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It has become an annual ritual for me to go to the Good Food & Wine Show. Free sampling all day? Who can resist?

This year, I was invited by FIJI Water to be their official blogger!

So here it is, 7 tips to making the most of the 2013 Sydney Good Food & Wine Show:

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - 300 exhibitors
A dream day out for food fanatics and wine connoisseurs alike - hundreds of the country's finest food producers, wineries and chefs come together for one sensational weekend

1. Keep your hands free for sampling
If you didn't bring a spare bag, pick up one (or two!) from Lifestyle FOOD, near Nespresso's A Journey Through Coffee masterclass area.

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - sampling
Plentiful sampling! Pictured here are Hunter Valley Cheese Company, Grove avocado oil, Pana Chocolate and The Chilli Factory

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - cheese alley
Bruny Island Cheese Co

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - mussels
Greenshell New Zealand mussels

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - lentalicious
Lentilicious pre-packaged meals

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - the wine and truffle co
Truffle condiments by The Wine & Truffle Co

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - pukara estate
Pukara Estate olive oils and vinegars

2. Stay hydrated
And I don't mean with just wine! Yes, it's definitely worth purchasing the $3 wine tasting glass for unlimited wine sampling, but it was also good to see bottles of FIJI Water readily available at all the wine stands. Walking and eating all day requires lots of energy, and if you're dehydrated, you'll feel sluggish. Don't forget alcohol can also deplete your body of the water it needs. Make an effort to drink at least two litres of water every day.

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - FIJI Water, stay hydrated

3. Rest up in the VIP Room or get a massage
Platinum Pass holders get access to the VIP Room which includes complimentary red, white and sparkling wine and canapés! There are some plush lounges if you need to put your feet up... I even caught some snoozers in there! Or if you'd rather put the Platinum ticket dollars towards buying food/wine, a massage is well worth it as you'll feel more energised to power through all 300+ exhibitors.

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - the VIP room
Inside the VIP Room

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - Get a massage
Relax with a massage

4. Perk up with free coffee
Nespresso are running complimentary masterclasses, where participants will discover the versatility of 4 Grand Cru coffees, ranging in intensity and aromatic profiles. You'll learn to make your own coffees with a Nespresso machine and of course, you'll have the opportunity of devouring all four coffees! For those with a sweet tooth, one of the coffees you'll be making is an affogato with Movenpick ice-cream! Score!

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - Nespresso class

5. Make a meal out of it
With almost all the stalls offering free samples, it's so easy to make a meal out of it! A balanced meal just through sampling is possible. Think cheeses, wines, cured meats, jams, oils, breads, apples, tomatoes, lentils, sausages... What more would you possibly need!

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - FIJI Water and Salumi Australia cone
Salumi Australia's sampler cone, just $5!

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - Meringues by Patisse
Yuzu, salted caramel or chocolate earl grey eclairs, and bubblegum , coffee or white chocolate & black olive meringues at the Patisse stand

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - Lush berries
Chocolate coated strawberries by Lush Berries

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - chorizo on a stick
Chorizo on a stick at the Salumi Australia stand

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - cheese platter by Salt Meat Cheese
Cheese platter at That's Amore Cheese stand

6. Take advantage of all the bargains... Last!
There are plenty of amazing deals but don't get carried away too early! Laucke are offering $5 bundles of a bread bag, 500g crusty white bread mix and your choice of any 1kg specialty mix! You wouldn't want to be lugging around unnecessary Kgs all day! Likewise with delicate items, just save the hassle! I recommend skimming the surface and do a quick wander around, marking down stalls you want to spend more time at or buy from then re-visit them strategically! However, if you're going on the last day, then I can imagine some supplies might be running low so make sure you don't miss out!

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - Hoyts herbs and spices wall
Hoyts Herbs and Spices, 3 for $2

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - Lentils offer
Lentilicious, 5 packs for $35

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - Brookfarm promotion
Brookfarm show bag, get $44 worth of Brookfarm products for just $25

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - Maggie Beer promotion
Spend $25 on Maggie Beer products and receive free ice-cream!

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - McLaren Vale
More wine offers in areas such as the McLaren Vale section

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - Salumi Australia promotions
Promotions on various sausages, salamis, and cured meats at the Salumi Australia stand

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - Laucke promotion
The home baker's special at the Laucke stand

7. Get inspired
The GFWS is a great opportunity to discover new food brands, meet and greet producers, and get inspired by celebrity chefs! This year, Curtis Stone, Ainsley Harriott, Maggie Beer, Miguel Maestre, Darren Robertson and Marion Grasby, all make an appearance! Some cooking demonstrations are free, but the VIP packages are worth checking out if you want to get more hands-on!

Good Food and Wine Show Sydney 2013 - Get inspired by celebrity chefs


Good Food & Wine Show - Sydney
Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre

Friday 28 June: 10am - 6pm
Saturday 29 June: 10am - 6pm
Sunday 30 June: 10am - 5pm

For more information, go to goodfoodshow.com.au/index.php/location/sydney

Discover FIJI Water and win a culinary adventure

Can't make it to the Good Food & Wine Show this weekend? The show will be moving to Perth on 18 - 21 July and Brisbane on 8- 10 November, and you could win tickets and accommodation, thanks to FIJI Water! Click to find out more information and to enter the competition!

This post is sponsored by FIJI Water. Opinions are my own.


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It all started with a casual message: 'KFC crawl to find Sydney's best Korean Fried Chicken. Who's in?'

One thing led to another and before I knew it, six of us were driving all over Sydney on one fine sunny day to determine where we could find Sydney's best Korean Fried Chicken! From Belfield to Strathfield, Eastwood and the city, all in the name of research, we spent over 12 hours eating fried chicken at five different restaurants.

Jenius KFC crawl - where is Sydney's best Korean Fried Chicken?

What is it?
One of the best snacks ever! Much like Colonel Sander's Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises, there are restaurant chains devoted to serving just Korean Fried Chicken. What makes Korean Fried Chicken standout against any other type of fried chicken is the unbelievable crunch from the double frying process, and the tasty, tasty seasoning.

The spicy version is fried in a specially formulated batter mix then glazed in a sticky mixture of ginger, soy sauce, sugar and gochujang (Korean chilli paste).

Then there's the plain super crispy version, or one tossed with a sweet soy sauce.

Traditionally, Korean Fried Chicken consisted of a whole small chicken cut into manageable pieces but as the size of chickens are nowadays much larger, most restaurants now only use the wing and small drumsticks.

Accompanying KFC is usually a dish of house-pickled radish/daikon cubes which offer a wonderful contrast between hot and cold, salty, sour and sweet.

The score card
The only way we could fairly judge Korean Fried Chicken was if we could taste all of them on the same day, so the taste would be fresh on our minds for comparison.

I designed a scorecard that broke down into:

  • Seasoning: Aromatics, flavour, saltiness,...
  • Moistness: Tender and not tough and dry
  • Crunch: Crispiness of the batter and first bite
  • Non-greasy: Tasty and not heavy or saturated with oil
  • Size of cuts: Consistency of sizes and manageable pieces that can be finished in a few bites
  • Accompaniments: Quality of the complimentary side dishes

Red Pepper, Strathfield - Korean fried chicken

First stop is in an unassuming Korean restaurant inside Strathfield Sports Club. The decor isn't anything different from other sports clubs. There's a TAB section, TVs screens, a bar and a bistro.

While the bistro serves both Western and Korean dishes, it's the Korean fried chicken that we're here for so we dive straight in.

We definitely feel like we've come to the right place as there's two entire pages of Korean fried chicken dishes to choose from! How could there possibly be 11 types of Korean fried chicken? Well...

  1. Incredible gangjung (a traditional Korean bite-sized rice bookie made of puffed rice, honey, peanuts and sesame seeds)
  2. Soy sauce gangjung: Crispy fried chicken smothered in rich savoury soy sauce
  3. Hot & spicy gangjung: Incredible gangjung meets wioth tasty hot & spicy sauce
  4. Bulgogi gangjung: Authentic traditional Korean style savoury Bulgogi sauce
  5. Spring onion gangjung: Incredible chicken gangjung with an emphasis on freshness and fragrance of spring onion
  6. Soy sauce chicken: Perfect combination of garlic and soy sauce
  7. Spring onion chicken: Crispy fried chicken with specially-made wasabi taste sauce and sprinkled with spring onion
  8. Fried chicken: Premium crispy powder covered original fried chicken
  9. Black sesame chicken: Boneless drumstick with more crunch
  10. Sweet & spicy chicken: A deliciously different spicy sauce with a rich tomato fragrance
  11. Tender long chicken: With a focus on nutritious, premium breast fillets with dipping sauce

Red Pepper, Strathfield - Korean fried chicken with shallots and wasabi dressing

The intention was initially to try the original and the spicy version at all restaurants, but we cave in and try three types here.

The spring onion chicken ($32 whole serve) is unlike any KFC we've had before. The batter subtly reminds us of NaruOne but it's the wasabi sauce that delights us. Despite it being a wet sauce, it doesn't make the chicken soggy but merely lifts it in flavour. The wasabi kick isn't overpowering either.

The hot & spicy gangjung ($32 whole serve) is piping hot and glazed perfectly. The chicken is deliciously moist and lightly fragrant, but it somewhat lacks the wow factor that makes you reach for a second piece.

Red Pepper, Strathfield - spicy Korean fried chicken

However, it's the black sesame chicken ($32 whole serve) that steals the show! This barely needs the mustard or sweet chilli sauce it is served with. They're bite-sized, they're super crunchy, and the boneless drumstick meat is just so full of flavour. I also love the addition of sesame seeds through the batter. 

Red pepper overall scored an average of -

Seasoning: 8.2 original / 6.6 chilli
Moistness: 7.6 original / 6.6 chilli
Crunch: 7.5 for both
Non-greasy: 8.3 original / 6.2 chilli
Size of cuts: 8 original / 7.8 chilli
Accompaniments: 6.6

Red Pepper Total: 7.4/10

Red Pepper, Strathfield - Korean fried chicken bites with sesame

Agreeing that we slightly over-ordered at our first stop, we're a little wiser when we arrive at Jeans Chilli Chicken at Eastwood Hotel. Eastwood is just a short drive from Strathfield but Saturday traffic in Sydney can stretch any short drive into a nightmare.

We stroll in like seasoned pros. Another Korean restaurant, in yet another pub. Everything feels familiar.

Jeans chilli chicken, eastwood

Cautiously inspecting the menu, it occurs to us that Jeans' house specialty is chilli chicken; the BBQ type served on a hot plate, not the chilli fried chicken that would fit our spicy Korean Fried Chicken criteria. Menu photos of the EQ Honey Chicken ($32) look awfully similar though, so we wing it and order that. 

Sticky and sweet, the glaze is definitely more honey-based than chilli. The batter is harsh against the chicken. I think just a minute less in the deep-fryer would have improved this dish.

Korean chilli fried chicken at Jeans chilli chicken

The ginseng fried chicken ($32) is much more exciting, although still a little dry. Normally not a big fan of ginseng, I surprisingly find this version rather pleasant. The bitter/sharp/earthy flavour isn't as pungent and only just imparts a mustardy fragrance.

Jeans chilli chicken - ginseng fried chicken at Jeans chilli chicken

The fun thing about having Korean Fried Chicken at Jeans Chilli Chicken is the DIY rice balls which come complimentary with the chicken dishes. Bonus points for accompaniments there! In fact, in addition to the freshly pickled radish cubes, we're also served a creamy pasta salad with chunks of apple!

They're meant to charge more if you need staff to roll the rice balls, but seeing how clueless we are, the waitress jumps in to demonstrate before letting us do it on our own.

The proper technique is to cut up some chicken finely and knead it into the rice, seaweed and sesame seed mixture. Disposable gloves are readily available to keep this a less messy experience. I love the interactive nature of the rice balls. It makes a simple Korean fried chicken dish go such a long way. I reckon we could easily feed 3 - 4 with just one dish. Whoever said eating out was expensive?

Korean fried chicken crawl in Sydney - handmade rice balls at Jeans chilli chicken

Jeans Chilli Chicken overall scored an average of -

Seasoning: 6 original / 5.8 chilli
Moistness: 4 for both
Crunch: 7 for both
Non-greasy: 7.2 original / 5.4 chilli
Size of cuts: 6.2 for both
Accompaniments: 9.6

Jeans Chilli Chicken Total: 6.2/10

Korean fried chicken crawl Sydney - Beschico in Epping

After a coffee/cafe break, we drive to Epping and arrive during that blurry time slot where restaurants are just semi-open for late lunchers or early dinner eaters. Beschico is dim and uncomfortably warm at first, but we settle quite quickly into one of the booths and all is forgotten once the chicken is served!

Beschico is actually part of a successful restaurant chain in South Korea and there are signs of that in the fast-food style menu and serving plates. Everything is branded down to the wet towelette!

Half and half korean fried chicken at Beschico in Epping

Beschico's original fried chicken is probably the closest to the Kentucky Fried Chicken that we all know. It is more refined in flavour and seasoning, and less oily, but the most similar in terms of texture and appearance.

The spicy version isn't too sweet (a good thing!) and each bite hits those savoury notes well. Feedback all round is that it isn't spicy enough.

Our classic & original combo (chico hot half chicken and chico original half chicken) set us back $34 which seems to be the average price of Korean Fried Chicken nowadays. There feels like a lot of potential here. I mean, you don't become a popular Korean fried chicken chain in Korea for no reason! So I'm keen to return to try the garlic soy sauce flavour.

Beschico overall scored an average of -

Seasoning: 6.6 original / 7.5 chilli
Moistness: 5.8 original / 6.5 chilli
Crunch: 8.3 for both
Non-greasy: 6.8 for both
Size of cuts: 6.3 for both
Accompaniments: 6.3

Beschico Total: 6.9/10

Outdoor dining, beers and Korean fried chicken at Arisun, Sydney

Seeing as Arisun don't do half & half serves, I have to make the very tough decision of just ordering  one flavour instead of reviewing both. 

Jugs of beer helps to break up our fried chicken diet.

Spicy korean fried chicken at Arisun

Arisun's outdoor dining space is always buzzing. Service lacks here but they make up for this with amazing Korean Fried Chicken! You'd think that after having fried chicken all day, that we would be less excited by another plate of KFC, but being reunited with Sun's sweet and spicy fried chicken ($30) was a special moment! It's the way the batter remains so utterly crispy and the perfection of the sweet and spicy glaze that catches me every time.

Arisun overall scored an average of -

Seasoning: 7.8
Moistness: 7.8
Crunch: 6.4
Non-greasy: 6.1
Size of cuts: 7.3
Accompaniments: 6.5

Arisun Total: 7/10

Mysterious Belfield restaurant, Pelicana - Korean fried chicken

The next stop takes us out of the city to the suburb of Belfield. Whoever I ask, even Belfield residents, never seem to have stepped past the frosted doors of Pelicana.

Pelicana opens late and a steady stream of phone orders keeps the owners busy. The doors are usually closed or left open just the slightest amount. I had to solve this mystery once and for all.

Half and half korean fried chicken, Pelicana, Belfield

As you can tell by the photos, the restaurant is shockingly bright inside. It's almost like a casino inside - it could be any time of the day and it wouldn't matter!

The blackboard menu is broken into two categories. There's fried chicken, and sushi. We're talking about big, hearty Korean sushi rolls, the Korean version of a sandwich from the deli! 

But back onto the chicken... Suburbia prices are a nice surprise. For just $22, we get the special dinner for two which consists of 8 pieces of chicken (they happily let us have half spicy and half original), chips and 2 can soft drinks. Radishes are an extra $2 but that's still a bargain in our eyes.

The chips are loaded with chicken salt, an indulgence that brings us back to our high school and uni days. The batter on the fried chicken is breadcrumbed versus the norm. We welcome the refreshing change of texture although it wouldn't be my first preference.The spicy sauce tastes a little generic too. However, I probably should mention it is way past midnight by this stage! So for a midnight snack, this Korean Fried Chicken is a pretty satisfying feed!

Pelicana overall scored an average of -

Seasoning: 5.8 original / 5.6 chilli
Moistness: 6.5 for both
Crunch: 5.8 original / 5.3 chilli
Non-greasy: 7 for both
Size of cuts: 6 for both
Accompaniments: 7

Pelicana Total: 6.2/10

Naruone, Korean fried chicken in Sydney

Admitting defeat after five consecutive Korean fried chicken restaurants, we sadly had to drop NaruOne from the KFC crawl as all of us had been there just a week prior.

Korean fried chicken with shallots at Naruone

It's no secret that I'm a massive NaruOne fan, having eaten there on more occasions than I could ever photograph! Even after the KFC crawl, I still crave NaruOne's fried chicken! On all levels of seasoning, moistness, crunch, non-greasiness, size of cuts and accompanies, their Korean Fried Chicken in my opinion just seems unbeatable.

Half and half Korean fried chicken at Naruone

A special thank you to my hubby (hehe, still getting used to it! #jenandzenwedding) and dear friends Sez, Dave, Bec & Jono for being crazy enough to join me on my KFC crawl! xx

Get your Korean Fried Chicken fix

Red Pepper
Strathfield Sports Club
4A Lyons Street, Strathfield, NSW
Phone: (02) 9701 0911
Web: strathfieldsportsclub.com.au/korean-chicken-menu

Red Pepper on Urbanspoon


Jeans Chilli Chicken
Eastwood Hotel
4A Lyons Street, Strathfield, NSW
Phone: (02) 9701 0911

Jeans Chilli Chicken on Urbanspoon


Beschico
41 Beecroft Road, Epping, NSW
Phone: (02) 9869 8188
Web: beschico.com.au

Beschico on Urbanspoon


Arisun
1 Dixon Street, Haymarket/Chinatown, NSW
Phone: (02) 9264 1588

Arisun on Urbanspoon


Pelicana
6 Burwood Road, Belfield, NSW
Phone: (02) 9742 3399

Pelicana Chicken on Urbanspoon


NaruOne
375 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW
Phone: (02) 9261 2680

NaruOne Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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Issue#28 December 2012
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JENIUS is Jennifer Lam's gourmet logbook covering restaurant reviews, thoughts on trialled kitchen appliances & gadgets, tested and tasted recipes & cookbooks, travel stories and her quest to discover and preserve her family heritage and its cuisine.

Jennifer is a twenty-something Sydneysider living the dream - having switched her successful career in advertising for the life of a Gen-Y entrepreneur. Her current business interests include I Ate My Way Through food tours and The Bamboo Garden boutique digital agency.

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