the epitomes in life. Or at least try seek them out.

It’s chilled, casual, relaxed environment with it’s arty grundgy edges has King St (without all the cars) all over it. Adding to that, the food is nothing outstanding (save for Oscillate Wildly, Gelatomassi and maybe Guzman) but it certainly is satisfying.

The name says it all. No surprises on this cafĂ© menu, there’s your coffees, juices which won’t tread on too many toes. Find the steak sanga, the meat is minute steak with a sunny side egg, bacon and a healthy dose of barbeque sauce on top, served opened on Turkish bead with lettuce tomato, cucumber and beetroot slices. Chips stock up the still hungry. The Bite burger on the other hand comes with wedges instead straight from the packet, the meat to bun ratio is poor with the beef pattie sitting on a fat white roll, again served open with a good dollop of tomato sauce and seeded mustard with the same salad. Eggs benedict is a tame affair, the eggs well poached, the hollandaise sauce lacking zang and zing.

Good enough for the locals who flock to the outdoor tables on those sunny days and whilst it doesn’t impress yet not much to fault, Urban Bites could very well by the epitome of the Newtown eatery.

2 / 5 yums!
Where? 58 King St, Newtown, NSW
What? Under $18

Left to Right : Juices, Steak sandwich, Bites Burger, Eggs Benedict

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Una’s (now Essen)

Quality is the food that bounces off the menu which takes a snapshot of the flavours from Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Hungary. One can start of with the assortment of schnapps and on special occasions the imported spirits arrive via novelty toy medical vehicles (signifying that you could quite possibly end up in a medical institution having your stomach pumped after shotting the devil’s liquid), chasing it down with beers also from a foreign land. You could go the goulash or pork knuckle, but what all hungry souls seeking something to soak up the booze are the varieties of schnitzels. The vienna (veal) and chicken are choice, thinly crumbed and deep fried to a crisp but remaining reasonably moist inside. The jaeger versions come topped with a creamy rich mushroom sauce and all come with a rosti, shallow fried strands of thickly grated potato cris-crossed into a thick hash brown. The food contains plenty heart (though not from any animal), and you’ll need a good one yourself to handle the plate size proportions.

2.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 135 Broadway, Ultimo, NSW
What? Under $19

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Taj Agra

Few Indian restaurants I’ve been to that have attempted to go Establishment or Boutique upmarket have impressed. Overpriced and undervalued for listless, tasteless curries which can be found at your local food court. Give me the cheap and nasty any hour, any day of the week. Sit me on a freakin milk crate and make me eat off my lap, will come with own stainless steel if the food is awesome.

Hungry, tired and sick of Oriental food, Taj Agra was one of the few things in Dickson my party were willing to try. What’s wrong with Ethiopian I ask?

Upon entering through the purple framed glass doors, things didn’t feel quite right. Things were too comfortable, the neutral tan tones splashed on the walls, off white suede upholstered chairs, sharp and clean wooden table tops, wine glasses ready and waiting. It was too much, and too late, we had already been shown our seats.

The usuals appear, from your vindaloos to rogan joshs, butter chickens to kormas and briyani. If the mainstream Indian doesn’t appeal, there’s the Pakistani section to tickle the fancy, though the ordered Pakistani lamb dish used meat that was gristly and seemed about as old as your grandfolks. The rest is pleasant enough though the garlic naan almost charred to the point that could have set off smoke alarms. The price certainly did the customer no favours either; paying a price that did not represent value for the portions presented.

A massive generalisation: places like this share the Establishment flaws, pretending to be something it ain’t with an exterior that hides a distinct lack of substance. Pass me that milk crate from Hyde Park anyday.

1.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 35 Woolley St, Dickson, ACT
What? Mains Under $16

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Spicy Sichuan Restaurant

Should have the direct line for the fire brigade programmed into the speed dial and it would be a good idea to ensure your health’s insured before stepping into this restaurant. Ok, it’s not that bad, but there’s a major risk of ring burn downstairs if you have too much of the hot stuff. Have a carton of full cream Diary Farmers ready.

It is the cuisine from Sichuan they serve up here, renowned for their fiery flavours. The place has a regal Chinese feel to it, and no expense is spared with the grand murals, glass covered table tops with the Asian trimmings fit for an Empress. Certainly living up to the restaurant’s name, the food is spicy, with most things tasting of hot from the chilli, dried chilli, chilli oil and anything else you can think of with chilli in it. Stir fried bitter melon, stewed beef, vermicelli and the connected fried pork and chive dumplings provide some respite to the barrage of spiciness.

But it’s the strangely named “Multi Flavoured Chicken” that’s one of the reasons people flock. Sliced chicken on the bone drowns in a scarlet pool of oil, chilli, garlic and other secret ingredients garnished with roasted peanuts and sliced spring onion. I’m not going to lie to you, whilst the chicken annoyingly has far too much skeletal tissue, the red liquid is extremely tasty. Tasty in the evil kind of way because if you drank the stuff, it’s a guaranteed way to clog up the arteries. Doubled cooked pork is untrimmed but that’s a good thing, the fat glistens and adds extra flavour as it’s stir fried in another tasty yet mild (in comparison to most) chilli oil mixture. A must is the “would you like any meat with your dried chilli”, the lightly coated fried chicken littered with what T likes to dub “bastard bombs”, little Sichuan peppercorns and ginger shoots. It could be a window to weight gain but that’s unlikely to happen as those little bombs cause a numbing tingling sensation that may cause fears that you may never taste again. Either that or because you’ve become senseless and delirious from the heat, you’ll just eat more.

Repeat visits won’t hurt your bank balance as it’s reasonably good value, but something else might be hurting in the region most people keep their wallets.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 1-9 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, NSW
What? Entrees $10, Mains $20

Monday, 3 November 2008


You could go to France for a quality baguette but there’s Victoire in Balmain. A plane trip to Indonesia for Ayam Goreng but there’s 99 in Kingsford. Why wait for the loo at home when you could relieve yourself on a mansion fence on St Georges Road? You could travel far to get something, but why not go local?

Silvas is one such local, the place that causes all the surrounding inner west suburbs to experience the kind of jealously felt by the kid without the LCM. As intense is the peri peri sauce, lovingly basted over the poultry meat that’s got a false teeth chompy red chilli, garlic and lime kick which is somewhat neutralised by fried chips and a fried rice Portuguese style. Something with a bit of barbaric Neanderthal, the very meaty, thickly diced beef marinaded in madeira and charcoal charred is presented on a hanging skewer dangling teasingly at eye level. “EAT ME” it beckons so you do as ordered.

You can go to Nandos, Oporto, Ogalo or some other sell out Portuguese chook franchise to get your fix but there’s nothing like the local that’s so close, you could roll out of bed to find to find your lips pressed against food worthy to be exchanged for your cash.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? Shop 1, 82-86 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham, NSW
What? Chicken $18 or cheaper take away

Left to Right : Portuguese Chicken, Madeira Beef

Friday, 31 October 2008

Shanghai Night

The name bears no similarities to the horrible sequel to Shanghai Noon. It’s Jackie Chan Asian (though not from his part of China) soul food that’s churned out of the kitchens. Raw (well not literally, be assured it’s thoroughly cooked) stuntman honesty and provides the same cheap (and I mean cheap), fun entertaining thrills. Thinly sliced new year glutinous rice cake and hand made noodles are as slippery to catch as Keung and yet remaining Dragon punch firm, stir fried with strips of pork and wom bok. Pork and chive dumplings, steamed or fried are Sammo Hung plump, pan fried pork buns topped with sesame seeds are a must. Splash with Chinese vinegar to give both a roundhouse kick to the face. Quality broth keeps the meat filling warm in the siu lung bao, but be careful, it has as much fire and heat as a fight sequence with the Drunken Master.

For the after mains, my favourite Asian desert ingredient, the sweetened red bean is mashed into a paste and squished between a flour batter and fried to a crisp, the maroon gel oozing when split. Whilst the fare is no where near as elaborate as the stunts performed by the nice guy from Hong Kong, for the price of admission to see some of his great films, you’re guaranteed an equally great meal.

3.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 275 Liverpool Road, Ashfield, NSW
What? Under $10

Left to Right : New Year Rice Cake, Pork Dumplings, Pan Fried Pork Buns, Siu Lung Bao, Fried Red Bean Slice

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

San Churro

This Mediterranean chocolate paradise snugly fits into the eclectic foodscape on Glebe Point Road, perfect for that after meal sugar hit or anytime you want a legal high. To think of it, I couldn’t care less where they served the deep fried horns of piped dough, golden brown crispy on the outside yet cloudy fluffy on the in, dusted with icing sugar and served with a chocolate dipping sauce of either dark, milk or really milky. Playing second fiddle to the main attraction are some equally addictive treats made with chocolate modelled in the form of cakes, ice cream or drinks. Much better than Cadbury pieces also on display, a selection of gourmet creations for you to take home and snuggle.
3 / 5 yums!
Where? 47 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe, NSW
What? Under $10

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Saap Thai

Saap Thai, an established city eatery, a top 10 choice amongst the cost conscious and student crowd looking for a quick feed. There’s a Franklins feel to the place with its squeaky clean and inoffensively fitted slender shop. All the Thai regulars are here so with no surprises. The flavours don’t have the depth churned out by other Thai places located within a whips crack but no complaints, it is no frills after all.

2 / 5 yums!
Where? 378 Pitt St, Sydney, NSW
What? Most under $12

Monday, 27 October 2008

Roof Bar

Float above the smog of the Sydney CBD, the Roof Bar facing Pitt Street Mall is the perfect place to sneak a few cheeky ones in at lunch or during your “coffee” break. If the heat during summer is too much, stay inside in the lounge areas with the stunning views of Bing Lee below. But you’re not a wimp who wastes the precious Sydney sun... are you? So grab your chosen poison and head outside as there are plenty of heat retaining black outdoor settings shaded by oversized beer sponsored umbrellas to block out the UV rays. Bar food that really only plays a support act to the venue and the booze, there are your typical pizzas, chips and wedges available. For lunch, the grilled chicken burger between a couple of suspect buns but at least contains fresh gourmet leaves comes with crisp yet overly oily chips, the same with the greasy battered fish with a store bought tartare that leaves one’s face feeling as though it’ll break out like a voice breaking young lad. Unforgettable bar, forgettable food.

1.5 / 5 yums!
Where? Skygarden, 77 Castlereagh St, Sydney, NSW
What? Bar Meals $10ish

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