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"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." – J.R.R. Tolkien

Tag Archives: Japanese

Goshu Ramen Tei (NSW)

As the oldest Ramen restaurant in Australia, and one of the highest rated Japanese restaurants on Urbanspoon Sydney, I had great expectations for this place. Catching up with a friend who’d recently moved up from Melbourne was the perfect opportunity to check this place out, and it didn’t disappoint.

It was a windy and chilly day, but the place was still very busy. We felt a little sorry for the neighbouring restaurant, but there seemed to be a customer base only loyal to Goshu. Indeed, they had a take-away service which was being made full use of.

The menu had the usual variety of Japanese dishes, from curries, to bento boxes, and of course, ramen. For starters, we ordered a serve of gyoza.

Gyoza

Nothing too spectacular, these gyoza were simple and satisfying and were perfect to munch on while waiting for our main dishes.

I ordered the beef sukiyaki set.

Beef Sukiyaki Set

This was definitely larger than I expected, the flavour was stronger than I was used to. It was undoubtedly tasty, but perhaps too much so. I’m not sure what spices and condiments they used, but they were certainly liberal with them. Nonetheless, I polished it off, and the small seaweed salad that I had ordered too.

Seaweed Salad

My memory is failing me a bit (we ate a lot on that trip!) but I think my dining companions ordered a chicken udon dish and a chicken curry and rice dish respectively.

Chicken Udon

Chicken Curry and Rice

By all accounts, the food was delicious and the serves were massive. Definitely value for money! The service was extremely efficient and friendly. As their menu says, “Your hostess, Aiko, always smile, from Aichi, JAPAN”. You could help but smile back.

Goshu deserves it’s reputation as being a great Japanese restaurant. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of noodles, I’ll be sure to try their Ramen next time.

Goshu Ramen Tei
5 York Street, Sydney
Mon-Sat 11am-10pm

Goshu Ramen Tei on Urbanspoon

Tetsuya’s (NSW)

I’ve been putting off writing about the degustation at Tetsuya’s for sometime because it’s so intimidating: not only are there so many dishes to cover, but the quality of the food was such that neither my words nor my pictures will do justice to it. I do like to share my eating experiences with you guys though, so here goes nothing. I’ll say straight up though, if you ever have the chance to dine at Tetsuya’s, don’t miss it, and get accompanying wines if that’s your style too.

Even though it’s centrally located, upon entering the restaurant there’s immediately a sense of serenity that wouldn’t be feel out of place in the Japanese countryside (or so I’d imagine given I’ve never been to Japan). In any case, the dimly lit, intimate surrounds were welcoming and comforting, perhaps even more so with the absence of music. The faint chatter of the rest of the patrons, and the sound of the Sydney rain falling outside was all the soundtrack that was needed.

As expected, the waitress was charming and knowledgeable, and we knew immediately that we were in for a treat as she went through the list of courses, barring the desserts which she was keeping as a surprise. At first, the sommelier wasn’t aware that we wished to match wines to our meals, but after this was sorted out, he was nothing if not friendly and helpful for the entire night, always at the ready with wines that were well-matched to the dishes.

With much further waiting, the first entree arrived at the table, and we promptly forgot what the rest of the dishes she had named were. So began the massively enjoyable fun of the guessing game.

Corn Soup with Soy Cream

This cold corn soup with soy cream was, perhaps, just a little odd. I wasn’t really sure what to make of it in all honesty. The corn lent just a little bit of sweetness, but other than that, there weren’t any dominant flavours. As a wild guess, I’d say this was to simply set our palates for the following courses. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong though!

Next up, the ‘optional course’ (incurring a small surcharge) of fresh pacific oysters with rice vinegar & ginger. You think we were going to pass up this opportunity? Not a chance.

Pacific Oysters with Rice Vinegar & Ginger

The oysters really were the star of this dish, with the balance of the vinegar and ginger perfectly highlighting the oysters to gently flavour them without overpowering their freshness. I’ve only ever eaten oysters once before (they were terrible) but even with my limited oyster-eating experience, I could tell that these were almost as perfect as you could hope for.

I was less enthralled by the next dish: Savoury custard with sea urchin

Savoury Custard with Sea Urchin

Having never eaten sea urchin before, I was a little overwhelmed by its strong flavour, and didn’t particularly like it. Is it an acquired taste? In any case, its strength actually made the custard seem bland, which wouldn’t be the effect that they were after.

The sashimi of kingfish with blackbean & orange was obviously fresh and quite good, but not mind-blowing.

Sashimi of Kingfish with Blackbean & Orange

The blackbean and orange was certainly and interesting combination and one which worked well. Not well enough to have me craving more, but leaving room for the mains isn’t a necessarily a bad thing.

The first of the mains was spectacular, and perhaps the highlight of the entire night (yes, even including desserts and my penchant for sweets).

Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with Shaved Fennel and Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Caviar

It also had the longest name of any dish I’d seen: confit of Petuna ocean trout with shaved fennel and unpasteurised ocean trout caviar. I can see why this is Tetsuya’s signature dish. The fish was firm yet delicate, so it cut easily yet still held its form. The crust had just the right amount of flavour and crunch to enhance the taste of the fish. The caviar were like little golden gems of slightly sweet liquid happiness. I felt royally fancy eating this. This restaurant is known for their seafood and this dish justifies their reputation as one of the best in Sydney.

Even though I fully understand that with a progressive degustations, lighter flavours must precede the heavier, especially in the case of meat dishes, the rest of the mains felt a little boring after the brilliance of the trout. They went by in a little bit of a blur, so they’ll go by in a little bit a blur here too.

Steamed Queensland Spanner Crab with Bean Curd, Foie Gras & Junsai

Another seafood dish this time with crab meat (I hear they made this on Junior Masterchef?). The spanner crab was faintly sweet, and the textures matched perfectly. I just wish there was a little more colour to the dish, but now I’m just be fussy because it was a perfectly delicious course.

Braised Veal Shank with Broad Beans & Smoked Bone Marrow

Bone marrow is one of those things I grew up eating, and would beg Dad to let me eat it from all the bones in the dish. Is it any wonder that I preferred the accompanying bone marrow to the veal itself?

Breast of Quail with Paleta Iberico & Garlic Puree

My tastebuds still aren’t well trained enough to tell quail from chicken, but I remember liking the accompanying flavours better than the main in this dish too. I do like my pork though, in pretty much any form – just ask my friends.

Seared Fillet of Cape Grim Beef with Wasabi and Braised Mustard Seeds

The final main for the night was the seared fillet of beef. This was the best beef that I’ve had in a long time (the last time was at a specialty steakhouse). Even though we were starting to fill up from the many previous courses, I could have eaten more of this dish. Thankfully this isn’t possible, because the three decadent courses of desserts (yes, three) were more than enough to round off the meal.

Hay-Infused Ice Cream with Sorrel Granita (left) and Bread & Butter Pudding (right)

Hay-infused ice-cream? You mean, grass? Well, it tasted like grass, but not in a bad way. It was light and refreshing and well suited to clearing the heaviness of the mains. The bread and butter pudding was sweet and buttery, but I was more than ready for the chocolate dessert to be brought out.

Choclate Pave with Cream Cheese Ice Cream & Cinnamon Twigs

Apart from eating bone marrow, I’m also one of those people who eat cinnamon twigs, but that’s not really important. What’s important was that both the pave and ice-cream were absolutely delicious. I love the bitterness of dark chocolate, and the slight saltiness of the cream cheese, so this dessert was definitely my favourite.

As is the trend, the night was capped off with miniature macarons. While not as good as some specialty stores (in Sydney especially) macarons are always delicious in my book, so these suited me perfectly fine.

Macarons

Wrapping up after almost four hours, we walked out of there buzzing in a bliss induced by good food, good wine and good company. Now I have to justify returning to Tetsuya’s just to enjoy it all over again.

Tetsuya’s
529 Kent Street Sydney
Lunch: Sat 12pm –
Dinner: Tues-Fri 6pm – , Sat 630pm –

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon

Kaneda Japanese Restaurant

There’s no shortage of fast and cheap Japanese restaurants in Melbourne, but even with some fierce competition, Kaneda stands out. Crowded into the tiny mid-city arcade opposite Pancake Dessert House, there is a frequent flow of customers, especially during the afternoons from 330pm to 530pm, where you can pick up a bento box, a bowl of Japanese noodles or various other snacks for cheap. For a small group of people of people, the restaurant is always a winner, especially as when people ask ‘We are we going to eat?”, you can reply with “Kaneda” and watch the looks of confusion on their faces.

With a large variety of dishes on offer, it’s hard to pick just one. Thankfully, there’s something for everyone and the waiters are not pushy (unlike in some busy places). As I was here this time around for an early dinner, I decided against ordering my usual entrée of takoyaki. The dish here is not the best I’ve ever had, but it’s certainly not the worst, being nice and hot with a good amount of octopus. I ended up ordering the pork bento box for just under $10.

Pork Bento Box

The fried chicken was crispy, and while it was better than most chicken that comes in a bento box, it still didn’t quite live up the standards set by many of the Korean restaurants dotted around the city. I was a little dubious to the freshness of the sashimi, but by that stage it didn’t matter because the main dish, the pork, was tender and tasty and I ended up mopping up the juices with the rice because I couldn’t get enough of the sauce!

My friend ordered the eggplant bento box.

Eggplant Bento Box

The tempura vegetables were delicate and not too oily, and the seaweed salad tasted exactly as expected, and therefore both were quite good in my opinion. The standout was of course the eggplant itself. It was cooked to perfection, having that slightly mushy texture, yet was still juicy and flavoursome, with the garlic accenting the dish without overwhelming it.

This is definitely a great destination for lunch, or an early dinner. With such a small space to work in, Kaneda tends to get very crowded, so unless you like the crammed-in feeling, it’s best to avoid going during peak times.

Kaneda Japanese Restaurant
Mid City Arcade, 200 Bourke St, Melbourne
Tue-Sun 12pm-930pm

Kaneda Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Hardware Societe

To cap-off a week’s worth of birthday celebrations, a friend took me out for breakfast on a nice Thursday morning. Hardware Societe is one of those places that I kept on hearing about and had intended to visit a few weeks ago. Unfortunately they had gone on a winter hiatus, but the cafe was open and cheerfully inviting this time around.

Hardware Societe

Offering a varied menu of pastries and quite a few egg-based dishes, this cafe seems quite popular with the CBD business crowd. There was a constant stream of people coming and going, with regulars being greeted with friendly enthusiasm. Also impressive, the fact that their coffees/teas/hot chocolates all came with a tiny cinnamon donut. Not particularly delicious, but a sweet gesture all the.

It was hard to choose from all the tasty sounding options on the menu, but ultimately, I decided on an omelette with mushrooms, goat’s cheese and truffle oil.

Omelette with Mushrooms, Goat's Cheese and Truffle Oil

The omelette was amazingly light and fluffy, the mushrooms were juicy, the goat’s cheese was a blissful indulgent, and the truffle oil really brought the dish to a new level. I wasn’t particularly keen on the bread, but that’s just a personal preference. Could this have been the best cafe breakfast I’ve ever had? Perhaps! I could have happily sat there and eaten an entire second serve, but perhaps that luxury should be saved for another occasion.

My friend ordered the coddled eggs accompanied by sourdough baguette soldiers with jamon and romesco, olive tapenade and trout ceviche.

Coddled Eggs and Soldiers

The coddled eggs were adorable in their little glass cups, resembling desserts rather than breakfast. While the didn’t look substantial when it came out, my friend was more than satisfied by the end of the meal, pronouncing it both delicious, and a fun novelty.

Both of us were sorely tempted by the pastries on offer, but after consulting our waistlines, decided that perhaps a return visit was warranted instead of gorging ourselves. Overall, the food was very good, the service was quick and friendly and the ambience was calming, even with all the swirling activity.

Hardware Societe
120 Hardware Street, Melbourne
Mon-Fri 730am-3pm, Sat 830am-2pm

The Hardware Societe on Urbanspoon

Brim CC

I caught up with a friend for lunch today at a tiny little ‘Japanese Organic Cafe’ called Brim CC. It was originally organic soup take-away shop (hence the reference to volume and containers I assume) with sushi available, but due to customer demand, had recently increased the number of Japanese items on the menu.

Brim CC

The space was cramped, and while we found a seat at a shared table, the place quickly filled up. The hot weather outside meant that it was slightly stuffy inside, and while there were seats outside, no shade was available so I vetoed that idea. The decor of the place was actually quite nice, with wooden tables, a small bookshelf and a cute little corner that was termed ‘Owner’s Treasure’.

Owner's Treasure

The menu itself was varied with 2-6 varieties of soup are available on any given day, as well a single bento box option, 2 noodle salads, 3 salads, 3 curries with rice, yakitori-don with rice, gyu-don with rice and sweet and savoury buckwheat pancakes

I went for a rice dish/salad combination ($9.50) of gyu-don with fried tofu salad. My friend chose a double chicken hit of a chicken tomato curry with a teriyaki chicken salad.

Gyu-Don with Fried Tofu Salad

Chicken Tomato Curry with Chicken Teriyaki Salad

The food was pretty standard. It was filling but nothing that distinguished it from other standard Japanese restaurants around Melbourne. Perhaps I should have ordered a soup or some sushi instead! Seeing as the meal was so cheap though, I left feeling very satisfied. The service was friendly and efficient, and they obviously had a very dedicated customer base. Definitely deserving of their spot in the 2011 Cheap Eats Guide. I might choose the take-away option next time though, crowds tend to confuse me.

Brim CC
Shop 2, 601 Little Collins St, Melbourne
Mon-Fri 10am-9pm

BrimCC Organic Soup and Japanese cafe on Urbanspoon

Shou Sumiyaki Sake Bar & Grill

Mother dearest was down for a night and was staying in the city so we decided to head out to Little Bourke St for a light dinner. As usual, we ended up at a Japanese Restaurant except unlike your standard little diners, this ended up being a joint with mouth-watering grill on the menu. To be honest, I usually associate grills with Korean BBQ, but let me tell you that this is so much better (from a culinary perspective at least)! More on that later though.

The restaurant itself was dimly lit, with seated booths, a bar area, and a seating area that was in the traditional Japanese style of having cushions on the floor with a raised table. I could imagine this being an ideal venue for a date, or even a small birthday function. Either way, I liked the atmosphere. The service was also quite good. The waiters were very knowledgeable and helpful, but weren’t the least bit intrusive (which I appreciate tremendously).

Shou

Shou Sumiyaki

As expected from a place with ‘Bar’ in its name, it has an extensive wine list, particularly in terms of sake, umeshu and Japanese beers. Wines that could be ordered by the glass was a little more limited, and the merlot I ordered was, well, mediocre. I prefer tempranillo, but I didn’t really expect them to have it readily available.

Moving on though, the food itself was pretty amazing. We ordered pork gyoza, eggplant in miso, and a plate each of wagyu and chicken thigh. It was simple, but it was tasty to say the least. It might have partially been the fact that we were cooking it ourselves. It was so good in-fact, that I forgot to take photos before we had almost finished eating.

Purple fire?

(I’m not sure why the fire is purple seeing as it was red in real life. Perhaps it’s another sign that I should get a new camera.)

The only downside to this place that I can see is that the serving sizes are tiny and it’s more expensive that I’d usually like. The food, atmosphere and service do a lot in making up for it though, so perhaps I’ll go visit again soon.

Shou Sumiyaki Sake Bar & Grill
160 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Lunch: Tue-Sun 12pm-3pm
Dinner: Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am

Shou Sumiyaki on Urbanspoon

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