Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wagyu Ya

Disclosure: I was invited to dine at Wagyu Ya as a guest

In a time in Melbourne where the dining scene is taking a turn to smart casual, with share type dishes, exciting and bold on flavours, or if more upmarket, elaborate and delicate and tweezer-ed to high heaven, where do you go for a meal with just lush ingredients at their best?

We found it at Wagyu Ya in South Yarra. 

Wagyu Ya specialises in…you guessed it, top grade wagyu, grilled on their 'smokeless' Japanese charcoal grills. But more than that, as we discovered, is that there's a lush range of Japanese food, with some items that would leave you hard pressed to find anywhere else!


The restaurant is divided into and upstairs and downstairs area, downstairs houses a small sushi counter and a handful of tables…but it's really upstairs where you want to be, with the charcoal grills filling the air with their delicious aromas.



Unlike typical Asian barbeque's, the grill at Wagyu Ya is considered 'smokeless' as rather than utilising a exhaust to suck up the smoke, there's a ring that fits around the perimeter of the grill and sucks the smoke through the sides. It's quite fascinating to watch, and it really does noticeably cuts down the amount of smoke. I was surprised when I went home that none of my clothes actually smelt of smoke!

But I'm jumping the gun a bit here, let's start at the beginning with our entrees. 




And wow. What a beginning! A real sashimi showpiece, a stunning display of colour. I hadn't realised how long it had been since I last had sashimi, and goodness, it was fantastic to be reunited, especially when it was so lovely and so fresh! Generously cut slices of fish were meaty, yet sweet, and the scallops just lazily slipped into the mouth, melting onto the tongue. Glorious.



Adorable pots of chawanmushi warmed us up again, smooth and silky. 


Chicken wings were rich, succulent and just so juicy, with a seasoning that added just a touch of heat. 


Wagyu Ya's version of steak tartare was exquisite, with finely cut strips of wagyu, a glorious magenta colour, with a golden yolk, combining together beautifully. A sprinkle of sesame seeds and chopped spring onion brings an Asian twist to this dish. 



The fusion of rich products and Japanese cuisine continued thereafter with a decadent serve of wagyu beef sushi, tender, tender strips of wagyu that just melted into the mouth, marinated in an absolutely delicious sauce. The meat just melted in your mouth, just beautifully fatty. 



And if you thought that was lush, cast your eyes onto the foie gras sushi! I simply couldn't believe my eyes! Although absolutely stunning, with a gorgeous smooth texture, I felt the flavour was a little restrained with this and didn't get the full richness I expected…although the next dish made up for that…tenfold!



This foie gras rice dish, came topped with shavings of truffle as well and once it hit the table just oozed into the air with decadently rich aromas, which quickly left me swooning. Once our photos were taken, they proceeded to mix everything up in the dish together the fatty foie gras melting into the rice, leaving a slick feel to the lips afterwards, which had you licking it up for more. Goodness, what a combination. Talk about a luxe comfort dish! I would quite easily just visit Wagyu Ya just to have this on it's own. 


Wagyu Ya's selection of wagyu is seriously impressive. This is the serve for two, which initially surprised me with how big it was, but by the time you cook it, it does reduce a bit as the fat oozes out. Mmhmm.


For curiosity sake, this is the serve for four people, which when we saw at the end of the night almost bowled us over just by it's sheer size!



It was great to try all the different cuts, each delicious in it's own way, whether it be from melt in the mouth texture, or rich meaty flavour. The definite star was the 10+ grade cuts we had, and it was amazing how much you could tell the difference by tasting it. Wagyu Ya recommended that we had it last after all the other cuts, as it's richness would overwhelm everything else…and they weren't lying! 


To finish, our night wrapped up with some lovely serves of green tea cheesecakes, with crumbly biscuit bases. Not too sweet, just the perfect note to end on. 


Believe me, we were rolling out of there. It's a decadent and delicious feed, which comes with a relatively big price tag, but for some absolutely top product. Previously I had never really understood the hype or interest in Asian barbeque, but it's really about how the meat's prepared for you, sliced so thin and infused with the smokiness of the charcoal and at Wagyu Ya, it's done well. 

Wagyu Ya
156 Toorak Road
Toorak

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Boss Pizzeria


This sign just makes me so happy. I love food, and I love eating and I'm wholly in for eating like bosses. None of this say you love food and push food around the plate, own that love, eat like a boss…someone on twitter did say that's what I do best….



Boss Pizzeria is a new addition to Camberwell, perched right by the station, in a cosy little corner shop. The space was much smaller than I imagined when I had read about it on Broadsheet, but it was very cute. A couple of high benches, a few tables inside and long communal tables on the footpath which are going to be awesome in summer. 

If you ask me.


With the wood fire oven roaring away in the kitchen, it's obvious what to order here. However, we're quickly convinced to give their 'Boss Board', an antipasti platter, a try. For $15 for two, it's hard to pass up, and we're rewarded with a phenomenal spread of beautiful cured meats, crisp wood fired flat bread, sweet gorgonzola drizzled in balsamic, roast capsicums, olives and mackerel (or sardines? I forget). 



I absolutely love it, usually Brad and I order two pizzas if we go to a pizzeria, however ordering one pizza and a plate of antipasti definitely lightens the carbohydrate load and adds quite a bit of variety to the meal. Definitely recommended.



But let's not forget the star of the show either. Our Amante Della Carne pizza, smoked buffalo mozzarella, san marzano tomatoes, Italian sausage, pancetta, shaved ham and salami on a gluten free base is gorgeous. Although loaded with loads of meat, it's all balanced well and topped with some restraint so that it doesn't weigh down the pizza. The meats themselves are absolutely delicious, juicy sausages, crispy salami; bliss! And just the right amount of melted puddles of cheese. 

Absolutely nothing to dislike. 

Although they're still waiting on their liquor license, Boss Pizzeria is a solid addition to the neighbourhood. I also quite like they're just across Burke Road from East of Everything in the meantime, where Brad and I skipped over to for a chilled out beverage to help us digest all the goodness in our bellies. 

25 Cookson Street
Camberwell

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Two Little Pigs

On a cool, but comfortable Sunday morning, 3 little piggies and their partners went out for brunch. Jo had organised a brunch catch up for herself, Bryan and I, and our partners at Two Little Pigs in Brunswick. 


For whatever reason Two Little Pigs had been completely off my brunch radar, perhaps because it's in the north and I tend not to pay attention to that side of town because I'm dreadfully lazy, but once Jo brought it up, and I had checked out the menu that was on offer, I couldn't wait for the weekend to roll around!

As the name might suggest, the cafe is mad for pork, with sausages and cured meats hanging across the room as you walk in. 


I was initially worried as we walked by that there would be no space for an impromptu table of six, but fortunately there's a relatively spacious courtyard with bigger dining tables, and some darned strong heaters, which I made sure to curl up next to…Brad can deal with the cold…right?




Coffees and hot drinks came in cheerful yellow crockery, coffees looked smooth and my chai was hearty and rich. 

The upside to doing brunch with six people, even if it can be a bit hit and miss in regards to finding a table, is being able to see and try lots and lots of dishes. 




The tall white boys of the table needed their fill, and opted for the 'Two Little Pigs', which really wasn't all that little! A giant plate of free range eggs, thick cut bacon, house made sausage, duck fat mushrooms, spinach, mashed potatoes and apple chutney, the plate must have been double the size of my face! With bleedy poached eggs, the boys chowed down their their plates, Brad completely finishing the lot with a satisfied lick of his lips. I assume all good.


Jo and Bryan's partner, Fatbee (as he's called), went for 'Pea's & Ham', a serve of crisp roasted pork belly, with poached free range eggs, green pea veloute and some sourdough toast. 



What a stunner this was! In aroma, in colour, and in the audible crunch that conjured food envy with each bite. I loved that the guys at Two Little Pigs weren't afraid to push the boundaries for 'breakfast' and really dish up something really interesting, and maybe a touch rich, but that's what the fresh pea veloute is there for. 



Bryan opted for a lunch dish, the pork belly waldorf sitting on the fence between healthy and decadent, with roast pork belly, celery, royal gala and granny smith apples, walnuts, egg yolk mayo and preserved lemon. The pork belly looked fantastic, and although the 'salad' looked relatively simple, it was insanely delicious. The yolk mayo really adding a delightfully rich edge to the freshness. 



And what did I order? Uh well, one of the few dishes without pork. What's wrong with me? Who knows. But goodness, I still left happy. My 'Bubble & Squeak' with poached eggs sitting on a chickpea fritter of braised beef, caramelised onion, truffle oil and corn kernels was comforting, with creamy fritters and the strong aroma of truffle tapping you on the nose. Delightful, and not overly heavy. 


I had recently read that if you have low blood pressure (mine's relatively on the low side), that eating salt tends to help, so when I saw the duck fat fries…well Bryan was an enthusiastic supporter and with six people to share the load, it was even more difficult to resist!

They weren't as crunchy as I was hoping they might be, but they had that moreish flavour, with a wee bit of parmesan shaved over the top, that meant Bryan and I couldn't stop picking at it!



To wrap up, we got brunch dessert (again, six people, sharing the load, good times!) which was one of the specials of the day; Nutella doughcakes with strawberry butterscotch ice cream. They were so fluffy, and as the name suggests, are made up of quite a lot of dough. I definitely could have gone for more nutella inside, but overall, still very tasty and something different to your average pancake. 

From not knowing anything about Two Little Pigs, I left absolutely besotted with it. I love a menu where every item on it has me excited, as there's so many different things on it that I haven't seen before. But more than that, it's beautifully presented and deliciously executed as well. I'm intrigued by the charcuterie, and although I don't think I could make the commitment to have it for breakfast, I do hope to meander down for a late lunch to give it a go sometime. 

Two Little Pigs
146 Sydney Road
Brunswick 3056

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