One of the best things about Tokyo is stumbling across hidden foodie gems – Sakana no Gogo was one of these finds. It doesn’t really look like a restaurant, and isn’t English-friendly, but if you have some Japanese (or are happy to eat anything) it is worth finding. A robata restaurant, once you’re seated you receive a bowl with hot coals and a grill plate above to cook dehydrated appetisers – squid, bonito fish and peppers. So, so good. The rest of the food is cooked in the kitchen, but you can see it clearly from the counter. We ordered a few yakitori dishes (asparagus, chicken) but the real stand-out was the eel. Creamy, tender and rich, we both started and finished with this dish (the clear favourite). We also tried the eggplant dish topped with bonito – it was tasty, but not the pick of the menu. We thoroughly enjoyed the flying fish – served lightly battered, salted and whole, we slowly picked our way through the meat (I couldn’t quite bring myself to eat the ‘wings’) which had beautiful flavour and was perfectly tender. All up with drinks the meal was about ¥3500 each – great value for such a fabulous dinner.
Sakana no Gogo, Kagurazaka 4-4, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
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/
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/
Chez Frederic has been getting a lot of my business lately – I’d forgotten how amazing it is, and this is no more evident than in my new favourite dish – the Aglio e olio ($12), one of the simplest, but most delicious, pasta dishes I’ve had in Canberra. There’s not too much to write here – this dish is authentic in its simplicity, with extra virgin olive oil, parsley, garlic and chilli, plus your choice of pasta, but somehow these ingredients come together in an explosion of flavour that takes me back to Italy. The pasta was cooked al dente, and the portion was huge – although I was greedy and ate most of it! There is a lot of oil, which makes the pasta nice and glossy, and the kick of chilli is lovely at the back of the throat. I can’t believe that so much flavour is extracted simply from parsley and olive oil, but there’s nothing else there to do it. Magic. I also treated myself to a side of garlic bread ($3.5), which was super garlicky and very, very yummy (useful to balance the chilli too). I’ll be back for this again soon.
Chez Frederic: 4/14 Lonsdale St, Braddon ACT, http://www.chezfrederic.com.au/
It has been way too hot to cook lately, so I met a friend at Betti Bravo’s for dinner to let them do the cooking. I started with a Mojito mocktail, which was refreshing with mint, soda and lime and, more importantly, a lot of ice. Our first plate was the Salted Cod Croquetas ($11, 3 to a serve) – these were beautifully fluffy on the inside, although the cod flavour was rather subtle for my expectations. I loved the spicy dipping sauce too – more please! Next was the Mexican Street Corn ($15, 4 to a serve), topped with chipotle aioli (seriously good), iberico cheese and lime. The lime really made this dish – there was heaps of cheese and the flavours worked in perfect tandem. For the main, we ordered the Paella with King Prawns ($33) and a Mixed Leaf Salad ($12) to lighten the load. The prawns were amazingly good, as were the mussels and pieces of fish and calamari (the latter two both plentiful) in the dish, and I loved the soft-but-not-gluggy texture they achieved. My friend, however, pointed out that there were no beautiful crispy bits of rice on the bottom, meaning it wasn’t served in the pan it was cooked in (a no-no for paella, apparently). The salad was simple and refreshing, and we were both glad of not having to do any dishes in this heat!
Betti Bravo’s, 6/2 Trevillian Quay, Kingston ACT, http://bettibravos.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/
Adelaide has some really rocking modern Asian fusion restaurants, and Fish Head joins the ranks with gusto. Offering Indonesia, Malay and Indian cuisine, the menu is exciting and fresh, just like the food. We went for dinner on a stinking hot weeknight, and ordered a bunch of dishes to share. First up, the tempura soft shell crab with a herb salad ($15.50) was utterly delicious – the crabmeat was tender, the shell crisp and the salad had a good amount of kick to it. The crispy pork belly ($12.50) paled a bit in comparison, and the staff didn’t explain there were only 3 pieces (4 of us were sharing), which was disappointing. But the mains were all excellent, starting with the gado gado ($17.50), drenched in peanut sauce with firm tofu and plenty of fresh vegetables, it was perfect and refreshing on a hot night. The highlight was definitely the butter chicken ($20), which we had with rice ($3.50 pp) and garlic naan ($3.50 pp). The chicken was super tender, and the curry had such depth of flavour I could have sat with a bowl all night. Highly recommended. We finished with a whole crispy barramundi ($35.50), which was very tasty but didn’t have a huge amount of meat, and a perfectly matched raw mango salad. Highly recommended.
Fish Head, 270 Morphett Street, Adelaide, SA, http://www.fishhead.net.au/