Monday, November 4, 2019

Est.

Celebrating special occasions is always a good excuse to go fine dining. Celebrated 2 years with my fiancé here at Est. Originally I wanted to do a degustation, or 4 course dinner, but with train delays after work, only had time for 3 courses. Looking at the menu, the second entree choices weren't that exciting either. I've been wanting to come here for a while now, and although I don't blog about food often anymore, I guess fine dining takes a priority when blogging (in between organising a wedding etc).

 
One of the last to leave

Located a level above the Establishment bar where it is super loud, you arrive at this restaurant which is a stark contrast. The sound proofing they used is on point, because you wouldn't even know it's a very loud bar right under you. They have a champagne, wine and whisky/rum cart around the restaurant, but didn't opt for any drinks (not a student anymore, but as a new grad with minimal savings, I can't afford to drink when going out). Three courses were $135pp.


homemade sourdough

The crust was crunchy and a little bit sweet, which actually paired well with the butter. A simple non flavoured butter, which melted straight away as the bread still had steam coming out. Halfway through the dinner I asked them to clean the bread crumbs from the crust, but they misheard and thought I asked for another bread, so we got another bread. This bread was pretty big to start with, and so I was already starting to get full.

entrees

The drink in the top right was a cocktail of lychee and other fruity flavours, but tbh, for around $20, it just tasted like pineapple juice with some edible flowers. The lychee flavour was very subtle. It was nice to have a sweet drink to balance the savoury dishes.

coal grilled marron, salt and vinegar cabbage, laver, lardo dumpling

dumpling as a side dish

First time having a side dish accompaniment to an entree. The marron was cooked to perfection and very fresh. Loved the texture of the cabbage since it gave it a crunch and not too vinergry. The laver helped season the dish a bit more. Not sure what the purpose of the dumpling was though, but it had some peas and a tiny bit of prawn was a clear consommé for more seafood flavour.

handpicked crab, cavolo nero, hazelnut, horseradish, trout roe, lemon jam

There was a decent amount of crab which wasn't overpowered by the different elements on the plate. The lemon jam helped give it a bit of creaminess and lightness, hazelnut and cavolo nero (Italian kale) for some crunch, and trout roe for some more flavour. The horseradish wasn't too strong either. 

Lamb loin and belly, smoked broccoli, young garlic, curd, black olive

Lamb was cooked medium rare wasn't chewy. Loved the garlic sauce, probs the best I've had, and balanced well with the black olives. You could definitely smell smokiness from the broccoli but didn't taste like you were eating charcoal.


Rose veal, eggplant, green shallot, bone marrow, toasted milk, yeast

Veal was also cooked to medium rare. The sauce was a bit more heavy and saltier in this one, probably from the bone marrow. The toasted milk on top was a cute addition and a fun bit of crunch.

dessert

raspberry vacherin, buffalo curd, hibiscus, kaffir lime, raspberry sorbet

inside

Such a fun dessert to eat, you smash the vacherin meringue and inside it has raspberry bits, sauce, and the buffalo curd. Would have been nice to have more sorbet and curd to cut through the sweetness of the meringue and sauce. Meringue was light and crunchy.

baked apple, puff pastry, artichoke, miso caramel ice cream

For the second dessert, wasn't sure which one to pick, since I didn't want a chocolate dessert. This was the most popular one after the chocolate dessert. The puff pastry was super light and loved the bits of apple inside. The artichoke added a bit of a different dimension to it helping to cut back the sweetness. The ice cream only had a subtle hint of miso flavour. I would've liked more, but I guess miso is a strong flavour, and anymore would be too overpowering.


Complimentary special occasion chocolate cake

Cute dark chocolate mousse cake with a candle. This was quite dense so definitely shareable even though it was small.

petit fours: beignet and dark chocolate + white chocolate truffles

The beignet were served warm and very light and fluffy. The dark chocolate had a good bitterness to it, so went well with the sweet white choc. Wasn't expecting petit fours for a 3 course meal, so it was a nice little treat afterwards. We were so full by the end of the night. Lucky didn't end up getting 4 courses or the degustation. I guess we could've eaten more courses, just probably cut back on the complimentary bread (but bread was so nice, and it wouldn't make sense to not eat it). Overall, it was a nice dinner, but nothing mind blowing. I think these days I'm easily pleased with all food, since I've travelled to both Europe and America only in the past year, Asia the year before, and have conquered a lot of Sydney top restaurants. It just takes something extra for a dish to be mind blowing or create flavours never heard of before.

Est. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, October 25, 2019

Bridge Climb Sydney

Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge has been on my bucketlist for ages. So when I saw they were celebrating their 21st birthday climbing the bridge for $95, I wanted to try get a ticket for it. The morning they released the tickets, I was in queue for over 2 hours, and had to leave for work so couldn't wait any longer. Lots of people on social media complained, and they asked people to leave their emails to receive another special deal. I left my email, then got a phone call a few weeks later. I didn't bother replying to the call until one week later. Turns out they offered the same price for the people who tried to buy the birthday tickets to any chosen date and time in October - even better! So I booked it on my day off. In hindsight, I forgot to account for daylight savings, as ideally I would've liked to climb during twilight for pretty sunsets. Can't complain since rrp is around $308pp for a day climb, and we were so lucky to have such blue skies and clear views.

If I was a tourist, I would definitely recommend doing this climb. As a local, not really. The views are different up there, but you can imagine what they would look like, especially if you work in a tall building in the CBD, or even when you walk/drive/train it across the bridge. It's like how I paid over $300 for a train ride up the Swiss Alps just to see mountains which are free in nature. The bridge was funded by tax payers and is essentially free to use (apart from driving toll frees), so to climb it and pay that extra money as a tourist for different views, it's worth it.

They have changed the suits and harnesses over the years. We got a full body harness with this bit connected to a wire so you can't overtake the person in front, although it's mainly to attach stuff to you, and not really there to keep you falling off. There were strings and clips to attach: sunglasses, hats, handkerchief, and rain/wind jackets in case you want extra warmth. They also have beanies, gloves and head torches for colder or night climbs. You can't bring anything up there for safety purposes.

You can't actually fall off since there are so many rails and below you is solid, since the bridge is solid steel. The only see through part is coming out from under the building where it starts to connect to the bridge and also crossing from one side to the other at the summit. The see through metal grates is cool since you can see the cars below you from a height of 134m. Things don't appear that small since you're still in relatively close proximity, and you're not actually that high up. It is windy up there, but not to the point where you're getting blown over. I'm so unfit, because 3 days later my calves still ache a bit. The actual climb isn't hard, it's a smooth gradient...just I don't really use my muscles anymore...

Of course, just had to buy some overpriced photos, because I'll probably never climb up again nor have the chance to buy these photos. Good family bonding time with my Mum and brother.

about 1/3 of the way up

at the summit

Monday, October 21, 2019

6 months to go

This year has really flew up. Christmas decorations are already up in shops, and before we know it, it's Christmas. Full time work really does make time pass a lot faster. Each year seems to pass by faster (apart from beginning of 2017 when I had nothing to do except my research project on uni...) I still remember being really depressed about the whole ordeal end of 2016, but time does make things easier. Although I'm still a bit salty about the situation, looking at the bigger picture in hindsight, I just graduated a year behind my original cohort, and at the time also being sad about 'losing one year's worth of income.' In the end, we can't die with our money, and all the 'riches' we earn on Earth is useless in Heaven. The material things we have on Earth isn't ours to begin with, and God didn't call us to chase all the worldly things on Earth.

This brings me to wedding planning. I haven't done anything since 5 months ago. We're at the stage of 'let's get married already' because there are so many details in between to figure out. I know that I shouldn't get caught up in the small details since it's just one day, and it's the days after that matters most. I really don't like how the culture makes it to be 'the best day of your life, so you need the best stuff'. Not gonna lie, it's so hard not to compare to other people. At the end of our lives, God isn't gonna be like 'well done on a well executed picture perfect wedding'. Amidst all the planning and thinking I don't have enough money for 'x,y,z' since I don't have many savings compared to people who graduated a year, or to, or three years ago, I really have to remind myself to take a step back at how blessed I am to even have a wedding in the first place. The money spent on a 'budget' wedding can probably fund a new building at the Indian orphanage we visited earlier this year. It also doesn't help when I see other Christians on social media having such extravagant weddings...I still get confused about all this, but everyone has different priorities in their life/when planning a wedding. I'm thankful for our pastor preparing weekly 'marriage counselling' sessions to really understand what the meaning of marriage is as a Christian. Something that you build together to strengthen and deepen the relationship everyday.

I'm the type to freak out if something doesn't go according to plan on the day. Things will probably go wrong on the day, but I need to remind myself it doesn't matter. It's the days after which matter more.

So what do on my days off? Currently dealing with home insurance since April. Nothing has progressed, and it involves hourly phone calls each week. Makes me think do I really need to live in a house? So many things can break and home insurance is so annoying to deal with, and also expensive to insure and purchase a house in the first place. Living in an apartment reduces the amount of space you have, but there's strata to fix stuff, then I don't want to live in a dodgy apartment which hasn't been built properly...like the poor residents of the Mascot Building and Opal Towers who for some owners, put their life savings in it and their investment has literally crumbled...Just like weddings, at the end we can't take our house into heaven, and we don't die with it...just temporary on earth, so I shouldn't be so caught up and emotionally anguished by house insurance claims and making us paying for extra repairs...

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Quarter Century

It doesn't ever feel different when you become a year older, until it really hits you that you are older. One thing I realised I was looking forward to is renting a car if I ever need to, without a premium insurance fee. Also figuring out health insurance was such a waste of time. That's probs the 2 main things which really 'solidifies' the extra stuff you have to do once you hit 25.

Pandan and coconut

This flavour got deleted literally 2 days after I ordered the cake, so I forgot what other flavour it had. It had layers of a darker choc sable, bits of mango and a lemony curd/sauce inside. The pandan was quite subtle in the mousse. It wasn't really sweet and the slightly sour lemony mango inside help balance it.


I have a thing where I like to have the exact amount of candles as the year I'm turning. Surprised 25 candles managed to fit on this small cake.

layers

Red velvet cake from Michel's Patisserie

Manager at work buys everyone a cake on their bday. Glad they chose this flavour for me (not a big fan of chocolate), but either way I wouldn't mind. She even puts in candles which is cute.


Thanks g8s for these cakes! Love trying new flavours. The mango and yuzu was the favourite of the night, also an og so you can't go wrong. I quite liked the guava and strawberry too, so cool how they're making more cakes shaped like fruit tasting like the fruit. No one liked the purple lavender one, I actually didn't mind it. I couldn't taste the soapiness, although it wasn't my favourite it wasn't bad either. The ume slice was delicious as well, full of various flavours. Love catching up with g8s, and was definitely delightedly surprised that Happy Apple came. 

Thanks Happy Apple for my first ever succulent - hope I don't kill it...


85deg Black forest cake

Finished off cake week with a simple cake to share at church. Thanks Blair for the surprise. Although I'm not a big fan of Asian cake, the good thing about 85deg is that it comes with plates, knives, forks and candles, so can literally just buy this cake and eat it anywhere. 

I think I'm caked out...for now....

Monday, August 19, 2019

Tetsuya's

I've been wanting to come try this place for a while, so have been saving up this place for a special occasion with a special person. So for my 25th birthday this year, decided to book the most expensive degustation dinner in Sydney (thanks Blair for the birthday dinner). I've been to a lot of food places in the past year, from fine dining (Bennelong, Catalina, O Bar and Dining, and more)/restaurants/local eats/cafes etc in Sydney, from East Coast to West Coast in America, and throughout Europe as well. Just haven't had time to do food reviews (last one was in Aug 2018 which was a backlog from March 2018), but had to do a post about Tetsuya's.

For a Tuesday night, the restaurant was surprisingly full. I made a booking around 2-3 weeks in advance, and was seated one 'row' behind the window garden seat. Apparently window tables are allocated based on reservation dates, so I guess there were some people who are more organised than me haha.

8 course degustation was $240pp. Yes, I still bring lunch to work, so I can then splurge once a year on fine dining. The food here is focused on seafood with 4/8 dishes being seafood, so if you don't like seafood then don't come. It has Japanese inspired dishes mixed with a bit of French cuisine.

Hidden on Kent St

I used to always walk past this to get to my bus from the city to home on Kent St. During the day the gates are closed, so this place is hidden away. You come here for the food not views, unlike other fine dining places 

View of the Japanese style garden

Can't really see it at night and I don't think you're allowed to walk in it, but it's cute. Of course if you ever go Japan, the original country is always more impressive. It's cute how they try to transport you to Japan.

Truffle butter + filtered water with lime

We ate pretty much almost all the butter. I never eat butter, except at fine dining. It was so light, and whipped well so very spreadable, but the truffle flavour was so intense and you could see so many bits of truffle in it. Makes my truffle salt and truffle oil at home seem like nothing. Even if you had a blocked nose, you would be able to smell the truffle. They offered sparkling, still or filtered water (no tap water option cause fine dining haha).


Bread options were Kombu scroll, rye or white sourdough. All of them were so delicious. The scroll was extra flaky and easy to pull apart, and sourdough had a nice crunchy crust without being chewy. Not sure if I filled up from the bread, butter and water...

Cherry Blossom: dry sherry, bombay gin, cherry beer, ratafia, lime-$24

Chose this one since it seemed to fit with the Japanese theme. It tasted like slightly sour cherries, and not sweet. It was nice but not one of my favourite cocktails.

Tuna with daikon and wasabi

You can definitely tell this fish was so fresh and the flavours weren't overpowering the fish flavour. Could hardly taste the wasabi which was good, since I'm not a big fan. Daikon gave it that extra bit of freshness for the dish.

Poached scampi with coffee vinaigrette and cannellini bean

Scampi perfectly cooked and full of flavour, and moving onto a warm dish. I couldn't really taste the coffee, but it gave that slight bit of acidity to cut through the butteriness of the scampi. The puree on the side help emphasis the smooth texture of the scampi.


Signature dish: confit of ocean trout with salad of apple and witlof

Wow, this dish lived up to the hype. The softest trout ever which melts in your mouth, perfectly seasoned with the kombu on top. Your knife just glides right through, and this is indeed my favourite seafood dish. Loved the crunch from the apple salad hidden underneath for some texture and slight sweetness. The caviar also gave it a pop of flavour. The parsley oil looked pretty on the plate, but I couldn't really taste it.

eating from books

Apparently, this is the most photographed dish in the world. Mainly because it was invented back in 1987. Most restaurants weren't even opened by then, and most chefs change their menu and remove signature dishes (like the Quay's snow egg) from time to time to keep people coming back. This dish has stayed on the menu since it was first created which explains why it's the most photographed dish. The recipe photo shows more parsley oil and caviar, but I guess that book was published around 2000, and 19 years later, inflation etc so they just cut out the extra bits without sacrificing the quality of the trout. 

salad to go with the trout

Salad had a nice dressing, I don't mind acidity, but some may find it a bit too acidic/bitter. Waiter suggested to have the fish first then have the salad as a side. I found the salad flavour to a bit overpowering, so I just had the salad separately after I finished the trout.

Queensland murray cod with confit fennel and young garlic

Moving onto the first hot dish where the plate was pre heated to preserve the warmth. This piece of fish was quite small, but again cooked to perfection. The skin super crispy and again the fish was very soft. It looked like a lot of sauce, but it was the perfect amount. This garlic sauce is better than El Jannah's (which is already one of the best for just cheap eats). The sauce was an emulsion, so it was super smooth without being too garlicy.

Pearl meat with jerusalem artichoke and navel orange

The first of the two meat dishes was this confit chicken which was really moist and smooth, and packed full of flavour with the accompanying jus. The orange was a nice element to the dish bringing some depth of flavour, rather than just savoury.

Wagyu rib eye with chestnut mushroom and yuzu

I loved the yuzu sauce on the side, highlight of the dish. It gave a lovely acidity to cut through the richness of the beef. The meat was perfectly cooked and loved the jus sauce. Mushrooms were plump and juicy. Good end to the savoury dishes.

Blood orange and beetroot sorbet with layer of white chocolate

This was the perfect palate cleanser, and the sourness from the sorbet really cut through to literally cleanse the savoury taste from previous dishes. A thin piece of white chocolate covered the sorbet to help balance the acidity, and on the side were some pearl like things. Apparently they use some science to make them. They're soft and not chewy like your usual tapioca pearls.

Chocolate stone with honey and milk

The dessert was nice but not amazing compared to other fine dining desserts I've had, wasn't expecting much from desserts since I was coming here for their seafood. The chocolate stone had a sort of milk ice cream filling inside and was really soft and not rich. Loved the quenelle of ice cream on the side with some crumbs for texture. The tempered ring of chocolate made the dish more fun. Could definitely hear the crack as your spoon cut through it.

Yay for birthday cake

Tetsuya's chocolate cake

The mousse cake was rich but not too sweet. I'm not a chocolate person, and if I do eat chocolate, it's always dark choc. The mousse was predominately dark choc which I loved, and just some sweetness from the white choc inside.

Petits fours: citrus tart, raspberry and mascarpone macaron, chocolate truffle lychee black sesame

I love these petits four, especially because it wasn't just chocolate. The chocolate truffle was my favourite, since it looked like truffle, but inside was this delicious black sesame filling, what a thin outer shell of chocolate. The macaroni wasn't overly sweet since the mascarpone was light and with a mild raspberry filling. Loved the acidity from the citrus tart as well with a thin layer of meringue.

His first cookbook

Thanks Blair for buying this book all those years ago (way before we met and even he didn't know who Tetsuya was when he bought this book around 10 years ago). So lucky we brought it along with us, since we got it signed! (Well Tetsuya was overseas but they swapped our copy with a signed copy in their stock).

Me being weird even though it's a fine dining place, I started taking photos of the trout dish with the book, and the usual taking a million photos before I eat, even though these days they just get stored since I don't really have time to upload to my food Instagram account or blog about it. Halfway through the meal a waiter said to follow him, and to take our phones. He ended up showing us into their kitchen! First time seeing a commercial kitchen (not through a window or on MasterChef). We were literally on the pass, and seeing all the chefs plate up. Inside was really big, and they explained how they don't use computers, since everyone eats the same 8 courses, so they just cross it out as you complete a dish then make the next one. So cool seeing the head chef in work as well.

peek into kitchen

Bit shocked at the invite into their kitchen, still in awe

Service was impeccable throughout the night as you would expect for a fine dining restaurant.  We did tip them extra since they went above and beyond for our dining experience. Although Tetsuya himself wasn't there (he was to return the following week, but these dining places are more once in a life time not weekly dining so we wouldn't obviously go back just to see him), we were just shocked that they let us have a peek into their kitchen and signed our book! Definitely a birthday dinner to remember.

Tetsuya's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, August 5, 2019

Three weeks...

I didn't realise how long three weeks (and 3 days) actually feels. It's weird how last year, 6 weeks in America just flew by (plus additional placements in Melb/Hobart/NZ), but I guess it was long days from 7am-6pm, and then long commutes back to NYC, or when it was a slightly shorter day, every single bit was trying to pack in things to see and places to eat. Now it's reversed and staying in Sydney while seeing other people go overseas isn't easy. Much respect to those who I know who've been/are in LDR...so thankful that I don't because not sure how I would survive tbh. Only just these three weeks have sort of felt like ldr...and probs another 2 weeks at the end of the year...Placement away from home is different, because I could drive back to Sydney on weekends, whilst you can't really fly from overseas frequently... Times like these also reaffirms some values, like if it was the choice between spending time away from family but earning more money, I would rather less money and more time with family. Time is something you can't buy...Really happy for Blair's successful research/work trip in Finland/Estonia and church conference in Korea. So the time apart was necessary and worth it. Thanks goodness for internet.

Things in HK are still so crazy...Really hope a repeat of 1989 Tiananmen Square doesn't happen...and really hope things will return to 'normal' by November...So incredibly grateful and thankful that my parents decided to move here where they didn't know any English all those years ago before I was born.

Can't believe it's birthday month already. Signed up to some free birthday food since conveniently my birthday is on my day off, but I feel like I'm at that age where I'm starting to ceebs...Guess it make sup for missing bday food last year since I was in NYC. Ended getting myself another Dyson appliance as a present to myself again this year.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Central Coast Work-Cation

Currently halfway through my 'placement' in the Central Coast, one of two weeks done. As new grads we were supposed to do half a year, but with low metro cover, they shortened my placement from 4 to 2 weeks. The drive up had a lot of road works, since they're widening the road from 2 to 3 lanes. The parts which are already 3 lanes are so smooth and well paved, but once you turn off the highway, so many potholes everywhere. It's also so hard to drive through pouring rain since sometimes the lanes don't have the reflectors of the roads (and of course no street lights).

It sort of feels like a mini  holiday since I'm staying at a hotel. The accommodation is actually pretty good, although still around a 25min drive to work, but a smooth drive. Work in Syd is also a 25min on weekends but every minute you're stopped by a traffic light, whereas here in the Central Coast, there's only like 1 traffic light on the drive, and most of the road is around 80 (compared to average main Syd roads 60).

Patient demographic is very different, feels like 'retirement town'. There are kids, but the average age of patients I see is 80. Everyone is very nice (just a bit slow as expected).

Having my own place is nice, but I don't think I could ever live by myself in a place. Although I love peace and quiet at home, it's nice to have someone else in the house with you, even if you're not talking, just the presence is nice. Also would feel so bored if I moved to a regional town by myself. This place I'm at is just over an hour from home, so it's not really regional. Around 1/4 of the restaurants are opened at night, and feel like a ghost town, but there is still some entertainment around. If I moved rural, I would be so bored, and also impossible to meet up with friends. Already missed some catch ups since working here for a bit. Idm missing a few here and there, but not permanently. This short term stint working not in metro Syd has been a good experience so far.

Just over a week ago attended a friend's wedding. I love going to weddings, and my heart is so full of joy and happiness. It's inconvenient how I have to take leave for weddings cause of ft work, but it's worth for closer friends. People who just invited me to ceremony only unfortunately I have to reject since I literally don't have enough leave. It's weird how winter isn't really considered 'wedding season', but nowadays, every week is wedding week. Like that day I went to the wedding, there were 3 other weddings of friend's of friends. In September, I know of every week someone is getting married (sort of glad some of them didn't invite me so I don't feel bad saying no...) Also know friends getting married Oct and Nov (know them enough to say hi but wouldn't consider friends).

Guests lists are tricky, especially with so many people and their plus ones. Also if we invite them but then they split before we get married...or just not invite their plus ones, but then they may feel awkward coming by themselves...since although weddings are a happy day, I could sense from some people who are single it's not the most comfortable day for them...just some rambling thoughts...

Did a road trip to Canberra yesterday, as Blair needed to go to the Estonia Embassy. The road there was pretty much flat and super well paved, unlike Central Coast where you go through, up and down mountains. I guess the nation's capital needs to be well accessible. I really love driving through Canberra roads, so spacious are hardly any cars. They also have a light rail which recently opened in April, also looks pretty much like our light rails in Sydney. Houses in both Canberra and the Central coast are sooooo cheap compared to Sydney...Like half the price for some at the Central Coast. Guess that's why quite a few people live up there and drive to Sydney for work.