Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Universal Restaurant, Darlinghurst

One of the perks (if you can call it that) of starting blogging is that you get to meet new people that shares the same interest (read : eating).
When Ms. Doctor (fluffy makan) wrote me an email asking whether I'd like to meet up with her for dinner, I must confess, I did hesitate for a while LOL
I've never met her before, so the thought of going out dinner that can last for hours is a bit daunting, what if we don't have anything to talk about ? (crickets chirping in the background *chirp, chirp*).
Turned out I have nothing to worry about, that girl can talk hahahahaha !

Fat Chicken Statue on Republic 2 Courtyard ; Universal hanging mobile
We got a bit lost getting to Universal as none of us have ever been there before. With just my Where Is map print out and her iPhone GPS, we finally got there...the long way.....
Turned out that it was right where I parked my car, but we went around the block LOL

Christine Mansfield's Universal Restaurant is located inside the Republic 2 courtyard, next to the ever so popular Vietnamese eatery, Phamish, which was already packed so early in the evening.

Please excuse the reddish tinge in all the photos, the lighting in the restaurant was pure red...dark red....the horror of editing the photos.......ARRGHHH !

Fuji Mama  $9.00
apple & honey puree, Peruvian spice syrup, apple juice

I picked one of the 2 choices available for the mocktails, or as they call it here, the Detox Virgins.
Drinking Fuji Mama was like drinking sparkling apple pie, sweet spiced concoction of apple with slivers of crunch fresh green apple.

Baguette & Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

Not long after the drinks arrived, a plate of baguette and olive oil for dipping was brought over.
The baguette was served cold, which was a bit of a let down.

Olive Oil Dish 

The olive oil was served on a dish that reminded me of Optrex eye wash cap LOL
It was a bit off balance so we were warned to be careful when dipping our bread into it as it would easily topple over.

The menu layout in Universal is different to any other places, there are no entrees nor mains.
The items in the menu was laid out as progression from the lightly flavoured to the heavier flavoured dishes.
We decided to pick a few items from the menu to share, leaving rooms for their famed desserts.

Octopus Terrine  $27.00
watermelon, mint, green chilli and persian feta  

The octopus was incredibly melts in your mouth was amazing !
There was just right balance of saltiness from the fetta and olives, and the classic combination of watermelon and mint never fails.
This is a dish that packs a lot of punch although the flavours were light and refreshing.
Just couldn't get enough of the tender,creamy octopus though....

Amazingly Tender Octopus

Sansho Beef Tataki  $27.00
miso pickled seaweed, taro wafer and shiso 

Next dish is still one of the lighter dishes, thick slices of wagyu tataki, with sweet and salty miso dressed wakame salad mixed with  baby shisho and scallions. Topped with thin crisp taro chips and avruga caviar.
The beef was not as tender as expected and overall the dish tasted too salty for me.
Miss Doctor who had a high level of salt tolerance didn't find it salty at all LOL

Sticky Rice & Salted Duck Egg Cakes  $26.00
green mango, ruby grapefruit and roasted cashew salad

We ordered this dish as we have read on reviews that this is a must order dish at Universal.
Chewy deep fried rice ball, drenched in sour Vietnamese style dressing, with a mixture of  mango, grapefruit and cashew nuts salad, resting on  betel leaf topped with fried shallots.
Couldn't taste the salted duck egg in the rice cakes though, probably masked by the strong dressing flavour.
Though it is a tasty and moorish dish, I still preferred the first dish of octopus terrine.

The next 2 dishes were from the heavier dishes list and we were hoping that the serving size would be more generous than the 3 we had, which was very small for the price.

Chilli Salt Soft Shell Mud Crab Tempura  $31.00
palm heart and caramelized coconut

The look of whole crab on a plate looked very promising ! The soft shell crab was fried to crispy only problem with it was that is was super salty >__<
Thankfully the green curry like sauce was sweet, which helps to offset the high level of salt.

Coorong Yellow Eye  $31.00
black truffle potato galette, caramelized foie gras and spinach 

When the last dish arrived, I have to stifle a laugh.....This would have to be the most expensive fish dish I've ever ordered. I had to point out to Miss Doctor where the fish was - if you look very's the thin layer in between the foie gras and the potato galette - we had nothing else to say but to laugh LOL.
The fish was cooked well, and the foie gras was creamy and nicely caramelized and topped with sweet caramelized onions.
The spinach puree was again very salty...can't wait to get something sweet...

Gaytime Gone Nuts  $19.00
honeycomb ice cream, caramel parfait, chocolate crunch, salted hazelnut caramel

The dessert that made Miss Doctor goes Nuts !
We finally got to taste the famous Universal's Golden Gaytime inspiried dessert.
It was a delicious layer of honeycomb ice cream, salted hazelnut caramel, topped with crumbed cookies and caramel parfait, encased in a thin tuile. It was bad but oh so good...

Madame Pompadour  $19.00
white peach curd, peach and rosé jelly, peach macarons, fromage blanc sherbet, fairy floss

I chose something light from the dessert menu...okay...I chose it because the name sounded fancy...French Marie Antoinette fancy....
And it didn't dissapoint, the pretty dessert arrived in a glass topped with fairy floss - pompadour like indeed :) Adorned with jewels like super cute mini macarons and frozen raspberries.
Love the dessert overall, the white peach curd, the jelly and fromage blanc serbet was a lovely combination.

Salted Butter Caramel
to accompany tea or coffee

We ordered tea to accompany our desserts, I got the Mariage Frères Thé des Mandarins ($10), a  rare Chinese white tea, silver needle buds scented with jasmine blossoms. Miss Doctor had the Casablanca ($6 ), blend of green tea and Moroccan mint with bergamot flavoured black tea.
Served alongside the pots of tea was the very yummy salted butter caramel - it was a perfect close to a meal.

There are hits and misses with the savoury dishes here, the flavours were off balanced at times and I must say, the prices are a bit steep for what we got.
The highlight of the night would be the desserts that were amazing ! Not to mention very reasonably priced compared the rest of the menu.

We will be back ...maybe just for desserts ^_*

Universal on Urbanspoon


  1. I absolutely adore the food at Universal, and must go back again soon. Most of the dishes here must be customer faves as I've had most of them; a shame the beef tataki wasn't to your liking because I loved every bite. Mmmm.

  2. The desserts look absolutely stunning!

    And good job on the photo editing - they look great!

  3. The desserts look interesting as do some of the mains, but the prices were pretty premium.

  4. A shame about non-balanced seasoning in savoury dishes. Maybe that's why they're famous for their desserts?

  5. youre aliveeee :D holy crap the desserts look awesome! the gaytime gone nuts (and on steroids) and the teeny macarons look sooo good!!

  6. The desserts definitely look to be the highlight! The gaytime dessert looks amazing...

  7. For some weird reason I always thought this place did Thai food - I must've gotten that idea into my head during last years Masterchef. The food looks lovely, but the portions seem a bit teeny tiny.

  8. yay u finally tried it :) i love universal! and the gay time - my favourtie!

  9. OMG, THOSE 2 DESSERTS looks stunning ! I miss Sydney !!!!!!!! hehe

  10. joey : maybe it was overdone when I had it that day hehehehe...

    tina : ouw...thanks ;) my eyes were hurting as I was editing though lol

    thang : yeah, the prices are a bit steep, but the desserts worth every cent.

    lateraleating : it was a dissapointment on the savouries, but the desserts did stand up to their reputation.

    betty : I'm alive \^o^/ LOL you should go there and have their desserts...addictive....

    missklicious : I sure hope the gaytime stays on their dessert menu forever !

    miss piggy : you are not wrong actually, their dishes are heavy with south east asian flavours.

    shierly : yay ! we did ! although this was ages ago...slack blogger :P

    Ja : you should come back here Ja, but seems like you are having fun back home too :)