Monday, April 30, 2018

Sando Bar, Surry Hills

Winter is just around the corner and Sydney is just pumping out new restaurants opening left, right, front and center. In the past month, there’s one that I have patiently waited on. Let’s welcome Sando Bar to the Sydney cafe scene folks!

I’ve been a fan of Head chef and co-owner Naoya Shimada’s (aka @Nasir_San) cooking since his stint at Hills Bros. He’s teamed up with the crew behind Tokyo Bird and Osaka Trading Co to bring this Japanese sando inspired cafe in Surry Hills to life! But wait, it’s more than just a sandwich cafe, he also does ramen!!! Now that’s what I’m talking about! Sando Bar will eventually also serve as an extension of Tokyo Bird at night. Chocolatesuze and I checked them out on their opening day.

The coffee beans are sourced from Little Marionette. So expect some sweet chocolate notes in your coffee. The chocolate flavour profiled coffee was more prominent in my piccolo latte ($3.70). The textured milk temperature was just right.

His pork katsu sando ($14) is insanely good! A perfectly cooked juicy fried crumbed pork loin with apple cabbage slaw, mustard mayo & tonkatsu sauce. The pork was also marinated in shio koji for extra flavour and juiciness. Takes me back to Japan yo and it comes with a side of renkon (lotus root chips).

The breakfast sando ($7) consists of bacon, sweet fluffy tamagoyaki, mayo, rocket and bbq sauce with a side of fruits. 

My homie Nas came up with a ramen that’s suitable for a cafe menu. The shoyu ramen ($17) consists of a torigara shoyu broth that has subtle umami, light chicken flavour with yuzu and peppery notes. The noodles are cooked medium. Toppings include sous vide chicken in butter garlic yuzu, menma, mizuna dressed in yuzu, nori, negi and half hanjuku tamago. The runny yolk on that tamago was on point. Would have loved some extra fat on the broth. Nas doesn't claim that it's the legit kind but I think it is pretty solid for a cafe style ramen. It kind of reminds me of Afuri ramen.

A place of awesome sandos, coffee and ramen all in one place is my kind of joint. Come and visit them as soon as possible fam!! Trust me, they won’t disappoint.

Sando Bar
226 Commonwealth Street
Sydney NSW
Hours: Monday - Saturday 7am to 4pm

Sando Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Shirosaka - Minato Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan

Every Japan trip of mine has always been memorable. The food part always stands out. Many of y’all know I went on a quick trip to Tokyo recently with my mum. I wanted to make her first trip to the land of the rising sun as amazing for her as possible. So, I made a booking for two at the famed Shirosaka in Akasaka. It’s a place that was recommended by my homie Yas Nakano ages ago and I’m glad to have finally made the time to visit them.

Yuzushu with soda
Chef Max Barber

This lovely little serene restaurant is run by Head Chef Hideki II (ex- Tetsuya Sydney) along with his team that includes chef Max Barber and Mr. Kota Kaito. The dining concept is modern omakase kappo & Ryotei style. It’s modern in a sense that you can tell that various techniques that is heavily French have been used throughout each course other than just Japanese. It’s counter seating where you can watch the chef create the dishes in front of you. It’s a complete sensory culinary experience. They also have a private room in the restaurant. The omakase course cost around the ¥8,000 mark per person, which is good value for money in my opinion for the quality of food and service you get.

We started with a beautiful seasonal bonito with tare-flavoured greens.

The second course was perfectly cooked chargrilled unagi and baby eel in dashi. We worked our way through the dish starting with the grilled eel, followed by the baby eel and then we sipped dashi right at the end as a refreshing way to end the course.

The fresh tuna with uni, onsen egg and cracker was insane! Once all the ingredients were mixed together, the dish had a similar effect as a beef tartare but with next level creaminess and umami.

The green pea soup tasted so premium. I couldn’t believe that it only had peas, salt and dashi?! Wow!

I have so much respect for perfectly fried seafood. It ain’t an easy feat. The fried amadai fish was so beautifully cooked. Delicately crisped on the outside and was soft, juicy and sweet on the inside.

It was followed by a Spanish mackarel topped with white miso sauce and some sansho leaves. Love the contrasting bite from the sansho leaves that complimented the fish and miso sauce well.

The top rump Wagyu was cooked two ways. Firstly, slow cooked in a braising tare liquid and then seared over a charcoal grill. The marbley tender beef was topped with deep fried negi and served with some seasonal veggies.

Excuse the photo of the takikomi gohan with fire fly squid. It was so good that I almost forgot to take a photo of it! It came with miso soup and tsukemono.

The lemonade sorbet with sake was a freshing palate cleanser.

We ended the night with a luscious brûlée frozen cream cheesecake with apple crumble. The brulee frozen cheesecake was like a cream cheese ice cream topped with an amazing creme brûlée. The apple crumble was just the perfect accompaniment to an already excellent dessert.

It would have been great to see Chef Hideki II that night but nevertheless , Chef Max and Kota-san provided an amazing dining experience both in food and service. I expected nothing less than excellent from a restaurant by a former Tetsuya chef. If there is only one sit down restaurant that you can visit on your Tokyo trip, Shirosaka is the one you really need to check out.

6-3-9 Akasaka Minato-Ku
Tokyo 107-0052 Japan
Reservations: Ph 050-2018-0254
Monday to Saturday 5:30pm to 11:00pm

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Ramen Lunch at Gaku, Darlinghurst

Chef Haru is back y’all!!! One of Sydney’s favourite chefs is back with a new joint. For those of us who’s a big fan of Ikkyu, this is a big deal. He’s teased us with pop-ups and appearances here and there throughout last year.

He has recently opened a new Japanese robata grill restaurant with Chef Shimon Hanakura in the heart of Darlinghurst called Gaku. It will be serving mouthwatering grilled meats and a solid range of Japanese sake for dinner. But every lunchtime, Gaku will be a ramenya. The interior is very contemporary Japanese with mostly counter-style seating. There are 4 ramen choices on offer. We opted for the chicken tonkotsu ramen and yuzu duck ramen.

Duck ramen is huge in Tokyo right now. But here in Sydney, it’s still considered novelty. The yuzu duck ramen ($17) is like no other in Sydney. The broth consists of hints of yuzu citrus flavour from the jus, which brings out this nice smoky duck flavour and some peppery notes in the duck consommé-style broth. The bouncy noodles are cooked somewhere between katame and medium. It’s topped with tasty sous vide duck, duck meatballs, sweet and crispy fried burdock sticks. It’s quite an innovative bowl in my opinion and a good example of Haru’s expertise in modern refined-style ramen.

The chicken tonkotsu ramen ($16) on the other hand is more of a classic. A bowl with broth that’s rich in umami and heavy on the chiyu (fat) but not too dense in consistency. The aburi chashu here is extremely good! Both fatty, smoky and flavoursome. This is probably my favourite between the two bowls. It’s also topped with negi, flavoursome half ajitama and fried burdock.

There are also side snacks available! Classic gyoza ($6 for 4 pieces) with those perfectly crisped caramelised bits and a tasty Shimon’s karaage chicken ($6). Do yourself a favour and order the karaage chicken! Some of the best I've had in Sydney.

I can’t wait until Haru-san starts serving grilled meats for dinner! But in the meantime, I’m more than happy to crush bowls at Gaku. Omedetou gozaimasu Haru-san and Shimon-san!

Gaku Robata Grill
2/132 Darlinghurst Road
Darlinghurst NSW
Open for ramen every day Lunch from 12:00 until all bowls are finished.
40 to 50 ramen bowls daily.

Gaku Robata Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato