Aloft – 15 Dec 2017

Aloft. Out of the three restaurants I visited, this was my favourite experience. I can’t really make a direct comparison with Franklin since I didn’t have a dinner sitting there though, so now, Aloft was the one I enjoyed the most as a whole.I actually had some reservations (pun intended) about eating here simply because their style was Asian, and I have a tough time liking Asian food, but it’s a hatted restaurant and had great views, and they had kitchen counter seats, so why not! I didn’t need a view of the water, I needed a view of the chefs. However, the kitchen was limited to the banquet menu, though I didn’t mind that too much. And what a surprise the kitchen was. As we were walking to be seated, I saw a super eye catching thing: fire.

I got so excited that as soon as politely possible after being seated, I stood back up and started taking pictures of it. I must have looked so excited that the chef actually told me I could walk into the kitchen and take pictures. Wow, how nice! He even adjusted the flame intensity for us too, but it got pretty hot! That was so amazing, I couldn’t believe he let us in!! Already a winner in my eyes!

The lighting was great so I took heaps of pictures.

It’s always nice to see what a restaurant’s bookshelf is like. They have Pier, the first restaurant book that I’d ever encountered and got me into fine dining!

Masterstock pig’s ear + prickly ash

Okay, onto the food. First up, pig’s ears. Oh my goodness. My last pig ear experience (not counting China where they do it they way I like by default) was at a Perth restaurant and it really wasn’t nice because it was a single hard, crisp texture. However, these were crispy and flavour packed on the outside, and still crunchy-gelatinous on the inside, just the way I like it! They were seriously addictive!

Pacific steamed oyster , kimchi + sesame

Flirty Bay oysters make an appearance once again! But still, I couldn’t make out the exact pronunciation of the word, so I still had no idea if it was Flirty or Floaty. I did try asking the all knowing Google, with various pronunciations that sided to Flirty, then to Floaty, but all I got were tips on how to flirt like crazy, or Flutes on eBay 🙁

These were very good, but I didn’t like them as much as I liked them au naturale. Probably just personal preference – nothing except maybe a dash of lemon!

So that I can complete the story here, yes, I did find out where the oysters were from – the shucker at the Bruny Island oyster stand at the Saturday Salamanca Markets confirmed the oysters were from a place called Flirty Bay, otherwise known as Fancy Bay. Good to know!

I had to make sure to take full advantage of my position at the counter by taking as many action shots as I can! Also, being so close, we had a great conversation about the swarming seagulls in the harbour. We commented that the seagulls were swarming, then one of the chefs said that it was unusual for them to be this close – usually they’d be flocking much further out in deeper water. Who knows, maybe they found some tasty stuff nearby.

Fig leaf + turmeric wafer, BBQ pork belly

Woot! Pork belly tacos! Well, that’s what I kept calling them. Royal gala apples were shaved over the top of these, which added great flavour to the pork belly, and they were using a tool that looked like how crinkle cut potato chips are made! The turmeric wafer looked delicate and prone to shattering, but they were actually quite sturdy, which was great. The pork wasn’t as soft as I like, so these were just okay.

Drunken chicken wing, buttermilk + avruga caviar

But this next dish. Woah, what a turnaround! A fried chicken wing! I honestly didn’t think I’d get to eat fried chicken throughout my trip, especially as I couldn’t do Belle’s Hot Chicken’s fried chicken and waffles since I was busy on the weekend, but lo and behold, fortune favours the… insane? This wasn’t just any old fried chicken, it was fried in shaoxing wine, so it was tasty fried AND tasty drunk!!! I love drunken chicken, so this was a win win, then another win because that avruga caviar was super smokey and aromatic.

These were eaten with hands (as were the tacos, oysters and pig ears), and we were given the magical towels that start off dry and tablet sized, then just add water and POOF! they turn into wet towelettes!!!

Oh, by the way, does this slightly remind you of Rockpool 1989‘s kombu butter chicken wing? Maybe that’s just me haha.

LOOK AT THIS ADORABLE CHUNKY KNIFE THAT I DIDN’T EVEN USE FOR THE NEXT COURSE EVEN THOUGH I WAS SO EXCITED ABOUT THE CHUNKINESS

But first, another plate up shot, because I can.

Yellow fish curry + coconut pickled fennel

Fried fish!!! Tonight’s fish was black trevally, and the curry sauce was really, really mild, so much so that I actually wished there was a teeny tiny bit of spice to it, but no matter. No burning is better than burning. I didn’t like the pickled fennel only because it was a little too acidic for me. I would have been happy with just the fish curry since it was light enough.

Chargrilled koji beef, miso + eggplant

I was really, really full, and then this came out! A massive (not really massive, just looked that way because of how full I was) chunk of really incredibly tasty Cape Grim beef, with eggplant and miso mayonnaise. And topped with kale. There was a lot of eggplant, and I think I had to eat my friend’s portion of eggplant cause she didn’t like it, so I was really, really, bursting full at this point, but that beef. was. so. good. Wow. Yep, I definitely love Cape Grim Beef. The only time David Blackmore’s wagyu has been better, is in Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney’s David Blackmore full blood wagyu burger. Every other time, a Cape Grim cut will do, it’s that good. Absolutely loved this dish.

Our classic condensed milk ice cream, coffee + sable

And finally, dessert. My friend was happy this was an ice cream dish so she wanted one to herself. I was really full, so I didn’t really care. What was hilarious is that we saw how the palm sugar curls were made – a couple of chefs took out these trays of palm sugar stuff and started scraping away at it with spoons! Madly scraping! My friend had pointed it out and as soon as I looked, I had that stupid happy face that I get when I’m really excited about seeing food being made, so much so that the chef noticed!

So, when he had plated up our dessert and handed it to us, describing it, I asked, “is this meant to be shared?” at which point he said yes, so I asked if we could have one each pretty please, so he was happy to make another one. We must have looked like crazy dessert lovers! Yes, I did manage to eat all of mine. Dessert is a second stomach, after all! It was quite delicious and I loved the sweetness level of the palm sugar. Having the word sugar in it made me worry that it’d be too sweet, but it was actually really balanced with a deep, almost toffee/burnt caramel flavour. Then a hit of bitterness from the coffee syrup was really nice too.

All in all, yes, Aloft was my favourite experience because the chefs were so friendly, also the view of the chefs, and because I enjoyed a good number of these dishes. If I came back, I would want the a-la carte menu so that I can order the pig’s ears, natural oysters, chicken wing, but also I really wanted to try their dumplings because the dumplings looked absolutely amazing, and I’d not order the fish curry or the pork belly tacos. But as an Asian themed restaurant for someone who doesn’t like Asian restaurants (Spice Temple being the exception), this place did really well.

 

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