My grandmother recently moved into a low level residential aged care facility in Bexley, and I took the opportunity to visit the nearby German Butchery after seeing her.
I had actually intended to buy some kind of German sausage for home, but overwhelmed by the wide selection of unfamiliar choices, I chose a Leberkaise roll ($6.95) with mustard and tomato served within a pretzel to have at the deli. They had run out of regular bread by the time of afternoon that I visited, and I paid a small $1.50 surcharge for it to be pretzefied.
The German meatloaf filling was juicy and peppery, though too salty for my taste. The pretzel was warm and very bagel-like in my unqualified opinion, and ultimately this was a affordable and unusual snack for my Asian-oriented palate.
German Butchery Deli & Café 1/2-6 Sarsfield Cct, Bexley North NSW 2207 (02) 9150 6402
Kosta’s Takeaway is a relatively new sandwich and juice shop located nestled at the front of a smash repair shop, along the automotive district of Rockdale’s West Botany Road. They offer a staple stable of classic sandwiches, as well as a frequently refreshed specials menu. I had two sandwiches at Kosta’s Takeaway – one a quite good fish sandwich (the special), and one a generally well received but not to my taste cold cut sandwich (the classic).
This quite delicious fish sandwich ($17) was a time-limited special, though judging from Kosta’s social media it seems to float in and out in various forms throughout the weeks and months. This particular iteration featured a 10-minute dry brined ling fillet, freshly deep fried with excellent textural attributes including a warm and crunchy outer crust and moist, flaky fish meat inside. The tartare sauce was tangy and creamy, and the pickled daikon radish brought a surprisingly bright and crunchy tartness to the sandwich. Even the iceberg lettuce, now a $20/kg luxury in April 2022, brought a much appreciated freshness to each bite. I thoroughly enjoyed this sandwich, so much so that I immediately sent a photo to my friend, colleague, and Filet-o-Fish® enthusiast CJP.
The Super Deli Panini ($14.50) is a different kettle of fish, and not my kind of fish. The fillings included a number of cold cuts (ham, sopressa, mortadella), graviera cheese, and some green and red mixture of marinated peppers, eggplant, spinach, fennel butter, and salsa verde . While I think this is probably a fine sandwich for the kind of sandwich-goer who likes this, I just didn’t really find the continental flavours appealing to me – a similar feeling to when I had A1 Canteen’s famed muffuletta two years ago when I first started this blog.
A RETURN, DECEMBER 2022
In true Pegfeeds fashion, this post is being updated prior to it even being published. We went back to Kosta’s Takeaway in December 2022 to try a few of their other offerings, as well as a repeat of the fish sandwich, which has now changed.
The fish sandwich, now $18 in December 2022, has evolved since our last meeting. It is now absolutely drenched in deliciously tangy dill and tartare sauce, which is now less thick but equally delicious. The batter is now lighter than it was before, while the ling fillet remains extremely moist and delicate. The bright pickle has disappeared and has been replaced by a slice of yellow ?American cheese, bringing this sandwich closer to the Platonic ideal of a Filet-o-Fish than it was before. Still good.
Continuing on this McDowell’s trend is the bifteki ($7), similar to a sausage and egg roll with a dry aged beef patty from The Whole Beast Butchery (I felt oddly intimidated by the specialtiness and also staff to consumer intimacy of it all when I went there, even more so than at Victor Churchill), cheese, egg, an spesh (read: similar to Big Mac) sauce. This was actually very tasty – a solid breakfast muffin with good flavours, but actually very much too salty for my liking. Because of that, I think the McLovin Muffin from Happyfield is the superior breakfast muffin of Sydney (at almost twice the price – absolutely no complaints about the value aspect of the bifteki).
This lamb conbab ($18) was also very good. I loved the crispy potato that you can see spread out in the open photo, that gave it a great texture in each mouthful. The second somewhat revolutionary thing about this roll is that the lamb kafta itself has been made into an incredibly thin pancake-like shape, so that it forms an entire layer over the inside of the bread. Again, this means that there is a bit of lamb with every bite, and that no bite is left without interest. The freshness of the pickled onions, tomato, and salad as well as the quite mild toum gave this very much a kebablike flavour, but fresher and less guilt-inducing. It is a shame, therefore, that this was also very salty overall, too salty even for me right now as someone with active COVID-19.
You can’t say that I’m biased because I thought that this poached chicken on schiacciata ($13.50) with fermented chilli ($1) was actually bomb, with just the right balance and level of flavours. The chicken was poached so softly and flavoured so lightly, while the texture of the bread was just amazing, so crispy and crunchy but with none of the oral mucosa cutting that you might get from a Vietnamese banh mi. The fermented chilli was not too spicy, but a good and worthwhile and probably essential addition. One of my cats stole a bit off my plate as I was eating, which left me with just one side of schiacciata and smashed avocado on top, and so I can confirm that this doubles well as smashed avo on toast.
The double choc iced chocolate ($8) I didn’t feel was worth taking a photo of. Pretty good, but I thought it was like $4. If I had known my partner had paid $8 for this I definitely would’ve photographed it and complained about it more.
THOUGHTS One of the best fish burgers I’ve ever had, and even if not all the flavours appeal to my East-Asian centric palate, this is definitely a place to watch.
Just a stone’s throw away from Slurp! Slurp! (our favourite Eastern suburbs dumpling restaurant to date) is Haven Specialty Coffee, a coffee roaster and cafe specialising in that all important Asian fusion brunch cuisine. We paid them a visit the morning after a particularly difficult ICU night shift for my partner – her first run ever without a more senior colleague on site.
I arrived early as my partner trudged through a prolonged Monday morning handover and enjoyed myself a standard large soy latte ($5.70). The price was significant, even for coffee that is presumably roasted on site. Not being much of a coffee connoisseur I thought that perhaps the first sip had a hint of prawn flavour, but subsequent sips were pretty uncontroversial.
The jackfruit ragu toastie with bacon ($20) was an expensive but loaded sandwich. I always forget what jackfruit is, so I ordered this sandwich expecting a guava-like sweetness which I thought would match well with a bit of salty bacon. It turns out that jackfruit, despite looking kind of tropical, is nothing like guava, not really sweet at all, but with an thicker, chewier, almost mushroom like chew and texture. The majority of the flavour of this toastie was thus a result of the hummus, which also donated a degree of stickiness to the mixture, and definitely added to by the bacon, which was thick cut and unusually expensive (a $5 supplement on top of the $15 base toastie). It would’ve been too mild without it, but ultimately well balanced.
Our other choice was the grilled broccolini salad with a piece of fried chicken ($25). It was actually not that dissimilar from the jackfruit toastie, it too being quite based in hummus and chickpea. At this point I’m not really sure why they’re billed as Asian fusion, as we certainly didn’t have much hummus at my house when I was growing up. This dish was ordered as it was felt to be a bit more wholesome than some of the other options on the menu, and indeed the broccolini, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, and random greenery were both tasty and likely relatively healthy. The $7 addition for a piece of fried chicken probably tipped the health-rating of this meal back into a state of badness, but further into the realm of goodness in terms of taste. The chicken freshly fried, juicy on the inside with a crispy batter on the outside. It was seasoned minimally but seasoned well, and really added a nice degree of substance and warmth to this otherwise vegan dish.
I begged my partner not to, but she grabbed a nutella choc chip cookie ($6) on the way out. It didn’t amaze or enthral. Not the best cookie going around, but I’ve essentially been spoiled by the S-tier cookies at Cafe Cre Asion and nothing has really done it for me since.
THOUGHTS We had a pretty good meal at Haven, even if we did manage to ruin their only two vegan dishes through the addition of meat. I’d like to come back at some point for their mini French toast with earl grey custard, which looks great.
Growing up Asian in Western Sydney and visiting only the highly-Asian establishments around the place I never really understood Ashfield as an “Inner-West” suburb. I think as the West has extended westward so has the inner-West, and places like Ashfield have transformed from a suburb of Asian grocery stores and Beijing roast duck restaurants to a suburb of cute little cafes with their own seasonal merch collection.
This pastrami sandwich ($16) was unusually priced but ultimately pretty good, I guess. The collection of flavours and textures with the overnight-cured pastrami, the crispy toasted and seeded bread, the mild Swiss cheese and the crisp sauerkraut was quite pleasant in the mouth, though not in the wallet. I feel like this would’ve been right on the money at $12, but $16 is a stretch.
A more substantial bowl at $22-ish, the roasted eggplant with halloumi was an oily mix of eggplant, walnut feta, and pomegranate, served with ciabatta. Though my partner did not like this uncharacteristically vegetarian choice, I found the mixture of flavours and textures (thanks, walnut) sufficient to maintain interest throughout the course of the meal. Pomegranate brightens up even the most eggplant everything.
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.
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.