Juan Bowl and Tea has been on my hype-radar ever since I moved to Sydney last year and found almost everyone raving about their amazing rice bowl – don – and tea pairings. I waited a bit for the hype to die down (and to have a little more money in my pocket) and then BAM, I was there. Juan embodies the Japanese spirit of doing one thing, and doing it really, really right. The whole focus of the restaurant is in the name – bowls of stuff on rice, and carefully curated teas to match. And despite the rather humble concept, the careful craftsmanship extends to beyond the food into the décor as well. With its dramatic down-lights, minimalist furniture, and bar-styled seating taking up the majority of the tiny space, Juan has more than a whiff of a high-end sushi bar.
Despite having lived just 20 minutes from Cronulla for over a year, I’ve never once gone down to the beach. A packed scheduled combined with a general apathy for being outside meant I had no real interest in making even a short drive – until now that is. As it turns out, all it takes me to get out and about to explore Sydney is the promise of good food. Seven Lanterns may not be directly on the water, but at barely 20 metres away from the surf, it’s more than close enough to benefit from the laid-back beach vibes. It boasts an Asian-inspired, seafood-driven share menu that doesn’t do anything too scary, but promises enough pizazz to still feel like a treat.
One great thing about Japan is that over there, Restaurant Chain is not a dirty term. With their dedication to quality, even the most pedestrian chains serve up food that would be right at home in a casual restaurant in Australia. Take Ippudo for example; despite having 69 branches in 12 countries, it is still very much known for serving up an excellent bowl of noodles that’s comparable to any ramen-ya. Ippudo may be located in a Westfield shopping complex, but the fit-out is rather swank. The dim interior with dramatic down-lighting, and eye-catching bar, makes it feel more like a high-end hotel restaurant than a casual eatery.
What’s your favourite brunch place in Sydney? For most of 2018, I’ve had precious little time to scope out the café scene in Sydney, with med school taking centre stage for literally 11 months of the year. But now that I’ve finally had some time to poke around, I realise that there are so many places I don’t even know where to start. How can I make sure that I’m not getting a dud? Or a place that’s prefers style (read: Instagram bait) over substance? Or a place that was popular 8 years ago, and is now just riding on its past successes without actually growing or improving?
How gross has the weather been recently?? Having always lived in dry-as-a-bone Melbourne, the humidity in Sydney was a complete shock, and it still throws me how much worse a 30-degree day feels when the humidity is constantly at 80%. Mind you, I’m hoping that by the time this post comes out, the weather will have calmed down – this visit to Ken’s Sushi Bar actually happened in mid-January; I’m trying to get a really good backlog going before med school starts again and inevitably gets the best of me.
Don’t tell Sydney I said this, but I think the food in Sydney is way less interesting than what Melbourne has to offer. To be fair, I’ll be the first to admit that coming into my foodie-hood in Melbourne has spoilt me rotten, as Melbourne has grown to be one of the most exciting dining destinations in the world (or if not that, then at least the most exciting in Australia) over the last few years. Even though, I was still a little disappointed at the prospect of having my annual Christmas-birthday-anniversary meal in Sydney, when I know there’s so much more in Melbourne I’d rather eat. Thankfully, things lined up just right, and Chris and I ended up being able to spend a couple weeks in Melbourne in December, and I got to eat at one of the new restaurants I was most excited about – Lesa.