All posts filed under: Restaurant reviews

Hoi An’s Miss Lien Thao tops street food stakes

We found numerous recommendations for Miss Lien Thao’s street food stall on Trip Advisor and online so headed out from Hoi An’s bustling old quarter, across the Japanese Covered Bridge to find out for ourselves. The area across the bridge is known as An Hoi island and is where the night markets full more stalls selling cheap souvenirs, touristy bars and restaurants are located. We walked along the Hoai riverside which is all lit up with lanterns and light installations, away from the hustle and bustle to find a quieter row of street food stalls tucked at the end of the point. Here locals and streetwise tourists were tucking in to delicious local food at local prices. Miss Lien Thao herself welcomed us warmly and we were immediately seated at the end of a long communal eating table, sharing with another Australian family who were already tucking in to delicious looking dishes. The menu is enticing and we wanted to try local specialities…so ordered white rose dumplings, fried “open wontons”, beef noodles, stir fried chicken …

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Flavours of Hoi An at Home

After enjoying our dining experience at Home Finest in Saigon so much recently, we couldn’t resist dining at their sister restaurant Home Hoi An. Much more casual but still upmarket, the great news is that the menu, whilst including some of the nationwide favourites like Pho, includes Hoi An specialities with a focus on fresh seafood including crab, squid and prawns. We started with deep fried seafood spring rolls. We were expecting standard rice paper rolls but were surprised instead by a delicious concoction of seafood encased in crumbs and deep fried to perfection, served with a delectable dipping sauce. The presentation in miniature hanging baskets was also superb. For mains we opted for the grilled beef in piper lalot…thinly sliced beef grilled to perfection and wrapped in betel leaves with a topping of fried shallots, a Vietnamese speciality which we had not yet tried. We also had pork spareribs in black peppercorn claypot. We enjoyed both dishes but once again wished there were more of us to try some of the other specialty dishes …

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Brash and buzzy: Vietnam House, Saigon

Australian Luke Nyugen’s Vietnam House restaurant in the very centre of busy Ho Chi Minh City is an assault on the senses with bold Art Deco interior design featuring vivid colours and a buzzy atmosphere. It feels exactly right where it is located in the heart of the CBD surrounded by the glitz of the high end designer shops like Louis Vuitton and Gucci and 5 star hotels. The menu features Nyugen’s unique take on Vietnamese food that reflects the influences of growing up in Australia and his time spent in France through the use of imported herbs and ingredients, such as Wagyu beef, dill and salmon. We began with the much talked about soft spring rolls with sesame seared salmon and salmon caviar. The addition of the salmon caviar added delicious bursts of flavour to this entree and the flavour of the salmon went really well with the dill in the rolls. For mains we tried the much talked aboutBraised Wagyu Beef cheek in coconut juice, Phu Quoc green pepper, carrot, shallot served with …

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Home Finest, Saigon – a fine find indeed!

Managed to get a last minute booking into this highly recommended restaurant on TripAdvisor. It’s currently No 1 for Vietnamese food in Ho Chi Minh/Saigon and we can certainly attest to it’s well deserved reputation. Set in a stunning modernist French Villa and with classic interior design of dark wood/black furniture, white walls, glass and plants everywhere, the restaurant draws you in from the moment you arrive. Service is warm and welcoming. Anna who looked after us was very knowledgeable about the wine list and menu. She also told us a little about the villa and the local neighbourhood which was very interesting. The food though is definitely a stand-out. We started with a deliciously hot-sour seafood soup, which was tart and tangy but mellower than a Thai Tom Yum, served elegantly in a coconut. We accompanied this with crispy pork and prawn wontons, served with a divine dipping sauce. For mains we settled on stir fried duck with local basil and grilled eggplant with spring onion salsa with some plain rice. Both dishes were …

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Ban Xeo Saigon lives up to Bourdain

This street food outlet in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City was made famous by Anthony Bourdain https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aI0u3eaQgcA in 2008. Renowned for their crispy Vietnamese rice flour crepes, Ban Xeo lived up to its reputation on our visit today. Of course it has now been discovered by tourists but the service and quality of the food has stood up to the test. The ladies are still out the front cooking up a storm over the wood fire and prices are extremely reasonable. We enjoyed the experience and loved the crunchy crepes filled with shrimps, pork and bean sprouts and served with a delicious fish sauce dip and a mountain of fresh lettuce and herbs. Get over the fact that it is now firmly on the tourist trail and try it when next in Saigon. https://m.facebook.com/banhxeo46adinhcongtrang/

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Fabulous Flathead at Saint Peter

If you want to eat seafood and fish like never before then Saint Peter in Paddington, Sydney is the place to go. We started with a delicious range of Sydney Rock Oysters, yellowfin tuna crudo and calamari salad with a hint of chilli and moved onto brilliant, creative mains. The fish and chips are in a league of their own but my BBQ Rock Flathead with a corn salsa was the winner in my books. Finished off with old school custard tart and chocolate tart…it was one of the best meals I’ve had in Sydney in a long time! The menu changes regularly as it is driven by the best seafood available. All the more reason to go often I’d say!! Make sure you book ahead. So absorbed in eating I forgot take more pics! Thanks Saint Peter https://www.saintpeter.com.au

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French Classics at St Claude’s Sydney

Delicious dining and attentive service at St Claude’s in cosy surrounds in Oxford St, Woollahra. Lucky to have such top notch French menu on our doorstep now and bound to become a regular haunt. Scallop filled Zuchinni flowers, delicious soufflé, steak tartare, steak frites, and perfectLy cooked duck….we skipped dessert! Plus a great wine list and a daily Prix Fixe 3 course menu, St Claude’s is open 7 nights a week for dinner. Here’s Foodie Terry Durack’s review from the Sydney Good Food Guide https://www.goodfood.com.au/st-claudes-woollahra/st-claudes-20160125-49ix6 And here’s a link to their website http://stclaudes.com.au

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Victor Churchill – Haute Couture butcher in Sydney

Going to Victor Churchill’s “Haute Couture” butcher shop in Woollahra, Sydney is always inspirational and it is very difficult to leave without a delicious treat in hand. It is a total experience, being able to watch the master butchers at work and ogle the mind bogglingly array of super-delicious products. Or better still go home with some of it! Their is a special air drying room producing delicious charcuterie and their is also House smoked salmon and trout. If you are feeling really indulgent or running out of time, you can order home dining – certain cuts of meat and chicken are cooked on their rotisserie and word is that their roast potatoes are delicious. They also offer charcuterie platters. Their desserts are just as divine as the rest with mouth-watering meringue tarts and more to tempt. Today it was their Terrine de Campagne that enticed us. Here’s a taste of what you can expect. Or visit http://www.victorchurchill.com Definitely worth a visit especially if you are looking for the best quality meats and unusual cuts.

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A Bali favourite: Bayu’s Kitchen, Penestanan, Ubud

Bayu’s Kitchen is a favourite stop for us when we are visiting Bali. With a menu that has Indonesian, Thai and Western favourites, as well as a delicious special Sri Lankan curry combo. Run by local Aussie expat Steve Castley, the atmosphere is laid back and prices are great value. Friendly staff deliver great service and guests are a mix of locals and guests staying in Private Ubud Villas around Penastanan, and tourists. We stay at Villa Kembali which is right next door to Bayu’s Kitchen so it is one of our local haunts. Bayu’s Kitchen is opposite Y Resort on Jalan Penastanan Kelod (known as Jalan Katik on some maps). If you are looking for a relaxed, simple but delicious meal when you are in Ubud, then Bayu’s is a great option. On Sundays from 6.30pm-9pm Bayu’s Kitchen features live music with a great local band. Thanks Steve and team for some lovely meals and memories in the last few weeks!

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Intriguing Indo flavours at new Nusantara by Locavore, Ubud

Now this is an absolute must, honestly, for your next time you are in Ubud. With a menu featuring regional specialities from across the Indonesian archipelago, Nusantara’s menu will expose you to intriguing new and old Indonesian spices, herbs and flavours. We visited in a group of four for dinner which gave us the opportunity to try a number of small dishes and larger plates, as well as dessert. Even then we were left struggling to choose between the enticing and exotic sounding menu items. We started with a medley of cocktails between us including a Bir Pletok, Loloh, Kokomora and Bunga Desa. (See below for the fascinating ingredients in each). The cocktails are all impressively presented, just like Nusantara’s sister cocktail bar Night Rooster , and taste as good as they look. We were delightfully surprised by a platter of complimentary nibbles. With beautiful crispy rice crackers, a delicious Fishcakes steamed in banana leaves, sambals and crispy fried potatoes. The nibbles got our tastebud prepared for the taste sensations that were to follow. With …

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Iconic Ikan (fish) at Warung Mak Beng, Sanur

TripAdvisor is full of recommendations for Warung Mak Beng which was established by “Mother”Beng back in 1941 and is run today by her grandson, continuing a long family tradition. Situated near the beach in Jalan Hang Tuah 45 in Sanur, this is the classic “one dish speciality” warung serving only its famous crispy fried ocean fish or Ikan Laut Goreng. It has taken us a while to make the effort to get to this Warung, but I can assure you the trip is well worth the effort of travelling from wherever you are staying in Bali to try their renowned speciality. The fish is crispy brown (almost burnt looking) on the outside but tender and moist on the inside and accompanied a the delicious fish head soup and spicy sambal on the side. My bowl of soup had little evidence of fish head, rather just big chunks of fish that had been stewed in the soup. The soup also had big chunks of cucumber which had absorbed the flavours of the soup and daun salam …

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Breakfast at Biku beckons in Bali

Biku is an iconic Seminyak restaurant in Jalan Petitenget that amongst other things serves breakfast all day! Known for their amazing High Teas including Asian and Traditional versions, Biku also serves a High Breakfast that includes croissants, Danish pastries, corn cakes, omelette, sausages, grilled tomato and fruit salad! They are also known for having an amazing range of teas, all served in a gorgeous colonial feeling setting in a 150 year old teak joglo (traditional Indonesian wooden house). Eating outside in the garden courtyard is also very pleasant, and everywhere you look are beautiful fresh flowers brought in by local florists each day. We weren’t hungry enough for the High Breakfast on this visit but were feeling like something more than the “Something Healthy”section of the menu which features items like Chia Pods, Smoothie Bowls, Fruit Salad and Scrambled Tofu. But Biku’s breakfast selection is really fantastic including a whole section of “Something Different” and another with “Something Classic” and “Something Indonesian”. We opted to try some different things ordering the soft poached eggs on …

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Sardine – seafood safari in Bali

Sardine is a far cry from the trashy, tourist rip off traps along Jimbaran Beach that many travellers to Bali flock to for a fresh seafood experience. Whilst it is expensive by Bali standards, the quality of the seafood is absolutely top notch, as is the divine setting with views across their own rice paddy and small farm, but right at Jalan Petitenget 21 not far from the Seminyak action. I have been to Sardine on a few occasions now and they have not failed to impress with the simple but perfectly spiced dishes, warm welcome, smiling and snappy service, and good drinks list. They have also kept up the standards that won them Best Restaurant in Seminyak in 2016 in the popularly voted Yak magazine awards. The current menu offers delicious starters such as Manis (sweet) Clams cooked with chorizo and chilli and Mussels in coconut milk sauce. The shellfish does not disappoint and is cooked to perfection preserving its sweetness and texture. One of my favourite mains is the whole filleted fish cooked …

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Warung Pantai shines at Batu Belig Beach, Bali

Pantai means beach in Indonesian and this Warung is true to it’s name, perfectly positioned on the beautiful Batu Belig beachfront, just north (about 10 minutes) of Seminyak in Bali. Warung Pantai’s owner Wayan has a simple motto “work hard, play hard” and her philosophy shines through at her impeccable Warung. The pride in which Wayan and her team take in keeping the Warung spotless and taking care of guests is evident in every aspect of the food and service here. Warung Pantai is my idea of Bali Bliss, with a location that is perfect for a restful day at the beach and a menu to suit all tastes but with particularly good Indonesian favourites such as Gado Gado (steamed vegetables with peanut sauce), spicy prawns and fish and delicious Ayam Goreng (Indonesian fried chicken), Nasi Campur, Nasi Goreng and Satays accompanied by authentic sambals and sauces. The food is cooked off-site just up the road in Wayan’s kitchen in her traditional family compound, in an equally impeccable kitchen, and ferried to your table on …

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Recommend Warung Eny anytime!

We recently feasted at Warung Eny’s in Jalan Petitenget Seminyak and I would highly recommend dining here at anytime! A real local warung with decent almost local prices is difficult to find in the midst of all the Petitenget bling but Warung Eny certainly delivers the goods. From the barbecue out front fanning coconut husk smoke across the entryway, the faded photos on the walls of past happy customers, Eny’s family busy serving and cooking in the kitchen, the piles of fresh vegetables and divine smells of home cooking, Warung Eny is a little piece of real Bali squeezed in between high fashion boutiques and fine dining foreign restaurants. We went for dinner on a rainy Seminyak evening with friends who had visited twice before and we were surrounded by happy regular guests who had obviously, similarly enjoyed the delicious home cooked food before. Repeat visitation is surely the highest praise for any restaurant? I can assure you that I will be going back there if not for the succulent, spicy minced pork steamed in …

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Night Rooster Cocktails rule the roost!

Stopped by Night Rooster by Locavore in Ubud for spectacular and very creative cocktails featuring a mixture of top shelf and homemade liquors. The delicious concoctions showcase unique Indonesian/Balinese spices and display a level of innovation in cocktail recipes that I have not come across before. Adrian had the Ashes cocktail which is almost a live performance rather than just a drink. My Née-Groni was very nice too, not involving any fire, but made with Tanqueray gin and a homemade vermouth. If you are lucky enough to get a seat on the balcony, you can sip your drinks with a bird eye view of Jalan Dewisita. Night Rooster is upstairs from Golden Monkey on the corner of Jalan Gootama and Jalan Dewisita. Great looking bar and small dishes menu as well but we didn’t try on this occasion as we were on our way to dinner. Great value for money at IR130,000 (AU$13) each! Definitely a must visit bar on your next trip to Ubud!

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Quirky and cool cocktails at Opium, London

Found this little gem on my recent trip to London when I was searching for a bar to meet up with a work colleague near the West End. Don’t be put off by the rather dingy entrance (look for the Jade Door says their website) and creaky wooden stairs to Opium..it’s all part of the atmosphere of making you feel like you are in some back room opium den in old time Shanghai. After climbing up a few flights of stairs, you enter an atmospherically lit bar decorated with Asian flair. Situated in the middle of London’s Chinatown and a hop from West End theatres, Opium is a great Pre or post -theatre drinks venue but also an excellent experience in it’s own right. The Dim Sum menu features sharing platters as well as individual dumpling plates and the dumplings were freshly made and delicious. The cocktail list is very inventive and includes a beautifully illustrated menu of cocktails themed around the Chinese animal zodiac and cocktails from this list are served in corresponding animal …

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Divine food in the eternal city at Da Enzo

This was a true foodie experience. It was definitely worth waiting for about twenty minutes to be squeezed in to a table at Da Enzo in the Trastevere part of Rome. Went there on the basis of glowing reviews on a number of blogs, crossing the Tiber from where we staying near the Spanish Steps, queuing in the light rain on a nippy autumn day in Rome. We were absolutely rewarded for our efforts and I couldn’t recommend trying it out yourself when next in Rome. The restaurant is tucked into a tiny “hole in the wall” down an atmospheric laneway, it was Friday lunchtime and the other restaurants around were pretty empty but Da Enzo was heaving with lots of locals and some savvy tourists. Its reputation for serving authentic, Roman cuisine (cucina Romano) in true Roman family style has grown and grown over the years. After being shown to our table with rickety chairs and paper tablecloths by a member of the family, we pondered the menu and daily specials. Our neighbours to …

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La Pentolaccia lives up to rave reviews!

Went to La Pentolaccia on the recommendation of a seasoned Rome resident on my first night back in the eternal city in 6 years. Having not stayed on this side of Rome (near Termini) before the recommendation was welcome as were the rave reviews on Yelp and Trip advisor. Down a cute little street, Via Flavia, just off Via Settembre in Sallustiano, La Pentolaccia is a great local restaurant that you always want to find as a tourist in Rome. Great service from friendly, professional and slightly bossy waiters; fabulous menu boasting dishes made with fresh, seasonal produce and a wonderful Roman vibe. We had delicious grilled octopus and prawn rocket salad with an eyewateringly good freshly made horseradish dip on the side, followed by Osso bucco with delicious marrow and lobster fettuccine. The lobster fettuccine actually had large pieces of lobster claw in it and was presented in a fish formation! Followed with fresh berries and ice cream. Solid wine list which the helpful owner?/waiter Vincenzo helped us with. All in all a great …

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