Ippudo Central Park

Monday, 29 September 2014



A shrill "Irasshaimase!" rings out as you step through the curtained doorway. An instantly recognisable welcome, Ippudo is about to debut its second Sydney restaurant. Ippudo Central Park, along with several other ramen establishments have swooped onto the Sydney dining scene and swaddled us in a blanket of tonkotsu and egg noodles. Oh my! Set to open in early October, their second venue joins in the vertical garden fun at Central Park in Chippendale. Shiny and new, this outlet will likely do as well as their first restaurant; delivering pork buns and ramen soup noodles to exacting standards.

Ippudo's slick panelled interior, with everything just so

Since 1985, what first started as a noodle shop in Fukuoka, Ippudo has expanded greatly now with outlets across Japan and the world. The menu offers a nice selection of noodle soups, predominantly using a tonkotsu soup base (made from slow cooked pork bones). But if Ippudo is known for one thing, it would have to be their pork buns - made from a fluffy sweet dough, each has a slice of pork belly and is a delicious morsel with a dash of Japanese mayonnaise.
Sadly, on this visit the pork buns were unavailable! Something I had been looking forward to as well. What a shame!


How refreshing, a place that is actually lit! Nothing worse than having to divine the menu...

With quick and efficient service, each dish came out as if carefully choreographed from the kitchen. The service on the night was impeccable, something that the Ippudo staff pride themselves on. The choice was easy, each soup noodle has a "Special" option which includes additional pork belly, boiled egg and toppings. Top tip: highly recommended for a man-sized meal! If you're looking for value for money, perhaps Ippudo is not the best choice. A bowl of ramen (albeit a BIG one) can cost you close to $25. The staff will also ask how you would like your noodles cooked - this was something new and a nice touch.

Seared salmon sushi: temari salmon sushi served with mentai mayo sauce and avocado. This dish was a good one and highly recommended. Super fresh salmon wraps sushi rice and a generous dollop of sauce, a burst of flavour with each mouthful

Another glorious close up. Hungry yet?

Miso Tonkotsu Ramen Special: pork broth infused with red miso, topped with pork belly, cabbage, bean sprout, bamboo shoots and corn. This dish is new on the menu, the soup was rich in flavour but on the saltier side. The pork, cooked perhaps slightly over

Shiromaru Special: original tonkotsu broth with thin noodles, flavoured egg, simmered pork belly, roasted seaweed, flavoured black mushrooms, flavoured bamboo shoots and spring onions. This is a classic Hakata dish - a very light broth with subtle pork flavours and toppings galore! The pork belly was nice and tender, and rather fatty!

Ippudo Central Park certainly succeeds in giving us a Japanese ramen restaurant for a quick and easy meal. Perfect for a cold winter's day this is comfort food at its best. Might I add that the little roasted sesame seed grinder is a brilliant addition to the table, making for  delicious seasoning (which I became slightly obsessed by). For all the perks, occasionally the noise emanating from the kitchen and wait staff can become quite clamorous, particularly at the peak of service. Ippudo is set to become a staple amongst Chippendale and Chinatown residents regardless. I suggest you give it a whirl, if at least once. And, hello food baby!

Lights, camera, action! October 2nd is the official opening

Thanks for reading!
xGourmand
Ippudo Sydney on Urbanspoon


Gourmand dined courtesy of Ippudo Central Park (Level 1 RB07, 28 Broadway, Chippendale). Thank you for having me!

Yellow

Monday, 15 September 2014



Hot off the press, chef Brent Savage has just won the 2015 Good Food Guide Chef of the Year award and there are plenty of reasons to celebrate. Yellow, is Savage's newest venture in Potts Point taking a more conventional approach to Australian bistro dining. Meanwhile, his flagship restaurant, molecular gastronomy haven of Bentley Restaurant & Bar has taken a more imaginative turn jettisoning into the Radisson Blu in Sydney's CBD. The restaurant scene has been quite tumultuous lately, to say the least with fresh names popping up every second day, abrupt closures and chef's hats flying left, right and centre. Only a year ago, I was reviewing an entirely different restaurant at this exact address (a pop-up mind you, but still). How bizarre!

First thing's desserts. Talk about wow factor: an intergalactic sphere of chocolate, passionfruit curd & coconut marshmallow. A fantastic combination and the wafer thin dark chocolate was delicious. A note on the curd though, which was probably closer to a custard (with a more soupy texture) - quite different from what you'd expect from the menu

With the experience of Savage and a toque already in it's holster, Yellow sets to fill the gap between fine diners looking for a matched wine degustation and the lucky few who can secure seats at the eternally popular Monopole wine bar (also on Macleay St). This new iteration of Yellow House circa 2013 suits Potts Point locals to a tee. Open 7 days a week for dinner and brunch on weekends, there's something here for everyone.

Another extraordinarily dimly lit eatery. Energy efficiency to extremes?

The dining room is another Pascale Gomes-McNabb creation, an architect and long term collaborator who seems to be leaving her mark all over this town. With cutout mirrors and a jigsaw of shapes adorning the walls; it's a cross between an Eames aesthetic and geometry class but it gets the job done. The menu is a straight forward affair with relatively limited options compared to some of the tomes out there (first. world. problems.). The wine list however, is a different kettle of fish. Presumably on loan from Monopole a few doors down it is in a word, EPIC. I will note however that there is no dedicated vegetarian main. One would be forced to order a series of vegetable side dishes to make up for it. Shame.

For starters: char-grilled pork neck, prawn, black pudding purée & orange. This was probably my favourite dish of the evening. The pork was meltingly tender and gelled really well with the prawns which, mind you were verging on undercooked. A thoughtful and standout dish early on

Cured snapper, avocado and mullet roe (left) and roast cauliflower with mustard leaves and parmesan (right). The snapper was a deliciously tiny morsel. It's not often you see snapper cooked this way. The cauliflower was cooked in several ways but seemed to have an overpowering creaminess and richness about it. More of the roasted/shaved cauliflower might remedy this

Corn-fed chicken, charred carrot, buttermilk and cavolo nero. Sous vide chicken with a charry black carrot purée. A new 'chef-y' twist on the Sunday roast

O'Connor Scotch fillet with Jerusalem Artichoke and mustard. A very nice and well cooked piece of steak. I did find myself missing more of a sauce which was basically pan juices. Always a fan of jerusalem artichokes, the combination of roasted and shaved slices worked well. 

Mulloway with celtuce & shimeji mushroom (left) and baby kipfler potatoes, sour cream and shallot powder (right). The fish was cooked to perfection, a very simple dish at its heart, but executed well. The potatoes were instantly reminiscent of sour cream & chive crisps (but infinitely better)

DOLCE

Magnifique, non?! Melon sorbet, macadamia & dates. On reading the menu, a list of ingredients in each dessert gives nothing away. To see this presented, a vision draped in a veil of translucent melon was a real treat (the mandolin strikes again!). A macadamia crumb sits atop melon slices and a quenelle of sorbet on a delicate slice of date cake. A match made in heaven

Apple with green raisins & buttermilk chantilly. This dessert looks rather unimpressive on the surface but the combination is good one. A pile of crumble, may be a little stingy?

Yellow, as a new venture in a difficult climate is a laudable effort. Savage and his team function like a well-oiled machine delivering seasonal dishes designed for the individual, but you'll get away with trying a bit of everyone's. For me, there were a few highlights and no particular low-lights but that's just it. I was looking for a little bit of magic, a dish that I would return for again and again (the pork-neck was nearly there) or a new and inspired idea. In terms of fulfilling the brief, sure Yellow has it down and I can't argue with the full house night after night but I'm looking for something a little bit extra. Call me crazy.

"And it was called, Yellow..."

Thanks for reading chickens!
xGourmand
Yellow on Urbanspoon

Snapshot: Sydney cafés VI

Sunday, 31 August 2014



Isn't incredible that we are already approaching the start of Spring. August has ended with weeks of rain and blustery winds but today was something else. A clear blue sky day conducive to outdoor pursuits, a swim in the ocean or a long leisurely walk. Talk about weekend revival. With coffee in hand, once you take a sip everything seems right in the world - if only for a second. Today's post is another instalment of my cafe snapshot series. There's plenty more where that came from...!

Anvil Coffee Co

Holbrook Avenue, Kirribilli

Walk straight towards the ferry wharf and you'll find this place where you'd least expect. With a beat up pallet finish, Anvil pays homage to shabby chic (emphasis on shabby)

Anvil Coffee Co opened in late 2013 with little ceremony, literally inhabiting a nook of Kirribilli ferry wharf. Like a barnacle, it seems to have unwittingly found itself perched where waves lap quietly below. The whole concept of a café suspended over the water is rather magnificent.  And for the local ferry commuter, a god-send. The menu is sharp and succinct where magic words 'poached eggs!' and 'pulled pork!' lend an easy appeal. Pair that with some solid coffee and you've got a charming harbour oasis. But sssh, let's keep it our little secret.

Before I knew it, my soy cappuccino was already gone. I could have almost convinced myself to have another!

The Antonio: Spanish style baked beans, pulled pork, a fried egg with grated manchego and sourdough toast. Something I'd love to make at home but just 'never get around to', this dish was the perfect way to start the day. Hearty and healthy, well sort of

Buttered Arabian Eggs: poached eggs, Greek yogurt, garlic, chilli & lemon juice burnt butter with mint on sourdough. Simply and elegant, this dish represents everything you'd want in poached eggs. I must say though at $16, this veggo option is a bit steep

How to make the most of beautiful Sydney Harbour, getting schooled at Anvil Coffee Co
Anvil Coffee Co on Urbanspoon

Lox Stock & Barrel

140 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi Beach

Pumpkin salad with kale, quinoa, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot & spinach with sesame & miso dressing. With the addition of hot smoked ocean trout, this salad is taken to great heights. Just a really nice combination, vibrant, fresh and feel-good

Ah Bondi, how I've missed you. I always find myself waiting way too long between visits because it really is a lovely spot (and world famous with good reason). Home of barefoot surfer types, bleached hair and real-fake tans; Bondi locals take coffee and brunch rather seriously. With eyes firmly set on whole foods and promoting 'farm to table' eating, Lox Stock & Barrel is a deli with a difference. With some loose Jewish influences, LSB is cranking out some very fine sandwiches (read: bagels!) and delicious salads. And to further sweeten the deal, they're now open for dinner 4 nights a week. Why do we even bother to cook at home?! Be warned though, the weekend queues aren't to be sniffed at.

Pretty in blue: my obligatory cappuccino, a fair effort by LSB

Grilled, spiced Albacore tuna panini with jalapeños, miso dressed slaw and cucumber. The tuna was cooked well to medium-rare. The biggest challenge was actually eating the thing trying to avoid sandwich-filling spillage. First. World. Problems.

Hot smoked ocean trout salad with beetroot, freekah (I just love typing that), rocket, shaved fennel, mint, zucchini, caramelised walnuts with lemon & buttermilk dressing. This one was a masterclass in modern salad making. Gone are the days of garden salads with boring lettuce, tomato and cucumber! The caramelised walnuts basically sealed the deal, so nice

Yes, it's a bit of a squeeze but LSB does some great food and is probably worth the wait
Lox, Stock & Barrel on Urbanspoon
Thanks for reading boys & girls!
xGourmand
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