Australia, Sydney, Sydney - CBD, Sydney - Inner City

Orto Trading Co

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Orto Trading Co is a cafe situated in the quieter part of Surry Hills.  The cafe’s name, “Orto”, means “kitchen garden” in Italian.  The use of glass panels around the cafe, allowing natural light to permeate inside the cafe, makes the place look like a living greenhouse.  The theme is enhanced by having herb pots on the outside, and the placement of various plants and gardening tools on the inside.  The simple wooden furniture, with an exposed brick wall, gives the cafe a simple, down-to-earth vibe that is welcoming and inviting.

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Arriving here on a cool Saturday morning, the inside of the cafe was already full, so we sat outside on one of the tables.  The lack of heaters on the outside proved to be an issue, as we were quite cold from just sitting there.

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Southern Fried Chicken Bene ($18) – Orto’s English muffin, hollandaise

The star of this dish was the chicken – crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with nice seasoning and a good kick from the use of chilli powder in the marinade.  However, the rest of the dish was underwhelming – the muffins were too sweet and dry and did not compliment the chicken, while the eggs were overcooked and the texture was too dry.

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Brekky Joe ($16) – last night’s chilli beef, bacon, fried egg and brioche

Pure comfort food suitable for brekky after a big night out, the dish was dominated by the flavour of baked beans.  We expected more of a spicy kick to come from the chilli beef, and we had to add some Tabasco to achieve the spiciness that we were looking for.  However, the bacon was crispy and enjoyable.

 

Overall, this seems to be a nice place to hang for a long brunch, but their food was only “so-so” in our opinion.  Maybe we should have tried their vegetarian dishes instead.

 

Orto Trading Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Orto Trading Co

Website: http://www.ortotradingco.com

Address: 52 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills

Phone: 0431 212 453

Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 7am to 4pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8am to 3pm

Accepts all major credit cards

Australia, Sydney, Sydney - CBD, Sydney - Inner City

Chicken Institute Part 2

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After the horrific experience at Chicken Institute two weeks earlier (which we have posted here), we went back to the place to try their infamous chicken.

This time, we made a booking in advance, and when we got to the restaurant, we found the place to be empty.  There were no people waiting, and there were empty tables everywhere.  Maybe other people had the same experience as us last time and decided it was not worth the wait or hassle.

We noticed that this time around, they had an extra wait staff serving the customers.

Looking at the menu again, we noticed that the choice of drinks were very limited.  Jono wanted to order a soft drink, but we were told that soft drinks were not available individually, and we had to order one of the Fizzy Sodas on the menu (which ironically were made from soft drinks).  The cost of a Fizzy Soda was $6.

Now onto the food.

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Steam bun – eggplant schnitzel, chipotle dressing and tangy cucumber ($6 each)

The eggplant was very crispy with a good kick of spiciness and smokiness from the dressing which was immediately soothed by the cold sweet cucumber.  However, the bun was not as soft and fluffy as expected, and the bun seems to be a tad undercooked.

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Spicy cucumber kimchi ($7)

The use of fresh ingredients was evident in this dish, with a good spicy taste complimenting the fresh vegetables.  However, at $7 for a small bowl, we felt this was a bit overpriced.

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Damn good fried garlic chicken – garlic caramel glaze, garlic chips, lime ($24)

The exterior of the chicken was very tasty with nice garlic flavour and the use of the small pieces of garlic chips enhanced the flavour of this dish.  The chicken flesh was soft and nicely seasoned.  A nice dish.

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Damn good sticky chicken – sweet, spicy, sticky sauce, crushed peanut, shallot ($22)

The chicken was marinated in a very unique style, resulting in all pieces of chicken being marinated on one side only while the other side was not marinated.  The chicken was cooked to perfection.  The sauce was very different from any other sauces we have tried in Korean restaurants and the sweetness and spiciness of the sauce struck a good balance.  The peanuts added a complexity to the flavour of the dish.  Tasty!

 

Overall, the chicken dishes here were very good, and the side of radish that accompanied each bucket serve of chicken was a nice touch.  However, the standard of the chicken here is not that much better than a number of other Korean places in Sydney, and we would not be waiting in line for the chicken if we ever find ourselves here again with a long busy line of customers.

 

Chicken Institute Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chicken Institute

Website: http://www.chickeninstitute.com.au

Address: 61 Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills

Telephone: (02) 8095 0166

Opening hours: 5pm to 10pm, Tues to Sun

Accepts MasterCard and Visa (minimum spending amount applies)

Australia, Sydney, Sydney - CBD, Sydney - Inner City

Chicken Institute Part 1

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We have heard so much good things about the chicken at this place so on a cold winter Tuesday night, we decided to visit this place to try out their infamous chicken.  Due to the unusual events which unfolded, we will set out in a time line format of what we have experienced at this place that night.

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7.45pm – We arrived at the restaurant.  We noticed that the space was very small and it was already overcrowded.  The interior was simple, with wooden shelves, wooden floor boards and a counter made of galvanized iron, which gave the whole place the look and feel of a chicken barn.  We were asked if we had booked (which we had not) and were told that apart from another couple who were waiting in front of us, we would be after them.

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7.45pm to 8.15pm – As we were standing near the entrance to wait, we noticed how close we were in proximity to the people who were dining.  There were no room for people to stand and wait.  Within half an hour, there were over 10 people waiting for a table.  We noticed that the service seem very chaotic, and customers were complaining of wrong orders and slow service.  There were only two wait staff servicing more than 30 customers.

8.15pm – We were asked whether we minded sitting in the back area, which we happily agreed.  The back area was an open courtyard, with minimal lighting.  There was one big table and one small table, which would sit about 10 people maximum in total. It was quite cold and chilly in the area and there was only one heater there.

8.15pm to 8.45pm – No wait staff came to take our orders, despite us requesting them to do so on several occasions.  We also requested someone to fix the heater as the heat was quickly diminishing.  Again, no one was able to assist.

8.45pm – Finally, one of the wait staff came to take our order.  We ordered two chicken dishes, along with some side dishes, and two drinks.  Despite the freezing night, we were looking forward to the taste of their infamous incredible chicken.

8.45pm to 9.15pm – We heard yelling from the kitchen between the chef and the wait staff.  They were arguing in Korean which seem to relate to the wrong orders.  The screaming was quite loud, and was piercing through an otherwise quiet night in the back courtyard.

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9.15pm – The first drink arrived.  As we were already so cold from sitting in the back with the heater not working properly, we didn’t really touch the icy drink.

9.15pm to 9.45pm – We were still waiting for food and the second drink, and we were becoming more and more hungry.  It had been more than 2 hours since we set foot in the restaurant and we were still unable to taste any food.

9.45pm – Being cold and hungry, we decided to tell the wait staff that we were no longer willing to wait any more, as we were shivering and starving.  The wait staff enquired with the kitchen and allowed us to cancel our orders and leave.  They were also apologetic for our experience.  However, before we left, we were still asked to pay for the drink that was on our table which amounted to $6.50.   As we were leaving, we heard some customers on another table complaining about the level of service to one of the wait staff.

We left the place cold, hungry, angry and disappointed.  We were baffled as to how a restaurant is able to be run like this.  Even if the chicken is amazing and out of this world (which we would never know unless we return to try them), their service (or lack thereof) will be a major impediment to anyone returning to this place.

We actually went back two weeks later and tried the chicken.  Read our post here.

Chicken Institute Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chicken Institute

Website: http://www.chickeninstitute.com.au

Address: 61 Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills

Telephone: (02) 8095 0166

Opening hours: 5pm to 10pm, Tues to Sun

Accepts MasterCard and Visa (minimum spending amount applies)

Australia, Sydney, Sydney - CBD

Sokyo Ramen Pop Up

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Ramen lovers, please take note.  The famed one-hatted Japanese restaurant, Sokyo, has opened up a ramen  pop up store in the food court of the Star.  This pop up store will be in operation until the end of November.

Arriving here on a Saturday night, there was a long queue, but the service was efficient and quick.  However, we observed some tension between the service staff taking orders and the kitchen staff who sometimes mixed up the orders.

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Mai-San’s Fried Chicken ($9) came with a few pieces of marinated sake soy chicken karrage served with spicy mayo with a side of mixed green with yuzu dressing.  The chicken was nicely fried and well seasoned, which was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  There was a nice kick from the spiciness of the mayo to the chicken.  The mixed green vegetables added a refreshing touch to the dish.  A very enjoyable dish.

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There were four styles of ramen to choose from, and each bowl came with a nori sheet stuck to the side of the bowl, which had the name of the store imprinted.

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Kyoto Shoyu Ramen ($15) was a chicken dashi, pork backfat, soy sauce kaeshi, pork cheek chashu, marinated egg, nori, noodle soup.  The noodles were cooked perfectly in an “al dente” style. The broth was delightful, with subtle flavours of saltiness from the soy and the sweetness from the chicken dashi, with little bits of pork backfat scattered in the broth adding extra flavour.

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Gyokairui Tonkotsu Ramen ($15) was a pork, chicken & seafood dashi, pork cheek chashu, marinated egg, nori, sesame seeds, black fungus noodle soup.  The noodles were again cooked perfectly.  The broth was a bit more rich, with a nice smoky flavour adding to its complexity, but it was lighter and not as rich and heavy as the broths of tonkotsu ramens in other places.  We actually prefer the lighter broth here – with its complexity of flavours expected from a tonkotsu broth, but without the heaviness of the overloaded collagen or fat that we tend to see in other places.

The pork cheek chashu in each bowl of ramen was lovely, and the eggs were cooked to perfection although they seem under-marinated.

We highly recommend anyone who loves ramen to check out this place before the end of November when they are scheduled to be closed.  Even if you are not into ramen, you should check it out to savour the amazing flavours from the broth of the ramen.

Sokyo Restaurant - The Darling at the Star Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sokyo Ramen by Chase Kojima

Website: http://www.star.com.au/sydney-restaurants/casual-dining/Pages/Pop-Up.aspx

Address: The Star Cafe Court, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont

Opening hours: Sunday to Monday, 11:30am to 9pm; Tuesday to Thursday, 11:30am to 10:30pm; Friday to Saturday, 11:30am to 11pm.  Expected to be closed at end of November 2015.

Accepts MasterCard, Visa and American Express (surcharge applies for all cards)