Aussie Story @ Sibu Bus Terminal

aussie story sibu

Aussie Story is new – very, very new. It has only been open for 4 days and we went on the fourth day of their operations. No newspaper advertising, no Facebook/Twitter/Instagram page, just pure old school word-of-mouth accompanied their soft launch and it’s been packed every single night ever since they opened their doors!

The congratulatory wreaths that celebrated the launch were still fresh! We didn’t know about the place, we chanced upon the restaurant by accident and decided to go in and take a peek at the menu. It’s a very nice place – you can say that the warm, soft-incandescent lit interior called out to us on a rainy day. smirk

aussie story restaurant

The place is a joint venture between two friends who’ve been classmates since their school days. Fredrick Wong is the barista and he’s in charge of the front-of-house while his partner Johnny Yong is the head chef and manages the back-of-house. I think this division of labor suits their personalities well, according to the long conversations we had with the both of them.

Aussie Story is still in the soft-launch stage so a lot of the items on their menu is unavailable, like the pita bread that I was interested in. Thus, we asked for recommendations and got:

Toasted French Loaf with Cheesy Egg Salad (RM 7.50)

toasted french loaf

This is the appetizer that Johnny the chef suggested. He almost insisted on it, so Arthur and I ordered it to see what the fuss is all about. It’s a baguette that’s been sliced and covered with melted cheese, finely chopped cubes of hard-boiled eggs, and an acidic element (the chef hinted it was based on the Thousand Island dressing).

However, it came out so fast I could see that only 2 of the 3 pieces had been browned properly. I don’t mind the chewy texture of the bread but I think it could have been on the oven/toaster/grill for a couple of minutes more so the Maillard reaction and caramelization would have been more even.

I thought I would dislike this pale looking appetizer but I thought it was delicious! The cheese and mayo works very well together and you can still taste and feel the texture of the tiny cubes of hard boiled eggs in the topping. There’s also a sour note which really made the dish!

The flavors works very well together and we both enjoyed it very much.

Irish Stewed Lamb Shank (RM 38)

irish lamb shank

I was surprised when this came out almost after the appetizer. It has barely been 5 minutes since we placed our order! The lamb shank is slightly smaller than the ones that I’m used to seeing but it tasted alright. The meat fell off the bone when picked at with a fork – a sign that it’s been slow-cooked to perfection.

I also liked how they left the cartilage on the top of the shank – the best part of ordering the lamb shank, I reckon. The mashed potatoes were good and I really liked their purple cabbage coleslaw.

However, one minor quibble I had was about the sauce – it was pretty evident that the gravy that came with the lamb shank isn’t the same reduced gravy that the lamb shank was cooked in – it tasted too watery, as if the gravy was sourced from generic stock and poured over the dish instead of the actual reduction from the lamb shank pot.

British style Fish & Chips (RM 15)

british fish chips

The fish and chips were made with good fish and the batter was seasoned well. It’s great value for the price too, since you get a huge fillet of fish (which is not the 50% filler, 50% fish abomination that’s been passed off as Dory fillets – they use proper fish fillets here).

The dipping sauce keeps up with the times too! They don’t use tartare sauce (despite what it states on the menu), it’s a pet peeve of mine when F&B outlets do, it’s so 90′s school canteen and it’s usually used to cover the taste of bad fish. Restaurants have found better combinations to go with good catches now and the last time I remember having tartare sauce was during my high school in Christchurch, NZ when the school canteen would serve fish sandwiches slathered with tartare sauce.

I’m sure I’ve had tartare sauce in bad local fish and chip outlets since but if I had, it wasn’t memorable enough to remember.

aussie story fish

Aussie Story uses a mayo based egg infused dip which I thought was very nice. It reminded me slightly of the dill aioli I had in CREST Café, Birubi Beach recently.

I think it’s actually the *same sauce* that goes on top of the baguette appetizer, but without the acidic component. The purple cabbage coleslaw is also the same as the one served in the lamb shank. Overall, I quite liked the dish.

white chocolate
White Chocolate Drink (RM 6.50)

I think it’s smart of them to incorporate similar and reusable things across dishes to minimize prep time. Fredrick and Johnny recounted the first day they opened and the trials of having to serve a full house, and having to comp a lot of tables since they couldn’t keep up with the pace of service.

One minor feedback that I have is that the appetizers and the main courses all came out at the same time – there’s no time for us to savor the appetizers and then wait for the main courses to arrive. Everything just came out almost immediately, it was so fast it made me slightly dubious on how they can cook everything to order.

CoffeX Bristot

Fredrick did address this when I raised my concerns though – it seems that Sibu people like having all their dishes on the table at the same time so they can share it. There’s no concept of waiting for a 3-course dinner here and I have to agree with him. It’s not Aussie Story’s fault, it’s the culture here and they have to accommodate for it lest people complain about their food not arriving promptly.

The service is impeccable and they really want to learn – we were solicited on our views of every dish. I told the owners that I was very impressed that the head chef and the front-of-house manager would take the time to go to every table and talk to the patrons about the food. We got all our drinks comped by Fredrick so the bill only came out to a discounted RM 60 for the food.

I would highly recommend this place due to the service – their PR is second to none and their food is pretty good overall. It’s up there with places like Tom’s Too but the service here is spectacular. It’s their passion after all, and I went back Saturday night with my dad to try and get a table, but the place was totally full.

aussie story

I really enjoyed the ambiance of the place and it’s the best service I’ve ever had in Sibu – totally customer oriented. Fredrick insisted on serving us coffee (they use CoffeX and Bristot) on the house when I asked to pay the bill too – which is a nice touch. There is a reason why the restaurant is called Aussie Story but I’ll let Fredrick tell the tale since it sounds more passionate coming from him – it is, after all, his story. :)

Aussie Story
Sibu Bus Terminal
(opposite 3° Celsius)

RM 16 bowl of Heng Hua Spicy Assam Tom Yam Fish Noodles

henghua assam tom yam noodles

There are a lot of fish and prawn noodles in town but none quite like this. The most (in)famous one would be the RM 35 bowl of fish noodles from Min Kwong. There’s also a RM 15 bowl of prawn noodles in the small and hilariously named town of Jakar. However, the closest tasting one would be the justifiably popular RM 14 bowl of Asam Tom Yam Big Prawn Noodles in Glory Cafe, Sarikei.

It was my dad who suggested this place for dinner. He’s a Heng Hua and this is a Heng Hua owned coffee shop, and since it’s a small community, we might be somewhat related. smirk

sieng hing cafe

The first question the lady asked me when I ordered this RM 16 bowl of goodness is whether I can eat spicy food. I replied in the affirmative, taking pride in my cast iron stomach (and tongue) and the chilli flakes in the broth gave me the sniffles and nearly drove me to tears…in a good way.

I asked why they use a thick kind of rice vermicelli noodles called hung ang in the local dialect and it’s coz that’s the best pairing for the dish. The thick but short noodles doesn’t clump together and unlike wheat based noodles, the rice vermicelli noodles is the perfect vehicle for *transporting the broth* to your palate.

henghua assam rice vermicelli

There’s a lot of space between the rice vermicelli – you can’t really pick them up with chopsticks without large gaps – so the spicy asam tom yam broth gets into the crevices and it allows the full flavor impact to hit you.

cat
Resident cat approves of this nomz!

The fish is a mixture of tapah and patin and there’s easily 3-4 times the amount in the regular Foochow twice cooked noodles I had for RM 14 at Y2K Cafe. There’s also generous amounts of lemongrass, egg, tomatoes, chilli flakes, baby corn, fungus and a special type of pickled salted vegetable in the asam tom yam soup.

assam tom yam noodles

It left me sweating but very satisfied when I finished the dish. They also sell a large prawn version for RM 26. The generous amounts of fish and the ultra spicy broth made the Sieng Hing Cafe fish noodles one of the best gastronomic finds in Sibu. It’s perfect if you have a blocked nose since the spice will clear up your sinuses in no time! :)

3 uniquely Sibu dishes

I’m back in my hometown, eating delicious food you can really only get here – at least, if you want the authentic stuff! :)

1. Char Kueh Tiaw Omelet

CKT omelet

Yeah, that’s what I’m calling it! It has been around for over 40 years (no kidding) and this particular way of cooking it is a Sibu institution. I first ate it as a kid in Kwok Ching Coffee Shop (now defunct) and this is the son carrying on the legacy, cooking it the exact same way.

How do you get char kueh tiaw into an omelet? The CKT is cooked first and even though it’s a simple dish – spring onion and bean sprouts are the only ingredients – it tastes superb in its simplicity.

kueh tiaw omelet

The CKT is dropped on a cracked egg on a hot wok, flipped and served. This technique has been copied by many other cooks in Sibu but there is only one heir of the original and he does it best! This stall is located at Aloha Cafe and it’s only RM 3.30.

2. Twice Cooked Tapah Fish Noodles

foochow fish noodles

There are RM 35 bowls of this stuff out there. I had that with my better half when we came back last time at Min Kwong. I can’t justify eating that all the time so this is an equally good (if not better) version from Y2K Cafe. It’s RM 12 and is cooked in the traditional Foochow style – the noodles are first *fried* before being *stewed* in a hearty soup.

tapah fish

That means you get both the Maillard reaction and caramelization on the noodles from frying in the fiery hot wok, making it taste wonderful, before it’s softened in the rich seafood broth. Infinitely satisfying, and a local classic. You can drink the wonderfully tasty soup after you’ve finished your noodles too – it’s full of flavor!

3. Kampua Mee with Pork Tripe and Pig Liver Soup

kampua noodles

Yup, this is our famous kampua noodles. I always like to add a bowl of pig liver soup to my order (RM 4) coz it makes the noodles taste even better with that rich, mineral-y taste that liver has. I also like pork tripe soup (RM 5) coz of the chewy texture and the acidic dipping sauce it comes in.

pork liver soup

It’s a perfect side dish(es) for kampua noodles – the offal works very well with the slices of BBQ pork in the noodle dish and I always love drinking the soup after I’m done – alternating between the clear pork tripe soup and the dark iron-y pig liver soup with tendrils of liver. It’s always the *first* thing I eat when I come back and this one was at Yum Yum Cafe.

Dinner by Michelin Star Le Gavroche’s Chef Alexy Fuchs Malaysian visit

michelin star

It’s Chef Alexy Fuchs first visit to Malaysia and I booked a table for two on Saturday night at Mezze Bistro in KL, where he will be cooking for a week. I wanted to buy my better half a good dinner experience – it’s been a while since our last 2 Michelin star meal at Le Relais Louis XIII in Paris earlier this year and I thought it’ll make a nice dinner date.

michelin star kl

He came over to Malaysia to collaborate with the resident head chef of Mezze Bistro, Yves Pierre Renou, to showcase the cuisine from their home in Alsace, France. There is a similarly named restaurant in London by Michel Roux Jr. with Two Michelin Star dining. This Le Gavroche is located in Strasbourg, France and is helmed by the husband-and-wife team of Nathalie and Benoit Fuchs.

bread basket

Le Gavroche is a One Michelin Star establishment and Alexy Fuchs is their son and chef. I was really keen to check out the food since he is hand carrying a lot of French produce during his flight over so it’s an awesome chance to experience a Michelin star restaurant chef cooking in Malaysia.

Amuse-bouche

Roquette Gazpacho with Fromage Blanc and Endives / Beetroot Discs with Whipped Goat’s Cheese

Roquette Gazpacho

I really like this amuse-bouche. It’s an arugula gazpacho served in a cocktail glass, which I thought sounded really promising for the rest of the night. My better half was a little dubious about how rocket can work, considering the bitter taste of the leaves. It’s blended with fromage blanc (literally white cheese) which works very well in cutting down the sheer bitterness of the greens.

beetroot disc

I also enjoyed the little discs of beetroot that produced a nice little crunch with the creamy topping of goat’s cheese. The two goes very well together – the Alsace vinegar in the gazpacho balances the flavors in this two-component amuse-bouche.

Entrées

Seared Foie Gras with Roasted Peanuts (RM 85)

foie gras

This is foie gras that Chef Alexy Fuchs personally hand carried all the way from France. I couldn’t tell if it was duck or goose foie gras and even experts like Daguin have difficulties telling the difference unless they’re both plated side by side. We have been to France and both are called foie gras in France – foie gras de canard for duck foie gras and foie gras d’oie for goose foie gras. It should be noted that 80% of foie gras produced in France is now duck foie gras.

However, I was told that this is goose foie gras – the real deal – and I don’t doubt it. The lightly seared generous slices of foie gras is rich, silky, buttery and melt in your mouth. It’s rich and it’s fatty – the contrast between the browned crust and barely solid center is divine! It’s almost disappears on your tongue into creamy goodness as soon as you pop it in your mouth.

My dear chose this starter since I’ll have my own foie gras in the very classic French dish Tournedos Rossini as my main. I have eaten a lot of foie gras preparations – from pate to mi-cuit and all the way up to whole foie gras and I have to say that this rates as one of the better ones that I’ve had.

It’s no coincidence that Alsace is one of France’s great foie gras producing areas. Chef Alexy Fuchs flew in from that region, bringing the Alsatian foie gras in, so I’m glad we ate it! The apricots at the bottom of the dish went really well with the flavors of the pan-fried foie gras.

Monkfish Carpaccio with Fresh Herbs & Candied Lemon Marmalade (RM 64)

monkfish carpaccio

I love monkfish and I love raw monkfish even better! It has to really fresh to serve as a carpaccio instead of a ceviche. This is a dish I am 100% certain that Chef Alexy Fuchs prepared himself coz I walked into the kitchen while he was slicing the monkfish.

This is my entrée and I really enjoyed it. I saw that everyone else at the fully packed dinner service ordered the foie gras (probably coz proper foie gras isn’t very common here) but I was very happy with my monkfish carpaccio. I asked my better half to eat this before her starter coz the flavors are much milder and she gave her nod of approval too.

I actually preferred my monkfish carpaccio – the wonderfully intense citrus flavors in the marmalade dotted all over the plate makes it a joy to spear a few slivers of monkfish to smear on the candied lemon before letting the taste combination hit my tongue. It’s wonderfully balanced and a great entrée to my heavier main.

Mains

Beef Tournedos, seared foie gras, paired with summer vegetables confit & veal reduction (RM 160)

Tournedos Rossini

Beef Tournedos is an extremely classic French steak dish. Tournedos Rossini usually consists of a good filet mignon topped with a slice of fresh whole pan-fried foie gras. It’s the most expensive item on the menu but it’s something I wanted to order as soon as I saw it since I’ve had it before and it was awesome!

beef tournadoes

This rendition didn’t disappoint – the steak was cooked perfectly medium rare, with a nice and pink interior. It’s also very juicy and even my better half, who isn’t a huge fan of beef, enjoyed a bite from my mains. I like how the foie gras is placed over the dish – the buttery and silky pan-fried liver almost acts like a sauce when you slice a bit of it to go with a chunk of prime filet mignon.

I liked the mini vegetables garnishing the plate too, but the hero of the dish is hands-down the well cooked steak with a decadent slice of foie gras on top.

Pan-fried Turbot, served with bouillabaise, fennel and toast (RM 128)

turbot

This is my better half’s order. The turbot is excellent – moist and delicious! I like how it’s stacked on top of toast too. I felt the flavors worked very well and I only have one bone to pick (pun intended) – there’s cartilage left on the fish!

That’s usually an unforgivable sin in haute cuisine.

panfried turbot

I got it on my first bite when my dear cut some turbot for me to eat and had to gracefully spit it out on my napkin. She didn’t get any cartilage in the next few bites but caught some on the last bite. I felt that the prep cooks should have done a better job at this – it’s not bones at least, but it detracts from the overall enjoyment of the meal.

Quail stuffed with Crayfish, served with Potato Puree and Crayfish Coulis (RM 98)

quail crayfish

I decided to order ANOTHER main to share! It’s not everyday we go out for a romantic dinner with a chef from a Michelin star restaurant cooking so I thought it’ll be nice to stuff ourselves…and it was the best decision I ever made!

The quail is absolutely fabulous!

There’s no other word that does it justice. It’s our favorite dish of the night! The quail is deboned and seasoned to perfection (it’s really hard to get those small bones, trust me) and cooked just right. Overcooked quail is really inedible – check out the ignorant and lazy street vendors butchering the small bird at Pasar Ramadan and you might think quail is a tough, dry little bird. Wrong!

crayfish stuffed quail

It’s succulent and moist and I was pleased to see that it was still pink in the center. The crayfish stuffing was to die for – simply delectable. There’s a VERY generous amount of Rhine River crayfish inside the quail. Magnifique! Everything in the dish works well, from the mashed potatoes to the little crayfish for you to suck the head juices out of and everything is on the plate for a reason – to rock your world!

It certainly made our night! Best dish ever, compliments to the chef.

Desserts

Passionfruit Pannacotta (RM 22)

passionfruit pannacotta

This is my better half’s choice since she really enjoys eating panna cotta. There’s an intensely acidic passionfruit puree inside, which really wakes you up like nothing else! I felt that the two goes very well together and we both enjoyed this dessert – the panna cotta was just the right consistency too!

There’s also a quill of grilled pineapple that acts as a garnish which surprisingly tastes really yummy too!

It’s turns out that no one else ordered dessert around us – we were the only ones, which is a bit of a shame, considering it’s priced pretty well.

Pineapple & Mango Streusel with Coconut Sorbet (RM 35)

chocolate macaroon

This is actually written wrong on the menu. I was confused when the dish came to me. I asked the waitress if she got the order wrong and Ling Ang came over to tell me that it was the right dessert – the menu was printed erroneously. It’s actually a chocolate macaron (of sorts) with a coconut based filling paired with a passionfruit sorbet.

It’s a perfect dessert for people who doesn’t like sweet desserts – both the desserts are more acidic than sweet. However, I felt that the dessert was rushed out and I personally didn’t feel that it’s a very well made dessert. I was really looking forward to his Caramelized Brioche with Beer Poached Pear and White Cheese Sorbet (RM 30) but it was only available on Tuesday and Thursday.

petit fours

The two desserts we ordered were too simple with really basic flavor combinations. We enjoyed it, but we certainly *weren’t* blown away. I can’t help but feel let down after the awesome entrées and main courses. The complimentary petit-fours really saved the desserts department though!

chef alexy fuchs

You just have to remember that Michelin stars are awarded to the venue so there’s no white tablecloth service and all that here. A lot of the things they do locally is a faux pas in French haute cuisine – asking to clear tables before both parties have finished dining, not serving the lady first etc but I guess that’s a product of Malaysian culture. Once we got the great floor manager Ling Ang and the friendly and accommodating waitress Juney to serve us, it was smooth sailing.

700 dollar dinner

It’s not everyday you get to have a Michelin star restaurant chef come over and do a collaboration so I thought the experience was great and the food was good overall, especially the perfectly cooked stuffed quail! Our bill came up to a total of RM 711.10 for two without wine (we shared a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water) which is very reasonable for KL standards considering the food and chef.

mezze michelin

I nearly missed Alexy Fuchs trip over coz I didn’t check my email for newsletters – the lounge sends out the occasional update on food happenings which sometimes goes into spam. This isn’t an invited review by the way, that was done in the afternoon and it wasn’t my cup of tea. I paid full price for the dinner coz I wanted to have a romantic dinner with my dear and you can only get that intimate ambience on a fully booked Saturday night by reserving a table.

alexy fuchs

I also got to meet Alexy Fuchs – thanks to Ling Ang who let me into the kitchen to say a quick “Bonsoir” to the chef! He was really nice and down-to-earth and I put up an Instagram photo of us in my SixthSeal.com Facebook page, which he shared on his personal Facebook page and said something to the effect of “even 10,000 miles away, the people here knows of the famous Le Gavroche by Nathalie and Benoit Fuchs” and tagged his parents which I thought was a cool thing to do.

michelin us

It was great night out and we both enjoyed ourselves immensely! :)

Black Star Pastry’s Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream

black star newtown

There are two outlets in town but there’s really only one place to get your Black Star Pastry fix – the original patisserie at Newtown. The massive crowds stretching down the block, the Newtown chic grunge patrons, the punk rock waitress posing for the camera. You just can’t beat the ambience, even if you’re packed tighter than sardines in can.

black star pastries

…and the thing to have here is their Strawberry and Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream. It’s what they’re famous for. Hell, it comes up as soon as you type “Black Star Pastry” into your good friend Google.

Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream (AUD 6.50)
Fresh, light, fragrant. This cake consists of two layers of almond dacquoise, fresh whipped cream, watermelon, strawberries, Iranian pistachios and rose petals.

Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream

This is their signature item and it’s the reason why people queue up. It’s constantly sold out and if you want it on a plate, you’ll be better off trying at their (much larger) sister outlet in Rosebery, which was practically empty when I was there. I had it to go but decided to crowd into one of the eclectic seats with rocks (!!!) as tables to eat them.

newtown black star pastry

It’s a beautiful cake and it tastes even better than it looks! The description of the cake pretty much says it all – the flavor combination of berries, the refreshing watermelon and the delicate rose petals hidden in the cream is, for a lack of a better term, divine. If you’ve never had a watermelon cake before, I suggest you rectify that as soon as humanly possible.

Orange Cake with Persian Fig

I highly recommend the Orange Cake with Persian Fig (AUD 4) too. I asked the waitress what people ordered besides the Strawberry Watermelon Cake and got this one. This tall, cylindrical delight is made from whole boiled oranges, garnished with cheese cream icing and Persian figs, pistachios and rose petals. It’s surprisingly moist and decadent and both cakes are gluten-free!

Lemon Myrtle Chiffon Cake

I had the Lemon Myrtle Chiffon Cake at their Rosebery sister outlet and it was awesome too! It’s a roomier venue, but a little antiseptic with all the staff wearing uniforms, unlike the cool and non-conformist vibe you get from the original Newtown cafe.

black star rosebery

I also got another Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream to go and it tasted similar so the outlet you prefer is up to the ambience you like.

me black star

Black Star Pastry has won a ton of awards and is helmed by the patisser Christopher The. They’re also famous for their lamb shank pies and wood-fired breads but I only had room for the cakes – a quick dessert before lunch!

black star pastry

Black Star Pastry
277 Australia Street,
Newtown NSW

Opens 7 am – 5 pm, 7 days a week

CREST Café, Birubi Beach

fish and chips

The magical view of Birubi Beach makes CREST Café one of the best spots to have a modern interpretation of a perennial Australian favorite – fish and chips!

birubi beach

We had just walked over from the car park when the sound of breaking surf crashing over the beach lured us over. It was a beautiful morning and the rain that accompanied our dolphin watching expedition earlier in the morning had gone away and the sun was starting to shine.

crest cafe

CREST Birubi Beach is located just by the seaside and you can smell the wonderful surf as you walk into the modern café. I heard it has just recently been refurbished for several million dollars and it looks modern, minimalistic and clean.

Fat Yak Pale Ale

It’s a beautiful spot for lunch! I browsed the menu and instantly spotted what I wanted – fish and chips! This isn’t your dad’s fish and chips shop mind, they use Fat Yak beer batter from the artisan brewery in Matilda Bay to coat the fish and they also serve Fat Yak beer on tap!

Minimum Chips Golden Lager

There are two fine craft beers from Matilda Bay Brewing Company on tap – (Hand Cut) Minimum Chips Golden Lager (AUD 6) and Fat Yak Pale Ale (AUD 6). I thought the former was a hilarious name for a beer and would have been the logical choice for fish and chips beer batter coating. We ordered a pint of both to try out.

Fat Yak beer battered flathead, chips, dill aioli and salad (AUD 20)

fat yak beer flathead chips

This is the beautiful craft beer battered fish, which almost everyone ordered. The flathead is a very unusual fish with eyes on the top of its head (like a skate or stringray). CREST Birubi Beach does it beautifully – the fish was local and fresh with a nice coating of Fat Yak craft beer batter. It flaked off nicely and the chips were done to perfection, going very well with the dill aioli.

I found myself wanting more, even though the portions were rather generous. People kept stealing my chips and dill aioli dip too, which goes to show how good this dish is.

fat yak me

It went very well with the Fat Yak Pale Ale that I ordered. I felt it was poetic to have both Fat Yak beer on my food as a batter *and* as a drink. The Minimum Chips Golden Lager is slightly more refreshing but the IPA style Fat Yak runs more towards my tastes.

crest cafe birubi beach

The magical view of Birubi Beach makes CREST Café one of the best spots to have a modern interpretation of a perennial Australian favorite – fish and chips! It was our final lunch before leaving the Port Stephens area for Sydney and I have to say, it was a very memorable one. I even put the picture of me drinking the Fat Yak craft beer as my Facebook profile picture!

CREST Café
Birubi Beach Surf Club
73, James Paterson Street
Anna Bay, New South Wales

Waterfront Restaurant @ The Rocks

seafood platter

Waterfront is impossible to miss – it’s built with a distinctive replica of a square-rigged colonial sailing ship mast at the external dining area. This is a full scale replica so it looks like a ship actually ran aground. I thought it was built around a real ship but one of the waitresses told me it’s a replica – another one of which is inside the main dining area.

waterfront ship

The location is on prime Sydney real estate – look outside and you’ll see breathtaking views of Sydney Habour – right from the Opera House to Harbour Bridge. The Sydney Opera House is all lit up since I went during Vivid Sydney – will write about the complete experience soon.

vivid sydney opera house

This restaurant is owned by Dockside Group and there’s actually five (5) interconnected restaurants, cafes and bars inside. I walked around the nautical themed interior of Waterfront, got a little lost, and actually exited from another bar and had to double back to my seating area.

I mentioned that I had the second best seafood platter in Sydney at Vues on the Bay in Port Stephens – this is the best one.

Hot & cold seafood platter for two (AUD 195)
A succulent selection of crayfish, blue swimmer crab, tiger prawns, Balmain bugs, oysters, mussels, baby calamari, market fresh fish & smoked salmon served with fries, mixed leaf salad & tartare sauce

hot seafood platter

The crayfish has been poached and then shocked in ice water. It’s served cold, just the way I like it. BTW, I use the terms interchangeably coz crayfish in Australia actually refers to spiny lobsters in a lot of places – like this one! It’s one of the larger specimens I’ve seen and each person has ½ lobster. I managed to eat 2 lobsters coz some of the people in our group has shellfish allergies and others didn’t really like crayfish that much (heresy!).

It’s really the best crayfish I’ve ever had and that’s coz the lobster was so fresh it tasted sweet and succulent! I just couldn’t have enough.

On the other hand, the Balmain bug (it’s a type of slipper lobster, which is different from a Moreton Bay Bug) tasted positively stale. It seems like it has been caught for a long time, defrosted, then cooked in the same way. I was *not* impressed.

crayfish

However, the seafood platter has way more hits than misses – the blue crab was delicious, the oysters and mussels divine, and I really liked the baby calamari. The “market fresh fish” (they use Murray Cod, Golden Perch and Australian Bass – the Barramundi is cooked as a separate a la carte item) was absolutely delicious! It was Murray Cod that day and it’s made into long, thin cigar shaped pieces which were breaded and fried to perfection. It’s definitely my favorite out of the hot platter.

flourless chocolate cake

Dessert was a bit of a letdown though. I didn’t quite like the Flourless Chocolate Cake – and judging from the rest of the group, I wasn’t the only one. The cake itself was dry and hard and the best thing about the plate is the quenelle of vanilla bean ice cream.

waterfront sydney

I had a few glasses of local Pinot Noir to go with dinner and it complemented everything nicely. I dove in so fast that I didn’t even think about getting the best pictures. All I wanted to do was to get at the sweet poached and ice shocked lobster meat! I would say that the delectable crayfish and deep fried battered Murray Cod was so good that it made the little misses seem like nitpicking.

waterfront the rocks

Waterfront restaurant serves up good seafood and although it may look like a tourist trap on the outside, there are actually a lot of locals who eat here due to the ambience. I would recommend it if you like romantic dinners by the harbour. We were seated outside, but since it was a chilly autumn night, the place was buttoned up with see-through canvas for heating but I bet it’ll be perfect in summer.

replica ship

It can be a little bit pricey though (and there’s also a AUD 5 surcharge on weekends), but I guess that’s due to the location – you’re paying for the wonderful view of Sydney Harbour during dinner too, which isn’t a bad thing.

waterfront restaurant

Waterfront @ The Rocks
17-27, Circular Quay West
Sydney, New South Wales

Traditional Afternoon Tea @ The Palace Tea Room, QVB

afternoon tea palace

The Palace Tea Room is a wonderful Victorian experience in the heart of Queen Victoria Building (QVB). The gilded gold chandeliers and mirrors, the delightful period décor and the impeccable service all makes this an afternoon tea to remember. Oh, and they also have a separate drinks menu with *over 30 different kinds of tea*!

the palace tea room

I was quite chuffed when I heard that we’ll be having afternoon tea here. Contrary to my image, I do like the occasional dainty finger sandwich and I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Palace Tea Room. They only use Royal Albert – 100 Years of Royal Albert, 1950s Festival and Wedgwood Harlequin fine bone china!

tea room

The décor is meant to awe but the friendly service makes this feel like you’ve gone back to the Victorian era and you’re having tea in your own drawing room with friends, which the wait staff pulls off with aplomb. The picturesque scene of quiet congregation (everyone seems to talk in whispers here, I felt the same urge) was only broken with the oohs and aah of satisfaction with their afternoon tea offering.

palace waiters

You can choose a Devonshire Tea (AUD 20) if you’re not particularly hungry or go for the full experience of The Palace Traditional Afternoon Tea (AUD 38). I highly recommend the latter, it comes with a fully loaded 3-tier platter of dainty delights!

tea menu

I asked the waitress for a recommendation, since I couldn’t decide after browsing through six (6) full pages of tea. She suggested the Paris Vanilla Tea, which is one of the more popular offerings but I noticed something called Indulge Chocolate Tea and asked her about it. She couldn’t decide between the two either, since both are good in their own way, so I asked what she would order if she were in my place – and Indulge Chocolate Tea it was!

indulge chocolate tea

I was very happy with my choice of tea. It’s indulgent, smooth and rich. The menu describes it as “wicked” and I very much agree. You can smell the chocolate when the tea is steeping and everyone wanted a cup of my choice (each order of tea comes in a pot). It has strong highlights and afternotes of chocolate, which I found delectable. The Indulge Chocolate Tea is an extravagant choice that you won’t regret (but everyone else will, and want a sip of yours).

wedgwood harlequin china

The manager personally came out and explained each of the beautiful creations on the 3-tiered fine china platter (each edge is gilded with *real gold* banding and highlights – from the teapot spout to the plates) – there’s scones, crab coronets and crust-less finger sandwiches on the bottom tier and the first two tiers are filled with sweet cakes and pastries.

traditional afternoon tea

I loved the cone shaped crab coronet – it was so tasty I wish it didn’t disappear in a bite. There are three kinds of finger sandwiches too – egg salad on white bread, tuna on brown bread and Chicken Caesar sandwiches on brown bread. There’s also a tiny morsel which looks like two biscuits sandwiching a salmon roe paste – it turns out to be a little cheese shortbread sandwich filled with creamy red capsicum mousse. It was my favorite bit from the savory offerings at the bottom tier.

finger sandwiches coronet

I absolutely loved the scones and demolished them with hearty helpings of clotted cream and raspberry jam (since no one else wanted them). There are two scones – one plain and one filled with fruit. The blowtorch finished mini lemon meringue tart and tiny vanilla cupcakes topped with lemon sour cream are delicious! I think the only bit that let me down was the coconut macaron since Adriano Zumbo Patissier is just downstairs.

macaroons scones

However, the chocolate macaroon (with double o’s) dusted with toasted coconut and filled with a sweet passionfruit filling was spot on. I also liked the lamington (it’s an Australian cake) but the most wonderful item on the platter is a marvellous creation of white chocolate, raspberry and basil (!!!) mousse layered sponge cake.

palace me

The flavors works so well together and it’s just too bad that there’s only one (1) of some items in this 2-person sharing platter so you’ll have to cut a tiny pastry into half. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful experience and if you appreciate the subtleties of tea, you’ll be pleased to know that all their teas are proprietary house blends. The owner told us they’re always so full that reservations is a must and also divulged that they’re bidding to buy over the opposite establishment so they can renovate it and take it over, which says everything about how popular The Palace Tea Room in QVB is.

the queens letter

Interesting tip: There’s a sealed letter from Queen Elizabeth II in QVB (Queen Victoria Building) which was written by Her Majesty in 1986 to be opened 100 years in the future in 2085 by the Lord Mayor of Sydney at that time and read aloud to the People of Sydney. It’s at the top floor and worth a detour before you head for afternoon tea, even if you can’t read the contents of the letter. I just love the idea.

queen victoria building

The Palace Tea Room
Shop L1 20-22, Level 1,
Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

Bert’s Jr. Gourmet Burgers @ Kota Damansara

berts jr

Bert’s Jr. Gourmet Burgers is just a stone throw away from where I live but I’ve never eaten there, despite going to a lot of different places during the “burger craze”. We were craving burgers over the long weekend and since a lot of shops weren’t open, we decided to eat here. The different thing about Bert’s Junior is that they *don’t* serve pork – so don’t expect a nice juicy oink patty coz they’re a halal outlet.

berts jr gourmet burgers

I am wary of places like this, since some Muslims mistake myoglobin in cooked meat (the juices in a steak when it’s not rested properly) for blood, and since since blood is prohibited, a lot of halal steak houses and burger joints have very little in the way of customization – the meat is only served well-done e.g. you can’t order a blue steak or have it medium rare.

berts junior

Thus, I steered clear of the steak offerings (Bert’s Jr offers that on their menu too) and went in for the burgers. I asked for a recommendation and got Dark Vader (char-broiled mozzarella infused Australian beef patty topped with beef bologna cold cut, cheddar cheese, shiitake mushroom, green leaves, peeled tomato, caramelized onions) and Baa Baa Black Sheep.

dark vader

Bert Junior has burgers available in both small (100 gram) and regular (200 gram) patty sizes and I went for the larger one for my order. My better half went for a chicken burger since she doesn’t really like beef (Dark Vader) or lamb (Baa Baa Black Sheep). The burgers can also be made into a meal for RM 5 more – affording you a drink and a side (curly fries, French fries or croquette with coleslaw). It’s cheaper than most premium burger outlets in town.

Baa Baa Black Sheep (RM 21.90)
Char-broiled mozzarella infused Australian lamb patty topped with chicken mushroom, cold cut, cheddar cheese, Shiitake mushroom, pineapple, green leaves, onion & tomato salsa

baa baa sheep

I honestly can’t say I enjoyed my burger. I thought the combination of the lamb patty with the tomato salsa (which tasted more like a poorly executed Marinara sauce) was strange – it seems like the ultra strong tomato salsa is meant to cover the gamey taste of the lamb. I like the taste of lamb so I didn’t enjoy the overwhelming taste of tomatoes, which was ALL I could taste after a while.

lamb burger

I did like my side of croquette and coleslaw though – the latter was very refreshing. This is the most ordered item, according to the waitress.

Hot Chick (RM 19.90)
Grilled chicken thigh marinated with black pepper sauce topped with chicken mushroom, cold cut and cheddar cheese, egg, green leaves, peeled tomato, caramelized onions

hot chick

My dear went for the chicken option and she commented that the chicken thigh was rather dry. She did finish her burger though, but we couldn’t make a dent in the curly fries. I had a bite and thought it was mediocre but I do like the incorporation of a cold cut from the deli in their burgers.

berts jr us

I felt that our trip to Bert’s Jr. Gourmet Burgers was rather disappointing. The burgers we ordered were really underwhelming compared to other burger joints in town. However, the service was friendly and efficient and they also have a steamed cheeseburger on their menu, which I am keen to try next time.

black sheep

Bert’s Jr Gourmet Burgers
Jalan PJU 5/3, Dataran Sunway,
Kota Damansara

Pierre Hermé “Les Incontournables de Paris” macarons from France

Pierre Herme Macarons

The macarons from Pierre Hermé are the best macarons I’ve ever had in my entire life! It was the first place my better half wanted to go to when we were in Paris earlier this year. We went to two of his shops – the original one is at Pâtisserie Pierre Hermé Paris in Bonaparte but their Macarons & Chocolats Pierre Hermé Paris boutiques at Galeries Lafayette has seating arrangements!

Macarons Chocolats Pierre Herme

Pierre Hermé also sells a wide variety of fantastic chocolates and pastries but we were here for the macarons so we got a pack of 7 macarons and opted to eat at the beautiful rooftop with an amazing 360 degree view of Paris instead of at the boutique itself.

Lafayette Roof

My dear liked the Les Incontournables De Paris (The Essentials Of Paris) box so I got that for her. It costs €18 for a box of 7. The friendly attendant was even kind enough to let us pick the flavors (it’s supposed to be a fixed box set) and even include *limited edition macarons* from the Pierre Hermé Paris ‘Les Jardins’ Collection 2014!

pierre herme france

Pierre Hermé has a total of 23 (!!!) flavors of macarons at any time. However, most of their box sets have a theme e.g. the Initiation 20-piece Assortment (€59) only has 4 different types of macarons. There’s no set price per macaron, it depends on what you get and the price can range from €2 – €3 per macaron. We got ours for slightly over €2.50 each (about RM 11 per macaron).

pierre herme chocolates

The French guy serving us allowed us to choose anything (including limited editions) from the 23 different flavors for the 7-pack, so we took turns choosing macarons:

pierre herme les jardins collection

HUILE D’OLIVE & VANILLE
Olive Oil Fruite Vert, Vanilla & bits of Green Olive

CRÈME BRÛLÉE
Vanillas & Caramel bits

MOGADOR
Milk Chocolate & Passion Fruit

MILÉNA
Fresh Mint & Red Berries

MONTEBELLO
Pistachio & Raspberry compote

JARDIN DES 8 TRÉSORS
Lotus Seed, Red Date, Wolfberry, Rosebud, Dried Orange Peel, Dried Longan Fruit, Chrysanthemum and Osmanthus

INFINIMENT ROSE
Rose & Rose Petals

Les Incontournables De Paris

I just love how weird and quirky the flavors are! It’s not just for the “wow factor” too, the combinations works very well! My first choice was the delectable Huile d’olive & Vanille with bits of *real* green olive!

olive vanilla macaron

I’ve never had an olive macaron (with REAL olive pieces inside) before and we both loved it!

Pierre Herme

My dear went for the Crème Brûlée which actually tastes remarkably like the real thing! I couldn’t believe it.

rose petal macaron

The delicate Infiniment Rose is made from rose and has rose petals (!!!) in the macaron!

milena macaron

We loved every single macaron – there were no duds or mediocre ones in the box, every single macaron was balanced well, not the sickly sweet macarons we get here but an amazing symphony of perfection.

Jardin des 8 Tresors

The other highlight was Jardin des 8 Trésors – the April 2014 monthly limited edition macaron from the Pierre Hermé Paris ‘Les Jardins’ Collection 2014 with 8 different Asian treasures packed into 1 macaron – lotus seed, red date, wolfberry, rosebud, dried orange peel, dried longan fruit, chrysanthemum and osmanthus with incredibly complex flavor and texture profiles.

mogador macaron

We were munching on the macarons in a sky park on top of Galeries Lafayette on a sunny spring day with lots of other locals camped out to enjoy the fresh air and the amazing panoramic view of Paris.

pierre herme us

It was one of the highlights of our trip – enjoying good food, each other, and the Parisian experience!

montebello

I have never had a better macaron than Pierre Hermé in Paris! Adriano Zumbo comes close and Ladurée is a distant third. I highly recommend eating the original ones from France in France, you can’t keep it for more than 4 days and I dub Pierre Hermé the best macarons I’ve ever had in my life and my dear agrees! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...