This is a short-ish compilation of the food had during a recent trip to Sydney (about 2 months ago). I made a short list of places I wanted to visit after seeing a few photos on Instagram. My partner and I booked tickets to see Les Miserables in Sydney on a Friday night, so I took the day off to have an extra day in Sydney to eat and shop. First up was lunch.
As it was a cold-ish drizzly day in Sydney, a bowl of ramen sounded like a good idea. Gumshara Ramen is a ramen shop I’ve been meaning to try for a while after reading an article when it first opened up in 2009. The owner and Japanese chef, Mori Hogashida, opened up this small ramen shop in Sydney Chinatown’s Eating World (a food court). It has a loyal following as one of the best ramen shops in Sydney.
Sydney food blogger Grab Your Fork gives a good background to the process and effort that goes into making the tonkotsu (pork bone broth). Basically the tonkotsu is made using 120 kg of pork bones EVERY DAY. It is stirred constantly with more bones and water continually being added. The bones are cooked to allow the marrow and tendons to break down providing plenty of collagen. This results in a super thick gravy-like broth. There are 10 different bowls of ramen to choose from, some with a miso base. I wanted to try the much loved tonkotsu and decided to go with number 2 on the board – Tonkotsu Ramen Noodle ($10.50). There’s a range of sides available as well such as soft boiled egg, lethal looking chilli bombs, BBQ pork skewers and dumplings. The ramen was all I needed as I wanted to leave room for the other eateries on my list to try out.
There were four thin slices of pork (the sign at the front states that 100% Australian pork is use) and a decent portion of ramen (though I could have fit in more!). Just WOW. The broth is one of the BEST I’ve ever tasted. Soo much rich thick pork flavour. It really is like gravy. I think some people, accustomed to the more watered down version of ramen, will find it too rich and thick. There’s even a sign at the front asking diners to inform staff if you want less thick and salty broth. I didn’t drink all the broth as it got a bit too overwhelming, but wow it packs a punch.
I was really impressed to find such authentic and delicious ramen in a food court. Cheap, cheerful and delicious! I really want to try the number 4 – the super mega ramen noodle ($25) with spare rib, BBQ pork skewer and egg in tonkotsu soup. A little steep but it’s super and mega!
Value for money 10/10
FPJ score 27/30
Next was dessert at the popular and probably most instagrammed ice creamery in Sydney – Aqua S. The main ingredient being a bright aqua coloured sea salt soft serve ice cream. The sea salt is a permanent flavour at Aqua S, with two additional flavours that are changed every fortnight. Previous flavours have included tiramisu, biscotti, tofu, mango orange, watermelon and creaming soda, strawberry cheesecake and more. During my visit, the flavours were apple and blackcurrant or melon milkshake.
The combination of flavours is as follows:
- Sea salt
- Sea salt + apple and blackcurrant
- Sea salt + melon milkshake
- Apple and blackcurrant + melon milkshake
Then there are the toppings – popping candy, toasted marshmallow, fairy floss and caramel popcorn. I chose the sea salt + apple blackcurrant in a chocolate cone with fairy floss and caramel popcorn. This set me back $6.30. I think getting all the toppings will cost $8 with the soft serve.
The sea salt really does taste like sea salt. My friend said that it’s like eating tears. I’m inclined to agree! I think for those that love salted caramel and anything else salted, may like this soft serve. I’m just glad I mixed it with the sweet apple and blackcurrant. It tasted like the sweet grape juice Ribena. I found the fairy floss (although it looks great and is so easy to photograph), started melting and dripped down my arm after about a minute. It’s not pleasant having sticky clear liquid down your hand, sleeves and shoes. I got fed up and just ripped the whole thing off and threw it in the bin. I did like the caramel popcorn. Next time, I’ll get popcorn with marshmallow minus the fairy floss.
Although there is usually a massive queue to be served, it only takes staff about a minute to put together your Aqua S order with the fairy floss machine hot and ready to go.
Value for money 7/10
FPJ score 22/30
Another sweet spot I wanted to hit up was Piccolo Me. There are several shops dotted around the CBD so I went to the closest one which was on King Street. I tried the Nutellagato that comes with nutella and vanilla ice cream, double ristretto in a syringe, chocolate flakes and crushed hazelnuts ($7.50). A simple combination of ingredients that you get to ‘play’ with. It all worked so well together. A perfect match of warm ristretto and ice cream, crunchy hazelnut and an extra chocolatey hit from the chocolate flakes. It is relatively inexpensive and a yummy treat. I might need to go back for the cookiegato! Service is friendly and very quick.
FPJ score 26/30
Dinner the night before the show was at Belly Bao, an underground restaurant as part of Good God Small Club. I didn’t get any reception down there so make sure you send any text messages/make calls above on the street (J got cranky with me because he couldn’t reach me). I wanted to try everything on the menu at Belly Bao. Between the three of us, we ordered sweet potato fries ($7) which came in a large basket. With a bit of salt on top and plenty of sauce, this was really good! Crunchy with fluffy sweet potato inside. (It was very dark inside so my photos didn’t turn out very well).
Onto the bao. We ordered the slow braised pork belly with pickled mustard greens, coriander, crushed peanuts and kewpie mayo ($6.50). There was a really soft and generous portion of pork belly. The panko crumbed cicken breast with lettuce, pickled radish, secret sauce, coriander and coriander pesto aioli ($6.50). The soft shell crab with watercress, chilli aioli and lemon vinaigrette ($7.50) was my favourite. Great deep fried chicken that was still succulent with crispy seasoned batter. Yum! I wanted another serve. The soft shell crab with watercress, chilli aioli and lemon vinaigrette ($7.50) had crunchy batter with yummy crab flavour coming through. There were no complaints.
We went back for seconds to order another serve of pork belly, then the crackling roast pork belly with crackling, picked radish, coriander and kewpie mayo ($6.50). The slow braised beef short rib with kimchi, spring onion and sesame mayo ($6.50). Not too bad but I prefer the regular pork belly as I’m not a fan of crackling. The slow braised beef short rib with kimchi, spring onion and sesame mayo ($6.50) was tender with spicy kick from the kimchi.
After seeing photos of it, I really wanted to try the dessert bao but by that stage, there was a 40 minute wait on food and we had to rush off to the show. I enjoyed dinner here – one of the better bao serving places I’ve visited (though I still think Melbourne’s Wonderbao is best). Note: Baos are not cheap and dinner here could get you back quite a bit. However, I’m glad I tried it and I’m definitely heading back for the dessert bao.
Value for money 7/10
FPJ score 23.5/30
Devon on Danks
The following morning, we went to Devon on Danks in Waterloo. I’d been here before on a previous visit, and was eager to go back. I ordered something different on the drinks menu – the iced orange mocha ($6) made with cold pressed coffee and a house made chocolate orange reduction. This tasted just like a jaffa in liquid form. Overly sweet for me so I only managed to drink half.
I had to order the DD Special – milk Thai tea soft serve with crunchy salty chips (I forgot the price). Now there’s something about ice cream and chips – have you ever dipped Maccas chips into vanilla soft serve? Weird but it works! In this case, I found the flavour of the soft serve rather odd when combined with the salty chips. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the milk tea flavour and the chips separately. The chips were so crunchy and appropriately salty. The soft serve did taste like tea and was delicately sweet. I just personally wasn’t that keen on the combination of both. The others didn’t seem to like the combination either. Mmm I need to go back just for those chips!
For breakfast, I ordered the Breakfast with the Sakuma’s ($25) which had softest miso grilled King Salmon. The soft juicy flesh did not taste like it had been grilled. It tasted more like sous vide salmon with a luxurious silky texture all throughout. It was like biting through a cloud. The smoked eel croquette was nice and crispy on the outside. I was thankful that the flavour of eel was extremely subtle but I couldn’t taste much smokiness. The 63 degree egg was perfect. I enjoyed having the radish petit salad for some freshness and balance to the dish.
My friend ordered my second choice breakfast, the Naked Bruschetta ($14.50) of goats curd, walnut bread, roasted and pickled beetroot, avocado, kale crumble and a soft boiled egg. I got to taste some of it and found it was crunchy, healthy and a good start to the day. Keen to order this next time.
J ordered the Dr Seuss’s Green Egg and Ham ($20) with thick cut bacon, crispy potato, 63 degree egg, green tomato ketchup, pea puree, soybeans, pea tendrils and jus. I had a taste of this and thought it was okay, however it did not sit well with J afterwards.
I couldn’t resist a shot of the freshly made caramel popcorn cronuts. I was too full by this stage and we were going shopping afterwards, otherwise I would have totally grabbed a few of these to take away!
We stood around for quite some time waiting to be seated during this visit. There were plenty of wait staff around and not that many diners so that was frustrating. However, our orders were taken quickly, staff knew what was offered on the menu and it didn’t take long to come out.
Value for money 8/10
FPJ score 22.5/30
Black Star Pastry
Afternoon tea was at Black Star Pastry in Rosebery where I finally got to try the famous signature cake – the strawberry watermelon cake with rose scented cream. I was too excited about trying it (they had sold out the last time I was there) so I don’t remember how much this one portion serve cost. This is smaller than it looks in the photo and there was simply no sharing. The beauty in this is the layer of fresh watermelon in the middle of the cake that doesn’t make the cake soggy or slippery. It just sits there perfectly adding sweet juicy freshness. There are two thin layers of soft almond dacquoise and a few layers of light rose scented whipped cream. Portions of each element are appropriate and everything just works so well together. A very light and fluffy cake – one slice is not enough. I can understand now why so many people order this as their wedding cake! When I headed back to the counter, staff were bringing out the 4-portion strawberry watermelon cake (I think this is around $30) – a better size for sharing 🙂
The orange cake with Persian figs and cream cheese icing ($4.50) looked so adorable that I got that too. The orange cake is super moist and absolutely delicious with the soft icing and extra sweetness from the dried figs on top. It’s gluten free too!
For the drive home, I bought the chicken and avocado sandwich on sourdough bread to keep me from getting ‘hangry’. The chicken was juicy and tender. A really simple, healthy filling on thick slices of sourdough. Yum!
Throwback to my last visit to Black Star Pastry at the Powerhouse Museum (when the strawberry watermelon cake had run out), I ordered some other tasty treats instead. The zen cake has layers of pistachio ganache, white chocolate mousse, lemon curd and pistachio dacquoise. It was the end of the day and I think that’s why the cake had gone a little dry. Plenty of lemon curd in the cake (not a big fan) but I thought all the layers and flavours complemented each other. I must admit this is not my favourite dessert and I much prefer the strawberry watermelon cake.
The chocolate eclair was spot on – lovely pastry and filled with wonderfully smooth and creamy chocolate. The soft dark chocolate coating outside was like icing on a cake. Very yummy and I would order this again.
I found service to be quick and efficient at Black Star Pastry. Simply order at the front counter and your pastries/cakes/sandwiches are taken out of the counter onto a plate for you. The only wait we had was on the drinks but this came out shortly after ordering.
Value for money 8/10
FPJ score 26.5/30
Fujipan Japanese Bakery
I had seen photos of the cute Totoro Bun that can be bought from Fujipan Japanese Bakery in the CBD. Fujipan is similar to Breadtop offering sweet and savoury baked goods. The Totoro cost me $2.80 and is stuffed with a custard filling. Very soft bun and it’s quite large. Truthfully, it tastes like any other custard bun to me. I really only bought it because it’s so cute.
FPJ score 26/30
So that’s it. I can’t wait for another food weekend in Sydney!
If you want more random photos and updates about food, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram