Sokyo at the Star, Pyrmont

When I was little I always looked forward to reaching the age when I'd finally be old enough to go out to a fancy restaurant and order beautiful food and eat with multiple numbers of forks and knives. Sadly, that dream is one yet unfulfilled, but I have come pretty close in the way of beautiful food. Sokyo is a one hatted restaurant on the outer skirts of The Star in Pyrmont, and it is far from an ultra fancy, butter-knife and salad-fork wielding fine dining restaurant (those seem to have diminished of late). In fact, it is quite the opposite - hip, dark, bustling, and not a stark white tablecloth in sight (actually, the fabric lap napkins are raven black). Perhaps the only similarity it holds with fine dining is the high quality of fresh, tastebud-tingling food. Not that it's not fine dining, but just fine dining in a different way - a fusion of modern Japanese cuisine.

Delmain Providore, Balmain

You know those kitsch, funky cafes that seen to be popping up everywhere these days? The ones that serve the perfect cup of freshly ground and blended coffee, have a crowd-pleaser all day breakfast menu and a lunch menu with absolutely drool-worthy sandwiches and salads so large in number that you can't possibly choose what to order?

Demain Providore on the busy main road of Balmain is exactly one of those cafes. With a coffee counter and sandwich bar opening up to the front facade and a smaller kitchen out the back, it is appropriately decorated with coffee sacks and knick knacky decor in shades of red, green and brown. A chalkboard mounted high on one of the side walls lists the all day breakfast menu and lunch menu, and the front shelves are lined with freshly baked Brickfields bread rolls and loaves.

Pho Hoang Gia, Flemington

With the close or relocation of one of our favourite Flemington eateries, we were left bewildered one Saturday lunchtime as to where we were to eat lunch. Sure, there are heaps of cheap and fulfilling restaurants in Flemington where one can slurp down steaming bowls of pho or much away on stir fried noodles, but Khais' eatery in the arcade (near the ever-busy pho joint Pho Toan Thang) was a favourite of ours whenever we were in the mood for a Malaysian fix.

It was in this instance that we instead decided to try out Pho Hoang Gia, nestled in next to another Vietnamese restaurant in the lane way that leads to the car park behind the arcade. It's accessible from the street, but is an otherwise unexpected eatery situated in a rather peculiar location.

From the outside it is an unassuming place to eat lunch, but enter through the side door and you are greeted with a full, bustling dining area full of people munching away at large bowls of noodles and drinking icy coffee concoctions at lunchtime.