50% off food bill


Hello everyone 🙂

Being a blog focussed on budgeting etc discounts are always welcome.

It was my birthday two week ago and even though I’m budgeting, it does not mean that I can’t splurge every now and then especially on special occasions. Conscious with how much “fancy” restaurants cost (I mean $250pp for a degustation and still having to go on a maccas run afterwards?) and aware of my partner who is trying to save as well, I came across this website called ‘First tables’. (https://www.firsttable.com.au)

It is literally what the name says. Book the first few tables of the night at selected fine dining or even casual restaurants and get 50% off the entire food bill! (some exclusions apply). There is a catch though, you have to pay $10 up front and there may be certain time restrictions but 2 hours is plenty.

If you’re worried about the stigma of using these discounts from the wait staff there, I’m sorry that has happened to you before but usually at “fancier” restaurants they tend to remain professional. But believe me I have had people look down just because I booked using a special offer. Whatever, better money in my own pocket than theirs 🙂

I told my boyfriend about the website and he went ahead and booked ‘No 1 Bent Street’ (head chef Mike McEnearney). It is located literally on 1 Bent street and it was so good! Every dish was a stand out. I literally can not pinpoint my favourite dish but boy the chicken pate was AMAZING, and the steak, and the lamb, and the quail and the desserts… heck see everything was amazing 🙂

Whats best is looking around and thinking how great it is you only had to pay 50% of the bill.

But don’t go around telling everyone about this website or it’ll be impossible to book a table haha! 😦

Below are some food porn photos from the dinner. Total cost was $120 for the two of us (including drinks that weren’t 50% off). NOT BAD.



Full priced menu


Melt in your mouth chicken pate that is scooped out from a large bowl full of pate


Roast quail with grapes


Charred leeks


Broccolini with anchovy butter (AMAZING)


Melt in your mouth lamb


Caramelised onions with melt in your mouth steak


Quince and pistachio brittle


Plum jam with rice pudding

Let me know if you’re going to start using this website from now on!



$9 Pho?! 

Yep you read that right!

I promised you cheap food on my blog and boy have I delivered!

Hope everyone’s week is going well.

Colder weather equals pho weather.

Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup usually made with raw beef and meatballs. Pho dac biet is the one with every topping possible (including tripe and tendon. My favourite!).  The soup is made using spices such as star anise, ginger, roasted onion, coriander seed, fennel and clove. The soup takes hours to make in order for all the flavours to come through and all that delicious. Again patience is key.

But hey, who has time to make their own pho from scratch? Also why bother when pho is only $9?!

This $9 Pho is a bit of a travel for most as this is located deep in the south west. But everyone knows – West is best! For food anyway.

The south west especially around the Cabramatta and Canley heights area is a Vietnamese hub. Every second shop guaranteed will be a Vietnamese restaurant specialising in pho.

Now this hidden treasure is in Canley heights. Though parking is quite a pain even on weekday afternoons. However bear with it and patience is key. It’ll all be worth it!

There are minimal lines if you get there before 6:30pm. Anything after that will require at least 15 minutes wait.

I don’t know about you but $9 is pretty damn good for a big bowl of pho (they don’t skimp out on anything). Have a look for yourself! I did also get goi cuon (rice paper rolls) and a lemon soda drink. The total was only $26. That’s peanuts!

I highly recommend you visit this place for a bowl of pho. Or to try out any of their other dishes.

It has become a weekly family tradition for me to have our weekly dose of pho from huong xua!

However it is noted that this special offer is only available Tuesday and Wednesdays and the catch is you can only choose TWO toppings for your pho. So sadly no pho dac biet!

If you are ever in the area. Please go visit this place 🙂

Cost: $9
Valid Tuesday and Wednesdays only.
Restaurant: Huong Xua
Location : 4/219 Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights (accessible by car or bus only. Probably at least a 20 minute walk from Canley vale station)
Opening hours : 9am – 10pm

Fun fact: they also do a pho challenge where you have to finish a 2.5kg bowl of pho within 11 minutes.  If you do, you get the meal free! I wish you luck..

Ciao for now!

Ally xx

Soul warming food

This title would have worked so much better if I had this in Seoul. It could’ve been ‘Seoul warming food’ haha!

Unfortunately, this scrumptious Korean meal was in Strathfield – at a lovely little restaurant right next to where Moochi used to be (remember that Froyo chain?! it hit peak popularity a few years back and left right and centre would be some sort of Froyo store. Then one by one they very quickly disappeared…).

Anyway, winter is coming *insert Game Of Thrones meme* in just over 2 weeks. As much as I love Summer, I do love winter. Wearing thick coats and scarves makes me feel like I’m wrapped in a cosy burrito all day long.

Even though it is currently Autumn, Sydneysiders are really starting to feel the cold and who doesn’t want some kind of stew/soup to keep them warm? and who would know best about comfort food but the Koreans themselves where they experience temperatures of  up to -10 degrees celsius for months!



This lovely dish is called ‘Budae-jjigae’ aka ‘Army Stew’. This dish originated because of the scarce availability of food in Korea after the war. Luckily for them they had a huge surplus of military canned food and some genius came up with this!

It is basically a variety of ingredients cooked in a spicy soup over your own personal gas stove. Staple ingredients include ramen (instant noodle), dokkbokki (rice cake), spam, baked beans, tofu and sausages. Depending on the restaurant, this is customisable.

What makes this the perfect cold weather dish?

  1. It’s cooked right in front of you – well you cook it yourself (don’t be so lazy). You can savour the warmth of the gas stove while taking in the delicious aroma’s of the stew. Also, cooking on your own stovetop will ensure your soup never gets cold. Optimal temperature all the time!
  2. It has everything you want in it! It’s fully customisable with a variety of options available.
  3. Whats not to love?! Instant noodles *check*, Sausages *check*, Tofu *check*, chilli/spice *check*
  4. If you have a cold, the chilli in the stew will definitely clear your congested nose.
  5. During your dinner, the waitress/waiter will come over and refill your soup so you can slowly sip on the hot soup afterwards for free.
  6. The portion size is enormous – if you could finish this stew on your own…you deserve an award! I shared this dish with my boyfriend and boy, we were in food coma’s afterwards. We couldn’t even fit in dessert – and I love desserts!
  7. Its Korea’s version of the traditional chinese ‘steamboat’ aka 打邊爐. Mmmm. I am an ABC (Australian born chinese) therefore I have grown up eating steamboats and instant noodles my whole life and when I discovered Koreans had combined the two in a beautiful concoction, I was hooked!

As you can see, we did order a plate of chicken covered in cheese on the side – but this wasn’t necessary as the buddae-jiggae was plenty.

The rice they serve the stew with is a mixture of white rice and a handful of black rice – resulting in the beautiful purple colour with speckles of ‘black’ rice. Simple but super tasty when eaten in together with the stew.

Usually when eating at Korean restaurants, they never skimp out on the side dishes. My mum had actually once gotten full on the sides alone and had to doggy bag her main haha! Unfortunately at this restaurant, they did not provide side dishes. However they did give us a plate of kim chi – so I’m still happy with that!

I will definitely be going back to have this dish again over the winter months. A word of warning though – don’t gobble down the tofu straight out of the stew. You will burn your mouth (True experience… multiple times. It seems I’ll never learn to be patient when it comes to food)

Please let me know if you have had something similar to this before and what winter dishes are your favourite?

Mine is definitely homemade steamboat (打邊爐)!

Details on the delicious dish below:

Name: Alrose Garden
Location: 7-9 Churchill Avenue, Strathfield, Sydney, NSW (5 minute walk from Strathfield station)
Cost:  ~$45 for two. That’s only a bit over $20pp for dinner!

Until next time, thats all for now.