Sunday, 29 January 2017

Club Sosay - Paddington

Without a doubt, Board Game Cafes have started popping up with quite a bit of frequency lately in Brisbane. For people my age (working, but still living at home), it offers us the opportunity for a place to catch up for an extended period without inconveniencing others and also giving us the chance to enjoy some games. Whilst a significant drive from the Southside, one of the more popular board game cafes is Club Sosay, in Paddington, which is where we went last Saturday.

For the flat fee of $5, we could play any games that they had and sit for as long as we wanted. At the sight of the games available for us to choose, the inner child in us could not be contained. 

But onto our more pressing concerns, one of our friends, for whatever reason decided to have a huge pot of English Breakfast on a hot summer’s day, very adult-like for our session of awesome board games. 

After a playing a round of game of LIFE we decided to relax with some Criss-Cross chips served with Sosay Sauce (a vegan Lime Aioli sauce mix). I enjoyed them as a good snack but felt they were a little over done as they were a bit hard on the outside and not as fluffy as I would have liked. The sauce was also not as creamy as it could have been.

The next snack we tried was a small homemade ham and pineapple pizza o. I found the pizza topping to be quite generous. Whilst I can definitely say I have had better pizzas. The base itself was very thick and reminded me of frozen supermarket varieties, and the pineapples also tasted like they were of the canned type. Having said this, I was able to appreciate the pizza in this setting and note that Club Sosay should definitely not be rated on the same basis as other gourmet pizzerias. 

To wash it all down I ordered a Lemon Lime Bitters which was a cheery fizzy drink. I did note they served the drink by the cup from the bottle. Overall we enjoyed our time at Club Sosay with the board games and homey snacks and drinks. It was an interesting experience that we rarely have the time to enjoy.

Price Range: $5 - $20pp

Taste: 5/10
Value: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 7/10

Club Sosay Boardgames Cafe & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Kuta Cafe - Mt Cootha

Sunday afternoons are often a time filled with great sadness and a longing for the weekend that has inadvertently been wasted binge-watching tv shows and making up for lost sleep. In times of such sadness, going up to a lookout always alleviates it by putting my issues into perspective. Which is why last Sunday afternoon, my companion and I took a quick drive up to Mt Cootha for some late sunshine and some afternoon tea at Kuta Cafe.

Unlike other counter service restaurants which give you a number before you order, we ordered at the counter and were asked which number we sat at (there were a number of placeholders spread across the seating area).

This afternoon, we had two serves of English Break. Both were of the store bought teabag variety, which was a shame, as we both like the loose leaf type much more. The pot barely made one and a half of those little cups, when we would have wanted a little more.

Unlike the tea, the chips were quite generous in portion. Considering that it was herbed, I could see that they made the effort to make stand out a little, but despite being hot, the chips were not really crispy, but more oily and cooled to quite a soggy state. 

Whilst the food wasn't great, the views definitely were a highlight, and without a doubt that is what keeps bringing people back to Kuta.

Price Range: $5 - $15pp

Taste: 4/10
Value: 4/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 9/10

Kuta Cafe & Gifts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 23 January 2017

Sushi & Nori - Bowen Hills

Being a long term subscriber to a lot of the foodie newsletters, I was recently alerted to the soon to be completed dining precinct along King Street in Bowen Hills. Normally, I would wait for the precinct to be completed before venturing out to explore, but on this occasion, I saw quite a few photos of the newly opened Sushi & Nori, which were so captivating, I couldn't get it out of my mind. Not wanting to wait, we headed there after work for dinner. Being located on a relatively new street, we had some issues getting there (the street isn't even on apple maps yet).

We were greeted quite warmly at the entrance, and got two seats along the train line. The restaurant was noticeably quite empty when we went there (6.30pm on a Thursday night), other than us, there was only one table, which left shortly after we arrived.

Menus were provided to allow us the opportunity to order. I really liked how they have put their own spin on a few regular sushi dishes.

We ordered what was probably the most expensive hot green tea I've ever had at a Japanese restaurant. At $4 a cup, it really didn't stand out as being any different from other shops which serve complimentary tea or price it at $1 - $2. After we finished the first cup, we asked for a refill, and was told by the first waitress that they don't do refills and to get a new cup of tea, it would be an extra $4 per person, which really didn't impress, this was later corrected when another staff member came and told us that there was a miscommunication and the $4 did come with refills. 

Soy sauce and ginger were provided on the table. I found the little soy sauce jug to be rather cute.

All the sushi on the conveyor belt were priced at a flat $4.50, with special orders being $8.00. Considering that the conveyor belt sushi market has been a gradual race to the bottom with prices (since the rise of Sushi Edo, many have followed suit to either match or beat their prices), I found it intriguing that they would go for a significantly higher price. What I saw definitely impressed. Each plate was beautifully presented as if it were a work of art.

We started with three plates.

This was the fresh tuna nigiri, which I started my meal with. It was presented very well. I could see the chef placed a lot of care into slicing the fish to just the right thickness before arranging the black caviar and garnish. The tuna was deliciously fresh and had a good springy texture to it. The rice also had a good texture, but unfortunately was seasoned with so much sugar I could almost not handle it. Dipping it in soy sauce didn't help either, as the soy sauce was also exceptionally sweet. At this point I would have thought that my taste buds had lost their mind for such a gorgeous looking plate to have tasted the way it did. Had it not been for my companion confirming this, I would have seriously gone to get a checkup.

The same comments about the rice and soysauce could be said for all the other dishes, so I'll keep the descriptions short for the rest. This was the kingfish nigiri. The fish was also quite generous and fresh. I also liked the contrast between caviar colours. 

The santa roll came as one of the more generic options on the menu. With salmon and avocado on the inside, and more salmon on the outside, it was definitely generous with copious amounts of salmon, but the rice seasoning was still a letdown.

This was the grilled scallop roll. The grilled scallop was hidden beneath the tobiko, and the roll also contained seafood stick. It was quite drenched in sauces, teriyaki and mayonnaise, which took my mind off the seasoning, and we ate it without soy sauce.

We went back to another nigiri, this time seared scallop, because we spied the chef making a fresh batch. The scallop was seared to perfection, and my companion also liked that bit of the sushi.

By this time, I was getting quite sick of the really sweet rice, but my companion told me to give it one last shot. We settled for the unagi, which was also really sweet, and unfortunately not very warm. On the other hand, it was probably one of the best presented unagi nigiri I've had in Brisbane (never seen an unagi get garnished).

Giving up on the rice, I opted for something else, and settled on the tuna and kingfish salad, which was again beautiful. The fish was chopped into little cubes and mixed with a sweet vinegarette, which I tolerated more than the sushi. Unfortunately though, halfway through the cup, we hit a rather large (unpeeled) slice of lime. If we weren't looking carefully I might have scooped it into my mouth to have quite a rude shock, but we noticed it and dodged it. Whilst I appreciate that adding lime juice gives it zing, I don't think that a whole slice with skin was really necessary.

Still not full, my companion ordered me a medium serve of sashimi. Again, presentation was impeccable, and for the first time that evening, I was given some wasabi. The wasabi was freshly grated (thankfully), and mixed with the soy sauce to alleviate some of the sweetness. The fish was super fresh, and professionally sliced. I also got my first try of prawn sashimi that day and did quite enjoy it.

  Having seen the photos, I really wanted to love Sushi & Nori, especially since they evidently put a lot of effort into making each dish with quality ingredients. However given the quite fatal flaws with an essential part of the meal (rice and soy sauce), I really can't recommend this place and unless drastic improvements are made, I don't think I can come back. 

Price Range: $4.50 per plate, $8.00 per special

Taste: 4/10 (fresh fish, rice texture was good)
Value: 4/10 (the tea issue really put me off)
Service: 6/10 (again, the tea issue)
Environment: 9/10 (clean and new)

Sushi & Nori Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 20 January 2017

Little Singapore - Sunnybank

When it comes to Singaporean food, there are few icons as well known in Brisbane than Little Singapore. The popularity of this original store has lead to the opening of many in their chain like Little Hong Kong and Little Nyonya. A friend of mine is a huge fan of Malaysian food, which is why we went there for our last Saturday lunch.

I still remember the restaurant when it opened quite a few years ago now, but as restaurants do, it has been quite worn down with its age. The once white leather chairs were quite stained, and the tables had a lot of scratch marks. We were shown in very quickly and given a table.

Their menu came as a large fold out card. Options were less than I had remembered from last time, but it covered all the essentials.

My first companion, being ever the fan every thing stir fried (rice, noodles, anything really), ordered the chow kway teow. The serving size was quite average, but reasonable. The noodles were tender, and quite caramelised. I snuck a bite and really liked it. It was really well flavoured with some preserved sausage, sprouts and fish cake. 

My other companion got the Hainan Chicken Rice. The chicken was fresh and tasty, and boneless which is always a plus. The rice was very fragrant, as it was evidently cooked with chicken soup, but could have been a little softer for my liking, whilst the bowl of soup on the side gave my companion some much needed moisture to the meal, although it had quite a bit of msg taste to it. 

My choice was the Egg sauce stir fried ho fan. I liked how saucy it was, and the fact that the noodles were well fried under all the sauce. The toppings, fish cake, prawns, chicken, and veges were quite generous too. I enjoyed the texture and slightly burnt taste of the noodles.

Price Range: $10 - $20pp

Taste: 7/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 7/10

Little Singapore Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Cha Tea - Sunnybank

Before Sonder became the place to be for after dinner drinks of the non alcoholic variant, our go to place was always without a doubt the long established Cha Tea, a little tea store situated along Zamia street, away from the bustle of Sunnybank Plaza. Being a rather dimly lit place with quite a bit of ambiance, I was a little surprised to see glaring bright lights after an apparent refurbishment, so we decided to go and check out whether there was anything different from what we had been used to.

Long gone were the booth seats which we used to cram eight people into for some late night catch ups, and in their place were some very elegant white leather chairs in their dazzling new store.

The menu that we had grown accustomed to has also been subject to quite a bit of an overhaul, and quite a few of the specialty teas and pot options (rather than mugs) are sadly no longer an option. 

In line with the old store, we ordered at the counter.

One of the more pleasant changes was the addition of a display cabinet, which had now gained a larger assortment of cakes for us to take our pick from. As for the variety of cakes available, I noted the matcha cheesecake and tiramisu was exactly the same as I had remembered them. However due to how full we were, we opted not to get any cakes.

Our drinks arrived shortly after, with a friend ordering the Passion Fruit Green Tea with Jelly and Pearls. We were a little disappointed that the glass wasn't quite as full as we would have liked, but my friend did say he really enjoyed the refreshingly fruity taste of the passion fruit in the drink, along with the chewy pearls and jelly topping.

My other companion settled on the iced coffee which was much more fuller than the Passion Fruit Tea. It came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a swirl of cream on top. My friend really liked how it wasn't overly sweet, and was really milky, but thought that it could been better if it had a stronger coffee flavour to it. Perhaps the large volume diluted the shots.

Wanting something to assist in my digestion of dinner, I settled for the AliShan mountain tea. It was served in a really tall mug, tall enough to compare with my companions with their cold drinks. I found it to be exceptionally strong, with a very full bodied taste, much to my liking. 

Price Range: $3 - $10pp

Taste: 8/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 8/10

Cha Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 13 January 2017

Charboys - Brisbane CBD

12 January 2017 was an exceptionally hot day. Normally on days like this, I would never even contemplate leaving the office, even if it means I have to eat instant noodles, packed lunches (or more recently, just get it delivered). However on this day, which reached a peak of 35 degrees with a real feel of 39 degrees, I ventured to the other side of the city, because my beloved Charboys was reopening. Long term readers of mine will recall that I did a review of them when they were situated in West End, at the Boundary Street Markets. They closed not long after my review when the markets were shut down last year and it broke my heart. So when I heard that they were reopening outside of Taros Express after a long hiatus, I dropped everything, disregarded the sweltering heat and went out at once.

What I had originally thought was some sort of separator hedge, turned out to actually be their centre of operations. It was essentially a food truck without the wheels, or something akin to a certain shipping container. Customers ordered from the counter and their receipt had a number which they called when the food was ready.

Their menu remained largely the same as it used to be, with the addition of the Brekkie Burger and Southern Style Chicken Burger. Whilst they had two options for fries on the menu, I was advised that for now they were only serving regular size until further notice.

Seating was quite limited, with around half a dozen tables and stools in the space between Charboys and Taros, but it was relatively easy to find a seat because most people had gotten their orders to go (maybe because it was so hot).


Despite the slight backlog of orders, my food was prepared in seven minutes, which is always good when you're pressed for time during a lunch break.

My companion ordered the Cheeseburger, which contained a beef patty, American cheddar, Tomato, Onion, Lettuce, Charboys special sauce, along with ketcup and mustard, with an extra addition of bacon. In short, he loved the burger, especially the meat which struck a good balance between chunkiness and crumbliness. He said that it was hearty without being oily, and the sauce combo was just right.

After ordering, my companion also happened to realise that he forgot to put in an order for a side of chips. Making a latter addition, we were both surprised and impressed by significantly larger portion which almost filled up a whole tray (which means that I could steal some off him). As for the taste, they were super crunchy and freshly fried. My readers will know that my preference is for shoestring fries, and these were the perfect cut. They were also really well seasoned, which set itself apart from the competition (my companion swears it was chicken salt). Whilst fries may not be very expensive, a little generosity like this goes a long way in making customers feel appreciated.

Like my order at Mr Burger, I chose the Double with a side of regular fries. It came with double beef, double cheese, onion, tomato, lettuce, Charboys special sauce, ketchup and mustard. I have to say that this was probably the best burger I've had in my life. It has has either dethroned Miel in my heart, or at least ranks equal to it. The milk bun was fluffy and soft on the inside, and nice and toasty on the outside. It didn't have sesame, which was appreciated, and I also liked the glaze, which was very aesthetically pleasing. As my companion mentioned, the meat was perfect. It was grilled to just the right amount of caramelisation, well seasoned, and crumbled in my mouth to then get mixed up with the gooey tasty cheddar cheese. The salads were fresh, but they didn't make up that much of the burger. Maybe a couple more slices of lettuce would have balanced it a little more. As for the sauces, they were mind blowing. With three sauces in a burger, I could see Charboys made a real effort to make sure that the sauce had a right consistency to cling to the burger rather than running out. Overall, its the closest thing I've had to a perfect burger. Thank goodness they are back!

Price Range: $11 - $25pp

Taste: 9.5/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Environment: 6/10

Charboys Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato