An izakaya is a Japanese drinking establishment that also serves food. While Tokkuri in Cammeray boasts an impressive drinks list, with over 40 sakes on their menu, their selection of food is just as notable. This local izakaya has been around for a few years now, and I love the sleek, dark interior which is dominated by the bar and open kitchen, with colourful patterned futon mattresses stacked on long benches for seating. One of my favourite dishes is the kingfish jalapeno, which really packs a chilli punch that is matched perfectly with the coolness of the kingfish and cirtus yuzu.
Do you have a friend who, even though you may not have seen each other for ages, when you do eventually catch up it’s as though no time has passed and you just pick right up where you left off? One of my best uni friends and I usually only meet up once a year over high tea (it was literally a year to the day when we last met up) and spend a couple of hours catching up and it is like we’re back at uni again 🙂 The scene of our reunion this year was the Sofitel Wentworth on Phillip St in the city.
“You’ve NEVER tried Fratelli before?”
My friend was incredulous and with five Fratelli Fresh cafés and restaurants dotted around Sydney, it is somewhat surprising that I hadn’t yet visited one of them, especially as most of my friends are big fans. To be honest, the main reason I’ve not been is because I hate lining up for restaurants. With that in mind, my more experienced friend instructed me to arrive at Café Sopra on Bridge St before 6pm to be certain of snagging a table without a wait. I dutifully turned up at 5:58pm to a half full restaurant, and as predicted, was immediately ushered to a table.
As my friend was running late, I had plenty of time to peruse the extensive menu. I have written in previous posts of my love of garlic prawns, so I was immediately drawn to the prawn spaghetti with garlic, chilli and pangrattato.
La Grillade has been an institution in Crows Nest for decades, however in recent years it has appeared to have gone through a few different owners and subsequently, there have been frequent menu changes. I’ve sampled the various renditions and have generally been happy with the experience, so I was looking forward to having dinner there on Saturday night.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I adore garlic prawns and will order them just about every time I see them on a menu. I really liked the flavourful garlic infused olive oil that the prawns were cooked in, however the prawns themselves were slightly over-cooked. The dish could have done with some slices of crusty bread on the side with which to mop up the lovely garlic oil; I ended up using the garlic bread we had ordered, which was also delicious and dripping with melted butter, for an extreme garlic hit!
Pork crackling is a food that I adore, but I do hesitate before ordering it because too often, to get the amazing crunchy crackling, you have to put up with overly fatty or chewy pork belly. I had no such misgivings when ordering the roasted pork roll at the Chatswood branch of the Bavarian Bier Cafe, having already tried it during a work lunch at the city Bavarian. My eyes lit up when the thin slices of roast pork, bordered with golden-brown crackling, encased in a soft brioche bun and topped with lime aioli and fried onions arrived at our table.
When I was choosing a restaurant for dinner on Saturday night, my boyfriend’s only requests were that we eat early and quickly, so that we were back home in time to watch the footy on TV. After unsuccessfully trying to book a couple of restaurants at 5:30pm on the Saturday (yep, I’m very much a last minute organiser!), we resorted to our old standby of wandering around Crows Nest and picking a restaurant that looked good. Which was how we ended up at Coco Cubano, which also happened to be the first restaurant we even looked at after parking down the street.
Following on from my birthday discovery that one of my favourite Thai restaurants had shut down, it was my boyfriend’s turn to feel the devastation when we went out for dinner in Neutral Bay on Friday night. From just about day one, he has been a massive fan of the mouth-numbingly hot buffalo wings and slow-cooked BBQ pork ribs at Blue Plate, so he was shattered when we approached the restaurant, only to see a dark, empty room and a notice pinned to the door.
Fortunately, Neutral Bay does not lack for restaurants and we decided to try Woodland Kitchen & Bar, which is just a couple of doors down. A busy night, and having no booking meant that we were relegated to a table outside, which was fairly toasty under the heater for me in a coat; not so for my boyfriend who was rather inappropriately dressed for a Sydney winter evening! The menu at Woodland was extremely enticing, and I eventually chose the potato gnocchi, which arrived looking like an appealing, warm salad, perfect for a cold night.
If you’ve been following my blog, you will remember I posted in my review of Khao Pla that I only ended up there because a Japanese restaurant that I wanted to go to was closed. Izakaya Kuroki was that restaurant and the main reason I was keen on going here was for its chicken karaage, which is one of the best that I’ve ever had. It doesn’t look like traditional karaage; it actually reminds me of KFC Hot & Spicy in appearance! There is an earth-shattering crunch when you bite into a piece and the meat is juicy and tender and has incredible flavour. It’s worth going to Kuroki for this dish alone.
One of my favourite cuisines is Japanese. One of my favourite dining concepts is tapas. Put them together and what do you get? Big Stone, a modern Japanese tapas restaurant in North Sydney! I love the quirky touches inside the restaurant, from the hand painted murals to the pot plants hanging from the ceiling in wicker baskets and the gorgeous light fixtures over the bar.
Nobu Matsuhisa’s first restaurant in the USA was located in Alaska and went up in flames after just weeks of trading. It’s fair to say that things have only improved since then. Nine years after his ‘Bombe Alaska’ (yep, I went there!), Nobu opened a Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant in Beverly Hills and soon became one of the world’s first celebrity chefs. There are now 22 Nobu restaurants around the world, including one in Melbourne which opened in 2007 at Crown Casino.