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Monday, August 21, 2017

Adam Wolfers' Jewish pop-up at Bar Brose, Darlinghurst

Langos deep fried flatbread and smoked sour cream at the Hungarian Jewish pop-up by Adam Wolfers at Bar Brose in Darlinghurst

Soft. Fluffy. Deep-fried bread. If you haven't tried langos, you need to. This Hungarian classic is commonly found at festivals, served up with sour cream. Adam Wolfers' (ex-head chef of Yellow and Monopole) version uses a sourdough starter for the bread, a bubbled mass of pillowy deep-fried deliciousness that you tear up and dip into smoked sour cream strewn with a paprika-heavy dukkah.

It's one of the highlights at Wolfers' Jewish and Eastern European pop-up, now in its final week at Bar Brose. The bread lies somewhere between Chinese you tiao and Thai pah tong go, crisp on the edges but soft in the middle. And there's a generous puddle of sour cream, forced through a nitrogen canister so it's cloud-like in consistency, its smokiness amplified by paprika against a rubble of crushed nuts and sesame seeds.

Matzo ball soup at the Hungarian Jewish pop-up by Adam Wolfers at Bar Brose in Darlinghurst
Matzo ball soup $14

For the past seven weeks, Wolfers has been channeling the recipes of his Jewish Hungarian grandmother. The Etelek menu, meaning food in Hungarian, runs from small snacks to mains, all designed to share.

That includes the matzo ball soup, a Jewish grandma's love ladled in a bowl. The matzo ball, a giant dumpling made from crushed matzo crackers, acts like a sponge, soaking up all the flavours in the clear chicken soup. It's much softer and less rubbery than the ones I remember eating in New York, falling apart with a sigh with each bite.

Celeriac, radish and smoked herring at the Hungarian Jewish pop-up by Adam Wolfers at Bar Brose in Darlinghurst
Celeriac, radish and smoked herring $22

You'll have to dig your way through a tangle of noode-like radish and celeriac to find the plank of smoked herring. There's a sophisticated level of textural contrast here, from the bed of whipped smoked herring sauce to the toothsome firmness of the smoked fish to the acidic pop of finger lime pearls.

Flavours of goulash beef tartare at the Hungarian Jewish pop-up by Adam Wolfers at Bar Brose in Darlinghurst
Flavours of goulash $23
Raw beef, paprika curd and matzo

One of the newest additions to the menu is flavours of goulash, a Hungarian riff on steak tartare. Making the connection between the rich heartiness of goulash stew and the light freshness of raw beef requires a leap of faith, but if its paprika, beef and sour cream you're looking for, they're right here.

The raw beef is terrific, hand-chopped and tumbled with raw cucumber and seasonings. The matzo cracker on top is light and crisp.

Parsnip schnitzel at the Hungarian Jewish pop-up by Adam Wolfers at Bar Brose in Darlinghurst
Parsnip schnitzel, yoghurt, herb salad and gherkin $28

For a total mind warp, you'll definitely want to order the parsnip schnitzel. The sourdough-crumbed fried schnitzels are a heartwarming sight on appearance alone. Add a squeeze of charred lemon and a dollop of gherkin yoghurt though, and you could almost swear you're eating fish fingers. Seriously.

Bone marrow, mushrooms and challah at the Hungarian Jewish pop-up by Adam Wolfers at Bar Brose in Darlinghurst
Meat and zaft $32
Mushrooms, bone marrow and challah 

You'll want to save room for the meat and zaft too. Sure it's hard to resist the beckoning call of roasted bone marrow but it's the challah that will make you swoon. The golden glazed house-baked bread has a softness reminiscent of a brioche, even without the use of dairy as per kosher regulations.

I could happily tear strips of the brioche and savour it slowly, except Wolfers has a better idea. Slather it with fatty bone marrow and a scoop of savoury mushrooms, just like he used to do as a kid.

Pastrami, cabbage and whipped caraway at the Hungarian Jewish pop-up by Adam Wolfers at Bar Brose in Darlinghurst
Pastrami, cabbage and whipped caraway $34

We finish with the pastrami, a slab of beef brisket brined and then, in an unusual twist, grilled over charcoal. It results in a noticeably smoky finish, tempered by a mound of lightly pickled cabbage.

Orange poppyseed kugelhopft and whipped buttermilk at the Hungarian Jewish pop-up by Adam Wolfers at Bar Brose in Darlinghurst
Orange poppyseed kugelhopf and whipped buttermilk $15

We order both desserts on the menu. The orange poppyseed seed kugelhopf is just the kind of cake you'd want for afternoon tea. There's a subtle zing of orange zest to the yeasted bundt cake, made even tastier with a dollop of whipped buttermilk that feels like a lighter version of creme fraiche.

Rosella ice cream, cheesecake mousse and brown butter at the Hungarian Jewish pop-up by Adam Wolfers at Bar Brose in Darlinghurst
Rosella ice cream, cheesecake mousse and brown butter $15

The rosella ice cream wins on the beauty pageant stakes though, backed up with enough substance of character to potentially bring world peace. The quenelle of ice cream teeters between tartness and sweet. Add a sash of cheesecake mousse and a confetti trail of brown butter crumbs and you know you're on a winner.

Get over to Bar Brose as Wolfers' Etelek pop-up enters its final week. Wolfers' last night of service at Bar Brose will be on Sunday 27 August.

Entrance to Bar Brose in Darlinghurst



Bar Brose
231A Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney
Tel: +61 (0)450 307 117

Opening hours
Wednesday to Thursday 6pm-11pm
Friday to Saturday 6pm-12am
Sunday 6pm-11pm


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/21/2017 12:35:00 am


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Xi'an Biang Biang, Haymarket

Pulled pork stuffed burger and cold noodles with garlic sauce at Xi'an Biang Biang on Dixon Street in Chinatown Sydney

Xi'an Biang Biang might be all over your Instagram feed right now but there's a good reason. It's crazy delicious and Sydneysiders can't get enough of it.

It's all about biang biang noodles, a prized specialty of the Shaanxi province, the capital of which is Xi'an. Think chewy handmade noodles doused in garlic, salt, vinegar and chilli. And then there's roujiamo, the Chinese take on the hamburger that stuffs a pile of tender pork into panfried flat bread.

Cold noodles with garlic sauce at Xi'an Biang Biang on Dixon Street in Chinatown Sydney
Cold noodle with garlic sauce $10

The cold noodle with garlic sauce is your must-order dish. The noodles are liang pi, made by steaming thin layers of a starchy paste and then slicing into ribbons. These are terrifically chewy, smothered in enough garlic and chilli to keep vampires away for a week. A tangle of fresh bean sprouts add a refreshing crunch. If there's any dish that'll waken your taste buds, it's this one.

Pulled pork stuffed burger at Xi'an Biang Biang on Dixon Street in Chinatown Sydney
Pulled pork stuffed burger $8

The other crowd favourite is the pulled pork stuffed burger aka roujiamo, a popular street food that also originated in Shaanxi. The fillings inside this handheld flatbread vary across the country, with beef and lamb more often found in Muslim areas.

Here it's all about the pork, soft and fatty chunks crammed into a flaky flatbread. Look around the dining room and you'll spot locals double-parked with chopsticks in one hand and a pork burger in the other. That's one slurp of noodles followed by a bite of porky goodness. Repeat.

And bargain hunters should note, if you want the pulled pork burger and the cold noodles, get the biang biang set for $17.80. You'll save 20c and score a free soft drink. Ka-ching!

Noodles with minced pork and vinegar at Xi'an Biang Biang on Dixon Street in Chinatown Sydney
Biang Biang noodle with minced pork and vinegar (dry) $12.50

Noodles? There's plenty to choose from, although the English descriptions aren't particularly descriptive. Biang biang noodle with minced pork and vinegar (number 18) will net you a bowl of fettuccine-like noodles along with fatty pork (more shredded than mince), green vegetables and a medley of diced potatoes and carrots.

Chewy wheat noodles at Xi'an Biang Biang on Dixon Street in Chinatown Sydney
Biang biang noodles

Get your chopsticks in and mix everything up. Our dish is quite mild in flavour without any noticeable tang of vinegar but it's a great counterbalance if you end up ordering spicier dishes like number 13.

Noodles with stewed pork at Xi'an Biang Biang on Dixon Street in Chinatown Sydney
Biang Biang noodle with stewed pork $13

The biang biang noodle with stewed pork (number 13) is definitely worth ordering. Saucy pork mince, stewed pork, diced potato and carrot and a good whack of chilli powder need to be teased through oversized squares of hand-pulled noodles.

Wide noodles with stewed pork at Xi'an Biang Biang on Dixon Street in Chinatown Sydney
Wide noodles with stewed pork

The noodles are the real star of the show, with a silky slipperiness reminiscent of fresh ravioli sheets. There's so much going on here - texture, taste, smell and colour - that your heart will drop when you hit the bottom of the bowl.

But wait. There's more. Pao mo is another Shaanxi specialty, combining cubed steamed bread served in soup with beef, lamb or chitterlings (intestines). Snacks include steamed pork ribs with sticky rice, stewed pork liver and the intrigue of steamed fried chicken.

Expect a heaving crowd all day and night although diners tend to eat and run. Don't expect to find seats for more than two people at a time - the entire venue only seats about 30. It's cash only at the till and you'll have to pick up your food when your buzzer flashes. The self-serve cutlery section by the fridge includes small bowls for sharing as well as cups and free water.

Xi'an Biang Biang on Dixon Street in Chinatown Sydney


Xi'an Biang Biang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Xi'an Biang Biang
Shop 41, 1 Dixon Street, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney

Opening hours:
Daily 10am-11pm

Cash only


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/13/2017 05:03:00 pm


Monday, August 07, 2017

Paper Bird, Potts Point

Shrimp brined fried chicken with pickled daikon at Paper Bird in Potts Point

They're back. And the shrimp-brined fried chicken is on the menu. If you lamented the day that Moon Park closed, you need to scoot yourself to Potts Point where version 2.0, Paper Bird, has opened on the old Bourke Street Bakery site.

Where Moon Park was all about modern Korean, chefs Ben Sears and Eun Hee An have spread their (paper) wings and expanded the menu to include influences from China, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. We're talking everything from congee to kimchi toasties to char siu bacon and Hong Kong French toast.

Scrambled eggs and char siu bacon on sourdough at Paper Bird in Potts Point
Scrambled eggs and char siu bacon on sourdough $18

Weekdays follow separate breakfast and lunch menus but rock up on a weekend and revel in an all day brunch menu. Sure you could stick with a classic cafe breakfast of avocado on rye toast, toasted muesli with coyo or Bourke Street Bakery toasted bread or croissant with condiments but we venture straight for the scrambled eggs with char siu bacon. Say what?

Scrambled eggs with char siu bacon at Paper Bird in Potts Point
Velvety crambled eggs

Combining the sweetness of char siu marinade with streaky bacon feels both comforting and confusing. There's definitely no denial about the velvety perfection of the scrambled eggs though, a fluffy and soft eiderdown of buttery sunshine.

Kings' congee rice and milk porridge at Paper Bird in Potts Point
Kings' congee rice and milk porridge with crab, corn and donut chips $22

Kings' congee is a recipe that harks from Korean royalty, substituting the usual water with the luxury of milk. It tastes like a savoury creamy rice pudding, bewildering at first but increasingly addictive with each spoonful.

Rice and milk congee with fried bread at Paper Bird in Potts Point
Rice and milk congee with fried bread

Corn kernels and flakes of crab add pops of sweetness and there's a welcome crunch from the sesame seeds and fried bread sticks (donut chips). I'm banking on this dish being very divisive - you'll either love it or hate it.

Japanese cheesecake with preserved cumquats at Paper Bird in Potts Point
Japanese cheesecake with preserved cumquat $11

The Japanese cheesecake is definitely worth getting too. Eleven dollars might sound steep but this quivering slice combines a milky richness with ethereal lightness. It reminds me of the LeTAO cheesecake in Japan. Candied cumquats add a sophisticated citrusy sweetness.

We'd tried to order the fried chicken only to be told they were completely sold out by 12.30pm. My reaction? It's a Ralph Wiggum heartbreak moment. There was only one thing to do. I returned the next day. Sunday. At 10am.

Kimchi, jamon and Emmental toastie at Paper Bird in Potts Point
Kimchi, jamon and Emmental toastie $14

We kick off with the kimchi, jamon and Emmental toastie, another dish that had sold out the day before (along with the everything bagel with cream cheese and smoked trout).

Kimchi and cheese is everything. Sure I've been adding it to my ramen but why haven't I been pressing it between grilled bread too? Add the saltiness of jamon and you've got the perfect midnight snack. Or breakfast. I see this combo scoring a high rotation in my kitchen from now on.

Chilli and mushroom with fried egg on potato bread at Paper Bird in Potts Point
Chilli and mushroom with fried egg on potato bread $16

Vegetarians can revel in the spice bomb that is mushroom with fried egg on potato bread. King brown mushrooms have a chewy heartiness, strewn across a thick slab of potato bread. The chilli takes a while to kick in, but when it does, there's a satisfying gentle burn. Pierce the egg and let the runny yolk ooze over everything.

Shrimp brined fried chicken at Paper Bird in Potts Point
Shrimp brined fried chicken with soy and syrup $25 for 5 pieces

And finally. The shrimp brined fried chicken. It's as good as I remembered, a rubbly crunch of golden batter drizzled with a soy syrup that adds just enough sweetness without it feeling cloying.

The marinade of fermented shrimp paste is less noticeable than my last encounter. The chicken is juicy without feeling over-brined. Cubes of pickled daikon will reset your arteries in a flash.

Hong Kong french toast at Paper Bird in Potts Point
Hong Kong French toast $14

We finish with Hong Kong French toast, a much prettier version than what you'll find in most cha chaan teng, Hong Kong cafes where this dish is commonly served.

Peanut butter inside Hong Kong french toast at Paper Bird in Potts Point
Peanut butter inside the Hong Kong French toast

Paper Bird's version is less eggy than the traditional Hong Kong French toast rendition, replacing the melting pat of butter on top with fresh blueberries and a good snowstorm of cinnamon. You do score butter and maple syrup on the side although a little more of both is probably needed. There's a generous layer of peanut butter in the middle but I wish there was condensed milk too, and that the bread was a little eggier.

You won't find yuanyang Hong Kong coffee tea but you can bask in Single Origin coffee and everybody's favourite breakfast beverage, the Bloody Mary. The Bloody Mary packs a decent chilli hit, garnished with a pickled cucumber instead of a celery stick.

Breakfast at Paper Bird in Potts Point
Breakfast at Paper Bird

I'm guessing that new signage is in the works, but in the interim, don't be confused by the Bourke Street Bakery sign above the door.

Paper Bird commences dinner trade this Wednesday 9 August. Reservations are available for dinner. At all other times Paper Bird operates on a walk-in basis only.

Paper Bird by Moon Park in Potts Point


Paper Bird Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Paper Bird
46A Macleay Street, Potts Point, Sydney
(entrance on Crick Avenue)

Opening hours
Monday to Friday 7am - late
Saturday 8am - late
Sunday 8am - 3pm

Reservations only available for dinner Monday to Saturday from 5pm.


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/07/2017 02:28:00 am


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Sausage Factory, Dulwich Hill

Chicken, pork, beef, camel and lamb sausages from the Sausage Factory by Chrissy's Cuts in Dulwich Hill

The first thing you'll notice about the Sausage Factory are the knitted sausages in the front window. They've all been handmade by Chrissy Flanagan, who adds pickle pro and Sausage Queen to a comprehensive list of long-forgotten skills. Chrissy is the force behind Chrissy's Cuts, a well-loved snag supplier at local markets, pop-up events (you may have eaten her sausage dogs at this year's Sydney Festival at The Beach in the Cutaway at Barangaroo Reserve) and restaurants (her camel sausage is on the menu at Anason).

Earl grey tea and pear blonde ale at the Sausage Factory by Chrissy's Cuts in Dulwich Hill
Merchant Brewing Co earl grey tea and pear blonde ale $14

The Sausage Factory is a natural progression of their expansion, enabling customers to dine on sausages cooked in the same kitchen in which they were made. The space is small and cosy, a 30-seater restaurant filled every night with locals. Meat hooks from its former life as a Greek butchery have been deliberately maintained, but there's also a long open shelf stacked with pickles, jams and gourmet salts.

All tables are walk-in only although there is a large birthday table that can be reserved for six to ten people. They've also recently had their alcohol licence granted which means an interesting list of beers (earl grey tea and pear blonde ale with a sloth on the label!) and gin and tonics with native rosemary.

Dinner for two at the Sausage Factory by Chrissy's Cuts in Dulwich Hill
Dinner for two $55
Five sausages with pickles, bread and choice of salad

The menu is short and sweet. Choose from eight different meat sausages and three salads. Vegetarians can order the scamorza cheese, zucchini, almond and currant "sausage". Sausages are also coeliac-friendly.

Order by the sausage for $8 each (served with pickles and condiments) or get the dinner for two for $55 that includes your choice of five sausages, pickles, bread and your choice of salad. If that's still too much, you can get a sausage in a bread roll with tomato sauce for $11.

Housemade chicken, pork, beef, camel and lamb sausages from the Sausage Factory by Chrissy's Cuts in Dulwich Hill
[L-R]: Chicken thigh with preserved lemon, honey and oregano;
Pork shoulder with bacon and maple syrup;
Beef chuck with brown sauce and worcestershire;
Camel pastourma;
Lamb shoulder with sumac and mint

We opt for the dinner for two. Our sausage selection covers one of each beast. Somehow we end up with two extra from the kitchen because a couple have burst their skins. Eight bucks a snag might sound a little steep until you realise each sausage is made using free range meat with no gluten or preservatives. They're a far cry from the usual sausage sizzle suspects.

These sausages have a noticeable meatiness without any of the greasiness you get from cheaper offerings. Of the four types we try, it's no surprise that my favourite is the pork shoulder with bacon and maple syrup. There's only a hint of sweetness but it works brilliantly. The camel pastourma is also a winner, a juicy number that's fragrant with Middle Eastern spices.

Housemade pickles and beer mustard at the Sausage Factory by Chrissy's Cuts in Dulwich Hill
Apples in Poor Tom's gin, pickled carrots and radish, lemon garlic yoghurt and housemade beer mustard

All sausages are served with housemade pickles, thin discs of carrots and radish and slivers of apples macerated in Poor Tom's gin. And you can alternate between little pots of lemon garlic yoghurt and housemade beer mustard to add flourish to your sausage.

Radicchio, cauliflower, hazelnut and prune salad from the Sausage Factory by Chrissy's Cuts in Dulwich Hill
Radicchio, cauliflower, hazelnut and prune salad 

Don't go looking for mashed potatoes. There's a deliberate move away from this combo - although I can think of nothing finer than terrific sausages with Paris mash and gravy. Instead it's all about the veggies. We relished bitter crisp leaves of radicchio against finely shaved slices of raw cauliflower, cooked prunes and toasted hazelnuts.

The salad was included in our dinner for two but if you order this separately it'll cost you $14. Other salads include a pear beetroot labne combo plus a brussels sprout salad with popcorn shoots. Yep, that's the result of specific popcorn kernels germinated and planted so they sprout shoots.

And the biggest surprise of all we discovered during our dinner? Chrissy and her husband Jim are both still holding down day jobs, racing to the restaurant for weeknight and weekend trade. Props.



SMH Good Food Guide

Sydney's Top 20 Cheat Eats for 2017


SMH-GFG-Top-20-Cheap-Eats-w500

And just in case you missed it, my list for Sydney's Top 20 Cheap Eats for 2017 came out as a cover story for Good Food. This is my third year in a row compiling this list for the Good Food Guide. It's never an easy list to compile, only because we're spoilt for choice in Sydney when it comes to incredible food options.

My mission this year was to finally throw a spotlight on all the suburban cheap eats that rarely get a mention in mainstream media lists. I couldn't fit in everyone but I hope I've provided a balanced cross-section of cuisines across the geographical megalopolis that is Sydney. Read the full list.

The Sausage Factory bistro bar and cellar door by Chrissy's Cuts in Dulwich Hill


The Sausage Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Sausage Factory
380 New Canterbury Road, Dulwich Hill, Sydney

Opening hours
Wednesday to Friday 5pm-10pm
Saturday 4pm-10pm
Sunday 4pm-9pm

Walk-ins only.
Reservations available for the birthday table for 6-10 people only. Email chrissy@chrissyscuts.com.au


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/01/2017 01:19:00 am



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