Category Archives: Japanese

Here Comes the Sun.

 You meet someone, take them out for dinner, suggest a bottle of wine, sneak in a kiss and somewhere down the line have them fall in love with you. After awhile you begin to spend more and more time with each other, drop the frequent fancy meals; feel more comfortable about calling a burger and fries a date night and begin to pass wind around each other. You no longer have to run out to the local fast food joint to use the toilet for anything other than a wee and may even be brave enough to leave the door open while doing so. Eventually you start planning trips together, buying things together, opening shared bank accounts together and then comes the day you shell out for that wedding ring and play out that out of this world proposal you’ve been planning for awhile. Months of planning lead to a lovely but quaint wedding ceremony, one that’ll have the guests using it as a benchmark for all future weddings, and when the day comes that you have a child together a whole new set of memories will begin to develop.

However, life doesn’t always work out that way. While that hot new Spanish restaurant may have seemed like a great idea at the time, she definitely wasn’t impressed by having to stand in line out in the cold for near on two hours. Realising you haven’t gotten off to the best of starts you decide to order a bottle of wine just to get things headed back in the right direction, only to find out that the 80 dollar bottle of red you’ve just ordered is wasted on her as she’s on medication tonight. By this point you may be a little intoxicated from having to complete that bottle of wine by yourself while she’s still completely sober, so when you go to reach in for that kiss all you end up with is a slap in the face and you asking hopelessly ‘will I be seeing you again?’. Unfortunately for you this is where the line ends and the stop doesn’t read ‘yes you will’.

For the longest time I’d thought to myself that by the time I reached 30 I’d be happily married, doing things that happily married people do and maybe even planning on having kids so that one day I could tell them how I met their mother… Call me Ted. I didn’t think that I’d be finding myself at places like Shark Hotel at 3 am on a Saturday morning chasing tail. I definitely didn’t think that I’d be embarking on my first ever solo trip to some far flung place in order to ‘find myself’. But kids as they say you never know where life is headed and as things go, I do, and I did.

So this my dear readers is how I found myself at the beginning of this month boarding a plane headed for Tokyo. What ensued was 2 weeks of fun, food and alcohol. At times it got a little crazy, maybe even a little stupid, but when you’re in your most favourite place in the world then these things tend to happen. I won’t bore you with anymore of my words so I’ll just leave you with a select bunch of Instagram photos that I snapped along the way and some captions to go along with them. Enjoy.

japan 001Hello Tokyo. It’s been awhile. I missed you.

japan 026When trying to find oneself this is probably the kind of thing you picture in your head.

japan 025Being in Japan though, the journey is always a little prettier and quirkier then what you may have expected.japan 011Before setting out, one must always respect local customs and heed the warning signs.

japan 020Speaking of warning signs…

japan 005On your journey you may meet some gruff looking people.

japan 004But don’t let their appearances fool you, they’re all a very friendly bunch.

japan 045If you’re lucky enough they may even take you a baseball game.

japan 041As you continue on your journey…

japan 042Always be sure to take a moment to look at what surrounds you.

japan 056For you never know what you may miss out on.

japan 055Now all that soul searching will make a grown man hungry. How about some katsu?

japan 017Or maybe some tonkotsu ramen thats been smoked?

japan 032Perhaps soba and tempura is more your thing?

japan 048But then again we’re all a little carb conscious, so how about some clams that have been cooked in sake?

japan 049If thats not filling enough maybe you’d like to hack into a tuna jaw.

japan 018However, if you’re only after a snack maybe some gyoza will do the trick.

japan 019Somehow though you’ll get your appetite back and you’ll end up wanting something hearty. Something like a katsu curry.

japan 021But then you begin to realise you miss the comforts of home just ever so slightly so you treat yourself to something that’s reminiscent of it.

japan 006Perhaps you might get something thats a combination of the two worlds. Perhaps you may just fall in love with a ramen burger.

japan 007I know I did.

japan 034I think the Glico man might have as well.

Goodbye Japan. Till we meet again.

13 Comments

Filed under Japanese, Streetfood, Trumpeting my own horn

Kura – Pyrmont

kura - kura

Did you know that Sydney has some secret underground tunnels? Right underneath Hyde Park, around St. James station lies a criss cross of unused tunnels that were slated for use with lines that never went into commission. Later it was used during world war II as some kind of bomb shelter or something and more recently in 2008 when Sydney was going through a drought crisis there were plans to access water in a 10km long section of tunnel for recycling purposes. Even more recently however, there’s been some kind of monster/ demon lurking in there. Nobody knows what it really is (although I suspect the government may know more then they’re letting on) as the only footage seen of it looks like some shady zombified version of an Eastern European male that was of course captured in darkness.

I found all this out the other night when I was watching ‘The Tunnel’ (don’t worry I haven’t revealed too many spoilers), which just like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity is based off real footage meaning everything you see actually happened. During the course of the movie I may have been heard ragging on the film in order to lighten the mood, because secretly I may have been a little scared.

Later that night while asleep I dreamt of demons with sharp teeth,  wearing red jumpsuits breaking through my bedroom door and lunging towards me. I dreamt of them trying to claw at my face and I dreamt of myself grabbing them by the necks and pushing them out the door. I also dreamt of myself having somehow ripped off one of their legs and beating them with said leg. I woke up a little sweaty, but with a kind of relief. Relief mostly because I always thought that in these kinds of situations, my inner George Costanza would come shining through, and I’d be the first one running out the door leaving everyone else behind me. The dream suggested there was some hope for me yet.

I don’t know what it is but when I think of fighting monsters and whatnot I usually think of Godzilla, and thinking of Godzilla leads me onto thinking of Japanese food; so after a night of fighting demons what better to way gain my strength back then with a steaming hot bowl of Japanese curry and rice; and this my dear readers is how I find myself at Kura.

Most people know of Kura’s other branches in Chinatown (near Market City and 1 Dixon Place), but I recently discovered their other outlet here in Pyrmont and what a little gem it is. The menu here is slightly different to the others (from what I can remember) but it’s all the better for it.

kura - tunatatakiTuna Tataki

The tuna tataki here looks good enough to get my non sushi/ sashimi loving diners into giving it a go. I’m kind of sad that they do as that means there’s that much less for me. Seems like my plan of ordering something that no-one else would like has backfired on me on this occasion. The tuna is clean and the salad bed it’s presented on provides a pleasing crunch and zinginess.

kura- deepfriedoysterDeep Fried Oysters

I love anything deep fried. There’s something so right about a food item that’s been crumbed and scorched in hot oil till it resembles something the Colonel would be proud of, no matter how wrong everyone else is telling you it is. The deep fried oysters here are one of my favourite things to eat in Sydney at the moment. I could do without the nanban sauce though and go for some Tabasco instead. Believe it or not the oysters are incredibly juicy and soft inside their coating.

kura - katsu curryChicken Katsu Curry

The Katsu curry here is one of the better ones I’ve had in Sydney and reminds me of the curry houses you find scattered around Tokyo train stations. The curry has been stewed with carrots and other veggies and the coating on the chicken is satisfyingly crunchy. The portion size itself satisfies one diner’s wish of eating something bigger than his head. The chicken itself remains tender and goes down really well with an ice cold glass of Asahi…. Or 3.

kura - asahi

If there is anything this dream has taught me is that monsters/ demons have no emotions whatsoever so there’s little point of running away or reasoning with one. It’s not like an argument at a bar where it can easily be dealt with by offering to buy the protagonist a drink or by simply blaming it on someone else; no, when faced with the supernatural its best to take your chances and tackle them head on, and when fighting the forces of evil you need to have the necessary sustenance that a few lettuce leaves and heirloom tomatoes will not help you with in this carb conscious world. Deep fried with a side of carbs is the way to go.

Kura
141 Harris Street, Pyrmont
(02) 9518 7944

11 Comments

Filed under Japanese, Pyrmont, Sydney, Uncategorized

Sake Restaurant & Bar

sake-menu

I love Fridays. Things are always more relaxed on Fridays, people a little friendlier and more at ease about filling themselves up with copious amounts of alcohol (if they so choose – I tend to). It’s also a good time to be out and about in the city, there’s less dressing up and more hair down and the best part of it all is that it’s the longest amount of time you get to enjoy yourself until you have to go back into work, and therein lies the essence of a good time right?… having nothing to worry about. I used to love Saturdays too but I’ve realised that with age also comes a longer recovery time, so these days my Saturdays are more often than not quiet 2 pizzas and beer affairs.

Now most Fridays will generally see me forgo any nutritional sustenance as soon as I’ve finished work in favour of a refreshing beverage or 20. Ask anyone in the fashion industry (not that I’m in it…I think I may have seen this in The Devil Wears Prada) and one of the first things they’ll tell you is that an alcohol fuelled evening is extremely calorific. I reason that by not eating beforehand I’m able to maintain my incredible physique (of course this all goes to waste when I find myself at a certain fried chicken establishment on one of Sydney’s main strips post 2 AM).

Last Friday night I didn’t dance on table tops or have too many shots but I did find myself at Sake Restaurant & Bar. Shaun Presland’s take on modern Japanese has been a star in Sydney’s dining scene in the last couple of years and this has been reflected by its hatting 2 years running since opening. I’ve been here a couple of times  prior but allergies to shellfish meant that I missed out on some of their more well-known dishes (popcorn shrimp – Masterchef), but knowing you only live once I’ve been taking my chances of late (yes I see the irony in eating something that could potentially stop one’s life in order to live one’s life).

oystersOysters (specials menu) – $15.00

The menu here is made for sharing and with there being four of us we order a whole bunch of different items. We start off with the oysters that have been picked off the specials menu. Light and creamy with a nice citrus twang provided by the peruvian inspired toppings these are a great way to get us into the evening. 

sashimi-tacosSashimi Tacos + Matching Sake Shooters – ($17.00 for 2 pcs) 

These pink sashimi tacos (wink wink) are among the best I’ve ever had. Best what? Tacos, yes. Sashimi, yes. These are seriously that good and whats even better is the sake shooters bring that mexican vibe around even more. Once again there’s a strong citrus twang all round and I’m feeling all good and zingy after this.

pork-tonkatsu-cupsTonkatsu Cups – $16.00

The tonkatsu cups are a welcome meaty addition to the proceedings. Think of it as a healthy deep fried burger in all its porky glory surrounded by a refreshing lettuce cup. (Ever tried the lettuce burgers from Mos Burger?)

miso-creamed-scallopsMiso-Cream Scallops – $31.00 

This is a regular order for me whenever I come to Sake, and once again I’m brought to my happy place. The miso, cream and citrus flavours all combine to create a lovely velvety sauce and I can’t help myself from spooning the sauce into my mouth once the scallops are all gone.

popcorn-shrimpPopcorn Shrimp – $29.00

When I accidentally ate some prawns a few weeks earlier and was left unaffected I became excited by the possibilities. This is one of the dishes I’d been dreaming about, if only for my love of popcorn chicken (don’t hate on me). This didn’t dissapoint, and although I knew I was pushing my luck by going back for more, I just couldn’t resist.

cevicheTuna Ceviche – $24.00

Feeling quite full but still having quite abit of wine to contend with we decided to order a couple more dishes just so the wine wouldn’t feel so lonely. First was the tuna ceviche, which was more of a sashimi with citrus flavours then a traditional ceviche, but amazing nonetheless.

pork-belly-yakitoriPork Belly Kushiyaki – $10.00 2 pcs

Possibly my favourite dish of the evening. Further to that these are possibly the best pork belly skewers I’ve ever had. The only one that comes close is one I had a couple of years back in some back alley yakitori joint in Ueno (theres actually a pic of it in my first ever post if you care to read it). These just melted in the mouth and the Peruvian ‘anticucho’ sauce blended nicely with the fat.

yuzu-tartYuzu Tart – (price forgotten)

Probably the only dissapointment of the night for me. I’m not much of a sweet tooth and always prefer to end a meal with something savoury so I may not be the best judge, however I just found it to be a little too sour for my tastes. It probably would have been great with the ice cream but another diner decided to steal mine. I wanted this dish to be great as we were sitting in front of the dessert/ pasrty chef and she was a total cutie.

sake-kitchen

I heard somewhere once that your allergies renew themselves every seven years or so. You drop old ones or you may even pick up new ones. I think this is what I’m going through right now, as I didn’t break out all Hitch like post meal. Yes, I did have an intense need to vomit that not even a quickly inhaled cigarette or quick chomp of a mint could help me through…. But hey these things take time, and what do they say about good things and those who wait?

Sake Restuarant & Bar
12 Argyle Street
The Rocks
(02) 9259 5656

11 Comments

Filed under Japanese, The Rocks