Reviews



Bambusia Chinese Restaurant, Bondi Junction

Restaurants, Asian, Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian

Overall 7.9  36

9 Highly Recommended

Food  9      Ambience  9      Service  9      Value  9     


Booking

This is one of the most popular restaurants in Bondi Junction, so booking is recommended any night of the week. We dined on a Sat night and there wasn’t an empty table in the place.

Food

The fare here is mainly Chinese with a few token Indonesian and Malaysian choices added in. We stuck to the Chinese dishes and were not disappointed. Everything we ordered was of the highest quality in terms of ingredients, preparation and presentation.

For starters we had dim sums, spring rolls and curry puffs. Each item had been delicately prepared to be the perfect entree: not too rich and heavy or too big: just the right size and texture to whet your appetite for what was to follow. And in a practical touch, the most popular entrees can be ordered in singles, so you can simply choose how many you want in a serve. If there are only two of you, you can order two spring rolls etc, so that prevents over-ordering and wastage.

For my main course, I ordered the braised steak in plum sauce. The meat was finely cut up into small, thin pieces. It was tender, full of flavour and perfectly complemented by the sweet plum sauce. The lashing of cooked onions - my favourite vegetable - was the cherry on top for me. My partner also chose a meat dish: the sizzling fillet which was served with fresh, crunchy vegetables. And to round it all off, a generous bowl of boiled rice. What a delicious meal that was.

Ambience

This is a lively and busy restaurant, so you’ll never have to worry about being stuck here as the only diners. But the decor however leaves one feeling as if one’s in a time warp. The non-descript plastic chairs, wooden tables and ugly dark carpet takes us back to the 1980s. Not a great period for interior design. So I reckon it’s time for a bit of a makeover, guys!

Service

All wait staff were friendly, helpful and polite. It was just a pleasure being served by them. And this was, despite the fact that the place was full. When we arrived, our booked table was ready and waiting. The owner/manager greeted us warmly and made us feel welcome. Orders were quickly taken and our waiter was extremely patient as we took awhile to make up our minds. Drinks were brought out first, just the way I like it and the food was on the table within minutes.

Value

Here we revisit the past again, because these are 1980s prices. With our 25% Ent Book voucher (up to max $20), we paid an unheard of $50 for two of us and that included three different entrees (two per serve), two mains, rice, two beers and a Irish coffee to finish off with.

Comfort

My only complaint was that, as there were only two of us dining, we were placed in the back section where it’s rather cramped. We would have preferred a table near the middle, but then given the crowds, this clearly wasn’t possible as the mid section is taken up with the larger tables. Apart from that, we were comfortable enough. The thick carpets keep the noise levels down to an acceptable level. Lighting is strong, making it easy to read the well-laid out menu. Toilets are a pleasure. They’re sparkling clean and well provisioned. It would be helpful though to have some signage visible from the restaurant to indicate where they are.

Location and Parking

You’ll find Bambusia near the corner of Newland and Ebley Streets. Now Bondi Junction is a bit of a dead zone at night, and the local council have made things worse by imposing metered parking until 9.00pm. And this despite the fact that hardly any spaces are taken, even on a Sat night. So, if driving, be prepared to pay up to $10 for parking on top of your restaurant bill. That’s bound to act as a discouragement to anyone from dining in this area. Thanks to the council for this bit of perverse logic and mumbo jumbo economics.

Summary

These guys have been here a long time and their experience and professionalism just shines through, especially when you consider how busy they were. They’ve created a first rate restaurant that works well on every level, from food to service, ambience and value for money. We’ll certainly be back.

Apr 14, 2014

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Pubs, Bistro/Brasserie, Outdoor Dining

Overall 7.2  60

7.4 Recommended

Food  8      Drinks  8      Ambience  6      Service  8      Value  7     


We arrived at 7pm on a busy Saturday night and, as expected, it was packed to the rafters and as noisy as hell. We took one look around and were about to head off somewhere else when we spotted a lone empty table just beside the bistro ordering counter. So we grabbed it, sat down and bought a jug of sangria and a bottle of wine.

By the time we were ready to order there were about 15 people or groups in the queue ahead of us, but we patiently waited our turn. Eventually our order was taken and here I have to praise the staff for their efficiency and patience under stress. The young lady who took our order was calm and polite.

I thought we might have to wait forever for our meals given the number of people who were ahead of us, but we were pleasantly surprised when after just a few minutes the food arrived. And here too, we were not disappointed.

We started with the mushroom and mozzarella risotto balls ($12) and hummus and olives with pita bread ($12), two small garden salads ($6 ea) and a serve of corn on the cob ($5). Portion sizes were generous and everything was fresh and tasty, so we had no complaints on that front. The risotto balls were crispy on the outside with a smooth creamy filling and the hummus dip was just the right buttery texture and perfect on the warm pita bread.

For my main course I choose the pumpkin tortellini with pine nuts, fruit, mustard, parmesan and something called “beurre noisette” which is a hazelnut sauce. That was a delicious dish, the pasta was soft and it just melted in my mouth, while the sauce was sweet and tasty, the perfect complement for the dish. My friend enjoyed his beef fillet, cooked medium rare, with mushroom risotto, aioli and onion jam.

All up the food cost us a tad under $100, or $25 a head, but then we only had two mains. So if you’re looking for a cheap pub night, you won’t find it here, because these are pretty much restaurant prices. The drinks set us back $23 for the jug of sangria and $36 for a bottle of pinot noir.

As mentioned, if it’s a relaxing meal with friends that you’re after, then avoid this place on a weekend. But full marks to the staff for the high quality food and service.

Midweek may be more congenial, if you can find a smoke-free area. Personally, I find this half-hearted anti-smoking policy a mystery. Allowing smoking at alfresco venues simply means that non-smokers are effectively barred from sitting outdoors unless they want to be poisoned by foul-smelling second-hand ciggie smoke.

Apr 06, 2014

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Ozeki, Chatswood

Restaurants, Japanese, Serves Dinner, Serves Lunch, Serves Takeaway

Overall 7.4  21

8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  6      Service  9      Value  9     


Although the address is given as “Chatswood Chase Shopping Centre”, Ozeki is actually just outside the centre on the Vic Av side. For conveniences, you need to go back inside the centre.

Three of us dined midweek and the place was fairly quiet, perhaps only about 40% full. It is pretty much your standard sushi bar or sushi train style restaurant with counter seating only. You can pick dishes off the train or you can order hot stuff from the menu. Desserts, cold drinks or green tea can also be ordered but it’s not licensed.

(When are we finally going to grow up as a nation and allow all restaurants to at least stock beer and wine without having to go through a tedious, expensive and long-winded licensing process? A cold beer or a refreshing glass of white wine would have been the perfect accompaniment to the food).

The food is pretty much what you would expect from a sushi bar and you’ll find all the favourites here. Everything was fresh and tasty. In addition to a varied selection off the train, we also ordered a chicken teriyaki from the menu. The chicken was firm and succulent and neatly cut into pieces and layered with a fruity sauce.

I don’t recall how many dishes we had, but we certainly had a few plus a single cold drink, and a single green tea and all that came to $50, after the 25% Ent Book voucher, so that’s certainly good value.

I did find the place a tad cramped. We sat at the back looking out onto Vic Av, but the stools are pretty close to the wall. Service however is the strong point. All wait staff and especially the friendly maitre d’ were efficient and polite. All drinks and menu orders were promptly brought out.

Overall, we had a pleasant time at Ozeki Sushi. I’m generally not a great fan of sushi bars, but if it’s what you’re after, then this one is a solid choice in the Chatswood area. There’s ample parking in the centre and it’s free for the first three hours.

Enjoy.

Apr 02, 2014

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Restaurants, Takeaways, Indian, Pakistani, Family Dining

Overall 7  16

6.3 Average

Food  7      Ambience  5      Service  7      Value  6     


Three of us dined midweek and it was such a quiet night for these guys that I felt sorry for them. It’s a large restaurant with space for 70 diners. When we arrived at 6.45pm, there was one other couple dining. After they left, we were the only guests in the whole place until three more small groups trickled in at around 8.00pm. But that was the sum total of it, so at its best there were four tables occupied making the atmosphere a tad dreary. The dim lighting made it worse; even a little music may have livened things up a bit, but there was none.

Anyway, we pushed on regardless and started off the way we always do at Indian restaurants, with samosas but for a change, we added a salad to that. The samosas were warm and crispy on the outside with a smooth vegetarian filling. The salad was fresh and crunchy: quite an unusual dish for an Indian restaurant but a solid choice nevertheless. For mains we had a selection of dishes including the lamb saag, butter chicken, aloo gobhi (cauliflower and potato with ginger) and a malai kofta which is cottage cheese in spicy gravy. For accompaniments we stuck to the tried and tested saffron rice and naan bread. Everything was flavoursome and tasty although it little too much of the creamy sauces for my liking. Servings were generous: so much so that we couldn’t finish it all and took some home.

The place has been stylishly decorated with smart tableware and a modern bar counter at the far end. The one side is open to the street, making it a pleasantly cool venue on a warm night. Being so empty we had no trouble in conversing but I did have a little difficulty reading the extensive menu in the poor light.

Service was friendly and polite but a tad slow which was surprising it being so quiet. Toilets are at the back but they’re reasonably clean and well provisioned.

We found easy parking in the Coles car park across the road where it’s free and unlimited but there’s also ample street parking nearby so you’ll never have a problem in that department.

Overall we had a pleasant and relaxed eve which set the three of us back $150 although we did have a couple of drinks. Not sure though this is the kind of place that I’ll be rushing back to in a hurry though. The food was average and the lack of other diners made it a rather depressing venue.

Perhaps these guys need to get some advertising specials happening to pull in the midweek crowds.

Mar 27, 2014

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Xage Vietnamese, Surry Hills

Restaurants, Vietnamese, Hip and Trendy, BYO, Outdoor Dining

Overall 7.7  47

8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  8      Service  8      Value  8     


Booking

Four of us dined on a Saturday night and thankfully we had taken the precaution of booking ahead because by 7.00pm, the place was full. This isn’t a huge restaurant although space is cleverly optimised to seat around 50 people.

Food

The fare is Vietnamese with a small menu but thankfully for our vegetarian friends, a few meatless choices. We had a beef curry, ginger chicken and two vegetarian dishes one with tofu. Everything was fresh and tasty and served in generous portions. Best dish of the night was the beef curry. The beef was tender and flavoursome and well cooked. The ginger chicken was tad bland though. For entrees we had spring rolls and a pickle salad and that was the perfect way to start the meal.

Ambience

The ambience is inner city trendy with most diners being youngish, in their twenties or thirties. Consequently, it’s casual and relaxed and the perfect place for a laid-back meal with friends. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves with animated and often loud conversation going on all around us.

Service

When we arrived, our booked table was ready and waiting. Orders were quickly taken and despite the crowds, dishes came out promptly and in the right order. All wait staff were helpful, courteous and polite. We couldn’t have asked for better service.

Value

We paid $110 for a single shared starter, a salad, four mains, two servings of rice, a single soft drink and corkage at $3 a head. That’s fair value in these inflationary times.

Comfort

This is where things get a little tricky. The layout of the place makes it almost like alfresco dining with the front wide open to the elements. And being a cool autumn eve, I must confess that I was a bit chilly although the hearty fare, a full house, the wine and the company did warm things up for me a bit. I just wonder what happens here in winter, as in its current form I wouldn’t like to be sitting outdoors on a frigid Sydney winters eve. Perhaps it’s closed off, but that would make it rather claustrophobic. In any event, this strikes me more as a summer venue anyway.

The seating is Spartan with small wooden tables and bar stools, making it a tad uncomfortable. Lighting is solid and I was easily able to read the menu. There is a single unisex toilet at the back. It was clean and well provisioned but one toilet is insufficient, so be prepared to wait if it’s busy and that’s awkward, because there’s nowhere to queue unless you want to hang around outside the door and then of course everyone knows what you’re about. So you go back to your table and try again a few minutes later. And perhaps again....! Awkward as I said. Please add another toilet guys.

Location and Parking

Xage is located on busy Crown Street, near the corner of Albion Street. Parking in this part of the world is always a problem, so we decided to take a bus, which worked out well as it’s a pleasant 15 minute stroll from the closest Oxford Street bus stop.

Summary

I’d be happy to go again. But not in winter.

Memo

If it’s a chilly night, take a jumper!

Welcome to Xage Surry Hills Interior before it filled up Sat night at Xage


Mar 15, 2014

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artforartssake


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Member since 2006

I'm Male and married

My birthday is on 4th Nov 1956

My home town is Syd

They say I'm Fussy

Apart from eating, I read

You'll often catch me at home

I crave peanuts

My favourite cuisine is Indian

My favourite drink is Foaming amber ale

Last updated on 25th Sep 2011





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Bambusia Chinese Restaurant, Bondi Junction

Restaurants, Asian, Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian

Overall 7.9  36

9 Highly Recommended

Food  9      Ambience  9      Service  9      Value  9     


Booking

This is one of the most popular restaurants in Bondi Junction, so booking is recommended any night of the week. We dined on a Sat night and there wasn’t an empty table in the place.

Food

The fare here is mainly Chinese with a few token Indonesian and Malaysian choices added in. We stuck to the Chinese dishes and were not disappointed. Everything we ordered was of the highest quality in terms of ingredients, preparation and presentation.

For starters we had dim sums, spring rolls and curry puffs. Each item had been delicately prepared to be the perfect entree: not too rich and heavy or too big: just the right size and texture to whet your appetite for what was to follow. And in a practical touch, the most popular entrees can be ordered in singles, so you can simply choose how many you want in a serve. If there are only two of you, you can order two spring rolls etc, so that prevents over-ordering and wastage.

For my main course, I ordered the braised steak in plum sauce. The meat was finely cut up into small, thin pieces. It was tender, full of flavour and perfectly complemented by the sweet plum sauce. The lashing of cooked onions - my favourite vegetable - was the cherry on top for me. My partner also chose a meat dish: the sizzling fillet which was served with fresh, crunchy vegetables. And to round it all off, a generous bowl of boiled rice. What a delicious meal that was.

Ambience

This is a lively and busy restaurant, so you’ll never have to worry about being stuck here as the only diners. But the decor however leaves one feeling as if one’s in a time warp. The non-descript plastic chairs, wooden tables and ugly dark carpet takes us back to the 1980s. Not a great period for interior design. So I reckon it’s time for a bit of a makeover, guys!

Service

All wait staff were friendly, helpful and polite. It was just a pleasure being served by them. And this was, despite the fact that the place was full. When we arrived, our booked table was ready and waiting. The owner/manager greeted us warmly and made us feel welcome. Orders were quickly taken and our waiter was extremely patient as we took awhile to make up our minds. Drinks were brought out first, just the way I like it and the food was on the table within minutes.

Value

Here we revisit the past again, because these are 1980s prices. With our 25% Ent Book voucher (up to max $20), we paid an unheard of $50 for two of us and that included three different entrees (two per serve), two mains, rice, two beers and a Irish coffee to finish off with.

Comfort

My only complaint was that, as there were only two of us dining, we were placed in the back section where it’s rather cramped. We would have preferred a table near the middle, but then given the crowds, this clearly wasn’t possible as the mid section is taken up with the larger tables. Apart from that, we were comfortable enough. The thick carpets keep the noise levels down to an acceptable level. Lighting is strong, making it easy to read the well-laid out menu. Toilets are a pleasure. They’re sparkling clean and well provisioned. It would be helpful though to have some signage visible from the restaurant to indicate where they are.

Location and Parking

You’ll find Bambusia near the corner of Newland and Ebley Streets. Now Bondi Junction is a bit of a dead zone at night, and the local council have made things worse by imposing metered parking until 9.00pm. And this despite the fact that hardly any spaces are taken, even on a Sat night. So, if driving, be prepared to pay up to $10 for parking on top of your restaurant bill. That’s bound to act as a discouragement to anyone from dining in this area. Thanks to the council for this bit of perverse logic and mumbo jumbo economics.

Summary

These guys have been here a long time and their experience and professionalism just shines through, especially when you consider how busy they were. They’ve created a first rate restaurant that works well on every level, from food to service, ambience and value for money. We’ll certainly be back.

Apr 14, 2014

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Pubs, Bistro/Brasserie, Outdoor Dining

Overall 7.2  60

7.4 Recommended

Food  8      Drinks  8      Ambience  6      Service  8      Value  7     


We arrived at 7pm on a busy Saturday night and, as expected, it was packed to the rafters and as noisy as hell. We took one look around and were about to head off somewhere else when we spotted a lone empty table just beside the bistro ordering counter. So we grabbed it, sat down and bought a jug of sangria and a bottle of wine.

By the time we were ready to order there were about 15 people or groups in the queue ahead of us, but we patiently waited our turn. Eventually our order was taken and here I have to praise the staff for their efficiency and patience under stress. The young lady who took our order was calm and polite.

I thought we might have to wait forever for our meals given the number of people who were ahead of us, but we were pleasantly surprised when after just a few minutes the food arrived. And here too, we were not disappointed.

We started with the mushroom and mozzarella risotto balls ($12) and hummus and olives with pita bread ($12), two small garden salads ($6 ea) and a serve of corn on the cob ($5). Portion sizes were generous and everything was fresh and tasty, so we had no complaints on that front. The risotto balls were crispy on the outside with a smooth creamy filling and the hummus dip was just the right buttery texture and perfect on the warm pita bread.

For my main course I choose the pumpkin tortellini with pine nuts, fruit, mustard, parmesan and something called “beurre noisette” which is a hazelnut sauce. That was a delicious dish, the pasta was soft and it just melted in my mouth, while the sauce was sweet and tasty, the perfect complement for the dish. My friend enjoyed his beef fillet, cooked medium rare, with mushroom risotto, aioli and onion jam.

All up the food cost us a tad under $100, or $25 a head, but then we only had two mains. So if you’re looking for a cheap pub night, you won’t find it here, because these are pretty much restaurant prices. The drinks set us back $23 for the jug of sangria and $36 for a bottle of pinot noir.

As mentioned, if it’s a relaxing meal with friends that you’re after, then avoid this place on a weekend. But full marks to the staff for the high quality food and service.

Midweek may be more congenial, if you can find a smoke-free area. Personally, I find this half-hearted anti-smoking policy a mystery. Allowing smoking at alfresco venues simply means that non-smokers are effectively barred from sitting outdoors unless they want to be poisoned by foul-smelling second-hand ciggie smoke.

Apr 06, 2014

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Ozeki, Chatswood

Restaurants, Japanese, Serves Dinner, Serves Lunch, Serves Takeaway

Overall 7.4  21

8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  6      Service  9      Value  9     


Although the address is given as “Chatswood Chase Shopping Centre”, Ozeki is actually just outside the centre on the Vic Av side. For conveniences, you need to go back inside the centre.

Three of us dined midweek and the place was fairly quiet, perhaps only about 40% full. It is pretty much your standard sushi bar or sushi train style restaurant with counter seating only. You can pick dishes off the train or you can order hot stuff from the menu. Desserts, cold drinks or green tea can also be ordered but it’s not licensed.

(When are we finally going to grow up as a nation and allow all restaurants to at least stock beer and wine without having to go through a tedious, expensive and long-winded licensing process? A cold beer or a refreshing glass of white wine would have been the perfect accompaniment to the food).

The food is pretty much what you would expect from a sushi bar and you’ll find all the favourites here. Everything was fresh and tasty. In addition to a varied selection off the train, we also ordered a chicken teriyaki from the menu. The chicken was firm and succulent and neatly cut into pieces and layered with a fruity sauce.

I don’t recall how many dishes we had, but we certainly had a few plus a single cold drink, and a single green tea and all that came to $50, after the 25% Ent Book voucher, so that’s certainly good value.

I did find the place a tad cramped. We sat at the back looking out onto Vic Av, but the stools are pretty close to the wall. Service however is the strong point. All wait staff and especially the friendly maitre d’ were efficient and polite. All drinks and menu orders were promptly brought out.

Overall, we had a pleasant time at Ozeki Sushi. I’m generally not a great fan of sushi bars, but if it’s what you’re after, then this one is a solid choice in the Chatswood area. There’s ample parking in the centre and it’s free for the first three hours.

Enjoy.

Apr 02, 2014

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Restaurants, Takeaways, Indian, Pakistani, Family Dining

Overall 7  16

6.3 Average

Food  7      Ambience  5      Service  7      Value  6     


Three of us dined midweek and it was such a quiet night for these guys that I felt sorry for them. It’s a large restaurant with space for 70 diners. When we arrived at 6.45pm, there was one other couple dining. After they left, we were the only guests in the whole place until three more small groups trickled in at around 8.00pm. But that was the sum total of it, so at its best there were four tables occupied making the atmosphere a tad dreary. The dim lighting made it worse; even a little music may have livened things up a bit, but there was none.

Anyway, we pushed on regardless and started off the way we always do at Indian restaurants, with samosas but for a change, we added a salad to that. The samosas were warm and crispy on the outside with a smooth vegetarian filling. The salad was fresh and crunchy: quite an unusual dish for an Indian restaurant but a solid choice nevertheless. For mains we had a selection of dishes including the lamb saag, butter chicken, aloo gobhi (cauliflower and potato with ginger) and a malai kofta which is cottage cheese in spicy gravy. For accompaniments we stuck to the tried and tested saffron rice and naan bread. Everything was flavoursome and tasty although it little too much of the creamy sauces for my liking. Servings were generous: so much so that we couldn’t finish it all and took some home.

The place has been stylishly decorated with smart tableware and a modern bar counter at the far end. The one side is open to the street, making it a pleasantly cool venue on a warm night. Being so empty we had no trouble in conversing but I did have a little difficulty reading the extensive menu in the poor light.

Service was friendly and polite but a tad slow which was surprising it being so quiet. Toilets are at the back but they’re reasonably clean and well provisioned.

We found easy parking in the Coles car park across the road where it’s free and unlimited but there’s also ample street parking nearby so you’ll never have a problem in that department.

Overall we had a pleasant and relaxed eve which set the three of us back $150 although we did have a couple of drinks. Not sure though this is the kind of place that I’ll be rushing back to in a hurry though. The food was average and the lack of other diners made it a rather depressing venue.

Perhaps these guys need to get some advertising specials happening to pull in the midweek crowds.

Mar 27, 2014

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Xage Vietnamese, Surry Hills

Restaurants, Vietnamese, Hip and Trendy, BYO, Outdoor Dining

Overall 7.7  47

8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  8      Service  8      Value  8     


Booking

Four of us dined on a Saturday night and thankfully we had taken the precaution of booking ahead because by 7.00pm, the place was full. This isn’t a huge restaurant although space is cleverly optimised to seat around 50 people.

Food

The fare is Vietnamese with a small menu but thankfully for our vegetarian friends, a few meatless choices. We had a beef curry, ginger chicken and two vegetarian dishes one with tofu. Everything was fresh and tasty and served in generous portions. Best dish of the night was the beef curry. The beef was tender and flavoursome and well cooked. The ginger chicken was tad bland though. For entrees we had spring rolls and a pickle salad and that was the perfect way to start the meal.

Ambience

The ambience is inner city trendy with most diners being youngish, in their twenties or thirties. Consequently, it’s casual and relaxed and the perfect place for a laid-back meal with friends. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves with animated and often loud conversation going on all around us.

Service

When we arrived, our booked table was ready and waiting. Orders were quickly taken and despite the crowds, dishes came out promptly and in the right order. All wait staff were helpful, courteous and polite. We couldn’t have asked for better service.

Value

We paid $110 for a single shared starter, a salad, four mains, two servings of rice, a single soft drink and corkage at $3 a head. That’s fair value in these inflationary times.

Comfort

This is where things get a little tricky. The layout of the place makes it almost like alfresco dining with the front wide open to the elements. And being a cool autumn eve, I must confess that I was a bit chilly although the hearty fare, a full house, the wine and the company did warm things up for me a bit. I just wonder what happens here in winter, as in its current form I wouldn’t like to be sitting outdoors on a frigid Sydney winters eve. Perhaps it’s closed off, but that would make it rather claustrophobic. In any event, this strikes me more as a summer venue anyway.

The seating is Spartan with small wooden tables and bar stools, making it a tad uncomfortable. Lighting is solid and I was easily able to read the menu. There is a single unisex toilet at the back. It was clean and well provisioned but one toilet is insufficient, so be prepared to wait if it’s busy and that’s awkward, because there’s nowhere to queue unless you want to hang around outside the door and then of course everyone knows what you’re about. So you go back to your table and try again a few minutes later. And perhaps again....! Awkward as I said. Please add another toilet guys.

Location and Parking

Xage is located on busy Crown Street, near the corner of Albion Street. Parking in this part of the world is always a problem, so we decided to take a bus, which worked out well as it’s a pleasant 15 minute stroll from the closest Oxford Street bus stop.

Summary

I’d be happy to go again. But not in winter.

Memo

If it’s a chilly night, take a jumper!

Welcome to Xage Surry Hills Interior before it filled up Sat night at Xage


Mar 15, 2014

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Moo Gourmet Burgers, Crows Nest

Restaurants, Burger, Family Dining, BYO, Child Friendly

Overall 7.6  11

7.8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  7      Service  8      Value  8     


Three of us dined midweek and we had a pleasant evening. We arrived at around 6.45pm and the place was fairly empty so it was easy enough to get a table. There’s an inside and an outside section. Being a balmy autumn eve we decided to sit outside; thankfully there were no smokers nearby so that proved to be the right decision as it was cool with a light breeze blowing. Perfect conditions for al fresco dining.

Moo is one of a chain of so-called gourmet or boutique burger bars that have sprung up in recent years, the other popular one being Grill’d. There isn’t much to choose between the two.

Ordering is fairly painless. You simply go up to the counter, say your piece, pay your money, take your drinks and you’ll get a number to plonk on your table. Within a few mins your meals will be delivered to the table. Our young order-taker cum food deliverer was pleasant and helpful.

We ordered three burgers, a serve of chips and a salad. The serving of chips and the salad were both generous. Burgers were fresh and tasty and the meat was well cooked to perfection just the way I like it. The crunchy, hand cut chips and the nutritious salad made the perfect complement to the burgers. So overall, everyone enjoyed their meals.

The outside furniture is fairly Spartan, just wooden tables and low stools rather precariously placed at the edge of a raised section of the pavement. So be careful not to push your stool backwards or you could go flying and end up as another hospital statistic. Inside, the decor is faux shabby chic with plain wooden furniture and retro couches for seating. But it works well to create a homely and relaxed atmosphere. At no time that we were there did the place get very full.

Toilets are right at the back. They’re signposted and clean but no hand towels or even a hand dryer so that’s a serious oversight! The menu is clearly laid out and easy to read.

With our 25% Ent Book voucher (up to max $30) we paid a modest $50 for our meals plus a single VB. Even without the voucher, this is reasonable value in these inflationary times so I’m sure that we’ll be back with next year’s voucher.

You’ll find easy parking at the nearby council car park off Holtermann Street, where the first two hours are free.

Mar 14, 2014

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Restaurants, Modern Australian, Has Cafe, Serves Breakfast, Serves Dinner

Overall 6.7  10

7.5 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  8      Service  6      Value  8     


Three of us lunched here on a Thursday afternoon. The ambience was lively and busy, the place being at least ¾ full, a bit of a surprise for a midweek. We ordered a few sandwiches, drinks and coffees and all the food was fresh and tasty and nicely presented in stylish crockery. This is a modern, trendy cafe with masses of paraphernalia on the wall, rustic wooden tables and attractive, youthful waitresses, all neatly turned out in smart black outfits.

It’s a tad noisy when it’s so full and we struggled to converse, which did spoil the experience for us a bit. Service was friendly and polite but slow. Toilets are like ones you would find on a construction site: hard to find, buried deep in the bowels of the buildings, with prefab walls. The walk takes you past the kitchen and storage areas. It’s like something I imagine you might have seen at the Sochi Olympics. Comm’n guys, surely you can improve on this?

Feb 27, 2014

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Restaurants, Japanese, Family Dining, Good For Groups, BYO

Overall 7.1  35

7.5 Recommended

Food  6      Ambience  7      Service  8      Value  9     


Booking

We dined midweek. Although we had taken the precaution of booking ahead, it wasn’t necessary as the place was pretty empty; just a smattering of other diners in a large restaurant. Somehow I doubt that this place ever gets full, it’s on the top (food court) level of the Mandarin Centre, and so there are plenty of other dining choices nearby.

Food

The food was fresh, reasonably tasty and served in generous portions. But somehow it didn’t inspire. The first entree we had was the edamame ($5). They were just green beans, but difficult to eat, as you had to first extract them from the skins. I tried to eat the skin and ended up almost choking. We’ve had this dish at other Japanese restaurants and it’s never tasted quite this bad. Our other entrees - gyoza dumplings ($7) and octopus ($8) - were acceptable without being anything to rave about. For mains we had the chicken katsu ($16), the salmon teriyaki ($17) and the beef teriyaki ($15). I found the chicken a little dry and the beef stringy although the salmon was tender and well cooked. Each dish came with a small accompaniment of mashed potato and fresh garden salad, and was brought to the table in stylish, modern crockery.

Ambience

Although it was fairly empty, I still enjoyed the old world, laid back elegance of the place. Decor is fairly Spartan with grey carpets, standard wood and tubular steel furniture and Japanese wall hangings, but it works well to create a homely and relaxed ambience.

Service

Service was pretty much flawless. Orders were quickly taken and dishes came out promptly and in the right order. Our waitress was friendly and polite.

Value

We paid $88 for the three starters, three mains with rice all round, a single beer and single juice. That’s pretty solid value in my book.

Comfort

This is the kind of restaurant that I love to eat at. It’s carpeted, large and airy and tables are well spaced out. So it’s all very comfy and we had the perfect table at the window with a view onto the street outside. Acoustics are perfect and the table was large enough to fit all the dishes. Menu is extensive but easy to read in the strong lighting. Being in the shopping centre, toilets are clearly signposted and well provisioned.

Summary

We had a pleasant enough eve here. Everything went off smoothly: Toraya is easy to find and parking at the Mandarin Centre is free for three hours. Atmosphere is relaxed, service is fast, there’s a large selection of dishes and prices are reasonable. Food was a tad disappointing though and there weren’t many other diners. So somehow, there’s not much to entice one to go back for a return visit.

Memo

Don’t forget to take your validated restaurant receipt to the parking machines to get your three hours free parking.

Refreshing Asahi Dry Empty restaurant midweek Edemame Octopus salad Dumplings Beef teriyaki Salmon teriyaki
Rice Chicken katsu Menu outside Toraya in the Mandarin Centre Toraya in the Mandarin Centre


Feb 27, 2014

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Red Spoon Thai, Gladesville

Restaurants, Thai, BYO, Food Delivery, Serves Dinner

Overall 7.3  92

8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  8      Service  8      Value  8     


Booking

This seems like a reasonably popular place although it is a bit deceptive as most guests tend to sit near the front to be close to the open door and the fresh summer breezes. So when you initially walk in you may think it’s full but take a closer look and you’ll notice plenty of empty tables at the back. It’s a bit gloomy down that end so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s not the first choice for most diners. We took the precaution of booking ahead for a Saturday night and ended up with a suitable table at the front.

Food

The food here is standard Thai with a wide selection of the dishes, pretty much something for everyone, vegetarians included. An interesting twist is the addition of Indian-style roti bread with some of the dishes. Everything was fresh and tasty and served in adequate portions. Our fish cake starters were firm and smooth; the perfect way to start the meal. For my main I went for the yellow chicken curry which came with green vegetables and a generous serving of roti bread. The chicken was tender and succulent and cut up into finely sliced pieces. Everyone enjoyed their meals.

Ambience

The ambience is casual and relaxed with the front door flung wide open to the street allowing the cool breezes to blow through. Just what you need on a hot summers night. Decor is fairly basic with wooden furniture and a darkish interior, which gets darker the further inside you go. Personally I wouldn’t like to sit too far inside.

Service

Service was everything we’ve come to expect from an efficient and professionally run Thai restaurant: polite, helpful and quick. The wait staff are exceedingly pleasant and friendly and we were asked on at least two occasions whether we were satisfied with our meals.

Value

With our Ent Book discount of 25% (up to a max $35) we paid a reasonable $115 for five people, and that included corkage at $3 a person. Certainly can’t complain about that.

Comfort

Tables are large and comfortable and easily able to fit all the dishes. Menu is a bit worn; maybe time for a new print run guys! The toilets are right at the back, but they’re clean, clearly marked and well stocked.


Location and Parking

You’ll find Red Spoon on busy Vic Road, near the corner of Linsley Street. There’s ample free parking in the car park in front of the nearby Gladesville RSL Club, also on Linsley Street.

Summary

This represents excellent value with your Ent Book voucher.

Jan 28, 2014

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Kokoroya, Maroubra

Restaurants, Japanese, Family Dining, BYO, Child Friendly

Overall 7.3  31

8 Recommended

Food  9      Ambience  8      Service  8      Value  7     


Booking

Three of us dined on a Friday eve in early January. We took the precaution of booking a table a few hours before, which was the prudent thing to do as the place was about 80% full when we arrived. I noticed that they have seating for diners who are prepared to sit and wait for table. That’s a testament to the popularity of this place, but my advice though is to book ahead so as to avoid the wait.

Service

This is a kind of self-service restaurant, in that each table has a tablet computer which has the menu on it and which you use to send off your order. I liked the fact that you can click on a dish and the info on that dish will appear, as well as the price, of course. I also liked the fact that the accumulated cost is there for you to see, so no big surprises when you get the bill. What I didn’t like though is that orders can’t be accumulated. They’re sent off one at a time, which we didn’t realise at first.

So the idea is to first do your drinks order, and wait for that to come. Then order all your entrees at the same time, then all your mains. That way it’ll all arrive in the correct order and you won’t find yourself gulping down your entrees so as not to let your mains get cold. We had each dish brought out piecemeal which was a bit disjointed until we summoned a waiter and told him to hold the mains until we’d finished our entrees. Best then to bring some paper and a pen and plan your ordering. But once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s a breeze and dishes are brought out quickly by smiling, friendly and polite wait staff.

Food

The food here is the real winner. All dishes were fresh and tasty and served in generous portions. We shared a mixed selection amongst the three of us including a seaweed salad ($13), a “Goma-AE” ($9) which is an asparagus and bean salad mix, a chicken namban ($19) - pan-fried chicken in sweet and sour sauce with a mixed salad - a salmon teriyaki ($23), boiled rice and miso soup. My chicken was well cooked to a crispy perfection just the way I like it, and gently flavoured with a delicate sweet and sour sauce. The crunchy mixed salad was the perfect accompaniment. The salmon was tender and succulent. We finished with a delicious green tea ice cream ($7), one of the best I’ve had lately. It was just the right moderate sweetness with a refreshing dollop of cream on the top.

Ambience

The style and layout are fairly basic with a wooden floor and wooden chairs and tables, some communal bench-type seating as well. But it works to create a casual, yet homely and welcoming atmosphere and the large glass windows give you a view onto busy Anzac Parade outside.

Comfort

Tables are large enough to fit all the dishes. Noise levels, despite the crowds are acceptable and we were easily able to converse. But that was probably due to the decorum of our fellow diners, mostly well behaved small groups or families. Toilets are at the back and you’ll need to grab a key and exit the restaurant (but stay within the building) to access them. The doors and handles are filthy although the toilets themselves are reasonably clean and well provisioned. The tablet menu is well designed and easy to follow.

Value

We paid $83 for a single beer, an entree, a salad, two mains, miso soup, a single serve of rice and a single green tea ice cream. That’s about mid-range in my book; not the cheapest Japanese restaurant around, but worth it I thought, due to the excellent food and service.

Location and parking

You’ll find Kokoroya conveniently located near the Bowen Library on Anzac Parade. Not many other restaurants in this immediate area. There’s ample free parking in the council car parks across the road. Just be wary that Anzac Parade is a busy speedway and there are no lights or pedestrian crossings in this part. If you want to avoid this danger, turn left into Shepherd Street if you’re heading up Anzac Parade. There’s you’ll also find plenty of free parking spaces and there’ll be no need to cross Anzac Speedway.

Summary

We all enjoyed our evening here and are looking forward to going back. Everything worked well for us from the food, the casual and relaxed ambience, friendly service and last but by no means least in this overcrowded city, the easy parking nearby.

Memo

Plan your ordering before hitting the button. Once you’ve hit the button on a particular dish or drink, it will quickly be at your table. So space it out. That way, you’ll have time to catch your breath between courses.

Jan 11, 2014

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