I'm Still Hungry | A Sydney Food Blog
Sadhana Kitchen Cover

Sadhana Kitchen | Enmore

Celebrating, and accepting variety is supposedly one of the hallmarks of a modern, civilised society. Dietary preferences, naturally, fall under this umbrella as well. Australians are acutely aware of or engaging in many a ‘fad’ diets – paleo, low-carb, 5:2, liquid-only, fast & feast, greens & whites only, etc.

In the end, it’s your own body and thus, your own responsibility to sort out fact from fiction, because variety is the spice of life, right?

I’ve never really followed a fad diet, so I eat whatever, as long as it’s delicious. But then, I visit a place like Sadhana Kitchen. Raw, vegetarian foodism is what it’s all about – using organic ingredients that are not heated to more than 40C in the cooking process. Wow, how was an omnivore like me going to cope with a restriction like that? What would even prompt me to visit such a place? A curious and open mind goes a long way…

Date Last Visited: 14/9/2014
Address: 147 Enmore Rd Enmore, NSW 2042
Recommended Dish(es): raw cakes, Sadhana super bowl, Sadhana Lasagne (the latter two together)

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Reuben Hills

Reuben Hills | Surry Hills

The last time I visited Reuben Hills cafe was before I started blogging.

Wow. Now, I do have fond memories of the awesome, if somewhat odd, inclusion of an ice cream sandwich on the menu for breakfast, but that was part of this place’s charm. A talking point, a conversation starter amongst cafe explorers, if you will. In the end though, it wasn’t good enough to warrant a return visit, but that’s also just as much due to Sydney’s hyperactive cafe turnover and the eternal desire to try something new.

So when a long-overdue catchup between two friends was on the cards, so is this Surry Hills eatery. Sure, there were a million and one other choices, but it would a most interesting experiment to see just how much a cafe could change in two years.

Date Last Visited: 7/9/14
Address: 61 Albion St Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Recommended Dish(es): broken omelette roll w/bacon jam

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Sepia Restaurant

Sepia Restaurant | Sydney CBD

Having blogged about Sepia Restaurant twice before, I was at a loss on how to work an introduction. But then, only two days after it was crowned “Restaurant of the Year”  by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2014-2015.

There is a certain hearsay that coalesces in the reader’s mind when they see a superlative like “Restaurant of the Year”. It’s quite the accolade to live up to; the experience had better be world-class, right? I decided to treat my parents to Sepia as they just went through a busy period at work. A ‘Restaurant of the Year’ ought to cut it.

With a degustation price of $180 (mandatory Fridays/Saturdays), you don’t tend to make a habit of revisiting a fine dining restaurant like Sepia unless each visit is an courant. This is why restaurants of Sepia’s calibre are on the edge – constantly innovating, risking everything to continually advance culinary art. Despite visiting Sepia four times, I’ve never had the same dish twice (bar certain signatures), and that’s part of the reason why I keep coming back. Fourth time is the new third time lucky.

Date Last Visited: 29/8/2014
Address: 201 Sussex St Sydney, NSW 2000
Recommended Dish(es): rock oysters w/lime & rice wine vinegar, sashimi of yellow fin tuna, butter poached spanner crab

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Three Bags Full | Melbourne

Those familiar with Aesop’s Tortoise and the Hare know that the tortoise wins in the end due to the hare’s hubris and sloth. When it comes to my food blogging, I’m the sum of the worst parts of both hare and tortoise – I’m slow like the tortoise, as lazy as the hare.

This is why it takes me nearly a year to get my post out on Three Bags Full, despite the fact that I already revisited Melbourne in between, and that host of adventures inevitably delayed a whole lot longer.

My Achilles heel, perhaps. However – just like the fabled battler, I get there in the end. Melbourne, I will not let you down!

Date Last Visited: 30/11/13
Address: 60 Nicholson St Abbotsford, VIC 3067
Recommended Dish(es): braised pulled pork shoulder on toasted brioche

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John Smith Cafe

John Smith Specialty Cafe | Waterloo

Whenever a hot new stud of a cafe opens up in Sydney, you put some big bucks that I’m Still Hungry will be there right away, covering the juicy goodness.

Then you’ll lose the bet – so it’s true, I’m not great at covering new restaurant openings. I’m usually one of the later bloggers to make my mark. Partly, it’s because of time, but the proper pretext is that I want to give the place a chance to establish itself, as there are usually teething issues at the beginning that don’t necessarily see immediate resolution. There’s a reason why restaurants fear reviewers coming in on the first day.

Sure, John Smith Specialty Cafe hasn’t even seen its third month of existence yet, but with exceptional soup, some serious coffee and pulled pork everything, I just could not pass this place up.

Date Last Visited: 22/8/14
Address: 1 John St Waterloo, NSW 2017
Recommended Dish(es): pulled pork benedict, soup of the day

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Chin Chin | Melbourne

Chin Chin is one of the hottest Melbourne restaurants, both figuratively and literally. The hype for this place just does not die down – I’ve followed it for a years, and when I finally had the chance to visit, the queues were as Great-Wallian as ever.

Surely, a simple restaurant styled around contemporary Malay cuisine cannot generate such buzz? Granted, Malay food is delicious, but also ubiquitous. What makes Chin Chin stand out? Does it deserve to?

I practically killed my tastebuds to find out. The results were…fiery.

Date Last Visited: 29/11/13
Address: 125 Flinders Ln Melbourne, VIC 3000
Recommended Dish(es): Massaman curry of coconut braised beef w/kipfler potatoes, peanuts & crispy shallots

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Cumulus Inc. | Melbourne

Few food-centric visits to Melbourne are completed without a trip to Cumulus Inc. Andrew McConnell’s restaurant café is widely regarded by locals and visitors alike.

When backed by a bevy of solid recommendations, it was only a matter of time for me.

Though I find that the crowd is generally correct about the quality of Melbourne establishments, Cumulus Inc surprised me in ways I did not expect.

Date Last Visited: 27/11/13
Address: 45 Flinders Lane Melbourne, VIC 3000
Recommended Dish(es): Grilled Lyonnaise sausage, smoked hock, braised beans & 65C egg

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Hammer and Tong 412 | Melbourne

Chef Simon Ward and front of house Dennis Ferreira. You may not necessarily know their names yet but the name Vue De Monde might just strike that bell. In the continuing trend of fine dining chefs downsizing, the ex-VDM duo has set up an ostensibly nondescript cafe in Fitzroy by the name of Hammer and Tong 412. For the time being, the following edict stands: this is my favourite cafe. Anywhere. Yes, the venerable Kepos Street Kitchen takes out the crown of my favourite cafe in Sydney, but Hammer and Tong takes out the national championships. We’re talking about fine dining-esque food, with the best produce, but at cafe prices. It only gets better from here.

Date Last Visited: 7/6/14
Address: Rear 412 Brunswick St Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Recommended Dish(es): every dish in this post Continue reading

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PappaRich | Chatswood

Does anyone still watch Masterchef? Sure, the show’s taken a bit of a ratings tumble in recent years, but the dramatic showdown between Poh Ling Yeow and Julie Goodwin in season one is likely fresh in the minds of over 3 million Australians.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t happy that Poh didn’t win, but that was a personal bias as I absolutely adored her personality. Cheery, bubbly and full of charisma, it was no surprise that despite her runner-up status, she still became just as well-known as Julie, and also has her own SBS food show.

Cue Malaysian hawker food – fiery, aromatic, varied, and sumptuous. It came as no surprise that this bombastic cuisine would one day be represented by Poh’s recent ambassadorship to the  PappaRich restaurant chain. Admittedly, despite my undying love of Malaysian, I’ve been a bit slack in blogging it – my last Malaysian-themed post was back in 2013! If I’m going to change this, I’m going to do it in style – at PappaRich, and heck, why not meet Poh herself while I’m at it?

Date Last Visited: 26/7/14
Address: 1/63a Archer St Chatswood, NSW 2067
Recommended Dish(es): steamed chicken, roti canai, teh tarik, har mee

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Minus 8 Underground Dinner

Sydneysiders have little to be envious of when it comes to breadth of food experiences, such is the diversity of our cuisine.

Yet, the term “underground dinner” may be unfamiliar to most. The concept is as enigmatic as it is enjoyable. Either by the happenstance of word of mouth, or you stumble on the website, you find out about one. Then, you have to try and obtain the chance of a booking. If you can get the booking, you will be kept in suspense until the day before, when you are finally made privy to the location.

Such is the process for the Minus 8 Underground Dinner. It’s only a pop-up, in the sense that it will end in October. So if you’re interested, be quick!

Date Last Visited: 25/7/14
Address: Secret
Recommended Dish(es): N/A – menu changes

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Yayoi Japanese Teishoku | CBD

If you’ve ever had a bento box before, then you have already had a brush with teishoku cuisine. It is a Japanese way of eating constituting of multiple little dishes, along with a main which together, make an entire meal. The result is that very spice of life so many of us crave – variety.

A semantic digression: bento boxes are a great example of teishoku-style dining, but the two are not equivalent. A bento box involves one box with compartments where food goes. A teishoku meal is simply many elements (in bowls, plates, cups etc.) which are part of the same meal, often served all at once.

For what it’s worth, proper teishoku dining is fairly rare in Sydney. I can’t actually recall a restaurant that does it. Enter Yayoi – Japanese Teishoku Restaurant.

Date Last Visited: 17/7/14
Address: 38 Bridge St Sydney, NSW 2000
Recommended Dish(es): Yayoi Gozen

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Devon By Night | Surry Hills

Controversial content is seldom posted on this blog. At a basic level, I try and visit eateries for which I have reasonable confidence in their quality. Anyone, not just food bloggers, would either have some seriously poor taste, or posses some kind of iconoclastic zeal, to seek out poorly-rated locations. Thus, reviews on most food blogs there are overwhelmingly positive.

That said, who would have expected that I would end up mooting a less-than-starry review of Devon Café? Twice posted, twice loved; The winner of the Good Food Guide Cafe Guide “Best Food Café”.

Well, on July 3, Devon Cafe opened its doors for the first time for night service. Aptly named “Devon By Night”.

In my experience, I understand that they would need some time to get the hang of night service, as well as ironing out any kinks in their menu. It was with this thought that I visited two weeks after their official opening. The results surprised me, more than anyone.

Date Last Visited: 17/7/14
Address: 76 Devonshire St Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Recommended Dish(es): Aunty Yulie’s pork ribs

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Bootsdarling | Darlinghurst

Perched on the corner of South Dowling street and Taylor street, in upper-east Darlinghurst is a quaint little café trading by the name Bootsdarling.

A tender new addition to Darlinghurst’s café scene, Bootsdarling has already figured out what kind of an establishment it wants to be.

Its unofficial mission, as I see it from my experience  is to serve great coffee and hearty food (at least, for now in winter), backed up by some smooth tunes in the ambiance. Easily the next hotspot for café explorers.

Date Last Visited: 13/7/14
Address: 333 South Dowling St Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
Recommended Dish(es): Slow cooked pork & pea hash w/kale, poached egg & dijon

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Kepos Street Kitchen Cover

Kepos Street Kitchen | Redfern

There’s an easy way, and a hard way to introduce Kepos Street Kitchen. The easy way is that it’s my favourite café in Sydney. Well that was easy. The hard way? That’s to explain why it’s my favourite cafe.

Opened in November 2012, so KSK isn’t even two years young. Yet, it’s already earned a chef’s hat, making it one of only a handful non-fine dining establishments to do so. I vague recall predicting, somewhat smugly, that KSK will receive a chef’s hat after my first visit. Yes, the food is most toque-worthy, café or not be damned.

KSK’s owner, Michael Rantissi, possesses experience as sous chef @ The Bathers’ Pavillion, and possesses a Middle-Eastern cooking repertoire that’s richly ingrained in KSK’s fare. It’s delicious, and you will queue for it. Thing is, you won’t mind, after you’ve had a taste.

Date Last Visited: 13/4/14
Address: 96 Kepos Street RedfernNSW
Recommended Dish(es): southern fried chicken “sandwich”, middle eastern coleslaw, chermoula mayo

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Biota Dining | Bowral

Biota – the animal and plant life of a particular region, habitat, or geological period.

Such is the motto, the philosophy behind two-toqued Biota Dining, located in Bowral, of the beautiful Souther Highlands. Chef de cuisine James Viles has taken on one of the most onerous culinary challenges possible – to create groundbreaking modern Australian cuisine, but while remaining true to locally-found ingredients and traditional cooking styles.

When done half-heartedly, the results can be…disappointing. But do it well, and you end up getting into the World’s 50 Best list.

Then again, Biota Dining isn’t just talking the talk – that they are NSW’s regional restaurant of the year gives much credence to their potential. It was therefore no surprise when I had to make a trip to let my own taste buds decide. Read on!

Date Last Visited: 26/4/14
Address: 18 Kangaloon Rd Bowral, NSW
Recommended Dish(es): Veal & tuna, gathered local weeds

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