We ate our weight through Sydney

We ate our weight through Sydney

The attendant at the check-in counter at the Sydney International Airport is busy weighing my luggage bound for Malaysia, ensuring that it does not exceed the set 45kg limit.

Little does she know that I am carrying excess weight on board the flight - around my waist - and have carefully concealed it in a thick black jacket. She fails to notice too that my jeans are a little too snug.

Seven days ago, the jeans were loose. But that was before our international media group started to eat our way through New South Wales, home to some of the best restaurants in Australia.

In May, The Financial Review released its list of Australia's Top 100 Restaurants of 2015, and what do you know, 44 of these restaurants are located in New South Wales.

Its capital, Sydney, is home to 25 of them, and on this trip, we got to dine at three of those eateries - Momofuku Seiobo, Ester and Aria.

It's my first trip to Sydney, and it didn't take me long to realise that the dining scene here is as diverse and cosmopolitan as the harbour city itself.

There is an exotic culinary adventure to suit every appetite, and while there are many expensive and indulgent restaurants in the city centre, the real dining scene however, is blossoming in the inner city zones.

Chippendale, for one, is experiencing a rush of interesting new eateries, and continues to see a lot of action.

At the top of its game is Ester, recently crowned by Good Food Guide 2015 as Sydney's Best New Restaurant of the Year.

Housed in a former garage loading dock, a wood-fired oven is at the core of this restaurant's being. However, do not make the rookie mistake of ordering pizza at Ester, lest you feel the wrath of its head chef Mat Lindsay. He is set against entertaining any request for the pies.

Here, the wood-fired oven is used to make classic and simple dishes such as roast chicken with garlic and bread sauce, or Ester's signature roasted half-head of cauliflower, paired with mint and almond sauce.

Last year, Lindsay made the error of omitting the roasted cauliflower from Ester's seasonal menu... well, simply because. He faced the backlash almost immediately.

In an interview with SBS, Lindsay admitted: "It took two weeks before people started complaining. I had to put it back because everyone was asking for it. One table came in for lunch, and left because the cauliflower wasn't on the menu. Sometimes you gotta give the people what they want."

I love everything that Ester has to offer - the speedy service, the attentive waitstaff, the fuss-free atmosphere, and not forgetting the amazing food.

Lindsay's impeccable raw kingfish with burnt mandarin orange and nori charcoal was fresh, slightly tangy and very much addictive. I could not stop at just one slice of the fish. I also love the fragrant and silky roasted oysters, but it is the bone marrow that holds a special place in my heart, literally.

Roasted with an XO sauce crust, the split shin bone was served with charred toast cut from exceptional, rustic house-made sourdough. The artery-clogging marrow effortlessly melted in my mouth, and I could not scoop it out fast enough for my tongue's liking.

I had never had bone marrow prior to this, but now I yearn for the same feeling the fatty, silky matter gave me on the first bite.

Ester's menu centred on simplicity and was a knockout in just about every sense that mattered. Case in point, its dessert - the Three Milks. Made from goat milk dulce de leche, frothed sheep's milk yoghurt and cow's milk pannacotta, with crunched olive oil biscuit and fried rosemary, this dessert alone is worth another trip to the establishment.

Another big believer in wood-fired oven - it is becoming the it way to cook anything in Sydney - is Firedoor, the newest establishement in Surry Hills. This trendy restaurant took four years in the making before it opened in May, and Chef Lennox Hastie surely rewards one's patience with his food.

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