Friday, 23 January 2015

Getting a taste of Ramen - Ippudo @ Westfield Sydney

When it comes to Ramen I’m sitting on the fence. I’m not a lover nor am not a hater. Maybe I can be described as more of a liker of the famous Japanese noodle soup. I just don’t understand the love affair that others have. The addiction that leaves devotees eyes rolling into the back of their heads just at the mere thought of a bowl of this noodle soup. I’ve tasted it many times to try and understand it. I always come away saying 'meh', 'it's okay' or it's comforting and warm and nourishing......but I don’t 'get it'. The hype of it that is. Saying that I could eat Vietnamese pho until my eyeballs were swimming.

A while back things changed slightly. On my first visit to Ippudo I remember feeling a little bit ‘nervous’ – was I going to enjoy this? Was I just going to come away with the ‘meh’ factor again?

So I had a bowl of the Karaka men. It’s a spicy miso tonkotsu (meaning pork bone broth) ramen and it was good. Very good. The broth was layered with flavours and the noodles were perfectly medium cooked. A little bit of spring left in the noodle. I also indulged in the gyoza, which were very tasty and had a good porky filling.

.....and I finally starting to understand what the hype was about. Okay, so it didn’t convert me but it definitely persuaded me that there was more to this bowl of soup than I first thought and it is worth investigating.

This week, I was lucky to win a $40 voucher for Ippudo Sydney from the Matsuri competition that was recently run through Washoku Lovers. I couldn’t wait to head back to discover more ramen delights.

Dining with a friend we decide to share a few dishes. We go with the Karaka men again (which I only realised afterwards that it was the same as my previous visit).  The steaming bowl arrives with a good spoonful of the spicy miso and ground pork on top scattered with shallots and peanuts. There are two slices of roast pork that are tasty with a small slither of gelatinous fat through the middle. Our noodles are medium that still have a bit of chew to them. I like the texture of medium cooked noodles.

A plate of mixed steamed buns (one of each on offer), which comprise of a braised pork, a deep fried shrimp and a chicken steamed bun all with the special sauce. The steamed buns are soft and chewy in texture and wrapped around a good amount of filling. I couldn’t say that I had a favourite, they all tasted good in their on protein based way.

Lastly we have the seared salmon temari sushi – which is ball shaped sushi, with seared salmon wrapped around it.  It also has mentai mayo sauce and avocado. Mentai is cod roe.

These pop straight into the mouth (albeit a full one) and leave me wanting more.

Ippudo seems to be buzzing at any time of the day and I’m starting to realise why. Have I boarded the ramen train late….I don’t think so…I am definitely starting to enjoy it more and more… much so that I have booked in a lunch for next week!

Hold that last's only been 3 days and a friend has discovered they do a vegetarian ramen, so I find myself back there today.  I'm not feeling like a big bowl of ramen so I opt for something completely different.

I go with the gyoza, which is served with a yuzu flavoured paste.  Crispy bottoms and light wrappers make for a good bite. 
I also go with the tofu and spicy pork hotpot which came to the table bubbling in a mini cauldron!

It was delicious!

My friend loved her Shojin ramen...and yes we will both be back next week...for realz!

Ippudo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Izakaya Yebisu @ Regent Place

A while back I dined at Izakaya Yebisu with a couple of friends for a catch up. Tucked away inside Regent Place on George St, Izakaya Yebisu is an authentic style place and am charmed.  Never having been to Japan yet, I can only imagine what authentic places will be like.

The menu is extensive and we find that it's crowded and not so reader friendly.  We are a little overwhelmed with options and choices.
So we start with edamame to nibble on while we wait for drinks. 

There is an extensive list of mocktails and cocktails.  I cannot remember which one I had but I do remember it was very light on the alcohol.

The sashimi bowl  is a good serve of salmon, tuna and kingfish atop a bowl of ice.  The dollops of wasabi.  It's so pretty.

the Gyoza comes to the table on a hotplate and is steaming with heat.  Light wrapper around pork mince filling and good crispy bottoms.

We go with chicken yakitori and I throw in a skewer of BBQ 'parson's noses' - the girls screw up their noses...the bum is the best bit!  Unfortunately this was a let down.  No crispy but soggy and undercooked and I screw my nose up myself!

Tempura can be a hit and miss and most places.  It's either fantastically crunchy and crispy but more often than not, it's soggy and hard.  This was sort of in between.  Some pieces like the sweet potato were good, the pumpkin however was hard with soggy batter. Go figure? 

The chicken karaage is a hit. Hot and crispy morsels of chicken.

We end with a pork rice bowl.  The pork has a lovely sweet, smokey sauce coating it and several pieces of a char on it.  Lovely little dish.

Overall, Izakaya Yebisu is a fun place for a meal and a good vibe place for a good girlie catch up!

Yebisu Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Los Vida @ Westfields Sydney

Mexico sits high on the travel bucket list and I hope to travel there soon. Amongst many reasons, I have always loved Mexican food and the more I read about the regional specialities and delve into more traditional cuisine the more I want to go.  Mexican food is not all about burritos, enchiladas, nachos and cheese laden dishes or the odd margarita. That’s more Tex-Mex and holds it’s own up North  but in fact, true Mexican cuisine is extensive and regional and includes fresh, zesty, healthy salads, fruits and vegetables, long, slow braised meats and dishes with deeply flavoured layered sauces, chilli’s and fluffy tortillas.  It’s diverse and cultural and has kept its roots from the Aztecs and Spain, along with a few other cultures thrown in to the mix over the years.


So today, I just came back from a fabulous lunch with the girls.  We road tested a new restaurant that has recently opened on Level 6 of Westfields Sydney.  Los Vida (which means The Life in Spanish) is offering traditional, fresh, tasty Mexican food and at very reasonable prices and a sit down restaurant in Westfields. Perfect!

Our server is welcoming and friendly and we are seated in a booth outside the restaurant (inside Westfields) for a quick one hour lunch catch up.  We arrive at noon, so it’s not busy yet (but once word gets out I think it’s going to get busier).  We are positively drooling over the menu.  As there is so many dishes we want to taste, we decline one of my greatest loves, guacamole and corn chips, as a starter, but I do note it for next time. The list of tacos look enticing and we choose one each, with the idea of cutting each into three to taste each one.  On arrival we realise that would be messy and we just eat the one we chose. 


I go with the Pork Taco – filled with pibil braised pork, caramelised pineapple, habanero & radish with pickled onion.  Anything ‘porky’ will always grab my attention but add caramelised pineapple and I’m sold!  I opted for the corn tortilla and this was a perfect wrap to go with the pork and pineapple.
The other two tacos are the Beef Taco with chipotle adobo, sesame oil, coriander, chives, red onion, lemon juice, guacamole and poblano chilli w sesame seeds and the Fish Taco with beer battered barramundi, zesty lime, cabbage slaw and 3 style jalapenos w chipotle mayo.  I nibbled on an escaped deep fried crispy jalapeno from the fish taco and it was delicious. Note that you can order a taco sampler for $30 (which includes 7 tacos). 

We do end of up sharing the rest of the meal. Next up we dig into a big bowl of Ancient Grain Salad with quinoa, broccoli, kale, butternut pumpkin, corn kernels, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, parsley, jalapenos and pomegranates with a Tequila dressing. This salad was so fresh and tasty and nourishing.  I was expecting the Tequila dressing to have more of a boozy zing to it, rather this was smooth and delicate and I wasn’t disappointed.  Really lovely salad.


It’s the Beef Ribs that grab my attention.  Two large meaty ribs, doused in a chipotle glaze (and very saucy) topped with radish, spanish onion and pickled habanero.  The flesh is fork tender and literally fell off the bones as we cut through it.  The sauce has a hint of heat.  I would highly recommend this dish.


For sides we go with the Farmers Grilled Corn, sprinkled with queso fresco, lime, chipotle crema and butter and coriander.  However, it’s the Patatas Bravas side dish that stops me in my tracks.  Crispy cubes of potato AND sweet potato covered in brava sauce and garlic aioli with chives.  Oh my this is a comforting dish and I take a moment to relish it.

Apart from always enjoying lunching with my friends and catching up with them, I really enjoyed Los Vida and the delicious food on their menu.

No room (nor time) to go with a  dessert….we sit back, bellies full and feeling satisfied and we all have little grins knowing that we will be back again for seconds!

Mucho Love!

Los Vida on Urbanspoon

Monday, 12 January 2015

Redskin Fudge

2015 has started off just how my 2014 ended. Quiet, low key and taking some time out for a much needed rest. Not exactly how I planned to spend my holidays, but it was taken out of my hands.
Unfortunately I've been using this time to recover from a nasty fall down some stairs just before Christmas. Knees, back and neck injuries... Time, resting and recouping and lots of physio has helped and slowly getting back on my feet so to speak. I'm back at work and taking each day as it comes. Definitely getting there. Thanks to everyone for the kind messages and thoughts.
So to kick start the blog for the year I was enthused enough to get into the kitchen this weekend for a little bit.  
This recipe for slow cooker redskin fudge is doing the rounds on Facebook and social media and I was intrigued by it.  Growing up I loved redskins, especially if they are hard.  Remember they sometimes were chewy and gooey and sometimes they were hard and snapped......

I do not know the origins of the recipe and its freely available if you google it.  My head was at war as to whether to make it or year's resolutions and all....*sigh*... but the good thing is I can take it to work and fob it off to others!! hahaha
2 x blocks Cadbury Dream (I used Cadbury white cooking chocolate as its nearly, if not, the same)
1 x tin condensed milk
1 x bag of redskins
1 tsp of vanilla essence (I used extract)
Throw all into a slow cooker and cook on high for one hour.
Stir half way through and at end to blend ingredients together.
Pour into a baking paper lined deep baking tray.
Let cool.
Refrigerate until set.
Cut into bite size pieces.
This turned out to be super sweet and very rich. As a non sweet tooth eater I found it too much however my sugar loving niece loved it!