Monday, August 24, 2015

Luyu and Yum Yum, Newtown

When you think of yum cha joints, Newtown wouldn't be the first suburb to come into mind. Interestingly, we somehow get the massive yum cha cravings whenever we are in the Inner West so it was good to hear that Luyu and Yum Yum is now opened in the vicinity. 

Dipping sauces: soy sauce, chilli oil, vinegar

Compared to the usual yum cha joints; the venue is fancier, prices were more expensive and the service was incredibly friendly and welcoming. Plus, the dumplings were like a work of art on your plate. 

Manga Dumpling *Hedgehog* - 3pc ($12.80)

While it was flour dough baked, the texture was similar to generic pan fried dumplings. Consisting of king oyster mushroom, Chinese mushroom, carrot and fungi, these vegetarian hedgehog dumplings were crispy, moreish rather adorable. CC thought they were a tad oily and too crunchy for her liking, but I thought the crisp texture was the best part. 

Snow White rabbit dumplings - 3pc ($12.80)

Another cute batch of dumplings shaped like an animal with an even more adorable name to boot. This contains prawn, asparagus, bamboo shoot and creamy soup in a Chrysanthemum infused potato starch dough.  

Caviar Dumplings - 4pc ($13.80)

We were feeling kinda fancy with these caviar dumplings. Filled with prawn, carrot, coriander and celery in a steamed rice dough pastry, these dumplings were plump, juicy and shaped like a steamed version of the traditional fried moneybags. 

Flying Seafood Dumpling - 4pc ($13.80)

These fish-shaped dumplings were filled with scallop, fish-ball, prawn, asparagus and flying fish roe in a steamed rice dough pastry. Like the other dumplings at Luyu and Yum Yum, they have a nice chewy texture that wasn't too thick or too thin. I've got a soft spot for scallop dumplings so it was no surprise that I wanted more of this.  

Mr Luyu "Starburst" Dumpling - 4pc ($11.80)

These are my fave dumplings of the lot. Not only did I love the xiao-long-bao shape, you can't help but notice its colourful fruit-infused flour dough, thin dumpling skin. While most xiao long bao contains pork, these dumplings consist of chicken in Mr Luyu homemade hot broth.

Kiss Me Dumplings - 4pc ($10.80)

Like the Starburst dumplings, these xiao long bao also consist of chicken instead of pork in addition to ginger and shallot in a hot broth. The texture is very thin and the broth is hot to handle when you try to devour these cheeky-named morsels. 

Before you start thinking that Luyu and Yum Yum is just dumplings, there are loads of non-dumplings dishes to enjoy such as fried rice, steamed fish, roasted duck and 7 flovaoured tofu. CC goes crazy for eggplant so we went with that option. These were crispy on the outside and piping hot on the inside. It was also rather sticky from the chrysanthemum honey plus soy, sesame and dried onion coated onto the fried batter. 

If you love your dumplings with a bit more of art and colour, you will be glad to hear that Luyu and Yum Yum is a lovely addition to the Newtown food scene. It's different from your usual cafes, Thai restaurants, cheap takeaways and dessert joints so it was no surprise that we often had to wait for a table in all of our visits so far (thankfully not very long). While the prices are a bit too expensive for me to return on a regular basis, the flavour, appearance, texture and ingredient combination would be enough for me to make a further visit or two to try more of their dumpling selection or even another serving of the above. And the cocktails look damn fine too. 

Luyu and Yum Yum
Level 1, 196 King Street, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9519 9888
Sun, Tues-Wed: 12:00pm - 3:00pm, 5:30pm - 10:15pm
Thurs-Sat: 12:00pm - 3:00pm, 5:30pm - 11:00pm
Mon: Closed
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Monday, August 17, 2015

Red Pepper, Strathfield

Hello again. It's been a while hasn't it? I know I've said this countless times before but I really have been busy with work, a trip to the snow, and getting sick twice over the last month. During all those busy times, one of the dishes that has got me craving for more has been Korean fried chicken. Recently, one of my friends made a visit to Sydney for his belated birthday celebrations where we all celebrated at Strathfield Sports Club's Red Pepper Bistro. 

The location was actually very hard to find with so many of us getting lost trying to find this unassuming location. While there was no signage for Red Pepper, the easy way to find the Strathfield Sports Club was the hidden small brick building next to the soccer field and tennis court if you are coming from the station. The inside venue was similar to a community hall where you grab the first avail table for yourself but don't let that deter you. There's a dozen different flavours of fried chicken to try, which was perfect for a group of twenty hungry people.

Spring onion fried chicken (H: $18.00, W: $34.00)

I was looking forward to trying the spring onion fried chicken after seeing it in countless photos. Was a bit puzzled when it showed up since it didn't look as crispy as I thought it would. There was a heavy amount of wasabi sauce coated onto the chicken skin, which was actually quite milder and sweeter than we expected. And when we were feeling guilty from all the fried chicken action, there was the bundle of spring onions clouded together on top just to make you feel a little bit better.

Snow cheese fried chicken (H: $18.00, W: $34.00)

After hearing so much about the snow cheese fried chicken from Red Pepper's little sister branch, The Sparrow Mill, I was intrigued to try this interesting combination. Despite the unusual flavour, this ended up being our favourite of the night. Not only was the chicken so damn crunchy, the cheese powder didn't overpower the juicy flavour and the tender meat. 

 Sweet and Spicy fried chicken (H: $18.00, W: $34.00)

Red Pepper wasn't kidding when they named this plate "Sweet and spicy fried chicken". It was sweet, saucy and mild at first but then it started to burn my tongue after multiple bites. The roasted garlic was also a nice touch.

Soy sauce fried chicken (H: $17.00, W: $32.00)

Forgot to take a photo of this when it arrived at our table so I only managed to snap it when we demolished half of it. It was sweet and very sticky from the rich soy sauce coating. Was also slightly spicy from what I could recall. 

The service was minimal but what matters the most was the many options of fried chicken to indulge on. This is great for large groups and easy to share and split bills especially when you over ordered like we did. If Strathfield is out of the way, the same menu is available at its little sister restaurant "The Sparrow Mill in the Town Hall/Chinatown side of the CBD. 

Red Pepper
Strathfield Sports Club
4a Lyons Street, Strathfield NSW 2135
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lan Yuan Restaurant, Ryde

Top Ryde Shopping Centre isn't somewhere I would usually go to very often since it is nowhere near where I live or work. Despite that, I was pleased to hear that there's a new Cantonese yum cha restaurant to cater the Chinese local in that part of Sydney. A few weeks ago, I attended a special blogger lunch thanks to the lovely folks at Wasamedia to sample a range of dishes that Lan Yuan has to offer. 

Steamed chicken with bok choy

As with nearly all Chinese restaurants, it was no surprise that there was so many dishes to sample. Many of which, were The first was the steamed chicken with bok choy. While there wasn't much flavour, the meat was tender and well-cooked. 

Prawn Dumplings

Chicken Dim Sum

Very satisfied with their dumpling offerings. Both the prawn har gow and the chicken siu mai were juicy and firm. They were also made to order in a similar format to the food at Tim Ho Wan. 

Hokkien-style deep fried eggplant  

Found that the deep fried eggplant was very addictive thanks to the seasoned and crispy batter as well as the firm and juicy eggplant. Ended up eating a few too many of this dish.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sure the sweet and sour pork sounds like a dish you would spot at numerous Chinese restaurants but the one that I tried at Lan Yuan was delightful. This traditional dish has that lovely crispy texture combined with the sweetness from the sauce and pineapple.

Yuan beef eye fillets with wasabi sauce

At first, I thought it was just a generic beef dish similar to what I would get at home but then that wasabi kicked in. While it wasn't as lethal as that wasabi sushi in Wagaya's sushi roulette (a video of my luck with that roulette is actually somewhere on Youtube), it still had a strong kick, which made this dish unusual yet interesting.

Egg yolk tofu

The egg yolk tofu was soft in the inside and lightly battered on the outside. While I do like anything with egg yolk, I thought that this was actually quite salty for my preference. 

Shandong Chicken

By this point, we have only eaten the entrees and my stomach was slowly filling up. Our main dishes started with the roasted chicken, which was tender and succulent. I really enjoyed the taste of the chicken that rolled well on the tongue. It wasn't too flavoursome but the soy sauce and the texture of the chicken takes this dish up a notch.

Wok-fried Singaporean mud crab with vermicelli noodles

Out of the many dishes I've sampled, this would be the highlight of the day. While it was hard to handle with the lack of tools to open the shell for the hidden crab meat, this traditional Singaporean dish was full of wonderful, saucy and tangy flavours. The vermicelli noodle base added a crunchier texture to this visual feast. Would gladly make the long trip to Ryde for this dish alone. 

Fried rice with fresh prawns and scallop topped with crab roe

I normally don't care too much for rice but I ended up enjoying this version of the usual fried rice. With the scattered crab roe as well as the moreish prawns and plump scallops, this dish would be an ideal one to accompany some of the meatier dishes on the menu.

Sweet and sour barramundi

I was too full by the time I got to sample this plate. The crunchy skin and batter covering the barramundi lying on pool of sweet and sour sauce was surprisingly visually spectacular. It didn't came across my mind that there's a fish head in front of my face! 

Deep fried vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce

Deep fried vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce

I thought I was ready to throw in the towel but I knew I will regret not getting my hands on the fried ice cream. You get vanilla ice cream with the option of chocolate, strawberry, or caramel sauce. The smooth ice cream, the hint of coconut and the crumbed outer batter made me keen to devour more of this sweet treat. A nice way to end an epic lunch feast.

While Top Ryde is a bit too far for me to return on a regular basis, it's an ideal restaurant for a family outing or a catch up with friends. With a bar area at the front, there is a modern vibe to this venue in addition to the attentive staff. With its modern green decor scattered with bamboo and plants, the restaurant aims to create a calm atmosphere even with the busy and noisy yum cha crowds. You wouldn't even notice that the restaurant is inside a shopping centre because it really felt like the restaurant was holding well on its own with its serene atmosphere.

Disclaimer: The Random Foodie dined at Lan Yuan Restaurant, courtesy of Wasamedia. Opinions are however, my own.

Lan Yuan Restaurant
Shop 4005, Level 1, Top Ryde City Shopping Centre
Cnr Blaxland and Devlin Street, Ryde NSW 2144
(02) 9808 1030
Mon-Sun: 10:00am - 11:00pm
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Monday, July 6, 2015

Eating Around Melbourne - The Sweet Edition

I know guys. It's already been almost three months since my Melbourne trip and I still haven't finished reviewing everything. Some of the best memories of the recent Melbourne foodventures were the unique sweet offerings that you won't find in Sydney...yet.


While it's currently no longer located upstairs within the Queen Victoria Markets, you can find them stocked at various cafes around Melbourne including The Kettle Black, Top Paddock, Fifty Acres, Axil Coffee Roasters (to name a few) depending on the day. According to their website, they will be opening a new location on Bourke Street in the near future. After spending at least five minutes staring at the doughnuts, my pick of the whole lot was the Bullseye. While there was that sweet, tangy and fruity flavour from the berry compote, you just can't resist the vanilla bean icing and the soft shortbread crumble.

Bullseye Doughnut ($5.50)

Doughboy Doughnuts
535 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 (opening soon)


Till now, I am still craving for the doughnuts at Shortstop. You can find different types of doughnuts here ranging from raised (pillowy, buttery and slightly chewy), filled, cake and cruller. While there's the usual faves like vanilla bean and cinnamon and sugar (with cardamon); you can also find the more unusual flavours such as New Orleans Iced Coffee, Earl Grey and Rose, Boston Cream and Macademia and Orange Blossom. This time, I went out hard and ordered the whole lot...then carried that box with me around Melbourne for the next hour an a half till I stopped back at the hotel before moving onto Fitzroy. Their churro-textured "Cruller" are a must have for its flakey yet soft taste as you bite into them. Will definitely come back here next time! Craving right now!

L-R: Vanilla Bean, Earl Grey and Rose, Hazelnut Chocolate and Banana  

"Cruller" Donuts: New Orleans Iced Coffee, Australian Honey and Sea Salt 

Shortstop Coffee and Donuts
12 Sutherland Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Mon-Fri: 7:30am - 4:30pm
Sat-Sun: 9:30am - 4:30pm
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We all remember the 7-layered lolly bag cake on Masterchef? Well I felt like a kid in a candy store when I stepped inside this wonderful place located on Toorak Road, pretty much the busiest street of South Yarra (it took FOREVER to get off the tram with all that traffic). Not only are these cakes, macarons and tarts so pretty, many of them are gluten free! Yesss. You can also find the cake tarts at its sister branch 'T by Luxbite' on Flinders Lane in Melbourne CBD on If only this is in Sydney. But then, considering the amount of Melbourne eateries branching out to Sydney lately, one can only hope. I'll let the pictures do all the talking. 

Endless Love - Lychee ganache, rose cream, lychee, fresh raspberries

Lolly Bag Cake

Chocolate Easter Freckles Macaron (available for Easter only...sorry)

38 Toorak Road, South Yarra VIC 3141
(03) 9867 5888
Mon-Sun: 10:30am - 7:00pm
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Chocolate, Hazelnut and Salted Caramel Tart

Apart from the high end shopping, South Yarra sure love their sweets. This store has more focus on chocolate with their cake creations and the signature tube desserts. Still felt like a kid in a candy store. Was getting into a sweet coma by this point of the day and sadly many of the treats here were best to have in store than takeaway so didn't savour as much as I would have liked. Though the chocolate, hazelnut and salted caramel tart was scrumptious in its sweet and salty way. Again, I'll let the photos do the talking.

Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio
647 Chapel Street, South Yarra VIC 3141
(03) 9827 7060
Mon-Sun: 10:00am - 6:30pm
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This concludes my many recaps of my April 2015 Melbourne trip. I hope you enjoyed looking at the food porn as I did. Hopefully there will be more Melbourne trips coming up soon later this year so I can get into Huxtaburger, The Kettle Black, Top Paddock, Proud Mary, Patricia Coffee Brewers, Duke Coffee Roasters, Chin Chin etc. Otherwise, there's always next year... 

My idea of shopping!