Thursday, April 25, 2013

Arisun, Chinatown - Haymarket

Arisun is one of those restaurants where you should have been there by now. At least according to pretty much everyone on my Facebook. I probably have at some point during uni but nowadays it has been a blur. After hearing raves from everyone about Arisun's fried chicken, I gotta check it out soon. One Friday night, we were supposed to have dinner at Chefs Gallery but it was already too full for 5 hungry diners so we headed to Arisun since it was closer to where we were planning to go for karaoke afterwards.  

Complimentary Kim Chi

This restaurant has your usual Korean favourites including your complimentary kim chi and other starters, hot pot, seafood pancake, Korean BBQ and various noodle and rice dishes. We started with the usual complimentary Korean starters including the good ol' fashioned kim chi which wasn't overbearingly spicy that it usually is so I was able to try more pieces than the usual. The guys asked for rice to accompany with some of our dishes and the waiter delivered a huge bowl of rice for everyone to share.

Bowl of rice ($2.00)

The guys were craving for some Korean BBQ beef so we decided to try this as well. It was delivered to us on a hot plate in a similar way to the hot plates I've seen at Chinese take away shops around Haymarket. The waiter poured the beef, onion and other sorts of veggies onto the hot plate where it sizzled intensely. Bits of the hot oil were flying everywhere while we watch the food getting cooked. The beef was lighter, less stodgy and more succulent than the beef I usually get from those Chinese take away shops. I was almost eager to have more than I needed but we have more dishes coming up.

Korean BBQ Beef ($24.00)

One of my favourites that I notice at Korean restaurants was the black bean noodles - also known as Jajangmyeon. It wasn't the prettiest looking dish and it does require some effort with stirring the noodles and the thick, rich sauce together. Despite that, it was still delicious since it was something I have not tried as often. And I enjoyed slurping up these slippery, savoury and slightly sweet noodles. While this meal costs $11, the serving is generous that you can have the whole bowl for yourself at a small price.

Black bean noodles ($11.00)

The guys ordered their share of the black bean noodles but with seafood instead of meat. Also the noodles were already stirred thoroughly before the seafood and veggies were added. Enjoyed this version as it adds variety to the meal rather than just noodles and black bean sauce plus it wasn't as thick and rich as the former. Again, the price is very affordable considering the size of the plate.

Seafood black bean noodles on plate ($13.00)

One of the guys was planning to have this dish all for himself but when we saw it, everyone was so eager to have a piece to the point where I could not get a shot of the full seafood pancake. It was much thinner and a bit less crispy (but not soggy!) than most other seafood pancakes that I've tried but I'm glad it was a lot lighter as we were already starting to get full. The batter did not overpower the pancake so I found this pancake to have a balanced amount of flavours from different ingredients. We finished this off so quickly before we knew it and the guys were still keen for seconds but we still have to wait for the fried chicken.

 Seafood pancake ($13.00) 

And finally it shows up! Here at Arisun, you have the choice of the Original Fried Chicken, Soy, and Sweet and Spicy. Regardless of your choice, the price is $30 where you get an epic load of chicken pieces that I would recommend to share with 4 or more especially if you order heaps of dishes like us. Otherwise, if there is one thing you have to order at Arisun, it has to be this and even then, I would still recommend to bring at least 2 hungry friends to finish off the chicken.

Was it worth the hype? My verdict: it was some damn goooood chicken! Crunchiness was everywhere on these juicy and lightly seasoned chicken pieces. It was delivered in small golden brown chunks but it was enough for us to fill up without getting too bloated. What makes this even better was that it wasn't oily at all despite being fried and incredibly crispy and most of them were boneless pieces so we didn't have to worry about picking too many out. It wasn't the best fried chicken I've ever had (sorry but my heart still goes for Hartsyard's fried chicken) but it's up there for best Korean fried chicken with its succulent batter which got us addicted and compelled to finish every single one of them.

Original Fried Chicken ($30.00)

As it has an outdoor seating area, the atmosphere was very social and enjoyable (we were probably the loudest group that night!) and the staff were generally attentive. Plus the prices were reasonable since we shared all of the dishes. If you are keen for purely Korean cuisine, I'd give this place a go as they do a tremendous job with it. Will come back soon particularly during the colder months as I've heard that Arisun does a mean hot pot. I can understand the appeal for Arisun and their crispy Korean fried chicken and wouldn't mind trying out the other flavours of chicken soon as well as having a shot of soju or two if we're planning to have a crazy night out.

Thought this was real...

1 Dixon Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9264 1588
Arisun on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mejico, Sydney CBD

Around 5 years ago and more, I would have complained that there's not enough Mexican food in Sydney. These days lots of people would be complaining that there's way too much Mexican food in Sydney. Not me, I would say bring it on but I'm biased because I looooooove Mexican food. One night I was stumbling back to the station after a night out at the club and walked past this restaurant just setting up and getting prepared before its grand opening about a week later. Judging by the menu, it looked like something I really want to try. It's also fairly close to work as well as being in the heart of Sydney CBD so it fast tracked itself to nearly the top of my list of places to try during my lunch hour.   

Mejico has an electric, funky and modern feel by its neon pink and black decor and fancy setting. Though it is not cheap like El Loco or Guzman Y Gomez. Looking at the diners, it's seems to be appealing towards the city workers looking for somewhere to meet for a work lunch. Funny enough, it's right next door to Jamie's Italian and its pasta machine and with someone standing at the front making the restaurant's signature blackened corn on the corn grill. Bit of a sneaky move but it makes the impatient and hungry diners happy rather than waiting 60+ minutes for a table at Jamie's. They offer an extensive selection of drinks at the bar and they even use their tequila bottle for the water. Again hilariously sneaky into making you think you are getting free tequila.

Water in a tequila bottle :p

The first thing that attracted me to this restaurant is the tacos. Especially lamb braised shoulder tacos...mmm lamb tacos. And it has gremolata which makes it even better for me (if you like gremolata that is). When it arrived, I was stunned at how small it really is. Really really small actually. If you are keen on coming here and just ordering one set of 3 tacos alone, it will not fill you up. Which is a bit of a bummer since it is $16. Despite that, the smoked lamb tacos were very delicious and incredibly juicy and the filling inside the tortilla is a generous serving. It has a Middle-Eastern taste with the smoky lamb that melts in your mouth, the crumbly gremolata and the zesty mint-infused mayonnaise.

Braised Lamb Shoulder ($16.00)

Still keen for more, I ordered another set of tacos but with pork belly that was smoked for 20 hours (hello to all the pork belly lovers!). The pork belly was cut into thick cubes and was accompanied with black bean hummus and tomatillo salsa on the side. I loved filling the tacos with the salsa as it just gives them a zesty taste. And the meat is so soft, juicy and scrumptious when you bite into it. Very tasty though I wish the tacos were bigger.

Smoked Pork Belly Tacos ($16.00)

So tiny!

Since trying the ceviches at various places like Queenies and Eat Art Truck, I am now a big fan of this colourful, refreshing and reasonably healthy meal. Mejico offers three variants including Pacific scallops, Hiramasa kingfish and Atlantic salmon. I selected the kingfish ceviche mainly for its ingredients including ruby grapefruit, watermelon, pepitas, radish and chilli flakes. These were presented as 4 bite sized treats with the filling laid on a thin and crispy cracker-like tostada. The filling tasted incredible with the colourful ingredients, the softness of the kingfish, the sweetness from the watermelon and the spiciness from the chilli flakes. Once again, my only disappointment was the size of these treats as I was hoping for the ceviche to be presented on a bigger tostada instead of an easy-to-break cracker.

Hiramasa Kingfish Ceviches ($16.00)

When arriving to my table, I immediately noticed the mortle and pestle placed there. Then I spotted a number of nearby diners ordering the signature Market Fresh Guacamole. with plantain chips. With so many restaurants serving guacamole, there must be something special for it to be one of Mejico's signature dishes. Sure enough, it turns out that it is freshly made. And by freshly made, I mean the waitress brings out a tray containing separate bowls of ingredients and makes the guacamole on the spot in front of you.

It was entertaining watching the waitress mixing and mashing the ingredients together to form the guacamole. Hopefully next time there is the option to make the guacamole ourselves to save time and effort for the staff. While it has traditional ingredients like avocado, coriander, Spanish onion and lime juice; there were several unusual ingredients including walnuts, serrano chilli and wasbai (whaaat?!). Despite the couple of odd ingredients, the wasabi and the chilli brought a nice kick to the guacamole as it mostly just tasted like avocado. The plantain chips were much bigger than I expected. These chips were a delightful treat to scoop up heavy chunks of the guacamole rather than the usual corn chips. 

Market Fresh Guacamole ($9.00)

Plantain chips

Recently, I returned to try a few more dishes after a hard morning at work. The other thing that attracted me to Mejico were the Sweet Potato croquettes but knowing how filling they will be, I didn't get to try them back then. The croquetas were golden and crunchy with a soft and sweet potato filling. Thanks to the sweet potato, this side dish ended up being very filling. The manchego cheese inside them tasted quite light that you wouldn't notice that it was there until you pull the croquette apart and watch the cheese drool. While I enjoyed the slightly spicy (possibly chipotle flavoured?) dipping sauce on the side, the spiciness does overpower the cheese when you dip it in. 

Croquetas ($8.00) 

Another signature is the blackened corn that was grilled in a husk as demonstrated at the front of the restaurant as you enter inside. I'd say that the corn is substantial if you order this for yourself or with one other friend and have two pieces each but individually for 4 ppl, it is quite small as well. I am guessing this was one corn cut into 4 equal pieces. As for the taste, I liked the grilled texture as well as the parmesan cheese and garnishes on top of each corn. Having said that, there wasn't much cheese on each corn so the cheese and corn lovers will be disappointed about this.

Blackened corn ($7.00)

By this point, I've realised that most of the food at Mejico has garnishes of fresh parsley on top...

While the majority of diners were office workers, it has the hip atmosphere from the music to the decor which made it vibrant and chic. The service was decent during my visits and I enjoyed the entertainment from seeing the waitress making the guacamole from scratch. In regards to the food, it was a mixed affair for me. Notably, the serving portions for some of the dishes seem small considering the value and it was pricey  I still won't mind coming back again to try the ribs as I've heard how amazing they are as well as the Agave-glazed Caramel Fudge for dessert. With Mejico aiming towards modern Mexican dining with its fancy vibe, this may set the trend in branching the ever-increasingly popular Mexican cuisine to more than just fast street food or yet another addition to a pub/bar menu. Does it work? Well it gets a packed crowd at lunch on a weekday so they must be doing something right.

105 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9230 0119

MĂ©jico on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room, Sydney CBD

A New York style brasserie with a dedicated oysters menu with a bar fronted by celebrity chef Sean Connery (SBS's My Family Feasts). Sounds too good to be true? Well I never been to New York so I cannot compare the both of them. (And heck I wanna go to New York!). Around this time, I have just started my new job at Martin Place and my friends and I have been looking forward to this place for a while mainly for the oysters.   

The Morrison is a fairly spacious restaurant with different areas across the venue including the Oyster Room where you witness the chefs shucking out oysters, the Conservatory where most of the diners were seated which also includes an outdoor dining space, and the Parlour at the back where diners usually chill out and drink at the bar. It was so weird coming to the place formerly known as The Brooklyn Hotel since it used hold an Asian nightclub 'Shanghai Nights' where we used to frequent back in our youth (now at Space but that's for another blog).

We were greeted with a few interesting tidbits notably the faux newspaper which actually consists of the Oyster and Wine menus. It was nice reading through this as it discusses the food vision of The Morrison and how some of their food produce originate. While it shows a detailed list of all of the oysters available at The Morrison, only a small selection of about 2-4 types of oysters are actually available on the night. This is shown on the Oysters board at the back or you can ask your waiter.

We started off with a selection of fresh oysters that were available on the night, which were the Coffin Bay (Pacific Oyster), Merimbula and the Tuross Lake Oysters (both classified as Rock Oysters). I don't know much about oysters but I've noticed the Coffin Bay Oyster being quite light and a tad salty while both of the rock oysters, particularly the Merimbula oyster, had a rich, fuller flavour that stays on your tongue for a while. You can seriously taste the ocean as you slurp the oysters down. This is the real deal! They were served with a wedge of lemon and a small bowl of red wine with eshallots to add to the oyster experience. 

L-R: Tuross Lake, Merimbula, Coffin Bay Oysters ($4 each)

I was particularly keen to try the crab and lettuce tacos mainly for the low carb factor with the use of a lettuce leaf to wrap the filling instead of a flour or corn tortilla and the fact that I am a big fan of crabs (shoot me). When it arrived, I was a bit stunned to see how small it really was. Considering that the price is $17.50 for 3 tacos but I guess it might have something to do with the decent amounts of crab and salmon roe. Nevertheless, it tasted really delicious and refreshing. If you are keen for a light, low-carb snack, this is a good option but they are small servings sizes that I could easily finish in one bite.   

Crab and Lettuce Tacos ($17.50)

The word molasses may not sound appealing but southern fried chicken sure does. Those three words were enough reason for me to order Sean's Chicken Lollipops. While 5 servings may sound like a lot, it's actually quite small so you can easily share a few or eat this on your own. The best bit if of course the crunchy coating as well as the seasoning on the batter which makes these lollipops seriously addictive. For those who are scared of anything spicy, the chilli and molasses dip is actually quite mild. 

Sean's Chicken Lollipops ($16.00)

For some reason, when we hear of duck fat chips, we think of those golden, super-crunchy, teeth-shattering morsels that you would get from Heston's triple cooked chips. When we got it, we were seriously disappointed on the lack of crunchiness. It was actually soft and soggy. Maybe it was a bad day or we were expecting something completely different for duck fat chips. Most likely just our bad luck as I've noticed reviews on other sites which commented how crunchy the chips were. I've tried these chips again on another visit to The Morrison recently. While they weren't triple-cooked chip crunchy, they were much crispier and crunchier than the previous visit.

Duck Fat Chips ($10.00)

We weren't sure what to pick for our mains and ended up with a couple of pasta dishes. I chose the chilli crab linguine purely because of the words chilli crab. While the crab is plentiful and the chilli does give it a good punch, the pasta seemed to also have a bit of cream when I tried it. I wish the cream was mentioned in the ingredients for this item on the menu but the chilli helped a lot to the overall flavour. If you love creamy pasta with seafood, then I would recommend this dish but to be honest I thought it was too much for me to handle. 

Chilli crab linguine ($26.00)

CC decided on the Beef and Lamb Ragu with Paccheri pasta for her main dish (Pacherri pasta is a large, hollow type of short pasta similar to a rigatoni). The ragu was rich and meaty with a slight hint of (parmesan?) cheese as you taste and smell it. The beef and lamb were tender which is a huge plus for this dish. My friend seemed to enjoy it but we were getting full from the other dishes.

Beef and Lamb Ragu with Paccheri pasta ($26.00) 

In terms of customer service, while the staff were friendly they do not refill your water unless you ask them. We went on a Tuesday night and the restaurant was very busy and packed with a buzzing crowd who were mostly office people having dinner with friends or colleagues. There were some decent food like the oysters and the Chicken Lollipops and there were those that ended up being somewhat average. In terms of pricing, it's leaning towards the expensive side and the servings of some dishes like the crab and lettuce tacos were too small to justify the value. While The Morrison has a great restaurant concept with an oyster bar, spacious venue, vibrant atmosphere, New York-style Brasserie charm and a celebrity chef; overall the food seemed to be a hit and miss for us and it will break your budget depending on what you order. Having said that, I still enjoyed the oysters and I'm keen to try their Split Scampi Sashimi ($30.00) or the Split Garlic N Pernod Prawns ($26.00) as I've heard that they are amazing.

The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room
225 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9247 6744
The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Taste of Sydney 2013, Centennial Park

It's that time of the year again. And I'm not just talking about March into Merivale or NSW Wine Festival or Parched March or even the new ArgyleXchange! I'm talking about Taste of Sydney! If you ask me, I think March has become the new Sydney Food Month at least until the Sydney Crave International Food Festival in October arrives. If you have not been there, it's an annual festival where you create your own degustation by checking out the participating restaurants and sampling some of their food.

At Taste of Sydney, the food are priced as crowns which are basically $1 = 1 crown with the majority of dishes ranging between 6 to 12 crowns. Many of the restaurants also offer Icon dishes for a higher price (some as high as 36 or 40 crowns!) and limited quantities. While crowns used to be stored as coupons in previous year, in 2013 they decided to store crowns digitally into a Crown card similar to a credit/debit card. I actually liked this method better because I kept losing some of my Crown coupons last year. Also at the end of the festival this year, I finally finished with 0 crowns remaining!

This year, my schedule was a bit more restrictive due to work and CC's very unpredictable birthday plans. Eventually we found the right times to check it out while it's still on. Anyway enough ranting and raving. What has this year's Taste of Sydney offered?

 Well The Four in Hand has brought back the spit-roast pig!

As of 2013, Taste of Sydney has been operating for 5 years (where has the time gone?) and it is stronger than ever with well known restaurants like Porteno, Four in Hand, Sake Restaurant and Three Blue Ducks getting involved in delivering some of their nourishing dishes to the hungry masses. There is also a pop-up Malaysian Kitchen featuring Malaysian restaurants like Ipoh on York (Thurs and Fri), The Malaya (Sat) and Jackie M (Sun) as well as demonstrations from Jackie M herself and Masterchef Season 1 runner up Poh Ling Yeow. There is even a pop-up Destination Dining area featuring restaurants from regional NSW including Biota Dining from Bowral (Thurs and Fri), Jonah's from Whale Beach (Sat) and Muse Dining from Hunter Valley (Sun).

Some delicacies at the Malaysian Kitchen
A cute little garden at the Sustainable Living Area 

There were tastings from various exhibitors ranging from wine, cheese, dips and olive oil producers to dessert businesses. One of the more crowded stands that I've noticed was the Salt Meats Cheeses stand (its shop is based in Alexandria next door to The Grounds of Alexandria) where there were tastings for various meats and cheeses or a combinations of both. Definitely will check out the store next time I head to The Grounds.

Saw this great lump of ham at the Salt Meats Cheeses stand

One of the most recognisable feature areas of the last few years at Taste of Sydney was the Rekorderlig Cider tent where you can purchase drinks or chill out and soak up the atmosphere on a bean bag or a fold up chair with a plate of food. Very refreshing though the cider drinks got us bloated very quickly. Something that I would recommend after trying out as much food as you can handle.

Rekorderlig Strawberry Lime Cider
The Rekorderlig Cider Tent

On my first visit, I was too full to try out the food at the Argyle Stall where it hosts three restaurants from Argyle Street at The Rocks: Ananas Bar and Brasserie, The Cut Bar and Grill and Sake Restaurant. When we attended the final session on Sunday, we arrived too late as most of the dishes at this stall has sold out! Thankfully the one I was keen to try out was still available which was the Salted Caramel Eclair by Ananas Bar and Brasserie. I've heard so much praise about it on instagram and other food blogs and it really is worth the hype. What makes this dish was the huge chunk of creamy salted caramel custard oozing out of the choux pastry as well as the slab of salted caramel on top. Also it didn't taste as salty which is what I preferred.

 Salted Caramel Eclair (6 crowns) - FAVE

Claude's is one of the new entries in Taste of Sydney this year where they deliver French cuisine with a Chinese-Malaysian twist though the restaurant have been around in Paddington for a while by now. They delivered some nice treats but one that stood out for me was the Slow Braised Pork Cheek and Black Fungus Relish rolls. It may not sound too appealing but it does deliver on image and taste. Thought that the bun was fluffy and sweeter than I expected. 

Slow Braised Pork Cheek and Black Fungus Relish rolls (6 crowns)
Confit Ocean Trout, Saltbush, Anchovy Dashi (12 crowns)
Lemon Curd, Muscovado Crumb, Coffee Meringues (6 crowns)

Last year, Efendy won the Best in Taste Award for their Traditional charcoal BBQ lamb and veal kebap, smoked eggplant and Chobani Greek yoghurt. This year, they offered two dishes with similar ingredients as the 2012 award winning dish. Lots of smoke came from the charcoal spits at this stand which produced a very tempting meaty smell around the area. The Ilci Kofte aka lamb shoulder and walnut stuffed Bulgar shell with yoghurt and chilli oil was very appetising but I thought there was too much yoghurt covering the remaining ingredients. CC tried the Cha Begendy which was tender and perfectly cooked and seasoned. At this point, we were in the middle of eating these delicious offerings when the wind got too strong and the dust from the bin nearby us flew onto us and we weren't too keen to eat them anymore. Damn you strong winds.

Left: Cha Begendy - Scotch fillet cha kebap on charcoal spit, eggplant and kashar puree (6 crowns)
 Right: Ilci Kofte - Lamb shoulder and walnut stuffed Bulgar shell with yoghurt and chilli oil (12 crowns)

Popolo was on my wish list for a while mainly for its Fregola dish. While Italian food is everywhere in Sydney, very few places offer dishes containing Fregola pasta, which is a type of Sardinian pasta. The fact that this came with saffron and suckling pig ragu is enough to seal the deal for me. Yum!
This year, this dish was awarded the Third Prize for Best in Taste 2013 and well deserved too. This heart-warming dish was mouth watering and every ingredient just melts on your tongue. I was so sad when I finished this dish as it was so good. There seriously needs to be more places serving Fregola pasta in Sydney.

Saffron infused toasted Fregola Pasta with Suckling Pig Ragu (10 crowns) - FAVE

If there is any restaurant that has been attending Taste of Sydney for as long as I can remember, it has to be Longrain Restaurant which seems to be appearing on each year's restaurant lineup since I first attended the festival in 2010. I'm guessing it's because of it's the one restaurant where you get the option to try both the food and drinks at its nearby bar stand. This year, Longrain was the runner-up for Best in Taste for its Turmeric chicken with rice noodles, wild ginger and Thai basil. The noodles were very slippery that when CC tried it, a bit of the sauce fell onto her blouse! Thought that the taste was quite strong with the turmeric and ginger flavours throughout this dish.  

Turmeric chicken with rice noodles, wild ginger and Thai basil (8 crowns)

It is no surprise that Porteno won the first prize for Best in Taste this year for their BBQ Wagyu Brisket with BBQ sauce and Pickle. Not only did they gain enough recognition and praise before signing up for the festival; they deliver seriously good Argentinian BBQ food like the infamous 8 hour Woodfired Pig. Unfortunately that wasn't at Taste of Sydney but what they did deliver was just as amazing. Also the queues at Porteno were crazy but quick. Here, you see the head chefs Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate and their crew cooking up on a stove shaped as a steam train called 'Jack the Ribber'. How cool is that? 

I'm a sucker for chorizo and chimmichurri salsa. Plus I have tried Porteno's version of chimmichurri salsa at the restaurant which tasted amazing. While it looked a bit more boring than the other dishes, it is quite juicy and more tender than some of the chorizo sausages I've had at some Spanish restaurants 

Chorizo with Chimmichurri (6 crowns)

Now for the award winning Wagyu brisket yummm! There was the slices of Wagyu brisket cut piled onto a heap of coleslaw with a pickle on the side. The texture of the meat was incredibly soft to the point that it falls apart as you chew it. It also tasted amazing with the smokey homemade BBQ sauce. Plus the coleslaw and pickle helped in balancing the meaty flavours. It is no wonder this dish won the Best in Taste Award. It would be a bigger surprise if they did not win any awards at Taste this year.

BBQ Wagyu Beef Brisket with BBQ Sauce and Pickle (12 crowns) - FAVE

We spent a great amount time Four in Hand/4Fourteen this year. Once again, the crowds gather for the roasted suckling pig on the spit which is one of Four in Hand's signatures. I wanted to try the Crumbed Pigs Tail but it sold out pretty quickly. Initially I wasn't sure if I wanted to try the suckling pig since I had almost the same meal last year so I chose the Spring Bay Mussels with Chorizo and Prosciutto broth after seeing the chefs making the mussels in a paella-sized pan. There was so much large-sized mussels piled into a small bowl. I was not too sure if it was as well-cooked as I would have liked but it still tasted plump and juicy. There wasn't much chorizo or prosciutto but I loved the savoury broth.

Spring Bay Mussels with Chorizo and Prosciutto broth (10 crowns)

Eventually I gave in because that damn pig looks sooo delicious. While it was very similar to last year's Four in Hand's suckling pig dish, this year it was served with roasted potato on the side instead of onion rings. Oh my gosh this was just as good as Porteno's wagyu beef brisket. The incredibly tender meat tasted amazing especially with the hot sauce and the coleslaw. I cannot get enough of this. To be honest, I'm surprised this dish has not won any awards at Taste this year or even last year (can't remember who came second or third last year for Best in Taste). One of my favourite dishes at Taste last year and once again, a stand out for me this year.

Spit Roasted Suckling Pig with Coleslaw and Hot Sauce (12 crowns) - FAVE

CC was looking forward to this dish the most so we ordered this as well at the Four in Hand stall. I didn't think it looked like white chocolate nor did it look like an ice cream sandwich. But it was still yummy. It was sweet, not too creamy and tasted more like caramel or honeycomb. I also loved the crumbly topping on the ice cream. Loved this heavenly dessert so much that I was almost eager to eat the whole thing instead of sharing it with my mate.

4Fourteen White Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich (6 crowns) - FAVE

We didn't end up trying out the food at Kitchen by Mike but we did notice the unique, DIY layout of their stand. They ended up winning the award for Best Front of House Display. This is no surprise as the display does have a sustainable and relaxing vibe with decor consisting of pots of plants and a red scooter that I'm sure the young and the young at heart would love to ride on. 

One restaurant that I've been hearing a lot over the last year was Three Blue Ducks from Bronte whom I first heard when they did the Friday night Sustainable Pop-Up at Taste of Sydney last year. When CC and I arrived, we saw a familiar face and eventually realised it was Andy, the winner of Masterchef 2012! We didn't end up getting a picture though. We weren't sure if he's working with TBD or just helping out (especially since there were many past contestants of Masterchef and MKR looking after various stalls at Taste of Sydney) but either way it was pretty cool spotting him there. The dessert here was a mouthful of tastes from the creamy yuzu curd to the smooth dark chocolate, the crumbly butterscotch and the zesty citrus on the plate. It was a pretty rich dessert to handle but every element on this dish is just one surprise after another for your taste buds.

Chocolate, Yuzu Curd and Miso Butterscotch (6 crowns) 
Samples of Braised Pork, Radish, Lemon Vebena Caramel (10 crowns)

We were really really stuffed and it was close to closing time but we wanted to find a way to use up the final crowns. Plus we haven't tried anything from The Woods Restaurant yet. This is owned by Hamish Ingham who is also currently running Bar H and Grain Bar. Very busy guy! We were eager to try the Chocolate Swiss Roll mainly because of our love for chocolate. The quality and texture was so much better than your average swiss roll with the rich chocolate combining with the creamy mint ice cream and the sweet juiciness from the cherry.

Chocolate Swiss Roll with Cherry and Native Mint Ice Cream (8 crowns)

And what's Taste of Sydney without the celebrity chefs! You can see many of them wandering around or giving cooking tips at demonstrations on stage like at the Bertolli Taste Kitchen, Malaysia Kitchen, Dilmah's Chef Skillery and Tasmanian Pavillion. 

Somer Sivrioglu (Efendy) at Bertolli Taste Kitchen 
Colin Fassnidge (Four in Hand/4Fourteen) demonstrates... 
how to butcher...
a suckling pig!
Hamish Ingham (The Woods) at Bertolli Taste Kitchen

Hamish Ingham's very tasty finished product. He said it is currently unavailable at his current restaurants but he hopes to bring it out soon. Fingers crossed!
Kylie Kwong (Billy Kwong) at the Tasmanian Pavillion

Sadly it's over for another year. As always, this has been an amazing and fulfilling experience in tasting the brilliant dishes that some of Sydney restaurants offer. Poor CC was temporarily sick of sweet food and was craving for something savoury after the festival. And my weight survived at the food festival for once! Can't wait for Taste of Sydney to come back next year.

Disclaimer: The Random Foodie attended Taste of Sydney (Sunday session) courtesy of Jennifer from Jenius. Many thanks for the double entry pass! Everything else including entry to Thursday evening session was paid independently. 

Hi Manu!

Taste of Sydney
Centennial Park