Visit Kusuka for a beautiful brunch

Ever since we visited Kusuka’s first cafe in Haymarket, we fondly remembered them for
their amazing bowls, colourful lattes and magical drinks. Although it is in a hidden location, customers flock there to get their Instagram worthy pics and delicious food offerings.

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We were excited to hear they opened a second location closer to the CBD on Sussex St. A much larger space, filled with light, the beautiful styling certainly makes you happy! Long before you’ve even got your meal!

The owner Mario is just delightful. So keen to know his customers, explain the food and really make you feel welcome. One of the most hospitable owners we’ve met.

Their dishes are influenced by their Indonesian heritage and we love their Super Bowl. Mee Goreng is always a winner! Served with pork belly slices, Balinese chilli, Marsh, sausages, corned beef and melted cheese. It’s packed with flavour, the right amount of a chilli kick and extremely satisfying as a brunch option.

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We also were recommended to try the crispy rendang. We all know that rendang isn’t always crispy, but this is a play on a Masterchef episode. The crispy rendang is sitting atop an omelette with some greens, radish and pour that rendang sauce all over it.

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On our last visit, we tried Martabak and we liked it so much, we had this again. Filled with meat and topped with chilli sauce and melted cheese.

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Added to this was a side of fried tofu with some chilli and a side of tamarind sauce which gave it a nice kick.

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Another superb choice has to be the kopi pancakes – a sweet dish that has coffee mixed with the batter and made into fluffy pancakes and served with peanut butter between the pancakes layers and topped with ice cream and maple syrup.

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Alongside this we had a brownie affogato. How amazing is that! Coffee here is also good and a personal favourite of ours is the red velvet latte.

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We thoroughly recommend a visit here for a beautiful brunch in a delightful setting.

Kusuka On Sussex Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Memories in Shanghai – Passionate in Sydney concert

Dragon boat Chinese Restaurant in Harbourside shopping centre, Darling Harbour hosted a VIP event to support and promote the show “Memories in Shanghai – Passionate in Sydney” – the show for traditional music star, Yang Xuejin who is here to bring the sound of folk opera to Australia.

Performing for one night at Star City, on Monday 18th June, Yang Xuejin’s friends and supporters visited Dragon Boat for a celebratory dinner.

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The restaurant was set up for a beautiful dinner, complete with wine and lucky door prizes.

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We started off with an traditional entree: the bbq plate with roast duck, bbq pork, beef shin, and jellyfish.

AAE6C109-9F6A-442D-8842-6990313B82ACWe then shared fried rice, beef and snow peas (that had a wasabi flavour) and mushrooms.

Guests heard from some speakers and a musical performance.

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Dragon boat is the perfect location to host his event, with plenty of space and views of Darling Harbour. Fireworks are also visible as well as the lights of Vivid.

What an enjoyable event to experience and it’s amazing to see how the restaurant supports and showcases China’s fine food, music and culture.

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We were lucky to receive some tickets from the venue to listen to this show.

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Organised by the Australia International Culture Industries Association and held at the Star Event Centre it was a rare chance for audiences in Australia to be delighted with the music of Yang Xuejin.

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Yang Xuejin, hailing from the Yunnan Province, is known for the song “there Is a Beautiful Place”, amongst numerous others. She performed a solo concert of her classic songs.

Extremely experienced, she is a graduate of Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the Professor and master tutor of the Vocal Opera Department there.

She has performed around the world including at the Champs Élysées in France and even in the Golden Hall of Vienna.

Known for singing Chinese folk songs. She performed a number of these songs at her special concert, showcasing her sweet and sincere voice which ha broad vocal range. Some songs were gentle and others quite upbeat and poppy.

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She entertained the crowds and the show was a lovely demonstration of her beautiful voice.

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The orchestra was conducted by first class composer and conductor Tu Bahai. The MC of the event was Wang Yong.

The Shanghai pop music orchestra also showed their talents on the viola, trombone, cello, saxophone and more.

We also heard from the group of Yong Sopranos, graduate students who were also hugely talented.

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Thanks to Dragon boat restaurant for the invitation to dine and tickets for the event.

 

 

 

 

Holy Duck @ Castlecrag

Holy Duck, what a great name for a restaurant! Specialising in Modern Chinese cuisine, and that oh my, that duck. This is what you come for. Castlecrag is the home of the second restaurant of this name, with first in Kensington Street Chippendale.

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The restaurant is located in the shopping square, unassuming from the front, apart from the large lit up sign directing us to Holy Duck. Once inside, the restaurant opens up into a large dining space with the decor of a traditional Chinese restaurant. With large round tables making Holy Duck the perfect place for a group dining experience and the white lined table cloths adding a touch of class. We were here on a Friday night and shared the restaurant with many families and couples sharing a meal together.

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With an interesting mix of interesting cocktails to choose from, a great way to start the meal whilst deciding what to eat. The holy drink is a favourite – an exotic mix of flavours that will refresh you and get the tastebuds ready for the meal ahead. It is made with vodka kaffir lime lychee, ginger and coconut water.

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The food at Holy Duck was absolutely brilliant. The steamed dim sum platter the perfect start. With an assortment of of tasty dumplings including; prawn har gow, vegetable dumplings, chicken sui mai and prawn and chive. These were possibly the best dumplings we’ve had in a long time.

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A revelation was the pink salt and black sesame egg and spinach tofu. An contrast of flavours and textures that will blow your mind. Crisp fried outer crust and soft centre of the tofu combined with the pink salt and sweet toasty black sesame.

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But the show stopper was the signature crispy duck. You can hear the crispiness of the fried duck as you break through the skin to reveal the tender, moist flesh. This will leave you with a slack jaw muttering Holy Duck, we reckon this is how they named the restaurant. This fine specimen served with a make your own pancake kit, complete with julienne cucumber, thinly sliced shallots and hoi sin sauce.

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To finish, you are left with a tough choice do you do dessert and what do you order?
Of course you do and it is a difficult choice. The silky vanilla panna cotta with honeycomb with contrastingly decadent black sesame ice cream. Pretty much like having two desserts in one, perfect if you like to share.

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Be sure to visit Holy Duck, you will be in for a treat. There is a great range of modern and traditional Chinese cusine. The signature crispy duck is a must.

Holy Duck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Andiamo Trattoria @ Abbotsford

Andiamo restaurant initially started in Summer Hill with its ethos as a place where family and delicious Italian food would bring people together. A recipe that appears to have worked, as they opened their second restaurant in Kensington St Chippendale another in Rhodes and Abbotsford, where we were to visit. The Abbotsford restaurant came about with an opportunity allowing them to move in to and take on a space once occupied by another Italian restaurant. Andiamo’s dedication to community and being active in the local area, helping with the transition. This brought in the locals, who have come to love new restaurant, the atmosphere, friendly staff and quality Italian fare.

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Andiamo Trattoria Abbotsford is a lively restaurant with many families enjoying a meal together. The staff attentively seeing to orders and the kitchen busily preparing meals in the prep area surrounding the dome shape of the woodfired pizza oven. 

Drinks wise, this restaurant goes the extra mile,serving beer with a chilled glass. They also have a quality Italian wine selection on offer.

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To start this Italian dining experience, the Arancini was too hard to pass up, a comforting starter and the perfect choice for winter.

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Knowing the pasta is made on site makes for another easy choice. The pumpkin ravioli, with a butter sage sauce seved Parmesan sauce was the pasta special for the evening, a dish with classic flavour combinations. The truffle gnocchi also a classic. The Gnocchi here is  perfectly prepared dumplings served with a rich full flavoured creamy truffle and mushroom sauce, topped with shaved parmesan. 

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On recommendation we went with the spatchcock. No something we would usually order and were we glad that we did. The juicy spatchcock is heroed and served with a herb rub to rave about. We would recommend the recommendation.

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For dessert, we ordered the Zaperetto or fresh Italian doughnuts drizzled with nutella. This dessert will warm your soul on a winter evening.

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Finish the meal with the nostalgic tiramisu a light fluffy sponge soaked with coffee liquor is always a favourite.

IMG_2698Dedicated to quality, you know what to expect when visiting Andiamo Trattoria. Make sure you keep an eye out for their up coming opera dining series, this will be an experience not to be missed.

 

Andiamo Abbotsford

www.andiamotrattoria.com.au

565 Great North Road, Abbotsford NSW 2046, Sydney 2065

02 9713 4502

 

It’s all about the coffee @ ONA

You know the coffee is good when that’s primarily all the café sells! Well, that and a few donuts to keep you from getting peckish. And it’s not really a café as such, more a “coffee bar”.

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Ona Coffee has long been popular in Canberra, with stores at Manuka and they’re already gaining the crowds here in Sydney at Marrickville. It’s clear that coffee is a huge passion for the staff here, headed by Head Barista Issaac Kim.

The venue feels like a pop up store in its décor, but that’s all part of the style. Trendy staff, music pumping, it’s got a fairly hipster vibe.

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Sit at the coffee bar, ask for some advice from the baristas. Whether it’s your typical latte or cappuccino (select your beans), or a filtered coffee (select from the menu options). It seems more like personalised coffee experience here. Sit, chat, sample different types of coffee and find the flavour you like and maybe even purchase your favourite bag of beans to take home.

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They have shortstop donuts, butterbing cookies and also a small menu. We tried the house-cured kingfish smorrebrod with lemon aioli, pickles, capers, boiled egg and rye. It might sound simple, but it looked and tasted incredibly good. I did want to try the rye waffles, but that’s for another time!

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They run coffee training school and also a latte art workshop.

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Pay this place a visit soon.

Ona Coffee

140 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204

Ona Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Panoramic views @Dragonboat Chinese Restaurant

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Dragonboat Chinese Restaurant must have one of the best locations around. Situated on the second level of the Harbourside Shopping Centre, if you get one of the prized seats on the balcony, you can enjoy the panoramic views of Darling Harbour, the Sydney Skyline as well as fireworks on weekends. At the moment you also benefit from the seeing the Vivid lights.

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Classed as fine Chinese/Asian fusion, their menu is extremely extensive and surprisingly not expensive considering its location. Their menu boats traditional Chinese items, as well as specialising in seafood.

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Spring rolls, prawn crackers or Dim Sim (and more) are on offer for the entrée, but we ordered our favourite – Sang Choy Bao, which was super tasty and our waiter served this for us. We felt like VIP’s.

We also had some beautiful boiled handmade pork dumplings, packed with flavour.

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There are plenty of seafood options, from scallops, calamari and prawns to Abalone. The seafood is so fresh, you can see it live as you enter the restaurant. There are even lots of live lobster options.

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We had the stir fried beef with Szechuan sauce, mixed vegetables and fried rice. You can never beat fried rice! This was popping with colour and as tasty as always.

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Poultry, Noodles, Soup, Vegetarian and even a kids menu is available, so there really is something for everyone.

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They do have a private dining room, complete with Chandelier, which you can rent for events, as well as some private balconies. They have a minimum spend and also a set menu ranging from $30-$75 a head.

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I must add that one of the best things about this restaurant is William. William is the manager of this restaurant, and not only is he efficient at his job and an excellent host, his personality is awesome. He loves to crack a joke and in every interaction made our experience enjoyable.

If you’re having an event or even just a weekend booking over lunch, it is highly recommended to book. I have it on good authority that it is booked out every weekend.

Level 2 Shop 445-451/2-10 Darling Drive Harbourside Shopping Centre Darling Harbour NSW 2000

*Special Car Park Rate in Darling Harbour, $16 for 24 hours parking!

Email: info@dragonboatchineserestaurant.com

Phone: (02) 9282 9922 | Mobile: 0432 698 119

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Dragon Boat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Brunch in a terrace @ Paddock on Crown

Have you seen all those pictures of stacked high fluffy pancakes dominating your Instagram feed, and hear them repeatedly calling your name!? Look no further – head to Paddock on Crown to check them out.

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This cafe was taken on about 6 months ago and they’re doing amazing things. We met the lovely Chef Lester, who  who you can see has a good relationship with locals! It’s in a beautiful little terrace house and you can sit on the front balcony, inside or on the back terrace. It’s quaint and homely.

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There’s an amazing peacock painting on the inside wall too.

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The menu has both indulgent and healthy options so we decided to try a few. The pancakes are what everyone is coming for! They are superb – we ordered an extra one and our came the perfect stack of fluffy pancakes with vanilla marscapone, raspberry coulis, whipped maple butter and fresh fruits. We added vanilla ice cream too! But if you prefer ube, that’s an option too. Worth coming just for these, if not more.

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We ordered the corn fritters, which have the same consistency of the pancakes, served with spiced tomato and ginger chutney, roasted pumpkin, poached eggs and radish. A fresh and healthy dish. This one was found on the daily specials menu.

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Also a fan of a baked eggs, we ordered this too. These were so warming on a cold winters day, filled with chorizo, potato and a delicious mildly spicy and flavoursome tomato sauce with a side of Turkish bread, tomatoes, mushroom, bacon and radish.

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They use double roasters coffee,
so we had a latte, cappuccino and also a dirty chai. Coffees were great too.

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The food here is so delicious, and presented nicely too. Service was fast and staff were super friendly. We felt very welcome.

Be sure to visit soon! We look forward to returning for the winter menu!

Casual cafe for a healthy brunch @ The Junction

Conveniently located at the Plaza in Lane Cove, The Junction Coffee Co is a dog friendly cafe with outdoor seating and a substantial menu which you won’t have any trouble choosing from. A small space, but very popular.

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It was formerly Pablo & Rusty’s which could be the reason they serve Pablo & Rusty’s Coffee as well as sell their beans.

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Chef Daniel is extremely experienced, having works all over the world. He’s created a menu with a variety of dishes to suit all diners. They have a hugely instagrammable breakfast degustation, veggie board and French toast to name a few. Food is nutritious, well seasoned, tasty and nicely presented.

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We shared two dishes, the smashed avo with tomato, dukkah, goats feta on ciabatta. So colourful and even healthy.

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It was a cold weekend so we also shared the porridge with cinnamon, cashew nuts, seasonal fruit.

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The coffee is good, using Pablo and Rusty’s beans. We had a mocha as well as a Daintree chai with soy milk + honey – Specialty of the house.

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Staff were lovely and extremely accommodating. This will be sure to maintain popularity with the locals and visitors alike.

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The Junction Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

William Blue – fine dining through hospitality school

We love a fine dining experience and we also love a meal that’s good value. You can get both of these at William Blue Dining.

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You can get a three course lunch or dinner for just $43. At prime location in the Rocks with A class service, you can’t beat that!

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Why is it so cheap? you might ask. It is a hospitality training school run through Torrens University Australia, it offers courses ranging from diplomas to degree. This restaurant is their on the job work experience.

Remember it’s a training school, don’t be hard on the staff. That said, the staff were incredibly attentive and professional and eager to please. The manager was also an excellent teacher and we could hear her guiding the staff with her knowledge and experience on display.

The food can be described as Modern Australian. It’s old school food, showing the techniques learnt in training school that term and plated with finesse. You can also enjoy a glass of beer or wine with your dinner.

55A31AFD-9FAD-4A9F-87EB-303E54A78506We had the beetroot entree, so tasty and beautifully plated, and we also tried the spanned crab, just divine.

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The Roasted Milly Hill lamb cutlets, rillets of lamb showing great care and precision and skill in its plating. It came with lamb shoulder, confit tomato, crispy cauliflower and jus. We had this with a side of roasted veggies.

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The Herb and ricotta gnocchi was absolutely lovely and nicely flavoured with with oyster mushroom, Tuscan cabbage and garden peas.

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After our meal, we were good to try a bit of dessert. We had the pecan pie and the Dark Chocolate delice was nice and smooth, served with burnt white chocolate, a marshmallow whip and a peanut brittle with a bit of Turkish delight too. We loved the marshmallow addition to this dish.

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Ranked 5th on trip advisor, we can see why! It is a high quality dining experience, marvellous food and served in an efficient manner. What a great initiative to give these staff vocational training whilst gaining support and development.

William Blue Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Peking Duck and more @ Quan Jude

Quan Jude is a new Peking Duck Restaurant, located on the corner of George street, in the World Square Complex. It’s a mix between a traditional and modern Chinese Restaurant. Whilst you’ve got traditional menu items served on your lazy Susan, there’s modern decor and a super trendy cocktail bar.

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It is an internationally recognised brand, having begun in Beijing in the 19th century, they have opened their doors in Sydney and Melbourne. Known for their duck and serving over 2 million duck a year. We know why – the duck is superb and the serving demonstration certainly is a spectacle. The chef rolls out the trolley, carves the duck and lays it out in a pattern on a duck platter and serves it with duck pancakes and it’s accompanying sides of shallots, cucumber and soy bean sauce. The duck was nice and juicy and the crispy skin made for a perfect meal to start. For other entrees, the spring rolls were amazing.

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It isn’t just duck though, we were presented with a huge range of dishes to sample. With a Northern Chinese influence, the food was tasty and servings are generous. Some standouts were the salt and pepper flounder, Shrimp fried rice, Australian scallops with salad, King Prawns with vermicelli in a hot pot.

Another spectacle was the Beggars Chicken, complete with a hammer to crush the shell, revealing your chicken inside.

The vegetables were amazing, in particular the mushrooms with carrot and snow peas. The menu here is huge, and you will find it difficult to just select a few!

Drinks wise, we tried two cocktails, my favourite two – an aperol spritz and espresso martini. So you can have it all here – your traditional Chinese food and modern drinks. We were impressed at the quality of these cocktails.

They have splashed out on the interior. It’s a huge space that could seat approx 200 + diners, there’s smaller tables, private dining areas and a bar to perch yourself at. You can also watch the chefs in action. Beautiful themed artworks adorn the walls.

One of the things that made this Chinese Restaurant stand out were the performances taking place in the atrium of the restaurant. There were Bian Lian performances: Chinese dramatic art with colourful costumes as well as an amazing tea pouring ceremony. This really gave Quan Jude a wonderful atmosphere.

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Finish off with a couple of desserts and fruit and you’ll be completely satisfied!

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We enjoyed our dining experience and thank you to Quan Jude for their hospitality. Thank you to Sydney Dinner and Events for the invite and The Society Group for hosting.

Quanjude Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato