Sydney Food Diary: Paper Bird, Potts Point


If, like me, you lament the closure of modern Korean restaurant Moon Park, Paper Bird is some consolation. Taking over where a branch of the Bourke Street Bakery used to be, it’s almost hidden away on a side street in Potts Point (in fact, Moon Park felt a bit hidden away in its odd location in Redfern, far from other restaurants).

They serve up a few of the old specialties from Moon Park (like the Ddeokbokki, gochujang, peanuts above) but most dishes are new, more casual than Moon Park, all designed to share, and with the same sensibility of combining modern Australian cuisine with East Asian inspiration (seems to be a broader geography than Moon Park’s Korean focus).  We ordered a fair number of dishes to try, like this breaded pork cutlet, apple & spring vegetable ohitashi, which I thought was delicious. The yukhoebap: Korean beef tartare, rice, pear & nori was a bit plain, I thought. I liked how salty the shrimp brined fried chicken was.

Reviews from our table of four were mixed. I would definitely go back, and thought the dishes were tasty and interesting. Another of our party thought it was OK but nothing stood out for him. All up, I’d say two of us were enthusiastic and the other two less so. We even tried desserts (quite nice I thought): a milk bingsu, hazelnut, yuzu curd, and a soy creme caramel. I guess it is true that at Moon Park, I tended to say “wow!” after every dish, and my praise was more muted here, but I’m a sucker for fusion food so still want to go back and try more dishes (and their breakfast menu).

The colours of the walls are a strange pale green that I swear is the same shade as our bathroom for the first period of my childhood.

 

Paper Bird Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Spice I Am, Surry Hills

Spice I Am, in my memory, was the pioneer that really lifted Thai food in Sydney from the sometimes mediocre neighbourhood restaurants to something that people were talking about, excited about and lining up for. Soon followed by other great restaurants like Chat Thai and Home, and now having opened up a more upscale branch in Darlinghurst, their original location is still busy, with humble decor and a cash only policy.

I opted for a simple roast pork dish and was not exactly sure what I would get. It was perfectly tasty though for $18, a little on the small side. I’m always happy to come back here. The flavours are incredible.

Spice I Am Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Four Frogs Creperie, Randwick

They actually mill the buckwheat flour for their galettes (savoury crepes) themselves. This impresses me. Tasting these delicious galettes, perfectly crisp, with a great balance of ingredients, brought me right back to being in Paris. They really are delicious. They serve them up with a simple side salad. The specials are closer to $20; if you go for a sweet crepe or the most basic flavours, they are closer to $10.

One of the many restaurants around the Spot in Randwick, not all of them are open for lunch. We were attracted by the bright, cosy style and of course, the crepes.

It’s a good story too, told on their menu: four Frenchmen, loving life in Sydney, but not finding good crepes, decided to bring crepes to Sydney! Now they’ve got three locations.

Seems like they also serve up French cider. Definitely recommended.

 

Four Frogs Creperie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Drinking in Sydney: Tio’s Cervecería, Surry Hills

I’ve always like Tio’s. And it’s been around for a rather long time, considering the ephemeral nature of Surry Hills’ market for bars and restaurants. It combines casual and cool. I love the daggy sort of inside-outside bar where the bar area could be… on a beachfront or outside, and so the dark Surry Hills interior could really be outside somewhere, a warm night in a Latin American country. There has always been an interesting range of fun bar staff, mostly hipsters in various hipster dress, happy to explain the current range of mezcal and tequila. There are cheap cocktails. And there is good, interesting mezcal and tequila that I’m not sure you can get elsewhere.

We went on a beautifully quiet night; the only downside I’ve found about Tio’s is that it is sometimes uncomfortably busy and full for this ageing resident of Surry Hills. But perhaps I should time my visits better. We had a perfect nightcap here, after fried chicken and champagne at Butter, and I was reminded how much I like it.

Tio's Cervecería Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Fratelli Fresh, Entertainment Quarter

Fratelli Fresh already has huge name recognition and a stellar reputation. Moving into the Entertainment Quarter, with few options for dinner, is a no brainer. So, no surprise this place was packed on a Saturday night, though we happily got a table for two without problem. It was date night! Lots of couples out for a meal, and an occasional family.

I’ve been to a few Fratelli Fresh’s in my time and have always been impressed with tasty, fresh Italian food. But here I think I was probably the least impressed. My negroni on tap was fine. The stuffed zucchini flower ($5 each) was perfection: molten savoury cheese oozing from deep-fried crisp vegetal matter.

My lasagna was OK, nothing special, as was my better half’s lamb ragu pasta. I think we should have gone for one of the mains instead. Because for drinks and a main course and a little bit more, $100 for the two of us feels a bit steep. Though prices in the Entertainment Quarter have always been steep. And prices in Sydney are steep too. Still. It was a good night out though: the visuals in the new Bladerunner film were amazing.

Fratelli Fresh Entertainment Quarter Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Coffee in Sydney: Le Fix, Surry Hills

It’s comforting to find that Le Fix, just back from Taylor Square, is providing the same comforting atmosphere as Cafe Belgenny did for as long as I remember (though I believe Belgenny changed hands a few times).

They’ve been open eight months, apparently, and the place seems to be a big brighter than before, with some more rainbow colours and sparkle (though that might just be because of the current Equality campaign).

We settled in for coffee, a cinnamon scroll, a fancy cold-pressed juice (which my pal thought was great) and tea. Friendly owner, nice vibe, and: check this out: maybe you’ll get a special coffee too if you’re there at the right time. 

Le Fix Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Madang, CBD

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Finding Sydney Madang where it’s tucked in an alleyway off Pitt Street does feel like you could be in a grey and featureless backstreet of an Asian city, say in Japan or Korea. This restaurant has great reviews and apparently has big queues in the evening! For lunch on a Wednesday, it was very quiet in fact. We opted to split a huge mixed platter for the BBQ with bulgogi (two portions as one was a substitute for the ox tongue that we passed on), three big juicy prawns, some octopus, a few mussels, some chicken and pork.

I admit that all Korean BBQs take pretty much the same to me. I suppose if it were bad, I’d be able to taste it but otherwise, marinated, tender, smoky pieces of meat and seafood seem hard to differentiate. The side dishes, usually a thrill at a Korean restaurant, were fairly lifeless though. $60 for the two of us. It felt neither here nor there. Perhaps time to head back to Danjee instead.

Those two paragraphs above were written in November 2015 (and as of the end of October 2017 were purportedly seen by 35,885). Just this week, I was craving Korean Fried Chicken after a concert, and we wandered back here.

I had that hint of recognition, remembering that it had good reviews but not remembering my lunch here from 2015. Decided to give it a go, and it was probably even more disappointing the second time.

The small plates of kimchi and such were definitely not as good as other places I’ve been to. They don’t serve Korean Fried Chicken, so we tried a deep-fried chicken in a sweet and sour sauce. Uninspiring. Worst was the Bibimbap in a hotpot; with the right combo of ingredients and sauce, this is always a favourite. This version tasted like plain rice with vegetables. The Jap Chae, potato starch noodles, were the best: great flavour and consistency and they serve a range of Korean beer, which is fun, but overall I felt bummed out that we hadn’t found better Korean food when there seems to be so much of it around, and so close.

Sydney Madang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Drinking in Sydney: Goros, Surry Hills

Sometimes I just feel like I’m on a reconnaisance mission. I’ll have just a drink or a coffee to see if the place tempts me back for a meal. Or I’ll have a meal to see if it tempts me back for more meals, possibly at different times of the day.

In this way, Goros succeeded. I’ve been curious about such a non-descript shopfront that nevertheless gets a line up of folks on the weekend. Entering on a Monday after work, it’s surprisingly busy, and it’s a bizarre mash-up. There’s a karaoke area off on one side. Pinball machines. A bar. Booths as if in a Japanese restaurant… or a food court. There’s a neon fish skeleton on one wall next to the neon Pokies sign. The toilets are marked Geishas and Ninjas.

We had draft Asahi beer, and I had a shochu and soda, flavoured with peach and yuzu, which was refreshing and delicious. Happy hour, we should have gone for the one dollar gyozas, but the place is so bizarre and cool, I’m definitely intrigued to come back for a casual Japanese meal.

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

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Coffee in Sydney: Ciao Down! Lindfield

I like a pun. I mean, why not? These days: we need laughs. Also: we need coffee.

So, we stopped here in Lindfield on our way to the Hunter Valley for L & A’s wedding. There was a nice neighbourhood buzz about it, with folks stopping in for breakfast and coffee, and I imagine there is a stream of interlopers like us, pulling off on the Pacific Highway for some java fuel.

Two large lattes. Strong enough but lots of milk. Just what we needed.

Ciao Down Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Phomo, Barangaroo

Man, I was full after the pho. Or should I say… I was pho-ll.

Heh, heh.

Phomo is a splash of colour along Wulugul Walk in Barangaroo. Since the specialty of the house was pho, that’s what we had. Husband had raw and cooked beef; and I had the beef combination (not noticing it had beef tripe in it, which I don’t mind, but explains why husband stuck to the other beef).

With lots of herbs and sprouts and sauce and a lemon slice, I thought the broth was delicious, the noodles appropriately slippery and I had a nice selection of beef things. I like interactive food, in any case. As a main, mine was $17.50.

We also split a plate of spring rolls, and my god: these were among the tastiest of the fried Vietnamese spring rolls that I’ve had lately. They tasted really freshly made, and luscious and crisp and meaty. Yum.

I’m pretty intrigued with this whole strip of restaurants. Thursday night and all of them (except the Indian place) were packed. I know it’s also packed at lunchtimes. After, we walked around the back, and the little strip of cafes and bars was pretty quiet; I can understand why you’d want to be next to the water and with the buzz.

Zomato reviews though seem really harsh in general. My guess is that they’re reacting to the prices, which seem a little higher than they should be (probably to cover the high cost of the rent). I’ve had good meals here though, and love the vibe. It’s great when developers can figure out how to make a restaurant district take off and I’d say this whole strip is a nice addition to Sydney’s dining scene. And if you drop by Phomo, have the spring rolls!

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

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