Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Fish on Parkyn, Mooloolaba

Whenever I'm on holidays, whether it be a whole month overseas or just a weekend away, I get a bit adventurous and don't mind going for a bit of a wander, maybe even getting a bit lost. When we stayed at Mooloolaba Beach in Queensland the other weekend, the chilled and breezy vibe was very calming when we ended up getting a bit lost on our way to Fish on Parkyn. The weather was amazing for winter, warm enough to wear a short-sleeve but still a bit cool to not pack the jeans away. The walk ensured we had a large enough appetite to consume the anticipated seafood feast.

Hervey Bay scallops, carrot and coriander and ginger wasabi mayonnaise, half dozen $19.50
These scallops absolutely melted in my mouth - amazing! The scallops were cooked perfectly, sweet and soft but still firm. The carrot puree gave it a slight sweetness and the coriander made it light and refreshing. The ginger wasabi mayonnaise was so tasty and addictive, it gave the scallops that extra bit of creaminess. I could have easily eaten a dozen to myself! We were so tempted to order more but I knew there was going to be lots more food to come! 

BBQ seafood plate - Moreton Bay bug, Mooloolaba prawns, fresh Tasmanian salmon, Hervey Bay scallops, house cut fries, $37.50 
The BBQ seafood was all simply prepared and retained their original flavours as they weren't overpowered by any heavy sauces or seasoning. It was great seeing the scallops again but without the ginger wasabi mayonnaise and coriander, it lacked some of its flavour. The other flavours on the plate were much stronger than the scallops so make sure you eat them first! The prawns were great, juicy and perfectly cooked, not at all grainy. The salmon fillet was delicately cooked and the flesh was softy and silky. Unfortunately there wasn't much meat on the bug so it was a bit difficult to taste or eat anything substantial. I really enjoyed the coleslaw! It was made up of cabbage, rocket and orange segments with a light mayonnaise dressing which worked well with all the seafood. The house cut fries were chunky, crispy yet fluffy inside, just the way I like them! A plentiful plate of seafood and sides!

Tamarind whole snapper with jasmine rice, $42.00 for large fish
As our lovely waitress brought out the fish she apologised that the fish was presented lying on its side because it usually stands up right! It wouldn't have mattered which way it was standing, a whole fish is just mesmerising! There was actually plenty of meat on the fish and it was fun dissecting it, pulling it apart and having a bit of fun getting messy! The fish is soft and the batter is crispy. We couldn't get enough of the tamarind sauce, if only there was more rice to mop it all up!

For those who are staying at Mooloolaba I insist you try Fish on Parkyn for their exceptional food and friendly service. We couldn't have been treated better by our attentive waitress who gave suggestions and always made sure we were enjoying our meal, which of course we did! It's definitely a place for a special occasion but I assure you will have a lovely spoilt evening! 

Fish on Parkyn
20 Parkyn Parade


07 5444 4711

Fish on Parkyn on Urbanspoon

Friday, 23 August 2013

I Love Pho, Crows Nest

Many people judge the quality of a Vietnamese restaurant by its decor, the more dated it is the better the food is but sometimes something a little more modern opens and we should give it a go! I Love Pho was one of those places that you always pass but never think much of it when you walk by or not curious to go inside. It's a pity those places exist because often those are the ones that are worth exploring.

Crispy beef spring rolls, $9.60 
There's something different and brilliant about Vietnamese spring rolls, and it's all in the wrappers. The Vietnamese use rice paper sheets (for fresh and fried spring rolls) instead of an egg based wrapper (hence the Americans calling them 'egg rolls'). It gives a different sort of crispy crunch that I love. The texture reminds me of a thinner version of prawn crackers, where it dissolves slightly when it hits the tongue. The spring roll is filled with vegetables and beef and are still warm when they arrive. The famous Vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc cham, is sweet and only has a touch of fish sauce, which I am still trying to perfect at home. 

Green papaya salad, $16.90
The pile of green papaya salad was generous and addictive! The green papaya and carrot have been shredded finely with great crunch and drowned in more nuoc cham. There's also quite a bit of prawns and pieces of pork in the salad. I love piling the salad on the prawn crackers because it's like eating a Vietnamese taco! It's definitely a refreshing and tasty salad that I can eat for any meal of the day. 

Vietnamese crispy pancake, $12.60
The pancake is a hybrid of a pancake and an omelette, encased with lots of veg, prawns and slices of pork. The batter is slightly crispy but is unfortunately drenched in oil! It wasn't that pleasant to eat because every mouthful was flooded with oil. The filling was good, but I think after a while, based on the food we ordered, it all started to taste a bit the same especially since nuoc cham accompanied every dish. The waiter was very lovely and asked if we wanted to the pancake to be divided which we gladly accepted because we would've made a mess!

Rare beef noodle soup, $12.50
The highly anticipated pho came out piping hot along with a plate of bean sprouts, herbs, lemon, sauce and spoons. I tried the broth immediately before anyone threw in hot sauce or chillies, it was sweet and quite mild in flavour. So then I squeezed in the lemon juice and immersed the bean sprouts into the soup. I prefer having that little tang in the pho broth so the add-ons lifted it and made it more flavoursome. 

Caramelised fish hot pot, $25.50
My dad requested to have the caramelised fish hot pot and it was definitely different to what I've had before. The fish had been braised with pork belly meat which were hiding underneath the fish. It's quite a salty dish so it definitely needs to be eaten with some rice ($2/person for unlimited plain white rice). The fish is a bit overcooked but that's expected since it had been braised. It wasn't my favourite dish of the night but I'm glad I tried it because it had flavours I'd never eaten before. Can't knock it till you try it

Upon our arrival to I Love Pho my parents and I were greeted with immensely cheerful and attentive waiters. We immediately felt welcomed and looked after. The attitude of the waitstaff has an enormous influence on your experience at a restaurant, even if the food is exceptional, unfriendly staff will discourage me from returning. Definitely go for the green papaya salad and have a bit of a wander around the menu to get something beyond the usual!

I Love Pho
47 Willoughby Rd
Crows Nest

8065 1129

I Love Pho Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Le Pub, Sydney

Whether they be pubs, cafes or restaurant, I love when they're hidden away in alleyways or downstairs where they're slightly secluded and diners have to venture a little beyond just stepping into the front door. The brightly tiled Le Pub sign catches anyone passing by and you are instantly lured to walk down the stairs and into the music of clinking wine glasses. 

The waitress takes us to our table and it is the darkest corner of the gastropub. It's an intimate booth but very dark, we had to steal the candle from the nearby table to see our menus! Even though the rest of the restaurant and pub was quite noisy, it was quiet in our little booth and definitely made it very private and cosy. 

Pie au boeuf bourguignon, $24.00
I've been craving for a pie for a while now and I couldn't be happier to have chosen this to satisfy my pie desires. When the waitress brings this plate piled with comforting goodness my eyes automatically stare at the paris mash, sitting quenelled and beautiful. It's  creamy and there is no doubt butter has been thoroughly whipped into the potato mash. I break the puff pastry case and the aromatic boeuf bourguignon steams out. The pastry is flaky, crispy and the layers within a moist and buttery. I dig into the the boeuf bourguignon and it is heavenly - the perfect winter dish. The beef has been slowly braised, making the meat tender and enriched with the red wine braising liquid. The beef, mushrooms, carrots and ladon are piping hot, and I am instantly comforted. I soak up all the lovely sauce with the pastry and mash, and there is nothing left but crumbs on my plate. Even though we are experiencing 20+ degrees winter days, hot pies are irresistible. 

L'entrecôte, $26.00
Entrecôte is a term that restaurants use for a steak dish, in particular those that are serving French bistro style steak-frites. The 220 grams of scotch fillet is grass fed marble score 2+ from Cape Grim TAS. The meat is cooked to a perfect medium rare, rosy pink and very juicy. The crust has a nice char and is well seasoned. The fries are crispy and fluffy on the inside. The sauce complimenting the steak and fries is Cafe de Paris. When my partner was trying to decide on the sauce the waiter informed us that the Cafe De Paris would have chicken liver in it which made us both a bit puzzled and thought we heard wrong. Lo and behold when the sauce came out, it did have it and it was certainly different to what we've had before. It must have been the chef's little twist to the classic!

Gastropubs are perfect for good food and somewhere to wind down after a long day or week at work. The staff at Le Pub were friendly and helpful. The setting was casual and relaxed. I'm keen to come back to try other items on their menu because I'm convinced they'll be just as good as what we've tasted so far. I love the details that have gone into the decor of the pub, from the stools at the bar to the marble tables. You are no longer in Sydney CBD, but in Paris during the 1800s. 

Le Pub
66 King Street

9262 3277

Le Pub on Urbanspoon

Monday, 5 August 2013

Kürtősh, Crows Nest

Kürtősh is one of the very few late night dessert places that isn't an ice-creamery or a frozen yoghurt stand. And it is SUCH a relief that is exists! It's lovely to continue the evening somewhere warm and cosy which doesn't necessarily involve alcohol! But then again I'm a little biased, I choose cake over alcohol any day! 

These are Hungarians' oldest pastries, kürtőskalács, also known as chimney cakes. The first time I had this was at the Kürtősh at Randwick but since they're quite carby and we were full from dinner I gave it a miss this time. But they're great to share with someone - soft sweet bread in a fun curl!     

Mmm cake...

Passionfruit cheesecake (50g) and raspberry & coconut mousse (50g), $4.50/100g  
The beauty about ordering the slab cakes at $4.50/100g is that you can order unlimited types of cake at whatever weight! It's like ordering at the candy bar at the cinemas but with cake which of course is so much better! I've gotten the raspberry & coconut mousse almost every time and I'm not about to stop! The raspberry topping is tangy and contrasts nicely with the smooth coconut mousse. There are coconuts bits in the mousse, giving it texture and heightens the coconut presence. The passionfruit cheesecake is very light and is definitely not a dense cake. It's velvety and the biscuit base is spiced up with ground macadamia nuts. 

Peanut butter & chocolate ganache (100g), $4.50/100g
The peanut butter & chocolate ganache is perfect for all those sweet tooths. It has a chocolate biscuit base, crispy and crunch. The peanut butter cream is light but incredibly rich in flavour so the thin layer is plenty. The chocolate ganache is smooth and is nicely contrasted with the broken pieces of peanuts sprinkled on top. 

I will definitely make the effort next time to try their other slab cakes as there are so many! Of course the more people you go with, the more cakes you can taste so make sure you bring a group with you next time - get someone to buy the kürtőskalá and each of you should get at least 3 different kinds of cake! Only then can you properly say you've had dessert!

Coco Cubano, Crows Nest

There are so many options to have dinner in Crows Nest, it's difficult to choose between the burger joints and Italian restaurants on Willoughby Road, and the Indian and Japanese restaurants on Pacific Highway. The decor of Coco Cubano is very stylish, from the stools and couches to the lights. But the atmosphere remains comfortable and casual. Coco Cubano is still a relatively new eatery and since I haven't tried it and have heard good things, my friend and I decided to give it a go! 

If a restaurant is opened for business for dinner I prefer having table service than placing my order at the counter. The table that was sitting next to us ordered a lot of food and kept on having to get up every time they wanted something else, it felt like their meal was a bit disruptive because of this. Paying at the counter for breakfast and lunch is totally fine but maybe changing it to table service in the evening may give it a better dining experience because currently there is no customer service given. 

Cake cabinet
Table number
Cute table number box but it's a tad big so it takes up a bit of the table. I like the candle because it's safe but a little less romantic than a real one. 

Fajitas with halloumi, tortilla, fresh salsa, salad, guacamole & sour cream, $15.90
I enjoy ordering the vegetarian option when I'm out and about with girlfriends so choosing halloumi for dinner was a no brainer! I was so pleased to find the halloumi not dry and rubbery which I was expecting since I wasn't eating it fresh from the hot pan. It was soft and had that delicious saltiness that I would swap with any meat any day! There were four pieces of tortillas, I'd prefer to have less pieces but bigger in size because it made construction a little bit difficult. I was hoping the guacamole was less pureed, I prefer the avocado taste and texture to be more prominent. The rocket leaves and fresh tomato salsa made it light and probably more suitable for a warmer night. 

Quesadillas with smokey beans, fresh salsa, guacamole, cheese & pickles, $13.90
The quesadillas arrived on a big plank and the serving was huge! The tortilla was toasted so it was crispy and the cheese melted, encasing all the filling. I had a taste of the quesadillas and I thought the filling was all blended together and I couldn't quite taste the different elements. Perhaps if I tried it when it first came out and it was still warm then it would have been a different story. 

I'm keen to go back and try their tapas. I found it to be a very comfortable place to sit and chat for hours with friends over food. And thats exactly what you need for a mid-week hump day dinner - somewhere to chill and look forward to the weekend ahead! 

Coco Cubano
52 Willoughby Rd Cnr Clarke St
Crows Nest 

9437 6257

Also located at Darlinghurst, Kensington, Parramatta and Rouse Hill Town Centre 

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