Paula’s Cafe, Fairfield

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Paula’s Cafe had been on my list of places to visit since it had appeared on some of my favourite food blogs. Renowned for its amazing empanadas, I was eager to try out the empanadas and the rest of the Chilean cuisine they’ve got on offer. V had an errand in Fairfield today so I tagged along to check it out. We were not disappointed. Continue reading

Ramen Ikkyu, Chinatown

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It happens slowly but predictably this time of year. Over time, the cravings become greater. Then, the occassional fix isn’t enough; I start feeling cold, even irritable. I need it. I need… ramen. My stomach can tell, like the House of Starck, winter is coming, and it shoots neurons to the primordial part of my brain. It whispers: “ramen”, over and over. And I relent. Continue reading

Homemade Anti-Valentine’s Day Meal

Singapore Chilli Crab

There’s a lot of things not to like about Valentine’s Day. It’s externally forced and commercially motivated. Bookings at restaurants are difficult to obtain. Prices are exorbitant and service is usually bad (due to full bookings). Let’s not forget the traffic. It’s so bad that a lot of sensible couples I know go out on the day before or after Valentine’s.

Instead of braving the crowds, the lady and I had a nice homemade meal.

I cooked up some Singapore Chilli Crab (2kg!). We’d learned how to do it a few years back at the Sydney Fish Markets Seafood School. Yes, it’s not totally romantic, a bit like taking a first date out to have ribs… it’s not a pretty picture. But hey, we enjoyed it.

It’s like that saying… Love means never having to say “I’m sorry… but that last piece of crab is mine.”

For dessert, V made me something reasonably light to help with my dieting (hence the lack of food-related posts of late).


The syrup was commendable too… it was made from water, honey, cinnamon and lightly stewed cherries. Oh yeah.

How was your Valentine’s Day?

A Night of Winter Eating in NYC: Momofuku Noodle Bar, Halal Guys and the Ritz

Pork Buns - served with hoisin, scallion and cucumber

I’d recently visited various family members in the States (yet again) for the Christmas season. What may represent a geographical challenge to others represented a geographical opportunity to me. This trip had me spending quality time with different cousins in Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Washington DC and New York City. I’ll post pics from those places soon. First up: NYC.
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Mexico City Taquerias

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One night in July last year, V and I were exploring Mexico City’s Centro Historico, the city’s historic centre. It was the perfect balmy evening for a wander, for taking night photos and better yet, for sampling some of the street food!

The city’s main plaza, the Zocalo, is in the Centro Historico and is the world’s 2nd largest public plaza (second only to Moscow’s Red Square). During the day, it’s filled with street vendors, performers and tourists. At night, it’s practically empty save for a few people passing through.

During all our wandering, we came across this literal hole-in-the-wall taqueria. Apparently, one of the best taqueria’s in Mexico is a place called El Guero or Taco Hola in Avenida Amsterdam. Though this impostor had the same name, it was unrelated.


The meats all just sat in this makeshift hybrid bain marie and cooking dome. Questionable sanitary standards is all part and parcel of street food and this place had us raising our eyebrows.

The tacos were still pretty good though – especially at AUD 0.50 who can complain?!

Not far from the previous hole-in-the-wall is yet another one, Taqueria Los Cocuyos. We eyed the place suspiciously until a smartly dressed older lady and her equally smartly-dressed man, possibly her son, gestured us to try it. I asked if it was any good and from the few words I could make out from her enthusiastic response, it’s amazing tacos were so delicious that they were prone to holy miracles.

Pricier than the last joint (about AUD 0.75 per taco), we broke the bank and tried some. We weren’t disappointed.


They had a lot of mystery meats and looking back at it now, I wish my Spanish were better. I would have loved to have tasted Eye Taco.

I went with relatively safe options, the tongue, the tripe and the brisket. The tacos were hardly elaborate, simple really, but they all impressed. This was the definition of comfort food.
Bursting with fullness, I figured I could fill up the gaps of empty space in my stomach with one last one.
I was so pleased with the place I googled it as we walked away. Turns out, Anthony Bourdain visited this very taqueria in his show, No Reservations.

Replenished, we wandered back to our hotel in Zona Rosa. This time in search of dessert…

The word? After this initial try, street tacos were our go to meal for a quick, yet delicious pick-me-up. I could only wish we had hole-in-the-walls here that sold tacos this great!


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My Awesome Birthday Cupcakes by SugarMamma

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Unlike a secret identity, I’m very forthcoming about my love for comics books.

For my recent birthday, my good friend Terri from SugarMamma surprised me with these amazing superhero-themed cupcakes. They’re insanely awesome…

She specialises in birthday cakes like these but she’s done some amazing wedding cakes too.

Like her on facebook and drop her a line for a memorable cake for your next special occasion.

Le Pub, Sydney CBD

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Walking along King Street back to work the other day, I noticed a shiny red tiled sign boldly exclaiming, “Le Pub“, and gesturing downward into the old site of St Patrick’s Tavern.

“Wow.” I thought. “This I have to check out.”

See, prior to St Pat’s being closed down, it’s heyday was long over. I last had a meal there in winter 2010 (?) – solely because the nearby Bavarian Bier Cafe had a long queue (and we were marvin) – and poor St Pat’s was sad and desolate. While certainly no high brow establishment at its peak, on busy nights this Irish pub was host to bands and filled to capacity with thirsty travellers. I remember watching some of the 2000 Olympics here and it was packed! (And then later on, not-so-packed for the Paralympics.) I would love to see what plans its new owner had envisioned for this once great pub.

I had a quick wander inside and could see the bar was still where it used to be but the interior had been vastly changed. It was now a “Parisian Metro-inspired” bar and restaurant, whose kitchen was helmed by the chef of North Sydney pub, the Union Hotel, also owned by the same group.

Now, Le Pub is adorned with dark wooden panelling, decorative tiling and moody lighting. It’s “Parisian” more in aspiration than in execution but that is not to say its done poorly – it’s above average as pubs go. Don’t come expecting anything like Merivale’s Felix however. Consider the establishment’s tongue-in-cheek name as a forewarning.

A few days after this initial recon, I was desperate to get some food after boozy work drinks. B was also keen to check it out.

B got the Lamb Ribs from the Bar Menu, flavoured with Ras El Hanout Rub and served with Remoulade, Sliced Radish and Coriander. He rated it well.

I had the Collet D’Agneau, a generous serving of Lamb Neck served with Quinoa & Herb Crumb, Cauliflower Puree, Shaved Cauliflower & Pea Salad. The quinoa and herb crumb really made this dish for me; it gave the tender lamb some good crunch.


We discussed the place’s merits: it ticked all the boxes except for one. The food was great, the beer selection was large (we didn’t have wine) and the price was right. The only downside was the ambiance. Le Pub appears to suffer from multiple personality disorder. On the one hand, its decor and restaurant implies a relaxed chilled out vibe, to grab a drink and chat over wine and cool music, perhaps grab a long lunch or late dinner. On the other hand, the excessively loud daggy music and multiple LCD screens unfortunately shouts “sports bar”, having to yell to have a conversation or shudder aghast at the classic hits more fitting to Retro at the Bristol Arms. It’s an audio-visual contradiction.

The word? I hope they do something about the music and the TVs. I really dig the menu here and I’ll definitely be bringing colleagues back. If you pay Le Pub a visit, prepare to be thoroughly confused.


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Regional Dinner at Vini, Surry Hills

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Vini has been running their Tuesday night Regional Dinners for several years now but only recently had we had the pleasure of actually trying it.
The premise is simple enough – each Tuesday, the skilled hands at Vini craft a menu of dishes specific to a particular Italian region. Though the ingredients are mostly sourced locally, they attempt to recreate a set menu of 5-6 dishes given the available produce and history of the area of interest. This particular Tuesday, it was Lazio, the third most populated region of Italy and includes the province of Rome.

At $50 per person, it was a bargain. For an extra $35 each, we had matching (half glasses of) wine for each of the dishes.

Our first dish was Fave e Bechamela di Pecorino and Guanciale or Beans and Bechamela sauce thickened with Pecorino cheese topped with Guanciale bacon. It’s more of an amuse bouche given its size but its flavours are intense. The pecorino especially stands out, while the beans give it a little substance.

The second dish was Coda alla Vaccinara and Pane Genzano or Roman Oxtail Stew served with Genzano bread. The stew was a bit watery for my taste.

The third dish was Carciofi alla Romana or Stuffed Roman Artichokes. I love artichokes and this was no exception.

Next, we had the Timballo, a dish of layered pasta and meat topped with pie crust.

Our last savoury dish was Roast Pork Belly served with Roast Potatoes, which was rich sticky pork tenderness.

Green salad accompanied the pork. To top it all off, dessert was a scoop of gelato.

The word? Vini provides a comfortable venue for catching up with friends over great food and wine. The sampling of small dishes from the regional dinners give you an idea of what their kitchen is capable of. Note that this variety comes at the cost of size. Service-wise, we were well attended and at no point wanting. I’ll definitely be back to try the regular menu.


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Mega Ramen at Gumshara

Mega Ramen $25

I’ve blogged about the amazing ramen at Gumshara before but here’s a photographic addendum.

The lure of the Mega Ramen has called out to me before and it was only a matter of time before I attempted this generous bowl of awesome.

Over the thick soup, it’s stacked with a Pork Spare Rib, a BBQ Pork Skewer, a double serve of Roast Pork and a poached egg.

Combined with the rich soup, all the pork makes it nearly too much. Still, if you’re really hungry (and can stand the idleness of the food coma that follows a meal this size) I highly recommend it.

Bring an appetite ;)


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