Saturday, 28 September 2013

THY Vietnamese Eatery / Cuisiviet - Bankstown - Sydney, Australia.

THY Vietnamese Eatery / Cuisiviet

After about a month or two of not visiting Bankstown, a new restaurant opened up recently. I find that restaurants easily come and go, and the ones' that remain open for a period of time must have pretty good food as the locals can be picky eaters. I am open to new things and love trying out different restaurants as no place makes the same food with the same taste.

Cuisiviet is another Vietnamese restaurant, located on Chapel Road, serving authentic Vietnamese dishes. One thing that caught my my attention was the words 'Banh Cuon'. Their signature dishes including the 'Banh Xeo' (Vietnamese Pancake) and the 'Banh Cuon' (Fresh Rice Rolls with Filling).

The 'Banh Cuon Thit ($10.00)' is one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes. It's a dish packed with a whole lot of flavours. Made from rice flour, it is steamed and then filled with ground pork, minced wood ear mushroom and shallots. It is very similar to a crepe in that is thin, light and delicate and is served with Cha Lua (Vietnamese pork sausage), beansprouts, cucumber and mint. This is either drizzled or dipped in Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce). Made fresh on site, it is a must order dish here.

The 'Banh Cuon Tom ($10.50)' is exactly like the one described above but is filled with small school prawns instead of the usual meat. Haven't seen this variant before and I have to say it is extremely tasty and reminds me of the steamed rice noodle rolls with shrimp found at Yum Cha.

'Banh Xeo' is yet another traditional Vietnamese dish made from rice flour, coconut cream, turmeric powder and filled with slices of pork, school prawns, shallots and beansprouts. Crepe like consistency and shaped like a pancake. The one here is so big, very big. As big as your head! When the waiter was taking it out from it kitchen, we got an initial shock at the sheer size of it. Ultra crispy and fried to perfection. It is usually wrapped in lettuce leaves, stuffed with mint leaves and dipped in Nuoc Cham.

'Bun Rieu ($10.00)' is not something I usually order at a restaurant as my mum makes a pretty good one, if not better than the ones outside. It's a pork and crab vermicelli noodle soup with a tomato based stock. The one here is bland and oily, and I find myself adding fish sauce to it, to give it some extra flavour.

'Bun Mam ($12.00)' is not for the faint heart. An anchovy noodle soup that has both a strong flavour and smell. An adventurous dish that is sweet and salty, and rarely found at Vietnamese restaurants due to the difficulty in getting the dish right. A thicker vermicelli noodle topped with prawns, fish, pork, beansprouts and garlic chives. They also added eggplant and calamari which was rather different to the standard. A decent noodle soup and if you're game enough, do try it.

I would recommend going for their signature dishes as you can't go wrong with these. Affordable prices for good food. I know where I'll be going when I'm in need of a 'Banh Cuon' fix. Oh yes, I wanted to say their Nuoc Cham is delicious!

Shop 1/324 Chapel Rd,
Bankstown NSW 2200

Phone no: 02 9708 2317

Opening Hours


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Janus - Westfield Sydney, CBD - Sydney, Australia


Janus. Who and what is Janus may you ask? I didn’t know myself.  It was not until one random day, where I was browsing through the Groupon website, that a certain deal captured my attention. I remember seeing this name in one of the tweets in Twitter, so decided to send a message out to my friends and bought the deal after we all agreed on it for out next catch up. After booking a month in advance, the day finally came and there we were, at Janus on a Friday night.
Janus Italian Sydney is a restaurant that specialises in rustic Italian cuisine, bistro style. They have a few branches around the Sydney area, mainly within the CBD. The deal was for their newly opened restaurant in Westfield’s Sydney, taking over and replacing the previously owned Speido.
It is located on level 6 of the building, towards the back end of the centre and occupying a large space. When we reached at 6:30pm, it wasn’t very busy, but it gradually got busy as we sat there for over two hours!
This deal included an entrée and a main for each person plus a drink of choice from their menu, excluding cocktails. Four people at $57.00 is a bargain, but how much of a bargain, we didn’t know till we actually got our food.

We chose to sit outside as the lighting was better, but unfortunately we sat next to some plants which had little insects flying about. Tin Tin got paranoid about the bugs and starting itching and scratching herself. Other than that, it was nice sitting outside as it was rather dimly lit inside. 
We decided to share the food as this allowed us to try more of the dishes. There was just way too much food on the table and it got bit overwhelming . Looking and deciding on what to have first was a difficult choice. In terms of portion size, everything we had was very decent in size and at times, too much. They were very generous with their serving size.
We each had a drink each. I had the ‘Batlow Apple Cider ($9.00)’ which was refreshing. I much preferred this brand of cider over Somersby. It was lighter in taste.
Pork Lover and Tin Tin both wanted juice but unfortunately no juices were available on the night. They both had the San Pellegrino Italian drinks, ‘Limonata ($4.50)’ and ‘Blood Orange ($4.50)’ respectively. It’s a sparkling beverage.
Chu Chu had the ‘Spritz Aperol ($10.00)’. A alcoholic drink that is popular had in Italy. She found it a bit too strong for her liking.

The entrees/ starters were all brought out at once.
The ‘Chargrilled Chorizo ($11.00)’ consisted of chorizo, rocket and cherry tomatoes coated in a chill jam. This was cooked very nicely and wasn’t over charred like it usually cooked at other places.

My favourite dish of the night had to be the ‘Salt and Pepper Calamari ($13.00)’ which came with a lemon aioli and rocket salad. Deliciously crunchy calamari coated in a delicious batter.

The ‘Garlic Prawns ($14.00)’ were cooked with a chilli garlic lemon sauce, placed on top of rocket salad. Soft and tender prawns cooked perfectly.
Lastly, the picture perfect ‘Arancini ($12.00)’, are rolled up balls of mixed buffalo mozzarella, deep fried, and then topped with a wagyu bolognese sauce. I didn't mind it but not something I would order again.

'Alaskan Crab Linguini ($18.00)' was a nice, subtle pasta dish. It had bits of Alaskan crab, cherry tomatoes and garlic, cooked in a white wine reduction with butter. The pasta is made in house and hand rolled daily so that's a plus.

Next up was the 'Ham e Caramelised Pineapple ($18.00)', which is basically a posh name for a ham, cheese and pineapple pizza. Yes, I know, a boring topping but it actually tasted really good. Loved  the thin and crispy crust with the abundance of large ham slices.

Once the 'Caesar Salad ($16.00)' was taken out by the waiter, I was shocked at how big it was. Wood fired chicken, cos lettuce, parmesan cheese, bacon and a perfectly poached egg sat on top of the salad. At least the croutons were stale. Refreshing and light way to balance out the meal.

The 'Wagyu Burger Italiano ($15.00)' is made from Australia beef patty topped with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato and tomato chutney. A side of hand cut chips was also included. It was at this moment that I couldn't eat anymore and my stomach was at fully capacity. We struggled to finish everything and this was the last thing I was yet to try. I, however, persisted and went on to try a bit of the  burger. Mediocre as the beef was overcooked and burnt at bits.

Nice food and a great place to catch up. Prices are a bit on the steep side if it weren't for the voucher. We all had a good time eating and chatting away, eating as much as we could.
Shop 6004/5,
Level 6, Westfield Sydney,
188 Pitt St,
Sydney NSW 2000

Phone no: 02 8072 9140

Opening Hours
Monday - Friday
Breakfast: 7am - 11am
Lunch / Dinner: 11am - 9pm
Saturday - Sunday
Lunch / Dinner: 11am - 9pm

Janus - Westfield Sydney on Urbanspoon

Friday, 13 September 2013

Zen Oasis Vegetarian Restaurant - Berrima - Southern Highlands, NSW.

Zen Oasis Vegetarian Restaurant

Ms Sassy asked Toto and I if we were interested in a vegetarian buffet in Berrima. She said it was a one and an half hour drive away from the south and south-west side of Sydney. One and an half hour drive for vegetarian?!? Toto and I weren’t very interested at first, given that it was so far and she loves her meat. But our parents, specifically, our mums, quite like vegetarian food and this would be a great opportunity to try it out.

A few messages later, a date was set and last weekend we had a huge family trip to Berrima. We made our separate ways there as I live in the south and the rest of my relatives live in the south-west but coincidentally we reached our destination within a few minutes of each other.  

A nice scenic drive through the pristine highlands with mountains, lush greenery, and trees in the back drop is just beautiful. Too bad the weather wasn’t so good but the rain did hold and it didn’t pour luckily.  

I really do miss these family gatherings and events. As everyone is getting older and have commitments and priorities of their own, we’re finding it harder to meet up as a family. I’m glad we were able to meet up on this occasion as everyone had a lot of fun.

 The restaurant is remotely located on farm land and if you were to drive past here, you wouldn’t actually know such a place existed within.  Once you drive in, you’ll notice that there is a nice little cottage surrounded by natural landscape and a man-made lake.  Very calm and peaceful surroundings with a whiff of fresh air like the country side.
Unfortunately, they are only open on the weekends and booking appear to be a must, as it was a full house on the weekend I went. Also, they only have two seatings per day, one is from 11:30am to 1:30pm and the other from 2:00pm to 3:40pm which is closed for functions and If you have a group over 20 people, you get a 3 dollar discount for adults and an one dollar discount for children from their usual cost of $31.00 per adult and $16.00 per child (4 – 11 years).
 Zen Oasis Vegetarian Restaurant serves vegetarian, buffet style food with over 30 different types of foods.  An assortment of fried goodies, mock meat dishes, sushi, soup, desserts and many more are on offer depending on the week. Beverages including water, iced tea and orange juice are also available.
 The fried goodies were very popular as once the doors opened and people took their seats, most scrambled towards this area grabbing what they could. Vegetables and mock tofu of sorts coated in a batter then fried to a golden brown. The mini spring rolls were really good and highly addictive. The curry puff was drenched in oil and that scared me off it.
 I was in search of vegetarian fried rice and to my dismay there was no fried rice on the day! I had a bit of the mock chicken curry instead, which had a nice sauce but the chicken tasted artificial unfortunately. The fried mock fish actually tasted like fish and had that fishy taste to it; amazing technique. 
 Wide selections of desserts were on offer, all homemade in house and fresh. I really liked the mocha ball with a mung bean filling and coating with coconut cream. That was delicious.
Aren't those two little Pug’s so cute?
A bit on the pricey side, so you would have to eat a bit to get your money’s worth.  But well worth the experience and just the feeling of being away from the busy city, in the middle of nowhere, is great.

An excellent dining experience, though different from the usual buffets we get back at home in Sydney. Food was re-filled quickly and service was very efficient.
Everyone had so much fun chatting and catching up over the two hours we had there.  Then some went into to shop and look around as there was a Sunday market on and the rest took the long drive home back to Sydney.
Thanks Ms Sassy for organising.
230 Medway Road
Berrima NSW 2577

Phone no: 02 4877 1285

Opening Hours
Saturday and Sunday
11:30am – 1:30pm (1st Seating)
2:00pm – 3:40pm (2nd Seating – Groups over 50 people)

Zen Oasis on Urbanspoon