In a whole collision of weird coincidences, we were invited out to dinner. OK, let me start at the start.. a week ago, someone contacted me via LinkedIn, saying that he knew a colleague of his that used to work in eBay Australia – who was also a good friend of mine. That was Coincidence #1.
Coincidence #2 – Turns out, he lives in Shanghai too with his wife and young daughter.
Coincidence #3 – He works at Microsoft too, as does Chris
Coincidence #4 – He’s originally from Indonesia, where Chris lived when he was younger
Coincidence #5 – Him and his wife attended University of NSW (Australia), Chris and I did too
Coincidence #6 – All of us lived within 5 mins walk from each other in Australia!
Pretty bizzare, eh?! And then.. he said his wife opened a restaurant called Sydney
Delighted, we rocked up on a cold rainy night and was instantly greeted by the warmth and casual ambience of Sydney Restaurant & Lounge. Decorated like a wooden beachside hut and low-lit, it’s a popular spot for the expat crowd and was packed the whole night. The star feature is the large sand pit (with sanitised sand for the kiddies!) in the middle, an instant hit for kids and also families wanting to pop their kids in there whilst they have a meal. A pretty cool concept, and went very well with the bright red and yellow Aussie lifesaving shirts all the waiters wore. I specifically really liked how it’s a nicely decorated restaurant, with polite English-speaking staff, yet the prices were really reasonable. We shy away from Western restaurants for regular daily dining, since they’re usually exorbitantly priced, so it’s a refreshing change that this one doesn’t break the bank yet serves up great grub.
The menu is predominantly plain ‘ol Aussie straight up – pies, sausage rolls, steaks, pavlovas, and the like. However, there are also snippets of Nasi Goreng, American ribs, and Tiramisu. Why? Because in Australia, we’re all so multi-cultural that all food features on the menu. Also provides a good alternative for those that aren’t inclined for Aussie fare.
After MUCH deliberation, we finally settled on a myriad of dishes to share around – because we’re greedy and want to sample everything 😉 Kicked off with the Brighton Le Sands Greek Style Salad, named after a famous beachside area in Sydney. It had an impressive amount of crumbly feta cheese, considering cheese is hard to come by (and expensive) here in Shanghai. Also shared a platter of Three Sisters Mushrooms, which came in 3 flavours (garlic, balsamic and chili) to suit everyone – my favourite was the garlic one! Thoroughly enjoyed the Kingsford Mixed Grilled Satay, a shoutout to the suburb all of us lived in Australia – I could eat masses of the chicken satay for dinner and be quite happy.
But it’s a good thing I didn’t, because the mains came out soon afterwards and boy, did they stuff us! The Woolloomooloo Beef Pie came with creamy mash, gravy and salad. Chris thought it was the best pastry he’s had – buttery but still firm, and not dry at all. The inside of it actually smelled completely different to regular meat pies, because it’s cooked fresh and not using frozen, dodgy meat. A guy could easily eat 2 of these for dinner 😉
I opted for the Fisherman’s Pie – creamy snapper and cod fish pie topped with garlicky mashed potato, served with bechamel sauce and side salad. Freakin’ loved it. It’s not like the Waterfront restaurant’s version (which is puff pastry instead of buttery pie crust) but like a better version of Harry’s Cafe de Wheels seafood pie – which I like but often has a weird, slightly off smell. This one didn’t have any fishy smell but had tender seafood inside, though I wish there was more ‘cos it was lovely!
The Cronulla Fish N Chips came in 2 serves, because the 1st one was deemed “not good enough” 😛 The Snapper fish fillets are cooked in garlicky beer batter and come out golden, with no weird mushy batter (I hate it when places do that!). The fries though, were my favourite. Perhaps I’m just deprived of fries, but I scoffed so many my throat kinda hurt afterwards 😛 Well worth it though!
My other favourite (apart from the Fishermans Pie) was the Grilled American Style Pork Ribs with Smokey Honey Sauce. It was similar to Tony Romas version, very tender and fell apart with just a poke of my fork. There’s “all you can eat ribs” on Friday night, I think, we’ll have to go back then because one slab just ain’t enough 😉
For dessert, we had Sarah’s Pavlova with Assorted Fruit and Passionfruit Sauce, named after a lady that they flew over to Shanghai for her authentic, tried-and-tested recipe. It’s a sweet meringue topped with assorted fruit and drizzled with passionfruit sauce, and was surprisingly really nice – very light and not too sweet. I normally don’t like pavlovas by the way, very un-Australian of me but I just find them too sweet and like eating… nothing? The Sydney’s Signature Tiramisu came in a chic glass with smooth creamy tiramisu – would have preferred more of the cakey/biscuit stuff though, because I’m not a fan of cream. Chris, however, scoffed the lot 😉
We also met, coincidently, a table of people that attended a nearby Christian church, so we ended up checking it out the next day! And there was a guy dining there that we made friends with – he was in Shanghai on business with a chemical engineering company (I think) and was also a University lecturer in Georgie, teaching chemistry. It made for very interesting conversation!
Was a lovely night, and so fun to go out and meet new people. We’re definitely going back to try out more dishes.. maybe the Tom Ugly’s Aussie Burger ‘The Works’ and Flourless Chocolate Cake. And also for brunch, because the Aussie Big Breakfast is totally calling my name. Uh oh, I’m hungry again…!
Sydney Restaurant & Lounge
The center sandpit!
We brought some French red wine.. figured they may be sick of Aussine wine 😛
Brighton Le Sands Greek Style Salad
Three Sisters Mushrooms
Kingsford Mixed Grilled Satay
Woolloomooloo Beef Pie with creamy mash, gravy and salad
Fisherman’s Pie with creamy snapper and cod fish, garlicky mashed potato,
served with bechamel sauce and side salad
Grilled American Style Pork Ribs with Smokey Honey Sauce
Cronulla Fish N Chips
Sydney’s Signature Tiramisu
Sarah’s Pavlova with Assorted Fruit and Passionfruit Sauce
The happy diners