August 25, 2012

Street Food on Jalan Alor

It's been a long time since since my last post as I was in Malaysia for work in the month of July before returning to London for the Olympics.  I am back again in Malaysia, this time for at least 5 weeks and already time has flown as I am 2 weeks in.  Whilst Malaysia's food heaven provides ample blog material, it has also kept me extremely busy as I endeavour to eat as much as possible back in my home country.

I'm in KL for work so that has also kept me busy but I have managed to visit Jalan Alor twice already, this time with my Aussie mate Lauren who was also here for work which was great as we got to catch up.  Jalan Alor is a busy eat street in the city centre, right near Bukit Bintang, which is really happening at night.  Here you can get a variety of hawker food - the usual favourites like "Char Kway Teoh"  (famous Penang fried noodles), "Har Mee" (prawn soup noodles) and grilled chicken wings.  There's also an abundance of seafood options including oyster omelette which I introduced Lauren to.  We both loved it, especially the garlic sauce which added to the flavour but I was somewhat concerned for the other passengers who would be flying back from KL to Sydney the next morning with Lauren. 

Hawker stands - GIANT prawns - Kway Teoh - Pandas & dessert?

We shared three dishes:  a Kway Teoh, chicken & rice noodles ("Gei Si Hor Fun") and the omelette, all of which cost only 25RM (or£5/$8) which is the normal price for street food.  As I always say, why would you want to eat anywhere else?  I rarely eat in "proper" restaurants in Malaysia as it's just not worth it compared to the quality you get for the price of street food.
Apart from all the hawker food stalls on Jalan Alor, there are also various street steamboat ("lok lok") or grills where you get seafood and meats on sticks including some giant prawns that we saw at one of the grill stands. 

There are also many fruit vendors selling local Malaysia fruits like rambutans, longans, star fruit and the famous "king of fruits", durian.  The mix of food items on this street make it a great little stop for a snack or a meal.  You can also get some desserts like soybean ("tofu-fa"), advertised by a large number of panda bear dolls - bizarre but cute!

"Lok lok" - garlicy oyster omelette - local fruits & the king of fruits

As a Malaysian, I would say the quality of food at Jalan Alor is just average as you tend to have to go to specific places for specific foods; for example, the best satay is in Kajang, the best "bakuteh" is in Klang (although that is debatable amongst locals) and the best dry won ton noodles (in my opinion anyway) is in Ipoh.  However, Jalan Alor is right in the centre of town and is a great experience for those new to street food in Malaysia.  A recommended option for anyone visiting KL and looking for a relaxed but authentic food experience.  Enjoy!

What:  Street food
Where:  Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (all cab drivers will know this)
How much:  various - noodles 6RM, Oyster omelette 12.50RM, large bottle of Tiger beer 16RM

August 24, 2012

Princess Coco Part 2!

So you might have read my post last week when I went to check out Princess Coco when they had their 'sneak preview' opening. They were closed again monday to wednesday this week for further 'training, security and refrigeration upgrade'. Today they were open again and I decided to buy a couple of their individual cakes to take home and share with my mum (THE cake lover of all time).

Sorry mum, there's only 2 cakes in there!

Admittedly these cakes are not cheap, they're around the $8.50 mark for takeaway and around $12.50 for eat in but they looked really good and definitely worth a try.

Ooh I cannot wait to eat these pretty things!

The first piece I chose was a raspberry and chocolate cake - it has a crunchy biscuit base which contains nuts (hazelnuts I think?) topped with layers of chocolate and raspberry. Decorated with fresh raspberry and pistachio, some silver leaf and a delicate curl of chocolate it's almost too pretty to eat. But oh my does it taste good. Really good! The base has a nice roasted nutty flavour, the raspberry layer is tart and fresh and the dark chocolate mousse is smooth and not too sweet - it all combines together really well and it's not too sweet at all.

Raspberry chocolate cake - layer upon layer of yum!

The second piece was a raspberry mousseline (or was it just called berry mousseline? I can't remember now I'm afraid). It's a round cake and cute as a button and very striking in colour. There's a thin cake layer on the bottom, topped with the berry mousseline and decorated with chopped nuts, a small cube of coconut dusted marshmallow and an arc of chocolate. Mum did the honours of cutting it in half for me to get an inside shot but had a little mishap as you can see in the photo, oops! Inside there is actually a disc of mango mousse (or something like mousse). Dang this cake is realllly good as well. The berry and mango components are very fresh and you can tell they use real fruit for both the cakes. It's tart and fresh with just the right level of sweetness. Yum!!

Berry (raspberry?) mousseline. Arrrgh cake down! cake down!

I'm really impressed by these cakes - perfectly balanced flavours and great 'cakemanship' which is clearly evident when you eat them. Yummy!!

What: Princess Coco Chocolaterie
Where: 158-166 Day St, Sydney (Mon-Wed: 7am-8pm, Thu-Fri: 7am-10pm, Sat: 10am-10pm, Sunday closed)
How much: The mousseline is $8.50 takeaway and the raspberry chocolate cake was $9.50.

August 15, 2012

Princess Coco Chocolaterie - Salon du chocolat

So.. I walk past this block every day and have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Princess Coco. After a long time of no action, the renovations started happening and then last week they seemed like they were training staff and preparing to finally open (yes, I was peeking through the glass doors whenever I could catch a glimpse!).

Today the store had a 'sneak preview' opening with the official opening on August 29 which will have the full menu available.

View from outside.. those chandeliers are bright and sparkly!

I like the fit out which is in line with their belle epoque style (see the story on their website) - pretty chandeliers, comfy purple and gold chairs, soft music which isn't too loud so it's a relaxing space which is suitable for conversation too. Service was polite, prompt and unobtrusive with menus and water provided as soon as we sat down. Oh and behind the counter you can see into the kitchen which I like as this means they at least make some, if not all, of the food there!

Hmm... glass cabinet full of chocolates

Seating along the side

And they use Valrhona chocolate so how can you go wrong? I decided to try something simple - Earl Grey chocolate noir (Caraibe dark chocolate with hints of bergamot). The earl grey flavour is just right - strong but not overpowering. The chocolate was a tad too sweet for my liking but that's just personal preference. It's a little on the pricey side with takeaway at $6.50 and dine-in $8.50 but nothing out of the ordinary for a chocolate cafe and looking at the displays of macarons, cakes and chocolates I think the quality should be good.

I'll definitely be interested to see what the full menu will be like and to try some more of their stuff!

I'd like one of these chairs in my home! Earl Grey chocolat noir and the macarons on display.

Cakes look pretty.... might go back and buy one...

What: Princess Coco Chocolaterie
Where: 158-166 Day St, Sydney (Mon-Wed: 7am-8pm, Thu-Fri: 7am-10pm, Sat: 10am-10pm, Sunday closed)
How much: Hot chocolate was $6.50 takeaway and $8.50 dine in.

Jack Snacks!... Nabisco Picola Uji Maccha Biscuits

Ever since I tried the tasty green tea Oreo Sticks, I've been on the lookout for them but sadly haven't seen any.... But! The same company that made them (Nabisco) also have a similar range called Picola which come in flavours uji maccha (green tea), strawberry and chocolate.

No doubt I had to buy the green tea to try and I have to say I actually liked these better than the Oreo Sticks! There are 2 packs inside the box, each containing 6 sticks. The wafer biscuit is crispy and light but being a 'plain' flavour the wafer component isn't as strong as the Oreo Sticks were.This allows the uji maccha flavour to come through reeeeal nicely which is great cause it's reeeeal good. Definitely one for the green tea fans out there, I've currently got 3 packs in my possession!

picola.. yum...
So yum it deserves an extra photo!

What: Nabisco Picola Uji Maccha Biscuits
Where: You can get this at various asian supermarkets that stock Japanese snacks, I've seen them at Maruyu, Thai Kee, Miracle, CitiSuper and Tokyo Super
How much: From $3.99 (at Maruyu and Tokyo Super), around the $4.50 mark at the other shops.

August 13, 2012

Jack (Euro) Snacks!... Ladurée

Yeah.. it's been ages since the Europe trip and I've still got loads of photos which haven't been posted! But recent news that Ladurée will be opening at Sydney Westfield reminded me of our visit to the Champs Elysées store in Paris. I _will_ get around to posting the other Europe photos but it doesn't hurt to make a start with  Ladurée.

Travelling with a large group of relos spanning 3 generations meant that anything but a quick visit was out of the question. The shop and tearoom are very popular, the shop is sooo crowded. Crowd aside, the place is picture perfect - the building and tearoom, window displays, the uniforms worn by the staff and the gorgeous cakes. But what most people are here for are of course the macarons. And why not? Macarons in their current double decker form were invented by Ladurée and they are considered one of the best around.

Looks crowded even from out here...

Tiny door, big crowd inside! Pretty window display and first glimpse of inside from the end of the queue.

We had to line up of course and so I took some snaps as we moved along in the queue until we were told "no photos!" - in my defence there didn't seem to be a sign saying so and I hadn't spotted any staff member free enough to ask beforehand heehee. It's been so long so I have no idea what the prices were - let's just say you wouldn't call them 'cheap', but they weren't so expensive that I felt it necessary to remember the number. We got a box with various flavours which included caramel with salted butter, chocolate, pistachio, green apple, raspberry, orange blossom, lemon, blackcurrant violet and rose.

Pretty cakes and macarons.. look at that cute strawberry cake in the middle shot, I wish I'd bought one!

And how were they? The family convened in one of our hotel rooms and scoffed them! They are indeed good - delicate and light with a lovely filling. I especially liked the rose, the flavour was just right. But I regret not getting one of the little cakes shaped like a strawberry which looked super cute. Maybe they'll have them at the Sydney store... I'll definitely be interested to see if that's the case!

Ooh.. they almost look too pretty to eat!

But the family digs in and they disappear quickly, rose (center) is easily my favourite!

What: Ladurée
Where: 75 avenue des Champs Elysées, Paris
How much: Can't remember sorry... not 'cheap' but affordable for a treat.

August 4, 2012

Jack Snacks!... N2 Extreme Gelato

Gelato made with liquid nitrogen! When Hey Hey House closed down at Number One Dixon I was hoping something good would open up in it's place.

The glass doors had been covered in printouts of chemical symbols and a definition for Nitrogen - hint hint!

Nitrogen coming...

So it finally opened last night (Friday) and there were lots of people watching with interest as their gelato was made with liquid nitrogen. I hadn't even had dinner yet but I was totally keen to have a taste so decided to try their Earl Grey Burnt Caramel but it was sold out so I went with a chocolate instead (I know, bo-ring). It was a good chocolate gelato though, on the dark side so not too sweet which is good. And the texture is thick and smooth. I like!

Is that a crowd?

Yep.. that's a crowd!

Ooh... now this looks like fun!
Liquid nitrogen gelato in chocolate flavour.. gone almost as quick as it took to make...
Check out the super frosty liquid nitrogen jug and those cool science lab gelato mix bottles... I wanna play!

There's nitro shakes which I'll have to try after I've tried some more of their flavours - this place is fun and different and oh so dangerously close to work so there's no doubt I'll be back next week for a gelato fix!

What: N2 Extreme Gelato
Where: 43/1 Dixon St Sydney
How much: Prices start with one scoop for $6

August 2, 2012

Ramen Zundo

I don't normally post with photos from my phone but I've been daydreaming about this ramen since I had it 2 days ago so I have to share this. It's tonkotsu ramen from the newly opened Ramen Zundo (who were also behind Sushi Fusion and Monkey Magic) at World Square and this is one good tonkotsu ramen! The soup and the pork are seriously to die for and there's bean sprouts, cabbage and seaweed for the vegie touch.

Oh and until the 12th August you can get 2 ramens/curries for $15 between 11am-4pm just by showing the voucher on your phone/printout - awesome value.

I'm already planning my next visit! Oishiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!

What: Ramen Zundo (Tonkotsu ramen baby, tonkotsu ramen!)
Where: World Square Shop 10.30, Level UG (near the 'Sushi Roll Bar' restaurant), 644 George St, Sydney 2000
How much: $11.80 for the original Tonkotsu ('white')

July 5, 2012

Supper Nights - Pizza

It's been..  a while. It feels longer than that though, as if an eon has passed since I last made a post. Apologies - it's not so much that I've been off doing great things but stuff just tends to happen and we sometimes lose our way. But I reminded myself that I do this because food is a little piece of happiness that can be had each day - it doesn't need to be grand, it just needs to fill your tummy and put a smile on your face. I enjoy sharing these pieces of happiness with family, friends and whoever else might stumble across this little blog.

On the topic of friends - I have a wonderful bunch of them and I may not say it often but I am ever so grateful. And so I thought it fitting to post up some photos from a recent Supper Night which was great fun (and tasty too).

For as long as we've known him, Akhil has been a pizza fiend. He loooooves pizza! So much so that he even has his own pizza oven and makes his own pizza dough. We all convened at JC and Steph's - Akhil brought, amongst other ingredients, the all important pizza oven and dough. Much fun was had with some of us rolling the dough and some of us putting the toppings on, all under the pizza fiend's guidance. Yum! Nothing beats fresh, homemade pizza with good company. We even made our own dessert pizza, featuring banana, marshmallow and maple syrup, which I'd definitely eat again. It's always the simple things that are best. Thanks guys! Can't wait to do it again...!

June 18, 2012


It's old news now but the coffee scene in London has finally matured and it is much easier to find a good coffee like the ones served at well known cafes like Taylor St BaristasSacred and Fernandez & Wells.  The formula for me is quite easy:  avoid the mainstream chains, listen out for a laid back Aussie or Kiwi using a La Marzocco machine and if flat whites are on the menu, then you have a pretty good chance.  Living in Battersea, we're actually quite lucky to have a few options for a good brew, not least including my very own home barista Dave!  

But when out and about, one of the best options in our neighbourhood is Birdhouse.  It's a simple cafe, doing simple food with damn good coffee.  The decor of yellow and metallic grey with the bird theme makes the place feel industrialised yet arty.  It's a cool place to hang out and enjoy a simple sandwich or cake, but of course the main attraction is the coffee.  The beans are a lovely roast providing a sophisticated shot, topped with perfect temperature milk (something the Brits took a while to learn about).  We love a good flat white here and it's also good to support the owners (an Aussie & a Cuban) who obviously take a lot of pride in what they do.  If you love your coffee, I promise you that you won't be disappointed at Birdhouse. 

Birdhouse - a recipe for success:  doing something really simple really well, especially flat whites

What:  Birdhouse
Where:  123 St John Hill's Road, Battersea SW11 1SZ
How much:  Coffees approx. £2.20 from memory, sandwiches less than £5

June 11, 2012

Bistrot Bruno Loubet

It's been a while since we had dinner at Bistrot Bruno Loubet but I still have very fond memories of the experience.  It was a group dinner mid week to celebrate the birthday of Maria and we enjoyed a pre-dinner drink outside at the back of the restaurant in St John's Square before sitting down to a wonderful selection of dishes.  Everyone enjoyed their meals which were full of flavour and colour.  It was also a treat to see Bruno himself cooking in the kitchen which is a rare treat, especially on a Tuesday night.  

I had the summer fish cassoulet full of lovely, light flavours from the herbs and vegetables along with a perfectly cooked piece of fish. The rabbit tournedos with artichoke barigoule (stewed artichoke hearts) and lovage (sea parsley) pesto was also a popular choice and equally tasty and not too heavy.  Esteban of course went for steak, taking the grilled Aberdeen Angus sirloin with spring onion persillade which looked delicious.

Special dish I can't remember but tasted good - Rabbit tournedos - Front of restaurant

All our plates were clean by the end of the meal and everyone was keen for dessert. Maria and I both had the apricot crème brûlée served with pistachio ice cream with Maria's plate decorated with a birthday message.  I wasn't sure whether the apricot and pistachio were a bit much but the flavours seemed to work well together.  Thin apple tart with crème fraîche and cinnamon ice cream was also a hit, proving that Bruno finds the perfect balance of classic French cooking with just a hint of flair that makes him such an accomplished chef. 

Fish cassoulet - Sirloin - Crème brûlée - Apple tart

Bistrot Bruno Loubet at The Zetter hotel is a highly recommended choice for any occasion.  It promises a wonderful, relaxed meal in comfortable surrounds, friendly service that is spot on, and food that is amazingly great value and sure to please everyone.   I am now thinking of when I can go back again - bon appétit!

What:  Restaurant Bistrot Bruno Loubet
Where:  St John's Square, 86-88 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5RJ
How much:  Entrees £6.50-8.50; mains average £17.50, desserts average £6.50

June 6, 2012

Italian Home Cooking

As I relax and enjoy the Jubilee weekend, I am reminded of the last long weekend in April when Dave and I went to Italy for the Easter weekend with Maria and Esteban.  What made this trip special apart from spending time with our friends, was the fact we got to meet Maria's family and stay with them in their lovely home in Brescia, in the north of Italy, not far from Milan.  And as you can guess, it was a gastronomic feast as we were treated to some amazing Italian home cooking by Maria's mum, Emma. 

We had some lovely meals out in the historic towns of Mantua and Verona but the most memorable meals were definitely those served in the warm kitchen of Maria's family home with Maria's dad Ezio always providing entertainment.  Our first meal was a treat with a starter of cooked prawns which were soft but meaty and full of flavour, served with a light homemade seafood sauce.  This was followed by fresh handmade pasta served with a simple but tasty porcini mushroom and tomato sauce. The pasta was cooked al dente and the flavours were amazing. We wanted to eat loads but had to pace ourselves as this was followed up by melanzane parmigiana which was also perfect.  The eggplant was grilled instead of fried to reduce the oiliness and it was baked to perfection.  The meal was topped off by some homemade  limoncello from a friend and is the best I have ever had.

Homemade Pasta with Porcini & Tomato Sauce and Melanzane Parmagiana

We were then treated to a family meal the following day to celebrate Easter Sunday.  First course was lasagne which was to die for - it was the first time I had lasagne with slices of ham in it but it was divine and probably one of the best ever.  Secondi was vitello tonnato, an Italian dish of sliced veal served with a tuna sauce which was also really tasty.  For dessert we had an awesome strawberry mousse served with crushed amaretto biscuits and cream - so simple but sooo good!  What a great Easter family lunch.

Lasagne - Vitello Tonnato - Strawberry Mouse

That evening we had a simple meal of sliced meats but of course, being Italian, even sliced meats can make a feast.  For a start, there were 6 types of cured meats. Secondly, the meats were freshly sliced using their professional looking meat slicer which produced wafer thin slices of salami, speck, fiocchetto (one of my favourites), mortadella (Esteban's fave)  and culatello which is a local speciality.  As Maria and I agree, it is simple food like this which makes for a fantastic meal.  Add to it some olives, artichokes, bread, pickled vegetables and some local sparkling red wine, and I was starting to work out a way for me to move in with Maria's parents!

Freshly sliced meats - I want more!!

Our final dinner at home started as a light meal but became another gastronomic treat:  red wine risotto with a very good bottle of Valpolicella and the stock that was retained from braising the veal for the Vitello Tonnato.  Needless to say these 2 ingredients and Emma's skillful cooking made this simple risotto quite possibly one of the best risottos Dave and I will ever eat in our life!  Add some extra meats and a fresh monster wedge of Parmigiano REggiano cheese and we were in food heaven (and still working on Ezio and Emma to take me in to learn to cook or just to eat!).

Emma's Recipe Book - Red Wine Risotto - Parmigiano Reggiano

But of course all good things have to come to an end, but not before a final meal by Emma. This time it was 5 homemade pizzas, including Maria's favourite of shallots and blue cheese plus others featuring pepperoni, prosciutto and various cheeses.  It made me want to start making pizza at home although I was certain it wouldn't be nearly as good as Emma's given her many years of experience cooking Italian specialities.  I haven't even mentioned all the other little treats she made us including pear cake, white chocolate muffins and caramel brittle (which I was given a lesson in). 

Pear Cake & Homemade Pizzas

Needless to say it was really sad to leave after such a wonderful stay in Brescia - not only did we get to visit some lovely new places in Northern Italy and enjoy a gastronomic feast but the experience of a warm Italian family like Ezio, Emma and Maria's brother Paolo, is an experience we will always cherish. Grazie mille!

April 20, 2012

Jack Snacks!... Oreo Sticks (Green Tea flavour)

I bought these Green Tea Oreo Sticks a while ago but I had been saving them. Oh man.... now that I have finally eaten them, I wish I'd done so earlier cause I would have gone to the shops and bought the whole rack! But currently there's only the vanilla flavour available.

There's 3 packs inside, each containing 3 sticks. When you open the wrapper you can smell the green tea... mmm! It's crispy and not too sweet with a very nice green tea flavour - I really, really like them and am on the lookout in the hopes that there'll be more imported soon. I suppose I could try the vanilla flavour in the meantime but it just won't be as satisfying as green tea!

These Green Tea Oreo Sticks are the bomb!

What: Oreo Sticks (Green Tea flavour)
Where: At various asian shops, although lately I've only seen the vanilla flavour.
How much: I bought mine for $3.50 at Miracle Supermarket at World Square

April 17, 2012

Pastéis de Belém - home of the Portuguese Tart

Last December we travelled to Lisbon, Portugal for a weekend with our friends Sam and Julien to catch up and explore the city.  One of the highlights of the weekend was a trip to the town of Belém, not far from the centre of Lisbon.  There are many sights in Belém worth visiting but the main attraction for food-lovers like us is the Pastéis de Belém bakery, home of the famous Portuguese egg tarts since the 1830's.  

We visited the bakery for brunch on Sunday and were amazed at how big the place is with four rooms that can seat a few hundred people.  Based on the number of tarts produced onsite that could see through the viewing room into the kitchen, it's not surprising that the place can be packed out including a constant queue at the shop counter in the front.  

Given how famous these tarts are, and the fact that we were hungry, we ordered a dozen tarts between the four of us with coffees.  Our waitress asked us asked how many we were going to eat and how many should be packed to take away - much to her surprise we said we were going to eat all of them.

Pastéis de Belém - so good over 10,000 are sold every day!

A dozen tarts didn't seem a challenge at first when they arrived looking and tasting so scrumptious with their fresh, flaky pastry and the sweet but not too heavy custard filling.  It didn't take long to wolf down the first tart and follow up with a second tart, this time with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.  However, whilst the tarts are simple and tasty, they are rather heavy (especially due to the oil/butter in the pastry) and we found ourselves very full after our third tart.  At this point we understood why our waitress did not expect us to eat all the tarts in one sitting!  

Having said that, it was a great experience and no visit to Lisbon or Belém is complete without trying these legendary tarts.  Belém is also a lovely place to check out with plenty of walks and sights around which is just as well so you can work off any tart greed!   

What:  Pastéis de Belém
Where:  Rua de Belém 84, 1300 Lisboa, Portugal
How much:  only €0.90 per tart

April 16, 2012

Glass Wine Bar's $20 Corporate Lunch

Yep! Glass Wine Bar has a $20 Corporate lunch available Mon-Fri 12-3pm for a limited time. The description on their website is as follows:

"Even if you are having a busy day, make time for lunch and enjoy glass Wine Bar’s NEW ‘Corporate Lunch Options’- which features our famous wagyu burger, beef pie, minute steak or market fish and chips with a glass of under & Over Shiraz or a Vale Ale beer for only $20. No bookings are required."

I've had a crazy craving for burgers lately so I was super excited to try this out! The wine bar is a very nice setting for lunch - it's airy and filled with light, and you can watch the action in the kitchen too.

The view of the kitchen.
C's opted for the minute steak and a glass of wine whereas I've chosen a ginger ale and of course the wagyu burger. The steak is nicely cooked and quite tender, it comes with bearnaise sauce - I've got a bit of food envy! But then my burger arrives and it's exactly what I've been craving! The meat is juicy and there's bacon, cheese, bbq sauce, tomato and a pickle on the side. Both meals come with a serve of freshly cooked french fries. It's more than filling for a lunch and super tasty. It's more than what I would normally spend on lunch but makes for a nice treat, I think I'd like to come back and order the steak!

Drinks, Minute Steak, Wagyu Burger - complete with a french fry trying to escape!
What: Glass Wine Bar's $20 Corporate luch
Where: Glass Wine Bar at the Hilton Hotel
How much: $20

April 10, 2012

Gastro Park

Back in January I had one of the best meals of the year - yep, it's only March but I'm willing to bet that when 2012 comes to an end I'll still think back to this meal and drool!

Before I get started, apologies for the photos - we had a late sitting and as a result it was quite, sorry..

The restaurant has a nice relaxed atmosphere and almost feels like a cafe with couples, groups and some families. We left the food decisions in the hands of the kitchen, opting for the tasting menu. To start there is a thick slice of sourdough bread served with butter and salt, of course I tried to eat as much of the butter as possible! Then a couple of the 'snacks' are served - Putanesca wafer and Cured blackmore short rib grissini. Damn fine snacks if you ask me - I could munch on these anytime - the Putanesca wafer is cheesy with nice flavours from the vegetables. The grissini has cheese as well, which complements the tasty beef.

Mmm bread.. and love the cheese display!

Putanesca wafer and Cured blackmore short rib grissini.

This is followed by slices of raw scallop that are simply dressed with olive oil, a generous smattering of fresh chives, lime and dehydrated squid ink powder. The flavours are simple and fresh, it's delicious and right up my alley. Next is foie gras, wild hare, beetroot, plum vinergar and red cabbage granita. It's pure genius. Foie gras in this shaved form still has the same rich flavour but it's much lighter, so it doesn't overpower the other elements in the dish. All the flavours and textures work well, and the coolness of the granita adds an extra dimension.

The scallops... and the foie gras in grated form.

Our waiter brings out the next dish and asks us to guess what it is and it's not obvious at first glance. Turns out it's soy and mustard glazed swordfish belly with pickled cucumber. It's totally melt in your mouth and has a great flavour, it's almost like eating meat - why doesn't all fish taste this good? The pairing of pickled cucumber works really well to balance the stronger flavours in the fish.

Soy and mustard glazed swordfish belly with pickled cucumber.

Next is one of the dishes that you cannot miss - liquid butternut gnocchi, mushroom consomme and sage. Take a mouthful of the mushroom consomme along with one of the delicate gnocchi and enjoy the smooth texture and flavour that bursts and combines perfectly with the consomme. The cheesy wafer has enoki mushrooms and a couple of the gnocchi plastered to it... simply yum. It's clever and fun and soooooo tasty.

Liquid butternut gnocchi, mushroom consomme and sage.

Where to from here? What else but the other dish that everyone talks about - crispy scaled snapper, smoked potato puree, calamari crackling and ink sauce. Besides the obvious novelty of eating the crispy scales, the snapper is perfectly cooked and delightful in taste and texture. The potato puree is smooth and creamy, with a nice flavour. The calamari crackling is accompanied by a couple of pieces of calamari, and along with the ink sauce binds the dish.

Crispy scaled snapper, smoked potato puree, calamari crackling and ink sauce. 

Couldn't let the calamari bits get missed out in the photo!

By this time we're definitely ready for dessert as we're getting quite full - it arrives in the form of a chocolate, honeycomb, mandarin sphere with cookies & cream. The recommendation is to tap with the back of the spoon as one would with an egg. It gives a good crack and the cold liquid elements ooze out, ready to mixed with the cookies and cream. It's a little on the sweet side but it's very tasty and one feels indulgent, the way dessert should be.

Chocolate, honeycomb, mandarin sphere with cookies and cream.

Craaack! Totally decadent and delicious.

So we come to the end of a truly fantastic meal. C's matching wines were all great pairings - I've never seen C enjoy the matching wines so much with a tasting menu - our sommelier was friendly and informative, you could really see he had a passion for wine. And last but not least, the people (including the afore-mentioned sommelier) working the floor were awesome! Not only was the service faultless but everyone was so friendly that we were laughing non-stop, it was like dining with good friends. I've never had so much fun at a restaurant.... great food, great people - it was perfect!

What: Gastro Park
Where: 5-9 Roslyn St, Kings Cross