Saturday, 16 July 2011

Ajisen Ramen, Haymarket & Sydney Fish Market (16th July 2011)

Ken has never been to the fish market to date and I thought given he's into cooking and a foodie, he would enjoy a trip to the market just to see what is available so suggested we head over this afternoon. We caught up at Central Station around 12.30pm and headed into Chinatown for lunch. Ken felt like having ramen and we ended up in Ajisen Ramen, a Japanese ramen noodle chain restaurant that specialises in ramen with tonkatsu-based soup (pork soup). I've read a couple of reviews of this chain restaurant and mostly unfavourable but since Ken was keen to try it out, I agreed (though not hopeful it would be a great experience) and we headed into the restaurant located on Hay Street. The place was rather empty though the staff didn't take notice of us - we helped ourselves to an empty table and went to the counter to grab the menu since no one attended to us. Not scoring any brownie points with me so far...

Looking at the menu that had 2 pages dedicated to just ramen varieties, it was an obvious choice to try their specialty (they do have bento boxes and rice dishes as well). I ordered the original Ajisen ramen while Ken had a combination ramen that looked similar to mine with the addition of kaarage (deep fried chicken) and we also got a side dish of fried squid to share. Our meals arrived promptly and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Served in a deep bowl with ladle and chopsticks provided, my ramen came in a light creamy broth with thinly sliced chashu (Japanese roast pork), half a stewed boiled egg, sliced spring onion and cloud ear fungus. "What's that your putting into you soup?" I asked watching Ken as he grabbed a bottle from the condiment rack and sprinkled some of its granuled contents into his soup. "Fried garlic - it's nice," he said and offered me the bottle. Hmm, fried garlic in soup...maybe just a bit...ooo, YUM! It gave the soup a delicious flavour and though quite garlicky, I didn't care - more! Ken though the ramen wasn't too bad saying he has had worse and that this turned out to be a nice lunch. That's pretty positive hearing it from someone who has had the real deal in Japan and actually knows what's good and not. We agreed the fried squid was pretty average (wouldn't recommend it). Cost us $32 all up for our meals which was a bit costly but worth the experience trying it out for ourselves.


Ajisen Ramen on Urbanspoon


Left the restaurant around 1.30pm and headed to Sydney's Paddy's Markets to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetable before heading off to the fish market. A quick stop at Emperor's Garden Cake and Bakery around the corner to pick up a turnip cake (a Chinese dish made from shredded radish and plain rice flour). Cost me $9.80 for a 20-inch round pre-cooked cake - keen to see if it's anything like what we have in Malaysia and believe it or not, we have it for breakfast and/or supper! All I have to do it cut it up into slices and pan fry them before eating. This was our second visit to the bakery (our first was with Su Wei which was how I learnt that the shop sold turnip cake) that sold an assortment of Asian cakes and pastries - it was always busy, especially the long queue for their famous Emperor Puffs, miniature custard puffs baked fresh daily on an automated contraption viewable from the shop window. Definitely have to come back to get the puffs another day when I have more time. Curious to know what all the hype is about!

We took a brief stop just outside Paddy's Markets to check out a busker who was playing music on his bottle xylophone:




A short video clip of the busker having fun playing tune "Hokey Pokey":




We walked to the fish market with our purchases in our backpacks. It was about a 30-minute walk from Haymarket, Ken asking me "Are we there yet?" every so often just to annoy me. Walking is something Ken probably didn't do much living in Auckland but me being a former Wellingtonian, walking is second nature though after all the dancing last night, I am beginning to feel it in my legs too...We finally arrived at the fish market around 2.30pm and boy was Ken happily excited to see the amazing selection of seafood available at the market. We went to several of the seafood retailers and picked up some marlin and swordfish steaks as well as salmon sausages for dinner. Salmon sausages? Now that's a first for me! Expensive as it was $3 per sausage but we were curious what it would taste like so bought it anyway. The whole place was buzzing with tourists and locals buying fresh seafood or enjoying a delicious seafood meal on site. "You'll have to come back here some day for lunch," I told Ken and he nodded in agreement. Jono and I really enjoyed our lunch when we came here a couple of months back. Fresh, yummy and affordable! Photos taken at the fish market here.

"This is awesome - makes me happy," said Ken smiling as we headed to the train station for home. See, I told you that you'll like it here :) The rest of the day was spent at home doing chores and resting our tired legs from all the walking. Ken panfried the fish and made a simple oil-based pasta for dinner while I made us an orange carrot cake for dessert. The pasta and fish steaks were absolutely delicious and so was the salmon sausage (oh, it was GOOD!). I'm in food heaven!! 


Oil-based spaghetti with pan-fried marlin and swordfish steaks, corn 
and salmon sausage - thumbs up to Ken's cooking. Yum!



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