Categories
Asian Fusion Italian Japanese

Casoni – Darlinghurst NSW Restaurant Review

Casoni is one of the nicest meals I’ve had in some time. The menu was described to us as “Modern Italian”, with a selection of Italian staples fused with some Japanese inspiration.

We started with the Wattle Seed Flatbread ($6). Originally our choice of topping was going to be the salmon roe, however as they were out of stock we had to improvise. After the reassurance of our host that the serving of bread would be “quite generous” and suited to having two sides/toppings, I chose the ortiz anchovies ($6) and green garlic burrata ($10). While the bread was warm, soft, fragrant and delicious, it turns out that “quite generous” was a straight out lie. I would not characterise the bread as being suited to having two toppings. One was more than enough, so much so that we weighed up whether or not we should order a second serving of flatbread to mop up voluminous sides.

The ortiz anchovies ($6) were salty. I think they always are. I’m yet to develop a taste for them. My partner straight up refused to try it (she’s a bit of a fish-o-phobe).

The garlic green burrata ($10) was quite delicious. The inside of the burrata was very wet. It was a great dish to spread on the bread.

Black garlic bread

The Black Garlic Bread ($8) is a must try. It is more of a dessert than a garlic bread, with a sweet glaze and sauce. The topping of miso butter was divine. It is a house specialty for a reason and I would recommend no one leave this restaurant without trying it (cats and other people who can’t have garlic aside).

Tuna Carpaccio

The yellowfin tuna carpaccio with wasabi cream and burnt mandarin dressing ($18) was quite good but straddled the line towards being too tasty. I thought that the wasabi cream and burnt mandarin dressing overpowered the fish to the extent where I couldn’t really taste the star ingredient. While the flavours were good I wonder if a bit of tweaking is in order to highlight the tuna a bit better. Wasabi-phobes need not worry, the wasabi itself isn’t too strong.

Sausage and pecorino pappardelle

The sausage and pecorino pappardelle ($?26) was delicious. The serving size was large enough to share between two. The pappardelle was fresh and soft and tasty – not too al dente for me. The serving of sausage was extremely and unexpectedly generous, there was enough for each bite, and the pecorino added a great sharp flavour to the dish. While I’ve read from other reviews that pasta isn’t Casoni’s strong point, my experience with this pasta would lead me to disagree. It was just fantastic.

Comfortable seats

VERDICT

As I’m sure you can tell by now we really enjoyed our meal at Casoni. We can’t wait to go back.

5 stars.

Casoni
371-373 Bourke St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
0449 516 798

Casoni Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Categories
Asian Fusion Café Italian Korean

Amuze – Darlinghurst NSW Restaurant Review

This is not a criticism of Amuze at all, but as I was driving to Amuze in one of Sydney CBD’s many 40 km/hr zones a man in a white Porsche Cayenne aggressively tailgated me, beeped his horn at me, then ultimately did an illegal U-turn through double lines. As I was looking for parking near Amuze I once again saw this man, still in his car, parked adjacent to one of the only free spots directly outside the restaurant. As I didn’t want to be assaulted by this bad man I had to keep driving and eventually park around the corner.

Amuze salmon steak

I had the salmon steak ($19.50) consisting of a piece of pan-fried salmon atop salad with spiralised zuchini, sun dried tomatoes and carrot and a side of potato. The salmon itself was delicious, with crispy skin and a partially cooked inside. I’m surprised how much I enjoyed the spiralised zucchini salad – it was really tasty with its zesty flavours. The potatoes had a nice fried exterior however I felt the interior was too starchy.

While I ate outside, the interior of the restaurant looked really nice. There’s plenty more on the menu that I’d like to try – the cafe pride itself on a number of Korean inspired dishes, and has a few Korean chefs.

Will come back soon I hope.

UPDATE 15/11/2020

So I did come back, five days after my initial meal – this time with my partner and one of our emergency medicine friends.

Amuze cream cheese pancakes

The cream cheese pancakes ($17.50) were good. The pancakes themselves were soft with a complex slightly sourdough-like flavour, and not too sweet (yum). There was a huge serving of cream cheese topping (yum), compote (yum), and fresh strawberries and blueberries (standard).

Amuze spaghetti white truffle ragu

The spaghetti white truffle ragu ($19.50) was delicious! The sauce was creamy and flavourful. The sausage mince added additional bursts of flavour atop the sauce. The spaghetti was cooked a bit too al dente for me, but still yummy.

Coffee ($3.80 for a latte), was unfaultable – very good.

Closing comments – while Amuze bills itself as Korean-Italian fusion, my impression is that their menu consists of either Korean or Italian dishes. The three dishes that we’ve tried (and the chicken parma that my ED colleague tried – not pictured or reviewed) were all firmly in the Italian camp of things, with no real Korean touches. I wonder if the other half of the menu – which consists of kimchi ramen and bibimbap among other things – have more Western elements in them. Not a complaint – just an observation.

4.5/5

Amuze
1 Burton St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
0487 037 757

Categories
North American

Surly’s American Tavern – Surry Hills NSW Restaurant Review

We woke up to news of a Biden-Harris victory and then spent lunch at Surly’s American Tavern, an American themed pub and restaurant in Surry Hills, seeing off our favourite Kiwi anaesthetic colleague back across the pond.

sweet potato chips with poutine topping

The sweet potato chips with poutine topping ($14) was good. The sweet potato chips were crisp, despite being drowned in a fully adequate helping of gravy. The cheese curds were soft and not too hot.

BBQ Platter

The BBQ Platter ($45) was ordered as a result of my indecision. There were so many meats that I wanted to try, but so little time. It consisted of 18 hour dry rubbed beef brisket, 12 hour pulled pork, Smoked chicken thigh, Texas hot link sausage, and smoked chicken wings with pickles, onion and corn bread.

The beef brisket was not bad, quite moist.
The pulled pork was not exciting at all.
The smoked chicken thigh was nice, and it was nice that it was skin on
The Texas hot link sausage was quite tasty, good.
The smoked chicken wing I could’ve lived without – it would’ve been better as a normal wing.
I didn’t eat the corn bread. It gave me too many flashbacks to the weird frozen cornbread delivered from Third Wave Cafe in Melbourne.
The pickles were fresh and tangy and good.
The coleslaw was actually really good.
Chips were fresh.

Seatings are timed for 2 hour intervals
News coverage of Joe Biden’s presidential win was being played throughout our entire stay there.
4/5.

Surly’s American Tavern
182 Campbell St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
02) 9331 3705

Surly's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Categories
Fine Dining Japanese

Yachiyo – Darlinghurst NSW Omakase Review

Yachiyo seems to be a true hidden gem of Japanese dining in Sydney. It’s one of, if not the only place where you can get a full 20 – piece omakase without basically any notice. My partner and I were able to book at around noon for a same-day Friday evening omakase dinner. Be careful though – If you try and book too late in the day you won’t be able to – but you normally will be able to book the following day.

Yachiyo has three grades of omakase – we chose the middle grade, “OMAKASE MIX”, which featured a bit of yakitori and tempura as well as the usual yakitori. Here’s what we got for $80 per person (it was quite impressive.)

1: Toro nigiri (Japan)

The first nigiri offered was a piece of tuna belly (toro) of Japanese origin. It was very oily and fatty, as tuna belly should be. My partner really enjoyed this first piece, but I felt like mine unfortunately had a bit of connective tissue to it which decreased the quality of the fish. Overall quite good, but I didn’t like it as much as course 2.

2: Bluefin tuna nigiri – aged for twelve days (Australia)

The second piece was nigiri with Australian bluefin tuna, aged for twelve days. This morsel may have been my favourite little morsel of the meal. While not imported from a far away land, I found that the fish in this piece had a perfect texture with no distracting components. It was fatty but not overpoweringly fatty, and the aging really enhanced its umami tuna flavours.

3 – Aburi salmon belly nigiri (Salmon Toro)

The third serving of the night was an aburi salmon belly nigiri. The fatty salmon belly with the lightly caramelised surface with rendered fats was delicious. The chef Mitsuhiro Yashio told us that each salmon only had enough belly to produce six pieces of this nigiri. Poor salmons.

4 – Aburi kingfish belly nigiri (Kingfish toro)

The aburi kingfish belly nigiri was the fourth piece of the meal, and the first piece that I didn’t feel was very special. Chef talked it up a bit as another rare piece of fish, but despite the slightly higher fattiness of it I found the taste and texture not too different from the commodity aburi kingfish nigiri that you would get at a normal sushi restaurant (for example Sushi Rio or Sushi Hotaru). Still yummy.

5 – Bluefin tuna temaki (hand roll)

Piece 5 was the bluefin tuna temaki (hand roll). I wasn’t sure if there was some natto inside – I thought that’s what I saw and is pictured on the left side of the photo, but I couldn’t really taste it and my partner doubts me. Keeping in the theme of the delicious bluefin tuna, this hand roll was also one of my favourites. I loved the tender fatty tuna, as well as the really high quality seaweed. Delicious.

6 – Bluefin tuna sashimi with ponzu dressing

Our sixth dish was bluefin tuna sashimi in ponzu dressing. For some reason I didn’t like this as much. I think I was more a fan of their fish with rice, as rice generally can provide a bit of a contrast to fatty fish.

7 – Royal red prawn nigiri

The seventh course was royal red prawn nigiri. Unfortunately I made a mistake, and the chef paid the price. I had advised the restaurant that I was allergic to scampi, but that prawns and other crustaceans were OK. Unfortunately the prawn that they served me was the exact same prawn (royal red) that I had at the debacle at MOXHE. While I don’t know if it was the prawn or another piece of mystery seafood that set off my gastrointestinal tract, I didn’t want to leave it to chance. Had it been literally any other prawn I probably would’ve gone for it. My partner ended up having both of the royal red prawn – she said that the texture was similar to MOXHE’s but the taste wasn’t as sweet and not as good – and the chef prepared me a consolation prize at no additional cost. Thank you.

7A – Salmon sushi

My consolation prize for not being able to really eat the royal red prawn was this piece of salmon sushi. I can’t find any words to describe this form of sushi, but it was basically a piece of fish and some rice sandwiched within a folded piece of seaweed. Almost like a mini, single bite temaki. It was actually quite good, and very thoughtful and nice of the chef to fix what was ultimately my own doing.

Items eight, nine, and ten were assorted yakitori. I will describe them in the order I ate them in.

Item eight, the chicken thigh yakitori, was juicy and flavourful. It was delicious, and exactly how I remember all of the good yakitori that I had in Japan. It is much better than some of the yakitori I’ve had here in Sydney, for example at Lantern by Wagaya.

Item nine, the salmon belly yakitori, was super fatty and delicious. It basically melted in my mouth as soon as I bit into it, and I loved that there was some crispy skin to mix up the texture. My partner didn’t like this that much but she’s wrong – she’s not a big fan of seafood in general (but seems to love sushi!).

Item ten, the skewered pork and ginger meatballs, were less exciting. The chicken and salmon belly yakitori were just so special, but I felt like the meatballs were just meatballs, and perhaps a bit too strongly flavoured for my liking.

11 – cuttlefish nigiri

Food number eleven was a cuttlefish nigiri with shiso-salt. As I usually eat nigiri with fish-to-tongue, I was quite shocked to receive a strong flavour hit as the shiso-salt coated my tongue with saltiness. Evidently that is not the way to go with this particular piece of sushi. Once I got over the intense saltiness of the salt I started to enjoy the rich, creamy cuttlefish texture and flavours. I don’t normally think of cuttlefish as creamy, but a combination of this particular cuttlefish’s intrinsic qualities, the normally chewy texture of cuttlefish ing eneral, as well as the flavour micro-cuts gave it an extremely creamy flavour that actually lasted a long time in my mouth.

12 – hokkaido scallop nigiri with yuzu dressing

I thought that morsel twelve – hokkaido scallop nigiri with yuzu dressing, was a bit of a letdown. While I’m used to raw scallop being sweet I actually thought this nigiri had a bit of a bitter taste to it.

13 – bar cod nigiri

Dish thirteen was bar cod nigiri. This is the first time I have had bar cod, but to be honest it didn’t leave a lasting impression. It tasted very similar to most other white fish out there.

14 – Tempura zucchini with prawn-meat filing

Number fourteen was tempura zucchini with a prawn-meat filling. Chef warned me about the prawn as I wasn’t keen to eat the earlier prawn sashimi, but I thought I would be ok with this prawn and I was right. I wonder if the potential allergen is something that is denatured by cooking. I enjoyed the tempura – it came fresh from the deep fryer, and the distance from the fryer to us seated at the bar was very limited. This was my first time having tempura zucchini, and I enjoyed it. I’m not sure how common zucchini is as a vegetable to tempura. The prawn meat inside was tasty, but not quite prawn – more like cooked surimi type stuff. Not bad.

15- Oyster sushi

Bite fifteen saw the return of the as yet unnamed temaki-but-not-curled, gunkan-but-not-a-boat, now with oyster filling. I enjoyed this oyster – it was not seasoned, unlike the oysters I’ve been having with dressings at Western restaurants, which helped accentuate the mild ocean flavour. My partner, who is not very keen on oysters at all even tried it.

16 -cooked abalone with rice, sandwiched within a folded nori sheet

Nibble number sixteen was cooked abalone with rice, sandwiched within a folded nori sheet. Abalone is quite an upscale seafood, but I was sad not to have it raw (not that I’m sure if it’s even possible). If I’m being honest I couldn’t really taste the taste of the abalone, which must have been subtle. Most of the flavour was from the sauced up rice and the nori.

17 – Ikura gunkan

Mouthful seventeen was finally something I could identify – ikura gunkan. This particular gunkan had absolutely massive bulbous salmon roes, larger than any I’ve had in recent memory. Unfortunately though I found these particular roe to too marinated for my personal taste. They had a strong sweet and salty taste that didn’t really leave much of the fresh roe flavour. My partner also criticised it for not being as creamy as she would have liked.

18 – Black cod sushi

The eighteenth and final fish piece of the meal was a deliciously fatty cooked black cod sushi. It had a flaky, melt in your mouth texture, with strong patagonian toothfish energy. Yum.

19 – Crunchy matcha dessert

Our nineteenth and final morsel was a crunchy matcha dessert, which tasted of white chocolate and rice puffs. A nice, light, but not very showy end to a nice meal.

Overall we had a really good time at Yachiyo. The food was delicious, the price was excellent, and even the table water was filtered. I can highly recommend, and indeed have already recommended Yachiyo to two separate groups of colleagues on the same night that I’ve eaten there. Yum.

Yachiyo Darlinghurst
346 Victoria St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
(02) 9331 8107