Nok Nok Thai Eating House

Back in my day it was called Tumbalong park and opposite it was Sega World, now the area has been newly finished and is known as Darling Quarter featuring lines of cafes (most with al fresco dining – perfect for the upcoming summer months) overlooking the huge funky playground.  Nok Nok Thai Eating House (Shop 9 Darling Walk, Darling Quarter) is one of these new establishments.

The decor and beautiful presentation  of the space of Nok Nok really excited me with sky high ceilings and mirrors making it look even more light and airy, the pale marble-like walls  provided a lovely contrast to the elements of greenery of hanging potted plants and trees sprouting from the banquet table – it reminded me of  British India.On Saturday night the restaurant was a buzz and most of the booths were reserved so we were seated on the communal banquet table (just make sure your group is not separated by the tree in the table).

As an appetizer our friends ordered the Guay Teaw Lord ($8.90) a wide rice  noodle roll wrapping pieces of chicken, tofu, egg and dried shrimp (?) similarly to the rice noodle rolls served at yum cha. Tonight most of us  ordered noodles Gauy Teaw Kua ($13.90) a soy based stir fried flat rice noodles, chicken Pad Thai ($12.90) thin rice noodles fried with tofu, egg, garlic, chives,  bean sprout and crushed peanuts and I had the Kee Mao ($13.90) a wide rice noodle with holy basil, chilli in a dark soy base. It had a good spicy  kick to it which was easily offset by the light and refreshing lychee frappe ($4.00) I ordered earlier. Instead of noodles Bill had the Duck Red Curry ($18.90) which came in a very generous portion, eggplants, bamboo shoots, basil and green beans swimming in a light curry. As we were finishing our dishes we realise our order of Pla Meuk Yang ($15.90) a grilled whole squid had not yet arrived so we opted to cancel  this dish…boo because I was  really looking forward to this dish as I love the grilled calamari from Chat Thai. The front "kitchen" is an open plan and I spied a massive bowl of mangoes and I knew exactly what I was having for dessert. The Keo Neow Ma Moung ($8.90) mango was fresh and meaty and the sweet sticky  rice seemed lighter than that of other Thai restaurants, needless to say we easily polished dessert off.

Nok Nok Thai Eating House

 
Communal banquet table

Booth dining

Chicken Pad Thai

Chicken Ki Mao

Duck Red Curry

Keo Neow Ma Moung Sweet sticky rice with fresh mango

The atmosphere at Nok Nok is nice and the menu quite extensive featuring some dishes such as the wide noodle rice not commonly featured at other Thai restaurants. The food was great and 'll head back again and hope to be able to try the grilled whole squid soon, the outdoor dining area also seems nice for those balmy summer evenings…there was even a jazz band playing outside on Saturday night.

Nok Nok on Urbanspoon

Sushi Buffet Course at Sushi Samurai

My ears perked up at the thought of a sushi buffet… for only $24.80 that sounded like a bargain. We frequent Sushi Samurai (14 Bunn St Pyrmont) whenever we feel like casual Japanese and the sashimi we've had there is always really fresh (previously posted here)…probably because its so close to the Sydney Fish Markets.

The Sushi Buffet ($24.80) runs for 90mins (after you've ordered) and is only on Saturdays for lunch and I highly recommend you to book – if you've ever been, Sushi Samurai is a pretty tiny space and fills up very fast and they also have a few seats outside. Now before you can order all the sushi you can stuff into your belly (big or small) you first need to finish a Starter Plate which is between a choice of two sushi platters either nigiri or rolls and they both come with two pieces of karaage chicken, agedashi tofu and miso soup. Set A is a platter of nigiri – salmon, tuna, kingfish, scallop, egg, prawn, sea urchin and salmon roe boat and two pieces of karaage chicken. Set B I believe is to cater more for the westerners or non-raw seafood eaters and has 8pieces of roll sushi, 2 pieces of salmon aburi, tuna and prawn nigiri and two pieces of karaage chicken. Once your starter plate is finished the real buffet begins and your free to order unlimited numbers of nigiri and rolls! They offer the usual nigiri salmon, sanma (?!), kingfish, tuna, prawn, squid and egg. Don't fret they also cater for roll lovers offering salmon avocado rolls, tuna salad avocado rolls, vegetarian rolls, California rolls and salmon avocado rolls. I was so happy that they also have aburi sushi which I lovee and ordered loads of scallop aburi, kingfish aburi and salmon aburi. There are also a few items which you are limited to a max 2 piece per person including the scampi nigiri, sea urchin boat and salmon roe boat.

I was a tad sad they didn't have natto rolls and my favourite squid was sold out but the variety they have on offer was amazeballs for a buffet. I had the Set A – I liked the idea of a starter plate, it was like a taster so you know what you might want to order more of. The tuna wasn't bad but the best items on the menu were the scampi and scallop which were both plump and firm and of course the delicious aburi sushi. I thought this buffet was great in terms of affordability, variety and freshness. Personally I thought 90mins was enough and we were all stuffed to the brim, but if you don't think the sushi buffet is enough… you can always order the Sushi Buffet Deluxe course ($29.80)…which includes the same as the Sushi Buffet but you can also get unlimited orders of sashimi (salmon, tuna, kingfish or mixed), takoyaki, karaage chicken, tofu seaweed salad, crispy gyoza, deep fried fish head (salmon or kingfish) and deep fried oyster.

Sushi Samurai (Pyrmont)

Starter Plate A
Salmon, Tuna, Kingfish, Scallop, Egg, Prawn, Sea Urchin, Salmon Roe and 2pcs Karaage chicken and sushi rolls.

Agedashi Tofu

Waiting for our unlimited sushi order making chopsticks holders

Tuna and Kingfish nigiri

Scallop aburi, Salmon aburi and Kingfish aburi

Scampi

Sushi Samurai also have a branch in Neutral Bay, however I'm not sure if they're also offering the Sushi Buffet for Saturday lunches.

Sushi Samurai on Urbanspoon

CRAVE SIFF: Quarter Twenty One Let’s Do Lunch & Azuma Kushiyaki Sugar Hit

It's already the 2nd week of October which means the CRAVE Sydney International Food Festival is in full swing with restaurants all around Sydney offering food events.

Not working in the CBD means I'm not usually able to enjoy Let's Do Lunch offered during the weekdays but this year I was lucky enough to visit Quarter Twenty One (Level 5 Sydney City Westfield) for their Let's Do Lunch offering on the public holiday Monday. Even more awesome was that there was no public holiday surcharge! Though we were also able to order a la carte from the menu, we were both in the mood for the Let's Do Lunch slow cooked short rib of beef, spring vegetable ragout and fondant potato which also came with a glass of Brown Brothers Pinot Grigio for me and a Coopers Beer for Bill. The beef was so tender and melted in our mouths and we each had a generous amount of beef as well. I loved the fondant potato and the spring vegetables brought the dish together with the colours. We also ordered side dishes of veges and hand cut chips thinking it may not fill us up, but in hindisght the main dishes were enough. We even planned to order a dessert (the banana creme brulee was calling my name) to share afterwards but were way too full… not to worry Bill has promised to take me back ๐Ÿ˜€

Quarter Twenty One

Warm crusty bread

Let's Do Lunch
Slow cooked short rib of beef, spring vegetable ragout and fondant potato which also came with a glass of Brown Brothers wine or Coopers Ale

Later in the week I indulged in yet another CRAVE SIFF event with my fellow sweet-a-holic girlies – a Sugar Hit offering a late night dessert during 9pm-11pm with a glass of Brown Brothers dessert wine or green tea at Azuma Kushiyaki for $20. Betty kindly organised a Sugar Hit at Azuma Kushiyaki an East meets West dessert tasting plate which I thorougly enjoyed at least years SIFF Sugar Hit though it had more Western influences than Eastern. However this year we were presented with the desserts which had a stronger Japanese influence and again presented in a two tier box. On the bottom tier we had a white sesame ice cream which had a subtle nutty flavour and a bowl of anmitsu. Anmitsu is a Japanese dessert meaning to top with red bean which was atop a small bowl of assorted seasonal fruits with tapioca pearls and my favourite shiratama rice dumplings covered with kinako powder. This dish was clearly loved by everyone in the group but the texture of the shiratama was a little rough for my liking and I suspect it has been made earlier and then refrigerated.On the top tier we had a yuzu sake, green tea tiramisu, sake sponge bites and a piece of dark chocolate praline. I absolutely loved the yuzu sake and could have had a few more glasses it was refreshing, deliciously citrusy and went down easily, I loved every single drop of it. The green tea tiramisu was my favourite the matcha layers of whipped cream and between them soaked sponge fingers though there was only a hint of shochu and marscapone. The sake sponge bites definitely had been soaked with sake more compared to the shochu soaked sponge fingers. The dark chocolate praline was the Western dessert a soft piece of chocolate encasing pop rocks. We all agreed the dessert here this year was better than last years and I have a feeling that I'm going to return again before the end of October.

Azuma Kushiyaki

Yuzu sake, green tea tiramius, sake sponge bites and dark chocolate praline

Homemade white sesame ice cream and anmitsu

We're now in the second week of October so you have three weeks to loosen your belts and enjoy some of the CRAVE SIFF offerings. Psst….the night noodles markets started this week at Hyde Park.

Quarter Twenty One
Quarter Twenty One on Urbanspoon

Azuma Kushiyaki
Azuma Kushiyaki on Urbanspoon

Kani Douraku, Osaka Japan

It was hard to miss and resist with their giant 6m mechanical crab calling us in. Kani Douraku is a mega crab chain and before you poo poo a chain restaurant…STOP because it was amazing each dish was presented beautifully and the ingredients were handled gently with care and effort going into each dish. The restaurant has a few levels and we were seated on the first level in a booth with a view of Dotomoborigawa.

They were offering a seasonal spring banquet but I opted for the 10 course crab banquet for 6000Y and Bill had a 13 course crab banquet for 8000Y. Both of our banquets had the same dishes except for a few and Bill's course had two servings of crab – zuwai crab which is the Japanese snow crab only harvested in the winter months and taraba crab which when cooked is a vibrant red. Both are deliciously sweet but I think the taraba crab meat was more chunky and satisfying.

If you enjoy crab cooked in a variety of methods and want to try different kani-meshi (foods with crab) you have to go to Kani Douraku. The crab were of high quality the meat plump and flavourful and each dish carefully complemented the crab and brought out the sweetness of the meat. And it's really great value we both left super full and happy with all the dishes.

Kani Douraku
 
 
Crab with ponzu sauce
The first course was my favourite because the crab was served just the way I liked it plainly boiled crab dipped in ponzu sauce – I love the silky firm texture of crab cooked like this and you're able to appreciate the sweetness of the meat when dipped in vinegar. I was also really glad Bill really enjoyed this course too.
 
Ostukuri
Otsukuri which is crab sashimi was our next course. I was a little apprehensive about my crab sashimi because it looked so much like a tongue but the sashimi was melt in your mouth soft and really fresh.
 
Ostukuri
Bill's otsukuri course had a different type of crab sashimi using the zuwai crab called kani sashi where the crab meat is immersed in cold water so that the muscles shrink and become firm and shrivelled which was also very soft to eat.
 
Chawanmushi
We both each had a crab chawamushi mm.. I love my egg custards and so wanted to eat Bill's serving too.
 
Yakigani and kanimiso
Yakigani (grilled crab) arrived in an unexpected form of kanimiso (crab guts) in a shell which once boiled had shredded crab added and mixed into the kanimiso. The kanimiso was pleasant and sort of like sucking the miso from prawn heads.
 
Amiyaki
Instead of yakigani Bill had amiyaki which we grilled ourselves. The legs had plump meat easy to take out of the shell and we just dipped it in a pinch of salt and you could really taste the smokiness from the amiyaki.
 
 
The crab tempura was lightly battered yet crunchy and suprisingly the crab meat was not dry.
 
Suimono and crab sushi
By now we were both very full and the crab sushi don't really stand out in my mind but the suimono was pleasantly subtle with a few small pieces of crab meat. For dessert we were thankful we were given small pieces of fruit which was refreshing and cleansed our palates.