Joanne Lee Phin Local Star

I like rainbows and long walks on the beach.

Joined 18 February 2009   Sydney, NSW

Reviews /  340 reviews

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  • Macquarie Centre
    Shopping Centres    North Ryde, NSW

    I take back what I previously said about Macquarie Centre being old and fuddy-duddy. The newly refurbished and extended shopping centre is really impressive, mainly because of the array of fashion and beauty names being brought to the centre. There's something for every price point too, from H&M and Uniqlo to the likes of Zimmerman, Scanlan & Theodore, Willow, Josh Goot and Alice McCall. Another welcome addition is Mecca Maxima, which looks strangely like a Sephora store.

    They've gone all out with Christmas decorations in the centre - in a good way. I love the wide aisles in the new wing of the shopping centre, though lift and toilet facilities aren't that conveniently placed. Parents rooms are clean and well-equipped though, with great play areas for the little ones.

    My favourite store in the centre is the new David Jones, but that deserves its own review!

  • Chefs Gallery
    Restaurants    North Ryde, NSW

    I was really excited to hear about Chefs Gallery opening in the newly refurbished (and extended) Macquarie Centre because I loved it when it opened in Town Hall. My husband and I visited with the baby on a weekday for lunch on opening week, and it was already packed with a number of people (like us) waiting for a table.

    We were seated after about a 10-15 minute wait, and ordered promptly. The food isn't as good as I remembered it to be in Town Hall, and prices have definitely increased. We don't mind paying more for good food, but we left feeling seriously ripped off. Take for example, the $14.90 bowl (more like cup) of murky chicken broth, which wasn't very tasty at all. The neighbouring table complained about a similarly priced bowl of seafood and tofu soup which also did not look like the photos presented in their glossy menu.

    Service was also terrible, with waitresses ignoring several requests for water. They never brought any, so we hurried up with our meal and left.

  • Cafe Cre Asion
    Cafes    Sydney, NSW

    Oh my gosh I'm in love with Cre Asion all over again. I love the assortment of breakfast options - egg and ham or mushroom baked in puff pastry cases are clever and really tasty. It's not something you can't make yourself at home, but they just do it better. The house-made pork sausage rolls are divine, and dare I say, better than Bourke Street Bakery. They are huge, perfectly moist, herby, stuff with mushroom, and the pastry is light and crispy. I managed to get one fresh out of the oven this morning and I was in absolute pastry heaven. The bags of granola are great too, perfect for days when you need to smash a quick breakfast at your desk at work.

    The coffee is a little weak and milky, I like mine with a lot of punch. Hasn't stopped me going back for breakfast though. Food prices are a little on the high side, but the baked goods are amazing and you get the sense that they are made with pride.

  • BB Designer Jewellers
    Jewellery & Watch Retailers    Sydney, NSW

    Great little spot for when I needed a quick watch battery replacement. Levon was nice and friendly and got it done while I waited.

  • West Elm
    Department Stores    Bondi Junction, NSW

    I absolutely fell in love with West Elm (and its sister companies) and was excited when they first opened up in Bondi. I loved the store and the products, but after having purchased an item from them (the Patchwork dresser), I no longer hold them in such high regard.

    The dresser we received was in decent condition. There were a few nicks, but nothing worth complaining about. However, after months of use, many of the grooves for the screw-on knobs have already worn out and cannot be used to open the drawers. (Which then begs the question, how else do you open the damn drawers?)

    I contacted them on Facebook and email, with the proposed resolution: return the entire dresser, (with specific instructions on how to pack it up) and then place an entirely new order at a discounted rate, then wait for a new dresser to be delivered and installed. For a dresser that I use daily as a baby change table, this is a whole lot of effort to replace faulty screw on knobs, with no guarantee that the replacement will be any better.

    The email communication I have received has been decent so far, but the person in the American call centre I spoke to was extremely rude. Wow.

    Avoid. Save your money, I've had much better quality furniture from IKEA.

  • Eastwood Gardens Peking Restaurant
    Restaurants    Eastwood, NSW

    After having loved this restaurant for years, we ordered some takeaway tonight, only to have an incredibly disappointing and frustrating takeaway experience.

    My husband placed an order for 3 dishes - the snow crab, the pork spare ribs Peking style, and the stewed pork belly with preserved vegetables.

    He drove to pick up our order and before he left, checked the dishes and told the waiter that we didn't receive the right dish - the stewed pork dish wasn't right. The wait staff insisted that it was the right dish, so he took the wait staff's word for it and came back home.

    When we opened up the takeaway box, it most certainly wasn't stewed and there wasn't any preserved vegetables. There was lots of capsicum and tofu with sliced pork in a chilli bean sauce.

    We called up to complain and asked for a refund, and despite a frustrating conversation with the person on the phone who asked "so what you want to order?" 3 times, staff was nice enough to agree to a refund. The problem was that the husband had to drive back out to get it.

    It really sucks when staff don't listen to customers - regular customers - and brush them off instead. Pick up your act!

  • A Tavola
    Restaurants    Bondi Beach, NSW

    Serving fresh hand-made pasta, A Tavola has always been the real deal. The long communal/pasta-making marble table in the Darlinghurst restaurant makes an appearance in the Bondi restaurant. You can't go past the stracciatella unless you're allergic to dairy. The wagyu beef pappardelle is another signature dish that is rich, decadent and all round amazing, but the seafood linguine is a sure way to my heart.

  • Kam Fook Seafood Restaurant
    Restaurants    Chatswood, NSW

    So what do you do on Australia Day? Go for yum cha, of course.

    Admittedly in have avoided yum cha here at Kam Fook Chatswood because of the crowds, but we came at 11 and a friend managed to get us a table for 7 adults, 2 children and a pram.

    The restaurant is huge and it filled up pretty quickly. The steamed dumplings at Kam Fook were really good - generous portions without skimping on seafood, while other dishes like the "yong tau foo" (tofu and eggplant stuffed with fish paste) aren't spectacular. (other restaurant in Castle Hill do a great job with that one.)

    Service is decent, but they charge $3 a head for tea. That's $21 for cheap tea leaves and hot water.

  • The Boathouse Balmoral Beach
    Cafes    Mosman, NSW

    The Boathouse Cafe, situated along the boardwalk at Balmoral Boatshed, is the perfect spot for a casual alfresco meal this summer. Get here early on a weekend to get parking at Balmoral Beach, and to avoid a wait for a table or to place an order for food. There aren't any printed menus, so take a photo of the menu board before finding a table.

    There are limited tables indoors, but at a venue like this, it's really the alfresco seating that will get you the best views. Most outdoor tables were shaded by umbrellas, so you do get some relief from the sun.

    We went on a school holiday weekday for brunch and ordered the bacon and egg roll and the croissant french toast. Both dishes were great, and the croissant french toast is every bit as indulgent and amazing as it sounds. Meals are a tad pricey, but it is Mosman after all, where you won't pay any less at the local fish and chips takeaway.

  • Dr Cathy Lee
    Obstetricians & Gynaecologists    Eastwood, NSW

    Dr. Cathy Lee is an obstetrician who goes the extra mile for her patients. I chose her because I'd heard that she takes Friday evening appointments which saved me from taking time off work to attend the numerous OB appontments throughout the course of a pregnancy. Trivial reason for some, but for me it was a huge relief to not have to take too much time off work.

    Convenience wasn't the only reason we loved her so much. She is kind and caring and also straight and upfront.

    She gave us really good advice, and even though I found some of it quite hard to swallow at first, with the benefit of hindsight, I was always really glad I followed it because she was right each time.

    She have us her mobile number to call or text her if there were any concerns. I wasn't expecting to need it, but when complications came up before and after birth, I was glad I had the best medical advice available on hand.

    I had a really smooth pregnancy and a very complicated and interesting birth, and Cathy was always there to make sure everything was taken care of, even seeing me at least 4 or 5 times while I was in hospital.

    Both my husband and I would recommend Cathy in a heartbeat.

  • Cohen Des
    Paediatricians    Hornsby, NSW

    I had my baby 5 weeks early via emergency c-section at the San and Dr. Des Cohen was the referred paediatrician. Dr. Cohen took great care of our little one and was on the phone with every large public hospital to secure our premmie daughter with a CPAP machine to help her breathe and develop her little lungs. Since then, the follow up care Dr. Cohen's given us in the hospital when she was in special care and after that as an outpatient has been great. We're so glad to have "found" a great paediatrician without having to look around for one.

    His Hornsby practice is a little far from our home, but it's worth the trek.

  • Sabbaba
    Takeaways    Sydney, NSW

    Great addition to the new-ish Westfield Sydney food court. I like the plates which consists of felafel, haloumi, meat or fish, along with tabouleh, red cabbage, all the dips/sauces and a side of pita bread. It's a pretty big serve, so if you're a small eater, find someone to share with.

    My usual order, however, consists of half of the roasted cauliflower and avocado salad and half of the edamame and chickpea salad.

  • Jasmin1 Lebanese Restaurant Leichhardt
    Restaurants    Leichhardt, NSW

    We visited Jasmin1 in Leichhardt after hearing rave reviews for a similarly named restaurant in Punchbowl. They are independantly owned, but supposedly started by the same guy who sold off these businesses.

    We ordered the $25 banquet menu which came with a start of pickles, bread and baba ganoush and hommus, and felafels. The meal then continued with fattoush and tabouleh and a meat platter with grilled chicken, a lamb and a beef sausage thing with garlic and chilli sauces. For dessert, we were given a cinnamon tea and baklava.

    It was a really enjoyable meal, given that I am not a huge meat eater. The service varied according to who was serving - there was a really lovely guy, but some of the other newer staff didn't know their way around the menu and were a little bit awkward to talk to. I'd come back if I had to satisfy a lebanese food craving, or check out the other similar restaurants in Punchbowl or Bankstown.

  • Porteno
    Restaurants    Surry Hills, NSW

    One of my favourite Sydney restaurants. The food is excellent and the service genuine. It's not showy or pretentious, yet the vibe is great.

    They are known for their meats, but ironically, my favourite dishes here tend to be vegetarian / seafood dishes. (I am also not a huge meat-eater though.)

    Come early (it opens at 6pm) or book if you are coming in a group of six or more.

    Oh, and the cocktails are excellent. Try not to have too many.

  • Single Origin Roasters
    Cafes    Surry Hills, NSW

    Still the best coffee after all these years. They have a loyal following and rightly so. Consistently great.

  • Thai I M
    Restaurants    Parramatta, NSW

    We ate in this restaurant on Saturday night with a group of friends. I would have never come here on my own as it is in a quiet part of Parramatta. The restaurant itself was pretty quiet for a Saturday night. We were the largest group there and there were a couple of other tables of two or four.

    We ordered a number of dishes and the food was pretty decent, good Thai food. I'm quite a harsh critic of Thai food (I have a Thai mother-in-law). The dishes were tasty but not as authentic as they get. Price-wise, I don't think you'd get much cheaper. Our meal came up to a grand total of $12 a head after some discount that we'd received.

  • YOUENI Foodstore
    Cafes    Castle Hill, NSW

    Service is good but the food is a little hit and miss. I had a roasted vegetable and raw asparagus salad which was great and right up my alley (not a fan of meat usually), whilst the husband had the slow cooked lamb and kipfler potatoes and it looked and tasted really bland. We had a couple of other friends order the same dish and the feedback was the same. The roasted veggies were $17 and lamb $26, so it's not exactly cheap.

    Pastries looked great but I wasn't allowed to try any. Boo.

  • Joe Black
    Cafes    Surry Hills, NSW

    I once wrote a rave review for Joe Black. Unfortunately, things have gone downhill over the years and especially more recently since management has changed.

    I popped in last Friday for a solo lunch, hoping for it to be a relatively quick one. The cafe was empty other than a couple of other girls who were already seated and another couple who came in after I had ordered.

    I ordered a slow cooked lamb salad off their specials menu and an iced coffee, but not before I was chided by the waitress for having coffee whilst pregnant.

    My iced coffee came out 10 minutes later and lamb salad came out 20 minutes after I ordered. I couldn't work out why it took so long considering how empty the cafe was.

    I had mixed feelings as my salad was placed in front of me - relieved as I was absolutely famished, disappointed as it looked pretty dismal, yet somehow hopeful that it wouldn't be as bad.

    One bite confirmed it - the lamb was mushy and yet strangely sweet. It tasted like what I imagined baby food to be. Beetroot was canned and the goats cheese, which was the best thing about the salad, was but a tiny morsel.

    The iced coffee was icey and bland. All up it was about $20 for a pretty hard-to-swallow meal. I won't be back.

  • Khao Pla
    Restaurants    Chatswood, NSW

    I'm just going to come right out and say it upfront. This is the best Thai restaurant in Sydney.

    Pla's dishes remain true to traditional flavours, but desserts and daily specials do take on a modern spin. The Hor Mok (a fish mousse) is a nice light "whippy" consistency but packs in flavour. The tongue dish is perfectly cooked and is paired with a tangy dipping sauce.

    I'm not one for asian desserts but the black sticky rice with milk tea ice cream, jackfruit and sago pearls is enough reason for me to come back.

    The restaurant is tiny and the locals are wishing that all the media write-ups about Khao Pla never happened. Be prepared to share a table, but you can book in advance if you come in a group of six or more. (Such a Merivale thing, which I suppose isn't surprising for an ex-Merivale chef.)

  • Sushi Rio
    Restaurants    Sydney, NSW

    It's pretty shocking that I haven't reviewed this business before. I've been coming here regularly over the last 4-5 years and whilst I've had minor hiccups with service on previous visits years ago, the quality of the food is pretty consistent.

    Old favourites are the scallop omellette hand roll, the spicy grilled salmon nigiri, the grilled scallop nigiri and scampi nigiri. Seeing as my diet has been vastly restricted by pregnancy, I've been forced to try other cooked sushi options. The crumbed prawn and eel and egg nigiri have been my new go-to options, along with the soft shell crab hand roll.

    Great place to come on your own or with someone else, but in a larger group it just gets messy.

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