Tag Archives: japanese

Wildly oscillating to 28

As cold as winter is, there’s always one day to look forward to and that’s my birthday. Each year that means getting surprised and spoilt for a nice dinner with the girlfriend. The restaurant of choice this year was a small joint in Newtown called Oscillate Wildly, and to be honest I don’t think I’ve heard of it (then again, I don’t think I know many restaurants).

Not knowing what to expect, I didn’t even realise there was a small restaurant next to Black Star Pastry, and small it is, with only enough seats for about 20 guests. Taste-wise I could probably best describe it as Modern Australian with some Jap/Asian influence.

To get started was some pork crackling. Super crispy and airy like a chip but

Strangely enough, I really love it when there’s great bread and butter at restaurants. It’s important to be warm and crunchy on the outside and this bun sure delivered. No butter this time but something better, pork fat and what I think was some sort of pate. Delicious! We made a huge mess of the table as well. Apparently it’s only available during winter.

Last appetiser before the real meal started was a gin and tonic, in sugar cane form, it was quite fun biting into the cold fibrous cane to bring out the flavour.

First real dish was avocado, ponzu and fingerlime. This one blew my mind with its simplicity yet it just seemed to work really well. The acidity and sourness from the ponzu and fingerlime just kind of melted with the avocado.

Next up was peas, parmesan and lovage. Interesting dish with the sauce a really nice deep shade of green. There were some balls that exploded with flavour and really rounded off the peas and slight bitterness of the lovage and delicate parmesan. Really airy and subtle with the parmesan flavours being quite light.

Foie, cauliflower and maple would be the next dish. There was a nice crunch from what looks like popcorn which contrasts the smooth cauliflower puree, the shavings at the top give it a bit of resistance. Flavour-wise, lots of umami with enough maple to bring our the savoury flavours.

Next dish was basically just mushroom shitake sliced up, bits of enoki in a really dark broth. Really flavoursome and the mushrooms still retained their texture without tasting raw.

Going to something more substantial was simply fish and chips and that was really it to the dish. The fish was cooked really well but simply salted to retain the whiting’s flavour. The chips however were something spectacular, they were wafer thin strips and almost like a potato chip yet still had heaps of potato flavour.

My eyes lit up for the next dish as the waiter mentioned 9+ marbling wagyu beef. More enoki and a really nice black vinegar glaze which went really well with the perfectly cooked beef. The fat had rendered completely and just packed the meat full of flavour.

Desserts were now about to come. The first was chestnuts and vanilla ice cream. Really simple dish and I really liked how the shaved chestnuts gave bite to the dish and subdued the flavours a bit, kind of makes you savour it a bit more.

The last dessert had me a bit worried to be honest, liquorice, coconut and malt, not usually flavours I enjoy but it ended up being one of my favourites of the night. Super soft sponge cake with enough of a liquorice taste but minus the bitterness. The coconut ice cream was rather light and just finished it nicely. If it were up to me, it’d be something I could eat bowls of all day.

Kaz’s dessert was well plated which is always nice given her giant list of allergies. Beetroot, rhubarb and raspberry.

Some petit fours and a candle to finish the night, the jelly cubes were a nice way to wrap up the meal. We did get the matching wines to share and I think they’ve done a really good job to match the wine with the food. I won’t go into the detail, but I found it to be complementary both ways.

One thing that we noticed towards the end was the candle holder, felt a bit game of thrones-esque.

A very enjoyable dinner and I’d totally recommend this place. The dishes were all very well balanced, the flavours seemed to just subtly mix together and felt like they were carefully chosen but also very restrained; one way of putting it is it requires you be patient and seek out the flavours a bit.Thanks again for the lovely dinner and night out, I love how you always try to find a place that’ll surprise me. As with any other restaurant choice, it was perfect.

Hakata-Maru Ramen

Market City food court has always been good for cheap Asian lunch time eats, but if you didn’t know, you can find a very well priced and delicious ramen place called Hakata-Maru Ramen. It specialises in tonkotsu ramen serving a couple of differing variations yet still retains the low prices found else where in the food court.

The store is immediately to the left of the food court (second on the left) and is hard to miss with the Japanese styled decorations and large sign

The stall is quite open and behind the counter is the kitchen where the magic happens. Chefs preparing the noodles to perfection while quick and delicate hands work to put together the bowls of ramen.

The result is a moderately sized bowl of ramen with a few toppings. I opted for the red tonkotsu which is just the addition of a chilli sauce/paste.

A small condiment bar allows for some sauces and toppings like sesame and pickled ginger. A few sides are available to go with your ramen, my choice? The chicken wings with coleslaw for $4. Cool thing is that one bone is removed, allowing easy consumption like a drumstick.

Well onto the ramen, i personally think its quite delicious. The pork flavour is present and not too strong and the soup has a nice golden flavour. Its not overly thick which would appeal to those who cant handle a heavy thick broth like Gumshara’s.

Unfortunately the toppings are a little lacking from the stock menu with only half an egg and few bits of pork. To help fill you up though, kaedama (or an extra serve of noodles) is available for $1. Be careful to ensure the cleaning saff don’t take away your bowl.

Overall its a great place,good food and staff with smiles in their faces makes for a good meal. You also cant beat a genuine bowl of tonkotsu for less than $9.

Ikkyu Ramen

So there was a whole heap of hype about this new ramen place called Ramen Ikkyu opening up in Chinatown inside the Sussex centre, I remember the week of it opening, there were waits of up to an hour before you’d get your food. While I’m a bit late to join the bandwagon, I’ve finally had a chance to try this place out.

So where is Sussex centre? It’s on 401 Sussex street with an alternative entrance in the back from Dixon St next to the Chatime.

photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

Most of this hype came about from an article in SMH’s good food guide. To be honest, I’m not familiar with the actual terminology of Ramen, the type of soup they prepare here is known as ‘Paitain Soup’ which I understand means a white soup.

photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

The store is placed in a food court which means a rather minimal shopfront, there’s a single waitress whom assists with ordering at the front counter while the back kitchen is hidden away.
photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

Ordering is performed using iPads and allows for you to customise your order as you please. Order, pay, grab your receipt and then wait for your delicious noodles. As you can see my choice was the pork rib ramen and I decided to add some Cha Shu slices and get some chilli oil to spice things up a little.

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Great thing about this place is the many options to top your ramen and get and assortment of sides to match your preference. Toppings include extra Bamboo shoot, butter, corn as well as sauces like black garlic oil or chilli oil.
photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

I’ve seen what comes out for the pork rib and I was rather excited, but for those who haven’t heard of this place, the pork rib is HUGE and completely overwhelms the bowl. Just imagine, it’s $14 for just the rib. The bowl is beautifully presented with a rich vibrant colour.

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The default option provides plenty of toppings; bamboo shoots, ontama egg, black fungus, shallots and seasame. With the rib, it came as 2 whole ribs with meat up to the fatty layer. The best thing about the rib is that it just comes off the bone and is super tender, however it is sprinkled with good chunks of sea salt so mix well before consuming.

photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

So what are my thoughts? It’s pretty yummy, the hand made noodles have a great texture, firm and springy but not so much resistance that it feels tough. The broth flavours are nice, it’s on the light side compared to a thick tonkotsu broth and is lighter. The pork rib is delicious and amazingly soft where the cha shu also has a delicious sweet sauce glazed over it.

The overall meal was huge and with the extra free serving of Kaedama (which is always awesome) was really filling, fantastic food coma after the meal. To be honest though, I don’t think it lived up to the hype and for the price would prefer Gumshara which has a really rich pork broth – for those that find this a little too much, you may find Ikkyu more appealing.photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

Verdict: Good place, but personally prefer Gumshara and Ramen-kan for a cheap eat.
Cost: Somewhat expensive, you do get a lot though.
More info: http://menikkyu.com.au/
Location: Shop F1A, 401 Sussex Street, Sydney, 2000.

Paper Planes – Bondi Beach

Now I don’t usually write about restaurants, but figured since I had some pictures of food, why not? So arriving too late to see the Sculptures by the Sea, Winnie, Louis and I decided to go eat, our spontaneous restaurant of choice? Paper Planes at Bondi Beach, a nice modern Japanese joint.

Having looked at the menu, we decided to wait the 45 minutes for a table and give this place a shot. The decor of this place was pretty fascinating with Japanese themed decorated skateboards on the ceiling and paper cranes hanging about, quite a modern interior.

In the corner on one end is a sit-down bar where you can eat as well.

Despite the modern setting, sitting down there’s nice little touches of a more traditional Japanese setting with the soy sauce bottle.

The menu’s rather nice as well, sticks to the name of the restaurant and as you can see, it’s a partially folded paper aeroplane, very cool.

First thing was first, cocktails, I ended up with a ‘Tokyo Pop’ and Winnie a ‘Chee Chee Mule’. The first being Pimms and St Germain based with plenty of fruity flavours rimmed with pop rocks, the latter was Vodka based with Lychee and ginger beers. The Tokyo pop was definitely tasty and very refreshing, the Chee Chee Mule sounds better than it tastes, not a fan of this one.

Now the food, we decided to share food and picked a few different dishes, the first were entree dishes, Agedashi Tofu and King Fish Belly Carpacio. Both were very tasty, the tofu had a nice smooth texture and a flavoursome but not overpower sauce, definitely one of the better tofu dishes I’ve had. The King Fish was delicious, the chilli oil isn’t too strong and the crunch of the jalapeños gives a nice texture and a bit of spice to bring the flavours together.

The next dish is the Salmon Tartare Nachos, these are a must have, the dressing of the Salmon is just lovely and goes well with the slight saltiness of the prawn crackers.

Last entrée was the PaperPlanes Prawn Gyoza, this is probably the best Gyoza I’ve had in Sydney, what really makes it special is that lemon wasabi foam sauce. It has a nice crisp on the outside and the inside doesn’t feel mushy.

Next up was some kushiyaki, we went with the Mocha rice cake & smoked speck, Shiitake mushrooms stuffed with prawn and the Chicken thigh fillet. The first was flavoursome and delicious, the texture was good too, not too glutinous like a lot of rice cakes can be. The next two were similar in taste with the preference to the chicken thigh fillet as they were just so tender and juicy, perfectly cooked.

Our final dish was the Confit duck ramen, we weren’t too sure what to make of this when ordering, but were pleasantly surprised when it came out, beautifully presented. Digging in, it was exceptional! The curry sauce was full of flavour but not overpowering and the chilli oil adds a nice chilli hit on top of the curry. The fried noodles change up the texture and made for an amazing dish, the soft quail eggs and the crispy skin of the duck was just too good.

That was it for the savoury food, we couldn’t go without some dessert and we chose the Black egg and the Green tea rocher. The black egg is like a coconut pana cotta and a reduced dark chocolate sauce coated with a little macadamia oil. It’s a rather light dessert and the macadamia flavours didn’t flow through as much as we were hoping.

The Green tea rocher reminds me of a cross between a Ferrero Rocher and a churro (the ones from the theme parks), it’s got a nice crunch on the outside and warm chocolate and a hazelnut on the outside. The coating of green tea sugar is almost like a substitute for the cinnamon sugar, I quite liked this one.

That’s it for the food, but the restaurant has one last surprise, the waiter brings out a divided tray of water and we were a little confused. He had forgotten something and came back, he pops a tablet looking thing into each and suddenly they puff up to become a wet towel! It was like magic, we were amazed!

Verdict: Would highly recommend this place and say it’s definitely delicious.
Cost: Slightly pricey, we spent about $60each
More info: www.paperplanesbondi.com
Location: Shop 15, 178 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach – “The beach house”
Map: