地産地消・Food Tourism

May 6, 2018

The latest food trend is super local food tourism. Led by Chefs like Rene Redzepi of Noma and Ana Ros of the Hiša Franko.

I have never talked with Rene or Ana nor dined at neither of these establishments so I can only talk with my perception of what information there is in the media and with second or third hand information about Brisbane Chefs that have worked at Noma, so some might rightfully be appalled for me to compare or even talk about my humble ramen shop in the same page as these super stars but I wanted to talk about it. Honestly, I think what they are doing is great and I love their passion and it is inspiring but I don’t envy them or idolize them at all. I know what my concept is and I think we are on the same plane in the context of providing a delicious food experience, but we are on the opposite sides of the spectrum.

Noma and Hisa Franko, they strictly stick to super local produce and forage for the ingredients themselves. Of course ingredients are fresh and by foraging, they are able to embrace the wild flavours sometimes unavailable in commercial or domesticated farmed ingredients. Chefs know the ingredients deeply so it is super traceable. The down side is, as a customer, you are paying for Rene and his superstar chef team to forage wild ingredients. This is super inefficient, so uneconomical and basically goes against why man planted a seed in the beginning to start farming. Of course the food mile on the plate is super low but to dine at Noma and Hisa Franko, customers are travelling super long miles to get to that table and forking out a fortune for the meals. Of course this is all good and I would love to dine at these restaurants once in my life and that is what it is, an once in a life experience to travel and immerse yourself in what the local land and sea has to offer, presented by the experts of the land, through a culinary experience.

The reason why I fell in love with ramen is because it was so delicious and affordable at the same time. It’s made with bones that would have been thrown away and have no prime value and the plating is so systematic you don’t need Academy trained Chefs or silverware, linens, back office staff to take reservations or in the case of Japan, cashiers even. You cue up in the line, once inside, put your money in the ticket machine, wait for the cooks to assemble the soup, toppings, noodles in a few minutes, eat, clean your bench, and leave, vacating the seat for the diner behind you. Easy it is, but delicious it is… That soup has been meticulously calculated and perfected time and time during the history of the shop or maybe even longer when you consider the added history of any mentors the shop owner might have had. The charsiu has been boiled and marinated to perfection, the egg has been intricately prepared, all the hours of hard work, condensed into the single bowl and yet, due to the simplified process and efficiencies you can enjoy it for less than your hourly wage. You can afford to enjoy it every day if you wanted to.

We don’t forage but I also believe in local produce like local shallots, sprouts, organic eggs, where possible and where it is important. The freshness is great and often irreplaceable. but in some instances, we use frozen produce like Edamame. Pork, my good friend jolly Pat drives it up from Bangalow weekly so my hundreds of customers don’t have to travel 300km. Well it’s a balancing game. I like to make my own noodles using locally milled unbleached flour with our small noodle making machine and that is less efficient compared to purchasing large scale factory made noodles. So I think, to my customers, just as Rene is to his customers, I am being a trusted expert to be the guide to combine various quality ingredients and passion to produce an experience but in my case, we factor in economy so that I can provide an every day food experience. The dollar value of this everyday experience is of course a fraction of the price of a meal at Noma and so I am able to offer this to more people on more occasions. So it gives me great satisfaction in providing so many local Brisbane people with an authentic delicious but everyday food experience. And the accessibility and repetition creates a relationship. During the 8 years of serving ramen to Brisbane, I have seen babies born, kids grow up, and even a few regulars pass away. I feel a strong connection with my customers and when I see a top haute cuisine chef talking on the media or receiving an award with their proud expressions, I somehow feel happier than them and reinforce my belief in keeping at what I do.

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Master Chef Recommended Ramen!!

February 28, 2015

Some of you have asked which ramen Master Chef, Adam Liaw had and instagrammed at the BrisAsia – Taste of Asia Food Festival on Feb 27th.

It was the Red Tonkotsu Extra Thin Noodle with Extra Smoke Ajitama.

To be honest, as much as Adam loved our ramen, we prepped a tad too much for the event so we are currently putting the same menu on special at the City Shop to commemorate the honor!

Deluxe Tonkotsu Ramen Super deal for 13.90 or 14.90 for Red/Fire.  Comes with unlimited extra noodles, extra soup, extra charsiu, extra Smoke Ajitama.  Come in before it runs out.

https://t.co/67Kr6JQ39S

Thanks once again Adam for the kind recommendation!


Bird Cage @ Woollongabba

November 25, 2013

Don’t know why but I have not explored this part of Brisbane too much. Dropped in Bird Cage at Woollongabba for lunch today. Initially came across this place in an article in mustdobrisbane. The picture of the tasting platter lunch with 5 bowls of goodies enticed me to check them out.

Have to say I was not expecting too much as many new places have left me disappointed and the classically fitted out restaurant inside the same heritage building as Enoteca was eerily quiet from the outside. Walking in, we notice the huge ceiling fans humming harmonically and a few young chefs rhythmically prepping probably for their dinner trade. We were offered to choose a table of our fancy and we decided to take the comfy looking tall segmented booth seats.

The lunch options are attractive at $19 per dish and we ordered one of the tasting plate $19 and one of the Thai beef salad $19 as well as the lunch special beer on tap Asahi $6 and Cricketer’s Arms Lager $6.

The tasting plate had pork belly on kimchi and cucumber salad, salmon cakes on green papaya salad, greens w mushroom, chicken and eggplant yellow curry. The pork belly could have been a bit more moist and the Asian greens a tad sweet for me but the salmon cake, super! And the chicken in the curry, perfection! The eggplant I like a bit softer but the contrasting texture among the ingredients (chicken juicy sous vide? Onion, sweet and well cooked, eggplant slightly hard) showed care in the cooking. I savoured the dishes and ordered extra rice$4 to polish everything off.

The beef salad featured a decent sized sliced steak grilled medium and a very spicy papaya salad.

The desert share plate ($19 including two coffees) consisting of intentionally crunchily battered banana fritters and rich coconut ice cream and caramel gritty textured salted caramel sauce finishes off the meal in a decadent happy way. The coffee was very good too!

I imagine that the place is busier and livelier for dinner but having the grand restaurant to ourselves, hogging the comfy booth seating and taking it all in, this lunch was probably the best 73 dollars I spent for lunch in a long time. We shall be back!

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BirdCage on Urbanspoon


Ortiga @ Fortitude Valley

November 25, 2013

Was fortunate to be able to score a table at Ortiga before their closure last month.

I was very keen to repay a visit since chef Pablo mentioned us to an interview he did with the Virgin Airlines inflight magazine. Recommendations from fellow chefs/restauranteurs are the ones that I am grateful the most.

Pictured, the inch thick wine list, inspiring dishes delicious and beautiful. My favorite was the eel dish with elegant espuma and lamb tongue with apple-slaw and garlic flower.  The lamb shoulder was as fall off the bone as rumoured and the tanginess of lemon puree and delicious juis, great.  The desert with dehydrated buttermilk was awesome too! Open kitchen in full steam yet composed, and a final pic with Pablo.

Very sad to see such a world class dining venue getting acclaim but the Brisbane public not following.  I also regretted that my visit had to come at the trigger of their closure news.  In the end, I would like to think better late than never and my wife and I were glad and felt fortunate that we were able to experience Ortiga.  A truly memorable evening.  Thanks Pablo and the team!

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Bird’s Nest @ Westend

November 23, 2013

Finally! A yakitori restaurant in inner city. Damn good too! Using charcoal imported from Japan and free range chicken. Range of good sake and wine too.

Umm, I still think I do a decent job of my own yakitori but the quality of Bird’s Nest compared to the fuss and mess… Hey if you find me at their place sneaking a skewer once a week, that doesn’t mean a thing…

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Bird's Nest Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Sourced Grocer @ Teneriffe

February 14, 2013

Sourced Grocer on Urbanspoon

Dropped in Sourced Grocer in Teneriffe.

Exciting little fresh produce shop with cafe specializing in local produce made with attention and care. Owner Jerome’s point of difference is sourcing out passionate producers and running his own truck to collect the goods himself to bring it to his customers. The shop is small but organized and stylish. The coffee is good and the deli showcases all the great produce sold here. We had the sourced sandwich, a iced latte and took home some Bangalow Cheese and cultured butter, and fresh fruit and veg.

Chatting with Jerome and great to see a business like his thriving. We share a common philosophy of truly believing in the quality of what we sell and enjoying it at the same time. I have always been keen to increase the amount of organic produce we use so seeing if he can help me source some organic shallots.

Just a few of the brands that I picked up.
Blendale Organic Poultry
The Original Bangalow Pork
Bangalow Cheese Co
Pepe Saya Butter
Brambah Organics (Dairy)
Cup Coffee
Choquette Breads

The sandwich was delish. The bread is wholesome and fills you up. Juicy sweet tomatoes, ripe avos, salad, the dressing is yum and the Bangalow ham and the aged Swiss or jarlsberg cheese also very nice. Coffee by cup in westend is sweet and aromatic.

Also inspired by the open warehouse style setting and decor.

オーガニックや小規模生産者の商品を中心に取り扱っている八百屋兼カフェ。置いている商品を盛り沢山で詰め込むサンドイッチは新鮮ヘルシーでうまい。コーヒーも美味しく、店の雰囲気も楽しくて超オススメです!

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Oktoberfest

October 14, 2012

Came to the festival for the first time. Yes I admit, the catch copy of “you had me at pork nuckle” was the persuading point.

Tried all three biers. Lager, wheat and dark. All very good. A festival with German tap beer as the main spot light. It’s good stuff.

Sausages supplied by Goitzinger. Purchased the Frankfurter and Bratwurst. Brat looks appealing with pepper and herbs and frank looks relatively bland but the frank is about the smoking. The meat and skin are crispy having had enough moisture taken out through the process. Both very good though. The knuckle was perhaps more a novelty. I am sure I can do much better considering the potential of the meat. It’s got all those good inter connecting cartilage tissue that would turn into great gelatinous moist chunks of meat as long as its been cooked properly. The meat was roasted too long and skin was dehydrated and even the insides became a bit dry. And the seasoning ha not seeped in enough. Still an exciting dish to have in front of you with cold beer!

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