Monday, August 25, 2014

Badmanner Thymes Cafe, Parramatta

I'm thrilled that another Parramatta cafe has decided to open up its doors on weekends for the locals to enjoy. It seems a lot of new cafes initially open Monday to Friday (which is great if you work in the 'hood {which I don't so it's bad for me}).  Once these weekyday cafes find their feet the locals are set to benefit with weekend opening times. Yay!

Badmanner Thymes Cafe is...compact with a lovely, cozy fit out. I love the old leather Chesterfield that sits against the back wall (channeling "Central Perk" from Friends perhaps)...and there are interesting little bits and pieces to feast your eyes upon whilst you wait for your food. It's a great space that feels really warm and welcoming.

We kick things off with coffees - a piccolo latte for me and a cappuccino for Dave. Both of our coffees are great, very smooth and easy to drink.

One of the specials of the day is a Big Breakfast which Dave immediately orders...he doesn't even need to look at the menu. He's VERY happy with his breakfast...the scrambled eggs are nice and fluffy and the plate is crammed with baby spinach, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon and a smokey, delicious chorizo.

There are two Korean inspired rolls on the menu (though the chef isn't Korean...he just has a thing for experimenting with Korean food). On this visit I go for the Bulgogi Roll (and next time I'll hit up the Kimchi Roll). This roll is REALLY delicious! The toasted wholemeal roll and is filled with thin slices of marinated beef, pickled white radish, Spanish onion, band topped with a generous serving of sweet potato crisps. There's a little chilli hiding in amongst this medley of chilli whimps beware! I loved how the crisp sweet potato crisps offset the soft roll and tender beef. The aoli is really lovely, with just a little bit of "zing" to it.

I'm normally able to avoid the temptation of the sweet offerings at cafe, but the lure of a cabinet filled with Cronuts (aka "Brewnuts) from Brewtown is too much to resist.

We decide on a Cinnamon Cronut and our waitress heats it up for a little. It's not as mind-blowing as the Cronut from Brewtwon which I enjoyed pretty much fresh from the oven, but it's still pretty impressive to have THE LEGENDEY CRONUT IN PARRAMATTA! We've hit the big time now folks.

I'm not in the mood for a second coffee so decide to try one of their fresh juices. I opt for the Ginger Zinga as I love ginger in juices. The drink comes in a (hipster) jam jar glass sans paper straw (thankfully). I think paper straws are cute but it's nice to be able to linger over your drink without your straw disintegrating on you.

Badmanner Thymes is a great new weekend addition to Parramatta's weekend eating options. The cafe is cute, has great coffee, a good menu and some really friendly staff. At the moment they are just opening Saturdays (til about 4pm) but hope to open up on Sundays in October(ish).

Badmanner Thymes Cafe is at 1 Horwood Place, Parramatta.

Badmanner Thymes on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 18, 2014

PappaRich, Chatswood

I celebrate the opening of Pappa Rich in Parramatta (yay for another Malaysian food option in my ‘hood..and just another food option in general) by heading over to Chatswood (as you do) for an epic Malaysian feast.

Whilst I’m all about supporting the business in my suburb the lure of meeting Pappa Rich’s newest (and first) ambassador, Poh (aka Poh from Masterchef) was too hard to resist.

Poh is as lovely in real life as she has always appeared on TV.  Her energy and bubbly nature are infectious as is her love for Malaysian food (she was still fully devouring the banquet as "her people" were trying to drag her off to the airport for the flight home - love a gal who loves her food as much as I do)!

And here's Poh and I...we're totally BFFs now!

Our feast kicks off with LOADS of different dishes that include Roti Canai – a flatbread that is quite theatrical in the making with the dough being tossed and spun like a circus trick to achieve its soft, fluffy texture.

Roti Canai with Tandoori Chicken - served with a side of spicy sambal and a cooling yoghurt raita (I like how these two balance each other out, hot vs cool). The tandoori chicken is so tender and flavorsome and you’ll be left with pink fingers as you try to pick every bit of meet off the bone. 

Roti Planata – a sweet style Roti Canai with margarine and smidgen of sugar sprinkled throughout the bread. It’s interesting to eat a sweet roti with the savoury, spicy accompaniments and surprisingly (to me) it works.

Roti Canai with Beef Rendang – my favourite as I basically love Beef Rendang, it’s my all-time favourite curry (closely followed by a Thai yellow curry as I love the potatoes in that dish).

Satay – a HUGE platter of satay beef and satay chicken is accompanied by housemade satay sauce, red onions and cucumbers. The satay is marinated in fresh lemongrass and turmeric (not sure if this is an authentic Malaysia style or not, but it’s tasty).

Chicken Curry Laksa – the most popular style of laksa in Australia (until recently I had no idea there WAS any other style of Laksa) cooked in a spicy coconut gravy with chicken, tofu puffs, beancurd skin, beansprouts, fish cakes and the kitchen sink! If you’ve dined in a food court you’ve probably had this version of Laksa.

Pappa Asam Laksa – I cannot enough of this dish!!! Until last year I had NO idea Asam Laksa was a “thing”. I am now so in LOVE with the sour flavor that comes from the tamarind broth topped with shredded pineapple, mint and shrimp paste. Another soup with just about everything in it plus the kitchen sink – we have lettuce, chilli, cucumber, red onion. This is now my laksa of choice. Two hoofs up from me.

Pappa Special Nasi Lemak with Curry Chicken and Sambal Prawns – I LOVE LOVE LOVE Nasi Lemak, probably as it always comes with Ikan Bilis (little dried, crunchy, salty anchovies) and peanuts. I love mixing the Ikan Bilis and Peanuts in with the rice and incorporating some of the hot hot hot spicy sambal for good measure. The cucumber provides the right amount of “coolness” for the mouth if you overdo the sambal (which I always do).

Fried chicken skin - really not much to say about this other than "OMG, IT'S INCREDIBLE, LIKE THE TRUE ESSENCE OF CHOOK...AND NO I DON'T WANT TO SHARE THIS WITH ANYONE. EVER".

This is just a really a small sample of the food on offer at Pappa Rich. There menu is HUGE and I’m dying to get back ASAP to try the Kaya Toast with a side of soft-boiled eggs. Come to mumma!

The Pappa Rich menu also has a TONNE of drinks on offer, from Kopi (that's coffee to you and I), Teh (Tea) and a range of fruit based drinks. You won't be left thirsty here that's for sure with the drinks menu being almost as long as the food menu. I LOVE this as I find the drinks (and deserts) on offer in SE Asia always so colourful and appealing.

Pappa Rich Chatswood is at 63A Archer St, Chatswood. Phone them on 9411 3207.

 PappaRich on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 11, 2014

Chi + Co, Canley Heights

It's been a LONG while since I bought a meal deal voucher, but when one popped up for Chi + Co I quickly grabbed it.

Chi + Co is a modern Thai/Malaysian/Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney's Canley Heights.Where is Canley Heights I hear you ask?  Think Cabramatta and you're in the general vicinity. The suburb has a similar ethic diversity to Cabramatta and it's a great area bustling with vibrant street life, delicious eateries, Asian grocery stores and Vietnamese coffee shops. It's not quite as busy as Cabramatta...but finding a park close to the main street will still make you feel like you've won the lottery!

In a suburb of homely, laminate table clad Vietnamese eateries Chi + Co sure stands out! The sleek warehouse-style interior (and the modern menu) reminds me of a cross between Ms G's and Melbourne's Chin Chin...all within 20 minutes of home!

Our six course meal (all for the bargain price of $39 with our voucher) kicks off with smoked trout on betel leaf with galangal, roasted chilli and fried shallots.  We both enjoyed the fresh flavours of this dish alongside the earthy smoked trout.

Course two is the happily named "chicken lettuce delight".  This delicious san choy bao came heaped with lup cheong sausage, minced chicken, mushrooms, water chestnuts and crispy glass noodles. The iceberg lettuce cup were super fresh and really added to the crisp texture of the dish.

Next we had a bite-sized pulled beef slider with tender beef rib on a steamed bun with mint and house pickles. I really enjoyed this - probably barbecue it was more "bao" than "slider" and a soft, fluffy steamed bao is hard to resist.

Our last entree (and course four) is the son-in-law eggs with housemade XO sauce.  These were cooked perfectly and had a lovely fried crust whilst still retraining a lovely, oozey yolk.  I find it total magic how an egg can be deep fried to have a firm white whilst keeping a soft, runny yolk (I obviously have issues soft-boiling my eggs)! MAGIC!

On to the mains with the arrival of the Shaken Beef. This dish was great - so flavoursome! We loved the wok-tossed scotch fillet cubes that were cooked in aromatic garlic and pepper. The meat had lovely little caramelized pieces throughout and was served with a zesty watercress salad we mixed through the beef before serving.

I tried to claim the entire tile of crisp salmon skin that came with our final course but I lost that battle (surely the purchaser of "the voucher" gets full ownership of any crispy skinned objects that come to the table)!  Course six is a fried crispy skin salmon and green papaya salad with Vietnamese mint and fried garlic.  Besides the son-in-law eggs I think this was my favourite dish. So much flavour, so fresh...the total epitome of Vietnamese cooking I think.  I also loved the addition of the salmon which is something I've not see a lot of in Asian cooking.

Our mains were served with a side of steam rice and a lovely plate of stir-fried broccoli, snow peas and bok choy.

I loved our lunch at Chi + Co and I cannot wait to return. The staff were very friendly and attentive, and the food was wonderful - so packed full of flavour, so fresh and vibrant. Whilst it's obvious that the menu has its roots in Vietnamese cooking I loved the modern twists on some of the dishes - like the inclusion of salmon in the Papaya Salad.

Chi + Co is at 3/264 Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights. Phone them on 9727 2068.

Chi and Co. (Chi Chi) on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 04, 2014 Night, Surry Hills

We dined as guests of Devon and also of Wasamedia.

Devonshire Streets weekend brunch hot spot, Devon Café, has flung open its doors for dinner and we couldn’t be happier!

The café makes a nice transformation from bustling day time café, to a cozy, warm and somewhat romantic space over dinner. The garage and breeze-way space are softened by dim lighting and candles. And worry not, it’s cozily warm when we visit on a freezing winter’s night with outdoor heaters warming the space up (and there’s even blankies if you still feel cold…but trust me, you won’t).

Dinner is on offer from Thursday to Saturday nights (from 6pm) and you can either order off the al a carte menu, or do we did and go for a set menu when features a number of the most popular dishes.

Things kick off two lovely Coffin Bay oysters that are topped with a zesty passionfruit and yuzu granita. Our oysters were so plump and fresh - in a word, sublime. The granita was a nice refreshing touch that blends nicely with the briny oysters and is actually the perfect way for an oyster newbie like Dave to start to learn to enjoy Oysters.

We both loved the king salmon sashimi that sits atop a wobbly tomato jelly that has a nice, mild tomato flavor. It’s like eating a tomato with no tomato in sight! The salmon is a mix of fatty belly, and leaner flank pieces and is topped with chives, salmon roe, soy and dotted with a creamy wasabi that has a bit of heat to it, but not so much that it’ll burn your nose hairs!

The lobster roll was one of our favourite dishes of the night. Fat discs of plump, toothsome lobster are sandwiched in the softest of soft brioche rolls and topped with kewpie mayonnaise, baby radish and tatsoi. I’m so glad to have finally tried a lobster roll. It’s been on my hit list for ages but I’ve just never quite managed to make it happen. My next one is going to have a lot to live up to!

The KJI chicken (which I believe is named after Kim Jong-Il, a chef not the dictator) is a winner. The chicken has a shatteringly crisp batter that is studded with crispy peanuts. It is accompanied by a mild flavoured go chujang and peanut sauce

The char grilled corn in miso-coffee butter turns out to be two little pieces of baby corn. This is a really tasty dish – our corn is grilled to tender perfection (often I find baby-corn to be a bit “tough” as I guess it’s all cob and not much else) and is served on the husks which are dusted with a sprinkle of ground coffee. A tip from our waitress: don't eat the husks (a fair warning as some people do attempt to chow down on them).

The satay babi is a Penang Hainan style pork satay that is served along with two pieces of grill toasted bread. The traditional peanut satay sauce is replaced with a creamy yam sauce that has a similar texture to regular satay sauce, with a slightly sweeter flavor from what tastes to me like capsicum (or something). I liked that the inclusion of the bread allowed us to sop up every last drop of the sauce.

The chargrilled jumbo prawns come in a close second as my favourite main of the night. Our prawns are grilled to perfection (so we could eat the shell and tail) and are cooked in a hokkien sauce (soy and sambal chilli) but if you need an extra chilli kick I suggest dipping your prawns cautiously into the accompanying bowl of hokkien boy, is it SPICY!

The wagyu flat iron steak (marble score 5+ if you’re into that sort of thing) is cooked in a tangy ponzu sauce and topped with crisp garlic flakes. The steak is very tender and cooked just on the right side of not too rare (for me)…a nice simple dish I think.

Our steak is served with a bowl of steamed baby brocolini cooked in an oyster and garlic sauce. It’s impossible to photograph, but easy to eat.

The special of the night is something I’ve never tried…mainly as I thought a) it looked funny and b) would have a really strong and unpleasant taste. How wrong was I? Very! The sea urchin is served a top silky smooth agedashi tofu and bathed in a fluffy sea urchin emulsion. To me the sea urchin flavour was quite mild (especially compared to the accompanying, briny salmon roe) and the texture is quite soft and silky. Really happy to have been able to try this dish.

I hope you have saved room for dessert as the coconut jelly with guava sorbet and freeze dried pineapple is TO. DIE. FOR! Dig deep into the glass to get a spoonful of warm tapioca and make sure you get a bit of cool sorbet in every mouthful. Perfection. 

Our final dessert is one of Dave’s personal favourites…fondant. But, not any old fondant – this a heavenly green tea fondant that Dave says tastes like a baked, melty green tea kit kat! As soon as we break the shell of the fondant a river of creamy green tea oozes's deliciously warm and pairs perfectly with the matcha ice-cream.

Devon Café is at 76 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills. Call them on 9211 8777.

Dinner is currently being served between Thursday to Saturday at 6pm – 10pm. No bookings so get there early(ish) to grab a table.

Devon Cafe on Urbanspoon

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