Thursday, May 24, 2012

LBB - Oli & Levi - Guava Bean - Ramen Ya - Koko Black

(Been a tad busier than usual, so this procrastination is almost justifiable!)

The week starts on Monday, often with a trip to some new breakfast place. 

Little Bean Blue (15 Little Collins St) had been on the to-go list for quite a while, so a hop, skip and jump from Parliament station and L and I were seated in the confines of the minimalistic room, enjoying the first coffee of the morning.
L's flat white ($3.80)
 We're not coffee experts. I can't tell you the different in taste between single origin or blends, or comment on the subtler notes; I do what alot of us 'uneducated' ones do: take in the aroma, continually sip, and indulge in the smooth bitterness of the caffeinated drink. The way I tell whether its 'good' is the feeling it gives me, and LBB offered a soft, comforting rug in a cup, wrapping its figurative arms around me and filling me with a pleasant warmth. The initial spoon of foam and sip was surprisingly dark, then mellowed out with every consequent sip.

Interesting characteristic.

Today's afternoon return confirmed it wasn't a one-off. I was feeling for something to accompany the cup this time, but flies helping themselves to the pastries scared me away.

Simple decorations

Oli & Levi (20 Coromandel Place, turn in from Lt. Collins st) followed closely afterwards. Much to my delight, it was one of those cafe's where, on entering, a wave of hot air welcomes you and does away with the violent cold of winter.Admittedly, there isn't much else to behold. The room is small, but cosy, with a large communal table in the centre and one (or was it two?) smaller tables in the corner.

On offer that morning were a small array of sweets - muffins, little brownies - and breakfast pastries. L had something involving egg and feta, while I went with the egg and sundried tomato option. Nothing particularly noteworthy, but it's a cheap morsel at $1.50 for each one.
Piping macarons.
Dessert is (potentially) the best part of a meal. So why not have more of it? Ours were macarons from Guava Bean/Little Feat (114 Russell Street, corner Lt. Collins st). It's a small space, with seating for 10 or less. There's even a $5 deal for a coffee + macaron for that afternoon break :)

Heard of David Choi? He came to Melbourne for a concert about two weeks back and visited here..except I missed it again. Go away bad timing, nobody likes you ;__; But back on track..
From L to R: Hazelnut, chocolate, blueberry and matcha
L liked her blueberry bite with its intense flavour. Maybe my choices of hazelnut and the chocolate one just happened to be their weaker points. I thought they were rather crumbly, and couldn't discern any nutty taste. Texture wise, those at La Belle Miette are forever the Kings.

Little Feat Macarons on Urbanspoon
Wednesday lunch: Tonkatsu Charshu Ramen @ Ramen Ya (Shop 25G Melbourne GPO 350 Bourke St). Not a fan of bamboo shoots, but they didn't smell too badly here. Soup was outrageously saline as usual, but the pork was surprisingly good. The fat melted in the mouth, but since it was thinly sliced, the sensation as wasn't satisfying as it could have been. But at $10 a bowl, they've got to be a bit stingy :P
Dessert at Koko Black.. (52 Collins St) We stayed long enough so all the tables had emptied ^^;
The above assortment of chocolatey treats ($13.50) will be the ones to blame for any future cavities. If milk chocolate's your thing, go for it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Reading Room Cafe

Reading Room Cafe (Victoria University)
88 Ballarat Rd Building P 

Footscray, VIC 3011

Ah, it's been a while since a breakfast post, and I'm delighted to say that I've finally crossed off another place on the wishlist! We tend to celebrate Mother's Day earlier or later in the month to avoid the crowds, and this year I decided to take her to Cibi for their famous Japanese breakfast except..I very selfishly rolled over in bed, swiped the snooze button and went on dreaming for another while.

"What a terrible daughter!"

Is what you're probably thinking, and I know! When the visual image of sheep jumping over fence did clear I flew into a wild frenzy and, determined not to disappoint, decided the belated Mother's Day breakfast was still to be had - just somewhere closer.

On weekends they also do high tea - my mum loves her coffee + cake, so this was perfect! Not to mention that for 8 weeks (currently Week 6) they're donating 20% of their proceeds to local charities is well, so there's another reason why you should bolt over when you're free :)
The usual latte. I've learnt to leave the judging to the coffee enthusiasts; all I can say is it smelt and tasted seductively good.
Sweet corn, pumpkin & coriander fritters plus poached eggs, avocado and tomato chutney
I'm afraid it's been years since I've last picked up a proper book so I'm not sure what Fritter's Lane was a play on, the only two I recognised were by Dickens and Shakespeare. Back on the topic of food, the exterior was very crispy and the inside soft, though a tad doughy. There's the inherent taste of a prominent spice I don't know the name of :/ Enjoyed the chutney and loved the eggs. There's something magical about delicately piercing the film and watching the golden river flow across the plate. All the wonderful colours!
Roasted pork belly & apple and zucchini remoulade, coriander, chilli jam and
toasted flatbread
Eleena (one of the owners) was very friendly and recommended Crackle & Pop because her mum liked it as well. This was to the Mother's tastes as she prefers simpler flavours that don't stray too far from Asian cuisine. The generous serving was surprising, so much that she only finished one slab, and there still wasn't room for tea afterwards ._____. as to my thoughts...

This. Was. Woahwieskjdzngvx, Amazing. Better than Hutong. As soon as I placed a piece of fat in my mouth it melted across the tongue and was gone. Remoulade was very creamy and a refreshing break from decadent pork.

While I don't attend VU I'm very tempted to after this satisfying meal :D

Prices: Fritter's Lane 14.50
             Crackle & Pop 16.50
             2 Lattes              6.60
Total:                            37.60
Reading Room Cafe (Victoria University) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Long Dragon Dumpling House

Long Dragon Dumpling House
322 Kings Way

Melbourne, VIC 3205

Located on busy Kings Way, Long Dragon Dumpling House isn't a place I'd go out of my way to just for a dumpling fix. We were in the vicinity however, and now that Melbourne has decided to stop pms-ing and stick to the colder weather, hot soup and dumplings to warm the soul didn't sound half bad :D
Fried Pork Dumplings
Probably the thinnest skinned dumplings I've seen (but it's no good if they break apart). Because of this, the ends were really crispy, but hard - my teeth were met with that unpleasant surprise. Otherwise, they each encased a good portion of a simple pork and cabbage filling with soup for the ones still intact. Since these were minimally seasoned, there were no overwhelming flavours and I could safely pair my dumplings with the wonderful, tangy kick of vinegar (I betrayed soy sauce some years back, we haven't been on speaking terms since)
Little pumpkin cakes. They looked so lonely and afraid on the comparatively larger plate, I almost left them alone D: No I'm kidding, I love my food and my chopsticks work faster than the mind. No discernible taste, just deep fried bites with a sweet gooey filling. Give it a pass ^^;
Vegetable noodle soup. Nothing special, but for the generous serving in the bigger-than-usual bowl, it's good value. It even came with a piece of plastic floating around which was...unsettling.

Price: Under $25
Long Dragon Dumpling House on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ebi Fine Food

Ebi Fine Food
18A Essex St
Footscray, VIC 3011

My brother may not be the best older sibling one could ask for, but I'm pretty happy with our current relationship - distant enough so we can say we're not close, but close enough so I can unashamedly ask him to pay for my meal. The status of 'baby sister' and consequent power can be fun to abuse ;P

At quarter past 5 the little room, with seating for about ten people, was filled. During my wait there was a continual line of customers popping in and out for grub, whether it was their beautifully prepared bentos or a pack of fish and chips.

Rather than take up more room, we decided to savour the bento and snacks in the comfort of home.
Seafood bento for the brother; complaints concerning portion size and pricing.
Wagyu: Mum's the best, so only the best for mum.

The inner sections were a pretty, medium pink which was tender and offered little resistance. Ponzu sauce was very light with a bare salutation from the lemon, consequently obscured by other flavours in the bento.
The pork cutlet was average, dry and firm. The lotus root chips were a new sight in a bento, whispering of some obscure taste I'm incapable of describing. Give me another bowl of them and I'll start trying after I'm satisfied.
Veggie Croquettes! I used to love the ones from the food court at Crown, though it's been years since I've last had them. These ones were nice: soft on the inside with a thin, fried coating on the outer.
Having read up on this specialty, I was delighted to learn this was a vegetarian version of the infamous takoyaki. Seafood used to terrify me, and though the level of intensity has dropped, it's going to take another decade or two before I willingly eat a part of the multilegged thing. The veggie balls were like a mini, but lighter version of okonomiyaki. Even though it was in a take away box, the quartet sat in their own special little boat, except the excess sauce conjured the idea of an oil spill ^^;

I wouldn't deliberately make my way here again for the bento, but I'm also curious about the classic fish and chips. So...I'll see you then :)

Total: $75
Ebi Fine Food on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Love at first bite

Yesterday's dinner all emerged from packages. Evidently the tofu fish wanted to stand out just that little bit.

 I wish you all the best in love, whether or not it's the edible kind :)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bread Kingdom

Bread Kingdom
Somewhere on Lonsdale street
Beyond Elizabeth

Spoils from last night when we were looking for Amber Lounge. It's a wonderful looking Korean bakery selling a wide variety of different breads. I lost a little bit more of my sanity and dignity when I got there.

Bakeries just fascinate me so; I'd like to think that behind every store, is an owner who wished to impart their lovingly baked goods on the world and everyday, is living their dream.

Unpictured is a sweet potato cake that was half eating before this was taken. My spectacular arranging skills did, however, allow me to hide the fact part of the pumpkin bread is also missing ;D

The cream and red bean bun was free, which sent me in another happy frenzy. If you see a strange kid in the CBD looking ecstatic and waving their arms around, that's probably me.

Lustre Cocktail & Dessert Bar

 Lustre Bar
252 Flinders Ln Level One
Melbourne, VIC 3000

After dinner drinks, because we failed in finding a karaoke bar.  
Kristy's So Yum: Just a whole lotta lychee. No idea where the apple juice went.
Dessert degustation plate: Tiramisu, Raspberry choc bomb, cheesecake, and two others.
It's all premade, so required alot of hacking at with the fork to eat.

Total: $33

Myeong-Ga Madang

Myeong-Ga Madang
1/258 Lonsdale St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

With so many eateries popping up around Melbourne, such adventures can really create a near permanent dent in the wallet (even now I'm alternating between typing and looking up a Japanese restaurant in Albert Park that I've got my eye on). The natural solution may be to stop eating out and enjoy a homecooked meal instead, but I've learnt that my stomach and tastebuds are rather stubborn things. The brain isn't too great at diffusing the situation either, especially when all it has to reason is "It's Friday." and my feet automatically walk an only too obliging me to the next interesting looking establishment ^^;

Our usual trio found ourselves ascending a set of carpeted steps to the potentially (I think of Guhng as I write this) wonderful world of Korean barbeque.
Once lowered, the extractor can make conversation across the table a little inconvenient.
 In case you get confused - being a dolt, I did - once you reach the first floor, take a right turn to reach the restaurant. The waiter promptly directed us to our table and presented a singular menu, with one side dedicated to a la carte and the other, the much more economical banquets. We took the $28 pp beef option, which offered 8 sides, a salad, 3 different cuts of meat, beanpaste stew and dessert.
There were four indentations near the bottom of the glass. Cute.
Beansprouts and Kimchi
Mashed potato, broccoli and assorted pickled vegetables
This looked alot better before the waitress tossed it around. I think she only noticed I was holding the camera afterwards, before asking if I wanted to take a photo xD She introduced it as potato salad, but I may have misheard her. The texture was crunchy and refreshing so it was more likely to be grated radish in a light, creamy sauce. A few pineapple, strawberry and mango pieces were dispersed across.
Cook, dear pretties! Whichever this cut was, it was sliced very thinly, to the thickness of two sheets of paper. Korean oyster, bean paste sauce and salt were the accompanying flavour enhancers. Not the best part of the meal.

Hurriedly taken before the waitress returned to do the cooking :P
These were thicker, soft and flavoursome. Bulgogi was pleasantly sweet and the sauces promptly ignored.
Beanpaste stew
Mildly spicy and rich in ingredients. A lingering warmth in one's throat.
For the finale, the classic fresh fruit platter and the addition of mochi balls with cake crumbs. Chewy furry things.
The aftermath
That suspicious plastic jug in the top right corner was a peach yoghurt cocktail, served in adorable stone cups. No fruity flavours detected, just a pleasant alcoholic milkiness.

All in all, a fantastic experience and a newly crowned favourite. I'm almost sad to say that I can no longer liken the capacity of my stomach to a black hole, because this meal left me absolutely stuffed. Service wasn't outstanding due to slight difficulties in communication (none of us can speak Korean) but otherwise, they were very polite. As the night progressed, the tables gradually filled up and it became rather hectic with the waiters rushing to and fro. I suspect that before long, we'll no longer be able to casually waltz in and expect an open table without booking.

Total: $96

Myeong-Ga Madang on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 4, 2012

Andrew's Hamburgers

Andrew's Hamburgers
144 Bridport St
Albert Park, VIC 3206 

Linguistics and psychology have both affected by brain in such a large way that sometimes, I come close to distancing myself from 'normal speak' and even a single object such as a mobile (the ones that hang above a baby crib, not the ones you talk into) evokes the recall of information concerning the nervous system. Now, less on that topic and more on the burger, else I'll drag us all into talk about social convention, then become confused myself :P

R and I were vaguely in the vicinity of the place, and reached the place at about 11.45 am. A queue had already formed and people filled the room, awaiting their paper packaged parcels of burger goodness. Lately my stomach seems to be shrinking (despite the fact I'm still growing. Horizontally.) so I decided to forgo the lot and stuck with the default burger with pineapple.
At the last minute I caved in to temptation and bought a mini pack of chips. Freshly made, piping hot and crispy.
The unravelled glory which was supposed to change my perception of burgers forever
   Like The Avengers, my high expectations of this probably caused the disappointment. Truthfully it reminded me of a fresher, mildly improved version of the cheeseburgers I used to buy from the school canteen. Here's a poem version of this, just so it gives an excuse for me to be less creative with my words:

The bun was soft, but not so fluffy
The meat was thick, but not too tasty
Lettuce was fresh, then overwhelmed
by the dripping of excess juices.
Tomato sauce was awkwardly 
applied lipstick, 
in need of better distribution.
Dual pineapples were sweet, 
but please sir,
I need more onions.

There was an estimated wait of 25 minutes, which turned out only to be 15. Honestly though, if I'm not around the area and even if I find myself craving a meal slapped between two buns, I wouldn't bother travelling just for this.

Total: $10.50
Andrew's Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

...Patterns Cafe?

Sundays used to be awful.

Every week I'd arrive at about 10.30am. All the breakfast places I'm interested in visiting are either too far, or are closed, and all the ones that are open I don't want to visit.

Patterns Cafe (Swanston street) was like the in between. There was nothing on their breakfast menu that I remotely liked - their lunch menu began at 11.30 - but at least there was good coffee and savouries. So picture my shock, the horror I experienced when I popped over on Thursday afternoon for a caffeine hit, maybe a salad, to be greeted with a new sign advertising Hong Kong & Taiwanese styled desserts.

Dismayed but still hopeful, I decided to give them a try anyway. Cannot remember what dessert I ordered, but it had sweet potato, taro and green bean balls and pearls. Not sure what the white specimens are called in English, but they're hard and a pain to eat. The bottom was a large block of ice and some of the sweet potato was still on the hard side.

I ish sad.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Accidents happen.

Soo.. I accidentally deleted over half my posts while trying to make a second separate blog.

You know when you're holding two things in one hand and you're only supposed to throw away one of them but somehow the good one ends up in the bin?


Thank heavens I'm a lazy person and backed up my blog for transferring, so the posts are back up but I may have broken the links.

Update: Fixed the links. All good!