So within the very hectic last month and a half, I also finally have settled into a new office in the CBD (woo moving on up in the world!) from my previous location in Newtown. However this also means missing out on a lot of great (and cheap!) lunch time eats such as Luxe Bakery, Atom Thai, Kammadhenu and Ramen Bar. I also no longer have a weekend parking spot in Newtown so I miss out on brunch spots as well, such as Bloodwood.
Bloodwood (416 King Street, Newtown) is a particular favourite of mine for brunch not because of their courtyard which is delightful to laze about in with a cider on warmer days but because I have found the perfect version of my idea of a summer salad. The interior is a mix of industrial and retro and even sport a few inverted doors hanging from the ceilings. On this occasion I left it to the bar to create a Bloodwood mocktail for myself which was refreshing mix of apple, lime and mint while Bill had a cider. A dish I spotted at almost every table was the polenta chips with gorgonzola sauce which were incredibly light and fluffy and the gorgonzola sauce very rich and creamy. Funnily enough the gorgonzola sauce was all a bit too rich for me but Bill easily polished these off. The perfect aforementioned summer salad is the grilled cuttlefish salad with a cucumber and herb salad drizzled with mustard cream. The cuttlefish was cooked perfectly and the fresh cucumber gave the salad a beautiful crunch and the mustard cream was just made for my palate. We ended our brunch with the Bloodwood trifle a cup of passionfruit, pound cake, port wine jelly, honeycomb anglaise and vanilla bean pannacotta which though looked quite simple, it was to die for and absolutely fan-friggin-tasty with the combination of textures and flavours…we were each fighting spoonfuls of this trifle…next time we'll just order one each for ourselves 🙂
Bloodwood Mocktail $8
Polenta chips and gorgonzola sauce $9
Grilled cuttlefish salad $19
Bloodwood trifle $14
Though Newtown isn't as easily accessible as it was before, it won't stop me from revisiting Bloodwood for my favourite salad and trifle…just make sure to arrive early as they have a no bookings policy and the restaurant filled up pretty fast while we were there 😉
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.
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.
Through the Shinsaibashi shopping arcade and under the flashes of neon lights, gigantic billboards and mechanical mascots lies the food mecca of Osaka, Dotombori located in the minami area of Osaka. Compared to the Kita Osaka, Minami Osaka is where you'll find the hustle and bustle with restaurants, bars, karaoke, clubs, pachinko parlours lining and squeezed in every nook and cranny of Dotombori.
Dotombori has a food culture and of course there is an abundance of food everywhere to satisfy any of your food cravings. There is saying in Osaka "kuidaore" which means to 'enjoy and eat food past your hearts content' until you ruin yourself and wallet – sort of like the food version of 'shop til you drop' 😛 So we did just that…gorging on Osaka's street food.
We enjoyed walked along Dotomborigawa (river) which is said to have inspired Bladerunner and watched the dazzling lights of the billboards (though not all of them were lit up to conserve energy and respect Northern Japan), listened to the buskers on Ebisubashi bridge and people watched the young fashionistas. I loved the liveliness and the fun atmosphere of Dotombori and it's vibrance where here the flashiest seems to mean the best.
Shinsaibashi the start of the 600m roofed shopping arcade Lotteria Ebi (prawn) Burger
Lotteria is a burger chain in Japan where I had an Ebi Burger (290Y) better than KFC Shanghai and Bill had a Cheeseburger set with melon soda and a juicy fried chicked for around 870Y and fought over a crispy sausage roll…in hindsight t was only 190Y so we probably should have gotten two… Overall Lotteria burgers are good but I still prefer the burgers at Freshness Burger which is another burger chain in Japan.
No they don't really sell takoyaki in Coke cups but in boat cups for only 300Y (not $8AUD like in Chinatown). Instead of takoyaki again we shared an ika-yaki which is a deliciously baked squid encased in a cracked egg.
Ika-yaki Glico Confectionary
Glico produces many of my childhoold favourites including Pocky, Caramel and Bisco which are bite size wheat germ crackers with a milky cream filling.
Coco-Rico crepes Banana Strawbery Chocolate Crepe Giant Takoyaki Pretz and Green Tea Pretz
You'll come to realise Japan loves limited editions and seasonal items so there are Pretz flavours you're only able to buy in certain areas like the takoyaki flavour and okonomiyaki flavours are only sold in the Kansai region.
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.
Sadly last year due to holidays I was unable to attend Billy from A Table for Two’s photography workshop so when I found out Simon from The Heart of Food would be holding a photography class, with no hesitation I (or my sugar daddy to be exact) snapped up the opportunity to attend the inaugural Food Photography class. There was no particular topic I was interested in, I just wanted to learn more about the process and thought/creativity which goes into photography. Other food bloggers in attendance were Mel, Chanel, Laura and Gaby – but there were a mix of people, I particularly admired the food technology teachers wanting to inspire their kids more by incorporating food photography into their classes.
The class was held at MUMU Grill (76 Alexander Street, Crows Nest) who served us a delicious lunch spread which made it hard for me to wait until all the photo taking was over. Must bring the steak-loving boyfriend here because the sirloin tagliatta was ahh-mazing! And the duck fat potatoes were fluffy and so goddamn tasty. Oh and I totally could have eaten the cherry tomato salad in spoonfuls it was light and refreshing and a nice to eat in between mountains of jamon serrano.
For $90 (at the time of posting) it was definitely 5hours on a Saturday very well spent! Simon was a great teacher, the class was casual and not intimidating at all – we were free to ask questions which Simon very patiently and kindly answered for us. Those that lingered back even got private lessons on specific techniques! Though Simon hasn’t got any further classes scheduled you can always register your interest by visiting The Heart of Food. I left a very happy chappy leaving the class a little more knowledgeable and a belly full of food.
Thank you once again to Simon for a great class and MUMU Grill for the delicious lunch spread!
Grill Tapas Bar
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 😉
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
Chocolate and Vanilla Sponge
When I need to get my ramen on… or my aburi sushi fix I head to my local Japanese joint, Manmaruya Hurstville. It’s popular and quite busy, you can definitely expect to wait a while especially on Thursday nights 😉 The branch at Hurstville is actually the second branch to open, the first was in Campsie and now recently they have opened a branch in Ashfield. My family was invited to dine at the pre-opening of Manmaruya Ashfield (217 Liverpool Road) before it officially opened to the public, this way the new staff were able to experience a shift and work out the kinks – of course we were more than happy to oblige.
So my favourite types of ramen are TanTanmen, Salt Butter Corn Ramen and Kogashi Ninniku Ramen. Lucky for me Manmaruya’s specialty is the Kogashi Ninniku ramen which literally means burnt garlic ramen. Manmaruya offers their ramen in two soup stocks; pork stock and chicken stock – I almost always order ramen with pork stock finding I prefer the thicker more flavoursome pork soup to the more subtle chicken soup. Now I love my ramen with a heap of bean sprouts and a perfectly soft boiled egg with orange gooey insides – and that’s exactly what I got and more because I found hidden underneath my mountain of noodles an extra egg!!! My sister decided she also wanted to have some sushi so ordered the Mini Ramen with pork stock in which they forgot to add the seaweed pieces. After we told the waitress she missed the seaweed pieces, they gave us a double serving of seaweed too! You’ll find that the portions served at Manmaruya are very generous, I’m always leaving with a food baby and even my sister’s "mini" ramen is not so mini.
Thinking she was getting a "mini" ramen my sister also ordered the Spicy Tuna Roll and Soft Shell Crab Roll to share. The Spicy Tuna Roll which I forgot to take a photo of had six pieces of spicy marinated fresh tuna rolls to dip in a spicy mayonnaise tingling the tips of your tongue. I was so happy the Soft Shell Crab was not dripping in oil like in some other establishments. Mum wanted to order something she could not eat everyday and had the Sushi Sashimi Combo. We did have to wait an hour for this to be served but it was well worth the wait with fresh thick pieces of sashimi. We didn’t have dessert tonight but we finished our meal off with a serving of takoyaki instead with piping hot pieces of octopus encased in a crispy shell drizzled with sauce and katsubushi.
Manmaruya Ashfield is a great addition, especially if you’re not in the mood for great Shanghainese food currently dominating on Liverpool Road. If you’re also not in the mood for ramen try their Aburi Sushi – it’s one of my favourite dishes there! Manmaruya Hurstville also serves Camembert Tempura, but I don’t think I spotted this on the Ashfield menu.
We dined at the courtesy of Manmaruya Ashfield.
They also have sister branches at