Monday, July 29, 2013

Food Guide: First time in Sydney?

My younger sister Nikki and her boyfriend Siang came to Sydney recently and I brought her to all the restaurants that Sydney was synonymous with so I thought I'd lump all the reviews together into one long post; yeah, you're welcome!

Anyway, this will be useful for those who are planning their first visit to Sydney. All of them are in or around the CBD area so I'll leave out the public transportation details. Use Google Maps and go walk, then you can indulge without the guilt. :)

Oh, and forget all the recently hyped places, these are ones that have actually stood the unforgiving test of time!

No breakfast/brunch places as there was no time for it what with their day tours and all. Think I will make another guide for that once I have tried all the popular cafes. Look at me sacrificing my waistlines and time for this blog lol...

Okay, moving on.

We brought them to Pancakes On The Rocks on their first night here for a little dessert. Went to the one at The Rocks as we could show them all the pretty views afterwards. As usual, left waiting at the entrance for a while before any waiter would attend to us. Seriously, it happened to me and the boy EVERY SINGLE TIME...

After finally being seated, we ordered the strawberry patch pancake to share between the four of us (everyone was full from dinner!), and it was its usual fluffy self accompanied by a bevy of beautiful, succulent, fresh strawberries.


Pancakes on the Rocks on Urbanspoon

I've heard that their pork ribs were good as well so I might try them next time, and speaking of pork ribs...

No trip to Sydney is complete without a trip to Hurricane's! Ask any Sydneysider. There are currently a total five outlets, with the most popular one situated in Darling Harbour. I would suggest booking for a table (especially at the Darling Harbour branch) unless you want to brave the permanent queue outside during dinnertime. I booked and I had to wait at the drinking section for 10 minutes before being brought to my table!

This time around though, we went to the branch in Bondi Beach on my sister's insistence. She wanted to see Bondi Beach. At night. #becausewhynot lol

It was my first time at the Bondi branch and I had to say I prefer the atmosphere there. It was more conducive for an intimate night out, where you just want to talk and actually be heard. The lighting was also better at this branch. However, I had to say that the branch at Darling Harbour had the better views... win some lose some!

We were seated right next to the window.

Ohai you two.

Moving on to the food, we ordered a starter of scallops. Served with cauliflower puree and peri peri vinaigrette, they were a winner with everyone around the table. I thought they could have been juicier; then, they would have been perfect.

The scallops were followed by the prime rib (500g), medium-rare and the rib eye (350g), also medium rare. Both were served with chips (the other option was baked potato). And both also totally outshone the pork ribs! I'd go as far as to say that they were among the best I have had in Sydney, no thanks to the unapologetic, carnivore-y juiciness and an all-round tenderness.

The chips were faultless as well.

And not so juicy but delicious nonetheless... THE PORK RIBS! Sweet, sweet mother of heaven... Learned a little too late that night that for 1 dollar, you'll get extra basting sauce (for the chips, duh).


Enjoying the ribs a little too much? Lol.

Go to this one for their steaks, and the Darling Harbour's branch for their pork ribs.

Hurricane's Grill on Urbanspoon

Brought them to have dessert at the famous Gelato Messina after the heavy dinner, voted number 1 food place in Sydney on the TripAdvisor, and rightfully so! Say hello to my yogurt and caramel gelato!

Happy and retarded faces. Me happy, she retarded, lol.

Do like their Facebook profile page for pictures like this...

and this!

I swear it would reduce the most disciplined amongst you to a shivering, hungry mess.

Gelato Messina Surry Hills on Urbanspoon

Hands up Korean BBQ lovers! Yep, that's all of you. The most famous place in Sydney for Korean BBQ would be this restaurant tucked in an alleyway on Pitt Street, Madang. Of all the times the hubby and I had been there, we had NEVER been disappointed. I suspect we would have gone to Madang more if it wasn't for parking issues...

Anyway, they serve up some pretty awesome banchan.

Here's meat for three people. We got the spicy marinated pork and the marinated and de-boned beef short ribs.

Waiting waiting..

They were quite spicy, and that was coming from someone who can eat cili padi fried rice. Very good though, was the unanimous vote.

Ordered a small seafood and shallot pancake to go with all the red meat. I wanted to go for the large one initially, having had no idea how the serving size was like. Thank goodness for the nice waiter who told us that the large one would be too much for the three of us! The pancake was good, and we managed to finish it. The crispy outer layer lent an extra kick to what would have otherwise been an average dish. The picture below shall speak for itself.

Beef! No complaints here as they were sufficiently marinated and tasted very good, with just the right amount of fat and everything.

I lost count of the number of times we asked for refills on the banchans. We found the waiters at Madang to be happily obliging; kudos to that!

Sydney Madang on Urbanspoon

This next one is not strictly a must-visit as you can find it at many other countries now but sit down in Laduree for some good macarons and tea. Pinkies up!

Siang's long black came with a piece of chocolate that he was nice enough to break into two pieces for us. =)

Ordered the Senchayamato tea to share with Nikki. No refill.

Macarons picked by Nikki! They were, anti-clockwise from the top, the praline, the strawberry marshmallow and the salted caramel. Both of them were in love with the salted caramel one but I thought it was pretty ordinary.

Ladurée on Urbanspoon

What's not to love about Chat Thai? Decently priced and consistently good, one is not recommended to step in without a completely empty stomach. As the branch on Campbell Street was closed for renovation, we had to go to the Westfield branch for our fix on a fine Thursday evening!

Nikki and Siang ordered the Thai milk tea. I didn't try it, but they both said it tasted like regular "teh tarik". Good or bad, you decide.

Mussamun beef curry with peanuts and chunky potatoes, oh how I love thee! I have ordered this dish in my few previous trips to Chat Thai and they were always such a treat to the soul! So tender they yielded at a touch of the cutlery beef drowned in sweet, hearty curry... seriously, can you ask for more on a cold winter night? No.

The next dish we ordered was called the yum ma ma, which was an egg noodle salad with seafood. Stay away if you hate coriander! :P That said, all of us thoroughly enjoyed this dish; the simplicity belied the multiple flavors and textures! I especially loved the springy and soft egg noodles!

The next dish was the tom yum gung! At the risk of sounding like a broken radio, we all loved this as well. It came with enough juicy king prawns for everybody and I loved it mainly because the coconut milk wasn't so overpowering it muted the sourness. It was just the right balance, and not too spicy as well.

The fresh spring rolls. Pretty ordinary on its own, not to mention a little doughy as well, but with the caramelized tamarind sauce that tasted just like sweet chili, deliciousness. Nikki said they tasted like sushi. #lolwut

The som tum thai! Had this all to myself! I remember telling the friendly waitress that I wanted it spicy... absolutely no hint of it for some reason lol, but that would be my only gripe of this great dish. Good presentation and there were enough peanuts scattered around for that heavenly crunchiness! Now, if only it was spicy...

The chicken pad thai was mindblowingly good. The oiliness that coated every thin, slurpy strand and the subtle sweetness... No wonder everyone loved it!

You know how there's always another stomach for desserts? Damned if we didn't fill that as well so after perusing the extensive dessert menu for a couple of minutes, we picked two that we deemed most worthy of the extra calories.

Fried dough sticks with sweet pandan/coconut dipping sauce! The sauce was particularly addictive, and what can I say? It was the perfect accompaniment to the mild-tasting carb fest that was the dough sticks!

I was introduced to the tup tim grob by Nikki and boy, did I love it! It had this certain fragrance to it that got me addicted, besides the sweetness, that is. I especially loved the tapioca coated water chestnuts in it... oh just order it! I promise you won't regret it.

Happy satiated face, lol.

Chat Thai Westfield Sydney on Urbanspoon

As there were so many Japanese restaurants in Sydney, it would be a sin to not eat at at least one! I have reviewed my favorite, Umi-Kaiten Zushi before here, but here are some more pictures of goodies from the sushi train to whet your appetite!

Siang ordered the teriyaki chicken. It came with a bowl of rice and miso soup. I thought this seemed like a pretty balanced meal.

As was the wagyu teriyaki beef that Nikki had.

Egg mayo gunkan.

Two pictures from my dinner a few hours ago...

Their miso eggplant is a must-order! It's always super creamy and piping hot! Such a pleasure to eat, I swear!

Umi Kaiten-Zushi on Urbanspoon

And I shall conclude the list here. Of course there are many other places to eat at in Sydney besides the ones that I just reviewed. Some of the others that I can recommend to a first-timer?

1. Home Thai - quite identical to Chat Thai, with the same serving size and the consistently good dishes.

2. Chef's Gallery - if you don't want to go to the rather ubiquitous Din Tai Fung. Chef's Gallery serves up some really good Chinese food. With an extensive menu, there is something for everyone. I love their Chinese roti dishes!

3. Gumshara Ramen - you can't go wrong with a bowl of their ramen; thick, porky broth you would want to drink every drop of and the most tender slices of chashu.

If you have the money to blow...

4. Quay - you can read my review on it here.

5. Guillaume at Bennelong - been here once, and wouldn't mind returning again!

6. Sake Restaurant - Sydney's answer to Nobu.

I could go on all day, but there are enough choices in this list for a first-timer as it is so... ciao! Till the brunch edition! =)


  1. seriously, ur posts never fail to entertain me! <3 *clapping hands* xoxo

    1. Thank you babe! Haha, does it make you want to come to Sydney though? :P

  2. thanks for the post! will definitely refer back to this when my cousins visit sydney one day

    1. You are welcome! Thanks for reading :D