Categories
Café Japanese

Sandoitchi – Darlinghurst NSW Cafe Review

You will recall from that last week I visited Cafe Oratnek in Redfern, where I ate a very green and legumey meal whilst I watched my senior intensive care colleague chow down on a deliciously juicy pork katsu sandwich. What you won’t recall (as I haven’t told you yet), is that I was struck down by such an acute and severe pork katsu sando envy that I went to Sandoitchi to get my hit the following day.

Pork sando

The pork katsu sando ($13) was disappointing. Where the katsu sandos from Oratnek and Kentaro are all thriller no filler, warm and delicious, Sandoitchi’s has more than its share of filler. The cold slab of cheese and various salads do nothing but ruin the temperature of the sandwich. The pork itself was nowhere near as juicy as its competitors, and the presentation also left something to be desired. I can’t recommend this sandwich.

Swordfish and bacon sandwich

The swordfish and bacon sandwich was actually very good. The swordfish was nice and tender, even for my partner, which was a major sticking point the last time she had swordfish. The bacon added a degree of salty umami that complemented the swordfish quite well, and this was overall a very nice package. I can recommend this.

The strawberry sando ($13) is pretty authentic to the classic Japanese convenience store strawberry sandwich, only at around four times the price. The strawberries are quite tart and don’t have much sweetness, but this is made up for by the sweet cream.

Coffee is by Single O, and just fine.

OVERALL
I came looking for a classic pork katsu sandwich, and in this regard I left disappointed. What did appeal to me, however, was the swordfish and bacon sandwich, which I hadn’t expected (it’s not on the online menu). If you’re looking for your classic pork katsu sando I think you’re best sticking with Kentaro in Surry Hills or Oratnek in Redfern. If you’re looking for something a bit different, Sandoitchi in Darlinghurst is a reasonable bet.

3.5 sands + 0.25 spooky witches / 5

Sandoitchi
Shop 3/113-115 Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
0491 092 958

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
Bakery Japanese

Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake – Sydney CBD NSW Bakery Review

Next to Event Cinemas on George St and very close to Wang’s Dumplings is the Sydney branch of Uncle Tetsu’s multinational bakery project.

During our first visit we had the original, matcha, and red bean cheese tarts.

Each cheese tart was delicious with a more cooked exterior layer and an interior runny gooey centre.

On our second visit the red bean flavour had been discontinued for a strawberry flavour for Christmas.

My favourite was the original flavour, however all four I’ve had have been quite nice.

I would rate these much above the Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart in Australia. They are not as good as the cheese tarts from BAKE in Japan, and they’re also quite expensive at $3.90 a pop.

Unlike the cheese tarts I cannot really recommend this weird, watery, vanilla custard.

4/5

Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake Sydney
501 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

Uncle Tetsu’s Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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
Japanese

Spanish Sakaba – Willoughby NSW Restaurant Review

The suburbs North of the bridge are full of Japanese-flavoured adventures, however they are can be difficult to access to us mere mortals. My South Eastern Sydney colleagues had previously had dinner at Spanish Sakaba, but missed out on their famous wagyu ramen. We therefore made a special decision to cross the bridge for a second time as a group to give it a go.

The Yuzu slushy ($8.80) was quite good, but very expensive and small.

The deep fried wagyu gyoza (4 for $10) were pretty good. The filling was more complex than the usual cabbage pork stuff that you get at most Japanese restaurants in Sydney. My brave senior colleague had the great idea to ask for an extra gyoza for an extra fee, so that we could each have one.

We each ordered a Trio Wagyu Ramen ($29.29), which was served in a large, hat-like dish (see above). This was a mixture of oxtail, sliced beef, and tri-tip in a thick chicken and beef soup. I liked this, however thought that the fatty meats made the soup too thick and rich. Apparently the wagyu oxtail ramen without the other two meats comes with a lighter soup.

The chef served the five of us a complimentary wagyu salad with horseradish dressing. In my opinion this was actually the best dish of the meal, and we were so surprised that we were offered it for free. It was really delicious, and it had plenty of just-charred meat. The horseradish dressing added a great flavour to the dish. I would honestly pay for this if I could, but I don’t think it’s even on the menu.

The Angus Beef Katsu with Chips ($27.80) was not what I expected. First off, $28 is a super expensive for a burger and chips. My colleague who had been here before said that it was a classic Japanese burger – I thought this would be some epic level hamburg. What it actually was was a katsu crumbed beef steak with cabbage and tonkatsu sauce. I thought it was good, but not great, and definitely not $28 great. The chips were fine. Normal shoestring chips.

The Chips with Osaka sauce ($7.50) were just fine. Neither strong nor weak.

My overall verdict is: good, expensive. Avoid beef burger. Get beef salad (try to order off the menu)

Spanish Sakaba
537 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby NSW 2068
(02) 9967 0575

Spanish Sakaba Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato