I’d always thought of Chaco Bar as a yakitori place, and it is, but only for dinner. We went for a weekend lunch, and discovered that the lunch menu is all about the ramen. I picked the yuzu scallop ramen ($16), with one bearded Hokkaido scallop, a wanton, black mushrooms, leek, Japanese mustard greens (mizuna) and butter, plus an egg as extra ($3). I also ordered a yuzu and lychee soda ($7), which was huge, beautifully refreshing and possibly my new favourite drink ever. Now, the ramen was a first for me – I’ve only ever tried ramen with pork, miso or soy broth, but this was a seafood broth, and it was beautiful. It was lighter than the other kinds, although surprisingly rich, particularly with the butter stirred through, and the yuzu in the broth really helped balance it out. The scallop was a little bit chewy, but I’d never had a bearded one before, so that may be usual. The ramen had a perfect amount of bite, and I really liked the mustard greens, which also helped cut through the rich seafoodiness of the broth. The egg, as all ramen eggs are, was perfection, and I saved it until last (although the wanton was a close contender for best bit – soft skin, tasty insides). I will definitely be back!
Chaco Bar, 238 Crown Street, Darlinghurst NSW, http://www.chacobar.com.au/
Thanks so much for following along this year, I really appreciate each of your comments and likes – stay tuned for more adventures in 2017! Kinokuniya is an awesome bookshop, made even more awesome by the presence of Black Star Pastry’s little dine-in cafe. We waited a while for a table to become free, then ordered a serve of the raspberry and lychee cake, which I hadn’t seen before, to eat-in. The glazed fresh raspberries and lychee on top looked so good dusted in edible rose petals – it was calling to me, what can I say? I had no regrets – this baby is as tasty as it looks. The cake is made up of layers of raspberry marshmellow and vanilla cream, and – surprise! – there’s a rich chocolate biscuit base that anchors the cake literally, and pulls the light, sweet flavours together too. It’s quite a sweet cake, although the raspberries give a nice tartness, and the light, fluffy cream layers are particularly lovely. Mum got the lemon and pistachio zen cake, with lemon curd and pistachio dacquoise, which was also refreshing and scrumptious. You basically can’t go wrong here.
Black Star Pastry, Books Kinokuniya, The Galeries Level 2, 500 George St Sydney, NSW, http://www.blackstarpastry.com.au/
Part one of this review is here. We ordered two of the hot meze, starting with the charcoal octopus served with witlof and tomato ezme, a salad made from tomato, garlic, onion and parsley ($23). The dish was simple and very effective, with the perfectly charcoaled octopus meat packed with flavour and presented to its best advantage with little adornment. The ezme was a refreshing accompaniment, balanced well by the bitterness of the witlof. Finally, on the manager’s recommendation, we chose the Hanger beef fillet, with field mushrooms and maple-cured pastirma ($38). The beef is sourced from butcher Victor Churchill, and is rested for 250 days. Cooked medium-rare and sliced to reveal beautiful marbling, this prime cut was tasty and tender. But it transformed into something magic in combination with the juicy, plump mushrooms that melted in the mouth and the sweet pastirma straps – a mouthful with everything was utter perfection. We all sat there, stunned as each dish came out as excellent as the last, wishing we had stomach space for another one. Sadly we didn’t have room for dessert either, but this will not be our last visit, for sure.
Anason, 5/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo NSW, http://anason.com.au/
Wandering through Barangaroo, Anason’s vibrant blue doors stand out against the concrete and hanging plants. Headed up by chef Somer Sivrioglu, Anason brings a taste of Turkey to Sydney’s newest district, the plates structured as meze to share. Everything here is done with class, and first up I have to say the service was above and beyond. All the tables are alfresco (with a few bar stools inside), and heaters were turned on to combat the evening breeze. We were stepped through the menu, and I couldn’t resist the call of white cod roe tarama ($16), topped with fingerlime and served with tiny rounds of sesame bread, like croutons. The dip was perfectly salty and creamy, with a delicate roe flavour and a fabulous pop and slight tartness from the fingerlime. We ordered a side of pita bread ($3 per piece), which was sprinkled with very fine dukkha and went perfectly with the dip. Dish two was generously provided on the house – cured salmon pastirma (usually $21), served with fennel and pickled chilli. The salmon is coated in the same spices as beef pastrami, and left to hang for 18 hours. The dish retains the salmon’s flavour, while absorbing the gorgeous mix of spices – the pickled chilli is flavoursome rather than spicy, and the portion is generous and filling. Part two to follow.
Anason, 5/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo NSW, http://anason.com.au/
My love for The Potting Shed knowns no bounds. I mean, where else can you be beautifully surrounded by plants, hang out with a macaw AND get great food? Seriously, if you know somewhere else, I’m there. Anyway, my parents and I stopped in after I got back from South America, and I ventured away from burgers and sandwiches, and ordered the Wild Mushroom Pappardelle ($28), with a soft-boiled egg and burnt butter. Firstly, this dish is so pretty it should have its own fan club. With tonnes of mushrooms (including several different varieties, like oyster, Swiss brown and enoki) and silky, slithery pasta, the luxury of an egg only upped the already excellent flavour game. The portion was a great size for lunch, although my jet-lagged stomach struggled to finish it, despite my best efforts. I also enjoyed a fresh juice with orange, pineapple and passionfruit – it was large, tasty and had fresh strawberries inside too (bonus). I’m planning to come back for this dish again when I have more stomach space. And to see the macaw, obviously.
The Potting Shed at The Grounds of Alexandria, Shop 7A, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria, NSW http://groundsroasters.com/
Dear Ippudo, it has been a while, but I’m back. I’ve missed you, so rather than getting straight into the ramen, we started with a plate of the sesame cucumber, which was sliced and dusted with sesame, chilli and a delicious oil that probably isn’t good for you but which was incredibly tasty. I mean, how do you make cucumber taste that good? I’ll definitely come back for that one. I decided to try your Akamaru Shinaji ($16) ramen – your original tonkotsu broth was beautifully rich and fatty, with that tongue-coating thickness from the garlic oil and miso paste. The thin slices of pork belly were tender, and each bite of spring onion lifted the pork into extra-deliciousness. I had a moment of panic when I realised my favourite part of ramen was missing – what, no egg? – but you had me covered, it’s easy to order as a side ($2). Oh and the noodles were cooked nice and bitey, just the way I like them. Washed down with a glass of hot umeshu (plum wine), the whole meal was a delight. Let’s do this again sometime soon. Cheers, Sharon
Ippudo, The District, 436 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood NSW, http://www.ippudo.com.au/
Generally eclairs aren’t the first sweet I’ll go for in a French patisserie – not when there are pain au chocolate or macarons – but on this occasion I set out to buy eclairs, so buy eclairs I did. The selection here is impressive to say the least – it took the cashier a serious couple of minutes to rattle off all of the flavours – but eventually I settled on panut butter, crunchy hazelnut, mixed berry and fruits of the forest (in descending order from the top of the photo). The peanut butter was the least impressive, tasting far more of peanuts than the rich peanut butter flavour, but the texture of both the choux pastry and the cream inside were delightful. The hazelnut flavour fared better, with a great amount of crunch from the nuts on top and a perfectly smooth, rich cream inside. The mixed berry brought the cream into its own – such flavour! The fresh berries were plentiful and well-matched to the simple cream. But the star of the show was the fuits of the forest, which had a flavoured cream inside and shone; both literally, as it was sprinkled with glitter, and flavour-wise. If you haven’t already, definitely make a stop here. I’m an eclair convert now.
Croquembouche Patisserie, 1635 Botany Road, Banksmeadow NSW, http://croquembouche.com.au/