My partner and I live in constant and recurrent disappointment at birria tacos, which often look so good but taste only not bad. Our recent trip to a market day in Wentworth Point in Sydney’s “expanded inner-west” found us queuing up at yet another food stall for yet another serving of birria tacos. Maru’s Kitchen, originally from the kitchen of a Mexican grandmother four and a half hours inland from Sydney proper, do regular pop ups and market stalls around Sydney. Though possibly the best tacos in Wagga Wagga, how would they hold up in the decidedly more cosmopolitan big smoke? Would they be good? Would they be better than the other offerings around? The bar was low.
The answer was surprisingly, yes.
The Birria Tacos (3 for $20) at Maru’s Kitchen were probably the best we’ve had to date. The filling was tasty but not over-tasty, cheesy but not over oily. Quite remarkably and importantly in our experience, the consome was quite good and drinkable, with a mix of spices and flavours rather than just saltiness (looking at you, Chololo). Finally, birria tacos that I’d entertain the idea of having again.
Maru’s Kitchen Lake Albert and Wagga Wagga, NSW Various market stalls around Sydney 0407 083 047
I always fear that my review for non-East Asian food might come across similarly to the reviews that I read of East Asian food written by non-Asians. Anyway, here goes.
This was my first time eating a tamale, and thus, rightfully or wrongly, will form the basis by which all subsequent tamales are judged. We had the chicken tamale with green mild sauce ($10). The closest thing in Chinese cuisine that I could compare this steamed maize-flour, banana-leaf wrapped edible to would be lo mai gai(糯米雞), though there are still many differences between the two. This particular tamale had a filling of shredded chicken breast (nicely moist), along with some mild flavouring of Mexican green tomatillo, green chilli, onion and coriander. It was overall less tasty than I would’ve expected, acting more as a base carb than as a full meal, and definitely benefiting from the provided spicy sauces (pictured below), compared to lo mai gai which has a lot of its own flavour and is not intended to be eaten with any sauce.
These pastor nachos ($17.50) were also not as I was expecting. Again I am sure that I will offend, given that Rosa Cienfuegos’ food is widely believed to be authentically Mexican and I am mere non-Mexican who has probably never had good Mexican food in his life. I personally found these nachos to be too creamy. Everything, from the guacamole to the nacho cheese to the sour cream was just very goopy and creamy. Perhaps how it is meant to be, and just not for me.
No complaints about these saudero tacos (3 for $17.50). Plenty of flavour when supplemented with the sauces pictured above. Enjoyable tortillas.
COMMENTS Honestly maybe my palate is so westernised by Tex-Mex that I actually can’t appreciate authentic Mexican food. I hate to be the guy who complaints that their dumplings had too many chives though, so please do take my negative commentary with this proviso. For what it’s worth, my partner had a great time.
It was 7:30PM on a weekday and my partner texts me to come hang out with her colleagues after work, just down the road at Bat Country. “Come”, she says. “The registrars are finishing their week. You won’t know anyone but it will be fine.” I make her promise to take photos as I don’t to look stupid in front of her colleagues. She begrudgingly agrees.
Bat Country’s Buffalo Wings are only $1 each! They are small, coated in hot sauce (is it Frank’s?) and served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing. I didn’t know this but one of our junior intensive care colleagues (soon to be internal medical – and yes, I do have junior colleagues) told us that serving celery sticks with buffalo wings is the traditional and authentic way to do it, as it breaks up the oily tasty saltiness of the wings. I didn’t think these wings were the best I’ve ever had, that the meat was just a bit overcooked, and that the exterior could be a little bit less soggy and more crispy. Nonetheless, Bat Country’s wings are a good deal, and it was actually nice to have the celery and blue cheese dip with it.
Seven out of nine intensive care doctors recommend Bat Country’s ever-changing San Choy Baos (3 for $16, additional cups at $5 each). These are not your traditional san choy bao, but rather more of a fusion spin on them. Their makeup and protein seem to change on a regular basis, and while my partner and I are pretty sure the ones we had were duck, I really can’t promise you this. Tertiary source review of their UberEats and Zomato pages reveal that they also offer, at times, chicken and pork belly san choy baos. Regardless of what filling they had, these san choy baos were good. The crispy juicy lettuce and bean sprouts gave them a really nice fresh and wet mouthfeel. The sauce was present but not overpowering. Ultimately a really good dish that seven out of nine intensive care doctors ordered and enjoyed.
My partner’s order of smokey black nachos ($16) to share was pretty good. The corn chips were crispy, and the flavour of the dish was good. She paid additional money to add guacamole, however did not pay the requisite fee to make this a non-vegetarian dish. It was well liked around the table.
The atmosphere at Bat Country was friendly, and the music not too loud. Service was good. Our table was gifted a complimentary bowl of chips and aioli (not photographed – good), which was a very nice gesture and much appreciated.
VISIT MARCH 2022
We revisited Bat Country in March 2022, for breakfast this time.
The breakfast burrito ($15) is deceptively large, and jam packed with chilli beans, spinach, avocado and corn, with an option of either chorizo or halloumi. I chose the meaty chorizo option over the halloumi option, satisfied that I would have enough halloumi to eat in my partner’s not so vegetarian Vego Biggie. This burrito unexpectedly came on a bed of corn chips, which were not advertised but quite a welcome surprise, with their thinness, crispiness, and light texture. A good burrito and definitely enough for a meal.
My partner chose the Vego Biggie ($23), and I decided to make it immediately less vego through the addition of Lucas Bacon ($4.50). While all components of this meal was fine, I found the Lucas bacon to be not only from the belly of a man named Lucas, but also to be a bit burnt and overcooked. It didn’t really seem worth the $4.50 supplement.
I can recommend.
Bat Country 32 St Pauls St, Randwick NSW 2031 (02) 9398 6694