Fondue for 2 + 1

It’s the middle of winter in Sydney and what’s better than having a mug of piping, thick, hot chocolate to drink? A chocolate fondue, of course! We were at the Theobroma Chocolate Lounge a few weeks back on a rainy and cold afternoon for hot chocolate. After settling Little J down on his high chair, we made our orders at the counter. Both Saucer and I felt like indulging in something sweet so we decided to share a Chocolate Fruit Fondue. Well, now that Little J is part of our lives and our outings, everything that used to be for 2 will be for 2+1 now! :)

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Chocolate Fruit Fondue for 2 (AUD$19.90)

The Chocolate Fruit Fondue came with a thick chocolate dip and 4 different fruits – kiwi, bananas, orange and strawberries, plus 2 skewers of marshmallows. Little J had most of the bananas while I absolutely loved the kiwi with the chocolate dip. The combination of something slightly tart with something sweet was just yummy. I reckon this is a surefire way to get your kids to eat fruits if they refuse to eat them normally. LOL. The chocolate dip was very good too – thick, smooth and very very delicious. We were this close to licking the bowl clean when we’re done with all the fruits!

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Hot Chocolate with Warmer (AUD$6.80)

For our afternoon cuppa, Saucer had the Dark Hot Chocolate with the warmer while I had the Milk Hot Chocolate. I thought my milk chocolate was pretty good, until I had a taste of Saucer’s dark chocolate and I was blown away! Once I tasted both, the milk chocolate really paled in comparison and I kicked myself for not choosing the dark one. I guess this also depends on personal preference, and from this, I discovered that my preference is for something less milky and more chocolatey. Well, we all learn from mistakes, so I’ll know what to order next time. But on the whole, the hot chocolate was reasonably thick, smooth and delicious. Also, the warmer was perfect to keep the drinks warm for as long as we were sitting there, even in the middle of the winter.

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Fondue for 2+1 :)

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Chocolate-dipped Strawberry

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Marshmallow – hot chocolate’s best friend

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Little J munching his banana

Overall, we had a wonderful experience at Theobroma with great chocolate fondue and yummy hot chocolate. We still thought Little J was too young for the hot chocolate since we didn’t want him to get hyperactive but when the time comes, I’m sure he would enjoy the chocolatey drink too. For now, he’s happy with the fruits sans chocolate. :) We’ll definitely be back!

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Happy  boy

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Our +1

 Theobroma Chocolate Lounge
Civic Lane, Rouse Hill Town Centre,
Rouse Hill
2155 NSW Australia
Tel. No: +61 2 9836 3281
Website: www.theobroma.com.au

Visiting Parliament House and Brodburger, Canberra

Right after we submitted our application for Little J’s registration of birth, we took some time to visit the Australian Parliament House since we were in the vicinity. It was close to lunch time though, so we thought we’d just make a quick stop, take some photos, and go for lunch. The weather was amazing that day. Gorgeous blue sky, clear and sunny with cool temperature. I was worried that Canberra would be cooler than Sydney but I guess we were lucky because we didn’t even need to wear our jumpers when we were out.

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 Parliament House in Canberra

The Parliament House was apparently the most expensive building at the time of its construction, costing over AUD$1 billion! It’s also interestingly shaped as a boomerang, reflecting Australia’s culture. The Parliament House is actually open to the public, but because we were in a rush that day, we only managed to scour the grounds outside the building. Interestingly we parked at this spot just between the old and new parliament houses, and got ourselves confused at first when we saw the 2 buildings and wondered which one should we head to? LOL.

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Old Parliament House

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Heading towards the new Parliament House

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With koala bear Little J in front of the Parliament House

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Saucer, Little J and his fat tummy :P

The Parliament House was just massive! Even from a distance, my camera (which has a wide angle feature, by the way) still failed to capture the building in its entirety. It’ll be interesting to know how it looks like inside now that we’ve seen the outside of it. Perhaps a good excuse for a return trip next time? I’m sure there will be plenty of those whenever our passports are due for renewals. :)

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Trying to capture the wide building but failed

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One end of the Parliament House

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Flag poles

After the brief visit to the Parliament House, we made our way to lunch. We had not been to Canberra before so we weren’t sure where to head to. After asking a friend who’s from there, she suggested for us to try the burgers at Brodburger, which was apparently the burger joint to go to in Canberra. After a search on Google and the GPS, we were finally there in Kingston.

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Brodburger, Canberra

And lo and behold, the waiting time for our burgers was a whopping 50 minutes! To be fair, they did inform us when we placed our order at the counter, and we had the option to walk away then. But we did not, since we were already there. Plus, we did not know where else to go. #losers So we said we’d wait, and were given the UFO thingy that would beep when our orders were ready. I actually noted the time that we placed our order, which was circa 12.30pm. Armed with that UFO beeper, we wandered around the area on the nice sunny day, while our tummies rumbled away. LOL.

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Saucer and the pram with Little J

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Walking around Kingston

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Benches facing the water

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Mini pier

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Nice apartments by the waters

It was quite a nice walk around Kingston, except that most of the shops were closed since it was a Good Friday. The only shops opened were countable with one hand, and most of them were packed. About 10 minutes before our order was due, we made our way back to Brodburger just in case our beeper might not work if we’re too far away. By then, the crowd had eased a little bit and we managed to find some seats available so there we waited. At right about 1.20pm, the beeper vibrated and beeped! Oh my, 50 minutes on the dot indeed! I wish I had more pictures of the burgers and fries that we ordered that day.  Alas, my hands were full … Not with food, but with Mr J here. :)

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Little J playing with the beeper

Our Date Night ‘In’

Having a baby has been the most overwhelming experience that I have ever been through. Sure, I am filled with joy and pride whenever I see Little J growing up well and happy and achieving milestones. But there’s no denying that there are rough times too, especially times when he’s sick, when he’s cranky and when he refuses to sleep at night. Ever since he started child care and I returned to full-time work, I have put Little J to bed as early as 7pm or the latest by 8pm. I believe he needs to sleep early since he wakes up early and doesn’t seem to sleep much at the child care itself. If he doesn’t get enough rest, he will get cranky the WHOLE day, but it’s also not easy to coax him to sleep at night because he just fights sleep most of time! So when I managed to get him into a working routine that has him asleep by 7.30/8pm at night, I did not want to disrupt it at all. Come what may, my baby has got to be in bed by 8pm. You may say it’s a rigid method but most babies thrive on routine and when you find one that works, you just stick to it.

While having a good sleeping routine allows Little J to be up fresh and happy the next day, the downside to it is that we are not able to go out in the evening or at night anymore. In fact, I don’t think we have been out for dinner since Little J was born, except for the couple of times we went to our aunt’s place for dinner, and even then, we had to leave early. Also, Little J gets extra cranky past his bed time, so at the end, we just thought it wasn’t worth it pushing him to stay awake. So what do we do when we crave for the occasional date night with a nice dinner, just the two of us (of course I meant Saucer and me :))?

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Appetizers for our date night

Ordering delivery is our next best bet! There are plenty delivery services around our suburb, but we were recently invited to try out Menulog, No.1 for Online Takeaway. It was a Friday night, and as usual, after picking up Little J from child care, it was close to 6pm. I asked Saucer to scroll through the list of restaurants available around our suburb, and to pick one that he liked.

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Online takeaway made easy

There were over 40 restaurants for our suburb alone! So it wasn’t easy picking out one that we liked. In the end, we chose to have Thai food, simply because we’re both fans of hot and spicy food and it’s perfect for the winter days. The restaurant we ordered from was called Aroy Thai, which we have heard good comments about from our neighbours. Ordering was easy peasy using their app, and payment by credit card. After placing our order, we received an SMS telling us that our food would arrive at 6.20pm, which was about 40 minutes from the time we ordered. While waiting, I put some rice to boil and sure enough, by the time the rice was cooked, our dishes were here! Perfect timing.

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Bowls of rice to go with Thai food

The first dish we had was a combination of Fish Cakes and Gai Hor Bai Teuy or pandan leaf wrapped chicken. Saucer never fails to order fish cakes from any Thai restaurants because he always thinks the Thai fish cakes are just different from the Chinese ones, perhaps more herbs/spices within? We quite enjoyed the fish cakes but thought the chicken was a little too tough. They tasted as if they had been fried and re-fried in the pandan leaves, rendering them to be hard and dry.

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Fish Cakes (AUD$7.90) and Gai Hor Bai Teuy (AUD$6.90)

My favourite dish that night was the Yum Pla Fu, which was deep fried fish fillet served with mixed salad vegetables, fresh chilli and lemon juice. It was great that they chose to separate the sauce and the fish in different containers so that the fish remained crispy instead of soaking wet. And indeed, they were still hot and crispy when we ate them! I loved the fish just the way they were, without the sauce.

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Yum Pla Fu (AUD$15.90)

Last but not least, Thai food would not be complete without a curry dish to complement our rice, would it? We chose the Red Pumpkin Curry with Pork. It was loaded with coconut milk, which made it fragrant but also toned down the spiciness of the dish. This would be great for those who cannot tolerate very spicy food because of its mild heat, the milky texture and also the addition of pumpkin that gave the dish a tinge of sweetness. An aromatic and tasty dish nonetheless.

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Red Pumpkin Curry with Pork (AUD$12.90)

In case you’re wondering, yes those dishes were just for the two of us, and no, we did not finish all of them that night. We did, however, manage to have that date night that we wanted, albeit at home. Hey, after all, it’s always the company that matters, right? Of course, the experience was made better by the fact that we didn’t have to do any cooking to enjoy nice and delicious food. I must say Menulog’s delivery service is pretty impressive. We look forward to try other restaurants for our next date night!

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Our dinner for our date night

Mother’s Day at Hooters

Mother’s Day has come and gone, and for the first time ever, I celebrated it as a mother myself. Every day, I thank God for giving me my precious little bundle of joy in the form of Little J. No matter how tired I am, or how stressed I am after work, seeing him just lifts my mood up! :) Come to think of it, he’s now exactly 10 months. Can’t believe how time flies by when you’re preoccupied with work and mommy duties. There’s almost no time for myself anymore. But it’s just so rewarding when he’s growing well, healthy and happy. That’s all that matters, isn’t it? For Mother’s Day, we decided to go to Hooters, just because they had a promotion that entitled mothers to eat for free. :) What an unconventional place to celebrate, you’d think? But you’d be surprised to see that the Hooters here is actually really family-friendly! More than 50% of the tables were occupied by families with kids, so we felt right at home. :)

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With Little J on Mother’s Day

All the mothers got to be a Hooters girl for the day too. We were given this customized bib that was drawn with the signature Hooters singlet with the accompanying bosoms to wear. I thought that was quite cute, LOL! I don’t think I’ll ever qualify as a Hooters girl so a fake one will have to do for now. :)

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Hooters bib on Mother’s day

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Little J looking suspicious

For lunch, we ordered ribs! Lots of them! You see, with this promotion, the cheapest meal came free so we thought we might as well order 2 items of the same value. Since Saucer wanted to have ribs, he ordered the Full Rack of Pork Ribs (1kg) all to himself. There was a half-rack portion available but it just wasn’t good value since it was around $33 compared to the full rack at $50. Just look at the glorious slab of ribs that arrived soon after! It was just shiny, sticky, juicy and yummy! The sauce was sweet and caramelized, the meat was tender and came off the bones easily, and the surface had a slight char on it, making it perfect. Saucer polished off bone after bone without realizing how much ribs he could actually eat!

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Full Rack of Pork Ribs 1kg (AUD$49.95)

Saucer and his ribs

As for me, I opted for the Combo which came with half rack of pork ribs and a 350g piece of steak. It was expected that the steak was outshone by the ribs, rendering it neglected throughout lunch. We ended up packing most of the steak back because our tummies were just filled with the gorgeous ribs. :)

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Combo of Half Rack of Pork Ribs and Steak (AUD$49.90)

Halfway through our meal, the music suddenly came on really loudly and the Hooters girls all lined up in front of the dining area getting ready to dance. I was a bit worried at first as to how Little J would react to the loudness. It was the level of loudness where you wouldn’t be able to hear the person in front of you speaking. Luckily he didn’t seem too perturbed by the volume of the music, but more intrigued with the girls dancing to the likes of YMCA in front. :) Overall, we had an enjoyable lunch out, thankfully drama-free and Little J behaved really well. That was a great enough Mother’s Day present for me.

Modern Cuisine Kinn Thai

Ever since Little J started solids, we would usually have lunch out at least once a week during the weekends. It’s just a little easier feeding him solids on the high chair compared to feeding him milk in a restaurant.:) We would normally wait for him to wake up from his morning nap, then steam his lunch of mash potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and broccoli, pack it in a container and off we go. 2 weeks ago, we decided to have something hot and spicy at a local Thai restaurant. Kinn Thai Restaurant used to be called Red Spoon in Castle Towers, and we heard quite a lot of good feedback from our friends on it. So we decided to drop by on a Saturday, and were pleased to get a table even though the restaurant was pretty busy.

Kinn Thai

Appetizer

We pushed Little J in while he’s on his pram, so one of the waitresses showed us to a table near the corner of the dining area, away from the busy human traffic. However, when I requested for a high chair, she seemed a little taken aback, almost as if thinking why I still wanted a high chair when the baby was already in his pram. Sure enough, she actually said out loud (with a sort of sour face), “Where are you going to place the high chair?” indicating that the pram had already taken the space. So I said I’d push the pram out of the way, so could you please place the high chair here? She reluctantly got me a high chair and we settled Little J in it. That wasn’t a nice start to my lunch, but thankfully she seemed to be the only bad apple I met that day. The next waitress who came was all smiles and served us politely throughout our lunch – refilling our water and entertaining Little J when he started to make noise. So fine, I’ll let it go, Miss Sourface.

Dining in a Thai restaurant is never complete without the customary order of the Tom Yum soup. For us, this soup makes or breaks a Thai restaurant, and sadly, we have never had any memorable ones in Sydney. They are usually not spicy enough! At Kinn Thai, the Tom Yum soup was served in a nice little steel pot that reminded me of how Thai restaurants in KL used to do it. The soup arrived steaming hot and very fragrant. It had 4 sizable and succulent prawns, lots of mushrooms, baby corn and lots of flavour! While this may not be the best Tom Yum soup that we’ve had, it was the best that we’ve had in Sydney. It was spicy, flavoursome and had a nice kick to it. We also loved that the portion was not too big or small, just perfect for the 2 of us to share.

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Tom Yum Prawn Soup (AUD$11.90)

For our mains, we actually ordered out of our comfort zone. Instead of the usual basil stir-fry, or the green or red curry, we opted for the Chilli Kaffir Lime Barramundi listed in their ‘New dishes’ page. It was a plate of crispy barramundi strips, wok-tossed with Thai water spinach (kangkung) in chilli kaffir lime jam. And man, was it spicy! Yes, even for our taste buds, this had a good spicy kick to it, which made me wonder how this would go down with those who are not so accustomed to spicy food. But we absolutely loved it! Saucer was sweating buckets but he kept going for more. Maybe it’s the fact that he loves fish, or the fact that they used kangkung, reminding us of good old Malaysian food, or the awesome fact that their chilli jam was really like our sambal. Fiery and pedas. Just so close to home.

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Chilli Kaffir Lime Barramundi (AUD$22.50)

Last but not least, we also tried the Caramelised Pork Hock, another item in the New Dishes list. There were 4 huge pieces of tender meat on thin, crispy pork skin served on caramelised sauce with chilli and lime sauce on the side. The pork was lean, which I loved, but also soft and moist. I wonder how they did it! And the skin, oh the crispy skin, I wish there was more of it. And the sauce, it’s caramelised, but it’s not overly sweet. It was just perfect with the pork, and with rice too. This was modern Thai at its best, I think. Even though there were only 4 pieces of it, they were generously sized and very filling too, since each piece was solid meat.

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Caramelised Pork Hock (AUD$28)

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Father and son at lunch

While we enjoyed our lunch, Little J was busy banging his hands on the table and looking around curiously at the other diners, at the waitresses, at everything! Every so often, he would scream for attention and then smile when he got it. But otherwise, we immensely enjoyed our lunch there (bar my experience with Miss Sourface). It was nothing like the old school Thai food that we’re used to, but we didn’t mind it one bit. The portions were generally above average so we left feeling stuffed even until past dinner time. We certainly have no qualms returning!

Kinn Thai

Whatchu lookin’ at?

Kinn Thai Restaurant
Shop 7, The Piazza Castle Towers,
6-14 Castle St
Castle Hill,
2154 NSW, Australia
Tel No.: (02) 9899 5669 / (02) 8677 9044
E-mail: info@kinnrestaurant.com.au
Website: www.kinnrestaurant.com.au

Red Spoon Castle Hill on Urbanspoon

Yum Cha at Jin Yan

It was a Saturday afternoon, and Little J was up from his morning nap, fed and changed. In other words, he was in a good mood. And when he was in a good mood, mommy and daddy were in an awesome mood! :) So out we went for lunch at Jin Yan Asian Cuisine, using a voucher that Saucer bought. We seldom use group buying vouchers now unless it’s for something that we really like or we know it’s tried and tested. For Jin Yan, it falls into the former category, because both Saucer and I (well, it’s me, really) are suckers for dim sum. Fortunately, booking was a breeze and we managed to get a reservation for Saturday afternoon, which I assumed would be the peak time to go.

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Check out my new shoes!

The restaurant is located in Castle Hills RSL club, and our address happened to be within 5km radius of the club. According to the NSW Registered Clubs Act 1976, we have to be club members to be able to enter the club. Since we only found it out at the entrance of the club itself, we had to quickly decide if we wanted to be members, which cost $22/year per person. We were definitely not inclined to join the membership just for what might be a single visit to the restaurant, and wondered what to do with our voucher. The receptionist then said that she would be happy to let me in if I could get a member, any member, who would be willing to sign us in. So I turned around, spotted the first family I saw, and approached the father. He turned out to be a member and was kind enough to sign us in. So yay! Problem solved!

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Prawn dumplings / Har Kau

The voucher we bought entitled us to 9 courses, starting with the Har Kau or Prawn Dumplings. I thought the prawn dumplings were done well, with thin translucent skin and decent-sized succulent prawns inside. Loved that the skin did not break easily too despite having let them sit for a while since I was feeding Little J his lunch.

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Pork dumplings / Siew Mai

The Pork Dumplings or Siew Mai were also generously sized with bits of prawns mixed on top. The addition of prawns gave the dumplings a succulent crunch on top of the juicy pork within. Oh, did I mention that service was pretty quick too? Once it was made known that we were there on a voucher deal, we were given a table stand with a label “Special” on it. Since then, the dishes came one after another (sometimes too quick), until all 9 courses were on the table.

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Spring rolls

The Spring Rolls were nothing out of the ordinary. They were freshly fried and they arrived hot to touch with crispy skin. The star of the day, according to Saucer, was the Salt and Pepper Calamari. They arrived with a distinctly fragrant aroma and were super crispy! The batter they used was also nicely spiced, making this dish very addictive. In fact, while I was busy feeding Little J his lunch, Saucer finished almost half of this plate. LOL! Good thing the portion was pretty generous, which left me quite a few pieces to munch on after.

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Salt and Pepper Calamari

The BBQ Pork Buns were slightly smaller in size and did not have much filling. The bun was a little too doughy for my liking too, so I thought they could do better with this. The vegetables came as part of the 9-course menu and was worth a mention because we would otherwise not order this on our normal yum cha. The greens were nothing to shout about, in fact, I thought they were a little too matured. So the stems especially, were rather tough to chew on.

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BBQ Pork Buns / Char Siew Pao

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Choy Sum

The Special Fried Rice is a common dish in all Chinese restaurants here, but it’s not so common to find good ones. This was not the best, but it was certainly above average. At least it did not taste like it was scooped out from a tray of pre-fried rice from the morning. It was nicely peppered with bits of golden egg and had 2 sizable prawns inside. I also liked that it did not have the typical chicken breast fillets inside, which is a common occurrence in most fried rice in Sydney. I mean, who puts chicken breast in proper fried rice? Give me BBQ pork anytime! :)

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Special Fried Rice

Oh, now it comes to my favourite of the day. The Egg Tarts! They were absolutely heavenly! The egg custard really melts in your mouth. I have eaten a good number of egg tarts before and when I said the custard melted in my mouth, really I could still feel it being a gelatinous form on my tongue before it dissolved. But this one, I could not even really feel its presence on my tongue because it dissolved almost immediately. It was almost like a transition from solid form to liquid in an instant, and I just loved the feeling of the smooth, silky egg on my tongue. Of course, the pastry did not disappoint. Flaky, crispy and buttery – an absolute yum!

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Egg Tarts – Heavenly!

The last item on our menu was the Coconut Jelly, which was mixed with red bean. This was served slightly cool, so it was a nice ending to our otherwise hot lunch. We were also given a glass of wine each, which I thought was a rather weird combination with dim sum, but it came with the voucher so, whatever. But just let it be known, that dim sum only goes well with Chinese tea, and you don’t need wine for every meal of the day. There, I said it.

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Coconut Jelly

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White Wine

On another note, Little J was a charm that day! He finished his lunch of mash potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots while we enjoyed our dim sum. I guess he also loved the racket there because he was just laughing and banging his arms on our table the whole time. We had to clear our table on the area within his reach, so most of our dishes were crammed to one side of the table while the other was empty. It was really quite funny. But it was overall an enjoyable experience and a satisfying lunch too. We would certainly not mind going there… now if only we know another RSL member who could bring us in.

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Happy boy having his lunch!

Jin Yan Asian Cuisine
Castle Hill RSL Club
77 Castle Street
Castle Hill NSW 2154
Phone: (02) 8858 4848
Fax: (02) 8858 4881
Email: jinyan@castlehillrsl.com.au
Yum Cha Lunch: 11AM – 3PM

Jin Yan on Urbanspoon