Restaurant Review: Sails on Lavender Bay

Sails on Lavender Bay Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Oh my goodness.

This is the best way to describe each and every item that came to our table.

Here is the link

We went to Sails as a nice lunch date to celebrate an anniversary, and boy was it worth it! On lavender bay, close to Milsons point, with a magnificent view of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, lies this cute little restaurant. It’s located right next to the ferry stop, and it is kind of cute to have the customers arrive by ferry before stepping into the eatery.

We decided to drive there, because unfortunately we were short on time :'(. We stepped inside to see the array of awards received by the restaurant and walked into a cozy and very warm room filled with the noises of happy customers and the smell of delicious food. Honestly, every person was smiling. We were greeted wonderfully by the head of the waitstaff who directed us to our tables with a gorgeous view of the water.

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The first thing I noticed, before I even get to the food, was the service. The table next to us were eating the Sails degustation menu. This is a truly hefty menu that requires at least 2 1/2 hours to devour. The servers would come over to them and not only explain the food they were about to eat, but deconstruct the matching wine right from the flavours in it to why it matches the food. I loved this addition.

Our service was equally as wonderful.

We began the meal by the complimentary fresh baked bread with home-made chive butter, and a whole butter with leek ash (what even.). The butter was divine. The bread was so bloody soft and warm. The balsamic salt to go with it was the perfect addition. The bread came to us so warm, I cannot get over it. I dunno, I guess it’s the little things that make a world of difference.

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This was followed by a wonderful and tangy fennel soup as the amuse bouche. (Can anyone pick up on the friends reference here???). This soup was so light and creamy and tangy and fun all at the same time. It was the sort of soup that came in the tiniest cup that could be drunk straight like a shot, but really should come in a massive bowl with dunking bread to eat in the middle of winter. It was delicious.

Now to our actual order. So far… this was just complimentary…

Entree: 

  • hiramasa kingfish tataki, cucumber caviar, kimchi, rice paper
  • scallops (the item I ordered isn’t on the online menu… so I actually cannot quote it 100%)

Mains:

  • grimaud duck breast, eggplant, baby cos, bacon powder, grape must
  • The day special of a crispy skin cod served with scallops, fennel, and well… a lot of deliciousness

Dessert:

  • pineapple and coconut eton mess, pineapple sorbet, passionfruit jelly, coriander
  • chocolate hazelnut pavé, white chocolate and yoghurt mousse, sorbet, caramel crunch

We also ordered a side salad of broccolini, sugar snaps, snow peas, squash, cumin, lime.

Alright. To deconstruct our order.

The entree. My work were they wonderful. My scallops came with this delicious creamy mayo liked sauce. It was tangy and spicy at the same time, with some sort of a citrus infused rice cracker and bacon, that looked to me liked it was smoked and cooked in a delicious sweet maple syrup. Honestly, it was truly phenomenal. I don’t think I’ve ever used that word in my reviews before 😛 The scallops were so incredibly flavoursome, which is saying something. They were soft on the inside but just lightly crispy on the outside.

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The kingfish was equally as incredible. I wasn’t expecting the kimchi flavour to be as amazing as it was. The cucumber caviar was such a surpirse! We couldn’t pin point the little green balls on the plate until we looked back at the menu. The dressing all over the meal was incredible and the little pieces of freshness in every bite. The spice was not overpowering at all and we could still taste the delicious tender kingfish below the layers of superb flavours.

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The mains were just as wonderful. The daily special cod was amazing. The skin was so amazingly crispy! It sliced apart so easily. I love a brittle crispy skin. That’s how you know its perfect. The meat was tender and juicy and flaky and served on a bed of spinach that had been wilted down in this delicious sauce. I really wish I knew what was it. I really do. The scallops were different in this meal! They were seared too, but weren’t as spicy. In fact they were kept a little more bland to soak up the flavour of the sauce and compliment the fish perfectly. The addition of the fennel was interesting. it added a tartness to the meal that was actually so welcoming. I know this special probably won’t be there if you do go… but damn was it delicious.

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The duck breast was equally as incredible. The skin was crispy and perfect, and the meat was so succulent and tender. The nutty flavour of the duck was truly delicous when paired with the bits and bobs of salad on the plate. It didn’t look like much when it came out, but boy did it fill us up. I was so pleasantly surprised by this meal. The meat wasn’t chewy at all, but each and every bite of the meat was different and delicious. Whatever they had used to tenderise the meat most definitely worked. The whole thing was wonderful. I recommend this one to you all.

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The side salad was so surprising too. If possible, grab this too. It seems so simple with the broccolini, snap peas and squash but oh the dressing. That dressing was so light and subtle but so flavoursome. It actually was the perfect accompaniment to the fish and duck. It added so much freshness to the deep nutty flavour of the duck and the tangy flavour of the fish  and sauces.

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Now to the dessert. The eton mess was delightful. It has coconut meringue, and a truly delicious pineapple sorbet that I could eat forever. Honestly it was stunning. The passionfruit jelly was equally amazing and was just perfect. There were chunks of fruit in the mess and it was just a little piece of fruity heaven. For a dessert, I think this was one of the lightest I’ve had. It’s great for a fairly full tummy!!

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My dessert was the hazelnut pave and oh gosh was it decadent and rich. I thought it was a little too rich for my liking but I did finish it nevertheless because it tasted like a bloody fancy nutella for a princess and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. The crumbs with it were crunchy and tangy, while the entire pave was dusted with a bitter coffee. It actually cut down on the rich sweetness which I didn’t mind at all. The white chocolate mousse was delightful and delicious while the sorbet was a little tangy. The caramel crunch was just the perfect little thing to add to bite between bites.

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Okay… let’s get to the score before I kill you with my words about incredibly wonderful food.

Food: 10/10

Seriously do I really need to add anything more?

Service: 10/10

It was wonderful and kind and well… just plain nice 🙂

Ambiance: 8/10

I think the fact I could see the ferry stop bugged my a little, and it blocked out view of the bridge. Plus the restaurant did get really loud, but it might be because of the slightly tipsy couple next to us that progressively used more and more swear words

Originality: 10/10

Seriously. An eton mess with coriander? What even. It was amazing.

Overall Score: 9.5/10

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Sweet and Spicy Balsamic + Mustard Chicken Roast

Some flavour combinations were made to be. One of those combinations has to be balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard. Add a touch of heat to it, and it is always a huge winner. I had eaten really tasty chicken tenders marinated in balsamic and mustard for 6 hrs, and cooked on a bbq some years ago, and the taste of those delicious pieces still haunt me.

Now this recipe can be thrown together in no time at all. As soon as you are home, throw it all together, pop it in the oven and let the oven do the hard work for you. The marinading of the chicken is really optional because the moisture from the mustard and the vinegar helps to maintain the tenderness of the chicken. I normally add a touch of water to my chicken whenever it’s roasting, or some chicken stock (depending on what I have on hand) to ensure that when it’s done the chicken doesn’t turn out dry. This really is a problem with chicken breast, but it’s a good idea anyway :).

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So I just marinaded the chicken straight in the baking tray, and that went straight to oven. #savedoncleanup! Just mix together the hot sauce, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper, and some parsley too. Coat the chicken well and this is something I just like doing – add the garlic under the skin of the chicken so that you get that intense garlic flavour throughout the meat. Oh and the hot sauce! How could I forget.

I picked up some Byron Bay Chili hot sauce and oh my goodness it is phenomenal. I use it in so many marinades and it even made a feature in my Bang Bang Broccoli recipe and it was incredible. This hot sauce has mango in it, so it has that delicious sweet mango taste, but an intensely hot chilli finish. It is deceptively hot, which I just love. You can use tabasco, or sriracha even, but if you are in Australia… please just do yourself the favour and get your hands on some of this stuff.

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Now20170228_181031.jpg you want to cook the chicken for around 40 mins to the hour, depending on the thickness of your chicken. I used chicken drumsticks because they were on special (haha), but any cut of chicken would do. Remember to check if it’s cooked by just cutting into the thickest portion and ensuring the meat is cooked through.

 

Here is the recipe card, and trust me it is so worth it. Your kitchen is going to smell absolutely divine! Oh and be wary that you are going to get plenty of back bits, which are not for eating. Just remember that the hot sauce and mustard do have some sugar in them, so naturally these sugars are going to caramelise in the oven. You could absolutely use some of the left over flavour juices and sauce to make yourself a different stock, but I would avoid using those charred bits altogether.

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And that is it! It’s easy, and it is totally delicious. Mid week chicken dinners do not need to be a chore. It’s a cheap cut of meat, and it is an easy recipe to follow so it is perfect for those looking for a budget-friendly and healthy meal. I like serving the chicken with some onions that have rested in some salt, pepper and lime juice, along with a big heart salad. This chicken recipe is a great way to get that protein in your diet, and pair it with plenty of greens such as rocket, kale or spinach for a carb free and incredibly delicious dinner. If you find the heat overpowering go ahead and add some cheese, such as feta or ricotta, to your salad to allow your tongue some cooling creamy goodness.

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Review: Devon Cafe

Devon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

SO again, I’m sorta going through my backlog of posts here *sigh*. Such are the hassles of taking time off from blogging, but loving food and restaurant hopping too much to let it go. I figured I should start my new reviews with possibly one of my go-to places for brunch in the city – Devon Cafe. Located on Devonshire street in Sydney, this place is quaint and kind of looks out of place in a fairly old and run down looking street.

Is this place my favourite? Well it’s high up on my favourites list, but yes I sometimes do have mixed feelings about Devon. I am a big fan of their breakfast items, but not so keen on some of the lunch items – particularly the sandwiches. But nonetheless, this cafe is a fabulous and bustling place to head to for a decent meal. The portions are pretty huge, and I can only call the prices moderate.

Now for the run down of the meals.

Let’s start with the Breakfast with the Sakuma’s 

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This comes with a truly delicious miso grilled king salmon fillet, smoked eel croquette, kewpie mayo, 63° egg and radish salad. Firstly, look at that plating!! Isn’t it stunning??

The salmon was incredible. It was flaky, and tender and flavoursome with the rich miso laced throughout. This was complimented so well by the creamy avocado and salad alongside breaking through the richness of the fish. The egg was cooked so nicely, with a yummy runny yolk allowing me to drench everything in the tasty yolk. This yolk acted like an interesting and rich sauce, with the kewpie mayo, for the smoked eel croquette.

Now I was genuinely afraid of the eel croquette, considering I have never eaten it before *yikes*. But when I took a bite, I fell in love. It was smooth, smokey and full of flavour. The crunchy coating matched that beautiful smokey smoothness, and thankfully not any part of this was soggy. The entire fried thing with the yolk and mayo was truly divine.

Next up – Egg’s Blini

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So here we have buckwheat blini’s, topped with cured Salmon, avocado, poached eggs and some broccolini. 

Now the little Blini pancakes were light, they were fluffy, and they were simple to rip apart and savour with the salty cured salmon. Now the salmon was a little too salty for my personal preference, but the creamy sauce and the avocado did break that down a little. The broccolini has a bit of a bite to it, and tasted delicious soaked in the runny yolk of the poached egg, and the creamy sauce poured all over.

Finally – (awkward moment when I forgot the menu item and it no longer is actually on the menu!) Chorizo and Blood sausage, with harrissa and crispy potatoes.

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Now this was a little daunting for me. The blood sausage in particular. I guess I just play it really safe with my foods? I don’t know. I never grew up eating items like blood sausage, or eel.

The harissa was spicy and fragrant, and was amazing when paired with that sausage and the crispy potatoes. Oh the sausage? So incredibly rich, with that beautiful chorizo spicy flavours. The egg complimented everything in this meal, and that is really all that I can really say about this one!

Now to rate:

Food: 8/10

I think there are items on the menu that are fabulous, and others that are kind of average. Breakfast with the Sakuma’s is probably the best thing I’ve eaten here.

Service: 5/10

To be frank I found the service slow, and a little bored. It took a while for the waitress to come to our table with the menus, then to take the order, and then with the food. Sure there is always a rush at Devon, but the time it took did bug me a fair bit.

Ambience: 9/10

Oh Devon is so cute and the courtyard has to be my favourite. It bustling and busy and always a little loud. It makes the experience fun, and when there is such a big crowd… you know it is a good place 😀

The Menu: 9/10

I love how experimental this cafe is with interesting flavours and meats to go alongside brunch classics like pancakes, salmon and your simple salad. This is something that really makes Devon stand out.

Overall Score: 7.75/10

Is it worth heading there? For sure.

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Avo Smash, poached Egg and Eggplant

MAKE BREAKFAST AMAZING AGAIN.

and make it at home.

SO many people spend anywhere between 15 – 30 dollars on their Sunday brunch, each week! Now, if you are willing to put in the 10 minutes of time it will take to make the food, you are going to save so much money. This particular recipe is so simple and easy, and you can actually make most the elements ahead of time and keep them in the fridge to use in other recipes. To top it off, there are plenty of ways to tweak this recipe for a new flavour each and every time, that way each Sunday will be amazingly special.

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Here comes the tricky part – the avocado. Why is it tricky? How many times have you cut open an avocado thinking it is the right softness to use, only to find it horribly hard or yucky and black? Oh it happens to all of us. The trick is to just understand the firmness. When you grab the avo, I normally do this with my non-writing hand to check, it should be firm enough to give a little resistance, but soft enough that you can push the skin in. Some people seriously have a knack for this.

To the avocado I always add some kind of cheese. In this recipe I went for cream cheese, but some delicious crumbly feta or ricotta are perfect substitutes. If you are vegan, then go ahead and add just a touch of Silken tofu to add a delcious creamy element to the avocado smash. I also add a hint of sumac because I just love the tangy spice that it provides, a squeeze of lime, which preserves the green color, and some parsley too. If not parsley you can add chives, or dill even to just freshen up the avocado even more. You can also add a touch of paprika if you like a little heat to your breakfast.

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In terms of the egg, I went for a yummy runny yolk by poaching my egg, but my parents personally love a good ol’ sunny side up. So no matter what the preference, you can use it. If you prefer scrambled, then add some of the cheese you used in the avo smash to the eggs. To poach the egg – I cannot believe I forgot to take photos! – add a touch of lime juice or vinegar to your pot of hot water. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, generate a vortex by making circles in the water using the end of a spoon. I like to crack the egg into a little bowl before  this point to make life a little easier because once the vortex has been made, you just want to slide the egg straight into the centre, slowly and gently. The egg should swirl around and essentially fold up on itself. I remove the egg as soon as I can see that the white has cooked off using a slotted spoon, but keep cooking the egg to your liking. Make sure you set it aside to dry off a little on some kitchen paper.

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Now this is the part I do beforehand. The roasted eggplant and the tomato-basil sauce. Stay tuned for the recipe, but any kind of tomato relish or even left over pasta sauce would work well. For the eggplant, I cut it up in thin slices and placed them in a roasting tray. I coated the eggplant generously with olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper and roasted them at 180 degrees celcius, until the eggplant is beautifully golden and soft and has started to caramelise a little.

Here is the recipe card for this particular breakfast recipe!

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Easy Chicken Cacciatore

This has to be a recipe that I have been wanting to make for at least a whole year. Countless times I have looked at the recipe, tried to prepare for it, but then it just never happened. So many times I saw this recipe on televisions, Food network ftw, and so many times did this recipe pop up on my you-tube ‘recommended list’ . What is Chicken Cacciatore??

So according to my research, it is an Italian chicken recipe which literally means a Hunter style chicken pot. It’s tender chicken cooked in a tomato sauce keeping it moist and literally falling off the bone. The ingredients in this recipe are so simple and easy to find. Sure it does take some time, but you won’t regret it at all… trust me.

Now typically you should use chicken marylands, but I went ahead with drumsticks because I had them on hand. Essentially you could use any cut of chicken, but to maximise the flavours you definitely want to use bone in and skin on pieces. This way when you brown the chicken in the initial stages of this recipe, you essentially render down the chicken fats. Then you end up cooking all the wonderful vegetables in this flavourful fat and well, everything becomes super delicious.

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This recipe uses what I would call the ultimate flavour trifecta (maybe 4-fecta. What is the actual word for this?) , onions, garlic and celery. Oh and add carrot to that too. In this recipe I think these are the essentials. I like using plenty of garlic, but of course that depends on your own taste. Now there aren’t any real spices apart from salt, pepper, and chili flakes, which makes the flavour so true to the vegetables in the recipe and so light on the stomach too.

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All of this combined with good ol’ canned tomatoes and you get this insanely delicious sauce, rich in flavour, and rich in texture too. The tomatoes will need a bit of sugar and extra salt to cook them through well, and soften down the chicken, and of course to cut the sourness of the fruit.

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What makes this recipe so great? The fact that it is literally so simple. You just have to let stew away for a really good 30-40 mins until the meat just seperates from the bones and the tomatoes have caramelised slightly. Here is the recipe card, and see for yourself just how tasty this one ends up ❤

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Creamy Beetroot, Mint and Pecan Dip

What do you do with left over beetroot? You make easy dip ofc!!

I love making dips at home. Firstly, you know EXACTLY what is in it! That is the best part. There is no added sugar, there are no preservatives, and no fake stuff. Plus, making dip is SOO easy! Trust me, once you start making your own, you will not go back to anything from the store. And this one is just so simple!

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You can make this same recipe using tinned beetroot directly, but I love the sweetness that beetroot picks up from roasting it. It does mean the dip takes a bit longer to make, but it’s an easy step with no fuss. Just clean, peel, slice, roast and rest. o real heavy work.

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I like using pecans in this dip, largely because I always have pecans in the house.But you can use pine nuts, hazelnuts or even almonds. Literally grab what you have lying around to give this dip a delicious nutty texture and flavour. The mint just makes this dip so fresh and is the perfect compliment to sweet beetroot and the nuts too.

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Now if you have left over feta, go ahead and add that with the cream cheese. It will add a tasty salty element to the dip. Plain cream cheese works a treat, and that is usually how I do it.

All you need to do is blitz everything in a food processor until smooth and creamy and then serve with some chips, a touch of paprika and olive oil. Yum yum!

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Review: Mr Wong’s

Mr. Wong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So to celebrate my birthday *sigh I am getting older* among other important things, we headed to Mr Wong’s in Sydney’s CBD, and boy was I truly impressed. Tucked away in an alleyway with very modest signage is this wonderful restaurant, that isn’t small at all. Upon entering you feel gusts of cool breeze (It’s the aerodynamics of the room #engineeringgraduaterighthere) and you see the expansive set up all decorated in a colonial french theme. I loved the colors, the vibe, the ambience, and the sounds from the place – it was all so cozy and inviting.

We had a reservation, but we were a little early. Thankfully they seated us right away. Now the first thing I noticed, were how friendly and smiley the wait staff was. Not a single one looked unhappy or b***hy – something I have noticed in the city. The second thing I noticed was how incredibly loud the table next to us was. Here we were having an intimate dinner while a bunch of corporate dressed men were swearing their heads off. It did ruin the mood a little, but alas not the fault of the restaurant itself.

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Oh and you can literally see the chefs working! It’s so wonderful! The open kitchen really shows you the story of how the food is made and I loved it. The fact that the kitchen was so beautifully clean was another awesome point.

Now to the bits and bobs of the food and menu. Firstly, the wine list – so good!! They have a fabulous range of drinks to serve, which I loved. We didn’t order anything too heavy, considering it was only the afternoon. We stuck to a simple Reisling and Rose wine. We also were offered complimentary tea, which I really enjoyed. I chose Chrysanthemum, which is deliciously nutty and subtle and perfect with food. I would definitely recommend grabbing a nice tea during your meal, I find that it helps all the food just go down well.

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Okay, the menu. It’s expansive! I loved that there were multiple dim sum options, and they were certainly very unique. I had never seen aubergine (eggplant) and chicken together in a dumpling, thought we didn’t order it.

We stuck with our favourite, the Pork xiao long bao, a delicious steamed dumpling which has a broth encased. It’s incredibly hot so you need to ‘pop’ the dumpling before eating it otherwise you will burn your mouth. Would I recommend it. Yes. Hell yes I would. The dumpling was soft and delicious and the pork was tender and flavourful. The broth wasn’t overpowering at all and just complimented the meat beautifully.

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For mains we decided to order the Kung Pao Chicken, along with the ‘Typhoon shelter type’ King crab fried rice. The rice was such a treat to the eyes. The speckles of the crab meat, the garlic, the rice, and chilli were just beautiful. The rice itself was surprisingly light, and not oily at all which I really loved. Normally I find fried rice at restaurants just drenched in oil, with all it’s flavour taken over by this oil. But not at Mr Wong’s. The rice was perfectly seasoned, and was just so damn good! In my opinion this was one of the best fried rice’s I had ever eaten.

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The Kung Pao Chicken was wonderful. Just wonderful. It was a true balance of sweet, spicy and salty – umami :P. The chicken had a beautiful smokey color and flavour, and the roasted peanuts were just a lovely crunchy compliment to the soft and tender meat. The meal came with fried chilli as well, and not only were these great to look at, but they tasted phenomenal when eaten with pieces of chicken and rice also.  The green’s along with the chicken balanced the saltyness of the meal greatly, and offered some color and freshness to the meal and palate too. With the fried rice… it was absolute perfection.

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Did we order dessert? Sadly. No we didn’t – We got macron’s from Adriano Zumbo in QVB instead ❤

Okay time to rate the place. My favourite part.

Food: 10/10

I really have nothing more to say about it. It was delicious.

Service: 9/10

I’m only taking a point off because the wait staff that looked after us was a little slow, and well forgetful :/

Ambiance: 10/10

They have done a fantastic job at Mr Wong’s in bringing in a bit of history and culture into the restaurant. The whole place is warm, and inviting and tells a little story about the food and everything behind it. The fact that the kitchen is completely open to everyone, is a huge added bonus.

The menu: 9.5/10

Half a point off because I would have liked to see more chicken in the meat section of the menu, but otherwise this one is really great.

Total score: 38.5/40 OR 9.625/10 😀

Would I go back. Of course.