Sunday, June 16, 2019

Bella Brutta, Newtown

Hype, like with anything can be a double edge sword. It could make or break a place. There’s been so much hype around Bella Brutta since it opened in Newtown back in 2018.

I’ve heard nothing but praises from bloggers, food writers and everyone else in the Sydney social media community about their pizzas and other Italian influenced offerings on their menu. This is expected from a brainchild of Luke Powell and Porteño dudes Joseph Valore and Elvis Abrahanowicz. Chocolatesuze and I visited them few months ago and I can confirm, believe the hype! It lived up to my expectations.

The cheese fritti with hot sauce ($4 each) is deep fried golden goats and Parmesan cheese with woodfired green pepper salsa. The crisped cheese balls had an amazing molten soft cheesy centre and the salsa complimented the balls with a kick of smoky and sweet flavours.

I’ve never had seafood pizza as delicious as their clam pizza ($26). The crust is legit with blistered burnt bits and a thin soft base. There was so much umami from the clams and pecorino cheese. The garlic, parsley and chilli brings balance to the dish’s umami. I’m normally a margherita or quattro formaggi kinda guy but this pizza got me craving for more!

They had a dry aged ribeye ($40) on offer that day. The Veal milainase was dry aged for 1 month and panko crumbed. “Tender buttery umami” is what comes to mind with this dish. It also had a lovely smoked beef fat and lemon vinaigrette.

The generous slab of tiramisu ($14) that we had was amazing! It had hazelnuts, beautiful layers of cream, mascarpone, Disaronno amaretto and Amaro Montenegro liqueur.

I cannot wait to visit this place again. There is so much more on the menu that I want to try especially the other pizza offerings.

Bella Brutta
135 King St
Newtown NSW 2042
Tel: 02 9922 5941

Mon to Fri 5pm-11pm
Saturday 12pm-11pm
Sunday 12pm-11pm

Bella Brutta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Sydney Cebu Lechon, Enmore

I have fond memories of Cebu in the Philippines. Not only is the region and food great but so is their version of lechon (Philippine suckling pig). What sets Cebu lechon apart from other versions of lechon is that the meat is so damn tasty that you don’t even need any lechon sarsa (sauce). The unique blend of spices and herbs that goes into the stuffing takes the flavours of the meat to another level.

Sydney Cebu Lechon by the Mahusay family has been operating since 1991 as a made to order/catering lechon business in Sydney. In fact, we actually ordered the lechon for our engagement party from them way back and I remember it being the best lechon I’ve had in Sydney. Fast forward to 2016, Will Mahusay took over the family business and has also opened a restaurant in Enmore a few months ago. It’s a small casual restaurant with a minimalist type menu that highlights their main product, Cebu-style lechon.

Their signature Cebu lechon (charcoal roasted pig) is $18 for 200 grams and it comes with atsara (pickled papaya salad) and some vinegar soy blend sauce. The sauce is just there as an option but to be honest, the pork is already incredibly tasty on its own. The meat is tender, smoky, rich in notes of garlic and other spices, full of umami and very aromatic. The tiles of crisped crackling makes amazing shattering sounds with every bite.

Then there’s a dish local to the Cebu region called humba ($23.50). Only the chicken version was available at the time. It’s Cebu-style adobo that‘s heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine. It’s heavier on spices rather than being vinegary compared to other versions of adobo in other parts of the Philippines. The sauce is very close to an aromatic umami rich Chinese masterstock. So you get notes of garlic, star anise and other spices. The braised chicken was so tender that it easily fell of the bones.

There are also weekly rotating desserts available. We had ube cheesecake and frozen brazo de mercedes. The frozen brazo de mercedes was like almost like a meringue and custard flavoured ice cream in texture with a crumble-type base.

Besides the delicious food, the service was also excellent. As there are rotating specials on the menu, I would definitely go back to try them.

Sydney Cebu Lechon
Shop 4/80-80A Enmore Rd, Newtown NSW 2042
Ph: 0481 205 589
Opening hours:
Friday to Sunday 11:45am-3pm, 5:45pm-9pm

Sydney Cebu Lechon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, April 22, 2019

Best Tsukemen in Tokyo, Japan

There are thousands of ramen shops in Tokyo. According to my homies at Ramen Beast, the estimates vary at around 6,000 to 10,000 as of 2017. Amongst those shops are also thousands of ramenyas that offer tsukemen or solely dedicated to offering only tsukemen.

Here’s a list of some of the best (and my personal favourites) tsukemen shops/dishes that Tokyo has to offer:


You can’t talk about Tokyo tsukemen without mentioning the legendary Tomita. Tomita-san’s OG shop in Matsudo has been given the title “best ramen of the year” in Japan four years in a row by a prestigious ramen guidebook.


The thick broth is stewed for 3 days. Leftover broth from previous days is used in the daily stock. There are four different broths combined. Tomita’s goal is to make something amazing out of something worth ¥880.

Tonkotsu, torigara, garlic, onions and ginger are part of his golden broth. Niboshi is added later on for smoky accent as well as mackarel. The broth was thick and had layers and layers of flavour with lots of umami. The shoyu tare, yuzu citrus, pepper and fish powder adds extra complexity and depth. There’s also menma, naruto, negi and some amazing chashu. The thick housemade noodles are made out of 4 types of flour. They are on the bouncy side and bit chewy. One more awesome fact, Tomita-san worked under the original legendary Taishoken founder and head chef, Mr. Yamagashi. Hands down, this is my favourite ramen shop in Japan to date.

PS: If you don’t feel like waking up early and lining up at 7am in the morning, they also have a shop at Mitsui Park Outlet in Kisarazu.

Address: 271-0092 千葉県松戸市松戸1339 高橋ビル
Hours: Open daily 11am to 3pm. Tickets reservation from 7am.
Nearest station: Matsudo


Fuunji is another famous tsukemen y’all need to check out. It is located Southwest of Shinjuku station. Minutes before opening Fuunji’s opening time, there would be queue outside of Miyake-san’s shop. Mr Miyake is a self taught ramen cook who has been all over the country to try all the best tsukemen shops. Both tsukemen and ramen offerings are available at the shop. But most of the customers come here for his signature gyokai chicken tsukemen.

Like most shops, you buy your tickets at the vending machine (buttons also have English translation). Once you are seated, you will be asked for your ticket and whether you want medium or large serving of noodles.

Their tokusei or special tsukemen (¥1000) is my go to option, which comes with an eggy type noodles, a medium thick seafood chicken broth topped with fish powder, pieces of chashu and ajitamago (flavoured soft boiled egg). The broth coats the noodles a little bit and is quite aromatic. It is full of umami with a bit of sweetness and some smoky accent.

For leftover soup, there’s dashi available (no extra cost) to add to your soup and make it more drinkable. Beware, this shop is quite tiny and there’s a queue of people right behind you as you eat.

Address: 151-0053 東京都渋谷区代々木2丁目14 北斗第一ビル1F
Hours: Mon to Sat 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-9pm. Closed Sundays
Nearest station: Shinjuku

Niboshi Tsukemen Miyamoto

If you enjoy the umami from dried baby sardines called Niboshi and you want to take it to another level in terms of flavour, then you need to visit Miyamoto in Kamata. As the shop’s name suggest, they specialise in Niboshi and go all out with it in their tsukemen. This is a popular shop so I suggest going before opening time.

Miyamoto’s Tokusei Tsukemen (特製極濃煮干しつけ麺, ¥1000)  has the most intense fish umami flavour I have come across. First up, the noodles were insanely good and the chashu was almost like a peppery ham. The ajitama was perfect and on the sweet side. The super thick niboshi tonkotsu broth was intense and super heavy on the niboshi umami but with heaps of onions to cut through the intensity. This is not for anyone with a low tolerance to salty and heavy umami flavours. But if you like it intense like me, then you need to try it.

144-0051 東京都大田区西蒲田7丁目8−1
Hours: Open daily 11am-3pm, 6pm-9pm
Nearest station: Kamata

Tetsu – Shinjuku station shop

Tetsu tsukemen is an institution in Tokyo. You’ll find many Tetsu shops in Tokyo. The Shinjuku station shop tends to have shorter lines and is quite convenient to go to.

The tsukemen broth here is quite similar to Fuunji’s in my opinion. The difference is that I find Tetsu’s broth less sweet and a tad more on the umami smoky side with a good balance of pork and smoky seafood flavours. The thick noodles comes hiyamori style which is served slightly cold. Try the special tsukemen (¥950)  if you want to try all the special toppings.

Address: 160-0023 東京都新宿区西新宿1丁目10 新宿区西新宿1丁目 南口地下街1号京王モール
Hours: Open daily 10am-11:30pm
Nearest station: Shinjuku

Men Washo

Tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen can be quite intense. If you want it on the lighter side, then you should try Men Washo in Sangenjaya.

Their tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen with ajitama (¥800) is the go to. The consistency of the broth is much lighter compared to most tonkotsu gyokai broths but it is still umami packed with smoky and sweet notes. The noodles are not as thick compared to most noodles used for tsukemen but is still amazing for capturing the broth with every dip. Even for a medium sized tsukemen, the serving is quite large.

Address: 2 Chome-6- Taishido, Setagaya City, Tokyo 154-0004, Japan
Hours: Tues to Sun 11:30am-2:30pm, 6:30pm-11:00pm,
Monday closed
Nearest station: Sangenjaya

Hayashida Shinjuku

For a lighter tsukemen option with a convenient location in Shinjuku (Behind the massive Biqlo store) y’all need to check out Hayashida. This place is known for their shoyu ramen but their premium special tsukemen (¥950) is pretty awesome too.

Their thick bouncy noodles, sous vide pork, ajitama and light chicken shoyu dipping broth (made with Oyama jidori chicken) was so damn good. The broth had this well-balanced umami, salty and sweet flavours.

Address: Ramen Hayashida
160-0022 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku City, Shinjuku, 3-chōme−33−15−1F 新宿ペガサス館
Hours: Open 7 days 11am-4pm, 6pm-10pm
Nearest station: Shinjuku and Shinjuku Sanchome