Bellbird dining at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre

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Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre is located in a repurposed power station in the heart of Liverpool and is a cultural facility to showcase a range of exhibitions, theatre, music, performance and events. We attended the opening of the new restaurant, introduced by Director of the Powerhouse Museum, Craig Donarski in late 2017, but returned for a second visit (and certainly not the last).

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The Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre has opened a new restaurant called “Bellbird dining and bar” open 7 days a week from 10am – 3pm, offering seasonal dining and using farm fresh ingredients, the restaurant is promoting sustainability, seasoning their foods with an array of the plentiful herbs and vegetables from their own garden.

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At the opening, we sampled Hawkesbury River Oyster, Eco Farmed Pork, bruschetta and much more, with ingredients being sourced from their own garden or artisan suppliers from across NSW. Drinks were on offer from South Western Sydney Brewery; Stockade Brew CO. and wines from Artemis in the Southern Highlands.

We were genuinely impressed by our restaurant visit on our return and we cannot speak highly enough of Bellbird Dining at the Casula Powerhouse Museum. The kitchen is run by two passionate chefs; Cordon Bleu trained Federico Rekowski and sous chef Steven Pham. We consider Bellbird to be a destination dining venue well worth a visit. With everything under $18, many of the ingredients used are sourced from their very own garden on site.

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At an amazing price combined with beautiful plating and an amazing display of technique makes for a truly special dining experience. This also evident in the feedback from fellow diners which we witness during our dine. Bellbird is hands down the best value menu in Sydney.

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The menu we sampled was super fresh, light and perfect for summer and there is also an extensive menu that caters to vegetarians. The South Coast Kingfish with gazpacho broth was an automatic pick for us on that hot summers day. A beautifully presented dish, a refined broth with a nice spice kick and summer flavour provided by fresh herbs, tomatoes and cucumber fresh from their own garden.

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Chef Pham’s skill with seafood were learnt from his time at FishFace and clearly on display, with the prawn stuffed squid. This was a favourite, very flavoursome, also beautifully fresh, the flavours from the squid and prawns infusing nicely into the delicate clear broth, again fresh seasonal produce used in this dish.

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The zucchini flower had a synergy of flavours, with a noticeable crunch from crisp batter in contrast to the creamy goat cheese filling. Sweetness was provided from the balsamic, honey and beetroot gel, this combining nicely with earthy flavours fom pastel pink beetroot and sprinkle of walnut crumb.

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We loved the Gnocchi as a vegetarian option. The Gnocchi was light and fluffy, sauced with sage and nut butter, flavours further enhanced by roast fig, caramelised onion and shaved parmesan.

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You can order sides as well, and the fries were nice and crispy with a wasabi salsa.

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The desserts were just as impressive as the other meals on the menu. It was hard to choose between the mango sorbet and the olive oil cake. On this occasion the mango sorbet won out. The sorbet had a silky smooth mouth feel, the mango sphere served atop of a coconut gel and sprinkled with roasted white chocolate, which provided texture and a toasty flavour which was perfect o complement the sweetness of the sorbet.

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Bellbird is a must visit, a great restaurant with amazingly fresh produce, beautifully prepared and even better, the food is offered at a great price. Not only is this a great restaurant, it is situated in the Casula power house museum. With no admission fee, it is a great place to visit if on a budget. There is also a train station if you don’t drive, and ample parking if you do. When we visited the powerhouse had some cool pop art exhibitions, along with a very interesting manga exhibition, and a display curated by Wendy Harmer.

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We appreciate the wonderful care and precision put into each dish and we look forward to returning to sample more of the menu!

http://www.casulapowerhouse.com/visit/bellbird-dining-and-bar

www.facebook.com/bellbirdatcasulapowerhouseliverpool

Casula Powerhouse, 1 Powerhouse Road, Casula, NSW 2170

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

Gogyo bring Black Ramen to Sydney

Gogyo is a new restaurant on Albion Street, occupying the premises that was once Salaryman. Similar décor to its previous home, it is reflective of some stylish and minimalistic interiors you will find in the classy restaurants in Japan. There’s smaller tables, higher bar tables or you can share a long communal dining table with friends or other diners. 

 

Gogyo has a fully equipped bar at the main entrance, with plenty of whisky, sake and umeshu. We are greeted with a welcome drink, a yuzu citrus jelly cocktail that is refreshing and a perfect start to the night. 

Gogyo is part of the same restaurant group as Ippudo, Gogyo arriving in Australia with a reputation for quality, having popular restaurants in Japan and Hong Kong.

 

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Gogyo is renowned for its charred Ramen, but they do also serve a variety of other Japanese dishes as well. It is different to other Ramen restaurants. If burnt right, the miso broth retains a umami flavor (the fifth taste after ‘bitter, sour, sweet and salty). The black Ramen dishes which Gogyo are famous for, include the Kogashi Miso or Kogashi Shoyu and these are what the hype is all about. Made by heating lard at high temperatures, adding miso paste (Miso) or soy (Shoyu) and the chicken broth. This is comfort food, a large bowl filled with a rich smokey black broth, a wealth of noodles topped with pork belly chashu and umami egg. This is a meal you will be extremely satisfied with. You’ll also appreciate the bib which you receive to protect your outfit from the splash of broth as you eat. Note, don’t wear a white top. 

 

 

We have long been fans of the regular Tonkotsu Ramen, and order a bowl of this as well, made from pork bones, and the broth filled with noodles, pork belly chashu and an umami egg as well. You can literally see the flavour floating in the bowl, it was a little oily in texture. They also serve a Chilli Shoyu or a Veggie soba if those take your fancy. 

 

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It is not all about ramen, the a la carte menu is definitely worth checking out. There were a number of dishes available that are equally superb. Goma kingfish with Japanese tahini sauce, red shisho, shichimi pepper and plated with nori.

 

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The ‘Japanesian Coleslaw’ is crunchy and refreshing with yuzu dressing, hakusai, Japanese herbs, mint and tobikko. 

 

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One of the absolute standouts include the ‘Crackling Piggy Roll’, a Japanese butter roll with a moist pork that is also crispy on top, with their own original BBQ sauce and mustard, this was melt-in-your-mouth amazing. We could have eaten many more of these mini rolls. 

 

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The Nasu Dengaku, or tempura eggplant, was a generous size, served with a red miso sauce. This is always a popular choice of ours.

 

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Another amazing dish was the Wagyu flank Sumiyaki fillet had a plate full of medium rare meat sliced and topped with shiso butter and mushrooms. This was one of the favourites of the night and we would certainly order it again.

 

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The cocktails were very good, prepared with sophisticated flavours that work, without being too over the top. Sampling the Ladyboss (Yuzushu, Cointreau, lemon, sour) as well as the Businessman (whisky, rosso, cherry) and The No.5 (Gin, Chambord, tonic). They also serve Japanese beers including Asahi on tap, there are also wines and other drinks, making it a great place to enjoy a meal and drinks with friends. 

 

 

Prices are extremely reasonable, most ranging between $3 and $25, with only the Wagyu Flank costing $32 (but it is worth the price tag). The Kogashi Ramen only cost $18 which is good in this day and age for a huge bowl of Ramen.

 

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The hospitality here is extremely welcoming, we are greeted warmly, settled to a table and offered drinks. They explain each dish comprehensively, promptly remove completed plates and top up water and offer drinks as needed. The staff are extremely friendly and efficient, true to what we know of most Japanese establishments. This restaurant is worth of the hype and we are sure it will be as popular as it is in its other locations.

52-54 Albion St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

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

Yayoi Teishoku – perfect for a Japanese set meal

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We are very fond of Japanese culture and cuisine, so much so, that Japan is the country we chose to visit for our honeymoon a few years ago. We jumped at the opportunity when invited by FCBA for a different kind of wine tasting at the newly opened Yayoi Teishoku restaurant.

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Yayoi Teishoku has just opened on level 6 of Westfield Sydney and to celebrate, they put on an epic umeshu (plum wine) tasting and Japanese dining experience.

The restaurant has a sophisticated design with light coloured wood tones reminding us of traditional tea rooms we visited in Japan. There is a semi open kitchen and extremely hospitable service on offer, something we are accustomed to at Japanese dining.

This restaurant specialises in Teishoku which is a traditional set meal, with a combination of healthy balanced dishes served on a single tray.

With a unique selection of wine including sake and umeshu – Japanese plum wine, it makes for a great place to sample a variety that you may not have had before. They are all very different and created using many techniques. Some aged in oak, combined with yuzu, combing the fruit and leaves from the tree, organic, puree, combined with tea or sake. At $8 a glass, it is great value and perfect to accompany your meal, as you would with grape wine.

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There are a number of great options on the a la carte menu. Price between $2-$10 are the smaller items and sides. Of course there is the Edamame soy beans, the norm to share these at the start of a Japanese meal or Tamago yaki a Japanese egg omelette roll, simplicity at its finest.

There are a range of larger plates, priced between $10-$24. The Salmon salad is a great healthy option, the Salmon teriyaki: a tasty dish with a sweet sauce. This is an approachable dish for those not familiar with Japanese cuisine. The Chicken Namban didn’t last long at all, we loved this fried chicken served with house made tartare sauce. 

The teishoku (set meals) were great value, all were of a high standard and the portions are large, consisting of a soup dish, a main and two sides. The Wagyu sukiyaki teishoku, a Japanese wagyu beef stew with a sweet flavoursome broth filled with noodles tofu, vegetables and an onsen egg will have us returning for more, as will the Unagi Hitsumabushi Teishoku. This is a beautiful BBQ fresh water eel dish with a sweet soy sauce. This is seved atop of a bed of rice with dried seaweed, grated leeks and a side of dashi broth. There are many ways to enjoy this meal, instructions also provided.

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Another favorable option was the Mix toji Teishoku, a meat lovers dream, a large bowl of rice topped with a pork cutlet, fried prawn, wagyu beef topped with egg. To sample all that Yayoi has to offer, try the Yayoi Gozen a set with pork cutlet, salmon salad, salmon teriyaki and sukiyaki.

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If you have room, there were also traditional Japanese desserts on the menu. The mochi is a jelly like dessert made from braken starch. There is a matcha (green tea) warabi mochi and kinako warabi mochi topped with soy bean powder. We prefer the Matcha ice cream options.

Yayoi Teishoku restaurant is great new Japanese dining option in Westfield Sydney. We love the set menu concept providing a variety of nutritious dishes in the one sitting.

 

Yayoi Teishoku

Level 6, Pitt St & Market St, Sydney NSW 2000

YAYOI Japanese Teishoku Restaurant Westfield Sydney Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sokyo Breakast: ala carte, buffet, or both!

We had been hearing many good things for a long time about Sokyo at the Star, not only their Japanese dinner, but also their buffet breakfast. As we began 2018, we decided it was finally time to visit. Do make sure you book ahead of time as it can be hard to secure a spot.

In attendance were our insta foodie friends and contributor Sakinav and one of the best food bloggers in Sydney: Spooning Australia, as acclaimed by the Good Food Guide. We all met at Sokyo, a modern restaurant with floral displays, neatly set tables and an inviting buffet. The place very much had a hotel feel.
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We are all seated, scoped out the offerings on display at the buffet and also perused the menu. We were in two minds regarding out choice for the menu and whether to get al a carte or buffet. $22.50 for a la carte or $28 for buffet. From the ala carte menu are a range of Japanese inspired dishes. However, you can also go for the $38 for an a la carte option, buffet, tea and coffee, that is the choice! What could be better?
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All of us ordered something different from the al a carte menu. Whilst we wait for the ala carte dish, we start a conga line back and forth from the buffet, shuffling around like busy little worker ants. Everyone has a hand in arranging food at the table. You’d have think there was a small army eating, not just 5.

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The coffee then arrived at the table, however, with so many good boutique coffees out there, it was a little bit of a let down that they were using a large commercial brand, but I guess it will appeal to the masses. Be mindful though, some of the drinks cost extra, like the matcha or turmeric lattes.
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The buffet was quite simple with a range of cakes some with a hint of Japanese flavour including yuzu or matcha. All very nice and beautifully prepared. There was fruit and yogurt as well as an allotment of beautiful cheese and meat. In typical Asian buffet style, somethings that we always love like some soba noodles, with your choice of toppings. There was also the congee, a savoury rice pudding. With this pudding, were an array of savoury condiments to add flavour, be it fried challots, spring onion, soy sauce, ginger battons or pickled plum.
  The buffet was nice but paled in comparison to the a la carte menu. When the food we ordered started to arrive at the table there was much food envy. The match lamington, very Japanese was nicely presented with a yuzu curd and red bean inside. It was extremely beautiful and overall a lovely dish, despite the cake being a little dense.
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The Sokyo seafood bowl was not your typical Austalian breakfast. A bowl of rice topped with an assortment of fresh seafood and an onsen egg. It started out a little standard and improved ten fold once all mixed together and flavours combining them together.
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The taditional choushoku breakfast was impressive a set including miso soup, rice, fish of the day, edamame, nori, Japanese pickle and onsen tomago.
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The star of the day, at the Star on this occasion appeared to be the spicy salmon udon ordered by Spooning.
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As a whole, the breakfast at Sokyo was very enjoyable. The price is reasonable and the service is very good. Combining the a la carte and buffet options together is thoroughly recommended.

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

The Good Filo – Greek pastries in Ramsgate

The Good Filo could easily be described as the “Great Filo”, the “Amazing Filo” or just precede Filo with any positive adjective and the naming would be appropriate. This newly opened café/ bakery on Rocky Point Road in Ramsgate, selling Greek pastries and home cooked food is a great addition to the café scene.

 

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Owner Aki Daikos has been in the industry for many years and this new venture was to bring Greek pastry delights to Sydney. Paying tribute to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, their food is reflective of this city. In an area that is home to a large Greek population, to get their wave of approval is a telling sign. The café was pumping when we visited, with customers lining up to eat in, and takeaway.

 

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An open shop frontage with a number of tables, a Greek mural and a service counter to admire the “Zaharoplastio” (or patisserie goods), “Spitika” (home cooked foods) and “Zimi”(deli foods). There were so many amazing goodies, it was hard to decide what to order. We got a number of savoury and sweet dishes to share. 

 

We began with a few drinks, trying the famous “freddo”, a Greek version of an iced coffee, they serve many different varieties. I knew I wanted a shake and Aki suggested the Baklava, and I am so glad he did. This is one of my favourite drinks of 2018. A milkshake filled with bits of baklava had the perfect level of sweetness and I’ll certainly revisit for another one (or two of these). 

 

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The Greek pastries at Good Filo are ridiculously good, the pastry perfected is crisp and flaky. A must order is the traditional spanikopitaka or Greek savoury spinach pie, filled with spinach, feta cheese, scallions and egg. This was a large serving and would be great to share, although you could devour it yourselves quite easily, it is very moreish.

 

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It was breakfast, so we couldn’t go past the egg and bacon boats or Peynerli, this is dough topped with egg, cheese and bacon, as well as what I described as the “Greek sausage roll”, the “Loukanopita” is their take on the traditional Aussie Sausage Roll! With a kransky tucked inside that dreamy pastry.

 

We order the bougasta – a pastry filled with semolina custard, some chocolate profiteroles, loukoumis brioche donuts as the beginning to our array of sweets. 

 

The traditional Ekmek katafi is truly food of they gods, this dessert with a base of syrupy angel hair type pastry, topped with creamy custard, fresh cream and almonds, was a winner on the day. 

 

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The Trigona Panoramatos, although not easy to pronounce, was certainly easy eat. A crispy golden buttery filo pastry triangle soaked in syrup and filled with a creamy custard. Named after the place that overlooks Thessaloniki, we can imagine what it would be like to eat these in their hometown. 

 

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From lunch time, Greek home cooked meals are available, like moussaka and pastitsio. We’ll have to revisit to try these. If you’re a fan of Greek pastries, you must plan a visit to Good Filo. There’s more than just galaktoboureko and spanakopita (although they’re pretty good too). The galaktoboureko croissant, as well as the Tsoureki also look insane.

 

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Not only good food, the famous Greek hospitality is also evident and you definitely will not leave hungry. Staff, including Aki warmly welcome diners and offer suggestions to order. 

 

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A huge thank you, to where_do_I_eat_pete for the invite and introducing us to this great new establishment.

 

The Good Filo

336—342 Rocky Point Road, Ramsgate

The Good Filo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Giorgio Brasserie serving quality Italian

The Italian restaurant scene in Sydney is continuously improving, with many quality options available making their own pasta. Giorgio Brasserie 580 George St, is another to add to the list.

 

Not only do they have fresh pasta, the menu is made to order. Giorgio’s use the freshest of ingredients, which are prepared as you place your order. This restaurant chooses quality over quantity. The menu is simple, but done well. The wait staff charismatic, looking to deliver service on par with the food. For Chef Mario Percuoco cooking is in the blood, being a third generation chef. Mario sets a high standard and looks to deliver quality to the table with every plate of food. The venue is licensed, why not enjoy a glass of wine to enhance the meal.
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The Zucchini flowers are recommended for a starter. The batter nice and crisp, stuffed with a creamy ricotta and the basil providing the flavour. The grilled prawns another good starter to share, nice and simple. Shelled prawns with the tail on, grilled and served with some crisp grilled prosciutto.

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It is hard to pass up the porchetta at any Italian restaurant. Being cooked for four hours, which not only makes for tender juicy pork it also intensifies the flavours top that with some crackling and you be left wanting more.
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Do not dispair there is signature acqua pazza – Snapper with cherry tomato, basil and served with foccacia to soak up any remaing sauce.
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Better yet the favourite dish of the evening, the made to order squid ink tagliolini with fresh spanner crab, chilli, parsley and pistachio, simply delicious!
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A quality Italian restaurant in the cinema precinct of the city, with a sleek modern fit out which will get even better once the construction of the tram line is finished. This restaurant sets themselves apart by serving food as fresh as can be, made to order. Add this to your list of restaurants to visit, make an evening of it and stroll across the road to the cinema.
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Thanks to Dion Woo, for facilitating the meal at Giorgio brasserie. We now have another quality Italian restaurant on our list.

The newly revamped Botany Bay Hotel

Botany Bay is iconic. It is the location of Captain Cook’s first landing. Since this time and the development of Australia, the area has seen a lot of buildings rise up in the area.

The Botany Bay hotel, close to the ports, was established in 1865 and known as one of the oldest hotels in the Eastern suburbs. Whilst it looks old from the outside, it has recently undergone renovations inside by the Publica group (known for Goldfish in the Hunter Valley and Henry’s in Cronulla).

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The stylish wood interior and light blue painting and menus is welcoming and the new outdoor beer garden is a great area to enjoy your dinner or socialise with friends over a few drinks.

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The bar has plenty of beers of tap, a wide range of wines and they also do a good cocktail. I had a nice espresso martini as well as a wine or two. You can socialize with your friends at the public bar which has sports on TV, and Keno as well as sports bet. There’s also a pokies area.

The executive chef Raf Tonon has put together a lovely bistro menu with a great variety of food and a brand new pizza oven, preparing your pizzas outdoors in a shipping container.

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From the entrees list they offer foods such as chicken wings, Haloumi, Calamari, Fried Polenta, croquettes as well as some Asian influences in the dumplings and Sang Choi Bao.

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We ordered mains on this occasion and absolutely loved the gnocchi with confit cherry tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil. It was extremely tasty and perfectly cooked gnocchi.

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We also selected a salad that was a picture of art on the plate. Our salad was the beetroot, quinoa, smoked goats curd, sorrel and burnt onion dressing. It was just delightful.

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If these options aren’t your fancy, there are burgers, fish and chips and steaks, just to name a few.

There’s also a woodfired pizza oven serving traditional pizzas made using the Italian method established in 1885. You can order these to eat in or takeaway. We watched these being made, and amazingly they came out in only 5 minutes, with a nice light dough and fresh toppings. We tried the Capricciosa with tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushroom, ham, olives and artichoke.

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They run weekly specials each night so keep an eye out for that, as well as happy hour and Karaoke on a Saturday night.

This has some top food and is perfectly suitable to any guests, including families. Certainly worth popping in for a visit.

Botany Bay Hotel 

1807 BOTANY ROAD, BANKSMEADOW, NSW, 2019, AUSTRALIA

Botany Bay Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A short trip to Bangkok

Bangkok is not only a stop over, it is a great place to visit.  There is plenty of culture, it is a food lovers dream and there is plenty to see and do on any budget. Bangkok is a well developed city that is easy to get around. Trains are cheap and stations are easy to find.

Whilst you’re there, enjoy the sights, eat some street food, take in the happening cafe scene, visit some great restaurants and bars, stroll through the huge shopping malls, watch some muay thai and even get a PT session from some of the fighters. Get a cheap massage, or maybe 10 and maybe even get some work done on the cheap, like teeth whitening (or more 😉

Foodie suggestions 

Street food

To be honest, some of our favourite food was that we found at the street stalls.

You can also try fried insects at Khao San Road. Keep in mind its a party district, so not suited to children there.

Bitterman 

This is a trendy little place in Sala Deng. It is a house converted into a cafe with a cool vibe to it. They serve brunch and lunch and often have Dj’s playing some tunes. We tried a salad, roti, curry and more. It’s a mostly tapas style menu, a western influence but Thai flavours too. They also have a great range of drinks. We really liked it.

 Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand

Ceresia

Here’s where to go in Thailand for some top coffee! Great brew and good latte art too. We didn’t get food on this occasion, but you certainly can!

TISCO Tower 48/49 North Sathorn Road Khwaeng Silom, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500, Thailand

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Namseeh Bottling Trust

One of the best eateries we went to. Thai food served in a cool pink cottage style house. See our blog for more information.

soi 7 401 Si Lom, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand

Rocket Coffee 

We loved this place for good coffee, juices and interesting food choices. Service was lovely and efficient.

147 Sathon Soi 12, Khwaeng Silom, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500, Thailand

Gagan

Rated the top restaurant in Asia and #7 in the world, this restaurant does a 25 course degustation, on this occasion matching an “emoticon” theme. It is certainly worth a visit, though keep in mind it is approx $250 each. See our blog for more information.

68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road Lumpini Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand

Cafe Reverie

We were visiting the muay thai next door and saw this beautiful little cafe. It is so pretty with white furniture, tea cup themed chandeliers, flowers and more. They serve dessert sweets and thai influenced lunches. It would be best described as whimsical. Owned by a Thai Rnb celebrity, she certainly has style. The food was really good, particularly the sticky rice balls and chicken. The tea was also good, you select your type after smelling the aromas and they make. The earl grey lavender was lovely.

23/1 Soi Rongrian Phet Thanom, Khwaeng Lat Phrao, Khet Lat Phrao, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10230, Thailand

Unicorn Cafe

For a bit of a gimmick, be sure to check out the Unicorn cafe where you’ll be met with a room full of unicorns and rainbow inspired food.

44/1 ซอย สาทร 8 สีลม Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand

To do 

Raja Stadium

If you want to see some top professional Muay Thai (Thai boxing) matches, definately come here. It’s the closest to the city central and a tuk tuk or taxi will get you there. Its fairly expensive at 1000 THB for ringside, but you really must get ringside for a good view. Definitely do not get C class, as it’s behind a fence and hard to see. There’s a bar there for beers and snacks. The fighting is superb quality and they have about ten fights. The fighters spend their lives preparing for this and are seasoned fighters. The crowd fully gets into it too. This sport is an art form and a must see activity in Thailand.

1 Ratchadamnoen Nok Rd, Pom Prap, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand

Khongsittha Muay Thai 

Khongsittha Muay Thai gym is about 40 mins out of the city. The gym is owned by Matthew Deane and staffed by quality trainers. The facilities are high quality state of the art and clean. There are separate areas for muay thai, weights work and more. It was extremely clean and even the bathrooms were immaculate. We just went for a personal training session and loved it. The trainers are amazing and highly skilled and we’d be keen someday to train for longer term.

Sky Bar

This bar is pretty cool. There are few different sections to it but find the one near the restaurant. It’s really high, infact 64 floors and the view is worth it. Drinks aren’t cheap, around 750 THB but you’re going for the experience, not to drink a lot. Take it for what it is. Worth a visit. Be sure you dress up and men have to wear closed in shoes. They take you to a bar first which is not the real sky bar (money making venture), so make sure you ask to go to Sky bar (where the Hangover 2 was filmed)

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

We booked a tour here with Click2Go. This was very reasonable. For 300 THB we were picked up and taken there and went on a motor boat through a village. We did have to pay extra for a paddle boat but at least got it cheap from our driver 150 THB.

I would agree with all the other reviews though, I think if you’re there as an individual not on a tour, it’s easy to get majorly ripped off. It’s not a real authentic floating market as you don’t really need to be on a boat to buy stuff. It’s also not much food stuff, just tourist junk. It’s also extremely far away, like 1 1/2 hours from BKK. The tour we did was good and fair, but it’s not worth the trip overall.

Click to Go Tour – link

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Where to stay

Lebua State Tower

We chose to stay at the Lebua State tower as there were good deals out for this hotel. It is a wonderful hotel. Staff are amazingly friendly, rooms are high quality and very big. The staff kept it beautifully clean and turned down the beds each night. A huge pool and gym on site. This hotel also has the sky bar. We would happily stay here again.

 

We love Thailand and recommend you pay the nation a visit!

Ho Jiak is a top Malaysian Restaurant

Ho Jiak has long been in Strathfield but has now found a second home in the relatively new Haymarket location. Ho Jiak specialises in Nyonya (Chinese Malaysian Cuisine), which which we can only describe as flavour upon flavour and even more flavour! The food is inspired by the Chef’s Grandmothers home cooked meals with exotic ingredients making for a flavorful dining experience.
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The interior of the restaurant is set up into two dining spaces. The downstairs portion of the restaurant reflects how we picture the streets of Penang in Malaysia to look with plenty happening – there is a hawker style set up, with splashes of colour everywhere. Beautiful artworks adorn the walls. The upstairs section takes you into Grandma’s home, with some beautiful mosaic tiles imported from Malacca, some elegantly painted family portraits and family photos. There are also Malaysian antique crockery and cookware, adding to the authentic homely feel, it definitely feels like you are visiting someone’s home. The upstairs part is perfect for larger dining groups as well.
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Ho Jiak is a licensed venue, so you can enjoy a glass of wine, which the suggestion of Pinot Gris perfectly matched the food. We visited with foodie friends Spooning Australia and e.m.i.l.y_eats which afforded us to try many dishes on the menu. The starters were creative and moreish. The Pai tee was a big hit, with paper thin crisp pastry cups you can fill with a tasty topping, they also come with lettuce cups to make a type of san choy bao. If you want to try something a little different, try the loh bak which is pork jowl wrapped in bean curd and deep fried. It is damn tasty.
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We of course had to try some Malaysian favourites, what we know as comfort food including: the char kway teow, this is simple and delicious. This noodle dish could never disappoint. The Ho Jiak version is super tasty and had a good whack of chilli. Their indomee goreng with the inclusion of premium ingredients with the salted duck egg and crab meat elevating this dish to next level and the chilli also providing some heat.
Another display of premium ingredients is the wagyu portion of the menu, the Rendang Gu another traditional meal. This version was made with quality wagyu. This stew was popping with colour, full of flavour and the meat melt in your mouth.

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All of the items served were of a high standard, but there were some particular standouts. These included the Sam Wong Dan: a savoury custard made with a trio of egg; the century, duck and humble chicken egg. This dish had amazing flavour and silky texture and is a must order. The most suprising was the kangkung belachan. This is one for the vegetarians. The kiam ah nui squid, stirfried with salted duck egg yolk, butter and curry leaves was a flavour sensation and we would go back and undoubtedly order this. The Laksa is one of their signature dishes, and as to be expected was also very good, and be prepared – this is also hot.
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Desserts are inspired by Teh Tarik (pulled tea), or poured back and fourth between two jugs. This is the national drink of Malaysia  and is a mellow way to finish after a taste sensory overload from the preceding meal. To sooth the taste buds a teh tarik ice cream or teh tarik affogato made with the teh taic ice cream with kopi(coffee). Ho-Jiak also do a housemade teh tarik liqueur or a cognac hot chocolate to sip on, these options are great if you have gorged and are lacking capacity for dessert.
Ho Jiak is a top spot to get a Malaysian meal. The chef’s inspiration from his Malaysian upbringing evident in the setting. He is passionate about his restaurant and his cooking and this was inspirational to hear. The food is ridiculously good, using premium ingredients and traditional Malaysian flavour. It is at the top of our list for Malaysian food in Sydney. Make sure you pay it a visit.
92 Hay Street,
Haymarket, Sydney NSW

Ho Jiak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Iris Black – wine & tapas Bar in Surry Hills

Iris Black is a new tapas wine bar on the corner of Cleveland St and Bourke St in Surry Hills. The bar has a cool fascade with dark emerald green tiles and intriguing dark interior. It is extremely welcoming, with an open outlook to both Bourke and Cleveland St. You can also grab a table outside and listen to some blues, sip on a drink, share a bite to eat. The music was fitting with the stylish interior.
We visited on a Saturday afternoon and enjoyed a few cocktails, perfect for the hot afternoon. They were all very refreshing, with interesting names including the water buoy made with vodka, watermelon, cranberry and lime. We also tried the family tree, made with gin, bitters, blood orange liquor and lime and the Iris of the storm which was a rum based cocktail with gingerbread syrup, fresh lime and ginger beer. If cocktails aren’t your thing there are also a range of reasonably priced wine by the bottle or glass. The wine list is quite impressive for a small bar. There is also a range of beer and non alcoholic beverages on the menu.
The food sampled here was phenomenal. Everything was perfectly cooked and presented, especially considering the place was so busy. They have a great summer menu and are are suited to sharing with friends. All dishes were well balanced with good flavour combinations. The scallops with corn puree delicate sweet flavors, ideal with a nice glass of white.
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The buffalo mozzarella was simple, Italian inspired, nice and light with fresh flavours provided by a medley of vibrant coloured heirloom tomatoes, confit tomatoes, basil and strawberries.
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The heirloom carrots, a rustic dish served with dukka and Persian fetta was a favourite, accompanied with a creamy sauce. The Pork belly mistakenly arrived at our table but this turned out to be good fortune as not only did it look amazing, it was our favourite dish. Highly recommended you visit Iris Black for this dish alone. The pork belly, was melt in your mouth and not overly fatty, a good cut of meat! Even better, it was topped with perfect crackling seasoned with salt and vinegar this was served with some tasty roasted fennel and sauced with the sweet mostarda (sweet Italian relish with mustard flavour) This dish had us drooling we were literally fighting for the lions share.
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Iris Black is a top neighbourhood bar to enjoy a drink or more whilst sharing a bite to eat. This joint has a good atmosphere, relax take in the cool tunes and soak up what Surry Hills has to offer.

 Iris Black Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato