Showing posts from April, 2013

Napoli in Bocca, Haberfield - Sydney

The  Calamari Ripieni was carefully packed with other seafood mince and came out beautifully on the mouth. Even if I have a current aversion to overwhelming gravies of tomato, I accepted the Napoletana gravy well as it blended well with the taste of seafood. This was a good accompaniment to our Messina beer.

I have been to this restaurant several times - it is just a stone's throw from the main set of lights in Haberfield's junction of Ramsay and Dalhousie Streets. 

We had arrived ten minutes early and were told that Bocca opens at noon. We came back dutifully but were led to the worst table for two, beside a door that indicated toilet.  The place was otherwise relatively empty when we sat down. The veal was tough and chewy. We ordered three dishes between the two of us and even if we said we were sharing, one of the mains did not come with a serving spoon. 

I had inadvertently left a small bag of fresh aromatic bread when we left. When  I came back for it, I went to our lunch ta…

The Grind Espresso Bar and Cafe, Surf Road, Cronulla - Sydney

Andy had been singing the praises of this cafe and I had to try it. Located on a side lane parallel to the main pedestrian mall in Cronulla in Sydney's south-east, it has a width of two shop fronts and faces the low rise single garages for units across the narrow roadway.  One can say it has a partly hidden location, but two streets away is the mall. The place may first look cluttered but there is a method to the buzz. The staff are cheerful on the morning the three of us dropped by. The lady who took our orders had a busy commencement in the cafe since that Saturday dawn, but she still had  the wit to say she is working "on the grind" around mid-morning. There is a sheen of brown about the decor, interrupted by graceful lights and unusual punctuations - I love the Ciry Rail time table board that lists the type of coffee available instead of suburban rail stations.

The coffee is wholesome, flavourful and makes me want to return. Chairs can be low or high, in disparate c…

Sakura Sushi, Corrimal Street - Wollongong CBD

Very compact, this sushi delight is run by a young crowd from China, but they do a good job in recreating the small bar atmosphere beside a narrow lane as one can recall when going off the main path in most Japanese cities and villages.  The town this time is Wollongong CBD, off the beaten track along the food strip that is Corrimal Street.  There must be only like seven tables but every time Wills organises for me to go join him there, the tables are quickly filled up by twenty somethings and a m ostly non-Asian cohort. Wills and I love the sake there, maybe more of Wills but I find this relaxing and get into a mellow mood by the time the meals come - especially when Howard joins us as well.

There are perhaps two main menu options at Sakura Sushi - the hot stuff and the cold raw cuts of seafood.

I love both, and although I have patronised this place several times, I did not try the piping hot udon noodle soup until during my most recent visit.  They do not have ramen but the udon w…

The Alley Break Cafe, Kingsway, Cronulla Beach - Sydney

When people are willing to queue and wait patiently for a seat, you do have something special.  Especially in the early morning. Surfers, babies on prams, cyclists, mates from other suburbs.  This is a cafe with competition from others nearby.  The sun is shining early and the bay is particularly Aussie blue. After luckily finding a car space nearby to park, the three of us stood on the rather clean pavements with a high degree of anticipation - and we were well rewarded.  We did not even have to wait for more than 15 minutes and we did not book ahead.  Every table and every seat was taken up, inside or outside.   Alley Break is sited in the right place or offers good menu choices or both.  The day has begun but it looks like the cafe has commenced even earlier on this April Saturday.

The scrambled eggs are fresh and lively. I loved my acai smoothie, not heavy and not dilute, but just right, with a juicy undertone and good texture.  Fellow breakfast goers are friendly, engrossed in c…

Temasek Singapore Restaurant, George Street, Parramatta - Western Sydney

Joseph Chan did it again - organise a group of us to have a sit down dinner at Temasek, one of the most enduring places in the Sydney region to continue to provide  Malaysian and Singaporean fare and cuisine all these past 30 years.  This time we had eleven diners ( due to one apology, who was not feeling well) and the round table was graced by people from various origins - South Africa, the Philippines, Malaysia, etc. I was seated between my dear elderly aunt Laura and Greg from Castlehill.  The place was as expected abuzz with many other diners, with a sprinkling of Caucasian families and groups, all intent to delve into the fare found abundantly in the food courts, cafes and streets of Singapore and Malaysian conurbations.

My best nominations this time at Temasek were for the Hainan chicken rice and the grilled satay skewers (photos above).  It is true that the chicken stock flavoured rice has now come to represent Singapore's national dish, even if it originated amongst immig…

Songkran or the Thai New Year, 14 April 2013


Surry Hills - Sydney, NSW

Surry Hills lies over sloping topography just outside the Chinatown, Paddington and Redfern districts of the southern side of Sydney CBD.  Just as young Aussies first have overseas stints in Bali or Phuket, Surry Hills is one of those lifestyle hubs that attract  twenty somethings from outside the city when they need to relocate because of a job, love, music or commuting necessity.

The suburb offers heritage and old terrace constructions, innovative concept cafes and restaurants, plus the accessibility to a night lifestyle.

There is, as usual, a price for all this - higher rents, not suburban building conditions, lack of street parking and a Big Smoke atmosphere.  The other side of the coin can balance out any perceived disadvantages for the resident - lanes with character, some greenery away from the George Street profile, choice of transport, like-minded networks and proximity of big city events and venues.

Designer and retro clothing, fabrics, furniture and collectibles definite…