Firedoor Restaurant | Surry Hills

LuMi Bar & Dining | Pyrmont

An experience at Pyrmont's LuMi Bar & Dining is like a box of Swiss chocolates - you're not entirely sure if what you'll get, but you know it's damn good.

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Firedoor Restaurant | Surry Hills

Firedoor Restaurant | Surry Hills

Through the fire and flames Lennox Hastie bursts. His restaurant Firedoor in Surry Hills, like the eponymous flame, is here, and blazes in brilliance.

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Sokyo Ramen | The Star, Pyrmont

Sokyo Ramen | The Star, Pyrmont

Picture the look of glee on my face when, after months of ramen experimentation (teased via his Instagram account), he finally announced the Sokyo Ramen popup at The Star for the next three months. I didn’t walk, nor did I run. I flew.

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Silvereye Cover

Silvereye Restaurant | Chippendale, Sydney

Wow, where do I even begin? Perhaps with a geographical bent. Here goes:

Copenhagen: home Noma, one of the world’s best restaurants. You may have heard of this place. Or if not – Rene Redzepi? Possibly the most influential chef in the world right now.

Chippendale: the trendiest food suburb of 2015. I could list many examples, but Automata & Reynold Poernomo deliver more than enough rep.

What do Copenhagen and Chippendale have in common? Nothing….except Silvereye. Welcome to Noma alum Sam Miller’s take on world-class cuisine, right here in our own backyard.

Date Last Visited: 2/10/2015
Address: L1, The Old Clare Hotel, 1 Kensington Street, Chippendale, Sydney
Highlight Dish(es): parsnip, beetroot & blackcurrant, cherry blossom & pumpkin, milk tart

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Kepos & Co | Waterloo, Sydney

Those familiar with Michael Rantissi’s flagship cafe Kepos Street Kitchen will know just how long the wait can be during peak trading hours. To be fair, the queues are well-deserved – that cafe was my favourite of 2014. How did that happen? Through a unique, Mediterranean-inspired menu, and having it perfectly-executed. But the pressure needed to be relieved, and the Kepos Street Kitchen side simply could not expand.

Enter Kepos & Co. No, it’s not a clone of Kepos Street Kitchen, but it’s not far from it either – figuratively and literally. Dang it Mike, couldn’t you have opened Kepos & Co somewhere that’s more than a stone’s throw from Kepos Street Kitchen?

I guess it’s time to become very well-acquainted with Waterloo.

Date Last Visited: 15/8/15
Address: Shop 5, Casba, 18 Danks Street, Waterloo, Sydney
Recommended Dish(es): warm hummus & taboonb read, sujuk & olive pide, blue eye cod burger, KSK roll

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Restaurant Automata | Chippendale

Sydney’s food scene is such that in any given year, it’s a Herculean challenge to even come up with a list of the big ticket items to blather about to your Instagram-loving buddies. However this year, I think we can safely say that the Kensington Street revamp in Chippendale, mere minutes from the CBD, is one of the most sensational transformations we will see in recent years.

A plethora of restaurants, food stalls and mixed use facilities will all spring up – and they’re not no-names either. Think Sam Miller of Noma – Silvereye. Think Reynold Poernomo – the dessert king himself. And while we’re name dropping here, think Clayton Wells – of Momofuku Seiobo.

Let’s talk a bit more about that last one, shall we? Let’s talk about the first restaurant to open up at The Old Clare Hotel – Automata.

Date Last Visited: 23/09/2015
Address: 5 Kensington St,Chippendale, Sydney, NSW
Highlight Dish(es): steamed hapuka, roasted quail

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Sokyo Ramen by Chase Kojima | The Star, Pyrmont

In another life, I would be a ramen chef. Two simple reasons: one, I can’t ever see myself being an astronaut – yes, even in another life. Two: I can slurp the good stuff at any time, without having to leave the comfort of the house. Alas, this is the life I live, and I’m neither of those things. But you know what I retain? An insatiable appetite for ramen, and it must be satisfied.

Enter Chase Kojima – mastermind behind Sokyo, coincidentally my favourite Japanese restaurant in Sydney. While we’ve never met, he and I clearly share something in common – a great love for ramen. The difference? Well, he actually knows how to cook.

Thus, picture the look of glee on my face when, after months of ramen experimentation (teased via his Instagram account), he finally announced the Sokyo Ramen popup at The Star for the next three months. I didn’t walk, nor did I run. I flew.

Date Last Visited: 19/9/15
Address: Level G, Café Court, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009
Recommended Dish(es): yuzu shio ramen, kyoto shoyu ramen

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Work In Progress @ Eric Koh | Sydney CBD

Work In Progress has lasted a lot longer than I had expected to. Thing is, Patrick Friesen’s just a damn good cook. However, WIP was never meant to end with him. That is after all, why it’s a Work In Progress. I should have seen it coming back then, but only now has it dawned – Work In Progress is the perfect venue to showcase Merivale’s best, in a more casual, more accessible fashion.

It just makes sense. You know what else makes sense? Dumplings. Everyone loves dumplings (the ones that don’t have long had their licences to eat revoked), and so it was most fitting that Merivale’s top dog – dumpling master Eric Koh of Mr Wong – is to pop down to Work In Progress, and continue this delicious project.

Welcome to Work In Progress @ Eric Koh. Come for the dumplings, and heck – stay for them too!

Date Last Visited:  15/9/15
Address: 50 King St Sydney, NSW 2000
Recommended Dish(es): dumpling platter of the day, duck spring rolls

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Bennelong Cover

[Updated] Bennelong Restaurant | Sydney Opera House

This is a restaurant worth talking about.

It took eighteen months since the departure of Guillaume Brahimi for someone brave enough to successfully take the reins of what is quite possibly the most epochal architectural work in Sydney, but it’s finally happened. A marriage between Peter Gilmore, and the iconic Sydney Opera House.

On the one hand, it’s hardly astonishing – a head chef of international fame, a landmark of international fame. Really, the pairing should have been seen from Kirribilli. On the other hand, nobody knew what to expect – the head honcho behind fine dining juggernaut Quay, helming what is meant to be a more accessible venue serving more accessible fare. What’s Gilmore’s take? What’s the value Bennelong brings to the table? I find out by booking one, and I think we’re going to be in for some good times ahead.

Date Last Visited: 6/9/2015
Address: Sydney Opera House
Recommended Dish(es): Slow cooked heirloom pumpkin, grilled Lady Elliot Island bug, roasted John Dory, the Pavlova, chocolate cake from across the water, cherry jam lamington | Cured & Cultured: sausage roll, 3-cheese toastie, tuna, wagyu tartare

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Neil Perry's Burger Project Cover

Burger Project by Neil Perry | Sydney CBD

Grand lesson in life tend to come from trusted sources of wisdom. My parents? Fair enough – they’ve got years of experience on me. My teachers? Same deal. My boss? Yeah, I’m seeing a pattern here. A burger joint – wait, what?

And yet, a profound lesson is exactly what I received from Neil Perry’s Burger Project. Unfortunately, it was an education at his expense: don’t visit a new establishment in its first month of operation. Ouch, but true. The details are in the second part of this post, but suffice to say – I was not a fan of Burger Project when it opened late in last 2014. It was a 5/10 experience (using current scoring), and I saw very little reason to return. Those milkshakes sadly did not bring me to the yard.

Time passed, and I recently caught wind about Burger Project’s plans to expand to Martin Place (MLC food court), five stores in Melbourne, and even internationally. Positive feedback from burger fiends had been accumulating at some length now. Staff had begun to listen, and before I knew it, here was a phoenix of a burger joint before me. Burger Project has been reborn, so here I stand, in its yard once more.

Date Last Visited: 25/8/15  (four extra visits) 2/11/14
Address: (TBC – November 2015) MLC Centre, King St & Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000Shop 1106 644 George St Sydney, NSW 2000 (adjacent to DTF)Recommended Dish(es): the double, the bacon project, spicy fried chicken burger

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One Tea Lounge Cover

One Tea Lounge & Grill | Sydney CBD

Matcha. Japanese green tea powder. It’s kind of big right now – at least amongst certain demographics. Is it too much? The infamous David Yip, apparently doesn’t think so.

Wait, who? Let me give you a clue: the Ramen Burger. Those buns made out of ramen noodles you saw and lusted after for the first time at the Night Noodle Markets? That’s him. In the end, the ramen burger turned out to be a cult hit which has somehow survived beyond being a mere fad, and is still being enjoyed today. This man’s clearly got some good ideas, showing them off in their full glory at newly-opened One Tea Lounge.

Even so, it’s going to take a lot more than a frankenfood or two to make a restaurant successful. Even the current freakshake trend won’t do it. One trick wonders? No thanks. But – enter matcha. Let the games begin.

Date Last Visited: 27/8/15
Address: Upper Ground Floor, 73 York St,CBD, Sydney, NSW
Recommended Dish(es): ramen/rice burgers w/teriyaki chicken or pork, sizzling rice, ice cream baogers, matcha fondue

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Cafe Oratnek | Redfern, Sydney

Like most of us, Kentaro “Kenny” Takayama wanted to fulfil a dream: a backyard, homely cafe to call his own. To do this, he upped and gave up his awesome gig as head honcho at Bills – no small feat. Ah, but there was a small snag – it looks like the domain squatters have gotten to long before Kenny could get his hands on it! And that’s how Cafe Oratnek – his name spelt backwards, was Christened. It’s all about getting that dot com.

…And pretty much the latter half of that introduction is total BS. Sorry :P. The reality? Who knows – perhaps that’s the eccentric nature of the man himself, the desire to be different, to be special and remembered. I could believe it, as it shows in Oratnek’s food – think sandwiches that come in pork katsu, smashed egg or fried chicken & kimchi varieties, miso beef lettuce baos, and sake steamed clam pots. Not exactly the kind of fare you find on a normal cafe menu. As wordsmith/homie iFat puts it: “very few stick their neks out and they end up just being orat.”

Different is definitely trending – but only deliciousness will keep the crowds coming back. Kenny, spotlight’s on you.

Date Last Visited: 26/8/15
Address: 4 Pitt Street, Redfern, Sydney
Recommended Dish(es): all sandwiches on the menu

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Desserts by Reynold Poernomo | Sydney

Reynold Poernomo. Or, as some of you may call him – the dessert king. Watching this 21 year old execute all manner of sweet creations, continually defying expectations again and again has been one of the greatest highlights of this year’s Masterchef run. To say the man has talent at desserts could use a quenelle of hyperbole. Who else ever received a perfect score on Masterchef?

But it’s one thing to /watch/ him on TV. It’s quite another to meet him in the flesh, and to have the opportunity to sample four of his incredible handiworks. Of course, that was going to be a bit of a pipe dream, at least until he opened up a permanent place. Right?

Hmmm, better click on that “read more” link, eh?

Date Last Visited: 23/8/15
Address: Sydney Dance Studio, The Rocks
Standout Dish(es): Moss / Panna

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