Fifty years ago in Australia, Chinese food consisted of deep-fried honey chicken, sweet-and-sour pork and a bowl of fried rice. Despite Australia’s large Chinese population, due to the goldrushes in the 1850’s and 1860’s, it has only been in the past couple of decades when ideas of what Chinese food can be have expanded. Forging this way is Chefs Gallery, which, due to its popularity, now has restaurants all across Sydney.
Host Claudia Chan Shaw speaking with Sourced by Art Atrium gallery director Simon Chan and artist Fan Dongwang. Photo credit: Mick Ross
Not only has the modern Chinese menu had an upgrade, Chinese-influenced artwork will now hang on Chefs Gallery restaurants at Town Hall in the City, Macquarie Centre at North Ryde and the new Little Saigon Plaza in Bankstown.
I have a new appreciation for those handmade noodles – this was tough! Photo credit: Mick Ross
Chefs Gallery has established a reputation for its modern, and sometimes cheeky, interpretation of Chinese cuisine. Their handmade noodles are a star attraction and not just on the menu. Behind glass windows, the chefs roll, swing and swirl noodles in front of customers, creating a multi-sensory theatrical experience. Now, the chefs will have to vie for attention as the artistry is not only on the plate and in the kitchen, but also the surrounding the walls. Sourced by Art Atrium gallery director Simon Chan, the displayed artwork – including paintings, prints, sculpture and ceramics – will all be for sale.
Chefs Gallery Town Hall
Chefs Gallery Macquarie Shopping Centre
Chefs Gallery Metcentre
Chefs Gallery Bankstown
Opening soon, Chefs Gallery Parramatta
You don’t have to go far from the city’s hustle and bustle to find that relaxed small town feeling. Less than an hour’s drive from Sydney you’ll find a sleepy Northern Beaches suburb called Avalon. The area may be renowned for their beaches but their food scene is just as exciting.
A 10 minute walk from Avalon Beach, 2107 exudes a tropical vibe with bright linen and umbrella-sheltered tables outside, while inside a slick wooden bar pairs well with the palm tree views. The restaurant exudes a feeling of quality dining at a relaxed pace. The staff are welcoming and knowledgeable, and every table of guests are greeted like an old friend (even if you’re an out-of-towner, like us).
We start our lunch with flash-fried salt and pepper squid, a classic coastal seafood treat and their signature dish; locally caught too, of course. The flesh is tender and the accompanying lime aioli gives a fantastic zing. We are recommended to try the Two Birds Sunset Ale and the Pines Kolsh with our entree – again, the beers are locally-brewed dazzlers.
Our mains are another treat; thought and passion has clearly gone into every dish that leaves the kitchen. The Cone Bay WA barramundi fillet comes with a sweet potato mash and a zesty salsa. Every element pairs together beautifully, the sweet puree complimenting the luscious salty goodness of the barramundi, and matching the tart and aged Italian Pinot Grigio I’m recommended. My companion opts for the hearty ‘surf and turf’ special. He praises the beef tenderloin (finally, a steak cooked properly!) but it is the big, smokey king prawns that are the star-player of the dish. The 2014 Hemera ‘Lights Out’ Shiraz, a recent award winner with a slide of pepper and plum on the tongue, adds punch to the meal.
Although the sun is making us sleepy, we rally for dessert. The lime and Midori cheesecake is liqueur-tart, and wears an elaborate, cut-glass shard of toffee like a crown. The ‘death by chocolate’ tasting plate includes Grenache tart and a handmade strawberry truffle. We try the 2014 Piggs Peake Vanilla Shiraz as a final treat. It has a light berry sweetness without any syrupy heaviness; no wonder the restaurant owner makes a trip to the Hunter every three months just to pick up a case. We luxuriate in the warm coastal afternoon, happily full and in no rush to leave this little slice of paradise.
The 2107 Restaurant
Once upon a time and not so long ago, at nightfall the streets of our city were a ghost town. In the blink of an eye however, Sydney’s CBD has transformed into a bustling food and drink oasis, with new venues and restaurants opening weekly and in the heart of our financial district, just a short stroll from Martin Place is The Wolf Wine Bar. Run by Chef Peter Varvaressos, who you may know from his other venues Contrabando and Barrafina Tapas, has created yet another all-day venue that seamlessly transitions from café to hip bar and restaurant.
Barbecued calamari with quinoa, lemon, chilli and ginger
For fear of pigeonholing, the menu takes cues from across the globe. Fat, twice-cooked fries get dipped in a fragrant Middle-Eastern Harissa mayo while plumply ripe figs are baked and paired with blue cheese and prosciutto, taking a nod to Italy. Quinoa dishes can be a little lacklustre but this, speckled with toasted nuts, a generous glug of olive oil and scatted with chilli and topped with barbecued calamari, is deliciously intriguing.
Braised lamb, burnt eggplant, feta, olives and mint
I could have inhaled a bowl of fried broccoli with shaved parmesan but sanity prevailed and instead I dip into a familiar yet fresh yellowfin tuna ceviche. With a wood fire pizza oven in the works, start with an after-work tipple at Wolf Wine Bar and stay for a tapas-inspired meal or (coming soon) a slice of old-school pizzette.
Anna Lisle Follow Anna’s foodie adventures here
Wolf Wine Bar
Many would consider Chase Kojima, Executive Chef at one-hatted restaurant Sokyo, one of the best sushi chefs in Sydney. Combine this fact with Sydney’s ongoing obsession with ramen, and it makes sense that a certain level of pandemonium has ensued following the opening of Chase’s pop-up ramen store this September.
Situated on the ground floor of The Star, the hole-in-the-wall popup offers four different types of ramen, including yuzu shio (light and refreshing), Kyoto shoyu (umami soy), gyokairui tonkotsu (slightly rich) and spicy miso tantanmen (mildly spicy). Ranging from $15-$16 per serving, the bowls of ramen offer different flavours based on the broth, richness and toppings. Shio ramen, perhaps boringly, is always my ramen of choice. Chase’s adaptation is based on a chicken broth and topped with pork cheek chashu, egg, nori, yuzu and a mixed green salad. The braised pork cheek is tender and falls apart in your mouth and the hint of yuzu adds a refreshing and citrusy twist to the highly slurp-able broth. One of the fundamental components to any good ramen is undoubtedly the noodles; Chase opts for thin and straight noodles, the relative thickness of the noodles delivering a satisfying chewy texture.
To accompany your ramen, there are also other Japanese street food classics to choose from including fried chicken karaage as well as a homemade yuzu pop soda. The karaage makes for a no-brainer side, it’s marinated in sake and soy and served with spicy Japanese mayonnaise, making every bite a juicy and tasty affair. The mocktail pop soda is made from yuzu, passionfruit, aloe vera, almond syrup and soda and works as the ultimate refreshing palette cleanser.
Don’t wait too long to hop on the #NoRamenNoLife bandwagon, Sokyo Ramen closes shop at the end of November.
Open 7 days from 11:30am til late
Sokyo Ramen by Chase Kojima
We may not have the internationally renowned Michelin Guide Star System in Australia but The Langham, is giving Sydneysiders a taste of Michelin-standard dishes. You would have seen the billboards with Bradley Cooper, looking sharp in his chef whites, promoting his new movie “Burnt” so to celebrate, The Langham, Sydney, challenged their Executive Chef, Thomas Heinrich and Head Dessert Chef, Miguel Jocson, to deliver three Michelin star dishes from recipes that inspired the concept behind the film.
Tomato tartare created by Executive Chef Thomas Heinrich
While not known widely in Australia, the consultant chef for the film was Marcus Wareing, an English celebrity chef who is currently Chef Patron of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Marcus (formerly The Berkeley), in Knightsbridge. What’s the connection between the movie and The Langham, Sydney? Burnt was shot at The Langham, London. The hotel’s restaurant, The Roux at the Landau features prominently throughout the film.
Mascarpone, blood orange and streusel, created by Head Dessert Chef Miguel Jocson
The Langham, Sydney’s five- course degustation menu ($149 per person) now features two of Wareing’s dishes, Game Farm quail, heirloom carrots and corn bread and a dessert of mascarpone, blood orange and streusel.
Kent Street Kitchen at The Langham Sydney
After two sold-out seasons in Melbourne, Bombay Sapphire’s Project Botanicals pop-up is coming to Sydney, but with a unique twist. Held at ‘The Old Rum Store’ warehouse building in the newly established lifestyle precinct, Kensington Street in Chippendale, this event is open for three weeks only.
Young celery – soured creme made from local milks & the freshest green peas. Paired with The Coriandrum Cocktail
Launching on Wednesday 18 November, the distinctive cocktail and dining experience will feature one of Australia’s most respected and awarded regional chefs, James Viles of Biota Dining, Bowral. The incredible five-course menu has been designed around the ten botanicals found in each bottle of Bombay Sapphire and will be matched with a Bombay Sapphire cocktail created by the Bombay Sapphire team and some of Sydney’s best bars, including local favourites The Barber Shop, Eau De Vie and This Must Be The Place.
Guests can choose between two menus – ‘Plants & Roots’ and ‘Berries & Bark’. At a special media event, we were fortunate to sample ‘Plants & Roots’ which was a selection of some of the most beautifully presented and perfectly executed dishes we have experienced. A tribute to the seasons, Chef Viles has a unique flair for pushing culinary boundaries while still ensuring his food is accessible and enjoyable to the humble diner.
Native lemon soft serve. Paired with Lemon Peel Eye Opener
As James explains, “I’m constantly challenging myself to work with new and unusual ingredients. Working with the ten botanicals found within Bombay Sapphire was really exciting in creating flavour combinations that emphasised what is at the core of Bombay Sapphire”.
With Biota Dining one of Australia’s most in demand regional restaurants, Project Botanicals is likely to sell out quickly. To avoid missing out, tickets should be purchased ASAP from: www.projectbotanicals.com.au.
- Sittings available at 6pm and 8.30pm, Wednesday to Saturday evenings
- Tickets are $105 + booking fee and include a five course menu matched to five Bombay Sapphire cocktails and can be purchased here.
Last night, NSW’s best restaurants, caterers and cafe operators were recognised at the annual Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering HOSTPLUS Awards for Excellence.
2015 marks the 17th year of the awards with PR guru and long-term industry advocate Stewart White national chair of judges for the Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence. The Savour Australia HOSTPLUS Awards for Excellence is a nationally recognised, independently judged awards program that recognises exceptional service and culinary talent across Australia.
We would like to make special mention for many of our Best Restaurants client – a huge congratulations to the following finalists and winners.
China Doll, WOOLLOOMOOLOO
WINNER – Red Lantern on Riley, DARLINGHURST
Intermezzo Ristorante, SYDNEY
WINNER – Kazbah, BALMAIN
Ripples, MILSONS POINT
Chefs Gallery, SYDNEY
The Eight Modern Chinese Restaurant, HAYMARKET
Zilver Restaurant, HAYMARKET
CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIAN RESTAURANT – FORMAL
360 Bar and Dining, SYDNEY
Catalina, ROSE BAY
CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIAN RESTAURANT – INFORMAL
Botanic Gardens Restaurant, SYDNEY
WINNER – Ripples Chowder Bay, MOSMAN
Sydney Tower Buffet, SYDNEY
FINE DINING RESTAURANT
WINNER – Quay, THE ROCKS
Tetsuya’s Restaurant, SYDNEY
ITALIAN RESTAURANT – FORMAL
Aqua Dining, MILSONS POINT
WINNER – Intermezzo Ristorante, SYDNEY
Otto Ristorante, WOOLLOOMOOLOO
Coogee Pavilion, COOGEE
Kazbah, POTTS POINT
Saké, DOUBLE BAY
The Governor’s Table, SYDNEY
The Spice Room, SYDNEY
WINNER- Efendy, BALMAIN
GPO Cheese and Wine Room, SYDNEY
Kazbah, DARLING HARBOUR
The Meat & Wine Co, CIRCULAR QUAY
The Meat & Wine Co, DARLING HARBOUR
If you’re not hot on the foodie trail, you might be forgiven for thinking that Fat Noodle inside The Star is another stock standard Asian eatery. It is in fact the brainchild of Luke Nguyen, Red Lantern’s celebrity chef and television star.
Drawing inspiration from his travels around Asia, Luke has created a hawker style menu with some of his favourite dishes. Unlike Red Lantern, Fat Noodle isn’t a straight-up Vietnamese restaurant. Rather, there’s a medley of South East Asian cuisines on offer, with a dynamic mix of Chinese, Malaysian and Thai dishes to choose from.
We opt for one of the new menu items to start, the Lijiang chicken topped with shallots and doused in vinegar dressing. The chicken is soft on the inside with a satisfyingly crispy skin. Tempered with the acidity of the vinegar dressing and pickled radish, each mouthful of the chicken boasts a melange of flavours, which is quickly devoured with the accompanying jasmine rice and chilli sauce.
Leaving without trying the famed Fat Noodle Pho would almost border on sacrilege. The trademark pho dish is cooked in Luke Nguyen’s signature 20-hour beef broth, in 400 litre kettles with oxtail and wagyu. As with any bona fide pho, there’s a side of hoisin sauce as well as fresh basil, bean sprouts, chilli and mint, meaning you’re able to tailor the flavour to your liking. The broth is fragrant and rich, highlighting the flavour of the thin slices of Angus sirloin that sit atop the silky rice noodles.
Situated on the main gaming floor at The Star and open til late, Fat Noodle hits the spot whether you’re after a post-show meal, or simply craving food of the Asian persuasion. Gambling is always a risky business, but the pho is unlikely to disappoint.
Nothing could stop us from visiting Waterman’s Lobster Co. Our dining party of 10 dwindled to just four, as our group, one-by-one fell prey to the nasty cold currently engulfing Sydney. The weather Gods turned against us too, promising nothing but torrential rain and even a few spots of hail, to add to the drama of trying to find a park in Potts Point. Alas, our loyal quartet arrive, slightly soggy but in good spirits, eager to feast like royalty.
Potts Points’ Waterman’s Lobster Co pays homage to the Maine lobster roll (pictured), popular in New York.
The menu’s attention is drawn towards the sea, which will undoubtedly work a treat on hot Sydney summer days. We whet the palate with an Asian-ified tartare of Kingfish, seaweed and radish which hits the spot and gets us in the right head space for our Maine-style lobster roll. Claw and knuckle meat is tossed with a decent amount of mayo, butter, flecks of celery and a squeeze of lemon. Stuffed inside a not-too-sweet hot dog-shaped bun and served with matchstick fries and a pickle, there’s nothing to criticise. It’s perfect. It seems odd to order the lobster salad but once it arrives, there’s no regrets – tossed with fennel, orange and bottarga (which we requested on the side), the only thing lacking was a dollop of aioli, which was quickly brought to the table and completed the dish. There’s sides galore and we opt for a purple cabbage slaw and a baby cos salad with smoked oyster mayo and croutons, which are happily devoured. Even with such adversity, our Waterman’s experience is flawless – we will be back with the full troop.
Waterman’s Lobster Co.
William Blue Dining is a live classroom where the future stars of the hospitality industry showcase their talent to the public and, let me be clear, there is talent to be shown. The waiters, as well as the chefs and kitchen staff, are students at William Blue College of Hospitality Management. The restaurant is part of the students’ training and it gives them an opportunity to get first-hand experience with paying customers.
Kingfish ceviche, blue swimmer crab, baby coriander, lime, chilli, mustard cress (GF)
Residing in the beautiful space that was once home to Neil Perry’s Rockpool, the menu features all your fine dining favourites. Braised pork belly with fennel puree or a simple kingfish ceviche with baby swimmer crab make a strong start to a three-courser. Follow this up with a crisp skinned Ora king salmon, paired with braised witlof and a sort of sweet corn puree or stick to the tried-and-trusted eggplant and mozzarella tian.
Grilled Ora King Salmon fillet, crispy skin, pink pepper sauce, sweet corn, prawn, chives, braised witlof (GF)
Dessert-wise, we loved the old-school rice pudding, vanilla scented and studded with poached apricots and poached rhubarb. At $38 for a three-course meal, you’d be hard pressed to find better value for money in The Rocks – in fact, based on the quality of the ingredients, I dare say this might be the best bang for your buck in Sydney.
Vanilla rice pudding, stewed rhubarb, sesame nougatine, poached apricot
If this is the future of the Australian hospitality industry, then we’re in safe hands.
William Blue Dining
Photography: Jenny Wang