What a rib-per.

"We found out about the all-you-can-eat ribs night through ChocolateSuze's blog," we overheard a group of young girls confess to Josh, the owner of Cafe Ish. Josh immediately teases the girls whether they want an autograph from Suze as we have also just stuffed ourselves silly with some lips-smacking good ribs. But more importantly, to know that there are someone out there who is reading food blogs and listen to what we have to say is the most rewarding experience and that's the reason why we are still writing away.

But we are here for ribs. It is a new-ish (pun intended) Wednesday night menu at Cafe Ish where you will be able to eat as many ribs as your stomach can stretch for $35. Me and a few bloggers missed out on the first outing organised by Richard because we were travelling in Malaysia at that time. The ribs must have been good as Richard immediately planned ahead with another outing just for those who missed out for the first time. I couldn't say no this time and join my kelly gang of food bloggers for a night of rib-fest.

The first time I visited Cafe Ish was for breakfast with the food pornographer who came from Perth for the Tetsuya masterclass. I was impressed with the food and attention to details they have put in, so I am expecting no less of the ribs tonight.

As we walk in, Josh immediately recognises a few of the food bloggers and welcomes us inside. A long table has already been set up for our group of 10 and Simon who first to arrive has also made himself comfortable, minding the fortress. Josh comes over and have a quick chat, suggests us to give Summer Time a try as he reckons the refreshing fruity beer will go well with the ribs, me and Ninja concur with the suggestions while Helen's lemon myrtle witbier is surprisingly good. But it is the 'Australiana' touch of beer holders that come with the beers make Cafe Ish a touch more personal and unique.

Half of our gang still hasn't arrive and food bloggers never have down time in restaurant, hence we decide to order some sides to start with while waiting. Two types of edamame are on offer, but a little bit of heat kick to warm up in this chilly winter night is what we are craving for and all agree to go with the chilli edamame. A bowl of edamame pods are nicely coated in a chilli paste which has a strong flavour that almost taste similar to sambal, but my instinct tells me perhaps is the salty black bean paste. Nothing beat popping the crunchy soy beans and wash it down with beer.

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Hot and crispy chips shoestring fries never fail to please. A sprinkle of Murray River pink salt sparingly on top but it is the wasabi mayo that had us keep going back for more. It is hard to stop but also worry about eating too much and left no space for the ribs later, oh the dilemma of a hungry food blogger.

And yes food bloggers do eat greens, sometimes. Cabbage is cabbage, it is still one of my least favourite vegetables. The raw cabbage is roughly chopped and served with a bowl of wattleseed miso mayo. I must be out of my mind, I find the raw cabbage surprisingly sweet and happily crunch down the crispy green leaves dipping into the nutty, creamy mayo. The rest of the crew arrive just in time as we are about to order our first round of ribs.

The blue gum smoked pork ribs are first to arrive and boy, have I groan the loudest at the table? Love at first sight, don't you agree? The ribs are not grilled but braised in sake, soy, mirin and ginger. Rather than a whole rack, the bowl is filled with hunk of meat with two ribs each. It is surprisingly meaty and I would hate this word, but yes they are 'moist'. A touch of refreshing coriander, fresh chili, shallots, sesame and black vinegar adds colour to the ribs and helps to cut through the fat. If you think the pork ribs are good, wait till you see the beef version!

One word - "Phwoah!!!"

Do I need to say more? The blue gum smoked beef ribs are cut lengthwise which yields more meat and less bone on each piece. Braised in the same method as the pork ribs, but the beef are a lot more tender, succulent and saucy. I want a bowl of steam rice with these babies, but Helen thinks is sacrilege, "Carb, Billy! Carb!!! Focus on the meat!"

And Helen is right, even without the rice, or whether the sides we've had earlier are the culprits, but most of us struggle to finish more than two ribs each. They are seriously meaty and should never estimate how rich and heavy they are. I managed two of each ribs and consider myself defeated.

"I'll clean the plates and you guys want to look at dessert?" ask Ai, Josh's other half. Usually we probably wouldn't even flinch and hands up at once to say yes. I think most of us are still in meat-coma and take some time to realise it is a question and not a statement. Yes, we do, and one of each is the way to go.

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The wattleseed creme brulee is served Japanese azuki beans on the side. A swift crackling-ceremony breaks into the silky smooth custard underneath. The wattleseed gives the brulee a nutty flavour, me and Helen agree that it taste like cappuccino. The azuki bean is sweet and served chilled, but its gritty texture can be an unnecessary addition to the velvety smooth brulee which should be appreciated on its own.

Ai is quite proud of her chocolate cake with wattleseed ice cream and umeboshi sour plum jam. The cake is heavenly rich and dense, every spoonful is a sin of indulgence. The wattleseed ice cream helps to lift up the flavour while the acidity of the umeboshi plum jam helps to cut through the richness.

But it is the Lemon Delicious that have us all fight until the last spoonful. Served in a hot flat porcelain saucer, the baked pudding is as fluffy as cloud, and as light and airy as feather. A distinctive flavour of lemon myrtle (Genius!) is so aromatic and instantly transcend me to the outback. A dollop of cold vanilla ice cream soothes one soul and I can't help but close my eyes and let out a big sigh of satisfaction.

Helen asks Josh for the recipe, and we soon find out that it is a classic CWA recipe that him and his mum have been using it for years. An oldie, but a goodie, indeed.

The ribs at Cafe Ish are seriously incredible. I can't say they are the best ribs in Sydney because there is no one else do the ribs same way they do. Don't expect a rack of grilled spare ribs smothered in BBQ sauce, you won't find it here. You simply can't compare, Cafe Ish always do things their own ways, and that's what make them unique.

Happy gnawing!

NETT magazine: July Issue

In other news, A Table For Two has a little mentioned in the latest issue of NETT magazine, an article about Single Origin Roasters and how online social media and web have a big influence on their business. It's worth to check it out.

In the article:

"Popular food blogger Billy Law (atablefortwo.com.au), for example, has been a regular for years and designed the brand's (Single Origin) first website in 2006 after a casual meeting with the owners. They recently gave him behind-the-scenes access to the coffee roasting operation in Alexandria so he could create a photo story for his blog fans."
On the contrary, there is also an article on The Age yesterday regarding food bloggers taking photographs in restaurants. I do sometimes being asked by people who attend my photography workshops on how to take photos in restaurants and how to tackle a sticky situation. I personally think taking photos of the food is also just part of the dining experience. Some prefer to take mental note, and some just prefer to capture it and share I guess. However, I don't think that an individual's flaws and mistakes can be generalised and group all food bloggers as a whole in the article. Each to their own really.

Happy Eating!


Competition winners announced

SBS Food Safari DVD packs giveaways

5 lucky winners:

  1. Barbara
  2. Ashleigh
  3. Katie&Wags
  4. isLa
  5. Lance

Good Food & Wine Show double passes giveaways

5 lucky winners:

  1. Elissa Macpherson
  2. Mark @ Chef Campana
  3. Michelle Thomas
  4. Angie
  5. David

Winners will be notified via email and prizes will be sent out immediately once we received your mailing address.

Thanks guys for participating!


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Cafe Ish
82 Campbell Street
Surry Hills
Open Wednesday – Saturday for Dinner
Open 7 days during the day for your coffee fix and other dishes

All-you-can-eat ribs $35 are only available on Wednesday night. Book ahead guys! It was packed!

Cafe Ish on Urbanspoon