Mama’s Buoi, Surry Hills

The term mama’s boy is generally used as a criticism but one guy proud to call himself one is Bao Hoang, founder and head chef of restaurant chain mama’s boy. And boy, can this mama’s boy cook!

Originally launched in Melbourne, Mama’s Buoi hit the Sydney food scene in late 2014 under chef Tiw Rakarin- first opening a locale in Surry Hills and then a second in Crows Nest – providing locals with a much needed place to get good quality Vietnamese that also has a classy, trendy ambience to socialise and linger in.

When my friend requested a ‘healthy restaurant’ for us to have a midweek group catchup, I suggested Vietnamese and booked Mama’s Boy the moment there was group consensus. And thank goodness I did. There was no way we would have gotten in otherwise. The place was teaming with people. When a few of the group showed up 10 minutes early, they were told to wait outside until the allotted booking time – our table was still occupied and the bar was full.

When we were lead to our table, I told the waiter the was a chance another may be joining our group. The look of horror he gave me suggested that I’d killed his puppy. He promptly informed me that the table we’d been allocated had no room – thank goodness our extra never showed, I think he would have had a heart attack.

What the place lacks in well mannered staff, it definitely makes up for in atmosphere. Diners sit at giant share tables and booths under a giant cloth canopy, strings of light bulbs and hanging plants. A giant slogan on the wall written in Vietnamese translates to one of life’s very important questions – do you love your Mama? The teal and timber colour scheme and the herb displays around the open plan kitchen echo the freshness and lightness of the food.

And the food was great! Two of the girls got vegetable curries and a side of rice to share, one guy got the morning glory stir fry with minced pork which he almost moaned over, the other sticky beef ribs- gone in two minutes flat, and the last two of us had a vermicelli noodle salad with chicken- salty sweet perfection!

The thing we loved most though was the music. Classics from the 90s and 00s swirled around us causing us to break out in to periods of seat dancing. Definitely a unique (odd?) choice but one I heartily approved of!

I’d love to check out its Crows Nest sister to see if space is more freely available and if the staff are nicer but all in all, Mama’s Buoi is a place and a person I heartily approve of. They’re loving, open to being molded and apparently can cook up a storm! What’s not to love? 😉

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Devon cafes, Surry Hills and Waterloo

One of my best friends has spent the last year travelling the world with her boyfriend. As much as I was excited for her to go, I was also sad because I knew I’d miss her so badly. When she returned for a brief visit before jetting off again, I found out that despite enjoying her epic adventure, there were things she was missing, ME of course, and …. Brunch!!

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It’s for that reason that when we got our chance to catch up, I chose the most epic, imaginative and truly unique place I could think of – Devon cafe.

Named after the street on which it’s found – Devonshire street, Devon cafe is one very popular place. It’s the only cafe I’ve even been to that on enquiring how long a wait for a table was, I was told not to bother by the wait staff. But for those who like to eat adventurously, the place lives up to the hype.

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Serving food which is a fusion of Australian and Asian, typical brunch options include soft shell crab and Nashi pear salad, green eggs and ham, sakuma’s eggs and Cronuts in many different magical flavours.

My beautiful friend – who is both gluten and dairy intolerant- went for a slightly more traditional meal (as far as these things go at Devon) and picked the smoked eggplant on toast (gluten free bread) with mushroom purée, hazelnuts, crunchy chickpeas and parsley. I’ll admit, It looked a little small to me but she took a long time eating it and, once she was done, she was a very happy Chappy. Her boyfriend – who is also gluten intolerant (a match made in digestive heaven) was so excited by the range of gluten-less breads available that he went no further than the toast with three sides – jam, butter and Vegemite ($7.50). I guess for him bread is an adventure.

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I on the other went a little bit ‘wild’and had the eggs blini ($20)- two 63 degree eggs on a thin bed of pancake deliciousness, topped with thick slices of smoked salmon, asparagus and caviar, smothered in a creamy hollandaise sauce. Despite all the elements it was actually quite light – I didn’t feel stuffed and they all balanced each other out perfectly. It was a great meal with great friends and I couldn’t wait to repeat it.

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I got the chance a few weeks later when I went to visit the sister cafe, Devon on Danks with another friend for a Saturday morning catchup. This time I opted for the naked bruschetta – another light looking meal that was anything but. Three pieces of toasted brioche with roasted pumpkin, egg and Asian mushrooms – all sitting in a swirl of pea and goats curd mash ($14.50). Brought in as part of the summer menu it’s like sunshine on a plate. My friend was feeling a little Sam I Am and had the dr Seuss’s green eggs and ham ($20). She just loved every bite.

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Because I couldn’t go past those yummy Cronuts a second time we decided to order one of those and the daily Muffin (choc banana) to share. The muffin was good- the cronut was out of this world!! We got the raspberry one ($6.50), not usually my favourite flavour being a chocoholic but man, it was life changing. We literally sat there saying oh my g-d for five minutes while we ate this thing. Epic!!!

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All in all this has to be one of my favourite places to eat in Sydney. It’s quirky, it’s delicious and with he menu constantly changing, there is no risk of getting bored. If you’re up for the adventure, dive on in…. I dare you!

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Xage Vietnamese Restaurant, Surry Hills

There’s nothing better than a girly catch up over a healthy meal, and Xage on Crown street provides the perfect setting. When a girlfriend suggested Xage for a mid-week dinner, I was excited. I’d heard such good things about this Vietnamese restaurant, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Sister restaurants with Madam Nhu, located just down the hill on Campbell street, are both very popular, and bookings are recommended. Packed to the brim and buzzing on a random Tuesday night, we joined our fellow diners for a 7.30pm dinner.

a healthy and delicious feast

If you want privacy and a quiet conversation, this place is not for you. With seating arranged sardine style along long wooden benches and members of the same party situated across from one another; it is as easy to participate in someone else’s conversation as your own.

Don’t bring your grandmother here. She won’t like the stool seating or the mood lighting, but if you’re young and you’re fun, you’ll fit right in.

Unlimited green tea

Beginning with a pot of green tea which is charged per person ($2.50 each), not per pot (yay for endless refills), we mulled over the menu. We decided to order just one main each, but if you’d like to sample more of the menu; ordering several entrees and a couple of items from the rice paper roll section of the menu is the way to go. On this, remember to share these tasty morsels with your friends. Some of the options we saw served to the people around us included the salad of mixed pickles ($6); the Red chicken nem nướng skewers ($8.90), and the Tofu rice paper rolls ($11.50), identifiable from the signature hot green chilli sauce that accompanied it.

Grilled chicken, cashew nut, herbs salad in lemongrass dressing.

We decided on the Grilled chicken, cashew nut, herbs salad in lemongrass dressing ($17.90), and the Black tiger prawn stir fry with okra and lemongrass chilli sauce ($19.50). Other tempting options included the Slow-cooked beef curry bò kho with lotus root ($19.50), Grilled Tasmanian ocean trout chả cá in herbs and spices ($22.90), or the Hội An papaya salad of five-spice duck fillet with basil, peanut and chilli ($20.90). The dishes, although not cheap, are substantial enough to justify the cost.

Black tiger prawn stir fry with okra and lemongrass chilli sauce.

At the end of the night, once we’ve had our fill of great food and conversations, there were plenty of gelato places nearby to indulge in some not so healthy dessert.

Rating: 8/10

Where: 333 Crown Street Surry Hills NSW.
Why: Tasty and healthy food.
Cost: Mains from $13.90 – $22.90
When: 7 days, 6-10pm.

Good for kids: No
Take away: Yes, phone to order.

Jazushi, Surry Hills

A little music with my dinner? Don’t mind if I do. That’s exactly what you get at Jazushi, a cosy and warm, alternate Japanese restaurant located on Devonshire Street in Surry Hills.

Tempura Camembert

Who doesn’t like to get serenaded while they eat? The live jazz musicians who play throughout the night are great. The music is the perfect level, and loud enough to sway along to while still soft enough to talk. Nice and mellow, and I have to say very soothing.

Funky decor

In this restaurant, the décor is a little bit different to your usual Japanese hangout. Exposed red brick walls and silver, fairy light covered decorations in the shape of instruments give the place a fun glow and the dramatic arch that overhangs the kitchen is almost rustic.

The interesting menu

 

The food is also a bit different. Gone is the extensive sushi and sashimi menu (although some is on offer). In its place are tasty temptations such as beetroot salad ($14) and tempura Camembert ($16). These we couldn’t resist.

Beetroot salad

We also ordered the gyoza ($12) which was crispy but a tad greasy;

Goyza

Teriyaki chicken ($22), a solid option;

Teriyaki chicken

the Wagyu beef ($25) which was just so soft and delicious;

Wagyu beef

and the Hitsumabushi eel ($18), a completely different style of dish which came beautifully presented on a stack of rice, and required us to pour a pot of tea over it, turning it almost into a soup. Fun and yum.

Hitsumabushi eel

The staff were courteous and efficient, and with the bill coming to around $25 per person; it was a happy group of friends who parted at the end of their Sunday night together.

Rating: 8/10

Where: 145 Devonshire Street Surry Hills NSW
Why: Japanese food different to the norm.
Cost: $8-$25
When: Tues- Sun, 6pm till late.

Good for kids: No
Take away: No

Cook and Archie’s, Surry Hills

The name is Bond…James Bond. Ok it’s not, but trying to eat at this cafe has been a bit of a mission.

</p><br />
<p>The Reuben Sandwich, one of many delicious lunch options<br /><br />

The Reuben sandwich, one of the many delicious lunch options.

Due to its immense popularity, getting a table at Cook and Archie’s can seem quite impossible. This, combined with holiday closures has resulted in two prior aborted lunch attempts. On this sunny Saturday though, I achieved success. The secret? Plan for a late lunch.

</p><br />
<p>The Reuben Sandwich, one of many delicious lunch options<br /><br />

The cafe’s interior

Located on the corner of Buckingham and Devonshire streets, this café, with its generous and wholesome approach towards food attracts a broad clientele from the health conscious to those looking for a serious feed.

Surrounded by old warehouses, office buildings and converted apartment blocks, Cook and Archie’s is furnished with concrete floors’ a dark colour palette; factory style high ceilings, and light fixtures fit right in to its industrial surrounds, and the establishment provides locals with a good breakfast or lunch option. The giant painting of a knife, spoon and fork leaves diners in no doubt as to what they are there to do – just eat.

</p><br />
<p>The Reuben Sandwich, one of many delicious lunch options<br /><br />

Tasty décor

Within minutes of walking in, me and my two Canberrian buddies, eager for some good food Sydney is becoming known for, were seated and ready to get stuck into lunch.

Between the all day brunch menu; the extensive lunch menu and the specials boards; there were lots of decisions to be made. Knowing I had a big dinner scheduled, I was looking for something healthy but interesting. Luckily for me, the menu was filled with such items. Oscillating between the Gravlax on Rye ($19) and the Potato Cake with smoked salmon and poached egg ($19.80), I broke the mental tennis match by choosing the Tuscan Grilled Chicken Salad with wild rocket, pear, walnuts, caramelised onion, fetta & lemon dressing ($19). It was flavoursome, decent in size, and had a nice crunch.

Tuscun Grilled chicken salad

 

One berrian buddy chose the Reuben Sandwich ($18), an expertly layered picture of yumminess containing the perfect ratio of Wagyu corned beef to cabbage.

perfect layers

The other chose the Pappardelle, duck ragu special ($22).

Pappardelle

We paired these with a great cup of coffee ($4.30 reg) and a glass of freshly squeezed juice ($6.50).

</p><br />
<p>The Reuben Sandwich, one of many delicious lunch options<br /><br />

Freshly squeezed beetroot, celery and mint.

A bit of an order mix up, which resulted in a late delivery of the Pappardelle was handled really well, with a sincere apology and the offer of a free drink while waiting. Much appreciated.

After much discussion, we arrived at the final verdict: definitely worth a return visit.

Mission complete, over and out.

Rating: 8/10

Where: Shop 1a 4/14 Buckingham Street Surry Hills NSW
Why: Diverse menu and generous portions.
Cost: $7- $23
When:

Monday – Friday: 7am to 4:30pm
Saturday: 8:30am to 2pm

Good for kids: Enough space, but no children’s menu.
Take away: Yes

4Fourteen, Surry Hills

I’ve walked past this place for ages, and finally one evening, a group of friends and I decided to go to Surry Hill’s Mecca of meat, 4Fourteen. Located on the corner of Fitzroy and Bourke streets, this restaurant is large and popular, attracting diners who respond to head chef Colin Fassnidge’s nose to tail philosophy on food.

beef brisket, worth stopping for.

4Fourteen is a spacious restaurant. The bar is its centrepiece, and dark timber tables of varying sizes are scattered around it. As you walk in, you immediately face the open plan kitchen. I love it when the kitchen is on display. It means diners are treated to a behind the scenes look, removing the mystery that surrounds the cooking of great food and making it more accessible. This kitchen is fascinating to see. It’s fast, efficient, clean and professional. It perfectly matches the great quality of the food being delivered on the plates.

corned silverside, pretty and delicious. The dish of the night.

The only negative about our chosen venue, is it’s very noisy. 4Fourteen features high ceilings causing the conversation of all diners to echo. It was so loud that no more than four people in our group could be part of the same conversation at one time. The people on the ends had to lean in to be heard. They are obviously aware of the problem though, and have tried to fix it by installing roof panels. Unfortunately they’ve been unsuccessful.

the small dish, chicken bread.

 

Once we were all seated, our very helpful waitress came over to help decipher the menu. She translated some of the more unfamiliar ingredients, and explained that the menu was broken into three main sections: nibbles; small dishes which could be considered entree size, and larger dishes designed to share between two or three people. Some of these came in an even larger size, enabling you to share between five or more. This meant that although the prices seem quite steep at first, they were actually quite reasonable when viewed as a meal for two or more with sides.

the menu which required translation

With this in mind, we ordered one small dish; one large dish; one extra-large dish, and three sides. Between the six of us, this was definitely enough to leave us all feeling satisfied rather than uncomfortably stuffed.

Marty’s Farm veg

I began with the corned silver side beef ($34 for two), and I actually muttered oh my god several times as I was eating it. It is a sweet and unctuous dish, and so moist it melts in your mouth. The beef brisket ($64 for four) was also a great choice. It was smoky, soft and full of flavour. The tomato salad ($14) was fresh and light, and included a very generous amount of mozzarella. The sweet potato ($12) was creamy, and the carrots with mint yoghurt dressing, tonight’s Marty’s Farm Veg dish ($14) was a solid option. For the small dishes we ordered chicken bread ($14), of which was a delicious concoction of chicken stock soaked bread, baked and topped with liver pate. So yum.

sweet roast potato

 

All the sides were good, but the meats were the stars of the show. Half way through our meal we were distracted. Dessert had been delivered to the table next door and it looked fabulous. We literally all turned and stared.

tomato salad

When our time came, choosing a dessert was a negotiation just as complex as a Middle East peace treaty. It required debate, compromise, and the final decision to order three and share.

roasted pineapple

The roast pineapple ($16), my personal favourite, was light and fresh with interesting flavours and textures. And as a friend said, a sophisticated dessert. The white chocolate sandwich ($14), their signature was also a fantastic dessert. More indulgent, the rich caramel was complimented by the smooth and cool white chocolate mousse. The last choice, the honeycomb peanut butter block ($14) was good but comparative to the others. A bit one note and not as exciting.

white chocolate sandwich

 

honeycomb peanut butter block

Happy to be out with great friends and full of great food. It was an excellent weeknight dinner out. One that I hope to repeat soon.

Rating: 9/10

Where: 72a Fitzroy Street Surry Hills NSW.
Why: For the love of meat
Cost: Approx. $40 per person
When: Monday – Saturday for dinner from 6pm.
Tuesday – Sunday Lunch from 12noon

Good for kids: No
Take away: No

Categories:

# Surry Hills
# Australian Restaurants
# Meat

Cook and Archies, Surry Hills

The name is Bond…James Bond. Ok it’s not, but trying to eat at this cafe has been a bit of a mission.

The Reuben Sandwich-one of many delicious lunch options

The Reuben Sandwich-one of many delicious lunch options

Due to its immense popularity, getting a table at Cook and Archie’s can seem quite impossible. This, combined with holiday closures has resulted in two prior aborted lunch attempts. On this sunny Saturday though, I achieved success. The secret? Plan for a late lunch.

Café interior

Café interior

Located on the corner of Buckingham and Devonshire streets, this café, with its generous and wholesome approach towards food attracts a broad clientele from the health conscious to those looking for a serious feed.

Surrounded by old warehouses, office buildings and converted apartment blocks, Cook and Archie’s is furnished with concrete floors’ a dark colour palette; factory style high ceilings, and light fixtures fit right in to its industrial surrounds, and the establishment provides locals with a good breakfast or lunch option. The giant painting of a knife, spoon and fork leaves diners in no doubt as to what they are there to do – just eat.

Tasty decor

Tasty decor

Within minutes of walking in, me and my two Canberrian buddies, eager for some good food Sydney is becoming known for, were seated and ready to get stuck into lunch. Between the all day brunch menu; the extensive lunch menu and the specials boards; there were lots of decisions to be made. Knowing I had a big dinner scheduled, I was looking for something healthy but interesting. Luckily for me, the menu was filled with such items. Oscillating between the Gravlax on Rye ($19) and the Potato Cake with smoked salmon and poached egg ($19.80), I broke the mental tennis match by choosing the Tuscan Grilled Chicken Salad with wild rocket, pear, walnuts, caramelised onion, fetta & lemon dressing ($19). It was flavoursome, decent in size, and had a nice crunch.

Tuscun Grilled chicken salad

Tuscun Grilled chicken salad

One berrian buddy chose the Reuben Sandwich ($18), an expertly layered picture of yumminess containing the perfect ratio of Wagyu corned beef to cabbage.

perfect layers

perfect layers

The other chose the Pappardelle, duck ragu special ($22).

Pappardelle

Pappardelle

We paired these with a great cup of coffee ($4.30 reg) and a glass of freshly squeezed juice ($6.50).

Freshly squeezed beetroot, celery and mint.

Freshly squeezed beetroot, celery and mint.

A bit of an order mix up, which resulted in a late delivery of the Pappardelle was handled really well, with a sincere apology and the offer of a free drink while waiting. Much appreciated. After much discussion, we arrived at the final verdict: definitely worth a return visit. Mission complete, over and out. Rating: 8/10 Where: Shop 1a 4/14 Buckingham Street Surry Hills NSW Why: Diverse menu and generous portions. Cost: $7- $23 When: Monday – Friday: 7am to 4:30pm Saturday: 8:30am to 2pm Good for kids: Enough space, but no children’s menu. Take away: Yes