It’s always a good thing when visiting another country, especially when you are like me who usually do not research much on the place, to be in the company of fellow food bloggers.
I was fortunate to have my Sydney food blogger friends to show me around, and it was so much fun to hang out with them, everyone connected and soon we were chatting like we’ve known each other for years. And the food was good of course, no restaurant in their right mind will serve bad food to a group of hungry food bloggers.
Without Helen’s arrangement, I probably would never make it to Newtown, an suburb outside the city area, and I must say I’m glad I did. The place is a charming shopping paradise with the fashionable boutique by day, and when the sun goes down, it instantly transformed into a cool chilled-out area for all the night owls. The restaurant we’ve dinner was called Rowda Ya Habibi, they served Lebanese cuisine and we sat on the floor on cushions. Other than the exotic Lebanese cuisine, there was also special entertainment in the form of a belly-dancer, she’d danced around the room and then grab one of us up to dance (or rather move around) with her. Boy, it was hell lot of fun that night!
The eight of us went for the Extra Special Banquet ($30 per pax) which has a variety of 10 dishes selected by the chef. We began with Hummos, a chicken pea & sesame seed kind of dish that was really quite difficult to describe in terms of taste and appearance. The generous serving of Lebanese bread was somewhat like the Indian Naan, to dip with all kinds of sauces, and to be wrapped with the other sides to eat together.
I got confused by the Baba Ganooj because it looked so similar to the Hummos, but the main ingredient was smoked eggplant (one of the raw vegetables that I do not eat), and then all was good with the arrival of the fulsome Shish kebab, tender lamb fillets grilled on skewers that were mouth-watering.
In comparison to the Shish kebab, the Chicken skewers were much more tender, and juicy, and I couldn’t help stealing a glance around the table to see if there’s any leftovers. The remaining of the dishes include felafel, a deep-fried vegetarians balls of crushed chick pea (again), beans with spices, ladies finger which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Chinese fried spring roll, only that this one was filled with meat, onions and pine nuts.
Five minutes after we stepped out of the Lebanese restaurant, we headed further down the street for round 2 – ice cream! A few of the others unanimously agreed that Gelatomassi has the best (read: number one, top of the world, absolutely unbeatable) pistachio ice cream, and after trying it, I must say I agree with their judgment – it’s definitely by far one of the best green-nut ice cream that I’ve had before. The distinct pistachio nut taste would drive any fans of the green-nut crazy.
I’ve the ferrero roche flavour, which seemed tame after I tried the pistachio; it lacked the crunchy bite and wasn’t ferrero roche enough. Most of the folks didn’t like the lemon sorbet as they found it to be too sourish, but I on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed the citrus sting. The other flavours we’d include chocolate cake, peanut, and strawberry.
Are we done? No, not yet, we went to another place in the Darlinghurst area called Messina for even more ice cream! Madness isn’t it? But that’s what happen when a group of food bloggers hang out together. The coconut lychee was a big hit here, but since I’m neither a fan of coconut nor lychee, it didn’t appeal to me. In addition, the second scoop was tiramisu which was pretty decent.
Afterwhich, the group of us went across the street to another place for frozen yogurt. It’s probably not the most sensible thing to do in the middle of a chilling night, but yet there’s nothing better than to sit out there in the cold weather while having ice cream and frozen yogurt.
‘Where are we going next?’ This simple question brought us to our fifth and final stop for the night, the very popular Chat Thai, in Chinatown. It was already midnight by the time we arrived at the place, and there’s still a long queue outside waiting to get in. No one could possibly miss out on Pad thai when in a Thai restaurant, so we had one to share. Just like the recent one that I’ve before I left for Sydney, it was sweet, not spicy at all, and the rice noodles were considerately thinner. I’d like my Pad thai to have lots of raw beansprouts and eggs, however Chat Thai’s rendition did not have enough of both to satisfy me.
* * *
Just in case you are wondering, yes we covered all these places within one night. This is the second part of my Twelve days in Sydney series, to be continued . . .
Rowda Ya Habibi
101 King Street Newtown
Tel: 02 9557 5368
262 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
Tel: (02) 9516 0655
241 Victoria Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
20 Campbell Street
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 1808