Random snaps

Apologies for the lack of proper post this week! Work has been eating me alive so that I'm just a wrung-out dish rag by the time I finally get home.

So this is just a mishmash post of some random food!



Grilled salmon, tuna and kingfish from Kagaya at Hurstville. This looks a lot better than it tasted. It wasn't melt in mouth and had been flamed just a little bit too long.



Chicken laksa from Happy Chef in Hunter Connection. This was yum! I used to get laksa from the Happy Chef in Market City all the time when I was still at uni and this tastes exactly the same. The only downside is that it's a small store with limited seating and gets busy during lunchtime.



Jasmine pearl milk tea from Chatime. This was okay. I like how they offer upfront the choice of no ice/half ice and half sugar. I got no ice and normal sugar but if I got it again, I would probably get half sugar because it was a bit too sweet.



Green tea ice cream from Baskin Robbins. Yum! Spot on matcha flavour.



Packet of snow pea crisps from the asian grocery. They looked so cool on the packaging!



And then the reality. They tasted like those JJ snacks and were light, powdery. Would not repurchase.
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Taste of Shanghai, World Square

It has been a while since I have visited Ashfield for some Xiao Long Baos and one Saturday when I was in the city, it suddenly became a craving. Want xiao long baos now!

I was with my friend Moose and he told me that there was a (relatively) new Shanghai place in World Square that was the same as one of the Ashfield places. We decided to go check it out.

Of course, World Square already has the famous Din Tai Fung. I've only been to Din Tai Fung once and although it was great, I knew that I couldn't afford to go there on a regular basis. *tear* Hence why I started venturing to Ashfield for the dumpling fix.

Taste of Shanghai is located on the underground level of World Square, next to the two dollar store. It is fairly large with spacious seating and we were quickly seated by an eager staff member lurking near the entrance.

View from our table out into the shops


Inside the restaurant




Complimentary tea and menus were brought out to us as soon as we sat down.

Tea


Glossy-paged menu with extra large pictures


I flicked through the menu and saw lots of interesting choices but we decided to stay with what we had already planned to order.

There were a number of staff members wandering around the floor and I automatically assumed that this would mean good service. However, I was surprised when our xiao long baos came out - the waiter just plonked them in the middle of our table without even bothering to unstack the two tiers!

So we unstacked them ourselves to reveal the two types of dumplings that we ordered - pork and crab meat.

Shanghai steamed mini pork buns ($8.80 for 8)


Steamed mini pork buns with crab meat flavour ($10.80 for 8)


As you can see, the prices of the dumplings are only a dollar or two higher than those available in Ashfield. They were delicious. None of them had burst during transit and the hot soup flowed into the mouth after biting into them. Both the pork and the 'crab meat flavour' (as per menu description!) were great.

There were only two of us so we had 8 dumplings each, I was feeling full after devouring my share. Still, there was one more dish that I always have to have and it rounded out our tri

Shanghai pan-fried pork buns ($9.80 for 8)


These had been pan-fried for just a little bit too long as the bottom had turned black and had a burnt flavour.


Despite this, they still tasted good. Each bun had a decent serving of hot soup in the middle and they were toasty hot.

I'll definitely revisit the next time that a xiao long bao craving hits while I'm in the city!


Taste of Shanghai on Urbanspoon
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The Argyle, the Rocks

One sunny Friday, not too long ago, a colleague and I went for a walk during lunchtime in search of somewhere that had some seating in the sunshine.

Somehow, we ended up all the way over at the Argyle! It does have a great open-air courtyard but we hadn't intended to walk that far.

In any case, we were there and hungry.


The menu is fairly standard. It consists mainly of pub-style dishes with a fancy twist added - meaning, of course, that the price is a little higher than your normal pub dishes.

There weren't that many people there, and our food came out quickly.


Club sandwich ($18)

Toasted triple decker with chicken thigh, lettuce, tomato, bacon and our Chef's secret sauce served with French fries




My colleague ordered the club sandwich and while it was a generous serving, it didn't seem particularly special

Wagyu beef burger ($18)

Char-grilled 200g Wagyu burger, lettuce, tomato & all the trimmings served with wedges


I ordered the Wagyu beef burger and it was also nice, in a plain kind of way. There was an unusual addition though.




Check out that fuschia coloured sauce! I think it was a substitute/new fangled way of having beetroot with a beef burger. There was another small twist of deep fried onions. On a whole, the burger was satisfying but not note-worthy.

Where are your favourite places for a lazy Friday lunch?


The Argyle on Urbanspoon
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Quay - for the Snow Egg!

If you were one of the 3.96 million Australians who watched the Masterchef finale, then you know about the Snow Egg. It was the last round of the finale where Adam and Callum had to recreate Peter Gilmore's dessert.

My curiosity had been aroused after watching the finale and I was delighted to discover that Quay's three course lunch is actually quite reasonably priced (in my opinion). It is $75 for 2 courses, or $95 for 3 courses. Of course, the Snow Egg is one of the dessert options.

So we made a booking for a weekday lunch - absolutely decadent for a lunchtime during work hours!

For those who don't know about Quay, it is a 3-hat restaurant located at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay. It has been awarded 3 hats for eight years in a row! It has also won Restaurant of the Year numerous times and even places on world restaurant rankings.

Suffice to say, I was super excited and made sure to charge my camera batteries in preparation for some snow egg photos.

The weather was beautiful and we were seated on the upper floor of Quay where an amazing view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House awaited us.

View of the Opera House



View of the Harbour Bridge (and my drink)



The menu was placed in front of us and we pretended to peruse it as though we hadn't already decided two days ago what we wanted.



Complimentary bread and butter were brought out and the bread was generously re-offered throughout the meal.





I was charmed by the placing of the knives, blade down on the table.



The first item to come out was the amuse bouche.

Tuna tartare with horseradish cream


Aerial view


The flavours packed into this small glass were amazing. It was a great start to the meal.

For my entree, I had decided to have the sea pearls. After seeing so many photos of the sea pearls, I knew what they would look like and they did not disappoint.

Sea Pearls
L-R: crab, octopus (the little white balls are egg-white!), scallop, tuna sashimi



Each sea pearl had a different filling. Here is an example of what was inside the mud crab pearl. It was covered with tiny tapioca pearls.



My colleague ordered the mud crab congee.

Mud crab congee
Hand-shelled mud crab, palm hearts, Chinese inspired split rice porridge



She said that it tasted delicious.

We had ordered a side of potato puree. When it came out, I couldn't help but admire how it had been artfully spooned into the bowl.

Potato puree (additional $12)


The potato puree was deliciously buttery and silky smooth.


For my choice of main, I was previously undecided between the fish or duck. Fish or duck. Duck or fish. Ah, the tough choices we have to make in life....

Since I often lean towards meat, I chose to swing against the grain (is that a saying? Or did I just make that up....) and went for the fish.

Roasted Yamba Mulloway
smoked butter and celeraic cream, green garlic, fennel, leeks, young greens


The dish with an addition of potato puree



The fish was lovely and soft, falling apart with a slight press of my fork.

However, my colleague went for the duck, and after having a taste - I think I made the wrong choice.

Crisp pressed duck confit
winter melon, hasuimo, garlic chive buds, sea scallops, duck juices


Because the duck was AMAZING! The meat was piping hot and fatty. I didn't try a scallop but she assured me that they were cooked perfectly. I wanted more bites but had to restrain myself to finishing my fish.

There was a slight lull in the meal while the staff cleared the table of crumbs. Throughout the lunch, we had noticed numerous snow eggs coming out and were anxious to try the famous dessert ourselves.

We had strategised beforehand - only one of us would order the Snow Egg so that we could taste another dessert as well.

Note: the Snow Egg on the menu was different from the one made on Masterchef! Instead of a guava and custard apple snow egg, it was a jackfruit snow egg on offer. :(

Anyway, without further adieu.....I reveal the Snow Egg!

Jackfruit snow egg





My colleague leaned forward in anticipation as I lowered my fork to crack into the egg. And yes, it did make a satisfying crack!

The inside of the egg


How did it taste? I am reluctant to say this but I always write what I genuinely think about the food so - I wasn't blown away. I wouldn't order it again. The Snow Egg was beautifully presented and makes for pretty photos, but it wasn't to my taste.

It was too sweet. The tuile which forms the protective bubble sticks to your teeth with every mouthful (although some people might like that!). Maybe it was the fact that it was jackfruit? I've never tasted jackfruit before, and the flavour in the Snow Egg was slightly bitter.


Eight texture chocolate cake



This was the other dessert that we selected off the menu. Isn't it pretty? The waiter poured on the liquid dark chocolate that's on the top of the cake after he set it down on the table.

The cake was unbelievably chocolate-y. Exactly as you would expect from an 8-textured chocolate cake! Definitely made for sharing - or it could be polished off alone by the diehard chocoholics out there. Very more-ish indeed.

All in all, Quay was a great experience. Service was impeccable and the harbour views were amazing. I am tempted to go back again - just so that I can have the pressed duck confit for myself!



Quay on Urbanspoon
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High Tea at Sofitel Wentworth Lounge

It's that time again.....time for high tea! Yay!

Goodness knows, I love myself a good high tea. It is a great way to unwind and relax on the weekend. Perusing the tea menu, choosing which tea you want, lounging around to eat the tiny treats....simply wonderful.

High tea on this particular Saturday afternoon was at the Sofitel Wentworth Lounge. It was a spontaneous trip and we arrived at 4pm without a booking. High tea is served here until 5pm so the server checked whether we could still have it - the answer was yes - so we were soon seated.


The lounge is nicer than I expected. It has a variety of seating available, including some armchairs that looked quite comfortable. We chose to sit near the window and I took the seat lined against the wall which wasn't nearly as comfortable as it looked.

The lounge is decorated in soft, muted tones and immediately we begin to relax.


Each table had a small tealight candle holder and as the sky turned to dusk outside, the candles were lit by a waitress.

The candlelight holder - pre-lighting up





The tea selection isn't as large as other high teas - there are two short pages of black and herbal teas. I choose Assam, which was described as having a malty flavour. Unfortunately I couldn't taste this maltiness in the tea!

The teapot also could have been better. The waitress carried it out with small napkins wrapped around the handle. We quickly figured out why - it was because the entire teapot was burning hot because it was metal! This made for awkward pouring as we tried to adjust our teapot-handing so that our fingers didn't accidentally brush against the pot.


I love sugar cubes but even just one of these made the tea exceedingly sweet.


The Assam tea before I added milk


A point in the Softitel's favour - iced water was brought out to us without having to ask.


Almost immediately after the tea and water were brought out, our tier arrived! Perfect timing.




Our low table was a bit small so it was difficult to take the plates out of the tier stand for photos. Hence the shadows. Sorry! I was also feeling incredibly hungry this afternoon and didn't take the time for individual food photos, only by tier.

Let's start from the bottom

Savouries :


This tier consisted of:

Chicken, Preserved Lemon and Almond Sandwich - delicious.

Smoked Tasmanian Salmon, Rocket and Fried Caper on Brioche - the bite sized brioche had a small mountain of smoked salmon on top. I thought this was very generous considering that some high teas seem to think that only tiny portions are permitted.

Goat’s Cheese and Mushroom Profiteroles - also delicious. Biting into the profiteroles to find the savoury filling was a pleasant surprise. I think these, and the chicken lemon almond sandwiches were my favourites from the savoury tier.

Aged Brie, Cranberry and Cucumber on Mini Baguette - this was a nice spin on the usual cucumber sandwich that you find at high tea.

Photo of the goat's cheese profiteroles and smoked salmon brioche with the chicken sandwiches in the background



And then the scones, a necessity for any high tea.


Not the best scones that I've had, but not the worst either. You received two plain scones, and two raisin scones. The cream and jam came in little sauce dishes - I've realised that I much prefer when these condiments come out in small ramekins, like at Lilianfels. It makes for easier slathering!

And lastly, the sweets:

From left to right:
Almond macarons, chocolate eclairs, Raspberry Opera Slice, Wentworth cheese cake, Peach meringue tarts


On this tier:

Raspberry Opera Slice
Chocolate pastry with layers of almond biscuit, raspberry ganache, soaked with framboise
liqueur, garnished with fresh raspberries


The Rasberry Opera Slice was very, very sweet. They are the cubes on the right hand side of the picture that are topped with a raspberry. It reminded me of the limited edition Tim Tams in Raspberry Love Potion flavour! Unfortunately this was too sweet for even my sweet tooth and I left most of mine untouched.

Pistachio Macarons
Soft almond meringue infused with pistachio oil, filled with pistachio ganache

The almond flavour of the macarons was quite strong and overpowered the pistachio flavour.

Wentworth Cheese Cake
The original recipe since the inceptions of Afternoon Tea at the Wentworth. A light jocund
pastry layered with cream and cream cheese


This cheese cake was lovely. At first my friend didn't think that it was a cheesecake because of the light sponge-like cake that sandwiched the cream cheese. She didn't like it, but I did.

Chocolate Éclairs
Freshly baked choux pastry filled with Belgium chocolate mousse, glazed with dark chocolate

The chocolate eclairs were nice but not outstanding.

Peach Meringue Tart
Sweet tartlets filled with white peach curd, topped with scorched meringue

I was SO excited when the waiter announced the peach meringue tart. What a great twist on the traditional lemon meringue tart! This was actually the first treat that I took from the dessert tier because I was so eager to try it and they looked so cute with their perfect meringue tops.

And then...noooooo. They were all wrong! Neither of us could taste the peach flavour. The meringue was a soft meringue and then the bottom had an orange coloured filling, with a strange 'a bit harder than mush' texture. It tasted a bit soapy. Quite odd.



Would I go back to the Wentworth for high tea again? I thought the savouries were outstanding but although the sweets look divine (10/10 for presentation), the taste was a let down.

I don't think I've done a review of high tea at the Stamford Circular Quay before but at the moment, it's ranking as my favourite Sydney high tea : )



Sofitel Wentworth on Urbanspoon
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