Doraji, Waterloo

Does there exist in this world, any marriage of food and drink better than greasy, crunchy fried chicken and cold, bubbly beer? Not in my dad’s book! That’s why one Sunday night, despite having plans to go for a quick Vietnamese dinner at our local, we found ourselves at Doraji, Waterloo.

Located in Crown Plaza, just off of (Harry!) Potter Street, Doraji is a Korean restaurant with an unassuming facade that hides a whole lot of chicken crazy inside. I knew we had entered somewhere special as soon as my gaze alighted on the giant mural featuring dancing beer mugs and a drumstick wielding little boy. He looked very happy. I hoped we would soon be too.

IMG_4787Not a large place, the seating has been set up a little differently. You can choose from one of two share tables, some open booth seating or one of three private enclosures along the left hand wall which have been separated from the main area by thin timber barriers and feature a call button to get staff’s attention. As all other tables were occupied, we chose one of the private areas and found the whole experience to be pleasant and unique. We had a private family dinner while still experiencing the buzz and atmosphere of public dining.

IMG_4791The staff were quite attentive. Within moments of sitting down we were presented with giant menus and the tap water we requested arrived just a short time after, although there was some confusion as to whether the glasses it came with were for the water or beer. Beer could be ordered by the glass or by the 1L jug so while my mum, dad and sister shared, I went for a hot green rice tea.

Surprisingly, the choice of food was not just limited to chicken. Although it was there … in all its forms … there was a plethora of other options too from hotpots to rice dishes and sizzling plates. When it came down to it, my dad realised with a substantial amount of beer and complimentary ‘tapas’ already inside him, there was no way he was going to finish an entire fried chicken – whole chickens being the main portion size available. Instead, we chose three other dishes to share which though all very different, were each tasty in their own right.

IMG_4790The sliced smoked duck breast with shallot salad and mustard sauce ($25) was probably the most unique of the three. Served cold, it was cooked medium and the thin slices allowed you to really taste and appreciate the subtle flavours. I must admit though I wasn’t a fan of the fat/skin that rimmed each piece and tended to pull that off.

The Spicy chicken with potato and glass noodles in hotpot ($35) was our one ode to poultry and it was massive! It was served in the size of pot I imagine manna would have been presented to the Israelites in while they were fleeing Egypt – never ending. Though containing bones, the chicken was juicy, the broth flavoursome and the dish had a homely feel owing to the fact that it was chock full of hearty veges like potato and carrot. It was perfect for an autumn night and very very tasty.

IMG_4789Our final dish was the Grilled eel in teriyaki sauce on sizzling plate ($18) and was probably my favourite. A sucker for teriyaki, this dish was very attractive with a gorgeous golden sheen. The sweetness of the succulent eel pieces were perfectly offset by the crunch of the bed of onions on which they rested. I probably could have polished off this one on my own if I hadn’t eaten so much already.  We made sure to order a couple of serves of steamed rice to take full advantage of all the yummy juices and sauces.

I have a feeling we’ll be back. Winter is coming and what better way to build a protective layer of internal insulation (sounds better than fat right?) that through some golden, crispy, chicken.

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John Smith Cafe, Waterloo

I eat out a lot. And I mean A LOT! So much so that when people ask me for recommendations, I sometimes find it hard to give one – one meal seems to meld into another and they all become difficult to remember. Every once in a while though, you come across a gem that stands out from the crowd. I found that gem at John Smith Cafe.   
Thanks to Lizzie, a couple of weeks ago we got a ‘do over’ day and the weekend magically became two Saturdays and a Sunday with Monday never to be seen again. After checking via Facebook message that they were indeed open on this mystical of days, my friends and I arranged to meet at 10 am for brunch. 

We picked a good time as John Smith Cafe is anything but a John Doe. In addition to popping up on blogs everywhere at the moment, their Instagram and Facebook feeds have a ton of followers. 

  
And its’ popularity online ensured it was comparably busy in life. Thankfully the very nice waiter (who called me darling :)) assured us it was a two minute wait… And it was!!! In no time we were settled in one of their comfy booths, ordering coffee and left to stare at the display case of delicious cronuts and pastries while we waited for our friends. 

When it came time to order, we did this quick smart. It’s quite short and produce driven so it also changes constantly. No mushrooms I’m afraid (disaster) but what I did have was divine!! Two pieces of seeded sourdough, smothered in avocado salsa, crumbled goats cheese and a chilli jam that was a sauce from heaven – gorgeous and sweet with the mildest punch of heat. I got sides of seasonal greens and a poached egg. My friend who got hard poached eggs on toast admitted to serious food envy although she said hers was nice too. 

  
The other girls got the granola with coconut yoghurt and a nice big block of berry jam/jelly (potayto potarto). Rich but not overly sweet, it was nutty and very enjoyable. 

Two other major positives- they let us linger (which was crazy and very nice given the number of people waiting) and since it’s located just off Botany street, there was parking!

I think a return visit is on the cards. If you eat out a lot – you have to pick great places to make it worth it and John Smith definitely was! 

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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Hurricaines Express, Darlinghurst

Did someone say steak?

Meat lovers in the inner west rejoice. Hurricanes has opened up one of their signature restaurants in Waterloo, and they’ve brought with them all their well known, meaty goodies.

Junior Beef Ribs: an example of meaty goodness

Located on Bourke street at the MacEvoy Street “T” junction, this Hurricanes Express has been serving sit down and take away meals to the many Meriton apartment locals for around three weeks. Cue the communal drooling.

The delicious menu which prompted drooling

 

Excited, we no longer had to trek to Bondi Beach for great ribs. Right here a group of friends decided to go for an impromptu dinner.

Half a chicken with sides

The space is large and airy with a variety of seating available from high stools to tables, each branded with the signature “H” logo. Without a booking, we nabbed a comfortable booth, and we were very happy.

A friendly and casual dining area

On arrival, there was some confusion over what express meant. There are tables and the full menu is available, so what is different to the norm? Express equals counter ordering and buzzers we discovered. Sauces, cutlery and bottles of water are all self serve, but the food is delivered to the table (so why the buzzer?)

Did someone say steak?

All the meals ordered were great. We filled up on a flavorsome pulled beef burger ($14.90) with a side of corn ($4); half a chicken ($16); a grilled chicken salad ($20.50) which required a larger bowl it was so massive; 200g sirloin steak with sides ($19.90) and two juniors meals – the lamb ribs ($12) and the beef ribs ($12).

Pulled beef burger

We couldn’t believe the portion sizes, and they came with a side each. An answer to Australia’s obesity crisis perhaps? Not that we were complaining. They were delicious!

Junior lamb ribs and side: not for kids alone

In terms of drinks, a full range of soft drinks is on offer, but alcohol is also available which was great. There is nothing like a nice glass of white or red on a Sunday night, but why is it served in a water glass? Licensing? The beer came in glass bottles.

Water or wine?

All in all it was a fun and relaxed night, filled with great food and great friends. I went to bed thinking Mmmm steak…

Grilled chicken salad

Rating: 7/10

Where: Cnr Bourke Street and McEvoy Street, Waterloo NSW.
Why: Meat
Cost: $4- $25
When: Lunch and Dinner, 7 Days

Good for kids: Yes
Take away: Yes