Posts Tagged: restaurant

Japan 2016: Kaiseki at Gion Nanba

Gion Nanba: Frapuccions at Starbucks!

Frapuccions at Starbucks!

What would a birthday in Japan be without a special dining experience? Let’s get the bad out of the way first, I made reservations online for Gion Nanba (one Michelin star) about two weeks prior to the date which seemed to go smoothly, but when we arrived, they did not have our reservation listed at all. I had the confirmation on my phone though, and fortunately it was a Tuesday so they weren’t so busy that they couldn’t slot us in 45 minutes later, there was no one else eating at the counter that night that we saw. I think somehow it would be best to confirm a day or two prior either via email, phone or even in person if you book online, just to be sure. It’s opposite a Starbucks in Gion so we went across the road and chilled with some frapuccinos until our time had come.

So second time around we got our seats at the counter and by this time ready to gorge (as much as you can gorge eating such a meal), I was so eager I pretty much fell into the leg pit and banged my knee. I didn’t realise there was space to dangle your legs at the counter rather than just sitting cross legged.

  • Kaiseki: Persimmon, crab, gluten, and a flower
    Persimmon, crab, gluten, and a flower
  • Kaiseki: Sake bottle
    Sake bottle
  • Kaiseki: Sea eel, mountain potato, spinach, and yuzu
    Sea eel, mountain potato, spinach, and yuzu

Starters

We started off by ordering some sake letting the lady recommend us the type, we had it hot. You can probably see from the pictures how nice the dinner ware is, everything is so intricate and pretty, and especially wabi-sabi (my new favourite term!).

Sushi and Sashimi

  • Kaiseki: Nanba slicing the sashimi
    Nanba slicing the sashimi
  • Kaiseki: Sashimi
    Sashimi
  • Kaiseki: Sushi condiments
    Sushi condiments
  • Kaiseki: Sushi and other stuff
    Sushi and other stuff

Next up were the sushi and sashimi courses, the sashimi consisted of squid, bonito, sea bream, and tuna, while the sushi (and other stuff) had anko fish liver (top right behind the lead), salmon roe, mackerel sushi, and shirako (a river fish) spem sacs (yes, you read that right! Top left with the spring onion garnish). All the usual suspects here except for the fish liver and the fish sperm sacs, the liver didn’t taste like liver but I’ve never had fish liver before so maybe that’s what it normally tastes like, it didn’t seem to taste like mercury at all (:D). The sperm sacs, well this was actually one of the most memorable items on the menu that night, it tasted really good once you forget what it is you’re eating. The texture is like custard and it’s a bit salty, and a bit sweet, the hard part was getting over what I was eating, it wasn’t that hard, I just needed to eat it.

Turnips, Soba, and Rice

  • Kaiseki: Spanish Mackerel, pickled turnip
    Spanish Mackerel, pickled turnip
  • Kaiseki: Nanba Chefs at work
    Chefs at work
  • Kaiseki: Soba
    Soba
  • Kaiseki: Steamed turnip, snapper, and gingko nuts
    Steamed turnip, snapper, and gingko nuts
  • Kaiseki: Rice and Miso soup
    Rice and Miso soup

Down to the staples now with soba, rice, and miso soup, clearly turnip is in season as there were two dishes with turnip, and it was really cool that it was done two ways. That petal shaped bowl was very interesting as well.

Dessert and Matcha Tea

  • Kaiseki: Raspberry iced cream, grape, pear, and wine jelly
    Raspberry iced cream, grape, pear, and wine jelly
  • Kaiseki: Mochi
    Mochi
  • Kaiseki: Matcha tea
    Matcha tea

We finished with some very yummy desserts, especially the wine jelly, it all sounds very sweet but it really wasn’t, just really, really well made, in great harmony and balanced so well as you would expect. I’m not 100% sure if the mochi wasn’t extra (as an apology) or not, I don’t remember seeing the people before us getting that. And then washed down with a traditional tea ceremony style matcha green tea.

This was almost three weeks ago, and you may have noticed that I didn’t actually comment on the taste of the food that much, unfortunately I didn’t take detailed notes on the night (preferring to just be in the moment, I didn’t even take these pictures!) and obviously I can’t remember how most of the dishes tasted now, but I can say this, if there was anything subpar I definitely would remember it. We can safely assume that this meal was a highlight and that we enjoyed everything, except the whole “didn’t have our reservation” issue. It was a great meal, especially seeing the ingredients that were used, you wouldn’t normally think of a lot of this stuff. And watching the chefs at work up close and being able to see the utensils that they use, the pots and pans, and the oven, it was all very cool.

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Sorrento: Buckley’s Chance

Just a quick restaurant review from our trip down to Sorrento a couple weekends ago, with a slight focus on the beach side town as well. We went down there (mainly for emmy to go shopping) but also to see what else was interesting, I knew it was down Mornington Peninsula way but didn’t realise exactly where it was, quite close to a couple of very nice places, Point Nepean to the west, and Cape Schanck to the southeast.

Buckley's chance

Buckley’s chance, too hungry, forgot to take picture before digging in.

But as a day trip, we didn’t really have time to visit any other place since we left quite late in the morning, we had some lunch, emmy did some shopping, we wandered along the beach for a bit, and then went home. So, about lunch, we went to Buckley’s Chance which seems to be the go-to cafe in the area, as emmy went there a few weeks ago and didn’t remember that it was the same place until we got there.

Let’s start with the food, I ordered a pulled pork burger (has a pickled cabbage salad and chips on the side), emmy got fish and chips (so boring!), and we got some fried eggs on toast for Oscar. Well, it turns out that we didn’t need the eggs since Oscar just needed chips. My burger was great, the pickled cabbage was a perfect complement to the pork which was very nice and tender. I didn’t try the fish, but the chips were okay, not Grill’d but acceptable I also got an orange juice which was quite substantial, emmy went with a hot choc, nothing special about the beverages but they were reasonable.

One thing that we did notice was the lack of water, we weren’t offered water at any point and it seems like a bit of an oversight, not sure if that is normal for them, but some water would definitely have been good, especially at the end of the meal. Overall, good meal, a bit pricey but that’s pretty normal considering it’s a tourist town.

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Bistro Thierry

Happy Birthday me, 33, just like my number, and multiplying each digit together equals my birthday. Any way, moving on, my better half surprised (as if I didn’t know) me with dinner at a fancy French restaurant, something that we haven’t done before. Bistro Thierry in Prahran is pretty French, from waiters with French accents (mostly) to all the pots and pans, baguettes to escargot, and creme brulee. We each ordered an entree along with a main, and a glass of wine (as chosen by the waiter) and shared the dessert as we usually do. This being a French restaurant, of course we also ordered some traditional French Fries.

I had the steak tartare, while Huyen (her name is not em or emmy) had escargot, I would have to say that the steak tartare was the highlight of the meal for me, beautifully tender and a very flavoursome vinegarette on top. The escargot were yum, but the sauce was probably a bit rich, very buttery, the snails were cleaner (no grit) than the ones we ate in Vietnam, but the sauce was too overpowering.

On to the mains, emmy had one of the fish of the day, pan seared snapper on black rice, she just told me that it was good but did not have any wow factor. Meanwhile, I went with duck confit, it was good except that the skin crackling on top was just too salty. The french fries were good (although we probably should have gone with a salad instead), as were the baguettes on the table.

For dessert we ordered the creme brulee (not pictured) as we tend to do, I liked it, but it wasn’t anything special, I wonder if there is anything that can make it really stand out. That’s it, good service, good atmosphere, food a little pricey, and tending toward being a bit rich (that’s French cuisine I guess), a good meal, but I don’t think that I’d put French food up there in my favourite cuisines.

Steak Tartare

Steak Tartare

Escargot

Escargot

Duck Confit

Duck Confit

Pan seared Snapper

Pan seared Snapper

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Lakes Entrance

It seems like I start every post with how lazy I’ve been in not posting anything, any way, spent Valentines Day weekend in Lakes Entrance hoping for some sun and surf. Well, we didn’t really get any of that, there was a bit of sun on the Saturday morning, but fog on Friday, and smoke haze the rest of the time made the trip a bit disappointing. With em’s big pregnant belly we weren’t able to do any significant walks, mostly just along the beach and along the esplanade. So while I was hoping to get a bunch of starry night shots the weather decided that I had to settle for a bunch of random photos and work on my portrait photography. Oh well, maybe another time we can head back and the weather will be nicer, or go somewhere else, I’m desperate to go somewhere and take some landscape photos.
We did at least eat well, and I can whole-heartedly recommend the places that we ate at:
  • In Bairnsdale, we stopped for lunch and ate at the Wooden Squirrel, I had a very nice lamb and rosemary burger.
  • Had a dinner at the Boathouse Restaurant at the Bellevue Hotel, some nice fish, etc.
  • We had lunch in Metung the next day at Bancroft Bites, I had a steak sandwich, dare I say the best I’ve ever had (I don’t normally like steak sandwiches, but this one was a good one). Em had some coconut crumbed prawns, very nice.
  • Finally, we had fish and chips at Footbridge Fish and Chips on Myer Street in Lakes Entrance, good fish (blue grenadier), fresh, real fresh, it seems, and a lot of chips for what you pay, definitely the fish and chips for two was a big meal, we went there twice we were so happy with it.

Well, any way, that’s pretty much it, not sure when I will post next, or what, maybe just some random thing with some photos, White Night maybe.

  • Parrot at the Goat and Goose
    Parrot at the Goat and Goose
  • Pier at Metung
    Pier at Metung
  • Lakes Entrance
    Lakes Entrance
  • Lakes Entrance
    Lakes Entrance

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Tempura Hajime

A little Japanese restaurant in South Melbourne, very little, only 12 seats, specialising in tempura (obviously). You walk in and immediately feel like you’re in Japan, all the little plates, the orderliness, the Japanese business men. We arrived a bit after 6.30pm (what a pain getting into the city on a Friday evening) and made out way in. There are only three set menu options on the menu, the tempura set, and two tempura + sushi sets, we just went with the tempura set because Emmy can’t eat raw fish now (although there is some sashimi that she had to swap for cooked salmon). I didn’t take pictures of every dish because they were little bits of fried vegies or whatnot.

We got a starter of sashimi (cooked salmon), followed immediately by the tempura, sweet corn (just kernels, no idea how they kept it all together), asparagus, prawn, chicken and egg plant, sweet potato, tuna and avocado, zucchini and salmon, scallop and sea urchin, king dory and shiso, mushroom and prawn meat (my favourite), finished with some kakiageidon (rice with seafood vegie), and dessert of panna cotta (I forgot what they actually called it). Each dish is just a morsel really but when you eat at a pace like that where the chef is placing something new on the dish every ten minutes or so, you just feel content (or maybe you get full on drinks).

Two thumbs up, it’s great tempura, fresh and crunchy without feeling greasy, and served in a way that doesn’t make you bloated nor do you feel hungry despite the small portions. (On a side note, these pictures were taken with Emmy’s new second-hand X100, which I’ll be reviewing/posting later).

  • Sashimi
    Sashimi
  • Teapot
    Teapot
  • Scallop and sea urchin
    Scallop and sea urchin
  • Kakiagedon
    Kakiagedon
  • Panacotta
    Panacotta

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Chin Chin

What’s this? A restaurant review? What has this site become? Some wanky foodie themed poo poo page? Well, obviously not, this site will continue to be that random no-theme-post-whatever-comes-to-mind out of focus blog with no core theme apart from yours truly. Any way back to the topic at hand, Chin Chin, an Asian/Thai fusion restaurant on Flinders Lane in the CBD, we had so much fun that I thought I have to post this, also I did the Asian thing and took pictures of everything. We got there just before 6pm on a Friday evening, and were told that it was a one hour wait, but they took our number and would get back to us when our table was ready. So while there is no booking, at least if you get in reasonably early you can get a table guaranteed reasonably quickly. We got in there just after 7pm and sat down, we’d read about the “Feed me” option earlier and pretty much had our hearts set on that. The waiter came over and explained that it was probably too much food for two of us, and that they could give us four or five dishes for the same price and we wouldn’t feel too full. But being the Asians that we are, we just went for the full thing, which is seven dishes picked by the staff, so basically it’s not a degustation as that would consist of several small dishes, there were seven good size dishes. What they failed to tell us at the beginning was that if there were four of us we would have gotten the same amount of food, so basically we ate food enough for four. On to the dishes, the kingfish sashimi was the first dish out and was very yummy, we knocked that one off very quickly. The school prawn and the pork belly wrap were next, I liked the wrap very much, kind of like a cross between Peking Duck and Vietnamese rice paper roll. I’m not a big fan of school prawn so can’t really comment on it, it was edible, but you know. The caramelised fish and pork belly and pad siew were next. The fish was a bit too salty for my taste but perhaps might have worked with some rice, the pork was good as pork belly usually is. The pad siew I thought was a bit too salty, the noodles were really soft and smooth, but I thought the beef was a little overcooked.

Crispy skin duck was next, and to be honest I thought it was a bit dry, it needed some sauce, the final dish of the night was supposed to be the soft shell crab curry (served with rice), but at this point we were way too full to handle a curry and decided to switch to a papaya salad for something a bit lighter. The salad was good (I especially love my plating!), would have been better as an earlier dish, but at that point it was either that or dessert, but we decided to go the whole hog (to a degree) and get the seventh dish. Then we finished off with a dessert of palm sugar iced cream with lime syrup, there was actually another iced cream in there but I can’t remember what it was, there was also honeycomb, so it was pretty bloody sweet, except for the lime syrup which was bitter and once mixed with the sweet iced cream would balance the flavours. I thought the iced cream was too sweet and didn’t really like the fact that waiting for the iced cream to melt to get the flavour balanced as we were left with a melted pool of iced cream. Sheesh, after all that bloody food we were totally bloated, and I was just about ready to burst. This was truly a contest, me versus all the food, and Em versus the waiter. He was quite wanky, coming over and explaining each dish with all the superlatives and adjectives usually associated with Masterchef, and seemed to become particularly smug the longer we went, getting visibly more distressed (probably) until we finally managed to finish the meal and were ready to leave. So if you’re keeping score, we won 2-0 :D.

I do apologise for the orientation of the pictures, but WordPress seems to be cracking it with the iphone 5 pictures.

Kingfish Sashimi

Kingfish Sashimi

School Prawn

School Prawn

Pork Wrap

Pork Wrap

Caramelisd Fish and Pork Belly

Caramelisd Fish and Pork Belly

Pad Siew

Pad Siew

Roast Duck

Roast Duck

Papaya Salad

Papaya Salad

Palm Sugar Iced Cream

Palm Sugar Iced Cream

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