Greetings reader!

Today is a very good day for you if you’ve just randomly stumbled upon our site Four Senses- Touch Smell Taste Sound! As you’ll lose yourself in hours and hours of reading, and leave with a long list of things to try, be that restaurants, recipes, products, or stuff to hear or do. Please feel free to click on the different category tags to read all the different posts we’ve accumulated over time.

The majority of posts aren’t time sensitive, so don’t limit yourself to only reading the most recent posts, but check out the vast archive of Restaurant Reviews we’ve compiled (which we’ll keep adding to on a weekly basis).

We’ll keep adding more recipes for you to try, when we can certify that they have been tried and tested by us, and proven not to give us (or you) the runs. Haaha.

Check out our Kombucha journal where we’ve documented our steps to success, and will journal our future batches as we experiment with different flavours and ingredients. Our journal is detailed enough so you can replicate and produce a brew which will rival a store-bought beverage.   

And each time we come across some good products which we think you might also like, we’ll post these things under ‘Product Recommendations’ so you’ll have all the details if you want to check them out.

We’re also known for being eclectic in our listening tastes, which include music albums, podcasts, audio books and rando stuff from Netflix, so we’ll post recommendations as we come across some good stuff which you might like to see and hear.

And there’s just so many things to see and do in Ol’ Sydney Town, so we’ll post up monthly lists of what festivals and activities you can partake in; we have a Live Gig guide which we’ll update on a regular basis; and we’ll explore a Sydney suburb each month and we’ll document each step of the way so you can replicate our travels if you like.

So in short, if you’ve just randomly stumbled upon our site! Happy days! As you’ve just uncovered a whole entire avenue of cool stuff to read, interact with and try! So don’t be a stranger, bookmark our site and check back often as we’ll be uploading posts several times a week. We guarantee that each time you visit there will always be something new for you to Touch Smell Taste and Hear!    

The Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen- Chippendale

A notch above standard pub grub!

You know that saying…..”Great minds think alike?” We were organising our regular catch-up with my wife’s parents, and they suggested ‘The Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen’, wow! I too had TDIP&K on my list of restaurants to try! For me it was the promise of a Sunday roast on Sundays, and the fact that they specialise in duck which got my attention!

On this Sunday arvo as soon as we walked in to the pub (located on a quiet street in Chippendale), the first impression was how warm and homely the venue was!

Studying their menu, one thing was evident…….                             

For the name sake of the Inn, I ordered the Duck Schnitzel ($28.00); my wife ordered the Braised Beef Cheek ($30.00), while my in-laws ordered the House made pasta with duck bolognese – $28 (the second of two duck dishes on the menu), and the Crispy Skin Salmon ($30.00).

**Comment: For the details of the Sunday roast, ask your server.

And as our orders went to the kitchen, a large party arrived (more than a dozen people) and the atmosphere picked up from there (the lounge-y music played second fiddle then). This empty dining room shot was taken just before the group arrived.

Taking in the atmosphere, the Pub had an old-school vibe about it – with faux bookshelf wallpaper, and the chairs reminded me of furniture from the 80s, but it was comfy and added to the old-school charm.

When our food arrived, all eyes went to my wife’s beef cheek dish!

…As it was one huge cube of meat! But keeping the re-telling of this tale in chronological order, I must tell of my Duck schnitzel experience first….

Before it arrived, I was speculating with my wife whether or not she thought that the Schnitty would actually be duck meat? Or would it just be a regular chicken or pork schnitzel? As it was called a Duck Schnitzel, but was it duck by name due to the name of the pub? Or was it duck by name, due to the ingredient that it was?

Well, just looking at it, you can’t tell as it was all battered and fried. I have to admit, at this point I was dubious as it was quite a large piece of schnitzel, and would a restaurant really give you such a large serving of duck meat?

Cutting into it, it had the dark pink colour of duck meat, but putting it into my mouth it first tasted of chicken, then later of pork. And to the point when I had finished my half and swapped it with my wife, I was still 65% convinced that it was pork, not duck. But having a closer study of the fine bones and the colour, my wife’s verdict was that it was duck meat! Although she had to admit, based on taste alone it didn’t taste like duck. Our conclusion was that crumbing and frying duck meat was probably not the best way to showcase a premium protein like duck.

But after swapping for my wife’s Braised Beef Cheek, all thoughts of duck, or chicken or pork had left my mind. Oh my goodness! How good was the beef cheek!? Just pushing down with a standard dining knife, the utensil cut through the meat like a hot knife through butter! I’ve never tasted such tender beef before, it had a subtle taste of wine jus, there were melty collagen veins, and the stand-out was how large the serving was! Having half each, we were both satisfied that we had enough.

My in-laws had a similar experience to us, my father-in-law had the Duck pasta, and his comment was also that he couldn’t really tell if his protein was actually duck or not, as it was a mince. While they were both very pleased with their Salmon dish.

And why Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen was a notch above your standard pub food? It was due to their attempts to play around with unique pairings with their accompanying sides.

Along side my Duck Schnitzel was what looked like ketchup sauce, but dipping a fork into it, it was ketchup but plum sauce had been mixed into it, as duck and plums are a perfect match! And the starchy element to my dish were western dumplings i.e. cheese mixed into balls of flour, mixed in with the peas.

My wife’s unique side was a bed of green cous cous which had hints of spinach flavour? We thinks? And there were strips of fried onion draped on-top of the cheek. And I’m sure all the other dishes on the menu contained equally unique side combinations (we have to admit we didn’t take in all the menu items and descriptions when we were making our order).

Our end verdict? 4.5 From 5.0 Stars (2.5 from 3 for Food (although the duck didn’t live up to our expectation, but everything else was special and playful!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the staff member who waited on us was super-attentive, checking on us throughout the meal); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the venue was old, that 70-80s old but it had a very welcoming warm vibe to it); and 1 from 1 for Value for Money (Most pub meals are around the $25 – $35 mark these days, but here I got a big piece of duck for $28, and in our past experiences we’ve received much less for $30 than the huge piece of beef cheek my wife was served up at TDIP&K!)).

In the end, we didn’t try the Sunday roast, and the duck wasn’t the star, although they were the two early drawcards for us. However all the other dishes were a stand-out! If you haven’t tried the Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen before, I’d definitely recommend it, it’s more Modern Australian than your standard Pub grub. Everything we tried today had a complex flavour to them, flavours which were new to our tastebuds, so we spent much of the meal tasting and re-tasting things, trying to work out what elements were in their unique concoctions. If someone asked us what memorable restaurant have we dined at recently? The Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen would be near the top of that list!

After note:

Here is what we *actually* had:

Duck schnitzel w/ spatzle, peas & cherry ketchup

Braised beef cheek w/ parsley polenta, crispy shallots & horseradish

Crispy skin ocean trout w/ cauliflower, raisins, kipfler potato & Baharat

House made pasta w/duck bolognese, confit yolk & parmesan

**Comment: Shows that we know nothing! “You know nothing John Snow!” (Said in a Wildling accent).

The Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen- Sunday 21 July (4.5 Stars)

https://www.theduckinnpubandkitchen.com/

PH: (02) 9319 4415

74 Rose Street, Chippendale

Tues-Sat: 11am – 11pm

Sun: 12noon – 10pm

Mon: Closed

Exploring- Kogarah

14 Km South of Sydney CBD…… But boy did it feel further than that!

I’m born and bred in Sydney but I’ve never, ever set foot in Kogarah before. Never! But this Saturday I had it in my mind to explore what is out there, largely due to Pino’s Dolce Vita Fine Foods!

It was last week, my wife and I were watching Channel 7’s Sunrise, and as their Weather segment gets out-and-about, their weather person was broadcasting live from Pino’s Dolce Vita – an  Italian Deli located in Kogarah; interviewing the patriarch and founder Pino’s, Tomini Foresti. And as they crossed over to the 45 President Ave store every half hour, for the next week I just couldn’t stop thinking about paying the Italian deli a visit at our latest opportunity!

So come noon time today, we headed out on our day-trip to explore Kogarah!

Getting there – by train on a good day, it is probably a half hour direct train trip from Town Hall? But weekend track work….. made the trip much longer than that, which included an initial detour to Museum station (trains were not departing from Town Hall), which kick-started the first leg to Wolli Creek where we had to change trains and endure a 14 minute wait, before the final leg from Wolli Creek to Kogarah train station.

I don’t know what I was expecting but after a short walk from the station and around a corner, it was already residential- the short commercial strip consisted of the usual suburban restaurants and small businesses.

Then it was a 1.1Km (15 minute) walk from the station to Pino’s Dolce Vita, located on a pretty busy stretch of road.

As soon as the doors were pushed open, the sounds of many happy chatting people came rushing out, along with the toasty warm air. To your right is the deli and butcher portion of the single structure store (I’ve read that they sell over 100 different types of sausages, and many unique cheeses), and to your left was the café and patisserie. At first it didn’t seem like there were going to be any available seats for us, and I had that horrible sinking feeling….. After all this way!? But when we were approached and asked how many were in our party, fortunately there were still two tables out back which were vacant for us! Woohoo! Of recent times I’ve stopped my obsession with reporting back to you a blow-by-blow of a restaurant’s tables and chairs and table setting……but for Pino’s Dolce Vita, I do have to pause and tell you all about their chairs! They were made from heavy wood, and stretched taut across its beams was a thick hide of leather, like dining furniture found at someone’s home, which all added to the homely vibe.

We studied the menus and there were daily lunch specials, pastas, sandwiches/burgers, salads and items cooked for you from the butcher.

I couldn’t go past the Gnocchi beef ragu ($26.00) and my wife ordered the Italian steak sandwich ($24), and a large flat white coffee ($4.50).

As we waited for our food, the last and final table behind us was filled and it was a packed house in the newly re-opened Pino’s Dolce Vita Deli, after a devastating fire in 2016 which saw a Kogarah (and Sydney) institution closed for over 2 years (only re-opening in Dec 2018) – and the reason why Sunrise had featured them. With so many diners (who seemed to all know each other by name), who needed a music playlist? From our back-seats, we were still able to hear what was going on in the kitchen, and had a line of sight to the deli/butcher.

In a few minutes the coffee arrived, and we were speculating, how strong would the coffee be? And it was real nice and strong, borderline needing sugar, but we did resist from adding the white crystals.

But there was a bit of a wait for our food to arrive. Hey! They were super busy and we were waiting (or soon to be) waiting all day long, so what was the difference? But when our food did arrive, we were so ready to tuck in!

My Gnocchi was served on a rectangular plate, and starting my spoon and fork from right to left, I carefully pierced each gnocchi one at a time, savouring each mouthful of food! I’d never had fresh hand-made gnocchi before, and each pillow-soft ball of potato/flour almost dissolved in the mouth without much need to chew. It was coated in the flavoursome ragu sauce, although the stewed beef was a little sparse, with shreds of meat when I was hoping for chunks. Though there were squares of parmesan cheese scattered across the plate, and getting a square with the gnocchi?- Heavenly! But as the gnocchi was only a single layer across my plate (not piled on), I had to eat slowly to make my meal last.

While my wife’s Italian steak sandwich was a different story! It was filling to the 9s! Shaped like a short baguette, inside its crispy outer shell were oven-baked capsicums, fried onions, slow cooked potatoes, fried tomatoes, and a melty cheese! And under all of that, was an entire piece of steak, fresh from the butcher side of the store! The medium-rare chargrilled steak was probably half a centimetre thick, and was so tender and flavourful that I couldn’t recall having a steak this good in recent times. It was that good! My wife granted me a couple of bites and I was having bad cases of food-envy. Haaha.

So as I was leaning back in my chair, finished with my yummy but oh so moreish gnocchi, all I heard was my wife still crunching into her sandwich. *Drool*.

When we were done with our meals, we did a little circuit of their store, checking out the packaged goods and the fresh items they had on offer. And we couldn’t pass-up on the cannoli, the large were all sold out by then ($4 each) so we had to settle on the small ($2 each). We bid farewell to Pino’s Dolce Vita and rounded out back to a small park, where we found a park bench on which we sat and had our cannolis in the sun.

Then it was retracing our steps back to the train station; we had intended to explore more of Kogarah, but there isn’t all that much out there to see or do (especially compared to Da City). So we waited 17 mins for our return train to Wolli Creek, ran for our connecting train (as we had missed the connecting train the first time by 10 secs), but looked rather sheepish when the train sat there for several more minutes, waiting for the slowest and the most leisurely of connectors to stroll on-board.

Summary:

There isn’t much to see in Kogarah, but if you want to try an Aussie-Italian institution, with great coffee, fresh and unique deli meats, cheeses, awesome café food, pastries and a friendly homely atmosphere? The visit alone to Pino’s Dolce Vita is worth your while! If you’re time poor, we’d probably advise to drive there? But if it’s a nice day and you’re not in a hurry, you can still definitely get there by public transport.

Pino’s Dolce Vita- Saturday 20 July

https://www.pinosdolcevita.com.au/

PH: (02) 9587 4818

45 President Avenue, Kogarah

Tues-Fri (Café/Kitchen) 8am – 4pm

Tues-Fri (Deli/Butcher) 8am – 5pm

Sat-Sun (Café/Kitchen) 7am – 3pm

Sat-Sun (Deli/Butcher) 7am – 3pm

Mon- Closed

Kimchee & Beef Soya Milk Thermal Cooker Recipe

Serving: 4

Ingredients:

600g Beef chuck steak

250g (one small tub) Kimchee

1 Brown onion

250g Oyster mushrooms

6 Cloves garlic

2 Birds eye chillies

1L Soya milk

Packet ramen noodles to serve

Apparatus: Thermal cooker

Directions:

Step 1: Prepare ingredients by dicing chillies and garlic cloves into small pieces; slice up mushrooms and onions into wide strips; and dice beef into large 1cm cubes.

Step 2: Place chillies, garlic and onion into the thermal pot (on medium heat) and fry for 2 mins. When the mixture starts to stick, add the soya milk to the pot and bring to a boil.

Step 3: When soya milk has been boiling for a minute, add beef and mushrooms to the pot and allow cook (stirring) for 5 minutes, before covering and allowing to simmer for an additional 5 minute. Then place the thermal pot into its thermal shell. Allow cook for 4-5 hours.

Step 4: 15 minutes before serving, cook 4 packets of ramen noodles (according to packet directions). Meanwhile re-heat the pot on the stove, at this point  add the kimchee to the pot and bring to a boil.  Allow to cook for a further 5-10 mins.

Step 4: Drain ramen noodles and divide among 4 bowls, and ladle the kimchee beef soya milk mixture over noodles.

Comments:

Due to the properties of soya milk,  be prepared to regularly stir the bottom of the pot avoiding the soya milk from sticking and burning.

Netflix Recommendations- Dating Around/Back with The Ex

Dating shows aren’t a new concept, 80s dating show ‘Perfect Match’ immediately comes to mind, while more modern iterations like ‘Married at First Sight’ draws in the crowds. However ‘Dating Around’ and ‘Back With The Ex’ are different and refreshing takes on the usual dating show.

Dating Around (2019)

Dating Around is a Netflix original production, here a guy (or girl) embarks on a first date….but not any first date, but 5 first dates! In the same episode the same guy (or gal) dates 5 different people! Talk about ‘all the best’ with remembering their names….. Not at the same time though…..but through slick editing by the after-production team  it presents and feels like it’s all one big first date fest!

Each episode features a brand new single looking for love, and as each ep is only 30 minutes in length, there isn’t any wasted time so the interaction and show progressions move right along! Each episode follows the same formula, i.e. friends say what a great guy or gal they are; then we finally set eyes on him or her; then we find out more about them as they meet their 5 first dates; all dates are conducted at the same restaurant which helps the magic of editing, as conversations with one date seamlessly transitions to another usually when they’re chatting about the same topic; as they dine they peel the layers of the onion back until the end of the meal when he/she suggests to kick on to a bar; if the first date is going well, their dining companion are usually more than happy to kick-on…….while a few dates had declined and parted ways after the meal; and in the final seconds of the show, it’s another day, the lead walks purposefully to a rendezvous and then you finally find out who they hit it off with and who was going to have this second date with them (then fades to black).

Dating Around is less about romance and trashiness which comes with some dating shows, but it’s more a sociological experiment which you have a front-row seat for! So if you’re one who loves eavesdropping on another couple’s dining conversation,  then you’ll love this! And the show features a wide cross section of people (same sex, older demographic etc.), so it’s quite enlightening, while being confronting at times.

Back With the Ex (2018)

On the other hand, Back with the Ex is a Channel 7 Australian production, why it differs from the usual dating shows is because the couples already know each other (there are 4 couples). Not only do they know each other, but they were once girlfriend/boyfriends, some being together for as long as 6 years! But for one reason or another, they had broken up and been separated for as short as 3 years, to as long as 28 years!? What the? But for our entertainment purpose (and no doubt some sweeteners from Channel 7), one party has reached out to their ex, floating the concept of getting back together, while a video crew follows them around and films every intimate moment. Sounds interesting? Or does it sound like the most cringing viewing ever?

The couples range from a cute couple in their early twenties, to an equally cute couple in their late 40s/early 50s. And through the seven 60-minute episode series, we follow the 4 couples across a 3 week period in their lives, cameras filming them re-kindle their friendships. We’re invited in to watch them squirm through scripted scenarios like taking turns to temporarily live together at each other’s homes; meet again (or for the first time) family and friends of their ex; go out on lavish dates clearly paid for and organised by Ch7; the awkward (so awkward) drinks with all the other Exs (guys at one venue, girls at another) and have that footage replayed back to their ex, evidence of their behaviour when they’re not around; and the most exciting part for the couples (and probably the single reason why they signed onto the show) was the epic overseas trip they take together before they decide …..if they’d give their relationship another go or not.

Again, it was another interesting watch if you’re into psycho-analysing people, trying to predict if they’re genuine (and if not, if their ex could see through it), and I found myself trying to predict which couple were going to give it another shot, and who was going to crush the other’s dreams. And for one or two, they didn’t come off looking too good, not sure if being on the show might hinder their future attempts at love. I guess only time will tell.

But if you want to nosey into others’ lives, and watch a real-life drama unfold, check-out Dating Around and Back with the Ex as they’re currently both available on Netflix. Enjoy!

Food Vs Food- Burger Vs Burger

In Food Vs Food, we pitch similar foods/cuisines against each other, in an attempt to identify the restaurant who is best in category! In this Chapter of Food Vs Food, we have pitched the best Burger joints against each other – which trending Burger joint will be top of the stack?

Our approach: When eating at each Burger restaurant, we evaluated the Burger on a 10 point scale, and then evaluated the other restaurant elements on another 10 point scale, thus all scores are out of 20. Here are the criteria’s we evaluated them against:

The Burger criteria:

Bun- 2

Protein- 2

Sauce- 2

Other fillings- 2

Bite-a-bility- 2

Restaurant criteria:

Sides- 2

Burger selection- 2

Accompanying beverages- 2

Extras- 2

Concept/gimmick- 2

Bar Luca: 17.5/20

In a happening bar, serving up modern takes on the humble bread stack! Blame Canada! Or simply Blame Yourself if you don’t end up ordering their signature burger. But if you’ve tried the Beef patty and Maple glazed crispy bacon before, there are still many many other burger options to tantalise your tastebuds! There are many sides to share and extras which you can shove into your stack, but be restrained as the burger will already satisfy both your need for tastiness and the need to be filled. A real nice venue to bring a date or just with mates, and it’s a pub afterall so there is a full bar on offer! Happy Days!

Stax On Burgers: 17/20

The new entrant to the city burger seen, welcome aboard to the Stax On Burger truck! An unique concept, backed up with a good variety of burgers, tasty sides and they’re actually known for their desserts! So plenty more to try out after you’ve consumed your bun stack at Stax on!

Marys: 16/20

The perennial favourite to take out the Burger Vs Burger crown, however with a limited menu and a hole-in-the-wall shopfront, Marys’ overall score puts it behind its competitors. But when it comes to a straight-up burger-to-burger bout, Marys’ burgers hold their own! Bring it on!    

Z-Pickle: 16/20

A real thumping venue, with loads and loads of character. A vast selection of burgers, all with a twist on what you’re used to from a bun stack. Burgers tasted just as good as they read from the menu, and the large selection of beverages and sides will round-out any meal. Prices (if paying full price) were on the high side though.

DOWN N’ OUT: 15/20

Where the cool cats come n’ hang, the venue’s narrow staircase might already impede some diners. The menu is limiting, but the weekly special will bring the fans back time and time again. The burgers lacked a bit of creativity in its default guise, however throw a few more bucks at it and you can customise it into a towering bun monstrosity! Many craft beers to choose from (although they can cost as much as a burger), while sides are solid but essentially only 4 options. A meal was quite affordable, but if you start to option out your burger like a luxury Euro car, it will start to hurt the hip pocket.

Burger Project- World Square

A tired venture for the Rockpool Dining Group- the ‘gourmet’ burgers were ground-breaking in 2013, but pedestrian for ’19; burgers, chips, and shakes all missing the mark. And with most burgers around the $14 mark, priced too high for a burger joint targeted at families. Save your cash and feed the fam at the Golden arches.

8bit: 13.5/20

Soulless and hard to link the video game concept to the burgers. The burgers and hot dogs were alright, if you were at MacDonald’s or Hungry Jacks; but for a more premium place, it sadly missed the mark. 3 choices of milkshakes, but a little pricy. The only stand out was the packaging, a bit sad hey?

Burger Scorecard:

Bar Luca: 17.5/20

Bun: 1.5; Protein: 2; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 2; Bite-a-bility: 2.

Sides: 2; Burger selection: 2; Beverages: 2; Extras: 2; Concept: 0.

Stax On Burgers: 17/20

Bun: 0.5; Protein: 2; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 2; Bite-a-bility: 2.

Sides: 2; Burger selection: 2; Beverages: 1.5; Extras: 1.5; Concept: 1.5.

Marys: 16/20

Bun: 2; Protein: 2; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 2; Bite-a-bility: 2.

Sides: 1.5; Burger selection: 1; Beverages: 1.5; Extras: 1; Concept: 1.

Z-Pickle: 16/20

Bun: 2; Protein: 1.5; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 1.5; Bite-a-bility: 2.

Sides: 2; Burger selection: 2; Beverages: 2; Extras: 0; Concept: 1.

DOWN N’ OUT: 15/20

Bun: 1; Protein: 1; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 1; Bite-a-bility: 2.

Sides: 2; Burger selection: 1; Beverages: 2; Extras: 2; Concept: 1.

Burger Project- World Square: 14/20

Bun: 2; Protein: 1.5; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 1.5; Bite-a-bility: 2

Sides: 1.5; Burger selection: 1.5; Beverages: 1; Extras: 0; Concept: 1

8bit: 13.5/20

Bun: 1; Protein: 1; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 2; Bite-a-bility: 2.

Sides: 1.5; Burger selection: 1.5; Beverages: 1.5; Extras: 1; Concept: 1.

X23 Café- Chippendale

Perhaps better named as +23 café, as the majority of their mains were more than 23 bucks!

I’d read a number of glowing X23 Café reviews about this fusion place, located on a private laneway just behind the Central Park mall (when walking there from the city). It’s highly unlikely that you’d just luck on this place, you really have to be Google maps-ing to find it.

On this Sunday afternoon, they were doing pretty bustling trade, with ¾ of their tables filled with happy chatting patrons, enjoying their fusion meals.

Before entering we had already sussed-out their menu which was posted out-front next to the door, so after settling ourselves in their comfy couches, we placed our orders at the cash register. We opted for the pasta dishes from the Specialty section of the menu (as the all-day breakfast options seemed a bit meh), so my wife ordered the Salted Egg Yolk Prawn Pasta ($29.00), I ordered the Devil Chilli Crab Pasta ($27.00) and the ‘Drink of the Month’ to share (Mandarin Orange Oolong Tea- $7.00).

The interior of the café was warm and inviting (thankfully, as it was a cool day), wooden floors, brightly lit all round, and an English music playlist playing softly.

And in moments our ‘Drink of the Month’ arrived!

Within the glass, waiting for your paper straw to pass over it, was a pool of sago, which was a welcome surprise as you sipped on the lightly flavoured Mandarin Orange Oolong tea. Refreshing was the best word to describe the H2O +Tea!

And not long after, both of our pasta dishes arrived.

My Devil Chilli Crab Pasta included squid ink linguine- which was thin like noodles, but nice and al dente; Spanner crab meat- the crab meat was delightful, but they were morsels of crab meat, like when you use the hook utensil to scrape out all the little bits of meat from the joints; 2 slices of butter glazed mantou- this was the highlight for me, I’m already a big fan of the Mantou, but to have it sliced thinly and toasted…It was very Mmmmm; and the sauce- it was worked into each strand of the pasta, it was a thick, sweet, and spicy sauce, but I did pick-out all the whole chilies from my dish. I’d already skipped church this morning, consuming devil chillies was probably pushing my luck a bit too far for this day.

My wife’s Salted Egg Yolk Prawn Pasta also had squid ink linguine from the same pot of pasta- the pasta was coated in the salted egg yolk, which was tasty at first bite, but it felt a bit heavy and same-same after bites 2, 3, 4 etc.; 4 large king prawns were served up- cooked in butter, it was flavoursome and fresh (the highlight of the dish); however those were pretty much the only worthwhile elements of the dish-  4 prawns, pasta and a same-same sauce. The garnish included whole chilies, decorative flowers, and some curry leaves- but all of these elements were inedible so the $29 dish was unspectacular to say the least.

And that was the opinion from both of us, as half way through our dishes we did a swapsies. My wife enjoyed my dish more, finding the entire dish more complex in flavour than hers, and likewise I enjoyed the first bite of her salted egg yolk sauce, but after bites 2-3 it was all same-same.

Our end verdict? 3.5 Stars from 5 (2 from 3 for Food (the food was interesting enough, but the menu was a bit limited so we kind of felt that we were steered towards ordering the pasta, otherwise everything was too easy to replicate at home for a fraction of the price); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the staff were men/women of a few words, but efficient enough); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the place is off the beaten track, but it felt really inviting); and 0.5 from 1 for Value for Money (we did have dishes with premium produce, but the crab dish basically had the equivalent of a crab leg’s worth of meat, while $29 for 4 king prawns and pasta was a bit Ex-y)).

I think X23 Café has a uniqueness, western café drinks and meals with a Malaysian/Asian twist. However as we probably tried the 2 most interesting dishes on their menu, and we weren’t blown away by it, I can’t see ourselves returning for a second piece of the fusion pie. To this day I still don’t understand the store’s name? Why X23? Perhaps it should be named +23? As everything was overpriced! Or maybe -23? As it lost points from us all round? Or maybe it should be called /23? As 23 divided by 0 is a big fat 0? Ok, ok, that last one is a little harsh (and also mathematically incorrect)….

X23 Café- Sunday 14 July (3.5 Stars)

PH: (02) 9056 5138

102/18 Park Lane, Chippendale

Mon 10am – 3pm

Tues- Closed

Wed-Fri 10am – 3pm

Sat-Sun 9am – 4pm