Two Sticks- Haymarket

Are the chopsticks really the most distinctive feature of the two sticks experience?

Oddly on a Friday night, Two Sticks seemed like a quiet haven from the hustle and bustle of da city- with music playing at low tones, patrons sparsely sprinkled around the collection of round tables, and the diners all having their low volume conversations.

It has been several years since we’ve last dined at the Sticks, and we noticed a few changes i.e. the store has now taken over the shop to its right; they’ve introduced a ‘Value meal’ – a choice of A and B, or A and C; and we had a debate about whether or not the pots had changed as well?

But after labouring over the Value meal ( a choice of 3 soup noodles from section A; a choice of a handful of sides in section B; or a choice of one of 2 drinks in section C), in the end we decided to just order from the regular menu. I ordered the Signature Rice Noodle Soup ($13.80); my wife wanted the Tomato Beef but they’d run out, so she ended up ordering the Pork Ribs Rice Noodle Soup ($13.80); and a serving of the Spicy Chicken Wings to share ($5.80 for 5 mid-wings). Orders and payment were made at the front counter and tap water was a self-service affair.

After returning with her water in a plastic disposable cup, we sat back and took in Two Sticks – 6 years since it first opened in 2013. At that time, Two Sticks was a recommendation from my good mate, his wife was a trending Foodie and had been invited as a guest to dine at the Sticks when it first opened.

At the time, their uniqueness was the fact that your food was served up un-cooked, and in front of you the waiter would tip your plate of uncooked ingredients into your piping hot pot of soup (in the process, cracking a quail egg in as well) and you wait as the once boiling hot soup cooked your meat and egg to a level where it was safe to eat.

But those were the days of Two Sticks in the mid-2010s, these days the pot is served up with all your ingredients already in your pot all cooked and ready to eat (although the ceramic pot is still hot enough to garner a ‘hot pot’ warning from the waitress after she placed it in front of us).

The point of argument between my wife and I, was that I swear the pots used to be taller, less squat, and were made from terracotta, instead of these ceramic squat pots? *Shrugs*. But armed with a long-handled soup ladle and your two sticks, you go fishing for food from your squat narrow-opening pot, like ice fishing it is!

In my Signature Rice Noodle dish, there were circular rice noodles, strips of bean curd, coriander, black fungus, thin sliced rare beef, and 2 (yes, count them!) – 2 hardboiled quail eggs! All of which were floating in a pot of tasty thin soup.

My wife’s Pot is the one pictured above, she had all the same core ingredients as I, however her soup was red tinged due to the spiciness, and instead of having rare beef she had pork ribs. Many many pieces they gave her, they did.

And the wings, it reminded me of the charcoal grilled chicken wings you used to be able to get from Pizza Hut? The skin was charred to a crisp, and dusted with chilli powder. Mmmmmm.

Our verdict? 4.0 From 5 Stars! (2.5 from 3 for Food (everything was tasty and they were very generous with their portions, my pot felt like the magical pot! There was always another spoonful of food, just when you thought you were finished!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (all the staff were polite and efficient); 0 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the music was only playing in the front half of the store, and the shop fittings felt a little tired and worn after 6 years); and 1.0 from 1.0 for Value for Money (2 quail eggs? Ridiculous! And recently we’ve eaten at a few restaurants at this price point, but I’ve left feeling the most full and satisfied after our time at Two Sticks!)).

In conclusion, after 5 and 1 years, Two Sticks does feel a bit frayed around the edges, and the number of clientele on a Friday night (it was probably 60% full) was a reflection of this. But after all these years, the quality of food has remained at the same high level, although not served up in the same way as before. And I don’t know why, each time I think of their name Two Sticks, I always think to myself……Really? Are the chopsticks really the most distinctive feature of the Two Sticks experience? If I was in the marketing department, I’d suggest ‘Squat Pot – Long-handle Ladle’ (spoken out loud in the same cadence as Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo- by the Blood Hound Gang), or perhaps ‘2 Eggs’? As who else serves you 2 quail eggs in each serving of food? Count them! 2!  Ridiculous!

Two Sticks- Friday 16 August (4.0 Stars)

PH: 0420 944 532

694 George Street, Haymarket

Mon-Sun 11.30am – 9pm

1915 Lanzhou Beef Noodles- Sydney CBD

Are unexpected meals the best?

Sundays in the city is a weird time of the week to be looking for lunch in Sydney, as you can’t always predict which restaurant would be open for trade on the day of rest. After finding that our top 3 choices were closed on Sundays (the newly opened Jiang Nan Gallery included) we decided to try 1915 Lanzhou Beef Noodles- a smaller restaurant situated on the ground floor of the World Square precinct (Liverpool-Pitt Street quadrant).

I’m suspecting that this space was originally designed for a now defunct clothing store? As after taking a few steps in, then there are two steps down into the dining portion of the store with a mat haphazardly covering plastic water pipes leading to and from the kitchen. We were immediately seen to our table and we studied the menu. What attracted us to 1915 Lanzhou Beef Noodles, was the promise of ….. Beef noodles I guess. *Shrug*.

On the menu there were options of various soup noodles, dry noodles, and gravy noodles, and once you’ve chosen your level of noodle saturation, then it was time to elect your chilli level (full or less)- then it’s the choice of your wheat noodles to be rounded or flat, and the diameter or width.

Placing your order and payment was made back at the front counter, and we elected Lanzhou Beef Soup Noodles ($12.90) at the less chilli level with a rounded “trihedron” noodle; Combination Lanzhou Gravy and Beef Mince Noodle ($13.90) at the less chilli level with a flat 1.5cm width noodle; for drinks, a Herbal Tea ($3.50); and for dessert, Fermented Glutinous Rice with Beaten Egg in Milk ($5.80).

And as we were taking in the surrounds, already our orders started to arrive.

First to arrive was the Herbal Tea, which came in a soda can, with what my wife labelled as an “evil plastic straw”, but at least it was a bendy plastic straw!

The mindset I was taking this arvo, was to order everything which sounded out-of-the-ordinary, as I was telling my wife “I doubt I’d ever be back” so order all the weird stuff! But the tea wasn’t weird, it was just like a grass jelly drink, minus the jelly.

And literally within the same minute our dessert also arrived.

We left this to the end, so I’ll describe it for you after the mains. But as we were lining up the drink and dessert soup for their glamour shots the mains also arrived- piping hot, I must stress!

The Lanzhou Beef Noodles was the restaurant’s signature dish and the shop’s name-sake. When it was my turn to tuck in, I first tried the beef broth- the most distinct taste was the flavour of coriander (which I don’t mind), the beef was a brisket sliced into thin slices, and the noodles were nice and chewy. The flavour profile tasted a bit like Vietnamese pho, with the same elements, but served up in a Chinese style (and spicy).

The Combination Lanzhou Gravy and Beef Mince, was best of both worlds from the non-soup base portion of the menu- I think they literally mixed two dishes together! As there were so many elements dispersed among my plate- there were slices of beef brisket, beef mince, cauliflower, tofu, black fungus, herbs, and a saucy gravy coating everything? My scarf had a firsthand experience of that gravy coating. *covers face with hands*, when I attempted to unravel a clump of flat noodles, but to be splashed by a pretty generous flick of gravy sauce. I guess better on the dark-coloured cashmere Ralph Lauren scarf, than on the light-coloured Versace shirt. Haaha. But after that, I learnt my lesson and I was more careful with picking up the noodles. The taste was good, the lesser chilli meant that the Sichuan tongue numbing feeling was there, but not so overwhelming to ruin everything else. The OD mixture of ingredients meant that each scoop was a little bit different from the last, and the noodles were nice – clearly handmade, but a bit stodgy in parts.

And when we were done with our mains, we tried the dessert – Fermented Glutinous Rice with Beaten Egg in Milk. When it was served up, it was warm, but by the time we got to it, it was room temp. The soup was thin, not thick like a Canto dessert soup. It had a unique flavour, from the Fermented Glutinous Rice, and each scoop of the spoon brought up different floating bits. Your spoon might dredge up a portion of the boiled scrambled egg (either yoke or white), or you might come up with the glutinous rice, and/or peanuts, and/or sultanas, and/or goji berries – that added a different type of sweetness to the dish. In the end, I think the dessert will be what we’d most remember from our time at 1915 Lanzhou Beef Noodles.

Our end verdict, 4.0 from 5 Stars! (2.5 from 3 for Food (in the end everything was tasty, cooked well, and it was out-of-the-ordinary for your typical Chinese handmade noodle joint); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the staff were all polite and efficient); 0 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (it wouldn’t be too shabby if located in the heart of Chinatown, but it was on the shabbier end of the spectrum for World Square standards); and 1 from 1 for Value for Money (well  sized mains at the $13 price-point, and a dessert and a drink for $36.10 total? That’s pretty good!)).

In conclusion, sometimes an unplanned meal is the best, as you have close to no expectations- so more often than not, you’ll leave pleasantly surprised. And that was how we felt when we left 1915 Lanzhou Beef Noodles, tummies filled with Lanzhou Beef Noodles. Although we enjoyed ourselves today, but it is sobering to see how World Square’s variety is slowly being eroded. As one by one, all of the original restaurants who opened their doors when the World Square first came into being – one-by-one they are closing down, to be replaced by another Chinese restaurant. Nandos, the most recent closure, to be replaced by another bubble tea store. *Headshake*. Isn’t it ironic, World Square, supposedly being a sample of what’s going on in the wider world? The gradual expansion of China into every corner of the world (have you seen the Huawei Youtube ad?), and soon the entire world – and World Square might be better known as China Square?

1915 Lanzhou Beef Noodles- Sunday 11 August (4.0 Stars).

PH: (02) 8592 3617

Shop 17, Ground Floor, World Square, 123 Liverpool Street, Sydney

Mon-Sun 11am – 9pm

Killiney Kopitiam- Chippendale

Singaporean cheap eatery touches down in Sydney! Is it as good and as cheap as it’s hyped up to be?

After almost being blown away by Antarctic winds, we made it to Central Park Chippendale – where in the former site of Fogo (Brazilian BBQ restaurant) Sydney’s first Killiney Kopitiam has opened up!

I’ve read a few glowing reviews prior, both praising the original Killiney Kopitiam on Killiney Rd Singapore, and raving on about Killiney Kopitiam Chippendale, so naturally our expectations were set pretty high.

At around 1.30pm on a Saturday afternoon, the place was probably less than half full? We were quickly seen to a table for 2 in the front portion of the inner restaurant. After studying each menu item (it’s a one pager) we settled on our choices and my wife headed over to the self-service kiosk to place our orders.

My wife elected for herself the Seafood Laksa ($12.50), Chicken Curry Roti for me ($12.50), and for drinks a Hot Kopi For her ($3.70), and an Ice Coconut drink for moi ($4.00).

And as we waited for our food, we took in the atmosphere of Killiney Kopitiam – the shop was a large and airy space, brown woods and gold trimming were the interior theme, with partitioned booths for larger groups further back into the restaurant, and smaller two-seater tables for the couples in the front portion. On the tables were a serviette dispenser and a tub of all your cutlery in multiples of 7, while over the sound-system they were playing a modern Western pop playlist.

After a wait of around 10 minutes, first to arrive was my wife’s Seafood Laksa.

One question that was running through my mind was, how large would the servings be? -if they wanted to keep their prices down, while trying to survive in Sydney. The size of the Laksa was a size smaller than we’d like it to be, but it wasn’t any run-of-the-mill Laksa, instead of egg noodles or the usual thin rice noodle, it was a noodle shaped like hokkien noodles but they were white in colour; and the seafood was fresher than what you’d usually be served up floating in your laksa broth at this price – prawns, mussels, scallops, and fish were your deep sea selection. And from all accounts, the Laksa broth was spicier than the usual offering as well! Yum!

Next to arrive was my wife’s Hot Kopi.

The Kopi is a Singaporean coffee, which was strong – we could smell the bitter burnt coffee flavour as soon as it was set down. With the sweetened condensed milk mixed in, the bitterness and sweet balanced themselves out. Caffeine-hit strong enough to deter any thoughts of a lazy Saturday afternoon post-lunch nap. Hehehe.

And after the first two items had arrive my wife was all set, but in front of me was still an empty table setting. Boo! But my Ice Coconut drink arrived shortly after.

I don’t know what I was thinking, hearing the words ice and coconut, I pictured shaved ice and a creamy coconut milk? But probs better that I was on the wrong wave-length (as it was too cold for a proper ice drink), instead the Ice Coconut drink was essentially young coconut juice with ice cubes (odd to make mention to the ice cubes in the name of the drink, isn’t it a given?). At first sip it tasted more than just your standard young coconut juice, as I thought there was a hint of a syrup mixed through it to add an extra sweetness and a slightly different flavour? But I’m not sure now, when consuming the large chunks of young coconut flesh at the end, one piece tasted a little over-ripe (a little alcoholic). Maybe perhaps that fruity-alcoholic taste was from that piece of over-ripe coconut?*Shrug*. But I enjoyed the drink all the same.

And the last to arrive was my Chicken Curry Roti.

And I have to clarify, from the time the first dish arrived, and when my Roti made its final touchdown- it was only 5 mins from start to finish? However with all the glorious food smells about, a 5 minute wait felt punishingly long. Haaha. But it was well and truly worth the wait, as the Roti was fresh from being touched by fire! I’d never had such flaky and blistered roties before! You can see it in the pic above, the outer layer was all puffed up, super crunchy, and it smelt sooo good! The aroma of buttery pastries. Mmmm.

In terms of portioning, I had expected only one roti cut into quarters? For $12.90 that is all you’d usually get for that price point. But I got 3 roties! Count them! 3! The bowl of Curry was reasonably sized, although there were only a few pieces of chicken, but who cares! Count them! 3 pieces of roti!!!!!

So tucking in with fingers, I tore at the hot flaky pastries, getting oils and crumbs all over my fingers- but I didn’t care, if eating was this good! Dipping the roti into the curry, and taking my first bite? Oh my goodness, my eyes probably rolled back into my head, the curry at first taste was quite spicy. So spicy that where the curry dribbled down my lip, it left a trail of burn (but with subsequent bites, it didn’t feel that chilli chilli anymore). It was super tasty though, and because they gave you so many pieces, I didn’t have to ration my roties-  instead I ate with gusto, ending up with bigger and bigger pieces towards the end of the meal, using it to soak up the curry, and still having enough roti that I could be generous and offer up pieces to my wife to try! #Satisfying!

On the other hand, the chicken was a bit bony, like the dregs at the bottom of the pot. However it was cooked perfectly, being tender, without being dry or tough. There weren’t that many pieces and only 2 squares of potato, but it was fine, in the end the star of the dish was the roti! And I was so full when I finally put my cutlery down for the last time, i.e. scrubbing my oily fingers clean for the very last time.

Our end verdict? 4.0 From 5! (2.5 from 3 for Food (the food was a step above other Malaysian/Singaporean restaurants in this price-point, the produce was fresher and the flavours more authentic); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (it was fitted-out nicely, the music gave the somewhat empty place atmosphere); 0 from 0.5 for Service (being self-service e.g. ordering kiosk and all of your cutlery was already there- definitely limited any interaction with staff. The longest interaction, was the 3 seconds the service staff hung around at your table, just to ensure that the dish that they’d just placed in front of you didn’t go spinning off your table from their haste to see to other things); and 1.0 from 1.0 for Value for Money (In this day and age, to have a main and a drink each and still have the grand total under $35! Not to mention how full we were at the end? That’s value in my language!)).

In conclusion, we came to Killiney Kopitiam with pretty high hopes, as they’ve been doing their thang for 100 years! But they met and exceeded our expectations! Hey! There were 3 roties! Count them! 3! The food wasn’t as gourmet as some Malaysian/Singaporean restaurants in Sydney have made Malaysian/Singaporean food to be, but as a cheap eatery, it didn’t need to be. My one and only concern is Killiney Kopitiam’s sustainability in Sydney’s food market, as for a cheap-eat to thrive, they need the volume of sales. Although it was slightly past the usual lunch hour, but having a 60% empty restaurant on a Saturday? I just hope they’re turning over enough to cover their costs, as I’d love to come back again and again to Killiney Kopitiam! Try it if you haven’t already! Singapore at your doorstep!

Killiney Kopitiam- Saturday 10 August (4.0 Stars).

PH: (02) 8317 6344

Shop 11, Lower Ground Floor, Central Park Mall, 28 Broadway, Chippendale

Mon-Sun 11.30am – 9.30pm

Ume Burger- Barangaroo

Japanese meets American fast-food, a marriage made in heaven?

After attending a wedding in this part of town, we made best use of this opportunity to finally try Ume (pronounced U-me) Burger, our first ever meal in the Barangaroo precinct!

There’s something special about the whole Barangaroo area, we’ve checked it out when it first opened to the public like 2 years ago. And at that time, it felt semi-incomplete. However, now that most residents and businesses have been calling this place home for a couple of years, everything feels nice and established, while still having that nice and fresh feel about it! Lining Wulugul Walk, set back far enough from the path not to hear the foot traffic, while still close enough to the action to get the hub-bub, are all the restaurants facing out to the water. The Ume Burger counters were nearly empty by this time (2.15pm) so we simply studied their menu, and stepped up to the polite Japanese waitress and made our orders.

For me, I ordered the Menchi Katsu burger ($14.80); my wife ordered the Fish Katsu burger ($15.00); a regular serving of the Hot chips ($3.20); and a house made Strawberry vanilla soda ($6.00) to share.

And after taking our table number, we found ourselves some seats in their dining area and took in the Ume/Barangaroo atmosphere for the first time. The dining area is all under cover, but with high ceilings and the angle of the sunlight, it felt like we were sitting in the open air. Just like King Street Wharf or Darling Quarter, but everything was just that little bit newer and less run down?

The house made Strawberry vanilla (with strawberry puree and vanilla bean) was bottled and it was nice – a cross between a natural fruit juice and a soda. Not too sweet, with subtle flavours, and thirst-quenching. A little pricey at $6, but still worth it! (Even if it only inspires us for a future ‘Drink of the Month’ creation).

And in less than 10 minutes our burgers and fries were delivered to our table.

My Menchi Katsu burger consisted of handmade pork katsu, mild mustard, tonkatsu sauce, mayo, Spanish onion and shredded cabbage. Me-thinks it’s all in the wording of the menu that makes food sound a little bit classy! Although stripping it down, it was basically a twist on the humble McDonalds McChicken burger. The burger itself wasn’t all that large but it was tall. To fit it in between top and bottom teeth, a bit of compression of the fluffy brioche bun was required, and once you got your teeth wrapped around it, it was very easy to get a bite with all the fillings! As mentioned before, it’s all about the use of words in the description, “hand made pork katsu” sounds a lot classier than “minced pork”, which is basically what the protein was. But it was covered in a thin katsu crumb, seasoned perfectly with pepper – reminded me of the flavour profile of a McChicken burger. And all of the onions and cabbage were fresh, although I didn’t taste much of the mustard sauce.

When my wife and I swapped bites, her Fish Katsu burger (hand-crumbed fish fillet, Japanese tartare sauce, iceberg lettuce and cheese) was quite flat in comparison.  Like a Macca’s fish burger, and the actual crumbed fried fish fillet was particularly thin. The strongest flavour was from the cheese, and again it felt like taking a Fillet-O-fish, and making small modifications by replacing the usual ingredients with something Japanese-y.

Mean while, the fries were your standard affair, not shoe-stringed nor thick cut, but it had a dusting of umami seasoning …..Sorry, I forgot to add its full menu description, with “natural umami seasoning”. Again, the only Japanese twist on the standard hot chips were the seasoning – hard to describe, but it was nice, a little earthy tasting?

And when we were done with our meals, we took a leisurely stroll back to our end of da city, and that was a nice way to while away the late afternoon.

Our end verdict, 3.5 Stars from 5. (2 from 3 for Food (the burgers were good enough, they weren’t amazing, but good enough. While the Japanese twists on basically the McDonalds’ menu was unique, I can see it falling out of favour quite quickly); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the staff were both polite and efficient); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (although their musical playlist was only loud enough to be heard by the staff situated behind the service counter, who really needs music if you’ve got harbour views right in front of you!); and 0.5 from 1 for Value for Money (we’re pretty used to paying $15 for burgers, but for the fish burger at least, it was a little small and unsatisfying for that price point)).

In conclusion, Japanese and American are common bedfellows, however as cuisines….. Maybe not a marriage made in heaven, but a marriage of convenience? Everything was tasty, and the pairings felt normal, none of the combos felt too weird. But perhaps what we were looking for, was something weirder? As in the end, the burgers were a little bit forgettable. But at least arriving long after the lunch rush, we didn’t have to wait (thus avoiding what irked many Foodies before us). To be honest, I don’t think we’ll be back; been there, done that. It’ll be interesting to see how they stack-up against our other popular Sydney burger joints, when we put Ume Burger through the burger scorecard!

Ume Burger- Saturday 3 August (3.5 Stars)

PH: 8195 1920

Wulugul Walk, Barangaroo

Sun-Wed 11.45am – 9.30pm

Thurs 11.45am – 10pm

Fri 11.45am – 10.30pm

Sat 11.45am – 10pm

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)

PH: (02) 9319 4415

74 Rose Street, Chippendale

Tues-Sat: 11am – 11pm

Sun: 12noon – 10pm

Mon: Closed

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.