Dinner @ Restaurant Sasaki (Sydney, Australia)

June 26, 2017 in Japanese

My second chance of having a nice meal in Sydney came along when my colleague said her relatives wanted to meet her for dinner. Erm… Yeah for me? Keke. And for my precious second slot, I chose to have dinner at Sasaki. Chanced upon the restaurant while surfing instagram with the hashtag #SydneyEats and I immediately fell in love with their facade; Concrete with form tie holes.

Recently opened in April 2017, chef-owner Yu Sasaki’s memories of growing up in his hometown Shimane (north of Hiroshima in Japan) formed the core of his 25-seaters restaurant. And it’s read from their website that each dish was inspired by head chef Sasaki’s mother’s style of home cooking; Simple and made with love. Wooden cutlery was also made by head chef Sasaki’s retired dad. Like the spoon which was whittled from a single piece of wood.

Reservation was made with ease through the online booking system on their website. And as requested, I got my counter seat where counter was made with Tasmanian oak. And from the menu, I ordered:-

1) Egg & crab, AUD11 (above)

2) Gurnard, sakura & kombu, AUD19 (above)


3) Eggplant, buckwheat, nori & plum, AUD19 (above) – This was a cold dish. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this.

4) Duck, soy & leek, AUD25 (above) – Done in 2 ways, this dish was perfect! If I had to choose just one dish as my favourite, this would be it. A must order.

5) Clams, sake & watercress, AUD21 (above) – Except for a few which weren’t cleaned properly, this dish was not too bad. Although I was a little embarrassed cause I suspect the patrons sitting beside me could hear the ‘biting on sand’ sound as I chewed the clams.


6) Rice, chicken & mushroom, AUD11 (above) – I really liked this. Texture of rice was slightly chewy, but totally flavourful.


  

7) Genmai & ginger, AUD4 (topmost, right)

8) Caramel & nuts, AUD6 (topmost, middle)

9) Potato & butter, AUD5 (topmost, right)

I was really happy with my dinner at Sasaki. I really loved the space. I only wished I had a dining companion so that I could try more dishes from the menu. Although the amount of food I ordered was more than sufficient to feed 2 people. The couple sitting beside me stared hard at every dish that came after my fourth dish. I was eating way more than them. Oops.

RESTAURANT SASAKI
102/21 Alberta Street, Sydney, Australia
+61 2 8068 9774, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 17:30 – 22:00
Ambience: 8
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Quay Restaurant (Sydney, Australia)

June 23, 2017 in Australian

I wouldn’t say traveling to Sydney was impromptu since I bought my flight ticket at least 3 months ahead. But it was a trip I didn’t think I would make if my colleague hadn’t asked me. Keke.

The first thing I did when I knew I’ll be travelling to Sydney was to search ‘Best restaurant in Sydney’ on the internet. Ha. And names like Tetsuya, LuMi, Sepia, Long Chim, Momofuku Seiobo came up. Oh, wow! So many! However, I could only have 1 atas fancy meal because my colleague didn’t share the same philosophy in food as me; Not everyone splurges on food and it isn’t nice to excuse myself too often to do my stuff since it’s a trip to travel together.

I narrowed down to Quay because I felt it was only right to eat Australian cuisine in Australia. Hee. And reservation was made via email.

For my 9pm appointment, I reached Quay punctually. However, I was informed my table wasn’t ready. Was led to a table in the bar area where I waited for 20 minutes. And for my dinner, I was given a table by the window with a very good view of Sydney Opera House. I was initially worried there wouldn’t be a view because I was exploring the area the previous day and there was a huge cruise ship blocking all view from Quay.

And between the AUD245 tasting menu and AUD180 4-courses menu (pages 1, 2), I went with the tasting menu. It’s the only right thing to do since I am on a trip. Keke. And with that, I commenced my AUD245 tasting menu dinner with:-


  

1) Dish #1, Complimentary (above) – Amuse bouche was potato cream sprinkled with burnt leek. And hidden at the bottom was yolk and salmon roe (ikura).

2) Dish #2 (above) – Salad of slow cooked carrots, sheep milk feta, smoked almonds, sherry caramel, pepitas, oca. And this was surprisingly good! I normally stay away from carrot if I could; A weird habit cultivated from my teens cause I read carrots are high in sugar. But this dish was so good! I really enjoyed it. Carrot was well cooked while retaining its crunchiness.


3) Dish #3 (above) – Chawanmushi of cauliflower, mud crab, broth. With crab from Northern Queensland, this was magically good. I wasn’t expecting the taste to blow me away. Not with its deceivingly plain plating.


  

4) Bread, Complimentary (above) – When I had my orders taken, I was informed by the waiting staff that the bread will come after my second course. I guess previous diners must have enquired lots. And for a solo diner, I was also given a whole sourdough which I could enjoy with either butter or sea salt infused with saffron, flowers and thyme. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the bread much. Barely finished one-quarter of it.


5) Dish #4 (above) – Smoked confit pork jowl, fermented mushroom custard, milk skin threads, young walnuts. I was pretty alarmed at how fatty it looked from the top. But after slicing through it, the texture of the meat beneath was amazing.


6) Dish #5 (above) – Uni, koshihikari rice, cured egg yolk, fish maw, ama ebi, umami broth. For this dish, the waiting staff poured the broth from a tea pot before me. And I watched the fish maw, etc melt away like ice. Rice beneath was similar to risotto. Really nice.


7) Dish #6 (above) – Roasted duck, XO stone pot rice, pickled mountain turnips. Quay’s definition of claypot rice must be scorched rice because it was mostly crunchy. It was a good thing pickled turnip was included because the dish was on the heavy side.

8) Dish #7 (above) – Arkady lamb, cavolo nero, garlic, seaweed, caper leves, nasturtium, orach.


9) Dish #8 (above) – Snow egg. Placed on curd (made with vanilla custard and cream) and granita, I was told to break the sphere to get to the ice cream within. And this dessert was no easy feat to make. To make the crunchy shell, maltose tuile was melted over the two hemi-spheres of soft poached meringue that’s placed together to form a complete sphere with a blowtorch for it to wrap around the meringue. I recommend watching Quay’s video on it so that one could better appreciate the dessert!


10) Dish #9 (above) – Eight textured chocolate cake. I read much about Quay’s chocolate cake prior to my visit. So when I realised the desserts on my tasting menu were ‘snow egg’ and ‘honey honey’, I asked if it was possible to somehow include it into my menu (I even said I don’t mind ordering it as a-la carte. Ha). And my waiting staff suggested swapping ‘honey honey’ for ‘eight textured chocolate cake’. And that, I did! Keke. The eighth texture to the cake was the hot dollop of chocolate which the waiting staff placed onto the cake. And the magical moment was when the hot chocolate melted the topmost layer of chocolate within seconds. Amazing, amazing piece of art.


11) Dish #10 (above) – Petit fours.

12) Coffee/tea, AUD10 (above) – Would have skipped my usual black coffee if I knew it was chargeable.

Had the chance to speak to one of the staff while waiting for my second dessert. And through her, I learnt the chocolate cake was originally on the degustation menu but was removed because it was too big a portion for guests to finish both the ‘eight textured chocolate cake’ and ‘snow egg’. She went on to say I made the right choice in swapping the ‘honey honey’ for it. =p And knowing I was from Singapore, the staff also shared they had a head chef who left Quay to open Whitegrass. When she mentioned that, I immediately recalled the pork dish at Whitegrass being very similar to Quay’s. Now I know… So I guess if one wishes to try Australian cuisine but can’t fly to Australia anytime soon, one may visit Whitegrass? Same same but not.

For payment with credit card, an automated portable machine was used. During which, the waiting staff stepped aside for me to key in the tip amount. And between options of ‘percentage’ and ‘manual’, I went with keying in the tip amount manually. Do also note there’s a surcharge for using international credit card. I thought I exchanged sufficient Australian currency, but I was wrong. Ha.

Quay is definitely a restaurant one must visit when in Sydney. I couldn’t stop raving about my dining experience to my (foodie) friends after my dinner. It was so, so good.

QUAY RESTAURANT
130 Argyle Street, The Rocks, Overseas Passenger Terminal, Upper Level, Sydney, Australia
+61 2 9251 5600, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Fri – Sun : 12:00 – 13:30 (L.O.)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 21:30 (L.O.)
Value: 8
Service: 8

Dinner @ Kappo Shunsui

June 21, 2017 in Japanese

Hitting a dead end in my search for sushi restaurants, I texted my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) if she knew of any new ones. And that was when she shared a picture of a gold door. However, that was all that she knew of the new Japanese restaurant. Now, I pride myself as a search guru. So… The challenge (to identify it is) on. Keke.

Unfortunately, nothing turned up when I google-ed ‘new Japanese restaurant’ and ‘golden door’. No! Die, die must find out. So I analysed the photo (of a mere gold door) and concluded it should be located in an old shopping mall based on the faint reflection of the shopping mall interior. Hmm.

And fate had it that I was meeting a friend at Cuppage Plaza that night. Just when my friend and I were at level 5 and making our way to the carpark after dinner, I caught a glimpse of a familiar-looking wallpaper at level 4. One can say I was on full alert mode. Ha! Excused myself to check it out and there it was… The Japanese restaurant which my IGGF and I were looking for. Kappo Shunsui!

Unfortunately, due to my IGGF’s and my conflicting schedules, we were only able to meet for dinner 3 weeks later. And it was a huge bummer when we saw posts of Kappo Shunsui appearing on instagram just days before our visit due to the restaurant having conducted media invite. Secret, no more. Sob.

My IGGF and I arrived at the restaurant at 7pm. I honestly loved how low key the exterior was. Reminded me much of Japan. Pressing the console was akin to pressing a door bell where the staff would be alerted to open the door.

Opposite to the minimally designed exterior, the interior was designed with much attention put to the smallest details. The corridor to the toilet had floor lights in addition to ceiling lights. And yes, they have their own toilet which was nicely furnished too.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), my IGGF and I ordered:-

1) Omakase, $249 comprised of:-


(A) Dish #1 (above) – Simmered octopus, broad bean, seaweed, potato lotus, and jelly made with bonito broth, soya sauce and vinegar.

(B) Dish #2 (above) – Pike eel.


(C) Dish #3 (above) – Sashimi assortment of torched barracuda, kingfish (hiramasu) and red snapper (tai). My favourite was the barracuda! We saw head chef Tomo Watanabe spritzing some liquid over the dish before it was served to us. And out of curiosity, we asked the staff what it was. The staff humorously replied “Ajinomoto.” Hahaha. But of course, that’s just water.

(D) Dish #4 (above) – Medium fatty tuna (chutoro) and vinegared gizzard shad (kohada) sushi.

(E) Dish #5 (above) – With ponzu sauce, grated radish and chili, we were served long tooth grouper (kue) and vegetables in a pot of simmering soup.


(F) Dish #6 (above) – Grilled arctic surf clam (hokkigai). And for this dish, we were treated to a (mini) performance where head chef Watanabe san slammed the clams onto the counter and exaggeratedly sprinkling salt into them before grilling it over charcoal. It was a good thing I finished my soup cause some salt went into my pot. Ha. And we loved how he put the grilled clams onto shell-looking ceramic plates. And yes, we were told the ceramic items were all head chef Watanabe san’s personal collection. Nice.


(G) Dish #7 (above) – Tomato with tomato jelly and micro tomato. How cute! And yes, we were told hand-squeezed tomato juice was used to make the jelly. A really refreshing taste. I enjoyed it much.


(H1) Dish #8 (above) – For the meat dish, my IGGF was served beef from Omi. We were told the slab was grilled on the surface before continuing to slow cook it for 1.5 hours in dashi stock. And she couldn’t stop raving about it.


(H2) Dish #8 (above) – And because I don’t eat beef, I had a fish dish instead. Was told it’s a family of cod; Abura bouzu.


  

(I) Dish #9 (above) – Claypot rice with braised red snapper head. And we gasped to know we each had half a head to ourselves! Such generous portion! We were loving it, of course. Haha. I normally share fish head with friends cause I am not too good at eating it. So for the first time, I was taught to eat the ‘correct’ parts; The jelly parts around the eye. Yummy! No more peaceful sharing of fish head in the future. Haha.


(J) Dish #10 – Almond pudding with cherry from Yamagata.

2) Homemade ‘warabimochi’ with ‘hon-warabiko’, $12 (above)

For all the excitement that my IGGF and I built up leading to our visit, I was glad the dinner didn’t disappoint. We left happy and satisfied. =)

Head chef Watanabe san couldn’t speak much English. So we depended on the waiting staff for translation. And it was through the staff that we learnt head chef Watanabe san moved from Japan (Tokyo) to Singapore with the aim of achieving a Michelin star. “Japan too tough. Too many stars,” the staff said. Haha.

But back in Japan, head chef Watanabe san opened an izakaya which was on Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list for 3 years (2015 to 2017). “Chef’s dream was to do multi-course (kaiseki),” the staff further explained. Ahhh… And hung on the walls (near the entrance) were extracted pages from the Michelin Guide. Evidence? Keke.

Do I recommend Kappo Shunsui? A big yes from me!

KAPPO SHUNSUI 割烹 旬水
5 Koek Road, Cuppage Plaza, #04-02, Singapore
6732 0192, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tue – Thur, Sun : 18:00 – 01:00
Ambience: 7
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 02:00
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon