Eating Wontons & Watching the Grass Grow.

May 2, 2011 § 5 Comments

I have great news! The porch is ready!

Anyone that knows me will freely admit that I have a habit of creating jobs for myself. Not only is our kitchen table covered in To-Do-Lists for immediate jobs, but also to-do-lists for longer term jobs and to-do-lists for backup jobs that I could do if I ran out of jobs. Needless to say, I don’t understand free time.

For some reason I thought that the move to America would teach me to chill out a bit more. Perhaps even sit back and smell the roses. But then I realised – we had no roses to smell. Unfortunately for NB, this was the beginning of the end for our free weekends and not until two months later was the garden deemed finished.

Alas, this is not all. As I was standing outside in the early morning light, admiring our handy work and whispering sweet nothings to our darling little seedlings, I was struck by how grubby the back porch appeared in comparison. Oh dear.  At this stage NB threw up his hands in despair and retreated to the safety of Family Guy reruns, and to be honest I can hardly blame him. Fortunately for me FoodieFresh was happy to don her painting shorts and a few weekends ago we made  5 hours of serious progress.

It was somewhere around here that the project stagnated. Admittedly the state was being ravaged by terrible storms, of which we were getting the tail end, and we were also busy with various eating engagements, but to be honest I think I had just run out of steam.

Saturday arrived and I was busy in the kitchen preparing for a little dinner soiree that night. We had some friends coming over who had lived in Sydney when we were there (they only returned to America a few months before we did) and NB and I thought it would be a good idea to relive the Thai scene that is so dominant back home. Lost as I was in marinating ribs, grating ginger and folding dumplings, that is was a couple of hours before I realised that I hadn’t heard a peep out of NB!

With a trail of shredded cabbage falling behind me, I went searching.

And wouldn’t you know it, there he was out on the porch finishing the painting. Hurrah!!

Ace of Spade’s delicious butter biscuit shortbread with strawberries and cream

That night, as I chinked my prosecco glass with our guests, I made a little promise to myself that next weekend we would relax…Do you believe me?

Sticky Asian Spare Ribs (the style that an Aussie girl can be proud to present in the South)

Serves 4.

1.5kg (3 1/4 lb), or 16 American-style  pork spare ribs

Marinade:

3/4 cup hoisin sauce

2 tbl grated ginger

1/3 cup soy sauce

3 tsp sesame oil

1/2 cup Chinese rice wine

2 tsp Chinese five spice powder

2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch chilli flakes and a squeeze of lime.

Bring a large crockpot of water to the boil and blanch ribs, rinsing and refreshing under cold water.

Mix marinade together in a large ceramic baking dish and toss ribs to coat. Cover and allow to marinate for 4+ hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 160C/ 280F and remove ribs from fridge, allowing to return to room temperature.

Leaving the baking dish covered with foil, cook ribs for 3 hours or until meat begins to flake off bone. Remove from oven and stand, covered, for 15-20 minutes.

For thicker sauce, drain some of the sauce from the baking dish into a saucepan and bring to the boil, whisking constantly until thick.

Serve with steamed rice.

Miss Chu – Rice Paper Queen: Darlinghurst

January 5, 2011 § 8 Comments

When I decided to move to the other side of the world I didn’t fully grasp the amount of effort it would take! In hindsight, packing up my life and moving during the Christmas/New Year/ Summer Party season was not my finest thought! Somehow I have been trying to organise myself in between sipping cocktails, cooking BBQs and catching a few summer rays before the Northern winter. Through all this I’ve found that it’s the little things that take the longest amount of time, like choosing which novels I have to leave behind or remembering to change the address for my FlyBuys card (which reminds me…!)

But it’s really the last minute eating that is stressing me out! NB and I have nibbled (and gorged) our way through some amazing Sydney eats, but I’m still feeling weighed down (pardon the pun) with that – oh we should have gone there! – feeling.

These thoughts have seen us diligently crossing off a few extra locals over the past few days. Grill’d served up some top-notch steak sandwiches, herbed chips and vege burgers. While Sushi Yachiyo outshone its reviews with the nicest edamame I’ve had in Sydney, as well as hot fried agedashi tofu, melt in the mouth wagyu cheek, light and crunchy tempura, pork-filled gyoza (we were obviously on a health binge that day!) and a neat plate of nigiri sashimi.

The Delivery Vehicle! You ling, I bling!!

It’s time like these that also require you to pop in to Messina for an afternoon scoop of choc-mint gelato or get a tub of WowCow frozen yoghurt with crushed almonds and M&Ms for the walk down William St. Or you might find yourself ordering ‘The Inferno’ from Danny’s La Bussola Pizza even though it’s Tuesday night and only days after a New Year’s resolution of healthy eating…(actually the resolution was to use less technology. Fail.)

AsI leave Sydney on Saturday and head back home for my last two weeks in Aussie-land I decided to spend today chilling out at the beach packing, something that tends to leave me hot and bothered. Now picture this, it’s midday, you have two days left in Sydney and should be hanging with the cool kids but instead you find yourself sitting on the floor in a room surrounded by clothes, books, hairdryers, handbags, skipping ropes and gym mats. It’s simply a recipe for disaster (like that time I forgot to put the caster sugar in the orange and poppyseed cake – & I’m not even lying!) Enter NB and the grand suggestion that we take a wander down William St to eat lunch at Miss chu – Rice Paper Queen (which had moved to the top of the must-try list ).

 

Super cute packaging!

I want to sound like Usher when I say “oh oh oh oh oh oh ohhhmygod”

 

Duck Pancake $2.20

We lined up at the tuckshop and our food came ready in a paper bag and cute little boxes. I just love the packaging!

 

The Fresh Spring Rolls with Duck & Banana Flower ($8 for 2)

We ordered 2 lots of steamed dumplings, the Shanghai pork were my favourite although the Asian vegetable with garlic chives were also nice,  a duck pancake that received great reviews from NB, a pork char sui bun (not normally my thing with all the dough but this was pretty darn tasty! Just like pork stew in soft bread) and a serve of duck and banana flower fresh spring rolls (from which they get their namesake). The fresh spring rolls were so packed full of herby goodies, not just the obligatory noodle, although you definitely need the dipping sauce for that added flavour hit. But I loved that they made me feel incredibly healthy and self-satisfied! Add to this two bottles of water and it still comes to a total under $30 (you can’t get two sandwiches in Sydney for that price anymore!) .

 

Pork Steamed Dumplings $5 for 3

 

Parting words?

Why oh Why did we not try this place before?!?!

Tetsuyas.

December 21, 2010 § 7 Comments

When was the last time you were truly spoilt? For me it was Wednesday, December 8, when the amazing NB took me to dinner at Tetsuyas.

I remember receiving my first subscription to delicious. magazine in 2004 when I was fifteen years old. It was around this time that degustation had become the new black, Tetsuyas was on fire and I was sitting at home in a small country town bemoaning the fact that I would never experience a romantic dinner at this great institution. I’m sure many of you can empathise! So when NB told me that there was no way we’re leaving Australia without going to Tetsuyas first…it was a dream come true!

Here is a quick run down of the day:

  • 6:00 AM teach pilates in Alexandria where I share excited gossip with Fit-Mama-Chef who had recently visited Tetsuyas for her birthday. I now understand why her eyes glazed over with mention of ocean trout confit!
  • 10:30 AM have a session with my PT who kills me with compound-weight exercises and then suggests that the best remedy for aching triceps is dinner at Tetsuyas (and possibly an epsom salt bath!)
  • Midday Meet AB for a coconut water and a handful of nuts – I’m trying to save my appetite. We spend a few hours lolling around down at Bondi (ps – how civilised is my life sounding right now?!!?)
  • 2pm Decide I really need to eat something lest I collapse and decide to head home for a bowl of peas and a white peach. I then lay on the carpet and read every site that mentioned Tetsuyas
  • 4pm Begin the ‘Princessification’ process
  • 6pm…still fiddling around with hair and nails and dresses and realise I am running late to get the bus
  • Meet NB at Town Hall and we walk to Kent St
  • 7:30pm Enter Tetsuyas with two door men, a maitre d, and a fourth waiter to show us to our seats
  • *gasp**squeal**giggle**sigh*

And then it began. Fleur was our waitress for the run down of the menu and our go-to-girl should there be any problems. She kept an eye on our drinks waiter, refilled our bread and checked to make sure the pace of the food was enjoyable (it was). When she sat us she asked if we were there on an occasion – umm yeah – the occasion is that my boyfriend’s awesome! Then we had a waiter to top up our water glasses and take our wine orders and another to bring the food to the table.

The ten-course degustation is $210 pp and there is an option for matching wines at $95 pp but after speaking with Fit Mama Chef, who found herself a bit giggly around the fifth course, and reminding myself that I had to be in the gym at 6:30 the next morning, we decided to order drinks as we went. The wine list is an absolute tome, I’m sure it’s one of the finest in Sydney, and it was a tough decision that led me to a Viognier from the Adelaide Hills. NB tried a couple of different beers.

The place is incredible, broken up into three or four (or five?!) dining rooms that felt, like NB said, as though you were eating in someone’s rather fancy home rather than a restaurant. In the room we were seated there were 11 tables, so you had plenty of private space to whisper sweet-nothings or whatever it is people do on such occasions…The glass wall looks onto Tetsuyas Japanese garden with a real-life sized waterfall and a pond that I imagined would be full of golden carp. As the evening darkened and little white lights twinkled outside, I felt as though we were in a fairytale.

The presentation of the food was second to none – a dust of celery here, a swipe of avocado soup there, a sprouting of sea cucumber. While I wish I had photos to share it just didn’t seem like the appropriate thing to do. So instead I’ll write out the menu and let your imagination run wild! Any last words?

Oh My God.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Sheep Yoghurt Ice Cream

~

Sashimi of Kingfish with Blackbean & Orange

Marinated NZ Scampi with Avocado Soup & Avruga

Confit Petuna Ocean Trout with Konbu, Celery & Apple

Fillet of Mulloway with Asparagus & Pil Pil

~

Braised Ox Tail with Sea Cucumber & Yuzu

Pancetta Wrapped Quail Breast with Fresh Sprouts & Onion

Seared Veal Fillet with Sea Urchin and Wasabi Butter

~

Blood Orange Sorbet and Summer Pudding

Golden Peach with Peach Granita

Chocolate Pavé with Cream Cheese Ice Cream & Cinnamon Twigs

Chai Mochi

Noodle Markets, Yum Cha and Zilver, Haymarket.

November 4, 2010 § 6 Comments

I once said that, if I were a parent, then DOCS would come after me with the way I’ve neglected the Strawberry Patch. Since that day I vowed to stay committed, even when uni and all the rest of it threaten to devour my last speck of free time like NB would devour a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But the past two weeks have been a bit manic, I have seven days left of my university career and choosing to blog instead of write, record and edit a radio documentary, present an advertising campaign and conjure a 3000 word creative response to the bush trope from the depths of my exhausted brain didn’t seem like the smartest idea at this stage of the game.

 

 

During the mania there have been a couple of cheese toast nights, a couple of burnt cheese toast nights, a couple of emotional breakdown nights and a couple of dumpling nights. The former aren’t of much interest (note – closing the oven door when the grill is melting your cheese will set off smoke alarms from the kitchen to the living room as soon as you reopen the door). But the latter was quite a delicious excursion into the world of Asian morsels.

It all started a couple of weeks ago during the Crave Sydney Night Noodle Markets when NB and I fronted up on a cold, blustery Tuesday night to sample prawn dumplings, beef rendang and nasi goreng. We smiled at the dancing dragon, perved on other people’s plates and commented on the lack of actual noodle dishes amid okonomiyaki, chicken satay, san choy bau and tandoori.

 

 

 

Then, the following Sunday my oriental experience continued with a girl excursion to the Chinese Gardens to dress up in princess costumes and then head on to Yum Cha for a late brunch.

 

 

This was actually my first yum cha experience, if you can believe it, even after living in Sydney for three years! I’ve always had a love affair with the simple dumpling, its silky casing, plump, moist filling, and interesting accompaniments and sauces make me far happier than they should. I like being able to go and buy a single dumpling as a late afternoon pick-me-up  from the stalls at Bondi Junction’s Saturday food markets, yet I’ve never rallied the troops and made a meal out of it.

 

So after we had had enough of posing as Chinese princesses, it was time to return kimonos and put the Yum back in the Cha. We went to Zilver, Haymarket (477 Pitt Street) an enormous three room space that still required a 25 minute waiting list to seat all the hungry patrons.

Once inside though the carts come up beside you as fast as a hyperactive sibling in a dodgem car. Get ready for fast decisions, this is thinking on your feet in a foreign language kind of dining.

Yes prawn steamed dumplings.

Yes weird looking spongey vegetable.

No thankyou chicken feet (not my choice, I wanted to try them).

Despite a continuous misunderstanding regarding jugs of water, the service was really on the ball and the food was pretty top notch – think seafood inspired dumplings and mango/cream filled rolls that make you want to use adjectives like velvety, sumptuous and plump. Our favourite dish was a plate of plain noodles dressed in a sticky peanut/oyster kind of sauce.

We left feeling rotund, content and, for less than $20 a head, not bankrupt. Now that’s my kind of eating.

 

Yum (cha!!)

iiza, Newtown

July 6, 2010 § 2 Comments

My friend DM hosts THE best dinner parties – they are stylish, laid back delicious affairs with an abundance of candles, strategically placed cheese platters, fabulous conversation and, if you’re lucky, even a costume change by the host! The most recent soiree was centered around a giant pot of Persian chicken with Israeli couscous, a recipe he was given by one of the customers at his cafe. It was here, while sipping a glass of riesling, that I made friends with a fellow Nippon-addict. The following is an excerpt from #58 in Stuff White People Like – Japan

If you find yourself in an awkward silence with white people, just mention how you want to go to Japan.  They will immediately begin talking about how their trip to Japan, or their favorite stuff from Japan, but it will be entirely about them.  This is useful as you no longer have to talk, and they will like you for letting them talk about themselves.

I’m sorry Christian Lander but I have fallen into the trap. I love Japan, I love eating Japanese food and ever since I spent time visiting Japan I have found it necessary to make comments like: “This is good but I was spoilt by the food I experienced in Japan.”

I. Like. White. People. Stuff.

But I’m glad the conversation turned to Asia as not only did I make a new friend and fellow foodie, but we organised a date to iiza, a relatively new Japanese restaurant on King St, Newtown.

Deeply rooted in the Japanese culture, izakaya’s are one of the most traditional and popular eating establishments in Japan. Evolved from the rustic, lively eateries of old they offer a casual, vibrant and friendly atmosphere for locals to eat, drink, chat and relax at the end of the day. To the Japanese, they are much more than just a place to eat and drink. They are part of their culture and lifestyle.

We arrived just after 7:30 on a very cold Tuesday night, lucking upon a nearby car space and shuffling our way into the eatery. You are immediately hit with a sense of pared back authenticity and a lack of kitsch that often adorns the walls of many Thai, Indian and Japanese restaurants. We were seated at the back of the smallish space, near the kitchen where it was toasty warm, and watched as the room quickly filled with diners. One of our party had brought a bottle of wine so we were glad to see BYO was available, with $2 corkage pp (pretty reasonable considering the extensive list of sake, wines and beers that iiza offer).

Apart from AB and myself, the rest of our party had eaten here before and suggested we order a selection to graze and share, and we can order more as we go if necessary. Meltingly soft Agedashi Tofu 揚げ出し豆腐 ($7.50), Yakitori Skewers 焼き鳥 ($6.80) and Grilled Scallops 焼き帆立 ($9.50) had apparently hit the spot the first time round and were considered for re-selection. The menu isn’t enormous but long enough – and delicious enough – to cause hesitation, so we had finished our first bottle of white with still no decisions made. It was time to stop dallying and get to business. What we ordered for starters:

  • The Tofu
  • Wagyu Beef Tataki 牛のタタキ ($9.80)
  • Nasu Dengaku   なす田楽 (Sliced eggplant topped with Japanese Dengaku miso) ($8)

What we loved:

  • The Tofu
  • Wagyu Beef Tataki 牛のタタキ ($9.80)
  • Nasu Dengaku  なす田楽 (Sliced eggplant topped with Japanese Dengaku miso) ($8)

This food tastes, I’m going to say it, just like what I ate in Japan. Sadly there was only enough for the five of us to have one piece of everything …I could have devoured the lot!

The tofu was gooey on the outside, like toffee that had been left too long in the sun, nestling the white whey of bean curd within it’s sticky grasp. It was cooked perfectly, the sensation was warm and soft, and the accompanying dashi sauce perfectly complemented the delicate tofu.

Next up was beef tataki, sweet and sour hits with melt in your mouth wagyu slices. It received a thumbs up from AB, who isn’t a major meat eater. The miso sauce on the eggplant was also a star, favourably strong against the absorbing vegetable, and the dish was soon gone.

A strange arrival was the Tuna Sashimi Taco サシミタコス ($15 for 5 pieces), diced tuna sashimi in fried wonton cups with tomato salsa. I’m still umming about this one – I don’t know if I like my raw fish on fried crackers – but the others thought it went down a treat. I wanted to try Aburi Sashimi  炙り刺身 – flame seared sashimi topped with Saikyo miso dressing & dried garlic miso. Next time.

Another glass of plum wine and we are on to mains, conversation circling about the best places to eat and suburb snobbery.

I had read John Bek describe eating the crispy soft shell crab as a “truly zen moment” and new I had to have it – somewhere, anywhere, during the dinner. We decided on a Spider Roll   スパイダーロール ($14.50) – with soft shell crab and seasoned daikon radish and this was amazing, although it almost seems wasteful to hide the crab in the rice. I wished we had ordered another!

Next came a Karage Chicken から揚げ ($15), apparently a must have, and I’m glad that we did have. Somehow we got on to the topic of KFC and the fact that I had never tried their popcorn chicken. The verdict? If I loved the light crisp outside and meaty breast filling of this karage, then best steer clear of the Colonel for ever!

Last time the others had tried the Kakuni Pork Belly   豚角煮 ($19) and highly recommended it, but we thought we should venture into unmapped territory, such as the Gyu-suji Nikomi  牛スジ煮込み ($19) – a wagyu miso hot-pot. The flavours are rich, the meat is stewy and the whole warming concotion was the perfect order for that cold winter night…although I still marvel at the three slices of garlic bread on the side.

We finished with Teriyaki Salmon  照焼きサーモン ($22) with rice and ummed and ahhed about ordering more (later that night when I was in my kitchen eating cereal I wish that we had!) But it’s nice to save some surprises for next time, gyoza shaped surprises, green-tea soba noodle salad shaped surprises and a ribbon of pork belly! Oh how I love the anticipation of eating!



Cooking Grilled Vietnamese Fish and Eating at Red Lantern Vietnamese

June 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

Thomas H. Palmer first said, “if at first you don’t succeed try, try again” to encourage American schoolchildren with their homework. Well, feeling somewhat like a child myself this week by only drinking milk that had been disguised with vanilla flavouring, I have now found a soy milk that I like! Persistence pays off it seems! The champion of my kitchen is So Good Lite Soy, which actually tastes pretty close to real milk when it’s cold (but something changes in the taste when it’s heated and I still don’t like it in my tea). What a breakthrough for the week!

I have also found a recipe for almond milk which I will try over the next couple of days, I bought my big bag of almonds yesterday, it’s not cheap to make but per litre the drink is $5.50 so I may as well try my own! Will keep you posted on how it goes!

On Thursday night I cooked a divine Vietnamese dish using coconut milk – the recipe called for coconut cream but Dairy Free For Dummies warned that coconut cream often contains milk solids, and while the ingredients in a jar of Ayam coconut cream seemed fine (coconut kernel extract, water, vegetable gum) I still used lite coconut milk.

Here is the recipe:

Cha ca (Vietnamese grilled fish)

In a food processor: 3 garlic cloves (chopped), 5 cm piece ginger (peeled, chopped), 3 long red chillies (chopped), 2 tbs fish sauce, 2 tsp ground tumeric, 1/2 red onion (thinly sliced) – blend all with 2 tbs water to form a smooth paste.

Heat 2 tbs sunflower oil over medium heat, fry the other half of the red onion (thinly sliced). When soft and slightly golden, add 1/2 cup chopped dill and paste, then simmer, stirring occassionally for 10 minutes.

Add 400ml coconut milk, and simmer for 18-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened and reduced by a third. Stand at room temperature for an hour or chill on fridge overnight to allow flavours to develop (I didn’t do this and it was still fine!)

Heat paste (if you let it stand) and add 600g ling (or other skinless white fish fillets) – cut into 3cm cubes. (I had chicken thighs in the freezer and used them instead, worked well). Coat meat with sauce and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes. Squeeze the juice of 2 limes and stir through. (Here I added a handful of snow peas, 1 thinly sliced red capsicum and 1 head broccoli that I had partially cooked in the microwave).

Serve with 200g rice vermicelli noodles or brown rice (1 cup uncooked rice = 4 serves) and mint sprigs, coriander, thinly sliced red chilli, chopped peanuts.

Coconut milk chicken with brown rice - Dairy Free

On the Vietnamese theme, NB and I ate at Red Lantern on Crown St last night, somewhere I had been dying to try for ages! And I’ll admit that I did fall off the band wagon and knowingly ordered dishes that contained dairy…Sorry! I’ll add another two days on the end of my DF week to make up for it!

On the plus side, the dinner was fantastic! I am a huge fan of Vietnamese, the flavours are so fresh and clean, and this place was a real stand out. Fortunately we were able to get a table straight away when we arrived at 8:30, last time we tried to go the wait was going to be over 90 minutes. The waitstaff were friendly and efficient and it didn’t take long to decide what to eat.

We started with fresh rice paper rolls with duck and enoki mushroom and a couple of triple 3 beers. Unfortunately for NB they didn’t have soup, although the waiter said everyone had been asking so maybe they’ll make some changes for the winter. We  also missed out on the last of the scrumptious looking specials, but not to worry, it’s just another excuse to go back.

In the end we ended up with masses of food in three dishes:

  • Ga Chien Don (crisp skinned pasture raised chicken)  – oh my goodness, that skin, there had to be butter involved in getting it that crispy!
  • Bo Luc Lac (cubed pasture fed Black Angus sirloin tossed in a flaming wok with garlic butter and sesame),
  • Rau Cai Xao Lang (organic seasonal wok fried vegetables with rice noodles), which impressed NB – fried rice connoisseur – more than he was expecting!

I also had one of their signature cocktails, with blended lychee and soursop – amazing – and nicer than the lychee cocktail that I tried from Longrain. Also, I saw that if you go with a group of four or more you can order a fantastic looking tasting menu for $55 a head. Overall, highly recommended!

Uchi Lounge – Japanese satisfies a dairy free diet

June 9, 2010 § 1 Comment

Day Three

Well I’m on day three and still going strong…my friends questioned my ability to ‘stay off the milk’ as it were, but so far so good. The only problem is the new addiction of vanilla flavoured milk on my cereal – that just can’t be good for you!

Last night NB and I went to Uchi Lounge, a little Japanese restaurant tucked away on Brisbane Street in Surry Hills, which had been highly recommended by one of our friends. I figured that any soy/tofu based week was the perfect opportunity to indulge in some Japanese cuisine.

A night without rain, can you even imagine?! – For those of you not in Sydney it has been raining nearly constantly here for the past month – But just in case the weather planned to change I decided to drive to the restaurant so I can let you know that there is nearby parking, although you may have to drive around for a while to find a spot. (After 7pm the parking meters will only cost about $5 and be sure to check Commonwealth St and some of the little alleys…or Liverpool St at a stretch).

Reviews about this place are mixed, a lot of diners have commented on the dishes being ‘uninspired’, while others think it’s the perfect place to go for a first date (perhaps their idea of a first date is somewhat underwhelming in itself?!). The best reviews have been of the downstairs bar with it’s massive list of Sake, which we didn’t try but maybe that’s the drawcard.

Upstairs in the restaurant there was only one other table occupied, two men finishing up their post-work dinner. It’s always awkward when there are more restaurant staff than diners, for the four of us eating there was also a waitress, a girl behind the bar and two men in the kitchen. We should have all sat down together and relaxed over glasses of Sapporo, on tap.

The lack of diners, which will usually affect the feel of the place, actually didn’t dampen the ambience. The room was dimly lit but not unmanageably dark in the trend of many Sydney restaurants, decorated with the certain minimalism that feels appropriate for Japanese eateries. The chairs were comfortable, another tick, although we kept running out of room on our small table. However the staff weren’t exactly exuding warmth, the one waitress asked if we were ready to order while I was obviously still reading the menu and then tried to take away our plate of gyoza when there was still one left. I later heard her discussing the desserts with the men next to us and, upon asking for her recommendations, said she had only tried one of the dishes and wouldn’t know what the chef would recommend but maybe the apples would be manageable. I hope they would be manageable if they are on the menu.

We started with gyoza and edamame (getting my soy/calcium and vitamin B hit!). The food came out straight away, which is a questionable sign in itself I think, and the gyoza were filled with a fluffed tofu but they were cold on the inside and really had no flavour, we ended up dunking them in bowls of soy sauce. The edamame were also cold, I think taken straight out of the fridge, and again we couldn’t really taste the salt covering.

Gyoza

Wagyu and potato casserole. Not much to look at but full of flavour!

Sashimi platter

Mains were much better. We ordered a wagyu and potato casserole (an interesting word to see on a Japanese restaurant, it’s really more a hotpot/steamboat type meal). This was lovely. Really thin strips of melt in your mouth beef with thick slices of potato, although more meat and less spud would have been even better. The broth was extremely drinkable, there’s a certain taste that I’m yet to pinpoint, which takes me back to spending time in Japan, eating Udon at a Samurai theme park in the mountains of Nikko. We also had a beautiful sashimi platter – scallops, tuna, salmon, kingfish – which tasted sliced fresh to serve, not chilled. And yes, that is a giant rock and a giant shell on your plate.

Overall, the presentation gets a tick, the service not so much, and the food goes both ways, it might be the luck of what your order on the night, although I would happily recommend the wagyu and sashimi without feeling that I may jeopardise my reputation as a foodie!

Saying that, I probably wouldn’t go back to this place, it’s not exactly cheap, and while I’m happy to pay for quality I think Uchi Lounge is a little too hit and miss to spend $90.

Back home I had a cup of cocoa (yes made on vanilla soy) and a scoop of So Good Chocolate Bliss (ice cream substitute!). Pretty delicious with new season pears!

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