Archive for the Australia Category

Japanese French Fusion in Central Sydney

Posted in Australia, Central, Sydney with tags on March 12, 2015 by gannet39

It’s terrible I know but in four weeks of staying in Sydney, I was only lured out of Bondi once! And this was only because the place below promised to be very special…

Tetsuyas 005Tetsuya’s (Advanced A+), 529 Kent Street, www.tetsuyas.com

Although there are heaps of other places I wanted to go to, Tetsuya’s won out due to a recommendation from my foodie DJ friend Chris Duckenfield and a mention in Eat My Globe by fellow Yorkshireman Simon Majumdar, as well as being in lots of guides of course. Depending on who you believe, it’s in the top five, or top ten, or top fifty, restaurants in the world.

Tetsuya’s cuisine fuses Japanese seasonal sensibilities with French technique, a heady combination for a Japanophile foodie like me.

The only choice is to have the $220 ten-course tasting menu, to which I added the wine matching option (another $90 or so I think), reasoning that if you’re going to go the whole hog, then you really should do it properly. Thankfully it was all fantastic (A+).

Unfortunately I mislaid my notes but to the best of my memory, this is what I had:

Remember you can click on the photos for a better view.

Tetsuyas 006First off a preliminary Martini to gird the loins, stirred not shaken (A).

Tetsuyas 008After taking the edge off with some excellent bread and black truffle butter (A), I started with two Pacific oysters dressed with rice wine vinaigrette, ginger and chives (A+).

Tetsuyas 013Next,  ‘Savoury Custard with Avruga’, the latter being a caviar substitute made from herring but with no fish roe in it. Very tasty (A).

Tetsuyas 018This was followed by ‘Salad of the Sea’, a deconstructed nigiri with various kinds of sashimi. I think the fishes used were tuna, kingfish, bonito and trout belly. I think the fishes used were tuna, kingfish, bonito and trout belly which had been marinated or cured.

Tetsuyas 020The waiter matched the raw fish with a 2009 Riesling by Tunkalilla of Oregon (B+).

Tetsuyas 022After this, ‘Marinated New Zealand Scampi with Walnut Oil and Egg’, with a topping of creme fraiche. The egg yolk on a bed of seaweed added to the creamy texture of the scampi tails. Superb (A).

Tetsuyas 026For Simon Majumdar, Tetsuya’s signature dish ‘Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout With a Salad of Celery, Witlof, Apple and Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Roe’ is one of the best things he’s ever eaten.

It was very very good (A) but I’m not sure if I would confer the same honour upon it. By the way ‘Witlof’ is the Belgian name for chicory. The black coating is dried kombu seaweed, with a sprinkling of chives.

This came with a green salad on the side.

Tetsuyas 031Not sure what this fish with the beans is called sorry.

Tetsuyas 041With this a glass of the Tim Adams 2013 Pinot Gris (B+).

Tetsuyas 043Then came the ‘Tea Smoked Quail Breast with Parsnip & Calamari’, a fantastic fusion of disparate flavours (A).

Tetsuyas 047Next the ‘Grass-fed Fillet of Beef with Soy Braised Tendon and Wasabi Leaf’ was fantastic (A) made more so by the dollop of bone marrow crowning it.

Tetsuyas 050Then a trio of desserts, the first being looking like some Granita topped with Yoghurt Icecream (B).

Tetsuyas 053Can’t remember what the white blob is sorry.

With these I had a moscatel (not pictured) called MR by Telmo Rodriquez in Malaga (B+).

Tetsuyas 060You can’t go wrong with ‘Tetsuya’s Chocolate Cake’ (A+)

Tetsuyas 061A glass of syrupy Toro Albala Gran Reserva Pedro Ximenez matched it perfectly (A).

Tetsuyas 064And finally some Petits Fours to go with my coffee.

Of course the service was exemplary and I soon dispelled the air of formality by discovering a shared interest in Warp Records and Cabaret Voltaire (both from my home town) with my French waiter.

A couple at a table on the other side of the room let it be known they didn’t approve of me taking photos but then the man promptly fell asleep at the table! Table manners are different here obviously.

Tetsuyas 038The servers took it in their stride though and I was even given a tour of the kitchen. Another reason to blog is that you get better service!

Tetsuyas 040The decor is Japanese minimalist which avoids competing with the zen garden out of the window.

So was it worth all that money?  Everything was superb and I do think it’s good to experience this kind of place once in a while. For me it was a great way to end a very enjoyable stay in Sydney.

Better Bites in Bondi Junction

Posted in Australia, Bondi Junction, Sydney with tags , , , on March 12, 2015 by gannet39

here is a concentration of Japanese ramen shops and restaurants in Bondi Junction so I would leg it up there occasionally to get my ramen fix.
For those that don’t know, ramen is a Japanese noodle soup typically made with Chinese wheat noodles and cha-shu pork, seaweed, kamaboko fish cake and green onion, although my favourite version includes spicy Korean kimchi as well. A true fusion dish if ever there was one.

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In Japan, each region has its own style of making the stock. In Kyushu for example they uses pork bone broth (tonkotsu) whereas in Hokkaido they add miso bean paste. I like a combination of both.

The noodle soup should be accompanied by a rack of gyoza; pan-fried pork mince dumplings, and ideally a chilled bottle of Sapporo Black Label.

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I tried Cha-Shu Tonkotsu Ramen in three places. The best for me was Ichi Ban Boshi (A) at 171-173 Oxford Street www.ichibanboshi.com.au

The stock had a great flavor and the noodles were perfect (A) and I really enjoyed their gyoza (A). Both are pictured above.

Another good place is Mappen (B+) at 183-193 Oxford Street (entrance on Spring Street) www.mappen.com.au which has a canteen vibe.

I also went to Ramen Kan (B) at 3/33 Bronte Road where I got a good bowl of ramen (B+) but the gyoza were frozen in the middle! Not good (D) but it wouldn’t stop me going again.

Bondi Junction also has an excellent and very authentic Italian restaurant called Osteria Riva (B+) at 114 Bronte Road www.osteriariva.com.au which might be linked to La Piadina, my favourite place in Bondi (see previous post).

I had my favourite Italian cured ham, San Daniele (A) and some decent mozzarella to start (B).

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I don’t recall the pasta special but it was very good, as was the Scallopine di Vitello (B+) and Crema Catalana (B) to finish.

Such authenticity doesn’t come cheap (with wine it must have been about $80 or so) but it was so good I couldn’t stop! Much better than the Italian places down by the beach.

Bondi Beach – the Best Bites

Posted in Australia, Bondi Beach, Sydney with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2015 by gannet39

I ate in a lot of places in Bondi Beach over the four weeks I was there in January 2014 so I’ve organised the reviews into these categories: Brunch, Chippies, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Italian/European, Modern Fusion, American, Middle Eastern, Ice Cream and Pubs.

Please see the previous post for other non-food stuff about Bondi Beach, and the following posts for Bondi Junction and central Sydney for more food.Here’s my Google map with all the places reviewed below and heaps of others all over Sydney that I didn’t get to go to.

BRUNCH:

When it comes to food, something the Aussies can’t be beaten on is the morning meal. There are heaps of cafes all over the shop and I’m sure you could go into any of them and have a good brekky. These were my favourites in order of preference:

La Piadina (Elementary A+), Bondi Beach, www.lapiadina.com.au, closed Monday.
This was my primero place to eat during my whole stay. It’s just a small place run by two young brothers from Romagna, the Italian region from which the Piadina flatbread hails from, and some of their Japanese friends.  The food is authentic and healthy, the coffee is the best in town and I enjoy the quirky touches, like the fact that their cups and glasses are never the same.

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I generally drank Flat Whites here but their Macchiato and Iced Mocha are also very good (B+).

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Flat whites are similar to cappuccino or a latte but have a velvety microfoam of milk made of smaller, finer bubbles. According to my barista friend Gavin, the credit for this improvement on an Italian classic should go to the Kiwis rather than the Aussies.

Over my stay I slowly worked through their whole piadina menu. The ones that stick in my head as being particularly good were the classic Tuna (tossed lemon juice), Mozzarella, Tomato & Rocket, or the spicy Nduga, Stracchino & Spanish Onion (all A), as well as the weekend special ’Rocco Siffredi’ (pictured) named after an Italian porn star and involving strachino mozzarella, organic egg frittata, cherry tomatoes, rocket and chilli oil  (A+).

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The occasional Negroni aperitif was downed here too in the company of my buddy Finn, Gavin’s sister.

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You can also get bottles of Chinotto (the bitter orange used in Campari and other Italian amari) by San Pelligrino (my favourite fizzy pop company) from La Piadina’s deli next door,  one of a row of great food and drink businesses along this stretch of Glenayr Avenue.

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Bondi Massive (Intermediate A), 2/8 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach

Excellent coffee and the best BLAT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with avocado) that I had during my stay. All their egg dishes are good too, such as the Eggs Benedict in the pic.

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Bondi Massive is immediately below Noah’s Backpackers hostel but the quality and the consequently slightly higher prices seem to attract a more genteel local clientele.

Sonoma Café (Advance A), 130 Campbell Parade (entrance on Gould St) www.sonoma.com.au

I heard about this place via Where Chef’s Eat, a world restaurant guide published by Aussies, which describes them as making ‘the best bread in the country’.

I’d go further and say the huge wedge of sourdough I had with my smoked salmon and poached eggs (A) was perhaps the best bread I’ve ever eaten (A++). Prices are high but it’s worth the taste experience if you can get in.

Nice bread place

Lock Stock & Barrel (Intermediate A), 140 Glenayr Ave, Bondi Beach www.lockstockandbarrel.com.au

You’ll have a good brunch here, if you can get in. Always popular.

Brown Sugar (Intermediate A), 106 Curlewis Street, Bondi Beach

In the same vein as Lock Stock, and equally difficult to get into.

Bondi Hardware (Intermediate B-), 39 Hall Street, Bondi Beach, www.bondi-hardware.com.au

Yet another of the seemingly generic brunch places but this place is also apparently a very good in the evenings. I’ve only had breakfast here (avocado smash with eggs on toast and a good coffee I think) as it was a slight trek from where I was staying but it was definitely worth the walk (A).

Organic Republic (Intermediate B), 98/100 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi Beach

I’d come here for brekky occasionally to break the routine of piadinas from next door. Everything I had here; coffee, chocolate croissants, beef sausage roll, mini-focaccia, was just ok (B) and nothing special, but it was freshly baked and still warm. I’m sure their spelt bread is very good but I was too lazy to make my own sandwiches. Nice staff and owner.

Bondi Picnic (Intermediate B-), 101 Hall Street, Bondi Beach

I’m sure this place is fine (the service was very pleasant) but I had my first experience of Australian bacon here, which isn’t something I want to repeat. It was served here in a thick clump of wafer thin rashers that looked broiled rather than grilled or fried.  So at least there’s one thing we do better at home.

Cafe Bondi (Intermediate B), 14 O’Brien Street, Bondi Beach

Ended up here when there was an electricity cut on Glenayr Ave and there were no piadinas to be had. Generic brunch place, you can sit outside, good service, totally fine.

CHIPPIES:

Bondi’s Best Seafood (Elementary A+), 29-53 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach www.bondisbest.com.au
Another thing I think the Aussies beat us on is chip shops.  At BBS for instance you can get Owen’s Fisherman’s Basket, a mixed fry which includes battered king prawns and squid, as well as the more typical fish, onion rings and potato croquettes.

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And you can get excellent freshly made sushi!! It’s fully licenced as well with a good selection of white wines. What a great place, I love it.

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It’s hard to get a seat but the tables both inside and out offer great views of a beach. If you can’t get a seat, get your fry to take out and go to the bottom of the street where you can sit at the top of the grass slope overlooking the beach as Finn, Gavin and I did.

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Fishmongers (Intermediate B), 42 Hall St, Bondi Beach www.mongers.com.au

Mongers is the best fryer down in the centre of Bondi Beach, not as good as BBS above who have got the view and the sushi thing going on as well, but still better than a chippie in the UK in terms of the variety of offerings on the menu (fresh oysters anyone?). I had the Mongers Box which involved Hoki Fillet, Chips, six Calamari Rings, served with fresh lemon and tartar sauce, all very nice thank you (B+).

VIETNAMESE:

Miss Chu (Intermediate B), 178 Campbell Parade, www.misschu.com.au

I’m a sucker for a Banh Mi and this place was a regular lunch stop for me after a long morning at the pool. I’ve had the best and they do a pretty good one here, though I do wish they’d peel the inedible skin off the sliced sausage as it’s like finding a rubber band in your baguette (hence the B). Another good thing is you can have a schooner of pale ale in the Bondi Hotel opposite while you’re waiting for your sandwich to go, although they will also deliver (‘you ling, we bling’).

THAI:

Bangkok Bites (Intermediate B), 95 Hall St, Bondi Beach

Think I remember this place being touted as ‘Best Thai’ in Bondi? It’s always packed out so there must be something good on the menu. My choices were ok but nothing special (B).

JAPANESE:

For good Japanese food you need to go to Bondi Junction which has a bit of a Japantown thing going on, please see my next post. The Japanese places in Bondi Beach are less authentic and generally not as good in my opinion.

Mamasan (Intermediate B+), 57-59 Beach Rd, Bondi Beach, www.mamasan.com.au

I quite like this place for modern Japanese fusion although a bit it was a bit too expensive for me to go that often. The Papa Sashimi plate, big chunks of raw fish on a bed of salad leaves, is good (B+) but it costs a hefty $27.

The Papa Sashimi plate, big chunks of raw fish on a bed of salad leaves, is good (B+) but it costs a hefty $27.

However, I really like their Edamame  which are stir-fried with garlic (A) rather than just steamed as is traditional.

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I also like the fact that you can get Asahi draught in chilled glasses. It’s a shame they’re plastic and not real glasses but they look the real deal and still do a fairly good job of keeping the beer cool. After a couple I can at least still pretend I’m living in Japan again.

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Soy (Intermediate B), 3/38 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach

This is just an okay Japanese sushi shop with nice service, on the seafront, nothing to write a blog about really.

Sake St (Intermediate B), 76 Hall St, Bondi Beach, www.sakestreet.com.au

Not as good as Soy for straight up nigiri but I quite like their Vegetarian and Fish Tempura maki rolls. Their menu is more limited but they are cheaper than the others.

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As I said earlier, if you want real Japanese food, go to Bondi Junction instead (next post).

INDIAN:

Namaste (Intermediate B), 80 Hall St, Bondi Beach, www.namasteinbondi.com.au

Purveyors of fairly authentic Indian food. They were severely short of staff the second time I went which slowed things down a lot. I paid about $50 for two curries (one veg, one meat), two beers and a plain rice, not particularly cheap.

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A good place to go with your veggie friends. Their samosas are huge. I’m sure you’ll be able to get them to go.

MIDDLE EASTERN:

Sababba (Elementary B+), 80-82 Hall Street, Bondi Beach http://www.sabbaba.com.au

This is a good place to come for cheap, healthy, tasty middle-eastern food. Lots of menus to choose from and they have draught beer.

MODERN FUSION:

Neighbourhood (Intermediate B+), 143 Curlewis St, Bondi Beach, www.neighbourhoodbondi.com.au

A popular hipster joint, great if you can get in. I love their fresh oysters with tequila and coriander (A) but the mussels in tomato sauce were over salted (C-).  Their cocktails are pretty decent.

ITALIAN/EUROPEAN:

For an authentic Italian restaurant experience I recommend Osteria Riva in Bondi Junction (see next post).

La Macelleria (Elementary A), Shop 1, 112-114 Campbell Parade (entrance on corner of Curlewis St and Gould St), Bondi Beach, www.macelleria.com.au
This is a deli and sandwich shop as well as a butchers. A good place to pick up top quality chunks of meat if you’re going to a BBQ. Should you fancy a DIY dinner you can cook your grill items on the public barbecues at Biddigal Reserve, a grassy park with picnic tables at the east end of the beach.

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Gelbison Pizzeria Ristorante, (Low Intermediate B), 10 Lamrock Avenue, Bondi Beach, www.gelbisonbondi.com

Gelbison is the people’s choice when it comes to Italian food in BB, and I agree it is the best of a not particularly good lot (avoid Bondi Trattoria on the next block at all costs, my food was crap), but they are resting on their Calabrian laurels in my opinion.

I had the Pappardelle di Nonna Pina, a seafood special with crab, scampi, prawns, mussels and clams, for $34. It was ok, but the pasta wasn’t al dente and they didn’t have the crab, so they only got a B from me for the food. Customer service isn’t great and it’s always rammed, so go early if you want to get in. No complementary limoncellos here.

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Icebergs Dining Room (Advanced B-), 1 Notts Avenue,  Bondi Beach, www.idrb.com

I came to this high end restaurant on my last night because I’d read good reviews and because they have a fantastic view of the beach. I also love their swimming pool  which is just a couple of floors below.
Things started well with a well-mixed Negroni in the bar watching the sun go down with my mate Finn.

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Unfortunately things went downhill when we moved into the dining room. I ordered the steak, for which they are supposedly famous. Unfortunately mine was well done when I had asked for it medium rare (B-) and I had to complain.

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Finn wasn’t particularly enamoured with her fish either which she said had not been descaled properly, though like me she still ate her food.  The service was pretty decent though and my glass of dessert wine was made complementary when it should have cost a pretty penny. No intentions of going back however.

The service was pretty decent however and my glass of dessert wine was made complementary when it should have cost a pretty penny. No intentions of going back though.

Smart casual dress only so probably for people with more money than sense. When you reserve remember to specify a table at the window at sunset if you want to get the famous view.

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AMERICAN:

Hurricane’s Grill (Intermediate B), 130 Roscoe Street, Bondi Beach www.bondibeach.hurricanesgrill.com.au

One of the most popular places on Trip Advisor, popular with my carnivorous friends and always rammed to the rafters. Everyone likes this chain except me it seems. I’ve never been that keen on BBQ ribs which, as well as steaks, is what Hurricane’s specialises in. It’s the gloopy, usually over-sweet BBQ sauce that puts me off.

I had a ‘full’ portion of their pork ribs for $49, a gluttonous choice given that you get two whole racks of ribs to yourself. What annoyed me this time was that they both tasted differently, one just mediocre (B-) and the other a bit burnt (C-). On the positive side, the bib is a nice touch.

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I also dislike the dark, cavernous interior of this particular branch. I’m sure it’s nice to sit out front on the terrace but as a lone diner there was no chance of that. I would go back with company but overall I wasn’t that impressed. Total bill with an ok cocktail was $67.

ICE CREAM:

Gelato Messina Bondi (Elementary A), 6/61 Hall Street, Bondi Beach

The Trip Advisor #1, as ice cream shops often are, this gelateria is so popular they have a greeter and a velvet rope to organise the queue at busy times. Perhaps that’s because the gelato is exceptionally good. I had the Dulce de Leche version (A).

PUBS:

Beach Road Hotel (Intermediate B+), 71 Beach Road, Bondi Beach, beachroadbondi.com.au

This can be redneck central but they have a great yard with mattresses and floor cushions out back, and DJs at the weekends, which seems to attract a more interesting crowd. They have several pool tables at the back of the front bar too.

Another thing I like about this place is that they have a drive-in off licence right next door, known as a Bottle-O in Oz (a brand name but in common usage). This is where I’d come for a six pack of my favourite Aussie pale ales, Little Creatures or One Fifty Lashes.

Ravesi’s (Intermediate B)

A big boozer with sports screens on the water front, popular due to its location. Good for watching cricket while sinking a cheeky afternoon schooner on the way home from the pool.

For more refined drinking experiences I’d recommend Neighbourhood or Bondi Hardware above.

 

 

Beached in Bondi

Posted in Australia, Bondi Beach, Sydney with tags , , on February 25, 2015 by gannet39

On Xmas Day 2013 I got a cheap flight to Sydney for my first ever trip to Australia. I had grand plans of going on a road trip around the south-east but never quite made it and my friends in Melbourne still haven’t forgiven me.

The thing is once I got to Bondi I liked it so much that I didn’t want to go anywhere else for the next four weeks! Everything I needed for a life of contentment was right there…

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Most importantly, good food, and lots of it. My next post is entirely dedicated to reviews of all the places I ate during my stay.
Next of course, good wine was a major reason for me getting on the plane. I went to the legendary wine mecca Kemenys www.kemenys.com at 137-147 Bondi Road to stock up. Here’s a picture of a happy man.

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One of the original wine retail outfits in the 60s, Kemenys have won the coveted ‘Australian Liquor Store of the Year’ award more than ten times since its inception in the 1994. If you can’t get it here, it’s probably not worth getting.

I went with a recent list of their top Aussie wines from www.bestwinesunder20.com.au, an excellent independent wine blog. Armed with this knowledge I got good service from the gruff old manager who I think warmed to me when I rejected his suggestions of French substitutes for the wines he was lacking and insisted on Aussie only.
I bought twelve bottles to take back to the pad on my first visit. They were all pretty good but the star of the stay for me was the Yealand Estate (A+), an award-winning, beautifully crisp and fragrant Sauvignon Blanc.

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I couldn’t live anywhere that didn’t have a swimming pool and BB not only has a pool (at Icebergs private club www.icebergs.com.au at the southern end of the beach) but an outdoor, saltwater, Olympic-size pool with a great view! In fact it’s my favourite public pool in the whole wide world so far!

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The salt water takes a bit of getting used to as your body is more buoyant and you have to change your style slightly. Sometimes on blustery days huge waves come over the seawall and wipe out the whole pool, leaving all the swimmers in a pile in the far corner! It’s all part of the fun.

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Another bonus is that it’s not too busy because many people don’t realise that although Icebergs is a private members club, their pool is open to the public. You can see how busy it is by checking the online pool cam before you go.  It’s worth checking as they do regularly drain the pool to remove all the flotsam and jetsam that’s been washed in.
The next best thing in terms of exercise is the coastal walk which stretches for several kilometers.

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You could use it to go to the neighbouring beaches of Tamarama or Bronte for a change of scene.

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Bronte beach has its own small saltwater pool, hewn out of the cliffs by convicts for Victorian ladies to swim in.

There’s lots of photogenic rock formations along the way.

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Beach and Coast 048I spent a few mornings running along here to blow the cobwebs away. The short dips and rises in the path are a killer though and I was always being overtaken by super-fit body beautifuls who ground my ego into the gravel! Once though I did manage to get to Clovelly which I think is about 5km there and back to North Bondi where I was staying.

Once though I did manage to get to Clovelly which I think is about 5km there and back to North Bondi where I was staying.

We wanted to walk to Coogee someday but never got round to it, mainly because the sun was just too hot. You have to be really careful in the sun here as there is no ozone layer to protect you. The Australian government has actually made it illegal to sell sun lotion with a factor lower than 50!

In my perfect world, after natural eye candy I also want some interesting buildings to look at and Bondi has some nice residential architecture, like these sugary Art Deco units along the north end of Campbell Parade.


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Camera3 034Generally the feel of the seafront is very much that of an English seaside town, with Fish & Chip shops and pubs, it’s just that the weather is much better!

Camera3 082Camera3 078Bondi Road has some of the oldest residential buildings in Sydney, such as the cottages in the first picture.

I love the wrought iron detailing on this house though the painting must be a nightmare.

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In this photo, the face made by the front door and windows tickles me.

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Some other small blocks of flats on Hall Street made me feel like I was in London on a sunny day.

Camera3 037 Camera3 036 Camera3 038Accommodation in Bondi is expensive and hard to get. Luckily I rented a cheap room from a friend of a friend for a while and then spent a few odd days in a private room at Noahs Backpackers www.noahsbondibeach.com (as opposed to Bondi Backpackers) which was fine. There’s no luxury of any kind but there’s a great view from the roof, and it’s very handy for the pool and the coastal path. There’s a good breakfast place and a pub immediately under the hostel and handy shops nearby.

It’s also an excellent place to meet people from all over the world who are passing through, although the downside of that is that it’s pretty popular so you should book well in advance, especially for peak periods. You might strike lucky if you don’t have a booking though as they occasionally evict everyone when things get too messy!

So now for the food…

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