Asian Fusion Café Japanese

Devon – Surry Hills NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I are big fans of Dopa – Devon’s offshoot donburi restaurant in Darling Square. We’ve been going regularly over the past few months, however it had been a long time since we had dined at the mothership in Surry Hills.

We went suckered in by pictures of uni laden foods on instagram, and I made my partner promise me that she would let us leave and eat somewhere else if they had run out (as is often the case at Dopa, I’m sick of being baited and switched).

We dined on a Sunday morning in an empty restaurant, much different to how it was like when we had last dined in 2019. As predicted, they were out of uni, however a craving for a pork katsu sandwich prevented us from leaving.

My partner had a matcha latte while I, as an inferior Asian, had an iced matcha soy latte. While I can’t speak for my partner’s drink, I can say that my iced matcha soy latte was not as good as the one that I had at 101kissa. There was just something so powdery and nice about the iced matcha soy lattte from 101kissa, whereas this one was a weird blend of sweet and bitter that didn’t tickle my tastebuds in quite the right way.

Devon’s pork katsu sando ($16) is cut into two portions and served in a cardboard box. The sauce is spread evenly through the sandwich, which is a selling point, however this is where the compliments end. I felt that the pork itself was not as juicy or tender as in the pork katsu sandwich I had at Cafe Kentaro. I also felt that the sandwich was overbreaded, with the bread to filling ratio too great, adding an unneeded and unwanted blandness to the taste. The size and construction of the sandwich halves were also inferior to the three pieces at Kentaro, and made the sandwich difficult to eat.

While Devon’s pork katsu sando probably stands fine on its own to a person who has never had a good pork katsu sando, it fails in comparison to that at Kentaro, a few kilometres away.

I didn’t enjoy the salted egg yolk cheesy curly fries ($13). Perhaps it’s because we’ve had just so much salted egg yolk foods in the past few weeks that I’m sick of it, but I think the more likely reason is that these chips were oily but dry. Their thinness did not help, as the higher surface area to volume ratio increased the radiative heat loss from the food, making them too cool and yucky too quickly.

My partner ordered the omurice with salmon sashimi in ponzu sauce. We were quite surprised to find that the omurice was served separately to the salmon. The salmon was cold but the omurice was warm. While the omurice itself was quite delicious with its mushroomy gravy, I don’t think it really worked as a combination. I wonder if it’s the responsibility of the wait staff to sway you away from bad choices. Either way, that was not what happened here. What happened here was a thoroughly noncohesive dish.

I’m sad to say that I didn’t really enjoy our trip to Devon. While I love their rice bowls at their Haymarket offshoot Dopa, our trip back to the mothership was disappointing.

Devon Cafe
76 Devonshire St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9211 8777

Asian Fusion Café Malaysian

Cafe Rumah – Surry Hills NSW Malaysian Restaurant Review

Rumour has it that Cafe Rumah is one of the top Malaysian-fusion cafes in all of Sydney. To be fair, there aren’t really that many. My partner and I ventured into the inner west one sunny Friday morning for a bit of Asian cuisine.

Mama Yang’s Pork Belly Rice Bowl ($18) was delicious. The pork belly was cooked well, with a great melt in your mouth feel to the fat and skin components. The fatty pork to lean pork ratio was just right, and neither components overpowered the other. The fresh herbs and pickles added an additional level of flavour to the soy-braised pork belly and rice, and gave it a new spin compared to the usual pork belly fare that we normally get from Chinese restaurants around the city. I can definitely recommend this dish.

While Mama Yang prevailed in her dish’s light deliciousness, the Tom Yum Chicken Congee ($16) faltered. I found the tom yum congee to be far too tasty. The tom yum and flavours were too strong, and took away from this congee’s ability to be a wholesome and warming meal. In their defense, the congee had all of the requisite ingredients, including what seemed like $5 of ginger alone, but it is perhaps this generosity that led to its defeat. Too tasty, not wholesome.

The Milo Dino ($6.50) was a surprise hit. Six dollars is a lot to pay for a glass of milo, but the taste was nice and I didn’t choke on the powdery stuff on top.

Overall I think Cafe Rumah tends towards stronger flavours, and is perhaps a miss if you are someone who has a softer palate. Personally I would still like to come back and try their roti john, so I guess it’s a recommend with caveats.

Cafe Rumah
(02) 9280 2289
71-73 Campbell St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010

Asian Fusion Café

Chimichuri – Chatswood NSW Brunch Review

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a new mole on my left palm. This worried me for a number of reasons. The first of these is that you’re not really meant to have moles in areas of skin that are not exposed to the sun. The second of which was that this was new and therefore something potentially problematic. As someone with the baseline anxiety grade of 7 out of 10 I decided that I needed to have this checked and hopefully biopsied as we know that tissue is king. And thus we made it to the Upper North Shore for a two minute skin check, and took the golden opportunity to get some brunch as well.

We rarely have an excuse to cross the bridge and I had a number of restaurants lined up just waiting to be eaten at. Near the top of this list was Chimichuri, yet another Asian fusion brunch cafe.

My partner ordered the Earl Grey Latte (L -$5), also known as a “large fun milk please”. Unfortunately the fun milk was not as fun as expected as we found it to be too far too sweet. My soy latte (S/R – $4) was just a soy latte, pretty good, but no different to every other soy latte I have every other day. Drinks aside, I thought that the cups were particularly nice, as they had a large clear base that elevated the liquid holding portion and made the glasses seem bigger than they were.

Chimichuri – Black Benedict

The Black Benedict ($24) was basically a deep fried soft-shell crab together with a charcoal hamburger bun poached eggs and black dyed hollandaise sauce. There is also a very small amount of salmon roe which I found to have an odd taste and lacking in freshness. The Black Benedict is one of their signature dishes, however ultimately disappointing. My humble opinion is that the flavours were not very good or cohesive. I was also not a fan of the charcoal bun, and I believe the jury is still out as to whether or not this is good for your health or will actively cause cancer. Either way, I don’t think black bread really adds anything to the taste of food and I try to actively avoid it where possible.

Chimichuri – Scallop Shell

I enjoyed the Scallop Shell ($24) much more. I thought that the croissant had a great warmth and airy texture to it. It was so buttery and tasty and probably one of the best croissant I’ve had in recent memory. The scrambled egg on the croissant was also very light and warm on the inside and reminded me of the scrambled egg from Dopa. I thought that the scallop was not actually as special as I thought there would be. While the main advertised attraction, there were only three scallops for the entire dish and I didn’t feel like they had much flavour to them at all. My partner, if given the opportunity to speak, will tell you that scallop is normally quite a light-flavoured ingredient and that there is often a lot of potential for scallops flavours to be muddled up by for example croissant or egg. She said it was much better eaten on its own, however even in its own mouthful I found the scallop to be a bit lacking. We will have to beg to differ.

3.5/5 , hit and miss

1/6 Help St, Chatswood NSW 2067
(02) 8084 5272

Café Vietnamese

3 Ronin (Revisited) – Chippendale NSW Pho Review

It’s not often that I revisit a restaurant outside of my local neighbourhood, but after being incepted by images of 3 Ronin’s wagyu pho on Instagram I knew I had to go back. You will recall from being an avid reader of this blog that I last visited 3 Ronin back in September, when I thoroughly enjoyed their poached salmon congee and beef brisket baos. My partner, out of spoons from eating out so often in the first week of our annual leave, declined to come. This was a decision she lived to regret.

Before I get into the food, I need to make a quick special mention about the water. The table water served was filtered and chilled, and I was asked if I would prefer a bottle to pour by myself rather than them pouring for me. I quite like getting the choice to pour my own water, as it minimises hovering and gave me the opportunity to enjoy my pho alone.

3 Ronin’s pho, at $24.50, is the most expensive pho I have ever eaten. It is also, perhaps, one of the best.

The broth, which was poured onto the noodles in front of me in as an extravagant display, was delicious and full of umami. Two types of beef was served, one – a tender rare sliced wagyu, and the other – brisket with a bit of a smoked flavour which reminded me of their bao. There was also the addition of half of a soft boiled egg, which was delicious when eaten with the soup.

The bowl was accompanied by the standard Thai basil, chopped chilli and a healthy serving of fresh bean sprouts. Interestingly, 3 Ronin has chosen to serve their pho with finger limes rather than the traditional lemon or lime – a distinctly Australian choice. I found that compared to the usual conventional method of citrus delivery, the finger limes did not pollute the soup with sourness in every bite. As discrete pellets of sour flavour, the finger limes were able to provide a sour taste to specific mouthfuls only when desired, making them quite an interesting touch.

My overall thoughts are that while a very expensive bowl of Pho, the results are quite worth it. 3 Ronin still seems to be a a bit of a hidden gem, despite having been open for a couple of months. Only half the tables were filled at 12:30PM on a weekday, which is prime time for some lunch. I think at least part of this is due to the price – their food does seem a bit expensive to the cheaper, food court fare in Spice Alley – but I do still think it is undeserved. I’d highly recommend giving their pho, as well as their salmon congee a try.

On my third visit to 3 Ronin we again had the wagyu pho, which unfortunately wasn’t as good as I remembered it. We were also significantly disappointed by another dish.

3 Ronin’s Ginger and Shallot Sourdough Waffle ($16.50) with smoked salmon and slow egg, was, unlike the rest of their menu, actively bad. I could not imagine a more bland tasting, structureless waffle than the one pictured above. The slow egg, a bit watery this time and without its own flavour, struggled alongside tiny slivers of smoked salmon to add flavour, ultimately to no avail. An anti-recommendation for this dish is in order.

3 Rōnin
26 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008
0411 616 167

Asian Fusion Café Chinese

Flour Drum – Newtown Brunch Review

I’ve wanted to eat at Flour Drum for some time, but had avoided it in view of the terrifying parking situation in Newtown. I was finally able to bundle up the spoons to brave the King St parking situation this weekend, only to find that parking isn’t so bad on a Sunday morning. We had a dish from their regular menu, and a dish from their Spring inspired menu. Allow me to discuss.

The handmade pappardelle with 8-hours slow braised South Australian Lamb Shank Ragu shallot and chili infused olive oil and Cyprian volcanic black sea salt ($26.50) is a very long name, but one which adequately describes the components of this dish. This was a safe choice, and a very delicious one. The pasta was cooked softer than al dentre, which was good for me, because I’m basic. I really enjoyed the flavours, and the fresh chopped chilli gave the ragu the perfect amount of spice. I couldn’t identify the volcanic black sea salt, but have no doubt it was present. I don’t know what this really added to the dish over and beyond what normal salt would have added.

I’m going to be honest, I was highly skeptical of the Handmade Pork and Prawns Dumplings with Egg Noodles in a Chicken Broth, Chinese Bok Choy, Japanese Roasted Seaweed and Parsley. I am often wary of Asian food in a predominantly Caucasian restaurant, as more often than not it is more expensive, and less good. Flour drum’s pork and prawn dumplings were the exception to the rule. The dumplings were bursting with umami flavour, and could compete with any other dumpling and wonton in wide circulation. They were really the star of the show, with the fresh bok choy a close second. I thought that the noodles and soup were a bit too plain and mild-flavoured, an opinion my partner originally held but subsequently changed her mind on. I would recommend this dish for the taste of dumplings alone, however the price ($22-25 from memory) is far too much, and a dish of similar quality and construction would not surpass $12 at your local Chinese restaurant (I’m aware one of the co-owners of Flour Drum (Victor Li) is of Asian descent)

This giant M&M cookie was like $7. It was fine. Its structural rigidity was poor but I don’t know how they could have done better with such a large surface area.

Overall I think Flour Drum is just fine. The food is good, and I’m impressed by how they are able to create both Eastern and Western dishes quite competently. My big criticism has to be the price however, especially for strictly Chinese dishes that have an obvious and equally high quality counterpart in your local Chinese restaurant for half the price.

3.5/5 (including price adjustment)

Flour Drum Newtown
531 King St, Newtown NSW
(02) 9565 2822

Flour Drum Newtown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato