Tag Archives: Restaurants

The Fish Shack

8 Aug

As a newcomer to Canberra, it’s important I find not only a job, a place to live and perhaps even friends, but also a go-to place for fish and chips.

Back in Melbourne, I went to Sea Salt almost everyday, which serves arguably the best-quality, best-priced fish and chips in the city.  I can find no fault in Sea Salt, tucked away in the bustling, hip alley of DeGraves Street.  Between their filled-to-the-brim sushi, juicy fish burgers and quality fresh catch made to your liking, this place can do no wrong.  Their service is consistently friendly and unassuming, which is hard to find in the ever trendy and pretentious food realm of Melbourne.  Nothing will scare me away more from a restaurant than a jaded hipster who casts you aside with once glance and is burdened by taking your order, which is like, you know, their job, but whatever.

Enough spite.  I haven’t had any hipster encounters in Canberra (yet), and for that I am thankful.

My quest today was to find a Sea Salt replacement, which I didn’t expect to be easy.  After reading nothing but positive reviews on Urbanspoon, my hunt led me straight to the Fish Shack, located in the Petrie Plaza off Bunda Street.

ImageThe Fish Shack is hard to miss–just follow the delicious fish aroma wafting through Petrie Plaza and you’ll come across a cute orange hut, which stirred childlike excitement in me.  The design is inviting– even if I hadn’t done prior research I think the set-up alone would have been enough to entice me.

I got there right in time for the lunch rush, and man, it was busy.  The woman behind the counter kept saying, “We didn’t expect it to be so busy today,” in reply to customers who pointed out the obvious.  The staff tackled the non-stop orders with efficiency, keeping calm and friendly even though it didn’t look to die down anytime soon.

I decided beforehand to stick with good ol’ fashioned beer battered fish and chips, but I definitely wavered when I saw the menu.  The Fish Shack is aware of the growing gluten-free trend and provides options for the health-conscious, including steamed fish with lemongrass & ginger, which almost got me until I decided I was way too hungry to be healthy.  The menu stated their beer batter was superior to all because it was made fresh with Burleigh 28 Pale Ale, which I’ve never had, but it sounded good, so I went with my original instinct.  My meal came out to $10.50, a bit more than a Sea Salt outing, but still affordable if it lived up to the hype.

ImageI waited a reasonable 12 minutes and was pleased to see my meal came equipped with lemon and dip (I shook things up and ordered roast garlic aioli over tartar).  It’s a fish and chips sin when an order comes out sans lemon or dip, and there’s surprisingly a lot of places that will exclude one or the other, sometimes both.

When my food was dropped off, I was confident by the appearance that it’d be nothing short of seafood bliss.  The fries (er, chips, excuse the future Americanisms) looked a bit dinky, but it’s all about the fish anyways.

I’m disappointed to say that this was one of those occasions where what you see is not what you get.

I could taste a hint of fish with mostly salt, but the beer batter didn’t make itself apparent to my taste buds whatsoever.  I should have went with the steamed option, because the beer batter wasn’t worth splurging on–I couldn’t detect any distinct flavor.  I finished the small portion of fish (it’s not as generous as it looks in the picture) within minutes and was left with a heap of chips, which were also forgettable.  I was still ravenous so I didn’t hesitate to finish the soft and lifeless McDonald’s-like chips.  Even the aioli dip was bland.  I suspect it was fat-free, which would offer an explanation, but I didn’t stick around to ask.

I’m willing to give the Fish Shack another shot.  It was busy and everyone else seems to rave about their food, so I’d be hasty to write it off just yet.

In the meantime, I’m keeping my eye out for other candidates to replace Sea Salt, whose best catch was its consistency.

Fish Shack on Urbanspoon


Sea Salt on Urbanspoon


The Burmese Curry Place

7 Aug

Alas,  I’ve on embarked on my Canberra food journey…

The first place I stumbled upon was the Burmese Curry Place, which was fortunate because I was craving something cheap, Asian, and of course, delicious.

I moved to town a few days ago and haven’t found a source of cash flow yet, so it’s a time to be stingy.  My objective is to dine-out cheaply until I get back on my feet, which hopefully will be soon because I’ve seen some tempting pricier venues.  I really shouldn’t be eating out at all, opting instead for canned food, bread and butter, but old habits die hard.

The Burmese Curry Place has a stark and spartan set-up—I would have missed it, but the colorful, straightforward restaurant sign pointed me in the right direction.  The dining area is void of décor and atmosphere, but it doesn’t matter because no one eats here to look around or feel comfortable–it’s all about the food. I was so engrossed with my meal that I forgot where I was.  Seriously, I didn’t look up from my plate once until I had scarfed down my meal, in time to notice I had dribbled some rice onto my shirt during the eating frenzy.

Before entering the restaurant, I’d recommend studying the menu and deciding exactly what you want before approaching the counter (Tip: tell the cashier the numbers you want, as in, “I’ll have 2 and 7.”  I ordered the actual food and this threw the woman off..oops) .  This jam-packed place isn’t for the indecisive–during lunch time there’s a queue, but it moves quickly, so be prepared–you’re entering a get-in-and-get-out environment.  The food is served cafeteria-style–it’s already been prepared, but don’t be put off by this–the turnover ensures that you’re meal will be fresh and piping hot.  You can choose two of the nine items over white rice, and I know the menu seems limited, but it’s still a hard choice.  I don’t know what I would have done had there been more options.

During my first visit (yeah, I came back the next day), I went for the fish curry and beef with potatoes.  I’m used to the spicy, coconut-milk based curries of Thailand, so I found the taste to be underwhelming at first, but I added some chilli in fish oil as well as brown chilli flakes, and this complimented the meal well.  The fish was white and moist; the beef tender and savory.  Sometimes I order chicken or beef at cheap Asian restaurants and honestly can’t identify it, half-suspecting that I’m eating someone’s family pet.  Here, quality ingredients are used despite feeding you for a low price ($8 dine-in, $7 take-away).  The portion is generous–enough to leave you full but not in a disgusting, roll-me-outta-here way.

When I came back the next day, I went with the sweet pork and chicken with potatoes.  Whatever flavor my first meal lacked, the sweet pork definitely compensated for.  The chicken and potatoes were nice ( a lot like the beef and potatoes, really) but the sweet pork stole the show.  The pork was juicy with just a bit of spice to accentuate its sweetness.  I want to try all the menu items, but it’s going to be hard steering away from the pork every visit. Had I known…

The Burmese Curry Place has charm in its simplicity and efficiency, and manages to offer something to most palates, so if you’re passing through City Walk, don’t be put off by what’s on the surface.  You’ll thank yourself (or me, perhaps) later.

Burmese Curry Place on Urbanspoon