Sunday, 29 January 2012

Din Tai Fung - Sydney, Australia

Din Tai Fung



Ahhh those delicious soupy, pork dumplings. How could one resist. Derscribed as one of the 'world's greatest dumplings' it is made according to stringent specifications and quality control which is a contributing factor to its success. The dumpling pastry is delicately handmade by one of the many chefs that you see in the window at measurements between 4.8 and 5.2 grams, with an exact 6cm diameter and weighing in between 20.6 and 21.4 grams. I've never actually counted the number of pleats myself but apparently it is precisely done with 18 folds.

I visited the original Din Tai Fung in Tapei, Taiwan and can say that most items exactly look the same and taste the same but there are additional items on the menu in Taipei.

Today, we're at the World Square branch for brunch arriving at around 12pm. There isn't a crowd like we usually see possibly due to the school holidays. The establishment is extremely clean, simple and staff are very customer oriented.We are escorted to a table straightaway and given a menu, paper menu and pen to mark our orders. The waiter bring out a bag holder and covers it with a red cloth. Such great service!

Unlike the branch in Taipei that serves complimentary tea, here it is charged at $2.00 per person for unlimited Chinese tea. But it's a must have accompaniment with the dumplings as that hot tea matches very well and soothes out the throat.

The main reason we're here is to eat the 'Xiao Long Bao's'. Steamed pork dumplings filled with juicy pork filling served in bamboo baskets. I must admit, I haven't tasted a better xiao long bao anywhere else. Silky, delicate and paper thin pastry with juicy and tender pork within that holds super hot and yummy soup. We opt for two baskets of 8 each ($10.80/each) to share.

The 'Shrimp and Pork Packed in a Parcel ($9.80)' comes with 4 pieces. It tastes very similar to the xiao long bao but it lacks that juicy hit and I find that it is dry in comparison. Yet, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I try a new dish this time around called the 'Hot and Sour Soup Small ($5.50)' as it seems popular amongst the other diners. It has an unusual taste and I think this may be due to Chinese wine. Don't think I will order this again. 

Another favourite of mine is the 'Shrimp and Pork Wonton Noodle in Spicy Sauce ($12.80)'. The noodles are cooked perfectly al dente and the wonton's are bursting with flavour. I find that the sauce isn't spicy at all possibly due to my high tolerance to spice but it is still extremely addictive. MUST order!

We order a vegetable dish to balance our meals out and decide on the 'Water Spinach Wok Fried with Garlic ($10.80)'. It's very bland but a vegetable dish is just that. I don't usually order vegetable dishes at Asian restaurants as they are just so overpriced.

No desserts this time around as we're so full that we struggle to get up.

If you haven't been to Din Tai Fung, I definitely recommend this place. The food is nice and refreshing, service is great and even though it slightly more price than some places it definitely worth it.  

World Square Shopping Centre
Level 1, Shop 11.04, 644 George St,
Sydney NSW 2000

Phone no: 02 9264  6010

Opening Hours
Monday - Friday: 11:30am - 2:30pm
Saturday - Sunday: 11:00am - 3:00pm
Monday - Wednesday: 5:30pm - 9:00pm
Thursday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 9:30pm
Sunday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm


Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Iron Chef Chinese Seafood Restaurant - Cabramatta - Sydney, Australia

Iron Chef Chinese Seafood Restaurant

Yum cha has always been a favourite of mine. I love chatting away, eating dumplings and sipping on hot tea. Having tried many yum cha places here and overseas, I can say most offer the same fare and taste very similar. However, there are places that are a step beyond the rest. My favourite place for yum cha has always been Zilver.

Located in the 'quieter' side of Cabramatta, Iron Chef has become a popular destination for locals and the non-locals. I've heard that people travel from all over the city to dine at the yum cha here. On public holidays and weekends, expect to wait at least half an hour for a table after grabbing a ticket. Even though the dining area is huge, the tables fill up very quickly as it serves one of the best yum cha in the south-western area.

The ingredients are fresh, prices are decent and the food is great most of the time. Dumplings are steaming hot and the complimentary chilli sauce matches well. Most of the steamed dumplings are served in bamboo baskets and the ladies push the trollies around so you can choose which ever. I recommend that you don't go too early in the morning as the food turnover is not very high meaning it sits in the trolley for a while and doesn't taste as good.

The must have dishes include prawn dumpling, chicken feet, congee, prawn roll, egg tarts, mango pancake and tofu pudding.
Fried Dumpling

Siu Mai

Prawn Roll

Combination Dumpling

Egg Tarts

Mango Pancakes

84 Broomfield St
Cabramatta NSW 2166

Phone no: 9723 6228

Opening Hours
7 Days a Week
Monday - Friday: 10:00am-3:00pm; 5:30pm-10:30pm
Saturday-Sunday: 9:00am-3:30pm; 5:30pm-11:00pm


Iron Chef Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, 23 January 2012

Almond Roca - Costco - Sydney, Australia

Almond Roca

So what is 'Almond Roca', you may ask? For those who have been to Costco, an American wholesale supermarket, you may have seen these within the confectionery section. It's not a lolly and it not chocolate either. It's made up of rich butterscotch toffee, chocolate and a crushed almond coating that is crunchy with a soft bite to it which melts in your mouth.

Ever since Costco in Auburn has been opened, I've been frequently visiting the store to make use of my $60 yearly subscription. On my first visit, I noticed a striking pink tin with the words 'Almond Roca' and 'Made in USA' and I knew I had to try it. At the cost of $10.99 a tin with approximately 100 in each tin, the price was a steal. It retails in David Jones for over $30.00.

For those who have a sweet tooth, it may be extremely addictive. From the on set of opening the sealed tin which keeps the 'Almond Roca' fresh to the unwrapping of the individually foil wrapped candy lies the delicious roca that explodes with crunch, chewiness, butter and chocolate.

If you haven't tried it, get yourself down to Costco. It's a must try!

Close Up of Tin





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Passionflower - Haymarket - Sydney, Australia


Dessert is always a must have after a meal even though everyone may be full to their brinks. This was no exception after the meal at Encasa. We were all very full from the dinner and decided we would walk around the Chinese New Year markets in Belmore Park before deciding on a place to have dessert. The only place we could think of that was within walking distance was Passionflower, located within Capitol Theatre in Haymarket.

Passionflower have been known for their exotic Asian icecreams and desserts. They have a lot of unusal flavours you don't see at the normal gelato stores that will test your taste buds. These include such flavours like durian, jackfruit, black sesame, pandan and sticky rice.

The menu seemed endless and I couldn't decide on what I wanted whereas my cousins already knew what they wanted before they even went in. It took me a while before I made my order. The pictures just looked so delectable and I wanted to try every single one literally.

I had 'Three Crepes with Maple Syrup and Two Flavours of Ice-cream ($13.00+$1.00 for premium flavours)'. The crepes were paper thin and matched well with my two ice-cream choices of pandan and black sesame. The maple syrup was a great addition but it wasn't necessary. A very satisfying dish which I struggled to finish on my own.

My cousins had 'Strawberry Waffles with Chocolate Sauce ($13.80)'. The serving of strawberries was really generous and they seemed to enjoy their dish very much, judging by their clean plates.

It was then off to the claw machines upstairs. Who can resist those ching ching noises from above calling us with those cute soft toys.

A great place for a catch up that won't be too heavy on your wallet.

Passionflower Capitol Square
Shop G12, Capitol Square
730-742 George St
Haymarket NSW 2000

Phone no: 02 9281 8322

Opening Hours
Sunday to Thursday: 10am - Midnight
Friday and Saturday: 10am - 1am
Public Holidays: 10am - Midnight

Passionflower on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Encasa Restaurant - Sydney, Australia

Encasa Restaurant

It's another quick end to the working week and my cousins and I are due for our next monthly dinner catch up. We decide to go to Encasa after failing to make a booking before the Christmas holidays which deprived us of Spanish food. This time around I called at the beginning of the week for a Friday 6pm booking and was told that we could only stay till 8pm as it was fully booked.

Encasa specialises in Spanish food, mainly tapas, pizza and pasta dishes. I've been a frequent customer for many years whether it be for work functions, friend birthdays or just the casual catch up. The food is always consistently good, reasonable cheap and never fails to deliver. Not only that, fresh ingredients are used making it even better.

We arrive a bit before 6pm and the restaurant is still looking rather empty. We're escorted to our table for 4 and already know what we want to order. We decide on five tapas and one pizza to share. The portions are extremely generous and we can already tell that it will be more than enough.

The first tapa to arrive is the 'Gambas al Ajillo - Peeled King Prawns in Sizzling Garlic Oil and Chilli($13.00)'. The prawns are cooked to perfection with a slight bite to it. The garlic oil has a pleasant aroma and would be nice to scoop up with bread. Didn't find it spicy at all. Must be my high tolerance to chilli.

Our favourite dish is definitely the 'Patatas Bravas - Fried Potato Garlic Mayonnaise and Spicy Tomato Salsa ($9.50)'. It is a must order and we never fail to order this and I don't mind if we just had this on its own. It's extremely addictive and I could finish the whole plate myself. The plate is gone in no time. The potatoes are crispy and golden and the mayo is smooth and creamy which is balanced out with the tangy tomato salsa.

Cousin W requests for the scallops dish but we're told it is sold out. She then asks for the 'Pulpo a la Plancha-Grilled Fresh Baby Octopus ($14.00)'. The octopus is cooked perfectly in olive oil and a drench of lemon brings out the flavour. There is just way too much and as it gets cold it becomes chewy.

Cousin L orders the 'Pinchos de Pollo con Mojo-Chicken Skewers with Red Capsicum, Olive Oil, Cumin and Vinegar ($12.00)'. We found the chicken to be a tad dry and the accompanying sauce had a strong spice taste. 

Our last tapas dish arrives sizzling hot at the table, 'Champinones al Ajillo-Sizzling Garlic Mushrooms ($9.50)'. Only recommended for those serious mushroom lovers. The garlic wasn't too strong and tasted subtle.

Our main dish, the 'Large Finca Pizza - Chicken, Pesto, Roasted Red Capsicum, Onion and Olives ($21.50)' arrives hot from the woodfired oven. The cheese is soft, gooey and delicious. Overall, a great tasting pizza.

Dessert is skipped as we're stuffed from all that food. We decide to take a look at the Chinese New Year Markets at Belmore Park instead before deciding on what to have for dessert. Service is very efficient and prompt. By the time we're finished, the restaurant is at full capacity and we stuggle to hear each other speaking. Great times :)

423 Pitt St,
Sydney NSW 2000

Phone no: 02 9211 4257

Opening Hours
To be Advised

Encasa on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Pancakes on the Rocks - The Rocks - Sydney, Australia

Pancakes on the Rocks

'Pancakes on the Rocks' has been a favourite of mine since high school. A cheap and cheerful family restaurant that is easily accessible with its many locations around Sydney. It's not only famous for its pancakes but there are also other American based dishes on the menu at very decent prices that not only look great but the portions are fairly large as well.

My company sent out their yearly 'Entertainment 'card just in time for the start of the new year. One of the offers on the card was 20% off our total dining bill at this restaurant and we couldn't wait to go but finding time to meet up was difficult with conflicting schedules. However, we did manage to fit in a Friday dinner and we chose to dine at the original 'Pancakes on the Rocks' as we have noticed that the food always tastes better.

I called a day earlier to make a booking as the wait time can be over half an hour on Friday's but they told us only bookings of 8 or more could be made. We arrive at 6pm and find that the restaurant is half-empty and got a table straight away. Yay!

We ordered the 'Lemon Lime Bitters' as our drinks and then three mains to share. On this particular night we didn't have dessert, the famous 'Pancakes', as we went to the new Max Brenner in Westfields. All three dishes came out at the same time. We had our usual dishes consisting of 'Chicken Caesar Salad ($15.95)', 'Nachos ($12.95) and 'Pork Ribs in Honey Soya ($25.95)'.

I would have to say that they serve one of the best 'Chicken Caesar Salads' in Sydney. It has the right mix of lettuce, chicken, bacon, cheese and sauce. The chicken breast was grilled but wasn't dry. We wiped the dish clean with no leftovers seen  in place.

The 'Nachos' were delicious consisting of crunchy corn chips smothered in beef sauce, jalapeno peppers, melted cheese, sour cream, guacamole, tomato salsa and a sprinkle of shallots. The balance of flavour was spot on. 

The 'Pork Ribs' were juicy and plump served with a side of salad and wedges.

By the time we finished the three dishes we were extremely full. Service was quick and the wait wasn't long. One of my favourite places that I would definitely recommend to those after a great tasting meal. 'Pancakes on the Rocks' at 'The Rocks' is open 24 hours for those who want to grab a snack at the wee hours of the morning.

The Rocks
4 Hickson Rd,
The Rock NSW 2000

Phone: 02 9247 6371

Opening Hours
24 Hours


Pancakes on the Rocks on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Whimsical Cakehouse - Dolans Bay - Sydney, Australia

Whimsical Cakehouse
I've been on the search for a cupcake making class for a while now and wasn't prepared to pay the full price as it was quite expensive. I stumbled across a deal on 'Ouffer' to 'learn the art of making great cupcakes' for a bargain price of $49.00 for a two hour class at Dolans Bay, which was a 15 minute drive from my place. I enrolled for the 'Intro-Designer Cupcakes Class' for 3pm on a Sunday which was a class for beginners on how to decorate cupcakes.
The drive there was pleasant, located on Port Hacking Rd, it was relatively easy to get to. The open plan studio overlooks stunning water views and upon entry, a vast array of beautiful looking cakes are on display. T2 Tea, Nespresso coffee and assorted biscuits are offered before the start of class.
We are seated at our benches and half a dozen of cupcakes have been assembled in preparation for decoration with a large bowl of white chocolate ganache on the side. Our teacher today is Linda, the course director, who is very kind and cheeful lady with her mother as her assistant.
We start off with a demonstration from Linda and she shows us how to cut the rims of the cupcakes with a paring knife which will allow the ganache to be filled afterwards.My cutting skills are not the best but that will later be covered.
We cover all our cupcakes with a spoonful of ganache and smooth out the tops with a spatula. Then we proceed to hot knifing them by dipping the spatula into hot water and using out fingers to smooth out the ganache. This is then covered by a circular pre-cut fondant stuck on by brushing syrup made of jam, alcohol and water onto the ganache.
Then the decorating starts! Linda shows us three designs at a time and we return to our table to duplicate the design. Once we're done with all 6 designs, a box is provided to take home our creations.
The class was short, pleasant and lots of fun. I learnt a lot of things in that short time and would love to go to another class when I have the time. Definitely recommended.
Outside View
Kitchen Area




Cupcakes Sliced
Cupcake Bits

Covered Cupcakes
Polished Cupcakes

Decorating Tool

Vintage Cupcake
Flower Cupcake
Bow Cupcake

Assorted Cupcakes
Takeaway Box

743 Port Hacking Rd
Dolans Bay NSW 2229

Opening Hours