Kawaii Cakes 3

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Cutey Chick and Naughty Bear have a new friend!  Happy Piggie is just longing for a small child, happily celebrating a birthday, to plunge a knife between his cute ickle eyes and cut slices of his strawberry and white cheese mousse (?) delightfulness!

Really, could you make cartoon chocolate eyes which look any more imploringly up at you not to kill him??

PS: This is my 500th blog post! I don’t think I’ll be buying a kawaii animal cake to celebrate though :)

Aqua S, Regent Place

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I finally achieved Aqua S!  I’d visited the week it opened, excited for a soft serve in lieu of lunch on a very warm day, only to find they’d not yet sorted out their opening hours and still had the door closed at 12:30pm.  Much sad face, very sulking.  Tried again a few weeks later, quite late – optimistically – but they definitely aren’t open at 11 o’clock at night.  But at last – the other evening after an early and very healthy dinner at Miss Chu Underground, my girlfriends and I had the whole place to ourselves!  (For about 5 minutes – then there was a ginormous queue.)  It was as ridiculously fun and tasty as I’d anticipated, though I was high on sugar for a good 5 hours afterwards.

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(Skip this next bit if you’re a Sydney food blogger :) You’ll know all this already!)

Aqua S sells crazy-flavoured soft serve ice-cream, in a cup or in a chocolate cone, with crazy sweet things stuck on top.  Their signature flavour is the poisonous-looking pale blue Sea Salt (no one’s trying to kid you that any of this stuff is au naturale, mind) then they have two additional flavours which change every two weeks – a VERY clever marketing strategy to get the food blog & Instagram crowd coming back again and again to document ALL THE PRETTY ICE CREAMS EVER.  An what prettiness!  Ice cream in a cloud!

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Past flavours have included a very popular Taro, Salted Dark Chocolate, Lemon Tea, Tomato (pass), Biscotti, Tiramisu, Strawberry Cheesecake and Mandarin.  The toppings are fun variations on sugary crap: grilled marshmallow, popping candy, caramel corn and the famous fairy floss.  And it’s weirdly cheap: if you get an ice cream plus everything, it’s only $8!  This week’s ‘End of Summer’ flavours are Creaming Soda and Watermelon, which you can have swirled through with the signature Sea Salt.  I had a regular-sized cup (the large would surely kill you) with the Watermelon and Sea Salt combo, swathed in sticky fairy floss, with an even stickier, deliciously carcinogenic, grilled marshmallow on top.

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And the verdict?  We thoroughly enjoyed our concoctions, sticky and ludicrously sweet as they were.  God knows what these things are made of (11 different sorts of sugar and chemicals I’d imagine) but the watermelon one was vaguely like a sorbet (if sorbet were made from crushed up, emulsified Chuppa Chups or Jolly Ranchers) and the other two were creamy, in the more traditional ‘McDonald’s 30¢ Cone’ style.  The sea salt flavour is lovely in the same way I imagine methylamphetamine is lovely.  Such a cheat – flavouring a sweet fatty treat with salt.  How did my poor tastebuds stand a chance?!  Of course it was going to be amazing (and addictive).  I’d be keen to try another swirly combo if they do another vaguely lighter, fruity one.  Too much of the ‘whipped pig fat’ style (did that particular Micky D’s rumour ever have any legs??) would floor me.

So!  Aqua S!  Embrace your inner child (or food blogger) and go there.  It’s so pretty, and oddly inexpensive, and totally worth the hype and the 5-hour sugar high and the sticky hands (and sticky smart phone screen :) ).

2015-03-23 19.53.19Aqua S on Urbanspoon

Gyoza Sushi, Vietnamese Pancake, a Barra Bowl and Animal Spirit Udon

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Dinner at Wagaya Tapas Newtown, featuring amongst other things very spicy tuna sushi, and GYOZA sushi! Yep – panfried pork dumplings INSIDE a maki roll. With Kewpie mayo and renkon chips. So wrong, so good.

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Veggie Bahn Xeo at Dragon Den, Darlo.  Crispy riceflour  pancake filled with lightly stirfried bean shoots and julienned vegetables.  Stuff with fresh herbs and lettuce and dip in the zingy nuoc cham sauce.  So many variations on crunchy and tasty!

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Barramundi noodle bowl and a crispy porkbelly version at Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills. My barra bowl was superb – such a satisfying yet light luncheon. Huge piece of flavoursome fishy with herbs, crunchy veg, vermicelli, crispy things and and more zingy Vietnamese sauce.

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A combination of udon noodle soup styles in one DIY combo: with a barely-set egg (tsukimi or moon viewing), inari tofu (kitsune or fox spirit) and crispy tempura batter bits (tanuki or racoon spirit). And a juicy prawn kakiage or tempura julienned veggie pattie. A ridiculously cheap and nourishing lunch at Dragon Boy, World Square.

Spectrum Playground @ the Domain

2015-03-17 20.39.50 My dear friend Rasta promised me “free things at the thing in the park” on Tuesday evening.  The thing turned out to be Spectrum Playground at the Domain, part of the Spectrum Now food & arts festival.  The entry was free; the entertainment was free; but we didn’t find any free food.  But we found lots of nonetheless delicious food, and had a lovely evening, so the lack of free (tangible) things was not a disappointment. 2015-03-17 18.38.23 We got there before 5:30pm, when things were just starting.  We immediately and most importantly located the Gelato Messina stall, then followed our noses to Philippino chicken skewers from Pinoy.  We then did a loop, grabbed a piece of The Most Famous Cake In Sydney* from Black Star Pastry at the other side of the food stalls, then got a pair of skewers to share.  It was really pleasant sitting at the picnic tables in the park at dusk, enjoying doing something different after work, in the slightly surreal environs of a beautiful park overlooked by giant corporate towers, temporarily filled with ice-cream stalls and tents and fairy light. 2015-03-17 17.52.03 *Rasta being new to Sydney had never experienced the wonder of Black Star’s Strawberry & Watermelon Cake with Rose-scented Cream.  It was a delight to see her reaction as she had her first bite!  It truly is the most beautiful creation.  The edible rose petals and vibrant green pistachio slivers are such a pretty finish.  But let’s not forget the Phillipino chicken skewers – they tasted as good as they smelled.  And excellent first round of foods! 2015-03-17 17.52.20 Round Two was a tough one to choose (beers helped).  We eventually decided we couldn’t go past the Vietnamese Korean Mexian fusion (?!) of Poklol, for ridiculousness’ sake.  We had two soft tacos, one with spicy chicken and one with a whole deep fried dumpling!  I’d recently had sushi filled with gyoza (post coming) which curiously worked OK.  So we thought these fusion creations could be the go.  Unfortunately, the spicy chicken was tasty but not so memorable; the fried dumpling one was disappointingly as wrong as it sounded; and the whole slightly Asian taco thing really was just too odd.  We had a bit of decision regret, having passed on various burgers and baos.  But!  The beer battered fries with zingy BBQ lemongrass pork and and chilli sauce and God knows what else were INSANELY GOOD.  I highly recommend sharing a dish of these (definitely a sharing item if you want to have Black Star before and Messina after and not die). 2015-03-17 18.03.50 2015-03-17 18.04.02 After listening the (free!) band with a nice glass of Yarra Valley pinot noir from the bar organised by The Morrison hotel, we were ready for Round Three: the special Messina creations I’d been hearing about for days, not knowing where they were coming from… 2015-03-17 17.37.34 I wasn’t brave enough to get the Dr Wong’s with duck fat caramel and potato crisps.  Not after the gyoza taco.  No more weird.  I was incredibly happy with my choice of Curdish Delight (though unintentional puns with Turkish and Kurds is probably not Messina’s finest moment of gelato names…).  Rasta only had eyes for the Fully Sik Picnic (bro).  Both of these were predictably fantastic and tasted a kabillion times better than any regular pre-packaged ice-cream.  The lemon zest on my one was a particularly nice touch, really reminding you that this was a freshly made frozen treat. 2015-03-17 19.03.38 2015-03-17 19.04.42 The picnic tables were all full by the time I had to leave and Rasta headed over to see the ‘under the stars’ screening of  Picnic At Hanging Rock, organised by the Golden Age Cinema.  I highly recommend a wander down to the Domain while this cool little festival is still on!

Noodle Soup Lunch XIX

I was reminded recently of the fact that I’d still not tried the miso tonkotsu at Yasaka Ramen, thanks to a tempting post on the ever-reliable B-Kyu blog.  I had an opportunity to visit with Hubby at the weekend, and can now officially state that I have tried all three of the standard-menu Yasaka tonkotsu types!

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Hubby usually likes some heat to cut through the richness of tonkotsu broth, so he was happy to see the new Spicy Ramen with a choice of three hotness levels.  He went for the lowest of the three levels of heat, on a shoyu tonkotsu base, but even at entry-level this one packed a serious punch. We ended up swapping bowls halfway through, as poor Hubby was slightly dying.  I’m fine with spiciness but I’m less keen on such unsophisticatedly hot ramen.  This was just heat from chilli oil and Japanese seven-spice powder.  When giving chilli heat to ramen I much prefer something like the spicy leek & cha shu topping I’ve previously added to my Yasaka bowl, or the spicy miso ‘flavour ball’ in Ippudo’s Akamaru Shinaji.  It was still good though – the shoyu tonkotsu base was the usual Yasaka deliciousness, and the wallop of chilli oil got our metabolisms working in overdrive, thus hopefully cancelling out some of the calories!

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My favourite spicy pickle takana rice, and renkon (lotus root) chips. We’ve become addicted to renkon chips thanks to too many Fridays at Tokyo Bird.  Yasaka’s sadly weren’t served with mayo, but they were well salted and not cooked for too long – you could taste something other than ‘fry’, and could tell it was more interesting than a potato crisp!

I added some cabbage to my miso tonkotsu because I love putting extra vegetables in my fatty fat pork soup.  It also came loaded with corn kernels, plus there were lovely pickled bamboo shoots hiding underneath.  The miso flavour wasn’t too sweet, as some miso ramen are, which suited me well.  It was very much a tonkotsu broth with added miso, rather than a miso-dominant soup.  It was a nice counterpoint to the crazy chilli one too – sharing these two bowls worked a treat!  The special slotted spoon for eating corn without having to slurp soup was too cute to not use.

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There’s a far less crap photo of the slotted spoon on B-Kyu.

I’m still fixed on the shoyu as my Yasaka tonkotsu of choice, but I’m glad to have now had all three, plus I’ve braved the Chilli Challenge!