As I mentioned before, both my parents are chefs, and naturally they have the mentality that they can cook better food than anyone else. That or it'll always be better value and quality if they cooked at home themselves. When we were young, whenever we ate out, it was either yum cha on the weekends, or a big family dinner at some chinese restaurant with the full lobsters/abalone type meals. I remember when I was in primary school, we took our parents out to some thai/indian restaurant for something different. Even as a kid, I liked the food, except that the servings were small and "expensive" compared to chinese food. We didn't hear the end of that for atleast a week. Everytime we mentioned that meal, my parents had a look of disgust and kept saying they should've just stayed home and cooked noodles, it'll be cheaper and taste better. After that, we stuck with our chinese restaurants. When my sister moved to Malaysia and then Singapore, my parents were forced to try another type of asian cuisine whenever they went overseas.
Ever since I started working and could afford to take my parents out to dinner, I've been trying to subject them to different cuisines. The real turning point would've been 2 years ago when we took them to my favourite BBQ City for Korean. They LOVED the food. They RAVED about the food. I have NEVER seen my parents react that way to ANY restaurant before unless it was chinese food. And even then, they didn't RAVE about it. They would say that it was good food, but because it was food we were familiar with, there was never any surprise. Ever since that one meal at BBQ City, they have become alot more accepting of other types of food. I mean I used to take them to different restaurants, but the decision was solely based on value, even if it didn't taste the best. But now, the focus is to take them to unique restaurants with good food, even if its expensive, so they can try new things. Here's a few places I've taken them to:
- Sushi Suma - Japanese. I love Sushi Suma. Their servings are huge, the prices are cheap, and the food is great. My parents have always thought Japanese food was raw fish, small serves and expensive, this restaurant introduced them to a range of other dishes that are actually COOKED. My mum, a eel hater, loved their Teriyaki Eel rice.
- The Little Snail - French. Ok.....its not really "FRENCH", but the location was good and allowed us to take a bit of a walk through the city and darling harbour. They have a lunch special deal where you get 3 courses for $24 compared to $42 at night. My parents loved the duck pate and the mushroom crepes which was about as french as it got. They refused to try the snails, but atleast they can boast to their old fogies that they went to a French restaurant.
- Buon Gusto - Italian. This is one of my favourite Italian restaurants. The atmosphere is great, and its a quaint little restaurant tucked in the back streets behind Sydney Uni. Their pasta isn't great, but I like the simplicity of their food and the service. Plus its always good when a restaurant offers free alcohol at the end of a meal. My parents were surprised Italian food does not equal spaghetti.
- Belgian Beer Cafe - Belgian. Of course, I had to order their mussels and my parents loved it. They never knew such type of food existed, and all the other entrees and mains I ordered got a good review from them which says alot. This remains as one of their favourite restaurants.
- Lowenbrau Keller - German. I had to bring them here for the beer and pork knuckles. We've been back a few times, each time with overseas friends and relos. Its more of a novelty thing for them then the food itself. Like them, I find German food too meaty and too rich. Its not a restaurant that they would choose to go to, unless its with one of our beer loving friends.
- Thailand - Thai. This restaurant had a nice combination of novelty and good food. I deliberately booked us a table where we had to sit on the floor which probably ads to why they like this place. The food is always good and even impressed my parents! Plus it gives them another thing to boast to their friends about.
Given that I've taken them to a variety places already, what is left? My favourite Spanish restaurant Encasa of course. And with any Spanish restaurant, the more people, the more tapas the better. ESPECIALLY with Encasa as their Tapas is out of this world!!! The food is orgasmic and the prices are more than decent. So with that in mind, I invited my Dad's other old fogie friends and their daughter to join us for dinner. The table for 6 was booked and a Paella for 2 was pre-ordered. (ALWAYS book, even on a weekday!)
I actually have alot in common with their daughter. Both our parents are chefs. And both our parents always have the same complaint about food. Its all about quantity and value, and its always chinese food. But both of us have the same mission. To introduce our parents to different cuisines. So after scanning the menu, we had decided on ordering all of my favourite tried and tested dishes, plus a few other ones I haven't tried before. The tapas came out almost immediately and it was praises all round. A great result considering the old biscuits were already whinging about how danky the place was and why is it located in a hole before they even WALKED into the place. Usually if my parents don't enjoy the food, they won't go for seconds, but this time, they were asking people to pass them certain dishes, fighting for the last piece on the plate and so forth. So what did I order that got my parents and their old biscuit friends happy?? (Excuse the crappy photos taken with my phone!)
Tortilla de Espinacas $11 - Omelette with spinach and pine nuts (4 Eggs)
Unfortunately, this got sliced, diced and devoured before I even had a chance to pull the camera out! I'm not a huge fan of cooked spinach and prefer them raw, but THIS was nice. The omlette was quite light and the spinach gave it a nice delicate flavour with the pinenuts adding a bit of bite. Even my parents were impressed despite my dad's comments about him being one of the best omlette makers. *rolls eyes*
Mejillones a la Marinera $11.50
Black mussels in fresh tomato sauce with basil and chilli.
These mussels were GOOD. The sauce was even better! I actually think these mussels taste better than any of those mussel pots out there, even the Belgian beer cafe! They were plump and juicy, and covered with their spicy salsa sauce. The one thing I hate is alot of places either overcook the mussels or undercook them. These were cooked JUST perfectly. This definately impressed the oldies as they're used to the overcooked, smothered in black bean sauce type mussels that the Chinese always cooks.
Albondigas $10.50 - Beef meatballs in almond sauce.
OK, they really should've written this as Beef meattennisballs in almond sauce. They were HUGEEEEEEE! Holy bejeezus! They truely look like BEEF BALLS. I cut them in half and they were still bigger than the meatballs you get at yum cha. Unlike the chinese meatballs where they add quite a bit of flour to give the meat a smooth consistency, these balls were rough and actually tasted like beef. It was like a juicy steak.....in ball form. The almond sauce was nothing special, and if I wasn't told that there were almonds in it, I wouldn't have know. It was ok...but I won't be ordering this dish again.
Patatas Bravas $7.50
- Fried potato w/ garlic mayonnaise and spicy tomato salsa
MAuahAauahAU This is what I call high class chips! Its so deliciously simple! Fry some potatoes (Another one of my life's favourite food), drench it in some spicy salsa and then cover in a rich garlicky mayonnaise! Its ingenious!! The potatoes were fried until they were golden and crunchy, but biting into it reveals a soft pillow of fluffy potatoe......oh god this is good! My mum who hates fried food went back for seconds and thirds and fourths!!
Gambas con Alioli $16??
- Grilled prawns with fresh made garlic mayonnaise
The tapas size only came with 4 prawns, so they offered to add in 2 extra prawns so I didn't have to get the main. The prawns aren't actually grilled. They've actually been deep fried (batterless of course) and then covered with salt and pepper almost chinese style. These prawns were SOOOO meaty and fresh! The salt and pepper seasoning was gorgeous! The Alioli was a bit of a let down unfortunately. I couldn't taste any of the garlic in it, and they would've been better off giving us the Garlic Mayonnaise they used on the potatoes. Why they used another type is beyond me. The only real complaint I have is that the prawns were too hot!! Because they had been deep fried, they were HOT. As in after I carefully tried to avoid using my hands, I still had red swollen fingers after trying to peel them! Becareful!!!
Champiñones al Ajillo $8 - Sizzling Garlic Mushrooms
I LOVE this dish. And I mean I REALLY REALY LOVE this dish. I love ANYTHING with mushrooms in it. You can almost guarantee if the menu has a dish with mushrooms in it, I'll order it. And I LOVE garlic. The way we swoon over Habibs Garlic Mayonnaise would be a good indication of how much I love my garlic. Combining the two makes one of the ultimate orgasmic dishes EVER. HOWEVER......I was hesitant on ordering this dish as my parents (Specifically my mum) is a health nut. We don't eat oil at home. Our form of oil comes from fish, and when we dry pan fry salmon, the salmon gives off a fish oil which we save to use in our stir fries. So imagine my surprise when my mum asked for a spoon so she could spoon some of the garlic infused oil onto her plate to dip her bread into! *Shock**HoRRoR* This became a problem when my mum and dad started fighting over the mushrooms! I wish I had ordered the main size instead of the tapas size!
Paella Valenciana $48 - Saffron rice with chicken and seafood for 2 people
I am glad I only ordered a Paella for 2, because it fed the 6 of use easily! But then we did pig out on the tapas! And their sauces were oh-so-good we went a bit nuts with the bread as well. I previously explained to the oldies that we only ordered a Paella for 2, and when it came out, their eyes all popped out and went "THATS FOR 2?????". Ahuh! I really don't see how this Paella could be for 2...its HUGE! If you came and ordered this between you and another friend, don't even think about ordering anything else. And I'd lay off all liquids to make room for the Paella! The rice was moist and fluffy but still had a bit of the bite to it. This is miles better when compared to the watery mess at Captain Torres. Just a squeeze of lemon to lighten the dish makes it so much easier on our already bulging stomaches. The mussels were a tad dry and overcooked, but then thats what happens when you bake them instead of steaming them. The pipis and calamari were really nice and tender and the slices of marinated roasted capsicums added a nice bit of tang.
MMMmmmMmm All in all, it was a fabulous meal. Not a single complaint from ANY of the old biscuits which is really rare! All that food for less than $20 a person! We're already planning another trip here, this time with my cousin and family. Like I said, the more the merrier and the more tapas the more more merrier!
423 Pitt St, Sydney
Tel/Fax 9211 4257