Brickfields, 2013 SMH Good Cafe Guide Best Small Cafe

Congratulations to Brickfields, 2013 SMH Good Cafe Guide Best Small Cafe!

On the way to the city one Sunday morning, a small crowd caught my eye outside a tiny bakery and we decided to spontaneously make a stop. The cafe was Brickfields (206 Cleveland St, Chippendale) which in fact is a half a bakery by Luxe head baker, supplying bread to the likes of Cornersmith and half espresso bar by Mecca Espresso – with a collaboration like that you know it’s going to be great.

Though Brickfields appears to be in a very small space, they definitely make great use of it, making the cafe feel open and airy with hanging plants, large windows and a peek into the working bakery behind the counters. Even smarter use of the space are the industrial looking swivel stools which can be hidden under the counters. There are several large tables outside however, luckily for us it wasn’t too busy this particular morning and we grabbed a couple of counter seats by the large sacks of flour and grains.

You would expect great coffee by Mecca Espresso and Brickfields did not disappoint, the coffee was smooth and one of the creamiest I’ve had. Just a note ladies, they don’t offer skim milk, but they do have Bon Soy! They also serve carafes of homemade mint sodas and lemon sodas which most tables were enjoying. Bill likes to judge eateries based on how well their bacon roll is, and he didn’t have any complaints, bacon, lettuce, mayo sandwiched between a freshly baked roll. I opted for the Breakfast Plate which was as satisfying as it sounds, a piece of sourdough toast beneath layers of fried eggplant, tahini, a halved boiled egg perched on top with zhoug (a green paste made with spices and coriander) served with a wedge of lemon. The entire dish as a whole was so delicious from the zhoug to the zing of the lemon, I forsee many breakfast stopovers here just for the Breakfast Plate.

Brickfields

Breakfast Plate

Bacon Sandwich

Brickfields is located on Cleveland Street but it’s best to find parking around Balfour Street. The menu is quite limited but you won’t be disappointed by their freshly baked goods and if you don’t happen to grab a table just sit by the wooden planters under the trees with a take away croissant and coffee.

Brickfields on Urbanspoon

MoVida Sydney

My my how fast 2013 has already flown by, cannot believe it's already mid March! If you follow me on twitter or instagram you'll know that I've been in and out of Sydney in recent months for work and though it may be two nights here and there, it starts to accumulate and I always feel really far away from the boy. So when I returned from a back to back Malaysia and Perth trip, he suprised me with a lunch date at MoVida Sydney (50 Holt St, Surry Hills).
We've been wanting to go to Movida Sydney since it opened in Sydney as we loved Movida in Melbourne and Bill wanted another taste of the anchoa! However it's always been booked out, but yay they're now open for late Saturday lunches and take bookings.

We were seated on the high tables lined by the windows – and yes they have bag hooks under the table – and we were served crusty bread sprinkled with salt with olive oil for dipping. Now Movida has always served complimentary bread however some months they participate in Bread for Change where diners can pay an optional $1 for the bread which is donated towards a charity – our donation went towards the Salvation Army's Bushfire Disaster Relief Appeal and it's  great initiative by restaurants participating, and imho the bread is definitely worth the extra $1. The Sherry Cobbler with Fino Sherry, Orange and Lemon was a delicious way to kick off lunch while Bill went for the Sangria.
It was pretty easy ordering this time around, knowing how big the portions were for each type of dish, if you haven't been to Movida the waiters are very helpful in ordering enough for your party ranging from small tapas plates to larger share plates. Bill's only request was he definitely wanted the Anchoa again, the single salty piece of Cantabrian anchovy with a quenelle of smoky tomato sorbet on a perfectly thin crisp was just as good as the one we first ate in Melbourne. The Bocata de Buey was a sight to see! A hollow air baguette wrapped with a thin rost biff wagyu topped with Tocino de Cielo and altogether paired so well with the sweet pickled and black garlic – this was going to be a new favourite along with the Anchoa. We only ordered one serving of the Pintxo de Pulpo Gallega but I wishe we ordered one for each, it was perfectly cooked, my knife cutting the octopus pincho like butter which was melt in your mouth and seasoned with paprika served on top a potato mash. Of the larger plates we ordered the Mojama, perfect blocks of watermelon topped with slices of air cured tuna with beetroot, marcona almonds and goats cheese. We also could not go past the Cecina which we missed on our previous visit in Melbourne, thin slices of air cured wagyu beef with the creamy, gooey poached egg and truffle foam was decadent and amazing, our favourite dish from our lunch. I was tempted by the churros for dessert, but I wanted to taste the Flan which blew my mind last visit and did not disappoint in Sydney, we indulged in the creme caramel which wobbled on the plate, velvety smooth we finished it within minutes.

MoVida Sydney


Sherry Cobbler and Sangria

Bread for Change

Anchoa
Artisan Cantabrian Anchovy with Smoked Tomato Sorbet 4.5 each

Pintxo de pulp gallega
Octopus Pincho served with Potato and Paprika 6.8 each

Bocata de buey
Air Baguette, Rost Biff Wagyu, Tocino de Cielo, Pickled & Black Garlic 8.5 each

Mojama
Air Cured Tuna with Beetroot, Watermelon and Marcona Almonds 19

Cecina
Air cured Wagyu Beef with Truffle Foam & a Poached Egg 21.5

Cecina

Flan
Crème Caramel served with Pestinos 14

Movida Sydney is an aboslutely great addition to Surry Hills with a great vibe, fantastic service and the food just as great as the Melbourne Institution. Now there's no need to jump on a plane, just make your way down to Surry Hills, be sure book ahead as it's so popular we were unable to book even a weekday dinner for my birthday last year, however they do have few spaces for walk ins by the bar also. As they change their menu items often, I can't wait to go back and try the other dishes.

MoVida Sydney on Urbanspoon

Four in Hand

My mum becomes some what of a foodie fan-girl whenever Colin Fassnidge makes an appearance on television, so when the time came around to book a restaurant for her birthday lunch, her first choice was naturally, Four in Hand (105 Sutherland St, Paddington). Four in Hand is nestled in the residential street of Paddington and the dining room is further hidden through the pub. We were seated in an intimate dining room with elegant dark wood floors, beneath the giant squid painting. I was excited to dine here as Four in Hand makes the most of their produce through the nose to tail cooking philosophy.

To start, complimentary Iggy's sourdough bread is served, airy and delicious, followed by an amuse bouche of basil, paprika and citrus served in a tiny cup to whet the appetite. Though their menu is on the smaller side, it was hard to decide between the dishes. Luckily between the four of us we managed to cover the most of the menu.
I could not go past the lightly seared bonito with apple and cucumber jelly with a combination of textures, flavours which was all very prettily plated, while the others ordered the beautifully presented sashimi of trout hidden beneath ribbons of radish. I continued with the white meat theme and had the roasted jewfish with deliciously smoky vegetables for a main but was envious of mum's gorgeous piece of beef, bone marrow and delicate onion rings in the most amazing cast iron plate and a side serving of green beans with hazelnut dressing. A combination which I wasn't too sure of was the spanish mackeral with prosciutto and squid gnocchi which was perfect together in an amazing seafood mussel broth while you cannot go wrong with the suckling pig served with a side of the absolutely smoothest and creamiest colcannon, an Irish mashed potato dish with kale. Dessert was an easy decision, the chocolate snickers presented much like a garden of soil of scoops of chocolate mousse ad peanuts dusted with cocoa and sprinkled with micro herbs popping out. For the brother with a peanut allergy, a caramlised ad stewed apple with a refreshing yoghurt popsicle.

Four In Hand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Four in Hand is definitely deserving of the GFG two hats, surprising flavour combinations which worked perfectly and an experience topped off with attentive and warm service. Definitely a place I would love to take Bill for a carnivorous hit and I am sure he would enjoy the braised tender meats and head to tail cooking philosophy. Loved it so much I'll also have to make our way to Four Fourteen soon.

Four in Hand on Urbanspoon

Cowbell 808

Oops, apologies for my absence…it has been a while since I've been back from Canada…but I'm back with the new kid on the Surry Hills block.

Cowbell 808 (616 Bourke St Surry Hills) is a retro inspired cafe complete with hip hop graffiti feature wall, indoor basketball hoop, a counter behind a row of old school vinyl records and lego knick knacks…I think my 80's McDonald's happy meal toys will fit right in here. The kitchen is small but they make mostly everything on the premises, even smoking their bacon and the house blend Toby's Estate made for a delicious coffee. It took a while however our food eventually arrived on our vinyl table burnt with an iron. I had the Pork 'n' beans on toast, a mountain of white beans and hearty saucy pork with a nice kick of tabasco topped with grated provolone made for a perfect brunch on this winter's day. Bill naturally wanted to try the Cowbell 808 burger a ground beef pattie, lettuce, cheese, pickles and a side of onion rings. I loved the onion rings and wished we could have ordered a side of these to share! My friend had the Grilled Eggplant roll which we agreed was the tastiest dish of the day fried cauliflower, eggplant, hommus and mint on grilled flatbread.

If you're feeling adventurous and in the need of some comfort food you can't go past the Fat Stacked Hotcakes with marscapone, bacon ice cream and espresso syrup, which we're saving for next time!

Cowbell 808
 
 
Lismore spoon
 
turn around Mr Legohead
 
Cowbell 808 Burger
 
Pork 'n' Beans on Toast
 

With our bellies full, it was off to the 18th Biennale of Sydney to check out the exhibitions on Cockatoo Island. My favourites were the Hylozic Series: Sibyl and the Dune lights in the Dog Leg Tunnel while Bill enjoyed the Living Chasm a pure water fog.

Biennale of Sydney ends 16 Sept
 
The River
 
 
 
Domesticated Turf

Domesticated Turf
Industrial doillies made of sand

Cowbell 808 on Urbanspoon

Tetsuya’s

Just a little over a month ago I celebrated my birthday…and I'm still getting used to the number 24. We celebrated my birthday (for yes a second time) at Tetsuya's (529 Kent St, Sydney). Tetsuya's one of S.Pellegrino's World 100 Best Restaurants, once the Best Restaurant in Australasia has always been on my wishlist since forever and has held the Good Food Guide's three hat status for just as long, but as I'm waiting for my booked date to arrive, in 2011 Tetsuya's lost one hat – perhaps he is concentrating on his Singapore restaurant Waku Ghin, but none the less I was still as excited!
Having walked past Tetsuya's countless times, once you step past the gate on Kent Street, you're transported out of Sydney city and into a quiet and serene Japanese town and reminds me much of our stay at a ryokan in Arima Onsen, Kyoto. The restaurant is a maze, the dining rooms are large and decorated with artworks, we're seated by the window and the Japanese zen garden.

I'm sure you have heard all the amazing things about Tetsuya's Unsalted Butter with Ricotta and Truffles and it's true, it's light, airy and simply delicious. Bill was sensible, not wanting to fill up on bread and stopped at one bread roll, I on the other hand could not resist slathering it on my warm crusty roll white bread with fluffy inards…and then order another roll of rye bread…I just love great butter with good bread.
To whet our appetite we started with Chilled Pea Soup with Mint. The next dish was a supplementary item which we nodded our heads furiously to when offered by the waiter, Pacific Oysters with Rice Vinegar and Ginger. I love the acidity from the rice vinegar which complemented the fresh creamy oyster well and was well worth the additional $18 for four oysters.
I'm always super excited when chawanmushi is served and it was no different this time when the Savoury Custard with Sea Urchin arrived, the silky smooth custard in my favourite dashi broth melted in my mouth but I much prefer the texture of raw sea urchin than steamed. Sashimi of Kingfish with Blackbean and Orange was the perfect harmony of flavours, the tartness from the mirin and blackbean drizzled on the firm Kingfish sashimi. Next, a beautiful piece of Grilled Scampi with Chicken Liver Parfait brought together with a light walnut dressing.
The next dish is Tetsuya's signature dish and remains the only constant on his menu throughout the years. Now admittedly I was afraid of this dish just in case I couldn't finish it, you see I don't enjoy salmon and ocean trout sashimi. Despite this though, I absolutely loved the Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with Shaved Fennel with Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Caviar. Being Japanese, kombu is a staple in our diet, but for Bill it's unfamiliar and strange. Kombu is a seaweed or kelp and is used to make dashi broth, you can also have it dried and eaten as a condiment to the humble bowl of rice. The confit of the ocean trout created an interesting texture, the fish was flaky but firm as you cut into it, a melting mouthful against the crisp kombu crust adding sea saltiness to the freshness of the fish. And of course the fish roe added popping fun and deliciousness. It's no wonder this is Tetsuya's signature dish and if I'm to eat ocean trout again it'll have to be Tetsuya's.
Our last of the seafood dishes was the Steamed Queensland Spanner Crab with Bean Curd, Foie Gras and Junsai, a delicate and sweet terrine of spanner crab and silken tofu with subtle foie gras and hints of junsai a sprout covered with a jelly like texture.
Onto the meat courses a pink and crispy skin covered Duck Breast with Pickled Beetroot. Much to Bill's delight we're served a substantial piece of Grass Fed Angus Beef and Tendon with Wasabi and Mustard Seeds, rare, tender and soft, one of the best pieces of steak we have had in a while and perfect with the mustard seeds.
Our refreshing pre dessert of Ginger Ice Cream with Lychee Granita served as a palate cleanser. Tetsuya's Bread and Butter Pudding similar to a creme brulee, a sweet concoction of creamy vanilla custard and cinnamon. My birthday warranted a special dessert a Chocolate Fondant with Hazelnut and Praline, a gorgeous warm centered fondant oozing warm chocolate flecked with salt pieces paired with a quinelle of creme fraiche ice cream and candied hazelnuts. While the Mister has a Chocolate Pave with Cream Cheese Ice Cream and Cinnamon Twigs, a dense rich mousse, dark and bitter chocolate balanced by the tanginess of the cream cheese ice cream. I was too busy immersed in my chocolate fondant that I didn't get to try any of the cinnamon twigs ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
And just in case we weren't full enough we're served petit fours of hazelnut chocolate to finish our night.

Tetsuya's
 
Warm crusty white roll with fluffy innards
 
Rye bread roll
 
Unsalted butter with Truffles and Ricotta – absolutely heavenly
 
Chilled Pea Soup with Mint
 
Pacific Oysters with Rice Vinegar and Ginger
 
Savoury Custard with Sea Urchin
 
Sashimi of Kingfish with Blackbean and Orange
 
Grilled Scampi with Chicken Liver Parfait
 
Steamed Queensland Spanner Crab with Bean Curd, Foie Gras and Junsai
 
Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with Shaved Fennel with Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Caviar
 
Breast of Duck with Pickled Beetroot
 
Grass Fed Angus Beef and Tendon with Wasabi and Mustard Seeds
 
Ginger Ice Cream with Lychee Granita
Tetsuya's Bread and Butter Pudding

 
Warm Centred Chocolate Fondant with Candied Hazelnut and Cream Fraiche Ice Cream
 
Chocolate Pave with Cream Cheese Ice Cream and Cinnamon Twigs
 
Mr. Wakuda and I
Our Tetsuya's experience was heightened even more when Tetsuya himself came by our table and had a chat with us which I thought very charming and nice of him. The degustation was simple using fresh produce from around Australia, I hear Tetsuya has a trout farm and buys his Japanese vegetables from one Sydney farm, each dish cooked perfectly and presentation was outstanding. We could not fault the dishes nor the service which was impeccable.
Dear SMH GFG…Surely the exceptional and delicate, melt in your mouth confit of Petuna Ocean Trout alone is equivalent to the third hat …no?

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon

La Bodeguita del Medio

Have you ever had Cuban food before? I've walked past La Bodeguita del Medio (125 York Street) plenty of times as it stands in a heritage building opposite the Queen Victoria Building but I've never stopped to take a look inside or peruse their menu until last week. Who knew that in the heart of the CBD there would be a lively Cuban restaurant, vibrant on a Thursday night, atmosphere a buzz with crowds gahtering for the $10 Mojitos. As soon as you step into the grand restaurant fitted with dark furnishings it is as if you've been transported to Havana, Cuba with the lively music, photographs on the walls and hospitable welcoming service.

Ordering cocktails was easy – LBDM is the "home of the mojito" and Hemingway coined the term "mojito in La Bodeguita" so mojito it was! The mojito was very refreshing and had a great balance of mint and limes. While Bill of course went for a girly pink drink the Quaker which was absolutely delicious. It took us a while to decide on what dishes to order, our friendly waitress was very helpful in this department interpreting the menu from Comestibles (size between tapas and entrees), Entradas (entrees), Fondo (mains), Carnes (meat) and Para Acompanar (side dishes). In the end we took our waitresses suggestion on board and had the Ceviche del dia, a Peruvian style ceviche which was lively and  had a great kick to it. I especially loved the vinaigrette and was tempted to sip out of the bowl! We also ordered the best sandwich ever the Pan Con Lechon (pan means bread – same in Japan) with a generous piece of kurobuta pork, melty cheese and onion salsa had us salivating. All this eating did make us thirsty so it was time for another drink and I went for another rum based cocktail the Nacional which was delightfully fruity that Bill also wanted one ๐Ÿ˜› For the mains I could not go past the Pato con Chocolate beautifully pink tender slices of duck breast on top of a sweet potato croquants with chocolate sauce. The skin on the duck breast was crisp and the chocolate sauce was subtle and sweet – a delicious combination. Bill had to have the porterhouse steak Lomo de res served with rosemary and garlic roasted potatos. The steak was so wonderfully charred and grilled and had a smokey aroma that Bill obviously hasn't been able to get off his mind as he has been talking about it all week. We also wanted to order something "Cuban" as the menu has alot of South American influences so we had the Tostones of fried plantains (green bananas) with Cuban aioli which was like savoury banana fritter and almost resembled a potato… The portion here are very generous but we still had room for dessert ๐Ÿ˜‰ I was curious about the La Lechera  described as "a class…LBDM style" and as soon as the waitress said "condensed milk bubbles" I was sold, yes I do need that much calcium.Though presented more simply than Bill's dessert there was a chocolate caramel condensed milk semi freddo in condensed milk bubbles topped off with a banana and chocolate swirl. Surprisingly the dish wasn't overly sweet and I loved the difference of playful textures between the airy bubbles and smooth semi freddo and the chocolate, banana and milky flavours.Bill opted for the special that night which was Dulce de Leche (a caramel from Latin America) inspired special with vanilla sponge soaked in pineapple juice with pineapple jelly, custard vanilla and a strawberry and mint sorbet. It was presented very prettily and the thin sheets of pineapple jelly were intriguing but best of all was the custard and caramel which we would happily lick the plate for.

I loved how the restaurant has committed to transporting you to Cuba with the menu, mojitos! music, atmosphere and furnishings such as portraits and hanging signs. I even spied a rum locker as I walked to the unisex bathrooms. I can definitely say that we've both has a taste of Latin American food and can't wait to try a few more items on the menus as sadly we didn't order any of the entradas. They also have a fully serviced bar downstairs with live music which could possibly become my colleagues and I next local watering hole with the happy hour $10 Mojitos.

La Bodeguita del Medio


Mojito
Havana Club Rum, Fresh Mint & Lime, Soda & Sugar 14

Ceviche del día
Peruvian style ceviche 15

Pan con Lechón
Kurabuta pork, sweet potato crisps, onion salsa 18


Nacional
Club Havana Rum, Apricot liquer and a couple of splashes of Pineapple Juice. 15
Quaker
Havana Blanco Rum & Cognac shaken with raspberry syrup & fresh lemon juice 17

Tostones
Fried plantains with Cuban aioli 8

Pato con chocolate
Duck breast, sweet potato & spinach croquants & chocolate sauce 36

Lomo de res 300g
O'Connor premium pasteurised porterhouse steak 42 All steaks are served
with Rosemary & Garlic roasted potato & house made condiments

Dulce de Leche (a caramel from Latin America) inspired
special with vanilla sponge soaked in pineapple juice with pineapple
jelly, custard vanilla and a strawberry and mint sorbet

La Lechera
a class…LBDM style. 15
(chocolate caramel condensed milk semi freddo in condensed milk bubbles topped off with a banana and chocolate swirl)


you can even leave your mark with scribbles on the wall

Ayana dined as a guest of La Bodeguita del Medio

La Bodeguita del Medio on Urbanspoon

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

Korean Cultural Cooking class LA Galbi and Kochujang Jiggae

Annyeong! I love Korean food, especially hot pots and I love having Korean bbq with friends (not so much having the bbq smell in my hair) and kimchi and korean fried chicken are staples in my house but I've no idea how to make most of these korean dishes. So I was excited when Heather Jeong of SBS Korean Food Safari and SBS Kitchen Conversations fame invited me to attend one of her popular Korean cooking classes held at the Korean Cultural Office (255 Elizabeth Street, Sydney). I was a bit confused as I'd walked past Elizabeth Street several times but I've never seen the KCO well it's not because I'm going mad but it's fairly new and opened in 2011 the year of friendship between Korea and Australia. The Korean Cultural Office is more like a museum and currently exhibitis ancient tools, Korean arts and instruments.

Our class was a small group of six and I was lucky enough to bump into the lovely Vivian there too. I especially loved how intimate the class felt and made it a very enjoyable hands-on class. Heather started to demonstrate and explain Korean cuisine and core ingredients whilst we nibbled on some gingko nuts, said to improve your memory.
One of the dishes we were taught was LA Galbi a dish which has increased in popularity in Hawaii and Los Angeles. This is one of Bill's favourite dishes and we almost always order these marinated short ribs when we go Korean bbq. Heather kindly explained the different cuts of meat, showed us how to butterfly the meat and tips on how to buy them at the butchers – ask for pyeon galbi (non-marinated). We each marinated our own cuts of meat with sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, refined brown sugar and some kiwi to break down the meat with acidity and popped it in the fridge to absorb all the flavours and ready to cook later at home. Heather had  pre-marinated some LA galbi which she simmered over a low heat (on baking paper so the sugar doesn't ruin the pan) and we had a plate of tender, sweet short ribs best wrapped in a korean lettuce.
Kochujang jiggae and sundubu were one of the first Korean dishes I tried and I've loved Korean cuisine ever since. Kochujang jiggae is a korean chilli hotpot, a sort of comfort food to eat with a bowl of steamed rice. It's a one pot dish and very easy to make, as long as you have some core ingredients – kochujang – a vibrant red chilli paste made from harvested and sundried chillis and doen jang – a fermented soybean paste. The seasoning (kochujang, doen jang, dash of soy sauce) along with your vegetables (tofu, zucchini, potatoes) and pork mince are cooked in the korean claypot called a duk baegi which can be bought at Korean grocery shops. After 10 minutes it should a vibrant red and be bubbling hot, ready to eat with a bowl of rice.

Once we had the hands-on cooking experience and gained knowledge of the korean culture as well as the cuisine, the class concluded with a sit down meal, sampling the dishes we made today and banchan which are side dishes normally served at each meal to accompany your rice – I love banchan served at korean restaurants I would be happy eating just that with rice! Heather generously prepared a colourful array of banchan including kimchi, kongnamul (bean sprouts in sesame oil), a Japanese style sunomono and lotus root jorim (simmered in broth). Heather also bbqed some strips of wagyu which were marbled beautifully, seafood pajeon (pancake) with squid and mung bean pajeon to sample. Due to the sweetness of korean dishes, dessert is normally fruit however since it is nearing "Chuseok" the celebration of the harvest moon and Korean thanksgiving, we were treated to some pretty rice crisps!

The Korean Cultural Office cooking class was a great experience and I had a lot of fun learning to make some of my favourite korean dishes. The classes are intimate and Heather is a lovely teacher providing guidance along the way. It was a great way to learn further about the korean culture and the unique ingredients and techniques particular to korean cuisine. The Korean Cultural Office are holding cooking classes in October and November and are very affordable and pays for itself with the sit down meal at the end ๐Ÿ˜‰ For further information head on over here Traditional and Modern Tastes of Korea. Happy Chuseok and Moon Festival everyone!

Korean Cultural Office Cooking Class

Pyeon galbi

Butterfly and score the meat

Marinate in sesame oil, soy, green shallots, ginger, garlic and brown refined sugar

Simmer over a low heat for sweet, tender LA Galbi

Doen Jang – soybean paste

Kochujang Jiggae

Steamed rice

Wagyu strips


Mung bean pajeon

Banchan

Happy Chuseok!

Heather Jeong

Thank you KCO for a lovely afternoon and beautiful meal. Ayana attended courtesy of Korean Cultural Office.

Shiki

I just read on twitter that Shiki is celebrating their 27th anniversary! Shiki (Argyle St, The Rocks) is the longest established Japanese reaturant in Sydney and though my parents dined here when they first arrived in Australia some 23years ago, it was only earlier this year that I dined here for the first time. It's quite fancy, the interior is roomy and the dark furnishings matched with the jazz music made it that much more romantic.

We were here with another couple and the staff gave us the flexibility of ordering degustation as well as the a la carte menu. Our besties opted to order the monthly degustation which changes each month which is a very good reason to go back each month to try something new! On the other hand Bill and I chose a few items from the a la carte menu. We ordered the Deluxe Sashimi platter a chefs selection of sashimi which included thick pieces of fresh succulent ocean trout, maguro (tuna), hamachi (kingfish), tai (snapper), hotate (scallop) and bonito and followed by Wagyu Sirloin steak cooked to order medium rare and served with ponzu – my favourite condiment. While I was happily eating away at my Seafood Chawanmushi our pink ganen plate arrives along with the seafood platter. Shiki is known for their pink ganen (rock salt) hot plate which is a natural salt from the Himalaya which won me over with the phrase "absorbs the excess fat making it extremely healthy" and "no chance of food being burnt" – a win for both Bill and I since we had to cook it ourselves. The seafood was grilled lightly on the pink salt plate bringing out the natural flavour of the seafood and since it absorbed a small amount of the pink salt I found it quite cleansing on the palate. I'm a sucker for shiratama so when I spot this on the menu we finished the night off on a sweet note sharing a dessert plate of Green Tea ice cream, red bean, strawberries and shiratama.

If you're in the mood for traditional Japanese food which is a little fancy you should definitely consider Shiki. I'm looking forward to trying one of their monthly degustations next time.

Shiki Sydney

Umeshu

Deluxe Sashimi Plate

Wagyu Sirloin Steak


Seafood Chawanmushi

Natural Pink Ganen plate

Pink Salt Seafood plate

Dessert Plate

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Sake Restaurant & Bar

I’ve been to Sake twice more after my first visit with these lovely girls…way back when it was really hot during the Sydney summer…so I totally thought I’d blogged about this already, my bad.

Sake Japanese Restaurant & Bar (12 Argyle St, The Rocks) was the newest addition to the Argyle Precint at The Rocks serving contemporary Japanese food. First order of our summer lunch was ordering some cocktails to cool ourselves, I think most of us chose the girly Pink Blossom a cocktail mix of summer fruits and umeshu and it was just what I wanted and I loved crunching on those passionfruit seeds. Of course after seeing Sushi Chef Shaun Presland on Masterchef we could not forgo the sashimi tacos. The crunchy sashimi tacos are delicate and I loved the fresh salsa with the tuna and the sake shot went down rather smoothly. Chirashi sushi is one of my favourite dishes to indulge in Japan, so I was curious to see what the Chirashi salad was like and it was easily my favourite dish and one of the main reasons why I’ve returned to Sake. It was a deceptively simple salad presented with lashings of mayonnaise concealing a salad of sashimi pieces and soba noodles, omelette, and the best thing about it was the tenkasu – I’ve ordered this each time I’ve been back – it’s that good.The sashimi combo was the highlight for most with delicate pieces of fresh sashimi-grades slices sitting atop a bed of ice, hehe I was so happy to see slices of bonito besides the usual salmon and tuna. Other dishes we ordered was the grilled scampi cooked prefectly so the meat was easily pulled apart from the shell and the popcorn shrimp roll filled with bite sized prawn tempura pieces. Though we had plans to have dessert at La Renaissance patisserie we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try a couple of desserts at Sake. Desserts containing tofu is not unusual in Asian cuisines so we chose the Orange Tofu Cheesecake which was presently so prettily and I really enjoyed the subtlely of flavours of the tofu and Grand Marnier. The Frozen yuzu souffle was not quite what we imagined, it was more like a mousse than a souffle but I absolutely love the yuzu flavour and the I would have happily licked the miso-ginger caramel off the plate.

I was amazed at the amount of space in the restaurant and it’s ability to cater for all types of diners as we walked past the huge private dining rooms, smaller private rooms and dined surrounded by intimate booths too. Our waiter was charming and friendly and the atmosphere in the restaurant was abuzz. Sometimes I’m a bit skeptical of fancy takes on Japanese food but I’d happily come again and again for the funky and contemporary menu of Sake and kick back with plenty of delicious cocktails. 


Sake Restaurant and Bar
 
 
The Pink Blossom
Strawberries, citrus fruits, passionfruit smashed & combined with umeshu and cranberry juice

 
Sashimi Tacos
tuna and salmon sashimi filled baby tacos with chilled tomato salsa matched with Kozaemon Junmai ‘sake shots’

 
Chirashi Salad
Yuzu-dressed sashimi pieces, crunchy salad mix, thin noodles, sliced sushi omelette & flying fish roe topped with daikon tsuma & tempura crunch

 
Sashimi combo classic

 
Grilled scampi
grilled green tea salted scampi on daikon ribbon salad with yuzu dressing

 
Popcorn roll
prawn-tempura pieces rolled inside out with spicy mayonnaise and spicy tobiko

 
Orange Tofu Cheesecake
Grand Marnier tofu cheesecake with white sesame seed tuille

 
Frozen yuzu souffle
citrus-infused souffle with miso-ginger caramel sauce

 

Sake Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Quarter Twenty One Cookery School – Perfect Pork Crackling

A few weeks ago, I was looking for ideas for Bill’s Quarter of a Century birthday and I got a little sidetracked landing at Quarter Twenty One’s website. My eyes lit up at the sight of those three little words… "Perfect Pork Crackling", without a doubt Bill’s favourite foods are pork crackling, pork belly and a great piece of steak. And I knew this would be a nice little gesture to celebrate Bills birthday and had ourselves booked in for the express class.

Opposite Becasse Bakery is Quarter Twenty One (Level 5 Westfield Sydney) including the bistro restaurant and providore where I spy amazing produce, walls of wine and the pink salt that I usually take as souvenirs overseas ๐Ÿ˜› (You also get 10% off products if you’re attending the cookery school). Through the providore you’ll find yourselves at the Quarter Twenty One Cookery School run by the lovely Libby. The school is fitted with stainless steel tops, state of the art equipment and finished with a wall of mini spice jars giving a warm, intimate and homely feel.

The class began with the grinding the fennel seeds and salt in the mortar and pestle to massage onto our huge pork rumps after scoring the skin. After our mise en place was completed, accompanied with a glass of wine we watched as Head Chef of Quarter Twenty One Michael Robinson shared his knowledge and food inspirations with us. We watched in anticipation as he demonstrated how to cook the crispy pork crackling and accompanying side dishes of sprout and chestnut saute, caramelised pears and a potato puree whilst he and director Libby Travers provided us with tips and tricks to cook a fail safe dinner.

The end result? Hearing the crunch as the pork was cut into serving pieces and smelling sweetness of the pears and the beautifully caramelised brussel sprouts. Of course we got to eat some too!

We both loved the class and the idea of cooking for the soul – I think it was Bill’s first recipe too (hopefully not the last)! Though they call it a 45 minute express class, it was really relaxed able to ask questions and a casual way to perfect a culinary skill. A definite big bonus was we have completed most of the mise en place for dinner and ready to cook!

How did we go at home? Well… it didn’t go quite as smoothly as he demonstrated and took us nearly 90mins to get dinner on the table but practice makes perfect!

Quarter Twenty One
 
 

Quarter Twenty One Cookery School
 
 

 
Peering into the bag of goodies – brussel sprouts and chestnuts

 
Kurobuta pork rump ready to be scored and massaged with fennel seeds and pink salt

 
Head Chef Michael Robinson
Applying pressure to create that crispy crunchy crackling

 
*CRUNCH*

 
Perfect Pork Crackling
 
 
Sprout and chestnut saute, caramelised pears and potato puree

 
Bills version…practice makes perfect!
 
 
My version… we’re getting there!
 

Happy Birthday Bill! I hope you enjoyed the class and you’re more motivated to cook for us ๐Ÿ™‚

Quarter Twenty One on Urbanspoon

JPB Restaurant Swissotel

Do you fondue? I do and so these lovely hungry friendly cheese loving foodies and two lactose intolerant girls.
One wintry Tuesday night, Betty had organised a cheese fondue to warm our bellies at JPB Restaurant located on Level 8 of the Swissotel and is just past the Crossroads Bar.

I didn’t think cheese fondue existed in Sydney, the last time I had cheese fondue was in Japan at The Red Lobster for my birthday. I had just turned 18 and we went out for dinner celebrating with steaks, crabs, polaroids and rose wine (though I believe the legal drinking age in Japan is 20…) but the most memorable dish the most amazing Cheese Bread Fondue. It was served in a bread cob hollowed out and filled with cheese sauce and we dipped bread, shrimp and lobster into it. I remember raving on about this when I got back to Sydney.

At the JPB restaurant they served one cheese pot between two, a cauldron-like pot on top of a burning flame filled with three types of cheese – emmental, gruyere and racelette together with splashes of white wine. The cheese fondue was served with crusty baguette bread, sausages, roast potatoes, pickled onions and ugly little gherkins to dunk with. I wasn’t sure whether I liked dipping the pickled onions and gherkins into the cheese pot, I think I much prefer to eat them by themselves. I did however love leaving the crusty bread in the pot of rich, creamy smelly cheese to soak in all the bubbling cheesy goodness before popping them into my mouth. Be warned the cheese is bubbling and piping hot, especially at the bottom which unfortunately some eager girls found out the hard way. Don’t worry if you start to run low on condiments – they have free top ups ๐Ÿ˜‰

Soon enough all the cheese and bread started to expand and we started to feel quite full but these girls wanted dessert. After a fair bit of chatter to work the carbs off we spotted the cutest mini milkshake being served at another table and Mel and I decided we had to have it. Our dessert of Chocolate and Vanilla Sponge had a mini vanilla bean foam, a peanut butter mousse on chocolate "soil". Sadly the sponge wasn’t a sponge but more like a peanut butter cookie sandwich filled with cream and I found the peanut butter mousse a bit stodgy and not quite airy and light but I loved the crumbly chocolate soil.

If you’re in the mood for fondue it is $27 per pot and the rich cheese paired with the carbs will definitely fill you up!
Thank you Betty for organising this! and thank you to Viv for sharing the Chocolate Artisan cake love! 

 
JPB Restaurant Cheese Fondue

 
Crusty bread to dunk with

 
Pot of bubbling hot cheese Emmental, gruyere, racelette

 

 

 
The damage

 
Chocolate and Vanilla Sponge

Jpb Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Greenhouse by Joost

On gorgeous days such as today I find myself craving, fresh, light and simple foods much like the beautiful lunch we had at Greenhouse by Joost. Sadly Greenhouse by Joost has moved and is no longer situated on Campbells Cove against the backdrop of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It was a pop-up restaurant within a shipping container which aims to create no waste. An interesting idea and a great concept – the chairs are made from aluminum irrigation pipes and leather off cuts, drinks are served in recycled jars and water in wine bottles, sustainable using fresh produce and waste is composted. Reflecting on the service we received at Quay also reminded me of the sincere apology we received when we dined at Greenhouse by Joost earlier in the year, which made a huge difference in our mood.

We find the huge orange building covered in greenery at 1030am and find that the restaurant is already a buzz with the lively chatter of customers. We’re promptly seated where we have a view of the Harbour Bridge and where we receive plenty of natural light. I especially loved the flower in the glass jars with our table number written on it. There are no menus when we arrive, however the walls are littered with words from the dinner menu. Our waitress kindly explains to us what’s on offer for breakfast this morning as all foods are made on the premises including breads. I choose the cinnamon donut and a cappuccino and Bill goes for the breakfast bar and a "jar" of freshly squeezed orange juice. Not long after our drinks arrive, however after 45 minutes our drinks were empty and we were still waiting for our food. We feel pretty guilty as we sat at our table for nearly an hour with no food on the table, while a line forms outside the restaurant in the rain as they huddle under their umbrellas. After an hour of waiting our waitress comes to our table, kneels down talking to us at eye level, sincerely apologised and explained our order got lost and never went through so she would try and get our food to us asap. It seems as thought we weren’t the only people who’s orders were forgotten as she starts to make the rounds around the restaurant – the table next to us chuck a tantrum, devour the food and leave. Finally our waitress brings out our food and offers me another cappuccino and advises that our breakfast this morning would be complimentary.
Since it was nearing the lunch service we ask the waitress if we could just stay for the lunch service and she was more than happy to accomodate for us and our lunch is served soon after we place our orders. I ordered the seared mullet where the skin was perfectly crisp and the flesh was soft and moist served with sweet, juicy tomatoes on a plank of wood. Bill went for a lighter lunch ordering the wood roasted baby carrots, beetroots and pistachios with some labne. The carrots and beetroots were caramelised bringing out the sweetness of the vegetables, while the labne gave it a touch of sourness and the pistachios added texture.
 
Normally we would have been pretty pissed that we had to wait an hour for breakfast to arrive, but for some strange reason we both felt pretty calm, content and at peace. I’m not sure whether that could be attributed to the positive concept that Greenhouse by Joost promotes or whether the simple and gorgeous dishes just made us super super happy. Nevertheless we had an enjoyable morning together. If only Greenhouse by Joost was a permanent addition to our harbour, it would be a great place to bring friends visiting from overseas and also bringing a positive awareness to the community.

Greenhouse by Joost
  

  

Fresh squeezed orange juice $5

  
Cinnamon donut & Breakfast Bar

  
Wood roasted baby carrots, beetroots and pistachio $16

  
Seared mullet and mixed tomato salad $26
  
 

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