Categories
Asian Fusion Café Japanese

Devon – Surry Hills NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I are big fans of Dopa – Devon’s offshoot donburi restaurant in Darling Square. We’ve been going regularly over the past few months, however it had been a long time since we had dined at the mothership in Surry Hills.

We went suckered in by pictures of uni laden foods on instagram, and I made my partner promise me that she would let us leave and eat somewhere else if they had run out (as is often the case at Dopa, I’m sick of being baited and switched).

We dined on a Sunday morning in an empty restaurant, much different to how it was like when we had last dined in 2019. As predicted, they were out of uni, however a craving for a pork katsu sandwich prevented us from leaving.

My partner had a matcha latte while I, as an inferior Asian, had an iced matcha soy latte. While I can’t speak for my partner’s drink, I can say that my iced matcha soy latte was not as good as the one that I had at 101kissa. There was just something so powdery and nice about the iced matcha soy lattte from 101kissa, whereas this one was a weird blend of sweet and bitter that didn’t tickle my tastebuds in quite the right way.

Devon’s pork katsu sando ($16) is cut into two portions and served in a cardboard box. The sauce is spread evenly through the sandwich, which is a selling point, however this is where the compliments end. I felt that the pork itself was not as juicy or tender as in the pork katsu sandwich I had at Cafe Kentaro. I also felt that the sandwich was overbreaded, with the bread to filling ratio too great, adding an unneeded and unwanted blandness to the taste. The size and construction of the sandwich halves were also inferior to the three pieces at Kentaro, and made the sandwich difficult to eat.

While Devon’s pork katsu sando probably stands fine on its own to a person who has never had a good pork katsu sando, it fails in comparison to that at Kentaro, a few kilometres away.

I didn’t enjoy the salted egg yolk cheesy curly fries ($13). Perhaps it’s because we’ve had just so much salted egg yolk foods in the past few weeks that I’m sick of it, but I think the more likely reason is that these chips were oily but dry. Their thinness did not help, as the higher surface area to volume ratio increased the radiative heat loss from the food, making them too cool and yucky too quickly.

My partner ordered the omurice with salmon sashimi in ponzu sauce. We were quite surprised to find that the omurice was served separately to the salmon. The salmon was cold but the omurice was warm. While the omurice itself was quite delicious with its mushroomy gravy, I don’t think it really worked as a combination. I wonder if it’s the responsibility of the wait staff to sway you away from bad choices. Either way, that was not what happened here. What happened here was a thoroughly noncohesive dish.

I’m sad to say that I didn’t really enjoy our trip to Devon. While I love their rice bowls at their Haymarket offshoot Dopa, our trip back to the mothership was disappointing.

Devon Cafe
76 Devonshire St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9211 8777

Categories
Japanese

Peter’s Seafood – Pyrmont NSW Restaurant Review

We went to the Sydney Fish Markets after already having had brunch, and having made this mistake nothing really tickled our fancy.

We ended up at Peter’s Seafood’s sashimi bar. On display are pieces of seafood, sold by the kilogram and sliced to order for either takeaway or eating in on their disgusting unwiped tables. Wasabi and soy sauce incur an extra fee.

We had some kingfish sashimi ($70/kg) and toothfish sashimi ($100).

The kingfish sashimi was fresh. The cuts unfortunately not very even, and the thicker slices were much less appealing.

The toothfish sashimi was just a bad idea. Toothfish is one of my favourite fishes to eat cooked, however eating it as sashimi just doesn’t bring out the best parts of the fish. Sashimi toothfish has the same flaky texture as cooked toothfish, but instead of being good it is bad. The fish was quite chewy, and we each only had two pieces before throwing the rest away for the pigeons. Just not good.

Peter’s Seafood
Shop 4 On the Waterfront,Sydney Fish Market, Pyrmont NSW 2009
(02) 9552 2555

Peter's Seafood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Categories
Chinese

JC Dragon Fusion – Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

When you think about Asian Fusion cuisine you normally think about Asian inspired meals cooked with a mixture of both Asian and European cooking techniques. JC Dragon Fusion in Parramatta flips any such expectations on their heads and serves Chinese food fused with Chinese, cooked with the traditional Chinese techniques of steaming, boiling, deep frying, and stir frying.

Let’s go back in time to before you had seen the above photo. I want you to close your eye and picture for me “steamed prawn and pork dumplings” ($8.80). Now open your eyes. Is this what you imagined?

While Chinese-literate punters would immediately recognise the 燒賣 on the menu as shaomai, the English listing of this item on the menu leads in and traps members of the Asian Fusion diaspora like myself. As shaomai these are pretty good, in no way better or worse than you would get from your regular yum cha restaurant. As dumplings they are a bit lacking.

The pork ribs with black bean sauce ($8.80) was exactly as you’d picture them, though I felt that they did not have such a strong black bean flavour as the shadows cast by pork ribs with black bean sauce of past.

Ever the intrepid explorer, my girlfriend saw a distant table enjoying an aromatic hot pot with their lobster meal, and asked if we could have the same sans lobster. The traditional free range chicken hot pot ($39.80) is not generally offered on the menu, and I’m pretty sure the owner just made up a price for it on the spot. It features half a raw free range chicken (also known as a chicken who walks in Chinese), which is boiled at the table in an aromatic bak kut teh like broth. I thought that the soup tasted and smelled good, however did not find that the chicken added very much at all. The chicken was a skinny triathelete chook, cut up with lots of bones included inside the chicken, making it quite difficult to get any actual meat. Though a large portion I did feel that spending $40 on this presumably more legitimate bak kut teh did not provide much better a result than $5 bak kut teh packet mix soup. My girlfriend stuck to her guns and said she enjoyed it but I wouldn’t get it again.

VERDICT

JC Dragon Fusion Restaurant’s only claim to fusion may be that it fuses yum cha lunch items and dinner items into an all day menu. I do appreciate the availability of dim sum for dinner, and can therefore recommend paying them a visit if you do too.

4 yums/5 chas

JC Dragon Fusion
Shop 4/115 Church St, Parramatta NSW 2150
(02) 9635 8333

Categories
Bakery

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts – Haymarket NSW Cafe Review

My quick, three line opinion. of the Short Stop in Darling Square is that their donuts are quite good but the inside of their donuts can be a bit bready and boring. Not every donut is good, but also not every donut is bad. Their strength is in their variety and their location.

Short Stop Coffee & Donuts
15 Little Hay St, Haymarket NSW 2000
0499 366 883

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Categories
Asian Fusion Fine Dining Modern Australian

Odd Culture – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

Fermented things have recently and unfortunately become my enemy, and so naturally one of my last dines of the year was had at one of Newtown’s newest wine bars with a focus on cultured and fermented foods.

The Beer Bread ($5 for 3 pieces) was your classic house-made sourdough with salted cultured butter. It wasn’t mindblowing, but it did actually have a bit of a beery flavour to it, which made it many times more interesting than yet another bread. And a soft, salted butter and bread is always a winning combination.

The delightfully small and expensive fish on toast ($10 each) was an interesting and probably South East Asian inspired mouthful of mango and fish. The toast base was extremely buttery, with a mouthfeel that reflected its many unseen layers. The scallop sashimi, as well as possibly some other white fish, was soft and sweet, and complimented by the soft ripe mango. The jalapeno advertised was not easily found. This was a really great snack, but I wish it were a bit larger or a bit less expensive.

The beef tartare ($20) was a bit different to the normal formed slab of raw meat, instead in this mixed in with puffed rice and seasonings. Herbs were used to great effect in this dish, imparting a unique flavour. It was however a little bit physically difficult to eat, and a bit of cracker would’ve gone a long way.

Recently burned by a $12 fermented tomato, I was a bit hesitant and wary about the tomato dish, ($22). It turned out however that I was foolish in my concern, as one taste of this tomato dish was able to justify their price. The tomato in this dish was fresh but umami, and delightfully sour but also tempered by the creamy soy milk yoghurt on top. It was an unexpected but wonderful fresh type dish, even suitable for vegan-types.

The chicken liver pate ($16) was really good. I particularly enjoyed the thick cut and lightly salted potato crisps, which had such an amazing crunch that is probably better than any other potato crisp I’ve ever had. They had the perfect size and structural integrity to scoop up (probably too many) gobs of rich, silky smooth chicken liver pate and deliver them to my mouth. The fish sauce caramel base was inventive and delicious, and while my girlfriend didn’t like this dish she was wrong. I only wish that these same chips could’ve been available to scoop up the beef tartare.

The blood pancake ($26) with pork jowl, fried egg, and maple syrup was much sweeter than I thought it would be. Looking at the photo and ingredients list you would likely imagine a savoury dish, but the truth of the matter was that even if the pancake had been savoury in and of itself, the swimming pool of maple syrup would’ve taken care of that. Despite the pork jowl and blood, the pancake was ultimately only a little bit savory, the majority of the flavour coming from the maple syrup which soaked through the entire cake. While I did enjoy the interesting texture, I think ultimately this leaned too much into the sickly sweet side of the flavour scale.

The koji roasted chicken ($42) was good but not a revelation. Juicy, succulent and tender, the chicken was well cooked, with a koji-miso flavour. I didn’t realise that there was congee in the dish, which I am only just seeing now looking at the photo. That might have added something to the experience, but really (and my girlfriend will attest to this) I can cook something similar and not spend $42 doing it.

This semifreddo ($16) with black sesame and white chocolate was very good. Specific details escape me but even the bed of crumbs was delicious.

The panna cotta ($14) with fig leaf and blueberry was visually interesting but orally mediocre. A good choice if you like juicy stewed berries, but a boring choice if you can choose the semifreddo instead.

COMMENTS
Overall I quite enjoyed our meal at Odd Culture. Many of the dishes were very good, and even the least good dishes were at least OK. I’d probably not go again until their menu changes, but could recommend it to a colleague or friend. The chairs were sadly not comfortable.

Odd Culture Newtown
266 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8317 3057