Thursday, May 05, 2016

Fujipan Japanese Bakery, Sydney

I've spent a considerable amount of time in Sydney at this point, about 6 months in total over as many years.  I certainly wouldn't claim to know as much as locals, but, I have really taken the time to explore the culinary scene while there.  My first trip focused on higher end French cuisine, but quickly realized that it just doesn't compare to San Francisco.  On my next trip, I fell in love with the Thai food in Sydney, just so much better than in San Francisco.  I originally stuck with the less authentic places, but soon discovered that the real good eats could be discovered just walking around Thaitown (like the Thai hawker I reviewed last week).

Which is where I discovered Fujipan.  As you can probably guess from the name, it isn't thai, it is ... a Japanese bakery.  You know how much I love baked goods, so it shouldn't surprise you that it caught my eye, particularly as the goods are displayed right in a window to the street, and the aroma of fresh baked bread is impossible to miss.  Fresh items are constantly being brought out, so you know they really are baking continuously throughout the day.  Besides the baked goods, mostly breads, they also offer bottled beverages and ... soft serve ice cream.  A bakery with ice cream?  Um yes.

Fujipan quickly became one of my stops on my way home in the evening, just to pick up "a little something" to enjoy back at the hotel.  I really enjoyed trying the very unique (to me!) items, and would certainly return to find more.

The Space

Storefront.
Out front, Fujipan is just another storefront, albeit one with plenty of goodies lined up in the window, which is of course what drew me in.
So many choices!
The window isn't just for display though.  On the inside, there are signs indicating what each item is, and slidey plastic doors quasi-protecting the items.  The doors were always in a state of disarray, and seemed to be more annoying than do good, but, at least they tried to protect things?

Everything is self-serve, so you grab a tray and a set of tongs at the entrance, and help yourself to what you want.
Inside.
The shop is small, with a register at the front (cash only!), and baked goods along the front wall and one side wall, plus a table of packaged baked goods in the middle.
Signature Items.
On one wall is a description of some of their signature items, along with drawings.  I visited Fujipan many times, and at least half of these items I never saw.  Seems a bit odd for "signature items"?

The descriptions here were far more verbose than the ones on the cards in front of each item, so it was useful to study this before diving in.
Crazy Treats!
For my first treat, I had a very, very hard time picking.  I wanted the melon pan, after having a good one in Japan once, and trying hard to find a good one in Paris (but failing ... you'll see that review soon).  But there were so many other choices, both sweet and savory.  The doughnuts (filled with red bean, custard, etc) looked great.  And seriously, how ridiculous are the teriyaki dog (fluffy brioche bun, sausage, aioli) or the yakisoba pan (same bun, but actually filled with yakisoba) pictured here?

So much tempting stuff.
Cute Bag!
When you order multiple items, you get a cute little bag to take your goodies away in.  So, protip: order many things (and not just for the bag!).

Baked Goods

Taro Pan. $2.20.
"Sweet bun with taro cream."

I love taro.  I want taro in everything, so, I was thrilled to discover the taro pan.

It was kinda flat looking, a bit sad looking really, but said it was filled with cream and, well, it was taro.  It was a lovely purple on top (ohai taro!), and a bit hard when I picked it up with the tongs, yet soft on the pale bottom.  I can't say it seemed like it was going to be awesome.

But it was.
Taro Pan: Inside.
The bottom, as you can see here, was soft, fluffy, sweet dough.  It was not taro flavored, but was really delicious.

I do not think the top was actually taro flavored either, although it was purple.  It was a bit crispy, sweet, and, well, tasty.

The inside was the taro filling, not really "cream", but, mashed taro, with some chunks too.  It wasn't too sweet, which complimented the sweet bun quite nicely.

Overall, this was great.  It was fluffy, it was crispy, it was creamy.  Lots of textures, and not too sweet.  It totally hit the spot.

My favorite, and I'd get it again in a heartbeat.
Nicky Sausage. $2.50.
"Milk Bun, Fork Fross (sic) & sausage with Original Cream."

On my next visit, I got brave and went for the "Nicky Sausage".  This is a similar item to their signature "Nicky Lawson", a sweet milk bun filled with custard and topped with pork floss.  But, since I was considering this part of my "lunch", I decided adding sausage (protein!) would help justify that classification.

The bun was made up of 3 distinct balls, held together in a triangle shape.
Nicky Sausage: Inside. 
I eagerly broke off one ball, and bit into it.  Yes, there was sausage inside!  Each of the three balls of bread had a chunk of sausage within.

The dough was light, fluffy, and slightly sweet, and really delicious.  I love this style of bread.  The sausage was more like a hot dog, but tasty enough.  The pork floss on top was salty and quite tasty.

I really liked this, and totally understand now how the signature Nicky Lawson makes sense ... cream, fluffy bread, and salty pork floss actually sounds delicious to me.  Without a creamy component, this was actually a bit dry.  So, I did want that cream, although it would be strange with the sausage, so, maybe just some aioli like the teriyaki dog I saw?  Anyway, the Nicky Lawson is definitely on the list for next time.

Ojan however wasn't sold on this one, and didn't know what to make of the pork floss.  He told me that it was "an acquired taste" and he wasn't ready to commit to saying he liked it (or not).

My second favorite of the treats I tried.
Melon Pan. $1.60.
And finally, one day I eventually got the Melon Pan, as it is the item that first drew me in.  The description on the placard read "Sweet bun, Crispy Cream", but the one on the Signature Items sign gave the more informative "A delicate, sweet, soft bun, smothered in deliciously crunchy cookie."

Anyway, the melon pan.  The bread was light, sweet, and fluffy, very good.  The top did have sugar crystals, and the signature melon look, but, it wasn't crispy.  I was really looking forward to the crispy sugar cookie top, and it failed in that department.  Maybe it was just too humid that day?  We did eat it immediately after purchase though.

My third pick.  Ojan said, "it is pretty good".
An Pan. $1.90.
"Sweet bun with Red Bean." is how the placard described it, or, "Fluffy filled with our original redbean Jam which is hand-made in a traditional Japanese method." said the longer description on the sign.

I have a problem with always thinking I like red bean. I'm not sure what it is, but, I always think I like it, and then I don't.  And when I was surrounded by so many red bean items, I couldn't resist getting something with red bean again.  Plus ... protein?

The bun was one of the pre-packaged items, rather than on display in the cases.  I'm not sure why they choose to have some packaged this way.

The top was shiny and much darker than the other items, sprinkled with sesame seeds, both white and black.
An Pan: Inside.
As you can see, inside was a generous amount of red bean.  It contained whole beans and some mashed, and was slightly sweetened.  It was ... red bean.  Oops, I don't really love red bean.

The dough though was really what made it not a winner for me, it wasn't light and fluffy like the melon pan, the Nicky Sausage, or the taro pan.  It wasn't hard, but it just didn't have that doughy lightness that I loved in the others.  My least favorite, and I wouldn't get it, or any of the similar buns with other fillings, again.

Ice Cream

So, in addition to the baked goods, Fujipan also has ice cream.  And not just ice cream, soft serve ice cream!

The ice cream is available in two flavors, matcha or black sesame.  They sell a single size.  And only in a waffle cone.  No toppings.
Black Sesame Ice Cream. $2.90.
One, hot, sticky evening, I headed to Thaitown to pick up dessert.  I was planning to get some variety of pudding, with coconut milk, and all sorts of interesting goodies in it from the Thai dessert cart.  But ... it was hot.  I didn't want sweet, sticky dessert.  I wanted ice cream.

So, I walked right past my intended Thai dessert hawker, and kept on going, a few blocks further, to Fujipan.  Yup, to the bakery.  For ice cream.

Ordering was easy, since I couldn't pick a size, and didn't even have the choice of cup or cone.  Since I didn't want caffeine, black sesame was my only flavor option.

The cone was fine, standard waffle cone, not stale.

The ice cream was fairly icy, not creamy and smooth like I was hoping, but the black sesame flavor was lovely.  They have no toppings, so alas, no sprinkles for me, always an integral part of a soft serve cone.

Overall, this was fairly lackluster.  Standard cone, icy ice cream, but good flavor.  It hit the spot, but I wouldn't go there for ice cream again.  Where would I go for soft serve ice cream in Sydney?  Easy: Aqua S.
Fujipan Japanese Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Waffling Leftovers: Pancakes

By now, you are quite familiar with my Waffling Leftovers series.  I've shown you how to transform your leftover Italian cuisine (pizza, lasagna, and more), your casseroles (mac and cheese, tuna noodle, etc), and your side dishes (mashed potatoes, cheesy grits, yadda yadda).

Now, it is time to turn attention to a totally different type of cuisine: breakfast.  Perhaps the most natural fit for my waffle maker, since, well, isn't breakfast when most people use their waffle maker?  But of course, I'm not going to make a waffle batter, I'm going to take a leftover, and just reheat it in my waffle make.

So, Leftover Pancakes: Will it Waffle? Sure ... but there are better ways to reheat pancakes.
The Original: IHOP Harvest Grain N' Nut Pancake.
My starting point was an IHOP Harvest Grain N' Nut pancake.  You know how much I love those things, so I started experimenting with not eating my entire giant stack while at IHOP, and bringing some home to enjoy later.

It turns out, pancakes freeze and reheat very well.  Just wrap them in foil, bring them up to temperature in the toaster oven that way, and finish off with the foil removed to crisp them up a bit.  Totally fine.  But I thought I could do better with my waffle iron.
No mess with this one!
I started with just half, in case it was disaster, so I could fall back on my standard reheating technique.

Unlike most things I've waffled, this was simple, and there was no mess.  No cheese oozing out, no falling apart.  Just a pancake.  In a waffle iron.
Waffled Pancake + Honey Butter + Whipped Cream.
It was ... fine.

It did reheat perfectly well this way.  It was easier even than my standard foil-wrapped and then toasted technique.  But it wasn't awesome, although in part I blame the pancake itself.  I think it would work better with a much fluffier pancake, as the thin style just made this too crispy for my liking.

I did see the appeal in creating the waffle pockets in the pancake though.  Not pictured is the warm maple syrup I also added, and it was fun to pour it directly into the holes (as I do with waffles anyway).  I guess I'm just not sure what this buys you over just a waffle, or just a pancake, besides being a really easy way to reheat a pancake.

I'm more a fan of waffling leftovers where the item is completely transformed by waffling, this didn't enhance it in any way, but, it did work.  So, quasi-success?
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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Ms. G's, Sydney

I've now been to Ms. G's 3 times.  Please start with my original review from February 2015, when just Ojan and I visited, then move on to the review of my visit a few months later in May when I brought 10 people, and then conclude with my last review this past year, with a group of 4.

Update Review, February 2016

When I was in Sydney in January and May last year, I went to Ms. G's both times.  Our first visit was just Ojan and I, and we had a great meal, but recognized that we'd really prefer a group.  So we more than made up for that in May, and went with a group of ... 10 or so folks.  This time, we went with just 4, which I've decided is the group size.

The menu was mostly the same as a year ago, just some slight evolution of a few dishes.  We stuck with a couple of the classics, and tried a few new items as well.  The service was ok, not as good as previous visits, but it was also the first day on the job for our server, who did a great job given his total lack of knowledge of ... anything, and he was quite friendly.

Overall, a fine experience, and I'd still be happy to return again another time for a great cocktail, a cheeseburger spring roll, and an epic dessert!

The Space

Bathroom Sinks!
Although I described it in my first review, I didn't have a photo of the sinks.  So, here you go: ridiculous pails for sinks, pipes for faucets, and wooden planks for stall doors.

Drinks

The drink menu is really a highlight at Ms. G's.  It is broken down into "packaged drinks" (like bubble teas),  "unpackaged drinks" (regular cocktails), and mocktails, all of which sound great.
Thai Colada. $17.
"Havana Club 3 Anos Thai infusion, coconut water, lime pineapple."

Picking a cocktail was hard, but, eventually I settled on the Thai colada, served packaged, but, sans any boba component.

This was a really great cocktail.  It was a bit sweet from the fruity pineapple, but it was also a bit spicy from the chilis.  The coconut water was the perfect backdrop.  Refreshing, sweet, spicy, just really quite nice.  It was a tad too sweet at first, but as the ice melted, it mellowed out.

I'd gladly get this again.
Raj Mirage. $8.
"Pandan, calpis, lime, fresh mint, soda."

Ojan went for a mocktail, the beautiful green raj mirage.  It reminded me a bit of the "What's in your pan dan?" cocktail that I enjoyed on my second visit.

This was excellent, one of the best mocktails I've ever had.  Such a lovely subtle flavor from the pandan, a bit sweet, very refreshing.  We both quite enjoyed this.

The Food

The menu format at Ms. G's remained the same as our previous visits, broken into "To Start", "Raw", "Salads and Smaller Plates", "Larger", and "Desserts", all items made to share.  We skipped the raw dishes this time, but hit all other menu categories.

To Start

The only section of the menu that isn't really share plates is the "To Start" section, sold as individual bites, so everyone can pick and choose which of these they'd like.  As on our previous visits, these items arrived shockingly fast.
Prawn toast, yuzu aioli.  $6.
I was ... shocked when the prawn toast arrived.  On our first visit, I lamented how it was far too large for Ojan and I to finish between the two of us.  We both liked it, but, it was too rich at that size.  This time ... uh, much smaller.

So, maybe they heeded my advice?  The prawn toast is now about two bites big.  And we had 4 people planning to share it.  Oops.

Fortunately, the To Start section of the menu always comes ridiculously quickly, and we just ordered another.  Unfortunately ... I really didn't like it this time.

The toast underneath was too crunchy.  The prawn seemed a bit fishy, but, I'll be honest, I just wasn't  into prawns on the entire trip, so maybe I just wasn't going to like prawns.  It was coated in sesame seeds, which made it nicely crunchy, which I liked.  But the real killer was how incredibly oily it was.  I know it was freshly fried, but ... I just didn't want that much oil still dripping off.

I did love the yuzu aioli on top.  I wasn't sad that this was so small though, as I really didn't like it, and $6 seemed high for such a tiny bite.
Cheeseburger spring roll ($6). Mini bánh mì (chicken katsu). $6.50 each.
The bahn mi are a class Ms. G's dish, and on our first visit, Ojan and I had the pork belly version.  I would have gotten that again, except I had pork belly nearly every day for the entire week prior, and I just was incredibly sick of pork belly. (Side note: Sydney, why you so obsessed with pork belly?)  The other option was chicken katsu, and since I don't like chicken, I also skipped that, but I must admit, they actually did look pretty good.  Super crispy chicken, dripping in aioli ... tempting!

I did however opt for a cheeseburger spring roll.  It was pretty much exactly as I remembered from our second visit: absolutely delicious.  Still piping hot from the fryer, super crispy spring roll wrapper, ground beef, melty cheese, and special sauce inside  It is a ridiculous creation, and one that actually just works amazingly well.  You get all the flavor of a fancy big mac, just in a far easier to eat form.  I really do love the taste of a good burger, but I rarely want a huge burger, and all that bread.  Here, you get the gooey cheese, the beef, and the special sauce, and you can focus on those elements in all their glory.  Plus a crispy wrapper?  Genius.

I really liked this, and it was the dish of the night for me.  It also made me think, I like to waffle things, but, perhaps a future project could be, turning things into spring rolls?  I also think this one in particular would work great as a fried dumpling.  So many creative possibilities.

Salads & Smaller Plates

We skipped the Raw selection of the menu (oysters, tuna tartare, steak tartate, and ceviche), and moved right on to the Salads and Smaller Plates section.

Part of me wanted the "Vegan's Delight" salad, just to have some veggies, but, the others weren't really interested.  I was interested in the burrata with "strange flavor sauce", because I love burrata, but, I can get burrata anywhere, and wanted to opt for more unique items.  The final salad was poached prawn and chicken, which we skipped.  So, no salads for us (side note: why weren't these just listed in a "Salads" section of the menu?)

So, moving on to the smaller plates, we skipped the sweet and sticky pig tails again, although I really do intend to get those sometime.  We also skipped the "Persian fried rice" and the chargrilled brocollini, because, meh.  We went for the other options though.
Salt & vinegar eggplant tempura. $15.
Continuing with even more fried food, we have the eggplant tempura.

The previous fried dishes were clearly all delivered to us hot and fresh, but this was even more ridiculously piping hot.  After every bite, I'd try to wait a few minutes for it to cool more so I could enjoy it better, but it stayed so hot!  No, I'm not complaining about them delivering food so fresh, just noting, wow it was hot.

Anyway, this was a really interesting dish.  We all took our time considering it.  Did we like it?  We all thought so, but, it was just different.  The batter was crispy, and yes, salt and vinegar.  All the awesome flavor from a salt and vinegar chip, in a batter.  Very successful, although a bit too oily for my taste.  Inside was eggplant, and the part I didn't necessarily love, as it was kinda mushy, and some bites were filled with seeds.

But the flavor and freshness were spot on, and the aftertaste was my favorite part.  The salt and vinegar flavor lingered pleasantly.

It was served with ponzu sauce, which I used as it was provided, but didn't love.  Two other diners decided to dip it in sriracha instead, and liked it better that way.  Ojan opted to just have it sans sauce, and, I had my final bite that way.  It was clearly better on its own, somehow even the mild ponzu took away from it.

A very interesting dish, not sure I'd get it again, but I'm glad I tried it, and my third favorite dish.  I'd love to see them try salt and vinegar frying more items ...
“Curry Puff Jaffle”. $16.
"Toasted sandwich of Singaporean chicken curry, buffalo mozzarella."

The previous day, Ojan and I had a conversation with some Australians about how we had never had jaffles.  Our fellow diners at Ms. G's had only lived in Australia about 6 months themselves, and also had never had jaffles, so, when we saw this on the menu, we had to order it.

The filling was chicken though, so I was less excited about it.

Inside was a well spiced chicken curry (with potato) and lots of melty mozzarella cheese.  Curry and mozzarella didn't quite make sense to me, but I did love how melty it was.

The exterior was crispy, and I must admit, Australians seem to be on to something with this form factor.  They took our grilled cheese and really improved it.  I'm certainly interested in trying a jaffle with another filling.

Larger

We also opted for one "Larger" plate.  This section of the menu has the most options, but, we only got one, as we were just more interested in the smaller plates.  So, we skipped the fried chicken that Ojan had enjoyed before and the BBQ calamari that I had liked.  We skipped sweet & sour lamb ribs, udon noodles, bbq prawns, pan fried mulloway, skirt steak, and bo ssam.  So many options, but, really, the smaller things just sounded more tempting, so, we filled up on them.
Fragrant red curry of snow crab, rice noodles and curry leaves. $29.
This was a total wildcard for us, not something I had any idea what to expect, as I hadn't researched it in advance.  But I like crab, and curry sounded good.

We were puzzled when it arrived, a big bowl of soupy curry.  We all just looked at each other, unsure how to proceed.  We were given no serving utensils, and the tables were stocked only with forks, knives, and chopsticks.  We had no idea how to serve it, let alone eat it once we got it onto our plates.

Every dish at Ms. G's is meant to be shared, and we also only had share plates, not bowls, so we really weren't sure how this was supposed to work.  We asked for spoons, and were given two to serve it with, but none for us to use individually.  So now we could get the soupy curry onto our plates, where it ran everywhere, and then ... what?  I gave up on being polite, tilted the plate, and just drank the delicious curry sauce from the plate.  My table mates were more civilized however, until one of them tried using a boba straw to suck it up, which turned out to be ... impossible.  The long, thick straw required way too much suction, and you just couldn't do it.  It doesn't seem like an impossible task, but I assure you, it is.  We all tried, and all sat there looking ridiculous.  There may or may not be video of this.

Anyway, the curry.  The wide rice noodles were nicely cooked although unremarkable, and I wish they were able to soak up the curry sauce more.  The crab was shredded snow crab, nice crab, not fishy.  There were lots of fresh herbs.

But the sauce, man that was good sauce, which made the whole impossible-to-suck-it-up thing that much more disappointing.  It was so flavorful, just a bit spicy, and truly delicious.  I'd love to see it served some other way though.

Dessert

And then, of course, dessert.  You may remember the ridiculous dessert we had last time, and, I was of course excited to try them out again.  Most were just slight variations on what we had before.  We skipped the "Stoner's Delight Part 3", as we had it twice before, and the "Tropical Passion", because Ojan doesn't really like passionfruit, and the others just sounded better.
“Namira’s Dream”. $14.
"Lychee tapioca, strawberries, mascarpone mousse, strawberry granita and yoghurt Calpis sorbet."

Our first selection was a new one on the menu, at least not one that I had seen before, "Namira's Dream".  Who is Namira?  I have no idea.

I'll admit, on the surface, this does not sound like a Julie dessert.  Fruity is not normally what I go for, nor is sorbet.  But, I do love tapioca and mascarpone, so, I was interested.

So, what did we have here?  In the very bottom was tapioca, soft little balls, mixed with square cubes of sweet lychee.  The strawberry granita wasn't really for me, as I kinda expected, icy, and way too sweet.  The yogurt Calpis sorbet was also a bit icy, but tart.  The mascarpone mousse was good though, fluffy, and not too sweet, although I didn't taste the mascarpone very strongly.

So, I liked the tapioca, the lychee, and the mascarpone mousse, but, overall, not really a great dessert.
The BOSS. $14.
"Thai milk tea ice cream, salted caramel, honeycomb, puffed rice, kaya french toast, blueberry jam."

On our first visit, we had a version of the BOSS, that was slightly different with buttered popcorn ice cream instead of thai milk tea, and popcorn brittle instead of puffed rice.  We adored the kaya french toast then, so, we had to get this version.

However, we asked to have the Thai milk tea ice cream switched for the doughnut ice cream from the Stoner's Delight dish, not because we love doughnut ice cream, but, because we didn't want the caffeine from the Thai tea.

The kaya french toast was again the star of the dish, sweet, sticky, but way too small!  We all loved that component, hidden at the base of the dish.

On top of that was the blueberry jam, which I felt was too sweet, just like last time, and I thought that there was too much.  The salted caramel was also super sweet.  The honeycomb was fine, sweet, chewy, but, also, there just seemed to be way too much of it.  We had a lot of it left over after finishing everything else, which I slowly nibbled on as we sat there, but, the balance really was off on these sweet components.

I liked the crunch from the puffed rice, and the doughnut ice cream was fine.

So, overall, this wasn't the magic it was before, and it had just too many out of balance sweet components.  But that all said, I adore that kaya french toast.  What I really wanted was the kaya french toast, just with some mascarpone mousse from the previous dessert.  Leave out everything else.  I wonder if they'd do that?

Update Review, May 2015

In January, I discovered Ms. G's with Ojan, but lamented that we really needed to go with a group.  So, a few months later, when I was in Sydney again, we returned, this time with a group ... of 10.  Ms. G's was a good fit for the group, and we had a great time.  The cocktails continue to impress, and the food is good (although heavy) and the desserts oh so epic.  Sorry for the missing photos in this section, managing to get photos with such a big group was a bit impossible.

The Space

Communal Table in Bar Area.
Since we had 10 people, and no reservation, we weren't even able to break into smaller groups to sit in the restaurant with table service.  Luckily, the upper bar area (turns out, there are two bars here!), is reserved for walk-ins, and one table there seats 10.  And it was vacant.  Perfect!

The bar area does not have table service, so we had to order at the bar.  Given our group size, I decided to just make an executive decision to order for the group, as I imagined the chaos that would result if all 10 people tried to just order dishes, particularly given that everything is designed to be served family style.  I think this worked well.

I did ask to have the bartender come over to take cocktail orders, assuming it would actually be easier for him, even if this isn't standard.  He agreed with no problem.

Drinks 

We obviously started with drinks.  As I mentioned in my previous review, Ms. G's has quite the cocktail program.  On our last visit, Ojan and I both enjoyed our drinks, and this visit was no exception.  Throughout the night, our large group ordered just about every drink, all mostly successful.  If nothing else, they looked interesting!
What’s in your pan Dan? $15.
"Beefeater gin, coconut water, pandan, lemon, lime."

For my first drink, I decided to get a "non-packaged" drink.  Yes, the bubble tea concept is fun, but, I did that last time, and this drink sounded way too interesting to pass up.  I don't have much exposure to pandan, but on our previous visit, we were fascinated by it.  The only place I'd seen it show up before was in desserts, not cocktails, so I hoped this would provide another change to try to understand it better.

The drink was a brilliant green.  Such a stunner.  And, a pandan leaf was included in the drink itself.  Yes!  Now I could actually see what it was after all.

The drink was great.  I particularly loved the coconut flavor and subtle pandan.  I'd definitely get this again.

I really enjoyed this drink, and, at $15, it was actually slightly less than the Sydney standard of $17-20.
Mocktail.
Ojan opted for a pandan based mocktail, since he too was fascinated by pandan.  It was also a brilliant green, and his came garnished with a bright purple flower.  He enjoyed it.
Pearl Diver. $16.
"Strawberry infused Lillet Blanc, Wyborowa vodka, Prosecco & strawberry pearls."

For my second cocktail, I decided to have a packaged drink, and, in particular, one with pearls.

This was a very sweet cocktail. I liked the fizziness that the Prosecco added.  The pearls however were the weakest component.  They weren't really like the popping boba you find at froyo or bubble tea shops, and had a strange consistency.  The strawberry flavor was good, but, they were just a bit off.

Still, it was quite fun to drink a cocktail, with pearls, with a straw.

The $16 price was again a bit lower than Sydney standards, even more notable since this had the addition of pearls.
Mocktail.
And for his second drink, Ojan also went for a packaged one.  I lost my notes on it, but, he liked this one too.  It is really nice that they have as many fun, interesting mocktails as they do cocktails.

To Start

As on our first visit, the selections we picked from the "To Start" section of the menu came shockingly fast, seriously, within moments.  These items are all sold individually, so I just got a pile of each.
Cheeseburger spring rolls. $5 each.
Yes, you read that caption correctly.  These are, indeed, cheeseburger spring rolls.

On our last visit, you may recall that I mentioned the table next to us ordering these, and loving them.  We had no choice but get them this time.  And, as executive orderer for the group, I decided that everyone would surely want one, so we got a big plate full.  They vanished, nearly as quickly as they arrived.

The spring rolls were just as awesome, or alternately, horrifying, as you can imagine.  There is no complicated way to describe them.  They tasted exactly like a cheeseburger, but, well, inside a spring roll wrapper.

The spring roll wrapper was perfectly crispy, not too oily, and they were clearly freshly fried and delivered to us straight out of the fryer.  I really appreciate how Ms. G's nails this, always bringing the food ridiculously hot and fresh.

Inside was ... cheeseburger.  Ground beef, cheese, and something that sure tasted a lot like McDonald's special sauce.  It was heavy on the mayo mixture and the cheese, but, in a good way.  There was no pretending to be eating anything remotely light here, but, but as we ordered essentially deep fried cheeseburgers, this is to be expected.

I almost wanted some kind of dipping sauce, since that is how I normally eat spring rolls.  But I'm not sure what.  Just dipping into ketchup (er, "tomato sauce"), didn't seem necessary.  Actually, I think it might have been more fun to have the special sauce as a dipping sauce, and the filling a bit more beefy?

Anyway, these were good, the crispy exterior and creamy interior totally worked, and, if you are in the mood for a cheeseburger, by all means, order one.

$5 price tag was fine, and I appreciated that you could order these individually.  In the future, I'd probably split one.  I easily finished mine, but, half seems like it would have been just as satisfying ...
Mini bánh mì- crispy pork belly or chicken katsu $6.50 each.
I also ordered a bunch of the bánh mì for the table, a mix of chicken or pork belly.  Last time, I found the bun unremarkable, and the pork belly not really my style, but I knew these would be crowd pleasers, as they are one of Ms. G's biggest hits.  I didn't order one for myself, but after everyone started raving, I stole a bite.

Interesting ... I went for the chicken.  You may recall that I don't like chicken, but, I knew I didn't like the pork belly last time, so, this actually made sense.

The chicken was really crispy, perfectly fried.  As before, bánh mì was loaded with creamy, delicious aioli.  The slaw component was a nice compliment to the fried.  I actually really enjoyed my bite, and would consider eating another.  But really, I'm sure it was just the aioli that I loved.  Others were all quite satisfied with these, and Ojan said the chicken bánh mì was his favorite dish of the night.

Raw

The next section of the menu is the lighter, raw options.  Since I knew how heavy the entire rest of the meal was, I opted to get 3 of the 4 raw dishes, skipping only the oysters, as those didn't seem very unique.
Vietnamese steak tartare, prawn crackers. (GF) $18.
I skipped the steak tartare, since I don't care for steak tartare, but I thought the classic style plus the prawn crackers on the side was a fun touch.
Spiced tuna tartare, green chilli, lemon, sour cream, pappadams. (GF) $20.
I planned to have a bite of the tuna tartare, but it never made its way down to our end of the table.  So, no review from me, sorry! Doh.  The trouble with big groups ...

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Ocean trout tostada, green papaya, guacamole, red nahm jim. (GF) $20.

Since the ocean trout tostada had guacamole, and I'm allergic to avocado, I mostly skipped it, but I still tried a bite of the papaya salad and trout.  The trout was light and fresh.  The tostada was impossible to split and clearly designed to be a single (large) bite each.  It seemed like a nicely composed dish though, with the crispy base, refreshing salad, and creamy guacamole.

Salads and Smaller Plates

‘Buddha’s delight’ a tasty and textural vegetarian salad. (GF) $14.
Yes, I ordered a salad.  Not something I'd normally get, but I actually read good reviews of it.  Plus, I was still attempting to provide some counterbalance to all the heavy food, and figured some vegetables wouldn't hurt.  And, it claimed to be "tasty" and "textural", both things I like.

I honestly have no idea what was in it.  Lots of shredded and shaved vegetables.  I certainly identified fennel and cucumber, and some type of seaweed.  But beyond that?  I have no idea.  It was light and fresh, as expected, lightly dressed.  The "textural" aspect of the description came from assorted seeds sprinkled on top, and some other crispy things.  I have no idea if the non-GF version has more crunchy bits, but we had the gluten-free version since we had a GF diner.

There isn't much more to say here, it was nice to have some vegetables, but it wasn't remarkable in any way. 

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Prawn Toast.

Moving back into heavier dishes, I also ordered the prawn toast for the table, another Ms. G's signature dish that I enjoyed before.  This time, taking just a chunk was exactly what I wanted, and I appreciated the crunch, the deep fry, and the aioli again.

Larger

And now, for the larger dishes.  I had my eye on the "Cold Soba" with octopus and the egg noodles with snow crab, but alas, they were sold out.

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Jow’s sweet & sour lamb ribs. $29.

I don't like lamb (I know, I know.  Believe me, I have tried, I really have).  So I skipped the lamb ribs entirely, although the sauce looked amazing.

I expected these to be a crowd pleaser, and folks dug in very eagerly, but I don't think they were anyone's favorite dish, as no one really seemed eager to finish it off.
Fried baby chicken, honey mustard sauce. $25
Another dish I ordered to be a crowd pleasure, not because it sounded good to me, as I don't like chicken.

Of course, I tried a bite.  The exterior was super crispy, the interior moist.  Really well fried chicken.  And, like most of our dishes, piping hot.  Everyone burned their fingers picking up pieces.

Ojan said that this dish, and the fried chicken bánh mì, were his favorite dishes, which is surprising because he doesn't particularly like chicken either.

I took this photo once everyone had already dug in, so no, this is not what the portion actually looked like.  The full serving was a big pile of fried chicken, both wings and drumsticks.
Charcoal grilled king prawns, miso butter, lemon. $29.
The last big dish was grilled prawns.  I hated it.

The prawn tasted fishy.  But that wasn't the problem.  The problem is whatever else made up the dish was just gross to me.  I'm sorry, I don't have any better description.  It was just nasty.  So nasty.

No one else liked it either, and most were put off by the fact that they had to extract the prawn from the shell.  That wasn't an issue for me, and I liked the serving style of the whole grilled prawn, but wow, the taste of this was just awful.  So awful.

Desserts 

And now, moving on to the desserts.  I do like the savory food at Ms. G's, but, the dessert we had on our previous visit was so amazing that it was basically the reason I wanted to return.  Plus, Ojan and I skipped the most epic sounding dessert on our previous visit because it was just too heavy after our huge meal and it was just the two of us, and this time I went prepared, and intentionally saved room for it.

Spoiler: the desserts did not disappoint.
“Halo Halo”. (GF) $14.
"Pine lime ice, tropical fruits, mango pearls, coconut sorbet."

There was only one gluten-free dessert on the menu, so I ordered it for our GF diner.  He shared a few bites with me.

It was certainly not the style of dessert I ever go for, but I was glad to try it.  Of all the desserts, this is the only one that really seemed appropriate after such a heavy meal.

It was light, fruity, refreshing.  The most interesting component was what seemed to be freeze dried tangerine segments?  I also liked the assorted tropical fruits, really fruity and fresh.

If you want something light, or like tropical fruit, this is a good option.
The BOSS. $14.
"Buttered popcorn ice cream, salted caramel, honeycomb, popcorn brittle, kaya French toast, blueberry jam." 

Next up was the dessert that I fell in love with last time.  I only got a small bite this time, but the kaya french toast was just as magical as before.  Soft, hot, doughy, delicious.  The popcorn brittle was better this time around, it stayed crispier, but really, it was still more like caramel corn, not brittle.
“Stoner’s Delight part 3”. $14.
"Doughnut ice cream, peanut dulce de leche, peanut & pretzel brittle, crispy bacon, mars bar brownie, passionfruit curd, potato chips and deep fried nutella."

I saved the best for last.  This is the dessert we wanted on our previous visit, but decided not to order since we were totally stuffed, and wanted something a bit lighter.  Of course, The BOSS didn't turn out to be a light option at all, but this sounded even more over the top.

I eagerly dove into this one.  Now, I'll admit, this is a dessert that sounds like it is trying too hard.  I mean, really?  Doughnut ice cream? Crispy bacon?  Mars bar brownie?  Potato chips?  Deep fried Nutella?  Come on.  But seemingly overdoing it is a theme at Ms. G's, and they manage to pull it off.

First, I'll give a walkthrough of what was on the plate.

On the bottom was the peanut dulce de leche and the peanut & prezel brittle.  On top of that was the doughnut ice cream and passionfruit curd.  Around the sides were chunks of mars bar brownie, deep fried nutella balls, and raspberries.  Sprinkled on top was bacon bits.  Sticking out were obviously potato chips.

Ok, now, breaking it down.

The peanut dulche de leche and brittle were awesome.  Great peanut flavor, awesome crunch, great sweetness.

The ice cream really did taste like doughnut and was perfectly creamy.  Turns out, doughnut ice cream is tasty.  The passionfruit curd I did not care for.  I don't usually like citrus curd, so that is part of the reason, but it also just didn't seem to fit in with the other components.  Passionfruit and peanuts?  Meh.  But it was another nice creamy component.

The deep fried nutella were the lighter colored balls, coated in powdered sugar.  These were everything you'd want them to be.  Crispy exterior, with hot liquid nutella that burst out when you cut one open.  The mars bar brownie was just little chunks of brownie, but a good chocolate component.  The raspberries were a bit silly alongside everything else.  "Here, have some token fruit!"  They did add a pop of color though.

The bacon I didn't actually taste at all, just tiny little bacon bits scattered on top were too easily lost.  The chips were salty and crispy, and kinda fun, but I would have liked them transformed somehow.  I could imagine the chips and bacon turned into a crumble of sorts to sprinkle over it all perhaps?  Still, the salty, crunchy component was nice.

Just like The BOSS, this was a creation where all the components just worked together so well.  There was creamy and crunchy.  Sweet and salty.  Hot and cold.  I loved perfecting bites with all the different components.  I could take or leave the brownie, chips, and bacon, but everything else was incredible (besides the passionfruit curd, which I didn't like).

We devoured this, and promptly ordered another.  Definitely the dish of the night, although I still can't decide if I liked it, or the BOSS, more.  Both were incredible.

Original Review, February 2015

For dinner one night in Sydney, Ojan and I ventured to Pott's Point, to Ms. G's, for Vietnamese food.  Our previous experiences in Sydney had taught us that it really isn't the place to try to do fine dining, so on this trip, we set out to experience what Sydney is good at: Asian cuisine.  We started with a bunch of thai places, like Chat ThaiHome Thai, and Sailor's Thai Canteen (and Sailor's Thai Restaurant),  but decided to move on to Vietnamese after a few days.  We needed SOME variety, right?

Not that Ms. G's is really traditional Vietnamese.  It is one of the Merivale group's establishments, so, it is certainly fusion and quite hip.  I read that service wasn't good, but actually, we were quite surprised by the quality of service.  While the place is far hipper than we are, no one was remotely snobby towards us, and in fact, the staff were super friendly and genuinely enthusiastic about the food and drinks, happy to give recommendations.

The food is definitely unique, and I can easily see why one might say that they are trying to hard, but ... the dishes were good, clearly well thought out, and well executed.  Yes, the dishes are kinda crazy (cheeseburger spring rolls? doughnut ice cream?), but, the components actually all work.  The flavors are there, the dishes are balanced, and the textures are a highlight.  I'll admit, I was lured in by the insane sounding desserts (more on that later!), but I'd go back for the savory food too, which, is always saying something coming from me.

Ojan and I really enjoyed our meal, and would certainly return, although I definitely recommend coming with a group of at least 4.  The food is all designed to be shared, and even though we thought we were ordering a small amount for two of us, it was way too much.
Booths.
We were seated in the forth floor, out of 5 floors.  Each floor is fairly small though, so it isn't actually a huge restaurant.

The decor throughout was quite quirky and unique.   Along one wall of our floor was blue booths.  They were against a brick wall, with desk lamp style lighting over each booth.   None of the lamps were the same.   When our share plates were brought to us, they didn't match either.  Nor did our chairs, or any of the chairs at neighboring tables.  So hip.

The floor below us had very active bar area and a few tables, and is also the level you enter at.  I didn't get a glimpse of the top floor.
Cutlery and napkins built-in!
The tables where we were seated were made of ... plywood.

Each table came with chopsticks, silverware, napkins, and bubble tea straws in a well or bucket, self-serve.  Yes, bubble tea straws were necessary for this meal.  More on those soon.
Jungle Table!
One of the more desirable seats in the room was right in the windows, surrounded by plants, almost jungle-like.

From our table, we could see into the next floor down, which was entirely devoted to the kitchen.  It was busy, cranking out food incredibly quickly.

One floor below that was the bathrooms, which I mention only because they were somehow even more unique than the rest of the decor, and perhaps even than the food to follow.  The stall doors were plywood, with hooks and latches to secure them shut.  The sink was a metal pail.  The faucet was pipes.  I wish I had my camera with me when I visited, as it was fairly crazy.  Ojan said that all the other unique elements of the restaurant worked, but the bathroom was too far in the "trying too hard" direction.  I still thought it was fun.
The Ginger Ninja. $16.  Good Morning Virgin.  $8.
The menu is extensive, broken into several sections: "To start", "Raw", "Salads and smaller plates", "Larger", and "Dessert", along with multiple pages devoted to drinks, not even counting the separate wine menu.

Ojan was surprised to see so much of the menu devoted to drinks, but they did have beer, sake, and a ridiculous lineup of cocktails.  I understand why the bar area was bumping.  Some were listed as "unpackaged" and others as "packaged", and we quickly learned what that meant.  For Ojan, they even had a mocktails section, so he got to join in the fun.

We each ordered a drink as we settled in to take in the menu.  I went for the "The Ginger Ninja": Olmeca Altos Plata tequila, home made ginger syrup, elderflower liqueur, lime, and ginger beer.  As a "packaged" drink, this meant that it came like bubble tea, sealed top and all.  Bubble tea straws were available at the table with the other utensils, so we were able to select our color of choice, and poke them in.  Yay, fun.  They also did have some drinks that included pearls.

Mine was a very nicely balanced drink.  I felt the tequila, but it was not strong when I drank it.  The ginger was very pronounced, but again, not overkill, just refreshing.  The cubes of cucumber were almost like boba, except that since they were floating,  so I wasn't able to suck them up.

It also turns out that drinking alcoholic cocktails through a large straw is a bit dangerous, particularly when they are well-balanced and refreshing like this.  I finished mine way, way too quickly!

Ojan selected the "Good Morning Virgin": Raspberry, Vietnamese mint, lime, and ginger beer.  He didn't care much for it, and deemed it the weakest part of the meal, basically just sugar water.  But, at least in a fun vessel?

The food is all intended to be served family style and since there were only two of us, this was a bit hard.  Looking at the other tables around us, it was clear that the "Larger" plates would be far too much, so we decided to skip all of them, which included more classic main dishes like noodles or roasted fish, and their signature fried chicken and ribs.  We also skipped the raw section, not because we weren't interested, but because we were trying to narrow down our choices, and it was hard.  There were too many great sounding dishes, plus we were certain we wanted to save room for dessert.
To Start: Mini bánh mì (crispy pork belly). $6.
We started with an item from the "To Start" menu, which are all items served and priced individually.  If I was with a larger group, I really would have ordered all the "To Start" items!  One choice is grilled corn on the cob, smothered in parmesan cheese, that I read rave reviews of, and saw many tables ordering.  There was also a fascinating sounding "Cheeseburger Spring Roll", that the table next to us ordered, and I have to admit, looked fairly amazing.  Yes, they were indeed deep fried spring rolls, with ground beef and cheese oozing out of them.  The girls next to us couldn't stop their almost orgasmic sounding exclamations as they bit into them.  We vowed to order some if we needed more food.  Which, most certainly turned out not to be a problem.  Alas, next time!

Anyway, back to what we did order, a mini bánh mì, which basically every single table in the entire restaurant ordered.  The choices were crispy chicken katsu, or pork belly, and we obviously picked the pork belly.  It arrived very quickly after we ordered; it is clear the kitchen is used to pumping these out quickly.

The outside edges of the pork belly were crazy crispy and quite delicious.  The rest was fairly fatty, melty fat, that perhaps could have been rendered out a bit better, but the flavor was quite good.  It was smothered in spicy aioli, which was creamy and delicious, although even I think there might have been a bit too much, and I adore aioli.  It was super messy to eat, with aioli and oil from the pork belly dripping out all over the place.  But again, that is part of the fun.

The bun wasn't very interesting, fluffy, but not particularly awesome or toasted.

Overall, it was fine, and Ojan said he liked it, but I would skip it in the future, and I'm not sure why everyone was ordering them so religiously.  They weren't THAT good.  $6 price was fine.  Although it was slider-sized, it was quite generous and rather filling.
Smaller Plate: Prawn toast, yuzu aioli, herbs. $15.
Next we moved on to a "Smaller Plate", Prawn Toast.  A variation of this has existed on their menu for a very long time.  From my research I could see it has evolved slightly, but the essence has stayed the same.  The rest of the menu changes up frequently, but this, along with the bahn mi and aforementioned fried chicken and wings are menu staples.  It arrived soon after we finished the bánh mì, very good pacing, and we were never left bored or waiting.

At first I wasn't sure where the toast was, and thought the entire thing was basically just a deep fried shrimp cake.  It turned out, the toast was a very thin layer on the bottom, super crispy and fried, and it added a really awesome crunch when you cut into it (or bit into it).  I'm not one for toast generally, but here it really did enhance the dish.

The prawn was minced, juicy and succulent, and spread in a very thick layer on top.  The entire thing was covered in sesame seeds and deep fried.  Very fried.  Not in a gross, oily way, but this was certainly not a light dish.  They nailed the perfectly crispy outside and the soft inside.  Great play of textures.  It was also served super hot and fresh.

The garnish was a drizzle of aioli, just the right amount, plus a huge pile of herbs.  The herbs looked excessive at first, but were also the perfect amount.  They added a needed lightness and freshness to the dish, which helped it from feeling quite so heavy.

But it was a heavy dish.  Deep fried seafood cake, plus aioli, isn't ever going to be light.  It was also aggressively salted, not in a bad way, but in a way that made me gulp half my cocktail after just two bites.  Whoops.

We both really liked it, but the size was too much for only two people.  Ojan enjoyed his first piece, but several bites into his second he started talking about how it was too much, and he was no longer liking it.  I felt that way halfway through my first piece.  With a group of four it would have been perfect, and it was sad to not enjoy the whole thing, because it was a good dish.

Overall, a very thoughtful dish, a great play of textures, good execution, but I wasn't in love with it.  I could tell this was just my personal preference though.  $15 price was fine for a dish this size.
Smaller Plate: BBQ calamari, Balinese sambal, cassava crackers. $24.
Next, another "Smaller Plate".  This one took a little while longer to arrive, and it was good that they slowed down the pacing a bit.  Because ... we were full.  We both lamented this a bit, as the dish I was most excited about was this one, plus, have I mentioned, we really, really wanted dessert!  We thought that ordering just two small plates and one individual starter would be fine, and actually worried it wasn't nearly enough food (hence our backup plan of cheeseburger spring rolls, corn on the cob, or a few others we selected), but we easily could have skipped any one of these dishes and been fully satisfied.  Whoops.  Again, definitely better to go with a larger group!

The presentation was rather stunning.  It was indeed a whole squid, sliced, and re-assembled.  I really wouldn't call this a "small plate" though, and again, it was one that probably would have been better shared with more diners.  It also was served barely lukewarm, which I don't think was intentional, a bit sad since the previous dish was clearly hot and fresh.

The squid had a slightly bbq smoky flavor to it, and perfect grill marks.  It wasn't rubbery.  The rings were all a good size, and were well cooked, but I preferred the tentacles, as they have just a bit more flavor to them.  My favorite piece was probably the very tip, as it was a bit "meatier".  Anyway, the calamari was fine, but actually the least interesting component of the dish.

I love cassava, so I was thrilled to see cassava used in the dish, although it was in the form of fried chips, so not exactly recognizable.  The flavor was good though, and they were super crispy, and not too oily.  Ojan was way too full at this point and just tried a single bite of one, but I somehow managed to devour all the rest.  The reason?  The sambal.

Under the calamari was a generous amount of sambal.  It was spicy and just crazy flavorful.  It was too spicy for Ojan, so I got pretty much all of it.  There was also a layer of sautéed shallots on top, which were also crazy delicious, although I think they were the one thing slightly out of balance, as there was just too many.

Overall, the squid was well prepared, but it was the cassava chips, dipped or otherwise slathered in sambal and shallots, that stole the show.  As I said, I was full, and looking forward to dessert, but I couldn't stop eating them, which again, is really saying something.  $24 price was fine for a dish this size.
Dessert: “The BOSS” . $14
And finally, what we were waiting for: dessert!  We actually considered not ordering dessert, since we were so full.  I was also truly satisfied, having loved the spicy sambal and chips.  But honestly, a real reason I dragged us there in the first place was for the desserts.  It isn't just me being a dessert lover that was excited for them, the dessert menu was crazy enticing.

Their signature dessert is the "Stoner's Delight", another item that keeps evolving.  The current version was listed as "Part 3", and is was what we planned on ordering.  Just take a minute to take in this description:  doughnut ice cream, peanut dulce de leche, peanut & pretzel brittle, crispy bacon, mars bar brownie, passionfruit curd, potato chips and deep fried nutella.  Doughnut ice cream? Sure.  Peanut dulce de leche?  You mean, take sweet awesome sauce and add salty peanuts?  Um yes.  Peanut and pretzel brittle for salty crunch?  Yes.  Crispy bacon? OMG. A mars bar brownie? Who says no to that?  And, the piece everyone raves about: deep fried nutella?  And candied potato chips.  Seriously, it sounds amazing.  Sweet, salty, creamy, chocolately ... the only thing I didn't want was the passionfruit curd.  But it also just sounded way, way too heavy given how we were feeling.  Ojan had been championing for ordering this, but then declared that he wouldn't have more than a bite of dessert, so took away his vote.

If I wanted caffeine, I would have ordered the “Dirty Passion”, a Japanese inspired creation with yuzu curd, adzuki bean, coffee jelly, strawberries, chocolate crumbs, and green tea ice cream.  It looked amazing, using chocolate crumbs to form a soil under which everything else was hidden.  But alas, no green tea and coffee jelly for me at night.

We briefly considered the “Halo Halo", made from pine lime ice, tropical fruits, mango pearls, and coconut sorbet.  It sounded the most refreshing, and a bit like our favorite Australian treat, a pine-lime Splice, but ... even stuffed me couldn't really order ice and sorbet when there were better options.

Like ... "The BOSS".  This is their newest dessert, an evolution of a dish called "Bruce Springsteen".  Not that that helps clear it up any, I'm not sure what the connection is to Bruce.  Anyway, it was described as buttered popcorn ice cream, salted caramel, honeycomb, popcorn brittle, kaya French toast, and blueberry jam.  Both servers we talked to were super excited for us to try it, mentioning how it was new, and that they loved it.  And they also confirmed that the Stoner's Delight, while awesome, was super heavy, and not a good pick for only two people.

I was glad it took a few minutes for this to arrive, as we needed it.  And even once it was in front of me, I didn't feel excited.  I wasn't sure I'd have more than a few bites either.  I was just too full.

And then I tasted it.  I should have taken an "after" photo.  I can assure you, there was nothing left on the plate.  Not a drop of sauce.  I can also assure you that Ojan, Mr. "I'm only going to have a bite", had far more than a bite.  This was good. Seriously good.

On the bottom of the plate was the salted caramel sauce, served warm.  Bonus points right away for that.  It was sweet, it was comforting, quite tasty.

On top of that was the absolute best component of the dish, and one that I thought would just be a side component: the french toast.  OMG.  It didn't actually look like it was going to be anything special.  It even looked a bit soggy, and not really what I think of as French toast.  It didn't matter.  It was crazy delicious.  The server who brought it to us told us that instead of cooking it in butter, they use coconut oil.  I'm not sure what made it so good, but perhaps that was it.  I thought it was more like a donut than French toast though, but no matter.  I later realized that the description said "kaya french toast", so I looked that up, not knowing what kaya was.  Kaya is a coconut milk, egg, sugar, and pandan spread from Malaysia, often used on toast.  In this case, it was stuffed inside the french toast.  My notes just said "stuffed with something sweet", as we weren't able to identify it.  Anyway, that french toast.  It was doughy, it was sweet, it was warm, it was decadent, it was amazing.  I would have been happy with just that.

But this dish kept on giving.  Next up was blueberry jam, which I actually didn't love for some reason.  It added more sweetness, a bit of fruit, and good flavor, but I could have done without it. Not that it took away from the dish in any way, but it didn't need it.

The "popcorn brittle" seemed more like just caramel corn, which I do love, but this was a bit soggy, and didn't provide quite the crunch I think they were going for.  A real brittle would be more successful.  The sugar honeycomb was just a few tiny bites, totally lost in the dish.

And finally, butter popcorn ice cream.  Slightly sweet, slightly savory, creamy, although neither Ojan nor I thought we would have identified it as butter popcorn if asked.  It was good, and the french toast needed a creamy component, so it worked well.

Anyway, criticisms aside, this was a very, very good dish.  It was probably too sweet for some, but I loved the play of textures and flavors, and it really was quite unique.  Even though we were incredibly full, and the previous dishes were quite heavy, we couldn't help but devour this.

I'd get it again, although I'd love to try some of the others.  I'd also love for Ms. G's to offer brunch, with the french toast.  $14 might be a bit high for dessert at a not fancy restaurant, but it seemed totally warranted for this creative dish.
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