Saturday, April 28, 2018

Urban Grooves Cafe, Greensborough MELB

Relatives or friends visiting Melbourne is an opportunity itself to venture into a foreign suburb and perhaps find a hidden gem. In an edible form, of course.

First visit on a Sunday evening and an Australian restaurant was picked seeing as it comprised of safe meal options such as pizzas, pastas, burgers and the usual parmigiana/ fish and chips fare. Service was friendly and attentive; made us feel welcomed and at ease.

Salt and pepper calamari - served with house made aioli. Priced at $25, the portion was generous, calamari bites were crisp and perfectly seasoned.

Seafood pizza - I do have my reservations when ordering seafood dishes outside in case I get disappointed by the quality of seafood used. I had been previously horrified at a cafe when a plate of pasta topped with miniature shrimps appeared instead of prawns as stated on the menu. To my surprise, the pieces used here were certainly fresh, juicy and again, generous. Loved how this was a thin crust pizza too.

Greek lamb skewers - served with tzatziki, fries, salad and garlic herb pita bread. Lamb pieces were juicy and well marinated.

Greek lamb pizza - the aunty was keen on having lamb as part of her Aussie tour and we were only more than happy to play along. Pizza was well prepared, topped with just the right amount of lamb pieces, tomato and tzatziki, each complimenting each other well.

A meal does not end without something sweet to sum up the event. Hot chocolate was one of the better ones I have had in Melbourne - creamy, not overly sweet and the right quantity too.

Apple crumble tart - delicious and best served warm. I am personally a fan of chunky crumb toppings and would have loved if this little fella was topped with it. Nevertheless, still yummy.

Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce - best served warm and drizzled with the right amount of sauce. Sinfully delicious and loved every bite of the cake soaked in the sauce.

Urban Grooves Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

HWKR Food Centre, CBD MELB

Two weeks ago, the sister and I finished work at close to 5pm, both equally weary after an intensive day. Train commuters like ourselves loathe being packed like a can of sardines during peak hours and so, we decided to have dinner prior to heading home.

HWKR has been around for a few months now and a place that I have avoided knowing that there is a potential line up for dinner. At 5.30pm, we managed to easily get seats and food arrived at our table in good time.

Akin a hawker establishment, diners simply need to head to the various food counters for ordering. Just remember to take note of the table number!

First up was Chanteen, made famous by Masterchef winner Diana Chan. With a Malaysian inspired menu, all ringing familiar bells in my tummy, I was drawn towards the char kuey teow and have ordered a barley drink to share with the sister.

The verdict? Easily one of the better char kuey teows in Melbourne. Albeit costing a bit more compared to other places, you do get what you have paid for. Generous amount of ingredients, all cooked to perfection.

Next up was Khao, also an Asian inspired hawker outlet. We shared a plate of the roasted Shanghai duck and a bowl of lotus chips. Duck was decent although not something I would rave about. Chips were well seasoned and extremely addictive.

No visit to HWKR is complete without a glimpse of KOI, established by a Masterchef favourite based in Sydney. Would loved to have a taste of his freshly prepared desserts but both of us could only manage a petite piece of cake each.

Loved what we have ordered - vibrant tasting, not overly sweet and each ingredient worked harmoniously with each other. Worth the calories for sure. Sadly, KOI's last day is on the 29th of April and so, it would take a plane and train ride to visit them in Sydney.

Chanteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Khao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato KOI Dessert Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, April 23, 2018

Slow roasted spiced lamb recipe

About three weeks ago, we celebrated Easter. Whilst not the most festive event of the year for the bunch of us due to minor misunderstandings, we still managed to scrap up a decent feed worthy of the purpose of Easter.

Rather than spend hours slaying over a hot stove attempting a traditional roast served alongside salad and perhaps a bowl of roasted potatoes heavily perfumed with rosemary or Italian herbs, I have made do with what I have in the spice cabinet and carefully marinate every inch of the lamb with it.

No fancy dinners for us and instead, we ended up with a somewhat simplified version of it - burgers. Paired slivers of lamb with arugula leaves, slapped on a good serve of beetroot tzatziki and put all these in between two toasted pieces of burger buns.

1.5kg leg of lamb
3/4 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
About 5 pieces of dried bay leaves
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ginger powder
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup of brown sugar
4 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
A drizzle of sherry vinegar
A drizzle of olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

1. Mix all the spices along with the fluid ingredients prior to marinating the lamb with it. Make a few thin incisions along the lamb meat as this allows more contact between the marinade and meat.
2. Slow roast for about 5 to 6 hours at 170C. Use aluminium foil to wrap the meat with as this prevents it from drying in the oven.
3. Serve warm.

Goes well in sandwiches but also delicious when paired with pasta or if used as a pie filling. Did have leftover juices in the pan to which, I used it to coat the leftover meat with.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Morris Jones, Windsor MELB

A few days ago, I was invited by the team at Morris Jones to sample their new California Japanese menu as part of their newly executed concept. Incorporating well loved Asian flavours into innovative, modern dishes, I was looking forward to check this place out.

Our waiter was very attentive towards our needs and gave us a detailed run down of each item on the menu, paying emphasis towards our likes and dislikes. The restaurant has a tasting menu for those who are unsure of what to order and I think this is an excellent idea as it allows diners to have bite sized portions of just about everything there is to offer.

White chocolate passionfruit martini - I am hopeless when it comes to ordering cocktails but hey, am still learning. Thankfully, the waiter was quick to point out a crowd favourite to which, I did enjoy immensely. Not overly dosed in alcohol and carries a subtle scent of passionfruit that matches well with the sweetness from the white chocolate.

Spicky king prawn and avocado roll, bamboo charcoal prawn tempura - WL and I were equally hungry after a long day at work and so, this was our only entree prior to the mains. Freshly prepared to order and has a good balance of sweetness from the prawns, acidity from the sushi rice and spiciness from the mayonnaise. Charcoal prawn tempura gave the overall dish a lovely crunch factor.

Crab and uni nachos, 'chipotle queso' dashi chips - for those wanting to stray from traditional fare, this may tickle your fancy. One of the lightest mains I have had and is akin eating chips topped with sauce. Certainly healthier than a standard bowl of chips except a little more luxurious with the addition of crab and uni.

Crisp pork belly salad, chicharrons and ginger caramel - I could easy finish the entire plate myself and secretly had imagined eating this with freshly steamed buns. For those unfamiliar, chicharron is basically a piece of deep fried pork fat that has bubbled and expanded in the cooking process. No meaty dish is complete without some refreshing herbs and vegetables to cleanse the palate with. Oh and did I mention that each cube of pork is almost symmetrical?

As I was having an almost vegetarian diet the entire week, this plate of beef was a tasty change to my regime. Cooked medium rare and still dripping in its juices, this was a delicious meal and one that I would happily reorder again. Right amount of sauce to dress the beef with too!

Cherry blossom roasted duck with soy and sweet plum sauce - I can't decide if I loved the beef dish or this fella more. Yes, duck is a favourite of mine and I would usually order this in favour of other types of protein. Crisp skin enclosing a thin layer of fat and pinkish flesh, we found this divine and best consumed dipped in approximately half a teaspoon of sauce.

'Violet crumble' chocolate cremeux, violet ice cream and nitro honeycomb - We ended our meal with this theatrical dessert. Despite being paired with bolder flavours such as chocolate and honeycomb, the violet flavour was still evident throughout the dessert. A very floral and fun play on the palate.

Morris Jones Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, April 16, 2018

Vietnamese caramel pork recipe

This year, I intend on going back to my old routine of publishing at least two recipe posts in a fortnight. I have been cooking a lot at home lately but sadly, I have lost interest in proper food photography and have drawn myself into the habit of snapping pictures with my iphone.

And without further delay (well, a three month delay actually), this would be my first recipe blog post for the year :) I have been experimenting on simple, one pot recipes due to my hectic schedule and this one from RecipeTinEats is such a simple, delicious one embodying all my favourite sensations aka sweet, salty and sticky. I have modified some of the ingredients slightly in order to use up what I have in the pantry haha.

As the pork skin looked like it would turn out rubbery if I let it cook in the pot, I sliced it off and made it into crackling pork skin. Simply place pork skin under a broiler, set at 170 to 180C.

100g dark brown sugar
1 tbsp water
1kg pork shoulder, cubed
375ml coconut water
2 shallots, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fish sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place water and brown sugar in a pot over medium heat and stir until the sugar has melted and appears to be caramelizing.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring quickly and ensuring to evenly coat every cube of pork. Lower heat until it appears to be simmering gently.
3. Allow to simmer for 1 hour or until the sauce appears to have thickened, without the pot cover, stirring every now and then.
4. Ensure the sauce thickens throughout the cooking process as this would give you that lovely caramelized, sticky sensation at the end.
5. Serve with rice, garnished with chopped chilli or spring onions :)

Cutler & Co, Fitzroy MELB

It's been almost a month since we dined here but more importantly, it's a mini achievement for myself knowing that I am able to move on gracefully despite the bumps along the journey. WL's short temper often gets him into trouble but during challenging moments, I am surprised at how well he managed to turn the situation around.

Service is very personalized here and our waitress was most attentive. Do note that this place can get very busy which may make it difficult to flag down a staff member but regardless, your request would be attended to soonest possible ;)

I love good house bread and this was no exception. A thin, crisp crust encloses this fluffy, porous piece of bread that has a strangely mesmerising yeasty aroma. Oh and kudos to the creamy quenelles of butter. Both of us loved the miso flavoured version:)

Bonito crudo, orange and dashi dressing, cultured cream and witlof - a light start to the meal.

Roast suckling pig, Japanese turnips, shittake and mustard leaf - sauce had been reduced to a thick, delicious consistency which goes well with the soft pork flesh. Overall flavours married well and excellent execution of textural elements.

Smoked maple glazed duck served two ways. I am a huge fan of duck dishes and this version from Cutler and Co ticked all the right boxes for me. Meat was cooked medium rare, skin was crisp and the sauce was had a brilliant sweet, savoury taste to it, making it all the more enticing. A favourite dish of the night :)

Poached quince and liquorice, confit leg, bitter leaves and walnut dressing - utilizing the detache-able bits of the duck, this dish was again packed with a myriad of textures and savoury/ fruity flavours to tantalise our taste buds. Every single ingredient had been well prepared and a dish that I cannot fault.

After taking my time to savour the duck, I was too full to have dessert. Rarely do I miss desserts but ending the meal on a good note was not a bad choice either. Complimentary petite fours in the form of chocolate truffles and jellies were presented to us, a final attempt at sweetening up the night for us.

Cutler & Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Hatter and the Hare, Bayswater MELB

Driving towards Bayswater brought back bittersweet memories of my early days in Melbourne. For one, I recalled dreading to wake up every morning despite feeling blessed to have actually set foot alright here. Moving forth, I never did pass this area again after I commenced work at a different site.

The cafe was rather busy for an Easter sunday and were lucky enough to be seated rather quickly. Our eyes were equally spoilt by the tempting array of baked goods on display at the front counter.

Iced chocolate - a little too watered down to my liking and reminded me of a commercially available chocolate milk I used to have as a teen.

Chai latte - lacked the required chai aroma from the spices.

Benedictine adventure - brisket, rosti, pickles, fried potatoes, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Delicious little number although would have preferred the portion to be slightly bigger considering that it costs $23.

Chase the white rabbit - chilli scrambled eggs, mushrooms, toast, goat's cheese and candied chilli. Scrambled eggs were delicious although some might find it a tad spicy. Loved how the salty cheese married well with the other milder flavoured ingredients like the mushroom.

Cakes - the cafe is known for their cakes and yes, I do agree that the cakes taste as pretty as they look. Did not manage to try every single one but for the ones we had, we thought the flavours were well balanced and sweetness levels were on point.

Do yourself a favour and have piece (or two!)

I suppose the biggest let down in my books were the beverages but aside from that, it is a decent little cafe hidden in the heart of Bayswater. Hello old memories :p

The Hatter and the Hare Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, April 9, 2018

ChangGo, Melbourne CBD

Each season symbolizes a certain type of cuisine for me and without a doubt, Korean it is for the cooler season. Think hot pots and barbeques, both providing warmth to the surrounding diners patiently awaiting for it.

ChangGo is one of the many places I have read good reviews on but also one of the few that I hesitated due to their no booking policy which often leads to long waiting times. Service is quick although probably could improve on in terms of attentiveness during busy periods.

Maekgoli - doubt I have spelt this correctly but nothing makes me happier than a sip of alcohol to warm myself up from the inside, in anticipation of what's to come next.

Seafood hot pot - part of a set meal for 4, priced at $88. Overall not too bad but not something that you would bank on for a lot of protein.

Beef - wouldn't say it's the best quality piece out in the market but somehow the char-grilled aroma gave it a character upgrade. Tastes even better when paired with the side sauces, all wrapped in a lettuce leaf.

Seafood pancake - one of the best ones I have had in Melbourne. Crisp, fluffy and generous with its ingredients. Would happily come back to reorder this fella.

8 flavours of pork belly - priced at an additional $48, we ordered this separately after reading about its popularity. Wine, original, garlic, herbs, pepper, curry, soybean and gochujang flavoured, each dish weighed approximately the same. Favourite flavour would have to be the garlic and soybean version.

Overall, it is a good place to get your feed's worth although bear in mind that the queues can get insane during peak hours. On the plus side, staff don't hurry you to leave nor is there a time limit which often occurs at busy establishments.

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