Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Coco Cubano: Parramatta (31 July 2012)

I was in Parramatta for an early appointment yesterday morning, so I decided to check out Coco Cubano for their breakfast menu. Although they are typically known for their delicious range of cocktails and tapas, they had a decent range of breakfast items (and also one of the few cafes around Church St that was opened at 7am). 

Bar Area

Huavos Baked Eggs
Two runny poached eggs is oven baked with a tomato based sauce and baked beans. The eggs are delicious with the tomato based sauce, and the toasted sourdough bread served on the side can be used to scoop up the runny egg yolks. However I found the tomato sauce leaning towards the watery side, though tasty nonetheless with the baked beans.

Overall a colourful and well-decorated restaurant, although the service seemed more on the slow side (especially since I was the only customer at the time). 

Coco Cubano
302 Church St
Parramatta NSW 2150
0450 956 382
Coco Cubano on Urbanspoon

Oasis Lounge: Pyrmont (30 July 2012)

The relatively newly opened Oasis Lounge at the Star offers a range of meals and snacks that can be easily eaten without utensils (presumably to make it easier to gamble?). Tonight we were here purely to catch up with family over burgers, spring rolls and noodles, especially with the 50% off discount we were offered.

Spring Roll ($9) 
To start things off, we ordered a serving of spring rolls. These were filled generously with meat, vermicelli and vegetables, and fried to a crispy golden colour without being dried out.
Wagyu Burger and Hand cut chips ($22)
However what I was most excited about was the wagyu burger, which was cooked to the specified medium. The patty was thick and juicy, and topped with melted cheese and accompanied by some crispy pieces of lettuce, red onions and tomatoes. The burger was complemented with the crispy hand cut chunky chips. 

Perfect medium cooked patty!

Kon Chow Ngau Ho ($19)
Oasis lounge dining area
A relaxing dining area at the Star, however whilst the burger was juicy and flavoursome, there are still many places I would want to explore (even within the Star) before returning.

Star, 80 Pyrmont St
Pyrmont NSW 2009
02 9660 5933

Emperor's Garden Cake & Bakery: Sydney (28 July 2012)

Located along the pedestrian street in Chinatown, Emperor's Garden Cake & Bakery typically attracts a lengthy line of customers for their custard puffs. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to line up for the delicious flaky custard puffs with the parking meter running, so I grabbed a few of my favourite bakery items for our next few days worth of breakfasts. 

Sponge Cupcake
 A childhood favourite of mine - I still remember eating these after my extra tuition classes on the weekends at North Shore. Light, fluffy and buttery... yum! However the tops were slightly burnt in the batch I saw, so I did have to take of the top which is usually my favourite part :(

Coconut Pineapple buns
 Emperor's Garden coconut pineapple buns are made exceptionally well, being filled generously with a sweetened shredded coconut mixture, and topped with a relatively thick sweet pineapple flavour crust. 

Coconut swirl
This was my first time buying the coconut swirl bread, and I'm converted! We experimented with this one, and found it to be even more delicious when we split it up and placed it in the oven for around 5 minutes so the bread was warm and the sweetened coconut parts were crispy. 

Pineapple Bun
 Similar to the coconut versions, the soft pineapple buns were covered generously with a thick layer of sweet crispy pineapple flavoured crust. 

Egg Tart
My favourite egg tarts that can be bought in a bakery in Sydney! I adore the perfectly crispy and buttery pastry that surrounds the soft gelatinous creamy egg fillings. Yum! And at $1.40 each, they may be leaning slightly on the more expensive side, but they're definitely worth it! Heat it up in the oven as well so they are extra crispy and flaky

Emperor's Garden Cake & Bakery
96-100 Hay Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
02 9211 2135
Emperor’s Garden Cake & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sparrow: Crows Nest (27 July 2012)

After having dinner with M at Tokonoma, I rushed back to Crows Nest to meet up with K and J for a high school catch up. They had already eaten dinner at Thai Face so we decided to do another catch up over dessert :)

Sticky black rice with longan topped with coconut cream
 To start things off, J ordered a sticky black rice topped with longans and coconut cream from Thai Face, which she had been eying off through their online menu all day. She wasn't disappointed so I'm presuming that the desserts at Thai Face are good, but we weren't in the mood for asian-style desserts so K and I moved onto the nearby Sparrow cafe. 

Situated along the quiet walking pathway off Willoughby Road, Sparrow is one of those local hangouts that seem to be popular amongst all ages. People mostly seem to go there for their gelatos and coffees, but their cakes look just as delicious so K and I decided to split a slice of the lemon meringue pie. 

Lemon Meringue Pie
Deliciously light and fluffy meringue tops the creamy and rich lemon pie portion - whilst it was probably bought and not home made, who really cares when it tastes that good! Although at $7 for a slice, it probably wasn't the cheapest either. 

Cake selection

Affogato with Italian Nougat gelato ($6)
I ordered the affogato which comes with a scoop of gelato of your choice. The shot of coffee was strong and aromatic, and went perfectly with the Italian Nougat gelato as suggested by the lovely man working behind the counter. The Italian Nougat has crunchy almond pieces throughout the vanilla based gelato, and is soooo delicious and creamy! I will definitely be back just to have this again.  

Hot Chocolate
 K ordered the hot chocolate which she said was delicious and rich, and reminded her of the hot chocolate from the Lindt Cafe. We later read from their menu that they use real melted belgian chocolate, which explains the lovely creaminess and richness. 

A lovely local cafe that serves up a nice mix of drinks and desserts, matched with friendly and considerate service. One of the waiters even offered to carry in a table for us, so we did not have to sit outside.

Sparrow Gelato & Espresso
Shop 2, 59-61 Willoughby Rd
Crows Nest NSW 2065
02 9906 7810
Sparrow Gelato & Espresso on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Century: Pyrmont (28 July 2012)

The newest branch of Golden Century has finally opened up at Star after months of advertising, and we were all very excited to try it out. Located on the Ground Floor (near the S T A R sign), the Century is easily accessible to customers who want to avoid going through the casino to find it. Upon entering the restaurant, I am impressed on how modern and clean the decor is, as the restaurant seems like a more modern interpretation of the original Golden Century located on Sussex St. There is no yumcha at The Century, so we decide to do our traditional mix of seafood and meat dishes for lunch. 

Live seafood tanks

Clean modern interior

San Choy Bow (2 in a serve at $10)
 To kick things of we ordered 3 serves of the San Choy Bow which gives 6 servings of diced meat, water chestnut and shallots served in crisp lettuce cups. I generally ask for an additional side of hoisin sauce to complement the diced meat. 
San choy bow mixture

Deep Fried Mud Crab with Salt and Pepper (MP)
 The seafood at Golden Century is always fresh, and The Century is no different. As we didn't want to be overly full from the crab, we asked them to catch us a smaller crab around 1kg, which they showed us once the crab was caught from the tank. The batter each piece was cooked in was relatively thin compared to some other chinese restaurants, and which made the dish seem lighter and crispier. The slightly spicy salt and pepper crust was deeelicious, and we found ourselves licking the crunchy crust off the shells as well as eating the tender sweet crabmeat. 

Braised Two Kinds of Mushrooms and Vegetables ($28)
 To balance out all the meat and seafood, we ordered the braised two kinds of musrhrooms and vegetables, which consisted of enoki and shitake mushrooms braised in a gelatinous sauce, served over greens. 

Pork Ribs Peking Style ($24)
 Just as good as the ones served at their main restaurant on George St, the pork ribs and fried to a perfect crispiness before being drenched in the sticky and sweet peking sauce. 

Fried Rice with Salted Fish and Chicken Meat ($19)
One of the friends we were dining with suggested we get the fried rice with salted fish and chicken meat instead of steamed rice (which would have worked out to be $18 anyway since there was 6 of us and it was $3/person), and we were glad that we did! Whilst I generally still prefer steamed rice over fried rice, especially when it comes to eating with seafood, I really enjoyed the broken fried rice that had a slightly salty taste from the fish and chicken meat. Give it a try next time if you like fried rice, as it is different from your typical fried rice. 

Steamed Live Barramundi with Ginger and Shallots (MP)
 Succulent tender pieces of meat was easily broken up and soaked up the soya/fish sauce swimming  below the fish. The cooking time was timed perfectly by the chefs, as steamed fish can often be overcooked. 

Complimentary Petit Fours
 To finish the meal off, we were given complimentary petit fours which consisted of deep fried wonton wrappers topped with icing sugar, and another type of deep-fried dough rolled in sesame seeds. 

Complimentary Orange pieces 

The Century seems to be a more modern and updated version of the original Golden Century, whilst still retaining the consistent fresh quality of the seafood and maintaining the reliably good cooking skills of the chefs.

The Century
80 Pyrmont St Level G The Star
Pyrmont NSW 2009
02 9566 2328
The Century on Urbanspoon

Tokonoma: Surry Hills (27 July 2012)

Upon entering the dark, chic doorway of Tokonoma, it feels like as if you have been transported from the hustle and bustle of Crown St to an entirely different place. The service is warm and attentive, and all clients are asked about their food allergies beforehand. I have heard of a great deal of positive reviews on Tokonoma from friends, so I had dangerously high expectations for the place. So far it hadn't been disappointed, and I was excited to start the whole dining experience. 

Dimly lit tables with plush sofa chairs

Steamed edamame
We started with the steamed edamame beans which were still crunchy and seasoned well with crunchy rock salts. 

Because M had a sore throat, we decided to stay with non-alcoholic drinks tonight, and M ordered the Zaksan which consisted of lychees and pink grapefruit muddled with genmaicha and soda water - perfect balance between the sweetness of crushed lychee pieces with the pink grapefruit. 

Yuzu mocktail 
I ordered the yuzu drink which consisted of fresh yuzu juice served over crushed ice - found it refreshing but overly sour from the crushed yuzu plum pieces. 

Sake no miso tarutaru
 Fat juicy cubes of salmon tartare with a hint of wasabi miso dressing. Understated and delicious.

Beef carpaccio with yuzu koshu dressing
 Seared beef thinly sliced and topped with pickled onions, mizuna and garlic chips, while swimming in a mild yuzu koshu dressing.

Tempura softshell crab with spicy chive ponzu
One of my favourite dishes from the night - the tempura softshell crab was battered thinly and deep-fried until crunchy without the feeling of greasiness. I really admire the way it was battered, since I have had many soft-shell crabs of which the legs have been clumped together in some areas due to the thicker batter. However all the legs were separated at Tokonoma, and the spicy and creamy chive ponzu mayonnaise sauce complimented the softshell crab well. 

Smoked eel and special maki  
Two types of sushi was served to us - both used fresh ingredients, and were understated in the flavours. 

Sashimi (kingfish and salmon) 
Fat and juicy fresh slices of kingfish and salmon were beautifully presented on top of ice. I only wished there was more!

Grilled scallop with apple jalapeno
Juicy pieces of grilled scallops are topped with an interesting sweet spicy apple-flavoured sauce. 

Ika no tempura
 Crispy tempura squid served with a soy chilli broth for dipping. Again another favourite dish of mine at Tokonoma, with the tempura batter made with the perfect consistency and thinness, allowing the tender squid flavour to come through.

Wafu Zucchini
 Zucchini pieces grilled on a skewer and topped with wafu sauce and sesame seeds. Simply made with not overly flavoursome toppings, to highlight the natural flavours of the zucchini.

Mugi miso de tsuketa ramu lampu
Tender barley miso mustard lamb rump that is tender and well-cooked, slice into strips and presented in a jenga fashion on a large circular wooden board with soya sauce and wasabi.

Sumomo no creme brulee, fresh fruits and higawari mizugashi
 For dessert we had the apricot and clotted cream creme brulee served with fresh fruit pieces, raspberry sorbet and chocolate ice cream. The creme brulee was different from your typical creme brulee in that there were stewed apricot pieces on the bottom, before being topped with the traditional creme brulee consistency. The addition of the stewed apricot pieces made the dessert lighter than what it typically is, and allowed just enough space for the delicious home-made sorbet and ice cream. 

Bar area
Small wooden sign at the entrance
A wonderful dining experience, bought to life with well-executed dishes, fresh ingredients, beautiful decor and attentive service. The whole night went by quickly, and was thoroughly enjoyable. I thought the tempura dishes were the highlight for me, since it was probably one of the best-made tempura batters I have had, which were further complemented by the fresh seafood ingredients they used inside. Definitely a restaurant to keep in mind for date nights and those special occasions. 

490 Crown St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
02 9357 6100
Toko on Urbanspoon