Tuesday, August 2

Hog's Breath Cafe - Darwin


For those who aren't familiar with this Australian franchise, the establishments have the feel of a pub or American bistro. In Darwin Hog's Breath Cafe was initially on Mitchell St, CBD. Then it moved to Palmerston. Now a second store has opened in Casuarina.

Location: Shop 370, 247 Trower Road, Casuarina Square Shopping Centre Casuarina NT

Website: official website

Menu: see menu. A standard steak and sides is about $30 per person, and this is the average price of mains. Heavy meats such as rib racks are more expensive. Salad and burgers are cheaper at about $15-20. There's still all the classics but I notice there's a real focus on lighter and healthier options nowadays (throughout all the franchises, not just here).

Food:

Cheesy garlic & herb bread - appetising entree to share. Thick slices of bread with melted cheddar cheese on a rustic wooden board.


Boss hog pork ribs - "pork ribs, BBQ sweet chilli sauce, Hog Tail Fries or sweet potato wedges and rawslaw house salad or vegetables". Love the sweet potato wedges. Ribs were okay. Not as tender as I was imagining it to be and the sauce tasted like it was poured on afterwards rather than with flavours soaking through the meat.


Panko prawn prime rib - this is a standard cut of 300g steak with mashed potato and Caesar salad. Mushroom sauce (behind) is purchased at an additional cost. The slow cooked prime ribs are always, consistently tender. However, the steak is never raw enough for my tastes. The most raw you can order here is medium rare, and rarely is it actually medium rare. The thinner the cut of meat (for example if you get the 200g lite cut) the more overcooked it tends to be.


Boss hog rocky road sundae to share - "4 scoops of vanilla ice cream and 4 scoops of strawberry ice cream served on a pile of warm chocolate mud cake drenched in chocolate fudge sauce, marshmallows, strawberry topping, whipped cream, toasted coconut and 2 chocolate wafers." An absolutely huge dessert beyond your imagination. We only managed to work through about 1/4 of it with four people. Not the most delicate or delicious of desserts but a worthwhile experience.


Other: the lighting is better than the older branches. So far the Casuarina branch takes reservations only (no walk-ins). We had some friendly waitstaff. But I notice some of the waitstaff are the same as those that used to be in the Palmerston branch.

A note on the Palmerston branch - I get it that it's a busy place. But in the multiple times I've been there in the past two years, I've often had the feeling that the staff didn't want more customers. You would stand there for a long time before anyone would attend to you at the door, and when they did they would say there's a wait time of over an hour or two. But you have to stay there to wait there - you couldn't leave a name and come back in a little while. That doesn't interest you? Next time then.

Rating: 4/5 as far as Western food goes, I've always liked this cheerful and family-friendly franchise. We've had many birthdays and farewells here. The signature prime rib is not the high quality cuts you might expect from a proper steak place (eg. Char) but the 18 hour cooking method is unique and delicious. The prices has gone up over the years but there's still plenty of affordable options.

Hog's Breath Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, August 1

PappaRich - Darwin

I wrote about "The Quarter" in the last review on Chatime (Casuarina). We went for the opening night, hence the clown (Asian clown?) in the following picture:



PappaRich is a Malaysian franchise that's expanded internationally. It's a welcome addition. There are a lot of Asians in Darwin and I haven't met many that think the what-used-to-be-standard Asian fare is Asian food at all. I mean dishes such as lemon chicken, black bean beef and Mongolian lamb.

There have been many laksa stores at the markets. And pockets of Malaysian / Indonesian / South-East Asian food at some food courts and CBD restaurants. Rendezvous Cafe and Hanuman come to mind. But I would consider it the first Malaysian restaurant in Darwin.

Location: GD362, Casuarina Square, 247 Trower Road, Casuarina NT

Website: official website




Menu: ~$15 to 20 per person for mains. Notice how curry laksa is $17.90?! The same item is about $10.50 in Melbourne (QV) and $12.50 in Sydney (Broadway). Yup the prices vary a lot and Darwin is phenomenally higher than the rest.


In terms of selection basically it's the same menu you would find elsewhere. See it in pictures and lists. Pretty sure the price on the Zomato page is from another, cheaper, branch. Ordering food is the same process as elsewhere too - write down the numbers from the menu and press a bell to call the attendants.

Food:

Drinks - love the selection of interesting drinks. They look the same don't they? But they're not. First is teh tarik and the second is Pappa Cham (mix of tea and coffee).



Pink drink at the back is bandung (a rose syrup drink) with grass jelly. It's been awhile since the first description of bandung on this blog.


Hainan curry chicken chop - "Deep-fried chicken coated with curry sauce, served with chicken rice, fried egg and sliced cucumbers."See above. Chicken was lovely and moist. Love deep fried chicken.

Roti canai - first is plain roti canai and second is roti telur (egg) with curry chicken. The roti was surprisingly nice, crispy, not too oily.



Curry laksa (chicken) - I order this as my standard dish at PappaRich. Soup's a bit watery.


Chicken rice - the rice is real tasty but the chicken and vegetables are too sweet.


Pappa special biryani rice with sambal eggplant, fried chicken & sambal prawns - nice and filling. The chilli sauce was quite hot, which was a nice surprise. Fried chicken and fried eggplant were lovely. Biryani was almost like plain rice - didn't have enough spices.


Banana fritters with vanilla ice cream - love fried banana.


Other: clean and bright inside. Soft seats if you get one of the booths.

Rating: 4/5 some hit and miss but mostly decent and a good variety. Comfortable environment. Pricey compared to other branches (don't even start comparing it to Malaysia) but normal prices by Darwin standards.

PappaRich Australia Pty Ltd Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chatime - Darwin


"The Quarter" has finally arrived in Darwin. It's absolutely amazing to have somewhere to go to at night in the Northern suburbs that isn't a pub. Unfortunate if you're a small F&B businesses nearby though.


New franchises to Darwin include Grill'd, Max Brenner, PappaRich, Cantina, Sushi Bay and Groove Train. And of course Chatime! It feels like QV has come to Darwin. Other new stores include new branches of Hog's Breath, Baskin Robbins and Nandos.



Chatime is my favourite beverage store of all time. I've been to branches in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and probably elsewhere too...

Location: The Quarter, Casuarina Square, 247 Trower Road, Casuarina NT

Website: Chatime official website

Menu: see tea menu. Roughly $5-6 for regular and extra for large & toppings. About $1 more expensive than Melbourne and Sydney. My friends call it the "Darwin tax".

Food: these are matcha latte with pearls and honeymelon. Neither are my regular orders. The selection is the same as everywhere else and quality is similar enough. 


Other: unlike other branches this store doesn't prompt you to choose the sugar and ice levels, but you can still ask for alterations.

Rating: 5/5 who says I'm not biased? Seriously though, cold drinks are much appreciated in the hot weather and the price is competitive (though more expensive than other stores in Australia). In Casuarina, the Vietnamese store in the food court sells bubble tea for $7. Gloria Jean's iced teas are about $7 as well.

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

Seafood on Cullen

Back to blogging about food places in Darwin again. There's a custom domain now. Urbanspoon has become Zomato. So much has changed in Darwin. So much has changed in my own life too.



But Seafood on Cullen has been here forever and though there are new owners, aside from slight adjustments in the selection, everything here is largely the same as it always has been. And the sunset from Cullen Bay is as colourful as ever.

Location: 51 Marina Blvd, Larrakeyah NT 0820

Website: see Facebook page and Tripadvisor

Menu: buffet for ~$40 per person (adults) and $20 per person (children under 12)

Food:

Mains - seafood selection was the standard. Oysters, mussels and prawns. Not super fresh but not too bad.



Having roast duck at this buffet was definitely the highlight. This is a new item on the menu since the changeover of owners. Now all they need is pancakes, spring onions and Hoisin sauce for Peking duck...


Chilli crab! And some other plates of mixed goods. It's hard to make buffet food look appealing in photos.




Mains - dessert is the standard fruit and bulk-made cake. The chocolate fountain is different from other buffets though.





Other: choice of indoor or outdoor seating. The lack of interior decor (mismatch in furniture and carpet colours) kind of bothered me.



Rating: 3.5/5 as much as you can expect from a buffet. An edge above the others because I love roast duck :)

Seafood on Cullen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, February 17

Char Restaurant - Darwin

A lovely family dinner from a long time ago. This will be a largely pictorial post. I'm trying to collate food pictures from the past year in chronological order and my food memory just isn't what it used to be! 


With all the new restaurants that are popping up across the CBD, Char is considered an oldie. I had heard of this well established restaurant being frequently mentioned as one of the top restaurants in Darwin, but given that we tend to make our rounds exclusively around Asian restaurants, this was our first visit.


The story goes that Char is the sibling restaurant of Cha Cha Char (what a name!) and Jellyfish in Brisbane. Admiralty House, the building pictured on the above logo and where Char is situated now, used to belong to the naval officer commanding the region. After the bombing of Darwin and 1974 cyclone, this is one of the few old-style tropical elevated houses that remain. However, there are a cluster of similar looking houses within the nearby RAAF base and this architectural style is still widespread across towns in Queensland.

Location: 70 Esplanade, Darwin. Opposite the road to the entry point of Mitchell St carpark (see map).

Website: official website and urbanspoon reviews. Also Trip Advisor has over 500 user reviews! I'm not sure why the general public in Darwin tend to use Trip Advisor more often than urbanspoon for restaurant reviews. Just on a side-note, urbanspoon now belongs to Zomato, an Indian company which is looking to expand internationally. Hence the change in the logo and website layout.

Menu: menu available on Char's website. As a guide, average price of entrees tend to ~$25, mains ~$35, steaks ~$50 and desserts $15.

Food:


Spring rolls - a complimentary dish given to us by the chef. I assume it's the same as the item on the menu - "spring rolls of braised beef kaffir lime chilli & mustard fruits with ginger dipping sauce".


Fish and chips - on the kids menu for $10-15. I didn't pick at my sister's food but let me just say that rocket, or roquette for the pretentious, isn't the best salad leaf choice for children given almost universal dislike for its rather sharp and bitter taste.


Tempura prawns - no longer on the menu, and a small entree for over $20! Char obviously has an Asian twist to its largely modern Australian menu.


Mussels - fresh mussels deliciously prepared in a tomato and herb wine sauce. Unfortunately this favourite of mine is no longer available on the current entree menu either.


Pan seared barramundi fillet - with a butter sauce, prawns and mussels. This item has also been replaced on the menu. Barramundi happens to be a favourite fish of mine. It's versatile and has a soft texture that that remains so even if it's overcooked. "Barra" is also a popular local catch found in abundance across the Northern coasts of Australia. Fishing for barra in the Northern Territory appears to be a popular hobby, and I guess the size of the fish makes it an exciting and photogenic catch.


Whole fish of the day - "crispy fried with soy and spring onion". Definite Asian inspirations there too!


Wagyu steak - with orange and fig salad. I like Char for its interesting sides that goes beyond garden and Caesar salads. The steak looks charred (funny I know) here but was actually perfectly medium-rare - pink but no dripping blood.


Other sides - you can just see the edge of a potato mash on the left, and roast vegetables on the right.


Apple & pear tart tatin - with "classic vanilla bean ice-cream, spun sugar basket". Visually tasteful, isn't it?

Other desserts - poached pear and banana "3 ways". You can see my descriptions getting briefer and briefer!



Other:


The interior design has a lot of white, making the restaurant have a sterile feel. Or clean feel, depending on your preference. There is also outdoor seating for a non wet season day!


Rating: 4.5/5 given the price range we won't be frequenting this place. But Char will remain a favourite for special occasions. The restaurant has a solid reputation in Darwin and rightfully so - although known primarily for its steaks, Char certainly does seafood well too. Consistently fresh ingredients, thoughtful sides, and no overcooked meat!

Char Restaurant on Urbanspoon