This year, Melbourne Cup was an exciting occasion that involved good wine, a cheery atmosphere, delicious food and great company with the people I work with. We ventured off to Paper Planes, a contemporary, chic Japanese restaurant and bar at The Beach House near Bondi - the perfect, iconic Sydney location for a day of celebration amongst a colourful array of girls all dressed up.
Too bad I lost my bet on Dunaden... :P
Paper Planes had a Melbourne Cup set menu for $100 per person, which includes a 3 course lunch and champagne on arrival. Everything sounded so enticing that we were salivating over said menu the week prior...at least I was!
NOTE: I am going to include what each dish would have cost if there was no set menu involved, for those interested in the price range for Paper Planes :)
The glass of sparkling on arrival was absolutely fabulous - the perfect kick off for the feast to come!
I also love the funky and hip decor at Paper Planes - the ceilings are adorned with a sea of colourful origami paper cranes and skateboard decks. The live music also added a touch of club-feel to the place, boosting the trendy ambience of the restaurant.
How cute are these blown-up horse balloons?!
We happily nibbled on the Edamame with sea salt and chilli salt ($6), with the latter being so addictive for me. My hand just kept going back to grab more...*
One of the highlights for me were the PaperPlanes prawn gyoza with creamy lemon wasabi foam, crushed wasabi peas and fresh herbs ($18). They had perfectly crispy bottoms and were packed full of hearty prawn meat. Definitely a refreshing and creative take on your ordinary Gyoza order - highly recommend!!!
I didn't try out the Zucchini with butter, red miso sauce and white sesame ($7) - mostly because I'm not the biggest fan of Zucchinis. But from the looks of it, it seems to be well-seasoned...
Now, this is a bit embarassing but I had stuffed one of these in my mouth thinking it was a Chicken Kushiyaki before coming to realise it wasn't. Eggplant with butter, red miso sauce and white sesame ($7) was the real deal.
Second highlight of the day were these amazing Shiitake mushroom kushiyaki skewers ($8.5). So you ask, what makes them so special? Well, they were stuffed with prawn and glazed with butter and truffle. They were so good that I sneaked a second skewer on my plate right after the first - so freaking delish! Also, bonus points for being creative with my favourite mushrooms :)
I think Paper Planes definitely excels in the Kushiyaki category because these Chicken thigh fillet skewers ($9) were just as AMAZE. Glazed beautifully with shallot and truffle, the meat was bursting with flavour and tenderness. Yum...
And then the Sashimi & Sushi Platter made its grand entrance. Not sure how much this would have been usually or if they even serve this option but WHO CARES, look at that platter! Food porn indeed.
Oh did I mention this was still included in the entrees section?
The whole table unanimously agreed on how amazingly fresh the sashimi was!
Usually I'm hesitant on the raw salmon but I decided to try it out and ate the whole thing with joy. It was genuinely fresh and delicious.
The Sushi Platter included Spicy Tuna Roll, Asparagus Roll, Spider Roll and Chicken Roll. I managed to try the spider and chicken and they weren't bad. Honestly by this stage we were in a semi food-induced coma and in shocking disbelief that we were still up to our entrees. Then again, my stomach stretches as I eat so I was still feeling pretty hyped for what was about to come :D
Third highlight for me was the Salmon tartare nachos ($17). When you toss fresh salmon tartare with a wasabi miso dressing along with chives and salmon roe...you can't do much wrong. Then you throw in some crunchy prawn crackers and bang, you got yourself a seductive starter. I had so many of these that I think the whole table was fully aware of my love for them.
Textural heaven - a crunchy cracker topped with silky smooth salmon tartare!
Everyone had demolished their first glass of sparkling so soon, it was only inevitable that the arrival of a second bottle was in order. The lovely E ordered a bottle of Tar & Roses Pinot Grigio '12 ($39), which we all loved! (We ended up ordering another bottle of it :P)
At last, the mains arrived! We ordered all three of the four options provided (excluding the vegetarian coice) and decided to share as a table.
Personally, I loved the Pan fried barramundi with shiitake mushroom & edamame broth, crispy sage & grilled lemon (can't seem to find on usual menu though). The fish was extremely well cooked and the sauce was a lovely match.
The Sake flamed teriyaki chicken with sauteed wild mushrooms, shallot and sesame ($24) was really flavoursome - honestly a tad bit too salty for my liking but hearty nevertheless. Definitely eat with some of the rice provided and go crazy on the mushrooms because boy do Paper Planes know how to work their mushrooms!
The Char grilled lamb ribs with PaperPlanes basting sauce, thyme & balsamic marinade eggplant & mint salsa verde ($28) did not attract a big response from the table but I had a small bite and I do have to say, the meat was really tender and fell off the bone with ease.
Some Steamed broccolini with miso & dill hollandaise to share...
Despite everyone feeling beyond full by this stage, we all secretly knew that our dessert compartment was wide open, ready to embrace what Paper Planes had to offer. They truly did not disappoint.
The Black egg coconut milk curd with macadamia oil & ristretto cocoa sauce ($12) was the epitome of a silky smooth indulgence. A creamy yet not overly sweet milk curd with delectable hints of coconut and chocolate was more than enough to trigger the 'ooohs and ahhhs' from the table.
This Tokyo pop plant lemon cheesecake with lemon curd, almond soil & popping candy ($14) was to die for! A dessert in disguse as a pot plant - what's not to love? The lemon cheesecake was infused with tangy lemon flavours and a luscious, crumbly biscuit base. Every bite or two you would find the occasional popping sensation in your mouth from the candy. It was just such a fun dessert!
But I truly fell in love with these Green tea rochers ($14).
Layered with a ricotta crust and stuffed with dark chocolate ganache & hazlenut, it was the perfect bite-size treat. If you're addicted to Ferrero Rochers like me, you would seriously appreciate the Japanese twist on these green tea rochers. The green tea flakes melt gracefully with the oozing chocolate as you pop one into your mouth and then you're officially in dessert heaven.
I could probably demolish 5 of these at once. If only...
Overall, I think all of us really enjoyed our experience at Paper Planes for Melbourne Cup - so I'd like to say thanks to E again for her amazing organising efforts! The atmosphere was buzzing with energy and excitement and the food was one highlight after the other. So grateful that there was a set menu because that meant I got to try a bit of everything. Definitely a memorable occasion for me :D
Drawing on influences from Tokyo pop culture, the menu here seeks to blend traditional Japanese cuisine with a fun, contemporary twist! With the iconic location of Bondi Beach as the backdrop, dining here is nothing but a cool and casual affair. Definitely a place worth returning to for me.
Shop 15, 178 Campbell Parade
Bondi Beach 'The Beach House'