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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lucy Liu

When it's O's birthday it's my duty as good friend/bad influence/study buddy/MOH/car pool leecher to take her out for a nice dinner with cocktails and wine. So when I gave her the option of where she wanted to go, she picked Lucy Liu. This is new in town and comes from the the people behind Taxi, The Smith and Circa. It is a modern Asian fusion restaurants that mixes up flavours from Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, China (just to name a few). With the entrance located on Oliver Lane, this is typical Melbourne styled eatery. It is off an alleyway with loud music, cool hipster waiters and a perfect atmosphere to catch up with friends.

To celebrate O getting older we got some cocktails to start with. Lucy Lui had a wide selection to pick from. I picked one with a ginger beer base and O got something sweet too.

We actually had difficulty choosing, there was a lot on the menu and it all looked interesting, it was only after a full 10 minutes were we able to narrow down and finally put our order in.

To start we got the kingfish sashimi. This has fresh pieces of Kingfish served with green chilli, toasted coconut and mint. I loved the creamed coconut milk and the citris base it came in. Along with the chilli, it has a beautiful way of enhancing the taste of the Kingfish while have a play with the combination of sweet, fresh, spicy and sour. I loved this dish, it is something I would definitely order again.

Next was the rare breed sticky pork belly. This came with 2 squares of fatty pork belly that was caramelised. The meat was tender and the skin still had the sticky bite to it. It was balanced out with a salad of coconut meat, coriander, chilli and mint leaves.

Then came the barramundi and scampi dumplings. This is a play on the classic chilli won tons that you see in most Shanghainese dumplings stores. The barramundi and scampi was wrapped in won ton skins and served in a chilli, ginger sauce. I loved the sauce but I think it overpowered the barramundi and scampi.

For the plates we picked the sake cured ocean trout. When we ordered this, we imagined it to be similar to the kingfish sashimi but to our surprise it was more a soba salad. It came tossed and piled with apple, raddish, pickled ginger, mint/basil leaves and black sesame. I found the taste to be refreshing and yet tantalizing. I would happily eat a large serving of this for lunch if they Lucy Lui was closer to my office!

Then it finally came time for the larger plate, we opted for the waygu and 2 sides. The waygu was medium cooked with a nice pink centre. It was was served with a light yakiniku (Japanese bbq) sauce and horseradish. I found the beef perfect with the yakiniku alone and didn't really need the horseradish but O liked it with, so it really came down to how much you like horseradish. The meat was tender and the waygu flavour was just perfect.

We didn't really need the sides but we got it anyway (and finished everything). O picked the green beans and musuna salad because she was intrigued by the idea of tofu dressing. This was a light sweet soy like dressing laced through the beans and ginger. I would reccomend this for anyone looking for a very light side.

I love my Asian greens so that was the go to for me. I found this a good pairing with the beef and jasmin rice. Guess you can't really go wrong with oyster sauce, chilli and ginger on Chinese broccoli.

I don't why we got dessert because we were on the verge of a food coma already. We got the Lucy's Knickerbocker Glory to share. This had lychee, lychee sorbet, honeycomb, cream and berry compote in it. The taste was good but it was missing something solid like a cake or biscuit base. It reads to be interesting on the menu but it failed to hit the mark for me.

Overall 16/20 I found Lucy Lui to be a nice surprise, I semi expected it to be yet another Asian Fusion restaurants with the typical menu offering. I walked out loving the place, our waitress was very attentive and put up with all the questions we had about the menu. I think it's a place worth trying and the best thing is, they take reservations, so you don't need to worry about lining up for over an hour to get a table.

Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 24, 2015

Oppa Kitchen

When I was in NJ, I remember scrolling on instagram and seeing these very interesting Korean dishes serves in wooden bucket bowls and then over the next few days, it popped up a few more times. Being depraved of Korean food and stuck in the cold, those photos made me salivate and I was determined to try this place once I was back in Melbourne. Lucky for me Miss P loves Korean food and when I told R and K about it, they were also interested to try. So Mario, K, R, Miss P, Bear and I set out to a Korean adventure. Oppa is located on Swanston Street so it was easy to find.

We got there around 7.30pm and had to wait for a table for 6, we were told a 15 minute wait, which we didn't mind so we waited. After 20 minutes they called our table and we went upstairs, only to find they had given us a 4 +2 table (on different ends of the room) which was not we wanted, and much to our annoyance we were told in order to sit together we had to wait further  20- 30 minutes. At this point was I fuming already, they have been giving away 2 people and 4 people tables to people who put their name down after us. In the end we had to wait a further 15 minutes before we got a table where we could sit together.

The menu wasn't designed to be shared but it doesn't really stop us. We got fried chicken to share and some small plates to start. We got the boneless original, honey soy and sweet and spicy KFC. The KFC were served with a side of Korean coleslaw and came with pickled cucumber, potato wedges and fried rice cakes. The original KFC was just fried chicken and more on the bland side. It was fried well but it needed more seasoning. 

The sweet and spicy KFC was a typical sweet chilli sauce. I liked this sauce with the fried rice cake. I liked this better than the original KFC as it packed a small kick with the spice level.

The honey soy was the most interesting KFC out of the lot, this was purely due to the fact it was the most saucy KFC. 

There was also gyoza and doppoki. Nothing to comment here, both was average, as you would expect from a Korean fast food restaurant.

Meal buckets was what we came for so we got a few to share so we could try more things. The first meal bucket was the pork belly. Miss P picked this one and it wasn't a bad choice. The grilled pork belly was tender and came well marinated. 

K picked beef bulgogi, this is a classic in Korean food and generally a favourite on the table. Oppa Kitchen's beef bulgogi had the same classic taste but the beef was slightly overcooked and dry. We found that there wasn't quite enough meat to go with the rice either.

I picked the Korean beef meal bucket, this came with sliced beef which was served in a sweet barbecue marinate. Personally I like this the best out of all the meal buckets, the meat was tender and the sauce was just right.

Overall 12/20 I think this place has a novelty appeal with the bucket rice presentation, but overall I think the food is more target to be a fast food place. I think it make good student meals and a good after uni feed.  Taking into account the wait time and service, I don't think it would be a place that I would specifically visit again. Would I visit if I was in the area and there was no wait? YES. Would I specifically go there? Maybe not

Oppa Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Shira Nui

On a late Saturday evening , D and I decided on an impromptu date night. We were both tired from all the cleaning and house moving so I decided to call and try my luck at Shira Nui. It must have been our lucky day because the restaurant was fully booked but they had 2 no shows at the bar so we snapped it up and were out the door driving there within the next 30 seconds.

Getting a seat at the bar meant we were restricted to the omakase and nothing from their a la carte menu, but that didn't bother us as it was what we wanted to order anyway. The communication that you will get from the sushi chef is generally very simple as well; either to eat the sushi with or without soy sauce.

First up was duckfish nigiri, this was a lovely white fatty fish with a delicate taste. With a bit of wasabi and soy it was a great way to start the set.

Second was pan fried salmon. This is a personal favourite of mine when we go for sushi, I love the teriyaki sauce on a piece of just seared salmon.  The sauce highlights the natural sweetness in the fish once cooked lightly.

Third was mackeral with seaweed. The sheet of seaweed around the fish was a sweet seaweed and acted to balance out the strong mackeral taste. The shimichi and spring onion within the wrapping added a heightened taste but personally I think the spring onion spoiled it with the strong aroma.

Fourth was yakiniku beef. This is nothing out of the ordinary but a classic goodie with the beef cooked medium rare. I loved the sweet chilli daikon jam on top of it.

Fifth was a fresh arkshell clam nigiri, this has a very bland taste on it's own and is more of a texture fish. This one definitely had to be eaten with soy!

Sixth was the seared tuna belly steak with chili daikon jam. I am normally not a big fan of tuna, but the chilli daikon with the shimichi was the perfect balance. It was more on the sweet side but that suited me just fine.

Seventh was the miso ocean trout belly. The sweet miso was infused into the flesh of the fish making every bite full of a miso flavoured burst.

Eighth was miso kingfish. Kingfish is my favourite fish when it comes to fresh Japanese fish related cuisines. I am generally skeptical of people adding too much to this fish as I find it just takes away from the natural flavours of the fish. However this time I was surprised as the miso with Kingfish was nicer than I had imagined in my head but I think the sugar content in the miso did slightly hardened the texture of the fish.

Ninth was an oyster mornay ikura (official last piece if you don't choose to continue). This was flamed in the kitchen unlike many of the other seared fishes. A big pocket of creaminess on rice. I would prefer the oyster to be slightly less damp but that is nothing major that would stop me from liking it.

Being the pig that I am, I chose to add 2 more to our omakase. The tenth was a salmon belly torched to give it a scrumptious, seared finished. With a bit of soy, it was a good salmon nigiri in my opinion.

Final nigiri for the night was the sea eel. This was a large piece of eel, lightly grilled with a soft drizzle of sweet soy on a tiny bed of rice.

To finish off we were given a fruity granita as a pallet cleanser.

Overall 17/20 I find that Shira Nui does well in what it aims to specialise in. The sushi plated up is fresh and the technique used is commendable. It is a classic styled omakase so it doesn't pretend to be fancy and add fusion in selection. It doesn't compare to the freshness you would get at eating in the fish markets in Japan but that is understandable. This place is an institution for a reason.

Shira Nui on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Tavola - Bondi

When in Sydney with J, one thing is always a must and that is eating somewhere nice. Since we were around the Bondi area during the day, A Tavola was only a short car ride away. It is a beautiful cosy restaurant located on Hall Street in Bondi.

Once we sat down our waiter was attentive and went through the menu with me, dish by dish and then went on to understand what drinks I like before he made a recommendation. Then was quick to serve us their house made focaccia while we waited.

J and I were both hungry so we decided on entrees, main and side to share.

The first entree was culatello with melons and rocket. I loved the saltiness in the cured meat balanced with the sweetness of the melons and the slight bitterness in the rocket

Second entree was squid ink scallops. This was served with cucumber, apple and witlof. It was light starter and a creative play on different textures and flavours

As my main I was feeling quite famished when I was ordering so I choose a heavier pasta. I got the pappadelle ragu. This was done with waygu beef shin, red wine, tomato and horseraddish. The sauce was hearty and the fresh pasta gave the perfect amount of bite.

J got the seafood pasta. it came with a generous amounts of mussel, pipis, fish, prawns and calamari. It was served on a tomato base sauce. The produce was fresh and each mouthful, reminded you of the beach.

To balance out, we got a side salad of red cabbage . It came with raisins, walnuts and dressed in balsamic. It was a very generous serve so I would recommend people to share. It was a fresh crisp salad. Perfect to go with all the carbs.

We didn't get dessert, because we had initially planned to get some gelato from Messina next door, but we finished dinner too late and never got there.

Over 17/20 I really enjoyed the food here. It does a beautiful refined Italian experience. All dishes I tried had great harmonized flavour and it's a place I would visit again, next time I'm in Bondi.

A Tavola on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


In my typical weekend style, D and I went on our usual routine and looked for a new brunch place to try. This time I spent my Sunday at Hobba, a new brunch location on Malvern Rd near Hawksburn. It is a refurbished warehouse situated in the local shopping strip.

We got here after 2 and the place was still bursting with people, we had a short wait of 15 minutes before we were seated. The host was friendly and showed us to the table and made sure our coffee orders were in straight away.

We each got our usual, soy latte for me and skinny latte for D. The coffees were quick to serve and hit the spot. I liked how the used 5 sense coffee beans.

When it came to food, D had a lot of difficulty choosing. He wanted the big bad wolf, espanola and the hobba burger but sadly only space for one of those. In the end he went with the big bad wolf and as the name suggests, it was very big. This came with 2 fried eggs, bacon, kale, hash brown, home made beans, black pudding, tomatoes and mushrooms on toast. There was a lot on the plate and perfect for any hungry man or lady. The house made beans and the black pudding were my favourite element on the plate but i found it a shame, that they forgot to serve the black pudding and it wasn't until we were half way through that we realised it was missing and asked for it.

My decision was very easy, I walked in feeling like hotcakes and that was exactly what I ordered. The hotcakes came with berries, mascarpone, honeycomb and maple syrup. The hotcakes had a cripsy edge and were on the heavy side. I found it difficult to finish as I was full after the first hotcake, I would have prefer the hotcake to be more fluffy as well. I definitely walked out with a food baby after this

Overall 15/20 I like their atmosphere and there was a lot of variety on the menu. This is a place I would come back when I'm in the area or wanting a chilled place to brunch with my friends on the weekend.

Hobba on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 17, 2015

Momofuku Ma Peache & Milk Bar

So what does one do, when she is tired, hungry, and alone in New York for 2 nights? She will brave the snow and find her way to Momofuku Milk Bar but then be convinced to stay and eat at Ma Peache! So yes, that basically sums up how I ended up here alone.

I was in NY just for the weekend and dying to get my hands on the Milk Bar cookies so I hit up the Momofuku Milkbar 56th Street. When I got there I was delighted to be greeted by all these cookie choices. It's not often that I come to NY, so I decided to buy one of every cookie to try and enjoy over the next few days.

As I approach to pay, it only just hit me, behind milkbar was Ma Peache. It was 9.30pm on a Friday night and I had no booking so I didn't expect to get a seat but I thought I would try my luck. Fortunately, it worked in my favour that I open my mouth to ask because there was a seat available at the bar. I had worked on average of 12 hours plus for the whole week so I thought "what the hell, YOLO!" and that's how I ended up devouring the following.

To start, I got the chopped salad, this was a twist on the American classic with crab, smoked egg and bleu cheese. It might have been called a starter but it was massive.

Next was the cod fritters which was made using bacalao, chilli and marjoram. This was a little ball of flavour that would explode in your mouth. It was more on the salty side but the more bites you take, the more you get use to it and want more.

The waitress warned me that I didn't need anything else but I insisted on getting the lobster rice as well. This was served in a bamboo holder wrapped in a banana leaf. I was glad I didn't listen to her because this was my favourite dish of the night. I love the intense flavour in the rice. The butter and sesame throughout the rice was heaven. I was so full I couldn't finish it, but I couldn't let it go to waste. I ended up taking away what I couldn't finish and it was still delicious 4 hours later when it was cold and I was back in my hotel room.

For dessert, there was no way I could pass up an opportunity to have the cereal milk soft serve. It was a milky, creamy texture with intense flavours of cornflakes throughout the body of the soft serve and traces of grainy cereal. I loved the crunchy cereal bits on the side and the bottom of the cup. If only I lived closer to this place or they offered it in Australia. I would definitely be a loyal fan.

Overall 17/20 that lobster rice made my trip and together with that soft serve, I can fully appreciate why people rave on about Momofuku in New York. My previous trip to Momofuku Seiobo in Sydney was slightly disappointing but this meal made up for it.

Má Pêche on Urbanspoon Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon
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