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

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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

Shiki on Urbanspoon

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