Sokyo Ramen at The Star, Pyrmont
After my delicious meal at Sokyo at The Star, I was keen to try out head chef Chase Kojima's Sokyo Ramen pop-up. With a neon sign and posters of Japanese culture covering up the wall, it was hard to miss.
There are four styles of ramen on offer, including a cold version for the hot summer weather. We opted to start with the Umami tonkotsu 2.0 Ramen. I liked the use of the pork cheek chashu rather than the pork belly commonly found in other bowls of ramen. The cheek was very tender and juicy, and the soft boiled egg added an extra creaminess to the dish.
The Yuzu Shio Ramen was unlike any bowls of ramen I had eaten before. It was incredibly light and refreshing - the broth was very easy to drink and had an element of zestiness that you don't usually find with ramen. It smelt wonderfully fragrant too!
We were here for the ramen but couldn't resist a serving of Fried Chicken. And a wise decision that was - the fried chicken were a crispy golden colour with just the right amount of crispy batter and tender meat. It was accompanied by a spicy mayo and a fresh salad with yuzu dressing - well worth the $9.
If you are a fan of ramen, get down to Sokyo Ramen before the pop up is no longer! As the hashtag on the seaweed says, #noramennolife.
Sokyo at The Star, Pyrmont
Tucked away inside The Star is the acclaimed Japanese restaurant, Sokyo, helmed by Chase Kojima. Unlike many fine dining restaurants, it does not offer a degustation...which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as we get to pick exactly what we would like to try tonight.
Our first course was the Scallop ceviche, topped with crispy potato, micro herbs and a tomato medley. The dish was super light and fresh, a perfect way to start the evening. The thinly sliced scallops went really well with the yuzu dressing, and the crispy potato adds some good texture and flavour to the dish.
Salmon belly is one of my favourite cuts of sashimi and I was not dissappointed. Not only did it look amazing on the plate, it was gloriously fatty and tastes ridiculously good. We could definitely have done with another plate of that!
The Short rib beef skewers grilled on a robata grill just utterly delicious and completely melts in the mouth. I love the eschallots wedged in between the wagyu which gave a dose of crunch and sweetness.
The Kurobuta Pork Belly skewers were just as mouth watering. The combination of the rich and tender pork belly and the juicy daikon is simply divine.
We rounded out the savoury dishes of the night with the Spicy tuna sushi roll. It was very tasty and the quality of the fish is undeniably good, but it didn't have the wow factor of the other dishes.
Onto dessert and Goma street is perfection on a plate. The waitress advised we should smash down the tower, so we can mix in all the textures and flavours together. It was almost too pretty to touch but we did smash it down and I loved all the elements. There were discs of dark chocolate layered with a sesame filling, topped with black sesame crumble. It paired really well with the velvelty smooth black sesame ice cream and caramelised white chocolate crumb. Definitely one of the best desserts I have had.
Our second dessert was the Tofu cheesecake with Thyme sugar and strawberry consomme. It reminded me of the tofu pudding (tofu-fa) you find at yumcha restaurants. The cheesecake was light and fluffy, though I did wish there was a little more strawberry consomme.
Sokyo is now one of my fave restaurants in Sydney, a sophisticated dining space, perfect to celebrate a special occasion. Whilst it is somewhat pricey, we left with very full stomachs, spending less than what you would normally for a degustation at a fine dining restaurant. I would love to go back and maybe nab a seat at the sushi bar to see the chefs in their element.
LuMi Bar & Dining, Pyrmont
For Mother's Day this year, I treated mum to a 7 course degustation at Lumi Bar & Dining, right on the wharf at Pyrmont. I was intrigued to see how they would fuse Italian and Japanese influences together. The first thing I noticed upon walking into the restaurant was the completely open kitchen and the sky of pendant lights hanging from the ceiling. The terraniums on each of the table, each slightly different than the next, were a nice touch.
First up was a series of snacks to whet our appetite. The Black sesame Brisee had a lovely crumbly texture and together with the mascarpone and caviar made for quite a decadent snack. The Nori chips with tomato powder had the texture of prawn crackers and I could easily have eaten a few more. The Onion and Chicken Liver Macaron was one of the sandout dishes of the night - I loved the contrast of the sweetness of the macaron against the saltiness of the onion and chicken liver pate. The Chawanmashi was done Italian style, with a hint of Parmesan, and was silky smooth.
Next came the spanner crab with a Bechamel emulsion, which was draped over with yuba, aka bean curd skin. The yuba was delicate and went beautifully with the crab.
I loved the look of the Braised daikon with gruyere cheese when it hit the table. Hidden under a blanket of gruyere was the softest and sweetest piece of daikon you could imagine. The burnt shallot oil was very aromatic and despite not really able to taste the dried venison liver, I was very impressed by the dish.
We then tried the Agnolotti with an eel dashi. The agnolotti reminded me of a ravioli, with a creamy mascarpone filling. The dashi, even though there was only a small quantity, was jam-packed with flavour.
Continuing with the pasta theme, we had the Spaghetti alla chitarra with Truffle Pecorino, and sweet red prawns. The spaghetti was perfectly cooked al dente and you could tell pasta is one of this restaurant's forte. All the elements of the dish worked well together and it was damn delicious!
Moving away from the cheese and pasta combo, we had the Beef cheek with the pickled castelfranco radicchio. The pickled castelfranco radicchio was a little bitter, not sure if that was the intent. Hiding under the radicchio was the braised beef cheek was was no doubt the star of the dish - it was so soft, breaking apart at the slightest touch with the fork.
Time for dessert! The Yuzu icecream with Limoncello Granita, capers and Wakame powder looked spectacular on the plate, and tasted just as good as it looked. The Yuzu ice cream was wonderfully refreshing, and there was a dolop of lemon jam on the bottom to give it an extra tang. The seaweed cracker had an incredible melt-in-the-mouth texture. It was a great palate cleanser dessert.
To finish off the meal, we had the young ginger icecream with passionfruit powder, lime zest and white chocolate foam. Sitting atop the icecream was a yoghurt crumble, which added more creaminess to the dish. The ginger flavour provided a good hit of spice, but was not overpowering at all. A great way to finish off a fantastic meal.
The overall standard of the food was excellent and I admired how they intertwined the Japanese and Italian ingredients and flavours together. At $95, it is one of the better value degustations in Sydney!
Momofuku Seiōbo, Sydney
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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