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Monday, December 10, 2018

LuMi Bar & Dining, Pyrmont

Italian gunkan with sea urchin roe and caviar at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney

Italian sushi? It makes more sense than you'd think. Chef Federico Zanellato combines koshikari rice with stracciatella, a milky cheese made from buffalo milk, and crowns the traditional battleship-shaped sushi with sea urchin roe and Ossetra caviar. Mamma mia it's good.

Dining room with water views at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney

The Italian gunkan is one of the highlights of our recent lunch at LuMi, which translates to "small lights" in Italian. You can see the hanging pendant lights clustered overhead in the dining room, but during the day all attention is on the waterfront, beckoning through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

It's been two years since my last visit. The most noticeable difference is the complete overhaul of the dining room furniture, including the addition of banquette lounges for two.

Louis Roederer champagne at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Brut Louis Roederer $30 by the glass
Pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot meunier

We pick the LuMi Experience ($155) over the shorter LuMi Small Tasting ($125 available at lunch only). A more comprehensive Chef's Menu ($185) is only available at dinner.

The LuMi Experience will include 14 dishes today, and because we're celebrating, we go all out with glasses of Louis Roederer champagne to start. The ultra fine bubbles and crisp acidity are a treat.

Sea urchin roe and caviar Italian gunkan at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Italian gunkan 
(with caviar, additional $10)

The Italian gunkan is a such a sight to behold we're almost reluctant to eat it. There's noticeable finesse in its construction, from the cooking of the koshikari rice to its refined assembly into gunkan (battleship) sushi, including the perfectly crisp tail of nori seaweed.

Sea urchin gunkan is common enough on Japanese menus, but adding stracciatella buffalo cheese adds an additional gentle creaminess. There's also a layer of konbu gel, made from the same seaweed used to make dashi stock, hidden within. We splurge on the ossetra caviar, which provides an extra pop of briny saltiness.

We're instructed to eat the whole thing in one mouthful. It's a sigh-worthy moment of sweet and salty, soft and creamy, crisp and chewy bliss.

Yellow fin tuna with salmon roe in a sweet potato cone at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Tuna

Our table is soon covered in snacks, each of them small and fun to eat. It's hard not to smile as you nibble on a sweet potato cone filled with raw yellowfin tuna and bright orange pops of salmon roe.

Frozen chicken liver parfait with white chocolate ganache on brioche crisp at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Sage and chicken liver toast

Fanciest toast award would have to go to this brioche crisp dotted with whipped sage and curls of frozen chicken liver parfait. It's another idea that defies convention but works inexplicably. The sensation of the nitrogen-frozen chicken liver parfait melting on the tongue is bizarre but delicious.

Prosciutto chawanmushi with Fraser Island spanner crab, peas and yuzu dashi at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Chawanmushi

The Japanese classic steamed egg custard, or chawanmushi, is Italianised with the addition of prosciutto stock. It lends a fragranced saltiness, lightened by the citrus zing of yuzu dashi. A generous amount of Fraser Island spanner crab and juicy peas provide a lush sweetness.

 Jerusalem artichoke crisp with Swiss brown mushroom at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Jerusalem artichoke

Umami abounds in the Jerusalem artichoke crisp, piled with precise rounds of Swiss brown mushrooms plus a mushroom pate in-between. It's a mushroom lover's dream.

Rye and spelt brioche at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Rye and spelt brioche with koji butter

The signature brioche is flavoured with rye and spelt this time, accompanied by a splodge of koji butter. The brioche always looks so majestic, rising out of its dish like a mushroom after the rain.

White aspargus with macadamia at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
White asparagus, macadamia

Our palates are pulled back with the white asparagus, a dish of subtlety and gentle flavours. The white asparagus is quite soft in texture, contrasted against the crunch of smoked macadamia chunks and candied dessert lime. The caper leaves are an intriguing inclusion. We drink every last skerrick of the mellow macadamia milk.

Snapper ceviche at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Snapper

The snapper ceviche arrives in a forest of greenery. There's a bounty of flavours and textures here, a muddle of celery juice, coriander oil, shiso and white strawberries that work harmoniously together.

Making pork and preserved lemon ravioli at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Making fresh ravioli

Towards the end of service you can often catch staff preparing dishes for the shift. This includes the ravioli, currently stuffed with pork and preserved lemon.

Pork and preserved lemon meatballs at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Pork meatballs with preserved lemon, candied orange and fennel pollen

Pasta making at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Making ravioli 

Ravioli with pork and preserved lemon at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Ravioli

We score three rounds of ravioli, each sprinkled with fennel pollen.

Pork and preserved lemon inside the ravioli at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Ravioli filled with pork and preserved lemon, fennel pollen and candied orange

The petite ravioli pockets are filled with pork and preserved lemon, its citrusy acidity enhanced further with candied orange. It's quite a meaty parcel, the rubble of pork mince contrasting against the silky sheath of pasta.

Finger lime and apple cider at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Finger lime and apple cider $10

And while I'm tempted by the gin station (they have nine gins available), the summer heat calls for a finger lime and apple cider.

Scarlet prawn tagliolini at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Tagliolini, scarlet prawns, bottarga 
(additional $22)

While scarlet prawn season is amongst us in Sydney, we take advantage of the optional course of tagliolini with scarlet prawns and bottarga.

Scarlet prawns with bottarga on tagliolini at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Scarlet prawns with bottarga on tagliolini

The prawns are shelled for eating convenience, although privately I'm disappointed we don't get the prawn heads so we can revel in all its juiciness. It does mean we can maintain some sense of decorum as we twirl the al dente tagliolini strands around our forks.

The scarlet prawn, chopped into a tartare, is sticky and sweet. Across the top are crumbs made from the prawn shell, as well as finely shaved bottarga (salted and cured fish roe). Globe artichokes and zucchini flowers provide freshness and greenery.

Hapuka in pickled daikon radish with katsuo bushi cream at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Hapuka

We're not sure what to make of the hapuka, a strange vision of white, until we push aside the pickled daikon radish sheath to reveal its contents.

Hapuka with katsuo bushi cream and kumquat peel at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Hapuka

Inside is a hunk of hapuka cooked to a melting softness, bathed in katsuobushi cream. Katsuobushi is dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna, similar to the way bonito is prepared for the bonito flakes seen on top of takoyaki and okonomiyaki. There's a definite affinity for citrus and protein here, with kumquat peel added to the cream.

Smoked and roasted quail with blackcurrant glaze at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Quail

Our final savoury course is a clockface of quail, dry aged for three days, lightly smoked and then glazed with a blackcurrant emulsion. The quail is cooked masterfully. I even nibble on the quail foot.

Roasted baby beetroot and a dollop of bread sauce act as support players to the quail main act.

Toasted white chocolate and sudachi ice cream at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
White chocolate and sudachi

Sudachi ice cream, made from the Japanese sudachi citrus fruit, provides the palate cleanser before dessert. It's a huge portion, served on a large plank of toasted white chocolate and covered in yoghurt snow and keffir lime dust. The sweet and citrusy notes and tempered by the cold yoghurt snow, although I think half this portion would be plenty as a palate cleanser.

Italian meringue with coconut sorbet and raspberry powder at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Liquorice and coconut

Dessert is another boundary pusher, a cloud of torched Italian meringue strong in liquorice flavour. It's paired with a quenelle of refreshing coconut sorbet dusted with raspberry powder. The liquorice does tend to overwhelm the coconut but we get around this by eating them separately. The coconut sorbet is amazing on its own.

Frangipane tart petit four at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Petit four: frangipane tart

We finish with rather large petit four, a frangipane tart that has been cut in half. It's quite a large bite but it hits all the marks in flavour, the cake sweetened with a pineapple gastrique and dotted with toasted konbu cream.

Dining room at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney

The revised dining space lends itself a renewed casualness as Zanellato continues to find new inspiration in his Italian-Japanese menu. We like that the dishes change constantly too, providing a great excuse for a follow-up visit sooner rather than later.

Pier dining at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney


LuMi Bar & Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

LuMi Bar & Dining
56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9571 1999

Opening hours
Lunch 
Friday to Sunday 12pm-4pm
Dinner 
Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 6.30pm-11pm
Friday and Saturday 6pm-11pm


Related Grab Your Fork posts
LuMi Bar & Dining (Nov 2016)
2 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/10/2018 12:47:00 am


Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Salam Cafe Ethiopian and Somali Restaurant, Auburn

Ethiopian and Somali food at Salam Cafe in Auburn

Kick start your day with a traditional Somali breakfast at Salam Café, tucked away in the back streets of Auburn. That means spiced lamb liver or chopped lamb with capsicum, tomato and onion eaten with malawax sweet pancakes. Prefer to breakfast Sudanese-style? You’ll be served Sudanese foul, tender fava beans cooked with garlic and cumin garnished with jibna, the Sudanese version of fetta cheese.

Somali bariis mansaf at Salam Cafe Somali and Ethiopian restaurant in Auburn
Somali bariis mansaf $15

The Arab influence on East African food can be spotted throughout the menu. The bariis mansaf is the Somali take on this traditional Arab dish, hunks of tender lamb served alongside basmati rice and salad. The lamb is seriously good, slow roasted so the bones only need a wiggle before they slide out clean. Dunk each piece in chilli sauce – a zingy housemade recipe of green and red chillies with vinegar – and savour between mouthfuls of the fragrant rice, which has been cooked in an aromatic stock and jewelled with raisins. Follow this up with sips of the side soup, clear but hearty, and bulked up with chunks of carrot and potato.

Qay wat beef curry at Salam Cafe Somali and Ethiopian restaurant in Auburn
Ethiopian qay wat beef curry and Somali stewed lamb combo $15

If you’re the kind of person who wants to try a bit of everything, get the Ethiopian and Somali cuisine combo. On one side of the plate you’ll score the Somali bariis mansaf lamb with rice; on the other you’ll travel to Ethiopia with doro wat chicken stew or qay wat beef curry strewn across enjera, that spongy and slightly sour crepe made from teff flour.

Misir wat at Salam Cafe Somali and Ethiopian restaurant in Auburn
Misir wat $10

Vegetarians don’t miss out with a choice of two Ethiopian stews: the shiro wat made from ground chickpeas and peas, and the misir wat made from red split lentils. Both are served on enjera with simmered vegetables and salad.

There’s not much in the way of ambience in the large and sparse dining room but that doesn’t seem to bother the all-male crowd of happy, homesick ex-pats dining in on our visit.

And before you scratch your head over the appearance of spaghetti on the menu, know that pasta or baasto, is a huge part of Somali cuisine as a result of Italian colonisers. Here it’s spiced lamb served on either plain or fried spaghetti

Salam Cafe Somali and Ethiopian restaurant in Auburn


Salam Cafe and Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Salam Cafe & Restaurant
4/6-10 Harrow Road, Auburn, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8964 6609

Open daily 8.30am-9pm


This article first appeared in Time Out Sydney. Read this article online or read more of my Time Out Sydney reviews.
1 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/04/2018 12:22:00 am


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant, North Strathfield

Korean fried chicken, banchan and gamjatang spicy pork rib with potato hot pot at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield

What’s not to love about banchan, those free side dishes served in Korean restaurants? Myeong Dong in North Strathfield, however, steps things up a notch. It’s not just the number of banchan – at least a dozen seems to be standard – but the variety on rotation too. On any given day you’ll score cabbage kimchi, soy-marinated perilla leaves, mung bean jelly, soy bean sprouts, radish kimchi, fish cake slices, simmered lotus roots, stir-fried spinach and more. Each offers variations in crunch, saltiness, acidity and heat, perfect for alternate nibbling throughout your meal. And if you need refills of anything, they’ll do that too. Also free.

Banchan at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield
Assorted banchan on another visit

Seafood pajeon pancake at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield
Haemul pajeon seafood pancake $20

Get the haemul pajeon seafood pancake to start, and revel in a massive disc of prawns, calamari, mussels and shallots, bound together in a light and crunchy batter.

Spicy soft tofu stew with banchan at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield
Spicy soft tofu stew with seafood and banchan

Spicy soft tofu stew with seafood at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield
Spicy soft tofu stew with seafood $10

Don’t overlook the classic simplicity of sundubu jjigae, a spicy soup filled with fresh curds of soft and quivering silky tofu and hunks of seafood.

Beef intestines stew at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield
Beef intestines stew $18

If you’re down with offal, you’ll love the tender chewiness of the beef intestine stew.

Beef intestines at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield
Beef intestines 

Large-sized spicy pork rib with potato hotpot at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield
Spicy pork rib with potato hotpot $56 large

You won’t find barbecue grills here, but you will notice that the majority of diners – Korean families and chattering groups of friends – sharing hot pot dishes, giant vessels set over a portable gas cookers at the table. The gamjatang spicy pork bone stew is a crowd favourite, a spicy soup piled with raw onions, cabbage, enoki mushrooms, green vegetables and sweet potato noodles.

Medium-sized spicy pork rib with potato hotpot at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield
Spicy pork rib with potato hotpot $48 medium (eaten on a 2nd independent visit)

There’s not a huge amount of DIY cooking involved, just some gentle prodding to make sure everything softens as preferred. What you will be rewarded with is a piping hot soup, swollen with goodies. The pork rib bones are the best bit. Don’t even bother going for one unless you’re willing to do it justice by using your fingers to get into every last nook and cranny.

Fried chicken wings at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield
Fried chicken wings $32

It’s not all spice: fried chicken wings, bulgogi beef and hot stone pot bibimbap mixed rice all await.

Bossam pork napa wraps at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield
MyeongDong pork napa wraps $52

The bossam offers build-your-own fun: slices of pork belly ready to be wrapped in lettuce with pickled daikon, seaweed, red capsicum and radish kimchi with raw oysters.

Shrimp potato korokke at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield
Shrimp potato korokke $10

Inside the shrimp potato korokke at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield
Inside the shrimp potato korokke 

Dining room at Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield

Entrance to Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield


Myeongdong Korean Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Myeong Dong Korean Restaurant
2/1 George Street, North Strathfield, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9746 8746

Opening hours
Daily 10am-12am


This article first appeared in Time Out Sydney. Read this article online or read more of my Time Out Sydney reviews.
0 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/25/2018 06:00:00 pm



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