Girls' night out with Amanda and Anna (9th November 2011)

With the boys still away in USA for their annual company offsite, the "Google widows" (as Jono calls it) decided to catch up for drinks and dinner this evening. Amanda, Anna and I (Natasha had other plans) met up outside the Castlereagh St entrance into Westfield Shopping Centre in the city after work around 5.30pm and headed up to Level 6 where Spiedo Restaurant & Bar was located. All 3 of us were subscribers of Time Out Sydney, an events magazine and website that sends weekly updates on what's happening in Sydney - occasionally on Wednesdays, they would send out a Time Out Shout where subscribers to the mailing list are entitled to free drinks and nibbles at the 'secret location' disclosed only on the day of the event. Yep, you guessed right - tonight's 'secret location' was Spiedo Restaurant & Bar!

I never knew there was a food court on Level 5 and fine dining restaurants on Level 6 in the shopping centre. Arriving at the top of the escalators on Level 6, we could see quite a crowd around this informal restaurant and bar. We beelined to the sign-in desk to hand in our email printouts (to proof you're a subscriber though they didn't really check and Amanda just gave them 3 copies of the same email she printed earlier) and was given 2 drink vouchers each which we could redeem for either a Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) or beers (choice of Little Creatures or White Rabbit). Amanda and I both went for the Prosecco while Anna had the White Rabbit beer. "Amanda! That's SO naughty!" I exclaimed when she flashed her drink vouchers at me - she still had two vouchers AND a wine in hand! The bartender was busy tending to the many people that have crowded the bar to redeem their drinks and forgotten to collect Amanda's drink voucher so she played dumb and walked away. "What? He didn't ask me to hand it over," said Amanda with a sly smile and I rolled my eyes and laughed.

We found ourselves seats at one of the high tables, sitting alongside other Time Out subscribers, mostly work folk who managed to get off work early for the event. Canapés were served while we sipped our drinks though we never seemed to get to sample any as they disappeared before the waitstaff even got to our table. The restaurant is owned by chef Alessandro Pavoni and specialises in northern Italian cuisine. I thought it was quite clever to use Time Out as a means to promote themselves and though they had to provide free drinks and canapés between 5 - 7pm (first-come-first-serve until the tab finishes), I'm sure some of the subscribers continued on into the evening, possibly even dining in-house. Will have to come back here to try out the food - they serve a Lombardian long lunch every Sunday that includes a pasta, 5-hour spit roast of the day and a dessert for $49 which I'm keen to sample. 5-hour spit roast? Sold!

Us girls returned to the bar to claim our second drink, this time beers all round and headed back to our table, continuing our chit-chat. There was an older couple sitting in front of us and were in the spirit of sharing the olives they had ordered with us. We ended up chatting with them for the rest of our time at the restaurant - Ron is an English businessman and his partner Mae is from Hong Kong. They split their time living both in Sydney and Hong Kong making it quite hard to get to know new people and Mae was very eager to befriend us girls, asking for our contact details 10 minutes into the conversation. A bit abrupt but I can understand where that's coming from - it really isn't easy to make friends in Sydney, even for me. It takes time to build new relationships and after living here for 8 months, I'm still working on building my social network (and I'm glad I know a few more people now!). We swapped contacts details - who knows where that might take us? Ron and I had a good yarn about life back in Malaysia and Singapore (he lived there for a few years) - food, culture, quirks - we reminisced about our experiences there and had several good laughs too.

Amanda, Anna and I left the restaurant around 7pm in search of a sushi place for dinner and ended up at 
Sushi Hotaru located on Level 1 of The Galeries. Similar to Ichi-ban Boshi, this restaurant has a number system where you would right down your name and number of guests on the sheet on the clipboard at the reception desk, tear the number chit next to your name and wait for your number to be called. The place was quite packed when we arrived with several others waiting outside the eatery for their turn. Some 15 minutes later, we finally got a table though I thought it was rather crammed (and we aren't even big girls). All plates were $3.30 this evening and there was a good selection of sushi from the long conveyor-belt. It was interesting to watch freshly made sushi go through this UV light as it exits the kitchen, apparently to kill germs (really??) before it continues on the conveyor-belt  to hungry patrons. What was really cool was that each table had an iPad mounted to the wall and you can select whatever you want from the menu and it'll be served to your table shortly. You can even call the waiter and ask for the bill using the touch screen! That's just awesome :) Cost us $56.50 all up for 16 plates of assorted sushi and tea which we thought was quite cheap.

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

We bid our goodbyes and headed home around 8.30pm. It was a nice evening spent with the girls and I look forward to more upcoming catch ups! I arrived home in time to catch Jono for a brief chat - I've not heard from over the last 2 days and it makes me so happy to talk to him, even if it's short. The poor guy had been working many late shifts and with the time difference, it makes it much harder for us to talk. Can't wait to see him on Sunday when he comes home - yay!


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