Sunday, December 22, 2013

Third Wave

Located on Cato Street off Prahan Central this place is fairly new on the scene in this area. But it's sister store in Port Melbourne has been around for over 2 years. This is a bruch place by day and by night it turns into an American diner.

The venue is very modern and brightly lit. The decor and atmosphere was also very comfortable and I can see how it will appeal to a brunch setting. Overall the seating arrangement was simple and it made it feel quite spacious considering the size of the place.

Being the pig that I am, I obviously went for the dinner menu and those famous BBQ ribs.


  We got a medium size BBQ pork ribs. We expected the servings to be fairly big because American diners have a tendency to do things larger than normal. When it came, the medium only consisted of 4 ribs. I was a tad shock but in the end the serving size was right between 2 people as we ordered other things to share. When we were ordering we were told that it is quite spicy so we were recommended to go mild...... I'm guessing the waitress can't really take spicy because what we tasted wasn't spicy at all. In saying that, it was still very robust BBQ sauce flavour. The meat just fell off the bone, it was delicious. Next time I go back I will definitely get it again but maybe with more kick next time.

As a side we got the Pancetta peas. Mmmmm butter does make things taste better, the peas are cooked with butter and onion. The menu described there to be mint in there too but I failed taste or smell any mint on mine. The pancetta on the peas were very fatty which I'm sure added more flavour. I found this quite a good side to compliment the ribs.

Also, got the smoked chicken salad to help balance out my diet (a bit.. maybe... kinda). This was served with fennel, leaves, cherry tomatoes, red onion, almonds and a coconut dressing. I can't say I've had those flavours together before but it did work together nicely.

After all that we walked away content but not full. When we were ordering we were advised that it would be enough food.... maybe I'm a large eater but I could've easily downed another plate of ribs. I really wanted to try the Reuben as well but we were worried it would be too much food for 2 people. Guess I'll have to go back now! You see from the pictures, we cleared all the plates!!

Overall I would rate it a 13.5/20. It's actually pretty expensive for the portion size and food type. It isn't exactly fine dining and  you are not looking at 1 main to fill a person up either. However with the food they did produce, it was done exceptionally well. PS. the Phoenix Ginger Beer goes amazingly well with the ribs if you would like a non-alcoholic beverage.



  Third Wave on Urbanspoon

Sapore

Situated near the waterfront in St Kilda this place has a beautiful ambiance especially if you come here near sunset.

Having been awarded a chef hat by The Age good food guide, this was a place I anticipated on trying for a while. Specializing in Modern Italian, the menu was full of pastas and risottos.


As a starter I got the Oysters natural and Salt and Pepper Calamari. The Oysters were fresh and creamy. Salt and Pepper Calamari were nicely seasoned and fried just perfectly. They weren't over fried or oily which was nice to see for a change (far too many places serves calamari dripping in oil these days) served with aioli it was a good way to start the meal.


For mains I got the Waygu Ragu Pappardelle and the prime cut Steak. The pappardelle lacked the richness I like in a good pasta sauce but the flavors did work well. Personally I think it would have worked better with a thinner/smaller pasta. The actual pasta took the attention away from the sauce. However my partner liked the Ragu just the way it was, so I guess it really comes down to your preference in pasta sauce richness.


The Steak was nicely cooked but a tad disappointing. I still find the steak at Meat Wine & Co. and City Grill Room to be the winners of restaurants in this caliber. The wine jus and chips were good though. Personally the Bearnaise did nothing for me.


 There was also pork belly with baby carrots and a grain side. Nothing that blew my mind. The pork belly was cooked nicely but the flavours were very ordinary.





My friend ordered their signature dish, the Seafood Linguine and I got to try this. Of the 3 mains I tried this was my favourite and I can understand why it's their signature. The pasta was just al dente which was good to see and the seafood was a fresh selection. 

We also ordered a range of sides but nothing was outstanding. If you really had to pick a side to order I would recommend the roast pumpkin with feta and almond.

Overall 13/20 a disappointment overall. I fail to see where the chef hat comes in. For the price point that is pitched, I don’t rate this place at all. 

Sapore on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sushi Hotaru

Located upstairs in mid city arcade of Chinatown, you will find a huge line outside of this place if you come after 6pm on most nights. It's nothing fancy but sushi trains are always fun and a bit of novelty.

Most plates here are $3 with the exception of gold plates which are $6. On the train you will see a range of variety.


They do a range of gunkan. We tried the lobster one, it wasn't bad for the price.  The eel roll was also quite nice. If you like handrolls, you can order them off the ipad, we tried the soft shell crab handroll but it was pretty ordinary.


Adegashi tofu is another dish that needs to be ordered off the ipad. The sauce was a tad too sweet for my liking. The SCAMPI.... I don't know where to begin.... I can just sit there and eats plates and plates of this. Sadly there is only 1 on each plate. The meat is so soft and sweet. I never knew I could love eating scampi so much.






The onagiri selection is decent, the scallop and beef tataki is worth trying


If you like, you can also order takoyaki off their ipad. Takoyaki is always a favourite of mine, but this place has a rather average version of it. Besides the scampi the seared scallops had to be my favourite sushi of the night. The freshness and the just right seasoning made it awesome on the tastebuds. The 2 way salmon and scallop was also another sushi worth reaching for.

Finally the scampi roll was another one that had to be ordered. It was 'just nice' dish. I would pick the fresh scampi over this one. However for people who prefer cooked food, I would recommend this one. By the time it was dessert I was already full to the brim. Only managed to share a daifuku between the 2 of us.

Overall I think for the price point it's something I would recommend. I like the simplicity of the system. Between 2 people we spent $60 but we smashed down a lot of sushi. Worth trying, but is it an AMAZING Japanese restaurant and service? No, however I will still go back and will aim to get there before 6pm. 16/20


  Sushi Hotaru on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Little Ramen Bar

The name does not lie, this place is very little and it does serve ramen. For this very small venue it does have a rather cosy feeling and the ramen is pretty slurp worthy too.
I tried the Spicy Miso Ramen. This was served with a thick broth, minced meat, charsiu, vegetables and I added in beanshoots too. There was a very generous amount of noodles. I went with mild spiciness but I ended up adding in chilli oil and chilli powder for that extra kick. It was really good noodles and broth but in terms of ingredients I think a bit more pork would have been ideal

Also tried the charsiu tamago. My favourite part of any ramen is always the egg, it needs to be just runny in the yolk but the white firm and flavoured. This egg wasn't bad and passed the test for my liking. I added extra corn into this one. Again the broth was pretty awesome the noodles were just enough bounce. Out of the two ramen I tried I think I preferred this one, the soup was stronger flavoured and the seaweed and bamboo shoots gave it a bit more texture.

As a side we got the gyoza to share. The skin was thin and delicate which was good but sadly the filling was very VERY salty.....

Overall I would give it a 15/20. Pretty decent ramen and according to the boy it's a big thumbs up from him too!

  Little Ramen Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chef Lagenda

I was always told that this place was opened by the old chef from Laksa King. Back about a year ago when I visited them, I must say their laksa use to taste very very similar and almost equally as good as Laksa King. Now fast forward a year later and I try them again....


Whenever I head towards Flemington, it's normally because I have a laksa craving. So without a doubt.... laksa was one of the dishes we ordered. The combination laksa I got was not as creamy as I would like it to be and more spicy than I remember it. The overall flavour wasn't that bad but I think with it being next to Laksa King, it's hard not to compare and when I compare it, I would choose Laksa King.

We also got the roti canai with beef rendang. The roti could have been fluffier but I guess they are not a curry house or a place that specialises in roti. The curry was good but not exceptional or anything that would make me want to go back for more.

Finally there was also the belachan green veges and shrimp on rice. Personally I love belachan spinach, as it's a traditional Malaysian dish and that was what I asked for. They do either sambal spinach or belachan green vegetable. They also won't let me change it, which already started it off on the wrong foot. Anyway in the end I went with belachan green vege which was lady fingers and green beans. The belachan flavour was great but the lady fingers were a bit overcooked.


Overall I think it's not a bad Malaysian restaurant but just not good enough for me to want to visit again. 10/20


Chef Lagenda on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mamasita

Despite after being open for so long, this place still has a queue out the door on most nights. If you don't want cheap Mexican then Mamasita is a good place to try. You could say Mamasita was one of the original restaurants that started a wave of Mexican restaurants in Melbourne. Unlike your Taco Bill, Mamasita is more refined Mexican food and I guess you can call it 'more hip'.

To start we got the corn chips with salsa and gucamole and a serve of corn each. The corn chips were homemade and served with fresh gucamole and tangy salsa, it was actually a lot better than I expected/remembered.

The corn, where do I begin.....? In my eyes, it's the best corn I've ever had. It's juicy, creamy, tasty and best of all the chipotle makes it amazeballs! With a generous squeeze of lime, before you bite into it, it's like flavour delight in your mouth. 

For the tostaditas, we went with de pollo (chicken). Served on small corn chips with shredded chicken, cabbage, avocado and chipotle mayo. It was a great way to get you salivating and wanting more.

With the tacos, they are with a soft shell. I got the fish and prawn taco. Both had beautiful texture in the meat and was cooked just right. The fish and prawn both maintained it's juices and flavours which complimented the salsa and really well.

For the Ceviche, we got the market fish with green tomato, lime, chilli and coconut milk. When we got it, we were a bit surprised, it was not what we thought it was. However it was a pleasent surprise, the fish is served in at coconut milk in a glass and you a eat with corn chips. I found this concept quite interesting. With the creaminess of the coconut milk, crispy crunch from the corn chips and because it's served cold the fish maintains it's freshness. I really liked it. 

Sharing mains we got the pork belly, grilled prawns and the chicken. Out of all the mains, my favourite was the grilled prawns, the creamy  almond sauce with the toasted garlic was just devine. 

The black mole chicken was also cooked perfectly  the chicken maintaining it's juciness but overall this dish was a tad disappointing. I don't know what I was expecting but I was hoping for something more exciting. 

The braised pork belly was also another good dish. You can taste all the flavours infused into the pork belly. 

To balance out all the fattiness from the pork belly and creamy almond sauce, we got the quinoa salad and potatoes on the side. The quinoa salad is a good fresh hit to balance out the meal. The corn adds a bit of sweetness into it.

For drinks I would recommend you all to try the Sangria. One of the few Sangria where you can no longer taste the cheap wine and the fruits make it quite delicious.

Dessert, the sweetcorn ice cream with caramel popcorn is a winner. Smooth ice cream with sticky caramel. The chilli chocolate would be more for people with an acquired taste for chilli chocolate. The flourless chocolate cake is very rich, so I would recommend you share with someone.

Overall I would say it's a 17.5/20. I can understand the queues outside and I'm impressed with their consistency in their food.

Mamasita on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 2, 2013

Melbourne Noodle Night Market Part 2 - Mamak, Paperboy Kitchen, Messina

Paperboy Kitchen


As previously mentioned I went over 2 nights. 

Paperboy Kitchen was one that I really wanted to try. I saw the massive queue on the first night and they actually ran out of food at 7.30. They offered Vietnamese Bun (pronounced "boon") with BBQ chicken, miso salmon and a vegetarian option.

I tried the BBQ chicken and the miso salmon. Both has lettuce, carrots, mint leaves and coriander as a base with fish sauce dressing. The serving sizes were a bit small for $10, if I had gone to Indochine or any of the shops on Victoria Street it would easily be double the size. The BBQ chicken was very average and the chicken was cooked nicely, not overcooked but just right. Nice and tender.

For me I preferred the miso salmon, I found it really tasty and you could really taste the miso infused flavour. The fish was cooked so it just crumbled nicely when you eat it.



Mamak



Mamak was one of those stalls that the queue was so massive, it almost looked like the whole place was just one big Mamak queue. They didn't disappoint though, they made their roti fresh at the market and it was actually done in front of you. We got the mee goreng and roti canai. Both were delicious. The roti was nice and fluffy and the curry was just right for me (I don't like it when they are overly spicy), it was just enough for a bit of fire that made you reach for a drink but nothing that was hard to put out.
The Mee goreng was small for $14 a serve, but the rusty wok flavour evident made it worth the wait (again when I say this, I am compairing this to everything else at the market and not general outside, at their actual resturants). I felt that this was actually more flavorsome than the actual store. The noodles weren't soggy and good with a bit of bounce. There was just enough balance and portions of ingredients such as fish cake, egg, bean spout. Quite yummy, made me keep going back for more. 
 We also got satays from Mamak, but they were nothing to rave about.
Mamak on Urbanspoon


Messina

Messina, is not exactly "noodle" but they were also present at the market. I got to try their En-Thai-Sing and Haro Haro. En Thai Sing was pandan coconut sorbet with sticky rice, mango pieces and coconut milk. This was like a party on my taste buds. The sorbet was velvety smooth and fragrant with pandan and coconut (reminded me of the coconut jelly, you can get at yum cha). The sticky rice and mango gave it texture so it was more than 'just a sundae'. Loved it!
Haro Haro was with coconut sorbet, fresh mango, rambutan jelly, jackfruit cream and condensed milk. Again the sorbet was velvety smooth. The jackfruit cream was an interesting concept, although I didn't like the texture, I really liked the flavour. Mango bits are always a winner too. Now I can't wait to try their actual store and blog about it!

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon


Overall I have to say my highlight of the night was the En-Thai-Sing Sundae from Messina and the Roti at Mamak.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Melbourne Noodle Night Market Part 1 - Wonderbao & Izakaya Den

So for those of you who don't know, Citibank is currently running Good Food Month in Melbourne. Part of it includes a night food market, hosted at the Alexandra Gardens. In October they also had this in Sydney and proved to be a big success and judging from the crowds in Melbourne, think it's even bigger here.

They have a range of stalls including Messina, Chin Chin, Longrain, Izakaya and the list goes on. So for many foodies in Melbourne this is a pretty good mix of a lot of current popular and a few upcoming resturants. My review will be split into 2 parts as I visited over 2 different nights


Wonderbao

On the opening night I went and amongst the crazy lines and queues I got my hands on Wonderbao. They did 3 combos with their traditional baos, the open baos and a combination of both open and traditional baos. 
I got 2 combos that included the Cumin Chicken open bao, Silky Tofu open bao, char Siu bao, custard bao, choi bao and chicken bao. I've been to Wonderbao before so I kind of already knew what to expect (with the exception of the line). 

Their open bao were the hit for me. Cumin chicken has a nice flavour to it balanced with the slaw and the sweetness of the bun. The silky tofu had a rather different texture to your usual steamed buns, loved the crushed peanuts in it.

The traditional wonders were very disappointing. The bun to filling ratio was very poor, it felt like all I kept eating was a lot of bun and no filling. This was especially the case for the char siu bao. The choi bao was very bland as well. The custard was nice with the gooey filling but the wait for it, made it not worth while.

There is something I really have to mention, I noticed that they put their price up since day 1 of the market. On the first day when I went, the traditional buns were $3.50. Last night when I went, they were $4.00. That's more than a 10% mark up in the space of 1 week. I found that did not sit well with me at all. Considering normally when you visit their store it is only $2.20 per bun. The service element would not be present and I understand you would pay a premium at a food festival but at that mark up.... it doesn't feel very fair. It definitely deterred me from going back on the second day and will make me think twice before visiting their store again. If you look my picture closely, you will see the price of the combaos on day 1.

Overall the baos were not spectacular to a point I would justify a revisit at the price they are charging.
Wonderbao on Urbanspoon






Izakaya Den

The Izakaya Den line was one of the longest lines of the night, but their fried chicken was well worth the wait! With the wasabi mayo, it was the highlight of the night!!

Izakaya also did their take on a hot dog. It was a decent hot dog, but nothing to rave about and if anything, it was too small.

Overall, Izakaya's fried chicken made me not notice the hot dog disappointment as much. I would still prefer to dine at their restaurant any day over visiting them again at their stall. The wait is just too long.










  Izakaya Den on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hammer and Tong

Based on Brunswick street but entrance on a side street. It is exactly what you expect for an urban, breakfast/brunch joint. Off the main street, hipster vibe and nosy atmosphere.

There has been quite a bit of hype on their soft shell crab burger so being here.... I could not walk out without trying it. I love softshell crab and being very fond of burgers there was no reason for me to say no. It comes simply as a burger on a plate, no frills, no chips, nothing. The deep fried soft shell crab served on a brioche bun, with cabbage slaw, coriander and sweet mayo. I have to say the burger was good, but for $16 a serve with nothing on the side, I won't be coming back for this. The flavours worked very well together and unlike many other burger places, the brioche was not overly sweet, and just the right softness. The cabbage slaw, with the crunch sliced though the oily-ness factor of the crab beautifully.

Even though it has been coined as the best crab slider of Melbourne, $16 is too steep. The burger wasn't overly large and after a whole burger, I was still hungry. I just think if I'm paying $16 for a burger, I should at least be left satisfied, if not full.

Avocado and feta mash as a side dish. It is exactly what the name suggest, just avocado and feta (ok so a little bit of lemon juice too).

Corn and zucchini fritters with avocado, spinach, poached egg and sweet chilli jam. It was a nice combination of breakfast favourites with a few different additions such as the chilli jam and zucchini. However there was nothing that really made this dish stand out. It was a pleasant meal and I did enjoy it, but nothing out of the ordinary.

They served decent coffee here too, as you would expect for a brunch spot.

Overall 13.5/20. Decent food but nothing exceptional. If they worked on their pricing or portion size a bit, that would make it more enticing for me to revisit.



Hammer and Tong on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 18, 2013

Adriano Zumbo Parisserie

If you have ever watched Masterchef, you would be familiar with the name Adriano Zumbo. He is famous for quirky desserts and making rather out of the ordinary flavoured macaroons and cakes.

At his recently opened patisserie in South Yarra, you won't expect anything different.

The macaroon flavours on offer changes on a regular basis. The flavours I got over the few times I visited included: pandan sticky rice pudding, apple pie, blueberry pancake, buttered popcorn, brownie, pineapple, salted butter caramel on toast, passion fruit. 

For me, I found this place decently priced for macaroons at $2.50 a pop. Most other bakeries are over $3.00 now and their flavours are ordinary. Of the flavours I did try, I loved the blueberry pancake and pandan rice pudding. I found them not too sweet and a good representation of the flavours they set out to portray. I will definitely be going back to try more of their different flavours.


With the cakes, I tried the flourless orange cake and it found it quite interesting. There was a range of texture with a distinct orange flavour. Some may argue it's not really cake as the cake component was very small, however I still found it a beautiful dessert. I think

The pastries were also a delight, I went early in the morning. They were fluffy, buttery goodness!

I know others have said it's over-hyped, but personally I think it's good value for what i am paying, given the time taken to produce the piece. The flavours change regularly so, you won't get bored of the same thing. One I do need to mention is, they could really do with some work on their coffee making skills...

If anybody tried any of the cakes they loved, please drop me a comment below. I would love to know what people tend to favour. I am yet to try all flavours.


  Adriano Zumbo Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Little Creatures Dining Hall



End of the week on a Friday, so I needed a place to kick back, unwind and enjoy some good food and company. Located on Brunswick street, it is a large dining hall with plenty of seats. When you walk in, you can immediately feel that warehouse, rustic feel with busy kitchen sounds and hipster waiters.

If you are a beer drinker, you are in luck! Cheap pots and for those non-beer drinkers, the ginger beer is pretty damn good too.

We got a few things to share starting with the chips with aioli, the chilli mussels and lamb ribs. You can tell the chips are fresh cut with their inconsistent sizing, and yes they were fluffy potato goodness. 

The chilli mussels were delish! You should ask for extra bread to soak up the sauce afterwards. Lamb ribs were cooked so that the meat fell off the bone. Not a bad beer companion.

Next up we got the prawn and chrizo pizza. The prawn pizza was served with capsicum, pancetta and salsa verde. This was a good pizza that remind me why I prefer to go gourmet pizza these days and not waste calories on chain stores (normally the type that offer home delivery). The chrizo with sweet corn and fetta was a funky combo that had the sweetness of the corn to balance the saltiness of the chrizo and fetta. I personally liked it but the boy hates fetta so it may be a divided opinion on this one.

Lastly there was the cheese and bacon croquettes and beetroot salad. The croquette did nothing for me, very average. The salad was a nice flavour combination.

Overall this place satisfied what I was after (a good Friday night hangout with decent food and drinks). Worth checking out next weekend if you are in the area 13.5/20.






  Little Creatures Dining Hall on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Moroccan Soup Bar

This place has been around for awhile and a lot of locals are familiar with this place. There is no menus here, it works as $25 per head banquet. The food is all vegan so don't come here expecting meat. As the name of the place suggest, the theme here is Moroccan.

The banquet starts with a range of dips and small plates to nibble on. Hommus, Baba Ganush, Felafel. Lots of flavour all round and flat bread helped us down a lot of that dip.

Mains were lentils with yoghurt and rice; chickpea bake; haloumi eggplant and potato curry  with rice. 

The hero dish had to be the chickpea bake. The creaminess of the chickpea once it was with the yoghurt then the crunchy layer of corn chips. I can see this dish alone, getting a lot of repeat customers.

The eggplant was also a plate I kept going back to.

By the time we got to dessert, we were really full already. Dessert was a custard and a assortment of pastries and doughnut. Personally I found the dessert too sweet for my liking

If you are to try this place out, I recommend you bring a big take away box to for take away at the end. For $25 you get a lot of food and with plenty at the end. Also, arrive on time, otherwise you will not get enough time to get through everything.


  Overall I think it's fantastic value and a great place for both vegans and non vegans. 

  Moroccan Soup Bar on Urbanspoon