Thursday, January 22, 2009

kenta, neutral bay

Being big ramen fans, chapflap and I were super excited to see grabyourfork's entry about a local Japanese magazine's article on Sydney ramen places. We'd been to Kenta for a ramen-free visit sometime last year (the fish katsu was pretty nice), but returned in our (self-imposed!) mission to try all the places on the list.

Edamame - $3.90. A large serving compared to what you usually get. Served warm, which I prefer to the refrigerated cold version.

Takoyaki - $5.90. The movement of the bonito flakes never fails to fascinate me! Not as creamy/ heavy as the takoyaki at Makoto. I prefer this version, plus I liked the accompanying salad.

Shoyu ramen - $8.50, featuring pork, bamboo shoots and corn. I like having a seaweed sheet and boiled egg in my ramen, so I was happy that they came with the dish.

Chashu ramen - $11.50, featuring extra pork. Chapflap gave the soup a 7, the noodles themselves an 8 and the pork a 9. He gives near 10's for all these components at Ryo's...

So ultimately if you're in the Neutral Bay area and in the mood for ramen, your first stop should probably be Ryo's. But if you want a change, definitely give Kenta a try (it's also a good option for Wednesday nights, when Ryo's is closed). We'll come back to try the Dongoru Ramen which was specially created for the magazine - I only read grabyourfork's revised entry after we went.

81 Military Road (near the intersection with Ben Boyd Road)
Neutral Bay NSW 2089

(02) 9953 5422

Open Wednesdays to Sundays 12pm-2pm and 6pm-10pm
Open on Tuesdays 6pm-10pm only

Saturday, January 17, 2009

northside produce markets, north sydney

I've been dreaming of Sweetness the Patisserie marshmallows since we discovered them at Rouse Hill. Arwen from Hoglet K said that they're also at the Pyrmont markets, and I was hoping that they'd be at the Cook and Phillip Park Markets because I'm starting work near there soon (nooo, I don't choose my office location based on the facilities nearby...).

Happily, I stumbled across Sweetness the Patisserie again today at the Northside Produce Markets, which are held every 3rd Saturday of the month in North Sydney.

Mixed mallows - strawberry, vanilla and passionfruit ($8). We wanted the mango ones from last time, which were divine, but Gena said she changes flavours every month. She also said that she is planning to open a shopfront in Epping on 9 February! Looks like we'll be heading that way for a visit soon...

At the markets we also enjoyed an amazingly flaky sausage roll and pasty:

Sausage roll ($3) and Shepherd's Pasty ($4) from Shepherds Bakehouse.

And to polish off a delicious morning, two desserts from Consummate Caterers:

Apricot tart ($5.50) and apple and rhubarb cake ($4). There was an apple seed in my cake! Both were deliciously moist and packed with fruit. Unfortunately I couldn't find any information about Consummate Caterers through google, but look out for them at markets near you (or maybe I should say smell out for them - their egg and bacon rolls smelt delicious).

This was the first time I'd been to the Northside Produce Markets, and I was very impressed by the variety of stalls and the number of people (and dogs!) there. There's street parking nearby or a council carpark via Ridge Street (free on the weekend).

Northside Produce Markets
Civic Park
(which is between Stanton Library and the North Sydney Council Chambers)
Miller Street (between Ridge and McLaren streets)
North Sydney NSW 2060

More information is available here

The next markets will be held on 21 Februrary from 8am to midday

Sweetness the Patisserie
Opening soon at 38 Oxford Street
Epping NSW 2121

Shepherds Bakehouse
At markets near you

Check their markets listing here

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

zia pina, the rocks

After a play at the Sydney Theatre Company, we needed food to feed our growling tummies. Our first choice, Hickson Road Bistro (which we've been to before and is very reasonably priced for the area and rather delicious) closed too early for us, so we headed to Zia Pina at the Rocks.

The place was actually full at 8:30pm for a Tuesday night - not surprising considering its location, I suppose. After a short wait outside (during which a man suggested we go to the Orient Hotel instead, where he'd just had a $10 lasagna) we were seated in a very small and tightly packed dining area. The food arrived quickly:

Medium (11") meatlovers pizza - plenty of ham, salami, cabanossi and pepperoni on a thin, soft base ($14).

Medium smoked salmon pizza - smoked salmon, capers and onion - a good combination ($14).

Medium Zia Pina special pizza - salami, ham, mushrooms and capsicum. I liked this one best - a good variety and generous serving of toppings ($14).

Caprese salad - described on the menu as "tomato, boccocinni and basil", I still was expecting some lettuce in there... turns out the menu's description is precisely accurate! Quite plain, but a good foil against the pizzas ($12).

People were still venturing in as we polished off the food, although eventually a waiter drew the curtains on the door. We left with tummies heavier and our wallets only $11 lighter each (the meal was a total of $66 including soft drinks). A good alternative to Pancakes on the Rocks for a late night feed in the city.

Zia Pina
93 George Street
The Rocks NSW 2000

(02) 9247 2255

Open 12 midday to 2pm 7 days
Open 6pm to 10pm Mondays to Thursdays
6pm to 11pm Fridays and Saturdays

Sunday, January 04, 2009

all-purpose buns

I love the smell of baking in the morning.

Doesn't have quite the same ring as the Robert Duvall line, does it? Regardless, these buns are actually great for any time of the day. The recipe was originally given to me to make sausage buns, found in Asian bakeries the world over, but you can substitute any filling you'd like. I've used bacon and cheese this time around - char siu (barbequed pork) and onion, or tuna and corn also work well, or you can try sweet fillings like red bean or chocolate.

You'll need:

500g plain flour
100g sugar
250ml water - you can use milk for a more substantial bun, or try half milk half water
15g yeast - if you get the little pre-packed sachets of yeast (such as the Tandaco brand, which we've used in the past), this is equivalent to 2 sachets. Otherwise use 4 teaspoons of yeast
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
50g butter, melted
1 tablespoon of honey or golden syrup

This recipe makes 24 small, snack-sized buns.

1. Heat the water/ milk to body temperature. Using my microwave it took 30 seconds on high. Don't over-heat it, or you'll kill the yeast.

2. Dissolve the yeast and sugar into the water/ milk. It'll look an unappetising beige/grey colour.

3. Wait 10 minutes for the yeast to activate. There should be little bubbles on the surface of the mixture (unfortunately not too clearly discernible in the photo, also starring the melted butter and the beaten egg).

4. Place flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Create a well in the middle of the flour and pour the egg, butter and yeast solution in. If you plan to glaze the buns, reserve a little of the egg at this stage.

5. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to form a ball. Add some more flour gradually if it's too liquid or sticky. Once the dough stops sticking to the spoon, get your hands in there and knead for 15-20 minutes.

6. Cover mixing bowl with a tea towel and place it in a warm place for 1 hour. We put it in an oven that hasn't been switched on.

7. Dough should have risen to twice its original size - don't worry too much about its exact size, the dough will continue to rise when you put the filling in and put it in the oven. Split the dough up into two pieces, it's easier to work with half of it at a time. The second photo shows half the dough being divided up into 12 pieces (first 4 pieces , and then each of the 4 pieces into 3 smaller pieces. Motherflap has been known to weigh them...)

8. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

9. Fill the buns however you'd like. If you're making sausage buns, the dough is traditionally wrapped around the cocktail sausage. I've taken the lazy route and just popped the cheese and bacon (200g of each for the 24 buns) on top. To make filled buns, roll each piece of dough out to make a circle of about 8cm in diameter. Put the filling in the middle of the circle, then bunch up the edges like a dumpling. Put the dough on the tray bunched side down so that the top of the bun will be nice and smooth.

10. If you'd like shiny buns, mix the reserved egg together with the honey or golden syrup and brush on top of each bun.

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

These are great for lunchboxes, picnics or parties. There's just something magical about baking bread - seeing the dough rise, marvelling at the air bubbles that come up when you split it into pieces and most of all the smell that wafts out from the kitchen as it bakes in the oven. It'll bring even the most hardened hibernator out into the sunlight, I promise!

My idea of a pyramid scheme. I don't think it'll catch on just yet in place of cupcakes as a wedding cake substitute...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

guylian cafe, the rocks

Can a city have too many chocolate cafes? After reading posts by grabyourfork, herecomesthefood, the delectable delight and eat like a cow, we eventually made it to the Guylian Cafe at the Rocks. An iced mocha and chocolate set us back $7 each, although I was a little disappointed that you couldn't choose to have milk or dark chocolate. There are specialty drinks that feature milk or dark chocolate, so I suppose you have to go for them if you want the choice. I liked the coffee beans on my iced mocha, and the iced chocolate definitely tasted like Guylian seashells. Yum!

Guylian Chocolate Cafe
91 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000

(02) 8274 7500

Also at Shop 10, Opera Quays
3 Macquarie Street
Sydney NSW 2000

(02) 8274 7900

Open 7 days from 8am until late

ramen condor, city

Inspired by grabyourfork's quest for the perfect ramen, chapflap and I headed into the city with a mission.

We decided to go into Ramen Condor because it appeared fuller than the ramen place next door, Goshu Ramen Tei. NQN has tried both places recently, which is a recommendation in itself :)

Mixed tempura - $8. 2 prawns and an assortment of vegetables, this arrived quickly and was light and crunchy.

Karaage ramen - $11.50. I should've asked for the chicken on the side so it wouldn't go soggy, but it was nice nevertheless. Plenty of vegies, which I like in my ramen.

Gomoku ramen - $12.50. The prawns, pork and cabbage flavoured the soup nicely.

After trying to decipher what Hiroyuki Sakai's message was on the wall, we headed out to find that Goshu Ramen Tei was now the fuller of the two ramen joints. If only we worked closer to this end of the city... then we could get back quicker to fulfill the next stage of our mission!

Ramen Condor
5 York Street
Sydney NSW 2000

(02) 9299 8686

Open Sunday to Friday 11:30am to 10pm