Sydney Food Diary: Long Chim, CBD

img_5824 Incredible Thai flavours: Thai street food as Sydney high-end dining

I’ve been awaiting Long Chim’s opening in Sydney. A branch has been open in Perth for a while. In Bangkok, last year, I dined at Nahm, which was incredible. So, David Thompson’s return to Sydney is newsworthy… and exciting.

The flavours are simply wonderful. As recommended by Terry Durack in his review in the Sydney Morning Herald, we tried a mashed shrimp curry, which was so delicious, it had an addictive quality about it. We also had watercress, and an incredible melt-in-your-mouth lamb dish flavoured with cumin.

For starters (above), the shrimp and coconut in betel leaves was perhaps one of the most subtle and complex versions I’ve tried, and the chive dumplings were probably the best I’ve ever had.

img_5826Good thing, since they were the most expensive chive dumplings I’ve ever had. And that’s the weird tension for me. When a Siamese watercress costs a buck or two in Thailand, and maybe ten or twelve bucks in a cheap Thai restaurant (except it can be hard to find this dish in Thai restaurants in Sydney), how does one judge an $18 version. The best thing would be to banish all Siamese watercress from one’s mind, and judge the dish on its own merit. And it was, indeed, perfect: still crisp (in a good way), bright green, a few beautiful pieces of chili. A second thing to do would be to consider that $18 is rather cheaper than a thousand dollar return flight to Bangkok.

img_5827But it’s hard not to compare prices when the Pad Thai here is $34. Some restaurants I know do a gourmet version of cheap food, so for example a grilled cheese sandwich that has a thin slice of beef tongue and a bechamel sauce along with some really expensive cheese makes it clear that this is no ordinary toasted sandwich. But here, there aren’t bells and whistles in particular. It’s just really, really tasty food, with authentic flavours and high-quality cooking.

Still, I think Sydneysiders will go for it, as folks love Asian food here, and authentic flavours, and enough of them have large disposable incomes. I reckon I’ll return, though banishing the idea of ‘street food’ from my mind, and instead relish the highest quality ingredients and techniques applied to amazing Thai cuisine.

img_5825By the way, from the front, the restaurant looks like it might be of modest size, but in fact, on a trip to the loo, I discovered that the place is huge and extends all the way around the back, with ample seating. We found the design and decor stylish and cool. The service was perfect, and two of us had nice glasses of wine to accompany the food.

Long Chim Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Book Review: Christos Ikonomou’s Something Will Happen, You’ll See

Something Will Happen, You'll SeeSomething Will Happen, You’ll See by Christos Ikonomou
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A friend left this behind on our bookshelves after staying with us. It’s a collection of short stories all about the collapse of families and communities with the Greek economic crisis. The first thing to be said is that the writing is beautiful. It is poetic and rhythmic, with striking images, and with most of the stories told in the first person, has this urgency about it, these incantations against illness and death and small hopes for the future. I earmarked a passage where a narrator is observing a friend: ‘the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes look like prints left by small birds on wet earth, so many tiny wrinkles, like carved likes, like the prints of birds that took fright at something and rose up into the air.’

I mean, wow. He makes an unusual simile, infusing the earthiness of age and wet earth into this character, and then twists the simile to add anxiety and flight.

And yet the stories seem like extended poems, all on the same themes. They are people in trauma, losing their jobs or having lost their jobs, surrounded by urban violence and poverty, in the midst of struggles or injustices. The narrators change from young to old, from male to female, from pensioner to laid-off factory worker, but I found the sameness of tone oppressive. And in fact, I couldn’t make it past two-thirds through. I never used to leave books unfinished. It could be a sign of my shortened attention span, honed in the last years towards short, journalistic articles and addictive TV shows; or a lack of empathy: I found myself turning away rather than towards these narrators’ misery.

A final note: it’s been a while since I’ve held in my hands a book that is such a beautiful object. A tactile, textured cover, high quality paper, an unusual shape and format. It just felt good to hold it.

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Sydney Food Diary: Anason, Barangaroo

  img_5830 Stunning modern Turkish food

I *almost* made it to Istanbul a while back where I hear there’s a food and restaurant revolution. So, having the opportunity to try modern Turkish food in Sydney was pretty exciting.

I would say, in fact, that any expectations were surpassed.

img_5828The pumpkin hummus was incredible, a bit of citrus tang.

The taramasalata was equally delicious. Love this dish.

img_5832I quite liked the salad, with werrigal greens, and beans and almonds and pomegranite. It seemed like a perfect, fresh and unusual combination. My hubby thought it needed more dressing.

The prawns were delicious: crisp and tasty, over a yummy mixture of almonds and saffron butter.

img_5835I also had a cocktail with raki (which tasted like ouzo) mixed with fino and red vermouth. Very nice. And I also was pretty excited that they offered a whole selection of Turkish wine. I opted for a dry white, which was almost savoury is was so dry. Interesting.

img_5833The eggplant bomb was pretty incredible. Melt in your mouth, and with the charred flavour from the skin being not just roasted but burnt.

img_5834And it’s a lovely location, with excellent service.

The only truly weird thing is that I felt, after the hummus and taramasalata (accompanied by delicious breads), like I’d burned a hole on the top of my tongue, as if I’d let a hot chili rest there too long. But there wasn’t anything spicy in these dishes. I complained to my better half about this… and he had the same thing only worse. His tongue was actually swelling up. What mysterious ingredient could this have been that we were allergic too. It was a bit unpleasant.

img_5829We headed off to the Sydney Dance Theatre afterwards (and our tongues settled back to normal on the way). A number of other reviews here seem to complain about the portion sizes, but we weren’t after a huge meal. I thought this place was pretty amazing. Two amazing restaurants next door to each other, Muum Maam and Anason: that’s a lot of good cooking in one place.

Anason Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Book Review: Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs To You

What Belongs to YouWhat Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There was a phase in gay fiction where authors (or their fictional stand-ins) seemed to be lauded for writing about their encounters with poor, rough sex workers. The books were always ‘brave’ and ‘edgy’ yet never seemed to really explore questions of power and who gets to speak. Sure, the narrators felt confused and sometimes guilty, but we never really got to hear the other side. One voice that promised authenticity turned out to be the literary scandal JT LeRoy.

So, I was a little worried about delving into this much-lauded novel, about an American teacher in Sofia and his encounters with the hustler Mitko. The good news is that my fears were unfounded. I didn’t find this to be the clichéd hustler story. The setting, Sofia, is foreign to me, so I found that interesting. The relationship is singular, rather than a narrator going through various hustlers. The narrator felt honest in his description of a complex relationship.

Originally, the story was a novella, or short story, and so was expanded. I think the second part brings needed depth and richness to the first. And yet, I didn’t click with all the praise and hype. I like Greenwell’s writing style enough, and was engaged by the story, but not a lot happened. I wanted either a deeper and fuller history, or else for the prose to excite me as much as it seemed to for other reviewers. I felt at the end somewhat unsatisfied.

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Sydney Food Diary: Little Evie, Redfern

img_5811 Little Evie takes over from Cafe Zoe in Redfern

I think this location benefits from a lovely corner location with outdoors seating, large light-filled windows, and not too much competition nearby. Cafe Zoe had been around for years, and I’d eaten there a number of times. I was surprised to see a new name on the window.

But it still has the same vibe. People stopping by for a chat. Lots of dogs. Our coffees were tasty, and my breakfast, scrambled eggs on toast with a sausage on the side, was delicious. A nice-sized portion, and well-presented. I liked the fresh herbs and little salady bits, and the sausage was so tasty, it made me realise that the breakfast at Tigerbakers a few weeks ago was not as good as I thought it was at the time. Also: it’s a little cheaper here than in some places in Surry Hills.


Little Evie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Yellow, Potts Point

img_5792 Yellow is destination dining, offering a stunning vegetarian degustation.

Instead of thinking of vegetarian and vegan food as lacking in meat, why not think of it as a particular culture or style of eating? For a visit to Yellow could be like making a choice to eat at a particularly fine French bistro, or an unusual ethnic restaurant, except the specialty here is high-end vegetarian cuisine.

Many moons ago, anytime a special meal was required for a non-meat eater, I recommended (or took them to) the Bentley Bar on Crown Street. Brent Savage served up amazing food, meat and non-meat, but there was a special flair for the vegetarians compared to most restaurants. So, I love the idea that Yellow has gone completely vego. I eat probably too much meat myself. I think it’s best in moderation, both for general health and for the environment.

The dishes at Yellow should convince anyone but the most stubborn. The dishes were presented beautifully, with really interesting combinations of textures and flavours. Saturday night is when they roll out the full degustation (7 courses instead of 5) but it was pretty booked out, so Steve-O and I went on a Friday night.

img_5781We also splashed out for the matching wines, which were delicious and interesting… for example,  Fond Cyprès Premier Jus 2015, a young French red, but full of flavour, or this interesting shiraz from Stockwell in Adelaide Hills.

The menu was this:

Gem Squash + Pepitas + Juniper


Kohlrabi + Enoki Mushroom + Vegetable Broth

img_5783   Celtuce + Buttermilk

img_5787Sprouting Broccoli + Amaranth + Radicchio

img_5789Pumpkin Ice Cream + Licorice + Kumquat


Looking at the photos reminds me of how stunning the food was. Superb. And reasonably priced too, for what you got. I’m coming back from the 7 courses!

Yellow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Zushi, Surry Hills

   img_5775 Zushi is really dependable, tasty Japanese food with a modern twist. A reliable choice.

So many restaurants change in Surry Hills, I think it’s a sign of quality when a place manages to last for a while, and Zushi has been around quite a while, so long that I don’t necessarily think of it as a go-to location.

img_5770But it really is good food. When we went for lunch, the service was charming and efficient. The eggplant dish was the highlight… so tasty. But I also liked the seaweed (wakame) salad and kale, a good combo, and the pumpkin tempura roll was really good too.

img_5771It’s funny that in the last week and half, I’ve eaten at five different Japanese restaurants. I suggested Zushi to my pal, but the other places were all suggested by others, and I like Japanese food enough to not get tired of it easily, particularly when there are so many dishes to like: curry, sushi, noodles, eggplant…

img_5776Zushi also looks like it does some nice takeaway lunches, if you’re in a rush. I should check out the quality of the sushi and sashimi here, just to find out how good it is… Ah, and the space is lovely, cute little upstairs area, even a nice outdoors area for evening dining. They’ve somehow managed to make a busy part of Crown Street intimate and cosy.


Zushi Surry Hills Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Sabu, Parramatta

img_5810Sabu was a nice surprise: really fresh sushi and sashimi, great flavours and an unusual sake.

We’d come to Parramatta to catch a show at the Riverside. With so many restaurants on the strip around Church Street, I expected we’d be spoiled for choice. But most of the Zomato ratings were around the 3 mark, with a number below that, and the few that were higher were usually dessert places. What to do?

img_5807Sabu, a Japanese restaurant, we hoped would be a safe bet, even though I don’t know how I’ve ended up eating so much Japanese food this month. But it was better than a safe bet. It was very tasty (and in comparison made the sushi at Sushi Tei seem even worse than I’d initially thought)

img_5809The kingfish carpaccio was delicious. Our combo platter of sushi and sashimi, a tempura chicken roll, and some odd deep-fried rice squares with raw fish on top… was perfect for the two of us. The sake I chose – Jozen Mizunogotoshi Junmai – was a bit odd, somewhat sweeter than I expected (though, considering the tasting notes say    ‘full of fresh cream yogurt and ripe raspberries and slight menthol note’, unusual is not a surprise).

img_5808All in all, very nice. $100 for the both of us, sake included, a tip as well.

Sabu Restaurant and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Lyme Disease Awareness Dinner at nel.

img_2943 A very special meal indeed at nel., a fundraiser for the Lyme Disease Association of Australian, and in honour of one of nel.’s chefs, Kirk Haworth, who has Lyme Disease.

I was lucky to get into this sold-out dinner; I think it was Nel on the phone himself who let me replace a cancellation. With nine chefs and nine dishes, all using lime as one of the elements of the dish, a charity auction and awareness raising, this was quite a night. I’d been to nel. for lunch before (and plan to go back to dinner) but this was special, and nice to share it with my fellow foodie and friend, Lai Heng.

new-doc-14_1At multi-course dinners, I usually try to take only a few photos these days, so there is just a selection here. But all of the courses were delicious, full of flavour and inventive. How did Kirk shave the squid so finally, it looked like thin rice noodles? Was that lime oil in the test tube of lime mojito, swallowed after a delicate salmon samosa (by Nelly)? The snapper ceviche in a lime (pictured) was delicious but on top of a sort of pork and bread mixture in a jar was even better.

img_2944The peas were so delicate, obviously freshly shelled. I looked up gurnard on my phone, that is a strange looking fish. Firm flesh, very tasty, wrapped in caul, which I told folks at the table to look up AFTER we’d eaten.

img_2945I think my favourite was a very modern take on San Choy Boy, a really perfectly crisp and tender cumin lamb, with a sort of whipped cashew dip, a homemade hoisin sauce, all the be wrapped up in individual lettuce leaves.

img_2946The desserts were light and delicate, a bit of cream, a bit of crunch, though I particularly liked the coconut shard (that would be the big triangles here).


Oh, and there were matching wines and champagne as well! I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you to read more about Lyme disease in Australia at their website. There’s not only a lack of awareness and research funding, but there’s a big part of the medical establishment that doesn’t recognise Lyme disease in Australia; they only recognise the American ticks and believe it’s only here when people contract it in the USA and bring it back. We heard from two folks who have Lyme disease, and it sounds terrible indeed. Long and difficult treatment and can be very hard to function day to day. So, well done to nel. and the chefs who volunteered for the night, and the many generous folks their who donated prizes and bought auction items.

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Sydney Food Diary: Harajuka Gyoza, Potts Point

img_5794 If I don’t have any photos of the food at Harajuku Gyoza, it’s because it seems almost besides the point.

I mean, it was tasty. I liked the duck gyoza. The eggplant was delicious. Crisp little pieces of chicken karaage. Some pieces of glistening pork belly.

img_5798But more importantly, sake served by waitresses who loudly cheered as they brought them to the table. Japanese beer. Those crazy Japanese toilet seats/bidets. Cool plastic plates on the wall. Even the cheering birthday party, doing sake and singing and shouting at full voice for at least ten minutes didn’t dampen our cheer.

img_5793This place is shiny.



And fun.

Harajuku Gyoza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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