Let’s Chon – Sydenham NSW Restaurant Review

People with cats probably make up a significant portion of IKEA’s repeat customers for their IKEA 365+ line of glass, snap-and-lock lidded food containers. The reason behind this is twofold:

  1. We have an inherent and inalienable need to keep food away from the paws of increasingly intelligent cats, who will one day become so good at getting into containers that eventually they’ll need to be secured with retinal scanners (whilst confusingly lacking the intelligence to understand that onion and chocolate are not good for them), and
  2. Cats, on a good day, LOVE pushing things onto the floor, and the more glassy and fragile the more joy they get out of it. Bonus points if there is food in the box that gets released upon a good shattering.

And so we two cat slaves keep going to IKEA Tempe and buying more and more boxes every time we run low. Perhaps tempered glass boxes would be a better alternative considering the frequent breakage, but they’re far more expensive, and going to Tempe gives us an extra opportunity to eat some seriously good food.

We entered Let’s Chon with the spit turning, fat falling into the charcoal and flames occasionally erupting and licking the meat.

Seeing this great sight we could of course not resist ordering the lechon belly ($15 for a single serving), a delicious roast pork with perfect crackling skin and a light salting, spicing, and herbing. The woman who took my order checked with her colleague in the back to confirm the meat was ready before accepting my order, after which it was taken off the spit and carved up for us fresh. We didn’t see the belly return to the spit during the duration of our meal, so I suspect that we lucked ourselves into some incredibly fresh, juicy, and delicious belly, lauded by my partner as the “best pork I’ve ever had,” a compliment I’m sure she’s given to multiple other porks in her life. Subsequent customers may not find their timing to be so perfect. We did not have any Mang Tomas sauce, because we did not know about it (apparently it is there on a counter for self-serve), though I’d love to try it in the future if we’re ever back for their fortnightly roast whole pig.

I did not love the chicken adobo ($18), but more likely than not this is me simply not loving it rather than them doing a poor job. The mixture of garlic, soy sauce, peppercorn, and vinegar really reminded me too much of the fish that my grandfather would stew in my childhood that wasn’t my favourite. The meat of the steamed chicken drumsticks and wings were tender but the flavour was not for me.

I was hesitant for the porksilog ($16) pork chop with garlic rice, but it was really good. The garlic fried rice was super flavourful and fragrant, probably some of the best we’ve had. The pork chop, with a umami and sweetness that I’m told most often comes from a mixture of soy sauce and sprite, was delicious, tender, and flavourful with a delicious thin fatty outer rim. The egg was done beautifully, and the pickles were bright, fresh, and tasty. This was really good.

OVERALL a great meal, with the pork dishes that we had being a total standout. Would not hesitate to recommend.

Let’s Chon
7 Gleeson Ave, Sydenham NSW 2044
0404 710 531


Sir Manong – Eastern Creek NSW Restaurant Review

I don’t have great familiarity with Filipino food, but after a somewhat frustrating experience at the local FedEx station I decided I’d give it a go. I ordered two items that were warmly received by Sir Manong’s Google reviewers, though I should’ve known from the number of times my waitress checked that it was must me dining that two dishes at this restaurant was far too many for one man.

The Crispy Beef Kare Kare ($28) was a very large pot of thick and oily peanut sauce, filled with beef brisket that had been fried with some kind of tallow-like coating, accompanied by some most welcome fresh bok choy and beans. I must admit that whilst I enjoyed the peanut sauce, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the beef. The white stuff coating the beef pieces just felt like I was eating lard or tallow, a memory that is evoking feelings of nausea as I write this. The parts of the beef that weren’t coated in white stuff were thankfully spared from this, and the fresh vegetables were also a redeeming feature. I did enjoy the meal with a bit of fishy bagoong paste, though I found it too salty to use very much of.

The Crispy Pata ($27) was again huge, but actually quite excellent. In thinking about how large these dishes were, I guess the alternative would’ve been that I would be here complaining had I spent $27 on pork knuckle and not received an absolute feast. I don’t know where they were able to find pigs with such large feet, but this plate was gigantic. The pork knuckle was quite well cooked, with a hyper crispy skin with some of that characteristic collagen-aided stickiness and a moist muscle interior. The serving of sauerkraut-like pickled cabbage was extremely welcome, its acidity helpfully cutting through the fat, as was the excellent vinegary dipping sauce.

Though I wouldn’t go back for the beef kare kare, the crispy pata was actually quite wonderful. Just remember to bring at least three friends or be prepared to pay 50 cents per takeaway container.

Sir Manong
Eastern Creek Quarter, T16/159 Rooty Hill Rd S, Eastern Creek NSW 2766
(02) 8608 3734


Smoky Cravings – Belmore NSW Restaurant Review

My nightly drive home from work is punctuated by a number of smells, and a recent addition to this olfactory journey is that of Smoky Cravings, a relatively new Filipino BBQ joint in the vicinity of Mcdonald’s Lakemba (where we parked). Though we normally look at distaste at people who do not order the culturally significant dishes at ethnic restaurants and only order what’s easy and safe-feeling, this was me this time. I just wasn’t in the mood for any kind of intestine. I’ve had them, and just don’t generally enjoy them and felt no need to again subject myself to them.

Instead, I went with some safe options, like these battered and deep fried quail eggs (kwek kwek – $5), which were not super special, but came out quickly and had a great batter for us to munch on whilst awaiting the rest of our food.

As far as grilled meat went, we had the Pork BBQ skewer, Chicken BBQ skewer, BBQ Chicken Wings, Adidas, and BBQ Lamb Cutlets. The skewers were $3.50 each, whilst the lamb cutlet was $5.

Most of their food actually had the same sweet and salty flavour from the basting, which was quite enjoyable and not too unfamiliar tasting. The chicken BBQ skewer was a bit more substantial than the pork in terms of size, but both were quite juicy and flavourful. The BBQ Chicken Wing was quite large, consisting of both a drumstick and the wing in a three-part type deal, and made for good value, probably the best of the bunch, especially with its semi-crispy skin. The adidas (chicken feet) came as two feet on a skewer, perfect for sharing with your partner or nursing colleague from the local hospital a few minutes down the road. The lamb cutlet was my least favourite of the bunch, with a different flavour that I no longer remember. I only remember that I didn’t like it.

The chicken inasal ($12) was really big and juicy and perfectly marinated and grilled. It was one of the best things we ate, good value, and really well cooked. Juicier and moister than other forms of BBQ chicken in the local area (dominated by Middle Eastern-style charcoal chicken), very worth a go.

My partner liked the buko pandan ($5). It was not too sweet. Very viscous, our first ever with nothing else to compare it to.

OVERALL Smoky Cravings was a source of enjoyment. I haven’t always loved every Filipino restaurant that I’ve tried, but I’m glad that my nose led me to this one. The staff tried to talk to me in Tagalog, but despite deep workplace immersion neither my partner nor I have been able to pick up anything of note.

Smoky Cravings
851 Canterbury Rd, Belmore NSW 2195
0404 327 788