Thursday, December 27, 2012


DINNER @ Orto Trading Co.

Perfect for: A dinner with a close friend on a hot summer's night - get a table outside!
Price range: $$$ Exxy
My rating: 7/10
Food: 8/10 Service: 5/10 Ambience: 8/10 

Orto Trading Co. is a cafe slash restaurant slash bar nestled in the food-friendly part of Surry Hills. There are wooden tables outside in the courtyard for brunch, tables inside for dinner, and a bar if you're feeling a little thirsty.

I imagine most people try the brunch menu before they try the dinner menu at Orto, but I was starving when I walked past here one night and decided to give the dinner menu a go before I come back another day for brunch.

The first thing I notice about this place is that it's a little bit confused about what it wants to be. It has a pretty expensive dinner menu, signalling that it's a high-end sort of restaurant, yet it is blasting edgy indie music much more fitting of a cafe or a bar.

I order the fish tartare with coconut jelly to start. It is basically a ceviche but with an interesting mix of textures - the combination of the coconut jelly that melt in your mouth, the crunch of the fried onions, the tender fish tartare, the bits of finely chopped fresh red onion, and the bits of lime flesh that pop in your mouth. I thought this was beautifully prepared and presented.

For the main, I tried the stuffed roast chicken on a bed of pureed peas. The chicken was stuffed with prawn and ginger - I thought that this combination of flavours was very odd and didn't enjoy it all that much. Furthermore, the chicken was too well done and the pureed peas were cold when it was served, so I was a little bit disappointed with this choice.

The service was a little half-hearted - the waitstaff weren't attentive and I had to wait around for a while before I got a table, despite the fact that the restaurant was half empty. Despite that, the food did arrive pretty quickly once the waitstaff got around to taking my order. I do think that service is Orto Trading Co.'s biggest let-down.

I would love to come back for the pork three-ways sharing board, and hopefully the service will improve by that time.

Meal: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Address: 38/52 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills
Near: The Belvoir St Theatre - why not watch a show while you're close? 
Hours: Tue-Sat 8am-3pm 6-10pm, Sun 8am-3pm, Closed Mondays

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Perfect for: A long summer lunch - grab a few macarons from their huge selection for dessert
Price range: $$$ Exxy
My rating: 8/10

Meal: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Cuisine: French / Patisserie
Address: 88 George Street, The Rocks, NSW
Hours: Mon-Sat 12-11.30pm, Sun 12-3.30pm

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Perfect for: A very late Saturday brunch followed by a stroll through the shops in Fitzroy
Hot tip: Try get a table outside if it's nice!
Must try: Ask if they have the 63 degree egg on their specials board. If not, you still can't go wrong with anything on their menu!
Price range: $$ Not bad
My rating: 9/10

Melbourne is my favourite food city in the world, but I have to admit that I'm not all that clued up on where all the hip and good Melbourne cafes/restaurants/bars are. Luckily, when I'm down there, I always stay with a good friend of mine who is the definition of a true Melbournian (think: half-shaved head, rides a fixed gear bike, wears retro patterned button-downs and refuses to write on anything that isn't a Moleskin). Naturally, she was all over the trendy foodie spots in Melbourne, so we seeked out Birdman Eating as our Sunday morning treat.

A quick look at the Birdman Eating menu will explain why it's one of the more popular cafes in Melbourne. There are a selection of delectable brunch items, and some of the keywords that jumped out at me were smoked pulled pork; apple pikelets; honey and lime mascarpone; baked vanilla ricotta.

I decided I couldn't leave without trying the black rice, coconut yoghurt and mango - a very odd combination of ingredients for breakfast, and awfully reminiscent of a Thai dessert - and I never say no to dessert for breakfast! It was delicious and perfect - not too sweet but not too bland. The three ingredients complemented each other perfectly.

Although I already had the black rice for breakfast, I couldn't possibly leave without trying the 63 degree egg (cooked for 63 minutes) on black pudding and sourdough. Now that's a little bit different - how does the 63 degree egg work? It's like the sous vide chicken that I mentioned in the post on The Rabbit Hole. The egg is cooked in its shell at a water bath of 63 degrees for a long period of time in order to get the perfect custardy egg white (not at all like the hard gelatin-like texture we're normally used to) and a very gooey, thick and rich egg yolk centre.
It was the best egg I've had in my life. And if you're a black pudding fan like me, you'll love this dish even more.
(I hate to be a party pooper, but this gem was not on the menu - it was only on the specials board.)

I just had a quick look at the dinner menu, and it looks as crazy-good as the brunch menu. Fried haloumi with red rice, sour cherries and pistachio salad. Earl grey cured salmon gravalax. Pork belly with wasabi, radish and caramelised apple. Just to name a few.

The service was good, nothing that disappointed but also nothing that impressed. It's just a brilliant little cafe with a fantastic menu of interesting items. You'd be silly not to come here!

Meal: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Address: 238 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Melbourne
Near: Some vintage stores in Fitzroy, so go for a wander
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-10.30pm, Sat-Sun 8am-10.30pm

WEBSITE | MENU | Birdman Eating on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Perfect for: Sunday morning breakfast and people watching (grab a table outside)
Something special: The cafe boasts a menu of organic and bio-dynamic food
Price range: $$ Not bad
My rating: 8.0/10

The Book Kitchen is a bustling little cafe on the corner of Devonshire Street and Bourke Street in Surry Hills. As its name suggests, it has shelves of gastronomy books for food-loving individuals like me to browse through or buy. And on the weekends, the cafe turns into a restaurant and opens up at night for dinner. 

I came here for a Sunday morning brunch with a friend and got a prime table outside, in perfect position to spot all the Bourke Street hipsters walk / cycle past to queue up for their weekend fix of Bourke Street Bakery goodies.

We both ordered the scrambled eggs and smoked pork hock with spinach, feta and asparagus on sourdough. I personally found it a little bit bland and had to pour a large amount of salt in order to satisfy my greedy taste buds, but I thought that the scrambled eggs were cooked very well.

I drooled all over the lunch menu (especially the pan-fried pork belly) and need to come back here to try it out.

Meal: Breakfast / Lunch
Cuisine: Modern Australian

Address: 255 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills
Near: Bourke Street Bakery is across the road so drop by afterwards to get yourself a little treat
Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-3pm, Sat-Sun 6am-9.30pm

WEBSITE | MENU | The Book Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 3, 2012


Perfect for: A quick meal on a cold day! Or in my case, perfect for trying out the momofuku buns without having to go to a busier momofuku restaurant in NYC.
Must try: The buns, and the momofuku ramen
Price range: $$ Not bad
My rating: 8.5/10

If you're not a local in New York, and you didn't know what you were looking for, you would completely walk past momofuku noodle bar without even blinking. That's what I did, even when I was looking for it.

Situated between 10th and 11th, on First Ave, momofuku noodle bar is always buzzing with 'bros' and 'hipsters'. We turned up for lunch at 12pm on a Friday and were lucky to get a seat. We were actually seated next to a number of New Yorkers who weren't used to this foodieholic taking photos of what I was about to consume, which resulted in a few overly long and awkward stares.

We got a couple of sharing plates, and each got a huge bowl of steaming momofuku ramen. That was more than enough for the both of us. The pork buns were everything they were made out to be, and much much more. 

The famous momofuku pork buns with hoisin sauce, scallion and cucumber

Korean-style roasted rice cakes with red chilli, roasted onion and sesame

Momofuku ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder and a poached egg

I was more than stuffed when I finished my ramen, but I still had food envy when I saw the smoked chicken wings, and we didn't even try the sweets from the milk bar. Another good reason to go back when I'm next in New York!

All up, the meal came to ~$50 for two people, and we over-ordered so I thought it was pretty good value!

Meal: Lunch / Dinner
Cuisine: Asian fusion

Address: 171 First Avenue, East Village, New York
Near: The great boutiques on 10th - there is even a sweet little shop that only sells stamps (they do custom stamps too)
Hours: Mon-Fri 12-4.30pm, 5.30-11pm; Sat-Sun 12-4pm, 5.30pm-2am

WEBSITE | MENUMomofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon