Ogalo- Sydney CBD

Could this be a ‘Golden Chook’ contender for Hamish & Andy’s 2019 Chicken Fest?

Sadly not, I was devastated to find out after our meal (when fact-checking) that Ogalo is in fact a franchise? Nooo! As I’ve ever only known the Ogalo Liverpool St store, near the corner of Pitt and Liverpool streets.

But inspired by Hamish & Andy’s pod, today I had an urge for the humble Chicken & Chips pairing – not exactly what you’d usually go looking for in da city on a Saturday lunch-time down in South CBD. And I was pretty surprised and relieved to find that Ogalo City was still operating (since other more famous Portuguese chicken shops had closed down in this area i.e. Nandos and Oportos).

And it’s a bit of a throw-back, the store was right out of the early 00s and great to see that their Chicken & Chips were still priced at their early 00s prices- $7.90 for Quarter Chicken & Chips with Gravy!? Bargain!

I ordered the Quarter Chicken & Chips (saying no to the drinks combo, as the can of coke were definitely priced at 2019 prices- $3 for a can of Coke? Crazy!). While my wife ordered the Ogalo Chicken Burger ($9.90).

After making your orders at the counter, you take a seat (if dining in), or stand about if you’re waiting for take-away (a 50/50 split dine-in vs take-away).

The food is prepared to order, and when your birds are ready, your number is called and you grab it from the counter and bring it back to your table. With plastic knife & fork (or fingers) you tuck on in.

The chips were ok, a little dry but quite crispy- with a salt and chicken salt mix. I had elected the Lemon & Herb rubbing/seasoning, which was flavoursome – making the chicken skin the clear ‘best part’ of the bird! I received a breast/wing quarter, so as expected the thicker part of the breast meat was a little dry, but closer to the wing it was tender and juicy!

My wife’s Chicken burger was a homely affair, lightly toasted burger bun, lettuce, cheese, mayo and a slice of grilled chicken (a little thin though). The burger was quite large (by circumference) but quite flat – thus easily passing the ‘Big bite’ test.

All in all, it wasn’t bad for a meal for 2 for under 20 bucks! And it’s good to see that shops like this – suburban feeling casual eateries, still operate in the heart of the CBD – providing city dwellers (and midnight revellers) a cheap and cheery option in the city. A shame though, that they’re too numerous and a chain – thus ineligible to be considered a contender for H&A’s Chicken Fest 2019.

Ogalo CBD- Saturday 12 October

http://www.ogalo.com.au/

PH: (02) 9264 0060

Shop B/127 Liverpool Street, Sydney

Sun-Fri 10.30am – 11pm

Sat 10.30am – 4am

Fish & Co. – Haymarket

…Where we aim to use 3 ingredients or less! Yes/No?

So after our intel-gathering visit to ‘Maker’s Dozen’ the previous night, we headed back to The Exchange food hall today for some lobster. Yum!

If you’re keeping proper count, we’ve reached the halfway point in attempting to eat at/drink at all 12 establishments in the bee hive. So Fish & Co. goes down as the 6th, and the first time we’ve walked away from Maker’s, feeling slightly underwhelmed.

Located on the northern end of the food court is Fish & Co., a two store chain (the other is at the Tramshed) restaurant-eatery which prides itself from sourcing its produce direct from wild fisherman.

Their menu reads like the blue ribbon section of a seafood store, e.g. lobster rolls, fresh oysters, scallop rolls, shrimp cocktail rolls, and freshly caught fish to go with your chippies.

And since it was Maine Lobster Rolls which caught our eye last night (we’ve had a proper Maine Lobster Roll when in the US), we definitely had to order that ($19.00), and since we wanted to try the best that they could offer, we also opted for the Chobster i.e. a lobster cheese toasty ($18.00).

After making our orders, there was a slight wait of 10 minutes before our food was brought out to us on cardboard trays. Lifting them up to gage its substantialness or lack thereof, unfortunately it barely moved the needle on the weigh and pay scales.

For my Maine Lobster Roll, it was served in a hot dog style brioche bun. Lining the bottom of the bun was lettuce, and positioned on top were strips of chilled lobster flesh. A squeeze of lemon gave it a slight flavour enhancement, but aside from these 2 ingredients a splattering of crinkle cut chips was the totality of a dollar change after handing over $20.

My wife’s Chobster was a toasted lobster cheese sandwich. A meagre serving of lobster strips, then cheese and lettuce and there you go, the 3 ingredients which made up the totality of a $18 sandwich. Although for my wife it was filling enough – but in her opinion it was not the best way to showcase a premium produce like lobster, as it was lost and overcooked in the cheese toasting process.

As my wife’s lobster was wasted among cheese and a sandwich press, so my boiled lobster was also wasted. It was fresh, and the lack of dressing and competing flavours enabled the lobster to be centre-stage. However in the opinion of any Asian, a boiled lobster is generally wasted, compared to the Asian style of cooking lobster (baked and then fried in battered sauce).

Our end verdict? 3.0 Stars from 5 (2 from 3 for Food (premium produce! But the presentation was too simple in our opinion, a home cook with equally fresh produce could have easily replicated this offering at home); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the staff were polite and efficient); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (a month into Maker’s Dozen’s existence, and the place still feels new and funky); and 0 from 1 for Value for Money (I understand that we’re getting lobster here, but $37 for 2 people before any sides or drinks? And I’m still feeling hungry? That’s not value for money in our opinion)).

In conclusion, the menu reads a lot better than it tastes when served up on a plate …..Sorry, I mean cardboard tray. Although their mission is noble, being a sustainable restaurant, but sometimes you also need to give the patron what they want! A substantial meal, and some flavour please! If I’m seemingly looking like I’m trying to wrap up this blog post quick-smart….. You wouldn’t be wrong in guessing that, I’m just trying to get offline so I can grab a snack or something, ’cause I’m still hungry! Grrrr.

Fish & Co. – Saturday 5 October (3.0 Stars)

https://fishandco.com.au/

PH: 02 9518 6868

Makers Dozen food hall, The Exchange Building, 1 Little Pier Street, Haymarket

Mon-Sun 11am – 9pm

Made in China Dumpling Bar- Haymarket

Made in China they’re not, but that’s a good thing! Right?

We’re home-bodies on Friday-Saturday nights, as who likes the crowds if you have a choice? But tonight we headed out to the happening part of town – Darling Square!  After dark it’s a whole different scene out there, gone are the young families, replaced by workers, young couples/groups, and people out for a bite before enjoying a night on the town!

After checking out ‘Maker’s Dozen’ after dark and finding that most places were crowded, we headed over to Steam Mill Lane, which has lost some of its foot traffic since the other 3 sides of the Square have opened up.

And located at the mid-way point of the Lane is ‘Made in China Dumpling Bar’. I had a mini craving for dumplings after Hamish & Andy’s week long ‘Special skill’ test of one man’s ability to blind taste ‘Dimmies’, so I’m pretty sure that any fan of the H&A show must have eaten steamed dumplings at least one meal in the past fortnight?

So with dim-sum cravings we naturally checked out the ‘Made in China’s menu – they do try to play it up, bringing Australiana and Urban lingo to the otherwise FOB cuisine. So setting foot in their little store, we had some high expectations that their dumpling offerings were going to be a stand-out from your run-of-the-mill Chinatown dumpling place.

We ordered the Rainbow Dumpling Platter (10 pieces) – $13.00, and a Wonton Big Bento Box- $13.50. And after making our orders at the counter, there are choices of 4 seating spots- 2 tables for 3, a table for 2, and a bench spot for 3 to sit side by side. As all the tables were taken, we naturally took the bench for 3, and with our backs to the rest of the store we took in the store’s ambiance – it’s kind of cool with graffiti decor, and Anglo pop-music/hip hop playing.

And although they had a few orders on the pass, sitting next to the kitchen we didn’t hear too much activity in there. The entire chef’s line consisted of one Mandarin speaking cook, and the dude who took our orders helped out and was the totality of front-of-shop. After a few alarms had gone off, indicating that someone’s dumplings had reached the right amount of steaming, our food was brought out to us.

The only colours missing from the rainbow dumplings were orange, purple and blue, but I got to hand it to them, they did manage to present red, yellow and green dumplings! Just like the wonky RAG status colour coding from Smartsheet! The texture of the dumpling wrappers were the star, they were the perfect thickness and they were nice and chewy. However the fillings within red, yellow and white dumplings all tasted the same (a bit on the salty side as well). While the green dumpling was the only dumpling which tasted different from its dumpling brethren, with strong flavours of fresh chives.

On the other hand, the Dumpling bento box was a rainbow of flavours i.e. there had to be more than 5 distinct flavours!

There were 2 Prawn wontons (which were the stand-out from all the wrapped steamed meat tonight) which had nice prawn-y flavours; there was 2 pan fried (it could have been deep fried they were so crunchy) Xiao Long Bao which tasted a bit like packet goods; a halved boiled egg; an entire bunch of Bok Choy; and a serving of spicy dry noodles! Ok, that’s exactly 5 different flavours, not quite 6- but close enough? Right?

Our end verdict? 4.0 Stars from 5! (2 from 3 for Food (the food wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but it was better than your average Chinatown dumpling offering); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the dude was chilled and friendly, and when they weren’t serving customers it seemed like cook and front of house were getting along real well – giggling to each other all night long. Haaha); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (at least they’re trying something new with the menu names and the overall feel of the store – it should be called China meets Urban Dumpling Bar!); and 1 from 1 for Food (In the end mains under $15 bucks, that’s not too bad for the city these days)).

In conclusion, we went in with some scepticism, when ever you try to funk-up or make-cool something which has never been, and manage to pull it off? Some credit must be given where it’s due!*Nods*. The food was tasty enough, we split everything so it felt like we had a lot of variety, and in the end we were quite full after handing over only $26.50 for 2. Not bad, not bad.

Made in China Dumpling Bar- Friday 4 October (4.0 Stars).

https://www.facebook.com/madeinchinadumplingbar/

Shop 7, 9 Steam Mill Lane, Haymarket

Mon-Sun 10am – 8pm

Sweet Things- Vanilla Slice/Banoffee Cream Pie- Saga Lyte

Makers Dozen Food Hall, the Exchange Building, 1 Little Pier Street, Haymarket

Wanting an arvo pick-me-up, we headed to our new favourite ‘go-to’ (Makers Dozen Food court), this time to try out Andy Bowdy’s Saga Lyte pastry store!

Before getting there, I was telling my wife that I was craving a good old Vanilla slice, so naturally when we saw one on offer, I grabbed it! Vanilla Slice- $8.50.

While my wife couldn’t pass on the Banoffee Cream Pie ($8.50).

The humble Vanilla slice re-imagined, I’d say was the best description of Bowdy’s creation. What you’d usually expect as the top, i.e. the layer of yellow passion fruit icing, now that was the base of the slice, spread with the custard layer, then a layer of cream piped onto it, topped off by a thin layer of puff pastry and crunchy caramel bits. It was rich, the custard layer was like eating a dense vanilla ice cream, so prepared to put in an extra hour at the gym to burn off the calories from this decadent dessert.

The Banoffee Cream Pie had a thick chocolate tart base smeared with a layer of salted caramel. Cutting a good cross section including the base and the creamy filling was a must – allowing the salty/bitter base to cut through the sweetness of the creams. The pie filling consisted of fresh banana layered on top of the base, followed by a creamy banana mousse and a cream which was similar to the cream off the Vanilla slice.  Again, a ‘lyte’ in calorie meal for dinner is recommended to off-set some of the consumed calories from this wicked tart.

All in all, a nice treat when paired with a cup of their coffee! And if you’re keeping track, that’s 5 from 12 offerings we’ve tried from the Maker’s Dozen.   

101 Kissa- Chippendale

How many times does it need to occur, before we deem it a trend?

Traipsing through Darling Square, Haymarket and Ultimo to Chippendale, we found that our lunch destination had closed down. Boo! RIP Nighthawk diner.

So finding ourselves on Abercrombie Street without a plan, we walked until we found something which caught our eye. Lucky for us, in a one block radius there were 2 cafes and 2 pubs, and with the wall to wall glass frontage, this one seemed inviting enough.

“Hey, I think you have this on your list”, (my wife referring to the now dwindling list of restaurants I wanted to try), and she was right, 101 Kissa was no. 46 on my list.

We were immediately seen to a table for 4 (although it was only the two of us), but we were grateful for the extra space as the table space was very tight in there (unable to even fit both legs between the parallels of the table legs). We had a small (but healthy) marital bicker, whether or not to order 3 mains to share or just two- but I won out! Woohoo! We ordered the Spicy Crab & Eel Omelette for my wife (Japanese eel, crab meat, organic quinoa, broccoli, crispy nori, with spicy dressing) – $16.90; Seasoned Fruit Porridge for me (organic oats and muesli, fresh berries, banana, pistachio, rose maple syrup) – $12.50; and a Matcha French Toast to share (grilled banana, ruby pear, mixed berries, orange peel, matcha mascarpone, pistachio and matcha glaze) – $16.90.

The trade-off for ordering 3 mains, was that we passed on the cold pressed juices (which didn’t have a price against them). So we just got table water. Not all that sure though, why the water glasses came in different sizes? *Shrugs*.

But you can almost guess who got to drink from the smaller cup? And who wears the pants in our family……. At least I got more water top-ups! Haaha.

As we waited for our food, we took in the ambiance of the place. They had a funky but calming English playlist going on; it was light and airy with bay windows open, allowing a nice cross-breeze; and with an open kitchen we could hear our food being freshly prepared and cooked (hearing the eggs for the omelette bubbling away in the frying pan).

After the table of four next to us got their food, our mains arrived one at a time. First to arrive was my Season Fruit Porridge (we suspect they were meant to say ‘Seasonal’ fruit).

And after mixing in the fruit compote (which came in a porcelain cup) into the warm just-right porridge, I was good to go! There was a thin wafer, almost as thin as rice paper which tasted like banana. Mmmmm. And with the fresh fruits (banana, blueberries, strawberries and grape) mixed in with the sweetened porridge, it was perfect! I’d been craving porridge for a while now, as I spend a night a week at my folks’ place, and they start each morning with their oats (which I don’t partake in), so I’d been craving this hot breakfast for a while, and it def hit the spot!

My wife’s Crab & Eel Omelette was tasty, with diced pieces of eel, a spicy sauce smeared on the plate for you to sweep your forkful over if you so choose (and we chose to). And taste-testing a single forkful of her eel, omelette, and the spicy sauce? It was real tasty! Yum! And if the warm food wasn’t enough, it also came with a toasted mini Croissant. **Comment: However, my wife didn’t taste any of the promised crab, nor quinoa.

And as a share dish, we tucked into the Matcha French Toast.

I opted to mix-up my sweets with more sweets- electing to have my portion of the French toast halfway into my porridge. While my wife left her sweets till the end, like a dessert. The thick cut French toast was sliced into quarters, each cube topped off with fresh fruits, which sat on top of a smear of Matcha mascarpone. Mmmmm. From their menu description, it mentioned berries, banana and pears as the fresh fruit selection? But today, we received the berries and the banana, but insert grapefruit instead of pear. And the grapefruit worked a treat actually, the bitterness of the GF offset the sweetness of the mascarpone.

Our end verdict? 4.0 Stars from 5! (2.5 from 3 for Food (When we had finished the meal, we had scored them a full 3 marks for food. However after taking a pic of the menu and studying it now, there were elements in the description which didn’t match what we had- the largest let down was the lack of crab in the Crab & Eel omelette. But other than that, the food and flavours were perfect!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the waitress was polite and efficient); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (everyone in the café were enjoying themselves, it had a real chilled vibe to the place which helped us feel like we were out of da city); and 0.5 from 1 for Value for Money (the omelette and porridge was priced appropriately for what we received, however the $16.90 for the French toast was a bit steep, for essentially one slice of bread dipped in egg, topped off by fruit)).

In conclusion, it was a nice unplanned outcome, we had planned to eat fatty American grub, but instead we had a pretty healthy Asian-fusion café breakfast! So how often does something need to occur, before you note it down as a trend? In the past 9 months or so, 3 different cafes have opened up in the Ultimo/Chippendale area. All of which have been funky western feeling Asian-fusion cafes, all owned by native-speaking Mandarin youngsters? We know how handy Mandos are behind the wok, with all the Chinese hot-pot/dumpling/Sichuan restaurants out there, but I think this is a very cool and emerging trend- where young Mandos are branching out and putting together inventive menus which are Asian twists on your favourite Western cafe staples.  This is a trend we like, and hope it stays, thrives and grows in Ol’ Sydney Town!

101 Kissa- Saturday 14 September (4.0 Stars).

https://www.facebook.com/101kissa/

PH: (02) 8317 4088

94A Abercrombie Street, Chippendale

Mon-Fri 7am – 4pm

Sat-Sun 8pm – 4pm

Table booking is advised.       

Chat Thai- Haymarket

The original and the best!

I’m pretty good with my history of the CBD, being a kid who grew up hanging around the city streets from the early 90s – present. But even I have no clue what is the answer to this question, which came first? Chat Thai? Or the establishment of Thainatown in Campbell St? But not knowing the answer to this chicken or egg riddle, I still think Chat Thai is the original and the best!

As much as we hate waiting in line for food, we were willing to make this exception if it was for the best Thai in all of Australia! And when we were seen to our table for two, we then had to make the difficult decision of choosing what to eat/drink. So many choices, so many choices!

We ended up ordering a drink to share (Lodt Shong Singapore- $5.50); for my wife the Guay Tiew Larb ($12.00); and for me the Sokho Thai noodle soup ($12.00).

As we waited for the food to arrive, we took in the ambiance- each table was full of happy patrons all enjoying their late Sunday lunch. And listening in on conversations around us, each table of diners were all speaking a different language- Eat Thai has transcended all cultural barriers!

After a short wait, our drink arrived.

The Lodt Shong Singapore is a coconut milk with silky pandan dumplings. Sipping it through the thick straw, the flavours of the coconut and pandan all mixed together into a tasty concoction- neither coconut nor pandan overwhelmed the other flavour. And what are pandan dumplings, I hear you ask? Imagine the Chinese pudding on the square Styrofoam trays? Picture that tasty treat, but sliced up into thin 2 inch strips and poured into a glass of coconut milk. Each sip would bring up a chilled mouthful of milk and 2-3 strips of pandan flavoured jelly to chew on. Yum!

The first of the mains to arrive was my Sokho Thai soup noodle, it was like a ‘Special noodle soup’ from a Canto noodle soup store i.e. it had everything in it! I believe there were 2 different types of fish balls (one fried, the other not), minced pork, sliced pork, sliced fish tofu, peanuts, herbs, bean sprouts, and a generous serving of thin noodles, all of which was floating in a hot and sour soup, which was at the perfect level of spicyness! I enjoyed this dish, because it had a little bit of everything, making each mouthful interesting.

My wife’s Guay Tiew Larb was thin rice noodles, with minced chicken and pork offal, in spicy and sour larb flavoured soup. Her soup was a spice level higher than mine, as there were several times she had to down-tools and clear her sinuses. Haaha.  She described it like a typical Larb, but served as a soup noodle. But she was happy with her dish, as she’s a fan of the ‘nose to tail’ approach, not wasting any part of an animal if it was remotely edible.

Our end verdict? 5 from 5 Stars! 3 from 3 for food (each element on our plate was perfect! We couldn’t fault it at all!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (although we had to wait a little, however the service staff kept checking up on us, giving us an ETA on when our table was available and she seemed about to go above and beyond to see to our needs); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (A bustling restaurant is enough for full marks, but they also had a catchy Thai pop playlist playing as well!); and 1 from 1 for Value for Money (Under $30 for 2 mains and a drink to share!? That is such great value, you honestly can’t get this level of quality for this price anywhere else in Sydney!)).

In conclusion, we haven’t given a restaurant the full 5 stars in a long while, as when it comes down to it- we’re pretty stingy scorers. But when we have a totally satisfying meal, which ticks all the boxes? Yeah, we’re more than happy to sing their praises and award them with the highest honour. 5/5! In Sydney we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to Thai, but in our opinion Chat Thai will always be the original and the best!

Chat Thai- Sunday 8 September (5.0 Stars).

https://www.chatthai.com.au

PH: (02) 8317 4811

20 Campbell Street, Haymarket

Mon-Sun 10am – 11.30pm, 12midnight – 2am.