Review: Toku Toku izakaya on Glebe Point Road
You know that sound you hear when your pour sake into a cup…well the Japanese call it toku toku which is coincidently the name of a sake and wine bar, also known as an izakaya, on Glebe Point Road. I always think of izakayas as the Japanese equivalent of Spanish tapas bars.
Review: Three Blue Ducks cafe
Three Blue Ducks, located a hill hike away from Bronte beach, has been receiving blazing reviews from critics and punters alike – for good reason it seems. It has got its formula right: fantastic fresh food passionately prepared by Mark LaBrooy (duck number one?) and his well guided kitchen crew; popular coffee bean from Single Origin brewed lovingly by (duck number two?) Chris Sorrell; and finally cafe’s friendly and efficient service led by perhaps the third duck Sam Reid. These guys along with the rest of the attentive sun-kissed-surf-loving ducks make the place feel like a holiday beach pad.
Pierre Hermé Paris
Most visitors to Paris have similar items on their to-do lists – Eiffel Tower at sunset, visit to the Louvre, shopping on the Champs-Élysées and consumption of numerous croissants from local Boulangerie. My list was mostly devoted to the latter as well as other culinary experiences of the city. One day I spent hours walking around Parisian streets looking for the most decadent pastry shop I could find. And that I did – a seriously fashionable Pierre Hermé Paris shop located at 72 rue Bonaparte in the Saint Germain des Prés. It felt so French chic walking around with the store’s fancy carry box which seemed to be as much of a status symbol as wearing the latest Gucci.
Who isn’t a fan of Japanese food? I certainly am and luckily we have an amazing selection in Australia, ranging from exquisite degustations to cheap miso ramens and sushi trains. One of my favourite dishes is Agedashi tofu, and even though I can get it in any Japanese joint in Sydney I still tried as many varieties as possible when traveling through Japan.
Agedashi Tofu at Doma Doma in Tokyo
Agedashi tofu, often shortened to ‘age tofu’, is made from silken firm tofu that’s been cut into cubes, lightly dusted with potato starch or cornstarch and deep fried until crispy and golden. It’s served in a hot tentsuyu broth and topped with finely chopped spring onion or grated daikon.
The best Agedashi tofu I’ve tried was in a cosy izakaya in Tokyo, called Doma Doma. It ticked all three boxes on my Agedashi Tofu satisfaction list: 1) incredibly fresh, velvet soft tofu which was like a savoury melt-in-the-mouth panna cotta, 2) the broth had a true umami flavour – savoury, tasty and subtle, and 3) super crispy, light skin (soggy Agedashi is a waste of time in my opinion). Eating it made me think of my nanna’s big hugs, getting cold feet into warm woolen socks, and cashmere sweaters. It balanced sophistication and comfort perfectly.
I have never tried making Agedashi tofu at home, probably because I am afraid I won’t be able to get the right balance of flavour in the broth or my tofu skins won’t turn out crispy enough. Or I am plain lazy to travel to Chinatown for the right ingredients. Surprisingly, there aren’t so many recipes on the web but I found a few I am willing to try soon.
The secret of Agedashi
How to make Dashi
Agedashi Tofu with Chili Basil
Fried Tofu in Dashi
The Wine Library Review
The Wine Library is a lovely wine bar located on the Woolahra end of Oxford St. in Sydney’s Paddington. Its impressive wine list is matched by a morish Italian menu and great, intimate atmosphere. I find it a cool shelter in summer and a warm and cosy hide-out in winter. My favourite thing is that some of the food is prepared right behind the bar with the aromas enveloping the room.
Quick summary | Wednesday night dinner for two, the bill came to $120AUD total.
What we had | The sommelier helped us with picking the Domaine Lucci Pinot Noir 2010 from South Australia which was a perfect red for the food we ordered. We had a couple of oysters to start with, and a toasted quesadilla with black truffles and Stracchino cheese (truffles FTW). We continued stuffing our faces with the spicy lamb gozleme and the most luscious baked polenta with duck ragu and Fontina cheese.
What I liked | The atmosphere is perfect for a date or intimate gathering. It’s the sort of place where wax lyrical goes down as easily as the wine and the hours pass unnoticed. Polenta and quesadilla were the stand out dishes as was the wine if you don’t mind splurging a little (yep, 50% mark up on retail price of that bottle).
What I didn’t like | The food was actually quite affordable but we didn’t find many low priced wines on the menu. Gozleme nothing special so I would skip that and try the meat balls instead. Our sommelier stuffed the order at first, not sure how as he was the one who suggested the wine, but we forgave him as soon as we had the first sip.
Final thoughts | This was my second visit to The Wine Library. The first time was in summer, catching up with a girlfriend over a bottle of Lambrusco and cold Italian meats while we sat at the bar. Both experiences were very enjoyable but I prefer the place in winter, it just seemed so much more cosy.
18 Oxford Street
Woollahra NSW 2025
(02) 9360 5686
Open Weekdays 9am-10pm; Sat 9pm-10pm; Sun 9pm-12am
Beetroot carpacio with girolle mushrooms & burrata
Restaurant Itinéraires Review
My experience lunching at the restaurant Itinéraires in Paris, a tucked away bistro with amazing modern French food.
Bloodwood Restaurant Review
My girlfriend and I had a little celebratory dinner at Bloodwood. Located in Newtown, this place is run by the ex-Claude’s chefs who moved away from fine dining with this new venture. It’s pretty cool and happening with playful decor and good looking crowd but surprisingly sans attitude or arrogance you often expect from places like this. You will find share plates of delicious food, good selection of cocktails and fantastic wines. We both thought it would be a great spot for a date.
Quick summary | Thursday night dinner for two, the bill came to $120AUD total.
What we had | We shared all of the dishes, although some of them we had to fight for like the super soft lamb kibbeh (aka meatballs) with almonds and red capsicum puree sauce. There were mixed salad with crispy pancetta, sweet potato croquettes with garlic sauce and red cabbage, beautiful salmon dish, deconstructed cheesecake and wait for the name…Sugardaddy’s chocolate torte! We washed it down with four glasses of Viognier and two glasses of Grandfather port.
What I liked | The vibe is great – relaxed in attitude but buzzing just enough to be the IT place to be. It’s known as a modern-Australian restaurant but I actually thought, and liked, that it had a variety of different cuisines mixed through the menu. I also love when you can share the dishes so that was another tick form me. Finally, they have reasonably priced Grandfather port on the menu – enough said!
What I didn’t like | Not much really, just a few personal observations. The chocolate torte was a bit too heavy and the pastry on the bottom was too hard for my liking. The kibbeh meatballs were very tasty but there wasn’t enough sauce – a real shame given how good they went together.
Final thoughts | I will definitely go back but next time I will book as it does get busy after 6:30pm even on week nights. It has a great space for a group table under the stairs, feels like it’s set in the basement or cellar. I would definitely consider a large group dinner with friends there.
416 King st.
Open Wed-Thur 5pm-late
Fri-Sat 12 noon -late
This local Spanish tapas restaurants has been on my to-eat list for a while, and even though I have had some tapas dishes from there during the Spot Film Festival few months earlier, it wasn’t until earlier this week that I got to have a proper sit down dinner there.
Dinner: Wednesday night, 4 people, we paid $120 in total including tip
What we had: we shared Patatas Bravas (crispy fried baby potatoes in a tomato chilli sauce – they were delicious); Cordero Adobado a la Plancha (marinated lamb backstrap fillets – we couldn’t get enough they were so tender and yummy); Vegeterian Albondigas de Paella (think Arranchini balls with Paella rice); Champinones al Ajillo (garlic mushrooms – tapas standard done well); Empanadillas (Spanish curry puffs with spiced beef, olives & egg, which I will skip next time as they were a little too oily and the flavour didn’t compensate for that); and finally Ensalada Iberica (we actually ordered Plato de Jamono, a plate of Jamon Iberico, but instead got a mixed salad with Manchego cheese. Luckily it was quite good and was a lucky mistake given how much other food we had). There was also bread and a jug of great Sangria.
What I liked: each dish was big enough to share between four people, everything was very tasty and quite authentic, good value for money, very cozy, Spanish decor with sandstone walls that felt like a castle, Ritz cinema is just across the road.
What I didn’t like: not much really, I’d have to try everything but out of the dishes we had the Empanadillas were my least favourite; also, I would think it gets busy on weekends so not getting a table could be annoying.
Will I be back: definitely, in warmer months I’ve seen people dancing out the front of the restaurant so it has a great atmosphere and super friendly stuff as well as great food.
El Bulli Del Punto Spanish Tapas Restaurant Sydney
40 St Pauls Street
Randwick NSW 2031
(02) 9398 2027
Open Mon-Tue 5pm-11pm; Wed-Sun 5pm-12am