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Food reviews

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Trattoria La Vigna

Today was my first time at Camden which is in South West of Sydney (past Campbelltown), we saw some farms and country scenic views on our way.

The atmosphere of this restaurant was lovely. The restaurant has an overlooking vineyard. I knew it was going to be a special, memorable lunch already 🙂

I haven’t made pasta in the last few weeks, so I was pretty excited to try some authentic Italian food. We were welcomed by a friendly staff with a very strong Italian accent, almost made us feel like we were in Italy!

The garlic prawns we tried for entrée were delicious, and prawns were cooked well. It was nice to have some tomatoes in there (the only vegetable in our meal). The olive oil was great for dipping the bread.

Gamberi all ‘aglio- Garlic Prawns ($20)

However, I was slightly disappointed with the mains. The gnocchi I tried was swimming in a plate of creamy pesto. Don’t get me wrong; I love basil pesto. But there was just too much of it. It kind of makes reminded me of the old saying of ‘less is more’.

Gnocchi Gamberi e Pesto –Gnocchi prawns and pesto ($27)

Ravioli di mare  – Seafood ravioli ($29)

Similar case with crab ravioli, there was too much of the rich heavy sauce (as you can tell from the pictures). But other than that, it was delicious. There was good flavour balance in the pasta itself. I would’ve enjoyed it far more with a dash of sauce, rather than what they provided.

To end on a good note, we had their tiramisu for dessert. It was so very delicious. We weren’t able to finish it as the portion was large but left feeling very satisfied.

Tiramisu ($13)

Overall, I had a wonderful time coming out to the country and loved the Italian vibes of this place. The staff were pretty friendly and attentive. In terms of price, it is more on the expensive side, but great for special occasion celebrations like we did today.

Trattoria La Vigna
3 Argyle Street, Camden
NSW 2570
http://trattorialavigna.com/

Parramatta Lanes


I heard a lot about Parra Lanes last year so I thought I’d make a time to see out this year. At first, we had a lot of trouble finding out where we needed to go. I’ve heard Parra Lane gets spread across over multiple stations to distribute the crowd. However, the problem was that the places aren’t always easy to find. After walking around for some time, we managed to get hold of a map from a security staff.

My main reason for coming was to try some knafeh; I’ve heard so much about this dessert from people who came last year. But we realised this particular shop was furthest out from our location.

First stop was Koi Dessert Bar but there as a long line. While waiting in line, I decided to try the strawberry watermelon gelato from N2. I’ve always been a huge admirer of the strawberry watermelon cake from Black Star Pastry. I thought it’d be an interesting combo to have it in a gelato form. It surely was, I quite liked the gelato cake, it had a very strong flavour of the original. It felt very light to be eating it, much like the cake. The pistachios and rose petals added further reminders to the original cake. But one thing I really hated was the syringe; I’m so glad I squeezed a little bit on one side of the gelato to try it first because I did not find it palatable. It completely ruins the taste of the gelato!
Black Star Pastry’s famous strawberry and watermelon cake smashed with vanilla gelato ($8)
SWC Smash ($8)

By the time we finished eating the gelato, we had gotten closer to our line with Koi. As usual, this place has too many beautiful divine looking desserts so it’s always hard to make up your mind, plus you all know how indecisive I am when it comes to ordering food! I ended up trying a new flavour called Berry cheesecake. It was absolutely beautiful; I loved the cheesecake part of it. It was so soft and just melts in your mouth. The middle of the cheesecake had a berry sauce filling which I did not like. I felt it ruined the flavour of the cheesecake. Thankfully there wasn’t too much of it for me to hate this dessert. Another thing I did like was a biscuit base at the bottom. I found this hard to break and eat.

Berry cheesecake ($9)
We continued exploring for a little while until we walked past a pretty donut place. They had some nice looking donuts. We tried their Golden Gaytime, but it was awful. There was barely any flavour from the original ice cream; it was dry to eat, and the outside coating was too sugary. There was nothing good about this donut.
Gaytime filled donut ($5)
We knew our last food going be knafeh so we followed the map closely and found it close to the Emporium Cafe. However, there was a ridiculously long line. The vibe was very different on this end with loud music, bearded men singing and dancing while making knafehs. It was enjoyable for the first few mins, but soon the waiting got boring. At one point, I even regretted ordering the knafeh. Finally, after a long wait, we received our knafeh.
It tasted nice, but it wasn’t anything special. Nothing stood out to me in terms of flavour; it tasted a bit like a pudding. Sad to say, I was very disappointed with this dessert, I don’t understand what the hype is about? I reckon I could have made a similar dessert at home. So it must be the singing/ dancing that’s making this place popular than it should be?!
  
Knafeh ($8)
Overall, I really enjoyed coming here and seeing the transformations Parra has undergone for this event (see pictures below).

My fav 🙂

Deux Bar + Kitchen


We came here based on a friend’s recommendation who liked one of their desserts. I could feel the funky hipster vibes as we entered. We were not hungry as it was early in the afternoon; we decided to go with a light snack.

The menu we got handed out was very short. I remember I had seen a broader range online, but I realised later that their menu is time specific (ours was 4-6pm). We decided to try the battered chickpea eggplant and chicken crackling.

The chickpea battered eggplant was probably a better deal. It had a very strong eggplant flavour. It tasted pretty good, but nothing stood out in terms of flavour.  I really enjoyed the smoked chilli mayo though (helped me eat the food).

I was quite disappointed with the amount served for chicken crackling and felt it was overpriced. The raw kingfish tasted quite nice but very salty! I’m not big on raw seafood (except for salmon), but this was prepared well with smoked eggplant, caper and togarashi.

Overall, Deux café was a bit of letdown and did not live up to my expectations. I probably wouldn’t return here unless it were to try a different menu (lunch or dinner).

Chickpea battered eggplant $12

Chicken crackling $14

Deux Bar + Kitchen
98-104 Parramatta Road
Camperdown
NSW 2050

El-Phoenician Restaurant

My homie just got back to Sydney so we caught up for dinner! We haven’t had middle eastern food together so we decided to go with Lebanese cuisine.

It was pretty light because we went on a weeknight. As usual, we took a very long time to decide what we wanted to eat. The staff kept rushing us asking if we had made up our mind. We did not like this one bit because we always take our time to order, and we felt it was unnecessary to pressure us into ordering because the restaurant was almost empty!
 
Eggplant dip was the best; it was smooth, soft and creamy. It was my favourite. I could literally eat this every meal; eggplants are one of my favourite vegetables (yes, I have too many favs when it comes to veggies!)
Hummus and Lamb was an average dish. It didn’t really stand out to me; I didn’t hate it, nor did I love it. It turned out to be our least eaten dish from the night, and it’s one dish we wish we didn’t order.

Mixed platter was pretty good, seasoned well – the lamb was quite tender though I personally preferred the chicken strips.

Salad and Pickled olives-  this was an excellent choice because it added more veggies on our plate. We loved the variety in this. My favourites were the radish and pickled turnips.

Halloumi stacks-  we loved it, it’s one of those things that I hate the saltiness of but enjoy the taste at the same time.

Tabbouleh- this has been one of my favourite Lebanese dishes for a while. It was fresh and seasoned well. I really enjoyed it. I probably could’ve eaten more of this, but I was trying not to fill up (so I could save space for dessert).

Overall, we had a great time; we would’ve liked it more if the service had been a tad friendlier. But other than that, we enjoyed the food. We would definitely order less next time.

Grilled haloumi stack: Served with mesculine salad, tomato and a balsamic reduction $18

Chick Pea (Homous): A puree of chick peas blended with tahina and lemon juice with lamb  $19

Eggplant (Baba Ganouje): Smoky chargrilled eggplant blended with tahina and lemon juice $13

Mixed marinated pickles (Kabees): A plate of kalamata olives, pickled cucumbers, turnips, and whole chilies $17

Tabouli: Parsley, tomato, shallot, crushed wheat and mint mixed with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil $17

Combination (Shawarma): Chicken and lamb. Served with mixed pickles, tahina, chilli and garlic $30

Same as above, from a different angle 🙂

Dinner minus the shawarma

El-Phoenician Restaurant
328 Church Street, Parramatta
NSW 2150 
http://www.el-phoenician.com.au/

The Vogue Cafe

I’ve been thinking about going here for a while now but somehow never end up going because Macquarie is far and out of my way. I’ve seen so many Instagram posts displaying their ever so fine looking drinks which always gets me drooling!

I took my time to pick a drink, trying to choose between Nutella, peanut butter and Oreo. I decided to go with Nutella as a safe choice because Nutella is one of those things you can’t go wrong with.

The veggie AF dish looked great but I was slightly disappointed after I tasted. The dish had multiple ingredients- falafel, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, rocket, Spanish onion, cashews, quinoa, poached egg, garnished with mint, lemon and olive oil.
The combination of quinoa, cashew, rocket and falafel wasn’t as satisfying as I was expecting it’d be. It wasn’t bad, but at the same time, it did not stand out to me. I found the falafel flavours a little dull; it wasn’t as authentic as the Lebanese ones. 
Veggie AF ($17)

The salmon slice looked stunning. I enjoyed it because anything that has salmon and avo are my all-time fav combo 🙂

Salmon Slice ($16)
 
Chips with aioli and tomato sauce ($7)

I finished eating early so I have space for my gorgeous Nutella milkshake. It was very chocolatey and oh-so-delicious. Maybe I enjoyed it even more because I haven’t had Nutella in months! It was such a beautiful, satisfying dessert. I munched through most of the cone but left out the snakes (not a fan of party snakes). I left the macadamias in the drink till the end which allowed me to end my meal on a happy, nutty note!

The infamous Nutella milkshake ($9)
Nutella milkshake + Ginger beer
Ginger beer ($7)
Rustic chair vibes in the background!

Flatlay of everything 🙂

Overall, we loved our visit to this lovely rustic cafe. The staff were extremely friendly which is always nice 🙂 the drinks are a little overpriced but it’s still worth it. I’d definitely come back if I’m ever in the area again, perhaps for another fancy drink!

The Vogue Cafe
Level 2, Macquarie Centre
109 Waterloo Road
Macquarie Park
NSW 2113

Lindt Chocolate Cafe

I’ve wanted to try Lindt for a very long time. I’ve made plans of coming here but somehow got turned off. I was really excited when I entered and being surrounded by all the chocolate felt pretty amazing. It took me some time to decide what I wanted (I think you all know about my indecisiveness by now). 
We ended up ordering a lava cake and waffles. In the meantime, I looked around and ate with my eyes 😛
Sad to say, I was quite disappointed because the flavours were heavy, even for a chocolate lover like me. The ice cream was great, but there wasn’t enough ice cream to balance the intense flavours from the lava cake. I think I would’ve liked it more if there were less cake and more ice cream. 
Chocolate Lava Cake ($12)

The waffles were a let down as they were ordinary and did not come with any fruit either. We were not happy with this as most places offer same waffles, including fresh fruits at a better price!

Waffles with ice cream ($15)

Overall, we had a pretty good time but not as impressed as we thought we would have been. If I were to come back again, I certainly wouldn’t order what we got today. The good news is that they’ve still got plenty of other things I’d like to try.

Lindt Chocolate Cafe
Shop 104 -105, Cockle Bay Wharf, Cockle Bay NSW 2000

Pizza Design Co.

Presenting the deep fried Mars bar with ice cream *drum rolls * 
Deep fried Mars bar with ice cream ($9)
I know what you’re thinking, it doesn’t look that great?! I must say I was initially skeptical to the combo because I’m not fond of Mars bars (couldn’t remember the last time I had a Mars bar), and I don’t like deep fried foods either. 
And then, I reluctantly had my first bite…
I was surprised at how good it tasted! I know the picture doesn’t look as appealing, but it was very delicious!
The outside layer was crispy, and the inside was soft and chewy. It just melts in your mouth with the ice cream. It’s the kind of dessert you could have during summer and winter- because it was hot and cold at the same time! 
I’d come back here for this again, and also to try a custom made pizza, I’ve heard they’re very yum as well. 

Khaybar Restaurant

Two of my friends recommended this place, it was my first time trying Afghan cuisine so I was quite excited. I was told they have really nice eggplant and meat dishes.

There weren’t many people as we went on a weeknight but I have heard that they are really busy and often hard to get a table.

We started with their famous eggplant dip. The ‘Buranee-Badenjan’ came with large naan bread. The dip was rich in flavour but it was just too oily. I did not expect there would be this much floating oil. The bread tasted quite nice with the dip but it was hard to tear and manage. We would’ve liked if it had been cut in smaller pieces.

Buranee-Badenjan as an entree ($6.90)

For mains, two of us ordered the ‘Qaboli Pallaw’ (one chicken and one lamb shank). The chicken was soft and cooked well. The rice was topped with carrots, raisins and pistachios. I enjoyed the combination of sweet and savoury in this dish.

Qaboli Pallaw Chicken ($14.95) 

Buranee-Badenjan as a main ($19.95)
Qaboli Pallaw Lamb ($16.95)

Overall, we had a great time. Unfortunately we ended up wasting a lot of food (mainly rice and bread) as their carb portions were huge! I probably wouldn’t travel all the way to eat here but I would definitely come by if I am in the area again.

Khaybar Restaurant
64 Auburn Road
Auburn, NSW 
http://www.khaybarrestaurant.com.au

The Emporium

This cafe has a great welcoming atmosphere with options to dine in or outside. We went on a weekday so it wasn’t that busy.

I wasn’t that hungry so I ordered a side. It was filled with Dutch, purple and orange carrots with Harissa dressing. It was great in the beginning but after a while, it got boring. It would’ve been better if they had one or two other veggies (rather than just carrots).

Roasted Dutch carrots, cashew dukkah, harissa dressing $9

Chocolate cremeux, honeycomb ice cream, chocolate soil, dulce de leche, espresso gel $16

The dessert however, was delicious. It had lots of crunch, texture and flavour. There was lots of bits and pieces like bread, chocolate, ice cream etc. The amount was good in terms of portion control.
Yes, I know the photo doesn’t look as appealing as the lighting was poor but it looked way much better in person.

Kensington Street, Chippendale (Hong Kong Diner + Koi Dessert Bar)

I caught up with an old friend today. We were in the Central area so ended up going to Kensington Street again. If you’ve read the previous blog, you’d know I only just went there last Friday. I knew there was a lot more left to explore but I didn’t think I’d return so soon.


We walked around Spice Alley and picked Hong Kong Diner. We ordered a prawn dumplings and fried calamari. It was very busy as it was peak hour and getting a table was a bit of a struggle.

Finally, we settled down and started on our food. I was really excited to dig into my calamari because I rarely eat fried foods or calamari. However, my excitement faded after I took the first few bites. It was too salty. I know the description says salt and pepper calamari but I didn’t think it’d be splashed with salt like this! Then I figured it would be less saltier if we soaked the calamari with tissues. It was much better after wiping with tissues as this wiped some of the salt and excess oil.

Salt and pepper calamari dim sum ($10)
The dumpling was delicious, no complaints there. The inside filling was chives and prawn and it wasn’t salty at all so I felt it complemented well with the other dish.
Prawn and chive dumpling dim sum ($7.5)
We were satisfied but were left with a very salty tongue so we decided to get dessert. We went to Koi again. I was looking to get one I didn’t get last week.


This Nomtella looked gorgeous with glittered hazelnuts sitting at the top. The middle layer was soft and had a beautiful texture. It was a good balance of chocolate and espresso. The base however, was too chocolatey and heavy. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’m not a huge fan of dark chocolate.

Overall, I enjoyed it even though I may have exceeded my sodium levels. Even if I did, it doesn’t matter because today is International No Diet Day (INDD). It’s an annual celebration of body acceptance and body shape diversity. It’s also about having a happy healthy relationship with food, which means you should be able to eat whatever you want, in moderation.

Anyway, I’ll end here for now. Have a good weekend everyone!


Nomtella ($9)