July 31, 2010

Newtown Eating Tour

"Time to get some dreadlocks and piercings, we're off to Newtown!"

Back in June we did an eating tour around Cabramatta and this time it was John's turn to show us around his suburb, and so I joined a bunch of food bloggers for a tour around Newtown. I was keen to see what this edgy part of Sydney had to offer as I don't venture out there too often.

We started the day at the Eveleigh Markets which really surprised me with the great range of good quality produce and artisan products.

Kylie Kwong cooking at her stall

Fresh produce

Beautiful chocolates from Gumnut and Chocolate meringues

Pork trotters


We continue our tour and stop at the Black Star Pastry to sample some of their delicious cakes. I think I must go back to Newtown just for these cakes!

Fig, quince and orange cake

Strawberry, Rose and Watermelon cake

Lemon Meringue & Chocolate and Caramel Tart with Basil Jelly

After the cakes it's Pastizzi Cafe for some savoury and sweet pastizzi. The pastry is absolutely beautiful: incredibly flaky but not too greasy. The savoury collection includes a variety of flavour combinations such as spinach & ricotta, vegie curry, meat & curry and chili con carne. We have a choice of apple and chocolate & ricotta for sweet pastizzi and both are just perfect.
Collection of savoury pastizzis

Apple pastizzi and Chocolate & Ricotta Pastizzi

After some shopping at the Fiji Market we have a quick treat of traditional Indian sweets, but they are a tad too sweet for my taste.

Indian Sweets

We head to lunch to a Sri Lankan restaurant called Kammadhenu where we order a few dishes to share. The food is fragrant, delicious and some of it quite spicy, but I really enjoy the new flavours.

Deep fried cauliflower is crunchy and flavoursome

Goat saag definitely has a kick to it, but the meat is so tender and delicious
Eggplant salad is refreshing

String hoppers with a spicy curry

Egg hoppers

Lamb masala dosai & Cheese masala dosai - my favourite; I just love the thin crispy pancake with delicious fillings and the different dipping

And of course we can't leave Newtown without gelato so the final pit stop is at Gelatomassi!

Thank you John!

Eveleigh Markets

243 Wilson St
Eveleigh, NSW

Black Star Pastry
277 Australia St
Newtown, NSW

Pastizzi Cafe
523 King St
Newtown, NSW

Fiji Market
591 King St
Newtown, NSW

377 King St
Newtown, NSW

262 King Street
Newtown, NSW

July 30, 2010

Trout with matcha salt, black sesame salt and soy fried rice

It often happens that a new cook book is all I need to feel inspired and motivated again. Having been sick with a cold all week a parcel from the bookdepository.com really lifted my mood: Washoku by Elisabeth Andoh could not have arrived at a better time!

I am so fascinated by the concept of this book. Washoku is all about "the art of creating nutritional and aesthetic harmony at the table", something that we so easily fogret in our busy daily lives. Reading this book really made me feel serene (although I can't guarantee the heavy flu medication had nothing to do with it), and dream of a life less busy, less stressful and more balanced in every way.

The idea to try different salts with my dinner also came from this book, and I decided to experiment with a matcha salt and a black sesame salt, both of which are my favourite flavors.

Matcha salt

1 tsp sea salt flakes
1/4 tsp matcha powder

Grind gently in a mortar and pestle. Serve with fish or use as a dip for fried foods.

Black sesame salt

1 tbs black sesame seeds
1 tsp sea salt

Grind in a mortar and pestle. Serve with fish or dish of your choice.

Pan fry the filet of fish...

...and serve the salts with the fish

Soy fried rice

cooked brown rice
soy sauce
canola oil

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the rice and let cook until slightly browned and crisped. Season with soy sauce.

Happy weekend everyone!

July 26, 2010

Simple Balsamic Sesame Chicken

This is another simple chicken recipe I got from the Bento website. You only need a few ingredients but it still offers something a little bit different for a quick weekday meal. I really love the taste of sesame and if you're like me you can even add a little sesame oil to give it more flavour.

Without sounding like I'm preaching I think this is another great example how healthy home cooked meals can be as quick and easy (not to mention tasty) to prepare as take away meals which are still a rarity in my house. I love using brown or red rice instead of plain white rice for a nuttier taste.

Balsamic Sesame Chicken

500g chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
4 tbs balsamic vinegar (use less if you don't want it as strong)
2 tbs soy sauce (I use less salty soy sauce)
5tbs sesame seeds

Combine the chicken, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce and let marinade for at least half an hour.
Sprinkle the sesame seeds on the chicken (you can drain of the marinade if you don't want to use it). Heat oil in a pan, add the chicken pieces and cook until brown and fully cooked through. Serve with brown rice.

July 24, 2010

Wagaya, Haymarket

It was almost two years ago when I first heard about Wagaya, a Japanese restaurant in Sydney's Haymarket. It sounded like such a fun dining experience with a touch screen for ordering food and a sushi roulette for entertainment. For some unknown reason I never ended up visiting this place up until now, after all my friends (and probably most of Sydney) had already established its opinion about it.

Wagaya unfortunately follows the growing number of restaurants with a time limit on their tables, so we settled for an early dinner with friends (from 6pm until 8pm). They only also hold the tables for 10 minutes, so I was a little panicky about everyone making it on time.

We did end up having a good time, and in my opinion the menu is so extensive, that even that is a good enough reason to go back. The restaurant also has a large selection of colourful cocktails to chose from which together with the other unusual stuff is enough to attract the young crowd.

Ninja Turtle - A Gin based cocktail

Dragon water - Shochu based cocktail with oolong tea

Iced green tea latte - Hey I don't mind having ice cream with my main!

Crumbed Cheese

The crumbed cheese is soft and tasty, but for a cheese lover like myself 4 tiny pieces (for $6.90) just isn't enough to satisfy the cravings.

Ox tongue

Another dish I have been recommended to try is the ox tongue and I am really happy the flavour and the texture of this dish. For $5.80 this is also pretty good value.

Hotate kushiyaki - Grilled scallop

I'm starting to realise why ordering via the tableside touch screen can be dangerous. These two small skewers of grilled scallop put us back $8.50, but they are very tasty (AND they look so good on the computer screen).

Beef tataki

Beef tataki is very tender and served with the traditional mix of green onions, wasabi and a soy based dipping sauce.

Assorted sashimi & sushi (small $21.50)

I'm very pleased with the variety of the assorted sashimi & sushi platter. I don't recall seeing raw prawn included in the sashimi platter very often either!

Assorted sashimi & sushi

Tonkatsu ramen ($8.90)

Ramen is perfect winter food and my friends order the tonkatsu ramen and the Wagaya shio ramen which are both (so I am being told) tasty, but not generous with the amount of meat in the dish.

Eel chakuze ($7.90)

I absolutely love eel and can't go past it this time either. I order the eel chakuze which is made by pouring green tea, dashi or hot water over cooked rice and sprinkled with dried seaweed and other toppings. It would be a perfect comfort meal if only it would have a bit more eel in it.

The service is almost as quick as in Russia where they are infamous of taking away your plates as soon as they are empty, and I can't help feeling that with the time limit on place we are rushed to get out. Otherwise it was a pleasant experience and I hope it won't take me another two years to go back and try what else this place has to offer.

Level 1, 78 Harbour Street,
Tel. (02) 9212 6068

July 22, 2010

Mamak, Haymarket - Why is it so popular?

"We should get there early, otherwise the queues will be too long", my friend tells me with a hint of panic in her voice. I get a flashback of seeing the queue stretch a whole block: "I can be there at 5pm".

Mamak, the insanely popular Malaysian restaurant on Goulburn Street in Sydney's Haymarket is showing no signs of slowing down. When we get there at 5pm, the line behind us starts growing steadily, and the restaurant doesn't even open for dinner until 5.30pm! By the time the door opens I am too excited to even look back, but by the time we step out 1,5 hours later, there are tens of people lining up and I'm sure that's how it is the whole night. Every night.

So why is Mamak so popular? I'll give you a few reasons why...

Teh tarik

We start with drinks and I'm loving the fact that the menu is full of drinks I have never heard of. I am told Malaysians love Milo (why?), which explains the large amount of Milo flavoured drinks. I love to order things I can't properly pronounce so I go for Teh Tarik, which, according to the menu is a "classic Malaysian sweetened tea, 'stretched' for a frothy topping'. I can't make up my mind about this, but end up finishing the whole glass so it must have been good.

Roti telur

I have heard so much about the rotis here, I can't wait to try some. We want something a bit more wholesome so we go for the Roti telur, which is a classic egg roti. All savoury rotis are served two curry dips and a spicy sambal sauce that threatens to blow my brains out on the first lick. I decide to leave the sambal to my friend and instead settle for the curries which are both very flavoursome, but a tad too spicy for my inadequate palate.

Roti telur

Roti telur

Chicken satay

The tender and moist chicken satay is served with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce which is just the perfect spiciness for someone like me who is not yet quite up to speed with chilli-loving. I am surprised it is served with raw cucumber and Spanish onion, but apparently that's how they do it in Malaysia. I am not complaining :)

Nasi lemak with lamb

Known as Malaysia's national dish, Nasi Lemak has everything going on: coconut rice, sambal, tender lamb, crunchy peanuts (gosh I love nuts!), crispy anchovies, cucumber and hard boiled egg. I mean, what else would you possibly need?! Everything is there for a reason and together it just ends up being the most perfect taste of Malaysia I have ever had (okay, so this happens to be my first ever Malaysian dinner, but still).

Nasi lemak with lamb

Roti kaya

"DESSERRRTSS!", I squeal (like I do after almost every meal). We see a huge roti cone in the neighbouring table, but decide to go for roti kaya which is a roti filled with kaya spread (made out of coconut and pandan). I have an unexplainable fascination for kaya so I can't wait to try it in a roti. "Mmmmm", I response louder than Maeve O' Meara. It's so good. I don't know what else to say. And serve me anything with ice cream and I'm all for it.

Roti kaya

So this, my dear friend, is why there is always a queue...