Sunday, 28 July 2013

NomNom: Kabuki Shoroku; Sydney CBD

Located at Clarence Street in Sydney City, is a Japanese restaurant -- that although seems to have a lot of good reviews, somehow didn't quite satisfy me.

The entrance to the restaurant is quite cute, decorated with stone pathways leading to the main dining area. Their waitresses were clad with kimono, busy scurrying to serve tables as efficient as they could.

Kabuki Shoroku offers quite a large number of Japanese dish, including fresh sashimi and sushi. You will not be disappointed for quality. However, having been to a good range of Japanese eateries in Sydney, I found this place is so-so. For the price, you'd get the same good quality and more at Masuya - for example.

We started with Green Apple Shochu ($9.8), a refreshing soft-drink like shochu beverage. Green tea costs $4 per cup and it is free refill.
The Boiled Spinach in Sesame ($8) was very light and tasty, a good appetizer.
I have seen bigger Scampi even in sushi train joints than this one - Scampi Nigiri costs $8. A bit of a disappointment, tasty nevertheless, though it was only as big as a normal king prawn.
Whitebaits tempura costs $14. Again, although tasty, it was a measly one handful of deep fried whitebaits in batter.

One of their specials was various Kushiyaki - grilled meats on sticks - $20 which I really think is way overpriced. Seasoning was minimal and the type of grilled dishes presented had a lot of chicken (1 stick of grilled okra, 2 chicken wings, only one sticks of ox-tongue, chicken, and chicken meatballs).

Their deluxe sushi & sashimi combination costs $62. Selections were tasty, fresh, and yes the boat makes the presentation ultra gorgeous. For the selections presented, not one of the best value though. The rolled inside out sushi was nothing special and very basic. There were no scallops or fresh prawns which I think should be warranted for the price tag.

We were more impressed with Wagyu Beef on Hot Stone ($36). Beautiful melt-in-your-mouth wagyu beef meat, seared to your liking on a hot stone.

(Just don't try to remind yourself that each 3cmx3cm slice of those succulent naturally-sweet bovine is costing you more than $4 individually).

I love love love their dessert tasting plate ($18), consisting of Tofu cheesecake (yummy and not very sweet), Caramel pudding, Mango icecream, Dark chocolate bites, and Green tea tiramisu.

Kabuki Shoroku
Ground Floor, 202 Clarence Street, Sydney NSW 2000
ph: 02 0267 4552

Saturday, 27 July 2013

random: Cendana Spa, Grace Hotel, Sydney CBD

In the midst of busy Sydney CBD, there is a little gem located inside a popular Grace Hotel in York St: Cendana Spa.

It is a massage and body relaxation center, specializing in various body massages, wraps, and scrubs, and also facials. It is not one of those places you normally find in the middle of China Town: small massage shops where usually strong middle-aged Asian ladies would - after their 'massages' - make your bodies more sore than before you stepped into their little joint. Nor is it one of so many Thai massage places where although some masseuse are arguably better skilled, scrimped on their massage oils by using good-old baby oil.

But hey, for the price you paid to get massages in those places, baby oils are justified.

Cendana Spa is a proper pampering and relaxation centre. You'd pay more moola than the ordinary massage places, but we always go to Cendana whenever we need pampering for special occasions (this time, it was 1/2heart's birthday).
They have a lot of treatments available, using some of the best and natural blends of their own. Their blends used for their massages and body treatments consists of pure essential oils and other exotic herbs and ingredients.

From the moment we were greeted by their receptionist and stepped into the waiting room, it felt like we had been transported into a traditional spa in Bali or Thailand. From the beautiful sculptures, carved doors, and soft songs playing in the background, it is hard to believe that the place is located in busy Sydney City.

They served herb tea in the lounge/waiting room, where we also had to chose our massage oil preference.

We booked for the couple room, a beautifully appointed spacious room with two massage beds set up.

The room is also equipped with a large stone bath, used if you opted for one of their bath treatments (e.g. milk bath).

We began with foot soak, then aromatherapy massage (we both chose muscle relieve blend) followed with body scrub for me, and body wrap for my other half. Our therapists were skilled; and my therapist in particular, was a gorilla in disguise of petite cute Asian young lady (I like my massage firm, and boy did she deliver firm.)

1 1/2 hour later, we were so in a daze and felt so relaxed. We walked out of Grace Hotel and faced hustle and bustle of busy city streets again, leaving this sanctuary behind.

Cendana Spa
The Grace Hotel
Level 1 / 77 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
ph: 02 9299 8948

Sunday, 21 July 2013

NomNom: Sauce Bar & Grill; Coogee // Random: Aroma Festival 2013; The Rocks

It has been over a year since we last visited Sauce, a modern Australian restaurant that when it first opened a few years back, claimed to be competing with Hurricane's infamous ribs.

And rightly so. We remember that when we used to frequent dining there, their steak and ribs were not subpar compared to the latter-more-famous restaurant chain. But as we haven't been to Sauce for quite some time, it was also a pleasant surprise to know that their food's still as good.

1/2heart received an email invitation for a complimentary main course to dine in the month of July - because it is his birthday month. (We subscribed to their newsletter since years ago when we used to be frequent diners there, and we still receive updates and offers). So, it was a perfect opportunity to revisit the place for our carnivorous-fix.

Specials and Appetizers menu board

There were hardly anyone when we came for lunch.

1/2heart ordered Crispy Skinned Atlantic Salmon (which he chose as his complimentary course), and I had half-portion of beef ribs.

One word: Yum!

Salmon was cooked to absolute perfection, skin was crispy and the middle was pink and soft.

Although I have tried their pork ribs numerous times before, this was the first time I've ever had their beef ribs. for a half portion, it was a decent size. And their homemade chips served as accompaniment to the ribs were so crispy & flavorsome.

'SauceNo5' - a Bacardi based cocktail

Sauce is located close to Coogee beach, providing nice surroundings to burn those calories intake you just could not help to digest.
Today was a bit windy, but weather was absolutely pleasant.

Sauce Bar & Grill
2A/29-31 Alfreda St, Coogee
02 96647550

Afterwards, we headed to the city - The Rocks, for Aroma Festival. It is an event emphasizing on all things coffee.

There were a lot of pop-up coffee shop, complemented with The Rocks Market that is usually only open on Saturdays. The Rocks Market showcases a lot of handmade products and there are also a lot stands serving food and snacks.

look at these cute cupcake-candles. So creative.

Needless to say, we ate more -_-

'chocolate pop' - we chose blood orange & dark choc champagne. 

this one was meh...
We did try a few coffee although we both are not much of coffee drinkers (on the other hand, I am quite a tea-nazi. I drink probably over 2 liters of green tea everyday). Most of the coffee stands had crazy long queue, so we only got to try a few.

Love this shop and its coffee slogans:

From 'coco', we ordered a brioche with hazelnut gelato - served sandwich style. ($8)

But I like this one so much better: Affogato with hazelnut gelato (also $8). Their Affogato is so bitter and strong (love the aftertaste), and combined with the sweetness of the gelato.... mmmm.... yumminess.

We didn't get to try much of the other stands' coffee. We did try a cappuccino from 'the wood roaster' - supposedly selling wood roasted coffee. But the wood-roasting doesn't really alter or add any uniqueness to the coffee. Or perhaps I should have ordered something else from there.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

random & NomNom: Ragu, Sassy's; Westfield Sydney Foodcourt; Magnum Shop

Everytime I need a craving fix for some good Italian pasta, I head to the city, instead of the Italian Forum in Leichardt. What's in the city? Good, hearty, and less expensive pasta (compared to some overpriced mediocre so-called Italian restaurants in the Italian Forum) at Ragu, located in Westfield Sydney (City) Top Foodcourt.

They have several other menus apart from pasta. For the pasta, they have a range of selection: from simple spaghetti to lasagne; from simple napolitana sauce, creamy boscaiola, to pesto.

My favourite is always their pesto sauce. I usually have it with ravioli, but any other type of pasta will be no less delicious. The pesto is gorgeously fragrant with generous drizzle of olive oil, and you could smell and taste the basil quite strongly - just the way I like it.
I guess it is a matter of personal taste, but the last time I ate a pesto pasta at a restaurant in the Italian Forum (which name escapes me as it was not impressive), the pasta costed me $20-ish dollars and the pesto was way too creamy and funnily enough - very sweet. Yuck.
This beautiful pesto ravioli at Ragu costs $14 and well worth the money.

1/2heart had Fried Rice from neighboring Sassy's Red, a tuckshop version of Chinta Ria. For $10, it was OK, but nothing to shout about.

There is a new shop in Westfield Sydney that will put Apple's store to shame in term of length of queue. But this is no gadget store. It is Magnum shop - not Magnum as in the one that could kill/shoot people - but the ice cream.

The Sydney Magnum Shop is located at Level 2 at Westfield Sydney. And holfyeffinGod, you will not have any trouble spotting this one. The queue was shocking.

It took us one hour to reach that Magnum sign

Just a display, don't think they are edible.

The shop creates a Magnum ice cream to your liking. That's right folks, it is custom made (the base ice cream is still the normal white/vanilla magnum though). There are a LOT of selection to adorn your custom made Magnum ice cream with. 

At $7 a pop.
Yep, they don't come cheap.

the toppings that I chose.
So if you paid $7 to create the normal almond/peanuts coated magnum....... ..... dang, you are crazy.

Step 1: choose the base coating for your Magnum: White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, or Dark Chocolate;

Step 2: choose the toppings (4 maximum) for your Magnum. From the traditional different kinds of nuts, to rose petals, goji berries, even rock salt.

Step 3: choose the chocolate for drizzling. Again: white, milk, or dark.

selected toppings put on the base chocolate coating

For the final touch, they put Magnum chocolate buttons (you can choose either dark or white) to adorn your Magnum.

These are ours:

Dark Chocolate base. Toppings: pistachio, crushed chocolate coated coffee beans, goji berries, macadamia. Drizzled with Dark Chocolate

White Chocolate base. Toppings: rose petal, rose praline, dried strawberries, rock sea salt. Drizzled with Milk Chocolate.

The right one was mine. I was determined to make it as pretty as possible, although I am not much of a white chocolate fan. Haha. But adding the rock salt actually was a good decision as it counteract the overlysweetness of the white chocolate base. 

We felt kinda sick afterwards though.... . Usually we could only share one packet of store bought Magnum ice cream between the two of us, as they are very rich. So eating one each today was a bit overbearing for us. After the third bite, we struggled to finish them. :D