Petersham to Sydney Olympic Park to Kangaroo Pizza

Today, I was alone while journeying through Sydney.  Sam was busy with a conference for work , so I decided to take the opportunity to hop on a train and check out the Sydney suburbs.  I rushed into the Town Hall train station, jumped on the Inner West train, looking back only because the only seat available was facing the back of the train.

My first stop brought me to a little Portuguese community called Petersham.  I jumped out of the train and left the smell of the train, to an open air station with one exit.  I followed a few people around, and just looked at the interesting home architecture and the crazy water tower that stood up on a hill behind the homes in the area until I found New Canterbury Road.  This was an interesting little block, I walked with some old Portuguese ladies, who were all too happy to say ‘hi’ to their friends as they crossed the street.  Why were these ladies so happy?  I was just about to find out.


Sweet Belem

I looked inside this shop and saw three elderly people drinking coffee and sharing stories like old friends should.  I knew this was my place.  Looking at the bakery window, I see cakes, buns, and then I see it.  The sun was shining through the window right on the golden tarts as if it was calling to me.  The custard looked firm, yet moist, and the crust looked like hundreds of tiny crunchy flakes ready to break off and melt in my mouth.  “I’ll take one Portuguese custard tart and a latte, please.” “Eat here, or take away?” the young barista asked.  “Eat here,” I said hastily, something like that shouldn’t wait unless it was absolutely necessary.  It didn’t take long for my latte and tart to come.  The latte itself was pretty standard fare, so I won’t say too much about that.  The custard on the hand, was everything I explained and then some.  The egg custard was tasty and not too sweet, the crust was buttery and flaky, and the little sprinkle of cinnamon added that little bit of goodness that brought this over the edge.  I ordered one to go, and picked up one last bit of goodness before heading to Darling Harbour.

Traditional Portuguese Charcoal Chicken

It was getting close to lunchtime and I had to bring something extra good with me to meet up with Sam.  Across the street from Sweet Belem was a huge sign that said Traditional Portuguese Charcoal Chicken.  I ran inside and ordered a quarter chicken.  The woman at the counter asked, “Tangy or Spicy?”, my mouth watered and I said, “Yes.” “Sir, sir, please choose one.” “Both please.”  “That I can do.” I watched as she chopped up a quarter of a chicken, and brushed the Tangy sauce and then brushed the Spicy sauce, and placed it in a foil bag and in a plastic bag.  Oh man, the smell was wonderful!  I rushed back to the station and hopped on the Inner West and got off at Town Hall.  I sent Sam an email that I was at the Convention Center.  We sat in the mall close by, and we opened up my goody bags.  The chicken was still warm, and on the first cut, was still juicy.  The taste that really makes it is the Piri Piri sauce.  Garlic, butter, chillies, and citrus hitting all my tastebuds.  This is definitely something I will have to look for in San Francisco.

Sydney Bicentennial Park

After lunch, I decided to hop on another train towards the Olympic Park.  The train from Darling Harbour is the Northern Line, taking it from Town Hall to the Concord West Station.  I could have continued on a special train to the Olympic Park station, however I wanted to walk through Bicentennial Park towards the Olympic Stadium and Aquatic Park.  Upon entry into the park, I found families having picnics and organizations running events on really large fields.  I decided to follow this businessman and and jogger further into the park towards what looked like a huge tower.  A handful of people were just strolling through the park or exercising, and no one was climbing to the top of the tower.  I saw a staircase, and decided to make the climb.  The view from the top was mediocre at best.  No wonder there was no one else climbing the Treillage Tower.  I had a view of the park I walked through, a river, and the city line… oh and Ikea!

Sydney Olympic Park

In the year 2000, the Summer Olympic Games were held in Sydney.  The Sydney Olympic Park is quite a sight.  I checked out the Aquatic Park, ANZ Stadium, Allphones Arena, and the grand Sydney Showgrounds.  The coolest thing I saw there was the Monster Skate Park.  There was a group of Japanese tourists learning how to skateboard by Australian skateboarders.  After a while, I got a little lost and ended up at a convention center with a lot of loud music, and a guy shouting encouragement and numbers.  I peeked inside and saw a bunch of people punching the air and jumping around.  Ah, a sign said, “Train the Trainers.”  And seeing the fitness level of the people inside, I realized I was at a fitness trainers seminar.  Definitely not what I was expecting.

Bourke Street Bakery

After walking around for about 3 hours, I decided it was time to return.  While sitting patiently on the train, I remembered hearing about a bakery in the Surry Hills area.  Bourke Street Bakery is about a mile from the closest train station, Central Station.  The walk is pretty nice, you walk through Ultimo into Surry Hills.  The style of the homes in this area seem Victorian with some a lot of metal fences.  I thought they were pretty unique and interesting to look at.  The people here reminded me of Noe Valley in San Francisco, a lot of young families, hipsters and dogs.  I finally reached Bourke Street Bakery, and waited in a 4 person line.  By the time it was my turn, the clerk was pretty rude. “What?” “I’d like two Lemon Curd Tarts please.” “You want what?” “Two Lemon Curd Tarts.” Rolls eyes. “$9.” Hmm… it doesn’t sound that rude when I type it out, but trust me, I felt like I wasn’t wanted.

The Lemon Tarts were pretty delicious.  Lemon custard surrounded by a flaky crust.   How can you go wrong?  First bite you crack the crust a bit and let the lemon custard goodness attack your tastebuds with that sweet, tangy cream.  Despite the rude clerk, I would still make the trek here to try their other pastries.

The Australian Pizza

After bringing that second tart to Sam, we headed out for dinner.  Sam had asked her Australian coworkers about a good place to try Kangaroo and Crocodile meat.   I was pretty excited to try Kangaroo.  The place is called The Australian Hotel” and is located in The Rocks.  We entered the bar/restaurant and asked for a table for two.  The server just told us to pick a seat anywhere that’s open, so we found one by a window away from the bar.  After sitting for about 5 minutes, I noticed a sign that said, “Please order all drinks and food at the bar.”  So, Sam went over to the bar and made our order of Pepper Kangaroo Pizza and Salt Water Crocodile Pizza.  The crust on both pizzas is thick.  Definitely, not the fancy thin crust that we’re used to with Napoletana pizzas.  The Kangaroo is marinated in pepper and sliced thin on top of a bed of roasted capsicum and cranberries.  The Crocodile is also thinly sliced but is on a bed of thai basil and coconut cream sauce.  Croc meat tastes like fish and chicken marinated in mud, not my favorite.  Kangaroo was tough and gamey, and I can tell they marinate it in Pepper to add some taste.  The staff at Australian Hotel is very friendly, but I would definitely want to try some of the other stuff on the menu next time, i.e. Roast Peking Duck Pizza!

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Metreon’s Remodel 2012

If you have gone to Metreon recently, you would feel bad for how sad the joint looks.  I remember as a teenager, Sony’s Metreon was the coolest spot to watch all the movies in their impressive IMAX auditorium.  There was a Sony Playstation store and a Sony Entertainment store, the coolest subscription based arcade, and a great Games Workshop store.  Today, there’s just the theater, book store, Jillians and Starbucks.

In 2012, Metreon is going to reopen with quite a few really great new tenants including: La Boulange Bakery, Best of Burger, Massage Envy, So Green Yogurt, Chipotle, San Francisco Soup, Mixt Green’s, Brandy Ho’s, Sorabol Korean BBQ, and Firewood Grill.  The restaurants that will continue to lease space to Jillian’s, Buckhorn Grill and Sanraku.  What’s even better is the City Target that will take over the entire 85,000 square foot second floor. Yes, that’s right neighbors!  We’re getting a Target in the city!  Take that Walmart!

SF Chronicle


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Hamano Sushi – San Francisco

Hamano Sushi Combo

Rated: ♣

Blegh! I will never use Urban Spoon again because it recommended this restaurant. Food wasn’t fresh, service was bad, and dishes were dirty! Is it really that bad? Well, I found some food particles in my cup of water and I asked the waitress to get me a new cup (nicely). Instead of doing so right away, the waitress picked up the cup and inspected the glass of water! It was as if she didn’t believe me!

Well, nothing really stood out on the menu, so K and I got the sushi combos. It came with a salad which was probably the worst Japanese salad I’ve ever had. All other Japanese salads are light and refreshing with a sweet miso dressing. This one left a powder residue in my mouth like it was an old, just-add-water type of dressing.

Hamano Sushi Salad

I had the spicy tuna and the California roll. I can’t eat wasabi, so I checked with the waitress to see if they used wasabi in their spicy tuna. She said “no,” but when I took my first bite, all I could taste was wasabi! I couldn’t eat it after that, so I made K eat it for me while I ate his eel roll.

Hamano Sushi Combo 2

The empty restaurant should’ve been a sign, but I stepped in anyway. I recommend Sushi Sam in San Mateo or Sushi Zone in the Castro if you want some fresh sushi.

Hamano Sushi
1332 Castro St
(between 24th St & Jersey St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
Neighborhood: Noe Valley

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I Left My Stomach in San Mateo… or Top Peninsula Eats

Farewell upper peninsula. I’ve taken a position in SOMA San Francisco, and will be leaving Foster City. When people ask me what I’m going to miss, I am always going to tell them the good, cheap lunch spots within driving distance. So, here’s a list of top 10 Peninsula Eateries according to Kingston in no particular order:

Jersey Joe’s Hoagies & Cheesesteaks
21 El Camino Real
San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 592-7317

If you are looking for the best cheesesteak sandwich in the Bay Area, look no further than this San Carlos Cheesesteak establishment. “THE BEST CHEESESTEAK SANDWICH IN THE BAY AREA.” There I said it. For around $10 you get a delicious, mouthwatering cheesesteak, fries, and a medium drink. This establishment will be the one I miss the most. Make sure you put some Buffalo Hot Sauce on your Mushroom Cheesesteak. Oh… Man. In fact, this will definitely be on my weekend Peninsula visits. (BTW, for all you Philly freaks, they have the traditional Cheese Sauce.)

Ike’s Lair
555 Twin Dolphin Dr
Ste 115
Redwood City, CA 94065
(650) 637-8903

So, you get all the hype from the San Francisco Ike’s Place, and realize, that waiting 2 to 3 hours is really not worth it. Now for Peninsulites (Peninsulans? Peninsuli?) all we have to do is make a phone call at 9:00 am to pick up our sandwich at 12:30 pm. I mean, it takes all the guess work out of figuring out which restaurant to go to for lunch. My office did several 15-20 orders of sandwiches to bring back, since there’s no seating there. My favorite is the Not A Reuben (Paul Reuben for my SF Place homies) with Mustard around $9.50.

Old Port Lobster Shack
851 Veterans Blvd
Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 366-2400
TheCultureBite Bite Back

Ah… yes. The Lobster Shack. Sigh… Where do I start. I’m actually not a lover of Lobster (I’m more of a crab type of guy), but their Lobster Roll is deeelish. I mean, come on. You walk into this establishment as if it were straight off an old port in Maine. Make sure you start off with some Creamy Clam Chowder, order a Maine Lobster Roll (if you don’t like mayo or green onions order the Naked Lobster so you can dip into a side of mayo or butter), and enjoy that side of fries. Can’t say I’ve tried anything else here, but I hear their BBQ is award winning! My meals were usually around $30 here, so take someone special.

Kabul Afghan Cuisine
135 El Camino Real
San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 594-2840

I love the lamb here. We used to come here for special occasions, and then we realized we should just come here for no occasion. The Kebabs are delicious, and they remind me of the song from the Flight of the Conchords “Most Beautiful Girl” ( Mostly because they mention kebabs and these are my favorite ones, specifically the Kabab-e-gousfand. Say that five times fast. The Lamb is seasoned just right and juicy. You get such large portions that I always have to take it home. The other dish I love here is the Challaw kadu. It’s a vegetarian dish with pumpkin in it. thdfsdf <–that was me wiping the drool off of my keyboard

Sushi Sam’s
218 E 3rd Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 344-0888

This is one of the more expensive lunch dining options in the San Mateo downtown area. I’ve come here for lunch a couple of times, but I’ve come here for dinner a ton of times! S loves getting the Omakase everytime we eat here, but I don’t mind trying all of their other things. The rolls are phenomenal, the Uni tastes fresh, and the service is fantastic. This has replaced my need to return to the Tsukiji Fish Market for my fresh fish. If I were an account manager with a good expense account, I would take all my clients here. My recommendation is to try the Omakase the first time, then try a few rolls. If you feel adventurous they do have some multi-course meals.

Everyday Beijing
637 S B St
San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 373-7878

If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for some Northern Chinese food. There are so many different variations of Northern Chinese food, that it’s always fun to try a new one. Some of them may have the XLB’s with the thin skin or the bun skin, some might have fresh soy milk, this one has Cumin Lamb. Yes, people, the lamb is excellent. Also, I love the meaty meat pancakes.

Saffron Buffet Line
Saffron Indian Bistro
1143 San Carlos Ave
San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 593-4269

It was always a treat to come here. It’s a really cheap buffet ($10), and there’s such a wide variety of Indian food to choose from. You come in to the joint, and you’ll notice that there are white table cloths on each table. I kept thinking, oh no, Indian food and white table cloths don’t seem to go well together. Then you sit down, and realize, wait, I should just get my food right away. The smell of restaurant is fabulous, if you love Indian food. Once you get your plate, you are greeted by a salad bar. I usually skip this, as I’m here for the main event. I spoon a little bit of rice, then, it time. Time to pour on the different curries on each side, Butter Chicken, Palak Paneer. There are 8-9 different curries to choose from, and they all have their own tastes and textures. The last thing I pick up is the Tandoori chicken at the end and I’m ready to sit back down. Now, once you sit down, you’ll notice that buttered Naan has been magically placed on your table. Oh man, the waiters are wonderful. Sometimes, you can catch a sports game on one of the two televisions if something is on, otherwise, just sit, relax and enjoy the orchestra of Indian flavors.

Jack’s Prime
3723 S El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94403
(650) 638-1479

You want a tasty gourmet burger? Then you better come to this modern diner style establishment. They’ve got all the good stuff you could ask for at a burger joint, milk shakes fries, burgers, onion rings, and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it all. I personally recommend the Angry Cowboy which is a burger with smoked bacon, onion rings, jalapeno relish, cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce. Yeh doesn’t sound healthy, but it’s delicious.

Cha Cha Cha Fried Plantains and Pork
Cha Cha Cha Cuba
112 S B St
San Mateo, CA 94102
(650) 347-2900
TheCultureBite Bite Back

I love this place. The food is excellent, and the service is outstanding! My usual favorites are the Fried Potatoes with Chili Aioli, Fried Plantains, Ceviche, Calamari, and Mussels. Actually, I didn’t find anything I didn’t really like. One extraordinary thing is that I would actually enjoy drinking their Sangria. If you know me, I usually don’t like drinking alcohol. It’s so good here, how could I not? This place was introduced to me by my good friend, Victor D., who introduced us to the owner, Mario. Mario is a very friendly individual who has very interesting tales of the history of his family. You should ask him about the raft that’s posted on the wall. =)

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Chick-N-Coop – San Francisco

Chick N Coop Menu

Rated: ♣♣♣

I’ve been driving past Chick-N-Coops around the city for years and I’ve never got myself to try it until recently. I have to say, it was really fun! My dad comes all the time for lunch, so he took K and I to introduce us. Walking into the hoffbrau was like walking into a time warp. The customers, the employees, the decor – it felt like nothing in the restaurant has changed in the last 40 years.

I got the corned beef sandwich “wet” on a roll. Wet means au jus on the bread, nothing else. So simple but so very tasty. The roll is so soft and chewy, a perfect match for the briny corned beef.  This also passed the day after test.

Chick N Coop Corned Beef Sandwich

My dad had his usual wet turkey sandwich. Mm, juicy turkey.

Chick N Coop Turkey Sandwich

And, K got the wet pastrami sandwich. We all agreed the corned beef and the turkey were the winners of lunch.

Chick N Coop Pastrami Sandwich

We got the cole slaw as a side, but I wasn’t a fan. Too watery and too much mustard.

Chick N Coop Cole Slaw

Chick-N-Coop was a fun adventure and I’d definitely come back again for the wet corned beef sandwich.

4500 Mission St
(between Excelsior Ave & Harrington St)
San Francisco, CA 94112
Neighborhood: Excelsior

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