One of the really great things about Sydney is that if you're craving (or missing) a certain type of cuisine there's a good chance you can find it right here...on our doorstep. Which is VERY lucky for The Boy and I as we've been desperately missing the amazing food we had in Tokyo earlier this year.
When we received the invitation from Paper Planes to come in for dinner I had a quick look at the menu and I have to say I wanted to try EVERYTHING on offer. So much of seemed just like what we'd had in Tokyo that I knew it was going to be hard to narrow it down to just a few items (sadly, my stomach isn't bottomless no matter what I lead you to believe).
|Photo thanks to Paper Planes|
|Photo thanks to Paper Planes|
Paper Planes is tucked away at the north end of Bondi Beach, in a little arcade next to The Bondi Hotel. The space is quite modern and very "Tokyo cool" with 500 painted skateboard decks attached to the ceiling - stunning! There are little paper cranes dangling from the ceiling and the whole place feels cool, yet cozy.
For a moment, or two, I forget that it's a school night as I get stuck into the cocktails. I'm not a big drinker but cocktails are my weakness! I LOVE them. The Harajuku Girl (martini of watermelon, coconut water, St Germain and Bombay Sapphire) is exactly what I'd imagine a Harajuku Girl to drink - it's pink, sweet and tastes like a candy cane. Kawaii! Cocktail #2 is the Tokyo Pop (Pimms, St Germain, fresh fruits and lemonade with a POP ROCKS RIM!!!). Pimmis one of my all time favourite drinks so adding pop rocks to the mix is genius. Kawaii factor = a billion.
Before I get too giddy with the cocktail love let's move onto the food. We start things off with a bowl of Edamame that come with sea salt or chilli salt ($6.00) - we get the chilli salt which I love as it adds a great savoury element to the dish, and the aroma is quite smokey and divine!
I absolutely loved the Kingfish carpaccio with a ginger and mirin sauce, tobiko, chilli oil and jalapeno tempura ($18.00). The serve you see here is smaller than what you'd normally get - the owner was downsizing the plates for us so we could try a few more things (cos, like I said I was gung ho on eating the whole menu)! The flavours is this were incredible, really fresh and zesty with just a hint of heat. The whole dish was perfectly balanced with super fresh, meaty fish - as is the Japanese way of course. More please!
Continuing with the amazingly-flavoured seafood theme next up is the salmon tartare nachos with wasabi miso dressing, chives and tobiko, served with prawn crackers ($16.00). Again, smaller than you'd normally get - we're trying to conserve stomach space here. This is a fun dish - build your own nachos by adding a little scoop of salmon tartare to a prawn chip.
You have NO idea how happy I was to see Kushiyaki Skewers on the menu here as Kushiyaki and Yakitori were one of the things (or two I guess) The Boy and I LOVED (and miss) the most about Tokyo! In Japan it seems common to be able to choose if you want your skewers with a sauce brushed on top, or just simply salted. I always tried slated, so it was great that Paper Planes serve their skewers with a glazed brushed on as I get to try them "the other way".
The chicken thigh fillet kushiyaki ($9.00 - 2 per serve) is good, really good! They come just as they do in Tokyo, with shallots sandwiched between each piece of chicken, but unlike Tokyo here we have and a truffle glaze. Fancy. I think The Boy's comment about the eggplant kushiyaki ($7.00 - 2 per serve) pretty much sums it up "this is good...and it's eggplant...and it's good"! Yes Dave, eggplant is good!
Next is a serve of the homemade gyoza with a pork and cabbage filling and a chilli ponzu dipping sauce ($12.00 for 5 pieces). I really enjoyed these pork dumplings as the porky taste was quite mild (which I've found is often not the case with minced pork in dumplings).
The Boy always points out when things come in odd numbers as he worries it'll cause "issues". He got in quick this time and nabbed the fifth dumpling for himself saying it was "tax for being the driver to Bondi for the night". Sneaky.
I'd seen the Pork Belly Bun ($6.50) arriving at the table of other diners and I just HAD to order one (to share with The Boy of course) as I LOVE pork buns. I'm especially fond of the soft, doughy bun which is steamed to perfection here. Here we have a fat little slab of pork belly atop a slice of cucumber and topped with a creamy, finger lickin' good jalapeno mayonnaise. Yum.
It wouldn't be a Japanese dinner with out at least one foray into sushi-land. The spicy tuna with apple, togarashi chilli, mayonnaise, chive and tobiko ($15.00) is super fresh and I love the crunch of the apple against the softness of the fatty tuna. The roll is sprinkled with little nubbins of tempura batter which gives a good crunch!
The crispy pork belly in a palm sugar, lime leaf and rice vinegar syrup ($28.00) is normally a full-sized main but we're given one little mouthful each to try...just enough to make us wish we had a whole plates worth to devour. This pork is SO good and is topped with with crushed peanuts and fresh herbs and sits atop a little bok choi leaf. The meat is perfectly caramelized with a good layer of unctuous fat between the meat and the crispy skin. It's chewy, fatty, gelatinous, flavoursome crispy and AMAZING!
Are you still with me? Just one more dish to go before we can go home and lay on the couch rubbing our happy belly's!
The braised beef short ribs ($31.00) is served off the bone in yakiniku sauce with pickled vegetable along with a serve of steamed 5 grains brown rice ($5.00). The sauce is fairly sweet which is where the pickled vege come in and lend some acidity to the dish. Oh boy, this beef was SO tender that it was impossible for me to eat with my chopsticks (I'm the girl that packed a fork to take to Japan so I don't exactly have mad chopstick skills)! A really great dish to end the night on.
I really loved our meal at Paper Planes and The Boy and I are keen to come back soon. I hear that we should keep an eye on the menu as they'll be introducing ramen for the colder months. Ramen by the beach...now that's something you can't get in Tokyo!
Paper Planes is at at shop 15/178 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach. Phone them on 9300 0673.