Archive for the ‘Mexican’ Category

Heirloom, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

December 10, 2011 1 comment

Heirloom is the brain child behind the chefs Vivian Herijanto (founder of Corner Kitchen, who is from Indonesia with Chinese, American, Spanish, Hungarian and Austrian roots) and Ashton Winkler (owner of Blackberries and Cream catering company, who is from Mexico), which is located on the busy street of Hollywood road. Two-floor space, the lower floor is apparently where the cooking is done and where we sat. It was busy, bustling and a little noisy.

Z came early and grabbed a table, we sat there for a while whilst waiting for N and were not pushed or rushed, our waitress was extremely friendly and bubbly.

We started with guacamole (HKD65), perfectly ripened avocado with pearls of pomegranate seeds, the combination was just perfect! It was thick, creamy, pulpy and eaten with tortilla chips it was magnificent.

We ordered two serves of each of the tacos (HKD34 for one; HKD120 for four) – carnitas (braised pulled pork), Balinese fish tacos, chicken and a vegetarian. The tacos are small, palm-sized.

The pulled pork has a strong smoky flavour and the pink pinkled onions really gave it a nice touch.

The Balinese fish tacos were a hit amongst the diners, firm chunks of white fish with coriander and kaffir lime dressing, the flavours burst in your mouth.

The vegetarian tacos I am still undecided. Both Z and N liked it but I am not sure, it was different, a little tasteless I thought.

The vegetarian spring rolls (which I forgot the name!) was different, both Z and N liked it but I am not sure if I did. It tasted a bit weird, a little bitter and the combination of the vegetables were just not for my palate.

The chicken and avocado salad we all enjoyed. The fresh red cabbage, the avocado were all fresh but we all thought it could have definitely used with more chicken!

The chilli con carne with rice was surprisingly tasty. A generous serving of beef, chilli peppers, garlic, onions and cumin and served with a bowl of rice.

For dessert, we couldn’t go past the DIY S’mores (HKD60) – very cute and smart idea, portable open flame burners used to cook marshmallows.

The chocolate was dark and tasty, bit hard to melt and the biscuits sweet but tasty! Definitely a fun way of eating dessert!

Overall, service was friendly and warm. The food was good, nothing really wow’ed me unfortunately, except maybe the pork tacos and the DIY S’more. The lunch menu is different to dinner, there were some tasty-sounding sandwiches that we wanted to order but couldn’t. Great place with friends, for a drink or two over tacos!

GA’s rating: 6 – 6.5 / 10


226 Hollywood Road

Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2547 8008

Izakaya Fujiyama, Surry Hills

There has been a lot of hype and talk about Izakaya Fujiyama, a new Japanese bar and restaurant opened by Chef Kenji Maenaka who is exBodega. Izakaya Fujiayama is located on Waterloo Street, right next door to El Capo and of course Orto Trading Co. I was catching up with a couple of my favourite peeps, the fashionable, DC, Uncle and the gorgeous E. There’s no booking policy so made sure I rocked up a little early to get a table. I love the open bar with lots of sake bottles.

The menu is quite simple, think the sake list is more impressive! Four hungry diners thought we would pick a dish each. Started with the miso cured tofu ($6.50) – served cold, topped with a very nice salty miso.

Fish namban ($12) – fried snapper Japanese escabeche. Lightly battered and deep-fried, the snapper fillets were tender, it was nice but nothing special I thought.

DC had a piece of the mackerel sushi ($3.50).

Uncle opted for the salmon and avocado hand-roll ($4.50), which turned out to be a maki roll. Think Uncle was a little disappointed as he was expecting something like a Makoto hand-roll.

A must have is the KFC – Kenji’s Fried Chicken ($13.50) – karaage chicken with mayonnaise. The fried chicken was so moist, and moreish. Drizzled with lemon and dipped in mayo – DELISH!

The pork belly with miso ($18.50) – steamed pork belly with hoba miso and baked eggplant really had my name on it! Tender, succulent steamed pork belly – goddamn it – it was melt-in-mouth excellent and I love the miso paste and the baked eggplant – fantastic! It was hard to not demolish this on my own!

However, the highlight of the evening for all of us was the jaw – the grilled king fish jaw and ponzu ($32). It was the biggest jaw I have ever seen, it was GIGANTIC! I didn’t realise there were so much flesh in the jaw! We all sat there, in silence, picking out all the flesh, and if I was dining at home, I would have picked up the bones at the end and ‘gnawed’ it – yes – classy I know!

Dessert, we shared the chocolate cake with quince ($11.50), warm chocolate cake with baked quince and condensed milk ice cream. The chocolate cake was rich, gooey and a little too sickly for me, however, I did like the sweet baked quince and the condensed milk ice cream.

We also shared the tea ceremony ($11.50) – vanilla bean ice cream with green tea kokuto syrup and red bean! The green tea syrup from memory was warm, I have to say, we ate this quite quickly! I would have preferred the ice cream to be green tea though.

Service was ok, I don’t think we were impressed that we got rushed out. It wasn’t a busy evening, no queues outside but was asked to leave, as we were presented with the bill even though we didn’t ask for it. We were all still quite peckish but nothing on the menu really ‘grabbed’ us. The jaw and the pulled pork were the highlights for me, but everything else was nice but no ‘wow’ factor. There were so much hype that I had HIGH expectations, and unfortunately, for me, it didn’t live up to it.

E suggested that we should drop by for some scotch eggs at Orto for round two, but unfortunately, they were fully booked so I suggested fried chicken at the Dip. Still amazed that they all agreed, I think we were all still quite hungry .. so off we went.

It was the first time for E and Uncle at The Dip. It was Friday evening and the place was packed and happening! We scored the last table and ordered round two of dinner!

D couldn’t go past the southern smoke ($12) – 12 hour smoked pulled pork sandwich with bbq beans, apple and cabbage slaw on a steamed white roll. Definitely our favourites!

E was craving hot dog so got Lev’s Dawg ($12) – smoked kosher hot dog with chipotle mayo, fresh tomato salsa, grilled yellow peppers and american mustard on a steamed bun. I have had this before and enjoyed it but still do prefer the southern smoke.

Uncle and I wanted fried chicken – the special on Friday’s (?) – four drumsticks with fries. Lucky he stopped at me at two boxes, I had suggested four boxes! ONE EACH! Not sure what I was thinking. Crispy, crunchy batter, chicken meat was tender, could be more tender I think. Still, it wasn’t too bad – love fried chicken!

I think the fried chicken and hot dog helped – we were both stuffed! Although, I think Uncle could definitely have eaten some more! ‘The Mother’ had a bucks night that evening, he said that he contemplated of calling me at 3am to ask if I would join him and the boys for some lobster at Golden Century. The scary thing is, if he did call, I would have walked down and joined him. If I did – that would be THREE rounds of dinner – and I wonder why I am not thin as a stick!

Regardless of being ushered out, it was a wonderful evening, never a dull moment with the fashionable DC, Uncle and the gorgeous E!

GA’s ratings: Izakaya Fujiyama: 6.5 / 10

51 Waterloo St Shop G09

Surry Hills 2010

Ph: +61 2 9698 2797

Izakaya Fujiyama on Urbanspoon

GA’s ratings: The Dip: 7.5 / 10

55 Liverpool St

Sydney 2000

Ph: +61 2 9283 8792

El Loco, Surry Hills

Tacos – a traditional Mexican dish composed of a corn or wheat tortilla folded and rolled around a filling. The filling can be anything really, ranging from beef, chicken, seafood, vegetables and cheese. Eaten with hands, it is messy and often garnished with salsa, guacamole, cilantro, tomatoes, onions and lettuce.

I have had a few tacos here in Sydney at taco bell, at Mad Mex and at various Mexican restaurant but it just didn’t live up to the standards as those that I tried in LA a year or so ago. I have tried making it at home, but its finding the right ingredients and using the ‘right’ tortilla that’s important.

So when I heard that Dan Hong was going to head up this Mexican restaurant, I was beyond excited! It was about time that Sydney has an authentic Mexican joint! El Loco is the new Mexican restaurant by the Merivale Group which is located on Foveaux Street where the Excelsior hotel is.

I heard from the chef himself that he went to LA / Mexico for a week. He tried all sorts of different tacos on his trip with Justin Hemmes as part of their research.

I was hoping to attend the opening night, unfortunately couldn’t make it as I was away for work. So when I came home the next day I was determined to go. It was date night with ‘The Mother’; I knew his love for tacos so this was the perfect spot!

I love the layout, the decoration inside

The hanging lights

The open kitchen, you can see the chefs in action – stressed and working hard!

I love the relaxed atmosphere, and most importantly, LOVED the music! I couldn’t help but sing and sway.

The menu is quite simple; five different types of tacos, hot dog, salad, sandwiches, grilled fish salad and steak. Unfortunately that evening they were only serving tacos – as they are ‘still trying to get organised’. Apparently for lunch that day, they were ‘ballz deep’ that Justin himself got his hand dirty and worked in the kitchen!

Started with complimentary corn chips with guacamole and salsa (usually $5) – thanks Dan!

The corn chips were light and crispy, and dipped in guacamole it was deliciously yummy. I love the creaminess and smoothness of guacamole – its how all guacamole should taste like! Demolished the guacamole, ‘The Mother’ even told me to lick the container, which I did – thank god no one saw me!

I wouldn’t be able to tell you what the salsa was like; ‘The Mother’ ate it all when I was ordering the tacos! Yes – he really does need to learn how to ‘share’.

We ordered one of each taco plus extra pork. I knew we weren’t going to be able to share the pork taco. All the tacos are $5 each and are served with cabbage, coriander, spring onions, salsa verde and pico de gallo. All tacos can be substituted for a lettuce leaf instead of tortillas.

Al Pastor – pork taco, grilled marinated pork, thought the pork could have been more tender but it was still good and satisfying!

Carne Asada – beef taco – tender and excellent.

Camaron – prawn tacos – scrumptiously good! Generous servings of prawns, slightly spicy and cooked to perfection.

Queso de soya – tofu tacos, my favourite of the evening! Bit size tender tofu with a hint of spiciness, I loved it! I could have definitely eaten another one or two.

Pollo – chicken tacos, probably my least favourite one, it was good but nothing special I thought. Could be because I ate this AFTER I had the tofu taco!

I love all the condiments that came with it, especially the pico de gallo – it was fresh, spicy with a bit of tang. YUM! The tacos were excellent, tortilla was soft but yet firm, it held all the ingredients together. The tacos themselves were messy, deliciously tasty and had lots of flavours. The tofu taco was the best taco I have eaten in a long time! It trumped over the pork and that’s saying something!

And of course drinks – margaritas, they were too nice and easy to drink. Two was clearly not enough.

This tequila drink was a little too strong for me, the margaritas was definitely better.

I can’t wait to go back and try their other dishes. The hot dog – Grilled pork Frankfurt served on a soft bun with pickled jalepenos, pico ge gallo, mayonnaise and cheese sounds divine.

Apparently on opening night, they made 3,000 tacos! That’s a lot of tacos and 300 tacos in 90 mins at lunch time! Well done Dan! ‘The Mother’ can see this pub as our local pub – scrumptiously good Mexican fare with margaritas and I can’t agree more! What more can a girl ask for after a long week away from Sydney?

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

‘The Mother’s’ rating: 7.5 / 10

El Loco

64 Foveaux Street

Surry Hills 2010

Ph: +61 2 9211 4945

El Loco on Urbanspoon

Tapas at Miss Marley’s, Manly

It certainly has been a while since ‘The Mother’ and I caught up with P and his lovely wife, C. So when P suggested we have dinner in Manly, we thought great! Manly is one suburb we don’t venture to often, P and C are the only friends we know that lives there. In Summer, we would go to Manly once or twice, ride the ferry and enjoy the sun but besides that, never.

P suggested we go to Miss Marley’s, tapas place in Manly. He has been to this restaurant a number of times now, and had some wonderful meals. It’s quite a small but yet funky restaurant. Apparently they have taken on the ‘small bar concept where 1950’s style vintage glam meets the passion of Central and South America’. I love the mix design and quirky features of this place. It’s very cozy, casual and extremely relaxing.

Considering P has been here a number of times, thought we would leave the ordering to him.

We started with the grilled eggplant salad and marjoram vinaigrette ($14). The eggplant was thinly sliced and grilled – I love grilled eggplant. It was tender and moist and the marjoram vinaigrette was a combination of sweet and sour which was a wonderful complement to the grilled eggplant. I’m not usually a fan of eating onions unless it is barbequed to a crisp, however, it was blanched with the marjoram vinaigrette and was surprisingly good. It was refreshingly light and absolutely delicious.

Next, the spice baked squid filled with a crisp jamon and kiplfer potato salad ($17). Baked squid with kipler potato salad inside – it was absolutely wonderful. The squid was tender, and the potatoes were cut into bite size pieces. The flavours were amazing and well executed which I thoroughly enjoyed.

P has raved about the next dish, and I can see why! Aji de Gallina for 2, Peruvian curry of turmeric, chilli and chickin served with wild rice and black beans. Shredded chicken with curry, which were extremely flavourful and the hint of chilli really gave it that nice kick.

The wild rice and black beans were different but were great complements to the curry. I especially loved the black beans.

I’m not usually a huge fan of lamb but the garlic and paprika lamb for 2 with saffron quinoa filled zucchini and sofrito paste ($27) was fantastic! It didn’t have that strong lamb flavour, and served medium rare was incredibly tender and incredibly succulent. The zucchini with saffron quinoa and sofrito paste was just magnificent. I would have been happy to eat just the zucchini. I did like the combination of the zucchini and lamb!

Lastly, quesadilla with mozzarella, goat cheese and oregano with raspberry chilli jam ($11). The photo really doesn’t do any justice – sorry about that! But this was superb! Toasted tortilla and oozy cheese topped with raspberry chilli jam with a side of guacamole and sour cream – need I say more? Probably one of the best quesadilla I have had for a long time!

The drinks menu was quite extensive, ranging from wine, beer, cocktails and margaritas. If you are not up for food, you can always just have a drink at Miss Marley’s drinking margaritas.

It’s a great find and thanks for recommending it P! It was wonderful food amongst friends, what more can you asks for?

It was wonderful catching up with both of you, let’s do it again sometime soon!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Miss Marley’s

32 Belgrave Street

Manly 2095

Ph: +61 2 8065 4805

Miss Marley's Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon