With the Easter long-weekend upon us and not all restaurants in the CBD open for trade, we thought this weekend would be a perfect opportunity to re-visit some restaurants which we had tried/blogged about recently which impressed, in another ‘Weekend of Happy Returns’! Hopefully this weekend will turn-out better than our last, where it was a weekend of shattered dreams!
Yasaka Ramen- Sydney CBD (Friday afternoon)
One of our most memorable dining experiences in the past 12 months was our front-row seats at Yasaka Ramen – where we were given a chance to watch the masters do their thang right in front of us. However on Friday arvo we were late to the show and were shown an upstairs seat, where there were surprisingly quite a number of tables up there. My wife was so impressed with what I had the first time, she ordered the Kakuni ramen i.e. slow cooked pork bone in Tonkotsu Shio [pork bone broth with salt, while I ordered a more standard ramen offering (usual thin sliced pork in Tonkotsu Shio) but with a good hit of chilli, and to share we ordered a Mango Calpis. So as we waited for our food to arrive (not seeing it made before our eyes this time), we asked ourselves if being seated up-stairs away from the action, would it take away from the whole Yasaka Ramen experience? We concluded that it could, as it just felt like a regular restaurant now – however this would be a moot point if the ramen was as good as we remembered it to be!
And yeah baby it did! The ramen noodles were still the stand-out, they were thick and chewy. My wife was pleased with her huge chunks of slow cooked pork; while my more standard offering of ramen was still a notch above its closest competitors, the thin sliced pork was still thicker and more substantial than what you’d usually get from other places; and the Mango Calpis (although you can buy them anywhere) it was surprisingly genuinely mango-tasting. So all in all, Yasaka Ramen lived up to our lofty expectations, although including the holiday 10% surcharge our total meal was 30c shy of $50, which is pretty steep for 2 bowls of noodles and a drink.
Pondok Selera- Haymarket (Friday night)
And on the Friday evening we had run out of food at home, and we were too lazy to cook so we grabbed take-away from our ‘Fan-tong’, that being Pondok Selera, the Indo take-away restaurant within Chinatown’s Eating World. As per-usual we ordered our go-to dish of Nasi Kuning (cousin of the more well-known Nasi Lemak). And like it always does, it hit the spot! But the curious thing, is that from time to time they probably have a different chef in the kitchen, so the dish is either presented a little bit differently or the key ingredients are cooked in a different way. This time the entire dish was wrapped in aluminium foil, although it was still within the same Styrofoam box, I’m assuming it’s to help retain the heat- but it seemed a bit wasteful. While usually the egg in the dish is an omelette, but this time it was hard boiled and then deep fried; and the sambal was slightly different again, this time it was considerably less spicy. So the dish is still good, but the slight differences in the dish always baffles a little, and I really can’t tell which iteration I prefer more? They’re both good I guess!
8Bit- Darling Square (Saturday afternoon)
On Saturday after spending almost 3 hours walking around taking pics for an upcoming mega post that will be uploaded soon (this is a shameless plug), we were pretty tired and hungry and what kept us going in the final hour was proposing and counter-proposing which restaurant we wanted to return to for lunch! We settled on Southern Hot chicken from ‘Belle’s Hot Chicken’, but unfortunately after walking all the way to Steam Mill Lane, we found them to be closed. Boo! So we decided to give 8Bit another go.
My first experience at 8Bit was not a positive experience, that time I found their food to be unremarkable, overpriced, and they screwed-up my order. But deep-down we have been curious to know if that experience was a one-off, and I think we were interested to see if they could redeem themselves. This time I ordered the Double Dragon (double beef patty with bacon); my wife ordered what I should’ve received last time (the Afterburner – a cheese burger with a hot kick); and a Nutella milkshake to share.
My Double dragon was literally bursting from its half-box packaging it was confined to; while my wife looked forward to tucking into her first burger from 8Bit (last time she had a hotdog). And yeah! I think 8Bit has well and truly redeemed themselves! The beef patties were akin to having proper beef steaks, as you can tell that real meat had been ground up to make these meat patties. So for me, having two beef patties with bacon, I was so full by the half way point and it definitely felt like I was getting my money’s worth! My wife felt the same, and the kick of heat for her came by way of a chilli sauce and jalapenos. And the Nutella milkshake was more like a thick shake, and they didn’t hold back on the Nutella! So it was very good and indulgent (we were glad that we had walked a lot that day).
Enjoy Café– Haymarket (Sunday afternoon)
And catching-up with my sis and her family today, we had initially intended to have Yum-cha, but then seeing that most of Chinatown were open on Easter Sunday, we decided to take them somewhere more exotic – for Balinese/Javanese! The first time we ate at Enjoy Café, it was within the first week of their grand opening and it was pretty quiet in there; but only 3 months on, it was great to see how happening business had become! Our group of 6 literally scored the last available table!
The majority of our clan ordered a version of Mee (noodles) – everyone seemed to be pleased with their retail quality instant noodles- described as being slightly smoky, served dry in a shallow bowl, but it came with an accompanying bowl of soup. While my nephew and I each had a version of rice – for me I ordered the combination rice, which literally contained any and every type of pork imaginable, from Char siu, thin sliced sausages, to a tasty skewer of grilled pork belly! Mmmmmm. Everywhere I scooped, I’d get a different type of meat with rice on my spoon, and I was so full in the end!
So all in all, a good weekend – by and large our ‘Weekend of Happy Returns’ did live up to its name. In the end, 3 restaurants have upheld their good reputation in our books, while another has just ingratiated themselves to us and has been added to the list of places we’d happily return to. So it has been a Good Friday – Sunday indeed! Happy Easter everyone!
P.S. You may click on the restaurant’s heading links, to access our previous blog/reviews after our first dining experience, reading the older post will place some context around the present post.