The Dough Collective, Sydney CBD ($)

Address: Shop G5, 614 George Street, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9264 6608

Website: http://www.doughcollective.com.au

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Reviewed by: Wicko

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The Dough Collective is a new bakery located in the heart of the city at 614 George Street between the Metro Theatre and McDonald’s.

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They have been open for one week, offering a twist to the usual bread experience.

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The Dough Collective believes in providing higher quality breads compared to other bakeries through their unique production process.

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I was invited with a group of food bloggers, to go behind the scenes into the kitchen and see how the professionals make their bread.

Upon arrival, I saw some cool bread displays on show, including a giant lobster!

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When we went into the backroom I was amazed at how many bakers were in there, creating magic with their hands.

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After learning more about the business I came to understand what it was the caused this bakery to stand above the rest. The business creates a much fresher product through many interesting techniques.

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First and foremost, almost everything is handmade; the only step of the process where a machine is used would be the baking (obviously) and the kneading for some types of bread.

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This kneading is kept to a minimum to ensure that the bread is not completely worked, as this causes the loss of air in the bread.

This in conjunction with the use of warm water when mixing the flour, ensures that the bread does not dry out, and cooks quickly, gives the bread its wonderful fluffiness.

The yeast used by the bakers is produced freshly on site from dried raisins which have been fermented with water for 9 days at 25.2 degrees.

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This provides a flavour advantage, as the liquid is used (as opposed to dried yeast where much of the flavour in the yeast is lost from the liquid). It also results in a fresher product.

In the process of baking, no sugars or oils are used, except for in the sweet products such as the “chocolate surprise”.

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Instead, they rely on quality products sourced from around the world, for example Belgian chocolate, and Italian parmesan.

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The business runs on 2 hour time slots. This is to make their wide range of products (58-60) possible.

The bakers in the back would cook only a few kinds of bread in a two hour slot, as cooking all types, all day would be near impossible. Thus the breads that are out are fresher, and a wide variety available.

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These shifts will soon be up on a sign out the front. They correspond to the time of the day, for example: sweeter breads during breakfast time or heavier and cheesier breads during lunch.

So we rolled our own bread for a minute or two. It looked like the easiest thing I could imagine while I watched the chef do it, however when it was my turn to rise to the challenge, I do not think I could’ve done worse!

When the tour was over we were shown around the front and introduced to their hot beverages.

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The Dough Collective is aiming to providing a holistic experience through their provision of both food and drink.

The coffee is from Single Origin Roasters which is ethically sourced and environmentally sustainable. The quality of the coffee is such that to use it in your shop, you must go through a tough interview, which many businesses do not pass; this really elucidates the quality of the product.

I had a large long black with no sugar.  It was one of the best coffees I have had in a while, strong and flavoursome just as I like it.

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As we left we were given bags to take home some bread (win!).

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There was a wide variety to choose from, including sweet and savoury options and individual or family sized loaves.

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Being a sweet tooth I decided to take home the “Chocolate surprise” which was a beautifully soft chocolate dough with a soft centre of liquid chocolate.

I also got my hands on the “Ham Pizza Toast”. This one would be a personal favourite out of the savouries. It seemed just like a loaf of bread with cheese on it from above, however I found out how wrong I was the first time I cut it. The centre was partly hollow, filled with a soft runny cheese and strips of ham. This perfectly complimented the crusty top.

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The “Gourmet Hot Dog” (below, bottom left) was great, it contained Australian pork and mustard in a soft pastry.

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Finally I tried the “sweet and savoury ring”. When I ate this I was so surprised. The combination of Belgian chocolate in a large, soft, ring, with cream cheese, and black kidney beans was amazing. I found it a great delight, due to its differentiation from the norm… and also because of the chocolate.

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Overall, The Dough Collective was a great place to explore the different kinds of breads, learn how they are made and try some delicious coffee.

I enjoyed the experience and especially the variety and quality of breads available.

The Dough Collective on Urbanspoon

New Shanghai, Chatswood Chase ($$)

Address: Lower Ground Level, Chatswood Chase- 345 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW

Tel: (02) 9412 3358

Website: http://www.newshanghai.com.au/splash.php

* * *

Wicko and I attended a menu tasting at New Shanghai in Chatswood.

Wicko has started covering a few more events for me as I try to manage work and blogging and transition to being a part-time uni student from March onwards.

This event was particularly appropriate for him  as he went to school in Chatswood so knows the area quite well.  He also is quite a fussy eater so I thought exposing him to something different would be good to develop his blogging palate!

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Atmosphere

The restaurant is located in the food court of Chatswood Chase shopping centre, so we decided to park in the centre and walk down.  This was a good idea on the way there, but was a little creepy when we had to walk through the shopping centre in the dark on the way back!

The atmosphere at the restaurant was a little different to what I had expected.

It was a lot darker, almost a little grungy and it gave off a “busy modern city meets traditional tea house” vibe.

The place was packed out with busy diners, quite good for a Wednesday night out of the CBD.

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There is a small drinks bar on one side, featuring prints of a smiling Chinese girl and a large printed umbrella.  The colours brighten up the dark space and the slightly faded look gives an “old-yet-new” feel.

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There was also a private dining room which was being used when we entered (this photo is from after the meal as I did not want to take a photo while there were people in there).

I loved the red, shiny bamboo wall paper on the walls, an elegant way to brighten up the space.

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Wicko and I also liked the glass windows (similar to those at Din Tai Fung), which showed off the skills of the dumpling and bun makers, kneading and rolling away until each dumpling was perfect.

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The final touches were the antique-looking carved wooden windows ….

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the red windows and bunting….

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and the bamboo coloured neutral table settings.

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Service

We were looked after by the friendly and pleasant Jerry, the Chatswood Manager who was overseeing the staff taking our orders and delivering food.

After perusing the menu, we ordered drinks.

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Some chose pineapple, some Yakult and others pineapple an coconut.

The drinks took a while to come out and all came out at different times but they were really nice and worth the wait.

Wicko chose a Kiwi Blended Ice which was not at all sour, like some of the kiwis you find here. It also contained large chunks of Kiwi on the top.

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Kiwi Blended Ice, $5.80

I chose the Lychee Blended Ice, which I found tasted like lychee jelly, rather than fresh lychee, which was not a problem for me as I love lychee jelly anyway!

The drink was refreshing but I would have liked some pearls or jelly in there like at Easyway and Chatime.

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Lychee Blended Ice, $5.80

The lovely Georgie, who was sitting next to me, chose the Strawberry Blended Ice, which came out topped with a couple of strawberries and some mint.

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Strawberry Blended Ice, $5.80

Food

Food. Boy was there a lot of it.

The menu at New Shanghai is seasonal except for the key basic dishes so in order to try a bit of everything we had both Dim Sim and Mains to share.

We started off with the delicious pillows of pan fried pork buns that were soft on top, crisp on the bottom and full of juicy pork.

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Pan Fried Pork Buns (8 pieces), $10.50 

Next were the Xiao Long Bao, pleated dumplings with a delicate and soft skin, these dumplings were bursting with broth and pork flavour. Delicious and quite a generous serving for the price!

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Xiao Long Bao (8 pieces), $7.80 

One of the more exciting dishes on the menu and definitely one of my favourites, was the Prawn Wonton tossed with peanut butter, red chilli oil and spice. The creamy, nutty flavour of the peanut butter (which you can see in the middle) was perfect with the spicy chilli and cool cucumber and the prawns were cooked until JUST done!

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Prawn Wontons with peanut butter and chilli sauce (10 pieces), $14.80

The steamed Pork Belly Buns were soft and slightly chewy with a tasty sauce, however, the pork was quite dry so I didn’t really like this dish.

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Pork Belly Buns, $6.00 (2 pieces)

The pan fried pork dumplings were great as they were so golden and delicious on the bottom, perfect with the vinegar and soy sauce.

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Here’s a photo of the bottom of the dumplings:

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Pan Fried Pork Dumplings (8 pieces), $9.90

After we had enjoyed the Dim Sim, we moved on to the Braised Tofu and Mushroom in Sweet Soy Sauce.

While I am definitely not a mushroom person and couldn’t handle more than a bite of these slimy looking things, I did enjoy the tofu, the glossy sauce and the braised greens.

Great for the vegetarians!

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Braised Tofu and Mushroom in Sweet Soy Sauce, $16.80

Next were the Stir Fried Claims with XO Sauce. The claims were well cooked, the sauce was sweet and a little spicy and the shallots were crunchy and added some freshness and colour.

Wicko also enjoyed his first clam, noting that he had caught one once on a fishing trip by accident.  Nice.

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Stir Fried Clam, $15.80

The Steamed Fish with Seaweed was soft and flaky, falling apart easily when prodded with our chopsticks. I’m not 100% sure exactly what the sauce was or how much it cost though as I couldn’t find it on the menu.

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My favourite dish, possibly of all time, had to be the Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab.  This dish was a winner all round and we enjoyed the super crunchy fried crab, the spicy chili and the well seasoned batter.  The presentation was also nice with some bright colours to lift the look of the dish.

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Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab, $29.80

Next we had the King Prawn in Ginger and Shallots with Vermicelli.  There were plenty of prawns in this dish, even if they were a little overdone and hard to peel (HOW do you peel prawns with chopsticks and a soup spoon!?).

The ginger and shallot sauce was tasty but I wasn’t a fan of all the noodles at the bottom, a little too much vermicelli for me!

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We then had the Salt and Pepper Deep Fried School of Prawns, which were the same as the soft shell crab, except crunchier.

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The Sizzling Seafood Hot Pot was next.  A pot full of seafood broth, steaming vegetables, tofu, fish, prawns and squid, this dish was something light that you could enjoy with fried rice of noodles, without feeling super guilty that you just ate all dat fried crab.

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Rainbow Beef, $17.80

It was served with some steamed plain bread that you were meant to place the beef in, although I only ended up trying a piece of the bread and a couple of pieces of the beef.

The bread was light and pillowy and very cutely shaped so that they looked like little clouds!

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Finally, the last dish was the Fried Rice with XO Sauce.  The rice was so flavoursome and colourful and I loved the prawns and egg in there.

A great dish to complement any of the other mains, especially the steamed vegetable and seafood dishes.

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Fried Rice in XO Sauce, $11.90

For dessert, we shared HUGE bowls of shaved ice, ice cream, fresh mango and strawberry (yes, fresh!), and some condensed milk.

Despite half the dish being ice, once the ice cream and ice started melting the combination of fruity flavours mixing in with the ice made for a cold and satisfying dessert.

We were surprised to find that all this was only $10.80, however, you are only able to choose either mango or strawberry when you order this at the restaurant.

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Fresh Mango or Strawberry Shaved Ice, $10.80

Summary

The food was very tasty and there was so much variety, flavour and technique used in making these dishes.  Great value as well and large serving sizes.

The decor is traditional meets modern, and I loved the glass area where the dumplings and buns were made and the beautiful red and black antique looking features.

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-  8
  • Food-  8
  • Atmosphere- 7.75
  • Value – 8

TCFB and Wicko dined complimentarily as guests of Wasamedia and New Shanghai. 

New Shanghai Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining, Sydney CBD ($$)

Address: Basement level, 82 Elizabeth Street, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 8084 2505

Website: http://www.rabbitholebar.com.au/

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday -12.00 pm to late

Saturday- 4.00 pm to late

* * *

Pendulum Communications invited MC and I to Rabbit Hole Bar and Dining’s (RHBD) first birthday party, located underground on Elizabeth Street.

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The entry

Celeb guests included Justine Schofield (of MasterChef and Everyday Gourmet fame), Nacho Pop, Sam McMillan and Brittany Cairns, while fellow food bloggers; Simon from Simon Food Favourites, Bob from Jugernauts, and Tina from Food, Booze and Shoes were also in attendance.

Atmosphere

RHBD has a very quaint almost 20’s feel to it with lots of neutral colours and old fashioned cartoons on the walls.

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There are two bars: one in the main area, and one in another more intimate space around the corner.  

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Main bar

We headed over after work, about 6.30pm and managed to find a table in the room to the left of the main bar area. 

This space had a bar in the middle and featured cushioned seats on one side of the wall and mismatched wooden chairs, large round barrels and stools around the rest of the space, some covered in white rabbit-like fur.

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Smaller bar area

It was quite dark and the only light we had came from down lights, mirrors, sky lights and candles which added depth and brightened up the dark spaces.

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The place has a quirky and private feel and features mysterious Alice in Wonderland-like accents such as rabbit-related cartoons, flowery cushions in contrast to the dark bar and seats, and “DRINK ME” worthy cocktail concoctions!

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The music was quite relaxed and laid back and contributed to the “classy hipster” vibe.

Service

The staff were pretty attentive, walking around to collect empty glasses and to ask if we wanted another drink, and the bar staff were great at pouring the drinks, serving them up with flair and informing us of the ingredients.

Food

Owner Doug Laming has appointed a new chef, Jeremy Metivier who has worked in Michelin star restaurants and who is the driving force behind RHBD’s new French fine dining menu.

The menu included dishes such as:

  • Goats Cheese and Beetroot Apples
  • Scallops on Beetroot Shortbread with Mango and Beetroot Emulsions
  • Mini Wagyu Sliders with Brie Cheese and house made Relish
  • Slow Roasted Lamb with Artichoke Puree, Coriander and Wine Jelly
  • Salmon Gravlax with Cucumber and Aloe Vera “Snow”
  • Chocolate Skulls, with Firm Spicy Pirate Cream and Coconut Cake

Unfortunately, as MC and I were seated on one side, most of the food never made it past the crowd at the front of the room, so we only got to try 3 dishes.

One of the dishes we tried were the Goats Cheese and Beetroot Apples.  This dish was very elegantly presented on a bed of golden crumbs with glossy grapes and peppered balls of goats cheese covered in an almost waxy edible red coating.

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The other savoury dish we tried was the Salmon Gravlax appetiser, mini versions of the salmon gravalax, cucumber lake, orange cream and aloe vera snow dish available from the dinner menu.

These were little morsels of heaven; perfectly sliced salmon with a green cucumber jelly, delicate edible decorations of orange, red and white and beautiful purple flowers to garnish.

An exquisite tasting dish which had a flavour that matched its appearance.

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Finally, for dessert we enjoyed the Chocolate Skulls– spoons of a spicy custard-like cream with coconut cake rounds, chopped summer fruit and dark chocolate skills with a gold dusting.

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These skulls were lit on fire, leaving the custard warm, the chocolate slightly melted and the on watchers in awe!

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Overall, while we didn’t get much food to try, the menu looked quite appetising and the dishes that were on offer seemed to be different and well put together.  I can see how this place would appeal to the office works and corporates in the Martin Place and CBD area with its fine dining dishes and creative cocktails.

Drinks  

As RHBD is owned and run by Doug Laming, a “molecular mixologist” (read: awesome cocktail maker who uses physical and chemical modification of ingredients to create interesting drinks), it makes sense that he would put his skills on display and serve up an array of cocktails. 

Some of the cocktails we tried included:

  • The Smoked Apple
  • Breakfast Bouquet
  • The White Cloud Above Mount Gay
  • The Wood and Smoke
  • You’ve Gone Nuts
  • Stolen painkiller

Although we didn’t have much food, we did have a LOT of drinks!  We wanted to try one of each of the ones we saw so we ended up sharing quite a few between us.

First up was the Smoked Apple. It contained  torrontes and pomme verte layered agar apples, Ceylon tea infused cinnamon syrup, rhubarb butters and cloudy apple juice finished with fresh cider, smoked salt and some apple slices.

It was a pleasant looking dish, served in a short glass and while the smokey flavour wasn’t really to my liking, MC enjoyed the fresh flavours and boldness of the drink.

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We then shared one of the sweetest drinks, the Breakfast Bouquet.

This drink has larios, gin, double creme de cassis, rose and strawberry jam, wild willow water, fresh lemon and a dash of rhubarb bitters.  It is a complex yet sweet looking cocktail which looked lovely, topped with a rose petal and blueberry.

As you drink the cocktail the scent of the rose petal wafts up and leaves you feeling as though you are walking through a field of roses!  Lame but true.

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We also enjoyed a rum and marshmallow foam cocktail which was called the White Cloud Above Mount Gay.

Mount Gay extra old rum is shaken with black pepper, pineapple caramel, fresh lime and more pineapple, and is then poured over marshmallow foam which leaves a white cloud on top.

The drink is another sweet one which, after the previous sweet drinks, we found a little hard to swallow.  While it was interesting to watch it being made, I wasn’t a fan of it as it was a little too sweet.

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The Wood and Smoke was an interesting cocktail which the menu says is made from ingredients including Jim Beam Devil’s Cut, Laphroaig single malt whiskey, quassia (bark chips), barberry bark syrup, acid phosphate and bitters.

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After shaking up a storm, the bartender pours the slightly cloudy drink over ice, where it settles and turns from creamy to clear.  A cinnamon stick is placed in the drink and is then set alight, giving a woody and smoky scent.

While I preferred the sweeter drinks, MC, a Jim Beam and Jack Daniels fan, enjoyed this smoky, cinnamon flavoured cocktail over the rest.

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The You’ve Gone Nuts drink contains Sierra Millenario infused with tonka beans, and shaken with Disaronno amaretto, house-made peanut and cashew syrup and finished with walnut bitters.

The cocktail looks like it is full of lemon juice with a sugar rim but in actual fact, like the other cocktails, it was quite sweet rather than sour.

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Finally, the Stolen Painkiller, a first for me, this powdered cocktail tasted like fizzy sherbert pops.  It contained powdered rum, pineapple, coconut and passionfruit powder and was served in half a passionfruit shell.

The interesting presentation and tangy sour taste was a great way to finish off our cocktail tasting and we enjoyed it, although one of the guys seated next to us wasn’t a fan!

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Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-  6
  • Food-   5 (what food?)
  • Atmosphere- 7
  • Value – 7

TCFB dined as a guest of Pendulum Communications and Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining.

Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining on Urbanspoon

 

Mr Crackles, Darlinghurst ($)

Address: 155 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst NSW

Tel: (02) 8068 2832

Website: http://www.mrcrackles.com.au/

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Atmosphere

One lunchtime KiwiKompanion and I decided to check out Mr Crackles after discovering it was really only a 10 minute walk from work.

When we finally got to the Oxford Street store, we found a small hole-in-the-wall takeaway joint with benches and stools lining the walls on both sides.

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The large blackboard lists the interesting and exciting rolls on the menu including The Crackles Classic, The Sweet Pork, The Lamb, The Chicken Katsu and The Vego.

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To the right is a glass cabinet with huge pieces of pork crackling which had us drooling!

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Loud and distracting music was blaring from the speakers, and KiwiKompanion and I were not too keen on sitting around so we ended up ordering quickly and eating again small park.

Service

Service wasn’t anything amazing and we didn’t even find that the staffs were friendly or even helpful.  We ordered our food and waited about 5 minutes to receive our orders, which were called out to us by one of the staff members.

Food

I ordered The Crackles Classic and KiwiKompanion ordered The Lamb.

The Crackles Classic contains five spice pork belly with crispy crackling and Vietnamese salad. The pork was soft, juicy, tasty and had a delicious super crispy skin. I also enjoyed the crusty roll and the tangy mayonnaise in the coleslaw style salad. Delicious!

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Crackles Classic, $12.00

KiwiKompanion’s lamb roll had rosemary and garlic infused lamb shoulder with caramelised onion, tahini  and spinach. She also enjoyed her roll and commented that the meat was soft and tender.

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The Lamb, $12.00

Overall, the food was amazing and one of the top rolls I have ever had.

A great foodie experience that I highly recommend!

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-  4
  • Food-  7
  • Atmosphere- 3.5
  • Value – 7

Mr Crackles on Urbanspoon

Wok On Inn, The Rocks ($)

Address: 17/31 Playfair Street, The Rocks, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9247 8554

Website: http://www.wokoninn.com.au/

* * *

I visited Wok On Inn one evening after work to have dinner with the owner and “Chief Executive Noodle” Mr Ankur Sehgal.

Wok On Inn is a noodle bar specialising in Asian Street Food.
There are currently four stores: Balmain, Darlinghurst, The Rocks and Norwest, with four more to open soon in Sydney and Canberra.
Atmosphere

I got to the place around 6.20, a little early for our 6.30 start but Mr Sehgal was stuck in traffic anyway so I had a bit of time to look around and get a feel for the place before he arrived.

Wok On Inn is located close to Circular Quay, about a 5-10 minute walk from the station.

The Rocks restaurant is quite small, more of a takeaway/fast food restaurant.  However, it still has plenty of seating including long wooden benches with colourful stools, and metal tables and chairs in the middle of the area.

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I visited on a Wednesday night and it wasn’t very busy, but there was a steady stream of people; either those who happened to smell the food as they walked past or those who walked over with confidence and familiarity.

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Service

I seated myself at one of the large wooden benches.

It was a nice cool day so it was quite pleasant to sit outside, apart from the annoying seagull which patrolled the area walking up and down between the tables and staring diners down with its beady eyes (image below).

The seagull eventually even gained enough courage to jump onto the table and try to steal our food, despite my efforts to chase it away!

Ankur later informed me that this was a problem they faced in The Rocks store in particular, but that the other stores didn’t have this same issue.

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While I waited I enjoyed reading the interesting information on the chopstick cups:??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

A friendly waitress asked if I wanted a drink while I waited (yes, as it was a very hot day!).

I was pleased to receive a chilled glass and cold can of solo, a nice touch which made my short wait more relaxing!

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Overall, service throughout the meal was quite good.

It took less than 5-10 minutes for food to come out, staff were friendly and pleasant and as soon as diners left they cleared the plates (very efficient!), leaving nothing for the pesky seagulls!

Food

When Ankur arrived, I was pleased to find that he was very friendly and easy to talk to.

I liked the fact that he was passionate about good food and good service in all his restaurants, and that he was ambitious and committed to making Wok On Inn work in Australia.

Ankur informed me that he wanted to bring the authenticity of the Asian food in Asia, to Australia, without sacrificing on value.
He told me that the sauces they use are made in Asia because the ingredients are more authentic and you can get better onions, better chillis and more stronger flavours of spices in Asia than you could ever find in Australia.  The sauces he said, are snap frozen and sent to them for use in their dishes.
These pre-made sauces make the dishes much more authentic and the fact that they are already made means noodles can be prepared quickly and can be made to order within 10  – 12 minutes.  It also keeps costs down, allowing them to deliver any dish on the menu for under $14.00.
Ankur ordered a number of dishes for us to try.
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I enjoyed a lovely round steamed Spicy Chicken Dumpling ($3.95 for 3) which was quite soft, tasty and juicy.  It was not as good as Din Tai Fung (not even close), but considering this is a noodle restaurant, it was quite good!

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Chicken and Prawn Pad Thai, $13.95

First I tried the Pad Thai, a classic dish.

The dish was nicely presented, topped with beansprouts, crushed peanuts, a wedge of lemon and some parsley.

The noodles were delicious with a slightly sweet sauce and plenty of chicken and prawn.  A very tasty and satisfying dish and a great portion!

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Bangkok Noodles, $12.95

Next up were Ankur’s favourite: Bangkok Noodles with chicken: basically hokkien noodles with a sweet pad prik khing sauce (see my review of Spice I Am for another Pad Prik Khing dish).

The sauce was delicious and you could really taste some strong lemongrass flavours and smell the kaffir lime.

Ankur told me that the dish was originally served with rice instead of noodles but they found that it was not selling so they decided to change it up a little and reinvent it by using noodles instead.

The idea obviously worked as the dish is now one of their top sellers!

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Uncle’s Drunken Noodles, $13.95

Finally, we tried one of the other popular choices, Uncle’s Drunken Noodles.  Ankur told me that this was one of the famous dishes in Thailand, where it is made for drunk locals after a night out, with plenty of chilli and spice to awaken the senses.

The dish contains thai basil, homemade chilli paste, flat rice noodles, bamboo shoots (which I love), egg and (in our case), seafood.  It has quite a dry sauce, and is very very hot, a good one for those fiery spicelovers!

There was a lot of seafood in the dish and I thought the prawns were very nicely cooked, the calamari was not chewy or rubbery, and the vegetables were crunchy and tasted fresh.  Overall, a tasty dish, and yes, perfect for those late nights out!

Rating

Overall I would rate my dining experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 6
  • Food- 8.75
  • Ambience- 5
  • Value – 8

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Here’s a photo of Ankur with one of the lovely staff!

TCFB dined as a guest of Mr Seghur and Wok On Inn.

Wok on Inn the Rocks on Urbanspoon

Criniti’s Darling Harbour, ($$)

Criniti’s, Darling Harbour

Address: Shop 461, 2-10 Darling Drive, Harbourside Shopping Centre,  Darling Harbour NSW 2000

Phone: 1300274 648

Website: http://www.crinitis.com.au/

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A half day at work meant the colleagues and I headed over to Darling Harbour (via monorail) for a day of food, drinks and bonding!

The monorail ride over was something different and as I hadn’t been on a monorail in a while. I thought that it was a great way to get another view of Sydney and although windows and building facades blocked the view some of the way, there was a fantastic view of QVB and Darling Harbour from the monorail.

If only the windows were cleaner and didn’t have pictures on them, we could actually see out of them better to take photos!

I can see why they are planning to take the monorail down this year- there weren’t many people on, the tickets are a little pricey considering you could walk the distance in the same time (it is quite slow), and it is hard to take photos out the window when there are stickers and pictures on them blocking the view.

That said, I wish they would have added it on to a hop on hop off bus price and use it as a bigger tourist attraction as it is definitely a unique part of Sydney.

Atmosphere

After our monorail trip, we walked over the Pyrmont Bridge to Harbourside shopping Centre.

As always, Criniti’s restaurants are very well presented. The decor is fabulous, taking you to Italy with the large woodfired pizza ovens, exposed brickwork and football jerseys.

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The gorgeous view of Darling Harbour

On this occasion we visited during the day and sat outside. I had only ever been to Criniti’s at night so it was interesting to see what the place looked like by day.

There was plenty of bright light coming in from the balcony and while the restaurant wasn’t anywhere near as busy as it is at night, there were still quite a few tables of people around us.

Service

Service wasn’t as good as during the night. We had 2 waiters look after our table during our meal and, as we all ordered drinks and food at different times, some taking longer to peruse the menu than others (guilty!), there was some confusion over who had ordered and who had not.

Overall however, they were pleasant and professional.

Food

We all ordered a variety of things.

I went for the Chicken Skewers with Lemon & Herb seasoning. They were served with three delicious sauces which tasted like aioli, chilli and prego. They also came with a fresh half a lemon (I love lemon and the fact that they weren’t stingy with it!), and a large basket of chips which was more than enough for me.

The chicken was juicy and well-seasoned; the meat had really absorbed all the flavour of the marinade. The charred capsicum and onions added some smokiness and the crispy chips definitely hit the spot!

Despite the fact that this dish cost $36.90, which is a fair bit for a casual lunch, there was plenty of chicken in the dish, it was well-cooked, the chips were perfectly crunchy and well salted, and the sauces and dish were presented nicely on the plate. Definitely work the money!

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Others in the group ordered a variety of things including:

Beetroot, pumpkin, goats cheese and walnut salad with grilled chicken $19.90 + $9.90 for the chicken

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Pizzas from $26.50

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The Prego Burger, $21.90

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Chicken Schnitzel with chips and salad $33.90

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Grilled chicken with side salad, $29.90

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The consensus was that Criniti’s had fantastic portions, delicious food, and great presentation. Everyone enjoyed their meals and we left there very full!

Cost

All of our meals + soft drinks came to about $310.

Rating

Overall I would rate my dining experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 6.5
  • Food- 8.5
  • Ambience- 6
  • Value – 7.5

Criniti’s Darling Harbour on Urbanspoon

Euro Taste Cafe, Top Ryde ($)

Address: Corner Devlin Street and Blaxland Road, Ryde NSW

Tel: (02) 9808 1268

Website: http://www.toprydecity.com.au/dining-a-entertainment/restaurants/item/eurotaste-cafe

Opening Hours: 

8am – 11pm – 7 days a week

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MC and I had originally been hoping to go to Hurricanes in Top Ryde. However, once we got there we found that it was packed out and we would have to wait one hour to get a table.

We decided it definitely was not worth the wait and walked around the restaurants and cafes looking for somewhere to eat. I had already been to Kazbah before, had eaten at Red Spoon Thai in Castle Hill the night before, and had tried The Poets and Sushi Roll previously. We wanted something different and eventually we settled on Euro Taste.

Despite the name, Euro Taste appears to be run by Asians. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but just don’t expect very authentic European food.

The fare is the typical Italian style foods with classics including pizzas, pastas, schnitzel, steaks and grilled salmon.

Atmosphere

There were quite a few people around and the restaurant was busy but as it was a cold night and the only source of heating were the patio heaters, I think most people were just trying to get warm. Euro Taste doesn’t really have much indoor space, it’s mainly outdoors but covered with a pergola. It’s not too bad but some better insulation and cool music would help (listening to Get Lucky by Daft Punk now and thinking that some of this wouldn’t be amiss there :p).

Service

Service was OK. Our waitress didn’t say much and was a bit inattentive. I did notice a male waiter who was very helpful to both his own customers and to us when we needed something.

Food

There was a special deal where you could get a free garlic bread or garlic pizza and we decided to take advantage of it by ordering one of each.

While the garlic bread was pretty average, the garlic pizza was surprisingly good. Not surprisingly because it was garlic pizza (everyone knows that garlic pizza is amazing), but surprising because I didn’t expect this small and (to be honest) pretty cheap cafe to have such great garlic pizza. It was hot, cheesy (could always do with more though- especially around the edges), very garlicky and had a delicious soft base.

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MC ordered the steak with Pepper Sauce – which was quite peppery. The steak was tasty and quite well cooked, although perhaps a little too well done to be medium-well.

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My grilled salmon with chips and salad was delicious. The salmon was well cooked, hot and slightly buttery, if a little small. The salad was refreshing AND colourful on the plate and the chips were generous, well salted and crunchy.

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Overall, a pretty good meal for under $50.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 5
  • Food- 7
  • Ambience- 6
  • Value –7.5