Dumpling King Chinese Restaurant, Newtown

A place that dares to call itself Dumpling King sounds worthy of a visit from the dumpling queen (that’s me). Well, if nothing else, it certainly sounded like a good dinner option out of the many in Newtown after our film tonight. The Chinese restaurant was quite dark and cramped inside, but the dumpling queen (still me) shall not judge them until she’s sampled their food.

Dumpling King has a fairly extensive menu with all sorts of other Asian dishes offered such as soups, stir fries, rice, noodles, meat and poultry of all varieties, but of course the only fitting items to order from this place tonight were dumplings. We got the steamed version of each available except the Beef & Celery, plus the pork bun that was somehow lumped into the dumpling menu.

Dumpling King, Newtown, June 2015: Mini Pork Buns
Dumpling King, Newtown, June 2015: Mini Pork Buns (10 pieces)

Apparently not miscategorised, and not technically mistranslated. The Mini Steamed Pork Bun ($10.90 for 10 pieces) on the menu is not the steamed barbecue pork bun we expected (and expected no problem finishing all 10 buns even if it was), but proper xiaolongbao down to the soup inside. Proper, but too salty.

Dumpling King, Newtown, June 2015: Prawn Dumplings
Dumpling King, Newtown, June 2015: Prawn Dumplings (10 pieces)

Prawn Dumplings ($12.90 for 10 pieces), also known as har gow. I always look for that pink prawns through translucent wrapping glow in har gows (because when it comes to dumplings I can be pretty wanky am the queen), and thought the wrapping for this tonight was a bit thicker than it could be. The har gow was the dumpling prince consort (that’s Richard)’s favourite.

Dumpling King, Newtown, June 2015: Chicken and Cabbage Dumplings
Dumpling King, Newtown, June 2015: Chicken and Cabbage Dumplings (12 pieces)
Dumpling King, Newtown, June 2015: Pork and Chives Dumplings
Dumpling King, Newtown, June 2015: Pork and Chives Dumplings (12 pieces)

Chicken & Cabbage ($10.90 for 12 pieces) and Pork & Chives ($10.90 for 12 pieces) are classic dumpling filling combinations. The latter was my favourite, but both were delicious.

Dumpling King, Newtown, June 2015: Vegetarian Dumplings
Dumpling King, Newtown, June 2015: Vegetarian Dumplings (8 pieces)

Last but not least, Vegetarian Dumplings ($9.90 for 8 pieces). Okay, maybe it’s last and least; the vegetarian counterpart had mysterious chopped vegetable filling that had little distinct flavour and pretty much just tasted… meatless. It’s not very memorable and definitely not the most exciting of the bunch.

Overall, Dumpling King is another good eat in Newtown. The dumpling queen was satisfied with the meal (she’d better be because she just downed 30 odd dumplings) and generally approves of the restaurant. Providing that they give us a non-leaking vinegar pourer next time, I would happily return for another big meal of dumplings, with maybe a few more dishes from the rest of the menu as well.

Zomato mini logo

Aqua S, Regent Place, Town Hall

Everyone and their dog have been to Aqua S and made a big fuss on social media, so when the good friend told me there’s one near our dinner place, I thought it’s appropriate time for me to get with the times! We got to the Town Hall parlour just before 6:30 pm, and Ellis was surprised there wasn’t a queue. “It’s normally up to here,” he pointed way outside the shop. Eh, what can I say? I tend to be pretty lucky like that.

We went in and saw the small menu of 5 flavours — or 3 really, as two of those were combinations: Sea Salt, Milo, Fruit Punch, Sea Salt with Milo and Sea Salt with Fruit Punch.

Aqua S Town Hall, June 2015: Menu
Aqua S Town Hall, June 2015: Menu

Or… 2. As soon as I took the picture of the digital menu and got to the counter, a staff had papered out the two with Fruit Punch. So much for being lucky. tongue Sea Salt with Milo it is.

Aqua S Town Hall, June 2015: Sea Salt with Milo (Cone)
Aqua S Town Hall, June 2015: Sea Salt with Milo (Cone)
Aqua S Town Hall, June 2015: Sea Salt with Milo (Small Cup)
Aqua S Town Hall, June 2015: Sea Salt with Milo (Cup S)

The topping options available were fairy floss, sweet popcorn, popping candy (pop rocks) and grilled marshmallow, at an extra for $1.50. They felt a little too obscure for me tonight, so I only had the ice cream in a small cup ($3.80), while Ellis grabbed the cone version ($3.80). I watched as the staff served various customers; I liked how they carefully filled the inside of the waffle cones.

The soft serve itself was cold and sweet with a nice contrast of the hint of saltiness. I liked the bright blue Sea Salt, which is convenient as I understood it’s their standard flavour. Milo was okay; I would have opted for Fruit Punch instead if it was available.

I think the appeal of Aqua S is their ever changing flavours and unusual toppings. From this one visit tonight with half the flavours off the menu and my lack of interest in the pricey toppings offered, I don’t quite see myself becoming a regular. Big thumbs up to their marketing department, though!

Zomato mini logo

Chefs Gallery, Regent Place, Town Hall

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?

Zomato mini logo

Bar Angolo Pizzeria, Top Ryde Shopping Centre, Ryde

It was getting quite late after a secret event I attended in the area (hint: the word “girt” was used in the event), so instead of our original plan of driving to a nearby suburb for familiar food, we decided to try something in the nearby-nearby Top Ryde Shopping Centre. Italian sounded appetising tonight and Bar Angolo Pizzeria is just on the nearby-nearby-nearby ground floor!

Bar Angolo has a decent-sized menu for the size of the place, with all sorts of antipasti, pasta, pizza, mains, gelato and other Italian desserts available. We casually noted how much the restaurant pride themselves on being authentic and “sorry no super supreme, meat lovers, pineapple or half & half pizza / please refrain from modifications“; for the authenticity and higher quality of food you trade for potentially slower service. That wouldn’t do as it was getting even later after the secret girt event, so I resisted the temptation of ordering authentic lasagne and settled on some authentic pizzas.

Bar Angolo Pizzeria, Top Ryde, June 2015: Diavola Pizza
Bar Angolo Pizzeria, Top Ryde, June 2015: Diavola Pizza ($22)

Pizza one was the Diavola ($22), with mozzarella, spicy salamino and basil on a tomato base. Pizza two was the Bar Angolo speciale ($23) also on a tomato base, with mozzarella, salame, ricotta, olives and mushrooms. Thankfully, authentic pizzas didn’t take too long to be done after the waiter with an authentic Italian accent took our order.

(I promise I’ll give this authentic thing a rest soon. wink )

Bar Angolo Pizzeria, Top Ryde, June 2015: Bar Angolo Speciale Pizza
Bar Angolo Pizzeria, Top Ryde, June 2015: Bar Angolo Speciale Pizza ($23)

The pizzas arrived in their 24-hour-risen, 31-cm, hand-stretched, hot-stoned dough glory. The crusts were satisfactory and a little thicker than I expected (not a complaint), and we excused the non-spicy spicy salamino as a lack of heat seems to be a common Italian cuisine feature. The biggest disappointment, though, was the tomato sauce base that we couldn’t quite taste, perhaps drowned out by the extreme saltiness of both pizzas.

I don’t know if I had developed higher expectations from reading about the food’s authenticity and higher quality advertised everywhere on the menu and walls, but the pizzas we had tonight weren’t very impressive. Sadly, I don’t see myself going out of my way to revisit the pizzeria for the pizzas. I wonder if the better choice would have been the lasagne. Authentic lasagne.

Bar Angolo Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

He Cooks: Fresh Squid

Richard caught squid. Richard cooked squid. We ate squid!

Not pictured: The squid tube after it was all cleaned out, which looked suspiciously like the squeezy mayonnaise bottle that we just bought and used to make the dipping sauce.

Dish rating: Ten out of tentacles!

Fruit Platter and Flight Meal on Qantas Flight QF925

Qantas QF925, 3-hour Cairns-to-Sydney domestic return flight, economy class. I didn’t realise how greasy my phone camera has become over the trip until I looked at these photos!

The fruit platter I got on my flight to Cairns wasn’t quite a platter for variety. It got better on the return trip with 6 different fruits (black currants, orange slice, pineapple, honeydew, rockmelon, watermelon), but without the whole banana that Qantas fruit platter meals tend to have in my experience.

Qantas QF925: Fruit Platter
Qantas QF925: Fruit Platter (lunch)

Normal lunch menu had two options: green curry chicken or Thai beef salad. Richard chose the hot item, which would have been my choice as well had I not signed up for the special meal.

Qantas QF925: Green Curry Chicken
Qantas QF925: Green Curry Chicken (lunch)

And it was a good choice. The green curry chicken on white rice was also a light meal, but at least it wasn’t dry and looked unappetising like the Thai beef salad with the rice vermicelli.

Qantas QF925: Lindor Chocolate Truffles
Qantas QF925: Lindor Chocolate Truffles (snack)

I was expecting them to hand out a snack as they did on our first flight. It’s Lindor chocolate truffles. I didn’t need the extra sugar, so I donated it to Richard who, since we’re “technically still on holidays”, gladly adopted.

Qantas QF925: Ice Cream Bar
Qantas QF925: Ice Cream Bar (snack)

But wait, there’s more! After the chocolates, there’s also ice cream bars! Best economy class domestic flight meal service or what?

Food and Catering at Pullman Cairns International

We stayed at the Pullman Cairns International Hotel for the duration of my half business half pleasure work play trip in Cairns, and for the week we had various foods from the hotel restaurant and catering, starting every day with a delicious breakfast at the buffet!

Buffet Breakfast

I absolutely loved the breakfast buffet, and so when we extended our stay, we got breakfast with our room extension as well. Most breakfast items you could think of are available here, including even Chinese congee and Japanese miso soup.

There is an egg station in the middle where a staff helps cook eggs to your liking. I didn’t try that because there’s often a queue, and I was quite happy with their buffet egg options — fried available on all days and scrambled in different texture on different days.

Conference Catering

We had the hotel catering for the conference, and the food quality was exceptional. There were different foods on the three days for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, with hot foods, cold foods, finger foods, desserts, fruits, and some vegetarian and gluten free options available.

The only annoying thing was how efficient they were at clearing everything as soon as another session of talks started. What were we the exhibitors meant to eat and drink when we actually had free time? But seriously, best conference food ever.

Conference Dinners (Reception and Gala)

We had a light, buffet style reception dinner on the first night by the pooldeck. There were salads, 5 or 6 hot dishes such as rump steak (perfect pink), sausages and potatoes, and desserts (panna cotta, chocolate mousse cake, lemon curd tart and mini pavlova) that even appealed to someone without a sweet tooth like me. No pictures because it was quite dark at the event, and I didn’t want to risk dropping my phone into the pool.

The conference dinner in the Grand Ballroom on the Saturday night was $135 per person, and most conference delegates, sponsors and guests attended the event. The food quality was decent, but the quantity simply couldn’t possibly satisfy me. There was also live band entertainment that also wasn’t my thing (wrong era, wrong genre, volume too high). I guess this dinner was more about the social than the meal itself.

Overall, I’m very happy with the food at the Pullman Cairns International Hotel. It’s definitely a choice if you want to impress and for the most part had made work more pleasant for me.

Click to add a blog post for Coco's Restaurant on Zomato