Friday, June 19, 2015

Din Tai Fung (Melbourne)

The infamous Din Tai Fung has finally opened its doors to Melburnians this week. And did it live up to the hype?

Having eaten in a few of their branches around the world including their original Taipei restaurant, the Melbourne branch has lots to improve. There wasn't a proper waiting system. Customers were given a number and menu and told to come back and check every so often. Somehow one would think Din Tai Fung (Melbourne) would have learnt a few tips and tricks from their other branches before opening here.

Queuing up for good food has become the norm in Melbourne but the wait time has to be accurate or take one's contact number and call  when the table is ready. Tip for you, Din Tai Fung (Melbourne) - you better under-promise and over-deliver and not the other way around. Going back twice and being told to come back a third time with no guarantee of a table is not acceptable.

Service: :star
Quality of food: -
Value for money: -

Type of venue: Taiwanese

Worth a return visit? No.

Address: Level 4, Emporium, 287 Lonsdale Street

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio

South Yarra is certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to dessert options and Burch and Purchese will not disappoint. The cabinate display is so tempting that numerous impulse purchases have been made. Their various spreads are pretty good too but don't have much of a shelf life so it would be good if they made smaller jars for singles or couples. 

67% Madagascan Single Origin Chocolate and Tonka Bean Eclair  - Chocolaty but not overly sweet due to the high quality dark chocolate used.

Service: :star :star :star :star :star
Quality of food: :star :star :star :star :star
Value for money: :star :star :star :star :star

Type of venue: Dessert

Worth a return visit? Yes.

Address: 647 Chapel Street,  South Yarra VIC 3141

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Monday, June 15, 2015


Entrecôte is a French steakhouse located on Domain Road opposite the Botanic Gardens. Loved it! Wonderful service, food and decor. You have a few options for entree and dessert but main is a simple choice between the ever popular steak or a veg/pescatarian option. Limitless sliced baguette, fries and salad is a nice touch. Just a shame we didn't have dessert this time. The heated outdoor seating looks cosy enough for dessert and drinks.

French onion soup ($17.90) - Served with gruyère crouton, the soup had a light onion flavour and wasn't too salty. Perfect with the gruyère.

Steak Frites ($39.90) - Grilled Hopkins River Porterhouse, frites, sauce maison au berre et aux herbs. Accompanied with limitless crispy thin fries and soft leaves - radish, walnuts, Dijon vinaigrette. Steak is cooked to order and had it medium rare. Delicious! Had an extra serving of salad and it was so satisfying.

Salmon Confit ($39.90) - Tender and perfectly cooked salmon. Simple and delicious.

Service: :star :star :star :star :star
Quality of food: :star :star :star :star :star
Value for money: :star :star :star :star :star 

Type of venue: French. 

Worth a return visit? Yes.

Address: 131-133 Domain Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Lucky Penny

Those who are after a quick brekkie or lunch in South Yarra will certainly get their fix at Lucky Penny. A smallish cafe but with consistently good drinks and food available. This time we had:

Pork belly roll - Apple coleslaw, sriracha mayo, crackling (AU$14) - We reckon they make some of the best rolls out there. Served on soft Turkish bread, the filling is very generous and great to have when you are feeling particularly famished. All the flavours work well together as you have sweetness and crispness from the apple, spiciness and richness from the mayo, and the crunch from the crispy crackling.

Fried cauliflower - with hummus, coriander, cashew cream, a poached egg and charred bread (AU$16) - Perfectly cooked cauliflower, they are slightly charred on the outside and so meltingly soft. Generous serving that goes well with the poached egg and cashew cream. A great veg option.

Service: :star :star :star :star ½
Quality of food: :star :star :star :star :star
Value for money: :star :star :star :star :star

Type of venue: Cafe

Worth a return visit? Yes.

Address: 481 Chapel St, South Yarra VIC 3141

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Tenmatsu is a must try for those after a superior tempura restaurant in Tokyo. Located just outside Mitsukoshi-mae station, we were seated at the counter while the chef prepared an amazing meal for us. Choose from several set options. We had:

Entree - didn't quite catch what the hostess mentioned but she asked if we wanted something seasonal as an entree and we said yes. It was a wonderful seafood appetiser, fresh and tangy, and certainly got the tastebuds going.

Take set - 6 pieces of tempura: shrimp, fish, vegetables (¥5400) - Substantial tempura set with fresh ingredients, you get an extra serving of fish compared to the Ume set. You get to choose your own vegetable tempura from a basket of goodies and the shrimp is prepared fresh in front of you; still alive and kicking. The tempura batter is light and crispy and expertly fried.

Ume set - 5 pieces of tempura: shrimp, fish, vegetable (¥4320) - Good amount of tempura courses and very good value. As mentioned, you get pretty much everything that the more expensive options have.

Bowl of rice with tendon (¥2700) - Shrimp, veg and fish pancake tempura served on top a bowl of rice. It was accompanied with a tendon sauce on top and was quite tasty.

Service: :star :star :star :star :star
Quality of food: :star :star :star :star :star
Value for money: :star :star :star :star :star 

Type of venue: Japanese,  Tempura

Worth a return visit? Yes.

Address: 1-8-2 Muromachi, Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 103-0022

Broadsheet Restaurant

Went to the Broadsheet restaurant at about 11 a.m. today. It wasn't very busy which was quite surprising. After all, food markets and the like have always been very popular. It is on from the 5th of June to the 2nd of Aug with a separate day and nighttime menu. We had:

Toasted Reuben sandwich on dark rye with corned brisket, sauerkraut, Swiss and Russian dressing from Five Points Deli (AU$17) - Generous, juicy and tasty. Well done and it certainly makes us want to check out Five Points Deli.

Quality of food: :star :star :star :star ½
Value for money: :star :star :star :star ½

Type of venue: American, Sandwiches,  Deli

Worth a return visit? Yes.

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Roasted yellow duck curry with jasmine rice from Coda (AU$24) - Simple duck leg curry. However, a bit too sweet and would have loved a bit more of the spice mixture to come through. Also, there was nothing else in the curry; just the meat and sauce. Surely some vegetables would have gone into the curry? Disappointed with it.

Quality of food: :star :star  ½
Value for money: :star :star ½

Type of venue: Modern Australian, Fusion

Worth a return visit? No.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Satu Produk

Satu Produk Durian (literal translation being One Durian Product) is located in Melbourne's Chinatown. As its name suggests, the star of this place is all things durian. We were here prior to its grand opening and also recently. The menu now has English on it too. Perfect for durian lovers or those interested in trying this fruit. We had:

Durian, Durian Ice Cream and Coconut Jelly - A cold durian dessert with shaved ice, durian, durian ice cream and coconut jelly. Sweet, slightly milky and quite a nice durian flavour throughout. Wish the shaved ice was smoother and not as chunky. A nice change from the usual shaved ice dessert options out there.

Durian Pancakes - Thin crepe with durian and cream filling. You certainly can't miss the durian aroma and flavour in this. Quite light and nice.

Service: :star :star :star :star  ½
Quality of food: :star :star :star :star ½
Value for money: :star :star :star :star :star 

Type of venue: Chinese Dessert

Worth a return visit? Yes.

Address: 206-218 Bourke St, Melbourne 3000

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Gion Maruyama

Gion Maruyama (Two Michelin Stars) is an amazing Kyoto-style Kaiseki restaurant. The service was excellent and we were in our very own private room enjoying multiple courses filled with seasonal ingredients. Chef Maruyama was kind enough to prepare the live Ayu in front of us and fresh Ayu has a watermelon scent. We spent about AU$650 but the amazing service by the kimono-clad hostesses, Chef Maruyama and the wonderful atmosphere was completely worth it.

All the dishes were carefully prepared using local seasonal ingredients. They not only looked wonderful but tasted amazing. We had:

Tea and Japanese bamboo wine followed by sakizuke (first dish served in Kyo-Kaiseki) to whet one's appetite. 

The sakizuke was slices of raw sea bream, horse beans and carp eggs dressed with miso sauce, vinegar and Japanese mustard.

Next came sushi rice containing sea bream and pepper-tree leaf wrapped in bamboo leaves, sushi rice containing conger eel and ginger wrapped in oak leaf and other side dishes to symbolise a good start to the May Festival.

After that, we had a soup bowl filled with wonderful seasonal ingredients like Japanese tilefish, plum, pumpkin and hen-of-the-wood mushrooms. It was also accompanied with a sashimi dish comprising of sea bream, toro and cuttlefish. It was the best toro we have ever had but sadly we got too excited and forgot to take a photo of this course.

The main dishes were then prepared by Chef Maruyama. The Ayu (swimming around just seconds ago in front of us) were expertly prepared and even deboned. They were prepared several ways including with salt and sour knotweed sauce, soy and sake.

It was accompanied with broiled bamboo shoot and grilled rice-balls among other things.

This was then followed by a Japanese shabu shabu dish of clam and tofu in a ponzu sauce.

We also had a hollowed out Japanese mandarin orange containing fried scallop, leek, mushrooms and asparagus, and some beef with sweet sake and ginger as well as an out-of-this-world wonderfully sweet tomato.

The final course before dessert comprised of miso soup, rice with sea bream (wonderful fish aroma and taste) and Japanese pickles.

Dessert was a simple but excellent end to the night. We had bracken-starch pastry, shaddock, strawberry and banana sherbet.

Service: :star :star :star :star :star
Quality of food: :star :star :star :star :star
Value for money: :star :star :star :star :star 

Type of venue: Japanese,  Kaiseki

English menu: No menu. Omakase.

Worth a return visit? Yes.

Address: 570-171 Minamigawa, Gionmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

DOC Pizza and Mozarella Bar

DOC Pizza and Mozarella Bar is our go to place for delicious pizza and other Italian favourites. We have been to all their different locations and tried almost everything on the menu including their special pizzas. This time we had:

Pizza with free range eggs emulsion Pecorino Romano and guanciale (AU$25.90) - One of two specials on the board. We have had this before and it is essentially a carbonara pizza. Yum! The cured pork cheek is salty and crispy and all the ingredients go so well together. As always, a perfectly made pizza.

Radicchio salad with shaved fennel, DOP gorgonzola and balsamic (AU$14.90) - A wonderfully fresh salad. The blue cheese adds a slight saltiness and creaminess to this salad and the sweetness from the balsamic goes well with the bitterness from the radicchio.

Service: :star :star :star :star :star
Quality of food: :star :star :star :star :star
Value for money: :star :star :star :star :star 

Type of venue: Italian,  Pizza

Worth a return visit? Yes.

Address: 135 Victoria Ave, Albert Park VIC.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pop-up Dessert Bar

All dessert lovers will appreciate what Anna Polyviou has to offer at her latest 'Pop-up Dessert Bar' at the Shangri-La Hotel (Sydney) . Her carrot cake was crowned the 2014 Australian Dessert of the Year and also featured on Masterchef AU on Monday 25th May.

Carrot cake,  apricot and carrot gel,  praline cremeux and yellow graffiti (AU$8.50) - This isn't your traditional carrot cake. The carrot cake base has a really good carrot and walnut flavour and I think I could eat that on its own. No cream cheese on the cake but the praline cremeux compliments it very well.
Get your hands on this quick. Available until 15th June.

Service: :star :star :star :star :star
Quality of food: :star :star :star :star :star
Value for money: :star :star :star :star :star 

Type of venue: Dessert

Address: 176 Cumberland St, Sydney NSW 2000

Monday, June 1, 2015


For those after a Nara speciality which is sushi wrapped in persimmon leaf (kakinoha sushi), Hiraso is definitely the place to go to and there are many set lunches to choose from. We had:

Yaezakura set (¥3785) - A very substantial set consisting of Nara's speciality dish as well as sesame tofu, side dishes, grilled Ayu, chagayu (tea based porridge), Japanese Pickles and Japanese sweets. The deliciously sweet Ayu had been boiled until soft, then lightly grilled so it can be eaten from head to tail, bones and all. The Chagayu was light and we really enjoyed the roasted rice tea flavour.

Mahorobo set (¥2300) - Consists of a side dish, sesame tofu, kakinoha sushi, sashimi, miwa soumen and seasonal dessert. This set certainly showcases the delicious persimmon leaf wrapped sushi that this region is famous for.

Service: :star :star :star :star :star
Quality of food: :star :star :star :star :star 
Value for money: :star :star :star :star :star 
Type of venue: Japanese, Nara specialty

Worth a return visit? Yes

Address: 30-1 Imamikado-cho, Nara