Categories
Café Latin American

Costas Arepa Bar – Bondi Beach NSW Restaurant Review

I’m generally not a very beachy guy, and though I’ve lived in Sydney almost all my life, my visit to Costas Arepa Bar also marked my first visit to Bondi in over a decade. Bondi, as some may know and many are about to learn, is home to a population mostly consisting of well off Caucasian youths, who have the benefit of their family having lived in Australia since the First Fleet. One outcome of this very well off population is the incredibly boomy corner store industry, with the mini-grocer next door to Costas Arepas Bar seeing plenty of egg-and-or-milk runs from the above mentioned cohort during our brief visit.

Mama Chang (L), Yankee (R)

The arepas at Costa Arepa Bar are essentially little, corn based toasted sandwiches filled with an imaginative and plentiful range of fillings. The arrangement is similar to what you would find if you toasted a crumpet, cut it in half and filled it to the brim with proteins, salad, and sauces, though the arepa itself is a bit more grainy, thinner, yet somehow still more substantial feeling.

Though the displayed menu confusingly offers its arepas in pairs for $14, the chef was quick to point out that any combination of arepas could be had.

The Mama Chang featured a crumbed hoki fillet, kimchi, slaw, and a mixture of mayonnaise and “Korean BBQ Sauce”. Whilst the flavours were OK, I wasn’t a big fan of the sesame crumbing that they used on the fish, which I found gave it a bit of a harder bite than it really had to (no doubt designed to suit Bondi’s anti-gluten cultists).

The Yankee, was advertised as featuring beef short rib in BBQ sauce with coleslaw and jalapenos, though what we actually got was a pulled meat, not at all comparable to the juicy piece of short rib as we were expecting. The blandness of the meat and boring BBQ sauce made this the weakest arepa of the bunch. Not even the jalapenos could save it.

Pepiada (L), DownUnder (r)

The Pepiada arepa was the strongest of the bunch. The shredded chicken was coated in a rich sauce of lemon mayonnaise, coriander, and avocado. Unlike the other arepas, the filling in this one was homogenous, with no unexpected surprises or difference in ingredients eaten bite to bite. If you find yourself here and only have room for one arepa, this would be the one to go for.

The DownUnder arepa of the same shredded chicken but in peri peri sauce with a side filling of bacon and avocado just wasn’t executed as well as the Pepiada. The spicy filling wasn’t quite spicy (though the additional hot sauce for $1 made up for that), and the differing elements made it difficult to eat.

Soy Cappuccino

Costa Arepas Bar’s soy cap is essentially the same as any other soy cap, made with Little Marionette beans. What’s worth mentioning is the cup from Huskee, which is made from coffee husks and has a nice handfeel. I’d think about getting one of my own were I able to keep a keepcup longer than a few days.

VERDICT
3.5 NOT BAD.

Costa Arepas Bar
112A O’Brien St, Bondi Beach NSW 2026
0480 276 880

Categories
Asian Fusion Korean Latin American

Vecino – Canterbury NSW Restaurant Review

It’s far too common to find Asian fusion cafes, particularly in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, owned by people with no cultural ties to the food being served, and it really warms my heart to see a Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant owned by Asians and run by both Korean and Spanish speaking waitresses, chefs, and carpenters.

Vecinos’s expansive menu features both classic breakfast favourites as well as their signature Korean-Mexican menu of Korean fried chicken, tacos, burritos and quesadillas. Set within a small space across the road from the neighbouring Woolworths (and free parking lot), Vecino features an unusual collection of steampunk or plumbing inspired furniture, apparently assembled in house by Vecino’s very multitalented crew.

We had a selection of tacos and Korean fried chicken for our midday meal.

My first delicious taco was the Baja Taco (2 for $14.50), filled with a battered fish fillet (of unknown species), cabbage, dill ranch sauce, pico de gallo, and lime juice with salsa and jalapeno. I had been craving a sashimi taco for some time, having been recently denied one at Osaka Trading Co by my friends who weren’t too fond on the idea, and while this was no sashimi taco it hit the spot perfectly. The fish was freshly fried and very crispy, with the mild sauces adding a creaminess and the salsa adding a freshness. This taco was simple to eat and a recommendable pleasure.

The Bulgogi Tacos (2 for $14.50) with marinated soy beef, cabbage slice, pico de gallo, teriyaki sauce, sour cream and guacamole with salsa and jalapeno sauce were a wet and delicious mess. After experiencing the sensible tastiness of the fish taco nothing could have prepared me for the deluge of sauces and delicious liquids that poured out of this taco as I bit into it. The beef was sweet but not overpoweringly so, with each bite a delicious fusion of familiar bulgogi flavours with the freshness of the salsa, guacamole, and lime juice. A really good fusion taco.

Unfortunately I think Vecino’s Honey Cream Prawn Tacos (2 for $14.80) didn’t quite meet the expectations by the previous two tacos. Each taco featured a number of small prawns in a very hard honey glaze-crust. Unfortunately this hard glaze made these particular tacos far more difficult to bite through, chew, and eat than the others. This, coupled with what I think is less interesting a flavour makes these tacos a pass from me.

We also had half a Salsa Picante Chicken, which is a fusion take on the usual Korean Fried Chicken, topped with salsa picante and salsa de mango. While I was initially a little hesitant, the sweet and spicy salsa flavours actually complimented the fried chicken very well. I also found the side cabbage to be better than most others, I think owing to the lighter flavours used in the dressing compared to most Korean restaurants. I thought the hot chips served with the chicken were quite good, likely triple-fried with an exterior batter, but ultimately completely unnecessary. I would’ve liked the opportunity to order the chicken without them rather than be locked into eating them and possibly missing out on other tasty menu items.

A perfectly adequate cappuccino was had in Grounds of Alexandria turquoise.

VERDICT
Vecino is Asian fusion done right in every sense. The combination of Mexican and Korean flavours provides an experience that can’t be had anywhere else in Sydney.

4.5/5 . About twice as good as Costas Arepa Bar.

Vecino
Shop 1/1-3 Charles St, Canterbury NSW 2193
0456 416 749

Categories
Latin American

Pochito – Mascot NSW Restaurant Review

Having to drive my previously-slightly-inebriated partner to work following a night out meant that I had an excuse to try one of our local cafes on the way back home. Pochito, one of Sydney’s few homes of empanadas and other Chilean cuisine, was next on my hit list.

Pochito, as the story is told by its owners, means the feeling of sleepiness induced by a meal. While I can’t find such a translation online from Spanish, what I can find is that pochito means kidnapping in Russian. Something to think about.

Chicken and mushroom, Four cheese empanadas.

After having a seat at a table of my choice (all tables were free), I indulged in three of Pochito’s specialty empanadas.

The four cheese empanada ($5) was too cheesy for me. It’s a stupid thought to put down on paper, but I’m sticking to my guns. Apart from the cheesiness there was not much other flavour. The chicken and mushroom empanada ($6) was quite creamy, not bad, but not as good as our third contestant. My partner thought that both the four cheese and chicken and mushroom empanadas were missable.

The traditional beef empanada ($6) was by far my. It had a tasty filling of beef, egg, and onion, as well as some olive and sultana that I wasn’t quite able to appreciate. This was served with a dish of coriander salsa, which was delicious.

The Lomito Sandwich ($12) is a Chilean specialty, and really delicious. Included within its milk bun was a generous serving of marinated pork loin mixed with smashed avocado, a tasty, juicy slice of tomato, and a lot of mayonnaise. I actually ordered the lomito after I had finished my half of the empanadas, as they had not quite hit the spot. I’m glad that I did. The lomito sandwich really is special.

DISCUSSION

Pochito is a family run business, and during my visit I interacted with multiple family members, who were all quite nice and welcoming. At one point during my meal the owner of the restaurant came by and asked me if I was a foodie. I must admit that I was too embarrassed to say that was, and basically lied through my teeth and told her no. She said something along the lines of “I guess everyone needs to eat to stay alive though.”

Sorry Paulina.

4.5/5, mostly for lomito. (Empanadas alone 3.5/5)

Pochito Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Categories
Asian Fusion Café Chinese Latin American

Three Williams – Redfern NSW Cafe Review

While the name of Paddington’s Ten William cafe indicates its address, Three Williams in Redfern is not so straightforward. Situated in a dimly-lit semi-basement space on Elizabeth St in Redfern, Three Williams is named not after something with any contemporary relevance, but rather after three dead white men who already have plenty of things named after them – including entire suburbs.

Ceviche

The ceviche ($25) was a tangy bowl of tiger prawns, sashimi kingfish, pickled red onions, roast tomato, coriander, charred corn, lime & avocado, baby cos served with blue corn tortillas. I first heard of the term ceviche back in 2009, during the season six premiere of Grey’s Anatomy. Ceviche was the nickname lovingly bestowed upon a trauma patient with multiple water-sport related traumatic amputations, and while I learned nothing of medicine from this show it gave me a step up in being able to pronounce the name of this dish when ordering it (something my partner could not). Having never had ceviche I didn’t really know what to expect from this dish. It was certainly quite tangy and citrusy, however I didn’t quite like how soupy it was – and I wasn’t sure if I was meant to drink the soup or just use it as sauce. The blue corn tortillas (though more visually brown) were actually quite nice, and maintained their structural integrity well despite being semi-soaked in this juice. It was probably a fine dish but not one I’d order again.

Peking Duck Pasta

I thought Three Williams’ Peking Duck Pasta ($28) with angel hair pasta, chilli, coriander, onion crumb and shallots was really special. Every strand of pasta was perfectly coated in delicious sauce, and every mouthful full of umami flavours. I was initially quite skeptical about ordering a peking duck based dish from a restaurant that’s not expressly Chinese, but my partner wanted to try it and we were handsomely rewarded. I can definitely recommend this. It was delicious.

Chicken Katsu

This piece of chicken katsu ($6.50) was quite bad. The chicken meat was very thin and dry. The product was more batter than chicken, and probably some of the worst chicken katsu I’ve had the displeasure of eating.

The coffee was from Single O. The strawberry mimosa was cheap at $11 but not great.

VERDICT
It’s not everywhere that you can get hearty, complex meals for breakfast, and I really appreciate a cafe with a substantial all-day menu. Ample parking outside the restaurant makes Three Williams a pain free dining experience.

Four Williams out of five

Three Williams
613A Elizabeth St, Redfern NSW 2016
(02) 9698 1111

Three Williams Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Categories
Brazilian Café Latin American

Chachii – Wolli Creek NSW Restaurant Review

A month ago if you had asked me about the racial demographics of Wolli Creek I would’ve told you that its expansive high rise apartments were mostly full of international students of Chinese descent. There are just so many Chinese restaurants, Chinese groceries, and Chinese people everywhere you look – my girlfriend’s brother included.

It was a surprise to me, therefore, to find a Brazilian restaurant and a Brazilian gym tucked away in Wolli Creek. off the beaten track. It was also a surprise to me to have looked after four patients of Brazilian descent in the ED over the Christmas-New Year period, having not seen any all year. I guess I was just not aware.

Coffee served at Chachii is from Gabriel Coffee. It was good anti-headache and anti-sleep therapy before a long day of apartment hunting in Westmead followed by a return to the ED in Kogarah. The surprise addition of a small cookie is always welcome.

I played it safe on my first visit to Chachii with a serving of Chachii’s Lamb ($19). It was a well priced plate of two well poached eggs (in a good way, not the bad way), confit cherry tomatoes (similar to my last experience with confit cherry tomatoes I wonder why they even bother), and slow cooked lamb on catupiry cheese with cassava and bacon crumbs dusted around the plate. The 12-hour slow cooked lamb was flavourful and delicious, but not too tasty as some other local lambs have been. The catupiry cheese, a Brazilians brand of creamy cow’s milk cheese, was reminiscent of a whipped feta but with a very mild flavour – great at adding moisture and creaminess to the dish. This was really good.

I went back to Chachii with a couple of post-night shift mates a few days after my initial visit.

The beef pastel ($8) was surprisingly huge, much larger than other empanada s I’ve had at Pochito in Mascot. It had a crispy, thin pastry skin and was filled with a tasty beef mince filling. I quite enjoyed this and can recommend it.

The Coxinha ($6), made of shredded chicken surrounded in dough was also delicious. Maybe we just like deep fried foods. I thought it was better without the sauce.

The Coracao Sandwich ($13) is a sandwich of chicken hearts cooked in beer and spices in a baguette roll. It tasted OK, mostly a salty, slightly umami however with no significant differences in texture or taste throughout the sandwich it did get to feel a bit samey. Whilst I don’t mind chicken heart I normally prefer it in smaller quantities.

The X-Calabresa Sandwich ($15) is a sandwich with a large serving of Brazilian chorizo, cheese, caramelised onion, smoked mayo and a tiny amount of cos lettuce and tomato. It was my favourite sandwich of our visit, owing to the variety of ingredients and flavours (tangy, salty, sweet) contained within. The Brazilian chorizo tasted quite different to any chorizo I’ve ever had.

The Mortadella Sandwich ($13) is a national food of Brazil. As a recent convert to mortadella fanhood (especially LP’s mortadella) I was really keen to try this sandwich, and very glad that one of my friends wanted to try it as well. Whilst mortadella is generally less salty a meat, the sheer quantity of grilled mortadella (300g in this sandwich) and melted cheese meant that the sandwich overall was quite salty. Similarly to the Coracao sandwich I feel like this would get a bit old towards the last bite (though I only had a quarter of the pictured rolls). Chips, which were an additional $3, were fresh and good.

VERDICT
Chachii is one of Sydney’s only Brazilian restaurants open before noon. Everything on their menu is distinctly Brazilian, and I think if you, like me, are not very familiar with the cuisine it’s worth the adventure.

Chachii
9-11 Arncliffe St, Wolli Creek NSW 2205
(02) 9171 0813