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


Dumplings & Beer – Randwick NSW Restaurant Review

Picture this.

You are a doctor working in the intensive care unit of a tertiary hospital in the Eastern Suburbs. Your partner (who didn’t get a job at said intensive care unit though he really wanted one) is celebrating his birthday today, although he’s trying very hard not to celebrate or let anyone know. The options for lunch where you can walk there and be in, out, and back in the unit within thirty minutes are vanishingly slim – and you’ve already been to Cafe Mckenzie fifteen times this year. One of your Eastern Suburbs colleagues recommends Dumplings & Beer for a quick bite. You take the bait.

Dumplings & Beer’s website – ©2020 Dumplings & Beer.

Dumplings & Beer’s website goes into great lengths to describe Alex Ly and Rose Ly-Schmidt’s parents, both of whom were Asian, but apart from that do not seem to have any other other qualifications relevant to the dumpling industry. Sure, dad seemed eat a lot and mum made dumplings for dinner parties, but so does every other Chinese person’s parents. This kind of story doesn’t lend your restaurant any additional authenticity. If anything, it makes me wonder what isn’t being said. What is it about you yourself that makes this restaurant special?

After a few long paragraphs of shit talk I must admit that the Duck Wraps (3 for $11.50) were actually quite good. To be fair, it’s quite hard to screw up wrapping some roast duck, cucumber, shallot and hoisin sauce in a thin pancake. My only complaint would be the pancake itself. I’ve had better.

The Panfried Pork & Cabbage Dumplings (5 for $9.90) is where it all started to go wrong. Just look at them. The wrappers were absolutely not the right kind for anything that a normal Chinese person would dare to call a dumpling. The wrappers were in fact very thick and bready, almost as if they had been made from self raising flour. The fillings were just fine – it’s hard to mess up the combination of just two ingredients, however I think the presence of these dumplings and the absence of the classic pork (+/- prawn) and chive dumplings on the menu speaks volumes about the restaurant’s target audience – a group that’s probably less discerning about what Chinese food they eat.

The Xiao Long Bao (4 for $9.90) just weren’t very good. Two of the four came with their wrappers stuck to the paper so that they broke when handled, and at $2.50 a pop they were quite expensive.

The Bean Curd Roll (2 for $8) weren’t great but they’ll do. Just about twice the price as what you’d get at a good yum cha restaurant.

The Steamed Scallops, Pork and Chives Dumplings (4 for $9.90) were more of a shao mai than a dumpling. I actually thought these were quite good, large, and reasonably priced compared to the rest of the food on offer.

The Crackling Pork Belly Sliders (2 for $10.50). The meat was warm and the skin crispy. They came with a very sensible amount of sauce, and were not oversauced as sometimes tends to happen at places like this. These bao were completely inoffensive, and we actually ended up getting a serve for takeaway for one of my partner’s colleagues.


I love dumplings, but not the ones on offer at Dumplings & Beer. To be fair, I don’t think I’m the kind of customer Dumplings & Beer targets – the kind that actual authentic Chinese food might offend.

I’m not coming back to a dumpling restaurant where the dumplings aren’t even as good as what I can make myself.

2/5. Try elsewhere.

Dumplings & Beer Randwick
NewMarket Shop 9 162, 164 Barker St, Randwick NSW 2031
(02) 9310 0030


Kuki Tanuki – Erskineville NSW Japanese Restaurant Review

Intrigued by the promise of aburi scallop and steam sake fish, we drove to and parked in Erskineville to eat at Kuki Tanuki. Unfortunately when we arrived we encountered a menu significantly different to what was posted online on Zomato (no doubt we had seen an old one). This is our story.

Wagyu Beef Bowl ($25) – The wagyu beef bowl was the most expensive dish that we tried. It was a large bowl of rice topped with seared beef and a low temperature egg. I personally found the beef to be very raw, and did not think it was seared enough. Chewing on the raw beef I could really imagine the life that Daisy had led in the fields and under the sun. The beef was so raw that I could still taste some of her emotions. My partner did not find the beef so raw as it was difficult to see in the lighting just how raw it was. I did however really enjoy the egg and how it mixed into the rice. I wonder if these guys could take some inspiration from bowlsoc, and their illustrious leader the Meat Master.

Chicken Yakitori with tare (3 for $9). I really enjoyed the yakitori. My partner often confuses yakitori and yakiniku and doesn’t let me eat it very often. One of the negative aspects of the yakitori and I guess the meal was that all of the dishes were served concurrently. The yakitori therefore had time to rest on the counter while waiting for the cow to be slaughtered and put directly onto the rice. In doing so, the yakitori cooled down and ended up a bit lukewarm by time of eating.

The sashimi nachos ($13) were a lot more deconstructed than I had anticipated. In my short lifetime all nachos I have had have had the tortilla chips mixed into the salsa/dip. In this case we were served discrete tortilla chips and a bowl of sashimi and salsa mix and given no instruction. Using my keen sense of innovatoin and drawing on my past experience I was able to scoop some of the nacho mix onto these chips. They were ok. The chips were crunchy. The filling was fine. I wish they had just come as tacos.

Tasmania Roll ($17). My partner is a big aburi salmon fan, and even though she was outside making an important call and I had to choose all of the dishes by myself I knew that she would like this. The Tasmania roll basically had some aburi salmon on top and avocado and cucumber in the middle. My partner quite liked it but in my humble opinion I did not like that the middle was only green. It was a field of wasted opportunity.

The Soft shell crab mini burgers (2 for $13) were good though a bit oversauced.

The Yuzu sake ($10) was expensive but very good. My partner is a big fan of sour things, and liked it so much that she asked them if she could buy some for home. The answer was no.

Overall we ended up spending $81 for a dinner for two but weren’t able to have the two things I really wanted. This makes me quite sad. We will try and come back if the scallops reappear.

Kuki Tanuki
 63 Erskineville Rd, Erskineville NSW 2043
(02) 8084 7438

Asian Fusion Café Chinese

3 Ronin – Chippendale NSW Cafe Review

UPDATE: See my thoughts on their Pho here

3 Ronin is a new Asian-fusion cafe in Spice Alley (Central Park Sydney) with a limited but exciting menu.

The Quinoa & Rice Congee with Poached Salmon, Slow Egg, Shallots & Radish was the highlight of the meal. It was a successful exploration of umami, combining both Winter and Spring themes. We really felt like the congee warmed us up from the inside out, while the coriander and cripsy sour radish provided a fresh Spring feel to it. The salmon reminded us of thick cut, raw smoked salmon that was lightly poached in the warm congee soup, and provided a well balanced protein load for the rest of the dish. The “slow egg” was a highlight of the dish, and something I had never experienced before. The egg yolk was not cooked, but firm and didn’t spill. Absolutely perfect.

I’ve been off baos ever since I had my first baos from a food truck in New Zealand last year, a very bad collection of oversauced disasters. The Waygu Bao ($17.50) was however very good. The brisket was nicely cooked too hard and not to raw. The meaty flavours mixed well with the pickled cabbage and aioli. An overall hit.

This cheesecake style thing was just fine.

Overall i can recommend 3 ronin. I’m a sucker for Asian fusion brunch and the congee is definitely worth a try.

UPDATED: See my thoughts on their Pho here (spoiler: it’s good!)

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