Monday, December 18, 2017

Charred Bar & Kitchen, Orange

All right, now this one is about this restaurant called Charred, which is situated in Orange. How we discovered this restaurant is quite interesting. A husband wife couple who were a friend of my girlfriend and now my friends as well, had recently bought a new swanky i30 top end model. We were keen to get the experience and hence we decided to go for a road trip to Orange for berry picking. Now mind you, this was right after the night of the Christmas party in the city, so you probably reckon you know how I felt when I had to go for this with a hangover and a sleep of just 5 hours. It was terrible initially, but once on the road, the drive, fresh air and a bit of sleep with loads of water and piankillers got me moving. Thankfully I wasn’t driving!

Now after our berry picking, we were in search of food. Now this was my second visit to Orange. The last time I was here, it was winters and I left orange thinking, its probably a bit over rated as a foodie destination as I didn’t exactly find anything spectacular. Besides, being a small town and being close to 2:00 P.M., I was actually flipping, thinking that we might end up going to macca’s. Nonetheless we checked a few places, shortlisted on two spots, one of them was Charred. As we reached Charred, to begin with, there was a parking and a rustic looking seating outside and grand entrance. As we entered, we asked for the menu and the interiors looked quite modern and upscale. We looked at the menu and there were number of items, and there was a 4 course menu for $65. Initially we looked at the menu and walked thinking it was a bit pricy. As we stepped out, we were acutally starving and we realized, this may be a bet worth taking. So we walked back in and settled in. Interiors were actually quite modern and classy. As we entered there was a big wine rack, followed by mixed seating spaces. Look at the menu and we quickly decided what we wanted to have. We were told that all four of us should order the same items in the four courses and then they would get appropriate portions. We did request on the desert to be two different items rather than one item and which the restaurant kindly agreed.

To begin with, we ordered the fire roasted bone marrows. This one was interesting because I have usually had goat bone marrow, which is normally smaller in size. The fire roasted bone marrow, were quite interesting and looked awesome. The bone marrow had been split or sliced into two along the length. Each portion was like a half-cut pipe, with the bone marrow and topped with parseley and caper salad like a little salsa topping. It looked fantastic and quite fancy. The taste was quite good. First look when I looked at the bone marrow, I was like oh shit, this is huge and I hope there is no smell of the animal or a pungent smell. Well, let me tell you, it was good and I loved having it, the fresh onion and capers was a good amalgamation with the gel like bone marrow. Juicy oily, slightly charred – it was a pleasant dish to have.

Next we had ordered the Shantung Chicken. These were chicken pieces, served in a nonstick pan, with a brownish glaze of a sauce. Charred to perfection over the coal, and the glazed sauce, this chicken was cooked to perfection. Soft and juicy tender chicken which was moist inside and yet perfectly charred on the outside. Don’t want to sound redundant, but I think this was the best dish of the day. The puree on which the chicken was placed was a soy bean puree which went really good with the chicken and the sauce.

Next we ordered was the charred lamb rump, which was again great. I am always conscious of lamb dishes, specially if they have this very overpowering fragrance or smell of lamb. On the contrary, this was so soft and juicy lamb, with perfect taste. No smell at all and we had asked for it to be medium to well done. The lamb was good. Soft mostly, a little bit chewy in a few sections, but still lovely. The char outside again was to die for. The lamb was beautifully decorated with eggplant puree, yogurt and yogurt along with pomegranate seeds. All the individual components went exceptionally well together. All in all another awesome dish.

Last we ordered two deserts. One was the citrus mess, which had citrus curd, lemon jelly, pomelo and meringue. As it was served, it looked so divine and out of the world. It almost look out of the world. It had thin wafers or shards standing on the plate like a hill, with grape fruit and mint leaves. While it looked awesome, to me, it wasn’t my thing and I didn’t quite like it cos it was too acidic and not sweet.
The next desert we ordered was the cherry delight, which almost looked like hill covered with snow. They had this nice dark chocolate, along with a cherry granita topped with fresh desiccated coconut. This one was relatively better. The cherry granita was a bit too sour for me, but the really dark chocolate and the fresh cocnut, made perfect sense and I kind of liked this one.

At the end of the day, we were so full and the on the contrary to what wee thought initially- that fine dine places charge ridiculous prices and don’t serve quantity, I must admit, we were so wrong. The portion sizes were so generous and we were so full, almost in a food coma. All I wanted was a bed and my afternoon siesta.

Also, I finally think yes, Orange does have a place which makes it worth the hype it has as a foodie destination.

Go to Charred and enjoy! I certainly did and am waiting to go there again.

5 New Street, OrangeNSW
OPEN                   11am-11pm       Tues- Sat
Phone                  0263631580
Charred Kitchen & Bar
Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Great Northern Trading Post, Laguna, Wollombi

All right, this one is about the Great Northern Trading Post, situated in village Laguna, near Wollombi. Just to give you a context, one weekend we decide to head over to Hunter Valley. Yes, like I have said, I am usually boasting and sorry that I have travelled so much that I am running out of places. Well, so a revisit to  Hunter’s but this time, no Cessnock and no Pokolbin. We decide to stay at Wollombi. Just when you get off the Princes highway, and start driving on the scenic drive 33 through Wollombi, it almost feels like you have suddenly moved into a different era, lost in time. Its crazy, as you drive through this countryside route, you suddenly forget about the world we live in. Anyways, so just before wollombi, if you are coming from Sydney, is this little village called Laguna. There are just a few stores. After a hot day at the hunters, we were in no mood for either a fancy fine dining 30 kms away, neither  cheap eat at the tavern nearby. So we decided to try the GNTP which was a 5 minute drive.

Well to begin with, it was a nice evening, a bit hot an humid. The GNTP was well, what an experience. A small little cozy pub, with all the spirits in the world. Quite remarkable for a place in the middle of nowhere, along with a small little basic essentials shop, a small little café which servers breads coffees and cakes. There is also the GNTP wine on the shelves being sold. And then comes the kitchen. Outside the bar, this one is such a hep and cool place. Tin sheds, with a very rustic feel to it, its got relaxed couches, bar stools, little funky lightings. There is rustic open kitchen, along with a old BSA motor bike kept on display. To sit there are comfy couches on wooden chairs, some seating with wine barrels and bar stools. A separate area for the smokers in the open air, looking into the view of green fields and hills beyond. There is another small room which is made of tin sheds and topped with green creepers, almost looks like one of those house in the Hobbit movie- of the shire. The reason is speak of the ambience is because its just gorgeous and lovely- which is rustic, makes you think of the outback a little bit, and couple it with the greens and remote place all around. When the sun settles down, and there is nothing around for miles and miles.

The menu gets decided every Friday and is uploaded onto the facebook page. For this weekend, we decided to go for the chilli mint lamb rack and the Thai chicken meatballs. Well, once we place the order, we wander around taking pics. It is a humid evening after a hot day, so it was a bit uncomfortable, specially cos there is no aircon. Seems to be a family run business. The food arrives shortly. The chilli mint lamb rack looked amazing. It was placed on a dish with thin crispy sweet potato ribbons, topped with a mint salad and red chilli slices. To begin with the lamb was cooked perfectly. We had asked for it to be medium to well done and so it was. Charred on the outside, it was glazed with a sweetish sauce. The quality of lamb was so good, juicy succelent with the thin layer of fan outside the rack. The sweet potato ribbons were crispy and good as well. The chilli was hell hot. Overall the dish for me was good, perhaps I just wish it wasn’t as sweet it was. Nonetheless, loved it. 

The Thai chicken meatballs, looked gorgeous as well. Huge sized meatballs, with Asian greens on coconut rice. The meat balls were huge and really flavor some, glazed again in this sweetish barbecue type sauce and then topped with white sesame seeds. Again good, full of flavor and the portion size was quite a bit. Again for me, I tasted it and found the meatballs so much full of flavor with the herbs and coriander.

There was a common table where you could help yourself to the salads and breads. The bread with the butter was yum. The salads had three of them. One was a quinoa salad with kale, grapes, chickpea and walnuts and almonds. This was our favourite salad- which in fact we asked the lady at the kitchen for the sauce and she mentioned it was there red wine vinigarette. So good it was, that we infact bought a bottle. The other salads was the mixed rocket with beans and cherry tomato, which was again great.
All in all, this was the kind of place I would highly recommend for the great views, ambience and food and I know it for sure, if I pass this place, Ill be eating here for sure. The Great Northern Trading Post- located on the Great North Road, which was otherwise known as the convict trail.

3718 Great North Road
Laguna, NSW 2325
(02) 4998 8244

Great Northern Trading Post
Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Chef’s Palette, Strathfield

All right, this one is in Strathfield itself. A number of times, on weekend morning, there is nothing better to get up early morning and go for an awesome breakfast.  Specially when you are all groggy, hair unkempt and all you need is a good coffee and a hearty breakfast.

Chefs Palette is right at the heart of Strathfield Square. Nice interiors, and gets quite busy in the morning. I have gone there quite a few times and the last time with a close friend of mine. Ordered the egg michelle, and a bacon and egg role. The Eggs michelle is a perfectly looking dish, on a brioche bun, along with American cheese and a very creamy scrambled egg on top of it. Its topped with sriracha sauce and trust me, its perfect. Very creamy scrambled egg.

The bacon and egg role, when I ordered, I thought it would be a simple bin with bacon and egg. On the contrary, it was a French baguette. I ordered it with the barbeque sauce and the aioli. Boy it was creamy and delicious. Very different and yet, very fulfilling.

On another occasion, I have had the corn and zucchini fritters, which gets served with the avo, rockets and two or three fritters, topped with poached egg and a tomato relish. Another good one, as I love the fritters although, there is always a wishful thinking for the poached tomatoes to be hot.

The baked egg or the shakshuka are quite good as well.  Small little pot with tomato relish and chorizo, capsicum and a poached egg and piece of sourdough. Just goes great to break the poached egg and the egg yolk running out, mixing with the parmesan cheese. The sourdough just gets heavenly when you dip it in all of this and put in your mouth for a heavenly combination. The only two cents of my opinion is that the tomato base for the shakshuka is a bit sour and wishful thinking is if it could have had a bit of salt and chilli, then it would be perfect.

Coffee and cakes are standard. All in all, in Strathfield, if I am on a weekend and don’t want to go far to eat, then this is the place for me and again will recommend for casual lazy breakfast.

Shops 3-4, 12 Churchill Avenue, Strathfield, Sydney 02 8756 5015

Chef's Palette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location
and Info - Zomato

Meat and Wine Co., Barangaroo

All right, this one is about Meat and wine co, one of the restaurants, I have always wanted to visit. Why? Well, to begin with, its right next door to my office and a look at the menu, has always had me drooling, especially the look at the slow cooked lamb shoulder dish. So finally, when a colleague and a very close friend of mine, decided to quit her job, it was only a fitting venue for the farewell lunch.
To begin with, the interiors are top notch. Very classy and modern. I just love the interiors. Very chic, urban and upscale. If there is fanfare about the latest addition to Sydney’s skyline Barangaroo, all the jazz, glitz and glamour comes together in a venue like the meat wine co. An entire wall with wine bottles, natural finish wooden designs, wooden stairs. A view overlooking the construction area may sound weird but .

They have this Lets Lunch menu, which is $40 for 2 courses and $ 50 for three courses. There are a number of entrée, main course and deserts to choose from. I have been told that this place is really good for stakes, although, I cant comment as I have tried them.
To begin with I ordered the Szechuan Calamari. This was wow! Crispy and crunchy coating on the outside and soft calamari inside, which is cooked to perfection. Comes with a dipping sauce. Loved it.

Next came the mains. There was the option for either a couple of stakes, or the lamb shoulder, Chicken Milanese, a salmon filet or the prawn mac and cheese. I decided to go for the Lamb Shoulder. Well, it came in with barley, roasted pumpkin, cherry tomatoes and with three big chunks of lamb on the periphery and topped with some creamy yougurt and harrissa sauce. Well, to begin with, the dish looked great and very modern. Taste wise, the lamb was cooked great and to perfection. The roast pumpkin was good and the barley was descent as well. Overall, the meal was good, well cooked and well presented, but to me, it probably didn’t hit the spot. Maybe it was the combination of things together. Let’s say, I liked eating, but given a next time, I would probably try something else. My friends who had the stake, seemed to love the stake.
The desert we had the option of crème brulee, apple pie or the amaretto frangipane. I ordered the crème brulee and it was amazing. It comes with a biscuit of either mandarin and chocolate or the double coffee flavour. I opted for the mandarin and chocolate  biscuit. Crunchy on the top and heavenly out of the word.

For my friends who ordered the apple pie, they probably found it average but did expect and crunchy which wasn’t the case here.

All in all, the lunch menu is great. Would I visit again? Yes, most definitely. Id love to try out the other menu items.

Ground level, International Tower One,100 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo, Sydney
02 8629 8888

The Meat & Wine Co Menu, Reviews, Photos,
Location and Info - Zomato

Al Afrah Sweets, Punchbowl

All right, every time I am in Punchbowl to eat a meal in Jasmine 1, I have to visit Al Afrah. A quick walk across the street, Al Afrah is this bright white shop which specialises in Sweets. Specifically in Baklava and middle eastern delights.

As you go in, there is a never ending counter filled with different variations of baklava. Like a Kid I start with saying, just one and I end up filling the box with a mixed varieties of all the sweets. To begin with there is Baklava, which comes in multiple shapes. The basic, thin cylindrical ones, followed by the square open ones, the round ones.

Then there these sweets which have a coconut base and topped with chocolate, or pistachios. There is also the one which resembles like the Indian Burfi, with a chocolate layer on the top.

They have these sweets which resembles Jalebi's in India, except that I think Jalebis are better.

Overall, I cant say enough, this is an awesome sweet shop. My favourites are the regular baklava in all shapes, and the ones with pistachio on a brown base. I don't particularly like the coconut base ones, as the coconut is too dense. The shop also has cakes, pastries and turkish delight. I don't think there is ever a visit to Jasmine 1 where I eat Lebanese food and then not go to Al Afra. Al Afra is a must. And its not really expensive. A mxed box of sweets is like $10- $15.

Highly recommended.

751 Punchbowl Road, Punchbowl, Sydney        (02) 9708 2774" title="View Menu, Reviews, Photos & Information about Al Afrah Sweets, Punchbowl and other Restaurants in Sydney" target="_blank" >Al Afrah Sweets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Little Nepal, Burwod

All right,

Little Nepal has been there for ages and I have written previously on this little eatery in Burwood. Today I write for this one again, because I usually seem to visit on Tuesdays particularly.

This eatery has changed management a few times, but its always consistent. On Tuesdays, I am usually a vegetarian and I usually prefer to cook home. Why? Because vegetarian dishes are usually the regular greasy curry's. I usually prefer in Tuesdays to have something which is light, mildly spiced and interesting. And that is exactly why I visit Little Nepal.

They do this vegetarian Thali. Now for my non Indian readers, Thali is basically a plate with all the dishes in small portions arranged for eating. In this case, the vegetarian thali has the basic rice, along with a dal. the Dal is the green and black daal, cooked beautifully. Its like a home dal, not spicy at all. Along with it is the pickled potato, which is cold diced potatoes, slightly tangy. I love this one. Along with it comes the sautéed greens, which a simple spinach, stir fried in garlic and a red chilli. Last little bowl has the vegetarian curry, which is a simple curry with cauliflower, beans, potato and mixed veggies.  I do order the pappadums on the sides, although they are deep fried which probably makes me winch.

Overall, I love it and would come here any day for the vegetarian thali. My older blog on Little Nepal is on this link.

The Chicks Seoul Orizin, Chinatown Sydney

All right this one is about this small little fried chicken place in Haymarket. The background, is that I have come here twice and each time, I have been impressed. To begin with, fried chicken is an art. And for lovers of fried chicken, the subtle variations and differences mean the world. There is almost everyone in Sydney that seems to be making fried chicken. From KFC, to hot start, to specialists, literally everyone. Now specifically, the Korean fried chicken is another phenomenon which is happening a lot around the suburb where I stay.
Lets get to the point. The things that usually piss me off is firstly when fried chicken is overtly greasy and oily. Now I know how that sounds, you probably think I'm a nut job who want fried chicken without oil. LOL. LMFAO. Well, fried chicken depends upon the batter not being too overpowering, being light and the chicken being fresh and juicy. There a fried chicken like at KFC which is too oily and heavy, and then there is also the Korean fried chicken which they call spicy, but it ends up being sweet and spicy.
The Chicks Seoul Orizin at Chinatown is a small little place which does fried chicken, but the best part about it is that it’s quite light. Doesn’t get you overly heavy. The batter is descent and not too overpowering and the chicken is juicy. The reason I visited Seoul Orizin for the second time is because of memory. Good memories that reminded me that the chicken was so light despite being fried. 

The interiors are trendy despite being simple. To begin with, as we sit, we get the small little bowls of starters. There is the obviously kimchi and fish cake. Next, there is the creamy pasta and the mashed potatoes, which was simply heavenly. Just keep on going with it.

The first order is the fire grilled hot and spicy chicken, which is OMG hot. Just the way it should be. When you call it hot, make it hot. Its coated in a spicy hot sauce along with rice cakes. Super hot and lovely. Next we order is the spring Onion Chicken and the Soy and Garlic Sauce. The spring onion chicken is this hot crumbed flaky  and crispy fried chicken, topped with spring onions. Lovely very subtle flavours, not too overpowering. The soy and garlic sauce again, great. Between the two, I prefer the spring onion one and the spicy one. We also ordered the fried dumplings, but to be honest, those were the biggest disappointment- very soggy and not much flavours or test.

Price wise, it was okay, not too expensive, and not too cheap. A half plate of fried chicken is about $18 and full plate is about $32.

Would I go there again. Yes, most definitely . What's my rating- well, it’s a descent place, I wouldn’t mind visiting again for fried chicken. The fact that its not too heavy is what I like.

Shop 4, 203 Thomas Street, Chinatown
10 AM to 10 PM
Phone number   02 8541 7531

The Chicks Seoul Orizin Menu,
Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Kabul Restaurant

All right. This one is a special post. All these years in Sydney and I have had Indian food and avoided Indian food at most places, simply because they are  far outcry from authentic Indian food.Excessive colors, too much spice, too much cream. its just ridiculous. I sometime wonder how people just love going out and eating almost anything anywhere. There are times when the food is too customized to suit the palate of the Aussie folks. Anyways, lets get to the point.

There is this little eatery in Auburn which is called Kabul Restaurant. Now the thing is that this is one of those gems which Id highly recommend It all started when one of my friends and myself while talking over the phone, he suggested. Located in Auburn and next to Jasmine 1. 

So it all started one Saturday morning, when me and my partner woke up and we decided to go for our morning brekkie to this place. There is a big kitchen which is just baking bread. Fresh breads and the aroma of the bake is just intoxicating on a cold and sunny morning as you walk by. In our first visit, we ended up ordering the lamb Paya or the trotters and the Nihari. 

The paya was oh my god out of the world. Perfectly spiced and freshly made early in the morning, this was just the perfect start on a cold morning.  Freshly made, perfectly spiced and a watery soupy curry with all the marrow , coupled with freshly baked naan bread which you dunk into the soup for a purely divine feeling. so this is how it all began. I have come over a few times after that and realized that the paya was one of the best I have had in Sydney. Now the thing is that during Ramzaan, I tried the Haleem, biryani and paya at a number of places. 

Now when I ended up at Kabul restaurant to try the food during Ramzaan, there was a surprise. They do this buffet.The buffet costed $16 and this was a crazy price. As I started the food, there was fried chicken, lamb paya, beef nihari, Chicken Handi curry, Lamb curry, Chicken Biryani,. For the vegetarians, there was a palak curry and chana daal. stacks of fresh bread and plain rice, along with pakodas, fresh fruits and kheer.  All this for an unbelievable $16. Now lets start with the food. The food is unbelievable and sensational. It is undoubtedly one of the best Indian food I have had. When you listen to Kabul, you think it is Afghan food, but then when you chat with the owner, it is actually a specific area in Pakistani. The flavors are so amazing. Usually when we have so many curries, we tend to not make out difference between the curries.Not here. Its so remarkable. For instance, the Nihari has very different flavor and texture in the curry. 

The Lamb curry is again heavenly, but the chicken Handi is probably the best. The  fried chicken is hot and succulent and juicy. The kheer is unbelievable.

Now post Ramzaan, when I made it here, it seems, this is now a permanent feature in the restaurant. A buffet dinner every Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

All in all, the paya I believe is the best in Sydney I have had, the food is fresh and delicious and the price even more insane.

All in all, Id say, this one comes with  a Highly recommended from Me. This one is for True Foodies- its a cheap Eat and not a fine dine, so remember that. The other thing is that sometime the crowd goes high and in the buffet, the food may get cold. I usually request them to get it warmed or get a fresh reload and they usually oblige.'

Kabul International Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

20, Civic Road, Auburn NSW

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ume Burger, Barangaroo

A normal day at work and a last minute invite for burgers and who could say no. We head down to Ume Burgers, next to the work at Barangaroo and also next to Belle’s fried chicken. Being a Tuesday, I was trying to be a vegetarian and to my surprise, there was a vegetarian burger available.

I ordered the vegetarian burger- the Kakiage , which came over with a beautiful sesame crusted bun, with a deep fried fritter in the center. Reminded me of the vegetable tempura in the sushi’s available at Hero Sushi. There was a mayo which was slightly different and I have a hunch it had sea weed in it. The slaw and the cheese all, combined together was a great vegetarian burger. I went in thinking it would be a vegetarian patty with potato, and the regular drill of lettuce, mayo and tomato. But being a Japanese burger place, I loved the difference in style, the fritter and the burger overall.
The hot chips with umami seasoning was yum and I’d say its very different and Id love to try that again as well.
My friends did order the cheese burger as well as the fish burger, and to be honest, I would love to go there another day and try the fried chicken burger or the ume burger another time. Until then, a positive review from and I’d say yes why not- let’s give it a try again.

Wulugul Walk,  Barangaroo NSW 2000

Hours Monday — Saturday11:45am — 10:30pmSunday11:45am — 9:30pm

Ume Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info -