Sydney is home to some of Australia’s best restaurants – here you can enjoy many award-winning gourmet dining experiences and dynamic chefs well-known for their innovative cuisine. Some of the chefs in these restaurants with the prestigious Chefs Hat Award had even struck out on their own to setup restaurants in their own style!

What makes the dining experience in Sydney even better is knowing that some Sydney chefs tap on high quality local fresh produce (and some even grow their own!) to produce amazing dishes – for a foodie from Singapore, it was definitely an experience I was looking forward to.

During my recent trip to Sydney, I had the opportunity to check out a few amazing restaurants in the heart of the Sydney city and even as far afield as in the Sydney suburbs e.g. Bronte – most of them using local fresh produce and some of them being helmed by chefs who had worked in Hatted restaurants.

Sagra Restaurant at Darlinghurst

Sagra is a good combination of the two factors that I am looking for in my Sydney food trail – experienced chefs from Hatted restaurants and the use of fresh local produce in creating Sagra’s menus.

Sagra is helmed by Nigel Ward from the one hatted Sean’s Panaroma and have spent some time at Lucio’s and the popular London trattoria, Trullo.  Sagra is also well-known for as they say it “organic, biodynamic, farm to plate” food.  Sagra’s menu changes daily and they make their own bread, their own pasta and even make their own wine!

The menu is simple – just four antipasti, four primi (pasta dishes) and two secondi (main courses), usually one meat-based and one fish.  The food is simple and yet very good – referring to the picture below (starting from the top left and going clockwise), we tried the lamb fritti, fennel & anchovy (AU$18) and brussel sprouts, slow cocked egg & vincotto (AU$17) for antipasti before moving on to the bone marrow ravioli with nettle butter (AU$19) for primi and finally spatchcock, romanesco & salsa rossa (AU$28) for secondi.

You will most likely not get the same menu next time you visit Sagra but what you must try in Sagra are the pasta dishes – obviously because this is a Italian restaurant but really they are very good – I loved the bone marrow ravioli!  The lamb fritti was very tender and tasted very good.  I find the spatchcock a bit salty but the meat is tender and fresh (you won’t find those imported frozen meat here!).

sagra-restaurant-sydney-italian

Sagra is quite a small restaurant – about 10+ tables.  You get the homely, cozy feel when you dine here at Sagra especially with the friendly service – very unassuming atmosphere.  Frankly, I was unfamiliar with a lot of the words in the Sagra menu e.g. papardelle, fregola, spatchcock but the Sagra staff was quite patient and explained in detail each item and made good recommendations on what to eat here at Sagra!

sagra-restaurant-darlinghurst-sydney

Another plus point of Sagra is its location in Darlinghurst, Sydney.  We were staying at Pullman Sydney Hyde Park (just a 5-minute walk from the busy Chinatown district) and we were able to walk to Sagra in about 5-6 minutes.  There are also a number of cool hipster restaurants around this area too and Hyde Park is just a few minutes walk away – perfect for a leisurely stroll after a full meal at Sagra.

Sagra’s Address: 62 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst 2010

Website: http://sagrasydney.com.au/

Telephone: (02) 8307 0430

Opening Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 12 noon-3pm; Dinner Mon-Sat 6pm-10.30pm

Q Dining at Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour Hotel

Q Dining (formerly known as the Quadrant Restaurant) is located within the Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour Hotel.  Here at Q Dining, besides good food and an excellent dining ambiance, you also enjoy great views of the harbour through its  floor to ceiling glass windows. Located on the eastern side of Circular Quay, Q Dining is also a popular spot for pre-theatre dining before an evening at the Sydney Opera House.

I loved the seafood dishes at Q Dining e.g. the seared bay scallops served with black pudding and cauliflower (AU$26) and the barramundi served with macadamia crusted clams and fennel textures (AU$42) – see the topmost pictures in the picture below.  The barramundi’s crispy skin can be quite salty if tasted by itself – the trick to enjoy this dish is to slice a portion of the meat and eat it with a bit of the skin for a good mix of crispiness and softness of the barramundi!  We concluded our meal at Q Dining with an interesting and refreshing dessert – Earl Grey ice-cream served with zokoko chocolate and salted caramel (AU$13) – you get the taste of sweet chocolate infused with caramel and to top it all off with earl grey – quite an interesting concoction.

q-dining-dinner-pullman-grand-quay-sydney

For breakfast at Q Dining, we treated ourselves to a 4 hour pork cheek served with rustic egg whites, roasted tomato and vincotto (AU$21) and scrambled eggs (AU$9) served with sides of hash browns (AU$5).  Q Dining prides itself on using fresh local produce e.g. Fryars Kangaroo Island free range eggs, South Australia bacon and ham and sausages from Blackforest Smokehouse.

q-dining-pullman-grand-sydney-quay-breakfast

Q Dining Address: Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour Hotel, 61 Macquarie Street, Sydney 2000

Website: http://www.pullmanquaygrandsydneyharbour.com/restaurantandbars/

Telephone: (02) 9256 4044

Opening Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri noon-3pm; Dinner Mon-Sat 5.30pm-10pm

CHISWICK at Woollahra

Located in the beautiful Sydney suburb of Woollahra, CHISWICK Restaurant is a casual dining venue co-owned by celebrity chef Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan.  Mention “Matt Moran” to Sydney locals and they will talk about the successful fine-dining restaurant ARIA and rave about its great food.  Thus, it is not a surprise that CHISWICK is just as popular among locals.

CHISWICK even has its own 150 square metres working herb and vegetable garden. When CHISWICK talks about ‘farm to table’ for its dishes, it is with not only produce from the garden but also superb grass-fed beef and lamb from the Moran family farm near Bathurst.

chiswick-open-bar-restaurant-woollahra

If you are dining with a group of 4-5 friends at CHISWICK and no one can’t seem to make up their mind of what to eat here, you can check out the CHISWICK Collective Menu (AU$75 per person) which puts together all of CHISWICK’s popular dishes e.g. oregano, garlic, wood fired bread; Kingfish sashimi served with sesame, yuzu and coriander; ‘Cioppino’ fish served with prawns, mussels, tomatoes and fregola; Wood roasted Moran family lamb served with white bean and smoked tomato; CHISWICK hazelnut rocher and many more dishes.

Otherwise, there is a huge selection of nibbles, small plates, mains and to share plates to choose from the CHISWICK menu.  For appetisers, we started with Prawn popcorn served with chipotle mayonnaise and lemon (AU$14), Kingfish sashimi served with sesame, yuzu and coriander (AU$19), Snow crab slider served with lettuce, kewpie and gherkins (AU$9) and Seared scallops served with celeriac and fresh Western Australian truffle (AU$22).  My personal favorites are the snow crab slider and seared scallops.  I had the opportunity to try the Crispy fried quail served with lime, shallot and ginger (AU$22) – not pictured below – I absolutely loved it – must try!

chiswick-appetisers-restaurant-sydney-scallops

For mains, we ordered the Roast pork belly served with toasted barley and shallot dressing (AU$33), Char grilled grain-fed beef, roast parsnip, seeded mustard butter (AU$35) and Pan roasted whole flounder served with fine nuts, kale and pipis (AU$34).

The servings for the mains at CHISWICK were quite generous!  The Roast Pork Belly tasted just like how a typical roasted pork belly 五花肉 is prepared Chinese-style – crispy skin with a good quantity of fat (but not too much).  I find the flounder fish dish too bony to my liking – too much hassle eating it.  The Char grilled grain-fed beef was excellently done – it was ordered medium rare and it was prepared just right – not too hard and tasted really good with the sides!

One of the side dish worth a mention (not pictured here) is definitely the Hand cut chips served with black garlic aioli (AU$9) – these are quite thick slices of chips and they are fried to the right level of crispiness – very addictive dish and I can’t stop nibbling at it even with my generous mains!

chiswick-restaurant-main-courses-pork-belly-beef

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

If you are staying in or travelling to Jeju city as part of your self-drive itinerary around Jeju Island, you might want to check out the Yongduam Rock – also known as the Dragon Head Rock. The Yongduam rock is situated at the northern end of Jeju city. To find the location in Jeju using GPS onboard your rental car, key in this phone number 7283918 for Yongduam Rock (Dragon Head Rock).

Parking is free near the Yongduam Rock attraction. There are no admission fees and you can check out the Yongduam Rock anytime as it is open 24 hours 7 days a week. However do note that not everyone checks out this Yongduam Dragon Head Rock from the correct angle especially if they arrive there during a cold and windy night or doesn’t know how to look at the Yongduam Rock from the correct angle.

We arrived at Yongduam Rock at night around 8pm. There was a busload of tourists hanging around a viewing terrace to the Yongduam Rock and taking selfies, wefies and various pictures with the Yongduam Rock as seen below before rushing back to their tour bus. They are taking pictures of the correct Yongduam Rock but the strange thing is no matter how you look at it, it does not look like a dragon head at all.

yongduam-dragon-head-rock-backview

yongduam-jeju-dragon-rock-viewing-terrace

This is because this is the back of the Yongduam Rock – i guessed their tour guide did not bother to explain to them the right way to see the “dragon head” on the rock and once they alighted from the bus, they just rush to the most familiar thing to them – a viewing platform.

There is actually a walking trail – a series of steps which brings you to the other side of the Yongduam Rock. The trail is quite short – about a 3-minute downhill walk on a few flights of stairs.

yongduam jeju dragon rock walking trail

The picture below shows what the front view of the Yongduam Dragon Head Rock looks like – see the dragon head with its mouth wide open?

yongduam-dragon-rock-front-view

The scientific explanation for the creation of the Yongduam Dragon Head Rock was that it was caused by the erosion of the coastal rocks by strong winds and waves over thousands of years. There are many interesting local legends behind how this Yongduam Dragon Head Rock was created too – One legend has it that a dragon stealing precious jade from Jeju island’s Mount Halla was shot down by an arrow from the mountain deity. When the dragon fell down on Yongduam, its body immediately sank into the ocean and his head rapidly froze looking at the sky. Another legend has it that a white horse, who dreamed of being a dragon and ascending to the sky, was caught by a soldier and froze into the rock.

Regardless of how it was created – Yongduam Dragon Head Rock looked spectacular especially when you know the correct angle to take a picture with it – see example picture for the correct way of taking the typical tourist picture with the Yongduam Dragon Head Rock in Jeju. :-)

Do note that the coastline is jagged and spectacular so climbing around on the rocks to get a better view can be quite dangerous.

jeju-yongduam-dragon-head-rock-korea

There are many cafes and restaurants around the Yongduam Rock area – I am not surprised if this area is filled with tourist souvenir stands and bustling street good during the day since this is such a popular tourist attraction in Jeju and it is very close to Jeju city. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the women divers known as haenyeo catching their seafood for the day in this area.

jeju-yongduam-dragon-head-tourist-sightseeing

jeju-yongduam-dragon-rock-attraction

From Jeju International Airport,take bus bound for jeju-si Jungang-ro. Get off at Yongdam Rotary. Walk toward the beach for 5-10 minutes. Yongduam Rock is about a 10 minutes taxi ride from Jeju International Airport.

{ 0 comments }

Hiking Up Jeju’s Island Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak) – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

by Zhiqiang & TingyiSeptember 8, 2014
Sunrise Peak Jeju

No trip to Jeju island is complete without a hike up to the Sunrise Peak or as the Koreans call it – Seongsan Ilchulbong (성산일출봉). Some of you might be thinking “huh climb mountain ah!” – yes that’s what I felt too, I hate hiking trails, mountain climbing trips etc. Hiking up the Taktsang Monastery [...]

Read on for the full story → Add A Comment

What to Do and See in Phoenix, Arizona

by Zhiqiang & TingyiSeptember 8, 2014
phoenix

Image via Flickr by: kevin dooley Phoenix, Arizona is a unique spot to visit. It is one of the cleanest cities in the country and is a smaller area, so it has its own local flair with fresh dining options, boutique hotels and shopping, and beautiful outdoor recreational areas and golf courses. It is a [...]

Read on for the full story → Add A Comment

A Day Out on Sentosa Island – What to Do, See and Eat

by Zhiqiang & TingyiSeptember 4, 2014
The Merlion Sentosa

Advertorial There is so much to do on Sentosa Island – be it just chilling out by the beach or learning about the history of the island or trying a new adventure – you name it, they will very likely have it. For an overview of Sentosa’s sights and attractions, I suggest that you start [...]

Read on for the full story → Add A Comment

Review of Giift – Managing Your Loyalty Programmes and Gift Cards

by Zhiqiang & TingyiSeptember 1, 2014
Giift

Today, almost every store and service is providing some sort of loyalty programme or reward card – from Watsons to H&M to Singapore Airlines and even your local bubble tea shop (get 10 “chops” to exchange for 1 free drink type of rewards).  There have been several occasions when I was doing spring cleaning of [...]

Read on for the full story → Add A Comment

Top 4 Shopping Streets in Seoul – Myeongdong, Hongdae, Ewha, Dongdaemun

by Zhiqiang & TingyiAugust 30, 2014
Seoul Shopping

Seoul is a shopping paradise for all kinds of things e.g. skincare products, cosmetics, fashionable clothes, shoes – yup all the things you see the actresses and actors wear and carry in those Korean drama – Seoul is the place to get them all.  So many things to buy and so many places to see [...]

Read on for the full story → Add A Comment

How To Make Your Cruise Vacation More Enjoyable

by Zhiqiang & TingyiAugust 30, 2014
cruise

Anyone who has experienced a cruise vacation that was handled by leading cruise service providers that boast of grandiose contemporary interiors and other luxurious features know that signing up for the said vacation activities is well-worth one’s time, money, and effort. Simply put, cruises (given that they are offered by tried and tested companies) have [...]

Read on for the full story → Add A Comment

5 Pre-Flight Preparation Tips for an Enjoyable (or Rather Less Painful) Long Haul Flight

by Zhiqiang & TingyiAugust 26, 2014
Thumbnail image for 5 Pre-Flight Preparation Tips for an Enjoyable (or Rather Less Painful) Long Haul Flight

Advertorial We just survived a 22-hour long flight journey (with one stop at London) from Boston back to Singapore. Both the Boston to London and London to Singapore flight legs were full – thus no 4-seaters or 3-seaters where we could lie down to sleep for the journey. Nonetheless, the journey (on economy class) was [...]

Read on for the full story → Add A Comment

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Miss Out the Formula F1 Singapore Grand Prix Street Circuit Night Race

by Zhiqiang & TingyiAugust 23, 2014
F1 Grand Prix Singapore Night Race

The 2014 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix will be held on 19, 20 and 21 September 2014. It is one of the biggest motorsport events in the Asian continent.  Here’s three reasons why you should check out this Formula 1 race here in Singapore. Image credits: http://www.singaporegp.sg/on-track/gallery/2013/photos Formula 1 Street Circuit Race Experience Singapore [...]

Read on for the full story → Add A Comment