Category: Savoury snacks

Takoyaki Roll – Octopus Inception

Takoyaki Roll – $2.60 from Fuji-Pan, Goulburn St Sydney (next to Fujiya Restaurant, 605 George St)

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Long time readers may remember my first foray into snack takoyaki as a solid but otherwise underwhelming experience. Today I introduce you to another variation of the humble octopus ball, reimagined by those purveyors of strange snacks, Fuji-Pan. Without repeating myself too much, takoyaki is a traditional Japanese snack of small octopus dumpling balls, served at a  temperature usually reserved for molten magma, and garnished with bonito flakes that dance like Swayze in the heat.

In a fashion one can only describe as unnecessary, Fuji-Pan have made what on first glance appears to be a giant takoyaki, around the size of a cricket ball. My stomach lit up at the thought of such a feast, and all the tentacular goodness within. On biting into the snack though, I quickly realised that this wasn’t an oversized dumpling at all, but rather a cold bread roll made to look like a giant takoyaki, complete with sauces and some fairly limp bonito. I would by lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed at this point, not the least because I was again let down in the temperature department.

Upon further excavation though I uncovered something unexpected – the roll had some sort of filled centre. Then the eureka moment – the centre of the giant takoyaki was in fact another takoyaki, like some sort of edible babushka doll. I quickly dissected the inside takoyaki in the hope of finding a tiny pea-sized dumpling, but found only a chunk of cepholapod appendage.

On the one hand, Fuji-pan have done something incredible here, in creating a snack wholly enclosed inside a giant version of itself. However, this doesn’t hide the fact that neither the core nor crust resemble anything close to the piping hot takoyaki of my youth, and the bonito flakes look more like me dancing than the late great Swayze. Another promising snack let down by poor execution. 2 1/2 stars.

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Originality – Excellent

Execution – Poor

Value – Fair

Overall judgement: 2 1/2

Chicken-mushroom doughnut – the next offical jam doughnut variation?

Chicken-mushroom doughnut – $2.60 from Breadtop, plenty of locations all over greater Sydney (except for Sussex St which has closed)

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To say that jam doughnuts have played a significant role in my life would not be an understatement. When I reminisce on my many years on this earth, I remember numerous occasions when simple jam-filled balls of dough deep fried in fat until the jam resembles molten magma have sustained me through long nights and cold winters. Needless to say, when I first saw the family resemblance in Breadtop’s chicken-mushroom doughnut, the fond memories came flooding back, and I purchased it on the spot. Triumph or atrocity? Read on.

In a similar vein to Barby’s cheese and bacon, Breadtop has taken something that western snack eaters know and love (the jam doughnut) and given it an unexpected twist (by replacing the jam with a chicken and mushroom sauce). A quick search of the font of all knowledge finds that the jam filled doughnuts exist in regional variations in over 16 countries, including Australia (although largely limited to South Australia, home of Fritz). So far the chicken-mushroom has not been recognised as an official JD variant, though as the late great Bob Dylan said, the times, they are a changing.

The chicken-mushroom donut suffers from many of the same symptoms as Breadtop’s other offerings, largely inconsistency. Some days, on biting into the bulbous mass, you’ll be greeted with a warm oozing stream of fungo-poultry paste, other days, a cold hard slap in the face. Unfortunately the doughnuts seem to be more hit than miss, and eating cold chicken rarely inspires confidence in a snacker. That said, I do keep going back, hoping to find the enveloping feeling of comfort and safety that comes with a good fried doughnut. 2 and a half stars.

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Originality – Excellent

Execution – Average

Value – OK

Overall judgement: 2 1/2

Flossy Hamchez – For when one pork product just wont cut it

Flossy Hamchez – $2.60 from Barby, 2 locations in Haymarket (Sussex St and Market City)

In life, as in pork-products, two’s company.

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Author’s note: If you are reading this, you are one of a small minority of people blessed with the honour of being able to read this highly informative and socially important blog. However, dwindling numbers of visitors have caused me to reconsider my approach. After researching the successes of other major media outlets, I have decided to convert the blog to tabloid format, to cater for those commuters who find the broadsheet version just too unweildy. To take advantage of this new format, simply rotate your computer screen or mobile device 90 degrees to the right.

There comes a time in a man’s life when he feels that eating one pork based product at a time is just not enough. Luckily, the buzzing brains at Barby’s have their fingers on the pulse, and have created a snack for such a man, the Flossy Hamchez.

This snack is a throwback to the days of the once great Porcine Ingestion Group, who campaigned for years for mandatory minimum pork standards. The PIGs popularity peaked in the late 1980s following a heavy media campaign, but soon fell out of favour after a tell-all documentary revealed just how poorly the animals were treated. A number of snack purveyors, who had invested heavily in gaining ‘two-pork preferred’ certification, were left to cut their losses, and few have been game to combine pork products ever since.

Barby have bravely returned to the territory though, and have come out with mixed results. The Flossy Hamchez combines pork floss, diced ham, melted cheese, tomato sauce, mayonnaise, and herbs, presented attractively in a plain bread bun. At first, eating the Hamchez feels like a flavour overload. Sauce is the first to tickle the tastebuds, then the herbs and ham hit you like a one-two punch. The floss adds a lasting chewiness and texture, but for the life of me I couldn’t find the cheese. I knew it was there, but it became obscured in the face of so many other flavours. If I had some advice for Barby, it would be to put the cheese on last before grilling, giving eaters enough time to savour some dairy goodness before diving headlong into pork paradise. All in all, a solid snack, but just doesn’t have the same appeal as other options. I applaud Barby’s bravery though in attempting a two-porker, and look forward to other eateries following suit. Three stars.

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Originality – Excellent

Execution – Good

Value – OK

Overall judgement: 3

 

* For those of you who were wondering,  I’m not counting the Nicky Sausage as a two-pork snack, as we all know frankfurts aren’t really meat, and if they are, we can never be sure what animal it came from. Most likely horse.

Smarter than the average Cheese and Bacon Roll

Cheese and Bacon roll – $2.00 from Barby, 2 locations in Haymarket (Sussex St and Market City)

Barby are renowned for pushing the envelope when it comes to snacks (see the Perfect Roll), so it was with some trepidation that I purchased the innocuously named but outrageously shaped Cheese and Bacon.

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A perennial favourite at Vietnamese hot bread shops all across suburban Australia, the humble cheese and bacon roll has filled the stomachs of school children and shift workers alike for nearly four decades. For many, this is probably their first foray into the world of hot bread snacks. In their search for snack market domination, Barby have combined the familiarity of the cheese and bacon roll, with the uniqueness of an small vase of flowers, to create what could be the perfect gateway snack for new eaters.

Eating the roll took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions.  Firstly denial – This can’t be a cheese and bacon roll, it just cant. It looks like an explosion! Then anger – What? Where’s the hidden boiled egg or chocolate chips? This is just a plain roll! It’s not fair! Then  bargaining – I’ll give anything for a tiny bit of pork floss, some corn, anything. Then depression – It’s over, it really is just a cheese and bacon roll. I don’t know why I even bothered to buy it. And finally acceptance – Actually, this makes a lot of sense. It looks like mushroom, but tastes just like a cheese and bacon roll. It’s going to be OK. This reaction is not uncommon, and is known in snack circles as the Five Stages of Grease.

When I reached the fifth stage, and accepted the roll for what it was, I found myself eating what is possibly the best cheese and bacon roll I’ve ever had. The bread is flawlessly soft, like a blanketing of powdery snow on a misty morning. A light crust on the outside holds the roll together, without adding chewiness. The bacon and cheese to bread ratio, a common downfall of the traditional variety, is just about spot on. Finally, a light smear of sauce and a sprinkling of herbs add the finishing touches and provide a welcome colourful variety to the protruding top.

Barby have succeeded here, in making a snack that doesn’t look out of place next to the Pork Floss Sushi Roll,  but at the same time is approachable and familiar, like the Salvo’s brass band at Christmas. But beware! – you’re on the edge of a slippery snack slope, soon you will be salivating for something more adventurous, and Barby are ready to show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes. 4 stars.

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Originality – Excellent

Execution – Excellent

Value – Good

Overall judgement: 4