Categories
Italian

Kneading Ruby – Wollongong NSW Resturant Review

It’s hard for you to know this as all of my reviews are pre-written and scheduled, but this is actually the first review I’ve written in over two months. With the COVID-19 Delta outbreak in NSW and the subsequent lockdown there just hasn’t been much occasion or opportunity to go out and eat nice things. A recent government-sanctioned visit to my partner’s workplace accommodation in Wollongong provided a great opportunity to broaden my taste experiences outside of my 5km Western Sydney radius. Kneading Ruby answered the call of duty, not once, but twice.

My first bite of Kneading Ruby’s Pepperoni pizza ($24) with San Marzano tomato, fior di latte, pepperoni, and gremolata set the bar with quite extraordinary expectations for the rest of the meal. Their pizza bases are thin, but still retaining a good degree of crispiness and structural integrity. Their tomato sauce is fragrant and generous but not soggy, and the gremolata – a sauce of parsley, lemon, and garlic – was an excellent out of the ordinary addition to an already good pepperoni pizza. I enjoyed the slight woodfired char on the chewy, glutinous crust, and can find no faults with this pizza.

The Pork and Fennel pizza ($25) with pork and fennel sausage, cavalo nero, mozarella, and confit chilli was another delight. Each slice of pizza was apportioned with a generous amount of tasty sausage, leaving no mouthful sad and unmeated. The cavalo nero, a kale-like brassica, was a reasonable consolation prize for my partner who wanted to order some vegetables instead. The chilli sauce was good.

This DIY Garlic Bread ($10.50), presented as a cut up cobb loaf with a pot of garlic butter, was only OK. It could’ve used more garlic in the garlic butter, and more butter overall.

SECOND ORDER

Unlike my girlfriend, I’m not usually a fan of potato on pizza. The first time I had potato on pizza was at Lilly’s Cafe in Rhodes, an experience which put a sense of starchy fear in my mind that has lingered to this day. Kneading Ruby’s Pancetta pizza ($25) with pancetta, smoked buffalo mozarella, scamorza, potato, rosemary, and pepper made short work of these negative connotations. The pancetta was again quite plentiful, and the flavours of the meat, cheese, and rosemary synergised well with that of the potato. Though the potato didn’t have a lot of flavour on its own, it was most importantly cut thinly and did not have too starchy a feel. It was more crispy (though not crunchy) than starchy, giving it the feeling of a topping rather than yet another layer of base. Really well done.

I was a bit hesitant to order two white pizzas on our second time having Kneading Ruby, fearing that the Truffle Salami pizza ($24) might be too similar to the Pancetta pizza. My fears were allayed however, by the sheer difference in flavour between the two pizzas. The truffle salami pizza had a mild but solid blue gorgonzola flavour, which I think was far more dominant than any truffle flavour that may or may not have been in it. The crust of this pizza was a little more burnt that I would’ve liked, though you can see from my sample size of 4 that this is more an anomality rather than the norm.

THIRD ORDER

Keeping up a recent tradition for the third fortnight in a row, we again ordered two pizzas that we had yet to try from Kneading Ruby. Unfortuately as it were we had already tried the most promising looking menu items, and were therefore left with the Marinara pizza ($22) and the Gamberi pizza. Neither of these pizzas really lived up to the lofty expectations set by our previous orders. The Marinara pizza is a vegetarian pizza topped with san marzano tomatoes, other roast tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and oregano. The three different types of tomatoes on this pizza, while adding varied tastes and textures, did not do wonders for the structural integrity of the pie, which was somewhat soggy and floppy. Each slice of pizza was adorned by a full clove of garlic, which had been roasted to a pretty nice mild mashiness. This is not the pizza I would’ve chosen to begin with, but a reasonable option for someone with tick-bite induced meat allergy.

The Gamberi ($26) was really not that great either. I had expected a red pizza with some kind of sugo and a scattering of prawns. This is what was pictured on Deliveroo. What I got instead, pictured on the left, was a white pizza with a surprising dominane of zucchini, a small amount of scamorza and the occasional sundried tomato and green chilli. The flavours were mild, with the strongest component the slightly salted cheese flavour. I wished there could’ve been more prawn, but really I wish I could’ve just had what was pictured.

For reference, the right photo was the provided photo for the Gamberi in the Deliveroo menu. Much more appealing, but not at all what I got. (To be fair, incongruous with the written description).

The Cavatelli pasta with broccoli, lemon, pangritata and parmesan ($25) was alright. I liked the crispiness added by the pangritata, and thought that the sauce to pasta ratio was actually quite good for a delivered bowl. I’m just more of a meat guy myself.

VERDICT
I’m so pleased to have found such a nice gourmet pizza restaurant in Wollongong. The quality of their pizza challenges even some of my favourites in the big smoke. Definitely worth a visit.

4.5🍕/5🍕

Kneading Ruby
5 Crown Ln, Wollongong NSW 2500
(02) 4229 7829

Categories
Asian Fusion Café Vietnamese

KINX Cafe – Bankstown NSW Restaurant Review

Kinx is an absolute gem of a cafe tucked away in the culinary wasteland of South West Sydney. Kinx’s creative Asian-fusion brunch menu exceeded all geographic expectations, and our visit instantly propelled Kinx to the top of our list of cafes we enjoy in Sydney.

The Pho Beef Ribs were the reason we drove half an hour to go to Kinx in the first place, and boy did they not disappoint. Our waiter suggested a half serve ($20) rather than a full serve, as the kitchen was running low on ribs and we hadn’t had the foresight of booking ahead for this magnetic weekend special. The beef ribs were extremely tender and were in the perfect sweet spot where they fell right off the bone but retained enough internal structure for a good mouthfeel. The pho marinade was true to specification, with a delicious herbal umami taste. The rice noodle cakes, lightly deep fried were absolutely delicious, crisp, and soaked up the saucy marinade well. My partner thought that they had a much more delicate flavour and mouthfeel than just plain old rice cakes, and thought that they emulated thin noodles very well. The small amount of salad with bean sprouts, pickles, chilli, coriander, and Thai Basil was fresh and delicious, cutting through the strong umami flavours of the meat. Overall an excellent dish that I hope all beef-eating readers of this blog can have the opportunity to try.

The All You Can Beef Rice Bowl ($16), was nice but very much overshadowed by the pho beef ribs. The rice bowl features a smoky soy rice, 63 degree egg, and a wagyu beef hamburg katsu patty in bulgogi sauce. Whilst I enjoyed the menchi katsu (the first I’ve found outside of Japan), I thought that the smoked flavour of the rice was a bit too strong, and not to my taste. The 63 degree egg was excellent as always, and the bulgogi sauce was a good pairing for the patty, but neither of us ended up keen enough to finish the rice on account of its smokiness.

The Mama’s Siu Mai was essentially vietnamese pork meatballs in a tomato based sauce, served with bread – a Vietnamese spin on what you would often find on the menu of an Italian restaurant. The meatballs were yummy, as was the sauce and bread, though I think if I’m being honest we could’ve done with only one of this dish or the smoked beef bowl. My partner also wanted to get chips, and I’m glad I said no.

We also rolled for a wild card on the expensive but delicious Taro Coffee ($8). It is a very thick iced drink, of mostly taro with a hint of coffee mixed in, topped with some mixed cereals. It is a special and different experience, and quite good to boot. Sweet but not too sweet, kind of like the taro milk tea of your childhood but all grown up.

The regular coffee is regular.

VERDICT
Wow. What a wonderful place. You owe it to yourself to pay them a visit once the southwest is liberated.

Kinx Cafe
3/432 Chapel Rd, Bankstown NSW 2200
(02) 8772 5117

Categories
Japanese Korean

Tomoya – Strathfield NSW Restaurant Review

Tucked within one of the entrances to Strathfield Plaza is Tomoya, a Strathfield rendition of the classic Korean-run mixed Japanese and Korean diner. Tomoya follows the widespread tradition of Japanese cuisine served by Korean people, providing authentic East Asian food at a relatively affordable price compared to many fully-Japanese eateries.

We visited at around 2PM on a Monday afternoon, at which point the place was absolutely packed. The two waitstaff rostered to tackle this problem looked like they were completely run off their feet tending to Korean and Chinese aunties and uncles of varying shapes and sizes talking about classic Korean and Chinese auntie and uncle topics – we heard the words “James Ruse” mentioned more than once from a neighbouring table.

It took a while for the extra-busy staff to take our orders, and even longer still for banchan to be served. Looking around the room it seems like they have made a conscious decision to only serve banchan once the food is being served also. This doesn’t make that much sense to me, as it means that we lose out on banchan-eating time whilst waiting for our food.

This Chicken Katsu Dolsot ($19.50) was quality. It was the only Japanese-ish dish that we ordered within our mostly Korean meal, and quite a good one at that. The chicken was moist and tender within its blanket of crumbs, and the dish was just adequately sauced so that every bite had flavour. The bottom of the rice was crispy as expected, and this was overall a well priced and well tasting dish.

I’ve always wanted to try Haemul Sunbudu Jjigae (soft tofu spicy soup with seafood) ($21) but I’ve always avoided it as a kindness to my partner, who doesn’t really like most seafoods. I seized the opportunity today, however, and ordered, knowing that even though she wouldn’t want it she would be happy with her non-seafood based chicken dish. Unfortuantely for me it appears that Tomoya has recently hiked up its prices, with this particular dish previously being sold for a whole $5 cheaper on menus available online. Perhaps it is merely COVID related inflation, but I doubt we will ever see prices come down again.

The soup, to be honest, was really only OK. There was a heavy focus on tofu and octopus legs, with a couple of pipis and mussels thrown in, as well as half a crab. The flavour was quite light – not as spicy or sour as I had expected, and the soup in general felt a bit watery. As this is my first time having this kind of soup I must admit that I don’t have anything to compare this to. What I do know is that I probably won’t be ordering this again from this particular restaurant.

The seafood and shallot pancake ($21) is actually one of the best I’ve had in recent times. There is a distinct seafood scent and flavour that permeates the entire pancake, from the first bite to the last, that is present even in parts of batter with no seafood. The batter itself is extremely crispy on the outside, whilst retaining a degree of softness and palatability on the inside. The shallot is generously distributed, adding a fresh umami flavour to the mostly octopus based seafood. This is a really good quality seafood pancake, but it’s a shame that, similar to the stew, this has also increased in price from its previously advertised price of $18.

VERDICT
Overall I think the food at Tomoya is pretty alright, but the experience is significantly weighed down by how understaffed they are. Recent significant (10-20%) price hikes across the menu are also quite disappointing, and unfortunately take Tomoya outside of that sweet spot in terms of price and quality that Korean-Japanese cuisine can sometimes hit.

4/5 , good variety, good pancake.

Tomoya
Strathfield Plaza, 34/11 The Boulevarde, Strathfield NSW 2135
(02) 9746 8877

Categories
Asian Fusion Café Chinese

Quick Brown Fox Eatery – Pyrmont NSW CafĂ© Review

There are few things I love more in a café than a competent all-day menu with Asian-fusion dishes. Quick Brown Fox Eatery in Pyrmont, owned and run by siblings with a menu designed by consulting chef/wizard Tomislav Martinovic, fits the bill perfectly.

Quick Brown Fox is set up in what feels a lot like a gingerbread house, with both internal and outdoor seating. The cafĂ© was decorated with lots and lots of Christmas themed decorations (in early January), and had a board which read “364 days to Christmas” in storage at the back between the main cafĂ© and the restrooms. I’ve typically put off trying out restaurants within the CBD on weekdays, however there is surprisingly plentiful two hour ticketed street parking located within a short walk, and if you’re having problems there’s also the nearby fish market parking at a reasonable price.

The Koshihikari Rice Congee ($24.50) with confit ocean trout ($9) was expensive and delicious. It was warm and wholesome, as all congees should be. The general flavour of the congee was mild, not overseasoned, however with a hint of unexpected ma and la added by the fermented chilli relish. We loved the familiar Asian tastes of coriander and enoki mushroom, though thought that the chilli fried egg was just a touch too fried and wonder if this already very good dish would have been even better with a slow egg instead (a la 3 Rƍnin). The maple glazed bacon was so thick cut that it was basically pork belly at this point, though no complaints from us at all. I think it was probably too much to expect that a $9 piece of confit ocean trout would live up to the standard set by Tetsuya’s, though a hungry man can dream. It was fine though – the serving size was a bit small, but the taste, especially the additional umami and variety it added to the dish, was good. Overall a really great dish.

The Buttermilk Pancakes ($23.50) were my partner’s choice, and in my opinion the inferior choice. It consisted of a very generous serving of 4 buttermilk pancakes (although for $23.50 what is generous and what’s just to be expected?) topped with toffee, blackberries, salted pecan crumble and served with some passionfruit ice cream. The pancakes were adequately sour, and the toppings did not make the dish too sweet. I enjoyed the pecan crumble and the ice cream, which were in a league of their own compared to the rest of the ingredients. My partner thought that the toffee sauce tasted a bit stale, and while I could see what she meant I’m not certain that that wasn’t just the intended taste. Faced with a number of delicious looking and sounding savoury items I wouldn’t order this again.

My partner did indulge in a pretty standard Mimosa ($13) whilst I as the very responsible designated driver had a very good soy latte. Quick Brown Fox does offer bottomless mimosas for $30 per person for 90 minutes, or bottomless cocktails (bloody mary, aperol spritz, espresso martini) for $40 per person however we decided against this as my partner never really uses up her full allocation of alcoholic beverages.

VERDICT

Part time chef, part time wizard Tomislav Martinovic has essentially done it again with a beautiful menu of Asian-fusion delights, even better than at Three Williams. There are many more things I’d like to try at Quick Brown Fox and I can’t wait to go back.

Five tomislavs.

Quick Brown Fox Eatery
22 Union St, Pyrmont NSW 2009
(02) 9660 6345

Categories
Bakery Café Korean

LAB Bakery – Strathfield NSW Cafe Review

My partner’s recent obsession with bingsu took us to Strathfield’s LAB Bakery for our fourth snowy treat in as many weeks.

Unfortunately LAB Bakery’s freaky looking Oreo Bingsu was the worst that we’ve had in recent memory. Visually it was quite striking, but not in a good way. The dish essentially consists of a bowl of milky shaved ice with layers of oreo crumb and chocolate sauce, topped with an additional layer of the same. Above this there is a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the choice use of mini oreos and chocolate sauce to make a spooky looking face.

Despite its nightmarish appearance, this bingsu’s edibility is its biggest problem. Crumbs of oreo do not, in fact, mix well with milk snow, nor do they mix well with the back of the throat. Each mouthful was like choking on a glass of sandy unmixed Milo, and unlike Milo there was no flavour hit to numb the pain.

As hinted to in their name, LAB Bakery does not only do bingsu, but also does breads. We indulged in two of their cream puffs ($1) each, which were room temperature pastry balls filled with a vanilla custard cream. These are a bit larger than the puffs at Emperor’s Garden, and their filling is cold, not warm. They are tasty and priced at just the right price point for a small afternoon snack.

VERDICT
Do not get LAB’s Oreo Bingsu. Just don’t do it. Get anything but it. Get some of their breads instead.

LAB Bakery
4 The Boulevarde, Strathfield NSW 2135
0450 593 522