Pistachio and lemon curd cake

The saying goes that we eat with our eyes. This is a notion highly applicable to the realm of sweets. The difficult thing about baking cakes is that, often, they can come out of the oven looking less than spectacular – at least compared to the photos in recipe books. This cake throws any worry of a wonky rise or volcanic cake peak out the window. 

Flower Drum, Melbourne

The thought of Chinese restaurants brings back old memories of grand banquets and traditional weddings at the esteemed Marigold and Dragon Star restaurants (when the latter was still operating) in Sydney’s bustling Chinatown. The delicious, crispy crack of suckling pig skin and wobbly jelly noodles, messy sang choy bow and fragrant whole steamed fish come flooding back into mind.

Menya Mappen, Sydney CBD

There is nothing quite like the sound of slurping noodles, or men (めん) in Japanese, at a meal time. There is no food group that is quite like the humble noodle. Whether eaten in a hot soup, served cold with a delicious dipping sauce, or fragrantly stir fried, noodles are a carbohydrate that I will never get sick of.

Cho Cho San, Potts Point

You may wonder where the name comes from. Cho Cho san (cho cho meaning butterfly in Japanese) is the geisha heroine of the famous opera, Madama Butterfly. Branching away from traditional Japanese cuisine, this Potts Point izakaya, based on an informal style of Japanese dining designed to accompany drinks, takes its inspiration from the simultaneous delicacy and exuberance of opera.

With a stark white and wooden interior, completed by a long grey marble bench that stretches the length of the restaurant, hints of the original Cho Cho san – through the image of a butterfly - peep through in various places, such as the restroom door (butterfly for females, rooster for males..?) and cheque booklet.
While the most flattering light shines through the windows and reflects off the minimalist décor during the day, at night the restaurant transforms into a dim, bustling eatery. Traditional Japanese stalwarts are given a contemporary twist on the menu designed to share, which covers small nibbles ‘izakaya style’, sashimi, tempura, meats and a noodles/rice/eggs section, as well as a short list of tempting sweets. 

Ginger Ninja mocktail: ginger syrup, lime, mint, ginger beer ($10); and Lychee Slushy mocktail: lychee, pineapple juice, mint, shaved ice ($10)
The Ginger Ninja and Lychee Slushy are the only two mocktails listed alongside the Japanese inspired cocktails and an extensive sake, ‘bubbles’ and wine list. Both are perfect for a refreshing, cooling hit to soothe the mouth when the chilli factor gets a little too high. While the ginger ninja has a zingy, hot ginger flavour, the lychee slushy is a slightly sweeter drink and the shaved ice works a treat. 

Agedashi Tofu ($10)
Cho cho san’s take on the classic agedashi tofu consists of the lightest, palest battering of tofu in a pool of tomato broth. The flavours are clean and fresh, as understated and delicious as the delicate presentation. 

Sashimi Plate ($42)
One of the more traditional menu items, sashimi of scallop, ocean trout, kingfish and oyster sing of that wonderful flavour only fresh seafood can possess. It’s pretty as a picture with the house made wasabi and zingy pickled ginger. 

Hiramasa kingfish, pickled ginger, cucumber ($22)
Arranged like a curled fish swimming in the ocean, silky kingfish sashimi comes in a salty, sweet soy sauce with thin ribbons of crunchy cucumber. There are multiple pieces of unctuous kingfish in this dish. Each is generous and has us coming back for more, despite the artful presentation giving the illusion of one long piece. 

Pork katsu steam bun ($8 each)
Keeping to Sydney’s popular steam bun craze, these are a little on the expensive side but nevertheless are finger-lickingly tasty. A well-sized piece of pork is fried in the signature katsu-style, nestled on a pillowy soft, white, folded bun with a mound of cabbage and good squeeze of spicy mayo. 

Chicken Karaage ($15)
Everyone’s favourite, the chicken karaage has a crunchy, bubbly and slightly heavier batter which coats the moist chicken pieces. Dipped in mayo and with a squeeze of lemon, it’s moreish and the perfect bar food to eat with your drinks.

Grilled king prawns, kombu butter ($24)
Succulent king prawns are grilled to perfection, a hands-on affair with sweet meat that has a lingering charcoal flavour. A pool of kombu butter meddles with the seafood juices, although the prawns are a little fiddly to tackle as the shells are left on. 

Japanese Bolognese ($18)
Chilli-fiends, this one’s for you. Thick, slippery udon noodles are tossed in a rich, chilli-laden, slightly sweet sauce with pebbles of pork mince and slivers of shitake. Crowned with a creamy whipped white sauce which helps break up the heat, it’s insanely addictive but not for those who prefer a milder level of heat.

Cabbage, radish, ginger ($10)
A simple but oh-so-tasty, fresh palette cleanser. Crunchy, shaved cabbage is topped with a garnish of uber-pretty radish and a wholesome Japanese dressing. A hint of ginger elevates the side dish to a whole new level. 

Teriyaki beef short rib ($42)
Irresistibly tender, pieces of short rib melt in the mouth, with a thin lining of fat which is offset by the acidity of pickled carrot ribbons. Order a side or two of white rice to mop up all the sweet, salty juices. 

Cho Cho San delivers delicious contemporary Japanese food in a buzzing, hip environment made all the more enjoyable when visiting with a large group, so that one is able to sample a wider variety of the expansive menu. I've also heard many great things about their matcha soft serve and steamed yuzu pudding. All the more reason so come back!


Cho Cho San Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

The Paramount Coffee Project, Surry Hills

You know those minimalist, hipster cafes where the lighting is always on point and every surface is perfect for taking photos? Where the menu is as on-trend and wholesome as the clean-lined aesthetic? Well, that's the Paramount Coffee Project in a nutshell.

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh, Sydney

Some say that you’re either a pasta lover or pizza fiend. Me? I have a hard time choosing one over the other – the slippery, saucy calls of al dente pasta are equally as enticing as the crisp, puffed crust and steaming oozy cheesiness of a pizza fresh from the oven.

Antoine's Grill, Concord (formerly Provence by Antoine)

Sometimes, you’ll dine at restaurants in which the atmosphere has the ability to transport you to places far and wide around the world. Eating at cheap, crowded, DIY cutlery and condiment Cantonese restaurants in Chinatown and Flemington, for example, brings back nostalgic memories of the authentic eateries lined along the sweltering streets of Hong Kong. Similarly, one step into the polished, dimly-lit space of Provence by Antoine gives the immediate impression of being immersed in the posh, tranquil restaurants of Provence.

Driving up to the restaurant at night feels like stumbling upon a warm, homely oasis in the depths of suburbia. Situated on a quiet, non-suspecting corner in Concord, this is the second venue by chef Antione Moscovitz, although on a recent drive by we notice that it has merged with his first venture, Antione’s Grill. The resulting amalgam now takes the name of the first restaurant, but features a menu that is a mix of French bistro and up-market, high quality grilled meats.

Here, you can find traditional classics such as Charcuterie, Escargot and Bouillabaise amid dry aged New York and Wagyu rib eye steaks.

Garlic Bread ($8)

Lightly charred sourdough is soft with lashings of melted garlic butter. The thin slices of bread ensure that the delicious garlic flavour spreads all the way through so that not one bit is left untouched.

Classic Ratatouille ($8)

Served in a cute enamel crockpot, a vegetable ratatouille of tomato, eggplant and capsicum is slow cooked to a luscious, silky consistency. This comes as the perfect side for one person, but as we were sharing we’d happily order another to savour the sweet, mellow tomato flavour.

Snail garden, young garlic, ragout, fresh herbs ($16)

If you have an aversion to snails, one taste of this artfully presented appetiser will surely convert you. The snails are slow cooked in an earthy, pungent mushroom ragout and have a soft, unctuous texture. There is a very generous serving of snails as they’re quite small in size and if you weren’t looking closely, one could be mistaken for a small, round mushroom. This is definitely dish we’d order again.  
Crispy seared Salmon & roasted Balmain bugs ($36)

This perfectly seared fillet of Petuna salmon has a caramelised, crunchy skin and goes well with a sweet pumpkin puree. The slightly charred flavour of the sweet, roasted Balmain bug flesh is heavenly, and the beetroot puree is deliciously silky.

Cassoulet ($38)

This traditional French hot pot features a confit duck leg, Toulouse sausage and pork belly immersed in a rich tomato sauce with lots of creamy lingo beans. The pork sausage has a coarser texture than your typical sausage, and the large piece of pork belly has a mouth-watering crackling skin. This cassoulet was large enough to share between two, with lots of tasty sauce left over perfect for mopping up with extra sourdough.

Pan-roasted Duck ($35)

Pan-roasted duck breast is cooked to a blushing pink, sitting atop a vibrant spinach puree with truffled black barley and wilted oak leaves. It is a very generous portion of duck, with the creamy puree acting as the perfect vehicle for the rich flavour of the meat.

Pork Belly ($32)

A rectangular piece of confit pork belly is doused in a rich jus with roasted carrot, spinach, star anise and pumpkin puree. It’s topped with a light, bubbly piece of what tastes like aerated crackling, which melts in the mouth. The pork itself is beautifully tender, with the perfect crackling on top, and each mouthful is soft and flavoursome. The sweet puree and greens marry well with the rich meat, and this, too, is a large serving for one.

Miniature dessert selection – dark velvet chocolate mousse, Confit apple tarte tatin, iced nougat glace, lavender panna cotta, ginger biscuit ($18 for one of each)

A platter of desserts features a mini version of each of four different desserts, perfect for any indecisive sweet lover. As we had a large group, there were 3 of each variety. The ‘tarte tatin’ comes as a small square of multiple layers of compressed, caramelised apple slices, and is quite sweet. The silky lavender panna cotta is served in a cute little half-dome, dotted with raspberry and cubes of pear on top, and the nougat is studded with a splinter of nutty praline. Also on the board is a spiced ginger biscuit, sitting under a sweet swirl of dark caramel.

It’s the dark chocolate mousse that steals our hearts, nestled in a miniature flower pot and dusted with chocolate crumbs to resemble soil. It has a smooth, velvet-like texture and just the right amount of bitterness to balance the rich chocolate flavour.

Antoine’s Grill is a great venue to enjoy exquisite French food in a quiet, tranquil location, perfect for any special night out. With its relaxed but stylish atmosphere and a range of menu items to suit both the sophisticated Francophile and grill enthusiast, we’ll surely be making a trip back to sample their decadent dry aged meats in the near future.


Antoine's Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Note: this restaurant was visited under the name of Provence by Antoine, so some dishes may no longer be available on the menu, or may differ slightly.

Manpuku Ramen, Chatswood | 2 Hungry Guys

Ramen lovers rejoice. 

Manpuku, Kingsford's stalwart ramen-ya, has expanded to open a second restaurant in Chatswood. The new restaurant has a similar menu to the original, with a slightly more upmarket interior and atmosphere.

Check out my post for Sydney food blog 2 Hungry Guys here, during which I had the pleasure of learning more about Manpuku's top quality ramen and unctuous handmade noodles from Chef Hideto Suzuki. With a ramen to suit all flavour and richness preferences, and a wide variety of authentic broths, there's something for everyone at Manpuku. Slurp away!

In anticipation of summer | A foodie bucket list

With Sydney’s recent chilly cold snap this week and a calendar which seems to be flipping ever so rapidly towards the end of the year (What? Only four months until Christmas?! WHAT?!), I’ve been dreaming ever so blissfully of warmer weather and all the glorious summer fruits and vegetables that will come into season. To fulfil those wishful musings, I thought I’d write a post about all the things I’m looking forward to this not too distant summer.

Cafe Oratnek, Redfern

Japanese food is one of my favourite cuisines. It’s fresh, tasty and healthy; full of pure, delicate but sophisticated flavours. When you integrate it into Sydney’s booming café culture, you get what I would consider to be the holy grail of culinary creation.

Stockroom Double Bay Dining, Double Bay

The gastonomic saying goes that there's always a second stomach for dessert. Whether you've just enjoyed a long, buffet lunch, a fast, casual meal or luxurious dining affair, the sweet appeal of a creamy, cool gelato or the calls of a square of decadent dark chocolate are hard to ignore, even when you're stomach seems to have already reached full capacity. 

Dumplings galore at The Mandoo, Strathfield

Among the many, many Korean BBQ restaurants in Strathfield, maintaining its presence on a relatively small, narrow corner shopfront, lies The Mandoo. It’s a handmade dumpling and noodle restaurant, with cute dumpling characters dancing on the front windows above a cluster of Korean and English menu items.

Going it spicy at Spice Temple, Sydney CBD

It amazes me how interior designers are able to integrate alluring spaces into the most unsuspecting areas. Spice Temple’s inconspicuous entrance - a hologram-like doorway tucked into a crevice to the side of Rockpool’s grand façade on Hunter Street - is a case in point.

Walk down the yellow-tinted stairwell to basement level, where you’ll emerge into a dimly-lit abyss marked by red slat screens and dark mood lighting. It’s instantly calming, and one can be forgiven for forgetting that busy Sydney city sits only a few stair flights away.

Ginger-Spiced Pumpkin Loaf

Sometimes you find yourself craving cake, but don’t feel like eating something that leaves you with a lingering sugar high. You have an urging desire for that delicate, soft crumb, to consume a scrumptious piece of baked goodness, just not of the sweet variety.

Opera Bar, Circular Quay

 It’s easy to forget about the alluring magnificence and splendour of Sydney Harbour when you actually live in Sydney. Iconic locations like Circular Quay and The Rocks are often overlooked for other unique, culture-rich suburbs considered to be more hip and less crowd-infested. But a visit to the harbour itself presents something of a homely comfort; a reminder that to live in such a city that boasts glamorous water views and buffeting sea winds is an unappreciated pleasure in itself.

Kamikaze Teppanyaki | Guest Post for 2 Hungry Guys

Sometimes all one could yearn for in life is a giant platter of sashimi, decorated with tendrils of cucumber and frolics of wafer-thin carrot. Oh, and a delicately carved carrot butterfly to top it all off.

I'm thrilled to have been asked to contribute to 2 Hungry Guys, a delicious Sydney food blog with such a wide variety of posts that you can get stuck on their website for days and days and still not find the time to read everything!

Tea +, Burwood

With all the salted craze that's been going around for some time, it comes as no surprise that salted milk froth has become a popular trend of late, particularly in the wide, colourful realm of Asian drinks. It's a gastronomic flavour combination which seems unusual, but works surprisingly well. Tea + in Burwood is a case in point, offering a signature SeaSalt Milk Foam which combines all things frothy and salty in one.

If you're a regular food instagrammer, you may have come across a snap or two of their House Special Plant Milk Tea in your feed. Described as a fulfilment of 'visual and tasting satisfaction' (according to their website) it uncannily resembles a cute plant in a giant glass mug. Depending on what flavour tea you opt for, underneath the oreo 'soil' sits a thick white layer of SeaSalt cream, floating atop a sea of milky, pastel coloured tea.

Chur Burger, Surry Hills

I have fond memories of many a finger-licking cheeseburger consumed on our annual family road trips up the coast when I was little. I was always a cheeseburger-happy-meal child, relishing the sweet tomato sauce, tasty mustard and flecks of onion which sandwiched together my flat cheeseburger, in all it's greasy goodness.

Then as I grew older, no more were those messy cheeseburgers, with their bright yellow cheese and iconic soft brown buns, as our trips became less frequent and my tastebuds searched for flavours of a different kind. Now the humble burger is back in business. In fact, it has been for some time now, and it doesn't look like it's going to be disappearing again.

Black Sesame Tong Yuan

Imagine if someone told you that all the best features of Asian sweets existed in a single dessert. The sticky, chewy texture of mochi, the roasted aroma of black sesame, ginger's signature hot zing, and the warm fulfilment of a sweet dessert soup, melded together to create what encompasses the pinnacle of everything that I love about Asian cuisine. 

Chinese New Year, for many Chinese families, is a celebration bigger than Christmas. It's a time when multiple generations get together, exchange well wishes, and gather to eat a banquet of traditional, well-loved foods which are destined to give good luck for the new year.

Taste of Shanghai, Ashfield

There's something so enjoyable about eating dumplings. Here are some of the reasons I think why.
  1. Dumplings are small, so you can eat a lot of them.
  2. They have a very high filling to wrapper ratio, so when you eat a lot they don't feel as heavy as something wrapped in thicker bread or rice.
  3. Dumplings come in so many different varieties and flavours that it's quite impossible to find a variety that you don't like. 
  4. They're cute!
  5. You can eat them easily without embarrassing yourself or causing a mess (I'm looking at you, tacos)
...And the list goes on.

Frappe Cafe Bar, Concord

Omelettes! Frappes! Poached eggs! Labneh! Ha, that last one surprised you, didn't it? There's only one meal I can be talking about.. And it doesn't begin with a D or an L. It's breakfast!

What excites me so much about breakfast is not that my stomach hasn't seen food in 10+ hours (although that may be a major factor...), but the prospect of breakfast being a meal that gives me something to look forward to when I get up and give me energy for the rest of the day. I find it quite inconceivable that one can get up in the morning and not even consider having breakfast. As the cliche goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Jamie's Italian, Sydney CBD

Sometimes, when we go to a restaurant that doesn't take bookings, as we approach the restaurant I will quicken my pace from a leisurely walk to a hurried trot in an attempt to reach the end of the queue before anyone else walking in front of me to said restaurant does. It is as if by decreasing the distance between me and the queue, through increasing travel speed, my goal of getting into the restaurant earlier can be fulfilled. Of course, this is not always the case; sometimes the party of two that arrive 10 minutes later will receive a table earlier than we do. Despite giving me the satisfaction of reaching a restaurant before the ambling diners behind me, there is no sure way to make the wait shorter when it comes to restaurants which are so popular that waiting has become part of the dining experience. Such is the case at restaurants such as the xiao long bao institution, Din Tai Fung, and the epynomous Gelato Messina.

Jamie's Italian on Pitt Street in Sydney's CBD has been open for 3 years already, but I hadn't visited it until just recently. What is an unassuming facade consisting of a double-story glass window, fronted by a large, rustic 'J' signpost, can be easy to miss is you're hurriedly walking down a busy city street. Inside it's a whole different vibe, with the noisy chatter and split-level interior providing plenty to feast your eyes on. Jamie's takes bookings for parties of any number, so I could rest my laurels in knowing that we wouldn't have to worry about securing a table during the busy lunch hour.