Categories
Asian Fusion Café Middle Eastern

Paramount Coffee Project – Surry Hills NSW Cafe Review

To their credit, Paramount Coffee Project is situated near some pretty adequate and convenient 2-hour ticketed street parking.

I’m not usually one to complain about poor service but Paramount Coffee Project takes the concept of not trying to a new level.

After a brief wait for a table (they don’t take reservations) my partner and I were led to a very small table, given a menu, and essentially left to our own devices. During the next fifteen minutes we exchanged anxious glances with the middle aged couple at the table next to us, wondering when or if our waiter would reappear to take our orders. There was a moment of slight absurdity and an empathetic look from the gentleman on the adjacent table when our waiter took their order, didn’t look at us, and returned leisurely to the mothership to process it before returning to us.

A further point of friction occurred as we ordered our meal. I asked our waiter if we could add an additional side to one of our dishes, and he told us he’d check. He never got back to us, leaving us in suspense until our food arrived. The aforementioned size of the tables became problematic not for us, but for our comrades in the PCP experience next door. Their very normal sized order of two mains were unable to fit on their very-small table. The waiter helpfully suggested that they lay their water jug and glasses on the floor as they ate.

I was initially not convinced by the Maple Iced Coffee with almond milk ($6.50) but it grew on me. It started off a bit too sour as almond coffees often do, but then the sweetness of the maple came in midway and add an interesting and nice dimension.

The Vanilla Malt Shake ($8.50) was expensive but quite tasty. The flavour was not too sweet, and the shake was really well aerated, as you can see in the photo. I would recommend this.

Ginseng Congee ($25)

Pictured here is the Ginseng congee ($25) with kale, fried enoki, soy egg, pickled ginger, furikake , with chilli ground pork, and brisket. The congee itself at its basest vegetarian state is $15, and an additional $4 was added for chilli ground pork and a further $6 for brisket. The brisket is originally on the menu as an add-on to Paramount Coffee Project’s bibimbap, but given we weren’t going to order both the congee and the bibimbap we thought it would be worthwhile to see if we could get the beef as an addon to this dish instead. When asked our waiter told us he wasn’t sure if this was possible but would check – something that he literally never closed the loop on. It wasn’t until the food physically arrived at our table that we knew what we would be getting.

I actually quite enjoyed the ginseng congee all loaded up. It had a nice heartwarming feel to it, and the flavours were not too strong (avoiding having too much of the pickled ginger). I quite enjoyed the strange addition of deep fried enoki, which is not something I’ve had before. The soy egg was yummy with the congee but I wish there had been more than half an egg for this $25 bowl. The chilli ground pork was a good accompaniment for the meal, while the wagyu brisket which did not really feel like wagyu disappointed. While a bit pricey I can definitely recommend this dish, perhaps with just the chilli pork mince. My partner didn’t really like this dish as she felt like she had to eat the pickled ginger.

Soft baked eggs

My partner’s (much weaker) choice was the baked eggs in habanero salsa, topped with blanched kale and garlic toast with LP’s pork sausage and housemade labneh ($23). It was a very sour dish thanks to both the salsa and the labneh that we ultimately didn’t finish. The only redeeming feature of this dish was LP’s reliably good smallgood. I wouldn’t recommend thsi one.

CONCLUSION
I didn’t really have a great time at Paramount Coffee Project, and I would recommend you spending your hard earned money and free time there either. While the congee is good, Sydney is full of good congees to try. Add PCP’s to the end of your list if you must.

2.5/5, actively bad service

Paramount Coffee Project
80 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9211 1122

The Paramount Coffee Project Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Categories
Café Japanese

Cafe Oratnek – Redfern NSW Restaurant Review

I first visited Cafe Oratnek in May 2020, before this blog existed. The height of the COVID-19 pandemic back in May meant that Oratnek was open for takeaway only at that time, and it was not until very recently that I had an opportunity to have an eat-in meal.

The main stars of the Oratnek menu are basically the same as that at its sister store Kentaro, a mere 1.2km away. The wisdom of opening two of essentially the same cafe within a 15 minute walk of each is, in my opinion, questionable, however both establishments seem to have a healthy amount of patronage. If I were in their shoes I would have rather done a North-South thing like Cool Mac and Kurumac (though there’s a lot of competition for Japanese food North of the bridge), or even have opened up the second store in an affluent, Asian-centric area like Eastwood or Strathfield.

There is plenty of outdoor seating for the COVID-paranoid, but the lack of cover over the courtyard of this terrace-style house means that the sun is very much blaring and angry. Something to be aware – you might want to wear sunscreen.

Port Katsu Sandwich

Oratnek’s pork katsu sandwich ($16) is essentially the same as Kentaro’s – a thick pork cutlet, lightly battered and deep fried for a juicy, tender outcome sandwiched between Japanese bread, cabbage, and mustard. Compared to Kentaro’s I think that Oratnek’s is not as oversauced and has more cabbage, but I’m not sure which one I prefer more. Both are delicious.

On my second visit to Oratnek I recommended the pork katsu sandwich, a known quantity, to my senior intensive care colleague and ordered myself the Salmon Rillettes & Legumes On Toast ($16.50). Unfortunately for me I didn’t really realise just how much legume would be involved. There was really only a smattering of salmon rillette, which in my opinion wasn’t quite enough for the thick toast. The sheer greenery and legumery was overpowering, and I found it a marathon to finish all of the crisp legumes provided to me. While some Japanese chefs may have earned the title “Legume Magician”, I would hesitate to offer this title to Oratnek based on what was presented here. Given the weighted composition of the dish I would more readily recommend it to a vegan rather than someone with no dietary restrictions.

Matcha Brownie

The matcha brownie is yum. A little bit bitter, sweet but not too sweet.

The mentaiko linguine ($22) I had back in May was the first time I had had mentaiko anything in Australia. The mentaiko topping was creamy, and enough to coat all the strands of pasta. I really enjoyed this dish, however after the past six months of tastemaker development I now consider this to be a bit overpriced. Cod roe is readily found at Asian grocery stores and isn’t that expensive.

The Kobe Hayashi Rice ($23) I didn’t really enjoy. It may very well have been the travel time, though the lukewarm onion beefiness was quite disappointing to me. Reasonable to try again fresh.

My partner enjoyed the Classic Omurice ($20 – no pictures) but hilariously told me that she didn’t think it was quite a classic, authentic omurice (not knowing the name of the dish).

VERDICT
Oratnek and Kentaro have the best pork katsu sandwiches I’ve ever had in Australia. In that sense they offer something special and are worth paying a visit to. A few of their other dishes are a bit hit and miss, but it’s likely that you will find something else you like in Oratnek’s diverse Japanese menu.

A recommendation. Bring a hat.

Cafe Oratnek
4 Pitt St, Redfern NSW 2016
(02) 8394 9550

Categories
Brazilian

Brazilian Flame Barbecue – Zetland NSW Restaurant Review

Though there are many meats that I have tasted and loved in my lifetime, I had not, until today, ever had Brazilian barbeque. I found my way to Flame Brazilian BBQ after picking up a cake from nearby Black Star, and having read some quite good reviews on google.com decided why not.

Brazilian Flame offers five types of meat in various formats – on chips, on salad, in a roll, with some rice. The meats available are as follows:
– Pork
– Beef
– Lamb
– Chicken
– Chorizo
I had read great reviews about the chips from some chip fanatic on Google (he called them dangerous) and decided stupidly that it would be safer to get two lots with chips than to get some with salad (mostly as I did not know how to order the salad).

I had the BBQ meat snack packs of chicken and lamb on chips and beef and pork on chips. I can rate the order of meat enjoyment in the order of :

  1. Chicken
  2. Pork
  3. Beef
  4. Lamb

All meats but the lamb were quite moist and juicy. The chicken was the best. The pork was fully cooked through, but the fat and skin content were still there. The beef was in between medium and well done. The lamb was a bit dry. I had to give chorizo a pass but would risk it over the known quantity of lamb or beef next time.

Eating at peak period for Sunday lunch meant that the meat was always freshly roasted and constantly turned over. Wait time was a mere five minutes.

The quality of the chips were overstated. Admittedly they were eaten following a ten minute commute, but really good chips can usually withstand such a short amount of time. These did not.

The smoked sauce on top was just fine, there could have been more of it.

We only managed to finish around half the chips and meat between, so for $16 there’s a lot of food packed into these boxes.

Final thoughts

Not bad not good, should’ve had salad. Very cheap though.

3.5/5

Brazilian Flame
565 Botany Rd, Zetland NSW 2017
(02) 9167 3994

Categories
Café Middle Eastern

Kepos Street Kitchen – Redfern NSW Cafe Review

Kepos Street Kitchen came highly recommended by a vegetarian colleague of ours. Naturally we went without him to share a meat-heavy meal before a swing at nearby Moore Park.

The Charred broccolini salad, shredded chicken, coarse burghul, herbs ($18) was delicious. As a group we are not the biggest fans of salad, but all members of our party ended up enjoying it. There is a surprisingly generous amount of chicken tucked in with all the greens and grains.

The Burrata cheese, Persian eggplant, pine nuts, volcanic salt ($22) was pretty good. The cheese was firm on the outside and less firm on the inside, as expected. The real star of this dish was the crusty, freshly toasted bread. Delicious.

The Grilled prawns, chermoula, grilled lemon ($27) came with five prawns. The prawns were quite large and tasty, and the lemon was too (though I was tricked by a colleague into an entire quarter of the lemon pictured in one mouthful by itself). I’m still trying to come to terms with paying $5.40 per prawn though.

Kepos meatball sub, coriander paste, grated haloumi, ciabatta ($18) was very good. Plenty of meat and red sauce on crusty warm bread. Very yum and a good serving of meat. A strong recommendation for this one.

The Arayes pita of wagyu mince seasoned with parsley, onion, olive oil, cumin and paprika, chili tomato salad, tahini, pita ($18) started off good, however quickly we found it to be too flavourful and too saucy. You will recognise this complaint of “too tasty” from many of my reviews, and in this case you can rest assured that this was a view that was held by the majority of our group. I would not recommend Kepos Street Kitchen’s Arayes pita.

Pictured here is a half serve of chips, which were provided complimentary as they had forgotten to make our chips. Even this half serving was quite a lot of chips. The chips were fresh and fluffy on the inside, with a cripsy exterior. They may just be the best hot chips I’ve had in a long long time. There’s definitely something special going on, owing perhaps to a proprietary cooking method. At $7 (for twice the chips listed) I would give them a go.

Overall

Pretty much everything we had hit the spot. I can recommend.

5/5

Kepos Street Kitchen
96 Kepos St, Redfern NSW 2016
(02) 9319 3919

Categories
Café Middle Eastern

Nineteen43 Bakehouse – Rockdale NSW Cafe Review

Nineteen43 is a Lebanese cafe in Rockdale, only a few minutes drive from my work. I visited for a quick breakfast after a night shift, and a takeaway meal to bring home to my partner.

Hummus & Lamb

The Hummus & Lamb ($18), with 12 hour slow cooked lamb shawarma shoulder served w/ Smokey paprika, burnt butter & pickled chillies with a side of fresh baked flat bread looked and sounded like it would be good.

The beautiful plating of lamb floating on a bed of red-sprinkled hummus was really quite appealing – it’s just unfortunate that the taste did not live up to what the eyes predicted. I found the meat to be way too overmarinated and oversalted. It was just too tasty. I had hoped that the hummus would provide some sort of reprieve from the oral salt bath that was the meat, however it itself was also quite tasty. The flat bread was fresh and actually quite delicious, but given the amount of salt in the meal the quantity of bread was just plainly inadequate.

Portuguese Tart

The Portuguese Tart was OK if you’re a fan of the big floppy ones. The filling was quite floppy inside, however I thought that the pastry was actually quite good.

Breakfast Pan

This is the takeaway version of the Breakfast Pan ($23), with two poached eggs, grilled haloumi, sujoq, garlic mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, crumbled feta, avocado and toasted sourdough.

I wonder if the dining-in version really is served in a pan, or merely a plate. I also wonder if the name indicates that all the ingredients were cooked in the same pan, but find that unlikely given that the eggs are poached. My partner quite enjoyed this. She liked basically all of the key components of the meal, barring the feta which she thought was a bit too baa for her. I also indulged in a few choice bites, and can safely say that this dish does not suffer from the sodium load issues of the hummus and lamb. I can recommend this one – a bit like a big breakfast.

Smoked Wagyu Kaak

I didn’t think I would go back to Nineteen43 after the eat-in dishes above, but given the buzz around their toasties/kaaks I thought I would give it a try. I’m glad I did. The Smoked Wagyu Kaak ($19, chips included) is actual wow. The thin slice of Jack’s Creek smoked wagyu was all that was needed to give the kaak a strong and delicious umami flavour. The pickles, slaw, and harissa mayonnaise added a great tanginess to the smoked wagyu kaak, one that I can still imagine on my tongue now. The chips that came with the smoked wagyu kaak were fresh shoestring fries, however I wonder if it can be ordered without them as the kaak stands well on its own without any need for additional carbs. I can definitely recommend this.

The Sujoq & Egg Kaak ($11, $14 pictured) with cream cheese, Sujoq (Middle Eastern Chorizo), Fetta shallots, & two fried eggs and the addition of halloumi ($3) was good but didn’t quite live up to the standard set by the Smoked Wagyu Kaak. I liked the taste of their sujoq, which I often don’t, and I thought that the addition of two eggs in this toastie was quite generous. The flavours were salty and eggy, just as a bacon and egg or chorizo and egg roll should be, however I found myself missing the zesty taste of the Wagyu Kaak’s pickles and slaw. I’d still recommend this – just not quite what I was looking for at the time.

Four Cheese Kaak with Pastrami and Tomato

The Four Cheese Kaak with Pastrami and Tomato ($14.50) was pretty good, but again not as good as the smoked wagyu kaak. I’ve never been a fan of cheese by itself, and I think that the tomato and pastrami were essential addons to the base four cheese. I would rate this above the egg and sujuk kaak just thanks to the freshness afforded by the addition of tomato. I wish I could add some smoked wagyu onto this so that I could have their smoked wagyu kaak for breakfast.

Lebanese chicken Foldover

The Lebanese chicken Foldover ($17) with Marinated free range chicken, slaw, Lebanese pickles, harissa mayonnaise dressing served w/ a side of French fries is a weaker offering than Nineteen43’s kaaks. While the kaaks offered a crispiness in the dough, this was not achieved by the bread wrapped around this foldover. The flavours erred towards the slightly-too-tasty side of things and reminded me of the first bad meal I had at Nineteen43, however thankfully this was tempered by the freshness of the Lebanese pickles. The chips in this dish were seasoned with a bit of spicy seasoning, as opposed to coming plain salted as they did with the wagyu kaak. Ultimately not a bad dish but not as good as the others on offer.

VERDICT

Would I come to Nineteen43 again? Yes- it is close enough to my work with enough unlimited parking in the council railway carkpark around the clock (there’s all day parking which was still available around 11:30AM, and also 15 minute parking suitable for takeaway). I would definitely warn any friends and colleagues away from the lamb and hummus (unless you’re on oral salt replacement – in which case eat away), but recommend the kaaks wholeheartedly.

4/5

Nineteen43 Cafe
7 Geeves Ave, Rockdale NSW 2216
(02) 9597 3595

Nineteen43 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato