Saturday, May 31, 2014

Exploring Sydney day 1: Fish market, Zumbo patisserie, Gumshara ramen

This is the second time I am visiting Sydney (blog posts on last year's Sydney trip can be seen here). Sydney is a very widespread city and one may need to travel further to explore more which was why I planned to visit a few different spots this time round. Australia is a big continent and I am forever grateful for cheap flight fares that enables me to easily move around the country. I traveled via Jetstar for convenience, reliability and affordable tickets.

First stop the bunch of us visited was Deus cafe which was located near our accommodation in Camperdown (about 20 minutes drive from the CBD precinct). Interesting decor on the walls but more importantly, a nice range of dishes to choose from which I would have loved to try if time permits.

After brekkie at Deus Cafe, we hopped into a taxi to the Sydney fish market where we literally went there on a daily basis throughout the entire trip. More on that later because it deserves an entire blog post to describe the scene.

And so, we adjourned to the Star Casino to visit Zumbo. Little did we know that we bought a whole V8 cake because it did not come in smaller sizes:( Oh and not to mention a few macarons along the way too. I think I can safely claim that I have tried most of the flavours available at the casino. Who knows what would happen if we had actually went to his main shop in Balmain. Perhaps on a separate trip:)

As you can see, macarons here probably costs less compared to Adelaide which probably reduced the rate of my wallet's diet. Would have liked to try his infamous Zonut but as stated above, we blew our budget on the V8 cake to which, I was a little upset initially but grew out of it I suppose.

And here I present to you the V8 cake in all it's glory and perfection. We bought smaller boxes to package the cake into and it did survive the 1.5 hour flight back to Adelaide. True enough, there were 8 evident layers, nicely set out with it's own individual textures and flavours. Very impressive and not something that would be easy to replicate unfortunately!

One thing that Sydney does particularly well is Japanese food. There are so many ramen outlets and sushi restaurants to choose from! In future, I need to organize a Japanese food hunt here. Aside from that, this pretty much summarized our first day in Sydney. Way too much seafood and sugar but luckily, we managed to walk off some of it whilst moving around the city:)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Tetsuya's Sydney

Having rang up to book about two weeks in advance, we were pretty fortunate to land ourselves a table considering it was a last minute thought. I came across Tetsuya via Masterchef and since then, have been pondering on the likes of dining at his restaurant. It is fascinating to learn about an individual's life journey, both the bitter and sweet experiences.

The entire restaurant was beautifully decorated with a few paintings on the wall and sufficient space for diners and waiters to whiz past. Despite it being night time, I managed to catch a glimpse of his garden which must have looked spectacular in the day. Tetsuya offers a 10 course degustation menu for $220, excluding wine pairing.

We were offered two different types of bread to go with the truffle butter and of course, you are most welcomed to request for more. I wish I had because the butter was very fragrant, light and aromatic. It spreads like cream but has a butter-y like shine to it. Very yummy and it's a good start to our degustation meal.

Pacific Oysters with rice wine vinegar and ginger ~ how Tetsuya managed to concoct this is beyond my imagination. It had a slightly tart taste, a bit of pungent ginger aroma and sweetness from the fresh oyster. I would have liked more but let's not be greedy, shall we?:P

Savoury custard with avruga ~ without a doubt, all of us were not familiar with every ingredient placed in front of us but we were happy to try it out. This reminded me of a typical Japanese chawan mushi (steamed egg custard) but it was much more softer and was very fragrant indeed. Loved this one too and fingers crossed I am able to recreate something similar.

Carpaccio of snapper with umeboshi ~ fresh and slightly sweet, this may have been inspired by Tetsuya's background but made fusion.

Marinated scampi with walnut oil and egg ~ at this point, I was at fresh seafood heaven. The egg yolk may have been freezed a bit to retain it's shape. It did not melt or crumble when I pierced it with my knife. A very interesting combination but definitely kudos for innovation.

Confit of Petuna ocean trout with a salad of celery, witlof, apple and unpasteurised ocean trout roe ~ Tetsuya's signature dish that must have been created many years ago and until today, it still is a favourite among diners. And I second that notion. My piece of ocean trout was confit very well and topped with a salty seaweed mix that is just blew me away. I want more.

Roasted moreton bay bug with braised oxtail ~ we are now approaching a more carnivorous selection of dishes which is a good transit from the lighter dishes we had earlier. The oxtail was braised very well and bay bug cooked nicely.

Tea smoked quail breast with parsnip and calamari ~ I can't remember the last time I had quail breast but I do for sure know that this one is cooked well as it still had a tinge of pink. The parsnip and calamari served as perfect condiments to the game-y quail breast.

Roasted lamb rack with  black olives and artichoke ~ I liked how every single dish is presented well with attention to detail. This dish was a bit more toned down compared to the earlier dishes that we had but still cooked to perfection and most certainly, respecting the produce itself.

Sauternes custard with achacha and berries ~ dessert started off with a lightly flavoured custard that has little pieces of berries embedded in it and topped with granita. Reminded me of Quay's guava snow egg but I think this one has it's own charm to it.

Tetsuya's chocolate cake ~ strangely enough, this also reminded me of Quay's eight texture layer cake but with its own little elements. No fancy show of us diners, just a really decadent chocolate mousse cake that has a very shiny gloss on it. Ending the entire course with chocolate gets an approval tick from me.

Petits fours ~ pretty pink miniature macarons and chocolate truffle. To sweeten up the entire night!:)

Dining at Tetsuya is a unique experience on it's own and for a very special event, it is probably one of those things I have to sample at least once whilst in Sydney. Worth a try for anyone keen on Japanese fusion food done by an expert:)

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon

Mamak in Chinatown Sydney

One thing I have learnt from living overseas is that home is where the heart will always be. You may drag me across various continentals but I am a true blue Malaysian at heart. I cannot spend a day without my Malaysian accent nor can I break those painfully annoying habits associated with your typical Malaysians (aka a strong passion for food).

On the first night upon arrival in Sydney, we felt game enough to walk to Mamak, an extremely popular Malaysian eatery that has both locals and tourists lining up for Malaysian food. What better place to wind down at close to 11pm than a mamak, notoriously known for their past-midnight opening hours.

We had to queue up for at least 15 minutes before we could get in but service is very efficient and before we realized it, plates were making their way to our table.

Teh tarik aka pulled tea ~ a caffeinated Malaysian favourite that has a decent amount of sweetness in it to cut through the tea flavour. Not too sweet which is a good thing:)

Cendol ~ this bowl of shaved ice has a oodles of fat pandan flavoured "noodles" amidst the shaved ice and brown sugar syrup. Would be a very refreshing summer treat.

Roti canai with dahl and fish curry ~ considering that this is homemade, it tastes reasonably close to home. But I reckon the winner on this plate is that small section of curry and dahl that had the closest taste to home with a decent amount of chilli in it.

Roti planta aka roti with butter filling ~ a sweet supper treat with crunchy borders. Pretty good in my opinion despite not being a strong advocate of roti planta.

Roti tisu with a dollop of vanilla ice cream ~ I was impressed with how the chef prepared this and it is evident that a lot of care was used with shaping it. It was crunchy and had a thin layer of caramelized sugar underneath it which probably added more crunch to it. A highly recommended one to have although it does cost slightly more than the other roti dishes.

Mamak on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rigoni's Bistro

Ah, where do I begin to tell the tale? Rigoni was THE restaurant that I lived close to for a year but sadly, I never got the opportunity to walk in due to financial constraints as well as lack of time convenience. After that many years, I finally got to visit this place for dinner on a busy friday evening.

Service at Rigoni is undeniably top notch; waiters are constantly on their feet ensuring that diners have their glasses filled and any queries are promptly responded to. Albeit the noise from the excited crowd, the waiting staff spoke clearly and loud enough for all of us to hear:)

Bruschetta di tonno ~ confit tuna with green olives, fried capers, cherry tomatoes and parsley. I desperately wanted to like this dish but sadly, as you may notice, the tuna did not do the other ingredients justice. It reminded me of canned tuna with it's familiar scent. Do note that this is from my personal observation and it probably varies with other customer's views.

Bruschetta di funghi ~ confit pine mushroom, rocket and pecorino with rocket pesto. I am a huge fan of mushrooms and had to try this out for myself. Has a subtle hint of salt from the pecorino which blends well with the mushroom and pesto flavours.

Calamari fritti ~ fried calamari with watercress, wild rocket, snow pea salad, fresh lemon and homemade tartare. The highlight of this dish would be the tartare sauce. It oozes a strong character and when paired with the lightly fried calamari pieces, it was divine. I was a happy diner but would have liked a bit more for the cost of this entree (it was about $17.90 for an entree size).

Spaghetti tutto mare ~ blue swimmer crab, black mussels, black tiger prawns, fish, calamari, garlic, onions, parsley and Napoli. A very generous sized main course which is packed full of seafood. I am a fan of generousity and this one ticked all the right boxes. To top it off, the sauce was a mildly flavoured sauce that does not overpower the seafood taste. Yummo!

Gnocchi with pumpkin, clams and chorizo ~ this was one of their specials for the night and it was so good. It has a creamy sauce component to it but it did not make the entire dish gluey or yucky after a few mouthfuls. Very interesting flavour combination and definitely a winner with those soft blobs of gnocchi.

Fondante di cioccolato ~ chocolate fondant with tamarillo sorbet, white chocolate butterscotch and fairy floss. Fondant tasted fine to me although would have liked a little more oomph to it.

Tiramisu di rigoni with poached quince, almond lace biscuit and chocolate gelati ~ The tiramisu had lovely layers to it and the chocolate gelati was yums. The quince was a little too sour for my liking but aside from that, it was an alright dish for me.

Overall, Rigoni may be a bit pricey for some but for the service that you get, it may be negligible. I would strongly recommend their main dishes though!:)

Rigoni's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cafe Brunelli

As mentioned numerous times in the blog for the past week, I seem to be addicted to Italian food and am always up for either a slice of pizza, a plate of pasta or even a humble plate of risotto. Thankfully, I have two siblings who are not too fussy of where to go and are as adventurous with their food. Talk about God gifting us what we need, not what we want haha.

Sunday night, not the most productive day for most of us and is also the hallmark of the new week. And so, siblings and I decided to roam around the eastern suburbs for a quick bite which, eventually, brought us to Brunelli. No reservations needed and lots of choices to pick from. Place your order at the cashier, pay  for your meal and wait for at most 13 minutes to be served:)

Spaccata pizza ~ ground beef, cheese, ham, salami and bacon aka the meat lover edition. My siblings are carnivorous in nature and so, this was a mutual agreement between all of us. Generous amounts of each type of meat added to the pizza but I found it a little salty for my liking. I have been on a low salt diet so I am probably a little more sensitive towards my salt intake these days. Aside from that, thin crust that has a nice golden colour and crunch to it. Yummo!

Marinara pasta with bianco sauce ~ Knowing that we have ordered a couple of plates with tomato based sauces, I have decided to order a lighter version, just so that we don't drown ourselves in tomato goodness. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins and other nutrients but I wouldnt mind a slight change in the menu hehe. Marinara pieces were fresh and the sauce was definitely a lighter option in contrast with the other dishes.

Pollo parmigiana ~ crumbed chicken breast with ham, cheese and topped with tomato sauce. Yup, the brother was keen on trying out parmigiana in all the restaurants around Adelaide. Overall, it was a good dish and probably compatible to some other places. However, I will still order their pastas and pizzas here:)

German apple cheesecake ~ yep, we had to have dessert to satisfy our sweet tooth. There is a huge selection of cakes, biscuits and slices at the front counter, all ready made and ready to be consumed. Not too bad overall and definitely made me happy hehe.

Crepe suzette ~ strawberries, orange and kiwi crepe covered with sweet citrus glaze served with cream and vanilla gelati. A little dry for my liking but adding the gelati certained helped it a lot. One of the fanciest crepes I have seen so far though but not a traditional crepe suzette that I would imagine. Never mind that, it would be a wicked treat for any kid at heart:)

Definitely not one of the posh-est Italian restaurants I have been to nor does it have the best Italian food in Adelaide but for a quick bite with minimal fuss, it's a good option:)

Cafe Brunelli Glynde Corner on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Midvalley Kuala Lumpur food hunt: Tong Pak Fu

I have been wanting to go here for two years aka since I first heard about it but sadly, nobody was keen on having a sugar filled afternoon session with me. And so, that idea got scratched off from the itinerary until now! If only you could see the joy spread on my face when I found out that I will be heading here for afternoon snacking!

The entire menu consisted of bowls of shaved ice so please do not come here expecting a slice of cake haha. I had a fair share of shaved ice in Taiwan but I was looking forward to trying out the truly Malaysian variations that Tong Pak Fu had.

Shaved durian ice with assorted jellies ~ yums!!!!! We were skeptical about the durian flavour in this and we were not disappointed at all. It had strong durian essence infused in it, with some restraints to ensure that it's not too overpowering. Definitely a good one for the durian fans out there:)

A tease?

Shaved ice cendol with green jellies, macerated red bean and grass jelly with a small cupful of gula melaka syrup! Get ready to drizzle and enjoy this one. I was obviously in sugar heaven after finishing off this bowl. It was so good and resembles the real deal pretty well. Can't complain at all:)