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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. 


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.


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.


Grandma's Little Bakery, Alexandria
Monday, 29 September 2014 13:24
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The industrious area of Alexandria is steadily rising to become the new 'it' spot (guess we have The Grounds to thank?). I was meeting up with Liz for a needed post-exam pre-holiday catch up, however with us living on opposite ends of Sydney we chose a place that was difficult for both of us to get to. 

I arrived a bit earlier and noticed the store section at the back with its huge variety of cooking goods. Everything from homemade jams, spices, pre-made cake mixes, and home wares. My soft spot for home wares was going haywire - of course I needed a pot to put my honey in (it came with a stirrer as well!), I could do with another tea infuser, who wouldn't want squirrel shaped cookie tin - it's just a massive downward spiral... 

Freshly baked goodies - the muffins were only $1!! 

Soy Chai $5

Freshly Squeezed Apple $5.50

Liz had a pineapple juice that was sweet and refreshing. I opted for a warm chai that lacked real any real depth of spices.

Spicy Shakshuka $14.50

Along with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and supper, brunch is definitely my favourite meal of the day. Nothing speaks more brunch to me than baked eggs, like the spicy shakshuka I chose instead of the traditional tomato and capsicum. Two perfectly cooked eggs in Grandma's hot chilli sauce served with Grandma's bread. The fresh bread was thick and fluffy, which made great for mopping up all the sauces and oozing yolks. Not spicy enough for my liking but enjoyable dish.

Traditional Chicken and Vegetable Casserole $12.50

Slow cooked chicken and veg that has been infused with spices, almost curry like, and very homey and comfort style eating. The rice was a tad dry, but the sauce/broth of helped with that. Very generous serving as well. 

Grandma's Italian Ricotta Cheesecake $6.90

I read on the online menu that this was supposed to be serve with some sort of fruit compote, but the cheesecake was perf on its own. Shortbread crumb base and top! Innards were light, fluffy and melt in your mouth. Would of happily had seconds (and thirds...) 

Grandma's Little Bakery brings the concept of homestyle cooking and baking, as if it were our nonnas and papas (if I was Italian). On weekend mornings they have breakfast buffets as well to tie in the whole idea of eating like a family, sharing food and stories while dining together. It caters well for kids as well, which something you don't see too often and offers catering services for parties. While a great little cafe, nothing spectacular, but at least it was easier to find parking.

Grandma's Little Bakery on Urbanspoon


Gumshara, Chinatown and N2 Extreme Gelato, Haymarket
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 19:55
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While Italy is amazing with all the pizza in the world and seemingly unlimited supply of wine, there's nothing more I miss more than home food. When I say home food, I really just mean ramen. It's times like these one can fully appreciate the multitudes of cuisines we are offered i.e. bomb as ramen. I had a chance to finally check out the infamous Gumshara just before I left (yes, I am prob the last foodie in Sydney to try it).

Tucked away in Chinatown's Eating World food court, the centre is bustling with diners this one specially cold winter's night. What better way to warm up than with a big bowl of ramen though, right? Gumshara is specialises in tonkotsu broth made from pork bones that has been cooked for hours to release all its fatty collagen goodness. How many kilos of pork bones? Only about 120kg a day. It is thick, creamy, and rich - not one for the light hearted. Because of all the marrow and collagen that has been released into the soup it is said be extremely good for your skin, keeping it soft and supple (which is prob why Japanese people look so young still when they're about 100). 

Proudly displaying their Sydney Food Bloggers award for Favourite Ramen

There is a sign asks customers to instruct the staff if they prefer less salty or thick soup. Being a massive tonkotsu fan I urge myself to try it in all its glory. How thick is the broth? It is thick

Garlic Tonkotsu Ramen Noodles $11.50 + Egg $1.50

I was in no way prepared for the intensity of it all. It is beautifully sickening. There is so much flavour and depth in the broth, heightened with the black garlic oil and a heaping of fried garlic to give it an extra oomph. The noodles are perfect, not too chewy with a soft spring. Honestly, it was too much for both Rvr and I BUT I am willing to give it another go, perhaps thinner broth next time... 

I needed something to sweeten up my palette and there is always room for dessert, so a stop to the close by N2 Extreme Gelato was in order. Having seen liquid nitrogen used to make desserts before (soooo Bluementhal) it was exciting to actually try it and watch it before my own eyes. 

N2 is easily distinguishable on Dixon St with its crowded masses, gelato 'scientists' in lab coats, and puffs of nitrogen smoke. It is the first of its kind for Australia, now with another store open in Melbourne's Brunswick. 

The flavours change every week or so, and they have some crazy inventions that can't even compare to my beloved Messina. One scoop will cost $6, or $8 for the special items, and there is no prices for 2 scoops because it is not needed. The back wall also displays a list of previous flavours such as duck and red wine, PBJ, and Chambord! 

Baileys Mint Oreo

Rvr is allergic to peanuts unfortunately so we opted to try the Baileys Mint Oreo which was Baileys gelato with mint slice and Oreo cookies crushed throughout! It had a slight alcoholic Irish Creme liqueur taste and was minty with bits of cookie pieces throughout. Very delish and not at all sickening! The service took a while but understandable as they make it all from scratch, and they were super friendly. 

I've read quite a few reviews the constant changing of flavours and customers unable to eat their favourite flavours again, but I think this is N2's selling point and how they differientiate themselves. The wait, especially during nights and weekends, can be quite long but people need to understand that it is made to order and not just scooped out from a container. 

EDIT: Been to N2 Extreme Gelato 3 more time since, and love it every single time! My gelato love will never die ^_^

Gumshara Ramen on Urbanspoon N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon


Four Ate Five, Surry Hills
Saturday, 6 September 2014 17:42
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The cunningly named Four Ate Five (its address is 485 Crown St!) is no stranger to the brunch scene. For years I have seen queues upon queues of people outside this small establishment. There must be some reason for all the buzz, right? It was a beautiful and warm Saturday morning and all were out to play. There were mums with kids, friends and couples, and dogs. Lots and lots of dogs(!!!). The parade of dogs made time pass much quicker during our 15 or so minute wait for a table. 

Not for long (or at least it seemed), we were seated on the long communal table inside by a kind waitress. From here I noticed a diverse mix of customers, from the casual hoodie and t-shirts, to button up wearing men, and your Surry Hills hipsters. I guess it's true, everyone loves brunch.

Mexican Breakfast with added Bacon $19

Mexican bean mix on toast with tomato, avocado, spinach onion salsa, topped with a fried egg (vegetarians can op for crispy tofu). We didn't expect quite a large serving. Getting full from brunch, that's absurd! The fried egg was beautiful (how can fried eggs be this pretty?), but you'd expect nothing less from a cafe in Surry. Lots of flavours and textures, and the perfect decision to add bacon. Deli comments the spices from the bean mix needed a bit more heat, a la Mexican style, but little to fault otherwise. 

He also had a cappuccino ($3.50?), which was single-origin fair trade, of course. Four Ate Five also have their own brew of marsala chai with milk and honey, as well as a range of loose leaf teas and organic soft drinks.

Baked Eggs $17

Moroccan style baked eggs with almonds, organic feta and sourdough. Over the years, Four Ate Five have seem to have perfected their baked eggs recipe. Perhaps they're one of the few places that served baked eggs before it became a "thing"? The swap for creamy feta, instead of the usual labneh, with fragrant tomato sauce and just-set eggs with runny yolk is one you can't argue with. The nutty crunchy almonds def topped it off for me though. 

I also had a fresh watermelon, pear and mint juice ($6.50) that was refreshing and quite a large serving i.e. it wasn't gone in a sip. 

The lunch menu also looks very promising, so it looks like a trip back to Four Ate Five is needed in due time. The service is attentive and friendly, and there's always a great waft of coffee smell walking pass. That, along with their high-quality produce and affair with food is something to come back for.

Special thanks to Deli for showing me some photo composition skills, and bringing his camera out to play! 

Fouratefive on Urbanspoon


Cowbell 808, Surry Hills
Thursday, 28 August 2014 13:27
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Saturdays are for sleeping in. No one should be allowed to wake up at 6am on a Saturday morning. But alas, the things we do for a sale. I was in dire need for some new hipster clothes, so I dragged my sleepy butt out of bed and picked up L10, Shan and DDN on the way to Darlinghurst. By the time we arrived at around 7.30am there was already a queue - how early were these people awake?! After a coffee, two hours of rummaging, and $200 poorer later, we were ready for brunch. Unsure of what was around we turned to our trustworthy Urbanspoon App that lead us to Cowbell 808 in close-by Surry Hills. 

I learned that the name Cowbell 808 came from Roland TR-808 drum machine with the cowbell being one of the sounds it made. The music theme is evident throughout the entire cafe with a super cool graffiti image of a drum machine, posters of of everyone from Bowie to Rod Steward, and a collection of vinyl records under the register.  

Nested on the busy Bourke Street, Cowbell is far from your typical too-cool-inb4 esque hipster joints we are accustomed to in Surry Hills. We were welcomed kindly by a cute old man, who was one of the owners, before seated by another guy who seemed to be in charge or related. Saturday brunch always means business so we were lucky enough to grab the last group table. 

The guy was very laid back, throwing in a swear word in now and there - far from some snobby and pretentious establishments in the area. He asks if we've been to Cowbell before and we replied no, so he takes a stab by guessing three items we will order by writing it on a piece of paper and putting it under a cup, and then gives us some time to inspect the menu.

Fresh bread ready for the oven!

After ordering our dishes, Shan decided to check us in. The guy, I think his name was Matt, saw us on our phones and gave us a good telling about being antisocial. Phones away, guys! I argued I had to take photos for my blog, as I forgotten my camera (again) that day.

Chai Tea ($5?)

Nice and warm on a chilly morning. The chai had a lovely aroma, but as someone who is not the biggest fan of overly gingery-spicy chai, I thought this lacked a bit of kick. Also, I don't mean to be picky but I wished they served it with a ceramic teacup instead. 

Affogato ($5?)

Shan had this so I can't comment much about it. I'm always one for a good affogato though - coffee and ice-cream, what's not to love!

The 808 Burger $18

Ground chuck pattie, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and Cowbell's sesame seed bun, served with spiced onion rings. This was a bit heavy as the first meal of the day, but boy was it worth it. The pattie was pink in the middle and was good ratio with the bun. Who hates when there's too much bun and not enough pattie, or vice versa? I sure do! The burger was smaller than I imagined but it was still very filling. A solid burger, but not a memorable one. The onion rings were golden crispy and made as a nice side. 

Braised Lamb Toastie with Provolone and Rosemary $10

Danzo had this and I didn't try any, but he did enjoy it. It was part of their specials menu.

Sucuk Baked Eggs $18 + Crispy Bacon $2.5

Spicy Turkey beef sausage, braised tomato, 2 free range eggs, served with house labneh and flatbread. So very Middle-Eastern with its spices, yoghurt and flatbread. Mrm and Shan both added extra crispy bacon on top, because bacon! Runny egg yolks and spicy sauce was yum. I think we all would of preferred sourdough or similar instead of flatbread though to dip and soak all the sauces in.

The Original Fat Stacked Ricotta Hotcakes $18 (changed)

Two fat ricotta hotcakes, swapped bacon ice-cream for coconut ice-cream, espresso caramel sauce, with added crispy bacon! This was probably my favourite dish, though L10 said it got sickening by the end and gave us the last bites (which I happily ate after my burger hehe). The combination of bacon, coconut ice-cream, hotcakes and the sauce was to-die-for. Perfect combinations of sweet and savoury, and all levels of this-can't-be-good-for-my-diet. Absolutely ah-mazing and I can still taste it while writing about it. I wonder how it would of tasted like with the bacon ice-cream? 

By the way, he got all three answers correct - burger, baked eggs, and hotcakes!

Cowbell 808 on Urbanspoon