Category Archives: Reviews

Buffalo Dining Club, Darlinghurst

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.

Buffalo Dining Club menu

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!

Burrata with choice of two sides – $20

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.

Burrata

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.

Honey baby carrots and potato croquettes

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…

San Daniele prosciutto – $10 for 60g

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.

Gnocchi – $20

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

Buffalo Dining Club on Urbanspoon

Ramen O-San, Haymarket

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 store

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.

Ramen O-San’s menu

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.

Black garlic tonkotsu ramen – $10.80
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Papi Chulo, Manly

When I think of Manly, I think of eating fish and chips by the beach, and soaking up the sun with an ice-cream in hand, trying to eat it all before it melts. I certainly didn’t think of American BBQ, but that’s all changed now that Papi Chulo is in town.

Part American grill and smokehouse, part South American cantina, Papi Chulo is definitely a people pleaser with its vast array of dishes ranging from BBQ meat platters to empanadas to even some Asian-inspired dishes like green mango salad. It’s location on Manly Wharf makes it perfect for idling the weekend away with some cocktails and a long lunch, while watching the boats drift by on the water.

Pea guacamole with tortilla chips – $14

We start off with a few snacks. The pea guacamole doesn’t sound particularly interesting on the menu but this is a damn good dish. The guacamole is smooth and creamy and the addition of peas adds a bit of sweetness. Crunchy tortilla chips are provided to scoop up the dip and it pretty much disappears in a flash.

Ceviche of kingfish – $17

The kingfish ceviche has tangy cubes of raw kingfish that has been lightly ‘cooked’ in lime juice, making each piece tangy but still retaining the texture of raw fish. There’s also some jalapeno in there for a spicy kick and pineapple pieces for a bit of sweetness. My favourite bits are the crispy corn kernels which have been deep fried and seasoned which add a nice crunch and textural interest.

Smoked hot wings with comeback sauce – $17
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Yasaka Ramen, Sydney

No Ramen, No Life. It’s pretty much a mantra I live by, as I find myself getting insatiable cravings for ramen every couple of weeks. I was pretty excited to hear about yet another ramen place opening up in the CBD – and run by an ex-Gumshara chef as well! We found ourselves heading over to Yasaka Ramen a few weeks after it had opened to check out what the fuss was about, and to see if chef Takeshi Sekigawa had brought the infamously rich Gumshara tonkotsu broth with him.

Making takoyaki

The first thing you see when you walk into the restaurant are several takoyaki cast iron moulds where a chef is busily turning the octopus balls to make sure they get just the right amount of crispiness. It’s just as well that they have several of these moulds along one wall of the restaurant as there’s lots of different takoyaki to choose from including wasabi soy, teriyaki sauce with egg salad, and grilled cheese!

Takoyaki (8pcs) – $10

We have to order some takoyaki after seeing them being freshly made out the front. The takoyaki are nicely cooked and creamy on the inside, with a touch of ginger and lashings of takoyaki sauce, kewpie mayonnaise and bonito flakes.

Menu

But the focus here is, of course, on the ramen. A full page of the menu is dedicated to three variants of thick tonkotsu pork bone broth – tonkotsu shoyu, tonkotsu shio, and tonkotsu miso – with a variety of toppings. The ramen noodles are also made in house and sometimes you can see them being cut into thin strands out the front of the restaurant.

Egg ramen (tonkotsu shoyu base) – $14.80
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The Smoking Panda, Sydney

I always get a little thrill when I find the doorway to a hidden bar. It’s that rewarding feeling of solving the puzzle of where the bar entrance is, and of knowing something that’s maybe a little bit secret.

That’s how I felt when we walked into the Hotel Coronation, a dingy looking pub on Park Street that I’ve walked past hundreds of times. We knew there was a small bar around here somewhere but it certainly didn’t look like there was one when we entered the pub. We wandered upstairs to what I think was the actual hotel guest rooms (yep, definitely no small bar there), back down the stairs again, and up another flight of stairs where we began to see the fluorescent glow of pink neon lights of The Smoking Panda.

Blackberry & Sage Smash – $17

There’s an old skool Chinese takeaway restaurant feel in the decor, with booth seating and Chinese restaurant-style chairs and tables, but we wander past these and the lanterns straight over to the bar, where we fix ourselves up with a cocktail or two.

Interestingly, the drinks list deviates from the Chinese theme, with an American slant on the cocktails and a big focus on bourbon – there’s more than 50 types of bourbon available from the bar! Our first cocktail of the night, the bourbon-based Blackberry & Sage Smash is fruity but not too sweet, with the tart blackberry and lemon flavours layered over the bourbon.

Georgia Peach – $17

The Georgia Peach is also a bourbon-based cocktail with fresh peach and mint over crushed ice, making for a refreshing drink.

Blue Lagoon – $17

We spy someone order the Blue Lagoon, a lurid blue drink that by all accounts was actually quite tasty. That blue stuff? That’s blue curaçao, gin, vodka, lychee and dragonfruit which is topped with a lemonade foam and popping candy. We got a little taste of the lemonade foam which tasted kind of like a Sprite creaming soda.

San Choy Bao – $5 each

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