Sunday, 31 May 2015

Lyons RAW Cafe, Drummoyne

Lyons RAW Cafe is a laid back cafe in Drummoyne. After some exercise on the bay walk, I stopped by for a light lunch. It was exactly what I was looking for, a simple menu with some salad options.

I opted for a fresh lemonade ($6.50) which was very refreshing and a chicken salad ($17.90). The salad was well seasoned with a light zingy lemon dressing and had lots of varieties of lettuce, chicken and sun dried tomatoes. There are also some sandwich, burger and other menu options.

The salad was pretty filling in the end but felt like so I was happy.

Prices: $25-30 per person
Location: 155 Lyons Rd, Drummoyne. 
Open: 7AM to 4PM Daily. 

Summary: Lisa's Rating: 
Food: 7/10 for casual dining 
Customer Service: 6/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Value: 6/10

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Saturday, 30 May 2015

Salsa's Fresh Mex, Parramatta

Parramatta is full of fast food options with two major food courts. One of the more attractive options is Salsa's fresh mex. Salsa's is far from being traditional Mexican food but provides for a Western fusion alternative for Mexican.

Their chips are amazing and always so well seasoned and for $4.50, you can add chips and a drink to your tacos or burritos meals. The Tacos (3 for $11.50) that I tried were the chicken chipotle, original beef and lamb shoulder. They were tasty but did not really compare to the chicken fajita burrito. It's a whole lot of fresh ingredients of salsa with chicken for $8.95.

Prices: $15ish per person

Location: Level 5 food court, Parramatta Westfield

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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Sake, South Bank, Melbourne

Sake is my favourite restaurant and I am very fortunate to have experienced Sake in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.  Each venue has a slightly different flair in plating up some of their key dishes and the atmosphere varies but their food is consistently delicious.

The customer service is absolutely superior in Sydney and Brisbane. The customer service was a bit of a let down in Sake with having to ask twice for a particular glass of wine and one dish was wrongly ordered/served but both were easily rectified.

On this occasion in Melbourne, I started with some edamame. At the time there was an option of edamame with floss and a mild spice coating ($6). It was a nice change but I think I prefer the original edamame. This version was very tasty (below).

My must order dish which I have ordered at every Sake is the King Fish Jalapeno ($20). Fresh king fish sashimi with the perfect combination of light yuzu soy, jalapeno and coriander. This is a simple but amazing dish. The flavours are just perfectly balanced. I just love everything about it. The King Fish is always fresh and there are light soy flavours that contrast with a slight zest and chili from the jalapeno.

Another regularly ordered dish is the seared scallops ($32, top) with vegetables in a miso cream reduction. This dish was perfectly presented in Melbourne, with bright contrasts to the blue plates. The scallops are big, fat and juicy and taste delicious on a medly of corn and asian greens. Soak up the miso cream reduction with some rice and you'll be in heaven.

I also tried the terakyi chicken ($29) for the first time. It was a very clean version of the chicken terakyi with the chicken very elegantly presented on a bed of greens in a pool of sauce. The dish was tasty but not as impressive as the others.

Prices: $50 per head plus drinks

Location: On South Bank Wharf, South Bank

Lisa's Rating: 5/5... it's my favourite restaurant after all. I love the food, I love the presentation of the food, I love the atmosphere..... that's why I stick to Sake whether I'm in Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne.

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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

New Star Kebabs, Auburn

I normally get pizzas or kebabs at the New Star Kebabs in Auburn. This is my kind of fast food... delicious, fresh and fast.

On this occasion, I opted for the Gozleme instead. Gozleme is a popular Turkish savoury flat bread. From time to time, I really crave Gozleme stufffed with spinach and feta.  It's best served with some lemon to cut through some of the slightly oily textures of the bread.  If you dine in, New Star Kebabs will cut up the gozleme with a wedge of lemon and a small mound of tomato and cucumber.

Think thin layers of delicious fluffy pastry type bread with warm filling of spinach and melted feta. Delicious!!! It was about $7,50 for this serving. A fast food joint that promises to deliver tasty food. Check it out.

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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Gami, Chicken and Beer, Melbourne CBD

A local Melbournian recommended the Korean Fried restaurant Gami for some fried chicken and snacks. It seemed very popular with a gather of people waiting to get a table at the small restaurant of Gami. This would be a great venue for some food before a good night out.

Complimentary radishes and prawn chips (above) accompanied our Gami House Lagers ($4 for 300ml). The chips brought back many childhood memories.  For entrée, I ordered the corn cheese (below) which essentially corn with cheese on a sizzling plate for $9. I am a corn lover and naturally loved the simple combination of cheese and corn. It was a sweet corn combination with more savoury flavours of cheese.  It can become a bit rich so I suggest you share this dish.

The highlight of the night took it’s time to get to the table. It was really crowded and busy but I was getting a bit impatient after waiting an hour.  The hight light was the full order of chicken split between the original chicken and the glazed soy garlic chicken (below).   We were also tossing up ordering the spicy chicken but glad we didn’t when we saw the table next to us barely touching their spicy chicken.

The original chicken was not bad. It’s probably on par with KFC. The chicken pieces were more about the skin rather than large chunks of chicken. The taste was definitely in the garlic soy chicken. It was highly flavoursome and just very easy to eat.   It was a party in my mouth. I’d recommend the garlic soy chicken, a full serve ($34) should happily be eaten by 3 girls.

Overall, I’d recommend trying Gami, early if you can to avoid the crowds. Order some house lagers, enjoy the corn and order the Soy Garlic Chicken.

Prices: $30 per head

Location: 100 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne CBD

Opening Hours: 12pm to 3pm then reopens at 5:30pm to 11pm

Summary: Lisa's Rating: 
Food: 8/10 for casual dining (order the Soy Garlic)
Customer Service: 6/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value: 7/10

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Friday, 22 May 2015

Ume Japanese Restaurant, Surry Hills

Ume has a very highly liked rate on urbanspoon at 85%. For a slice of fine dining; you will have an option of a 5 course degustation or a 7 course degustation at Ume. 

You may also opt for matching sakes or matching sakes and wine. On this occasion, I opted for the 5 course menu at $67. I was very tempted to pay the additional $45 for the matching sake and wines. 

The decore casually chic with a beautiful mural of flowers on the wall and elegant pieces of tableware. 

The first dish is the Katsuo Sashimi (above). This comprised of bonito sashimi with yuzu shoyu, baby shiso, black sesame and wasabi. The bonito sashimi is fresh and a great start to the meal. It's also very well presented. I am a very big of sashimi

Another very sexy to the eye dish was the Shiki no Salad. This dish was a medley of roast heirloom carrots, fried brussel sprouts, buckwheat, black vinegar and tamari custard. The dish looks beautiful and is simply cooked to bring out the natural flavours of the vegetables.

I really enjoyed the next dish above, the Miso Yaki Gindara. It was approximately 7cms of delightful miso flavoured fish. I just wish there was more of it. The Miso Yaki Gindara cured black cod was glazed with a mild sweet miso. It was cooked on charcoal with daikon oroshi, chive and ginger oil.

Next up was the Riverina Lamb. The lamb was charred and there were small bits of spinach, wasabi, garlic and seaweed. I'm not really a fan of the charred flavour but the lamb was very tender.

For dessert, there was the delightful Peaches and Cream. Think of honey poached peaches, smoked tea ice cream, sata-andagi, freeze dried raspberry with lavendar honey.  A nice dish to end the night.

Overall, it was a nice experience. The degustation is a very light meal and I suspect a very healthy one. There were lots of layers of flavour and texture and the staff are very attentive. If you are very hungry, I'd suggest a different venue.

Prices: $67 for a 5 course degustation

Location: 478 Bourke St, Surry Hills

Opening Hours: 
Tuesday6:00-10:30 pm
Wednesday6:00-10:30 pm
Thursday6:00-10:30 pm
Friday12:00-2:30 pm6:00-10:30 pm
Saturday12:00-2:30 pm6:00-10:30 pm

Summary: Lisa's Rating: 
Food: 7/10 for Posh Dining 
Customer Service: 9/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value: 7/10

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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Mamasita, Melbourne

Mouth watering flavours and deliciousness are waiting for you at Mamasita. Up the stair way, get there early for a seat. For you corn lovers, start with some corn chips, salsa and guac ($9, above). I really like the corn chips so I order this every time I come here. The salsa is a thick paste as is avocado.

The corn cob ($4.9 for one, below) is very popular; titled "Elote Callejero" is char grilled corn with cheese, chipotle mayo and lime. It was a party in my mouth. full of flavours. I'd definitely recommend ordering the corn.

For another entree; I ordered the butterflied tiger prawns that were char grilled with a light salsa and topped with coriander. It was quite tasty but you are paying for two prawns at $13.

I also ordered a few tacos including the pig's cheek taco  ($6) and the prawn taco ($7). Each are very flavoursome in their own ways but the pig's cheek was my favourite. The taco tortillas are very savoury and floury. 

Prices: $40 per person plus drinks

Location: Up the stairs, 11 Collins St, Melbourne CBD

Summary: Lisa's Rating: 
Food: 8/10 for casual dining 
Customer Service: 7/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value: 7/10

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Din Tai Fung, Pyrmont

Din Tai Fung is spreading its delicious dumpling message with 7 restaurants and express restaurants across Sydney. I am a regular at the North Sydney Din Tai Fung so I wondered if the quality of dumplings was consistent and equally delicious at the Star Casino in Pyrmont. The chain has done well to maintain the reputation of Din Tai Fung, it's consistently delivering mouth watering dumplings.

There is something addictive about the spicy prawn and pork wontons (below, $6.80). The sauce is sweet and spicy which perfectly compliments the thin skinned wontons of pork and prawn. It's served in a big round porcelain bowl which is a step above the normal cardboard bowl I get in North Sydney. Din Tai Fung in Pyrmont is situated in a food court.

The Xiao Long Bao ($5.80) or steamed pork dumplings are also tasty and consistent with my experiences at Din Tai Fung. These dumplings explode with soup in your mouth and the sauce of chili, vinegar and soy sauce adds a nice level of depth in flavour.

Overall, a great place for a snack or light casual lunch if you are in the Pyrmont area. It's a little pricey but I think it's worth it.

Prices: $15-$25 per person

Location: Shop 6, level 6, 80 Pyrmont St, within the star casino.

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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Mejico, Miranda

Mejico in the Sydney City is a 77% like rate. Mejico in Miranda is 47%. Odd because I think they are comparable. Expect modest portions with clean, modern flavours. There is atmosphere and presence at Miranda with a DJ blaring loud music on a Saturday afternoon.

To start off with (above), I had the chicken Tacos (2 per serving) which included , tender grilled chicken thigh with chorizo and a cucumber and cumin salsa at $12. They resemble tandoori flavours which are typically not found in your traditional Mexican restaurants. The bread is super thin but overall it's very tasty.

I also tried the twice cooked pork belly with honey and guajillo, spiced reduction pickled cabbage. The dish is topped with crispy crackling at $18. It was a nice pork belly but nothing amazing! Pork Belly really seems to have popped out in popularity on many menus. I would give this one a miss and try something else.

For something refreshing, I also tried the summer Salsa, ($12) with fresh diced kiwifruit, plantain and parsley, tossed lightly through a lime and agave syrup with chopped jalaperlos. The dish is topped with a stack of crispy plantains. This is a nice fruity twist to your traditional salsa and the flavours will dance on your tastebuds. Worth a try!

On the day, there was also a dessert special of a Tiramasu mousse (below) which was quite nice :)

Overall, I thought the place had great atmosphere. The food was a little pricey for what it was but worth a visit occasionally. If you want more traditional mexican than stick to Dos Senoritas or for something more casual then check out El Loco

Prices: $30-40 per head

Location: 2202/600 Kingsway, Miranda NSW 222

Opening Hours: 12pm to late every day

For my City experience check out my post here

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Monday, 11 May 2015

Derauma, Sydney CBD

Derauma is located right next to Oiden. Derauma comes from the owners of Menya Mappen and Oiden but with a difference.  You still get tasty food that is for value (Cheap and Cheerful) but there are some key items that you cannot get at Menya Mappen or Oiden. The signature dish is the Tamago Toji Bowl; more specifically their best seller is the “Toji Chicken Katsu”. (below)

The Toji Chicken Katsu ($7.50 for regular, $8.90 for large) is cooked fresh to order and the chicken is so succulent. The rice and katsu crumbed chicken is cooked in egg and onion. The rice is moist and warm so the dish taste so homely. This is the must order dish!  This is my favourite dish, Yummmmmmmy and perfect for a cold winter's day!

If you are a Washoku lover member, you can get a real for value deal. Toji Chicken Katsu, mini salad, miso soup and a soft drink for $9.90. This is really competitive value so make sure you have your Washoku card with you.

For another point of difference, you can also order from their grilled beef bowl range. Freshly grilled beef is absolutely delicious.  The most popular and ordered is the Ontama Grilled Beef (below). ($9.90 for regular, $10.90 for large). I tried the Ontama Grilled Beef which has a half boiled egg on top of a bed of coleslaw, sesame seed and pickled radish on rice. The beef has a nice marinated taste.

They also have a salad range for the non-carb crowd where you can choose your salad, the best seller is the Teriyaki Salmon Salad. You choose your fillings and dressing.. and you can even choose your amount of dressing.

The salmon is grilled (below) and the recommended fillings are tomato, cucumber and egg with Japanese dressing at $9.90.

You probably have been to Menya Mappen and Oiden a million times so skip the queues and check out Derauma. Derauma provides all the fresh cooking with some new types of dishes to try. You must try the  Toji Chicken Katsu!

Prices: Most dishes are $10ish. 

Location: Inside the arcade of 551 George St, beside Oiden. 

Note: I dined as a guest compliments of Dera-uma. All words, photos and opinions are my own

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