REVIEW: El Shaddai, Merrylands

ELS

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015.

African food is a bit of an anomaly in Sydney – a scattering of restaurants in the Western Suburbs without a “best African food in Sydney” Buzzfeed article to help you navigate them. Sydney’s growing African scene has meant the emergence of more specific restaurants. Offering more varied and regionally specific menus, instead of the all encompassing “African cuisine” representing the many dishes of the second biggest continent in the world. The main street in Merrylands has seen a few businesses open in the last few years, turning one end of Merrylands Rd into a haven for hair extensions and awesome food.

El Shaddai specialises in West African cuisine – you can tell this when you walk in due to the smell of ginger and hot spices, plus the Nigerian dancehall videos showing on the TV. It looks like a humble takeaway joint from the outside – and those looking for humble takeaway food will find cheap fish and chips on the menu – but the rest of the fare is proper sit down knife and fork stuff.

There’s an abundance of stewed meats, charcoal chicken and an intriguing dish called ‘kan kan kan’, but the pride of El Shaddai is their jollof rice with fried tilapia. Jollof rice is red with tomato, vaguely spicy and completely ignored when beneath a colossal fish, fried whole with crackly skin. On the side is a spicy onion relish that makes the white flesh of the tilapia taste even better. Also on the plate: a by-the-numbers garden salad topped with intricate swirls of pink mayo dressing. The perfect salad to cover with fish bones.

ELS2

The unassuming neon sign out the front of El Shaddai is not one that you’d associate with a $30 fish dinner, but the kitchen delivers, making you promise to return to try the rest of the menu and find out whatever the hell kan kan kan is.

Where
130 Merrylands Rd, Merrylands

When
Mon-Sat 12-8:45pm, Sun 2-8:45pm

How much
Mains from $15

REVIEW: Aaboll Cafe, Merrylands

Originally published on TwoThousand in 2015.

African food is a bit of an anomaly in Sydney – a scattering of restaurants in the Western Suburbs without a “best African food in Sydney” Buzzfeed article to help you navigate them. Sydney’s growing African scene has meant the emergence of more specific restaurants. Offering more varied and regionally specific menus, instead of the all encompassing “African cuisine” representing the many dishes of the second biggest continent in the world. The main street in Merrylands has seen a few businesses open in the last few years, turning one end of Merrylands Rd into a haven for hair extensions and awesome food.

aaboll2

El Shaddai specialises in West African cuisine – you can tell this when you walk in due to the smell of ginger and hot spices, plus the Nigerian dancehall videos showing on the TV. It looks like a humble takeaway joint from the outside – and those looking for humble takeaway food will find cheap fish and chips on the menu – but the rest of the fare is proper sit down knife and fork stuff.

aaboll3

There’s an abundance of stewed meats, charcoal chicken and an intriguing dish called ‘kan kan kan’, but the pride of El Shaddai is their jollof rice with fried tilapia. Jollof rice is red with tomato, vaguely spicy and completely ignored when beneath a colossal fish, fried whole with crackly skin. On the side is a spicy onion relish that makes the white flesh of the tilapia taste even better. Also on the plate: a by-the-numbers garden salad topped with intricate swirls of pink mayo dressing. The perfect salad to cover with fish bones.

The unassuming neon sign out the front of El Shaddai is not one that you’d associate with a $30 fish dinner, but the kitchen delivers, making you promise to return to try the rest of the menu and find out whatever the hell kan kan kan is.

Where
140 Merrylands Rd, Merrylands

When
Mon-Wed 7am-8:30pm, Thu-Fri 7am-9:30pm, Sat 10am-9:30pm, Sun 2-8:30pm

Contact
02 8840 9076

Jean Grey #2

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Written by Dennis Hopeless / Drawn by Victor Ibanez

After a disappointing first issue that didn’t suggest anything new or fun was going to happen to one of Marvel’s oldest characters in her first solo series, issue 2 ramps up the excitement levels to the point that it feels like an entirely different book – a book written by the same Dennis Hopeless who gave us the wonderful Spider-Woman series which wrapped up at the start of the year.

After sensing that the Phoenix Force is on its way to find her, Jean Grey gets in touch (via Cerebro, naturally) with every previous Phoenix host she can find – which includes established characters like Colossus, newer ones like Quentin Quire and “oh yeah she’s still around!” characters like Hope. Hopeless handles the different interactions  Jean has with each of her fellow mutants deftly, and artist Victor Ibanez clearly had a ball drawing each of them, especially during their chaotic fight with the Reavers. Jean Grey #2 feels like a more genuine celebration of X-Men history than both X-Men Gold and Blue have tried to be since their launch.

Kamandi Challenge #5

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Written by Bill Willingham / Drawn by Ivan Reis

DC are celebrating the 100th birthday of comics legend Jack Kirby this year by having some of their top creators compete in the Kamandi Challenge. Each issue sees a different writer/art team work on one chapter in the life of Kirby creation Kamandi, the last boy on earth, ending their issue on a cliffhanger that must be solved by the next creative team. It’s been patchy so far, maintaining a sense of fun overall that pays homage to Kirby nicely but rarely offering anything that memorable. That all changes with this phenomenal fifth issue, written by Fables scribe Bill Willingham with art by Ivan Reis – a genuinely top tier creative team.

Willingham ups the stakes for Kamandi almost immediately in this quick moving adventure that feels more packed with development than all the issues prior to this one combined. We meet pirate dogs (literal dogs – Kamandi is a boy surrounded by anthropomorphic animals at all times), lemur mad scientists and a Sherlock Holmes-esque lion detective who almost steals the show – were it not for an incredible, genuinely shocking cliffhanger at the end. I don’t envy the next creative team who have to get Kamandi out of this one. Provided they do, and the Kamandi Challenge finishes as planned at the end of the year, fingers crossed we get more Kamandi adventures from Willingham and Reis, because this was fantastic.

James Bond: Service

Written by Kieron Gillen / Drawn by Antonio Fuso

It’s possible to be a James Bond fan even if you haven’t enjoyed one of his movies in a good 20 years. Warren Ellis made it especially easy last year when he wrote a 12 issue run featuring the character, a genuine surprise from Dynamite comics which saw Ellis modernise the M16 characters from Ian Fleming’s 1950s novels, ignoring the flashiness of the movies and getting to the heart of the character. This was a sharper, more brutal take on 007 – perfectly paired with cold, precise art from Jason Masters.

Since then Dynamite has given us shorter James Bond runs by Andy Diggle and Benjamin Percy but neither have lived up to Warren Ellis’s stint. This week’s new one shot James Bond: Service sees writer Kieron Gillen build nicely on that run, while adding his own signature wit and a risky story that mirrors the current American politic climate. In the most 2017 Bond story ever, America’s new Secretary of State rudely understates the value of Britain before a visit, upsetting one nationalist enough to plan an assassination attempt, which M16 plans to stop.

This well paced one and done story features a rarity for James Bond – having to hunt down a would be assassin who’s British for once – but there’s enough appearances from M16 staple characters to keep the feeling of familiarity. Gillen’s Bond is razor sharp, but there’s a warmth to Gillen’s writing that stops the book from ever feeling as brutal as Ellis’s run did.

Although Antonio Fuso draws a few dodgy faces in the opening, exposition heavy pages, as soon as the action kicks in he’s in his element, keeping the book moving forward as fast a good thriller should. Dynamite should consider releasing more Bond one shots like this, especially if they all get covers as gloriously phallic as this one, drawn by frequent Gillen collaborator Jamie McKelvie.

NEW MIX! KOOL DAD FM 2!

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In 2013 I made a hot mix of classic rock anthems called KOOL DAD FM. The stuff of legends, it took me three long years to put together the sequel but now I am proud to announce that KOOL DAD FM 2 is finally here, just in time for Father’s Day!

I’m throwing a party to celebrate the arrival of this incredible dad-venture in sound this Sunday at The Lord Gladstone. There’s gonna be all the ingredients for a good time: cheap tins, hot meats and dad rock classics. I even made merch! Come along and be the first to proudly own the official DJ Levins / Kool Dad FM beer cooler! Nothing says “I’ve bloody made it” like your name on a stubby holder!

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Listen to the mix below or download the mp3 from here. Get in contact if you want a stubby holder but can’t make it to the party on Sunday and we’ll work something out. Thanks to McKinley for the artwork and the stubby holder design!

 

Tracklist:
JEFFERSON STARSHIP jane
DRAGON april sun in cuba
THE SWEET love is like oxygen
ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA sweet talkin’ woman
TALKING HEADS and she was
MEN AT WORK who can it be now?
INXS original sin
THE SPORTS don’t throw stones
BLUE OYSTER CULT burnin’ for you
SPLIT ENZ nobody takes me seriously
STEVE HARLEY & COCKNEY REBEL make me smile (come up and see me)
GREG KIHN the break up song
BILLY JOEL all for leyna
THE POLICE can’t stand losing you
RUPERT HOLMES escape (the pina colada song)
CHICAGO 25 or 6 to 4
SPIRIT i got a line on you
GOANNA solid rock
MIDNIGHT OIL king of the mountain
AEROSMITH dream on
STEVE MILLER BAND take the money and run
DONNIE IRIS ah! leah!
JO JO ZEP & THE FALCONS hit and run
WEEN even if you don’t
ICEHOUSE crazy
COLD CHISEL flame trees

I’ll do a rap mix next I promise.

dadrock

SUBSCRIBE TO MY PODCASTS

heyfam

Hey Fam..! is a weekly comedy / pop culture podcast that I host with content king and memelord Angus Truskett. Each week we talk about new movies, games, TV shows – mostly we just complain about how bad DC movies are these days. We regularly have guests on, like comedians Tommy Dassalo, Gen Fricker, Becky Lucas, Cameron James, Steele Saunders and more – most of which were featured on our massive live episode recorded at Giant Dwarf last year, which featured a live reading of a script Angus and I wrote for a long lost episode of Entourage (we used to spend 50% of each episode making jokes about Entourage, we still name every episode of Hey Fam after an episode of Entourage).

SUBSCRIBE / WEBSITE / FACEBOOK

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The Mitchen is a weekly podcast about food in Sydney. Each week, ACME‘s Mitch Orr and I sit down with some food industry legends and talk about their craft, how they started doing what they do and the issues facing the industry today. Plus I make lots of bad jokes. Some great episodes to start with are our manic live episode featuring Dan Hong and Mitch having a cook off, the episodes featuring Mark Best and Jeremy Strode, and this episode about tea.

SUBSCRIBE / WEBSITE / FACEBOOK

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Serious Issues is the official Kings Comics podcast – a comic book podcast that actually talks about comic books! Every week Siobhan Coombs and I read and review almost all the new issues of comics that come out (seriously it’s like 40 comics a week) and let you know which comics you should be reading too.

SUBSCRIBE / WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER

 

LIVE FROM MEREDITH

meredithtrolls

I played the Meredith Music Festival in Melbourne at the end of last year and some people were mad at my set so I was a bit of a dick to them online and a few people thought that was funny/newsworthy so for a hot December minute I was all over the internet.

I finally got my hands on the audio from the festival and uploaded my set. I really like it, it’s just a bunch of party songs with me telling a few shit jokes and farting out a few airhorns from time to time (the intro in particular is obnoxious as hell) but I’ve never uploaded a straight up party mix so have at it.

My Soundcloud got deleted for having too much fire on it and endangering the lives of others so it’s up for streaming on Mixcloud. Let me know in the comments if you want me to upload an mp3 of it somewhere and I’ll break the law for you.

Earlier today Thump put up a pretty funny piece about it all – ‘An Oral History of Levins’s Iconic Meredith 2015 Party Set‘. Read that while you listen. If you like this mix and would like to hear something like it in a club near you, get in touch using the contact form in the top corner.

Tracklist

FETTY WAP feat MONTY 679
KAMAIYAH how does it feel
YG feat DJ MUSTARD left, right
TRAVIS PORTER feat TYGA ayy ladies
JCE feat SKIPPA DA FLIPPA twerkin
JUVENILE feat LIL’ WAYNE and MANNIE FRESH back that azz up
HOT BOYS feat BIG TYMERS i need a hot girl
PARTNERS-IN-CRIME feat DJ JUBILEE n.o. block party
MAGNOLIA SHORTY monkey on tha dick
BIG FREEDIA azz everywhere
BIG FREEDIA rock around the clock
NICKY DA B hot potato style
NICKI MINAJ feat LIL’ WAYNE and DRAKE truffle butter
BASENJI can’t get enough
DRAKE feat MAJID JORDAN hold on, we’re going home
GYPTIAN hold yuh
JUSTIN BIEBER sorry
KREPT & KONAN feat JEREMIH freak of the week (SEAN PAUL hype edit)
THE MEETING TREE r u a cop
TINASHE all hands on deck
USHER good kisser
SAGE THE GEMINI feat JUSTIN BIEBER and IAMSU gas pedal (remix)
BEYONCE love on top
RIHANNA no love allowed (BIGGI & RAJEEV GUALTIERO zouk edit)
RICH GANG lifestyle
JAMIE XX feat POPCAAN and YOUNG THUG i know there’s gonna be (good times)
DEJ LOAF try me
DEJ LOAF back up
iHEART MEMPHIS hit the quan
RICH HOMIE QUAN flex (ooh, ooh, ooh)
T.I. what you know (CUTSO remix)
RAE SREMMURD feat NICKI MINAJ throw sum mo
BEYONCE drunk in love (JR BLENDER remix)
USHER climax (JR BLENDER remix)
RIHANNA where have you been (JR BLENDER remix)
FRANK OCEAN thinkin bout you (RYAN HEMSWORTH bootleg)
DRAKE hotline bling
SILENTO x ARIANA GRANDE whip it one last time (VAPORDOG x CASHMERE CAT bootleg)
JEREMIH pass dat
TRAVIS PORTER turn up
DRAKE feat RIHANNA take care
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE my girls
WHITNEY HOUSTON million dollar bill
CARIBOU odessa

HALFWAY CROOKS EAST COAST SPECIAL: THIS SATURDAY!

NYHalfway Crooks kicks off 2016 with a massive East Coast rap special – playing nothing but Rocafella, Dipset, Ruff Ryders, A$AP Mob, G Unit and more all night long!

Featuring Levins, Franco and special guest, all the way from New York, DJ Equal! It kicks off at 9pm at Plan B Small Club (formerly known as Goodgod Small Club).

RSVP and make a request on the event page!

 

CATCH UP WITH HEY FAM!

troopers

I record a podcast every week called HEY FAM with my pal Angus Truskett. Every week we make jokes about all the hot content we’ve consumed, mostly geeking out over comic books, video games, movies, TV etc. We ask funny mates to come join us every other week, sometimes we even get on some actual industry people with real careers! Hey Fam is almost 20 episodes deep now, and I haven’t written about the podcast since episode eight, so here’s a stack of links and pics for the last nine episodes! The easiest way to hear them all is to subscribe on iTunes, but you can also stream it on Stitcher or on our Libsyn page. Enjoy hearing me waffle about things I love with people I love! Follow more of our adventures on the Hey Fam Facebook page.

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Episode 9: The Boys Are Back in Town (with Radge and Eb Yusuf)

Radge and Eb Yusuf spend half their time and all their money watching movies in Gold Class. They are the 1%, and the only people on the planet that liked the Fantastic Four movie, so we got them both on to discuss the best and worst of superhero movies, from the depths of Daredevil and Elektra to the soaring heights of The Winter Soldier. We also ask them to recommend TV shows to fill the True Detective sized hole in our hearts AND we respond to the biggest beef in podcast history – the heroes of Hey Fam versus those scum at the Blank Slate Movie Podcast!

becky

Becky Lucas is a comedian and also the woman responsible for our LEWDEST EPISODE YET! Get ready for thrills, Wils and grills when we ask our first guest who doesn’t watch TV, see movies, play games or read comics to talk to us about TV, movies, games and comics! Marvel as we compare Disneyland to Banksy’s new art stinker ‘Dismal-land’, justify our embarrassing tattoos and serve up another hot slab of beef to our sworn enemies at The Blank Slate Movie Podcast!
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This week we stole Lewi McKirdy, the voice of Australia’s youth, from the triple j studios and forced him to reveal unbelievable facts about himself to us over the course of 90 minutes. Did you know he’s an obsessive iPhone gamer who has at one point held the highest scores in the world for some apps? Or that he recently entered himself into a Mario Kart 64 tournament and has a man crush on a particularly beautiful Nintendo rep? Or that he was on an MTV reality show that saw him swap lives with an American farmer? Also, once he peed his pants on a flight to Hawaii. We learnt all these things about Lewi and learnt a few things about ourselves, like how Angus gets an abscess every time a Metal Gear Solid game comes out, or how Levins still doesn’t know if it’s Sex And The City or Sex And The City. Listen and learn with us, and who knows, maybe you’ll learn something about ~yourself~.
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It’s our first all musical episode with our special guests, the Godfathers of Australian Dance Music: The Meeting Tree! We invited Joyride and Raph to talk about movies, TV, video games and comic books – but end up talking about the ARIA awards, memes and the fact that Raph hasn’t seen a movie since Avatar. Plus Joyride books flights to Brisbane during this episode and it’s an absolute thrill to listen to.
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We invited Steele Saunders, comedian and host of the hit podcasts Steele Wars and I Love Green Guide Letters, into the Hey Fam studios and we made him cry! Actually, he made himself cry as he recounted his emotional journey through Hall H for this year’s Star Wars panel at ComicCon. It’s an all Star Wars episode this week, while Steele isn’t crying we get amped about The Force Awakens, go over the revisions made to the first trilogy and recount our Force Friday experiences. We actually interviewed a line of Star Wars fans out the front of a Toys ‘R’ Us for the midnight launch last week and crammed that into this jam packed episode too.
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