Nothing tastes as good as a celebratory meal, and oh do I have reason to be celebrating today. After barely 3 years out of university, Chris (aka my other half) has been promoted to a senior software developer! He’s of course stoked, and don’t tell him I said this because he’s already had so many congratulations that he’s running the risk of getting a big head, but I’m also completely thrilled – for him, and for this excellent excuse to splash out on dinner at Poly.
I didn’t realise how much I had gotten used to the DINK (that’s Dual-Income-No-Kids) life until I quit work to go back to study at the beginning of the year. All of a sudden, I no longer had the funds to go out for a meal at my favourite wine bar whenever I felt like it, and I have to constantly ask myself if I really need a 3rd bubble tea this week. To be sure, there are plenty of delicious and affordable eats floating around Sydney, but I do find myself getting sick of the same-same routine of casual Asian/Middle-Eastern meals after a while, and crave something a little more refined.
I’m not much of a birthday person. I know plenty of people who use birthdays as an excuse to have a month-long celebration but frankly? I just don’t have that much energy. For me, what birthdays really amount to is a chance to have a good meal, where you splurge a bit on something you normally wouldn’t have. This year however, things are a little different. Not only am I in a brand-new city, instead of one full of restaurants I’ve been lusting over for years, I’m also on a significantly tighter budget on account of living away from home. But after much research and changing of minds, I eventually settled on Restaurant Hubert to celebrate turning 25 (ugh).
My love for Miznon needs no introduction. Ever since my very first visit, I have been absolutely smitten with this powerhouse of Israeli street food – a love that’s only grown with (many) subsequent visits. I just can’t get enough of their pillowy pitas, packed full of scrumptious ingredients, and their amazing take on fresh produce – whole head of roasted cauliflower anyone? And let’s not even let me near the self-serve station of tahini, pickles, and pita. So it goes without saying that I was absolutely delighted when Miznon released a brand-new dinner menu, taking their ingredients out of the pita pockets (though you can still get one if you want to!), and plating them up to share.
Rarely has a restaurant impressed me on the first visit the way Tipo00 did. Their meticulously hand-crafted pasta dishes were melt-in-the-mouth scrumptious, and each subsequent visit has been similarly astounding, and well worth the ridiculous wait times. So when the geniuses behind Tipo opened Osteria Ilaria a couple years later, all of Melbourne were waiting with bated breath to see if it lived up to its reputation. As it turns out, we needn’t have worried. Following Tipo’s example, Osteria Ilaria soon snapped up another Best New Restaurant of the Year Award, with accolades coming out of its ears, and queues extending down the street. But unlike Tipo, Osteria Ilaria is not a quaint little pasta bar. Hot on the tail of the current trend, Osteria Ilaria is an unabashedly European wine bar, with an ambitious wine list, and a succinct list of sharing plates that are regularly updated to reflect the freshest seasonal ingredients.
One of the best sushi experiences I’ve ever had was at a 100 yen sushi train in Japan, down the road from the hotel we stayed at in the Shibuya. It wasn’t so much that the sushi was wildly inventive or unique – in fact it was far from it, as what each pair of nigiri amounted to was a slice of fish, draped over a nugget of rice with a daub of wasabi. What made the meal memorable was the amount of care the chefs so clearly placed into each morsel, and the absolute freshness of the seafood. As I sat in the small, cramped, and utilitarian space under an old apartment block, I was simply astounded by the quality of the food on offer. And just in case you were wondering, I managed to put away 24 pieces of nigiri in less than 20 minutes.