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Monday, January 16, 2017

Yang Tz River, Eastwood

Jajangmyeon Korean Chinese black bean noodle at Yang Tz River in Eastwood

If you’ve ever watched a Korean drama – and if you haven’t, you should – there would have been at least one scene featuring black bean noodles. In South Korea, jajangmyeon is as ubiquitous as pizza – cheap, fast, home-delivered and hugely popular with anyone too lazy to cook. The dish has its roots in the Shandong dish zhajiangmian, but now it’s a Korean Chinese classic made with thick ropes of wheat noodles sauced up with sweetened black bean paste, chunks of pork and loads of onion. Its near-black appearance also makes it a nationwide favourite on Black Day, when singles meet up to commiserate on April 14 each year.

Jajangmyeon Korean Chinese black bean noodle ready to mix at Yang Tz River in Eastwood
Ganjjajang black bean noodles $15

But if you’re not toasting to dinner for one you can try jajangmyeon and other Korean Chinese food at Yang Tz River in Eastwood (also spelled Yangtze on the door), one of the few restaurants in Sydney focussing on the fusion cuisine that dates back to the late 1800s. We bet most people walk straight past the entrance – there are two and both feature nondescript staircases leading up from the street. Inside the dated dining room you’ll find the place filled with homesick Koreans getting their jajangmyeon fix, which is a very good sign.

Black bean pork and onion on top of noodles - Jajangmyeon Korean Chinese bean noodle at Yang Tz River in Eastwood
Ganjjajang black bean noodles ready to mix

Jajangmyeon is good, but for maximum credibility, upgrade to the fancier ganjjajang ($15) and the kitchen will panfry a load of diced vegetables into a thicker black bean sauce. Just like jajangmeyon, the sauce and the noodles arrive separately so you can mix them together in ratios that please you.

Mixing Jajangmyeon Korean Chinese black bean noodle at Yang Tz River in Eastwood
Tossing together the ganjjajang black bean noodles 

Jajangmyeon Korean Chinese black bean noodle ready to eat at Yang Tz River in Eastwood
Ganjjajang black bean noodles ready to eat

Traditional accompaniments to jajangmyeon and ganjjajang are kimchi, slices of yellow pickled daikon and raw onion that you dip in black bean sauce. Eat them in between mouthfuls of the oily noodles.

Adding mustard sauce to yang jang pi at Yang Tz River in Eastwood
Yang jang pi seafood and vegetable noodles $16

Like throwing your food around? Order the yang jang pi ($16) and you can mess up a neatly arranged rainbow of prawns, squid, mussels, jellyfish, octopus, vegetables and stir-fried noodles into one big glorious muddle. Then you need to add as much sinus-clearing mustard sauce as you can handle.

Tossing together the yang jang pi with mustard at Yang Tz River in Eastwood
Tossing together the seafood, vegetables and noodles with mustard sauce

Yang jang pi seafood and vegetables at Yang Tz River in Eastwood
Yang jang pi seafood and vegetable noodles

Ggan poong gi sweet and sticky Korean fried chicken at Yang Tz River in Eastwood
Ggan poong gi sweet and spicy Korean fried chicken $26

Sure you could cave into ordering lemon chicken, chop suey or shredded beef, but if you do you’ll be missing out on what every other family in the joint knows, which is that you should order the ggan poong gi ($26). The reward is a jumble of deep fried chicken fillets drenched in a sweet and sticky spicy sauce.

Korean fried chicken, yang jang pi seafood vegetable salad and jajangmyeon black bean noodle at Yang Tz River in Eastwood


Yang Tz River Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yang Tz River
22 Railway Parade, Eastwood, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9874 6557

Open daily 12pm-9pm


This article appeared in the December 2016 issue of Time Out Sydney. Read online here or read more of my Time Out Sydney reviews.

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 1/16/2017 02:03:00 am


Sunday, January 08, 2017

Queen Chow by Merivale at Queens Hotel, Enmore

Tobiko on top of stir fried milk with prawns and fried bread at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore

If you haven't tried stir-fried milk, you need to rectify this. Immediately. It's one of the highlights at the newly opened Queen Chow, finally flinging open its doors in December after months of delays. But you know what? The wait has been worth it. There's been some serious investment in the concept, fit-out and menu by the Merivale group, resulting in a quirky mash-up of suburban hotel bar meets Hong Kong street food headed by executive chefs Patrick Friesen and Chris Hogarth, both ex-Papi Chulo.

Downstairs bar at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Ground floor bar at Queen Chow

Merivale look to be rebranding Enmore's Queen Victoria Hotel as Queens Hotel but I reckon locals will always call it the Queen Vic. The ground floor has been overhauled from RSL-style bistro to an old-fashioned pub. The small dining tables at the back score a view of all the action in the kitchen.

Upstairs dining area at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Upstairs dining area

Upstairs the changes are even more dramatic, with a moody cocktail bar area called The Smelly Goat. The covered outdoor dining area is immediately worth seeking, bathed in natural light but cleverly sheltered from any wind or rain.

Scallop and prawn, jade seafood, wild mushroom and crystal pumpkin dim sum at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Queen Chow steamed dim sum platter $32

Housemade dumplings headline the Hong Kong-themed menu at lunchtime. Dim sum master Eric Koh previously worked his dumpling magic with Merivale at Mr Wong before being poached by Tim Ho Wan Australia. He then returned to the Merivale fold with dim sum pop-up Work in Progress before joining the Queen Chow crew.

Wild mushroom dumpling at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Wild mushroom dumpling

Dumplings may be a dime a dozen in Sydney but there's a noticeable level of finesse in the dumplings by Koh. The skins are thin and just the right level of stickiness, steamed so the dumplings are still plump and juicy without feeling soggy or waterlogged.

You can order dumplings individually, but the easiest way to try several at once is to order the steamed dim sum platter. The dumplings vary by day - today we score the scallop and prawn, jade seafood, wild mushroom and crystal pumpkin.

The scallop and prawn dumpling is adorned with a generous splodge of tobiko flying fish roe and the jade seafood dumpling skin is tinted a pretty shade of green by using spinach. The crystal pumpkin is expectedly sweet, with an impressive translucency to the tapioca and wheat starch skins. My surprise favourite of the lot is the wild mushroom, yielding an intense umami hit.

Stir fried milk with prawns, tobiko and fried bread at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Stir fried milk, prawns, prawn roe, tobiko and fried bread $24

Equally satisfying is the stir fried milk. This Hong Kong classic involves a mixture of egg whites, milk and corn starch carefully heated until the mixture barely sets. Add in sweet chunks of prawn and an avalanche of tobiko and relish the textural contrast against the wobbly clouds of milky egg white.

We do find the you tiao deep fried bread sticks a little on the dense and chewy side, but expect these to improve as the kitchen finds its feet.

Hokkien noodles wih Sichuan pork slices and black fungi at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Hokkien noodles, Sichuan pork slices, black fungi and garlic stems $24

There's no mention of chilli against the Hokkien noodle dish but be warned, this one packs a punch. It's a satisfying, and sambal-heavy tangle of chewy Hokkien noodles tossed with tender pork slices, crunchy black fungus, crisp garlic stems and a smattering of sesame seeds.

Slightly fires the emperor of cuttlefish, macadamia and garlic chive at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Slightly fires the emperor of cuttlefish, macadamia and garlic chive $16

Winner of most poetic dish on the menu is the slightly fires the emperor, a textural crunchfest of garlic stems, young corn, cuttlefish, black fungus and macadamia nuts.

Chong Qing hot and numbing chicken wings at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Chong Qing hot and numbing chicken wings $18

And if you're looking for maximum flavour, Chong Qing hot and numbing chicken wings deliver on its promise. There's a ridiculous amount of Sichuan pepper in here, coupled with dried red chillies that will wallop your tongue into submission. But you won't be able to stop eating that chicken, fried to an audible crisp and dancing with chilli and mouth-numbing Sichuan pepper.

Typhoon shelter mud crab at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Typhoon shelter mud crab market price - we paid $140 for 1kg

If you really want to splash out - and we're celebrating two birthdays so we do - go for broke and order the typhoon shelter mud crab. You'll be rewarded with enough deep fried garlic to ward off all of Transylvania. It's one big mess of garlic, chilli, black beans and soy.

Carapace crab meat inside the typhoon shelter mud crab at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Crab goodness inside the carapace

Go in with your fingers and lick, suck and scrape every last skerrick of crab meat that you can find. The best bits are in the carapace of course.

Coffee milk tea dessert at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Coffee milk tea $15

Unlike most Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong, dessert is not just a bowl of the housemade red bean soup. Coffee milk tea is a clever homage to the Hong Kong addiction to coffee and tea mixed together in the one drink. Yes, really.

Queen Chow's assembly of chocolate mud cake bites and caramel ice domes (infused with tea and then bruleed to the surface is caramelised) piled high with instant coffee mousse is far more pleasurable. Its combination of cream and coffee flavours is reminiscent of tiramisu. Tiny salted caramel balls and a shower of praline dust provide textural interest.

The forgotten koi fish in the frozen pond at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
The forgotten koi fish in the frozen pond $15

The forgotten koi fish in the frozen pond is a story you'll have to ask your waiter about. Tastewise, it's just the kind of dessert you want in a Sydney summer, combining fresh coconut, mango and pink pomelo with lychee granita, mango ice cream and two beautifully shaped and shaded koi fish made from mango pudding. The purple frilly pieces are tosaka seaweed. They add a terrific savoury note.

Head chef Patrick Friesen in the kitchen at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Executive chef Patrick Friesen in the kitchen

And the best news of all? Queen Chow is open until 2am every night except Sunday. Win.

Queen Chow by Merivale at the Queen Victoria Hotel in Enmore

Queen Chow 
Queens Hotel (aka the Queen Victoria Hotel)
167 Enmore Road, Enmore, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9240 3000

Opening hours
Monday to Thursday 12pm-2am

Friday 12pm-3am
Saturday 10am-3am
Sunday 10am-10pm


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 1/08/2017 03:16:00 am


Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: The food that was

St Honore at Sixpenny in Stanmore

2016. Where did you go? It was a tumultuous year on a global scale but there were still moments of joy and happiness, many of them close to home. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the low points but it's important to note the good times, and acknowledge all the things we take for granted every day.

I'm grateful for family ties, the strong bonds of friendship and the good deeds of strangers. Without getting all sentimental and philosophical, here are my favourite food blog memories of 2016.

Alexander palm heart, native honey and green ants at Restaurant Orana in Adelaide
Alexander palm heart, native honey and green ants at Restaurant Orana 

I loved returning to Sixpenny and still being swept away by the menu, especially by the St Honore tart, dressed individually with shaved black truffle for ultimate decadence.

And then there was the wonderment experienced at my first visit to Restaurant Orana in Adelaide, using a whole raft of indigenous ingredients that was perplexing, playful and pleasurable all at once. I spent just as much time staring at the Alexander palm hearts with green ants as I did eating it.

Cooking chicken and cheese saaj at the Ramadan food festival in Lakemba Sydney
Cooking chicken and cheese saaj at the Ramadan food festival in Lakemba 

I'm so glad, too, that I finally ventured out to Lakemba for the Ramadan food festival. There's such a terrific family atmosphere here, and the range of street food options is amazing (and cheap!).

Bar Normandy at Restaurant Hubert by Dan Pepperell, Sydney
Bar Normandy at Restaurant Hubert

Restaurant Hubert still remains one of my favourite restaurants, despite the difficulty in scoring a table. It's like escaping to another world once you descend down the stairs, and the steak tartare is magnifique.

Crisp potato, brown butter mousse and salted caramel at Bar Brose in Darlinghurst
Crisp potato, brown butter mousse and salted caramel at Bar Brose

Of the new restaurant openings, Bar Brose wins hands down for best dessert. The crisp potato shards with brown butter mousse brings new meaning to toe-curlingly good.

Chef Mike Eggert on the wok station at the new Good Luck Pinbone in Kensington
Chef Mike Eggert on the woks at Good Luck Pinbone

And it was exciting to see the Pinbone crew return with the opening of Good Luck Pinbone in Kensington. The chongqing crispy spatchcock is incredible. And I still think they should have gone with one of their alternative restaurant name options, Imperial Pinbone Palace!

Chef Jovan Curic on the pass at his new Superior Burger joint in Wakeley
Chef Jovan Curic on the pass at Superior Burger 

And Pub Life Kitchen moved west, bringing Superior Burger to lucky Wakeley locals. Few people put as much love and attention into the sourcing and ageing of their beef patties as Jovan.

My SMH Good Food cover story on Sydney's Top 12 Noodle Soups
Sydney's Top 12 Noodle Soups cover story for Good Food, June 2016

In-between blogging and full-time work, I continued freelance food writing with a cover story for Good Food on Sydney's Top 12 Noodle Soups, a slurp-fest to combat the wintry months.

You can read the full article here.

Sydney's Top 50 Cheap Eats for the SMH Good Food Guide 2017 by Helen Yee

Top 50 Cheap Eats for the SMH Good Food Guide 2017

I also continued my work on the review team with the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. This year my Cheap Eats list was expanded from Top 20 Eats to Top 50, offering a greater opportunity to highlight the unsung heroes of suburban eats. The Top 50 Cheap Eats made the cover story for Good Food in June 2016 and was included in the SMH Good Food Guide.

You can read the full list online.

I was also interviewed by Good Food on how to take the perfect food photo for social media.

Interviewed by Lee Tran Lam at Rising Sun Workshop for her The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry podcast
Being interviewed by Lee Tran Lam at Rising Sun Workshop 

And after listening to so many episodes of Lee Tran Lam's The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry podcast, it was surreal to be cast in the hot seat myself, over a meal at Rising Sun Workshop.

You can access the links to the podcast on Lee Tran's blog post.

Snapper with roe emulsion and fermented cucumber at Lumi Dining in Pyrmont
Snapper with roe emulsion, fermented cucumber and caviar at Lumi Dining 

My birthday has always fallen during the exam period at school but now that those days are over, it's so great to celebrate just before the craziness of the holiday season. I had my birthday lunch at Lumi Dining and really blown away by how innovative the menu is, whilst still upholding a great sense of respect for each individual ingredient.

Chef's Menu banquet at Stanbuli in Enmore
Chef's Menu banquet at Stanbuli 

Celebrations continued with the Chef's Menu at Stanbuli in Enmore. If your idea of heaven is a table-covering banquet of dishes presented in multiple courses, bookmark this now.

Christmas dinner snacks of foie gras profiteroles with oysters, prawn crackers and steak tartare with Stomachs Eleven
Christmas dinner snacks of foie gras profiteroles with oysters, prawn crackers and steak tartare with Stomachs Eleven

And as always, the year finished off with our annual Stomachs Eleven Christmas dinner, a night of good food, drink and much merriment.

As the year draws to a close, I really do wish you all a very Happy New Year. Thanks so much for all your comments and likes on the blog, Facebook and Instagram!

May your year ahead be filled with tasty eats, happiness and lots of laughter.

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/31/2016 04:31:00 pm


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Stomachs Eleven Christmas Dinner 2016

Sydney rock oysters, foie gras croquembouche and Malaysian prawn cracker at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016

Let's face it. The best part about Christmas is the food. And eating it with your loved ones. Sure we all have dysfunctional families and friends that drive you crazy sometimes but who wants to squabble when there's a groaning table of plenty to be eaten? If there's one thing that Asians do well, it's hiding emotions with food.

Our annual Christmas dinner with Stomachs Eleven is always one I look forward to, and not just because Pig Flyin is such an incredible home cook. I love that our circle of friendship took root from a Flickr photography group that broadened to include siblings and school mates. Now there are kids and babies and suddenly we're celebrating our 8th Christmas dinner together.

Steak tartare with dry aged Belted Galloway sirloin and Malaysian prawn crackers at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Steak tartare with dry aged Belted Galloway sirloin and Malaysian prawn crackers

We start with snacks outside on the new verandah. Homemade steak tartare using dry aged Belted Galloway sirloin from Feather & Bone is tender, piquant and ridiculously addictive. We spoon them on giant prawn crackers I'd brought back from Malaysia and fried in Pig Flyin's kitchen. The prawn crackers are super thick and sturdy, making them an ideal carriage for the tartare.

Two kinds of Malaysia prawn crackers at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Two kinds of Malaysia prawn crackers

The other prawn crackers I'd brought back are much thinner in texture but stronger in prawn flavour. Neither of them are as foamy or airy as the regular prawn crackers you get in the Asian grocery store. These have a much better density and crunch.

Thai-inspired pineapple and shrimp paste chutney at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Thai-inspired pineapple and shrimp paste chutney

We dip both kinds of prawn crackers in the Thai-inspired pineapple and shrimp paste chutney. "I just made it up," says Pig Flyin when we ask him which recipe he used. It's tangy and salty and sweet.

Freshly shucked Sydney Rock oysters at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters

And it's not an Aussie Christmas without seafood. Freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters are one of the most divine things you can eat. Just a simple squeeze of fresh lime is all you need to amplify that deliciously bracing brininess that brings echoes of the sea.

Profiterole filled with whipped foie gras and coated in bitter toffee at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Profiterole filled with whipped foie gras and coated in bitter toffee

But the piece de resistance is the croquembouche! I'd presumed this was for dessert but its filling of foie gras makes it a stellar sweet and savoury snack. The choux pastry puffs are piped with whipped bloc de foie gras de canard or duck liver and then dipped with bitter caramel. The puffs are assembled into a tower and strewn with bitter toffee strands.

A video posted by Helen (@grabyourfork) on

Watching this slow motion video of toffee strands being made is so calming and therapeutic!

Balmain bug katsu dogs with homemade tartare sauce at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Balmain bug katsu dogs with homemade tartare sauce

Our second round of snacks includes these Balmain bug katsu dogs that Pig Flyin affectionately calls "bug dogs".

Balmain bug in panko crumb at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Balmain bug in panko crumb

This is the most luxe variation on a hot dog you can imagine! A soft bun holds the crunchy panko-crumbed Balmain bug, its tender flesh contrasted against velvety butter lettuce leaves and a creamy homemade tartare sauce.

Toads in the hole at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Toads in the hole

We also score a little nod to England with these toads in the hole. Baby Kransky sausages languish in airy beds of fluffy and crisp Yorkshire pudding.

Drizzling olive oil over marinated kingfish head and collar at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Drizzling olive oil over marinated kingfish head and collar

We're all big fans of fish heads and collars. Pig Flyin picked up a kingfish head and collar from the fish markets. These were marinated and then cooked in his Kamado barbecue.

Kingfish head and collar on the barbecue at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Kingfish head and collar on the barbecue

Barbecued kingfish head and collar at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Barbecued kingfish head and collar

The smoky char on the kingfish head and collar is too enticing to resist. We plunder a bounty of flesh from each, wrapping mouthfuls in lettuce leaves to eat.

Five types of cherry tomato salad with basil and mint at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Five types of cherry tomato salad with basil and mint

A huge bowl of tomato salad holds five varieties of cherry tomatoes. They vary in sweetness, juiciness and acidity. It's such a festive salad, especially with the Christmassy green basil and mint leaves.

Red emperor fish wrapped in salt dough at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Red emperor fish wrapped in salt dough

But the main event is yet to come. A huge red emperor fish is wrapped in salt dough and baked in the oven while we eat.

Cutting open the salt dough after baking at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Cutting open the salt dough after baking

By the time we've started attacking the kingfish, the salt dough crust on the red emperor has turned a golden shade of brown .

Baked red emperor wrapped in fig leaves and salt dough at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Baked red emperor wrapped in fig leaves and salt dough

The salt dough is cut open to reveal the red emperor snuggled up beneath a blanket of fig leaves.

Red emperor baked in salt dough with green leaf salad dressed with apple cider vinaigrette at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Red emperor baked in salt dough with green leaf salad dressed with apple cider vinaigrette

You can really smell the aroma of fig leaves when the fish is brought to the table. The flesh is firm and nuanced with a smoky fruitiness from the fig leaves. Others detect a strong smell of coconut too.

Grilled nectarine and plum with fresh pineapple and mint salad at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Grilled nectarine and plum with fresh pineapple and mint salad

Our final dish is one of my favourites, a grilled nectarine and plum salad accented with fresh pineapple and mint. It's such a summery dish, and the gentle acidity of fruits works so well with both fish.

Homemade fig leaf ice cream with fresh figs at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Homemade fig leaf ice cream with fresh figs

The fig leaf theme continues with dessert. We can barely fit another mouthful in but manage to find room for a scoop of homemade fig leaf ice cream served alongside fresh figs.

Candied rhubarb at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Candied rhubarb

Over cups of tea we chew on candied rhubarb, its signature tang mellowed with sugar.

Duck fat caramels at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Duck fat caramels

And then there are homemade duck fat caramels, dusted with crunchy flakes of sea salt.

Sydney rock oysters, foie gras croquembouche, Malaysian prawn cracker and steak tartare at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016

Wherever you are, and whoever you're with, I hope you have a terrific holiday of feasting over the coming week!


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Stomachs Eleven Christmas - 2015 |  2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/24/2016 03:18:00 pm



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