Friday, 6 April 2012


Shop 3 
76 Ultimo Rd, 
Chinatown, NSW 2000 

Hello, and welcome! It has been a while I know, more than 6 months in fact. Apologies it has taken me a while to get back on track, but thank you for being patient! 

Before we commence, let me say there is more than one Kura around. 3 in fact. The original, another one in Chinatown and also one in Pyrmont. For the purposes to keep things simple I am referring ONLY to the original one at Chinatown.

Now, I know what I am about to say is a big call... however, and keep in mind I have tried most Japanese restaurants in Sydney (I think) from the city to crows nest and gone to Japan and back too... Kura still, hands down serves the best, most juicy, moist and crispy fried Japanese chicken you will try... anywhere and at a great price in lighting time too.

I must say apart from the chicken there are many reasons why I like this place. Firstly, it reminds me of restaurants in Japan, small, quaint, fast and efficient. Get in, order, pay, eat, and get out. The establishment only holds about 15 people maximum at anyone time too and there are about 6 - 7 people running the place so it gives you an idea of how quickly and specialises each persons roles are. Very Japanese indeed. 

So if you are catching up with a friend after a long absence or want to watch the sunset over Chinatown, this is probably not the place to be. However, if you are in a hurry, you will find no faster, I promise.

Upon arrival, you are greeted, seated and given the menu (This takes about 10 seconds). After you order, depending on what you order, your miso soup comes out ( this happens about another 10 seconds after you order), and within 60 - 120 seconds you have your meal. That is almost quicker than maccas, and it is by no means at all fast food.    

Now if you do need some more time, they have done so well they took over the empty restaurant next door and have a full sit down restaurant upstairs, which serves all the good stuff downstairs but with comfy chairs, modern decor and there is Asahi on tap as well as sake, so you can talk, chat and dialogue it out into the night.They also space out the delivery of the food too so you don't feel too rushed. 

As for the food itself, did I mention the chicken? If you can find a better deep fried chicken in Sydney please let me know. I have tried so many karage's from Japan to Sydney and yet this is still the one that always brings me back time and time again. For less than $10, you get a miso soup to star, followed by a long rectangular box filled with numerous pieces of the succulent, juicy, tender morsels served on top of a bed of Japanese coleslaw (with dressing), a piece of orange and white fully rice. You get the option also for either sweet chilli sauce or mayo. Please go the mayo, it adds and really finishes the chicken off. The menu also has enough variety for most tastebuds, from donburi's through to udon, tempura, katsudons  to sushi / sashimi and even takoyaki, and japanese red bean cake for desert if you fancy.

Overall, this place is my "go-to" in Sydney, and now with the new section up-stairs I can even take my friends for a long chat, a cool beer, and great food. For now however, I am running out of time, and only have about 10 bucks in the pocket... but I know just the place to go...  

Bottom line:
The most expensive item is sub $15 but for two you can expect plenty change from $50 including drinks. 

Score: 8 / 10

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


78 Booth St
NSW 2038

0433 258 252

Category: Cheapo!! ($0 - $50)

Back to the roots we go I say… No fancy ingredients, nothing sinister, no gastronomy, no website, not even facebook…  Plain and simple, the way it should be. Not even a phone number but a mobile for the chef Aaron is really the only way you can contact them. 

Upon first inspection, this place is made purely for the locals. It is not really accessible apart from car, and is quite far away from ‘happening’ part of town or public transport for that matter. Surrounded purely by residential blocks one would think they purposefully wanted to avoid people. None the less, nestled in the heart of Annandale is Clover. 

I am not actually sure how I would describe this place, it is simple yet cosy, crowded yet spacious… the long benches mean communal style dining however there are break-away tables both square and round, and the mis-matching pieces of furniture give it a homely feel whilst the consistent humming and aromas created by the coffee machine helps remind one that you are still in a café. Despite the waiters / waitresses dressed more like they are heading down to the shops (when one approached me I seriously thought it was another customer asking a question), hats indoors, hair all over the place, skinny blue jeans, non slip protective shoes and a minimal menu on a laminated A4 sheet… the coffee is excellent, and better still the food is excellent; with breakfast in particular, to die for. For Clover it is all about sustainability. They deal direct with the farmers so it comes straight from the source and a small menu also means they can reduce waste easier.

The most refreshing part about it is that the menu itself is quite… well different. Aside from the big breakfast (and even this has its own twist), everything else on the menu is not what you would find on a ‘standard issue’ café menu. The shining beacon, the star, the talisman however is the baked eggs; coming in 2 forms, chorizo from The Rodriguez Bros. or there is a vegetarian option which changes with the seasons. Basically, it is potato, beans, chorizo, eggs, herbs, paprika, and a rich tomato sauce infused with a hint of chilli and placed into a Spanish style pot served with crusty bread is quite simply… heavenly… The flavours hit your mouth, dance and my senses came alive… Whether you need a hangover cure from the night before, are looking for a filling and hearty breakky or you just want something a little different… this is it! (in the words of Michael Jackson himself)

Other dishes include a Clover style French toast, with real maple syrup and poached eggs with Prosciutto and Mum's Tomato Relish and Aged Parmesan, or with Basil and Macadamia Pesto and Pecorino help add variety and spark to what would be a ‘normal’ menu.

For those who are more basic, there is toast, muesli etc, but seriously, you must try those eggs… and whilst the service is not to die for I like the place overall. Locals come streaming in and out, dogs and all, and several drive by just to order take away coffee, and we sat and ate it seemed everyone knew everyone with all stopping to say hi and exchange pleasantries on route to commencing their Sunday morning. This place has definitely established itself as an institution, with the locals and visiting outsiders alike. They also do a very simple but enticing lunch menu, which is extremely reasonably priced so head on down if you find yourself over sleeping in the morning!

Overall it’s a winner. Good coffee, nice atmosphere, great food, innovative and different, and with a touch of home I have nothing left to say but that I am looking forward to my next trip to the local café…

Bottom line:
You will get plenty change from a $50, but 2 baked eggs, toast and a couple of coffees set us back a mere $35. 

Food                                       7.5/10
Service                                   1.5/3  
Décor                                     1.5/3 (It’s nice for what it is… but really…)  
Cleanliness                           2/2
BONUS                                   1.5/2 (Go those baked eggs)

Total                                       14/20

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


529 Kent Street

Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9267 2900

Category: Rockstar! ($200+)

So here we are… the best of the best The Crème de la crème, the piece de resistance, the pinnacle… of food. Or it is?

It was, it has been… but since September 7, 2010 Tetsuya lost one of his coveted hats. 3 became 2 and now, instead of being in his own company at the top, he finds himself in the same class as the likes of Aria, Becasse and co. whilst Quay, Marquee and .Est take out the podium spots.

Perhaps Mr. Wakuda was too engaged with his new Singapore based venture that he has lost time, effort and perhaps his love for his Sydney flagship. Perhaps he feels he has won enough, proven his worth and does not need to push further. Maybe he is happy to take a step back from the Sydney market?  

Some however say that he has not taken a step back, if anything, he has not taken a step at all. Tetsuya’s has remained at the same high consistent standard for years, and apparently that has been its downfall. The world around has changed, the way restaurants prepare, source and grow food is totally different, and it seems Tetsuya has not changed with it.

With this is mind, it seems to not have fazed the Japanese genius. The menu has continued along the same vein, as has the dishes and the prices have actually gone up?

The restaurant itself is impressive; you can get valet parking for $20 (I advise against this, and will explain later) and it is secluded and tucked away in the bustling heart of the CBD. As with all fine dining restaurants you are greeted by a welcoming party who will happily take your coat, jackets, anything to really make you feel comfortable. Think of it as flying business class but in a restaurant in this aspect.

The décor is divided, again into separate rooms with tables in each. Most have a view of the Zen garden which at night is lit up, and if you have never been to Japan, once would find it quite interesting and peaceful. There is an upstairs dining area for more seating which looks down into the garden also.    

The service as you would expect is brilliant, the staff knowledgeable and all more than happy and willing to assist and help wherever possible. They run through the 10 courses in detail, and you get preferences should you have dietary requirements, or if there is something in particular you are not a fan of they will make adjustments (I like this). Given the menu changes relatively consistently, it probably would make little sense me going through each.

However the signature ocean trout was not that amazing. Maybe it has lost its gloss over the years. Don’t get me wrong, it was very very good but, not outstandingly amazing and not something I will never forget. As far as degustation menu’s go, I will happily say every dish was to a very high standard. The Wagyu was good and well cooked, Ox Tongue was fine, the entree of Kingfish was also pleasant but lacked real star quality, I think this is the differentiation the new age restaurants are making. Whilst their food is becoming gastromonical marvels, pushing culinary limits, Tetsuya has stayed true to the origins of cooking.  

Whereas most degustation menu’s have hit-and-miss items, all of Tetsuya’s were at a very high quality. I don’t think there were any particular stand-outs that had me craving more, and if anything, the complementary salted ricotta and truffle spread that went with the bread at the very start was the most memorable part of the meal…

Let’s face it. For the vast majority of us, this is one of those places you will probably only ever come to once. Tick the box type stuff. Get the experience, and then tell your friends and family that you have ‘done it.’ Furthermore, I would strongly suggest you not try to break it down by cost because at $210 per head and then matching wines on top, no one should, or be able to justify spending that much for 1 meal. Take this place as an experience. Treat your partner, girlfriend, wife as a once off and it is ok.

Remember how I mentioned not to take the valet parking, there is actually nothing wrong with it, but if you get the matching wines at $95 (which I recommend you do) I assure you will not be able to drive home.  It is a shame it is no longer a 3 hatter. I definitely place it higher than Iceberg's, Sepia and Becasse, however perhaps the critics are right that it is not worthy of the highest accolade. Is there a 2.5 hat category?

Overall, is it worth it? No. But then again, no meal is worth $300+ however it was definitely an experience, and one that I encourage you all to try at some point. For me personally, that’s one off the bucket list!  

Bottom line:
$210 per head for 10 courses, then $95 for matching wines. They normally have specials as well such as oysters to start, so you won’t be leaving here without forking out about $650 for 2.

Food                                       7/10
Service                                   3/3 (The guys and girls know their stuff) 
Décor                                     2/3
Cleanliness                           2/2
BONUS                                   1/2

Total                                       15/20

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Red Lantern

545 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02)9698 4355

Category: Just got paid ($50 - $100)

Before we commence on this one, I have a few things regarding restaurants in general.
Rule no.1 - Cleanliness.
Rule no.2 - Cleanliness.
Rule no.3 - Cleanliness…

I really can’t stress it enough can I? The fact that there was a rather large cockroach crawling up the wall about 10 centimetres away from me towards the end of our meal really was not a good way to finish an already rather dull evening. I understand it was an open restaurant and these things happen, but at this level it is really unacceptable.  

Let’s wind back first however, to before this gruelling event occurred. Welcome! to the famed Red Lantern and none other than our resident go-to Vietnamese chef-cum-celebrity Luke Nguyen and his famous Surry Hills establishment.

Personally, upon arrival, I had high hopes. The location is prime, and the way the restaurant is set out is great; a house conversion does give it that rather homely feel and you can see what Luke is trying to achieve. The use to wood and placing photos, pictures, embellishments all throughout the restaurant makes one feel like they have entered a friends/family dwelling as oppose to a restaurant. Vietnamese food after all and Asian dining in general is all about togetherness. Sitting at a table together with friends and family at home; the idea itself is very clever and one I also find very appealing on first look.  

However, despite his growing status as a celebrity, with DVDs, books etc. (The original Secrets of the Red Lantern book is very good) he should probably stop travelling the world, helping out on MasterChef but instead pack his bags, and return to his restaurant… because it needs help, lots of it.

The staff are very friendly and extremely knowledgeable (which I like), and the menu is simple (which I also like). I see potential if they do this properly and am excited somewhat. We opt for the tasting menu which guarantees us a selection of the best Red Lantern has to offer ($60 per head).

We begin with 4 starters, a chicken and jellyfish salad which is ok (only just ok), Vietnamese rolls which really lack flavour in my opinion, the calamari where the batter was too thick, and a prawn salad which again seems to lack punch. The flavours do not hit me like I am expecting them too and it all seems a little bland and un-engaging for my liking. I do not get the distinct hits of chilli, lime, fish sauce, and mint like I was hoping for, and perhaps I was looking too much for that ‘Vietnam’ experience however I am not getting it thus far. Things were starting to go down hill.  

Bring on the mains, and I am probably more disappointed now than I was with entrées (sigh). 5 more dishes arrive; the pork shoulder stew looks and tastes like something out of a Chinese restaurant (the take away place I go for lunch down the stairs in a food court tastes better). The stewed Wagyu beef again tastes very Chinese rather than Vietnamese, and the texture was not there from the beef to suggest it was a better cut of cow. A serving of green vegetables are provided but very boring and lacked inspiration, flavour and care, and the fish curry was also far from what I would describe as fresh. The duck was probably the only highlight of the 5 dishes provided, however I would call it the best from a bad bunch rather than an actual good dish.

Maybe I am spoilt? Growing up in a family who was very true to real home style cooking, expressing all the flavours that our local cuisine has to offer, and now being married to a Malaysian whose parents and relatives also have show stoppers of their own when it comes to food.

Combine the average food, couple this with the cockroach, and add the $240 bill (for 4 ppl) and I can only say it is not somewhere I will return, nor probably recommend. If you are looking for a proper Vietnamese feed I would still say head to Cabramatta/Canley Vale. It’s cheap, tasty, the food is loaded with flavour, and you can really feel the culture of the place. It’s probably cleaner too.

Overall, I was really looking forward to this place; it had all the hallmarks to be an excellent restaurant. However despite all the seemingly right elements it failed where it mattered, and dissapointingly at the most basic of principles; good food.
Bottom line:
With a group of 4 you can go for the banquet which provides a sampler and you won’t go hungry at $60 per head. Otherwise for 2 you should find change from $100 including drinks.

Food                                       5/10
Service                                   3/3 (One of the I would have to say)
Décor                                     2.5/3 (The idea and delivery was very good)
Cleanliness                           0/2
BONUS                                   0/2

Total                                       10.5/20

Friday, 5 August 2011


Shop 20 World Square Shopping Centre
644 George Street

Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9283 9686

Category: Cheapo ($0 - $50)

Welcome to Masuya’s 4th installment of its Japanese assault on Sydney. Needless to say it has already built an already enviable empire with its 'holy trinity' of Masuya, Musashi and Makoto. With simple diverse style Japanese, Sushi Bar, and up-market Japanese cuisine covered, owner Ken Sadamatsu enters the world of Teishoku style dining. Basically, this type of cuisine involves a main, rice, miso soup and some additional side dishes all rolled into one order.

Personally, I am not that big a fan of this particular style food. It is a little minimalistic for me, the main dish is never really a main dish (I think it is a little small), your side dishes are tiny and unlike Korean restaurants, there are no free top ups. Your dessert can also be finished in about one mouthful. Not exactly my idea of a 'meal'.

However, it seems to be popular enough so we decide to give it a wiz. The philosophy behind the restaurant is about organic produce, along with healthy and nutritious eating; which I find slightly ironic considering its number one best seller is the deep fried Tonkatsu pork.

None the less, the décor is simple and easy on the eyes. Light greens, pine-coloured woods and white give the place a sense of lightness, which is what I assume they are going for given they are pushing the whole 'healthy image'. The drinks menu further reflects their pursuit of striving towards healthy drinking, with some more ‘greener’ options… literally. I won’t spoil the surprises so be sure to check it out.

On to the main menu… well, there are really not that many options. When you order one thing, you generally order your meal. It is not like a fine dining restaurant where there are only 12 options all up, however this is not the classic large scale menu that we expect to see from Ken's previous endeavours. There is not much sharing either, given each dish is really tailored for one, again a stark contrast to the other three establishments.  

To the actual food however, the highly recommended pork tonkatsu is actually not too bad. I personally would have liked mine a little crispier, lighter and with a little more colour (it was more a light brown as oppose to golden) but they cut generous chunky pieces that make you feel like you are really getting a good bit of meat each time you chomp into the juicy, and well cooked succulent pork.

The support acts however lack effort, punch and real taste. One of mine were three pieces of steamed pumpkin, it wasn't even seasoned! The minature coleslaw was ok however it all seemed a little dull and boring to me. The miso soup is fine, clean, refined and thankfully does not taste of MSG, and surprisingly the little dessert provided was actually quite special. Looking more like yoghurt, you get a nice surprise when the smooth, creamy texture hits the tongue. It’s like an ice-cream but not as cold, think a thick soy yoghurt but creamier and smoother.  

Overall I think this type of cuisine has its appeal. You get everything in one order; rice, main dish, soup, some side dishes and a dessert... who could ask for more? If you are feeling peckish, or do not want anyone picking at your food, this is not a bad place to go.

For me, I would go to a Korean restaurant, order a main, rice and get unlimited side dishes instead, and I personally see this type of cuisine more as an up-market version of your standard Korean restaurant. The servings are smaller, the side dishes are not as good but the quality in the main dish is definitely there. On top of this, it is very clean, the service is good not great, and like all of the Masuya groups creations, is already a success.

I thoroughly believe Musashi is still bar far its best dining experience and restaurant, however considering Sydney has little in the way of Teishoku style eating this is not a bad attempt. Would I return… actually… yes, I would.  
Bottom line:
$25 per head should cover most things on the menu, and unless you are really hungry you won’t need to order additional side.  

Food                                       6/10
Cleanliness                           2/2
Value                                      2/3
BONUS                                   1.5/2 (The drinks, dessert and overall concept of Teishoku style food is good)

NB. I have taken out service & décor as a score for the 'Cheapo' category as the 2 are not relevant, nor to me dramatically important as it is all about value(hence it has been added), and quality and less about the overall dining experience. So effectively it scores 12/17, however for consistency I have re - calculated to reflect a score out of 20
Total                                       13.5/20

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

El Jannah

4 - 8 South Street
Granville NSW 2142
(02) 9637 0977

Category: Cheapo ($0 - $50)

Ahhh yes, the famed Lebanese chicken place… At last, we are here. I am always scared to try these places. They are hyped up and talked about so much, and sometimes with this comes expectation, and with expectation normally comes failure, especially if you don’t deliver. Besides, it’s just charcoal chicken, not even organic, or corn fed or anything like that… surely it can’t be that good, right? Well… I am so happy to say wrong!

This place delivers in spades… well and truly, ever since 1998 Andre Estephan and his wife Carole have been dishing out succulent, juicy chooks, and despite some hiccups along the way (most notably a fire that shut the restaurant for a period of time, they have expanded not only the shop but also opened up a new restaurant in Punchbowl.

So let’s start with décor. Quite simply, it’s average, there is nothing to write home about, and frankly, I think that is the way they intended it. The menu is also very simple and the thing I really like about it is that face that there are not that many options! 

It really is all about the chicken, oh and there is just one more thing… the garlic sauce. If the Green Tea Crème Brulee from Musashi was revolutionary then this was mind blowing. Put politely, I think, it is f*cking amazing. Now, I have been informed by my native Lebanese friends that the recipe used at El Jannah is not exactly the traditional recipe of purely garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil which is then blended until it forms fluffy white peaks, and that they add cream, and also potentially potato, but even they agree, it is very good.

I still haven’t spoken about the chicken though. It is butterflied first before being placed on the hot charcoal, and despite being quite salty on its own, with some bread, and that garlic sauce, it is perfect. Unlike most other chickens you buy where parts of the chicken are tough and stringy and chewy, on all the occasions I have had it here, it has been juicy and succulent right the way through. From the breast piece (which normally I don’t like to eat) through to the thigh, wings and drumstick.

The chips are a great accompaniment to the meal (they drown the stuff in chicken salt which makes it taste so much better despite them being just regular store bought chips) and use the garlic sauce in place of the tomato and it is truly the stuff of legends. Other sides include Hommous (which is very good too), Baba Ganoush, and Tabouli. If you are looking for something simpler they have some great wraps for around $7.50 which will also ensure you don’t go home hungry.   

For $19.90 eat in, you get a whole chicken, that amazing sauce, pickles and bread (It is a steal!). Tack on chips, and 2 drinks and you will still get change from $30. Good luck getting a seat any night of the week however especially towards the back end and on weekends. They have also recently expanded and begun cooking shish kebabs and you can now buy mixed plates etc. For me however, this place will always be about the chicken and that garlic sauce.

Overall, it is not particularly healthy or amazing food on paper. The chicken is not grain fed, or Lilydale or free range, the chips are not hand cut, nor is the bread made on site but really… do I care about all this? No I don’t, not in the slightest… The chicken is excellent, and that sauce to die for. In this day and age, for $30 you will be hard pressed to find a more satisfying feed for 2 (You will probably have some left over for the day after too). I still remember taking my wife here for the first time, and like me, she was saying ‘come on, it’s just chicken, it can’t be that good…’ How wrong she and I were, for this is… that good.

Bottom line:
$30 (eat in) will ensure 2 people are satisfied. I recommend finding 2 more friends however and ordering up 2 chooks, hommous, tabouli, and fries to share, add drinks and it will be well less than $20 a head.  What a steal!  

Food                                       7.5/10
Cleanliness                           2/2
Value                                      3/3
BONUS                                   1.5/2 (That garlic sauce is amazing…)

NB. I have taken out service & decor as a score for the 'Cheapo' category as the 2 are not relevant, nor to me dramatically important as it is all about value (hence it has been added), and quality and less about the overall dining experience. So effectively it scores 14/17, however for consistency I have re-calcuated to reflect a score out of 20
Total                                       16.5/20

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


447 Pitt St
Cnr. Pitt & Campbell St
Sydney, 2000
(02) 9280 0377

Category: Just got paid ($50 - $100)

This is one of those places, that, well… I never get tired or sick of. I can also proudly say it is probably one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in Sydney in its class (next time I will tell you about my other favourite). Bold statement I know, with establishments including the likes of Toko, Musa, Azuma, Café Ish, Yoshii’s, Sushi E etc, but for a usual and frequent place to eat, I believe it is hard to top.

Let’s face it, not everyone can afford Azuma, Yoshii’s, Toko, Sushi E on a regular basis (I definitely can’t), so whilst I agree that some of the already mentioned have better quality food, it definitely comes with the prices to match. So for a regular dining spot, this I feel, is the pinnacle of great Japanese food, and I have my reasons.    

The décor is clean cut, spacious and bright. Seating can be at the bar, there are some outside tables and if you can, try to get the corner lounge (this is the best seat in the house). They don’t take bookings either after 5:30 so get there early otherwise you will need to wait, regardless of the day! The service is sharp, quick and effective. Sometimes the staff could be a little friendlier but overall it is very polite and clinically clean. Like a very well oiled machine everything falls into place, and the food is also excellent. Best of all, it is always consistently strong.

I recommend coming here with at least 3 others, just to ensure you can get the sashimi platter which is fresh, scrumptious and there is a rather large menu so whilst coming for a romantic meal is nice, grab some friends and start sharing.

The mains are a little pricy, and I would probably skip a few menu items, especially mains, the lamb cutlets are good as are the fish and wagyu beef, but for a similar price you can get better elsewhere.  It is the sashimi, sushi, and entrees that make this place. The takoyaki with cheese reigns supreme as does most of the light starter dishes. The ox tail is fabulous, as is the agedashi tofu. The tonkatsu pork or chicken is one of the crunchiest and crispiest you will ever try and look out for the specials too!

To be honest, depending on what you are wearing, you can get away for well less than $50 for 2. There Udon’s are large and generous, with the seafood one probably your best bet at $16.80. The drinks menu is innovative, and anyone who fancies some colour will not be disappointed with the options available.

My personal favourite about this place however is the dessert. Green tea crème brulee. I remember the first time I had it, it was like heaven. To those who are not that keen on green tea there are various other items like the standard green tea and black sesame ice-creams.

Overall, I really like this place. Great food, good service, a diverse menu that can really suit all occasions, whether you want a more romantic date and splurge out on fresh seafood, grab a meal with friends and share, or grab a quick bite before you dash off, it can suit them all. Now despite not being the flagship of the Masuya Group I actually prefer it to Masuya, with it’s higher ceilings, and more open style kitchen where you can see the chefs in action.

Bottom line:
Depending on what you want to do, you can keep this well under $50 but if you do decide to go hard on the seafood, $60 - $70 will ensure you are both walking home one size bigger on the waist.  

Food                                       7/10
Service                                   2/3
Décor                                     2/3
Cleanliness                           2/2
BONUS                                   1.5/2 (That green tea crème brulee was revolutionary)

Total                                       14.5/20

Friday, 8 July 2011

Sea Bay Handmade Noodle Restaurant

Shop 5, 100 Church St
Parramatta, 2150
(02) 9633 1173
Category: Cheapo ($0 - $50)

With establishments such as the above, it is all about the food. So whilst the final score may seem low please do focus on the score which the food attains.
Sea Bay is actually already a very popular brand by most inner-west folk. With its flagship nestled on Burwood Rd they have decided to expand and as they say… go West.
The Parramatta restaurant itself is not really that inspiring however. Anchored towards the more quiet side of Church Street (heading towards all the car yards) the shabby sign out the front and pictures of the food with written price tags does not really make this a romantic spot, nor a place to be seen. Parking is ok, with a car park next door, otherwise it does make it quite difficult to access.  
That is just the outside too; the inside does not get any better. Poor décor, ok lighting, shabby menus with white labels over certain products with new hand drawn prices and vinegar and soy sauce in tomato sauce squeezers on the table. Despite all this however, I like places like this. There is something about shabby menus, bad décor, the waitress dressed like she is going to uni (jeans, and coloured tee with a cap) and a generally poor outlook. Maybe it is the fact that given all these things are not quite right, one thing must be… the food!  
Let’s start with the service though. It is… well, it is service. I must say, if you don’t speak Chinese you will need to point and I would not really ask for special requests, however it is quick and it is efficient. it does not exactly come with a smile however the wait staff are informative enough. We order 3 different bowls of noodles; their recommended beef with noodles, my wife opts for the noodles with dumplings, and I go for a classic noodle with spicy beef and cucumber stir through. We round things off with dumpling (xiao long bao). You get served loose leaf tea which is actually a lot better than most yum cha establishments I have been to I must say (I was pleasantly surprised).
Now the food… firstly, for those of you who have never tried handmade noodles, I suggest you try some bought packet stuff and have it the night before or even a couple of days just so you remember the texture etc, because you are in for a treat. All their thick, bouncy, thick white strands are made on site. Bashed, slapped, smacked around before being stretched into long strands of heaven. Our 3 noodles arrive, and at around $10 - $12 a bowl, they could easily feed 2 people for the 1 bowl. Seriously… they are huge servings, and it tastes fabulous. The way it enters the mouth is different, the way it chews, separates, and dances in the mouth is an experience you should all try.
The dumplings are good and great value, juicy and you get 10 for your troubles, however they are not as near as classy as those you would find in Din Tai Fung. The lamb skewers are also worth a go too for those carnivores however this place is all about the noodles. There should be enough variety to keep everyone satisfied including vegetarians.
Overall, I really like this place. Simple, honest, cheap food. Also amazing if you are looking for a really big feed that is a little more on the healthy side.  This is my local hang out for a quick meal.

Bottom line:
To be honest, unless you do eat a lot, 1 bowl can be shared between 2 and you can then order something small on the side. Max $30 for 2 however if you are small eaters can get away with probably $20, and that is a steal!

Food                                       7.5/10
Value                                      3/3
Cleanliness                            1/2
BONUS                                   1/2
NB. I have taken out service & decor as a score for the 'Cheapo' category as the 2 are not relevant, nor to me dramatically important as it is all about value (hence it has been added), and quality and less about the overall dining experience. So effectively it scores 12.5/17, however for consistency I have re-calcuated to reflect a score out of 20

Total                                       14.5/20