Sicilian, Parramatta ($$)

Address: 292 Church St Parramatta NSW

Tel: (02) 9633 2299

Website: http://www.sicilianparramatta.com.au/our-venues/

* * *

I received an email not long ago from Ms Gomesz of Sicilian in Parramatta, inviting me to visit the restaurant to try out some of the dishes from the new menu.

I had heard of the Sicilian before but had never actually visited it so I was intrigued and agreed to come in with MC to check it out.

Atmosphere

We had a booking for around 7.15pm on a Friday night.

As expected, Parramatta was just beginning to get busy and we were lucky to nab a spot in the carpark in Erby Place, just behind the restaurant.

We entered the restaurant from the back and I was impressed with the clean and elegant exterior of the restaurant, even from the back entrance.

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The lovely Ms Gomesz gave us a choice of seating and we chose a booth towards the front of the restaurant, which gave us a good view of one of the TV screens around the restaurant, whilst still having a bit of privacy.

We were also near the pizza kitchen, which was a small separate area that was sectioned off from the rest of the kitchen.  The pizza kitchen had a large wood-fire oven for the pizzas and there were two Chefs preparing piping hot pizzas in an unusual shape (see below!).

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The atmosphere at Sicilian was fantastic. It was a Friday night and the restaurant was as any great restaurant should be on a Friday night: busy. There were TV screens showing everything from football to the Discovery Channel, music playing in the background, the sizzling noises of hot food being prepared in the kitchen and the happy chatter of satisfied customers relaxing after a long week.

MC and I felt comfortable in the busy environment and enjoyed looking around at the beautiful paintings on the roof and walls and the Southern Italian styled decor.

Service

Well what can I say about service?

MC commented that it was “the best service he has ever had”, and I have to agree.

Right from the beginning staff were friendly and helpful.  We always felt well looked after without feeling annoyed about being bothered or “checked on” every 5 minutes.

Our waiter (I think his name was Enrique?!) was extremely professional, friendly and seemed quite experienced.

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Food

We soon ordered drinks, with MC going for his usual cider (the only choice was Monteith’s Crushed Apple Cider– $8.00).

I chose a refreshing cocktail, the “Woo Woo”.

This was a beautifully presented and absolutely delicious tropical cocktail containing vodka, peach schnapps, lime and cranberry.

It was served in a tall glass with a slice of pineapple on the side, which was a nice touch.

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Woo Woo, $10.00 (all day)

We began the meal with an entree of Arancini Balls with Aioli.

The arancini were mouth-wateringly good. The exterior was crunchy and perfectly golden but it was the inside which was the best part. The rice was cooked al dente and was full of flavour and the small vegetables and gooey cheese contributed to an interesting texture.

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Arancini, $11.90

For the main event we decided to get a side of Sauteed Seasonal Vegetables to get those vitamins in!

I loved that the veggies were bright and colourful, containing carrot, gorgeous baby potatoes, roasted capsicum, broccolini and beans.

Although MC isn’t a big veggie person and HATES capsicum, I managed to get him to try a piece of the sweet roasted capsicum and (dare I say it?) he actually didn’t mind it!

I thought the veggies were well cooked, until just done, and were bright and well presented.  They were a great side dish to complement the other dishes we ordered.

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Sauteed Vegetables, $6.90

MC’s choice for mains was a wood fire Agnello pizza.

This delicious specimen was made of succulent spit roasted lamb, barbecue onions, slightly salty feta, delicious creamy pumpkin slices and a handful of rocket tossed in lemon vinaigrette.

Not a fan of rocket, MC picked it all off. Despite his comment that “it would be better without the leaves”, he really enjoyed the pizza and commented that the lamb was really tasty.

The star of this dish for me however, was the delicious base. The base was soft and tasted slightly of sourdough.

The crust was amazing and while I would normally eat most of a pizza and keep the crust aside, I absolutely loved this one!

I am not big on lamb but I did really enjoy the tender meat in this pizza and it was perfectly balanced by the sweet onion and creamy cheeses.

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Agnello pizza, $27.90

My choice was the Moreton Baia Bugs.

As I am sure you know, I love seafood. I take any opportunity available to choose dishes which feature crab, prawns or other shellfish.

This particular dish was well presented and contained two grilled marinated Moreton Bay bugs on a basil infused mash with roasted vegetables and Sicilian’s citrus hollandaise sauce.

The bugs were delicious and juicy, not overcooked at all.

MC had never had bugs before but enjoyed prawns and crab on previous occasions.  He and I both enjoyed the subtle flavours of the bugs, which were fresh and warm, together with the tangy Sicilian sauce and lemon juice.

The one thing I did not like about this dish however, was the mash and vegetables.

I felt the mash was very dense and heavy and the dish would have been better with a fresh salad on the side and perhaps some roasted potatoes instead.

Apart from that, we both enjoyed the dish and I was glad I chose it.

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Moreon Baia Bugs, $34.90

After clearing our plates, our friendly waiter brought out the dessert menu on a rustic looking clipboard.

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By this stage MC and I were feeling pretty full so we decided to skip out on a full dessert, which included sticky date puddings, tiramisu and cannoli.

Instead, MC went for an Affogato, an espresso shot served with a shot of ice cream.

While the ice cream was a little icy (perhaps the freezer needs to be turned down a bit?), the espresso was delicious and together they made for a wonderfully invigorating combination.

MC who is not normally a coffee drinker, really enjoyed the affogato and perhaps has acquired a taste for sweet, Italian coffee?

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Affogato, $6.00

I went for one of my favourite post- meal teas, Peppermint. Peppermint tea is soothing and great to freshen up your breath after a garlic-laden meal. It is also known to aid digestion and is quite healthy when enjoyed without sugar.

The tea was served in a cute cut with an individual tea pot and was a nice way to round off the meal.

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Peppermint tea, $4.00

Summary

Overall, MC and I had a wonderful meal at the Sicilian.

The service was the best we have had in a while and we were made to feel comfortable and welcomed, in true Italian style.

Food was tasty, if a little expensive.  The pizza was delicious and next time I would like to try some of the other types available, and perhaps a pasta dish as well.

I will be returning and I would recommend this place to locals looking for a great venue for a date night or family gathering (there is also a large function space at the back of the restaurant!).

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 9
  • Food-  7.5
  • Ambience-  7.5
  • Value – 7.5

TCFB and MC dined as guests of The Sicilian, thanks to Ms Gomesz.

Sicilian on Urbanspoon

Max Brenner, Parramatta ($)

Address: 159-175 Church St Parramatta NSW

Tel: (02) 9635 7566

Website: http://www.maxbrenner.com.au/m/locations/parramatta.html

* * *

We all know I’m a big fan of chocolate.

And it is no surprise that MaxB is my favourite chocolate shop of them all.

So of course, after watching the Roosters play the Eels in Parramatta, I suggested that we head over to MB for some good ol’ chocoloving!

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MC and I at the game

On a Friday night, Parramatta is always pretty busy. As the main town area in the West, it is full of western Sydney siders keen for a drink, a meal or a movie (at Parra Westfields).

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Some of us went for the Eels others the Roosters!

After the game, we walked over to MaxB and we were all keen for something warm and sweet to heat us up after the chilly walk.

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MDS was excited to meet Roosters player Jared Warea- Hargreaves

I decided to go with the banana crepes which were up to the usual MaxB standard (which is: awesomeness).

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MDS ordered the chocolate lick, Dino (my cuz) ordered the hot chocolate with crunchy waffle balls, and The Incredible Hulk (:p) ordered the chocolate souffle.

Unfortunately the hot chocolate MC ordered was below par. It was too thick and dense and not like the hot chocolates I am used to at MaxB. I think it was made of cream rather than thick chocolate and a little milk. Very disappointing.

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Nonetheless we all enjoyed the chocolate hit and a warm place to chat in before making our way home!
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Noodlebox, Parramatta ($)

Address: Level 1, Westfield Parramatta, Food Court, Parramatta, NSW

Tel: (02) 9687 0116

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Atmosphere

Noodlebox is conveniently located in Westfield Parramatta. It is close to Event Cinemas and Max Brenner, making it easy to get to, and the shopping centre’s 3 hours free parking is an added advantage.

Unfortunately on a Saturday night, despite the movies being packed, Noodlebox was pretty dull. Most people were probably at one of Church Street’s busy restaurants or at the Parramatta Eels game which was being played nearby.

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Service

Service wasn’t great. In fact we barely had any service. The waiter came, took our order, delivered it and we paid at the counter. That’s it really.

Food

I ordered my favourite, Cashew Chicken with steamed rice. This dish was tasty, hot, slightly sweet from the sweet chilli sauce and baby corn, and a little spicy. The cashews were crunchy and roasted, the chicken well-cooked, and the veggies crunchy. One of the better Cashew Chickens I have had.

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MC ordered the Beef Pad Thai. There was plenty of browned beef and crunchy bean sprouts. The noodles were tasty and slightly charred (just the way I like it), an the beans, onions and nuts added some crunchy to the soft noodles. Delicious.

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Overall, a pretty good meal for two for only $25! Great value and good, hot food.

Cost:

Overall both our meals cost $25.00 all up.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-3
  • Food-7.5
  • Ambience-4
  • Value –8

Spice Gourmet Thai, Parramatta ($)

Address: Shop 1, 71 George Street, Parramatta NSW

Tel: (02) 9635 9666

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

* * *

Saturday night date night led MC and I to try out Spice Gourmet Thai. I had a Cudo voucher to check it out but it had been sitting in my room for months, waiting for an opportunity to go to Parra.

The voucher was about to expire but luckily Saturday afforded us an opportunity to head over to Parramatta and try it out. Although the voucher said to email a booking to them 24 hours before using the voucher, MC simply called them at 6.00pm and made a reservation for 7.30pm.

Atmosphere

Spice Gourmet Thai is located near the infamous ROXY Hotel on George Street Parramatta. It is close to Temasek, another popular restaurant in this part of the town.

The atmosphere inside wasn’t very exciting or loud, as you would find in a restaurant in the city or Darling Harbour. The crowd was mainly middle-aged people looking for a quiet dinner and although there were quite a few customers, it wasn’t noisy at all.

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Dried chillis and rice grains under the glass lid of the table

Service

Service was average. The staff didn’t speak very good English but we still managed to get our requests across with a little pointing at the menu!

They were polite but not overly friendly and food service was quite prompt. They did however take our drinks to the wrong table, and then had to bring them over to us (hehe!).

Food

The voucher entitled us to try two entrees, two mains and two desserts. We paid for rice and drinks.

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For entrees we decided to each order the Medley of Appetisers so we could try a bit of each option on the menu. The Medley contained one each of: gai tod (fried spicy chicken), vegetarian spring roll, curry puff, satay chicken skewer and fish cake. However we didn’t get a fish cake at all which I didn’t realise until I got home and re read the menu!

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Medley of Appetisers, $9.90

The gai tod was surprisingly nice despite its dry looking skin. The chicken inside was well-cooked and very soft and the skin was flavoursome and crispy.

The spring roll was crunchy and great with the clear sweet sauce. Although I’m not a huge mushroom fan, this spring roll had just the right amount to liven up the vegetables without being too overpowering.

The curry puffs were delicious, with a light and flaky pastry and soft, spicy filling. Delicious!

FInally, the chicken skewers, well-cooked and charred on the outside with a creamy sauce over the top. I thought the sauce had a little too much coconut cream or milk in it and would have preferred a less creamy (more peanutty) sauce.

For mains we decided to order the Massaman Beef Curry. This dish consisted of braised chunky beef pieces in a thick mild curry sauce with baby potatoes, fried onion and peanut. Although MC and I really enjoyed this curry, it was a little too creamy for my liking. Other Massaman curries I have had have been less creamy and a little spicier. Overall though, the beef was tender and soft, the potatoes added some depth and the peanuts contributed crunch. A great dish!

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Massaman Beef Curry, $15.90

We also ordered the Chilli and Lemongrass Sauce with chicken. This was a dish of stir-fried pieces of chicken, broccoli, lemongrass, red onion, garlic, carrots and chilli.

The dish was colourful and vibrant and there was a very large portion of it. By this point we were starting to get really full and I think one main or one entree to share would have been plenty for us. Although the chicken and vegetables were well-cooked, the sauce itself was lacking in flavour and, apart from the smell of the lemongrass, you could not really taste the chilli and lemongrass.

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Chilli and Lemongrass Chicken, $15.90

For dessert, I ordered the Black Sticky Rice with Thai Custard and MC ordered the  Vanilla Ice-Cream with Coconut Milk and Toasted Coconut.

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Black Sticky Rice with Thai Custard, $6.90 (sorry for the poor quality photo, I was a little excited to try this dish :p)

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Vanilla Ice-Cream with Coconut Milk and Toasted Coconut (can’t remember the price?)

The presentation of the sticky rice was quite poor. It would have looked much better in the bowl that the ice cream was presented in or shaped into a cute little mound in a rice cup.

When I tasted the rice, I expected it to be like “kiri bath”, a Sri Lankan coconut rice dish. However the dish was quite glutinous and the black rice had a strong, starchy flavour which I didn’t exactly like. The custard was alright but the mustard colour was a little off putting. Happily though, MC did like it, and he swapped his ice cream with me for the rice.

The ice cream was just vanilla, but the addition of coconut milk and toasted coconut made it creamier and slightly crunchy -yum!

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

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

Spice Gourmet Thai on Urbanspoon

Twelve Spices Lao & Thai Cuisine, Canley Heights ($$)

Address: 197 St Johns Road, Canley Heights NSW

Tel: (02) 9609 6212 ‎

Website: http://twelvespices.tumblr.com/

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It’s not very often that I venture out to restaurants in the West so I thought it was about time that I reviewed one for my The Casual Food Blogger readers who live in the area.

I have heard a lot of good things about this restaurant and seen quite a few friends post up photos of the delicious dishes they have enjoyed here.

Atmosphere

The restaurant is located between a few shops on a small but busy road in Canley Heights. None of the other shops surrounding the restaurant were open on the  night MC and I visited (a Friday night), but the restaurant was still very busy.

The interior was nicely decorated with down lights and lanterns, and the fact that it was full added to the buzzing atmosphere.

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Service

We had rung up earlier and been told that they didn’t accept bookings. We decided to go there anyway and see if we could get a table.

When we got to the restaurant it was about 9.00pm and we were hoping that because we were so late we wouldn’t have a problem getting in Unfortunately the restaurant was packed out and there were a few couples ahead of us waiting for a table as well.

We were told that they closed at 10.00pm and the kitchen closes at 9.30pm. We decided to wait anyway and see if we could get in. Luckily it wasn’t long before the helpful waiter ushered us in. He quickly gave us a few menus and informed us that we had 15 minutes to order before the kitchen closed.

We quickly placed our orders -a difficult task for someone who is indecisive!

Throughout the night the service was great. Despite the restaurant being busy we were always able to get their attention and they were friendly and helpful whenever we did.

Food

MC had a coke and I had a passionfruit fruit shake, which was delicious and refreshing on such a hot day! They were served in cute jars which we thought was a nice touch as it was both environmentally friendly and unique!

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We decided to order a few dishes to go with steamed rice.

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I am a huge seafood fan and love soft shell crab so we ordered the Soft Shell Crab with Green Apple and Green Mango salad with Cashew Nuts. I was pleased to find that there was a large serving of the crab, which is quite uncommon due to the high cost of crabs. It was also very crunchy and I enjoyed the textures of the crunchy exterior and soft inside. The salad was tasty and delicious, but I thought it was a little too salty for my liking, probably due to the fish sauce. Would have preferred a sweeter salad to go with it, but overall an enjoyable dish!

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We also ordered the Chicken Choo Chee Curry, another favourite of mine. I usually have the Choo Chee Prawns but we decided to go for chicken this time as we had already chosen other dishes with seafood in them. The chicken dish was creamy and the sauce was as good as any sauce I have had before. The dish was a little smaller than the others but as we had ordered so much, we didn’t manage to finish it all anyway.

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For something fresh, we went with the Prawn Salad which was basically prawns with a salad similar to that in the Soft Shell Crab. Unlike other prawn dishes I have ordered before, this dish had a good amount of prawns for the both of us. The salad was tasty and delicious, and was the perfect combination of the typical Thai and Laotian flavours of sweet, salty, sour and spicy. It was also very colourful and appealing to look at.

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Finally, we ordered the Pork Sausages with Nam Jim, a sauce made of fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, and chilli pieces. The sausages were cooked just the way I like them, crunchy and brown on the outside and moist on the inside. The seasoning and spices were just right and the sauce was the perfect complement to lift this dish to the next level. Absolutely loved this dish, one of my favourites!

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Overall a fantastic meal. Great service and good atmosphere. Food was delicious, came out of the kitchen quickly and had good portion sizes. I only wish there was one closer to me!

Cost:

The meal came to about $70 all up and we had about a dish worth of food left over too, so we could have ordered one dish less and still been satisfied!

Rating:

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

    • Service- 8.5
    • Food- 8.5
    • Ambience- 8.5
    • Value – 8

Twelve Spices Lao & Thai Cusine on Urbanspoon

Wow Cow, Parramatta

Address: Phillip Street, Parramatta NSW

Tel: (02) 9635 6499

* * *

After dinner at Temasek, I asked MC to drop me off at WowCow for some dessert. He ended up having to drive around the block three times before I was ready to be picked up with my WowCow.

I’ve been to Noggi and Moochi before and although they are all pretty much the same thing, I wanted to try this one as well.

I ordered a mango frozen yoghurt (medium) with mango pearls, strawberry and passionfruit.

Service was great but I would warn you to bring cash as they don’t accept cards.

The medium size was pretty big -it should be called large- so I got MC to share with me to finish it off. We were both so full at the end though, especially after our Malaysian dinner.

The strawberry and passionfruit gave the dessert a delicious tang which I really enjoy in my ice cream and yoghurt. The mango pearls, which I expected to have the texture of Easyway pearls, were actually more like roe (fish eggs) than pearls. They weren’t chewy, but rather, burst in your mouth once you bit into them. They tasted good though as the mango was sweet and refreshing.

Overall a good experience and I would return there again as frozen yoghurt is my new favourite “healthy” movie snack!

Wowcow Parramatta on Urbanspoon

Temasek, Parramatta ($$)

Address: 71 George St, Parramatta, NSW

Tel: (02) 9633 9926

* * *

I have decided to take a leaf out of NQN’s book and name some of my more regular dining companions to make my job easier when writing posts. My boyfriend has decided on the name MC.

Last night MC and I decided on a bit of an impromptu movie night and some dinner in Parramatta.

On the way to our chosen restaurant, Temasek, we saw this:

Wondering what was going on we decided to move in a little closer and asked the workers what was happening. We were told that filming for Wolverine was taking place! We noticed that some of the signs had been changed to look like an Asian town and we saw a few cars being filmed driving by, but other than that there wasn’t anything overly exciting happening!

It is pretty cool though that a a blockbuster featuring Hugh Jackman will be filmed (partially) in Parramatta! It’ll be interesting to watch the movie when it comes out and see if we can recognise the set!

So we got to Temasek and despite our lack of a reservation and the fact that the restaurant was pretty busy we were able to get a table for two. We were however asked to finish our meal within an hour. We thought this was easily manageable as we were planning to watch a movie afterwards anyway.

Atmosphere

I have been to Temasek once before, but it was a while ago. The restaurant is often busy, being one of the more popular Malaysian restaurants in the West, if not in Sydney. Although it has a plain interior, the chatter of customers and the clinking of cutlery on plates gives it an authentic feel, as though it has been approved by the Malaysian and non-Malaysian customers eating there.

We were seated next to a table of three middle aged men and one of them was talking SO loudly that he was practically yelling. I overheard some racist comments about the people he deals with regarding a property of his, and some matter-of-fact observations about the wait staff at the restaurant. He yelled “OI” loudly at the waiters to get their attention and told them in a rude manner that they were bringing his food out in the wrong order. When the staff left with the rejected food he told his friends “that’s how you have to treat them to get them to give you good service.” I was absolutely disgusted at his behaviour and wouldn’t at all have been surprised if they had spat in his food or something (although I don’t condone such behaviour). Although I anticipated that this might ruin our meal, he seemed to quieten down a bit when the food came out.

Food

We decided on three dishes to share between the two of us.

First out was the Haianese Chicken Rice which I have wanted to try for a while. This is a Singaporean dish of poached ginger chicken with stock infused rice served with various sauces. The chicken was deliciously moist and soft, and generally well-cooked except for a tiny part in one of my pieces of chicken which was a little too pink for my liking (you have to be careful with chicken!). The ginger flavour was quite noticeable, especially in the rice which was fragrant and moreish, and the sauces added a little extra kick to a dish which compared to other Asian dishes, is quite bland. Overall a great dish.

Next out was the Singapore Chilli King Prawns which we ordered medium. There were plenty of prawns and the sauce was thick and eggy. The prawns were cooked well, and were quite large- as King Prawns should be. The portions were quite big although I would have liked to see more cucumber or vegetables to garnish the plates and make them more presentable.

There was so much of our next dish, the Satay Beef, that we were unable to finish it. The sauce was nutty and had a delicious crunch to it and there was plenty of beef in the dish as well. Again, would have liked to see more vegetables to add some colour to the dish.

The Roti Canai that we ate the satay beef with was crispy and flaky. It would also have gone well with a spicier dish or curry or a beef rendang.

Cost:

Overall a good meal with very reasonable prices and good portion sizes. Cost us about $65.00 all up.

Rating:

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

    • Service- 6.5
    • Food- 7.5
    • Ambience- 7
    • Value – 8

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