Asian Fusion Café Chinese

STIX – Marrickville NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I have been eating a lot of good food recently, much to the disappointment of my healthcare team and our mortgage deposit. This morning’s late start for my partner found us at STIX, a farm to table café with a much appreciated all-day menu.

We started with the potato hash ($8). I couldn’t stop her. For what it’s worth, these were great. These were extremely buttery and luscious, multi-layered with a thin crispy of an exterior and a soft interior. Pretty tasty.

The smoked trout rillettes ($24) with fennel and kohlrabi remoulade, celery, pickled eschallot, apricot jam and sourdough toast was next. I enjoyed the taste and texture of this dish, as something I could not dream of making myself. The base of sourdough bread was nice and crusty, with good structural integrity and able to carry the weight of its toppings with ease. The brightness, freshness and crunchiness of the celery was excellent with the more creamy textures of the remoulade and trout rillette. The taste and texture of the rillette, something difficult to make or find outside of a restaurant, were both good, and a reasonable volume was provided with our order.

The poached egg was comically small, though we do understand that when you’re raising the hens yourself there is a spectrum of eggs produced, and it’s not possible to only have 58 gram eggs. Unfortunately the small size of our poached egg may have contributed to its overcooking – I have no photos but it was 0% runny compared to what a normal poached egg is.

The last thing to mention would be the apricot jam, which was just a little bit sweet but added so much to the overall flavour of the dish, complimenting the saltiness and savouriness of the rest of the meal. My partner particularly liked that it was dolloped on in discrete bits, so that some mouthfuls would have some sweetness and others would not.

The very good chicken and sweetcorn congee ($21) was a dish that I felt I could probably make at home, and am in fact probably ethnically and genetically obliged to make at home at some point. It was a really tasty and hot bowl of congee, with a bit of spiciness from some tamari chilli relish, some sweetness from the corn, some ginger, and some saltiness from what I presume is just plain salt. The texture of the rice was very nice and soft, and has prompted me to freeze a bit of washed and soaked rice in my freezer just now so that I can make something similar soon. The chicken was not particularly plentiful, with a shredded grocery store rotisserie chicken kind of quality (though I do not mean to defame – I’m sure it was much fancier than this), but enough for enjoyment. This was ultimately a simple but very well executed dish, one that will inspire me to be a better Asian this week.

I made my partner wait a full twelve minutes after the end of our meal to decide if she still wanted this tea and toast croissant ($9.50). $9.50 is a lot to pay for a croissant. I thought that the earl grey tea cream filling of the croissant was plentiful in volume, but sadly not so in taste. It felt highly calorie dense, fatty and thick, but without the taste payoff that such expenditure should entail. I would’ve much preferred a stronger earl grey taste in this situation, preferably also without as much volume of cream. Filling aside, the marmalade glaze on this croissant was enjoyable, although in my imaginations of Beverly and Betty tea and toast diets (I am, for these six months, a geriatric medicine advanced trainee after all) I had always assumed it was plain toast straight out of the toaster that they were eating. I doubt you would get too malnourished if this croissant were your staple meal.

I don’t know how I feel about a place that only takes card, with a mandatory card surcharge for all payments. It feels like any mandatory, unavoidable surcharge should be built into the menu price from the start, but I guess the gods of the ACCC disagree with me. Pretty good food. Worth a visit.

20 Chapel St, Marrickville NSW 2204
(02) 9550 2772

Asian Fusion Café Japanese

Koku Culture – Ashfield NSW Restaurant Review

Koku Culture is home to one of the best brunches I’ve had all year. I’ve never been shy about my love of Japanese-fusion breakfast and brunch foods, and Koku Culture’s tiny Ashfield store fits the bill completely.

The Torched Confit Ora King Salmon Fillet with 63 degree egg ($24+$2) was sublime. Ora King Salmon is always a treat, featuring a rich oiliness and delicate mouthfeel far beyond your average grocery store Tasmanian Atlantic salmon. I try to order some Ora King salmon every now and then from the popular online fish delivery services, and even when cooked inexpertly by me at home the difference is noticeable. Koku Culture’s torched confit king salmon fillet definitely lived up to expectations – tender inside with a slight char on the outside reminiscent of aburi sushi. The miso dressing was tasty but not overpowering, and the green tea soba salad surprisingly refreshing, especially with the egg (a $2 supplement but important) and miso mixed in. This has to be a must-order dish from Koku Culture.

This Crispy Rice Cheeseburger ($15) with Chips and their secret sauce was also fantastic, but in a completely different way to the salmon. Where the salmon felt clean and healthful, this was perfect in terms of sheer debauchery. The rice “buns” were perfectly cirspy and fried out the outside, with a light but slightly sticky texture on the inside – a bit “QQ” as we would call it in terms of Chinese food. The seafood was similarly crispy, enjoyable and not merely for decoration. I opted for an extra patty ($5)(probably wasn’t necessary in this case, and I’d just stick with a single patty in the future) , and both beef patties were cooked to a delicious level of juiciness, mixed in with their special sauce and fresh lettuce. Even the chips were good.

The matcha affogato, which I can’t see on their menu any more, was pretty OK. The ice cream was good, the coffee was black. Mixed together it remained a bit black for my taste.

That’s a good Matcha Brownie right there.

I enjoyed Koku Culture. Definitely worth a visit, but make sure you budget in some time for the queue outside.

These guys are now closed forever, before the publication of this review. This is part of why I’ve pushed this review far into the future in terms of scheduling – they’re not going to get more dead. Hopefully Kenji Okuda and Donna Chau can bless us once again something good.

Koku Culture
1/355 Liverpool Rd, Ashfield NSW 2131
0402 697 475

Asian Fusion Dessert

Duo Duo – Roselands NSW Restaurant Review

I wanted to try Duo Duo’s social media hyped Asian-inspired ice cream and desserts for some time, especially as they’re quite close to where I’m currently living, but left sad and disappointed after a moderate wait in wet, cold, and dark conditions.

It’s hard to explain why exactly the things that I tried at Duo Duo didn’t tickle my fancy, but the Pandan Coconut Kaya Filled Donut ($6.50) just didn’t do it for me. I’m certainly not a pandan hater, some of my best friends are pandas, but I think what hurt this the most was more the odd sticky-but-pasty consistency of the icing rather than anything else. Such a weird feeling in my mouth.

The brown butter and caramelised apple deep fried ice cream was actually my first ever experience with deep-fried ice cream, being I think more an American-Chinese restaurant invention than an actual traditional Chinese dessert. The ice cream was quite sweet for my taste, and I didn’t love the batter, though I think that’s probably more of a problem with the format rather than the execution, and I wouldn’t have this again. 

I really wanted to like Duo Duo, but I just didn’t. I think I will try and go back and give it another shot this year, since I live so close by, but I will leave the above thoughts up online regardless of what I find on my next visit.

Asian Fusion Café

Il Locale – Berry NSW Restaurant Review

I had a very difficult time trying to actually get here within their opening hours to have this meal, but I’m glad I was able to. Sadly I came after my last in a run of night shifts, only able to catch the breakfast menu. The following fortnight I woke up from my nap too late to catch the lunch menu. Such is life.

This chilli prawn scramble ($22) was seriously good. It was the only thing on their breakfast menu that really caught my eye (the lunch menu has a number of options that I guess I’ll never have the chance to eat) so I almost didn’t go in, but I’m glad I did and I got to eat it. The scrambled egg was sweet and soft, with a very generous serving of large, juicy, and sweet prawns. The kimchi and pickles were bright and flavourful, working together with the protein to create a highly umami-filled dish. The topping to bread ratio was perfect, and again I can’t emphasise the generous serving size of all the important parts, without too much unnecessary carb (sourdough). I wasn’t the biggest fan of the tumeric mayo, and thought that it was better without it, but I’m glad that it was placed essentially on the side as I guess some people might like it more than me.

In short: A great scrambled egg on toast. I suspect their lunch offerings might be just as good, but sadly the opening hours just don’t work for me. I doubt I’ll be able to make it at an appropriate time over the next month in the Shoalhaven area.

Il Locale
85 Queen St, Berry NSW 2535
(02) 4464 3355

Asian Fusion Café Japanese

Bloc145 – Redfern NSW Restaurant Review

Some restaurants deserve a wholeheartedly lukewarm response, and in my opinion Block145, a cafe we drove half an hour to eat at, is one of them.

We were tempted by the Salmon Okonomiyaki ($20) and a desire to relive some good meals we had overseas. Unfortunately the gap between expectation and reality was quite large in this dish. While the grilled salmon was well cooked with a crispy skin, that was the first and last superlative of the meal. The okonomiyaki itself I found disappointing, with a high flour content. It was sadly not what I was looking for.

After a recent success at Cafe Mckenzie in Randwick we decided to go for yet another Toastie with truffle oil, honey, and parmesan ($14). Sadly this particular toastie was far less exciting than the benchmark set by its competitor, with no great feeling of substance to it. It was quite small, and I would have much rathered more toastie than a salad I didn’t ask for.

These crispy smashed potatoes ($10) continued our breakfasts’ trend of being completely unsatisfying. I don’t really see what made them crispy or smashed. They really were essentially regular roast potatoes with a sprinkling of salt.

Pictured above, a photo of a bloody mary that I did not have. My partner did.

I’m sad about my trip to Bloc145. Their menu has so many wonderful looking items I am left wondering if I simply chose the wrong things, or if my experience would have been like this regardless of what I chose. I wouldn’t go back.

145 Redfern St, Redfern NSW 2016
0403 655 661