Categories
Café Japanese

Cafe Oratnek – Redfern NSW Restaurant Review

I first visited Cafe Oratnek in May 2020, before this blog existed. The height of the COVID-19 pandemic back in May meant that Oratnek was open for takeaway only at that time, and it was not until very recently that I had an opportunity to have an eat-in meal.

The main stars of the Oratnek menu are basically the same as that at its sister store Kentaro, a mere 1.2km away. The wisdom of opening two of essentially the same cafe within a 15 minute walk of each is, in my opinion, questionable, however both establishments seem to have a healthy amount of patronage. If I were in their shoes I would have rather done a North-South thing like Cool Mac and Kurumac (though there’s a lot of competition for Japanese food North of the bridge), or even have opened up the second store in an affluent, Asian-centric area like Eastwood or Strathfield.

There is plenty of outdoor seating for the COVID-paranoid, but the lack of cover over the courtyard of this terrace-style house means that the sun is very much blaring and angry. Something to be aware – you might want to wear sunscreen.

Port Katsu Sandwich

Oratnek’s pork katsu sandwich ($16) is essentially the same as Kentaro’s – a thick pork cutlet, lightly battered and deep fried for a juicy, tender outcome sandwiched between Japanese bread, cabbage, and mustard. Compared to Kentaro’s I think that Oratnek’s is not as oversauced and has more cabbage, but I’m not sure which one I prefer more. Both are delicious.

On my second visit to Oratnek I recommended the pork katsu sandwich, a known quantity, to my senior intensive care colleague and ordered myself the Salmon Rillettes & Legumes On Toast ($16.50). Unfortunately for me I didn’t really realise just how much legume would be involved. There was really only a smattering of salmon rillette, which in my opinion wasn’t quite enough for the thick toast. The sheer greenery and legumery was overpowering, and I found it a marathon to finish all of the crisp legumes provided to me. While some Japanese chefs may have earned the title “Legume Magician”, I would hesitate to offer this title to Oratnek based on what was presented here. Given the weighted composition of the dish I would more readily recommend it to a vegan rather than someone with no dietary restrictions.

Matcha Brownie

The matcha brownie is yum. A little bit bitter, sweet but not too sweet.

The mentaiko linguine ($22) I had back in May was the first time I had had mentaiko anything in Australia. The mentaiko topping was creamy, and enough to coat all the strands of pasta. I really enjoyed this dish, however after the past six months of tastemaker development I now consider this to be a bit overpriced. Cod roe is readily found at Asian grocery stores and isn’t that expensive.

The Kobe Hayashi Rice ($23) I didn’t really enjoy. It may very well have been the travel time, though the lukewarm onion beefiness was quite disappointing to me. Reasonable to try again fresh.

My partner enjoyed the Classic Omurice ($20 – no pictures) but hilariously told me that she didn’t think it was quite a classic, authentic omurice (not knowing the name of the dish).

VERDICT
Oratnek and Kentaro have the best pork katsu sandwiches I’ve ever had in Australia. In that sense they offer something special and are worth paying a visit to. A few of their other dishes are a bit hit and miss, but it’s likely that you will find something else you like in Oratnek’s diverse Japanese menu.

A recommendation. Bring a hat.

Cafe Oratnek
4 Pitt St, Redfern NSW 2016
(02) 8394 9550

Categories
Café Japanese

Ippuku – Rosebery NSW Restaurant Review

Ippuku is a small and in my opinion underrated Japanese cafe in Rosebery. Despite some somewhat middling reviews online I decided to take the plunge and visit for some sandos before an evening shift at work.

Ippuku is a nice, bright cafe with plenty of natural light and a selection of indoor table, indoor high table, and well ventilated outdoor seating, ideal for the COVID paranoid. Staffing was by a predominately Japanese crew with a Caucasian man making yummy warm juice from Single O coffee beans.

I was in a bit of a rush so I asked to have my pork katsu sando inside and the rest of the food to be packed for takeaway so that I could eat it later at work. I think unfortunately I did not communicate this very well, as similar to Yummy Duck BBQ just around the corner I received all of my food in take-away form. This was ultimately not a big deal as I was able to try each of the items that I ordered fresh.

The Pork Katsu Sando ($13) was really good. The pork cutlets were thinner than I’m used to from places like Kentaro, Oratnek, and Sandoitchi, but this was by no means a problem. Indeed I found this pork cutlet to be extra juicy, with the welcome addition of a few fatty bits around the edges to mix the flavour and texture up a bit. Unlike my previous experiences this sandwich was served with tomato, which provided an extra level of freshness to the sando and reminded me a bit of MOS Burger’s tomato burgers. Really good.

The Ebi Sando ($16) is a recent addition to the menu, and features a generous serving of thick, juicy battered and fried prawns in a bit of an egg-salad tartare sauce. I loved the juicy prawny prawns and how the sandwich was just jam packed with them. I really enjoyed the half of this sandwich that I had fresh, but found the sauce a bit too fishy when I had the second half a few hours later. It was a few dollars more expensive than the pork sando but definitely worth a try.

The pork gyoza (6 for $10) were a bit disappointing. I appreciate that they were pork and chive rather than pork and cabbage, but I just didn’t think they were all that flavourful. It tends to take a lot for a Japanese gyoza to impress me though – I tend to like Chinese dumplings more.

UPDATE 12/12/2020

Wagyu beef burger

The Wagyu Beef Burger ($16) is pretty good, but pretty expensive and ultimately just a normal burger. It was not a Japanese hamburg patty which is what I expected. It was really just a classic hamburger with a thick juicy internally-pink patty, cheese, pickles, tomato, onion, lettuce, and sauce. Quite steep for $16 and not at all special.

The Chashu Rice ($17) is quite bad, and I would recommend you stay far away from this. Forever. The egg is nice and partially cooked and runny, bunt that’st eh end of the compliments. I found the fried rice to be sticky and not flavourful. The chashu was dry and not fatty enough to break up the bland fried rice taste. A very bad dish for you to avoid.

Chicken katsu sandwich

I drove home from Ippuku and dropped off this chicken katsu sandwich ($13) for my girlfriend. I can’t really tell you anything about it apart from the fact that she thought it was pork and enjoyed it. I asked her to save me some, which she did, but she left it in the microwave for 10 hours instead of the fridge so I didn’t feel safe enough to have any.

VERDICT
Don’t fall victim to negative Nancys on Zomato. I’d strongly recommend a visit to Ippuku for their delicious sandos.

4.5/5

Ippuku
Shop 1/1-3 Dunning Ave, Rosebery NSW 2018
(02) 8097 5925

Categories
Asian Fusion Café

Chimichuri – Chatswood NSW Brunch Review

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a new mole on my left palm. This worried me for a number of reasons. The first of these is that you’re not really meant to have moles in areas of skin that are not exposed to the sun. The second of which was that this was new and therefore something potentially problematic. As someone with the baseline anxiety grade of 7 out of 10 I decided that I needed to have this checked and hopefully biopsied as we know that tissue is king. And thus we made it to the Upper North Shore for a two minute skin check, and took the golden opportunity to get some brunch as well.

We rarely have an excuse to cross the bridge and I had a number of restaurants lined up just waiting to be eaten at. Near the top of this list was Chimichuri, yet another Asian fusion brunch cafe.

My partner ordered the Earl Grey Latte (L -$5), also known as a “large fun milk please”. Unfortunately the fun milk was not as fun as expected as we found it to be too far too sweet. My soy latte (S/R – $4) was just a soy latte, pretty good, but no different to every other soy latte I have every other day. Drinks aside, I thought that the cups were particularly nice, as they had a large clear base that elevated the liquid holding portion and made the glasses seem bigger than they were.

Chimichuri – Black Benedict

The Black Benedict ($24) was basically a deep fried soft-shell crab together with a charcoal hamburger bun poached eggs and black dyed hollandaise sauce. There is also a very small amount of salmon roe which I found to have an odd taste and lacking in freshness. The Black Benedict is one of their signature dishes, however ultimately disappointing. My humble opinion is that the flavours were not very good or cohesive. I was also not a fan of the charcoal bun, and I believe the jury is still out as to whether or not this is good for your health or will actively cause cancer. Either way, I don’t think black bread really adds anything to the taste of food and I try to actively avoid it where possible.

Chimichuri – Scallop Shell

I enjoyed the Scallop Shell ($24) much more. I thought that the croissant had a great warmth and airy texture to it. It was so buttery and tasty and probably one of the best croissant I’ve had in recent memory. The scrambled egg on the croissant was also very light and warm on the inside and reminded me of the scrambled egg from Dopa. I thought that the scallop was not actually as special as I thought there would be. While the main advertised attraction, there were only three scallops for the entire dish and I didn’t feel like they had much flavour to them at all. My partner, if given the opportunity to speak, will tell you that scallop is normally quite a light-flavoured ingredient and that there is often a lot of potential for scallops flavours to be muddled up by for example croissant or egg. She said it was much better eaten on its own, however even in its own mouthful I found the scallop to be a bit lacking. We will have to beg to differ.

3.5/5 , hit and miss

Chimichuri
1/6 Help St, Chatswood NSW 2067
(02) 8084 5272

Categories
Asian Fusion Café Japanese

Pokemeow – Rosebery NSW Cat Cafe Review

Cats are my favourite animal. Even though we have two small cats at home, we often find ourselves in wonder of cats on the internet, on the streets, and now at Pokemeow Cat Cafe.

One of the great joys of Pokemeow Cat Cafe is being able to sit outside and peer into their cat playground. Their clowder of cats, consisting of two Maine coons, a sphinx, a ragdoll, a munchkin and a very beautiful but average domestic shorthair, are an absolute delight to watch. Being able to watch them play and interact during our meal really elevated the experience. There’s also the opportunity to pay $10 for a 30 minute play session inside the playground (book beforehand online), but we chose not to as we felt it would be a bit weird to have all the diners look at us as we did so.

The overall vibe of the place is very pet friendly as well, and many of the other patrons brought their dogs along for brunch. There was, in particular, a very good yellow labrador who my partner got to pet.

While the six beautiful resident cats at Pokemeow are undoubtedly their main draw, their Asian fusion brunch menu isn’t anything to sneer at either.

I had the black sesame latte while my partner had just a normal large cappuccino. It strikes me that asking for a black sesame latte is more or less asking for fun milk please. A protip to new players, make sure to mix up your black sesame latte – there tends to be a lot of stuff that sediments at the bottom.

We enjoyed the truffle chips, which came covered in a cheesy parmesan. They were fresh out of the fryer and unfaultable.

I quite liked the six spicy fried chicken wings. I thought that they were reasonably priced (≤$10) and freshly fried and delicious. My partner thought they were not as good as the ones we had at Belle’s Hot Chicken the previous night but I thought they stood well on their own.

I felt that the earl grey pancakes were a bit dry on their own, but just fine when combined in a single bite with the provided mascarpone, berries, and sauce. I probably wouldn’t get these again, but my partner was a big fan.

The grilled salmon green tea soba salad was a bit of a weird one. The salmon was pretty standard (no better than anyone could make at home), however I would’ve liked a bit more of it. I couldn’t really appreciate the green tea flavour of the voluminous soba noodles until I had a further bite of a chicken wing to contrast against. I thought that the soba noodles perhaps were featured too prominently in the dish, however did enjoy it once the soba were mostly powered through and I could pair it better with the remaining sesame dressing, carrot, and tomato salad components. My partner didn’t really like this dish, but in retrospect and on deep introspection I did. I probably still wouldn’t get it again. Offer to pay for double salmon if they will let you.

I really enjoyed my visit to Pokemeow. Their food was pretty good, and there are a lot more Asian fusion brunch options left to try. I loved watching the cats play and interact, and would absolutely come back agian.

Pokemeow
1/8 Crewe Place, Rosebery NSW 2018
0416 668 468

Pokemeow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Categories
Asian Fusion Café Malaysian

X23 Asian Fusion Cafe – Chippendale NSW Restaurant Review

A few weeks ago I went to 101kissa, an Asian fusion brunch place in Chippendale. This week I went to X23 Asian Fusion Cafe, an Asian fusion brunch place In Chippendale.

My girlfriend drove me to brunch after one of my night shifts. We had thought about going for a couple of weeks, and finally the opportunity arose for me to sacrifice some sleep for some food. I wore sunglasses the entire time to limit my blue light exposure and posting these photos up is the first time I’m seeing these foods in their normal colour.

The shroom room shrooms ($16.80) were quite shroomy. The eggs were well poached, and most of the shrooms were enjoyable, particularly the enoki. One particular mushroom had a strong Vegemite-like taste which I was not a fan of. Maybe my palate is not developed enough. But maybe I just know what I like and this particular long shroom wasn’t it.

The X23 red eggs ($22.50) are very similar to but not as good as the chili crab scrambled eggs at 101kissa. In comparison with the similar concept eggs at 101kissa they did not have as much crab. They’re overall not bad, but when you have a better option just a few minutes away they’re hard to recommend.

I have no idea what the sriracha bacon ($4) was meant to go with. It was probably my mistake to buy it.

Drinks were fine. I liked the dual wall glasses.

Overall impression: I want to like X23 Asian Fusion Cafe but I just don’t. Nothing was really special for me, and its unfortunate proximity to a better competitor makes it a miss. Six out of ten stars. Will probably go back.

X23 Asian Fusion Cafe
102/18 Park Ln, Chippendale NSW 2008
(02) 9056 5138