Asian Pride (monosodium glutamate)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Good morning sunshine. Who knew that a Sydney winter could be so accommodating during my uni holiday. The sun, is actually warm here - a rather sad fact since I spend 90% of my time in the nation's capital (ice box). I'm currently sitting in my pyjamas, munching on a slice of brioche (homemade I might add and a smashing first attempt - see the recipe here) accompanied by a soy latte. Simple pleasures people.

Good things. That's what I've heard, or read rather, about the new joint set up by Dan Hong and Jowett Yu of Lotus fame (or maybe not?). Sometimes you need a casual dining setting once in a while. Fine dining is golden, don't get me wrong but I still find I have these awkward moments when wait staff come to set cutlery/pour wine etc and I feel compelled to abruptly stop conversation. I'm not sure why I do this, I'm not ripping apart the restaurant or anything (usually). But then again, I don't really want to share my bitching. And so, we sit in silence in that time, and then mutter a near inaudible "Thank you". Only to continue the raucous laughter/D&M as soon as they leave our vicinity! Anyway, back to the matter.

The street front signage. There's also another neon sign with "six two one" on it - the additive number of MSG. Photo from Concrete Playground
Ms G's - a clever (maybe too clever *shifty eyes*) use of Asian cookings' frenemy MSG. First thing, the walk to the restaurant takes about 10 minutes tops (that's more a leisurely stroll) which is awesome. Any place that I can walk to within a reasonable amount of time (30 minutes is my upper limit) has potential from my point of view. Once you step through the front door you are hit by a wave of decibels. The soundtrack may have something to do with that as well. It's a blend of old-school funk and soul with a but (in a kiwi accent) of modern stuff. For example Islands by the XX and For the Love of Money by the O'Jays. I always find music choices interesting... but they've done well to feed an atmosphere which is abuzz.

The faces. Jowett (left) and Dan (right) run the show at Ms G's. P.S. I like their wall, and birkies. Photo by Daniel Boud, published in Time Out Sydney
Being situated in a terrace house in Potts Point, there isn't a lot of wiggle room. But they've tried to squeeze in as much seating on the three 'levels' be it bench, booth or stool by the bar. You can tell that Merivale (read: Mr Hemmes) has invested a lot in the fit out although you can't tell. I think they were going for the "oh, this was just something we threw together" look without really succeeding. It's a bit contrived, but that's not to say I don't like it. Our table was a perfect vantage point to see in the kitchen. Excellent!

The point of deliberation: our usual rule is to order a dish each minus one if sharing mains but we may have underestimated the portions of each so we ended up adding dishes to our order. I'm sure they weren't complaining either! 
Anywho, this was it:
1. Egg noodles with XO sauce, braised duck, soft poached egg - more duck please!!
2. Wok fried cultivated mushrooms, baby corn, sugar snaps, jerusalem artichoke - delicious sauce and nice variety of mushrooms (pretty!) 
3. Queensland spanner crab, broccolini, silken tofu, shellfish dashi - okay, the tofu was a little firm but crab is always a treat
4. Jow's sweet and sour lamb ribs - OMG (in a good way), the only way to eat these is with your hands - just so you can lick the glaze off your fingers haha. Definitely my favourite dish of the night

Cuties. Maybe for next time, mini bánh mì - chicken katsu and crisp pork belly. Photo from Spicy Ice Cream
Other popular choices of the night (I was definitely peeking at what was coming out of the kitchen) were peking duck pancakes (the night's special), buddha's delight (extremely healthy looking salad), ceviche (a random latin american menu addition), the mini bánh mì (the vietnamese version of a pork/chicken slider) and the stoner's delight dessert (an American inspired sugar smorgasbord). There was also the Pandan chiffon cake, strawberries and coconut sorbet - featured in a pressure test on Masterchef. Temptation was resisted because...

At home there was a homemade Japanese cheesecake awaiting!

Why, hello.
The beauty of these cakes is that they're so light. Even though we were heartily stuffed with dinner and only walked about 500m back home - there's always space for an incey slice of cake. I first tried this baby from Savoy cake shop in china town YEARS ago - and they really can't go wrong. Recently, my dad found a recipe for this and we haven't looked back! The results are heavenly...

Heavenly, I tell you! It looks fluffy cos it is ;) The dessicated coconut and sultanas make a world of difference too.
Japanese cheesecake recipe (adapted from Diana's Desserts)

140g granulated sugar
6 eggs, separated
1/4 tspn cream of tartar
50g butter
250g cream cheese
100mL milk
1 tbspn lemon juice
60g cake flour
20g corn flour

1. Lightly grease and line a round cake pan with greaseproof paper 
2. Melt cream cheese, butter and milk over a double boiler. Cool the mixture (in the fridge if necessary)
3. Preheat oven to 160°C
4. To the cheese, fold in flour, corn flour, egg yolks, lemon juice and mix well
5. Whisk eggs whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add sugar and whisk until soft peaks form
6. Add cheese mixture to the egg whites and mix. Pour mixture into cake pan
7. Bake in a bain marie (water bath) for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until set and golden brown
8. After baking, let cake cool completely. Again, in the fridge if necessary (this may take several hours). Patience is a virtue and totally worth it! xo


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