It’s been a while since my last visit to Ippudo. While the queues are still there and the place is as busy as ever, the menu has expanded from comprising of mainly ramen with a small selection of sides and desserts, to a full blown a la carte menu to cater for everyone’s tastes.
Having such a large menu means that there were more decisions to be made. There was an overwhelming choice of different ramen soup bases, ramen toppings, entrees, salads, more substantial-sized dishes and rice dishes, so it took us a while to decide on what we wanted to eat.
The Ippudo pork buns are pretty much a must-order for me. The juicy grilled pork belly, crispy lettuce and pillowy-soft bun hit all the right notes. There was a nice balance of flavours though I could always do with some extra pork belly!
It’s been a bit quiet on here but with good reason. Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I’ve been eating myself silly in Japan for the past 2 weeks! Now that I’m back, we’ll be returning to regular broadcasting but keep an eye out for some Japan posts coming soon!
But first, let’s talk about pig. With a name like Swine & Co, you’d expect this restaurant to serve pork, pork and more pork – and you’d be right. Set in the space of what used to be Bavarian Bier Cafe on O’Connell St, the area has been revamped to a bar on the ground floor, and a dark, cavernous restaurant below ground, complete with swine decor and punny welcoming signs.
While we wait for our food, we’re treated to a bread basket which has slices of white and rye bread, paper thin flatbread and the best grissini I’ve ever eaten! They’re all swaddled with a small dish of butter in a cloth basket.
We’re also surprised with a complimentary amuse bouche to start the night which was a small piece of seared tuna on a cucumber jelly with creme fraiche and dill.
It wouldn’t be right to not have a pork starter at a place called Swine & Co, so we chose the crispy pigs tail to kick off our porcine journey. The pigs tail was flattened and crisped up on one side, and paired with some pine puree, pickled mushrooms, grapes and pistachio.
Although it was a sad day when Becasse and Quarter Twenty One closed in Westfield Sydney, I was also excited to see what was going to open up there. One day I walked past and Jones the Grocer had popped up in the space, and it was a bakery, a food store and restaurant all rolled into one.
Sir D and I had dinner there one quiet weeknight and we were seated near the windows which looked down onto the Pitt St pedestrian walkway and into the windows of the Virgin Active gym. It almost made me feel a little guilty eating our entrees while people were boxercising vigorously next door, but once we dug into our meals I was pretty sure we had the better deal.
You can tell that the love of food runs in my blood since it was Mum that first introduced me to this new find. Izakaya Masuya takes its name from its sister restaurant next door, Masuya, which I’ve been to many times and never been disappointed. The smaller, more informal izakaya has an extensive menu of small dishes perfect for sharing and nibbling on with sake or a Japanese beer.
We start with one of the dishes from the daily specials menu which includes sashimi that is sourced fresh that day from the fish markets. We choose the yellowtail sashimi which includes five slices served on a bed of crushed ice with some freshly grated wasabi.
Would you like a side of theatre with your dinner? If that’s your thing, be sure to order the market fresh guacamole ($9) from Mejico. Watch in delight as the waitress comes over to your table with all the raw ingredients – a halved avocado, chopped Spanish onion, lime and chopped coriander – and mashes it up ceremoniously in a molcajete (a mortar and pestle).
We’ve actually ordered three guacamoles tonight, because that’s how much we love avocado. Although only one of them is made at the table, it doesn’t make it any less delicious or fresh as we all pile it on top of the accompanying plantain chips. There’s nothing better than freshly made guacamole, and a testament to that is that we were literally scraping every last bit from the molcajete with a spoon.