Westies rejoice! Paper Plane Cafe (5/2 Horwood Pl, Parramatta) is new to the hood and is rocking amazing burgers and all day brekkie!
I admit, I have been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks now. Partly because I didn’t want my secret cafe to be so inundated that I wouldn’t get a seat but also because I wanted to try so many things off their menu which meant multiple visits to Paper Plane Cafe (5/2 Horwood Pl, Parramatta). Open since Feb, the cafe is located opposite the Roxy in the old Ma’Leisia Cafe cafe and isn’t affiliated with the Bondi Paper Planes.
The serve of French Toast ($8), is pretty generous, the 3 slices are fluffy and light and topped with a tangy rhubarb compote, a dollop of creamy french vanilla custard, crushed pistachios and lightly sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar. I may have ordered a side of bacon ($2) because it’s bacon week 😛
The Jalapeño Popper Burger ($12) is amazing. The beef patty is flavourful and has the perfect charred edges to super juicy innards ratio. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked the schmear of cream cheese but somehow it went well with the spicy jalapeños stuffed inside with the tomato and lettuce on Brasserie Bread’s brioche bun. The side of ‘bad boys’ turns out to be mega fat, golden potato chips that are ridiculously tasty.
The BIG Brekkie ($16.95) is massive and could probably feed 2 people. Or one hungry Noods. There were fat rashers of bacon and sunny side up eggs on sourdough toast x 2, a whole mountain of sautéed mushrooms, spicy chorizo, grilled tomatoes, hash brown and a pile of rocket in case you needed some greens.
I was having a mad craving for scrambled eggs that day so ordered the Truffled Eggs ($11). The pile of fluffy scrambled eggs were perfect and creamy with just a dash of truffle oil. I loved the juicy mushrooms but had to nick some of Noods’ bacon because well, I don’t feel right eating eggs without any bacon for brekkie… They go hand in hand ya know?
The Paper Plane Burger ($12.90) was a must order the second we spotted it on the menu because it had bacon AND peanut butter! It was a pretty damn tasty burger, I would say it’s very close to my fave burger ever! Our burger came with cheese although the menu didn’t say it had any but I was grateful because I’m of the ‘every burger should have cheese’ faction. It was super juicy, bordering on that uhoh gonna explode ledge but the brioche buns held up their end of the deal and we finished it without burger juices going everywhere.
The Reuben ($14.50) was sadly not my fave of the bunch. The silverside beef was unfortunately not tender and biting into the sandwich resulted in the whole piece escaping from its breadlike hug as I tried to gnaw off a piece. It was a shame because I loved everything else about that sandwich from the crusty rye bread and sliced pickles, to the swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing. Ah wells.
Drinks come in the standard hipster glasses and swirly paper straws. I must be the only one in the world that hates those paper straws because I take forever in drinking and my straw starts melting… But ANYWAYS the freshly squeezed Orange Juice ($5) ticks all my vitamin needs and while the milkshakes take a while to arrive the double espresso and strawberry ($6) are pretty delicious.
The staff are still in their early learning stages so timing can be a bit wonky so don’t go there if you’re in a rush but I’m glad there’s a new addition to the hood that is serving tops food and open for weekends too (kitchen closes 2pm)!
Rising Sun Workshop, Newtown, awesome ramen and incredible donuts in a hybrid motorcycle workshop/cafe!
Rising Sun Workshop (36 Lennox Street, Newtown) is a communal garage for motorcycle enthusiasts but has recently became known for the ramen bar that is pumping out pretty awesome eats. It’s just around the corner from Mary’s with street parking nearby or if you’re not so lucky, there’s a Wilson car park right next door that looks super dodgy but is $3/hr.
I first read about the ramen over here and here but it wasn’t until I saw on Instagram that if you mention the Rising Sun Workshop’s secret sentence that weekend: “someone throw me a bone here!” that you get an additional topping of roast bone marrow so I made the trek over quick smart! And this, people, is an example of how awesome social media is! Just don’t get me started on people who use ridiculous hashtags. Tch.
We mosey over to an empty table and the ever so cheeky Daniel Cesarano, (ex Single Origin Roasters) comes over to take our drinks order and explain the ramen offerings. I choose Green Tea ($4) and the Green Justice Juice ($4.50) with cucumber, apple, kale, ginger (and I think spinach?) for the boy. I’m not sure why Noods keeps ordering green juices but hey whatever floats his boat. The juice is from Joostice in Newtown, a not for profit juice shop supporting public interest journalism which is pretty tops.
Our first ramen is The Darkness ($20) with a broth made from pork tonkotsu, soy and smoked ham hocks. It is rich but thankfully we’re not left with a heavy oh-god-kill-me feeling. I did feel there was a tad too much soy in the broth but that’s because I have a soy allergy so I’m super hyper sensitive and aware of anything with soy in it. The gooey egg has me in raptures but I’m head over heels in love with the springy noodles with the perfect bite to them.
The Light ($20)- chicken, bonito and 3x salt broth is super comforting. I preferred this over The Darkness because I’m still getting over a cold thanks to my weak immune system and the flavours of the broth felt clean somehow, like it was nourishing my soul with tasty nutrients.
Close up of the roast bone marrow with crispy togarashii panko (chilli pepper and breadcrumbs)! At first I dug out globules of the marrow with the teaspoon, relishing the quivering richness in all its glory but then I mixed the rest in with the ramen which totally amped up all the flavours, bringing up a hit of salt that was missing previously.
Both bowls also had thick slabs of melt in the mouth pork belly, satisfying fat mushrooms, crisp sheets of seaweed and shallots that Chef Nick Smith (ex Single Origin Roasters) placed ever so carefully with each order. It was so calming watching him work!
But ah dessert! How can one resist? The baked goods are made in house and I may have ordered the dessert before the ramen arrived because I was worried they would’ve disappeared by the time we’d finished eating our ramen 😛
Whenever I see donuts I have to get them. Donuts are my weakness bro! Especially Lemon Curd Donuts ($5)! The ridiculously fluffy donut has a very generous amount of sweet lemon curd stuffed inside and each bite took my breath away. Seriously guys, you gotta save room for this donut or take some home with you! I say some because one donut is never enough!
And I managed to score the last fat slice of the Dark Chocolate Cake with Salted Buttercream ($6.50) which was all kinds of amazing. The cake itself was super moist (oh man my fave adjective) with such a tender crumb that I would probably have been fine without the icing but hey it’s me and we all know I have the worlds sweetest tooth (or should that be teeth..) so woot look at all dem layers of fluffy icing! Prepare yourself for a mad sugar coma!
Seating. I loved the chillaxed vibe at Rising Sun Workshop but the fun police aka Marrickville Council didn’t extend the lease for their hybrid workshop/cafe so you’ve got until September to try out their ramen and baked goods! Let’s hope the Rising Sun Workshop finds new digs soon so we can get our ramen fix 24/7!
Japan, Part 4: Cat cafes, giant bowls of udon, Super Potato gaming store, MOS burgers and yakiniku!
Aaaaand this marks the last post from my Japan trip! Writing these posts have left me constantly refreshing airline websites in the hopes for an insanely cheap ticket so I can relive the experience all over again! Seriously guys, it was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had and I barely scratched the surface of what Japan has to offer.
For lunch we were determined to eat a whole lotta meat at a yakiniku restaurant, a japanese DIY style of cooking of meats on a grill. I’m not too sure which restaurant this was because I am fail and forgot to take a pic of the exterior but we were lured in by the signs spruiking Yomogata and Kobe beef.
There wasn’t an english menu so we basically just pointed at pics haha gaijin ordering fail! We were given some dipping sauces and a pot of broad beans mixed with salsa which was totally addictive.
Look at that marbling! Yeah baby yeah!
That sweet, glorious scent of fatty meat searing away ermahgerddd!!
We were in Shibuya for random shopping and buying last minute candy gifts and spotted signs for Cat Cafe Hapineko (Cratos Building (3rd floor), 2-28-3 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo). I wanted to go to a maid cafe instead but Noods wanted to see exactly what a cat cafe was and since we were right there we climbed the stairs and made our way to the reception area. 30 mins in the cafe was 500yen/$5.25 not including tax and you have to order a drink off the menu for another 500 yen/$5.25.
AND THEN COME THE RULES. First shoes had to be taken off (which is pretty much a given anywhere in Japan), jeans had to be rolled up above the ankles, we could only bring our phones and cameras into the room so bags had to be left in lockers, we had to read and agree to the rules on which cats could or couldn’t be touched let alone picked up AND THEN head on over to the cleaning station where you have to follow very specific instructions to wash your hands in the order of disinfectant, water, soap and hand sanitiser and drying with paper towels.
I can totally understand all the rules though cos the cafe does get pretty busy with a lot of curious tourists and the cats do look pretty well taken care of. There were about 10 cats wandering around that day but half were sleeping and the rest were either super shy or just cbf playing with humans. If you guys visit, pay the 150yen/$1.60 for the cat food and the cats will show a bit more interest in you.
You get a designated area on where to sit and where your drinks arrive but really you can still walk around after the cats. The place was super warm and cosy and felt like someone’s living room! So many cat knick knacks and heaps of photos, books and toys all over the place. The size of our drinks (green tea and Calpis) were quite large and came with some biscuits.
Here kitty kitty kitty
When our time was up we reluctantly left the warmth of the cafe and wandered over to the Hachikō statue where I made a fool of myself.
As it was our last day Noods was super determined to eat udon and spent the night before googling where to go while I apparently sleep-talked in my sickness induced coma. We took the train to Tokyo station (15mins on the JR Chuo Line) and I very grumpily lagged behind as Noods attempted to find Tsurutontan (2-7-3 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Tokyo Building (TOKIA) B1F), a famous restaurant specialising in udon. We were walking outside in the rain for a good 15mins before we realised the restaurant was underground bah! Luckily by the time we found the restaurant the queue wasn’t too long and we were seated pretty quickly.
WOOT GIANT BOWLS OF UDON!!! The bowls were big enough to bathe a small child! I felt so sorry for the waitresses cos the bowls are damn heavy.
After doing his homework Noods told me to order the Creamy Zanmai Oudon (1800yen/$18.80), Tsurutontan’s specialty creamy udon with prawns, tender chicken pieces, super fat scallops and cod roe. Luckily (or not so luckily) the bowls aren’t filled to the top, the portioning is pretty spot and I only just managed to finish it all. It was pretty damn tasty and my insides felt warm with happiness.
Noods ordered the Shabuniku no Oudon (1500yen/$15.65), a sweetened soy sauce flavoured soup with meltingly tender Japanese beef loin and topped with a gooey egg. The noodles had the perfect bite to them and the soup hit the umami note spot on. It wasn’t the prettiest presentation but it was comfort food to the max! Good work Noods!
Since we were in the area we headed to Super Potato (5F, 4F, 3F, Kitabayasi Bldg., 1-11-2, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo), an incredible 3 level retro gaming store.
Unfortunately the store was about to close so I didn’t have time to snap more pics but each level was filled with all the games of my childhood that you could purchase and even old gaming consoles like Atari! Plenty of plush toys and keychains galore and on the 3rd level there was a whole row of old skool arcade games that Noods was dying to play.
I managed to fit in a couple of MOS cheeseburgers that day because they are freaking awesome with melty cheese, a juicy patty and super squishy soft bun! So obsessed with how glorious these burgers were! And golden onion rings are so much win!
Also tried the cheeseburgers at Lotteria but wasn’t as blown away as I was with the MOS burgers. It was still a tasty burger but I felt it was tad greasy.
Oh random lego pic and lol I dyed my hair black in the hotel room in preparation for my brother’s wedding the next day. Felt like a criminal doing an identity change!
The End! Oh Japan, how I miss you. Words cannot express how much I felt so at home! The food, the people, everything! I will be back, oh yes…
Japan, Part 3- Tsukiji Markets, Ichiran tonkotsu ramen, mega Gundam, 7-11, Hello Kitty and vending machines!
So yay our third day in Japan and it was time to visit the famed Tsukiji Fish Markets! But woe is me, the alternation between walking outside in mega coldness to overheating in the department stores led to me coming down with a cold. Luckily my taste buds were still intact at this stage so first up, brunch!
The train to image imagesmall from Shinjuku (Toei Subway Oedo Line) took about 30mins and somehow we managed to immediately enter the restaurant area near the wholesale fruit and vegetable market, just inside the main gate off Shin-ohashi Street. I refused to wait hours for the famous Sushi Dai and chose to join the shorter queue (still a 45mins wait!) at Sushi Ichiba instead.
Slide your way into the teensy tiny restaurant and let the chef know what you want or in our case we pointed at the picture menu and said onegaishimasu. I was craving rice for some reason so we ordered the Set X donburi (3000 yen/$31.30) which is a bowl of sushi rice topped with assorted sashimi (tuna, fatty tuna, kingfish, squid, hamachi, prawn, eel, aji (horse mackerel) arc shell (red clam) and salmon) and also came with fluffy tamago (egg omelette) and a little tub on the side filled with ikura (salmon roe) and uni (sea urchin).
While we were eating the donburi, Set A (3800yen/$39.70) aka the 15 piece Omakase, was assembled on the banana leaf in front of us, one sushi at a time (yes this pic only shows 10pieces but he put the other 5 in front of Noods and I totally forgot about taking a pic). The proportion of fish to rice on each sushi was pretty awesome with only a teensy pat of rice to mega slice of fish. Each piece is perfect and I hear angels singing in the distance. The marbling on the fatty tuna is ridiculous so you know it’s going to be silky soft and fatty ermahgerd <3
Aaand because we are greedy guts we also ordered Set D (3750yen/$39.15) because hey, when would we next get the chance to eat such amazingly fresh sushi? The tuna in Japan kicks any tuna I’ve ever tried in my life to the kerb, the taste is just fricken unbelievable! We’re also given complimentary miso soup and green tea which helped bring feeling back into my frozen limbs. Unwilling to leave the warm comfort of the restaurant we slowly (and carefully!) make our way out to see the rest of the markets.
It was a pretty crummy day, freezing cold and drizzling rain and with me being sick and grumpy I took a pathetically small amount of photos which I totally regret now. Bah. We wandered the market gawking at all the fresh produce and street food for sale.
I wanted to buy this entire shop filled top to bottom with the prettiest cups, bowls and plates!
I’ve never seen fresh wasabi root before!
Aaaand soft creams (soft serve ice creams) galore! I tried the Hokkaido milk, cheesecake, biscuit and my fave, TOFU! It tasted like tofu-fa! Sweet, smooth and creamy.
We went back to the hotel for a nap since it was still early morning, then armed with multiple layers of clothing we walked back to Isetan to Miyagawa Honten Unagi Restaurant on the 7th floor. I chose the bento box (2855yen/$29.80) because it’s like ooh, variety! And ooh, food segregated in compartments! The eel is rich and buttery soft and I immediately regret not ordering a larger portion of eel. There was also teriyaki chicken, sashimi, tofu, salad, pickled veg, eel dashi soup and rice. But nothing as amazing as that eel!
Noods had ordered Unagi Don (2775yen/$29) and I was immediately jealous of the massive portion of eel and stole not so sneaky bites to supplement my bento.
Peered into the kitchen to watch the unagi being cooked over smoking hot coals.
IT’S A GIANT GUNDAM! We trained over to Yurikamome (Daiba) Station to DiverCity Tokyo Plaza (〒135-0064 Tokyo, Koto, Aomi, 1−1−10) to see the 18m high Gundam statue. It’s pretty epic! We didn’t stay for the show which I think is only at night.
I’d seen the Hello Kitty store at Harajuku but hadn’t wanted to queue but luckily there was one at DiverCity! Of course where there’s soft serve that’s where I’ll be so one matcha and vanilla soft cream with a Hello Kitty Kongariyaki pastry (280yen/$2.90) for me!
Noods was only a little bit hungry so ordered a kids size tonkotsu ramen which was pretty decent with a rich soup and springy noodles.
A bit of shopping and a quick gawk at the 7-11 stocking so many delicious and perfect looking foods. Like seriously! The foods at 7-11 in aus ain’t that spectacular you know? Squishy, mishappen lumps! But here? Everythiiiiing is aweeesooooomeee! Yes I must be the last person on earth to watch the lego movie.
Sushi! Onigiri! Musubi!
Sandwiches filled with random fillings! Custard cream buns!
The drinks in Japan are ridiculously cheap and lol Noods fangirled at all the cheap whiskeys.
Whereas I couldn’t tear myself away from the ice cream section. Look at those perfect swirls!
The texture of the ice cream did have a bit of a gummy texture to hold its shape I’m guessing but squee look at that packaging so my hands don’t get messy from any drips!
Headed back into the city after several more hours of shopping and somehow stumbled onto this brightly coloured ramen restaurant. It was only when we walked down the steps that we realised we had somehow found Ichiran, a famous tonkotsu ramen restaurant chain.
So make your selection and pay at the machine, sit down at your individual booth, circle your preferences (ramen hardness, amount of shallots etc), push a button and a waitress appears and your ticket is taken away. I included the toilet paper shot from their bathroom cos lol, can you ever have enough toilet paper?
Aaaand eating like a nigel! Haha well you can fold the dividers away so you’re not isolated from your friends. Love that each booth has it’s own tap to provide filtered water and that they drop the bamboo curtain down for privacy!
The egg was just a tad overcooked but other than that it was a pretty tasty bowl of ramen! I’d selected firm noodles which was perfect because I like a bit of a bite and the slices of pork had an awesome melty fat to tender meat ratio. The broth had a good balance of richness and thickness that satisfied but didn’t overwhelm and push me into oh god my heart is gonna kill me territory. So yeah based upon my meagre ramen eats I’d totally rate Ichiran as my fave! (Yes, yes, Muteppou holds a special place in my cholesterol laden heart).
Ok I really need to talk about vending machines. They are EVERYWHERE. It’s so freaking convenient how many there are. On the streets there will be groups of them sitting all in a row, selling different brands but similar types of drinks from soft drinks to water and all the randoms in between. Caffeinated beverages come in all colours, shapes and sizes, with coffee by far being the most popular.
At only $1 each, Noods wanted to try all the weird looking ones that I couldn’t decipher which resulted in some hit and misses. I was on the hunt for corn potage aka corn soup which miraculously is kept hot in the vending machine. It’s pretty amazing and even had corn kernels on the bottom! Onion soup was another warm can that tasted eerily like french onion soup. I liked it but kept burping onion later… the green tea was refreshing but the banana drink blew our mind even though we normally hate banana flavoured things cos it tasted exactly like a banana paddlepop ice cream! The vending machine in our hotel even had alcohol beverages!
And then there was this machine in our hotel that sold meals… Considering a lot of places are open till the wee hours of the night I’m not sure who would buy the meals in this machine. Except us because, curious. Heats up in 7mins the box proclaimed! Just pull the string! Well with instructions like that, how could we resist? Out of the 5 choices in the machine there were 4 different curry meals and 1 weird looking vegetable soup. So Noods of course picks the soup. The picture of the soup didn’t look too promising but hey maybe appearances are deceiving?
We pulled the string and immediately the sound of bubbling began and we cautiously backed away a couple of metres in case it exploded. Several mins later the bubbling ceased and we carefully tore open the packaging to be greeted with this. There was a giant tentacle submerged in there that freaked me the hell out, a fat slice of lotus root, some miscellaneous vegetables, seafood and tofu skin all bathing in a herbal tasting soup. Oh and an egg which looked a little too perfect that I had to question the amount of preservatives used…
The capsule toy machines were sneaky little buggers, we’d save all our change at the end of the day and pick random machines to get toys and ended up spending quite a bit in the search for the perfect keychain! Side note, I love how recycling is super important in Japan! Next to each vending machine there were specific bins for cans, bottles and even bottle lids! One more post for Japan and it’s gonna be a doozy about cat cafes, giant bowls of udon, yakiniku and mos burgers so stay tuned 😀
Hartsyard (33 Enmore Rd, Newtown) is incredible. Fried chicken! Short Ribs! Poutine! Aaaand soft serves!
OH HAI! So like, if you follow me on Instagram you’d have seen the epic eats from over the weekend to celebrate my day of birth 😛 It started with amazing eats from Bentley Restaurant at their new digs in Radisson Blu Hotel and a crazy meat fest at Papi Chulos in Manly. And sandwiched in between these 2 incredible meals there was dinner with Helen and Richard at Hartsyard (33 Enmore Rd, Newtown) which just about blew my mind.
But first! A beverage to kick off the night! The Smoked Caesar ($18) is pretty full on with a shot of Finlandia vodka, clamato juice, smoked tomato and just the right amount of HY hot sauce to set my mouth a tingling but not on fire.
The Crispy Pig Tails ($21) are generous sized croquettes where each bite is mostly a blast of porcine fat which basically equals happiness in my mind. There was also a river of creamy buttermilk dressing that had me scraping the plate for more and wishing I could just drink it with a straw…
The Fried Chicken ($29) is a must order. There was a drumstick, thigh and a mega sized piece of breast meat with shatteringly crisp, golden batter encasing super juicy innards. I loved the sausage gravy which reminded me of good ol Texas but the buttermilk biscuit was a tad dense and I wished it was fluffier. There’s a bottle of house made hot sauce on each table which was pretty darn tasty and not overly spicy and we ended up swiping bits of food with the hot sauce all night.
When the Short Rib ($35) arrived we all cooed at the sight of the puffed beef tendon covered in an addictive Pyengana cheddar powder, cos I mean, hey, puff! The puff was so light and airy but it did have a bit of resilience in it so when I pulled off a piece of the puff, the cheese powder flew everywhere because it’s me and I’m special like that. The short rib was meltingly tender and conveniently pre sliced! Oh and the side of cauliflower helped delude me into thinking I wasn’t eating something terribly unhealthy.
Our lovely waitress suggested we order the Roast Carrots ($18) or Broccoli ($23) but the mention of vegetables made our eyes glaze over and instead we ordered the Lamb Ribs ($29) because of the promise of cornbread which luckily tasted like buttery awesomeness. There was a fairly large amount of meat on them bones and a thin creamy layer of delectable fat, all covered in a lip smackingly tasty bbq sauce.
The Poutine ($29) pushed us over the edge into food coma territory with batons of golden fried potatoes, a mountain of braised beef shin and the whole shebang covered in a decadently rich beer and cheese sauce.
And then it was onto the famed Hartsyard desserts! I stalk pastry chef genius Andy Bowdy on Instagram and lust over his creations each week. The Peanut Butter + Banana Sundae ($18) tasted like the power of a thousand rainbow unicorns! It was truly glorious and set my heart aflutter with each spoonful of peanut butter ice cream, banana donut, fresh slices of banana and lashings of salted fudge.
Behold, the Hartsyard Soft Serve of the day ($14)! Cookie dough soft serve, raw cookie dough chunks, milk chocolate dip, crushed M&Ms, salty chocolate fudge and whipped cream. How can your soul not smile at this childhood flashback?!
While our booking came with a 2 hour window we didn’t feel rushed at all and I really appreciated the staff taking the time to explain all our dishes to us. I really love Hartsyard and want to go back and eat everything on their menu!