Sunday, September 22, 2019

Kurumac Cafe, Marrickville

My favourite café north of bridge has opened an offshoot in Marrickville. You’ll find the new Kurumac Café in the Addison Road area, which is also home to other great coffee shops like Coffee Alchemy. Kurumac is Japanese for Coolmac. Yes, you’ve guess that right, it’s by the same awesome team behind Coolmac Café in Kirribilli.

Pastries by Bread and Butter Project

Kurumac is a partnership between my homies Eugene Leung and Dika Prianata. The space is very Japanese in terms of minimalism and clean lines. Everything from décor to fittings are smooth and crisp. Then there’s the uber cool murals done by artist Ar-chive. Head chef Jun brings his Japanese café style flair to Marrickville with his Japanese café classics with a twist. I visited them twice this past week.

Their coffee is sourced from Campos. For filter coffee lovers out there, they have a rotating batch ($5) on offer. They had a fruity Kenya available on batch during my visit. They use the Campos Superior blend for their milk coffee. I had a piccolo latte ($4) and it had a full body with milk chocolate notes.

The onigiri rice ball set ($14) comes with miso soup and tamagoyaki. You get two sushi rice balls where 1 is stuffed with avocado and the other with tanaka or Japanese pickled mustard greens. Simple yet addictive! The tamagoyaki were fluffy, slightly sweet and flavoursome.

The grilled salmon congee ($17) is a must try from their all day menu. It’s a Japanese style congee with perfectly cooked grilled salmon and umami packed juicy ikura. To top all of that, it also comes with crispiest and super tasty salmon skin.

The curry scrambled eggs and tempura prawns ($19) on toast was another favourite of mine. Delightful fluffy eggs with Japanese curry and crisped tempura. The creamy chilli sauce also had notes of umami.

The ox tongue curry with koshihikari rice ($24) is available during lunch. The ox tongue was tender and buttery, which is nicely complimented by Jun’s very own Japanese curry blend and dollops of cream. The fragrant koshihikari rice was perfect for mopping up all that delicious curry.

Another dish that y’all need to try is the tempura eel with green tea broth rice ($23) a.k.a. ochazuke. There’s just another whole level of depth to the flavours when you have rice poured with green tea broth and paired with tempura eel. You get earthy, sweet and umami notes and the contrast of textures just works so well.

They have a few beverages that uses Mapo Newtown (my current favourite gelato shop in Sydney) gelato. Their hojicha gelato milkshake was insanely good. There’s a nice balance of that roasted tea and creamy milky goodness.
Wagyu beef, udon and prawn fritter
Kurumac is the best of 2 worlds: Japanese flavours and good Australian vibes. Another awesome thing about their spot is that there’s a lot of street parking in the area.

107 Addison Road
Marrickville NSW
Opening hours:
7am to 4pm - 7 days

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Chuuka, Pyrmont, Sydney

I’m sure it’s pretty obvious with the blog’s name on how much I love ramen. Ramen is also referred to as Chuka Soba, which means Chinese noodles. Chuka or Chuuka normally refers to Japanese style or take on Chinese food. It’s dishes like ramen, gyoza, and kakuni pork belly. But with Chefs Victor Liong and Chase Kojima’s Chuuka Restaurant, it’s more of a 50/50 fusion of Japanese and Chinese flavours and cooking style.

Chuuka Restaurant is part of The Star group of restaurants and is located at Jones Bay Wharf. The space has a rustic contemporary look with nice scenic views of the Johnstons bay area. I visited Chuuka for lunch a few weeks back with the fam.

The hiramasa kingfish with white fungi, radish, burnt garlic, spring onion and soy cream ($24) was beautifully delicate with sweet notes and light umami.

Chuuka’s version of chawanmushi ($13pp) is a savoury steamed custard  dish with foie gras, blue swimmer crab, carrot ginger sauce and shellfish essence. This dish is all about silky textures with notes of umami and some sweetness to balance the overall flavour of the dish.

Y’all need to try Chase’s ‘tempura yuzu chicken”($24) with dried chilli, sweet & sour yuzu sauce. It is like a very premium Chinese lemon chicken. It was so damn addictive.

Another addictive item on the menu is the Chuuka ebi chilli ($42), which is stir fried prawns in chilli miso butter and accompanied by Japanese milk buns. The chilli and umami factors weren’t as intense but it was very well-balanced with hints of sweet flavour. The soft buns were perfect to soak up all the delicious chilli miso butter sauce.

The Sichuan eggplant dish with puffed chickpeas, crispy garlic, fried wonton skins and white miso sesame dressing ($28) had an interesting contrast of textures and flavours. It’s a mix and toss type of dish to bring out all the awesome flavours from the ingredients.

The wagyu short rib ($59) was so tender and buttery! It comes with baby cos lettuce, ginger & spring onion relish to make mini wraps.

My favourite savoury dish hands down was the tenshindon ($35). This is a classic Chuka dish, which is typically a blanket of crab omelette on rice. Chuuka’s version is levelled up with blue swimmer crab, and a thick broth like Japanese style XO Sauce with egg on scallop rice. It was packed with punches of umami with light sweet, earthy and peppery notes.

The “Chuuka yoghurt service” is a massive dessert set that’s good for 2 or more people ($38). It’s yoghurt sorbet with mascarpone ice cream and frozen meringue. It also comes with toppings (served on the side): 1) yuzu & ginger jam; 2) raspberry , freeze dried beetroot & pink peppercorn; 3) roasted hazelnuts and kinako; 4) Vietnamese coffee jelly, 5) matcha milk crumb; 6) bitter chocolate and cocoa nibs.

If you’re a fan of bubble tea, then you need try the super fun Japanese purple yam ice cream dessert with pearl jasmine tea, sago and bluberries ($14).

The Kurozato brown sugar mochi ice cream ($9) is a simple yet amazing play on Kyoto yatsuhashi mochi. Rather than stuffed with azuki bean filling etc., ice cream is sandwiched in yatsuhashi mochi.

Suite 62-64, Jones Bay Wharf
26-32 Pirrrama Road
Pyrmont NSW
Ph: 02 9657 9882

Opening hours:
Tues to Sat 12pm-3pm, 5:30pm-10pm
Sun 12pm-3pm

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

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Hakata-maru Darling Square, Haymarket

My favourite Sydney Hakata ramen shop is back in Haymarket with their range of Fukuoka inspired ramen! I was saddened when Hakata-maru closed their Market City shop a while back. Thankfully, they scored a spot across from The Exchange (on Nicole Walk) at Darling Square

I’ve always liked their no-nonsense approach to their ramen and the price point is probably one of the best in Sydney. The space is like a contemporary tavern. They have communal tables,
two areas of window counter seating near the kitchen and lots of outdoor tables for two.

The usual Hakata-maru ramen choices are available on the menu including the white tonkotsu ($12.50). This is a classic Hakata-style ramen that uses a shio (salt) based tare to season the pork bone (tonkotsu) broth and because of that, the broth retains its milky colour and consistency. The shio tare brings out more of the porky flavour and umami. It also has that classic thin noodles cooked katame (or al dente) and topped with chashu, kikugare, negi and nori.

From all the Hakatamaru dishes that I’ve had in the past and present, my personal favourite is the bonito shoyu tonkotsu ramen ($16.50).The noodles used are the standard curly type used by most ramen shops but cooked katame. The broth is soy based with a double soup of katsuobushi (bonito) broth and tonkotsu broth. The broth had a lot of umami and depth with some smoky notes from the bonito broth. Topping includes chashu, bean sprouts, negi, nori and half ajitamago (flavour egg).

If you want your tonkotsu ramen with depth minus the smoky fishy flavour, try their shoyu tonkotsu ramen ($16.50). It pretty much has the same toppings as the shoyu niboshi ramen but the difference is in the seasoning. As the name states, the broth is seasoned with soy tare that gives depth and complexity to the pork bone broth and with added sweet notes.

The Darling Square shop offers more than just ramen. They currently also have curry rice dishes and sides like karaage chicken and gyozas. Soon they will also have Japanese inspired gua baos like kakuni bao and karaage bao at $5.50 each.

Hakatamaru Darling Square
Nicole Walk
35 Tumbalong Boulevard
Sydney NSW 2000
Soft opening hours:
7 days 11:30 pm to 2:30pm, 5:30pm to 8:30pm