I first started going to Brothers Kebab’s back in 2015. At the time, Brothers Kebabs was well known for its good service, their signature “what’s up brother?” greeting, and the fact that they were one of the few kebab shops in the area to serve actual lamb meat, not just doner kebab mystery meat. Brothers Kebab was one of my go-to kebab places in the local area, and I made multiple trips to Brothers Kebabs despite there being other places closer to my home.
Flash forward to 2020 and I’m once again living and working in the local area. I have, over the course of the year, visited or ordered kebabs and snack packs from Brothers Kebabs a number of times, often during a night shift or on the way home in the evening.
The quality at Brothers Kebabs has, by and large, dropped since its heyday five years ago. Every time I have one of their kebab rolls it’s a toss up as to whether or not the salad will taste like literal garbage – I think that their ingredients are often just teetering on the edge of an unsafe level of freshness. The good ones are good, but the bad ones have quite an offputting aroma to them. In addition to this, I think that their lamb meat has dropped in quality over the past few years – it is now mostly composed of fatty, gristly bits where I remember it used to have a bit more actual meat.
On my most recent visit to Brothers Kebabs I asked for a mixed snack pack with half tabouli and half chips. The guy said “sure”, but what I ended up getting was just a normal doner mystery meat snack pack. It really wasn’t what I asked for, but I was too tired by this point to fight it. The chips were fresh and really good, but that’s about it. The doner meat was the same doner meat you would get anywhere. I really wish I had gotten what I asked for.
VERDICT Brothers Kebabs used to be one of my favourite kebab places in the Rockdale area, but it has since fallen from grace. Go if you want to be surprised by what you get.
After a few false starts at the beginning of 2021 I was finally able to visit Soul Mill for breakfast with my colleague JZHW on my last week of work in the Kogarah-Rockdale region.
Soul Mill specialises in oven baked goodies, most of which are cheesy and with a Middle Eastern theme. We enjoyed our Oven Burger ($9), which had a strong pide quality.
Our Oven Wrap ($9) was also very nice. I cannot for the life of me tell you which of the many menu options it was, though cross-sectional analysis reveals some greenery, maybe some chicken. Egg. What I can tell you was that the bread was thin and not overportioned, with a strong emphasis on the fillings. While I can attest that both my colleague JZHW and I enjoyed it, I feel very bad that I’ve left seven months between eating it and reviewing it and I am essentially doing them (and you) a disservice but not being able to describe it well.
Ah yes, some kind of manoosh, possibly the meat, cheese, and sujuk ($8.50). I have warm feelings about this manoosh, and actually do remember the moistness of its toppings and its superior taste. This manoosh stands out for its excellent price-to-quality ratio, and having had a number of manoosh during my days living in Western Sydney I would rate this towards the better end of the scale.
COMMENTS It’s unfair, but what I remember most about Soul Mill was trying to go three times and only succeeding on the third. Each time was within the hours noted on Google, and without any evidence to the contrary through their social media channels. To be fair, it was the start of the year, not too far removed from the holiday season, as well as in the midst of some low grade pandemic-style uncertainty. Regardless, their food is filling and wallet friendly, and worth a visit if cheese and manoosh are your thing.
To their credit, Paramount Coffee Project is situated near some pretty adequate and convenient 2-hour ticketed street parking.
I’m not usually one to complain about poor service but Paramount Coffee Project takes the concept of not trying to a new level.
After a brief wait for a table (they don’t take reservations) my partner and I were led to a very small table, given a menu, and essentially left to our own devices. During the next fifteen minutes we exchanged anxious glances with the middle aged couple at the table next to us, wondering when or if our waiter would reappear to take our orders. There was a moment of slight absurdity and an empathetic look from the gentleman on the adjacent table when our waiter took their order, didn’t look at us, and returned leisurely to the mothership to process it before returning to us.
A further point of friction occurred as we ordered our meal. I asked our waiter if we could add an additional side to one of our dishes, and he told us he’d check. He never got back to us, leaving us in suspense until our food arrived. The aforementioned size of the tables became problematic not for us, but for our comrades in the PCP experience next door. Their very normal sized order of two mains were unable to fit on their very-small table. The waiter helpfully suggested that they lay their water jug and glasses on the floor as they ate.
I was initially not convinced by the Maple Iced Coffee with almond milk ($6.50) but it grew on me. It started off a bit too sour as almond coffees often do, but then the sweetness of the maple came in midway and add an interesting and nice dimension.
The Vanilla Malt Shake ($8.50) was expensive but quite tasty. The flavour was not too sweet, and the shake was really well aerated, as you can see in the photo. I would recommend this.
Pictured here is the Ginseng congee ($25) with kale, fried enoki, soy egg, pickled ginger, furikake , with chilli ground pork, and brisket. The congee itself at its basest vegetarian state is $15, and an additional $4 was added for chilli ground pork and a further $6 for brisket. The brisket is originally on the menu as an add-on to Paramount Coffee Project’s bibimbap, but given we weren’t going to order both the congee and the bibimbap we thought it would be worthwhile to see if we could get the beef as an addon to this dish instead. When asked our waiter told us he wasn’t sure if this was possible but would check – something that he literally never closed the loop on. It wasn’t until the food physically arrived at our table that we knew what we would be getting.
I actually quite enjoyed the ginseng congee all loaded up. It had a nice heartwarming feel to it, and the flavours were not too strong (avoiding having too much of the pickled ginger). I quite enjoyed the strange addition of deep fried enoki, which is not something I’ve had before. The soy egg was yummy with the congee but I wish there had been more than half an egg for this $25 bowl. The chilli ground pork was a good accompaniment for the meal, while the wagyu brisket which did not really feel like wagyu disappointed. While a bit pricey I can definitely recommend this dish, perhaps with just the chilli pork mince. My partner didn’t really like this dish as she felt like she had to eat the pickled ginger.
My partner’s (much weaker) choice was the baked eggs in habanero salsa, topped with blanched kale and garlic toast with LP’s pork sausage and housemade labneh ($23). It was a very sour dish thanks to both the salsa and the labneh that we ultimately didn’t finish. The only redeeming feature of this dish was LP’s reliably good smallgood. I wouldn’t recommend this one.
CONCLUSION I didn’t really have a great time at Paramount Coffee Project, and I wouldn’t recommend you spending your hard earned money and free time there either. While the congee is good, Sydney is full of good congees to try. Add PCP’s to the end of your list if you must.
Colby is the name of one of my two favourite cats in the whole world, and I’m sad that I wasn’t able to bring him with me to Kelby’s Cafe. I have, in fact, never taken Colby with me to a single cafe or restaurant in his entire little life, but I’m sure that he would love running around and stealing everyone’s food.
I’m not usually a fan of shakshuka, but I was surprised to find just how much I liked Kelby’s Kibbeh Shakshoukah. The crunchy Lebanese bread was deliciously light and crispy. The shakshouka was meaty and tasty. The Lebanese stringed halloumi was something I had never had before, and an interesting spin on what is usually just a salty squeaky block of cheese. The baked eggs, chickpeas, basil, and tomato base were all delicious. I liked this dish so much I was hesitant to share it with my partner.
Kelby’s Klassic beef burger is one K away from a cult name, but many more Ks away from cult worthiness. I won’t go too far into it, but basically the beef patty was thick but not juicy, and not tasty either. While seasoned readers of this blog will know that I often complain about too much seasoning, this particular burger had very little taste at all. Coupled with the quite frankly weird dark, floppy and oil drenched chips this was not the pick of the day.
Of note for the hydration fans out there, water was a fill-your-own bottle affair from the chilled filter tap.
Would I come back? Maybe – but probably only if I’m already 90% pho by volume and Kurumac is closed. Would I recommend it? Yes – especially while the shakshuka is still on the menu.
Our favourite Lebanese restaurant in Sydney has to be Jasmin1, but living in South East Sydney it’s quite rare for us to make it out to Auburn. Al Aseel is a surprisingly upscale Lebanese restaurant in Alexandria, and while it is more expensive, is a fitting substitute.
We went for a late lunch, and did not have to wait. I am told that there is a long queue for dinner and it’s best to try and book ahead.
Special mention needs to be made of the decor and layout of the restaurant. Al Aseel is located in the same complex as South Dowling Sandwiches and Pholosphy, and there is adequate guest parking. It is a far more upscale establishment than Jasmin1, featuring a very extensive bar and a large dining area. The dining tables themselves are huge for just two people, which is a mark of the restaurant’s commitment to a slightly finer dining experience.
The Mansaf Rice ($9) was very nutty! It was good value for a reasonably sized bowl of rice, nuts, and a small amount of mince. It had a mild, nutty flavour, but more than the flavour I felt the nuts really helped to make the texture interesting. Went great with the excess garlic and lemon sauce from the garlic and lemon chicken.
The Meat and Onion Samobusek (4 for $14) was pretty standard. The pastry was good but not great, the filling was quite good but a bit salty.
If online reviews are to believed, Al Aseel’s Lemon & Garlic Chicken ($26) are their “unmissable” “flagship” dish. I had expected something truly extraodinary and out of the box, but what I found for $26 was actually a bit pedestrian. Their lemon and garlic chicken is simply tawouk absolutely drowned in a lake’s worth of garlic sauce and lemon juice. That’s not to say that it’s bad – it’s actually very good – just not what I was expecting. The chicken is in particular cooked very well, tender, and the sauces very flavourful.
It is the curse of all Lebanese restaurants in Sydney to be compared with Jasmin1. While I enjoyed the food at Al Aseel, I definitely felt that it was more of an upscale establishment, in terms of decor, the fitout, but also in terms of the price. While $49 at Jasmin1 can feed a small army, the same is not true of Al Aseel. Having said that, I do see myself coming back to Al Aseel more, just based on the proximity alone.