LA Hound coming to Sydney for 3 days ...
- a213b Nov 26, 2011 09:51 PM
I've been up on the Gold Coast for the past month working, and have made plans to pop down to Sydney for three days before flying back to the States. Looking for some great recommendations of things I cannot so easily get in LA
I've already booked Momofuku and Quay for dinner, and have a call in to Tet's. From my reading it seemed many would recommend Quay over Tetsuya, is that correct?
I'll be there Monday early afternoon, and will leave that Thursday afternoon, so I'm looking for (at the most) 3 breakfasts (T - TR), 3 lunches (M - W), and 3 dinners (M - W). There's no budget, but I am certainly don't want to limit myself to higher-end, multi-course/tasting-menu type restaurants.
What does Sydney have that you guys feel is outstanding? Any cuisine is up for grabs, and there's not really much I don't eat.
While on vacation last February, I enjoyed a memorable meal on the Terrace at Bistro Moncur, in Woollahra. Attentive, thoughtful service (I was dining solo), and stellar cocktails. Not sure how to compare to other places, as I only had a few dinners in Sydney during my February visit. (I am in Vancouver, BC, Canada). Lunch at Hugo Manly also a delight; although beachfront dining rarely disappoints.
In Vancouver: Yew at the Fairmont, Hamilton St. Grill, La Brasserie, Thai Hang, Two Chefs & A Table, Apron at Wall Centre come to mind. JJ Bean for coffee. Sorry I missed posting in your Vancouver thread.
While visiting Australia in February, I was in Sydney for three days at each end of a one-month journey. My dining budget is in the "moderate" range. Will you be in Melbourne at all? If so, visit Josie Bones.
While we're at it, as an ex Montrealer who almost gave up finding an authentic French pastry café, Thierry at 1059 Alberni( near the Hotel Vancouver) is a French pâtisserie-chocolatier. It's open until midnight. I have yet to be disappointed from the hazelnut choux, savarin au rhum, lemon tarts or macaroons: www.thierrychocolates.com
Thanks for the advice; with respect to regional chinese, having just spent a good bit of time in Vancouver (and living in LA), I'm wondering if I ought not make something else more of a priority. If I do choose, any specific spots you would recommend?
I'm a HUGE fan of hand made noodles, and love the heat of Sichuan, so maybe something along those lines? Or anything else you can think of.
The cuisine hails from Xinjiang, where there are many muslim. This is a hand-pulled noodle restaurant. It is the typical Chinese hole in the wall that's always packed,crammed & where there is a high possibility of sharing tables. It's cash only. The noodles are so long that they use scissors to cut the noodles at your table. Their lamb noodle or Jia Jia Mian are outstanding as well as the onion pancakes. Their Xiaolongbao(little dragon buns) do not have the thin skins which spurt soup as the Shanghai Xiaolongbao , but are a more bready,doughy type. This place can be difficult to find although you know you are in the right area. A colleague never found it & it shares the same address as the #1 southern Thai restaurant Caysorn Thai. It's:Prince Centre, 8 Quay St, Haymarket open 11am-9pm. You'll need a good map of the CBD to find Quay St
A really good place for breakfast is a small place called "2 Good Eggs". The eggs used are free range and the scrambled eggs were cooked to perfection & not the usual overcooked eggs like most places. The kitchen is open and the fruit juices are blended after one orders. They have a rather pricey organic Wagyu burger but it was the best meat for a burger that I ever had. It's at 148 Goulburn(corner of Brisbane) almost across the street from the Travelodge Sydney on Goulburn & Wentworth http://twogoodeggs.com.au/TWOGOODEGGS...
This may be surprising, but "the Restaurant" in the rear of the main floor of the Art Gallery of New South Wales is amazing. The food is French-inspired modern Austrslian with all the ingredients beig local with a daily changing menu. 3 walls are glass and give an amazing view of the Domain, Wooloomooloo & Potts Point.. As most Australian museums are free, you enter the main entrance then head to the rear. http://www.artgalleryrestaurant.com.au/
You have the best and the hottest booked already. Tets gets mixed reviews these days and given the two you have booked you may not need another big night out. I would add in Gastro Park, Duke Bistro or District Dining as these are quite modern and funky so give a good contrast. For lunch there are lots of great options, head out of town to the beach and try North Bondi Italian Food or Sean's Panaroma (both in Bondi), in town somewhere like Bistro CBD or Pendolino (Italian) are good, or even go for a wagyu burger at the bar at Rockpool Bar & Grill. Food courts are getting funky, the new Westfield in Pitt Street has lots and lots of really good interesting options including Becasses "Quarter24" which is their mid priced option. As MrG says regional Chinese can be OK, Chrfs Gallery is an interesting choice. I would also try Thai with either Chaat Thai or Spice I am for a quick snack.
Breakfast is all about coffee in Sydney, if in the CBD then look for the queue, and if there is no queue keep looking - I like Workshop in the Galleries Victoria ( near the Hilton). All cafes do food but if you want something substantial the inner city suburbs are the best bet as they do a full set of choices to meet weekend demand - Bill's is the famous one, still good but now expensive and not the leader it once was. Do avoid anywhere near circular quay for breakfast or coffee.
Thanks for the other options; I am meeting a friend for dinner and then a few cheeky ones Monday night, and I believe he wants to hang around the Rocks -- any of those suggestions fit for that?
Also, I love, Love, LOVE great coffee; I tend to eat VERY light breakfasts (oftentimes just a juice drink/smoothie), but I am willing to walk for great coffee.
As I mentioned upthread, LA has a wealth of phenomenal regional Chinese, as well as amazing Thai, so I *might* stay away, though I do love them so much I may find myself getting it anyway.
Coffee in Sydney is an art form so you don't need to walk far. But that said there is good and bad hence the advice to look fr the queue in the morning, and it is tricky to recommend places as Baristas do move and when they do the standard can drop. Another really good one in the CBD I just off George St up the lane towards Wynard St called Steel Espresso. As flyboy says avoid the chins there is no need to try them - I think Sydney is one of the few towns Starbucks practically withdrew from!
As to the Rocks, mmmh I would generally say tht drinking there isn't that great (I used to live there) with the notable exceptio of the Lord Nelson (up the hill). As for restaurants it isn't strong esp on a Monday when lots of places take a day off. I would eat elswhere and come in for a beer - a burger at Rockpool Bar and Grill isn't too faraway. Or a meal at Sailor Thai, I understand that you may think LA has great Thai but I encourage you to benchmark a Sydney one. I am pretty certain you will change your mind - they are a revelation and IMO are often better than a lot of those in Bangkok (where I ate last month). Another option is a beer at the "Opera Bar' which will be civilized on Monday and then try the food court next door - sounds dodgy - but OK for a light meal.
First Day ... went out with some friends to the Lord Nelson and then the Fortune of War before heading to Rockpool B&G.
Both pubs were a lot of fun, though I quite enjoyed the Lord Nelson more -- loved their beers on tap.
The Rockpool B&G is in a beautiful Art Deco building ... somewhat akin to Eleven Madison park in NYC (though, in truth, I much, MUCH prefer EMP).
We went in the bar area, versus the main dining room, and ended up having a few glasses of wine and the vaunted Wagyu Burger.
The wine was nice, but the burger (and chips we ordered on the side) was rather lackluster. I didn't really get much "beefy" flavor, much less the fattiness I expect of Wagyu. I ordered Med-Rare and it was a bit overdone, but that still doesn't explain it. The chips tasted as though they were fried in the same oil as the restaurant's fish for "Fish & Chips (though I have absolutely no idea if they even do Fish & Chips) ... very "fishy". The burger was overdone, as I said, and a bit too sweet for my taste; and that's without the ridiculously over-sugared ketchup the restaurant offered on the side.
In short, the pubs were fun, and my mates and I had quite a good time in all, but the burger at the Rockpool B&G left MUCH to be desired -- middle of the road is the absolute BEST I could describe it, and that's being quite generous.
Hopefully tomorrow I have much better luck at Momofuku.
I agree that B&G has gone downhill a bit even in the 20 months I've been here. The last three or 4 times I've been there (both at the bar and in the main dining area) have seen pretty big service flaws and the food has gone a bit bland.
The burger to me, has always been a bit too sweet all around. I now get it with the zuni pickle on the side because that really overpowered the burger flavour. The ketchup is also way too sweet. But I did notice when I moved to Sydney a while back, that everything was much sweeter than in the US. The biggest disappointment for me is where the onion rings are now. They used to be highly addictive with a great salty crunch, but now they just taste bland. Service in both the dining room and bar has had issues. The last two times in the dining room, my group waited at least 45 minutes between entree and mains. Great way to upsell more wine, but at those prices it's not worth it. The bar had issues bringing out the sides after I was done with the burger. Even asking and eating the burger slow, didn't get them there any quicker. Oh well, on to find the best burger replacement in the city.
Sorry for the delay in reporting on my last couple of meals, but now that I've made it through the holidays I can put up my thoughts.
First, Momofuku Seiobo:
I've eaten at and enjoyed each of the other Momofuku establishments, and was quite eager to add this first foreign outpost.
Seated at the bar, I struck up a friendly conversation with the diner next to me, who as it turns out works in the kitchen at Quay (my dinner the next night). We enjoyed comparing our thoughts on the meal as it progressed.
Here are the courses I had that evening, and my quick thoughts (don't want this to be tedious)
1) Started with a plate of "snacks"; shiitake chip, nori, mochi, and smoked potato, that were quite lovely little single bites, and a great way to start off the meal
2) The Famous Pork Bun - I've had this numerous times, so while I enjoyed it, it was nothing new nor special to me. Quite tasty, though when in NYC I prefer the ones at Ippudo.
3) Striped Trumpeter, Blood Orange - nice start; fresh, light, super clean flavor in this sashimi presentation. Loved the tart acidity the orange added
4) Marron, White Asparagus & Szechuan Pepper - buttery with a touch of sweetness, I enjoyed the bite the pepper added to this fish. The asparagus was perfectly cooked, with a nice bit of toothsome-ness. Really nice dish
5) Wagyu, Radish & Fermented Black Bean - a very pretty dish, once I dove in it was all a flash and no sizzle. Finely sliced radishes were layered (again, very aesthetically appealing) in a bowl - almost like flower petals - with a bit of the black beans "crumbled" on top. Underneath was, I believe, bruinoised wagyu in some sort of sauce that escapes me at the moment. Wasn't a bad dish, just surprisingly lacking in flavor given the ingredients ... I gathered from those sitting around me (who were all on the same course as myself) they felt similarly. Oh well, again, not terribly, just fairly unforgettable (except for the presentation).
6) Smoked Eel, Jerusalem Artichoke & Pink Grapefruit - Yum! I loved the smokiness of this, really well balanced with the small segments of grapefruit bursting with small hits of sweetness, tartness and acid. I could’ve eaten several more portions of this.
7) Swimmer Crab, Butter, Pepper & Pudding – One of the best dishes of the night! Lovely presentation, tender crabmeat with a perfectly cooked Yorkshire Pudding next to it, and a lovely, luscious buttery sauce (can’t remember exactly what it was at this point, and I lost my notes). I wanted to eat mine and everyone’s around me. Best part was tearing the pudding and using it to sop up the sauce. By the time I was done they really had no need to clean the plate, as I’d done it for them.
8) Egg, Toasted Rice & Brown Butter – This dish, while I appreciated the creativity, just did not do it for me. It was like an egg panna cotta, with a dashi/brown-butter sauce that had bits of toasted rice in it. I didn’t like it from a textural standpoint, and I’ll just say that I guess the flavors were so subtle I just did not pick them up … at all.
9) Hand Torn Pasta, Goat Cheese, Chili & Mint – Very nice and refreshing after a few more powerful and bold dishes (egg aside), this was just as it sounds … freshly made, hand-torn pasta with baby tomatoes, fresh mint leaves, a touch of chili oil and a sauce much like a goat cheese sabayon. The tomatoes were so fresh and succulent, they simply burst in your mouth, the goat cheese provided a nice tang, and the mint rounded this out very nicely. Very satisfying.
10) Striped Trumpeter, Fennel & Wakame – the second trumpeter preparation of the evening, this one … I don’t want to say paled in comparison to the first one, but certainly was not as good. C’est la vie.
11) Lamb Neck, Cauliflower & Mustard – another miss, this was my least favorite dish of the evening. In fact, it was the only one I did not finish. I expected the lamb neck to have a more gamey, animal tang to it, but it was really bland. The mustard seeds couldn’t perk it up, but I will say that the cauliflower accompaniments (both an individual little head as well as two quenelles of puree) were earth-shatteringly good. I can usually take it or leave it, but I would have gobbled up a plate of just that. It’s too bad the focus of the dish was the lamb neck.
12) Pecorino, Honey Licorice & Bee Pollen – so simple, but devastatingly clever as a cheese course. This dish was comprised of freshly shaved pecorino, a thin slice of honeycomb, a touch of pollen and a touch of, I’m guessing, anise. When it was set down I started chuckling, and then I took a bite. Just a perfect dish, and one someone could actually make a fair replication of at home. It’s one of those things where I see/eat it and think, “Why the hell have I never thought of doing this!”
13) Wattle Seed, Malt & Crispy Milk – the pastry team here is on FIRE! I cannot do this dish justice, I just know that as an avowed “sweetaholic” I loved it. Such depth of flavor, but not overly sweet. If you go, I just hope you are served this.
14) Miso, Pickled Strawberry, Toasted Rice & Mustard – such a beautiful bowl, lovely colors, this was like a bowl of rice pudding with the pickled strawberries providing a nice balance for the touch of sweetness.
Bonus) Roast Pork Shoulder – that’s right, they ended the meal serving roast pork shoulder, which was just shockingly, delectably amazing. They must keep reducing and reducing the sauce, and maybe braise it a bit too, because it has such a lovely, crispy skin. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
All in all, this was a pretty good meal. It’s still early, and I’d favor Ko over this, but they probably need just a bit more time to get their feet under them.
We had some big hits, and some misses as well, but at least there is creativity and inventiveness going on in the misses. I’d certainly recommend it.