Monday, August 26, 2013

Gelato Messina, Darlinghurst

Previously, I wrote about my brother B's birthday dinner at Ume Restaurant (link) and what's a birthday without a cake? Being only 17, the inner kid in him can't seem to get away from ice cream cakes. We had a couple of options to pick from, the ones from Baskin' Robins, Ben & Jerry's.. But we decided on Gelato Messina instead just because their gelato cakes are not decorated with cream. There's just something about the cream on cakes that really annoys me to death. Anyway, so we took a long slow walk to their Darlinghurst store to pick up a cake after looking it up their website (link).

Because B's birthday was ages ago in May, it was still autumn then and I managed to snap some photos of trees that are about to shed. Just gotta love autumn for the postcard-like photos #seriously.

We walked past this cafe on Palmer Street which caught my eye, loving the ceiling to floor glass panel doors #anotherseriouslymoment. 

We arrived at Gelato Messina and  met with their doors shut on us #boohoo, it was only after I googled their opening hours that we realized that they start at 12pm. So we got to walk around for a bit and decided on Forte' Cafe for some food, which I did a photolog on (link). 

Slightly before noon, we made our way back to Gelato Messina and hooray, they were opened! Pardon the nasty shots, I was in a hurry because I had to get myself to the airport before noon to meet with a long-time friend #badplanning. We actually looked up their website to see what sorta flavours of gelato cakes they offer and decided that we were to get one of their gelato cakes and one of their monoporzione. Seriously, we were spoilt for choices. The cakes looked so yummy, we wished we could have gotten all of them. But no, in our opinion their gelato cakes were pretty pricey, ranging from $20 to $90, while their monoporziones were slightly cheaper at about $10 each. 

The last I checked, they had new monoporzione flavours while the older ones had to go so you may not see the flavours that are featured here. I didn't managed to try all of the older flavours but I guess I'll never get that chance again. 

Two of their gelato cakes featured here - Dr Evil's Magic Mushroom (top) (link) and Tiramisu 'Smash) (bottom) (link). I reckon Dr Evil's Magic Mushroom is really a classic Gelato Messina cake, just look at how cute it is! It will definitely be talk of the town to be able to celebrate a birthday with this cake, but alas it was pretty pricey at $85. 

So we picked their Mini Me (I believe it was $9.90), which was the miniature version of Dr Evil's Magic Mushroom (unfortunately they don't sell Mini Me anymore) and a bigger Hazelnut Zucotto ($28) (link).

And nope, this isn't optical illusion. Our Mini Me came like it was toppling over and we didn't notice it till we decided to take it out for candle lighting. If you refer to the picture above, which displays some of their Mini Me, you can tell there are a couple which weren't standing very well. It was a pity really, it doesn't look as cute slouching and I'm not sure if that affected the taste of it. We didn't enjoy the Mini Me as much. The entire "cake" was made up of Dr Evil's gelato, with caramel and peanut butter cookie, also with a layer of flourless chocolate sponge cake to surround the gelato (refer to this link for a pictorial description of the cake). I felt the entire "cake" was a tad too bitter. There was nothing sweet about this cake, other than the popping candy crushed with biscuits. Despite it being a single serve, it was enough to share among the three of us just because we didn't quite like the overall taste of it. Nonetheless, it was interesting to have this Mini Me for phototaking.

We decided to have a bigger gelato cake as well because one Mini Me wasn't enough to justify as a birthday cake. We chose Hazelnut Zucotto ($28 for a small serve) which had a mixture of chocolate and hazelnut gelato (refer to this link for the pictorial description of the cake). This was amaaaazing! Despite it not being as fancy as the mushroom cake, this was indeed a better choice because of the combination of flavours and us wanting more. There are hazelnut gelato and gianduia gelato, which was a perfect match. It's like having chocolate with hazelnuts in it, who doesn't like that combination? The gelato was light enough that we didn't feel that guilty for already having so much food and of course, it left us wanting more. I highly recommend this, even though it doesn't have an outstanding appearance. 

We had another birthday celebration last month for K. Him being a big kid himself, he wanted to have ice cream cakes too and where else to get some but Gelato Messina!? We didn't wanna have too big a cake this time (also because we didn't have space in our freezer), so we picked two of their monos. It was also this time that we discovered they changed out their mono menu, so we were left to pick their newer flavours as much as we really wanted to try their older flavours, like Bitty Bitty. 

One of the mono that K picked was their Gula Melaka ($12), which had gula melaka (aka palm sugar) gelato, rosewater praline fudge, hazelnut feuilletine and raspberry gele (link). I was particularly attracted to the flavours of gula melaka and the hazelnut feuilletine. I imagined the sweetness within the gelato and the texture of the feuilletine, which sounds like perfect. But nay, it was far from it. The raspberry gele was way too sour that it doesn't balance with the sweetness of the palm sugar gelato - pity. We didn't enjoy this at all, despite it being a rather refreshing taste. And $12 for this tiny piece? Money is better spent elsewhere. 

Another interesting flavour we decided on was Pop Porn ($10) - wildflower honey gelato, gianduia gelato, dark chocolate fudge and caramelized popcorn. This one looked fancy on their website (link), but somehow it looked really different from what we had even though ours gave way a little. The spilling chocolate fudge wasn't meant to happen but it did, which made it look ugly as a cake. Oh well. 


I like the soft texture of this cake, which resembles slightly like a fondant. You pierce a spoon or fork into it and the chocolate innard just spills out like no one's business. There are caramelized popcorns at the base of the mono as well, which makes it difficult to cut through. Unfortunately, the honey in the wildflower honey gelato was so faint that I couldn't even detect any honey in it. Everything about Pop Porn was sorta ruined by the chocolate fudge because of its bitterness. 

If there is one thing I am allowed to pick on, I would definitely say the packaging. No dry ice was given to ensure that the cake doesn't wither. You'd have to bring your own cooler bag if you're walking, or.. just bring a cooler bag no matter what or you'll end up in a sorry state like we did. It's also a pity that the monos are becoming increasingly pricey for their size. I may end up buying the gelato cakes rather than the monos the next time, but I don't think I can resist the idea of trying more flavours rather than having more quantity of something. 

Gelato Messina (website)
Shop 1/241 Victoria Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Opening times - Sun-Thu: 12pm to 11pm / Fri-Sat: 12pm to 11.30pm

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Yok Yor Thai Food Factory, Haymarket

The initial plan for this post was meant to just be a photolog (where I just put up a couple of photos with minimal words, for reasons like the lack of memory or information). The reason for that was because I either lost some photos, hence wasn't able to write a detailed entry on my visit to the restaurant, or I was too hungry I actually forgot to snap some photos which will eventually lead to the former excuse. But thankfully, I managed to grab some photos off my dinner partner-in-crime, which explains why some photos are different in colour and filters (I tend to only use filters only when photos come from a phone rather than a proper camera). So, lucky me will actually get to put my memory to good use!

The restaurant in topic today is Yok Yor Thai Food Factory in Haymarket. I walked past Yok Yor countless of times, but it's always a wrong timing when I do. They are located on Castlereagh Street, which is away from the usual Thai street (aka Pitt Street). Whenever I do walk past Yok Yor, it's always the after-dinner walk that leads me there, or late in the night when having supper really isn't an option. Also, Thai food is always a challenge for me. I can't take too spicy food that kills all my taste buds because I'll end up with a sore throat and swollen lips. Sexy much? Yok Yor has a really interesting concept of a food factory, the people working in there are in overalls and it's very much like a construction site! They reminded me of the minions in the movie Despicable Me, how cute.

We needed some drinks to start with, so we ordered Thai milk tea and Thai black coffee. Both drinks are at $3 each, which is the cheapest I've ever had. I liked how the milk tea isn't too sweet with too much condensed milk in it, and surprisingly I liked their black coffee too! I'm not an espresso person, so anything black is not my taste. But their coffee, oh my, it's not too bitter and there is this sweetness within its bitterness. Is there a recipe to make this? I totally need to get my hands on them, yum! The drinks also came in handy with an impeding spicy experience, read on!

The entree we picked was the gai hor bai teuy ($6.20 for 4 pieces). They are fried marinated chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, which wasn't quite I imagined it to be. Think Cantonese style glutinous rice wrapped in pandan leaves, that is what I thought it'd be. However, this was a good pick. The chicken was so well marinated - no dryness in the meat, juice flowing out with each bite you take.. Hahaha, I reckon calling it juice is very adequate because it's not sauce and it's flowing out of the chicken! You can actually eat the pandan leave if you like. I've tried both - the first try without the leave, the second piece with the leave on. I prefer the chicken without the leave though, just because barbecued leaves are a tad difficult to tear/bite apart. 

Because of my slight obsession with boat noodles, we had to order the pork kuay teaw rua ($4.90 for small bowl).  It is a traditional rice noodle soup in brown both - the broth contains cinnamon, star anise and occasionally pork blood. There are meatballs, vegetables and pork lard in this boat noodle soup, which is awesome. For $4.90, I can't really complain about anything except that it was way too spicy for me. I could sense the flavours in the soup broth, which was really fragrant, but I could hardly taste much of it. That was a major disappointment, but I would recommend it if you could go past the spice level. 

Another challenge was posed. Being huge fans of pad prik khing, we needed to try Yok Yor's version to see if this could fight against our favourite at Satang Thai. Pad prik khing ($14.50) - which was pork belly tossed in red curry paste, green bean and lime leaves. We have had PPKs in other Thai restaurants, some do it well but was served with raw green beans while some were way too spicy. This was it. Yok Yor's PPK was way too spicy that even K couldn't take more! We packed the remainder home and tried to cook it with heaps of sugar, but that didn't help at all. So, try it at your own risk! Otherwise, I remember the green beans were cooked and the pork belly was crisp. Nothing to fuss about except that I can't even rate it because I couldn't taste it at all. 

We made a right decision in ordering their goong ob woonsend ($14.50), which was glass noodles tossed in soy sauce with braised king prawn in a hot pot. This was absolutely delicious, given that we had some major trauma done to our taste buds in the previous dishes. Having said that, the glass noodles were a tad too soggy and wet that they stick together, so they end up in clumps. Otherwise, the wok taste is sufficient and it was flavourful (finally something we can taste well!). The prawns were a little tough but still juicy though. Not a must-try, but I reckon it's worth trying!

By the end of our spicy trauma, we needed a really light dessert to comfort our taste buds so we decided on their Thai tea ice cream with sweet potato ($5.90). This ice cream is made from Thai milk tea, which was truly comforting on my raging tummies. It was light, not to sweet, which was exactly like how their Thai milk tea tastes like! The addition of sweet potato was a tad weird to me, but it creates a slight crunchy texture to the ice cream which is a nice touch. It's like having bubble tea with pearls ;) 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The French House, Waterloo

I've been feeling like a parent since the beginning of this year. My brother B is here in Sydney for school and I became his guardian. I remember bringing him to school for orientation on the first day and it was overwhelming. All the other parents who attended the orientation were real parents, whereas I was just a fake and probably looked like one of them (the students). I just couldn't wait to leave the school before I was mistaken to be one of the students #phew.

My duty as a guardian included collecting the result report. Hence, I had to make a trip down to the school and also had the chance to walk around Waterloo area. We were in search of a good cafe where we can sit, chat and eat. We walked passed The French House, which looked really fancy and classy and decided this is it. The interior was all Parisian like, with antique-like seats and round wooden tables. You have to order at the register, so if you meet a brunch/lunch crowd then you gotta be prepared to be standing for quite a bit.

My chamomile tea came in this metal serving tray! Somehow, I felt like Belle from Beauty and the Beast all of the sudden, except that my teapot and tea cups can't sing and dance around. However, that entire tray was way too huge for our mini round tables, despite having two stacked together. 

We ordered french toast, which was served with bananas and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately, the french toasts were really bland even though the choice of bread was a perfect one to make french toasts. Also, it would have been heaps better if the bananas were caramelized rather than served as is. 

It was really difficult to decide what else to have because the menu was only available at the register. When it gets to your turn, you will have the cashier waiting for your order and the line behind you waiting to order so it is stresses quite a bit. A regrettable decision was to have their chocolate croissant.  

Despite the pastry being really thick, it will be perfectly fine if there was sufficient amount of chocolate innards to go along. But no. Looking at the photo below, you can already tell we didn't enjoy this very much. 

The fruit and chocolate tarts they have on display looked really yummy, but we didn't make it to have some of them mostly because we were not satisfied with what we had. Apart from the ordering system, the food also took ages to come. Perhaps, if we ever walk by The French House again we'll have their tarts to takeaway, but otherwise, we probably wouldn't return. 

The French House (urbanspoon)
1 Danks Street
Waterloo NSW 2017

Friday, August 2, 2013

Photolog: Forte' 40 Cafe, Darlinghurst

We were gonna go to Gelato Messina to pick up a gelato cake, but didn't realize that they weren't gonna be open till 12noon. So we wandered around and chanced upon Forte Cafe and decided to have brunch there.

They seem to be called a different name online but look up the address (at the bottom of this post) if you wanna be sure!

Forte 40 (facebook)
277 Victoria Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Home Cafe (Chinatown), Sydney

Happy August, everyone! August is a month of celebration for me because my birthday falls in this month (yay to good food!) and so are the birthdays of my sister A and my brother E (psst, we share the same birthday). I'm hoping this month will be filled with more happiness and less worries and gloominess.

Anyway, back to the review!

When renovations were going on last year, we got excited when they spotted the Home Thai logo on the outer wall! You know, the one with yellow diamond and the word "home" in it. We got excited because 1) it was something familiar, 2) it should most likely be a place with heaps of good food and 3) could it be something different from the usual Home Thai restaurants?

So finally, we managed to bring ourselves to Home Cafe after feeling really hungry and not knowing what to eat. It was no doubt that they were managed by the same group/owners, given the menu, the food and of course, the name. Home Cafe is a two-level restaurant, with an interesting concept to it. They have the rustic sort of furnishing which I love, so it felt really cosy and chill. We were then given the menu, which were essentially the same stuff offered by Home Thai restaurants - we were kinda disappointed.

We had lunch at around slightly after 3, so it wasn't crowded at all. Though we were disapopinted with the menu, we went ahead with our order because we were just so hungry and it didn't take too long for our thai milk tea and thai iced coffee to be served.

We ordered two mains and one entree to share! Sorry this photo is a little warped, I reckon I was trying out the panorama function on my phone :/

For entree, we ordered the duck spring roll ($9.90 for 6 pieces), which was roast duck wrapped with pickled cucumber, pickled carrots, cabbage, coriander, sweet basil and mint and they were served with black bean sauce. 

I remember seeing this on the menu at Home Thai Sussex St, but never got the chance to order it because everything else looked better. The duck rolls were refreshing with the inclusion of mint, but otherwise this was slightly disappointing. It was a tad dry and it would score so much better if they added the black bean sauce in the roll instead, rather than smearing it across the plate. 

One of the mains we had was pad thai woon sen ($9.90) - wok tossed vermicelli with soft tofu, egg, pickled radish, garlic chives, bean sprouts, chilli powder, tamarind sauce, palm sugar and fish sauce. I chose the option to have vegetables since we ordered a duck roll and beef curry. I eat very little spice and this killed way too much taste buds than I ever liked. I didn't think it was this spicy when I ordered it, but I can't fault them either. I should have placed a special order for one without chilli powder, my bad. But otherwise, it wasn't too bad a dish if not for the spiciness. Even K who take spicy food pretty well couldn't take it either. So, the both of us can't really say much about this noodles at all. 

The other main we shared was Masamun beef curry with rice ($13.90) - slow cooked beef with Masamun curry paste, coconut milk, tomato, onions, peanuts, topped with fried onions. We had this a couple of times at the main Home Thai branch, so you can say it is a safe choice. The curry is sweet with a tingling spiciness in it, which isn't too overwhelming for me. Despite the small portion, we had difficulty finishing it since we ordered too much food again, but this curry was the best decision in our meal. 

I honestly didn't think the menu will be same for this cafe-style Home Thai. I've read a little about it on Urbanspoon and it seems like they do coffees pretty well. Apparently, they have a wine bar concept coming up, so I'll be sure to wait for that to happen before I visit Home Thai again. 

Home Café (Wine Bar) (website/urbanspoon)
Corner Liverpool Street and Dixon Lane
Sydney NSW 2000