“But you’ve already been to Kurtosh!”, you say. “You didn’t even like it!”
While both statements are true, my partner dragged me along to a Kurtosh franchise in Surry Hills after dinner at Khoi’s, and I didn’t want to waste a mediocre time by not writing about it.
I have discovered, since my last visit to Kurtosh in Randwick in August 2020, that kürtőskalác is a type of baked dessert of Hungarian origin. Unlike the delicious cherry strudel from Randwick Hungarian Restaurant Corner 75, however, I have never really had a kürtőskalác that I have thought to be special.
Before we get to the food, a special mention needs to be made for the consistently poor service at Kurtosh – something that seems to span their multiple distant sites. Before ordering I joked to my partner that our attendant would need to ask for our orders three times, as a callback to our poor experience in their Randwick store. To my surprise and horror, this did indeed happen – it was just very difficult for the Kurtosh employee (who was not the same as last time) to remember the three things that we wanted. She did indeed ask us three separate times.
The palmier was fine.
The chocolate peanut butter cookie was actively good. The cookie was gooey and chewy, with a dark chocolate flavour. I didn’t enjoy the peanut butter filling quite as much, but I did not hate it either.
The vanilla and nut kurtosh was not to my taste. Always a disappointment, but it’s very hard to convince my partner. For what it’s worth, she did enjoy this, and she specifically remarked that she enjoyed this more than the cinnamon one that she had previously tried.
Rumour has it that Cafe Rumah is one of the top Malaysian-fusion cafes in all of Sydney. To be fair, there aren’t really that many. My partner and I ventured into the inner west one sunny Friday morning for a bit of Asian cuisine.
Mama Yang’s Pork Belly Rice Bowl ($18) was delicious. The pork belly was cooked well, with a great melt in your mouth feel to the fat and skin components. The fatty pork to lean pork ratio was just right, and neither components overpowered the other. The fresh herbs and pickles added an additional level of flavour to the soy-braised pork belly and rice, and gave it a new spin compared to the usual pork belly fare that we normally get from Chinese restaurants around the city. I can definitely recommend this dish.
While Mama Yang prevailed in her dish’s light deliciousness, the Tom Yum Chicken Congee ($16) faltered. I found the tom yum congee to be far too tasty. The tom yum and flavours were too strong, and took away from this congee’s ability to be a wholesome and warming meal. In their defense, the congee had all of the requisite ingredients, including what seemed like $5 of ginger alone, but it is perhaps this generosity that led to its defeat. Too tasty, not wholesome.
The Milo Dino ($6.50) was a surprise hit. Six dollars is a lot to pay for a glass of milo, but the taste was nice and I didn’t choke on the powdery stuff on top.
Overall I think Cafe Rumah tends towards stronger flavours, and is perhaps a miss if you are someone who has a softer palate. Personally I would still like to come back and try their roti john, so I guess it’s a recommend with caveats.
Cafe Rumah (02) 9280 2289 71-73 Campbell St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
This is a review of Rustic Pearl, a small hole-in-the-wall cafe that offers coffee and Turkish-inspired foods for takeaway only during the COVID-19 period.
The original “BOMBA” ($12) is basically a lavash toastie with eggs, sausage, tomato and filled with lots of cheese. The bread is thin and crispy, and the contents very hot and overflowing with tomato flavour. Definitely eat this one hot, it gets quite boring once cold.
The meat burek ($8) is cheap and wonderful, and in fact everything I thought the Bomba should be. It’s basically a giant ravioli filled to the brim with sauce, vegetables, and meat. It comes with an excellent chilli dippling sauce, which unfortunately isn’t available for solo purchase (however they tell us they’re working on a business case). This is an absolutely unmissable component of Rustic Pearl’s 2020 offerings.
The brownie was rich, and I really appreciated the nuts.
The Angel cake was rich also, but not too sweet. A winner.
This caramel cookie was light and crumbly, so much so that it crumbled upon holding. Yum.
Special attention should be paid towards Rustic Pearls’ dark hot chocolate. It is rich and dark and not too sweet, something which is often hard to find. I would rate it together with Bourke St Bakery’s hot chocolate.
Overall I can definitely recommend paying Rustic Pearl a visit. Start with the meat burek with the chilli sauce, and explore outwards.
Arthur is one of the few – if not the only – Sydney fine dining establishments to be named after an animated aardvark. Located within what looks to be a converted house on a street corner Surry Hills, Arthur offers an ever changing and reasonably priced tasting menu with a focus on fresh domestic produce.
We dined in mid-December 2020 and took the liberty of adding on a few of the essential options to make a full menu at around $138 per head.
Arthur’s Sydney Rock Oysters with grape granita ($5.50 supplement) are on the pricier side for the Sydney restaurant scene. They were fresh, delicate, and of good quality, but we would usually not expect to pay more than $4 per oyster of this size. The grape granita added a new sweet and sour taste that I’ve not had with oysters elsewhere.
Both the bread and butter in Arthur’s sourdough and cultured butter are made in house. The bread had a nice solid crust but was light and fluffy on the inside. The cultured butter was a bit saltier than I expected, but still nice. One of my friends in particular was very keen on this butter, though in general I am more partial to unsalted or more lightly salted butters.
This kangaroo, tendon, and bush tomato tartare was quite good. I enjoyed the strong tomato flavours, and while one of my colleagues had initial misgivings about the gaminess of the kangaroo he too grew to like it. Kangaroo, for those not familiar, is quite a lean and somewhat gamey meat that can be had at very low prices. While the produce itself is not considered gourmet in Australia, it is certainly rare to have it served as a tartare.
The zucchini flower, scallop, shallot was a delicate dish of scallop and shallot stuffed inside a steamed zucchini flower. The flavours were very subtle, so much so that one of my colleagues did not realise there was scallop within his zucchini flower, even after he had eaten it. I think this was quite wholesome and healthy, though agree that the scallop was a bit hard to find.
I didn’t really like the calamari, macadamia, and daikon radish. The calamari was raw, fresh, and creamy, and all of the flavours worked well, except for the fact that certain mouthfuls had an unexplained bitterness that I could not reconcile. I don’t know what the bitter elements of the dish were, but they really hurt its quality for me. My partner who ate from a separate serving did not taste any bitterness at all. I wonder if it was an intentionally included flavour or rather a problem with quality.
The Moreton Bay Bug in carrot and saffron ($32 supplement per bug) is one of Arthur’s house specialties – a dish that persists throughout multiple iterations of the menu. The bug was large and generous, with all non-edible arms and other bits picked off and the cavity opened for convenience of eating. Another slight complaint with Arthur’s QA again here – the quality of meat was a little inconsistent, with some bugs more meaty and others a bit too soft. The sauce had a delicious strong seafood taste, quite similar to the prawn head sauce at Moxhe. We fell into the trap of only ordering three bugs between five diners as suggested by our waiter, but I think we really could’ve gone for one each. They are a high value add-on.
This is a little deep fried dough ball which comes with the Moreton Bay Bug to help soak up the sauce. The dough ball is very tasty, a little bit sweet, and very fresh on its own. I wish we could have had more of these. They’re little donuts.
We returned to the base set menu with the Grilled kingfish, nasturtium, green tomato. The kingfish was really delicious, with a tasty crispy skin and soft flesh with a delicate internal taste and texture. The natrutium, green tomato, and green sauce I thought was a bit unnecessary but in no way offensive. My one complaint with this dish is the miniature size of the serving we got to share between two. It was around one third of the serving our other colleagues received between three. Kingfish is really not an expensive fish and I think a bit more (or even a bit more care in portioning) would’ve gone a long way.
The third “bread” of the night was a potato scroll with silverbeet and black garlic sauce. I liked this. It had a nice savoury taste. The sauce which looked like chocolate was not.
The dry aged borrowdale pork loin was really good. The pork had a little bit of crispy fattiness around the edges, and was otherwise tender throughout. The sauce it was served in was full of umami flavours.
The plum and cherry with cultured cream was a tart little side dish served with the pork. Not super memorable.
Lettuce was even less memorable.
The tart of bruny island “tom” (apparently a sheep’s milk), apricot, and cultured cream ($7 supplement per tart) was really good. The cheesiness and the sweet and sour flavours of the apricot really melded together well. The pastry of the tart was thin and light, yet held its structural rigidity well.
The dessert of mango, raspbery, yoghurt was phenomenal. The mango and raspberry, with different crumbs dried to different degrees, provided a broad spectrum of sweet and tangy tastes to the yoghurt base. This was widely enjoyed by all colleagues around the table. Really special.
The final course was this housemade wagon wheel. It was a bit darker and less sweet than the wagon wheels from the supermarket but apart from that not really something to write home about.
We shared a bottle of Ngeringa Uncultured Cider ($50) around the table. It was pretty good, quite dry without much sweetness, but refreshing.
VERDICT I think that reading through this blog post I’ve indicated a few hits and a few misses, but ultimately the dining experience at Arthur was very good and cohesive with all aspects taken into account. It’s probably been one of our top meals of the year. I would definitely recommend splurging for the Moreton Bay Bug as it is one of the shining stars of the meal.
We paid $138 per person including drinks and it was money well spent. The base price for the meal is $90 per person but doesn’t include oysters, the bug, or the cheese tart.
“Humble Bakery is pretty humble and quiet,” my friend said to me after my visit yesterday, “don’t let too many people know.”
“Don’t worry.” I replied. “No one reads my blog anyway.”
Humble Bakery is located on Holt St in Surry Hills, surrounded by plenty of ticketed parking. Venture around the corner onto Hart St, however, and you might just be able to snag a free one hour park. The cafe has high ceilings, large light-filled windows, and an open kitchen, allowing curious diners the opportunity to surreptitiously take photos of their work.
I had brunch on a Sunday morning with just one other customer around a large communal table, with room for at least another ten and some more classic dining tables on the back platform. While Humble Bakery might have been able to fly under the radar up to now, the quality of its offerings suggest to me that this anonymity is unlikely to last, regardless of what kind of review I empty into the river.
The Croissant around LP’s Pig Head Sausage ($10) is widely lauded but I think ultimately not as great as it could be. LP’s smallgoods are generally unfaultable, and it’s hard to not like a dish that incorporates them. The missing X factor is the croissant (ie. the Bakery’s domain), which I felt was colder than it should’ve been. I feel like this kind of croissant sausage roll should be warm inside and out, and even though I was eating in it just felt lukewarm. Not really a great buy for $10, I wouldn’t recommend this.
The Pork Belly Roll with kimchi, carrot, jalapenos and mayonnaise ($18) is truly very good. The bread is fresh and warm, perfect for soaking up all of the flavourful juices of the roll. The pork belly is undersold on the menu – there is no mention of it being five spice pork belly, and an accurate representation of it at that. The kimchi, carrot, and jalapenos (mild) add a delicious freshness to the roll. This was a really great sandwich, much better than the LP’s pig head croissant, and one that I would strongly recommend. A surprisingly coherent Asian fusion roll – just don’t compare it to your local Hot Bread store’s in terms of price.
VERDICT My meal started off weak but ended up strong. I’d like to come back to Humble Bakery when I get the chance.