Sunday, October 19, 2014

Izakaya Fujiyama, Surry Hills

So what does Domo-kun and Gundam have in common?? As you can see in the picture above, they love to hangout at Izakaya Fujiyama! I mean, why wouldn't you? They carry a great range of quality sake and the food is mind blowing! Since its 2011 launch and after reading reviews about them in various food blogs, I made it my mission to make it here one day.

Izakaya Fujiyama is located on Waterloo Street (near Devonshire Street) in Surry Hills. Izakayas are like pubs in Japan but more refined. Fujiyama is a drinking establishment that serves Japanese dishes designed to be shared. The foods are like bar snacks but more substantial than tapas. The venue is modern and sleek with wall shelving fit outs that display an amazing range of sake. There are tables for two, four and six. There's also a huge communal table in the middle of the restaurant. The food ranges from sashimi to kushiyaki (grilled meats). Chef Kenji is the man behind Fujiyama's magic.
We started with a classic Izakaya item, edamame ($5.50). It was nice, fresh and sprinkled with sea salt. The beans contained within the pods were sweet and tasty.
Sake - Tamagawa Muroka Nama - Genshu Yamahai
I also ordered a 'Tamagawa Muroka Nama' Genshu Yamahai sake ($11 - 110ml). It was very fruity with distinct notes of watermelon. It was 110ml of liquid happiness!
Kenji's Fried Chicken
We all agreed that we must order Kenji's Fried Chicken ($14.50). Chef Kenji's twist on the classic karaage chicken has delicate crunchy batter rather than usual doughy-crisped batter. The pieces of chicken were more chunky and super succulent. The housemade kewpie mayo was sweet, slightly tangy and creamy. Fried chicken plus sweet tangy kewpie equals a joyous moment.
Kingfish nuta with tortilla
The Kingfish nuta with tortilla ($16) was one of the best dishes I've ever had. Nuta is normally a side dish flavoured with sweet miso paste and scallions. Fujiyama's version uses kingfish sashimi with lime flavoured miso paste, scallions and chives. It had a nice silky texture with sweet citrus flavour and slightly gingery. There was also a nice bite from the chives & scallions. Spread this on the deep fried tortillas to take the nuta experience to the next level.
Teriyaki beef rib
The Teriyaki beef rib ($29.50) was straight up tender, juicy and sticky. The teriyaki masterstock glaze was sweet and syrupy. The jalapeƱo relish adds a hint of smoky and sweet nutty flavour. In short, it's mouth rockin' awesome!
Zucchini flower tempura
The deep fried zucchini flower tempuras were a definite delight! It was stuffed with a cheesy filling and the pieces of sweet blood orange were nice to cut through the rich fried goodness.
Crispy pork belly with yuzu kosho
Then came the crispy pork belly with yuzu kosho ($26.50). Our eyes were all wide open in excitement at the sight of the chunky pieces of pork. All hail! The glorious tiles of crackling that was super crisped and perfectly seasoned. The meat itself was succulent, tender and nicely sprinkled with sea salt and pepper. The yuzu kosho (chilli pepper) paste gives a nice balance and heat to the fatty flavoursome pork .
Fujiyama snickers
I was swept away by the plate of Fujiyama snickers ($13.50). It was like a deconstucted snickers bar. It had peanut butter cake, salted caramel ice cream, chocolate custard, a dollop of yuzu custard and peanuts. It was mind blowing! The citrus component brought by the yuzu custard and salted caramel ice cream was a genius twist. This dessert was an awesome homage to the classic snickers bar that's loved by many.
I now see why they have received raves from many food lovers and members of the Sydney Japanese community (including ramen master Chef Mori Higashida) that frequent here. The service is superb, sake selection is wide, and the twists on Izakaya food are brilliant. I am now a big fan of Izakaya Fujiyama.

Izakaya Fujiyama
Shop G09, 38-52 Waterloo Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010

Opening hours:
Monday to Wednesday 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Thursday to Saturday from 6pm until late.

Izakaya Fujiyama on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Night Noodle Markets 2014, Sydney

October is a significant month for food lovers in Sydney. Good Food Month has food related events throughout the whole month spread across Sydney. One of the most popular events visited by many is the Night Noodle Markets at Hyde Park.

The Night Noodle Markets is a massive outdoor festival with an Asian hawker theme. It's back and bigger with about 50 stalls this year (20 more stalls than last year). This includes 2 famous Melbourne stalls: Wonderbao and Hoy Pinoy. It feels like this festival gets better every year. It's the vibe and food that makes this festival so special. Chocolatesuze decided to gather up the food blogging troops to seize the liveliness of the opening night! Here's a snapshot of what went down:

Soy vinegar dipping sauce

My homie iFat and I sprinted over to Hoy Pinoy's stall as soon as the awesome Cooking Crusade told us that they have joined the event this year. She said to follow the smoke and that smoke lead us to them indeed. The sight and enticing smoky scent of the Filipino style BBQ setup was very nostalgic. Happy memories as a kid started running through my head.
Pork belly bbq skewers with rice and atchara

Anyhow, we tried both their pork belly skewer and chicken inasal. It was 2 skewers for $10 plus $3 for extra rice and atchara (pickled unripe papaya). The pork belly was definitely legit when it comes to the flavour. The glazed marinade had sweet notes from banana ketchup, smoky with hints of soy and garlic. Although we would normally use pork neck, the pork belly twist provides extra juiciness.
Chicken inasal bbq skewers

Chicken inasal traditionally uses boned chicken, but their twist of using chicken thigh fillets makes it more convenient to eat. It was a tiny bit sweet with notes of vinegar, soy and garlic.

Pork belly gua baos
Everyone was super excited to know that Wonderbao was taking part this year. Back in the Melbourne laneways, they are best known for their dumplings. Ever since my visit at their Melbourne shop, I already had my heart set on the pork belly gua baos ($7 each). This has gotta be my favourite gua baos ever! The pillowy soft half moon steamed buns were filled with masterstock braised pork belly. The pork had an amazing sweet caramelised flavour and was insanely tender. It worked perfectly with the other fillings, which includes pickled mustard, corriander, sweet soy and crushed peanuts.
Phuc King Tasty pot luck pie

I didn't get the chance to try any of Gelato Messina's Asian-themed desserts. The lovely Citrus Candy had her priorities right by going dessert first and scored an item from them that night. She gives the pot luck pie from Gelato Messina's Lucky Fortune Bar a thumbs up. It was the Phuc King Tasty pot luck pie ($9), which consists of a cinnamon scroll topped with coffee gelato, condensed milk pannacotta, walnut crunch and Asian spiced cookie.

Seafood char kway teow (CKT)
Last but not least is Sydney's queen of Malaysian cooking; Jackie M. Amongst her popular items is her signature Char Kway Teow ($18). This rice noodle dish was amazing as usual. I had the seafood version, which had prawns, cockles and squid. It was vibrant with presence of wok hei and caramelised bits. This is one dish you can't go wrong with when visiting her stall.

With new players in the scene, curiosity arises and queues get longer. So the earlier you can get there, the better! I suggest starting up with all the joints I mentioned above as they had the longest queues that night.

Night Noodle Markets
Hyde Park,
Sydney NSW

October 10 - 26, 2014

Monday to Tuesday 5pm – 9pm
Wednesday 5pm – 10pm
Thursday - Fri 5pm – 11pm
Saturday 4pm-10pm
Sunday 4pm – 9pm

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Central Roasters, Sydney CBD

I just really dig the whole laneway cafe thang. It could be the hipster subculture vibe or the fact that it reminds me of Melbourne a lot. Either way, there's an undeniable cool factor to it. But it's not all about vibe. They gotta get the coffee part right. Central Roasters got those two things covered.

They have been operating on Central Lane (near corner Pitt Street) for around 5 months now.  They are both a roaster and specialty coffee shop. Their space has that Melbourne laneway cafe feel and the friendly service is felt as soon as you enter the premises. The coffee aroma in the air along with the display of pastries (including brewnuts from Brewtown) was more than enough to draw me in.

Glazed brewnut

I'm so predictable when it comes to brewnuts. Soon as I saw the pastry cabinet, my eyes were set on the glazed brewnuts ($4.50).
Piccolo latte
I tried their house blend as a piccolo latte ($3). It almost tasted like they used double ristretto when it was in actual fact only a single espresso shot. It started out with rich notes of chocolate then around midway to finish, it got fruity with balanced acidity. It's one of the best piccolo lattes I've had recently.
Filter coffee - Kenya 
I've got so much respect for baristas who can bring out the actual flavour profile of single origin beans. I had Kenya coffee roasted by Paramount Coffee Project for pour over filter ($4). It was straight up awesome! It had nice acidity with notes of cola and fruity black currant at the back of the palate.

I'm really glad to see more specialty roasters and coffee shops like Central Roasters making a solid Third Wave Coffee culture mark in the CBD. I also love the fact they are just a short walk from Town Hall station. Watch out for their second shop, which is opening in Haymarket/Ultimo area soon.

Central Roasters
Shop 4,
Central Lane (Near corner Pitt Street and Central Lane)
Sydney NSW 2000

Trading hours:
Monday to Friday 6:30am-4:00pm