Ichi-ban Boshi, The Galeries Victoria

Judging from the queues I see everytime I walk past, I think it’s safe to assume that Ichi-ban Boshi is one of the most popular ramen joints in Sydney. Due to it’s obvious popularity, I had pretty high expectations on my first visit here and sadly I don’t think the food lived up to the standards I’d set and since then I have been reluctant to return. However, on Fi’s request I’m back again tonight for dinner before watching Avenue Q at the Theatre Royal.

Having an early dinner at 5.30pm means that we a) get a table easily for 6 of us and b) avoid the horrendous queues that have built up by the time we leave. Fi and I have still yet to try the tonkotsu ramen and we ask the waitress whether they have any left. Sadly they have run out so I go to my plan B and order the karaage ramen. Everytime I order this I have the intention of asking for the karaage chicken on the side but as usual I forget and it arrives with the batter semi-soaked in broth. Fail.

Karaage Ramen – $10.90

The chicken is still good though and the noodles have a nice chewy texture, and along with the not-too-salty soy broth I am pleasantly surprised to find that I’m thoroughly enjoying my meal.

Katsu Curry – $11.50

Sir D the non-ramen-eater orders the katsu curry which comes with miso soup and a side salad. He accompanied me on my first visit and was also not too impressed with the food but this time he is very happy with his curry and eats it up quickly.

Tsukemen (cold noodles with dipping sauce) – $12.00

Captain Awesome is undecided whether she wants the Geki-kara ramen (super hot ramen) or the Tsukemen, and asks the waitress who says that the Tsukemen is very popular. “Ok I’ll get that!” says Captain Awesome and a big plate of cold noodles arrives with a bowl of spicy tantanmen soup that is packed full of mince. We all try a bit and it’s very nice but the only thing I find strange is eating cold noodles with hot soup, which together becomes sort of lukewarm in the mouth. I think I prefer eating hot or cold noodles, not somewhere in between. Interesting experience though!

All finished!

Since the queues outside are building up we decide to leave for Avenue Q a bit early (go and watch it if you haven’t seen it already… it’s fantastic!). Everyone has enjoyed their dinner and now that I have restored faith in the food at Ichi-ban Boshi I think I’ll have to go back and grab myself a bowl of their elusive tonkotsu ramen!

Ichi-ban Boshi
Level 2, The Galeries Victoria
500 George Street, Sydney
Ph: +61 (02) 92627677
Open 7 days, 11am – 9pm

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Jimini’s, Hornsby

Around a corner on the Aldi level of Westfield Hornsby is an unexpected little cafe away from the busy-ness of the food court area. Jimini’s serves cafe-style food with friendly service and good coffee. Today I’m here for lunch with my mum and grandparents and we order some coffees and 3 dishes to share between us.

Mocha served in mug – $4.50

We’re here on a Friday lunchtime and although they have quite a few patrons the service is efficient and we’re not waiting too long before the food arrives.

Roast pumpkin risotto with rosemary and rocket – $14.90

The roast pumpkin risotto looks like a small serving but is actually quite adequate since the risotto is quite filling. The rice isn’t cooked as well as I would have liked since it’s a bit gluggy. The roast pumpkin however is delicious and sweet and the other flavours are more subdued to let the pumpkin flavour really shine through.

Cordon-bleu open-faced chicken burger: pancetta, caramelised apple butter and brie on sourdough, served with fries or salad – $14.50

I’m a bit disappointed with the cordon-bleu open-faced chicken burger since it’s not really a burger at all but a slice of sourdough topped with chicken breast, a piece of pancetta, a slice of brie and a piece of caramelised apple. It tastes good but I feel like they were a bit stingy with the ingredients and I’m not so sure that it qualifies as a burger! It also makes it quite hard for us to share and we each only get a small piece. The thick-cut chips however are nice and crisp on the outside with fluffy potato on the inside, although I can’t say they make up totally for the lack of ‘burgerness’.

Chicken avocado salad: roasted chicken with mixed leaves, carrot, raisins and a honey mustard dressing – $13.90

The chicken avocado salad is fantastic with lots of chicken and avocado and a creamy honey mustard dressing. I particularly like the addition of raisins which gives a burst of sweetness to the salad when eaten. This is my favourite dish by far.

Hot chocolate with marshmallows – $4.20

Jimini’s is a great place to rest your shopping legs in Westfield Hornsby. Come for the coffee and all-day breakfasts which are great. They also have a selection of cakes and cookies if you’re after something sweet.

Level 2, Shop 2007
236 Pacific Hwy
Hornsby NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 94762173

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Brown Sugar Pavlova

After eating the glorious brown sugar pavlova from MuMu Grill and seeing Not Quite Nigella’s success at recreating it, I had to try and make it at home. I wanted the pavlova to be the main attraction so I decorated it simply with some sweetened whipped cream and some strawberries. Sir D also likes his pavlova with less of that gooey, spongy interior so I left it in the oven for a bit longer so that it dried out a bit more.

And although I must admit that it wasn’t nearly as good as the pavlova from MuMu Grill, it was greatly enjoyed by Sir D and myself. It turned out superbly crunchy on the outside with a bit of the spongy, airy meringue on the inside, and along with the strawberries and cream made for a fantastic home-made dessert. And for once, my pavlovas didn’t collapse when I added the cream and fruit so yay for that!

Brown Sugar Pavlova (makes 2 large-ish individual pavlovas)

Recipe adapted from Not Quite Nigella, who adapted it from Australian Gourmet Traveller March 2009 via the Greedy Gourmand

2 egg whites
75g caster sugar
40g brown sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
200mL cream
1 tbsp caster sugar, extra
1 punnet strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced (you can really use any fruit you have lying around)

1. Preheat oven to 140ºC. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and draw three 9cm circles on the paper which will be the outline for your pavlovas.

Brown sugar meringue after beating

2. Beat egg whites and the pinch of salt with an electric beater until soft peaks form, then add the caster sugar bit by bit, beating until stiff peaks form and the mixture becomes thick and glossy. Add the brown sugar and beat until the sugar is dissolved, then add the vinegar and vanilla and beat until combined.

3. Spoon meringue mixture into the circles and bake in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow to cool completely inside the oven.

4. Beat the cream with the extra sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of the cooled pavlovas and top with fruit as desired.

Bravo Trattoria and Gelato Bar, Crows Nest

I’m no expert on gelato but I have yet to find better gelato on the North Shore than the gelato at Bravo Trattoria. This, I think, can be confirmed by the queues at the gelato bar on Friday and Saturday nights, even in the midst of winter!

There’s quite a large range of flavours available, with the friendly favourites such as hazelnut, chocolate, and mango being consistently good whilst some of the more unusual flavours like yoghurt and taro changing quite frequently.

This is a great place to have dessert with a large group since they have a large seating area upstairs and I’ve been here numerous times and we always get the 16 random scoops to share between us. However lately we have been finding that we get some dodgy flavours in the 16 scoops (we think that they give us the not-so-popular ones), so tonight we get a large takeaway box instead, where we can actually choose which flavours we want.

There is no umm-ing and ahh-ing when it comes to choosing flavours at Bravos – BLT and Queen Chu both insist on hazelnut, Captain Awesome and I desperately want chocolate, and Sir D wants mango. Apologies about the next half-eaten photo – everyone dug in before I could get a good photo of the tub!

(Half-eaten) Large takeaway container with mango, hazelnut and chocolate – $16.50

3 flavours and 1 large takeaway container chock-a-block full of gelato later, we’re all digging into the gelato in silence, savouring our favourite Bravo’s flavours. Everyone is happy =)

Bravo Trattoria and Gelato Bar
6-8 Falcon Street
Crows Nest NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 99066630
Tuesday – Thursday & Sunday, noon-midnight
Friday & Saturday, noon-1am

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Had to Happen, North Sydney, and all-you-can-eat fajitas!

One Saturday night in August, a large group of people clad in pink for Fi’s pink-themed birthday turned up at Had to Happen in North Sydney, with empty bellies ready for a Mexican feast! An all-you-can-eat fajitas feast as well! And who should I bump into there but FFichiban from Here Comes The Food who was more than ready to participate in said Mexican feast ;)

Chile con Queso: Melted cheese dip with a rich tomato flavour (house specialty) – $10.80 or included in the $28 party menu

We arrive to a very colourful room complete with faux cacti and sombreros, and friendly waitstaff who take drink orders and orders from people not participating in the all-you-can-eat fajitas. Whilst we wait for everyone to arrive, we snack on Chile con Queso – a house specialty dip made of melted cheese with tomato flavour.

Enchiladas Rancheras: Corn tortillas wrapped around shredded chicken, smothered in red sauce, garnished with sour cream and cheese – $18.90

Now, let me tell you that it is an extremely rare occasion that I pass up the opportunity to an all-you-can-eat offer. But tonight was that rare occasion since I just simply wasn’t that hungry and fancied trying something other than fajitas. So instead I decide to order the Enchiladas Rancheras, which is creamy and delicious with the sour cream. It comes with a side of rice and vegetables and I’m usually a bit wary of Western-style rice but this time it is soft and light and cooked perfectly.

Ultimate Nachos: Layered frijole, chicken breast, chilli con carne, salsa, jalapenos and topped with sour cream and guacamole – $16.80

Sir D shares the enchiladas with me and also orders Ultimate Nachos to share. This was actually quite disappointing seeing as their specialties include nachos – the frijole, chicken and chilli con carne dip under the corn chips is quite dry, and there is also a lack of melted cheese which is disappointing for Sir D who was hoping for the stringy cheese as he pulled a corn chip away from the masses! We end up leaving most of this behind and tasting some of the fajitas instead =D


Cold fillings for fajitas: (clockwise from bottom) frijole, guacamole, sour cream, shredded lettuce, grated cheese and some sort of ground nuts? Salsa in centre

BBQ strips of chicken and beef for fajitas

A sizzling platter of meat accompanies the tortillas and other cold fillings for the fajitas and I particularly enjoy the chicken which is tender and has a nice smoky flavour. You can continue requesting for as much meat, cold fillings and tortillas until your stomach is content, and while most people were full after ordering 2nds or 3rds, FFichiban and his fellow fajita feasters (each platter is for 4) ordered 5 plates of meat I think! Nice work!

Everyone was stuffed to the brim and very satisfied, when the people at Had to Happen were lovely and presented the birthday girl with a complimentary crème brûlée and ice cream. Happy birthday Fi!

Had to Happen
107 Walker Street
North Sydney NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 99226590
Lunch: Thursday and Friday, from noon
Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm til late

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