Sydney Food Diary: Jambo Jambo, Glebe

Ethiopian food is not easily found in Sydney. In other cities I’ve lived in or passed through, there is usually an Ethiopian restaurant or two.

I last ate at one in Paris and was reminded of the magical combination of the injera, a flatbread pancake made of fermented teff flour and the various curries and vegetable dishes.

Jambo Jambo has been open in Glebe for more than a year! It’s taken me that long to get to it. Friends from Adelaide wanted to eat something that they couldn’t find at home and this was the perfect occasion.

Actually, it felt more like a party than a dinner. It has a really festive atmosphere and the restaurant was packed.

Joseph, the formidable owner, stopped by a few times to make sure everything was OK and make sure we knew that kid’s eat and drink for free (which we were happy about).

We had some South African wine, a chenin blanc, to wash down the the combination platter. It’s $95 for two people, and then $30 for additional people, which confused me at first (too much wine already?)…

But it worked out to less than $40 per adult and the wine was inexpensive, so this was very reasonably priced.

We also received a complimentary starter plate which was lovely, a sort of raw beef I think in lettuce leaves, and some samosas (tasty) and fried bread (a bit dense for me).

I find it hard to describe what we ate, except that it was delicious.

The curries and sauces and vegetables and dahl and goat were rich and thick, and then the injera was a perfect vessel, slightly sour and plain to match the richness.

If you’ve never tried Ethiopian food, I’d highly recommend it. And I’d highly recommend Jambo Jambo.

Jambo Jambo Africa Ethiopian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Coffee in Sydney: Cafe Felix, Newtown

I really loved the vibe of this place, open and airy and a very high ceiling.

It seemed like the crowd were regulars, and that there was a nice vibe between staff and customers.

And if you’ve read my reviews, you know that I love coffee art.

Three cheers, Cafe Felix.

Cafe Felix Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: The Butler, Potts Point

What I remember about Mezzaluna, The Butler’s predecessor, was that it was formal and fancy. It was there for 20 years! The vibe I got from The Butler was very different: light, airy and casual, and a beautiful outlook over Wooloomooloo and the City.

We were there for a Friday lunch, and I thought it was pretty much perfect. Each dish was delicious. There are influences from Latin America and Asia.

The plating was beautiful. Our wine was delicious, and the service was friendly and competent. We did sharing plates and a handful were enough.

The ‘Mezcal cured ora king salmon, pickled daikon, cream cheese whip, pomegranate, wakame salt’ at $24, photo at the top of the post, was my favourite I think.

But I found the sesame crackers in the ‘Ruby tuna, peanut salsa macha, edamame, black sesame, quinoa crisp’, also $24, addictive, and a great match for the slightly sweet tuna.

We couldn’t NOT order the ‘Pork Belly pastor tostada, pineapple crema, pea tendrils, cured onion, achiote, coriander purée’,  a steal at $10 (though harder to divide into two).

It was a lovely, and dare I say, memorable lunch. In fact, while I’m sure dinner is good here too, it’s hard to pass up the charm of sitting outside on that balcony with that view…

The Butler Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Lorraine’s Patisserie, CBD

This patisserie, tucked away in the CBD, looks fantastic, and the reviews (many of them) are so good, I’ll have to come back to try some of their cake.

It is charming to watch the industry of the open kitchen, and the cakes they had on display were so very pretty.

I just grabbed a croissant, and had high hopes for it, but … it … was … just a croissant. Not terrible, but not a standout. Obviously, I should come back to try other treats.

Lorraine's Patisserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Destination Roll, Surry Hills

There aren’t a lot of places in Surry Hills where you can get a lunch for $10 or under. So, Destination Roll was a nice surprise. There are about a dozen of these, all over Sydney, and I wonder if anyone else is as confused as I was by the branding. It really doesn’t look like a cheap, travel agent. The logo, colour and design are really not very nice and feel dated.

Luckily though, the banh mi I had was excellent. With a bit of everything, roast pork and crackling, and all the usual fillings. The bun was toasty and crisp. The photo makes it look like there were too many of the grated, pickled carrots, but all the fillings were generous, and in a nice combination. I’d go back!

Destination Roll Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Coffee in Sydney: Saint George, Chippendale

I like anything that makes a city more beautiful. And for some reason, this tiny strip of Chippendale between Railway Square and the Central Park shopping complex is particularly ugly. Inexpensive restaurants and a few pubs in the next block (and the incongruous Posh Hotel, which looks anything but) and cheap Asian food and a McDonalds on the other side of the street.

So, Saint George really stands out, with its glazed red brick-shaped tiles, hipster vibe and smart, modern interiors of wood and concrete and exposed utilities. It’s an oasis of cool and charm. I only had a coffee, after a mediocre lunch at Central Park, and while (oh no!) I was disappointed at the lack of coffee art, it tasted just fine, and I sat at the window and watched the world go by. I’ll have to try their food sometime.

Saint George Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Fortune Village Chinese Restaurant, CBD

It’s second nature for Asian people to take over ordering the food in Asian restaurants. It’s both experience and control issues. In any case, I was rather pleased that my pals turned over the ordering to me at Fortune Village. I went with grandmother’s tofu, a combination omelette, and the clear favourite of the evening, deep-fried eggplant slices in a black bean sauce. We also ordered a salt and pepper pork chop dish and a spicy lamb, neither of which were standouts.

Overall, the food is tasty and appealing, the service efficient, and it’s a great choice for Cantonese food. I wasn’t in the photo-taking mood though! It was Glenn’s birthday and Simon, the owner, came out and had us pose with a photo of a sword (I won’t embarrass us by reposting the photo), presented Glenn with a photo magnet and then complimentary ice cream all around (with a larger portion for the birthday boy). It was a lovely and generous gesture.

Fortune Village Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: L’Americano, Alexandria

We were not going to fight with the crowds at The Grounds of Alexandria after dropping off our e-Waste on e-Waste disposal day (this was surprisingly satisfying to do). And while restaurants attached to stores can be hit and miss, this stylish cafe is attached to a stylish furniture store, Coco Republic, and I liked the vibe immediately.

If I’d read the description on the website – ‘The first hospitality offering for the Australian-owned premium lifestyle brand’ – I might have given it a miss though. I think ‘restaurant attached to a store’ is a more honest description.

So, I was glad we went and that I got good vibes right away. My impression was confirmed by some outstanding latte art (and good coffee).

All three of us ordered the same thing: Avocado mash, cherry tomatoes, farro, hazelnut dukkah, prosciutto, shallots, organic eggs and artisanal toast. I mean: that’s a pretty good description. Why would you pass it up? I ordered mine with sausages on the side, Geoff had bacon on the side, and I think Davy had mushrooms, maybe?

Oink, oink. It was a great breakfast. The farro was really interesting. This was a great combo of flavours and texture: a cut above the standard Sydney breakfast. And it’s a charming decor (Italian Riviera inspired, apparently).

L'Americano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Dove & Olive, Surry Hills

Our gang from school usually meets at the Shakespeare but to try something different, we went to Dove and Olive. I like the name, which reminds me of all those pubs in London with the same theme – Slug and Lettuce, Hare and Cabbage, Pig and Leek. OK. I’m making up some of these but the combinations seemed endless.

I’ve been downstairs here before, but I hadn’t seen the upstairs which is open and expansive with lots of seats. I think we’ll have to return here, if we’re not playing trivia!

Food are drinks were fine. One of our party, a local, says it’s always been one of his favourite pubs. I was pretty impressed with my Sunday roast. I was aiming for the short ribs but someone grabbed the last one. So I got the pork belly. The crackling was not super crisp, so was a bit hard to cut into and chew, but the meat was perfectly tender, and the combo of everything on the plate was really good.

I liked the carrots, and potatoes, and sort of biscuit, and most of all a crumbed pepper. Yum. My pal seemed happy with his too (beef of some sort).

Drinks were reasonable and tasty. I’d say this is a solidly good Sydney pub!

Dove & Olive Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Rey’s Place, Darlinghurst

Rey’s Place combines all my favourite things about dining in Sydney: new and unusual flavours or dishes; food that comes from somewhere, authentically; and fine dining – I like a casual meal too, but I like to when I can see and taste the thought, care and quality that’s been put into a meal.

Here, Filipino cuisine, which I’ve only had at very casual restaurants, in Hawaii and in Vancouver (and actually, one trip in Manila), has been plated up for the Sydney crowd, so served in manageable portions and the sometimes heaviness of the meat or sauces or fats is tempered with a different way of serving up, and again, smaller portions.

It’s a charming space too, a handful of tables upstairs and a modest downstairs space, in what looks to be a modified terrace house, taken over from the Indian street food place, Trunk Road, which I always meant to try and never did. From the owners of Bang Street, the amazing fine dining fusion with Bangladeshi street food, which seems to have closed, I wonder what they’ll do next. As I said, I love modern and upscale versions of ethnic food.

We started with a plateful of Chicaron Na Manok, delicious fried chicken skin, like pork crackling but much lighter with spiced soy and vinegar ($7). I couldn’t go by the sausage starter as well, Longganisa, a sweet garlic and pepper pork sausage, which reminded me a bit of Thai sausages, a stickiness and a different flavour ($10). Served with light crackers of deep fried rice, doused in pinakurat, a spiced vinegar, these were very good.

Rather than the Filipino specialty of crispy pata, deep-fried pork hocks, which my family is obsessed with, they do ‘Rey’s Lechon’ here, slow-roasted suckling pig with a housemade sarsa (sauce) and chilli-mansi dipping ($28). Photo at the top! I love roast pork. It’s a weakness.

And we couldn’t go by the Chicken Adobo, soy and vinegar chicken with crispy potatos and sweet onion ($23). Love this dish though flattered that husband said my version, cooked from a NYT recipe, is just as good (if not better).

Finally, a light salad, Itlog Maalat ($11), of salted duck egg, tomato, basil and mustard dressing was refreshing and delicious and a good contrast in texture and flavours to the other dishes. And really, I loved all the flavours because they are slightly different to me: mild heat, different kinds of vinegar, well-salted.

As you can see, the prices are very reasonable, and we were too full to have dessert (I would have liked to try their banana spring roll with ube (purple yam) parfait. We also had a great chat with the waiter who told us about the Filipino food scene in Sydney: there really aren’t many restaurants around but there are a few. But while I’m dying to try Sydney Cebu Lechon in Enmore, specialising in pork, I’d come back to Rey’s any day.

Rey's Place Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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