So tell me dear readers…what is the best method to encourage one to exercise? For me, the only manner that’s worth exercising is my intestines at Strathfield Sports Club. Here at the club, magic finger licking starts with some Korean Fried Chicken at Red Pepper. You’d be keen to try this fry chicken joint as it offers over 10 different flavours.
Explore the Spring Onion Chicken (Half $18) with satisfying fried crunchiness with nothing but a light drizzle of wasabi sauce and a small puddle hidden underneath the bed of chicken. There’s a generous amount of happiness floating around your tastebuds when the sauce touches your tastebuds and oh you won’t forget about that crispy satisfaction. Do you see a pile of green spring onion? Made me feel less guilty for eating this dish.
Spring Onion Chicken (Half $18)
Soy Sauce Chicken (Half $17) is made for you if you simply just enjoy soy sauce on its own. This is the best KFC version for sticky delicate, crackly crust on the skin. It is marinated so well with a sugar snap of sweetness. The trick to make this perfect is having it all to yourself. Teehee.
Soy Sauce Chicken (Half $17)
MmmmMmm do you want cheese with that? The Snow Cheese Chicken (Half $18) is grated and dusted with cheddar cheese power. Everything together was kind of not what we expected, however it was tasty though.
Snow Cheese Chicken (Half $18)
I have a thing for foods that have a hint of sweetness and you can bet the Sweet + Spicy Chicken (Half $18) was a winner in my eyes. HOT DAYUM! Each bite delights with rich spicy flavour and sprinkles of roasted garlic. It’s deliciously simple you wouldn’t want to miss this!
Sweet + Spicy Chicken (Half $18)
Are you liking this close-up shot?
Who is counting calories when there’s the original Fried Chicken (Half $16) to think about? The hunt for the perfect golden battered fried chicken may be over…or not. A birdie told me that Gami is still number one. All I know is this delightful crispy chicken sure wasn’t at all oily. The beautiful deep fried coating tastes as great as it looks.
Fried Chicken (Half $16)
Give into temptation with the Spicy Chilli Chicken (Half $18) – It’s glazed in super spicy sauce and yes dear god your tongue will BURN! Warning: you may be in tears, so if you’re a guy, try to stay strong. Haha. These do look finger-lickin’ good, don’t cha think? I have discovered I do have a weakness for chicken and overtime been a fan for fried chicken. The sauce here at Red Pepper is delicious and you’ll find yourself demolishing the entire menu if you had a spare stomach. It’s worth the calories!
Spicy Chilli Chicken (Half $18)
Photos by Vanny Tang
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For a Southern Californian-style restaurant, SoCal in Neutral Bay is the perfect spot to hang if you’re looking for a casual bar with a sunny rooftop that invites enjoyable nibbles and drink offerings that take inspiration from Mexico. The restaurant is in an unusual upstairs space in Neutral Bay, but the ambiance can’t help but make you want to relax. It was SoCal first ever Sydney #Social event for 20 food bloggers and it was an intimate sit-down dinner hosted by the fabulous Head Chef Zac Smart and Bar Manager Joe Worthington.
Starting the night with some some Mexican.
Can you spot SoCal? A hidden bar restaurant.
Behind this door, there’s a party happening.
SoCal #Social Menu
I am liking this bright wall look.
Well what do we have here? :D
On arrival classic margarita cocktails were being served and Corn chips with Pico De Gallo, Guacamole and Salsas ($12). It’s a fun starter to share with a group of food blogger friends. The margarita sure doesn’t disappoint and instantly reminded me of summer.
For our course 1, Crab and Sopressatta Tostadas was personally delivered by Head Chef Zac Smart. The crisp tostadas shells are layered with finely chopped jalapeño, crab meats, sundried tomatoes, red onion and grated zest of lime. It’s quite a supreme version of modern-day nachos and makes the perfect appetizer as it is served individually.
Corn chips with Pico De Gallo, Guacamole and Salsas ($12)
SoCal Head Chef Zac Smart
Crab and Sopressatta Tostadas
Before we devour this delicious bite-size tostadas, Joe Worthington performs a ‘Super Amazing Mystery’ interactive cocktail experience at his mini mobile bar. The demonstration contained a lot of vibrant colours, particularly orange, so it wasn’t so hard to guess what the main ingredient in this cocktail contained.
Bar Manager Joe Worthington
‘Super Amazing Mystery’ demonstration
How adorable is this?
Look who do we have here…Chicken Sliders (4 for $20) – We’ve got our eye on these heavily marinated chicken breast with avocado and chorizo mini buns. Bursting with intense flavours and alluring aromas, I am sure you’d want to use your hands to touch this glazed brioche bun that’s evenly sprinkled with sesame seeds. All the ingredients combined together taste exceptionally good, making it so tender and juicy in your mouth.
Chicken Sliders (4 for $20)
Tempting, isn’t it?
To pair with the sliders, the Frisco Pisco that contains Chili infused Pisco, egg white, elderflower liqueur, lime, sugar and muddled cucumber is a funky favourite of mine.
We move onto our course 3, Seared Salmon ($20) with broccolini, chili and coriander salsa verde. A very pleasant and healthy plate for a protein choice dish. Though the salmon was slightly more seared like heading towards being fully cooked, however the magic off course is the flavour and that took center stage. As for a bed of green broccolini it offers a lovely crunch and to add flavour the salsa was spot on with flavour. If you closely examine, paper thin slices of sweet potato chips made this main even delightful. This main dish matched with Dry Creek, Fume Blanc, Sonoma CA.
Seared Salmon ($20)
Dry Creek, Fume Blanc 2009, Sonoma CA
There are plenty of share plates at SoCal and for course 4 -Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder ($22) with faro, freekeh, quinoa and kale, you’d be blown away on how utterly delicious this dish is. What makes the meat juicy and succulent is the cooking time. It seems like there are many steps to this dish as the quinoa has a long-lasting flavour and I may have snuck in seconds and possibly thirds. With a matched wine to go with was the Bliss Pinot Nior, Mendocino CA.
Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder ($22)
Bliss Pinot Nior 2010, Mendocino CA
For our final savoury main, course 5, we were served with Scotch Fillet ($24) with Chimmichurri. Kids, this fillet was seasoned and cooked to perfection for the medium rare fans. It was a sensational dish that kept please the meat lovers. You’ll savor every bite with matched wine with Dry Creek ‘Heritage’ Zinfandel, Sonoma CA. With a spread of chimmichuri, the texture complemented the beef so well. A slice of lemon is optional for those who like to enjoy that extra zesty kick to the dish.
Scotch Fillet ($24)
Dry Creek ‘Heritage’ Zinfandel, Sonoma CA
Mushroom salad works brilliantly well with the scotch fillet, lamb shoulder or even the seared salmon as it offers fresh mix green spinach salad, Mexican beans and a generous portion of wild flavours of mushrooms. It is so appropriate to have this salad on its own.
What a combination of scotch fillet and mushroom salad.
A joyful evening ends with Chocolate, Pistachio and tequila brownie with chipotle cream. You’ll feel some heat with this treat as the chipotle cream is spicy. The tequila brownie will knock your party socks off with the visible pistachio and it adds crunch. The texture of the brownie is soft and moist inside with an outside layer of crisp edges.
Party doesn’t end, unless you’ve been greeted with salted caramel expresso martini ($16)- A blend of Ketel one, Galliano ristretto, salted caramel and expresso with honeycomb. It’s a cocktail that’s between salty and sweet. This fashionable cocktail is full of surprises with flavours that create a twist on the trendy treat. The crowd at SoCal is well dressed and ready to take on a drink or two. If you are California dreaming , then this restaurant is a winning hot spot with sandy vibe and feel. The chicken slider, scotch fillet and mushroom salad is a thumbs up for me. As for the salted caramel expresso martini, it’s a cocktail and dessert all in one!
Salted caramel expresso martini ($16)
Photos by Vanny Tang
Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended as a guest to SoCal #Social Event thanks to Pendulum Communications. Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.
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There’s not many places in Sydney where restaurants offer hot pot buffet and doesn’t break the wallet. This winter, MINI HOT POT has just opened up in the heart of Chatswood and it is just perfect timing to visit when Mother Nature is being so damn cold. Instead of standing next to a heater all night to keep myself warm my thoughts turned to ALL YOU CAN EAT HOT POT. The hot pot buffet prices for Monday to Thursday dinner, $26.88 per person or Friday to Sunday $28.88 per person. If you’re a keen bean and can’t wait for dinner then during lunch hour from Wednesday to Sunday $20.88 per person. There’s a fair bit of novelty, so keep in mind to only bring an empty stomach. Besides all you can eat, their buffet is 2 hours limit, so you don’t have to rush stuffing your face with a mixture of foods.
Ready to take on the ALL YOU CAN EAT hot pot?
Just look how practical it is to have your own electronic stove. What’s even more cool and high-tech is there are 3 buttons for you to adjust the boiling levels (small, medium and large). I seriously wouldn’t mind having one of these at home. Teehee.
How hot is the electronic stove? They’re installed into the tables.
Spacious seating at MINI POT Chatswood
The original chicken soup base comes with the buffet package, but if you wish to challenge your tastebuds or try other soup base flavours then it will cost extra, depending on what you order. The key to a successful pot of chicken soup is adding different ingredients and making sure the chicken is properly seasoned. The chicken gives the soup base its distinctive character. Here at MINI POT, the broth is the soul of the hot pot.
Original chicken soup base
Spicy beef soup was fragrant with spiciness but the chopped chili was horrifyingly hot and can only be wanted for the chili lovers. To compare its very own sister restaurant, CQL MINI POT spicy beef soup is better as it contains more herbal elements. Overall, this soup is perfect to order when Mother Nature wants to provide a crazy windy weather outside.
Spicy beef soup (additional $2)
A variety of fresh greens
Continue the veggie madness!
Not every day you get to see kelp and black fungus on the menu.
So like, how many frozen scrolls of thinly sliced lamb, beef or pork can you handle? I mean these cook ridiculously fast that you’d question if you ate some or not. It’s super easy to cook and goes so well with any sauce. It seems every single time I try to refill my plate, the meat section seems to never end.
MEATASAURUS Vanny is here!!! (Lamb, Beef, Pork)
Are you ready to make your own sauce? If you don’t know where to begin, I think it’s vital to at least grab a small bowl of soy sauce. There is no secret to creating an awesome sauce as MINI POT provides friendly advice to create your own mixture. There’s so many sauces to choose from such as peanut butter, black bean, soy sauce, sesame, hoisin and many many more.
Create your own sauce at the sauce bar.
My plate was full and it’s so great you have the opportunity to try a bit of everything. Starting from left we have sliced lamb, fish, clams, bean curd, quail eggs, pork blood jelly, handmade noodles and mushroom.
Round 1 tray
Quail eggs and clams are great for hot pot.
If you’re feeling thirsty, they have really traditional Asian drinks that I highly recommend giving a go. The Chinese prune drink ($4) is a very mysterious beverage in many restaurants. It’s not your ordinary prune juice as it provides a tangy flavour to it but it does contain a sweet after taste. For the Wang Lao Ji ($4), it’s one of the super popular drinks in mainland China. It’s a drink that you’ll love forever as it has a unique sweetness with just a mildly characteristic herbal taste.
Prune drink and Chinese traditional (Wang Lao Ji) drink ($4 each)
Got to pace yourself with buffet hot pot.
Must try the handmade noodles, so tasty.
Noodles are ready to eat.
Almost reaching halfway through to my hot pot, the owner of MINI POT, Simon greets us with dessert. A massive bowl of tofu pudding with red bean ($6.80) arrives at our table and it’s just so satisfying to see dessert was ready and waiting for me.
A HUGE bowl of tofu pudding with red bean.
Rice cake at the hot food section
Spring onion pancakes are ready to eat.
Besides hot pot, noodles is on the menu. You’d be head over heels with the Dry Noodle with Minced Pork ($12.80) as the noodles was a perfect cradle for the porky sauce. This dish radiates with the vibrance of spring with the green bok choy and chopped spring onions. Oh boy it is filling when you’re having it with hot pot as well. Please note: the portion we ordered is not the exact one as we requested a smaller version.
Dry Noodle with Minced Pork ($12.80)
It’s such a brilliant way to spice up boring tofu with noodles. So the Noodle with Tofu Pudding ($10.80) is remarkably delicious and it will leave you satisfied. It’s a triumph of textures and flavours and a touch of sweetness from the tofu. Please note: the portion we ordered is not the exact one as we requested a smaller version.
Noodle with Tofu Pudding ($10.80)
The tofu pudding is so silky and smooth.
Feasting for close to 3 hours is FUN.
At first glance, herbal jelly for some people might scrunch up their nose to eat this, but the taste is pretty unreal. With a mash up with fresh cut watermelon and bite-sized pieces of herbal jelly it is a great way to end a Chinese hot pot meal.
AGAIN, Simon surprises us with a large bowl of fresh cut watermelon with herbal jelly.
Table for one ? Sure, MINI POT can do that.
OH MY GOD! It’s…it’s dessert hour. (Excuse the facial expression) :D
Don’t feel like hot pot? Then there’s plenty of seats for À la carte diners.
Outdoor and function seating is available at MINI POT.
The service at MINI POT in Chatswood is attentive and friendly. It’s so close to the station that if you’re belly is extremely full and you don’t feel like driving, then training it home is the safer option to go. For dinner, I think $26.88 per person on weekdays or $28.88 per person on weekends is pretty reasonable, so it won’t hurt your wallet too much. I’ve come across some hot pot places and they charge by the plate for the same kind of foods for $5 or more. Don’t forget this buffet package also includes hot food and desserts which is WIN.
Photos by Vanny Tang
Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended with a guest thanks to MINI POT Chatswood.
Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.
Like to know more about Nessy Eater food adventures?