Pho PHD, Marrickville, Sydney Inner West

Another trip to Marrickville means another obligatory post about pho! In addition to my many visits to the Vietnamese eateries in Marrickville (see previous posts via the search function above) here is one about one of the stalwarts of the pho scene.

PHD is one of the eateries that have been around for quite a while. They were super popular and now have 2 branches both in Marrickville - one on Marrickville road and the other on Illawarra road. The menus are the same but if one is full you can try your luck at the other.

This time we went to the Marrickville road branch for an early lunch. Not too many people here so we could choose where we sat. Unfortunately no complimentary tea here but there is table water.

Pork spring rolls - $11 - for starters we got the classic spring roll. Pork mince and vegies wrapped in crisp pastry deep fried to perfection. Crunchy and piping hot when brought to the table the tangy sauce went very well as an accompaniment.

Pho Tai - Beef pho -$12 - the pho here comes in 3 sizes - regular, medium and large. With prices ranging from $12 to a whopping $19. We got the regulars which actually wasn't too small in size. Plenty of beef slices but just a bit lacking in the noodle department. The soup was bit on the sweeter side but packed with real beef flavour. As you can see from the photo, the soup is a bit oily. 

Complimentary beansprouts, basil and lime.

Pho Phd Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Penang Hawker, Campsie, Sydney Inner West

There's a few Malaysian restaurants in Campsie these days. Our usual go - to is Ablees kitchen, but more recently we have ventured out to try a few others. Located a few doors down from Ablees, the newest one is Penang Hawker, which specialises in Penang cuisine with the decor to match.

It was busy but we were happy to share a table and so get a seat relatively quickly. Service is quick and attentive.

Lam Yu Pai Guat -$18.80 - a deep fried pork rib dish. Had some nice aroma to it but the meat I found a bit tough.

Sambal Lala (pipies) -$15.80 - Apologies for the shocking photo but this dish was pretty good. Only downside was that the pipies weren't live and were a bit small. But can't complain at this price.

Lor Mee - $11.80 - a classic malaysian dish of thick noodles in an even thicker broth. Pork mince and chinese vegies are underneath as well as egg. Add a bit of vinegar to add some bite to the dish.

Not a bad restaurant but I think I still prefer Albees.

  Penang Hawker Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Irvins salted egg potato chips, Singapore

A family friend recently came to visit us from Singapore and brought over some souvenirs. Now normally I'm not a big fan of souvenirs but in this case it was food related and I was intrigued!

She had brought over the latest food fad in Singapore which was salted duck egg potato chips! Omggggg..... I cannot believe someone actually made this! For those who haven't heard of this flavour, it's basically a type of flavouring which is used in Singaporean and Malaysian cooking - primarily in cooking seafood such as crab and prawns.

The flavours are super addictive and is like a salty eggy taste which is hard to explain. It is definitely an acquired taste though as not everyone that tried them liked them. But in Singapore at the moment they are a huge hit with this company basically specializing in just this product and people lining up en masse to buy them - in some places it is literally sold out. Retailing at around $8 AUD it is not an easy feat to gain such a strong following.

The packet below - you can see the warning label - "Dangerously addictive" - it should probably also read "Dangerously bad for people with cholesterol problems" lol

Other information at the back - interestingly no nutritional information.

Now I failed to take a photo whilst I was eating them so I had to resort to a stock photo below. The chips int he packet basically look like this. The chips are thinly sliced and include some of the deep fried curry leaves that you get in the usual salted egg dishes. The flavour is very rich and salty but with also a creaminess to it. It is very hard to explain. The are very flavoursome and some find the taste to be overpowering. You probably couldn't eat a whole pack in one seating without something to cut through that oiliness.

But overall an amazing chip flavour - if you're coming back from Singapore - feel free to send a pack my way!

Anatolia, Sydney Inner West, Clemton Park

Clemton Park has undergone a bit of gentrification in recent years with a huge residential complex having popped up complete with its own Coles and shopping and restaurant precinct. One of these restaurants - Anatolia - is where we decided to grab a bite to eat for lunch.

Plenty of seating inside the restaurant and you can dine in or takeaway. Order at the counter and away you go. We decided to eat in which I think has the same menu as takeaway but is a bit more expensive probably due to the service.

Beef and Spinach gozleme - ~$15 - served on a wooden chopping board this large sized gozleme was freshly made to order. The dough light and flufy and the ingredients flavoursome and fresh. Much better than those you get at the local market stalls.

Mixed doner plate with chicken and beef - $22 - I love how with middle eastern food there is such a vibrancy of colours on the plate. Here the meat from the kebab is well marinated and served on a bed of steamed rice. There is also a side of homemade flatbread which you can use to make your own little kebab wraps.

The salads provided include: shredded carrot, pickled cabbage, tabouli, tomato salsa, a green chili and a grilled tomato.

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

Captain's Grill, St George Motor Boat Club, San Souci

On the waters of San Souci lies the St George Motor Boat Club. Very popular with the locals and a pretty cool place to hang by the water and enjoy a feed with family and friends. Just be sure to get in early or you'll have to park a few streets away and walk down.

Prawn spaghetti with chili, zuchini and shallots - ~$20- prawns were fresh but could have been more of (think there were only 6), though were of decent size. Plenty of pasta so would fill you up. Taste is nice with a real kick of chili coming through.

Chicken parmy - ~$19 - a classic winter warmer here. Bolgonese sauce, cheesy top, crispy chicken schnitzel on a bed of hot chips. Garden salad on the side. Chips were amazingly crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside and just a dusting of salt to season.

The Captain's Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


McDonalds, Chicken Big Mac, Various locations

I've loved McChickens ever since I was little and was a picky eating avoiding eating beef whenever I could. At Maccers I found solstice in the McChicken and the Filet'o'Fish which became my staple burger meals whenever I frequented Maccers.

So when they launched their latest creation - the McChicken Big Mac, I knew I just had to try it. The day it was launched I raced down at lunctime and jumped to the nearest Maccers - this was the Martin Place branch. Surprisingly the placed was packed and I could see I wasn't the only one going for the new burger.

I lined up patiently in the queue and ordered my medium McChicken meal. I don't remember the price but it wasn't particularly cheap. 

As with all Maccers products, the marketing images are never what the burger actually looks like. Why are there random chilies in the back of the photo??

The great chicken big mac - 2 pieces of chicken, iceberg lettuce, standard cheese, onions, pickles and big mac sauce. Sitting in the box. Size wise it was decent enough - people with small mouths may struggle to take a proper full bite of the burger.

Taking it out of the box you can see the stark difference to the marketing photo, lol. Luckily we all know to expect this and so it wasn't disappointing. 

The verdict? The 2 chicken patties were the highlights - piping hot and lightly seasoned, fried to a nice thin crispiness on the outside, flesh still relatively moist on the inside. Not totally convinced on the overall taste though as I felt with the cheese and the Big Mac sauce it tasted a bit heavy compared to the usual McChicken ingredients. Might stick to my McChicken with extra pattie going forward.

Worth trying though!
McDonald's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saigon Bowl, Strathfield, Sydney Inner West

I haven't been to Saigon Bowl for a while but stopped by recently for a late lunch. The prices here a tad more expensive than others but the taste is still top notch.

Beef pho regular size ($12.50) - fresh cuts of rare beef, onions, coriander with slippery smooth noodles. The broth is hot and flavoursome with mouthwatering beef flavour.

The usual accompaniments

Saigon Bowl Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Lucky, Riverwood, Sydney West

For a special occasion we decided to try a local place we recently walked past when we were eating pho in Riverwood (Song Huong - great pho!) and noticed that it was pretty packed at dinner time.

On the outside it's a pretty unassuming Chinese restaurant but the popularity of it speaks for itself.
We rocked up early on a Friday evening to beat the crowds. Ordering was relatively easy but it definitely helps if you go with some Chinese speakers/readers as some dishes seemed to be on the Chinese menu only.

Along with the complimentary peanuts, we also received a complimentary soup which was pork bones and seaweed. Not everyone's cup of team but was tasty enough.

Peking style pork - sweet and sticky chunks of pork pieces with a few pieces of pineapple to add some tartness to the dish. The pork meat was a good balance of being not too fatty but not to lean also.

Medley of mushrooms and tofu - most tables seemed to be getting this dish which had a combination of a number of mushrooms including shiitake, oyster, porcini amongst others, but notably no enoki.

Deep fried barramundi cooked with bitter melon, chinese roast pork and bean curd. Quite a rustic Chinese dish with flavours that you would expect if you were in Asia. The roast pork pieces add that extra dimension on flavour.

The house special - a stir fried mixture of dried giant prawns, diced prawns, vegetable sprouts, bamboo shoots in an XO sauce. An awesome mix of flavours, quite heavy on the prawn taste with a hint of chili coming through from the sauce. The vegies had a refreshing crunch.

The Lucky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Castle Hill RSL, Castle Hill, Sydney West

Over in the North West part of Sydney, there is a pretty cool RSL club. Castle Hill RSL is a huge complex full of the usual pokies etc but also is next to an aquatic centre and has a pretty neat outdoor courtyard area with outdoor seating, tables and a very friendly kids play area.

Perfect for a large gathering as the place is very spacious. Food is served at the indoor counters or at the smokehouse (a dedicated restaurant which serves smoked meats) where you make your order and they give you a number and then deliver to your table. Tables are first in first serve as they don't take reservations for the courtyard.

Buttermilk fried chicken burger - $19.50 (non-member price) - crispy fries accompany a burger overflowing with fried chicken. The chicken had a nice batter and was served with lettuce and slaw mix.

Salt and pepper squid - $16.50 (non-member price) - lightly battered squids flash fried to retain a softness to the flesh. Side of homemade aoili.

Special of the day - Whole grilled barramundi - Usually I'm too lazy to eat whole fish, but this was an exception. Beautifully grilled to a crisp skin on the outside and moist flesh on the inside. You can choose 2 sides for this dish and we went for chips and steamed vegies - healthy ;)

Courtyard Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Song Huong, Riverwood, Sydney West

It was once possible to find a decent pho for $10 (or under) around Sydney. These days, places where you can find this Vietnamese staple for a tenner are few and far between. Lucky for us, there is still Song Huong out towards the West striving to push our hard earned $10 to the max.

On the main strip of Riverwood, a short stroll from the train station is where Song Huong is located. Decor is minimalist but fairly well kept however, the vibe is always buzzing with people chowing down on a variety of Vietnamese dishes at lunch and dinner times. 

Here the best value option is the $10 pho which is quite a large bowl with the usual accompaniments of bean sprouts, basil and lemon. The broth is moreish with the beef flavour shining through. The star of the dish I have to admit is the beef here. 

I find the consistency of the beef in pho varying in quality greatly between restaurants with some providing stringy offcuts, others served with frozen beef pieces which are still stuck together and barely warm up even when kept under the broth. Here the beef generous is serving, super fresh, sliced thinly cooking in a flash in the hot broth. It's no wonder this place is so popular with the locals.

Beef and beef ball noodle soup - $11 - For an extra $1, you can get the noodles with beef balls as well.

The hidden goods under the noodles - what was once rare beef, know cooked to perfection :D

Song Huong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hurricanes, Brighton Le Sands, Sydney South

Back in the day, Hurricanes was exclusive to Bondi but over the years the mouth-watering rib focused restaurant has expanded to many other locations. One of these locations is in Brighton Le Sands. It is literally on the main street right off the beach and is the perfect location for a lazy lunch watching peoples on the beach or for a beach-side dinner enjoying the lapping of the waves. As with most Hurricanes, booking is a must as even at this location there are plenty of people wanting to get their fill of ribs.

We had a craving for ribs this day but wasn't starving so opted for a starter and a combo to share. Remember always ask for the complimentary house bread too as it is always fresh from the oven and is particularly good to mop up and leftover sauces from other dishes.

Salt and pepper prawns - $19 - we always go for the garlic prawns which are amazing so this time we went for something different. Big mistake. Whilst the prawns were cooked beautifully and rocket salad is one of my favorrites, the dish just lacked seasoning. Much prefer Asian style salt and pepper and will go back to garlic prawns in future.

Complimentary house bread - remember to ask for this as otherwise they won't serve it. Fresh from the oven, crusty on top and soft in the middle. Warm and served with Western star butter.

Steak and ribs combo - $49.60 (+ mushroom sauce $2.50) - it annoys me a bit that sauce costs extra as I'm a firm believer that steaks should always come with sauce. Here the steak is char-grilled to perfection and was a match made in heaven for the mushroom sauce and smokey BBQ ribs. You can choose lamb, beef or pork ribs, but after trying them all I think pork is the best. Don't be afraid to accept the offer of a bib from the waiter/waitress and get stuck in with you hands and fingers- its the only satisfying way to enjoy these babys.

Hurricane's Grill Brighton-Le-Sands Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sichuan Impression, Campsie, Sydney inner west

Something different on Beamish street, Campsie. Not sure if its a new place or if I've just never noticed it, but it is a Sichuan restaurant. Serving spicy Sichuan cuisine, it seems one of the key attractions is that you can BYO drinks with no corkage! There were plenty of tables taking advantage of this offer, bringing in icey cold six packs from the nearest bottle-O and chowing down on some fine Chinese cuisine. 

We didn't have alcohol so just enjoyed some tasty dishes.

Kung pao chicken - little morsels of chicken with a medley of vegetables and dried chilis and peppers. Not too spicy but enough there to be hot.

Fried beans with pork mince - probably not the healthiest bean dish as it is deep fried, haha, but it is super delicious. The pork mince provides the protein and a nice texture.

Spicy handmade wontons - plump parcels of prawn and pork wrapped in a silky smooth wonton pastry and soaked in a spicy sauce.


Sparrow Mill, Sydney CBD, Sydney

Can you believe after all these years of eating KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) I've actually never tried the Snow Cheese version?? Well that finally changed last Friday when we went to Sparrow Mill - famous for their fried chicken and two huge plates of chicken - one of which is the infamous snow cheese.

Snow cheese fried chicken (half serve) - $19 - I loved the dusting of cheese that was on top of the usual crispy fried chicken. The version at Sparrow Mill is extra crunchy and it's no wonder that there's always a huge queue outside. The cheese itself is more of a seasoning powder more than real cheese, but it just added that extra flavour kick to the chicken. Bit like hot and spicy KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) chicken compared to original recipe.

Fried chicken with shallots (half serve) - $19 - For whatever reason I can never turn down the stock standard fried chicken with shallots. Perhaps its the freshness of the shallots that cuts through the crispiness of the chicken or perhaps its because I feel like its the serve of vegetables that I should having with any meal, but whatever the reason, I went for it again here. And boy was it good!

The Sparrow's Mill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

China Lane, Sydney CBD, Sydney

A lot of people I know would dismiss the likes of China Lane and Mr Wong's as overpriced Chinese food which has been Westernized for the masses. Why pay for these restaurants when you could grab delicious Chinese dishes for half the price down in good old Chinatown? Well in my opinion, sometimes you want the tasty dishes but also a bit more of restaurant service. Meaning nice atmosphere, decor, service in addition to the food and this means having too fork out that little bit more. Sure, not likely something to enjoy all the time, but every now and then - why not.

China Lane for me ticks all those boxes. Hidden away in a laneway on Angel Place in the Sydney CBD, it can be very easy to miss it if you haven't been in the area before. The setting is cozy with dimmed lighting and some outdoor seating also. Service is great and the menu has plenty of variety.

For this occasion, we went with the easy option with the set menu for two for $62 person. This is plenty enough for two people but you can also order addition dishes a la carte if you like.

Prawn san choy bao - an amazing starter. Literally could have had 5 of these bad boys but there's only one each. Cool, crispy sheets of iceberg lettuce wrapped around a medley of ingredients including prawn pieces, green beans, mushrooms, shallots and water chestnut among others.

Crispy master stock pig's ears - One of my favourites here - crispy ears which are masterfully marinated to provide just the right amount of heat and flavour. Mixed with slices of cold cucumber and spring onion, a really good combo.

Togarashi cuttlefish - soft pieces of fresh cuttlefish, lightly dusted in batter. Chili powder and vinegar on the side as accompaniments.

Tamarind pork Shanghai salad - crunchy pork crackling tossed together with a number of salad components and Shanghai noodles.

Cone bay barramundi - steamed fresh fish fillets with a light tangy sauce. Still prefer the standard ginger, soy and shallot style steamed fish but this was not bad.

Wok fried Asian greens - A tad salty but otherwise a perfect side dish.

Soy braised crispy pork belly - The star attraction for the night. Pork belly is braised so that the fat literally melts in your mouth.

Coconut sago and black sticky rice - not that bad, but I would have preferred something a bit sweeter or something chocolately :P

China Lane Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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