Australia, Sydney, Sydney - CBD

Masu Izakaya

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Masu Izakaya

An izakaya is a casual Japanese drinking place where people can go after work to grab a few drinks while chewing on yakitori skewers. To find a place in Sydney where there is a friendly vibe, with a good variety of drinks and food, is not easy, but we think we may have found the place.

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Located in Chinatown, Masu Izakaya has only been opened for a few weeks. It has a really nice atmosphere with bright lights creating a warm hue, exposed brick walls giving it a rustic look, and comfortable leather chairs. The inclusion of a chandelier near the stairs gives some class to the venue.

The wait staff was very attentive during our visit, and the provision of wet towels on the table was a nice gesture.

The drink menu was amazing, with a vast variety of Japanese sake (which ranged from $6.50 to $13 for 100mL) and Japanese whisky (which ranged from $10 to $17 for a glass). They even have some different types of soda drinks that we have not seen in other Japanese restaurants. The drinks menu is really worth checking out.

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One thing to note is that the bottle of soy sauce provided on the table contained very thick soy sauce, which gave the food a more robust flavour. This was a nice touch.

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Assorted Sashimi $22.80

This contained salmon, tuna, kingfish and scallop sashimi. All the sashimi was fresh and sweet.

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Dragon Roll $10.80

A lightly seared eel inside out roll with cream cheese, cucumber and avocado. The rice was cooked perfectly, and the eel did not contain any fishy taste. A nice dish.

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Scallop and Ebi Fry $9.80

A lightly seared scallop inside out roll with ebi fry and cucumber. The ebi fry (prawns) were crispy, with very subtle scallop taste. The added sesame gave this dish a touch of depth in flavour. Very enjoyable.

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Eihire (dried sting ray fin) $7

Nicely flavoured but a little bit tough, this is the perfect dish to devour while downing a few beers or sakes. The mayo was a nice little touch.

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Grilled squid $12

The squid was soft and tender, and yet it had the nice smoky tarry taste from the grill. Another perfect dish to accompany some nice Japanese beer.

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Skewers

The yakitori skewers are their speciality and we tried a few different types. Apparently all the chicken used in the yakitori are from local farms which makes them fresh and tasty.

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The Mushroom ($4.50) had two mushrooms stuffed with chicken meat, and it had a nice Asian flavour going for it.

The Nankotsu (chicken cartilage) ($3.50) was nice and crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. Some chicken meat seem to have been intentionally left on the cartilage for customers to taste the chicken flavour.

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The Sasami (chicken breast) and Momo (dark chicken meat) ($3.50 each) provided a contrast in taste and texture. Greg liked the Momo as he found it tender and flavoursome, while Jono found it too peppery. However, Jono liked the Sasami as he could taste the natural real chicken flavour from it, but Greg found it a bit too dry.

We also had a number of other skewers.

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The Wagyu Beef ($7.50) was soft, tender and tasty. It was simply divine!

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The Butabara Pork ($3.50) had the right amount of fat, making it soft and tender, which contrasted well with the crunchiness of the spring onion. Furthermore, the saltiness of the pork, with the spiciness of the sauce, and the sweetness from the onion created an explosion of flavours in our mouths.

The Quail Egg ($3) had the smokiness of the grill and when mixed with the sauce, it just oozed through our mouth.

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The Rice Cake Maki ($3.50) divided our opinions. Greg enjoyed it, as it was full of flavour with the outside being crunchy and inside being soft. However, Jono was disappointed with this dish, as the flavour from the sauce was too strong, making it taste like some sticky fat filled with sauce.

Overall, we loved this place, and we will be back on a regular basis. The drinks are special, the food is great, and the vibe is friendly and relaxed. This is the perfect place to wind up after work and chat with your friends or colleagues.

 

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Masu Izakaya

Website: http://www.masuizakaya.com

Address: Shop B1, 35-39 Liverpool Street (corner of Liverpool and Dixon Street), Sydney

Phone: (02) 9261 3011

Opening hours: Mon to Fri and Sun 11:30am to 11:30pm, Sat 5pm til late

Accepts MasterCard and Visa only for bills over $30

Australia, Sydney, Sydney - CBD

Fat Noodle, The Star

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We stumbled across this restaurant purely by accident. Located inside The Star, near the Baccarat action, this restaurant is associated with Luke Nguyen, the owner and chef of one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in Sydney, the Red Lantern. Naturally, we had high expectations of this place.

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The restaurant was set up with a long communal table in the middle, and a number of small individual tables on the side. At the back was a large open kitchen, where customers could see the chefs at work.

The service of this place was pretty average, and we needed to flag down a waiter to place our orders. We were also told that we weren’t allowed to use our cameras to take pictures of food as we were inside the casino, although the other customers who took pictures of their food or selfies with their phones were not warned or talked to. However, we still managed to take a few photos of the food for all you guys to see.

Now onto the food.

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Lemon Grass Chicken Rice Paper Rolls $15

This dish consisted of four fairly small rolls, cut in half, and served on a plate. The rice paper wrapping and the vermicelli inside were both dry, and the taste of lemongrass was virtually non-existent. Very disappointing dish.

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Fat Pho Noodles $19.50

The rice noodles came in Luke Nguyen’s signature beef broth. The broth was too smoky, and there seem to be an overpowering note of star anise in the broth. A lighter broth may have brought out better the flavours of the Angus sirloin and brisket pieces in this dish, instead of overpowering them.

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Angus Beef $19.50

The beef was wok tossed with lemongrass, herbs, peanuts and vermicelli. It was a tasty dish and all the ingredients worked well together making this dish full of flavour.

Overall, this is a good place if you are in the casino and are craving for some quick fast comfort food to satisfy your hunger before hitting the gambling tables again. For a dining experience, this place does not live up to the name and the hype of Luke Nguyen.

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Fat Noodle

Website: Fat Noodle

Address: Level 1, Casino, The Star, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont

Phone: Not available

Opening hours: 11:30am to 2am Sun to Thurs, 11:30am to 5am Fri and Sat

Accepts Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards

By Greg

Australia, Melbourne, Melbourne - CBD

Loch & Key – Behind the bookcase

We landed in Melbourne and it was 11:00pm at night. The only thought that flashed up in my head was to get to the hotel as soon as possible and hop into bed. But No, my buddy “Greg” wanted to go out and scout for late night snacks. Greg has found so many hidden gems but I chose to go to the one that was just around the corner from where we stayed. – “Loch and key – Behind the bookcase”. We literally saw the book-shelf right outside at the entrance.

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Loch & Key is upstairs from Captain Melville’s Bar and Restaurant and yes we were flustered when we saw the door has closed. But don’t let that fool you because Loch & Key is always open and ready to give you an intimate cocktail.

It didn’t take long for me to notice an actual lock has been put up on the door leading to the stairway. We also noticed a bookcase was standing next to the stairway which was also an indication that we were at the right place.

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Loch & Key has gained its popularity for being one of those hipster-ish pub among the locals, filled with mood lighting and vintaged couches and chairs spread all over the floor as well as in balcony area, where plants and flowers are laminated on the side wall and hanging from the balcony.

The cocktails, beers and snacks selections were limited but I was really impressed with their bartender’s knowledge in terms of knowing their wines and beers. They were more than happy to make a delightful mixed drink to reflect our personal preferences.

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For my drink, I ordered a cocktail called “War of the roses”. The name is as sexy as it tasted. The first sip was sweet on the tip of my tongue and then the bitterness carried through to the rest of my palate. Excuse for me being frank, the drink was disgusting but ADDICTIVE.

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Greg got himself a cocktail called “Chrysanthemum” which I did not adore so much as I’m a person with a sweet tooth.

Greg’s comment: “The drink has a strong liquorish flavour which was very oriental in style, but overtime the citrus flavours come out making it very enjoyable.”

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To satisfy our hunger, we ordered a Truffled mushroom, smoke scarmoza toasties. We actually waited for quite a while until the toasties arrived and have to ask the bartenders to chase up the order for us. But the wait was well worth it, as one bite blew me away. The bread was light and crispy, and the filling was very flavoursome with the freshness of the truffled mushrooms and the smoky and salty taste of the cheese was not overpowering.

Loch & Key is a great place to go for a night out where you want to get away from the crowds in the city and be intimate with your homies, sharing unique boutique cocktails and simple delightful snacks. This place is worth checking out.

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Loch & Key – Behind the bookcase

Website: www.lochandkey.com.au

Address: UPSTAIRS 34 Franklin St

Phone: (03) 9663 6855

Opening hours: 6pm till Late, Wednesday to Saturday

Accepts Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards

By Jono