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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pho Pasteur, Parramatta

 Once upon a time Pho Pasteur (137 Church Street, Parramatta) was the place to go for some decent Vietnamese cuisine in Parramatta. My last memory of the restaurant was of high quality, flavoursome food without needing to dig deep into the bank, but having not been there for two years, a lot has changed since then. Located opposite Parramatta train station and along the bus interchange strip, Pho Pasteur is hard to miss, but in hindsight it probably would have been wiser to miss it altogether. Afterwards, we realised that going to the original Pho Pasteur around the corner would probably have been the smarter choice, but I've also had friends telling me otherwise.


 We grab our orders with the help of the picture menu and it looks really promising.
Picture Menu

Nuoc Mam, Beansprouts, Mint, Lemon & Chilli

 This is the large Pho Bo Special ($12.50) with all the usual suspects including; rare beef, beef balls, tendons and tripe. The broth is infused with meats and spices and I must admit, it smelt appetising with the steam hitting our faces. It's deceiving looks also covered the fact that there wasn't much in it either.  So much so, that there was a look of despair on Patty's face when she dug and dug attempting to find more noodles, but to no avail.

 With a few sprigs of mint and a quick squeeze of lemon juice, it was time to test the broth. It was pretty salty from the excessive MSG added and it just didn't feel heart warming. Every other component was average but for a 'large' serving size, the noodles must have slipped its way over the edge of the bowl as the waitress brought them out because we couldn't find any!

Pho Bo Special
Rare Beef, Beef Balls, Tendons, Tripe

  Scanning through the menu, it was hard to believe that they didn't serve 'com tam bi suon cha', unless I'm really that blind. The components being;
                                                Com Tam - broken rice
                                                Bi - shredded pork, roasted rice powder and garlic
                                                Suon Nuong - pork chop 
                                                Cha - steamed pork and egg custard
                                                Trung - sunny-side up fried egg
 Anyhow, I settled for the much less travelled Suon Nuong with Com Tam ($13.00) which just includes the broken rice with pork and for $13 it is anything but cheap. I opted for the fried pork rather than the usual grilled method and when it arrived at the table my smile turned upside down. Beside the take away box moulded tomato rice were 4 measly pieces of pork, were they serious? I began digging into my 'snack' with both the rice and pork being excessively dry and then came the strange bit. Maybe the waiter felt bad or saw the expression on my face as I received the meal, but he came to the table with an extra dish of 4 more pork strips. It didn't really help the cause though, because it was still unfortunately the same disappointing quality.
Suon Nuong
Veggies, Tomato Rice, (fried) Pork
 I guess it's hard to judge a restaurant on only a couple of dishes, but for Vietnamese cuisine, these two dishes are well sought after and are among the most popular everywhere you go. Possibly it was a bad day, or week, or month, but regardless Patty and I won't be back in the near future. To make things worse, they also forgot my order of lemon soda which I had to chase up afterwards as well. With Parramatta literally littered with eateries, I recommend grabbing a bite elsewhere unless you feel like being disappointed with below mediocre food.
Bunny Rating-
Category: Dining

Pho Pasteur on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sakae Yakiniku House, Eastwood

 Korean barbeque is just one of those things that you constantly have cravings for and Sakae Yakiniku House (1/6 Hillview Road, Eastwood) definitely satisfies those urges. It is theoretically a Japanese barbeque restaurant however it is Korean influenced and offers a variety of both cuisines. Opened a few years ago, this yakiniku house is tucked away upstairs, above the Eastwood Club and below a computer café located opposite Eastwood station.

Kitchen Area

 Patty and I have been here on many occasions with family and by ourselves for a delicious selection of meat and awesome sides. The buffet offers a huge variety of dishes including bibimbap and kimchi jijime (pancake), but who are we kidding? We're here for the meat!

 They also have their regular menu, containing everything that's in the buffet plus some extra dishes, but if you're thinking of having some barbeque, then all you can eat is the way to go.

 Pat is evidently overdressed for the occasion. As I'm sure most are aware, when Korean barbequing, it gets messy and smelly, but all in a good way! I'm in my customary loose 'Cairns' t-shirt which allows for my post barbeque meat baby.

Posers (Pre buffet confidence)

Dipping Salt and Sauce


I order the Sapporo, Pat tries Calpis for the first time in his life and Patty opts for the Green Tea.

Sapporo, Calpis, Japanese Green Tea
 We begin our epic meat adventure with the best tasting meat on the menu by far, wagyu rib fingers. This has become the staple of each visit we're here and it is honestly that good. The meat has a high fat content keeping it moist inside and when charred on the outside it gives of the most amazing taste.

 Generally whenever we're here, we order 6-8 servings of this dish at a time and during the process of cooking it, we get more to stock up. We do order a lot of meat on each occasion and so much so that on this occasion, the owner actually came to our table to tell us that we shouldn't order anymore wagyu fingers and try something else instead ... please, like that would happen. Once she left, we asked another waitress for more. We end the night with around 5 or more rounds of this, I seriously can't stress enough how good this meat is, I have dreams about it.

Wagyu Rib Fingers (M9+)

 The variety of meat available is extensive, the beef ribs are great and wagyu loin is juicy but it's barely comparable with the wagyu fingers.

Beef Ribs & Wagyu Beef Loin

 Tongue is flavoursome and a bit chewy and the wagyu brisket is not too bad either.

Wagyu Brisket & Tongue

 This was new to the menu, some fried chicken with a thick fried coating, similar to that of karaage chicken and served with some mayo on the side.

Fried Chicken

 Probably not the best choice to go for chicken, it's quite plain and wastes space on the grill because it takes too long to cook!

Chicken Thigh Fillets
 Beef yukke (or yukhoe), are slices of well seasoned and flavoured raw beef piled into a heap with an egg yolk on top. This is my second favourite behind the wagyu fingers and is a must try. Once mixed together, the beef is nice and tender with a subtle hit of soy and sesame.


Some green salad to accompany the meat.

Green Salad
 Naengmyeon (buckwheat noodles, sliced pear, radish, cucumber, egg and beef in an iced broth with a side of mustard paste) is also a great dish to have to refresh the palate after so much meat. The cold buckwheat noodles are delicious and it works so well with barbeque.

Mul Naengmyeon

 Bibim naengmyeon, is the spicier version without the icy broth. There is sweet chilli paste (gochujang) dolloped on top of the cold noodles. A good variation for the chilli lovers.

Bibim Naengmyeon

 To finish off proceedings, the standard buffet has a choice of normal vanilla ice cream or green tea soft serve. The deluxe buffet has a further two options of green tea and black sesame ice cream. The stand out by far is the green tea soft serve. It has a good hint of green tea flavour along with the characteristic creamy taste and texture of a soft serve. There is no better way to conclude a night of intense barbequing and yes ... we do order quite a few servings of green tea soft serve.

Green Tea Soft Serve

Get off my girlfriend Pat

 The website displays all the menus with photo images to accompany the description. The prices for the buffet are:

Standard Buffet:
43.80 (child 19)
Monday - Thursday 38.80 (excluding public holidays)

Deluxe Buffet:
52.80 (child 22)
Monday - Thursday 48.80 (excluding public holidays)
NOTE: the deluxe offers a few more varieties of meat and has a selection of sashimi too

 It may sound a little expensive because you can go to such places like Se Jong in Carlingford for roughly $10 cheaper but the quality and variety at Sakae Yakiniku House is much greater. If you prepare yourself during the day with minimal food consumption and come at night raring to get stuck in, it is definitely value for money as long as you order the right meats and not such things like rice dishes. There is unfortunately a time limit of 1.5 hours with the last order being placed 1 hour after you begin but from experience it's more than enough time. Most waiters and waitresses are good, however some are a bit hesitant when you order big servings. It's probably smart to be ruthless and make sure you get the amount of each dish that you want because sometimes they get a bit stingy and will 'forget' your order. You will also probably identify the owner who often snoops around monitoring how much you're eating, but it's a buffet, so don't get intimidated! I definitely recommend a visit to this place for the buffet range and somehow it always tastes better at night with a couple of drinks to wash it all down. Even if you order unlimited servings of wagyu rib fingers and then some green tea soft serve to finish off, I guarantee you won't leave dissatisfied. On Friday and Saturday nights ensure you make a booking unless you don't mind sitting outside in a covered area.

Bunny Rating-
Category: Dining

Sakae Yakiniku House on Urbanspoon

Opening Hours:

7 Days-
Lunch: 12pm - 3pm
Dinner: 5:30 till late

Contact No: 98742277

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Quay, Overseas Passenger Terminal The Rocks

 First of all, a big shout out to Andrew for the dinner as this was his present for Mum's birthday ... and some present it was! Quay (Level 3, Upper Level Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, Sydney) is a 3 hatted restaurant specialising in modern Australian cuisine. We managed to get a booking on a Friday night only 3 weeks prior to us dining there because we had a group of 5. Unfortunately for couples of 2 or groups of 4, there is a wait until October for Friday/Saturday nights.

 Being Sydney's best restaurant, the family was overly excited to dine here and with its glowing reputation in mind we went in with high expectations. Patty reasons that she has an affiliation with Peter Gilmore because he occasionally comes into Tastebuds for a coffee and fritters and in return she insists on visiting Quay to keep it even. It doesn't really match up ... but whatever helps her sleep at night.

Opera House


 We arrived via the lift entrance but you can also enter from the main entrance above.
Main Entrance
 Patty had called earlier to confirm the booking and to ask whether or not a dish or two could be substituted on the degustation menu, which we were kindly told was possible. We don't normally try change things on the menu but there were a couple of things on the a la carte menu that looked amazing.
 Once seated, we were greeted with a friendly waiter who reconfirmed that we could change dishes on the degustation as we pleased. On the recommendation of head chef Tim from Tastebuds, we wanted to substitute the pig cheek for pig jowl. Unfortunately a different waiter came to take our orders and as we told her of our changes to the menu she informed us that it wasn't possible.
 We were disappointed, but nevertheless we knew that whatever we were served, that it'd be exceptionally good.

Bar Area

Cocktail and Dinner Menus

 The drinks for the night; (Andrew and I elected for the matching wines which went down quite well with the courses)

A bubbly mixture of Mint, Guava & Lime

Virgin Pina Colada
served with a wedge of Pineapple

Aperol Sour
Aperol mixed with Lemon Juice, Gomme & Egg White
Maker's Deluxe
Maker's Mark Bourbon mixed with Pama Pomegranate Liquer,
served with Lemon Juice & Raspberries

 We began our tasting menu with a petit little glass containing a smooth goats curd accompanied with some fresh and simple flavours.

Amuse Bouche
Goats Curd, Capers, Tomato & Olive Oil

 Next, a triple layered congee with an egg yolk emulsion slipping over a rich seafood like broth that is filled with fresh crab and palm heart. Sunk to the bottom are delicate rice grains. Might not look like it, but this was a great dish.
Congee of Northern Australia Mud Crab
with Fresh Palm Heart, Egg Yolk Emulsion

 A lighter dish afterwards to compliment the heavier congee, the beetroot salad was a nice Summery dish. The goat's curd is frozen with liquid nitrogen and Peter Gilmore's signature edible flowers are presented on the plate too.

Salad of Albino & Chioggia Beetroots
with Preserved Wild Cherries, Goat's Curd,
Scorched Beet Leaves, Violets

 Looks simple on the plate, though the flavours are anything but. The yabby velvet has an intense flavour, a bit like a concentrated lobster bisque without the cream, so good. It was poured onto the dish after it had arrived on the table and the garlic scented custard created a tasty bed for the fresh tasting yabbies on top.
Red Claw Yabbies
with Garlic Scented Custard, Yabby Velvet

 I love my bread at places like these, though the options of rye and white bread available were really stale. On the up side, the butter was ridiculously smooth. Dad went a bit crazy with the butter.


Butter & Salt

 Soon after the bread break, the roasted goose arrived at our table and boy did that goose look delectable. Angled onto a mountain of forbidden rice which had a miso base flavour and radish. The rice became a bit dry by itself and it probably needed a sauce on the side and the radish didn't go very well either. However the goose was amazing and it's smoky flavour resounded through every bite.

Roasted Goose
with Forbidden Rice, Black Miso, Hatsuka Radish

 The dish that may not have been, but in the end it all worked out. A beautifully presented dish that we all deconstructed piece by piece starting with the incredibly tasty fried artichoke leaves that was full of flavour. Under the artichoke housing were shaved slabs of scallops and shiitake mushrooms sandwiched together. And finally the base, a smoked and confit pig cheek that feels like pork juice and butter all going into the mouth at once. This was my favourite, but I'm definitely still keen on trying the pig jowl next time!
Smoked & Confit Pig Cheek
with Shiitake, Shaved Scallops, Jerusalem Artichoke Leaves

 The interior of the restaurant wasn't the greatest and the bathroom needed a big refurbishment, I think everyone agrees with that. 

Reception Desk

 Tasted just like how it looks, like there were way too many things on the plate! It was actually a really nice dish but all of us got lost in what we were eating. The veal itself was really tasty and the black pudding was thick and full of flavour. I lost the wallaby tail in my plate but maybe it dissolved into the dish and we all thought that the bone marrow overpowered the dish.

Pasture Raised Veal
with Bitter Chocolate Black Pudding,
Green Walnuts, Slow Cooked Wallaby Tail,
Salsify, Smoked Bone Marrow, Chestnut Mushrooms

 Desserts ... wow! Both desserts were honestly amazing and a must try. First, the andalucia. A light, sugary, almondy matrix placed on top of a wonderfully textured mixture of nougat, orange lemon marmalade and a spoonful of roasted almond ice cream. I'm not the biggest fan of almonds but I can guarantee that with a bite of this dessert that it will win over any almond hater. A fruitful sour was balanced with the delicate sweetness of almonds and the nougat mixture felt like a party in my mouth, I couldn't get enough of it.

Citrus & Almonds

 Being highly publicised, the final dessert of the snow egg brought with it high expectations from around the table. I personally thought that it was overhyped and didn't feel that I'd be blown away but how wrong I was. The egg is encased with a maltose tuilles (toffee like) and dusted with sugar, allowing you to crack the egg with the edge of your spoon to dig into the insides. Like the whites of an egg, a delicate poached meringue encompasses the inner yolk which is the guava puree. Underneath the egg is a soft vanilla custard and making up the rest of the dessert is the guava granita. All the elements to this dessert were amazing and my favourite was actually the soft pillowy poached meringue. The best dessert I've ever had. The guava puree was creamy and had just the right amount of sweetness and sourness. Icy guava granita completed this dish off, giving a fruitful hit within every bite. Seconds anyone?

Guava Snow Egg

When it's Cracked Open

 We rounded off the meal with some petit fours and coffee/tea.


Petit Fours

White Tea

The Family

 Happy Birthday to Mum again. The family enjoyed some really wonderful food and had a great experience overall. Only a couple of negatives, but the majority of the dishes were really outstanding, especially dessert. Hopefully soon enough I'll be back to try the rest of the menu and be spoilt again.

Not a bad view from outside

Bunny Rating-
Category: Fine Dining

Quay on Urbanspoon