Khao Pla, Chatswood

I’ve mentioned before how Thai is not one of my favourite cuisines, but I’m willing to give anything a try if someone tells me it’s good. I’d heard good things about Khao Pla in Chatswood, so we visited one Thursday night on the recommendation of Electjai.

Isaan steak tartare – $13

We let Electjai take care of the ordering since he’d been before, and the first thing we ate was this Isaan steak tartare. Raw beef was mixed with roasted rice, chilli flakes and lime juice. I don’t do well with too much chilli and while this steak tartare was absolutely delicious, oh man did it burn!

Thai milk tea – $4

The problem with having a low chilli tolerance is that a lot of the time the food is still tasty so you just kind of have to put up with the burning. Luckily there was the perfect foil to all the hot Thai food with this iced Thai milk tea. Sweet, cold and milky, it did the trick in cooling some of the chilli heat, especially from that steak tartare.

Yum mango – $18

We ploughed on through some less burn-inducing salads which included this delicious green mango salad dressed with palm sugar and lime juice. It also had some nice chunks of crispy fish tossed through the green mango, and was topped with a crunchy and savoury mixture of peanuts, chilli and dried shrimp. This was one of my favourite dishes of the night with great flavours and not too much chilli!

Kana moo krob – $15

It’s hard to ignore the allure of crispy pork belly, even if it is doused in a hot chilli sauce. This wok-fried pork belly had a nice crisp exterior and packed a punch with the sauce. This dish was perfect with accompanied by a bowl of rice so the sauce also flavours the rice.

Pork ribs – $19

Twice-cooked pork ribs are also a must-order. These were unbelievably tender with a sweet and sour sauce flavoured with palm sugar and tamarind. The meat literally fell off the bone so there was no need for gnawing on the ribs – though sometimes that’s the best part!

Banana blossom salad

One of the specials on the night we visited was a banana blossom salad. I’ve never tried banana blossom before so naturally we ordered it. The banana blossom itself is finely chopped and served in a big bowl along with some shallots and deep fried prawns.

Char grilled pork neck – $12

Pork neck is a little used cut of meat but it’s one of the best ones. Slightly fatty, it was grilled until slightly charred on the outside but juicy on the inside and sliced thinly which made it perfect for dipping into the slightly spicy, herby and tangy sauce that was served on the side

Salt and pepper soft shell crab – $15

We were still feeling a bit peckish so we put in an order for some deep fried soft shell crab. This was quite a generous serving and there was plenty of crab to go around. The light batter was flavoured with a tom yum spice salt.

Lin yang – $14

The char-grilled ox tongue wasn’t the best looking of dishes but let me tell you it was one of the best ox-tongue dishes I’ve eaten. Not being slow-cooked like some other ox tongue dishes, it wasn’t fall-apart tender but instead had a nice texture to it. The ox tongue was wonderfully succulent and had a smokey flavour from the char-grill.

Black sticky rice and jasmine tapioca – $10

We were pretty full but I had been eyeing the black sticky rice dessert from the start. Luckily it was a small serve, but it was more than enough to get a taste of everything. There was the sticky rice with the pops of tapioca, slivers of jackfruit, cubes of coconut jelly, black sugar cane syrup and a scoop of Thai milk tea ice cream on top which was pure genius.

Despite not choosing to eat Thai food most of the time, I would definitely go back to Khao Pla – maybe not for that chilli steak tartare (not matter how tasty it was…) but I’m definitely keen to try out more of their extensive menu. And maybe go back for another taste of that green mango salad and the grilled ox tongue – and a side of Thai milk tea in case things get burny!

Khao Pla on Urbanspoon

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Just Desserts, March into Merivale

Having just dessert for dinner sounds like one of the greatest things ever so I was super excited to go to “Just Desserts” – a March into Merivale event where a handful of Merivale restaurants showcase some of their finest desserts for the sweet-tooths in Sydney. Entry ($45) also includes 6 tokens, which you can redeem for desserts and/or drinks within the event.

Mini fried ice cream, butterscotch

I’d sussed out what some of the offerings were prior to the event so when we arrived, we made a beeline straight for the mini fried ice creams at the Mr Wong stand. The fried ice cream was super popular (no surprise there!) so there was a short wait while batches upon batches of ice cream were fried to order. We eventually made our way out of the throng with our prize in hand, and dug in past the crispy batter to reveal a vanilla ice cream centre. I found some parts of the fried ice cream a little too cakey from the coating, but I think I could just about drink that amazing butterscotch sauce!

Hot banana, nutella and salted caramel spring roll, freeze dried raspberry powder

Another popular item was the hot banana, nutella and salted caramel spring roll from Ms G’s. Again, this was fried to order in batches but it meant we got a freshly fried spring roll scattered with the red raspberry powder. This was a surprise favourite of mine as it wasn’t too sweet and the banana, nutella and salted caramel flavours worked really well together.

White peach, black fig, yellow box honey, orange caramel sauce

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The Armchair Collective, Mona Vale

I had full intentions of writing this post while summer was still going strong and the weather was still beach-worthy, but it seems like I’ve blinked my eyes and February has gone and Autumn has arrived.

Don’t let that stop you from visiting the Armchair Collective though. Even though it’s conveniently located next to Mona Vale beach, the food, atmosphere and beautiful homewares available for purchase in the store will keep you coming back for more, as we certainly did when we visited them two weekends in a row!

Traditional iced coffee – $7

We started with a couple of drinks and I couldn’t go past getting this traditional iced coffee. I’m a bit of a sucker for DIY things so this was right up my alley with each iced coffee component separated so you can mix your own. There’s a shot of coffee, milk, sugar and ice cream and it’s up to you to balance out the flavours as you please.

Iced chocolate – $6.50

The iced chocolate is also pretty mammoth sized and is generous on the chocolate syrup.

Armchair Big Breakfast – $19.50

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Chiswick, Woollahra

Chiswick has been on my go-to list for a long time, so I was glad to finally try it out one warm summer night. Going on a weeknight meant that we weren’t able to admire the beautiful gardens around the glass-panelled restaurant, but that certainly doesn’t deter people, as the restaurant was packed on a Tuesday night.

Snow crab slider, lettuce, kewpie, gherkins – $9 each

I’d heard people rave about the snow crab sliders so it was pretty much a no-brainer when it came to ordering these. I wasn’t expecting the snow crab to come out as a crab cake but it worked with the soft slider buns. These are a little steep at $9 each but they were well worth it and I was left craving for more!

Crisp buttermilk chicken, cabbage, chilli mayonnaise – $20

The buttermilk fried chicken was a deep golden brown with a crispy coating that reminded me of KFC. The chicken was succulent and the chilli mayonnaise was particularly addictive with the crunchy coating.

CHISWICK steak tartare – $22

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Chur Burger, Sydney

Pulled pork burger – $10

Lately I’ve had some major burger cravings – probably because I don’t think a day goes by without a burger appearing on my instagram feed! I’d heard about the awesome burgers at Chur and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to check it out. I mean look at that beauty of a pulled pork burger! The pork is tender and juicy from the house made BBQ sauce and the generous slathering of mayo and there’s some cabbage slaw there for crunch.

Crumbed fish burger – $10

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