Take-home is different this time around. It's more organised and professional; more niche and more luxe. Less lasagne and more lobster.
It's the niche thing that's interesting, because we're now able to order in exactly what we feel like, when we feel like it. This week, that means omakase sushi, steamed dumplings and cakes and pastries. Because who in their right mind doesn't want sushi, dumplings and cake?
Hideaki Fukada (left) and Kenny Lee at Kuon Omakase. Photo: Wolter Peeters
Forget the fact that you can't get a seat at Kuon Omakase at the moment – you couldn't anyway. Before lockdown, reservations for the eight-seater in Darling Square would open at the start of the month, and be filled within minutes.
Now, chef Hideaki Fukada prepares 50 servings a day of Japanese omakase for pick-up only each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, at $110 a head. He's head-down busy behind the pine counter, tamping rice for nigiri and filling pretty little octagonal boxes with assorted treasures.
Once home, it's genuinely exciting to lay out the food on the table and work through it all, from the 11 fingers of precisely fashioned nigiri and six little tuna tartare rolls, to a whole, slow-cooked baby abalone. Fukada-san goes beyond the obvious, tucking in a delicate umaki omelette roll stuffed with eel, croquette filled with crab bechamel, and a crunchy spear of kazunoko (herring roe). His Akita komachi rice is unusual, the smaller grains coloured with aged red vinegar, a signature point of difference.
It feels like a great luxury to eat food of this level at home, but ultimately it is eating without its proper context, without the direct relationship with the chef and his craft. If you can live with that, then it's a treat.
- Hot dish Umaki omelette roll stuffed with eel
- Where Shop 20, 2 Little Hay Street, Darling Square, Sydney
- When Pick up available Thursday, Friday, Saturday
- How Follow @kuonomakase on Instagram for weekly updates
Soy pork and cabbage shumai from Oriental Teahouse. Photo: Supplied
Oriental Teahouse Dumplings
D-u-m-p-l-i-n-g-s!!!!!! It's been too long since the last yum cha, so I sneakily arrange a preview of the new Oriental Teahouse dumpling range, launching in selected Coles supermarkets on August 30.
David Zhou has built a strong name in Melbourne through his restaurants, David's and Oriental Teahouse, and now it's Sydney's turn to try his "restaurant-quality" handmade dumplings ($25 for pack of 10). Steamed from frozen (no waiting!) for about eight minutes, and dipped into DIY soy and chilli, they help recapture that dim sum vibe.
A wagyu beef dumpling is the least interesting, but there's real ducky flavour in the pink roast duck dumplings, and a good mix of black and snow fungus, carrot and water chestnuts in vegetarian dumplings with nicely glutinous wrappers. Outright winner is the golden, fried-then-steamed ginger prawn dumpling with its sweet, bouncy filling and frilled skin – good enough to make me miss the real thing even more.
- Hot dish Ginger prawn dumplings
- Where Coles Local in Chatswood, Rose Bay, Manly Corso and Concord from August 30. See orientalteahouse.com.au
- When Store hours
- How Keep frozen until ready to cook
Isabella Leva and John Laureti's drool-worthy, weekly changing selection of four tarts. Photo: Jill Dupleix
Instagram has grown from being a social medium to a business tool for any number of small start-ups, fledgling food businesses and unemployed chefs. Take former Pt. Leo Estate (Victoria) chefs, Isabella Leva and John Laureti, who started making and selling weekly pastry boxes when stood down from their restaurant jobs.
Now they're back in Sydney, their Pane Dolce box is a drool-worthy, weekly changing selection of four tarts ($30 to $35) posted on @panedolce2020. Best are the tangy lemon and chiffon, and vibrantly green Mr Pistachio, but it was the crunchy, cinnamon-sugary morning bun ($5), formed from a swirl of laminated croissant pastry, that made my day. Sourdough bread ($10) is another great add-on; sour, dense and not too heavy – and perfect for Instagram.
- Hot dish Morning buns
- Where panedolce2020.com
- When Pick up and delivery Friday-Sunday 9am-1pm (orders open Monday 4pm)
- How Order for pick up or delivery at panedolce2020.com