Restaurants Bondi Junction, NSWKam Fook is not just for yum cha during the day. We decided to visit on a Saturday evening recently. It was quiet, perhaps their patrons were still away on holidays. At this restaurant, one can point at the water creatures in their aquarium to pick out what you wish to eat - don't do this at home. As there were 9 of us, we sat at the furthest end from the entrance at the large table.
It didn't take long before we were given menus to choose from the numerous dishes. The menus were a bit tattered and old (not in line with the overall quality of this restaurant) but I was quite taken aback by the number of dishes they offer. From experience, too many menu items meant that the kitchen can be disorganised and foodstuff less than premium condition. However, this was not the case when our food came.
Table service was a little disappointing due to seemingly inexperienced waitstaff but the head waiter was good help and saved the day. The waitstaff had spilled sauce from a dish due to holding it at an angle. Placement on the large 'Lazy Susan' was also quite haphazard as they try to fit all the dishes in. We were happy all dishes came out almost within 10 minutes. We ordered 9 dishes ranging from a fish, a beef, a couple of chicken, prawns, tofu, a fried rice and vegies. All dishes were presented well and tasted delicious. We would be back more often if it was not for the high end pricing and eating standard which this restaurant represented. When you have important dinner guests, this place will fit the bill - not your suburbia Chinese restaurant, unless you know a good one.
Cafes Bondi Junction, NSWThis is truly a place that 'Chocoholics Anonymous' should definitely avoid! From whatever angle you look at this, it's all chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! To the left of the entry, we found 2 large tubs churning chocolate and it almost felt like we've entered the world of Willy Wonka. The store atmosphere is very warm and welcoming and it's probably the dark browns of the chocolate themed interior design.
The staff serving us at the counter was really friendly and upbeat. Due to our large group (9 in total), taking our order must have been painful as there were ums-and-ahs before we made our picked our desired item from the extensive menu. Nevertheless, the team member never flinched and patiently took our orders. Each one of us must have changed our minds at least once - such was the offering on the menu. We had to join 3 tables together and this was easy enough, but this was late evening and there number of other patrons were sparse.
Our orders came quite soon and greeted with Ooohs and Aaahs. Once we chomped into our chocolate and strawberry fondues, took our chocolate shots and gulped down our chocolate inspired cappuccinos (served in a kangaroo cup!), we felt truly satisfied and sick (in a good way). Oh well, off to the gym to burn off those calories. Must visit again!
Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt Bankstown, NSWAnother outlet sprang up in our local neigbourhood Centro, hardly ten days old, it's in a very convenient location on Level 2 near the centre's Jacob Street exit where the bus stops are. When you come in from the summer heat, you see Moochi straightaway and may fall into temptation for something nice and cold. Something different about this fro-yo (frozen yoghurt), it's got mochi in them of course. Little bits of chewy and gummy glutinous balls mixed in with several flavours of fro-yo. It's delicious. We visited the kiosk on a Sunday afternoon and there were two queues of at least six deep with the staff in full swing trying very hard to keep up. Friendly and hip service with a smile at the counter as you make your decision. Despite the throng, the team member took a little time for small talk and personalise the order taking. Time in the queue was an opportunity to decide what to have. After our order was taken, we waited at the side for our turn. Staff hurriedly scooped toppings onto the Moochis and called out customers' names. So organised and systematic; they hardly stumble over each other when there were five the behind the counter, not including the two staff taking orders at the tills. Prompt and happy service. A little pricey but you get something unique and refreshingly delicious. Would try again.
Bakeries Bankstown, NSWNot another retail bread shop I hear you say. This one is different from the other large franchises - it's family run and you get personal service. From time to time, one of their staff will stand outside and entice you to try a bite sized offering of one of their baked products. We were inducted to this shop in this way and were pleasantly surprised at how neat and tidy the store was. The main island cabinet is all glass and you get a full eyeful of all the goodies on offer. Baked buns, breads and scrolls were all looking so glowing and appetising. We felt we had to try them all. Along each wall, more glass cabinets presented cakes and more buns. They don't bake too many of each variety and we got there in time to purchase some freshly baked egg tarts at 3pm!
They have table settings for customers that wish to have a coffee and bun there and then at the front of the store and at the rear. No need for you to eat your buns whilst being eyed by Bankstown pigeons.
They also do special cake orders for occasions such as birthdays and had an album near the counter, especially for kids with their favourite animated characters in mind.
The baked goods here were cheaper than the other stores and tasted just as good. Most of the buns are under $2 and many are 10 or 20 cents cheaper than the other bread shops. You can't beat egg tarts at 50 cents each! (bulk buy). We would definitely visit them again.
Cafes Revesby, NSWThey've changed management since our last review, the customer service is consistent and premises seem better maintained - improvement in cleanliness and general tidiness. As with most GJs, one can taste variations in the coffee, though they've always used GJ's Special Blend. I always drink soy latte and over the past several visits, found them to be inconsistent. However, this is understandable as they have different baristas at different times, even though it looks like they use the same soy milk.
Restaurants Bankstown, NSWGood customer service, nice clean premises - they're the newest kid on the block when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine and the ubiquitous Pho. They're in a good location on Chapel Road (South), however, this puts them in direct competition with four other Vietnamese eateries within a couple of minutes walk of each other literally. We were here for Sunday lunch (our first time) and the restaurants was not full. There were ample comfortable seating and with elbow room unlike others where seating is a little squeezy. The room was air-conditioned and a welcome climate from the heat, dust and noise. There was ambient music from the TV playing a Vietnamese songstress concert. Service was prompt as expected and friendly. There was a laminated 'specials' colour menu with pictures of dishes often ordered and a printed (or photocopied) black and white stapled paper menu (no pictures). A little odd with the menu presentation but understandable - probably still testing the market and a more permanent menu would be forthcoming. Looked like good value for money as many dishes were around the $10 mark.
The table service was attentive and satisfactory. We were able to quickly place our order - all beef noodle soup - yum! Portion sizes were good and satisfying, although one wonders how different is a small from a large besides the bowl as we didn't see a very obvious portion difference. The beef noodle soup was not the best that these taste buds have experienced but felt home-made - it's nice.
Overall it's good but they haven't won me over yet - perhaps another visit to try other dishes. We shall also see if they have adjusted any of their dishes to win the market - with eateries customers definitely vote with their taste buds (and feet).
Cafes Bankstown, NSWWe've been here several times over the years and most recently on Sunday for lunch. The standard impression from each visit has been pretty much the same. This is a family run restaurant that doesn't scream for your attention but commanded a prominent spot - an ideal spot to rest from shopping or catch up with friends. The seating and layout is fairly standard and neat, with booth seating and freestanding tables/chairs. Capacity is around 40-50. The decor is a mellow pastel peach colour that exudes conservatism and a bit dated - your 80's mob would feel most at home. Nothing out of the ordinary but highly pragmatic.
Their specialty is pancakes as the name so obviously suggests. The menu has a good variety of pancakes and other foods. We have had many of the different types of pancake meals from the menu and then some other dishes, such as bacon and cheese melts and waffles. Taste factor is good. The pancakes are soft, not doughy or dry. If you order pancakes, they will always bring out maple syrup. The Ranch Style Pancakes large meal is presented with a quirky smiley face (2 eggs for eyes, sausage for mouth, bacon for hair, tomato slices for ears and over 4 pancakes completing the face) - very filling.
The staff is very helpful and prompt but seems so engrossed and busy that they forget to smile. We had 2 different young ladies serve us and they both work very hard, cleaning and serving food, although there were only about 7 groups of customers (taking up only about less than a third of the seating).
Although it's table service, the standard method to pay for your meal is to take your bill to the front counter (which doubles as a barista station). They only accept cash, so you need to allow for around $10-15 per person. The cash only basis saves on a lot of overhead costs but the food isn't economical either, and you'll be hard pressed to find other reasonably priced pancakes nearby.
All in all, generally average with consistent standards and a nice place to stopover on a busy shopping day. To take it to the next level, I'd recommend improving on customer rapport skills and enable alternative payment methods. We would come again.
Associations & Unions Padstow, NSWWe can probably say we're fairly regular patrons here. We visited again last night (Thursday) during the tail end of peak meal period and this venue was just under 50% full. We ordered the meal deal again (good value at $46.80). The variety and combinations of dishes one can have with this deal continue to make meal time interesting. We've tried quite a few of the dishes and have come back for our favourites again. They've maintained most of the standards we've come to expect - short wait time, comfortable seating, prompt service. This time around two of our favourite dishes seemed different. We can only suspect a change of chef but stopped short of asking. The flavour of the sizzling beef was a little lacking and the King To Ribs were spiced differently. Don't forget to ask for refills of your hot Chinese tea - it's complimentary.
General Retailers Lidcombe, NSWAfter hearing all the things about Costco, we manage to make our first trip to the warehouse in Auburn. The carpark entries are either at the front (off Parramatta Road) or via a side road. Entering the carpark (on a Sunday) and you can imagine how busy it is. It is definitely a car park with vehicles moving very slowly or stopped waiting for a spot.
The store entry was either via the long ramp or the hospital size elevators, enough to fit at least 4 trolleys. The thing that hits us first was the smell of cooked food and the queues of people. The signs are so large that you won't miss the prices and what food is on offer. After queuing for the 18" pizza and drinks for 5, the wallet's only about $25 lighter. The humongus pizza feeds a family - the first sign of value to come inside the store. The membership is currently $60 (or $55 if you have a business/ABN) - almost cost of cup of coffee monthly. Members are not just 'members' but immediately awarded the Gold status? The member cards are printed and issued straightaway but they'll need to take your mugshot.
It's strictly members only (and guests) entry to the store and diligently monitored by the entrance 'bouncers' asking, 'Card please'. Cards are flashed in their faces but I'm sure they don't know if the cardholder is the owner of the membership. Make sure you pick up your trolley from the carpark (or you'll have to make another trip down there). The trolleys are huge and perfect if you have twins as the toddler seating holds 2. These are not easy to maneuver and makes me wish that 90% of the people there had been taken through their L's in order to drive the trolleys. I can assure you there were plenty of bingles, due to partly driver, partly the rear wheels are fixed straight (unlike the usual Coles/Woolies/other trolleys). But isn't this the case with most cars?
The warehouse store has very, I mean very high, ceilings with huge white spot lights. I almost needed sunglasses in there. Goods are stacked so high and dwarfing the throngs of people. Goods that are for sale continue to be accessible at the ground floor level of the industrial shelvings. It's no wonder trolleys fill up quickly as you will find mostly bulk buys. Almost all sorts of merchandise you could possibly want in a warehouse buying environment - electronics, food, frozen meats, breads & pastry, fresh vegies (held in a large cool room - brrr!), household products, clothing, books, toys, outdoor needs (I saw a plastic kayak for sale).
Towards the rear of the store, or should I say 'Warehouse', is where the foodstuff is located and there are several food tasting stations in operation. You get to see, buy, taste - what more could one want?
With a trolley-full of goods, we queued at the busy checkouts. Looked like over 20 counters, each one run with precision process - products go on the conveyor, operator scans the product, trolley goes on the other side, another worker stack the goods down into your trolley, you show the member card, pay and off you go - not quite at Grand Prix pitstop speed but systematic.
Pushing the trolley back to the car is hazardous - heavy trolley, reduced maneuverability, many people (and children). The carpark does not have adequate walkways for pedestrians or trolleys so you're weaving in/out of traffic trying to get to your car.
Shopping experience = So-so, it's wholesale what do you expect?
Customer service = Non-existent, workers too busy,
Carpark = Busy, allow time to circle and wait for someone to leave
Value = Not all products are cheaper here, you still need to comparison shop, bulk sizes does not always equal cheaper
Stress free? Not at all, people, people everywhere
Would return? Probably
PROS: Bulk buys - Big/Volume product sizes, some massive savings
CONS: Crowded, long wait time (car park and checkouts)
Pubs & Bars Surry Hills, NSWDefinitely Irish feel here - I walked in and got instantly transported to a pub in Ireland! The decor is unmistakable. Large barrels serve as tables with various dining table settings. The street terrace is also the perfect hangout to watch street traffic roll by or a smoko. The various drinks available in the central bar included the ubiquitous Kilkenny and Guinness - try a pint or schooner. Prices are reasonable. Other Australian offerings are also available for those homesick pub goers. We were here for our Melbourne Cup drinks and it undoubtedly has the atmosphere with at least 5 TVs on the races. It was a good visit.
Restaurants Panania, NSWRecently opened local sushi shop adds another choice to Panania's culinary variety. They are prominently located near the busy T-junction of Tower St and Anderson Ave. The shop sign is simply white lettering on black background. I made the mistake of turning up on Tuesday but they are closed - opens 6 days. The storefront is simple and unassuming all glass from floor to ceiling. On entering through the double glass doors, there are simple seating arrangements on the left and the serving counter on the right. Not in your face Japanese decor but the obligatory salutation of ""Irasshaimase!" is immediate as your attention turns to the welcoming smiles behind the counter eager to serve.
From behind the glass food display cabinets, there are at least a dozen different sushi varieties to choose from. Current special is "4 sushi rolls for $10" or "3 sushi rolls plus a drink for $10". There aren't a lot of rolls on display but this is a good thing, it means they keep making them fresh! We spent $40 on sushi and dined in - comfortable but nothing fancy. Sushi is served on disposable plastic plates with the small fish shaped squeeze tubes of soy sauce and small packs of wasabi. The sushi is definitely fresh and delicious. We watched the world go by whilst munching on fresh sushi.. They also sell hot cooked food and had some on display (will try these next visit) but our first visit is to try the sushi. This store seems to appeal to a fair number of locals as there were also other patrons purchasing sushi to take away.
School kids seem to like this place too as I've seen them flock here for sushi after school to stave off the monster munchies. A much better alternative than oily fat chips for growing bodies.
We would visit again and look forward to more sushi and other hot foods (also freshly cooked). The business card says,'So Good So Fresh' and I can believe it.
Dentists Sydney, NSWThis clinic is only obvious by the large 'Gentle Dentist' text when you drive past as their shopfront is fairly narrow. When you near the entrance as a pedestrian, you will see and think that it's an Optometrist through the glass doors, except for the large text and cartoon dentist logo contradicting one's first impressions. The same shop houses two distinct businesses - a dentistry and optometry. You could have your eyes checked and teeth done on the one visit! The waiting area is functional but small, with adequate seating for about 4 adults. I have visited this clinic several times this year and find their service is prompt and professional. They keep to their booked times fairly tightly. The dentist explains the condition of the teeth and work required prior to any procedures, as it should be.
I find it comfortable to be a patient here as they manage my expectations, provide courteous service and relevant information. They will recommend follow-up visits as needed. They won't charge an arm or a leg either and will give approximate (and very accurate) pricing so you know what to expect.
Opticians Burwood, NSWOur whole family has been getting our eyes checked and glasses from here for about 4 years. In all this time, we've found their staff to be friendly and helpful. The opticians are helpful, explain what goes on with our eyes and always allow time for questions. On our recent visit, we experienced the same level of professionalism and friendliness. The layout of the store makes the range of frames easy to view and access. Although we don't always find the best frames that suit us, they have a large and varied range (from Alex Perry, Gok Wan, Jeff Banks, FCUK, and others). We find that their frames are quite limited edition - if you find one you like and don't grab it, it'll be gone the next visit. We recommend that you make an appointment for eye tests as they can be very busy. The usual downsides come with popular shops - when they are very busy with many customers in store, the level of service drops a little and your wait time increases - try to visit them during the week if possible. Turnaround time for new pairs of glasses is around 1-2 weeks and they let you know by SMS when it's ready for pickup.
Cafes Panania, NSWAnother great experience. Sunday morning coffee here is just what I needed. Ambient music, aroma of coffee brewing, free newspaper, nice decor, convenient location and good staff. I could really hang out here for ages. Service is prompt and brew is hot - great start to my day.
Farmers Market Haymarket, NSWPaddy's Market is a very well known shopping mecca for tourists travelling to Sydney. They can get almost anything they want that can be worn or their bodies, consumed through their mouths, tacky memorabilia for their mantel or bookshelf, or gadgets repaired. We see smashed iPhones being repaired and people trying on UGG boots.
A couple of downsides to such a popular market include the crowds and heat during a hot day. Don't flash your cash but do bargain, you'll be surprised.
If you don't mind getting a little lost whilst shopping and getting mesmerised by the colours and experiences, this is a good place to get some cheap products. It's a popular place for Sydneysiders and tourists alike.
Bakeries Bankstown, NSWThis outlet provides a standard range of muffins and baked products. We usually go during the afternoons and they still have a good range of muffins on display. I had seen them baking mid-morning as well to keep their muffins topped up. The coffee is generally good and the staff attentive and accurate with orders.
They have a small seating area for their customers separate from the food court and provide limited table service (pay at counter). This is very handy because the food court is generally busy and hard to find a seat during peak meal times. Overall experience is positive but service could be quicker.
Arts & Crafts Retailers Bankstown, NSWYou can't overlook Lincraft for the largest floorspace and range of fabric, knitting, haberdashery, arts and crafts needs. Allow plenty of time to browse this store as you'll probably have to do a lot of searching. After you find what you're after, you will spend time trying to decide which item to pick. We went to shop for a shirt's replacement buttons and there was an entire aisle of buttons! Almost any kind of button you need or could want were neatly contained in plastic canister tubes.
Customer service was prompt, however, it seemed a challenge to find someone to help, unless you go to the front counter - perhaps fewer staff on a Saturday. Product knowledge of staff were challenged as we found they didn't know about silk screen printing materials - probably best checking out other specialty art stores too.
Generally a neat and tidy store with almost whatever you might need for your project, be it sewing up a costume, mending materials for your garment, school art projects, etc.
Bakeries Roselands, NSWThis Muffin Break outlet is prominently located next to Target and at the front of the long row of food outlets in the food court. Their window display usually has plenty to offer and deciding on one out of the many different muffin flavours is made quite difficult. The outlet is kept very clean and organised. I've been a repeat customer of this Muffin Break outlet for better part of a year now. Their service is generally prompt and accurate. Their coffee is good but there are better, however, I can't go past their fresh daily baked muffins - best served warm.
Restaurants Sydney, NSWIf it wasn't for workmates, I wouldn't have found this place. Upon getting to the Shark Hotel, we walked up the stairs to the bar area and tucked right in the far right was this contemporary Thai restaurant. It had been the business of Aussie pub/bar hotels to accommodate various eateries within its premises, however, I'm finding more and more international offerings being included, such is the change in the Ocker palate. The restaurant was an ample size and could accommodate up to 100. The obvious Thai decor was a contrast to the contemporary Shark Hotel/Bar that I walked past. Two large wall sculptures of the serene Buddha's face in gold shone through very prominent and indicated a very Thai experience to come. There were ample timber table settings and we were seated near a partition wall made entirely of wine bottles. The waitstaff was very attentive and service was prompt. After some deliberation, our group managed to finalise our order with a Thai waitress, thus completing the cultural experience.
Our orders flew out of the kitchen without much fanfare, however, their arrival at our table was a little chaotic as dishes of food were passed along. At times like this, one wished that the waitstaff would remember who ordered what, rather than suffer the hubbub that ensues. The food was hot and ample in portion size. Our group was mostly happy except for an order that was late and a missed order (could have been prevented by the waitress counting the number of heads compared to dishes ordered). My Massaman curry beef served up with a large bowl of rice (at extra cost) was delicious. It contained all the quintessential Thai flavours that go into this curry. The letdown for me was a chunk of beef (about the size of a scoop of ice cream) was mostly inedible due to being too stringy. The beef in general could have been more tender - the lack thereof indicates inadequate braising time.
The whole experience was generally very good and I would come back. Good customer service and fair value in an immersing Thai dining experience provided a good escape from the mundane food court offerings.
Clothing Retailers Liverpool, NSWGood experience, good store.
We visited this outlet on a Sunday afternoon and the shopping centre was full of throngs of people and this store was fairly busy (8-10 customers). This Jeanswest outlet was located near Big W and on the same level as the food court. We navigated our way to this store with the Westfield app. It was less prominent than other stores, which scream out with their bold signs and dressed up windows with Sale signboards and all. The store looked almost brand new. The many shelves and racks were well maintained and located. Walking around the store, one felt all space was fully utilised with menswear on the right and womens on the left - quite a typical layout of many clothing stores. We browsed through the various clothes - almost something for everyone (from teenager and up). There was an older couple and the man was trying out jeans. Their merchandise ranges from T-shirts, Casual shirt, blouses, dresses and of course, Jeans! We found that the store was lacking in coloured jeans (except for half a dozen pairs on the racks) - I received 2 emails from their recent campaign about 2 pairs of coloured jeans for $99. I guess they were sold out.
The focus of our visit was to get jeans! We converged toward the rear of the shops where the different types of jeans were stacked and folded neatly on the shelves. They were crying out - take your pick and try! From Slim to Classic, Straight leg to Bootcut. Once you're familiar with these, it's so easy to find your right cut and size. With jeans in hand and walking to the fitting rooms, one was confronted with BUTT CAM! Cool idea - the first I've seen in any store. So, don't ask me if your butt looks big in the jeans - it might offend. Just look for yourself.
There was only one nice lady working during our visit when there should be two (she told us). Despite being short staffed, she provided good customer service and even advised us when we selected 1 pair of jeans, that if we got a second pair, it'll be $99, otherwise, $70 per pair. Nice upsell. We left the store with 2 pairs of jeans! If you're ever at Westfield Liverpool, check out Butt Cam with your jeans!