Categories
Chinese

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.

VERDICT
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

Categories
Chinese

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.

VERDICT
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

Categories
Chinese

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

SUBSEQUENT VISIT
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.

VERDICT
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

Categories
Café Japanese

Kurumac – Marrickville NSW Cafe Review

Kurumac’s hanging basketball

Kurumac is one of the first Asian cafes I ever visited, and one of the ones that got me hooked on the concept. An inner-west spin off of Kirribilli’s cool mac, Kurumac delivers some of the best and only Japanese-focused breakfast and brunch in the city, with the added benefit of not having to rub shoulders with the sleazy political types that haunt its North Shore sister. While most Asian cafes do their best to fuse both Asian and Western flavours, Kurumac proudly serves a focused Japanese meal.

Assorted sashimi seafood, sushi rice, miso soup

The Assorted sashimi seafood, sushi rice, miso soup ($19 when eaten in June 2020, now sadly $25 in December 2020) is a revelation. It was the first and still one of the best sashimi bowls I’ve ever had. The top layer of salmon sashimi is lightly grilled and slightly sauced to perfection. The salmon roe is delicious and it is clear that they took effort to source some high quality produce. The scallops are sweet and fresh, as are the cooked prawns. The miso soup was the perfect accompaniment to the remaining rice at the end of the dish. While not mini in size, I would consider this a mini-version of Simulation Senpai’s Hoseki Bako, very high quality but missing some of the luxury elements.

Grilled samlon congee, salmon skin

The grilled salmon congee with crispy salmon skin ($17) was so good that we had it twice. The congee is warm and wholesome, with a nice serving of grilled salmon and a topping of delicious salmon roe and shallots. The grilled salmon provides a umami flavour that permeates the entire congee, while the crispy salmon skin on the side adds a delightful crunch with an additional burst of salt. The preserved vegetables on the side are more sweet than salty and thus help to add balance to the dish.

The Pickled mustard, Cod Roe Omlette, Rice, Tonjiru Pork and Veg Soup ($19) is the weakest of all of the dishes I’ve had at Kurumac. The top half of the egg was nice, but it wasn’t immediately obvious that the cod roe would be in discrete parcels of saltiness and spiciness rather than mixed in with the egg – this led to lost opportunities as it was quite a while into the dish that I found them. The soup of strong onion and radish taste was a bit too salty and tasted a bit too agricultural for me. I wouldn’t recommend this dish.

Spicy cod roe melt

The spicy cod roe melt ($12) is an expensive but delicious piece of toast with a huge amount of heavy, rich spicy mentai mayo on top. This was one of the dishes that rekindled my interest in cod roe, and I actually tried to recreate it at home to much less success. Not Kurumac’s healthiest dish, but well worth a try.

Japanese Style White Toast, Seaweed Butter

While the spicy cod roe melt is a heavy and decadent piece of bread, the Japanese Style White Toast with Seaweed Butter ($6) is much lighter. This is a simple dish of a very thick piece of toast (in my opinion it is too thick) and a small bowl of seaweed butter. The seaweed butter provides a nice umami flavour, but in my opinion is a bit too mild to enjoy with such a large quantity of bread, even when fully spread over the toast. This would suit individuals with a more delicate palate.

The seasonal milkshake ($9.50) changes with the season. Mine was a large kiwifruit milkshake made with gelato from Newtown’s Mapo (one of my favourite gelato stores). It is huge and expensive, served within the metal milkshake tumbler. I would recommend the Hojicha Milkshake, available for the same price, if available.

The Latte ($4) is just normal coffee.

The Matcha Latte ($4.50) is quite good, served in a nice little stone cup. It is not sweetened.

UPDATE APRIL 2022

Time moves on, and the chirashi bowl has again increased in price, now to the very premium $3X range in April 2022. I chose instead to have the nori ben ($25) this time around, a fish-based collection of crumbed yellowtail, fried mackerel, grilled salmon, two types of pickles, and nori on rice along with a small cup of miso soup. I really enjoyed this meal, though it was a little bit heavier compared to most of Kurumac’s menu. The crumbed yellowtail was nice, warm, and moist, and the battered mackerel had that nice sweet and sourness that is characteristic of the fish. The tartare sauce was a bit odd – really more of a mayonnaise in my opinion, with large chunks of egg white mixed in – but not bad. The two types of pickles were standouts in my opinion, and went great with the soft nori and bed of rice. It was in the end a bit much of the same to eat for one person even despite the high level of variety in the ingredients, and I only wish that my partner were with me eating rather than sleeping at home (it would be unfair to expect her to eat a meal only available after 11AM if she’s starting work at 7:30PM) so that I could’ve had half of two meals instead of one of one.

UPDATE OCTOBER 2022

Today’s seasonal milkshake ($10) is strawberry. Still made with Mapo’s unbeatable gelato, and still good though quite filling and probably stopped me from eating as much of the curry and mazesoba as I wanted.

The mazesoba ($25) was happily though surprisingly different and better than the dry ramen that we had at cool mac back in 2020. The pork in this case was chashu, which was happily a bit fattier and tastier than what I remember. The broth had a lightly spicy and overall umami taste, aided by a load of delicious and tender bamboo shoots, as well as nori, sesame seeds, coriander, and a soft egg. The noodles were al dente. Genuinely quite good.

The ox tongue curry ($40) was really quite expensive for a lunch at a cafe, but brought with it a reasonable serving size as well as quite good flavour. Contained within this bowl of thick non-spicy Japanese curry were huge 3-dimensional chunks of ox tongue, very tender but still with good texture, koshihikari rice, and happily bright pickles. On the side was a serving of mentaiko mashed potato (I could not appreciate the mentaiko) and a green salad with cherry tomatoes, foliage, and sprouts. The ratio of rice to curry and meat was perfect, and the flavour and texture of the beef was good, although I would think twice about the value and level of necessity of the sides, and if the dish as a whole would be cheaper and yet just as good without them. The chirashi bowl by this point in late-2022 is now $35, and I think if you’re getting lunch at Kurumac and you’re only able to get one item, it would still be my recommendation.

CONCLUSION

You may be able to tell that I really like Kurumac. It’s one of my favourite cafes in Sydney, and I expect that as time passes and their menu changes you will also see new items added to this review.

5/5 basukettobōru.

Kurumac
107 Addison Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204
(02) 8593 9449

Categories
Asian Fusion Café Chinese

Quick Brown Fox Eatery – Pyrmont NSW Café Review

There are few things I love more in a café than a competent all-day menu with Asian-fusion dishes. Quick Brown Fox Eatery in Pyrmont, owned and run by siblings with a menu designed by consulting chef/wizard Tomislav Martinovic, fits the bill perfectly.

Quick Brown Fox is set up in what feels a lot like a gingerbread house, with both internal and outdoor seating. The café was decorated with lots and lots of Christmas themed decorations (in early January), and had a board which read “364 days to Christmas” in storage at the back between the main café and the restrooms. I’ve typically put off trying out restaurants within the CBD on weekdays, however there is surprisingly plentiful two hour ticketed street parking located within a short walk, and if you’re having problems there’s also the nearby fish market parking at a reasonable price.

The Koshihikari Rice Congee ($24.50) with confit ocean trout ($9) was expensive and delicious. It was warm and wholesome, as all congees should be. The general flavour of the congee was mild, not overseasoned, however with a hint of unexpected ma and la added by the fermented chilli relish. We loved the familiar Asian tastes of coriander and enoki mushroom, though thought that the chilli fried egg was just a touch too fried and wonder if this already very good dish would have been even better with a slow egg instead (a la 3 Rōnin). The maple glazed bacon was so thick cut that it was basically pork belly at this point, though no complaints from us at all. I think it was probably too much to expect that a $9 piece of confit ocean trout would live up to the standard set by Tetsuya’s, though a hungry man can dream. It was fine though – the serving size was a bit small, but the taste, especially the additional umami and variety it added to the dish, was good. Overall a really great dish.

The Buttermilk Pancakes ($23.50) were my partner’s choice, and in my opinion the inferior choice. It consisted of a very generous serving of 4 buttermilk pancakes (although for $23.50 what is generous and what’s just to be expected?) topped with toffee, blackberries, salted pecan crumble and served with some passionfruit ice cream. The pancakes were adequately sour, and the toppings did not make the dish too sweet. I enjoyed the pecan crumble and the ice cream, which were in a league of their own compared to the rest of the ingredients. My partner thought that the toffee sauce tasted a bit stale, and while I could see what she meant I’m not certain that that wasn’t just the intended taste. Faced with a number of delicious looking and sounding savoury items I wouldn’t order this again.

My partner did indulge in a pretty standard Mimosa ($13) whilst I as the very responsible designated driver had a very good soy latte. Quick Brown Fox does offer bottomless mimosas for $30 per person for 90 minutes, or bottomless cocktails (bloody mary, aperol spritz, espresso martini) for $40 per person however we decided against this as my partner never really uses up her full allocation of alcoholic beverages.

VERDICT

Part time chef, part time wizard Tomislav Martinovic has essentially done it again with a beautiful menu of Asian-fusion delights, even better than at Three Williams. There are many more things I’d like to try at Quick Brown Fox and I can’t wait to go back.

Five tomislavs.

Quick Brown Fox Eatery
22 Union St, Pyrmont NSW 2009
(02) 9660 6345