Tetsuya’s rerun

I had the best time with other foodies at the Food Lovers Trivia Night for Oz Harvest; it is such a wonderful cause and another bonus was when TimmyC surprised me by winning the silent auction that allowed us to have a degustation at Tetsuya’s with matching wines.

We quickly decided that we would go for my birthday and we booked several weeks in advance. I love where Tetsuya’s is located, it is a very unassuming building amongst all the hustle and bustle of the city.We were seated near the window on the ground floor to overlook their beautiful peaceful garden. They were very accommodating when we explained that we don’t drink wine (I know, I’m such a waste TheFoodMarshall) and they suggested we could get the tea pairing.Tetsuya’s set degustation menu ($230 per person normally)

Complimentary bread and whipped truffle butter.Pacific oysters with ginger and rice vinegar. I remember when I had my first dressed oyster from Tetsuya’s, it was incredible and the same overwhelming feeling came across me as I had it 5 years later. The dressing enhances the flavour but you can definitely still taste the natural oyster. What a wonderful way to start the meal.Tuna with kohlrabi. It was a perfectly dressed tuna that was so super fresh, I wanted more than the three pieces given to me.Warm octopus salad with fennel & shiso oil. A simple salad with remarkably soft tender octopus.Confit of Petuna ocean trout with a salad of celery, witlof, apple & unpasteurised ocean trout roe. This is Tetsuya’s signature dish, it is stunning visually and tastewise. I don’t want to describe it, I want you all go to and taste this for yourself. It has been on their menu for over twenty years and for a good reason!Grilled Shio Koji toothfish with fregola and roma tomatoes. I loved the texture of the toothfish as it reminded me a cross of mudcrab and scallops but without the sweetness.You could have easily mistaken it for scallop meat when you take a spoonful.Miso cured duck breast with pumpkin and cauliflower. This was well executed but I didn’t think it was anything special. It might sound pompous but I think it was because everything had been so great up until this point.Beef tenderloin with mushroom cream. I was hoping for a more flavoursome beef, it was very tender but I feel that the seafood items were much much better. Lychee granita with strawberries and coconut. A beautiful clean refreshing dessert with all my favourite fruits. I’m very tempted to make a variation of this at home for summer.Tetsuya’s Chocolate Cake. This had the most beautiful mirror finish but I had to move TimmyC away from the table because no matter what angle I moved my camera, I could see his reflection on the cake. I was so impressed with the neat presentation of such a delicate dessert. The chocolate glaze encased a beautiful soft not OTT chocolate mousse, a real delight to eat.All gone!Petits Fours vanilla macaron dusted with bee pollen and a mango filling along side a perfectly delicate toffee chocolate with a biscuit base. Both made really well but the chocolate blew us away with the flavours and intricate detail.The discs were so delicate, so much effort for a little petit four.Tea pairing~

It was amazing to have a tea pairing with our degustation, I’ve never had one before. The teas varied from hot and cold and also carbonated.  Each tea was chosen especially to compliment the food from darker teas for meat courses and the most sweet-smelling concoction served with dessert. I loved it all (although as a result of so much tea, I did go to the bathroom a lot) but my favourite might have been the cocoa with matcha as I’ve never had anything like it.

Buddha’s tears brewed with spice and orange peel.

Single estate organic sencha green from Kyoto stirred with lime.

Gently infused darjeeling with thyme, rosemary and basil served chilled with bubbles.

Yunnan red from one of China’s most ancient tea growing regions.

Orange pekoe brewed with red fruits and vanilla pod.

West African red cocoa with soy milk and macha.
The staff were very attentive and very knowledgeable which always adds to a good experience. Our 4 hour lunch just flew by with incredible food, drink and company.

See my first experience with terrible photos here.

Venue: Tetsuya’s

Address: 529 Kent Street, Sydney 2000

Phone(02) 9267 2900

Beef wellington at Les Bistronomes

I haven’t been back to Les Bistronomes since late last year but when our plan A of eating Mr. Papa’s new menu fell through, TimmyC was very quick to point out that I hadn’t taken him to eat beef wellington yet. So as we were eating our dessert from Peppercress, we proceeded to order our main at another restaurant on the other side of town, as true foodies do.Complimentary house bread served with ash butter. I liked the concept of a whole mini loaf served to the table but I didn’t like the execution, I crumbed EVERYWHERE. It was hard to cut with your normal table knife but a serrated knife would have just glided through this baby. The bread was delicious, the butter was incredible, and I was just messy.Apparently people don’t usually leave this much mess, I’m just special.They have gone all ‘home style’ with these plates.Entrees~

Charcuterie platter cured meats, salami and rillettes with bread ($24.00). This platter was much bigger than I remembered, I’m glad I only ordered one serve of the pork belly. I really enjoyed the mixture of cured meats served with bread and gherkins, although the hot sausage was not to everyone’s liking. For me personally it would have been nicer with fruit/cheese/more bread to break up the salty meat taste.Caramelised pork belly and warm celeriac and truffle veloute served with shaved apple and celeriac crisp ($22.00). This was much smaller than I expected for the price we paid, despite being very delicious. Luckily the platter was bigger than we expected or I would have started to get hangry before our mains were due to come out. The veloute made me almost want to lick the plate but I’m a lady so I ended up soaking up every last bit with bread instead.Mains to share ~ pre ordering is recommended

Boeuf en croute (beef wellington) mushroom duxelle and foie gras served with a side of your choice ($88.00 for two people 30 minutes cooking time). We had pre-ordered just one beef wellington when we made the reservation so that we could try other things, even though it is recommended for two people I think it suits 3-4 people so that everyone isn’t stuffed by the end of the mains and you get a bit of variety. Chips are the best thing to get as a side as it is hot, crispy and well seasoned and sometimes you just need that hit of salt between bites. I absolutely loved the jus and poured extra all over my serve.

It might not look like much but I think this baby can feed more than two people.

Look at it glisten when I add more jus.Ash crusted duck a l’orange style (whole duck) served with red cabbage, orange and pine nuts ($80.00 for two people 25 minutes cooking time). We were shown our smoking ash encased duck before it was taken away to be cut in the kitchen; it was gone for a considerable amount of time before we were actually served the dish, so much so that I thought that they had given our duck away. I usually prefer ‘dark meat’ as I find breast can tend to be dry and disappointing, but because the duck was cooked whole and encased in ash, every part of it was moist and juicy. The meat had a combination of smoky duck flavours which paired perfectly with the sweet red cabbage and orange segments. It was hard to choose a favourite out of the two main dishes because both were amazing.

Excuse the blurry photo, I wanted to take one ASAP before it smoked out the whole room.When it is served, it has beautiful vibrant colours.Look at that juicy tender meat.Dessert~

Traditional apple tart tatin served with triple vanilla ice cream ($32.00 to share for 2 people allowing 40 minutes cooking time). This dessert is made from scratch and you would have to order it while ordering your meal. As delicious as the passionfruit soufflé and the crème brulee is, I’m glad that we didn’t order another dessert. It might sound expensive but it easily satisfied all four of us and shared between the four of us it came to only $8.00 a serve which is pretty decent. The apples were soft and sweet, the pastry was buttery and the caramelised sugar parts get stuck in your teeth, all in all a fabulous dessert.

I added the fork for scale, when you’ve eaten two courses already, this is enough to share between 3-4 people.It is so pretty with its shiny sticky sugar.I noticed some tables having a long wait time for their mains, but if you order an easy to share entree like the platter and you have good company, you wouldn’t generally notice the wait time. The restaurant started to get a little smoky towards the end with everyone’s ash encased mains being presented to them and the restaurant was closed up to keep the warmth in.

We left completely satisfied and happy as we had a good variety of delicious food. It did get a little salty towards the end and I had to prompt for more water as I was drinking so much, but I think I’ll have dreams about the tart tatin for months to come. Don’t forget to use your Entertainment book for this one!

See you first two posts here and here.

The Loft

I had been to The Loft several years ago, we enjoyed many tapas and had a really fun night in what was a very busy establishment. Since then they have gone through a revamp, new menu and now they are even open for lunch. I’ve been keen to get there for a while and finally my friend and I went the last week. 
The Loft is located about the Duxton pub, the stairs to get up there are inside the pub.
A.baker bread with Pepe Saya butter ($3.00pp).  According to the bill this was one serve (there were six little slices of bread). The butter was on the harder side but it didn’t tear the bread and was still able to be spread.
Chickpea crepe, caramelised onion and lamb pruscuitto ($14.00). We weren’t going to order an entree but it didn’t take much to twist our arm either. There was nothing that really stood out to us so we went with the recommendation of the waitress. Chickpea crepe, lamb prosciutto… These ingredients were unfamiliar to me so I didn’t know what to expect. The lamb tasted like pastrami and gave this a nice salty hit with spices. The crepe was slight oily but retained its crispiness which I really adored. The caramel used onions were cooked perfectly and added the sweet touch which really brought this whole dish together. For something that we almost didn’t order, it was a delicious surprise.Tangier Taster a colour and fruity mix of fresh limes, agave syrup, orange juice, pineapple juice with a top of cranberry juice ($9.00). I’ve had many mocktails in my time, they usually taste like an over sweetened fruit juice with one dominating flavour but this was really nice. It was a lovely balance of pomegranate and lime.It’s not often that I choose the same meal as the other person if there is just the two of us eating but I felt like risotto and my friend really wanted it too. Two risottos please.

Lobster and fennel risotto, saffron butter ($34.00). There were four decent sized pieces of lobster in the risotto which was not over cooked and had a little natural sweetness of its own. The risotto itself was rather rich and filling, my friend thought it was a tad too salty for her but for me it was fine especially since it wasn’t served with Parmesan cheese. The fennel gave the dish a refreshing feel with a nice crispy texture contrast. It was a little on the smaller size for a serve but the risotto is filling and the flavours were very rich.I was surprised that there were only two tables during the lunch seating. I guess people just need to find about this place, the delicious food and the rather convenient location.Venue: The Loft

Address: above the Duxton pub at the Turner (stairs are inside the Duxton)

Opening hours: lunch Thursday – Sunday dinner Wednesday – Saturday          

2 Yummy BBQ noodle house

Four foodies met up a month ago to have dinner; Michelle the foodie from HerCanberra, The Food Avenue, Food Porn Journal and myself. Where others would talk about world events, pointless gossip and the weather, it was no surprise that we just talked about food. Even after we ate dinner where we ordered so much that all the dishes took up every inch of the table and everyone but me said they were super full, we were still talking about food, especially what we were going to eat next.
Michelle had been to 2 Yummy twice before to do a suckling pig banquet. Yes you read that right, a suckling pig made into 6 courses that can have to share with at least 9 other friends. That was definitely the next place we were going to go. Fast forward a month, lots of messages and keen friends later, we had booked a table for 14 people, one suckling pig pre-ordered with a $50 deposit paid and a karaoke room booked next door to continue the fun all night long.

This is the menu of all the dishes that one suckling pig turns into.  Some of us made a face of doubt when we were presented with the suckling pig, how will this small pig feed all fourteen of us?First up were suckling pig pancakes. This is usually served with duck but the crispiness of the skin provided a perfect candidate for substitution. I would have preferred more meat underneath the skin but I assumed it was being used in another dish.

There were two servings on either side of the table and there were enough for two pancakes per person. Yum!Start with a pancake, smear on some hoisin sauce, choose a nice piece of meat and a slice of cucumber and you’re ready to roll.Next up was suckling pig with jelly fish. This is how Chinese people usually have suckling pig so my eyes lit up. For those who haven’t eaten jelly fish before, it is cold, chewy with a texture unlike anything else; it usually also has a bit of spice to it. Add a bit more of hoisin sauce and you’ve got an awesome mouthful between the chilli of the jelly fish, the crunch and fat from the pig and some sweetness from the sauce. There’s a bit of meat under the skin and this would have been ideal for the pancakes.   Deep fried suckling pig meat with lemon grass flavour. The courses had been staggered until now, once the two ‘entree’ portions were served, the rest of the banquet just flowed out from the kitchen and I found it very hard to keep up because I am a slow eater/was taking photos. This was deep fried but not oily, the lettuce served underneath it paired perfectly well to give a refreshing watery crunchy with the deep fried meat. It reminded me of peking steak with subtle hints of lemongrass.Stir fried suckling pig meat with house special sauce. The odd thing about this dish was the broccoli was stone cold and obviously pre-prepared around the plate while the meat was extremely hot (in both senses). I didn’t expect that the dish would be so chilli hot and it took me by surprise when I ate some and then I shoveled a lot more rice into my mouth. It was still tasty I just wish I had some warning.Suckling pig meat cooked with bean curd in a hot pot. It didn’t exactly come out in a hot pot but everything retained its heat really well still. Despite being a huge meat eater, I really enjoy bean curd and I found this particularly delicious because it soaked up all the sauce from this dish. I ate more of this than the suckling pig meat (but I guess I am also having pig in every other dish). Stir fried suckling pig with handmade noodle in OX sauce. This was one of the dishes that I was looking forward to the most. I love handmade noodles and I love suckling pig so this was a winning combination, but I found it one of the most oddest dishes I have ever eaten. The texture and the taste of the noodles reminded me more of pasta than noodles. OX sauce has a strong and distinctive taste that I didn’t feel that this dish had. Overall it was more bland in comparison to other dishes, so I ended up piling other dishes and sauces on top and mixed it through to help it a little.With 14 people at the table, I was the last one eating. I wasn’t crazy full like everyone else when I  stopped eating, I just got bored eating the few dishes were left. So basically if you’re anyone else you’ll leave being very satisfied and regretting your last two mouth fulls because it pushed you over the edge.

Despite having four more people that we needed for the banquet minimum, there was plenty of food to go around and it was all delicious and diverse. I would easily grab another 9 people and do it all over again very soon.

Venue: 2 Yummy BBQ noodle house

Address: 3/114 Emu bank, Belconnen ACT 2617

Suckling pig banquet: $40.00 pp, you need to order a head and pay a $50 deposit and a minimum of 10 people to participate

Phone: 0262516622

Outback Jacks re-run

I didn’t think I would be back here in a hurry and it puzzled me that another franchise of Outback Jacks was opening in Civic but due to over shopping on my part, we thought we’d stay within the Belconnen mall to get dinner rather than venturing out to the suburbs which was the original plan. It also really helped having the Entertainment book voucher which provides a ‘complimentary main meal’ when another main meal is purchased.

They were nice enough to accommodate for my friend who can’t eat pork (very sad I know) and replaced the pork ribs from the Steak and Ribs combo with lamb ribs 100 day grain feed 300g rump and out meaty Jack Daniels basted pork ribs, served with chips and salad ($39.95). My friend really really enjoyed her ribs! I have never had lamb ribs before but now I’m curious to try. Her steak which she ordered ‘rare’ was bordering towards medium but I think the deliciousness of the lamb ribs made up for it.IMG_4682.JPGPrime rib on the bone (400g) served bone in to maximise tenderness and improve flavour. Our champion steak! ($39.95). My other friend and I ordered the same steak but she got hers with a ‘surf & turf topper’ ($10.00) while I opted for mushroom sauce on the side (2.95). I was much more impressed with my steak than last time I was here (last time I had the steak and ribs combo). The steak was cooked to medium rare which was how I ordered it and prefer it. You could taste the meat which what I like in the steak but I did like the creamy richness that the mushroom sauce provided.

Prime rib on  the bone with a surf and turf topper. Best of both words if you like steak and seafood.IMG_4675.JPGMy simple steak with the sauce on the side so I could control how much I had per mouthful or ditch it if it tasted horrible, but luckily it wasn’t!IMG_4677.JPGA cross-section of my medium rare steak.IMG_4679.JPGThe service has really improved, the giggling unhelpful girls were either not rostered on or have been replaced with more efficient staff. We ended up going somewhere else for dessert and I was partially not ready to relive that experience again. The Civic store has some hope if they have good service, tasty food and family friendliness. It is really close to Hogs Breath though, so we’ll see.

Read my previous visit here.

Plaka

When I mention ‘Plaka’, people think of great steaks and pizza, when I think of Plaka, I think of missed opportunity.

I never got to eat at the Plaka restaurant when it was at Mawson, although I’ve had many people recommend it to me after they had closed for three years. Lucky for me, they have re-opened in a new location in Dickson where The Copa Brazilian BBQ restaurant once was. 20140807-122427-44667639.jpgApparently some of the artwork have been taken from the old location and taken to the new restaurant now located in Dickson.20140807-122702-44822962.jpgMy eyes darted around the menu. I didn’t know where to start. I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. Oooh lamb cutlets, oh no wait, lamb souvlaki, oh wow they have mousaka too! In the end, there was no way around it, to taste as much as possible I was going to need to order the mezze plate.

Greek Mezze Platter traditional mezze served with greek salad, chips and grilled pita bread. Spanakopita and tiropita (homemade filo pastries); kefalograviera and feta; chicken and lamb souvlaki; lamb cutlets; vegetarian dolmathes; keftedes (greek meatballs); kolokithokeftedes (zucchini balls) with a mix of homemade greek dips (tzatziki, taramosalata and hummus) ($38.00 per person). Plaka only had several bookings that night and what they didn’t expect was for the restaurant have two table turnovers before we even got there, so they had run out of kolokithokeftedes. 😦20140807-122428-44668999.jpgA mezze platter for three people.20140807-122545-44745826.jpgSpanakopita and tiropita (homemade filo pastries). The pastries were flaky and buttery with a delicious filling, even TimmyC really enjoyed them and he doesn’t usually like ricotta and feta.20140807-122609-44769209.jpgChicken and lamb souvlaki. It amazes me how they have kept the meat perfectly moist while being cooked on a skewer. The chicken had a lovely lemon-y tang to it while the lamb had a strong lamb flavour but lacked a little salt. 20140807-122432-44672147.jpg20140807-122605-44765890.jpgLamb cutlets. They marinate their lamb in herbs but don’t season it with salt but I guess that allows you to add enough for your liking. The meat cutlets were big and tender, very tasty.20140807-122604-44764487.jpgVegetarian dolmathes. There isn’t much I don’t eat but I must admit that dolmathes is something I don’t enjoy. I find the flavours and the oil that it is saturated it unbearable but I took a chance and had one, I surprisingly ate the whole thing. The flavours aren’t as strong and the filling wasn’t completely oily.20140807-122548-44748880.jpgChips. I didn’t really see the need for chips and with everything sitting on top, most of it got soggy but I did sneak in a few in my meal to go with all the meat. 

Pita bread. I was sad to find that they get their bread from Sydney, that seems a bit too far to travel for bread, so I guess I’ll just have to come back more often and eat it here. I was told to wrap a variety of salad and meat in the bread and eat it with all the combined flavours. I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to get dips too with the way the menu was written but even without the dips and zucchini balls, we were stuffed and we couldn’t finish the platter.

Keftedes (greek meatballs). I applaud whoever made these. These were cooked through nicely while being fluffy and moist. A great mixture of breadcrumbs, mince and herbs. YUM!20140807-122607-44767656.jpgDessert~ Not only did I eat slowly making us the last people in the restaurant, everyone else before us had eaten all the delicious desserts leaving baklava as the only choice but I was completely fine with that.

Baklava. It’s a big call, but I going to say it is the best baklava I’ve ever eaten if not, at least in the top two! TimmyC promised me his piece because he doesn’t usually like baklava and yet when he tasted it he couldn’t stop eating either.20140807-122648-44808828.jpgI was dining with one of TimmyC’s friends who is the nephew of the owners and with that  privilege I was able to meet the family. By the end of the night, I was ready to become a Greek and move in! They were so super friendly and I loved their food. I was a bit annoyed at the end of the of the night though, they wouldn’t take any of our money even though we insisted.

Plaka have just opened last Saturday (2nd Aug) but with old patrons coming to find them and new ones excited to try them, they get very busy and I would advise booking early to not miss out on anything.

I’m a huge fan of seafood but I currently can’t eat any at the moment (don’t ask, it is just easier not to argue with a Chinese Mum) but when I can, I would definitely come back to try their seafood. I asked them how often they receive seafood and they said everyday (wow!), their prawns come from Coffs Harbour and the rest come from the south coast.20140807-122704-44824253.jpgAlthough they don’t have pizzas right now, there are plans in the future to expand hours to cover Saturday breakfast, maybe have a lunch sitting, eventually bring back pizzas and maybe do BBQ kababs. *licks lips*

Venue: Plaka

Address: 5/55 Woolley Street, Dickson, 2602

Phone: (02) 6249 8880

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 6:00pm till late

Wesbite: http://www.plaka.com.au

Plaka on Urbanspoon

Morks

I’ve been wanting to try out Morks since they’ve moved to the Kingston foreshore and with my cousin and her family visiting, I couldn’t think of a better time to go.

Entree~

Three crunch salad, eggplant and chilli jam ($12.00). I must admit, I sort of rolled my eyes when my cousin ordered this salad. I didn’t come here for salad, I came here for awesome amazing dishes, but boy was I blown away by this and it was probably one of the most delicious things we had during lunch. In my defense, no where on the menu did it mention pork crackle. If it had that in the description I would have ordered it myself. Indeed it did have three ‘crunches’ in there – pork crackle, noodles and nuts. This combined with the fresh flavours of the mixed herbs gave this dish an ‘uplifting’ feeling and it was rather addictive. I would definitely recommend this dish as well as reorder it myself.20140728-204620-74780208.jpgSoft shell crab, curried potato and leek ($16.00). Well made in terms of being crispy but not oily although it didn’t compare to the salad. 20140728-204651-74811642.jpg

20140728-204653-74813078.jpgMains~

Farmer’s Pad Thai (g) ($25.00). I was keen to order this to see how they would make it. I thought the chunky pieces of chicken would be dry but they were quite the opposite, very moist and tender. At first I thought the dish looked a little disjointed with the chicken separate from the noodles, the bean sprouts and the perfectly cooked egg off to the side but it allowed me to pick and choose how much I wanted of each element on my plate. The noodles tasted somewhat lime-y which I loved but I would hate to have ordered a $25.00 pad thai and still be hungry afterwards, as it wasn’t the biggest serve of noodles.20140728-204725-74845370.jpgA close up of the lovely moist chicken pieces.20140728-204655-74815873.jpgBeef chuck stewed mussamun style, chilli bread (g) ($28.00). Really tender chunky beef pieces in a rich nutty sauce. I thought it as unusual to serve it with bread and not rice but with the chilli kick in the bread, it sorta works.20140728-204726-74846747.jpgDessert~

Egg in Hay homemade coconut ice cream, sweetened condensed milk, roasted coconut, roti, pashmak ($15.00). The toasted coconut with the addition of the crispy roti gave the flavours and feeling of a lovely aromatic deep-fried ice-cream shell. The different textures of this dessert working really well together and I would definitely order this again.20140728-204757-74877031.jpgDefinitely not on my cheap eats list but I find that Morks defy the norm and aren’t scared to do something with your typical Asian dishes whilst using fresh ingredients and flavours that work well together.

Venue: Morks

Address: 18-19 Eastlake Parade, Canberra ACT 2615

Phone: (02) 6295 0112

Morks Restaurant on Urbanspoon