Category Archives: Eating out

My experiences of food as I try various restaurants, no snobbery here, anything and everything goes; from the cheap to the expensive.

A Lot.1 of food

I’ve never had so much food from a set menu/degust before. Lot.1 on York St in the Sydney CBD was the venue of choice to mark 4.5 years of K and I. Having read good things and recommended by a good friend, it was time to give it a go ($20 back from AMEX and Dimmi helps too).

It was already pretty late for a dinner and the waitress did hint the 5 course option but we opted for the 7, seemed like decent value at $95.

First up, oysters, 2 each. Standard with lemon, nothing exciting.

Next up, chargrilled prawns with cumquat and bottarga. Cooked medium rare with good charring on the outside. The citrus in the cumquat gel was a great condiment.

A delay in service of this dish meant they gave us free champagne! Was mighty impressed with the attentiveness, we didn’t even make a comment or complaint!

The wagyu carpaccio was next and I was glad as it was one of the menu items I really wanted to try. Served with a pecorino cheese gelato and goji berries. The cheese just fused with the wagyu’s fat and the goji berries added a nice sweetness and crunch. It was excellent!

That was it for entrees. Next was mains, the Cavatelli, a pasta dish that reminded me of the Sepia forest floor dessert, except with pasta that looked a little like worms. Served with porcini cream, mushrooms and nutmeg. The taste of the mushroom really came through. A bit mixed on the pasta but overall still good.

Time for some protein, swordfish was up first and it was almost like a steak. The fish was quite salty but complimenting well with the sweet sauce and grilled bell peppers.

Pork neck came next and served with curly and super crunchy crackling. The fennel was a nice touch and it was cooked to perfection, really tender.

By this point we were super full and was hoping or assuming that this was the last dish, it was not. A plate of wagyu steak came out and while I really wanted this too, at this point I was about to explode. The Asian in me pushed on and I had 3 pieces, it was really tasty and the shaved carrots had a great colour and texture.

Overall really enjoyed this place and would recommend. Think the menu was adjusted for allergies but I think normally you’d still get 3 mains. The interior is nice with nice touches of colour, exposed brick and beams, makes for nice photos.

Dimmi also has limited number of 30% off deals for weekday bookings (don’t forget to link and use your Amex too).

Wildly oscillating to 28

As cold as winter is, there’s always one day to look forward to and that’s my birthday. Each year that means getting surprised and spoilt for a nice dinner with the girlfriend. The restaurant of choice this year was a small joint in Newtown called Oscillate Wildly, and to be honest I don’t think I’ve heard of it (then again, I don’t think I know many restaurants).

Not knowing what to expect, I didn’t even realise there was a small restaurant next to Black Star Pastry, and small it is, with only enough seats for about 20 guests. Taste-wise I could probably best describe it as Modern Australian with some Jap/Asian influence.

To get started was some pork crackling. Super crispy and airy like a chip but

Strangely enough, I really love it when there’s great bread and butter at restaurants. It’s important to be warm and crunchy on the outside and this bun sure delivered. No butter this time but something better, pork fat and what I think was some sort of pate. Delicious! We made a huge mess of the table as well. Apparently it’s only available during winter.

Last appetiser before the real meal started was a gin and tonic, in sugar cane form, it was quite fun biting into the cold fibrous cane to bring out the flavour.

First real dish was avocado, ponzu and fingerlime. This one blew my mind with its simplicity yet it just seemed to work really well. The acidity and sourness from the ponzu and fingerlime just kind of melted with the avocado.

Next up was peas, parmesan and lovage. Interesting dish with the sauce a really nice deep shade of green. There were some balls that exploded with flavour and really rounded off the peas and slight bitterness of the lovage and delicate parmesan. Really airy and subtle with the parmesan flavours being quite light.

Foie, cauliflower and maple would be the next dish. There was a nice crunch from what looks like popcorn which contrasts the smooth cauliflower puree, the shavings at the top give it a bit of resistance. Flavour-wise, lots of umami with enough maple to bring our the savoury flavours.

Next dish was basically just mushroom shitake sliced up, bits of enoki in a really dark broth. Really flavoursome and the mushrooms still retained their texture without tasting raw.

Going to something more substantial was simply fish and chips and that was really it to the dish. The fish was cooked really well but simply salted to retain the whiting’s flavour. The chips however were something spectacular, they were wafer thin strips and almost like a potato chip yet still had heaps of potato flavour.

My eyes lit up for the next dish as the waiter mentioned 9+ marbling wagyu beef. More enoki and a really nice black vinegar glaze which went really well with the perfectly cooked beef. The fat had rendered completely and just packed the meat full of flavour.

Desserts were now about to come. The first was chestnuts and vanilla ice cream. Really simple dish and I really liked how the shaved chestnuts gave bite to the dish and subdued the flavours a bit, kind of makes you savour it a bit more.

The last dessert had me a bit worried to be honest, liquorice, coconut and malt, not usually flavours I enjoy but it ended up being one of my favourites of the night. Super soft sponge cake with enough of a liquorice taste but minus the bitterness. The coconut ice cream was rather light and just finished it nicely. If it were up to me, it’d be something I could eat bowls of all day.

Kaz’s dessert was well plated which is always nice given her giant list of allergies. Beetroot, rhubarb and raspberry.

Some petit fours and a candle to finish the night, the jelly cubes were a nice way to wrap up the meal. We did get the matching wines to share and I think they’ve done a really good job to match the wine with the food. I won’t go into the detail, but I found it to be complementary both ways.

One thing that we noticed towards the end was the candle holder, felt a bit game of thrones-esque.

A very enjoyable dinner and I’d totally recommend this place. The dishes were all very well balanced, the flavours seemed to just subtly mix together and felt like they were carefully chosen but also very restrained; one way of putting it is it requires you be patient and seek out the flavours a bit.Thanks again for the lovely dinner and night out, I love how you always try to find a place that’ll surprise me. As with any other restaurant choice, it was perfect.

A not so Vivid

Vivid seems to be getting duller and duller for me as the years go by. This year everything felt super spread and to me that meant a low reward to effort ratio, that is having to walk too much to see so little. Thought I would have been a little more enthusiastic as well being the first chance to stretch the legs on my new Sony A7 mk2 but that could only do so much

First up was a quick dinner at the Malaya in King St wharf, just picked a random place with Dimmi and AMEX’ $20 off deal. It was a busy place, great for groups but not ideal for a quiet dinner. Entrees were the samosas and chilli fried chicken wings.

The former were super light with good skin and full of flavour; not cheap though. The chilli fried chicken wings had heaps of sauce, too much in my opinion and a lot of batter which masked any taste of chicken.

Mains were the king prawn laksa and chicken sambol.

The laksa was delicious, a lot better than I expected; plenty of flavour, chilli and not too heavy on the coconut. A richer version of the Hunter Strett laksa (which is definitely my favourite). If it wasn’t for the price, this would be a sure favourite. The sambol was also really nice, again they don’t skimp out on flavours, it was bold and spicy; I was a bit worried that the flavours would be watered down due to location, but I was pleasantly surprised overall.

So, back to Vivid. Bangaroo was a new addition this year and the night I went it was rather quiet. A walk with sting rays turned into immersion with projections and lastly aquanauts roaming the streets. Loved the detail in the suits and the cloud hovering about their heads.

The walk to Circular Quay (behind customs house) was a decent walk with my favourite being the colourful umbrella jellyfish (not sure if that’s what they were meant to be though). A couple of projections in the laneways, a canon stand taking photos of us and a sundial type clock (where you’re the dial) were pretty cool.

All shots were taken with Sony A7 mark II with either the Sony 35mm f/2.8 and a Zenitar 16mm fisheye adapted from a Nikon mount. One thing I didn’t realise with the fisheye before it was too late is that when adapted, the distance markings were out of whack, more so than when mounted on a Nikon camera. Most of the shots are out of focus with the focus going beyond what I was intending.

The rest of my Vivid trip was simply around the harbour with my favourite being an installation at the overseas passenger terminal which almost looks like heavy rain coming down. The opera house was quite pretty this year and I thought it was pretty cool that there was an interactive station where you could control what colour the bridge and surrounding buildings were; it did mean that sometimes the colour combinations were horrible.

All in all, quite happy with the A7m2, I wish the lens was a bit faster, f/2 would have been great, but the in body stabilisation does work well allowing me to go as slow as 1/10 with the 35mm without much trouble. I’m still getting used to the RAW files from the camera, but initial impressions is that that darks and shadows don’t hold as well as the Nikon files (that, or Lightroom doesn’t handle them as well).

That’s all from Vivid, photos aren’t exciting as previous years and I didn’t even bother with a tripod this time round.

Back to blogging & Momofuku Seibo

As you can probably see, this blog’s been neglected for quite a while. To my surprise, there’s actually a few draft posts that I never got round to posting up, I know the girlfriend’s been anticipating a particular post about a particular restaurant, but ironically, the post below isn’t it! The post below was written over 2 and half years ago.


I guess when you’ve been with someone for 6 months it’s a mile stone and you’re supposed to celebrate it together by doing something nice. For this anniversary we would be going to the much-hyped and hard-to-book Momofuku Seibo in The Star. Blink and you’ll miss the place (like we did), the door completely blends in with the surrounding and the only mark which identifies the restaurant is their peach logo.

It’s a mirror finish so naturally you use it like a mirror.

_DSC3632The interior of the restaurant was a lot more casual than I had expected, as you walk in, the walk-in bar is to your left. If you’re keen to give some of the menu items a try, the bar is available for a 3 people and no bookings are taken/required.

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The setting is simple and feels rather relaxed, no fancy white table cloths, myriad of cutlery or fancily dressed staff, just a big open kitchen in the middle surrounded with more bar styled seating. Great to be able to see the chefs work their magic.

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Food here is a 13 course degustation and doesn’t take long to come out after your arrive. There’s no menu on the tables so all the plates that come out are a surprise. The first looked a little like a cigar or a spring roll, it was smoked eel wrapped in some sort of pastry. It had a really nice smooth creamy kinda texture on the inside and the superb crunch on the outside complimented by a lovely sweetness from the apple jam.
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The next was a little steamed bun with pork with a cute bottle of sriracha chilli sauce, I was very surprised to see sirarcha sauce in a high end restaurant but it just shows how good it is and how well it can go with food. The bun was amazingly soft, almost like eating a cloud and the pork was so succulent and juicy; it just melts in your mouth.

_DSC3641The next dish was potato with roe and parson’s nose (not sure what this is exactly) and it was strangely delicious, they were the best potatoes I’ve ever had, the way it was cooked gave it an amazing texture, a little elastic/resistance, super soft but not mushy at all. The roe gives most of the flavour and is well balanced by the creamy sauce.

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Mud crab with chickpea and amaranth is served next, while it looks rather simple in presentation, it’s got a great amount of flavour. The crab is nice soft yet firm enough to break up on contact. The amaranth adds a great crunchy texture which is finished by the buttery  sauce.
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I found the rose sake that it was served with to be very interesting, the initial taste was a bit strong, but the flavours subdue and it becomes a smooth and sweet flavour.
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A bowl of beef and radish makes it way out and looks lovely, we’re told to mix well and that’s when a black bean sauce encompasses the whole bowl, it looked kinda like squid ink. While it was no longer the pristine and lovely white dish it was before, flavour wise it was fantastic. Small bits of lightly cooked wagyu beef were tossed in however I think they could have had a little more.

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A plate of cauliflower and smoked egg yolk sprinkles was served next with a glass or orange wine. Never heard of orange wine before so it was interesting to try, personally found its consistency to be more like a white, but with deeper smokey flavours. I quite liked this dish as well as the slight saltiness of the fried egg yolk sprinkles meshed beautifully with the sweetness and creaminess of the cauliflower.
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Just when I had enough of vegies, some  meat came out, this time some lamb served with asparagus. It was a very strange dish, not quite what I was expecting, the lamb didn’t feel like lamb at all, more like chicken, the meat had a very soft texture (different from what it’s normally when grilled like say, medium rare).

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The next was marron which is kind of like a lobster from Western Australia. The meat had a firm springy texture while still remaining rather soft, the sauce was a little sweet with a bit of tang to create a dance on your tongue, very yum.

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This dish is their signature, it’s a lamb chop and as it came out, you can see how juicy and delicious it’ll be. Plenty of fat on the outside for a flavoursome meat, but it’s cooked a medium rare the whole way through, perfectly pink!
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You can see the lovely layer of fat which has been given a lovely golden shell. I thought it was pretty amazing and it was a high quality piece of meat.

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The sweeter stuff came next with this curd with mint and blackcurrant. The curd here was amazingly smooth and blending the sauces would give a subtle sweetness which was lovely, some sort of crispy sprinkle was a great, added another dimension with the crunch breaking up the smoothness of the curd..

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The next would be a very simple gelato dish with the addition of muntries. The gelato was amazingly smooth while the little muntries  mixed the texture up a little while a slight sourness from the berries offset the sweetness of the gelato.

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The next dish was pear and jerusalem artichoke with sunflower seeds and the simple addition of sunflower petals to add a sprig of colour to the dish.
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The final dish that came out was the biggest surprise, after we’ve had all our sweets, we get more meat! It was a lovely serving of delicately cooked pork, almost like a pulled pork. Very tender and hand torn for consumption without utensils. The sauce was sweet with a deep flavour, kind of a like a glaze and was just superb.

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As the night comes to a close, the restaurant provides you with a couple of momentos so you can remember your experience. Some kim chi, a lovely little card and so that you realise what you ate, the menu. It was a lovely experience and definitely not cheap at $185 a head but based on the variety of food that came out and the environment, I felt it was rather worth it. I know a lot of people aren’t the biggest fan, girlfriend included, but I feel like the food here is more humble and not such an abstract experience; I love the idea of each dish being a surprise.

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Ikkyu Ramen

So there was a whole heap of hype about this new ramen place called Ramen Ikkyu opening up in Chinatown inside the Sussex centre, I remember the week of it opening, there were waits of up to an hour before you’d get your food. While I’m a bit late to join the bandwagon, I’ve finally had a chance to try this place out.

So where is Sussex centre? It’s on 401 Sussex street with an alternative entrance in the back from Dixon St next to the Chatime.

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Most of this hype came about from an article in SMH’s good food guide. To be honest, I’m not familiar with the actual terminology of Ramen, the type of soup they prepare here is known as ‘Paitain Soup’ which I understand means a white soup.

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The store is placed in a food court which means a rather minimal shopfront, there’s a single waitress whom assists with ordering at the front counter while the back kitchen is hidden away.
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Ordering is performed using iPads and allows for you to customise your order as you please. Order, pay, grab your receipt and then wait for your delicious noodles. As you can see my choice was the pork rib ramen and I decided to add some Cha Shu slices and get some chilli oil to spice things up a little.

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Great thing about this place is the many options to top your ramen and get and assortment of sides to match your preference. Toppings include extra Bamboo shoot, butter, corn as well as sauces like black garlic oil or chilli oil.
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I’ve seen what comes out for the pork rib and I was rather excited, but for those who haven’t heard of this place, the pork rib is HUGE and completely overwhelms the bowl. Just imagine, it’s $14 for just the rib. The bowl is beautifully presented with a rich vibrant colour.

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The default option provides plenty of toppings; bamboo shoots, ontama egg, black fungus, shallots and seasame. With the rib, it came as 2 whole ribs with meat up to the fatty layer. The best thing about the rib is that it just comes off the bone and is super tender, however it is sprinkled with good chunks of sea salt so mix well before consuming.

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So what are my thoughts? It’s pretty yummy, the hand made noodles have a great texture, firm and springy but not so much resistance that it feels tough. The broth flavours are nice, it’s on the light side compared to a thick tonkotsu broth and is lighter. The pork rib is delicious and amazingly soft where the cha shu also has a delicious sweet sauce glazed over it.

The overall meal was huge and with the extra free serving of Kaedama (which is always awesome) was really filling, fantastic food coma after the meal. To be honest though, I don’t think it lived up to the hype and for the price would prefer Gumshara which has a really rich pork broth – for those that find this a little too much, you may find Ikkyu more appealing.photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

Verdict: Good place, but personally prefer Gumshara and Ramen-kan for a cheap eat.
Cost: Somewhat expensive, you do get a lot though.
More info: http://menikkyu.com.au/
Location: Shop F1A, 401 Sussex Street, Sydney, 2000.

Cafe Sydney for a happy 24th

For my 24th, the lovely missus took me out for dinner at the lovely Cafe Sydney up above Customs House. The restaurant has a very nice ambience as you walk in and the view is fantastic! It overlooks the Harbour bridge and Circular Quay and makes the dining experience something special. Continue reading Cafe Sydney for a happy 24th

Chophouse – H1M

Tonight I was at Chophouse for some delicious steak with the missus – it’s only been a month, but it’s simply been amazing. Both as lovers of steak, it felt appropriate to visit Chophouse, I’ve heard good things about the steak here and it was time for a visit.

The entree was a different take on your regular kingfish sashimi with the addition of basil, apple and a chilli lime coconut cream dressing. Personally I think it’s a winner and dressed sashimi leaves a lot of room for creativity and chophouse does this very well.

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Mains were a difficult choice between the differing varieties of steak, while the menu is rather compact, there is enough cuts and meat grades to keep everyone happy. I opted for a wagyu ‘striploin’ with a bacon mayonnaise. Interestingly enough, it had come out with a slice of lemon and while I generally like a good steak pretty bare, the lemon did add an extra dimension to the taste. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare with the fat on the rim cooked to perfection to add to the rich taste.

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For the missus, a grass fed fillet on the bone was also excellently cooked and the meat was super tender. A small side of Chutney was included which I think complimented the steak extremely well and very different do your usual sauces, which I think is never required with a good steak.

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Both came with a little bit of red wine jus to give a bit of extra flavour without sacrificing the meat’s natural flavours. You can see how evenly the meat is cooked.

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Shoe string fries were orded as a side however they were nothing special.

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For dessert, I had opted for a dark chocolate ice cream sandwich, I personally found the taste of it to be too heavy and the biscuit a too dense for a plated dessert. Personally I’d rather a maxibon.

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For the missus, it would be a white chocolate and ricotta mouse topped with cherries and biscotti on the side. I thought the mousse was delicious and the cherry compliments the sweetness of the mousse well and makes sure it doesn’t over power your taste buds. Forget the biscotti, I don’t think it adds much value to the dish.

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Overall I loved the ambience of Chophouse, it has a rustic, slightly raw and aged feel and I’d definitely recommend giving it a visit and definitely a great place to take that special someone if you’re after something more substantial.

It’s located at 25 Bligh Street in Sydney (a little further north from Martin Place). It’s a tad pricey, but I think it’s worth it, our date ended with a $190 bill which included the entree, two mains, a side of fries, two cocktails and two desserts.

Petaling St – Sydney

More cheap Malaysian food brings me to Petaling Street on George Street in Haymarket. Touted as Malaysian Hawker food, this place offers a lot of variety with good sized portions and decent prices.

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Today I opted for a Nasi Pattaya which is a fried rice wrapped in an omelette.

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Good portion size and only $11.80. Inside is rice, onions, shallots and prawns fried together with a nice char to it. Sweet chilli sauce gives it that extra flavour boost.

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Beverage wise, I couldn’t go past a ‘Michael Jackson’.

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It’s just soya milk and grass jelly, nothing too fancy but a little pricey for what it is. I’d probably  prefer a teh tarik.
Entering the shop for lunch, it’s pretty busy and you’re immediately greeted with the aroma of the kitchen and busy staff whipping up an immense variety of dishes.

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Definitely rate this place and this is my second visit, heaps of items on the menu and everything that comes out looks and smells fantastic.

Ito’s Malaysian

Lunch at work is always a tricky balance of quality, quantity and price, however Ito’s Malaysian seems to satisfy all of the above.

Cheap and tasty Malaysian food can be found at Shop 5 at 201 Elizabeth Street Sydney. They don’t skimp on the meat either and  a bowl of chicken laksa can be had for $8.60.

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I opted for 2 chicken stay skewers, a bowl of chicken laksa and a coke zero, all for $15. Will definitely be back to try out the prawn mee and Hainan chicken rice, both only $8.60

misschu – Bondi Beach

Being summer, it’s hard to stray far from the beaches and not many are better than Bondi beach, the nice thing about Bondi is a large variety of shopping and restaurants, I decided to visit a nice little Vietnamese joint called misschu – queen of rice paper rolls.

It’s got a somewhat rustic feel inside and out which gives a nice casual atmosphere. There’s an outdoor seated area which is reminiscent of the street stores of Vietnam and in the winter time, blankets are provided to keep you warm! How awesome is that?!

Well the food? The food here does stay pretty traditional with a few variations on your true Vietnamese dishes, to start we had a few rice paper rolls, the first was the Tiger Prawn & Green mango and the second was the Roast Duck & Banana Flower.

Both rolls are filled with the traditional herbs; spear mint, thai basil, Vietnamese mint, purple perilla, etc. The result is an explosion of flavour in your mouth when combined with the hoisin/peanut sauce and fish sauce. Light and refreshing in flavour, great for a summery entree.

The mains we decided upon were the Vietnamese crepe/pancake – Banh Xeo with both pork and prawns and also the barbeque chicken.

For those that don’t know, the Banh Xeo is a yellow savoury crepe filled with prawns and pork as well as bean sprouts (or similar variations) fried in a skillet and folded in half. Here are misschu you’re presented with the banh xeo, a variety of herbs and lettuce, rice paper and fish sauce.

To eat it, you wet the rice paper in the warm water provided, add your lettuce and herbs and the banh xeo, wrap it up and dip. Taste wise it’s delicious and tastes very homely, the crepe has a nice crunch and there’s a decent amount of filling to keep you satisfied.

The barbeque chicken is pretty well cooked with a nice charcoal flavour, it’s served on a bed of lettuce and complimented with some cucumber and picked carrots and radish as well as some fish sauce. Flavours are mild but it makes for a refreshing dish.

Drinks wise we enticed ourselves to some cocktails, one was a lychee and mint crush with vodka while the other was a pineapple and mint crush with white rum. Lychee was the better pick with as it seemed to mesh better with the mint infused.

Other quirks of the restaurant? They provide delivery on scooters, so if you’re rather local to one of them, you can have the food delivered to your door (you can even order online!). The kitchen is open so you can see the chefs at work, a rather rare sight for a restaurant that serves Vietnamese cuisine to do so. Staff there are knowledgeable and friendly and made the experience enjoyable.

Overall the food is tasty, the flavours are well combined and the dishes remain faithful to their origins, the restaurant has a nice atmosphere to catch up with friends. The food is a little pricey for what I’m used to, the meal cost us close to $80 with the cocktails, taking the drinks away it’s still $50, you can find similar food in Cabramatta for about half the price.

Verdict: Tasty food that sticks to its origins and good atmosphere
Cost: Pricey for what it is (i.e. comparing to the west), $80 was spent for all of the above.
More info: http://www.misschu.com.au/
Location: 178 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach
Map:

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