Babycakes by Renée, Sydney

After stuffing ourselves silly at Kobe Jones, you would think that there would be absolutely no room for more food. However, when it comes to cupcakes, it seems like our stomachs have saved a special compartment to fit in these delicious sweet morsels.


This is how we came to be at Babycakes by Renée, oohing and aahing over all the flavours and the cuteness factor of the “babycakes”. These were very tiny indeed, with the top of the cake being not much bigger than a 20c piece. They offer traditional flavours and gourmet flavours which have more extravagant toppings and cost extra.


Nat and Captain Awesome spy a special offering a babycake and a regular coffee for $3. They both choose hot chocolates, and Nat selects a carrot cake whilst Captain Awesome chooses a chocolate mud. The hot chocolates are deemed a bit too milky with not enough chocolate flavour, but the babycakes are moist and flavoursome.

Captain Awesome’s lone chocolate mud babycake – Rich moist mud cake with creamy chocolate ganache, dusted with powdered chocolate

Queen Chu and BLT go all out and order a dozen babycakes. They order lemon and poppyseed, madeira, marbled mud, carrot cake, hokey pokey, chocolate mud, banana cake and mocha mud. The cake itself is moist and tastes like the flavour it claims to be, with the only disappointment being the marbled mud containing no marbling whatsoever. The icing is also tasty, but is spread quite thinly on the top of the cake, and as an icing lover I think it could do with a bit more.

One dozen traditional babycakes – $12.50
Top row: Lemon and poppyseed, madeira, marbled mud, madeira
Middle row: Carrot cake, hokey pokey, chocolate mud, hokey pokey
Bottom row: Lemon and poppyseed, banana cake, mocha mud, chocolate mud

These babycakes are definitely a delicious bite-sized snack, but at $1.20 per babycake they are certainly not cheap. But when your cupcake stomach compartment is calling, these would be a great occasional treat.

Babycakes by Renée
66 Erskine St
Sydney NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 92901297
Monday – Friday, 8.30am-5.30pm

Other locations:
Shop 30, 50 Carlton Cres
Summer Hill NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 97976331

Norton Plaza
55 Norton St
Leichhardt NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 95699590


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Kobe Jones, King St Wharf, for all you can eat sushi!

Anyone who knows me well enough will know that I am an absolute sushi/sashimi fanatic. In fact, I think that sometimes I eat so much raw seafood that when I die, it will probably be from heavy metal poisoning. When I read about Kobe Jones offering all you can eat sushi for $25 (including their famous volcano roll) on Here Comes The Food, my eyes lit up and my stomach screamed “YES YES YES!!”. So a group of friends were rounded up and we went down to King St Wharf on a beautiful Friday afternoon to eat as much sushi as we could.

Menu

Thankfully, Queen Chu has rung ahead to book and let them know that we are ordering the all you can eat sushi. A sushi menu is already on the table ready for us, and the friendly waitstaff let us know that they will be bringing out the first plates soon.

Tasting plate – (clockwise from top) Kobe Jones’s finest nigiri, Crunchy roll, Dynamite roll, Avocado roll, Kobe California roll and Volcano roll (centre)

There were 7 of us dining today, and they gave us 3 servings of the tasting plate for us to share. This plate consisted of all the types of sushi and was presented beautifully. However we noticed that the sushi on the plate didn’t quite correspond to the menu, and after asking the waitstaff they informed us that there had been slight changes to the menu, and they told us what the new rolls for today were. Their website now has a new menu for their all you can eat sushi, saying that there will be a different selection everyday which will always include the volcano roll and nigiri. You can find it here.

Volcano Roll – Oven baked scallops layered on a crab salad and avocado roll with Kobe’s special cream sauce and a sesame seed and shallot sprinkle

The volcano roll was a mountain of creamy scallop-y goodness, with 3 pieces of sushi in each bowl and smothered in Kobe Jones’ special cream sauce and a generous amount of scallops. Although their sauce seems to be a bit more tangy than I’ve had in the past, it was a definite crowd favourite.

Kobe Jones’s Finest Nigiri – selection based on market availability

The nigiri sushi was fresh, with the only downside being a giant mound of rice underneath the fish which was quite disproportionate. We left most of the rice on the plate, and Captain Awesome affectionately saved up her rice mounds and called them her ‘mice’.

Captain Awesome’s pet mice

The roll which had us most puzzled at the start was the Avocado Roll, which we mistakenly thought was the Spider Roll and for a while we were wondering why there was no soft shell crab in it. This was a nice contrast to the seafood but nothing to write home about, and my Asian genes were telling me that eating these would not be good value for money!

Avocado Roll – Burdock root and asparagus roll finished with a layer of avocado and a sprinkle of sesame seeds

The dynamite roll was filled with salmon and kingfish today which had been marinated in a chilli sauce and the outside of the roll was dusted with shichimi togarashi (Japanese chilli flakes). One piece of this and my mouth was shouting out for water but others with a higher chilli tolerance didn’t find it too spicy.

Dynamite Roll – Spicy tuna, kingfish, salmon or scallops with cucumber and sesame seeds

The california roll was yummy, especially with the unusual addition of grilled eel on top.

Kobe California Roll – Crab salad and avocado with unagi layered on top

The last item on the tasting platter was the crunchy roll, which was another crowd favourite with the addition of tempura flakes on the top giving a nice crunch with the sushi.

Crunchy Roll – Tempura prawns with crab salad and cucumber layered with tempura flakes and smelt roe

After the first tasting plate we were able to order from any of the types of sushi which we had already eaten, so of course we ordered multiple extra serves of the Volcano roll, Crunchy roll and the Kobe California roll, as well as some extra salmon nigiri since some people missed out the first time around.

One of 4 subsequent plates we ordered after the first tasting plates…

All up the 7 of us ate about 7 plates of sushi and we were well and truly stuffed after the meal (although apparently not stuffed enough to withstand the allure of cupcakes!). Even though they do try and stuff the sushi full of rice, for $25 this is still great value especially if you love your sushi (and volcano roll!) like I do.

Kobe Jones
29 Lime St
King Street Wharf, Sydney NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 92995290
Lunch: Monday – Friday, 12pm-3pm, Christmas Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
Dinner: Everyday from 6pm (including public holidays)
Supper: Friday and Saturday from 9.30pm
10% surcharge applies on weekends and public holidays


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Apple Crumble

I don’t remember exactly when I started baking, but it might have all began around the end of primary school with those kids cookbooks. I have failed in my baking many times – the height of my baking fails would probably be failing even when making a packet cake mixture. Hopefully since then I have improved and now whenever I get a hankering for something sweet after dinner and I don’t have many ingredients, I whip up an apple crumble which is especially good on cold winter’s nights.

This is a crumble recipe with no oats (since Sir D doesn’t like oats) and it produces a crumbly and crunchy crumble at the top. I made this the other night for some friends (with the help of Sir D, debdebdeb and Spud) and it was the perfect end to a great bake night!

Apple Crumble (Serves 4)

4 (medium) apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp brown sugar
Cinnamon if desired

For the crumble:
60g unsalted butter, softened
90g brown sugar
90g flour

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Place apples, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until the apples are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Pour apples into baking tin and set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine butter, brown sugar and flour and crumble with fingers until desired consistency is reached. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty you can make sure the butter is very soft and then use a spoon to combine, using the back of the spoon to press the lumps of butter into the dry ingredients. For a crumble that has bigger chunks you can increase the ratio of butter to dry ingredients.

3. Sprinkle crumble evenly over apples. Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Sicilian Restaurant, Parramatta for Michael’s 21st

Yesterday was my cousin Michael’s 21st birthday, so on Saturday night we all got invited to celebrate his birthday at the Sicilian in Parramatta.

Pesto pizza – $12.00

The food kicked off with some pizzas to start. I didn’t get a chance to photograph all of the different kinds of pizzas but there were garlic pizzas, herb pizzas, chilli crust pizzas and pesto crust pizzas, all cooked in the Sicilian’s woodfired oven. The crusts were thin and crunchy with a generous amount of cheese on the pizza.

Gnocchi alla Romana – $24.00

We all ordered our own mains and I selected the Gnocchi alla Romana which was gnocchi with scallops, prawns, bacon, chilli, garlic, shallots and pesto in a creamy napolitana and basil sauce. The servings were large and there were quite a lot of prawns and scallops in my pasta which I was pleased to see. The sauce was nice and creamy, but after a while it got quite salty causing copious amounts of water to be consumed with the pasta!

Zuppa di Cozze – $28.00

Mum ordered the Zuppa di Cozze – a kilogram pot of mussels with a white wine, garlic and basil sauce. The mussels were tender and juicy and the sauce was very flavoursome. Mum’s only complaint was that there weren’t enough of them!

Pollo Parmagiana – $27.00


Charm ordered the Pollo Parmagiana which was crumbed chicken breast served on a bed of herbed spaghetti with grilled eggplant, napolitana sauce and melted mozzarella. There was a large piece of chicken and quite a lot of spaghetti. The chicken was not too dry and although it was tasty, the sheer size of the dish meant that Charm couldn’t finish it.

Once again I forgot to take a picture of Dad and Sir D’s dinner but they both ordered the Prime Rib Eye which was served with king prawns and wedges. The steaks were cooked as requested and Sir D highly approved of the wedges. Both of them seemed to enjoy their meals.

The birthday cake was gigantic! It consisted of light chocolate sponge cake with layers of chocolate cream in between and was delicious. Happy 21st Birthday Michael!

Sicilian Restaurant
292 Church St
Parramatta NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 96332299
Open 7 days, 11am-midnight


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Japaz, Neutral Bay

Japaz is a restaurant which combines both the Japanese Izakaya style and Spanish tapas style of serving small plates, often accompanied by drinks. The idea of Japanese-Spanish fusion intrigues me, so we make a booking for 8pm and a bunch of us venture out to see what Japaz has to offer.

Sir D and I are fashionably 15 minutes late (since we got caught up in Masterchef!) but the others arrive on time. When we arrive, Queen Chu tells us that the waiter has asked about our order several times already so we quickly make some selections. Midway taking our order, the waiter excuses himself to serve another table which BLT in particular finds very rude. We end up ordering about 12 dishes between 7 of us, since none of us are big eaters, and the waiter insists that this will not be enough and recommends that we order fewer selections but double up on them. However, we decide that we prefer to sample more of the menu so we stick with our order – to which the waiter again insists on ordering more dishes. This overattentiveness continues throughout our meal, and whilst his concern for our appetites was genuine, many of us find it quite unpleasant (as though he was trying to milk more money out of us!). Apart from this, the service is otherwise impeccable with dishes being removed promptly after they are finished and water being topped up regularly.

Fried eggplant with honey and balsamic – $11.00

The first dish to arrive is the fried eggplant, which is crumbed on the outside with soft, juicy eggplant on the inside. The honey balsamic dressing tastes sweet at first, but then the flavour of the balsamic takes over. I’m not usually a big fan of eggplant but I actually quite like this dish.

Crumbed portobello mushroom – $9.00

The portobello mushrooms are also crumbed in the same way as the eggplant with the mushroom juices oozing out with each bite. I enjoy this dish but it could probably do with a bit of sauce to give it a bit more flavour.

Scallops with a sweet soy and onion butter – $5.50 each

BLT, Sir D and I order scallops and they are absolutely delicious – the buttery sauce pairs beautifully with the scallop which is cooked to perfection. This is a firm favourite of ours and is highly recommended.

Piquillo capsicum stuffed with crab meat, baby rocket and spinach – $4.50 each

BLT wants to try the stuffed piquillo capsicums so we order 3 of these to share between us. We are surprised to find that it is a cold dish, and the flavour of the capsicum is quite overpowering so the stuffing of crab meat, baby rocket and spinach is quite lost on all of us.

Pan-fried chorizo and French green lentils in romesco sauce – $14.00

The meat dishes start arriving and the first one is the pan fried chorizo. We all agree that the sauce and flavour of the chorizo is delicious, but BLT, Sir D and I find that the chorizo casing is a bit tough, making it quite chewy to eat.

Pan-fried pork belly with pear, herbal balsamic sauce – $16.00

The pork belly is one of my favourite parts of the pig and this dish definitely does it justice. The pork is very soft and there is a nice layer of fat on all of the pieces. The small cubes of pear are dotted all over the dish and the balsamic sauce compliments the pork and the pear well, giving it a nice full flavour.

Lamb meatballs in tomato salsa – $12.00

The lamb meatballs are swathed a delicious tomato salsa which is rich and moreish. I find the meatballs a touch dry, but this dish is one of Queen Chu and Captain Awesome’s favourites.

Braised Wagyu beef cheek and almond sauce – $17.00

The beef cheeks is a dish that we are mixed on – Nat, Sir D and I love the fall-apart softness of the beef but Queen Chu and Captain Awesome think that this makes the meat lack texture. It is a comforting, home-style dish, reminding us all of the oxtail braised in red wine which all of our mothers make. The almond sauce however is very subtle and none of us taste much almond flavour at all.

Grilled quail with crispy Savoy cabbage and thyme quail jus – $19.00

The last dish is the grilled quail which arrives on a bed of cooked savoy cabbage in a fiery red tomato-based sauce. It isn’t the star of the night when compared with some of the other dishes but is nonetheless very good.

Japaz offers some interesting and delicious tasting food in a casual atmosphere. It does come with a price tag but I would definitely return to sample more of their menu and also to revisit some of the fantastic dishes we had tonight. It was a shame that the pushiness and slightly unpleasant demeanour of the waiter tarnished an otherwise enjoyable night but hopefully this was just a small oversight on the night that we dined.

Japaz
165 Wycombe Road
Neutral Bay, NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 99040688
Lunch: Thursday and Friday, 12pm-3pm
Dinner: Monday – Saturday, 6pm – late


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