L’eclair Patisserie

Remember this amazing cake which was made for me for my 21st?

Well I do, and I loved every bit of it from the sponge to the fresh cream frosting. It was made for me by my dad’s colleague when he used to run his own Japanese restaurant. And now 4 years later she has finally opened her very own patisserie in Mosman, L’eclair Patisserie (672 Military Road, Mosman).

Mum and I decided to trek over the bridge to enjoy some lunch and afternoon tea on a rainy Saturday. It was a nice surprise to find that they also serve lunch as well as dessert. Mum ordered the Roast Beef sandwich with horseradish while I ordered the hearty Beef Stew which was perfect for winter with melt in your mouth beef chunks in a rich stew served with a freshly baked bread roll and a side salad. I was very happy with the generous portions!

Now onto the important sweet treats! I really wanted to have a piece of the signature Mont Blanc cake, however it was not meant to be, as it had already sold out for the day. Instead I had a Strawberry Cream instead which was delicious with light fresh cream, fluffy sponge, delicate chocolate leaf decoration and reminded me of my 21st cake. Mum had a Chocolate cake and was expecting this to soft but it was more of a rich decadent fudge but not overly sweet. I also wanted to try the Green Tea Latte which was delicious with a great matcha flavour, very similar to the green tea cappuccino at Cafe Cre Asion. We also bought some cakes to take home to share with the family and we received a couple of complimentary danishes too!

L’eclair Patisserie

Roast Beef sandwich

Beef Stew

Lemon Meringue Tart Assorted Danish

Blueberry Cheesecake Chocolate Mousse

Strawberry Mousse Cheesecake

Strawberry Mousse Blueberry Cheesecake

L’eclair patisserie also do an afternoon high tea, but you’ll need to book this in advance.  I will definitely try again for a piece of the Mont Blanc cake 🙂

Wayama Japanese Restaurant

Earlier this year we made a visit to Wayama Japanese Restaurant (28 Princes Highway, Sylvania) just down the road from Paul’s Famous Hamburgers voted Sydney’s Best Aussie Burger…but that’s a story for another day. If you’re familiar with the Sylvania area, Wayama occupies the same space as Masa Japanese Restaurant, just by the foot bridge. The restaurant is run by the sweetest couple, ex Azuma Head Chef Noboru Takayama and his wife Miki Takayama who is a friend of our family and they run the restaurant almost all on their own! which means the service can be slow but also great, friendly hospitality ; ) The small restaurant is cosy and homely and it looked like the locals love this place too as the restaurant was full.

For this occasion we had the Chefs ‘Kaiseki‘ Course $48pp consisting of several minimalist seasonal courses, which was exciting as the chef has trained in Japan for numerous years before coming to Australia. With a glass of umeshu we started off with a course similar to sunomono, a salad of cucumber, celery, shredded crab with yuzu dressing to whet the appetite. Followed by sakizuke, an appetiser with bite size pieces of salmon nanban, tsukemono (pickles) sushi, snapper fry, teriyaki chicken ball and sweet vinegar white radish. The snapper was delicious encased in a crispy panko crumb and I love love love sweet vinegar white radish, my mum makes the red radish at home but not often enough I say! The mukozuke course is traditionally a cold dish, usually sashimi, in this case we had seared salmon and thick slices of fresh tuna on a bed of ice, the presentation was so pretty but the portion was so small, wish I had more! Yakimono, is a grilled dish, rich slices of roast duck with pine mushroom sauce, ruby grapefruit, snow peas and red capsicum, the roast duck and subtle pine mushroom sauce was the highlight of this dish, as the side was julienne vegetables. My favourite course was the shiizakana, melt in your mouth wagyu beef and vegetables in a red miso and red wine stew. This dish is perfect for winter, a hearty dish warming the soul, wagyu beef flaked as you cut into it and I really enjoyed the red miso sauce as the red wine was not too overpowering. The rice (gohan) was a mixture of potatoes and abura-age (deep fried tofu sheet) which is served at the end of the meal along with red miso soup. For dessert or mizumono a trio of homemade cheese cake, green tea ice cream and seasonal fruits.

Wayama Japanese Restaurant

Salad of cucumber, celery, shredded crab with yuzu dressing

salmon nanban, tsukemono (pickles) sushi, snapper fry, teriyaki chicken ball and sweet vinegar white radish

Sashimi

Roast duck with pine roast duck with pine mushroom sauce, ruby grapefruit, snow peas and red capsicum

Wagyu beef and vegetables in a red miso and red wine stew

Homemade cheese cake, green tea ice cream and seasonal fruits

I’d definitely recommend trying Wayama if you’re in the area and in the mood for Japanese, it really is a great local gem (my other favourite local Japanese is Kazuki, Hurstville). If you’re interested in the Kaiseki course, book one day ahead, it also changes often and seasonally. As the owners ae both Japanese, they have items on the menu which are traditional Japanese foods we would enjoy at home and aren’t usually found in Japanese restaurants like traditional tonjiru (pork soup) or tsukemono (pickled side dishes). Be warned, parking can be painful, there are lots of ‘No Stopping’ signs in every which way of the surrounding streets which are terribly confusing 😦

Wayama Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Porco Rosso

Bill having recently had a Studio Ghibli movie marathon, I decided to keep the theme going and take him to try Porco Rosso (33 Allen Street Waterloo) for our date night – doh he had already heard of Porco Rosso as he works in Alexandria. Porco Rosso is one of Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli films about an Italian ex war hero who is transformed into a pig – although we didn’t know whether the restaurant referred to the Ghibli Porco Rosso. The restaurant is hidden under a residential complex and appears to be a favourite for locals who kept popping in for take away pizzas. Reminiscent of an industrial space it is minimally decorated, concrete floors, bags of flour stacked against the glass panelled kitchen and racks of fresh pasta to dry – I especially loved the magnetic specials board with super cute letters of the alphabet.

The menu has hints of Japanese influence (see the tofu salad and edamame) and is divided into Antipasti, Salads, Pizza and Homemade Pasta. The pizzas were named in Italian numerical order and the homemade pastas were named in Japanese numerical order, both lists omitting the number four which is unlucky in Japanese cultures.
We started off with antipasti of caprese with buffalo mozzarella, tomato, basil, extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of black pepper. A simple but beautiful dish, and with tomatoes being the new bananas I savour the chance to have great tomatoes out. We did get food envy when a mountain of parma prosciutto plate with carefully balancing jumbo grissini was ordered by almost all the other tables dining that night and we made a mental note to order that dish next time. Bill chose the Otto (8) pizza, a puffy and chewy crust with tomato sauce topped with fresh mozzarella, wild mushrooms, sausage and bitter radicchio. Naturally I gravitated to the Japanese influenced homemade pasta Go (5) spaghettini with mentaiko which is a chilli marinated cod roe, topped with shredded nori, fresh basil and lemon zest each ingredient present in each forkful. Normally I’d only use mentaiko with soy sauce so I loved how the basil and lemon zest added a freshness and zing to the dish. There’s no separate dessert menu but a cabinet showcasing the desserts of the night which filled as the night progressed. A strawberry custard cake with layers soft sponge cake filled with delicious fresh cream and strawberries caught my eye and a traditional tiramisu layers of coffee and marsala wine soaked chocolate cake and marscapone was the perfect decadent end to our evening.

Porco Rosso



Caprese with buffalo mozzarella, basil, tomato and extra virgin olive oil

Otto (8) tomato sauce topped with fresh mozzarella, wild mushrooms, sausage, radicchio

Go (5) spaghettini with mentaiko, nori, fresh basil and lemon zest

Tiramisu

Strawberry Custard Cake

The restaurant for dinner has a very laid back vibe, perfect for a casual dinner date and I’d love to come back here for lunch as their coffee was great too. Yet another great addition to the ever growing industrial Waterloo/Alexandria area with friendly staff and great Japanese Italian ‘fusion’ food.

Porcorosso on Urbanspoon

Anmitsu Mihashi, Tokyo Japan

Let me share one of my favourite places for Japanese mochi and sweets in Japan. Mihashi is a kanmidokoro, a cafe selling all my favourite traditional sweets which opened in Ueno during the Edo period (it now has multiple stores in Japan).

We came here for their signature anmitsu dessert but I also wanted to havve some mochi. A light second lunch before dessert if you will.
We traditionally eat ozoni at the start of a New Year when we make our own mochi (using a machine, we don't pound it with a wooden hammer here XP) from scratch and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner until it runs out. Ozoni is a light bonito dashi broth with mochi, chicken, shiitake, prawn and a fluffy egg. I loved how there was a garnish of mitsuba (I'm yet to find this herb locally) which made a subtle difference to the broth. Mum also ordered the isobeyaki which is grilled mochi brushed with soy sauce and wrapped in seaweed.

Anmitsu is a traditional Japanese dessert with small cubes of agar jelly, a mitsu (brown sugar syrup) is poured over the jelly and eaten with red bean paste, fruits and sweet gyuhi mochi. I chose the Shiratama Cream Anmitsu just in case I hadn't had enough mochi…an anmitsu served with vanilla soft cream, shiratama (rice flour dumplings) and mandarins.

Mihashi
 
Ozoni
   
Isobeyaki
 
Shiratama Cream Anmitsu

Mihashi is the best place for anmitsu and their menu consists of variations of anmitsu with seasonal fruits, strawberries, shiratama, green tea, soft serve etc. The most popular dish here is probably the Matcha Anmitsu, anmitsu with bitter sweet green tea ice cream which is handmade.

Mihashi
Tokyo Station
Ichiban Gai

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 😦
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

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 😀

Quarter Twenty One

Warm crusty bread

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

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

Azuma Kushiyaki

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

Homemade white sesame ice cream and anmitsu

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

Quarter Twenty One
Quarter Twenty One on Urbanspoon

Azuma Kushiyaki
Azuma Kushiyaki on Urbanspoon

Kani Douraku, Osaka Japan

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

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

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

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

Kuidaore in Dotombori a food mecca

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.

Glico Man of Glico candy

Tsubora-ya famous for you guessed it fugu!

Otakoya
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.

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

 

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Manmaruya Ashfield

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.

Manmaruya
 

 
Kogashi Ninniku Ramen

 
Soft Shell Crab Roll

 
Sushi Sashimi Combo

We dined at the courtesy of Manmaruya Ashfield.Manmaruya on Urbanspoon

They also have sister branches at
Manmaruya Campsie  Manmaruya Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Manmaruya Hurstville  Manmaruya on Urbanspoon

My Kitchen Rules – Ono style

Our family has become slightly obsessed with My Kitchen Rules whether it be because watching train wrecks being averted is thrilling, the schadenfreude in me loves the prospect of the bitchy couples crumbling and of course Manu and his sexy accent. Anyhoo, my Dad also has gotten really really into the show probably because they’re just “normal” people like us? So for my sister’s birthday he basically gave himself a 3hour limit to cook three courses and he also did all the required shopping during the day haha


Ono House

Entree

Edamame sprinkled with salt
…so yeh we cheated a little cause all we had to do was boil our store bought Edamame

Crispy Deep Fried Prawn Heads
I love this!! so crunchy and the miso inside the head is so so good.

Main

Preparing the Aburi Salmon and Aburi Scallops

Assorted Sushi Roll
Dragon Rolls Eel with Avocado and Tempura Prawn, Salmon and Tuna and Kingfish with Crab Stick


Arranging the Sushi Boats

TADAAAA… we had two Sushi Nigiri Boats
Scallops (raw and aburi), Salmon (raw and aburi), Tuna, Squid, Octopus, Kingfish, Swordfish, Prawn

Dessert

Strawberry Gateau from Breadtop
Again we cheated well… Bill did because he brought it

Chocolate Pudding with Chocolate Ice Cream and Cream topped with Forest Berries
our proper dessert entry 🙂
So it’s not all fancy schmancy but it was really really fun helping, watching and especially eating!! Anyways it’s not like Manu Feidel and Pete Evans needed to be impressed and everyone had enjoyed the food! hooorayy

A few days earlier we had a family dinner for my Erina’s 20th birthday… she requested Tempura.


Tempura Prawns

Tempura Sweet Potato, Water Cress, and Shitake Mushrooms

Chocolate and Cointreau Mousse Cake from Hello Happy

Jazushi

On my ACTUAL birthday we headed down to Jazushi in Surry Hills where Susan Gai Dowling was performing for an “intimate” dinner with close friends <3.

The atmosphere at Jazushi was lovely the waitstaff were so kind, the place so relaxing and the food was enjoyable too… I did get stressed by the sheer amount of time they sang Happy Birthday to me though. Oh BTW we did order other foods Scallops, Beef Tataki, Sashimi Salad, Black Sesame Ice Cream, Green Tea Ice Cream and omg they served a really divine Creme Brulee (I just didn’t take photos of them…apologies I was busy) .


Jazushi

Ze men in attendance

and the foooood…
Natural Oyster with Ponzu Sauce
best fricken oysters I’ve had in a while they were so tasty and juicy and plump oh gawd

Camembert Tempura
artery clogging goodness that I’m going to try and recreate at homee

Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Miso Tomato Sauce

Seared Sushi Set

Jazushi Fresh Combo
Sushi and Sashimi with Grilled Oysters

Kakuni Kurobuta Pork Belly

The sparkle fizzed out

after dinner KARAOKE

having too much fun

with my gurrrl Annie

other gurrrrl Lalisa

Karen Walker Jewellery from Annie and Lina
esp. LOVED the card!! – so daymn cute you guys!!

Totally spoiled by Angie ❤

The LAST ONE in Sydney yo!

The prettiest card!! Handmade, beaded AND mermaids!! and from all the way in Katoomba
know me too well

Tiffany and Co Key Pendant from Helen <333

and then we all did the clubbing!

and that concludes my birthday posts XD
THANKS EVERYBODY

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Yoshii

So finishing my posts before the New Year failed terribly… have a good reason, I had a fever two days before NYE and was bedridden XP Anyhoo back on schedule…

I know I said I didnt feel like celebrating my birthday much but I ended up celebrating it over a week, Bill dubbed it “Golden Week” and even drew me a card incorporating all the things we did during the week.

Golden Week kicked off on the Wednesday my mum took me to see Wicked The Musical again, Row D baybeee and smack bang in the middle so so good, and bought me the Soundtrack too X))

On the Thursday Bill took me to Yoshii for dinner and it was amaaaazzziinnnnng, everything was so so good. Can’t wait to go back there again, definately one of my favourite restauarants. Bill had the Yoshii course and I had the Saqura course so our dishes were slightly different. Highly highly highly recommend going there, the food is simple but paired so well together and is simply stunnnninnnng.



Saqura and Yoshii Course
Kingfish Sashimi marinated Wasabi Oil
Duck Foie Gras and Kelp Seaweed “Tsukudani”
Ocean Trout wrapped Daikon with vinegar miso
Deep fried Crystal Bay Prawn mince covered with Potato

Yoshii Course
Blue Swimmer Crab and mango marinated in Japanese vinegar

inside this inedible bread is the most stunning dish everrr I could eat 3 servings of this

Saqura Course
Oven baked Abalone infused in natural juices, sake and soy

Yoshii Course
Sea Urchin Egg cup
(their signature dish and boy was it good, I LOVE egg and this was so so satisfying I stole this dish off Bill so he had one dish less but it’s my birthday)

Saqura Course
Steamed Spanner Crab Mousse and Shiitake served with Edamame paste and dashi

Yoshii Course
Deep Fried Tooth Fish Tempura citrus pepper flavour

Palette cleanser for after the Tempura

Saqura Course
Pan fried duck breast “Jibuni” style port wine flavour
DELICIOUS

Saqura and Yoshii Course
Lemon Grass Sorbet
A tad strong but very refreshing, it was sort of a granita with champagne

oh haiiii there’s Yoshii sama making my sushiiis

Daily Fresh Selected Sushi
The best sushi I’ve ever had with every sort of sashimi :9 I especially loved the little pearls of daikon oroshii, ume and ginger
(The Yoshii course had two plates of sashimi sushi)

Yoshii Course
Grilled Smoked Quail served with Garam Masala flavoured soy sauce and quail jus
definately needed more quail, it’s way too good to only eat this much

Saqura Course
Black cod marinated in White Miso

Happy Birthday to me
I’M SO HAPPY AND FULL

the strawberry was so purrrdy

Special Dessert Platter to share which the waitress forgot to tell us what is what…
Red Bean Fondant, Ice cream with Amasake, PEELED grapes and Mascapone covered in black sesame

Thanks babe, but please take me back XD pretty please please please please

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