Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ippudo marks two at Central Park Sydney

The new Central Park Sydney development on Broadway, or Chippendale, is quite something. On the site of the former Carlton and United Brewery which closed in 2003, Central Park comprises a shopping centre, heaps of restaurants and apartment buildings that loom over Broadway – at least prettily with innovative hanging gardens and artistry.

Entrance to Ippudo, Central Park, Broadway, Chippendale/Ultimo
In a bit of a coup for the brand new development complex, Central Park's lower ground courtyarded The Dining District is home to Ippudo's second Australian restaurant – officially opening today.

Inside the restaurant
With the same ramen noodle menu as the flagship Westfield Sydney restaurant and slight variations to the other portions of the menu, Ippudo at Central Park is a smaller venue with the same ethos of loud, shouty welcomes; comfortable seating; heart- and stomach-warming tonkotsu pork bone broth and seriously good hakata style thin ramen noodles.

Nikumiso tofu salad
Quite aware of the substantial portion sizes and rich Ippudo tonkotsu broth, we started with a cold tofu salad topped with a miso flavoured ground pork mince sauce.

With mixed leaves, cherry tomatoes, avocado and shredded carrot and daikon doused in a creamy dressing, the meaty miso sauce with was simply delightful with the refreshing cubes of tofu.

Shiromaru Special - original tonkotsu broth with black mushrooms
For the main game, I opted for the Shiromaru Motoaji ramen – which in hindsight, I realised is the same one I order every time at Ippudo.

Served with the original, creamy white tonkotsu broth, thick-cut pork loin, bean sprouts, shredded woodear mushroom and shallots, the Shiromaru Special option brings an additional side plate of a whole flavoured hard-boiled egg, chashu simmered pork belly slices, nori roasted seaweed sheets, bamboo shoots and extra bean sprouts, mushroom and shallots.

Shiromaru Special toppings
It could almost be two meals but it's interesting to compare the pork loin with the thinner-sliced but fattier chashu.

The noodles, requested 'hard' but available in 'medium' and 'soft' too, take in a lot of the flavour of the creamy broth which boasts plenty of depth and not an overwhelming fattiness. The addition of crushed, roasted sesame seeds and layu chilli oil at the table finish off the Shiromaru Special perfectly.

Akamaru Shinaji - tonkotsu broth with red miso blend
The red-hued Akamaru Shinaji is also based on the original tonkotsu broth but is enhanced with a red miso paste blend and a drizzle of black garlic oil.

A more modern style of ramen than the classic tonkotsu varieties, the miso broth still shines with porkiness while chashu, corn kernels, bamboo shoots and shallots complete the bowl.

Kitchen and counter seating
I find it hard to contemplate a whole lot of sides or dessert when it comes to ramen as with extra toppings, all the soup and noodles – it's a really substantial meal in one bowl.

Kaedama extra noodles are available for those looking into a noodle-less bowl of soup still hungry but Ippudo also does a pretty good job of entrées and sides, like the chashu gohan pork belly rice bowl and the ubiquitous gua bao style pork bun.

So, it's number two for Ippudo at Central Park, officially opening today for your queuing and ramen-eating pleasure, Chippendale.

Food, Booze & Shoes dined at Ippudo Sydney as a guest, with thanks to SD Marketing.

Ippudo Sydney on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Moveable Feast that is, Good Food Month

Get your good food face on – Good Food Month officially starts on Wednesday this week. From Sydney's favourite Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park to young chefs featured in the Omnivore World Tour; from Let's Do Lunches to Hats Off Dinners through to Sugar Hits – it's all back for the entire month of October for our eating and drinking pleasures.

Last year's Citi VIP tent at Night Noodle Markets, Hyde Park, Sydney
Presenting sponsor partner Citi also returns for its seventh consecutive year, and I for one am glad they're again offering the #CitiVIP area with concierge service at the Night Noodle Markets – which this year is opening on weekend nights too.

Citi VIP concierge service at the Night Noodle Markets, this year from 10-26 October 2014
As part of a progressive dinner through the city last week previewing Citi-friendly Good Food Month offerings, it showed that our city is indeed a Moveable Feast and Sydney's venues are turning it on for October.

Freshly shucked oysters from The Morrison, George Street, Sydney
We started at CBD favourite The Morrison for entrées and wine that's featured in the Citibank Dining Program, where Citi cardholders get a free bottle of wine at selected partner restaurants when paying with their card.

Delightfully and as I was hoping for, we started with a range of freshly-shucked oysters including a sample that's not yet on the menu.

The Gold Band Pacific oyster from Tasmania apparently features a gold band colour across the bottom of the shell, but I was too busy immersed in its stunning creaminess and full flavour to notice.

With as much, if not more flavour than a rock oyster, this spring season-only mollusc may be the one that turns me from my long-favoured Sydney rocks. But that's not to say that the Wagonga Inlet and Pambula Sydney rock oysters weren't briney and great as well, but they're just not the ones I'm currently dreaming of.

Crab and lettuce taco with salmon caviar and chardonnay vinaigrette from The Morrison
For Good Food Month, The Morrison is jumping into the Bar Hop with a Tanqueray gin based cocktail and a crab and lettuce taco for $20, as well as Let's Do Lunch featuring oysters then crab linguine (or mushroom gnocchi) with a Yalumba wine, Coopers beer or Schweppes mineral water.

We followed up our sensational oysters with the cos lettuce 'taco shell' filled with shredded crab meat, salmon roe, chives, chardonnay vinaigrette and a fresh chilli slice that, on this occasion, was bitingly hot.

Duck fat chips from The Morrison
And they wouldn't have us leave without sampling cones of Sean Connolly's signature duck fat chips which, served with a house tomato sauce, are about as good a beer snack as there is.

Thin hand-pulled noodles from Chefs Gallery Jamison, Margaret Street, Sydney
We toddled on over to our next venue, Chefs Gallery Jamison, for our mains with an interactive component. Head noodle Chef JPL, aka Chef Panda, was on hand for noodle stretching demonstrations as well as lesser seen knife-sliced and piped noodles.

Noodle making demonstration at Chefs Gallery Jamison
(Hi, Simon!)

Seasoned wonton crisps from Chefs Gallery Jamison
Starting with moreishly seasoned wonton skin crisps and my favourite Macanese pork chop buns, we were treated to a degustation of noodles with accompanying interactive demonstrations.

Macanese pork buns from Chefs Gallery Jamison

Pumpkin soup tureens
We also got a sneak-peek at other seasonal specials, like the pumpkin-contained tom yum soup designed as a special offering in time for Halloween.

Pumpkin tom yum soup

Pumpkin seafood tom yum soup serving
The sour, spicy tom yum soup with a variety of seafood and vegetables is served in a whole steamed pumpkin with its flesh softened for scooping out with the thin soup which is both novel and unique.

Zha jiang hand pulled noodles
The hand-pulled wheat noodles became zha jiang noodles in a tasty pork mince sauce that many likened to an Asian version of bolognaise.

Chef Panda knife-cutting sorghum noodles
Meanwhile, I was taken by the thick salmon-pink hued knife-sliced sorghum noodles that Chef Panda essentially shaved from a huge block of dough, straight into a pot of boiling water.

Sorghum knife-cut noodles
Served with a spicy Shanghainese chilli and soy sauce, it was all about the texture and al dente chew of the thick noodles, as well as the grainy flavour of the sorghum flour.

Piping fish noodles
(Hi, jeroxie!)
Lastly, the fish noodles squeezed out in single noodle formation from a piping bag into boiling soupwere completely new to me. A moussey dough of minced fish and flour, the piped noodles were served in a clean chicken soup, allowing the airy textured and delicately fish flavoured noodles to shine.

Fish noodles in chicken soup
For Good Food Month Chefs Gallery, and Chef Panda, will make nightly appearances at the Night Noodle Markets; demonstrating his craft, as well as a Chinese Food & Art night with an eight-course banquet at Chefs Gallery Jamison.

The private dining room at Sokyo, The Star, Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont
Image courtesy of ChopinandMysaucepan
We hightailed it to our final destination of the night, Sokyo at The Star for desserts. Graced with a private dining room which I've never seen before, we were laden with sweet, sweet gifts from the pastry kitchen.

Mochi ice cream from Sokyo
The sweet bounty included my favourite mochi ice cream: a thin sheet of softly chewy and glutinous, green-tinted Yatsuhashi Kyoto mochi encasing a nugget of strawberry milkshake ice cream. This is Sokyo's go-to desert for non-sweet tooths and something smaller and lighter.

Goma Street from Sokyo
My other favourite, Goma Street, goes to the other end of the richness scale. Black sesame ice cream is the sesame in the translated ‘Sesame Street’ dessert while the tower of tempered chocolate rounds, caramelised white chocolate mousse and black sesame candy take the dessert way beyond child's play.

Tofu cheesecake from Sokyo
I adored the playfulness of the tofu cheesecake which incorporates cream cheese and tofu in an airy filling that's then re-moulded into tofu cartons with a biscuit base. Highlighting the kitchen's creativity, the thyme sugar and strawberry consommé could well have been superfluous afterthoughts to the excellent cheesecake.

Strawberry meringue
I couldn't manage the rich-looking dark chocolate and peanut butter fondant served with vanilla ice cream, nor the lighter strawberry meringue option with sheep’s milk yoghurt sorbet with a veritable 'salad' of garnishes

But I did not refuse the award-winning McWilliam's Morning Light Botrytis Semillon which was well suited to the richer, sweeter desserts.

Peanut butter and chocolate fondant
Sokyo joins Good Food Month’s Bar Hop with a choice of Tanqueray gin cocktails and their delicious seafood offerings. Chef Chase Kojima is also taking small groups through the Sydney Fish Markets in the Instant Expert sessions while their Let’s Do Lunch offering is a varied bento box.

See the full Good Food Month program for details on all associated events and activities, and I’ll see you out and about this great eating town throughout October.

Food, Booze & Shoes attended the Citibank Moveable Feast preview of Good Food Month as a guest, with thanks to Haystac.

The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room on Urbanspoon

Chefs Gallery Wynyard on Urbanspoon

Sokyo on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 27, 2014

smooth Festival of Chocolate - next weekend

As part of this year's Good Food Month (starting this coming Wednesday), a sweet new festival is launching next weekend in The Rocks. The smooth Festival of Chocolate will be a two-day festival dedicated to everyone's favourite chocolate.

smooth Festival of Chocolate, 4-5 October 2014, The Rocks, Sydney
(Food, Booze & Shoes received the above chocolate hamper as a gift from Smooth FM and Nova Entertainment)
Sounding of The Rocks Aroma Festival ilk, hotels, restaurants, patisseries, ice creameries and chocolatiers will come together throughout The Rocks and Circular Quay over the two days to showcase chocolate products and sweets.

Large caramel milk chocolate freckle pop by Peacock Chocolates
There will be entertainment too: a smooth music stage, a test kitchen stage featuring chef demonstrations every hour, a pop up bar and even artists painting with chocolate, while neaby restaurants and hotels will also be incorporating chocolate items into their menus all throughout Good Food Month.

At smooth Festival of Chocolate will be Jean-Michel Raynaud, executive pastry chef of Baroque Bistro
and La Renaissance, The Rocks, Sydney

(Image courtsey of Nova Entertainment)
We caught up with executive pastry chef of Baroque Bistro and La Renaissance, Jean-Michel Raynaud ahead of next weekend's sweet-tooth festivities.

FBS: What is your favourite way to enjoy chocolate? 
For me, chocolate is about childhood memories. The most enjoyable way for me to enjoy chocolate is as I did when I was a kid: cut open a baguette, butter each side and fill with squares of chocolate straight off a block - the original pain au chocolat!

FBS: What is your favourite ingredient to cook and pair with chocolate? 
I like playing with fruit pulps and juices to add depth of flavours and complexity to an otherwise plain chocolate.

My favourite, though, is to make bitter dark chocolate ganache with salted caramel - the salt balances both the bitterness of the chocolate and burnt sugars, whilst the caramel gives your cream an amazing chewy texture.

FBS: What are your thoughts on savoury chocolate dishes? 
I am a big fan but as with everything else, before attempting to do anything savoury with chocolate, you must first understand how to balance the taste inherent in your dish - any mistake will be unforgiving.

FBS: What type of alcoholic beverage do you think best matches with chocolate? 
Lots of alcoholic beverages work with chocolate, but none so much as Grand Marnier. The orange flavours and peppery undertones work fantastically with a dark, single origin chocolate whilst more flagrant beverages, such as Pastis or Frangelico, work best with sweeter chocolate like milk or white

FBS: What are your highlights and picks of next weekend's smooth Festival of Chocolate events?
Come and check Julia Taylor (ex-Masterchef runner up and current pastry chef at La Renaissance) and my demo and definitely come and see a great chocolate artisan in Dean Gibson.

Overall though, the whole festival is going to be a celebration of all that is chocolate, so well worth checking out.

The smooth Festival of Chocolate is on next weekend, 4-5 October 2014 in The Rocks, Sydney.


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