[invite] Bianca: Kyle Bay you ask? I’ll admit, my Inner west bubble keeps me pretty insulated but food explorations are some of my favourites! So, one sunny Sunday, Ness and I made our way to the Sutherland Shire for JAAKS modern take on Turkish and Cypriot cuisine.
The family-run restaurant, alongside Turkish head chef Arman Uz, has created a gorgeous, spacious, light-filled dining space. The multi-purpose venue is separated into a large upstairs function space, private dining areas and it’s main restaurant, Jaaks, downstairs.
Keen to flex his culinary muscles, Arman sent out some of the restaurant’s standouts. We eagerly welcomed the Housemade Village Bread -w/ tahini olives $7 perhaps a big call but easily rivalling some of the biggest bakeries in Sydney, seriously one of the best pieces of bread we’ve had recently, we heart carbs! Plump juicy green olives, slathered in tahini, pomegranate seeds and molasses. But our best advice is to save that bread for the dips!
Bow down, Warm Hummus -w/ basturma, wattleseed dukkah $20. You’ll be scraping every single morsel of that hummus with that village bread, trust us! Incredibly smooth and creamy, basturma a common Turkish air-dried cured beef was almost like velvety kebab meat (without the guilt). Served alongside a housemade flatbread, similar to lavosh.
Our love for cheese knows no bounds and Tilba Haloumi -w/ local honey $18 was the very definition of perfection, pretty as a picture. Thick sticky honey, accenting the salty notes of the Haloumi. I was surprised by the texture, quite soft and smooth, lacking that tell-tale squeakiness of a traditional halloumi.
Another standout was the Imam Bayildi – smoked eggplant, capsicum & tomato $24. Vibrant on the plate, velvety smoked eggplant with a mild charred flavour, acidic notes dotting this dish, the sour tahini and olive oil tying it all together. Quintessentially Mediterranean.
Ticking off the vegetable portion of our day was the Spanakorizo -spinach, duck egg yolk, black rice & feta $24. Normally the pastry is the centre of the party for any spanakopita but I didn’t even notice the absence of any pastry. Perfectly seasoned, typically referred to as a pilaf but the ratio was geared more towards the greenery. Black rice adding a bold nuttiness, sweetness from the caramelised onions, the feta, a subtle creaminess. We carefully avoided the duck egg…
Perhaps the only misstep across nine dishes, the Charred Squid -w/ herbed tahini $22. The quality of the squid was evident and there was none of that prominent fishy flavour but compared to everything else, it didn’t quite hit the mark for us.
And the final savoury, something we’ve never encountered before. Kulbasti – thinly sliced beef, bread, tomato & yoghurt $38. Tender slices of beef, seasoned with oregano and herbs. Sitting atop slices of bread, drowned in a thick tomato sauce and some of the beef juices. The yoghurt aiding to cut through the richness. I was initially sceptical about the texture of the bread, perhaps not the most endearing way to describe it but the texture was almost ‘sponge-like’ but it TOTALLY worked. It was chewy, dense, rich and absolutely delicious!
Engaging our emergency second dessert stomaches, the Baklava – crispy pastry, pistachio and golden syrup $16 was wonderfully crisp, not ear-splittingly sweet and incredibly hard to stop at just one. We both particularly enjoyed the bursts of rosewater jelly, really breaking up the concentrated pistachio flavour.
Covering both bases, the Turkish dessert, Kazandibi – caramelised milk pudding, mastic & sour cherry jam $16. Perhaps not to my tastes, I definitely steer more towards the more bold, in your face flavours. I quite enjoyed the caramelised ‘burnt’ bottom layer and the dottings of tart sour cherry. The use of cinnamon was fairly understated, I’d be curious what my Turkish friends think of this version.
We were REALLY impressed by the food at Jaaks, we’ve already made a mental note for future family get-togethers. One to bookmark ASAP.
*For Food’s Sake dined as guests of Jaaks Kyle Bay.