The Lucky, Riverwood, Sydney West

For a special occasion we decided to try a local place we recently walked past when we were eating pho in Riverwood (Song Huong - great pho!) and noticed that it was pretty packed at dinner time.

On the outside it's a pretty unassuming Chinese restaurant but the popularity of it speaks for itself.
We rocked up early on a Friday evening to beat the crowds. Ordering was relatively easy but it definitely helps if you go with some Chinese speakers/readers as some dishes seemed to be on the Chinese menu only.

Along with the complimentary peanuts, we also received a complimentary soup which was pork bones and seaweed. Not everyone's cup of team but was tasty enough.

Peking style pork - sweet and sticky chunks of pork pieces with a few pieces of pineapple to add some tartness to the dish. The pork meat was a good balance of being not too fatty but not to lean also.

Medley of mushrooms and tofu - most tables seemed to be getting this dish which had a combination of a number of mushrooms including shiitake, oyster, porcini amongst others, but notably no enoki.

Deep fried barramundi cooked with bitter melon, chinese roast pork and bean curd. Quite a rustic Chinese dish with flavours that you would expect if you were in Asia. The roast pork pieces add that extra dimension on flavour.

The house special - a stir fried mixture of dried giant prawns, diced prawns, vegetable sprouts, bamboo shoots in an XO sauce. An awesome mix of flavours, quite heavy on the prawn taste with a hint of chili coming through from the sauce. The vegies had a refreshing crunch.

The Lucky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Castle Hill RSL, Castle Hill, Sydney West

Over in the North West part of Sydney, there is a pretty cool RSL club. Castle Hill RSL is a huge complex full of the usual pokies etc but also is next to an aquatic centre and has a pretty neat outdoor courtyard area with outdoor seating, tables and a very friendly kids play area.

Perfect for a large gathering as the place is very spacious. Food is served at the indoor counters or at the smokehouse (a dedicated restaurant which serves smoked meats) where you make your order and they give you a number and then deliver to your table. Tables are first in first serve as they don't take reservations for the courtyard.

Buttermilk fried chicken burger - $19.50 (non-member price) - crispy fries accompany a burger overflowing with fried chicken. The chicken had a nice batter and was served with lettuce and slaw mix.

Salt and pepper squid - $16.50 (non-member price) - lightly battered squids flash fried to retain a softness to the flesh. Side of homemade aoili.

Special of the day - Whole grilled barramundi - Usually I'm too lazy to eat whole fish, but this was an exception. Beautifully grilled to a crisp skin on the outside and moist flesh on the inside. You can choose 2 sides for this dish and we went for chips and steamed vegies - healthy ;)

Courtyard Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Song Huong, Riverwood, Sydney West

It was once possible to find a decent pho for $10 (or under) around Sydney. These days, places where you can find this Vietnamese staple for a tenner are few and far between. Lucky for us, there is still Song Huong out towards the West striving to push our hard earned $10 to the max.

On the main strip of Riverwood, a short stroll from the train station is where Song Huong is located. Decor is minimalist but fairly well kept however, the vibe is always buzzing with people chowing down on a variety of Vietnamese dishes at lunch and dinner times. 

Here the best value option is the $10 pho which is quite a large bowl with the usual accompaniments of bean sprouts, basil and lemon. The broth is moreish with the beef flavour shining through. The star of the dish I have to admit is the beef here. 

I find the consistency of the beef in pho varying in quality greatly between restaurants with some providing stringy offcuts, others served with frozen beef pieces which are still stuck together and barely warm up even when kept under the broth. Here the beef generous is serving, super fresh, sliced thinly cooking in a flash in the hot broth. It's no wonder this place is so popular with the locals.

Beef and beef ball noodle soup - $11 - For an extra $1, you can get the noodles with beef balls as well.

The hidden goods under the noodles - what was once rare beef, know cooked to perfection :D

Song Huong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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