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The Rocks

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 Dining, Modern Australian on
July 14, 2013

Orient Hotel, The Rocks

The Orient Hotel was probably not the best option for a family dinner, being situated above a (quite noisy) bar, but I couldn’t resist buying a voucher for a 3 course meal as it was quite cheap at $99 for four. Luckily, the soundproofing in the restaurant was done pretty well, so despite the large party just outside the restaurant, we managed to enjoy a relatively peaceful meal!

Crumbed lamb’s brains, speck, sauce gribiche

I rarely ever eat Modern Australian, so I wanted to try pretty much everything on the menu, but ended up deciding on the lamb’s brains as I’d never tried them before. Their soft squishy texture was quite similar (to me at least!) to tofu, and they were cooked beautifully with a golden crispy crumbed exterior. The small pork cubes were also deep fried until incredibly crispy and were amazingly addictive, although it didn’t feel all too healthy as there were a lot more pork fat cubes than meat ones!

Smoked salmon, toasted brioche, celeriac remoulade
 
The salmon and toast was much less exciting, with the brioche tasting rather much like normal bread than what we’d expect of brioche. The smoked salmon was quite enjoyable, with a deep, rich smoky flavour whilst not being too salty. We prefer our smoked salmon a little more on the colder side, though that might be just us. 
Seared scallops, black pudding, cauliflower purée
The scallops are also cooked and presented beautifully- which got me pretty excited as I could finally take one of these typical scallop shots everyone has 😉 The insides of the scallops were quite soft, so we weren’t sure if they were a little undercooked but we liked the polenta, which was nice and soft and fluffy like mashed potatoes
Rock Oysters
The oysters come in a generous serving of 8 and are quite cute, sitting on a bed of salt. We do find them rather salty, though we couldn’t really point out the reason.
 
Lamb rump, caponata, broccolini, rosemary jus
 
The orders must have gotten mixed up at some point, as my lamb, which was supposed to be done medium, came out medium-rare- I don’t mind raw(ish) beef, but raw lamb isn’t exactly my thing, so tasty as it was (and it was pretty good!), I did feel a little uneasy eating it. The serving was quite substantial, as I really enjoyed the caponata- a tasty, soft cooked vegetable salad, though it was a lot more tomatoey than I’d expected.
 
Eye fillet steak (220g), broccolini, potato and bacon croquettes

 
Because of the mix-up, the steak came out much more cooked that we’d prefer, though we loved the tastiness of the meat and the contrasting textures of the cripsy grilled exterior and the meaty, chewier interior. The croquettes were delicious also, tasty enough to be eaten without sauce. We found the overall proportions for this dish to be rather small though, not quite enough to fill one person up.
 
Wagyu corned beef, carrot, kipfler, white onion sauce

 
We’re not quite sure what exactly corned beef is, as we’d thought it was that stuff in cans that we’ve always had but the ‘wagyu’ part of the name sounded too good to resist so we ordered it anyway. Turns out that corned beef isn’t really our thing, as we thought it tasted rather much like ham, just less salty.The potatoes and carrots were tasty and cooked nicely though!
John Dory fillet, burnt butter, capers, lemon, mash potato

 
And because we love our seafood, we couldn’t go past the grilled dory fillet which unfortunately was a bit of a let down as it was rather plain and bland though we loved the mashed potatoes, which are incredibly light and fluffy.
Chocolate fondant pudding with Brnady Anglaise
 
We’re not too fond of the wait for desserts, which take over half an hour to come out- it’s not that we’re in a rush or anything, but once we’ve started eating, we don’t really like stopping until we’ve reached the end……if you know what I’m talking about?The chocolate fondant is great though, cooked beautifully with a crispy exterior and warm melting interior- definitely our favourite dessert of the night and we’re glad we ordered two!

Passion fruit panna cotta, strawberry coulis

 
The panna cotta was smooth and creamy, and we finished it in no time as the flavours were very light and refreshing. 
Affogato – espresso coffee, ice cream and Frangelico 
A quick google search after the meal reveals that affogato is a drink, and I wish I’d known earlier as I was a little perplexed as to how to ‘eat’ this ‘dessert’. I did eventually figure out that it was probably easiest to pour everything onto the vanilla ice cream, though I found the espresso to be much to strong and bitter for me (as I’m not a coffee drinker) so I ended up having to fish out the remaining bits of vanilla ice cream……yes I’m a bit of a noob 😉 I really enjoyed the ice cream though, with specks of vanilla which misled us to thinking that it was cookies and cream for a second or two. Interestingly, the flavour didn’t really taste much like vanilla, though that might have been because I’ve never had ‘real’ vanilla ice cream before-but it was nice and really creamy!Upon leaving, the strange stares by the bouncers (which pretty much say ‘how on earth did they get in?’) make us realise that it’s probably a good thing we came relatively early as my sister probably would not have been allowed in had there been bouncers when we arrived!

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