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Fries to Foie Gras
FTFG is a Medical student and his passions include eating and cooking (in that order).

He hopes to eat his way around the world one day and own a patisserie after he has retired.

Just Shortcake
FTFG's unwilling sous-chef and pretend patient.

FTFG tricked me into being here - but then I fell in love and stayed.


Past Posts
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
July 2012
August 2012

For a complete list of our posts,
please click the archives link above

Dan's House ( George St CBD), N2 Extreme Gelato (Dixon Street CBD)

Today is ...
Culinary Adventure day!

It started off like every other regular Friday with FTFG waking up late for class and me, tagging along because he likes me there I (apparently) have nothing better to do. Usually, we head into Sydney's CBD a little earlier for brunch and anything else we like to fit in. Today's schedule: a spot of spontaneous brunch (get the pun? haha), some book shopping (!!! my favourite!!!), stop by N2 and then studying.

Except that was totally NOT what happened. Well okay, for the most part it was but let me tell you the story.

First off, I drove. Big mistake. FTFG says he needs to visit a chiropractor every time I drive. The only part of his that is stiff... Sorry haha, that pun was just totally there for the taking! Anyway, as per usual we were late but decided we'll visit Din Tai Fung for brunch anyway. Unpopular opinion: I'm not the biggest fan of Din Tai Fung but I really felt like something warm today. As we were heading towards the restaurant however, FTFG saw the sign for a new restaurant: Dan's House.

Little known facts about FTFG: he always gets sucked into Asian restaurants that promise to deliver but rarely do and I always humour him. Dan's House specialises in Peking Duck whilst modernising other Chinese dishes. Sounds good to me! So in we went.

Dan's House is on George St but in order to get to the restaurant, you have to take a lift. The decor of Dan's House is quite different to every other Chinese restaurant you know of in Chinatown. Instead of those plastic chairs and slightly sticky floor, you get a curved booths and transparent chairs. I especially love the chopsticks engraved with the restaurant's name in gold. Nice touch!

Just as we entered the restaurant from the elevator, there was a huge crashing sound coming from outside the window. Then we saw what looked like a sheet of glass smash into a million cheap knock off rain drops. It was pretty frightening, especially since no one knew where the sheet of glass had come from.

Anyway, we ordered the restaurant's signature duck soup, sugar cane smoked duck with lychee and mango jelly and the porkbelly lunch set.

First, the soup.

It looks quite plain and to be honest, tastes just as it looks. There's some tofu in the soup and not too much duck flavouring personally. Nothing special.

Sugar cane smoked duck with lychee and mango jelly.
The top photo is from Dan's House, below is our own.

I think this was the dish FTFG and I were both looking forward to most. The dish comes with five pieces separated with slices of cucumber. Having my first piece, I thought the sauce (not sure what it was suppose to be) tasted very similar to a plum, sweet and sour sauce. The slice of duck was okay whereas the jelly was a little hard.
I don't eat cucumber especially since it's been merely used aesthetically here but FTFG said it tasted like nothing anyway. We deconstructed our second pieces and realised both duck and jelly contained little to no flavour at all. I swear I forgot it was suppose to have a hint of sugar cane until I looked up the menu again. Also, no smokey flavours. FTFG thought the duck was dry and reminded him of boiled, lean pork. Think the kind of pork slices you get if you boiled lean pork loin, tough and flavourless.  Same with the jelly! It had a hint of citrus, no lychee flavours and it was pretty hard. I'm not sure if it's because it's usually a dinner dish that we ordered for lunch and therefore, the chef didn't have time to let the jelly soften or if that's how it usually is but we were greatly saddened. Still, it looked nice - if only nice tasted as good as it looked.

Finally, the pork belly lunch set. The lunch set comes with four parts plus a bowl of rice. The four parts include: sweet stir fried pork belly, fried turnip-radish cakes, a bean curd salad of sorts and seasonal fruit.

My favourite was the turnip-radish cakes. Essentially, they're the same type of cakes you get at any yum cha restaurants.

I.e. this.

However, the ones at Dan's House are cubed and fried until there's a beautiful golden crisp layer that crunches in that exquisite naughty way only too much oil can provide. It also had a dark sauce and julianned mandarin rind at the bottom which gave it Dan's personal touch. We both agreed that this dish blew the original poor man's cake out of the water.


The pork belly was extremely tender. I think FTFG said it was the best he's had in a long while. The first piece I had was just fat and it melted in my mouth. It was amazing - and terrifying. You know that small part in you that constantly nags you to be healthy? You pretty much need to shut that part of your brain down to eat the fatty goodness of this dish. The fat to meat ratio was roughly say, 70 : 30. I liked it when I had a little of both, as separately they were either too rich or just plain boring.

Overall, I thought Dan's House was average. I'm not sure if it's because we turned up at lunch time and were the first customers of the day or if they perform better during dinner time. I'm not completely sold enough to return for a second try but I do want to try their Peking duck (their signature dish) and see how the place performs during the dinner time.

Dan's House on Urbanspoon

The next place FTFG was literally dying to visit. N2 Extreme Gelato. Despite the chilling winds, FTFG was determined to have the gelato today. 12:30pm and extreme wind speeds seemed like prime time for munching on ice-cream. Being the organised, geographically savvy youngsters that we are, we finally found N2 and... a locked door.

I could literally hear FTFG's disappointment and heartache. He literally and quite verbally refused to believe it was closed. He tried the front door several times in fact. I suggested perhaps, we can, my other entrance? So we did. And lo, and behold! An unlocked door!

... And no one to service us. HAHAHAHA.

I don't know what pushed us to enter the store. Well, in our defence, the lights were on. And when we pushed, as the sign politely asked us to, we pushed and were emitted entrance!

The first thing FTFG notices is the four kitchen aids standing unattended. The perfect opportunity he said! For what? I asked. Stealing was his reply. We had a look around at the decor and the menu (a quaint little chalkboard thing). Then we greeted a surprised shop-owner.

He was kind enough to make us some ice cream even though he wasn't prepared and wasn't planning to open for another 30 minutes.

FTFG went for their extremely popular blueberry cheesecake whilst I went with the slightly stronger (and definitely more masculine) Hainanese coffee. Other flavours they featured included Boysenberry cheesecake, Earl Grey (sold out!), Geisha's milk (green tea matcha latte if I remember correctly), Plain Vanilla, Kinky Vanilla (I think it has a hint of spice?), Chocolate and... possibly popcorn.

Anyway, FTFG's blueberry cheesecake came out with such a beautiful authentic blueberry colour that only real blueberries can achieve. You know that lovely lilac tinged with a hint of too much blue? That colour. God and it tasted just as good as it looked (a funny contrast to the other dish from Dan's House). The real cream N2 adds to the cheesecake really makes it feel like you're eating cake!

My ice cream was a lovely rich sweet coffee colour with real coffee bean bits. Widely known fact: I do not drink coffee. (I know, I know. I survive uni and all that on sheer force of will - but if you're going to share the Ritalin, pass it over sister!). Anyway the ice cream had that sturdy coffee punch with I like and just enough sweetness so that the punch doesn't knock you out. Initially, I liked the coffee bits for the crunch but increasingly became annoyed with them. Plus, I eat ice cream excruciatingly slow so it always melts before I'm done.

N2 sells their ice cream for $6 per scoop, regardless of whether it is in a cup or cone (and it's a good waffle cone so don't shy from it!). Personally, FTFG and I both agreed that $6 a scoop was reasonable considering the ice cream was good quality and the novelty nitrogen factor made us giggle like school girls. I can't wait to go back and try the other flavours! Hmm... Already thinking about which one's to order.

I think this post is long enough for one day! The ending of our culinary adventure in the next post! Plus photos!!! I promise! Haven't you noticed just how efficient everything has been going ever since I arrived? :P I joke. Oh the life of an art's student! Apparently, I have so much time, FTFG can just retire.


(Even I wish I didn't have to study!)

Unprecedented! (Photo post)

Good morning world!

I've been awake since 4.30am... Don't worry, I fell asleep almost instantly after a long day at uni! I was in bed by 6.30pm.

Anyway, since then, I've just been making little changes to the blog. I don't know why it took me over an hour just to change the font style (which I'm STILL not happy with by the way!), font colour, tables.. cell alignments.. ahem. Then I fixed up the comment section, finally!!! Now, my minions, spam it.

Today's post is in ways an apology for our lack of posting.. Sorry! But we do have a few posts in draft mode ready to be published real soon so please bare with us!

Now if these don't get you salivating, there is something a teensy bit wrong with you..

And finally..
If FTFG and I were a dessert dish, we would like to be this:

It's a strawberry shortcake with foie gras ice cream!

Click on the photos to see their original source! 

New look, new post, new recipes!

Have you noticed something different about FTFG? Why thank you, yes, we did get a new lovely haircut but more importantly, the blog got a complete make over. Of course, there is still some fine tuning that needs to be done but all good things take time.

Now, those new dishes we promised.

Pan fried duck with citrus salad

Pan fried duck with scallops and soba noodles

And together!

Both dishes were surprisingly easily to make. Personally, I have to say I'm a huge fan of the citrus salad. I can't remember if the original recipe asked to use spinach and rocket - which was what we used - but the orange slices (surprisingly) complimented the soy sauce, olive oil and lemon dressing by giving it a streak of sweetness through the acidity. 

On the other hand. the scallops we seared in the second dish tasted disastrous. Do people normally expose their horrible cooking on their food blogs? I'm not sure but I'm telling you now. The scallops we had in Bistro 211 (in the Hunter Valley)  (update soon because I loved that place!) would have murdered the ones we seared ourselves just as Bane kicked Batman's arse in the new Nolan flick (which was also, not-so-incidentally-and-actually-for-comparative-purposes, amazing).

The recipes for both these dishes can be found on the Gourmet Traveler website - pan fried duck with citrus salad and pan fried duck with scallops and soba noodles.

Now, I suppose long time readers (which I can probably count on one hand - or rather, finger) of this blog, can see that this post is written vastly different to all others. Mostly because it isn't your usual lovely FTFG who's writing (and editing and resizing photos) this post but rather, it's me. Surprise!

I play sous-chef in FTFG's imaginary three hatted kitchen - when he lets me. To be honest, I clearly enjoy the end product much more than the actual process and absolutely hate the ending (cleaning!). My weapons are words and not sharp knives! FTFG calls me jellybean but you can call me Shortcake. He asked me to move in with him and here we are!

The end~

Edit: So apparently, the pan fried duck with citrus salad recipe no longer exists. I wonder why that is. :/ Anyway, your regular FTFG will be updating this post soon with the recipe which he remembers (and I clearly, do not.)

Ricotta Hot Cakes with Bacon, Butter and Bananas!

Its been a while since my last post as I've resumed uni *long sigh*. Neurology is by far the most knowledge-dense block we've done so far and it's giving me a massive migraine (subdural haemorrhage anyone?) /end Rant. Now onto a happier topic!

One of my favourite meals of the day is Breakfast/Brunch. Why? Well its probably the only meal where you can have a sweet as a main and it would be completely justifiable. The sun is out, coffee is ALWAYS present and it's the beginning of a new day!

I'm pretty sure most of you reading this would agree with me that Melbourne is the Mecca for all things brunch. Whilst I was down there last year, stopped by at a cafe called 'Ms Jacksons' in St Kilda. This place was an exact replica of Bill's at Surry hills (Corn Fritters, Ricotta Pancakes - you name it). Now putting aside the infringement of intellectual property, you couldn't argue with their pancakes. Not only have they copied Bill, they've improved it. Fluffier, Tastier - and just foodgasmic.

Ms Jackson's Ricotta Pancakes with Bananas and Honeycomb butter.
I have been practicing over and over again Bill's recipe, and finally mastered it enough. This recipe can be prepared the night before, and pulled together at the last minute! Its incredibly delicious, incredibly easy and incredibly artery clogging. It's great for a special occasion, though I have yet to find one which warrants such gluttony. Oh well its still early in the year :) Here are the ingredients:

1 1/3 cups Ricotta
3/4 cups Milk
4 eggs separated
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt

50g butter
Honeycomb Butter (1:1 Soft Butter, Honeycomb and Honey (to your tasting) in a blender) - Roll into a log and cut.

Dry Mix: Sift together the flour, Baking powder and salt.
Wet Mix: Place ricotta, milk and egg yolks together and whisk to combine.
Mix together wet and dry mix.
Beat Egg whites until stiff peaks form (I found very stiff peaks gave a fluffier texture)
Fold Egg whites in two batches.
Fry as per normal pancakes and you're done! Add crispy middle bacon, torched bananas, maple syrup & honeycomb butter!

The Homemade Version :)

Ocean Room Circular Quay Review

First World Problems. I sat at my desk and deliberate over and over again. Yet the problem appeared unsolvable. Ocean Room, Blancharu or Gastro Park? I couldn't go wrong either way right? So at the flip of (three) coins, fate had determined that I shall be dining at Ocean Room.

Ocean Room is definitely a good choice for a romantic date based on its location alone (using that logic, so is Quay). We were situated right next to the wharf where we had a perfect view of the Opera House. Not that I haven't seen it a thousand times before, or that I hadn't been inside whilst dining at Guillame, but having paid for that view made it seem all that more special. But I digress.

Oyster Duos

We decided to go with the degustation (as always) and chose to upgrade it to include the Tuna five ways. Apparently it's a signature dish, and for that reason it must be had! First on the menu were oyster duos. The left oysters have a granny smith apple vinaigrette, which had a sour punch to them. The right oysters had a Yamazaki Whisky dressing with white balsamic air. If I had a kryptonite, it'd be oysters. I rarely enjoy it (except at Assiette!) and it usually doesn't agree with me anyways. Right now all the oysters around the world are probably rejoicing.

Sea Salt Cured Tuna Tartare, Sesame scented toasted Nori
The fruits of my hard labour (constructing it...)

I believe that tartare, ceviche and anything raw in nature can rarely go wrong. Good ingredients make a good final product. Ocean room sticks true to this principle whilst adding their own flare to a rather straightforward dish. Our waiter advises us to wrap all the ingredients together and consume the dish like a DIY sushi roll! The Nashi pear is a genius idea, having only fallen flat by the thinness of the slice. The Nori is fragrant of sesame oil, and is quite salty in taste. This is very deliberate, as the tuna is rather underseasoned (despite being salt cured?) and together, our hard work is rewarded with a delicious amalgamation of flavours.

Anchovy & Tomato Sorbet, White Gazpacho
The white gazpacho is made of almond milk & tomato water and is topped with a scallop ceviche and smoked watermelon taster. It leaves me confused as I thought ceviches were raw, and these had been quickly torched. The gazpacho is cold, creamy and rather salty. If one were to draw on comparisons, it would taste most similar to a white cauliflower soup. The tomato sorbet is meant to be a palate cleanser, and it packs quite a powerful punch (imagine intense tomato).

Uni Tamago & Calamari Pops
The Uni Tamago is a semi-poached egg with a sea-urchin foam and oigatsuo reduction with a bread soldier. To me, it seemed like an attempt at reinventing a breakfast classic. Even though it was nice, I didn't feel like any of the individual components stood out on their own. The Calamari pops were tempura calamari sprinkled with green curry salt and served with a side sauce (I identified lime, fish sauce and sugar as three components of it). I wasn't terribly impressed with this dish as it is as described...deep fried calamari.

Spanner Crab Bonito Consomme
The Bonito Consomme contains in it spanner crab, a square of winter melon, agedashi tofu and shiso mochi (!!). The soup is sweet and delicate and would be perfect on a winters night. In one of my spoonfuls, I taste the mochi which completely felt out of place. It did not retain any flavours and the consistency did not meld with the smooth comforting nature of the soup.

Tuna Creations
The signature dish. Going from left to right, The tuna varied from Oil blanched, poached, seared, raw and soy marinated. They each had their own condiments and five different types of salts that were meant to compliment each style of cooking. The truffle salt was the most delicious whilst the soy salt (light) and soy salt (aged) added just the smell of soy, without any flavour. Regular soy sauce in liquid form would have been much preferred. I would describe this dish as different and somewhat entertaining, but doesn't actually improve the dish anymore than what an experience sashimi master would present to you.

Deconstructed Ceviche

This was my absolute favourite dish of the night and if there is one dish you had to get, this would be it. We are presented with three separate components and are allowed to construct the dish ourselves. In the middle is a medley of seafood and vegetables, lying above a fish bowl of ice. To the left are our ocean trout and crystal bay prawns, and to the right is a yuzu vinagrette in a test tube (!!). I was very cautious to use the whole tube in case I had overseasoned it, but its actually been perfectly measured out! The ocean trout has been pre-seasoned with salt flakes and the prawns have been slightly torched. The salt perfectly seasons the ocean trout which would have otherwise been bland. The prawns were so perfect and was my foodgasm moment. It was still raw but so incredibly sweet and flavourful. I only wish they gave us more than two pieces!
Saikyo Miso Cod with ginger risotto
A classic Japanese dish that ranks as one of my favourite dishes. Flavourwise, it had the perfect blend of sweet and saltiness. However the execution of its preparation was a very big let down. The middle of the fish was light and flakey, as one would hope. However the borders of fish piece were rather hard and dry. The ginger risotto, whilst having an AMAZING flavour profile, was undercooked and still rather hard to the bite. Not enough to shatter a tooth, but hard enough that even someone having risotto for the first time would notice. It was very disappointing to find such a good dish let down by poor execution.

Smoking is unhealthy kids...deliciously unhealthy.
Table Smoke Char-grilled Wagyu Beef, Miniature potato croquette, Chimichurri sauce
The dish arrives and I'm sure it's always one that gets wows and woahhs. The dome has been partially smoked and we're told to leave the beef covered for at least another 30 seconds. The beef is of beautiful quality, and nothing could be faulted with how it was presented. The smokiness left was very faint and didn't seem to add anything more than showmanship. The potato croquette could be simply described as a takoyaki ball (even the sauce was the same) without the octopus. The chimmichurri sauce was too sour and I didn't use it as I felt it had ruined the delicate flavours of the wagyu beef.
Nigiri - Chef's Choice
Beautifully presented and seasoned selection of nigiri. It only comes with some pickled ginger. No soy sauce. And why would you need it? There isn't much to say about this. One of the best sushi I've had in Sydney as of yet.

Gorgonzola Scented Panna Cotta with Caramalised Bananas, Shoyu Caramel and Jumai jelly
Whilst this seemed like a very mundane dish to finish off with, Ocean Room had put their own spin on it which produced a completely different flavour profile. The Shoyu caramel, which was sweet and salty, worked so well with the panna cotta to create something completely different from the everyday vanilla panna cotta.

Overall I wouldn't say there were too many dishes that were amazing or show-cased the chef's skills or creativity. My favourite would definitely have been the deconstructed ceviche. I believe that Ocean room is probably best experienced if ordered a la carte with safe favourites. The view is amazing though and the staff were quite knowledgeable.

Ocean Room on Urbanspoon

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