Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant – Chatswood, Sydney

I’m not a big fan of spicy food. I always seem to break out in pimples if I eat too much chilli, so I try and avoid it as much as I can. I also don’t really like not being able to feel my tongue or lips when I eat food that is too spicy. However, the call of the new Sichuan restaurant in Chatswood was too strong.

Once you step into the restaurant, you are transported to China. The interior of the restaurant is decked out in furniture from China. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, it just reminds me of when I was in China at the beginning of this year. Ah, memories. However, I’m sure that we’re a lot cleaner in Australia than they are in China.

We are seated at a table with a glass tabletop, it’s weird being able to see your feet while you’re flipping through the encyclopaedia of a menu. Truthfully, the menu wasn’t THAT thick, it was quite big though. It gave me the feeling of trying to read the Sydney Morning Herald on a cramped train (reminds me of a clip I saw on Chaser’s War on Everything). The pictures were great though, I love a menu with heaps of pictures. They were vibrant and making me salivate. Everything looked so good, but there was only 3 of us (the boyfriend, dad and me), so we couldn’t order too much. To my surprise, I found out that dad had never eaten Sichuan food before. Guess it makes sense, he’s not a fan of spicy food either.

Nevertheless, they have a great range of spicy and non spicy options to suit all palates. Whether you’re into spicy foods or a pansy like me, you’ll find something that you’ll enjoy. Every table received complementary pickles, which is a nice appetizer as it whets your appetite. Unfortunately, I spent so much time taking photos that the boyfriend and my dad gobbled most of it up before I had a chance, and the waiter wasn’t willing to give me a little top up.

Complimentary Sichuan Pickles
A mixture of cabbage, carrot and turnip pickled in a vinegar and chilli solution.

Complimentary Pickled Garlic
Surprisingly the pickled garlic is quite appetizing and mild in flavour, not the pungent garlic flavour you expect.

Complimentary Pickled Cucumber
Slightly too soft for my liking, I prefer my pickles to be quite crunchy. The softer it is, the longer it has been sitting in the pickling liquid, which means it will be quite sour.

Sliced Beef, Beef Tongue and Tripe with Chilli Sauce $9.80
Everything was very tender which contrasted nicely with the crunchy peanuts. I avoided mixing it with the chilli sauce to save myself. However, everything was in a heap which didn’t allow me to identify the 3 elements that made up this dish. It did seem like most of it was sliced beef.

Jellyfish Head with Sliced Cucumbers, Red Chillies in Chilli Oil $16.80
I love jellyfish. I think most Asians love jellyfish. Yes, the animal is weird and many would never eat it, but I think the texture and the taste are absolutely wonderful. The jellyfish has an elastic texture, yet it is crunchy on the outside. Go figure.

Steamed Pork with Sweet Potatoes $16.60
The pork sits on a bed of sweet potatoes with a generous serving of sauce on top of this gorgeous mound. The pork is so soft and wonderful. It pairs well with the sweet potato as there is the combination of salty and sweet. Asians love incorporating sweetness into a dish, the sweet potato’s natural sweetness played the role quite well.

Accompanying Bao Dumpling with the Steamed Pork and Sweet Potato
This acts like rice in accompanying a dish. However, this bao was quite dry and hard and did not do anything to enhance the dish.

Hot Pot Beef $20.80
The look of this dish is quite scary. The beef is in a bowl of molten-like chilli oil. Luckily they have a slotted spoon for you to scoop out the beef without too much chilli oil attached. The beef is so soft and I guess I would call it silky. You don’t feel like you’re eating beef at all.

Diced Deep Fried Chicken with Hot Dry Chilli $18.80
I know this just looks like a plate of dried chillies, but in actual fact, there are small cubes of chicken hiding in the skins of the chillies. This dish just reminds me of popcorn chicken from KFC. I don’t like having to search through a mount of chillies to find a small piece of chicken.

Steamed and Deep Fried Chinese Bread served with Condensed Milk $9.80
I wouldn’t call this ‘bread’, these are mantous. I live off this when I go back to China. I’m more of a fan of the steamed mantou rather than the fried. The condensed milk makes this dish a dessert, but it can be also be eaten with savoury dishes as an alternative to rice.

By the end of the meal, my belly is full and my lips are quite numb. The chilli has taken its toll on me even though I tried to avoid it at any chance I had. The thing about Sichuan food is that each dish may not be as spicy as it looks. However, while you progress through the meal, each piece of food you put into your mouth, even when it’s not spicy, seems that little bit more spicy. By the end of the meal, you would have felt like you ate a chilli straight up. But give it some time and you will start to feel your tongue and lips again, then you’ll want to try it all over again.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant
1/272 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood NSW 2067
T: (02) 9411 3298

Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lao Village – Fairfield, Sydney

On Saturday, while it was 30°C where I live, I decided to venture out towards the west where the temperature was hitting 33°C. Why would I do that? For the love of food of course. After an intense night of drinking with friends, I built up enough strength to jump into the car and drive to Fairfield to have lunch.

I have been visiting Lao Village since my high school days (at least 8 years ago). I have always loved this place. I don’t know how I found out about it, but it has been one of my favourite restaurants since forever. Although the interior looks a little bit run down and old, the food and the friendliness of the staff makes up for it. I have seen the price of the dishes go up slowly, but the prices are still quite reasonable in this day and age.

I always seem to order the same dishes every time I visit. I like to order what I know I will absolutely enjoy. Without further ado, here comes the food.

Paw Paw Salad Lao Style with Crab and Anchovies $8.00
The crunchiness of the raw paw paw gives this dish some texture. It absorbs the saltiness from the anchovies and sauce. The paw paw entangles some dried shrimp, and tomato to create a very pleasant salad.

BBQ Marinated Ox Tongue $8.00
This is where my love for ox tongue began. The ox tongue is cooked to perfection, moist with a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Squid Salad $9.00
Every time I go to Lao Village, I ALWAYS order this dish. The squid is so soft and it is drenched in a tangy fish sauce. I’m not a fan of onion so usually by the end, only the onions are left on the plate, but my mum swears they taste delicious.

Lao Pork Sausage and Dried Beef (Lao Beef Jerky) $8.00
You can normally get these two separately at $8.00 a pop, or you can choose to sample these on the same dish, they just give you half and half.

The Lao Pork Sausage is quite moist and flavourful. I would have preferred it to be a little bit more cooked as the inside had a kind of raw meat texture. Cooking it more would’ve created a contrast between the crunchy outside and the soft filling.

The Dried Beef (Lao Beef Jerky) is my least favourite dish. I find the beef quite dry (I know it’s jerky, but the ones they sell in Cabramatta are so moist) and quite fatty.

A seemingly innocent egg..

..but it is in actual fact a Balut, a Baby Duck Egg $2.50
Balut, for readers who don’t know, is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly developed embryo inside. This means that yes, there may be some bones or if you’re lucky, maybe even some feathers. I cringe at the thought of eating this, but my mum seems to enjoy it.

Sticky Rice $2.50
It is served in a basket made out of bamboo. The sticky rice is served this way as it is a Laotian tradition. The correct way to eat this: you take a ball of  this sticky rice and soak up all the sauce from the Paw Paw Salad and the Squid Salad. Alternatively, you just eat it like you would with normal steamed rice.

I absolutely adore this restaurant. It has been open for 27 years and I hope it will continue to operate for many years to come. It makes driving 45 minutes out west very much worth it. There is another Lao restaurant that is open next door. I have tried it once, but have made up my mind that Lao Village is best Lao restaurant for me.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

Lao Village
1-3 Anzac Avenue
Fairfield NSW 2165
T: (02) 9728 7136

Lao Village on Urbanspoon

MasterChef LIVE Australia

Hi Everyone!

MasterChef LIVE Australia is coming to Sydney in December. Over 3 days there will be live theatre shows, cooking demonstrations, heaps of stalls and a stack of celebrity chefs. Currently, taste.com.au have an offer on. 2 for 1 tickets to MasterChef LIVE! This offer is available for Gold and Silver tickets for the Friday and Sunday. So that’s $70 for 2 Gold tickets, how cheap is that? There are many sessions per day that you can choose from. This offer ends next week, so if you were planning to go then buy your tickets soon. I just bought 4 tickets and I got pretty good seating. I assume this will be like the Good Food and Wine show but better. I’m excited to be going. I hope to bag heaps of goodies!

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

Jack New (Chef Black Jacket)

I first met Jack at the beginning of this year when I started my Hospitality degree at William Blue. Jack was quiet and kept to himself a lot, little did I know that he was a fellow foodie. He loved food with such a passion, it was quite admirable. He’s one of those people who are not afraid to experiment with different flavours and to mix what seemed like savoury ingredients into a sweet dish.

His latest obsession is beetroot. I personally absolutely love beetroot. It’s such a unique vegetable. The colour, the flavour the texture. I love how beetroot is a natural dye and it stains onto other ingredients in a dish. Also, it just seems so Australia to love beetroot. Maybe it’s because I was born and raised in this beautiful country that I love many things that are considered ‘Australian’. So I was intrigued when Jack made dishes such as cakes, crepes, souffles,  and penne out of the humble beetroot. He even managed to candy beetroot, I’m impressed.

Beetroot and Chocolate Cake with Creme Anglais, Chocolate Sauce and Raspberries

Jack currently runs a blog where you can ask all sort of food related questions. If you want him to post a recipe with a certain ingredient in it, feel free to ask. Other bloggers such as yourtimetoshine requested for a recipe with lemon in it, soon after Jack posted a recipe for a classic lemon meringue pie.

His inspiration for his blog stemmed from when he realised that some of his friends lacked any knowledge of anything to do with food. This has become a common things amongst the younger generations as there seems to be an easy access to both processed and fast food. With this in mind, Jack thought, “Well, if I’m going to try and educate these people, I may as well try and educate everyone else as well.” So that’s what he set out to do. Not only does he educate people through his blog, but he also holds masterclasses to teach people with a hands on approach.

Jack plating up one of his latest recipes (Chicken with Roast Apple and Beetroot Salad)

At the age of 18, Jack has submerged himself in the world of food. He currently works at Centennial Park Dining in Sydney. His experience takes him from Bistro C in Noosa Heads, Queensland, to Pier Restaurant in Sydney’s Rose Bay. At such a young age, he has worked in an array of restaurants. I hope to see him succeed in his journey to educate the masses.

Jack’s favourites:

  • His favourite receipe is his Beetroot and Chocolate Cake (as seen above). He loves it as it’s “a little weird but still tastes heaps good.”
  • His favourite restaurant at the moment is Baroque in Sydney’s The Rocks. He enjoys their take on modern french cuisine.
  • His favourite chef is Rick Stein. Rick Stein helped Jack fall in love with cooking.

Jack’s tip that everyone should follow is “that cooking should always be creation and not construction, the more love you put into your meal, the better it will taste!” Such wise words that are so true. There is a feeling of self satisfaction when you cook up a meal from scratch and share it with loved ones. You put your heart into cooking it and your friends and family will taste it as well.

Jack is currently writing a book called Black Jacket. He will also begin to film a web series also called Black Jacket in November of this year.

“Black Jacket is going to be the name of a show, a book and most of all a movement. To change what food is to the next generation, to change the focus of food from consumption to creation.

To inspire Generation Y to eat healthier, to show them that the pinnacle of the food world isn’t the double whopper burger in fact.. it’s not even the $5 stunner deal. Shock Horror.

Using mine and other peoples time and experiences in the hospitality industry we will make Black Jacket a movement to take good food and make it accessible to the new age of high school and uni students, to create a better future for food and to raise up a new generation of ‘foodies’.” ~ Jack New.

Visit Jack’s blog and ask him some questions. I’m sure he’ll be willing to answer your questions.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!