Categories
Café Chinese

Hong Kong Bing Sutt – Burwood NSW Restaurant Review

I watched Lucas Sin’s cha chaan teng video for VICE at least three times over the last few months of lockdown here in Sydney, and have had a hankering for some Hong Kong Cafe style food ever since. Luckily the Instagram algorithm saw it fit to serve me photos of Hong Kong Bing Sutt’s delicious looking beef noodle soup over the same period of time, and while I was unable to order takeaway via the app (as I am illiterate) I took myself and my Cantonese-speaking girlfriend over there the first chance I could.

Hong Kong Bing Sutt’s milk tea ($5.30) is extremely rich and dark, likely owing to the traditional method of brewing Hong Kong milk tea which undergoes multiple prolonged steeps through a silk stocking filter to ensure deep extraction. While this is only imagined (the brewing of the tea was not witnessed by me), the rich and smooth flavour of the tea was directly confirmed. While the hot version served at the restaurant comes unsweetened with some sugar on the side, HKBS also sells bottled versions of its chilled pre-sweetened milk tea for $7 a bottle, which are also pretty good, if pricey.

The Mixed Beef Noodle ($15.80) was what drew me in initially, and was actually pretty great in reality. It comes default with thin egg noodles, stewed beef brisket, beef tripe, beef tendon, and beef tendon balls, though many of these elements can be customised to taste. The beef brisket was represented by both fatty and less fatty pieces, all of which were rich tasting and cooked to an extreme degree of tenderness. There was no skimping on any of the other components, including the deep soy marinated tendon and tripe, and even shared between the two of us we felt like we each had enough. The soup was flavoured with chu hou paste, which is a traditional sauce for Cantonese style beef brisket, and nice and warming. The noodles were not extraordinary, rather acting as a mere vehicle for the rest of the very good bowl.

I wasn’t such a huge fan of the BBQ Pork and Over Easy Eggs with Rice ($16.80), but my partner loved it. I felt that the big slabs of char siu were actually not as flavoured as I am used to, which was fine, but didn’t help to carry the bulk of the rice underneath as well as I would have liked. The over easy egg was very well done, extremely soft and runny in the centre. It was only at the bottom of the rice that we found some soy sauce. I think ultimately this was a dish that would have been more suited to being served in a claypot with a bit of thick soy sauce on top, and the bowl format just didn’t work as well.

This rice noodle roll was fine, but too vegetarian for me. The rice noodles themselves were soft and not too oily, coated in a sauce of sesame seeds, hoisin, and probably peanut butter. The sauce wasn’t overpowering, but I just like my chang fen with a bit of prawn or meat in it.

The scrambled eggs and beef satay sandwich was pretty yum. This, the rice noodle roll, and the hot signature milk tea came to a combo total of $13.80, which is pretty decent. The satay beef was good, as was the very light and soft scrambled eggs. The bread was mostly de-crusted, although some edges still had a bit of unfortunate crust.

SECOND VISIT

These are the chicken wings in house made Swiss sauce ($8.80). I’ve recently been trying to lower my carb intake, so sadly many of the items on the menu at HKBS were mildly off limits to me on my second visit. The Swiss sauce in this dish is similar to the Swiss made stamp on my Chinese-made “Rolex” “Submariner”. More of an abstract vibe than a statement of origin, Swiss sauces are a purely Chinese based invention, a mixture of sugar, dark soy sauce, and shaoxing cooking wine. Classically boiled and shocked in an ice bath, these wings exhibited a good tender texture with a firm skin, however I must admit that after a couple of wings the strong shaoxing cooking wine flavour put me off having any more.

The beef brisket with special curry sauce and rice ($14.80) was a really good value, large meal of a classic Hong Kong style curry, big chunks of beef brisket, and potato served alongside a ball of rice. I appreciated that the curry and rice were served separately, minimising mess and also the desire to eat all of the rice. The beef brisket was tasty, though in my opinion could have been cooked to a higher degree of tenderness. The flavour of the curry was good overall, with the sauce highly compatible with the supplied rice.

The crispy pork belly with red beancurd sauce ($13.80) was really quite nice. The exterior batter is extremely crispy and made with fermented red bean curd (jiang dou fu 酱豆腐), which imparts a slightly salty, slightly sweet, and quite funky taste to the pork, almost similar to marmite pork ribs. The meat encased in the super crispy batter was moist, tender and fatty pork which tasted great on first eating, especially with the red sauce that neither my partner nor I could pinpoint as sweet-and-sour or sweet-chilli. Unfortunately as with many deep fried dishes this dish was a victim of entropy, and as our meal progressed on the loss of heat to the environment dulled its shine.

VERDICT
Overall I enjoyed, though I think charging $7 for a small bottle of milk tea is a bit absurd.

Hong Kong Bing Sutt
Shop 8/11-15 Deane St, Burwood NSW
(02) 8387 1820

Categories
Spanish

Del Punto – Randwick NSW Restaurant Review

Our party of six went to Del Punto one Thursday evening, looked at the a la carte and tasting menus, pulled out our phones and decided we could do better. Instead of $80 per person for dishes picked by the restaurant we calculated that we could either get one of every item on the menu, or multiples of the things we wanted (read: everything with meat, only one dish without meat) for cheaper. Our waitress’ eyes widened as we finished telling her our order. She told us that we ordered way too much food. John took it a a challenge and ordered some more.

This air conditioner was about as decorative as the flowers surrounding it. Throughout the entire meal we felt like we were working on a quick paced production line. The food kept coming and coming in such rapid succession, with no attention paid to the small geographical size of our table. There was just no way that we could eat so fast so as to clear the table for more dishes to come. It almost felt like they were trying to punish us for ordering so much. Like we were running a spring that had turned into a marathon. Like we were hamsters running on wheels that generated power for the neighbouring town, and we would fall and get churned into the mechanism of the wheel and get crushed if we faltered. Twice during the meal we did ask the kitchen for a pause. It was just too much.

We shared a carafe of Peach, Strawberry, and Mint Sangria ($33.50). It was very refreshing, though not as refreshing as the large quantities of water we drank from reused spirit bottles. The strong flavours of the meal, the close proximity in which we were sitting, the rapid pace of food delivery, and the weak air conditioning meant that our meal was a very warm and thirsty affair.

The duck crepes ($20.50 for 4 pieces) were quite nice. They were served drizzled in a plum sauce, kind of reminiscent of what you would get in a Chinese restaurant. They were however much meatier than their Chinese counterparts, and as the first dish of the night really did herald a very meaty meal overall.

The garlic prawns ($23.50) pan fried and served with “a hint of chilli and parsley” were pretty good. The prawns were large and juicy, and there were quite a few for the price and location. The hint of chilli and parsley were just hints, however. They were very much garlic prawns, as advertised.

The beef empanadas (4 for $19.50, 6 for $28.50) were pretty good. Freshly fried with a nice filling of beef brisket and caramelised onion. I quite enjoyed the freshness of the jalapeno and feta dipping sauce.

I thought the salt and pepper whitebait ($17.50) was a bit weak. They were quite oily and salty, which aside from being dangerous to the coronaries are also not great to taste. My colleagues thought that they were OK when matched with the aioli, but I think that if I were to ever come back I would skip it entirely.

The chicken skewers (4 for $17.50, 6 for $25.50) marinated in yoghurt, paprika & oregano were pretty good!. I think they were tenderloins but my colleagues thought they were cut up breast. Regardless of what part of the chicken they came from they were quite tender and moist. The bed of rocket on which the chicken was served was demolished by one of my colleagues keen to get in his daily fibre intake. Ultimately though I think it was a mistake to get them, as they also came included in the paella.

Del Punto’s Lamb skewers (4 for $25.50, 6 for $38.50) were also very good but quite expensive. The meat was marinated in chimichurri, and very tender and flavourful. The sweet potato crisps on top were superfluous though I’m sure someone enjoyed them.

The Plato de Baleares ($16.50) with grilled halloumi, asparagus and cherry tomato in a pomegranate reduction was delicious. The cherry tomatoes were extremely juicy and made for the perfect burst of flavour and freshness when popped in the mouth.

I enjoyed the Baby Octopus ($18.50), topped with basil oil, lemon and lime juices, pesto, and sun dried tomato. The flavours were well balanced, and the octopus tender. This is some of the best octopus I’ve had recently.

The Pork Belly ($28.50 for 4 pieces, $43.50 for 6 pieces), is one of Del Punto’s house specialties and a real delight. The pieces of pork are very large, thick, and juicy, served with its crispy skin intact. The shots of green apple and brandy sauce added a welcome dimension of tart freshness. I can recommend this dish.

The Prawn & Chorizo skewers (4 for $19.50, 6 for $30.50) were pretty good, with big juicy prawns and slices of chorizo. This was our second prawn dish and first chorizo dish. We would soon feel the weight of repeated ingredients.

The sea scallops (4 for $20.50, 6 for $30.50) with sliced morcilla blood sausage served on a bed of pea puree I could’ve gone without. The scallops were small and unimpressive, as were the flavours. I’ve certainly paid less for better scallop dishes.

The Tumbet ($17.50) – layers of potato, eggplant & grilled capsicum topped with fried tomato & garlic – was our only vegetarian dish and the biggest disappointment of the night. It was all a bit mushed together, with no contrasting textures or flavours to really define its different components.

Our second chorizo dish, aptly named Chorizo ($17.50) consisted of longitudinally sliced chorizo with zucchini ribbons. This chorizo dish did nothing to really set itself out from the chorizo in the prawn and chorizo skewers. A mistake.

Del Punto’s Paella (Mediana size – $65) is their other signature dish, and a stark reminder of why we shouldn’t have just ordered everything that looked yummy on the menu. Notable repeats of this dish included 6 chicken skewers that were identical to the previous 6 chicken skewers, as well as a bunch of chorizo and prawn. That aside, and even though I was absolutely full at this point, this paella was the best paella I’ve ever had. I loved the flavorful and moist rice, mixed in with diced chorizo and pipis. My friends were less impressed however, being more widely eaten in the Spanish cuisines. A few of them thought that the bottom of the paella wasn’t extra-crisped enough. I didn’t realise that was a criteria for judgement.

VERDICT
Overall we had a good but sweaty time at Del Punto.

Protips for dining at Del Punto include:

  • Avoid the set menu, just pick what you want. You will get more food for less money
  • If the waitress gives you an uneasy look and tells you you’ve ordred too much food, she probably knows better than your mate who has no stretch receptors in his stomach.
  • Make a special point to ask the kitchen to go slowly, and make sure to ask for pauses if you need. Otherwise they will try to feed you all at once until you drown.
  • If you’re going to get the paella, don’t double or triple up by getting all its constituent ingredients as share plates.

4/5

Del Punto
40 St Pauls St, Randwick NSW 2031
(02) 9398 2027

Categories
Café

The Angry Gnome Espresso Bar – Rockdale NSW Restaurant Review

Tucked in an arcade near Rockdale’s train station is a cafe I would’ve completely missed were it not for the recommendation from a former colleague (now paediatric colleague) CK during a chance encounter at Brothers’ Kebab in Banksia one night.

I visited on a morning in January 2021, a few hours after reassuring a well young man who had been hit in the eye by a low velocity empty plastic water bottle in ED Fast Track.

I had the Gangster Benedict ($21), an eggs benedict gangstered up by the addition of five spice pork belly, served on Pepe Saya’s crumpets. While I think the benedict components of the meal – the Hollandaise sauce and particularly the poached eggs were solid, if I’m being honest I didn’t really feel that the five spiced pork belly really added a great deal. As a person of Chinese descent I have made, eaten, and loved a great deal of five spiced pork belly in my day, and compared to these historical porks the one at Angry Gnome didn’t quite cut the mustard. Despite this, a quite positive mention should be made to the texture and composition of the crumpets, which felt quite complex and premium.

I don’t know if these crumpets were made by Pepe or rather just made with his butter, but they are almost worth ordering on their own.

Doggo outside the restaurant.

The Angry Gnome Espresso Bar
495 Princes Hwy, Rockdale NSW 2216, Australia
0413 131 040

Categories
Asian Fusion Café Vietnamese

KINX Cafe – Bankstown NSW Restaurant Review

Kinx is an absolute gem of a cafe tucked away in the culinary wasteland of South West Sydney. Kinx’s creative Asian-fusion brunch menu exceeded all geographic expectations, and our visit instantly propelled Kinx to the top of our list of cafes we enjoy in Sydney.

The Pho Beef Ribs were the reason we drove half an hour to go to Kinx in the first place, and boy did they not disappoint. Our waiter suggested a half serve ($20) rather than a full serve, as the kitchen was running low on ribs and we hadn’t had the foresight of booking ahead for this magnetic weekend special. The beef ribs were extremely tender and were in the perfect sweet spot where they fell right off the bone but retained enough internal structure for a good mouthfeel. The pho marinade was true to specification, with a delicious herbal umami taste. The rice noodle cakes, lightly deep fried were absolutely delicious, crisp, and soaked up the saucy marinade well. My partner thought that they had a much more delicate flavour and mouthfeel than just plain old rice cakes, and thought that they emulated thin noodles very well. The small amount of salad with bean sprouts, pickles, chilli, coriander, and Thai Basil was fresh and delicious, cutting through the strong umami flavours of the meat. Overall an excellent dish that I hope all beef-eating readers of this blog can have the opportunity to try.

The All You Can Beef Rice Bowl ($16), was nice but very much overshadowed by the pho beef ribs. The rice bowl features a smoky soy rice, 63 degree egg, and a wagyu beef hamburg katsu patty in bulgogi sauce. Whilst I enjoyed the menchi katsu (the first I’ve found outside of Japan), I thought that the smoked flavour of the rice was a bit too strong, and not to my taste. The 63 degree egg was excellent as always, and the bulgogi sauce was a good pairing for the patty, but neither of us ended up keen enough to finish the rice on account of its smokiness.

The Mama’s Siu Mai was essentially vietnamese pork meatballs in a tomato based sauce, served with bread – a Vietnamese spin on what you would often find on the menu of an Italian restaurant. The meatballs were yummy, as was the sauce and bread, though I think if I’m being honest we could’ve done with only one of this dish or the smoked beef bowl. My partner also wanted to get chips, and I’m glad I said no.

We also rolled for a wild card on the expensive but delicious Taro Coffee ($8). It is a very thick iced drink, of mostly taro with a hint of coffee mixed in, topped with some mixed cereals. It is a special and different experience, and quite good to boot. Sweet but not too sweet, kind of like the taro milk tea of your childhood but all grown up.

The regular coffee is regular.

SECOND VISIT
We spaced out our second visit to around twelve months after our first, taking advantage of their seasonally updated menu as well as a chance to try their weekend special.

The weekend special was the Braised Beef Cheeks ($23) in bio kho sauce with potato puree, baked onion, charred enoki, and scallion oil. This was a surprisingly large dish for the price, which we ultimately found we could not finish. The beef cheek was incredibly tender, and melted in the mouth without much need for chewing. The potato mash was rich and smooth, made in a French style. The sauce and the onions imparted a milder taste to this dish, which started off welcoming but towards the end became all a bit samey. I think that ultimately with such a large volume of food in a dish it can help to incorporate a few more flavours, and while we started eating these cheeks with enjoyment we just couldn’t finish it in the end.

Though the braised beef cheeks were a fumble in sameness, the Pork-E Pot ($21.50) was an absolute masterclass in variety. Arriving in three separate bowls in a wooden tray, each component of this meal had a refreshing and delicious uniqueness to it.

The claypot braised pork belly was sweet, rich and herby, with a melted egg tossed in for good measure.

The pickles, herb, and beansprout salad was extremely fresh and an excellent foil for the richer claypot pork and rice dishes, and the ginger and shallot atop the bowl of sticky rice was just a divine use of one of the best condiments from Chinese cooking., with these little buttery but crunchy bits of likely fried lard that just made the whole thing come together.

I just can’t say enough good things about this dish, and I hope that anyone reading this can find their way to Kinx to try it before it leaves their menu.

The girlfriend, now fiancée, enjoyed a very good soy matcha latte, with a small warning from our waitress that it was not very sweet and that we may not like it without sugar. We found the sweetness level perfect however with soy milk.

INTERIM THOUGHTS AFTER TWO VISITS
Wow. What a wonderful place. You owe it to yourself to pay them a visit once the southwest is liberated.

THIRD VISIT (Dinner)

We had the opportunity to have dinner at Kinx just as they started to field their dinner menu in August 2022, and thoroughly enjoyed everything they had.

The charsiu pork jowl skewer (3 for $18) with apple slaw was quite good. The fatty meat was soft and melted easily in the mouth, and though jowl is fattier than the leaner cuts of pork used in traditional char siu the fattiness was not at all overpowering. The marinade was again sweeter than your stock standard Chinese char siu but with an excellent charcoally smokiness which was evidence of excellent grilling. The apple slaw was crisp, fresh-tasting, and a good complement to the fatty pork.

The pulled pork & wagyu brisket pad kee mao ($26) with 63 degree egg, gailan, basil, and bean sprouts was excellent. There was a great sense of wok-hei, plentiful vegetables and tender and flavourful meat, though I must admit the fact that there were two different animals in this was lost on me during eating. The use of cheung fan (肠粉), rice noodle rolls (like the things you would fill with prawns or pork for steaming at yum cha) rather than your standard rice noodles was excellent, as these are much softer and more delicate, easily chewed and great for soaking up the chilli and basil flavours. I don’t understand why chángfěn isn’t used more for Thai noodle dishes. It’s not traditional, but it’s absolutely amazing. Kinx’s pad kee mao is my all time favourite pad kee mao, and by extension my all time favourite Thai style stir fried noodle.

My partner was a big fan of the ox tongue taco ($10 each) with salsa verde, pickled onion, herbs, and khao khua. She really enjoyed the “flavours” of it, though she couldn’t quite elaborate on why. Possibly it was the mixture of herbs and avocado that did it for her. The meat had a bit of texture to it as ox tongue is meant to, and it was overall a pleasing dish, though not extremely different like the last ox tongue taco we had at Cafe Paci. I liked the thoughtfulness of providing each taco with two tortillas, though I realised too late that the intention was probably so that each taco would turn into two tacos after consumption and loss of the original taco’s fillings onto the second one.

Finally, the Smoked and Fried Quail with Lime Pepper Dipping Sauce ($25). Not every part of every meal is always amazing, and their nightly special, the smoked and fried quail, was certainly not. Chicken and duck are by far my favourite fowls, and while I like to eat quail eggs, quail as a bird meat is not something that I really go for. That was not the problem with it. What I didn’t like about this was the completely unexpected and weird batter, which was not at all hinted at in the photo (see below). I guess that it makes sense that smoked and fried bird would have a bit of batter on it, but this pale thin batter with a smokiness that tickled the same neurons as staleness just really didn’t do it for me. I really wish that the batter hadn’t been a part of it, as the lime and pepper dipping sauce was actually really tasty, and would’ve gone well with just a regular bird. Not even peeling off the batter could make me feel better about this, and so we ended up having like one and a half pieces each and leaving the majority of the plate untouched. We didn’t even take it home. I could not see a future in which I wanted to eat it.

Compare expectations vs reality. My partner tried to tell them about our disappointment at the quail but she dropped her spaghetti in the worst possible way, and failed to use a compliment sandwich. I fear that my partner might have been a bit rude and I really hope they let us back. We loved every other component of our meal, and Kinx remains one of my top cafes and restaurants in all of Sydney. This quail does not make me want to go back any less, and I will continue to go back and recommend them to anyone who reads this blog.

Kinx Cafe
3/432 Chapel Rd, Bankstown NSW 2200
(02) 8772 5117

Categories
Asian Fusion Café Japanese

Cool Mac – Kirribilli NSW Cafe Review

As huge fans of Kurumac, my partner and I have been looking for an excuse to eat at Cool Mac for some time. We finally found ourselves on the fancy side of the bridge during our annual leave, and stopped at Cool Mac on the way to the zoo for a quick breakfast.

Service at Cool Mac was not as good or friendly as at its younger brother. Perhaps we didn’t fit in with the suited up business and government types that frequent Cool Mac, but we didn’t really feel like we were paid much attention. There was not really much table service. There was a menu printed outside the restaurant, and ordering was at the counter. This made it difficult as my working short term memory is apparently very poor. Payment was expected at time of ordering.

The Crumbed whiting, miso salmon, egg, pickles, cod roe, rice ($18) was the better dish of the two we had. I really enjoyed the crumbed whiting and egg, and thought that they went well with the preserved vegetables and rice. I did think, however, that the salmon was too overcooked and dry, and let the bowl down as a whole.

I had mixed but ultimately negative feelings about the pork belly, seaweed, coriander, soy broth, dry ramen ($17). While I enjoyed the flavour, the huge amount of coriander, and the noodles mixed in with the small quantity of soup, the headlining element – the pork belly – was a massive letdown. Similar to the salmon above, the pork was dry and tough.

The barley tea with huge ice cube ($4) was good, as was the large cappuccino ($4.80).

I’m ultimately quite disappointed by cool mac. We went in having high hopes after absolutely enjoying our time at Kurumac, but our none of the food we had at cool mac was very good.

3.5 eggs/5

Cool Mac
2/34 Burton St, Kirribilli NSW 2061
(02) 9955 3087