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Asian Fusion Café Japanese

Devon – Surry Hills NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I are big fans of Dopa – Devon’s offshoot donburi restaurant in Darling Square. We’ve been going regularly over the past few months, however it had been a long time since we had dined at the mothership in Surry Hills.

We went suckered in by pictures of uni laden foods on instagram, and I made my partner promise me that she would let us leave and eat somewhere else if they had run out (as is often the case at Dopa, I’m sick of being baited and switched).

We dined on a Sunday morning in an empty restaurant, much different to how it was like when we had last dined in 2019. As predicted, they were out of uni, however a craving for a pork katsu sandwich prevented us from leaving.

My partner had a matcha latte while I, as an inferior Asian, had an iced matcha soy latte. While I can’t speak for my partner’s drink, I can say that my iced matcha soy latte was not as good as the one that I had at 101kissa. There was just something so powdery and nice about the iced matcha soy lattte from 101kissa, whereas this one was a weird blend of sweet and bitter that didn’t tickle my tastebuds in quite the right way.

Devon’s pork katsu sando ($16) is cut into two portions and served in a cardboard box. The sauce is spread evenly through the sandwich, which is a selling point, however this is where the compliments end. I felt that the pork itself was not as juicy or tender as in the pork katsu sandwich I had at Cafe Kentaro. I also felt that the sandwich was overbreaded, with the bread to filling ratio too great, adding an unneeded and unwanted blandness to the taste. The size and construction of the sandwich halves were also inferior to the three pieces at Kentaro, and made the sandwich difficult to eat.

While Devon’s pork katsu sando probably stands fine on its own to a person who has never had a good pork katsu sando, it fails in comparison to that at Kentaro, a few kilometres away.

I didn’t enjoy the salted egg yolk cheesy curly fries ($13). Perhaps it’s because we’ve had just so much salted egg yolk foods in the past few weeks that I’m sick of it, but I think the more likely reason is that these chips were oily but dry. Their thinness did not help, as the higher surface area to volume ratio increased the radiative heat loss from the food, making them too cool and yucky too quickly.

My partner ordered the omurice with salmon sashimi in ponzu sauce. We were quite surprised to find that the omurice was served separately to the salmon. The salmon was cold but the omurice was warm. While the omurice itself was quite delicious with its mushroomy gravy, I don’t think it really worked as a combination. I wonder if it’s the responsibility of the wait staff to sway you away from bad choices. Either way, that was not what happened here. What happened here was a thoroughly noncohesive dish.

I’m sad to say that I didn’t really enjoy our trip to Devon. While I love their rice bowls at their Haymarket offshoot Dopa, our trip back to the mothership was disappointing.

Devon Cafe
76 Devonshire St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9211 8777

Categories
Café

Saint Marks – Randwick NSW Cafe Review

Saint Marks on Clovelly Road is just one of two unrelated establishments with the same name in Randwick. The one we’re interested in today is a cafe – the other, a hotel on Rae St, will not be mentioned again in this post.

The sweet corn fritter stack was quite well plated and visually appealing. My partner, who as you may know by now is a big fan of corn fritters really enjoyed it. She liked the sweetness of the fritter, which helped this dish stand out from the rest. A further point of distinction was the texture of these fritters, which were quite loose and corny, in a good way. Unfortunately the poached eggs that were added on for an additional fee were not good. As you can see from the photo one of them was very well cooked. No good.

The Saint Marks Burger (with extra patty and cheese – $20) was a tall but very expensive burger. The patties were slightly underseasoned but otherwise had good texture with a very meaty mouthfeel. The pickles were tangy and I appreciated that there were both internal pickles as well as external pickles. At the $20 price tag I would have expected this burger to at least have come with some chips.

DISCUSSION
Despite the good internal airflow supplied by large ceiling fans we chose to dine in Saint Marks’ outdoor seating due to extra risk-averse nature (and in view of recent new COVID-19 cases in the area). Towards the end of our meal, whilst all internal customers had left we started to hear the staff inside make a series of seal noises. This was quite odd.

3.5/5 – (lean 3, egg no good)

Saint Marks
80 Clovelly Rd, Randwick NSW 2031

Categories
Café

Naked Brew – Erskineville NSW Restaurant Review

Let me tell you first about a vibe, and then about the food.

We try to avoid the Inner West as much as possible, as I’m terrified of parking in small spaces and crowded streets. Naked Brew was an exception to this, and we were able to find street parking not far from the cafe on a weekday morning.

My partner and I are currently working week on, week off schedules, which means that even though we live in the same apartment we don’t get to see each other for 7*24 hours in a row, and then we spend the whoe next 7 days together. This is good and bad.

Our waitress made note of the fact that we had turned up to eat at 10AM on a weekday, and made significant and quite consistent conversation about how nice it was that we were able to spend time with each other. She told us that she and her partner never had days off together, as she was working in the cafe most days and him at his job. She reflected with us on how sad it was for her and how nice it was for us, and I am empathetic to her situation.

The Buddha Bowl was great. We had it with pork belly and poached egg. All of the components – the seeds, the carrots, corn – complemented each other well, and the dressing was nice and creamy as well.

To be completely honest I have no recollection of what this dish was, nor can I identify it from the currently online menu. I also don’t recall how it tasted but I think we liked it because I remember liking the restaurant overall and I don’t think I would’ve if only one of our two dishes were good.

I can recommend Naked Brew to a friend or colleague. Food is good. Vibe is fine if you like to chat. Dog friendly.

Naked Brew
110 Swanson St, Erskineville New South Wales 2043
(02) 9557 1628

Categories
Café

La Lune Market – North Strathfield NSW Restaurant Review

La Lune Market in North Strathfield is a sunny Korean-run but not Korean-themed cafe, located under a gym a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of the old Arnott’s factory precinct. Their house specialty is their basque cheesecake, though on my first visit to La Lune it was some of their other offerings that caught my eye.

The ham and cheese croissant ($7) is a little more than just ham and cheese in a croissant. La Lune Market employs the use of a sticky honey mustard glaze atop the croissant for an extra depth of flavour. While this is an innovative touch, it unfortunately doesn’t distract from the actual croissant and its filling itself, which I found a little lacking. Review of the cross-sectional images will reveal a somewhat denser pastry, with inadequately melted cheese. While I don’t profess myself to be a croissant expert, I do think that it would’ve been a stronger showing with a warmer and meltier slice of cheese inside.

Contrastingly, the house sandwich ($14) may just be one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. This sandwich’s bulging contents include ripe avocado, tomato, lettuce, chicken in mustard mayonnaise, cabbage, and a slice of cheese. It is in fact so bulging, that wrapping paper is needed to keep it together in one part. The creaminess of the mustard mayonnaise and soft chicken synergised perfectly with the ripe avocado and tomato, while the crisp, fresh lettuce provided the perfect foil for those rich tastes. A sandwich generally has no right to be this good, but to be fair, a sandwich generally has no right to be $14 either. A big recommend if the budget is willing.

The iced matcha latte ($7) was a little sweet but still quite refreshing and nice. It is extremely unfortunate however that they saw fit to load the cup up with such a vast quantity of ice, leaving little room to put the actual drink. Really poor value, in my opinion.

OPINIONS
A couple of things rubbed me the wrong way, but one thing that I can’t look past is the sheer quality of their house chicken sandwich. It’s so good, and so wholesome, that I would be happy if there were a shop that sold just that.

Not my dog.

La Lune Market
Shop 1/13 George St, North Strathfield NSW 2137

Categories
Asian Fusion Café

Benzin Cafe – Dural NSW Restaurant Review

  1. What are the main attractions at Benzin Cafe? (2 marks)
    People go to Benzin in Dural for one of two reasons. The most important reason, at least for me, is Benzin’s innovative and creative Asian-fusion food menu, cooked with flavours drawn from the owners’ and operators’ East and South East Asian heritage. The second reason, completely separate from the food, is the cafe’s prominence in the local car scene. The cafe is decorated with car parts and racing memorabilia, and for the time being even features a borrowed vintage 911 project car. The cafe also hosts regular cars and coffee mornings, and while both of these fall within my interests I am probably too shy to go to one of these with my stock miata.

2. What did you eat at Benzin Cafe? Would you recommend it? (6 marks)

We had the Brekky Tacos ($18), with pulled beef brisket in gochujang sauce, avocado, small cubes of roast potato, and tomato salsa with a whole perfectly not-too-fried egg in each corn tortilla. These tacos were absolutely packed with flavour and filling, with all elements generous for tortilla size but commensurate with price. The meat was well cooked, not at all dry or stringy, and the flavours were strong but not too strong. The fresh avocado and tomato salsa did well to balance the meatiness, though I wasn’t a big fan of the kind of sad looking low-turgor potato bits, and I didn’t really think they added anything of value to the dish. Overall these were very good tacos – better than though also more expensive than those at Vecino.

The Mushroom Tempura Bowl ($21) was also qutie good. The bowl features tempura mushroom and asparagus atop a bed of quinoa, avocado, cherry tomatoes, kale, corn, cucumber, and sweet potatoes. We optioned this dish with a piece of chicken katsu for an additional $5, though this made the dish worse rather than better. The chicken katsu was a very large piece of chicken breast (great value), however not very well crumbed and a bit overcooked. The rest of the bowl, with its tasty and moist tempura mushrooms bursting with umami flavour was very good. I can recommend this.

The Knefeh French Toast ($20) was a sweet dish that was above and beyond what we should’ve had for two people. Its constituent fruits were lovingly arranged into two symmetrical sides, pre-empting any potential hostility between my girlfriend and me. My favourite part of this dish was the crumble, which was dusted around the dish. The raspberry sorbet was quite good, and the fruits were just fine, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the actual knefeh French toast itself.

Gabriel Coffee is served, befitting the first man to summit Everest.

3. Would you recommend Benzin to a friend or colleague? (1 mark)
Yes. I can recommend Benzin to a friend or colleague.

Benzin Cafe
1/242 New Line Rd, Dural NSW 2158
(02) 9653 9370