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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Merchants of Ultimo, Broadway Shopping Centre

Sweet potato fries at Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre

It's like a food court, but with table service. The Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre is like a mini food court, complete with salad bar, pizzeria, rotisserie, cafe and patisserie. What most passersby don't realise is that eat in diners don't have to line up at each stall to place their order. Roving waitstaff offer complete table service, offering a clipboard menu of all offerings and a single bill at the end.

Seating at Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Seating inside the Merchants of Ultimo

Seating fills up quickly during peak hour. It's a cleverly designed space with plenty of timber beams, hanging greenery and tempting visuals, like legs of lamb slowly spinning on the rotisserie and pastry chefs icing bespoke cakes at the counter.

Salad sation at The Gardens in the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Salad station at The Gardens

The Gardens has to have one of the prettiest displays of salad vegetables around, much more enticing than the usual stainless steel sandwich bar set-up.

Salad ingredients at The Gardens in the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Salad ingredients

This station isn't all vegetarian. They also churn out wagyu cheese burgers, buttermilk chicken burgers and salads mixed with woodfired chicken, rotisserie lamb and miso glazed salmon.

Valoriani Forni wood fired oven at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Valoriani Forni wood fired oven

And on a cold day, you'll relish the heat from the Valoriani Forni wood fired oven, tucked away in the corner.

Rotisserie lamb salad at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Rotisserie lamb salad $17

We tried a number of dishes over a series of visits. The rotisserie lamb salad was a winner with tender shredded lamb piled high with salad greens, cherry tomatoes, quinoa, roasted corn kernels, giant golden raisins and squeaky slices of grilled haloumi. The coriander and yoghurt dressing helped everything come together.

Roast pork with woodfire corn and house slaw from Henry's Block at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Roast pork with woodfire corn and house slaw from Henry's Block $16

The roast pork doesn't arrive with as much crackling as we would've liked, but the Henry's Box concept is a cute idea, allowing you to pick your protein and two sides. The woodfire corn is sweet and juicy, drenched in lemon butter and covered in shaved parmesan. The house slaw of shredded celeriac, kohlrabi and fennel is refreshingly crisp.

Sweet potato fries at Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Sweet potato fries $5

And then there are the sweet potato fries. In a city plagued with soggy imposters, these are every bit as noisily crunchy as the ones in your wildest dreams. You'll be fighting over the last one.

Roast corn, woodfired corn and rotisserie lamb salad at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Digging into lunch

PIzza station at Pizza Mario at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Making pizzas at Pizza Mario

If there's one stall that shines, though, it's Pizza Mario, run by the same folks behind Da Mario.

Potato pizza and margherita pizza by Pizza Mario at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Potato pizza and margherita pizza ready for the oven

In the open kitchen you can watch them prepping the pizza dough, layering on the ingredients and then transferring them into the woodfired oven using a peel.

Pizza Mario cooking pizzas in the woodfired oven at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Sliding pizzas into the oven

Diavola pizza by Pizza Mario at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Diavola pizza $16

There are a dozen pizzas to choose from, including a ham, mushroom and ricotta calzone and a nutella calzone for dessert. The diavola pizza packs some devilish heat with spicy salami and chilli.

Buffalo margherita pizza by Pizza Mario at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Buffalo margherita pizza $16

Traditionalists will go with the classic margherita for $13 or upgrade to the buffalo margherita for $16, strewn with buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes.

Underneath the woodfired pizza base by Pizza Mario at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Pizza upskirt shot

But the magic is all in the pizza crust, super thin and almost floppy in the middle with a puffy blistered crust that has just the right amount of woodfired char.

Buttermilk chicken burger at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Buttermilk chicken burger $18

The buttermilk chicken burger is a satisfying number too, a juicy fillet shielded by a crunch of knobby batter. The milk bun is soft but still still sturdy enough to hold the chicken, salad, sriracha and pudding of molten smoked mozzarella cheese.

Seating in front of Nero's Brew at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Seating in front of Nero's Brew coffee station

Coffees are served via Nero's Brew using Single Origin beans.

Desserts by Leave It To B at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Desserts from Leave it to B

And it's hard to pass up the sweet treats from Leave it to B by ex-Rockpool pastry apprentice Brendan Dewar who went on to open Brendan Dewar Patisserie in St Ives.

Berry tart by Leave It To B at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Berry tart $8.50

The L-shaped glass cabinet runs from gateaux to croissants. 

Cheesecake slice by Leave It To B at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Cheesecake slice

Citrus pillow lemon meringue tart by Leave It To B at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Citrus pillow $8.50

We've had the millefeuille and a tropical fruit dome takeaway, but the only dessert we've had eat-in was the citrus pillow, a fancy lemon meringue tart with shards of isomalt toffee. The lemon curd is bracingly sharp, just what you want against the sweet blowtorched rosettes of meringue.

Entrance to the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre


Merchants of Ultimo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Merchants of Ultimo
Level one, Broadway Shopping Centre
1 Bay Street, Broadway, Ultimo, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9346 8775

Opening hours
Daily 6am-9pm



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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/21/2017 05:43:00 pm


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Ms G's, Potts Point

Korean army stew jaffle at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney

The humble Aussie jaffle. Two bits of bread sandwiched together to create a pocket for molten cheesy goodness. And then Dan Hong comes along and stuffs it with Korean Army stew. It's as though he's on a one man crusade to bring budae jigae to the masses.

But you know what? It works. This Korean American hybrid, a stew (jigae) invented from army (budae) rations during the Korean war, combines noodles with kimchi, gochujang pepper paste, Spam and American cheese. It's spicy, salty, carby cheesy goodness - just the kind of thing you want in a toasted pocket.

At Ms G's this jaffle will set you back $18 but surely that's quality kransky and mortadella buried in there amongst the ramyum noodles and mozzarella. And it's the kind of tongue-in-cheek quirkiness you can expect at Ms G's, a mash-up of all things Asian in the middle of Potts Point.

Burrata with strange flavour sesame sauce at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Burrata with strange flavour sesame sauce, chilli oil, spinach and peanuts $22

Take cheese for instance. Burrata is the last thing you'd expect to find in a Chinese restaurant but here it's freaking out every Nonna with the addition of crushed Sichuan peppercorns, sesame seeds, rice vinegar and peanuts. Guaiwei strange flavour sauce is straight outta Sichuan province, more commonly used with cold chicken, but oddly complementary against the cold creamy lusciousness of mozzarella filled with cream. It's a ballsy move (ahaha) and it works.

Ms G's falafel with green tomato salsa at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Ms G's falafel, green tomato salsa and black garlic aioli $4.50 each

In contrast, Ms G's take on falafel is much less exciting, not that there's anything amiss with the chickpea patties, but its topping of green tomato salsa and black garlic aioli seems to veer off the modern Asian path, even with the inclusion of black garlic.

Vietnamese steak tartare with prawn crackers at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Vietnamese steak tartare with prawn crackers $21

While some dishes change on the menu, others will always remain. And with good reason. The Vietnamese steak tartare is too good to ever remove, a hybrid between steak tartare and the Vietnamese bo tai chanh rare beef salad. Those thick crunchy prawn crackers are the perfect carriage for seasoned chopped beef, a glossy egg yolk and a mountain of deep fried shallots.

Mini banh mi with chicken katsua and spicy fish katsu at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Mini banh mi with chicken katsu and spicy fish katsu $7.50 each

Mini banh mi are about as far removed from your Cabramatta favourite as you can get, but that includes the juiciness of both the chicken and fish fillets, each coated in panko crumbs and deep fried to an expert crunch.

Cheeseburger spring rolls at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Cheeseburger spring rolls $6 each

Cheeseburger spring rolls are always a winner. It's that sharpness of dill pickles against the tomato sauce, beef mince and cheese that make these so ridiculously addictive.

Fried sweetcorn with dashi brown butter at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Fried sweetcorn, dashi brown butter, parsley and furikake $18

Fried sweetcorn involves some serious knifework with each corn cob split into four quarters straight through the core. Butter and cheese on corn is a no-brainer but the addition of dashi and furikake, the seaweed seasoning usually used for sushi rice, lifts the umami intensity to a plate-licking eleven.

Masala fried rice at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Masala fried rice $24
with spiced chicken, curry leaf, crispy skin and garlic chilli toppping

The fried rice tends to change styles regularly. When we visited it was masala, a big hit of curry flavours with prized smithereens of chicken crackling and a bucketload of fried garlic.

Crispy fried chicken wings with tom yum mayonnaise at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Crispy fried chicken wings with tom yum mayonnaise $17

We've almost finished our second round of cocktails by the time the crispy fried chicken wings arrive. These are so crunchy I could weep, except I'm too busy dunking these brittle skinned mid-wings (and yes, they're ALL mid-wings) into a tub of tom yum mayonnaise.

Salt and vinegar eggplant tempura at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Salt and vinegar eggplant tempura $17

And because you can never have too much fried, we finish with salt and vinegar eggplant tempura. These have only a light spray of vinegar on them, but the batter is insanely good. You'd hear the shatter of someone munching on these from the other side of the (noisy) dining room. The eggplant is perfectly squidgy in the middle too.

Hongo Bongo strawberry granita with yoghurt mousse, mochi, watermelon and Calpis sorbet at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Hongo Bongo $16
Strawberry granita, yoghurt mousse, mochi, watermelon and Calpis sorbet

There are four desserts to choose from, including the calorific overload that is Stoner's Delight Part 3 - doughnut ice cream, crispy bacon, peanut and pretzel brittle, Mars bar brownie, potato chips, deep fried Nutella and more - but we go for the lightest one, the Hongo Bongo.

There are strong similarities between this dessert and the previous Namira's Dream, named after Dan's daughter. The Hongo Bongo swaps out fresh strawberries, lychee tapioca and mascarpone mousse for fresh watermelon, mochi and yoghurt mousse. The strawberry granita and the Calpis sorbet features in both.

It's just the palate cleanser you want to finish on, and the mix of textures and temperatures creates different combinations with every spoonful.

Why's it called Hong Bongo? I suspect it has something to do with this...

A post shared by Andrew Levins (@levdawg) on

If you missed the full episode of Mitch Orr's Chef's Night Out on Munchies you can catch it here.

Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney


Ms. G's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ms G's
155 Victoria Street, Potts Point, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9240 3000

Opening hours
Monday to Thursday 5pm-12 midnight
Friday 12pm-3pm and 6pm-11pm
Saturday 12pm-11pm
Sunday 1pm-9pm


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Mr Wong, Sydney

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/09/2017 01:51:00 am


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Penang Cuisine, Epping

Lobak from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney

Never tried lobak? It’s a dish much loved in Penang, and central to any celebration or festival by Straits Chinese. These Malaysian five spice rolls ($6) combine tenderised pork mince with the crunch of water chestnuts, all wrapped up in a beancurd sheet and deep fried to a crisp. They’re one of the house specialties at Penang Cuisine, easily missed in its hidden corner within a modest commercial complex in Epping. And yet this compact 30-seater has a non-stop flow of students, families and couples huddled over steaming bowls of curry laksa, digging into plates of mee goreng fried noodles or squabbling over the last satay chicken skewer.

Penang fried kway teow from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Penang fried kway teow $13.90

Just like the hawker outlets of its namesake, the food here celebrates the cheap and the cheerful in equal measure. Patrons are more than happy to swap out fancy decor and stylised plating for budget-friendly homestyle cooking with generous portions. Penang fried kway teow, for example, is a mammoth serve of slippery flat rice noodles with prawns, fishcake and Chinese lup cheong sausage. It’s all doused in soy and wok-fried over intense heat so you get little charred bits of goodness.

Har mee prawn noodle soup from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Har mee prawn noodle soup $14.90

Har mee prawn noodle soup is all about the broth, a rich and satisfying stock made from prawn heads. Slurp up two kinds of noodles with slices of pork, fishcake, whole prawns, water spinach and boiled egg.

Assam seafood from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Assam seafood $18.90

If you order the Assam seafood make sure you get a serve of plain boiled rice. You’ll need it to soak up that tangy and spicy tomato and tamarind sauce, jam-packed with prawns, fish fillets and calamari.

Cendol from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Cendol $5.50

Don’t leave without having dessert. Cendol is a Penang favourite, a mountain of shaved ice heaped over green pea flour jelly noodles, sweetened red beans and lashings of caramelly gula melaka palm sugar syrup.

If you time your visit right you might hit one of the rotating weekend specials, that include Hainan chicken, assam laksa (mackerel and tamarind noodle soup) and mee rebus (egg noodles in a curry-like gravy).

Spicy fried chicken wings from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Spicy fried chicken wings $6

Lobak, har mee and Penang fried kway teow from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Lobak, har mee and Penang fried kway teow

Ice kacang from Penang Cuisine in Epping Sydney
Ice kacang $5.50
Shaved ice with red beans, creamed corn, grass jelly and palm seeds flavoured with rose syrup, fresh coconut milk and evaporated milk

Penang Cuisine Malaysian restaurant in Epping Sydney


Penang Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Penang Cuisine
Genesis Commercial Building
Shop 32, 74-76 Rawson Street, Epping

Opening hours
Lunch daily 11.30am-2.30pm
Dinner Monday and Wednesday to Sunday 5.30pm-9pm (til 10pm on Friday and Saturday)


This article first appeared in Time Out Sydney. Read this article online or read more of my Time Out Sydney reviews.

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/30/2017 01:14:00 am


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sweet Envy, Hobart

Nutter Butter at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania

Walk into Sweet Envy and you're guaranteed to feel like a kid in a candy store. This pastry shop and cafe is a throw back to all your childhood favourites, all handmade with textbook finesse. That includes the Tim Tam reinvented as the Mit Mat, and the Ro-Vo, a spin-off of the iced Vo-Vo. Classically trained pastry chef Alistair Wise is the mind behind the madness, a Hobart local who worked at Circa, The Prince in Melbourne, before working for Gordon Ramsay in London and New York.

Cupcakes, biscuits, macarons and sweets at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Sweet tooth heaven

Wise returned to Hobart with his wife Teena Kearney-Wise (also a chef) and opened Sweet Envy in 2010. It's hard not to press your nose up against the glass upon first sight of the cake counter.

Joy's Prickly Box cupcakes at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Joy's Prickly Box $4

Jatz pie at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Jatz pie $5.50

Lemon delicious cupcakes at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Lemon delicious $4

Scallop pie at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Scallop pie $9

We started with savouries when we stopped by for lunch, our sights firmly set on their famed scallop pie.

Scallop pie with XO sauce and daikon at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Inside the scallop pie

The scallop pie here diverges from the usual Tasmanian version with curry. Here it's more of an Asian influence, thick chunks of scallop with braised daikon in an XO sauce. The pastry is standout, brilliantly flaky and crisp with visible layers. It provides a pleasing contrast against the soft daikon, its sweet and salty XO flavours not overpowering the flavour of the scallop.

Pork and fennel sausage roll at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Pork and fennel sausage roll $4.50

We also dive into the pork and fennel sausage roll.

Inside the pork and fennel sausage roll at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Inside the pork and fennel sausage roll

It's another messily delicious pastry fest, its golden brown top scattered with fennel seeds. The homemade tomato chutney on the side is a flavour bonus. The filling is noticeably meaty too, without the usual reliance of cheap fillers like bread crumbs and pork fat.

Pecan sticky bun at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Pecan sticky bun $5

Their pecan sticky bun is fast becoming a cult classic, recently named in a list of Australia's Best Dishes of 2016 by Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Pecan sticky bun close-up at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Close-up on the pecan sticky bun

The pecan sticky buns are inspired by Thomas Keller's version at Bouchon. While that one is brioche based, Wise's version here is more of a croissant-like dough. A thick covering of dark caramel is salty and pushed right to the edge of bittersweet. A generous covering of pecans brings it all together. It's super rich and, as promised, very sticky.

Jatz pie at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Jatz pie

We also couldn't resist the Jatz pie.

Jatz pie at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Jatz pie

We're not sure what to expect. It ends up tasting less salty than I thought it would, its filling tasting like a cross between a caramel slice and an American chess pie. It's still hard not to chortle at the Jatz crackers on top. Much fun.

Raspberry rose macarons at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Raspberry rose macarons

In addition to cakes, they have sandwiches on housemade breads. When we visited, fillings included butter poached chicken, slow roast beef, vegetarian and chorizo. Pie fillings include milk braised pork plus a chili recipe based on Elizabeth Taylor's favourite recipe.

A freezer cabinet holds a rainbow of ice creams, all churned daily using the leftover yolks from all those macarons. Flavours change all the time but might include raspberry and rhubarb; chilli, lime and coconut; or pumpkin pie.

Mit mat, the full monty and mint royale at Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania
Mit mat, the full monty and mint royale

Sweet Envy patisserie in Hobart Tasmania


Sweet Envy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sweet Envy
341 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart, Tasmania
Tel: +61 (03) 6234 8805

Opening hours
Tuesday to Saturday 8.30am-5pm


<< Read the first Tasmania 2017 post - Pigeon Hole Bakers, Hobart


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/23/2017 10:42:00 pm



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