Minggu, 08 November 2015

Los Vida, Crows Nest

I had a really fun night at Los Vida. Is this photo strangely scary but endearing?

Los Vida is fast expanding in Sydney with restaurants in Sydney CBD in Westfield, Crows Nest, Barangeroo, and Wintergarden (Sydney CBD, O'Connell St). 
I dropped by the Crows Nest Los Vida for dinner and a celebration of the Day of the Dead festival. Los Vida in Crows Nest has great atmosphere and on the 31st October, there were face-painters and fairy lights added to this fun and carefree spot. 

The Crows Nest version has three levels and is beautifully decorated. For dinner, we had a huge Dia de Muertos feast. So many food comas!

The cocktail above was to die for and named a mezcal morelos ($17); a special smokey mezcal with candied orange on top; it was a special on the night but perhaps if you asked nicely they might be able to accommodate. I loved it. To start I had the Guacamole with Totopos ($12, below) which included a range of corn chips including fried green chilies and guac which had lovely pomegranate seeds which made dip refreshing. If you're in a group, this is a nice entree to share along with the nachos (if this is a staple favourite of yours - otherwise save some stomach room for the other dishes).

The above tequenos ($12 for 3 pieces) are crumbed cheese sticks which is served with a chipotle sauce. The tequenos is a nice dish and unique - I haven't seen this one on any other mexican restaurants. I'd recommend this one!!

The Famous Fish Taco (above $5) was delicious, not sparing on the fillings with a beautifully light and crumbly battered barramundi, chipotle mayo, and jalapeños adding a bit of a zing – this one was recommended to us, and we agree it’s a must try! The other tacos will range from $5 to $8 and another favourite was also the octopus and chorizo taco.

There's also the Hibiscus Flower Flautas ($14) which has a crunchy coaching topped with cheese and encases hibiscus flowers and tasty cheese. Check this one out if you want a bit of crunch.

The chorizo quesadillas ($13 below) were absolutely inhaled and barely touched the sides. Everyone has a staple favourite and this has to be one of mine. The tortillas for these were fluffy and had a toasty consistency, which went nicely alongside the fire of the chorizo! I also like the Watermelon salad ($12) was a great healthier option with prosciutto, rocket and cheese. This had a blend of sour and salty flavours, which the watermelon helps to balance out. A great side to complement all the tacos and meat!

The Tuna Ceviche ($13 for two, above) is a traditional ceviche with a light lemon zest. This raw, ‘lemon cooked’ dish is like sashimi on a taco for the uninitiated - so if you like your seafood, give this a go! We also tried the Scallop Ceviche which was peppery and fresh with coriander and chilli notes but the tuna is my favourite.

Dessert definitely catered for the chocoholics here. The chocolate tequeno’s were a sweet little treat without being too chocolately (wait, does that even exist?), though at $12 (below) for three are a bit expensive, depending on your chocolate habit!
We also tried the Tamal de Chocolate which had intense marzipan flavours and the softest bread texture. A traditional ’Day of the Dead dish, this one needs a more mature palette to enjoy with its dark flavours.
Overall Los Vida was a nice restaurant, with lively atmosphere, but being split level, it wasn’t too noisy and we didn’t have to shout over each other so perfect for a big group of friends to have dinner. The service was very hip and friendly. All the food came out quickly and all together so I suggest if you prefer food to be timed then let the staff know. Check it out!

Weekendfoodescapes by Lisa dined as guests of Los Vida. Thanks for looking after us. All photos, words and opinions are my own. This blog post was contributed by Christina. Thanks to Octavio and Ulysses for being super nice as well :)

Los Vida Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Sabtu, 07 November 2015

Riverview Hotel, Balmain

The Riverview Hotel is very popular with the locals for a few drinks, food and atmosphere. For a taste of posh as well, you can opt to dine in their restaurant upstairs.
As I enter the Riverview Hotel, the pub downstairs is buzzing full of locals for a sneaky drink on a Sunday night. On this Sunday night, I decide to check out their restaurant for a slightly more posh experience. As I enter upstairs, I see giant cutlery on the wall which makes me giggle. Foodies get a kick out of random things.

The restaurant upstairs is quite dark and intimate, perfect for a date. For entree, I ordered the Zucchini Flowers ($17) with smoked ricotta, pepper relish and olive crumble. The Zucchini Flowers are served in a portion of 2 for the entree and have many different levels of textures. I especially enjoyed the olive crumble which provided that extra hard crunch which contrasts well with the ricotta and the soft crumbed Zucchini flower.

For main, I ordered the Sunday Roast. FYI - I visited the Riverview Hotel towards the end of winter so this meal is not on their Spring menu. The Sunday Roast was a nice warm meal on a Sunday night with your traditional yorkshire pudding, roast beef, potatoes, peas, pumpkin spread and cranberry sauce. There is also a touch of gravy to add to the moisture. It looks a bit more posh but not as generous compared to the Our Place on Darling version of the Sunday Roast. 

I also had the Palmer Island Mulloway with sweet corn puree, basil gnocchi, peas and king crab (below, $33). I loved the basil gnocchi and thought this complemented the fish very well. A very executed dish with lots of textures, tastes and enough sauce!

For dessert, I had the rhubarb crumble (deconstructed with ice cream). It was nice and warm with lots of textures but I was hoping for the experience where you initially bite into something hard and get pleasantly surprised with the hot filling like you would with a traditional rhuburb crumble or apple pie. The deconstruction of the rhubarb crumble was still nice but it just didn't hit the spot.

The bread and butter pudding was similarly served up with a modern twist. I poured the custard over the buttered bread. A simple twist on the traditional bread and butter pudding but I wanted the original!

Prices: This one is in the entertainment book so bring your voucher. $80ish per person

Location: 29 Birchgrove rd, Balmain

Summary: Lisa's Rating: 
Food: 7/10 for a bit posh dining
Customer Service: 7/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value: 7/10

Riverview Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Jumat, 06 November 2015

Monkey King Thai, Newport

The locals are loving Monkey King Thai in Newport. High quality thai awaits for you including the soft shell crab above.
Monkey King Thai in Newport is located a few minutes away from the beach. The owners have had decades in running restaurants across Sydney so I had high expectations. There's an array of Thai and Asian-fusion dishes along with a stand alone bar and wine menu (including some on-tap beers). I came here with three friends so we ordered lots of food. 
There's a lunch special but I strongly encourage you to check out their full menu. To start off I order the Crispy Soft Shell Crab (Top Photo, $10.90). It's a soft shell crab with the thinnest of batters and moist flesh makes this a stand out entree, something to savour for the flavour. It's light as a cloud. A definite recommend. A favourite is also the satay chicken below ($8.90). It's more of a chup-a-chups bite sized stick with a nice thin peanut sauce containing lots of crushed peanuts chunks.

My favourite entree is the Piggy Puffs (Below, $7.90). This is the P Diddy of the curry puff world because the puffs are stars with a light filling. The portion of pork mince encased in a puffy pastry knocks all the other curry puffs . They are delicious and absolute perfection. I agree that this is a MUST try entree. 

An Asian Fusion dish is the steamed dumplings ($7.90, above) which is a sweet shiu mai with a bit of light garlic.  It's a nice dish but not really thai, although perhaps the locals want a bit of fusion. For a snack I quite enjoyed the prawn crackers ($5.90, below) with chilli jam; crunchy brown crackers with a smokey chili jam that has some prawn paste. It's a pringles effect. 

I always order the chicken pad thai (above, $15.90) as it's my favourite. This one is better than most as the ingredients taste fresh and like a good pasta, the noodles are cooked al dente so they don't fall apart when handled and retain a bit of satisfying chewiness. I'd recomment this dish.

The staff also suggested the Pla lard prik ($31.90) which is a fried barramundi; accompanied with fried basil. The sauce is a sweet chili with tamarind. I'd suggest this main with some rice and to share.

Another staple for many is the Massaman curry. I tried the massaman curry with lamb cutlets ($22.90, above); I’m a fan of lamb cutlets so I enjoyed this dish, well marinated and the curry is creamy and sweet.

The highlight and favourite main is the Crispy Pork Belly with Chinese Broccoli (below, $18.90). It's called the Pad Kana Moo Grob on the menu. THIS IS A MUST TRY! Its cooked so it melts in your mouth and finished off with a stir fry making all surfaces crispy and sweet, it will give you a such a big mouth-gasm you won’t care if it makes you fat – of course there is some Chinese broccoli to make you feel healthier after all the pork belly is gone.

For dessert, check out the Monkey love (above) which is green tea ice cream with a baked banana wrapped in pastry. The other option is the Black Rice Pudding which some custard jelly, a hint of creamy sauce (coconut/condensed milk), and sticky rice that’s not cooked to buggery and I’m in heaven. The group is split and half prefer monkey love and the other prefer the black rice pudding.

Overall, Monkey King Thai is a Thai-fusion restaurant with some stand out dishes. I strongly recommend the Puffy Pigs, Pork Belly and some of the Thai staples. In good weather, you could make it part of a beach day getaway.

Prices: $40 per person

Location: 335 Barrenjoey Rd, Newport NSW 2106
This was the first official outing of a Weekend Food Escapes team comprising an awesome foursome on a pilgrimage north of the harbour. Thanks to Monkey King Thai for the invitation and looking after us. Thanks to Hai for taking the lead on this blog post.
Weekendfoodescapes dined as guests of Monkey King Thai.
Monkey King Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Rabu, 04 November 2015

West Ryde Woodfire, West Ryde

West Ryde Woodfire has a woodfire oven so I had to order a pizza!
By West Ryde Station is a small cluster of eateries that have recently opened up. West Ryde Woodfire has a large wood fire oven (hence the name) so while they have pasta and other mains on the menu, I often walk by and notice lots of pizza orders.

I came by on a quiet weeknight and ordered the West Ryde Special Pizza ($19, above). I also ordered the Garlic Bread ($4.5). The bread was nice and buttery.The Supreme seems to be the same as the West Ryde Special which had pepperoni, ham, mushrooms, capsicum, garlic and oregano.  

The dough was thick and bread like - and very tasty fresh from the pizza oven. The toppings were pepperoni heavy with smaller portions of the other ingredients but still very tasty. The pizza was topped with cheese similar to the pizzas at many Turkish/Lebanese kebab shops. 

The pizza was very delicious so I'd definitely come back. 

Prices: $20-30 per person

Location: 10 West Parade, West Ryde

Summary: Lisa's Rating: 
Food: 7/10 for casual dining
Customer Service: 7/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value: 7/10

West Ryde Woodfire Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Senin, 02 November 2015

Phamous Vietnamese Restaurant, Bankstown

Phamous Vietnamese Restaurant is one of many of Bankstown's Vietnamese Eateries.
Pham is the 4th most common Surname in Vietnam and there is nice play on words at Phamous Vietnamese Restaurant. My family and I had a nice cheap and cheerful meal here recently.  It's a casual eatery located near the main strip of Bankstown.

The pork chop with egg on top of the rice (above, $10.90) with a side of shreaded pork, tomato and tofu cake is the first meal to be delivered to the table. This a regular order for one of my family members.  The pork is tasty and he enjoys all the textures and side components of the meal.

My mum always orders the Braised Duck Noodle Soup with mushrooms (below, $12.90). She really enjoys the flavoursome moist duck and the portions of the duck.

The spring roll with vermicelli noodles and salad is usually one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes. It's a nice light meal with the vermicelli and salad with a little bit of naughty crunchy spring roles. There is a considerable amount of salad under all the noodles which make the meal quite light.

On this day, I ordered the Pho Tai which is the noodle soup with rare beef (below, $9.90). The broth is flavoursome and all your normal trimmings of spring onion, thinly spiced onion, thai basil, bean sprouts. The pho was nice and a decent portion.

Overall, a nice experience in Bankstown. There is a decent amount of variety on the menu. I think it's on par with Gia Hoi in Bankstown and Thy Vietnamese Eatery. Similar to other Vietnamese eateries, tea is complimentary which I love. I'd recommend this eatery if you are in the area

Summary: Lisa's Rating: 
Food: 7/10 for casual dining
Customer Service: 7/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Value: 9/10

Com Tam Van Phat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Minggu, 01 November 2015

Wahroonga Food and Wine Festival, 2015

The Wahroonga Food and Wine Festival was held in the picturesque and leafy Wahroonga Park on 25th October 2015, from 11am to 5pm. The locals and foodies alike were basking in the sun enjoying all the culinary delights. The festival is free entry and celebrates NSW wineries (130 wines from 30 wineries).

The highlight for this year’s festival was the Swift Sparkling and Oyster Bar. On offer were freshly shucked Signature Sydney Rock Oysters grown by Master Oyster Farmer, Ewan McAsh. The oysters were served and were bit softer and less salty than a typical Sydney Rock oyster due to the recent rain in the region.

Also from McAsh’s farm on the South Coast of NSW were Pacific Oysters. Wow, these guys were big boys (below)! I almost needed a knife and fork to eat them. They were sweet and of incredible quality. Worth going back for seconds!
The oysters were perfectly paired with Swift Sparkling’s Non-Vintage Cuvee. Produced by Printhee in the Orange region, this Pinor Noir/Chardonnay was beautifully light with a fine bead and hints of citrus and strawberry. Perfect for a warm Sunday drink! Also on offer was the Swift Vintage 2010, a richer, slightly more acidic sparkling, with a bit more complexity and red fruit notes. The Non-Vintage was a clear winner on the hot day though!

Next stop was Two Furlongs Winery, from Mudgee, NSW, for a very entertaining wine and port tasting from the owner, Johnnie. Amongst the offerings was a gorgeous and light Tache Cuvée, which despite being a Moscato was not too sweet, and with lower alcohol, a great alternative to sparkling rosé. I also tried the aptly named “Captain Thunderbolt” White Port, which as its name suggests was dangerous and warming! I’m told that Johnnie does regular free at home wine and port tastings across NSW, which would make for quite a fun party!

For lunch, we had a tasting plate of pork and chive dumplings and pork rice from Blue Eye Dragon
Taiwanese, normally based in Pyrmont.  The pork rice was very moreish, with a slightly sticky consistency and a nice side to the dumplings. Overall good, but my only complaint was that the day was so hot so it was hard to enjoy food so warm. Back to the oysters and wine, I say!

Last stop for the day was a tasting from Ross Hill Winery from Orange, NSW. I could not go past the Sammy and Maddy 2014 Rosé from their Family Series (pictured left)– a beautiful Merlot rosé, burnt orange in colour, and with a drier, red fruit, and refreshing palate. This one sold out on the day, and was one of the best rosés I’ve tried in years. One for the mail order!

All in all, a great festival with lots of treats to enjoy.  Pack your picnic blanket, sunscreen and dog, to enjoy lazing around between tastings under the trees. I’ll see you there next year!

Weekendfoodescapes by Lisa were guests of the Wahroonga Food and Wine Festival. Thanks to Christina for attending and writing this blog. 
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Sabtu, 31 Oktober 2015

Helm Bar, Sydney Darling Harbour

A sunlit day in Darling Harbour is absolutely gorgeous. One of my favourite watering holes in the area is Helm Bar. On a gorgeous sunny Sunday afternoon, my gal friend and I decided to pop in for some lunch and drinks.

In an attempt to be healthy, I ordered the beef thai salad (above, $19) with cucumber, cherry tomatoes, snow peas, lettuce and chili and red onion. The beef salad was well dressed in the thai dressing. All the other components were well executed with lots of red onion. It was a very attractive dish to eat and I soon forgot about my pizza cravings.

Ladies also needed a nice cocktail so I ordered the karaffe of the BIG Strawberry Woo Woo (which is apparently a Helm Bar favourite only bigger & better), made of Ketel One Vodka with Peach Liqueur, muddled strawberries & cranberry ($25, below). It was a sweet drink girly drink that matched the beautiful waterside view we had (photo, right at the bottom of this post)

My friend ordered the Morrocan lamb salad ($19) which had rocket leaves, pumpkins, chickpeas, mint yoghurt and harissa. The lamb was blue and very much rare on the inside but you could see the lamb had been sealed on the outside. My friend said she found this meal satisfying and all the components of the salad worked well. 

Given we behaved with our choices of main, I also ordered a cheeky side of Fries with Aioli ($6). Salty, crunchy chips were the perfect side to our salads. They were thin fries that went well with the aioli.

Overall, I had a really nice lunch. Helm Bar provides a lovely venue for a casual lunch and drinks with friends. As expected with the venue, it can get very busy with tourists and other locals but provides very consistent pub meals for about $20 which is what you expect in Darling Harbour region.

Prices: $20-$30 for mains. Keep an eye out for their weekday specials

Location: 7 Wheat Rd, Sydney. Right by the Pyrmont bridge.

Summary: Lisa's Rating: 
Food: 8/10 for pub dining
Customer Service: 7/10
Atmosphere: 9/10
Value: 7/10

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