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Ume Restaurant, Surry Hills

There are so many good Japanese restaurants on the north side of the Bridge and around the CBD, that I rarely feel the need to venture further for Japanese food. So it takes a special restaurant to warrant a trip beyond my usual sphere of comfort and convenience, but it certainly pays off when you’re visiting a restaurant like Ume.

Ume is tucked away in a leafy section of Bourke St, Surry Hills, which makes it a quiet and peaceful location for dinner. The restaurant is simply decorated, with a plum blossom painting on one wall that references the restaurant’s name, “ume”, meaning “plum” in Japanese. Head Chef Kerby Craig, who trained under Tetsuya Wakuda before opening Koi in Woolwich and then Ume in Surry Hills, has created a menu that focuses on Japanese food with traditional and modern elements using local and sustainable ingredients. Every day except for Saturday, diners can choose from a 5-course ($67) or 7-course ($87) degustation menu, or opt to go a la carte. Saturday is limited to degustation only.

Raw deep sea prawns, prawn oil, walnuts, okahijiki, 1 year old preserved lemon, saishikomi soy – $21

We decide to go a la carte mainly because of the ama ebi dish which is not on the degustation menu. I fell in love with ama ebi (deep sea prawns) when I was in Japan and I rarely see it on menus here in Sydney, so I had to order it. The sweetness of the raw prawns pair well with the crunchy walnuts, seaweed and the subtle tartness of the preserved lemon. After tasting this dish, I knew that the rest of the meal was going to be a treat.

Seared Hokkaido scallop, Shibanuma shoyu brown butter, native finger lime, dulse – $21

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Ichi-ban Boshi, Sydney

Back in the day when I knew absolutely nothing about ramen and Sir D hated the stuff, Ichi-ban Boshi was one of the first ramen places I ever visited and blogged about. I remember thinking that the queues outside the restaurant must mean that they’re serving up some pretty good food, but to be honest after my first visit I was not particularly wowed.

Things have changed a lot since then – lots of ramen places have opened up in the last couple of years meaning that I’ve been able to try different types of ramen and just eat a lot more ramen in general! So when I visited Ichi-ban Boshi again armed with my new ramen knowledge, it was quite a different experience

Iced green tea cappuccino – $4.80

A hot night meant that a cold drink was in order, and while Ichi-ban boshi has sake and Japanese beers on offer, I settled on an iced green tea cappuccino. The milky green tea is topped with an impressive amount of milk foam and raw sugar crystals. The drink also comes with a little jug of sugar syrup which you can add to your drink to adjust the sweetness of it.

Gyoza – $6.50

We start with the gyoza which we’re told is one of the most popular items on the entree section of the menu. The gyoza are made in house and we can see why they’re so popular – the bottoms are nicely crisped up and the dumpling pastry is rolled out quite thin. The gyoza are served on a soy and vinegar dipping sauce.

Grilled ox tongue – $11

I’m a sucker for ox tongue so when we spot this on the menu we have to order it. There’s six pieces of thinly sliced ox tongue which are grilled and served with salt and chilli powder, and a wedge of lemon which is squeezed over the meat. The tongue is a little chewy but the fact that it’s been sliced so thinly means that it’s not at all difficult to eat.

Negimiso ramen- $11.90
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The Cut Bar & Grill, Sydney

It’s easy enough to make a decent steak at home, but there’s something about the dark furnishings and luxury of being able to pick and choose lots of sides to go with your steak that make it a bit of a treat. I decided to treat Sir D on his birthday with a visit to The Cut Bar & Grill for some tasty meat.

As you walk downstairs into the restaurant, it’s almost like you’re walking into a secret underground cavern. The restaurant itself is dark and moody with plush leather banquette seating as well as individual tables.

Scallops, peas, mushroom, bone marrow – $25

We’re here for the beef but we decide to start with a few entrees to whet our palates. The words ‘scallops’ and ‘bone marrow’ catch my eye so we order the scallop entree which has three juicy seared scallops sitting on some crumbled blood pudding, with peas, mushrooms and little blobs of bone marrow. The earthy flavours of the blood pudding and mushrooms pair quite well with the sweet scallops which are perfectly cooked.

Beef tartare, quail egg, truffle mustard, traditional garnishes, lavosh – $35
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Night Noodle Markets 2014

Life has been crazyy! So October (aka Good Food Month) started and it barely registered on my radar until I started hearing and reading stuff about the Night Noodle Markets. Somehow I managed to get my act together and make it out to the first night of the markets, which looked a little something like this around 6pm.

Night Noodle Markets opening night

It was crazy-town and after a quick scout of all the stalls it seemed like there were barely any without queues. I did notice that there are more food stalls than last year which is always a good sign. There are also more seating areas and bars scattered around Hyde Park – but don’t let that trick you into thinking that it’s easy to find a seat!

Bar area

After our recon mission, I’d picked out a handful of stalls that I was keen on getting food from. Hoy Pinoy drew me in with the billowing smoke and smell of grilled meat.

Basting the meat

This Melbourne-based Filipino BBQ food stall had huge skewers of chicken and pork belly cooking away on several grills, all the while being basted with sauce.

Skewers at Hoy Pinoy
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Flavours of Malaysia 2014 at The Grace Hotel

I’ve never been to Malaysia before but judging from Malaysians’ passionate relationship with food, I think I’d fit right in. Malaysia’s love of food was clearly evident at the launch of the Flavours of Malaysia buffet at The Grace Hotel, where there was an incredible spread of Malaysian food created by three Malaysian chefs who were specially flown in for the event.

Here’s a taste of what was on offer:

Cold salads
DIY Rojak and Pasembor salads

The cold section held a number of salads, including a DIY Rojak (mixed fruit salad with a prawn paste sauce) and Pasembor (mixed vegetable salad with peanut sauce). There were also a few salads that I’d never seen before, like a glass noodle salad with coconut and prawn, and a tripe salad.

Beef and chicken satay skewers
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