Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country including Ippudo Sydney, Alfred and Constance, The People's Market, and Xarcuteria.
Ramen made this Fukuoka-based chain's name. If the akamaru shinaji, a rich, porky tonkotsu broth leavened with red miso, black fungi and garlic oil, is any guide, this latest branch, opened last week at Westfield in the CBD, is likely to be as big a hit as those in Manhattan, Singapore, Seoul and Hong Kong. But for me, it's all about the pork-belly buns. They're of the same China-via-Japan genus that inspired the Momofuku signature, and, soft and juicy, they're the best four bucks you can spend on food in Sydney right now. The only downside? They're not sold at the takeaway counter. Ippudo Sydney, Level 5, Westfield Sydney, cnr Market & Pitt sts, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9573 0011. PAT NOURSE
Alfred and Constance
There's a Jolly Roger aflutter above the smoking deck, a skeleton dangling in the private dining room, and a Tiki-savvy barman upstairs who takes style cues from a vintage Player's cigarette packet. Alfred and Constance (pictured, above) could easily be a case of too much fun, if not for the serious approach of chef Jocelyn Hancock and the team manning the woodfired oven and Josper charcoal grill at the Vanguard Beer Garden. There's plenty to discover in this rambling venue, ranged cleverly over two old Queenslanders, but don't go without tasting the juicy pork carved from the whole roast pig. It's sold by weight and comes with all the trimmings, including beautiful shattered tiles of crunchy crackling. Alfred and Constance, cnr Alfred and Constance sts, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3251 6500. FIONA DONNELLY
The People's Market
A pop-up outdoor village in one of the remaining parts of Collingwood with an industrial/warehouse vibe, The People's Market is serving impressive food and booze in a graffiti- and fairy light-bedecked shipping containers from Thursdays through Saturdays until April. The food on offer changes every month, being served up by the likes of MoVida Bakery, Hellenic Republic, and Taiwanese street food purveyors Ghost Kitchen. There's also the inevitable Mexican (Touché Hombre) and hot dogs (Phat Brats), plus several beers on tap from local brewers Thunder Road at the central bar. The site's other draws include shops, art, music, a Saturday market and workshops, but most of all there are plenty of good-natured fun times to be had. The People's Market, 64-68 Stanley St, Collingwood, Vic. MICHAEL HARDEN
Xarcuteria David Coomer is having another señor moment, only this time he has teamed up with former Star Anise offsiders Adam Willie and Anna Campos. Together, these three amigos have brought us Xarcuteria, a loving (not to mention totally rockin') homage to the delis of Spain. It's a paean sung in the key of porky smallgoods, exemplary bocadillos (Joselito Iberico and tomato bread!), and more homemade preserves and tinned anchovies than you can shake a house-baked sourdough baguette at. It's a logical extension of the earthy flavours at Pata Negra, but unlike Coomer's tapas stronghold, Xarcuteria is a strictly a take-away and enjoy-at-home prospect. Xarcuteria, Shop 1, Claremont Court, 1 Leura Ave, Claremont, WA, (08) 9385 4696. MAX VEENHUYZEN