Tag Archives: Japanese

Devon Café, North Sydney

I had heard good things about Devon in Surry Hills for the longest time, but never managed to get there.  But now I don’t have to, as they have – wisely! – crossed the bridge. North Sydney, for a long time a concrete jungle ghost town outside of 9 to 5,  is slowly but surely coming to life with the spate of new apartments, and places like Devon are well placed for this.  Unlike Surry Hills, the northern sibling is also open for dinner.

On a few visits, I’ve made my way through tasting a fair bit of the unique breakfast/brunch menu – with help from the Marito, Small People, and friends, I didn’t eat this all myself!  There are a lot of bold and gutsy flavours, not much shyness here.  And I love the generosity of their serves, none of this teensy tiny business. A breakfast here accompanied by one of their good cups of coffee and I’m full for the day,

The Marito was a big fan of the Devon Fish Cake and had it two visits in a row – the cake was salmon and potato with a nice crisp to the outside, served with a poached egg, a full bodied yuzu aioli and a watercress and cabbage slaw.

Devon (2)

Salmon is on show again with “Breakfast with the Sakumas” (named after the politician I’m guessing?) – salmon grilled with miso, an eel croquette, a 63 degree egg, radish and kewpi mayonnaise. Delicious but very rich.

Devon (1)

The Croissant St Denis is pure morning indulgence.  An omelette with lobster, prawn and caviar, served with a very punchy seafood bisque.  Soak up the bisque with the flaky, buttery croissant and you’ll have a very good day indeed.

Devon (3)

Get some pork on your fork with Piggy Banc –  free range pork belly,  pork + fennel sausage, hasselback potato, roast fennel and peas

Devon (6)

If it’s something of the more “straight up” variety you’re after, that is not an issue.  Good old scrambled and fried eggs are on offer, and they are huge – they even satisfied my bottomless pit Small People.

Devon (4)

Devon (5)

Plenty to choose from on the lunch menu too.  I love the playful take on Italian in the name of “ragu alla Sichuanese” – coriander tagliolini, chilli mince pork, peanuts, burrata, slow cooked egg. Silky noodles with a good kick.

Devon (8)

For something lighter try the poke bowl, and again a very generous serve. Sashimi king salmon, brown rice, avocado (get your mortgage in order), salmon caviar, seaweed, edamame beans, cucumber and kale
Devon (7)


Devon Café North Sydney, 36 Blue St North Sydney. Ph 02 8971 0377

http://www.devoncafe.com.au

Toshiya, Cremorne

I’ve loved seeing the palate of the Small People develop over time.  With lots of exposure, and gentle encouragement, they have gotten more adventurous with their food.  While at home they usually like me to dish up the same Italian rustic favourites, when we eat out they enjoy all sorts of new flavours.  Chicken liver pate? That was interesting, mum.  Confit of duck, roast quail? Yes please.   And where a visit to Japanese once meant them ordering steamed rice and perhaps chicken karaage, now it’s miso tofu and kingfish with a ponzu dressing, and I’m lucky if they leave me a sliver of beef tataki.

So here we are at Toshiya on the busy Military Road strip, and I watch them planning to order at least half the menu; at the moment their legs seem hollow and the hunger is perpetual.   It’s a fairly standard family friendly neighbourhood Japanese, with bouts of inventiveness on the specials menu.  I watch other youngsters battling their parents for the last piece of salmon sushi.   The service is efficient, the prices reasonable and the produce fresh.  The highlight for me was the straight up sashimi, excellent quality; the lowlight duck dumplings, which didn’t taste at all like duck and were a bit meh.   The calamari was also very tasty.  A few pictures of some of what we ordered below.

toshiya (1)toshiya (2)toshiya (3)toshiya (4)toshiya (5)toshiya (6)toshiya (7)toshiya (8)

Toshiya, 283 Military Road, Cremorne, Ph 02 8969 6989
http://www.toshiya.com.au

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.

osaka-10osaka-11

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.

osaka-12

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

osaka-13

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

osaka-14

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

osaka-15

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.

osaka-17

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

osaka-16

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

osaka-18

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.

osaka-2osaka-3osaka-4osaka-5osaka-6osaka-7osaka-8osaka-9

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.

japanesecheesecake (1)

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

japanesecheesecake (2)

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/
Tokonoma Sydney on Urbanspoon

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.

LuMi (4)

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

LuMi (3)

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

LuMi (5)

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.

LuMi (6)

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.

LuMi (7)

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).

LuMi (8)

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.

LuMi (9)LuMi (10)

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.

LuMi (1)LuMi (2)

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

LuMi Bar & Dining on Urbanspoon

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.

at1

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

at2

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

at3

For the hot dishes, a light whiting tempura

at4

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

at5

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

At Restaurant on Urbanspoon