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.
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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
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!
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Wat Da Pho
212 Clarendon Street
Mekong / Melbourne
Mekong. I’m not going to sugar coat it. The shittest place I have ever been in Melbourne. Don’t get me wrong, not all the food is bad and some people love it here. Hell, even my boyfriend likes this place, however my first experience at Mekong was bad enough to make it my last.
The environment is authentic, but stale - with tacky condiments on tables, laminated menus and unclean cutlery. Apologies for the half eaten food pictures coming up, it was a Saturday night and I was drunk.
Check those tits. I mean the rice paper roll. Lauren wanted vegetarian rice paper rolls but they didn’t have any left. So she ordered four prawn ones, but they only had two left. Obviously not made fresh, obviously too lazy to make any, obviously crap service.
Spring rolls, pastry was a bit heavier than expected. You can get better spring rolls elsewhere.
Grilled pork on vermicelli. This was my dish, simple but tasty. I enjoyed it because I was hungry and drunk. Don’t know if I would in any other state.
I think this was rare beef noodle soup / Pho. Classic vietnamese dish. Nothing wrong with the dish but there was nothing extraordinary either.
Grilled chicken on vermicelli, obviously not grilled for long enough. Undercooked chicken was enough to put the whole table off their appetite.
Vegetable noodle soup. Here’s the slippery slope to customer dissatisfaction. A piece of plastic bag in a dish. Who knows how long that poisonous plastic bag would have been brewing in that boiling soup for.
Mekong has proved to serve some good-ish dishes and mentions on other blogs, however I think the ad outside saying “Bill Clinton had 2 bowls, how many can you handle?” must be a complete lie. I don’t know why anybody with more than $50 in their bank account would come here.
If you want to risk food poisoning or near death by choking on a plastic bag for the sake of mediokre food, Mekong is your place.
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Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam
03 9663 328
241 Swanston St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Le Bangkok / Melbourne
Le Bangkok, a mid-range Thai restaurant with attentive, friendly staff and authentic Thai Food, in Melbourne CBD.
Clean and modern, but not too fancy. Soft light and low noise makes this place pleasantly intimate, even for four gay boys.
Not taking a photo of the dish before it gets attacked will be the death of me. Thai Green Curry with Chicken, flavoursome, aromatic. A “mild” amount of spice, perfect for Caucasian tastebuds.
Beef Panang Curry - great flavour, aromatic, with Coconut Rice - lusciously fragrant, with the perfect accompaniment - Singha Beer. A Riesling would have been nice too, but we needed to prove we are real men.
A unique way of serving Pad Thai, beautiful and quirky. Egg nest kind of shell thing. Despite the cool presentation, the dish had an overpowering tomato flavour.
Guilty for ordering the ‘mainstream’ dishes. They do have a great variety of authentic thai dishes including specialty thai salads, sausage, grilled fish, and more. Banquets also available. Coulda, shoulda, woulda.
03 9663 0360
195 Lonsdale St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Sichuan Dining Room / Melbourne
Sichuan Dining Room, a casual chinese restaurant we visited for dumplings.
As noted, casual ambiance. Beware of plastic table cloths. Fairly cheap menu, fairly average service, as expected in Chinatown.
Justine thought it was a bit ambitious ordering 30 dumplings between 3 of us for a late “afternoon snack.” No regrets. Crispy, tasty dumplings. Lined my stomach perfectly just before dinner.
Craig insisted we have a healthier option as well, so we got these boiled dumplings. They were flavorsome and juicy with a simple broth. Pan fried dumplings were definitely more popular.
We ordered dumplings, a fairly fail-safe dish, achieved satisfaction. The other food looked good too, but not as good as other Sichuan restaurants in Chinatown.
Sichuan Dining Room
03 9663 5472
Mid City Arcade - 194-200 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
5 Stars Vietnamese / Christchurch
5 Stars Vietnamese Restaurant is the best Vietnamese restaurant in Christchurch, and i’m not just saying that because my mum owns it. A warm welcoming ambiance with a very casual and cheap menu.
Fresh Spring Rolls/Rice Paper Rolls. Whatever you like to call them, they are divine, fresh, healthy and the sauce is amazing!
Sugarcane Prawns, if you have never tried these, I highly recommend you do.
Bánh xèo, is a traditional vietnamese savoury pancake, filled with a mixture of things. We had pork, prawn, bean sprouts and fresh herbs. Delicious and filling. The sauce is amazing.
Spicy seafood pho. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup, usually served with rice vermicilli noodles.
Rare beef pho, this broth was deliciously flavorsome.
Lemongrass Chilli Chicken, beautiful fresh flavours as expected.
If you’re looking for a nice, cheap, healthy, BYO restaurant, 5 Stars is the best. Say hi to my mum.
5 Stars Vietnamese Restaurant
Blok M Cafe / Melbourne
The cafe I chose to go to was packed for lunch, so a few meters down Little Bourke St, I found this express Indonesian eatery, called Blok M.
Blok M was fairly quiet, but the dishes looked good on the wall so I gave it a chance.
A casual ambiance wit a low-key cafeteria feel. Perfect for students/low budgets. The walls are filled with information about Blok M, in Jakarta, the main inspiration behind this restaurant.
A great menu full of Indonesian dishes at a very affordable price! You could go for the classic nasi goreng or mi goreng, but I dare you to try something different.
I got the Ayam Balado (Chicken Balado) - The sauce is incredibly tasty, a great amount of spice, balanced by a flavorsome sweetness. The chicken had a delicious crunchiness to it, assisted by the traditional-indo fried onions.
03 9600 2534
380 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Pancake Dessert House / Melbourne
Pancake Dessert House. A place where no-one orders pancakes or dessert, nor is it a house. At least the bi-line was a bit more accurate, but it’s not like you’re suppose to take that seriously either, as it’s set in Comic Sans. Typical confusing chinese branding.
Not a single Caucasian in sight, the ambiance is very “contemporary asian fast food,” so I guess they nailed that one right. A very young asian vibe, and a comfortable spot for an express lunch, if you’re asian. (White people will stand out.) A lot of delicious chinese dishes on the menu for a very cheap price, I forgot to check if they did pancakes or desserts.
I was tossing up between the lemongrass chicken on rice or this house special pork chop on rice. The lemongrass chicken was served with a little bit of green to the side, and a pan fried egg on top of rice. The pork chop was served with sauce and rice. It was so boring compared to the chicken dish the customer next to me had! #foodenvy. The pork chop was nice and crispy, flavorsome too. The sauce was like sweet and sour sauce combined with black bean sauce and onions. I enjoyed it but I wish I had ordered the other dish instead!
Pancake Dessert House Eatery
03 9663 1400
18/200 Bourke St
Loving Hut / Richmond
The Loving Hut is a famous(vegan famous) international restaurant chain. Located on Victoria Street in Richmond, which has a lot of vietnamese/asian fusion restaurants. They provide a few classic asian dishes with a unique vegan spin.
The ambience and décor of this place is fairly boring. It has a standard cheap asian restaurant feel with the plastic tablecloths and chopsticks/cutlery on table. They need to fix the door too, it didn’t shut properly and a cold breeze was creeping in.
Vegan Chao Kuey Teaw(Malaysian fried thick rice noodles.) was good, it tasted how I expected it to. This use to be one of my favourite dishes when I was younger. My dad use to cook it, and unfortunately this vegan take on the dish didn’t come close to my dads version, but maybe i’m bias.
This vegan take on Thai Red Curry contained lychee’s and dates; as if vegans weren’t creative enough! The lychee gave the curry a surprisingly delicious sweetness and texture. The date flavour was coming through too, which was unique, but eating the date dominated the flavor of the curry, which I didn’t really enjoy. The curry flavour was great, very spicy and flavoursome. I found the red peppers a bit annoying to eat, I asked myself why didn’t the chef cut them up for me, was it because i’m not vegan? I was pleased with the dish, unique, aromatic and tasty.
This was my favourite dish that came out, Assam Eggplant, the vibrant basil flavour was superb. The curry was vibrant and flavoursome and the eggplant was cooked perfectly. The only downside is they had some mock meat in the dish - but it didn’t taste too bad.
Raw lemon and raspberry cheesecake, it was good, but I only got 2 tea spoons.
This fruit salad with ice cream was simply average, and averagely simple. Some fresh fruit (good) and So Good soy ice cream(average). Not an amazing dessert to end the night, neither was the Tiramisu, some foul flavour dominating the dessert(possibly almond essence), and it lacked coffee flavour.
Eating vegan is good for you, and the earth.
03 9427 8916
242 Victoria St
Ginger Leaf / Melbourne
Ginger Leaf thai restaurant is a restaurant in Docklands, Melbourne. I was impressed with their logo embroided on their menu.
The restaurant had a warm and exotic ambience to it. The staff were friendly. Asian.
The Ginger Entree platter had a all the entrees in one plate. Prawn crackers, chicken satay skewer, fishcake, spring roll, curry puff, prawn twist, and 2 pumpkin fritters. All quite tasty, but like a bunch of emo’s loitering outside Flinders Station, nothing in particular stood out.
Kyle got your typical white man/woman dish, thai green curry. It had a rich aromatic flavour and spice. After he was finished with his meal, he decided to play with the candle on our table… nek minnit… burnt his thumb.
I got the panang curry, beef. This was also very aromatic and had great flavour. The texture of the curry was a bit pasty and oily at parts. It didn’t have that smooth texture I was looking for. The beef was a bit too chewy too. We both got coconut rice with our meals. This coconut rice was delicious! Very fragrant, soft and flavoursome.
2/763 Bourke St
Docklands, VIC 3008
Nine Elephants / Docklands
Nine Elephants is a gorgeous Thai restaurant we found at random, thanks to the Urbanspoon iPhone App. It is located down Village Street in Docklands. The area was like a ghost town, not a person in sight.
Despite the street and area being dead, this restaurant was lively and practically full. The ambience is warm and peaceful. There were a lot of authentic and interesting dishes to choose from on the menu.
The decor was contemporary, and classy. They had nice furnishings and crockery, however, the disposable paper tablecloths were a let down. The service was very friendly and welcoming, but a bit slow. We had to wait at least 50 minutes before our main meals arrived.
Our entrées were fresh and tasty, a great way to warm up our taste buds. The curry puffs came with a yoghurt tzatziki style sauce, which went surprisingly well with the curry puffs.
Lexie got the basil chilli stir fry (vegetarian.) It was delectable, fresh and vibrant flavours. A dish full of delicious fresh herbs and veggies, a kick of spicy chillies, accompanied with garlic rice, surely made this meal exciting all the way through.
Apologies I don’t have any more photos. My camera had just stopped working as soon as my gorgeous red curry prawn dish came out. It was beautifully presented, had strong flavoursome aromas and tasted great. The medium level spiciness gave it that little extra excitement and pushed it to the next level. I had it with coconut rice which I think is perfect to cool down your palate when enjoying a hot curry dish. Lauren got the classic green curry, which was also crafted to an excellent standard. Tasty and no boring flavours.
This was a pleasant experience and I will definitely be visiting this restaurant again. Make sure you are not in a hurry, or have a lot to talk about when you bring your hot date.
67 Village Street
ITO Japanese Noodle Cafe is a fresh, well presented restaurant on Bourke Street. Although being operated by chinese means they are not 100% authentic, they do an a alright job.
The venue fits approximately 80+ people, it has modern and simplistic furniture to reflect the Japanese style. A comfortable ambience, friendly service. The food took a bit longer than anticipated, and I was on my lunch break, so I had to scoff this down. That wasn’t hard as I was extremely hungry!
It was a cold day, so I felt like deep fried chicken. (So shoot me.) I ordered the karaage chicken, Japanese style deep fried chicken. This wasn’t the best karaage I have tried, but it was alright. Some pieces of the chicken were a little bit on the large side, and the salt and pepper seasoning was a bit boring.
I love the fact that this bento box included a variety of tastes, gyoza, pan fried basa, pork shogayaki, and fresh green salad, this helped with my decision making. The gyoza was a little bit soft and undercooked for my liking, but other than that it was good, the pastry was fresh and stuffing was tasty. The basa was cooked beautifully and the sauce accompanied it well. The pork shogayaki was ok, a little bit dry and salty though.
This place is good for casual dining, service isn’t amazing but they evidently try. The food is good and there is a wide variety on the menu. Not too expensive either.
ITO Japanese Noodle Cafe
122 Bourke Street
Raymen Ya is located down a secret hideaway lane down Melbournes GPO. Famous for their Ramen, which is a Japanese style noodle soup.
Postal lane provides a great environment, the busy little lane has a ‘fast paced Melbourne’ ambience. The lane provides a good selection of outdoor and indoor seating.
This was my first visit, so I decided to go with their specialty “Charsu Ramen”. Charsu is thinly sliced pork. I got it in a ‘meal’ which included pan fried gyoza and green tea (real green tea, not the crappy stuff). The gyoza was the perfect little entree. Crisp and tasty.
The ramen had flavour, but a little bit salty for my taste. I also would have preferred my egg to be soft boiled, but it was hard boiled. That’s me being forking picky though, I enjoyed the meal/experience. I was with great company (Nick), and ramen is the perfect meal on a rainy/cold day. The bento boxes also looked amazing, perhaps that’s what i’ll try on my next visit!
03 9654 5838
25G Melbourne GPO 350 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Don Don is the fastest Japanese takeaway available in Melbourne. It is located next to Melbourne Central on Swanston Street and is known to serve super fast Japanese food at a very low price. With generous servings, Don Don won’t leave your wallet, or your stomach empty.
Perfect place for a quick lunch. Not a great deal of seating or a spectacular environment, however the have a couple of tables on the street which is great for people watching on a sunny day. The service is fast, you can expect to get your Bento Box or Hot Bowl Meal faster than you can say antidisestablishmentarianism, and with prices below $9 for every meal, you have no excuse to go hungry.
I guess now it comes to the important part, the food. It’s cheap and not nasty. It wouldn’t be my first choice for Japanese food but if you are running tight for time and low on cash, this place is great. Fairly tasty, and a lot healthier than your average fast food. My Bento box included Teriyaki Chicken and Beef Sukiyaki, both tasty… ish.
Quick but not fancy, Don Don has a lot of business as they offer a healthier and convenient alternative to fast food.
03 9662 3377
321 Swanston St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Petaling Street is a restaurant specializing in Malaysian hawker food. A variety of cheap and authentic Malaysian food, ranging from chicken satay skewers, whole steamed fish, laksa, to lemon chicken or sweet and sour pork.
The restaurant in Chinatown is brand new, with new furnishings made from wood, giving it a natural earthy feel. The service was average. Rumour has it the Swanston street venue is not as nice, and the Glen Waverley one does better food. The chain tends to be inconsistent between all venues, so be careful when choosing the right one, as you might not get the same experience.
For a starter I got some satay chicken skewers, these were tasty. The satay sauce had a rich authentic Malaysian style to it, good. I also got the chilli egg and shrimp on rice. This dish wasn’t bad but it had nothing to brag about. The sauce was a bit too sweet and watery, and not enough spice. There was a lack of elements in the dish, minimal veggies/egg. Just some shrimp, a lot of sauce and some rice.
I have mixed feelings about this restaurant, as the food was not too bad, but didn’t have the x factor I was looking for. Maybe I will need to visit again for a true indication of what it is like.
Petaling Street China Town
03 9650 8878
1F/188 Little Bourke St
Melbourne CBD, VIC 3000