On our fourth day, we had intended to wake up early and try the local breakfasts. Unfortunately for us, the bed was too warm and inviting for us to trek outside. So we wandered out around midday, wanting to find food before spending the afternoon at the Australian Museum.
As we walked past World Square, a familiar sign caught my eye. Din Tai Fung, one of the main reasons why I go to Sydney. Having already been there on Day 2, I paused for a few seconds whilst reconsidering whether I should be repeating myself in the limited week I had in Sydney. This was short lived, as the scent of dumplings waffled through the air and convinced me that my concerns were unfounded.
Compared to the food court at Westfield Central Plaza, the World Square store had full table service (for a significantly more expensive menu).
The sauces provided were reminiscent of the ones I frequented in Taiwan.
A large menu was provided. You browse the menu for what you want, and order on a tick sheet, which the waitress collects from you.
Ginger is provided for each person to douse in vinegar to dip their dumplings.
We ordered hot tea to share. I liked it a lot more than the one offered at Tim Ho Wan. It was nourishing and comforting oolong.
We started off with the Hot and Sour Soup, which was nice and thick. I liked how it had significant amounts of tofu, and the thick texture of the soup. I would have liked it to be more sour, but adding vinegar solved the problem quite easily.
Next up came the Xiao Long Bao. I found it even more enjoyable than the one at Central Plaza, because the skin was far more elastic in this instance, and the meat was even better in texture. In my humble opinion, this is the closest you can get to a perfect dumpling.
Next we tried the wanton noodle soup. I love how the noodles at Din Tai Fung are straight and ordered within the bowl (OCD much?), but that aside, the noodles were cooked to a good level of softness, and the broth was light and inviting. The dumplings had a good amount of chives and meat, and the skin was just the right thickness.
We also had a serving of the Chicken Fillet with Fried Rice. I found the fried rice here to be even more delicious than in Westfield, in terms of there being more of a balance between the crispy exterior and moist inside of the rice granule. The egg and spring onion added a lot to the flavour too, although the star of the meal was definitely the fried chicken, which was crispy and juicy but not too oily.
Din Tai Fung World Square
Price Range: $25 - $35 per person
After such a delicious lunch, we wanted something that would not disappoint us for dinner. After perusing reviews online, Ramen Ippudo back at Westfield Central Plaza seemed to be a good bet. With such a long line outside, we definitely anticipated something good.
We perused the menu whilst waiting outside
After approximately 40 minutes wait, we were finally shown in.
The place was laid back, full of communal tables, with people sharing tables and eating ramen. You can see decorative bowls and spoons all over the walls.
The menu was really big and very extensive. I really appreciate how they went into extensive they went into describing the way they made their ramen. It definitely added an extra level of appreciation for me.
To share the ramen, my friend and I got sharing bowls, which were provided promptly. I also note how they had wet wipes, which I found unusual in a ramen setting.
First to arrive were the gyoza. I was particularly impressed with how thin the skin was. Whilst it could have been crispier, the fillings were juicy and well marinated.
The first ramen that I tried was the Shiromaru Motoaji Special, which is their specialty. It consists of tonkotsu (pork) broth with thin white noodles, topped with cha siu, bean sprouts, black mushrooms and shallots. Compared to the ones I'd had at Taros, I found the soup to be more flavoursome, but also less creamy and rich. I note that the oil hadn't emulsified as much into the body of the soup. The noodles were cooked al dente but not overly so, and the cha siu was definitely one of the least fatty that I've had before.
The next to arrive was the Tori Shoyu Ramen Special. It consists of a light chicken broth cooked with bonito, rather than straight noodles, it had wavy egg noodles and chicken char siu, leeks, naruto and nori. In all honesty, I liked this better than the Shiromaru Motoaji Special, because in my opinion, whilst soup is definitely important in a bowl of ramen, the noodles is still the main attraction. The Tori Shoyu Ramen definitely manages to do this. Whilst the soup was light and delicious, it was versatile enough to accentuate the the tasty egginess of the noodles, which were delightfully springy to the taste. Other than this, I also liked the extra egg with the special set. It had a nice moist yolk, and the egg white had a nice smokey taste to it.
Price Range: $20 - $30 per person