A while ago, a few friends have asked me on where I could find affordable Italian in the Sydney CBD area. Usually I would say Cafe Sopra but then the internationally renowned Vapiano (with more than 135 restaurants in 26 countries!) has opened its doors late last year for the hungry office workers in the area like myself. While the queues to order and wait for your food seemed like something you would expect at a fast food outlet, the quality was much better than I expected on my first visit months ago. Recently, I was invited to try the dishes on Vapiano's newly released Spring special menu which got me thrilled and curious to see what they offer.
It was exciting seeing the open kitchen during my previous visits which definitely takes away the boredom as you wait for your meal being prepared. The vibe was noisy and busy at the ground level though I only realised very recently that there was another level upstairs with more seating so you won't need to worry too much about the lengthy queues here.
When CC and I stepped inside, we were directed to the bar with a card so we can order our choice of drink. I decided to get the Raspberry Smash, which was fruity and sweet just as I liked it. CC really enjoyed her French Martini cocktail thanks to a suggestion from the bartender. I really liked the look of that cocktail especially the colour. CC thought it was light and sweet.
Villa Maria Arneis Hawkes Bay 2011
During the course of our dinner, we also got to sample a glass of Villa Maria Arneis Hawkes Bay 2011 white wine to pair off with the Pasta Gamberi con Rosso (more on that later). Arneis got its name from the Italians as another word for "little rascal", which was funny since the anniversary reunion of the 90's film happened not long ago (I feel really old...).
Classic Pumpkin Soup ($6.90)
The first dish that I tried from the Spring special menu was the Classic Pumpkin Soup where you can top it up with your choice of Parmesan, cream, croutons, and basil then mopped with freshly baked ciabatta bread. The sample that I tried had cream, which actually didn't deter me at all once I've had a taste. The cream mixed well together with the pumpkin base to deliver a smooth, creamy and flavoursome soup. The grated parmesan cheese, basil garnishes and croutons also mixed well for the balanced texture and extra crunch. Both CC and I enjoyed this soup so much that we were keen to finish it up but we had to save our stomachs for the other dishes.
Pizza Porporano ($19.90)
Another dish I was pleased with was the Pizza Porporano. This was a homemade and tomato mozzarella base topped with premium Aussie air-dried salted beef, rocket, shaved Parmesan and a drizzle of truffle olive oil. I always go crazy every time I could smell that truffle aroma. The base was thin with a fair amount of dough. Thought that the toppings tasted so well together especially with the air-dried salted beef aka bresaola.
Lately I've been very keen on trying the cured meats on charcuterie platters so it was fascinating learning about the origins of the bresaola. It was supplied by Speiss Australia at Wetherill Park in South West Sydney. The bresaola was fermented and air-dried for at least 10 weeks to the point where it loses 40% of its original weight. Although we were eating it with a thin crusted pizza base, the bresaola actually has less than 5% in salt and fat with loads of B vitamins and high protein to strengthen your bones.
Pasta Gamberi Con Rosso ($19.90)
Although I was slowly starting to get full at this point, I was surprised at how light the Pasta Gamberi Con Rosso really was. This contain prawns, chilli, semi-sun dried tomatoes, and sun dried tomato pesto with a pasta of your choice. The pasta itself had an al-dente texture while the semi-sun dried tomatoes with the pesto delivered a fresh and sweet flavour. The lemon wedge also helped in adding a flavour boost to the overall dish.
It was interesting when I noticed that CC got the same dish but with a different pasta shape (I believed the pasta used here was Torchino according to Google search). Apparently this was done on purpose to showcase the range of pasta options available at Vapiano. Personally both CC and I preferred the pasta with the curly edges since it matched well with the accompanied sauce especially with the flavour.
Risotto Pollo Levanto ($19.90)
By the time the Risotto Pollo Levanto arrived to our table, I was getting pretty stuffed from all the carbs (sighs). It was a creamy dish consisting of chicken, bacon, red onion, garlic, and chilli topped with Parmesan and basil. It actually reminded me of a carbonara or boscaiola pasta dish with some of those ingredients. While it was too heavy and creamy for my liking, the risotto rice was well-cooked with bitey texture plus there was plenty of bacon and chicken to enjoy.
White Chocolate Cheesecake with Salted Caramel and Honeycomb ($5.90)
Although I struggled with the previous dish, somehow there is always room for dessert! Gotta say that this dessert has exceeded my expectations. It was more sweet thanks to the salted caramel and honeycomb. You don't detect much of the cheese initially but you can sense its creamy texture and richness which complements with the sweetness from the other elements of the dessert. At first I wasn't sure if I would finish this dessert at first because of the rich texture but then the biscuit base won me over completely. Gotta love desserts with that firm but crumbly biscuit base.
At Vapiano, the basil plays a common theme throughout many of their dishes as its signature garnish. Throughout the venue, you can spot numerous pots of basil plants that were freshly grown before it's used for the pastas, risottos and other savoury meals.
If you wanna try one of the dishes in this post, you gotta head to Vapiano Sydney on King Street before 31st October because that's when the dishes on the Spring special menu will no longer be available (bit random since Spring doesn't end till November...). Was impressed by the new dishes that Vapiano has delivered on this occasion. It's a convenient location especially if you work around the area and the prices are reasonable in comparison with the portion size. Really liked the spacious layout, the food and the fact that there's always a bowl of free gummy bears to nibble when you leave the restaurant after paying your meal.
Speaking of freebies, The Random Foodie has 4 vouchers (yes 4 vouchers!) to giveaway for you and a guest to dine at Vapiano.
Each voucher entitles the winner and a guest to a free savoury dish (Pumpkin Soup, Pizza Poporano, Pasta Gamberi con Rosso, and Risotto Pollo Levanto) of their choice from the new Spring special menu and one White Chocolate Cheesecake with Salted Caramel and Honeycomb each. No booking is necessary with these vouchers.
For your chance to win 1 of the 4 vouchers, simply follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter app below.
1. These vouchers are for use at Vapiano Sydney only. Please do not enter the competition if you are unable to make it to Sydney before 31st October 2014.
2. The voucher entitles to the winner and guest to a choice of savoury dish from the Spring special menu and a white chocolate cheesecake with salted caramel and honeycomb.
3. Giveaway closes at 11:59pm AEST on Sunday 28th September 2014.
4. The winners will be notified by email and announced on the blog and relevant social media sites on Monday 29th September 2014.
5. The winners must reply back with their address details within 48 hours to ensure receipt of voucher before the expiry date.
6. The vouchers must be used by 31st October 2014.
Good luck everyone!
Disclaimer: The Random Foodie dined as a guest of Vapiano Sydney. Opinions are however, my own.
Corner King Street and York Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9299 0079
Sun-Thurs: 11:00am - 11:00pm
Fri-Sat: 11:00am - midnight