Categories
Chinese

No. 1 Malatown (第一道骨汤麻辣烫) – Mascot NSW Restaurant Review

Tucked behind a corner and invisible from the main road, No. 1 Malatown in Mascot is not somewhere you end up accidentally. Sharing a very similar name to the decidedly disgusting but similar in concept No.1 Malatang restaurant chain, No. 1 Malatown’s Mascot store provides most of your ma la tang staples as well as the unusual addition of hot kitchen-cooked a la carte dishes.

The No.1 Malatown store in Mascot is a large store with two separate dining areas. The front room is dominated by the fridge, regularly restocked with frozen meats, fish balls, greens, and noodles, as well as a drinks table featuring two types of citrus infused water, cutlery and crockery.

The selection of ingredients at No. 1 Malatown is perhaps a bit reduced compared to its competitors, however this did mean that I was forced to try different ingredients that I’ve traditionally avoided, like spam. It’s worth a mention that I witnessed the fridges being restocked with frozen meat during my visit. The vegetables and other ingredients were quite fresh.

No. 1 Malatown offers a selection of either bone broth or tomato broth for traditional wet malantag, or dry spicy or non-spicy cooking techniques for stir fry. The bone broth is the spicy “mala” version, however does come with a bit of creamy bone broth flavour. There is no option to have spicy malatang without bone flavour.

I generally enjoyed my bowl of malatang. It’s always nice to try different takes on the same concept. The selection of tofu, something that is a bit of a malatang staple for me, was pretty narrow. There was no fresh silken tofu, only frozen tofu slices which had quite a strange , fish-ball like consistency when cooked. Despite this, the meal was pretty good.

No. 1 Malatown is unique in that it offers other a la carte options alongside its core malatang offering. The lamb skewers are OK, not great. I can’t really explain or express why, but they’re just not as good as what you’d get at a restaurant or stall that dedicates itself to this art.

There is a small board within the restaurant that explains bonus offers for certain purchase amounts. These include things like bonus drinks, bonus wings, bonus skewers for certain amounts of spend. The staff in the store make no effort to mention these bonuses or point out to the sign, so you are shit out of luck if you don’t notice it yourself. It was only while I was getting myself some water, some time after I had ordered, that I noticed the bonus board and asked for my chicken wings. A bit of a strange way to do business, if you ask me.

The chicken wings were actually pretty good, and I’m glad I was able to try them. They were moist inside and appropriately crispy on the outside.

VERDICT
No.1 Malatown is good, but probably not even the best malatang place in Mascot. While their a la carte sides are not bad, it’s clear that they’re not the restaurant’s true focus. The presence of a hidden bonus board put a bit of a bad taste in my mouth – they would’ve absolutely let me leave without my free chicken wings. I did also run into some other first timers whilst I was at No. 1 Malatown – an anaesthetic nurse from RPA with whom I had a brief but passionate discussion about the benefits of the Vygon arterial leadercath. At the end of the day I think Long Men Zhu is probably better, cleaner feeling, and certainly where I would take someone for malatang in Mascot over this place.

3.75/5 – Quarter mark lost for unwelcoming business practices.

No.1 Malatown 第一道麻辣烫+烧烤
Shop 3/260 Coward St, Mascot NSW 2020
0413 070 021

Categories
Korean

Bibimbar – Chippendale NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I love us some Korean food, and Chippendale’s recently opened Bibimbar, with its delightful play on play on words, broad menu, and inner city location was just the restaurant we were looking for for a quick but filling lunch.

It’s kind of difficult being in a relationship with someone who has a different taste in Korean fried chicken than your own. Nine times out of ten my partner will want to have sweet and spicy fried chicken (Dakgangjeong – 닭강정), and at restaurants that don’t offer two flavours in one serving that’s normally what we will get. We were glad that while Bibmbar doesn’t offer half and half on their half fried chicken, this choice was in fact available on their Wing Wing ($19) – a serving of twelve pieces of fried chicken wings and drumsticks.

I thought the chicken wings were well fried and flavoured, with the honey garlic wings taking the top spot in my heart. I actually did also enjoy the sweet and spicy fried chicken, more than I expected, and I think this has to do with Bibimbar’s careful attention to detail and making sure that the sauce was not so strong to be overpowering. We did also get a special creamy onion sauce for dipping ($2) though I think it is absolutely not a critical component of the meal and you’re not really missing out on anything without it. The chicken was very good as is.

The last time I had kimbab was probably back in 2003, out of my fourth grade friend Soo Hon Lee’s lunchbox. (This will be an exciting throwback for him if he has a Google alert set up for his name). No disrespect to Soo Hon and Soo Chan’s mother, but Bibimbar’s version of Kimbab (with bulgogi beef) ($14) was both better and more elaborate than what I remember. I really loved the fresh taste of the included vegetables, and the nice crunch in the mouth whilst chewing through them. This extreme freshness complimented the umami flavours of the mayonnaise, egg, and bulgogi beef very well. The ratio of fillings to rice was very good, ensuring entertainment throughout the entire mouthful. The “addicting soy sauce”, as mentioned on the menu, was actually quite a bit different to normal soy sauce, though I don’t know what exactly is in it (perhaps cocaine). I have no real barometer for kimbab except for home cooking for a nine year old’s packed lunch, but I can tell you that this was a good dish.

Jjapaguri, popularised by the Academy Award winning film Parasite, is a usually humble mixture of chapagetti and neoguri noodles – essentially a ramen and udon with spicy and black bean flavours. Bibimbar’s Jjapaguri ($34) is a little less humble – a large 30cm dish of noodles, fried tofu, some kind of fried dough cruller, cabbage, enoki, wood ear fungus, and beef brisket in a black bean sauce that’s cooked on a portable butane stove at the table. It was a really huge and delicious dish, though I’m not too sure what the actual benefit of being cooked at the table was. It was wholesome, hearty, and filling, great value with great flavours. I can really recommend this.

VERDICT
Bibimbar’s wholesome, hearty meals were an absolute delight. I can really recommend them to anyone looking for a reasonably priced and authentic Korean meal.

Bibimbar
69 Abercrombie St, Chippendale NSW 2008
(02) 8964 0900

Categories
Italian

Pepper Gourmet Pizza – Maroubra NSW Restaurant Review

Pepper Gourmet Pizza was my most recent victim after getting home past midnight after an evening shift in the emergency department.

Pepper’s Truffle Beef Pizza ($17, medium) – described as “Béchamel Base, Wagyu Beef, Wild Mushroom, Caramelised Onions, Mozzarella, Topped With Fresh Basil, Buffalo Mozzarella And Truffle Aioli” – was quite disappointing. The “Wagyu” beef tasted no different to regular strips of beef that had been cooked well done. The wildness of the mushrooms I felt did not add anything to their taste or texture, and a more friendly domesticated mushroom would not have hurt this pizza in any way. The truffle aioli drizzle was oily but was unfortunately necessary to provide an additional flavour to this cheesy greasy mess. Not for me.

Garlic Prawns

The Garlic Prawns Pizza ($18, medium) was also a disappointment. Pepper’s idea of a prawn is obviously a very small, budget style acquatic animal with little meat or flavour. The garlic sauce component of the pizza was also very mild. The fresh lemon slice was a good addition but I could’ve used two. It would’ve been better with more flavourful and robust garlic, and larger and more prawns for the price.

The Mexican Pizza ($17 – medium) doesn’t try too hard at incorporated premium sounding ingredients, but actually does what it sets out to do well. This pizza provides a good mix of flavours from its slightly spicy chorizo to its spicy and tangy jalapenos. This is the only pizza from Pepper’s Gourmet Pizza that I would buy again.

Don’t get the spicy chicken wings (6 for $9.95). That is all.

VERDICT

I would not recommend Pepper Gourmet Pizza for your next primary school pizza party, however it is in my opinion still much better than Maranello’s, also in Maroubra.

Three stars

Pepper Gourmet Pizza Maroubra
Shop 2/183 Maroubra Rd, Maroubra NSW 2035
(02) 8041 0511

Categories
American Uncategorized

Cloris Gourmet – Botany NSW Restaurant Review

Cloris Gourmet, one of our local restaurants, open until the wee hours of the morning. The food is cheap though not amazing, acceptable in a pinch.

Beef Chorizo Burger ($11.50) was only ok.

Spicy Southern Chicken Burger ($10.50) was also OK. A pretty similar mix of slaws. The chicken was better than the beef in my opinion.

The Lamb Hot Roll ($13.50) wasn’t what I wanted or expected. I thought it would be a roll in the way a kebab roll is a roll. I don’t understand why they would call the last two burgers burgers but this one a roll.

Chicken wings (6 for $7.50) were fine, not special, were a bit oily, wouldn’t go for them again.

3.5/5 + 0.5 late night bonus

Cloris Gourmet
1621 Botany Rd, Botany NSW 2019
(02) 8964 1861

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