Archive for January, 2010

Ribs & Rumps

Ribs & Rumps has long been a favourite with locals in Manly.  It wasn’t until my company shafted me out to North Ryde that I discovered it was actually a chain, as there is a restaurant here too.

Sadly it is pretty much the only decent restaurant nearby the office now, not quite like the city :'(

Anyway, it means we do go there a fair bit for lunches on Fridays and the sort.  I was there last Friday, and finally ordered something which I’ve been meaning to for a while…

Grover and I decided to go halves in the mixed grill.  You get an assortment of Ribs & Rumps meats, chips & an egg.  What a perfect lunch!  You get a half rack of beef ribs, a half rack of lamb ribs, a sirloin steak, two or three lamb cutlets and a great tasting beef snag.  There is too much food here for one, it even sounds like a lot for two, but it’s pretty much the perfect amount. Read more

Mamma Mia

A couple of years ago we had the unfortunate predicament of being in a town in New Zealand of which Lonely Planet opens its guide with: “Boy racers in souped-up cars and girls with souped-up hair-dos hint at the fact that there’s not much to do around here.”  This town was Invercargill, and any Kiwi will tell you it’s a horrid, boring place.

We luckily only had a night there, so we decided there was nothing else to do but to see a movie.  Mamma Mia was playing at this time, and Mikey wanted to see it.  I begrudgingly agreed, and went into it thinking “oh God, here come the two most boring hours of my life”, but came out singing ABBA songs with a giant smile on my face.

Mamma Mia of course was a musical before it became a Hollywood blockbuster.  Mikey had seen it several years ago in Melbourne, and of course was very keen on seeing it in Sydney, as was I.  We had the pleasure of seeing it last weekend at Star City’s Lyric Theatre.

Now, I’m a massive theatre fan and keep running out of people I can convince to go and see more and more plays with.  This was my first play of the year, and sadly there aren’t too many that I have coming up, so I made the most of it. Read more


We went to Chequers at the Mandarin Centre in Chatswood, on Sydney’s North Shore recently with Mikey’s mum, sister, brother-in-law and two nieces for yum cha on a Sunday afternoon.

We only had to line up for about 5mins which apparently is quite good for Chequers.  I don’t understand why.

The food was standard yum cha fare.  It wasn’t bad, in fact it was nice, but it wasn’t anything amazing.  There are dozens, if not hundreds of yum cha restaurants in Sydney, and this would be ranked amongst the nice ones, but doesn’t stand out from the crowd.

There were six of us (one of Mikey’s nieces is two months old so obviously wasn’t eating with us!), so we had a wide range of the available food.  The gow gee were nice, as where the combination seafood dumplings and prawn rice noodle rolls.  The vegetables were so-so.

If you’re in the area and feel like yum cha, this isn’t a bad choice, but it might not be the best.  Some friends have told me Fook Yuen is the best in Chatswood, so I’ll be checking that out soon!

If you want great yum cha anywhere in Sydney, check out Zilver in Haymarket or Phoenix in either Manly or Rhodes (Rhodes is bigger, Manly has a nicer view).  I’ve also been keen to check Fu Manchu in Darlinghurst for some time, as I’ve heard good things about this.

The damage: I have no idea, Mikey’s mum snatched the bill away and paid it for us!

Nick’s rating: *** (three out of five)

Tetsuya Wakuda’s Masterclass

Tetsuya Wakuda is generally viewed as Australia’s greatest chef.  His restaurant, Tetsuya’s has been consistently ranked amongst the top 50 restaurants in the world for at least the past eight years.  Most of that time has been in the top 10, and for several years it was in the top five.  Each year for the past 18 years it has been awarded the prestigious “Three Chef’s Hats” rating in Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide.

Tetsuya Wakuda is a true success story.  He arrived in Australia from Japan in 1982 with nothing more than a suitcase.  After a brief stint at Surry Hills’ Fishwives, he began working at Kinsela’s at Taylor Square making sushi, where he met Tony Bilson in 1983.  Tony nurtured Tetsuya’s inclinations to a more unique cooking style, and introduced him to the classical French techniques which he bases much of his current-day Japanese-French fusion on.

In 1989, Tetsuya opened his eponymous Tetsuya’s restaurant, but in Rozelle.  It was a tiny restaurant, with a tiny kitchen but people loved it.  In 2000 he moved to his more familiar, current location on Kent Street in Sydney.

Tetsuya’s old mentor, Tony Bilson, put on a two week long festival called Cuisine Now which brought four of Australia’s best chefs and three of Europe’s best chefs together.  Each put on a masterclass, in which the chef demonstrates to the audience how to cook several dishes in their unique style (and perhaps more importantly then taste them!).

When I heard about this, I had to go.  It was a unique opportunity that doesn’t come around often, to be seated a few metres away from one of the world’s greatest chefs while he shows you how to cook something special.  Out of the all the chefs, I chose Tetsuya, probably because I’m most familiar with him and his cooking style, even though I have never actually been to his restaurant! Read more


My friend Niazi is moving back to Melbourne with his wife Gill.  One of their favourite Indian restaurants in Sydney is Mantra, at Ryde.

We have been there before with them, but as they’re moving to Melbourne this weekend, this Tuesday we decided to join them for one last Mantra meal.

Mantra is decked out in very loud, very colourful Northern Indian décor.  Apparently on some weekend nights they have a DJ and bellydancers!

There were nine of us this night, and we ordered a few entrées to share, naan, pappadums, raita and maybe eight mains or so, with both chilli and mango chutney.

A few of the carnivores amongst us decided to be vegetarian for the night (who knows why!?).  This meant that for perhaps the first time in my life, the number of veggoes at the table greatly outnumbered us meat lovers (3 to 1)! Read more


It’s very quiet at work this week, and there are only three of us IT folk actually in the office (out of maybe 20 normally).  We decided this Friday to take a longish lunch and my friend Kev drove us down to a restaurant that he has been raving about recently in Maroubra in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, Kokoroya.

Japanese food would probably have to be at the top of my list of favourite types of food, and I figured it would be difficult to please me.  The way Kev has been talking about it though, I did have high expectations.  I never expected my expectations to be so amazingly exceeded however!

This being one of Kev’s favourite restaurants (and I can understand why), we ceded the ordering to him, and he did a fantastic job.

The deluxe sashimi platter consisted of salmon, tuna, kingfish, prawn and scallop sashimi, and each were so fresh, and so divine that I think they would have to more than top my nicest sashimi experiences (even beating sashimi bars at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fishmarkets!).

The tuna was absolutely amazing, like the rest of the sashimi, it was so tender, the way that sashimi should be.  It all tasted so fresh, and was cut so perfectly that I seriously do not have the vocabulary to describe it. Read more

Weird food: Vietnam

This is my second blog post in my weird food series.  This one takes us to Vietnam, in particular Hanoi where I spent about eight days, coming home just last week.

The most odd, and I’m sure to many, shocking weird food discovery was dog meat.  Dog meat is relatively popular in Vietnam, Korea, the Philippines, East Timor and certain areas of China and Switzerland.  I was expecting to find dog meat in Vietnam, and I did.  I didn’t dare try it though; I’m a bit of a wuss!

There were many signs in restaurants which read “Thit Cho”, which is Vietnamese for dog food.  We didn’t actually realise this until one of my last days in Vietnam, when a local guide we hired for the day told us.

The only time I actually saw dog meat in person was on my first full day in Hanoi, at a local food market called Hang Be.

The dogs are apparently farmed, and people’s pets are not stolen for the meat. Read more

Pizza e Birra

Last night I finally had the chance to go to a restaurant I’ve been dying to go to for years, but have never got around to it.  Like Red Lantern, this was another recommendation from my friend Mark.  Mark is currently living in Laos, and he was in town for a few days so we decided to have dinner with a group of friends from work, and we decided on Pizza e Birra.

It is of course, Italian for “Pizza and Beer” and is quite true to its name.  It’s basically a pizzeria, with only three pasta options on the menu and a shitload of pizzas, and a relatively large beer menu.  Pizza e Birra is located at 500 Crown St., Surry Hills in Sydney.

Pizza e Birra is always crowded, and as they take no reservations, you’re almost guaranteed to have to wait for a table, particularly if you have a large group of people.  There were seven of us, and we arrived at 7pm.  They offered to take one of our phone numbers and call us when a table was available.  We went to the nearby Clock Hotel to have a few beers while we waited.

We wandered back at about 7:45, and had to wait another 15mins or so for our table.

It was worth the wait however.  Both the pizzas and the pasta were fantastic.  The house labelled beer, made by a microbrewery in Melbourne was actually quite nice and went well with the pizza. Read more

Weird food: Cambodia

This is the first in what will hopefully be a series on weird foods that I see around the world.  The articles will be on food that as a carnivorous westerner I find odd.  It’s not judging other cultures, just highlighting certain features of them which are different to my own…

I was in Cambodia about six weeks ago, and I was witness to some of the most bizarre food being sold and eaten that I’ve experienced.

I’d heard of the general availability of spiders and insects as food in Cambodia for some time, and was surprised after arriving in Siem Reap that I couldn’t find any in any of the markets. Read more

Restaurant Bobby Chinn

I was in Hanoi, Vietnam this Christmas.  Why?  Well, my mum decided to move there and work for a year or so, so I went over to spend Christmas with her (blog entry on the trip to come).

Anyway, she doesn’t really have much of a kitchen in her apartment, and neither of us were that keen on cooking Christmas dinner anyway, so we decided to pay a visit to one of Hanoi’s finest eating establishments, Restaurant Bobby Chinn.

Restaurant Bobby Chinn is located in Westlakes (it recently moved), an area very popular with expats living in Hanoi.

They had a special six course Christmas day degustation menu which we of course chose over the à la carte menu. Read more

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