Category Archives: Modern Asian

Queen Chow, Enmore

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The Merivale winds, having blown North, South and East, have found their way to the Inner West, this time transforming Enmore’s Queen Victoria Hotel. Gone are the Indiana Jones pinball machine, the pool table and the pokies.  Instead you’ll find a variety of taxidermy (!), a baby elephant figure,  a Roman statue, and some mighty fine Chinese.

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Downstairs, while flanked by a long bar, is a bit more sombre and restaurant-y. Upstairs is The Smelly Goat bar, with some cool and cosy little nooks, and a lovely light filled enclosed outdoor dining verandah.  The staff are on top of it all and very welcoming.

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We start of course with dumplings (Eric Koh is in da house) which are all delicious. The Marito and Small People particularly rate the prawn har gau, and the casing is definitely more delicate than elsewhere.   I had my eye on the lobster and asparagus dumplings for my second visit but they had disappeared from the menu!

The duck spring rolls remind me very much of Mr Wong, which is not a bad thing at all.  There’s a reason why Mr Wong is still packing them in every night 5 years on.

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There’s a twist on the classic cheung fun – here the cuttlefish is wrapped it a fried bread crumb then the rice noodle.   The Marito gives this a big thumbs up.

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I love the salt and pepper squid, silken tofu and prawns with chilli bean mayo.  Done with such a light hand.

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I also really like the “slightly fires the emperor” of cuttlefish, macadamia and garlic chive (though there isn’t much cuttlefish). Its fresh and the macadamia and crunch of baby corn add some good texture.

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But I’m a little disappointed with the angus beef, served with baby king oyster mushrooms and potato.  Its a little dry, the beef is chewy and the potatoes are bland.

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The barbecue duck though, is juicy and tasty

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Back onto seafood, we’re winning.  The steamed market fish (that day barramundi) with ginger, shallot, and white soy, is a deftly executed Chinese classic.

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The Moreton Bay bugs with kombu butter and asparagus are dressed to impress.

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And make sure you leave room for the fried rice.

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There are desserts on the menu, but its pretty hard to resist the lure of Cow and Moon right next door, where we bump into fellow diners.  However you will get fortune cookies with your bill.

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On behalf of Italian Mammas, I do have a bone to pick with you Queen Chow – shall we take it outside?

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Queen Chow, 167 Enmore Road, Enmore
Ph 02 9240 3000
http://merivale.com.au/queenchow

Queen Chow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Osaka Trading Co, Tramsheds

Saturday night, booking in hand, the Marito and some friends and I headed to the recently opened Tramsheds re-development.  It’s well designed with a good variety of venues at various price points, where you could easily find yourself going regularly. There’s also a large supermarket, a nail bar, a barber and a bottle shop.  Some of the restaurants such as Fish & Co do takeaway, so you can sit in the casual eating area if you prefer this, as well as an area with pop ups that changes very frequently.

We headed for the modern Japanese eatery Osaka Trading Co which we all really enjoyed and would happily go to back to.  Service was friendly, if a little distracted given how busy they were, and we were pretty impressed with how a teeny kitchen churned out the food.

A refreshing cocktail and some edamame to start, and we were off.

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Our first dish was a special that night, prawn katsu, rather than the traditional pork katsu. Made with minced prawn, this was so delicious with crispy fresh lettuce and a mayonnaise.  We were tempted to order another round of it but we knew we had a lot more food coming.

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Loved the grilled Hokkaido scallops, served with sweet soy onion butter, a beautiful velvety sauce.

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The tempura zucchini flowers were the right amount of crispy but I wasn’t a big fan of the fish mousse inside

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The octopus, while tasty, was unfortunately a little chewy. The little cubes crisp potato were very morish.

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Also on the specials board that night was Hapuka fillet with buckwheat, shio koji (salted rice malt) and sorrel.  This was lovely, the fish was so delicate, and it would make a great individual main if you preferred that to sharing.

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The heirloom tomato salad came with yuzu kosho which is like a citrus chilli pepper and gave it a good kick.

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Last was wagyu tri-tip with Japone sauce which was so tender and so juicy. Beautifully cooked.

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The dessert menu was short, three desserts or so, but we opted to head over to Messina for a gelato, which was doing a roaring trade.

Osaka also have a banquet menu available for $50 per person.

We will certainly be back at Tramsheds (in fact we have already since this first visit, and the Small People have their eye on The Butcher and The Farmer for their birthday dinner), the thoughtful mix of venues and regularly changing pop ups ensures there is likely something to tempt everyone.

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Osaka Trading Co, Ph +61 2 8880 0717
http://www.osakatrading.com.au/

Osaka Trading Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mama’s Buoi, Crows Nest

Most cultures have a word or a phrase that means “mummy’s boy”.  In Italian it is mammone, in Greek mamakias.  And while “buoi” is actually the Vietnamese word for a type of grapefruit, the name of this traditional Vietnamese eatery is in fact a play on words by founder Bao Hoang, and a reflection of love and admiration for his mother, and recipes he learnt from her along the way.

I had often walked past its little corner in Crows Nest, seeing heads bent over steaming pho or munching on rice paper rolls.  The place doesn’t take bookings, but on a cold and wet Sunday night we are in luck and seats are free in the small indoor area, as most of the seating is outside.  I’m having a long overdue catch up with a lovely friend; like the Marito, she is a vegacquarian, so we stick to vegetables and a fish dish.  Everything that comes out is tasty, light and fragrant, and I would happily come back to try some of the meat dishes. The staff are friendly and attentive too.

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We start with some fresh rice paper rolls with mushroom and tofu

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Followed by this delicious dish of smoky eggplant with a slight hint of chilli. My friend, who has an ambivalent relationship with eggplant, loves it.

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Mushroom and snow pea stir fry, simple and tasty

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The barramundi, marinated in lemongrass and kaffir lime comes with a decent chill hit and is very fragrant, though the fish is a little overcooked

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It is a pleasant and unfussy meal in a relaxed environment, just what we needed to cram in a few months worth of conversation.

For groups, there is a $49 banquet menu

Mama’s Buoi, 77 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest, Ph 02 9438 5005
http://www.mamasbuoi.com.au

Mama's Buoi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ho Lee Fook, Hong Kong

I found myself in Hong Kong for work recently and a bunch of us headed over to Ho Lee Fook in the lively Soho district.  I’d heard good things about the creations of Taiwanese chef Jowett Yu, who spent some time at Sydney at Tetsuya and Mr Wongs, among others. Head down the stairs past the peacocks and waving cats and the basement dining space awaits – dark but with some bright wall lights.

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There is plenty on the menu that looks inviting and it is hard to decide what to order.   Our friendly server tells us that night they have the crispy skin chicken as a special – usually it needs to be ordered in advance – and tells us there is only one serve left.  When we say we’ll take it, she does an Olympic worthy sprint to notify the kitchen so someone else doesn’t grab it. That’s what you call service. Once back, we give her our other choices and ask what she thinks.  “How hungry are you”, she says, “because you really should add the beef short rib”.  It is their signature dish she tells us, so it needs to be done.

There’s also a pretty impressive whiskey menu if you’re in for a big night.

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We start with Mom’s “mostly cabbage, a little bit of pork” dumplings with a sacha soy dressing.  These are plain yum with a nice chunky texture inside.

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Then onto a unusual dish of grilled calamari, with a very clever touch of delicious quid ink onion jam, XO sauce, shishito peppers, and some spiced pumpkin seeds giving some texture. I did find it a little dry though, a drizzle of something over the octopus would have helped.

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Simply done stir-fried greens – asparagus, broccoli, sugar snap peas – ensured that we felt sufficiently virtuous. So too did the twice-cooked green beans with pickled turnips, five-spiced tofu, Chinese olive; the beans had nice freshness and crunch.

Next came the Kurobuta pork char-siu.  When we ordered this we were asked “lean or fat” – we opted for the lean but it was still juicy and very very tasty.

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The shell fish oil was very distinct in the prawn lo mein, so a good dish for those who like robust flavours.

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The special crispy skin chicken arrives. It has this slightly sour crumb sprinkled over it, I am not sure what it was but I loved it and the texture it added.

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Then came the signature roast Wagyu short ribs.  Knock out dish, adored the jalapeño purée and the green shallot kimchi it came with.

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The deserts coming out looked great, but alas there was no capacity after that feast!

Ho Lee Fook,  1 Elgin St,  Hong Kong, Ph +852 2810 0860
http://holeefookhk.tumblr.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Billy Kwong, Potts Point

You get a prize at Billy Kwong if you can read Kylie’s specials menu. Actually no you don’t, but you should get a free dessert or something if you can decipher it all. I almost made it, our friendly waitress intervened and helped out, but my main concern was checking that Kylie’s signature duck with blood plums was on there somewhere.billykwong (1)

If you haven’t heard, Billy Kwong has moved to Macleay Street in Potts Point, seating triple or so what the Crown Street site did – and – woohoo – it now takes bookings, no more queuing or waiting at any nearby dodgy drinking establishments to get a call after you put your name down on the list. Those uncomfortable stools are gone as well (they seem to have been donated to Hamish at Bar H?).

There is a long long long bar counter that spans the large kitchen, which is great if you want to eat solo or as a pair, and I reckon the staff easily clock up their required daily FitBit miles walking the length of that counter a few times.

There were six of us and we opted for a la’ carte, but there is a “Kylie’s banquet” for $75 where they choose the dishes. I didn’t realise till I went through the photos just how much we ate – we gave that menu a good nudge!  I know that some people will say that you pay overs for Chinese here, but remember that everything in the restaurant is organic where possible, and all the seafood sustainably sourced.

Steamed mini steamed pork buns with Rooftop Honey. Mmmmmm. The Rooftop Honey comes from the beehives on the roof of the Wayside Chapel made by the homeless – Kylie has always been generous about helping those in need.billykwong (3)

Steamed Sydney Rock Oysters – simple and deliciousbillykwong (4)

Sung Choi Bao of Pork, Ginger and Mushrooms. This was probably the only slightly disappointing dish, it just didn’t have the zing and flavour of the others.billykwong (12)

Rice Noodle Rolls with Braised Beef Brisket, Black Bean and Chilli. These were a table fave, I was secretly hoping that someone would temporarily turn vegetarian so I could have two.billykwong (5)

Steamed Fish Fillet with Ginger, Spring Onions and Shiro Soyu – a classic Chinese dish well executed.billykwong (10)

Dry-fried Green Beans with Miso, Chilli and Sesame Seeds. I ordered these because I felt we should have some green vegetables, and they were really good!billykwong (9)

Crispy Skin Duck with Orange and Davidsons plum. This dish has been on the menu since the beginning I think.billykwong (8)

Deep Fried Fish Wings in Young Henry’s Pearl Ale. Something a little different and good flavour and texturebillykwong (6)

Cantonese style Fried Rice. A good pepper hit in here or some other spice?billykwong (7)

Ginger soy pannacotta. Everyone claimed to be too full for dessert so only two of us ordered one. However once everyone tried a spoon full there was almost some fighting at the table. Really smooth and a subtle ginger flavour. The Chinese may have claimed they were the first ones to invent noodles and pasta, but the Italians have one up on the pannacotta stakes!billykwong (11)

billykwong (2)Billy Kwong, 28 Macleay St, Potts Point, Ph (02) 9332 3300
http://www.billykwong.com.au/

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Cho Cho San, Potts Point

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Cho Cho San – it’s hip, hot, and on the blossoming Potts Point food strip. The name comes from Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, the butterfly being CioCio-san. Like many operas it is a tragedy, but there is no tragedy to be found in this relatively new, neutrally coloured izakaya, started by the team behind Apollo. Already heaving when we arrive at 6.20pm on a Tuesday night – a Nursery Hour first sitting allows them to turn the tables – we hope we won’t be too rushed to get through all the dishes we want to try.

Having picked up a Hat in the 2015 Good Food Guide Awards, the hot-factor has been turned up another notch, and it’s not easy to get a table, and fortunately we’d booked several weeks before. As you enter you see a long communal table, circumferenced by smaller ones, but we, being a group of 6, are ushered to a great semi private annexe.

My photos aren’t the best, but I do think that has something to do with the Ginger Ninja and Nippy Rockshop I downed before the food (do check out the cocktails).  You might need my dictionary for some of the ingredients. We ordered a la carte, but there is also a $65 banquet menu.

We begin with the fried eggplant miso. First of all, its deep friend. Second its got miso. Third, there’s eggplant in there somewhere. What’s not to love?

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We then try a few dishes from the raw section, beginning with the hiramasa kingfish with daikon and soy. Simple and fresh.

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Next the hokkaido ccallops with the pureed corn and house-cured katsuboshi. Don’t know if it was the last ingredient, but this dish didn’t do it for me.

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Then what I thought was the star of the raws we tried, beef tataki with wild rice and ginger dressing.

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Onto the hot food – udon noodles with pork and chilli. These were $15 and I thought it was a pretty freekin’ awesome, you can sometimes pay that for not so great noodles in a food court. If they had a little food truck in the CBD that sold these takeaway…….just putting that out there.

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Our next hot dish was the king crab omelette with Japanese curry. It’s a mild curry, not spicy, and this also got a big tick.

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Soy glazed wagyu beef – tender and a balanced soy, with some green beans to make us feel like we were being good and eating our vegetables.

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The next two dishes were the lamb cutlets with chilli and Sancho, and prawns with kombu. I got overruled, did not want to order the lamb, but I did choose the prawns; both of these I thought classified as “get anywhere” sort of dishes – the lamb cutlets were just, well, lamb cutlets and prawns had a bit of seasoning but I didn’t think either of these had anything unique on the flavour stakes.

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For desert, we tried the Cho Cho Snow – shaved ice with custard and the ginger syrup – which has seemed to polarise people. Me, I was a fan of the flavour combination and the texture. The birthday girl I was with tried the Banana Soft Serve which she declared was better than a birthday cake (maybe ‘cause we didn’t buy her one, sorry).

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If there was one complaint, it was from the blokes, who said the beer-to-glass-ratio was out of whack. You don’t give someone a 650ml beer can and a small glass, apparently.

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So the clever team have done Greek, done Japanese, what’s next?

Cho Cho San, 73 Macleay Street, Potts Point, ph 02 9331 6601
http://www.chochosan.com.au

Cho Cho San on Urbanspoon

Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar, Melbourne

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No, it’s not named after the actress. Surely they must be tired of saying that by now – they being George Columbaris (Press Club), Michael Lambie (ex Taxi and The Smith) and a few buddies who have opened a new Mod Asian eatery in PM24’s old digs. It has only been open a few weeks when we try it out, and it is already heaving on a Tuesday lunch.

It has taken me a while to get round to writing this post – ‘the backlog’ is many a food blogger’s curse. But here’s the thing. Even when I’m writing up a place several weeks later, there will be a dish that stands out in my mind, that I can still taste, and that I’m dying to go back and try again, even before flicking through the photos that are going to go on the post. And that memorable quality for me, was slightly lacking here, no real wow. Don’t get me wrong, the food was fine, and it was early days, but the return pull factor isn’t huge. I would probably rather try Supernormal again, which I was also a little divided on, but it was slightly more interesting. My view is probably also due to the fact that I think Sydney far outweighs Melbourne in the number of great choices in the Mod Asian space and we’ve been really spoilt on that front (Melburnians don’t yell at me!), so the benchmark for this type of cuisine is pretty high.

Anyway, here’s what we ordered that day. Clockwise, starting top left Crystal Skin Prawn and Bamboo Dumplings with cucumber & yuzu dressing; Barramundi & Scampi Dumplings with chilli, ginger and spring onions; Wok fried local calamari with pickled papaya and hot mint salad, red nam jim; Crispy Fried Quail with shichimi pepper and spicy plum dressing. I found the dumpling casings a little on the thick side, though the flavours were good. The quail was crisp and not at all greasy.

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Next up, clockwise from top left: Peking Duck Dumplings with Lucy’s hoi sin sauce; Rare breed sticky pork belly, palm sugar caramel, young coconut salad & red chilli; Soft Shelled Crab Jianbing Pancake roll with spicy hoi sin; Stir fried Asian greens. The pork gave us a surprise – when we ordered it, the waitress advised that it was only two pieces, would we like to up the order to three pieces – she didn’t mention it was two very tiny pieces of pork for $20, so a very small dish for $30 – how rare is the breed exactly? The pancake, like the dumpling, was on the thick side. The greens were excellent, and probably the favourite thing I ate that day.

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As I said it had only been open a few weeks, and some refining and tweaking to be done, and I also think the serves are quite on the small side for the price.

Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar, 23 Oliver Lane, Melbourne Ph (03) 9639 5777
http://lucylius.com.au/

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