Thursday, 30 May 2013

Sushi Tei - Chifley Square, Sydney (30th May 2013)

Sushi Tei is one of the Japanese restaurants in Sydney I would go to for their consistently good service and quality Japanese fare, though not as often as I would like as quality does come at a price. Having had a fairly stressful week at work, I decided to treat myself to a fancier lunch today and headed over to Sushi Tei branch located at Chifley Square just before noon. The place was already filling up with lunchtime patrons when I arrived, and with no booking and being a solo diner, I was placed at one corner of the sushi bar with other stray diners - it kind of felt like we were at the 'naughty corner', being put on time out for not booking in advance or bringing company :P

A quick flip through the super-sized menus and I was ready to order - I've not had unagi for ages so went for the Unagi Kabayaki Zen (grilled premium eel with rice) lunch set. Cost $28 and it took about 10 minutes before my meal was served. My god was it HUGE! Served in a large circular wooden tray lined with banana leaf, my lunch set came with a generous serving of grilled eel drenched in teriyaki sauce, a bowl of rice, edamame, a slice of tamago, a meatball and a small serving of fresh fruit. Also included in the set meal was a bowl of miso soup and a serving of fresh salad but they couldn't fit onto the tray so were served separately. Time to dig in! I started off with the miso soup, then worked my way through the sides and then my main course, the eel. Loved the edamame and I have no idea what was in the cold meatball but it was pretty tasty. The eel was exactly what I expected it to be, salty and sweet, the gooey sauce going nicely with the eel and rice. Mmm, so much food but SO GOOD!

Unagi Kabayaki Zen lunch set ($28)

View from my seat at the bar

Given my height and size, sitting at the bar did not turned out very comfortable in - my food was above elbow level making it a rather awkward position to eat in. Oh, and there was an American guy who was a total bully sitting just a few seats away from me. Baldie (nickname I'm giving the nameless guy for obvious reasons) ordered a tempura set meal and asked the waitress if it came with rice to which she said yes, but just before his meal was served, the waitress returned to inform him that rice was not included. "But it is in the menu!" said Baldie not once but several times, each time much louder and more menacing so much so the poor Asian girl backed away in fear. The manager having witnessed the whole scene told his staff to serve others while he personally gave Baldie his bowl of rice who just harrumphed and dismissed the manager. Frankly, the behaviour was uncalled for - he only had to tell the waitress once and point out that she did say his dish included rice on order. Seriously, do you really need to make such a fuss over a bowl of rice that probably cost less than $2?! Sheesh!

Sushi Tei Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Shenkin Kitchen, Enmore (11th May 2013)

Yet another Shenkin branch has popped up in our area - they are totally taking over the world, starting at Erskineville, then Newtown and now Enmore! Adrian was SO excited when he learnt they serve Belgian waffles in their new branch Shenkin Kitchen so rounded up a bunch of Googlers and their partners for breakfast at 9am today. A bit early for my liking for social Saturday breakfast/brunch but Jono and I had a full day of house hunting (again) so the time suited us just fine. 

It took us a good 20-minute walk from home to Shenkin Kitchen located on Enmore Road. Mary and Adrian were already there when we arrived, and we were shortly joined by Amanda and two other friends of Adrian's. Gee, Adrian must be really keen on the waffles to turn up before 9am to secure us a table :P 

Much like its sibling branches, a mix of Israeli/Middle Eastern food and Western fare including cakes and pastries make up their extensive menu. Service was friendly as usual and the atmosphere relaxed despite the small shop front was bustling with morning customers. The smell of freshly ground coffee fills the air - I can smell it from my seat...mmm...need coffee...One thing to note about Shenkin Kitchen is you need to be comfortable with sharing your personal space. For our group of 8, we were squashed up together and with the whole front section of the cafe filled with dine-in and takeaway customers, it does feel rather crammed. More seating can be found past the barista and through to the back courtyard. 

The shakshuka (similar to Mexican huevos rancheros) seems to be their specialty but given all the hype about the waffles in the past week, half of us at the table got the house Belgian waffles for breakfast. Hmm, ice cream with waffles for breakfast seemed a bit wrong but Jono and I got it anyway (though the others decided to go without the ice cream after we put in our order sheesh!). The other main we got to share was The Bite - I just had to try it, the idea of crumbed avocado intrigues me :)

Service was a bit slow today but to be expected since it was busy morning and we were quite a large group. Jono and I started off with flat whites, then dove straight in to our savoury dish, working our way to the waffle. The crumbed avocado was not quite what I thought it to be - I had pictured little crumbed avocado balls but this was a whole half of an avocado, crumbed on the outside but still has the soft avocado texture on the inside. The Bite was overall quite good and the serving size was just right (only one poached egg, a piece of toast and some panfried mushroom plus the avocado) for a light breakfast for one.

Jono and I had previously sampled the banana bread in Cafe Shenkin and the Belgian waffles distinctly reminded us of it making me wonder if the waffle mix was somewhat similar. I kind of expected fluffy waffles but it was quite dense and before you know it, I was feeling pretty full. Nice though not as hyped up to be. Perhaps instead of ice cream, they could offer warm butterscotch during the colder winter months - should go quite well with the waffles.

Staff busy at work in Shenkin Kitchen

The Bite ($12) - crumbed avocado served with a poached egg 
and pan fried mushrooms

House Belgian waffles with ice cream ($13.50)

Unfortunately we couldn't stay around long to catch up so bid the group goodbye around 10.15am and headed off to our first house viewing of the day. Cost $32.50 for our 2 flat whites and mains. Shenkin Kitchen totally has the Wellington cafe vibe, its quirky interior and decor, chilled out staff, great coffee and food, even playing songs from The Black Seeds. Makes me miss my old home Wellington very much...

Shenkin Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Bar Cupola, Sydney (9th May 2013)

It has been awhile since Nicki and I last caught up for lunch and often we would end up at her good old favourite Wagamama but decided to try somewhere else today (well, partly to help use up the vouchers in my Entertainment Book that expires 1st June!). From the voucher choices available, we settled for lunch at Bar Cupola located on the gallery level of Angel Place Office Tower, a short stroll from our office on Pitt Street.

An open-spaced restaurant with polished furnishing, this place felt rather business-like and formal - men and women in business suits where seen in serious conversations and quite frankly, I didn't feel we fitted in since we were there for a casual meal (it didn't help that Nicki was in jandals). Despite the lack of formal attire, we were welcomed by the maitre'd to an available table so obviously dress code didn't matter.

The lunch menu consisted of a good selection of food ranging from pasta to sandwiches and salads for those who prefer a lighter meal. I was happily surprised to see they also have an Asian fare section - I didn't think a modern Australian bistro would include Asian food but it turned out that the owner hails from Malaysia so dishes such as beef rendang and hainan chicken rice can be found on their menu. I had intended to get their Prawn & Calamari Linguine (the oil-based type pasta I like) but Nicki had her eye on it too so instead went for the Salt and Pepper Chicken, possibly a much better choice as it totally hit the spot :) Tender chicken strips covered in a crispy salt and pepper batter, hainan rice, side salad and sambal, and garnished with basil crisps and shallots...mmm, it was good! 

Salt and pepper chicken with crispy basil and shallots 
served with rice and side salad ($18.50)

Our bill amounted to about $30 (including the 25% discount we got from the Entertainment Book voucher) which was pretty good considering Nicki also had a glass of white wine. Definitely plan to come back again to try out their linguini and other Malaysian dishes :)

Bar Cupola Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato