Thursday, May 31, 2012

MoJee - Strathfield

We were walking around  Strathfield one day and wondering where to eat when we noticed a cute little sign for an upstairs Korean cafe. Intrigued, we wandered upstairs to check it out.

The menu and the atmosphere here feels more relaxed and casual. Hubby opted for a Kimchi soup and I ordered a fish cake soup. We also decided on a leek and seafood pancake to share.

Side dishes-wise we got two plates of kimchi. Nothing too spectacular, but not bad either. The "leek" in the pancake was really just shallots. There were crazy amounts of shallots in it but very little amounts of seafood. It was really tasty though :)
leek and seafood pancake
Hubby's kimchi soup was soaked redness with clams, tofu, enoki, potato starch noodles and loads of kimchi. Hubby seemed to enjoy it much. My fish cake soup was really simple and seems to be something someone can take out of the freezer and boil in fish stock... nonetheless, it whet my appetite as I really like the fish cake stuff ;)
kimchi soup
fish cake soup
Food - 7.5/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 28/40

MoJee Korean Restaurant
Shop 1, 27 The Boulevard 
NSW 2135
Tel: (02) 9763 7446

Monday, May 28, 2012

Libiyamo - Pyrmont

One of our friends has been going on about a restaurant in Pyrmont which serves awesome pizza. He said that his Italiano colleagues and friends all recommend this joint as the pizza is relatively authentic. So on one cold autumn night, we set out to check it out.

We ordered 4 pizzas, 2 pastas and a salad to share between the 6 of us. The pizzas were opted for were the Capricciosa, the Vegetariana, Romana, and the Margherita. All of the pizzas cam on a thin yet still chewy crust. The crispy and nicely burnt flavour from the wood-fired oven was a good addition, and a nice contrast, to the somewhat soggy middle of the pasta - made moist and floppy due to the thinness of the crust and tomato sauciness of the pizza. The toppings were quite appetising and whilst most of my friends found the anchovies on the Romana too salty, I thought that it was rather tasty.

Capricciosa - $23
ham, mushroom, italian sausage, roasted capsicum, mozzarella, tomato
Vegetariana - $22
Mushrooms, eggplant, olives, onion, roasted capsicum, tomato, mozzarella
Romana - $22
anchovies, capers, tomato, mozzarella
Margherita - $17
tomato, basil, mozzarella
For the pastas, we got sucked into the yummty description of the pasta of the day, which was a mud crab spaghetti with cherry tomatos. The pasta was flavoursome and rich, a touch on the salty side. And whilst there were massive chunks of crab lying on the side of a big heap of pasta, it was somewhat disappointing that there was no actual crab meat in the pasta itself. The other pasta was the tagliatelle al ragu di vitella. This was a tried and tested pasta (by our friends) but unfortunately, the chef must have misjudged the salt levels. Whilst the pasta was yummy and the veal was tender, it was sooooooo salty. We sent the pasta back to the kitchen and confused our waitress quite a bit by saying that we didn't want a new one.

pasta of the day - mud crab spaghetti

Tagliatelle al ragu di vitella - $24
house made tagliatelle with veal shoulder ragu slow cooked in white wine
The mixed garden salad comprised of lettuce, cherry tomatos and green olives. I don't eat olives but my friends all said that these were the best olives they have ever eaten.
mixed garden salad
The food here is good but probably not excellent. The pizza's are tasty but... we've probably had better elsewhere. The service here was rather apalling. I don't know if that's the norm, but our waitress looked really confused the whole night. We would order, she would give us a blank look in return. She asked if we wanted water. We said yes. She did not return with water until asked again. And if you're wanting a receipt... think again. We spent more than 10 minutes waiting for them to give us a receipt...which at the end, was a little docket with the correct 'total amount' but filled with items of things we did not order and none of the things we did.

Food - 7/10
Service - 5/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 27/40

2-14 Bunn St
NSW 2009
Tel: (02) 9552 1509

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sushi Kanesaka (鮨かねさか) - Ginza

This was our second (and higher end) attempt at an edomae style sushi omakase dinner. This 2 michelin star restaurant was reported situated in a very hard to find place in Ginza so my hubby and I did our research to ensure we didn't get lost trying to find it. Stairs down to the basement were tucked in a little alleyway in a commercial building with only a small plain restaurant light and the red banners as your guiding light. Stepping downstairs, the restaurant probably could fit around 16 people (2 sides of 8 people with a chef personally servicing each side).
Chef Kanesaka is really quite young-looking and he can also speak a little bit of English (with a bit of an accent). We had the option of a 20000 Yen or a 30000 Yen set, and being just a poor young married couple, we opted for the 20000 Yen (and were not disappointed). Below is what we were served :
Kobashira (baby scallop) - Baby scallops tasted nothing like the normal scallops we eat. Normal scallops are smooth and creamy. Baby scallops have more crunch, are more subtly sweet and were quite an interesting eat when mixed with the grated seasoned daikon raddish
oyster - being quite massive, it as neatly cut into two to allow for bite sized pieces. The oyster was smooth and creamy.
Buri (Yellow Tail) - Quite a yummy cut of sashimi. But it didn't really stand out in any way.
Awabi (abalone) - this as pulled from some delicious broth. It was sooooooo super tender and tasty. Everyone got a quarter of the abalone - the chunks were massive!
baby shrimp with snapper liver - this was my favourite sashimi for the day. The baby shrimp was really sweet and was complimented well by the creamy, relatively strong flavour of the snapper liver. I could eat platefuls of this yummy delicacy!
Snapper - this was the first of our edomae style sushies. The technique by which he makes the rice balls was astounding to watch. He then expertly slaps a bit of wasabi on the fish, squishes it to the right place on the rice ball and then lightly brushes soy sause on time. Pro-ness...
Chutoro (medium-fat tuna belly) - I don't think my camera captured it well. There were more obvious white fatty bits on this slice when he first bought out the fish but I think that the fat melted into the meat as it slowly warmed a bit (kind of like what happens to marbled steak?). Nonetheless, it was flavoursome and delicious.
Otoro (super fatty tuna belly) - this was a step higher than the chutoro in that the fatty content made it simply 'melt in your mouth'. I've heard it said before that amazing Otoro is so crazily 'melt in your mouth' that if it were not for the rice, you probably wouldn't have to chew... well, I didn't understand what that meant til now.
Maguro (marinated tuna) - although it lacked all the fattiness that the previous 2 pieces of tuna provided, this was still amazing piece of sushi. The marinade must be some kind of sweet soy mixture which helps break down the sinews of the fish... or something like that...because it was still soooo crazy smooth and easy to eat - not at all like the tuna sushis we get in Sydney. I think that this sushi piece was on par (if not even yummier) than the chutoro piece.
Ika (squid) - Gone are the days where squid is chewy and tough and your teeth can't seem to escape the 'bubble-gum' feel. Ika in Japan is just so fresh (or cut so well) that it's easy to bite through, allowing the sweetness of the squid to fill your senses without your teeth going through such hard chewing actions.
Ebi (prawn) - the way Kanesaka described it was "prawn with shrimp powder sweet taste". Not entirely sure what he meant but it did taste very sweet and yummy.
Kohada (spotted sardine) - my new favourite fish to eat at a sushi joint! The skin was delectably smooth and the flesh was just so tasty and sweet. It's the most popular edomae style sushi in the region for a reason!
Aji (horse mackeral) - hubby's favourite. Again, I think it tastes like 'hainan chicken rice'. The ginger is hidden beneath the fish this time, with only the shallot mixture visible. Really smooth 'chicken' like texture :)
giant clam - this clam gave a really 'fresh' and crunchy feel. It wasn't altogether super flavoursome but it was 'fresh'.
Hamaguri (Clam) - This looked like one mean looking clam :) A thicker tastier sauce was brushed on and this clam was amazingness!

Uni (sea urchin) - I'm not a big fan of sea urchin, neither was my hubby. But he claims that after this sea urchin, with it's creaminess and tastiness, he is converted to be a sea-urchin lover.

Anago (eel) - markes the last of the fish in the 'edomae' style sushi. I normally don't eat eel, but I ate it here (impolite not to do so) and it wasn't as bad as I thought. Hubby loved it. 

Kampyo maki (marinated gourd rolls) - 'sweet' roll to finish. The marinated gourd veges were nice and sweet... but hubby and I were both blown away by the amount of wasabi Kanesaka placed in this. We were definitely both teary and trying to hold it in.

Tamago (sweet egg) - our dessert was this really smooth sweet egg cake thing. It was kind of like a hard pudding. Very sweet and very eggy in flavour. Not to my liking, but it's very popular in Japan to mark the end of your sushi meal.

Kanesaka being camera-shy and looking away
This was a truely amazing meal. Though we had so much food, the meal didn't really last that long - maybe like an hour? Kanesaka san knew limited English and we had fun trying to communicate with each other. He told us that he only closes his shop for the national holidays - super hard working!!! I guess his hard work pays off as his skills are immaculate!

Food - 9.5/10
Service - 9/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 34.5/40

Sushi Kanesaka
Basement floor, 8-10-3 Ginza, 
Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-5568-4411

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Noggi - Strathfield

It never ceases to amaze me why or how there are such epic lines whenever I'm in Strathfield (sometimes relatively late at night). There's males and females, typically late teen - early 20s looking, lining up for what seems like hours outside 2 of the many stores near the station : Moochi and Noggi. What are they? Frozen yoghurt stores.

The frozen yoghurt hype has been around for some time now. Marketed as the "healthy" alternative, frozen yoghurt (which looks a lot like soft serve) comes zero in fat, frozen, tasty, has a variety of flavours, and usually mixed in with a range of fruit bits, nuts, or other condiments. I've never been a fan of the taste of yoghurt , frozen or unfrozen, but my hubby and our friends seem to simply love this dessert alternative.

noggi strathfield
So on one chilly Sunday night, it was my first time experiencing the long lines. Hubby ordered a mix of green tea and orginal flavoured frozen yoghurt. Mixed in it were strawberries, cornflakes and mochi (rice cake).My disclaimer is : I don't like the taste of yoghurt... that sweet yet sour finish. BUT, my companions (and all the people that were lining up that night) all loved it! So much so that we're even thinking of starting our own frozen yoghurt joint.

green tea and original flavours with mochi, cornflakes and strawberries

Noggi (Strathfield)
2/2 Albert Road
NSW 2135
Tel: (02) 9737 8242

Monday, May 21, 2012

Micky's Cafe - Paddington

For a quick lunch around Paddington, hubby and I stopped by Micky's Cafe for a quick bite before catching a movie. There were quite a lot of people here, eating and chilling and munching away. It was quite a chillaxed atmosphere :)

We were both intrigued by their thickshakes hence we ordered one each. Hubby's large chocolate thickshake was TWICE the size of my regular chocolate brownie shake (and just like $1 extra or something). The chocolate thickshake was nice and thick and chocolatey with tiny little chocolate chips floating around the bottom of the glass. This looked and tasted quite similar to my chocolate brownie shake. The only difference is that the choc brownie shake tasted a bit 'cakey' as well. Both were really quite deliciousness :)
large chocolate thickshake
regular chocolate brownie thickshake
Food-wise, Micky's beef burger ($16.50) was the plate of choice for hubby. The burger came with a nice juicy slab of beef patty, thick slice of beetroot, some lettuce, a slice of tomato, onion and lots of yummy thick-cut chips. 
Micky's beef burger - $16.50
I craved breakfast and hence, I ordered the Sausages and Eggs ($15). I wanted my eggs poached and they came with two nicely toasted slices of bread, a blob of caramelised onions, 2 sausages and a heap of delicious creamed corn. The corn was probably the yummiest in the dish. It was sweet and buttery and awesome!!! 
Sausages and eggs - $15
This place was featured in the cheaps eat guide - they have these $10 meals on weekdays which look pretty good. The food and drink here wasn't bad. Not a bad place to chill out in the heart of Paddington.

Food - 7.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 28.5/40

Micky's Cafe
268 Oxford Street 
NSW 2021
Tel: (02) 9361 5157

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pho Saigon - Flemington

We've been trying to widen our pho-eating circle, trying to eat at different pho places instead of the ones we've tried and tested to be good. A new venture for us was at Pho Saigon in Flemington. Just before stepping into the restaurant, we bumped into a group of our friends who were just on their way out. They told us that they had a pretty satisfying lunch and particularly recommended the crispy skin chicken. Unfortunately, as we were creatures of habit, the normal pho was ordered, with an entree of spring rolls.

The spring rolls here had a relatively thicker pastry wrap. The filling was also less awesome tasting consisting mainly of finely mushed pork mince. The redeeming factor, however, was that it was crazily crunchy and deep-fried a perfect golden brown.

spring rolls
Hubby ordered his special beef noodle soup. There were plenty of slices of raw beef, beef tripe, beef tendon and beef balls.There was also plenty of onions to make the soup yummy and sweet. My pho was likewise rather yum. Loads of beef balls and silky smooth noodles and yummy soup. Mmm... I was starving and hence, smashed this.

special beef noodle soup

beef ball noodle soup
It wasn't a bad meal overall. The pho here is quite yummy but... probably our usual hood in Flemington is preferred.

Food - 7.5/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance- 6.5/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 28/40

Saigon Restaurant
90 The Crescent
Homebush West NSW 2140, Australia
Tel: (02) 9746 1692

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sushi Isshin (鮨一新) - Asakusa

This happened waaaay before we saw the film "Jiro dreams of sushi", but I've been going on for a while about how there's these awesome Japanese sushi restaurants where the chef serves you one nigiri sushi piece at a time in an 'omakase' type meal. This revelation met my hubby's closed ears until around a month ago, when he came across an awesome Youtube clip on the 'world's best sushi' and it talked about these sushi omakase (at Jiro) where edomae style sushi is served. Since then, all I had been hearing about from hubby is how we HAVE TO eat at one of these awesome places!

We managed (with the help of our friend's Japanese girlfriend) to book ourselves into two Michelin star restaurants which do sushi in the way my hubby was hoping. The first of the two that we experienced was Sushi Isshin in Asakusa. The place was located a little far from the main street in Asakusa, probably around a 15 minute walk from the nearest subway station. It's tucked away in the small streets which are lined with amazing looking Jap restaurants. Walking into this restaurant, no one really asked our names or if we had a reservation, they just assumed it was us turning up for the right time. This was odd... but it seems like the norm in Japan.

We were quickly seated at the sushi bar. The whole restaurant had around 10 bar seats and a small table tucked in the corner which may (or may not) seat 4. The chef talks to you and serves you personally. The 'talking' bit was a bit strained due to our language barrier but we managed to get the main points across (e.g. 'sushi' 'hai').

We fell into the option of the sushi omakase and with the help of a fellow diner who was sitting next to us (who happened to know a bit more English and also had this amazing sushi app), we eventually figured out what we were eating :) Below are the snapshots of the awesome sushi we were served that night. Soy sauce is lightly brushed on by the chef, so no extra soy sauce dippings allowed. Also, pros eat it in one bite (fish side down on the tongue) and with the fingers... hence, that's exactly how we enjoyed each piece :)
Kohada (spotted gizard shad) - the most popular edomae-style sushi in the kanto region
This fish was amazing in it's texture. I loved how the skin was so shiny and went down the throat really smooth. The taste was quite strong compared to other fish...almost a smokey feel but not quite... 

Makagore (marbled flounder) - really silky smooth
shirawo? (ice fish) - this wasn't too much to my liking. I think it was more stringy in nature.

Aji (horse mackeral) - this was my hubby's favourite. It was really smooth and the ginger and shallots added really good taste to it. For me, it tasted a bit like a really yummy piece of Hainan chicken rice :)

Kajiki (blue marlin) - this seemed to be lightly seared on the edges and ever so slightly marinated with something. The seared bits provided an interesting texture. 

Zuke (marinated tuna) - I believe that this is tuna which has been soaking in some sweet soy based marinade for ages. It results in a truely amazingly flavoursome and smooth slab of fish. Mmm

Otoro (fatty tuna belly) - This was my first experience of Otoro. When people say that it melts in your mouth and it's crazily flavoursome, believe it!

kuruma ebi (kuruma prawn) - according to our dining friend's sushi app, this type of prawn can grow up to 20 cm! It's crzay bit and quite tastey. The chef leaves in the huge line of orangey roe stuff for extra flavour.

Hamaguri (clam) - thicker soy sauce was brushed on. Tasted quite yummy :)

Anago (conger eel) - Yes, I normally don't eat eel (and I normally don't like rice) but being so intimate with the chef means that it would be rude to not eat something. So in my mouth the eel went... and... it wasn't too bad. Tasty, a bit mushy - i'm guessing that's how good eel is meant to taste coz my hubby loved it~

Clam soup with coriander - The clams tasted really yummy... the soup taste a bit sake-ish. We weren't sure if we were just meant to eat to clams or whether we were meant to drink the soup :)

 Kampyo maki (dried gourd sushi roll) - this was officially our last sushi for the night. The gourd vege was marinated in some sweet sauce, making it like a sweet finish for the night.

Bottarga (salted dried compressed roe) - The maki was meant to be our last dish, but as our fellow diner had the sushi & sashmi omakase and he was crazily enjoying and recommending the 'bottarga' grilled slice he was eating, the chef was nice enough to offer us a taste. I was too excited to taste it that I ate most of it before remembering that I had to take a photo! It was really really rich, salty, crumbly and tasted like the yolk of a preserved salted duck egg.

Our lovely chef for the night
 Our introduction to sushi omakase edomae style was amazing! Even though we couldn't talk to the chef as much as other patrons, he was always super nice, polite and smiley. We were expecting to drop 15000 Yen each for dinner (as that's what we had read on other sites) but to our surprise, our combined dinner was less than that price (must be because we got the sushi only omakase, without the sashimi)! Fist Pump Moment!

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 9/10
Ambiance - 8.5/10
Value for money - 9/10
Overall - 35/40

Sushi Isshin Asakusa
4-11-3 Asakusa,
Taito-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-5603-1108