Night Noodle Markets 2013, Hyde Park Sydney

Address: Hyde Park North, Sydney NSW

Website: http://sydney.goodfoodmonth.com/nightnoodlemarkets

Opening Hours:

October 9-12, 14-19, 21-26

Mon-Tue 5-9pm; Wed 5-10pm; Thur-Fri 5-11pm; Sat 4-10pm

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Currently in its 15th year, the Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park attracts about 200,000 people each year.

With over 40 delicious food stalls, which are mostly Asian, the Night Markets is a great way to enjoy the beautiful Spring weather with a drink and a quick and cheap meal with friends in beautiful Hyde Park.

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Rekorderlig Cider invited me down to the markets to enjoy a drink at their beer garden.

A short stroll from Darlinghurst, Chinatown, Circular Quay and the city centre, it didn’t take me long to walk up after work, and when I got there (around 5.45pm), the place was already starting to fill up.

I was impressed by Rekorderlig’s chilled out set up with a “May pole” covered in green vines and flowers, beautiful fairy lights, quirky white trees on the tables and funky tunes coming from the (very young looking) DJ. 

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Rekorderlig stall by day

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Rekorderlig stall at night

The signature red and white chairs, seen at previous Rekorderlig stalls, looked comfortable and inviting and provided a great spot from which to sit back and people watch.

We ordered some drinks from the bar in the tent near the beer garden.

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The staff were friendly despite the fact that they were probably dying from the heat that day as it was about 30 degrees in Sydney!

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I ordered the Mango Raspberry cider, one of my favourites!

As always, it was ice cold, perfect for the hot summer day. This flavour is one of my favourites so I really enjoyed the fresh, crisp taste.

In some interesting news, I learnt that one of the favourites, Strawberry Lime Cider is now on tap and will be heading out to bars across town soon!

I also got the scoop on some exciting new developments next week- stay tuned for more information!

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After checking out the Rekorderlig beer garden I met up with my lovely mum and we walked around the rest of the markets, looking at our options for dinner.

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The place was packed out and the background music, Chinese dragon shows and buzz of happy people chatting in the park made for an exciting and fun environment.

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The Night Noodle Markets are definitely a good place to take friends from overseas to, to showcase Sydney’s multiculturalism, or to enjoy a good meal after work from some of Sydney’s most popular Asian restaurants.

Some of the restaurants with stalls included East Ocean, Din Tai Fung, Jackie M Malaysian, Longrain and Zilver.

The Jackie M stall even has Ms M herself cooking at the front of the stall!

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After a bit of walking around, I decided on a delicious box of fried goodness from East Ocean ($12.00). It included pork ribs, salt and pepper octopus and delicious prawns.

The ribs were soft and delicious, easy to eat and tender with a tomato and BBQ styled sauce.

While I am not a big fan of octopus (I don’t like the tentacles). I didn’t mind this as the thicker parts at the top were easy to eat and the fact that it was fried meant I didn’t notice the suckers on the tentacles as much!  🙂

The prawns were well cooked through and were great with the hot chilli sauce.

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Mum decided to get a chicken curry with yellow rice from Chinta Ria, which she said reminded her of Sri Lankan biriyani.

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The chicken pieces were well-cooked and had absorbed the delicious spices from the curry. They were good pieces of chicken with plenty of meat on them.  The yellow rice was gently flavoured and had a slight sweetness from the sultanas.

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We both enjoyed our meals and had a great time out.

I will definitely be returning to try out some of the other foods available, perhaps even the Ramen Burger!

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Flaming Tandoori, Willoughby ($$)

Address: 531 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby NSW

Tel: (02) 9958 8544

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

Opening Hours: Dinner 7 nights a week from 5.00pm

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Groupon

I was approached by Groupon with a voucher to use towards reviewing one of the restaurants offering a deal on it’s site.

I chose a deal for a six-person “All-You-Can-Eat Indian Feast with Wine” in Willoughby, which came to $69.00 (excellent value, I thought).

The main reason that I chose this deal was due to its location in the North Shore, which made it easy for me to visit.

The Restaurant

Atmosphere

The restaurant is conveniently located on Willoughby Road, one of the main roads in the area. It was pretty easy to find and, as we went after 6.00pm, roadside parking was free.

From the outside the restaurant looks like a typical Indian restaurant. Upon entering, the decor is quite dated, with some framed sari-like material hanging on the walls, and stereotypical beaded cushions. I did, however, like the wooden framed mirror with window “flaps” and the two wooden elephant tusks hanging on the wall, which were beautiful and probably should have been given more prominence.

Service

When I tried to book the restaurant a week earlier, I found that there was no way to get through to them via phone, unless it was after 5.00pm when they open for dinner. This seems like a sure-fire way to lose business as, if I didn’t have a voucher, I would have just called another restaurant instead.

I ended up making a reservation via their website. When I did get a call back, the person on the phone was friendly and polite.

At the restaurant there were only two other tables with two people seated at each one. My parents, brother, friend, MC & I were greeted by a waiter who seemed not to care too much whether we were there or not. I told him that we had a reservation and showed him my Groupon voucher and he waved us over to a table on the side.

The table had stools around it which were against the wall on one side, with the beaded cushions propped up against the wall. When my parents, who were seated on the other side of the table, asked for seats with back support, the waiter told them that they couldn’t swap the seats as they “would need the chairs if other customers came in.” I thought this was ridiculous as it was clear that the restaurant was not busy and it was unlikely that anyone else would come in that night. No one else did come in that night while we were there. My parents ended up sitting on the side with the cushions and leaning against the wall.

We were offered a choice of red or white wine, included in the deal. My parents chose red and MC and I chose white. The red wine came from an unopened bottle while the white was from an opened one and tasted a little vinegary. We ordered soft drinks for my brother and friend, at our own cost.

I asked how the “all-you-can eat” worked and the waiter informed us that we would get pappadums first then an entree then mains. He told us that rice and naans were not included, and that we could select up to 12 serves of the dishes in the banquet menu (there were only 6 choices available).

I thought this sounded odd as I probably wouldn’t have purchased a deal that didn’t include rice and naans, so I checked the Groupon website and found that it said “all dishes are accompanied with a bed of rice and naan or roti.” I also noted that “all-you-can’eat” does not mean “all-you-can-eat-to-a-maximum-of-12-serves”.

I ended up showing the waiter the webpage and he agreed that naans and rice should be included. He did not agree that it was all you can eat and said the deal stated “up to x value” next to it and this equated to 12 serves. I told him that I did not agree with that argument as other deals I have purchased have said “up to x value” but this means that you are getting a deal worth x for a lower price. Anyway, we agreed to accept this.

Note: I also found later that the deal said we could choose from butter chicken, rogan josh lamb and beef korma, spicy vindaloo dishes with a choice of meat, prawns marinated in a sweet chilli and garlic sauce or coconut fish fillets, or a selection of vegetarian dishes. The menu we were given to choose from did not have as much variety. 

Food

The meal started off with some pappadums -only 5 despite the fact that there were 6 of us. They were a little stale as well and had lost some of their crunch. To improve, they should make the pappadums fresh and serve them generously- especially as they barely cost anything.

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Zoomed in photo of a pappadum so you can (sort of) see the cumin seeds

Next we decided on the samosas. They came out on a bed of lettuce and the presentation could have done with a little more colour (perhaps some carrot, slices of cucumber and tomato wedges?). They were however, a good size, the pasty was nice and the filling, quite tasty. They were accompanied by a mint raita which was a beautiful green colour. I would have preferred the raita to be colder and more chilled as it is a dairy product, but that is a minor suggestion. Overall the samosas were very enjoyable.

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Samosas, 2 for $6.90

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Raita

The rice (2 plates) and naan (1 basket) were served (no roti), and we were pleased with the amount of each serving. The rice was soft and warm and the naans were delicious and garlicky. We later ordered one more serving of rice (for the bro).

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Rice, $2.00 per serve

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Naan- garlic $2.50 each and plain $2.00 each

For mains we were given a choice of butter chicken, beef korma, lamb rogan josh, garlic scallops, vegetable korma and one other veggie dish which I can’t recall the name of.

To start off we ordered one of each dish to try them out. When they came out, we found that they were quite small portions of each dish, and some had a lot of gravy but little meat.  Some of the dishes took a while to come out and the waiter told us they only had three burners operating in the kitchen, which is ridiculous for a restaurant- we have four at home!

The butter chicken was delicious and we ended up ordering 4 serves of it all up. My brother is a HUUUGE butter chicken fan and ate about 3 serves himself. He noticed that the third and fourth serves were a darker colour than the first and second serves, and that these darker coloured butter chicken dishes were more flavoursome. We all agreed however that the butter chicken was very good, generally.

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Butter Chicken, $16.90

Next was beef korma, It was cooked in a mild sauce which was creamy and rich, as Indian food should be. The beef was soft and tender. We ordered 2 serves of this

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Beef Korma, $16.90

The lamb rogan josh was quite spicy and contained some capsicum (which I really like in a curry). I struggled to eat much of it as it was very hot, but my parents really enjoyed it.

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Lamb Rogan Josh, $16.90

The scallops. The sauce in this dish had a nice garlicky flavour, but was less creamy than the other dishes. It contained scallops and mushroom. Unfortunately the scallops were overcooked as they were hard and chewy. This made them difficult to eat, but if cooked properly this would have been a nice dish.

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Scallops, $17.90

The vegetable korma was delicious. Creamy and tasty and with good-sized vegetables, it was a nice accompaniment to the meat dishes and had plenty of gravy.

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Vegetable Korma, $13.90

Finally, the other vegetable dish was a dry dish, with no gravy, However, it contained a good amount of spices and the addition of some fresh herbs and tomato.

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Vegetable dish, approx $12.90-$13.90

Overall, the food was quite tasty and enjoyable. Although the waiter was a little rude and not very accommodating at first, he later became friendlier and more helpful. We left there feeling satisfied with the food and content with the service despite the issues we had originally encountered. 

The restaurant could do with a slick of fresh paint to update the interior, perhaps some customer service training for the staff (the issue with the chairs was one I was particularly unhappy about), and a better answering machine/reservations system.

Food wise, they should make the pappadums fresh to order (it only takes a few seconds), work on the presentation of their entrees, and get some more burners so the food comes out faster.

Rating:

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

  • Service- 3.5
  • Food- 6.5
  • Ambience- 5
  • Value – 5

Flaming Tandoori on Urbanspoon

Curry Connection, Hornsby ($$)

Address: 27 Station Street Hornsby

Telephone: (02) 9477 3875/ (02) 9482 2521

Website: http://www.curryconnection.co

Very hungry after work on Friday night, and in the mood for something spicy, we decided to try Curry Connection, the Indian restaurant opposite the Hornsby Train Station.

From the outside, it is a bit of a hole in the wall type of place, located near the Railway Hotel.

However, once we entered the restaurant we found that it had a neat and pleasant look.

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Interior of the restaurant

We were greeted by a somewhat hesitant waiter who eventually asked if we would like a table. My first thought was ‘no, we’ll just sit on the floor’ but I noticed he was young and probably inexperienced so we just responded ‘yes’ and were shown a table by a large mirror (which I was glad to see was clean and had no dirty fingerprint marks on it!).

We were given menus and some crunchy papadums. The “Maharaja Banquet” looked good so we called the waiter over to place our order. I soon received my mango lassi and my fellow diner received his lemonade.

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Mango lassi, $3.50

The mango lassi was absolutely delicious but was a little thick and I think it would have been better (and easier to drink) if it was a little more liquid.

The Maharaja banquet comes with a mixed entree to share between two people, and consisted of:

  • 2 vegetable samosas
  • 2 pieces of chicken tikka
  • 2 barah kebabs
  • 2 large tandoori prawns
  • Mint raita

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Mixed Entree, $10.90 per person

The entree was great and very filling and we found ourselves a lot less hungry after this large entree, the lassi and the papadums.

For the mains we had selected a Mango Chicken Curry (mild), Palak Ghosht (medium-hot spinach lamb curry), Prawn Garlic Masala (medium-hot), and Navratan Korma (a mild vegetable curry). We received these dishes along with the naan bread, rice, raita and mango chutney that came with the banquet option.

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Main curries from $11.90-16.90 each, and Rice $1.00 per person

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Raita and Mango Chutney, $2.00 each

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Garlic and Plain Naan Bread, $2.90 each

The naans were yummy and soft and we quickly gobbled them up. The rice was cooked well and was a little sticky.

Although we were already starting to feel full we tried all the curries. I found that the medium curries were not hot at all -although I have a Sri Lankan background I am not very good with chilli- and the mild ones were delicious and easy to eat!

The Garlic Prawn was my favourite dish. I am a big fan of prawns and these were well cooked (not overcooked), and had a delicious garlicky flavour and aroma.

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Garlic Prawns, $16.90

The Mango Chicken was our “chicken option” which was meant to replace the usual butter chicken. Everyone loves butter chicken so we thought we would try something different. We were really happy with this choice as the mango chicken curry was just as creamy as the butter chicken, and was also a little sweet which counteracted the tangyness of the raita and the spiciness of the other curries.

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Mango Chicken, $13.90

The lamb (Palak Ghosht) was tender and soft. A classic Indian and Pakistani recipe, the spinach gives an unusual flavour which really complements the lamb, apart from also being very healthy. I enjoyed this dish with the garlic naan.Image

Palak Ghosht, $14.90

Finally, the Navratar Korma was a dish which featured the subtle flavours of yoghurt and almond. The Korma is always a crowd pleaser and this one, made with pumpkin, was no exception. Delicious and creamy, it went down well with the rice and was very enjoyable!

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Navratar Korma, $11.90

All in all the meal was great. Although the portions were quite small, they were enough for two people, and as we were already quite satisfied from the entree, drinks and papadums, there was plenty left over.

However, the meal was not over yet, and the waiter asked if we wanted dessert (of course! what kind of question is that?). We were served mango and pistachio kulfi, which as usual, was my favourite part of the meal. Kulfi is a frozen milk-based dessert, traditionally made by evaporating flavoured milk and then freezing it. Recently it has become common for double cream and condensed milk to be used in the dish as well. I highly recommend trying it – rose, pistachio and mango are some of the flavours I would suggest. This Kulfi was very refreshing and was the perfect end to a lovely meal.

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Mango and Pistachio Kulfi

Cost

The Maharajah Banquet costs $32.00 each.

Rating

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

  • Service- 5
  • Food- 6.5
  • Ambience- 6.5
  • Value – 8

The food was delicious and the Maharaja Banquet provided us with the opportunity to sample a wide variety of dishes. Service could be improved with a little more assertiveness on the part of the waiter, such as showing us to the table and greeting us when we entered, asking us what we wanted to drink, etc. However, overall the staff were all friendly and the waiter was polite and helpful whenever we asked him for something.
The restaurant was clean and well-maintained and the food was tasty, hot and satisfying.