Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hunky Dory, South Yarra MELB

Fish and I are not the best-est of friends. As a child, the sight of a slimy piece of fish skin is enough to put me off consuming the fish's flesh and at times, the addition of fishy scents do not aid the situation.

Sadly, being heavily involved in the science and medical field made me realize the importance of consuming sufficient amounts of fish as part of a balanced, healthier diet. My current diet is a far cry from perfect but I am working on it. Henceforth my never ending search for fishy options whenever I dine out.

In my humble opinion, the best way to consume a piece of fish is when the fish had been deep fried. Oh yes, we are talking about the Brit's favourite fish and chips here. Undesirable sights and scents begone, hello crispy fish:)

There are many Hunky Dory franchises all around Melbourne but because I have only tried the one in South Yarra, this blog post only refers to this particular outlet, not the entire franchise as a whole.

Service is fast, ample of seating space and definitely a nice place to catch up with some mates over a cold glass of beer or white wine, if you may.

Grilled fish pack ~ fish of the day with chips and salad. Comes with a generous serve of tartare sauce and lots of chips underneath the fish. Would not say its a mind blowing meal but heck, don't expect fine dining for $13.50, which is pretty much the average cost of a decent main serving.

Feel free to top up your order with other types of fish available on the menu such as barramundi, dory or king george whiting.

Salt n pepper calamari ~ a little soft for my liking although kudos for a good serving size. Comes with a sweet chilli mayo sauce on the side:)

Hunky Dory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nabe One, CBD MELB

Where did November go? I swear, this had been such as crazy (in a good way) month for me. Just about everyday is filled with new agendas be it a personal or work related affair. Alas, I have time to sit down and slowly pen my thoughts with a cup of matcha on hand. More on the matcha obsession in a later post.

I can hardly bypass walking into Emporium in the CBD region no matter how hard I try not to. Aside from it's convenient location it is also a great food hub and surely there is something here for everyone.

I am currently into all things Japanese related and so, I have been craving for food from this part of the orient. In need of a lunch break without having to wrestle my way through a crowd, we decided on Nabe One for a decent bite.

Ramen served with soft shell crab ~ not a big fan of having corn in my  bowl of ramen but aside from that, bonus points have to be awarded for that crunchy piece of deep fried soft shell crab that is not overly soaked in oil.

Tempura ~ I am trying to stick to a healthy regime at the moment so do believe me when I say that the deep fried items here are worth the extra calories. The oil used for deep frying is clean and I am happy to note that there is no annoying burnt pieces that is stuck to my tempura pieces. Would have liked some grated daikon to go with the dipping sauce but hey, that's just a minor point.

Gyu don set ~ the don set comes with a bowl of hot miso soup and a small serve of tofu. The individual ingredients in this gyu don was freshly prepared and still retains a lovely bite as opposed to a soggy, overcooked texture.

Nabe One Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Europe - A piece of cake in Vienna

Home to some of the best musicians in the world, Vienna is more than a place to immense yourself with the classics. Austria was once one of the most powerful European countries and so, it's no surprise that just about everything in Vienna exudes a regal vibe.

Could it be from the magnificent architecture surrounding the city or perhaps the way the locals carry themselves around? So much to comprehend in such a short period of time but for now, let's focus on the main reason I am blogging today: cakes.

Our Trafalgar tour guide brought to our attention how many types of cakes are available in Vienna, much to the dismay of my waistline. First up, we visited Aida which is a popular franchise that started in 1913. Be amazed at the array of cakes available - extremely hard to make a choice.

Hazelnut torte ~ nutty and creamy with the right balance of sweetness.  The cake itself was bordering on the dry side though.

Sacher torte ~ one cannot bypass the famous chocolate cake in Vienna. Just about every shop has one on the menu but the original one came from the Sacher Hotel. Hard to miss this little place when there's a queue outside the cafe! Albeit not having the opportunity to try the original version, I was still pretty happy with this cake from another restaurant. Bundled with chocolate-y goodness, this is a must try for the chocoholics out there.

After wandering around the city, we agreed on a little break. Headed to Gerstner that is smacked right in the middle of the city center and pampered ourselves to a good cup of Vienna coffee, a slice of apple strudel and cheesecake. Gerstner started in 1847 and has even had the opportunity to cater to the royal family in the Schonbrunn Palace once upon a time.

Apple strudel was on point in terms of having the right amount of filling enclosed in the puff pastry. Paired with a good serve of vanilla sauce, this would be a perfect dessert in winter.

Last but not least was a visit to Demel, one of the most popular cake cafes in Vienna. In the earlier days, Demel was the bakery of choice to the royal family, a task that one should be proud of considering the number of competitors in the market. Rumour has it that they still present their cakes during official meetings:)

We had the truffle torte, a rich but still pleasantly light piece of chocolate cake.

I was intrigued by the schneeball grob and ordered it. Crunchy with a honeycomb-meets-biscuit texture, this was an interesting item, in a good way. Probably a little difficult to eat in a ladylike manner due to it's shape but still worth the curiousity.

What is Vienna without a cup of coffee? Thick cream foam blanketing the coffee and with subtle hints of honey included.

On a side note, prices of cakes can range from 4-5euros depending on where you order it. Not overly expensive in comparison to Australian standards - be sure to save up some loose change for a slice of royalty!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Menya Ramen, CBD MELB

Whilst I do have a penchant for western cuisine, these options are sometimes not the most wallet friendly choices for me. A good brunch session with great company is in my "every now and then" books, of which, gives me even more reason to splurge on that extra cup of coffee or menacing piece of cake staring at me at from the front counter. And of course, a reason to wear that top/ dress that I am saving just for that one event. Admit it, I am not the only one haha.

When I am not out and about in my finest (well, slightly more than average effort), you are more likely to find me in an oversized sweater or jacket, my trusty Adidas sneakers and my nerdy pair of glasses. During this "lazy" period of mine, I tend to crave for hearty meals that preferably, costs under $12. Cheapskate mode on.

Much to my delight, I now have a favourite cheap and quick bite outlet just along one of Melbourne Central's alleys. A mix between Japanese and Chinese, one can opt for a warm bowl of ramen or don. Big portions for less than $10. Bonus.

Pork ramen ~ a bit lacking in the protein department but can't really complain about the price.

Gyu don ~ a big bowl of rice topped with marinated slices of beef, translucent onion pieces, shreddedd carrots and peas. The beef was so well marinated and drenched with it to the extent whereby I can easily finish this myself. I am not a big rice eater but will make an exception for this one.

Menya Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tipo 00, CBD MELB

Recently awarded best casual dining in Melbourne by the Australia Good Food Guide (AGFG), expectations were high before I even set foot into the restaurant. The restarant was fully booked out for the night but we were offered seats at the bar which can accommodate about 8 diners. No rest for the wicked indeed as staff members can be seen zipping around diners and the kitchen, and remaining calm/ composed throughout this hectic dinner service.

We did not have a must-try dish that night and decided to opt for the chef's menu. Ok, fine, I did a little background research prior and was secretly pleased to know that the chef's menu had a few of the dishes that I wanted to try. The rest will have to be a surprise:)

Mushroom arancini ~ these were beyond amazing in terms of texture and flavour. Each little ball has a good dose of earthy aroma from the mushrooms and all the softness from the risotto is counteracted by the thin, crisp exterior coating.

Burrata cheese, heirloom tomatoes and sour dough ~ this reminded me of a traditional Spanish breakfast and I can imagine that a similar concept happens in Italy. I have tried everything on the plate separately to better understand their flavour profile and once I combined every bit of it on the spoon, it brought back fond memories of my European travels.

Lingua ~ grilled ox tongue, balsamic vinegar and pink peppercorns. I am not one to appreciate exotic parts of an animal and found this difficult to consume. The addition of the balsamic vinegar reduction alleviated the strong taste from the ox tongue though. Thumbs up for the evenly sliced and grilled ox tongue pieces that must have been a tedious kitchen task.

Tagliolini al nero ~ squid ink tagliolini, squid and bottarga. I loved how fresh this entire dish was. The sauce or dressing that comes with the tagliolini was mildly acidic and has a lovely perfume to it.

Gnocchi di patate ~ braised duck, porcini mushroom and pecorino pepato. Gnocchi was pillowy soft and came in bite sized pieces, perfect for mingling with the stronger flavours coming from the cheese and duck.

Insalata de radicchio ~ rocket, pear and balsamic. A classic combination to freshen up your palate in between the mains. Gotta try using this pairing for my own salad meals!

Pannacotta with hibiscus, blueberries and vermouth ~ always my favourite part to any meal, a lot rides on this to deliver and it did, Admittedly, I am no fan of pannacotta but am officially converted after that night. Silky smooth with a slight wobble effect, this neutral flavoured dessert pairs well with the acidic elements on the plate. For every pannacotta fan out there, this is highly recommended in my books.

Tipomisu ~ no strange to desserts, tiramisu is a must have to end any Italian meals. I was hoping to get a bigger portion for this favourite dessert of mine haha. Hands down the best tiramisu I have had - decadent,fudgey chocolate cake infused with a good kick of caffeine, drizzled with salted caramel sauce and surrounded by the milder flavoured mascarpone cheese. Such an amazing dessert and one that I will happily knock on their doors for more.

Tipo 00 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Strawberry crumble cake recipe

After stumbling upon cartons and cartons of strawberries at recent supermarket visits, I was determined to bake a strawberry cake. I wanted a little more oomph and thought long before I decided on incorporating a rose infused icing that will hopefully pair well with the strawberries' sweetness.
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
 1. Mix all the above ingredients together until a crumble/ sand texture is achieved.

1/2 pound strawberries, quartered
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
113.4g butter
1 cup icing sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Cream butter with icing sugar and slowly incorporate eggs and vanilla essence.
2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Fold wet ingredients into flour mixture, pour into a square baking tin.
3. Evenly spread the quartered strawberries and crumble on the cake mixture and bake at 160C for 30 minutes or until done.
4. Mix about a cup of icing sugar with rose essence until a thick, fluid-y consistency is achieved. Pour onto cake and allow to set before serving.

I have also made an Asian inspired white sangria using canned lychee, nashi pears and oranges. Not a bad idea when the weather is scorching hot!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Tina's Noodle Kitchen, CBD MELB

Last weekend showcased Melbourne's ability to have four seasons in one day. Sunny in the afternoon and chilly cold in the morning after a heavy downpour. Seeing as we will be transitioning into summer soon, we decided to take full advantage of the cooler weather by indulging in a bowl of spicy broth, again.

Packed full just like it's sister, Dainty Sichuan. Tina's Noodle Kitchen is flooding with customers despite us walking in close to 3pm. Order your food at the front counter, get a number and wait for food to be served.

Watermelon frappe ~ whilst more like blended watermelon, this was popular amongst the China Chinese customers as it seems to help cool down their tastebuds after gorging on the fiery hot broth.

Spicy pork chitterlings ~ I believe chitterlings refer to innards and if you're not a fan of these special parts but still want to sample their signature broth, why not opt for the version with fish fillets or beef slices? We waited for a good 20 minutes for the entire pot/ bowl to cool down otherwise we run the risk of burning our palates yikes! Still about 60% hot after waiting for a while, the broth did not disappoint. However, exercise caution is spicy is not your calling.

Mushrooms in stock soup ~ a very simple bowl of noodles with a good variety of mushrooms in it. Definitely a vegetarian option and bonus points if you're into clear broths too.

Tina's Noodle Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, November 2, 2015

Ichi Ichi Ku, South Yarra MELB

To me, Japanese food is the epitome of simplicity. By using the freshest ingredients available, one does not need to beat around the bush when it comes to preparing a good meal. Brownie points if it's of a remarkable quality too.

Some may know me as an adventurous foodie but in reality, I tend to stick to a pretty boring cycle when I am not out there to impress friends. And so, to break this vicious routine, a restaurant or cafe must have something unique that will lure me to it - not that this is a hard task to do, really;)

Ichi Ichi Ku is located a few tram stops out of Melbourne CBD, making it a potential dining option if you want to escape from the city crowd. The restaurant operates on a first come first serve basis as it is a tiny outlet so if you do arrive during peak hours with a big crowd of peeps, be prepared to wait. Service is attentive and friendly - one can easily catch the attention of a waiting staff within seconds.

Tuna tataki ~ lightly seared tuna with soy sauce, yuzu and shallot dressing. The acidity from the yuzu compliments the sweetness from the tuna well and the shallot dressing provided just the right amount of freshness to the dish. Very simple but done perfectly.

Spider roll ~ deep fried soft shell crab, avocado, cucumber and tartare sauce. One thing I did note throughout my time here is that the restaurant's theme is also based on healthy eating. By healthy eating I mean saying no to greasy deep fried food or fatty base sauces that will hike up your cholesterol levels. The soft shell crab here was not dripping in oil nor had the dreadful aftertaste that usually happens when cooking oil is recycled. Overall, one of the better soft shell crab rolls I have had in Melbourne.

Sushi nigiri mixed ~ the nigiri here is made using brown rice, something that's not commonly seen in most restaurants. Every piece of nigiri had been handled with care and beautifully plated. Only downside to ordering a sushi or sashimi platter is the cost. Not exactly the most affordable if you are famished.

Salmon teriyaki & mayo hako sushi ~ one of my favourites for the night purely based on the fact that it was so neatly prepared and tastes sensational. I had expected the mayo to overpower the taste of the salmon but thankfully, the chef exercised caution with it. The sushi pieces appear in uniform block pieces - a shape that I have never seen before in any Japanese restaurants. This will be the dish to order if you are feeling peckish.

Beef yakiniku don ~ I love the generous amount of sauce that evenly coats every piece of beef and just about every grain of rice. The don comes with a small serve of pickles on the side so that can be used as a palate cleanser. Only downside to this dish is that the beef was slightly overcooked and hence, bordering on the dry side.

Matcha tiramisu ~ whilst I can't really say this is a tiramisu, it is a delicious piece of cheesecake. Not overly sweet, slightly tart from the cheese and packed full of green tea aroma. This sums up the night well and basically sent me to cloud 9.

  Ichi Ichi Ku Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato