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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Wayama Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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

Three Blue Ducks

Treating ourselves and wanting some fresh air and sunshine before Autumn comes along, Bill and I took advantage of our Day in Lieu and made the drive to Bronte. Three Blue Ducks (141-143 Macpherson St, Bronte) led by former Tetsuya head chefs, has been on my list for a while for a brunch session after sampling their foods at The Paddington Markets, we hoped to beat the weekend crowds and visited on a Friday.We arrived there just in time for breakfast which ends at 1130am (lunch starts at 12pm so don’t get caught out in beween these times and starve) and were seated in the bar side of the cafe where we watched the bartender juice fresh fruits and admired the quirky teapots hanging on the wall. The menu was exciting and initially I had my eye on the Quinoa and fig bircher with caramelised peaches, fresh fruit, yoghurt and toasted nuts but sadly they were already sold out. We started the morning right with an organic latte, fair trade and roasted by Single Origin Roasters for me and a freshย  and instead opted for a seemlingly simple bowl of bircher muesli with seasonal fruits. This was the perfect bowl of muesli, each spoonful was delicious, the crunch of apple slices, toasted nuts, berry compote, natural smooth greek yoghurt, sweet fig and the bursts of fresh passionfruit – so amazing and satisfying that Bill and I were fighting for each mouthful.
Three Blue Ducks
Needless to say the food was fresh and of a high quality making you feel good from the inside and absolutely delicious. It may be because the produce used is local and as organic as can be. They even have a cute garden at the back (just keep walking down the corridor) making use of all the space.
After brunch we took a short stroll to Bronte beach which in turn led to a full on coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee and back to Bronte.

P.S Victorians, you can also get a piece of Three Blue Ducks gorgeous foods at Falls Creek XP

Three Blue Ducks 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

Sub Station 152 Cafe

As I browsed a friends Rise filtered sandwich lunch from Sub Station 152, I knew I had to make a trip on the weekend. Sub Station 152 Cafe (124 McEvoy St, Alexandria) opened on 3 September 2012 and from the outside appears to be a little nook, however it has transformed from previously being an electric substation into a cute little cafe complete with a narrow outdoor area and an annex featuring a vertical garden.

 
via @annieso
 
via @annieso

The menu here is simple with a range of sandwiches and salads and also the specials. On this occaision they were offering their signature Shakshuka dish, a traditional Israeli dish with 2 free range poached eggs cooked in chunky tomato sauce with grilled vegetables and a touch of chill and fresh herbs served in a shallow pan with a side of bread. Suprisingly this is a dish I'd definitely order however on that day I was after a Poached Chicken sandwiched assembled perfecty with the freshest ingredients while Bill had the simple and homey bacon and egg roll.

Sub-Station
 
 

Poached Chicken

Bacon and Egg roll
 

Everything about Sub Station 152 screams "cute" from the size of the cafe to the wooden spoon table numbers and the highlight would be getting some sunshine in the decked outdoor area. I just loved the atmosphere of having a very relaxed brunch here for a dose of Vitamin D.

Sub-Station Cafe 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

The Grounds of Alexandria

Springs here and there's no better time to make your way to the gardens at the old Four n Twenty pie factory Building 7A, No.2 Huntley St Alexandria, or better known as "The Grounds". Oh boy, this is a long overdue post having visited The Grounds of Alexandria (Building 7A, 2 Huntley St, Alexandria) when it first opened for breakfast and a few lunches after since April 2012.

Arriving what we thought early at 9am for breakfast, we still faced a 20min wait after adding our names to the clipboard. Not to worry, it presented a great opportunity to get a takeaway coffee (their coffee is amazing!) and wander, taking in The Grounds Garden, from the wishing fountain to the herb gardens. The outdoor seating area, available for venue hire made the wait enjoyable, and we could have easily had take away coffee and some sweet delights in the garden.
We were seated outside this time with the heaters to keep us warm and shades to keep the sun out, Bill had the Breakfast Board and I the Rolled eggs which the friendly waitstaff informed was quickly becoming their signature dish. Bill's a very happy chappy when the Breakfast Board arrives with an abundance of foods styled on a wooden board, a mountain of fine double smoked ham, perfectly sliced half avocado, Persian fetta, heirloom tomato salad, two poached eggs and housemade pesto on sourdough toast with the all-important side of bacon served crispy. It's easy to see why the rolled eggs were becoming their signature – a delicious, fresh and healthy dish using seasonal produce. My perfectly cooked rolled eggs oozing yellow, looked impressive balancing atop a tower of asparagus stalks, rocket leaves, watercress and oven roasted roma tomatoes. Though the truffle oil seemed non-existent, I loved the crispy quinoa giving the dish texture and a nuttiness to the dish, easily making this a favourite for me. Just a warning, as they do use seasonal produce their "garden herbs" added in this dish can change from rocket and watercress to coriander…which I learnt the hard way on my subsequent visit – I have issues with coriander so half the dish was inedible for me the next time ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The Grounds of Alexandria
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Breakfast Board  double smoked ham, avocado, Persian fetta, heirloom tomato, two poached eggs and housemade pesto on sourdough toast
With side bacon served crispy ($4)
 
Rolled eggs with crispy quinoa, asparagus, roasted tomatoes, garden herbs w sourdough toast

Best coffee eveeerrrrr

Other notable lunch items we've tried are the Buffalo mozarella, heirloom tomatoes and hand picked basil salad which fresh and wholesome while Bill of course rated The Grounds Burger with a thick dry aged angus beef patty, cheese, tomato, pickles, mustard and a side of chunky chips.

It was during my most recent experience at The Grounds which has left me a little wary of the uber busy establishment. Unfortunately although the floor manager did a great job circulating the gardens and reassuring us that our names were indeed on the list and updating us on waiting times which definitely made us feel better, the service in house left us disappointed. Having waited an hour to be seated, we knew exactly what we were having and immediately ordered, however as many other tables received their food prior to us although they had ordered after us I inquired with the waitress who let us know briskly they were quite busy and there may be a wait for the food to arrive. Eventually 5mins after our food arrived cold leaving us quite sad and disappointed deciding it was definitely not worth the wait.   

Still my favourite place to get a coffee in Alexandria and though I am happy to grab take away, it may be a while again before I return to dine in. The Grounds is no doubt a great warm addition to the industrial Alexandria area, also with the introduction of The Grounds Markets held each last Saturday of the month. I absolutely loved the decor and appreciated the culture and the overall character of The Grounds.

The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon