Categories
Bakery Japanese Korean

Bakemono Bakers – Melbourne VIC Restaurant Review

It was a true crime that I was only allowed to try two things at Bakemono, because both things were good and there was therefore a high likelihood that any third thing would’ve been good as well.

This blueberry & custard danish ($7) was just delicious, with a large heaping of juicy blueberries and just the right amount of sweetness in the custard and pastry to put it into the prime zone. The soft custard, crispy exterior pastry and cloud-like interior pastry all conspired to make a great little treat.

The honey, sesame, and sea salt scroll ($4.50) was also good, though not as perfect as the above mentioned danish. I enjoyed the sweet and sticky honey coating, which had a distinctly Korean feel to it, especially together with the sesame seeds. Though honeyed, the good combination of sweetness and saltiness makes this a scroll not merely for dessert fans, but all bread fans in general.

OVERALL With only a little bench outside for seating, Bakemono serves up delicious little pastries with a Korean and Japanese inspiration without the long wait of a certain Fitzroy-based bakery. Though their selection is limited, I would definitely suggest this place as worth a little swing-by for bready breakfast, maybe to be eaten on the State Library lawn.

Bakemono Bakers
273 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Categories
Bakery Café Korean

Tenacious Bakehouse – Darlinghurst NSW Restaurant Review

I’ve been trying to arrange an all-purpose wedding and interview suit for a few weeks now, a process that has involved several trips into the city, with at least one more to come. On my first trip into the big smoke I wanted to try one of Yeongjin Park’s (ex-Lode) famous pastries at Picco Leo, however arrived there only to find that he had left the previous week, with his specialties off the menu and probably never to return. It was a dark period for the pastry community, with us adherents left in limbo as he moved his operation from the CBD to his new Darlinghurst digs, Tenacious Bakehouse.

I was able to visit Tenacious Bakehouse as a bit of a sidequest from my second of three attendances at SuitSupply. Incredibly small and nondescript, I actually walked past it and around the block through some garbage-smelling alleys before I was able to find what I was looking for.

This Portuguese Tart ($12) was the only thing that I knew I wanted before I went. I’m generally someone who enjoys a Portuguese tart, and this had come highly recommended by some of the city’s top pastryheads (though not the top pastryhead, who I believe is yet to go). Tenacious Bakehouse’s Portuguese Tart has a super-crispy multi-layered pastry, with a deep cup accommodating a huge mass of runny eggy custard. The egg custard filling was softer and runnier than your usual pastel de nata, but not to its detriment, just different. It was not too sweet, one of the defining positive characteristics of any Asian-influenced dessert or pastry. While I enjoyed the unexpected crispiness of the pastry, I did feel that the pastry got a bit bitter towards the edges. It’s certainly baked to a dark brown, as you can see from the photos, and I think probably a little darker than most normal food is baked. Was the pastry a bit burnt? Was it a bit of over-enthusiastic caramelisation? Was it completely intentional? I don’t know, I’m not an expert. Either way, it was easily overlookable, and didn’t really detract from the overall positive experience.

The Pork Mandu ($10) was actually very good. It was like a three-way cross between a croissant, one of those Maltese pastizzi things filled with ricotta and spinach from the freezer aisle at the supermarket, and a Chinese pork bun. (Understanding totally that this is a Korean bakery with Korean staff and literally told to be to be Korean in inspiration by the very nice Korean woman manning the counter, I just haven’t had that many mandus in my time to reference back to, and none that have tasted like this). The pastry here was absolutely top tier, soft, flaky, delicate, oily, and buttery. There was no suspicion of burning, only a sense of suspicion about how they managed to make bread and butter into something so good. The filling was delicious mix of pork and vegetables, with plenty of moistness and rich and savoury umami flavour. Officially/unofficially it was described as a big dumpling, and I love dumplings. I approve of this message.

Next was the extremely unassuming and unattractive Red Bean Pandoro ($10), also recommended to me because I look like I enjoy a good Asian snack. I think the majority of disfigurement comes from the surface layer dusting of yellow powder (I think it might be soy based, I have asked for further clarification – EDIT: Scarlett replied, it is injeolmi based, a Korean rice cake covered in red or mung or azuki or other bean powder), which fills in the Viennoiserie’s natural crevasses. Never having had a pandoro in my life and knowing what they are only from a quick Google, I think I would describe this more as a filled cronutuffin than anything else, with buttery laminated croissant pastry, custard cream filling reminiscent of a filled donut, and in the shape of a muffin. Shape analysis aside, I again quite enjoyed the richness and velvetiness of the internal pastry, which was complimented by this time a sweeter combination of custard cream and red bean paste. The custard cream was surprisingly light and not very viscous, while the red bean paste was more substantial, both in flavour and in texture. The red bean tasted a little bit different to what I had imagined from just looking at it – I wonder if this is because Korean red bean paste is different to Chinese red bean paste, or just because I haven’t had red bean in years because my partner refuses to have it. Either way this dessert as a whole was a little bit sweeter than the Portuguese tart, but very good, possibly better. I couldn’t tell you. I liked all three.

SECOND VISIT, OCTOBER 2022

I found myself back in the area, this time with my partner in tow, and took the opportunity to go back. We had this blueberry tart ($12), laminated pastry with a frangipane filling topped with pastry cream and plump and juicy blueberries. Interestingly the frangipane was a bit herbaceous, kind of basilly, though I am yet to get confirmation. Confirmation received, it was mint.

The other thing we had on our second visit was this banana tiramisu tart ($11). This was pretty good, essentially banoffee, I don’t know what the difference would be between something you’d call banoffee and something you’d call banana tiramisu. It was only whilst looking at my card transaction summary later on at home that I realised that I spent $11-12 a piece on a couple of pastries. I think that it’s easy to ignore the price when you’re there and buying it and then outside and munching it, but that actually is a bit of money, and perhaps why half a decade in the workforce and making a liveable wage (though not by the standards of for example someone even a couple of years into certain fields of finance) we have nothing to really show for it.

All in all, I think you should go. I think there’s probably a bit of a renaissance of Korean-run Viennoiserie on the East Coast at the moment. Maybe it’s my own personal bias as an Asian person, but from Bakemono in Melbourne to Tenacious here in Sydney, some of the highest quality and most interesting pastries are coming from Korean bakers who are able to create both excellent renditions of classics, as well as top-notch fusion offerings.

I’m going to recommend Tenacious Bakehouse to my friend, housemate, and colleague who works down the street at the local faith-based healing service, but he’ll probably tell me he’s had better tarts at some monastery somewhere. Can’t please that guy.

Tenacious Bakehouse
101 Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Categories
Asian Fusion Café Italian Korean

Firestone – Eastwood NSW Restaurant Review

We were baited to Firestone by the promise of some truly delicious looking Korean-Italian fusion food on their social media accounts. It turns out all that stuff was on an old menu. This is what we found instead.

I will start with the best dish of the day, the Truffle Mushroom Risotto ($21.90). This vegetarian dish was packed full of different types of mushrooms and truffle oil. It was creamy and umami, and even though it was vegetarian I did not miss the meat at all. Additional sliced or grated truffle was on offer for a supplement, however we declined. While it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for, this dish was very good. I can recommend it.

The Chilli Dog ($12) was chilli only in so far as the sauce was chilli. There was no chilli con carne component, which is what you would expect to get if paying $12 for a hot dog named “chilli dog”. A no go.

I was really not a fan of this miso salmon benedict ($18.90). Unlike most miso salmon dishes on the streets of Sydney, this particular miso salmon was raw salmon, thick-cut, marinated in miso and mirin. It had a too-fishy flavour that kind of repulsed me. The rest of the eggs benedict was absolutely fine, but the salmon left a taste in my mouth that I can still recall to this day (about two weeks down the track).

This iced soy taro latte ($7.70) was solid. Not too sweet. Quite refreshing.

Standard teal cup large soy cappuccino. ($5.50) .

VERDICT
A tough sell. Perhaps their Hornsby branch has a more enticing menu.

Firestone Eastwood
62/80 Rowe St, Eastwood NSW 2122
(02) 8387 3624

Categories
Korean

Stoneage Korean BBQ – West Ryde NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I have a lot of Korean BBQ, but it is rare for us to do it with actual Koreans. Recognising the experience of our senior Korean colleagues HWJ and CJP (both PGY8 medically and PGY30-ish Koreanly), we put our faith in them to lead the meal.

We started off with some pork belly. During this encounter I learned about the difference between the two main types of cooking surfaces used in Korean BBQ. The above pictured grill plate, contrasted with the mesh-type grill plate pictured below, is used preferentially for high-fat cuts like pork belly. The reason for this is that it has far fewer holes for fat to escape into the fire through, reducing the frequency of flare-ups. How did I sleepwalk through life not knowing this until now?

The second part of our highly-focused Korean BBQ experience was the rib eye. The meat was fresh and highly marbled – generally a delight to eat. Our friends knew exactly what they wanted meat-wise, and stuck with it. One pork option and one beef option, and both were very good.

The marinated baby octopus was cooked on the other type of grill – the same type as the beef – that allowed greater direct contact with the heat and more evaporation. I wasn’t a big fan of this octopus, despite it having been ordered at my request. They were large babies.

I just generally love steamed egg. (But I think BBQ Biwon‘s was softer and better)

This soft tofu chilli pot ($10) was cheap (commensurate with its lack of animal protein) but otherwise not much to write home about.

I enjoyed this cold noodle soup ($10) but wonder if in Korean culture these are not meant to be shared. One of my colleagues certainly acted like it was the personal order of the other colleague, but in the end no one stopped me from taking some. Actually very good value.

Other Feelings
The banchan was good, plentiful, and quickly resupplied. The grilles were swapped out meticulously, so as not to leave too much burnt char on them for too long. Service can therefore be considered to be quite good. We paid a total of $55 per person for a very big feed for four humans.

Would I come back? Why not. The nearby Juwon Butchery is also a great place to pick up some wagyu Korean BBQ cuts to take home for a repeat meal a few days down the track.

Stoneage Korean BBQ
1B Chatham Rd, West Ryde NSW 2114
0401 167 688

Categories
Asian Fusion Café Korean

CNR58 – Concord NSW Restaurant Review

Brunch that is slightly Asian is my favourite kind of brunch, and CNR58 brought the slightly Korean goods to the table this mother’s day just passed.

The Miso Salmon Eggs Benedict was a commination of things that I generally like, but don’t necessarily go together. This particular miso salmon was my third or fourth in recent times, and compared to its competitors in the Western Sydney sphere I found the salmon to be cooked well, but underflavoured. The miso on offer was really just a hint, and I feel that a stronger flavour could’ve added a lot, especially in view of the similarly low-taste pile of sliced cucumber. The eggs benedict side of the dish, on the other hand, were faultless. Arranged in two separate toast islands for the couple that loves to share, the eggs were poached to a runny perfection often sought but rarely seen. A dish half good half middling (does that make it three quarters good?)

The Chicken & Waffles was a very surprising dish. Having seen all the Korean staff manning the restaurant I had expected some combination of Korean fried chicken and waffle. What I got instead was chicken in more of a tempura batter than the classic Korean fried chicken batter, with a sweet maple-tabasco sauce that made the entire meal highly reminiscent of Chinese restaurant honey chicken. Apart from the unexpected sweetness of the dish the bacon was well cooked, and the waffle had a far nicer texture and flavour than my other most recent waffle experience at 3 Ronin.

I thought the Chicken Sausages were uninspiring.

VERDICT
We actually went to CNR58 in seek of their lunch menu, only to find out that it only starts at 11AM (nowhere online is this suggested to be the case). The dishes I had for breakfast were in the grand scheme of things only OK, but I would still go back to try their promising looking lunch and dinner offerings.