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Review - Grumpy Donuts

The last time I mistakenly thought it was Doughnut Time, I was proved so thoroughly wrong, I started to doubt I even liked doughnuts anymore! As you age your tastes do change, and eating those doughnuts made me wonder if I'd finally hit the point when sugar coated rings of saturated fat no longer appealed. So despite them opening their first bricks and mortar store right in my Inner West ‘hood, I put off visiting Grumpy Donuts for months.

Eventually curiosity got to me, and I entered this online and café-based business’s first bricks and mortar store. With white paint and tiles, the clean lines of the store direct your attention where it should be – onto a marble display board showing off the day’s doughnut selections. Doughnuts are divided into Rings ($4 - $5.50); Filled ($5.50); Bars ($6) and Fritters ($6); with no discounts for purchases in multiples of six. You do however receive your half-dozen doughnuts in a groovy pink box that conjures up memories of The Simpsons, and the pink-doughnut-loving Homer.

To begin with, these doughnuts are real doughnuts, not bread rolls or cakes disguised as doughnuts. While they’re not as ephemeral as a Krispy Kreme, they’re not ridiculously over-sweet either – the Vanilla Bean Glaze ($4.00) is flecked with real vanilla and eats with a lot of lemony tang. The doughnut itself reminds me of the slightly more substantial pineapple doughnuts I used to enjoy as a kid.

You can also see the commitment to using high quality ingredients in the flavour of the Maple Glazed ($5.00). It has a savoury edge that I like better than the vanilla, and it even goes with beer. Sourpuss - which you can pick up at Wayward Brewing virtually next door to your doughnuts – is a real dessert beer. It has great acidity, which cleans your palate, and enjoying it with sweetness brings up the bready notes in the beer.

Beer will also suit Buttered Toast ($5.50), which glues lightly toasted brioche crumbs onto the doughnut using brown butter glaze. It’s not my favourite – but it's not over-sweet either. Nor is the Sour Patch Jam ($5.50) that cleverly confuses your palate’s expectations with a raspberry jam centre offset by a super-sour sugar dusting (think: citric acid powder).

Best of all though is the Apple Fritter ($6). Though technically not a doughnut, this fritter-doughnut hybrid is fried then glazed. What make it special is the filling of Granny Smith apple pieces, and the lashings of caramel and cinnamon. It’s unique and delicious, and probably the only item I tried that I’d go out of my way to return for.

Grumpy Donuts
72 Pyrmont Bridge Road, Camperdown
Ph: (0403) 837 898

Grumpy Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Travel - Hyams Beach Store & Cafe

With powdery white sand and aquamarine water, Hyams Beach is a rather spectacular piece of coastline along the edge of Jervis Bay. Hyams Beach General Store and Café is the only food business servicing the needs of the locals and visitors, who visit in considerable numbers during the warmer months. Many – like myself – take a holiday rental in the two-street wide beach locale to maximise their time at one of New South Wales’ most beautiful beaches.

We chose to drop anchor at Minke, a historical whaling cottage on the suburb’s main street. When choosing your holiday abode, remember that off-street parking is a must during the summer months, because a beach this good gets lots of weekend attention if the weather is good.

The cottage is a renovated 1926 whaling cottage, with pictures of the original building and its inhabitants, taking pride of place in the tiny lounge room. The one-bedroom cottage, which was originally was part of a pair, has been expanded to a foursome of weatherboard dwellings, each painted in a different pastel shade. The interior space has been tastefully furnished with all a couple needs for a weekend by the sea.

And we’re not talking just any sort of furnishings either – from the pretty pastel SMEG kitchen appliances in the well-equipped eat-in kitchen, to the Dyson Air Multiplier cooling your nights in the bedroom, it would seem no expense has been spared to ensure your comfort. Better yet, the art is actually interesting, as are their library selections. Having a ferret around will uncover collections of buttons, hand-painted fishes, and lots of inlay items – it would seem someone shares my partner’s fetish for optical illusions.

With water views from both the front verandah and the expansive back deck, your only choice will be where to sit down first with a cheese platter and a bottle of wine.

In the mornings, blow-ins like myself, can usually be found at the neighbouring Hyams Beach General Store and Café queuing for that essential first cup of coffee.

A Latte ($3.90), made on The Little Coffee Company’s arabica beans, is a decent drop. It takes a while to arrive, but despite the full tables and long queue at the walk-up window, the overworked barista still doesn’t burn it – success!

We choose to build our own breakfast on top of a Scrambled Eggs on Sourdough ($10) base, adding a  modest trio of smoky Burrawang Bacon ($4.90), a Hash Brown ($2.20) and some house-made Tomato Chilli Jam ($2.20). It’s a substantial feed but costs have a way of getting away from you when breakfast isn’t priced as a whole sum.

They also whack on a ten percent surcharge on Sunday – guess we should be grateful the seven day working week hasn’t yet hit sunny seaside hamlets like Hyams Beach. Our cooked breakfasts take the good part of an hour to arrive, so we wolf them down, eager to hit the sand.

A smart traveller may elect to beat the wait by loading up on supplies on the drive down from Sydney. Despite being located in a shopping monolith, the Shellharbour Fish Market is a fishermen's cooperative, and produced some of the best cooked tiger prawns I've eaten this summer. Along with some unshucked oysters from the same place, and a selection of cheeses, they made self-catering a breeze.

Minke Historic Whaling Cottage
57 Cyrus Street, Hyams Beach
Ph: (02) 9328 1379

Hyams Beach Store & Cafe
76 Cyrus Street, Hyams Beach
Ph: (02) 4443 3874

Hyams Beach Store & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - Mama Rosy's

Marked by a wine barrel and golden light spilling onto King Street, Mama Rosy’s is a convivial Italian restaurant run by a tight-knit group of Sicilian family and friends.

It’s the kind of restaurant that’s not too proud to turn out the lights and encourage guests to join a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday, just to make a diner’s night.

The arrival of our half-metre pizza board is another whole of restaurant experience; capturing the cosy courtyard’s attention with high dough arches, draped in prosciutto with a ricotta crown. With dough that’s proofed for 24-hours, and set aside for a second rise to ensure the well-charred crust is light and bubbly, the pizzas here are not a case of style over substance.

With simple Italian toppings like fresh mozzarella di bufala, rocket, cherry tomato, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP, these large rectangular beauties are cooked for just a minute and a half in the shiny, copper-topped wood-fire pizza oven.

It’s manned by smiling pizzaiolo Johnny Giordano, who like the rest of the team, oozes warm, Sicilian hospitality.

The beautiful Margout Bucceri lands our mountain of spaghetti con le sarde with a childhood tale of watching her mother cook it in Palermo, the nation’s capital. The toothsome pasta is adorned with toasted breadcrumbs and a whole sardine. Each strand of spaghetti is well coated in a finely chopped mixture of sardines and anchovy; the intensity eased by cherry tomatoes and sweet bursts of raisin.

Presenting our heaving antipasti platter, Restaurant Manager Cristian Fiorello explains: “We try to give as much as we can.”

While he’s referring to his team’s passion - evident in everything they do - if you’re tucking into their four-course Italian banquet ($50/head) of antipasti, pasta, pizza and dessert, you’d be well advised to bring an appetite.

Note: This piece appeared in Issue #299 of Ciao Magazine.

Mama Rosy’s
496 King Street, Newtown
Ph: (02) 7900 3668

Mama Rosy's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


All Japanese yakiniku restaurants are not created equal. While most Australian diners are likely to choose their favourite barbeque joint based upon premium cuts of wagyu (guilty as charged), for Japanese diners, I'm told it’s all about the sauce. I’m speaking with Yuri Tazunoki from Washoku Lovers at Nikaido, where she’s very excited about the sauce.

We’re talking thick, brown Japanese barbeque sauce that’s made here with a not-so-secret addition – ramen stock – an idea generated from owner and chef Hitoshi Takagaki’s time in a Sydney ramen shop. From his time managing a Newtown izakaya, Takagaki has brought over an extensive iPad menu of additional dishes to make your simple barbeque meal into a well-balanced, table-sized banquet.

Luckily when our avalanche of side dishes arrives, we’re hidden from view in a top-of-the-line private booth screened with beautiful pale hinoki or Japanese cypress.

Yuri explains it’s quite an extravagant use of this slow-growing tree that is normally reserved for houses or baths. The heavy wood screens cleverly soak up sound too, so our booth feels quite intimate despite tantalising strip-wide glimpses of our barbeque-loving neighbours.

After lining our tummies with Assorted Kimchi ($11.50) in radish, cucumber and cabbage, and seasonal vegetable sides called Namul 5 Ways ($8.50), which included blanched spinach, cucumbers, mushrooms and mung bean sprouts, we were ready to barbeque.

While the defining difference between most Japanese and Korean barbeque joints is that only the latter use marination, here you’ll find they offer a very good miso sauce that’s great for getting some char on thin slices Pork Belly ($10.90/6 pieces).

There’s also a special Nikaido salted sauce that’s good on pretty much everything else, particularly wafer-thin Beef Skirt ($10.90/6 pieces). Both items sing against the house yakiniku sauce, so be generous when dipping!

We load up our Japanese-made gas barbeque with Assorted Vegetables ($12.90) enjoying mushrooms, green capsicum, and corn on the cob.

Leaving our onion rings to get a good level of char, we try something new. Corn Butter ($5.90) presents butter-topped corn kernels in a little metal pie tin you put directly onto the grill - delicious!

Bonito-topped Cold Tofu ($2.90) squares are a good way to reset your palate before the main event.

The Special Wagyu Beef Rib ($15.90) is the meal highlight, and such is the quality of this cut of beef, it needs no marination.

Take it off the grill with the centre still slightly pink, and drag it through your Japanese barbecue sauce – delicious!

We finished with Scallops ($11.90/6 pieces), which, if I’m honest, fell a bit flat after the winning wagyu. Their lack of fat meant they cooked a bit too slowly on the grill for my liking.

It turns out that there are three things that set Nikaido apart from other yakiniku. The first is obviously their barbeque sauce, the second is their wide selection of izakaya-style side dishes, and the third proves to be dessert! Dessert is not usually a highlight of my Japanese dining experiences, but the fluffy Matcha Chiffon Cake ($6.80) here is worth trying.

NOTE: If you love Japanese cuisine as much as I do, become a member of Washoku Lovers (for free) and receive free wagyu ribs and kimchi (worth $19.80) when you dine: http://www.washokulovers.com/

Nikaido Japanese Yakiniku Restaurant
Shop 12 / 166-174 Military Road, Neutral Bay,
Ph: (02) 8540 3322

Nikaido Japanese Yakiniku Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - The Sparrow's Mill

A sudden shift in Sydney’s weather had us craving something hot before our last Sydney Festival show at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent in Hyde Park. Having eaten the Korean fried chicken at the famed NaruOne, I was keen to try the offerings at their rival – The Sparrow’s Mill – touted (by some) as being the best in Sydney.

This spot was the second restaurant for the team behind Red Pepper Bistro, located inside Strathfield Sports Club. It’s busy - even for a six o’clock sitting, on a night where torrential sheets of rain are blowing sideways down the street. Pretty much every table is adorned with a small mountain of fried chicken; and with twelve types on offer, your only real decision here should be which kind to sample first.

We decide to hedge our bets with two half serves – one dry and crisp, the other sticky and wet. First to arrive is Snow Cheese Chicken ($18/half). Bone-in chicken pieces are covered in a golden, crunchy batter that shatters upon impact, coating both you and the table, in a fine yellow dust of powdered cheese, parsley and onion. The nicely dry, oil-free exterior sits in direct contrast to the juicy chicken meat inside, rendered all the more flavoursome from having been cooked on the bone. The salty-sweet flavour is quite unique, and sits very well against chicken - it’s impossible to resist going in for a second helping.

Punctuating our pieces with pickled daikon (white radish) breaks, we dive into our second selection - Spicy Chilli Chicken ($18/half). Here the battered chicken has been adorned with a sticky, red chilli sauce that (surprisingly) doesn’t completely overwhelm the crispness. The pieces are intermingled with long, cylindrical rice cakes (tteok) that give your palate a chewy texture to explore. The chilli level is lively, but as the dish is counterbalanced with sweetness, we barely break a sweat.

Besides, we have bowls of Rice Wine Makkoli ($13) to put out any mouth fires. This milky, white fermented rice wine is wonderfully soothing, and at 5-6%, it has about the same alcohol by volume as beer. Do take care to check the expiry date before drinking your bottle though – we were burned here with a soured one that had expired three weeks earlier.

With many of the leaves in our Garden Salad ($8.00) having seen better days, I’d advise skipping this Western-inspired side in favour of some Korean ones. As well as dispensing plate after plate of fried chicken and bringing out your drinks, the busy wait staff plate up banchan (side dishes) from a bain-marie next to the counter where you place your order.

Expect all the usual favourites, from good kimchi to fish cakes and pickled radish. Sadly they don’t come free with the restaurant’s mainstay - fried chicken - but adding on one or two will only set you back a couple of bucks apiece.

The Sparrow's Mill
Shop 3, 116-120 Liverpool Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9264 7109

The Sparrow's Mill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - El-Phoenician

With the kitchen having outlets on two sides servicing the restaurant and a function space, as well as an outdoor seating area, the Parramatta El-Phoenician is a much bigger enterprise than its Walsh Bay cousin. The elegant space is purpose-built after the nearly twenty-year old restaurant outgrew its original Parramatta digs in 2004. It’s a family-run business owned by the El-Bayeh family, who started their run of hospitality businesses back in 1979.

As you’d expect in a more upmarket setting, you’ll be able to complement your meal with a decent selection of wines from France, Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon, or you can splash out on cocktails. The Beirut Mule ($19) is an El-Phoenician twist on a Moscow Mule, throwing some ginger liqueur into the vodka, lime and ginger beer mix. While fig liqueur makes the Fig Caipiroska ($19) slightly intense (think dried rather than fresh figs), the El-Phoenician White Sangria ($35/jug) is an affable summer quaffer, made all the more sharable by coming by the jug.

As you’ll see from the dining room layout, large groups are the bread and butter of this restaurant. The high quality Lebanese food coming out of their busy kitchen is well geared towards sharing; and despite the fancier surrounds, dishes are presented without foams, smears, height or other forms of plating pretentiousness. Lebanese mainstays, Felafel ($10/small), are crisp on the outside, with light, fluffy interiors.

Wrap them in Lebanese bread from the plentiful supplies on your table, with a slathering of Chilli Garlic Dip ($9).

If you’re bored with tabouli and fatoush, take care of you salad needs with Shankleesh ($12). Drizzling lettuce, tomato, shallots and spicy aged cheese in extra virgin olive oil, this is a common and enjoyable Lebanese breakfast dish.

At the heartier end of the menu you’ll find offerings from the grill section, like Shish Kebab ($33), with three plump lamb skewers cooked with restraint so their innards remain juicy and pleasantly pink. It’s presented with grilled vegetables – onions, tomatoes – and a small pot of fried potatoes you can also slather with garlic dip.

While nutmeg and yoghurt marination gives the Chicken Shawarma ($28) a somewhat pasty consistency, the red wine, black pepper, nutmeg and mixed herb marinade used on the Lamb Shawarma ($30) makes it a definite, well-balanced winner. Try the pair on a sizzling Combination Shawarma ($30) platter against a sauce trio of tahina (ground sesame paste), chilli and garlic dip.

Whack this one into your memory banks for next year, as a good post-Sydney Festival feed after a performance at the nearby Riverside Theatre.

328 Church Street, Parramatta
Ph: (02) 9633 1611

El-Phoenician Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - Automata

So you’re going to get your eyes tested,” my Uber driver enquires? It takes me a moment to understand he’s confused the restaurant name – Automata – with optometrist; er... easy mistake. My own reading of it is a nod to chefs having to be like automatons – robots - reproducing precisely the same dish over and over again.

The restaurant décor is minimalist - all cold, hard metals, engine parts and stark concrete. By contrast, the service team – led by restaurant manager Abby Meinke (ex-Moon Park) - is all about warmth beaming onto your table, like the rays of sunshine hitting our portion of the long, shared communal bench.

Sommelier Tim Watkins (ex-Pilu) discusses wine, sake and beer so effortlessly, artfully weaving tales of terroir and sake brewing techniques into the fabric of your conversation, he feels like another guest. You won’t find his wine matches printed on the five-course Menu ($88/head) either, because Tim is open to tailoring the accompanying beverages to your drinking predilections. So, if you hate Sauvignon blanc – and I mostly do – he isn’t going to torture you with drinking it in the optional Matched Beverage Package ($60/head). And you should order the package merely to ensure Tim’s repeated visits to your table.

Coming up to eighteen months of age, Chef Clayton Wells' much-awarded restaurant is still a relative newcomer in Sydney’s dining scene, but it's easy to see what the fanfare is about. Automata is very much a modern fine diner - Wells has taken on board Sydney’s pointed shift away from fussy, over-styled plating, and our desire to spend less time and money at the table, all without sacrificing produce quality.

Here you will receive five perfectly proportioned courses that shift with produce availability, starting with snacks like guanciale (pork jowl) and smoked enoki, and a sour cherry dish that celebrates end of the season fruit. It’s matched to a sparkling wine – the NV Paltrinieri ‘Leclisse’ Lambrusco di Sorbara ($16/glass) – which will likely renovate your understanding of Lambrusco. Pale pink and savoury with hints of with strawberry fruit and light minerality, it’s got enough dry acidity to cut against the stone fruit’s late-season sweetness – evident even against fermented juice, black garlic and little pickled caper petal caps.

We move on to a pretty white pepper broth poured over freshly picked mud crab, pickled egg yolk and a mound of braised pepitas. The pumpkin seeds yield pleasurably to your teeth, adding a textural element to the elegant broth. We take it with sake – the 2015 Miyako-Bijin ‘White Label’ ($15/glass) – junmai (pure rice) sake. Being unpasturised and unfiltered, it has good, savoury rice characteristics, some apple-like notes and a dry finish - I'd like it even without food.

In the centre of the open plan kitchen, the Big Green Egg might have caught your attention. It’s a ceramic cooking and smoking system designed by NASA (well the ceramic technology it uses is), with a chimney top. Wells uses it to cook your beef heart. Before you screw up your nose, this is a surprisingly gentle dish taking tender heart segments and teaming them with burnt and pickled onions, thyme, mountain pepper and smoked salt. It’s matched by an equally gentle 2015 Claus Preisinger ‘Kalkstein’ Blaufränkisch ($17/glass) from Austria, and some fluffy, brown dinner rolls.

No one at my table professes to be very enthused about steamed fish, particularly after eating the more robust beef heart, but we eat our words when the flavour-packed steamed bass groper lands. The flavour is aided by a creamy cured roe emulsion (think: taramasalata), mussel segments and fermented red cabbage, all sitting in a vividly green pool of herb sauce.

The fish course is larger, designed to fill out the any corners that the bread roll missed, though you can add on an optional Quickes Cheddar ($12/person) course. It’s worth throwing in at least one per table, if only to try the accompanying caramelised kiwifruit condiment - who knew?

While it’s hard to say anything too critical about something as beautifully presented as macadamia sorbet adorned with fresh strawberry scales glued on by crème fraiche, I must confess to wanting more from the vibrant red fruit’s promised kombu marination. Though once my probing spoon uncovered the dessert’s hidden pocket of black sesame, and I’d gotten further acquainted with the matching red rice 2015 Mukai Shuzo ‘Ine Mankai’ ($14/glass) sake, the dessert did win me over in the end.

5 Kensington Street, Chippendale
Ph: (02) 8277 8555

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


Travel - The Gunyah at Paperbark Camp

With overnight stays in the king deluxe safari tents running over the six hundred dollar mark; Paperbark Camp takes glamping (glamorous camping) to a whole new level.

Whether or not their rack rates lie within the realm of possibility, there is another way you can experience the peaceful forest surrounds and elevated natural wood architecture of The Gunyah – the camp’s restaurant and hub – without breaking the budget.

For a mere thirty dollars per person, you can join the in-house guests for breakfast any Saturday or Sunday morning between 8am and 10am. It’s perfect if you’re doing a weekender in Huskisson, or any of the other Jervis Bay beachside locales.

Take a gander at the building designed by Trevor Hamilton from Nettleton Tribe, which unites the camp’s reception, a fireside lounge, an outdoor cocktail area, and a large airy dining room at canopy level.

Plentiful glass and allows both natural light and forest views inside, flowing seamlessly into the organic furnishings and sympathetic colour palette.

You can dine inside, or get even more acquainted with the forest on the wide veranda.

Breakfast starts with a Continental buffet – the highlight of which is the house-blend of gluten-free muesli.

It’s a captivating mix of long strands of coconut, almonds, walnuts, grains, dried cranberries, apricots and other types deliciousness set off by thick, indulgent yoghurt and your choice of poached rhubarb and pears.

With a plate of comb honey catching your eye, it’s hard to resist adding a drizzle of sweetness – though a muesli with this much variety doesn't really need any accentuation.

Get stuck into the jams with a selection of breads, bested by fruit toast – though it’s no match for the amazing Scottish malt loaf at local standout, Huskisson Bakery Café – or play it safe on space with a selection of fresh fruit and yoghurt.

Sink back into your safari chair with a passable coffee – a little on the weak side in a latte – or a well-balanced carrot, apple and ginger juice, and listen to the birdcalls.

Also included in the thirty-buck price, each diner can also select a hot breakfast.  We were given a choice between mushrooms, spinach and poached eggs on toast, or golden scrambled eggs with bacon and vibrant oven-roasted tomatoes piled on top of a toasted bread square.

We left the cool, calm forest well sated, boasting a bargain shopper's satisfied grin from having experienced how the other half holiday for a much keener price.

The Gunyah Restaurant
Paperbark Camp, 571 Woollamia Road, Woollamia NSW
Ph: (02) 4441 6066

The Gunyah Restaurant @ Paperbark Camp Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - Ahgora

Flying under the radar, Ahgora has been part of Glebe’s dining landscape for nearly three years, with very little of note written about it.

The narrow terrace is quite striking inside, with a bold geometric paint line and clever asymmetrical strip lighting design, softened by vertical plant trellises.

Chef Marek Oravec is dishing up modern dishes inspired by Greek and other Mediterranean cuisines, starting with an excellent Moussaka ($34). Long fibres of beef brisket, grilled eggplant and kipfler potato are lightly smothered in an airy ricotta béchamel that cuts against their intensity perfectly.

Equally good are Haloumi Ravioli ($24) – Ahgora’s signature dish. The salty intensity of the cheese is tamed by silky, thin pasta skins and a burnt butter sauce that is given interest with crisp sage leaves, plump golden raisins and house-made lemon jam.

Decision making is made somewhat easier by ordering the Five-Course Banquet Menu ($55/head) where you get a shared mezze plate between two, your choice of three mains, two sides and a shared dessert. The Mezze Plate ($19) offers up two dips – tarama and tzatziki – some olives and smoked pitta bread.

I’m more taken with Seared Prawns ($26) – a thoroughly modern, summery dish of tenderly cooked prawns, chive emulsion, pickled tomato, smoked fetta and puffed rice for texture. They go down well with the 2012 Roustabout Chardonnay ($65) from Pemberton in Western Australia.

While service is well intentioned, they could improve upon wine knowledge. “I just know whether I like it or not,” doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to explaining Greek wines, particularly when it would have been easy to liken the 2015 Fteri Arcadia Moschofilero ($12/glass) to gewürztraminer.

We end on a shared Lemon Strudel ($16). The strudel itself is plain and lacks the expected lemon hit, but it's rescued by sharp lemon curd, apple sorbet and crisp apple straws.

94 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Ph: (02) 9518 7695

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


Review - Holy Duck!

Around the corner from the popular hawker-style outlets of Spice Alley, Holy Duck! is the latest new entry for Chippendale’s eat street.

It’s a modern, stylish space with a chop shop up front, and a kitchen in the rear.

It’s lit by having its name - Holy Duck! - in lights, and some fake candles I’m a bit less enamoured with; probably because I’m old enough to remember real candles before the fun police came to town.

Despite the upmarket setting, the menu is an unusual hybrid of Aussie takeaway shop and modern Chinese, taking on everything from sliced whole duck to burgers, to hand-held items you can buy and eat on the run.

While the What the Duck! Burger ($16) is hard to go past, what with a branded bun holding all the same contents as a traditional duck pancake sitting alongside a handful of compelling duck-salt, shoestring fries, the chop shop commands attention.

I settle on a tray of Roast Holy Duck! ($24/half) and throw in some Mandarin Pancakes ($8) to eat it with. It arrives on a board, gleaming but stone cold, with pickles and a small pot of their signature duck sauce. The duck is flavoursome but fatty, and with only a Qoo White Grape Juice ($3.50) to cut against it (they’re strangely not serving alcohol), I’m not loving it quite as much as I wanted to.

Throw in that the signature sauce is a thin, dripping-everywhere disappointment, and my pancakes repeatedly tear, and I’m thinking this Chefs Gallery offshoot may have to lift their bird game. After all, they're not located very far from BBQ King – every confirmed duck lover’s Mecca – who are themselves back on the scene with fancier surrounds.

The largest part of the Holy Duck! menu is made up of roast and BBQ rice bowls, which are basically whole meals, served on plates. Yeah, I'm confused too. Semantics aside, the Crispy Crackling Roast Pork Belly Bowl ($16) positions moist slices of well-rendered crumbed pig, drizzled with Pommery French whole-grain mustard, next to pickles and a mound of rice.

Pay the two bucks extra for the more interesting taro rice version, and it makes for an enjoyable and well-rounded single-dish eat that I could see myself coming back for at the end of a big night.

Holy Duck!
The Old Rum Store, Kensington Street, Chippendale
Ph: none provided

Holy Duck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato