Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Copper Mill, Alexandria

Located in Alexandria, The Copper Mill is a welcoming addition to the suburb's ever-growing cafe and restaurant scene that has been expanding since the opening of The Grounds of Alexandria. It's also a good walking distance from St Peter's Station and even closer to Sydney Park if you happen to be in the area. As you step inside, you notice the industrial decor of the joint While it's quiet on the weekdays, it's much more busier on the weekends especially with the limited seating inside so there will be a small wait for the tables at peak hours (though not as bad as the Grounds of course).

It's rare to find a cafe where I actually want to try every single dish of the menu but The Copper Mill is definitely one of those places. What distinguishes this cafe to others within the vicinity is the Peruvian influence in many of the dishes from the menu thanks to their Peruvian chef. The menu changes regularly with some dishes being available on weekends only. You can definitely a number of dishes with certain ingredients that would be harder to find elsewhere such as the vegetarian dishes 'Portobello Mushies', the 'Puffed Galette', the Tacu Tacu and their own take of the 'Huevos Rancheros'. You know what's even better? The Copper Mill does all day breakfast. Score!

Skim Mocha ($4.00)

In all of my visits to this cafe, I've always loved the coffee here. Not only was the coffee art so pretty but the coffee itself was well balanced between the bitterness of the beans, the sweetness from the cocoa and the creaminess from the milk. The coffee was made using Golden Cobra's coffee beans which was unique compared to the usual names I've seen around the other cafes but certainly a winner for me.

Huevos Rancheros - blue corn tortilla, black beans, roasted capsicum, pecorino, sunny side eggs and bacon ($17.00)

One of the dishes that I've been looking forward to try at this cafe was the Huevos Rancheros. According to the staff, apparently this dish is only available on Sundays (possibly Saturday too but might need to double check). While most recipes see the eggs served on a crispy flour white tortilla, this version uses the more unique blue corn tortilla. It's insanely messy to handle and not too aesthetic with so many ingredients bundled together on the plate but the flavour combination was what mattered the most. The serving was more than generous so it would keep you full to the end of the day.

Peruvian Roll ($10.00)

Another unique dish at The Copper Mill was their signature Peruvian Roll.

With loads of unique ingredients and the leniency towards Peruvian cuisines, it's no wonder that I've constantly had craving to make return visits for many other dishes. The board menu changes on a regular basis however there are still a few regular dishes such as the Peruvian Roll that has been on the menu each time I've visited this cafe. The service seems friendly and attentive and most of the prices were actually on the cheaper end of the scale. The industrial-esque decor of the cafe may not look too fancy but it does represent the rustic appearance of the dishes and the overall down to earth atmosphere. Looking forward to returning again and again for more dishes such as the coddled egg and the beef hash.

The Copper Mill
338 Mitchell Road, Alexandria NSW 2043
Mon-Fri: 7:00am - 4:00pm
Sat-Sun: 8:00am - 4:00pm
The Copper Mill on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 19, 2015

Taste of Shanghai, Ashfield

Every now and then, I get really massive dumpling cravings. By that, I mean Shanghainese dumplings like Xiao Long Bao, boiled and pan fried dumplings to name a few. Since I currently reside in South West Sydney, the closest suburb where I could find many of these dumplings was Ashfield. One pouring rainy day in early December, we ended up in Ashfield where there were loads of cheap eat Chinese dumpling joints to choose from. Since we were parked at Ashfield Mall and we weren't keen to go across the street in the stormy wet weather, the closest we found was Taste of Shanghai located right next door to the shopping centre. 

Wonton in Red Chilli Oil Sauce ($9.80) 

We were so hungry so we went for the 4 most popular dumplings according to Taste of Shanghai's epic sized menu. The wontons in red chilli oil sauce actually weren't as spicy as they looked. There was still that subtle kick but nothing that will harm your tastebuds if you can't stand that stuff. Loads of flavour from the sauce which became handy for the next set of dumplings.

Poached Pork and Chive Dumplings ($9.80) 

Despite having the same price as the other dumpling plates, there was actually 12 pieces for this serving. Too generous for two people but plenty of left overs for tomorrow. Great value for money! While the poached (or boiled I guess) dumplings weren't as flavoursome as the others (used lots of soy and chilli oil sauces for this) but the pork and chive filling was soft and juicy. Also a slightly healthier option than the crispy variety...

Pan fried pork buns ($9.80)

Despite what I said just then, these pan-fried pork buns were my favourite of the lot! Cannot resist a pan fried pork bun especially with the crispy bottom base. Always a winner whenever I see that crispy base hehe. Although we were starting to get full by this point because of the thick dough pastry (and the Xiao Long Bao still hasn't showed up), we were keen to demolish this because it was so tasty. Be careful when handling these dumpling because the hot broth can squirt out if you bite it too quickly.

Xiao Long Bao ($9.80)

Yes we over ordered but I was still excited for the xiao long bao even though I was stuffed by this point. They weren't as silky thin as Din Tai Fung's version but they were still very easy to pierce so that the hot broth flows onto the spoon. Or inside the bamboo basket as I tried to pick them up. The decent amount of pork filling was just as tender, juicy and easy to devour. CC also thought that the xiao long bao and the pan fried pork buns were her faves and has since made multiple visits at this joint. 

With so many dumpling joints in Ashfield (and Sydney CBD where another branch is located at the same shopping centre as Din Tai Fung), it's hard to pick a favourite especially with New Shanghai and Shanghai Nights across the street. The service wasn't awesome (as expected) but they understood our requests which was a plus for us since we both don't speak Chinese at all! The dishes came out pretty quickly and the prices were quite cheap. Personally I wouldn't mind returning back (especially if the queues at New Shanghai are super long) for the pan fried dumplings as well as trying out some of the many other dishes from the menu. Best to go with a larger group to try and share as many dishes as your stomach can handle. 

Taste of Shanghai
264 Liverpool Road, Ashfield NSW 2131 (also at World Square, Hurstville and Eastwood)
(02) 9798 2877
Taste of Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Iron Chef Chinese Seafood Restaurant, Cabramatta

I remember when Iron Chef Chinese Seafood Restaurant opened in Cabramatta many years ago. I could still remember the initial disappointment when I realised that it doesn't relate to the popular Japanese TV show on SBS. Despite that initial confusion, this Chinese restaurant has since been a hot spot for yum cha cravings with countless hungry people coming from all over Sydney. On a very hot day, we were planning to head to Vinh Phat for our yum cha feed but the queues and parking was insane (as always). The only space we could find was the parking lot behind this restaurant, which was conveniently located on the quieter side of the station away from all the busy action on John Street.

Prawn Rice Noodle Rolls

Although it was the weekend, we managed to get seated pretty quickly (after getting the attention of the staff though). We were craving for the usual yum cha favourites so we were pleased when the first trolley that strolled past us had various types of rice noodle rolls and dumplings.

While the prawn rice paper rolls were often too slippery to handle, they were delicious especially with the soy-based sauce and the juicy and firm prawns. There was also a balanced texture with the rice noodle wrapped around the prawns as it wasn't too soft despite being soaked with the soy sauce.

Pork Siu Mai Dumplings

One of my all time fave yum cha dishes has gotta be the Pork Siu Mai dim sim dumplings. Always liked the steamed won ton pastry wrapped around the pork as well as the roe splashed in the middle.

Seafood and vegetable dumplings

I really wanted to enjoy these dumplings but this ended up being my least favourite so far. The filling was too lumpy and creamy for my personal liking however I did enjoy the fish roe (?) scattered on top of each dumpling in this basket.

Prawn Har Gow Dumplings

Another fave of mine that had to be ordered at any yum cha restaurant was the Har Gow dumplings. While they got really sticky to the point where a bit of the chewy dumpling skin tore when I picked it up, they were still nicely shaped and juicy in terms of taste, which was what mattered the most for us.

Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce

Some of you might get turned off at the sight of chicken feet. I know I used to but then it ends up growing on me especially when one of the close friends was obsessed with this dish during our study sessions in the old uni days. I often prefer having chicken feet coated with a spicy black bean sauce that gives off a reddish colour as well as a boost of flavour.

Mango Pancakes

While I'm personally not a fan of the white creamy filling inside the pancakes, I've found that Iron Chef's version of the mango pancakes to be yummy. Especially with the decent balance between the chopped mango pieces and cream as well as the sweet pancake wrapping the fillings. Looked so pretty on the plate too.

Egg Tarts

One of the sweets that I cannot resist at yum cha has to be the egg tarts. Biting into that crispy, flaky and buttery pastry encasing the smooth but slightly firm egg custard just feels like a splendid way to end this lunch.

Depending on what time you have lunch at Iron Chef, there may be times when you get a wide variety of trollies containing different plates as well as times when you only spot the same two or three trollies rolling around the restaurant. As with most yum cha restaurants, the service was poor particularly when we tried to get their attention on seating us at the beginning as well as the overall attitude but I was pretty much used to it by now. What mattered the most was the food that satisfied our yum cha cravings. Would recommend coming here with a large group so you can order more dishes to share around and you can still pay less with more people splitting the bill.

Iron Chef Chinese Seafood Restaurant
84 Broomfield Street, Cabramatta NSW 2166
(02) 9723 6228
Mon-Fri: 10:00am - 3:00pm, 5:30pm - 10:30pm
Sat-Sun: 9:00am - 3:30pm, 5:30pm - 11:00pm
Iron Chef Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Vic's Meat Market at Sydney Fish Market, Pyrmont

Happy 2015 readers! How fast has the last year flown? Too quickly right? Still doesn't feel like the new year for me. Anyways, friends would know that no matter how many times I attempt to be a vegetarian, I would always be a meat lover at heart. So I was super excited when I first heard that Vic's Meat Market is coming to Sydney Fish Market. 

Coming from the same company as the renowned Victor Churchill, Vic's Meat Market has a butchery and an American-inspired smoked meat house (known as Kong's Cave) in one space. The fit out of the venue was similar to a canteen with limited seating and various ingredients laid out separately (similar to Subway and Mad Mex) so you can watch the staff member preparing the food before it gets into your mouth. During one of my lunch breaks, I made a quick (albeit very rushed) visit to check out the delicious sandwiches that they offer.

Pulled Pork Sandwich ($10.00)

While I love pulled pork, there have been a few moments where it can be a let down mainly because of its dryness. However this time, I was blown away by how amazing it tasted. So much flavour especially with the tender and shredded pulled pork and copious amounts of barbecue sauce complemented with the mustard pickle slaw. I have to say that this is probably the best pulled pork sandwich/burger I've ever had around Sydney! 

Beef Brisket Sandwich ($10.00)

After seeing other customers ordering the beef brisket sandwich, I knew I had to give this a go too. Just like the pulled pork sandwich, I was equally blown away by the beef brisket. The brisket was thick, juicy and fatty that melts in your mouth so easily at each bite you take. The best was digging into the crisp yet juicy fatty bits at the end of the bad but oh my gawd it's too damn good not to resist. It's just how it should be. In both sandwiches, the bun was slightly sweet yet consistently light, soft and fluffy. 

If sandwiches aren't your thing, Vic's Meat Market also has ribs and smoked chicken wings to satisfy your hunger. Pricing was generally pretty affordable if you order the sandwiches, burgers and chicken wings (ranging $8.00-$10.00) however if you get the ribs, that will set you back at least $25.00. The food gets prepared very fast so I was able to get here and back to work in less than 45 mins (including waiting for the tram) while checking out the scenery. While I was busy rushing back to work, check out the butcher next door for a good dose of meat shopping. Had a quick look while I was there and I almost didn't want to leave after seeing all the meaty goodness. If you are not a vegetarian (sorry vegetarians), it's a great place for a quick bite if you happen to be around the Fish Markets area. Looking forward to making a few more visits just for those sandwiches again. 

Vic's Meat Market
Sydney Fish Market
Bank Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009
(02) 8570 8570
Butchery: Mon-Sun: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Kong's Cave Smokehouse: Mon-Sun: 10:00am - 3:00pm (or until sold out)
Vic's Meat Market on Urbanspoon