Category Archives: Food

Anything to do with the consumption or the preparation of food.

A Lot.1 of food

I’ve never had so much food from a set menu/degust before. Lot.1 on York St in the Sydney CBD was the venue of choice to mark 4.5 years of K and I. Having read good things and recommended by a good friend, it was time to give it a go ($20 back from AMEX and Dimmi helps too).

It was already pretty late for a dinner and the waitress did hint the 5 course option but we opted for the 7, seemed like decent value at $95.

First up, oysters, 2 each. Standard with lemon, nothing exciting.

Next up, chargrilled prawns with cumquat and bottarga. Cooked medium rare with good charring on the outside. The citrus in the cumquat gel was a great condiment.

A delay in service of this dish meant they gave us free champagne! Was mighty impressed with the attentiveness, we didn’t even make a comment or complaint!

The wagyu carpaccio was next and I was glad as it was one of the menu items I really wanted to try. Served with a pecorino cheese gelato and goji berries. The cheese just fused with the wagyu’s fat and the goji berries added a nice sweetness and crunch. It was excellent!

That was it for entrees. Next was mains, the Cavatelli, a pasta dish that reminded me of the Sepia forest floor dessert, except with pasta that looked a little like worms. Served with porcini cream, mushrooms and nutmeg. The taste of the mushroom really came through. A bit mixed on the pasta but overall still good.

Time for some protein, swordfish was up first and it was almost like a steak. The fish was quite salty but complimenting well with the sweet sauce and grilled bell peppers.

Pork neck came next and served with curly and super crunchy crackling. The fennel was a nice touch and it was cooked to perfection, really tender.

By this point we were super full and was hoping or assuming that this was the last dish, it was not. A plate of wagyu steak came out and while I really wanted this too, at this point I was about to explode. The Asian in me pushed on and I had 3 pieces, it was really tasty and the shaved carrots had a great colour and texture.

Overall really enjoyed this place and would recommend. Think the menu was adjusted for allergies but I think normally you’d still get 3 mains. The interior is nice with nice touches of colour, exposed brick and beams, makes for nice photos.

Dimmi also has limited number of 30% off deals for weekday bookings (don’t forget to link and use your Amex too).

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.

A not so Vivid

Vivid seems to be getting duller and duller for me as the years go by. This year everything felt super spread and to me that meant a low reward to effort ratio, that is having to walk too much to see so little. Thought I would have been a little more enthusiastic as well being the first chance to stretch the legs on my new Sony A7 mk2 but that could only do so much

First up was a quick dinner at the Malaya in King St wharf, just picked a random place with Dimmi and AMEX’ $20 off deal. It was a busy place, great for groups but not ideal for a quiet dinner. Entrees were the samosas and chilli fried chicken wings.

The former were super light with good skin and full of flavour; not cheap though. The chilli fried chicken wings had heaps of sauce, too much in my opinion and a lot of batter which masked any taste of chicken.

Mains were the king prawn laksa and chicken sambol.

The laksa was delicious, a lot better than I expected; plenty of flavour, chilli and not too heavy on the coconut. A richer version of the Hunter Strett laksa (which is definitely my favourite). If it wasn’t for the price, this would be a sure favourite. The sambol was also really nice, again they don’t skimp out on flavours, it was bold and spicy; I was a bit worried that the flavours would be watered down due to location, but I was pleasantly surprised overall.

So, back to Vivid. Bangaroo was a new addition this year and the night I went it was rather quiet. A walk with sting rays turned into immersion with projections and lastly aquanauts roaming the streets. Loved the detail in the suits and the cloud hovering about their heads.

The walk to Circular Quay (behind customs house) was a decent walk with my favourite being the colourful umbrella jellyfish (not sure if that’s what they were meant to be though). A couple of projections in the laneways, a canon stand taking photos of us and a sundial type clock (where you’re the dial) were pretty cool.

All shots were taken with Sony A7 mark II with either the Sony 35mm f/2.8 and a Zenitar 16mm fisheye adapted from a Nikon mount. One thing I didn’t realise with the fisheye before it was too late is that when adapted, the distance markings were out of whack, more so than when mounted on a Nikon camera. Most of the shots are out of focus with the focus going beyond what I was intending.

The rest of my Vivid trip was simply around the harbour with my favourite being an installation at the overseas passenger terminal which almost looks like heavy rain coming down. The opera house was quite pretty this year and I thought it was pretty cool that there was an interactive station where you could control what colour the bridge and surrounding buildings were; it did mean that sometimes the colour combinations were horrible.

All in all, quite happy with the A7m2, I wish the lens was a bit faster, f/2 would have been great, but the in body stabilisation does work well allowing me to go as slow as 1/10 with the 35mm without much trouble. I’m still getting used to the RAW files from the camera, but initial impressions is that that darks and shadows don’t hold as well as the Nikon files (that, or Lightroom doesn’t handle them as well).

That’s all from Vivid, photos aren’t exciting as previous years and I didn’t even bother with a tripod this time round.

Sous vide Bo Luc Lac

For those who don’t know Bo Luc Lac, it’s a Vietnamese dish of beef cubes (usually scotch fillet or rib eye) served with tomato rice and salad. Translated, it means shakey shakey beef, or shaken beef – like a stir fry.

I’ve done a bit of a modern take on it and went the sous vide route, why? Because I can use a cheaper cut of meat like rump or blade and still have tender meat (usually it’s made with scotch fillet). My sous vide machine is Sunbeam Duos bought for me by my lovely girlfriend.

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Before you begin, you’ll need (this will serve 4):

  • Cheap beef –  800g of rump (discounted one too)
  • Onions – 1 large
  • Garlic – 4 cloves – diced finely
  • Oyster sauce – 3tb spn
  • Soy sauce – 2tb spn
  • Sesame oil
  • Neutral oil – Canola
  • Salt and pepper

To sous vide, i pat my beef dry, sprinkled on a few drops of sesame oil, salt and pepper. Vacuum sealed it, then dropped it into the sous vide machine.

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Settings? 50 degrees for 4 hours – aiming for rare here as the meat will cook a little further on the wok (and also because this is for lunch, I want to keep it on the rarer side as the microwave will cook it further). When done, I put the meat into the fridge (again this is to prevent overcooking when tossed on the wok.

The result? Consistently rare beef throughout.

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Once cool, dice up the meat into 1.5 – 2cm cubes.

Then marinate the meat – oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, diced garlic and 3 tablespoons of regular oil (typically I’d add salt, pepper and sesame oil, but that was added earlier). Toss, and let it sit for a while – the flavours here are quite strong so you don’t need to leave it for hours.

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In the meanwhile, chop up a large onion into large chunks. I just half the onion and then cut it into 12 portions.

Final step is to get you work and shake it up, importantly though, because I don’t have a proper wok burner, I cook my beef in small batches. It’s important to keep the work hot and smoking.

Heat up your wok til it’s hot, add some oil and quickly toss the onion in, keep tossing until all the chunks break up. Next add your beef and keep stirring/shaking, you want to ensure a nice brown colour on all sides of the meat. The goal here is to brown the meat.

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The end result – for lunch I served this with a basic tomato pasta and a side of salad; lettuce, tomato and capsicum.

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Seafood pizza

Love pizza as it’s something you can really let your imagination run wild in terms of toppings and flavours. In this recipe I’ve made a seafood pizza and used some frozen dough and sauce from Costco.

Value wise – the dough’s pretty expensive for what it is, but it does much better than those frozen pizza bases. You let it sit out side for 4 hours (we took it out before leaving for work) and it rises to a really fluffy dough full of air. Stretch it out on a bench with some flour and you’re good to go.

Only tip is to place the dough in the oven for a few minutes for harden it up a bit and prevent the juices from seeping through.

What you’ll need:

  • Pizza dough – we bought frozen but you can make your own.
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozerella cheese
  • Garlic prawns – we purchased the pre-marinated ones from Woolworths
  • Smoked salmon
  • Mushrooms, onions, capsicum
  • Chilli flakes and oregano

Photos by ntranced photography. For enquiries email andrew@ntranced.com.au

Pizza’s simple, lay on the sauce onto the pizza base, spread out your toppings, add the cheese and into the oven. Don’t be shy and let the toppings and cheese go all the way to the edge.

Photos by ntranced photography. For enquiries email andrew@ntranced.com.au

We’ve got a pizza stone, so make sure you let that heat up before putting the pizza on. I maxed out my oven at 260 degrees and baked the pizza for about 15 minutes. The end result:

Photos by ntranced photography. For enquiries email andrew@ntranced.com.au

Back to blogging & Momofuku Seibo

As you can probably see, this blog’s been neglected for quite a while. To my surprise, there’s actually a few draft posts that I never got round to posting up, I know the girlfriend’s been anticipating a particular post about a particular restaurant, but ironically, the post below isn’t it! The post below was written over 2 and half years ago.


I guess when you’ve been with someone for 6 months it’s a mile stone and you’re supposed to celebrate it together by doing something nice. For this anniversary we would be going to the much-hyped and hard-to-book Momofuku Seibo in The Star. Blink and you’ll miss the place (like we did), the door completely blends in with the surrounding and the only mark which identifies the restaurant is their peach logo.

It’s a mirror finish so naturally you use it like a mirror.

_DSC3632The interior of the restaurant was a lot more casual than I had expected, as you walk in, the walk-in bar is to your left. If you’re keen to give some of the menu items a try, the bar is available for a 3 people and no bookings are taken/required.

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The setting is simple and feels rather relaxed, no fancy white table cloths, myriad of cutlery or fancily dressed staff, just a big open kitchen in the middle surrounded with more bar styled seating. Great to be able to see the chefs work their magic.

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Food here is a 13 course degustation and doesn’t take long to come out after your arrive. There’s no menu on the tables so all the plates that come out are a surprise. The first looked a little like a cigar or a spring roll, it was smoked eel wrapped in some sort of pastry. It had a really nice smooth creamy kinda texture on the inside and the superb crunch on the outside complimented by a lovely sweetness from the apple jam.
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The next was a little steamed bun with pork with a cute bottle of sriracha chilli sauce, I was very surprised to see sirarcha sauce in a high end restaurant but it just shows how good it is and how well it can go with food. The bun was amazingly soft, almost like eating a cloud and the pork was so succulent and juicy; it just melts in your mouth.

_DSC3641The next dish was potato with roe and parson’s nose (not sure what this is exactly) and it was strangely delicious, they were the best potatoes I’ve ever had, the way it was cooked gave it an amazing texture, a little elastic/resistance, super soft but not mushy at all. The roe gives most of the flavour and is well balanced by the creamy sauce.

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Mud crab with chickpea and amaranth is served next, while it looks rather simple in presentation, it’s got a great amount of flavour. The crab is nice soft yet firm enough to break up on contact. The amaranth adds a great crunchy texture which is finished by the buttery  sauce.
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I found the rose sake that it was served with to be very interesting, the initial taste was a bit strong, but the flavours subdue and it becomes a smooth and sweet flavour.
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A bowl of beef and radish makes it way out and looks lovely, we’re told to mix well and that’s when a black bean sauce encompasses the whole bowl, it looked kinda like squid ink. While it was no longer the pristine and lovely white dish it was before, flavour wise it was fantastic. Small bits of lightly cooked wagyu beef were tossed in however I think they could have had a little more.

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A plate of cauliflower and smoked egg yolk sprinkles was served next with a glass or orange wine. Never heard of orange wine before so it was interesting to try, personally found its consistency to be more like a white, but with deeper smokey flavours. I quite liked this dish as well as the slight saltiness of the fried egg yolk sprinkles meshed beautifully with the sweetness and creaminess of the cauliflower.
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Just when I had enough of vegies, some  meat came out, this time some lamb served with asparagus. It was a very strange dish, not quite what I was expecting, the lamb didn’t feel like lamb at all, more like chicken, the meat had a very soft texture (different from what it’s normally when grilled like say, medium rare).

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The next was marron which is kind of like a lobster from Western Australia. The meat had a firm springy texture while still remaining rather soft, the sauce was a little sweet with a bit of tang to create a dance on your tongue, very yum.

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This dish is their signature, it’s a lamb chop and as it came out, you can see how juicy and delicious it’ll be. Plenty of fat on the outside for a flavoursome meat, but it’s cooked a medium rare the whole way through, perfectly pink!
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You can see the lovely layer of fat which has been given a lovely golden shell. I thought it was pretty amazing and it was a high quality piece of meat.

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The sweeter stuff came next with this curd with mint and blackcurrant. The curd here was amazingly smooth and blending the sauces would give a subtle sweetness which was lovely, some sort of crispy sprinkle was a great, added another dimension with the crunch breaking up the smoothness of the curd..

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The next would be a very simple gelato dish with the addition of muntries. The gelato was amazingly smooth while the little muntries  mixed the texture up a little while a slight sourness from the berries offset the sweetness of the gelato.

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The next dish was pear and jerusalem artichoke with sunflower seeds and the simple addition of sunflower petals to add a sprig of colour to the dish.
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The final dish that came out was the biggest surprise, after we’ve had all our sweets, we get more meat! It was a lovely serving of delicately cooked pork, almost like a pulled pork. Very tender and hand torn for consumption without utensils. The sauce was sweet with a deep flavour, kind of a like a glaze and was just superb.

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As the night comes to a close, the restaurant provides you with a couple of momentos so you can remember your experience. Some kim chi, a lovely little card and so that you realise what you ate, the menu. It was a lovely experience and definitely not cheap at $185 a head but based on the variety of food that came out and the environment, I felt it was rather worth it. I know a lot of people aren’t the biggest fan, girlfriend included, but I feel like the food here is more humble and not such an abstract experience; I love the idea of each dish being a surprise.

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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.

Drive down to Robertson’s pie shop

On a nice sunny day we went for a drive down to Woollongong (well Robertson to be precise) to check out a pie shop known as Robertson’s Pie Shop. The drive is about 1.5 hours from my local area and passes through the Royal National Park and Macquarie Pass (now you know why we’d make this trek down :P).
Unfortunately for us Sunday traffic through the national park meant cyclists blocking the road while they struggle with the uphill and family sedans moving at a snail’s pace.

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Fortunately though Macquarie Pass was a little better and to my surprise, it was a bus that was leading the pack, man that bus driver was a gun. So we eventually arrived to this pie shop, plenty of bikes and cars parked out front so we knew it was where we wanted to be.

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Looking at the map below you can see how much fun Macquarie pass can be, a bit scary at times as there’s a section with no line dividing the two sides of the road.

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The shop front is just your local pie shop/cafe looking kinda place, plenty of awards and articles about the shop were scattered at the counter.

photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

Plenty of pie choices but I went for the Volcano, a chunky beef pie with a kick.

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I was too busy munching on the pie to get a photo of the pie itself (odd I know) but damn it was tasty. Definitely a lot of kick but the filling was thick and flavoursome. The pastry flaked well but wasn’t overly crispy, a nice balance between softness and crispiness.

photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

Well priced and overall pretty damn good pie and a lovely drive to get there. For takeaway we bought two large pies, a beef and mushroom for savoury and a blackberry and apple pie for dessert. Popping that into the oven at home was delicious, the apple pie pastry broke well and wasn’t a hard biscuity mess and the filly was just divine.

Definitely have to head back here.

 

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.

photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

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.
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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.

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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.

Connoisseur ice cream – Australian collection

Being sick last week with an infected throat I wanted something soft and cold to make me better, I’d seen images of some funky Connoisseur ice cream flavours floating around Facebook but I hadn’t seem them in the supermarkets. As part of my quest to make some pumpkin soup, I wandered over to the ice cream section and I found them!

Because they’re smaller tubs they’re not lumped in the same compartment as the regular Connoisseur ice cream (which is my favourite ice cream from the supermarket).

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