shiitake and stuff


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Attica, Melbourne

Grilled octopus, sour corn and spicy flowers

Grilled octopus, sour corn and spicy flowers

I’m often perplexed when people are not enthusiastic about food. Of course we need food to live, but it pains me to hear someone say, “it’s just food”. Yes we need to put something in our bellies for nourishment. Yes it is essential for our survival. So why not embrace the beauty of food in the many different forms it comes in?

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The Californian, Potts Point

Salt-roasted prawns with fennel, orange and pomegranate ($20)

Salt-roasted prawns with fennel, orange and pomegranate ($20)

A few years ago, going to eat at a pub meant a steak and chips, schnitty and chips, bangers and mash, etc etc etc.

The Drink’n’Dine group has really turned this philosophy on its head. The popularity of pubs such as The Carrington, The Norfolk, Santa Barbara, Abercrombie and Forresters is unrivalled in Sydney. And in the case of the Jamaican restaurant Queenies (probably my favourite restaurant in Sydney) inside the Forresters, the group has turned its sights to Madame Mofongo at the Carrington, which will follow a Guatemalan theme.

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momofuku seiōbo, Pyrmont

Pork buns ($15)

Pork buns ($15)

If you ever take a sick day on a Friday and feel like dropping some coin on food, make the pilgrimage across Pyrmont Bridge to momofuku seiōbo. Don’t have a booking? No worries. The three-hatted restaurant has five seats reserved for punters haven’t been lucky enough to book a seat in the main restaurant. And yes, you can get the pork buns. There are only seven items on the bar menu but it’s a great warm-up to the main event of a degustation at seiōbo. Hey, you can even throw some money at the roulette table at The Star.

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MoVida, Melbourne

Twice-cooked ox tongue with red pepper broth ($3.50)

Twice-cooked ox tongue with red pepper broth ($3.50)

When I went to Melbourne earlier this year, there was only one restaurant I wanted to visit. Although MoVida had already set up shop in Sydney, their flagship restaurant in Melbourne has been raved about for years.

To mix things up, I won’t be writing many words about MoVida, but I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Every dish we ordered tasted and looked magnificent. I loved the fact that you could order individual tapa and also bigger plates to share. That’s enough from me. Enjoy!

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Lochiel House, Kurrajong Heights

Nose-to-tail pork

Nose-to-tail pork

Have you ever travelled a long distance just to visit a particular restaurant? Since I’ve started to dabble in the world of food, the thought has started to play on my mind. Perhaps a whirlwind visit to Attica in Melbourne to experience Ben Shewry’s creations, or even a tour of Tasmania sampling the finest produce in all of Australia. And what about the rest of the world? Well that’s the dream anyway.

Lochiel House – in Kurrajong Heights at the bottom of the Blue Mountains – has long been on my list. In food blogger circles, I’ve heard about this restaurant, which specialises in pig and its nose-to-tail cooking that is present in almost all of its dishes.

The drive past Windsor and Richmond is uninspiring at best; I’m guessing the more interesting parts are leading up to Kurrajong and beyond. Feel free to leave a comment if I’m being blinded by my ignorance. But the food makes the trip to Lochiel House worthwhile.

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shiitake seven: Eric Tan, Chophouse

Baklava semifreddo at Chophouse

Baklava semifreddo at Chophouse

When I went to Chophouse this year, I was really impressed with its staff, food, produce and the overall experience. Recently I had a chat with its head chef Eric Tan, who had some interesting things to say about cheffing, My Kitchen Rules and where he likes to eat. Read my review of Chophouse on Concrete Playground here

What would you have as your last meal?

Freshly shucked oysters just out of the water from Pambula Lake, anything cooked by my wife (she always puts a lot of love into her food), and to finish Delice de Bourgogne, triple cream, white mould cheese.

What do you think about TV shows such as Masterchef or My Kitchen Rules? Would you ever hire someone from the show?

I think that it’s a great medium that educates and lets people know about products and methods in the industry that may otherwise be inaccessible. It’s also very entertaining as there is always drama between workmates and never a dull moment in the kitchen. It generates interest in the food industry and hopefully results in more people dining out and supporting local businesses.

I would definitely be open to hiring someone from either show. If they have the same level of commitment and dedication in the Chophouse kitchen that they portray on the show, that’s all any chef can ask for I think.

What do you love about cooking?

It’s one of the few activities that across all cultures and nationalities, brings about a sense of community and commonality. Everyone enjoys good food and through this people are brought together.

What don’t you like about the industry?

Chefs and industry people who think that they are more important than the guests that support them. It’s not common but when you see it it’s disappointing.

What is the dish you are most proud of creating?

I was always taught that you are only ever as good as the last dish that you plated. So at this stage it’s going to be the Petit Chicken with Sauce Cassoulet that is coming to Chophouse menu.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

This is a tough one! Temasek in Parramatta is perfect for a great cheap feed and awesome flavours. Momofuku Seibo is fun, quirky and left of centre which puts a smile on my face.

Who do you look up to, as a chef?

The chefs in my kitchen who often have to meet my unreasonable requests on standards and my unrelenting desire for knowledge on all things food. They persist day in day out and turn up to work every day with the same passion and dedication that keeps Chophouse going.

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