Bakehouse Garden

It has been months since I’ve had Korean BBQ.  I’ve had a hankering for it for ages, and so last night we decided to do it.

Strathfield is as close to Little Korea as Sydney gets, in fact the Sydney Morning Herald called it “Sizzler Central”, referring to the innumerable number of Korean BBQ joints there.  Having only eaten à la carte at Strathfield Korean restaurants before, we figured this would be a great BBQ opportunity.

After a quick Google, we discovered Bakehouse Garden in North Strathfield.

George St in Strathfield is a very surprising find.  Full of nice looking restaurants and people dressed well, you would swear you weren’t in the western suburbs (albeit the inner west).  Nothing against Sydney’s western suburbs, of course!

The restaurant looked chic and modern (at least for a Korean restaurant), and there was a pretty even mix of Koreans and Caucasians.  This at first was a little concerning, as generally a majority Korean mix tends to be indicative of a good Korean restaurant in Sydney.

Let me tell you though, this was completely unfounded! Read more

Medusa Greek Taverna

Medusa only popped up a few years ago on the corner of Market and Kent Streets in Sydney.  I didn’t think it would last in the position it was in.

Thankfully I ate my words last night, the third time I’ve had the pleasure of dining at Medusa.  It was packed.  It is always packed.  At lunch it’s packed.  At dinner it’s packed.

This is a good sign of the quality of food to come.

We started off with some dips and warm pita bread.  The four of us shared melitzanosalata (eggplant dip), fava santorinis (chick pea dip) and tzatziki.

Dips are one of the things I absolutely love about Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine.  They did not disappoint last night.  They were full of flavour, and plentiful!

For the mains, three of us ordered the same thing, Medusa’s arni sto fourno, which is a slow roasted side of lamb, served with potatoes cooked in lemon butter.  The meat literally just fell off when you went to cut it, and seemed to melt in your mouth.  It was amazingly tender.

Later in the evening, Peter Koutsopoulos, the owner was talking to us about his secrets.  He says that he hates modern ovens, especially fan forced ovens and uses only old fashioned ovens in his restaurant kitchens.  He has a more modern oven at home, and can never cook the lamb as nice as he does at the restaurant. Read more

Ristorante Fellini

Last weekend we went up to the Gold Coast for Danny’s birthday.  So, on the Saturday night we went out for a birthday dinner for him to Ristorante Fellini at Marina Mirage on the Gold Coast.

Mikey and I had eaten here once before, a couple of years ago and recall it being a very pleasant experience.

The wine list is quite comprehensive, and the menu had quite a few options (the majority being entrées which can be ordered as a main size).

This time, I opted for the filetto di manzo, which is the scotch fillet, I asked them to cook it rare.  There were eight of us this night, and it took close to an hour after ordering for our food to be on the table.  We were enjoying the conversation, so this was no big deal for us this night.

When it arrived, it was nice.  It was cooked perfectly, and the steak was a nice enough cut, however there was a bit too much really chewy fat for my liking.  It was served with some sort of subtle smoky, BBQ like sauce which complimented it well.  It was served with mashed potato, and an eggplant and capsicum timbale (the vegetables baked in a round mould). Read more

Taiyoh

My uphill epic battle to find gastronomic solace in my new work suburb of North Ryde in Sydney took us to one of the better places today.

Kev, Craig and I paid a visit to a place we’d been meaning to for some time now, Taiyoh on Coxs Road for lunch.  It’s a tad too far to walk from the office, so Kev drove us down.

The menu was comprehensive, and had all the favourites, along with some specialities of their own.

We decided to go with edamame (salty steamed soy beans) and beef tataki (slightly seared raw slices of beef) for entrées, and a deluxe sashimi plate and spicy salmon roll for our mains, accompanied by Asahi to drink (bottled). Read more

Akaneya

Akaneya on King St in Sydney has long been one of my regular haunts.

The food is good, it’s not too expensive, and it used to be close to where I worked, which meant the occasional lunch, but more often I’d go there for a quick dinner, and quite often takeaway when working in the office late.

I have several friends who also independently love this place.  I went there last night for dinner with Jamela and Stu, two of the aforementioned friends.  This is the second or third time we’ve been there together, and it’s becoming almost a tradition!

We started off with edamame (salty whole steamed soy beans) which was still nice and warm when served, I hate it when it’s served cold.  I always find edamame so addictive, to use an old marketing cliché, once you pop, you can’t stop!

For other entrées, we also had the gyoza which is nice but pretty standard, the deep fried soft-shell crab which is always lovely, and nasu dengaku which is grilled eggplant with an interesting miso based sauce.  I’m not usually a big fan of eggplant, but this is one of the exceptions.  It’s always piping hot when you get it, too hot to eat straight away, and the sauce and the flavour is exquisite, enough to overlook the texture of eggplant that I don’t usually like!

Next, on to the mains.  I had the sushi & sashimi combo, which is quite a large wooden boat filled with different types of, you guessed it, sushi and sashimi!  It had two different cuts of kingfish sashimi, two different cuts of salmon sashimi, tuna sashimi, scallop sashimi, salmon nigiri, kingfish nigiri, prawn nigiri, beef tataki nigiri, cooked tuna sushi and salmon sushi.  What a mouthful!  It was also served with miso soup which I never drink anyway so I can’t rate it.

The sushi and the sashimi were quite pleasant, as they always are at Akaneya.  It didn’t taste as fresh and amazing as Kokoroya in Maroubra that I raved about on this blog recently, but it’s still a good, dependable tasty meal. Read more

Ribs & Rumps

Ribs & Rumps has long been a favourite with locals in Manly.  It wasn’t until my company shafted me out to North Ryde that I discovered it was actually a chain, as there is a restaurant here too.

Sadly it is pretty much the only decent restaurant nearby the office now, not quite like the city :’(

Anyway, it means we do go there a fair bit for lunches on Fridays and the sort.  I was there last Friday, and finally ordered something which I’ve been meaning to for a while…

Grover and I decided to go halves in the mixed grill.  You get an assortment of Ribs & Rumps meats, chips & an egg.  What a perfect lunch!  You get a half rack of beef ribs, a half rack of lamb ribs, a sirloin steak, two or three lamb cutlets and a great tasting beef snag.  There is too much food here for one, it even sounds like a lot for two, but it’s pretty much the perfect amount. Read more

Mamma Mia

A couple of years ago we had the unfortunate predicament of being in a town in New Zealand of which Lonely Planet opens its guide with: ”Boy racers in souped-up cars and girls with souped-up hair-dos hint at the fact that there’s not much to do around here.”  This town was Invercargill, and any Kiwi will tell you it’s a horrid, boring place.

We luckily only had a night there, so we decided there was nothing else to do but to see a movie.  Mamma Mia was playing at this time, and Mikey wanted to see it.  I begrudgingly agreed, and went into it thinking “oh God, here come the two most boring hours of my life”, but came out singing ABBA songs with a giant smile on my face.

Mamma Mia of course was a musical before it became a Hollywood blockbuster.  Mikey had seen it several years ago in Melbourne, and of course was very keen on seeing it in Sydney, as was I.  We had the pleasure of seeing it last weekend at Star City’s Lyric Theatre.

Now, I’m a massive theatre fan and keep running out of people I can convince to go and see more and more plays with.  This was my first play of the year, and sadly there aren’t too many that I have coming up, so I made the most of it. Read more

Chequers

We went to Chequers at the Mandarin Centre in Chatswood, on Sydney’s North Shore recently with Mikey’s mum, sister, brother-in-law and two nieces for yum cha on a Sunday afternoon.

We only had to line up for about 5mins which apparently is quite good for Chequers.  I don’t understand why.

The food was standard yum cha fare.  It wasn’t bad, in fact it was nice, but it wasn’t anything amazing.  There are dozens, if not hundreds of yum cha restaurants in Sydney, and this would be ranked amongst the nice ones, but doesn’t stand out from the crowd.

There were six of us (one of Mikey’s nieces is two months old so obviously wasn’t eating with us!), so we had a wide range of the available food.  The gow gee were nice, as where the combination seafood dumplings and prawn rice noodle rolls.  The vegetables were so-so.

If you’re in the area and feel like yum cha, this isn’t a bad choice, but it might not be the best.  Some friends have told me Fook Yuen is the best in Chatswood, so I’ll be checking that out soon!

If you want great yum cha anywhere in Sydney, check out Zilver in Haymarket or Phoenix in either Manly or Rhodes (Rhodes is bigger, Manly has a nicer view).  I’ve also been keen to check Fu Manchu in Darlinghurst for some time, as I’ve heard good things about this.

The damage: I have no idea, Mikey’s mum snatched the bill away and paid it for us!

Nick’s rating: *** (three out of five)

Tetsuya Wakuda’s Masterclass

Tetsuya Wakuda is generally viewed as Australia’s greatest chef.  His restaurant, Tetsuya’s has been consistently ranked amongst the top 50 restaurants in the world for at least the past eight years.  Most of that time has been in the top 10, and for several years it was in the top five.  Each year for the past 18 years it has been awarded the prestigious “Three Chef’s Hats” rating in Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide.

Tetsuya Wakuda is a true success story.  He arrived in Australia from Japan in 1982 with nothing more than a suitcase.  After a brief stint at Surry Hills’ Fishwives, he began working at Kinsela’s at Taylor Square making sushi, where he met Tony Bilson in 1983.  Tony nurtured Tetsuya’s inclinations to a more unique cooking style, and introduced him to the classical French techniques which he bases much of his current-day Japanese-French fusion on.

In 1989, Tetsuya opened his eponymous Tetsuya’s restaurant, but in Rozelle.  It was a tiny restaurant, with a tiny kitchen but people loved it.  In 2000 he moved to his more familiar, current location on Kent Street in Sydney.

Tetsuya’s old mentor, Tony Bilson, put on a two week long festival called Cuisine Now which brought four of Australia’s best chefs and three of Europe’s best chefs together.  Each put on a masterclass, in which the chef demonstrates to the audience how to cook several dishes in their unique style (and perhaps more importantly then taste them!).

When I heard about this, I had to go.  It was a unique opportunity that doesn’t come around often, to be seated a few metres away from one of the world’s greatest chefs while he shows you how to cook something special.  Out of the all the chefs, I chose Tetsuya, probably because I’m most familiar with him and his cooking style, even though I have never actually been to his restaurant! Read more

Mantra

My friend Niazi is moving back to Melbourne with his wife Gill.  One of their favourite Indian restaurants in Sydney is Mantra, at Ryde.

We have been there before with them, but as they’re moving to Melbourne this weekend, this Tuesday we decided to join them for one last Mantra meal.

Mantra is decked out in very loud, very colourful Northern Indian décor.  Apparently on some weekend nights they have a DJ and bellydancers!

There were nine of us this night, and we ordered a few entrées to share, naan, pappadums, raita and maybe eight mains or so, with both chilli and mango chutney.

A few of the carnivores amongst us decided to be vegetarian for the night (who knows why!?).  This meant that for perhaps the first time in my life, the number of veggoes at the table greatly outnumbered us meat lovers (3 to 1)! Read more

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