Sushi Hotaru / CBD
I think Sushi train is an incredible invention, a fun and clever way of dining. Back in Christchurch, I had a favourite sushi-train, and I may have just found my Melbourne favourite – Sushi Hotaru.
If you search through the Red Silks arcade, you will find Sushi Hotaru hiding away in the corner like the shy kid at school. Once discovered, you will realise that this little sushi bar is far from shy.
There was a bit of a queue when we arrived, but the sushi looked too good to go anywhere else. Around 30 minutes later we finally snatched up a seat. The ambience was busy, fun and vibrant.
All dishes were very affordable at approximatley $3 a plate. They had a good selection on the “train” but for those impatient types, they also had a state of the art iPad menu where you could select made to order dishes without hailing down a waiter. My thought was – every Asian restaurant needs one of these!
The fish quality here seems to be a bit dull compared to my homeland, New Zealand. The salmon nigiri was so-so, but bearable with enough soy sauce and wasabi.
The Japanese have seemed to have mastered seaweed like the British have mastered potatoes. This seaweed salad wrapped in seaweed was delicious.
My favourite dish was the tataki beef nigiri. The beef was cooked beautifully – tender and moist.
Sushi Hotatu’s tako yaki/octopus balls are very delicious, and I love it when the katsuobushi (fish flakes) makes the dish look like it’s alive.
Some of the dishes and fishes were kind of obscure. I didn’t know what half the stuff on the train was, but that’s what makes it so exciting.
We also ordered some ramen off the iPad menu, it was great because it’s a much more affordable way of lining the stomach rather.
When I said the beef tataki was my favourite dish, I was lying. The Scampi supersedes all the sushi plates with its mesmerising features. The flesh was tender, silky, and melted right in the mouth.
The mounting dishes by the end of the meal demonstrated the immense satisfaction that was endured.
View ForkSake in a larger map
Overall, it was a tasty and affordable start to the evening. The bill revealed itself at approximately $20 a head, just enough in the budget for dessert. The black sesame and green tea ice cream here looked beautiful for dessert, but perhaps we’ll save that for next time. (We went somewhere else for dessert, find out in my next blog post!)
Shop 118 200
Bourke St Melbourne, VIC
Brother Burger / Fitzroy
Nick and I were walking down the street in search for a ‘quick and easy’ dinner one night. Nick’s suggestion was getting something from the IGA (Perhaps a bag of potato chips.) I swiftly refused, fulfilled my food blogger duties and found the closest hot spot — a hip burger joint called Brother Burger & the Marvellous Brew.
Brother Burger fit’s perfectly on Brunswick Street. Like other places in the surrounding area, Brother Burger has vintage furniture, neat simplistic design, an affordable menu, and the magnetic attraction towards hipsters.
I wouldn’t call myself a ‘hipster,’ that’s just a made up word. But if we are going to be stereotyping; basically anyone in their 20’s—30’s living in Melbourne is a hipster. I would say it’s a tactical move to open up a trendy burger bar for these creatures, and by the looks of it, it’s working well. Brother Burger was busy, lively and full of Friday evening joy (AKA drunk people.)
I love the set up of Brother Burger, it is like an old-school fish and chippery meets American diner. The vintage swivel chairs, the long bench, open kitchen and the casual atmosphere threw us back to the 90’s a bit.
The glowing hamburger sign stood out, especially because the rest of the venue was super dark and dim. I could hardly take any photo’s in focus because it was so dark! (Food blogger problems.)
I don’t see the point in thick cut fries (Especially when my friends say they are ‘healthier.’) I had a huge sigh of relief when they came out and were skinny. They were delicious, crunchy and salty. Perfect for absorbing any excessive alcohol consumption.
They have reasonably priced burgers at around $12—$15. The wagyu beef pattie is succulent soft and flavoursome. The burger we ordered had a good amount of sauce and a soft sweet brioche bun.
We also ordered the pulled lamb burger from the ‘specials’ chalkboard. The slow cooked lamb was soft, moist and falling apart beautifully. I dripped a fair amount of burger juice whilst eating.
View ForkSake in a larger map
Overall, Brother Burger is a great place to chill, relax and have a good time. I loved the casual environment and the absence of pretentiousness. The burgers were tasty and the bun to pattie ratio was perfect. Don’t expect celebrity chefs or attention to detail. Expect tasty burgers and a marvellous brew.
413 Brunswick Street
Chez Dré / South Melbourne
I’ve walked past Chez Dré a few times, gazing at the beautiful gold signage from my favourite pub next door. I’ve been meaning to blog about this place for a while, because it’s listed number 3 on Urbanspoons’ ‘talk of the town’ list.
They have two entrances off Coventry St in South Melbourne, I prefer the narrow laneway closer to Cecil Street because it is so much more mysterious & exciting when you’re walking through a dead-end Melbourne alleyway.
Being listed as one of Melbourne’s hotspots, you’re chances of getting a table without waiting is slim to nothing. We only had to wait 10 minutes. Their inside seating is simple and modern, they have booths which are intimate, a main area with a vibrant communal table, and also an outdoor courtyard (the other entrance) which is lovely on a sunny day. Overall this place has a very nice modern-sheek-french vibe to it.
There are a lot of hard workers in the kitchen. I would know because I was one of them. For one day. I didn’t do very well, managed to chop my finger within the first 5 minutes as a kitchen hand. You gotta be quick and sharp in the kitchen, looks like the knife was quicker and sharper than me that day.
They have an all day breakfast menu with some great dishes. I got a feel of what the best dishes were after working here. I would recommend the duck sandwich, grand petit dejeuner, and the cured salmon, but remember to save room for dessert.
When I first ate here, I got the wild field mushrooms on toast. I felt like I was trapped in a mushroom forest, with no way to escape but to eat my way through. The mushrooms were seasoned nicely, though goats cheese and sourdough was not enough to save me from feeling like I was buried with mushrooms.
My bestie Andrew got poached eggs on toast with a side of salmon - delicious and simple. The kitchen do a great job of poaching the eggs so that the egg whites are fluffy and cloudy without compromising the yolkporn goodness.
Nick got a delicious but simple looking chicken baguette. Sometimes I think Nick orders dishes with rocket just so I don’t eat his food.
The second visit to Chez Dré, I got the cured salmon with soft boiled egg, goats cheese, dill & sourdough croutons. The dish was smaller/lighter than expected, but it was amazing.
Delicious delicate flavours all combining beautifully in the mouth. It had everything I wanted, freshness, lightness, flavour, crunch. It only left me wanting more.
Nicholas my manly man got the Ploughmans lunch. Take a deep breath because the list is long. Baguette bread with smoked ham, salami, gruyére, brie, cornichons, mustard, pickles, beetroot salad, savoury tart, and a macaron.
This dish was a ‘take your time’ kind of lunch. I don’t know how Nick did it, I mean he had to decide what to have first and then do the manual labour of applying it onto the bread. I’m joking of course but I did feel like I was about to devour my meal before he could finish a piece of cheese. Lucky I got to help him out. Ploughman’s lunch – simple and cute, but i’m not sure it was worth the $25.50
Chez Dré is also create amazing house-made french style sweets. If you have the slightest sweet tooth, you will not, and should not be able to leave without trying some of these cakes.
The lemon meringue tart had a deliciously zesty filling with a balanced sweetness with a nice crunchy pastry.
Salted caramel eclair. This was luscious, soft and melted in my mouth. I just thought it was a tad buttery/creamy which took away the richer salted caramel flavour I was expecting.
They also do some freaking great flavours of macrons and other treats you can take home for afternoon tea or a cheeky pick-me-up. I was craving the caramel dome but they sold out.
Verdict: The food is fairly expensive overall but some of those dishes are definitely worth the money. I was not blown away, but perhaps I was expecting too much from all the raving reviews. Enjoyed my time here as a customer, but not so much as a kitchen hand, but hey, my finger is all healed now.
View ForkSake in a larger map
287 Coventry St (rear)
The Market Kitchen / South Melbourne
I saw some construction work happening down Clarendon Street the other day and was excited when I figured out a sheek new café was about to open. A few days later, The Market Kitchen was born, a new vibrant café to excite the area.
The idea is simple, the kitchen sources their ingredients from the South Melbourne Market and cook up a storm. Hence the name, The Market Kitchen! It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense though, as they are situated a fair distance from the South Melbourne Market. It seems a lot of local kitchens shop at the market so the idea isn’t 100% original. Perhaps they have another meaning behind the name.
Unoriginal idea is redeemed by an original interior and decor design. A cute pot of herbs sit on each table, we smelt some thyme, mint and sage. I was naughty and ripped off a piece of sage to make sure it was edible.
It was the first meal of the day so of course a coffee was mandatory. The coffee was nice, they use beans from some coffee roaster in Coburg.
Tuna steak caesar salad, with cos, bacon, egg, and parmesan cheese.
This was nice, i’m not a huge fan of tuna steak as it’s often dry and chewy. The rest of the salad however had a great crunch and a nice flavour. The egg was a tad over-done so sorry guys, no #yolkporn.
Open pulled pork roll with cranberries, apple and celeriac remoulade.
Brioché was well toasted, a nice crunch but still soft and edible. The pork had minimal flavour, but combined with the cranberries and remoulade the dish worked very well. I wish I liked rocket, but my tastebuds seem to argue with them every time they make contact.
We finished off brunch with a delicious chocolate brownie. The menu stated compulsory with ice cream, but it got served without. We had to remind the waitress, but she kindly attended to it and even gave us an extra scoop! Deliciously moist and sweet, and it’s true, you must have it with ice cream.
The Market Kitchen is one of the few restaurants that have recently opened on Clarendon, giving the street a bit of life. The place is modern, cool and hip, the food is fresh and delicious and the staff are friendly and attentive.
View ForkSake in a larger map
The Market Kitchen
342 Clarendon Rd
Man Tong Kitchen / Crown
Man Tong Kitchen, the name might sound familiar because it’s owned by the same guy that brought us the iconic HuTong dumpling bar. Man Tong Kitchen is known as the ‘sister’ restaurant, although it sounds more like the manly brother.
The restaurant is located next to the Casino in the Crown Entertainment Complex. It’s not the most romantic of places but once you enter, it feels like you have entered a restaurant in China… that is full of Australians. We were the only Asians there, apart from the staff.
They have an extensive wine list, amongst other beverages. Watch out for the Chinese tea, as they charge a ridiculous $5 per person.
Spacious high ceiling decorated with a mixture of modern and vintage Chinese furniture, wooden floors and marble. The tables and seats looked like old rosewood while the room had the lucky Chinese colors going on. The restaurant seats around 200 people, and even have a couple of private rooms for functions or meetings. It is a good but temporary get-away from the pokie machines (Dad.)
Our table was set up nicely, although I feel the white mug isn’t as cute as traditional Chinese tea cups. Everything was clean and there was no need to double-check, unlike other asian restaurants.
Luxuries like hot towels, and particular attention is not something I am accustomed to when dining in a Chinese restaurant, as i’m often seeking a cheap dumpling bar or lunch specials. It was a pleasant change. Although the service isn’t extraordinary here, it’s a lot better than anything you will get down Chinatown.
They have a huge selection of great authentic Chinese dishes on the menu, and of course we ordered way too much food. Whenever i’m eating with dad it seems like we order enough food for Africa or at least enough for leftovers for the whole week.
Shredded Chicken with Chilli Oil in Szechuan Style - We started with this cold dish, it had a very strong sesame flavour but it was delicious. The cucumber gave a nice crunch and refreshed the palate.
Spring Onion Pancake. - Hate to say it, but these are much better than the ones my dad make. Sorry Dad! These were puffy, crispy, and had a nice simple flavour.
Sesame Prawn Rolls - These were also delicious and crispy. A balanced savoury sweetness with a delicate crunch.
Scallop Siu Mai - I was disappointed with the presentation, they looked sloppy and were falling over. Pete and Manu from MKR said to never judge a dish by their cover, they were right. This un-impressing dish turned out to be soft, juicy and very flavoursome. To my surprise they also contained delicious scallops! Dad ordered in Chinese so I didn’t see these coming, I was very pleased and so were my tastebuds.
Signature’s Xiao Long Bao - The oh so famous and glorified Xiao Long Bao. Back in my hometown, only asians would know what these are. Since i’ve moved to Melbourne it seems like Xiao Long Bao is in everybody’s vocabulary. I even found out there is an abbreviation for them: “XLB!”
HuTong set a good benchmark for these dumplings but I feel Man Tong might have outdone them this round. Soft moist skin, hot juicy soup and tender flavoursome meat. They even had a little hole in the top so you could suck the soup out, not sure if that was intentional, but it worked a treat. These XLB’s were very well crafted and tasted superb, dad was equally impressed and ordered a few too many.
Pan-Fried Pork Dumplings - Simple and tasted pretty much exactly like the ones from HuTong. I was expecting a bit more crunch from the dumplings. The pastry tasted like the ones that come with steamed dumplings, apart from the base that seemed like it was fried on a hot pan for maybe 10 seconds. It was very juicy and full of soup like the XLB’s. Delicious, but not cooked to the style I was expecting, and not as good as the XLB’s.
Braised Fish Head Soup in Hot Pot - Sounds appetising doesn’t it? The Chinese believe that if you eat fish head, it will make you more brainy. Now, i’m not sure if scientists have tested this yet, but I had a couple of bowls and feel a lot brainier. My tastebuds however, were not really fathomed. If it really did make me brainier, I would be drinking a lot more.
Lobster Meat San Choi Bao - Biggest san choi bao I’ve seen in a while. I was hoping for something maybe half this size. The filling tasted great, delicious lobster meat. It had quite a strong garlic flavour, the filling and sauce was good.
Duck Meat San Choi Bao - Another mammoth san choi bao, this time it was duck. Flavoursome meat, nice subtle sweetness and not too dry, but once again I felt it was a bit heavy for an appetiser. Giant san choi bao’s were a little overwhelming, considering the amount of food we ordered. Perhaps that was our fault!
Silky Bean Curd with Preserved Egg - Lusciously soft silken tofu, delicious century egg and spring onion. I love this dish because the tofu is so light and flavourless but has an excellent texture, while the century egg and soy sauce is very rich and flavoursome. When I combined the two, it’s like they were meant to be. Meant to be in my mouth.
Stir Fried String Bean with Szechuan Chilli Sauce - A nice vegetable dish to convince us that we are being healthy, although this dish was also pretty oily. Hard to escape in a Chinese restaurant.
Deep Fried Boneless Chicken with Dry Chilli - Delicious fragrant and spicy. The menu had three different versions of this dish, from three different parts of China. Szechuan, ChongQing and Normal China. Ok I admit, there is no such thing as “Normal” China but they just didn’t list a place on the menu. This was deliciously tantilizing.
Pork Spare Rib with Sweet and Vinegar Sauce - My favorite dish of the evening. Crunchy battered peices of soft pork meat in a beautiful rich sauce. The sauce was spot on, the perfect amount of sweetness and sourness from the vinegar.
Hot Spicy Couple (Beef Tripe & Ox Tongue) - My dad likes this, I do not know why. I had a couple of bites and decided not to have any more. It wasn’t horrible, but the texture was just not for me. Maybe when i’m 40, just maybe.
Stir Fried Scallop & Eggplant with Szechuan Chilli Sauce in Clay Pot - This dish was oily, but delectable. The sauce was delicious, it had a spicy kick that was absorbed by the eggplant and scallops.
Steamed fresh fish - Delicious fresh fish in a ginger and light soy sauce. My dad use to force me to eat fish when I was younger so I would have ’soft’ skin, I hated it. Now I love it and feel super healthy when eating it. I left the head and the tail for Dad.
Final say - A little overpriced, as expected with the majority of things at Crown, however the food quality here was up to a great standard. If you don’t mind paying a little extra, Man Tong Kitchen has some great authentic dishes from all over China, and you’re less likley to get food poisoning. Dad might have thought he was leaving with a few extra brain cells and softer skin from the fish heads; but I was happily satisfied with a full stomach.
View ForkSake in a larger map
Man Tong Kitchen
Level 1 - West End
Crown Entertainment Complex
The Wise / Prahran
The Wise, hot new restaurant and tapas bar located just off Chapel Street in Prahran. Nick and I were privileged to get invited to the launch party to taste some sample dishes and enjoy a few drinks.
Erase and rewind was what we immediately felt when walking through the door. Cosy small venue, with a warm ambiance where you can easily tune out of what is going on around you, and tune in to what is happening inside.
I love the different variations of wood, the old books, and the vintage wallpaper interior.
We got to the party early which was fortunate as we got to quickly snatch the most comfortable seat in the house. Here I met fellow food blogger Ashley from I’m so hungree.
As the night progressed, The drinks started flowing, and I caught up with a few other bloggers including Alan from Almost Always Ravenous, Sarah from Style Melbourne, James from Ravishing Retail and Lexi from Retail Therapie. We were also pleasured to meet Kane from My Kitchen Rules, Kylie and Alice from Masterchef, Ben the winner of Big Brother, and a whole lot of other great people.
Drinks and celebrities aside, I came here to blog about the food. Off to a great start, as the first dish they served was a little out of the ordinary.
It was anchovy wrapped over an olive, roasted red pepper and baby gherkin. A daring yet quirky dish to start the party. I felt like I needed breath freshener after eating this, but luckily everyone was eating the same thing, so that wasn’t necessary.
Trio of dips, usually served with sourdough. Spanish tomato sauce with peppers and onions. Greek feta spread with green peppers and oregano. Venezuelan guacamole with avocado, tabasco, garlic and lemon. All very tasty and flavoursome.
It’s always hard to remember all the food you eat at a launch, especially when it’s not listed on the menu. I think this is some cheese and meat selected from the antipasto platter that is available. It tasted great and transitioned the tastebuds nicely before moving onto the heavier dishes.
Chorizo, grilled spanish sausage served with white wine sauce. A simple, but necessary dish when serving spanish tapas. They had a subtle but friendly kick to them, which got me a tad more excited than I should have been.
Croquettes, house made and filled with prosciutto and mussels in a béchamel sauce. I try to stay away from too much deep fried food, but these were so good I couldn’t resist.
At this point it gets a little bit blurry as the wines kept flowing and the food was going quick. Don’t judge me. With my guess this looks like either the omelette or the cheese. I’ll let you decide.
And this one is also the omelette or cheese, or something else… anyway it doesn’t matter as they were both delicious and i’m a great food blogger.
I do remember this though, the Ali-Oli Calimari - Marinated and grilled calamari served with aoli. The calamari aroma was quite pungent, in a good way (if you like calamari). The saltiness balanced out by the delicious creamy aioli.
Nick got a tad distracted at the bar while I was getting fed. He missed out on this great Greek Moussaka - sautéed eggplant layered with potatoes, ground beef, topped with béchamel sauce was divine. One of my favourites of the night.
Marinated rockling fillets lightly fried with aioli. Not too fishy, crunchy outside, soft inside. It’s not too healthy because it’s fried, but it’s not too unhealthy because it’s fish. A pleasing dish for all me thinks.
Handmade lamb meatballs pan fried served in almond sauce. Fragrant, delicious, I think I ate it all in one gulp. Oops.
Potatoes Bravas - Sautéed garlic potatoes served in a traditional brava sauce. These were very tasty and super addictive. Cut into the cutest bite size pieces.
Aragonese style pan fried chicken pieces with tomato, onion and rosemary in a white wine sauce. Tender, soft and flavoursome. It doesn’t have that usual ‘crunch’ you get with BBQ’ed chicken nibbles, but the softness allows the great flavour to shine through.
The Wise is a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They have the menu and environment to satisfy any occasion. All the food was tasty and goes great with alcohol - which of course they have a great wine list, cocktails and need I mention, Sangria Sundays.
Disclaimer: The images and descriptions of the dishes might be a little inaccurate at some points, but the experience was not. I had a great time and the vibe throughout the whole night was great. Huge thanks to Jess and Greg the owners of The Wise, and SilverLeafPR.
View ForkSake in a larger map
The Wise Tapas Bar and Restaurant
173 High Street
Wat Da Pho / South Melbourne
Wat Da Pho, a newish Vietnamese restaurant located in the heart of South Melbourne. Authentic Vietnamese cuisine with a specialty in… Pho! If you love Pho, you’re in for a treat. If you don’t know what Pho is, you’re also in for a treat and if you don’t love Pho… who are you?
The decor sets this place apart from your typical pho restaurants around Melbourne, mostly spotted in Richmond, Footscray or Springvale. The menu also offers something more simple, Vietnamese food noobs, you can’t really go wrong as there is only 3 entree’s, 3 types of Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) and 3 desserts.
They have chosen to dress this place up nicely in a cheap-but-not-nasty kind of way. Traditional ingredients, photo’s from Vietnam, pots and pans are just some of the elements used to give this place a modern feel and also tie in the roots of their business - Simple yet delicious Vietnamese cuisine.
The ambiance was warm and casual. The furniture and cleanliness is a lot nicer than the cheap nasty plastic you get in Chinatown or other cheap asian restaurants.
Pineapple & Passionfruit Smoothie - A great drink to start off with as Vietnamese cuisine is quite light. This was refreshing and delicious. Perfect for a hot day, and a generous portion for $5.50 They also do some alcoholic smoothies which i’m yet to try, but they sound
equally more delicious.
Condiments are a big deal in Vietnamese cuisine, its great to see they have an abundance of fish sauce, hoisin sauce and the best Sriracha ever (Huy Fong Foods). I could not live without that stuff, and it works perfectly as a Pho topping. Just looking at the condiments was enough to get my tastebuds excited.
Step aside taco’s, you have some competition. Rice paper rolls seem to be the hottest new food in Melbourne recently, with multiple vietnamese restaurants capitalising on the rising popularity of rice paper rolls. Good on them I say, as the more rice paper rolls we get, the happier and healthier we are!
Nick and I had to get all the rice paper rolls, mainly because I ordered. Lemongrass pork, prawn and chicken avocado. They were all delicious, my favourite one was the prawn, although it was the smallest, not sure if it was meant to be. The hoisin sauce was a bit boring compared to other places, it would have been nice to see some crushed nuts in there. Anyway, it’s not about the sauce, the verdict comes down to the rice paper rolls, luckily they were fresh and delicious and only left me wanting more. They had a vegetarian/tofu one too which I am yet to try! Let me know how it is.
Condiments aren’t the only thing in Vietnamese food that really makes the meal your own. They often have fresh vegetable add-ons served to the side so you can add as much or as little flavours as you like. Bean sprouts, thai basil, vietnamese mint, fresh cut chilli, and lime.
This was for the Pho. We got the delicious rare beef pho. Fresh flavours and good quality ingredients. I felt like I could ‘trust’ this food a lot better than a typical asian joint down Chinatown.
The broth was light and refreshing. The noodles were cooked well, and the beef was nice and tender. The bean sprouts added a nice little crunch while a bit of pepper seasoned the soup. I went a little overboard with the condiments, as I always do. Be extra careful with the chilli, it can get quite hot. It’s a lot easier to ‘add’ flavour than it is to ‘take away.’
We also got ‘Da Sticks’ Honey sesame chicken on rice. They were tasty and well seasoned. Simple.
Thank god I don’t have to travel into the city for Vietnamese food anymore. Wat Da Pho definitely brings something different to South Melbourne and it looks like all the other Vietnamese restaurants need to step up their game. Welcome to my stomach Wat Da Pho!
View ForkSake in a larger map
Wat Da Pho
212 Clarendon Street
Etto / South Melbourne
Melbourne’s hottest new pasta joint ‘Etto,’ has opened up in my local area and i’ve fallen in love. Coming from a graphic design background, this sexy branding caught my attention.
After setting such a high standard from their branding, I was anxious to see how good the food would be. Despite seeing similar typography/branding around, Etto has a unique style and a great sense of authenticity in delivering the best ‘Italian street pasta’.
Pasta is one of my favourite things in the world, so I was excited to see a place which specialises in fresh pasta.
Cute simple interior with a modern design, seating around 10 people inside. The ambiance was laid back and warm with a fun, family friendly environment.
Outside seating available for rush hour or outdoor friendly days, although I think majority of the customers choose the take-away option. I wouldn’t blame them, as the food comes in a trendy brown paper bag. Perfect for lunches, dinner, or an afternoon snack if you’re a fatty.
The beautiful typography is carried all the way through their branding, with the menu including info-graphics of pasta. The deal is - you pick your pasta, and then you pick your sauce to stir through, or a salad. It’s impossible to go wrong, as everything in the menu looks delicious.
There’s no need to fear if you don’t know what “rigatoni” or “pappardelle” or “tagliatelle” is. Etto has fresh pasta all labeled or info-graphicised for your learning pleasure. And if you’re still stuck, i’m sure a little bit of human interaction won’t hurt. The staff here are very friendly.
Lauren got the smoked salmon and roast capers with dill, rocket and lemon infused olive oil with desiree potato gnocchi. I had a few bites and was in gnocchi heaven.
Gnocchi was ultra fluffy and moist, and sauce was deliciously flavoursome. I would have chosen this sauce if I liked rocket - it’s one of the very few ingredients I am still learning to like.
Justine ordered the basil and pine nut pesto in a light cream sauce with toasted herb pine nuts. Delicious pesto flavour and once again a delicate light and fluffy gnocchi.
Pesto has a tendency to be quite rich, which was also applied onto this dish. I personally love pesto, and enjoyed the 3 spoonfuls I managed to steal.
My choice on the menu was the smoky pancetta carbonara with crunchy breadcrumbs in a light white wine cream sauce. I got it with spinach tagliatelle. No regrets, and a rare occurrence - no food envy!
A great carbonara sauce, with excellent texture and crunch added by the breadcrumbs. The sauce was light and creamy and releasing a beautiful flavour without overpowering the delicious smoky pancetta. The spinach tagliatelle added a bit of green to the dish to make it a bit ‘healthier.’
At first glance, I judged the serving size as it was tiny and was immediatley dissapointed - however, by the end of our meals, we full and very satisfied. The girls even had about 4 gnocchi pieces left over (which I ate of course.) At around $12 a dish, this pasta is great quality and excellent value. I will definitely be back to try the rest of the menu.
View ForkSake in a larger map
Etto Italian Street Pasta
251 Clarendon Street
Auction Rooms / North Melbourne
Auction Rooms has been known to deliver the best coffee in Melbourne. It was a small trek – located in North Melbourne, a quiet area that didn’t seem to have much to offer.
Upon arrival, I immediately knew it was going to be a cool café by the cute little tea pots, rustic wooden tables, and the bunch of hippie staff.
A beautiful conversion of the old WB Auction House, the Auction Rooms has a beautiful rustic feeling with the smell of delicious coffee and a touch of nature.
Lovely open space with invigorating natural light. The ambiance was peaceful, the service was friendly and lucky for us - it wasn’t too busy. People have said you have to line up for hours to get a seat.
They have a great selection of drinks, coffee and alcohol. They stop serving the coffee after 5pm and move towards the stiffer drinks. Unfortunately I didn’t stay that late. The menu also offers great food with a unique spin on everything. I wanted everything.
After a delicious espresso cappuccino, I had to give their filter coffee’s a try. They had some very cool Japanese baristas working their magic in their laboratory. I tried a couple of different Syphon coffee’s, one called “Falda Grande” and the other: “Golden Ticket.” Both by Small Batch, delicious and served perfectly.
The Falda Grande was light and smooth while The Golden Ticket had a fruity punch, balanced by a fuller body and sweetness. I preferred the Golden Ticket, mostly because it had a cooler name.
House made banana and walnut bread with espresso butter and maple syrup. Served lusciously soft, this was probably the best banana bread I have ever tasted. The espresso butter definitely brought this dish up to a whole new level.
Salmon on house-made rosti and kale. I really enjoyed this dish, especially the kale. It added fabulosity.
I noticed they had some delicious looking cakes/slices too. I didn’t get anything as I saw a few flies trying to devour them which put me off, plus I felt fat enough already.
The Auction Rooms has excellent coffee, great food, and amazing Aesop hand soap in the bathroom! Definitely worth the trek, i’ll be back to try more.
View ForkSake in a larger map
107 Errol St
Radio Mexico / St Kilda
After hearing all the raiving reviews, magazine features and the “When are we going to Radio Mexico!?” from my dear colleague - I finally decided it was time to visit this highly spoken about gem.
This restaurant adds to Melbournes Mexican wave of restaurants that have opened up recently, also adapting the “no bookings” policy. We were lucky enough to get a seat without waiting. (Apparently quite a rare occurrence.) A queue started forming as soon as we sat down.
Excellent ambiance inside, family friendly with a touch of hipster.
I have a love/hate relationship with tequila, but this espresso margarita exceeded my expectation. Rich - but very tasty. Go for a Tequila Sunrise or a standard Margarita if you want something more refreshing.
No matter what your drink choice - you can’t go wrong, as they have a great bar with an amazing bartender. Be careful not to get addicted as it could get quite pricy at $18 a cocktail.
One of my favorite things about Mexican culture is sculls, sculls, and sculls. Radio Mexico has plenty of Mexican memorabilia which sets the vibe right and ready.
Be warned, taco madness ahead! Radio Mexico have an amazing taco menu with a lot of different unique taco’s. Priced at $6.50 a pop, sitting up there yet fairly reasonable considering the quality.
Baja - Beer battered fish, pico de gallo and slaw. Amazing fish taco’s. Very fresh and light with excellent crunch thanks to the cabbage and fish batter.
Camaron - Chipotle prawn and slaw. I love prawns. Great tasting taco, but it came with only two measly prawns! Give me more prawns god dammit.
Barbacoa - Slow cooked organic saltbrush lamb, red cabbage and salsa. Now this is better (filling wise) a generous serve of flavoursome lamb.
Carne Asada - BBQ Hanger steak with home made crema, lettuce and salsa. Delicious taco with friendly flavours.
Al Pastor - Otway freerange pork carnitas with pickled jalepeño and charred pineapple. Delicious slow cooked pork with zingy flavours coming through from the jalepeño’s and pineapple.
Albondigas - Spicy beef, pork and rice meatballs with salsa and homemade crema served with green rice. Our ‘shared’ dish. Delicious meatballs and fragrant rice. I only had a small portion. This was good, but the taco’s win this round.
Great vibes all round, a very cool place. I will definitely be back to try more taco’s!
View ForkSake in a larger map
11 Carlisle Street
He says She Says / Camberwell
He Says She Says launched their opening a few months ago in the well established suburb of Camberwell. I was lucky enough to recieve an invite to the grand opening. I was a little shocked and hesitant to venture out, but decided to fulfil my food blogger duties.
Upon arrival I was pleasantly surprised. This restaurant, café, bar was immaculately set up and had great vibes running through. Great vibes/free drinks! (Perks of being a food blogger.)
I had to compliment one of the owners on the design of their restaurant. I loved balance of masculine vs feminine combined with elegance.
The bar has a lovely selection of wines to compliment their excellent menu.
We were presented with amazing sample dishes from their menu prepared by their head chef Michael Harrison.
Drank a little too much to remember everything I ate, but I do remember my tastebuds were very satisfied.
Oysters, orgasm in the mouth. Ate more than my fair share, and I would happily do it again.
The main sample dish from the launch night. Spiced lamb shoulder with tabouleh saffron yoghurt and lamb jus. Very fragrant, flavoursome and juicy.
The media launched proved to be a great success, not only for the restaurant but for me too. I had a blast and met some excellent foodies and rich people while enjoying excellent food and booze.
A few months later, I came back to see what this restaurant is ‘really’ like. Without the pressure of Masterchef celebrities and food critics.
Once again the presentation of the restaurant was immaculate.
Gorgeous eatware and drinkware, tables set up to perfection.
We had an excellent waiter too who recommended some great dishes for us to try. Although I wanted everything on the menu.
Rockling tartare, puffed rice and chive dressing with shaved foie gras. Didn’t know what a lot of those words were but tasted superb. I tried this dish at the launch and it was one of my favourites.
Prawn, chicken and shiitake dumplings with roast chicken consommé. Coming from an asian background, I was anxious to see how this would turn out. I felt much relief and pleasure as these delicious dumplings entered my mouth along with the flavoursome consommé.
John Dory served on white wine pasta with fennel. Deliciously fresh and vibrant zesty flavours.
Braised beef cheek suppose to be served with cornichon and caper relish but they changed this dish up a little and served it with pumpkin pureé. Delectable. Moist. Tender. I enjoyed every bite of this and highly recommend this dish.
He Says She Says is a well rounded venue with sophistication, elegance and a bit of quirk.
View ForkSake in a larger map
He Says She Says
1101 Toorak Road
Nick and I went on holiday recently and discovered the amazing land of Thai AKA Thailand. I went snorkelling for the first time, soaked up the radiating sun, drank copious amounts of booze, shopped excessively, got felt up by the natives, and last but not least enjoyed some crazy Thai food. Nothing was what I expected. People had told me things were dirt cheap, and I didn’t believe them. Once I got here and discovered a bottle of beer from the bar is 100THB/$3AUD, that’s when I realised they weren’t lying.
We arrived at our first destination - Phuket. Through the smoggy windows of the taxi, we noticed street vendors smoking up the city. Chicken skewers, pork ribs, fish and anything barbecue-able was barbecued. It was a shame a lot of the food was ‘unsafe’ to eat. By unsafe, I mean raw chicken sitting in the humid heat for hours. Flies, cockroaches and lizards lurking around next to a pile of raw dripping meat in a city with no hygiene standards what-so-ever.
Don’t let that draw you back. If I had taken all my travel vaccinations and didn’t mind a bit of diarrhoea, I would have totally gone for everything. They smelt and looked delicious. I gave in to temptation and tried these honey BBQ pork ribs, and it was totally worth it. No food poisoning. Perhaps the alcohol overpowered and killed any approaching sickness.
No the chalkboard to the right is not in Thai - That is how much tourism dictates how this city is run. Phuket had a wide range of cuisines on offer, and this was a complete downfall. It was so difficult to find a decent restaurant that actually only served Thai food, as they all served pasta/steaks/pizza/european food as well. This made it extremely hard to find the “authenticity” I was searching for.
This was a big wake up for me. I was looking for ‘authentic’ Thai food such as peanut satay, chicken green curry, pad thai and perhaps some new dishes, however no restaurant served peanut satay, and it’s a bit risky ordering any meat dish, especially chicken. This is when I realised that western Thai vs eastern Thai is completely different. I enjoyed a lot of seafood and it was so fresh and cheap too. Don’t miss out on the opportunity if you are a seafood lover. Southern Thailand has the best seafood.
Next up on our plate was Phi Phi Island, the famous tourist/party island. We took a ferry across from Phuket which only cost us 400THB/$12AUD each. I loved this island. There are no cars, no roads, just footpaths. The best way to get around is walking, bicycles or water taxi. Surrounded by a beautiful sea, this place had a glorious amount of fresh seafood on offer.
This was a great spot outside our resort, however we had to keep an eye on the tide as it was rushing towards us!
We had dinner at Tonsai Seafood, one of the main restaurants on the island. Of course it had to be a seafood restaurant, there is no other option as seafood is so abundant and delicious in this area.
Pretty simple setting, no frills. Located next to the whistling sea, like most places on the island. The sea was so pristine, the water was crystal clear. The mood was nice, a lot quieter than other side of the island. (Party area.)
The seating was cheap, but we livened it up by ordering some long island iced teas which made it efficiently more romantic. ;) 200THB/$6AUD. This went strait to our heads, I think it was because we were dehydrated and also had a few sneaky beers earlier on. Not complaining.
It was the fresh seafood caught our eye, there’s so much of it! Crayfish, bugs, king prawns, fish, tuna, squid, crab and other types of fish I cannot name.
The salads etc looked pretty standard, can’t really comment though because we didn’t try it. The ‘help yourself’ option looked pretty boring and almost too much like buffet breakfast.
Delicious clams, cooked in butter and white wine sauce. My favourite. So tasty I could have had more. Could have, should have and would have… But didn’t. *Smacks head*
Wonderful crab in thai dressing and fresh vegetables.
Hotel breakfasts usually comes included with accommodation, so take it up. They all try to do western style breakfast with eggs, omelettes and bacon however all of them miss the mark as I don’t think the ingredients are as fresh.
Most of them have a range of eastern dishes too. I enjoyed most of the Thai dishes they had. Boiled rice with pork, fried rice, fried noodles, and even a green curry - My stomach would definitely not be able to handle that for breakfast, while hungover.
Boiled rice was my favourite, as it was Thai, light, flavoursome and easy to eat for breakfast. I added my own ginger and spring onion, and a little bit of soy sauce.
We ran into a lot of different noodles on our trip, however my favourite still has to be the typical Pad Thai.
The tropical fruits have so much freshness and juiciness. Sticky rice and mango was best. Buffet breakfasts are great because you can just keep eating, but remember to save room for lunch.
After a few days of enjoying the beach life, we decided to venture up north and flew into Chiang Mai. A completley different vibe. Greenery, nature, and a bit of a cooler temperature. The locals here actually enjoyed themselves instead of just working, and there seemed to be a lot less tourists around. The quality of meat here seems to be a bit ‘safer’ too and the city itself is a lot more developed.
We were recommended this restaurant across the road by our awesome hotel staff. It was great, it was Halloween night and there was a live band playing. The majority of people there were Thai. The costumes were awesome, and the music was pretty good too. They had a great selection on the menu, northern thai food, traditional thai food, but once again they also had steaks, pastas, ‘european’ food. Sorry no pictures as the place was too dark so photo quality was shit. Lucky for me the food quality was not shit. It was great and we tried some new dishes, including a pork belly northern Thai style.
We tried these popped rice crackers with red curry dipping sauce down the road, it was a simple and tasty entree. The curry dipping sauce was flavoursome and serving it with popped rice crackers was genius.
Thai salads are the best, my favourite is the thai spicy seafood salad. It was funny when we asked “Is it yum?” when the waitress was recommending a salad and she replied “no.” as “Yum” is actually a type of Thai salad. Regardless, the papaya salad we ordered was yum.
I know I say this about everything but these banana pancakes were one of my favourite things about Thailand. Anytime I saw them selling them, I had to buy.
Some places offer different fillings such as cream, egg, maple syrup, nutella, jam, cheese or even “sheese.” Although I think that was just a typo on their signage. I would definitely only recommend banana, and get it with chocolate sauce or condensed milk.
We refused to leave Thailand without visiting the capital city, Bangkok. Bangkok has great shopping areas, markets, restaurants, and an amazing gay scene hehe. The roads are very congested. We had to get out of a taxi and hop on a motorbike to get past as the traffic was moving 1kmph. Being on a motorcycle was a lot of fun, we let the wind blow through our hair and put all our trust in strange men who did not speak a word of english and just wanted money.
We tried a lot of Pad Thai on our journey, ranging from around 40THB/$1.24AUD to 200THB/$6.22AUD.
This Pad Thai was whipped up at the markets and only cost 40THB/$1.24AUD, one of the best i’ve ever tried, if not the best value at least. This was my Aha! moment when I found my ‘authentic’ Thai food. Cheap and fucking tasty.
This Pad Thai was from a hotel across the road from Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok. A bit nice, I think it was around the 200THB/$6.00 mark. It was delicious.
This was another market Pad Thai, once again very delicious and very simple. I was tempted to move to Thailand and just live off market Pad Thai.
This minced pork dish was from the same vendor as the Pad Thai above. I ordered it because I wanted to try something different, but it was not nearly as tasty as the Pad Thai. Lucky it was cheap enough to order both.
The markets had a lot of interesting and not so interesting food.
Quail eggs, anchovies, fish and chips, fried insects etc.
Squid wrapped in pork. Like a meat on meat spring roll dumpling thing. Quite heavy but pretty darn tasty. My hunger combined with the freshness of the salad balanced it out perfectly.
We also tried Thai tacos made from egg yolk. They had two flavours to choose from; sweet or salty. Strange but pleasant. I enjoyed the sweet ones more.
Pork neck. Liked it. Licked it. Eated it.
By the end of the trip we weren’t really afraid to eat anything. Although that could be because the quality of meat up north is better than south. I can’t even remember which part of chicken this was but it was good.
Got very depressed to be heading back to reality. Each time I look back I get reminded of how amazing this holiday was and how I wish it never ended. There is plenty more food to try, many more people to meet and new experiences to make. See you soon Thailand.
Check out my TripAdvisor posts.
Bay View Resort (Koh Phi Phi)
Rimping Village (Chiang Mai)
Mystic Place (Bangkok)
Kiri Villas Resort (Phuket)
Where?House / Melbourne
Where?house you ask? Melbourne Music Week launched their festival hub at a top secret pop-up location this year. I was lucky enough to get a +1 VIP ticket to an opening event hosted by SONOS.
Located at the Argus building on the corner of La Trobe and Elizabeth Street. This abandoned gothic building creates the perfect setting for drunk party animals, eargasmic music and great food or in this case Melbourne Music Week.
There were still workers on site fixing things when we arrived, which made me unsure about the legitimacy and saftey of the event. The excitement built as we entered the building, rustic, spacious, grungy, abandoned and crazy.
All our worries and concerns evapourated as we were lured into the exciting environment thanks to great music, shifty lights, the smell of delicious food and the thirst for booze.
When the invite mentioned “Free Food” I was expecting a sausage sizzle. To my surprise we were presented with the most delicious, funky and hip vendors. I devoured all the food there was on offer. I Love Pho 246, Phat Bratz, Huxtaburger, Touche Hombre, and Fancy Hanks. (Note: Food may be smaller portion sizes in images, so don’t fret.)
My first time trying a Huxtaburger (guilty), and it was Huxta-de-licious as expected. Tasted even better because it was free. Delicious Wagyu beef with a pungent meaty flavour and a generous dollop of sauce. I hate when a burger isn’t saucy enough! Couldn’t flaw the burger really, soft bun, tasty fillings. Will definitely be back to try some more.
Was very excited to see my favorite sausage shop here. Top notch dogs for top notch people, like us!
Delicious as always, meaty sausage was balanced by the delicate pulled pork and refreshing appleslaw. Phat Brats have an amazing menu, taking your hot dog experience to a whole new level.
Tacos from Touche Hombre, a very cool Mexican restaurant / Tequila bar in the city. Delicious taco’s fresh and heathy tasting. I have tried a few tacos, but will need to head back as I consumed too much tequila to remember what I ordered. Touche Hombre has a really cool vibe so check it out.
BBQ Ribs from Fancy Hanks, a brand new restaurant/venue specialising in BBQ cuisine, if you can call it that. These delicious ribs were totally flavoursome and manly. Fancy Hanks are planning on opening up a store near/in the convent, not sure when but it will be worth the wait.
Vietnamese prawn cracker taco’s by I Love Pho 246. Pretty much a Vietnamese salad on a prawn cracker, my favorite kind of salad. Refreshing, healthy and crisp. The juicy dressing added a hit of flavour, leaving my mouth watering for more. They had pretty good spring rolls, rice paper rolls and deep fried calamari too. I will definitely be heading out to Richmond to find this place and devour all they have.
All of the food is amazingly delicious, but who am I kidding, people are here to get drunk and dance to music. It’s a shame the event is now over and nothing is left, however i’m sure Melbourne Music Week will be doing something equally as exciting next year. You can still try all the amazing food, you will just have to venture around to find them all.
Bacon and Egg Muffin
My boyfriend made me this. Super cute and ultra delicious. If you need to impress someone, I highly recommend feeding them this. Note: Even tastier whilst hungover.
Boat Builders Yard / South Wharf
This eatery screams rustic with a comforting, warm and inviting environment. Located just around the corner from me, in the South Wharf promenade, I can easily see this place turning into my ‘local’ for summer.
This place has an exuberant balance of romanticism, quality and trendiness while remaining on earth. The inviting nature of this place makes it suitable to meet up with friends, go on a casual date with a few beers or dine alone.
Outdoor area open and refreshing, great for smokers and/or drunk people - but hey, everywhere is good for drunk people. A large area to stretch your legs, or invite your friends.
I think advertising on bicycles is the new thing, I mean who doesn’t love bicycles?
A great variety of seating options. Cute rustic waterside seating. I sat here with my partner on a warm evening with a cold beer, absolute bliss. Careful not to have too many beers, you could fall into the Yarra and die.
Food pick up station. I love the anticipation of waiting for my ‘waiting disk’ to beep to notify my food is ready. It has some sort of futuristic feel along with a sense of accomplishment, even though there is nothing for me to accomplish, I just sat on my ass.
The inside café, decked out with the remains of the old boatbuilders yard it use to be. Simple interior with little details which adds a sense of uniqueness and approachability.
The inside of the café is nice and cosy, with a log fireplace and friendly staff. If you are lucky enough to get a seat by the fire on a cold day, I would recommend you stay forever. If you’re stuck in the rain, The Boatbuilders Yard kindly offers you their umbrellas to borrow.
Cabinet food looked great too. Unsure what those white packages are, perhaps some sort of spring roll or something. Anyway, it looked delicious.
The bar is super cool, decent size but I guess it has to be for such a large venue. Great thing they have eftpos/pay pass too.
Bacon and egg roll, as advertised on the bicycle. Cabinet food but I think the staff made it fresh. Cheap but hearty and mighty delicious.
Poached eggs on toast with thick cut bacon and a hash brown. The bacon and the hash brown are pure quality and full of flavour.
I was a fatty and got the Boatbuilders Breakfast, Eggs, Tomato, Cheese Kransky, Thick Cut Bacon, Hash Brown, Mushroom. Delicious, and being such a manly dish, I think it increased my testosterone/manly level.
Unfortunately they don’t do all day breakfast; however they have a delightful lunch menu.
Chicken ciabatta roll available from the cabinet. Something lighter so you don’t feel too gluggy when you enjoy it with a nice cold beer.
Beef Bourguignon Pot Pie, Peas, Potato & Parsnip Puree. Parsnip puree delectable. Everything cooked beautifully. Fresh vegetables make for a less guilty dish, although it still would be brilliant without.
Battered Flathead Fillets, Chips, Coleslaw, Tartare Sauce. This was the guilty dish, however sometimes when you’re by water you crave these things. Deep fried deliciousness. There is also a lump of coleslaw hiding at the back there to refresh that dirty palate.
Braised Rabbit - Pancetta, Shallots, Winter Veg. Absolutely delectable, tender meat falling off the bone, full of flavour and warmth.
They also have a mini-bar outside too with delicious organic sausages. You can choose either prime beef, lamb merguez, duck and pistachio or vietnamese pork roll.
I got the duck and pistachio sausage, delicate rich flavour. The mustard and tomato sauce was ‘self service’ hence why it looks so shit. The sauce also did not compliment the sausage that well, perhaps a relish would have been nice. For $9 you can’t really complain though. It was the perfect afternoon snack.
View ForkSake in a larger map
The Boatbuilders Yard is a great place to relax and catch up with friends, suitable for a lot of occasions breakfast/coffee/lunch/bar however, everything is self service. You have to order at the bar, water is available from the ‘water station’, you pick your food up from the ‘food pick up station.’ and you have to eat the food yourself. It’s a good trade off for excellent food and a great vibe.
The Boatbuilders Yard
03 9686 5088
23 South Wharf Promenade
South Wharf, VIC 3006