HAPPY 2015 FOODIE FRIENDS! Can you believe it’s mid of January already?! By now you may have noticed Nessy Eater’s been busy indulging desserts and summery meals on Instagram. The Food Gods knew that they’d needed new volunteers to take up the festive Christmas feast and so they immediately decided to choose me. OH the pain I had to endure and retire my typewriter during the holiday season. But sometimes when you’re giving a task during Xmas by the Food Gods and it involves your stomach and gingerbread man, it’s automatically a food hall pass. This hall pass was cherished and used judiciously for it is not an easy thing to obtain. The hall pass is something to be prized and by verbal consent from the Food Gods and Santa, Nessy Eater has permission to share great foods with you kids. What are you waiting for? Let’s begin!
It’s my second visit to Crossroads Bar at Swissotel Sydney and just before I had retired my typewriter and crisp white paper, I managed to spot a really good deal on Groupon. For $79 for two people, you get Christmas Weekend High Tea plus a cocktail for each person. Before treating your tummy to savoury foods and sweet delights, I wanted to quickly inform you that this deal was ALL YOU CAN EAT high tea. I repeat High Tea BUFFET. DON’T PANIC IF YOU’VE MISSED OUT! After a quick investigation like a detective I found out through the Swissotel’s website the high tea buffet is still on but not Xmas themed though. I’m sure it would be still as good and it is normally $79 per person. That’s CRAZY! I saved $79! This by far was the best deal that I’ve ever purchased from Groupon.
Are you drooling?
Before thunder and lightning strikes to my typewriter I think it’s now time to share the Christmas spirit with you. Within a 5-star luxury hotel the Swissotel does get a thumbs up for their modern and elegant interior, however their service and overall management did not make it to a two-star. We were disappointed by the lack of service and management skills. For example when we arrived, staffs at the Swissotel looked like they wanted to wrestle with guests in UFC style. You could see it in their eyes they were very frustrated and sad, especially when there was one main bartender, a supervisor and three waitresses serving around fourty five plus guests. Waitresses responded with a robotic tone and left unhappily after we made our beverage orders. I guess Santa’s been overworking his helpers. Anyways moving on to rainbows and unicorns.
Our festive fare started with Christmas pudding. This traditional pud is made from vine fruit and butter, eggs and a splash of vanilla custard. Each handmade pudding was the size of a baseball and half a tennis ball. What does it taste like? Think fruitcake. It’s not everyone’s taste as it’s an acquired taste, it’s cream sauce with dried fruits in it. I think it err needed lots of cream to tone it down.
Strawberry cream caramel kept vanishing every time I was forced to return to the dessert bar. Lightly greasy but it’s wrapped around a creamy center that won’t disappoint. The half sliced strawberry made this dessert refreshing. I like the chance to play around with the wobbly jelly like texture of the cream caramel before I devour it. It gives me time to mingle before I say good-bye to it for the second time. If you’re craving for that caramel sauce to take home then you need to ask Executive Chef Thomas Heinrich for a favour.
Strawberry cream caramel
I managed to somehow not shatter the blackberry pavlova into a million pieces before it made it back to my table. The fun sized pavlova looked like snow ball meringues. It was extremely light and airy. Being able to taste it for the third time, it was one of those fabulous treats to go along with a cup of tea.
As Christmas traditions go, starting a marvellous high tea with a shot of eggnog is another great way to celebrate the festive season. The shot was very satisfying as there was an egg-rich dairy punch flavour. It can be very boozy and super rich if there’s more eggs added, but thankfully not.
Festive must haves were the fruit mince tart. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without buttery pastries and fruity mince pies. These delectable star shaped mince pies simply provided a moment of self-indulgence for me. The outside butter-enriched pastry is stuffed with chunks of moist fruit and topped with heavy sprinkles of icing.
Fruit star tart
Oh hot summer days means we need to thank the bartender at Swissotel for making us the strawberry cocktail. Though we were half way feeding our inner cravings, we still managed to wash this beverage down. The sweetness of the strawberries was a real crowd pleaser and off course the rum. It wasn’t sickly sweet, which is good news coming from the syrup. The texture kicked ass as it felt like a strawberry slushy rather than a classic cocktail.
Me thinks the strawberry panna cotta was carefully crafted. The strawberries makes a great companion with the panna cotta for bright, sharp summer fruit. The taste was somewhat cream-heavier but that didn’t matter too much because I was mildly annoyed at the casual sophistication of the presentation for this dessert.
Strawberry panna cotta
Just look at how this chocolate fountain GLISTENS! It brings a smile to everyone’s face including the grumpy cats. Stop making me smile chocolate fountain! STOP IT!
I simply couldn’t get enough of the salted caramel and jam lamingtons. The lamingtons were sandwiching the sweet jam. I tried burying evidence of me eating this, but the shredded dried coconuts around my mouth gave it away.
Salted caramel and jam lamingtons
This chilled blueberry panna cotta in a miniature plastic cup was simply impressive. The fresh blueberries and pipped cream married so well with the silky smooth vanilla bean gelatine.
Blueberry panna cotta
With our voucher package, we were treated with selections of tea or coffee. All teas are from T2.
English breakfast by T2
Tempt the tastebuds with smoked salmon tartar with pipped cream cheese on waffle cone. It’s so easy to eat and I didn’t notice I ate five till I started counting the gold wrappers. Oh Whoops!
Smoked salmon tartar cone
Not sure if sandwiches are meant to look like they’re all swirled up but hey I’m loving it. This smoked turkey, pickled raspberry jam and rocket on harvest grain was juicy with that jam spread across the bread so evenly. The thick pieces of turkey was zomg crazy ass delicious.
Smoked turkey swirl sandwich
Making my way back to the buffet bar and look who do we have here…cocktail prawn station with Crystal Bay Australian reef prawn cocktail with lemon and cocktail dressing.
Cocktail prawn station
The fire roasted red capsicums with green olive and goat cheese baguette was my least favourite. It was an interesting take on for me in terms of flavours. It has that sweet sourness from the olive and cold texture of goat cheese which I didn’t favour.
Wicked, decadent and sinful was hardly the best description for these dreamy little masterpieces. I took my time connecting with the Christmas profiteroles. Glazed with milk chocolate atop and sprinkles of crushes chocolate pieces, I think it was the perfect addition to the buffet bar.
Wait there’s MORE DESSERTS?! I became very full from stuffing my belly with trying a bit of everything, but noooooooo the pastry chef had to bring this blackberry and white chocolate mousse just before I was about to pack my fat body and go. My belly was crying on the inside but because this mousse cake was beautifully presented, I had to cut a seven inch width slice of cake.
Blackberry and white chocolate mousse
I spy with my eyes….. is that a full plate of Christmas macarons? A sensational dessert that always alwAYS ALWAYS pleases! Hehe.
We had to arrange a little bit more stomach space for the spring berry tart. Glad we did because that tart had just came straight out of the pastry headquarters looking all innocent and sweet.
Spring berry tart
Woohoo our Christmas Afternoon Tea finally came to an end, however I’m sorry I’ve missed out taking a few photos of some desserts and savories. Overall I loved skipping my way to the buffet bar and thank goodness majority of the desserts and savoury tasted magical so I could forget about their below average service. Totes heart every single desserts presentation. Swissotel is a great spot for afternoon tea whores, for example like me, although it’s a tad pricey but it’s ALL YOU CAN EAT sugar. To my disappointment I couldn’t walk out of the hotel like a Victoria Secret Model in high heels. Instead I left waddling out like Mumble from Happy Feet and swore to myself that I ain’t gonnabe eating dinner…
Top view of spring berry tart
Photos by Vanny Tang
Like to know more about Nessy Eater food adventures?
HELLO FOODIE FRIENDS! How was your weekend? Mine was spent figuring out where is the best place to eat wagyu. What better way for a meatilicious dinner is at Rengaya for the ALL YOU CAN EAT WAGYU for $69 per person. It is best to make a booking before heading over there because you may be three times disappointed when the kaiwaii Japanese waitress tells you that there’s no available seats, especially on weekends. Don’t think you can manage all that MEAT?! No need to worry! They’ve also got rice dishes, soup, salad, sashimi and even soba noodles.
Whenever I go to a Japanese BBQ joint it’s just so good that hygiene comes first before sighting on the menu.
Hot hand towels are served before we begin our feast!
Had to start of with some salmon and avocado salad that includes chunky pieces of chopped salmon, teaspoons of golden cavier, scoops of avocado, sliced onion and mixed salad. Then served with soy french dressing to add an attention-grabbing flavour. So much healthy goodness in this bowl that the balance tastes so right.
Salmon and Avocado Salad
Let’s not dwell on the grossness of how this Beef Rib Porridge looks but rather how awesome it tastes and had TONNES of flavour that we accidently ordered three large bowls for the table. The ribs gave the soup an incredible flavour that it didn’t require any additional salt or pepper. It was INSANELY addictive and bare in mind there were heaps of rice buried down there.
Beef Rib Porridge
The menu definitely has salted special ox-tongue which become meltingly tender in texture when it is cooked quickly over high heat. We managed to devour this twenty serving of thinly sliced meat <5 minutes. Then seconds later guess who ended up ordering another twenty servings? Hehe.
A HUGE plate of Salted Special OX-Tongue.
Like a good steak, you are only required to flip these bad boys once on the barbecue. I’ll admit it’s just so ridiculously addictive to continuously keep adding meat to the hot pan and flipping them over every single second. It was tough focusing my eyes onto the grill as thick heavy smoke kept heading my direction but nuuuu that didn’t stop me from cooking or eating!
Ox Tongue slowly melting…OH YEAH!
A selection of raw wagyu meat just may of killed your mood to eat this but hey think of all that drool worthy fat that’s about to head your way soon. The size of the plate was twice the size of my head. The sight of the meat must of been at least 2kgs! There goes the thought of detoxing…haha.
The meat was extremely extremely marbled. Just imagine the lines of white running through the thick slices. It was super easy to get these meat burnt, so a quick toss and turn and your ready to eat.
Liking the view? 😛
And if you’re heading to the restroom do expect a wooden cat to greet you.
One way to take a break from the meaty world is ordering the Chinese cabbage kimchee filled with pickled vegetables. It is a great stable side dish for any BBQ with a peppery and briny flavour. The slices of chopped cabbage had a deep and complex texture that tastes fresh.
Chinese Cabbage Kimchee
What weirded me out was reading wagyu rib finger and it turned out to be the second best meat for the table. It was truly juicy and marinated to perfection. This is finger licking good!
Wagyu Rib Finger
We only managed a couple of pieces of the wagyu rib finger…only a couple of pieces…cough four servings cough. Tehehe.
Look at that juicy greasy meat! Can you handle it?
Before we could catch our breath, the wagyu yukke arrived and for some this may be an extraordinary experience because it is served 110% raw. This was superbly chewy with a lovely creamy feeling from the yolk. Yeah this will blow your little taste buds away!
Just when it seemed that I couldn’t handle another slice of wagyu, the outside skirt was brought to our table and we were off to grilling this. The ultimate tenderness that actually taste beefy.
Wagyu Outside Skirt
Of course the night is not over until we order a bowl of salmon flake rice that contains sprinkle of salmon flakes over the rice with seaweed. You may find fish foe hidden between the steamed rice that tastes even better when it bursts.
Salmon Flake Rice
Straight to the good times you might want to add a few slices of wagyu onto the rice. It is the most common kind of method to let the rice soak the wagyu’s juice to create a new flavoured rice.
Medium rare wagyu outside skirt goes so well with steamed rice.
Besides wagyu, Rengaya offers sashimi and trust me it is hard to avoid ordering fresh salmon. Hmmmmm…so good!
Yes I was making friends with fresh scallops. I was easily fooled by their size when they first arrived at our table. By the time these pepper grilled scallops were cooked it shrunk to the size of a dollar coin. But that didn’t ruin my judgement of the taste. It was rich and slightly buttery with a hint of sweetness.
Besides eating boiled prawns, another way to cook it is grilling them over the pan. The secret to great-tasting prawns lies in how fresh they are and let me tell you they were fresh indeed.
Sometimes the perfect way to end a 90 minute wagyu marathon is finishing it off with edamame or for others dessert is the only option.
I’m still a sucker for Rengaya’s premium meat even after a year and a half of visiting them. Click here. Some may question is it worth $69 per person and I’d say “Are you kidding me?” I only wish I could arrange this buffet for all my readers to experience this wagyu marathon.
Looking very traditional Rengaya Entrance.
Photos by Vanny Tang
Like to know more about Nessy Eater food adventures?
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) 😀
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?
My first visit to Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar was on a sweet matter and now the ultimate ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT breakfast (from $38.50 per person) is calling. With the simple smart casual interior approach, one of its unusual highlight is the extravagant wooden bird-cage light fittings. Near the entrance you will be pleasantly surprised by the wine wall and at the dessert bar, shelves decorated with crystal clear glass jars that are filled entirely with house-made candies. On a relaxed day, I somehow managed to skip Melbourne’s famous breakfast hotspots and zombie my way down to Mr. Hive.
The quirky elegance of this spacious long dining room is set to be inspired by Middle-Eastern sense- quite a contrast from the usual bright earthy colours. Properly furnished in fine black wooden tables are set with soft snug leather chairs. Bizarrely I kept track of the number of waiters who served us, at least five, who are very eager to help you with anything.
Mr. Hive dining area
Found my own little happy place – this is just one section of our continental breakfast- fresh fruits and cereal is displayed on a HUMONGOUS wooden table, right in the middle of a sacred room.
Secret fruit room with Bird cage like lamp
Something nutritional and healthy to munch on whilst having a bowl of crunchy cereal with milk.
Selection of fruits
Never ending table filled with sliced watermelon, grapes, sliced rockmelon, pineapple, banana, apple and if you are feeling lazy to peel or cut then fruit salad is an option.
The other side of fruit selection
Contemplating on which cereal to eat first… it may take a while…
Can pick any cereal! Which one would you want to try?
I downed several glasses of fruity drinks before I started my next food hunting. It feels like paradise when they offer a tropical selection of orange, mango, apple and pineapple juice.
Dishes are replaced at a crackling pace once a plate is near to being empty. The pink grapefruits are a catch to the big kids, whilst dried fruit such as apricots and sultana and nuts like almond are superb nibbles while I stroll a merry-go-round a few times at the fruit section. Teehee.
Breakfast typically consists of just cereal, right? WRONG. Mr. Hive Kitchen serves smoked salmon for a starter. We were most impressed with the flavours and texture- very smooth and complex. A cold dish that doesn’t disappoint the salmon lovers.
If you much prefer an Aussie start of the day breakfast, don’t fear because pan-fried crispy bacon (top left) is here. Grab a few chicken (top right) or pork (bottom right) sausages or maybe a sunny-side fried egg?
Bacon, Sausage and fried eggs
We are whisked over to the freshly baked pastries area that is too irresistible to not be in my belly. Seriously a pastry haven here in Mr. Hive Kitchen. They offer apricot Danish (top left) with custard for added squishy-ness, light flaky buttery mini croissants (top right), solider of oat muffins (bottom left) and basic bread rolls. Slab on some butter and enjoy it while it’s warm!
Please pack me some pastries to take home.
I am a sucker for the low fat thick Greek yogurt (bottom right) with seasonal mixed berries in a jar. An easy peasy way to finish a luxurious continental breakfast.
Greek yogurt with seasonal mixed berries.
Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar features a rustic dining area, complete with a very relaxing atmosphere for any occasion. With a delicious range of house made pastries, pan fried bacon and selection of fresh fruits, I wouldn’t mind accepting an invitation if they offered to let me grab something for road to go.
Mr.Hive bar area
Photos by Vanny Tang
Like to know more about Nessy Eater food adventures?