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

Cowbell 808

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

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

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

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

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

Biennale of Sydney ends 16 Sept
 
The River
 
 
 
Domesticated Turf

Domesticated Turf
Industrial doillies made of sand

Cowbell 808 on Urbanspoon

Kitchen By Mike

The new warehouse canteen Kitchen by Mike (85 Dunnings Ave, Roseberry) was the light at the end of my working week – quite literally with it's high celiings and airy open space. It also provided the happiest moment of my Sunday when I snagged the last order of sourdough pancakes with lemon curd, it was just the dish to brighten my day.

The food at Kitchen by Mike is simple and unpretentious using the freshest produce sourced by Mike each morning, thus the menu changes daily and can be found at their Facebook page. We didn't know this when we headed there for brunch but were pleasantly surprised as we peered into the open kitchen and walked past the display of vibrant salads, rustic pizzas and freshly made juices and smoothies. We made our way through the queue and sat with our enamel tin plates at a communal table, grabbed our cutlery from an old can of tomatoes, taking in the rawness of the warehouse. Satisfied with our selection of a slice of Mike's freshly woodfired sourdough bread, fluffy and was delicious with a slather of PepeSaya butter and had us going back for a second serving. I let Bill enjoy his roasted pork belly with chutney which he found so good he would happily eat here each weekend, while I had a selection of a few of the salads on offer which were packed with flavour and well balanced.

I was keen to try the breakfasts here and I absolutely had to share Kitchen by Mike with someone else so brought the mother the following weekend, knowing she would also appreciate Koskela more than Bill did. It was noticeably more busy and my heart raced as I neared the register to order my breakfast, as I ordered the last sourdough pancakes and they crossed it off the specials board – sorry to anyone who was queueing behind me, I know my heart would sink. Mum had the baked chickpeas, chorizo with a egg which was perfection wobbly and gooey from being poached slowly for 30mins while we watched the open kitchen change from breakfast to lunch.

Kitchen By Mike
 
 
 
Freshly squeezed orange juice
 
 
Mike's woodfired sourdough bread with Pepesaya butter
 
Roast pork belly $12
 
Plum, walnut & blue cheese
Tomato, watermelon mint salad
Corn, lime & chilli salt
 
Sourdough pancakes with lemon curd
 
Baked chorizo, chickpeas with poached egg

Next door is Koskela which sells the enamel tin plates used a Kitchen by Mike and other Australian goods – we picked up some lovely smelling hand wash used in the bathrooms too as gifts for our relatives overseas. The staff are friendly and passionate, we both loved the open space, the simplicity of it all and the concept of using fresh and seasonal produce daily and we're trying to enjoy it as much as we can before the inevitable influx and appearance of beautiful people and hispters XP The food here can be a little pricey especially when you try and order a bit of each, but it is reflected in the freshness of ingredients and the quality of the dishes produced.

Kitchen By Mike on Urbanspoon

Reuben Hills

One thing I've learnt from full time work is that your weekends are sacred and to be celebrated. So last weekend we indulged in a very decadent late lunch at Reuben Hills (61 Albion Street, Surry Hills). Reuben Hills is a newly opened warehouse turned cafe and coffee roastry upstairs and a menu with a Latin American influence.

The menu looks deceivingly simple with a handful of items to choose from, but we've both never heard of many of the items! In the end I was swayed by the little blurb in the 'About' section of the menu and had a baleada – one of the most popular foods originating in Honduras. A warm, soft and thick wheat flour tortilla arrives generously filled with delicious black beans, free range eggs and a beautiful creamy, crumbly and soft queso fresco cheese. It's a little messy to eat but so friggin tasty it didn't matter. Unfortunately by the time we had lunch the Reuben, which Bill was so keen on, was sold out so instead he had the 99 Breakfast at Tiffany's. It was absolutely delicious, a tall burger with a brioche bun, chorizo and crispy onion, Bill proclaiming "all chorizo should be cooked like this". I was dying to try the Doggs Breakfast and it did not disappoint – an ice cream sandwich with a dollop of salted caramel (great balance of salty and sweet!!) which had me scraping the plate really hit the spot, while Bill got his fix from a creamy smooth and sweet Salted Caramel Milkshake.

The service was really friendly and everyone is genuinely nice! Reuben Hills also hold public coffee cuppings on Friday's each week for free and everyone is welcome. Unfortunately for us we probably won't make it to the coffee cuppings upstairs but Bill's eager to try their Reuben sandwich and I'm looking forward to trying their Black Sesame milkshake next time. Anyhoo it was definitely a great way to end our weekend!

Reuben Hills
 
 
Love love love the quirky bottles of water!
 
 
Free range eggs, queso fresco, black beans baleada
 
99 Breakfast at Tiffany's – Chorizo inside brioche bun w ranchero sauce & crispy onion
 
Salted Caramel Milkshake
 
Doggs Breakfast – Ice Cream Sandwich with salted caramel

Reuben Hills on Urbanspoon

Bread & Circus

I'm a girl who loves her veges and grew terribly jealous at the sight of my friends posting on instagram, delicious wholesome looking salads, so much so I had to get down to the new "wholefoods canteen" in Alexandria last weekend.
Bread & Circus (21 Fountain Street, Alexandria) is hidden behind Don Campos in the corner nook of a large warehouse, a beautiful and relaxed space and airy, getting plenty of sunshine. The atmosphere here is casual and natural where an assortment of stools and chairs surround communal wooden tables adorned with pieces of fruit as still life, recycled jars, baskets of serving ware and pretty bowls contained unrefined brown sugar. Just as the name suggests, it is quite the quirky canteen and I completely fell in love with the decor from the warm pastel plates, brightly coloured potted plants to the rustic buckets contained serviettes.

Each visit to Bread & Circus is made exciting with the menu changing daily. Bill and I decided to share a regular salad plate where you can choose all or one of the salads on offer. The salad combinations are different to your plain old caesar salads or garden salads and use market fresh produce:
Baked golden maple peaches with champagne puy lentils, blue cheese and chive
Smoky flamed eggplant with a light fragrant sort-of salsa verde
Slow roasted sweet balsamic tomato, torn basil and olive oil farro

(Our salad consisted of the top three)
Olive oil couscous with steamed broccoli and two kinds of beans in orange minted yoghurt
Cinnamon sea salt baked golden sweet potato with garlic olive oil and agave
Caramelised apple-cider fennel and orange in black quinoa coriander and champagne vinegar

The plate is a very generous serving size, each salad packed with flavour exploding in your mouth and absolutely scrumptious. I especially loved the juicy chunks of smoky eggplant and the combination of blue cheese with the peaches and lentils.

Thinking that sharing a regular salad plate wouldn't be enough for the both of us we also ordered a Circus soup served with wedges of sourdough and organic butter. The regular bowl of Super-green soup with creamy smooth broccoli kale & almond which was creamy smooth, hearty and absolutely delicious and great for dunking our wedges of bread into. We also received a complimentary side bowl of Balsamic roasted three tomato & banana chilli with swirl of biodynamic basil yoghurt since they accidentally forgot to bring out the soup we ordered until Bill reminded them. It was spicy and had a good kick to it which was balanced by the sour yoghurt, but we both agreed we the super-green soup had won over our hearts.

Bread & Circus
 
 
Daily Plate Salad
 
Balsamic roasted three tomato & banana chilli with a swirl of biodynamic basil yoghurt
 
Sourdough and organic butter
 
Super-green soup with creamy smooth broccoli kale & almond
  

Though quite busy multitasking (they mentioned they were understaffed that day) the staff were really quite sweet. As we were leaving they apologized again for the mix up of the soup being missed and gave us a complimentary organic orange and bran muffin to take away which we happily accepted and enjoyed with a coffee from Don Campos as we left feeling full, nurtured, super healthy and hearty. We can't wait to revisit and try more salads! And perhaps adding delicious extras such as char grilled haloumi or a boiled biodynamic egg.

Bread & Circus on Urbanspoon

Tetsuya’s

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

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

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

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

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon

Bloodwood

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Bloodwood


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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bloodwood on Urbanspoon

La Bodeguita del Medio

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

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

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

La Bodeguita del Medio


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

Ceviche del día
Peruvian style ceviche 15

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


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

Tostones
Fried plantains with Cuban aioli 8

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

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

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

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


you can even leave your mark with scribbles on the wall

Ayana dined as a guest of La Bodeguita del Medio

La Bodeguita del Medio on Urbanspoon

Nok Nok Thai Eating House

Back in my day it was called Tumbalong park and opposite it was Sega World, now the area has been newly finished and is known as Darling Quarter featuring lines of cafes (most with al fresco dining – perfect for the upcoming summer months) overlooking the huge funky playground.  Nok Nok Thai Eating House (Shop 9 Darling Walk, Darling Quarter) is one of these new establishments.

The decor and beautiful presentation  of the space of Nok Nok really excited me with sky high ceilings and mirrors making it look even more light and airy, the pale marble-like walls  provided a lovely contrast to the elements of greenery of hanging potted plants and trees sprouting from the banquet table – it reminded me of  British India.On Saturday night the restaurant was a buzz and most of the booths were reserved so we were seated on the communal banquet table (just make sure your group is not separated by the tree in the table).

As an appetizer our friends ordered the Guay Teaw Lord ($8.90) a wide rice  noodle roll wrapping pieces of chicken, tofu, egg and dried shrimp (?) similarly to the rice noodle rolls served at yum cha. Tonight most of us  ordered noodles Gauy Teaw Kua ($13.90) a soy based stir fried flat rice noodles, chicken Pad Thai ($12.90) thin rice noodles fried with tofu, egg, garlic, chives,  bean sprout and crushed peanuts and I had the Kee Mao ($13.90) a wide rice noodle with holy basil, chilli in a dark soy base. It had a good spicy  kick to it which was easily offset by the light and refreshing lychee frappe ($4.00) I ordered earlier. Instead of noodles Bill had the Duck Red Curry ($18.90) which came in a very generous portion, eggplants, bamboo shoots, basil and green beans swimming in a light curry. As we were finishing our dishes we realise our order of Pla Meuk Yang ($15.90) a grilled whole squid had not yet arrived so we opted to cancel  this dish…boo because I was  really looking forward to this dish as I love the grilled calamari from Chat Thai. The front "kitchen" is an open plan and I spied a massive bowl of mangoes and I knew exactly what I was having for dessert. The Keo Neow Ma Moung ($8.90) mango was fresh and meaty and the sweet sticky  rice seemed lighter than that of other Thai restaurants, needless to say we easily polished dessert off.

Nok Nok Thai Eating House

 
Communal banquet table

Booth dining

Chicken Pad Thai

Chicken Ki Mao

Duck Red Curry

Keo Neow Ma Moung Sweet sticky rice with fresh mango

The atmosphere at Nok Nok is nice and the menu quite extensive featuring some dishes such as the wide noodle rice not commonly featured at other Thai restaurants. The food was great and 'll head back again and hope to be able to try the grilled whole squid soon, the outdoor dining area also seems nice for those balmy summer evenings…there was even a jazz band playing outside on Saturday night.

Nok Nok on Urbanspoon