Posts Tagged ‘Mikey Gemmell’

China Doll

Once in a while a restaurant comes around that totally blows me out of the water.  Tonight this happened.

My friend Kurt has been raving about China Doll being his favourite restaurant for years, and though I’ve taken it on board, I’ve never acted upon it.  Tonight, Mikey & I finally did.

The restaurant is in Woolloomooloo in Sydney, on the wharf in a picturesque surrounding.  There are a number of nice looking restaurants all lined up along the wharf, somewhat reminiscent of Opera Quays.

Upon being seated, the waitress asked if we’d dined here before.  She then proceeded to explain to us that they recommend sharing all the dishes to get a broad taste of what is available.  This idea worked very well.

Before I continue, I do have to apologise for the quality of these photos.  I don’t like taking cameras to restaurants, so I’ve been using my iPhone which, to put it kindly, has very poor low light abilities.

We started off with the chilli salt squid and the sashimi of Hiramasa kingfish & ocean trout with blackened chilli dressing.

Fantastic is all I can say.

Both were absolutely divine, and I doubt could be improved upon.  The chilli salt squid was cooked to perfection, Mikey did find one piece that was a little bit chewy, but when eating squid to only find one piece a little chewy is really quite amazing.

The sashimi was prepared to spectacularly.  The blackened chilli dressing was a very nice, refreshing, almost zesty flavor enhancer, and a welcome change to the standard (but still quite nice) soy & wasabi mix. Read more

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

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

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

Weird food: Cambodia

This is the first in what will hopefully be a series on weird foods that I see around the world.  The articles will be on food that as a carnivorous westerner I find odd.  It’s not judging other cultures, just highlighting certain features of them which are different to my own…

I was in Cambodia about six weeks ago, and I was witness to some of the most bizarre food being sold and eaten that I’ve experienced.

I’d heard of the general availability of spiders and insects as food in Cambodia for some time, and was surprised after arriving in Siem Reap that I couldn’t find any in any of the markets. Read more

Red Lantern

Generally I try to keep my birthdays low key, and are never inclined to have parties or anything in my honour.

I think as each year passes though, I’m becoming more likely to actually do something for my birthday.  Siboun and I have the same birthday, and so this year we decided to go to Red Lantern in Sydney’s Surry Hills for a joint birthday and Christmas dinner with a few friends.

Everyone at the table (except me, I'm taking the photo!)

We had a table outside, which unfortunately is covered as this particular night was beautiful.  The setting was still quite nice, and contained many eponymous red lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Read more

Return top