Categories
Thai

Yod – Haymarket NSW Restaurant Review

I wish I could have written just a nice little paragraph about my meal at Yod amongst a number of other Thai restaurants in Haymarket, but unfortunately one little thing made the whole experience turn a bit sour.

I had this Grilled Chicken Thigh Fillet (Gai Ping (ไก่ปิ้ง)) ($12.90), which was pretty good. It was nicely grilled, with a mildly sweet marinade that was not too sweet, and a tangy and spicy dipping sauce. There was nothing to complain about of the food at all, but the odd experience came when paying.

The point of service payment system rang up with a price of $14.90, even though both the large format menu clearly displayed outside the restaurant, as well as the menu handed to me when I ordered both displayed a price of $12.90. The woman working the till told me that $12.90 was the old price, and that I must have seen an old menu, but this was clearly the price on the menu that they had handed me. She wouldn’t let it go, and even when we called her supervisor across even she said the same thing. I must have seen an old menu. I realise that $2 is just $2, but at this point it became a sticking point for the two of us. She flipped in disbelief through at least six or eight other copies of the menu at the front counter, all of which said $12.90, all the while maintaining that these were all just old copies of the menu.

There were no new menus showing the “new” price to speak of.

Ultimately with some fight they relented and charged only the advertised and clearly printed price. It would’ve been a lot more graceful for them to accept that they were wrong immediately – if literally all of the menus in your restaurant are “old”, then they are the menu.

Despite the good food this whole process felt dirty to me and I will make a wholehearted effort to never go back.

And before you ask, I have the photos and the metadata.

Yod
462/40-54 Campbell St, Haymarket NSW 2000
0466 554 642

Categories
Café French

The Hardware Société – Melbourne VIC Restaurant Review

I managed to avoid eating at Hardware Société in my six years as a Melbourne local, but as fate would have it broke my streak on a recent visit back.

This Twice Baked Cheese Souffle ($23) didn’t really live up to expectations, though not more so than any other menu item that we had at Hardware Société. What I would consider the focal components of this dish – the cheese souffle and poached eggs – were actually quite good. I enjoyed the cheesy taste and the airy but somehow still creamy and dense (is this an oxymoron?) texture of the souffle, as well as the perfect runniness of the masterfully poached eggs. What didn’t quite appeal to me was the multigrain bread doused in an oil, pickled grapes, and nuts that my partner thought tasted a bit stale, and the salad whose limited freshness I felt was inadequate to counter this.

Some restaurants excel on taste and presentation but fail on their portion sizes. Hardware Société does more or less the opposite with their gigantic Confit Free Range Chicken ($26.50), with a truly larger than normal chicken maryland, pulled from some monster of a bird. Though I was in awe of the size of this chook, I was not so inspired by the actual flavour of the meat, which I found to be bland despite the better-than-usual texture of both the meat and the crispy skin covering it. The herby potato salad was much enjoyed as are most potato dishes by my partner, though I felt that there was a lot of room for some additional heat to be added to the system. The swirl of green tangy sauce was perhaps the only thing I truly enjoyed on this plate.

This hot chocolate ($7.50), served deconstructed in classic Melbourne fashion, was quite good, if a bit sweet. Note the addition of a miniature Easter egg, as if it were a little apology for the 15% public holiday surcharge across the menu.

The soy latte ($5.30) was truly quite small, expensive, and unspectacular.

THOUGHTS
I had quite a few good and special meals on my recent trip to Melbourne, but my trip to Hardware Société wasn’t one of them. It’s possible that we simply chose the wrong items on their menu, but I don’t think I’d give them a second chance to find out.

The Hardware Société
10 Katherine Pl, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9621 2100

Categories
European Fine Dining

LP’s Quality Meats – Chippendale NSW Restaurant Review

It’s been about a year since I first tasted LP’s class-defining mortadella, and about a year that I’ve been dreaming about dining at their Chippendale smokehouse and restaurant. After a couple of setbacks and false starts we finally found the opportunity to go last night, taking advantage of the tables left free by those spending Good Friday at home with family.

We chose the $65 tasting menu with the addition of a serving of smoked chicken. Whilst the serving sizes are in general fine, certain fixed serving sizes, for example for the pork loin, are not adjusted for odd numbers of diners, meaning that it is better value to go in a group of four rather than the five that we had.

The first item on our menu was the malted sourdough & butter. There was nothing really special here. The bread was crusty on the outside and a bit gooey on the inside, possibly reflecting its malted nature. The ratio of butter to bread was adequate.

The oysters with mignonette dressing were fresh and delicious, though not differentiable from any other inner city oyster. When ordered a la carte, these oysters are $5 each, which is quite expensive.

While I can’t remember the name of this off-menu metal dish of vegetables, it is probably LP’s rendition of giardiniera, a classic Italian salad. It is essentially a vinegar-marinated combinastion of cauliflower, capsicum, carrot and onion. Quite the tangy palate cleanser, paired with the salumi.

LP’s salumi plate, featuring fully in-house smoked and prepared (though not husbanded) mortadella, salami cotto, and saucisson was a treat. You’ve heard me wax lyrical about LP’s mortadella more than once now – this soft, mild smoked pork sausage is the best I’ve ever tasted. The salami cotto and sauisson were also good, both ssavoiding being too salty or overflavoured, as salumi often is. Whilst LP’s cold and cured meats are also available for sale from their in-house deli, the price of their mortadella at $77/kg was no cheaper than when I had bought it from Woollahra luxury butcher Victor Churchill, and I chose not to further indulge.

LP’s grilled beef tongue with smoked beef fat vinaigrette is one of their signature dishes, and for good reason. Unlike most renditions of beef or ox tongue, LPs slices theirs longitudinally rather than transversely, the end result being a visually arresting, tongue shaped tongue meal. The tongue is extremely tender, falling apart with minimal fork-based instrumentation, which is actually fully different to the hard and chewy mess that I get every time I try and cook it at Korean BBQ. Each mouthful is an umami bomb, thanks to the smoked beef fat, though perfectly tempered and matched by the tanginess of the salsa verde and vinaigrette components. This is a truly next level dish that I can recommend as a must try.

I’m not normally the biggest fan of mussels, but these steamed mussels in nduja were actually very good. There was none of the feared grittiness present in most low-tier mussel dishes, and the sauce was both umami and lightly spicy. This dish would’ve been even better with some bread to soak up the delicious sauce.

The pickled beetroot salad was very tangy. Not the most enjoyed dish around the table, but then again it’s LP’s Quality Meats, not LP’s Quality Beets.

The 800 gram pork chop with mustard sauce and grilled onions was pretty good, but not something I’d necessarily mention in a letter home. The meat was cooked well, the sauce was inoffensive, but apart from the size and spectacle of an entire giant pork chop cut and rearranged into shape there was nothing truly special about it. It’s sad that with 5 people we did not get a 1000 gram pork chop.

This mesclun salad, mixed herbs, palm sugar vinaigrette was pretty unexciting, and definitely not as exciting as the name.

This smoked half chicken in sauce pearà ($31 supplement) was an add on from the a la carte menu. I had heard a lot about the chicken at LP’s, and this dish certainly did not disappoint. The skin of the chicken was crispy, whilst the meat of the chicken was soft. The smoked flavour, mixed with the creamy flavour of the sauce pearà made for a mouth-watering, umami-filled dish. This chicken was well received around the table, and would be my other must-have at LP’s.

This dish of ember roasted pumpkin, chard, and anchovy did nothing for me. I thought that the flavours were too strong, with the pumpkin being particularly oversalted.

The chocolate tart with chantilly cream was made of very dark, semi-sweet chocolate. I liked it, and I think my girlfriend would have enjoyed this too, but she didn’t go so we will never know. It was a divisive dish, as a few of our friends did not like the bitterness.

The savarin au rhum, essentially wet sponge cake, was also just fine. The cream in both of the desserts was quite good, described aptly by my colleague GL as tasting of a melted vanilla ice cream.

VERDICT
Thank you for reading my pegfeed. The chicken and beef tongue were truly standout dishes that I would recommend a visit to LP’s for, whilst some of the other dishes – salads, mostly – did nothing for me. I had a good time, but would’ve had just as good a time ordering the big hitters off the a la carte menu.

4.5/5

LP’s Quality Meats
16/12 Chippen St, Chippendale NSW 2008
(02) 8399 0929

Diners: JW, HWJ, NT, GL, CJP

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.

SECOND VISIT, VIBE CHECK ONLY

I quite enjoyed these special pan fried stuffed bean curd ($16.80), like what you would find in a combination seafood hot pot, but not in a hot pot, and with some kind of animal combination attached to the tofu. Pretty delicious to be honest.

The Spicy Chicken with Chinese Wine Sauce ($17.80) was solid in taste and price, but I just don’t love chopped up bones in my chicken. Personal preference.

The battered and salt and pepper fried eggplant was a HUGE portion. Pretty tasty, but super unhealthy. Definitely more than we bargained for.

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
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