My 10 favourite foods from 2015

I’m trying to squeeze in one last post before the new year! I’ll admit it’s been tough keeping up with blogging, and having Instagram has definitely made me lazy about lugging around my DSLR everywhere. But that hasn’t stopped me from doing the actual eating part heh. So here are ten of my favourite foods that I ate in 2015:

Favourite breakfast/brunch dish: Miso Yummy at KIN by us.

My Kitchen Rules couple, Uel and Shannelle, opened a cafe in Macquarie Park and it turned out to be a huge hit since the queues were out the door! The Miso Yummy dish of miso salmon, two onsen eggs, sesame spinach and a piece of sourdough bread was a winning combination for me, with the rare salmon and the gooey eggs being cooked to perfection every time.

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Special mention also goes to these Nutella and mascarpone pancakes I had at The Moody Chef which were super fluffy, sandwiched with Nutella and drizzled with Canadian maple syrup!

Favourite fried chicken: Smoked hot wings with comeback sauce at Papi Chulo

So much love for these wings. Partly because they’re wings and therefore the best part of the chicken, but also because they have this amazing crisp skin and smokey flavour. And that sauce! It’s just not the same without the comeback sauce.

Favourite pasta: Spelt ravioli at LuMi Bar & Dining

This was like no other pasta dish I ate this year. I do have a soft spot for filled pasta like ravioli and agnolotti, but this pasta was so delicate, reminiscent of xiao long bao where the dumpling skin threatens to tear at any second. The filling was also a burst of flavour, with sweet pumpkin puree pairing well with the burnt butter sauce. I would have eaten a huge bowl of this with no hesitation.

Favourite ramen: Shio tonkotsu ramen at Manpuku

Manpuku was a new one for me this year because they opened up in Chatswood, making it heaps easier for me to get to. I’m so glad that they have because there’s even more choices for ramen on the north side now. The photo above is of their signature ‘number 7’ ramen, but my favourite is actually the creamy and umami-loaded shio tonkotsu ramen. I realised I don’t actually have a photo of it, probably because I’ve been too eager to dig in (oops) but trust me it looks just as good as the number 7!

Favourite burger: The Truffe at Mister Gee Burger Truck

I ate a lot of burgers this year and my waistline is not going to thank me for it, but I still can’t go past the burgers from Mister Gee. The meat patties are always perfectly seasoned for me, which kind of makes up for the fact that you’re eating in a pitch black carpark. My favourite is still the Truffe burger, with the melty cheese and that oozy truffle aioli.

Favourite ice cream: Soft serve at Aqua S

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I was late to hop on the Aqua S bandwagon, but when I tried it, I finally understood what all the hype was about. Sure, their flavours can be a bit hit and miss (their tea-based flavours tend to be pretty on point though) but it’s all about the silky smooth texture of the soft serve!

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I also have to give a special mention the gelato at Ciccone & Sons because it is freaking amazing. I first tried it a month or so ago and have been raving about it ever since. It’s all about creamy jersey milk – the buttermilk & passionfruit, and the mascarpone & strawberry flavours are my favourites.

Favourite dessert: Blueberry, basil, buffalo yoghurt and milk dessert at nel. restaurant

This was a tough one because there were so many good desserts this year. But I think this blueberry dessert from nel. takes the cake not only because of the taste but because of the presentation. It was a stunningly beautiful dessert and the fact that it tasted as good as it looked with the sweet blueberry ice cream and creamy, tangy yoghurt only made it better!

Favourite overall meal: Sushi omakase at Sokyo

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This was an amazing meal that I wish I could eat over and over again. I think it blew me away so much that I didn’t really know how to write about it because I still haven’t written up a blog post! Let me just say though, if you are a sushi lover, you NEED to book yourself in for the sushi omakase at Sokyo – you’ll thank me for it. While the price is pretty steep (starting from $130pp), the sushi is impeccable and of the highest quality, even rivalling the sushi that I ate in Japan. If you have room at the end, say yes to dessert too!

Favourite overseas meal: Yakitori at Torimatsu, Kutchan (Japan)

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If you’re ever in Niseko and want to eat yakitori, hop on a bus to Kutchan and visit Torimatsu. It’s a tiny little yakitori place with grill master, Matsuo-san, carefully placing each skewer on the coals and grilling each one to perfection. The place does get incredibly smoky after a while, but it’s worth it for the grilled meats. especially the tsukune chicken meatballs with egg yolk, which are the best I’ve ever eaten.

Favourite random, uncategorised item (because I really liked this but couldn’t fit it into a category): Connecticut style lobster roll at Waterman’s Lobster Co.

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Aaand finally I had to do a shout out to the lobster rolls at Waterman’s Lobster Co. Because melted butter + lobster + toasted roll + crispy fries = awesomeness.

Thanks for sticking it out and reading my posts this year. Here’s to even more delicious eats in 2016!

nel. restaurant, Sydney

I’m far from what people would call a decisive person, and these days we are so spoiled for choice that even deciding what to eat for lunch can turn into a lengthy process of elimination to figure out exactly what I want.

It was a pleasant surprise then, to walk into nel. to find that there was no choice to make. Nel serves an 8 course tasting menu for $88, and we were more than happy to leave our meal in the capable hands of chef Nelly Robinson.

Menu

We were ushered to our table in the small, underground space where the restaurant was situated. The 8 course menu for the night was already placed on the table when we sat down, and aside from asking whether there were any food allergies or intolerances, there were no more questions and we were ready to get started on the food!

Vinegar, parmesan

Our first course was a series of snacks which came out in quick succession. The first snack was a cloud-like vinegar marshmallow rolled in airy pieces of grated parmesan. It dissolved in the mouth so quickly it just left an impression of sour vinegar and cheesy parmesan on the tongue.

Goma hollandaise, ham

The next snack was a black, gnarly-looking cigar, which actually turned out to be a beef cheek and ox tongue croquette with charcoal. Each cigar was dipped in the goma (sesame) hollandaise topped with bits of ham, which had a nice salty and nutty flavour.

Truffle, rabbit

The last snack consisted of two parts – a truffle and rabbit pastry and a rabbit consomme. These were surprisingly light in flavour, but a good warm up for the dishes to come.

Bread and butter

I usually don’t bother taking photos of the bread and butter, but here at nel it was pretty exceptional. First of all, the bread was a dark black colour, and the waitstaff explained that this was black pudding and onion bread. To be honest I couldn’t taste a definitive black pudding flavour, but it was delicious nonetheless and I could have eaten a whole basket of it!

Crab, “taste of pimms”, cucumber, strawberry, mint
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Manpuku, Chatswood

With an increasing number of ramen places opening up comes more competition. Chatswood used to be a dead spot for ramen but there’s now several options to choose from, including a newly opened Ippudo in The District, and Manpuku.

Interior

I’ve heard good things about Manpuku in Kensington, so I was excited to see that it had opened up closer to home for me and I could finally taste for myself how it stacks up to other ramen places in Sydney. The location is a bit of a walk away from the main shopping precinct, but this hasn’t deterred people from coming. I’ve been a few times now and it’s very popular especially during weekend lunchtimes – so be prepared for a short wait.

Manpuku gyoza – $6.90

Apart from ramen, there’s also some tasty side dishes like takoyaki ($5.50), karaage ($5.50) or mini rice bowls. We start with the Manpuku gyoza – a pork pan-fried dumpling topped with Spanish and spring onions. On my most recent visit, this didn’t seem like it was on the menu anymore, but I can attest the plain pork gyoza is just as good with a nice crispy base and a tangy dipping sauce.

Tonkotsu shoyu ramen – $14.50, with extra egg – $2

There’s a few different types of soup bases to choose from, including chicken soup, pork bone tonkotsu soup, and miso. For most of the soup bases, you can also chose between salt (shio) or soy (shoyu).

The tonkotsu soup is creamy and rich but not too thick. The tonkotsu shoyu is a bit salty for my liking, but the shio version which I’ve had on subsequent visits, has a pleasant balance of saltiness and umami. Both come with two slices of cha shu, bean sprouts, cabbage, black fungus and a sheet of nori.

Shio gara ramen – $13.50, with extra egg – $2
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Monopole, Potts Point

When our group of girlfriends started treating the birthday girl to dinner in lieu of birthday presents, I realised what a good opportunity this was to finally check off some restaurants which have been on my go-to list for a long time…

Monopole was FeFiFoFum’s choice for her birthday dinner, and I was secretly pleased because it was a place that I had been wanting to visit for a while. The outside of the restaurant was so dark and inconspicuous that we nearly walked right past it, but when we finally opened the door, we saw that the dark exterior was matched by the “mood lighting” on the inside.

Luckily we had phones to light up the menu, which was split into cured meats, shared dishes, cheese and desserts. Instead of choosing a la carte dishes though, we went with the Monopole menu, which gave us 7 courses for $65pp.

Cured duck breast, cured pork neck, cured Rangers Valley tri tip

We started with three cured meats arranged on a wooden platter with some pickled vegetables. We had the cured duck breast (foreground), cured pork neck (background left) and cured Rangers Valley tri tip. The duck breast was probably the chewiest out of the three, with a slightly more gamey flavour. While others preferred the tri tip bresaola, I relished the silky fatty texture of the cured pork neck.

Cured trevally, pickled cucumber, smoked yoghurt and sea greens

We continued on with a cold course of cured trevally, which was served with discs of pickled cucumber, blobs of smoked yoghurt and sea greens. It was a light and cooling dish, with the slight acidity of the pickles tempered by the smokey yoghurt.

Rangers Valley beef tartare, egg yolk, mushroom and crisp potato skin
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Mrs Mi, Chatswood

I was waking up from an epic sleep-in on Saturday morning when I got a text from Captain Awesome.

“Hey are you going to that robot restaurant today??”

I usually consider myself relatively informed about new restaurant openings, but this I hadn’t heard of. Captain Awesome filled me in on the new Chinese restaurant in Chatswood which has a robot chef, and that as today was their opening day, they would be giving out free bowls of the signature pork mince noodles to the first 88 customers.

I was sold, and clearly Captain Awesome was as well as she’d been waiting for them to open since 10.30am that morning. So we drove out to join her to check out this robot chef in action.

The interior of Mrs Mi

Captain Awesome and a few others had already snagged a table by the time we got there, so we walked right on in, missing the robot chef, and joined them. The restaurant was pretty full and busy, with lots of staff on the floor to help out on the first day of trade.

The menu consists of Northern Chinese specialties, with a focus on dumplings and handmade noodles. We each chose a noodle and also ordered some dumplings to share.

Mrs Mi xiao long bao – $9.80

The xiao long bao were the first to arrive – there’s some stiff competition in the XLB arena in Chatswood with the likes of Din Tai Fung and New Shanghai, but Mrs Mi’s XLBs are damn good and are a serious contender. The dumpling skins were thin, with several pleats at the top, yet were sturdy enough to hold the flavoursome soup inside.

Braised pork belly with noodles – $13.80

All the noodles at Mrs Mi are sliced by the robot chef into a pot of boiling water. There’s a choice of having your noodles in broth or dry. The braised pork belly noodles had some fatty and tender pieces of pork, and some green Chinese vegetables thrown in for good measure. Even though this was a “dry noodle” dish, it still had enough of the braising liquid to coat the noodles with sauce.

Braised beef brisket, and tendon noodle soup – $14.80
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