Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ms. G's: The mod Asian squad

Some things can be hard to describe: why you like someone, an intricate dress, Sydney streets that veer off and change names mid-way through.

And although I'm immediately reminded of a chimpanzee enclosure when I head up one flight of stairs at Ms. G's, the menu is a little less obvious - modernised Asian in most instances, but certainly spanning the entire continent. Mod Asian, pan Asian and thankfully not overly fusion Asian.

Ms. G's, Victoria Street, Potts Point
It's a Tuesday night and it appears the initial hype and hysteria of Ms. G's has worn off. We're easily able to get an individual table for two, while the communal table never reaches its capacity all night.

The service is unexpectedly professional for the youthful setting of the restaurant with mismatched crockery, and even water top-ups seem to be one waitperson's priority all night long. Specials are proffered, including an enticing Momofuku-'inspired' pork chicharrons starter, but we stick to the normal menu given so many dishes already entice.

Plate o' Ms. G's pickles
I was very impressed with the plate of pickles: I'm accustomed to cucumber and gherkin, onion, carrot and peaches even, but the green capsicum, very red cabbage, thinly sliced fennel and celery were eye-openers.

The pickles were not overly sour, while maintaining an audible crunch - especially the unidentified round, red-orange pickle but not so much the kim chi and radish - and it was just a great starter to whet the appetite.

Jow's sweet and sour lamb ribs
One gripe I would have about the evening was the random and harried arrival of some dishes to the table. We hadn't even started on the pickles, nor received our drinks, before the lamb ribs arrived - which I would have expected a little later. There were several points in the evening where tabletop Tetris was necessary to fit all the plates on; although no other table seemed to have this issue.

Gripe aside, the lamb ribs weren't my pick of the menu, but I was definitely a convert after the first meaty rib bone. They had to have been deep fried for that unexpectedly crunchy surface texture while the sweet and sour sauce was a few iterations in sophistication over Chinese takeaway.

Lamb ribs are known to be highly fatty, but we didn't fare too badly with our portion, while the abundant herbs and lime added freshness and helped it all along.

Banh mi: pork belly (left) and chicken katsu (right)
These little baby burgers have been pretty hyped up; perhaps overly so. The pork banh mi features a deli pork slice similar to what you'd get in a Vietnamese pork roll, but the fatty chunk of pork belly on top of it leaves it for dust. The flavours in the pork are sensational, packing a punch along with the flavoured mayonnaise and coriander.

The chicken katsu is comparatively pedestrian whilst still being pleasant in its crunchy panko crumb, similarly oozing orange mayonnaise all over the thin, pickled vegetable strips and soft white burger-esque buns.

A virgin Ocean Mary
The waitress helpfully tells us that any cocktails can be made alcohol free; this featuring Ms. G's Bloody Mary mix, seaweed and gherkin sans vodka. Even booze free, this was a flavour-packed drink with much more of a spiced chilli kick than a classic version.

Good Morning Vietnam cocktail
My bubble tea packaged cocktail features shochu Japanese spirit shaken with raspberries, lime, palm sugar, Vietnamese mint and soda. There's a little more novelty over quality sadly, as it tastes rather bland with perhaps an excess of soda.

Nonetheless, it's a new experience to be drinking something alcoholic out of those thick straws, and perhaps a reason in itself for the relatively light alcoholic kick.

Ms. G’s grilled corn on the cob, parmesan, lime
The corn cob arrives as an impressive mess of parmesan cheese shavings and smells fabulous. Lime and coriander add the requisite Asian touch, although it also references Mexican elote.

The juicy blackened corn is the star of the show, and healthy at that, and we make sure to wipe up all the cheese possible using the corn cob.

“Spaghetti vongole” – surf clams, summer noodles, chilli, chorizo
This cheekily named dish looks as impressive as it sounds. The fresh noodles are wonderously chewy playing the role of al dente spaghetti while the chilli and chorizo partner the tender clams (pippies?) supremely. It's nice to see some vegetables thrown in here too, as well as more fresh herbs.

I'm a fan of the varied serving sizes at Ms. G's, with dishes like banh mi, pickles and corn ideal as mini entrees. We ended up pretty stuffed with the two larger shared dishes and the rest, and needed a breather before diving into dessert.

“Stoner’s Delight” – doughnut ice cream, chocolate, rice bubble,
pretzel, peanut brittle, marshmallow
There's a lot to tempt on the dessert menu, but I couldn't go past the idea of doughnut ice cream or home-made marshmallows. Stoner's Delight is a big drawcard on the menu, for both its name and combination of lovable ingredients, drug-affected or not.

The doughnut ice cream more than delivers on its promise of being doughy, sweet and cinnamon flavoured. The chocolate rice bubble squares are a little hard to spear with a fork, but take me right back to days of chocolate crackles.

I adore the savoury contrast of the pretzels in hard brittle but I adore even more the tart passionfruit marshmallows, which valiantly and successfully counteract the sweetness on the plate. We share this between two and lick the plate clean.

The overall bill doesn't end up as scary as shared dishes can sometimes be, or perhaps that's just the fairly booze-free evening working its magic. Ducking to the downstairs bathroom, past the very open kitchen, is as much an adventure as the menu, of which I think the mod squad of Dan Hong and Jowett Yu should be proud.

Ms G's on Urbanspoon


chocolatesuze said...

omg that pic of the corn! i want it! i need it!

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

The hoopla may have died down, but it's good to know the food still looks fab. I really want to try those lamb ribs as they look tremendous, and I would always leave room for dessert at this place!

Dumpling Girl said...

The crowd always made me reluctant to go back, so good to hear that it's died down a bit. The spaghetti vongole, sounds delish, must try next time.

Mel said...

I've been here twice now - most recently with my sister for Friday lunch and I think this place is GREAT! LOVE it...

Anonymous said...

Good to know it's less busy now, will schedule a visit soon. The lamb ribs look amazing, and the noodles quite interesting.

JB said...

I took my mom here when it first opened ("Asian mothers are the best mothers" indeed!).

We were fairly disappointed. It's now my least favourite Merivale restaurant.

Love your honest review.

gastronomous anonymous said...

love the pork belly banh mi here... a must order! and that corn... i could seriously do with one right now!

Tina said...

Hi suze - Nice to see you craving vegies ;)

Hi joey - I never would have thought the lamb ribs would be so spectacular - the surprise was half the fun!

Hi Dumpling Girl - I'm sure the crowds are still there on Friday and Saturday nights, but good earlier in the week.

Hi MissPiggy - I'm looking forward to my second visit to try all the things I didn't get to try...!

Hi lateraleating - Yes, it's no fun waiting 45 minutes for a meal.

Hi JB - Oh that's a shame; was it the food or otherwise? Not sure my mum would approve of the pricing but I think she would enjoy it otherwise.

Hi gastronomous anonymous - Yes, it's so much more interesting than the chicken bahn mi!

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

I think you tried nearly everything I didn't get to! I must make a return trip.... Look at the corn.. whoahhhhhhhh!

Tina said...

Hi Tina - We'll have to swap menus next time we each go! :)


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