Grounds of the City

With an optimistic approach, I didn’t think The Grounds of the City would be that busy as it was brunch time on a weekday but as we turned the corner at The Galeries, TimmyC and I were faced with a large crowd. Luckily most of them were waiting for coffee and takeaways and the line for a table was relatively short. We placed our name and number for a table of two on the list and was advised that there’d be a 20-30 minute wait, 18 minutes later we received an SMS that our table was ready.Walking inside the restaurant was like teleporting back to an era where men would wear hats with suits and would read the newspaper instead of staring at their phones.  There were so many things to look at, I didn’t know which way to turn my head until my gaze was distracted by the cake trolley. Yes, you read that right, you can request the cake trolley to be wheeled to you. I feel it would pair perfectly with a bottomless cup of tea (which is also on the menu).Flat white ($4.00). TimmyC really enjoyed his coffee, I now understand why there was a huge queue outside waiting for takeaway.Black truffle omelette with mushrooms and goats curd ($28.00) plus a side of bacon ($5.00). TimmyC at first had chosen eggs benedict for breakfast which was quickly vetoed by me as I heard about the specials. This choice was so popular, it was sold out soon after we had placed our order. When the server placed the plate on the table, I found the smell of truffles intoxicating. The omelette was perfectly cooked and I really enjoyed the addition of the subtle sourness that the creamy goats curd provided. I loved how ordering a side of bacon meant a plate of bacon rather than just a single rasher- WIN!The Bakery Basket The Grounds continental selection of freshly baked pastries with house-made preserves, cultured butter and whipped mascarpone ($16.00). I thought the delicious flaky buttery pastries didn’t need anything more, so not to waste the delicious condiments, we ordered a slice of sour dough toast ($4.00). I loved everything about this (I even started to just eat the mascarpone when I ran out of things to spread it on) and thinking about it again makes me salivate. The cherry on top was that they warmed the pain au chocolat perfectly to give a molten chocolate centre.So delicious and melty on the inside while being crispy and flaky on the outside.When eating in Sydney CBD, I can tell you where to get ramen, congee, thai stir fries, dumplings and baos, but if you wanted a good brunch spot, I’d be lost for words. The Grounds of the City fills that void and then some. I cannot wait to go back to try more from all parts of their menu and might even stick around for a bottomless cup of tea.

Venue: Grounds of the City

Address: Shop RG 12, 500 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Phone(02) 9699 2235

Website: http://thegroundscity.com.au/
The Grounds of the City Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ryo’s noodles

I experience FOMO a LOT, especially when my cousin and sister are surrounded by ramen restaurants and I am not. So when I was last in Sydney, I headed straight to Ryo’s noodles where both of them had been recently.

We arrived around 1:10pm on a Sunday to be greeted by a short line, I started to panic as they shut at 2pm but the line only took 20 minutes to get through. img_9370Maybe I’ll bring someone who can read Japanese with me next time, I hope this is just the menu in Japanese and that I’m not missing out on something awesome.#1 Tonkotsu ramen in salt flavoured soup with roast pork, shallots and sesame seeds ($13.00). I don’t eat the egg and nori so I wanted the basic ramen; it was easy to order for our table, ‘we will have three number ones please’. In a matter of minutes our order arrived. The broth was magical, the noodles were perfect and so was the tender pork. I really enjoyed the broth because it wasn’t really fatty and thick.Gotta love a broth where you can’t see the bottom of the spoon.Home-made pork bun ($4.50). I couldn’t help but try one of their home-made buns, the bun came out fresh and hot with a soft fluffy texture. The pork filling surprised me because it had a pulled pork texture.  Excuse the mangled mess, I ripped it in half to share with my Mumsy.This place is TINY. I can see why there is a wait, the food is delicious but there also not a lot of space to put many tables and chairs.We were in and out in 22 minutes. We weren’t pressured to leave but it was a tight squeeze in the restaurant with people waiting to be seated right next to us. We came for delicious rich tonkotsu ramen and that’s what we got, this is not a place to sit down and catch up.

There is also another Ryo’s noodles located in Bondi Junction.

Venue: Ryo’s Noodles

Address: 125 Falcon St, Crows Nest NSW 2065

Phone: (02) 9955 0225

Ryo's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tim Ho Wan – Chatswood

During my last fleeting visit to Sydney, Mum and her friends were sweet enough take me to Tim Ho Wan in Chatswood, the first of three locations in Sydney. I had just arrived in the CBD when my Mum’s friends had just started to line up, it was an estimated 40 minutes wait but the deal breaker was that all parties must be present to be seated in the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant. Conveniently for us, the restaurant is located right near the Chatswood train station and we joined the line long enough to quickly jot a few dishes on the menu before quickly getting seated.I could start to see why the line was so long besides the fact that it is new and the buzz around the brand name, the restaurant seating area itself wasn’t that big.I should have ordered that steamed egg cake! #foodregretsThe menu is limited to 25 menu items not including drinks. You write the quantity you want next to the item and hand in the order form like you would have Din Tai Fung.Vermicelli roll with shrimp ($7.80). I grabbed the top roll and thought they had forgotten to put anything inside if it wasn’t for the sad single prawn stuck somewhere in the lower half like a small rock trapped in a sock.Vermicelli roll with sesame sauce ($5.80). The sauce was really delicious and much better than the roll with shrimp.Pork dumpling with shrimp ($7.20). Not my preferred style of dumpling but it went really well with chilli sauce.Prawn dumpling ($7.80). These were nice, they didn’t stick to the paper, the wrapper was a good thickness and the prawn filling was delicious.Pork rib with black bean sauce ($6.80). The pork pieces were very small but that didn’t stop me from eating almost the whole thing to myself.Bean curd skin roll with pork and shrimp ($6.20). One of my favourite things to eat during yum cha, this version was a little on the skinny side but the sauce was really nice.Wasabi salad prawn dumpling ($7.80). I didn’t think I would like the deep fried dumpling but the wasabi and roe was subtle and complimented the prawn filling.Rice with beef and fried egg ($8.80). I was looking forward to this, albeit it wouldn’t be my first flavour choice out of the rice toppings. I found the beef cake layer too chewy and tough while the egg was cooked in an egg ring and didn’t look too appetising.Glutinous rice in lotus leaf ($8.80 one serve). It had lots of ingredients inside and the rice was really nice.Baked bun with BBQ pork ($6.80 for three). This was the star of the evening. It wasn’t as pretty and golden brown as the ones in HK, which made me sceptical but they had a wonderful crunch on the top like a pineapple bun. The pork and bun have a perfect balance of salty and sweetness.I had dragged TimmyC to one of the Tim Ho Wan locations scattered around Hong Kong and we had had our fill for around $12 AUD, although then we were eating 4-5 meals a day so it couldn’t be too big. The Sydney store is much more pricey comparatively but roughly consistent with neighbouring yum cha places.

The yum cha here is very mediocre and I prefer to go to Fook Yuen when I’m in the area but the baked buns with BBQ pork are a signature dish for Tim Ho Wan and it is worth lining up for (maybe not 2+ hours long but 15-20 minutes) if you have a craving.

There is a way to skip the queue but you need 8+ friends to do so like NQN did.

Venue: Tim Ho Wan

Address: The District, 436 Victoria Ave Chatswood, NSW

Phone02 9898 9888

Websitehttp://www.timhowan.com/

Tim Ho Wan on Urbanspoon

Goodgod – Belly baos

When it comes to eating Asian food in Sydney CBD, I foolishly thought I knew it all.

I keep tabs on whenever a new ramen place opens up, I keep an eye out for new dessert crazes and I’m all over dumplings like ants on a toffee apple. So when my friend wanted to take me to a place for bao, I was sceptical about this random bar but remained hopeful because I love a good bao. Goodgod is an underground bar located just past World Square towards China town and I would have walked past a million times without realising it and you may have too. Belly baos is the food side of things and they have a line which is separate from the Goodgod bar, which will mean you need to divide and conquer between you and your friends.

The Goodgod drinks menu.Cherry Melon Pop freshly juiced watermelon and green apple popped sweet with Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters ($9.00). Goodgod have an interesting list of alcoholic mixed drinks in jugs with funny quirky names but the non-drinkers don’t miss out because they also do several non-alcoholic quenchers both in jug and single cup sizes. This tasted like watermelon juice with a cherry aftertaste that was borderline medicinal.We get there insanely early but we are headed for Russell Peters later on at Olympic Park so we wanted somewhere close and fast. The place was quiet but that meant no lines and fast service. I looked at the menu and realised that I could easily eat everything if I didn’t squeeze in that delicious fried chicken snack, so I conservatively order only four baos to share between TimmyC and myself.

Belly Bao’s bao menu, what would you have chosen?Mmmm baos!Soft Shell crab watercress, chilli aioli and lemon vinaigrette ($7.50). We started off with the soft shell crab and in hindsight it was probably for the best as it was my least favourite. The flavours were nice but there was just a sad small piece of crab off to one side of the bun and I just didn’t think the filling to bun ratio was right.Panko crumbed chicken breast lettuce, pickled radish, secret sauce, coriander and chilli aioli ($6.50). I had a bite of my friend’s panko chicken and it was temperature hot, crispy and the chilli aioli gives in a nice chilli kick; definitely worth ordering!Slow braised pork belly pickled mustard greens, coriander, crushed peanut and kewpie mayo ($6.50). I had food envy while a friend was eating his bao; he enjoyed it so much that he ordered another and after he finished eating it, he had food regrets and probably didn’t need that extra bao.

Crackling roast pork belly crackling, pickled radish, coriander and kewpie mayo ($6.50). They have placed the crackling well so that almost every bite had some crackling, yum! I might be biased because I love pork, crackling, coriander and kewpie mayo but I really liked this bao!Slow braised beef short rib kimchi, spring onion and sesame mayo ($6.50). It would be hard for me to choose a favourite between the crackling roast pork and the beef short rib, so I won’t. The meat in this one was probably had more flavour on its own and didn’t rely on the sauces and condiments. It was so tender and tasty *licks lips*.I like how they have re-purposed old oyster sauce cans.Dessert bao (yes you read that right)~

Strawbelly bao golden fried bao with vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberry slices, drizzled with condensed milk ($6.50). How cute is the name? I was so caught up with the fact that there was dessert bao that I didn’t notice until friends pointed it out. This sounded good in theory but it was hard to eat without cutlery or a million wet wipes. TimmyC enjoyed the strawberries and ice-cream more while the Asian part of me really enjoyed the bao and condensed milk because it reminded me of fried mantou. There wasn’t that many strawberries and we probably should have gone with the ‘baonana split’ (golden fried bao with vanilla ice cream, fresh banana slices, salted peanuts, drizzled with Nutella) for a more decadent dessert.

The baos here might seem expensive by Sydney standards but for these Canberrans they were a steal (our bao prices are $9 each). The baos themselves were all soft, smooth and pat-a-licious (Michelle and Eileen know what I’m talking about).

Because we went while it was still quiet, we didn’t have any waiting troubles, issues with staff or seating limitations. In fact getting there before everyone else meant that we had clean bathrooms, fast food and we could hear ourselves think. I like the funky layout of the place and they also run interesting trivia nights; if I lived in the area, I would definitely come here more often.Venue: Goodgod bar (Belly Bao food)

Address53-55 Liverpool Street Sydney, NSW

Phone02 9267 3787

Opening hours:

Wednesday – Friday 5pm til late (Belly Bao is open until 10pm)

Saturday 6pm til late (Belly Bao is open until 10pm)

Belly Bao            Belly Bao on Urbanspoon

Goodgod bar    Goodgod Small Club on Urbanspoon