..... Enjoying life, one bite and plane ride at a time

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


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

Monday, November 4, 2013

Chef's Gallery

A weekend in Sydney generally equates to a weekend of eating for me. =)

Ventured to Chef's Gallery for a yum cha lunch. We got the special which gave us quite a few selections and most importantly, they had the piggy bun!

To start off we got the chicken pumpkin soup with tofu and glass noodle. This was an interesting soup for me as I've never had Chinese styled pumpkin soup before. It was a lot lighter than your typical pumpkin soup, laced with chicken broth flavours. Together with the spinach tofu and glass noodles, I quite enjoyed it. There was also Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce that comes standard with the lunch special. Nothing much to say about it, except I can easily munch through a plate (but then again, I do love my Chinese broccoli).

As part of the special we got prawn dumplings, siu mai, calamari won ton, watercress chicken dumpling, fried radish cake, gluttonous rice dumpling. The prawn dumplings were quite juicy and  just enough bite.  The siu main and watercress dumpling was a tad average.  The Calamari won tons were different from your typical fried won ton you get at yum cha, with the calamari inside, there was more bite and made the filling texture more "bouncy". 

Normally when I get radish cake, it's fried and not deep fried. I still prefer the usual fried radish cak,e but I will also happily eat through a plate of their deep fried radish cake when presented in front of me.

Just to be greedy, we also ordered the pork floss roti and the spinach tofu as well. Personally I really like the pork floss roti, but my friend and BF said it was a tad dry. The spinach tofu is suppose to be one of their signature dishes but I just found it disappointing. I prefer a silky tofu, so it didn't really do anything for me.

As desert there was the piggy bun and sweet tofu. The piggy bun had the best sesame filling! It was oozing and not too sweet! The sweet tofu was too sweet for my liking and the tofu wasn't silky enough. 

Overall I don't mind this place as a yum cha meeting point. It is better than most Asian restaurants

 in Australia and I like their style and flare. 14/20

Chefs Gallery on Urbanspoon
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