Take Us Away is a new cafe in St Leonards specialising in takeaway meals from salad bowls, burgers, larger meals and a range of smoothies and drinks. Perfect for a lunch or to takeaway for a nearby picnic!
It was time for a doggy play date and Sammie and I had intended to go to an outdoor café to eat. But that morning we decided that it was probably more sensible to get some take away food and have a picnic. "There's a new place near me called Take Us Away," said Sammie. Open at the beginning of December it was open for just a month at the time of our visit.
The owner of Take Us Away is Michael Pha whose family moved from Cambodia to Australia in 1991. He was born here in Australia and it wasn't until kindergarten that he started to experience non-Cambodian food, "It wasn’t delicious too me, I understood because they weren’t made fresh and the ingredients weren’t good. It made me curious to think what it should really taste like foods such as pasta, pies, sausage rolls, pizzas, steaks, salads etc. I wanted to experience it done properly. I would research a lot and watch a lot of cooking shows. I started to cook a lot before and after highschool and realized I enjoyed it. At that time I didn’t think of pursuing it as a career, I just loved to cook."
He worked at Bathers Pavilion and then travelled overseas to Spain, Italy and Germany working as a head chef at cafes before helping to build a franchise called “Harvest Bowl”. Take Us Away is his concept. "All the produce we get are high quality. The grassfed beef, free range eggs and grassfed lamb are sourced from the Hunter Valley. All the sauces we do in-house eg. butter chicken sauce, sesame sauce, allium, tahini sauce etc," says Michael. While there are seats in the St Leonards location he plans to make future locations takeaway only in "Hole in the wall" spots while moving the St Leonards site to a production kitchen.
When I called to check that they were open they asked me if I would like to pre-order so I call them back after a bit of discussion with Sammie. We have a look at the menu online and decide what to order. We meet there and pick up our order and take it to a nearby park. It smells delicious and we can't wait to try it all. Teddy is being driven crazy by the smell of fried chicken (like his mummy, he loves it). We find a table and open up the boxes.
Fried Half Taiwanese Chicken $13.90
This was Sammie's first time trying Taiwanese Style fried chicken and she's smitten. Taiwanese fried chicken is a large, flattened boneless half chicken that is deep fried with a seasoning salt. This is a definite must order and the chicken is so juicy and flavoursome especially with the spicy salt sprinkled on top.
Beef Burger $20.00
Sammie liked the sound of the beef burger so we order that. It's a 180g beef patty on a milk bun with aioli, smokey bbq, American cheese, house pickles, lettuce and tomato. It's not bad but I would have loved it to be a bit saucier and it needs a bit more tang to it. Although the description doesn't mention fries, the beef burger comes with excellent beer battered chips and a choice of sauces for the fries (we ask for tomato sauce and aioli and they also give us mayo).
Butter Eggplant $16.00
I also bought a butter eggplant dish to take home to Mr NQN for dinner. It's a whole roasted eggplant split in half on a bed of Japanese steamed rice with butter chicken sauce, carrots, peas, pickled onions and triangles of flat bread. He really enjoys this and it's got a lot of flavour as well as a comforting texture with the slightly sticky rice and the soft eggplant.
As for the two boys, they wait patiently while we eat and then are off for a run in the park until they are too hot to run any more and rest under a tree in the shade.
So tell me Dear Reader, which sauces do you like with your fries? And what sort of food do you bring to a picnic?
This meal was independently paid for.
Take Us Away
38/46 Albany St, St Leonards NSW 2065
Open 7 days 10:30am–7:30pm (closes 3pm Fridays)