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You're looking Berry fine today - Berry Day Trip, Part 1
Friday, 9 January 2015 13:30
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Rvr and I see each other pretty much never, but it makes it that much more special when we do. After covering many areas in Sydney, we (aka I) decided that we should do a day trip out to a cutesy country town. I thought of Berry in an instance simply because... donuts/doughnuts(!!!). Yes, the famous Berry Doughnut Van - it just had to be done. Of course, Rvr had no idea what it was (such unawareness, it hurts) but he's slowly learning... 

Never have I ever driven anywhere remotely past Campbeltown and I was surprised to be met with lush green meadows and cows grazing on grass; not at all like the tumbleweed deserts I'd imagine. Plus, the drive was quite fun on the freeway as it meant that I got to go super fast and pretend I was a race car driver. After two hours or so, a string of songs on repeat (we couldn't put on any Taytay *sad*), and accidentally packing SPARKLING water instead of still (yes, I had a cry about this), we finally arrived at Berry. 

After thorough research on where to have brunch in Berry, we/I decided on South on Albany for its simple and fresh menu. Most, if not all, the ingredients are sourced locally and are organic etc. The restaurant was just off Queen Street on the corner of Albany (ha!). 


For fear of looking like a tourist (being Asian really doesn't help my stereotype), I didn't get as many photos as I liked now that I look back on it. The staff were so kind and friendly though and made us feel very welcomed. A beautiful sunny winter (yes, this was some time ago) day meant outdoor seating with the added bonus of throw overs and outdoor heaters. The menu worked with entrees on the left, salads and shares in the middle, and mains on the right. We had a full day of eating ahead of us so I had to be sure not to over order like usual. The menu is ever changing as they use seasonal ingredients, so it's always something fresh and exciting.

Rhubarb, mint and ginger cordial $4

Wtf, this drink was only $4?! When's the last time anyone got a drink for $4 in Sydney cafes? The rhubarb had a sweet subtle flavour and there was a zing of ginger aftertaste. Didn't realise it would be sparkling but that suited flavours of this drink. It was refreshing after a long drive and could see it being popular for the warmer summer days.

Chicken Liver Pate and Pear Chutney on Grilled Sourdough $9

Depending on your attitudes towards liver, the sound of pate can either delight you or disgust you. But I wouldn't order it if I hated it ^_^. The presentation looked a bit off-putting with the squiggles and it lacked that heavy liver taste that I love. The sourdough also took more effort than necessary to bite and the watercress(?) did not add to anything. Not to say it wasn't a tasty dish, the addition of the sweet pear chutney worked well with the pate, but the dish is not something I'd order again.

Soy and Mirin Infused Ocean Trout, Avocado, Picked Daikon, Radish, Eik Leaf, Fennel Dressing and Dashi $16

The presentation of this dish is so beautiful; the bright orange trout, hint of red radish, different shades of green and tinge of purple dancing on the plate. The Japanese-inspired flavours were surprising but def the good kind. The dressing was light and citrus-y and worked wonderfully with all the different textures. 

Fish of the day: Blue Eye Fillet with Sauteed Savoy Cabbage, Potato, Peas & Green Beans and Jerusalem Artichoke Sauce $35 (MP)

Embarrass to admit it was my first time trying Blue Eye - it's not a very common fish to eat, well at least a common one I would eat. Wonderfully well-season and crispy skin with soft white flesh peeling off. The highlight was that sauce though; sort of sweet and broth-like, pairing wonderfully with the fish that was a bit boring at times. 

After a wonderful meal and start to our day of food adventures, the lovely waitress who served us recommended a couple of places to try for our day out and, of course, Milkwood Bakery was one of them. I'm sure everyone who has been past Berry has gotten a treat from this place, famous for its freshly baked goodies. 




Along with a selection of tantalising tarts and cakes, they also sell organic coffee, fresh juices, sandwiches, bread, and a shelf full jams and preserves made locally. 

Lamb and pine nuts sausage roll $4 

Bourke St Bakery sausage rolls can eat its heart out, we have a new winner. While the pork and fennel will always have a place in my heart, this lamb in simply a whole new game of sausage rolls. The mince meat was intense with flavour with a touch of spice and the pine nuts added some needed texture. The pastry, as expected, was thin and flaky and the size was perfect for a post-lunch snack. We got tomato sauce but didn't even need it cause the flavour was that spot on.

Chocolate croissant $4(?)

I've never been much of a croissant fan, but I can't front that there is something magical about the flaky buttery layers that are soft and pillowy on the inside, but golden with a light crisp on the outside. Especially when they're freshly baked :O Only comment on this is the large chocolate chunk in the centre, where we thought it would be spread out through the layers. Was awkward to eat as it was literally just a ball of chocolate pushed through the middle of the pastry when baked... Hmm.... 

Apple Tart $4(?)

Seriously though, this short crust pastry is my life. MY LIFE. Buttery, crumbly, delicious goodness GET ALL UP IN ME. Slivered almonds and slices of apple in all its tart-y goodness. Perhaps one of the most wonderful and memorable pastries I've had. I will be back for you, my love. 

To think, this is only half of what we ate so far... 

Stay tuned for Part 2. 

South on Albany on Urbanspoon Milkwood Bakery on Urbanspoon

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The Copper Mill, Alexandria
Sunday, 28 December 2014 13:18
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I remember in grade 4, when learning about Ned Kelly and such, we got to go on an excursion to experience Australia's colonial times. Think corporal punishment and ice boxes (pre-refrigerators, eek!). We sat in an 18th century style classroom and were taught about how everyday life, like how children were belted for having dirty fingernails. We also went to a blacksmith where we saw him mould a metal piece into a horseshoe. He even picked me to keep the horseshoe! 

Which leads me to The Copper Mill, which reminded me of copper cups, which reminded me of metal and 18th century, which reminded me about my horseshoe. Once an old fit out for a printing press, Alexandria has again proven to evolve from its industrious past to the new cool, hip and trendy. 



On a Wednesday midmorning, the place was full of happy diners and even had a queue going. A 10 minute wait quickly flew by as Mrs O and I caught up with each other's lives. The brew of coffee filled the air as we taken to our seats. There were so many beautiful and bright coloured dishes, each looking as delicious as the next. 

As we sat, we also gave our drink orders. A soy latte ($4?) for me and a pineapple, watermelon & mint juice ($6) for Mrs O. While I forgot to take a photo of the drinks, the coffee was strong and the juice was refreshing, though the mint flavour wasn't prominent. The food took a while to arrive after but I guess it's worth waiting for something so pretty...


Peruvian Roll - Pork chicharron, sunny side egg, kumera, salsa, criolla and lemon mayo $10 

Yolk Porn :O :O :O 

After reading many good things about this breakfast roll, it was a no brainer what I wanted to order. Roasted slices of pork WITH CRACKLING, a sexy sunny side egg, sweet potato, red onion salad and lemon mayo. The tanginess of the mayo pulled together what would otherwise be a very heavy dish. A great South American flavour, though I didn't really taste the sweet potato; I'm sure it was in there somewhere. Carbs in carbs is totally my thing. 

Granola - Oats, coconut, almonds, cranberries, sunflower seeds, seasonal fruit and yoghurt $12

How can breakfast look pretty? Da-duh! Ah, the bright and inviting colours of summer fruit. Mrs O enjoyed this light meal and it was quite a generous servings as she couldn't finish it. She also asked for extra fruit, usually they only serve with one half of passionfruit and less berries. However, as someone who eats granola on a day to day basis, I would prob never order this dish.


I felt the service needed some perking up. While I wouldn't consider staff to be rude, they were not very attentive and there were no friendly smiles or cheery greetings. After been given our menus, no one came back to take our orders and it was difficult to hail staff. It's a shame as well, as the food is quite decent. 

The Copper Mill on Urbanspoon

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Momofuku Ssäm Bar 2007 at Seiōbo, The Star
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 14:34
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From No Reservations to countless back to back episodes of Munchies, I've come to admire David Chang of the famous Momofuku establishment. Not only for his creativity in fusing western with eastern (Korean) food, but he just seems like an all-round cool guy. Watch this vid and you would want to be bffs with him as well (or at least bfs, even just fs) .

However, being the terrible food blogger that I am, I have yet to make a visit to his Sydney restaurant, Momofuku Seiōbo at The Star. You need friends who really enjoy food (or love fine dining) to blow that much on a meal. Yes, I tried to make a booking once but the online booking system is incredibly annoying. Still, the once restaurant of the year and Three Hat extraordinaire will forever be on my list and one day I will make the 2-week prior booking system my b*tch (or hit up his NYC joints, whichever comes first). For now, I can settle with going back in time to his New York roots at Momofuku's Ssäm Bar 2007.

As part of Good Food Month, Momofuku dropped its bookings policy to go back to a time less complicated - walk-ins and a basic a la carte menu. Of course, the only hack is to get there super early so you don't line up for super long. 


As luck would have it there was a terrible amount of traffic on the way up to the city and we got there 40 mins later than planned. There was already a queue forming but at least it wasn't significantly long. Also, being a party of 2 rather than 5 has its perks as there was a table for us in a short 30 or so mins. 

"Omg, we get to sit and watch all the action happen in the kitchen!! *squeals*" - Open kitchens, esp at established restaurants, make me feel all kinds of warm and fuzzy. 


Literally, how good is this view. 

What I thought was great was that they had hooks under the table for ladies handbags because we all carry expensive LV's that we simply can not put on the ground (shout out to you for your thoughtfulness, Momo). A double sided menu, one for food and one for drinks, was already on the table for us to ogle at when seated. 

Dr Pepper $6 and Zilliken 'Ockfener' Riesling Kabinett Glass $18

Our drinks arrived quickly soon after we ordered. While I will never be a sommelier, I have come to appreciate wine (that time in Italy was well spent). This Riesling was one, if not the only, white they had by glass (for Ssäm Bar) but it was excellent, for lack of a better describing word. Light, dry and not too sweet, ticking all the boxes for me. Vee is more a cocktails person usually but got a Dr Pepper for childhood nostalgia's sake. Sorry if this would offend anyone, but I absolutely hate Dr Pepper; it reminds me of cough syrup *ick*. 

Now for the good stuff. First up... 

Momofuku Pork Buns - Pork belly, hoisin, cucumber, scallions $18 (for two)

THE INFAMOUS MOMOFUKU PORK BUNS *pwoooarrhhh*. I've only dreamt about eating these, so I guess dreams really do come true :'). The portions were a bit smaller than a palm size and I've also read that they are usually $15 for two, which sucks but when will I ever get a table again. 

The small buns could barely hold the fatty goodness of the pork belly, which was oh-so juicy, tender and flavoursome. The buns were warm, soft and held the contents up well. It wasn't till I ate half, aka one bite of it, that I noticed the sriracha sauce. The smear of chilli sauce just topped it off. So many noms, but I did feel underwhelmed by it (maybe my expectations were too high) and Vee commented she enjoyed Ippudo's pork buns more.... 

Tello's chawanmushi w/ black truffle, snails, edamame and scallions $28

After seeing this dish on many tables, I knew I had to order it. It was the last of the truffle season and I had to get in before it goes. Chawanmushi is pretty much steamed egg custard, a dish any Asian growing up would be familiar with. The price tag was a bit steep for such a small serving but it was an exceptional dish (and my fav of the night). Having only tried snails once before I didn't really taste it in this at all, but the custard was silky smooth, even if you're not an egg person like Vee, and the hint of rich truffle is truly decadent. 

Fried brussel sprouts w/ chilies, mint and fish sauce $16

Brussel sprouts isn't a typical Asian vegetable, at least not in my house hold. I wanted a veg dish and Vee loved fried brussel sprouts so it was a win-win. The salty fishy flavour with the bitter sprouts, especially with the char taste, and soft crunch from the rice bubbles makes this a memorable dish. It was a tad too salty though and made us reach for our waters after every few bites. 

Korean rice cakes w/ pork sausage, kale and kimchi $20

As a teen, there were many small pleasures I grew up with. One such was driving to Strathfield for frozen yoghurt and Korean spicy rice cakes. This dish really made me reminisce of those simpler times. Such a simple dish is almost always overlooked but the glutinous rice cakes, spicy pickled kimchi, pork mince and kale (cause we need veg) was simplicity done well. Little to fault except could of done with more pork mince (cause we need meat more). 

Spicy honeycomb tribe $18

The idea of eating cow stomach upsets a lot of people, but those people are boring so don't listen to them. I've grown up eating pretty much any part of an animal that can be eaten, so tripe is child's play to me. If done right, it can be amazinnngggg, like Chang's superb example. Not sure how it was cooked, maybe braised for hours because the flavour and texture was beyond. So soft and tender and full of spicy sweetness. I wish I had some rice to mop all that sauce up. The egg was an added bonus; 65 degree egg (I think) was silky and I felt that the yolk highlighted the flavours more. Very decent priced as well considering the serving.

We were quite full by the end of the meal and un/fortunately Ssäm Bar didn't offer a dessert menu. Luckily Messina was just around the corner and who can say no to that? The staff were kind but casual, the chefs were young and it's a very laid back atmosphere - much like Chang himself. I also got a kick out of watching steak being grilled and sliced and a young sous chef shuckling oysters in front of us - oh, what a treat!

I'm sure their normal trading would be different to our experience. I've read a lot of comments of how the degustation menu is quite disappointing for the price and that the music could get a bit loud, which I experienced towards the second half of the night. I guess something they could improve is toning down the hard rock just a little for more ambience to make people not feel they're just in an extension of the food court. Regardless though, I will always be a fan of Chang and I hope Momofuku brings more to the table for their Sydney establishment.

Momofuku Seiōbo on Urbanspoon

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Shang-hai Chef Kitchen, Parramatta
Friday, 28 November 2014 13:38
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Hello all my sweet little pumpkin tatter tots! Okay, not sure what I said... Maybe I've completely lost it. This time of the year has always been a little chaotic, especially with the holiday season slowly approaching. Ah, too many things to do and not enough time. Who else feels this way?

As some of you may have noticed, I am currently having problems with my domain name. Sigh, too much of a tech n00b unfortunately. However, I am working on it (well, I will get to it) to get it fixed and up and running again soon. But for the time being I am reverting back to blogspot.com - thank you for your patience! 

To drown my sorrows (any excuse to eat), I really wanted some thick toast with kaya butter and a big bowl of laksa. But as luck would have it, Paparich at Parra was closed for renovations or something when we were there. Scurrying around Parra with Urbanspoon, we just settled on this unassuming Chinese restaurant to get our noodle fix. 

Some special Shanghai noodles with pork $9-10?

I wanted to order this dish but Rvr decided first even though he knows I have this thing with ordering different dishes to try different things. This dish took me back to my mornings in China where mum and I would have a small bowl of noodle soup with some sort of pork mince and pickles to start a full day of exploring. The clear broth that had some depths of flavour, but was that much better after a heaping of chilli oil. 

Noodles with Deep Fried Pork Ribs $9?

Unfortunately, in my surge hunger I forgot to take down the the menu item names and prices -_-" The soup was very basic stock but at least didn't taste very MSG-ish. A simple rice noodle with bok choy dish. Of course, it wasn't that peasantry and came with a side of deep fried pork ribs (!!). Crispy, oily, fatty pork ribs - I die. Well seasoned, nice amount of meat and generous serving of ribs, yumyumyum.

Crispy golden deliciousness

Pork and Chive Dumplings $8? (small serving)

Of course, we couldn't have Chinese food without ordering some dumplings. While these were good, they weren't great. The pastry was a tad thick, but the filling was flavoursome. Generous serving for the price and we still stuffed our faces until we food coma and died. 

I've read a couple of reviews that complained about service, however, though the staff were a bit inattentive they were quite welcoming to us. Not sure what people expect for a cheap, no frills restaurant, but I'd happily come back for a noodle fix (yay, no more driving to Ashfield!).

Shanghai Chef Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Oxfam Australia: Eat Local Feed Global
Thursday, 16 October 2014 23:35
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In light of World Food Day I thought now would be more appropriate than any other discuss issues that that are the core of What Em Did. Once in a while, I am given the opportunity to give back to the community and raise awareness on causes that I truly believe in. 

I had the pleasure to be invited to Oxfam Australia's Fast Food event, a series of 5 minute fast-talks from 8 people within the industry that are using their passions for food to create social change. The speakers come from a variety of backgrounds and angles to showcase the endless possibilities available for us to contribute to ending hunger and creating a more sustainable food system. 

The event was sponsored by misschu and Mountain Goat Beer, meaning there was a constant flow of beers and rice paper rolls while we talk about these ever-present worldly issues. Both companies have their own ethics and morals on sustainability, like Mountain Goat's plan on how to reduce the environmental impact of a microbrewery. Misschu also has a side project called OPEN FIELD where all money raised is donated to women in developing countries, where you could not only change her life but the lives of everyone around her.


Mountain Goat Hightail Ale and Two Step Cider

Tiger Prawn and Green Mango Rice Paper Roll (?)

Peking Duck Pancakes

Lemongrass(?) Beef Skewers 

Vegan Sauteed Shitake, Enoki and Shimeji Mushroom Vermicelli Salad 

Organisers from Oxfam

Miss Chu (She's so tiny!)

The speakers for the night included Nahji Chu (Founder misschu), Alex Elliott-Howery (Cornersmith), Tom Kime (Fish & Co), Brett Jordan (The Bread and Butter Project), Mindy Woods (Cook and Blogger), Bonnie Flohr (Returned Australian Volunteer), Andrew McGregor (Macquarie University) and Alana Mann (University of Sydney). 

All the speakers had a unique story to tell in how we could contribute in improving the sustainability of food. This is not just about poverty and starvation but also about food wastage, reducing carbon footprint, recycling and so on. It is the reason why Cornersmith is so popular and why I love places that use eco-friendly packaging.

1 in 8 people go hungry. So this October, share lunch or dinner with your friends and family to help raise awareness about why people are going hungry and donate to Oxfam's life-changing work. REGISTER NOW for Eat Local Feed Global and Oxfam will send you a pack with everything you need to make your meal successful.

Miss Chu on Urbanspoon Cornersmith on Urbanspoon Fish & Co on Urbanspoon

**What Em Did was invited as a guest with thanks to Simone from Oxfam Australia. All words are of my own. 

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Ippudo, Broadway (Central Park)
Wednesday, 1 October 2014 16:24
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It is no secret I have a deep, fond, and probably disturbing love for ramen.  But I mean, who wouldn't want to bathe in a pool of delicious tonkotsu soup? While Jiro dreams of sushi, I dream of ramen; probably a good indication of my ramen withdrawals. That's why I was beyond excited when I was invited to Ippudo's soft opening at their new Central Park, Broadway location. Having previously visited their flagship Westfield CBD store, I was keen to see what their second store had on offer.

IRASSHAMIASE

A friendly and familiar greeting when walking into any Japanese restaurant. Our waiter seated us and went through some of the differences in the menu like the Central Park store not offering a la carte items, as dishes and entrees on the new menu are to only accompany the ramen. There's also additional dishes that aren't available in the flagship store such as Fish and Chips Japanese Style ($14) that's made with salmon and has a deep fried soft boiled egg (!!!) and Japanese Potato Salad ($10). Check out Mademoiselle Mange à Sydney for her review and eye watering photos on these dishes.  

In addition, they have a new Shiromaru Base ($10) that especially caters for students around the area. It features Ippudo's original tonkotsu broth, the Shiromaru base, and its springy noodles served only with spring onions. There's of course always the option for kae-dama for those who are extra hungry.




The interior is pretty much uniform to their Westfield (and international) stores. Bright, clean, and modern with a ethnic twist. Their inspiration of wood, red and white flows throughout the store. I particularly enjoyed the main feature wall background with what has to be a thousand spoons hanging on it. 




Home-made Lemon Lime Bitters $5

We started with their home-made lemon lime bitters, a delicious and refreshing concoction that is sure to be a hit now that Summer is here. 

Seared Salmon Sushi $13

Unfortunately they didn't have any of the infamous pork buns available today so we chose the seared salmon sushi (as did everyone else around the room it seemed). Bite-sized temari salmon sushis served with mentai mayo sauce and avocado. An Ippudo recomendation and classic that is also found at their flagship store. DDN commented the rice was a bit hard, but the teriyaki like sauce helped with that. The mentai mayo (like seared mayo) made the dish and without it it would be nothing. I found it interesting that it was on the "Rice" section of the menu rather than with the entrees or sides. 

Akamaru Special $24

By far, the Akamaru Shinaji ramen has always been a favourite of mine and DDN agreed without hesitation. This is Ippudo's original tonkotsu broth enhanced with special blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil, served with pork belly, black mushrooms and shallots. The ball is the special miso paste and you can mix it into the broth to your liking. All the specials comes with a side plate of extra toppings as well, or you can choose the normal ramen and add single additional toppings. Ordering a side plate of special toppings $8, so works out to be the same. DDN, a pro ramen eater just like me, cleaned the bowl except perhaps the last few drops of soup. 

Miso Tonkotsu Special $25

Having always ordering the Akamaru, I decided to try the Miso Tonkotsu Special since it wasn't available at their flagship store. Ippudo's signature creany pork broth is specially flavoured with various miso then topped with pork bell chashu, menma (bamboo shoots), shallots, corn kernels, bean sprouts, and is served with an extra plate of toppings. The broth is intense, rich, full of flavour and much thicker than their usual tonkotsu broth (but no way near as thick as Gumshara). The miso made it a tad too salty for me, still that didn't stop me from drinking its entire contents. 

DDN and I both asked for the noodles to be medium but found it a bit too soft today for our liking. The noodles are still excellent in texture, springy and chewy, but most importantly, slurp-able. 

Side plate of additional condiments: flavoured egg, simmered pork belly, roasted seaweed, flavoured black mushroom, menma and spring onions

Needless to say I had to be rolled out of the store, but if the dessert options were available I would prob have enough stomach space for that. 

Many thanks to Sana and the team from SD Marketing for the opportunity to dine at the new Ippudo Central Park. The store officially opens on October 2nd, and will make a great additional to new Central Park area, catering more for student types. I think the location also makes it easier to travel via car (like how hard is it to park near Wesfields, sers) and I would time and time again come back to eat my weight in ramen and try more of their new menu. If this isn't enough to convince you, maybe this will... Ippudo Sydney Central Park Opening Oct 2


Ippudo Sydney Central Park
Level 1, RB07, 28 Broadway
Chippendale NSW
(next to Coco Cubano)

Opening Date: Thursday, October 2, 2014

**Disclaimer: What Em Did dined as a guest at Ippudo Central Park. All opinion and photographs are of my own.

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