Temasek, Parramatta: Chicken and prawn laksa

Rating: 5 out of 5

Temasek
71 George Street, Parramatta 2150

temasek laksa

I love laksa.  It’s a perfect meal in winter, when it’s cold outside and the creamy chili soup warms you up from the inside out.  And it’s also fantastic in summer, when the creamy chili soup makes you sweat and cools you down from the outside in.  I defy anyone to try a laksa and to hate it when it’s the ultimate in comfort food for a noodle lover.

Temasek is one of Sydney’s “go to” places for lovers of Singaporean and Malaysian food, and people will trek out to the western Sydney suburb of Parramatta for a taste of their famous Hainanese chicken rice, along with the usual favourites such as char kway teow, beef rendang, nasi goreng, and LAKSA!

The service was quick and efficient, and our meals arrived very soon after our waitress took our order.

Our chicken and prawn laksa was laden with big fresh juicy king prawns and lots of juicy tender chicken breast (I normally don’t dig chicken breast due to the high likelihood of it being served on the dry side, but this definitely was not the case at Temasek!), along with a generous serving of both hokkien noodles and rice vermicelli.  There were also some fresh bean sprouts for crunchy texture, chunks of fried tofu that soaks up all the delicious laksa soup like a sponge, and a liberal sprinkling of fried onions on top.  The soup was deliciously thick, creamy and rich, with warm heat of the added chili and a fragrant herby and shrimpy flavour.  My boyfriend said that he would have preferred a thinner style soup, but hey, horses for courses.  Pleasingly, the soup was not too oily either, which can be a common complaint with laksas.

This was a faultess laksa in my opinion, and I would happily drive across town for it.  Although some may snipe at the brusque service, well, it’s an Asian restaurant, not fine dining.

temasek laksa

Temasek on Urbanspoon

New Shanghai, Ashfield: Stir fried la mian with pork and vegetables

Rating: 2 out of 5

New Shanghai
273 Liverpool Road, Ashfield 2131

hand made noodle la mian

One of the most mesmerising experiences one can have is to witness la mian being made.  In Chinese, it means “pulled noodle”, and it’s a fascinating sight seeing the noodle puller repeatedly stretching and pulling a nondescript pile of dough into fresh, springy noodles.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the noodles being made tonight at New Shanghai, as it was a late 8pm weeknight dinner visit.  Despite this, the restaurant was still full of chatty diners, overwhelmingly of Chinese background, which is always a good sign for a Chinese restaurant!  We were seated quickly and served a hot pot of tea, with the waitress coming back within around 30 seconds to take our order.  Eager to please, or get us in and out so that they could go home!

We ordered the stir fried la mian with pork and vegetables, since it was the first item on the noodle menu and presumably the safe choice, but also because the photo illustration at the bottom of the dish looked pretty damn good.  When it arrived, we looked at each other with instant disappointment. The noodles only just covered the bottom of the white rectangular dish, with no whiff of volume or generous proportions.  It certainly looked nothing like the picture on the menu.

The noodles themselves were deliciously springy and not too soft, stir fried in a tasty soy-based sauce with a hint of chilli.  However, the noodles were the only salvation for this dish.  The aforementioned pork was barely existent, with only a few scratchings of marinated meat which were even outnumbered by the small amount of choy sum vegetable.

Overall, the dish was disappointing considering our high hopes.  A paltry serving with very little meat overshadowed the beautiful noodles.  Not a good value proposition at all.

New Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Asakaze, North Ryde: Karaage udon

Rating: 3 out of 5

Asakaze
Macquarie Centre, Herring & Waterloo Roads, North Ryde 2113

karaage udon

I’m normally not a huge udon noodle soup fan, if only because I usually prefer a fuller flavoured soup such as a tonkotsu or a laksa to the udon’s typically lighter flavoured kakejiru.  However, I was about to head to the gym for a work out and was looking for a light meal, so settled on the karaage udon at Asakaze.

The restaurant is within the Macquarie Centre shopping complex, and attempts to woo passerbys with their display of interesting and creative sushi offers.  Being a noodle fanatic, I was obviously going to go for either a ramen or a udon dish.  The service was polite, and the food arrived after only a short wait.

The bowl of steaming noodle soup was served with the karaage pieces bobbing on the top, getting soggier with each passing moment.  There were also thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms, a piece of fried tofu, kombu, shaved carrot, a slice of pink and white kamaboko, and finely chopped spring onions.  The thick white udon noodles were a little bit too soft, being noticeably chewier on the inside after biting through, but the light coloured kakejiru was not too salty with a tasty umami flavour.  The karaage was quite good, despite the soggy exterior, with the marinated chicken being tender and not too dry.

Overall, the karaage udon is satisfactory, filling a hole before you embark on a shopping expedition, or head to the movies or the gym.  It’s not particularly good value, with the modest portion size and a price tag of $12.90, however it’s hard to pick too many faults with it.

Asakaze Macquarie Centre on Urbanspoon

Temasek, Parramatta: Char kway teow

Rating: 5 out of 5

Temasek
71 George Street, Parramatta 2150

temasek char kway teow

For me, it’s hard to go past char kway teow on a menu.  Ho fun, or the flat rice noodle, is my favourite type of noodle of all time, and this dish just celebrates it so well.  Eating char kway teow makes me feel like I’m sitting in a hawker stall in Singapore or Malaysia.

Temasek is a Sydney institution for lovers of Singaporean and Malaysian food.  Situated in the western Sydney suburb of Parramatta, the restaurant attracts diners from all over Sydney, a mostly Asian crowd that know and love this cuisine.  It’s almost always bursting with eager crowds, so we were surprised when we easily snagged a table at 12:30pm on a Saturday.

The service was quick and efficient, and our meals arrived only a mere 5 minutes or so after our waitress took our order.  Seeing other tables laden with succulent Hainanese chicken rice and creamy laksa, our appetites were definitely thankful for the short wait!

The char kway teow was a glorious combination of soft, elastic ho fun, stir fried with fresh bean sprouts for crunch, big juicy king prawns, sweet Chinese sausage lap cheong, and was flecked with chopped red chilis for some heat and fire (the chilis are optional, but we couldn’t resist!).  There was a slight sweetness to the delicious salty soy sauce flavour and pleasingly, there was no heavy oily feeling in the mouth.  The smokiness of the well seasoned wok can also be tasted in this dish.

Temasek is hands down my nomination for the best char kway teow in Sydney, and on its own, is undoubtedly worth the trek out to Parramatta. Get to it!

Temasek on Urbanspoon

Ippudo, Sydney: Tonkotsu ramen

Rating: 5 out of 5

Ippudo
Westfield Sydney, Pitt St, Sydney 2000

tonkotsu ramen Ippudo

I’m sure that ramen fans rejoiced when they heard that Ippudo was finally arriving on our shores.  The excitement levels were probably the food equivalent to Zara and Topshop opening their doors in Sydney. And for good reason, as I found out.

The Ippudo chain has branched out its roots from Japan to famous cities such as New York, Seoul and Taipei, and finally arrived in Sydney in December 2012.  Their signature is their tonkotsu broth, made by simmering pork bones for many, many hours, so it would have been rude of me not to try their famous tonkotsu-based ramen.  The restaurant here is known to be quite busy during peak lunch and dinner services, however we arrived here at around 3:00pm for a late lunch and there were quite a few tables available.  The tables are arranged in a communal setting, so you will more often than not be sharing a table with other ramen fans (maybe not ideal for a first date then!). The lighting is dim, but pleasant and a little atmospheric and theatrical, especially as you can get a glimpse of the ramen chefs on one side of the dining room preparing your meal.

A big bowl of steaming ramen is one of my favourite comfort foods, and the tonkotsu broth here does not disappoint.  It is deliciously creamy and wonderfully porky, yet light in colour and mouthfeel, which doesn’t coat it with fattiness.  The noodles aren’t your instant noodle curly type noodle, but a thin style, elastic noodle that is manufactured with Australian flour.  The Akamaru ramen that I ordered also came with a dollop of miso paste and a flavoured egg, and together with the lovely broth, I was in pork heaven.  If I hadn’t already slurped all the tasty soup, I could have ordered a second helping of noodles, but I wanted to leave with the satisfied and contented feeling the tonkotsu ramen had given me without completely overdoing it.

Ippudo has set a new benchmark for me for Sydney ramen, slightly nudging out the old favourite Ryo’s.  Ippudo’s website mentions an expansion from its signature tonkotsu broth to other flavoured broths, which only gives me more reasons to go back!

ippudo

Ippudō on Urbanspoon

Canton Noodle House, Burwood: Beef chow ho fun

Rating: 3 out of 5

Canton Noodle House
45 Burwood Road, Burwood 2134

beef ho fun

Ho fun, or the thick, flat rice noodles, is probably my favourite type of noodle in the world.  Soft and silky, and readily absorbing the flavours of whatever you add, it’s delicious even when served simply with a little bit of soy sauce and chilli oil.  Growing up, my dad often made beef chow ho fun, served with marinated strips of beef, so it’s certainly a nostalgic dish for me.

This restaurant is in the suburb of Burwood, which has a healthy Chinese population, and as a result, a multitude of Chinese restaurant choices.  The Canton Noodle House is popular during both lunch and dinner services, serving with military efficiency a big variety of noodle dishes as well as the favourites like sweet and sour pork or salt and pepper squid.

The beef chow ho fun was a generous size, as is the case with pretty much every dish here, and had a pleasing glossy sheen without being too oily.  The noodles were soft and elastic, just as they should be, and this was contrasted with the crunchiness of fresh bean sprouts and subtle hint of aromatic onion from the stir-fried chives.  There was plenty of tender grilled beef to keep meat fans happy, although for a noodle fan like myself, I would have preferred a higher ratio of noodles to meat.  One slightly annoying thing was the varying sizes of beef, with some pieces small and dainty, but others so big that you couldn’t fit a whole piece in your mouth with looking gluttonous, let alone having some noodle with your mouthful of meat.

The dish was polished off without too many complaints, and considering the portion size, a good value proposition when washed down with free hot tea!

Canton Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Thai Paragon, North Strathfield: Pad thai chicken

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thai Paragon
Bakehouse Quarter, George St, North Strathfield 2137

pad thai chicken

For a good portion of the last decade, pad thai was probably Sydney’s favourite dish, akin to the English and their fondness for chicken tikka masala.  Thai food joints popped up everywhere, often right next door to each other, and we just couldn’t get enough of their delicious red curries, chili and basil stir-fries, and this delicious noodle concoction known as pad thai.  Even though Thai has long been replaced by Mexican and American dude food in trendiness and popularity stakes, it is still a firm favourite amongst many Australians.

Thai Paragon is situated in the Bakehouse Quarter in North Strathfield, a stone’s throw away from Outback Steakhouse and Pancakes on the Rocks.  The restaurant is all dark wood and moody inside, but on a nice sunny autumn day, there is no better seat than outside, even if the cars are passing within metres of your table.

The pad thai chicken is a measley $10.90 as a lunch special, and you get a serving big enough to keep you fuelled for nearby tenpin bowling or laser skirmish activities.  The noodles came out an odd pink colour, but were sprinkled liberally with raw bean sprouts for fresh crunch, along with a wedge of lemon and crushed peanuts.  The bean sprouts and peanuts added a nice contrast in texture to the chewy noodles and tender chicken, and the sour lemon juice cut through the sweet flavour of the noodles.

Strangely, there were two big lonely chunks of red capsicum that seemed a bit out of place in amongst the strands of noodles, but otherwise there was a nice even sprinkling of chicken, mini tofu cubes and egg throughout.

Overall it was a decent dish of springy noodles with sweet and sour flavours and mix of textures.  The service is relatively quick for lunch service and pretty good value too.

Thai Paragon on Urbanspoon

Canton Noodle House, Burwood: Combination chow mein

Rating: 3 out of 5

Canton Noodle House
45 Burwood Road, Burwood 2134

combination chow mein

Something has to be said about a place that is unfussy to look at, with wipe down tables, fluorescent lighting, and a menu handwritten on coloured paper stuck to the wall, but is always filled with eager Chinese diners.

This restaurant is smack in the middle of Burwood, and is a favourite at lunch time and also in the evening.  We dined here on a Monday night, which would normally be a night that restaurant owners have off, but this place is still busy.  We are seated quickly and efficiently, with a pot of hot Chinese tea reaching our table before our bums even hit our seats.

The combination chow mein arrived after only a short wait, and we found a generous mix of seafood, vegetables, tender chicken and beef, and BBQ pork in a saucy gravy, poured over a thick nest of crispy thin egg noodles. One of the best things about chow mein is having a mix of textures, with crunchy noodles as well as soft noodles after the gravy has deliciously soaked in.

This dish was generously proportioned, and the meat was tender and juicy.  There was also a fairly even ratio of meat and vegetables to noodle, meaning you’re not left with lonely noodles or meat towards the end of the meal.  However, the gravy was a little on the salty side, and was a bit too gelatinous, suggesting that the chef was a bit overeager with the corn starch.

Overall, the combination chow mein here is great value at $10.70 for a big serving without the frills but delivers it with no fuss.

Canton Noodle House on Urbanspoon