Australia, Melbourne, Melbourne - CBD

Wonderbao

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A wonderful way to start the day on a cold wintery morning in the city of Melbourne is to warm yourself up with a couple of hot steaming soft buns.

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Wonderbao is situated inside a small arcade at the end of a lane. It is a small store, with exposed brick walls, and wooden tables. The store is thoughtfully decorated with bamboo steamers and a row of Sriracha bottles, giving it a very Asian vibe.

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Gua Baos

These are available daily after 10:30am. We tried all three of them – Braised pork belly ($4.20), Roast pork belly ($4.20) and Fried silky tofu ($4.20).

The first impression of the hot steaming buns was how soft and fresh they were. The fried silky tofu gua bao was my favourite – the contrasting textures of the soft bun, tofu (which was crisp on the outside and soft inside) and the crunchy peanuts, along with the flavours from the sweet soy, coriander and pickled mustard, made this bun so pleasing to eat. The roast pork belly gua bao was tasty, with crispy crackling and soft pork belly, and the use of the hoi sin sauce and cucumber reminded me of the taste of Peking duck pancake. The pork in the braised pork belly gau bao was a little too chewy for my liking.

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Traditional Baos

The Da chicken bao ($3.50) was a big bun, with chicken, egg and shiitake mushroom inside. It was nice and tasty. The Cheung chai bao ($2.20) had Chinese sausage inside the bun.

Drinks

A cup of home-made soya milk ($3) went well with the buns. I would have preferred the milk to be less sweet and to have more soya bean flavours.

Overall this place is worth visiting if you are ever in Melbourne – it is cheap, quick and tasty. What more can you ask for?

Wonderbao on Urbanspoon

Wonderbao

Website: www.wonderbaokitchen.com.au

Address: Shop 4, 19-37 A’Beckett St, Melbourne 3000

Phone: (03) 9654 7887

Opening hours: Mon to Fri, 8am to 6pm; Sat, 11am to 4pm

Accepts MasterCard and Visa

Australia, Sydney, Sydney - CBD

Masu Izakaya

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Masu Izakaya

An izakaya is a casual Japanese drinking place where people can go after work to grab a few drinks while chewing on yakitori skewers. To find a place in Sydney where there is a friendly vibe, with a good variety of drinks and food, is not easy, but we think we may have found the place.

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Located in Chinatown, Masu Izakaya has only been opened for a few weeks. It has a really nice atmosphere with bright lights creating a warm hue, exposed brick walls giving it a rustic look, and comfortable leather chairs. The inclusion of a chandelier near the stairs gives some class to the venue.

The wait staff was very attentive during our visit, and the provision of wet towels on the table was a nice gesture.

The drink menu was amazing, with a vast variety of Japanese sake (which ranged from $6.50 to $13 for 100mL) and Japanese whisky (which ranged from $10 to $17 for a glass). They even have some different types of soda drinks that we have not seen in other Japanese restaurants. The drinks menu is really worth checking out.

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One thing to note is that the bottle of soy sauce provided on the table contained very thick soy sauce, which gave the food a more robust flavour. This was a nice touch.

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Assorted Sashimi $22.80

This contained salmon, tuna, kingfish and scallop sashimi. All the sashimi was fresh and sweet.

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Dragon Roll $10.80

A lightly seared eel inside out roll with cream cheese, cucumber and avocado. The rice was cooked perfectly, and the eel did not contain any fishy taste. A nice dish.

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Scallop and Ebi Fry $9.80

A lightly seared scallop inside out roll with ebi fry and cucumber. The ebi fry (prawns) were crispy, with very subtle scallop taste. The added sesame gave this dish a touch of depth in flavour. Very enjoyable.

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Eihire (dried sting ray fin) $7

Nicely flavoured but a little bit tough, this is the perfect dish to devour while downing a few beers or sakes. The mayo was a nice little touch.

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Grilled squid $12

The squid was soft and tender, and yet it had the nice smoky tarry taste from the grill. Another perfect dish to accompany some nice Japanese beer.

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Skewers

The yakitori skewers are their speciality and we tried a few different types. Apparently all the chicken used in the yakitori are from local farms which makes them fresh and tasty.

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The Mushroom ($4.50) had two mushrooms stuffed with chicken meat, and it had a nice Asian flavour going for it.

The Nankotsu (chicken cartilage) ($3.50) was nice and crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. Some chicken meat seem to have been intentionally left on the cartilage for customers to taste the chicken flavour.

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The Sasami (chicken breast) and Momo (dark chicken meat) ($3.50 each) provided a contrast in taste and texture. Greg liked the Momo as he found it tender and flavoursome, while Jono found it too peppery. However, Jono liked the Sasami as he could taste the natural real chicken flavour from it, but Greg found it a bit too dry.

We also had a number of other skewers.

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The Wagyu Beef ($7.50) was soft, tender and tasty. It was simply divine!

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The Butabara Pork ($3.50) had the right amount of fat, making it soft and tender, which contrasted well with the crunchiness of the spring onion. Furthermore, the saltiness of the pork, with the spiciness of the sauce, and the sweetness from the onion created an explosion of flavours in our mouths.

The Quail Egg ($3) had the smokiness of the grill and when mixed with the sauce, it just oozed through our mouth.

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The Rice Cake Maki ($3.50) divided our opinions. Greg enjoyed it, as it was full of flavour with the outside being crunchy and inside being soft. However, Jono was disappointed with this dish, as the flavour from the sauce was too strong, making it taste like some sticky fat filled with sauce.

Overall, we loved this place, and we will be back on a regular basis. The drinks are special, the food is great, and the vibe is friendly and relaxed. This is the perfect place to wind up after work and chat with your friends or colleagues.

 

Masu Izakaya on Urbanspoon

 

Masu Izakaya

Website: http://www.masuizakaya.com

Address: Shop B1, 35-39 Liverpool Street (corner of Liverpool and Dixon Street), Sydney

Phone: (02) 9261 3011

Opening hours: Mon to Fri and Sun 11:30am to 11:30pm, Sat 5pm til late

Accepts MasterCard and Visa only for bills over $30

Australia, Sydney, Sydney - Inner City

Devon on Danks

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Late last year, the infamous Devon Café in Surry Hills opened another café in the hip suburb of Waterloo, called Devon on Danks. We tried their food at the end of last year, and had fond memories of the food. So on a gloomy Easter Monday, we went back to this café to try to relive our previous pleasant experience.

We arrived at the café around noon, and there was already a line waiting outside. We waited for around 15 minutes, which was a reasonable time to wait.

We requested to sit on a table outside the café, and when we sat down on the table, we noticed that the table was not cleaned at all, with food scraps left from the previous diners. Two wait staff came by, one to give us the menu and cutlery, and one to take our orders, but both failed to clean the table for us. We were forced to clean the table ourselves with the serviettes that were given to us. Not a great start. Tsk tsk…

We ordered a coffee each to start our meal, and the coffees were pretty standard. We then proceeded to order three plates to share.

Since we already tried their infamous Breakfast with the Sakuma’s ($25) previously, we order three dishes that we have not tried before.

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Spanner Crab Pasta ($28)

This was a homemade egg yolk pasta, with spanner crab, cherry tomatoes, garlic and parsley. There were also some beans thrown in which provided a good textural contrast to the other ingredients. The taste of this dish was unfortunately very one dimensional – full of tomato flavours and lacking in flavours from the crab and other ingredients. It has failed our expectations.

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Dr Seuss’s Green Egg and Ham ($20)

This dish consisted of thick cut bacon, crispy potato, 63 degrees egg, green tomato ketchup, pea puree, soy beans, pea tendrils and jus. The green eggs were soft and silky and nicely flavoured. However, the rest of the dish was not as enjoyable. The potato was crispy but overly salty making it inedible. The bacon had a good smoky flavour but was again overly salty. Dr Seuss’s words seems appropriate to describe this dish:

“Do you like green eggs and ham?

I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

I do not like green eggs and ham.”

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The Manny P Burger ($19)

This burger was filled with annatto spiced fried chicken fillet, chilli mayo, fragrant herbs and pickles, with a side of chips. The chips were thickly cut, crunchy and well-seasoned. The burger was delicious as the chicken fillet was juicy and soft and the mayo provided a good kick to the burger. The fresh pickles and herbs provided some light refreshing flavour and contrasted well with the spiciness from the chicken and mayo. A nice dish.

Overall, this experience at Devon on Danks was a disappointing one. Our pleasant memories from our previously experience has now been shattered. We were so unhappy with two of the dishes that we did not even want to order their infamous desserts, Danks-in-Donut ($7) or Cronnies ($6.50). Maybe we were just unlucky by going to this café on the wrong day, but this experience has really questioned us whether we should ever visit this place again.

Devon on Danks on Urbanspoon
Devon on Danks

Website: http://www.devoncafe.com.au/

Address: 2 Danks Street, Waterloo, Sydney, NSW 2017

Phone: (02) 9698 7795

Opening hours: Mon to Fri 8am to 4pm, Sat to Sun 8am to 3.30pm

Accepts MasterCard, Visa and American Express (for purchases over $10, with surcharge for Amex)