Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bungalow 8

I had a sudden craving for Mussels and dragged a workmate down to Bungalow 8 with me. I haven't been back for quite a few years after overdosing at their all you can eat mussel events. This time, I'm only have 1 pot.....not 5. So I think I should be ok!

Tom Yum Mussels and chips

My absolute favourite, Tom Yum Mussels! Although, I must say that their Tom Yum tastes more like Laksa, and their Laksa tastes more like Tom Yum. I wish I had some noodles I can throw into the pot at the end of the meal so I don't waste any of the lovely broth at the bottom.

Bungalow 8
3 Lime St

Ph: (02) 9299 4660

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sushi-Tei Lunch Sets

Its hard trying to find nice places around the city for a casual sit down meal with my workmates without resorting to a pub. Luckily Sushi-Tei has a relatively large seating area, and even have private rooms for big parties. Perfect for an impromptu team lunch.

I ordered a Katsu and sushi lunch set. The set came with a huge slab of Pork Katsu, 6 pieces of sushi, chawamushi, miso soup, salad and various other side dishes. Not a bad deal for under $20!

Sushi Tei
1 Chifley Square
Cnr of Elizabeth St and Hunter St
Ph: (02)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Miraku Japanese Cuisine - Hunter Connection

I'm always on the lookout for new cheap and cheerful places for lunch around the CBD. I really hate paying $10+ for a lot of crappy food at the local food court. Luckily, I'm not too far of a walk from the Hunter Connection and find myself there most days. You can almost guarantee that most food you get there tastes good. The competition is so fierce, if you're food is not up to a certain standard for a cheap price, you'll be closed in a few weeks.

Miruka is one of the newer places there that offer Japanese food. The food isn't your typical teriyaki chicken and udon soups, which is what appealed to me in the first place.

Karage Chicken

Crispy and light batter coating moist tender chicken. Not bad considering this was pre-cooked and placed into a hot box.

Miso Soup

Not your standard tofu and seaweed miso soup. Digging to the bottom you will find chunks of pork, chicken and various vegetables.

Mushroom rice with sushi, seaweed salad and tofu?

Chirashi don with udon salad and seaweed salad

The food is light and not over seasoned like some other places. Not everything is drowned in a sweet teriyaki sauce or deep fried tempura style. I loved their udon salad and would kill for a huge bowl of it. Unfortunately, Miruka does not cook lunches to order around lunch time. If you want something made from their menu, you need to get your order in before 11am, otherwise you can only purchase what is on display.

Miraku Japanese Cuisine
F9 Hunter Connection Food Plaza
7-13 Hunter Street
, Sydney

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rise Restaurant - Darlinghurst

Thanks to Not Quite Nigella, I found out I had actually won dinner for 2 at Rise as well as my aeroclock from the Iron Chef dinner. I rope a friend into using the voucher with me before it expired. The plan was to have dinner and then go visit his brother, who's dogs just had a huge litter of puppies!

Dinner was booked for 6:30pm, but we were early and arrived just before 6:15pm. Walking in, we find the entire restaurant empty. I didn't think we were THAT early, but the waiter explained that a table of 20 cancelled earlier in the week. I would expect the place to be quite cosy and buzzing with chatty diners when busy, but on this night, it was stark, cold and bare. This also meant we were the only table the waiter was waiting on. Actually, the only table the TWO waiters were waiting on. Whilst some would describe the service as friendly, I would say too friendly. I basically wanted to sit down and have a nice conversation with my friend, I found that half of my time was spent talking to the waiter who basically hung around our table. Luckily, after an hour, another table shows up and helps to divert a bit of the attention.

As for the food, Rise previously offered an a la carte menu, but has switched to tasting menu only. I guess that makes it easier as we don't have decide on what to eat.

First course - Salmon tartare with poached quail egg & gochujang miso sauce

Oh my....this is good. I can never go past good sashimi, but this was particularly good as it was coated in spicy miso sauce. I devoured every last bit of this whilst my friend left half on the plate. Not because it didn't taste good, but because it was so hot, his mouth was on fire! Mind you, my friend reckons black pepper is hot, so this was atomic by his standards. I found the dish quite mild ;)

When the waiter came to collect our plates, we requested that my friend gets a toned down version of anything remotely spicier than pepper!

Soup - Tom Yum style soup with scallop tortellini and mussel

Luckily this was a tom yum style soup, and not actual tom yum soup, so the spice was toned down for my friend. Still too much for him to handle and he left half the soup behind. But he did devour the seafood and both of us rate the scallop tortellini as "Friggin good!!". Now if I can just get a huge bowl of the tortellini...

Sashimi - Assorted fresh market sashimi

We were presented with oysters and four types of sashimi. King fish, salmon, tuna and I can't remember what the other one was. Each sashimi was seasoned differently to compliment the type of fish it was. This was my friend's first taste of sashimi (First course didn't count, he couldn't taste a thing beyond spice!) and he actually enjoyed it. He only had half of the sashimi as the raw texture eventually got to him, so that just meant more for me!

Seasonal plate

Soy milk flan with shiitake sauce

Rice paper roll of steamed chicken baton, avocado, cucumber & sesame miso sauce

Fish cake with daikon & wakame salad

The Soy milk flan is basically a chawamushi. Silky soft and delicate, I woofed this down. The rice paper roll was fairly bland, especially compared to the previous courses we had. The fish cake was tasty, and the crunch was a welcome change in texture after all the sashimi we had.

Pasta dish - Soba salad with soft shell crab and ponzu vinaigrette

Not sure where the salad bit comes in. It was basically soba with a bit of sauce and a soft shell crab on-top. The soft shell crab was fantastically crispy, but doesn't really fit in with the soba.

Main Course - Roasted duck breast served with polenta, mushroom croquette and red curry sauce

My friend had his red curry sauce served on the side, but turns out it was very mild anyway. The duck was tender and juicy and oh-so-moreish. I just wish I had more sauce to go with it. On top of the main course, you're served a bowl of rice and miso soup, just in case you're still hungry. But by this stage, we're both stuffed like a turkey. But I do wonder.....where was the polenta!?


Dessert was a almond cream with latte sorbet, and passion fruit cream with a lime and lemon grass sorbet. We both started with the almond cream and it was gooooood. Creamy and velvety and went fantastic with the latte sorbet. I decided to try the passion fruit cream and was in HEAVEN! I moaned something to my friend about trying the passion fruit and continued to stuff my face. He digs into the passion fruit and gives me a "What are you on about??" look. And then he moans. Out loud.

"I just hit the cream......"

It was an embarrassing display of emotion, but I didn't care. I wanted to enjoy every blissful bite!

We're offered tea and coffee, but we're just too full to eat another bite.

If we had to actually pay for this meal, I would happily hand over $65 for the 7 course degustation! If you go on Tuesday, Wednesday or Sunday, the meal will only cost you $48. Speaking to the staff, the main difference is that you don't get miso soup, and you get a little less sashimi for $48. Still fantastic value if you ask me!

Rise Restaurant
23 Craigend St
Ph: (02) 9357 1755

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

WAQU, Modern Japanese Dining - Crows Nest

Nothing brings a bunch of girls together faster than good food and free gifts. On this occasion, my friend was bearing gifts she had brought us from her recent trip to the US. Woohoo!! Freebies! We decided on WAQU as a girls catch up.

The restaurant is surprisingly spacious, especially considering how much their rent must be. You would expect them to cram more tables in to maximise their revenue. We decided on the 5 courses for $60 option.

Course 1:

Spicy softshell crab taco, petite wagyu sukiyaki, fish tart, potato soup with confit tomato foam

The spicy softshell crab was easily a crowd favourite. How can you ever go wrong with deep fried crustacean? The fish tart king of just tasted like a cheese potato croquet whilst the petite wagyu beef was a bit bland for my liking. My favourite would actually have to be the potato soup with confit tomato foam. A bit bowl of that in front of the tv with some crusty bread would've made me a very happy girl!

Course 2:

Sashimi salad - ocean trout yubiki, seared kingfish, grilled abalone, ruby grapefruit jelly with seasonal vegetables

From memory, one of the best parts of the dish was actually an almond cream that basically brings the whole dish together. The tangy grapefruit, the melt in your mouth fish, all covered with a velvety almond cream. Even my non-sashimi eating friends enjoyed it....kinda. They still couldn't get past the raw fish and left about half behind. Hey, more sashimi for me!

Course 3:

Tempura WAQU Style - assorted tempura of teriyaki-eel, micro fish, nori-maki sweet potato, okaki-age avocado, soy mayonnaise, three japanese salts

My friend being allergic to Miso, opted for the Tempura course, and of course, gave her thumbs up to a big plate of fried goodness.

Seafood miso soup - slow cooked sea tiger prawn and white clam, panfried scallop, yaki-onigiri in miso soup

For the rest of us who aren't allergic to Miso soup, we all chose this option. Its a cold and dark night outside, and nothing will be more comforting than a big steaming bowl of miso soup. Except that's not what came out.

A bowl is presented to us with seafood and miso that had been painted on the bowl itself. The waitress walks around with a huge kettle of dashi stock and came up to me first. Oh yeah baby, miso me up!! She tilts the kettle and "spills" a little dashi stock on my bowl and then walks away. I look up thinking she's gone back to refill the kettle, when I see her doing the same to my friend's bowl. Then it dawned on me, that's ALL the soup I was getting. We're instructed to mix the now dried and crusted miso on the bowl, with the "stock". The only problem is, we were given about 2 tablespoons of stock each. My friend had less than me and the stock didn't even cover the bottom of her bowl!

We start scraping at the dried miso to mix into the stock, except there's just not enough stock to wet the miso enough to scrape off. I get fed up with the scraping and scratching and decided to just eat what I've got, but whatever soup in my bowl is now stone cold. My OCD friend decided she needed to scrape off every last bit of miso, and basically ended up with a miso concentrate.

The soup aside, we decided to tackle the seafood. The clam and scallop is cooked to perfection. The yaki-onigiri was crunchy and toasted the way it should. Then I get to the slow cooked tiger prawn. I cut the prawn head off and do my usual thing of sucking the brains out. Except the brains were still raw. I'm almost tempted to spit my mouthful back into the bowl but force myself to swallow it. This is when I find out that whilst the tail of the prawn was cooked, the part of the prawn joining the head was still cold and raw and gave a horrible fishy smell. I wasn't the only one who found this problem as my other friends commented on the same thing. You would expect something that is slow cooked, to actually be cooked!

Course 4:

Suzuki Mulloway + Alaskan Crab - poached suzuki mulloway, sake steamed alaskan crab, yaki-tofu, crispy kombu, shungiku puree

My friend's crab dish comes out and its instant food envy. I wanted that crab and I want it now!

Slow cooked duck breast, crushed pistachio cacao nibs, age-dashi taro potato, cherry plum chutney

Having seafood for the previous 3 courses, I chose the slow cooked duck. A duck breat is slice and presented so the lovely pink flesh is showing. Whilst my friends rated the duck ok, I couldn't even slice the duck. And when I did finally manage to hack a piece from it, I couldn't chew the duck it was so tough. The first few bites my friends thought it was funny, but half way through, my jaw was tired and everything started going tasteless. You would expect that when you need to chew the one bite for 5 minutes. You can even see the sinew in the photo. I did get 1/4 of the breast which was fairly tender, but the rest was just inedible. My friends asked me to send the dish back, but I honestly couldn't be bothered waiting for them to cook me a new one, and I didn't really care at this stage either.

Course 5:

Tart tatin, fuji apple puree, cheese mousse, lemon meringue

The dessert was a simple tart tartin. It was nice, but nothing spectacular. I didn't even finish the dessert as I found the meringue so sweet.

We finished the meal off with the most amazing Japanese green tea I've ever tasted. I should've asked what type of green tea it was, but was desperate to get out of there.

All in all, I was disappointed by the meal. Whilst the first and second course was amazing, the downfalls of the third and fourth course just completely ruined the entire meal for me. I might come back when they change their menu and give them another go, but right now, I'm in no rush to go back.

308 Pacific Highway
Crows Nest
(02) 9906 7736

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The need for Quay....Snowegg that is

I remember sitting infront of TV during the MasterChef finals when they revealed that the final challenge was to recreate the Quay Snowegg. Almost immediately, all the friends I went to Quay with, started messaging each other.

"SNOW EGGGGGG!!@#%#$%@!@!#$"

Before the challenge was over, we had basically organised a group of people to revisit Quay just for the snow egg. We were VERY lucky in being able to get a booking for the 2nd Thursday after the show aired. Apparently Quay is booked out until Feb 2011!! Thanks goodness we've been talking about the snowegg non-stop since our last visit, and didn't hestitate in committing to another night out at Quay.

This time, we invited a few other friends to join us. I guess they got sick of hearing us talk about the Strawberry Guava and Custard Apple snowegg and wanted to try it for themselves. The days leading up to our dinner, I was disappointed learn that they changed the snowegg to Jackfruit! (Actually, the night the show aired, Quay was offering only a Guava snow egg anyway) I love eating jackfruit when in asia, but I find the ones in Australia very bland and almost "off" in taste. Despite this, we were still looking forward to our night out.

Last time we did the tasting menu and all of us went into a food coma by the end of the night. This time we opted to go for the 4 course a la carte menu so we didn't stagger out of there.

We start off with an Amuse Bouche of Tuna Tartare with a consomme jelly type thing with eggplant puree. Again, their amuse bouche just blows you away and kick starts your appetite. I'm not sure what they did to the eggplant puree, but I wish eggplant tasted like that every day!

First Courses:

Raw Chinese artichokes, Hiramasa kingfish, smoked eel, horseradish, nasturtiums, octopus, pickled kohlrabi, egg white & radish flower

For the first course, I had the kingfish with raw chinese artichokes. I still have no idea what the chinese artichokes are, but I can tell you the dish was really light and a great first course. In the centre of the pile is the pickled kohlrabi that really lifted the whole dish up. I enjoyed it so much, I guiltily moped up every last bit of the dish with bread. (Hopefully the waiters didn't see!)

Mudcrab Congee

Most of my friends had ordered the mudcrab congee. Since I had it last time, I chose something different. But when it came, I can tell you I had serious food envy! The smell of the gorgeous aromatic congee wafted around the table making me salivate! FOOD ENVY!!! FOOOD ENVYYYYYYY!!!!! >_<

Second Courses:

Butter poached partridge breast, chestnuts, truffle, bitter chocolate black pudding, milk skin, walnuts

In the tasting menu, you get a butter poached quail breast. We assumed for the a la carte they were going to present the exact same dish, but using a larger partridge breast. The description on both menus are exactly the same, but the dish couldn't have come out more different! It still got the thumbs up though!

Confit of shaved South Australian squid, organic red core radishes, garlic custard, native violets, rosemary flowers, roasted squid consommé

My jaw dropped when this dish got placed infront of my friend. The gorgeous super thin see through slices of red radishes surrounded the plate was breath taking! I whip out the camera, ready to take a photo when the waiter says "I'm going just going to pour on the consomme now". My brain did a silent "NOoOOoOOoOoooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


The waiter was faster than me. But he wasn't as fast as my friends on the other side of the table, who went into a frantic to take a photo of the dish before he got there with his jug if consomme.

Besides the picture perfect dish, I did taste the consomme, and it was an explosion of flavour in my mouth! Not sure about a whole bowlful, as my friend said it got a bit too flavoursome by the end of the dish. But I certainly wasn't complaining about the little bit I did try!

Crisp confit of pig belly, green lipped abalone and cuttlefish, handmade silken tofu, Japanese mushrooms, chive flowers

Again, same description as what was on the a la carte, came out looking different. Still tasted just as great according to my friends!

Gentle braise of sea scallops, pearl oyster, rock lobster, lettuce hearts, tapioca, lobster velvet, oyster cream, pea flowers - $15 supplement

I just could not resist the sound of this dish! It was the lobster velvet and oyster cream that got me. The only problem was, I couldn't really tell it apart from everything! With that said, it was still an amazingly complex dish. The tapioca alone is worthy of being a dish on its own. I made sure I scraped up every last tapioca pearl.

Third Courses:

Complimentary salad

Nameko, shiitake, enoki, & king mushrooms, truffle custard, mushroom consommé

My friend chose the vegetarian dish of mushrooms, custard and consomme. Too bad she was sitting on the other side of our huge table, I would really have loved to try this dish. I loveeeee mushrooms and tofu! She did tell me that it was a beautiful dish and ate every last bit.

Roasted wild snapper, smoked butter, celeriac cream, young greens, winter melon, vongole juices

I didn't try this dish, and I actually don't remember hearing my friends talk about this dish at all. Not because it was bad, but because I was in a world of my own......

Slow braised Berkshire pig jowl, maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with prune kernel oil

Let me get 2 things straight. I hate prunes and I hate cauliflower. The only time I eat cauliflower is when its been deep fried or smothered with cheese. Prunes? I just don't eat it full stop. So why did I order this dish?? I had faith in Peter Gilmore that he can make me like it. And I couldn't get past the maltose crackling! I figured since I already had 2 seafood dishes, I needed some meat in me, preferrably with crackling!

The dish is placed in front of me, and I'm immediately hit with the fragrance of prunes (In a nice way). I tentatively dig into the cauliflower cream and immediately had a "When Harry met Sally" moment. I've never tasted cauliflower like that in my life before. It was rich, hearty, yet delicate and was a light as clouds. LUCKILY! Friends on both sides of me ordered the same dish, meaning I didn't have to share this! MUAhaUAhaUAh

After the initial orgasm over the cauliflower, I take my knife and tapped the crackling, expecting a nice crunch. There was no crunch. The knife went straight through the crackling and then through the meat! HUH? It was only then that I realised the "maltose crackling" wasn't crackling basted in maltose. The crackling was MADE of maltose! Holy crapola! ITS MADE OF MALTOSE! The thinnest, crispiest maltose toffee, covered the most tender and melt in your mouth piece of pork I've ever had. *swoons* Even the prunes went amazing with the pork. This is hands down, the best main dish we've had at Quay. This time, it was my friends who had food envy!! It was so good, I had to borrow a piece of my friend's bread to mop up everything.

The moment finally arrived when it was time for the snowegg. I can hear the satisfying crack as I dig into the egg with my spoon. The texture is just the same as I remembered. The crispy shell, soft meringue, cool crunchy granita and smooth creamy puree. But the taste...the taste just didn't compare to the strawberry guava and custard apple version. All of my friends who came with me last time agreed that the Jackfruit version just wasn't as good. And given a choice between that and the BTS, we all unanimously chose the BTS. But those who had never tried a snowegg before, absolutely loved it!

Even with 4 courses, we were still stuffed by the end of the night, and could not fit in tea or petite fours. I can't wait to come back and try Quay again, especially when Guava and Custard apple is back in season!

Overseas Passenger Terminal
The Rocks, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9251 5600

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Absinthe Salon and House (Northeast Thai Street Food) - Surry Hills

I've been wanting to go to the Absinthe Salon ever since I heard about it. I've only had it once before, as a shot...after about 8 shots of other stuff. So my memory is errrr....slightly clouded....

I finally managed to organise a night out with the girls and agreed to meet at the Salon. It was a freezing cold, rainy dark night when we went. Trudging up Albion St in the rain, we eventually find ourselves outside a dimly lit building with bars on the doors and windows. The only way to enter, is to ring a doorbell so someone can let you in. It felt like I was attending a secret society meeting and only the most elite may enter.

Walking in, you find yourself in a quaint little front room, displaying various "absinthe equipment". Through the room, you're led into a small and cosy salon, where each table had an absinthe fountain on it.

We're seated whilst we wait for our other friends and given an absinthe menu. Hmmmm.....ok..... I have idea what I was meant to do. Maybe its the surrounding, or maybe its just be a long week. But I stared and stared at the menu, and I didn't understand a word it was saying! All I noticed was random numbers indicating the alcoholic level. 45%, 65%.....holy crapola! 72%!? Isn't that like.....hospital grade disinfectant!? Is it going to burn a hell hole through my stomach?!

When the rest of my friends arrived, the waitress kindly came over and gave us an explaination of the different type of absinthes. And since it was our first time, she would not recommend us jumping straight into the 70%+ type absinthes. Dang, I was looking forward to seeing if I could breath fire after drinking it! In the end, we each chose our absinthe.......based on the look of the bottle! haha luckily, they were all fairly low in alcohol content. I think I ended up with the highest one around 60%.

My blue bottle

The Absinthe fountain is filled with water and heaps of ice. TO prepare the drink the proper way (And no, apparently downing it as a shot is NOT the way to drink it..), you place their funky spoon/sieve thing over your glass of absinthe and then place a cube of sugar ontop. You then turn on the absinthe fountain and let the now ice cold water, slowly drip onto the sugar cube. The sugar cube will slowly dissolve into your drink. You can add as much water and sugar to taste, but the waitress told us what the recommended water to ratio was for each drink and we stuck to that.

I was expecting a burning taste when you drink absinthe and half expected to have to scull the whole glass. But what we had was smooth, mellow, and tasted of liquorice choc bullets! However, don't be fooled! After about 15mins, my face started to go slightly funny, as if I've just gone to the dentist! Luckily my friends confirmed that no, I'm not drooling haha

We slowly sipped our drinks as we waited for the rain to subside outside. We opted to have just 1 drink each since most of my friends are light weights anyway. The plan was to go to House, just a few blocks away for dinner.

House is the new Spice I am. Unlike other typical Thai restaurants, House specialises in Northeast Thai Street food, which resembles Laos food. Despite the rain, its packed to the rafters. We put our name down on the waiting list, and ducked into the Triple Ace bar to wait for that call. We eventually get a table before we start to chew our arms off.

Nua daed deaw - Dried beef

Hmmm...not sure how to describe this dish. Partly like jerky, partly like overcooked beef (In a nice way). I could've done with a big plate of this and an ice cold beer, especially when you dip it into their spicy sauce.

Tom Yum Powng Kai Embryo Soup

Wow.....I didn't know what to expect. When my friend suggested we try this, I thought it was going to be similar to Balut (Fertilised duck egg). But the "embryo" actually looked like cooked egg yolks, but had a bouncy texture of egg whites. Even my freaked out friend enjoyed it and went back for seconds. The soup was hot and sour and vibrant, albeit a bit too salty for our liking. I reckon a little bit more water would've been perfect!

Gai Yang - Chargrilled chicken

Oh my.....who knew a simple chargrilled chicken could be so moist and flavoursome! Sticky smokey skin, moist chicken paired with their various chilli sauces made this one of my favourite dishes of the night! Now where is the other half of the chicken.....?

Deep fried snapper

Hmmmmmm.....absinthe affected my memory....but I do remember the fish being incredibly moist and flakey on the inside, and crispy and crunchy on the outside. I didn't even bother with cutlery and grabbed a deep fried crispy fish fin and started crunching on it like they were chips!

Larb Ped - Duck Salad

Another must have whenever we go Thai, is a duck salad. Usually you would expect slices of roast duck in a salad. In this case, it aws more like minced duck meat. But it was fresh, salty and gave a really good spicey kick to waken me from my absinthe induced stupor! They even provide a tumbler full of cold raw veggies to help ease the burn of chilli.

Oh, and did I mention how cute the basket the sticky rice came in was?!

Whilst their food was great and on par with the quality churned our by Spice I am, we were there for one thing only. BTS. Or as the waitress shyly explained, Better Than Sex. On almost every table around us, you can see people sharing plates of this dessert. Not us. I ain't sharing this with nobody!


OMG......they're right. It is BTS! A big cold creamy scoop of thick Pandan and coconut ice cream, sits ontop of a cripsy, buttery fried piece of brioche. This was then drizzled with palm sugar syrup and topped with black seasame seeds. OH MY FRIGGIN GOSH!!!! My friend took one bite, and physically slammed the table with her fist because it was so good! The outside of the brioche was incredibly buttery and crunchy. Take a mouthful of that with the creamy ice cream and you're in heaven! I actually ate the entire outside ring of the BTS, before tackling the centre of the brioche, which was crispy on the outside, but airy and light in the middle. I knew I was going to slip into a food induced orgamsic coma, but I didn't care. I couldn't stop! Lord help me I couldn't stop!!!! Next thing you know, I'm slumped on the couch clutching my belly with a sugar glazed grin on my face. Yes my friends, that was BTS.

Absinthe Salon
87 Albion St
Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9211 6632
Bookings at least a week in advance is advised

(Northeast Thai Street Food)
202-210 Elizabeth St
Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9280 0364

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