Asian Fusion Fine Dining Indonesian Vietnamese

Sunda – Melbourne VIC Restaurant Review

I don’t know why it’s taken me 9 months to write this review. I don’t have any particularly good excuses, apart from the fact that we had eaten at so many places on our short trip to Melbourne that I had felt a little bit burnt out by all the reviewing, leaving it up to now, when I’ve run out of other things to procrastinate on, to do.

As it’s been nine months, this should not be considered a particularly comprehensive, or even useful piece of writing. It’s more just a few thoughts that I still remember pieced together from notes I jotted down during the meal, and some pictures to prove to myself in later years that I did indeed eat here on the 19th of April 2022.

We started the night with a number of snacks. Featured in the foreground here is oyster, coconut curry vinaigrette, shallot, pepperleaf, prepositions are of course not needed in high end cuisine. I enjoyed this deliciously creamy oyster, with its hint of curry flavouring. One of many creamy oysters we had that trip.

The next snack to discuss is this cracker of carrot, macadamia satay, sunflower, kakadu plum, with a good crispiness and a flavour that I think reminded us of tom yum, unless that was about the oysters.

The caramelised trout, green mango, muntries, prawn cracker was strongly reminiscent of the classic Chinese canned fish known as fried dace with black beans, commonly made by Nanmen Bridge company and sold in a yellow and red oval tin.

The ‘otak otak’, spanner crab curry, finger lime, rice crisp was yummy, and even though there was plenty of curry it was still easy to appreciate the sweetness and crabbiness of the crab.

The buttermilk roti, Sunda’s vegemite curry, a lauded secret item that you have to know about to order as a $20 supplement really wasn’t all that. The roti was very cripsy but hyper oily, but the flavour of the vegemite was at least pretty mild. We were advised that this was a must-not-miss at Sunda, but really I think you can miss it relatively safely. Not game changing.

This heirloom tomato, white sesame, davidson plum, pomelo salad was very fresh, so much so that I jotted down at the time “So fresh, hits of 2021” (I don’t know why specifically 2021, it was 2022 when I had this meal). There was a bit of a yellow curry-like (we found later that it was the white sesame curry paste) paste at the bottom of the tomatoes that had a night sweet and lightly spicy flavour., and some mouthfuls were a bit like white sugar on tomato, a common Northern Chinese snack dish.

The pork belly, rainforest tamarind, rhubarb, daikon radish was a pretty good entree. The meat was extremely tender, with the meat bits having great mouthfeel but unfortunately with too great a fat to lean pork ratio. The meat, “marinated with rainforest tamarind, coconut sugar and pomegranate molasses” as per Khanh Nguyen’s social media was very tangy, and in fact a bit too tangy for us. The lightly pickled daikon radish sheet, thin to the point of translucency, brought the tang back down a notch into mild enjoyability with a hint of sweetness.

The less good of our two mains was the bannockburn chicken, thai sausage, gai lan, bush apple. The gai lan was pretty good, cooked to a normal degree that you might find in any Chinese restaurant, not extraordinarily special. The chicken wrapped within it was moist and tender, delivered over the course of four or five separate slices, enough volume we thought. The Thai sausage had much ginger flavour. The bush apple went unnoticed. This was not an unreasonable main, but paled in comparison to our other choice.

Though people sing praises about their vegemite roti, I think Sunda’s true star dish is their koshihikari congee in a burnt onion broth with pickled cauliflower, confit egg yolk and paperbark oil. I’ve never enjoyed a congee as much in my entire life. This was such a warm and wholesome bowl, with a high degree of creaminess, soft delicate rice grains, and an almost potato mash-like soupy quality. The texture of the carbohydrate was creamy and the taste was mild, but the pool of broth surrounding it was absurd in its complex mix of sweet, salty, and sour flavours. The crispiness of the mushroom, cauliflower, and greens added great textural variation, whilst the opulent slow egg brought it all together with a third. Such a standout.

The gem lettuce, blood lime, shallot, nasturtium salad was truly an experience in whatever. Some of the leaves were a bit better, we did not enjoy. Unlike lilies, the nasturtium appear to be non-toxic to cats. Would you pay for your kitty to have dialysis?

I think this is the coconut sorbet with pineapple and kaffir lime granita, coconut jelly, desert lime jam, coconut yoghurt and sprinkled with candied green peppercorns. I didn’t love it – I think the pineapple was too pineapple for me.

The our take on pavlova, lychee, pandan, pepperberry was my preferred dessert, my more enjoyed part being the pepperberry ice cream. I am also fond of the Van Diemens Land Pepperberry & Leatherwood Honey ice cream that is available in tubs from some supermarkets though, and I did not think restaurant this was particularly superior. Neither of these two desserts really stood out.

We finished with petit fours, lamington pandan caneles with davidson plum. I am proud to announce that in the time between eating at Sunda and writing this review I now know how to pronounce “canelé” after being schooled by a guy at a bakery in Dulwich Hill NSW.

Quick verdict: We paid $130pp excluding drinks but including the vegemite roti, and I think it would be easy to recommend going back. We already had accommodation, and it would’ve been annoying to move between hotels, but when we ate at Sunda there was a promotion where you could book a night in hotel together with your meal for an extremely cheap price. Might be worth doing for Melbourne suburbanites looking for a nice South-East Asian fusion dinner.

Sunda Dining
18 Punch Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9654 8190

Asian Fusion Café Indonesian

ASLAN Coffee Roasters – St Peters NSW Cafe Review

The first thing my partner said upon reviewing the choices on Aslan’s all-day menu was “I really appreciate you always looking for places for us to eat, and I know it can be hard to always pick winners”. Though technically Indonesian-inspired, the majority of items on Aslan’s menu are classic brunch fare. As pursuers of the fine art of Asian fusion cuisine we opted for the two Asianmost looking items available. It was with these two choices that I would, over the next half hour, make her eat a great meal and also her words.

The Hot Smoked Salmon Kedgeree ($16.50) was an aromatic dish of tumeric rice with slaw and salmon mixed in, topped with an egg and a trail of shichimi and served with a small pot of curry sauce. Despite her initial misgivings my partner came to enjoy this dish. She really liked that the slaw was mixed into the rice, providing a crisp and crunchy texture with each bite. The hot smoked salmon provided a good umami flavour without being too salty, and the lemon added an element of freshness to balance out the otherwise quite substantial meal. The little pot of curry came with a warning from our waitress – “be careful, it is very spicy” – though was very good and just the right amount of spice for us to add all of it in.

I have to admit that I enjoyed the multicoloured ?prawn crackers in the Beef Rendang Indonesian Style ($16.50) way more than I should have. They were just warm, freshly fried, crispy crackers filled with umami goodness – far more addictive than they had any right to be. The stated star of the show – the beef rendang, was very generously portioned, with a mixture of melty fatty bits as well as healthier leaner bits. The turmeric rice and salad, though similar to that in the kedgeree, was not as good owing to the discordant placement of its ingredients. We much preferred to have the salad mixed in with the rice. There was adequate sauce for all of the rice, salad, beef, and crackers.

Our soy cappuccino came with an apology – soy is hard to work with to make latte art, though this wouldn’t have even registered with us had it not been mentioned. ASLAN prides itself on its specialty coffee, and their house blend as pretty alright.

Though ASLAN’s St Peters menu is pretty light on original Asian fusion dishes, what they do have is pretty good, as well as pretty cheap. I’d recommend a visit if you’re in the area. Just look out for the giant lion’s head mural.

ASLAN Coffee Roasters – St Peters
1 Council St, St Peters NSW 2044
0488 827 526


Ria Ayam Penyet – Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

I’ve never been invited to dine at a restaurant in exchange for social media exposure, and I think this probably has to do with my general aversion to lying to people. I write this blog essentially for my own memory, so that I can look back and know which places I liked and which places I didn’t like, even if I develop some kind of cognitive impairment in old age. Ria Ayam Penyet’s newly opened Parramatta branch upheld the tradition of not inviting me for free food (and to be fair, my social media reach outside of this blog isn’t even worth a blip on anyone’s radar), but did get my business after I saw them featured on an old high school mate’s Instagram, who did get to eat for free. I guess the system works.

Ria’s front page dish is their Ayam Penyet ($11.90), pictured here with the addition of a Telur Penyet ($1.50 – fried egg). This is a dish of deep fried chicken maryland, accompanied by a piece each of deep fried tofu and tempeh, fried crumbs, fresh sliced cucumber, some garden salad, and sambal sauce. I thought the chicken itself was a little bit drier than I would have liked, though my partner had no problems with it. My previous experience of Indonesian fried chicken, at Ayam Tulang Lunak in Mascot, was more palatable, though to be fair a completely different dish. I enjoyed the fried tofu, and in particular its extremely thin batter, similar to what I’ve had at Vietnamese restaurants but haven’t been able to find in Chinese cuisine. We opted for the sambal ijo (green chilli) sauce over the classic sambal terasi as my partner is less spice tolerant, and enjoyed its varying and complex textures, as well as the sense of freshness it added to the dish. Overall, this dish had pretty reasonable flavour and variety, and was good value for the excellent price.

The telur penyet, fried egg, was nothing to write home about.

The Rawon ($11.50) was next up. It is a black beef soup with fried shallots, garlic crackers, and sambal. While I enjoyed the taste of the soup with its beefiness and black pepper flavour, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed by the quantity of the beef inside. I’ve taken this photo of the soup with two pieces of cutlery inside simply to prop up the small amount of beef available, otherwise you would not be able to tell from photos that it contained any meat. The beef itself wasn’t amazingly tender or special either, but I would’ve just liked more of it to chew on. The garlic crackers were alright, especially with the sambal which I liked better than the sambal ijo reviewed above.

This Basko beef bone side soup ($2.50) was quite nice, if extremely oily. It had a rich beefy flavour, and seems to normally accompany the full Basko dish with meatballs and noodles. At $2.50 it was very fragrant and delicious, and would be a good recommendation for your starving university student looking for something cheap, warming, and energy dense.

I’m sad I didn’t get the full Basko experience, but it’s probably not really that good for me anyway. There are lots of things that I’d come back to try, were my metabolic profile not so bad.

Ria Ayam Penyet Parramatta
312 Church St, Parramatta NSW 2150
(02) 7809 0899


ATL Ayam Tulang Lunak Crispy – Mascot NSW Indonesian Restaurant Review

I will readily admit that certain East Asian cuisines hold the lion’s share of airtime on this blog. It’s not strictly abnormal to enjoy the kind of food you grew up with, and I’m not going to go out of my way to eat at and review a restaurant I don’t think I’ll like.

Indonesian food seems to be a particular victim of my East Asian-slanted palate, but in an attempt to broaden my horizons I have eaten at and will try and give a fair review of ATL Ayam Tulang Lunak Crispy, a local Mascot (ex-Kingsford) Indonesian eatery specialising in soft bone fried chicken.

Ayam Goreng Tulang Lunak

ATL’s main attraction is the Ayam Goreng Tulang Lunak (1/4 fried soft bone chicken, $9), served with sambal sauce. As with all of their chicken the diner is given a choice of thigh or breast piece, and I have chosen the thigh piece for all dishes of this review as it appears to be the more popular of the two. Ayam Tulang Lunak Crispy’s chicken is first cooked in a pressure cooker overnight before finished off at time of ordering. It is this pressure cooking process that ensures uniform cooking of the chicken’s meat, as well as gives the bone ATL’s characteristic soft and edible nature. The chicken meat I thought was a tiny bit drier than the best fried chicken I’ve had, but more than made up for by the strange soft bone which was easy to chew and eat. The Ayam Goreng Tulang Lunak was coated in a large quantity of light deep fried batter, which was crunchy and tasty (though only of a salt flavour). I can recommend this dish, if only because I don’t think there’s anywhere else in Sydney to have deep fried soft bone chicken.

Ayam Goreng Telur Asin

The batter of the Ayam Goreng Telur Asin (1/4 chicken with salty egg sauce) was less in quantity than the Ayam Goreng Tulang Lunak, replaced somewhat by a salty egg sauce. This was a relief in and of itself, as I don’t think I could’ve had more of the high-guilt batter after my first piece of chicken. Though eggy, the sauce tastes more or less the same as that of the normal fried chicken – mostly a salt flavour. The rest of the details of the chicken are identical to the first dish.

Coconut Rice

The coconut rice ($4) was really good. It was topped with fried onions and possibly some other ingredients that added a umami kick. In a strange way it provided a bit of balance to the very oily chicken dishes.

The Tahu Goreng (fried tofu – $5) was nice and crispy on the outside with only a light thin batter, and soft and warm on the inside. My partner enjoyed the piece that I took home for her and so did I.

Interestingly my favourite morsel of the meal was actually the Ayam Bakar (1/4 grilled chicken in sweet soy sauce – $9) that I got for takeaway for the following day. Unlike the fried pieces this grilled chicken actually had a flavour other than saltiness, and it also felt less unhealthy. The sweet soy sauce flavour and sachet of chilli sauce provided a much more interesting flavour profile. The bone in this chicken is soft as well, so it would be my recommendation if you were to go to ATL and only wanted to order one thing.

I don’t normally enjoy Indonesian food – more of an issue of personal tastes than a criticism of the entire country – but I did enjoy ATL Ayam Tulang Lunak Crispy. I think that while not every dish is amazing and it is probably not the most healthy thing you can eat, ATL does offer something that no one else does in their crispy boned chicken. Worth a visit.

ATL Ayam Tulang Lunak Crispy
1/702-710 Botany Rd, Mascot NSW 2020
(02) 8339 0660


Mirasa – Mascot NSW Restaurant Review

Don’t deny it. I know you’ve missed my awfully lit photos of food in takeaway containers.

Rather than go out to eat before my first in a run of four emergency department night shifts we decided to get takeaway from Mirasa. a local Indonesian restaurant we have often seen listed in the delivery apps but had never tried. Prices are what we paid Deliveroo. They may very well be cheaper in store.

The Pangsit Goreng ($3 each) were yummy. They are deep fried wontons with an ample amount of filling, which went surprisingly well with the sweet chilli sauce.

The Sayap Isi ($4 each) were not as much to my taste. I’m finding them difficult to describe, but I felt that while the chicken meat was quite tender their outsides had more of a soft steamed or boiled quality, which is not what I would expect from the fried component of “deboned and stuffed fried chicken wings”.

Nasi Goreng

I was hesitant to order the nasi goreng ($15.50), as nothing on their menu suggested that this would not be a vegetarian dish. Thankfully the nasi goreng came with chicken – I don’t think I would’ve liked it otherwise. I did enjoy the runny, soft-fried egg, and think it could have even benefited from an extra egg. The taste of this dish was good, and the box was quickly polished off the following morning.

Nasi Hainan

The Nasi Hainan ($15.50) was not quite classic Hainanese chicken rice. While the chicken was reasonably accurate, the toppings and flavourings are different from what you would expect from the classic Malaysian/Singaporean dish. I understand this is more authentic to the Indonesian style of Hainanese chicken rice. The rice was adequately flavoured, and this dish was my partner’s favourite of our order.

Sup Campur

The Sup Campur ($15.50) is a light clear soup with beef balls, wonton, and fried tofu. I really enjoyed the taste of all of these three components, however the soup itself was too light and watery and left much to be enjoyed. We basically fished out the fillings, drank half the soup, and disposed of the rest. Sorry.

I think overall my ambivalence towards Mirasa is more of a reflection of my East-Asian-centric palate, and probably not anything wrong with Mirasa itself. I personally won’t be eating their food again, but don’t think this means that you shouldn’t if you’re into Indonesian food.

1179 Botany Rd, Mascot NSW 2020
0421 100 085