Saturday, May 16, 2015

NIB: Trip home and stuff I miss

I was able to make a trip back home. Like this baby koala hugging the tree there's a huge list of food that I would hug if not for the fact it would be better off in my belly... So I made a list and hit everything I could. I did miss a few pictures, like Pho at Pho saigon, Ramen at Michi and my very first meal off the plane BBQ at the salt lick.

Breakfast tacos from Taco deli with Dona sauce.... with BACON. The bacon in Australia is made from pork back which includes that circular bit that we call Canadian bacon. Anyhow, tortillas are hard to come by and I thought about bringing back a tortilla press but I didn't find a source for masa. The only place I found breakfast tacos in Sydney cost like $8.50 (in AUD but still it's outrageous).

Caldo de Res and Barbecoa taco at Vasquez. A favorite spot for my old team. This is what I get when I "want it all" and can't decide on barbecoa plate or the Caldo.

You can't go to Texas without having chicken fried steak... for breakfast.... that and biscuits and gravy and of course BACON (I had a lot of bacon here). It wasn't the best, but I had to hit the Jim's it's home to many a hangover meal and quick breakfast. I've got some curing salt and liquid smoke  (I don't have a smoker in Sydney) in my bags so I plan on making my own American bacon.

Of course I had to hit my favorite sushi shops, we went to Soto (my north austin favorite) and my wife took me to Uchiko for my birthday dinner.

But nothing beats my ultimate favorite: Mom's home cooked food. To celebrate my birthday (which I will actually skip this year as I fly over the international date line) she whipped up this great meal of all my favorites: Peking duck (using lettuce leaves to save on carbs), Hsin Chu Mi Fun 新竹粉 (Rice noodle dish from my mom's home town), Sauteed Chinese water spinach, soy pickled cucumber, thousand year old egg with Cha Shao and beef tendon and miso baked salmon. Thanks Mom!

I can't wait to come back home again there's so much I missed. At least I have these pictures to keep me warm as we enter winter down under.

Friday, May 1, 2015

NIB: Yasaka Ramen - No Ramen No Life

So in Austin we have two dedicated Ramen shops. To most of us growing up ramen was a 10 - 50 cent (depending if you go with the good stuff or not) package of fried noodles with a delicious hypertension inducing soup base. It's the mainstay of surviving on a budget in college so you can still have fun on the weekends. I hadn't had "real" ramen before trying it at Freddy's truck Michi (now a restaurant). It was a life changing event. I recommend the meat lovers in stout broth, on a cold winter day (heck even in the heat of summer) it'll do you good.

To my delight Australia is apparently full of ramen shops, granted quantity doesn't mean quality but just like most things I've encountered "down under" things are just a little bit different. One of the things I learned is that a lot of the shops here serve "thick" style broth. Now, being a fan of Michi's stout I figured "ok thick that's the stuff I want". Thick doesn't quite cover the description, I'd venture to say any thicker this stuff would be very close to the consistency of gravy. That was a more extreme example of thick, but in general the thick broth here is another level thicker than I'm use to.

We did find this great shop down the street from our flat, Yasaka Ramen.  Honestly the fact that they had a ramen noodle maker in the front window really drew me into the store (that and their mantra "no ramen no life"). I didn't get to see the machine in full action, but it looks to be a multi step machine that takes flour and other ingredients and ultimately cuts them into noodles. They were in the "flattening and rolling sheets into large spools" stage when this picture was taken.

All of the broth selections were tonkotsu (pork) broth, you could select the black garlic, soy sauce, or miso with a variety of toppings. The broth was made in what looked to be the largest pressure cooker ever made. They had Charsiu braising in another pot. The operation was pretty impressive, two guys on ramen one person operating frying type stuff for Karraga and Katsu.

And the ramen? Delicious! Definitely go visit if you're in Sydney. We still have a small list of must try Ramen shops, so much ramen so little time!