Asian Fusion Café Chinese

STIX – Marrickville NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I have been eating a lot of good food recently, much to the disappointment of my healthcare team and our mortgage deposit. This morning’s late start for my partner found us at STIX, a farm to table café with a much appreciated all-day menu.

We started with the potato hash ($8). I couldn’t stop her. For what it’s worth, these were great. These were extremely buttery and luscious, multi-layered with a thin crispy of an exterior and a soft interior. Pretty tasty.

The smoked trout rillettes ($24) with fennel and kohlrabi remoulade, celery, pickled eschallot, apricot jam and sourdough toast was next. I enjoyed the taste and texture of this dish, as something I could not dream of making myself. The base of sourdough bread was nice and crusty, with good structural integrity and able to carry the weight of its toppings with ease. The brightness, freshness and crunchiness of the celery was excellent with the more creamy textures of the remoulade and trout rillette. The taste and texture of the rillette, something difficult to make or find outside of a restaurant, were both good, and a reasonable volume was provided with our order.

The poached egg was comically small, though we do understand that when you’re raising the hens yourself there is a spectrum of eggs produced, and it’s not possible to only have 58 gram eggs. Unfortunately the small size of our poached egg may have contributed to its overcooking – I have no photos but it was 0% runny compared to what a normal poached egg is.

The last thing to mention would be the apricot jam, which was just a little bit sweet but added so much to the overall flavour of the dish, complimenting the saltiness and savouriness of the rest of the meal. My partner particularly liked that it was dolloped on in discrete bits, so that some mouthfuls would have some sweetness and others would not.

The very good chicken and sweetcorn congee ($21) was a dish that I felt I could probably make at home, and am in fact probably ethnically and genetically obliged to make at home at some point. It was a really tasty and hot bowl of congee, with a bit of spiciness from some tamari chilli relish, some sweetness from the corn, some ginger, and some saltiness from what I presume is just plain salt. The texture of the rice was very nice and soft, and has prompted me to freeze a bit of washed and soaked rice in my freezer just now so that I can make something similar soon. The chicken was not particularly plentiful, with a shredded grocery store rotisserie chicken kind of quality (though I do not mean to defame – I’m sure it was much fancier than this), but enough for enjoyment. This was ultimately a simple but very well executed dish, one that will inspire me to be a better Asian this week.

I made my partner wait a full twelve minutes after the end of our meal to decide if she still wanted this tea and toast croissant ($9.50). $9.50 is a lot to pay for a croissant. I thought that the earl grey tea cream filling of the croissant was plentiful in volume, but sadly not so in taste. It felt highly calorie dense, fatty and thick, but without the taste payoff that such expenditure should entail. I would’ve much preferred a stronger earl grey taste in this situation, preferably also without as much volume of cream. Filling aside, the marmalade glaze on this croissant was enjoyable, although in my imaginations of Beverly and Betty tea and toast diets (I am, for these six months, a geriatric medicine advanced trainee after all) I had always assumed it was plain toast straight out of the toaster that they were eating. I doubt you would get too malnourished if this croissant were your staple meal.

I don’t know how I feel about a place that only takes card, with a mandatory card surcharge for all payments. It feels like any mandatory, unavoidable surcharge should be built into the menu price from the start, but I guess the gods of the ACCC disagree with me. Pretty good food. Worth a visit.

20 Chapel St, Marrickville NSW 2204
(02) 9550 2772

Asian Fusion Fine Dining Indonesian Vietnamese

Sunda – Melbourne VIC Restaurant Review

I don’t know why it’s taken me 9 months to write this review. I don’t have any particularly good excuses, apart from the fact that we had eaten at so many places on our short trip to Melbourne that I had felt a little bit burnt out by all the reviewing, leaving it up to now, when I’ve run out of other things to procrastinate on, to do.

As it’s been nine months, this should not be considered a particularly comprehensive, or even useful piece of writing. It’s more just a few thoughts that I still remember pieced together from notes I jotted down during the meal, and some pictures to prove to myself in later years that I did indeed eat here on the 19th of April 2022.

We started the night with a number of snacks. Featured in the foreground here is oyster, coconut curry vinaigrette, shallot, pepperleaf, prepositions are of course not needed in high end cuisine. I enjoyed this deliciously creamy oyster, with its hint of curry flavouring. One of many creamy oysters we had that trip.

The next snack to discuss is this cracker of carrot, macadamia satay, sunflower, kakadu plum, with a good crispiness and a flavour that I think reminded us of tom yum, unless that was about the oysters.

The caramelised trout, green mango, muntries, prawn cracker was strongly reminiscent of the classic Chinese canned fish known as fried dace with black beans, commonly made by Nanmen Bridge company and sold in a yellow and red oval tin.

The ‘otak otak’, spanner crab curry, finger lime, rice crisp was yummy, and even though there was plenty of curry it was still easy to appreciate the sweetness and crabbiness of the crab.

The buttermilk roti, Sunda’s vegemite curry, a lauded secret item that you have to know about to order as a $20 supplement really wasn’t all that. The roti was very cripsy but hyper oily, but the flavour of the vegemite was at least pretty mild. We were advised that this was a must-not-miss at Sunda, but really I think you can miss it relatively safely. Not game changing.

This heirloom tomato, white sesame, davidson plum, pomelo salad was very fresh, so much so that I jotted down at the time “So fresh, hits of 2021” (I don’t know why specifically 2021, it was 2022 when I had this meal). There was a bit of a yellow curry-like (we found later that it was the white sesame curry paste) paste at the bottom of the tomatoes that had a night sweet and lightly spicy flavour., and some mouthfuls were a bit like white sugar on tomato, a common Northern Chinese snack dish.

The pork belly, rainforest tamarind, rhubarb, daikon radish was a pretty good entree. The meat was extremely tender, with the meat bits having great mouthfeel but unfortunately with too great a fat to lean pork ratio. The meat, “marinated with rainforest tamarind, coconut sugar and pomegranate molasses” as per Khanh Nguyen’s social media was very tangy, and in fact a bit too tangy for us. The lightly pickled daikon radish sheet, thin to the point of translucency, brought the tang back down a notch into mild enjoyability with a hint of sweetness.

The less good of our two mains was the bannockburn chicken, thai sausage, gai lan, bush apple. The gai lan was pretty good, cooked to a normal degree that you might find in any Chinese restaurant, not extraordinarily special. The chicken wrapped within it was moist and tender, delivered over the course of four or five separate slices, enough volume we thought. The Thai sausage had much ginger flavour. The bush apple went unnoticed. This was not an unreasonable main, but paled in comparison to our other choice.

Though people sing praises about their vegemite roti, I think Sunda’s true star dish is their koshihikari congee in a burnt onion broth with pickled cauliflower, confit egg yolk and paperbark oil. I’ve never enjoyed a congee as much in my entire life. This was such a warm and wholesome bowl, with a high degree of creaminess, soft delicate rice grains, and an almost potato mash-like soupy quality. The texture of the carbohydrate was creamy and the taste was mild, but the pool of broth surrounding it was absurd in its complex mix of sweet, salty, and sour flavours. The crispiness of the mushroom, cauliflower, and greens added great textural variation, whilst the opulent slow egg brought it all together with a third. Such a standout.

The gem lettuce, blood lime, shallot, nasturtium salad was truly an experience in whatever. Some of the leaves were a bit better, we did not enjoy. Unlike lilies, the nasturtium appear to be non-toxic to cats. Would you pay for your kitty to have dialysis?

I think this is the coconut sorbet with pineapple and kaffir lime granita, coconut jelly, desert lime jam, coconut yoghurt and sprinkled with candied green peppercorns. I didn’t love it – I think the pineapple was too pineapple for me.

The our take on pavlova, lychee, pandan, pepperberry was my preferred dessert, my more enjoyed part being the pepperberry ice cream. I am also fond of the Van Diemens Land Pepperberry & Leatherwood Honey ice cream that is available in tubs from some supermarkets though, and I did not think restaurant this was particularly superior. Neither of these two desserts really stood out.

We finished with petit fours, lamington pandan caneles with davidson plum. I am proud to announce that in the time between eating at Sunda and writing this review I now know how to pronounce “canelé” after being schooled by a guy at a bakery in Dulwich Hill NSW.

Quick verdict: We paid $130pp excluding drinks but including the vegemite roti, and I think it would be easy to recommend going back. We already had accommodation, and it would’ve been annoying to move between hotels, but when we ate at Sunda there was a promotion where you could book a night in hotel together with your meal for an extremely cheap price. Might be worth doing for Melbourne suburbanites looking for a nice South-East Asian fusion dinner.

Sunda Dining
18 Punch Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9654 8190


Sun Ming BBQ Restaurant – Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

Sun Ming’s been around in Parramatta for as long as I can remember, with my parents frequently buying shāo kǎo (烧烤) from this and nearby barbecue restaurants throughout my childhood. Though frequenting the BBQ counter, I had never been further inside the restaurant until now.

Complimentary soup was served with our meal. It was light and a bit sweet with a bit of pork bone, similar to many entree soups at larger Cantonese restaurants. I certainly wasn’t expecting this from a neighbourhood BBQ restaurant at 3PM in the afternoon, but it was a nice surprise.

This chicken congee was warm and delicious, with light flavours of chicken and ginger, and crispy fried wonton bits on top. I feel like I could drink one of Sung Ming’s congees every day – they just feel so wholesome.

While it’s not strictly against the law to have congee without Fried dough sticks – Yóu tiáo (油条 – $3.70), it’s definitely unwise to forego them if available. Sun Ming’s dough sticks are freshly fried, warm throughout, and crunchy on the outside with a softer inside, perfect for dipping into congee. Whilst nothing out of the ordinary, these sticks are special just for being ordinary – a perfect rendition of what they are meant to be.

I had my first taste of Fujian (Hokkein) Fried Rice as a child in the early 2000s, in a small Chinese diner in Burwood called Canton Noodle House. Since then, I have travelled the world trying Fujian Fried Rices from all over Sydney and Melbourne. Some have been better, many have been worse, and out of all of these Sun Ming’s ranks within the top tier. The fried rice component of the Fried Rice Fukkien Style ($17.80), as it is known at Sun Ming, is less fried than its counterparts across Sydney, more resembling a normal rice that has been tossed in oil. The size of the toppings is greater than what I’ve experienced elsewhere, with both vegetables and seafood coming in larger chunks rather than minestrone-sized pieces – a point of differentiation rather than a point of advantage or disadvantage. The toppings themselves were warm and full of umami flavours – not too heavily salted but salted just right to add flavour to the rice, and of adequate quantity that no grain of rice was left untopped and boring.

The beef brisket in hot pot ($18.80) was exactly as stated on the label. It is a more strongly flavoured dish, with a huge amount of nice, fatty beef brisket and wombok cabbage in a hot pot. It’s a bit too salty to eat on its own, but just perfect with rice, which is how it is designed to be eaten. I liked this very much – I only wish that there could’ve been an option to mix beef brisket and tofu within the same hot pot.

I’ve recently discovered that most BBQ meats from Chinese BBQ shops aren’t actually made on site, due to the significant difficulties in small spaces and therefore the significant advantages of economies of scale when it comes to roasting entire ducks and huge slabs of pigs. Whilst I can’t confirm where Sun Ming Parramatta gets their roast duck from, (or perhaps they actually do do it in house), I can confirm that it is very delicious, plump, juicy, and not too salty.

Char siu is char siu. There is generally a good mix of fatty and lean pieces.

I’ve always wondered what these sausages were, and it took the help of my girlfriend speaking in Cantonese to actually order a little bit to try. Though I still don’t know what they’re called (the English-speaking internet is divided on this topic – perhaps siu cheong), I can describe them for you in reasonably good detail. They are a thick sausage with a soft internal structure and a sweetness similar to that of cha siu or your standard dried lap cheong. The thickness and softness however give it much more presence in your mouth than just chewing a twiggy-stick-esque lap cheong, and while I enjoyed it by itself I think it would also be great with rice.

We went back. Of course we did.

The combination and bean curd in hot pot ($22) hit every single mark it was meant to, with a generous serving size, jam packed with fried soft tofu, beef, chicken, some prawns, vegetables, and roast pork belly. This is a universal classic dish that the restaurant pulled off with no problem.

I have been searching for a good Sang Tung Chicken (Shandong Chicken – $20) for what feels like many years now, and none has come as close to what I remember and enjoy as Sun Ming Parramatta’s. This chicken was crispy skinned on the outside whilst remaining moist on the inside, with a deliciously sour, sweet, and savoury sauce and topping of chillis, garlic and shallots. This was exactly what I was looking for.

The BBQ Pork and Roast Pork with Rice ($16) was sadly not as good at the end of the day as when we usually get takeaway from them, with only a limited portion of roast pork still available by around 8PM. I also didn’t love the char siu this time around, which I found to be more fatty but also with a bit of a porky aftertaste – not as good as what they usually have on offer.


Between stroke calls at the end of the day when essentially all other nearby restaurants had closed their kitchens I inhaled this Roast Pork and Soy Chicken with Noodles ($16), which wasn’t particularly spectacular (especially the noodle soup, I think rice might be a better option), but came with this excellent complimentary soup of the day.

This soup of the day, free, was unlike any other I’d ever had. Though the day was generally bad for me (7 stroke calls in a 24-hour period), the soup of the day was good, with a nice tomatoey and slightly spicy flavour. I liked it much more than the noodle soup that I actually paid for.

Sun Ming BBQ in Parramatta is a centre of excellence for authentic, well-priced Chinese food in the heart of Parramatta. They are my pick for Cantonese/Hong Kong BBQ meats over the nearby Mr Ping’s, which in my opinion is not as nice and also a bit more pricey. Recommend.

Sun Ming BBQ Parramatta
145-149 Church St, Parramatta NSW 2150
(02) 9689 2178


Dim Sim & More – Mascot NSW Restaurant Review

My partner recently spent $125 on very middling delivered Chinese food, locking me into eating it for the rest of the week.

I will put the same amount of effort into this review as they did cooking it.

Steamed Pork Shumai 猪肉烧卖 ($8.80). Not bad, a bit salty, and a bit dry. The addition of flying fish roe on top gave it a fun crunchy fish roe texture and fish flavour.

Steamed Vegetable Dumpling 韭菜鸡蛋蒸饺 ($7.80) is actually a chive and egg and vermicelli steamed vegetable dumpling. The flavours are quite light, with only a weak chive flavour. Not great but not bad.

Boiled Pork Dumpling 猪肉水饺 ($11.80) had a very meaty taste with strong pork flavour and good chive flavour also. Actually quite good, but she accidentally ordered two servings. (Why?)

Pan Fried Turnip Patty 香煎萝卜糕 ($7.80) had a bit of a too-greasy taste to it to enjoy.

Steamed Black Bean Pork Rib 豉汁蒸排骨 ($9.80) was actively bad. Overcooked, formless meat. The wrong flavour for black bean pork rib. Don’t get this if you’re expecting the yum cha classic. Actively bad.

The Pork and Preserved Egg Congee 皮蛋瘦肉粥 ($12.80) was actually quite good. It was very accurate to the Platonic ideal of a 皮蛋瘦肉粥, and for $12.80 they actually gave us two large takeaway boxes worth.

Most of the food from Dim Sum & More was quite disappointing.
I wouldn’t recommend it to even a casual acquaintance.

Dim Sum & More
Shop 2, 8 Bourke Street, Mascot NSW


Hungry Paulie 愛呷囝仔 – Eastwood NSW Restaurant Review

Tucked away on Trelawney St on the Chinese side of Eastwood is Hungry Paulie, purveyor or fine Taiwanese breakfast foods.

The Traditional Egg Pancake with Fried Bread Stick (P15 台式蛋饼包油条 – $9.50) is similar to but not quite the same as the jianbing guozi (煎饼馃子) that I had in my childhood. Thin pancakes with a layer of egg omlette are wrapped around freshly fried yóutiáo, with a bit of very light soy flavoured dressing on top. The yóutiáo at Hungry Paulie are seriously good and well worth a mention, each hand-prepared on site from scratch by artisans working behind a glass window. I can recommend this.

My partner was a big fan of the Black Pepper Pork Pastry with Shallots (Paulie Pie) (P1 胡椒饼 – $6.50), which was essentially a large spherical pie with a huge amount of peppery beef steak filling. There is little in common between this meat pie and the classic Australian meat pie. The shape is almost spherical, with a more dough-reinforced base at the bottom and minimal crust up top. The filing is steak-dominated, with big chunks of chewable meat in a black-pepper rich semi-solid gravy. It was pretty good, and at $6.50 good value and worth a try.

My partner, keen on a dessert dish, ordered the hot Roasted Peanut Rice Milk (D2 – 花生米浆 – $4) This wasn’t quite what she expected. Rather than being a dessert, it was more of a staple meal, with quite a significant size and warmth to it. It had a distinctive peanut flavour and it wasn’t too sweet, but neither of us was a big fan of it. Perhaps it just wasn’t what we were looking for this morning.

The Taiwanese Anchovy Congee (C16 – 台式吻仔鱼粥 – $12) is a loose, wet congee flavoured with little dried anchovies. It is much looser than the congees of my childhood, though not to its detriment. The toppings of youtiao and fried wonton skins added a nice amount of crunch, but unfortunately the anchovy added only a slight almost-imperceptible umami flavour. Though this was a nicely warming bowl overall, I don’t think I really got much out of the anchovy flavouring. I think that if I were to come back I would get a more standard congee, like the one with preserved egg and pork, which is a known favourite.

The Braised Combo Noodle Soup (N6 – 红烧手工牛肉三宝面 – $18.50) was ordered essentially because there was a portrait of it sitting in front of me at the bar seats. It was probably fine, but to be honest at this point in the meal we were a bit too full to enjoy anything properly. The noodles had a slight mala flavour, which I normally don’t mind (and even enjoy) but didn’t appeal to me today. It was packed with protein of multiple bovine sources – muscle, tendon, rumen, and probably some reticulum too. Whilst I enjoyed the muscle, I could only bring myself to nibble on the other beef parts – I think it really is a dish best ordered hungry. The noodles were otherwise good, and the baby bok choy was very tender and sweet. I feel like I disappointed this dish, not the other way around.

The Savoury Rice Pudding (T1 – 碗粿 – $7) was a creamy, almost radish-cakey lump of starch in a bowl of gravy and mince. It was tasty and good, though I’m still not really sure what was inside

We re-visited Hungry Paulie around 7 months later, under a cloud of general malaise (short-lived, and well worth the extra protection) following the third dose of a COVID vaccine.

The Soy Bean Jelly with Sweet Soft Peanut (花生甜豆花 – $5.50) was like a wet, loose dou fu nao. There was less tofu than I would’ve liked, but I felt it was still adequately soft and silky, suspended in this soy milk soup. My partner, in a moment of surprisingly conviction, said that she thought that the tofu in this was still not as silky as what she gets at yum cha.

The Braised Soy Egg (滷蛋 – $2.50) was a soy egg, cut into quarters, and presented with a bit of garlic and chilli sauce. While there were no surprises with the egg itself, the addition of sauce was completely unexpected, as was the addition of shallots and lettuce. The sauce was ultimately quite tasty, and added to the experience. It’s interesting that there is a price differential between ordering this in the restaurant and via an online ordering app. It appears to be cheaper delivered, which is just strange.

The Fried Radish Cake in Garlic Sauce Dressing ($5.50) was unexpectedly enjoyable. I’m normally not a believer in the radish cakes, but this one had me surprised. The outer layers were crispily fried, whilst the gooey inner layer was only modestly thick and barely noticeable. These radish cakes were drenched in a similar sauce to the eggs, which was very valuable to adding flavour. I think that with optimal frying dimensions and garlic sauce dressing these radish cakes were able to be enjoyed even by the non radish cake lover.

The Traditional Shallots Pancake with Braised Beef (牛肉捲餅 – $11.50) was not as good as the egg pancake, and not as good as I hoped. The actual pancake itself was stellar – thin, hot, and crispy, and with good shallot flavour. What was unfortunate was the filling that the shallot was wrapped around – a huge mass of lettuce, with a small amount of dressing and some cold braised beef. I think some warmth on the beef would’ve gone a long way, and it was certainly not helped by the mass of cold, internally wet lettuce. They really need to rethink this one.

The Taiwanese Pork Thick Soup with Bamboo and added Rice (嘉義赤肉羹 – $17) was quite enjoyable. It had a quality similar to a hot and sour soup, with plenty of white pepper flavour as well as something similar to bonito flake on top. It was thickened, with a reasonable amount of meat, bamboo, and mushrooms for the price. We were almost going to riot for not getting our rice, until we realised it was actually hidden inside the soup. So it was essentially a kind of congee.

This Wintermelon Iced Tea ($3.50) was super fresh, a bit sweet but not too sweet, and quite importantly, cheap. It makes a joke out of Hong Kong Bing Sutt charging $7 for a (delicious) iced milk tea.

I quite liked Hungry Paulie, and I’d like to take my parents to the Mascot branch once they feel safe enough from a COVID-19 to leave the house. There are plenty of things that I remember from my childhood on offer at Hungry Paulie that I think they would enjoy.

Hungry Paulie 愛呷囝仔 Eastwood
Shop 3/3-5 Trelawney St, Eastwood NSW 2122
0411 660 866