Authentic Lebanese on King St, Newtown

We were in Sydney for a quick stop over on our way to visit family in Nambucca Heads near Coffs Harbour in NSW.  Zorba the Greek was on a quest for authentic Arabic food.

Our Egyptian-Australian host, Hubba, took us to Rowda Ya Habibi on King Street in Newtown.  She warned us that the restaurant was nothing flash, but that the food was good.  To us, that’s what mattered, good food.



We walked in, and like other reviews I’ve since seen, it does look a bit dodgy – like your standard take away kebab shop that you’d visit at 1am on a Saturday night on your way home from a big night out.  But walk through the take away section into the modest restaurant out the back and allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised by great cheap food.   It is simply decorated, but that’s not what you come here for.

We were all craving mezze, so we ordered hummus, tabouli, babaganoush, falafel and stuffed vine leaves to get us started.

LidoVietnamese 1

The babaganoush was a stand out – smokey eggplant that had obviously been charred properly before being peeled and blended.

The hummus was smooth with a nice hint of garlic without being over powering.

The tabouli was just the way I like it, fresh and heavy on the parsley and light on the cracked wheat.  Tangy and tasty.

The falafel was beautiful – crunchy outer shell and soft nutty inner. They were served on a bed of tahini sauce and when mixed in a fresh slice of pitta bread with tabouli and hummus, they were beautiful. I felt like I was back in Egypt.

Vine leaves I could take or leave, they don’t float my boat and never have.









We also ordered a mixed meat platter, which was way too much food.  The meat was delicious. We each stuffed a piece of soft pitta bread with hummus, tabouli and meat.  Delicious.

The service was friendly, and reasonably efficient, although the owner serving us could have done with an extra waitress. The poor love was run off her feet.

Our resident expert Hubba said the food was authentic.  From what I had experienced travelling through the Middle East, I thought the food was authentic also.

It’s BYO also, another bonus.  Our bill for three people with left over food, came to $75.  Cheap as you like for delicious arabic cuisine as long as you are happy sitting in a plain non-descript restaurant.


Rowda Ya Habibi
101 King St
Newtown NSW 2042
Phone: (02) 95575368

Rowda Ya Habibi on Urbanspoon


In my previous post you might have read about my heart-break when I left Sydney and left a box of Zumbarons in my friend Hubba’s fridge. I was a tragedy to leave Sydney without even tasting a Zumbaron, also known as macroons when made by anyone other than the Master of All Things Sweet, Adriano Zumbo.

Hubba kindly texted me the following day mouth watering descriptions and photos of the zumbarons, just to highlight what I’d missed out on.

“I don’t know the flavour of this black one you bought, but OMG it’s amazing.”

Thanks Hubba, that would be the black vanilla flavour.

Black vanilla

Black vanilla

“These are so crispy on the outside yet slightly sticky and gooey on the inside. And that’s just the biscuit. I’m loving this flavour and could eat this all day, every day.”

Salted caramel

Salted caramel

“OMG Maggot, you missed out!  This chocolate one is amazing. Not as good as the caramel one, and I don’t normally like caramel. In heaven.”

mocha chocolate

mocha chocolate

It is my mission to eat a zumbaron or two when I am in Sydney before Easter.  If I do nothing else in Sydney except eat a zumbaron, I’ll leave satisfied.



Is Zumbo the King of Sweets?

Australian foodies know the name Adriano Zumbo. The celebrity pastry chef has a reputation for setting the most impossible and complex sweet dishes for TV Master Chef contestants to replicate.  He is known as the Pattisier of Pain.

2013-01-27 13.23.27During a recent trip to Sydney, my friend Hubba went out of her way to take me to Zumbo’s patisserie in Balmain.

The sweet treats in the display counter looked amazingly tempting.

With so many sweet treats on offer, making a decision on what to take home was difficult.

I went for the Dirty Dani ($9) and Hubba chose Mangoes and Cream ($9).

Dirty Dani and Mangoes and Cream

Dirty Dani and Mangoes and Cream

We also bought half a dozen Zumbarons or macaroons as most other people know them.

We couldn’t wait to get home (back to Hubba’s place) to eat.

The Dirty Dani was delectable. Eight layers of deliciousness, consisting of caramel creme chantilly, passionfruit creme, salted caramel mou, hazelnut dacquoise, caramel crunch, milk chocolate plaques.  The crunch of the thin and delicate chocolate, teamed with the smoothness of the custardy cream, with the salted caramel cutting through the sweetness.  I was in heaven. Seriously.

Dirty Dani

Dirty Dani

Hubba’s Mangoes and Cream was fruity and smooth with a crunchy biscuit base.

I tasted the Mangoes and Cream, and whilst it was something special, pretty amazing even, it was no match for the Dirty Dani.  Chocolate and caramel are no match for fruit and cream in my book.

After much arguing, Hubba convinced me to take the box of macaroons back to Perth with me and share them with my husband Zorba.  On my insistence, I left Hubba the liquorice flavoured macaroon that she had chosen and decided to take the rest home.

It wasn’t until we were almost at the airport that Hubba and I both realised that I left the box of macaroons in her fridge. Tragedy!! She offered to do a u-turn and go home to get them, but there was no time. I had a flight to catch. Bugger bugger bugger. I left Sydney without even trying a Zumbo macaroon!

Hubba however did eat the macaroons and texted me several times to tell me all about them.

“Oh my God. Crispy thin wafer shell with a slightly gooey centre and then you hit the filling. The flavour explosion is unbelievable!”

Yes, thank you for that text Hubba, and the following five texts that followed.

I missed out on trying blackened vanilla, salted butter caramel, citrus, chocolate, and hazelnut. Just as well I have another trip to Sydney to coming up for a night before Easter!

Not macaroons, Zumbarons

Not macaroons, Zumbarons

Adriano Zumbo Patisserie on Urbanspoon


Adrian Zumbo Patisserie
296 Darling St, Balmain NSW 2040

Open Monday to Saturday 8am to 6pm and Sundays 8am to 5pm.

Totally automatic check in

I went to Sydney last weekend and had the most pleasant Perth Airport experience of my life. I know, hard to believe. But it’s true.

Firstly, I looked deep inside myself and learned that I could in fact fly Qantas again, despite all the company’s recent bad press . Seriously, Qantas has to be better than Tiger, doesn’t it? At least Qantas were the ones to choose not to fly and told the unions to stick it, not instructed by Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) that they have to ground their fleet!

Automatic check in Sydney Airport, bad drop conveyor belts in the background

The whole airport process was easy and automatic. I checked in at home, printed off my boarding pass and took it with me. Once at the airport, I scanned by boarding pass in the automatic check in machine and out popped a luggage tag for my suitcase. I wheeled my suitcase about five metres over to the Bag Drop conveyor belt, stuck the luggage tag on, placed my suitcase on the conveyor belt where it was weighed (17.1kg – pretty good for me!). I was fully checked in and ready to board.

That took five minutes. No queues, no waiting, straight through. It is quite amazing really, given that I have spent up to three hours at Perth Airport queuing in the past.

Automatic check in at Sydney Airport

I was telling my intrepid friend, Hubba (who features in many blog posts in 2010), that the check in was fully automatic. When I left Sydney, homeward bound to Perth, I encountered the same thing – fully automatic check in. It’s pretty cool.

We leave for our big family holiday in four days! So so so exciting.. I don’t expect the check in at the international airport will be so automatic…

Til next time!

Tetsuya’s Restaurant, Sydney

O. M. G. Tetsuya’s is one of the most expensive dining experiences I have ever had and it was also one of the best, making the saying ring true, “you get what you pay for”.

It’s all about the food and excellent service at Tetsuya’s.  As it should be.  At prices that make it one of the most expensive restaurants in Australia, my expectations were high, and they were surpassed!  At $210 per person for the ten course degustation menu plus another $95 for matching wines, I was already $300 lighter and that was without an aperitif, digestive, and water.

The menu:

Our menu

and the paired wines:

Matching wines

The second spectacular course, savoury custard with avruga. Avruga is a type of seafood – a black caviar if you like, and a new taste sensation for me. This dish was Hubba’s favourite by far. She is still talking about it!  The balance of flavours was dazzling.  Delicate and delectable as well as warm and comforting.

Savoury custard with Avruga

Salad of the sea

The next course, salad of the sea, was visually beautiful and again, deliciously tasty. A lovely mix of textures and flavours.

The NZ scampi with chicken liver parfait and walnut vinaigrette was lovely too. The servings are very teeny tiny, makes me wonder if the effort of putting that dish together was all worth it.  Not complaining – it was delicious.  Just a comment.

Following was Tetsuya’s signature dish, Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with fennel, unpasteurised ocean trout caviar.  Oh yes.  Silky, soft, amazing and it felt really fresh.  The salty caviar with the sublime ocean trout was one signature dish that I’ll remember for years to come.

Tetsuya’s signature dish: Confit of Petuna ocean trout with fennel, unpasteurised ocean trout caviar

I haven’t mentioned the wine! The Riesling, a 2009 Tunkalilla by Brian Croser from Oregon in the USA was so moorish.  Best riesling I think I have ever had.  Do you know the most exciting part – the next wine we had, was the 2010 Pierro Chardonnay from Margaret River!  One of my favourite wineries in the Margaret River region, renowned for top quality expensive wine. I felt a bit worldly knowing about this wine when it was presented! All the wines were good, but these were the two that stood out for me.

The rest of the dishes were phenomenal – I could describe each one in detail, but it would be a lie.  Why? Because I was having too much of a good time catching up with great friends, and enjoying the matching wines…that everything after the first five courses is slightly blurry in the memory banks. But luckily, my photos are not!

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There is no fancy decor, themed rooms, expensive artworks, ornate chandeliers or the like – the decor is pleasant, refined, elegant, and understated.

Dining at Tetsuya’s is a once in a lifetime experience.  It is hideously expensive, seriously ridiculously expensive, but you know what, I’d do it all again. It was sublime and the sort of dining experience I will think about and relish over again and again and over again.  So, if you were to average the cost of each memory, it’s not that expensive really…

Thank you Tetsuya’s for a wonderful night x


Testsuya’s Restaurant
529 Kent St, Sydney
Tel: 02 9267 2900

Ten course degustation menu starts from $210pp and matching wines at $95pp.
There is valet parking at $20 per vehicle.
It’s open for Saturday lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday. Booking is essential.

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon