Categories
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

Categories
Asian Fusion Vietnamese

Hello Auntie – Darling Square Haymarket NSW Restaurant Review

We’ve passed Hello Auntie multiple times on our numerous trips to Darling Square, and felt it was time to pay them a visit. Given the limited COVID-19 seating situation, we booked ahead for the same night, which was not a problem at all on a Wednesday.

Hello Auntie has mixed indoor and outdoor seating, and provides blankets to snuggle up under for both indoor outdoor patrons. I can’t imagine that these are washed very often, and thus with the COVID-19 context in mind draws allusions to Christopher Columbus.

As lovers of fried chicken, we were unable to see past the Ga Chien Vi Pho ($32). 500 grams of fried chicken in a pho-flavoured batter could not simply be ignored. We were surprised with three large pieces of juicy, tender chicken in a fluffy golden batter – I had imagined more numerous, smaller pieces. The chicken was tasty and not faultable – a definite recommendation. Despite being listed in the menu I didn’t realise the dish came with a large amount of salad – lettuce heart in plenty of ceasar-like dressing. A relatively heavy and oily salad but a nice and surprising addition.

The other dish we had was the Mi xao bo birria ($21). Supposedly angus blade ragu in biang biang noodles, this dish was very similar to the pappardelle with lamb shank ragu at Flour Drum, but nowhere near as good. The angus blade ragu amounted to little more than connective tissue with only a vague hint of actual meat. It was a very chewy affair. We also found that the biang biang noodles had an odd stale-like taste, which just piled onto the dish’s inadequacies. It was ultimately a poorly executed noodle dish that I wish we had avoided.

While I enjoyed Hello Auntie’s chicken, the ragu was a big letdown. I would return to Hello Auntie to try some other dishes, but probably not in the near future. Hello Auntie earns a rare 3.5/5 chickens. Bok bok.

Hello Auntie Darling Square
Darling Square, Shop 2/16 Nicolle Walk, Haymarket NSW 2000
(02) 8072 8838

Categories
Asian Fusion Chinese

Belly Bao – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

It’s not quite fair to rate a restaurant you were 45 minutes late to, but that’s just what I’m about to do.

I met up with a few of my colleagues after work one Saturday afternoon. It was difficult for us to get a reservation at a universally convenient time, but we settled on a time that would have been possible for me to make with optimum handover and traffic but was ultimately suboptimal. I don’t think we needed to have bothered, however, as as I was walking up to the restaurant 45 minutes post our booking time another group walked in and was able to secure a table without a reservation – it seems that they keep a number of tables open for walk-ins, and one should keep this in mind if booking is problematic.

Belly bao fried chicken wings

Belly Bao’s Fried Chicken Wings (2 for $9) were good and crispy despite having had a long time to cool down. While their flavour and internal texture was not standout, their resilience to heat loss by radiation is quite impressive and implies that they would be a good choice for delivery or takeaway where food is more at the mercy of travel time.

The crackling roast pork belly bao ($7.90) with crackling, radish, coriander and mayonnaise was fine but nothing to write home about. There was nothing particularly good or bad about the bao bread. It would be unfair for me to rate its contents given that it sat on the table uneaten for approximately half an hour prior to my arrival, but I will go ahead and say that I didn’t feel like the crackling pork was quite as crackling as advertised, nor the pork meat appropriately tender. It may be better fresh.

I am able to give an honest review of the slow braised beef short rib bao ($7.50) with kimchi, spring onion and sesame mayonnaise as the restaurant forgot to make the three that we ordered for the table until questioned. This unfortunate lapse meant that I was able to have it fresh. I found the flavour of the beef balanced and appreciated that it was not too overflavoured, which seems to be a common problem with many baos especially in restaurants in largely culturally and linguistically non-diverse areas (bad memories from Bao Now in Te Anau, New Zealand 2018 still haunt me to this day). Not a bad bao overall.

Overall a 3.5/5

Belly Bao
184 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
0402 826 907

Categories
Café Thai

Boon Cafe – Haymarket NSW Thai Cafe Review

We walked past many enticing restaurants this morning to eat at Boon Cafe, a Thai cafe, restaurant and grocery store in the Sydney CBD.

Boon Cafe has minimal dining space, we counted a total of five tables and not much room for expansion. The tables were small, but somehow able to fit all of our food, condiments, and even some flowers snugly.

We started with a Pork Skewer ($3.50), which was pretty standard fare. I found the skewer a bit too tasty/salty to eat by itself, and think it would’ve been better with some rice (which luckily they offer as a meal) .

I really enjoyed the Chicken and Ginger Congee ($12), to which we added a Century Egg ($3). They got the flavours just right, with a generous serving of ginger. The century egg I would regard as essential for this dish, to add another dimension of umami flavour and texture. We found that the congee was very wholesome and warming, and can strongly recommend this. My girlfriend remarked that as a child she hated congee, but as an adult, getting to eat these wholesome and varied congees has really taught her to love it.

The chicken wings were nothing to really write home about but not bad either. They were a little on the dry side, but the flavours were good, as was the dipping sauce. They were split in half for ease of consumption, which was a nice touch.

The Khao Dtom Sen ($14) is a member of the Winter Special menu, and not to our taste. I thought that the soup had a bit of an undesirable coat-your-mouth feel, and my partner thought it was fishy however I suspect that’s just her brain’s explanation of something she doesn’t like.

I ended up quite liking Boon Cafe, in particular the congee. I would definitely consider going back and just getting more congee! I wouldn’t stray too far from that though (although I can’t speak for the lunch or dinner menus).

This is a handsome little street cat from around the area.

Boon Cafe
1/425 Pitt St, Haymarket NSW 2000
(02) 9281 2114

Boon Cafe Eatery & Jarern Chai Grocer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Categories
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