Monday, 29 April 2013

Wok On Inn, The Rocks (29th April 2013)

It has been many weeks since I started working from the office in the Circular Quay area yet when it comes to lunch, I often am at loss on where to go and then find myself returning to the same lunch spots week after week. Having my staple eating joints are great but I get bored at times and just want to try something new so I decided to go through the Entertainment Book and pulled out all the vouchers to food places within walking distance from my office. Hmm, how about Wok On Inn for lunch today?

About 12pm, I took a short stroll over to The Rocks Square where the noodle bar was located. Tucked at one corner of the square, Wok On Inn serves takeaway Asian meals made fresh on order. First, pick a style from the 8 regions in Asia (China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Mongolia or Indonesia), then choose a noodle type (egg, hokkien, rice, vermicelli, udon or rice sheet) or jasmine rice. Select a choice of star ingredient (vegetables, tofu, chicken, beef, prawn, seafood or combination), pay for your meal and voila, in less than 10 minutes, your number is called and takeaway ready for collection. Feel slightly overwhelmed by the choices? Then pick from one of the popular street food on the menu which includes pad thai and nasi goreng. You can't go wrong with a classic! They also serve sides, kids' size meals as well as soups (choice of laksa or wonton, both served with noodles). Service was speedy and hardly any queue during the lunchtime rush.

I went for their Special Nasi Goreng with Chicken which was part of their daily specials today. The lunch specials normally cost $9.95 but I got mine for $7.45 with the use of my 25% discount voucher from the Entertainment Book. The nasi goreng served here was the Indonesian version that combines sambal with kecap manis giving the fried rice its authentic flavour and tossed with egg, fresh vegetables and bite-size boneless chicken pieces. My takeaway container was filled to the brim, a generous serving enough for me to have two meals. There are communal seating areas in the square which caters for all diners from the food stalls in the vicinity so had my lunch at one of the nearby tables. The nasi goreng was mildly spiced with good flavour (you can add more sambal from the self-serve condiments available at the pick up area). Hmm, the food reminds me a lot of Noodle Canteen back in Wellington, a regular lunch spot back when I was working in Telecom NZ. With mains no more than $14, Wok On Inn is a pretty affordable place to come for a quick meal. 

Wok On Inn Noodle Bar at The Rocks

Special Nasi Goreng with Chicken ($9.95)

Wok on Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

If you've come by The Rocks Square between 12th April - 12th May, there is no way you can miss seeing the four-storey high The Rocks Windmill which was built for the 4-week season of workshops, performances, film and music. I took a quick visit into the modern day mill after lunch, having a look inside as well as making my way up the flight of stairs to the mezzanine that was hosting a free exhibition Milling About today, an exhibit of findings presented by The Lot on their residency project to 're-imagine' Cumberland Street South in The Rocks. I found out that one of the events held during the windmill season was the opportunity to pay homage to pardoned convict Robert Sidaway - in the last 18th century, Sidaway opened the colony's first theatre and allowed patrons to pay for entry with flour; every weekend during the windmill season, you can collect a bag of wheat at The Rocks Discovery Museum and grind it into your own flour in the windmill. How cool is that! Photo of the windmill:

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Mamak, Haymarket (27th April 2013)

After 3 hours of excitement on the BridgeClimb, it's time to get some food in the belly! Jono suggested we go to Mamak for dinner tonight so once we got changed and sorted out the souvenir photo purchases at the BridgeClimb centre, we walked to Wynyard train station and hopped on the next train to Central, followed by a short walk to the restaurant. It was around 8ish when we arrived and I was really hoping there wouldn't be a queue but no such luck :/ We chatted as we slowly shuffled along the line and some 20 minutes later finally got ourselves a table. Managed to skip the queue a little since there was just us two; some larger groups that were ahead of us were still waiting to get a table.

We had talked through want we wanted to have during our wait so it didn't take us long to order. Probably went slightly overboard tonight, getting ourselves a roti canai and ayam goreng each, and kajang panjang belacan and mee goreng to share, with drinks of teh tarik and teh halia for Jono and I respectively. Service was always very fast at Mamak and soon after we ordered, our table was filled with food :) It has been over a year since we last ate here and the food seemed a lot better than I remembered. Their roti canai (original plain roti that is crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside) is still by far the best roti I've had in Sydney. I've tried several other Malaysian restaurants in town but they somehow can't quite get this dish right - either the roti is too thick, or the curries that accompany it lacked flavour. Of the two curries and sambal that came with my roti, I loved the sambal most. It was spicy but strangely addictive and reminded me so much of the cuttlefish sambal we use to have for Malay rice breakfast back in Batu Pahat...

Since Jono's not a big fan of water spinach, we got the kajang panjang belacan (stir-fried long beans with chillies and shrimp paste) instead. The dish was laced with plenty of spice and garlic, and I can definitely taste and smell the shrimp paste. It was a sizeable serving for what I would have ordered as a side though it is served here as a main. My lips were burning from the heat of the spice and with each drink of my hot teh halia (teh tarik or "pulled milk tea" with a hint of ginger), it just further adds to the burn. Spicy but so delicious that I couldn't stop myself continuing this vicious cycle...The mee goreng too was fantastic, a generous serving of spicy wok-tossed hokkien noodles with eggs, prawns, fish cake slices and fresh bean sprouts served with a wedge of lime on the side for you to squeeze its juice over the dish. Mmm, I'm in food heaven! 

I was pretty full but we still haven't got the ayam goreng yet. "Yah, the ayam goreng takes more time, but it's coming," said the waiter in his Malaysian Chinese accent when I enquired. Frankly I was happy to tell him to cancel the order but before I could get his attention again, another waiter came by and plopped the two pieces of Malaysian-style fried chicken on our table. I'm not sure if it was because we were both feeling rather full thus didn't enjoy the chicken as much - though the menu states that the chicken is marinated with herbs and spices and is full of flavour, the chicken wasn't very flavoursome at all. The crispy skin was what seemed to hold all the flavour but once it was eaten, the meat was just plain. Everything else we've had so far had its own distinct flavour so in comparison, the ayam goreng did not really impress us. I vaguely remember having tried the chicken on one of my earlier visits and didn't think I liked it very much then. Still not a favourite now.

Roti canai ($5.50)

Kacang panjang belacan ($14)

Mee goreng ($12)

Ayam goreng ($4 per piece)

Cost us $51.50 all up for dinner and boy, I could hardly walk when we left - ate too much! 

Mamak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Wagamama - Bridge St, Sydney (11th April 2013)

My favourite dish at Wagamama is their Chilli Chicken Ramen but on a chance visit to the Bridge Street branch one day with my work colleague, I decided to try something different and went for their Pork Belly Ramen - this is now my new favourite dish!

Frankly, if one were to read the menu and look up what this dish is made of, you would think they got the noodles wrong. The dish name clearly has the word 'ramen' but in actual fact, the Pork Belly Ramen is a huge bowl of udon noodles in a clear soup, topped with grilled low cooked pork belly and seasonal greens, and garnished with bean sprouts, basil, chopped chillies, mint and coriander, and slivers of carrots. The fresh ingredients, combined with the thick and chewy udon, and those melt-in-your-mouth pork belly pieces  makes this flavoursome dish perfect for a cold autumn/winter's day (and makes my tummy happy...hehe...). Whenever I take a bite of the pork belly (fatty but SO delicious!), I'm reminded of the pork bun I had at Momofuku Seiobo...mmm... :)

The look and feel of the Bridge Street restaurant was similar to any other Wagamama branch - the colour scheme, Japanese ramen bar style seating, operating kitchen visible to diners, menu, how it works etc. However, I do find that despite the place was not particularly busy during lunchtime, service can be variable - in the occasions I've been there, the waitstaff would be very eager at the start to take your order but once you've been served your meal, you can hardly get their attention to get more water or even settle the bill. Cost $21.40 for my yummy lunch which was pretty steep - not something I'll have everyday but for the occasional splurge. 

Pork Belly Ramen ($21.40)

Wagamama Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato