The first course was the Pickled scallop and heirloom tomatoes and fennel in a clear broth. The dish was so tasty and mesmerising that I forgot to take a photo...which is a real shame because it was such a photogenic dish. The tomato medley, together with the micro herbs and scallops gave it wonderful colour and the broth was really delicate with incredible flavours.
Next was the Seared Albacore Tuna with Pickled Strawberries and Horseradish. I don't often order tuna at a restaurant because it's so easy to overcook, but this was done just right. The dish came with a pickled cucumber jelly and seaweed cracker which added to the texture, and I loved the pickled strawberries, which had this wonderful, intense sweetness to it.
For Valentine's Day this year, I was treated to a five course degustation at Four in Hand in Paddington ($95pp). I have enjoyed Colin Fassnidge's cooking at Four Fourteen so was eager to see what was in store.
We were offered a complimentary glass of champagne and an amuse bouche to start. The Whitefish and citrus soup with smoked paprika and basil was very flavoursome and definitely woke up our palate. Interestingly, the butter and salt was served in bone marrow - a nod to their nose and tail philosophy.
Next, we had the Bavette and Beef Cheek with Buttermilk Curd and Summer Greens. I had to google what a bavette was - turns out it is a French style cut, similar to a flank steak. Again, it was wonderfully cooked but the star of the dish was the beef cheek. The meat was falling-off-the bone tender and soaked up all the wonder juices from the stock.
Corned beef is not normally an item you would see on the menu of a restaurant, let alone a fine dining one. However, the Warmed corned beef with bresciola, buffalo curd and nashi pear was a revelation. The poached corn beef was moist and juicy, sitting atop a precisely cut block of nashi pear which provided the sweetness. Draped over the top was the house cured bresciola with shaved horseradish and a rich cheesy buffalo curd.
The dessert - Chocolate ice cream with pedro ximenz and macadamic nut with Brioche combined some of my favourite foods in the world - brioche, macadamia and chocolate. The ice cream was rich and velvety smooth and the chocolate flavours were everywhere but never overly sweet. I savoured each bite, not wanting the experience to end.
I was very impressed with the food overall. All the dishes had wonderful textures and balance of flavours. The service was friendly and professional too.
I had been eager to try Cho Cho San ever since it opened and a workmate's farewell was just the right excuse to venture to this Potts Point eatery. Things did not go exactly to plan as we were told our table was given away, despite us being on the phone with the restaurant just minutes earlier telling them we were on our way. They did seem rather apologetic and after a drink at The Bourbon, we eventually got our table right alongside the bar. I loved the interior of Cho Cho San - it has a very minimalistic yet elegant feel. For ease of ordering, we opted for the $65 Feed Me menu.
First up was the pickled vegetables which was tangy and refreshing, and whetted our appetite for more.
Miso and eggplant is a wonderful combination - Nasu dengaku is one of my favourite dishes to order at a Japanese restaurant. Cho Cho San has done a different take on these two ingredients - teaming the lightly fried egglant which is satisfyingly gooey on the inside, with a tasty miso sauce. It is the ultimate bar snack and I had to stop myself from eating the whole plate.
Next up was the Petunia ocean trout. The photo doesn't really do it justice. Thickly cut, the fresh sashimi was superbly balanced with just the right amount of soy, mirin, black pepper and wasabi. Normally, I am not a big fan of wasabi but in this case, it did not overpower the dish at all. This is one of the dishes I could order again and again.
The King prawns with Kombu butter was slightly hard to eat elegantly with the utensils provided, but oh so tasty and charred just the right amount.
The udon noodles, pork and chilli sauce was a very hearty dish and devoured by all. The chilli sauce had quite a kick to it and the udon noodles still retained a springy texture. The whipped tofu (which at first I thought was egg white) added a nice contrast.
A giant plate of iceberg lettuce then landed on our table. Extremely simple, but somehow still rather tasty. The ponzu dressing imparted a fresh flavour onto the dish and was a good palate cleanser before we moved onto dessert.
Just when we thought the food was over, one of savoury dish arrived and it was the Japanese style charcoal chicken. The yakitori glaze on the chicken was amazingly flavoursome and I have no idea how they managed to keep the meat so tender.
All night, we had seen scores of the Green Tea Soft Serve waffle cone leaving the kitchen and finally, it was our turn. The green tea ice cream had a good hit of matcha although I would have preferred it to be slightly less sweet. It was a refreshing end to a very satisfying meal.
I am eager to come back and try the a la carte menu next time!
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Tasting the famed pork buns for the first time at Momofuku ssam bar in New York is one of my favorite food memories. When my friend M (who I shared the said pork buns with) told me they were recreating their 2007 Ssam Bar menu at Momofuku Seiobo as part of Good Food Month's Hats Off Dinner, I thought this was one opportunity not to be missed. The event was on for one week only, from October 13 to October 18.
Having heard about the massive queues through the week, M, my bf and I arrived just before 5, on a Saturday afternoon, and were happy to find ourselves near the front of the queue. Luckily, there was a Gelato Messina nearby to help us kill time (any excuse for Messina!). Time in the queue also gave us plenty of time to ponder what to order from their a la carte menu.
We started with the Tasmania sea urchin and whipped tofu. The light texture of the whipped tofu was a wonderful contrast to the rich intense flavour of the sea urchin. At the base of the dish were some tapioca balls, more commonly found in pearl milk tea, which was a hidden surprise in the dish. It was an appropriate first dish as it whetted our appetites for more.
The famous steamed pork buns quickly arrived. The buns were as soft and pillowy as I remembered and the pork belly just melts in your mouth. It's such a simple dish when you think about it - pork belly, hoisin sauce, cucumber and bun. But there are few places that do it as well as Momofuku, especially in Sydney.
Deep fried Brussels sprouts was a surprising highlight of the evening. The fish sauce vinaigrette had the classic Thai combination of sweet, salty and tang, and the puffy rice just added the right amount of pop to the dish. Who knew fish sauce and brussel sprouts could be such a great combination! Charred just the right amount, this side dish was highly addictive and I could not stop eating it.
The Apple, lychee and bacon salad with chilli sauce was very refreshing. The peanut added just the right amount of crunch. There was even lychee jelly to add another textural element to the dish. Will definitely try to make this at home some time!
I am a big fan of Chiwan mashi - Japanese egg custard. Momofuku's version comes with snails and truffle. The aroma of the black truffle is simply divine and the snails had a real meatiness to them. David Chang is known for his out of the box food combinations, and this was no exception.
The Marinated hanger steak Ssam was on every table and is fun to eat. We took the lettuce cups and packed them with the beef, the shallots and ginger scallion mixture and kimchi. The ginger scallion sauce is something I normally have with white cut chicken in Cantonese restaurants, but worked just as well on the steak. The beef was juicy and tender, and packed an incredible amount of flavour.
The finale to the meal was the Spicy honeycomb tripe. M and I had a tripe salad dish at Ssam bar in NY, so it is clearly a much loved ingredient at Ssam. This was a very different variation. The tripe was quite tender and the curry sauce as very flavoursome. The soft boiled egg added more richness to the dish. I would have loved a bowl of rice to soak all up the sauce.
My extremely high expectations of this meal was met and exceeded. I could easily eat all those dishes again and again. The service was fast and furious. Not your typical three hat restaurant standard as it turned into Ssam bar for the week, but it definitely did not detract from the overall food experience.
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