Lee Chef is your friendly neighbourhood ethnically ambiguous Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant. Open until 10PM, they have, on multiple occasions, patiently remained open as we slurped up our post-shift pho and eaten our fill of authentic Asian classics.
The fried chicken wings were great. They were lightly battered and freshly fried, seasoned with 椒盐 (jiao yan), which is a traditional Chinese salt and chilli pepper seasoning. Each wing was crispy on the outside but moist on the inside – perfectly executed.
The vegetarian spring rolls were not great – in fact they teetered on the edge of actively bad. They were brought out very quickly and didn’t really feel like they had been heated all the way through. The filling inside the spring rolls were lukewarm at best, and displayed a mushy texture. We didn’t end up finishing these spring rolls – they were simply calories for punishment.
The Combination Beef Pho was wholesome and authentic. All elements were good. The protein component consisted of rare beef, beef balls, tendon, and beef rum. The soup was full of umami flavours and not too sweet or salty – just right. The side of Vietnamese mint and bean sprouts was not only adequate but generous. I am blessed to live near a restaurant that can deliver such consistently good pho.
I was less impressed by the Hainan Chicken Rice. I found the chicken too bland and tasteless and the rice a bit too hard, though I did appreciate the soup and the generous serving of chilli and ginger and shallot condiments. My partner was a much bigger fan of this dish than I was.
The combination bean curd hot pot was of quality and taste commensurate with its price. I do love myself a combination bean curd hot pot.
VERDICT Quality neighbourhood eatery Hits all the classics right in the bullseye Wouldn’t travel for it, but will keep coming back again and again this year. 4/5
Lee Chef 1/140 Church St, Parramatta NSW 2150 (02) 8677 4425
Wallabies Thai is one of our local Thai places. It offers eat-in, takeaway, and delivery service. We decided to try eating in after seeing it pop up on Ubereats one too many times.
The money bags (4 for $8.90) were enjoyable but nothing to write home about.
No major complaints from us for the mixed entree (5 for $8.90), although I remember not really liking the curry puff.
The garlic fried rice was really good. Huge amounts of garlic inside, and giant portion.
The biggest disappointment of the meal was the laksa noodle soup ($15.90). I can’t recommend it.
The following are from a more recent delivery order from Wallabies Thai.
The BBQ Chicken (Boneless) ($15.90) was quite good. The chicken was tender and juicy, and nicely flavoured. I like the addition of the vegetables which included broccoli and capsicum, as I wasn’t expecting them. These vegetables were bathed in the delicious chicken juices.
The special wing ($14.90) of chicken in thick garlic sauce was tasty however suffered from the having of wing tips. This made it a bit difficult to eat, and I always feel like it’s low yield to include the tiny, low-meat wing tip with a meal.
My partner was a big fan of the pad see ew with roasted duck ($19.90). We’re normally more of a pad kee mao family, however we ventured outside of our comfort zone and were rewarded.
I can whole heartedly recommend Wallabies Thai, for either eat-in or delivery. Their prices are excellent and their food delicious. Eat in service is also very fast. A local gem.
“The Best Dumplings in Kensington” is a big claim to make for this small, pan-fried-only dumpling restaurant. While I can’t directly refute this claim given I’ve never had dumplings at any other Kensington restaurant, I can tell you with certainty that their dumplings are not the best in the Randwick-Kensington-Kingsford Anzac Parade area (that crown is currently worn by the Northeast Restaurant in Kingsford).
I had a selection of dumplings and Chu’s fried chicken wings.
Each type of dumpling is offered in 6 or 12 piece portions, and only come pan-fried. They were on average not bad – very juicy and with fresh ingredients, but a bit underflavoured for me (which is unusual).
The Egg, Chive, and Prawn dumplings (6 for $9) and the Pork, Chive, and Prawn dumplings (6 for $9) both had large and generous pieces of prawn inside which provided a good mouthfeel and taste. Both could’ve used a bit more flavouring, however there was ample soy sauce and vinegar for adjustment to personal taste.
The Chicken and Mushroom dumplings (6 for $8) were also mildly flavoured – I had this meal two days ago and it is not memorable at all.
The Crayfish and Pork dumplings (6 for $13) were a bit more expensive given the addition of seafood. These tasted vastly different to the other three, with a strong spicy flavour.
The chicken wings (6 for $9) were moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. They were deep fried in a thin but very eggy batter and dusted with a seasoning similar to that used in Taiwanese Fried Chicken. These wings were different to any other wings I’ve had before, and definitely a highlight. The guy who came in after me also asked for wings, and after a brief conversation in Mandarin between the guy at front of house and the lady in the kitchen it was revealed that they only had 5 wings in stock. He was told that they had sold out of chicken wings and opted for some diced fried chicken instead, although I wonder if he would’ve been happy to have just five wings (he was alone, after all) at a discount. We’ll never know.
VERDICT Does Chu’s Dumpling House really have the best dumplings in Kensington? I don’t know – I guess they’re the best I’ve ever had in Kensington, a low bar as they’re also the only I’ve had in Kensington. I think that despite what I suspect is a bit of hyperbole Chu’s Dumpling House is still worth a visit. Their dumplings are fresh and juicy, and their chicken wings are different and special. I only wish they did their dumplings boiled.
Masterful inactivity is a skill to be lauded in the intensive care setting. When you’re in a mixed HDU/ICU environment surrounded by both sick patients and not-so-sick patients it’s important to know when to do the invasive, expensive investigations and treatments and when to just sit back and watch.
The same is not true for deciding where to eat for dinner. I was paralysed with indecision last night, presented with three choices of which I could only choose one. It was my partner who took the reins and decided Belle’s Hot Chicken, the restaurant that we had originally set out for at the start of the night but had baulked at when the notion of having to wait in a queue for a table was raised.
We parked in Wilson Parking (Darling Square – Zollner Circuit), which is only $5 for weeknights and weekends. It’s a bit cramped, especially on a weekend, compared to the nearby Darling Quarter parking, however is very close to Darling Square with no walk required. Discovering pre-booked paid parking in the city actually changed my outlook to dining in the city completely. For the longest time I had completely avoided going into the CBD, afraid of having to navigate one way roads and find difficult parking. Now with Wilson Parking I don’t have to worry. I know I may sound like a paid shill for Wilson (and I wish I were – I have introduced a number of colleagues to them) but I really am not. I am also very against Wilson Security’s alleged role in spying on Senator Sarah Hanon-Young in Nauru back in 2015, but a cheap park is a cheap park.
We had the 3 wings with fries ($16), medium heat to cater for my girlfriend’s tastebuds. I thought that the fries were fresh and tasty, however the large wings were a bit difficult to eat. The wings, for reference, consisted of both a small drumstick, the normal wing piece, and the wing tip. The chicken itself was quite moist and tasty, however medium is definitely not spicy enough for me – if you look at it it’s really the 2nd weakest rating out of 6 or 7 different spice levels. I also thought that this combo was a bit steep in price. The wings also came with plenty of pickles.
To satisfy our curiosity for what other parts of the chicken tasted like, we also ordered a single drumstick for $4 – flavoured in hot. This also came with some pickles and white bread. I enjoyed the drumstick more than the wing, which is somewhat of an anomaly for me. I found the drumstick moist and juicy, and the hot spice setting was better than the medium setting. My partner didn’t like the drumstick as much – she found it drier than the wings – but I respectfully disagree.
The Belle’s Wild Wings (3 for $5 or 8 for $11) were stars of the show. They come in Southern, Maple Butter, or “Fuck COVID” seasoning levels, and we had Southern. The “Fuck COVID” spice level is apparently very high, a choice which I must question given the propensity for very spicy foods to induce coughing and other aerosol generating reflexes. The wings themselves were excellent, similar to the other pieces of chicken. I find that the mid-wing is my favourite type of wing, and think that 8 for $11 is just excellent value.
The Sauces (3 for $5) were nothing to write home about. The hot sauce was very similar to Frank’s Red Hot sauce. The Mississippi comeback was good, the blue cheese was fine. I am a bit sad t hat there was no free sauce offered, however I didn’t really think that sauce was required, come to think of it.
The Belle’s Chicken Sandwich ($13) was moist and juicy. The mayo-style sauce, lettuce, pickles and cheese really added a fresh taste to the moist thigh chicken . This was my partner’s top pick of the meal and I can also recommend it. It’s not very spicy and I don’t know if you could for it to be made spicier if you wanted it to be that way.
The Belles Spritz ($13) is a mix of aperol and pet nat. It’s fine.
Overall I did enjoy Belle’s Hot Chicken. My partner still thinks that Thirsty Bird is better, but I really liked the spiciness of Belle’s. I’d like to come back, and get everything with at least the fourth level of spiciness.
One other slight digression I will make is a complaint about the lack of sink-space. Fried chicken is a very hands-on meal, and I think that, especially in the current COVID-19 environment, that it would not just be handy but even compulsory to have some kind of handwashing station available. I understand that there are not toilets available inside – there are some available elsewhere in the Darling Square complex – but a lack of handwashing facilities is in my opinion unacceptable. While 3 wet wipes were available for the table, I think that a sink would have gone a long way – both in the pre and the post consumption phases.
Cats are my favourite animal. Even though we have two small cats at home, we often find ourselves in wonder of cats on the internet, on the streets, and now at Pokemeow Cat Cafe.
One of the great joys of Pokemeow Cat Cafe is being able to sit outside and peer into their cat playground. Their clowder of cats, consisting of two Maine coons, a sphinx, a ragdoll, a munchkin and a very beautiful but average domestic shorthair, are an absolute delight to watch. Being able to watch them play and interact during our meal really elevated the experience. There’s also the opportunity to pay $10 for a 30 minute play session inside the playground (book beforehand online), but we chose not to as we felt it would be a bit weird to have all the diners look at us as we did so.
The overall vibe of the place is very pet friendly as well, and many of the other patrons brought their dogs along for brunch. There was, in particular, a very good yellow labrador who my partner got to pet.
While the six beautiful resident cats at Pokemeow are undoubtedly their main draw, their Asian fusion brunch menu isn’t anything to sneer at either.
I had the black sesame latte while my partner had just a normal large cappuccino. It strikes me that asking for a black sesame latte is more or less asking for fun milk please. A protip to new players, make sure to mix up your black sesame latte – there tends to be a lot of stuff that sediments at the bottom.
We enjoyed the truffle chips, which came covered in a cheesy parmesan. They were fresh out of the fryer and unfaultable.
I quite liked the six spicy fried chicken wings. I thought that they were reasonably priced (≤$10) and freshly fried and delicious. My partner thought they were not as good as the ones we had at Belle’s Hot Chicken the previous night but I thought they stood well on their own.
I felt that the earl grey pancakes were a bit dry on their own, but just fine when combined in a single bite with the provided mascarpone, berries, and sauce. I probably wouldn’t get these again, but my partner was a big fan.
The grilled salmon green tea soba salad was a bit of a weird one. The salmon was pretty standard (no better than anyone could make at home), however I would’ve liked a bit more of it. I couldn’t really appreciate the green tea flavour of the voluminous soba noodles until I had a further bite of a chicken wing to contrast against. I thought that the soba noodles perhaps were featured too prominently in the dish, however did enjoy it once the soba were mostly powered through and I could pair it better with the remaining sesame dressing, carrot, and tomato salad components. My partner didn’t really like this dish, but in retrospect and on deep introspection I did. I probably still wouldn’t get it again. Offer to pay for double salmon if they will let you.
I really enjoyed my visit to Pokemeow. Their food was pretty good, and there are a lot more Asian fusion brunch options left to try. I loved watching the cats play and interact, and would absolutely come back agian.