Aloha Table

Poke bowls seem to be the food of the moment, so while I was in Tokyo recently I stopped in at a Hawaiian-style restaurant to try one in a city known for its fresh seafood. I picked the lunch set (which included unlimited soup, cold drinks and coffee) with the tuna, avocado and octopus poke bowl (¥1274). The soup of the day was ginger, which was more like a consomme, clear and refreshing with a moderately strong ginger flavour. I helped myself to a glass of original lemonade (delicious) and then got stuck into my beautiful poke bowl. There was plenty of octopus, each slice fresh and coated in a lovely, slightly spicy marinade (possibly a Korean chilli sauce?). The tuna cubes were plump and very tasty, and the fresh avocado added a nice creaminess to the whole thing. The rice underneath was nicely seasoned and had a mix of white and black rice, leaving the bowl a pleasing purple colour. The bowl was just the right size for a casual lunch, and I didn’t feel rushed to vacate my seat (perks of a late lunch). Highly recommended for something a bit different in Tokyo.

Aloha Table, Iidabashi Sakura Terrace, 2-10-2 Fujimi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan, http://iidabashi.alohatable.com/

Yayoi

As you may have guessed, I’m a big fan of Japanese food, so love visting The Galeries in Sydney, which is full of great Japanese dining options. Yayoi had been on my wishlist for a while, and when I finally made it, it didn’t disappoint. I ordered the Yayoi Gyozen ($30), the recommended meal set. It came with four beautifully presented dishes, so was a perfect sampler of their menu. The salmon teriyaki was a treat to begin – tender fish, sweet teriyaki and a nice mix of textured veggies to accompany it. Tick. The wagyu beef sukiyaki was similarly tasty, with thinly cut slices of beef and noodles with plenty of sauce, this portion was surprisingly filling. Tick. Next was the pork tonkatsu. with a super flaky, crispy batter on the outside and tender pork inside, not to mention the lovely tonkatsu sauce and a sprinkling of sesame. A light drizzle of lemon lifted this dish into supreme awesomeness. Tick. Finally, I savoured the salmon salad at the end, enjoying the refreshingly simple taste of the sashimi salmon and accompanying lettuce and sprouts. Tick. Everything was delicious, tasty and just the right size. Perfection.

Yayoi Teishoku Restaurant, The Galeries, 500 George Street, Sydney NSW, http://www.yayoi.com.au/

Patissez

There’s nothing like a good burger, and when colleagues suggested a weekday lunch outing to Patissez in Manuka, who was I to complain? The staff accommodated our large group well and luckily the weather held out. I decided to go for the KFC (Katsu fried chicken) burger, with cabbage and daikon slaw, kewpie mayo and katsu sauce ($18). The food came out in good time considering the size of the group, and the burger was served in a tray witha good helping of fries and a pot of aioli. The burger had a slightly firmer bun than I prefer (the bread was very filling), but the katsu chicken was a real winner, crisp on the outside and not overly crumbed, and soft and tender on the inside – cooked to perfection. The slaw had a nice mix of fresh cabbage and pickled daikon, so there was a good vinegary element from the pickle, plus the delightful creaminess of the kewpie. The katsu sauce was a bit different to the ones I’m used to from Japan (lighter in colour and a little more like curry than I expected) but was still tasty. The fries were just a tad dry for my taste, and the serving a bit big, but overall it was a great mid-week lunch.

Patissez, 21 Bougainville Street, Manuka ACT, https://www.patissez.com.au/

Kindred

Oh my, this restaurant has stolen my heart. Nestled in a cozy old house, with a hearty, warming menu, Kindred serves delightful food in style. I started with the chicken liver parfait, served with sourdough, apricot chutney and pickled vegetables ($16). The parfait was utter perfection – silky smooth and well-balanced in flavour, it was also light, fluffy and easy to spread. The sourdough was the thickest, tastiest I’ve ever had, drizzled in a little olive oil and lightly toasted, it was the perfect accompaniment. The pickled veggies added a nice, vinegary tartness to the dish, counterbalanced by the sweetness of the chutney. Perfect. For the main, I chose the pappardelle with lamb ragu and green olives ($26). The dish was so beautiful, although after a couple of mouthfuls I realised there were no olives! The staff hastily fixed this, and the dish was brought up to perfection. The pasta was thick, house-made and silky, and the ragu clung to it well. The lamb melted in your mouth, and I want to know whatever mix of herbs they use! The portion size was just right, and I found myself wishing I lived around the corner to be able to dine here more often. Definitely a new favourite.

Kindred, 137 Cleveland Street, Darlington NSW, http://www.kindredrestaurant.com.au/

Lazy Su

We ate so much at Lazy Su I’m not going to give a preamble, beyond ‘please go and eat there, the food is amazing’. First up was the yellowfin tuna tataki ($21), which was a small serve but had high quality, tender, plump tuna crusted in spices and served with wasabi. I could have eaten four plates of this and still wanted more. Dish 2 was the Ganjang fried chicken ($13), with three large pieces perfectly fried with a nice, not-too-thick batter and served with two beautiful dipping sauces, plus pickled veggies (mostly caluiflower). The chicken was so tender inside and the aioli in particular was super more-ish. Dish 3 was the chicken tonkatsu bao-ger (bao cross burger, $10) – obviously I went OTT on the fried chicken. Same quality as the full portion, but with extra aioli and slaw. The bun was fresh and soft, but I found this very filling (great value). We saved the best for last – hello “Bossam” noodle soup ($18), with 12-hour pork broth, pork belly, soy egg, pak choy and noodles. Oh my. The broth was to die for, with just the right amount of heat and perfectly flaked bits of pork floating in it – the ultimate comfort food. The noodles were cooked to perfection, and you all know how much of a sucker I am for ramen eggs. Heaven. I repeat – please go eat here, the food is amazing.

Lazy Su, 9 Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT, https://lazy-su.com.au/

Coffee Lab

I can’t believe I hadn’t been to Coffee Lab until now – this place is awesome! I met friends and we sat outside in the fresh air. I ordered the ‘No Ragrets’ (sic, $17), with a cornmeal hash brown, kale, poached eggs, Pialligo bacon and James Brown sauce. There was literally nothing about this dish I didn’t like. The hash brown was a creative interpretation, more like a baked potato in shape, and with a slightly grainier texture than a potato version, but still super tasty and filling. The kale was well-seasoned and moreish, while the Pialligo bacon worked its usual magic of making everything taste better. It was cooked with a good balance between crispy and soft. The eggs were perfectly poached, but what really brought the whole thing together was the James Brown sauce – I wonder if they’ll share the recipe with me? This dish brought together all the things I look for in a good breakfast – nothing too heavy, but filling, warming, and with good variety of texture. The menu here has a lot to offer, and I can’t wait to come back and explore it further.

Coffee Lab, 26 Narellan Place, Canberra ACT, no website

Flower Child

Sydney really knows how to do garden-inspired eateries. Flower Child has been on my radar for a while, and on a recent trip to Sydney we stopped in for a casual brunch. Oh my, the space here is so delightful. Full of indoor plants and botanical upholstery (without being too much), I would have loved to spend a whole day just enjoying the conservatory-like space. But, on to the food. I started with a fresh orange juice ($7), which came out with a slices of orange balanced on a cocktail stick above the juice. Yum. I ordered the Breakfast Plate ($17), with soft boiled eggs, maple bacon, avocado, quinoa and tomato salsa, goat’s curd and fig on sourdough. Firstly, maple bacon is the most delicious thing ever. Crispy, sweet and salty perfection. My dish also had two spears of asparagus (bonus!), which were tender and tasty, and I liked (but didn’t love) the grainy quinoa ‘salsa’ – it was more like a salad, I’d expected something saucier. The avocado portion was generous, and the eggs were correct for being boiled, although I still prefer poached. Overall this was a nice breakfast, but I think there are better menu items to explore. Until next time.

Flower Child, Westfield Warringah Mall, Condamine Street and Old Pittwater Road, Brookvale NSW, http://flowerchildcafe.com.au/