Fish Place, Surry Hills

Located on Foveaux Street, the Fish Place is a simple and convenient spot for lunch. It is cheap, healthy and their fish is delicious and absolutely fresh.

Despite their small menu, they offer a variety of fishes, including a Fish of Day, which can be grilled or fried.

We opted for their popular Smoked salmon bagel and a classic Fish and Chips.

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Smoked salmon bagel ($8.50)
Fish and Chips ($10)

The salmon bagel was made in front of our eyes, with chunky pieces of fresh salmon from the whole fillet on display. The smokiness of the salmon was delicious, especially with the soft bagel and a right amount of cream cheese, onion and capers. The fish and chips was also very tasty, as well as their tartar sauce.

I highly recommend the Fish Place for a quick, healthy and tasty lunch with decent prices. Plus they are open all day (until 8:30pm) so perfect for a late-lunch or a quick dinner!

Fish Place on Urbanspoon

Fish Place
70 Foveaux St
Surry Hills, NSW 2010

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fish-Place/218388431637933

Chur Burger, Surry Hills

Chur Burger is everywhere… on urbanspoon, food blogs, food guides… but is it worth all that hype?

Well… YES! With their $10 burgers and new super convenient location, the restaurant is definitely worth a visit!

As we got there at around 3pm, the place was not packed, but there will still quite a few customers. This is what I like about this place, it is one of the few places in Surry Hills that still serves hot food at 3pm (opening hours: Mon 11:30AM – 5:30PM; Tues-Sat 11:30AM – 10PM).

As we were sitting near the kitchen bar, we could see and smell everything that was being prepared in the kitchen- everything looked so appetising!

We ordered a Milo milkshake, two burgers and some sweet potato fries to share:

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Crumbed fish fillet, pickled cucumber, lemon mayo, dill ($10)

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Grilled lamb, mint sauce, feta, red onion, aioli ($10)

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Sweet potato fries, garlic, lime ($5)

I personally preferred the crumbed fish burger, as the fish was beautifully done, very crispy but also well done on the inside. The lemon mayo and the pickled cucumber complimented the crumbed fish and added so much flavour to each mouthful.

I expected a bit more mint flavour in the mint sauce for the lamb burger, but the burger was still very tasty and the lamb well cooked and tender.

Their serving of sweet potato fries is quite generous, although we couldn’t finish them as we were too full after eating the burgers. I chose sweet potato fries over regular fries as I haven’t had any in a long time, but also because as they are seen as a ‘healthier’ option, but who am I kidding? Burger + regular chips = BEST

The Milo milkshake was also very chocolatey and sweet, but oh so delicious!

Chur Burger
48 Albion Street
Surry Hills

http://churburger.com.au/

Chur Burger on Urbanspoon

Claire’s Kitchen at Le Salon

As my friends and I decided to go on a traditional French cuisine night, I suggested Claire’s Kitchen.
Coming from France I actually haven’t tried many French restaurants here in Sydney, I tend to find them slightly overpriced and not comparable to restaurants in France. However, I do miss some French traditional dishes and I am always very excited to take my friends to a French restaurant so they can try some French delicacies… [some Délices culinaires françaises! Aha!]

All the waiters are French, and hearing them communicating in la langue de Molière with each other adds to the French atmosphere of the restaurant. Some of them were quite surprised hearing me speaking French without an accent. I love my camouflage; people can never tell a French foodie is hidden behind this Asian appearance of mine.

As I wanted my friends to experience a few traditional dishes, we ordered several dishes to try, 2 entrées, 4 mains and 2 desserts, and of course, a few cocktails and glasses of wine! Ah bah oui !

Complimentary bread

Complimentary bread

The bread came in a basket with butter on the side, which was not salted at all (in France they normally serve it half-salted: ‘demi-sel’), but there was salt and pepper on the table so it was up to us to salt it as we liked it.

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Glass of Rosé (Bouchard Rosé de France, Avenas, Rhône) $10
Claire de Lune (mix of Vodka and Crème Yvettes stirred with fresh
lime, mint and raspberries, sparkling wine) $17

As we were conversing while waiting for food, we realised the entrées took really long to come to our table (we waited about 40min to an hour…). At that point we already started to get full from eating the bread with butter.

Entrées

Soufflé aux trois fromages

Soufflé au fromage (Twice cooked three cheese soufflé) $24

The soufflé au fromage was delicious. It wasn’t a big puffy soufflé that you often see with dessert soufflés, but this one was dense and packed with cheese inside; oh so yummy!

Additional info: soufflé comes from the verb souffler, which means to blow up/puff up – which is actually what happens when a soufflé is baked in an oven!

Escargots

Escargots bourguignons (Traditional French snails in garlic, parsley and Cognac butter) $22 for a dozen

The escargots were also quite delicious. Also, as opposed to what most people might think, us French, don’t eat escargots all the time, we eat them at special occasions (e.g. Christmas or NYE), often as appetizers.

Fun fact /’Let’s learn something new with Lisa today’: Snails are actually packed with nutrients like calcium, magnesium and vitamin C.

So, keen to taste them now? No? Oh well, I tried! (It’s okay, there are actually many French people who have NEVER tried escargots!)

As we asked for a bit more bread to accompany our entrees (having eaten almost all of it during the long wait for entrees), they told us we already had a basket, and another one would cost us $4.50. Well, we thought it wasn’t necessary and ended up sharing the last portion of bread to accompany the soufflé au fromage and the succulent escargots jus. I thought that was a bit disappointing knowing we had to wait about an hour for entrées.

After entrées we waited for about 45 minutes for our mains to come. Although the wait was getting a bit frustrating for us, the quality of the food made up for it once our mains were served.

Plats principaux

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Canard en croute (Duck and Pinot Noir pie with melted brie under the puff pastry crust) $36

The Canard en Croute was one of the waiter’s recommendations, and indeed, it is one of the dishes they do best at Claire’s Kitchen. The pastry was crispy and light, and the duck very tender and tasty.

Carré d'agneau (Junee Gold rack of lamb with herb crust served with gratin Dauphinois and roasted garlic jus) $36

Carré d’agneau (Junee Gold rack of lamb with herb crust served with gratin Dauphinois and roasted garlic jus) $36

Chateaubriand Béarnaire pour Deux (Beef tenderloin for two to share with Béarnaise sauce and all the trimmings) $70

Chateaubriand Béarnaire pour Deux (Beef tenderloin for two to share with Béarnaise sauce and all the trimmings) $70

Sides (French beans, mushrooms, gratin Dauphinois) & Sauce Béarnaise

Sides (French beans, mushrooms, gratin Dauphinois) & Sauce Béarnaise

All of our meats were very tender and juicy, very well-cooked. The Chateaubriand came with sides: some French beans, some gratin dauphinois (potato gratin) and some mushrooms. The highlight of this dish was definitely the Béarnaise sauce.

After our mains we were very full, but we had to try a few desserts, after seeing many of the dessert plates being carried around by the waiters.

Desserts

Dessert plate selection

Desserts tray

We wanted to try all of them, but we settled for an éclair au chocolat and a lemon tart to share.

The presentation of the two desserts made it more appetising, especially with the little scoops of vanilla ice cream on the side. We were all salivating already but it was almost too pretty to eat and destroy this lovely presentation…

Éclair au chocolat $18 Lemon tart $18

Éclair au chocolat $18
Lemon tart $18

The two desserts were exquisite, especially the lemon tart. You could really taste the lemon inside and it was not too sweet itself. The chocolate éclair was also very good, although the croute was harder than a usual éclair. I personally preferred the lemon tart because I found the chocolate éclair a little bit too rich and sweet.

The bill came up to $280, but with the entertainment card we had $40 off, so $240 in total. I found the prices decent, apart from the desserts ($18 each).

Overall the food is good and very traditional, the atmosphere very elegant and ‘French’ (chic wallpaper, nice couches, chandeliers…). The low noise level and the ambiance of the restaurant allows easy conversations (so perfect for a catch up dinner with friends or for a romantic date!). The waiters are nice and friendly but the only disappointing aspect for us that night was the slow service (about an hour and a half to a 2 hour wait in total).

I would recommend this place if you’re looking for good French traditional dishes, but not if you’re in a hurry (Our dinner lasted for about 3 hours in total).

Claire's Kitchen at Le Salon on Urbanspoon

Mizuya, Sydney CBD

Mizuya is one of the Japanese restaurants you want to go to when you’re with a group of friends, or just with your partner, looking for good Japanese food in a relaxed and intimate setting. Indeed, the booths at Mizuya are large, allowing up to 6-8 people to be seated; but if you’re only two, it allows you to have dinner in all privacy.
Each booth has a touch-screen tablet with an ordering system, which makes it really fun and interactive. This gives you time to look at the entire menu before ordering and the images and descriptions of each dish are very helpful in choosing what to order. They have an extensive menu that includes Kushiyaki (skewers grilled – e.g. grilled chicken, ox tongue, duck), Kushiage (deep-fried skewers – e.g. deep-fried prawns, beef, cheese on skewers), Teppanyaki (meat or fish fried with vegetables on a hot steel plate), Hot pots, Sides and salads, and the usual Sushi/Sashimi. Yep, there is a lot to choose from!

Also, because of this ordering system, there is no service, the staff just brings the food out and clears the table. However, you can always press ‘Call staff’ on the tablet if you need help or want some water (yes you’ll have to ask for that).Nevertheless the staff is nice and friendly, and the food comes pretty quickly after ordering from the touch screens. The prices are decent ($$) although they have been increasing their prices lately, but what you pay for is mainly for the ambiance of the restaurant, and the private booths.

Here are some of the new dishes they have added to their menu since our last visits:

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Salmon Tataki with spicy Ponzu sauce $10.80

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Wagyu beef & mix mushroom udon $10.80

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Teriyaki chicken salad $9.80

Their salads are huge (good value for money!) and their Japanese dressing is delicious (as always.. I love Japanese salad dressing!)

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Salmon Aburi
An all-time favourite!

Mizuya is also known for its private karaoke rooms so I would recommend this place for karaoke lovers who want to digest their food and sing their hearts out after dinner.

And I forgot to mention… drinks! They have a number of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, which are very refreshing and cheap, especially during Happy Hour (3pm until 7pm: $5 all beers and $10 all cocktails!)

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Cocktails yaay!

Mizuya Japanese Restaurant and Karaoke on Urbanspoon

The Book Kitchen, Surry Hills

It’s always hard to find empty seats at Bourke Street bakery, especially on weekends, but luckily there is a lovely cafe located just across the road: The Book Kitchen! This cafe can get quite busy, but the wait for a table is usually quick.

Why do I like The Book Kitchen?

Well ironically, not for its books (I am not a book nerd :() but for its friendly atmosphere and its food. They have an all-day breakfast menu, which I think is something all cafes should have. I mean, who doesn’t like breakfast food? Who hasn’t craved an Egg & bacon roll or some bacon and avocado on sourdough toast at 2pm after a lazy morning? Well I have!

We have been there quite a few times, but each time was enjoyable, the service and quality of food is consistent.

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Cook’s muesli with Greek yoghurt ($7/$10) with fruits ($4)
220g grainge beef sirloin seasoned with the TBK spice rub, served with roasted kipflers & tomatoes, confit eschallot, green beans & veal jus ($20)

The Cook’s muesli was nice and crunchy, perfect when combined with their Greek yoghurt and some seasonal fruits.

The beef was very tender and the veal jus quite delicious; but we thought the vegetables (roasted kipflers and tomatoes) were a little bit too mushy.

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Hand cut chips with spicy harrisa or hand whipped aioli or malt vinegar ($6)

These ‘chips’ are so big they look like wedges, but they are absolutely delicious! Crunchy on the outside and seasoned with the perfect amount of salt.

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Trio corn fritters, avocado salsa, poached egg and your choice of smoked salmon or bacon ($20) or both ($23)
Fish fillets in a chickpea batter with a romesco and witlof, apple and herb salad ($19)

Second time we went we opted for their trio of corn fritters with avocado, egg and bacon, and fish fillets with salad. The fish fillets were nice, not too cooked on the inside and the salad was well-dressed.
I highly recommend the corn fritters as the flavours of each item of the dish go really well together (although the third time we went I thought their corn fritters was a little bit too floury- but that was just that one time). All their ingredients used are fresh, and you can tell by looking at the avocado salsa and rocket. Also the poached egg was just perfect! Smooth with a runny yolk on the inside…

The Book Kitchen is an ideal place for book lovers, as they have a section with many books and newspapers, with cushions and stools. It has a very cosy feel to it and the staff is usually very nice and friendly. So if next time Bourke Street Bakery is too packed, go across the road and try The Book Kitchen!

The Book Kitchen on Urbanspoon

La Mesa, Sydney (Chinatown)

I’ve been wanting to try out this restaurant since its opening in Chinatown (originally located in Dee Why). As a kid I had a Filipino babysitter and she would cook some of her country’s traditional dishes for me. I haven’t had any Filipino food for a very long time so I was very excited to bring back those memories!

Although I made a booking for 7:30pm, we arrived a bit late and by the time we got there, they already gave our table to other customers waiting in line without bookings. However, the staff was very nice and we didn’t mind waiting another 20min for a table. Seeing the dishes being served at each table was very mouth-watering but also very intriguing, as we tried to guess what each dish was by looking at the menu.

After being seated, we ordered straightaway. We started with a Mixed Entrée, which included of a fried quail egg, a spring roll, beef tapa, deep fried prawn cake and a pork/chicken skewer with sweet chilly sauce and vinegar.

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Mixed entrée ($8.50)

We ordered this dish so we could try a bit of everything in their Entree menu, but unfortunately it was a bit too small to share between 3 people. Each one of us only had a small piece of everything, which was good if you didn’t like one of the items on the plate, but not so good if you wanted more of something in particular.

The stand out of this dish was the beef tapa, although the crispy spring roll and the grilled chicken skewer were also very tasty. I was disappointed by the quail egg as I expected a bit more flavour, it was just a boiled egg with batter on the outside, the inside was quite dry and a bit overcooked in my opinion. The shrimp cake was interesting, although there was only one small shrimp in it. I felt a bit disappointed, it’s a bit like the feeling you get when you expect big pieces of shrimps in your Har Gao (Chinese prawn dumplings), but only get tiny shrimps all mushed together…

Next came the popular Chicken Adobo and the Sinigang na hipon with a serving of garlic rice and plain rice:

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Top: Sinigang na hipon (Prawns cooked in tamarind soup with vegetables, eggplant and snakebeans) $20
Middle left: Chicken Adobo (Tender chicken fillets cooked in sugar cane vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and black pepper) $16
Middle right: Plain Boiled Rice (small – $3)
Bottom: Garlic Rice (small – $4.50)

The Sinigang was full of flavours; the tamarind soup was very delicate and sweet.

The pieces of chicken in the Chicken Adobo were huge. The sauce/broth underneath was full of flavours, a perfect seasoning for the chicken. However, I wish the chicken contained more flavours itself, so we didn’t have to constantly dig in for more sauce.

And best for last:

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Crispy pata (Pork leg made tender through steam and deep fried to make its skin and meat crispy; served with a sauce concoction of vinegar, soy sauce and garlic) $20

The Crispy Pata was definitely the highlight of our meal. The crispiness of the pork skin was just perfect and the meat was well-cooked and juicy. The vinegar-based sauce was also very good, so good that we couldn’t eat a piece of the crispy pata without dipping it in it. It was almost addictive!

At the end of our mains we were so full that we couldn’t fit dessert, (I wanted to try their leche flan or casava cake), but oh well, there is always a next time!

What I also really enjoyed was the ambiance of the restaurant, as it was full of customers (mostly Asian) but also included Filipino locals. The noisy background, the artworks and the pictures of old Manilla on the walls created this strong Asian atmosphere. During the course of our dinner we had the feeling that we were eating at a local restaurant in the Philippines…

Food: 8.5/10
Service: 7.5/10
Ambiance: 8.5/10
Price range: $$

Date of visit: August 2013

La Mesa on Urbanspoon

Toko Restaurant & Bar, Surry Hills

Well, for your first foodie blog post, you gotta start with one of the best!

Dining at Toko was simply amazing, one of the best Japanese food experiences I’ve ever had.

Situated on Crown Street, the restaurant always appears packed, on weekdays and on weekends. Reading about the restaurant online, I was surprised by their expensive prices ($$$), and I thought to myself; How much better can sushi be at that price? I mean, it’s just sushi, right? Yet, I was eager to try it, especially after reading so many good reviews.

Bon appétit !

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Left: tai no sashimi to karikari buta (thinly sliced wild snapper, truffle oil, pork crackling)
Right: sake no miso tarutaru (salmon tartare, wasabi miso, lotus root crisps

Eating the thin slices of snapper dressed in truffle oil with tiny bits of pork crackling was simply exquisite. Each element of the dish would melt in your mouth, creating a perfect combination of textures and flavours. The salmon tartare is not the usual Western style salmon tartare you get in restaurants or the one you make at home, this one was mixed with wasabi miso and salmon roe, which went really well with the thin lotus root crisps.

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Toko signature sushi:
hotate no ponzu to wasabi ae gunkan (chopped scallop, ponzu, wasabi, cucumber)
aburi to umeboshi no unagi nigiri (unagi, torched foie gras, umeboshi)
wagyu no nigiri (seared wagyu beef nigiri, eschallots, chives)

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aburi to umeboshi no unagi nigiri (unagi, torched foie gras, umeboshi)

 This sushi was probably one of the best I’ve ever had in my life! I’ve always had foie gras on toast (French Christmas tradition!), but I never thought of having it with fish. The saltiness of the eel combined with the slightly melted foie gras on top created this unique flavour. Oh I want some more!

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watari-gani no karaage
crispy soft-shell crab, wasabi mayonaise

Dessert time!

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torokeru chocolato to hazelnut no fondant
chocolate and hazelnut fondant, milk ice cream

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rubarbu crumble nihonshu shabetto zoe
chilled rhubarb-macadamia crumble, vanilla custard, apple sorbet

The chocolate and hazelnut fondant was my favourite (obviously, as a chocolate-lover!) but rhubarb crumble was also delightful, and the apple sorbet very refreshing.

Toko was such a good place to celebrate Monsieur and I’s one-year anniversary. The food was delicious and the restaurant wasn’t too noisy, allowing us to enjoy a romantic and cheesy dinner.
 

Food: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Ambiance: 8/10
Price range: $$$

Date of visit: March 2013

Toko Restaurant & Bar
490 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010 Australia
Telephone +61 2 9357 6100

http://www.toko.com.au/surry_hills/restaurant/

Toko Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon