Archives for category: kpnv

Nabbed myself a 2/2/1 apartment off the plan in Marrickville. It’s next to the train station and I’ve got the corner northeast facing unit away from the tracks. 86sqm internal and 11sqm external, I’ll get morning sun and look out onto Illawarra road. When I was at the sales office, another dude snapped up this other apartment adjacent so he made the choice for me really. At first, I think I preferred the layout of that one. It had a double ensuite and kitchen island and more internal space plus a spare toilet for guests. Now I think I prefer mine. It’s got a long galley kitchen, a larger study nook and hallway storage. The plan is to make a custom counter in front of the kitchen. I think I’m just too used to working in kitchens. I’ve gotta have a counter! I feel naked if it’s just a galley kitchen! So I want this extra long counter. Will probably design it when I get more concrete plans etc. It’s gonna be a longass piece of wood with a metal frame below for storage and support. The floor is going to be carpet until I think I wanna get wood. We’re also going to paint the dining room wall yellow and use turqoise and mint for contrast. Here’s the overall plan. ^=existing , *=essential

Entrance
It’s a small space but it’s the one that greets you. I want mine a little cluttered and I’m gonna paint a doormat with some jizz.

  1. Wooden Stool
  2. Custom Ikea Trampa
  3. Mirror ^
  4. Umbrella Stand

Study
This is basically going to be my space haha! 27″ iMac with all black stealth mode furniture. The existing Ikea shelving will be in the living room space.

  1. Magis Chair One, black *
  2. Flos Tab T Lamp, black
  3. Ikea Alex Drawer Unit, black
  4. Ikea Lerberg, white x 2 ^
  5. Small Boxes

Living
I wanna get stuff from Australia too. Jardan makes some nice sofas and they aren’t cheap and crap either. Gonna use my girl’s expedit as a divider and displayer. Might get an Apple TV too to stream content to the telly.

  1. Jardan Coast Soda, medium gray
  2. Bright Yellow Cushions.
  3. Coffee Table
  4. Armchair
  5. Standing Lamp
  6. Ikea Besta TV Console, white
  7. Ikea Expedit Shelf, white ^

Dining
Another important space. I don’t reckon we will entertain much. It’s a small apartment. Going with a soft round table and ideally 4 Thonet B9s. The colour scheme for the apartment grew from here. Yellow wall, brown sideboard, copper lamp, white chairs, light wood table, turqoise wall art/plant, mint painting.

  1. Round Table
  2. Thonet B9, white x4
  3. Hanging Lamp
  4. Sideboard

Kitchen
This is a crucial space. My “dream” kitchen. Custom wood slab with metal frame support counter is gonna be exposed and hold up some nice plates and equipment and stuff. You’ll be able to read our lives in this counter. Will stick some herbs on the end of it to catch the sun from the balcony.

  1. Custom Wood Counter
  2. Magis Stool One, white counter height x 2

Bedroom
The dresser is my girl’s desk haha! Her zone.

  1. Sidetables
  2. Bed + Mattress (Upgrade time! With a headboard please!)
  3. Dresser
  4. Chair^

Second Bedroom
Will rent this out and have some stuff to furnish with too.

  1. Ikea Bed + Mattress^
  2. Ikea Drawer Unit^
  3. Ikea Desks^
  4. Ikea Chair^

Bathrooms
Won’t need much here, perhaps some small storage. We will see as there’s a storage space outside.

Balcony
Sippin’ on filter coffee in the daytime and a brewski at night. Prolly get a bright red BBQ too. Charcoal grillin’.

  1. Table
  2. 2 Chairs

Whitegoods/Electronics
I’m gonna fly the flag for my girl here. I have been mightily impressed by the Samsung washer I’ve used for the last 4 years. Going strong despite heavy use trying to wash chef jackets relentlessly. On the other hand, the Whirlpool fridge ain’t doing that well. Koreans do it well. It’s good that we’re getting a gas stove, oven and dryer included.

  1. Phillips TV^
  2. Apple TV
  3. Breville Smart Grinder^
  4. Samsung Fridge
  5. Iron
  6. Samsung Washing Machine
  7. Mixer (I think Kitchenaid but I’m not 100%)
  8. Breville Kinetix Pro Blender
  9. Toaster
  10. 21″ iMac^
  11. 27″ iMac
  12. Maybe some nice speakers

Smaller Items
Basically this is down to my girl. She’s going to pick the best from Korea. We’ll add to this as we go along obviously.

  1. Ironing Board
  2. Dinnerware
  3. Cutlery
  4. Curtains?
  5. Bedsheets
  6. House Slippers
  7. Umbrella
  8. Small Boxes/Stationery
  9. Cushion covers
  10. Cups/Drinkware

Super excited and constantly budgeting and listmaking. Just threw down the deposit today too. Mad broke.

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Today I worked a double shift, a really long one. I finished at 12 after finishing up some shit. Everyone else was long gone. When I go upstairs to change, I’m met by a message from my brother informing me that my mother’s mother had passed away. Peacefully in her sleep apparently.

The curious thing is that my housemate decided this week he was gonna ferment some rice to make Hong Zhao Jiu, or red fermented glutinous rice wine. This just happens to be one of my biggest memories of my grandmother. Essentially, everytime I went to visit her on a big day, there would always be a pot of Hong Zhao Ji, or Red Glutinous Rice Wine Chicken. What you do is basically ferment glutinous rice with the addition of red yeast, which is where it gets the name. The wine takes weeks to ferment and be ready. I don’t think my grandmother actually made her own wine but I now know two people whose mothers have recipes for making their own auspicious moonshine. Regardless of whether my grandmother made the wine or not, the pot of braised chicken with mee sua was usually pretty kickass. I remember coming to Sydney and studying French cuisine and doing a Coq au Vin which reminded me of Hong Zhao Ji. Even the flavours are kinda similar. Just why my housemate picked this week to start his shit is just…

Another big memory for me was the basket of durians. Por Por was mad for durians and she’d buy ’em by the basket. As a kid, I vividly remembered how awesome it was to indulge in a BASKET of durians. The supply was neverending! I think this greatly contributed to my love for the fruit because on my dad’s side, we weren’t quite as fervent. So from the ages of like 5-7 around June, I really looked forward to smashing durians and uh, visiting my mother’s side of the family too.

In many ways, I feel like my grandmother was the tie that bound my mother’s family. She was the reason why we’d end up gambling on mahjong during Chinese New Year. I liked playing against my grandmother and winning. Pretty sure she cleaned me out more often than not but of all the scant interactions I had with her, this was one of the most vivid.

With her passing, there is no one left from the first generation in my family now. We’re staring at fourth generation kids, most of whom I haven’t really met, nor do I even know their names if I’m being honest. With each passing day, it feels like the distance continues to grow. It’s times like these when we remember something most important; that we’re still family.

Yesterday I did a 13.5 hour shift with no break except the requisite midday dumpathon. Aside from tasting the prep, I managed to scoff down 5 pieces of cold, semi braised beef and a gob of rice. It was a good day because service was smooth and without hiccups and my partner in crime managed to bust out the prep whilst I worked the line. Compared to most regular human beings, chefs are thankful for the small things. I made it out at 11pm and smiled as the darkness of the outside hit me; freedom.

The previous night, I was in an auditorium at the Sydney Opera House listening to a bearded Danish guy rattle off entries from his journal. I quote the man himself: “who writes a fucking journal?”. But listen I did and so did a buncha other guys just like me. You could see the same jadedness in their eyes, the phantom checked pants that would’ve been worn just a few hours ago, the stain of miscellaneous proteins caught in the crevices under the fingernails, the thoughts revolving around stocktaking at the end of the month…

I think Redzepi’s prose is making me more morose and contemplative than usual and also a lot more wordy. I went without any expectations and/or ideas about what was going to happen. I think I wasted my money but I also kinda enjoyed myself somehow. $45 is about 1.5 hours work for me gross. I shoulda been chillin’ with Fifa 14 and some Four Pines instead.

Anyway, it was kinda funny. Redzepi got his chance to promote his new book, A Work In Progress, which is actually 3 books. One has recipes. One has photos. The last is his fucking journal from 2011 to 2012, sometime after winning the Restaurant of The Year award for the first time. It all starts when his wife asks him one day “Are you OK?”. He thought he was but then stared at a zombie in the mirror to realise that he wasn’t at all. Resolving to write the journal, he ended up chronicling his successes, frustrations, annoyances, fears and the scarily huge pile of failures that were so confidence depleting.

I left the talk with a certain optimism, something echoed in my housemate who’s also a chef and been at it as long as I have. We spent the remainder of the night walking to Chinatown and chatting about the profession. Had it actually become one? I mean, you got guys like Redzepi talking at the Opera House and starting symposiums and stuff. Well, he’s the fucking chef patron of one of the most innovative and exciting restaurants in the world. Us? We’re just kitchen slaves doing the dirty work.

Still, it’s good to know that one of the world’s best chefs is kinda just like you. It gives me hope to know that whilst I’ll probably never make the top 50000000 restaurant list, I might still be able to enjoy really well the 5% of my time that is actually pleasurable and ignore the other 95%. It’s good to know that you’re not the only moron slogging away trying to eke a living out of coagulating proteins.

This is my journal.

So after kopping my X-E1, I’ve started a new photoblog, where I’ll just post random photos that I think are ok. I shoot a lot more than I post. I really like the Duotone theme, which has a background that responds to the picture you post, which is pretty cool. Also love the simple, minimalist look and the attention focused on the image itself. This theme is perfect for single image posts. It also puts up EXIF data, which has worked 1 out of 4 times for me. Kinda cool when it did work.

I’ve named the blog POKEYE, which sounds like pok gai, which in Cantonese means to fall down on the street and just die. It’s a little self deprecating in that sense.

Every year, I host a dinner for my uni mates and their +1s and my own family as well when I go on holiday to Singapore. The first time I did it, it was decent and tasty but it mostly looked like shit. The second year, I upped the ante and the food was more communal and much better. The third year, I set up a makeshift argy style grill in my house. This year, I had my girlfriend helping me out, so I went overboard with the ambition but almost everything turned out pretty good and it’s clear even to myself that I’ve come a long way from when I was still learning the trade.

I had basically one day to shop, prep and cook but I cheated by doing some things before I left Sydney to save some effort and time. Ultimately, with the speedy aid my girlfriend provided, it was pretty much a cinch. I tend to like cooking explicitly simple things that don’t have excessive prep. So in terms of taste and execution, I think I did well for the most part. Where I went wrong was probably overfeeding people. Haha! I just made too much! Next year, I’m focusing on less but better.

Most of the food was procured at Chia’s Vegetable Supply in Tekka Centre. They’ve got an excellent selection of veg, great quality and reasonable prices so I’ve been buying stuff from them all the time. Also, the seafood at the market is pretty good in general. There’s one stall I don’t know the name of that specializes in prawns that looks superb and there’s also a good number of beef/lamb butchers and chicken guys too.

Otherwise, for my raw fish and Japanese needs, there’s only really Meidi-ya, which isn’t as good as Japan but it is hella close. If you close your eyes, you wouldn’t think you were in sunny Singapore. That’s until the samples auntie tells you about some top notch tofu.

I’m lucky that my dad loves to cook so he fixed himself a pretty big kitchen that’s also damn well stocked with stuff and this year, we removed the spare room at the back and installed a cafe/breakfast dining area which is really charming. For a pro, you couldn’t ask for a better home kitchen. Well, actually I did ask my mom for a walk in coolroom instead of her little workshop at the back. Oh, a combi oven, a pacojet and some immersion circulators would be great too by the way mom.

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  • Snapper White Soy – Filleted and cleaned up beforehand, sliced right before my friends who milled into the kitchen. The fish I bought from Meidi-ya which turned out to be nice and sweet. The only thing I stuffed up was overdosing the yuzu juice for this because I didn’t have a squeeze bottle. I’ll have one next time. Slicing up the fish in front of my friends definitely stressed me out.

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  • Aburi Smoked Salmon On Toast – Basically a miniature version of smoked salmon on toast but shaped like nigiri sushi. I brought over 4 boules of frozen Iggy’s country sourdough, which was still good. I’d prefer to use something baked locally but don’t know where to go. Lightly toasted bread gets topped with wilted spinach and smoked salmon before getting the blowtorch treatment. Dressing is store bought goma tare/sesame sauce and chives.

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  • Prawn Bisque + Prawn Toast – Ok first off, I messed up here cos one of my mates has a prawn allergy. Doh! It’s ok, I’ll stuff him with more of the other things. The prawn toast was a little crap. I par toasted some sliced sourdough and rubbed raw garlic on that. Then I put a mix of fine and rough chopped prawn meat on top. This went in the oven but I struggled with the settings and the mix was underseasoned. I think I could probably have done better with the prawns left in the rather excellent bisque and the toast on the side. Also, the milk frother stuffed up when I tried to use it which was super disappointing. I really wanted to do milk foam prawn bisquecinos. The bisque itself though, was good. I changed it from most regular versions with the inclusion of Chinese dried scallops and prawns to give it a certain extra oomph.

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  • Crab Croquettes – This dish I adapted from Movida’s Smoked Eel original. It’s basically a bechamel base that you have to cool, shape and then crumb before frying. This I prepped in Sydney. I rolled the mix into logs and then froze them. When it came to the day itself, the logs were cut when frozen into neat little cylinders. These get crumbed and then left to defrost in the fridge before we fried them off. In my opinion, Movida makes the best croquettes I’ve ever had. The bechamel base recipe includes the use of Queso de Mahon, a Spanish melty cheese that really helps the filling disappear in your mouth almost. I think I did the original some justice. I only wish I had a temp. controllable fryer and not a pot on  a stove.

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  • KFC – Korean fried chicken by my girlfriend. She marinated the chicken in milk to reduce the chicken smell and slightly tenderise the meat without drying or curing it out. This got lightly dusted and then battered in a seasoned mix before frying twice, once low, once high. Can’t go wrong with that when you don’t stuff around too much with something so simple.

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  • Roast Pork Loin w Chimichurri – The dressing is excellent but we adjusted the original recipe from Porteno. They used white wine vinegar and I used some shitty apple vinegar and added some lemon for zing. The pork loin ended up being pretty dang decent for a dish I thought up pretty much last minute and had no recipe for. I just chucked it in the oven with garlic/rosemary at 150C until it was almost done. When the entrees went, I chucked it in the oven at max heat for some colour and then took it out to rest. We sliced it all up and laid it on a chopping board to share.

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  • Beef Cheeks w PX, Cauliflower Puree – Probably one of my fave dishes I’ve ever had, I think Movida’s (again) version was my favourite so far. I should probably use a different PX next time because the bottle I got from bloody BWS wasn’t sweet enough. That or the shiraz I used was too tart. Hmmm, maybe it’s the latter. Anyway, this one was a nightmare. I did it on the stove which I regret. I shoulda used the oven because for whatever reason, the liquid always seemed to boil and this is a dish you wanna go low and slow so I kept worrying that it wouldn’t be tender or even edible. Thankfully, after 6+ hours, it was a little bit better than good. Ultimately, the 3 hit flavour of rich beef cheeks, sweet jus and creamy nutty puree won everyone over.

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  • Twice Cooked Brussel Sprouts – I pre blanched the sprouts but my friends started streaming into the kitchen when I tried to fry em off. There’s still water in the sprouts so things got a bit firey and I got nervous that someone would catch on fire so I kinda didn’t fry em enough. This ended up not having that great carameliezd flavour and crispy texture. A disappointment personally.
  • Fondant Potatoes – Potatoes cooked slowly until tender in butter. This was good but I think everyone was pretty damn stuffed and this was beastly in how decadent and filling it was. Probably drop starch altogether next time.
  • Cherry Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Basil – My girlfriend quickly tossed a pile of these in the wok and I think we picked out some sweetass cherrytoms because they were bloody good. The sweetness and acidity was also a welcome change of pace from the rest of the relatively rich tasting food.

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  • Tiramisu – I just really wanted to plop a quenelle on a plate so we deconstructed a tiramisu (got lazy) and made a mascarpone mousse dusted with cocoa, a choc ganache, an espresso glaze plus some crushed and sliced lady’s fingers. Taste wise, it was ok if a little underwhelming but it was small, light and just about enough. I need to work on that mousse to achieve a more firm texture that still melts in your mouth. If only I had my cream whipper. Also coulda swopped out the fingers for some grissini maybe.

I made some mistakes, learned a bit here and there, panicked and sweated but had a great time. I was forced to make decisions like dropping a duck dish altogether because supply seemed difficult. This turned out for the best because I had a shitload of food anyway. I think the best part aside from being able to share some grub, booze and good times with friends and family was being able to enjoy working together with my girlfriend. Somehow we really meshed well and got things to work. I used to work with her (that’s how we met) and I’d forgotten how good she was already!

To everyone who was there, I hope you enjoyed yourself and hopefully, we’ll be able to do it all again next year.

It’s taken me a while to come as close to a final draft for my annual NUSiD dinner menu for this year but here it is.

  1. White Soy Snapper – a dish from work; raw snapper, yuzu juice, white soy dressing, white sesame seeds and chives
  2. Aburi Smoked Salmon on Toast Soldiers – my own creation; Iggy’s sourdough, creme fraiche, spinach, aburi smoked salmon, goma tare
  3. Prawn Bisque w Prawn Toast – inspired by Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodle as well as a tribute to my family’s personal breakfast of garlic prawns; prawn bisque w chinese dried seafood, milk foam, diced prawns and garlic on toast
  4. Crab Croquettes – inspired by MoVida
  5. KFC – Korean Fried Chicken
  6. Roast Duck w Burnt Leek Emulsion – seared duck breast, crispy skin, charred leek+fried egg puree
  7. Roast Pork Ribs/Belly w Chimichurri – inspired by Porteno
  8. Braised Beef Cheeks w PX & Cauliflower Puree – eaten this maybe 6 times in Sydney, best one at MoVida
  9. Twice Cooked Brussel Sprouts w Eschallots & Mustard Dressing – from Cumulus Inc
  10. Cherry Tomatoes w Basil Oil
  11. Fondant Potatoes
  12. “Tiramisu” – one of my family classics revisited

It’s still open to changes but for the most part, this is pretty much what it’s gonna be. 2 light raw fish dishes to start, then 3 small hot entrees then 3 mains with 3 sides and a single dessert to finish it all up. It’s probably going to be 18-20+ people this year so it’s the biggest group I’ve ever cooked at my house so we’ll see how it goes. I’m gonna buy some stuff from Sydney so that the guys back home can try it. Might switch it up here or there but it’s 95% complete.

Meanwhile, here’s some pictures of 4 boules of Iggy’s sourdough and my crab croquette prep.

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I leave the house at 8:30 on Sunday, knowing that I wanted to get in early at work, well before the scheduled 9.30. It typically takes 2-3 minutes to wait for a bus and another 7 to get across the bridge plus 5 to walk to work. So 15 minutes. I got informed that roads would be closing because of the Sydney marathon, so I was half prepared for a delay.

When I get on the bus, the driver informs me that the bridge is closed so they’d be taking the tunnel and then detouring to get towards the city. So we go through the tunnel and at this point, I’m thinking, I’ll settle if I get in before 9.30 when I’m supposed to be there. Yea right. The dude manipulating the bendy bus has other ideas and decides to forget his directions. He goes through Darlo and then goes down Oxford street in Paddo towards Bondi before stopping somewhere around the Light Brigade Hotel flipping through a map. I work in The Rocks son. That’s like 30 minutes walk away. I look at my phone and it’s 9.05. Nice.

I get off there and then, hail a cab and tell him to take me to The Rocks. It costs me $15 from my house to work, so I figure I’ll take the hit but avoid being late. I mean, Oxford street to The Rocks on Sunday, there isn’t much traffic so… Yea roight. This bitch decides to have no clue whatsoever how to get there. There’s a blazing LED sign saying city detour and the dude thinks everything is closed and he only took me to like behind St. James Church for $17. Thanks bro.

So I walk. Past the runners, whom I’m cursing under my breath. Past the morons clapping and cheering, as if a marathon were an achievement of some sorts. Dude. Getting fucked over by the Sydney transportation system and still getting into work in time is an achievement. Yes I got in at 9.29 fast walking with my kniferoll in my backpack through Martin Place and down into The Rocks. I wasn’t fucking happy but there was more to come. The first face I see is a slightly tearful colleague informing me she’s sorry but she’s sick and she can’t work. I was like, so why you here then, go home dammit.

The night before, we got slammed like 290 covers or pretty much maxed out so I know I didn’t have all that much to play with. So step up overdrive prep time. Distracted by the disruption to my morning routine because a bunch of narcissists decide to take a long jog flying under the flag of charity and other assorted bullshit, I had to focus and fast. I had a tenderloin to trim, grill and slice plus lettuce to wash and vegetables to slice and fish to dice. Normally, I’d at least have said tearful colleague washing lettuce over 2 hours. But now, even that luxury is gone.

I make it and get ready to crack some oysters open. At this point, I get the first docket in. 6 Tataki. Ha! Fuck you Ivan! I had 4 left from last night. I had to stop the oysters, pull out the tataki and slice two up right off and went back down to zero. I get through lunch though because it’s a little slow. Finally a little respite. Then at 2.30, the guy who’s normally on sushi bar becomes my prep bitch when he comes in and slavishly cleans off saikyo miso marinade off gindara before packing them into little vacuum bags. Meanwhile, I’m trimming tenderloins and frying onions and shit. I make it, for the most part before dinnertime. The head chef gives me a hand shucking more oysters after I sold out for lunch. His wife came for dinner and ate what he shucked so I ran out again. No time to shuck new ones bro.

We end the night according to the manager, doing 240 covers a man down. I’m not sure if it was really 240 covers but I knew I was dead tired. I’d done a double on Friday, Saturday night and a double Sunday. If I did 240, great, If it was 140, I’m cool. Whatever. I’m alive. One of the good things when you work through a pile of shit, you get rep. Which I hope I got in boatloads yesterday cos maybe I proved I can hold it together, keep it calm and keep it looking and tasting good. I couldn’t have done it without a good team and willing teammates though, and that’s the thing that makes me think this is a good place to work. Peeps always trying to cheer each other up midservice when the dockets are hanging off the machine or a group of 20 stroll in. Boundless optimism? Or just flying in the face of folly. Whatever it is, I need to add this attitude to my arsenal.

Blue is the cab ride. Red is the walking. The grey shit at the top center is the bridge. Normally, all I do is cross it and walk down where the red line stops in The Rocks.

When I was looking for a new job, there was a few places that needed guys to come in and there was one place I thought was gonna be perfect. It’s supposed to be a biggish modern type of a Cantonese restaurant serving food that would probably be pretty damn close to what I might want to do myself. Unfortunately they never got back to me with anything so I moved on. I also applied for a few other places but either through fate or luck or whatever, the one place that got back to me was a one hatted Japanese joint.

When I did my trial, I was at my most mentally drained, worried as hell about my housemates and my girl yet knowing that I had to do well. I didn’t. I sucked at cutting stuff and was just totally nervous. My knife was sharpish but maybe not enough for that day. I had to chiffonade red cabbage but stacked it too high and everything came out uneven. The trick wasn’t better technique or anything it was just stacking less. It was like I forgot everything I’d learned in the last 3 or 4 years and just got too nervous. They took me aside after and hour and a half and told me my knife skills weren’t up to scratch but they’d still offer me a commis position. I took the job despite the step down in money and position. Didn’t matter to me because I knew I’d learn something here.

I look at my mini arsenal of spanking new Japanese knives and I realized maybe I should put them to use and I have! The deba has filleted a few trout and kingfish thus far and I’m actually getting better at it. I don’t bring my sujihiki into work cos it’s a little precious and let’s be honest, I ain’t as good at slicing and cutting shit like the guys on the sushi/sashimi. So at the mo, I’m doing it all with my Aritsugu A Type. Funny thing is, two of the Japanese guys at work have the same damn knife. The fryer dude has got  massive ear hole inserts and uses his 210mm version for everything. The sushi dude doesn’t really use his as much but thought it was interesting we all have the same damn knife.

2 and a half weeks in and I’m settling in already. I can chiff the cabbage fine and cut everything fine. My filleting isn’t the fastest or the bestest but I ain’t all crap. I can improve of course but I’m headed the right way. The nerves are gone and I’m heading into that zone where I’m throwing myself into it. I start work early, I finish late and people keep asking me to go on breaks or eat food or drink coffee or whatever. I don’t really want to, I just wanna cut shit up.

The only other knife I’m using at the moment is a Vic parer but I use it to open plastic and shit, not cut food. At the moment I’m really feeling like I need a thin, small knife like a petty for trimming up tenderloins, around 150mm maybe 180mm. The gyuto does all the veg and protein slicing but it’s a little awkward to trim silverskin and I really don’t need anything like a proper slicer or a boning knife at the moment. No bones anyway. So tossing up between the two lengths for a petty. At the mo, I’m leaning towards the 180mm cos after I’m trimmed up, it could also serve as a slicer, just fine for a tenderloin tataki. The 150mm could too I’m sure but I want a service knife that can also dice up fish. We do these raw fish tacos served up with shots of sake that we gotta dice the fish up and a 150mm might be a little short for that. So knife shopping a lot at the mo.

My head chef is really cool. He’s super chilled and keeps trying to make me laugh. One of the sous chef’s last names is Bong and we joke about that in the middle of service. Which is annoying and ridiculous at the same time. I’m really enjoying it all, the work is new and there’s a lot of knifework, using the mandolin and slicing proteins so it’s all good. I find a few of the dishes a little fiddly but getting used to the flow and all. The other guys in the kitchen are all really cool too. I got kept up after work one night talking shit with this older dude who’s taken to showing me the ropes and shit. I burned 2 Jiro Dreams Of Sushi dvds for people. The Japanese guys keep wondering why the hell I have an Aritsugu A Type. Settling in with everyone and they’re getting used to me too. This is pretty much the closest to the kind of kitchen I dreamed about, the type that just works and is happy doing it without someone on top shouting his head off Ramsay style. You also get treated well in terms of staff meal (leftover wagyu son, parfaits and cupcakes and ice cream and coffee… ) and the money’s better than I thought it was gonna be. Still want a pay raise within 3 months though haha and hopefully, I’ll earn it. Really feeling like I can learn a lot more and add some Japanese ideas and technique to my kit.

After one of the hardest months of my life, I’ve changed jobs and also moved house from Crows Nest to Neutral Bay, a short jaunt but a logistical nightmare. It all started with an incident so unforeseen it rattled us all and snowballed into a shitstorm of change. We had to house hunt whilst working full time, which is a nightmare in Sydney. You’ve got to be on Domain.com.au or RealEstate.com.au all day errday calling agents and shit. I spent one morning looking at 11 different properties, skipping lunch and hitting work right after. We finally saw our Neutral Bay spot and moved swiftly. It’s a 3 bedder with one ensuite and another bathroom plus a 2 car lockup garage, refurbed toilets and stuff. It’s a massive shrinkage situation compared to our sprawling previous address with it’s 6 rooms and stuff.

When you apply for rentals, you gotta dig up your previous history, so I had to try and remember where and when I used to stay whilst I was in Sydney. I’ve been here five years now, almost to the day, which is pretty amazing since I never thought I’d be staying around for that long and liking what I’m doing/finding people I like etc. So yea, I couldn’t remember but a combination of gmail’s supermassive storage from eons ago and this very blog and it’s many posts made it possible for me  to retrieve my past! I discovered that I have lived in 6 places thus far. I don’t have exact dates and whatever and one part is conjecture but essentially, I managed to remember what I ate and where it was or what I did and when that was etc. Diaries are useful! So in view of this, I’ve decided it pertinent to mark this post, in my 5 year anniversary of being in Sydney to remind myself of important nonsense properly like write shit down and save it digitally on gmail.

I first came in July07. Got the exact date off the flight ticket details. Easy. I knew I only stayed with my good “aunt” for a month or so before moving out. That’s when I first started chopping and changing round sharehouses in Chatswood, the upper middle class Asian suburb nonpareil. I first lived with an Irish golf shop owner and his Singaporean girlfriend but they kinda nudged me out after 4 months. Probably way too noisy with the music and the PES. So I went to this tiny little room in the end of Chatswood that’s not really Chatswood anymore, practically Willoughby, and stayed with 2 Indian brothers on the cheap. 20 minute walks to the train station was a PITA and I couldn’t wait to get out because it was a shithole. Eventually, I moved around July or August to another share house. This time, a stones throw from Chatswood Chase where I doled out significantly more moolah to an Indian/Korean couple. I got the place thanks to my Korean friend and that was my first intro to the way of the Koreans. The place was ok but pricey. I left that house in April because I didn’t want to pay a month’s worth of rent whilst I was on holiday and came back to a share house share house. It was a revolving door that I hated. This Taiwanese lady owned the place but just rented it out to various dudes. I barely had much contact with any of these guys, with whom I would often have bathroom/laundry conflicts. I got fed up and wanted something I could really call home.

Finally, in March 2010, I made the move to Crowie with 3 friends. That number grew to 4 when my girlfriend came into the picture and 5 when another friend came along. Then my good mate made the move to Melbourne but in came another friend to replace him and for four months it was pretty cool. But sadly, 2 years on, it had to end in the most miserable of ways, completely out of the blue when that last “friend” relinquished his status and tarnished the lives of the other 5 irrevocably. Coulda lived here for even longer but bad memories aren’t worth reliving. I ain’t talking bout no bitch ass shit either. I’m talking criminal intent shit.

I’m gonna miss the epic space of my room, the 5 minute walk to work, munching at Ju-Rin/Guzman y Gomez/Sea Treasure on a weekly basis, shopping at Thomas Dux, alcohol at Small Bar, danishes at St. Malo, ristrettos at Bean Drinking and the ice cream at Sparrow/Antica. Also, the awesome owners of Sparrow who’re always friendly and welcoming. I bought a TV, a Dyson, a coffee bean grinder to supplement our existing lives. My girlfriend brought a car! We even went to Melbourne together!

House leaving was a pain, financially and mentally. Busy with work and shit but we had to pack and move in less than a week. We doled out about a grand to cleaners, gardeners and mould sprayers and even loaded up my girl’s car with rubbish to chuck it at the rubbish dump that even charged us for the pleasure. Then another half a grand went to movers and I ridiculously also managed to knock my girl’s side view mirror off. 220 to fix via an innovative Korean car repair shop but a bit of a dent on the side door too expensive to fix. All of this happened whilst I’d just started work at a one hat Japanese restaurant, nervous as all hell, tired as all hell and mentally defeated.

However, I’m also looking forward to closing probably the darkest chapter yet of my time in Sydney and starting up again in Neutral Bay. I’ve been munching on Pork + Fennel Sausage rolls and Sweet Tahini scrolls from Central Baking Depot for the past 2 weeks. Lunch was ramen at Tanpopo, which is ok I reckon. My hairdresser, Sono, is now within walking distance and we’ve got the option of going to either a massive Coles or a massive Woolies or one of a few grocers. Post office is nearby too, which is cool and hugely important for me. So far, we’re loving the new place despite all the crap we’ve had to deal with so far and it feels like we can all get on with shit again.

Big up to all the adventurous souls who came down to my place and ate my food. Hopefully, next year will be better.

Menu

  • Soft Poached Quail’s Eggs w Toast, Soy, White Pepper
  • Seared Bonito w Ginger, Pickled Daikon, Carrot, Chilli, Plum Sauce, Corn Flakes, Peanuts, Sesame, Pomelo
  • Cumi Kecap Bakar w Cucumber & Cherry Tomato Salad
  • Tira De Asado/Flanken Cut Short Ribs w Sugar Snaps, Garlic Roast Potatoes, Salsa, Onion Jus
  • Yakult Panna Cotta w Apples & Honey
  • Fried Bananas w Peanut Gula Melaka and Vanilla Ice Cream

Overall, I think I was reasonably satisfied with what I put out. A lot of stuff is still work in progress but I think I’ve learned a lot after 3.5 or so years working in a pro kitchen. Still a long way to go because I made a lot of mistakes and didn’t anticipate a lot of stuff but it’s ok, I’ll get over that.

With the quail’s egg amuse bouche, I was really trying to make a mini version of soft cooked eggs on buttered toast, minus the kopi and minus the kaya. Hence the use of the soy and white pepper. I think it worked to an extent but seriously showed me how I really want an immersion circulator to do proper controlled temperature cooking. taste wise, the crunchy buttery croutons worked well with the oozy gooey eggs and the soy and pepper gave it that familiar, nostalgic taste of my youth. I’m talking waking up at 5am and slugging down two eggs drowned in soy like a morning drink.

I liked my “raw fish dish” the best. It’s actually a riff on Lou Hei, the Chinese new year salad which is tossed by the eaters at the table. What I don’t like about Lou Hei is that you want the fish, but there’s very little of it and also there’s way too many ingredients and flavors and too much ginger and too much salad. I think turning it into an entree via the use of a Viet-style pickle salad works a treat and the plum sauce and corn flakes make it Lou Hei. Also, I got to screw around with some unexpectedly quality Bonito available locally that was stupid cheap.

I hated my squid dish. I took forever to decide on it. At one point, it was going to be an otak mousse rolled into a neat log and poached or deep fried but I didn’t have a reliable blender (or so I thought anyway) and I didn’t wanna run the risk of making the otak mix, with all the roots and shit and try to roll it and fail miserably. In the end, I just pulled out something that I knew would taste ok but wasn’t something that would be awesome. It’s ok, I’ll plan more next time.

With the main, I just didn’t wanna screw up but I also wanted to fool around. My fave place to eat in Sydney is probably Porteno, so I was totally inspired to do some Argy grill shit. I chanced upon a local Korean butcher with some top quality shizz and decided I wanted to do beef short ribs. In the end, the butcher convinced me to do it flanken cut which is actually traditional for Argy grill short rib. I think the end result was good, especially with the tart “salsa” and side veg but I think I shoulda just gone with my instincts and done it whole. I was just way too scared doing a charcoal grill thing for the first time more or less and having totally burnt or raw meat for everyone at the table. Doing this dish let me get in touch with my Canto BBQ roots in a roundabout way.

I like sweet stuff and I wanted to do 2 desserts. I usually tend to throw in something that’s local (read: Singaporean) in. The first dish was partly inspired by this dish from L’Effervescence in Tokyo, which had some story about a butterfly finding a treasure trove of sweet stuff beneath a chocolate shell. So I basically copied the “butterfly” with a thinly sliced apple sitting on a panna cotta. I wanted Yakult because yoghurt is a good combo with apples and because it is “local”. I gotta thank the guys for giving me the awesome feedback that the lovely poached apples just overpowered the Yakult flavor. I made my own recipe via David Leibovitz for that one and reduced the cream for the Yakult so the proportions weren’t quite right. I probably shoulda just done yoghurt instead. Or used a contrasting flavor instead, like walnuts. Oh I really shoulda put a honeyed walnut on there.

The goreng pisang dish was something that I’ve spent various nights on end talking endlessly about with a mate of mine in Sydney. We’ve each declared that we’re totally allowed to rip each other off and make variations of it. I started off poaching the bananas and also steaming them. I didn’t notice too much difference but poaching them in lemongrass and calamansi gave it a certain something something. I pureed some stuff, sieved and ended up with a runny mush. I then tried to cook it down with some gula melaka and sugar and succeeded in making it deeper and richer but it was still runny as hell. I whipped some cream up and made a mousse with it but it lost it’s banananess. I then figured that you don’t mess too much with a good thing. So I finished it off with poaching the bananas, freezing them, then frying them. I then made a peanut gula melaka “fudge/brittle” which I was too stingy with. It was superb with the banana. The ice cream just tied everything together and you get that hot/cold combo. I really should have doubled the amount of fudge/brittle I served. It was actually really good, flavor wise, if you got the right amount of everything together. This dish makes me feel optimistic. I think I’ve got the flavor combo down but I really need to work on the texture of the banana as well as the batter, which was like first hit on Google that was wayyyyy too watery and I had to adjust.

Sorry that my friends had to suffer my desire to fool around with food but hey, at least we got to drink a lot and shoot shit after a year huh? Here’s to next!

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