Friday, January 25, 2019

Ichibandori Japanese Restaurant - Neutral Bay

Neutral Bay is known as Sydney’s Japanese central and is also one of my favourite suburbs for obvious reasons. Many Sydneysiders will be familiar with renowned sushi chef Tomoyuki Matsuya (ex Hana-jurin). Tomo-san recently took over a Japanese bistro on Military Road called Ichibandori (which means “No.1 Chicken” in Japanese).

This cozy bistro showcases Japanese izakaya-style sharing dishes, to sashimi, robatayaki (grilled dishes) and ramen! The ramen side will be mainly looked after by none other than ramen master Hide Suzuki (ex head chef of Manpuku ramen). One little tip, the shop entrance is actually on Ben Boyd Road (between Military and Cheal Lane).

The kingfish carpaccio ($21) was absolutely beautiful. Fresh kingfish sashimi dressed with a light soy based sauce with sweet, tangy and umami notes.

The gyozas ($9) were perfectly seasoned with that caramelised crust that we all love. The filling was juicy and flavoursome with hints of ginger.

During one of their soft opening days, I got to try their massive bowl of Asari clams shio ramen. This was probably the most refined bowl of ramen that I’ve had in Sydney to date. It was legit! The bowl was priced at $25, which in my honest opinion is a bit pricey for a bowl of ramen. But, the price is justified by the premium toppings and ingredients that went into it. Thin modern Tokyo style noodles cooked yawarakame or soft to match the light chintan chicken and pork broth. The broth had so much complexity and umami for a light broth. That’s thanks to a shio tare seasoning that consists of over 14 secret ingredients to give it depth. There’s also smoky and umami notes from the toppings: clams and robata vegetables (various mushrooms and broccolini). I loved the crunch from the grilled matsutake mushroom. If that’s not enough to make it premium, it’s also topped with Pepe Saya butter and a spritz of sake to finish it off. Let’s not forget the premium roasted nori, menma and the most perfect flavoursome ajitsuke tamago (yolk was slightly runny, just the way I like it).

The Ramen Ichibandori sessions will be a partnership between Tomo-san and Hide-san. They will start doing ramen on a daily basis (except Sunday & public holidays) from 9pm (yes, that’s supper) till late starting from the 6th of February 2019. Customers will
be ablen choose from 2 or more types of ramen every night.

I expected nothing less from two of Sydney’s best Japanese chefs. I’m already planning my next visit which is hopefully in the next few days.

Ichibandori Robata and Ichibandori Ramen
4/81-91 Military Road
Neutral Bay NSW
6pm till late Mon-Saturday (please check their instagram accounts for more updates)

Ichibandori Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Mingles Restaurant - Apgujeong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea

One of the best meals I’ve had in my life was in Seoul, South Korea. What’s even better is that in Seoul, you can do progressive lunches at Michellin restaurants at a reasonable price. In this post, I’m referring to Mingles Restaurant. It’s a restaurant that’s positioned at number 11 in Asia’s 50 best restaurants as of 2018. It has also been voted as Korea’s best restaurant for 3 consecutive years.

Mingles is also located in the upmarket area of Apgujeong and is not far from another Michelin star restaurant, Jungsik. The interior and vibe of the space is both warm and hip without any pretention even in their service. The name Mingles comes from the “mingling” or fusion of cooking styles/flavours from European, Korean and Japanese cuisine. Head chef Mingoo Kang is said to have worked at Nobu and also trained under renowned chef Martin Berasategui. The menu is seasonal and it changes every few weeks so dishes in the post may not be available at the time of your visit. We opted for their 7 course lunch (we ordered different dishes on some of the courses), which was ₩85,000 per person at the time.

It was love at first taste for me with their Amuse bouche. It’s Mingle’s egg custard with sansho pepper dish (still available). The beautiful silky custard had garlic, smoky and peppery citrus notes.

Squid carpacio dressed with fish roe.

Fruits appetiser with seasonal seafood and pinenut sauce.

We also had a Korean Cabbage Seon which had abalone on cabbage, cabbage consomme and rice cake (still available). It was delicate and simple but it had so much umami.

The butterfish from Jeju island with fried potato was delicate and perfectly cooked. The fish was velvety and juicy.

The braised Korean short-rib with roasted onion was amazing! The meat was fatty, tender and buttery as expected from a Korean short-rib. If your buttery umami from the short-rib was not enough, you will get the same extra goodness from the beef tartare along with the crunchy tile of battered nori.

High quality striploin with Jang (or Korean style sauce) consomme with seasonal vegetables and beef tartare. This dish was umami packed with from the meat to the veggies. The medium rare striploin was super tender, perfectly cooked and seasoned well. The veggies also had some sour and sweet notes.

The Jang trio is a “Doen-Jang” creme brulee, “Gan-jang” pecan, “Gochujang” blackrice, vanilla ice cream and whisky foam dessert was more than just a great treat. It was a party of well balanced flavours in my mouth!

The chestnut Korean style mont blanc was also nothing short of excellent. It had jujube, Korean citron, pear and mascarpone. It was almost like a hybrid of mont blanc and cheesecake.

We ended our lunch with a long black coffee made from Fritz coffee beans and specialty tea with sweet treats.

I was highly impressed from the space to the service and food. So much attention to detail and creativity went into each dish. I will definitely come back here next time I’m in Seoul. Another plus side to this restaurant is that you can book ahead online too!

757 Seolleung-ro, Nonhyeon 2(i)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Koreaa
Tues-Fri 12 to 10:30pm
Sat-Sun 12 to 10:00pm
Monday - closed

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Mate Burger Shop - Mt Druitt

Mounty County has a new Sheriff in town! The team behind Mate Burger truck has now opened a new shop in the heart of Mount Druitt.

I’ve been a fan of my homie Henry Paraan’s work since I first tried his burgers at the Blacktown Aussie Night Markets 2 years ago. You can now get their American/Filipino fusion burgers from Friday to Sunday at their shop that sits up to 40 people. Henry is a Shake Shack fan like I am so you can expect awesome juicy flavoursome smashed patty burgers from this new joint too. The all-time favourite Mate offerings are also available like the cheesemate, ensaymada burger and adobo fries. Then there’s the shop exclusives like lechon rice bowl and the Hey Mounty burger.

Fries before guys folks!! Yes, they do have normal fries and a Cheese-cino fries ($10). The cheese-cino fries is a serving of large French fries loaded with melted cheese and tocino-style bacon pieces and Mate sauce. The tocino-style bacon had hints of garlic and sweet flavours. 

Their classic ensaymada burger ($13) consists of a juicy beef patty, smoked sriracha maple bacon, rocket, melted kraft cheese and a mayo based Mate sauce in a sweet fluffy buttery Filipino-style brioche bread with cheese. This burger perfectly exhibits how one can balance out sweet, salty and umami flavours.

The Mare (pronounced Mah-reh) burger ($14) is the first exclusive item on the menu. This is a must order when you visit the shop for the first time! Crispy deep-fried chicken thigh fillet with the Mate sauce, cheese, apple, chilli jam and lettuce in a soft milk bun. The coating on the chicken was crunchy with a texture somewhere between a doughy karaage chicken and Southern-style buttermilk coating. The meat was perfectly cooked and I love it went well with the apple and chilli jam.

The Hey Mounty ($14 for a single patty and $4 for an extra patty) is another shop exclusive. A massive classic “the works” style burger with beef patty, tocino bacon, cheese, mate sauce, onions, tomato and lettuce.

Mate stays true to it’s Filipino roots with a Filipino style Rice Bowl ($15)! Fluffy rice topped with succulent and crispy pieces of roast pork belly, atchara (pickled shredded green papaya), lechon sauce and banana ketchup.

Add ons to you burger like fries, bacon and drinks are also available. There are also plans of expanding the menu too, which includes the addition of the all-time Filipino dessert halo halo. Trading hours will also be extended soon (follow @MateBurger on instgram for updates). Congrats Henry, Rose and the rest of team Mate Burger!

Mate Burger Shop
1B Mount Druitt Road
Mount Druitt NSW

Trading hours:
Friday to Sunday
Fri & Sat 12pm to 8pm
Sun 12pm to 6pm

Mate Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato