Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sette Bello, Glen Waverley MELB

"Where would you like to go for Valentine's day?", WL asked out of the blue. I starred at him in utter disbelief, allowing myself a few minutes to gather my thoughts. I responded with a casual burger outlet that we frequented last year but after giving a bit more thought into it, I suggested Sette Bello, a restaurant that is close enough for the both of us and a place where we could unwind.

Bookings are necessary here and WL had arranged for it in advance, a feat that he is pretty good at hehe.  Service is friendly and efficient, orders came within a reasonable time frame.

Not sure if WL liked the idea of bread dipped in butter but I did find it amusing how he could down it quickly regardless.

Salt and pepper calamari, crisp fennel, cucumber, iceberg salad, basil aioli - salt and pepper is quite a simple method of prepping a dish but I personally felt Setto Bello did right by cooking the calamari at the right temperature and obtaining a pleasant balance between crunch and dry. Salad lent the dish some acidity, a good contrast to the fried pieces of calamari.

"Involtino di qualglia" quail, mushroom and foie gras wrapped in filo - I do like quail and this was prepared well from the crisp layer of filo to perfectly removing the fine quail bones to the fine mesh of fruit infused jam/pickles. Highly recommended to give this guy a try;)

Spicy Italian pork sausage and smoked eggplant - I have a good tolerance towards spicy food and found this a little spicy in my books. Not something for the faint hearted but worth a try if you don't mind a little kick of it.

Chargrilled eye fillet steak, potato gratin, crushed greens and brandy peppercorn sauce. Another simple dish done right, bonus points for serving it with potato gratin (a favourite of mine!).

Fries - because WL loves fries as much as I do and he almost finished the entire bowl by himself.

Confit duck leg, pan fried duck breast, cannellini bean scordalia, grilled peach and duck glaze. I love meat served with fruit and this was no exception. Scordalia toned down the robust flavours from the duck and fruit by a notch and somehow bridged those two ingredients together well. I thought the serving portion for this was a lot more generous compared to other establishments:)

Italian fried doughnuts, honeycomb, nutella, cracked chocolate and double cream - at this stage both of us probably did not need dessert but we still went ahead and ordered one. Doughnuts were delicious although I found the combination of ingredients a little too rich to my liking. Still a satisfying way to end our meal tho:)

Sette Bello Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Japan: Red Rock Harajuku TOKYO

My first trip to Japan saw me heading to Harajuku once but this time, I managed to get about three visits here, equalling to three opportunities to sample something new.

Yes, Tokyo is a very busy city and chances of dining in a popular restaurant at peak meal hours is almost impossible. To avoid disappointment, I would suggest queuing up about 10 to 15 minutes before the restaurant opens.

The line for this restaurant was bearable when we arrive which meant we get an early lunch to keep us fuelled for the rest of the day's itinerary. Ordering is done at the ticket vending machine and tickets are handed to staff members prior to being seated.

American cut steak don - not sure what glaze was used here but it bumped up this dish's aesthetic by a 1000 times. In essence, it is a very simple dish but done right aka good quality cut of beef and fragrant sauce used.

American slice beef don - the restaurant's most popular item and I can understand why. Lightly seared prior to being sliced, the meat already has a fragrant aroma wafting through it and the addition of an egg yolk and a squeeze of mayonnaise toned down the intensity slightly, making it a creamy affair. Slices of beef was neatly layered over a small mountain of steamed rice. This would change any vegetarian's perspective of meat and a must try in Harajuku.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Grain Asian Cafe, Box Hill MELB

Very rarely do I make my way to Box Hill, being that location wise is, it isn't the nearest spot to get to and parking may prove to be a challenge for most especially during peak hours.

Weary and deflated post a week of long work shifts, I manage to pull myself out of bed at 8am on Saturday and drove the sister to Box Hill, in search of festive goodies. Rewarded I was for this early attempt and after collecting our groceries, we had time for late breakfast.

Unexpectedly, the waitresses here are very friendly and had smiles plastered all over their faces throughout their shifts. A feat that I find rare in Asian outlets but nonetheless, a pleasing change of atmosphere.

Akin having breakfast in a Hong Kong cha chaan teng, set meals are available in addition to the usual lunch fares.

For $8.50, I had the steamed rice pancake with barbequed pork and a bowl of pork and century egg porridge.  The pancake's texture was rather thick but would certainly keep my tummy quiet for a few hours. Porridge was smooth and had a mild savoury flavour dispersed through it. Brownie points for the addition of bite sized pieces of century egg and pork.

I have ordered myself a glass of hot soy bean separately, a perfect way to end the meal with.

The peckish sister ordered a plate of roast duck on rice and had to takeaway half of it. Yes, definitely value for money.

Grain Asian Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Pufflets, CBD MELB

January had zipped by in the blink of an eye; one moment I was people watching in Tokyo and the next moment, I am back at work, providing solutions to people's queries.

An invitation to sample Pufflet's menu gave the breather I needed to stop and reflect on my aims and goals. All whilst indulging in egg waffles and ice cream.

Tucked away a few streets away from Bourke Street Mall and Melbourne Central, Pufflets offers a unique range of Asian inspired desserts that one may find it difficult to source even in Asia. Having been to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore myself, I cannot recall walking by a dessert shop that has the same menu.

Pufflets have put forth a cereal infused ice cream concept whereby customers can choose up to 5 different types of cereal which will be blended with ice cream. Voila, you have your own personalized ice cream flavour, be it sugary sweet or with just a light touch of sweetness.

The sister opted for the build your own combo: pick a puffle followed by an ice cream flavour, toppings and a drizzle. And so, we had the... (drum rolls)..

Matcha puffle paired with matcha ice cream, topped with cheesecake cubes, a piece of toasted marshmallow and matcha soil, all covered with a blanket of whipped cream. Ice cream had a good dose of matcha, perfect for someone who doesn't crave sweetness in their desserts.

50 shades of durian - I was tossing between this and the pandan combo but was convinced by their staff, Ying, that durian is a must for durian lovers as the ice cream is home made using real durian pulp.

And she was right. I loved every bite of it from the durian infused puffle to the rich ice cream flavour to the durian puree. Durian is not everyone's cup of tea but for fans out there, this is your new holy grail.

Cereal infused ice cream - we had s'mores, kelloggs K, oreo cookies, reese peanut butter and another cereal that has unfortunately slipped my mind, blended together to make this delicious little number. A fun dessert to play with thanks to the endless combos one can conjure.

Freshly made puffles. For those unfamiliar, these are egg waffles, a popular street snack in Hong Kong that has an unbelievably enticing aroma and a good equilibrium of crunch and fluffy factor.

Many thanks to Rhenda for this unique experience to which, I will be back for seconds. I am already eyeing that pandan combo;)

Pufflets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Japan: Uobei Sushi Dogenzaka TOKYO

Second time in Tokyo and this time, I wanted to test out as many conveyor belt sushi outlets possible. Had been out shopping and knowing that I would end up in the Shibuya area, it was fortunate that Uobei sushi is within walking distance albeit having to navigate through a few smaller streets.

Priced at 108yen for most plates, there are a few limited selection plates that can range from 200 to 250yen. Each customer is designated their own ordering ipad and a maximum of 3 items can be ordered at a time, enabling the mini trains to accommodate accordingly.

There are three train tracks in this outlet and they do move very quickly so be careful to avoid injuries (or wasting food). Once diners have removed their plates of sushi from the train, merely press the release button which will send the train back to the kitchen.

Verdict? Definitely a lot more affordable compared to eating in Australia. The bill came up to approximately 20aud per person and we were quite well fed. Won't say that these are the finest cuts in Japan but for the price tag attached, I can't fault them and would happily navigate around Shibuya to get here.

Japan: Otaru, HOKKAIDO

Located about an hour out of Sapporo, Otaru is a small town utilized as a trade and fishing port in the 1800s, where to this day, many old warehouses and former trade office buildings are preserved. Welcomed by the aroma of freshly baked bread from a bakery strategically situated in the train station, my eyes were fixed on the glass works displayed at the entrance.

Aside from it's picturesque canals reminiscence of a stroll into it's past, Otaru's glass industry had superseded its declining herring industry and is now one of it's main attractions. Each attraction is easily located within walking distance from each other. Just mind the slippery patches of ice dangerously hidden underneath a thin blanket of snowflakes. Oh the countless number of times I had almost slipped and embarrass myself.

Start off with a walk along the canals which will lead you to Sakaimachi Street aka the shopping street loaded with souvenirs and restaurants. I have spent a great deal of time in Kitachi's hair accessory shop, mostly refraining myself from overspending.

Worthwhile noting that this company has quite a few shops streamed along Sakaimachi, each with a different theme such as household decoration or kitchenware. Pick one that you would really want to see else you might never leave Otaru.

Whilst some reviewers have raved about it's local cuisine, I won't really recommend coming here if you are after the ultimate bowl of chirashizushi don or sashimi platter. Fresh it was but I did not think it was different compared to the ones I have tried in metropolitan areas.

Last spot was the Music Box museum, a place that I found therapeutic and reminded me of my childhood immensely. I have always related music to my memories be it joyous or unpleasant and felt at home here as I slowly recall certain life scenes.

Will be back and next time, I shall attempt to conquer Mt. Tengu as well as to witness the snow light path event:)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Light Years, Hawthorn MELB

Chanced upon this cafe when I was around the area covering a few shifts and decided to bring the siblings here in exchange for companionship to a Japanese grocer. The cafe's table seats were already fully occupied at a quarter past ten in the morning and the entire cafe was filled with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Matcha latte - something I missed during my recent trip to Japan. At least I managed to purchase a little pot of it at one of the department stores.

Breakfast bun - chive scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, jarlsberg cheese, spinach and tomato kasundi on brioche bun. A simple breakfast item packed with protein and a good serve of fiber.

Pork belly eggs benedict - was looking forward to this dish but was sadly, a little disappointed at the outcome. The pork belly skin still has a few threads of hair prominently sticking on it and had a strong porky aftertaste on the palate. A little difficult to accurately describe this sensation and can only be best described as a item that could improve with more marination time? Aside from that, this is a pretty adventurous dish suited for those wanting to move away from the classics.

Fish and chips - a little disappointed with the portion of the fish here and I initially thought they were tempura prawns. Salad was well dressed and waffle chips were crisp to my liking. Overall dish would have fared better with a more generous serving of fish.

Light Years  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato