I have fond memories of my travels through Scandinavia, although I remember the price of a meal was near astronimical, especially on a uni student budget. I was very excited to discover a Nordic restaurant has opened in Sydney, called Norsk Dor.
To get to the restaurant, you must first find the nondescript entrance on Pitt Street, walk down a very long flight of stairs followed by an equally long, stark hallway. Inside the restaurant is a dimly lit, intimate, warm space, complete with kangaroo skin throws draped across the back of the timber dining chairs.
We started with the Gravlax topped with roe, dill and mustard. It was fresh and light, complimenting our other starter, the roasted Bone Marrow.
The roasted Bone marrow was delicious, I only wished there was a little bit more of it. The dish is served with a glass of akvavit (a Scandinavian liquer similar to Cognac) to cut through the fattiness, but it was a little too strong for me. The homemade rye bread, on the other hand, was great to sample the bone marrow with.
The Venison sampler is one of Norsk Dor's signature dishes and it had so much going on. It was a great dish for sharing. The venison was done three ways: there was the pulled venison topped with potato crisps; the seared tenderloin paired with a carrot puree and my favourite, the smoked backstrap. The smokiness really permeated through the meat without being overpowering, and the meat was perfectly cooked. I liked the fresh fig and blue cheese but not sure whether it really belonged to this dish.
We got the Hasselback potato as a side. This is another Scandinavian specialty, where cuts are made into the potato before it's roasted and served topped with rye crumb. It had a lovely crunch but I found that it lacked a bit of seasoning.
The Swedish chocolate cake, on the other hand, was moist and light, with an intense chocolate cake. Served with ice cream and berries, we scraped the plate clean!
The other dessert we tried was the Mulled wine poached pear with beetroot sorbet and anglaise. Great combination of flavours and definitely a perfect dessert for winter.
Norsk Dor is a welcome addition to the Sydney food scene and we had a lovely dining experience. The staff were incredibly friendly, some of the best customer service I have had in a while.
Note: Since my dining experience here, Norsk Dor has changed their menu structure and now offers a set menu that changes daily.
Hidden in a laneway in Circular Quay is Tapavino, a charming Spanish restaurant. As I stepped in, for a moment, I felt like I was in one of the tapas bars in Barcelona or Madrid. Everything on the menu sounded delicious so it was hard for my friends and I to decide what to eat. The wine list is extensive to say the least so we asked the waitress to help us with our selection.
We started with the Braised chicken, tomato salsa and paprika mayo. The meat was perfectly tender and the sauce was incredibly tasting without overpowering the chicken.
The Blood sausage is served with manuka honey and walnuts. It was again packed with flavour and had the right hits of sweet and salty.
The Braised chorizo was a hearty dish, served with a side of sourdough which came in handy to soak up the wonderfully thick tomato sauce.
Tapavino's menu features an entire section devoted to jamon. We decided to go with the Jamon, mushroom & black truffled tart with shaved manchego. The tart was hidden under a generous pile of beautiful, melt in your mouth jamon. The flavour combination of jamon with truffles and the manchego cheese was incredible. I could have happily devoured the whole dish.
For dessert, we couldn't go past the Chocolate terrine, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. The terrine is very rich and the olive oil and the sea salt flakes complemented the intensity of the chocolate flavour beautifully.
The Dulce de leche tart was accompanied by a generous dollop of cream. A simple dessert flawlessly executed, definitely worth saving room for.
I highly recommend Tapavino if you are a fan of good Spanish food and wine. Servings are generous and the atmosphere is unpretentious and has a definite buzz to it.
Lotus has opened in the Galleries Victoria in Sydney CBD, an offshoot of the popular Lotus Dining Bar in Walsh Bay. It's a vast space but they have managed to create a cosy feel by dividing the space into several dining spaces, ranging from bar seats to private dining rooms. The interior is sophisticated and beautifully styled. Food-wise, the menu is Modern Chinese peppered with native Australian ingredients.
For starters, we opted for the Crystal Ice Plant Salad with Cucumber, Enoki and Black Vinegar Dressing. The salad was delightfully refreshing and no doubt, the crispy iceplant (a West Australian native with little clear raised beads on the leaves) was the star of the dish. It was dressed in the zingy black vinegar, soy and sesame concoction which definitely wakes up your palate.
There was a good selection of dumplings on offer and we opted for the Steamed violet dumpling. The skins were thin and delicate, with the striking violet (or more accurately, the dark red) tint coming from beetroot juice. Inside these morsels were Argyle beef, spring onion and baby bok choy - a flavoursome combination.
For mains, we opted for the Wok-fried Wallaby rump. First time eating wallaby and I was very impressed by how tender it was in texture. The meat was accompanied by sweet bean paste and salt bush, continuing the use of native Australian ingredients.
We also ordered the Crispy tofu with salt and wide fire dukkah. The lightly fried tofu was surprisingly light and the spice mix was delicious.
Lotus is a great addition to the CBD dining scene. The service was very efficient and the food was of high quality, managing to weave native Aussie ingredients seamlessly into Chinese cuisine.
All things green tea flavoured are celebrated at One Tea Lounge on York Street in the city. Owner David Yip is responsible for bringing the ramen burger to Sydney a couple of years ago and here, he has opened an Asian fusion restaurant with a hint of the theatrics.
My friend and I started with the Tea smoked octopus with avocado. It came to our table with a cloche over the top, surrounded by a mysterious white fog. Once it dissipated, we dug into the dish and it was one of my favourites of the night with a great intensity of flavours. The creaminess of the avocado went really well with the smokey, tender cubes of octopus.
The popcorn curry chicken had a good crispy coating and were the perfect snacks to go with our drinks. The curry powder was not spicy at all, more like a Japanese style which I enjoy.
The Salmon Tartare came in a glass served on a bed of dry ice which kept the dish very cool. The fish was very fresh and went well with the avocado, cucumber and tobiko.
With the sliders, we had the option to mix and match the bun and filling. We had the Ramen Burger with the wagyu beef - the patty was juicy and the ramen burger was crunchy enough. The Rice Burger lacked flavour and the use of Matcha Boager, whilst tasty, didn't really wow me. I still prefer a good quality brioche bun any day.
Onto baorgers of a different kind - Ice Cream Baogers! We opted for the Green Tea and Black Sesame varieties (sadly they were out of the lychee flavour). Both the ice creams had excellent rich flavours and the boagers reminded me of having a deep fried ice cream. Sadly, I was a little too full to fully appreciate it.
One Tea Lounge is definitely worth a visit. The way they incorporate matcha is quite creative and I love the theatre of some of the dishes as well. Be sure to try their cocktails too, which also heavily features green tea!
Formerly a garage, the large industrial space has been converted into an upscale bar and restaurant, Riley St Garage in Woolloomoolo. The interior is dark and chic, with a large oval shaped bar in the middle.
The menu is made for sharing and we started off with the Smokey Soy Truffle oysters. Beautifully presented, the smoked soy really enhanced the flavour of the freshly shucked oysters and I could easily have eaten a few more!
Heirloom tomato, burrata and basil is a tried and tested combination so we couldn't go wrong with this dish!
The Seared scallops were large and plump and cooked perfectly. The yuzu koshu garlic buter added great flavour to the dish, and again, I could have consumed a few more easily!
I love eggplant and I love miso so the Sweet eggplant miso gratin was definitely a dish for me. The miso gives it a salty hit but when mixed together with the gooey eggplant, it's really well balanced.
The Chorizo corn dog sounded intriguing. Teamed with the dijon mayo, it was definitely fancier than your average corn dog from the Easter Show!
The Grilled Fremantle octopus with white bean and chilli mayo was delicious and had bold hits of Mediterranean flavour. The octopus was beautifully tender and a joy to eat.
I don't often order a chicken dish in fancy restaurants as I feel that it's relatively easy to cook myself. But the Riley Street's Organic half chicken with apple and onion vinaigrette was definitely worth ordering! The chicken skin was wonderfully crispy and the meat was remarkably tender. The creamy truffled mash that accompanied the dish was ridiculously smooth and aromatic, one of the best mash that I have had.
Looking for a sweet finish to the meal, we ordered the Dessert platter. The presentation is absolutely spectacular and definitely one of the highlights of the night. The chocolate mousse was rich and decadent, and paired well with the mascarpone ice cream. The creme brulee had the crunchy crust on top with just the right amount of sweetness.
All in all, I was very impressed by Riley Street Garage. The space reminds me very much of New York. Service is efficient and friendly, flavours were fantastic and I loved that the menu is designed for sharing.
Chanoma is a Japanese cafe in Regent Place, also home to Aqua S, Chef's Gallery and Izakaya Yebisu. Its menu consist of a selection of Japanese hot dogs and all things green tea flavoured.
We ordered the special lunch offer available to Washoku Lovers members - it comprised of one Chanoma Dog (a Japanese Hot Dog), chicken nuggets and either a iced matcha/ grapefruit juice.
The Japanese Hot Dog came with a Kransky sausage and a curry flavoured cabbage & salsa minced meat sauce. The meat on meat combo somehow works and the curried mince sauce was delicious but a tad salty.
The Matcha Latte had a strong green tea flavour without being too overpowering or sweet. It went well with the hot dog and nuggets. I was also keen to try the grapefruit juice, which was served in the fruit itself. I learnt that the fruit is juiced inside its skin using a Cajyutta, a high tech fruit drill. The grapefruit juice was tangy and refreshing, great for a summer's day.
Chanoma Cafe is a great alternative to your standard fast food fare in the city. I'm keen to try out some of their other green tea flavoured desserts.
The Sichuan duck and tofu lo mein wasn't quite what I was expecting. I was anticipating actual slices of duck, rather than the minced variety. The noodles were cooked well and had that bouncy bite. The dish had a big punch of flavour, but the sichuan spice was a little overpowering for me.
Opened as a pop up bar, Merivale's Work in Progress helmed by Patrick Friesen, has been so popular it's now staying open indefinitely. The menu is dominated by Asian favourites, such as Lo Mein, fried chicken and wontons.
First to arrive was the Pork and prawn wonton. In the menu, the description of the dish included 'strange flavour'. I wasn't exactly sure what was so strange about it, but it was definitely tasty - a mixture of soy, peanuts and spices. The wontons were silky and plump with a delicious filling.
Every second restaurants seem to be serving fried chicken these days. I was eager to see how WIP's version measure up. With four varieties to choose from, we opted for the Fried chicken with ginger nuoc cham which comes with a side of pickled diakon, cucumber and kimchi. The batter was crispy and the meat very succulent, another great rendition of fried chicken.
Work In Progress is a great, casual place to go after work with friends (and they do a good cocktail too!) Let's hope they stay open a little while yet.
Hidden in a laneway near Town Hall is Danjee, the sister restaurant of the ever popular Madang. A fancier version of some of the Korean joints found in Chinatown/ Koreatown, the setting is very roomy and the BBQ is confined to the kitchen and outside tables, meaning there won't be any smoky-smelling clothes afterwards!
Perusing the menu, I was intrigued to try the seasoned raw skate fish. I was imagining some version of sliced sashimi, but it wasn't that at all! They looked like meatballs and were quite chewy. They were flavoursome but a bit too hot for my liking.
On the other hand, the Sweet potato noodles in a cold beef broth was light and refreshing. I loved the slipperiness of the noodles and the broth was incredibly tasty.
We chose a couple of dishes from the BBQ section. Ox tongue is one of my favourite cuts of meats and it tastes especially good, fresh off the grill. It's rich and fatty, and wonderfully tender.
The Pork jowl (or pork cheeks) had great marbling and were perfectly cooked - so delicious!
One of the reasons I love going to Korean restaurants is the free banchan side dishes. As usual, there were plenty to choose from, including kimchi, pickled daikon and mung bean jelly, just to name a few.
There are many places now vying for the best Korean Fried Chicken and I think the Danjee Chicken has to be right up there. Everything from the golden, crispy skin to the succulent, moist meat were superb.
We also got the hearty Slow cooked beef ribs with chestnut, gingko nuts and dried dates, perfect for Winter. The sweet soy stock was packed full of flavour and the chestnut and gingko nuts added real depths of flavour. The beef ribs were superbly cooked and falling off the bone, soaking in the very aromatic stock.
Danjee is a modern Korean restaurant serving up fantastic food. I loved that you can choose to BBQ your meat or have it done for you, avoiding the smoky hair/ clothes aftermath. I will be back for sure.
Hidden in the basement below The Bridge Room lies Tokonoma, an offshoot of Toko in Surry Hills. The interior showcase elements of the heritage building and has a lovely ambience, perfect for catching up with friends or a romantic date.
Our group of four started with the Nigirizushi omasake which includes a daily selection of seasonal fish. The sashimi glistened under the light, a sure sign it is super fresh.
Next was the Spicy tuna maki with sriracha mayo. The sushi roll had a crispy outside which added a nice textural element. The tuna was again very fresh and the mayo added just the right amount of heat. I just wished there were more pieces!
The Spicy fried tofu came with a dollop of avocado salsa. The texture and presentation were great, but it lacked some punchy flavours.
The Popcorn shrimp with shichimi mayonnaise was delicious. The batter was super crispy and the bite sized prawns went really well with the dipping sauce.
One of my all time favourite dishes is the Miso cod from Nobu, and Tokonoma's version is definitely up there. The Black cod has the most incredible texture and melts in our mouths immediately. The miso glaze has just the right amount of saltiness and sweetness and we savoured every bite.
Just as mouth watering was the Blackmore wagyu brisket with herb salt and wasabi mayo. The brisket was cooked amazingly well, so tender and flavoursome. The accompaniments of the salt and mayo definitely enhanced the dish.
My three dining companions and I initially thought we should order a few different desserts to try, but seeing the decadent chocolate fondant consumed at other tables, we settled for one chocolate fondant each! And it was one of the best chocolate fondant I have ever tasted! The fondant was gooey on the inside and had such intense chocolate flavours. The salted sesame ice cream was delicious and much needed to offset some of the richness of the fondant.
The dishes/ servings could have been a bit bigger given the price tag attached, but the quality of the food is top notch. Good to have another modern Japanese restaurant in the CBD!
It seems so many Greek restaurants start with the letter A. Athenian, (the) Apollo and Alpha restaurant, anointed one hat in this year's Good Food Guide awards. I visited Alpha with a group of friends for my birthday. To make ordering easy, we chose the banquet menu known as Yia Yia's table for $55 per person. The interiors looked modern and clean, with high ceilings and fishing net inspired lights.
We started with the Pita bread with a trio of dip (smoked eggplant dip, a white cod's roe dip and hommus). The dips were moreish and quickly devoured by our table. The white cod dip was especially creamy and flavoursome.
I had heard rave reviews about the Haloumi Saganaki with ouzo, lemon and oregano and it did not disappoint. The haloumi is rich and chewy, coated in the ouzo and lemon marinade.
Two whole Spanakopitas fresh out of the oven soon appeared on our table. I loved the flaky buttery pastry with generous filling of spinach, leeks, fetta and dill. The pastry to filling ratio was just right.
Greek spiced slow roasted lamb shoulder, roast potatoes and tzatziki smells amazing and incredibly tasty. The lamb was perfectly cooked, the meat just falls off the bone at the slightest touch and is well seasoned with the Greek spices. Crispy roasted potatoes and tzatziki were the perfect accompaniment.
Horiatiki salad. I don't usually find greek salad all that exciting, but this Horiatiki salad was definitely the best greek salad I have eaten. It was clear Alpha has used the freshest tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, topped with a chunky piece of fetta cheese.
Dessert was Loukoumades (Greek style doughnuts) with a spiced honey syrup and candied walnut ice cream. The loukoumades were a bit too sweet for my liking but had a lovely fluffy texture. I did enjoy the candied walnut icecream though.
Overall, the banquet menu is excellent value and Alpha is a great place to have a long lunch in the city.
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