Monday, September 29, 2014

Ippudo - Chippendale (Central Park)

I had been lucky enough to be invited by Ippudo to visit their new premise at Central Park before their opening on Oct 2nd. Situated in the 'dining district' of the complex, the vibe around the place is really chillaxy and awesome - as is the decor of their newly renovated restaurant.

To be honest, when I received their invitation, I was really really excited. Since Ippudo first came to Sydney, I had been meaning to try out their ramen and pork bun. But for one reason or another, my efforts to go had been thwarted in one way or another.

The first thing that you get smacked in the face with when you enter their store is a super crazy enthusiastic "いっらしゃいませ" ("Irrashaimase"). I hope that the staff were only this enthusiastic because it's early days as their welcome chant was so intense that it gave me a fright! LOL :)
We were welcomed warmly with an extensive menu and told to chose anything except.... they didn't have pork buns! My heart sank a little >.<

We made our selection - a beef croquette to share, a Shiromaru Special for me, and a Miso Tonkotsu Special for hubby. The beef croquette was slightly too oily but it was golden brown and crumbed well. The innards flowed out this beefy creamy substance which was unexpectedly meaty in flavour. I didn't dislike it, but it was very different to other croquette's I've had due to the beefiness of it.

Tables around us ordered things like their fish and chips (lighly battered salmon with chips), and salmon aburi sushi. I have to say - I got serious food envy. The sushi looked pretty awesome! I definitely have to try it next time I go there.

Our ramen came shortly after. The "special" bit of our ramen meant that we get a side plate of flavoured soft boiled egg, simmered pork belly, roasted seaweed sheets, black mushrooms (or black fungus), bamboo shoots and spring onions. I know, it's the greedy option but I really enjoyed the gooey nature of the egg and the plentiful seaweed. And the simmered pork belly??? Simply melt-in-your-mouth to die for type of YUM!

For the noodles, you get to choose between soft, medium and firm for the amount of cookedness. The waitress recommended 'firm' to get maximal texture and bounciness in the noodles and I guess, the noodles gradually soak up the soup anyway. As for the soup bases, hubby's Miso Tonkotsu was really flavourful. Not as thick as Gumshara, but you could still taste the collageny goodness about. The semi-strong miso flavour mixed in with the pork soup makes this a very palatable slurp.
My Shiromaru soup is also tonkotsu based. It was less intense and served with thin white Hakata-style noodles. The two ramens were really quite different. My one is the milder cousin of the miso tonkotsu but just as filling. I have no idea how the other tables managed to eat their noodles with their fish and chips / sushi but hubby and I were both super super stuffed by the end of our meal.
I had a tasty meal. I love noodles and this satisfied my noodle cravings. Can't wait til they officially open and I can finally sample their pork buns!

Ippudo Sydney (Central Park)
Level 1, RB07
28 Broadway
NSW 2008

Opening on : October 2nd, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bootsdarling - Darlinghurst

I must be getting old because I can no longer sleep in on the weekends, and instead, find myself wide eyed at my normal work wake-up time without the need for an alarm. As such, my hubby had to force himself to go get up and have brekky with me somewhere - on this occasion, at Bootsdarling cafe in Darlinghurst.

Being super early, there were seats a plentiful. The coffee here was really smooth and tasty - rendering my usual need to add sugar to my capp surprisingly redundant. Definitely a good wake-up.
Food wise, hubby ordered the corn and zucchini fritters which were really light and fluffy. The fritters also had a hint of ricotta and were stacked nicely with a poached egg, bacon and loads of pesto salsa verde on the side. I have to say - I liked it so much that I stole the whole plate from hubby and swapped him my pulled pork after just a few bites.

The slow cooked pulled pork was mixed with a pea hash, kale and a perfect poached egg. A decent tub of Dijon mustard accompanied this plethora of meat. It was tasty and packed full of soft succulent meat... a bit too much meat for my breakfast liking - but hubby liked it muchly, which aided a smooth swap of meals :)
Quite a nice little gem of a cafe. Good vibe and friendly service. Will definitely be back for some awesome coffee.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 6.5/10
Overall - 29.5/40

333S Dowling St
NSW 2010
Tel: 0421 181 534

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Frango - Norwest

I've been meaning to visit Frango since they opened in Norwest but as they're not open on Sunday, the normal day that I'm around that area, I haven't had the chance to try it until a couple of weekends ago. Although it was raining and cold, there was an abundant of people lining up at this place wanting some tasty chicken.

Not knowing what exactly to get, we got a chicken and chips pack and a burger and chips pack. We ended up with too much fries and only then did we eye an adjacent table who had the smarts to swap their fries for salad. That's what we should do next time for sure!

The chicken was actually really tender and tasty, with a pretty yummy slightly chilli mayo sauce. Finger-licking good :) Hubby enjoyed it but I think if he was given the choice, El Jannah is where he would be going (for the charcoaled chicken and garlic sauce :P).
The burger was also quite tasty. The chicken piece was tender and also, lightly slathered with the chilli mayo sauce. The lettuce was abundantful but tended to fall everywhere. It tasted much like an Oporto's bondi burger (which I quite enjoy anyway).
I enjoyed the chicken here but it was nothing crazily amazing. It's not bad for a rainy day but if I had to choose between Frango chilli mayo and El Jannah's garlic sauce, garlic sauce will win hands down - everytime :)

Food - 7/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 26/40

Ground Floor Shop 5
29-31 Lexington Drive
Bella Vista
NSW 2153
Tel: (02) 9672 6474

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Taiki Japanese Restaurant

A craving for Japanese food took us nearby to Lane Cove one night. I always crave sushi and hubby always enjoys Blue Fin Tuna, so when we found out that Taiki had Blue Fin on their menu, we were both pretty happy and edging to try.

We couldn't resist ordering the 'Otoro' nigiri (fatty tuna). We envisioned something similar to the awesome melt-in-your-mouth experience we had in Tokyo. Unfortunately, this fell a bit short. Yes it was tasty and yummy - but it lacked that melty feeling and was slightly sinuey.

How could I resist from ordering the deluxe sashimi and sushi platter. Loads of deliciously fresh sashimi. The salmon was good and this chunky white fish (not kingfish) was sooooo good. It was so creamy and delish! The nigiri here was average but OK enough to satisfy my sushi cravings.

More tuna for hubby came in the form of a grilled tuna cheek. This didn't LOOK good but it smelt pretty tasty. The tuna flesh was silky and yum. I actually really liked it and there was a lot more meat than what I'd expected.
The restaurant wasn't super busy but all the customers here seemed happy with their orders. The sashimi was pretty amazing and the tuna cheek was not bad. However, the nigiri and sushi rolls here were just average.

Food - 8/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29/40

Taiki Japanese Restaurant
96 Longueville Road
Lane Cove NSW 2066
Tel: (02) 9428 1007

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ryde Haejangguk - North Strathfield

The Korean Restaurant on our street keeps changing names. The latest name is Ryde Haejangguk - seems to have the longest name compared to it's predecessors - and it also seems to have attract the most amount of patrons.
Side dishes are OK but I'm so spoilt by 'Jonga Jip' (Eastwood) where you get like 11 side dishes that four side dishes just seem a bit dismal. Nonetheless - the kimchi and the fishcake was pretty tasty.
We had contemplated getting a hot pot, but at the last minute, we decided on a small soup each. Hubby got the lamb soup whilst I got the ox bone soup. Hubby really enjoyed his lamb soup - super lamby flavour and tons of perilla seeds and green vege strips (perilla leaves maybe?). Hubby dunked his meat in this mean concoction of gochujang, perilla, mustard and soy, making it even tastier.

My ox bone soup was super sizzling when it got to the table. The soup was nice and white, lots of shallot and big strips of meat. The soup felt really clean and gave the illusion of healthiness. Not bad.

So this place is pretty tasty - but there's a korean dumpling restaurant that just opened opposite it. I'll have to try that too and compare them both! :)

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29/40

Ryde Haejangguk 
1-3 George Street
North Strathfield
NSW 2137
Tel: (02) 9746 8746