Savouries


Having heard numerous reviews about this place, particularly its tendency to be packed out, we came hungry and eager and early. The wait wasn’t too long for our party of 3, which was good, but granted, we arrived very shortly after 12, and it was already full, with a waiting list of about 4 tables. Thankfully, service was fairly prompt and unobtrusive, topping up water glasses discreetly, and bringing out orders relatively quickly.

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Shio Butter Ramen, with extra Pork

Tim’s bowl – he had apparently been on the previous Saturday (without telling me, or taking photos!), and had ordered the Shio Ramen, in case I scolded him for the added butter. Naturally, I demanded he get it this time, so I could try some xD. The extra pork was needed – as you can see from the bowl below, the bowls ordinarily come with just one piece of pork, which is so not enough, given the size of the bowl. Extra pork (4 slices) will cost you though, but is worth sharing. The butter added a touch of decadence to the fairly good bowl of soup, a little more depth, and went particularly well with the sweet corn. Tim wasn’t sure it was worth the extra $1.50 though, compared to the original Shio Ramen.

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Very Hot Ramen

B hasn’t been on one of our foodie trips before, and looked slightly bemused as I whipped out a camera and took a shot of his bowl before he had even picked up his chopsticks. He said that the ‘Very Hot’ ramen, was indeed, very hot, and finished it, soup and all.

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Karaage Ramen

Mine! I haven’t had ramen for a while, and this was very much one of the better examples I’ve tried. The soup was savoury and unami-laden, and noodles deliciously slurpable. The karaage chicken was so-so – nice and crisp before soaking up the soup and tender on the inside, but could so totally be jazzed up a little. I didn’t get as much corn, or any beansprouts as Tim, which made me ‘sadface’, but stealing some from him made my meal feel a little more balanced.

In general, it’s a good eat, and I can see why it’s popular. I can’t help but feel distinctly ripped off though, particularly with the cost of toppings (or lack thereof). One of my major complaints about a popular Vietnamese Pho Restaurant is its exuberant pricing on extras, and Ichi-Ban Boshi has a little of the same feel, although the serving sizes themselves are quite reasonable. Other than that, look at paying between $10 to $14 for a bowl of ramen. Not quite uni-student fare, but otherwise very much passable.

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“So…start talking.”

I have never worked with yeast before. Ever since taking up my food blog stalking reading habits however, I’ve grown more and more ambitious, ever tempted by crunchy looking crusts, and tender, air-pocket strewn crumbs. And so, I tried. Using the pizza dough recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which was used by the Daring Bakers a few months ago.

Lessons learned before going into the oven:

a) No matter how good someone is at maths, make them take out a set of scales and actually *weigh* the flour.

b) Double check amount of flour in the recipe before dumping it into the bowl.

c) Even if a recipe says the dough will be sticky, it should still not be pourable. See a) for why it is pourable.

d) Trust the weather forecast. Have something that will warm the area enough for the yeast to rise on standby.

e) A table lamp is probably not adequate for anything more than interrogation.

f) Flour is your best friend, when the dough seems to be binding itself at a molecular level to anything it comes in contact with.

g) Don’t go out the day you try to make pizza for dinner, when you’ve never done it from scratch in your life.

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16.11.08

We visited the Glebe Street Fest – a day of food, shopping and lots of walking.

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aka Panzanella. This lovely Italian bread salad originates from Tuscany, and is perfect for these lazy spring days that feel far too much like summer. This is just a rough version I threw together with what was in the fridge, no exact measurements I’m afraid. It’s more akin to a bruschetta mix than to a ‘traditional’ panzanella, but everyone seems to have a different recipe, so I’m not overly concerned.

Take a look at these gorgeous tomatoes. The warm weather is back, and you can taste the flavours seeping back into the watery bland tomatoes of winter. In the background, sadly wilted basil, and some bread – Ideally use a well-crusted Italian loaf, seeing as I didn’t have that on hand, ordinary vietnamese bread rolls will do.

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Chop/dice everything up! Clockwise from bottom right, tomato, tomato innards (removed so it didn’t get too watery), minced garlic and basil. Some finely chopped Spanish onion and diced cucumbers would be lovely too!

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Shred the bread (hey that rhymes) into chunks about the size of your tomato pieces. Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over sparingly, and grind a little pepper and sea-salt. Toss up, and place it under the grill to golden-ify.

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Makoto, and indeed, most of the Masuya group restaurants (including Makoto, Masuya and Musashi) are our absolute favourite Japanese restaurants. Granted, we don’t tend to go looking around for much (needs to change!), but since Makoto and Miso are just downstairs from home, it’s always so much easier to go there, and be guaranteed of a good meal.

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Salmon and Kingfish Sashimi 

The sashimi here is usually fantastic – fresh and firm. It wasn’t an exception today, except note to self: eat before udon, not after, the temperature of your mouth makes a difference. Would have loved more kingfish, but this is the usual portion size. It looks a bit like a fish in this picture

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Tempura Udon

The udon here is served in a clay pot, and typically comes out bubbling, which is always awesome. I love the udon at Makoto because it features an egg dropped in the soup to be barely cooked – the whites are still custardy and silky soft, while the combination of yolk and broth are such a more-ish and comforting flavour. I wasn’t very impressed by the tempura though – the pumpkin was passable, but by the time I got around to the two prawn tempura, they had swollen with soup and soggy. I tend to prefer my tempura on the side, served separately for that reason. The prawns tasted as though they had come into contact with ginger (not a bad thing, just unusual) and were also a little rubbery, probably due also to being in the hot soup for a while.

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Chicken Teriyaki Udon

Tim wasn’t too impressed with the chicken, though I thought it was okay. The good things about Makoto’s udons are the slippery soft noodles, and flavoursome broth. And the colourful pink fishcakes (naruto?) are so cute and yummy – I stole one of Tim’s and made it mine and life was all good…

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Spider Roll

When I think Makoto, I think Spider Roll and Sushi Rice. I first was introduced to the wonder that is soft-shell crab here, and was quickly addicted. The inside out roll has soft-shell crab, cucumber, red capsicum, lettuce and some sort of tofu/egg/fish…thing (it used to be crabstick, I have no idea what it is now), wrapped tenderly in nori and rice (and I’d kill for Makoto’s sushi rice – perfectly cooked and flavoured), and rolled generously in black roe. A squeeze of mayonnaise and spoonful of salmon roe (also addicted to this stuff) finishes this off – making a dish slightly too big for my mouth, but never turned down, no matter how full my stomach is. In fact, when the discounted special plates came around in the afternoon, we polished another plate off!

Other dishes we love at Makoto:

Soft-Shell Crab Karaage
Ebi-Prawn Sushi (battered prawn served nigiri-style) – absolutely a must if you come in early, when it’s still fresh and crispy
Any of the nigiri (salmon and kingfish are our staples, others include bonito, yellow-fin tuna, octopus, scampi, prawn, calamari…)
Cheese Roll – one of Tim’s favourites, I believe it has smoked salmon in it?
Tamago-yaki sushi – they say that the true test of a sushi chef is in their tamago-yaki – the rolled sweetened egg omelette must be perfectly balanced, not too sweet, and in my opinion, these guys do it well. Also helps if you’re an impoverished uni student (can you say salmon nigiri, inari-zushi & tamago-sushi cheap plates, plus takeaway discount? xD)
Ikura or Lobster Conveyor – A small ball of sushi rice, wrapped in a generous slice of salmon sashimi and topped with either copious amounts of salmon roe, or flavoursome lobster salad.

Makoto is located at the corner of Liverpool St and Pitt St next to World Square. Discounts for takeaway are available, as well as special plate offers if you come at the right times. Plan ahead and leave time to wait, or go early – there’s always a queue of eager patrons.

I’ve been awful at updating regularly this semester, and I won’t have the chance to in the next couple weeks…so I suppose this is one I prepared earlier

There is a strand of cuisine that you won’t find on restaurant plates anywhere in the world. Yes, you can find caviar and foie gras, you can try gels, foams, chocolate ‘earth’ and sniff your food out of a test tube, or dive into a plate of deep-fried grasshoppers and snakeskin soup, but you won’t find this, I promise you.

I speak of course, of the food of students. In particular, uni and college students. People who don’t have the luxury of a full refrigerator or well-stocked pantry, who can’t afford to spend hours slaving over a hot stove, or simply can’t think straight due to a hangover.

(In case you were wondering, I currently fall into the second category, and not the third. =P) 

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I’ve spent most of my high school years defending the goodness of the pumpkin. My friends seem to hate it, calling it all manner of foul names, all of which I’ve staunchly maintained were false and misguided. Maybe they had had bad experiences, but not I – memories of golden tender slices of roast pumpkin, and soothing warming soups swam before me. One of my favourite Japanese restaurants even gave complimentary bowls of pumpkin soup the moment one sat down, causing one of my closest friends to forevermore abandon the place. A tragedy, indeed.

Yet, I could never see anything wrong with this sweet vegetable, especially in its soup form. It’s like a little ray of liquid sunshine on a cold winter’s day, the perfect thing to curl up in a patch of sun with, alongside fluffy slippers and a good book. The addition of a dollop of full cream, crispy garlic croutons, maybe even bacon and chives if we were feeling decadent…pure bliss.

But no longer. I have been traumatised by today’s attempt at cooking, and am no longer certain where my loyalties lie. I admit, to cowardly running scared from the kitchen, leaving my poor dad to clean up what remained of the pumpkin soup.

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