Happy Palace / Melbourne
Happy Palace was an old and typical Chinese restaurant that was dying a slow death. That was until Jerome Borazio – the guy that brought us 1000£Bend, Workers Club, etc. got his hands on this place, or shall we say ‘palace’ it was brought back to life with refuelled happiness.
They nailed the brand refreshment – keeping the authentic Chinese decor minus the tackier embellishments. Replaced with installations of trendy and exciting artworks such as bicycle seats, glowing scorpions and jellyfish.
Dining tables made from mah-jong tablets and chopsticks, jade dragons, Chinese lanterns, fire crackers and Buddha’s. This place captured the essence of Chinese in the 80’s perfectly.
The glowing scorpion was so… cute? Well, entertaining at least.
These bicycle seats looked super cool but after riding my bike all day I was looking for a more comfortable seat.
The bar style was adapted with upbeat music, a DJ, fully stocked bar and cool bartenders.
It was a shame they don’t do table service anymore. But luckily they have a great bar-snack menu with an excellent range of dishes at good prices too.
San Choi Bao lettuce cups, or as they like to call it San Choy Pow! A fresh and healthy option if you don’t put too much soy sauce on it.
We got a couple of dumpling dishes, chicken+prawn and pork+vegetable. Delicious boiled dumplings, cheap and highly addictive. Like the ones we get in Chinatown.
Deep fried chicken ribs with dark soy sauce. This was my favourite dish, every piece was crunchy and flavoursome.
Pulled pork burger with Chinese 5 spice dressing and asian slaw served with prawn crackers. An awesome Chinese adaption to the classic pulled pork burger and chips.
I was pretty happy with this palace and i’ll definitely be back soon! Definitely a place to check out, especially if you’re hip and Chinese Like I am.
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87 Bourke Street
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
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
Shanghai Noodle House / Melbourne
Shanghai Noodle House is one of many little chinese restaurants in Chinatown. It’s a pretty cool place to go for a quick lunch. “Nothing fancy” - in the good cheap asian-nothing-fancy way.
Cheap ambiance, like most things from China but I like it. It means they are real/authentic, as long as the food tastes good, who cares about the cheap furniture, the hello kitty aprons and mis-spelt menus.
These pan fried pork dumplings were standardly good, but maybe try the steamed prawn ones, I heard they are amazing.
Roast duck on udon noodles and bok choi, interesting presentation. Flavorsome dish, fairly cheap, and satisfying.
Shanghai Noodle House
03 9662 9380
242 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
When in Chinatown, remember you are paying for the food, not the service or ambiance.
Sichuan House / Melbourne
Sichuan House in China Town Melbourne is a chinese restaurant that serves traditional “Sichuan” style food. Generally very spicy, pungent, and sometimes delicious.
White people also enjoy this kind of food. However, they probably don’t like randoms taking photos of them and putting it online. Come at me bro! The service is fairly standard for asian. The door was annoying, it kept slamming every time someone walked in.
Pork mince with beans. Tasty salty goodness. Order dishes to share, because if you just had this your meal would be very boring.
The house favourite. Double cooked cumin chilli pork ribs. Delicately soft and explosively flavoursome. Delicious enough to make you go for more until your tongue is on fire, or all your taste-buds are burnt out.
The kung pao prawn dish was also spicy, and flavoursome. It contained a lot of nuts, onions, rice cake, garlic, coriander, miscellaneous and oil. The only enjoyable food in the pot were the prawns, but all the other ingredients gave great flavour. (I’m not huge on nuts… well, these kind of nuts anyway.)
Definitely a place to visit if you love spicy food or chinese food, even better if you love both. Just a warning, don’t expect any sympathy or easy way out if the food is too spicy, as this restaurant does not serve ice.
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