Top Nibbles Out
Potts Point is home to numerous good quality eateries, which are no secret to the locals. Yet this Sydney suburb is often overlooked when considered by those in surrounding suburbs. Maybe this is due to the fact that you need to pass along the seedy stretch of Darlinghurst Rd through ‘the Cross’ before rounding the corner, onto Macleay St, to an area that is the polar opposite.
Fratelli Paradiso is one of the trendy restaurants nestled on the corner of Challis Ave and Macleay St. Now in its 5th year, Fratelli; meaning brother in Italian, has no relationship to the’ Fratelli Fresh’ located just up the road. It is sparsely decorated, maybe because there is little light on offer to illuminate the inside, therefore I would encourage trying to get a table outside if it is not to busy so that you can see what you are eating.
The only menu here, apart from the chalkboard inside listing today’s array of meals, is a wine menu that offers a plethora of wines by the bottle and only a handful by the glass. If you’re a red wine drinker then be prepared to get a little tipsy by having a bottle; or settle for their only red wine by the glass. An imported Sardinian birra is also available for those that love their hops.
Unless you are comfortable with going over to the chalkboard and reading above the head of grazing diners (whilst in Italian, it is easily decipherable) then the waiter has memorised it all for you and will narrate it to you with the upmost precision. Some may find that not having a written menu with the amount of choices on offer will leave them confused; however the distinct advantage is that one of the dishes will really jump out and you won’t be continually second guessing your decision as it will be the only one you can remember.
We decided on scampi with spaghetti in a chilli and tomato sauce; and a veal and beef mince tagliatelle. The scampi, as well as having some mixed in with the spaghetti, was grilled and served in its shell that when eaten fell apart in the mouth. The chilli sauce was very mild but complimented the tang that the tomato gave off. The tagliatelle came ‘al dente’ and despite the menu being Pasta heavy, certainly not one for those that are curbing their carbs, the Pasta itself was light leaving enough room for a desert. Whilst we decided against desert on this occasion the table next to us ordered the chocolate tiramisu, which in hindsight, would have topped off an enjoyable meal.
The first Din Tai Fung opened back in 1974 as a small stall in Taipei and has since grown into an international phenomenon with 47 restaurants in 10 different countries. While I may not have travelled the world enough to call it the “worlds tastiest dumpling” like chef Ken Hom did, I would certainly agree that it’s by far the tastiest dumpling joint in Sydney, even better than the popular Shanghai Tang or Marigold.
Din Tai Fung’s unique point of difference is the scientific precision applied to all the dishes made. Every dumpling pastry is delicately hand made to measure between precisely 4.8 and 5.2 grams at conception, with an exact 6cm diameter, before being stuffed and folded 18 times to weigh between 20.6 and 21.4 grams. The result – perfection every time!
Food overall is just gorgeous.The fruit juices are freshly squeezed and delicious. The zesty and silky hot & sour soup makes a perfect starter. The steamed crab meat & crab roe dumpling is delicate, juicy and flavourful. The shrimp & pork jiao zi and pork bun are to die for. My only disappointment was when I ordered the Shanghai syle drunken chicken, which I found too poached, plain and cold for my liking…although I am not sure what else I was expecting as that’s apparently was it is!
Din Tai Fung don’t take bookings, so best try and avoid peak hours if you can. I usually like to go around 11.30am on Saturday or Sunday and never wait longer than 10 minutes. The service is impeccable and fast, so once seated the food will be on the table within 5 minutes! The ambiance isn’t on the romantic side, but definitely much more pleasant than most Yum Cha places.
Overall, I would probably give it a 9/10 Nibbles!
World Square Shopping Centre
Level 1, Shop 11.04, 644 George St
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9264 6010
China Doll is one of my favourite and also one of the most elegant restaurants in Sydney. It’s located in a fantastic spot on the Wolloomooloo finger wharf. However the stunning harbour views shouldn’t detract from the exquisite experience about to unfold right in front of you! The up and coming chef, Frank Shek, is from a multicultural background and shows great flair when combining delightful Asian flavours in a magical new way. It’s good to know that all produce used in the kitchen are also carefully picked, organic and sustainable.
I would recommend kicking off with a few starters to share – including the steamed Prawn & Green Soy Bean dumplings, the Sashimi of Hiramasa Kingfish & Ocean Trout and the Chilli Salt Squid. The dumplings are juicy and delicious, the kingfish fresh & fragrant, and the chili Squid crispy and spicy, which make it the absolute best combination! For mains, the signature dish is the melt in your mouth Crispy Pork Belly, but the Curry of Slow Braised Wagyu Beef Shin was probably our number one favourite! If you prefer seafood, the Steamed Mulloway Fillet was pretty popular too. I would also strongly suggest you save a bit of room for the desserts. If only just for one – then it would have to be the the condensed milk tart with it’s gorgeous strands of fairy floss. If you can squeeze another one in, then the Sago with coconut milk and passionfruit was also a delight. If it’s only two of you, you may want to opt for one of the two banquet options on offer. This way you still get a chance to sample a good selection of those wonderful dishes.
While on the expensive side, the portion sizes are generous and the service friendly and attentive, making the overall experience worth every penny. All together a really memorable experience and a great spot for a special night out! If you feel like going somewhere else for a few more drinks, you could try the nearby Tilbury or even cocktails at Water Bar @ Blue to end the night in style!
Overall, I would probably give it a 8.5/10 Nibbles!
Shop 4, 6 Cowper Wharf Road
NSW Australia 2011
Sate Bali is a popular traditional Balinese Warung in Seminyak, offering not only great food throughout the day but also an awesome authentic cooking class in the morning. The class takes place in the open air dining room of the restaurant with chef, Nyoman Sudiyasa, from 9am to 12pm. It may be a group demonstration as opposed to a “hands on” cooking class, but it’s quite informal so all participants are welcome to help with some of the small jobs. It’s also very practical and actionable, with clear instructions and suggestions of substitutes for local ingredients expected to be harder to find back home.
An impressive ten recipes were showcased that morning, most of which were savoury dishes featuring an exciting combination of fish, chicken, pork, salads and condiments. The first recipe of the day was an authentic Balinese Spice Paste (Base Gede), a blend of spices, herbs and roots, commonly used in Balinese cuisine. Base Gede was then used in the three delicious dishes that followed: Steam Marinated Mahi Mahi, Minced Chicken in banana leaf, and Nasi Goreng. Next we made my personal favourite, the Pork in Sweet Soya Sauce, a delicious mix of pork cuts slowly cooked away in sweet soya sauce, garlic, chillies, ginger and stock for 90 minutes. Then we started preparing the sides and sauces, including Assorted Vegetables in Peanut Sauce, Green Salad of winged beans and paco ferns; Tomato Sambal, and Shallot and Lemon Grass Sambal. Both sambals can be used as condiment, sauce or dressing. The class was finally completed with a sweet treat – Coconut Pandan Pancakes, bringing a nice local tweak to an international classic!
The cost is US$40 per person, which is great value as all dishes are also sampled at the end of the session! You also get a recipe handout and drinks. Make sure you book your class a few days in advance as it’s a popular restaurant and the only cooking school in the Seminyak area!
Jl Laskmana 22A (opposite Samaya resort)
+62 361 736734
Sushi Yachiyo is a relatively new, traditional and family owned Japanese restaurant, located at the top of William street. It’s small, simple and low key – you can bring your own bottle of wine and watch chef Mitsuhiro Yashio slicing up the sashimi from behind the kitchen bar. However, the food served is far from basic. The ingredients are the absolute freshest you can find in Sydney, with the fish being sourced straight from the fish market every morning. The daily specials are full of the chef’s flair and creativity, with a perfect mix of traditional Japanese techniques with a modern twist.
In the starter section, the wagyu options are always a good choice – especially the cheek tempura or the beef tatki with ponzu jelly. The gyoza are served on a hot sizzling plate and taste pretty special too.
For the main, the wagyu katsu with brie is a must try, with its crispy breadcrumbs and melted cheese. However, the rainbow sushi roll is the dish I always tend to come back to, with it’s mixed fish layer and selection of sauces.
Having said that, the restaurant standout signature dish in the dessert section, which is quite surprising for a Japanese restaurant! The chocolate cake with its layers of fried tofu sheets between the black bean dark chocolate is absolutely delightful with it’s rich/crisp textures and bitter/sweet flavours. Such a divine and balanced combination! You must try this one when you go!
While a bit more pricey than your regular Japanese, the food quality screams fine dining and the portion sizes are quite generous, so overall pretty good value. Sushi Yachiyo is now officially one of my favourite restaurants for a casual week day dinner, which is quite fortunate given that I live just around the corner! It’s also the perfect compromise when going with people who prefer the meaty to the fishy options as they will have plenty of choice too.
Overall, I would probably give it a 7.5/10 Nibbles!
13 Kirketon Rd
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
(02) 9331 8107
After anticipating it for 4 weeks on the waiting list, I finally got to try Porteno on Friday night with a group of girlfriends. I was massively looking forward to it, as firstly I am a big fan of its sister restaurant Bodega and secondly as Porteno (and it’s booking policy) has been the talk of the town for the past couple of months!
Given the numbers, we had to go with the set menu, which including an incredible selection of the best dishes for $70/head. All dishes were served tapas style and prepared from the freshest and highest quality ingredients. The marinated olives, pate, eggplant and pasties were gorgeous, but the calamari and tuna have to be the highlight of the meal – cooked to perfection resulting in an explosion of flavours! The vegetables were excellent too, especially the crispy Brussel sprouts! …but then came the meat feast… OMG ….Huge plates of pork sausages, black pudding, seared beef, lamb ribs…and to finish us off – the suckling pig! The seared beef was by far my favourite, although it was all really a bit too much for just us girlies…and I was actually a bit disappointed with the suckling pick which was tender but a bit plain. But then…when we all thought we couldn’t face any more food, out of the shadows came the puddings… devine and beautiful! The ice cream and Crème brûlée, which we suddenly found room for, were the perfect finish to add a sweet touch to a substantial evening of great food
The ambiance was buzzing and the receptionist looked super hot with her 60′s Argentinean hairstyle! I will definitely be back…but with the boys next time!
Overall, I would probably give it a 7.5/10 Nibbles!
358 Cleveland Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
02 8399 1440
Being a Frog myself probably makes me a tough judge when it comes to French restaurants abroad, which I often find pompous, over-priced and lifeless. However La Brasserie really pulls it off! It’s exactly what a Bistro would be like back home…the old time favourites on the black board, the French songs playing away in the background, the warm and intimate atmosphere…it instantly brings me back to Paris! It is, for sure, a very popular spot amongst French expats who are probably the most regular customers – but hearing French all around you also adds to the experience, non?
The dishes are simple, authentique and delicious..In the starter section, the rustic charcuterie platter is top quality, served with mustard, cornichons and pickled onions. Although I always feel obliged to go for the escargot a la bourguignonne especially if it there is an opportunity to challenge anyone at the table! The steak is beautiful – tartare or sirloin – always a winner with French fries…but there are many other traditional dishes on menu and the Confit de canard, moules marinières or lapin farci are all perfectly prepared. Make sure you save a bit of room to try one of their desserts too – the crème Brulée is really tasty and it also comes with a little canele Bordelais, which a traditional little cake with a rich custardy interior enclosed by a thin caramelized layer! A real classic in all bakeries back home!
All staff members are experienced, efficient and friendly. But make sure you listen carefully as the accent is at its strongest and French gibberish part of every sentence!
Overall, I would probably give it a 8/10 Nibbles!
118 Crown Street,
(02) 9358 1222
The Hunter valley is such a great place for a relaxing and inspiring short break! After spending the last couple of days visiting and discovering smaller vineyards, I thought I would share my new top favourite with you..!
Wollombi Wines is a gorgeous little boutique vineyard in the lower Hunter Valley. The views are breathtaking and the property is full of charm and quirky details. The first vines were planted in 1994 by the Hoft family, and all the work is still carried out by their lovely family members. Peter, the owner, assisted us with the tasting and was delightful, fun and entertaining. While knowledgeable and informative, he was also extremely down to earth and realistic about people’s tastes and preferences. While the wines are true to the region, they are also smoother and easier to drink than some of the more complex types. The White splash is the best example of that, a gorgeous clean fresh white wine you can enjoy by itself on a sunny afternoon!
Below is the selection of our personal favorites…quite a few of them!
Has a generous flavoured style, with varietal characteristics of tropical fruit and is well balanced with subtle acidity.
2009 White Splash:
A light fun wine with good fruit flavours.
GREAT WITH: Caviar, foie gras, smoked salmon, burgers or breakfast.
2010 Bella Frizzante:
A vibrant red wine with fruity aromas showing spice and red currants. The palate has generous fruit driven flavour and sweetness, with a gentle spritz.
Luscious fruit flavours across the palate. Lovely drink now and will get even better with age.
GREAT WITH: Deserves a good steak or casserole and good company.
A light elegant wine , with a peppery, spicy, berry nose. Medium bodied with a well textured structure and very fine tannins.
We are now fully stocked up for a few Nibblish meals!
The bottles are also really reasonably priced – between $16-22 per bottle. Great value given the quality you would normally get for that price in your local liquor store!
Make sure you make Wollombi wines part of your itinerary next time you’re going up to the Hunter and say hi to Peter for me! If you’re not planning to go anytime soon, you can place an online order here. They even offer free delivery to all major cities in Australia.
Wollombi NSW 2325
Ms. G’s is the latest hit in Potts point, set up by Dan Hong from Lotus. It’s got a distinctive flair to it, as it’s an authentic Asian eatery with a unique funky & witty vibe, both understated and notably quirky. The loft decor with red neon lights and graffiti also give it an extra grungy New York vibe. You can’t make reservations, but it’s actually a really good thing as it’s a great excuse to get started on the vacuum packed cocktails which set the mood for a fun evening!
The menu features a nice selection of Asian fusion dishes, inspired mainly from Vietnam, Japan and China. The prawn toasts with yuzu aioli and fresh herbs was our first pick and the clear winner of the meal as undeniably the best prawn toasts any of us ever had! In the Vietnamese category, the pork belly mini banh mi were pretty damn tasty, but not quite as amazing as the steak tartare with prawn crackers which was another one of a kind, served with an egg yolk and fried onions! For the mains, we shared between us the fried baby chicken, Egg noodles with braised duck, stir fried cultivated mushrooms and crispy spiced tofu. The fried chicken was definitely the stand out and would beat Colonel Sanders at his own game! We finished the meal with the “Stoner’s Delight” with banana ice cream, chocolate, rice bubbles, pretzel, peanut brittle and marshmallow – genius idea and mix made in heaven!
The service was really fast, friendly and efficient. Couple of opportunities for improvement, if you read me Hemme and Dan, would be to make the mains a little bit stronger to truly compete with the starters and puddings. The cocktails could also be a little bit cheaper too, which ended up making the biggest share of bill! Having said that, it was all in all a really fun experience and some pretty incredible food!
Overall, I would probably give it a 8.5/10 Nibbles!
155 Victoria street
NSW australia 2011
+61 2 8313 1000
Fei Jai is relatively new and also very easy to miss spot in the busy dining scene of Potts point’s challis street, but I would really urge you to look up for it and give it a go! I normally tend to avoid traditional Chinese cuisine which I find a bit too oily and heavy for my liking, but the chef at Fei Jai managed to add a really fresh and fragrant modern spin to all traditional Cantonese dishes giving it a whole new flavour. The crab omelette is heavenly light and luscious with it’s creamy folded egg whites and big chunks of blue swimmer crab meat. The pork pancakes are delicious with simple, clean flavours and fresh ingredients.The fish is beautifully poached and soft. Even the sweet & sour pork is surprisingly light & crisp with a delicate tangy flavor from the big chunks of pineapple and lychees. Loved every single dish. I will definitely be back…for the unbeatable crab omelette but also to try everything else on the menu!
The service was a bit rushed and impersonal towards the end but mainly as it got busier through the night. Value wise, it will definitely come across as a bit exy if you compare it to your typical Chinese restaurant, but then again I find it totally justified given the quality of the food and products used.
Overall, I would probably give it a 7.5/10 Nibbles!
31 Challis Ave
NSW australia 2011
+61 2 8668 4424