A Weekend of Happy Returns

What are long weekends all about? Chilling out and eating! And boy did I eat and eat this weekend!

Hong Kong Kitchen– Sydney CBD (Thursday dinner)

It all started as soon as I downed tools for the long-weekend (taking Friday off to make it a super long weekend!). I was catching up with my folks, so considering that they were from the ‘old country’ and hadn’t tried Hong Kong Kitchen before – I thought it would be a nice treat to take them to an authentic Hong Kong Char Chaan Teng. I didn’t need to study the menu as I already knew what I wanted, I naturally went with my fave – the Baked Pork Chop Rice with a cup of hot Góngsīk náaihchà to warm-up my freezing bones. My dad had the baked fish pasta dish, while my mum ordered the Corn and Chicken Rice. I think they were pleased with their Chinese-Western style dishes, while my pork chop was an inch thick, but yet so tender! And being covered in melt-y cheese and tomato sauce…..come to think of it, it actually reminds me of the good old Chicken Parmigiana. Needless to say I went home very satisfied- while my parents kicked on to check-out Vivid on their own.

Belles Hot Chicken– Haymarket (Saturday lunch)

And after some retail therapy on the Saturday morning (basically getting warmer clothing to ward off the cold) we finally got a chance to head back to Belles Hot! I had been craving chicken and waffles for weeks and weeks now, so it was a no-brainer that I elected the 3 pieces of chicken drumstick with waffles! But the only thing I had to toss-up between, was the level of heat which I thought I’d be able to tolerate (on a 1-6 scale). And since I’d tried ‘Hot’ (Level 3) and survived, I thought it was time to up the ante- electing ‘Really Hot’ (Level 4), while there were still ‘F-in’ hot’ and ‘Sex Panther’ levels awaiting me if I was man enough. My wife elected Wings and Fries at the ‘Hot’ level and to wash that all down we ordered the Arnold Palmer house drink which was a blend of homemade lemonade and homemade ice tea. Yum!

‘Very hot’ was definitely a level reserved for guys & gals with a good spice tolerance. I knew I was in for a battle when after the first 2 bites my lips started to swell up, my mouth was in physical pain (anywhere the chilli powder/oil had touched), and each of my facial orifices were leaking its respective fluids (not a pretty sight). After drumstick one, even placing the fluffy soft waffle with its moreish sticky syrup into my mouth, caused physical pain on contact. And I love my wife so so much! She offered to swap me one of her Hot wings, for one of my Really Hot drumsticks, to save me from my self-inflicted torture. She said the look on my face, reminded her of the time when I took on the hottest burrito challenge and almost died from it. Haaha.

In the end, we were both suffering with burning mouths. And when we looped back to eat the milder ‘Hot’ wing, in comparison the wings tasted like child’s play! You could almost gift the drumlet to a toddler to teethe on! Haaha. But we survived to eat another meal….. Only a handful of hours afterwards. Hehehe.

Golden Century– Haymarket (Saturday dinner)

As my wife’s uncle from the States was visiting Sydney for the first time – the proper place to dine at was at Chinatown’s best Seafood restaurant- Golden Century! With my folks along for the ride, it was lucky that we had made a table booking for 5, although with the reservation we still had to wait for at least 10 minutes before our table was ready. And as my dad is a planner, he had already devised a list of dishes from studying their online menu, which he dictated to the waitress to take-down.  We had a good variety of meats (pork, duck and chicken), a good selection of veg (broccoli, asparagus, and tofu), and of course seafood (scallops and crab).

After the waitress had taken our orders, the food literally came out faster than we were seen to our table! In less than 10 minutes all 6 dishes were served-up, just as we finished our complementary soups. All of the food were tasty (although a little bit temperature cold), and there was so much food that we each had to take it for the team to clear the plates. The scallops were the highlight for me, they were large and fat, but you could tell that they were originally frozen (Mr. Wong being the Scallop bench-mark where they serve their’s fresh). But on the whole, the food was still a notch above your usual Chinatown Cantonese restaurants – and we liked the complementary desserts, which included fresh fruit, sweet soups, and baked/deep fried goods. And after our dinner together, we headed out to watch the 9pm Darling Harbour fireworks.

Sydney Pork Rolls– Haymarket (Sunday lunch)

As we were planning to have all-you-can-eat hotpot for Sunday dinner, we thought we’d better have a lighter lunch. Our go-to budget light lunch venue is Banh Mis from Sydney Pork Roll on George Street! Their shop has gone through a bit of a refurb, as the service counter is now almost pushed right out onto the street, now like a hole in the wall where you place your orders and watch your banh mi being created from scratch (the ladies asking you if you want chilli in your rolls). The humble pork roll has gone up in price to the round figure of 5 bucks, but where else can you be completely filled for $5? Today we just went with their traditional pork rolls without chilli (still a little traumatised from Belles Hot) and we took these babies back home to have.

We have to admit that the Banh Mis seemed to have less filling within them, compared to their $4.70 days. In the past shallots, coriander and pickled carrots would be falling out of the roll. And the paper-bag in which it came in, would be soggy from all the soya sauce and mayo which would leak out of it. But oddly this time our paper bags were dry and drippings-free. Despite the price hike and seemingly less ingredients, they still hit the spot!

Munich Brauhaus– The Rocks (Sunday Dinner)

After showing our uncle around the city on the ‘I’m Free Walking Tour’ which lasted from 2.30pm to 5pm, the tour finishing up at the Rocks – so it didn’t make any sense to try get back out of Circular Quay with Vivid about to start in a matter of minutes. So we decided to ditch the plans for hotpot back in Chinatown, and we ended up having Bavarian at The Rocks! But I have to admit, I was pretty devastated to find out that the iconic Lowenbrau Keller was gone, taken over by ‘The Bavarian’ chain of restaurants- the Lowenbrau replacement, named Munich Brauhaus. The signs which you could tell that they’re not the same, is when you hear the staffs’ Aussie accents and the music they played was just popular pop-music. But we tried not to let these changes dampen our night, so best way to combat disappointment was with a platter consisting of 5 different ways to consume pork (sausages; slow-cooked with crackling; the whole knuckle; braised with smoky sauce; and inside a fluffy Chinese Bao). And for good measure we ordered sides of sauerkraut and red cabbage, and as starters we had a soft pretzel each.

The food was soo good! The pretzel hit the spot after an afternoon of walking and building up a healthy appetite- the pretzel was quite salty from the large grains of salt and the salty melted butter. And the pork in all its forms were tasty! The star being the pork belly bao, while I’m sure the table next to us were able to hear us crunch into the pork crackling from the slow cooked pork belly.

The set menu for 3 was so large that we didn’t even attempt to tuck into the star of the platter, the pork knuckle, which was larger than my fist. In the end we had to doggy bag the pounds of meat, hopefully the once crunchy crackling wouldn’t be too disappointing after a night of refrigeration and microwave-ation. And when we were done, we shuffled our way along Circular Quay, following the seemingly hundreds of thousands of people who had also elected this night to check-out Vivid.

Now that’s some crazy 72 hours of eating! Now what I have to look forward to, is to squeeze back into my work pants on Tuesday morning. *Cries into hands*. But that’s a true ‘Weekend of Happy Returns’!

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