Monday, October 19, 2009

The lunch collective - Part II

Another collection of lunching in and about the city:

Prawn, coriander and lime salad from Noodle Bar at
David Jones Food Hall, Market Street, Sydney

The David Jones Food Hall is an indisputable haven: from work, shopping or even the routine trip to the supermarket. It's difficult to go left, right or that way and not find something desirable and just that little bit on the side of pricey. Aside from that weird magnetic force that the cheese cabinet has got going, lunch and groceries have never been such fun

Warming pyrotechnics at the Noodle Bar erupt now and then to cook things like the large-sized crustaceans in the prawn, coriander and lime salad. Served on butter lettuce leaves with julienned and pickled radish and cucumber ribbons, the prawns have been flamed with ginger, spring onions and other Asian-inspired ingredients in the fiery wok and served immediately straight up to the counter. A glass of wine doesn't go astray at all.

Chicken laksa from Jimmy's Recipe Malaysia, The Galeries Victoria, Sydney

It's a big call on behalf of Jimmy's: "The best laksa in Sydney". Chances are Jimmy isn't expecting anyone to get overly worked up over a marketing message. The service is stupendously quick; I barely have time to put my change in my wallet before I'm faced with the challenge of balancing a laden tray while looking for seating. Lunch time teems with the corporate types - careful not to splash laksa onto crisp white shirts. The laksa is generous on the chicken and comes with a mix of fine vermicelli and thick, yellow hokkien noodles. The soup is rich and warming, just mildy spicy, and hits the spot on a chilly winter's day.

Salt and pepper squid with chips from Bungalow8,
King Street Wharf, Sydney

Waterside dining is like a siren's call when it's nice and sunny in Sydney town. The outdoor areas of the restaurants along the water teem with smokers and sunlight-seekers alike. The kitchen is busy churning out meals at lunch from a limited menu, infamous for all-you-can-eat mussels on Tuesdays. Not being keen to test my skills and not being a Tuesday I opted for the reliable S&P squid. Unhealthy, and naughtily so, the squid wears a thin, golden salt and pepper crumb over its impossibly tender meat. Served with some undressed mixed greens, lemon and sweet chilli sauce, eating like this near the water just screams: "Bring on summer! And the gym..."

Pho tai from Pho Ha Noi, Hunter Connection Food Court, Sydney

A guaranteed winter warmer at bargain basement prices. Sort of in bargain basement surrounds too, but you'd never know with the amount of suits in the Hunter Connection Food Court. The pho tai is the standard Vietnamese beef noodle soup although there is also a meatball option. The soup is impressively flavoured and plays sound backing for the slippery rice noodles, handful of beansprouts and the thinly sliced meat, which cooks itself in the hot soup. A squeeze of lemon, a bit of that sauce, and a bit of this sauce, then you're ready to hunt down a seat while precariously carrying your tray.

Cheese filled zucchini flower from Fix St James,
Elizabeth Street, Sydney

Broad bean salad with prosciutto and soft cooked quail egg
from Fix St James

Fix St James is very much the epitome of how great the unknown can be. I discovered it a few years ago now, and it's hard to beat as a city lunch venue. It's sort of nowhere in particular, but the food and especially the wine are very particular indeed.

This visit, I find it impossible to go past the zucchini flowers. They're straight out of the fryer in a light, pale gold batter and satisfyingly crispy. A squeeze of lemon cuts through the richness of the creamy ricotta cheese filling. My favourite part of the flower is the nub that is the beginnings of a zucchini - pure sweetness with a bit of baby crunch.

Broad beans seem to be in season and very much in vogue too. This was such a pretty salad with the soft cooked egg on top of a nest of leaves, aged prosciutto and sprightly green broad beans. I recall it went very well with the recommended gewursztraminer and I'm looking forward to my next fix here soon.

David Jones Food Hall on Urbanspoon

Jimmy's Recipe on Urbanspoon

Bungalow 8 on Urbanspoon

Fix St. James on Urbanspoon

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