Wok On Inn, The Rocks ($)

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

Tel: (02) 9247 8554

Website: http://www.wokoninn.com.au/

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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

Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine, Chinatown Sydney ($)

Address: 10A Dixon St Sydney, NSW

Tel: (02) 9426 4888

* * *

Atmosphere

SenoritaLay, FitnessFanatic and I caught up at a popular restaurant in Chinatown, Old Town.

Located towards the Town Hall side of Dixon Street, it is opposite N2 Extreme Gelato (perfect for dessert afterwards).

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SenoritaLay had been here before and had told us that it was pretty good.  Having done my research beforehand, I was looking forward to trying out the delicious BBQ Pork Buns and noodles on offer.

My first impression of Old Town was that it was a modern taken on a Chinese restaurant.  It was dimly lit, giving it an intimate feel, and had a glass cabinet of Asian sweets by the door and BBQ duck and pork hanging at the back of the restaurant.

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As I got there before the others, I took a seat at one of the wooden tables (sort of like picnic tables), and ordered a Coconut Mango with QQ Jelly drink.

The drink look interesting with a white, orange and red concoction at the bottom and a thick orange mango puree on top.

It was cold and refreshing, perfect for this particularly hot day, and I liked the mix of milky and chewy jelly at the bottom.

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Service

When the girls finally arrived, we had a look through the menu and found it a bit too difficult to decide on what to get.

Old Town has a lot of options to choose from, from yum cha style dishes to full plates of noodles, soups and stir-fries.

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We each chose one dish to try, and soon ordered our meals.

While service was not particularly friendly (perhaps due to the language barrier?), it was quite fast.

Our food came out quickly, although not all at once.

Food

First up were the delicious BBQ Pork Buns and Peking Duck Buns ($6.80 for two).

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The buns were soft, with that delicious almost uncooked dough that the Chinese seem to love so much.  The pork and duck was juicy and tender, well-presented and plentiful for the size of the buns.

The Green Beans came out next. With a delicious hit of spice, they were crunchy and fresh. Perfect to nibble on between bites of the other dishes.

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Following the beans, we had a cool pancake-style dumpling – basically dumplings with batter poured around a pan to give a cool shape.

The dumplings were moist and tender and the pancake was crispy and crunchy, giving a perfect contrast.

The dish was quite nice, but I did not enjoy the sauce which was a little too sour for my liking. A simple soy would have been great.

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We ordered the usual Steamed BBQ Pork Buns (my choice), and they did not disappoint.  There were three, perfect for sharing between our trio.

The buns were light and fluffy like clouds, and the filling was the typical sweet yet savoury BBQ pork mince. As always, I really enjoyed these Pork Buns and gobbled mine down!

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Finally, FitnessFanatic’s noodles came out.  They were seafood egg noodles with prawn, shallots, onion and cabbage.

They were very oily and slippery- quite difficult to eat with chopsticks, and weren’t very flavoursome.  Despite this, the serving was generous and the seafood was cooked through.

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Other dishes I have tried on subsequent occasions include:

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Peking Duck Pancakes

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BBQ Pork

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Steamed Greens

Summary

Overall, not a bad experience and would come here again to try out some of the other dishes. Pretty good value for money as the meal ended up costing each of us about $25.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 4.5
  • Food- 7
  • Ambience- 6
  • Value – 7.5

Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Korean Food (KoFoo), Sydney CBD ($)

Address: Shop G02, 35 – 39 Liverpool St, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9261 2465

Website:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Korean-Food-KOFOO/168063346673527

* * *

Atmosphere

Kiwi Kolleague and I decided to check out one of the local restaurants near our workplace. It was a gorgeous sunny day so we decided to head towards Darling Harbour and see what we could find.

On the way we noticed a Korean place with photos of interesting looking dishes displayed in the windows.

When took a seat in the middle of the cafe and were given menus and water.

The place has a pretty unique atmosphere. It’s a dark but funky spot with Korean music playing in the background. There is a somewhat open kitchen from which you can hear the sounds of sizzling pans and the steaming of dumplings.

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Service

The back wall has a sign saying “Korean food KoFoo – Passionate Staff: Conquers the World.” I was looking forward to seeing the passionate staff in action.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any passion in the staff at all. Moreover, they didn’t even seem that interested in us and they weren’t very friendly.

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Food

There is a special $6.99 deal between, I believe 12.00 to 2.00pm, which Kiwi Kolleague and I just missed by 5 minutes (yes, we had a late lunch!).

We were a bit disappointed about missing this but decided on our meals fairly quickly anyway as there were quite a few mouth-watering dishes on the menu.

After placing our orders we were brought an array of pickles and sides including what the waitress told us were:

  • fish pancake cut into shreds
  • pickled radish
  • soy fish sauce
  • seafood noodle mayonnaise salad

They were pretty interesting for us to try, especially as I had never had the noodle salad and fish pancake before. Kiwi Kolleague is not a fan of fish so she did not really enjoy the seafood noodle.

We both enjoyed the sour pickled radish though, and the fish pancake was not as yucky as it sounds.

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First up were pork dumplings. These were juicy and moist, although they got stuck to the bottom of the steamer 😦

Kiwi Kolleage lived in China for quite a while and she enjoyed the dumplings too but was too full to have her three (so of course, I ate it!- can’t waste a good dumpling!).

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Pork Dumplings, $6.99

I ordered a sweet chicken Korean bento box.

While the wedges, fried noodle spring roll, chips and fried dumpling were an odd edition to the dish, they were probably the best things in the box.

The chicken was too hard to eat, tasted too much of ginger and a sickly sweet sauce, and was difficult to eat with the flat metal chopsticks.

The egg and rice were….well, egg and rice, and the pickled condiments, mini corn salsa and lettuce with beetroot mayonnaise were quite average.

Nice presentation but the food was not great.

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Kiwi Colleague’s chicken egg noodles were a bit better than my dish. She said the dish was delicious and really tasty.

It was also well-presented and was a good portion-size.

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Overall, I was disappointed with my dish but next time would come back to try the noodles and prawn har gow- perhaps when they are $6.99!

Cost

My meal came to about $18.00 all up including a peach iced tea and shared dumplings.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-5
  • Food-6
  • Ambience-6
  • Value –6.5

Kofoo Korean Food on Urbanspoon

Fat Buddha, QVB Sydney ($$)

Address: Level 2, Queen Victoria Building/455 George St Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9264 9558

Website: http://www.fatbuddha.com.au

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They say it is lucky to rub a laughing buddha statue’s stomach. MDS and I decided to give the statute at the front of Fat Buddha a rub before entering for dinner with out friends. Turns out we weren’t very lucky in our choice of restaurant, but hopefully the luck shines through elsewhere!

Atmosphere

Fat Buddha is one of the more well-known restaurants in Sydney’s beautiful Queen Victoria Building. I had seen the signs advertising this restaurant around the Town Hall train station and wanted to try it out. A dinner with some of my uni friends gave us the chance to check it out.

The location of the restaurant, being in the beautiful QVB in Sydney’s CBD , is convenient and central. The interior is modern, clean and quite spacious.

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I definitely rate Fat Buddha’s aesthetics. A very elegant and formal looking restaurant.

Service

Service wasn’t great. We weren’t exactly welcomed at the door but rather, had to ask the young-looking lady at the front desk if we could do yum cha. She said yes and an older gentleman who appeared to be the owner (?) led us to a round tabel by a window.

Throughout the night service was quite poor. Yum cha orders are taken by marking on a piece of paper, which dishes you want. There isn’t much information about each dish apart from the name in English and some other details in Chinese.

At one point the staff ran out of something we ordered and brought some other dish out to us without asking if we wanted that instead. Pretty poor.

Food

The food was quite nice and although our friend, AsianChuckBass, didn’t think it was that great (he’s the expert, you know), it was quite tasty, if a little overpriced.

We ordered:

  •  Black pepper beef ribs- $9.50

These ribs weren’t very nice. It wasn’t a great cut of meat, with chewy bits of fat on it and a drippy sauce. The portion size was small, and being ribs, most of it was bones. Not a fan.

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  • BBQ Pork Buns- $6.50 (my favourite!)

These were delicious, soft and sweet yet a little spicy. Excellent, almost as good as Din Tai Fung’s! We ordered 3 of these all up.

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  • Prawn dumplings -$9.50

Prawn dumplings were delicious. Soft prawn meat, slightly salty dumpling. I loved these dumplings and thought they were just so delicious. We ended up ordering another round of these lil’ babies.

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  • Steamed Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf- $9.50 

This dish was something quite unique. It was basically some (mushroom) flavoured steamed rice with chicken, wrapped inside a lotus leaf. The leaf looks quite dry and old and not very appetising at all, but the rice itself is fragrant and smoky. Something interesting to try next time you’re at yum cha!

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  • Vegetarian dumplings- $7.50

These dumplings were soft and tasty, great with soy sauce. Small portions for the price and they don’t look very pretty, but they’re not bad.

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  • Vegetarian Spring Rolls- $7.50

The spring rolls were crunchy and great with the dipping sauces we were given. I am not a huge fan of mushroom but the mushroom was not too overpowering so it was still enjoyable.

  • Deep Fried Rice Paper Prawn- $9.50

Although delicious and crunchy with a soft interior, this dish is quite overpriced for only four wontons. Nonetheless it was one of my favourite dishes.

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Inside of the prawn wontons:3

  • Spicy Salt & Pepper Calamari -$15.90

Despite the name, this dish wasn’t spicy at all. There was quite a generous serving of it, however (possibly a good indication of portion sizes for the a la carte menu). The calamari was crispy and crunchy and had a lovely salty taste. Great dish.

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Cost

This meal cost us about $27.00 each.

Rating:

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

    • Service- 4.5
    • Food- 6.5
    • Ambience- 5
    • Value – 5.5

Fat Buddha Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

MissChu, Sydney CBD ($)

Address: 501 George St Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9283 0357

Website: http://www.misschu.com.au/Locations/SydneyCBDTuckshop

* * *

I decided to visit MissChu again, this time checking out the CBD tuckshop with MDS.

We went after work at about 6.15pm and quickly ordered a couple of dishes to share. The restaurant works on a “tuckshop order” system whereby you fill out a little form, hand it in and pay at the register, then collect your items when your name is called out. There is no table service and seats are small crates or little stools at ironing board “tables.” A very interesting concept which is at first a little odd, but which contributes to the authentic Viet feel.

We decided on the chicken rice paper rolls at $7.50 each. They were quite large and filled full of shredded chicken, coconut, mint and lettuce. I wasn’t a big fan of the huge amount of mint and leaves in the roll, but overall it was a filling and quite healthy item.

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We also ordered the tiger prawn and green mango rolls ($7.50). I though the presentation was fantastic as the prawns were neatly laid out and were visible through the rice paper. There were quite a few prawns in the roll too, and they were well cooked. I didn’t really taste any green mango however, which was a shame as I love the fresh and slightly sour taste of it.

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The prawn and crab spring rolls ($6.00) wrapped in a vermicelli rice paper net were quite a treat. The filling was soft and moist, and the outside crunchy and golden. The cute sweet and sour sauce in a bottle added to the “tuckshop” vibe of the restaurant, and tasted great with the spring rolls.

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The shanghai pork dumplings ($7.00 for three) were up next. MDS said they were some of the best she has ever had. I found the pork filling to be tasty and moist, but I thought the actual dumpling pastry was a little leathery and not as good as those at Din Tai Fung (see here and here).

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Finally we ordered 2 BBQ pork char sui buns at $2.50 each. They were so soft and delicious, like eating clouds! The filling was sweet and slightly spicy and I really enjoyed these tasty steamed buns. They are probably just as good as Din Tai Fung’s.

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Cost:

For all this food we were only charged $33.00. A steal considering that we were so full by the end of it!

The food was tasty, came out quickly, and was quite healthy (apart from the spring rolls) due to the amount of vegetables and raw ingredients in it.

Definitely great value for these dishes. I would suggest sharing items with someone rather than ordering your own dishes, as that way you get to sample a few different items and really get a feel for MIssChu’s tuckshop concept.

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Rating:

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

    • Service- 2
    • Food- 7.5
    • Ambience- 5.5
    • Value – 7.5

Misschu CBD Tuckshop on Urbanspoon