Simple vegetables, transformed. At two Sydney restaurants, we discovered the power of sesame seeds and a good char.

First, Firedoor, where food is cooked over wood flames, heat wafting from the open kitchen. It’s the place to get a perfectly seared 174-day dry-aged Angus steak. So I ordered cabbage—a hearty wedge of green, smoky and charred outside, tender and rich inside. The whole of it was infused with a sweet, bright vinaigrette and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

Next, Fujisaki, an Asian eatery where chard and green beans are served gomae style, paired with a dressing of toasted sesame seeds reminiscent of a light yet rich peanut sauce. The vegetables were fine; it was the sauce that had me scraping the bowl.

At Milk Street, we loved these simple ways of elevating basic vegetables. Our version of the cabbage replaces open fire with a high-heat oven. We thoroughly season each layer of cabbage, then drizzle it with a blend of spiced rice vinegar, soy sauce and honey. A finish of sesame seeds adds savory crunch.

The sauce at Fujisaki was delicious with chard, but we liked it even better with broccoli. And borrowing a lesson from Firedoor, we briefly charred it in a cast-iron skillet.