Cafe on Johnston | Annandale

 Cafe on Johnson is a lovely homely cafe serving delicious middle eastern cuisine with some cafe classics as well. It's inviting, warm and a clear crowd favourite for many locals! We met one of the owners, Suzanne who on that day happened to know almost every single customer walking into the restaurant. It was buzzing with people for lunch on Saturday and for good reason because the food here is not only homely and substantial.. but DAMN it is good.

Shakshuka
When shakshuka is prepared right, there isn't another dish that comes close to ticking off all the boxes. Warm, filling and exciting on your taste buds and for this reason Cafe on Johnston's authentic shakshuka is by far the best breakfast/brunch option for winter! Consisting of two free range poached eggs in a hot pot of homemade tomato and capsicum salsa with a very strong capsicum flavour. Served on the side is a generous portion of warm Lebanese bread mixed with pieces that have been fried and extremely delicious hommus (which we will touch on in a second). This is usually served with toasted sourdough in your standard cafe's, but we are glad that we got to taste something new!
Mix Skewer Plate
The mixed skewer plate is full of protein, consisting of Kafta, chicken and lamb fillet. Each piece was as juicy as the next, cooked well and perfectly seasoned. This plate is made to be eaten in union with the side serving of tabbouleh, hummus, babaganoush, on top of warm flatbread. The dips are all house made and soon to be made and supplied online. If you are unable to visit Annandale we STRONGLY recommend ordering some online as this rocked our world. We loved the consistency of the hummus and the bold, citrus flavours of the babaganoush. So much that we asked to take some home (and finished them the same day!). When assembled together with the flatbread, hummus and tabbouleh, it was perfection in your hands.

House made baked beans
Suzanne mentioned that she would be showcasing the house made baked beans and we both looked at each other thinking.. uhoh. It might not sound like the most appealing menu item, especially when the  vast majority of people likely think of the canned "Heinz" baked beans at first thought. Well! No canned beans business here, these are the real deal. What makes them special is that it uses the shakshuka sauce as the base, so all the bold capsicum flavours we described above are present. Aside from the main star, there is a lot going on with this dish.. spicy potato cakes, poached eggs, avocado, bacon and bread to finish. The best way to describe this dish is a deconstructed shakshuka!

 
Tasmanian Smoked Salmon Benedict
We didn't end up tasting this dish because Suzanne had treated us to an absolute feast! We had all the intentions to taste the dish but couldn't in the end. What we did do was poke the poached eggs to see the yolk flow onto the salmon and bread. 

French Toast Delight
WHELP., this was unexpected.
French toast now days is all about the presentation. I feel like very little thought these days goes into the actual taste and in most cases we generally can't finish the whole plate.
This was the complete opposite, we actually finished the whole plate for once - even after the plates of food before us. To our surprise the french toast delight was delightful. The ricotta, berry compote and fresh berries (which were nice and sweet) were the perfect sides for this dish and the bacon was the perfect way to finish. A good balance of sweet and salty!


Cafe on Johnston Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Concept Burger | Wolli Creek

 
Wolli Creek might be known as a concrete playground, housing an oversupply of high rise apartments but it is slowly gaining a plethora of unique restaurants and cafe's; namely Concept Burger. Located only a short stroll from Wolli Creek station, Concept Burger will soon be known as the Burger Central for Wolli Creek locals. Opening with a carefully crafted menu by the founder of The Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal along with Tomislav Martinovic created this mouth-watering burger menu with inspirations from all over the world. The menu also rotates by season and currently we saw burgers from Japan, Portugal, Argentina, Italy, Canada and France. 

It's a quirky, funky and upbeat restaurant that definitely satisfies your burger craving. 

 
Concept Burger Sides
Five spiced fried chicken, house made potato crisps, sweet potato fries and tempura onion rings. 
It is important to compliment a great burger with a tasty side and Concept Burger knows this well. Where do we start? The sweet potato fries are exactly what you need with your burger. They are simple and a slightly healthier version to regular fries. The five spiced fried chicken which is also used on the Chinese burger is served deep fried in batter that has a perfect crunch. The chicken is moist and you are given some very tasty dips on the side, including our all time favourite, the truffle mayo!
If you love onion rings, then the tempura onion rings will have you addicted. It is unlike anything we have tried before and wow.. we are longing for more. The crisp, light batter is unlike a regular onion ring which is usually cased in a thick heavily fried batter. Make sure you eat these quick as tempura is made to eat hot!

 
Canadian Burger 
We love the simplicity of a well though out burger. Most people believe a burger is as simple as a well cooked patty, salad, tomato, onion, cheese in between two buns of any type. This is not entirely the case because what differentiates a good burger from a mind-blowing burger really comes down to three main criteria for us: 1# The patty, #2 the sauce and #3 the bun. The patty is the catalyst of the dish, it either makes it or breaks it and both burgers we tried on the night were perfectly cooked where it was slightly pink on the inside. The buns used were milk buns which gives a really good distribution of bread to beef. What made this burger stand out was the maple glazed bacon. It was delicious but I would've preferred the bacon to be cooked "American style" to give a nice contrasting crisp.

 
Argentinian Burger
The Argentinian Burger caught Matt's attention purely because it offered chimichurri. It also comes with smoked paprika, cheese, grilled eggplant and chipotle chillies. This doesn't normally come with bacon, but we added it because why not! The burger is VERY flavoursome - the chimmichurri sauce had very bold flavours that completely consumed the taste of the patty. Towards the end of the burger, we decided to scrape some of the sauce off and it made it 100% better. This was an insane burger and we recommend tasting it for yourself - just do as we advised and scrape some chimmichurri off and let the patty do all the talking!

 
White Chocolate Mousse
The one and only dessert on Concept Burger's menu is the White Chocolate Mousse, topped with passion fruit, freeze dried raspberries and chocolate cookies with pistachio. This is the type of dessert you want to finish on because it is light, not overly sweet and most importantly you are not left regretting your decision to eat dessert. It leaves a lasting impression and was the perfect way to end the evening. Definitely one of the best desserts we've tried.

Concept Burger  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

East Village | Darlinghurst

 
Who would have thought that hidden right under our nose in the heart of Darlinghurst, was a hidden rooftop gem where you enjoy a drink and a meal under the mood lighting of beautiful fairy lights. East Village Hotel with all the fairy lights, the open space and panoramic views of Sydney make this an ideal romantic dining experience. We felt like we've just visited one of Sydney's most secluded restaurant and bar. It would make the perfect first date, just be mindful that you have to walk up four sets of stairs.. just think of it as a secret passage way to something special. As you are walking up the stairs, look up to see the sign 'you are gorgeous' :)


We started off the night by ordering some drinks to keep us warm on a cold winter night:
Birds of Paradise: A mixture of Havana Club 3anos rum, mixed with regal rogue, wild rose vermouth, rondo aperitivo, passionfruit and crawleys real falerum. The passionfruit make this drink quite sweet, however the alcohol tones the sweetness down quite a lot.
Mulled Cider: Served warm, this cider is perfect for winter. It has a mixture of cider, martel VS cognac, ginger, honey and amaro montenegro. This reminded us of a relaxing warm, ginger and honey tea that we regularly drink at home when we are sick.
Blue Blazer: Another cocktail served warm because it is literally lit with fire! (above). It is a mixture of Martell VS cognac, mixed with triple sec, sugar and orange peel. This is a very strong drink, you could probably even get drunk of sniffing the fumes it is that strong. It definitely is not for the weak drinkers.

Beef Bourguignon
This was our first time trying beef bourguignon so had absolutely no idea what to expect. The serving size is on the smaller size, it might go well with some potato or pasta to give it more context and break up the bold flavours of the beef. The croutons did in fact contribute to balancing out the flavours, but there are only a handful in this dish. That said when you do have a bit of everything on your fork, this is a really well structured dish. The bold, salty flavours of the beef with texture of the mushroom and the hard crunch of the crouton!

Prawn Cakes
The prawn cakes were a complete contrast to the beef. They were quite bland and provided with some sweet chilli sauce for dipping. I can really see these working well on a night out with the boys over some beers, but not really at a cocktail bar.

The Wagyu Burger
Matt just could not resist the temptation of a burger, especially a wagyu beef burger. Needless to say it was quite a mouthful (and a handful), it's definitely not the meal you order on a romantic date!! This thing is LOADED with sauce, from the mayo slaw to the very sweet tomato relish, this burger will have your eyes popping! Served with golden fries, it's nothing fancy but it will keep you grinning.

Zucchini Flower Pesto Pasta
Zucchini flower is a godsend, it really is.. especially when they are wrapped with ricotta, tossed in flour, lightly coated and deep fried. Unfortunately this was what I was hoping for when I noticed the zucchini flower pasta on the menu! When the pasta arrived, I must admit I was a little disappointed but the flavour from the pesto pasta brought back my spirits quickly. The zing from the lemon and the creaminess from the cheese made me a happy girl. Even though it didn't match my misjudged expectations, it was an enjoyable dish nonetheless.

This renovated and redesigned pub is definitely one to visit. The rooftop terrace says it all and we guarantee this place will be a hit in summer!


East Village Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Strings Premium Vietnamese Noodle Bar | Newtown

Strings Vietnamese Noodle Bar has brought authentic Vietnamese cuisine to the Inner West. No longer do you have to travel so far out west to Cabramatta to eat the real deal, just take a train to Newtown Station and a short walk away waits this restaurant that will make you think "What the phở-ck! how did I not know about this?!". We have recently moved out of the Cabramatta area and have been craving a good bowl of phở - we loved Strings Noodle Bar so much that we have been back since to taste their other noodle options.

Aside from the food, what made us really want to come back was Jen and Andrew, the owners of Strings Noodle Bar. They are such a lovely young couple and we literally spent hours talking with Jen. The atmosphere is really casual and we get the sense that they treat all their customers as family, making sure you are comfortable in their restaurant. We can say that this is something we don't often feel, even when invited to dine - so for us to mention this means the service is special!

Lychee shake
We started the night with some drinks, a coconut juice (which is standard for Matt) and a Lychee shake. The lychee shake was very sweet and didn't have that watery texture.

Bún Riêu
This traditional Vietnamese soup was delicious with strong tomato flavour, shrimp paste and OH the crab meat ball was out of this world. It was so soft and juicy! If you like something fresh with a sour kick, this soup would be the best option for you. If you ever visit Vietnam, you are able to find this dish on the streets of Saigon (though it originated from Hanoi). The depth of flavour and cooking technique to make the crab balls is AMAZING.

Phở Bò
Phở has got to be one of our favourite Vietnamese dishes. Simple ingredients which make up simple yet incredibly phở-nominal flavours (excuse the puns). While it is hard to make phở look good in a photo, you have to take our word for the flavour. The Strings Premium difference is the length of time it takes to create the broth. While most restaurants will cook their broth for 8 hours at most, String Premium took it one step further and cooks their phở for a solid 12 hours to make sure all the flavour and nutrients from the ingredients can be tasted. Normally we would be adding hoisin sauce for added flavour, but there was absolutely no need. What you can do however is ask for some fresh chilli. The chilli used is grown by Strings Vietnamese, but originally originated from Vietnamese. We can hold our own when it comes to chilli, but only 4 seeds and the whole bowl tasted like it was on fire!

Truffle Phở
Imagine everything we just described. The fresh, tasty flavours of a 12 hour phở sitting on the bench in front of you. Now imagine what it would taste like if there was truffle infused with the broth. Tasty? You bet! Their latest creation uses the truly expensive ingredient truffle and infuses it with one of their special dishes, the 12 hour Phở Bò. Because truffle is quite expensive, Strings Premium doesn't overdo it with the seasoning, but it gives it quite a unsubtle hint of flavour that slaps you in the face... and we LOVE it!

DIY Vietnamese Mixed Mead Vermicelli Rolls
 Vermicelli rolls are considered a quick go-to for most who are trying to be health conscious during their lunch break. Known to be light and full of salad, they are quite a good option. This dish is more hands on than walking down to the shop and ordering it in a plastic container, this method is how we make them at home. It's hand on and each vermicelli wrap is made to your personal taste. Don't want mint? well don't add it! Served with the platter is Nem nướng (char grilled sesame and garlic pork sausage - don't mind the colour as it is supposed to be pink!), beef and Vietnamese spring rolls. Served with it is pickled carrots, bean sprouts, fresh mint, salad and vermicelli (of course!). Dip the hard sheet of rice paper into warm water and let it soften on your plate, add your ingredients on top and wrap. This is a very simple task, but can be very entertaining for kids and even adults who act like kids! We try to stuff as much filling in as possible.. yes we are still kids! The rice paper rolls are also served with fish sauce for dipping - I suggest you order multiple dishes so you don't fight over the sauce!

Definitely give it a try and let us know what you think. We love this restaurant and have recommended it to friends and family already. We even recently celebrated a family birthday here - we loved it that much!

Strings Premium Vietnamese Noodle Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yebisu Bar & Grill | Chinatown

Japanese Yakitori is nothing new to us, in fact it is one of our favourite treats that take us right back to the heart of Shinjuku. If you haven't already tasted yakitori then we encourage you to try it.

Yebisu Bar and Grill, located in Sydney's China Town has a wide range of Yakitori options to taste. There are well up to 50 different items on the menu, each item you might think is very simple... but the you will surprise yourself when you realise exactly how much flavour there is.

We started the night with some mocktails which were very, very sweet but not sickening sweet so if you have a massive sweet tooth like Matt does, then be sure to order these drinks.

Steamed Gyoza
Gyoza was on our mind, but we really wanted to watch what we were eating. We continued scrolling through the menu and came across steamed gyoza - quite literally a healthier gyoza and all our prayers had been answered! While they had the same great taste of your standard gyoza, it is really tough to not preference a proper pan fried gyoza over these. Just missing the beautiful crunchy base!
For the health conscious who want a little bit more out of their diet then this is a really good compromise!

Kingfish
I've only recently appreciated raw seafood. The fresh taste, texture and balanced flavoured of the kingfish was delicious. The seaweed added that extra crunchy element to the plate. I loved every single piece however some more lemon would be perfect! This would be a great entree for those trying to watch their diet.

Pan Fried Rice Cake
We see these snacks ALL the time when watching Japanese shows/anime (yes - Matt loves anime and is proud of it). But we had always wondered exactly how a ball of rice could taste good. We just had to try it though... surprisingly it wasn't as bland as we had thought. The rice cake has been pan fried which gives it an elegant golden crunch and adds a little bit of flavour. It definitely isn't a meal to run around boasting about, but it is a simple dish with nice and simple flavours.


Yakitori
We ordered a small plate of yakitori (how could we not!) - two separate flavours were chosen, the spring onion wrapped in pork and grilled chicken with a side boiled egg to dip. The spring onion and pork really brought back memories of piss alley in Shinjuku. Bold flavours from the spring onion along with the smokey flavours of the grilled pork just work hand in hand. Highly recommend that you try this skewer! The chicken and boiled egg is a new concept that we tried, with the concept being to dip the chicken into the egg yolk. It was definitely an interesting dish, but not entirely to our liking. The chicken was seasoned and tasted great on it's own and we found the egg didn't really add anything extra.


Miso Ramen
The last dish was shared between the both of us, but it is very much a single person dish. We encourage sharing a main and taking advantage of their various sides. The ramen broth was rich but not overpowering and cluggy. There are other places where the broth is way too thick for our stomach. A perfect way to warm the belly in this weather!

Yebisu Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato