Beijing station, Burwood, Sydney west

You really are spoils for choice when it comes to dining out in Burwood. So many cuisines, so many restaurants and all of this just on the main road. We literally walked up and down a section of the street 3 times before we settled on Beijing station as the place we would have lunch.

From the outside it doesn't look anything special, and on the inside its the same, haha. But we didn't come here for the views, we came here for the views and so we quickly perused the menu and made a few choices.

Wontons in spicy sauce - $10.80 - Tasty morsels of wontons with minced pork as the filling. The star of the dish has to be the spicy sauce though, made with fresh chilies and chilli oil, it provided the kick the wontons needed. Sprinkled on top was coriander, eschallots and dried chilies - enough for me to form beads of sweat on this hot day.

Home-taste stir fry noodles with mixed vegetables and minced pork - $14.80 - Homemade simplicity defines this dish. Roughly sliced ribbons of noodles with just the right amount of bite, tossed through a mix of mince pork (would have been good if there was more) and an assortment of veggies. Feels like something you'd eat at someone's home in China.

Beijing Station Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Crown Dragon Restaurant, Kogarah

I first posted about Crown Dragon Restaurant in 2009 - link here if anyone feels like a blast from the past.

 It is now about five years later and the restaurant is still there! That is great for Sydney's dining scene. With so many Chinese restaurants opening and closing on a regular basis, five years is a cause for celebration. Particularly for those restaurants located inside RSL/ Leagues clubs as they tend to be tucked away from the public eye.

In my most recent visit, I was pleased to discover that the quality of the dim sum at this restaurant is still noticeably better than its local brethren.  The dumpling skins are thinner, pastry is flakier and the dishes generally seem fresher.

Here are some pics of what we ate;

In this yum cha session, we tried the Peking duck.  It is not for those on a budget - one serve is charged as a dish by itself and the serving size is average.  A thin piece of duck placed on a pancake with a smidgen of sauce.  Would I get it again?  Simply no.  Save your money for the regular dim sum.

Since my last visit, I have since discovered a 'new' dim sum that has become a favourite of mine. Custard buns filled with a hot liquid salted duck egg yolk.  See below for an 'xray' of the bun.

It is delicious!  But a word of warning - the centre is HOT, it will burn your tongue if you're not careful.

Despite this new favourite, I couldn't help but also order an old favourite.  Egg tarts will always have a special place in my heart.

If you find yourself wandering the Hurstville/ Carlton area for a yum cha, give Crown Dragon a try.  I think you will also be pleasantly surprised.  The prices are a tiny bit dearer but the quality makes up for it.

Crown Dragon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Boathouse, Pyrmont, Sydney

Once a year on my birthday I get taken to somewhere nice for dinner. This year it was the boathouse at Blackwattle Bay, across the water from the fish markets. I'd always passed this restaurant when I was training for dragon boat races but had never actually eaten here.

We made a booking way in advance and so probably got one of the best seats in the house - right up next to the floor to ceiling glass windows. We decided to eat early so we can relax with some wine and enjoy the views of the bay whilst it was still light.

and all the way into the evening...

Complimentary house-made sourdough and multi-grain bread -soft and warm, the butter smoothly melted into the bread. As always, I made the mistake of eating too much bread which affected how much I could eat later >_<

Sashimi of Saikou Salmon with cauliflower, cucumber, wasabi, ponzu - $27 - Just a light start to the meal. Fresh slices of raw salmon lined with dollops of cauliflower puree. On top of each piece is a chunk of crispy seaweed which provided an additional crunchy texture.

Wok Fried Rockampton Mud crab, salt and pepper style, snow peas and shallots (650g) - $100 - Even as a write this I can imagine the taste of the crab meat and beautiful sauce from this dish. Super fresh mud crab, lightly battered and with a black bean and pepper sauce. The taste just so divine. We spent a good hour painstakingly extracting every morsel of meat and mopping up the sauce with the left-over bread. Droolworthy indeed.

Snapper pie with smoked tomato and mash potato - $48 - the famous snapper pie! It states on the menu that it takes 25 mins to prepare so be prepared to wait. Luckily we were pre-occupied with destroying the crab dish we first ordered and so weren't too concerned regarding the timing.

There's a bit of theatrics to the dish as the waiter brings it out on a trolley and opens it to serve it at the table.

The crust of the pie was light and flaky, the smoked tomato providing the perfect tart contrast to the rich flavours of the pie filling.

The pie filling was lovely and buttery with the taste of the barramundi immersed throughout. It also had the distinct taste and smell of truffles which suggests they may have also added trouble oil to the sauce. The barrumundi was literally melt in the mouth.

Hand cut chips with aoili - $12- In hindsight we probably didn't need the chips as we were already pretty stuffed at this point. However, the chips were dusted with rosemary and sea salt, crunchy on the outside but moist on the inside and super delicious.

Banana souffle with peanut and milk chocolate ice cream - $18 - this item also requires a 20 minute wait but is totally worth it. Packed full of banana flavour with the ice cream like the perfect mix of peanut butter and chocolate. Yummmmm

Complimentary cookies

Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ocean Spray low sugar cranberry drink

So I recently got invited to taste test Ocean Spray's new cranberry flavoured fruit drink and I thought why not.

Ocean Spray to me is synonymous with cranberry juice. I've had it many years before in their distinctive rounded glass bottles and enjoyed it as refreshing drink in summer. Although it is no longer bottled using these glass bottles I was eager to see what this new recipe would taste like.

This version of the drink has been especially formulated to be less sweet and thus somewhat healthier than the standard version. According to the bottle (1.5 litres as shown below), it contains only 10 calories per serve and instead of sugar, is naturally sweetened using Stevia. It is also only available in Australia and New Zealand (sorry international readers!).

Ocean Spray Low Sugar Cranberry Drink

The Stevia sweetener is the same as the one they use in 'sugar-free' soft drinks such as the Coke Life and Pepsi Next so there does appears to be a growing trend for companies to use this new sweetener given its apparent benefits.

Tastewise, given it is a low sugar version of the original, it is naturally less sweet (duh) but also less flavoursome than the original. Whilst it retains the delicious tangy taste of cranberry, I found myself wanting more punch to the flavour.

In spite of this, I found myself during the week growing to enjoy the drink as a replacement for those times when I would be reaching for a fizzy soft drink such as my regular Coke and Creaming sodas. It doesn't feel as unhealthy as these drinks and seems to be a good alternative to have a glass of this low sugar drink rather than the soft drinks I'm used to.

Of course the best option to be healthy is just to drink water, but when you have that craving for something a bit more sweet and satisfying, I think a drink like this could be a better option than the fizzy drinks every is now accustomed - especially if you're trying to lower you calorie intake.

More information on this drink is available on their website

The Food Book sampled this product as a guest of Nuffnang and Ocean Spray. All comments and opinions are our own.

German Arms Hotel, Hahndorf, South Australia

Hahndorf is in the Adelaide hills area a 30 odd minute drive east of Adelaide city. Traditionally a German village which was established when the area was first settled, it has now become a bustling weekend hotspot for locals and tourists alike. It has one main street which is choc full of specialty shops and eateries, mainly with a German theme. 

I was actually super surprised at just how many people where in Hahndorf with many of the restaurants having lines out the door. after walking up and down the street in the stifling summer heat, we ducked into the German Arms Hotel for some tasty German dishes. 

Zigeunerschnitzel - Chicken Schnitzel with onion, red pepper and paprika sauce on German rhine potatoes -$22.90 - The most memorable park of this dish was the potatoes and the sauce. The Potatoes was so soft on the inside with a crispy skin on the outside - seasoned perfectly. The sauce thick, rich and tangy with real chunks of tomato, onion, and capsicum. Delicious.

Spencer Gulf mussels - 1kg pot of South Australian mussels with chili, garlic, white wine, tomato, onion and herbs served with crusty bread - $27.90 - A seriously huge pot of mussels. The sauce was of course the best part and I'm pretty sure I soaked up every last ml of that with the bread.

German Arms Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Artisans of Barossa, Barossa Valley, South Australia

If you are ever in the Barossa valley, I highly recommend you stop by Artisans of Barossa to try some unique boutique wines on offer here, but also to enjoy a great meal.

Perfect for a lunch time snack or feast depending on how hungry you all, the restaurant overlooks the vineyards and is a picturesque setting for a relaxing afternoon. It's also quite a hit with the locals so be warned that it may get busy. 

Schwarz wine co. Rose - $10.00 - we started off with a light rose. With a hint of strawberry, this was a great drink to begin the meal.

Crispy fried Barossa Farm free range chicken with harissa mayonnaise $26.00 -  I love it when restaurants use the local fresh produce it their dishes and this is exactly what they do here. By using such fresh ingredients, there isn't much need for additional flavours as the natural flavours themselves are enough. Here the chicken was just lightly coated in a crispy batter, lightly salted and the meat moist and tender. The harissa mayo providing an additional kick if you like.

Fig and stout braised beef empanadas with relish -$23.00 - three soft pastry shells baked to a golden brown hiding inside slow cooked beef that was melt in your mouth. Yum.

Salted caramel sundae with toffee popcorn -$11.00 - such an awesome awesome dessert. Rich but not too rich with the popcorn providing that perfect accompanying texture. Pretty much every single table I saw was eating at least one of these babies.

Harvest Kitchen at Artisans of Barossa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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