Following my last two years’ birthday trends, which is to try a never-been-before hatted restaurant. And since one of my 2023 new year’s resolutions is to eat more vegetables, this two-hat vegan restaurant YELLOW seems to be a perfect choice!
My birthday this year happened to be on Sunday. Yellow opens for lunches only on the weekend. And I wanted to celebrate it over lunch, so the timing was great! Kent and I arrived a few minutes before midday. While we were waiting for the door to be unlocked, we took some photos in front of this striking iconic Yellow House building where the restaurant is located in Potts Point. Soon enough, customers started queuing up. I never thought an upmarket vegetarian restaurant would be this popular… obviously, I was wrong. Once the door opened, we found ourselves surrounded by a funky, rustic-chic yet warm interior, and I chose a round table to settle in.
‘The Yellow House has an artistic history. It was opened as an art gallery in the 1950s. In the 1970s, Martin Sharp inhabited the space, and began a collaborative artists’ movement called The Yellow House Artists Collective.’ explained Kent when he took some pictures of the wall he was facing. ‘I’m glad to see the decor here pays homage to its artistic background!’ I replied. At the same time, we were handed our six-course plant-based tasting menu and our pairing drink options. Kent was happy with his still water, whereas I decided to try the non-alcoholic pairing.
Non-Alcoholic Pairing: Water Kefir + White Mulberry + Raspberry (Pet Nat)
Kicking off our 6-course meal with my first non-alcohol pairing drink and Kent’s still water. My white mulberry and raspberry drink had a pretty peachy colour. The taste was close to having fruity lemonade.
Cucumber + Chilli + Koji / Blini + Chimichurri + Sprouts /
Sweet Potato Croquette + Miso
Three types of little finger food and I enjoyed the cucumber and the sweet potato croquette the most. The cucumber was so refreshing that it felt like having chilled melon! Chilli gave it an extra kick too. Even Kent who did not like cucumber; was saying that: ‘It converts me to like it!’ Sprouts on blini with chimichurri sauce, and light and crispy croquette both offered great textures in mouthfeel.
Watermelon + Capsicum + Pine Nuts
Non-Alcoholic Pairing: White Peony Tea + Pear + Honeydew + Lemon + Verjus (White)
As soon as I finished my last bite of our first tasting. With no gap to recollect the pleasant flavours, our second dish and my new beverage both arrived at our table… and I was still sipping my first drink!! I ended up asking Kent to help me finish my drink for me. Having said that, I guess it’s better this way than the other way around.
When we first saw this dish, our eyes were telling us it was raw salmon! Until the fragrance of capsicum told us otherwise. The texture of melt-in-your-mouth capsicum was the contrast to the pop-in-your-mouth black sesame and roasted pine nuts. Watermelon here was most likely used as a juice element. The capsicum was silky soft and full of flavour! I was glad that we were given a generous amount of pine nuts. Kent’s feedback regarding the pine nuts was: ‘They were roasted just enough, not too hard, and pop like rice bubbles in your mouth!’ Both Kent and I enjoyed this course very much!
My pairing drink for this dish was highly acidic with a slightly bitter aftertaste. It was interesting, but I was not a fan.
Smoked Carrot + Whipped Tofu + Black Garlic
Non-Alcoholic Pairing: Passionfruit + Nectarine + Apricot + Jasmine + Vanilla (Orange)
A hint of smokiness hit our noses as soon as this dish arrived. While I was still busily snapping away, I told Kent not to wait. When I put the camera away and was ready to dig in, Kent gave me some tips by directing me: ‘First, have the carrot by itself… now try it with whipped tofu… now try it with black garlic sauce…’ ‘Wow!’ ‘Wow!’ and ‘Wow!’ as I gushed over such a moreish plate of food. I could see Kent’s point as each mouthful tasted quite differently. The carrot… so tender, sweet and smoky! The tofu on the menu was more like mayonnaise. Instead of using egg yolks, it was beaten with the house’s homemade koji. The vegetarian black garlic mayo was rich, tangy and very flavoursome!
Yellow is the first vegan restaurant to be awarded two Chef Hats by the Good Food Guide. I was waiting for a memorable dish so I could proudly say to people that ‘I’ve tried this two-hatted vegan restaurant and it’s worth it’… I think this Smoked Carrot just delivered it for me! Needless to say, we both loved it.
As for my paring drink… Frankly speaking, it was like a citrus-forward mixed fruit lemonade. I asked Kent to have a sip and his feedback was: ‘They are all too citrusy for me! I’m glad I did not go for it.’
Sourdough + Olive Oil Dip
Well, you might hear people say that fine dining restaurants offer diners bread to fill them up… Well, in this case, we had no complaints because it was so tasty. The olive oil was salted and the quality was superb. When the bread and olive oil taste as good as this, I think I would still be happy if I had to survive on them for a couple of days!
Hemp Seed Gnudi + Tomato Dashi + Eggplant
Non-Alcoholic Pairing: Rosehip + Porcini + Strawberry (Rosato)
Gnudi, means ‘naked’ in Italian. Gnudi are gnocchi-like dumplings but in this bowl here, they looked almost identical – both colouring and shape – to Chinese fish balls to me. It was very confusing for my brain especially since we cook our fish balls in the broth too! Unfortunately, these hemp seed gnudi did not have the slightly glutinous and pleasantly chewy texture like the fish balls my brain kept comparing with. The taste of the gnudi was pretty plain. Sadly, the soup itself was flat too. This course is memorable for all the wrong reasons I’m afraid. This is by far my least liked dish of the day.
Kent, who did not grow up eating fish ball soup, also found this bowl of ‘boring dumplings’ (his actual words) underwhelming. He had a sniff of my pairing drink and decided not to take a sip. By then it was my fourth glass of a fruity and citrusy drink, and this one did not stand out to me.
Beetroot + Blueberry + Mushroom
Non-Alcoholic Pairing: Rosella + Shiitake + Pomegranate Molasses (Red)
My pairing drink arrived first, and it was smoky, rich and spicy. Although it was not a glass of red, it had the complexity and concentration of flavours in a wine. This paring drink definitely left a memorable note on my palate. I enjoyed every sip of it!
I love having fresh beetroot, especially roasted ones. The mushroom on the menu was mushroom puree and it was a silky, flavourful umami bomb! The rich, earthy taste of beetroot went very well with my smoky, spicy pairing drink. Like the first food and drink pairing combination, this match was too a success for me.
However, Kent did not like the blueberries on the plate. He questioned the fusion flavour of blueberry and beetroot. Although I wished they were blackberries, I didn’t mind the blueberries. The amount of beetroot we were given was quite generous – thank you Chef! Since the carrot and the beetroot both ticked all the boxes for us, as Kent put it: ‘Root vegetables save the day!’
Plum + Shiso + Pear
Non-Alcoholic Pairing: Sugar Plum + Green Tea Kombucha (Sugar Plum)
Time to move on to dessert! What landed on our table were two beautiful looking plates! The vivid-coloured plum was indeed very inviting! The sweetness of caramelised pear was balanced by mint-flavoured shiso herb. This zesty dessert was very appetising!
My pairing drink was very sweet. It was like drinking a glass of condensed sweet plum juice! Nevertheless, the more sugar the merrier… after all, it is supposed to be an equivalent of a dessert wine.
Popcorn + Vanilla + Salted Caramel
Non-Alcoholic Pairing: Cumquat + Date + Kombu (Port)
‘You know what? This reminds me of my young teen snack – Europe Jupiter Caramel Bar!’ Kent said to me excitingly. After a few mouthfuls, he continued… ‘But the difference is, here the popcorn replaced crispy rice cereal and peanuts.’ Well, although I’ve never heard of or tasted Europe Jupiter Caramel Bar, I really like this deconstructed salted caramel and vanilla popcorn bar placed in front of me. Before I further deconstructed it, let me take some snapshots…
My last pairing drink of the meal was rich and very sweet. I may not grow up eating Europe Jupiter bar, but I did grow up having cumquat and kombu. The flavour of cumquat and kombu was rather subtle compared to dates. Right about the time I put the camera down, our waitstaff delivered a slice of cake with a candle to me, compliments of the kitchen for my birthday celebration!
I took my time to polish off my cake and dessert. The cake was light and I liked the raspberry jam in it. How about the deconstructed salted caramel and vanilla popcorn bar? It’s sweet with a hint of saltiness, creamy, yet with the mouthfeel of a light and fluffy texture of popcorn… Oh, and the crispy vanilla wafers… What’s not to love!!
A Foodie’s Note…
Towards the end of our two-hour lunch, the dining area filled up. Considering there’s a 10% surcharge on Sundays, it’s nice to see it didn’t turn the crowds away. This fine dining venue has a comfortable, laidback ambience, Kent and I happened to be the best-dressed diners on that day! The whole experience would be so much better if our waitstaff could speak a little louder, slower, and be more patient when it comes to customers’ decision making. Between course to course, I also would love to be given a little more time too; not only to enjoy the aftertaste, but to soak up the atmosphere. At the end of the day, a no-rush mood and indulging vibes are important parts of the reasons why we choose fine dining, don’t you think? Overall, it was a lovely experience and a great lunch celebration!