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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Penang Cuisine, Epping

Lobak from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney

Never tried lobak? It’s a dish much loved in Penang, and central to any celebration or festival by Straits Chinese. These Malaysian five spice rolls ($6) combine tenderised pork mince with the crunch of water chestnuts, all wrapped up in a beancurd sheet and deep fried to a crisp. They’re one of the house specialties at Penang Cuisine, easily missed in its hidden corner within a modest commercial complex in Epping. And yet this compact 30-seater has a non-stop flow of students, families and couples huddled over steaming bowls of curry laksa, digging into plates of mee goreng fried noodles or squabbling over the last satay chicken skewer.

Penang fried kway teow from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Penang fried kway teow $13.90

Just like the hawker outlets of its namesake, the food here celebrates the cheap and the cheerful in equal measure. Patrons are more than happy to swap out fancy decor and stylised plating for budget-friendly homestyle cooking with generous portions. Penang fried kway teow, for example, is a mammoth serve of slippery flat rice noodles with prawns, fishcake and Chinese lup cheong sausage. It’s all doused in soy and wok-fried over intense heat so you get little charred bits of goodness.

Har mee prawn noodle soup from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Har mee prawn noodle soup $14.90

Har mee prawn noodle soup is all about the broth, a rich and satisfying stock made from prawn heads. Slurp up two kinds of noodles with slices of pork, fishcake, whole prawns, water spinach and boiled egg.

Assam seafood from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Assam seafood $18.90

If you order the Assam seafood make sure you get a serve of plain boiled rice. You’ll need it to soak up that tangy and spicy tomato and tamarind sauce, jam-packed with prawns, fish fillets and calamari.

Cendol from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Cendol $5.50

Don’t leave without having dessert. Cendol is a Penang favourite, a mountain of shaved ice heaped over green pea flour jelly noodles, sweetened red beans and lashings of caramelly gula melaka palm sugar syrup.

If you time your visit right you might hit one of the rotating weekend specials, that include Hainan chicken, assam laksa (mackerel and tamarind noodle soup) and mee rebus (egg noodles in a curry-like gravy).

Spicy fried chicken wings from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Spicy fried chicken wings $6

Lobak, har mee and Penang fried kway teow from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Lobak, har mee and Penang fried kway teow

Ice kacang from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Ice kacang $5.50
Shaved ice with red beans, creamed corn, grass jelly and palm seeds flavoured with rose syrup, fresh coconut milk and evaporated milk

Penang Cuisine Malaysian restaurant in Epping Sydney


Penang Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Penang Cuisine
Genesis Commercial Building
Shop 32, 74-76 Rawson Street, Epping

Opening hours
Lunch daily 11.30am-2.30pm
Dinner Monday and Wednesday to Sunday 5.30pm-9pm (til 10pm on Friday and Saturday)


This article first appeared in Time Out Sydney. Read this article online or read more of my Time Out Sydney reviews.

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/30/2017 01:14:00 am


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sweet Envy, Hobart

Nutter Butter at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania

Walk into Sweet Envy and you're guaranteed to feel like a kid in a candy store. This pastry shop and cafe is a throw back to all your childhood favourites, all handmade with textbook finesse. That includes the Tim Tam reinvented as the Mit Mat, and the Ro-Vo, a spin-off of the iced Vo-Vo. Classically trained pastry chef Alistair Wise is the mind behind the madness, a Hobart local who worked at Circa, The Prince in Melbourne, before working for Gordon Ramsay in London and New York.

Cupcakes, biscuits, macarons and sweets at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Sweet tooth heaven

Wise returned to Hobart with his wife Teena Kearney-Wise (also a chef) and opened Sweet Envy in 2010. It's hard not to press your nose up against the glass upon first sight of the cake counter.

Joy's Prickly Box cupcakes at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Joy's Prickly Box $4

Jatz pie at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Jatz pie $5.50

Lemon delicious cupcakes at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Lemon delicious $4

Scallop pie at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Scallop pie $9

We started with savouries when we stopped by for lunch, our sights firmly set on their famed scallop pie.

Scallop pie with XO sauce and daikon at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Inside the scallop pie

The scallop pie here diverges from the usual Tasmanian version with curry. Here it's more of an Asian influence, thick chunks of scallop with braised daikon in an XO sauce. The pastry is standout, brilliantly flaky and crisp with visible layers. It provides a pleasing contrast against the soft daikon, its sweet and salty XO flavours not overpowering the flavour of the scallop.

Pork and fennel sausage roll at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Pork and fennel sausage roll $4.50

We also dive into the pork and fennel sausage roll.

Inside the pork and fennel sausage roll at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Inside the pork and fennel sausage roll

It's another messily delicious pastry fest, its golden brown top scattered with fennel seeds. The homemade tomato chutney on the side is a flavour bonus. The filling is noticeably meaty too, without the usual reliance of cheap fillers like bread crumbs and pork fat.

Pecan sticky bun at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Pecan sticky bun $5

Their pecan sticky bun is fast becoming a cult classic, recently named in a list of Australia's Best Dishes of 2016 by Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Pecan sticky bun close-up at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Close-up on the pecan sticky bun

The pecan sticky buns are inspired by Thomas Keller's version at Bouchon. While that one is brioche based, Wise's version here is more of a croissant-like dough. A thick covering of dark caramel is salty and pushed right to the edge of bittersweet. A generous covering of pecans brings it all together. It's super rich and, as promised, very sticky.

Jatz pie at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Jatz pie

We also couldn't resist the Jatz pie.

Jatz pie at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Jatz pie

We're not sure what to expect. It ends up tasting less salty than I thought it would, its filling tasting like a cross between a caramel slice and an American chess pie. It's still hard not to chortle at the Jatz crackers on top. Much fun.

Raspberry rose macarons at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Raspberry rose macarons

In addition to cakes, they have sandwiches on housemade breads. When we visited, fillings included butter poached chicken, slow roast beef, vegetarian and chorizo. Pie fillings include milk braised pork plus a chili recipe based on Elizabeth Taylor's favourite recipe.

A freezer cabinet holds a rainbow of ice creams, all churned daily using the leftover yolks from all those macarons. Flavours change all the time but might include raspberry and rhubarb; chilli, lime and coconut; or pumpkin pie.

Mit mat, the full monty and mint royale at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Mit mat, the full monty and mint royale

Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania


Sweet Envy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sweet Envy
341 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart, Tasmania
Tel: +61 (03) 6234 8805

Opening hours
Tuesday to Saturday 8.30am-5pm


<< Read the first Tasmania 2017 post - Pigeon Hole Bakers, Hobart


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/23/2017 10:42:00 pm


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Restaurant Sasaki, Surry Hills

Shaving bonito for the takimono at Restaurant Sasak Japanese restauranti in Surry Hills Sydney

Only locals know about Nithsdale Lane, a shortcut through the backstreets of Surry Hills. It's about to get a whole lot more foot traffic, with the opening of Restaurant Sasaki, the first solo restaurant venture by Cafe Cre Asion owner and chef, Yu Sasaki. It's a restaurant concept that's been a long time coming. Sasaki, whose CV includes stints at Marque, Universal and French Laundry, had been wanting to open a restaurant for several years. When the space behind Cafe Cre Asion became available - it was once the office of an architecture firm - Sasaki jumped at the opportunity.

Counter seating at Restaurant Sasaki in Surry Hills Sydney
Counter seating

The laneway entry feels just like an alleyway in Japan, complete with noren curtains hanging in the doorway. The interior has been designed by Sasaki and Natsumi Yawata, a young Japanese architect who is also Sasaki's cousin.

It's also tiny. There are just 25 seats, including 9 stools around a u-shaped counter.

Table setting with washi paper placemats at Restaurant Sasaki in Surry Hills Sydney
Table setting with washi paper placemats

The look is clean and uncluttered, designed to feel like a Japanese tea house. I half expected to find an onsen bathhouse next door. Much of the decor and crockery, including the tables and chairs, were imported from Japan. The placemats (made from Japanese washi paper complete with embedded hay) explain the Sasaki philosophy, one that encourages customers to appreciate the beauty and design in everyday objects.

Trevally, chive and wasabi at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Trevally, chive and wasabi $19

The daily changing menu reads more like a shopping list of ingredients, grouped under sub-headings of meat, seafood, vegetables and side dishes. Staff do explain most dishes, and will happily answer any questions you have, but it's probably worth checking Instagram before you dine, unless you're happy wih surprises.

We start with the trevally served sashimi style, thin slices dipped in the accompanying soy sauce and garnished with your choice of toasted sesame seeds, wasabi and deep fried garlic chips. The garlic is particularly crisp without any of its usual harsh pungency.

Veal tataki, witlof and shiso at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Veal, witlof and shiso $16

Veal tataki is a fine dice of seared veal dressed with shiso and soy. The veal is soft, sweet and tender, served in little boats of crunchy witlof. This has to be one of the most elegant finger foods you can eat in Sydney right now.

Shaving bonito for the takimono at Restaurant Sasak Japanese restauranti in Surry Hills Sydney
Shaving bonito for the takimono

Order the takimono for a bonus display of tableside theatre. A wooden box grater is brought over that staff will use to shave a large hunk of dried bonito. The smell of dried tuna is intoxicating. After grating,  a little drawer at the bottom is removed so its wispy contents can be transferred to your bowl of takimono.

Takimono with shaved bonito at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Takimono $11

The takimono is a mix of cooked radish, carrot and mushroom. The addition of the shaved bonito adds both umami and textural contrast. You can also see in the picture above how narrow the chopstick ends are - ideal for precision eating.

Egg and crab chawanmushi at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Egg and crab $11

If you like chawanmushi, you'll love the egg and crab. This quivering huddle of silken steamed egg is packed with generous chunks of crab. It's served straight from the steamer, forcing you to wait patiently until its scalding hot contents cool to an edible temperature.

Pine mushrooms, egg and fontina cheese at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Mushroom, egg and cheese $21

Mushroom, egg and cheese yields a surprising assembly of panko-crumbed pine mushrooms coated in a fontina cheese foam. At the bottom we find a surprise onsen egg. Dip the crunchy fried mushroom into both the cheese and the stickily rich egg yolk for an eye-closing moment.

Prawn ceviche with apple and coriander at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Prawn, apple and coriander $17

Prawns are served ceviche-style, dressed with a mild apple vinegar and garnished with a fine dice of apple and baby coriander sprigs. The sweet prawns, or ama ebi, have a lush stickiness. Make sure you get all the meat out of the heads for a flavour jackpot.

Salt-crusted pork at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Pork, salt and daikon $26

The pork chop is baked in a salt crust, cracked open to reveal juicy pork pieces. The salt crust, our waiter explains, took many hours of testing, as it needed to be strong enough to withstand the pork juices without leaking. The disc of daikon on the side almost steals the show though, a simmered disc of almost translucent daikon topped with a glossy paste of mustard and miso.

Takikomi gohan mixed rice with mushroom at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Rice $9

The rice is takikomia gohan, a traditional mixed rice that changes its ingredients daily. Today its mushrooms cooked into the rice seasoned with soy and dashi. The best bits are the crunchy shards of rice scraped from the bottoms and sides of the pot.

Grilled sardines with onion and chive at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Sardines, onion and chive $19

You'll want to save some of your rice to have with the sardines, butterflied whole and grilled with a teriyaki-style sauce. It's a sticky and sweet contrast that works well with the oily fish.

Turnip, cauliflower and miso soup at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Turnip, cauliflower and miso with sourdough toast $18

We finish the turnip, cauliflower and miso soup, not a universal hit around the table but one of my favourites of the night. There's a layered complexity to the thick soup, from the earthy tones of turnip to nutty cauliflower to the savoury back notes of miso. The sourdough toast is worth marvelling over too, a brittle lattice of crunch that is both refined and elegant.

Genmai and ginger sable cookie at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Genmai and ginger $4
with sencha yuzu $12

Drinks include Japanese wines, sake, shochu and fruit sake. Beer is by The Grifter. There's a broad selection of specialty sencha teas including a yuzu sencha that's zingy with lemony citrus. Matcha green tea is also available, prepared in the traditional style with a chasen bamboo whisk.

Desserts are in the style of hitokuchi gashi, designed to be eaten in one bite. The genmai and ginger sable cookie is one that's also available at Cre Asion, crumbling into a short and buttery sigh.

Apple, custard and puff at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Apple, custard and puff $8

The apple custard and puff combines stewed apple with frozen custard. Tiles of caramelised puff pastry across the top are incredibly brittle and delicious.

Caramel and nuts monaka wafer and potato and butter at Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney
Caramel and nuts $8 each and
potato and butter $4 each

Potato and butter is a flashback to one of Sasaki's favourite childhood treats. It's a carb lover's sandwich of sweet potato chips around a ball of sweet potato mash. The caramel and nuts is the clear winner in the dessert section for me, a duo of mixed nuts in soy caramel with caramel cream in a monaka wafer shell.

We spent about $70 per head on a meal that was exciting and interesting. Service staff were still (expectedly) finding their feet on day three, but we still emerged feeling calmer and more at peace with the world. Definitely worth investigating.

Restaurant Sasaki Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney


Sasaki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Sasaki
21 Alberta Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
(Entry via Nithsdale Lane behind Cre Asion)
Tel: +61 (02) 9068 9774

Bookings are strongly recommended

Opening hours
Monday to Saturday 5.30pm-9pm


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/16/2017 08:21:00 pm


Saturday, April 08, 2017

Miam Patisserie, Pyrmont

Pear caramelo dessert at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney

Miam? It means yum in French, uttered by many who venture into this cute and cosy bakery in inner city Pyrmont. Owner and head pastry chef, Meylissa Yusuf, threw in an accounting career for one with a sweeter bottom line, training at Le Cordon Bleu before working at Adriano Zumbo in Rozelle and then Cheeky Chocolate in North Strathfield. Miam is her first solo venture.

Counter seating at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney
Counter seating

The cafe's clean lines, white tiles and warm timbers contrasted with black steel have been designed by Guru Projects, the same folk behind Nel. Restaurant, Harry's Bondi and several Toby's Estate outlets including Sydney Airport and Barangaroo. Industrial stools line a narrow timber counter against the window inside. Outside you'll find a handful of tables, each set with a mini vase of blooms.

Five spiced slow cooked pork sandwich at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney
Five spiced slow cooked pork $8

The menu is short and sweet - it's so so concise they don't even have menus to hand out. The daily changing menu is chalked up on a mini blackboard. On the day we visit, it's a selection that includes a ham pocket pie, onion and sage sausage roll, bacon, leek and thyme quiche, cheesy Vegemite quiche and a handful of sandwiches.

We're immediately drawn to the five spiced slow cooked pork sandwich. The mention of crackling is the clincher.

Five spiced slow cooked pork with crackling at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney
Five spiced slow cooked pork with pickled vegetables and crackling

The pork is soft, tender and fragrantly spiced, made even better by the occasional encounter with a smithereen of crackling. Each shard of crackling is ridiculously crunchy. It's a toe-curling moment each time you hit the jackpot. The richness of the sandwich is tempered by ribbons of pickled carrot and daikon, crispy and sweet.

Indonesian-style bacon and egg roll at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney
Bacon and egg roll $6.50

The bacon and egg roll is fast becoming a Miam signature dish. Described as Indo-style, there are unmistakable parallels with Indomie Mee Goreng, the two minute noodle classic that's a mainstay of any uni student's diet. A crusty baguette is piled with sweet soy-glazed bacon, crispy fried shallots, a runny fried egg and squiggles of mayonnaise. Sriracha is optional but definitely recommended.

Indonesian-style bacon and runny egg roll at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney
Runny fried egg with sweet-soy glazed bacon, mayonnaise and deep fried shallots

It's sweet and salty comfort food with a blanket of rich egg yolk and a satisfying hit of umami. The crusty baguette is strong enough to soak up all that gooey egg yolk too.

Pain au chocolat chocolate croissants at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney
Pain au chocolat $4.50

The display counter includes a raft of options to include with your post-lunch coffee.

Flat white coffee at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney
Strong flat white coffee

Hot drinks include a complimentary mini cookie, so delicious that you'll be relieved to know you can buy full sized versions of these. This one is richly chocolatey.

Pear caramelo dessert at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney
Pear caramelo $9
Caramel mousse, pear jelly, ginger cake and almond crunchy base

We missed out on the last matcha concord cake by thirty seconds (swiped by the customer in front of us) but we're just as pleased with our next choice, the pear caramelo.

Layers of caramel mousse, pear jelly, ginger cake and almond crunchy base at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney
Caramel mousse, pear jelly, ginger cake and almond crunchy base

It's an elaborate construction that belies its $9 price tag. Inside the glossy dome we find stratified planes of caramel mousse, pear jelly, ginger cake and a crunchy base made with toasted flaked almonds. Brittle flakes of feuilletine around the external edges provide caramelised crunch.

Salted caramel apple pie at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney
Salted caramel apple pie $4.50

The salted caramel apple pie is equal parts comfort food and sophistication, a pocket of flaky pastry filled with hunks of apple.

Inside the salted caramel apple pie at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney
Inside the salted caramel apple pie

I don't get a lot of salted caramel flavour in this but the sugar crystals on top are sweet enough. The apples are cooked well too, soft and yielding without tipping to the point of soggy mushiness.

Black sesame cookies at Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney
Black sesame cookie $4

And to take home? A black sesame cookie for afternoon tea. Next time I'm definitely getting the XL chocolate chip cookie. Each one is a lesson in baking patience, with the batter matured for a couple of days before baking. Miam.

Miam Patisserie in Pyrmont Sydney


Miam Patisserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Miam Patisserie
Shop 140, 313 Harris Street, Pyrmont, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8018 6693

Opening hours
Tuesday to Friday 7am-4pm
Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/08/2017 05:12:00 pm



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