Monday, November 29, 2010

Bau Truong, Cabramatta

On Saturday night The Boy, Niecy-Poo and I decide to go on an eating adventure to Cabramatta. I’ve been drooling over so many food blogs lately extolling the many virtues of the food in Cabramatta that I had to see taste for myself.

During the week I’d read blogs by Noodlies and Here Comes the Food both raving about Tan Viet, and its amazingly awesome Crispy Chicken.  I was finally going to give in to my craving to try this dish, wedding dress be damned.  It goes without saying that The Boy was determined to support me on my Crispy Chicken tasting mission.  

We parked the car near the train station and I marched The Boy and Nicey-Poo down John Street reciting all the good things I’d read about Tan Viet. 

We arrive at the restaurant at 7.05pm just as one of the staff flip the sign on the door to CLOSED. Huh?  It seems that the folk in Cabramatta are early eaters as this place shuts at 7pm.  I’ll admit I’m a bit of a nanna, but even 7pm on a Saturday night is a bit too early for me to be tucked up in bed after eating a 5pm dinner. 

In fact as I look around I notice that 90% of the shops and restaurants are all shut for the day. Seems like Cabramatta really ‘happens’ in daylight hours only.

Not to worry, there were still a few places open for dinner so we wander back down John Street and see what’s on offer. We decide on Bau Truong because a) it is still open at 7.15pm and b) it seems fairly crowded which is a good sign in my books.

We are shown to our seats, given tea and a menu that is bigger than the Sydney White Pages.  The menu is so large that we can really only have one open at a time on the table otherwise they won’t all fit.

It’s a given that we are going to order Fresh Rolls and The Boy decides that we’ll be sampling Prawn and Pork Fresh Rolls ($7.50).  The rolls are very tasty (and fresh as the name promises), but I wouldn’t say the best I’ve ever had. I found the pork a little dry and I think I’ve decided I like my Fresh Rolls sans Pork thank you very much.

Next up is the Vietnamese Pancake ($12.00).  I have an obsession with these and I’m not sure why as I always find the pancake just a little too oily (which I like to whinge about to my dining companions – sozzy guys).  That said, I really love the fresh innards of bean shoots which I think which is why I keep ordering it. The Boy and Nicey-Poo found the pancake a little bland, but once we figure out we’re supposed to pour one of the  fish sauces onto it, and add some of the mint and lettuce garnishing the plate, the flavour picks up.

Probably the best meal of the night (which I choose of course…yay me) is the Beef Salad with Mango, Apple and Star Fruit ($15.00).  This salad was so fresh, the beef tender and thinly sliced.  The green mango and apple give it a slightly acidic zing which is so fresh in my mouth.  I’d be happy to eat this dish on a regular basis.  It has the fresh and zesty flavour that I really associate with Vietnamese food.  More please.

Last up is the dish we drove to Cabramatta for, Crispy Chicken and Tomato Rice ($10.00).  I’ve got to tell you, The Boy may look slow, but he is quicker than the speed of light when it comes to nabbing chickeny goodness for himself. Whilst I’m chatting to Neicy-Poo he quickly grabs two of the four pieces of chicken and starts devouring them.  He tells me the two pieces were joined together so he had to take them both.  Hmmm, a likely story.  

The chicken is good, fried to a crisp (just how I like it) so I can munch on the bones as well as the juicy flesh.  I’m not a big fan of the tomato rice, I find it a bit dry, but the others really love it.  To me it tastes like the tomato flavour comes from some kind of tomato sauce rather than fresh tomatoes – if you know how they do it let me know!

The verdict?  We’ll be back to Cabramatta one weekend in the not too distant future to get the proper Cabramatta experience. I can’t wait. 

Bau Truong is at 70 John St, Cabramatta.

Bau Truong on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lat Dior African Eatery, Enmore

I’ve been wanting to go to Lat Dior in Enmore for months. Literally months!

African is something that I would very rarely eat simply as you don’t find too many African restaurants in Sydney (and I don’t think there are any in the Parramatta area). I’ve had African once or twice before, but not within the last ten years. But, I am really craving something different…and meaty.

I’ve almost made it to Lat Dior quite a few times but things just never worked out…usually due to the fact that whenever my family gets together Asian (specifically Yum Cha or Japanese) are on the menu.

So when Neicy-Poo joins Miss Chicken and I for dinner (yes, another great car exchange program is in play) she suggests that we finally give this African restaurant a try. Miss Chicken and I jump at this brilliant idea.

Neicy-Poo has been to Lat Dior a few times recently, but with her vegetarian friends. Now I don’t know if you know much about African food, but it pretty much focuses on meat, meat and more meat. Niecy-Poo found out the hard way that vego friends and an African fest are not exactly a match made in heaven.

Lat Dior has quite dim lighting, not good for taking photos on my poxy little camera. I tried taking a few photos with the flash on, but I think I was giving one of the other diners a stroke. So, just a few photos for this post I’m afraid.

The restaurant is also quite small, much smaller that its sister restaurant Le Kilimanjaro up the road in Newtown. Lat Dior has about seven or eight tables and I imagine it might get a bit crowded at times. The small room fills up as the night progresses and at 9.15pm people are still coming in for dinner (which astounds me as 9.15pm is normally when I'm getting ready for beddy-byes). 

The three of us decide to order three meaty mains and some side dishes. It’s going to be a non-vegetarian meat fest tonight. Woo hoo.

It’s quickly agreed that Cous Cous ($2.00 per person) is a must, as well as some yummy African Flat Bread ($2.00) and Harrissa ($1.00).

I love the flat bread which has a texture similar to a crepe. And I love that all the food is served on traditional wooden African plates - very cool.

I’ve seen Maeve O’Maera’s African Food Safari so I know I’m supposed to use the flat bread as a scoop for my meat and cous cous. It’s a bit messy, but I give it a go and then revert to the old knife and fork that I’ve come to know and love.

We settle on two side dishes. First up is the Accara ($6.00), a round pattie of black-eyed beans soaked overnight and then ground with mild African spices. The Accara are lovely and soft and the sauce they come with is rich and flavoursome.

Our other side dish is Sap Sap ($6.00) which has to be my favourite dish of the night. Fresh crunchy watercress with a dressing of mild African spices, tamarind and pepper – I could eat it by the bucket load and still want more. The taste is fresh and the dressing is lovely and zesty, but not bitter.

Next up is mains. First cab off the rank is Guinar African BBQ Chicken (no picture due to a technical failure on my part). We order a half chicken for $10 and the meat is so tender and juicy and falls off the bone when we go to break it up.

We order our next meal, Sossou Gorgiguan ($12.50) as the description is just so…weird.

I’ll let you read for yourself…

The tuna has a very strong fishy taste, but it’s not unpleasant. We’re not really sure of the correlation between “homosexual” and “tuna” and “Senegal”, but it’s a nice meal despite the truly odd description on the menu.  As with all the meals we've had at Lat Dior the spices are mild in flavour - although if you like it really spicy just ask and they'll spice it up for you.

Last up is a beef dish from Madagascar, Varenga ($10.50). The menu promised us this dish would be mouth watering and it lived up to its promise.

The bad news about tonight is that The Boy is DEVASTATED that I’ve gone to Lat Dior without him. The good news is that I get to go again with The Boy. Oh, and the REALLY good news is that Niecy-Poo has bought her own car so I have full custody of my car once again.

Lat Dior African Eatery is at 150 Enmore Road, Enmore.

Lat-Dior African Eatery on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pho Pasteur, Westfield Parramatta

Today I have a day off work (yay) so I put on my walking shoes and wander up to Parramatta and see a chick flick (double yay).

I end up seeing the new Katherine Heigl movie Life as we know it.  It is pretty funny and Katherine Heigl has great hair as always, but the movie just has too many baby poop scenes to make me think having a baby could ever be a good thing.

After the movie, when the baby poop jokes are but a distant memory, I decide to check out Pho Pasteur at Westfield Parramatta.  The Boy and I went for dinner at its sister restaurant on Church Street a few weeks ago so I am keen to check out the differences between the two.

I’ve been living in Parramatta for a few months now and I’ve skirted around the outside of the Westfield but not really gone inside other than to see a movie. The place is just too huge.  I think shopping centres like this are what an alien abduction would be like…bright lights, lots of weird looking people everywhere and you get plonked back on the sidewalk four hours later blinking into the bright sunlight and wondering where the time has gone.

So, I am VERY relived to find that Pho Pasteur is located on a strip of outside restaurants on Argyle Street, underneath the movie theatre complex. 

This Pho Pasteur is much newer than the Church Street restaurant and everything is shinny, new and trendy. It doesn't really have that laminate-table-ambience or budget food feel of many other Vietnamese restaurants I've been to. But if the food is good, I don't really mind.

When I arrive the ultra modern looking restaurant is full to the brim with office workers having a quick bite to eat, so I grab a table outside and watch the world go by. 

All of the Westfield restaurants on Argyle Street are smack back in the middle of the Parramatta Bus Exchange so it’s not exactly peaceful, or scenic, outdoor dinning.  That said I do enjoy watching people running for their buses as it is usually me missing the bus by just a few seconds.  I do however feel as though I am “being watched” as I eat by everyone waiting at the bus stop (I guess I feel that because I AM being watched).  A very weird feeling.

The waiter promptly provides me with a jug of tea that holds more fluid than a single person should ever drink in one sitting. 

I’m also given two menus.  One contains pictures of everything on offer; and another with just text.  This menu system is slightly less confusing than the restaurant on Church   Street, which has a text menu, a picture menu of some items and other pictures on the wall.  I still find it odd that they don’t combine all of the pictures and text into one menu.  I find myself cross referencing everything in order to decide on what I should have for lunch.

I decide to order a Bun Vermicelli which is something that I’ve had many times before and that I love. 

The text menu helpfully tells me that Bun Vermicelli is a ‘refreshing noodle salad of angel hair rice noodles, cucumber, mung beans, sprouts and fresh herbs; topped with roasted peanuts, pickles and nuoc man sauce’. 

Unlike Pho Pasteur on Church Street, the Westfield restaurant assumes that its diners don’t necessary know what the meals are. I really like, and appreciate the explanations that the text menu gives me on each meal. 

Whilst I do know what Bun Vermicelli is I really enjoy reading what all of the other options are, and am sure novices to Vietnamese cuisine would find it helpful too.

I’ve ordered a Bun Dac Biet ($12.00) today, which is a Bun Vermicelli with topped with a plump sugar cane prawn, seafood spring roll and grilled pork.

My bowl is filled to the brim with tasty goodies.  The prawn, pork and spring roll sit nestled beside the salad goodies and everything sits atop a huge mound of noddles.  Drool.

I pour the nuoc mam sauce on top, chop the sugar cane prawn, seafood spring roll and grilled pork into pieces and mix everything together.

This meal tastes so fresh and healthy, and as I breathe in the bus fumes from the passing buses I know that I’ve chosen myself  a tasty and healthy lunch!

Pho Pasteur is at Store 2185A, Level 2 (which is street level), Westfield Parramatta.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Café Abercrombie, Darlington

Don’t you just love it when blackout at work means you have to take an earlier than expected lunch break? I sure know I do.

It probably doesn’t say much about my work ethic that the minute the power went out I was up off my seat and heading for the stairs.  You don’t have to tell me twice that it’s time for lunch!

I suppose in hindsight I could have done some filing, or unpacked some boxes from our office move the day before. Meh…no thanks. I’d rather eat.

I would like to point out however that I did meet two of my team mates, Witty Knitter and the Baking Lady, in the fire stairs taking advantage of the enforced lunch break.  After a quick pow-wow we decided to head off and find somewhere to eat together.

I was keen to try Café Abercrombie which I had spotted the day before on my way to the train station from my new office.  I must have driven up and down Abercrombie Street a few hundred times over the last few years and I’ve NEVER noticed it – I guess I was too busy making sure some crazy Uni student didn’t run out in front of my car and make a dent in my bonnet. 

After a quick skim over the menu I decide that I’m going to have the Falafel Salad ($9.50) so I can continue my Sydney-wide search for the best falafel ever.  The Baking Lady follows my lead and orders the same.

Witty Knitter orders a Chicken Gourmet Sandwich ($6.50). 

The Witty Knitter is beside herself to have found Phoenix Organic Softdrink that's made in New Zealand - she's made in NZ too, hence the excitment.  We all decide to order a bottle to see what the fuss is about. 

The sandwich is the first to arrive at our table and it is HUGE!!!  It is almost bigger than the Witty Knitter’s head when she holds it up to take the first bite.

The bread is thickly sliced and looks so soft and fresh.  Between the soft fluffy bread lies a mound of shredded chicken, lettuce, tomato, avocado and mayo. I’m told it’s very yummy – but it proves too big to finish.  For $6.50 this sandwich is incredibly good value.

The Falafel Salads arrive next and it is very substantial looking. The Baking Lady and I are happy with our lunch choice.

This salad is big and has a generous serving of falafel (seven in total).  The falafels are a really odd oval shape which is something I’ve not seen before.  I wonder if they are made in house or pre-bought?  Not that it matters as they are soft and tasty, but lack the usual crisp outer shell that most falafel has.   The falafel ovals (maybe I could call them flovals and start a new buzz word for 2010) sit atop of a bed of lettuce, tomoato, cucumber, carrot and Spanish onion. 

I really like the side of Cucumber and Yoghurt dressing that comes with the salad.  It is thick and creamy is the perfect accompaniment to the flovals.

I really liked Café Abercrombie.  It has that same relaxed and rustic vibe that I loved so much at Appetite Café and the staff are really friendly. 

Fingers crossed that there’ll be another blackout tomorrow.

Café Abercrombie is at 336 Abercrombie Street, Darlington.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Red Chilli Sichuan Hot Pot, Glebe

Last night The Boy and I met up with Big Brother No. 2 (who says I should just call him Bob, seeing as that is his name) and two of his kiddiewinks Hungry Boy and MissL for dinner. 

Bob has decided we should try the Red Chilli Sichuan Hot Pot on Glebe Point Road.  

I find this a very very odd choice of restaurant for this family.  A few years ago we ate just down the road at Spicy Sichuan for MissL’s birthday and it was a painful experience.  Literally painful.  I don’t mean pain in the way that people say “gee my family is a pain”.

The Sichuan food was so painfully hot that I couldn’t eat most of the meal as my mouth was in a chilli induced trauma. My tongue felt like it had third degree burns.  The Hungry Boy was left gasping and begging the waiter for a coke…now please!  We all coughed and spluttered our way through the night with the help of copious amounts of liquid refreshments.

So needless to say I’m a bit scared of what is about to happen at Red Chilli Sichuan Hot Pot.

In the centre of our table is a recessed gas burner and a space big enough to house a witch’s cauldron. I already know that whatever is going to come out of there is going to be HOT!

Our waiter presents us with a menu for ordering a-la-carte items and what appears to be a shopping list so we can start picking and choosing what we’d like to go into our hot pot.

It is safe to say that at this point we are all thoroughly confused.  I’ve had a hot pot once before but don’t really remember it and the others are hot pot novices. 

So we go with what we know and order some entrees from the a-la-carte menu. Oh, and some beers as we know are going to be needed to cool the chilli onslaught that is about to hit us.

Our first entrée is a Sichuan Special Pumpkin Cake ($7.80).  The soft pumpkin disc is encased by a sesame seed pastry.  The overwhelming taste is not of pumpkin but the sesame seeds dotted onto the cake.  There is no spiciness to the pumpkin cakes whatsoever and I am relived.

Our next entrée is the Wonton in Hot Chilli Soup ($7.80). The wontons are lovely and the sauce is the perfect mix of salty soy and sour vinegar.  Despite its moniker of ‘hot chilli soup’ it is not overly spicy and doesn’t come close to blowing my head off. Once again, I am relived.

The final entrée is the Boiled Dumplings in Hot and Sour Sauce ($7.80).  The dumplings are nice, but nowhere near as tasty as the wontons.  I find that the sauce is not overly flavoursome and it is certainly not spicy.  Perhaps this restaurant isn't going to be as spicy as I am fearing. More relief.

Now on to the hot pot.  We decide on a Half Spicy and Half Chicken Pork Bone Soup ($14.00) as this will give us a chance to try both of the broths on offer. We can also choose how spicy we want our broth.  The “spiceometer’ options range from extra spicy to little spicy and even though we like spicy food we learnt our lesson at Spicy Sichuan.  It is a group consensus to opt for Mild.

The next step is choosing what we’d like to go into our broth.  There are so many decisions to be made in ordering a hot pot that I am starting to feel fatigued. 

We spend the next ten minutes passing the hot pot shopping list to each other like it’s a hot potato, each ticking random items that we think could work well in the hot pot.  Who knows? We sure don’t.  Our waiter is lovely, but not overly helpful so we’re not sure if we really understand how this whole “hot pot thing” works.

We end up choosing Pork Belly Slices ($8.00) and Beef Slices ($8.00) as our meat options and add some Scallops ($8.00) into the mix.  A few token vegetables are added such as Chinese Cabbage ($4.00), Bean Sprouts ($5.00), Oyster Mushrooms ($7.00) and Spinach ($4.00).   Miss L adds in a few extra items, such as Quail Eggs ($5.00), Fish Balls ($6.00), White Radish ($3.00) and Rice Vermicelli ($3.00)  just before the list is handed over the waiter.

Our waiter urges us to order some sauces for dipping the cooked food into. We let him guide us on this front and he chooses five different sauces for us (each between $1.50 - $2.00).

When the cauldron of broth arrives it is lowered onto the table’s gas burner and the flame lit.  Oooooo! Very fancy.

It’s not hard to tell which is the spicy broth as it is a deep dark red colour.  I’m alarmed that I can see what appears to be hundreds of chilli’s bobbing around in our mildly spiced soup.  Oh dear.  I don’t think this is going to end well folks.

Once the soup is boiling we start adding bits and pieces in to be cooked. There is a debate over whether we put everything in at once or just put in a few things and then pick them out. 

We pile everything in, trying to follow the cooking times that the helpful instruction sheet advises us of, but not really getting it right. Whatever – I just want to eat.

The spicy broth is ultra spicy. Everything we pull out has numerous amounts of chilli stuck to it like barnacles.  Whilst we all cough and splutter with every mouthful, I think I prefer its spicy kick over the milder, more benign, broth bubbling away on the other side of the cauldron.

We are not really sure what to do with the sauces that have been ordered with the meal.  As the food going into our bowl is pretty much soup like the sauces seem to be redundant in my opinion. That said, I realise we have no idea what we are doing, so please don’t pay attention to me!

My favourite of all of the ingredients we’ve chosen was the Quail Egg – good choice MissL. The eggs are sweet and the yolk pops in your mouth when you bite in to it.  In the end we are all fishing around in the dregs of the soup trying to find any lonely quail eggs that haven’t yet made it into our tummies.

I have mixed feelings about our Sichuan hot pot experience.  I think it is a fun and interactive way to eat with a group of people and I love it that is a totally difference eating experience for us.

On the other hand I really wish we had a better idea of what we were doing as I think we missed out on the full culinary and cultural experience.  I would have loved some more guidance from the staff so that we could have experienced a true Sichuan Hot Pot.  I feel like tonight’s dinner was a big cultural eating fail on our part. I also didn't feel really fulfilled by my meal as it was all too confusing and chaotic.

Either way, we are all in agreement that we should head down the road ASAP to have some gelato in an attempt to try and cool down our mouths.

The Boy & I agree that we'll be back to try it all again - older and wiser next time.

Red Chilli Sichuan Hot Pot is at 15 Glebe Point Road, Glebe.

Red Chilli Hotpot on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 19, 2010

Glamorous Food Court, Westfield Sydney

I’ve FINALLY been to check out the new Westfield on Pitt Street Mall. I feel like the last person in the universe (or the blogging universe at least) to venture here.

Last night I met up with my friend CocoChanel after work.  We both finish work quite early so we arrive at Westfield just before 5.00pm.

As we start looking around the new shops CocoChanel tells me that she’s quite hungry and would be it be OK if we found somewhere to eat?

Would it be OK?  Hello! The whole reason I’m here is to check out the famed Level 5 food court (oh, and to catch up with CocoChanel of course).  

I figured since it’s before 5.00pm this is the perfect time to check out the food court given most people wouldn’t be eating quite this early (unless a bus load from the local nursing home is also checking out Westfield today that is).

I really wanted to try the Charlie & Co burgers last night, but as it is only a month til the big wedding day I’m trying to be marginally healthy so I don’t have to be surgically fitted into the wedding dress and then cut out of it at the end of the day.  It seemed such a shame to bypass Charlie & Co as there was NO queue AT ALL and a team of chefs standing by twiddling their fingers just waiting to cook someone (ie me) a burger and fries.  Oh well, next time.

CocoChanel spots the middle eastern eatery Dergah Grill and we umm and ahh for quite a while over what we should have. The guys behind the counter are very lovely and talk us though what’s on offer and offer to make up us a plate of whatever we want.   In the end we settle on a Mixed Grill Platter with Chicken and Lamb shish ($19.00) and a Vege Plate ($14.90).

CocoChanel doesn’t really “get” my foray into food blogging and there is much rolling of eyes as I try to explain it all to her whilst at the same time snapping away on my phone camera, as I left my real camera sitting on the couch at home.

She’s further unimpressed when I mention there’s no eating til the photos of the meals have been snapped.   She actually won’t sit down at the table until all the photography is over and done with.

We both enjoy our meals (when we’re finally allowed to eat them). We are sharing both meals so we can have a taste of everything.  I especially like the meat from Lamb Shish as it is juicy and flavoursome.  The dips are lovely and creamy, and the salads fresh and colourful. However I do think the falafel is a little tough and over cooked. 

Mixed Grill Platter

Meat Platter
I approach the Cabbage Roll on the Vege Plate with much hesitation. My mother used to make Cabbage Rolls for dinner and I always thought they were REVOLTING! The cabbage was so overcooked that it smelt, and tasted, like a smelly old football sock.  Blech. 

I am surprised, and pleased, to report that the Cabbage Roll from Dergah Grill is really lovely. The cabbage doesn’t taste like an old football sock at all, in fact it hardly tastes like cabbage which is a big plus in my books.   The cabbage leaf is smooth and silky and the mince it surrounds has a lovely mild flavour.  I wish that I’d had an entire roll to myself.

As we eat our dinner we admire the food court and its shiny new interior.  The décor is fancy and modern and the whole area feels very expensive.  I do however feel that the dim lighting and black tiles make the food court feel quite dark, even though it is still bright daylight outside.  Perhaps this is modern and trendy, but I don’t really get it.

The mirrors everywhere give the feel that we are in a house of mirrors – we spot food outlets in the mirror but aren’t really sure where they are.  At first we couldn’t even find Charlie & Co as we kept seeing the reflection in various mirrors, but couldn’t figure out where it was hidden.

After dinner we go for a wander around Westfield and check out the shops…I even manage to buy a few Christmas presents so am very pleased. 

We head back up to the food court after about an hour for dessert and a rest – shopping is tiring! I’m abstaining from dessert and CocoChanel is embarking on a fitness regime that she doesn’t want to undo.  We window shop the cakes and goodies at Via del Corso Pasticceria e Caffe but CocoChanel settle on a fruit salad from Top Juice ($4.90). 


It seems that CocoChanel is coming around to my food blogging exploits as she offers to let me take a quick photo before she eats her fruit salad. 

It looks very tasty and I’m told the mango is amazingly fresh and juicy. We agree then that it is probably worth the $7.50 price tag Top Juice are charging for whole mangos.

As we sit at Top Juice we talk about different places that we’ve eaten at recently and places that I’ve blogged about.  We discuss our mutual love of Lebanese food and CocoChanel suggests an outing to Lakemba in a few weeks time.  It seems I’ve converted her to become a food blogging buddy after all!

You Might Also Like:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Free Blog Template by June Lily