Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Galeries Victoria Food Adventures, Sydney CBD

You may think 'Galeries Victoria food court has decent food?' Well the selection is not bad actually. For about a month, Galeries Victoria had a deal where you visit 4 of their restaurants, take away joints or cafes and you get a free meal from a selection of their renowned restaurants. All you need was to download the Galeries Victoria app on your smart phone and use it to scan the barcode when you purchase a meal of more than $8? Sounds too good to be true? For me, it kind of was but what matters most was the journey of trying out as many eating joints as possible before the deal finished on Friday 10th May.

It was a surprisingly tough adventure because my work place was closer to Martin Place so the closest food courts for me were the Westfield Food Court and MLC and some of the many hidden food courts around the Martin Place area catering to the office workers. But with a deal like this, the opportunity was just too good to miss.


This much smaller version of the Chat Thai restaurant empire is catered for those who want a quick lunch rather than waiting to get a seat in the restaurant like the other branches. It was around before the remodelling of the Galeries Victoria Food Court (back when it looked a lot less fancy then it does now) and has kept up with the glossier decor. What makes this different to other Chat Thai branches is that it really emphasises on delivering food fast. I accidentally stepped in line without knowing what to get and before I know it, I was at the front of the line with many hungry people waiting behind me gaaaah.

As it was a really warm day for Autumn, I decided to go with Som Dtum Sua, one of their many green papaya salads (looking at menu at other branches, I think this salad is only offered at the Galeries Victoria branch). According to the menu, it is the Laotian version of the green papaya salad consisting of rice noodles, pickled crab and fermented fish. While I applaud it for its fresh flavours, it was way too spicy for me especially with chilli flakes ever-present throughout the salad. I could only down half of the salad before the heat got to me. What the hell happened? So weeaaaak!

Som Dtum Sua ($13.90)

I'm a huge fan of satay chicken skewers ever since the regular uni lunch and dinner trips to Satan Thai. Can never get sick of them. Chat Thai's version is no exception. Aside from the tender chicken, the satay sauce has that chunky texture that I love especially with chopped peanuts. I also dig the cucumber chilli salad on the side which after that ordeal is thankfully not too intense on the palate.  

Chicken satay skewers ($3.00 each)

Might need to stay away from the spicy salads for a while. Will still come back to try the many other dishes that Chat Thai offers especially the noodles now that the weather is colder. As it was my first time using the app, I was having trouble figuring out how it works and the staff were quite patient and attentive to my requests. You can also find Chat Thai branches in Haymarket, Westfield CBD, Manly and Randwick.

Chat Thai
Shop 1, Lower Ground
500 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9283 5789

Chat Thai on Urbanspoon


I wanted to head to this restaurant more often to try the pho since my last visit in early 2012 but it often escaped my mind every time I head to the city. Possibly because I wasn't sure how good the pho would be especially after many disappointments around the CBD area in the past. Better late than never! 

At Madame Nhu, they seem to offer a wide range of pho dishes. While there was the usual beef pho (pho nam, pho tai, pho dac biet), there was also chicken pho, prawn pho and vegetarian pho! I don't usually order the pho dac biet but when I do, I expect it to be brilliant. Thankfully I found that Madame Nhu's version is one of the better pho dishes that I've had in the CBD area. While they didn't offer the usual pho dac biet ingredients like tripe and tendon; the three styles of beef consisting of the thick-cut Tasmanian beef brisket, medium-well sliced rump steak and the beef in the form of meat balls were enough to satisfy my taste buds. What makes this better was the fragrant and flavoursome broth in addition to the well cooked rice noodles. My only issue was the bits of fat sticking onto the beef brisket and the broth filling up right to the top so it was splashing everywhere on my tray. Nothing major though. Will definitely head here more often whenever I am craving for pho at lunch.

Signature dac biet ($10.50)

Madame Nhu
Shop 5, Lower Ground
500 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 92833355

Madame Nhu on Urbanspoon


Everyone who is into Japanese food will know about Ichi-Ban Boshi on Level 2 of Galeries Victoria where there are constant queues of hungry diners waiting outside the restaurant. Since the food court renovation, they have opened another branch at the lower ground food court where you can get the same food from that restaurant with lower prices, fast service and without the need to wait for a table. At Ichi Ban Boshi Express, the main menu is limited compared to the restaurant version but they do offer some of their ramen dishes as special items including the Tokyo Ramen, Karaage Ramen and Tofu Ramen. You can also add variety to your ramen by ordering extra toppings (like for $1-$3 extra.

Was surprised that their Tokyo ramen was not in the regular menu as it was declared by Ichi-Ban as their 'most popular style of ramen' but it can be spotted on the separate special menu at the front of the counter. As the Tokyo ramen is a soy-based ramen, I found the broth to be slightly salty though it was also dark, clear and not heavy at all compared to Gumshara's tonkotsu ramen though it was very filling (NB: tonkotsu ramen is unavailable at Ichi-Ban Boshi Express. There is also only 15 servings available per day if you try your luck at Ichi-Ban Boshi on Level 2). I also really enjoyed the thick slices of pork, the halved, soft-boiled oozy egg for some good protein boost, the crispy nori (seaweed) sheet and the ramen noodles, which has a nice bitey texture that we all want when we eat a bowl of ramen. It was a plain looking broth but it was perfect for a cold winter day. 

Tokyo Ramen ($9.00) 

Very keen to try the miso ramen, won ton ramen and the karaage ramen when I head to Ichi-Ban Boshi next time. If you are not a fan of ramen, there was also udon and soba noodles dishes as well as non-noodle plates like the rice bowls or a side dish of edamame. Will definitely head to Ichi-Ban Boshi at level 2 to try out their generous selection of dishes...if only I can bear with the queues. 

Ichi Ban Boshi Express
Shop 8, Lower Ground
500 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9264 7780
Ichi-Ban Boshi Express on Urbanspoon

Ichi Ban Boshi
Level 2, The Galeries,
500 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
02 9262 7677
Ichi-ban Boshi on Urbanspoon


One thing that I've spotted at lunch times here from my visits were the huge crowds waiting to order at the Mero Mero counter. This one serves salads, sandwiches, paninis and wraps, which will appeal to the health conscious and vegetarian market...although they do also serve macarons! It even lets you make your own salad using the choices on a card. Knowing the epic queues at lunchtime and because work was too hectic that day for me to head down to Galeries Victoria, I decided to check it out much later since it was a Thursday evening. 

On this occasion, I was keen to try the Spicy Italian sandwich but the bread was sold out. They did offer the same fillings as a wrap so I went along with that. Was surprised at how long the wrap was. Really really long. I was so hungry that I ended up having a bite before taking a photo. Sorry guys.

Spicy Italian Wrap ($11.00)

The service was ok but not too welcoming however the food was satisfying enough. Really enjoyed the crispy coating on the chicken as well as the spicy mayo and the fresh tomatoes. Having said that, the Spicy Italian Chicken really wasn't spicy at all so it's good if you can't stand extremely spicy food. Ended up getting very messy from the sauce and the really massive wrap itself. In fact I got full very fast after eating more than half of the wrap. Might try one of the salads or sandwiches next time I'm here or at its Westfield store.

Mero Mero
Shop 8, Lower Ground
500 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Mero Mero on Urbanspoon


I wasn't sure if I fulfilled my four meals at four different restaurants in order to get a free 5th meal especially after my epic confusion at Chat Thai when I was using the app for the first time. So I decided to go for a backup and try one more restaurant in case it didn't go through. I was also keen for sushi. Unbelievably, I have only been to Sushi Hotaru once when they've first opened a couple of years ago. I know I should go here more often especially since all of their plates (except sashimi and side plates) are priced at $3. 

Unfortunately as it was a Friday lunch (and the last day of the promotion), there was a massive line of people waiting to get a table. Inside you can see the diners sitting at the long sushi train as well as some other diners sitting at tables where they order using the ipad similarly to Mizuya and Wagaya. Was going to give up and head back down until I've noticed the sign outside the restaurant, which listed the lunch bento box special.

There are a few choices for Sushi Hotaru's lunch box including the Mix Box A which has mostly nigiri sushi and a couple of sushi rolls, the salmon box with 5 pieces of salmon nigiri sushi and six salmon sushi rolls. I ended up choosing the Mix Box B that consists of 6 different varieties of nigiri sushi (8 pieces in total). You also get a complimentary miso soup with the lunch box.

Lunch Box - Mix Box B ($12.00): Clockwise from Top Left: Grilled Salmon x 2, Grilled Scallop x 2, Kingfish, Tuna, Scallop, Salmon

Both the grilled salmon and the scallop nigiri sushi were winners for me as they were made to order. I really loved the charred texture that you can immediately taste as you pop it into your mouth.

Grilled scallop nigiri - well cooked. love the texture!
Grilled salmon nigiri - Slightly pinkish on the side but still has the smoky texture which makes it very tasty

I also found the raw nigiri sushi to be very delicious though quite cheeky. As I bite into the sushi, I notice a little bit of wasabi creeping between the seafood and the rice. Love it! My fave ones to recommend would be the salmon and the kingfish but to be honest I really like them all!

Salmon nigiri - it's amazing how thick the salmon was cut!
Scallop nigiri - very juicy

Tuna nigiri - flavours were interesting. The colour looks quite funky

Kingfish nigiri - don't eat enough kingfish these days. Very yummy and refreshing

Thought that the miso soup was useful to cleanse the palate after too much sushi. Great to have on a cold winter day.

Miso soup

Possibly one of the best sushi places I've ever had. Everything was freshly made and tasty. If I ate at the restaurant, I could easily down a few plates. At least 8 of them. Really wishing that my work place was much closer to this gem.

Sushi Hotaru
Shop RP1, 500 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Sushi Hotaru on Urbanspoon


About a week later, I finally got confirmation that I got the free meal. Yay!!! Around this point, I've been having epic cravings for Malaysian food thanks to the onslaught of winter weather lately so I finally head my way back to Galeries Victoria for one of their free meal options at Jimmy's Recipe , which specialises in Malaysian cuisine including classics like har mee, Nasi Lemak, char kway teow, murtabek and, of course, laksa. 

While there were heaps of people waiting to order their food, the line moves very quickly. Also, no matter how packed it gets you can still find somewhere to sit either inside or at the tables outside in front of the restaurant. About less than 1 minute later, I was already at the front of the line. Now when I ask the person at the counter about the free meal, she said that the free meal promotion is over. While checking into 4 different restaurants using the Galeries Victoria app has finished on 10th May, the free meal deal is still valid until 31st May. It got rectified pretty quickly and I got my meal within a flash. Literally within one minute of ordering or much less. I barely had time to breath before the laksa was already on the tray.

Chicken laksa ($8.20) 

It was interesting spotting and tasting two different types of noodles in my laksa which were vermicelli and hokkein noodles. The serving was so huge and generous that my stomach felt like it needed pumping as I was stumbling back to work. The broth was fairly creamy and smooth, while the chicken was tender and easy to pull apart. Everything from the broth to the noodles and the chicken were so flavoursome that your tastebuds are partying really hard in your mouth and you just wanna have more and more. Unfortunately, your stomach is saying otherwise as it was rich and thick...and it does have coconut milk which will scream gym time for your weight. While you can sense the spicy flavours, it was not too hot that it burns your tongue. I have heard how amazing the laksa really is at Malay Chinese Takeaway so will definitely try it soon. 

To be honest, I haven't eaten much laksa in my whole life. About two times to be exact. So I can't say on this occasion on whether it's the best laksa I've ever had in Sydney (or so they claim on their menu) since I haven't tried it at other restaurants yet. For what I've had, I really enjoyed it and will say that it's a winner for me. There were so many dishes that I need to try at Jimmy's Recipe especially the Har Mee, Haianese Chicken Rice and Char Kway Teow so I'll need to make a few more visits. While there was a minor mishap and a bit of language barrier, it was extremely quick service, really cheap prices and delicious food with massive servings. Now excuse me while I hit the treadmill...

Jimmy's Recipe
Shop RG16, Galeries Victoria
500 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9267 2288
Jimmy's Recipe on Urbanspoon


  1. you sure made your way through TGV :P

    1. lmao pretty much! XP. didn't have time to eat inside sushi hotaru or ichi ban boshi on level 2 but will def check them out soon

  2. Wow you tried everything didn't you? :D

    1. not really lol. more like one dish per restaurant. didn't even have time to go to Ichi Ban Boshi upstairs

  3. Replies
    1. so crazy. wish my workplace was closer

  4. When I worked nearby, Galeries was my favourite food court for lunch - such a good selection of places to eat!

    1. definitely! always interesting at what you find at some food courts. had no idea that Jimmy's Recipe even existed until the promotion deal came up. one of those blink and u miss it kind of places

  5. That is such an amazing effort of eating your way through Galeries Victoria. Well done on finally getting your freebie meal.

    1. it was so much crazy effort especially since this happened during the last 2 weeks of the promotion. wasn't even sure if the app was working half of the time lol

  6. Replies
    1. felt so gluttonous by the end. or maybe that was just the laksa :p

  7. Sushi hotaru is my go-to sushi place! Although sometimes the queue can be so long, the service is quick and fast & the sushi always delicious!

    1. the queue was insane when i was there so ended up getting takeaway. it was a friday lunch though. hope to head there again for lunch when it's less busier or just for dinner. definitely one of my fave sushi places!

  8. Those sushi looks sooooo fulfilling! I can just imagine bitting on that fat piece of sashimi mmmmmm

    1. this is so true especially with the salmon :)

  9. I love the food at the Galeries and really want to try Jimmy's! Sushi Hotaru is def my fave sushi train - everything they have is so fresh and tasty and really not too pricey!

    1. Jimmy's recipe is super quick and the laksa is pretty decent from what i've had. should head back there soon to try more dishes esp now it's winter

  10. Good work on getting the free meal! Love those options at Galeries, I've been a fan of Jimmy's laksa for the longest time...

    1. haha thanks :D. wish Jimmy's recipe and Ichi Ban boshi were much closer to where i work then i would be going here everyday.

  11. I saw the curry noodles. Coming from Malaysia, that soup looks REALLY good! Shame my trip was only 2 days long ahah. But everything is looking really fine though :)! Definitely on my books the next time I go Sydney ;)!

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