Another year, another end of NBA season, another basketball tipping competition awards night dinner at our trusty ribs place, Hurricane’s Grill at Brighton Le Sands! Richard was last year’s winner (his first participation, too) and came a super close second this year, but it’s not like that would stop us from stuffing our faces!

Basketball Trophy

The trophy with engraved plaques; it’s serious business

The same dozen of us as last year (technically 13 this year because two are pregnant) were seated in possibly the darkest corner of the entire restaurant. A waiter came around to take our order at 8 pm, and our food appeared in about 20 minutes.

There’s only one dish I ever order at Hurricane’s:

Hurricane's Grill, Brighton Le Sands, July 2015: Pork Ribs (Full Rack) w Baked Potato

Hurricane’s Grill, Brighton Le Sands, July 2015: Pork Ribs (Full Rack) with Baked Potato ($49.50)

Although you know something is horribly wrong if after one year, the same dish didn’t seem to have shrunk, but it no longer fills you up… surprised

The ribs ($49.50 for full rack; $38.50 for half) came with a side of either a baked potato with sour cream and chives, or a big serving of chips. Sauce (peri-peri, aioli, pepper, etc) is an extra $2.50 on the side, which is only necessary if you like to dip your chips. For a few dollars cheaper, you could also get other ribs like beef and lamb as a full dish or a half-half mix and match; but trust me, get the pork.

Other than the ginormous portion size of the full rack (other places claim to give you a full rack but they never come anywhere as close to this size), the best feature of the dish is still its sweet basting sauce. The ribs themselves still weren’t completely fall-off-the-bone as the limited special riblets I had at the Darling Harbour branch way back, but it’s tender enough for me to manage with only a fork and knife.

So far, Hurricane’s is still the most reliable franchise for pork ribs. Book ahead, though, because I think everyone agrees with me seeing how super busy the restaurants are even on weeknights!

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A long overdue catchup dinner with bestest of friends Ellis and a proper revisit at Chefs Gallery Town Hall, with pictures this time! I first came here in Feb 2014 and again two months later in Apr 2014, and really quite enjoyed my meals. I was glad the friend chose this as the venue.

We booked a table for 5:30 pm, their first dinner time slot. At this time, there were more staff than patrons, and it was quite awkward with the staff patrolling and checking every 15 seconds if we were ready to order. We pretended to look at the menu but both of us already had a different spicy dish we’d previously liked in mind.

Chefs Gallery Town Hall, June 2015: Interior

Chefs Gallery Town Hall, June 2015: Interior

To prepare for the incoming spiciness, Ellis ordered the lactose-free soy drink after I recommended something milk-based to neutralise the heat (although the soy would probably be too low in fat for that purpose). Our noodles arrived soon after.

Chefs Gallery Town Hall, June 2015: Spinach Noodles w Marbled Beef in Sichuan Soup

Chefs Gallery Town Hall, June 2015: Spinach Noodles w Marbled Beef in Sichuan Soup ($16.90)

“Marbled beef dipped in a spicy Sichuan soup with handmade spinach noodles, bamboo shoots and carrot sticks. Beware of the heat,” says the menu. This thing has the maximum 3 chilli icons, compared to Ellis’ 2-chilli icon dan dan noodles. I wasn’t any more starving tonight, but my bowl content volume seemed smaller than memory. I wish I’d been taking pictures back then so I had a visual comparison.

Chefs Gallery Town Hall, June 2015: Dan Dan Noodles w Fried Pork Ribs

Chefs Gallery Town Hall, June 2015: Dan Dan Noodles w Fried Pork Ribs ($16.90)

The previous time I came here, I wrote:

I absolutely loved my big bowl of Sichuan spinach noodles with thinly sliced beef and almost enough spiciness.

I remember the dining partner friend of that night thought I had a cold, because I was getting runny nose from the spicy Sichuan soup base. Tonight my opinion of the same dish changed: The noodles with thinly sliced beef looked smaller, wasn’t anywhere as spicy, and the rest was quite ordinary. But at least the green noodles still had good texture and were cooked right.

I wondered if my food heat tolerance and stomach size had gone up even further after a year, so I looked to the friend across to check how he was enjoying his food. He returned a slightly disappointed look; his dan dan noodles also didn’t live up to his past visits.

Did the food look similar to the menu pictures? Close. Value for money? Not bad. As good as I remembered from my two previous visits a year ago? Not quite. What happened, Chefs Gallery?

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Three months later, another contractor staff is leaving us for another country and we had another farewell lunch at Club Redfern. It’s still Billy’s Kitchen serving Chinese food there, but they’re clearly a lot more organised this time round, with digital menu boards set up and all (which all have the text “meal contains m.s.g” printed on them; I guess they’re at least honest about it).

Our table of 8 ordered Chicken Schnitzel ($9.90), Sweet and Sour Chicken ($9.90), T-Bone Steak ($12.50), and Grilled Fish ($11.50) at the counter. The dishes came in that order after 15-20 minutes or so, and were delivered to us directly by a waitstaff.

Billy's Chinese Kitchen, Club Redfern: Chicken Schnitzel

Billy’s Chinese Kitchen, Club Redfern: Chicken Schnitzel ($9.90)

The Chicken Schnitzel is finally available and the Grilled Fish looked more like it was grilled this time; food arrived quickly and serving size is still good especially for the price. I know we’ll always be returning to Club Redfern as a tradition, so I’m glad to see the Kitchen’s improvement.

Billy's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The PhD student from Basque is returning home after having been here for 3 months (already?). For her farewell lunch, our company went back to Pinocchio’s at Club Redfern. The previous time I went there I thought I would order the grilled halloumi and prosciutto salad next, but they’ve changed the menu on me and nothing else interested me — until I saw the smoked salmon salad specials at the register! (They’ve removed the smoked salmon salad from the menu, too.)

Pinocchio's, Club Redfern: Smoked Salmon Salad

Pinocchio’s, Club Redfern: Smoked Salmon Salad

Very fine for $10 or so. I do love my smoked salmon and fresh vegetables.

I was going to attend an outdoor event at Peats Ridge(!) where my friend Mark was performing, but it just wouldn’t stop raining and the band members dropped out one by one. Change of plans; we decided to have a quick dinner at good old Dooleys in Lidcombe instead.

The last reported time I went there (I’ve been back a couple of times in between) I got the full-serve roast of the day. This time, I ordered the T-bone steak ($22.90 for members; $27.50 for guests).

Dooleys Lidcombe: T-Bone Steak

Dooleys Lidcombe: T-Bone Steak (I got proper steak knives later)

I didn’t get any gravy or sauce on it and somewhat regretted it. The steak was small and so-so; the roast I got the other time was better. Mark got the chicken breast off the specials menu, which didn’t tell us it was going to come with a thick cream sauce on it. While it looked delicious, it could have been disastrous because the friend was lactose intolerant!

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