Sunday, 26 August 2012

Botanica Garden Cafe - Waverton, Sydney

Botanica Garden Cafe is a adorable little, newly opened cafe just opposite Waverton station. It's become a local favourite for lazy weekend breakfasts, as they have a nice outdoor seating area, including a quirky outdoor lounge area, water bowl for the pets, and plenty of newspapers (my must have on a weekend!)

Cute mismatched crockery

The colourful wall mural is a lovely touch

Menus are out the front of the shop and you help yourself, orders are made at the counter

Lunch menu

Freshly squeezed juice - Summer haze, a mixture of watermelon, pineapple, jackfruit and lychee

Drunken sailor - golden cajun beer battered flathead fillets with hand cut chips, fresh garden salad and lemon myrtle mayo

Lovely fillets of juicy fish with crispy batter. The lemon myrtle mayo was a nice accompaniment with the chips

Baked spanish omelette - with plenty of potato, mushrooms and delicious chorizo

I did think the eggs were overdone though - would have loved it to be a little gooey inside

On the other hand, the eggs benedict were perfect

After a nice breakfast lunch, the neighbourhood is perfect for a scenic stroll around Ball's Head reserve.

Botanica Garden Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Hana Ju-rin - Crows Nest, Sydney

I've been having fun checking out all the places to eat around the Neutral Bay and Crow's Nest area lately.  

One of places I've recently checked off my to-try-list is Hana Ju-rin, located within the cluster of Japanese restaurants on the Pacific Highway strip. Hana Ju-Rin was opened in 2010 to cope with the demand of it's original restaurant, Ju-Rin, located just a few shops down the road.

Arriving early on a weeknight, the restaurant was booked out so we were offered seats at the sushi counter, which I really enjoyed as I had front row seats to all the sushi making action, plus I was seated to these super fragrant and pretty flowers!

Assorted sushi (Small) - super fresh and watched the sushi chef work his magic

From the specials menu - Stuffed zucchini flowers

9 kinds of Japanese appetizers - Loved the pretty presentation of this, the dishes included seaweed salad with white sesame, duck, croquettes, tempura, abalone, eel and daikon. 

This was another dish from the specials menu - Grilled eel

Yakisoba omelette - This reminded me of omurice, but with fried noodles underneath the perfectly teppanyaki cooked omelette

Cherry blossom rice cake - A traditional Japanese dessert, served warm with a very floral and fragrant aroma

Ice cream tempura with berry sauce

I've read that they do a good okonomiyaki, so I will be definitely trying that next time!

Hana Ju-Rin Japanese on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

4fourteen - Surry Hills, Sydney

So work has finally moved to the city, and I'm slowly exploring the plethora of eateries around Surry Hills/Central. 

Before work moved, I was pretty much stuck out in the sticks during week days. On a rare week day off, I took the advantage and headed to Surry Hills for lunch.  After a very helpful Twitter suggestion for good solo dining options (great tool for when you're stuck for places to eat!) I decided to head to 4fourteen and grab a seat at the bar. 

I enjoyed the place so much the first time, I went back a few weeks later - this is a mishmash of two visits, so no, I didn't eat all this by myself in one visit :P

Passion # 4 - passionfruit, ginger, lime, gingerbeer, 666 vodka

I really enjoyed sitting right up near the action at the bar. Definitely recommend getting a seat here if you're dining solo, or in a small group.

Avant Another - white peach, orange, aperol, 666 vodka

I chose this cocktail as I love white peach, and it was lovely and fruity (they don't scrimp on the alcohol either!)

Open kitchen, view from the bar seats

Suckling Pig - Cauliflower, Prunes & Cabbage Salad

I enjoyed all that fabulous pork crackling. Mmmm

Warm Crab Roll with Spiced Avocado Puree

This is a dish I ordered on my second visit. It fresh and delicious, but I did question the value of this dish.  It was around $14, for the one roll. 

3 Hour Celeriac '3-Ways'

Absolutely loved this dish, especially the super sweet roasted version. 

Crumbed Pigs Tail, crab and corn salad, avocado puree

Loved this combination of the crispy crumbed pigs tail and the sweet crab and corn salad. This has to be one of my favourite dishes.

Chicken Wing - Parfait, Tortilla and Quince Chutney

The bite size, boneless chicken wing is a winner, paired beautifully with the crunchy tortilla and fragrant chutney


I've heard rave reviews about the bounty, so when it came to choosing dessert, it was a no brainer. It was creamy, coconutty and absolutely delicious!

Would love to go back and try more of the menu ie: Irish Breakfast and more of the dessert menu

4Fourteen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Mr Wong - Bridge Street, Sydney

After hearing that the new addition to the Merivale family, a contemporary Cantonese restaurant - Mr Wong, I was super keen to try it out last night.

Hidden down Bridge lane, down the dark alleyway, blink and you'll miss the non-descript entrance. The restaurant is huge, seating 240 over two levels. The decor is sleek, with a colonial touch.

We sat next to the kitchen which enabled us to see all the action happening, such as dumplings being made and dessert being plated up. 

The service at Mr Wong is friendly and attentive, our waiter giving us very thorough recommendations. The menu presents some familiar Cantonese favourites, some with an interesting twist or variation.  At the beginning of the night, I'm especially looking forward to the lovely sounding dessert menu. 

But first things first for a Friday night, drinks! The wine list is impressive, with a menu thicker than the food menu.  The mocktails also sound pretty fab too, with a black sesame frappe and a coconut and kaffir lime martini amongst other creations.

No. 9 Hebei Province - Sake, strawberry liqueur, pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, fresh basil and strawberries

The cocktail list doesn't disappoint and each cocktail is named after a province in China, with the fruit, herb or spice used in the drink being renowned for that region. 

No. 8 Shandong Province - Plymouth gin, apple liqueur, lemon juice, sugar syrup, apple juice, champagne and wasabi foam; No. 9 Hebei Province, and a mocktail; No. 3 Pomegranate and Green Tea Lemonade - Green tea, pomegranate syrup, cherry bitters, lime juice, lemonade, tapioca pearls and fresh mint

No. 2 - Shaanxi Province - Sochu, mandarin liqueur, lemon juice, fresh nashi pear, cardarmon and grapefruit bitters

Deep-fried dim sum platter - crispy beef roll, lobster mei si roll, pear taro croquette, foie gras prawn toast. 

A step up on your average dim sims - I especially loved the cute pear shaped croquettes! 

Alaskan snow crab, chrysanthemum leaves, nashi pear and ginger

Such a refreshing salad with chunks of the juicy, sweet Alaskan crab and crunchy strips of nashi pear

Peking duck pancake

One of the best versions in Sydney, the peking duck came out nice and hot, with delightfully crispy skin

Sichuan style eggplant, dark soy and chilli - another highlight dish for the table

Red braised pork belly with fresh apple salad - tender pieces of pork served in a hot pot, perfect comfort food for the gale force winds we've been experiencing!

Mr Wong's special fried rice (vegetarian version) 

"Mapo tofu" - stir fried pork mince with chilli and Sichuan pepper served on freshly steamed soy milk custard - This was a lovely take on the traditional mapo tofu, with the Sichuan pepper giving it a pretty spicy kick.  I loved the soy milk custard which was down the bottom, so silky smooth and a pleasure to eat with mouthfuls of rice.

We all saved room for dessert, and so it was one of each option to share:

Roast white chocolate ice cream, yuzu curd, longans and raspberries

This was my favourite dessert. It was fantastic, with the sweet and nutty roast white chocolate ice cream and the citrus tang of the yuzu curd, and fresh berries and longan. I'm definitely coming back to have this all to myself...

Mr. Wong's deep fried ice cream served with butter scotch sauce

Green apple ice, osmanthus jelly, water chestnuts and coconut sorbet

A lovely, light and refreshing dessert

Strawberries, meringue, macadamia praline, cream cheese ice cream and Thai basil

A close second favourite, this dish reminded me of a strawberry cheesecake. 

Mr Wong is open 7 days a week from 12pm, so I can definitely see myself paying more visits to try out the yum cha and more of the dishes. 

Mr Wong on Urbanspoon