The Tamaleria & Mexican Deli – Dulwich Hill NSW Restaurant Review

I always fear that my review for non-East Asian food might come across similarly to the reviews that I read of East Asian food written by non-Asians. Anyway, here goes.

This was my first time eating a tamale, and thus, rightfully or wrongly, will form the basis by which all subsequent tamales are judged. We had the chicken tamale with green mild sauce ($10). The closest thing in Chinese cuisine that I could compare this steamed maize-flour, banana-leaf wrapped edible to would be lo mai gai(糯米雞), though there are still many differences between the two. This particular tamale had a filling of shredded chicken breast (nicely moist), along with some mild flavouring of Mexican green tomatillo, green chilli, onion and coriander. It was overall less tasty than I would’ve expected, acting more as a base carb than as a full meal, and definitely benefiting from the provided spicy sauces (pictured below), compared to lo mai gai which has a lot of its own flavour and is not intended to be eaten with any sauce.

These pastor nachos ($17.50) were also not as I was expecting. Again I am sure that I will offend, given that Rosa Cienfuegos’ food is widely believed to be authentically Mexican and I am mere non-Mexican who has probably never had good Mexican food in his life. I personally found these nachos to be too creamy. Everything, from the guacamole to the nacho cheese to the sour cream was just very goopy and creamy. Perhaps how it is meant to be, and just not for me.

No complaints about these saudero tacos (3 for $17.50). Plenty of flavour when supplemented with the sauces pictured above. Enjoyable tortillas.

Honestly maybe my palate is so westernised by Tex-Mex that I actually can’t appreciate authentic Mexican food. I hate to be the guy who complaints that their dumplings had too many chives though, so please do take my negative commentary with this proviso. For what it’s worth, my partner had a great time.

The Tamaleria & Mexican Deli – Rosa Cienfuegos
463 Marrickville Rd, Dulwich Hill NSW 2203
0450 585 478

Asian Fusion Café

Benzin Cafe – Dural NSW Restaurant Review

  1. What are the main attractions at Benzin Cafe? (2 marks)
    People go to Benzin in Dural for one of two reasons. The most important reason, at least for me, is Benzin’s innovative and creative Asian-fusion food menu, cooked with flavours drawn from the owners’ and operators’ East and South East Asian heritage. The second reason, completely separate from the food, is the cafe’s prominence in the local car scene. The cafe is decorated with car parts and racing memorabilia, and for the time being even features a borrowed vintage 911 project car. The cafe also hosts regular cars and coffee mornings, and while both of these fall within my interests I am probably too shy to go to one of these with my stock miata.

2. What did you eat at Benzin Cafe? Would you recommend it? (6 marks)

We had the Brekky Tacos ($18), with pulled beef brisket in gochujang sauce, avocado, small cubes of roast potato, and tomato salsa with a whole perfectly not-too-fried egg in each corn tortilla. These tacos were absolutely packed with flavour and filling, with all elements generous for tortilla size but commensurate with price. The meat was well cooked, not at all dry or stringy, and the flavours were strong but not too strong. The fresh avocado and tomato salsa did well to balance the meatiness, though I wasn’t a big fan of the kind of sad looking low-turgor potato bits, and I didn’t really think they added anything of value to the dish. Overall these were very good tacos – better than though also more expensive than those at Vecino.

The Mushroom Tempura Bowl ($21) was also qutie good. The bowl features tempura mushroom and asparagus atop a bed of quinoa, avocado, cherry tomatoes, kale, corn, cucumber, and sweet potatoes. We optioned this dish with a piece of chicken katsu for an additional $5, though this made the dish worse rather than better. The chicken katsu was a very large piece of chicken breast (great value), however not very well crumbed and a bit overcooked. The rest of the bowl, with its tasty and moist tempura mushrooms bursting with umami flavour was very good. I can recommend this.

The Knefeh French Toast ($20) was a sweet dish that was above and beyond what we should’ve had for two people. Its constituent fruits were lovingly arranged into two symmetrical sides, pre-empting any potential hostility between my girlfriend and me. My favourite part of this dish was the crumble, which was dusted around the dish. The raspberry sorbet was quite good, and the fruits were just fine, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the actual knefeh French toast itself.

Gabriel Coffee is served, befitting the first man to summit Everest.

The Rendang Nachos ($19) were legitimately solid, if a bit sweet. They were priced well, and made for a full and hearty meal on my second visit to Benzin.

3. Would you recommend Benzin to a friend or colleague? (1 mark)
Yes. I can recommend Benzin to a friend or colleague. It is a leisurely 15 minute walk from the nearest MX-5 specialist mechanic.

Benzin Cafe
1/242 New Line Rd, Dural NSW 2158
(02) 9653 9370

Asian Fusion Korean Latin American

Vecino – Canterbury NSW Restaurant Review

It’s far too common to find Asian fusion cafes, particularly in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, owned by people with no cultural ties to the food being served, and it really warms my heart to see a Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant owned by Asians and run by both Korean and Spanish speaking waitresses, chefs, and carpenters.

Vecinos’s expansive menu features both classic breakfast favourites as well as their signature Korean-Mexican menu of Korean fried chicken, tacos, burritos and quesadillas. Set within a small space across the road from the neighbouring Woolworths (and free parking lot), Vecino features an unusual collection of steampunk or plumbing inspired furniture, apparently assembled in house by Vecino’s very multitalented crew.

We had a selection of tacos and Korean fried chicken for our midday meal.

My first delicious taco was the Baja Taco (2 for $14.50), filled with a battered fish fillet (of unknown species), cabbage, dill ranch sauce, pico de gallo, and lime juice with salsa and jalapeno. I had been craving a sashimi taco for some time, having been recently denied one at Osaka Trading Co by my friends who weren’t too fond on the idea, and while this was no sashimi taco it hit the spot perfectly. The fish was freshly fried and very crispy, with the mild sauces adding a creaminess and the salsa adding a freshness. This taco was simple to eat and a recommendable pleasure.

The Bulgogi Tacos (2 for $14.50) with marinated soy beef, cabbage slice, pico de gallo, teriyaki sauce, sour cream and guacamole with salsa and jalapeno sauce were a wet and delicious mess. After experiencing the sensible tastiness of the fish taco nothing could have prepared me for the deluge of sauces and delicious liquids that poured out of this taco as I bit into it. The beef was sweet but not overpoweringly so, with each bite a delicious fusion of familiar bulgogi flavours with the freshness of the salsa, guacamole, and lime juice. A really good fusion taco.

Unfortunately I think Vecino’s Honey Cream Prawn Tacos (2 for $14.80) didn’t quite meet the expectations by the previous two tacos. Each taco featured a number of small prawns in a very hard honey glaze-crust. Unfortunately this hard glaze made these particular tacos far more difficult to bite through, chew, and eat than the others. This, coupled with what I think is less interesting a flavour makes these tacos a pass from me.

We also had half a Salsa Picante Chicken, which is a fusion take on the usual Korean Fried Chicken, topped with salsa picante and salsa de mango. While I was initially a little hesitant, the sweet and spicy salsa flavours actually complimented the fried chicken very well. I also found the side cabbage to be better than most others, I think owing to the lighter flavours used in the dressing compared to most Korean restaurants. I thought the hot chips served with the chicken were quite good, likely triple-fried with an exterior batter, but ultimately completely unnecessary. I would’ve liked the opportunity to order the chicken without them rather than be locked into eating them and possibly missing out on other tasty menu items.

A perfectly adequate cappuccino was had in Grounds of Alexandria turquoise.

Vecino is Asian fusion done right in every sense. The combination of Mexican and Korean flavours provides an experience that can’t be had anywhere else in Sydney.

4.5/5 . About twice as good as Costas Arepa Bar.

Shop 1/1-3 Charles St, Canterbury NSW 2193
0456 416 749


Cafe Paci – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I have been having a lot of Japanese food recently, so the decision was made to change it up a bit. We took inspiration from some instagram foodies and decided to hit up Cafe Paci in Newtown for a rainy day lunch.

rye taco with ox tongue and sauerkraut ($10 ea)

First of all, we were totally upsold on this rye taco with ox tongue and sauerkraut ($10 ea). We had originally decided on sharing the one taco between the two of us, however with some nudging from our waitress I caved and we ended up spending $20 for 2. I really loved the warmth and soft texture of the sourdough tortilla, which was completely unexpected. The thinly sliced ox tongue mixed well with the sauerkraut flavour and cream, and overall the taco made a nice and warm and wholesome morsel. My partner however didn’t agree, didn’t like it very much, and thought that we could’ve done with only half each. She therefore lied when the waitress came back and was like, “see! I told you one wouldn’t have been enough!”

Chicken liver Paris-Brest, almond, w’ onion jam ($18)

This Chicken liver Paris-Brest, almond, w’ onion jam ($18) is probably the most photographed sandwich I’ve seen over the past weekend. It is basically a sandwich made of a huge volume of pate, and an overwhelming quantity of onion jam. The bread I enjoyed, and I also enjoyed the thick cut almonds atop it. The pate had a smooth mouthfeel and a strong flavour, however I felt the overall balance of the dish was upset as the quantity of the rich pate was far too great for the quantity of the bread. The Paris-Brest seems to be quite well received, so perhaps this is an issue of personal taste rather than of objective fact. I would’ve liked more bread.

Potato dumpling with XO trout ($26)

Next was the Potato dumpling with XO trout ($26). I am actually offended by this dish. In my language when someone says dumpling this generally involves a bit of pastry wrapped around a filling. Knowing this, I fully expected some kind of potato-based dumpling wrapper with an XO trout filling. What I got instead were GNOCCHI. Why not use the word gnocchi? How is the term “potato dumpling” more descriptive than “gnocchi”? What’s worse, the XO trout was actually just XO sauce MADE FROM trout. Again I fully expected a substantial quantity of fish.

To be honest though, getting past the initially disappointment of not really getting what was described and what I expected, the dish was not bad. My partner certainly enjoyed it a lot – she is a big fan of potato after all. The gnocchi was soft, sweet, sticky, and had a delicate and mild flavour. The XO sauce, seemingly made of trout but not containing much trout was quite good, tangy, and not as spicy as most XO sauces are. If I were to name this dish with a bit more integrity I would have called it “Gnocchi in XO sauce made with trout.”

This Mortadella ravioli with fermented chili butter ($26) was so delicious that it deserved two photos. The ravioli pasta itself was very al dente, something odd for me to enjoy as I usually prefer my pasta softer. The physical strength of the pasta was of course to protect the stronghold of flavour within. The ravioli, once bitten, releases a burst of chilli cheesiness that overwhelms the palate with umami. This was a truly delicious dish, and I wanted to mop up every last drop of the chili sauce. I did manage to stop myself from licking the plate.

Pain Perdue with cardamom caramel & vanilla ($15)

The Pain Perdue with cardamom caramel & vanilla ($15) is a piece of bread coated in a crispy caramelised outer surface, served with vanilla ice cream. It was quite sweet, but we enjoyed the contrast in flavour, warmth, and texture betwen the ice cream and the bread. It had a nice cardamom taste to it, however I probably wouldn’t get it again for $15.

Overall I had a pretty good time at Cafe Paci. The ravioli with fermented chilli butter and the ox tongue tortillas were definitely the standouts, the others were forgettable, and I would even go so far as to recommend avoiding the chicken liver Paris-Brest. They also had a $60 roasted whole duck which looked amazing on the table next to us. Perhaps we’d come back just for that.

3.5/5 (too many misses).

Cafe Paci
131 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9550 6196

Latin American

RICOS TACOs – Rosebery NSW Food Truck Review

There’s a lot of buzz going around about RICO’s TACOs, a food truck temporarily stationed outside of Messina Rosebery. While most of that buzz has been positive, I’m here to offer a different perspective.

The food truck experience is known to be distinctly different to the dining-in experience, however in my opinion the offerings of a food truck should be amenable not only to immediate consumption, but also a brief travel before consumption if desired.

The food served at RICOS TACOs is not suited for such a luxury. RICOS tacos are served on paper plates, the likes of which you can get 20 for a dollar at your local grocery store. The majority of their patrons use a few oil barrels strewn around the edge of the parking lot as tables, and when asked for some additional packaging to help me with the safe transport of my tacos all they could offer me was a couple of extra paper plates. It wouldn’t have killed them to be a bit more thoughtful and have some small takeaway boxes in stock.

I ordered two each of the beef birria and cauliflower tacos, and stored them in my car whilst I went to pick up pizza. They were out of the chorizo al pastor tacos by 8PM on a Saturday night. Unfortunately as I was doing so the taco sauce leaked onto my car seats. It was only with the friendly help of the folks at Da Mario that I was able to safely secure my tacos in a spare pizza box – I shudder to think what kind of mess they would have made in their delicate paper party plate positioning.

Beef birria taco (left), cauliflower taco (right)

The beef birria taco ($6) was uninspiring. The beef was minimally flavoured and quite chewy. Whilst there was quite a bit of salsa, the taco ultimately felt quite dry.

The cauliflower taco ($6) would be my pick of the two. Whilst I don’t normally go for vegetarian foods, The cauliflower was actually quite juicy, providing a much more interesting texture than overstewed beef. My partner preferred the beef taco over the cauliflower one, but she is not the one writing this blog.

The tortilla of both types of tacos were very corny.

Ultimately I think RICO’S TACOs were a disappointment. My multiple drives past the food truck and signs, as well as the sheer amount of press online led me to expect this meal to be a good one, rather than a boring one. I wouldn’t bother.

112 Rothschild Ave, Rosebery NSW 2018

Ricos Taco Truck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato