kaiseki :: sasaki, sydney

Ma. The concept of Japanese minimalism. Shibui. The aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty.

Everything about Sasaki is delicate, minimalist, has beauty and purpose, and of course, the finest ingredients are precisely and proudly cooked, plated and presented.

We had the “omakase” menu, which translates to ‘leave it up to you’, the chef. A degustation of sorts.

Plump pretty oysters (Oyster, Akazu & Mandarin), silky subtle scallops(Scallops, Celeriac & Kombu), a joyously wobbly savoury custard with poached prawns (Egg & Prawn), delicate slices of fish with dipping sauce & condiments (Bonito, Apple & Ponzu), crunchy tempura asparagus with farm fresh corn purée (Asparagus, Corn & Matcha), pinkest of fish with pops of row and mushroom rice (Ocean trout, egg Yolk & Ikura), rare duck – not my thing – (Duck, soy, leek) with soup (egg in bonito broth) and choice of desserts (choux pastry and mango sorbet).

It’s a true, Tokyo-esque kaiseki style restaurant in a hidden inner Sydney city laneway.

Kanpeki. 充実. Perfection.

hartsyard | restaurant review



To celebrate Jay’s birthday last week we went to the newly hatted Newtown restaurant Hartsyard.


A work colleague Sheena has long been urging me to go, as it’s co-owned by one of her school friends and is her fave restaurant, so I have to admit I had high expectations.

The restaurant is all about community; the food is made to share and indulge and the space is intimate and dark with rustic wooden furniture, candlelight.



“Increasingly, Newtown is becoming Brooklyn to Sydney’s Manhattan, its people and places rejecting the bright and flashy for the neighbourly, the communal and the free-range.”
-SMH review [here]

We had a little trouble with the service; the wait-staff were so busy chatting to regulars that it took them 15 minutes to take our first orders and I’m not a fan of holding a table’s wine at the bar especially if the service isn’t on the ball. If I order a bottle of wine I would like to pour it when I want it!
We went a few days after the newly appointed ‘hat’ so I have a feeling everyone was a little too cool for themselves, so we’ll have to see how their attitude changes over the coming months…

The service is a shame though, because the food is amazing.
The menu is broken up in ‘Seed‘ (little bites), ‘Feed‘ (more substantial share plates) and ‘Out to Pasture‘ (dessert).

Hartsyard Manhattan
Hartsyard Manhattan

The Hartsyard Manhattan is an ingenious cocktail; bacon-infused Jack Daniel’s with sweet vermouth, bitters and maple syrup. Delicious!

The wine list is short and succinct with all the good varietals. We order a bottle from Gippsland in Victoria; 2012 Moondarra Beurot Pinot Gris. It goes perfectly with our food selections…

Oyster Po Boy
Oyster Po Boy

Seriously so good! Hint of sweet brioche little slider-like buns with a deep-fried oyster, house-made hot-sauce and coleslaw. I could eat a hundred of the Oyster Po‘s and it wouldn’t be enough!

Crispy Pigs Tails
Crispy Pigs Tails

These little crispy patties are filled with rich, meaty piggy tail meat. They’re served with pickles and a sweet & sour chutney-mustard.

Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken

How can you go wrong with Fried Chicken? It’s super crispy and the chicken meat is succulent and tender. It could do with some seasoning. And it’s served with a good old American style ‘biscuit and gravy’. Yum.

Iced Vo-vo
Iced Vo-vo

A nice touch on Jay’s dessert; a bright sparkler! The Iced Vo-Vo is a menu special and it seriously tastes exactly like Arnott’s Iced Vovo! EXACTLY!
It’s a generous serving and could easily feed two people! We ordered another dessert so they wrapped up the remainder to go.

Peanut Butter + Banana Sundae
Peanut Butter + Banana Sundae

This.Is.Heaven. Banana doughnut-dumplings dusted in sugar smothered in salted fudge, chocolate sauce and pretzel icecream. The second best dessert I’ve ever eaten. Ever.
(winner of best dessert goes to Justin North’s Becasse Banana Parfait)


33 Enmore Rd, Newtown

memorable meals

Food glorious food.

How I love to eat!

And I’ve eaten some delicious fare of late, which I thought I’d share with you.

some have been delectably healthy…

51120138419 green smoothie made with coconut water, kale, celery, apple, cucumber & mint

5142013143845 make the best of this seasons ripe creamy avocado; with lettuce, tomato & salmon

6172013214128 I’ve been experimenting with the paleo recipes.
I created paleo chicken nuggets; chicken mince, coriander, chilli, shredded coconut & then rolled in coconut flour & air fried in my Philips AirFryer!

617201321412 snacking on roasted almonds with Japanese chilli salt & paprika and coconut oil

And then the not so healthy…

6122013201432 celebrating my husband’s success (uni post-grad) with Bollinger champagne and homemade coleslaw & American-style pork ribs!

530201315265 a socialicious dinner party with friends!

614201303054 a French bistro style dinner with my girlfriends (I ate the meal on the top right; duck & celeriac mash) at Felix at The Ivy

But it’s not all about me….Harley bear had a birthday! He turned 3 years old and he had a birthday party with a few doggy friends at the dog cafe. He had a delicious lunch of mince, rice & veggies and a dog friendly birthday cake!!!


What memorable meals have you eaten of late???

moo gourmet burgers | restaurant review

Jay’s pick for October Dinner Club with the Jacksons was a last minute call, chosen for it’s location close to the city and sticking with our years theme of ‘cheap & cheerful‘!

Moo Gourmet Burgers on King St Newtown is a fun, casual, quirky cafe that servers burgers, sides & a couple of desserts. It’s also licensed so you can order beers, the odd cocktail & wine.

They have 19 burgers! That’s right – nineteen! Plus they cater for vegetarians and even have a mini-moo menu for kids.

Moo couch
Moo interior
Moo courtyard

[all pics above via]

We all meet after work and sit ourselves in a big communal table. You order at the bar and drink our beers while we wait for our orders to arrive.

Jay & I both order the Big Moo burger although I have mine with no egg.

Big Moo
Big Moo (no egg)

The burgers are GIGANTIC! And believe it or not it’s only half the size of the Deluxe Moo! The perfect burger tower is filled with 100% Aussie Angus beef pattie that is as round as the bun, cheddar cheese, free range bacon, free range egg (for Jay), pineapple, beetroot, tomato, mixed lettuce leaf, home-made mayo & tomato relish. The bun is rustic style with no sweetness. The burger tastes and looks like a really good home-made burger. It’s awesome!

Ian orders the Classic Cheese Burger which has the Angus beef pattie, cheddar cheese, tomato, mixed lettuce leaf, home-made mayo & tomato relish.

Classic Cheese Burger

Janine goes for the chicken option and orders the Chicken, Avocado & Bacon Burger which comes filled with grilled free-range chicken breast, avocado puree, free-range bacon, mixed lettuce leaf & home-made mayo.

Chicken, Avocado & Bacon Burger

We share a couple orders of Cheesy Bacon Chips & Sweet Potato Fries which could stop your heart simply by looking at them!

Cheesy Bacon Chips
Sweet Potato Fries

We sit, digest & catch-up for a while before ordering dessert to share; a Moo Split which is a tempting boat of banana, icecream, chocolate syrup, crushed nuts, whipped cream, smashed Crunchie & Snickers with a cherry on top. We are in diabetic heaven!

So as a true burger lover I can, with 100% conviction, say that this Moo burger is better than Grill’d!

If you want to try it out here’s the details:

Moo Gourmet Burgers
232 King St, Newtown NSW 2042 | 

dinner club | june

For juicy dinner club in June, Jay chose a little cheap eats Mexican Cantina Y Barra in Surry Hills called El Loco which is located in the Excelsior pub.

Jay & I meet Ian & Janine there mid-week after work and fail to get a seat inside, it’s freezing but thankfully there are outdoor heaters over the tables, and after a few issues one of the barmen gets ours working! Hazzah! 

El Loco is the most recent venture from Sydney’s most eligible bachelor & businessman, Justin Hemmes who owns the hottest bars and clubs all over Sydney.

It’s a fun cantina-style space, with Mexican wrestling posters, random colourful artifacts nailed to the walls and a no-booking policy. You just rock up, order at the counter and take your table number. There is a huge range of authentic tequilas, a small but good selection of beers (more in the hotel bar though) and a few specials on the board in addition to the menu.

El Loco on the street
El Loco inside

[above two pics via]

our cactus table numbers
beers & tequila

We all share some chips & salsa

chips, guacamole & salsa

Ian & Janine both have hotdogs. I’m not sure about the authentic-ness of a Mexican hotdog, but it looks deliciously cheesy! And we giggle as we joke about the extra long sausage!

Grilled pork Frankfurt served on a soft bun with pickled jalepenos, pico ge gallo, mayonnaise and cheese $9

Jay & I share a selection of tacos. $5 each and they are small, perfect morsels of soft taco with little layers of the most flavourful ingredients like chargrilled pork, prawn or shredded chicken, coriander, avocado and tomato/corn salsa.

selection of tacos

taco Left – Pollo – chicken, sweet corn salsa
taco middle – Camaron – prawn, salsa verde, pico de gallo
taco right – Al Pastor – spit roasted pork, pineapple salsa

We all chat animatedly as we happily munch away on our Mexican and then headed off for some hot chocolate in Glebe before calling it a night.

Food: great, tasty & fresh. good cheap eats!
Service: order at the counter canteen-style with young & friendly staff
Atmosphere: relaxed but loud. A great place to pop in and meet friends after work. You can even get takeaway.
Value for money: excellent. $25 a person with drinks!

El Loco Cantina | Excelsior Hotel, 64 Foveaux St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

monkey magic | dinner club four

Japanese fusion was on the menu for Ian’s pick for April’s Dinner Club.

Monkey Magic in Surry Hills is a beautiful space; it’s industrial but warm; an open warehouse feel with a mix of concrete and wooden floors and exposed wood ceiling beams.

the entrance stairs
the main dining room
downstairs entrance lounge



For Jay’s starter he has sushi roll; it’s so good I have food envy!


raw tuna, avocado,cucumber, anchovy crumbs, orange zest and spicy sauce

For Ian’s starter he has Japanese Skewers:


assorted skewers of prawn, chicken, cheese and vegetables

Neen and I shared duck pancakes:


wholemeal pancakes with roasted duck and hoisin sauce


Ian & Neen both have the pork belly:


it’s served with with wilted cabbage, sweet potato and “yakiniku” sauce

Jay and I both have the chicken:


it’s served with with sweet corn, baby spinach, speck, miso butter and candied orange

we all share some side dishes


The steamed greens come with a citrus miso dressing, and the salad is mizuna, radish and baby beetroot with yuzu dressing.


My absolute favourite!!! Edamame with pink salt and crispy renkon chips!


Neen & I share dessert; it’s actually not that good. The flavours, chocolate and apple, don’t compliment.


frozen meringue cream with sable biscuit, apple puree and chervil

Ian has an experimental trio of mini desserts with a sesame theme. He’s not a huge fan of his dessert either.


creme caramel, profiterole and biscuits

Jay has sweet spring rolls and he loves them. He definitely made the best choice!


with creme chantilly and green tea ice cream

Monkey Magic | 3 & 4/410 Crown Street  Surry Hills NSW 2010

They currently have a great deal – 20% off Mon-Thurs.

Food: 3 out of 5
Atmosphere: 4 out of 5
Price: 4 out of 5 (with the 20% off) 

a question a day in may | three

Day 3 question

Where’s the best place you’ve ever eaten?

This is a tough one. I do consider myself a bit of a foodie and I’ve eaten at some amazing restaurants (just see my Soul & Stomach page) so although it was a lovely trip down delicious memory lane, I have narrowed it down to three (only 3!) meals;

  1. Picnic on Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays; it was our honeymooon and from the resort we were dropped off by helicopter on deserted Whitehaven Beach for half a day. We swam in the crystal blue water, ran around starkers in the sun on the fine white silica sand and ate tasty treats from our picnic basket (prepared by the resort chef) which included Moët, cheese, fresh bread, fruit (pawpaw, mangoes, strawberries & watermelon), cashews, half a lobster, some prawns and oysters, salad and various sandwiches. Amazing.
  2. Dinner in Paris; After a long day of sightseeing we found ourselves in Trocadéro (16th Arrondissement) as the sun was setting. From there you have a view straight down the gardens (Jardins du Trocadéro), over the Seine and directly to the night-time-glittering Eiffel Tower. We took a table outdoors at Cafe Le Malakoff and had apéritifs (Kir Royal!), steak frites (for Jay) and the most amazing lobster salade (for me)! We finished with some fromage (cheese) and crème brûlée. It was an impromptu dinner and it was one the of best meals ever.
  3. Dessert at Becasse; My favourite restaurant in Sydney used to be Becasse. Justin North (exec chef & owner) outdoes himself with each dish. I say “used to be” because he has changed locations and mixed it up a bit with the philosophy; he now has Becasse (not the same menu), Quarter 21 (where you’ll find similar dishes to the old Becasse) and Etch. Jay & I ate at the original Becasse twice for our wedding anniversary and my friend Mandy had her hen’s night there (very classy no penis straws or strippers insight!). We haven’t been to the new Becasse or Quarter 21 but we ate dinner at Etch in December. Along with Quay’s Snow Egg, the most delicious dessert has now moved from the Becasse menu to the Quarter 21 menu. It is the famous & delicious Banana crème brulée, salted peanut brittle & milk coffee sorbet. [image via]