Tag Archives: cheap eat

Burger Project, Sydney CBD

Burgers. Fries. Milkshakes. They aren’t part of my normal diet, maybe something I have two or three times a year. But a Neil Perry burger for under $10? I’m going to take part in that. Also, Google Maps kindly informs me that it is 1.6km from my office and I figure the 3.2km round trip will offset it, well partially anyway. It has only been open 5 days when I get there and a plethora of other food bloggers (we are cyberfriends, one day we really should meet in person!) have already been. Feedback has been mixed, and despite Neil’s very hands on best efforts, there have been a few teething issues. Today, for example, there were no wings, and that was one of the things I really wanted to try. I wondered how they could be sold out of wings already at 12.30pm, but apparently none at all had arrived that day. “No shipment” we were advised.

The queue was long, but not horrendous, and it moved reasonably quickly.


Its a simple and efficient ordering process, take a buzzer and take a seat if you’re eating in. There’s a good amount of seating, indoors and out.


We tried the cheese burger which contained grass fed beef, cheese, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and “secret sauce. For $8.90, I thought it was pretty good. My beef was well flavoured, the burger held together well, and unlike a lot of the brioche burger buns around these days, it didn’t taste like it was full of sugar.


The pork burger had pork belly, salted chilli, pickles, pickled slaw, and lettuce. There wasn’t enough pork on this in my view and you didn’t get enough of a taste of it.


The chips were crispy and easy to eat. The salted dulce de leche milkshake was disappointing though, it just tasted like watery milk with a hint of flavour, I had hoped it would be more pronounced being a big d.d.l fan.


Versus other burgers I have tried in the last couple of years – it was certainly better than Parlour Burger, and I thought Chur was overhyped. I did recently have a good cheeseburger at Bowery Lane which comes with chips and is sit down table service for only a few dollars more.

So I think yes, there are a few teething issues but that it will come together in time. Mr Perry isn’t one to do things by halves and he will listen to feedback. And hey, this is a “project” right? It takes time to get them just right.

Burger Project, World Square Shopping Centre, Sydney

Burger Project on Urbanspoon

Din Tai Fung, Westfield Sydney

I was always happy to traipse to the other side of town to get to DTF at World Square, after all these are the best Xiao Long Bao in town. The World Square restaurant was such a raging success that the DTF headquarters in Taiwan thought they’d try a Down Under experiment – a little ‘express’ version in a food court with a smaller menu, that even offered takeaway (There is also one at Star City). Right in the centre of town in the Westfield food court, this means I can just go more often and get my favourites. The best thing to do is go with a couple of friends then you can order a handful of dishes to try and still eat quite cheaply.

The queue is generally huge but the crowd of XLB worker bees churn them out quickly and there is never a long wait. Tick what you want on your order form and hand it over, or order with the cashier. When your buzzer goes off, grab your tray and find a table. Easy!


Ah the XLBs. One of the things Din Tai Fung rests its cap on is consistency – and these are consistently good. The dumpling dough is super fine, and the hot soup explodes when you bite in.


Shrimp and pork jiao ze – a close second.


I also hardly ever go past their green beans and mince pork.


And for a bit of spice, shrimp and pork wonton noodle with spicy sauce.


A great and quick relatively cheap eat!

Din Tai Fung, Westfield, Level 5, Pitt St, open 7 days

Din Tai Fung Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

Bourke Street Bakery, Neutral Bay

011 No, it is not a typo, Bourke St Bakery has finally come Over The Bridge and added another little post in Neutral Bay. They make sensational baguettes and chocolate tarts, but there are times when, frankly, you just can’t be bothered driving to Surry Hills and standing in line to pick them up (yeh yeh yeh sacreligious for a “foodie” – did I mention I detest that word – but there are other things to do as well besides driving around to get things to eat, such as read food magazines and cook books). Though we did have trouble finding the place – a quick phone call (“look for the wheelbarrow”, pictured above) soon led us to a nondescript little corner. It’s a teeny little place with ten or so seats inside and the same again outside, so don’t come with hoards of your friends to sit down. The menu has pies, sausage rolls, sandwiches, even pizza, and there is also a daily soup. 003 002We had to try one of each of the sausage rolls – a vegetarian (chickpea, fetta, eggplant and spinach), the lamb and harissa, and the pork and fennel. The pork and fennel was the crowd favourite, the lamb second, and the vegetarian got thumbs down all round – it was dry, and there was way too much spice (cumin?) which meant you couldn’t taste much else. A tip for the staff – don’t put the paper napkins underneath the sausage rolls – they stick and then you have to peel them off! 004 007Then onto the beef and brisket pie. Phoar, look at that inside – good pie, proper chunks of meat and nice gravy. There isn’t any elegant way to cut or eat it. 006 008The non-diet continued and we moved onto the tarts – rhubarb, ginger brulee, and milk chocolate. 009 The rhubarb surprised me in a good way, it was much better than I expected with a nice balance of sweet and rhubarb acidity, and a lovely pastry. The ginger brulee lives up to the hype – incredibly luscious custard with a perfect amount of ginger, I’ll be back for another. Its a perfect size given the richness. And the milk chocolate which is smooth and a always a good chocolate hit. After pretending that we were just thinking about it, we admitted we really wanted to try the carrot cake and got that as well. 010 It was good, but as my friend aptly commented, its “just another carrot cake”, and not one you’d travel for. The tarts, now they are worth some miles, and now that they are in Neutral Bay, I’ll need to do less of them.

Bourke Street Bakery, Grovenor St, Neutral Bay
Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina, Darlinghurst

We’re well and truly in Autumn, and April is just around the corner, but its still warm in Sydney and plenty of time to sneak in some more gelato before the cold weather sets in.   We head on over to acclaimed gelataria Gelato Messina in Darlinghurst.  I gather by the name Messina that these people are from Sicily, and Sicilians sure know their sweets.  I see that these guys also run gelato making classes but they are SOLD OUT FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR, and they are taking names for 2014……in Sydney there is a list for everything.

The technique is old school, like Cow and Moon, but in terms of available flavours as well as the classics there are some non-conventional ones, like N2 Extreme Gelato. They have a selection of regulars as well as daily specials.

IMG-20130324-00047 IMG-20130324-00048

Next door, they also do these stunning looking “monoporzione”- single portion gelato creations – they look like works of art and its hard to imagine eating them.


Mmmm apple pie, salted coconut, pannacotta with fig jam, pear and rhubarb, dulce de leche….what to have!!! Fortunately they do this ‘tasting plate’ where you get to choose 5 flavours – great value for $12.  The salted caramel (far right) and the pear and rhubarb (centre) – yuuuuuuuum.


Its a very close call, and I can see why there’s always a queue even in winter, but I think I’ll go out on a limb here and say that texturally I slightly prefer Cow and Moon. The difficulties of fabulous choices.

Gelato Messina, Shop 1/241 Victoria St, Darlinghurst ph 02 8354 1223

Gelato Messina Darlinghurst on Urbanspoon

The Cow and Moon Artisan Gelato, Enmore


So after our pizza at La Disfida, we zip up the road to Enmore to The Cow and Moon. We arrive and grab a table, and a few minutes later it seems 30 other people appear out of nowhere at the counter. This is ‘artisan’ gelato – old school – and damn, its good. All my old favourites are there. You’ll find some modern flavours, but nothing out there like N2 Extreme Gelato.  My buddy Salvatore (who makes his own gelato as well as pizza, the village is starving while he’s on his jaunt Down Under) peers into the window of the “Gelato Lab” and claims they have all the “proper” stuff to make a good quality product.


The staff were quite happy to let us try a few samples before we decided. What we ended up with – from left to right: Strawberry & Balsamic (devine) and Vanilla Bean (probably the only one I didn’t rate); Strawberry Sorbet & Mango Sorbet; and Hazelnut & Pistachio – I couldn’t decide which of these two was better. If you happen to be hooning down Enmore Road, make sure you stop at this corner.


The Cow and Moon, 181 Enmore Road, Enmore, ph 02 9557 4255

Cow & The Moon Artisan Gelato on Urbanspoon

East Ocean Yum Cha, Haymarket

East Ocean took the brave step a while ago of dispensing with the trolleys and giving you the option of ticking what you want on a form, though there are some wait staff carrying around other dishes on trays.  It makes for a much more sedate yum cha experience, and takes away the bustling and some of the fun.  Its not quite the same if you can’t wave away a pushy trolly dolly, or peer eagerly into the steaming baskets to unearth the contents.

Overall it was a bit hit and miss – some dishes worked well others didn’t – it seems to be about knowing what to order here. I doubt I’ll be back –  I’ll stick to my old favourites, Marigold and Palace.

On the menu:

Yum cha isn’t yum cha without a bit of salt and pepper. We started with salt and pepper calamari, the stalwart, and some salt and pepper whitebait.  The first was as it should be – bit of punch and tender calamari.  The whitebait was cold and we had to send it back, but even the replacement was lukewarm –  it was very average and could have been fabulous if cooked well (and served hot!).


Next was the beans with mince pork.  Dish of the day. I’ve had the Din Tai Fung version (excellent), the Mr Wong version, and the Lynn Shanghai Cuisine version (both a bit bland).  This was flavoursome and with a nice hit of chilli.


The dumplings overall where a little ho hum – we had a scallop and seafood, the snow pea and seafood and the Shanghai style pork dumplings.


The fried rice also average, but the soy marinated chicken and bbq pork combo was tender and well flavoured. The bbq pork puffs had nice flaky pastry but needed more filling.


It is however a great Cheap Eat, you can do it for under $20 a person – but there are other better choices.

East Ocean, 421 – 429 Sussex St, Haymarket Ph (02) 9212 4918

East Ocean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Is Via Napoli Sydney’s best pizza?

Via Napoli Pizzeria happens to share my surname. It also happens to be a couple of kilometres from my house, so I can pick up a metre long any night of the week (and I’m not talking about the stocky Italian wait staff). But unlike Luigi and his crew, I hail from further south, but thank the Napolitani for the invention of an Italian staple.

Many have claimed that Via Napoli is a contender for The Title. The place has been getting a tonne of press lately with all the big name Italian Chefs – Armando Percuoco, Adriano Zumbo, Alessandro Pavoni, and Giovanni Pilu for starters – showing up and giving it a plug. With a metre long pizza for $60, as opposed to Criniti’s $95, they pack them in night after night. There’s also a Fantasy Pizza (they really must change that name, sounds like a bad movie) every night, which is a random that pizzaoili feel like whipping up ….if you can, whisper to one of them find out if its the one with a heap of fresh seafood on it.

So does it get my vote? My favourite is still Lucio’s at Darlinghurt (sorry Luigi, but I still want to know where you got those briscola themed espresso cups) – the base, the quality of the toppings, the Lucio half pizza/half calzone – devine. The antipasto platter is great too. Via Napoli in my view has the stone oven – brought in painstakingly from The Motherland – temperature just a little too high, which can lead to a bit too much charring around the edges for my liking, and a softer centre. But its still on my list. I also like the calamari and the croquettes here.

There’s also RossoPomodoro at Balmain (don’t ask for an ‘alf and ‘alf, or pineapple, or any additions or changes for that matter, you’ll get a death stare from these pizza puritans), Popolo at Potts Point (on my to do list), Cavallino at TerryHills, and Pizza Mario in Surry Hills. I also used to be a fan of La Disfida at Haberfield, but I have not tried it since it changed hands.

In other news, no need to go to Melbourne any more, Movida has opened in Sydney! Hopefully Frank has the liver parfait with the PedroXiminez foam on the menu, and the Jamon croquetas. If not I’ll start a petition.

Have a great week

Via Napoli Pizzeria, 3/141 Longueville Road, Lane Cove, ph  (02)9428 3297

Lucio Pizzeria, 1/248 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst, ph  (02) 9332 3766

Via Napoli Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Lucio Pizzeria on Urbanspoon