Truffle season has rolled around again, and it seems like Sydney’s menus are more festooned with the fungi than ever. This year it’s adorning toasties, showering hot chocolates and broken up inside xiao long bao. It’s being used so liberally at cafes and restaurants that we can practically smell its pungent scent wafting through the air. The best bit about these little flavour nuggets is they add a little dose of luxury to mid-Covid life, whether you’re on a budget or happy to splash out. And best of all, there’s no artificial “truffle” oil in sight.
Inner-city pasta and wine bar Ragazzi changes its menu regularly, and right now it’s rotating through a series of truffle-based dishes. “We don't like to use truffles for the sake of it or just add them to existing dishes willy-nilly,” chef Scott McComas-Williams tells Broadsheet. “It’s a delicate yet powerful ingredient, so we dedicate the dish itself to the truffle.”
On any given day during truffle season you might be able to order Andean Sunrise potato gnocchi with brown butter, Parmigiano Reggiano and truffle; mandilli di seta (“silk handkerchief” pasta) with butter, truffle and half-cured yolk; or duck breast and chicken liver agnolotti dal plin with roast duck sauce and truffle.
New Shanghai, various locations
At this Chinese restaurant group, truffles are stuffed into inky black xiao long bao and pot-sticker dumplings, and stirred through chicken-and-mushroom fried rice. The xiao long bao, or steamed soup dumplings, are thick with the aroma of these black beauties, while the fried rice will impart a sharp, pleasant whiff of the stuff every now and then. If you want to get your truffle fix on a budget, this is a good option – you get a decent amount of it for less than $20 per dish.
The Mayflower, Darlinghurst
At this pretty new Darlinghurst cafe, luxurious, rich food is the name of the game: lavish amounts of caviar are spread across blinis and served with boiled eggs and soldiers, and during the seasonal window truffles can be added to any dish. Most notably, there’s a croque monsieur made with prosciutto, gruyere and bechamel, and not only is the gooey mixture inside the toastie spiked with truffles, they’re also finely grated over the top for extra punch.
Truffles also come shaved over bucatini pasta, and served on crème caramel with candied hazelnuts. Chips are made extra fancy with parmesan and truffles, and you can even get a pile of truffles grated over hot chocolate. It’s $15 for five grams of truffles on your milky beverage, or $30 for 10.
Ho Jiak, Haymarket, Strathfield and Town Hall
This Malaysian diner’s food is so packed with flavour it doesn’t need to lean on the richness of truffles. But who can resist a serving of every uni students’ noodles of choice – Indomie’s mi goreng – served with truffle-infused buttermilk and Parmigiano Reggiano, and topped with a salted duck egg, house-made truffle oil and still more truffles? It’s the ultimate high-low pairing.
The dish is available at both Ho Jiak Town Hall and Haymarket. If you want to eat meals injected with nothing but truffles, though, head to the newest outlet in Town Hall. This is where you’ll find the full truffle experience. Along with the mi goreng, you’ll find truffle-spiked sam wong dan (a custard-like dish with three types of eggs) and the restaurant’s char tow koay, also jacked up with truffle.
Soul Dining, Surry Hills
This Surry Hills eatery is putting a truffle spin on both its fancier dishes and the ones inspired by Korean street food, using what are considered to be some of Australia’s finest – Tasmanian Périgord truffles – for an extra thwack of flavour. There’s truffle Wagyu tartare on crisp dumpling skins; truffle egg bread with truffle mayo and shallots; and truffle mushroom cream tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes). Plus, you can add truffles to any other dish you like for $15 (hello abalone risotto with truffles).
The Gantry, Walsh Bay
If you’re going to give in to the truffle kerfuffle, it’s worth making the experience as opulent as possible. So why not grab a mate and visit swish harbourfront restaurant The Gantry for a one-kilo 2GR heritage full-blood Wagyu with a marble score of four – aka one of the country’s most impressive cuts of meat – buried beneath black truffle? It’ll set you back $220 for two and comes with seasonal veggies.
Kick off your day with a brekkie hopped up on truffles at Lindfield cafe Goodfields. There are six dishes injected with a dose of the black stuff, plus it can be added to any other dish for $15 (if you’ve ever dreamed of pumping up a bacon and egg roll with these babies, now’s your chance).
Goodfields knows that, much like Victoria and David Beckham, cheese and truffles are a perfect match. So, it’s created a jaffle with croissant loaf, three cheeses, ham, truffle cheese sauce and extra fresh truffles ($29.50). It’s also mixed truffles into arancini; infused them into ice-cream and wedged them between brownies for a lush ice-cream sandwich; and used them in a beef braise, which is then topped with truffle pecorino and fresh truffles.
The stuff’s also there in the fried-chicken hotcakes, where it’s injected into whipped butter and infused in maple syrup before more is grated on top. Plus, there are butter-fried lobster chunks with chips, truffle cheese sauce and of course, fresh truffles.