Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Gigino Restaurant - Fairfield West - Sydney, Australia

Gigino Restaurant

Blink an eye and you'll miss this place.

They say good things are usually hidden away and even though this place isn't hidden, people usually drive past it without noticing. Gigino Restaurant is located in the suburban neighbourhood of Fairfield West. An area you wouldn't usually associate with excellent restaurants or good food.

This corner eatery occupies the space of an old newsagency that has now been transformed into a funky and modern pizzeria.

It's furnished with long communal style steel tables, wooden chairs and benches, together with walls that are lined with blue tiles and black boards. It lets off that casual and relaxed vibe that you would usually experience in a cafe setting.

Gigino Restaurant specialises in Italian cuisine, namely woodfired pizza and home style dishes.

The menu is short and simple, and it all fits onto a sheet of paper, so you don't have to flip through pages and pages just to get to the pizza section. That makes ordering relatively easier but deciding on the pizza topping may be a challenge. Most pizza's on offer at Gigino have minimal ingredients. Just like how it is done in Italy and that's also how I like my pizzas.

The 'Incazzato Pizza ($18.00)' was a sure winner. The pizza is topped with pomodoro (tomato sauce), mozzarella, salami piccante and chilli. It was so big in size, it took up most of the table bench and was on the verge of slipping over the side.

 The base was thin, light and crispy, yet it maintained that slight fluffiness.  Salami piccante means spicy salami or otherwise known as pepperoni. The salami pieces were huge and the addition of the chilli gave it a nice kick. And boy, the cheese was stringy and gooey.

As we were here on a Sunday, we also ordered from their Sunday brunch menu. The 'Pancetta Pizza ($17.00)' is similar to a bacon and egg pizza.

Toppings consisted of pancetta, eggs, mozzarella and parmigiano. It wasn't as good as the Incazzato Pizza but it certainly delivered in terms of taste. Though, the pancetta appeared to look and taste more like bacon.

At this point our stomachs was pretty full but out eyes weren't full, so we continued with dessert.

Most desserts are made in house but are pre-made and stored in the dessert cabinet. They've also got Nutella pizza and gelato.

The 'Tiramisu' is served in a glass cup.  It was creamy, spongy, moist and they were generous with the Marsala. Unfortunately, we couldn't pinpoint anything superb about it and wouldn't go out of the way just to order this.

The 'Strawberry Puff' was surprisingly delicious and satisfying. Strawberries and cream enclosed between puff pastry makes an excellent combination.

We also had some Santa Vittoria ($3.00), an Italian soda and a 'Latte ($3.50)'.

*Credit to Lulu for the photo

The Italian fare here is simple and honest. The pizza is awesomely tasty, prices are reasonable and the portion sizes are decent. Service wise, they were quick to take our orders and food arrived promptly. I definitely recommend this restaurant to those wanting to eat authentic Italian cuisine and for those who live out west, then the is the place to go.

*Credit to Lulu for the photo

My good friend Lulu recommended this place and I'm thankful she did. She notes it as being one of the best pizza restaurants out west and this is also one of her favourites. I couldn't agree more.  The funny thing is she found it by sheer coincidence as she and a friend happened to go in and try it one day out of the blue.

Whether it be for lunch or dinner, I suggest you make a booking as the restaurant isn't very big and is very popular with the locals. We assumed that they wouldn't be busy at lunch so we didn't make a booking. Our assumptions were wrong as it was a full house due to the birthday that was on. The only seating that remained were the bench seats, and we had no choice but to take that up. I didn't mind the bench seating, but it was hard to share food and make conversation between a group as it more suited for individuals or twos.

This urban eatery will definitely be attracting a larger crowd once more people find out about it. I will surely be making another visit to try out some other dishes in the near future. They have also been mentioned in the SMH Good Food Guide recently.

Shop 3, 338 Hamilton Rd
Fairfield West NSW 2166

Phone no: 02 9609 6264

Opening Hours
Monday - Wednesday
5pm - +
Thursday - Friday
10am - +
5pm - +
9am - +
Closed Tuesdays


Gigino on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Two Two Fried Chicken - Myeongdong - Seoul, South Korea

Two Two Fried Chicken

Fried chicken has become a part of the Korean culture and it's literally everywhere. It may be a shocking fact, but the Koreans are famous for their fried chicken and many have even proclaimed it to be another version of KFC but even better, known as ‘Korean Fried Chicken’. It is usually eaten with beer and the term ‘fried chicken and beer’ has become the norm. Sharing is a big thing in Korea as they like to enjoy food with family and friends, bringing about the popularity of the fried chicken.

One thing that differentiates Korean fried chicken from normal fried chicken is the process of cooking the chicken. The secret to that ultra-crispy, crunchy, minimal oil and juicy interior fried chicken is a process called ‘double frying’ which involves deep frying the chicken twice. This ensures the fat from the skin is rendered out, creating a thin and crispy outer shell.

Two Two Fried Chicken is located in the shopping central of Korea, Myeondong. It is a franchise outlet and part of one of the biggest chains in Korea with over 500 stores in Korea alone. They have also expanded to a number of locations worldwide. It is relatively easy to spot as the words ‘Two Two’ in are English so you shouldn't have much trouble locating this place.

This small restaurant is family owned and operated.  The male elderly does the cooking of the fried chicken at the front and the female elderly appears to be the waitress as she escorts you to the table and takes the orders.

I love how the menu was in full colour, written in English and had photographic images of the dishes, which made the ordering experience very easy as the waitress spoke limited English. The menu does have options other than fried chicken but we were here just for the fried chicken. 

Side dishes is essential in Korea and here they serve the plain daikon pickled radish instead of the usual kimchi. It was so yummy!

Salt and pepper for extra seasoning if needed. 

As we couldn't decide between the original or the marinated, we got the ‘Chicken Mix and Match (KRW 17,000)’ which allows you to choose two types of fried chicken from a range of marinades such as spicy, garlic or teriyaki. 

We choose the original and spicy. The serving is not the biggest so best shared between two at most, unless you’re not very hungry, then it may feed three. For the price, we were expecting much more chicken. 

The chicken was coated in a light batter and the skin was fried to a golden brown colour, leaving an extremely crispy and crunchy exterior. The interior was still moist and tender but the breast meat was a bit dry. 

 It came with a side coleslaw like salad with cabbage, mayonnaise and chilli sauce. Strangely addictive and really good with the chicken. The perfect side accompaniment.  It was finger licking good.

The chilli fried chicken was drenched with a sweet chilli sauce and we found that it too saucy and a bit hard to eat. Nevertheless, the chicken remained crunchy. 

The original fried chicken was the preferred of the two. Simple and plain but still flavoursome and scrumptious without that horrible greasy after taste. I was amazed at the lack of oil on my fingers as I usually associate fried chicken with a lot of oil but this was near grease free.

Plus the mandatory ‘Korean Beer (KRW 4,500)’ which we later found out was actually German style beer.

The fried chicken here is good but it wasn't the best as parts of the chicken were dry and lacked that juiciness, as the chicken may have been left to rest for too long after the first fry.  However, the positive is the location. In terms of location, it is easy to find and get to so if you want decent fried chicken then this is the place to go.

The Two Two Fried Chicken branch is in Sydney! Their first outlet in Australia is located in the Korean dominated area of Strathfield. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me when this came up in Google search. Woohoo! Can’t wait to try their version and see how it compares.

6-4 Namsandong 2(i)-Ga
South Korea

Phone no: +82 2 2275 2297

Opening Hours


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Yebisu Izakaya - Sydney - Sydney, Australia.

Yebisu Izakaya 

The restaurant is crowded and bustling on a Friday night with a full house and a long queue to boot.

Located in Regent Place, Yebisu Izakaya is Japanese restaurant / drinking establishment specialising in tapas style food, to be enjoyed with alcohol. Different types of alcohol such as sake, shochu and beer are available to be enjoyed with the plates of food, but we're here for the food and not the alcohol.

The place is very busy most nights and if people are willing to wait, it must be good. We nearly left at the sight of the queue as it stretched for metres and the waiter wasn't sure as to how long the wait was going to be. However, it moved relatively quickly and we were seated in about 15 minutes. Yet, the wait could have been much longer as I've read some have even waited close to an hour.

We were seated at the counter which gave us a view of the front kitchen through the glass windows. Larger groups tend to be seated in the main dining area. We were able to witness large flames from the stove tops, meat on sticks being grilled and soup bubbling away. An interesting experience indeed.

One thing that strikes you straight away is the bright signs, paper lanterns, wooden exterior and lighting, allowing one to reminisce or think they are in Japan. It is designed to look like a modern izakaya that you would see in Japan offering a fun and casual setting.

Ordering is done via the Ipad and reminds me very much of the Wagaya and Misuya touchscreen system of ordering. They offer the traditional Japanese fare such as sushi, sashimi, yakitori, hot pot and we even noticed some Chinese dishes on the menu. Though, the variety on offer is much less in comparison to the above mentioned.

The prices are reasonable but I wouldn't say it's cheap. It can get pricey as one usually tends to order more than they should as you continue to press, press, press, quickly adding to the bill. The great thing about this restaurant is you can take your time and decide on what to order without having to rush as it is designed to be eaten in a series.

One thing I didn't like about the menu was the lack of descriptions. There was the name of the dish and the corresponding picture but there was no description, so you had to rely on past experience or your gut feeling as to what ingredients it contained if you've never tried it before.

Once you place your order the food comes out quickly and the waiters are extremely efficient at bringing out the food.

'Pan Fried Pork Gyoza ($7.80)' has two accompanying sauces on offer, either the teriyaki or ponzu sauce and we went with the former.  The gyoza is pre-fried in the kitchen before it is taken out. The waitress brings out the gyoza, placed on top of a bed of beansprouts, which are then further cooked on an iron cast plate and then the sauce is poured over. It then sizzles away but the bottom isn't crispy and a bit soggy due to the uneven heat distribution, but the pork insides are juicy and tender.

'Takoyaki Octopus Ball ($7.80)' is the norm like you would find at any other Japanese restaurant. But! It comes with wooden sticks attached to the takoyaki which makes it easier to eat. Love the novelty of this. It was cooked well leaving a nice exterior and topped with bonito flakes, mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce.

The 'Scallop and Garlic Fried Rice Large ($19.80)' is not your standard fried rice. It is cooked with fresh, large, plump and juicy scallops which have been grilled just right, allowing it to be moist and still sweet. The fried rice was nicely cooked with egg and shallots and the flavouring was spot on without the addition of too much oil.

'Teriyaki Chicken Salad ($14.80)' is my favourite for the night. The chicken is marinated in a teriyaki sauce and then grilled. They were very generous with the chicken as the chicken and salad portions were similar. The star of the dish was the dressing. It had a slight sweetness with a hint of sourness but was absolutely delicious, a dressing I've never tried.

We were so full at this point in time and contemplated on leaving without dessert. However, the dessert options were aplenty and they looked pretty good on screen. How could one resist? Plus it was cheap!

The 'Earl Grey Brulee ($5.80)' was a delight. I don't think I've ever tried earl grey tea and had a slight hesitation in ordering this as Tin Tin recalls the tea flavour being strong. I'm glad we did as that custard was so creamy, rich and smooth, and that sugar crust on top was perfectly caramelised. In the menu, the brulee was on a flat dish but it was served in a round bowl unfortunately, so the proportion of the hard shell to crack was limited. It was just so yummy and I found myself scooping up ever little bit of custard from the bowl.

'Green Tea Ice-cream with Daifuku ($3.80)', otherwise known as a mochi is superb here. It is made from a glutinous rice flour and then stuffed with green tea ice-cream. It was so fresh that it was still stringy and soft.

I really enjoyed the overall experience. What I love about this restaurant is not only the great food but also the atmosphere. You don't have to be a drinker to enjoy the food here.  The slow pace of dining allows you to enjoy the food without having to feel rushed and is a great place to catch up with friends. Don't be deterred by the queue. I definitely think it is worth the wait as the food is excellent.

Regent Place
501 George St
Sydney NSW 2000

Phone no: 02 9266 0301

Opening Hours
Sunday - Wednesday
12:00pm - 11:00pm
Lunch Last Order 3:00pm
Dinner Last Order 10:00pm
Thursday - Saturday
12:00pm - 12:00am
Lunch Last Order 3:00pm
Dinner Last Order 11:00pm


Yebisu Izakaya on Urbanspoon