Izakaya Yebisu, Sydney

If you’re attracted by bright lights, Japanese food, and alcoholic drinks, then you’ll gravitate towards Izakaya Yebisu like a moth to the flame. Settle down with a Japanese chu hai (shochu cocktail) or a drink from the sake trolley, and go nuts with the huge touchscreen menu. There’s a mix of classics like sushi, uzusukuri (thinly sliced sashimi) and gyoza, or go for something a bit more adventurous like the deep fried takoyaki balls, served with a mini skillet of beef curry and melted cheese! While you’re at it, take advantage of the charcoal grill in the kitchen and order all the yakitori, the yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball) and toasted mochi rice cakes wrapped in crisp nori seaweed. Don’t forget about dessert either – the daifuku ice cream is the bomb and if you’re a Washoku Lovers member, you can also get freshly fried tempura ice cream for only $2! Bargain.

TL;DR: Japanese izakaya in the heart of the CBD with a huge menu
Favourite dish: Green tea daifuku ice cream – green tea ice cream wrapped in a chewy mochi ‘pastry’
Would I return?: Maybe for drinks and a few bar snacks

Penguin says Feed Me dined at Izakaya Yebizu as a guest of Washoku Lovers.

Izakaya Yebisu
Shop 7-10, 501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: + 61 2 9266 0301
Open 7 days, 12pm – 11pm

A Japanese alleyway?
Inside Izakaya Yebisu
Sake trolley!
Kachiwari lemon chuhai – $7.80 (front) and Iichiko Yuzu on the rocks – $7 (back)
Kingfish usuzukuri – $18.80
Toasted rice cake – $5.80
Tsukune (chicken meat ball) with poached egg – $5.80
Yaki onigiri – $5.80
Takoyaki with beef curry and cheese – $9.80
Pan fried pork gyoza with ponzu sauce – $8.80
Green tea daifuku ice cream – $5.80
Tempura ice cream – $2 (with Washoku Lovers offer)

Fika Swedish Kitchen, Manly

There’s heaps of cafes to choose from on any given weekend in Manly, but there’s only one with cute Swedish decor, sunny yellow coffee cups and legit Swedish food! Fika Swedish Kitchen in Manly is one of the few places serving Swedish food in Sydney. And yes, that does in include Swedish meatballs – but they’re a definitely a step up from the ones at Ikea! If you’re not feeling adventurous, they do have standard bacon and eggs and the like on the menu, but I’d recommend channelling your inner Swede and going for the open sandwiches (smörgåsen) and seafood dishes like salmon gravlax, pickled herring and caviar. There’s also a range of desserts and pastries to choose from including warm cinnamon buns and apple pies if you’re just after a sweet treat to go with your Swedish tea or filtered coffee.

TL;DR: Swedish food in a cute cafe setting
Favourite dish: Toast Skagen – prawn, dill & lemon mayo mix with avocado, stacked on sourdough
Would I return?: Yes, if I’m in the area

Fika Swedish Kitchen
5b Market Lane
Manly NSW 2095
Ph: + 61 2 9976 5099
Open 7 days, 7am – 5pm

Coffee – $3.50
Swedish meatballs & mash with creamy gravy, lingonberry jam & pickled cucumber – $20
Salmon lover: House-cured salmon with smashed avocado & free range poached egg on pumpernickel – $19
The Gothenburg hotdog: Grass fed beef & organic pork frankfurter with mash, roasted onion, house gherkin mayo & tomato sauce in a bread roll – $16
Toast Skagen: Our famous prawn, dill & lemon mayo mix with avocado, stacked on sourdough – $18

Cirrus Dining, Barangaroo

I’m back! Yes – I’m well aware that every time I say I’m “back”, I end up disappearing for another 6 months before the next blog post. So I’m going to try something different and change up the format a little bit. There will still be the same food photos but less of my ranting. Enjoy!

Make sure to pick a beautiful sunny day to go to Cirrus as you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous harbourfront views and the natural light streaming through the windows. There’s a focus on sustainable seafood on the menu, with oysters, crustaceans, fish, and caviar for those who are feeling baller! We try a little bit of everything with the Cirrus Platter, with the staff more than happy to adjust the platter to accommodate the number of diners. Cirrus’ fancier take on fish and chips with the whole flathead and chips is also stunning, with a whole deboned flathead fried to a crisp so that you can even eat the tail and fins. But the standout for me was really the marron with its sweet flesh punctuated with yuzu, tomato and pops of finger lime. Totally worth the splurge!

TL;DR: Waterfront fine dining with a focus on sustainable seafood
Favourite dish: Grilled WA marron with yuzukosho, tomato oil and finger lime
Would I return?: Yes, for a special occasion

Cirrus Dining
23 Barangaroo Avenue
Barangaroo NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9220 0111
Open 7 days
Lunch from 12pm, Dinner from 6pm

Smoked Ocean Trout Parfait + Fennel Pollen + Pickled Onions – $24
Cirrus Platter: Oysters + Tiger Prawns + Kingfish + Scallop Tartare + Pickled Mussels + Accompaniments – $150 (for 5 people, normally $120 for 4)
So much seafood!
Grilled WA Marron + Yuzukosho + Tomato Oil + Finger Lime – $42
Whole Flathead + Chips – $38
Coal Roasted Hapuka + Native Spice + Aromatic Broth – $48

Ester, Chippendale

Back when I was studying at Sydney Uni, I remembered Chippendale as the suburb with the dated, slightly run-down pubs (Purple Sneakers at the Abercrombie anyone?) and the huge old Carlton brewery site. How times have changed – there’s now a new fancy hotel, a shopping precinct complete with high rise apartments and heaps of restaurants to eat at.

Ester is one of those restaurants and it definitely fits in with Chippendale’s new hipster vibe with the polished concrete, the mismatched chairs and the industrial decor. We’re seated underneath an arched window that looks directly into the kitchen, so we have a great view of the pass and all the awesome food that gets sent out to hungry diners.

Deep fried chickpeas

Already on the table is a small dish of deep fried chickpeas, which make for a surprisingly addictive snack as you browse through the menu. The menu is designed for sharing, with the dishes getting progressively larger and heavier as you go down the menu. There’s not much description on the menu beyond the key ingredients in the dish so it’s a bit of a lucky dip as to what the dish will actually be!

Crispy squid dumplings – $4 each

Queen Chu recommends ordering the squid dumplings from her previous visit to Ester, so we follow her orders and do exactly that. They come out as black football shaped pieces, coloured from the use of squid ink. It’s quite an unexpected and almost intimidating presentation, but we dig in regardless. The dumplings remind me of the chewy football shaped “ham sui gok” from yum cha, with the same chewy texture and a filling of pork and squid.

Pyengana cheddar pie – $15
Continue reading Ester, Chippendale

Sushi Omakase at Sokyo, Pyrmont

Sushi is one of my all-time favourite foods ever. I will happily eat any kind of sushi – be it takeaway sushi rolls, $3 sushi train plates, or individually crafted sushi at a restaurant. But for something that seems as simple as a piece of raw fish on top of rice, there can be such a vast difference in quality, which mainly comes down to the ingredients, and the skill of the sushi chef.

There’s a good reason that becoming a sushi chef takes years of training, and it’s because sushi is all about the details. What kind of rice do you use? How much pressure do you apply to the rice? What kind of fish? How do you slice or cut the fish? Do you add any garnishes to the fish? A trained sushi chef will know exactly how to answer these questions, and know how to use their creativity to make the best use of seasonal and local ingredients in their sushi.

Chef Takashi Sano
Chef Takashi Sano

One of the best ways to experience this is to book yourself in for a sushi omakase. Omakase means “I’ll leave it up to you”, and you’ll have to place your trust in the sushi chef to know what’s best. The sushi omakase at Sokyo is hands down the best sushi in Sydney (in my opinion), and that is mainly down to Chef Takashi Sano (ex-Tetsuya and Koi) whose sushi skills are unparalleled in Sydney.

I’ve had the sushi omakase at Sokyo twice now, and been blown away every time. So much so that I don’t even know what to say about it (hence why this blog post has been so delayed) except that if you love sushi, you have to go and try it for yourself. It’s not easy to get a booking as the omakase is only available on weeknights for a limited number of people, but this is so Sano-san can dedicate his full attention to each omakase customer for the night.

Snapper with snapper skin, myoga and yuzu
Cooked alfonsino in sweet soy

The following photos of the food are a mix of the two omakase menus we had at Sokyo. Both times we started with some small dishes which varied depending on what was seasonal. On our first visit, we had cooked dishes of snapper and alfonsino with sweet soy sauce, whereas on our second visit, our starters were raw scampi sashimi and melt in the mouth chopped tuna belly with caviar.

Scampi sashimi with yuzu and white soy

Otoro tuna belly with caviar
Continue reading Sushi Omakase at Sokyo, Pyrmont

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