Sydney Food Diary: Doughnut Time, World Square

IMG_5282 So, apparently donuts are a thing again.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Mr [Damian] Griffiths founded Doughnut Time in February 2015 from a hole-in-the-wall kiosk in Fortitude Valley next door to his Chester Street Bakery [in Brisbane]. He got the idea from a visit to Chicago where he discovered people queueing around a building for a tiny alcove-like store selling doughnuts.

IMG_5281In less than a year Doughnut Time has spawned a multimillion-dollar business and a staff of 80 people in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney.

I’ve been noticing this popping up around Sydney and really wanted to try one…

I think it’s an attractive idea… the fun, gourmet donut, and the packaging and concept looks good.

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My donut tasted like a Krispy Kreme classic (not a bad thing, they’re good donuts) and then completely amped up with some crispy waffle cookie thing, a kit kat, and the glaze. Six bucks… I guess that’s what a pop-up gourmet donut costs these days…

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A fun way to indulge and get your regular sugar fix.

Doughnut Time Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Sushi Hero II, Darlinghurst

IMG_5254 A quick casual lunch with the fabulous Andy G who works nearby. How can you not like a restaurant called Sushi Hero II, advertising itself as a ‘conveying sushi bar’?

IMG_5277I was surprised how many dishes looked Chinese, including the tasty shrimp dumplings that I had. So, possibly this is a bit of an Asian fusion conveyor belt restaurant. The dishes I chose were nice enough.

Nothing special but a fine place for a quick meal in the area and the service was sweet.

Sushi Hero II Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Kujin, Elizabeth Bay

IMG_5279Kujin is our go-to place for dinner if we’re catching a show at the Hayes Theatre nearby. It’s great-quality, reasonably priced and delicious Japanese food. I was a little worried when we arrived that the service might be a little confused, as the waitress seemed quite tentative about taking our order and responding to our requests for wine and water.

But as the evening went on, I was very impressed (especially as a friend had had a terrible experience of service earlier that day at a high-end restaurant). The many dishes were paced perfectly; dishes were cleared; they were always available if we wanted something. So, well done on the service, Kujin.

IMG_5280Now for the food, this time I was able to exert control and decide on the menu. I ordered a sushi roll with wagyu beef (which didn’t quite hold together but was delicious), a weird eggplant with miso and cheese (delicious!), and some juicy pork gyoza. The mushroom tempura were perfection, as was the chicken karaage. The tofu salad was more average, as was the grilled miso kingfish, which I imagine was an effort to do miso black cod, a favourite dish of mine, but that fish is near impossible to find here in Australia. The kingfish was a little dry, not a perfect substitute. We also had an okonomiyaki, which was delicious, the traditional filled pancake-omelette sort of thing. Five dishes great, two dishes average, two bottles of nice enough white wine, and four happy diners. All for $200, about $50 a head.

Definitely recommended.

Kujin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Dai’s Golden Crown Restaurant, Cremorne

IMG_5251It’s Cremorne week on my food blog! Just by chance really: one night at Taronga zoo and the next at a movie at the amazing Cremorne Orpheum, and needing a meal both evenings. Dai’s Golden Crown is a humble and simple little place, serving up Chinese and Malaysian food.

IMG_5249We had deep-fried wonton to start with, as well as san choi boy. Our mains were some delicious mussels in black bean and chili sauce and steamed duck in crab sauce. After our meal, I thought: simple, basic Chinese food, tasty with no surprises. But in fact with a little reflection, the quality of the dishes was high. This was a very tasty meal, and at less than $80 for two of us, each with a glass of wine, a reasonably priced one (we got a further discount with my Entertainment card).

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Dai's Golden Crown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Muum Maam, Surry Hills

IMG_5213 If I try to figure out how I haven’t blogged or reviewed Muum Maam, it’s that I first went long before I started to do food blogging. In fact, as the restaurant opened just below my old apartment on Holt Street in Surry Hills, I was one of their first customers, and I am surprised every time that they recognise me as such.

Muum Maam means little glutton in Thai, and that’s what you’ll feel like. It really has spectacular food, whether for a quick lunch (as evidenced by the lines!) or for dinner. The space can get a bit loud, so I’d try to get something near the window or in a corner, and as you can see, the lighting is low, which is nice enough to dine by, but not good for food photos.

IMG_5212Muum Maam makes consistently delicious and interesting Thai food, on the elegant end of the spectrum. I think it’s as good as the more famous Thai eateries: Chat Thai, Home and Spice I Am… but you don’t have to fight for a table. And in fact, it’s definitely more elegant than any of them (except I haven’t tried the new upscale Spice I Am in Potts Point).

I can never go by the betel leaf wrap. I loved the red curry whole-fried barramundi (below). I’ve often had the pork belly curries or stir-fry, and their noodles (at lunch, usually) are great.

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Last time we went, the service, normally excellent and charming, was even more so… personality plus. And the wine (no BYO) was very good. It really is good this place. Give it a try.
Muum Maam Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Cafe Paris on King

IMG_5227 It seems like this cosy new cafe, at the end of King Street, is new. It’s barely got a Yelp listing, and now I’ve flagged it for Zomato. We just happened to stumble upon it, after going orchid shopping on the Prince Highway.

I’m loving that there’s a little Vietnamese cafe in this corner of the city, that serves up Pho, and Vietnamese sandwiches, and Vietnamese coffee.

IMG_5228I’ll try to stop back in to try other treats, but we couldn’t go by the sticky rice, with a bit of steamed chicken, ginger and shallots, a perfect little snack for five bucks.

And I had a Vietnamese ice coffee too… Which was a treat.

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Cafe Paris on King Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Dancing Zorbas, Mosman

IMG_5245 So, we’re heading back from Vivid at the Taronga Zoo on a Tuesday night and my better half says he’s so hungry he could eat the crotch off a low flying duck. For y’all foreigners, that’s Aussie talk!

IMG_5241My handy Entertainment Guide (a family legacy, we had this coupon when I was a kid, forty years ago) guided us to Dancing Zorbas in Mosman. Hey, I love Greek food.

The weird thing was feeling like we’d stumbled into a little Aussie coastal resort, and found a humble restaurant that happened to be open.

It had that airy sort of feeling, and sadly, an empty sort of feeling.

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In any case, it really felt like an Aussie institution, a restaurant that had been around for many years. This meant the food was fine, tasty and serviceable, not modern in any way. Reasonably priced.

We split a couple of appetizers (saganaki prawns, and deep-fried whitebait) and a moussaka.

IMG_5244Matched with two $6 glasses of wine (mine was a dry Greek white; I always try to have Greek wine in Greek restaurants).

IMG_5246Couldn’t resist having dessert, splitting a generous piece of baklava and a custard filled bougatsa, both warmed up. I think the highlight of the meal.

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The waiter was salt-of-the-earth Aussie, and the bill for the meal would have been $80 for the two of us, but was $60 with the coupon. I left a fiver for a tip, and we headed off into the Sydney night, notching up another experience under our belt: Greek food in Mosman.

Dancing Zorbas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Drinking in Sydney: Arcadia Liquors, Redfern

IMG_5231So, among the various things that I like about Arcadia Liquors in Redfern are:

  • The laid-back vibe.
  • Covered in fairy lights.
  • Cool but not too cool.
  • Terrible (and scary) artwork on the walls (but don’t take it too seriously).

I don’t think there’s a lot of competition for a relaxed but hip bar in the area.

The first time I went in late 2015, I wasn’t crazy about the chardonnay I had, nor the pinot gris to follow (both ten bucks). But I wasn’t sure whether it was the bar or me!

This time, I opted for the cheapest cocktail on the menu, a perfectly refreshing Aperol Spritz ($11), and then had some of my friends’ bottle of white, which was perfectly decent.

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The highlight though is that they have five dollar toasties (that would be, for the non-Australians reading this, a toasted cheese sandwich) as savoury bar snacks. In our group, we must have scarfed down around half a dozen of these.

So: great place to meet friends in Redfern. Decent drinks. Nice service. And on this Sunday early evening, we also loved the hipster couple sitting at the table near the door as we left, not talking to each other, just reading their hipster books.

Arcadia Liquors Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Yen’s, Waterloo

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Yen’s is a little hole in the wall, in Waterloo on Botany Road, brightly lit, and serving humble Vietnamese food. This time, we were sad that the old menus were gone with all the photos of the food. The table collectively decided to get phos, rather than share family-style plates. I remember from the time before, a very good selection of food.

IMG_5238One of our party makes this her regular, and for anyone in the area, if you’re wanting inexpensive and delicious Asian food, it’s hard to go wrong here.

IMG_5232My pho was spicy beef, and was very spicy. I got it with an extra order of crisp spring rolls. Shawn thought his raw wagyu beef (which was then cooked in the broth) was tasty but a small serving. I heard no complaints from the others in our table of 6. Ah, the crispy pancake is really fantastic. And everything is served up with plates of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lettuce, and lots of various tasty sauces.   IMG_5237

No complaints.

Yen's Vietnamese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Lotus in the Galeries, CBD

IMG_5206 In some countries, fine dining can’t be found in shopping malls, but these days in Sydney, there are some pretty swanky choices. Lotus, in the shopping centre, the Galeries, at George and Park Streets, is upmarket and chic with very modern furnishings. It all looks very shiny and new. The menu is modern Chinese, and it was hard to decide what to order. It all looked pretty interesting.
IMG_5207 The occasion was a casual lunch with fellow foodie, Lai Heng, and the food was really very delicious. The oysters, with a very light Asian-inspired vinegrette were perfect.

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These gorgeous little Xiao Long Bao, soup dumplings, had mud crab in them! Adding to the richness of the pork and the broth, they were earthy and luxurious, and look how pretty they were.

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I’m not sure about the deep fried eggplant. The execution was perfect and they were crispy, with a bit of sweetness. The chili and the coriander offsetting the oil and honey. There are many other ways of cooking eggplant that I like better (hmm, like steamed, or really fried up with some spice…)

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This was a standout. Shanghai pork spareribs. Almost like a crispy honey garlic ribs, and not exactly like sweet and sour ribs. Somewhere in between with a bit of vinegar and honey, very crisply fried, tender, delicate. Yup, this was a good one.

So, I was unprepared for such an elegant meal in more ways than one. I had an appointment to get to, and thought as an Asian meal, it would be relatively fast. Instead, the waiters were really trying to stretch out the experience, make sure that we got our dishes one at a time and with a break in between. Even at the end, when I finally had to indicate that I was in a rush, asking for the bill early, and trying to arrange to pay, it took them forever, to fix up the bill, to bring the takeaway container for the leftovers (too much for the two of us). Bless them, they really seemed to be trying hard, and yet it all felt a little slow and awkward (and they forgot the rice). It was a mismatch between what I needed (a casual meal, not too leisurely) and what was provided.

Still, I was pretty impressed with the elegance of the place and the interesting menu, and I wouldn’t be averse to giving it another shot. Ah, and almost forgetting this dish: native crystal ice plant with enoki mushrooms, cucumber and black vinegar.

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So, apparently, the crystal ice plant is a succulent that grows near the ocean (the waiter said it was from Western Australia), related to Barilla, Saltbush and Seablite. It had a really interesting flavour, almost as if it was holding in moisture, and I absolutely adored this melding of a native Aussie ingredient with Asian ingredients and coming up with something very contemporary. A dish like this does make me want to return. I’ll just make sure next time, I’m not in a rush.

Lotus Restaurant @ The Galeries Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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