Dinner @ Orana (Adelaide, Australia)

September 20, 2020 in Australian

After I arrived in Sydney in July ’19, I didn’t do much interstate travelling except for a trip to Canberra in October. You see… My flight tickets were mostly all bought for 2020. So while some of my trips were cancelled because of COVID-19, I was fortunate I managed to travel a bit before the lockdown (in April ’20). So yes, I’m actually very thankful I got to head up to Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

  

For my dinner reservation in February, I made mine in December ’19 through Orana’s website since Orana accepted reservation up to 3 months in advanced. And as taken from their website, Restaurant Orana is home to chef-owner Jock Zonfrillo’s intimate dining room where he uses Indigenous ingredients to showcase Australia’s modern gastronomic identity.

The accommodation that I stayed in Adelaide happened to be within walking distance from Orana. And if one’s headed to Orana on a weekend and in summer, I recommend reaching the area earlier to check out Ebenezer Night Market too. It’s a pretty small market, but I walked away with 3 pairs of earrings. Haha.

I arrived at the restaurant punctually for my 7pm dinner. And as I took my seat, I noticed every unoccupied table had what looked like dough proofing in banneton baskets. And true enough, the staff said the dough would be taken to the kitchen be baked. Pretty awesome, I got to say.

The degustation menu named ‘Alkoopina’ meant snacks in Aboriginal language. And yes, ‘Orana’ had a meaning behind its name in Aboriginal language too. ‘Orana’ meant welcome. And I commenced my dinner menu, AUD295 with:-


  

1) Potato damper & lamb butter (above) – Placed on hot coals, I was told to turn the potato damper on lemon myrtle branch skewer around after 5 seconds. Unfortunately I got a little carried away with my picture taking which explained why mine turned out to be more charred than it should be. Though the staff did come over with tongs to help me remove the burnt bits and excess ash. A neighbouring table got equally carried away, but theirs probably couldn’t be saved because the staff had theirs replaced.


2) Macadamia & native thyme (topmost, right) – And this was certainly interesting; Warm macadamia milk with native thyme oil.

3) Scarlet prawn, crocodile lardo & boab (above) – A close-up of the dish revealed boab powder, deep-fried-till-crisp prawn legs and thin layers of lardo placed over the prawn flesh. In fact, the slices of lardo were placed slightly overlapping one another to replicate a prawn shell. The attention to details was simply amazing. And this tasted so good too. Was also told to suck at the prawn head.

4) Streaky Bay abalone & gubinge (above)


5) Murray river cod, succulents & eucalyptus (above)

6) Bunya nut, wild salmon roe & long yam (above)

7) Set custard, Coorong mullet bottarga, bunya & saltbush (above) – And this staeamed egg (chawanmushi) dish was a surprise in terms of plating. The staff removed the lid to reveal the bunya nut miso and saltbush leaves ‘stuck’ to the bottom of the lid.


8) Surf & turf (above) – Smoked over coals, this was supposed to be cubes of blue-fin tuna belly with Davidson plum curry and wagyu beef with Dorrigo pepper. But because I don’t take beef for religious reason, the beef was replaced with mushroom.


9) ‘Tongue in cheek’ roti (above) – Jerked lamb tongue & leather jacket cheek. This was enjoyable, although I wished the roti was a little less oily.

10) ‘Soup soup’ (above) – Crocodile with Australian botanicals.

11) Kohlrabi, quandong, lemon myrtle & dorrigo (above) – Pickled kohlrabi discs rolled into tiny cones, and held together by chilled burrata foam within. Topped with pickled quandong strips, and each cone piped with lemon myrtle and dorrigo dressing.


12) Return of the bread (above) – With native thyme & macadamia butter. And yes, this was from the same dough that was proofing on the table under a glass cloche. Bakers would know we sometimes have our ‘off baking days’, yet Orana boldly placed the balls of dough on every tables. And that to me spelled confidence.

13) Marron, Geraldton wax & wild plum (above) – Orana usually served this dish with green ants. But I must have come when ants weren’t in season. Although to be very honest, I think I was secretly happy I got the ant-less version. Keke.

14) Quail, minya, Ngeringa farm greens & bunya nut shoyu (above)


  

15) Coopers sparkling ice-cream pop, paperbark ice-cream sandwich & Orana vovo (topmost, left to right)

16) Set buttermilk, strawberry & eucalyptus (above)

17) Twin Lakes Mob Jillungin tea (above)

18) MacRobertson chocolate – Freddo Frog (above)

It was a fun and interesting dining experience at Orana. I did a little research and realised bush damper is part of the Aboriginal culture. So yes, it’s pretty amazing how head chef Jock designed the dish to allow us to experience a little of the Aboriginal culture by getting us to ‘cook’ our own (potato) damper. So if I could say… The meal doubled up as being educational too. At least forty seasonal Indigenous ingredients were used. And the restaurant was decorated with different pieces of Aboriginal artworks and native flower arrangement.

One definitely has to give it to head chef Jock. Even though he wasn’t born here, he chose to take on the task of preventing the Aboriginal tradition and culture from being wiped out. I read from an article that he first came to Australia in 1990s. After a few years, he left before returning in 2000 because his fascination of Australia refused to swindle. And it was his past conversation with an Aboriginal man in 1990s that inspired him to establish the Orana Foundation. Wow. And the Orana Foundation is a non-profit venture that works with Indigenous communities to preserve and promote Indigenous food and culture, and share skills training and employment opportunities.

No surprise that 2 sachets of native tea leaves were in the souvenir bag, which the staff passed to me as I made my way to the exit. And it’s a pity head chef Jock wasn’t at the restaurant during my meal. It’s only later that I realised it’s probably because he was filming MasterChef Australia: Back To Win, which premiered on 13 April ’20.

Do I recommend Orana? Oh yes! It may be pricey than other fine-dining restaurants, but I feel it’s justified. Please dine at Orana and experience the incredible things that head chef Jock and his team are doing!

RESTAURANT ORANA
1/285 Rundle Street, Adelaide, SA, Australia
+61 8 8232 3444, Website
Overall: 8.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Sat : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 9
* Closed on Mon & Sun

Lunch @ Sixpenny (Sydney, Australia)

September 9, 2020 in Australian, European

Was chit chatting with my colleagues when our conversation shifted to food. And they were raving of their respective meals at Sixpenny. So it was only natural that I quickly made reservation for a weekend lunch. And 2 days before my meal, I received a text message reminding me of my reservation and asking for my dietary restriction.

The restaurant was a short 5 to 8 minutes walk from Stanmore station. And as I opened the entrance door, I immediately stepped into the main dining area. It being a pretty small space, there was no reception counter or waiting area. It was an awkward 5 seconds (although it felt like a good long minute) as I stood there alone, unsure who to speak to.


Interior (Picture Credit: Link)

Upon seated, I was told there wasn’t any physical menu at Sixpenny. The staff continued to mention there would be 5 savoury dishes and 2 desserts, with 2 add-on options; Oyster & dry-aged duck. I went with the latter only. And I commenced my lunch course, AUD175 with:-


1) Snacks, Complimentary (above) – Multi grain cracker with dried tomato and parmesan cream, and pai tee with tuna tartare.

  

2) Bread, Complimentary (above) – Sourdough bread with mascarpone butter.


3) Savoury #1 (above) – Cured coral trout with white peach, horseradish and kholrabi. And when the dish was placed in front of me, I thought the top layer was jelly. But no, it was actually fish! Placed like a disc over cubed vegetable and fruit. Wow.

4) Savoury #2 (above) – Kangaroo tartare, sweet potato crisp and dried cheese.

5) Savoury #3 (above) – Poached squid from Spencer Gulf with sweet peas and tomatillo (green tomato) broth.

6) Bread, Complimentary (above) – Yesterday’s sourdough. Was told the leftover dough was dried, powdered, mixed with new dough and coffee powder, and then (re)baked. And this tasted more sour than the first bread, which I actually preferred! So nice!

7) Savoury #4 (above) – Bass grouper from New Zealand with spinach, champagne butter sauce and cauliflower purée.


  

8) Dry aged duck, AUD30 (above) – So glad I ordered this an additional a-la carte dish. Amazing, amazing, amazing! The smoked duck breast was very aromatic and its texture was great. I was also told the cherry-braised beetroot was treated for 8 to 9 hours. So much hard work to produce this amazing dish! Loved this dish, lots. Was also surprised to see 2 other duck dishes served alongside the duck breast. Liver parfait with cherry and mustard jelly, and duck heart. Duck heart? Like what!?! I was impressed!


  

9) Savoury #5 (above) – Dry aged Borrowdale pork loin, mushroom and marsala demi-glace. This was a real stunner. From the looks to the taste. Pure perfection.

10) Dessert #1 (above) – Strawberry consommé, frozen strawberry and mead vinegar custard. Though it wasn’t mentioned in the dish introduction, I thought there might be frozen pomegranate too. I saw pictures of this prior to my visit and was hoping it would be on the menu when I came. And I was so glad it was because it was so good. A beautiful balance of sweet and sour.

11) Dessert #2 (above) – Red Anjou pear ice cream with toasted milk, caramelised white chocolate and warm salted dark chocolate sauce.

I enjoyed myself immensely at Sixpenny. There’s no doubt about the food. It was executed beautifully. It’s hard to pick a favourite cause every dish was so good.

And the thing about dining solo was that I had lots of time to observe my surrounding. And I thought Sixpenny had a pretty interesting way with their table arrangement. Instead of sitting opposite each other, customers in pairs sat beside each other to face the centre of the dining space. So it was almost like we were all eating together at one big dining table. Though I did find it odd that for a fine-dining establishment, we weren’t given stools to put our handbags on. Most ladies placed theirs on the floor while I hanged mine on my chair.

Would I recommend Sixpenny? A big yes. Definitely deserving of their 3 hats by Good Food Guide (2020).

SIXPENNY
83 Percival Road, Stanmore, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 9572 6666, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Sat – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Wed – Sat : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Tues

Lunch @ LuMi Dining (Sydney, Australia)

September 5, 2020 in Italian, Italian Japanese

So after my arrival in Sydney for my overseas work stint, my first fine dining meal was at LuMi Dining which had 2 hats in the Good Food Guide (2020). Why LuMi Dining? Well… I guess I was attracted by the water views it offered. Keke.

As I made my way to the restaurant on the day of my lunch, I was surprised to see where LuMi Dining was located in. I was expecting the restaurant to occupy a ground floor unit of a building based on pictures of its interior. But it was located in a standalone container perched on the wharf. Okie, it’s probably not a container. That’s the engineer in me talking with my construction language of my first impression. Others called it a modern glass structure or a lightbox. I guess I walked towards the restaurant from the wrong side.

So yes, the exterior and the interior were very different. It may look dull on the outside, but it was beautifully furnished on the inside. I came for the view and was greeted with a perfect view of water and yachts. Even the light reflected off the water looked like sparkling diamonds!

As I took my seat, the staff asked if it was my first time at LuMi Dining. I nodded. And she went on to explain the menu. Now… When I was made my reservation, I made my selection for the chef’s menu. But there was options to have add-ons. I decided against ordering additional oysters. Instead, I went with the pasta dish with additional truffle. Uh huh. Add-on on top of add-on. Haha.

And with that, I commenced my lunch (chef’s menu, AUD185) with:-


  
  

1) Tuna, tart, Italian gunkan, buckwheat, taco (above) – Started my lunch with assorted snacks which I was told would keep coming one after another. And indeed, it came non-stop. Although I finished my first and was struggling to finish taking picture of the second, the staff placed the fifth snack on my table. Oh my god. Snacks included tuna tartare with shisho leaf which was meant to be eaten like a sandwich, pumpkin tart with glazed pumpkin seeds, Italian gunkan, bckwheat gougère with casera cheese within, and taco with fish tartare and chives. The snacks were amazing. The Italian gunkan, or what one could call an Italian sushi, was sea urchin topped on koshihikari rice and with stracciatella cheese within. But my favourite was the pumpkin tart.


2) Pie (above) – Served with thick chicken sauce gravy on the side. And for the pie, I was only given a knife. Wasn’t sure why but I requested for a fork. It was only later through observing others that I realised one was to slice the pie and pick it up with one’s fingers. Well, I’m eating it the ladylike way. Hahaha. But! I also realised the pie was meant to be shared by the table. I polished the entire pie by myself. Gasp.


3) Red emperor (above) – Red emperor sashimi with kiwi, dashi jelly, herb oil and buffalo cheese. Loved this!


4) Asparagus (above) – Steamed egg (chawanmushi) with white asparagus, caviar and yuzu dressing. And the texture of the steamed egg was very light on the palette. Almost similar to silken tofu!

5) Agnolotti (above) – Served in (clear) mushroom dashi broth. I would normally bite into the ravioli to snap a photograph of the the filling. But I couldn’t because it was liquid within the ravioli. Really interesting! The filling was akin to thick, creamy mushroom soup. Really tasty!


6) Pici scarlet prawns globe artichoke & sesame, AUD22 (+ AUD28, black truffle) (above) – Got this as an add-on to my set menu. Served very al dente, I didn’t really like the noodle texture. I also didn’t like the white sesame seeds. And I felt the truffle did nothing for the dish. This unfortunately didn’t work for me.


7) Murray cod (above)


  

8) Pork (above) – The skin was pretty black, but this was so good! Although the cabbage could do with less butter. I spied other tables and realised their strips were like 25% thicker. But all’s good though. I most likely couldn’t finish a thicker strip than what was served because I was feeling pretty full from finishing an entire pie earlier.

9) White chocolate & sudachi (above) – The sudachi was like a frozen yogurt. And I liked that it was citrus flavoured. A very interesting (form of) palette cleanser.

10) Buffalo (above) – Coffee-infused cream, and popcorn with kombucha.

11) Frangipane (above) – And this was actually a (halved) tart.

There were 3 waiting staff attending to customers on the day of my lunch. One was exceptional. But I was particularly annoyed at another who introduced the dishes by standing behind me, rattled on like a machine gun, and ended his dish introduction immediately with a “welcome”. Ain’t sure if it’s just me that’s picky, but the difference in the service standards stood out when Mr Poor Performing was compared against Ms Exceptional.

Nonetheless, I had an enjoyable meal at LuMi Dining. My meal came up to a total of AUD213. I left the restaurant feeling really full. And was slightly surprised that my lunch lasted 3 hours!

LUMI BAR AND DINING
56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 9571 1999, Website
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Fri – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Wed – Sun : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon & Tue