Saturday, May 23, 2009

Brief interlude from Kyoto

So I'm currently in Japan which is why the lack of posts but here's a few pictures to whet your appetite for the 800 million posts that will arise after I get back...

Adventures in Dotonburi

Unsurprisingly ramen

And more snack foods than you can shake a 100 yen coin at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Review: Mills Reef Winery

Mills Reef Winery is the Vineyard not far from my grandmother's house in the Bay of Plenty. Now it's not the fanciest wine known to the universe but there really is nothing that beats a rich meal outdoors on a lovely day, especially while you're travelling and the food was just gorgeous.

Our waitress decanting the wine

2001 Elspeth Malbec a steal at $47NZD

Farrago Platter $42NZD

This included hefty serves of local blue cheese and brie, smoked salmon, fresh and tempura oyster and paua, olive tapenade, chicken and cognac pate, taramasalata and babaganoush.

Lamb shank braised with wholegrain mustard served on a pea and potato mash $25NZD

This included 2 whole joints and I couldn't finish it.

Angus Pure eye fillet of beef with mushroom, snail and port jus with olive tapenade and dauphine potatoes $33NZD

Steamed mussels with white wine, cream, parsley, garlic and shallots with fresh bread $19.50NZD (!!!)

Pear, feijoa and white chocolate crumble with sauce anglaise $14NZD

"An Ode to the Mighty Lemon" - Burnt lemon cream, lemon and chocolate tart and lemon confit ice cream $14NZD

This lemon confit ice cream was possibly the best I've ever had, it was as if a strong fine lemon butter was stirred through double cream.

Toffee and toasted nut steamed pudding with caramel sauce, creme anglaise and vanilla bean ice cream $14NZD

All in all this was far too much dairy for my poor stomach to cope with but the meal was beautiful nonetheless, well worth a side trip on a holiday in the north island.

Mills Reef Winery & Restaurant
143 Moffat Road, Bethlehem
TAURANGA, New Zealand

They do a lot of weddings so it might be worth ringing ahead but we walked in without reservation.
Obviously licenced though if you're looking for something that's not their wine or top shelf Champagnes you might be out of luck.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Review: Goshu Ramen Tei, Wynyard

I wrote half this review at Easter and then promptly forgot to post it...

Next stop in my whirlwind tour of Sydney's ramen joints is Goshu Ramen Tei. You may remember me saying that it's next door to Condor Ramen, which is a little odd. At night both restaurants are very quiet and I really did wonder how two of them managed to stay afloat. At lunch time though apparently it's a completely different thing. Having some time off when the boy didn't I went to join him for a lunchtime ramen and these restaurants obviously thrive on business customers.

We had to wait for a table, and the service wasn't fantastic due to the busy crowds but honestly these days I worry about a ramen restaurant where the staff speak English and it's not so busy you're fighting for your food. If I want that experience I'll go to Wagamama. Like Condor it does suffer from being outdoors and next to the Harbour Bridge turn off, not to mention on small plastic tables, but what authentic Asian eatery doesn't?

Gyoza $6.50

The gyoza skin was soft and very light, unfortunately it hadn't been broiled very well as you can see by the variation on the colour of the skin and the sauce wasn't to my taste. After my excellent experience of Condor's gyoza from next door this was quite a disappointment.

Miso ramen $9.00

The boy was fairly underwhelmed by this dish, and many of those ordering it on Eatability seem to agree. The miso was a bit thin and not salty enough and the meat serving was on the smaller side.

Tantan ramen $11.00

My dish was far more pleasing, and in fact got more so as I got through the dish. I was hoping for a much spicier version based on the large layer of chilli oil on top however that seems to be from quite mild chillis or perhaps a prepared sauce as it was a bit of a let down. On the other hand there were plenty of Japanese leeks, bean sprouts and sesame seeds scattered throughout. The noodles were too al dente on arrival, they have definitely been dried at some stage but as the meal goes on they improve drastically in texture and become quite palatable. The thing that makes this tantanmen odd and potentially not much like a standard version of the disk is a strong sweet seasoning in the meat, almost as if it has been stir fried using a heavy hand of hoi sin. This level of sweetness is not normal for what is usually a robust hot dish however what it does is serve to make me appreciate it as an entirely different meal and one that is quite enjoyable. It's not stodgy like Condor's tantanmen and it's rich and warming; but not a very classic version of the dish.

By the end though I don't care and I'm declaring it a happy 8 out of 10 to the scowls of a very disappointed partner pawing sadly at his miso ramen.

To be honest I think Goshu needs to drop the "ramen" label from its name and differentiate as a Japanese bistro or even try izakaya style, something that would make it stand out from Condor ramen next door. Maybe half the attendees are white when I arrive, and the majority of them are ordering curry and karaage rather than ramen, in fact most of the menu is udon, bento and teriyaki dishes aimed pretty heftily at the gaijin. So much so that the boy is not able to order curry for himself as they are out. My dish was quite pleasing in the end and I'd probably return for it but it's not the creme de la creme of ramen in Sydney. For the difference in wait times though this makes a solid but not excellent choice for a lunch time bowl of noodles if you're not willing to wait or trek for better ramen.

Shop 2
5 York Street
Wynyard Sydney 2001
+61 2 9290 3745

Open Monday to Saturday 11am-10pm

No reservation required, no licence

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kiwi snacks

Being in Australia there's not all that much that's different food wise but I thought I'd post a couple of my favourites

Crisp coconut cookies coated in chocolate

"Sweet As" L&P - The diet version of the ubiquitous NZ soft drink made from Lemon and Paeroa water. The label is well worth a read, the Kiwis know how to poke fun at themselves.

And this one's just for

Review: Burger Fuel, Tauranga

For a long time I lived above the Burger Fuel in Newtown Sydney, something not great for my waistline but good for my taste buds. Burger Fuel is IMHO the best take out burger joint of all creation, and knocks every other attempt I've ever tried out of the park including pretenders like Burgerlicious. Burger Fuel is a Kiwi 'whole food' burger chain, there are plenty of salad options, real meat, real everything actually and no fake feeling mass produced food. Good old fashioned comfort food done the right way, my favourite! To top things off they even cater to just about every dietary need imaginable including dairy free, vegan, low carb and gluten free which made them a real winner for our band of hippies and allergen affected.

While we were in New Zealand for a family event we stopped by the Burger Fuel in Tauranga as we had heard from many that it was better in its homeland. TBH we don't find that it's much different, though the bun was a bit more chewy and tasty. Given that Burger Fuel is excellent anywhere though this is hardly a put down. I will add though that they seem to have kept the prices the same in AUD as they are in NZD which makes them a little cheaper in NZ.

Let it be said that the burgers at Burger Fuel are *so big* and *so juicy* that they've come up with a contraption required just to eat them; The Doofer. It's folds up to cradle the bottom of your burger as you eat it, protecting your hands and keeping the delicious sauces in the bun.

And here's a picture of the boy being a twit and tonguing his burger, but exhibiting the use of the Doofer quite well.

1/3 pounder with cheese $8.90

Lambretta Special $10.80

Specials are quite common and often themed each season. At the moment it seems to be Greek flavours so there was this lamb strip and caramelised onion burger or a Feta and Olive burger.

Motobites - vegetable and cashew fried savouries with lemon aioli $5.50

Kumara (NZ Sweet Potato) fries $4.80

You cannot possibly eat an entire drink/burger/fries meal due to the size of the burgers so I often take some chips home or have to abandon them, they are coming up with smaller items though to combat this kind of feedback. I never have the room or the calories for such things but their shakes/soy malts are some of the best shakes I've had in years and worth a pause.

Burger Fuel

Take away, no reservations, no alcohol.

This BF location was:

07 571 8677

Sydney locations are:

Kings Cross

82-94 Darlinghurst Road
under the coke sign
PHONE: 9380 8299


172 King Street
Newtown Corner of King & Watkin
02 9519 4700