Down Under: The art of pie

This is another pastry place, also located on a street corner and serves good coffee. What can I say? Sydney is full of places like these and many of them, good.

This place is famous for its handmade pies and award-winning coffee. This was the second cafe in two weeks that I had been to which clearly spelt out that they served 100% Arabica beans coffee. The other cafe was in Tasmania.

I was spoilt for choice and so I played ‘tikam’ — randomly pick something in the hope that what I pick is good. The portions were large and I ordered them with ice-cream which turned out to be quite a lot. We were here for dessert so we ordered cakes and not so much, savoury pies. My one regret was that I was quite full from lunch before. If I had saved some stomach for dessert, I probably would have enjoyed the cakes a lot more. Their portions were almost meals in themselves! And with coffee names like ‘eureka’, one could not go wrong with their coffee either.

The Pie Tin, 1a Brown St, Newtown, NSW 2042. Tel: (02) 9519 7880.

Shop exterior. Love their logo.

How to eat their pies. I like the play on words ‘humble pie’.

Lemon brulee with ice-cream

Passionfruit and pineapple cheesecake

Mississipi mud pie

Advertisements

Down Under: Fish and Chips in the Gong

If you know anything about Wollongong, you would know that it is also known as the Gong. We were there for a day and what better food to eat than fish and chips.

We ordered four portions to share between five people and we had more than enough. As usual, I had to order my coffee but unfortunately, the coffee here was not that great. I should have ordered a cold drink instead.

To be honest, the fish here was fishy. I am convinced that the best fish is found in Tasmania as after eating there, seafood elsewhere in Australia just does not seem to measure up somehow. But to be fair to those who do not live down, down under, the fish here is comparable to other fish and chips places in NSW itself.

The view, on the other hand, was magnificent, and with views like that, food seems to be an afterthought, especially in summer.

This kiosk is located next to Diggies Cafe which is a more expensive dine-in restaurant.

North Beach Kiosk, 1 Cliff Rd North Wollongong, NSW 2500, Australia. Tel: (02) 4228 0949.

20121218-235912.jpg

20121218-235930.jpg

20121218-235941.jpg

Down Under: Just for the duck

For some strange reason, we wanted to eat roast duck and this place was the nearest to us. The place seems to be run by Hongkongers, judging by the Cantonese that was spoken here. This is probably right as I do not know of anyone who is better at making roast meats than the Hongkongers. The roast meats I am referring to are the Cantonese roast meats like roast duck, roast pork, char siew, etc.

The place was already filled downstairs and so we made our way upstairs. This turned out to be a blessing as it was quieter. But there is very little decor upstairs, not that there was much downstairs either. But we were here for the food and not the decor, so that did not really matter to us. The waiter we met downstairs did not seem very friendly but the one who served us upstairs was really good and even served us sliced oranges for dessert, on the house. The oranges too were sweet navel oranges. We had absolutely no complaints at all about the food. Our Chinese stomachs were truly satisfied.

Kensington Peking Restaurant, 172 Anzac Parade, Kensington, Randwick NSW 2033, Australia. Tel: (02) 9313 7100.

Tofu nuggets with sauce. A nice light dish.

This place is famous for its Peking Duck as the name of the restaurant implies. However, we did not want to eat Peking duck and instead asked for a roast duck. It was good! The skin was really crispy and the meat tender. It was served with plum sauce.

Sweet and sour pork that was authentically cooked.

Stir-fried choy sum

Down Under: Wow indeed!

After all the western food, we decided to try Korean food instead.

We ordered pork belly and beef bulgogi, seafood pancake and rice. There were enough condiments to go around in the beginning and they were good. The test of any Korean restaurant, I have always felt, is in their kimchi. And yes, that was good too. The pork belly was eaten with onion and garlic and wrapped with lettuce. I found the raw onion very strong but I guess it is meant to be eaten in that manner, along with the pork. The staff were attentive and eager to please.

The smoke from the hot plate set off the fire alarm at the restaurant and for a few minutes, they could not stop it from ringing until they changed the hot plate.

This place is certainly worth coming back to again.

Wow Bulgogi, 174 Anzac Pde, Kensington, NSW 2033. Tel: (02) 9697 9282.

Seafood pancake and condiments

Seafood pancake

Pork belly bulgogi, eaten with raw onion and garlic. it is wrapped in lettuce leaves and dipped in a sauce.

Down Under: A Pastry Affair

We came here for a quick bite. The coffee was great and the ginger brulee went really well with the coffee. I ordered a ham and cheese crossant which I regretted as there were so many other pastries that I could have and should have ordered instead to try. The croissant had a little too much butter in it and was too oily for me.

Of the things we ordered, the bacon quiche and the ginger brulee were the best. The flourless chocolate cake felt like we were eating chocolate itself as it was so rich. The coffee was good.

There was a steady stream of people at this little joint.

Bourke Street Bakery, 633 Bourke Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010. Tel: (02) 9699 1011.

Bacon quiche

Ginger brulee

Flourless chocolate cake

Beef pastry pie

Cappucino

Inside of the bacon quiche

Inside of the ginger brulee

Ham and cheese croissant

Down Under: Nothing extra

We stopped by here for lunch. It was also located near Circular Quay, hence the area was very busy. The menu read like a newspaper. We ordered a ravioli and fish and chips. One could also order a glass of wine to go with the set lunch. For a tourist area, the waitress did not seem to try very hard to please. The place is open 24 hours.

After tasting Tasmanian seafood, which was not fishy at all, I found the fish here fishy. I must say that this was true of battered and fried fish and chips even in other areas in and around New South Wales though. In the end, I concluded that this could not be helped. We had the fish and chips with Ayam chilli sauce on one side and tartare sauce on the other. Firstly, I was surprised they even had chilli sauce. Secondly, the bottle was almost empty when it was given to us. Didn’t anyone notice that it was almost empty? The ravioli was fine. The only item worth it here I think was the glass of wine.

City Extra, Shop E4, East Podium, Circular Quay, NSW 2000. Tel: 02 9241 1422.

Ravioli

Fish and chips. Notice the two different sauces. The fish and chips were crunchy though the fish tasted a little fishy.

Down Under: Gelato to ‘die’ for!

Merry Christmas, everybody! I contemplated whether or not I should post something like a Christmas special. In the end, I decided on this since everybody loves ice-cream.

This was a gelato takeaway place. I had just had an extremely full dinner and dessert was the last thing on my mind. While I did not protest when others wanted to have dessert, I was not really keen to try it. The queue was also a deterrent.

However, after being urged to try the gelato, I relented and boy, was I surprised at how good they were! We had bought pandan coconut and passionfruit gelato which was popular even among the Caucasians. In a way, this flavour combination shows just how cosmopolitan Sydney has become. Pandan leaf is usually found in South East Asian cooking. For example in nasi lemak which is rice cooked with coconut milk, pandan leaves are usually added for a nice fragrance. Some desserts that are made using coconut milk, would also have pandan leaves added in for an added touch and flavour. I was surprised that this combination went into gelato in the first place and was combined with passionfruit AND was well received by all who tasted it including folks who may not be as familiar with such tastes. One could indeed taste the authenticity in the ingredients — they used the real stuff! The chefs have definitely succeeded with this flavour. Next time, I’ll try more flavours!

Single or mono portions of gelato are also served, in different flavours, from their shop at 239 Victoria St, Darlinghurst. The servings come in different flavours and colours and are very artistically designed.

Gelato Messina, 389 Crown Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010

The queue outside the shop

Range of gelato

Down Under: Lovely

Like Pancake Parlour, Pancake on the Rocks is a must-visit Aussie restaurant. The restaurants are located at several locations all over Australia and their specialty is, you guessed it, pancakes! However, they do not just serve pancakes. They serve other food like salad, crepes and ribs. This is not a franchise and the quality of their food has been quite consistent across their restaurants.

Both restaurant chains are very similar, right down to the Lovely logo but they are run by different people, depending on the state that you are in. The restaurant is founded by two people who eventually opened two separate pancake restaurant chains though similarly themed.

Tonight’s visit was unfortunately on a Friday evening and near Christmas, hence there were long queues outside the restaurants. It would have been better to visit at a less busy time. Some of the Pancake Parlour restaurants open 24 hours. Pancake on the Rocks do not open 24 hours however.

Pancakes on the Rocks, 227 & 229-230 Harbourside Shopping Centre, Darling Harbour. Tel: 02 9280 3791

20121215-023633.jpg

Three Iced Coffees and one Baileys Coffee

Chicken and Mushroom savoury crepe

Beef Ribs which were really nice and tender.

Pancakes with bananas and ice-cream

Chocolate pancakes with walnuts

Down Under: A Big Deal!

This was a place I really wanted to go to and needed enough right people to go with so we could order and share more food! In the end, I had my group and off we went. Knowing that this place was quite popular with tourists, we settled for a late lunch to avoid the crowd. Never mind that we were tourists ourselves.

The seafood was really affordable and yummilicious! Okay, so I’m using a word that technically does not exist but is often used. We made sure we ordered Australian seafood only as the place also trades seafood from other countries. This place also consists of wholesalers and is the second largest in the world, next to Japan. Do wander around to find your cheapest per kilo prices before you decide on where you are going to eat. Some shops only allow you to eat food that is ordered from their shop and not elsewhere. Others may not mind as long as you order most of the things from their shop. If you are going to have oysters, remember to bring your own tabasco sauce.

Sydney Fish Market, Bank Street Pyrmont, NSW. The place is opened every day from 7am except on Christmas Day.

Sydney Fish Market entrance

Freshly Grilled Salmon for less than AUD$10. Truly hearty meal. You can pick the piece to grill.

Fresh oysters. Bring your own tabasco sauce. We forgot ours.

Freshly cooked prawns.

Australian Salmon and Tuna Sashimi. My only complaint here is that the pieces were not cut as nicely as the Japanese would. Also there were bits of muscle or tendon in the tuna that were hard to chew. To serve sashimi, staff has to be trained to cut the pieces in a certain way and clearly, these staff were not properly trained. But the food was still good.

Seafood wholesalers like this were found all over the market. There was an abundance of seafood!

Down Under: Time for a Cuppa!

You couldn’t miss the queue as customers grabbed a coffee on their way to work. Served by a Japanese barista whom I’m told is one of the best in the country, this place also roasts their own coffee. There is a side place for customers to order their coffee, pick it up and go, and a little cafe where one could dine in. I dined in, of course.

The strawberry and yoghurt muffin was good and I had my fruit toast. The service staff were friendly. It was a weekday mid-morning so we could still get seats. The coffee was good and I found out about coffee that is aeropressed, which seemed similar to a French press. This piqued my interest but no, I did not ask for my coffee to be aeropressed. I figured I’d google it a little later to find out more.

Single Origin Raosters, 64 Reservoir St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010. Tel: (02) 9211 0665.

Flat white

Strawberry and yoghurt muffin which was quite popular and several customers tend to pick one up and go

Fruit toast and butter that was served on a wooden block.

The cafe is located on a street corner. This was very common as almost all the small cafes I went to were located on street corners. They roast their own coffee. This place reminds me of the Japanese cafes in Japan, though more laid back. It is a busy place and not one where you would sit and chill for long.

The side area where customers could order, pick up their coffee and go