Thursday, January 20, 2011

Menya Noodle Bar, Haymarket

So many eons ago, in a far bygone era (2009) I was introduced to tonkotsu ramen (ramen in pork-based broth) at Gumshara Ramen by the lovely Miss Fi (aka Asian food guru) and I was instantly obsessed. I became a frequent visitor and gaily joined the cult proclaiming it to be the "best ramen in Sydney" without even realising that I haven't actually eat that much ramen in Sydney. If any. So, keen to validate this statement I set out on my Sydney Ramen Safari, and at what better time - Gumshara was closed for two weeks for the new year, giving me the perfect excuse to embark on this endeavour. Which brings us here - first stop, Menya Noodle Bar (Chinatown).

I visited Menya after UTS Info Day with Geo and Johnson (cute couple) and it took some searching but we found it tucked away in Chinatown. It's a fairly small noodle bar, you pay up front and sit at a long communal table, listening to the shouts of the chefs (we contemplate for a moment whether they're legitimately announcing things or just taking the piss).

Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen, Menya
Tonkotsu shoyu Menya ramen $9.30

My tonkotsu shoyu Menya ramen arrives soon enough in very big bowls topped with one slice of cha-su (roasted pork), bamboo, naruto (Japanese fish cake), scallions, a sheet of nori, half an egg and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. The noodles were a thinner variety, but still perfectly chewy, the pork was so tender it almost falls apart when you pick it up and had a almost sweet, fatty, melt-in-your-mouth flavour. The broth was thin with a soy base, and I found it quite oily. From memory it was sort of sweet, and tasted very different to what I am used to. I also wished the egg was soft boiled, but having been seasoned (soy cured I think?) it was still very tasty.

Gyoza $6.90 (6 pieces)

The gyoza was deliciously moreish, the wrapping was soft and thin, the bottoms deliciously crisp and the pork filling was good from what I remember and went very nicely with the dipping sauce (sorry no details, I forgot to take notes). On a side note, Johnson (token white guy) cannot use chopsticks and we had to find him a fork. Laugh at his incompetence! We did.

Menya Noodle Bar
Shop TG8, 8 Quay Street, Haymarket 2000
Telephone: (02) 9212 1020

Menya on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hwa Gae Korean Restaurant, Eastwood

My friend Fiona had just arrived back in Sydney after a month-long trip to the US, and keen for catching up I decided to head up her way to Eastwood for lunch. As a well-acquainted local, she knows all the best places around the suburb to eat and we decide on Hwa Gae Korean Restaurant. When we first arrived at 1PM it was already full, so we ended up getting some snacks and shopping before going back at around 2. By then we weren't too hungry, and the menus wasn't very big so Fi suggested we share the dolsot bibimbap, a popular Korean dish compromised of rice, mixed vegetables, meat and egg served in a hot pot.

Hwa Gae_starters
Banchan side dishes

Banchan (side dishes) were quickly brought out and included kimchi, kongnamul (bean sprouts), potato salad, jeon (Korean pancake) and ojingeochae bokkeum (dried shredded shrimp). These were refilled without request, although Fi says she's been there many times before and it's the first time they've done this. The kimchi was okay, sufficiently spicy and sour but my favourite was the jeon and potato salad. We also received two bowls of clear broth with shallots, which I assume went with the bibimbap that followed right after.

Hwa Gae dolsot bibimbamp
Dolsot bibimbamp $13.80

Hwa Gae dolsot bibimbamp
Mixing the bibimbap

The bibimbap arrived with spinach, cucumber, bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, carrot, gosari and beef mince topped off with a fresh egg yolk and a generous scattering of sesame seeds. Fiona does the honours and breaks the egg yolk, mixing all the toppings through the rice and adding Korean BBQ sauce. The result was a sizzling, scrummy mixture of vegetables, rice and meat held together by bits of egg and sauce, with the layer of rice at the edge of the bowl cooked crisp to a golden brown colour - you can see the steam rising off the edges of the bowl.

Dolsot Bibimbamp
Before & after

Hwa Gae Korean Restaurant
8 Railway Pde, Eastwood 2122
Telephone: (02) 9874 3788

Hwa Gae on Urbanspoon