Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Mexican, Port Douglas

All right, this one is about our second night at Port Douglas. After a long day across the Mossman Gorge, we dressed up and decided to go for Mexican. Now, in port Douglas, there are a number of eateries and most of them pretty high end and expensive. There are the usual pubs with pub food, and then there are a lot of restaurants with celebrity chefs and mostly into the Modern Australian cuisine or Italian food. Unlike most holiday destinations where you get a good mix of high, end, middle end and then cheap eats, Port Douglas usually has a high percentage of the expensive restaurants. Anyways, when you holiday, you got to party in style.
The Mexican it was. Now one night before, on our first night, we walked the main street and looked at the places and the reviews on Trip Advisor. While we settled for another restaurant on the first night, I had made a mental note of this place for a must visit. Why? I’m glad you asked. As I walked outside this restaurant, the fragrance and aroma had me intoxicated and hungry. So, second night, there was no other thing than the Mexican.
To begin with, it’s a small eatery along with outside seating on the pavement. We settled for a seat outside and looked through the menu. To start with, I ordered for a Classic Margherita, while my friend ordered the Watermelon Daiquiri. Now, I am usually not too keen for cocktails, given that they cost 20 bucks and then hardly have any alcohol. I was thinking if I should have a beer or not. Anyways, settled  with the margherita. For starters, we ordered the Jalapeno Poppers and the Hot Wings.
Well, the Margherita’s were absolutely awesome. Wow! What a punch. Two of these babies and you just love the world. The watermelon Daiquiri was also pretty good and very tasty.
The jalapeno poppers were really good. Loved it. Served with Philly cream cheese and mango ketchup, it was really good. Although, I got to admit, I have had far more hotter poppers, but nonetheless, it was good, specially with the cream cheese filling and the mango sauce.
The next one is the Hot Wings. Now wings is an emotional subject for me. Back in Sydney and most of Australia, when you order chicken wings, they are either simply deep fried in itself along with some sweet chilly sauce, or else, they may be sticky and gooey, glazed in some kind of a hickory barbecue sauce. But the wings here in Port Douglas are so different. What they do is that they take the wing, they marinate it, then they give it an egg wash followed by a run thorugh the crumbs before deep frying it. The result is an extremely beautiful looking gorgeous flavoursome and crunchy chicken wing. Now these chicken wings are hot and served with carrots and celery sticks along with blue cheese. Wow! One of the best chicken wings I have had. Purely for their crunch. Gorgeous looking golden orangish wings and to cool off, blue cheese sauce. Um.! Highly recommended.
Next comes the mains. We decided to order tacos. We were not to keen for nachos or burritos. So tacos it was. The first one was the ranchero beef mince. The second taco was the Shredded Chicken. The third taco was the Fiery Crocodile. Now when they came over, I tried to guess which one was which and got it totally wrong. The Fiery Crocodile was what I guess was the chicken. It was very interesting. Tasted a bit like chicken and bit like fish. Looked like chicken. Very tasty and I was quite sceptical to try it initially, but glad that if I tried it, it was in a Mexican taco along with lot of spices. The habanero sauce made it pretty hot.
Next was the ranchero mince, which was pretty good again, mince along with green chillies, jalapenos and cheese sauce, which gave it a very good mix of mince, heat and cheesy. Loved it. This was my second best one.  The last was the chicken which was descent, a bit simple though. Shredded chicken, guacamole, and grape tomatoes. Pretty descent again.
Now with this and the two margheritas I was still a bit hungry- and I ordered the Pulled Pork taco and Quesadilla.  The pulled pork taco was also delicious, not too hot and served with a pineapple salsa and fresh spring onions.
I was excited by the fact that it would have chorizo. I did think it would be filled with chorizos and hot sauce. It was served similar to the Indian Paranthas to be honest. It had a filling of potatoes, chorizo and hot sauce. It was quite filling and to be honest, different but tasty.
Now what’s very exciting is that this small little eatery, has something called as a wall of heat. It has a wall with all the different hot sauces across the world. I did have a chat with the lady at the counter and got to know that the one which is the hottest one is a small bottle called Blair’s Ultra Death. There was a warning on the bottle and well, I said lets try a drop. Let me tell you- one or two drops and it was this intense heat. Man, I have never had anything so hot. Unbelievable crazy!
Overall, this is a great place, I loved my evening. Great ambience, cute small place. And yes, the staff is so friendly. I would love to come to this place again.
The Mexican Menu, Reviews,
Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Pizza Trattoria, Cairns

All right, fresh into Cairns for a second time and I am starving and walk down the Esplanade for a quick meal before we drive down towards Port Douglas. Decide to settle in for a pizza at La Pizza Trattoria. There were a few pizza joints, but most of them seemed to be pub food. A good sunny day and quite humid though for a Sydney sider, we decide to settle down.

Look at the menu and I decide to order a large pizza, with a half half. One half I order is the supreme. The other one is the caprice. The supreme comes with tomato mozzarella, smoked ham, salami, onion fresh capsicum, pineapple and anchovies and balck olives. Not being a fan of anchovies and pineapple and request them to replace with Jalapeno’s. The other half being caprice, had the tomato mozzarella, smoked ham, fresh mushrooms, onion and roasted red peppers.

The pizza was descent. The serving size was descent. The fact they had an open kitchen and made the dough fresh in front of you and added all the ingredients was great.$3 extra for a half and half is not too bad. Overall, with the supreme part of it, while it had all the meats like ham and pepperoni, it was just about okay. Likewise, with the caprice – again, just about okay. We were starving and had the whole pizza. I’d say overall, an average joint. Being on the esplanade, it has great view of the waterfront, quite accessible and convenient. May be okay for evening drinks and a few nibbles.

We did order the chocolate milkshake which was pretty good. The other juice we ordered was the refresh juice- Orange, Apple, Mint- which to be honest, tasted more like simple orange juice.

Have I had better pizza’s? Definitely Yes. Somehow, while the ingredients were there and were fresh, something was definitely missing. Wishful that the flavours were a bit better. Would I go there again? May be not, I’d probably try a newer joint.

La Pizza Trattoria Menu,
Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Monday, September 12, 2016

Rama’s Fiji Indian Restaurant, Canberra

Red Interiors!
All right, this ones is about a very interesting cuisine. Fiji Indian Cuisine. Normally, you would see Indian cuisine being used as an overarching brand. Be it Nepalese, Pakistani or Bangladeshi- they all use Indian cuisine as a brand. Be it for the similarity or be it because Indian sells more. Now, we were in Canberra after a Friday working day in Sydney. The long drive thanks to cruise control and the relatively straight rhough drive from Sydney to Canberra luckily left us with some energy to try and explore a dinner out in Canberra. It is another matter that whatever energy we had left from the drive actually drained the extremely cold winter night at Canberra, which was significantly colder than Sydney. As we searched for options, we came across Rama Fiji Indian Cuisine.

Mango Lassi
Located at Pearce, which was a bit of a drive from the main city, this was a small eatery in a shopping complex in the middle of the residential neighborhood. What made us curious was what was Fiji Indian cuisine and how different was it from the regular run of the mill Indian restaurants. To be honest, I knew Fiji had a lot of second and third generation of Indians who had migrated many centuries back. We called up the restaurant and while it closes at 9, they kept open for us till 10:00.
The restaurant was cute and cosy little eatery with red walls, although a bit too red I guess :-). I was sceptical, anxious and excited all at the same time. High Risk leads to High rewards or High Losses.
To begin with, the restaurant was definitely full of people, even at thus hour, which is a good sign. As we settled in and looked at the menu, it did look similar to Indian menu but luckily a smaller and shorter menu. So another good sign. Restaurants which make almost everything under the sun with a long menu- are probably ones that cant differentiate between the dishes themselves.
Fish Pakoda's
It’s a small little family run business. The lady, of Fiji Indian descent was extremely warm and welcoming and friendly. As we settled we decided to give it a try to the Fish Pakora’s. There were a few interesting appetizers such as Roti Parcels and Bhara. Taking the safer option, we ordered the Fish pakoda. We did enquire which fish was used and were told its ling. Along with the Fish Pakoda, we ordered a mango lassi. To be honest, the appetizers didn’t impress me much. The fish didn’t seem to be ling and it was bit more fishier than ling. Being a fish eater, I somehow knew this wasn’t ling, given that ling is one of my favourite fishes. The batter had excessive turmeric. Likewise, the mango Lassi was just too sweet and had a bit of a distinct taste of some essence.
For mains we ordered the Goat Curry and Dhal, along with Rice and Roti. 

One of the best Goat Curry ever!
This is where the tide changed from a low tide of flavors to a high tide and me surfing like a golden beach boy on the spices and gravy. Man, the goat curry was heavenly. I was again skeptical about ordering goat, like most places, because of my passionate love for goat curry and the frequent disappointment I get at most places either because the goat is too chewy or its far too spicy. But not here. The goat curry was simply fantastic and mind blowing. It also had its own character and flavor, which is difficult to describe, but far too awesome that made me realize that this is Fiji Indian Goat Curry. I could go on and on and on and rave about how great the curry was. Let me tell you, a testimony of how great the curry was. I was craving to have it one more time and I actually called up the restaurant on Sunday, before I drove back to Sydney. Unfortunately, the restaurant is open only from Tuesday to Saturday.
The Dhal was also quite delicious. Quite different from the Indian version. Quite dense and thick and really delicious. With Dhal, you want it to be simple and this was really delicious, not too over spiced.
Garlic Parantha's
The whole meal roti’s were more like the parantha’s back at home. The garlic paranthas were also descent.  The masala tea at the end was great as well, perfect to finish off a great dinner on a cold and rainy day.

Overall, a great little eatery and while the starters were a bit of a dampener, I believe the mains were far too good to be true. Trust me, if I had the chance Id go back to Canberra, just to have the goat curry again. All in all, highly recommended from my end.
Rama’s Fiji Indian Retaurant
Phone: 62861964
Pearce Shopping Center, Pearce, Cnr of Macfarland and Hodgson Cres.
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 5:30 P.M.

Ramas Restaurant Menu, Reviews,
Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Bonolota Bangladeshi Restaurant

All right, being a Bengali, as much as I love Bengali food, I never venture out for Bengali food. Why? Simple, because I believe the best Bangla food is at home, so why try outside? Now I know my logic may be flawed to a large extent, but I do practice to a large extent with Indian food as well. Anyways, I’m definitely not like the grumpy Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino or the Terence Stamp in the movie Songs for Marrion.

The usual complexity in my life when it comes to eating out is the lack of craving for Indian food, given that I am an Indian and that Indian food is ridiculously abused in most places in Sydney when you go to eat out. Don’t get me wrong- I am always awed at the popularity on Indian curries in Australia and how widespread it is. Yet, it is equally an irony that almost anything under the sun gets dished out, sometimes good and most times overdrawn with colour and spices which makes it atrocious and yet acceptable to unassuming naïve eaters who may not know the true awesomeness of what Indian cuisine is all about.

Begun Bhaja- Eggplant Fried
Nonetheless, coming back to the topic, I am usually sceptical when it comes to Bengali food. For my readers who perhaps on the verge of googling what is Bengali, let me save you the effort. People from the state of West Bengal and/or Bangladesh – Bengali. That’s it. Now, while Indian food on its on is like an overarching umbrella which while it covers the entire subcontinent, be it Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Pakistani or Sri Lankan, I believe there are subtelities of individual cuisines of each of these countries and regions which need to be discovered and tasted.

Daal Puri
Now that I am done with all the bullshit to sound like a critique, lets come to what it matters the most. The food. Rockdale is known for a few Bangladeshi joints- and primarily due to the large number of Bangladeshis there. To begin with the décor is pretty descent. Quite airy and with a lot of natural light. Located close to 100 mts from the Rockdale Station.

We had come over for lunch. To begin with, we started with the Daal Puri. In bagla it is called Daaler Kochuri. These were like crispy breads with a filling of lentils. These were pretty descent although I believe the filling could have been more than what was there.
The Phuchka’s or the Bengali equivalent of Gol Gappa’s were next. Very interesting. The filling was a mash of chickpeas, boiled potatoes and boiled eggs along with a very small quantity of spicy and tangy water in a cute little miniature jug. I liked the phuchkas here. One serve cames with 8 phuchka’s.

The other starter we had was the Begun Bhaja, which is nothing but round slices of egg plant deep fried. Initially I thought It would be like the Beguni- which is basically thin spices of the egg plant dippe din batter and then fried. However, this one was without any batter. Personally I don’t like this form of the egg plant, although it stems from my childhood dislike for egg plants.

Palak Paneer
For mains, we ordered the Palak Paneer. Now this palak paneer was quite nice. On first looks, its looked a bit like light green, much lighter shade than actual spinach. Perhaps cream might have been added to give it a lighter note of colour. The Palak Paneer was fabulous and my favorite. This one was creamy and soft and sweet. Id probably say this was my most fa
vorite dish here that day.

Goat Curry
Next we ordered a Goat Curry. The goat curry was decent. A bit spicy, the quality of the goat was okay and in fact much better than what I expected. Usually goat meat turns out to be chewy and poor quality but over here it was quite descent. Is this the softest goat I have had? No But would I go there again – Yes. The curry was descent as well.

Kachi Biryani
The Kacchi Biryani– which is basically the Bangladeshi speciality and equivalent for Biryani- flavored rice with meat. This was interesting because the rice was a bit thicker and smaller. Usually I would have thought that Biryani involves the long grain fragrant Basmati rice but the rice here was different. Topped with a boiled eggs and a few saffron strands, the Biryani had essence of rosewater, that gave it a very different fragrance. What was also very interesting was that goat was amazingly soft in the biryani. Much more softer than the one in the goat curry. While the Biryani was pretty good, my rating is that its worth a try for something different in terms of a biryani type. I have again had other forms of biryani which I prefer, but nonetheless I would say its worth a try.

The last item on the table was the Fish Curry. Initially I had ordered the Hilsa curry, but due to lack of HIlsa we settled for the Pomfret Curry. This was again descent. I am personally not too much of a fish eater if it’s too fishy. Now the curry was pretty good and different styled. It had a base of onions and tomatoes. While one of my friends who accompanied complained that the fish was not crispy enough, but then I think if you want crispy fish, you don’t order a gravy. I believe from a gravy perspective, the fish was just great. It was fried aptly in the Bengali style and then put in the gravy and the fish was fresh. So overall, I would say yes.

Pomfret Curry
Next came the sweets. To begin with, the Mishti Doi or the sweetend curd was fantastic. It was awesome and amazing and one that I would say and highly recommended. When it cames to sweet, we had the long gulab jamun, the Sandesh and a few other sweets. While Bengali sweets are awesome, these to me were just about okay. I wouldn’t probably have it again to be honest, but Id definitely recommend the Mishti Doi, as a must have.
Oh Yes, one more thing. Like most other Indian Sub-continent, they do the regular drill or making Indian food- Chicken Tikka’s and Tandoori Items as well as the  Butter Chicken. I would probably not go for the Indian Tikkas and grilled items as they seemed to be using far too much colors. My friends daughter ordered the Chicken Tandoori and trust me, it was over colored. Id probably recommend to stay away from the regular Tandoor items.

The Bohrani is a curd based drink which is quite exciting and interesting along with mint and spices. Quite good.

Overall the place is pretty economical and affordable. Most appetizers are under $10. Chicken, Beef and Lamb gravies are about $15. Seafood gravies are about $18.

All in all, a descent spot, good food. The way I look at it, I usually judge a place by a simple question, how likely am I to return to this place?  The answer is Likely. The food is good, it’s a good spot, its got authentic Bangladeshi flavors. In fact, I am keen to visit again and try quite a few other dishes for the next time. So do go and give it a try.

23 Frederick Street, RockdaleNSW 2217
Ph: 95999405, 959991108

Bonolota Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Din Tai Fung, Sydney

Din Tai Fung

Shrimp and Pork Fried Wonton
Kung Pao Chicken with noodles
Now this one should be a no brainer given that it’s so famous and all across the world. Over the years in Sydney, I have always seen this one at the Westfield mall at City and due to being a non-pork eater, I hadn’t tried this for a long time. Luckily, things have changed and I started with the bacon and pork mince and hello Din Tai Fung. To Begin with, I have tried three locations so far in Sydney, one in North Sydney at Greenwood Plaza, the other at Westfield Mall at Pitt Street and latest at World Square, near Town Hall station. It would be quite a coincidence that in the last 4 weeks, I end up at Din Tai Fung every Thursday.

Dim Sum Roulette 
To begin with, Din Tai Fung’s core business is dim sums and buns. I have tried the pork dumplings and they are amazing. I have always believed that dumplings are something which have to be hot steamed and juicy. Back in India, I recall original dumplings or Momo’s as they call it in Tibetian cuisine, which were so juicy and the moment you pop them in your mouth, in one whole bite, all the juices of the meat kind of squirt out and there is this amazing explosion of flavours. When I came to Sydney, and tried dumplings, which are a bit different and tried them, I missed the juiciness in Momo’s. But that was only until recently in Din Tai Fung.

Pork Dumplings
Perfectly sealed delicate dumplings sealed and steamed and you pop them in your mouth and its instant nirvana. So to begin with, the pork dumplings are awesome. What Din Tai Fung does, is provide you with a set of dumplings, on a plate with roulette and one of the dumplings has chilli in it. Unfortunately, the first one I had was the chilli one and boy it was hot.  Super Super hot. But all the rest of them were normal and I loved it. There was also the chicken dumplings, but that was about okay. Nothing as tasty as the pork ones.
Wontons in Spicy Sauce
The fried pork and shrimp wantons are also great. Crispy, tasty and served with mayonnaise. It’s really nice and delicious.  The Kung Pao Chicken is another of my favourite, which comes with spicy chicken, cashews, greens and red chilli. Lovely. I have had the disk by itself or with fried rice and its great. Kung Pao chicken with noodles were probably not that great as much as it is by itself as a starter or with fried rice.
There is also the spicy Shrimp and Pork Wontons, which are basically wontons served in a delicious spicy sauce.

For vegetarian, they do the vegetarian dim sums, which has a stuffing of spinach and veggies. Its quite good, as much as I hate to admit that I would have ever liked veggie dimsums.

Overall it’s a great place and I love visiting and love to recommend it as well. I do find it a little bit expensive, 4 dim sums for 6 or 7 bucks, but nonetheless, there is always a price for the great things in life and this is one of them

So overall, I do think they match up to there claim of being the most delicious dumplings in the world. Highly recommended.

PH: (02) 9264 6010
PH: (02) 8246 7032

PH: (02) 8033 2353

Din Tai Fung Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Famous Berry Pies, Berry

Its quite a coincidence that Berry has the famous doughnut shop and another famous pie shop. Well, the famous “ Berry Pie Shop”- small little café and serves a wide array of pies, sausage rolls, pasties and quiches. Simple pie shop. You have the regular pies- steak, steak and cheese, steak and mushroom, steak and kidney. Then you have the sausage rolls, spinach, ricotta and feta roll, vegetable pasties. In the gourmet pies, various versions of the chicken pies- the chicken leek and mushroom, chicken and vegetable, chicken and curry, the butter chicken, chicken with honey and mustard. You also have quiches, and freshly baked bread.

Look overall, there is usually a long queue. This is a cash only joint. When I went there, I was interested in the chicken and curry pie or the butter chicken pie. Unfortunately, both were sold out. I was tempted between the Thai green curry pie and the chunky lamb pie. Eventually settled for the chunky lamb pie and the chicken and mushroom pie.

To be honest, it was just about ok. I do give marks to it-hot pie, fresh. However, I have high expectations from pies. After having the butter chicken pie at Hayden’s Ulladulla, and the curry Chicken pie at Harry’s, there is certainly a high expectation. To be honest, both the pies I tried were just about okay, but not legendary or out of the world. The pies cost $4 - $5.

If I am in Berry, I might give it a try again, but just about okay is my verdict.

110 Queen street
Berry, New South Wales
(02) 4464 1122

The Original Berry Bakery Menu,
Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mezzadella's Woodfired Pizza, Berry

All right, this is my second post about Berry. This small little village, which I am totally in love with.  A small cute place which has its own charm. Lost in time, old architecture and boutique shops. Now in  one of my visits, thanks to the excessive long traffic queue due to the holiday period, we ended up reaching berry, just in time for the restaurant we wanted to eat at closed. Nonetheless, we wander around and I come across this small little door with the name Mezzadellas. Look at the menu and its all about wood fired pizza’s. Well there is an instant interest and I walk down a small narrow passage to open up into a wide restaurant.

It’s a nice little spot, a bit of rustic setting, and beautiful outside seating in the garden as well.  the décor is casual, with natural wooden textured tables on an iron frames and funky colorful plastic designer chairs. Plain white interiors ads to the charm and big window frames overlooking the garden seating.

Look into the menu and this in interesting. They do pizza’s – wood fired, the regular appetizers such as garlic breads, salads. But what makes it interesting is that they also do tapas.

I order the chicken skewers on the tapas. Its description reads, its marinated with coriander, cumin, white wine and oregano. This one is served on skewers along with some fat yellow rice, more like risotto rice, but not sticky and gooey as risotto. The chicken is a little bit charred and its really good. Really juicy, very delicious and flavoursome. The spice mix is incredible. When you have the rice, just by itself, it is a bit bland, but then you have it with the chicken. Its great. So, I loved it, and would love to have it again.

Next came the pizza’s. being a chicken lover, there were about just two options. Interestingly, there quite a few vegetarian options- which is quite a delight. I ordered the pizza called Taipan. This one has satay marinated chicken, along with onions, capsicums. The pizza when it came, was awesome. It looked bright and pretty with amazing red colours of the red capsicum, the green fresh coriander. There is sprinkled sesame seeds, cashew nuts. A very thin crust pizza, and tastes yum. Its got this hint of sweetness, I believe due to the pineapple chutney. Thin slices, and fresh. That’s the word. Fresh. When I ahd this pizza, it instantly reminded me of the pizza’s I had as a kid at home. Simple, fresh ingredients- a bit sweet, with fresh cheese. I liked the pizza here. I liked the pizza. Overall, I have had pizza’s at a number of places, and I will say I really liked the ingredients, the freshness – it’s a bit different.  

One large pizza served the three of us, although we were all mildly hungry as we had eaten some doughnuts before. But if you are wildly hungry, I’d say a large pizza would go for two people.

Will I visit again- most likely yes.                                          
Phone: 02 4464 2045
Shop 6, 97/99 Queen st. Berry. NSW 
Entrance on Alexandra st. Behind 'Pottering Around'

Mezzadellas Woodfired Pizza
Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato