Friday, June 29, 2012

Joe Black at 27 Commonwealth Street

Breakfast is in my humble opinion, one of the most important meals of the day, if not the most important. It is said that a good breakfast provides us with the necessary nutrients to start off our day right. While I was in Sydney in May 2012, I decided not to have breakfast included with my hotel accommodation. Instead, except for one of the days when I ordered to have breakfast buffet at the hotel, I had breakfast at the local food establishments outside the hotel's premises. This proved to be a good choice for yours truly who prefer to enjoy a variety of options for breakfast.

Since I was a tourist in a foreign land when I was in Sydney, I did a bit of homework and came across Time Out Sydney's review of Sydney's best breakfast. I used it as a reference to scout for some of the best offerings for breakfast in Sydney. The review led me to enjoy breakfast at Joe Black, located at 27 Commonwealth Street, on several of the days because it was the one of the places for good breakfast that is located within walking distance (less than two minutes) from the hotel that I had stayed, i.e. Travelodge Sydney (Wentworth). 

Joe Black has a cozy ambience. I was pretty pleased with my experiences of having a few days of breakfast and meal at Joe Black. Service was good. On one of the days, I was in a hurry, and the wonderful people at Joe Black made a point to serve me pretty promptly. Here is a presentation of the meals that I have had at Joe Black when I was visiting Sydney in May 2012:

- 21 May 2012 (Mon):
i) Bacon and egg brecky sambo (AUD$8). This is tasty and thoughtfully made.
ii) A cup of coffee with milk (AUD$3.50), and I can't remember which type it was. Coffee is delightful.

Bacon and egg brecky sambo

- 23 May 2012 (Wed):
i) Storm'g Normans (AUD$9.50 each). This is a breakfast set with cherry tomatoes, Spanish onions, avocado, poached egg served on a slice of bread. I like the choice of vegetables that came with Storm'g Normans.
ii) Latte (AUD$3.50 each). The coffee from Joe Black is wonderful.
iii) Banana bread with ricotta (AUD$5). The banana bread went very well with the rich ricotta. A yummy and heartwarming choice for lovers of banana bread.

Storm'g Normans

Banana bread with ricotta

A cup of latte and Storm'g Normans.

25 May 2012 (Fri):
i) Granola, with berry compote (AUD$8.50). I like the nice and fresh yogurt and the servings of healthy fruits. The texture of the granola gave a nice crunch feel and I like the idea of complementing the granola with berry compote.

26 May 2012 (Sat):
i) A cup of "Magic". I am not a fan of coffee yet thanks to Joe Black, I have been converted to a coffee-drinker just for the few days when I was Sydney. If I remember correctly, Magic is a 3/4 sized double ristretto flat white. This is worth a good sip!

Magic from Joe Black.

ii) Scrambled eggs on sour dough (AUD$9.50 each) with three additional sides (AUD$2 each) which include avocado, mushroom and tomato. I love the taste of the juicy roasted vegetable sides. I particularly like the avocado. The thoughtful folks at Joe Black delighted me with additional servings of sour dough.

Scrambled eggs on sour dough from Joe Black with additional sides.

iii) A light lunch: Roasted veggie sambo. This came with egg plant and other ingredients. A healthy and delicious choice for anyone who craves for a non-meat light lunch. 

Roasted veggie sambo

Joe Black is a good option to consider for a hearty breakfast in a cozy place. Even if you are not a coffee-lover, be sure to try the coffee from Joe Black. The coffee from Joe Black is absolutely wonderful! I observed that there is always a queue for take-away coffee from Joe Black. Honestly, I have no idea what all the types of coffee mean, so I had to rely on ED's article entitled Everything you wanted to know about coffee (but were afraid to ask your hipster barista) for information. Other than the coffee, I recommend the granola, the scrambled eggs on sour dough (with avocado side) and the roasted veggie sambo.

Other reviews on Joe Black:
Joe Black, Surry Hills by Leetranlam.
Joe Black, by TimeOut Sydney.
Meet Joe Black, by Michelle Gore.

Joe Black
27 Commonwealth Street
Surry Hills 2010

Nearest train station: Museum.

Opening hours:
Mon - Fri: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sat: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Breakfast at Pancakes on the Rocks

Potato Au Gratin from Pancakes on the Rocks, Sydney.

One of my friends, LL, recommended that I visit Pancakes on the Rocks for breakfast. This is one lovely place for pancakes and casual dining.

In the evening, Pancakes on the Rocks is always seen with a long queue waiting outside the restaurant. I suppose it is because it has established itself as Sydney's favourite destination for pancakes, pizzas, salads, crepes and ribs. I read that Pancakes on the Rocks is the Gold Award Winner for the best Casual/ Family Dining Restaurant from year 2003 - 2011. I suppose this is where people in Sydney finds a treat to lovely food.

This photograph was taken near Hickson Road, on my way to Pancakes on the Rocks.

The history of the establishment, I read, could be traced all the way back to 1959 when the founder, Roger Meadmore set out on a driving trip from New York to Miami. The idea struck in him and his comrades that pancakes from the Howard Johnson's wayside restaurants that they had kept pulling in to will be a great idea for Australia. Mr Meadmore later realized that the secret to making those American style pancakes that he had was the way the wheat germinated and hence resulting in the type of flour that was used for the pancakes.

I was pretty impressed by the creativity that was present in making pancakes and crepes of various varieties when I was looking through the menu at Pancakes on the Rocks. There were so many wonderful choices to decide from. Visit its website and take a look at the menu and you will be fascinated with the variety of creative choices:

When I visited Pancakes on the Rocks on 25 May 2012, I decided to order a plate of Potato Au Gratin for breakfast at Pancakes on the Rocks. The potato au gratin on the pancakes added a savoury taste to the dish. I thought it was a brilliantly creative idea to add sour cream, lettuce, grilled pineapple and banana to the pancake. This is one dish that is lovely for people who likes a savoury meal that is not too sweet. 

I have had a good impression of the food and the restaurant, so I figured that I would be visiting Pancakes on the Rocks when I visit Sydney in the future. To find this restaurant, look for the Metcalfe Arcade. Pancakes on the Rocks is located in the arcade.

The way to Pancakes on the Rocks at 4 Hickson Road.

Pancakes on the Rocks
Trading Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Tel: 61-2-9247-6371

Nearest train station: Circular Quay.

Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Saveur: French food at affordable prices

I had first read about Saveur from a friend's blog. My next acquaintance with it was when I was passing by Purvis Street and was puzzled by a line of queue waiting outside Saveur. Is the food from Saveur worthwhile queuing for?

One fine evening, one of my good friends, Mystic, kindly went along with my suggestion to have a meal at Saveur. I reached Purvis Street at 5.45 p.m., and the official opening hours of Saveur for dinner was 6.00 p.m. Yet, there was already a queue of about more than 10 people in front of me on a weekday evening. My friend was a little perturbed by the queue. Would it have been better if the establishment had been willing to take reservations?

Based on several of the online reviews, we ordered the following:

  • Soup of the day
  • Pan Fried Foie Gras with Lentil and Pickled Onion
  • Confit of Duck with Orange Segment and Saute Shittake
  • Angel Hair Pasta with Sherry Minced Pork and Sakura Ebi
  • Chocolate Hazelnut

My friend and I were in the opinion that the Confit of Duck was one of the most tastiest dishes among our order for the day. At a price of $9.80, it was delicious and affordable. The Confit of Duck is especially tasty and I pretty much enjoyed the saute shittake. The mash potato that came with the Confit of Duck was adequate. It was relatively creamy and smooth. Yet, it was not one of the better mash potatoes that I would rave about as I have tried better mashed potatoes while I was on quest for the best mashed potato in Singapore. Overall, it is an affordable and tasty dish.

The Chocolate Hazelnut dessert was actually the most delicious of our orders for the evenings. I appreciated the crunchy hazelnut bits and the fragrance of the hazelnut and chocolate was lingering in the air even before my friend and I took spoonfuls of this dessert. Yet, at $7.90, my friend was in the opinion that she will not queue to eat the Chocolate Hazelnut even though it was delicious. I will not queue outside Saveur just to eat the Chocolate Hazelnut either. Nevertheless, I was happy with my choice of dessert for that evening.

The soup of the day, potato and leek soup, was disappointing. Perhaps my friend and I had higher expectations of soup. My friend was in the opinion that the texture of the soup could be smoother. The soup's texture was too grainy that day.

We ordered the Pan Fried Foie Gras  (35g) with Lentil and Pickled Onion. I like the way the lentil and pickled onion were done. Now, the honest truth comes about the Pan Fried Foie Gras, while I would say that while it is of an affordable price, I will NOT recommend it. Taste wise, the Foie Gras that I had from Saveur that evening was far from being rich, buttery and delicate. Being very mindful of the technique of gavage (force-feeding corn) that was typically used to produce the specially fattened foie gras, I shall take a controversial stand of not recommending the foie gras in the hope that it will encourage a choice of menu that will eventually put a stop to the practice of force-feeding of animals. Furthermore, I am concerned that the affordable price of the foie gras may indirectly encourage farmers to continue to force-feed geese and ducks to produce less-than-premium-grade foie gras.

I will however give a thumb-up for Saveur's Angel Hair Pasta with Sherry Minced Pork and Sakura Ebi. At $3.90 per serving, it is certainly worth a consideration for anyone on a shoe-string budget and yet like a tasty treat.

I thank the team at Saveur for their desire to bring French cuisine to everyone using local products at affordable prices. They have been pretty effective in achieving their desire. Our total bill for the evening was less than $40 for two persons! This is possibly considered relatively affordable for French cuisine.

I may not visit Saveur very soon again since I am not a great lover of French cuisine and the idea of having to queue before the establishment was opened for business still daunted me. Yet, this is one place for the budget-conscious to consider if they would like to have their maiden experience of an affordable French meal, provided that they do not mind the queue. Just maybe, please give the foie gras a miss. The rest of the menu will be good for the price.

5 Purvis St
Singapore 188584

Tel: 6333 3121

Operation Hours:
Lunch: 12 noon to 3.00 p.m.
Dinner: 6.00 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.
Walk-in Customers only

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

25 May 2012: A morning at Milsons Point

Each time when I visit Milsons Point in Sydney, I will recall my first visit to Milsons Point on 16 Nov 2010 when one of my dear friends, RL, went the extra mile to walk with me to Milsons Point. I recalled feeling touched by my friend's gesture of kindness and generosity when she took the time to walk me all the way from Circular Quay to Milsons Point. It was possibly one of my most memorable walks that I had in Sydney.

When I visited Milsons Point on a Friday morning in May 2012, Luna Park was one of the first landmarks that greeted me when the ferry arrived at the Milsons Point wharf. The next two other landmarks that caught my eyes so fondly were the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Such peaceful and beautiful moments inspired me to sketch. 

As I sketched, I fondly remembered a recent visit to another point of Milsons Point which another friend, FH, had brought me to on 21 May 2012 with her daughter. I have to say that Milsons Point is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit.

I was grateful for a chance to visit Milsons Point in the morning. Somehow, the morning rays that fall upon Milsons Point make it especially beautiful. While I was at Milsons Point, a group of school-girls asked for my permission to take a photograph with me. I wonder if one of them may somehow chanced upon this blog one day by a stroke of luck and fate?

Whatever it is, when I pass by Milsons Point, I shall remember the kindness of two friends. I am deeply grateful for these wonderful and kind friends. 

Also see:
16 Nov 2010: The peaceful Milsons Point
19 Nov 2010: Back to Milson Point and the evening stroll

Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired

Monday, June 25, 2012

25 May 2012: Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House from a ferry.

Sydney Opera House is the place to visit in Sydney even though I have visited it many times. There is a quality about it that inspires me whenever I visit it. The sails of the Sydney Opera House look beautiful against the background of the harbour. Every time when I walk up the platform stairs of the Sydney Opera House, I will be reminded of the Mayan culture and its ceremonial platforms that somehow liberate one from the mundane world to the spiritual world.

I have written about my visits to the Sydney Opera House in my previous posts, so in this post, I shall focus on sharing glimpses of some of the new developments at the Sydney Opera House as well as on sharing some snapshots of this beautiful piece of architecture.

It was here that I had collected my ticket to Vivid LIVE Stage Door Tour.

Will it be a realistic dream if I were to desire to perform in the Sydney Opera House's Concert Hall?

Whatever it is, I am grateful that I was blessed with the opportunity to visit the Sydney Opera House once again. I first visited it in the year 1992 and I realized from an old photograph that was taken that year that the landscape has changed greatly since 1992. It has been an amazing twenty years since my very first visit to the Sydney Opera House!

Sydney Opera House
2 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia

Nearest train station: Circular Quay.

Please also read:
25 May 2012: The first Vivid LIVE Stage Door Tour
9 May 2011: My third Sydney Opera House Essential Tour
Utzon Opera House
20 Nov 2010: Utzon, Sydney Architecture Walks
19 Nov 2010: The Sydney Opera House Essential Tour once more
15 Sep 2008: The Sydney Opera House Essential Tour

Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired

Saturday, June 23, 2012

25 May 2012: Gothic Revival time at Government House

The autumn greeted me at the Government House, Sydney.

While I was in Sydney in May 2012, I was a little intrigued by my choices of places that I had explored. I had initially thought that I would have logically considered a visit to one of the major art museums but in the end, I ended up at two of the historic houses in Sydney on 25 May 2012. I visited the Government House and the Susannah Place Museum.
Within the compounds of the Government House.

Government House Sydney.

Imagination will serve to be a most useful tool to help visitors to visualize the grandeur of the Government House which was said to be "the most sophisticated Gothic Revival building in the colony". Built between 1837 and 1845 for the Governor of New South Wales, I learnt that the Government House was designed to present an impressive front. It was designed by British architect, Edward Blore, who was also involved in the design of the Buckingham Palace. In my mind, I imagined how grand the Government House would look as sailing vessels sail into the Sydney Harbour in those days.

Photography is not allowed inside the Government House. There is an online website that offers a gallery of photographs of the interiors of the Government House. Here is the link: Government House - images. Thankfully, it was possible for visitors to take photographs of the exterior of the Government House. The facade of the Government House exudes an elegant charm that seems to transport its visitors to a nostalgic moment in the past.

Inside the Government House, one can see portraits of the Governors of New South Wales. What drew my attention most of all was the ballroom with spaces for the musicians of the orchestra to perform. The House Music programme will bring the ballroom to life whenever musicians perform in the ballroom of the Government House.

Leaves on the grounds of the Government House.

My parents would mostly likely be bored if they were to visit the Government House. Yet, this place will be a lovely place for anyone who likes to visit historic buildings to experience the charm of an architectural style that seemed to sought to revive medieval forms. Visitors ought to make some time to visit the Government House's garden after the guided tour. I felt very peaceful walking about the garden within the compounds of the Government House. It was like visiting a private garden that was located within the much larger Royal Botanic Gardens.

Government House
Royal Botanic Gardens, Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Access into the Government House is strictly by guided tour. The guided tour is free-of-charge. Tickets to each of the guided tours of the Government House is distributed at the gatehouse at least half-an-hour before each tour.

As the Government House is occasionally closed for functions, please check this website for information on the opening hours of the Government House:

Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired

Thursday, June 21, 2012

25 May 2012: Picnic at the Royal Botanic Gardens

It can be a blessing to be able to slow down and learn to appreciate the simple things in life.

One fine afternoon on 25 May 2012 while I was in Sydney, I followed the urges of my heart and decided to enjoy a simple picnic at the Royal Botanic Garden. Occasionally, I laid down on the lush green ground and enjoyed the beautiful views of the beautiful clouds against the blue skies. For a long moment, I felt that I am blessed with everything that I would need in the world. Perhaps peace and the space to enjoy the beauty of life were what I would ever need?

When I looked out to the distance, I saw the castle-like Sydney Conservatorium of Music. What a pleasure it was, to be able to have the luxury of time to enjoy the beauty of every moment that Nature and the man-made features could offer us at any point in time. I felt thankful for a peaceful afternoon get-away. The weather had been very kind on me that day.

Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: 61-2-9231-8111

Nearest train station: Circular Quay.
Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What I should work with?

The results of this test reminded me to spend more time making art.
You Should Work with Art

You are a very visual and creative person. You couldn't stop making beautiful things, even if you tried.
You are constantly inspired and driven to create. It would drive you crazy to follow too many rules at work.

You have to do things your own way. If you're given room to be yourself, you come up with amazing things.
You never stop making art, so you might as well get paid for doing something you love!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Island Adventures at National Museum of Singapore

Find out what are the challenges that one would have encountered if one were to travel across the oceans in the 1820s, and learn about how life was on the island of Singapura in the 19th and 20th century through the child-friendly Children's Season 2012: Island Adventures.

Here is an account of my visit two weeks ago: Island Adventures at National Museum of Singapore.

Children's Season 2012: Island Adventures
National Museum of Singapore
93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897
Concourse, the Salon and Garden, Level 1
26 May 2012 - 22 Jul 2012
10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily (Last admission at 5 p.m.)
$5 per child/ adult
For more information, please visit:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tea break at Strand Arcade

The Strand Arcade, Sydney.
Photograph taken from

While I was in Sydney in May 2012, I am grateful that my friends made time to catch up. One mid-afternoon on 25 May 2012, I met up with one of my friends, FH, for a brief and meaningful tea-break.

On my own, visiting shopping malls would not be anywhere on the top of my list of things to do as a tourist. Yet, I have had a pleasant visit to one of the malls in Sydney. Credit goes to my friend for highlight the interesting nooks and corners of the malls to me. I am thankful to her for sharing her interesting perspectives to design and how various design concepts were applied by certain stores in the mall.

Interior of the mall.
Question: Which mall did we visit? 

Answer: Strand Arcade.

While writing this article, I learnt that The Strand was established in 1891. It was the fifth and the last of the arcades built in Victorian Sydney. Yet, today, it is the only one remaining in its original form. The best parts of the arcade have been carefully restored.

I was attracted to this Shoe Repair store.
It seemed to remind me of the good old days of visiting a cobbler.

Visitors and shoppers can find in the Strand Arcade a number of retailers that have traded in Sydney for decades as well as various Australian designer fashion and specialty stores. One of such examples is Dinosaur Designs which specializes in home-wares and jewellery. I like the organic and simple nature behind its various designs.

Concluding our visit to the Strand Arcade, my friend and I treated ourselves to the Swiss Dark Hot Chocolate with Soy Milk from Strand Expresso.

I am feeling grateful for the opportunity to catch up with one of my friends over tea-break, the time to be acquainted with various Australian designer stores and a wonderful cup of dark chocolate.

During my short visit to the Strand Arcade, I did a few things that were new to me! It was my first time exploring the Strand Arcade with a friend and taking notice of the various Australian designer stores in it. It was my first time taking notice of stores such as Dinosaurs Designs and Strand Expresso. I felt I was not the regular tourist visiting the usual tourist attractions but a visitor who is learning about how the locals of Sydney live their everyday life. Many thanks to my friend, FH, for introducing me to Strand Arcade over an afternoon tea-break.

412 - 414 George Street
Sydney NSW2000
Location Map:

Nearest train station: St James.

 Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired

Monday, June 11, 2012

25 May 2012: Susannah Place Museum

The Susannah Place Museum was one of the places that I had visited when I was having a short holiday in Sydney in May 2012. Located at The Rocks, which was once a thriving and close knit working class suburb, Susannah Place Museum lends its visitors a glimpse into the life of the working class from the mid-19th to late 20th centuries.

I decided to choose to visit the Susannah Place Museum because I learnt that the Susannah Place Museum is a row of four terraces that has survived largely unchanged since it was built in 1844. I learnt that the Sussanah Place has a continuous history of occupancy by working class families. My interest to experience a historic building that has survived to my time and yet has retained much of its original character propelled me to choose to visit the Susannah Place Museum during my limited stay in Sydney. I was very pleased with my choice.

Visitors to the Susannah Place Museum will be greeted by a store that has been faithfully recreated to remind visitors of the store that was run by Youngein family in the 1915. Interestingly, this recreated store sells goods from that very era (i.e. 1915). The gas light and the housefly traps in the store caught my attention. This is one place to find interesting items that were sold in the 1910s.

My tour of the Susannah Place Museum began with a viewing of an introductory video on the history of Susannah Place. From this video, I learnt that the first owner of Susannah Place was probably Edward Riley who could have named the terraces after his niece. The video also gave its viewers a glimpse of the lives of many of the occupants who had lived in the Susannah Place. The accounts on the "green ban" and how the Sussanah Place was developed into a house museum caught my interests.

After watching the introductory video, my physical tour about the Susannah Place began. I felt as if I was on an adventure that allowed me to travel back in time. The tour took me to all the four terraces. The decor of the rooms of the four terraces reflected how these rooms would have looked like in different times of the past, for example, the 1840s, the 1920s and the 1970s. There was even a functioning toilet in the Susannah Place Museum that bore the facade of the past.

I felt grateful that there were people with vision and foresight to preserve The Susannah Place for the generations to come to appreciate the living conditions of working class families of the past. Having a glimpse of the living conditions of the past has helped me to be more appreciative of the improved living conditions that I am blessed with today. I have learnt from my visit that with effort and vision, the preservation of historic buildings and sites is possible.

Susannah Place Museum is a place to visit for lovers of heritage buildings who enjoy having a glimpse of the past.

Susannah Place Museum
58 - 64 Gloucester Street, The Rocks, NSW 2000
Tel: 61-2-9241-1893
Admission by guided tour only. 
Monday - Friday: 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Weekends and NSW School holidays: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Winter closing 5 p.m. (June, July and August)

Nearest train station: Circular Quay and Wynyard.

 Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired