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/
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/
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/
I hadn’t really noticed the lack of Greek food in Canberra until my friend and I were perusing the menu at Zeus. Newly opened, Zeus offers classic pita and souvla, plus a selection of sweets. I ordered the Spartan Box with lamb ($16.5 + $2 for lamb), which is essentially 140g of lamb served on top of a delicate mixed rice pilaf, with sides of tzatziki and coleslaw. We also ordered a side of fetta & oregano chips to share ($9.5) – these weren’t strictly necessary, but they were tasty! The fetta fell off easily, so we learned to skewer them with our forks, and I thought the chips could have used a tad longer in the frier, but I’d happily chow on these again. The lamb in the Spartan Box was tender and tasty, with a reasonable amount of fat and a fairly magical rub on the outer pieces (give me more of those bits please, especially drizzled with fresh lemon!). The ‘slaw had beautifully fresh walnuts inside, and the tzatziki matched the lamb well. We were also offered a complimentary plate of loukoumades (usually $8) for dessert. I’d eaten way too much already, but these Greek doughnuts are drizzled in a super tasty cinnamon-dusted honey and walnuts, so I forced myself to have one. Yum, yum, yum. Can’t wait to come back and try the pitas!
Zeus Street Greek, Shop 7/21 Genge Street, Canberra City, ACT, http://zeusstreetgreek.com.au/
Lunch with my Mum at Urban Pantry was a treat for the tastebuds. We sat out on the breezy deck, and decided to share two lighter dishes – the kingfish ceviche ($18) and the chargrilled octopus ($24), and I treated myself to a house lychee soad ($7). The soda was refreshing, although the lychee flavour had to be mixed in, which was tricky given the glass was packed with ice! But the flavour was lovely, with a sprig of fresh mint. We ate the octopus salad first, devouring the plump, tender pieces doused in a tangy vinagrette. I would have liked a more smokey flavour from a chargrill, but that was my only complaint. The salad had a magic pesto hidden inside – magic, because it was one of the best pestos I’ve ever tried, and it was fun to discover it amid the chickpeas, green beans, kipfler potatoes, roasted capsicum strips and salad leaves. The ceviche was a strong finish, with caviar balanced on top of a radish slice balanced on top of a pile of kingfish, avocado and fresh tomato, accompanied by slices of a luscious lavosh. A mouthful with a bit of everything was heavenly, and we hardly spoke a word while eating. Definitely coming back for both dishes.
Urban Pantry, 5 Bougainville Street, Griffith ACT, http://www.urbanpantrymanuka.com.au/
Argh, so many posts to catch up on – here’s a fun one from earlier this month. You know it’s going to be a good Christmas party when the lunch part of the party is at Brodburger. We pre-ordered for about 15 people and found a standing table outside in part sun, part shade. I hadn’t tried their baby burgers before, so ordered the Baby Brod Chicken ($10) with a small side of fries ($3). The baby size is such a winner, being just enough food and leaving room for the delicious Brodburger shoestring fries. As always, the burger was cooked to perfection, with a succulent, tender chicken breast, perfectly salty bacon, creamy avocado and the magic homemade chilli aioli that is the x-factor in their burgers. The fresh ingredients plus the well-thought out combination of flavours makes the Brod Chicken one of my favourites: bacon, chicken and avo are meant to be together. The fries could have been cooked a tad longer for my taste, but were nicely seasoned and came with tomato dipping sauce. I’d highly recommend pre-ordering, to save notoriously long wait times and deliver the burger goods right away!
Brodburger, Canberra Glassworks, 11 Wentworth Ave, Kingston ACT http://www.brodburger.com.au
Spring is such a great time to head out to Some Cafe in Collector – the sunshine is delightful in the old homestead building, and the food is as fresh and locally produced as ever. Dad and I stopped in for lunch, and I couldn’t resist starting with a caramel slice, before our proper lunch order. Best. Caramel. Slice. Ever. Please, if you haven’t tried it, it’s worth the trip for that alone. I ordered the Toastie ($12) for lunch, with BoxGum ham, tomato, cheddar cheese, mustard and mayo, served with pickles on the side (yes!). The bread was fresh and huge (luckily I was hungry), perfectly toasted and crisp. The simplicity of the toastie was what made it so good – the local ingredients spoke for themselves, with perfectly oozy cheese, fresh sliced tomato and the ham – oh yum! So much flavour bursting in each mouthful. I wish I could make them this good at home. Not to mention the pickles, which were beautifully tasty with a slight sweetness to them. As always the staff were lovely and welcoming – they didn’t even judge us when we bought a second caramel slice for the road!
Some Cafe, 5-7 Murray Street, Collector NSW, http://www.somecafe.com.au/
Westside Acton is an ideal place for a quick lunch in the sunshine, and Dad and I made the most of it on a warm weekday afternoon. I wanted to try something I haven’t had before, so went for the beef tacos from The One ($6.50 each, or $12 for two). The food was ready quite quickly, and I was pleased to see how packed the tacos were! The real attraction here is the sous-vide beef, pulled, tender and well-seasoned – there was a good amount piled on the top and I found it more than met my expectations! I completed loved the mixed salad underneath (think bean sprouts, coriander, cabbage and onion), not to mention the pickled slices of cucumber on top (more please). The whole thing was wrapped in a fresh tortilla (no hard taco shells here) and with a drizzle of the lime wedge provided on top, it was a lively, tasty lunch. I was quite hungry, so managed to get through both, but next time I’d want to try two different ones to mix things up a bit. Dad loved his Cubanos too (yes, it was as good as I remember). Love this place!
The One, Westside Acton, 3 Barrine Drive, Acton ACT
A Bite to Eat is one of my favourite Canberra cafes – the eclectic vibe here is so relaxed and the food is reliably good. I took Mum for a late lunch one Saturday afternoon. I ordered the ‘Morty’, which is part of the all day breakfast menu – clay-baked meatballs in a spicy, roasted tomato sauce with a poached egg and parmesan. Yum. Unfortunately we weren’t told there was a backlog in the kitchen, and after waiting for 45 minutes we were pretty frustrated and hungry. The food took another 10 minutes to come out after that, but, to be fair, both of our meals came together. Topped with crusty toast and a sprinkling of sprouts to lighten what would have otherwise been quite a heavy dish, the serving was actually very filling, depsite looking a bit small. Three tender, perfectly-cooked meatballs were inside, well-suited to the tomato sauce, although there was less of this than I would have ideally liked. The egg was cooked through by the time it got to the table, but brought something of the breakfast vibe. Whilst this wasn’t my best experience, the quality of the food didn’t suffer despite the delay, and I would order this dish again for sure.
A Bite to Eat, 8 Eggleston Crescent, Chifley, ACT http://www.abitetoeat.net.au/
I couldn’t do #sydneyweek without a burger. I mean, come on… There are many things that make a good burger – a nicely charred patty, a killer combination of sauce and cheese, and a generous serving of pickles, just to name a few. Armed with this mental list, I found myself ordring the Classic (beef, cheese, tomato jam, mustard mayonnaise, and pickes, $12) to see if Chur Burger stacks up with the best of them. My first impression was “wow”. The burger was stacked beautifully and looked appetising and delicious. It took me a few bites to get to any filling – the buns were oversized proportionate to the filling – but once I reached the good stuff it was tick, tick, tick off my list. The patty was perfectly charred and whilst cooked through (the best are a tad pink), I was happy to sacrifice pinkness for charring. The sauces each added significant flavour and worked well with the melted cheese. I was particularly impressed by the pickles here, which are McClure’s, imported from the States. We also shared a plate of sweet potato fries ($8), which has such great flavour. They weren’t crispy, but they tasted so god you hardly noticed, and the aioli for dipping was perfect. Great burger, great service, great vibe.
Chur Burger, 48 Albion Street, Surry Hills NSW, http://www.churburger.com.au/