Sunday, September 14, 2014

Original Meatball Company, Sydney CBD


After my visit to The Meatball and Wine Bar in Melbourne, I was looking forward to the meatball trend making its way to Sydney eventually. Sure enough, this has arrived sooner than I expected with opening of The Original Meatball Company (OMC) back in July with lengthy queues of hungry office workers getting excited over free (meat)balls. 



I was greeted at the door by Dominic, who is one of the co-owners of OMC (along with Jay Lyon) and also the former owner of the widely renowned Gelatissimo. While it's interesting seeing him swapping gelato for meatballs, it was lovely speaking with him about his vision of bringing a meatball-dedicated eatery to Sydney after his trip to New York. Although the queues were much less intense than the opening days, it was still quite busy due to the peak lunch hour. The space was small with limited seating so it's usually ideal to grab take-away.



It was cool watching the action of the open kitchen as the staff dishes out lots of meatballs and packing them into the buns with other fillings and sauces. I also got to check out the making of the OMC signature poutine fries with ragu and Parmesan cream sauce. Looks like a guilty pleasure.  


The Yankee ($11.90)

There was so much to try even from the balls on a bun (aka 'Heroes') menu alone especially with the many available fillings. The first dish that I tasted was The Yankee, which contains beef balls, American mustard, ketchup, cheddar cheese, sweet pickles, onion and shredded iceberg lettuce served on a brioche bun. Reminded me of those traditional American hot dogs that you would get on the streets of New York. The beef balls were juicy and tender qhile the overall bun had a zesty, sour and sweet flavour from the many ingredients. Very messy to handle. 


Mamma's Balls ($10.90)

The other dish I tried was the Italian-inspired Mamma's Balls that consists of pork and veal balls with ragu, melted provolone cheese, dressed rocket lead served on a rustic white bun. While there was less ingredients that the Yankee, it was just as tasty with the fragrant pork and veal meatballs, the fresh but strong-flavoured rocket and that damn oozy cheese. 


The Geisha ($10.90)

Sadly, my stomach gave way on my first visit so I returned again recently to try a couple other dishes. If the buns were too much for you to handle especially when you are cutting down carbs, OMC has a generous selection of salad bowls to choose from. Based on the staff recommendation, I decided on The Geisha. This is a Japanese-inspired dish which includes chicken balls with teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, cucumber, toasted sesame seeds, served on shredded iceberg lettuce. The chicken balls were tasty and had an interesting flavour from the teriyaki sauce that reminded me of a meaty takoyaki. The salad was quite creamy particularly from the mayo though the lettuce does give an added crunch.


Cookie Crumble Shake: Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie with Milk Chocolate Ice Cream ($5.90)

The one thing I regretted not trying on the first visit was the Cookie Crumble milkshakes. You get the choice of playing mix and match with cookies (dark choc chip, macadamia and white choc chip, sticky date, brandy snap) and ice cream (milk choc, classic vanilla, salted caramel, espresso) for this shake. You also decide on whether you want to get one of each for $5.90, 2 cookies of your choice with one scoop of ice cream  for $6.90, or 3 cookies and 2 scoops of ice cream for $8.90. I played it simple and went with Dark Chocolate Chip cookie with Milk Chocolate ice cream. Very surprised at how much I enjoyed this shake. So thick, creamy and not too sweet with lots of cookie chunks settling at the base that tasted even better when mixed with ice cream. Should try the shake with salted caramel ice cream next time.



While the Meatball and Wine Bar has a bar-like atmosphere that would have been suitable for after work drinks or late night dining, OMC is primarily aimed as a casual lunch spot for those working around the area - though it does open for dinner on Thursday and Friday evenings. The service was quick and friendly from my experience so far and the prices are reasonable since you can get full on one of their dishes alone. It is located on the same block as Baker Bros so you can also grab your coffee while digging into the meatballs whether you are eating at this joint or taking your lunch back to work.



Disclaimer: The Random Foodie dined as a guest of Original Meatball Company, courtesy of Carlii from Carlii Lyons Public Relations. The Random Foodie also made a further visit where The Geisha Salad Bowl and the Cookie Crumble Shake were independently paid for. Opinions are however, my own.

Original Meatball Company
Shop 3, 56-58 York Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 8213 0213
http://originalmeatballcompany.com.au/
Mon-Wed: 9:00am - 4:00pm
Thurs-Fri: 9:00am - 9:30pm
Original Meatball Company on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mooberry Dessert and Breakfast Bar, Neutral Bay


It's funny remembering back in 2012-2013 when there was a new frozen yogurt shop opening in nearly every suburb around Sydney. In 2014, the opposite has happened when you begin to see the closures of froyo shops here and there - most notably the original Moochi store in Strathfield. I could remember a few years ago when everyone lined up outside Moochi and Noggi in Strathfield like a nightclub when that was the only place you could get it. So it's interesting to see some froyo brands still doing strong despite the change in market such as Mooberry, which opened their Neutral Bay branch early this year.



Unlike the original Mooberry Newtown branch, the Neutral Bay store was actually the flagship dessert and breakfast bar with three levels of seating to chill out on a cold and wet evening. It actually feels very spacious with lots of cute decorations here and there (especially those little cows at the checkout downstairs omg!). You could also check out the great view of Neutral Bay's busy Military Road if you decide to sit at the top floor.



While the first thing you think about is froyo when you hear about Mooberry, you could not be further from the truth. Upon glancing at the laminated menu on the table, you could see that there is so much more that Mooberry offers. If you are there for breakfast, you can get classics like deluxe bacon and egg roll, breakfast waffles, ham and cheese croissant and even eggs benedict! Name me one froyo bar that has eggs benedict on the menu. For their dessert selections, Mooberry has their signature sweet classics such as the coconut affogato, churro sticks and chocolate fondue. 


Froyo: L-R: Chocolate, Salted Caramel (Mini: $4.50, R: $7.50, L: $14.50) 

We met Jamie the store manager who treated us to a froyo of our choosing for starters. My pick was the chocolate while CC decided on the salted caramel flavour. We both found that the froyo was light, smooth and refreshing. As usual, I like to go overboard with various chocolate toppings (and watermelon balls hehe) for my chocolate froyo while CC was more health conscious with her fruity toppings. Bonus points for Mooberry offering unlimited toppings for $1. Then again, I always preferred the fixed sizes and prices system than the "fill up your own froyo" system like Yogurberry and Yogurtland which gets too pricey even when it's half-full.


Belgian Hot Chocolate (R: $5.00, L: $5.50)

Mooberry offers a generous selection of hot drinks including four different hot chocolate flavours. These hot choc flavours include Belgian, Coconut, Salted Caramel, and Mint. Since it was a Thursday night, it got fairly busy so there was a bit of a wait for our hot chocolate and waffles. When it arrived to our table, I literally had a massive smile on my face from its presentation. Particularly the chocolate swirls on top. It was smooth, creamy and not too rich or intense. Good balance of flavours with the chocolate and the milk. So good to have on a cold night.


Wicked Waffles ($14.90 for 1 waffle, $17.90 for 2 waffles)

Our sweet journey ended with the Wicked Waffles, which was decadent chocolate heaven for the chocoholic especially with the many drizzles of milk and dark chocolate across the plate. This was served with lots of strawberries and bananas for a bit of fruit in your system. There was also a coconut froyo on the side but we were getting very full from the crispy, rich and dense waffle. While there was a lot of chocolate, the waffle itself wasn't as sweet as we expected. This made it slightly easier for us to manage. 



Even though I am personally not much of a froyo fan these days, I was impressed by what Mooberry delivers. Like its Newtown store, Mooberry has distinguished itself from the other franchises in delivering way more options than just froyo, whether it's breakfast or a late night dessert. While Neutral Bay is too far for me to get to, it's a suitable option for dessert if you are a local or happened to be around the area for work or any special occasions.



The Random Foodie Vault: Check out my experience at Mooberry Newtown back in 2013!

Disclaimer: The Random Foodie dined as a guest of Mooberry Dessert and Breakfast Bar, courtesy of Jenny. Opinions are however, my own.

Mooberry Dessert and Breakfast Bar
Shop 2, 164 Military Road, Neutral Bay NSW 2089
(02) 8957 9758
https://www.facebook.com/MooBerryFroyo
Sun-Thurs: 8:00am - 11:00pm
Fri-Sat: 8:00am - midnight
MooBerry Dessert & Breakfast Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chi and Co, Canley Heights


I remember going to Canley Heights for temp work a few years ago when Holy Basil just opened. The restaurant life was mostly your old school Vietnamese eateries and there was barely any other options when you weren't in the mood for Viet food back then (surprising right?). How times have changed! Now there are so many late night restaurants in Canley Heights where you can decide whether you want a bowl of pho, fried ice cream or waffles for dessert, or a degustation of Asian-inspired tapas! With the addition of the modern Asian restaurant 'Chi and Co', it's one step closer to bringing out the "Surry Hills" foodie melting pot into South West Sydney.



I purchased a voucher to try a 6-course meal for two at $39 where I get to have a taste at a selection of dishes from Chi and Co's expansive menu. The dishes were inspired from different Asian cultures (Vietnamese, Thai, Laos, Malaysian) but with a modern kick. Some of the dishes were a bit similar to the ones I've noticed at Chin Chin in Melbourne, which is good if the lines were too much hassle for you. 


Berry Rose Cake ($16.00)

Although the drinks weren't complimentary, we were so thirsty after a long day out. I was instantly attracted to the Berry Rose Cake cocktail, which was described on the menu as a "Black Star Pastry-inspired cocktail". This was no surprise since it contains strawberries, watermelon, vodka, strawberry liquer and finished with a rose foam on top. It was quite sweet but not overwhelmingly. The vodka didn't taste strong either which is good for a chilled and relaxing night. And it really does feel like drinking BSP's signature strawberry and watermelon cake hehehe.


Mocktail ($9.00)

While I couldn't remember the name of this mocktail, it looked very appealing especially with the abundance of strawberries and lychees clouding around inside the drink. 


Chicken Lettuce Delight ($11.00)

The dishes arrived to our table very quickly especially the entrees that arrived at the same time. The first dish I tried was the chicken lettuce delight, which was basically a san choy bao consisting of lup cheong, mushrooms, water chestnuts and crispy glass noodles. The lettuce and the glass noodles delivered a nice crunch to the fillings. While the overall flavour wasn't as flavoursome as I preferred (it was CC's fave dish though), it ended up being a relief since most of the other dishes were quite spicy. 


Pulled Beef Sliders ($9.00)

The pulled beef sliders (pulled beef rib, steamed bun with mint and house pickles) was actually one of my favourite dishes out of the six courses. The steamed bun was soft and fluffy while the pulled beef was very delicious and tender. Did not expect this to come from a beef rib at all but it's very succulent. Pricey though considering the serving size. 


Son in Law Eggs with house XO sauce ($7.90)

The son in law eggs was the dish I was looking forward to trying from Chi and Co the most out of all the other dishes. The yolk and filling was well cooked with the sambal and XO sauce placed on top. CC wasn't a fan because of the spices and the strong flavours but I enjoyed this dish because of the unusual ingredients, the runny egg yolk and the crisp and fried outer casing of the egg.


Smoked Trout on Betal Leaf ($8.40)

This may look like a simple dish but the smoked trout on betal leaf was another flavour kicker from the shredded trout pieces to the roasted chilli and galangal. Especially when you eat the whole dish in one go. While the roasted chilli wasn't spicy, it was still loads of excitement to your taste buds. Again, it is pricey given the size of the dish but I am still keen to try the spanner crab version on my next visit.  


Shaken Beef ($23.80)

Our main dishes arrived starting with the Shaken Beef. Between two people, the serving was a tad smaller than we expected but decent enough for our stomachs with all the other courses we've had. The tender beef scotch fillet cubes were seasoned with aromatic garlic and pepper sauce to give off that caramelised and tangy flavour kick. Reminded us of our own families' version of Bo Luc Lac at home and this version is certainly very delicious.


Fried Salmon Salad ($20.80)

We also got the fried salmon salad for our main dishes, which was equally delicious. This consists of chunks of fried salmon fillet with green papaya, Vietnamese mint and garlic. The papaya salad was made Vietnamese style so it's milder than the Thai version. The salmon fillets were well cooked and juicy with a crisp exterior but the biggest hit of this dish has gotta be the crispy salmon skin. It was so crunchy that it was harder for us to share this between two people. Goes really well with the fresh, sour and tangy papaya salad too.


Stir-fried greens ($8.00)

We also received a plate of stir-fried greens and steamed rice along with the main plates. The stir fried greens consists of broccoli, snow peas and bok choy. It was a nice change from the other flavour-intensive dishes though it again it felt very similar to the one that mum cooks up at home. Still liked the flavour and texture of this classic dish.


Steamed rice ($4.50)

I haven't eaten steamed white rice as much these days but I enjoyed Chi and Co's version especially with its fluffy yet firm texture. Great to have with the Shaken Beef.


Kaffir Lime Brulee with Coconut Sorbet ($11.90)

The Kaffir lime brulee caught my eye immediately since I haven't had creme brulee for a long time. The brulee topping was a bit too thick so it was initially harder (but hey at least it wasn't too thin :p) to crack but it was nonetheless a lovely dish especially with the smooth custard the overall light flavour. I would say that this brulee is good to have on its own. Was getting full by this point so I didn't have much of the coconut sorbet - though it did felt heavy and dense when I had a few bites. It was also cold that evening so I could imagine this would be lovely to have on a warm day.


Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Compote and Honeycomb ($11.90)

The panna cotta was creamy but the mixed berries were too sour for CC's liking. Surprisingly, the honeycomb ended up balancing the overall taste of this dish. 



Since we only need to pay $39 for a 6 course meal for two people, this was actually a bargain compared to paying the full prices from the A La Carte menu. Considering the serving size, the prices are expensive especially with all the cheaper options in the area that will get you full instantly. However, I was pleased with the dishes they offered as well as the friendly service. And it's good to see a slice of Surry Hills in Canley Heights with its chic and funky layout, atmosphere, and the modern approach to classic Asian dishes. While it isn't a restaurant I would return to very often, it is a good local place for a special occasion with a group of friends especially with the attentive service and atmosphere.

Chi and Co
Shop 3, 264 Canley Vale Road (entrance on Derby Street)
Canley Heights NSW 2166
(02) 9727 2068
http://www.chiandco.com.au/
Tue-Thurs: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Fri-Sat: 12:00pm - 3:00pm, 5:00pm - 11:00pm
Sun: 12:00pm - 3:00pm, 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Chi and Co. (Chi Chi) on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Paramount Coffee Project, Surry Hills

Earlier this year, I promised to try to keep up with the brunch trends around Sydney. Considering that there are quite a few cafes opening in places like Alexandria, Petersham, Bondi Beach and Parramatta; this was much harder than I thought. So it was no surprise that I am probably the last person to talk about Paramount Coffee Project. My review for this cafe has been long overdue for months that I have already made a number of visits. With the drool-worthy food porn and a diverse selection of roasted coffee beans led by the team from Reuben Hills and Melbourne's Seven Seeds, it was no surprise that there was so many raves about this cafe so soon after it opened last year.



This modern and industrial-looking interior space with natural lighting and minimalist decor was also the home of Paramount Pictures Building as well as the Golden Age Cinemas for the keen movie buffs at night. While there was so much space, there actually wasn't much seating options so there was a bit of a wait before a table was available if you go on weekends. On one of my visits, there was a fashion sale happening upstairs which was a great way to kill time while you wait.


Skim Mocha ($4.00) 

Considering the alumni managing PCP, it's no surprise that there would be high expectations when it comes to the coffee. Thankfully, the usual mocha order didn't disappoint. The mocha was balanced with not too much chocolate and not as much milk. It also had an aromatic, roasted texture as I sip into the cup.


Rose Iced Tea ($5.00) 

Based on a staff recommendation, I also got a Rose Iced Tea on another visit when the weather was warmer. I think it's becoming a trend for fresh juices and iced tea drinks to be served in those big jars since I've spotted them in nearly every hipster-esque cafe lately. While the iced tea wasn't very sweet, it was refreshing to enjoy on a warm day.


Baked Eggs: chorizo, cannelini beans, toast ($17.00) 

Been a fan of baked eggs lately even though I only got into it this year. While the egg yolk wasn't as runny as I would have liked, PCP's version was actually very delicious. The flavour of the sauce was not too strong and the texture wasn't very heavy or watery compared to a few other versions of this dish. The serving size is reasonable enough to eat without feeling too bloated at the end. Cannot go wrong with chorizos in baked eggs either. Always a winner for me. 


Coca Cola Ox Cheek Waffles: corn and tomato salsa, horseradish mayo, coriander ($19.00; $24.00 - including hush puppies) 

Another item that has gotten me curious after seeing it countless times on instagram was the lovely looking Coca Cola Ox Cheek Waffles. The braised ox cheek had strong flavours that were quite spicy - possibly from the horseradish mayo. While the waffles did get a bit soggy from all the toppings, the crumbled pork crackling added a good crunch that was much needed. I didn't mind the hush puppies since I haven't tried it elsewhere, though it did tasted dry. With all the starch in the waffles, the hush puppies were probably a bit too much to handle in the stomach.


Crab Po' Boy: soft shell crab, house slaw, ranch sauce, milk bun ($19.00; $24.00 - including onion rings)

While the menu changes every month, the one item that has not been removed since Paramount Coffee Project opened its doors was the famous Crab Po' Boy. While the usual Po' Boy found in America was served in a sandwich sub, PCP's version was served in a milk bun similar to what you see in a burger. Was satisfied with the soft, buttery bun and the crispy soft shell crab even though it was very messy to handle. Just one bite and you can see the creamy ranch sauce and slaw flow onto your plate. While it did fill me up, the price was pretty expensive in my opinion. The onion rings were also tasty and well-cooked with its fried batter and tangy mayo on the side.



Even though most of the seating was shared tables, I actually didn't mind since PCP delivers a vibrant and buzzing atmosphere even when it's not as busy. As it was housed in the Paramount Building, it's no surprise when you are surrounded by film buffs discussing their latest project. The prices were on the more expensive side and the dishes won't reduce your waistline so this isn't a cafe I would go on a regular basis. However, the dishes were tasty even with the minor flaws and the service was attentive. Since Spring is here, I look forward to seeing what they offer next on their menu.

Paramount Coffee Project
80 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9211 1122
https://www.facebook.com/theparamountcoffeeproject
Mon-Sun: 7:00am - 4:00pm
The Paramount Coffee Project on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 29, 2014

Spaghetti with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto


You probably won't believe this especially with what I've been posting up on the blog and instagram lately but for most of last year, I barely ate pasta or pizza for diet reasons. It was hard but surprisingly I was able to manage it. Kinda funny since every time I go to an Italian restaurant, the first thing I look on the menu was always the pasta or 'primi' section. While I haven't been as strict with the diet these days, I still get that guilty feeling every time that slippery spaghetti lands in the mouth. However there has been different pasta alternatives available that are actually slightly better for the pasta addicts out there like myself.



The team at Barilla has kindly sent a package of their delicious pastas and sauces including the Wholegrain Spaghetti from their newly released Wholegrain range, which has got me intrigued. Like noodles, it's amazing how many recipes you can think of using pasta whether you like it creamy, tomato-based or without any sauce at all. Anyhow, it's been a while since I did a recipe post. Using the products provided by Barilla, ingredients purchased from the local supermarket and inspiration by a few recipes ideas from Taste, I was able to come up with the below recipe. 




Spaghetti with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto 

Makes: 4 servings 

Ingredients:

375g Barilla Wholegrain Spaghetti (this can be used with any other dried thin pasta)
1 jar Barilla Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
400g chicken breast (tip: chop the chicken breast into smaller pieces before adding to pan)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 garlic clove
Parmesan shavings, to serve



Method:

1. In a large frying pan, bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat (because my stove is takes a looong time to heat up, I used high heat).
2. Add the chicken breast and reduce the heat to the next level. Cook for 10-15 minutes (depending on your oven) then set aside for another 15 minutes or till it's cooked through.
3. Cook the pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water until it's al dente.
4. Heat another frying pan using a drizzle of olive oil and a garlic clove.
5. Drain the pasta and return to the frying pan.
6. Add the chicken, parsley and Sun-dried Tomato Pesto to the pan and toss it for up to 5 minutes with the pasta.
7. Serve with parmesan shavings and left-over parsley. Enjoy!




Disclaimer: The Random Foodie received the pasta and pasta sauces courtesy of Barilla. All other ingredients were paid independently.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Product Review: Domino's Pizza - New Pulled Pork Range


A few years ago, you don't see that much restaurants serving pulled pork in whatever form. Times have changed and pretty much every second or third restaurant now has it whether it's a pulled pork roll, pulled pork burger or even a pulled pork pizza. It's no surprise that Domino's Pizza has released a new range of Chef's Best pulled pork pizzas for you to sample this delicacy without the need to travel.


Hickory BBQ Pulled Pork

The first slice I've tried was the Hickory BBQ Pulled Pork, which contains generous amounts of tender pulled pork, red onion, capsicum, mozzarella and a hickory BBQ sauce swirl. It was quite sweet from the sauce and the red onion. While the pulled pork was slightly dry, it didn't really bother me. While I enjoyed this pizza as it was well balanced with between the pulled pork and the veggies, the folks thought this pizza was too sweet for their liking. Reminded me of the classic Supreme pizza with a pulled pork twist with these toppings.


Chilli Lime Pulled Pork

The Chilli Lime Pulled Pork Pizza (pulled pork, crunchy Vietnamese slaw, mushrooms, red onion, baby spinach on creme fraiche with mozzarella on a chilli lime drizzle) ended up being the favourite for the parents due to its abundance of veggie toppings and unique flavours. While I'm generally not a fan of creme fraiche, there wasn't much of it detected in the toppings so I actually enjoyed it. The white-based pizza did have a strong ginger-like flavour and the chilli lime was a tad spicy. With all those toppings and Asian-inspired flavours, it was different to the usual fare I've had at Domino's in the past.


Pulled Pork Meatlovers

Thought that the Pulled Pork Meatlovers (tender pulled pork, Italian sausage, pepperoni, rasher bacon, mozzarella on a Hickory BBQ sauce) was pretty similar to the regular Meatlovers pizzas except with extra pulled pork. While I liked the smoked flavour and aroma, the abundance of different meats seemed to overshadow the pulled pork. Although the Pulled Pork Meatlovers had the same sauce as the Hickory BBQ Pulled Pork, it wasn't as sweet thanks to the different meats which pleased the folks. It is delicious option though if you love a meaty feast.


Belgian Hot Choc Fudge Brownies

For dessert, we got to try Domino's Belgian Hot Choc Fudge Brownies with hot fudge dipping sauce on the side. Initially I didn't have high expectations but I was surprised at how warm, soft and moist these brownies were. It felt so sinful when you pour the rich fudge sauce all over these baked treats.




The folks enjoyed it too and it's a good way to take a break from cooking for the night. The three pizzas and the brownies were more than enough for 4 or even 6 people to dig in since we had a good amount of slices for leftovers. While I'm not sure if the pulled pork pizzas will be on the permanent menu, it was a tasty experience trying a new range of flavours with the family instead of the usual favourites. 

DISCLAIMER: The Random Foodie was invited to sample the pizzas, courtesy of Domino's Pizza. Opinions are however, my own.

Domino's Pizza
1300 DOMINOS
http://www.dominos.com.au/

Speaking of food delivery, don't forget to enter my Menulog giveaway! Entries close at midnight on Monday 1st September 2014.