Thursday, February 26, 2015

Work In Progress @ Patrick Friesen, Sydney

The names Patrick Friesen and Papi Chulo Manly is really all I need for this introduction. But for those who don't know Chef Patrick, he is the other half (along with co-head chef Christopher Hogarth) behind  the successful smokehouse and grill Merivale joint, Papi Chulo. A place where magical meat-ups happen.

As part of "March into Merivale" this year, Patrick takes over the Work in Progress bar with his Fried Chicken and Noodle pop-up bar. It is inspired by his passion for Asian cuisine and his late supper shenanigans with other chefs. Work In Progress is a hipster meets pop-art themed small bar. As seen on his Instagram account over the last few months, he's been perfecting the art of fried chicken. After they announced Patrick's pop-up bar, all those instagram posts made sense. So being the sensible people that we are, Chocolatesuze, Mista iFat and I planned a lunch meet-up at Work In Progress. Well, as we would normally say "Because fried chicken yo!" Here's what went down:

The Noodles
Supreme wonton
The supreme wonton mein ($16) was delicious and nostalgic! It took me back to my trips to Hong Kong. It consists of egg noodles, morsels of pork & prawn wonton, and supreme broth. The egg noodles was nice and springy while the pork and prawn wonton was as legit as it gets. The broth tasted like a chicken blend but with some garlic punch.
Sichuan duck and tofu lo mein

Then there's the Sichuan duck and tofu lo mein ($16). It was a scrumptious egg noodle dish with a Sichuan-style sauce, duck and tofu. I would've liked a little bit more duck but the sauce was off the hook! It was bold with sweet, chilli and garlicky flavours.

The Fried Chicken
Half and half of ginger ninja fried chicken and chilli nut fried chicken

We literally ate ALL the fried chicken! First up was a halfies ($16) of ginger ninja and the chilli nuts fried chicken. It came with nuoc cham sauce and some Korean banchan-type sides: pickled daikon, kimchi and cucumber pieces
Ginger ninja

The ginger ninja straight up had an amazing sexy rippled crunchy coating! The meat was juicy and flavoursome from the ginger-based marination. It was quite similar to Red Pepper's and Sparrow's Mill's original Korean Fried Chicken. Basically, it was awesome!
Chilli nuts
The chilli nuts fried chicken was also delicious. It was coated in a beautiful sticky sweet and chilli sauce. It was also topped with nuts and sesame seeds.
Fly high
Then Patrick nicely gave us a complimentary plate of the fly high ($16) Pnomh Penh fried wings. It's a Cambodian inspired fried chicken dish with an addictive lime white pepper sauce. The chicken's batter was lighter with garlicky, salt and pepper flavours. The lime pepper sauce gives the fried chicken a nice balance by cutting through the richness of the chicken.

Between the awesome hip-hop playlist, the chill out vibe and authentic scrumptious food, there is no doubt that Patrick’s pop-up rocks! Check it out before March ends. I'm definitely going back for more!

Work In Progress
50 King Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Kitchen Hours:
Monday to Friday 12pm to 3pm, then 6pm to 10pm

Bar hours: 12pm till late

Work in Progress on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dachshund Coffee, Hunters Hill

My café adventure continues and it recently took me to the North Shore suburb of Hunters Hill. A few months back, I started following on Instagram a new-ish joint in this area called Dachshund Coffee. I've wanted to visit them ever since seeing all the coffee and mouthwatering dishes they've posted on social media. They have dubbed themselves the "Hounds of Hunters Hill" and hence why they decided to use the beautiful breed "Dachshund" and its name as their character hound mascot to represent their café. Owners Alex, Matt and Rob's café background includes the likes of Anvil Coffee, Pablo & Rusty and The Reformatory Caffeine Lab. Nothing but great things are expected from the trio! I can confirm that awesomeness as I have experienced it first hand at Dachshund.

Pastry cabinet

So upon arriving just around 10 minutes after their opening time on a Sunday, the place was already crowded. That's definitely a good sign! But in spite being busy, they still managed to cater to their clients well. The place had a very welcoming vibe with an action-packed open kitchen and industrial fit out. They also have a white sleek Synesso espresso machine to pump out amazing coffee. Speaking about coffee, they source their beans from a boutique roaster called Fat Poppy Coffee. For tea lovers, they have Tea Craft on offer. Goodies like praline pistachio caramel slices, cupcakes and various pastries are also available. The place is very family-friendly that they even provide water bowls for our furry family members. Parking is convenient and to add to the convenience, there is a bus stop right in front of the shop. 
Flat white

Caffe latte

We started with some caffe latte ($3.50) and flat white ($3.50) with a Fat Poppy espresso blend of Brazilian and Ethiopian coffee. The blend was slammin’ with a medium to full body. Sweet notes of toffee and milk chocolate easily pierced through the nice textured milk (milk is sourced from a farm in Picton). I loved every sip of it!
Batch filter brew for two
I also got to try a batch filter brew ($4 per serve) of Kenya Kahete, which was also roasted by Fat Poppy. It was so fruity with strong notes of blackcurrant and it was so light.
Kumara hotcakes with quinoa salad

The first dish we tried was the Kumara hotcakes ($19). It’s sweet potato patties with goat’s feta, kale, tomato, quinoa salad, a perfect poached egg and chipotle aioli. The hotcakes themselves had a nice caramelised crust surface and delicious yam-like innards. The nutty kale and quinoa salad dressed with red wine vinaigrette was perfect accompaniment to the hotcakes. The chipotle aioli added a touch of smokiness to the dish. 
One of the most epic breakfast dishes I’ve had in my life is their Frenchie ($16.50 available weekends only). Its’ their take on the classic brioche French toast but with a twist. It also had double smoked bacon, caramelized banana, and house maple syrup. The brioche French toast itself was almost like a fluffy buttery pancake. The super smoky crispy bacon and maple syrup was a slam-dunk combo with the brioche. The caramelised banana added a nice soft texture and sweetness to the dish. It’s the type of dish that would make one say “Hot damn this is fantastic!”

Hunters Hill is so lucky to have a local café like Dachshund around. Besides the coffee and food being amazing, they are also so customer focused that they cater to families with kids and dogs. The availability of high chairs, kiddie benches (complete with drawing paper and pencils) and canine water bowls says it all. So on your next visit to Hunters Hill: “Come, Sit, Stay” at Dachshund for an excellent café experience.

Ramen Raff was invited by Dachshund Coffee as a guest.

Dachshund Coffee
64 Gladesville Road
Hunters Hill NSW
Phone: (02) 9879 4619

Opening hours:
Mon-Fri 6:30 am to 4:00 pm
Sat 7:00 am to 4:00 pm
Sun 8:00 am to 3:00 pm

Dachshund Coffee on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 6, 2015

O-San Ramen, Haymarket

Thanks Ms Spoon, Forks and Chopsticks for hand modelling this noodle-lift shot
It sounds cliché but I love ramen so much that I go bananas over them! Soon as I heard that there was a new ramen playa in town, I made plans to check them out straight away.

 O-San Ramen is the latest kid to hit the block and it's a name that many will line up for. They are hidden within the underground Dixon House Food Court, which is located in the heart of Sydney's Chinatown. They specialise in tonkotsu (pork bone) broth and other meat-based broths such as: tonkotsu with garlic oil, chicken, and a broth blend of pork & chicken. One of the things I've noticed straight away is that for a bargain price of $9.80, you get a medium-sized bowl of basic tonkotsu ramen with four generous slices of cha-shu! Here's what I got up to in my two visits:

Visit number one

On my first visit, I had lunch here with the lovely couple Ms.SpoonForkandChopsticks and Mr@Whatever_Guy.
Tonkotsu ramen
Ms. SpoonForkandChopsticks had the basic tonkotsu ramen ($9.80), which consisted of tonkotsu broth, ramen noodles, four slices of cha-shu, diced spring onions and cloud ear mushrooms.
Tonkotsu ramen with extras (Pork kakuni, nori seaweed, bamboo shoots)

I got the same ramen but with extras (pork belly or kakuni for $1.50, nori seaweed for $1.59, and bamboo shoots for $2.50) or super-sized tonkotsu ramen as Ms. SpoonForkandChopsticks called it. We both agreed that the cha-shu is probably one of the best we've had in Sydney as it was tender like most but very flavoursome. It may have something to do with the caramelisation around the edges of the fat. The pork kakuni was tender as expected with a nice sweet barbecue-ish flavour. The noodles were cooked al-dente. But it was the rich potent pork-flavoured broth that held it all together. The consistency was close to being gravy-like (yes, almost like Gumshara's broth consistency but not quite) that when you lift the noodles you could see some broth hug each strand.  It was love at first sip! The green onion's zingy flavour was good for cutting through the rich broth.
Black garlic tonkotsu ramen
Mr. Whatever_Guy opted for the black garlic tonkotsu ramen ($10.80). It had tonkotsu broth, ramen noodles, slices of chashu, spring onion, bean sprouts and cloud ear mushrooms. He said that the broth wasn't too garlicky and that he liked it.

We were a little bit sad that their egg wasn't available at that time. But nevertheless, we still enjoyed our ramens!

Visit number two:

I returned during dinner time on the same day to try their sumo ramen ($12.80). This time I was lucky to score their Ajitsuke Tamago (Marinated soft boiled egg)! The sumo ramen was larger than their bowl of tonkotsu ramen! It had generous servings of cabbage and bean sprouts, thicker ramen noodles (normally used for tsukemen), two pieces of pork kakuni, diced fresh garlic and pork & chicken blend broth. There was a lot of crunch from the generous amounts of veggies but the broth was the star of this bowl. It was lighter than the tonkotsu broth with more emphasis on the chicken flavour. The fresh garlic didn't make sense at first but it lifted the flavours in the broth and added extra sweetness.

By the way, the Ajitsuke Tamago ($1.50) was perfect! Sweet with soft whites and runny egg yolk!

O-San's ramen game is strong and tight. In my opinion, they definitely belong up there amongst the other big boys of Sydney's ramen scene.

O-San Ramen, Japanese Noodle Bar
Shop B1, Dixon House Food Court
Little Hay Street
Haymarket NSW

Opening  hours
Monday: 11:00am - 8:30pm
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday to Sunday: 11:00am - 8:30pm

O-San Ramen on Urbanspoon