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Chris Chow

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Cafe Oratnek – Redfern

Walking into Cafe Oratnek feels like you’re visiting a friend’s place (a talented friend who can cook up a storm). The bright and homely space is a welcome change from the dimly lit interiors of a lot of hip cafes.  
The chef and owner of Cafe Oratnek is Kenny Takayama, he was previously the head chef of Bills and now he’s opened the cafe of his dreams. Find out what the menu is like in my video below! 

Recommended dishes: Katsu Pork Sandwich
Atmosphere: Bright and homely cafe
Price: $40 for 2 people
Stars:
One star means good, two means very good, three is excellent and four is absolutely incredible culinary experience.
This post was based on an independently paid visit.

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 For more food videos head to my YouTube channel
You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter

Sydney

The Larder – Woolloomooloo

The Larder offers up gorgeous food with a view to match.
A larder is defined as a large cupboard or room for storing food. 
The Larder, located in Woolloomooloo, certainly stocks a nice selection of dishes. 
A photo posted by Chris (@chewyourchow) on

The compact menu has mains ranging from pulled pork to swordfish ceviche. There’s 4 side dishes and 4 desserts to help your round off your meal.
Head chef, Richard Ptacnik has created The Larder to be a casual destination with a focus on fresh produce.  

The fried calamari and fries are crispy and golden, a perfect way to start the meal. The eggplant parmigiana is luxurious and divine, perhaps one of the best eggplant dishes I’ve had in a while.
The pulled pork is flavoured well but unfortunately on the tough side. The accompanying coleslaw is perfect to cut through the heavy dishes on my lunch. 
Recommended dishes: Calamari, eggplant parmigiana 
Atmosphere: Bright and breezy set on the wharf  
Price: $70 for 2 people  
Stars: ☆
One star means good, two means very good, three is excellent and four is absolutely incredible culinary experience.

The Larder
Area 8, 6 Cowper Wharf Road
Woolloomooloo
Tel: +61 (2) 9368 7488

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For more food videos head to my YouTube channel
You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter

Taiwan Travel

Shifen (十分) Travel Guide – Visiting the waterfall (十分瀑布) and lighting paper lanterns (放天灯)

Shifen (十分) is a small town located to the east of Taipei. Tourists flock to this quaint place to witness the majestic Shifen waterfall (十分瀑布) and light paper lanterns.

SEE

Before you get to the waterfall, have a look around the main town centre. There’s an array of souvenirs and food stores. You can also walk along the train track which runs right through the middle of the town!

Getting to the waterfall is an easy 20 minute walk, make sure you take in the scenery as you cross the bridge.
The waterfall is quite a sight to behold, I was especially lucky to witness not one but two rainbows when I visited!

Eat

The best places to eat in Shifen would have to be the street food stalls that dot the main roads of the town.

Candied tomatoes and prunes are a great sweet to snack on while you explore the streets of Shifen.

If you are a fan of chicken (who isn’t), you are in luck. There’s quite a few stalls selling skewers of every chicken part you can imagine. I had some chicken butt (the skewers in the top row of the picture above). It’s actually chicken tail, more commonly known in Taiwan as Qi Li Xiang (七里香).

One stall was selling their home made dish — grilled chicken wings stuffed with rice. A finger licking, protein and carb filled parcel.

Do

A very touristy thing to do at Shifen is to write your wishes and prayers on a paper lantern (天灯) and set it afloat. There are several stores selling these paper lanterns, they will provide ink, brushes and help you float your wishes into the sky.

Get to Shifen 

Shifen is easily accessible from Taipei by bus, train or taxi. I personally chose to take the train for the scenic views!

Bus:
From Muzha MRT Station (捷運木柵站) catch the No. 15 Taipei Bus (台北客運15路公車).

Train:
Take a train from Taipei Railway Station to Ruifang Station (瑞芳站). Alight at Ruifang station and switch over to the Pingxi Line (平溪支線). Take that train to Shifen Railway Station (十分火車站).

Taxi:
Taking a taxi to Shifen from Ruifang station will set you back approximately NT$480. Many taxi drivers offer packages to Shifen and surrounding tourist areas such as Jiufen (九份) and Jinguashi (金瓜石). Be sure to settle on a final price with the taxi driver before getting in!

For more travel videos head to my YouTube channel
You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter

Sydney

The Local Mbassy – Ultimo, Sydney

red

Red velvet pancakes — need I say more?

The Local Mbassy in Ultimo has become an Instagram hit, specifically its red velvet pancakes. Be prepared to wait for a table as the cafe is quite cosy. A and I decided to be seated at the counter, rather than wait for a table.

Coffee at The Local Mbassy is brewed with Campos coffee on a glistening copper plated La Marzocco machine.

The main attraction consists of three concentric circles of fluffy ruby red pancakes. Sandwiched between each layer are generous servings of whipped cream and strawberries. To finish off blueberries and pistachios are meticulously placed at the base of the dish.

For $15.50, there’s a lot of technique put into this plate.

So, you should definitely get it. It’s so good that A and I both order one each, so did most tables around us.

Recommended dishes: Red velvet pancakes
Atmosphere: Old school casual cafe
Price: $38 for 2 people
Stars:
One star means good, two means very good, three is excellent and four is absolutely incredible culinary experience.
This post was based on an independently paid visit.
The Local Mbassy
310 Wattle Street
Ultimo
Tel: +61 (2) 8084 3467

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Uncategorized

Boscage – Surry Hills

Boscage is a modern cafe that’s tucked away amongst a block of apartments in Surry Hills.

The cafe has outdoor seating, an open kitchen and a sun drenched dining area at the back. Stare out of the floor to ceiling windows for some people watching while you sip on your choice of caffeine. I picked a cappuccino ($3.50) as my go to cold drip was not on the menu (first world problems I know but it’s almost an unspoken rule for Surry Hills cafe to have cold drip).

My Gruyere scrambled eggs ($18) is a generous golden heap that’s plated with a mushroom and some kale. Whilst the flavour was there, the eggs needed more Gruyere (you can never have enough cheese).

The Chorizo Scotch egg ($18) could certainly be Boscage’s signature dish, the runny yolk is nestled on a pile of braised beans and a rather acidic herb salad.

Although the cafe has only been opened for a month or so, Boscage has potential to be another local hotspot after it irons out a few kinks (staff were forgetting orders).

Recommended dishes: Chorizo Scotch egg & Gruyere scrambled egg
Atmosphere: Sunny, relaxing vibes
Price: $40 for 2 people
Stars: ☆
One star means good, two means very good, three is excellent and four is absolutely incredible culinary experience.
This post was based on an independently paid visit.

Boscage
15/425 Bourke Street 
Surry Hills
Tel: +61 (2) 9357 3427

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Uncategorized

Orto Trading Co. – Surry Hills

Orto Trading Co. is a mix of rustic and chic. The cafe offers all day brunch with coffee, cocktails and juices. There’s a sunny courtyard out front perfect for getting some vitamin D while sipping on a cappuccino (perhaps nursing a Friday night hangover).

Bubble and Squeak $17

Their brunch menu is an eclectic array of traditional dishes like Baked Eggs to the more unique options such as the Hotdog or the Southern Fried Chicken Benni.

My Bubble and Squeak features a duck egg paired with brussels sprouts, chestnuts and jerusalem artichoke. The bubble (that golden brown blob at the top of the photo, made out of potato) is pillowy on the inside while maintaining a nice crust on the outside. ML’s Hash is a generous stack of Berkshire ham, tomato, avocado, rocket and asparagus – topped with a perfectly poached egg.

Hash $16

A nice selection of freshly made juices and smoothies are on offer at Orto Trading Co. My Green Apple, Cucumber, Lime and Mint juice was particularly refreshing – the perfect accompaniment to my heavy brunch.

Service was a mixed bag as the staff tried to manage the large Saturday brunch crowd as well as the takeaway line.

Green Apple, Cucumber, Lime and Mint $7
Good: Varied brunch menu, fresh juices 
Bad: Service was hit and miss  
Perfect for: Lazy Sunday brunch, hangover cure   
Price: $$
This post was based on an independently paid visit.
38 Waterloo Street
Surry Hills
Tel: +61 431 212 453

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Japan Travel

Musashi Sushi – Kyoto

Musashi Sushi is a no frills sushi train located in the gigantic Kyoto Station complex. Every plate costs a measly ¥140! (¥130 + tax) but not let the cheap price put you off because you’ll find some decent sushi. Once you enter, ask for the English menu and start your eating spree!

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Sydney

Bennelong – Sydney, CBD

Photo credit – Brett Stevens

Bennelong sails spectacularly into Sydney.

Photo credit – Brett Stevens

As I step into Bennelong, I am in awe of the sheer size of the restaurant. The expansive yet intimate interior allows for Bennelong to be split into three separate areas – The Restaurant, Cured & Cultured and The Bar.

The Cured & Cultured counter provides a casual dining area with a menu focused on raw and cold produce such as Sydney rock oysters or Australian-made prosciutto. The Bar offers guests a place to relax over drinks, you can also order off desserts from The Restaurant.

On this night, I was celebrating my birthday with L at The Restaurant. Dinner consists of a 3 course a la carte menu with sides for $125 per person. The same menu is available at lunch however without sides, there is also the lighter 2 course option for $95 per person.

Single origin wheat noodles with smoked pork, line caught squid, peanuts and sesame

Australian produce is at the core of Bennelong’s menu (even the still water is Aussie). “Ninety-eight per cent of everything I’m serving is Australian grown or produced,” says Chef (culinary wizard) Peter Gilmore. “To me it’s about celebrating our farmers and producers. The fact that it’s Australian grown – we should be really proud of that.”

My entree of grilled Lady Elliot Island bug is a prime example of this celebration, the simple preparation allows the ingredients to shine. The Wagyu rump cap I chose for my main is perfectly paired with black barley, roasted oxheart carrot and mustard emulsion. The caramelised carrot brought a touch of sweetness to the dish, while the barley added a textural dimension (that was probably the best carrot I’ve had).

Grilled Lady Elliot Island bug with fermented chilli, organic turnips and radishes
Wagyu rump cap with roasted oxheart carrot, mustard emulsion and black barley
Flinders Island salt grass lamb with broadbeans, kale, Jerusalem artichokes nasturtiums and anchovy salt
Pavlova

Quay has the Snow Egg and Bennelong has the Pavlova. This, however, is not your average pavlova. It’s a masterpiece that pays homage to the Sydney Opera House. Crisp slivers of meringue are carefully arranged on top of an alternating pattern of Italian meringue and double whipped cream. At the core of the dessert is poached meringue filled with raspberries and rhubarb.

Whilst I was gushing over my dessert, L’s Strawberries and Cream was slightly marred by the fact that the ice cream was completely frozen and required a few minutes to thaw. I’m not sure why this was, it could perhaps be part of the theatrics of the dish.  

Strawberries and cream
Cape Grim natural water
To cap off my already wonderful dinner, I was asked by the maître d’ if I would like a tour of the restaurant and kitchen. I replied with a soft, reserved yes (I was screaming on the inside with excitement). The kitchen has been fully renovated and is open, bright and spacious. As I stood there memorised by the kitchen staff cooking, head chef Rob Cockerill greeted me and we shook hands. 
Photo credit – Brett Stevens

Tucked on the left side of the kitchen is the Chef’s Table. An exclusive dining area consisting of six seats adorned with an panoramic view of the harbour. For $650 per person, you get to indulge in the view and a seasonally designed 10 course degustation.

Photo credit – Brett Stevens

As I returned to my seats, I was slightly dazed and filled with euphoria. What an incredible birthday dinner, this was the truly the best meal I’ve had this year.   

Good: Superb locally sourced menu, stunning decor and that Pavlova   
Bad: Completely frozen ice cream in the Strawberries and Cream    
Perfect for: Birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions  
Price: $$$

This post was based on an independently paid visit.

Bennelong
Sydney Opera House
Tel: +61 (02) 9240 8000

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Sydney

Something for Jess – Chippendale, Sydney

Restaurateurs often name their establishments after themselves or their loved ones. Chef owner, Philip Ocampo named Something for Jess after his partner. This cozy cafe originated from Philip’s seasonal Mexican food stall that he ran.


You’ll find the usual types of coffee on offer at Something for Jess, as well a variety of teas and fresh juices. If you are a long time reader, you would know I chose the cold drip, which carried a clean, crisp taste. ML was rather disappointed with her juice as it arrived in a mason jar half filled. It was definitely a glass half full situation.

The blackboard menu at Something for Jess is seasonal and constantly changing. There’s a strong focus on fresh, local produce prepared in simple yet mouth watering manner. My Autumn Feast Burger was a vibrant mound of vegetables with slow cooked ox tail as the protein, the variety of ingredients resulted in an unique combination of flavours and textures. KZ’s Free Range Double Smoked Ham was served on bruschetta with a poached egg. Jess’ Vegetable Harvest, which ML ordered, was a heaped pile of green goodness (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, shaved fennel) topped with shaved pecorino served on toast.

Autumn Feast Burger – $15
Free Range Double Smoked Ham with Bruschetta – $16.5
Jess’ Vegetable Harvest – $15

So head to Something for Jess if you are after some great seasonal food that’s good for your health.

Good: Fresh and local produce, delicious seasonal menu
Bad: Juice was filled half way only, very cramp seating  
Perfect for: Lazy weekend brunch, healthy lunch  
Price: $

This post was based on an independently paid visit.

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