Taste of Shanghai, Hurstville, Sydney

Guest blogger edition

The problem with Shanghainese restaurants I find these days is that everything on the menu looks so good! This basically means that we end up ordering waaay too much, having to stuff ourselves to the brim or takeaway a doggy bag.

Taste of Shanghai is no exception. The restaurant that originally started in Ashfield (I think) now has chains all across Sydney. On this occasion, we visited the Hurstville branch located on Forest road. Despite it being an early Thursday night, the restaurant was pretty much booked out with lines beginning to run out the door. Lucky for us, we managed to snag a table for two before the crowds descended.

Steamed chicken in red chili oil - $12.80 - a sesame and chili oil sauce lathered over steamed chicken. A dish served cold, however the heat of the chili contrasts nicely with the temperature of the dish. A great starter. Not as good as the version at Waitan though I think

Crab meat Xiao Long Bao - $12.80 - the combination of sweet crab meat with tender pork meat encapsulated within these paper thin dumplings is unbelievably tasty. The trick is to get it all in your mouth without letting the soupy juices inside escape.

Pan fried pork bun - $9.80 - A bargain dish - 8 of these huge buns pan fried till the base is a crispy golden brown colour. Again, there is the mouthwatering soupy juices inside.

Salty fish and diced chicken fried rice - $11.80 - A dish ordered to fill us up in case the first few weren't enough (but they were easily enough). This fried rice was choc full of chicken and salty fish pieces. A tad too fishy for my liking but we demolished this nonetheless.

We staggered out of the restaurant having completely stuffed ourselves .

A great meal.

Taste of Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Chefs gallery, Wynyard, Sydney CBD

Guest blogger edition

'My chefs gallery' is a spin off of the 'Chefs gallery' restaurant which originally started next to KFC on Bathurst St in the city. Similar to  Din Tai Fung and other Shanghainese inspired cuisines, it was and still is quite popular.

My chefs gallery is a smaller restaurant, located inside the Metcentre in Wynyard. As an opening special (it was recently rebranded, refurnished and refreshed with a whole new menu), they have an offer where if you book online (at least 24 hours in advance), you get 30% of your bill. Not bad at all.

We actually ended up going here twice to try a few more of the dishes on offer. Below are some of these dishes.

Dan dan noodles with fried pork ribs - $16.90 - fantastic rich, nutty dan dan soup base with silky smooth noodles. A tiny bit of spiciness to the dish.

Deep fried pork accompanying the noodle was golden perfection. Juicy pork cutlets deep fried and sprinkled with sesame. Dipped into the salt and pepper, it was really salivating to eat.

Handmade noodles, shredded roast duck, egg, shitake mushroom, chinese brocolli - $17.80 - slivers of duck meat, ribbons of thin egg slice and slippery noodle tossed together with shitake mushrooms. A great combination of flavours and they did not skimp on the duck!

Flash fried medium wagyu beef with pepper sauce and lettuce salad - $25.90 - I thought this dish was somewhat overpriced. Sure the beef cubes were tender and cooked well, but the sauce was just a pepper sauce and the salad was just some lettuce. A tad disappointing I found given the hefty price tag.

Shredded duck meat and mushroom dumpling - $12.90 - Not an appetising look (they kinda look like brains), but inside is that lovely duck meat and mushroom flavour again - like the noodles above but stronger.  The sauce was a mild oyster sauce I think.

Vegetarian spring rolls with a spicy mushroom dipping sauce - $11.90 - I love the crispiness of this spring roll interpretation - the deep fried lattice pastry simple shattered inside your mouth to reveal the bounty of vegetables inside. Spreading the mushroom sauce onto the spring roll, added another dimension of flavour.

Fried rice with 3 eggs (Salted duck egg, century egg, and chicken egg) - $15.90 - A signature dish that I've had before at their mother restaurant on Bathurst St. You can really taste the different egg flavours in there. The best egg i think is the salted duck egg, which has a really nice saltiness, oiliness, creamyness as well as a granular texture at the same time.

Get in quick to take advantage of the discount cos the regular prices aren't cheap for this place! I think they also have a entertainment card offer as well.

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Ken's sushi bar dining, Bexley North, Sydney

Guest blogger edition

A small, unassuming Japanese restaurant located in the small suburb of Bexley North begets another hidden suburban gem. Much like Sushi Hiro in Beverly Hills, Ken's Sushi Bar Dining is a cozy little Japanese restaurant with owner operators bringing their culinary skills direct from Japan to our shores.

The restaurant is usually very busy with customers on weekends and Friday nights and as it only sits around 20-25 people, booking is a must if you plan to come here for dinner. Your other option is to rock up for lunch and although there is a steady stream of customers even at lunch time, your chance of getting a table is much better.

And so here we were on a warm Saturday afternoon sitting at Ken's and ordering our lunch whilst watching the busy traffic of Bexley Road. They have a special lunch set (shown below) which provides a 2 course meal with or without a drink. It's pretty good value so we opted for this.

Miso soup - your standard miso soup, no qualms having this as a starter.

Two steamed gyoza dumpings and two sushi rolls (per set) - doesn't look like much, but the gyoza is surprisingly plump and juicy, whilst the tuna sushi is also quite nice

Fish Katsu - lightly crumbed fish fillets, piping hot, crunchy with a homemade mayo and side of garden salad, this was sooo moreish.

Whiting tempura with dipping sauce and salad - fresh whiting fillets (although I did have some soft bones in mine) fried to perfection. Really nicely done.

Definitely would go back again for lunch or dinner to try their more extensive menu.

Two word summary - authentic and delicious.

Ken's Sushi on Urbanspoon

Ippudo, Broadway, Sydney CBD

Guest blogger edition

I'm a bit of a fan of Ippudo, so when I received an invitation to a private blogger only event to try out their new (yet to be opened) restaurant in Central Park, Broadway, I just could not refuse. In true testament to how popular the chain is, when we arrived there at 5 minutes to 6pm, there were random people waiting for them to open. This was despite the restaurant not actually being open to the public yet! So unfortunately when the doors did open, they had to be politely lead away and informed to return on the 2nd of October when they officially open their doors.

The staff lead us to our table and we sat down and observed the restaurant. A pretty big place overall with one wall covered with hanging spoons as a decorative piece.

As the first patrons of the store, everything was brand spanking new. The tables, the cutlery, the seats and the entire condiment set on the table had never been used before!

Lemon ice tea - nothing too fancy here, just your bog standard lemon ice tea with a slice of lemon. Nice and plain.

Homemade lemon lime and bitters - refreshing but unspectacular. But of course, we don't go to Ippudo to enjoy their drinks...

The menu at the Central Park restaurant is slightly different to the one at Westfields. There are a few items that are available at one and not the other. Given the close proximity to the nearby University, one of the exclusive menu items here is the Shiromaru base ramen. An 'entry level' ramen for those budget conscious university students after a delicious hit of ramen. Starting at a mere $10, you can also add extra toppings to the ramen at a price.

For our entree, we chose the Japanese fish and chips. This entree dish is also exclusive to the Central Park restaurant and is a their interpretation of the classic fish and chips dish. Thick cut chips, Tempura onsen tamago egg and Tempura salmon. The best part of this dish was the salmon. light and crunchy tempura coating around a soft flaky piece of salmon. So delicious. The tamago egg was also wonderfully delicate and soft in the middle but nice and crunchy on the outside. A great combination of textures. The chips were a tad disappointing, as they did not have that crunchiness that I love with chips.

The fish and chips came with 2 sauces, a red kind of ketchupy semi spicy one, and a white mayo type one. Both worked well with the chips and the salmon.

The moist flaky insides of the salmon, mmmmm

What's unique about ordering at Ippudo compared to other ramen joints, is that when you order ramen at Ippudo, they give you the choice of how you like your ramen cooked. I usually select al- dente but if you like your noodles softer than normal, you can ask for this.

Main #1 - Miso Tonkotsu Special - Ippudo's signature pork broth infused with red miso. Topped with pork belly chashu, cabbage, spring onion, bamboo shoots, corn and bean sprouts. The 'special' in the name refers to the dish on the right. An additional plate loaded with extra toppings - like literally enough for another small meal. It had - flavoured egg, simmered pork belly, roasted seaweed, black mushrooms, bamboo shoots and spring onions. I recommended you only get this if you have a big big appetite!

Main #2 Akamaru special -  reminds me of the dog in the anime 'Naruto', however in this context, it refers to Ippudo's miso paste ramen. This is their original tonkotsu broth enhanced with special blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil. Served with thing noodles, pork belly, black mushrooms and shallots. Again, the difference with the 'special' version is the extra side dish loaded with additional toppings.

The side dish

This is what it looks like with everything in there.

New store information:

- IPPUDO SYDNEY Central Park: Level 1 RB07, 28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008 - Opening Date: 2nd of October 2014

  Ippudo Sydney on Urbanspoon

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