Category Archives: Sydney – Inner City & Eastern Suburbs

LP’s Quality Meats, Chippendale

As many of you will know, we have a resident vegacaquarian in the Napoli household.  This has meant a largely vegetarian diet for the family, with seafood every now and again.   Regardless, the (Not So) Small People are die hard carnivores, and would happily demolish a steak every night of the week if it was presented to them.  So when their birthday rolls around, and a special family dinner out is called for, the request is always for a steak restaurant. “Would you like to try somewhere new or somewhere we’ve been before?” I ask, when the big day is approaching.  “Somewhere new” they say.  So here we are at LP’s which I’ve been keen to try since it opened in 2014. It’s consistently scored a hat in the Good Food Guide Awards.

There’s plenty of wood going on, between the communal tables, the tables, and the long bar, next to which a giant ham is being carved.  There’s a definite saloon vibe, and a cowboy hat or two would not go amiss. We are warmly welcomed and the staff all night are lovely.

I start with the chicken liver pate and it’s a winner. Great texture and flavour. I didn’t appreciate pate till I was an adult, and I encourage the Small People to try some. They don’t mind it. It’s served with some great big chunks of delicious sourdough rye.

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The Marito doesn’t miss out, he starts with an Applewood smoked ocean trout, served with crème fraiche and capers. We are both pleasantly surprised by the generosity of the serve, and it has a lovely delicate flavour.

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He also has an eggplant parmigiana with burrata. It’s not done traditionally but with crumbed slices of eggplant and stacked, which give it some nice texture. The burrata is gorgeous and creamy. The non meat specials change regularly; I notice a week later they have a crab with squid ink and spaghettini and would have loved to try it.

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The Small People start with the sausage of the day, a cotechino. It has a good amount of spice and is really tasty though very rich and good to share.

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Then comes out the 1kg t-bone steak. Beautifully cooked, they demolish it, though they do let me try a little bit.

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On the side we try the potato gratin. The potato is sliced in paper thin slivers, and it’s creamy and buttery and delicious. We also have a green bean and radish salad; when we comment that someone has been a bit too heavy handed with the salt, they replace it with no fuss at all, a very good sign.

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There is no capacity for dessert after that meat-fest; the Small People are happy and on their birthday that’s all that matters.

LP’s Quality Meats, 16/12 Chippen St, Chippendale Ph 02 8399 0929
http://www.lpsqualitymeats.com

LP's Quality Meats Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kensington Street Social, Chippendale

Kensington Street in Chippendale for a good while was rather derelict and abandoned. Now bought to life, the stone paved street is home to a string of unique eateries, among them Spice Alley, Automata and Bistro Gavroche.  Today we’re visiting Kensington Street Social, whose concept and menu was put together by British chef Jason Atherton.  Atherton has a number of “Socials” around the world – Pollen Street Social in London,  Aberdeen Street Social in Hong Kong, Marina Social in Dubai – you get the drift.    Now his talent has landed in Inner Sydney, and though he no longer personally presides over the hot plates, those left in his wake know what they are doing.

It was the service that let them down a little that day.  Somewhat neglected in our corner and with staff seemingly not communicating with each other (“has no one explained the menu yet?”), and the food was slowish to arrive.  And though they knew we were sharing everything, no serving cutlery was provided, other than a knife for the first dish.  Small things, early days, I’m sure it will all come good in the competitive Sydney restaurant game.

Eventually we get our hands on some cocktails. Fun, playful, clever, delicious.

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We start off with the vine tomato which comes with Vannella burrata, 25 year aged balsamic vinegar, and a size of tomato seasoning.  Absolutely gorgeous, it looks like a forbidden fruit and is a pleasure to eat.

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I love the freshness of the garden pea salad – an assemblage of snow peas, sugar snaps and pea tendrils – and keep going back for more.

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The tataki Hiramasa kingfish falls into the nondescript “nice” category and is much better done at many quality Sydney Japanese establishments.

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The spanner crab comes with a refreshing frozen cucumber gazpacho and, interestingly, rhubarb. It works.

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Next up is the crispy skin mulloway with pippies (just two so it can be plural on the menu) and baked potato.  Pleasant but standard mod Oz fare.

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The roast marron tail with curry butter on the other hand I would rather not have shared.

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For our iron hit we finish with a couple of meat dishes.  The first is a juicy wagyu rib eye,  with miso butterscotch and eggplant. The eggplant is delicious.

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And finally a modern take on the Sunday roast – lamb rack and braised shoulder, with a cauliflower couscous.

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I could have happily fit in dessert, but as I said it was pretty slow and we ran out of time. But it is indeed a pretty cool space to get social in.

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Kensington Street Social, 3 Kensington Street Chippendale, Ph
(02) 8277 8533
http://kensingtonstreetsocial.com/

Kensington Street Social Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Firedoor, Surry Hills

You’re in a bit of trouble at Firedoor if you don’t like a hint (or a whack) of smokiness in your food. In the electricity-less kitchen, everything is cooked on fire, and the taste is distinct.   One of the hot openings of 2015, in the early days it was near impossible to score a table, and we’re glad we finally get to road test it and see if it is worthy of its one hat. Our friendly waitress gives us the menus and suggests an appropriate number of dishes to order between four – the menu is designed to share – and leaves us to ponder.

We start off with some bread. Big, thick slabs of bread with butter. Sprinkled on top of the butter is smoked salt – the smoke journey begins – and I love it. They should sell jars of that salt. The bread also comes in handy for mopping up some of the lovely sauces and juices that come with subsequent dishes.

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The first handful of dishes arrive quickly, almost too quickly, and the table gets crowded.

A simple dish of asparagus comes with a delicious accompaniment of mussel sauce

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It’s followed by one of the table favourites, these little school prawns, done with a nice hint of chilli and garlic shoots. Loved this dish and would gladly have it again

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The ricotta is pretty to look at and yes, the smoke is there, but I think I’d rather have my regular serve of Paesanella.

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We move onto the strawberry clams. It’s a pretty small serve for $48, and I also find them a little overcooked and chewy

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The squid with ink and macadamia doesn’t blow me away either, but the celery is refreshing

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We’re back on track with this whiting with some chargrilled zucchini. Beautifully cooked, juicy fish with delicate vegetables.

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So too does the Jurassic quail get a big tick, served with toasted spelt with caper raisin.

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We have to wait a very long time for the lamb, and the waitress is apologetic, but it turns out to be worth the wait. This photo is of a half eaten dish, oops.   Like the whiting, it is expertly cooked and a definite crowd pleaser.

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But the one thing about Firedoor is that you will get sticker shock, the bill does add up very quickly, especially when drinks come into the equation. Steer clear of the steak – the 500g wagyu rib comes in at $89 and the 500g dray aged rib at $139. Now given how well they cooked our other meat dishes, I’m sure that these would be nicely done, but the prices seem a little excessive, even though they are designed to share. The chef’s menu $85 banquet may be the best way to go.

Firedoor, 1a/23-33 Mary St, Surry Hills, Ph (02) 8204 0800
http://www.firedoor.com.au

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

Missy French, Potts Point

A friend from Melbourne is in town and we’re catching up to discuss various First World Problems (what size handbag she should buy, where to find camisoles for suits, when am I ever going to buy an iPhone and the like) and a few more serious ones (food security, educating our children about good health, how to get our husbands to do more housework). And Josephine Perry’s recently opened Missy French is the right place for a girly meet, sophisticated with a decidedly feminine touch. There is no sign of the building’s colourful former occupants, among them a Japanese brothel and an illegal gambling house.

A real live Missy French is at the door to greet me – “alors, I ‘ave a lovely banquette for you” – and it is indeed lovely and the perfect spot to see what is going on in the rest of the pretty room. The Perry commitment to good service is obvious – when water is bought to the table, I ask for some ice which is bought promptly. But another staff member whisks it away, saying “we should put it in a prettier glass than that”, and returns with some gorgeous cut crystal.

The menu has a good mix – I’d be quite content with any of the dishes on it in the unlikely event I’d actually allow someone to order for me – and we are given a debrief and presented with a short but well considered wine list. So here is where we end up

Chicken liver parfait with brioche and cornichons. Classic and rich, I’m glad I decided to walk the two kilometres here from the office.missyfrench (4)

Prawn bisque with corn custard. Perfectly cooked prawns, silky custard but alas the bisque is underseasonedmissyfrench (3)

Parisienne gnocchi with pumpkin and sage. These are different to your Italian version, creamier is the best way to describe them, and they are damn deliciousmissyfrench (6)

So too is the pithivier – which I completely mispronounce, but it’s essentially a very fancy French pie – with succulent pork, peas, a very tasty jus and flaky pastry.missyfrench (5)missyfrench (7)

We are quite full by now and decide to share a dessert, the Lemon and Lime Eaton Mess – a chilled and refreshing combination of sweet and sour.missyfrench (8)

We leave content, First World Problems largely resolved; the husbands and housework issue may however need a follow up session. “Bonsoir” says the live Missy French, “see you again”.  She may well.

Missy French, Rothwell Crescent, Potts Point
http://www.missyfrench.com

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Missy French Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

ACME, Rushcutters Bay

When I heard there was a new restaurant called ACME, I thought that maybe the owner was a fan of  the Road Runner and Wile E Coyote cartoons I used to watch when I was little with its ACME brand explosives that never worked. But no, the name was born from the four initials of the four partners, with M being the head chef, Mitch Orr. I met him at the Young Gun’s dinner series, and he seems like quite a character, which is reflected in some of the left of centre food coming over the pass. Yes there is pasta made in beautiful Italian tradition – which has no doubt been a big contributor to the hat earned in the recent awards – but it may be paired with a little Filippino, Korean or Japanese flavours.

At first glance the pricing seems reasonable – snacks and entrees go from $5 to $24, and the pasta dishes from $12 to $24, but be warned the serves are small. If you’re hungry you may need entrée, main, dessert and then some, so it is not as good value as you would think, or may require the Macca’s pitstop on the way home. Service though, is top notch and the staff are warm and friendly. Out for a team dinner, we had a group banquet for $60 (not including dessert) in the lovely space downstairs which can be used for private dining, which meant we got to try quite a few dishes.

We start off with the baloney sandwich. It isn’t something I would have automatically ordered, and I’m very glad they chose it for us. A soft fluffy roll, delicious mortadella, and some tangy relishACME (1)

The pippis too are nicely done and not tampered with too much, a little bit of lime and pepper, lovelyACME (4)

The following two vegetable courses though leave me a little uninspired. Fried parsnip is just ok though the mayo has a bit of a kickACME (2)

The pencil leeks are chewy, but the seaweed butter is decadent, would have been nice to have some crusty bread to spread it onACME (3)

In between as a bit of a cleanser is a combination of blood orange, pomelo and mascarpone. Its not a combination that works for me.ACME (8)

But we get a comeback with the pasta dishes which shine. The wonderfully thin linguine and given flavour and texture with burnt chilli and black garlic, and it’s a table favourite.ACME (5)

So too is the maltagliati (that’s “badly cut” for the non Italians) with rabbit and pistachio, silky pasta and nicely braised rabbitACME (7)

The only pasta dish I’m ambivalent about is calamari with Korean Bolognese, it falls in the “interesting” category and I’m not quite sure if I like it.ACME (6)

But the macaroni with pigs head and egg yolk proves another winner.ACME (9)

ACME, 60 Bayswater Road, Rushcutters Bay, Ph (02) 8068 0932
http://weareacme.com.au/
ACME Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Billy Kwong, Potts Point

You get a prize at Billy Kwong if you can read Kylie’s specials menu. Actually no you don’t, but you should get a free dessert or something if you can decipher it all. I almost made it, our friendly waitress intervened and helped out, but my main concern was checking that Kylie’s signature duck with blood plums was on there somewhere.billykwong (1)

If you haven’t heard, Billy Kwong has moved to Macleay Street in Potts Point, seating triple or so what the Crown Street site did – and – woohoo – it now takes bookings, no more queuing or waiting at any nearby dodgy drinking establishments to get a call after you put your name down on the list. Those uncomfortable stools are gone as well (they seem to have been donated to Hamish at Bar H?).

There is a long long long bar counter that spans the large kitchen, which is great if you want to eat solo or as a pair, and I reckon the staff easily clock up their required daily FitBit miles walking the length of that counter a few times.

There were six of us and we opted for a la’ carte, but there is a “Kylie’s banquet” for $75 where they choose the dishes. I didn’t realise till I went through the photos just how much we ate – we gave that menu a good nudge!  I know that some people will say that you pay overs for Chinese here, but remember that everything in the restaurant is organic where possible, and all the seafood sustainably sourced.

Steamed mini steamed pork buns with Rooftop Honey. Mmmmmm. The Rooftop Honey comes from the beehives on the roof of the Wayside Chapel made by the homeless – Kylie has always been generous about helping those in need.billykwong (3)

Steamed Sydney Rock Oysters – simple and deliciousbillykwong (4)

Sung Choi Bao of Pork, Ginger and Mushrooms. This was probably the only slightly disappointing dish, it just didn’t have the zing and flavour of the others.billykwong (12)

Rice Noodle Rolls with Braised Beef Brisket, Black Bean and Chilli. These were a table fave, I was secretly hoping that someone would temporarily turn vegetarian so I could have two.billykwong (5)

Steamed Fish Fillet with Ginger, Spring Onions and Shiro Soyu – a classic Chinese dish well executed.billykwong (10)

Dry-fried Green Beans with Miso, Chilli and Sesame Seeds. I ordered these because I felt we should have some green vegetables, and they were really good!billykwong (9)

Crispy Skin Duck with Orange and Davidsons plum. This dish has been on the menu since the beginning I think.billykwong (8)

Deep Fried Fish Wings in Young Henry’s Pearl Ale. Something a little different and good flavour and texturebillykwong (6)

Cantonese style Fried Rice. A good pepper hit in here or some other spice?billykwong (7)

Ginger soy pannacotta. Everyone claimed to be too full for dessert so only two of us ordered one. However once everyone tried a spoon full there was almost some fighting at the table. Really smooth and a subtle ginger flavour. The Chinese may have claimed they were the first ones to invent noodles and pasta, but the Italians have one up on the pannacotta stakes!billykwong (11)

billykwong (2)Billy Kwong, 28 Macleay St, Potts Point, Ph (02) 9332 3300
http://www.billykwong.com.au/

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The Apollo, Potts Point

When The Apollo opened three odd years ago, it was hot hot hot. And it still is – totally buzzing on a weeknight, with most tables booked for two seatings. Jonathan Barthelmess continues to put some great modern Greek on the table, that a Yia-Yia would concede is worthy, even if it’s not the way her mother taught her in the village. I’m here with the gal pals from work, and we opt for the $55 banquet menu which leaves us rolling out of there, and the staff have kindly packed up the extras for us to take home.

We start with some fat, juicy olives, tangy taramasalata dip, and some delicious pita.The Apollo (1)

Then comes the sizzling saganaki cheese with oregano and honeyThe Apollo (2)

No Greek banquet is complete without a classic Greek saladThe Apollo (3)

Next is one of the stars of the night, a melt in your mouth delicious lamb shoulderThe Apollo (4)

Followed by some of the best roast potatoes I’ve ever hadThe Apollo (5)

And their roast chicken, deliciously flavoured but a little drier than the last time I had itThe Apollo (6)

We finish with a desert of walnuts, filo pastry and coffee cream, a bit of a modern spin on baklava. I find it slightly on the dry side but love the coffee cream.The Apollo (7)

The Apollo, 44 Macleay St Potts Point, Ph 02 8354 0888
http://www.theapollo.com.au

The Apollo on Urbanspoon

Coogee Pavilion, Coogee

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The Merivale group should offer marketing or business courses, or something.  Like them or loathe them, you’ve got to hand it to them – their ability to take a space, transform it, attract good chefs and instantly draw a huge crowd – and sustain it long term – is enviable.  I’ve been to plenty of their venues – sushi e, Felix, Papi Chulo, Lorraine’s, Palings, Mr Wong just to name a few, and have, for the most part, had great experiences.

Coogee Pavilion is a relatively recent addition to the family.  Like its older siblings it has been transformed into a wonderful space – this time the approach is bright and breezy, perfect for a beachside venue. There is plenty to catch your attention, various counters everywhere, and I love the fact that the tables are nice and spaced out and you don’t have to sit on top of your dining neighbour.

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And the food? Its pretty solid. There’s fresh seafood, pizza, steaks, salads, burgers. If you go all fresh seafood it can be quite expensive, but for a low key pizza and burger its not too bad at all. Its not food that is going to blow your mind, but accessible, pleasant fare for a relaxed meal. Note that it does come from each individual counter so can arrive very quickly – if you want them to space it out let them know.  Otherwise you’ll find your oysters arriving with your pizza and fish and chips.

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And the place is incredibly family friendly. There are high chairs, so cute small people like this one can be comfortable.
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Kids meals are $12.50 and under; the only annoyance of the day was that we had to chase down our kids’ steak repeatedly – it took 45 minutes – but given that the kids were thoroughly entertained they didn’t drive us mad. There is an awesome sizeable room at the back with table tennis, climbing walls, scrabble and a giant connect four among other things. The kids were very happy to run off and play while we sat and chatted and enjoyed our meal. If you want to avoid all that, head up to the rooftop bar which is over 18’s only.

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Coogee Pavilion, 169 Dolphin St, Coogee, Ph 02 9240 3000
http://merivale.com.au/coogeepavilion
Coogee Pavilion on Urbanspoon

Gardels Bar, Surry Hills

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One Saturday night, a group of Cool Chicks descended on a bar in Surry Hills. (For the purposes of this review, I will temporarily be classified as a Cool Chick). Nestled above Porteno and run by the same crew, Gardels Bar – named after tango king Carlos Gardel – is a grown up bar. Sophisticated, moody and dimly lit, it is about more than just the looks, being a bar that also serves some clever food, earning it Best Bar For Good Food in this year’s 2015 Good Food Guide Awards. There is some great house made charcuterie on offer, among other things.

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The Cool Chicks opt for one of the “bar banquet” menus, by the end of which we are totally stuffed. But of course we also want some drinks to go with it, and at 8.30pm on a Saturday night, they have “run out of glasses”. Say again? “ummm, yes, your drinks will be here as soon as we clean some glasses”. And, half of the (quite compact and not overly complicated) cocktail menu is “not available”. Well, they did win Best Bar for their food, not for their drinks. Oops. They were very apologetic though, and did send over some free champagne later in the evening (once glassware supplies were restored).

So what did we have? There certainly was some interesting food going on, and is a good one for those on the 5:2 diet where you can throw caution (and hopefully cholesterol) to the wind.

Oysters Sangrita – wonderfully fresh – and a Broccoli & Ricotta Empanada, a delicious little mouthful.
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Piquillo Pepper filled with Rice, Pine Nuts, Currants & Marinated Fetta; and house cured salmon (yum) on a little brioche toast
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Crumbed ricotta and spinach balls and stuffed zucchini flowers – both delicious
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Beef empanada – wasn’t keen, there was too much of a spice, was it cumin?
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Next, house made Mortadella & Fontina Cheese Sandwich (the Italians at the table like their mortadella cut paper thin, and this was a bit thick); and Chorizo Porteño with Romesco Sauce BBQ. It was a big chunk of chorizo, would have been good if it was grilled or rendered in some fashion.
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The Brussel sprouts with sweet lentils we weren’t keen on either, the sprouts were quite tough.
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But then came the lamb Ribs with Chimichurri; yes they were fatty, but oh, they were good.
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And then in probably the biggest surprise of the evening – a knock out desert! This is what they call their “pavlova cake” – there is a layer of biscuit, dulce du leche, poached strawberries, a meringue, a cream layer then honeycomb and pistachios on the top. Wow!
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Gardels Bar, 358 Cleveland St, Surry Hills, Ph (02) 8399 1440
http://www.gardelsbar.com

Gardel's Bar at Porteño on Urbanspoon

Cho Cho San, Potts Point

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Cho Cho San – it’s hip, hot, and on the blossoming Potts Point food strip. The name comes from Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, the butterfly being CioCio-san. Like many operas it is a tragedy, but there is no tragedy to be found in this relatively new, neutrally coloured izakaya, started by the team behind Apollo. Already heaving when we arrive at 6.20pm on a Tuesday night – a Nursery Hour first sitting allows them to turn the tables – we hope we won’t be too rushed to get through all the dishes we want to try.

Having picked up a Hat in the 2015 Good Food Guide Awards, the hot-factor has been turned up another notch, and it’s not easy to get a table, and fortunately we’d booked several weeks before. As you enter you see a long communal table, circumferenced by smaller ones, but we, being a group of 6, are ushered to a great semi private annexe.

My photos aren’t the best, but I do think that has something to do with the Ginger Ninja and Nippy Rockshop I downed before the food (do check out the cocktails).  You might need my dictionary for some of the ingredients. We ordered a la carte, but there is also a $65 banquet menu.

We begin with the fried eggplant miso. First of all, its deep friend. Second its got miso. Third, there’s eggplant in there somewhere. What’s not to love?

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We then try a few dishes from the raw section, beginning with the hiramasa kingfish with daikon and soy. Simple and fresh.

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Next the hokkaido ccallops with the pureed corn and house-cured katsuboshi. Don’t know if it was the last ingredient, but this dish didn’t do it for me.

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Then what I thought was the star of the raws we tried, beef tataki with wild rice and ginger dressing.

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Onto the hot food – udon noodles with pork and chilli. These were $15 and I thought it was a pretty freekin’ awesome, you can sometimes pay that for not so great noodles in a food court. If they had a little food truck in the CBD that sold these takeaway…….just putting that out there.

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Our next hot dish was the king crab omelette with Japanese curry. It’s a mild curry, not spicy, and this also got a big tick.

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Soy glazed wagyu beef – tender and a balanced soy, with some green beans to make us feel like we were being good and eating our vegetables.

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The next two dishes were the lamb cutlets with chilli and Sancho, and prawns with kombu. I got overruled, did not want to order the lamb, but I did choose the prawns; both of these I thought classified as “get anywhere” sort of dishes – the lamb cutlets were just, well, lamb cutlets and prawns had a bit of seasoning but I didn’t think either of these had anything unique on the flavour stakes.

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For desert, we tried the Cho Cho Snow – shaved ice with custard and the ginger syrup – which has seemed to polarise people. Me, I was a fan of the flavour combination and the texture. The birthday girl I was with tried the Banana Soft Serve which she declared was better than a birthday cake (maybe ‘cause we didn’t buy her one, sorry).

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If there was one complaint, it was from the blokes, who said the beer-to-glass-ratio was out of whack. You don’t give someone a 650ml beer can and a small glass, apparently.

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So the clever team have done Greek, done Japanese, what’s next?

Cho Cho San, 73 Macleay Street, Potts Point, ph 02 9331 6601
http://www.chochosan.com.au

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