eats, Food, restaurant, sydney

MASTER Restaurant

Breaking down perceived conceptions about dining, Master is a Chinese restaurant. Watch the video on their website, breaking down the walls and they are breaking dining ideals in the restaurant. It is a clean grungy space with magnificent food and wine, hip urban beats jam the airwaves, spice and flavour run rampant. The menu is made from many small share dishes. Many restaurant do this now, just like the original neighbourhood Chinese restaurant. The menu at Master has traditional elements but is serving modern Chinese food.

Beef Tendons

Beef Tendons

Puffed Beef Tendon with Haidai Salt is a light crispy number. A fun play on the most old school Chinese restaurant snack, the prawn cracker. Chicken skewers loaded with flavour and covered in nuts is a simple and delicious starter. Scallops silks confused us to what they actually are, perhaps noodles made from scallop somehow, with XO, light and refreshing, a perfect vehicle to get saliva moving.

Scallop silks

Scallop silks

When you see Noma, Quay and Momofuku Seiobo on a resume of chef John Javier expectations run ripe. I did not know any of this of course, I’d seen photos of the food from Master on social media and managed to score a table before the word gets out in a big way. IMG_8296 I anticipate it will be much harder to get a table soon. I love Instagram for finding hot new restaurants, just follow the right people.

Eggplants that is fried crisp, sweet and salty, this is not a brand new sensation, it is just delicious.

Eggplant

Eggplant

Spicy crumbed sweetbreads pack some heat. Deep fry is a great way to cook these little nuggets, they arrive on a plate loaded with chilli. Luckily, we were warned about the license restriction after 10pm and quickly ordered more wine,

Sweetbreads

Sweetbreads

I wonder if legislation will extend to amount of chilli served on a plate soon! If Sydney wants to truly be a considered an international city this legislation must stop and restaurants need to be prepared to stay open later. Too many times I’ve been turned away from a restaurant after 10 pm leaving me only with fast food options.

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Buttery cabbage

The buttery burnt cabbage is gloriously rich. It is charred black on the outside with fish butter, the soft juicy cabbage takes some slurping when eaten. We then had smoked pork jowl with Peking pancakes. All tradition is abandoned as the pancake is large, texture as if the love child of naan and roti. The jowl with a section of fat that keeps the meat gloriously juicy, delicious smoky strips of pork and it is fun eating with your hands.

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Pancakes

And you’ll need those hands if you tackle the crab. It was spanner crab on our visit, I have also seen images of mud crab from Master’s Instagram account. So much moist sweet crab flesh dripping in sauce which we devoured in an instant. What Chinese feast would be complete without a festival of crustacean and this was the Burning Man of a Chinese meal.

Spanner Crab

Spanner Crab

The deserts are divine. The potato flour dust on the deep fried ice cream is light and sweet, the shell to the ice cream firm and crisp. Immaculate. This is the best version of this dish I have ever tasted. Deep fried ice cream is the most famous Chinese desert in Australia and done here nothing like my childhood memories. Congee, pear and coriander is the other dessert, the bright green is spectacular. My body tries to deny me carbs this late at night but the fresh flavours here won the fight. I could eat this for breakfast any day.

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Congee

There is still so much left on the menu for me to try and I will be back, I’d just better be quick, before word gets out and I can’t get in.

Deep Fried Ice Cream

Deep Fried Ice Cream

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Spice I Am

SPICE I AM

Ok, lets get this straight, I love this joint. The food is great, its economical and it is easy for me to get to to. What more do you want? I love the authenticity and originality of the food. Food this good, at their prices, is a bargain. They also serve great seafood and unique specials if you want to try truly delicious food.

Fish Balls

Fish Balls

I started frequenting Spice I Am years ago when I worked in the city. They have a lunch special for $10.50. After exhausting all the specials I’d try to drag who ever I could with me so we could order more food and try more dishes. Now it’s where I meet my mum for lunch ever few weeks. One of my favourite dishes is not even on the menu, is a Tamarind Fish Fillet. The fish is deep fried in an uber light batter, the sauce and fresh herbs are added and it is served over Asian greens with sweet sticky onions.

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Secret Dish, Tamarind Fish Fillet

This joint has a reputation for its Chilly Pork Belly, caramelized cubes of spicy sweet crunchy chewing bites of delight, each chewy morsel in sticky sweet spicy sauce just makes you want another until, they are all gone. There are many old favourites here , like their Green Chicken Curry. This is what got me hooked to the place. The sauce is rich spicy and creamy but the major draw, for me, is the Thai vegetables and the cube of pork blood jelly. Having those veg in my curry took me staright back to the streets of Bangkok, the blood cube I’ve not seen before, or elsewhere, adds another element and brings balance to the curry sauce. This authenticity makes Spice I Am spectacular in a city filled with Thai restaurants. But don’t get stuck on the old favourites here.

Prawn Chu Chee

Prawn Chu Chee

When something is so good it becomes hard to try other dishes and here you must. Another sensation is the Prawn Chu Chee curry. Again the seafood is fried in that alluring batter with spicy curry sauce added over the top. The batter and prawns absorb the sauce and form a harmonious team with the sweet prawn flesh. There is also several prawn/seafood salad

Seafood Salad

Seafood Salad

combinations. The joy of the salads here is the joining of fresh cooked protein and the fresh salad and herbs. They have a little seafood vermicelli number which has great texture added by dried prawns that are chewy and roasted peanuts for crunch and a salt hit . My daughters favourite is their Chicken and Papaya salad with coconut milk. A very generous portion of crisp fruit, tangy fresh herbs and sweet milky coconut chicken.

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Chicken Papaya Salad

Some current specials at Spice I Am include Steamed Vegetarian parcels, Duck Massaman Curry, and a Prawn and Banana Leaf Salad. The parcels are fresh light and scrumptious. The Duck is divine and rich, it has a little dried Kaffir Lime leaf garnish that brings texture and

Vegetarian dumplings

Vegetarian dumplings

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Duck Massaman

flavor. The salad looks amazing with prawns, banana leaf , nuts and herbs loving each others company as the flavor and texture is sublime. There is also several whole fish options which are great to share.

Although I have not been to Thailand in some time the fresh intensity and flavor of the food reminds me of the food there. Spice I Am’s ingredients are true Thai ingredients and will not be found in 95% of Thai restaurants in Australia. If you are not after the lunch special from 12 -2, take a bottle of wine ( BYO only, bottle shop over the road ) , read the menu thoroughly and have your own mini Thai experience here in the streets of Sydney.

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Sand Whiting

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Snapper

Spice I Am

CASH ONLY

End Note. There are now three Spice I Am’s, check website. They also have House and Surry Hills Eating House restaurants in the Triple Ace Bar.

TIP: not much dessert here but their other restaurant House  50 meters away in the Triple Ace Bar has exceptional desserts.

13.5/20

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Thievery

The 40 thieves run supreme as food rules are broken and gangsta rap jams out the stereo. Throw in Princess Jasmine and three wishes and who knows where you could end up.

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I knew I liked this place, sipping on a natural vino , tapping my Bastuma cigar, Wu Tang Clan jamming, damn I felt gangsta. I’m so happy another Sydney resto is comfortable playing hip hop. The Bastuma is rolled with cheese, crumbed and fried. Hot beef melty cheese goodness is a great way to start any night out. Cigars all round homies.

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Bastuma Cigar

It is hard when a reputation is forged, expectations run high. The LCF, aka Lebanese Fried Chicken, is exceptional. The spiced batter mix has decent heat hit and a complete lack of grease. Fried to perfection, the chicken is juicy and soft, the batter is light and airy. It’s tender with interesting spice blend and the chilli reminds you life is worth living. One wish down.

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LFC

Kebabs of Sharwarma wagyu and Malek Samke Hare were served next. The beef is spiced and rich, the fish spicy and fresh. Rules are broken here as they come out on mini Lebanese breads looking similar to tacos. The bread is a touch oilier giving a more flexible texture than a tortilla. This translates very well and it is easy to pick up and eat. The beef spice is delicious, rich and deep, a great cut I expect is Skirt, sliced thin with a chewy element that benefits the dish, with fresh herbs and a pickled pepper, oh how I love pickled pepper.  The Snapper kebab is soft and juicy, spiced with a sharp yoghurt sauce and fresh herbs on top. Sharp, spiced, fresh, chewy, so balanced, these 40 thieves are going Indiana Jones on my prized jewels… my tastebuds. Second wish squandered.

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Kebabs

The Falafel are very crispy and have some nice pickle in the kebab, more fresh herbs and a nice lemon juice hit. A hit that would have added to the Fattoush with fried cauliflower. It’s a great salad but a sour acid touch of lemon would balance the sweetish dressing with the fried bread and cauliflower. I love this dish too, this is the only comment I have that is not blowing smoke up under the magic carpet.

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Falafel

Poached pears followed, with sweet labne, passionfruit sauce, toffee crumble and ground nuts. Sweet and slightly sour labne is new to me, paired with pears poached perfectly, passionfruit acidity and contrasting crumble and textural nuts, it’s a lovely combo. You know when you are full but keep eating? This is it. Three wishes gone!

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Fattoush

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Poached Pears

These are more than light fingered pickpockets, they are smooth talkers of the sensors. The room is small but cosy, dim lit but not dark. Nice vino, we had a Si Vitners. Great food, which is what it’s all about. You’ve broken rules you 40 thieves and broken them well, I suppose all you can say is “Gansta Rap Made Me Do It “ and all I can say where is my Princess Jasmine?

Price $46 per head + drinks

Rating 15/20

Thievery

91 Glebe Point Road Glebe NSW 2037

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Five Points Burgers

Five Points, @fivepointsburgers is a fast food burger joint in North Sydney. It shows that a great concept done well can achieve legend status, stat. Another selection of burgers presented by a top chef, Tomislav Martinic, turned short order expert and i’m loving it, F.U. golden arches, you can’t own words!

Five Points has only four burgers, each named after NYC Burroughs, fries and shakes on the menu. Instead of opening next to a busy nightlife hub this joint opens in a business district and only runs business hours. So tough luck if you have a 9-5 not close to North Sydney. Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island have their own burgers. Poor Queens misses out : (

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The Bronx

Manhattan is an old school burger with beef, cheese and buns. Add Bacon, fancy sauces of onion jam and aioli and lettuce for the Bronx. Queens is a chicken burger and Staten Island a vegetarian option. Traditional V modern style burger has been a debate recently with David Chang, Chang’s Burger Manifesto , declaring Australians have no idea about burgers because we throw funky shit ( ie beetroot ) in our burgers. I’m half with you Chang. On my two visits to Five Points i’ve tried the Manhattan and the Bronx. The meat patty is sensational, double American cheese melted and zesty pickles. The bun is perfection, balanced to hold the beef, light but does not disintegrate with juices flowing and sauces. It’s real bacon too, cut a touch thick if there is any gripe at all and the onion jam plus aioli are modern elements in this classic looking burger. It’s probably lucky i’m not close to this joint weekdays as i’m craving another one right now.

I love a classic burger but then lets examine Dan’s famous cheeseburger @hongsta_gram at The Fish Shop. It presents itself as classic, soft bun, meaty, cheesy, pickles and bacon. All classic right? But then he does a miso meltdown with his onion, that’s new! And I believe we Australians were lost for so long, presented burgers with meat patties that contained substance other than meat, maybe cardboard? Adding pickled beetroot brought flavour. You can get both styles at Five Points but there is no beetroot anywhere. Add a huge mushroom, the Staten Island, instead of meat is surely a welcome option for all vego’s out there?

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The Manhattan

I applaud the simplicity of the menu at Five Points. Another burger going wild for the night is Mister Gees Burger Truck, equally as tricky to get to, only running three nights from a parking lot in Haberfield. Mister Gee also adds modern elements to a classic burger such as the Truffe, with havarti cheese and truffle sauce. Simplicity as they only serve one burger style a night. Easy to assume these gourmet inventions hail from a high end chef like Dan Hong or Tomislav Martinic but alas but this legend griller just decided to make burgers one day. Inspired the the guerrilla food truck scene of LA, Gee got a truck and then had to conform to Sydney’s regulation, only being able to sell in certain areas at certain times and decided to stick to one area. Both these establishment are busy and you don’t qualify as a ‘disciple of the burger’ in Sydney if you’ve not tried them. I love your food Dave Chang but if you don’t rate these burgers you are a fool!

Don’t be discouraged by the cues at Five Points, the grill team are well oiled and those burgers pump out quick. I do prefer beer instead of milk, so if i could get a beer i’d be much happier, except i’d probably stay longer due to my food coma, not releasing my seat for the next eager disciple and thus slowing down the burger eating experience.

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THE BURGER GAME HAS CHANGED #sydneyburgerwars

Sydney’s burger scene hits all time highs.

And about time too. No longer is the thin cardboard patty from the milk bar overloaded with flavourless lettuce and tomato acceptable, why do you think beetroot was a hit in Australia? Its pickled and sweet, it has flavour, the humble purple beet saved our taste buds for years , making up for dry compound patties and lacklustre sauce. Who does not love the root?

It is a new burger arena now, too many Aussies have traveled, as we love, and sampled the fast and fantastic world of burgers, we now demand more. In any high end resto in LA , NYC or Paris you could always get a damn fine burger. We ate them, we knew there was more and now we had evidence. Smart players in the food game also knew our hunger.

Chur Burger Double Patty

Chur Burger Double Patty

Chur burger from chef legend Warren Turnbull ,who transformed his high end eatery Ansiette , in to the first Chur Burger , launched the quality burger trend into the mainstream. Big beefy juicy patty, brioche bun, cooked to order in a fast food service set up exploded onto the scene. A great burger, by far better than what was around but other less know burgers held my respect more.

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Dan’s Cheeseburger, The Fish Shop

Dan’s cheeseburger from Lotus      ( now The fish shop ) was my number one. A humble looking specimen, slight doubt at first sight if this burger is capable of merely quashing a mans appetite? The weight and density of the patty, encased in a pillow soft bun, with bacon, American cheese and onions in… got to read his book for that secret, is a master in deception. I think 11 was the record at the burger eating comp in in 2012. That does not sound like much in the Man V food arena but that is a testament to magnitude of this burger.

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The Burger Project, American Cheese, double patty

Rockpool Bar and Grill’s Bar Burger is a sensational burger, house made everything. I love the pickled zucchini . The Steven Segal of Sydney food game, Neil Perry, kicks ass with everything he touches and especially his new flame, The Burger Project. The most legit beef patty between buns since Rocco Siffredi.

Image a UFC bout between Steven Segal and Roy Nelson this is where Mary’s enters the ring, with more tattoos . Another game changer , a blatant USA style burger, meaty, cheesy in a hyper soft steamed bun. They also have a pressure deep fryer, ill go into fried chicken later.

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Mary’s Cheeseburger

                                                                        Before the  burger hype The Stuffed Beaver and Jazz City Diner ( now Jazz city Milk Bar ) were flipping great burgers. The beaver had squirrels and the diner had short order cook owner Dan McGuirt. I love the square patties from the milk bar and the option of chilli smothered on anything you want. Brody Peterson’s The Stuffed Beaver sports bar entranced Bondi, beards and sleeves crew for years feeding locals with great burgers and Poutine . The Anchor and Neighbourhood have entered the beach side hood also offering great burgers with special mention going to the Royal With Cheese at Neighbourhood. New kid on this block Mancellerria also does a great burger and you can also get a takeaway steak to cook at home. If you’re not after takeaway and want more than a soda or milkshake you may want a beer with your burger.

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Jazz City Milk Bar, Square patty with chilli

And pubs have the best beer, like The Grand National , high end house burger ingredients here that my simple pallet loved , the Nash does a $10 special on Mondays. The 4 In Hand , Collin Fasange’s , pub grub burger also wins. These Paddo pubs now have some very stiff competition in the newly opened Cheeky burger. An American style burger with soft bun, plenty of pickle and zesty relish at an everyday $10, plus this joint also sells beer! As does The Henson in Marrickville with plenty of craft beers and good array of interesting burgers too.

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Mister Gees foodtruck, The Truffe, double patty

Excelsior Jones was my best pic in the burbs. Then along came Mister Gees Burger Truck, smashing out one type of burger three nights a week. These guys are getting so much attention you’ll need to get in quick before they sell out, which normally takes about three hours from opening. Mister Gee’s went viral and now masses flock to eat in the carwash carpark when they pop up, last night the crowd was stopping traffic, drivers winding windows asking what was happening.

Excelsior Jones

Excelsior Jones

Another well known spot is Paul’s Famous Burgers in Sylvania. These are a classic Aussie burger done very well, they are good but I think a better grade of ingredients is required if they want to be serious contenders in the Sydney Burger Game.

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Royal With Cheese, Neighbourhood

As the shine of fine dining lost its gloss a new sparkle appeared , approachable food. Foam went flat as wallets became slim, flavour and value suddenly sexy. Our brothers and sisters in the U.S. took an economic beating and their food became more appealing. And the humble hamburger is the epitome of everyday eats, no matter how cashed up you are.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and I apologize if you have a burger I need to try, send me a note and I’ll endeavour to have a sample. New burger joints are popping up weekly and more restos are adding burgers to their menu’s. To try all burgers is a huge task.

Also , to all the serious foodies out there like me, let me know your favourites, I’ll be surprised if we all agree on a top five, I know from my Instagram account the best burger in Sydney is a contentious issue.

Top Five 1. Dan’s Cheeseburger, The Fish Shop 2. The Burger Project 3. Neighbourhood 4. Mister Gee’s 5. Mary’s

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The Stuffed Beaver, Cheeseburger

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