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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 to come to admire David Chang of the famous Momofuku. 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*" - A foodie would truly understand how exciting this is. Open kitchens, esp in such established restaurants, makes 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 (but def appreciate this though). A double sided menu, one for food and one for drinks, was already on the table for us to ogle at.

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

While I will never be a sommelier, I have come to appreciate wine (that time in Italy 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 as it was a childhood thing that she hasn't had in a long time. 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 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 nostalgic of those simpler times. Such a simple dish is almost always overlooked. 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 (we need meat more). 

Spicy honeycomb tribe $18

The idea of eating 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 unfortunately 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, it's a very laid back atmosphere - it surely was no Hell's Kitchen in there. I 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 much 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. The chefs are younger and more hip with their sleeves, it's the whole vibe from Chang's personality, I guess. Something they could improve is toning down the hard rock just a little for more ambience and 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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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 the food was nothing spectacular, it is a great little cafe and bonus points for easy to find parking. 

Grandma's Little Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Gumshara, Chinatown and N2 Extreme Gelato, Haymarket
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 19:55
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While Italy is amazing with its unlimited supply of pizza and endless flowing streams 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 f*** 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 to order but they were staff were super friendly (and it helps to have good company ;-)).

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

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