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In Asian, Dining on
August 15, 2017

Dumplings Taipei, Baulkham Hills

The are restaurants and cafes which I visit after reading about it online, and there are restaurants I visit out of curiosity just because they are there. Dumplings Taipei fits into the latter category, a small Taiwanese eatery sitting on the junction of Windsor and Old Northern Roads, a junction where the light is pretty much always red- which gives me plenty of time to survey the area and and check out how busy the restaurant can get during the day- always the first sign of a good restaurant!

Given that the next closest place I can get a decent Taiwan beef noodle fix is some 30 or so minutes away in Eastwood, the idea of having one so local was exciting so instead of spending half the day cooking lunch on a lazy Saturday arvo, we took a quick drive to check out this place.

Spicy Chicken Gizzard

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In Asian, Dining, Restaurant, Sydney on
April 4, 2017

An Evening in The Rocks Tour

I had my fair share of odd jobs back in the good old uni days, but one of the most fun and memorable jobs was when I guided tours of international students through The Rocks- an area I wasn’t particularly familiar with myself, but a little bit of reading up helped me sound like an expert in front of groups of students most of whom probably had only been in Sydney for no more than a couple of weeks.

So when I was invited to an evening tour of The Rocks, it certainly brought back many good memories. Quite unlike the tours I ran however, this one was certainly much more professional and well planned, guided by a group of very staff who were much more knowledgeable in the area than me.

Tuxedo Bar

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We started at Tuxedo bar, Sydney’s first bar completely dedicated to Espresso Martini’s. It’s not exactly an easy find- you won’t see any large bright signs guiding you in- but once you do eventually make it into the entrance, you’ll find yourself into a warm, inviting space, located within the former Cadbury chocolate factory.

Any type of cocktail is the perfect way to start the night, but Tuxedo’s Espresso Martini is especially delicious. There’s about 6 different variants of the espresso martini on the menu- it never gets boring!

We’re given a short introduction from the owner, Benny Sweeten, the man also behind the well-known Kansas City Shuffle as well as 6 other businesses! A barista by trade, it’s no wonder the expresso martinis are so amazing!

It’s not just about the drinks- they also do an excellent food/snacks menu, including a sinfully delectable maple bacon donut. which I might have had a few of!

Paniq Room

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Our next stop takes us through some the small, cobblestone-lined alleyways and stairs eventually leading us to the very discreet entrance Paniq Room, hidden from the main roads. Paniq Room, is one of Sydney’s first Escape Room facilities, brought over from Budapest where the concept first started. It may look small, but the facility houses three different rooms, each themed and presenting different challenges.

Unfortunately, we didn’t quite have enough time to actually experience the game first-hand, but we did manage to get a quick sneak peak of the Abandoned Milatary Bunker Room which was fascinating indeed!

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Wild Ginger Dining + Bar

I’m quite excited to try out Wild Ginger, housed in the former Sailor’s home building, in the exact location of the probably better known ex-occupant, Sailor’s Thai. It is a shame I never managed to visit Sailor’s Thai before it’s closure last year, but I am glad we had a chance to try out Wild Ginger because it does not disappoint!

Mango Spice Cocktail  ($19)

We’re taken through the narrow stairwell, past the kitchen and into the downstairs restaurant, which offers a more modern dining experience than it’s casual counterpart upstairs. The menu is quite sophisticated, starting with the deliciously sounding and unique Thai inspired cocktails.

It’s difficult to choose between the many flavours and I’m torn between the lemongrass mojito and tom yum mojito, but ultimately  opt for the mango spice cocktail, a delectable concoction of  tequila, mango puree, fresh lime, ginger. Its flavour combination is as refreshing as it sounds, the hint of ginger is the perfect accompaniment without being to overpowering.

 

Chor Muang- Thai steamed dumplings ($24)

If there’s one dish with a ‘wow factor, it would definitely be the Thai steamed dumplings, which are beautifully handcrafted into flower shapes with ‘petals’ and half dyed in what we initially thought was food colouring, which we later learn to be made of natural colour. These dumplings are made fresh daily, and you can certainly taste the freshness in the soft delicate wrapper enveloping the light chicken filling.

 

Miang Kham – Betel leaf Entree ($14)

I’m also in love with the presentation of the betel leaves, and the winning combination of peanuts, coconut relish, smoked snowy mountain trout and flying fish roe. The betel leaf is edible- it is designed to encase the filling much like San Choi Bao- although I find the texture of the leaf to be quite different, and surprising just as I had imagined leaf to taste like!

Hoi Jor – Deep Fried Crispy rolls ($20)
 

These deep fried crispy rolls were an easy favourite. The rolls are made with tofu sheets rather than pastry, making for a very light and crispy shatter around the sweet and moreish chicken and crab filling. What’s not to love?

Banana blossom salad

Banana blossom has got to be one of the prettiest ingredients in Thai cuisine, and I love the way it is presented in Wild Ginger’s Banana Blossom Salad. It’s not just all appearance though- the combination of grilled scallops, tiger prawns in chilli jam, coconut cream, roasted coconut and fried shallots makes for an amazing salad like no other!

Choo Chee whole trout 

I’m a sucker for deep fried whole fish and this cripsy whole trout drizzled with red curry sauce, coconut cream, thai basil, kaffir lime and red chillies tasted every bit as good as it looked. The creamy red curry sauce was just the right consistency to pair with the succulent fish meat, keeping the crispy skin flavoured without making it soggy.

Prawn Pad thai

And for your more typical type of Thai fare, there’s always their ‘light’ menu which consists of your usualy suspects, including the very standard Prawn Pad Thai. Not quite as exciting as their other options, but delicious all the same.

Green papaya salad (foreground) and Pad cha seafood (background)

The Pad Cha Seafood is saucy and packed full of flavour, without being too heavy on the spice as I have found in other restaurants. The addition of Thai eggplant was certainly welcome amongst the mixture of seafood. In contrast, the green papaya salad is light (although by no means bland) and a complements the stronger flavours of the Pad Cha and Pad Thai beautifully.

Endeavour Tap Rooms

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After a couple of delicious cocktails, our last stop at Endeavour Tap Rooms was definitely one for the blokes. I’m not into beer myself so no comment on that, but it’s quite an amazing set up, with beers made on-site and multiple vats squeezed into this tiny space. Certainly not something you would expect in place like The Rocks!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to stay and enjoy the food and drinks but it certainly was an experience!

Wild Ginger + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Von attended as a guest of Cardinal Spin and The Rocks

In Asian, Dining, Restaurant on
March 24, 2017

Tawandang, Chatswood

I thought I had posted about Tawandang a couple of years ago but looking through my posts apparently not, so here we go!

If you’ve ever been to Chinatown, chances are you’ve probably walked past Tawandang although you might not have noticed it. It was pretty hard to miss for myself, as my bus stop was right across from the restaurant when it opened, but otherwise you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just your average Thai restaurant. It’s not until you read their menu and realise that it’s so typical afterall- offering not only some more traditional Thai dishes, but also their almost signature dish of German Pork Knuckle. How’s that for something different?

According to their own description, the German component of the restaurant comes from the fact that they are no only a restaurant, but also the first Thai – German micro-brewery in Thailand. I’m not too big on beers so no comment on the drinks, but the food alone is well worth the visit.

We walked past their newly opened Chatswood branch a week ago and would almost have missed it were it not for their big 3rd anniversary banner with their 50% off their pork knuckle dish offer. I was immediately sold and we wasted no time in making a booking…..two consecutive days in a row!

Going by the restaurant’s history, which makes up the first spread of their menu, the restaurant has been quite successful not only in Thailand, but also with its branches in Singapore and now two in Sydney. Whilst the Chatswood branch is not nearly as large as their Thailand branches (which apparently seat 2000+ diners!), but it does span across two levels and is much larger than it first appears. Make sure you ask for a seat upstairs, as it’s a lot more spacious and comfy!

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In Asian, Dining, Restaurant on
December 28, 2016

Holy Duck!, Kensington Street, Chippendale

If it were up to me to come up with a name for a new Modern Chinese restaurant with duck as the focus of the menu, ‘Duck Restaurant’ is probably the most exciting name I’d come up with. Luckily, Holy Duck! seems to have hired a much much more creative soul to name and create this fun and exciting newcomer to Kensington street’s growing food scene!

The creativity doesn’t stop at just the name either- just have a peek at their unique menu and you’ll see what I mean. Holy Duck! is the latest baby of Chef’s Gallery, and it brings some fresh new twists to Asian street food. And whilst I would have happily devoured my way through the menu through multiple visits, I was only too happy to accept and invitation to their VIP Preview night, where I could try a selection of their signature dishes in one go!

Roast Duck

As the name may suggest, the star of the show here is the duck- and more specifically- roast duck with menu items ranging from just plain roast duck to the classic peking duck pancake to duck burgers. And if the amount of duck is a little overwhelming, there’s also other some chicken and pork on offer too. Think classic Cantonese BBQ. But jazzed up.

Shoestring Fries 

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In Asian, Dining, Lunch, Restaurant on
September 11, 2016

Chef’s Gallery, Town Hall

If you have ever been to Town Hall, you would no doubt have walked past Chef’s Gallery. With it’s big glass windows showcasing the mastery of their well trained noodle chefs, it’s quite hard to miss, as they transform their pieces of dough into beautiful strands of noodles. There’s something particularly mesmerising about the process, the speed at which a thick piece of dough becomes elongated and multiplies right before your eyes.

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make noodles myself, so when the opportunity came up to attend a short noodle making masterclass with chefs at Chef’s Gallery, I didn’t hesitate to sign myself up.

To avoid the bustling crowds, visit in the morning just past opening and you’ll find yourself in a pretty quiet restaurant (it doesn’t take long for the restaurant to fill up though!). There are usually only a handful of seats by the kitchen where you can watch the action, however there’s no need to fight over a nice spot today, with the chef wheeling the cart over to pull his noodles right in front of us.

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