Bodega, Surry Hills

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With the abundance of good food in Sydney, a return visit to any restaurant means that their food during my first visit was so delicious to a point that it was memorable. Bodega offers inventive and modern tapas inspired by Latin American and Spanish cuisines. A lot has changed since my first visit five years ago but for the better. No longer is the dining room too dark and filled with bar tables and stools; now housing dining tables (at a more comfortable height) and dimly lit but not overly so that I have to bring out my torch to see what I’m consuming.

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The signature dishes remain the same though, and like last time, we started off with Fish Fingers ($22). These are not your ordinary fish fingers but consist of hiramasa king fish sashimi, served on charred toast, topped with little cubes of calamari and umami-packed mojama (salt-cured tuna). I remember the first time I had this, the raw onion taste was overpowering, but I was glad it was not the case this time. Flavours nicely balanced, I thoroughly enjoyed the contrasting textures of fresh sashimi, crunchy toast, and the slightly chewy calamari. If I had to nitpick, it would be the overly charred toast that was nearing burnt.

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I love ox tongue so the next snack was a given. Tender bbq ox tongue, crab and salsa golf sandwiched between an incredibly soft steamed milk bun ($12) is a must here!

Photo 4-10-2014 11 25 28 amAnother dish that I’ve heard raving reviews about is the buttermilk pancake, salt cod, 62 degree egg and smoked maple butter ($18). We were told to mix it all up before eating and it really did change the flavours with an interesting combination of sweet from the pancake and maple butter, and savoury from the crunchy salt cod fritter. I enjoyed this but my friend not so much.

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My friend’s dish of the night was one of the specials – crispy fried quail ($20) served with fried spinach, corn puree and gravy, but I was not a fan of the dominating pepper flavour used in both the batter of the quail and the gravy. The batter was also largely reminiscent of the batter used KFC’s original recipe (the fast food type) which I was never too keen about.

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We decided not to overindulge so it was time to order dessert. We gave the signature banana split a pass because my eyes lit up as soon as I saw my most beloved lemon curd being one of the accompaniments along with doughnuts, cheesecake and cinnamon ice cream ($16). I loved the individual components of the dessert especially the warm and fluffy doughnuts, but didn’t really come together as one dish.

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There will always be a next time at Bodega, hopefully not five years later.

– C

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