Star Buffet, Seven Hills

 

www.starbuffet.com.au

Ratings
Food: 6.5/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Service: 5/10
Value: 8.5/10

Average Price
Lunch: Mon-Sat: $14.50, Sun: $21
Dinner: Sun-Thur: $21, Fri-Sat: $23.50
Special: Discount for member/senior/Children
Degustation: N/A
Corkage: No BYO, fully licensed
Cakeage: Free

Others
Ease of finding a car park: Easy
Ease of finding the restaurant: Easy
Brightness of restaurant: Bright
Noise Level: Noisy
Waiting time for foods: Buffet style
Booking time require: 3-4 Days
Child friendly/High Chair: Yes

 
Buffet 1
 

Before writing up a post on this restaurant, I need to let all my readers know that I am not the biggest fan of buffet. Firstly, I wouldn’t get my monies worth in buffet as I eat small quantity. Secondly, the quality of food is generally poor. Thirdly, I usually lost appetite when I see so many choices in front of me.

buffet 3

We were here for a post mother’s day celebration dinner with my family and my brother’s in laws. With eleven of us, I suppose buffet would be the best choice to cater for the oldies, young and kids. There were two session with the dinner: 5:30pm – 7:30pm or 7:30pm – 9:30pm, we were in the earlier session so I also get to take handful of pictures of the food before being destroyed by others.

buffet 2

Star Buffet like most of other buffet is located inside a RSL club, it offers great variety of gourmet food ranging from Australian, Asian, European, even a sushi train, roast BBQ duck/pork plus extensive selection of salads and desserts. I must say this is a really sweet value for what you get if you compare to the Casino Star City Garden Buffet.

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My favourite was the BBQ roast duck as it was freshly roasted in house and not those that bought from supplier. It was tender and delicious and they carve it in front of you.

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Make sure you leave room for dessert because I bet you can only sample a few, although the cakes that I tried didn’t have much taste but I only tried a few things. The focal point was definitely the chocolate fountain as it attracts many kids to line up for it. Instead of dipping the ordinary marshmallow I have substitute with fruits instead and I thought it tasted great!!

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Not long after, the chef starts to bring out some nice tiny crème brulee. OMG , anyone who knows me would know that my favourite dessert is crème brulee and I was very impress that they had it here. I took one back to my table and can’t wait to crack the sugar on top. It was very creamy and fresh but the brulee itself was lacking the punch of vanilla bean and taste a bit too eggy.

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I had a really good night and catch up with my family even though I didn’t eat much, but it was equally enjoyable watching my family demolish about 20 plates of foods.

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Conclusion: The variety of food is quite extensive and you are paying for a buffet that offers a lot of different things. Strongly recommend for big eater or families with kids.

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Address:

Corner Best Rd & William St, Seven Hills 
opening hrs: Mon – Sun: 11:30 to 14:00, 17:30 to 22:00 
Ph:+612-9622-9690
Web: www.starbuffet.com.au

Getting There:

Parking: Next to the RSL club 
By train: Seven Hills Station

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Spicy lamb Mince Tagine

 

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I am sure a lot of you have tried the lamb breakfast tagine from Kazbah. Especially there is a branch open in Top Ryde now but I must say $18.50 for a breakfast isn’t cheap. I was so determine to make my own with more and fresher ingredients. I didn’t have a tagines dish at home and didn’t think it was necessary to purposely get one. So all my work was done on a frying pan then transfer to a baking dish for final few minutes to bake off the eggs. Result was yummy and very close to the one in Kazbah when I served it with the Turkish breads.

recipe adapted from Mindfood

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil  
1 brown onion, finely chopped    
1 red capsicum, deseeded, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced    
3 tsp ground cumin   
2 tsp ground coriander 
2 tsp smoky paprika
 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon   
500g lamb mince
 
3 tomatoes, cut into wedges  

2 tbsp lemon juice  
40g baby spinach leaves   
4-5 Swiss brown or button mushrooms   
2-4 eggs 

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 200˚C. Heat oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and capsicum. Cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle cumin, coriander, paprika and cinnamon over mixture. Stir until well combined. Cook for 1 minute or until aromatic.

2) Add mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned. Add tomatoes and lemon juice.  Cook until mince is well browned. Add spinach and 2 tbsp water. Cover and cook for 1 minute or until spinach leaves are just wilted.

3) Spoon mixture into individual tagines or a big baking dish. Form some hole in the mince by using a spoon. Break eggs into the holes of the meats. Cover and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes until eggwhite is just cooked. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4) service with rice or Turkish bread as desire.

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I got most of my herbs from Green Valley Spice

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The lamb mince does not have to be fully cooked as it still needs to go inside oven for extra 10 mins

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You can add more eggs if you want but I was watching for my cholesterol level

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Do not overcook your eggs, Its gotta be runny to be perfect. The best way to test this is to take it out from oven at 5-7 mins slightly move it to see if egg white is still wobbling. It should be just set and the remaining heat will cooks itself.

 

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Sitney Thai Restaurant, Parramatta

www.sitneyrestaurant.com

Ratings
Food: 7.5/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Value: 8/10

Average Price
Entrée: $7 – $15
Main: $15 – $20
Dessert: $7.90
Degustation: N/A
Corkage: $2.5 p/p
Cakeage: Free

Others
Ease of finding a car park: Normal
Ease of finding the restaurant: Easy
Brightness of restaurant: Dark
Noise Level: Noisy
Waiting time for foods: 15 mins – 20 mins
Booking time require: 1-2 Days
Child friendly/High Chair: No

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Sitney 1

Out of all the the south East Asia cuisine, Thai is one of my favourite. The reason being is the fresh ingredients, spicy yet sour, lovely curries and lovely stir frys in Thai food. They don’t use a lot of ingredients but yet the flavours are complicated and delicate.

Thanks to Food morning, I scored two vouchers to dine at Sitney Thai Cuisine in Parramatta. It’s always such a lovely feelings to be having a good dinner with some lovely food bloggers that live in the same area like Mel and Tammi. But I am even more honoured that Sara made it all the way from South to attend the dinner.

There was endless chatting involved so I went straight in to the menu and said “hey let’s order food I am starving!!” A bit embarrassed by my own words but hey what’s the purpose of a food blogger dinner if there is no food right? Hehe

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Duck Herbs – Popular Thai mini dish of finely chopped roast duck tossed with red onion, mint, sliced shallot, roasted rice and chilli-lime dressing served on cos lettuce leaves.

The vouchers entitle us to order four entrees, four mains and four desserts. At first I thought we must have a lot of leftovers but at the end we cleaned all the plates. As part of the condition of the voucher for entrée, two choices out of the four needed to be either curry puffy, spring roll or satay chicken. We opted for the duck herb, spring roll, Satay chicken and golden money bag.

Sitney 2

Tung Tong – crispy fried pastry and fillings of chicken, crunched peanuts, green peas and served with sweet chilli dipping

sitney 3

Springs Roll – Golden crispy vegetarian springs rolls filled with mixed veges and served with plum sauce.

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Kai Satay – Grilled marinated chicken skewers served with toasted peanut sauce and cucumber relish.

We all agreed the duck herb was a very good dish with the presentation similar to that of a San Choy Bow. There were heaps of spice and herbs that have been chopped finely mixed in the duck mince such as red onion, mints, shallot, chilli and garlic. I found the chicken was just cooked as I can still see a tiny little pinkish in the middle but I still enjoy it a lot because the meat used for the skewer is a thigh rather than a breast. It was juicy and succulent. Money bag and Spring rolls were piping hot which nearly burnt my tongue. The pastries wrapped outside were both crispy and flaky. I really enjoyed every entrée on the table.

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Pad Thai with seafood – Stir fry of thin noodle tossed with mix of textures including dry shrimp, diced tofu, bean sprouts, garlic chives, crushed peanuts and sliced red onion.

I’ve eaten a lot of Pad Thai including the authentic one from Thailand. A good Pad Thai should not be overly sweeten and soggy. Sitney Thai’s Pad Thai was certainly not one of those. It was generous in portion and tasty.

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Massamun beef curry – with sweet coconut broth and completed with sprinkle cashew and fried red onion

I choose this curry as a main because the weather on that night was cold and windy, the Massamun beef curries was hearty and chucky. It goes well with the steam rice. It wasn’t overly sweet or heavy, strong taste of herbs like star anise and cinnamon really boosted up my appetite.

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Stir fry chicken with limes leaves and peppercorns sauce

This was the dish I thought that is not spicy, but turns out to be the most spicy. I like the vegetables and the flavours but the let down for me was the chicken meat. It was a bit dry and tough to chew.

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Som Tum – green papaya salad with carrot, tomato, green bean, roasted peanut and dry shrimp drizzled with chilli-lime dressing

I actually learnt making this salad in Thailand when I went to Bangkok last year and joined a cooking class. It is simple yet packed with a lot of flavours. The one I made doesn’t have soft shell crab. But this one here certainly is an icing on the cake. It was crispy and fried to golden brown.

Sitney 4

Coconut milk with sago and rockmelon

For dessert there is only one option so all of us had the same thing. This was a familiar dessert to me because in Chinese dessert we cooked a lot with sagos. The only bit I wasn’t used to is the slight salty taste of the coconut milk. It is similar to mango sticky rice where salt will be put into the sticky rice.

Conclusion: Great food, service, and beautiful decor-dim mood light with a modern funky interior. The menu is extensive and their foods are packed with lots of authentic flavours.

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Address:

277B Church Street, Parramatta
opening hrs: Mon – Fr: 11:00 to 15:00, Sat – Sun: 12:00 to 17:00, Dinner everyday: 17:00 to 22:30
Ph:+612-9633-3226
Web: www.sitneyrestaurant.com

Getting There:

Parking: Church Street or Phillip St
By train: Parramatta Station

Map picture

Sitney Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Ichigo Ichie, Sydney Central St

 

Ratings
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Value: 6/10

Average Price
Entrée: $5 – $16
Main: $20 – $35
Dessert: $8.80
Degustation: N/A
Corkage: No BYO, fully licensed
Cakeage: Free

Others
Ease of finding a car park: Hard
Ease of finding the restaurant: Hard
Brightness of restaurant: Dark
Noise Level: Normal
Waiting time for foods: 15 mins – 20 mins
Booking time require: 1-2 Days
Child friendly/High Chair: Yes

 

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Ichigo Ichie1

One of those weeknights catch up dinner with my girlfriends again. We decided to give the new Japanese izakaya – Ichigo Ichie a try. It is secretly tucked into a laneway on Central Street opposite of George Street cinema. Although it was a chilly Thursday night, the friendly staffs made me felt warm and welcomed.

We took a few minute to enjoy the warm and stylish décor, I especially love their Japanese cherry blossom painting on the wall because it made me feel like I was really in Japan. We took a long time to decide what to order, as we were getting a bit over excited and started to talk louder and louder, I realised the sound of our voice bounces off the wooden ceiling and created some distraction to other customers. The waitress came to us with a big smile and offers her help in recommending some dishes and guidance of how many dishes we needed for two people.

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Medium rare Wagyu beef steak grade 7 (with creamy mashed potato and mixed salad leaves, Served with steak jus). $32.80

The fact that I have such a soft spot for beef, I am not talking about just ordinary beef, but Wagyu beef, so the medium rare Wagyu beef steak was highly on top of our list.

I have eaten a lot of wagyu beef before from different countries; Hong Kong, Japan, Australia but I can say this one in Ichigo Ichie is one of the best that I’ve tasted. It was so juicy and tender that it just melts in the mouth. But if I order this again I would request it to be medium cooked rather than medium rare. It wasn’t bloody but it was a bit too raw to chew. It also came with a small serve of creamy mashed potato, mixed salad and steak jus.

Ichigo Ichie 3

Spider Roll (Tempura soft shell crab, curly lettuce, flying fish roe & avocado), $15.80

The presentation of the spider roll looks good, lots of sauce and colour which combines well. Soft shell crab is nice and crunchy, rice is of the texture of sushi should.

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Green tea ice-cream with Ariette (sesame sweet biscuit, red bean coulis), $8.80

And for those who would like something sweet at the end of their meal, there are two desserts to choose from. Not a lot of option but hard enough for me to pick one out of the two because green tea & black sesame ice-cream are both my favourite. But since I still got a tub of black sesame ice-cream from Serendipity at home so we opted for the green tea ice-cream with red bean.

It was lovely with the drizzles of condense milk over it, the sweet biscuits pieces pair well with the ice-cream and strawberries. I can have another serve of these.

Conclusion: The service was good, friendly. Ambience was somewhat made me feel like I was in Japan. Value, relatively expensive for a small portion.

 

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Address:

8 Central Street, Sydney
opening hrs: Mon – Sun: 11:30 to 14:30, 17:00 to 22:00 
Ph:+612-8008-0600
Web: N/A

Getting There:

Parking: Kent Street/Pitt Street 
By train: Town Hall

Map picture

 

Ichigo Ichie on Urbanspoon

Hokkaido Japanese Restaurant, Circular Quay

 

www.hokkaido.com.au

Ratings
Food: 7/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Service: 9/10
Value: 8/10

Average Price
Entrée: $5 – $10
Main: $10 – $25
Dessert: Not aware of one
Degustation: N/A
Corkage: $3 p/p
Cakeage: $1 p/p

Others
Ease of finding a car park: Hard
Ease of finding the restaurant: Hard
Brightness of restaurant: Normal
Noise Level: Noisy
Waiting time for foods: 15 mins – 20 mins
Booking time require: 1-2 Days
Child friendly/High Chair: Yes

 
Hokkaido 1
 
hokkido 3
 

Formally known as Lobster cave, located in loftus street in circular Quay area of Sydney CBD. Now this is a real hidden gem because it is secretly hidden under ground with a long stairs. As the door open, you come to one of the best and reasonable priced Japanese restaurant in town.

Hokkaido has an extensive menu for their ramen, udon, soba, don and Bento box. If you are not a big fan of noodle in soup there is always other dish for you such as the Katsu Don, Teriyaki Chicken and sukiyaki for the hot pot lovers.

What I love the most is their ramen and the soup base, which are essentially chicken soup based blended with other natural ingredients such as fish and salt. You can also choose between three type of flavour-base soup: Miso (bean paste), Shoyu (soy sauce) and Shio (dried scallop soup).

 

Hokkido 2

Cha-shu (roated pork) Lover’s Ramen (miso base), $15

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Hokkaido Miso Ramen (Miso base), $12

The noodles were a thinner variety, but still perfectly chewy, the pork was so tender it almost falls apart when you pick it up and had a almost sweet, fatty, melt-in-your-mouth flavour. The egg wasn’t as runny as expected but wasn’t too bad.

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Yaki Udon (Stir fried udon noodle) with Karaage (deep fried chicken), $16

Udon was chewy and always come out perfectly with right amount of meat and veges. The portion was so generous that this dish was unfinished even by a male.

 

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Address:

Basement, 20 Loftus Street, Circular Quay
opening hrs: Mon – Sat: 12:00 to 14:30, 18:00 to 21:30 
Ph:+612-9251-8280
Web: www.hokkaido.com.au

Getting There:

Parking: Elizabeth Street 
By train: Circular Quay

Map picture

Hokkaido Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Point-and-shoot to DSLR for food photography

 

This post is nothing about food recipe or restaurants reviews – just wanted to get some opinion on food photography and DSLR.

I started my food blog for about 10 months now, been using my Canon point-and-shoot with no tripod and I got on just fine. As days goes by, I am more and more inspired by the stunning photos on other food blogs. For example, there’s pigged-out, The heart of food and Jenius to name just a few. Sure, they are professional, but I can’t help but drool at the food photos and hoping one day, maybe, just maybe, I can take photos just as good as them.

Being a total newbie to food photography, I was lucky enough to get some really helpful advice among the food bloggers group and on the internet. Words like aperture, shutter speed & ISO all sounds very new to me but also interesting at the same time. I felt it’s about time to advance my gear in preparation of producing some mind-blowing beautiful food photos. But with so many different brands, model, lens out there, what are the best DSLR for shooting food?

Some of the typical problems that I was experiencing with my point-and-shoot are high F-stop not much of depth of field in my images, terribly shaking images at night time, highlights can very easily get completely blown out which make the food looks greasy and white plates looks bright white especially when the flash is on. I suspect I need a tripod too of course.

I have been eyeing the Nikon D7000 for a while, went to TED’s camera and had a play with it, I tried on the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 Lens and it was surprisingly light. Had a few shots and the auto focus was just amazing. The fast f/1.8 aperture would be useful for shotting in low light restaurant. Going to check out the 28mm lens later for comparison. Guys drop me a line of what you are using or any recommendation would be helpful ^_^

 

Update: Test out two different lens yesterday from TED’s camera, one is Nikkor 35mm f/1.8, the other one is Nikkon AF 20mm f/2.8. can you tell the difference which one is which?

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