Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sanctuary Hotel

$9 Cocktails.

That's all I needed to know to organise an outing to The Sanctuary Hotel. No, seriously. That's ALL I needed to know.

SKYY Vodka muddled with fresh lime & sugar

Crisp & tart, a luscious blend of Absolut Citron Vodka, Lemoncello, Grand Marnier & Sanctuary’s sours shaken & served in a large martini glass

A blend of fresh kiwi fruit, 42 Below Kiwi, Pear Liquor & Paraiso Liqueur served long over ice

Havana Club Rum, muddled with fresh limes & fresh mint, raw sugar & topped with a dash of soda
SKYY Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila & Triple Sec shaken with Sanctuary’s sours & served long
over ice & topped with cranberry juice

Chips with one of the best aiolis I've ever had

I would put a more descriptive post up.....but honestly.....after all the $9 cocktails I had, I can't remember jack. I do remember the cocktails being good, which is partially the reason why I can't remember anything. I also remember ordering a few serves of their chips cos they had a really awesome aioli. Everything else was a bit of a blur...... *cough*

Sanctuary Hotel
545 Kent Street (Cnr Liverpool Street)
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9264 1119

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Counter Burger

Its been years, and I mean YEARS since I worked at Crows Nest. Maybe because I went there 5 days a week for several years, I have no urge to go back regardless of the occassion. Don't get me wrong, I loved the company and the people I was working with, I also loved all the food and shops around there, but I'm just a bit Crows Nested out. So when the Counter opened, and I found out its in Crows Nest, I just couldn't be bothered going.

So one day, when we were organising for a catch up with a friend visiting from the States for a few days, The Counter was one of the options. If I didn't go for an occassion like this, I would never go. So a date and time was set for the big meet!

Going to Crows Nest brought back so many memories. I still know where to catch the train, which carriage to ride in so it stops right at the escalators, which street to take to by pass the traffic and take the least inclined hill. We arrive at The Counter where some old fashion shops used to be.

Perusing the menu gave me a head spin! OMG! So many choices! I mean, its not like I didn't know how the ordering system works. I had also studied the menu on the web beforehand. But now that I actually have to place an order, I couldn't decide! I ended up changing my mind about 6 times before I blindly jotted down my order.

Apple pie shake

I was tossing up between this and the chocolate peanut butter shake. I kinda wished I went with the peanut butter option as I found this shake to be a bit disappointing. I was hoping for a chunky shake with pieces of pie crust and actual bits of apple. Maybe the girl making the shake got distracted and left it blending too long, but there was no texture in the shake. It also didn't really taste like apple pie, more like a vanilla thick shake. My friends who ordered before me reckons they had a few small pieces of apple, but definitely not as chunky as we had hoped.

Fries - Normal type and sweet potato fries

We ordered a 2 plates of fries before our other friends arrived. Both were good, and I really liked the aioli, but I didn't find it any special. Maybe because I've had really really good sweet potato fries when I was in US, so I didn't find it anything special. My friends loved the sweet potato fries even though it was a bit too salty.

Now I'm not even going to try and explain what these burgers were. Especially since they're all custom made with whatever you want. Plus, most of us had actually forgotten what we ticked by the time the food came out! hahaha

Bunless burger

My burger!

Here's my towering monster! It was the biggest burger of the table. Boy am I glad that I ordered the smallest patty! I basically got a beef patty, with mixed lettuce, tomatos, boiled eggs, bacon, mushroom and grilled capsicum all topped with blue cheese and ranch dressing.

In hindsight, I should've stuck with normal cheese as I found the blue cheese used here to be way overpowering. Compared to the ones I've had in the US, which are quite smooth and mellow, The Counter's cheese is what I'll describe as "in your face pungent".

The ingredients were all very fresh and tasty, the patty had a good bite to it and the burger was huge! (I.e. I was too greedy with the ingredients). I don't think I've ever left a burger unfinished, that is until this occassion. I had a heap of bread and toppings left over on the plate whilst I waved my white flag of defeat.

So how did the burger rate? It was a good burger in a good setting. A great place to visit if you want a relaxed catch up with friends over burgers rather than at a fast food restaurant. However, with that said, I wouldn't say this is the best burger I've ever had. It might have something to do with the toppings I selected, or it was over-hyped for me. But basically, there was just something missing. For me, I would prefer to go to the local milk bar/corner shop and get a greasy burger with the lot and eat sitting on a park bench. Something to do with the generic ice berg lettuce, onion, tomato, pineapple and beetroot shoved between a cheap crappy bun and greasy but utterly delicious patty with bacon and eggs all topped with tomato sauce. It's not going to win any beauty contests, but I firmly believe its whats in the inside that counts. And this generic, greasy road stop burger is what I prefer. But obivously I can't have a girlie nights catch up squatting by the side of a road shoving the stuff into my face. And that's where The Counter fits in. I won't be rushing back for a burger, but I definitely will be up for it if a bunch of friends wants to catch up over burgers!

The Counter Burger
118 Willoughby Rd
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Ph: (02) 9436 2700

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Trumps Tavern - Wynyard

One thing about working around the Martin Place end of town, is the severe lack of Thai food. Sometimes, a girl just needs a good healthy dose of Tom Yum, Pad Thai and thai salads. I heard that Trumps Tavern actually serves decent Thai food, which surprised me. The only time I've ever heard of Trumps Tavern, is usually in the same sentence that contains the phrase "Hangover". Although one story involved a Russian Bouncer at 4:30am?! Long story.

Anyway, I dragged a friend with me to get a Thai fix. Being a Monday lunch time, and the fact that we were there before 12, meant the place was empty. This was a bit of a worry since I'm always weary of empty places in the city during lunch hours. But less than 15mins after sitting down, people started streaming in, and by the time we left, the whole place was packed with a huge line running across the room with people trying to place their orders.

The place is simple in decoractions. A small bar to the left and plenty of tables and chairs with a few couches and stools. To the left of the bar is a set of stair cases taking you downstairs to the pokies area. You can order food and eat down there as well, but it severly lacks any form of ambience. Basically a few tables and chairs tucked into the rows of pokies.

The menu is available at the bar and you line up to place your order at a seperate counter. They also have meal deals now where you can pay an extra few dollars and get a drink i.e. soft drink, wine or beer.

Now, onto the food!

Chicken Pad Kee Mao

The Pad Kee Mao isn't actually on the menu. But seriously, what Thai place doesn't have the ingredients to whip up a Pad Kee Mao? The girl behind the counter was more than happy to place my order and my friend had food envy as she didn't know she could order that! The serve is pretty decent and will satisfy even the big hungry boys around.

Thai Beef Salad

My friend had a Thai Beef salad and gave it a thumbs up.

Chicken Cashew Nut

I came back and tried the Chicken Cashew the next time around it was pretty darn good! Sweet and spicy, with a good selection of crunchy veggies, plump chicken a huge mound of rice. However, on this occassion I was hoping the serves will be smaller. Why? My manager was buying drinks for everyone! I couldn't drink as much as I was so full from all the food! hehe dang! You can never win!

Chicken Tom Yum Goong

This was exactly what I needed. The Chicken Tom Yum Goong was sour and spicy and so so refreshing. The bowl was huge, full of chunky chicken, vermicelli noodles and crunchy bean sprouts. This is probably a good dish to get if you don't intend to drink because the soup is sooooo good! Too much soup = no room for beers.

Trumps Tavern
50 King St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9299 2929

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Malaya

I've been in love with The Malaya ever since I went there for a work lunch. Since one of my workmates missed out on the lunch, we decided to go there so she could try it out. Hey, no objections from me!

We decided to go with menu 4, which only requires 2 or more people. Not too bad of a deal for $52!


First up was the Popiah. Very different to what you find in Singapore, but no less tasty. Sliced chicken and prawns with bean sprouts and vermicelli noodles, all covered with a sweet chilli soya sauce and nuts.

Otak Otak


The Malaya is the what changed my opinion on Otak Otak. Whenever I'm in Singapore and walking through the hawker stalls, I'm always drawn in by the smell of freshly grilled Otak Otak. But every time I order it, I am bitterly disappointed by the taste. But having tried the version they serve here, I am converted! I absolutely love this stuff! Aromatic and spicy fish mince, wrapped in banana leaf and grilled to perfection. MMmmMMmm Now if I could find a stall in Singapore that sells it at a fraction of the price......

Satay Chicken

The highlight of this dish, or any satay dish they serve, isn't the satay itself. Yes, the meat is juicy and tender, but its the sambal/satay sauce they serve you. Oh my god its good!! I literally eat the sauce with a spoon (as long as the rest of the people don't mind me hogging the whole thing). Since there were only 2 of us, we had plenty of sauce left over. I actually had to fight the waitress to stop her taking it away. THE SAUCE IS MINE! MINEEEEEE!!!

Kapitan King Prawns

Another favourite of mine. Lightly battered king prawns cooked in a mild and creamy Penang style curry. The only problem with this dish is that I always burn my mouth eating it! EVERY TIME!!! Must learn to wait for it to cool down before I shovel the stinking hot prawns into my mouth!

Malay Beef Curry with Roti

Essentially a Beef Rendang. I'm not a huge fan of Beef Rendang, but still really enjoyed this dish. The meat practically melts in your mouth, and can easily be broken up using the spoon. The roti is nice, but not as fluffy and light as I had hoped. Especially for the price they serve you! Again, careful of the roti....burnted fingers EVERY TIME.... *Sigh* I never learn do I?

Sze Chuan Eggplant

Now this is the dish I dream about. I can't believe I can ever feel this way about eggplants. EGGPLANTS for gods sake! I feel like a giddy school girl every time I see this dish placed infront of me. The eggplants are deep fried til they're crispy on the outside, but soft and creamy on the inside. Its then cooked with shallots, cashews and dried chillis in a sweet, spicy and sticky sauce all served on a bed of Kang Kong (Chinese water spinach). I would happily come to Malaya and have just this dish and nothing else. Heck, I can even become a part time vegetarian if I get to eat this at every meal!

$52 each for lunch is definitely not cheap. But considering we had 3 entrees and 3 main meals with views of the water, I'd say its good value. Its not something you would do every week, but I love to go on these little trips with my friends to treat ourselves. Something to make the working week just that little easier to deal with.

The Malaya
39 Lime Street
King Street Wharf
Sydney 2000
Ph: 02 9279 1170

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Passionflower - A bit of a vent

I had a friend's birthday on the weekend with dinner at Encasa. I'm not going to bother blogging about Encasa since I've been there so many times and have had the same banquet countless times already. Lets just say, the food was fantastic and we had a wonderful time there.

Since dinner was at Encasa, most of us had parked around Central station. The plan was to find a place to sit down for drinks or dessert whilst a few of our designated drivers sobered up. There wasn't many places around that area that wasn't a pub. The best option we had was Passionflower at Capitol Theatre. We actually haven't been to Passionflower for 2 years. The last time we went, they insisted on charging us a Sunday surcharge......on a Saturday night! The incident basically left us boycotting the place. However, we're going to a different branch and we really didn't have many other options to choose from. Plus, I also believe in giving businesses a second chance.

Sitting down, we umm and ahh over the menu before deciding on what we want. A few of the sundaes looked fantastic, except we didn't really like the flavour of ice cream combos they had. As we placed the order, I asked to switch one of the scoops of ice cream for a different flavour. The answer was a flat out NO. Apparently, the the combinations are there "for our enjoyment and cannot be changed". This is also printed in tiny writing on the last page of the menu.

But excuse me? the flavour combinations offered is NOT going to contribute to my enjoyment. For my enjoyment, I would like the combinations changed. I'm not asking for a mish mash sundae. I just wanted to change one scoop of ice cream to a different flavour. I was told I'm not allowed to change the combination of ice cream, but I can ADD a scoop of the flavour I wanted.....at an additional price. Hello?? Did you not say that you can't change the combinations because its for "our enjoyment"? But for a PRICE, I CAN change the combination by adding a new flavour. Nice.

The only other option is I DIY my own sundae and order 2-3 scoops and pay for the flavours I want. Except this works out much more expensive than ordering what is off their menu and I don't get all the condiments I wanted. I decided to stuff the ice cream all together and just get a drink. I was quite turned off by this stage and decided that I'm not even going to bother taking photos.

I had ordered a Passionfruit and Strawberry drink whilst my friend ordered a Passionfruit, Strawberry and MANGO drink. My drink comes out first, it actually looks quite pretty. Chunks of fresh strawberries floating at the top and some dark orange puree is in the bottom of my glass. Then my friend's drink comes out. Her Passionfruit, strawberry and mango drink was almost clear in colour. Slightly tinged with yellow and flecked with fresh passionfruit seeds and chunks of fresh strawberry. I immediately see a problem with this. My passionfruit drink has no fresh passionfruit pulp and is a deep orange, whilst my friend's passionfruit and mango drink has the pulp, but is almost clear. There must've been a mix up with the drinks so we call the waitress over to clarify. We asked her what drink my friend had, and she said Mango. So I questioned her why her mango drink has passionfruit, and my passionfruit drink doesn't. She looks confused as anything and runs back to the kitchen. From our seat, we can see a lot of huddled discussion and arm waving.

She eventually comes back and just says that they have given us the right drinks and quickly runs off. The way I see it, they made the wrong drinks and gave them to the wrong people and couldn't be bothered fixing it. My one was most probably mango and strawberry only (which explains the deep orange colour), whilst my friend had my passionfruit and strawberry one (Which is why it wasn't orange!). And to make it worse, the waitress actually came back and confirmed our drink order with us before making it!!

It was such a disappointing experience for us, especially after such a wonderful night at Encasa. Honestly, with rules and customer service like that, it'll do nothing but drive business away. I think it'll be quite a while before I go back to Passionflower. They had their second chance and they blew it. Atleast they didn't try to charge us a Sunday surcharge on a Saturday this time....

Am I being unreasonable?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Metro 1 - Ashfield

I remember first visiting Metro 1 about 10 years ago. Back then, I used to pronounce pide as "PIED". Kinda like Tied. That is until my Turkish evil twin corrected me and ever since then I've correctly called it "Pid-eh".

I distinctly remember bringing my friends here the very first time. One of my friends was having car trouble, and decided to pull over the side of the road to check it out. For some reason, he decided to check his radiator by removing the cap. Because he had been driving for 45mins already, the heat built up in the engine cause the cap to explode upwards, ricochet off the hood of the car and fall into the engine. It was 8pm by the time we arrived to help. The only street light was behind the hood of the car, meaning we couldn't see jack. We stood in the freezing cold for over an hour, waiting for NRMA to show up with a torch to help us locate the cap.

By the time we put the car back together, it was past 9pm. All our dinner plans went out the door. I mentioned that there was a pizza type shop near my place that should still be open. We arrive and most of my friends just let their jaws hang. They were expecting a cosy little italian restaurant. But what they saw was a cold, tiled Kebab shop with minimal seats and decorations. They were all too hungry to yell/argue with me, so we moved the tables around until it can fit our group.

With the help of the owner, we ordered a selection of Pides, all made to order. Ever since that night, I've been absolutely hooked to their pide. Maybe its the first real Pide I've ever tried, but I reckon its one of the best in Sydney.

Fast forward to today, I am still going to Metro 1 so I can get a pide fix. I've also discovered that they do a pretty mean pizza! Its not the thin Italian wood fired variety, but it doesn't mean its any less satisfying.

Chicken and Mushroom Pide

My usual order is a Chicken Pide with mushroom. Its not on the menu, but the owners are more than happy to accommodate my request. The thin, crispy yet chewy pide crust is stuffed with thick chunky chicken kebab meat. It is also scattered with diced onions, tomatos and mushrooms. A light squeeze of lemon is all it needs to put a huge grin on my face.

I've tried most of the pide on their menu. Most of the time I keep going back to my Chicken and Mushroom Pide. But every now and then, I'll venture for something a bit different.

Sucuk Pide

Sucuk or sujuck is a spicy cured turkish sausage. When I was in Turkey, they would serve sucuk sliced up for breakfast or even just between bread for a quick snack. I haven't really had to cooked in a pide before, and I must admit, I love it hot and crispy. Its not something I'll order all the time, not because its not good, but more because I love the chicken and mushroom version too much! haha

Metro 1 also does an awesome pizza. They use the same dough for their pizza and their pide, which amazes me every time because the texture comes out so differently!

Supreme pizza

Their pizzas are thicker and chewier than the Italian wood fired version, but when you're getting a supreme pizza, you need a thicker base to support all the toppings! And Metro 1 are quite generous with their toppings!

Garlic pizza/bread

I've also recently discovered their mini garlic pizza bread thing and its AWESOME. Crispy yet chewy base, topped with mass amounts of garlic, cheese and parsley. Definitely not something to eat on a date, but you wouldn't really go to Metro 1 for a date anyway! So its not really a problem! hehe I wouldn't eat more than 1/2 of a garlic pizza in one go, as it does get very rich after 2 slices. A must order for any garlic lover! Oh, they also do delivery! Booyah!

Metro 1
309 Liverpool Rd
Ashfield NSW 2131
Ph: 02 9797 1034

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jimmy's Recipe

Sometimes on a hot humid day, you just don't want something heavy and creamy. But what do you do when you still want a big bowl of noodle soup? For me, I head to Jimmy's for their Assam Laksa. There's not many other places offering this around the city, with Malay Chinese being one of them. But Jimmy's generally have much more seating during lunch time.

Assam Laksa

Assam Laksa is nothing like your standard laksa. There's no coconut cream and it has a fairly strong fish taste as it uses a fish broth. Its also very light, sour and spicy. Kinda like a tom yum goong but not. The Jimmy's version contained what appeared to be canned tomato sardine (Very different to what I remember they used to serve, which was proper fish fillets) with slice onions, cucumber and pineapple. This dish may be a bit fishy for some people because of the fish they use. I'm hoping its a seasonal thing and eventually they'll have the proper fish fillets back again. Nonetheless, it was exactly what I wanted on a hot muggy day.

Jimmy's Recipe
The Galeries Victoria RG16
Ground floor 500 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9267 2288

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