Vic's Meat Market, Meatmaiden, Nikuya, The Clove Club at Momofuku Seiobo

Photography: Courtesy Meatmaiden

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including Vic's Meat Market, Meatmaiden, Nikuya and The Clove Club at Momofuku Seiobo.

SYDNEY
Vic's Meat Market
Father and son team Anthony and Vic Puharich, best known for taking butchery boutique at Victor Churchill in Woollahra and, as Vic's Premium Quality Meat, wholesalers to the stars, have brought turf to the city's vendors of surf, opening a palace of the flesh at the Sydney Fish Market. In addition to the mighty fine retail meat offerings (not quite so fancy as Victor Churchill, but not nearly so eye-wateringly expensive, either), the new Vic's Meat Market has a separate glassed-off area doing two very different but equally interesting cooked offerings. The massive Yoder smoker broadcasts its presence at a range of many feet (even in the admittedly competitive olfactory environment of the Pyrmont docks): here be American-style barbecue. The low-and-slow smoked pork butts the iron behemoth produces are shredded (or pulled, if you will) and stuffed on a bun with coleslaw. Pretty good for $10, better still if you stretch to a Young Henry's off the tap. Then there's the Wagyu Tasting Bar, a counter dedicated solely to the worship of the high-end beef Vic's has specialised in for more than a decade. Fifty bucks buys the entry-level 150 grams of Rangers Valley rib-eye, $70 gets 150 grams of Blackmore striploin, and then there's the $90 Rolls Royce option: the "Emperor's Cut", 150 grams of Rangers Valley spinalis, the tasty muscle that cups the Scotch fillet on a rib-eye. Whichever cut you choose, it's seared and sliced Japanese-style and served very simply with a daikon and cucumber garnish and a soy-based dipping sauce. And to drink? It seems fitting, somehow, that it's all Grange by the glass - eight different vintages on any given day, from around $50 for 75ml. There, ladies and gentlemen, is the beef. Vic's Meat Market, Sydney Fish Market, Bank St, Pyrmont, NSW, (02) 8570 8570. PAT NOURSE

BRISBANE
Nikuya 
Might you describe yourself as a tonkatsu obsessive? The menu at Nikuya, a sharp new tonkatsu and kushiyaki specialist at M&A, describes its signature pork loin rosukatsu as "passionately" coated in panko. Taste it, though, and the descriptor seems less OTT. Not only is kurobuta the pig of choice, but the jacket of golden crumbs encasing it is made in-house from Nikuya's own bread. The loin arrives on a rack to keep it crisp, with lemon and a heap of undressed cabbage to cut the richness. You also score a suribachi (that is, a Japanese mortar and pestle) with sesame seeds so you can customise the tonkatsu sauce. Sake-tasting sets (in three or five options) are recommended. There's plenty more beyond the katsu, too, whether it's juicy skewers seasoned with salt or teriyaki and nicely made gyoza through to sashimi, chilled soba noodles and even wafu pasta on offer. A second-floor barbecue venue, focused on wagyu yakiniku, shabu shabu and sukiyaki, is also in the works. Nikuya, shop 8 & 8M, M&A, 100 MacLachlan St, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3252 3883. FIONA DONNELLY

MELBOURNE
Meatmaiden
There's no shortage of American barbecue in Melbourne at the moment, though the quality and authenticity of the local stuff is all over the chart. Heavy-handedness with the smoking making brisket into soft, fatty charcoal is a common problem that could turn the tide against the genre. At Meatmaiden, the more upmarket CBD sibling of Richmond's admirably grungy Meatmother, there's more care on show and no guilty thoughts about the beast that supplied the brisket (in this case, wagyu from Rangers Valley) having died in vain. Sure there's smoke in the mix but there's also native pepperberry and, mercifully, the satisfying flavour of meat. The beef short-ribs are also worth a look, but it would be criminal to miss the lobster mac - a ridiculous-sounding combination of macaroni cheese topped with really good lobster that's an astounding, resounding success. There's a grill, too, for those who just want a regular steak, plus well-respected oysters, some rather good fried chicken ribs with tequila mayo and a decent list of craft beers on tap. It's a place to refresh the somewhat tarnished reputation of Amer-Melburnian barbecue. Meatmaiden, basement, 195 Little Collins St, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9078 7747. MICHAEL HARDEN

SYDNEY BONUS
The Clove Club at Momofuku Seiobo
The Clove Club has been one of London's most talked about recent openings (and with good reason: see our travel feature on London's best new restaurants), and now, thanks to chef Isaac McHale coming to the country to cook for Ben Shewry's WAW Gathering, we have the chance to taste his food in the comfort and safety of our own country. If you've missed out on tickets for the WAW lunch he's cooking at this Sunday (along with Shewry, Roy Choi, Inaki Aizpitarte, Daniel Patterson, David Thompson and a score of other very exciting local and international names) you can catch him cooking with his old Young Turks buddy Ben Greeno at Momofuku Seiobo next week. "It's all going to be Isaac's food," says Greeno. He and the Momo team are pulling out all the stops to lay hands on "some cool stuff" that's available in quantities too small to use often on the regular Seiobo menu, and you can also expect Clove Club signatures such as its pine buttermilk chicken and consomm√© with 100-year-old Madeira ("we actually got Madeira from 1890 and 1922"). It should be a heck of a night. Isaac McHale at Momofuku Seiobo, Thursday 9 October, $155 for seven courses, not including drinks, bookings via EventBrite. PAT NOURSE

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