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NZJoe's Profile

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Quebec City Trip Report

I just finished a short trip to QC. I had read on this web site that L`Echaude was a great bistro and I was just after good simple bistro fare (steak frites etc). L`Echaude was not bad, the appetiser or red deer tartar was pretty good. Main course of boudin noir wrapped in filo pastry with pork belly was tasty but so oily and rich. There was no vegetables on the plate except for an insipid, lumpy, pale green pea puree. If the pork belly is brined into a ham, then they should have mentioned that on the menu description because this just made it to oily and salty. My partners main course of Onglet steak frites came with chips, confit onions and strangely, some mediterannean vegetables that had been grilled and skewered...? Why can`t they just use some local seasonal vegetables (in winter like parsnip, brussel sprouts etc?) We finished the meal off with a mediocre creme brulee. I think the thing that really saved this place from being considered "bad" in my books, is that because we ate after 9pm, we were given a 21% discount, which made the average food all the more tolerable.
To NYE, we had gotten a booking at Le Hobbit based on a recommendation from a friend. The restaurant has a nice little dining room but they seemed a bit run off their feet with the dozen or so tables. For an appetiser I had a poached egg with white, local asparagus and fresh truffles. The egg and the asparagus was cooked perfectly but the dish could have benefited from a touch more salt and some form of acidity, but pretty good nonetheless. My partner had a saffron risotto with local snow crab and bisque. This was very nice. To the mains, things got bad. I had avoided the lamb shank with chocolate, chilli and malt but had gone with the mackeral with herb salad, focaccia and citrus dressing. This was not good at all. The focaccia had soaked up a lot of oil at the bottom of the plate and then the chef had had the bright idea to throw another lump of butter (about 2T worth) on there for good measure, as if I was going to just eat a big lump of butter. The citrus dressing was strangely sweet and the fish although well overcooked, tasted fresh. My partner`s main course was so bad that she couldn`t eat it. And she is not that fussy. It was scallops with endive, celeriac puree and sea urchin. Sounded nice but the scallops had not been sauteed in a hot enough pan so they were pale and rubbery, the endive had been cooked with some kind of liquor like gin and the sea urchin was in the form of a puree that had dried instantly onto a hot plate and just crusted over. When we the told the server, he was very apologetic and asked if we would like a free dessert but we just wanted to leave so they have us a 15% discount but really for a meal this bad, they should have not charged us at all for the mains.

So just a warning that though these restaurants do fare pretty well on this website, they are not always at the top of their game and I will definitely not be recommending them to anyone.

Jan 01, 2014
NZJoe in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Fredericton...

I`m from out of town, been living in Tokyo and Sydney last 5yrs so Fredericton food scene is a bit of a shock to me. I was happy to see there are a few ethnic eateries and especially Korean as I really do love a good bowl of kimchi jiggae. My partner and I had a few recommendations for Naru Sushi so gave it a go. I really don`t know why Korean people come here and try to make Japanese food. I guess it`s much trendier than Korean but Naru was poor. The rice was bad, seafood not fresh (including canned crab meat), and just a confusing, muddled, embarrassingly westernised menu. Only good thing was the salmon, which the waitress told us oddly was imported frozen from Japan (strange when some of the best fish is only an hour away here) only to have the owner come over later and say it was local.
One good one is Bulgogi on King street. I know he serves Japanese food too but if you just stick to his Korean fare it`s pretty good. I know the decor is a bit tacky and it`s usually deserted but the bibimbap and different soups and stews are really tasty and authentic.
Chez Riz- not bad.
Snooty Fox- good fish n chips but took 45mins and terrible, terrible service. Come on, customers pay your wage guys, if you don`t treat them well they won`t come back.
I know its a small town but there`s a huge gulf between the food scene in Montreal/Vancouver/Toronto etc compared to here. The produce is fantastic, just need a smart restaurateur to bring the goods.

Jun 13, 2013
NZJoe in Atlantic Canada

Photo Etiquette

So you take photos of paintings in art galleries, arsemaniac? I`m not saying food is art, but a lot of the time, chefs put just as much work and thought into a dish as into a masterpiece. It`s entirely up to the guest to choose to take photos or not, but why not just show some respect for the chef and enjoy the food the way it was intended.

Jan 31, 2013
NZJoe in Japan

Photo Etiquette

How would you feel if you created an incredible and amazingly fragile dessert like the Rugin Specialite Pre-dessert: -196ºC Candy Strawberry with 99ºC Strawberry jam, only to have some very lovely and appreciative person go and take a photo, even for 30 seconds, which would affect the integrity of the dish immensely and then eat it and go, "Oh, not bad"...?

Jan 30, 2013
NZJoe in Japan

Photo Etiquette

I often see Japanese people photographing food. I know it places like Ryugin and Narisawa the chefs hate it. They are right, you should just enjoy the food in the state it is presented to you without taking time photographing it. Plus who wants to see what Jimmy ate at some restaurant I`m never gonna go to so why is he showing me this?
Just enjoy the food, you pay the money so its for you to enjoy, not for people you are showing photos to.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukdoK3...

Jan 28, 2013
NZJoe in Japan

Where can I buy Unagi Pie (Pai) in Tokyo?

Have had this a few times as an Omiyage from Shizuoka, can`t get enough. They have a VSOP one now too which is awesome. Does anyone know if you can buy it anywhere in Tokyo?
Thanks

Jan 26, 2013
NZJoe in Japan

WHERE TO GO FOR Tsukumen Ramen ?? Tetsu or Rokurinsha

Haven`t tried Tetsu, but Rokurinsha is off the hook, best ramen I have ever had. I went at 3pm on a tuesday and waited 30mins to get in, totally worth it.

Jan 26, 2013
NZJoe in Japan

Top Gaijin eats or Non-Japanese foods in Tokyo

Yep thats the one, 1000¥ for a sausage...and nothing else on the plate.

Sep 30, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Top Gaijin eats or Non-Japanese foods in Tokyo

Just went to a great Thai place last night. It`s called Tuk Tuk, in shin Ogikubo. Take the north exit from the station and walk to the left. Go past the Seiyu and walk about 3 mins. Its a small place on the left. Has about 15 counter seats, husband and wife team running it. No english menu but there are pictures. I just asked what they recommended and got the green curry, tom yum soup with chicken and vermicelli noodles and a vietnamese omellette. The tom yum was the best I have ever had, you could smell the lemon grass while they were putting it in the bowl. Green Curry was a little different from I have tried before, its like they put a lot of fish sauce or something in it, anyways its damn good too. Omellette was pretty good but nothing amazing. Only 2200yen and fed 2 people, portions are not as small as peppermint thai in Kichijoji or any others I have tried in Tokyo. I would highly recommend this for a casual lunch or dinner when you`ve got a craving for authentic Thai. It was a bit spicey too, but not overly so.

Another good place is a Korean joint in Koenji called Karaboo. They specialise in the bbq pork, which is good (unfortunately they don`t do the grilled rice with the pork fat after the bbq). The chichimi is the best I have ever tried, also the kimchi soup is good and the bibimbap too. Service is 10 out of 10. Really friendly and helpful and when you leave they give your clothes a light spray with a clothing deodoriser, now thats service.

Sep 17, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Top Gaijin eats or Non-Japanese foods in Tokyo

Or the pate and cornichon baguette at Aux Bacchanales, very, very good but go with an appetitie and have some fries too. Viron brasserie is excellent, haven`t had the sandwiches down stairs but the bread served with the meal was decent. Japanese sirloin with jus, fries, roast vegies and creme brulee for dessert, all top notch, and a nice bottle of red, can`t beat simple pleasures like that.

Sep 17, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Top Gaijin eats or Non-Japanese foods in Tokyo

I went to a Laos place in Kichijoji recommended by Robbie Swinnerton, very highly, and man did it disappoint. I would not trust his reviews at all.

Sep 17, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Eccentric three days in Tokyo

OK I`ll reply to my own question- I checked out Hachi after mr Redzepi`s and Bourdain`s recommendations. It was very, very good. Very busy, we sat at the bar but that was ok because the chef/owner was a friendly guy and showed us some of the produce he was preparing and his knives too. There was no english menu but there is one online (Gurunavi?) so we got that up on the iPhone and were able to order all the famous dishes, plus there was an english speaking waiter who was very helpful and recommended a few other dishes. We had the clay pot rice, fatty mackerel (dried overnight) this was probably my favourite, pork in ginger sauce (another good one), sashimi of the day, tempura veg (just ok), ham omelette with soup (weird dish, was not bad) and the 8-vegetable salad. They also helped us choose some nihon-shu too which were great, from Niigata I think. It was very busy and pretty rowdy crowd, good place to come and have some really top-notch food with your alcohol. And friendly service too. Bill came to 11,000yen.

Aug 17, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

L'effervesence

check out Reverance or Florilege both 1 stars with French influence. Or Quintessence if you are willing to spend the dosh for it

Jul 15, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Your Favorite Yakiniku in Tokyo for Wagyu, Kobe, Matsusaka, Horumon, etc?

I`ve been introduced to high-end Japanese yakiniku by a real enthusiast here. We have been to Yoroniku twice, which is in Nishi Azabu, about a 1min walk from L`Effervessence. It absolutely blew me away. I can`t elaborate on the cost as I didn`t pay but don`t think it would be cheap (think 10-15k for 2people with drinks) but damn its good. We get a set dinner which starts with 3 cold condiments (kimchi, cucumber etc) and 3 cold meats (finely sliced kimchi tripe, just barely seared fillet, and seared beef dice in a marinade) then comes the different cuts of Japanese beef which differs in its place of origin everyday depending on quality. Was from Shinsyu one time and Hokkaido the other. The waiters usually cook the beef for us but you can too if you like. It is incredible melt in your mouth, perfectly seasoned beef. There is no slightly odd taste to the fat like you get with Wagyu in Australia, you feel like you can sit there for hours just eating these thin, seared, glorious morsels. There is usually heart (which is a nice lean contrast), tongue, and last time we had stomach. All amazing. After comes cold soba in a very light dashi, this is the perfect cleanser and refresher. Then dessert which has been simple icecream or shaved condensed milk ice. And tea of course. The beers here on tap are served so cold that just below the frothy head there is the barely noticeable slushy sensation which melts just enough when you drink it for it to not be a nuisance. Also a good selection of shochu and Nihonshu.
The restaurant is very elegant with good service but there is no english spoken or english menu. It is hard to find, very hard, how even Japanese know about this place- I don`t know. It doesn`t have a sign outside and is set slightly in from the footpath. There is just a grey curtain in the doorway which you duck under and then proceed down a few stairs to the restaurant. One big tip is it is right next door to a Mini-Stop convenience store, and about 7-10min walk from Omote Sando station.
Yoroniku 6-6-22 B1F Nishi Azabu ph. 03-3498-4629
They are only open for dinner but not sure which days sorry.

The next great place I have been to is called Ebisu Champion Penthouse. This one too is fantastic maybe just 1point below Yoroniku. The flavours are a little more full-on and beef slightly fattier. They specialise in their marinades which are incredible. You cook your own beef here. It starts with cold condiments (cucumber, kimchi etc) and hot korean braised beef in a light broth with daikon-can`t remember the name, and salad with an awesome dressing and raw marinated beef served in tin foil (so you can cook it... your not supposed to- thats just the law now that they can`t serve raw meat thats not intended to be cooked). Then the beef, and there was a lot. It was all incredible and in such a great marinade. It gives it this slightly beurre-noisette, soy, caramely flavour. The only offal we had was intestine which was ok but needed a little seasoning. For dessert was Anin Doufu which was delicious and perfectly set like a good pannacotta. And Jasmine tea. I really liked this place, nice restaurant, good service and the meat was great. Somewhere that would be great to come with some friends and have a few drinks and fatty beef.
Ebisu Champion Penthouse 9F 1-9-3 Ebisu 150-0021 ph. 03-5784-0029. Its from the East exit of Ebisu stn, turn left at the Koban and it is accross the road on your right on the corner of the main street and a small side road with lots of guys outside trying to get you into their restaurants.

Jul 08, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Eccentric three days in Tokyo

Has anyone been to Hachi in Minami-Aoyama? It was on the No Reservations Cook it Raw Japan episode and looks like pretty good, casual but traditional fare. I looked it up and it sounds reasonably priced, just wondering if anyone has any personal experiences of the place?

Jul 07, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Sydney Restaurant Choices - Advice appreciated

I think if the food and service is good, and good value, then a small tip is a nice thing to do. But remember that the kitchen staff get a VERY small share of that tip, if any. They usually get 10-20%, then the rest goes to the FOH (which i believe service standards in Aus are far below the rest of the world) and sometimes the owner will take 10% for breakages etc. I think the only exception to this rule is Rockpool where the tips are shared evenly, good ole` Neil eh?

Jun 30, 2012
NZJoe in Australia/New Zealand

Tokyo Restaurants - Jun 2012 part 2

Does anyone know what nights they are open? I can`t read the website

Jun 30, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Tokyo Restaurants - Jun 2012 part 2

Cool, thanks for the info, I`m adding it to my list of places to go now.

Jun 29, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Dessert...Sweets...in Tokyo

I tried Usagiya in Asagaya last week. The dorayaki didn`t blow me away but maybe you need to be a real connosieur to enjoy them. I also tried the Monako- it was so sweet it was a bit of a challenge to eat! It is a cool little shop though, very traditional. Also does anyone know what the dorayaki with red bean and sort of butter/whipped butter type of stuff in there, is called? I had some from Kyoto with that in them and it was so good.

Jun 28, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Tokyo Restaurants - Jun 2012 part 2

Thanks for the review, could you please clarify if this is Den in Shibuya with 2 Michelin Stars? Also how much was it for this meal?

Jun 28, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Authentic bánh mì in Tokyo

Does anyone else have any opinions on the Takadanobaba Banh Mi? Also is it true that they are open only tues-sat and until 8pm (thats what I gleaned from the Timeout article)? Any gory details will be appreciated

Jun 26, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Sydney Restaurant Choices - Advice appreciated

I never went to Momofuku at Star City but heard very mixed things about it. Im sure it would be good but worth the dosh? I don`t know. I thought it was great how much time David Chang was putting in there, unlike so many other big name chefs opening new places and just using their name

Jun 26, 2012
NZJoe in Australia/New Zealand

Sydney Restaurant Choices - Advice appreciated

ok here is the definitive:
coffee- Alchemy coffee in Marrickville. Campos was good until I found this place, best coffee I have ever had hands down.
Sweet Belem- Petersham Portuguese patisserrie that specialises in custart tarts. Too good to describe, just order like 6 per person.
Cow and Moon- Gelato, best gelato I have ever had outside of Italy. This place is near Newtown in Enmore.
Pizzaa- Lucio`s Pizza, have the speck and fontina and dont argue. Pizza Marios is good but Lucios is best.
Bourke street bakery and Black Star pastry- both good have the creme brulee tart, and pork and fennel sausage roll at bourke st and at black star have the pies (expensive tho) eclairs and brownies.
Thai Pothong in Newtown. Chat Thaiis also good but excpect a wait and its super spicy
Yoshiis at the rocks for Japanese (might be too pricey tho)
Bodega and Porteno are both good, The latter is very cool place but expensive- think $8aud for a 300ml beer.
Vietnamese- the best places are in Cabramatta but if you dont want to go so far try Tanh Binh in Newtown. Or there are also good places in Marrickville.
Marque for Friday lunch, good but they just lost Pasi Petanen their head chef so wont be the same now.
Bentleys lunch deal is good but you might walk out a little hungry still (I did but Im a big eater)
Mamak in Chatswood is better than the one in the city.
I find Gumshara ramen too fatty and porky but Menya ramen shops are better, there are 3 in the city.
Golden Century is good but not great and can be a bit pricey too.
Spice Temple is GREAT and so is Billy Kwongs.
Sepia and Quay are great for a splurge, world class fine dining
SIxPenny Is a real up and coming fine diner using produce they grow themselves and I believe they do a Sunday lunch for a pretty reasonable price, that would be the first place I`d go for a nice dinner if I went back to Sydney. Their degustation is only $120pp on regular nights anyways.
Oscillate Wildly in Newtown is very good also, a small fine diner but with top notch food and only $100 for degustation, BYO too.

Jun 25, 2012
NZJoe in Australia/New Zealand

Momiji manju

Thanks for the help, will let you know how I get on when I go to Tokyo station.

Jun 14, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Yebisu-Japan's Finest IMO

I`ve only had the white ale but yeah didn`t think that much of it either, doesn`t compare to `Three Boys Beer` from New Zealand.

Jun 14, 2012
NZJoe in Beer

Opinions on New Japanese fine-diners in Tokyo

I agree Ryugin and Narisawa are both amazing in completely different ways. Of the other 4 you mentioned, I know L`Effervescence and Takazawa- the former is nice service, reasonably nice food but not very exciting (think Michel Bras circa 2004) worthy of 1 star but no more based on the food. As for the latter, very expensive, so much so that its hard to feel you are getting your moneys worth, but unless you are a respected food critic or fine-dining chef yourself, you will probably be quite impressed by the food. A few molecular techniques (though very basic) some great ingredients (Suppon, Amadai, Shinsyu Wagyu) and friendly service.
There are a lot of great new restaurants popping up, some with one star where you can find `New Japanese food`, do some research and you will be rewarded. Remember that just because its pricey, it doesn`t guarantee it will be good.

Jun 11, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Hot in Tokyo

Yuzusco sounds good. When I was in Hakone, I got some yuzu chilli sauce that looks similar but its red. Can`t remember the name but damn it was good! It was really hot, really salty and really sour- all the good stuff. Does anyone know how hot this Yuzusco is? I like it spicy but not so much it takes over the other flavours, you know?

Jun 11, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Momiji manju

Thanks for the tip, where abouts at Tokyo station would I find them- department store, kiosk etc?

Jun 10, 2012
NZJoe in Japan

Momiji manju

Hey, can anyone help me out with where I can find good momiji manju (maple leaf cakes) in Tokyo? My girlfriend and I had some awesome ones on Miyajima but can`t find any here in Tokyo. Any tips will be most appreciated.

Jun 10, 2012
NZJoe in Japan