Thursday 7 February 2008

Sydney Gastronome: ramen and macarons

Ramen Kan
Level 1/90 Hay St, Haymarket (map)
(02) 9211 6677

Lindt Concept Store and Café
53 Martin Place, Sydney (map)
(02) 8257 1600

Some may view my purchase of the Sydney Eats (Cheap Eats) guide as foolish, given that as a dyed-in-the-wool Melbournian I don't get up to Sydney that often (I dunno, the yellow numberplates, achingly beautiful harbour and ubiquity of Tooheys New all conspire to make me vaguely uneasy)...

But as the Guide led me to Ramen Kan, in my book it was $14.95 well spent!

Ramen Kan entrance

Down in Haymarket near one of the monorail stops, one enters Ramen Kan through a nondescript entrance next to a fast food joint, then takes a dank smelly lift to an upper floor (not unlike Madame Brussels). To one's pleasant surprise, the Ramen Kan interior is airy and classy.

I sat at a long skinny table facing the window, ordered a Calpis peach tea and examined the menu. One of the pages proclaimed that the "delicious cloudy stock" that accompanies the ramen simmers for three days. How could I not try it out? I gestured at the ramen the Japanese woman sitting next to me was happily slurping and asked "kore wa nan desu ka" (one of the few phrases I can still bust out) - it turned out to be the Ramen Chicken Karaage, which I ordered. A steal at $11.50!

Ramen chicken karaage

They weren't kidding about the stock being cloudy and delicious! The chicken was wonderfully fresh and the ramen were soft and the whole thing was sen-bloody-sational.

Ramen accompaniment

The ramen came with a side serve of dried garlic, chilli and crispy fried shallots...


Anyone know where to get ramen like this in Melbourne?

Ramen Kan interior

F and I had plans to visit the Art Gallery of NSW (and, importantly, the Art Gallery of NSW Shop), but first we met for a hot chocolate at the Lindt Café in Martin Place.


Apparently, it ain't just a café: it's a "Concept Store and Café". All rather grand, eh?

I don't have much of a sweet tooth - if faced with a choice between sweet and savoury I'll choose savoury nine times out of ten - and chocolate can sit safely uneaten in my kitchen for weeks at a time. That said, I am partial to the odd red Lindor ball, and if I do have chocolate maturing in the kitchen it tends to be a Lindt Excellence Crunchy Caramel bar, so I'd been keen to try out the Lindt hot chocolates...

Macarons from Lindt

...but it was a warm day and I was still full of ramen, so settled for a bottle of Heidiland mineral water (cute name and label!) and two macarons - hazelnut and passionfruit ($2 each).

Duncan from the blog Syrup and Tang created quite the hoopla and excitement at the Melbourne Food Bloggers' Banquet last November with the salted caramel macarons he prepared. He duly posted a series of incredibly detailed posts which answered everything you always wanted to know about macarons (but were afraid to ask). Much as I enjoyed reading other bloggers' attempts to follow Duncan's teachings (especially Thanh's emotional rollercoaster!) and liked the crazy little beauties Duncan brought to the banquet, I still wasn't wild about macarons... but this passionfruit one was fantastic.

Passionfruit macaron

Check out that fluoro orange!


One more thing - after the Gallery we had heaps of fun wandering around the Botanic Gardens, experiencing Ghostgarden, which was part of the Sydney Festival:

Ghostgarden takes you on a surreal journey through the Royal Botanic Gardens. This 21st century GPS technology will take you back to the 1800s, when Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens were a zoo and parklands, in this tale of Jack and Lucy and their impossible love. Is this a tale of the past or from the future?

Using the worldwide Global Positioning System (GPS) and pocket PC's, Anita Fontaine's cinematic tale unravels as you wander the Royal Botanic Gardens' paths and gardens. Collect your GPS device from the Sydney Festival kiosk, and embark on the Ghostgarden tale in this beautiful and evocative setting.

The best part was that each GPS/pocket PC came with a gorgeous purple parasol! :)



Duncan | Syrup&Tang said...

What a gorgeous parasol!

Lindt: I'm allergic to anything called a concept store. However, it must be said that passionfruit makes for a very nice macaron -- the acidity cuts through the sweetness which some people aren't fond of. Mind you, that macaron you photographed looked a little dense...

Agnes said...

That ramen sounds amazing - do share if you manage to find a place in Melbs that can do something as good! :)

claire said...

I bow to your superior macaron expertise, Duncan! Yes it was a little dense. But passionfruit was such a good flavour that I didn't mind...

Hi Agnes! Yeah, I hoping some kind cyber-passerby will give me some good Melbourne ramen tips...

claire said...

Oh, and word to your call on "concept store" - *gag, choke* :)

Truffle said...

Love your Sydney posts. You're giving me some great ideas for my next visit home.

thanh7580 said...

Claire, I don't think it was a waste to buy the Sydney Eats book. I'm sure you can make more use of it in the future. And just finding out about the cheap Ramen meal already made it worthwhile.

As for a Lindt concept store, I don't care what they call it. As long as there is Lindt chocolate involved, I'm in.

Mmmmm, seeing the macaron makes me want to attempt another batch with passionfruit filling. I'll see how I feel about it tomorrow.

Simon said...

Hi Claire!

I was also wandering the streets of Sydney as a Melbournian for the duration of the Sydney Festival. There seemed to be so many Melbournians about that it was almost like an invasion!

I loved the Lindt hot chocolate and how it was delivered - kind of a classy and smart version of Max Brenner's novelty (read crappy) Suckao. Definitely nabbing that idea for winter in Melb.

I also found the macaroons to be interesting but quite frankly terrible in texture. They were dry and crumbly making them impossible to transport 20 mins let alone back to Melbourne. The ones we can get at Laurent are much better - chewy and soft with a thin shell.

stickyfingers said...

Claire if you love Ramen you HAVE to go to Momotaro Rahmen (392 bridge rd, Richmond). Though I haven't been there for ages I was a regular for years. They make the fresh noodles themselves every day and the serves are huge.

claire said...

Truffle: Glad that you as a former Sydneysider appreciate them - thanks! Be sure to blog about your visit back home... :)

Thanh: Did you end up making any more macarons?

Simon: Hello there mysterious stranger... your blogger profile reveals NOTHING about you. Do you have a blog too? I haven't tried the macarons at Laurent (I worked in the Camberwell store one summer as a teenager, and have never been back - maybe it's time to lift the self-imposed ban?)... which ones can you recommend?

Sticky: Ooooh! Momotaro Ramen, of course! I've walked past it millions of times (love the cute mascot with his tiny, tiny genitals) but have never tried it. Will go there for lunch this weekend - thanks for the tip!

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

Greetings, Claire. I do not blog but I do lurk now and again on blogs of note and they supplement print media reviews (often faster to review new places and more photos too).

Laurent macaroons are all good in my opinion, I enjoy the texture mostly. Flavours if i recall are lemon, caramel, chocolate, coffee?, strawberry, vanilla? Also try the petit beignets (mini moist muffins).

Moi: cocktail geek (only the good stuff), chocolate specialist - gifting and sourcing (I eat less than everyone thinks I do), circus and performing arts afficionado (Cirque du Soleil Dralion arrives Melb in April 2009)

I just returned from the Sydney Festival where I saw La Clique (4th time - and got my program autographed by all the artists), Au Revoir Parapulie (weird), Cirque Ici Secret (weirder), Meow Meow (to die for), Pink Martini (also to die for), Water Fools (total waste of time), El Barrio Jazz in the Domain (meh), Crusty Suitcase Band - late at the Spiegeltent (love it went twice). It was my first proper visit to Sydney since primary school.

claire said...

Hey Simon, oooooooh I'm so jealous that you got your program signed by all the artists in La Clique!! Did you get to chat to any of them? I too am obsessed by that show (saw it twice in 2005, once in 2006 and once in 2007 and tried to get tickets for Sydney 2008 but it was sold out). Did you see it in 2005 when Camille O'Sullivan sang "In These Shoes"? Amazing!

Like you, I'm a particular fan of the circus arts, as well as cabaret and burlesque. Saltimbanco just blew me away the first time I saw it, can't wait for Dralion. I was unsuccessful in getting tickets (left it too late dammit) to Au Revoir Parapluie - what was weird about it?

As for cocktails, you really should try the Cafe Vue Cocktail Nights! I blogged about the December one and my review of last Friday's Chinese New Year night will be comng soon to a computer screen near you... :)

Simon said...

Hi Claire,

Like you I saw it 2005, 2006, 2007 (all in Melb) and 2008 (Sydney). I got my ticket by lining up at the Tix for Next to Nix booth at the lovely hour of 4am to be first in line and guaranteed a ticket to La Clique (they usually have about 10-16 tickets and they go within 3 mins of the booth opening at 8am - meaning u have to be approx 5.30am in the line).

I did get to chat with the artists a little - met Captain Frodo in a supermarket in Potts Point randomly on night and again a few times at the tent, also David O'Mer, Mario, Hamish (the guy on top from the English Gents) and Amy G (who I also met at the Comm games in Melb - she's so cute and boy can she DANCE!). I do recall hearing Camille O'Sullivan in 2005 but I don't recall the song but I have heard it on her MySpace page and I love it!

Dralion - I'm doing group bookings, remind me and I'll make sure you get seats. Have you seen Alegria, Quidam or Varekai?

Au Revoir was weird because it was kinda erratic - very fragmented acts/scenes which didn't connect with anything else and the characters didn't really develop - so it was just too random and I've forgotten most of the show already. Very strange but because of randomness ultimately unmemorable.

Cafe Vue - Yup I've been to one (Hendricks) when Shae was still bartending - Loved it! Hoping to go to the next one in March (Savoury Chocolate is the theme). March 14 is my chosen night ... see you there?