Viet Cuisine, Chatswood

Some of the menu items at Viet Cuisine

Living on the North Shore, Chatswood is a regular haunt for me and although there are some great places to eat in Chatswood, one soon gets tired of eating the same food at the same places. So when Captain Awesome told me about a new Vietnamese place on Victoria Avenue, I got really excited at the prospect of eating new food :)

More menu items

Sir D and I rocked up to Viet Cuisine on a Wednesday lunchtime and despite having heard that they were getting quite a lot of business, the place was empty save for one person waiting for take-away. Not a good sign. We went in anyway and were given menus and water by the waitress. They had quite a large selection of dishes (complete with pictures) and also a whiteboard which had some specials on it. Interestingly, pho (vietnamese noodle soup) is not on the regular menu but on the whiteboard specials. There is the option of getting beef, chicken or combination pho. We order the combination pho as well as the combination lunch special (chicken, beef or pork chop with shredded pork, egg, vegetables and rice).

Combination Pho – $8.00

The food comes out quickly with a steaming hot bowl of pho with rare beef slices, beef balls, tripe, tendon and brisket, with the usual accompaniments of mint, bean sprouts, chilli and lemon. The soup is flavoursome and our only complaints are that the beef tendon wasn’t cooked for long enough so it was tough, and that they were a bit stingey on the beef balls (only 2 halves in the whole bowl).

Grilled pork chop with tomato rice – $6.50

The combination lunch special we ordered comes out missing a few elements, with only the pork chop and tomato fried rice. We eat it anyway and I’m pleasantly surprised as both the pork chops and tomato rice are very tasty and I’m not so bothered about getting the wrong dish. We let the waitress know when we pay and they apologise and to their credit they charge us for what we were given rather than what we ordered. With the total damage being only $14.50, this place definitely gives the other Vietnamese restaurants in Chatswood a run for their money with tasty and cheap food.

Viet Cuisine
232 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 94111398
Monday – Saturday, 9am-9pm

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Strawberry Clafoutis

After eating a hearty dinner of roast chicken and vegetables, a warm comforting dessert was in order. We picked up some divine smelling strawberries from the supermarket and decided to use them in our dessert. I had read about a strawberry clafoutis on Citrus and Candy only the night before, and after salivating over pictures of a baked custardy dessert I knew I had to give it a go. It’s a great recipe because I don’t often have cream in the fridge and whilst most clafoutis recipes require cream, this one uses butter which I pretty much always have on hand.

It turned out to be a great hit – BLT loved the custard mixture so much she practically licked the bowl clean! Make sure you eat it while it’s still warm out of the oven as a great remedy for the winter blues.

Strawberry Clafoutis (Serves 6)
From Citrus and Candy (who adapted it from Michel Roux)

1 punnet of strawberries, washed, hulled and halved/quartered (depending on size)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
80g flour
80g butter, melted and cooled
60g raw sugar
150mL milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Grease a 20cm baking dish. Add flour to eggs and beat with a whisk until combined. Whisk in melted butter and then gradually add the sugar and milk until combined.

2. Spread the strawberries into a layer on the baking dish, and pour the custard mixture on top.

3. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 180ºC and bake for a further 30 minutes. Wobble the dish a bit to see if its ready – it shouldn’t be like a liquid anymore. Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes.

Roast Chicken #1

The title of this post isn’t implying that this roast chicken is the best or “number 1”, but that it is my first ever roast chicken. I don’t usually cook with meat (that’s not to say I’m vegetarian – I’m just more of a dessert-cooking person!). If I do, it’s usually something simple with bite-sized pieces of meat or minced meat. Never before have I cooked with a giant leg of lamb or a large piece of beef or even a whole chicken.

After watching so many MasterChef successes in the kitchen on TV, it’s definitely inspired me to be more adventurous in the kitchen and explore outside the realm of desserts and other sweet things. So with the help of a few friends, I set out to roast my first ever chicken!

Queen Chu’s sweet potato mash

We roasted two small chickens with some root vegetables and Queen Chu also made mashed sweet potato. The aroma of the roasting chicken was amazing, and the flavour of the lemon and herbs shone through. The chicken was quite moist and succulent, with only a few dry bits around the breast and the drumstick. Evidently I still need more practice but for the first time I thought it turned out pretty well!

Perfect Roast Chicken (Serves 6)
Adapted from Jamie’s Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver

2 small (approximately 1.2kg) free range chickens
2 onions
2 carrots
3 potatoes
1 bulb of garlic
2 lemons
a bunch of fresh herbs – either thyme, rosemary, bay or sage, or a mixture
olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Stuffing the chickens – thanks Sir D for being the hand model!

1. Remove chickens from the fridge 30 minutes before roasting. Preheat oven to 240ºC. Wash, peel and roughly chop vegetables and break garlic bulb into cloves. Pile all the vegetables and garlic into a large roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil.

2. Drizzle chickens with olive oil and rub all over with salt and pepper. We also rubbed some dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme, parsely or oregano over the chicken, but this is optional.

3. Prick lemons all over with the tip of a sharp knife and microwave for 30-40 seconds to bring out the juices. Separate the bunch of herbs into half, and stuff each chicken with half the bunch of herbs and one lemon. Place chickens on top of vegetables in roasting tray.

4. Place roasting tray into the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 200ºC. Cook chicken for 1.5hrs. Halfway through cooking time, baste the chicken with the pan juices and splash some water onto the vegetables if they look dry. When cooked, remove tray from oven and rest for 15-20 minutes.

Babycakes by Renée, Sydney

After stuffing ourselves silly at Kobe Jones, you would think that there would be absolutely no room for more food. However, when it comes to cupcakes, it seems like our stomachs have saved a special compartment to fit in these delicious sweet morsels.

This is how we came to be at Babycakes by Renée, oohing and aahing over all the flavours and the cuteness factor of the “babycakes”. These were very tiny indeed, with the top of the cake being not much bigger than a 20c piece. They offer traditional flavours and gourmet flavours which have more extravagant toppings and cost extra.

Nat and Captain Awesome spy a special offering a babycake and a regular coffee for $3. They both choose hot chocolates, and Nat selects a carrot cake whilst Captain Awesome chooses a chocolate mud. The hot chocolates are deemed a bit too milky with not enough chocolate flavour, but the babycakes are moist and flavoursome.

Captain Awesome’s lone chocolate mud babycake – Rich moist mud cake with creamy chocolate ganache, dusted with powdered chocolate

Queen Chu and BLT go all out and order a dozen babycakes. They order lemon and poppyseed, madeira, marbled mud, carrot cake, hokey pokey, chocolate mud, banana cake and mocha mud. The cake itself is moist and tastes like the flavour it claims to be, with the only disappointment being the marbled mud containing no marbling whatsoever. The icing is also tasty, but is spread quite thinly on the top of the cake, and as an icing lover I think it could do with a bit more.

One dozen traditional babycakes – $12.50
Top row: Lemon and poppyseed, madeira, marbled mud, madeira
Middle row: Carrot cake, hokey pokey, chocolate mud, hokey pokey
Bottom row: Lemon and poppyseed, banana cake, mocha mud, chocolate mud

These babycakes are definitely a delicious bite-sized snack, but at $1.20 per babycake they are certainly not cheap. But when your cupcake stomach compartment is calling, these would be a great occasional treat.

Babycakes by Renée
66 Erskine St
Sydney NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 92901297
Monday – Friday, 8.30am-5.30pm

Other locations:
Shop 30, 50 Carlton Cres
Summer Hill NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 97976331

Norton Plaza
55 Norton St
Leichhardt NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 95699590

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Kobe Jones, King St Wharf, for all you can eat sushi!

Anyone who knows me well enough will know that I am an absolute sushi/sashimi fanatic. In fact, I think that sometimes I eat so much raw seafood that when I die, it will probably be from heavy metal poisoning. When I read about Kobe Jones offering all you can eat sushi for $25 (including their famous volcano roll) on Here Comes The Food, my eyes lit up and my stomach screamed “YES YES YES!!”. So a group of friends were rounded up and we went down to King St Wharf on a beautiful Friday afternoon to eat as much sushi as we could.


Thankfully, Queen Chu has rung ahead to book and let them know that we are ordering the all you can eat sushi. A sushi menu is already on the table ready for us, and the friendly waitstaff let us know that they will be bringing out the first plates soon.

Tasting plate – (clockwise from top) Kobe Jones’s finest nigiri, Crunchy roll, Dynamite roll, Avocado roll, Kobe California roll and Volcano roll (centre)

There were 7 of us dining today, and they gave us 3 servings of the tasting plate for us to share. This plate consisted of all the types of sushi and was presented beautifully. However we noticed that the sushi on the plate didn’t quite correspond to the menu, and after asking the waitstaff they informed us that there had been slight changes to the menu, and they told us what the new rolls for today were. Their website now has a new menu for their all you can eat sushi, saying that there will be a different selection everyday which will always include the volcano roll and nigiri. You can find it here.

Volcano Roll – Oven baked scallops layered on a crab salad and avocado roll with Kobe’s special cream sauce and a sesame seed and shallot sprinkle

The volcano roll was a mountain of creamy scallop-y goodness, with 3 pieces of sushi in each bowl and smothered in Kobe Jones’ special cream sauce and a generous amount of scallops. Although their sauce seems to be a bit more tangy than I’ve had in the past, it was a definite crowd favourite.

Kobe Jones’s Finest Nigiri – selection based on market availability

The nigiri sushi was fresh, with the only downside being a giant mound of rice underneath the fish which was quite disproportionate. We left most of the rice on the plate, and Captain Awesome affectionately saved up her rice mounds and called them her ‘mice’.

Captain Awesome’s pet mice

The roll which had us most puzzled at the start was the Avocado Roll, which we mistakenly thought was the Spider Roll and for a while we were wondering why there was no soft shell crab in it. This was a nice contrast to the seafood but nothing to write home about, and my Asian genes were telling me that eating these would not be good value for money!

Avocado Roll – Burdock root and asparagus roll finished with a layer of avocado and a sprinkle of sesame seeds

The dynamite roll was filled with salmon and kingfish today which had been marinated in a chilli sauce and the outside of the roll was dusted with shichimi togarashi (Japanese chilli flakes). One piece of this and my mouth was shouting out for water but others with a higher chilli tolerance didn’t find it too spicy.

Dynamite Roll – Spicy tuna, kingfish, salmon or scallops with cucumber and sesame seeds

The california roll was yummy, especially with the unusual addition of grilled eel on top.

Kobe California Roll – Crab salad and avocado with unagi layered on top

The last item on the tasting platter was the crunchy roll, which was another crowd favourite with the addition of tempura flakes on the top giving a nice crunch with the sushi.

Crunchy Roll – Tempura prawns with crab salad and cucumber layered with tempura flakes and smelt roe

After the first tasting plate we were able to order from any of the types of sushi which we had already eaten, so of course we ordered multiple extra serves of the Volcano roll, Crunchy roll and the Kobe California roll, as well as some extra salmon nigiri since some people missed out the first time around.

One of 4 subsequent plates we ordered after the first tasting plates…

All up the 7 of us ate about 7 plates of sushi and we were well and truly stuffed after the meal (although apparently not stuffed enough to withstand the allure of cupcakes!). Even though they do try and stuff the sushi full of rice, for $25 this is still great value especially if you love your sushi (and volcano roll!) like I do.

Kobe Jones
29 Lime St
King Street Wharf, Sydney NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 92995290
Lunch: Monday – Friday, 12pm-3pm, Christmas Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
Dinner: Everyday from 6pm (including public holidays)
Supper: Friday and Saturday from 9.30pm
10% surcharge applies on weekends and public holidays

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