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).


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).


PH: (02) 8317 4811

20 Campbell Street, Haymarket

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

YX Taste- Sydney CBD

Is it XO Taste? XY Taste? But whatever it is, it’s tasty!

My wife walks past this place each night after finishing work, and had mentioned that one day we should try it. And that day has arrived! Today coming home via Town Hall station, we were looking for a bite to eat and we were right in front of it.

If the surrounds look familiar (The Metro), it’s because this space used to be the old Galaxy World! Hard to believe how a two story arcade parlour which played a prominent role in so many youngster’s lives, can now be a Chinese restaurant? There are still some signs of The Dough Collective (the bakery who were the first to move in after Galaxy World’s demise), the rough honed tiles were from the Collective- although the swank decorations are all YX’s. Check out the Terracotta Warrior! Pretty cool hey?

And the tables were these nice glass topped things, 50% of diners had booths and the other 50% had these comfy bucket seats which felt like being a passenger in a Sports Car! Vroom Vroom!

We studied their menu, the options were broken into handy sub-categories i.e. Street food, Street noodles, Soup noodles, sides etc.

Everything looked good and there was much to choose from, so when provided with too many options we relied on the good old opposable thumb icon! *Thumbs up!*.

So we elected the Potato Noodles Soup with Duck Offal ($15.80, my wife elected the Rice Noodle Soup with Beef and Mushroom ($15.80), and a side of Pig Feet to share ($5.80). When the waiter warned us that the Beef noodle soup was “a little bit spicy” we were a little worried, as a little bit spicy to a Sichuan person might be pretty crazy hot! But hey? When in Rome.

And within moments, a different staffer came with our table settings and our Pig Feet. The trotties were served cold, trotters diced into small pieces (mostly the chewy skin parts), and equally small diced pieces of crunchy pickled veggies, and a nice hit of Sichuan pepper (and we usually don’t like Sichuan peppers).

And since I had mentioned Galaxy World, let’s keep on the gaming theme…..the Duck Offal was like eating the remains after playing a round of real-life-Nintendo Duck Hunt! Poof, a burst of feathers,  and then gathering up all the remains of the duck and boiling it down to thinly sliced duck blood, thinly sliced duck kidney, and thinly sliced duck liver…….. Surprisingly good! No wonder this dish was given the thumbs up by the chef! And the soup? It was super flavoursome! Delicate, nutty, and possessed a hint of coriander. Mmmmmm.

On the other hand, my wife’s Beef and Mushroom noodle soup was more one dimensional in flavour. But fortunately the waiter was right! It was only a “little bit” spicy, and there was a generous serving of beef chunks. So much so, that we both half rolled out of the store – bellies full of soup, noodles, beef, pig feet and duck offal.

Our end verdict? 4.5 Stars from 5! (3 from 3 for Food (It was all very fresh, flavourful, and the table setting from the heavy porcelain soup spoon to the tear-shaped plate in which the Pig Feet were served on, suggested a level of sophistication); 0 from 0.5 for Service (although all the staff were efficient and polite, but perhaps too efficient? I hadn’t finished my food and was just taking a rest and on one of his blow-bys, the waiter collected up my bowl on his way through without asking if I was done); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (they had Jay Chou playing softly and the whole place was very inviting and classy); and 1 from 1 for Value for Money (Priced in the mid-ranges, but the food was definitely not mid-range though)).

YX Taste as a brand name was forgettable (I probably asked my wife 5 times what was their restaurant’s name as I just couldn’t absorb it into my mind). Perhaps inviting a marketing specialist in to work through some alternatives, might assist in brand awareness and take their restaurant to the big-leagues! But whatever work they might need on their name…….whatever happens, don’t touch the recipes or menu! As from a food perspective, it’s perfect! You know it’s a good sign, when you’re half way through your current meal and you’re already planning your return visit!

YX Taste- Sunday 1 September (4.5 Stars)

PH: 02 8317 4361

Shop 5/615-625 George Street, Sydney

Mon-Sun 11am – 8.45pm (last orders)

Koku Culture- Ashfield

It’s not Japanese food……….Yeah right!

Grabbing a bite to eat after a Saturday morning activity- we found ourselves further West than we’d usually be on a Saturday pre-noon, and after our friend Michelle told us how good the food was at Koku Culture- we were sold! A true testament to how good a place is, when you’re willing to go back within a week, bringing along hubby and your friends.  

When we arrived, Dennis and Michelle had already placed their name on the clip-board to indicate their place in the line, the lunch crowd meeting the tail end of the breakfast crowd at 11.30am. Koku Culture can be found on the Croydon end of Liverpool Road, Ashfield. The store is small, but it feels even smaller after you’ve packed it in with tables and chairs for 20 and, then 20 odd people within it. When we arrived we were second in line, and after our arrival another 3 parties joined the end of the queue.

But when we were finally seated, all thoughts of the wait left us and all we could think of was the food! The food! We ordered The Crispy Rice Burger with Grilled Koji Chicken for me ($15.00), Japanese Style Corn, Zucchini and Nori Fritters for my wife ($15.50) and for Dennis and Michelle, they ordered the Torched Confit Alpine King Salmon Fillet ($19.00) plus a 63 degree egg (additional $2), and Seared Wagyu Beef ($23.00). And for drinks, a flat white and Yuzu tea (hot) x2.

Unfortunately no interior pics this time, as my wife likes to take pics devoid of other patrons faces (honouring their anonymity). But because there were literally patrons everywhere in the store (we even had to share the table for 6 with others), we refrained from snapping an interior shot – bar taking a pic of the ceiling……. The only place where there wasn’t any patrons. But if I could describe it, the tables were a light wood, plain but solidly built, and decorating the walls were empty jars and plates lining the walls at head-height.

The first to arrive were the Yuzu teas, served in clear glass teapots (you can easily get 3 cups from each pot). The tea tasted like the Korean marmalade straight out of the jar? Which is fine, as we love that stuff! It’s almost tempting me to buy a jar later on this weekend!

And when the food arrived, they all arrived at once!

One point for being Japanese-y. Now the burger bun was made out of rice which had been compressed down to a sheet and then fried to a crisp! It literally went “crunch” when I first bit into it, and wrapped around the rice-bun was a sheet of dried nori (seaweed) which added to the Japanese flavours. The grilled chicken breast was coated methinks in a miso mayo sauce? And I have to say, the grilled chicken was perfect! If I was more Japanese-y I could have cried from delight! It was so tender and juicy, whoever was on the griller today- you know that Sensei knows what they’re doing! And as a side, a generous serving of shoe string fries with ketchup sauce to dip.

My wife’s fritters were fried, coated in a crunchy tempura batter- while the insides were still oozy. Mmmmm. A light dusting of red chilli powder added a tasty kick, so that the end outcome was like eating a healthy serving of spicy popcorn! With mashed avocado underneath and a poached egg on the side. Ok, if we’re still keeping score, it’s now 1 all in terms of Japanese-y V being only an Australian café with Japanese influences.

Thanks Dennis and Michelle, as they knew that I was more likely than not to blog about this, so they both offered up a spoonful of their dishes for me to try. Michelle’s Wagu was super tender and served with barley which was a little bit unusual.

And Dennis’ Salmon (or is it Sal-mon) was super fresh, almost melt in the mouth and was served with soba noodles. In my opinion that brings the score to 3 to 1, in favour of Koku Culture being a Japanese-y café.

Our end verdict? 4.5 Stars from 5! (3 from 3 for Food! (It’s been a while since we’ve scored any place full marks for food, but I think Koku Culture is deserving of the highest of praise! As everything was so tasty, with so many unique elements, and everything was cooked to perfection!); 0 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the 0 score was purely due to how cramped the shop was, it was nearly impossible to get in and out  of the store if you weren’t agile, and it was quite noisy in there due to the sounds all bouncing off the hard surfaces); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (although it  was hard to get their attention as they were so busy, but all human interactions were friendly and polite); and 1 from 1 for Value for Money ($15 for mains is a good average in our books, but for what it was! It was top notch food, at an affordable price!)).

Thanks again Dennis and Michelle for the hot recommendation, and thanks again for shouting us! You really shouldn’t have! But as you suggested, the money has been set aside to be paid forward to a good cause. *nods*. We don’t dine at Ashfield much, as it can be a bit of a nightmare on weekends, but to have a chance to try Koku Culture? It was well worth it! Even if it did take an hour to crawl back to da city via Liverpool Rd and Parramatta Rd. *Shudders*. You can try to say it’s Australian food, but hey let’s call a spade a spade! It was pretty Japanese-y- but it was Japanese fusion at its finest!

Koku Culture-Saturday 31 August (4.5 Stars).


PH: 0402 697 475

1/355 Liverpool Road, Ashfield

Mon-Fri 7am – 4pm

Sat-Sun 8am – 4pm