Monday, January 30, 2012


Ichibang, a recent addition to Crown Street eateries, may not be big in size but definitely serves up some good dishes. 

For those wanting to quickly grab something on the way home, there is a takeaway counter near the entrance. But if you are like us and have a bit of time for a sit down meal, the dinning area is comfortable; tables are well spaced so you don't feel like you are joining the table next to you for dinner. The dishes don't take long to appear on your table either, the chefs run a rather efficient open kitchen.

Once seated we were handed our menus by one of the friendly waitresses, I was surprised to see a separate drinks menu that offered a selection of wine among the usual soft drinks, juices and tea; most of the small Japanese restaurants I have been to are usually BYO.

Sushi & Sashimi Combination (Medium)
There are a few dishes I tend to always order when having Japanese, namely, edamame, agedashi tofu and seaweed salad. On that note, Ichibang's seaweed salad was absolutely delicious, fresh and with just the right amount of dressing, one of the best I've had.

The sushi and sashimi combo had a good selection of sushi roll, nigiri and fresh sashimi; the medium sized plate was good for sharing. For a hot dish, the teriyaki beef was flavourful and the side of cabbage salad added the much needed vegetable to our meal.

While Sushi Suma's menu has more variety, Ichibang is definitely a good alternative, especially if you crave fresh sashimi on a Monday night when Sushi Suma is closed.

Ichibang: Shop 2, 616-618 Crown Street, Surry Hills, 2010  Ichibang on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bondi Openair Cinema

When we think of summer in Sydney, Bondi Beach would be one of the first things that comes to mind, so what's a better way to spend a summer evening than to catch a movie down the beach?

Bondi Openair Cinema kicked off its summer stint on Dolphin Lawn tonight with a special screening of the documentary Bill Cunningham New York presented by Time Out. It was an unbiased, brilliant documentary showcasing the life of an 80 year old fashion photographer, most famous for his ‘On The Street’ page in the New York TimesWhile the weather could have been better, well, a lot better, the openair cinema itself is quite a treat.

So if you are looking for something fun to do this summer, pack a picnic basket and head down to Bondi Beach and check out the openair cinema. A good selection of new and old classic movies will be screened in the evenings through till the 4th of March. It is an all weather event, i.e. bring your wet weather gear if rain is forecasted. Four-legged friends are welcome as long as they are leashed and well behaved. There is however a no BYO alcohol or glassware policy, but do not fret, there is a fully licensed bar onsite and a Sonoma Bakery station that dishes out some simple food options. 

I'd recommend purchasing tickets in advance to avoid showing up to a "SOLD OUT" sign. There are different level of tickets, the general entry will get you access to the grass area, while a Star Class ticket will include deck chair hire, reserved seating closest to the big screen and complimentary sparkling wine. If you want to splash out then go for the Star Class Ocean Lounger tickets, in addition to all the Star Class perks you'll get a bean lounger, which looked pretty comfortable, plus a free Ben & Jerry's ice cream mini.

Doors open at 5.30pm with local bands and solo artists entertaining the crowd till the movie starts after sunset. And if you attend a Sunday session, a Ben & Jerry's ice cream mini is also included in the ticket price. Free ice cream - how can you say no to that?

Bondi Openair Cinema: Dolphin Lawn next to Bondi Pavilion, Bondi Beach, NSW 2026

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Noodle Factory (CLOSED)

Noodle Factory,  a little eatery next door to the popular Sushi Suma on Cleveland Street serves up some simple but good dishes. 

The decor, like its dishes, is very simple, wooden tables and stools and a long cushioned banquette runs along the wall on one side of the restaurant. What stood out are the lanterns hanging off the ceiling, they come in different colours, shapes and sizes, with a massive cluster of them hanging just above the register. 

The menu is a mix of Asian dishes, including Thai, Chinese and Malaysian. Since we were only after a quick dinner we ordered two dishes to share.  

The Noodle Factory Hot Dish (thin egg noodles, wok tossed, with beef, chicken, roast pork and fresh seasonal vegetales in a Thai chilli sauce) can be served mild, medium or hot. Being on the cautious side we asked for 'mild', but it turns out the kitchen uses sweet chilli sauce so there wasn't much of a bite to the dish, perhaps 'hot' is the way to go? 

Noodle Factory Hot Dish & Sambal Fried Rice
Even though I'm not a big fan of fried rice, I rather enjoyed the Sambal Fried Rice (Malaysian style rice with chicken, carrots, onion, spring onion, peas and fresh seasonal vegetables in sambal sauce). The chicken was tender and the vegetables were crisp and delightful.  

The service was quick and friendly but it was hard to judge the speed of the kitchen as it appears we caught them on a quiet evening, there was only one other table in use while we were there.

There is nothing fancy about Noodle Factory, it's simply a good little place to satisfy your noodle or rice cravings whether you choose to dine in or take away.

Noodle Factory: 423 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010  Noodle Factory on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sushi Suma

A favourite among the locals, Sushi Suma is one of the places that consistently serves up good food. I have not been disappointed once over my numerous visits.  

Once seated, you'll find a little complimentary appetiser on your table, a small dish of cold vermicelli salad with carrot and cucumber, very refreshing. The serving size, aside from the entrées, are quite big here so unless you are starving, I suggest pacing yourself when ordering, I've learned it the hard way.

I always like to try different dishes on return visits, but I've found myself ordering sashimi and agedashi tofu every single time without fail. The sashimi here is superbly fresh, and the lightly battered, deep fried silken tofu is just delicious. 

The new dish this time is the Sashimi Salad, a very healthy dish I may add. Fresh salmon, tuna and king fish sashimi sat atop a mountain of cabbage, carrots and seaweed, you'll also find slices of cucumber in the mix, whole cherry tomatoes and a side of mayo rounded up the giant sized dish.

Whether you are after tempura, udon, teriyaki or like myself, fresh sashimi, Sushi Suma will cater for it and all at a reasonable price. 

Sushi Suma: 425 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010  Sushi Suma on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Bucket List

Overlooking the world famous Bondi Beach, The Bucket List, a pop-up bar from Sejuiced juice bar founder Andy Ruwal seems to fit comfortably into the scenery around it. 

The outdoor area is very relaxed; milk crates and stacked wooden pallets are used as chairs and tables along side the usual wooden benches and tables, while the colourful French style deck chairs added a hint of beachside resort feel to the whole place. 

The space inside is open and light; wooden, metal and coloured buckets, some with plants, hang from a ladder that hovers over a massive communal table. There is also a more formal dinning area looking out to the sea if the occasion calls for it.

The food, created by chef Tom Walton (ex Bistro Moncur), errs somewhat on the expensive side for the serving size, however, the freshness and quality of the ingredients made up for it. The drink list offers wine, beer and cocktails, but is limited to a handful of each.

With a bottle of Domain Barossa Ruth Miller Riseling we settled on the deck chairs outside, and our dishes were served up before long. The Crisp zucchini flowers with goat's curd, mint and harissa mayo was absolutely delicious, the lightly battered zucchini flowers were crisped to perfection and well complimented by the mayo; the bucket of crisp battered fish with chips, pickles & tartare (our serving was missing the pickles), which is deemed as their signature dish, was fresh but I failed to see its attraction aside from the fact that it came in a cute red bucket.

Still feeling peckish after the two dishes we decided to order two more. Bucket List's marinated & grilled chicken ribs was a miss, the meat was a bit dry and would have been better if it was served with some dipping sauce. The Moorish Saltbush lamb skewers with aioli was quite good, the lamb was very tender.

Given its relaxed vibe, and the fun factor that you can order a bucket of chips and a bucket of beer at the same time, this pop-up bar is a great summer hangout down the beach. And if they ever start offering buckets of cocktails I'd be back there in a jiffy!

The Bucket List: Shop 01,  Bondi Pavilion, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Bondi Beach, NSW 2026  The Bucket List on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Neild Avenue (CLOSED)

Rushcutters Bay is not an area known for cafes and restaurants, but Neild Avenue has found its footing there and is fast becoming the hottest new eatery in town. 

What used to be an old tyre factory has been given a new lease of life. Canvases adore the unfinished wood frames; a lounge area at the front has been set out to cater for pre-dinner drinks; while a long bar runs down one side of the restaurant, an open kitchen at the rear looks over the sectioned dinning areas. The simplicity is also carried over to the menu, a thick stack of A4 paper stabled together in one corner. Even though this is the third Sydney restaurant from Maurice Terzini and chef Robert Marchetti, it looks nothing like their other venues, Icebergs Dinning Room and North Bondi Italian Food. 

The wine list here seems to be never ending and can be a bit intimidating for someone like me (I'm still learning to appreciate wine), so I was more than happy to leave the selection to my dinning companion. What I did notice is the wine are all sourced locally, with the majority from wineries in NSW. Our bottle of Ross Hill Sauvignon Blanc went down so easily we had to order a second bottle when our mains were served.

Charred wholemeal flatbread
The food is modern Mediterranean, think Lebanon, Greece, Morocco and Turkey. The complimentary charred wholemeal flatbread was surprisingly delicious with its smokey taste, not something I'd normal order of my own accord. I picked Marchetti's prosciutto as one of our shared starters, the table next to us envied it so much they ordered one as well. The marinated Roman style lamb chops rounded up our starters, they were served with the whole rib attached, I was very tempted to eat it with both of my hands. For main, we went for the kebabs from the coal spit,  I had the minced veal, lamb and parsley while my dinning companion got the chilli one. Each kebab came served on flatbread and accompanied by yoghurt, cracked wheat and red pepper paste, sumac onion salad and grilled chilli. An excellent combination of flavours.

When it came to time for dessert, given the amount of food we just consumed, we decided to order just one and share it. The Rum Baba came with its own bottle of rum, so you can pour as little or as much of it over the cake as you want. Our waitress suggested that we may want to pour a little bit at first, then pour more as we go as the cake absorbs the rum very fast and to keep it moist it's best to add the rum as you go.  

It's not often that I have a three hour lunch, but with its high ceiling, exposed beams and unstained wood frames and great service, Neild Avenue proved to be one of the places that I can easily get lost in the food, wine and conversation. I'm keen to head back to try their spit-roasted duck, which is only served during dinner. One thing to keep in mind when you venture over their way, reservations are only accepted for Friday lunch, all other times it's first come first served, so make sure you get there early or be prepared to wait.

Neild Avenue: 10 Neild Avenue, Rushcutters Bay, NSW 2011  Neild Avenue on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bucklers Canteen

Bondi Beach would always have a special place in my heart, not because it's a world famous beach but because it's where I hung out with all my friends in my teenage years. There are a lot of fond memories on the sand, in the park and along Campbell Parade. 

Earlier this week, after spending the afternoon down the beach with friends soaking up some sun, we found our way to Bucklers Canteen, the latest watering hole in Bondi.

Occupying the space that used to be Hog's Breath Cafe, Bucklers Canteen is a nautical themed clubhouse with a model ship behind the bar, pirate skulls n bones and admiral paintings and flags on the walls. One of the corners is filled with pinball machines, arcade games and a pool table to keep you entertained; if you are feeling competitive, there is also a ping pong comp on Tuesday nights. 

The place was about half full when we arrived, the jukebox pumped out some catchy tunes while we settled around one of the many large communal tables. The menu came on a clipboard, offering tacos & burgers, salads, plates to share, a few sides dishes and desserts. There is also a cocktail and wine list should you fancy something other than beer or the usual spirits mixes. 

There were orders for the Vege Hippy Tacos (papaya relish, lime, sour cream in a soft taco) and Angus Beef Burger (with caramelised shallots, gorgonzola & caesar dressing), while two of us went for the Bucklers World Famous B.L.A.T (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato) and I asked for a serving of the Marinated Olives from the bar snacks listed on the blackboard. 

B.L.A.T. (front), Grapefruit Julep & olives (back)
The opinions on the food were mostly positive. The taco was good but not quite filling, so if you are hungry, the burgers might be the way to go. The burgers and B.L.A.T. are served pretty plain sauce-wise, but there are plenty sauces (HP, tabasco, tomato, etc) available on the table, that you can add to your heart's desire. 

I ordered a Grapefruit Julep from the bar but felt it missed the mark, perhaps I'm becoming somewhat of a cocktail snob? But the Marinated Olives (olive oil, orange grind and rosemary) were excellent.

What I like about this place is the atmosphere, it's very relaxed, not overly busy and has a friendly crowd. The outdoor seating area would be perfect for a warm evening to have a drink and watch the world go by. There is also free wifi, surfboard racks, bicycle stands and drinking bowls for your four legged friends; with such facilities surely there is no excuse for you not to drop by to chill by yourself or with friends and have a drink or two?

I'm definitely keen to head back for their "Hung Sundays" where you can have a Bloody Maria Brekkie with your choice of B.L.A.T or Wild Mushroom Crepes or Poached Market Eggs with the works  plus a Wreck Bloody Mary and free coffee.

Bucklers Canteen: Cnr Campbell Pde & Beach Road, Bondi Beach, NSW 2026  Bucklers Canteen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 7, 2012


What began as a small local festival in Balmain High School, Flickerfest is now in its 21st year and has been recognised as a qualifying festival for the Best Short Film and Best Animation categories of the Academy Awards since 2003.

On its Opening Night last night at Bondi Pavilion, Bronwyn Kidd, the festival director announced that Flickerfest is now also recognised by BAFTA, and there were over 2200 entries from around the globe this year, of which over 100 will be officially screened.

My favourites from the Opening Night Highlights are The Absent-minded Waiter (1976), Fish & Chips (2011) and Bear (2011). It may look like I'm biased because two out of the three were Australian short films, but both had such cleverly written scripts and certainly got plenty of laughs from the audience.  

From the programme:

USA/7 min/Video/1976
DIR: Carl Gottlieb
STARRING: Steve Martin, Buck Henry & Terri Garr
Bernie Cates requests the services of the most absent-minded waiter he's ever seen, who pours water before setting the glasses, endlessly repeats questions, brings wrong orders, and ruins everything- but the bill.

Australia/15 min/Video/2011
WRI/DIR: Anna Broinowski
PROD: Steve Kearney & Leanne Tonkes
When 10 year old Pauline Hanson goes on Chef of the Universe to cook against culinary geniuses Barry, Kim and Vlad, she breaks the rules – and turns the whole world upside down.
World Premiere

Australia/11 min/35MM/2011
WRI: Nash Edgerton & David Michôd
DIR: Nash Edgerton
PROD: Lauren Edwards & John Polson
Jack means well, but sometimes good intentions have horrible consequences.

So if you are heading down to Bondi this summer, make sure you drop by Bondi Pavilion and check out the 20 different short film programmes which will be screened during the ten-day festival season.

For those who cannot make it to Bondi, don't fret because the festival may be coming to a place near you, all you have to do is check out its national tour dates.

Bondi Pavilion: Queen Elizabeth Drive, Bondi Beach, NSW 2026