Sunday, 21 October 2012

sydney food adventures!
hong ha, bourke st bakery, kura kura, n2 extreme gelato and niji sushi bar

I'm back in Melbourne!

And I'm loving it... except I do miss my interstate adventures in Sydney and Canberra, and that glorious, glorious holiday feeling where work and responsibilities are so, so far away. Gosh. That is a wonderful feeling, I'll tell you that.

Oh, well. At least I can try to re-live my time away with this post, right? And it has the bonus effect of fulfilling my blogging duties as well. Yes!

I'll have to somewhat skip the wedding and baby part of the trip, at least in the pictorial sense, because all those photos are in Simon's camera, though they might eventually make their way to this blog. But I can tell you that the wedding in Sydney was fantastic - the bride and groom both looked incredibly gorgeous and blissful AND they even did a thrilling Gangnam Style performance with their friends! By the end of the night, young and old were kicking up their heels on the dance floor. The celebratory mood was infectious. Also, my sister's baby? CUTE. And definitely a handful. It was lovely to catch up with my sister again and see the baby for the first time. Are we all grown up now or what! I didn't end up entertaining myself much with food during my short time in Canberra, but hey, there'll be a next time, for sure.

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Now, back to those food adventures.

After all the wedding stuff, Simon and I chilled out the next day with friends. For brunch, we met up with my friend Em, and we went to Hong Ha for takeaway Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi). There is quite a bit of hype surrounding this place, particularly their chilli chicken rolls, so that was what I got.

the famous chilli chicken roll from Hong Ha, Mascot.

The buns here are pretty great - the exterior is delightfully crisp, then descends easily into an equally delightful fluffiness. The fillings tasted fresh, savoury, and yes, spicy when you bite into those chillies. I was happy with my choice. Simon and Em went the pork route, which, according to Simon, was alright, though not remarkable. Overall, even if they may possibly be a tiny bit overrated, for an easy $5, I find the rolls here to be splendid value for money.

Hong Ha on Urbanspoon

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After enjoying our brunch in the park, we walked to the nearby Bourke St Bakery in Alexandria. I've heard so much about Bourke St Bakery and was truly looking forward to it. Em, who is no stranger to their offerings, got her favourite, the chocolate tart, while the ginger brûlée tart caught my eye.

ginger brûlée tart from Bourke St Bakery, Alexandria.

I thoroughly enjoyed my tart. The dense yet flaky pastry somehow felt simultaneously wholesome and sinful. The custard was smooth and sensual, with beautiful caramelisation on top. I washed it down with a refreshing house-made lemonade, and wished I could fit in more of those scrumptious-looking bakery goodies.

Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Satiated with sugary joy, we parted ways with Em after she kindly gave us a lift into the city centre. We wandered around a bit, and as evening fell we met up with Simon's friends from his university days at Kura Kura for a cheap and cheerful Japanese dinner. My aburi sushi was okay; it did the job but didn't really excite my taste buds. I snuck a bite of Simon's dish - hearty, succulent pork belly and spinach on rice - and preferred his choice to mine. Either way, the food here may not be groundbreaking but at prices of around the $10 mark for most dishes, it's good and satisfying.

pork and spinach on rice at Kura Kura Japanese Casual Dining, Chinatown.

Kura Kura Japanese Casual Dining on Urbanspoon

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For dessert, we ventured to N2 Extreme Gelato for what is basically made-to-order gelati conjured up on the spot with the help of liquid nitrogen. This is something you'd want to approach with caution, particularly with some recent news of a cocktail mishap in England, but N2 assures that they have strict safety procedures and the liquid nitrogen is fully evaporised before they serve their icy treats. I've got to say, it does look cool, both literally and figuratively speaking.

where the magic happens... at N2 Extreme Gelato, Chinatown.

N2 is big on quality ingredients and gleeful flavour experimentation. That night, I opted for Confused Cereal, which is inspired and approved by the well-known Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar. It's creamy, dense and filling - a cute twist on a favourite childhood breakfast, perhaps a tad on the sweeter side for me but might be just right for others. Simon had the sleek and sophisticated guava sorbet with mint, which tasted super fresh and fruity, if not quite minty enough. The other flavours such as the banana and peanut crumble, the miso caramel with peanuts, and the sour cream chocolate, etc., all sounded extremely intriguing but sadly I could not make room for more.

my confused cereal ice cream and simon's guava sorbet from N2 Extreme Gelato.

N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

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My last day in Sydney was shaping up to be an uneventful one. But then one of my cousins, Daniel, offered to take me out for dinner. Simon and one of my aunts (who flew all the way over from Malaysia for said wedding) was invited too. Hurrah! He suggested a new-ish Japanese restaurant in Kingsford, Niji Sushi Bar.

Daniel and my aunt both went for chicken teriyaki, which was simple but very nicely done. Simon and I weren't too hungry so we ordered just a couple of small dishes to share. The maguro taru taru - diced tuna and avocado with chilli paste, onion tate, black caviar roe, barley miso dressing, and lotus root chips - was excellent. The sweet heat of the chilli jam against the cool, dewy tuna, the crunchy chips, and the dressing that pulled everything together... loved it. The grilled wagyu beef with amayaki sauce, however, took ages to arrive, and when it finally did, it was a little disappointing. It lacked that luscious fattiness, and was somewhat chewy. I've actually found this to be the case with quite a few of my wagyu steak samplings in Australia now. Simon didn't seem to mind it though.

maguro taru taru at Niji Sushi Bar, Kingsford.

Having waited for so long to receive our final dish, we gave desserts a miss, and just concentrated on finishing up our delicious mocktails instead - mine was a yuzu lassi, made with yoghurt, yuzu juice and yuzu marmalade; Simon's was a concoction of apple, aloe vera, mint, tea syrup and lemon. Both were exquisitely invigorating. Thanks again for everything, Daniel!

mocktails at Niji - yuzu lassi and apple aloe.

Niji Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

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So that's it for my Sydney food highlights! It's a longer post than usual, but I hope you enjoyed reading it from the beginning till the end. I'll be back again soon, most likely, with a recipe!

31 comments:

  1. So impressed witht he amount of joyous eating you managed to pack into your Sydney trip!

    Is Hong Ha the Sydney equivalent of Nhu Lan? I'm keen on trying. :) Also found the Liquid Nitrogen gelato pretty interesting, I bet the texture's really smooth considering it's made in seconds...?

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    1. Yes, the eating was certainly joyous! ;D

      I'm actually quite new to the banh mi scene so haven't tried Nhu Lan, but I should check it out. Hong Ha is pretty popular, we arrived about noon on a Sunday and there was a bit of a queue (but it moved fast, though). I first heard of them when some people were raving about their chilli chicken rolls in the comments section of an online newspaper article... haha.

      The gelati was really smooth. Simon commented on how creamy it was, even though he got a sorbet.

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  2. Seems like you had lots of fun eating in Sydney!

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  3. Miso caramel with peanuts! Oh, I want! Did you get to have any fun, quality eating experiences in Canberra?

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    1. We ate fairly simply in Canberra, had a couple of cheap lunches and had home-cooked dinners at my sister's place. Next time we'll try some nicer restaurants! I should've asked you for recommendations!

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  4. OMG OMG OMG :) i'm going to Sydney tomorrow ~ so this is an amazing post thank you for posting so quickly! You went to quite a few places that I want to visit :) N2 gelato!!!

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    1. Ooh have fun in Sydney! I hope this post helps!

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  5. I haven't been to Sydney in over 2 years but now I'm itching to go!!

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  6. oh wow. it's afternoon tea time right now, and i could INHALE that chilli chicken roll right now i'm so hungry. i'm craving that crusty bread!!

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    1. Yep - that was a scrumptious chilli chicken roll!

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  7. Hehe we have Hong Ha for lunch once a week. I work in Botany so it's a 5 min drive. OMG I can't believe I didn't know about the extreme gelato place. That looks incredible!

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    1. Lucky you - I'd love to have a lunch spot like Hong Ha close to my workplace! And I found out about N2 while doing research on Urbanspoon, hehe.

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    2. I have put it on my 'to go' list for this month :)

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  8. :) Sydney is awesome! But I can't wait to try all the great places in Melbourne! Oh man, I'm lovin' all these Melbourne foodblogs at the moment, and I'm glad to have stumbled upon yours :) I'm glad you liked the places you got to try in Sydney. I have yet to try N2, but I have defs been back to Bourke St. I'm planning to buy their 368pp ebook full of all their classic pastries :)

    Hope you come down to Sydney and enjoy more soon!

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    1. Aw thanks, Tina! I've been to Sydney a few times but previously, I just went wherever others took me - this was the first time I've really explored it to my heart's content. Fun! :D

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  9. holy moly that is one perfect brulee!

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  10. What a great great great roundup of all the yummy food you guys had during your trip. You guys really packed in a lot of good stuff in a short amount of time, huh. Good eating effort, all! I really enjoy my trips to Sydney, getting to try many exciting places. But it normally doesn't take long for me to feel like wanting to head back again after seeing more awesome eateries like these in Sydney. Yum!

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    1. Thanks! There could probably have been even more, as we were there a few days, but we like to just chill out every now and then too. ;)

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  11. The Extreme Gelato looks amazing! I would love to go concocting a flavour or two. All the food does look gorgeous! I do like a good eating holiday ;) I have to visit the Bourke Street Bakery, I love a Brûlée Tart and that one looked lush!

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    1. The gelato place even accepts flavour suggestions through their website, I'd totally suggest something if I lived in Sydney. And Bourke St Bakery is definitely worth visiting if you're in Sydney!

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  12. Hot damn, I don't know what I like the look of more.... the beautiful brûléed tart, or the crazy mad science gelato place! I would clearly choose both:)

    So glad you got to enjoy a peaceful, and filling, holiday. Yeehaw!

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    1. Yes, why not both! And ahhh yes... I love holidays so so much.

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  13. I think I would have also chosen that ginger brulee tart - how interesting, and of course it sounds delicious. I've also heard so much about Bourke St Bakery... maybe I need to pencil that in for our next Sydney trip!

    Also.. extreme gelato? I love that. Sounds like a wonderful trip you had, and that you're happy and invigorated after a bit of a break. Also... HAPPY AUNTIEHOOD! It's such a joy, being an aunt :) hope you love it as much as I do. One piece of advice? Visit them often (it's a luxury I wish I had, as mine live in Holland). They grow up SO fast.

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    1. It was a very nice tart. I wanted to try other things too, but they'll have to wait till my next Sydney trip.

      Thank you! Yes, thankfully Canberra isn't too far. :D

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  14. Ohmagosh... you should post a warning. View only on full stomach! I'm positively salivating.

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    1. Indeed! It's all quite enticing, isn't it? ;)

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  15. Bourke St Bakery! N2 Extreme Gelato!!! Oh my oh my oh my!

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