Saturday, September 28, 2013

Chur Burger, Surry Hills (and it's my 2nd Blog Birthday!)

OK where has the time gone?!?! I didn't end up celebrating my 1st bloggerversary / bloggiversary / blogaversary /blogiversary (seriously guys how do you spell that?) and I have no idea what to do for my 2nd one. I would say that over the last couple of years, I have gone through so many changes that it's just incredible. When I started The Random Foodie in late September 2011, I was near the end of my job at the time. What inspired me to do a food blog was the passion and love to explore different cuisines...and I have been a bit of an explorer. Before I started this blog, I was already super excited to check out pretty cool restaurants with my former colleagues. After a few requests from friends, I eventually started this blog. Why 'The Random Foodie'? To be honest, I couldn't think of a better name. Plus I guess back then, I like to be anonymous when it comes to reviewing restaurants. These day, not so much ahahaha. 

Since then, I have gained lots of weight for the love of food and eventually lost a lot of weight this year too (I still love to eat out dammit! It's so hard!). There was also some great foodie moments including meeting some amazing food bloggers, getting invites to a few cool events and travelled to Europe and Singapore. 

Thanks to everyone for your support and checking out my blog over the last couple of years. This includes enjoying the (not so great) pictures and the detailed content. I've appreciated the feedback that many of you have told me via this blog and in person. Cheers (or Chur hahaha) to 2 years of belly bursting fun times and more foodie adventures to come. Like this one. 

Speaking of random moments, I did not expect to end up dining at Chur Burger one night. I was with a few blogging mates at a bar that evening. We were so hungry and then one of us blurted out "let's go to Chur Burger!". Without hesitation, we all ended up here because it's a pretty damn awesome idea. Yup random moments are the best. For those who have no idea what I meant before, Chur is Kiwi for "cheers" (lol geddit? no? meh). Even though it was a Tuesday night, we waited for about 15 minutes for a free table...which wasn't too bad for an eating joint that has been on the lips of those in the food scene for months. While the atmosphere was noisy and buzzing, this was combined with decent and attentive service from the staff. 

You can order your food after seating at your tables or, if there are no seats left, you can also order at the counter while you wait for a table. Despite the busy crowd, the food gets delivered incredibly fast to our tables. Oh the choices!

Saucy times

We were spoilt for choice so it took a while for us to decide. Even the sides look appetising. I was in the mood for beef burgers at the time so it has gotta be the Grilled Beef Burger with cheese, tomato jam, mustard mayo and pickle. The picture below does not do this burger any justice. With a juicy beef patty with a bit of pinkness in the middle, zesty pickles and a soft and fluffy brioche bun, the burger is amazing stuff. 

Grilled Beef Burger ($10.00)

Oooooohhh yeaaahhhhh!!!

I didn't end up trying the Pulled Pork Burger (with Chur BBQ sauce, red slaw, fennel mayo) on my first visit but it got positive responses from those who did try it. It looked incredibly delicious that it was the reason I went back again recently. On my second visit, both CC and I tried the pulled pork but on this occasion, we thought that the pulled pork was chewy and not as seasoned or flavoursome as we had hoped. The BBQ sauce was quite runny so it didn't add much to the burger. This led to making good use of the other sauces to add some more flavour. However, the amount of pulled pork was still generous which was what I enjoyed the most from this burger. 

Pulled Pork Burger - 1st Visit (($10.00)

Pulled Pork Burger - 2nd Visit

I didn't end up trying the Crumbed Fish Fillet burger (with pickled cucumber, dill and lemon mayo) but C thought it was good and crunchy. Looks so tasty. Will definitely try it out in future visits.

Crumbed Fish Fillet Burger ($10.00)

Not sure if it's me or are sweet potato fries popping up at lots of menus across Sydney these days. Chur Burger's version has chunky pieces of sweet potato which was delicious but incredibly salty. We couldn't seem to detect the garlic and lime though I assume that might have been the seasoning. We ordered too many of these so there were leftovers due to its very generous servings. 

Sweet Potato Fries, Garlic, Lime ($5.00)

I tried a few of these chips and found these to be very addictive. Not good for those on a low carb diet but damnnn they were so crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the inside. I didn't seem to notice too much chilli inside so it seems to be alright for those who can't handle it. Again a very generous serving for us.

Chips with chilli salt ($5.00)

Since Chur Burger is owned by Warren Turnball, the same chef who formerly owned District Dining, I was so happy and a tad surprised when I spotted Quail eggs on the menu again. This time I thought these treats were better than ever. Oozy egg yolk and crumbled coating combined with the tangy tarragon sauce was the highlight out of the snacks menu. Soo good!

Crispy Quail Eggs with Tarragon Mayo ($10.00)

We all enjoyed the milo and salted caramel (didn't get a photo for this one :( sorry) milkshakes although they were quite thick and rich. Some of us thought it was too much to handle especially with all the other food we've had. Nevertheless, they are still sweet and refreshing to have especially on a warm day.

Milo Milkshake ($8.00)

While some people reckon that it's a bit pricey compared to Maccas and HJ's, I reckon it's one of the cheap eats considering the size of the burgers and the location. Would love to check it out again to try the fish burger and the spiced chickpea fritter burger (note this vegetarians!) sometime soon. Great social vibe, quick and friendly service and no fuss. Churrrr!

Chur Burger
48 Albion Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9212 7979
Chur Burger on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Palomino Espresso, Sydney CBD

To be honest, I'm always intrigued at the number of bars and cafes located on York Street. With eateries like Stitch Bar, Loaf and Devotion, Ipoh on York, Uncle Ming's, Mojo Record Bar and Palomino Espresso located on the same street within minutes of each other, the world is really your oyster when it comes to a lunch or dinner outings in that vicinity. When it comes to a quick but filling lunch, I've been making regular trips to Palomino Espresso for their decent selection of lunch options that won't break your budget. 

From the look of the cafe, you can imagine it to be something you would see in Surry Hills or Newtown rather than your average CBD cafe with the cute decor, down-to-earth staff and freshly baked delights. The vibe is incredibly busy especially at peak hour lunch but the turnover time to order and get your food is actually very quick unless you purchase something that is made to order. It's pretty hard to get a dine here due to its small space so it's easier to get takeaway if you are having a very short lunch break. The lunch selection is also generous from sandwiches to salads to even a few pies that are only available on certain days.

I've ordered the Reuben sandwich a couple of times from this cafe with different experiences. The first time, I got it takeaway to bring back to the office due to a busy day. When I took a bite of this sandwich, I was in heaven! Balanced ingredients and flavours with decent slices of leg ham and lightly toasted rye bread. The melted swiss cheese didn't have a strong taste though it was stringy which was what I loved in cheeses hehe. It was so good that I was keen on ordering it again on my next visit.

Reuben sandwich w/leg ham, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, ($7.50)

On my next visit, I had more time on my hands so I opted to dine in even though it was packed inside the cafe. While it was delicious, there was noticeably an overwhelming amount of sauerkraut which overpowered the sandwich and not as much ham compared to my earlier visit. Despite that, I still enjoyed this meal and would like to order it again and again. Whether you dine-in or takeaway, this will only set you back at $7.50 which is pretty damn cheap for a cafe in Sydney these days.

Very pleased with the coffee from Palomino Espresso. It uses Morgan's Handmade Coffee beans which delivers a smooth, creamy texture and a slightly strong coffee taste that gives you a kick when work is tiring you out. Didn't get to order it when I was dining at the restaurant since I was already overloaded with coffee that day but I did have a peek at the coffee art presented to the diners during these visits.

Skim Mocha - Small ($3.50)

Recently I made another trip to try something different. I was craving for something beefy and the roast beef sandwich caught my attention immediately. While it was more expensive than nearly everything on the menu and it took much longer to make since it was made to order, it was worth the experience. The picture below does not do this sandwich any justice. It is a massive sandwich to each. It was sweet, tangy and incredibly messy to eat with generous portions of fillings between the bread slices. Probably good to share with a friend or a co-worker who happened to be staring at your sandwich for a few minutes.

Roast beef sandwich w/ caramelised onion, tomato, rocket and aioli ($13.00)

Since making the trip to York Street, this place has been one of my new fave cafes for a quick cheap lunch these days. Great place to check out. Very different to many other cafes you see around the city with its buzzing vibe as well as niche and interesting decorations. Service was good from past experience and the food has been delicious. Need to make more visits to try out the baked goods (especially that brownie) on the stands near the counter in addition to those healthy and seemingly delicious salads. If only the brekkie menu was available all day and this cafe was much closer to work.

Palomino Espresso

Shop 1/61 York Street, Sydney NSW 2000 (near Wynyard Station)
Palomino Espresso on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Malay Chinese Takeaway, Sydney CBD

Despite what we all believe, you can actually still find cheap eats in the heart of the Sydney CBD when you are in need of a decent meal for your lunch break. One of the most popular, tastiest and cheapest places to eat in the Sydney is Malay Chinese Takeaway - often declared by foodies and laksa fans everywhere as having the best laksa in Sydney. I'm not much of a laksa expert but at the time it was a cold day and this eatery is quite close to work so why not?

Malay Chinese Takeaway is located on Hunter Street (next door to Frankie's Pizza) where crowds of corporate workers rush in for their quick feed in the peak hour of the weekday lunch. If you go at any other time of the weekday (before 12pm and after about 2pm) or all day on Saturday then it should be much more quiet. Thankfully, the queue moves quickly and after making your order, the service is incredibly fast too. In a mere few minutes after ordering, a full bowl of laksa is already on your hands. The trouble is actually finding a free seat. So far I've been lucky...

There is a decent range of choices from the menu including the curries, Char Kway Teow and Hainan Chicken. There is also daily specials including Har Mee, Combination Clear Soup and Assam Laksa. But of course, everyone comes here for their famous laksas which are listed on the blackboard menu as you enter inside the restaurant. 

I ended up going with the chicken laksa which is packed with bundles of tender chicken pieces and tofu is so soft and juicy that it bursts a mouthful of laksa broth in your mouth as you chew it. The colourful, thick, rich and creamy broth was quite spicy but not to the point that it becomes unbearable for those who cannot stand the stuff. The serving was extremely generous that I struggled to finish the whole bowl. Definitely not the best option for anyone on a diet as it is oily and it will keep you full and bloated for the rest of the day (farewell weight loss!). Best laksa in Sydney? To be honest, I don't eat laksa very often, but I enjoyed it and it tastes amazing so I guess that's what matters the most. 

Chicken Laksa ($8.70)

I made another visit recently to try the beef laksa. It is pretty much the same as the chicken laksa except with chunky pieces of beef. Bit tough for my liking but otherwise the laksa broth and the vermicelli noodles were still delicious.

Beef laksa ($8.70)

Malay Chinese Takeaway is perfect for anyone who is craving for a well-fed meal on a budget with prices for most of the dishes being less than $10. Not to mention that all dishes at this eatery cost no more than $12. Will be making more visits to try the other laksa flavours as well as some of their specials including the Har Mee. I heard that they do a killer job in that dish.

Malay Chinese Takeaway
58 Hunter Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9231 6788
Malay Chinese Takeaway on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Mary's, Newtown

This winter, there have been a few eateries that have been garnering loads of hype on the bloggersphere. You know which restaurants they are. Mary's is one of those hyped up dining joints that have been on the radar of foodies and hipsters across Sydney. Named after the street location of the eatery, it has certainly got my attention before it opened when I heard that they serve American cuisine. I got even more interested when I heard that they serve fried chicken. Of course I got to plan the perfect time for a cheat day because this is definitely not healthy stuff.

There's a few things we've noticed when we were inside the restaurant. Firstly, it was incredibly noisy and busy for a Tuesday night. CC and I spent half of our time here screaming at each other. Secondly, it definitely has that hipster vibe that you will get at places like the cafes and small bars around Surry Hills and Newtown. Great for us but not so great if you're not a fan of those kind of places. And thirdly, like most bars and restaurants around Sydney these days, the entire place was dark so we had trouble taking proper pics (yes guys I do need an SLR camera). One thing we loved was the friendly and attention service when we were there. Smiles all round despite an incredibly busy and crowded atmosphere. The entire menu which is listed on a blackboard is so small that you could easily order everything off the menu in one night if you can handle it (or bring a couple more mates). 

It was just a Tuesday night and we had work the next day so we went with the non-alcoholic lemon lime bitters. They do have an incredibly generous selection of alcoholic drinks for you to enjoy if you want to have a wild night out including the local favourite Young Henry's beer (something for my alco readers hehe). Just one thing to note: whether you want to get food or drinks, you need to order at the bar. Brace yourself for queues.

Lemon lime bitters

ERMAGHERDDDD FRIIIEEEDDDD CHICKENNNNNN!!! So freaking crispy and crunchy! And the chicken was tender and moist. None of that dry stuff. Since we also ordered burgers, we decided to get the half-bird to share which was about 5 pieces. You can also order a Whole Bird of fried chicken for $28 or a Larry Bird (the equivalent for two whole chickens) for $50! Anyway I seriously cannot get over how crunchy the coating on this chicken really was! With the added paprika, it delivered a touch of spiciness to dish. I think Hartsyard might have a little competition on their hands in terms of deliciously crunchy Southern Fried Chicken.

Fried Chicken - Half bird ($16.00)

We weren't sure whether to order the mash and gravy but we were glad that we did in the end. The creamy and buttery mash makes the fried chicken taste even more amazing with the added flavour and texture that works perfectly together. We also enjoyed dipping our fries into the mash and gravy. Got addicted to it by the end even though we were getting pretty full.

Mash and Gravy ($5.00)

Of course we were here for the famed burgers that so many have declared "the best burgers in Sydney!". But is it? On this occasion, I went with the cheeseburger which came with a generous handful of fries. I liked how glossy the bun looked and how soft it tasted. It was also slightly sweet but not to the point that it takes over the overall flavour. The thin patty combined with the melted cheese, zesty mustard and the tangy secret sauce resulted in an incredibly juicy and burger. We couldn't help but think that the burger reminded us of the burger from Maccas down to the size of the burger but more juicy with a softer bun. The same goes with the French fries though it was crisp and addictive when dipped in mash and gravy.

Cheeseburger ($14.00)

CC decided to go with Mary's burger which looks almost exactly like the cheeseburger but with lettuce and tomato. Again it reminded us of Maccas with the size of the burger though it tasted plump, tender and juicy when I had a bite of it. Will definitely try this out next time.

Mary's burger ($14.00)

If you are vegetarian, you can also get the 'shroom burger' ($12.00) which is similar to a cheeseburger except with a field mushroom patty instead of a beef patty. Will check this out on a later date for the vegetarian readers :).

While they look like Maccas' burgers, it was the taste that makes Mary's burgers a notch above them. There was a cool, social and down to earth vibe which was perfect to hang with a few mates for dinner and drinks. For the size of the burgers, the prices are quite steep. The cheeseburger is the same price as the Mary's burger but the former has less fillings than the latter. While I wouldn't immediately declare the burgers as the best in Sydney, they are still delicious comfort food and I will be making more visits there especially for the fried chicken.

Tabasco sauce and salt in mini JD bottles ...seriously!

6 Mary Street, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 4995 9550
Mary's on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 2, 2013

MooBerry, Newtown

Last year, I was addicted to frozen yoghurt. I was one of those many people making regular trips to Moochi, Noggi or Yogurberry like a pilgrimage back when you could only find them in places like Strathfield or Chatswood. Fast forward to 12 months later and times have changed. In about a year, froyo shops have pretty much dominated nearly every single suburb in Sydney (especially the George Street area near Town Hall) to the point when you literally sigh every time yet another froyo bar opens. As of now, the froyo craze has affected Newtown severely to the point where it is now more known for having way too many froyo joints (at least 5 I think...) rather than its soulful attitude, alternative culture and the many Thai restaurants back in the day. 

There are froyo franchises of the usual brands popping up everywhere (Moochi, Yogurberry, Yoghurtland, Noggi etc). Then there are independently owned froyo shops, like Mooberry in Newtown. In fact, this is the creation of John X and Janine who run this as a family business for the love of froyo and desserts. So when I got an invite to a tasting session at Mooberry by John X, I was curious to see how this compared to all of the ever-increasing competition around Sydney. It took a while to happen because I was getting sick very often this season. The last thing I wanted while having a terrible cough, epic sneezing and a sore throat was something cold like frozen yoghurt. Eventually I finally found the time to check Mooberry to see what was so different to the other froyo joints. It was also close to V's birthday and he was equally curious to try this out. 

While there is still some of the usual decor that you would expect from a froyo bar (crystal clear colours that dominates the store, neon sign, EDM background music lol), Mooberry adds a few touches to make it a bit more interesting with grass walls, deer head models, picture frames with interesting pics and messages, mirrors and even some empty milk bottles. Kinda makes you think that you are entering into a cafe instead of a froyo bar for a second. 

We were intrigued by the promotional deals that Mooberry offers but were sadly disappointed that it's for students only. A good thing to note is while some froyo bars have deals for high school students, Mooberry has deals for uni students with their College VIP card and unlimited toppings for $1 on Tuesdays. Damn you uni students.

The service was impeccable, enthusiastic, helpful and friendly on all the times I've been there since it opened in December 2012. It turns out that Mooberry uses real yoghurt and proper ingredients to make their froyo - none of that artificial stuff. Yes there are the standard froyos and a decent range of smoothies. Yes there are waffles too...but with froyo on the side! But what really stood out was the amount of decadent desserts that they offer. This includes desserts like dark chocolate souffle (which was sadly unavailable on the night), single or double hot shots (e.g. honey, chocolate, espresso and warm nutella) and a coconut affogatto? Helloooooo coffee!

This is for everyone on know why

Forgot to ask for toppings on the night but from previous visits, they do offer a generous selection including pearls, choc pieces, golden gaytime crumble and even mini macarons for 70c extra. You can also get Belgian mini wafers for $1 extra. 


The way Mooberry works is similar to Moochi and Noggi's model where you order your froyo flavour/s at the counter and the staff makes it for you rather than the self-serve and weigh model like Yogurberry. V and I preferred this method as it is cheaper and we tend to overstuff our froyo tubs. While the Original and Coconut flavours were often available, most of the froyo flavours at Mooberry change on a regular basis. On the night, we got to sample Original, Coconut, Watermelon and Tiramisu (which was their newest flavour). 

Tiramisu and Watermelon froyo

I personally enjoyed all the flavours while V thought that the watermelon froyo was his favourite but we definitely enjoyed the range of treats that Mooberry offers. The tiramisu froyo had that sweet and creamy taste that I like from a tiramisu dessert while the watermelon had that fruitiness that I immediately noticed. I even liked the vanilla one which tastes like real Vanilla (that I really love) rather than the artificial Vanilla that generally leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It was smooth, soft and creamy though I would try to eat it as soon as possible because it melts pretty quickly.

Original froyo

Although the churros and the souffle weren't available on the night, there were still waffles! At Mooberry, you get waffles with 2 toppings and a froyo on the side and drizzled with melted chocolate. Sounds very rich and dense if you ask me. We went with Mooberry's famous coconut flavour as our choice of froyo for the waffles with strawberry and banana toppings. Everything on this plate worked so well together from the smooth, heavenly and rich Belgian chocolate to the warm and crispy waffles to the fresh strawberries and banana. And as for the coconut froyo? Tastes like real coconut with a balance of sweetness. Definitely the highlight of our evening.

Belgian waffles with melted chocolate, froyo and two toppings ($12.90 for one/$17.90 for two)

Despite getting full from the froyos and the waffles, we must not forget to try Mooberry's signature coconut affogato. This came with an espresso shot to pour over the coconut froyo. While V was generally not a coffee person, he thought this treat was nice to have on a warm evening. As you can see I poured a bit too much espresso that the froyo was drowning in it. Thankfully there was that balance between the bitter coffee, the sweet coconut and the refreshing froyo. For some reason we didn't get the coconut shavings in the coconut affogato though I was too exhausted from work to notice this. Despite that, I wouldn't mind ordering this again next time. 

Coconut affogato ($6.50)

After all the food, we realised that we were still thirsty...and surprisingly hungry for savoury food. We couldn't help but wanted to try out one of the 9 flavours of smoothies that they have. They even have "Sneaky smoothies" for the chocoholics. Like myself when I ordered the'Cheeky Chocolate , which consists of Belgian chocolate, Tim Tams and froyo :p. It was thick, cool and refreshing for my liking. Good to try once the warmer weather hits our shores. 

V decided to go with the Mango Passion smoothie (Mango, Passionfruit and Original froyo), which I've noticed was one of their more popular smoothie flavours. I tried a little bit and thought it has a nice tangy flavour while V gave this flavour the thumbs up. 

While I'm still over the froyo trend that is escalating across Sydney and even as far as Wollongong, Mooberry is actually a breath of fresh air to the tiresome trend with decadent desserts that will satisfy our cravings and decent quality frozen yoghurt. It is these desserts and the real tasting froyo that differentiates itself over the many other froyo bars that are popping up on King Street these days. Will certainly come back here again to try out the dark chocolate souffle and the churros next time I'm in Newtown. 

Disclaimer 1: The Random Foodie and co dined at Mooberry, courtesy of John X and the Mooberry team. Opinions are still personal. 

Disclaimer 2: Some of the items may only be available on their Winter menu. Things may change on the menu now that it's Spring. Sorry guys.

Mooberry - Real Froyo and Smoothies
160 King Street, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9557 4208
MooBerry - Real Froyo and Smoothies on Urbanspoon