Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jamie's Italian, Sydney CBD

One of the biggest talks of the town this month is Jamie Oliver's newest enterprise, the second international incarnation of his successful Italian restaurant franchise, the very creatively named Jamie's Italian. Never having been big on celebrity chefs, Masterchefs or what have you, we were curiously driven by the hype to see what was on offer. We managed to arrive early enough to avoid the inevitable long queue for dinner and pleasantly discovered reasonable prices, attentive staff and lovely food.

Bread, Jamie's Italian
Italian Bread Selection

A selection of complimentary breads (house-made focaccia, sourdough, ciabatta, tortano and carta di musica) arrived swiftly after ordering, drizzled with pesto and accompanied by a dish of extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic. A perfect way to whet our appetites.

Arancini, Jamie's Italian
Smoky Scamorza Arancini $9.50

We started with the smoky scamorza arancini, three rice balls stuffed with smoked mozzarella and porcini. Topped generously with parmesan, they were freshly fried to a crisp on the outside with soft melty innards of cheese and mushroom.

Crispy Squid, Jamie's Italian
Crispy Squid $12

I could never pass up the offer of deep-fried anything with garlic and so along came the crispy squid - fried with chilli and garlic and served with a 'really garlicky mayo'. This was so insanely moreish and flavoursome that my dining companions had to ration the leftover chilli pieces.

Bucatini Carbonara, Jamie's Italian
Bucatini Carbonara $12 (entrée size)

The bucatini carbonara seemed to be a popular choice, and Sam broke her no-pork rule to eat it. Consisting of tubular spaghetti with fried smoked pancetta and leek tossed with free-range eggs and parmesan, it was indulgently rich with a creamy, silky sauce. The pasta here was lauded by a sign near the entrance stating that it is made fresh daily on-site.

Buffalo Ricotta Ravioli, Jamie's Italian
Buffalo Ricotta Ravioli $21

The buffalo ricotta ravioli was a recommendation of our waitress and described on the menu as 'pure heaven', which was more than enough persuasion for the Ninja. Delicate parcels stuffed with creamed ricotta, lemon, mint and parmesan, it was a unique combination which was indeed pure heaven. I had one taste and developed some pretty major food envy.

Risotto Milanese, Jamie's Italian
Risotto Milanese $21

The words 'roasted bone marrow' pulled on my heart strings and soon the risotto Milanese was mine. The bright yellow saffron and parmesan risotto was creamy and delicate, with melt-in-your-mouth roasted bone marrow that was accompanied by some piquancy from the lemon peel in the aromatic gremolata.

Panna Cotta, Jamie's Italian
Creamy Panna Cotta $8.50

Dessert for me was the panna cotta, served that day with a pear compote. Wobbly, creamy and speckled with vanilla bean, this was my first time eating panna cotta and the start of my developing love for the milk pudding.

Brioche con Gelato, Jamie's Italian
Brioche con Gelato $9.50

Sam went for the brioche con gelato, compromised of toasted brioche, lemon marmellata, lemon and strawberry gelato in the form of two sliders. Probably not a good idea for anyone concerned about their waistline as it was layer upon layer of indulgence - buttery brioche, lemon marmalade with candied peel, rich strawberry and lemon ice-cream and topped with more of the brioche bun and sprinkled with pistachios and sugar.

Sorbet, Jamie's Italian
Sorbets $8

The sorbet flavours of the day were passionfruit, green apple and lemon. Our unanimous favourite was the green apple, unique and wonderfully sweet and refreshing. All-in-all, a satisfying meal that was more wallet-friendly than one would expect.

Jamie's Italian
207 Pitt St, Sydney 2000
Telephone: (02) 8240 9000

Jamie's Italian on Urbanspoon

Din Tai Fung Dumpling Bar, Westfield Sydney

Quick post! Once again late to jump on the bandwagon of Din Tai Fung, we visited the branch in the Sydney Westfield food court for lunch last week. I love the open kitchen, watching the chefs expertly form pleats in the dim-sum is mesmerising.

Steamed Pork Dumpling Xiao Long Bao, Din Tai Fung
Steamed Pork Dumpling Xiao Long Bao $5.80 (4 pieces)

The taste of the xiao long bao brought me some nostalgia for my childhood growing up in Shanghai. My grandmother had a saying for how I ate these steamed pork dumplings - 'yi kou, yi ze', meaning I used to devour these in a single mouthful at a time. But I digress, these are perfect delicate parcels filled with tender pork and a good amount of soup.

Steamed Vegetarian Jiao Ze, Din Tai Fung
Steamed Vegetarian Jiao Ze $5.80 (4 pieces)

The steamed vegetarian jiao ze were beautifully made but kinda underwhelming flavour-wise. However the wrappers were perfect with just the right amount of elasticity.

Steamed Shrimp & Pork Shao Mai, Din Tai Fung
Steamed Shrimp & Pork Shao Mai $9.80 (4 pieces)

I'm a sucker for shao mai and the steamed shrimp and pork shao mai here is fantastic, tasty little parcels of soft pork mince and shrimp.

Shrimp & Pork Wonton tossed with Spicy Sauce, Din Tai Fung
Shrimp & Pork Wonton tossed with Spicy Sauce $6.50 (4 pieces)

The shrimp and pork wonton tossed with spicy sauce was a winner, the wontons were faultless and the spicy sauce had kick but was tasty and mild enough for a chilli wimp like me to handle.

Soy Bean Milk, Din Tai Fung
Soy Bean Milk $3

Sweet soy bean milk is a breakfast classic in China and tastes just as good here. The food here is good authentic Chinese, it kinda strikes me as cleaned up versions of seedy but fantastic restaurants in Ashfield.

Din Tai Fung
Level 5, Westfield Sydney
Market St, Sydney 2000

Din Tai Fung Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hurricane's Grill & Bar, Ryde

I'll ashamedly admit that last week was my first ever visit to Hurricane's Grill & Bar. I've seen the pictures of giant slabs of meat, listened people go on and on about the ribs and still managed to somehow bypass the expanding steakhouse franchise. But no longer - last Wednesday night I was finally met with more meat than I could ever ask for.

Half Rack Pork Ribs, Hurricanes Bar and Grill
Hurricane's Pork Ribs with Chips $29.90 (Half Rack)

Following the advice of my carnivorous friend Sharon, I went for half a rack of Hurricane's pork ribs, a glistening arc of bone and meat, glazed in their special basting sauce. Underneath rested a golden river of crunchy chips, but they were of course mere accessory to the big slab of pork. The edges were slightly charred and crispy, the rest of the meat was falling-off-the-bone tender and all drenched their sweet, smokey BBQ sauce. This is also the first time I've had proper ribs and was hence introduced to the messy, sticky ordeal of eating like a caveman. But it was worth it.

Rump Steak, Hurricanes Bar and Grill
Rump Steak 350gm with Baked Potato $33 with Mushroom Sauce $2.50

All steaks and ribs are accompanied by a choice of chips or baked potato with sour cream, my dining companion Geo opted for the baked potato, which I ended up eating (because I am a pig). Rather unexciting when one could have the unhealthier deep-fried version of potato, but c'est la vie. As far as I could tell the rump steak was more than enough a serving for an average person at the smallest size of 350 grams, and looked very nicely done and tender. I didn't have a taste and in retrospect, I regret not doing so just from looking at the photo.

Bacon and Cheese Burger, Hurricanes Bar and Grill
Cheese and Bacon Burger $22

The less adventurous of our dining party opted for burgers, which actually looked really good but in my humble opinion, paled in comparison when there were ribs and steak on the offer. There was also complimentary bread for the table, lovely brown rolls with flaky crusts and soft, warm centres that were perfect for mopping up sauces.

Pepper Burger, Hurricanes Bar and Grill
Pepper Burger $21.50

We visited the newest Hurricanes branch at Top Ryde City, a huge glossy establishment with lovely staff who managed to squeeze in our group of eighteen without a booking (on a Wednesday night). Having worked as a waitress before, I know how annoying big groups can be, but it was all worked out with a minimal wait, so snaps for them!

Hurricane's Grill & Bar
Top Ryde City Shopping Centre, Cnr Devlin St And Blaxland Rd, Ryde 2112
Telephone: 02 9130 7101

Hurricane's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon