The Counter Burger, Crows Nest

After a successful morning at the Kirribilli markets, what better way to finish off the day than to clog your arteries with some good ol' burgers and shakes?

The entrance to Counter Burger

The inside of the restaurant is a lot darker than I expected. There are television screens showing pay tv sports channels (I think?) and a combination of soft cushy chairs along the wall or tables and normal chairs.

There is a big counter in the middle of the restaurant. It has a halo of lights around it and appears to be where the cash register is located and where drinks are prepared.

You can see the counter in the distance

For those who don't know, Counter Burger allows you to build your own burger. Upon being seated, you are handed a small clipboard with a paper form to fill out. You choose your type of bread, cheese, fillings, meat etc. If you can't decide, they have some preset burgers.

The clipboard

They also have a small selection of drinks and sides.

I was dying to order the Apple Pie shake but they had run out! So I settled for the shake of the month - a Caramel Choc Chip Cookie shake.

A heady combination of vanilla ice cream mixed with caramel and chocolate chip cookies ($5.00)

It was deliciously thick, with chunks of cookies coming up the straw. Unfortunately, I could only finish half of it and the other people at my table were also only able to finish half of their shakes so I highly recommend sharing.

Check out that thickness!

Our table ordered some sides to share.

Fries with chili beef and cheese ($5.50)

These were disappointing. The beef wasn't spicy at all and was rather bland. The overall taste was of beans and the fries underneath became soggy from being underneath the mixture.

Half 'n' half fries - onion rings and french fries ($5.50)

It's a shame that this photo turned out so blurry because the onion rings were a definite winner. Lightly crumbed and fresh, they had a delicious flavor, even if they were a bit oily. The fries were decent and not soggy, which meant that we could dip them in the sauces that came with the sides.

Can't remember what these sauces were but they were quite nice...

Now for the burgers...

I chose a burger with a wholemeal bun, grilled chicken, imported swiss cheese, grilled onions, sprouts, mixed baby greens and beetroot with a garlic aioli sauce.

Here are some of the burgers that my friends ordered:

This one has the honey-cured bacon that is from the 'premium topping' selection that costs an extra $1.50 to add on. I couldn't really taste the 'honey' part of the bacon. It just tasted like normal bacon to me.

I recommend ordering the beef instead of chicken in your burger. The chicken is nothing to rave about but the beef has a lovely charred flavour to it.


Kagaya, Hurstville

There are only approximately three Japanese restaurants in Hurstville. And one of them is a sushi train, so I guess there's really only two. Kagaya is by far the most popular. There are a number of possible reasons why:

A. Lack of competition
B. Low prices

The bright 'Kagaya' sign

Due to its popularity, I was a bit worried about showing up on a Thursday night (late night shopping night!) during dinner rush hour without a reservation. But it seemed like Lady Luck was on our side because there was a free table for two!

The busy restaurant

There has also been a new addition since I last visited - a flatscreen TV! How Asian. Gotta love it. Especially since it meant that I got to see who was eliminated from Masterchef!

See Gary on the screen?

The staff are quite efficient and we were soon seated with menus.

Kagaya menu - cover

Sample page from the Kagaya menu

I have to admit, I always get the same thing whenever I come to Kagaya. And since this one thing is a set menu for two, it means convincing my dining companion to share with me. Luckily, it is such a good value meal that they find it hard to refuse. And besides, one wouldn't order the same thing every time if it wasn't good, right?

Kagaya has a number of set dinners which are reputed to be the best value choice from the menu. There are Eel dinners, Tempura dinners etc. My favourite is the Teriyaki Dinner Set, which is what we ordered tonight (again).

It is $35.80 for two people. And for that price, you receive the following:

Complimentary cold noodles (each)

Actually, you receive this no matter what you order. They are usually brought out to you as soon as you order. It is very fresh and clean tasting.

Hot green tea (and refills)

Miso soup (each)

Choice of agedashi tofu or chawan-mushi (each).

This is the chawan- mushi

Bowl of rice (each) - they are quite generous with the serving. I didn't finish my bowl.

Sorry about the teriyaki sauce marring the perfect white of the rice. I started eating before I remembered to take a photo. Oops.

Choice of sushi or sashimi (to share).

We chose the sashimi boat which includes salmon, tuna, kingfish and squid.

Closeup of the sashimi selection

Choice of Beef Tataki or Yakitori Chicken (to share).

We chose the Beef Tataki

I think this is my favourite item in the set. The Beef Tataki tastes really fresh and delicious when you mix it with the soy sauce and mayonnaise from the salad.

The salad that they use is cabbage, slice of tomato, cucumber and lemon with a dollop of mayonnaise.

Choice of Teriyaki Beef or Teriyaki Chicken (to share).

This is the Teriyaki Chicken

And finally for dessert, one scoop of green tea ice cream each!

The whole bowl is cold so I assume that they prescoop them and hold them in a big fridge until dinner time! I also think that they make it themselves. Sometimes it's been a bit runny, as though the ice cream hasn't had enough time to set but this time, it was nice and solid.

Green tea ice cream

I think that's pretty good for just under $18 each, don't you?

Kagaya on Urbanspoon

Ichi-ban Boshi, Sydney CBD

There is something that I need to say about Ichi-ban Boshi: I have never believed their 15 bowls per day BS about the tonkotsu ramen. And maybe, just maybe, they cottoned on to the fact that people didn't believe this, because how could it be possible to start serving their famous tonkotsu ramen from 11am in the morning, and then still be able to order a bowl in the afternoon?

So it seems that they have a new rule now: no tonkotsu ramen will be served until 1pm. But is it really 1pm?

The first time I discovered this new rule was in the morning and was told 1pm.

The next time, I went at 1pm and was told it wouldn't be ready until 1.30pm. We were far too hungry to wait until 1pm and decided to order something else. Some strangers came to share our table at 1.30pm and asked to order the tonkotsu ramen as well. The waitress babbled into her walkie talkie and gave them the bad news: it's not ready - 2.30pm.

Good thing we didn't decide to wait! Poor game, Ichi-ban, poor game indeed.

Lucky for them, the place is popular enough to get away with this kind of crap.

The menu
(click to enlarge)

The chopsticks and napkins were placed haphazardly on the table and it was up to you to set your own place.

The eating area is one of the good things about Ichi-ban. Light, bright and airy.

Here's a quick tip: there is often a line and you place yourself on the waiting list. There is also an option whether you're willing to share a table. Tick 'yes' because you'll inevitably get a seat faster. On this particular occasion, there were about ten people waiting and we skipped the queue completely because we were willing to share!

Okay, another thing that I've noticed is that their drinks sometimes take forever to arrive. The first time that I ate at Ichi-ban, I ordered a green tea cappucino. Our meals arrived, but the drink didn't. I realised that it never came and told them to cancel it. Instead, they rushed it out and gave it to me, thus forcing me to pay for it.

This time, my iced coffee didn't arrive. The difference was, this time I was quite thirsty. So I asked them where it was and about ten minutes, later, it arrived. I've never had an iced coffee with ice cream in a short glass before. Is it even meant to be served in a short glass? Because if you look at the photo closely, you'll see that it has a pool of iced coffee at the bottom of the glass. That's because the waitress spilled it on the floor and on the table - because it was overflowing! Grrrr

Iced coffee with ice cream- $5.50
Served with sugar water

Melon Float ($5.50)

Their ramen is good though. That is why I come here.

Karaage ramen - $10.90
(ramen with karaage chicken on top)

Tantanmen - $12 something?

Ichi-ban Boshi is located outside Kinokunya in the Galleries Victoria.


Fish ice cream

Check this out! I can't remember how much it was, but I think about the $2 mark. And it was from the ice cream tub outside Thai-Kee IGA supermarket in Market City

It's some sort of red bean ice cream on the inside. Look at the detail on that fish!

I also don't know what it tastes like because my friend ate it all. But it looked sort of red beany and icy.


Thai 1st Time, Beverly Hills

I don't understand why I don't come here more often. Oh wait, that's right. I can hardly ever find people to go with!

Thai 1st Time is located on the busy King Georges Road restaurant strip of Beverly Hills. It has survived the tough restaurant trade since it first opened, despite the fact that on weeknights, it only ever appears to have a few tables in the house.

The empty tables and chairs

It's a dilemma. I want them to be more successful because it is a funky little place but I don't want too many people to find out about it because I like never having to make a reservation.

One of my favorite things is the seating. They have tables and chairs, but they also have booths with soft cushions on them. The booths line against the wall with glowing elephants and paintings on the wall.

The menu is another high point. Prices are very reasonable, mostly around the $10 - $15 range and there is a fair selection for entrees, mains and desserts.

Thai 1st time menu

On this particular night, we started off with stuffed chicken wings as an entreƩ.

Stuffed chicken wings (2) - $6.60
Wings stuffed with vermicelli, deep fried served with sweet chili sauce

The inside of the chicken wing i.e. the stuffing

When we ordered the wings, the waitress informed us that they would take a bit longer to make. That made me curious - were they freshly stuffed? In any case, it doesn't matter since I probably wouldn't order them again. The smell was quite enticing - like KFC. The bone had been removed from the wing and it was bulging with a combination of vermicelli and chinese mushrooms. I think the stuffing just needed to have a bit more flavour for it to be a winning dish.

Jasmine rice (Pot for 2-3 people) - $5.50

The pot of rice is quite generous and you can have several servings out of that small pot. We definitely needed the rice because we also ordered:

Massaman Curry with beef - $10.90
An aromatic beef curry cooked with coconut milk, potatoes and peanuts

Some of you may recall my scathing review of Satang Thai Exclusive's weak imitation of a Massaman Curry. Well, Thai 1st Time is the place to go for an AWESOME Massaman Curry! There are large, tender chunks of beef that literally fall apart with the slightest prod of the fork. The curry is not too runny and they have been restrained with their use of the coconut milk so it is just the right consistency to serve with your rice.

An example of what your plate will look like - before you drizzle the curry sauce all over the rice

I cannot praise this dish highly enough. It is that good.

But alas, one cannot live off massaman curry alone so we also ordered some BBQ chicken.

BBQ Chicken (Gai-Yang) - $10.90
Thai style boneless marinated chicken served with sweet chili sauce

This wasn't that great. The chicken tasted heavily of lemongrass which overwhelmed any other flavours that might have come through. I think that I was expecting some chargrilled taste which would be been nice, but it just tasted oily.

Usually I also like to order dessert at this restaurant - they do a mean deep fried ice cream. However, since we went to the cinemas across the road after dinner, this is what my dessert ended up being:

Thai 1st Time
534 King Georges Rd
Open 7 nights
5.00 pm - 7.00pm

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