Taste of the Star

An invitation to sample some of the signature dishes from The Star’s top line restaurants… too good to refuse. Having enjoyed the inventive food at Momofuku Seiobo on my last outing, the “Taste of the Star” is an opportunity to check out some other great restaurant fare.

I am particularly keen to try some dishes from the modern Milanese restaurant, Balla, with my foodie friends drooling about their meals there (and having done some Italian cooking classes with the legendary Steve Manfredi years ago… he knows his stuff). The other restaurant piquing my interest is the contemporary grill restaurant, BLACK by ezard. I’ll admit to being an Ezard fan… I always enjoy his two Melbourne restaurants and own the three Teague Ezard cookbooks.

The tasting event is held in the nicely decorated lobby of The Darling Hotel and Spa, food kiosks scattered throughout the room.

The function is well attended with each person given a “food passport” to travel the room. I grab a glass of sparkling shiraz and commence my journey.

The most popular, and best of the night, does prove to be Balla… the queue is nearly 60 people when I join. On a wet and cool Sydney evening, Steve offers up several wholesome Italian dishes: ribollita fiorentina, a twice cooked Tuscan-style bread and vegetable soup, and porchetta, a slow roasted pork saddle.

The hearty Tuscan soup is a moorish winter offering… wish I could have more.

The rolled pork porchetta looks splendid.

… and it tastes as good as it looks.

Balla Head Chef, Gabriele Taddeucci, who carefully tended this classic Italian roast, has done a fine job. The pork crackling is crisp, the pork moist, the herb flavours infused into the meat… I’ve just about finished it off when I get a little aniseed kick from some fennel hidden inside.. that classic combination.. Yum !

Teage’s restaurant, BLACK by ezard, serves up several interesting dishes: beef tartare with heirloom beets, mustard ice cream and puffed wild rice, and butter poached prawns with nashi pear salad with yuzu dressing.

Both treats are delicate, flavoursome.. that typical Teage exotic mix of cuisines.. but are they really representative of the food offerings from the grill at BLACK by ezard? I guess I’ll have to come back and try it for real.

Luke Nguyen’s Fat Noodle restaurant presents a couple of favourites from their menu: Queensland spanner crab rice paper rolls and spicy beef skewers with chilli and cumin.

Both tasty, I particularly like the bite and spices of the beef skewers.. although I must admit I’m more curious about the impending opening of Luke’s new venture, Red Lantern on Riley.

Next queue is for the modern Japanese restaurant, Sokyo. Chef Chase Kojima offers up several contemporary dishes: lamb maple miso with burnt baby eggplant and tai sashimi yuzu honey with onion capers and crunchy miso.

Tasty, tender little morsels of lamb whet the appetite.

On the night Bistro 80, showcase their “ocean shelf” operating a freshly shucked oyster station with various vinaigrettes dispensed using quirky little spray bottles.

I enjoy the very fresh Sydney Rock and Pacific Oysters with the individual Chardonnay Vinaigrette and Yuzu Dressings.

As hungry patrons wait in the queues, servers move through the crowd with tasting plates from several other establishments. Fuel is serving mini burgers while Cantonese restaurant, Lotus Pond, provides Peking duck pancakes. Dessert supremo, Adriano Zumbo, also has trays of his sweet creations circulating through the room. I savour several new macaron flavours.

My night is done, my passport filled. It was great to get a small taste of each of The Star dining establishments. My first action, book a dinner at Balla… I feel somewhat remiss in not trying Steve Manfredi’s new restaurant earlier.

As I leave the Star, I find myself walking past Momofuku Seiobo again. Not quite sated by the evening of sampling, I duck in for a quick bite at the bar. A glass of aged Sake goes nicely with a serve of the Steamed Pork Buns and a Spanner Crab Roll with Celery Salt Chips. After that it’s a quick trip via Adriano Zumbo’s Patisserie to grab some Chocolate Macarons to take home for the family.

Yes, The Star has a lot to offer.

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