Tag Archives: Japanese

Osaka Trading Co, Tramsheds

Saturday night, booking in hand, the Marito and some friends and I headed to the recently opened Tramsheds re-development.  It’s well designed with a good variety of venues at various price points, where you could easily find yourself going regularly. There’s also a large supermarket, a nail bar, a barber and a bottle shop.  Some of the restaurants such as Fish & Co do takeaway, so you can sit in the casual eating area if you prefer this, as well as an area with pop ups that changes very frequently.

We headed for the modern Japanese eatery Osaka Trading Co which we all really enjoyed and would happily go to back to.  Service was friendly, if a little distracted given how busy they were, and we were pretty impressed with how a teeny kitchen churned out the food.

A refreshing cocktail and some edamame to start, and we were off.

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Our first dish was a special that night, prawn katsu, rather than the traditional pork katsu. Made with minced prawn, this was so delicious with crispy fresh lettuce and a mayonnaise.  We were tempted to order another round of it but we knew we had a lot more food coming.

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Loved the grilled Hokkaido scallops, served with sweet soy onion butter, a beautiful velvety sauce.

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The tempura zucchini flowers were the right amount of crispy but I wasn’t a big fan of the fish mousse inside

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The octopus, while tasty, was unfortunately a little chewy. The little cubes crisp potato were very morish.

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Also on the specials board that night was Hapuka fillet with buckwheat, shio koji (salted rice malt) and sorrel.  This was lovely, the fish was so delicate, and it would make a great individual main if you preferred that to sharing.

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The heirloom tomato salad came with yuzu kosho which is like a citrus chilli pepper and gave it a good kick.

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Last was wagyu tri-tip with Japone sauce which was so tender and so juicy. Beautifully cooked.

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The dessert menu was short, three desserts or so, but we opted to head over to Messina for a gelato, which was doing a roaring trade.

Osaka also have a banquet menu available for $50 per person.

We will certainly be back at Tramsheds (in fact we have already since this first visit, and the Small People have their eye on The Butcher and The Farmer for their birthday dinner), the thoughtful mix of venues and regularly changing pop ups ensures there is likely something to tempt everyone.

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Osaka Trading Co, Ph +61 2 8880 0717
http://www.osakatrading.com.au/

Osaka Trading Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Today’s cake – Japanese cheesecake

Well known Japanese cheesecake chain, Uncle Tetsu, recently opened in Sydney.  The Blogeratti were out in force – they came, they saw, they ‘grammed….and it seemed overall they did not like it much…..too subtle, too eggy, not sweet enough a lot of them said.  Frankly I quite like the idea of a dessert that is subtle and not too sweet and I would probably enjoy it, but I still wasn’t going to traipse down George Street and line up for a couple of hours for it, especially in Winter.  So I thought I’d make my own.

Do a bit of searching and the recipe that comes up time and time again on different blogs and websites is a link back to Diana’s desserts, or slightly altered versions credited to that recipe.  But I noted the “too eggy” comments and instead tried Rachel Khoo’s version, which has four eggs instead of six for about the same quantity of sugar.

Like a New York cheesecake, it is cooked in a water bath, but it is a much lighter, softer cake, and I liked it.  But I did get cracks in the top.  I think my error was not letting the cream cheese get to room temperature, I just took it out of the fridge and used it; next time I may also try it without the oven fan. It would be lovely served with some berries.

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Ingredients
280g cream cheese at room temperature, cubed
100ml full cream milk
35g cornflour
35g plain flour
4 eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
Zest of 1 lemon
120g caster sugar
Icing sugar, for dusting

Making it
Preheat the oven to 150°C/fan forced. Line the base of a 20cm springform cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides.  Wrap a large piece of foil under the base and up the sides of the tin. Repeat this 3 times

Place the cream cheese in a bowl. Heat the milk to boiling point and pour over the cream cheese. Beat with electric whisk (or by hand) until smooth. Add the cornflour and flour, followed by the egg yolks and zest.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then add the cream of tartar and then the caster sugar, bit by bit. Fold the whites into the cream cheese mixture. Pour into the cake tin, give it a good tap,  and place in a deep baking tray. Pour cold water into the tray until it reaches half way up the sides of the tin and bake for 60-70 minutes, until golden and puffy on top.

Cool in tin then remove and dust with icing sugar to serve

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Tokonoma, Sydney CBD

Whoever would have thought that Bridge Street would become a bit of a food strip? Hats abound, with the likes of Bridge Room, Rockpool, Sopra, joined by a few more casual eateries. Tokonoma is the new neighbour by the crew behind Surry Hills’ popular Toko. Opening just before Christmas, it is in a little underground space that I think used to be Indian. Sandstone tiled walls, concrete floors and subtle Japanese touches make for a pleasant environment and the staff are friendly and attentive. I’ve been a couple of times now and am quite keen to visit again; it is not necessarily innovative or new Japanese, but some of this dishes are done remarkably well and will entice me back. The punters obviously agree as the place has been packed both times. The serves are a little on the small side though so you may need quite a few dishes to fill you up which can make it pricey. They also offer a $98 chef’s banquet. Below are a few of the dishes I have tried, I also recommend the lamb and the scallops.

Hiramasa kingfish, pickled daikon, ponzu, truffle – fresh and delicioustokonoma (1)

Sashimi omakase, excellent quality, and I love that it was served on ice, as I find some places don’t serve their sashimi cold enoughtokonoma (2)

Steak tartare, kojichan, fried capers, kataifi (little bit of Greek creeping in here and adding some lovely texture), quail egg. This was a favourite and certainly one to order.tokonoma (5)

King crab, soba noodles, tobiko, cucumber, saikyo miso – the only disappointing dish, I was looking forward to it but it was bland.tokonoma (3)

Scampi tempura, chili ponzu, ginger. A light hand on the tempura, not as good as Sokyo, but good all the same.tokonoma (6)

Black cod, saikyo miso, pickled ginger, hoba leaf – another must order. That miso sauce is something else.tokonoma (4)

Soy milk pannacotta, tropical fruits, black sesame. Loved this refreshing dessert too.tokonoma (7)

Tokonoma, 44 Bridge Street Sydney, Ph (02) 9251 8185 (entry via Lotus Lane)
http://www.tokonoma-sydney.com/
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LuMi Bar and Dining, Pyrmont

With a name like Federico Zanellato you couldn’t be anything other than Italian. But don’t go to LuMi, Pyrmont’s new waterside diner, expecting Fede’s take on Nonna Rosaria’s gnocchi or Zia Maria’s tiramisu. Having worked in some fine dining establishments in Italy and throughout Europe, followed by Japan and most recently as head chef at hatted Ormeggio, Australia is now his adopted home – how fortunate for us. He realised our multicultural and food adventurous society would be willing to explore a fusion of Italian and Japanese, which on the face of it sounds a little worrisome. But any concerns are completely unfounded. He pulls it off. Beautifully.

Dinner is an eight course degustation for $95. Waterside, with nicely spaced tables, lovely crockery, and handsomely plated food, it is well worth it. In the style of Momofuku, the chefs deliver the plates to you and talk you through the course, which sound so much better accented with Italian (Zanellato’s brother is also in the kitchen, and his wife on the floor). And we both agree we’d rather come here than Momofuku across the road, which is double the price, any day of the week.

First up is a plate of “snacks”: a cheese tartlet with corn and parmigiano; salt and vinegar rice chips; and a potato and rosemary focaccia, the last probably being the closest thing you’ll find resembling traditional Italian. I enjoy them all, and the interesting flavours and textures make you look forward to what’s coming.

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Chawanmushi, a Japanese egg custard, in a savoury style with tomato water. Texturally perfect custard with a tomato accent, I love it.

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White cucumber with apple and sour cream. So pretty on the plate and a refreshing dish.

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Veal tartare with tarragon mayo roasted capsicum, buckwheat.  This is the only one that didn’t do it for me (and normally I love a good tartare) but just a personal flavour preference, my partner in crime thought it was great.

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The fragrance as each of the pasta dishes hits the table is incredible. Our first pasta course is spelt ravioli with burnt butter, pumpkin, Avruga caviar, and chives. Its a rich dish so just the right size.

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Our second pasta dish is spaghetti alla chitarra with orange buerre blanc, bottarga, and scampi. “Alla chitarra” refers to how the pasta is made, a stringed contraption that looks like a guitar (chitarra).

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We adore the Pork Jowl with, Celeriac, Quinoa, hidden under a layer of spinach. It’s a knockout dish and one of the stars of the night.

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The “Evergreen” pre dessert – Sorrel,Lemon Basil, Mint, Shiso, parsley – is like walking in to a delicious cold pressed juice bar, imparting a feeling of good health.LuMi (11)

Zanellato generously sends over an extra dish, his take on strawberries and cream – strawberry granita with whipped cream and ice cream. It’s a good lead in to dessert.LuMi (12)

To finish is a ginger ice cream, white chocolate, passionfruit, yoghurt crumble. Its thankfully not too sweet and the crumble gives it texture. LuMi (13)

I doubt I’m making a big call when I say there’ll be a hat or two coming LuMi’s way in the next Good Food Guide line up. The phones will start ringing like crazy when then happens, so go discover it before then.

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LuMi Dining, 56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, (02) 9571 1999
http://www.lumidining.com

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At Restaurant, Crows Nest

“The kids have ditched us”, I tell my husband one Friday night. It is school holidays, and the boys are with my Mamma Rosa (she relishes school holidays. Me not so much).  They call me and tell me they aren’t coming home that night, they’re staying there. Could I blame them? The food is better, the rules are less, and they can usually wrangle some cash out of their grandfather.

Finding ourselves on our own at the last minute, we decide to grab some Japanese on the way home and I make a quick call to At Restaurant, or rather, as the sign says @ Restaurant (not quite sure why the @, maybe some quirky Japanese thing?).  Its a cosy, basic little place and every table has a reserved sign, which means sushi boss Saito-san is going to be busy.

The service is unobtrusive and efficient and our food arrives at a good pace.  This is simple, well executed, well priced Japanese.  In Crows Nest, which seems to have become Little Japan of the food scene over the years, this one has an advantage. And its BYO.

We start with bonito tataki with a sesame ponzu – clearly a popular choice as all the surrounding tables order it – and it is fresh and delicious.

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Next a simple tuna and avocado salad.  Not sure what the tiny crunchy balls are, but they add a great texture.

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This is followed by a good quality mixed sushi and sashimi plate

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For the hot dishes, a light whiting tempura

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And finally a teriyaki salmon – the teriyaki has good body, and is not too sweet.

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At Restaurant, 417 Pacific Highway, Crows Nest, Ph (02) 9437 5285

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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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Sushi e, Establishment, Sydney CBD

I’ve been to Sushi e more times than I can count over the years. It is seriously good Japanese. But it also comes with an accompanying serious price tag. If you don’t mind that, pull up a seat at the bar if you’re on your own or with a friend; or grab a table for four or six; or, if you feel like settling in for a while, take a seat on one of the plush lounges at the adjacent Hemmesphere and kick back – its quite easy to pass several hours there, with the dulcid tones of Al Green, or other great music from the Hemmesphere CD selection, in the background, cocktail in hand.

Over time, I’ve probably worked my way through most of the menu. I always order the sashimi, it is first rate, and the delicious prawn shumai with the ponzu sauce. I could eat trays of the shumai, but at a hefty $18.50 for six, one tray has to do (Shaun Presland, who started here, also does a similar version at Sake). One dish I hadn’t tried before which I really liked was the crab san choy bow – recommended.

But….I don’t know what was going on with the kitchen that day, but we had to repeatedly ask for our food – we were about to keel over with starvation. Kitchen mix up, our dishes went to other tables, we had all sorts of profuse apologies, we got there in the end but it was a dampener on an otherwise excellent meal – I hope it was just a one off.

Assorted Sashimi
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Prawn shumai
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Soft shell crab san choy bow
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Salmon belly
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Salt roasted duck breast with sansho pepper, ginger, shallots and baby broccolini
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Grilled scampi finished with a spicy lemon garlic sauce, sautéed baby spinach
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Beef tataki with soy dressing
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And a little complimentary dessert, panna cotta
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Sushi e, Level 4, Establishment, 252 George Street, Sydney ph (02) 9240 3000
http://merivale.com.au/sushie

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