Kin means family. At newly opened cafe KIN by us, Uel and Shannelle aim to welcome you into their family by cooking Asian-inspired food with love, just like they did on My Kitchen Rules.
The cafe is tucked away on the ground floor of a new apartment complex in Macquarie Park. The area is so new the street barely registers on Google Maps, but when we arrived one rainy morning it was clear that half of Sydney knew about it, since there was a mass of people waiting outside for a table.
After a 45 minute wait, during which Uel was super hospitable, even offering those waiting some Easter eggs (it was Good Friday), we finally got a table and placed our order. We’d had ample time to look at the menu during the wait, so we ordered our food straight away and it all came out quite quickly.
One of the most interesting menu items was the Nana Fufu smoothie, a banana, tofu and honey smoothie. At first sip, the banana flavour hits you, but then later on you get the slight creamy tofu flavour mixed in with the sweetness of the banana and honey.
Coffee is sourced from Reuben Hills and each order comes with a cute little biscuity thing placed carefully on the teaspoon.
I tried the Milo mocha which was pretty much like a regular mocha but with the added malty goodness of Milo. You couldn’t definitely smell the Milo but it wasn’t so pronounced in the taste.
I don’t like popcorn. People look at me weirdly when I say that, because how could you not like popped corn kernels doused in butter? But seriously, I just think that popcorn doesn’t really have much flavour apart from salt, and it gets stuck in your teeth, and it’s kind of just like eating air. Salty air.
When I was contacted by Planet Popcorn, a Taiwanese handmade popcorn chain, who offered to send me some popcorn samples, I was all ready to politely decline, but then I saw the flavours. Double Chocolate. Basil Chicken. CORN SOUP. I was officially intrigued and happily accepted the samples. This was a good thing, because this popcorn was pretty awesome – especially the savoury flavours. The basil chicken was peppery and slightly spicy, and the corn soup tastes exactly like the hot corn soup you get out of vending machines in Japan.
Even the original flavour was good, with a very light, sweet coating around each buttery popped corn kernel, ensuring that each piece of popcorn stays crunchy. I thought that the sweet and salty flavour was perfect to go in a popcorn-based dessert, so I decided to make these awesome popcorn macarons.
I realised I hadn’t made macarons in a couple of years, and I could definitely tell I was out of practice. It didn’t help that this was the first time baking macarons in my current oven, so despite using the same recipe that I’ve used numerous times before, the temperature was a bit off and they nearly failed on me.
So even though they weren’t my best work, they still turned out pretty tasty with a gooey caramel filling and bits of crunchy popcorn sprinkled on top. The other popcorn flavours were devoured pretty quickly by everyone, with the crowd favourites being the corn soup, basil chicken, coffee and original flavours. If you want to try some of Planet Popcorn’s popcorn, head over to Westfield Hurstville between 13th-17th April to the new Planet Popcorn store where there will be giveaways, prizes and other launch offers. Don’t forget to pick up a packet of corn soup flavoured popcorn too!
Well hello again, it’s been a while! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to Hokkaido in Japan where we got stuck in the airport both there and back, and when we finally landed on home soil, I was off again on another interstate work trip!
So it’s kind of nice to be home, and to have time to sit down and blog and just chill. But one thing I started to miss as soon as we got back to Australia was the incredible food in Japan – hell, even the fast food there is way better (Mos Burger anyone?)
So yes, this post is about Japanese food, coz you all know I can never get sick of the stuff. I’d had Cho Cho San on my radar for a while, so I was pretty happy when Charm chose this restaurant to have her farewell dinner.
The menu has a selection of dishes designed for sharing, which suited us perfectly as we were able to try little bits of everything. We started with the tempura eggplant miso, a deep fried take on the classic nasu dengaku. The tempura batter was wonderfully light, encasing soft pieces of eggplant and drizzled with a sweet miso sauce, sesame seeds and shallots.
The beef tataki was like no other I’d had, with super thin slices of fatty raw beef that melted in the mouth, with nutty-tasting wild rice for texture and a light ginger dressing.
One of the best things about visiting Hokkaido is the amazing seafood, particularly the crab and scallops. Hokkaido scallops are plump and sweet, and especially sweet when eaten raw. The hokkaido scallop dish at Cho Cho San played up the sweetness of the scallops by contrasting it against the umami flavours of the katsuoboshi (dried bonito) and the tangy flavour of yuzu. There was also chopped radish and wakame seawood for colour.
For a long time, the only cheese I knew about was the plasticky slices of Kraft Singles. I remember trying to make grilled cheese as a kid and wondering why my cheese didn’t ooze and melt under the grill quite like the ones I saw on TV.
It wasn’t until later on in life that I realised that there was a whole world of cheeses beyond Kraft Singles, all with different flavours and textures. I soon discovered that soft, creamy cheeses like brie and camembert, and stretchy, mild flavoured cheeses like mozzarella were amongst some of my favourites, and sought them out like they were going out of fashion.
It wasn’t long before I found out about burrata, a stretchy pouch of milky mozzarella that holds a surprise flowing river of rich thickened cream inside. When I saw it on the menu at Buffalo Dining Club, I knew I had to have it. The other cheeses would have to wait because the burrata was calling my name!
All the cheeses at Buffalo Dining Club are $20 each and come with a choice of two sides. We decided to get the potato croquettes and honey baby carrots to go with our cheese. The plate also comes with some bread and nduja, a spicy sausage that you can spread onto the bread.
The cows’ milk burrata is buttery and smooth just like you’d expect, though a bit softer and less stretchy than others I’ve had in the past. I was expecting a river of cream to flow out of the burrata once we broke open the pouch but there wasn’t as much as I had hoped. Not to worry though, because the cheese was still creamy and silky in texture, and we didn’t leave any of it on the plate.
The potato croquettes were more like pommes noisette, or round potato gems. They were perfectly spherical potato balls with a crispy outside – kind of like a round version of fries! These were addictively good. The carrots were sweet and tender and yep that was pretty much my vegetable intake for the meal…
Apart from the cheese, the charcuterie is also worth checking out. There’s a selection of prosciutto, jamon, bresaola and other cured meats and we end up with a healthy 60g of San Daniele prosciutto. The prosciutto is served on a piece of wax paper and it’s sliced super thinly. After one slice, we are immediately regretting not going for the 90g option because it’s deliciously fatty and simply melts in the mouth.
Our last dish is a plate of buffalo ricotta gnocchi in a napolitana sauce. The ricotta gnocchi are so light and airy – it’s like eating pillows of clouds! This was a great way to have a pasta dish that wasn’t too rich or stodgy after the cheese and prosciutto, and even though I had a serious case of food envy watching the spaghetti being served in the pecorino cheese wheel, I was glad we stuck with our choice of gnocchi.
So cheese, prosciutto and pasta is pretty much all that’s on offer at the Buffalo Dining Club, but it’s what they do best. This is a fantastic place to take any cheese lover, and as a self-professed cheese lover who has graduated from Kraft Singles, I’m already planning a return visit.
Buffalo Dining Club
116 Surrey Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Ph: +61 2 9332 4052
Open Wednesday to Saturday, midday to 11pm
The year feels like it’s only just begun and already there are new ramen shops popping up all over Sydney. The latest one to open is Ramen O-San, which hails from Kyushu, Japan’s most southwesterly island that encompasses the prefectures of Fukuoka, Okinawa and Nagasaki, amongst others.
Ramen O-San’s Sydney shop is the 7th shop to open, with 5 stores already open in Japan and one store in Cambodia. The soup base here is a shoyu tonkotsu base, made by boiling pork bones down for 10 hours and adding in soy sauce at the end. Most of the ramen on the menu is a tonkotsu-based, however there are some which combine the pork bone broth with a chicken or fish stock.
I opt for the black garlic ramen, which is basically the original tonkotsu ramen with a bit of black garlic thrown in. There’s a streak of black garlic oil on one side of the bowl which is fragrant with garlic flavour and adds another dimension to the tonkotsu soup base.