My Friend’s Wedding @ Newport Mirage, Northern Beaches, Sydney

Date of Wedding:  September 16 2015

A good friend of mine got married today.  The lucky couple chose Newport Mirage to hold their wedding ceremony and lunch.  It was a glorious spring day with the sun shining brightly. The ceremony itself was moving and romantic.  The couple met 2 years ago; yet with age differences and many, many kms apart, they managed to continue developing their relationship to literally ‘sealing the deal’ today! 💞💞

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Views from the terrace where the ceremony will be held towards the marina

We had a 3-course set menu with 2 options – straight-forward and fed us well. Here they are!

ENTREE

My choice was the Smoked Salmon Roulade with very briny capers.

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Smoked Salmon Roulade: Tomato, Baby caper and Herb Salad, Horseradish sauce

Or

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Confit Port Belly: Caramelised orange and Cardamon Reduction Fennel Salad

MAIN

I had the Herb crusted Beef Sirloin with a hard-as-cardboard polenta, otherwise the beef was good.

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Herb crusted Beef Sirloin: Crispy Polenta, Wilted Spinach, Roasted Tomato, Shiraz Jus

Or

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Oven Roasted Chicken Breast:  Colcannon, Asparagus, Mushroom Sauce

Vegetarian Option

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Grilled Capsicums, Eggplants, Zucchinis, Asparagus

DESSERT

I shared both desserts with another friend of mine.  I preferred the Cherry Clafoutis because it is lighter and had a crispy shell.😋

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Cherry Clafoutis Tart: Grand Marnier Reduction, Mascarpone Cream

And

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Sticky Date Pudding:  Butterscotch Sauce, Date Compote, Vanilla Bean Ice-cream

After some congratulatory speeches and dance, we were served the wedding cake as our final dessert.

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The cut-up 2-tier Weddding Cake: Orange poppy seed, chocolate fudge, lots of cream and thick fondant

As part of custom, all the single ladies were invited to catch the wedding bouquet.  I caught it together with another girl, but decided to let her have it instead. 😇  (I figured, she has better luck!😜)

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Wedding Bouquet

Surprise, surprise..The surprising ‘hero’ of the day was the humble piping hot bread roll! 😅

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Humble roll…

I Ate Jimmy Cricket! @ El Topo Mexican Restaurant, Bondi Junction, Sydney

Date of Visit:  September 13, 2015

So I’m back in Sydney again – this time for around 2 weeks.  The trip from Borneo to Sydney was truly an expedition in itself, taking me a-day-and-a-half!   I transited for around 9 hours in Kuala Lumpur International Airport.  I had the privilege of using the Golden Lounge, but unfortunately, MAS being a near bankrupt airline is undergoing cost-cutting measures: alcohols are served in tiny Barbie-doll play-sized goblets, and I had to trek to Burger King for my Diet Cokes…with no temptations in sight, I’m on track with my ‘diet’ *win!* 🙌  (Although I did gorged 5 bread rolls to dull my hunger pangs! 😂)

Perhaps, the stars were not aligned for my red-eye flight.  After boarding, there was a delay meaning that we were made to sit on the plane for over an hour…when we finally arrived Sydney, we were 45 minutes delayed…meaning that I only had time to drop my bags at home, then drive to Bondi Junction for lunch with the Ladies.

Ever so efficient, the Ladies had already ordered, I happily await for the food to arrive…

The complimentary Roasted Crickets really made our day!  Oohs and Aahs all round with phones out a-clicking.  The Chapulines: Roasted crickets in chilli, garlic and lime are popular Mexican street snacks.  Sour-spicy-salty, I preferred the accompanying garlic chips instead of the crickets themselves!  The crickets were bland and tasteless…similar to eating charred leaves?

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Chapulines: Roasted crickets

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Chapulines: Roasted crickets

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Up and personal with Jimmy The Cricket 😋

Prawns were so-so…forgettable…

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School of deep-fried Prawns

Scallop ceviche with cucumber, charred corn, tomato, chilli and lime juice in a pot with fried crisps was nice.

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Scallop ceviche

We each ordered a Tacos.  I had the Gemfish Tacos which was good…

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Soft-shell crab Taco

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Gemfish Taco

Quesadillas were another typical Mexican fare… I had a forgettable taste of each.

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Mexican Truffles and Mushrooms Quesadillas

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Zucchini flower, Quinoa Cheesy Quesadillas

The 12-hours beef short ribs with pickled cabbage and baby onions was amazing!  Tender soft meat in overly tasty BBQ sauce, hence my favourite of the day was the pickled baby onions.

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12-hours beef short ribs with pickled cabbage and baby onions

We also had the tasty Whole grilled Spatchcock with back beans and corn.

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Whole grilled Spatchcock with back beans and corn

For dessert, we ordered the Buńuelos Con Chocolate:  Mexican doughnuts & chocolate sauce.  The Ladies all loved the fluffy doughnut balls…

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Mexican doughnuts & chocolate sauce.

It was a beautifully perfect afternoon lunching with the Ladies on the terrace under the blue skies, talking about lipsticks!  While in KLIA, to kill time, I did MAC true-red lipstick runs – Ruby Woo to be specific!  A devaluation of the Ringgit meant that RM74 is equivalent to A$25 – a substantial price difference of A$11!  *Bargain*

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Blue Skies

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Colourful drinks…

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Rooftop terrace

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Murals along the wall

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Muncha Gratias

Hanaya Japanese Restaurant @ Grand Millennium Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit:  August 31, 2015

Getting good sushi outside of Japan is hard.  So I was very happy to find out that Hanaya at the Grand Millennium in KL serves an excellent Sushi Set Lunch.

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Hanaya

Thoughts have been put into the privacy concerns of the clients, that the tables are set further apart, and with privacy screens.  The one major drawback was the irritating background music.😞

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Glass privacy screens

Assorted Sushi , TAKE (RM60): Types of sushi as listed on the menu are – Tuna, Salmon, Trevaly, Boiled Prawns (I think I had a Alfonsino as substitute), Boiled Octopus, Scallop, Mackerel, Salmon roe, Squid, Kappa Roll: Cucumber Small Roll, Tekka Roll: Tuna Small Roll

Pictures of my Sushi Platter!  Fishes flown in from Japan and prepared by Japanese chef!  Absolutely delectable sushi!

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Beautifully crafted

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Kappa Roll: Cucumber Small Roll, Tekka Roll: Tuna Small Roll

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The other set worth mentioning is the Special Kaisen Don (RM88): Assorted sashimi served on a bed of sushi rice.

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Kaiseki Don

Same side dishes for all the Set Meals:  Comprising miso soup, salad and grilled vegetables

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Miso Soup

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Grilled Vegs

Complimentary dessert for the ladies: Black sesame gelato with chopped mixed fruits

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And Coffee or Tea to finish up!  Fab food, service and great value!  I shall be back! 😍

The Royal Touch Bakery Café by Carolyn Robb @ Ocean Terminal, Hong Kong

Date of Visit:  July 19 2015

I had a good Sunday lunch today – which was a surprise – considering, it’s a small unassuming ‘restaurant’ (if you can call it that) in a mall, with a prominent display case of cakes and pastries!  It’s tiny with only 30 seats!  (Psst… here’s its digits for reservations: +852 3188 8086 ☺️)

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The Royal Touch is a brand created by Carolyn Robb, former executive chef to Prince Charles and Lady Diana, so without doubt, this cafe features some royal dishes! Those following the Royal Family will know that Ms Robb is also famous for being  the creator of Prince William’s Chocolate Biscuit Groom’s Cake!

Without further ado…

We had the Set Lunch Menu – simple British fare but really special!

APPETISER

Seasonal Fresh Fruit Salad with Raspberry & Passion Fruit Dressing

or 

Avocado & Papaya Salad with Papaya Dressing

I had the Avocado Papaya Salad which was very different to the salads I have had.  The combination is unusual – papaya and avocado (?), but very flavourful – slightly tart and not overly sweet.

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Avocado & Papaya Salad with Papaya Dressing

SOUP

Asparagus and New Potato Soup

or

Soup of the Day

I opted for Carrot Cream Soup was the Soup of The Day.  Normally, soups featuring carrots in Hong Kong is sweet, Ms Robb’s carrot soup is creamy and savoury.

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Carrot Cream Soup

MAINS

We decided on different items for our Mains.  The price of the Set Lunch is dependent on the Main course one chooses:

My bro got Corned Beef Potato Cake with Black Truffle Scrambled Eggs (HK$218).  The creamy eggs with truffles were highly recommended.

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Corned Beef Potato Cake with Black Truffle Scrambled Eggs

I had the Slow Cooked UK Dingley Dell Pork Collar with Wild Berry Jam (HK$288).  I ordered it medium, but parts of it was a little bit undercooked, but nevertheless not bloody and tasted good. What I especially liked was the cute Romanesco Brocoli or Buzzy Broc, the potato mash with truffles was divine!

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Slow Cooked UK Dingley Dell Pork Collar with Wild Berry Jam

My mom had the Royal Classic Cod Fish Pie (HK$228).  it arrived piping hot, but not enough fish she said…😏

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Royal Classic Cod Fish Pie

The mains are heavy in potatoes and all used campari tomatoes as garnish.

DESSERT

Dessert was chocolate cupcake with different butter cream frosting – I had the Earl Grey frosting, the others were Blueberry and Pistachio…

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Chocolate Cupcake

COFFEE OR TEA

I also have to mention that the coffee (included in the Set Lunch) is very good – strong, not bitter – definitly better than those from the speciality coffee bars around… seriously!

A look at their menu says that we shall be back for their afternoon tea set!  The waiters are very polite and attentive, and the price very reasonable, so pinkies up, everybody! ☕️👌🏻 Next time, Royal Afternoon Tea!
Where is The Royal Touch Bakery Café by Carolyn Robb?

Shop G02, G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 17 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Sunset @ La Perouse & Bare Island, Sydney

Date:  April 2015

La Perouse is a suburb in the south Eastern suburbs of Sydney with one of the most magical sunset and sunrise views in Sydney.  I was there to practice my photography and here are some pictures I took… enjoy!

While standing on shore at the car park, I watched the cargo boats pulling in…

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…to the oil refinery at Port Botany

IMG_2801La Perouse is also a popular spot for bridal photos because it provides a unique and dramatic backdrop,  I spotted 7 bridal parties photographing around the cliffs.  Can you spot the ladies in white?

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Trying my hand at candid wedding photography.

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Bare Island is the only island in Botany Bay and it’s also home to a historically significant fort that was built in 1885 to protect the area from an expected Russian invasion.  A guided tour ($10) is available on Sundays.  If you think that it looks familiar, you are right! Bare Island had been in Mission Impossible 2 with Tom Cruise.😜

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Bare Island

On Bare Island, I took a walk around the cliff. There were many people taking pictures. The grounds are slippery in part, but some people seem to be able to walk and jump off the ledges in flip-flops!  The landscape is pretty –  the weathering of the rock has created a sort of alcove with striking strata of colours.

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More dramatic sunset on its way – cotton pink clouds and golden orange cliffs…

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…and the ‘blue hour’ is not to be missed.

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The oil refinery at Botany Bay

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Dramatic sunset

La Perouse is also a great spot to watch the planes come in to land at Kingsford Smith Airport.

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Planes descending towards Sydney Kingsford-Smith Airport

Task accomplished… then off to dinner at The Grounds, Alexandria.

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Lamb cutlets

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Ping Pong Chicken served in a pot

Why Malaysians Have Zits On Their Faces 😜@Mamak, Chatswood

Date of Visit: August 21 2014

When one made the decision to embark on a fitness competition – yeah, I engaged the Número Uno Fitness Competition Coach in Australia for a 6-weeks foundation prep while I’m back in Sydney for a bikini fitness competition sometime in March or May next year (haven’t decided on the competition yet) – ethnic food DOES NOT sound appetising at all! 😰

But since my friend ‘…really, REALLY want nasi lemak (sic)‘ (to quote her) and I’ve not met her for a long time, I gave in…  We met at Mamak Malaysian Cuisine in Chatswood, a suburb in North Sydney.

On the menu… Carbs, carbs and more carbs with loads of sugar to edge off the hot spicy chili…

I couldn’t find anything lesser in carbs (or sugar)  content, so I settled for a half dozen beef satays.

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Beef Satay (A$9 for half-dozen or A$16 for a dozen).

What can I say??  The satays at Mamak were better than Malaysia Airlines’ –  although a bit tougher! I didn’t try the peanut sauce because I know it is very sweet. I gave to my friend who polished it off – along with the 4 extra serves of sambal with her nasi lemakl!  I can only look on – saying nothing – but totally astonished! Here is a skinny woman who is ALWAYS complaining that she is fat, yet wolfing down calorifically-laden junks –  at the same time explaining that she eats a lot (I can see that).  Still, complaining that she is fat;  in-between mouthfuls, when she is skinny, is totally not on!  😤 😤 😤

Family Lunch @ Sepia Restaurant, Sydney

Date of Visit: March 15 2014

If you have been following my Instagram @OutForALongLunch, you can correctly assume that I’m back in Sydney – which I am – and I shall remain for a month for some business and R&R…

4 months away from Sydney, I am looking forward to a Saturday lunch with my family.  So here we are at Sepia (again!)

To kick-off we ordered a bottle of bordeaux (pinot noir) from Le Clementine du Pape Clement 2009,Pessac-Léognan.  We always order lighter styles of reds to compliment our meals so as not to over-power the cuisine.  We are really here to enjoy the food and the wine is only meant as accompaniment!

We ordered Oysters for palate starters (optional choice for $60).  The oysters with ponzu lime juice seriously openned up the tastebuds with the sweet acidic juice to ‘cut’ the very succulent and creamy oysters.

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Oysters

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Oysters

AMUSE BOUCHE:

This is a solid one bite wonder. A very dense piece of meat, was thinking perhaps it was cured meat?  I didn’t take note of what the waiter was saying as I knew from my previous experience (post here) that I shall be getting the menu later.  In any regards, it was swordfish rolled in the furikake of flavoursome umami of miso and peppers.

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Swordfish belly cured in barley miso, shichimi togarashi pepper, candied ginger

TWO

Sheep yoghurt rolled in a sashimi of yellow-fin tuna and sprinkled with green crackling.  The thick yoghurt and avocado are offset by the acidity of ponzu juice.

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Sashimi Yellow fin tuna, sheep yoghurt and wasabi, avocado, turnips, ponzu, crackling

THREE

A richly coloured powdered of dehydrated rhubarb, beetroot and rye on top of of jelly of rhubarb hiding a mould of cheese under.  Looking ornate like a pile of ruby dust, however as one digs into the pile, the liquidy rhubarb starts to ooze  out.  I took some cross-sectional pics with my iPhone, but iPhone being iPhone, the pics came blurry even though I held my phone very still…

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House-made chèvre, rhubarb, beetroot, rye, native violets

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House-made chèvre, rhubarb, beetroot, rye, native violets

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House-made chèvre, rhubarb, beetroot, rye, native violets

A third into lunch, we were asked whether we would like to take a break by munching on some bread?  Being carb-phobics, we think not, let the flow continues!

FOUR

This course reminded me that I have to buy some krill oil to take back to Hong Kong… yet also harkens back to the salmon roe rice at Kikunoi in Japan (post yet to be done!) – so stayed tuned! 😊  Basically a very rich risotto rice dish with ‘curdy’ egg yolk, topped with the fishy salmon roe.  I believe a high skill and superior technique is warranted so not to overcook the egg yolk.

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Egg yolk and miso rice, smoked salmon roe, wasabi

Finito! A clean bowl to show how I had appreciated this course!

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FIVE

While the others had Spanner Crab

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Spanner crab, pine mushrooms silken tofu, yuzu, wakame, freid garlic

 

…me, being allergic to shellfish – or rather, crustaceans – had Snapper with Salmon Roe.  I love the lovely ensemble of colours, but the fish was a bit over-cooked (a little tough) but the tiny dots of jelly sauces are very flavoursome and mouthwatering!

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Snapper, Salmon Roe, Jelly, Baby Radishes.

SIX

The wagyu beef were actually thinly shaved slices of beef with a shiso leaf sandwiched in-between.  Despite all the prep, the beef tasted ordinary.😁  The star of this course however, I believe is the tiny potatoes,  mukago potatoes which are a new species.  “Unlike typical potatoes they grow on a vine rather than underground. For this reason some people refer to them as ‘air-potatoes’. Mukago potatoes fall off the vine very easily when they are ripe”. (See more here.)

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David Blackmore wagyu beef, oba, daikon radish and citrus dashi, mukago potato

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Shiso leaf sandwiched between the slices of wagyu beef

SEVEN

This course exudes ‘Australiana’.   I like the sourish wonderfully tart lemon taste with a hint of grapefruit.  I also loved the red hue of the venison which was very tender. The additional of myoga (Japanese ginger) binds the different elements of the dish well.

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Seared Mandagery Creek Venison, pickled myoga, lemon cream, lemon aspen , liquorice

Optional:  Pyengana cheddar, plum wine and apple pectin, sheep yoghurt and apple cream – we didn’t take uo the offer as we were rather stuffed.

EIGHT: Pre-dessert

Well, well, well… this is the first of the 3 desserts.  Mmm… presentation looks kind of similar to course #3.   Frozen ice over jelly, pretty good.

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Peach Cream, Raspberry, Yukari

NINE

This is a light dessert.  Pumpkin ice-cream with miso is unusual, but the combination went well – sweet and savoury – and a bit herby from the sorrel.  Yuba which is tofu skin seems to be very fashionable as you will see in my Tetsuya’s post later… stay tuned! 😋

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Pumpkin and Miso Caramel Ice-cream, Popcorn, Yuba, Sorrel

Licked another plate clean!

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Clean plate

TEN

The finale:  “Autumn chocolate forest” consisting of soft chocolate, hazelnut and almond, lavender and honey cream, sour cherry sorbet, rose and violet jellies, green tea, liquorice, chocolate twigs.  This is Sepia’s signature – and one that I had in my first visit (here).

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“Autumn Chocolate Forest”

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“Autumn Chocolate Forest”

Unfortunately, at this stage, I am totally stuffed.  I cannot finish the final dessert.  On a personal note,  although I’m pursuing bodybuilding at the moment, I don’t think degustation is totally unhealthy (but don’t tell my trainer about it as he gets very annoyed – “Char-siu is NOT proper protein!  It’s coated with maltose!”)  Nevertheless, I find the meal to be well-balanced using fresh ingredients which I presume to be healthy – c’mon at  A$175pp, I’d say so! 😏

PETIT FOURS:

Complimentary dark chocolate with minty cream centers.  Perfect with a glass of cold-drip coffee from El Salvador ($10)

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After-Eights Mints

Overall a very Japanoise-skewed meal with literal uses of supplementary Japanese ingredients.  From my first visit last year, Sepia has transgressed from foam and sashimi to mushy curd and cream which is rather fashionable now (see my post on Sixpenny here).