Sunday, 1 March 2015

Green Peppercorn, Sydney CBD

Hello my dear readers :)

I usually have a system whereby I blog about restaurants in order of date visited, as I find it easier to keep track of all my adventures. Once in a while however, a restaurant will completely blow my mind thus warranting a priority post which is exactly what happened two nights ago.

Once upon a super chilled Friday night, I had dinner with Tams at Green Peppercorn, a Thai Restaurant located in Civic Hotel on Pitt Street, opposite World Square, Central side.  Reason for the specifics is that I remember a few weeks ago after work, I went to check out their Monday Special- $1 Pad Thai between 5-7pm, which came little white boxes! I ended up ordering 10 of to bring home to my family!  Anyway, I ended up getting a little lost looking for it, eventually realising that I had to enter via the Pitt Street side and go up a flight of stairs.  

I happily climbed those stairs again and finally I arrived for a much awaited sit down dinner!! You see, I had been perving on a lot of their delicious looking eats online and I was suuuper excited to try everything!!  

I actually got there early, so after asking for did a bit of exploring around the restaurant and ended up in the bar area which was seriously funky and rustic- there were potted plants, fairy lights, barrels, chilled music and in particular I was fascinated by what I believe was a cute samlor-  a cycle rickshaw!  

I remember when I went to Bangkok, Thailand a few years ago, I saw these on the streets, but more commonly I saw Tuk Tuk's (pronounced "took-took"), which are auto rickshaws.  I actually sat it in a Tuk Tuk- it was decorated with rainbow streamers, gold tinsel and I vividly remember large bells hanging off the mirror, jingling happily like our driver! It was such a fun experience :D

Earlier, I had requested a certain type of table and the super helpful gentleman managing seats assured me that he would find one! Within 10-15minutes he brought me to what was the best table I could have hoped for! It was breezy, spacious aaaand secluded.  My favourite.  Funny thing is, all night, Tams and I were trying to figure out where the breeze was coming from and though we had many hypothesis' , we are yet to solve that mystery haha.

I was perusing the menus and was quite amazed at their variety of DESSERTS!!! Haha okay their savoury too but holy macaroni their DESSERTS!!!! Here, you can see for yourself!

Riiight? They even have sundaes!!! I was already concocting plans to come try them on a different occasion...heh.

Something I have noticed more recently, is that after a long hectic week at work, I really appreciate a delicious meal and just chilling out, and I love doing that with Tams! :D I was zoning out when Sarah, the wife of one of the owners of Green Peppercorn,  decided to tempt me  with this beautiful but evil hunk of crispy pork. Okay back story...

So while I was chilling at the bar, I met Sarah and she was recommending dishes and she was like Elena, you HAVE to try the Crispy Pork Knuckle, it is amazing, so on and so forth to which I replied mmmmmm my friend is a vegetarian. She was like have it on your own! Hahahah I seriously contemplated it but decided I wanted to stick with Vegetarian, but surely pocketing a little reminder to come back and try the pork knuckle another time...:P

Soon after, Tams arrived and we got cracking on our choices for the evening!

First up, we got cococoococoonut cocktails! This peculiar coconut was like hey gais, weddep, I'm totes filled with delicious coconut juice, Malibu, pineapple juice and lychee...mmmmm I'm just chillin.  

Then our dishes pretty much came out all at once :O

First there was the Pad Kapao, a Chilli Basil and Garlic Vegetable stir fry! The sauce was super tasty, love basil, and the veggies were nicely cooked, with broccoli, carrots and beans still in tact and crunchy!  We also got the dish spicy as we did all of our dishes!

This was the Nem Khao, a Crunchy Rice Salad mixed with shallots, chilli, kaffir lime leaves, peanuts and mint leaves chilling out in ice berg lettuce cups! This was so awesome- there were chunks of crispy rice scattered throughout the delicious mix, the kaffir lime leaves gave it a delicious aroma and the whole dish was just so damn tasty! I squeezed lemon over it which made it even more flavoursome! This was definitely my favourite savoury dish of the evening :9

What is this you ask? This was the Soop Ma Pi, a very special Banana Flower Salad that is essentially thinly sliced banana flower tossed with crispy chicken, spices, coconut cream, shallots and cashews!  I have noticed that it is only sold at some Thai Restaurants, the more authentic/native ones in my opinion!  It is one of my favourite Thai dishes, and I always order if I see it on the menu.  This one was typically very yummy- not the best that I have had, as I like the salad to be more gluggy,  saucy with all the shreds stuck together, but it was still very yummy! I particularly loved the copious amount of crispy chicken slices (hidden admist the heap of banana flower)- kinda salty, peppery and super tasty! 

We also got a Vegetable Pad Thai,  which I can't seem to find the photo of....but I assure you, it was a solid Pad Thai- the noodles were nice and bouncy and the flavour was very authentic! Tam's really liked it!

Tams enjoying a sip of her super cool coconut! :9

After eating and feeling super stuffed from our mains..we decided to wait a while and digest before ordering desserts.  So when the moon rose, and the horrendous waves of fullness ceased we whipped out the dessert menus we had carefully stashed away, and made our choices.   Let me just say, it was not easy as there were so many choices, however, I definitely wanted to get the Deep Fried Apple Pie, yes FRIED APPLE PIE, and after much contemplating, decided to get the Pandan Waffles for our second dessert! It was so exciting!!!!!

The Deep Fried Apple pie came first, chillin in a sea of apple custard and topped with  a hefty scoop of coconut ice cream which was then topped with three caramelised apple crisps. Yep those crisps were delicious.

I have always loved apple pie but with ice-cream, there's just something about warm pie crust...warm filling...contrasting the cold ice-cream.  

Green Peppercorn's version didn't have the usual thick biscuity crust but a pastry crust instead, in fact, it reminded us of the apple pie at maccas, but with deliciousness x 10.

My dear readers, imagine this- super light, crispy and flakey pie stuffed with oozy warm cinnamon, apple and raisin filling that is deep fried so that it has this amazing it was kinda like a toasty, lightly burnt/caramelised aroma which we concluded must be the result of the apple pie being fried!  

For me, ice-cream is really important, like I hate that icy/cheapo ice cream that some places use! Here, the coconut ice-cream creamy and fragrant and what I did was do the three tier combo- I spooned from the ice-cream down to the custard haha and it was epic.

Definitely my favourite dessert of the evening, in fact it has just joined my top ten desserts list!

Then came our second dessert, the Pandan Waffles topped with pandan sauce and caramelised coconut granola.  There was also a side of vanilla ice-cream and for good measure, I asked for a side of coconut granola, reason being that I had tried these before at a different Thai restaurant and they were darn delicious :9

When we dug into the waffles, we felt a bit confused as they were very soft, I mean we were just cutting into them super easily with our spoons! I would say they tasted more like...a dense pandan chiffon cake.  I would have preferred a crispier waffle, but that's just me!  Everything else about the dish was awesome though, the coconut granola was exactly as expected and as we piled our spoons with waffle, coconut granola and vanilla ice-cream, we were like yuuuuuuurrrmoos, come hither another spoonful of yuuuumooos.

Tams actually wasn't too keen on pandan from past experience, so when I suggested this dish she was hesitant, and I was going to get something else but she wanted to give pandan another chance, so we ordered it...aaaand she said she liked it!


All in all, it was such a beautiful meal, Tam and I even had that AHA! moment when we were eating- that moment when we try a new restaurant's food and simultaneously realise the food is AWESOME! There is only one other restaurant that we felt that way about :)

I just want so say a special thank you to Sarah and for the excellent service from the staff! I will be back for that pork knuckle aannd everything else haha!  We happily rolled out of the restaurant and went for a lovely walk around the harbour...I love night life!

Green Peppercorn on Urbanspoon

Yours truly and appreciatively,

Craving Spoonfuls of Wanderlust...

Monday, 23 February 2015

Belly Bao, Liverpool Street CBD

Once upon a belly beautiful night, Jessie and I found ourselves at the newly opened Belly Bao located in GOODGOD Small Club on Liverpool street of Sydney CBD!! I had been trying to try this place but whenever I went, it was closed, so take heed, it only opens Wednesday-Saturday nights! I think the universe was telling me to go with Jessie, at this precise moment, so we could share one of the most wondrous dessert moments of all time.  But more on that later :P

I had a bit of a internal struggle appreciating Belly Bao when I first heard about its opening because it used to be home of The Dip which I absolutely loved...especially those pulled pork nachos :9 Buuut I decided to give it a chance afterall I had been perving on their delicious foods, not to mention the affiliation of the name of the restaurant to my blog name muahaaha!

I remember now, that The Dip closed down because the owners had a child and needed some time off, I was super sad, but it was a very sweet and sound reason :)

The menu was short and sweet with all the essentials. Crackling roast pork belly check! Soft shell crab check! Beef short rib check! Sweet potato chips check! Yay!

First that came out waaaas the Soft Shell Crab Bao (bun)! be honest this sounded really good on paper, but when we tried it, we weren't impressed.  It was kinda...bland.  

Then came the other three baos we ordered, Panko Crumbed Chicken Breast Bao, Crackling Roast Pork Belly Bao and Slow Braised Beef Short Rib Bao.

We enjoyed these a lot more and I think we agreed that the favourite was the crumbed chicken!  There was something about the combo of crunchy chicken, spicy sweet mayo, salad and that soft fluffy white bun that meshed really well together.  The pork belly was a close second :9

Then came our sides, the first being the Sweet Potato Fries!! I seriously love sweet potato fries, they are so satisfying to eat and these were no exception! They were super crispy with fluffy innards and topped with spicy aioli slathered all over them.  God they were good! :9 

Next was the Papaya Salad that Jessie said was really good.  Verdict? Awesome.  So fresh and tasty, with those delicious sesame crackers on the side that I didn't really know what to do with so ended up cracking into small pieces and topping with the salad.  It actually didn't taste like your usual papaya salad from Thai Restaurants though, the coriander and mint flavour here were dominant, so it kinda tasted like a Thai beef salad (w/o beef) + papaya. Like a morph.

Our order of Belly Bao Crunchy Chicken (half) was this massive plate of at least 5 super crispy and delicious chicken pieces.  they were fresh, earth shatteringly crunchy and juicy! We got the original, but  also ordered a separate side of their sticky sauce to add to the chicken for variety!

Can you see that pretty shiny glimmer to my chicken? :D

Then before we even finished eating our chicken, they brought out our dessert which was a bit weird cause Jessie did say after we finished eating? I hope they don't do that again, cause it was a bit awkward having to stop eating our chicken midway to eat the dessert as it was melting! I must say it was funny though cause after we finished dessert, we went back to eating chicken muahaha.

Anyway, DESSERT TIME! Oh my god. Baonana Split, you were amazing. Imagine crispy fried bao, like you know those mantous and condensed milk that you get from some Chinese restaurants? Yep think that, but filled out with creeeeamy vanilla ice-cream, fresh banana slices enrobed in lashings of melty Nutella and crushed peanuts.  Like I said, amazing, with the most awesome name haha I can't help but laugh everytime I think of it heh.

There was a one piece of chicken and some sweet potato fries left over which I brought home and was devoured by my sister, she was like WHERE did you get that delicious chicken from? 

Thinking back, we ate so much that night, but as per usual and to the amazement of the staff. Okay, here's a short recap, when Jessie went and ordered, the counter guy was't it just the two of you? Haha yeah sure, there's no such thing as too much for us! I love how we get each other :D

So my dear reader, please try Belly Bao! It's a super funky place with delicious food, so delicious that I am organising a party for 20-30 people and this is one of the options- I have a very careful selection process when it comes to organising events, afterall that's a huge responsibility!
I highly recommend getting the crumbed chicken bao, sweet potato fries, crunchy chicken and baonana split!

Belly Bao on Urbanspoon

Yours truly and appreciatively,

Craving Spoonfuls of Wanderlust...

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

My Adventures in New York Part II! :)

Once upon another day in my beloved New York..I continue my belly rumblings in no particular order!

Craving Spoonfuls of Wanderlust...

I think it was one of the mornings edging closer to Christmas Day that I wanted to go to a French restaurant called Balthazar, Lower Manhattan for breakfast!  I actually headed to my destination at around 9am only to arrive much later that anticipated...

ALRIGHT I admit I got distracted at Central Park yet again but I did capture some really cool shots of the crispy leaves in the lake :D

I was attempting to take one of those shots where it looks like I am touching the buildings hahaha my awesome photography skills surprise me too! :P

Eventually I made it to Balthazar, but at like 12pm!  I have to say the restaurant felt magical and just like I had imagined.  There were beautiful fairy lights draped across the ceiling, a warm glow throughout the restaurant.  I felt so warm and fuzzy and so festive!!

It was obviously super popular, because it was packed to the brim but surprisingly they managed to manouvere us onto a table by the window.  Thats proness to the max.

I was really saddened to find that breakfast menu was over.. I had been excited to try their delicious sounding Sour Cream and Hazelnut waffles with warm berries and pastries that I had been perving on their online menu back in Sydney...I was mourning for a very long time...However, made do with the lunch menu which actually looked really good! 

We were given complimentary house made sourdough with a side of creamed butter. The bread was super fresh and still warm and crusty!

As it was a French Restaurant, I wanted to try the Beef Stroganoff with buttered noodles.  I remember my friend made it at a party years ago and have loved it ever since, and I am not into French food usually!

Balthazar's version consisted of large cubes of beef which I found a little tough, but those freshly made buttered noodles were the best, so thick and fresh swimming in a beautiful creamy mushroom sauce albeit salty! I think this one had great noodles, but my friend's version  tasted better overall!

My friend got the Skate, Dried Currants and Roasted Pine Nuts with spiced yoghurt, arugula and herb salad.  Haha I had to google arugula, apparently it is something like rocket leaves. Interesting...anyway this dish was really good too! The Skate (fish) was lightly pan-fried and very tender, topped with pan-fried currants and pine nuts.  The yoghurt was a refreshing touch to the dish and now thinking about it, I feel like when does right, yoghurt can really lift the flavours in a dish and balance out too much saltiness, fattiness or blandness.

Overall, I had a super chilled and fun experience at Balthazar, I will definitely go back for breakfast the next time I am in NY!

Balthazar on Urbanspoon

My next destination was Dominique Ansel Bakery, which is actually home to CRONUT! I didn't realise until researching more about this bakery later when I got home.  Here is a little history I found from their website- 

The Cronut™ brand and product  is a registered trademark of Dominique Ansel Bakery internationally. As it is associated with innovation, we are proud that the Cronut™ brand is affiliated with our bakery and baking philosophy to bring you constant creativity. Please beware of imitation items claiming affiliation with the bakery. 


The love for cronuts is nothing short of crazy back in Sydney so this was really interesting!  What is a little less interesting and more peeving, was that they had run out of cronuts for the day, and it was only around 2pm!! I was feeling very bummed at that point...luckily they had the Frozen S'mores, another dessert I wanted to try! We ordered two of those and two other little cakes. I was feeling really excited at that point...

I was thrilled to find that the s'mores were exactly what I had imagined!!!  My dear reader, just imagine this, a custard ice-cream centre covered with crispy chocolate wafer chips enrobed in frozen marshmallow, then flamed and torched to order.  Yes, it was hot heh. 

I was very pleased.

Mm...Must not forget our second order amidst all that hotness haha.  I got the Mini Chestnut Buche which was an airy nutty sponge cake with a swirly core of chestnut cream, covered with another thick layer of chestnut cream topped with a pretty gold leaf.  I loved chestnuts with passion.  Whenever I see any dessert with chestnut on the menu I always get it.  There's something about chestnuts in dessert even savoury foods that gets me, like the flavour is subtle yet consistently fragrant that its always very tolerable :9 Just like at Savoy, you know how everyone loves their taro cake? I always go chestnut- haha yes I know I get a lot of hate :P

Dominique Ansel Bakery on Urbanspoon


On a different night, like I said before, my belly rumblings in no matter particular order, I caught up with some friends from Sydney who were also in New York!  We planned to visit The Spotted Pig, a pub that had been recommended to me by fellow food bloggers as having great drinks and one of the best burgers in New York! If you know me well, you know how I feel about burgers so you can understand why I had to go despite it being in some random remote location called...West Village...I was more than happy to get lost and ask strangers, in the dark, for directions.  I actually noticed on this holiday that I asked more foreigners for directions than locals, beats me as to why... 

We were all supposed to meet at around 7pm but we were all running super late, only one of the guys arrived on time and the rest of us at like 7:30pm.  Even then, we had to wait around about another hour despite my friend putting our names down for a table at 7!

We got a couple of drinks at the bar, Lex's was delicious and mine was seriously awful uuurgh I shiver at the thought of it! It was called salted cucumber and tequila which in mind would taste refreshing, instead it tasted like a straight shot of tequila and something else funky! I tried Lex's and hers was delicious, so nice and fruity! I was feeling very jelly haha.
Anyway, we were eventually seated and quickly ordered a couple of entrees and 4 burgers!

First entree that came out was the Deviled Eggs.  I had seen this on a lot of menus in NY, but this was actually the first time trying it.  Simply put, it they were half boiled eggs topped with the egg's yolk mixed with mayonnaise and mustard.  Twas reaaaaally good.  The yolk concoction was epic, so creamy and tasty.  Unfortunately I have never seem them in Sydney...I think it is an American dish.

Another entree we chose was the Squid Stew with fennel with creamer potatoes and garlic aioli.   I quite liked this, the squid had a nice bouncy texture, soft mushy squid not my thing. The bread dipped in the stew was good as the stew was quite flavoursome.

The last entree for the evening was the Ricotta Gnudi.  Think fat pillows of soft squishy potato (much like gnocchi) filled with oozy ricotta cheese sitting in a little pool of burnt brown butter and topped with crispy sage leaves. Omg. Epic. This was actually my favourite dish of the night!

Suddenly, I felt something different in the air, I slowly turned to find four huge plates looming in the horizon towards us. We got our forks ready, our jaws slowly dropping as the waitresses lay out our huge plates of beauties on the table in all their aesthetically pleasing glory, the Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese and Shoestring fries.  I must say I couldn't even see Lex's burger amongst the forest of fries, which were really delicious by the way! They were topped with crispy rosemary leaves and sea salt. :9

As for the burger?  I was sorely disappointed.  Though the beef patty was cooked well, medium rare and very juicy, it didn't have much flavour.  In fact the only flavour that I could taste in the entire burger, was the roquefort cheese which was quite stinky (in a good way haha), it was like crazy waves of stinky saltiness admist bland meat and bun.  There weren't any other accompaniments to the burger either so there was nothing to give it some extra flavour!!  It was unfortunate though because this burger actually had a lot of potential- I could see that the beef was good quality and the brioche bun was actually perfect cooked, soft, sweetish and slightly toasty.  I thought about it and I believe that if they season the beef and maybe add a leaf of lettuce and some tomato/beetroot relish, it will be great, buuuut those are just thoughts!

Overall we had a great time at The Spotted Pig, and if I had more time, I would have gone back to eat that gnudi again! :D

The Spotted Pig on Urbanspoon


Like we weren't piggies already coming from the Spotted pig :P..we decided on getting dessert at a popular Italian cafe nearby called Pasticceria Rocco. When we arrived it actually wasn't all that packed, but about an hour later you should have seen the hoards of people coming in, and that was around 11pm!  I can relate though as I love my late night desserts.  It makes me feel like the whole night is more conclusive :D

First up was the Pistachio Cheesecake. I love pistachio and I really thought it sounded good haha but when we tried it I felt like the flavour was adequate but really sweet and dense, like immensely sweet.  We couldn't finish it!

Next we got the Cannolis (far back) and the Red Velvet Cheesecake with cream cheese frosting.  The cannolis with crispy pastry casing filled with deliciously light cream, were super cute and yummy!
As for the cheesecake, the cake part was nice and fluffy and the cheese part was smooth and creamy, delicious I say!

Dominique Ansel Bakery on Urbanspoon

So that was it for the night! We were so stuffed and so full rolling out of the cafe all the way home! 
It was a super fun night! :) 

That's all for now, stay tuned for part III! :) 

Yours truly and appreciatively,

Craving Spoonfuls of Wanderlust...