Caravan, Kings Cross (London)

I have been remiss in updating this blog from the London front! To be honest, I can't quite keep up with my own pace of eating over here.

Caravan is a large warehouse-style cafe hidden behind Kings Cross St Pancras station.  My friend had warned that it would be busy for brunch on the weekend, and indeed we had to wait for about 45 minutes (believe it or not, that is quite reasonable for London standards - every good place has a long wait!).  We put our mobile number down for them to call us, grabbed a takeaway coffee from their takeaway section at the back and then sat by Regent's Canal to admire the traquil water (this was back in October, before it started to get really cold!).

Before we knew it, my phone was ringing and our table was ready.  Inside, the place was hopping and the tables packed close together.

We had some juice to start off with.

Watermelon, apple, mint juice (£4.50)
Orange juice (£3.50)

I was very disappointed that my first choice of dish, the crab and spring onion omelette had sold out for the morning! So I satisfied myself with the following:

Wild boar sausage (£4) - this was really tasty, I could have probably eaten five

Beetroot vodka cured salmon, goats curd, orange, fennel and toast (£8.50)

The dish was quite refreshing and clean tasting.

Aubergine puree, poached eggs, yoghurt, sumac, toast with soutsouki sausage (£9)

We both agreed that the wild boar sausage triumphed over the soutsouki sausage which was a bit hard and dry.  The aubergine puree didn't pack the flavour punch that we were after.

Since I didn't get the crab omelette, I had to have a dessert.

Pecan tart

Would I come back?  Probably not.  I liked the atmosphere and I am glad that I visited, but the food was a bit average on taste.

Caravan Kings Cross on Urbanspoon

Sokyo, The Star, Sydney

Guest blogger edition

As part of my birthday, I was lucky enough to be taken out to Sokyo - the one hatted restaurant at The Star! Sokyo is kind of a modern Japanese fusion cuisine and I had read a lot of good things about it and was very eager to try it out. Located on the ground floor of The Star, the restaurant itself is very professionally done (as you would expect from a restaurant of this calibre) and the service was top notch. As I'm a bit more budget conscious these days, mainly eating at local eateries instead of fine dining establishments, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Sokyo. 

Knowing that the meal would not be a cheap one and with no degustation menu on offer, I spent a lot of time perusing the extensive menu. I wanted to get the best for my money! haha. It was a difficult task as I wanted tasty, interesting dishes but also dishes that would be filling. With the number of options in the menu (there was separate sections for Sashimi, Tempura, Robata, Essential dishes, Soups, Salads, Sokyo Nigiri, Sokyo Sushi rolls as well as Traditional nigiri and sushi rolls) there was a lot of discussion to be had before we decided what to order. Lucky for us, our waiter was super helpful and guided us on what we should order ( 1- 2 dishes from the first few sections and then nigiri and rolls to finish off if you're a big eater) as well as answering our questions on the menu. FYI Robata means from the grill and chu-toro is a better grade of  toro (fatty tuna). Both of the toro sushi options were unfortunately unable on the night which may have been a good thing as waiter mentioned that 1 piece of such sushi currently had a market price $15. I'm glad I had a lot of it  in Japan when I was there! The waiter can also design a menu for you if you give them your taste preferences and budget but we opted to select ourselves. Turned out we ordered the right dishes as many of them were then given to the table next to us who requested the waiter design their menu!

Finally we decided on the dishes to order. 

Hokkaido Scallop Yuzu Honey w/ onion, capers, crunchy miso, yuzu honey ($18) - a tasty dish with subtle flavours - the honey wasn't overpoweringly sweet and the crunchy miso. capers added a nice texture.

Snapper and Spanner Crab Spicy soy w dried shiso, capers, spicy white soy ($20) - wow! this dish was mouth wateringly delicious! I'm a sucker for crab and snapper in general but the flavours in this dish was just so awesome! Although the crab taste was very slight, the seasoning made up for it - I wanted to eat the whole dish myself!

Moreton Bay Bug Tempura w/ green papaya, pomelo salad, sambal mayo, black pepper amazu ($26) - bug meat I think has a very light taste and I thought this dish (although done well) was a bit bland for my liking. The tempura batter and oil was just too much for the poor bug meat. The sauces were perfect for it though.

Kurobuta Pork Belly w/ spicy shirodashi, yuzu kosho ($14) - this dish was tote amazeballs - omggg, honestly one of the best pork bellys I've had in a while. Amazing seasoning and perfectly grilled pork bellys with the right amount of tenderness, fat and grilled-ness (if you know what I mean). When I first saw this dish, I thought the whole skewer was pork belly and pork fats, unfortunately, sandwiched in between each piece of pork belly was a block of radish (which I thought was a nice fatty piece of pork >_<!!)

DengakuMan w/ caramelised miso cod, japanese salsa, cucumber salad ($38) - I remember having miso cod before at Nobu in Melbourne years ago, and this dish was just as good if not better. Melt in mouth pieces of flaky succulent fish marinated in a sticky miso sauce - yummmmm. The cucumber salad was also very refreshing after the rich flavours of the fish. This is one of their signature dishes.

Queensland sushi roll w/ spanner crab, spicy avocado, soy paper ($21)  - This was a bit of a strange dish, a bit bland with little crab flavour. Although my taste buds may have been distorted by the rich flavours of the previous dish. This is also meant to be one of their signature dishes. The soy paper wrapped on the outside was the first I've seen this on a sushi roll and I'm not sure what to make of it as I couldn't really taste it and the texture was like soft nori - I think I prefer the traditional nori wrap.

Chocolate peanut butter fondant w/ vanilla icecream ($14) - at my partner's request, they wrote happy birthday on our dessert and lit a candle for me :) The choc fondant was cooked perfectly but I thought could have done with more peanut butter flavour!

A great meal overall and the bill at the end was quite reasonable. I highly recommend anyone to dine there. If you do, remember that you as a member of The Star's absolute reward membership program you can get between 10-30% off the bill! Membership is free so it's a no brainer to sign up and enjoy the discount! (unless you have a gambling problem - I am in no way promoting gambling just the discount you can get with the card).

Sokyo on Urbanspoon

Fine Food Store, The Rocks, Sydney

Guest blogger edition

Birthdays only come once a year so it's best to spend it doing something you really enjoy, and for me that's hanging out with loved ones and eating nice foods. On this gorgeous Saturday morning, we had plans to visit Taronga Zoo and so decided to eat around the Rocks area before catching the Ferry there. A quick search online saw the Fine Food Store pop up as a popular breakfast spot in the area and so we ventured there. Not an easy place to find, but the Rocks area is a fun place to walk around on weekends anyways, bustling with tourists, markets and historic architecture. We eventually found our way to the cafe which is located at the ground floor at the very end of the Rocks centre. 

Funky decor makes the place quite cozy and the cafe doubles as a gourmet grocer with interesting items on sale around the shelves. There is seating outside but we chose to sit inside near the window where it became a tad warm during our time there.

A decent menu with not too many crazy options but enough variety to satisfy everyone I think. We placed our orders at the counter, grabbed our number and before too long, our food and coffee was delivered to our table.

Chicken Chorizo on turkish with caramelised onion, roma tomato and Sicilian salsa ($12.50) - nicely toasted, and flavours were there. A bit small on the portion - would have loved to have more chorizo

Homemade spicy beans with poached eggs, and chimichurri on sourdough bread ($12.5) - generous serving of beans and eggs poached to perfection. Slight spiciness to the dish.

Coffees ($3.50 ea)

A pretty cool place to have breakfast if you are in the area.

The Fine Food Store on Urbanspoon

Masuya Izakaya, Sydney CBD

Guest blogger edition

After a long week of work, we decided to have a quick and light meal before calling it and heading home. Masuya Izakaya is the new-ish restaurant opened up next to their bigger sister restaurant Masuya on O'Connell street in the city. 

Arriving at around 630pm, the place was pretty quiet with only a few small tables occupied. I always love izakayas as they not only remind me of Japan (such a great holiday destination), but also the fact that they're great for gatherings with friends where you can snack on delicious food, drink beers/sake/umeshu and chat till the cows come home. As a solely dinner destination, it was OK too.

The menus we received were quite extensive, but too tired to think too much on the menu, we just chose some vanilla options. We ordered the Wagyu Bento, the Karaage chicken curry and the Grilled squid from the specials menu.

Curry with Karaage Chicken ($14.50) - while it doesn't look that appetising in the photo, it was definitely delicious!

Wagyu Beef Bento ($19.80) - an OK bento box, much the same as the one from their sister restaurant. Bizarrely there was a deep fried 'money bag' that you normally see as an entree in Thai cuisine. The beef itself was nice but slightly over-grilled which made it a bit tough.

Grilled Squid (~$16) - very nice grilled flavour. Only downside was there was some boney thing in one or two of the pieces? not exactly sure what it was...

A nice izakaya, as evidenced by the group of japanese business men behind us having a blast when we left. Whilst not immediately impressed by the food, I would come back again to try more of the skewer/grilled options as well as their alcoholic beverages :) 

Izakaya Masuya on Urbanspoon

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