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

Red Spoon Thai, Castle Hill ($$)

Address: Level Piazza, Shop 7, 6-14 Castle Street, Castle Hill, NSW

Tel: (02) 9899 5669

Email: castlehill@redspoonthai.com

Website: http://www.redspoonthai.com/castle-hill/

* * *

Atmosphere

This chic Thai restaurant is full of elegant wooden furniture, carved screens and rich, deep colours.

The half open kitchen adds some excitement and noise to the restaurant, giving it a more lively atmosphere and outside, patio heaters keep diners warm in winter and the fountain nearby keeps them feeling cool in summer!

Service

We were late for dinner, arriving at about 8.00pm, but I was still surprised that we only had to wait 5 minutes to get a table for 6 on a Friday night.  The place was packed out!

The service throughout our meal was pretty good. At one point the waitress took our steamed rice away and we were left wondering why (as we hadn’t finished eating yet). However, she soon returned with a bowl of refilled steaming hot rice. It would have been nice if she had told us what she was doing first though! Overall staff were efficient, friendly and pleasant.

1 Food

We decided to order 5 curries and steamed rice.

We went with 2 x Massamun Beef, a Crying Tiger Beef dish, Chilli Basil Prawns and Panang Chicken Curry. The Massamun beef was divine. Delicious tender beef, falling apart when gently pushed with a fork. Creamy, spicy curry and crunchy nuts with starchy potatoes. 5 The Crying Tiger was a great novel dish, not one of the typical Thai dishes (red curry, green curry, pad thai). Soft beef strips, slightly pink in the centre and thinly sliced to perfection. The sauce was fishy, salty and slightly spicy- delicious! 3 The Chilli Basil prawn was quite disappointing. The basil flavour was not very strong and there weren’t enough prawns in the dish- a bit unfortunate as I LOVE prawns! 4 The Panang was also not so great. Although it was creamy and sweet, the sauce wasn’t as rich as other Panang Curries I have had before. There was also an insufficient amount of chicken in this dish as well. 6 Overall, not a bad restaurant. Food is pretty good (esp the Massamun and Crying Tiger), service is standard and the atmosphere is great.

Cost

The meal came to $132 all up, including drinks.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

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

Red Spoon Castle Hill on Urbanspoon

Khao Pla, Chatswood ($$)

Address: 7/370-374 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW

Tel: (02) 9412 4978

Website: http://www.facebook.com/KhaoPla

* * *

One evening MC and I headed to Chatswood to watch a movie at Hoyts Westfields.

Our movie was due to start in about 20 minutes but we still hadn’t had dinner yet.

We were pretty hungry so, after a quick walk outside Chatswood Westfields to see what was available, we discovered Khao Pla, and decided to try it out.

We figured that the movie wouldn’t start until about 20-30 minutes after the set time due to ads.

Atmosphere

When we walked in, the restaurant was already about two thirds full.

People were chatting away enjoying their meals and staff were zig-zagging between the tables, taking dishes to and from the kitchen.

We were soon greeted by a waitress and led to a small table by the very cool printed wall. The wall features photos of various scenes from Asia and adds a funky look to the restaurant.

The decor in Khao Pla is quite modern and I felt that the restaurant was a funky addition to Chatswood which, I feel, has quite a lot of traditional-styled Chinese restaurants.

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Service

Service was pretty good. Considering we had about 30 minutes to get in, order, eat, pay and get out, we were pleased that we managed to get our food with enough time to gobble it down and still make it to the movie in time.

Despite us having to bother the waitress every 5 minutes about how long our food would take, staff were always friendly and polite.

Food

Chef Pla Rajoratanavichai, the owner of Khao Pla, has worked at restaurants including Ms G’s, Spice I Am and Mr Wong. He has now started his own restaurant and made his mark on the North Shore in a big way.

I found the food at Khao Pla equivalent to what I have had at Spice I Am, Mr Wong and Ms G’s, but the service and atmosphere was even better as we did not have to wait long for food or a table.

MC and I were excited to try the food and ordered a couple of dishes to share.

First up was steamed rice, served per person on beautiful black plates.

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Steamed Rice, $2.50

We chose the option of the Chicken Gaeng Panang Curry as Panang has been one of our favourites since we first tried it at Arawan Thai in Ryde.

This curry was rich and creamy, quite spicy and had a strong lemongrass flavour.

We both really enjoyed the dish and I think this will be a fall back that we will go back to again and again.

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Chicken Gaeng Panang

We also ordered a Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab dish.

Being a seafood lover, Soft Shell Crab is one of my favourites. It is a great way to eat crab without the difficulty of getting the meat out of the shell.

This Crab was delicious. Unlike some other restaurants where you get a smaller serving for seafood than chicken, beef, pork or lamb, this serving was large and generous, especially considering the price!

The batter was crunchy and delicious, the seasoning spot on. I loved this soft shell crab and again, I will be back for more!

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Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab

Overall, MC and I had a great time at this restaurant and enjoyed the delicious food, funky atmosphere and friendly service.

I would highly recommend this place to anyone looking for a good Thai meal on the North Shore.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

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

Khao Pla on Urbanspoon

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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

* * *

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!

Thairiffic, Westfield Sydney, CBD ($)

Address: Westfield Sydney, Level 5, 188 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 8246 7018

Website: http://thairifficnoodlebar.com.au/trnb-westfield-sydney/

* * *

Atmosphere

As it is located in Westfield Sydney, Thairiffic is extremely busy on weekdays, especially at lunch time.

The noisy crowd, combined with the vibrating buzzers and the sizzling sounds coming out of the kitchen make for a pretty exciting environment.

Unfortunately, Thairiffic only has limited seating so the rest of the seating is in the food court, where my friend and I sat.

The atmosphere in the food court was not very exciting and it was quite difficult to find a seat. When we did find a seat, people would sort of swarm around us whenever one of us got up to get a napkin or when we touched our bags, in the hope that we were going to leave.

That said, if you go onto their website you will see that the actual seating area in the shop is quite nice and the warm reddy-pink colours make it feel quite inviting, especially on this particular gloomy day.

Service

Service was pretty minimal as we simply ordered at the counter and were given a buzzer to collect our food when it was ready.

Food

I ordered the Chilli Basil Chicken with Flat Noodles.

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Chilli Basil Chicken with Flat Noodles, $13.50

I was pleased to see a large serving on the plate with plenty of colours: green, red and browns, and lots of chicken and vegetables. The dish was visually pleasing and made my mouth water just looking at it as I was starving!

Taste-wise, it was great. Pretty spicy, but then again it was chilli basil. There was a strong basil flavour, with plenty of dried basil leaves and the noodles had a sheen of oil on them which made them slippery and easy to eat. The chicken was well cooked and the sprouts and snow peas added some crunch.

A very enjoyable dish, and I polished it all off!

Cost

The meal cost $13.50.

As Thairiffic only accepts cash, and I only had $13.20 in cash, I had to borrow $0.30 from a friend!

I found that quite a few of the food outlets in Westfields only accept cash so that is something which is a little inconvenient for those who don’t have any!

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 2
  • Food- 8
  • Ambience- 7
  • Value – 7

For my review of Thairiffic Double Bay, see here.

Thai Riffic Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

At Bangkok Thai, Haymarket ($$)

Address: Passionflower 730-742 George Street, Haymarket NSW

Tel: (02) 9211 5232

Website: http://www.atbangkok.com.au/

* * *

Atmosphere

This nicely decorated little restaurant is located in Capitol Square, right next door to the Capitol Theatre in bustling chinatown.

1

The restaurant was pretty crowded and was quite full, probably because of the musical running next door. 

MDS, Nicole and I decided to check it out before we went to watch The Addams Family musical. We hadn’t made a booking but were quickly seated on some cushioned orange stools on one side of the restaurant. 

2

Service

Service was not that great. The wait staff were friendly and helpful when we asked them for anything but the food was very slow out of the kitchen. We arrived there at about 6.30 and hoped to leave by 7.30 as the show was to start at 8.00pm. Unfortunately we only received our meals at around 7.15pm so we had to delay leaving for 7.45pm.

Drinks

For drinks, MDS, Nicole and I shared two Rekorderlig Mango & Raspberry ciders. At $11 each, they were quite pricey compared to the other drinks on offer, but were plenty for the three of us as each bottle is 500mL.

Food

We decided to go with the cigar wontons with crab meat, pork, mushroom and carrot. The wontons were served with a wasabi mayonnaise.

The wontons were crispy and golden, perfectly cooked and delicious to eat. The crab meat and pork was quite a strong flavour and ensured that the dish was not bland.

The star of the dish was the wasabi mayonnaise which took the dish to the next level. It wasn’t too hot or tangy. It was the perfect amount of wasabi to complement the strong pork and crab meat flavours.

A fantastic entree and something different from the usual thai samosas, spring rolls and chicken skewers.

4

We also ordered some steamed rice, which was presented in a cute star shape- awesome! I am definitely going to look for this rice mould! The serving of rice was generous and plenty for me. In fact MDS and I probably could have shared one serving as we both left about half of our rice.

5

For mains we ordered Prawn & Pineapple Curry which we thought would be sweet and soothing. Boy were we wrong! This curry is a firey devil disguised as a red curry. The gravy was so hot we could barely eat it and MDS and I ended up eating only the prawns and pineapple. Waaaayyy too hot for my liking! Some sort of spice guide on the menu would have been helpful. If there was one, we didn’t notice it!

6

The pork belly with steamed asian greens was delicious. The pork was soft and quite plentiful for the two of us who shared the dish. The crackling was perfectly crunchy and well seasoned. The steamed veggies were fresh and light, a perfect balance against the heavy, fatty pork. A great dish!

7

 

Other dishes I have tried on subsequent visits included:

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Ice Tea

20140130_183220Crab Fried Rice

 

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Cashew Chicken

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Massaman Beef

Summary

Overall, I enjoyed the food at this restaurant. Next time I will go for less spicy foods though as that prawn and pineapple curry was a killer.

Service was pretty slow but waiters were friendly and polite, and the atmosphere was great for a Thursday night, although probably partly due to the Capitol Theatre next door.

Cost

MDS and I paid $30 each for meals and drinks.

Rating:

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

  • Service- 5
  • Food- 7
  • Ambience- 7
  • Value – 6.75

@ Bangkok on Urbanspoon

Wagamama, TGV Sydney ($$)

Address: The Galeries Victoria/500 George St, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9261 0292

Website: http://www.wagamama.com.au/

* * *

Wagamama first opened in London’s Bloomsbury in the early ’90s and has since grown to over 90 stores across the world.

The name “wagamama” means “naughty child”, or one who is willful and determined., and the word “determined” is certainly one way to describe founder, Mr Alan Yau, who founded the chain along with restaurants Hakkasan and Yauatcha, which both have been awarded 1 Michelin star.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere at Wagamama is that of a Japanese -styled noodle bar and in fact, this is what Wagamama is modelled on.

The kitchen is open and the sleek wood and large glass windows give the space that modern yet traditional feel that is very Japanese.

The paper place mats serve as seating markers, place mats and a place for waiters to write orders so staff know where to deliver them. It is a cool idea which disposes of the need for tablecloths and table numbers.

Service

Service was nothing to rave about. While MDS and I were promptly seated and our orders were taken quickly, there was no friendliness about the service. It was pure efficiency that brought our food out and took our plates away.

At the end of our meal we weren’t sure whether to call a waitress or go to the counter.

We ended up going to the counter and asking a waitress which table we were (41).

Drinks

MDS and I decided to order some juices to start.

I went with a pineapple, watermelon and apple juice and MDS ordered a kiwi, and apple juice.

1

Pineapple, watermelon and apple juice

2

Kiwi and apple juice

Food

For food, I ordered the Cha Han, a chicken and prawn fried rice with peas, spring onions, corn\, egg and mushrooms. The dish was slightly oily, contained a generous serve of prawns and chicken, was well seasoned and tasty. I really enjoyed the dish and have craved it a few times since. A great replacement for the typical Chinese fried rice!

The dish came with a side of various pickles which added some colour and made the rice a little more interesting.  I’m not exactly sure what all the pickles were but if someone can tell me please comment below! ( I think one was cucumber?).

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Cha Han

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Pickles

MDS was tossing up between Yaki Soba and Teriyaki Raisu. After I explained that Yaki Soba was noodles and Teriyaki Raisu was rice and suggested Teriyaki Soba as a way to combine the best of both, she went with that option.

The dish was well presented and although difficult for MDS to eat with chopsticks, had a generous portion size. However, MDS did mention that she thought there should have been some more beef on the plate.

4

Overall, both dishes looked tempting, were made quickly and delivered hot to the table and were full of flavour.

We enjoyed our dining experience and the interesting menu which was different from our usual Thai or Chinese foods.

I’d definitely return here again and would recommend it to friends!

Cost

All up our meals were about $25 pp including drinks.

Rating:

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

  • Service- 5.5
  • Food-  8
  • Ambience- 7
  • Value – 8

Wagamama - The Galeries Victoria on Urbanspoon