On Nom Dessert Bar Review

After a massive meal at Saint Crispin, our next stop was On Nom Dessert Bar. I booked this place already, in hindsight, should have ordered one less dessert at Saint Crispin. This place has been on our to go list for a while as IK is a massive sweet tooth.

It was her birthday and I didn’t tell her where we were going.

Located where Ezard is but its up a few stairs in the Adelphi Hotel. Its sorta of in the lobby but at the other end of it. There were some seats which can swing and a bunch of tables as well as a nice bar.

Seems cozy, not too busy and very attentive staff. I think if you have dessert fetish friends, you have to take them here. There is a massive menu of desserts. I would call this a Dessert Restaurant, they do savoury things as well, but its on the second page! Who said you have to have desserts before sweets nowadays?

They also have High Tea and a Dessert Degustation (50pp, choice of 3 desserts or something like that). Also on the menu are liquid desserts, cocktails as well. The staff came up to us and told us about the place and that their head chef Christy Tania is going to be on Masterchef this season! Their recommendation was the Mango Alfonso (as this was going to be on Masterchef).

The Menu

more “On Nom Dessert Bar Review”

Saint Crispin Review

It’s “IK”‘s birthday, thought we might try Saint Crispin which has been raving with excellent reviews, Melbourne’s restaurant of the year in 2013.

We opted for the 7 course degustation menu ($120 and $60 for matching wines) to try a variety of things on the menu and an element of surprise. Its a very cold autumn day in Melbourne, situated pretty much in the middle of Smith St in Collingwood. The restaurant is packed. Seems to have 2 seatings at 6pm and 8:00pm. Melbourne is moving away from the fine dining scene, and is going more the casual, boutique restaurant, yet still produce fine food. Mostly wooden tables along one whole end of the restaurant with a few bar tables and an open kitchen.

The Menu

Started off with some bread and sour cream dip.

Some bread to start

Started off with the Celeraic dish. quite refreshing, interesting black cabbage gave it a smokey taste to this.

Salt baked celeriac, toasted seeds, smoked walnut and black cabbage

Staff were experienced but were quite busy at times. Asked if we ate quickly as we needed to give the table back by 8pm. We said “not an issue”. We seem to eat our meals within 30mins most of the time!

Packed, tables mostly aligned on one side of the restaurant.

IK had a sparkling for her birthday. Quite nice.

NV Punt Road Sparkling – Chardonnay/ Pinot Noir Yarra Valley, Victoria

Second course was this salmon starter. Salmon seemed to be cured very well, quire refreshing with the vegetables. Never had this finger lime before, but quite interesting.

Atlantic Salmon, smoked oyster, finger lime and sea vegetables

3rd course was this quail dish with a masterstock. Asian inspired, but quite clean on the palate. Wouldn’t mind having this every night!

Quail, shaved cuttlefish, shiitake mushroom and kombu

This Fourth dish was a Bass Grouper with gnocchi and i think curry sauce? (Wasn’t on the menu) And we couldn’t remember what the waiter said it was ! (sorry!) . “IK”‘s one was a little salty on one side. Maybe it was a bit uneven with the seasoning. I found mine to be fine. Quite delicious.

Bass Grouper

The Fifth course was the Pork belly crackling with beans. IK found hers a bit too salty again. Mine was ok. Quite fattening in the middle, but the crackling was just perfect. It was some how crunch on top and also chewy.  Meat was soft and juicy.

Pork Belly Crackling with beans

Time for desserts!. In hindsight, we should have ordered another savoury dish. The desserts let us down a bit. Maybe it wasn’t our type of desserts, and plus we were going to On Nom after this! This Fig with dates and Yoghurt was actually quite nice. IK didn’t like fig and stewed fruits so didn’t have the fig. Not to worry, I had her fig.

Fig & Dates with Yoghurt

more “Saint Crispin Review”

AMEX Platinum Reserve

Also want to give a few reviews of my credit cards.

AMEX Platinum Reserve

This card is usually my go-to card if they accept AMEX. However, it really depends where and what I spend it on. As I frequent lots of restaurants this card gives me the most points for that purpose.

Point System – I opt for the AMEX Ascent program which is very advantageous as it has 9 different airline frequent flyer programs you can transfer your points into. For me, Cathay Pacific will be the main one as I travel back to HK once a year. The other pros are there is no expiry date on these points if they are under the membership rewards.

  • 3 points per $1 AUD spent in Australian restaurants listed on the AMEX website. So even if you go to Maccas or something you get 3 points per dollar spent.
  • 2 point per $1 AUD spent on airlines,accom,cruises, tour and on international purchases. see site.

PROS

  • 30000 free membership points when you sign up. or 40000 if you are referred by an existing card holder (Contact me if you would like a referral. I get commission with this by earning 20000 points with each referral)
  • Good point system with no expiry
  • Free return Virgin flight domestically or internationally* (only to New Zealand) or free one night accommodation at certain hotels in Australia.
  • Free Priority Pass to Lounges international airports. (limited to 2 / year)
  • Free International Travel Insurance (ACE insurance)

CONS

  • Hefty Annual fee of $395 (Can get it cheaper when I opted in with membership programs)
  • Priority Pass can only be used if in Australia (Melbourne international Airport only) Cannot be used for guests. They pay $27USD per visit
  • 3 points is only attainable if the restaurants listed in their AMEX website. So you may need to check whether the place you dine has that before you pay with this card. My rule is, if it takes AMEX and they don’t take surcharge, they are usually on the list.

OTHER PERKS

  • Often get emails from AMEX about credit back with certain shops/spends etc.
  • also check their Membership rewards bonus partners. e.g. if you book through the hotelclub AMEX site, you get 10 points per $1. See here for full list of offers.
  • Extra bonus points with the Local Champion App (You need Iphone and the AMEX app to play this) see Keith Mason’s how to guide for this.

THOUGHTS

  • Best card to accumulate points for those foodies out there. Hefty annual fee, but i think its worth it considering the benefits and free flight. Let me know if you like a referral!

ChangGo Korean BBQ review

Korean food has been increasing its popularity over the last few years. It seems like the Western side of CBD has become the new Korean town. Victoria St opposite Vic Market has a strip of korean restaurants – Wooga, Hallah, Donwoori and toodouri to name a few.

Near Little La Trobe you also have Darac (famous for its Army Noodles) and this little gem ChangGo. You will notice herds of people standing around waiting for a table in this popular eatery. You have to put your name down on this A4 piece of paper hope you get a table soon. You would usually see Uni students even sitting around waiting for a table. The place occupies two shop fronts and waiting time could be 30 mins – 40 mins plus on busy days. Its well known for it’s 8 flavoured pork belly. (as you can see theres a massive wooden tray outside the restaurant with each flavour written down. ) Menu mainly has the pork or beef combo. You can also do a la carte or even order cold noodles / soups etc. The portion for the pork is huge so you will usually need 3-4 people for it. Since it was only two of us, we opted for the beef combo.

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8 Flavours of pork board
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Usually you go for the 8 flavour pork combo or the beef combo
Gotta put your name on the list!
Gotta put your name on the list!

Packed inside. Typical korean vents that dangle down to help get rid of the smoke emanating from the BBQs. Tell you what, our clothes still stink a bit no matter how careful you are. *Tip, put your clothes in the storage (where you sit) and don’t wear woollen or clothes which tend to soak up all the smell. (Its hard to get rid of!).

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Typical Korean Vents you see in most korean BBQs

All korean restaurants have banchan (little appetisers) some have more variety and some have a few. Almost all should have kimchi and some bean shoots or something sourish.

 

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Banchan
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you can adjust the height on the vents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most korean restaurants have a in build hole where it fits the BBQ grill. Most use hot charcoal. The beef grill was a typical grill you see everywhere. The pork is different and more interesting – it has a iron cast plate which is placed on an angle so the oil can drop into the little steel container.

Korean BBQ
Korean BBQ
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Grill on top.

 

 

 

 

This came a little later, but Koreans seem to like Sourish things.

Side of Spring onion
Side of Spring onion
Banchan
Banchan

The beef was juicy and tender. Usually you add red bean paste with it or sesame oil and salt. Korean staff usually cook them for you. This busy place obviously had no time. Didn’t bother us, we rather cook it ourselves.

Top side
Top side

Too much meat can be a bit much. Wrap your meat in the lettuce, add some chilli and garlic and cucumber or carrot to offset the meatiness.

Finally some greens! You can wrap the meat in the lettuce and add garlic, chilli as well.
Finally some greens! You can wrap the meat in the lettuce and add garlic, chilli as well.

This soup has some crab in it, calamari, prawns and some tofu. Not too spicy either.

Soybean Seafood Soup
Soybean Seafood Soup

Our favourite. Ox tongue is thin and really tender. You usually dip it in with the sesame oil and salt. Make sure you don’t overcook this!

Ox Tongue
Ox Tongue

Last meat dish. Has some sweet soy and spring onions.

Sweet Soy infused strip side
Sweet Soy infused strip side

Overall, this place has some really hearty dishes. We can see why its so popular with the locals and even native Koreans. I spoke to the owner after and said they will be opening another one soon. No brainer considering how busy they are. There are other good places for beef sets in Melbourne. I would say you come here for the pork set. Mind you, you need probably 3 people and above to have it. The quantity is pretty big.

Rating – 14.5/20

Going back factor – hell yeah. Tip* don’t bring your family if they don’t like waiting! Or go super early. They open at 5:30pm

Other places to consider for beef sets

Wooga – 270 Victoria Street, North Melbourne.

Mrs Kims Grill – This new kid on the block is a nice alternative if you’re sick of finding parking in the city. Has beef / lamb / chicken sets. 2 types of beef, banchan, choice of salad, soy bean soup and some corn / potatoes. Nice architectural design by the Architect/Owner of Seoul Soul. 136 Koorang Road, Carnegie

Guhng. Means the Palace. Name says it all. More high end beef, has few floors in one of Melbourne’s laneways. – 19 McKillip Street, Melbourne

Donwoori – This sister restaurant of Wooga  has a good beef set for $39. 3 beefs and a soup and some banchan. Gets busy and fairly smokey when at capacity. 276 Victoria Street, North Melbourne.

ChangGo on Urbanspoon

 

Le Grand Cirque – South Yarra review.

It was close to home, so once i heard Manu was opening a new restaurant from broadsheet, i was straight onto it. Looked up the website, and this girl talking in a francois accent. I thought hmmmm am I on the right page or what. I don’t think I have watched an episode of MKR this year. But who doesn’t know who Manu is – French celebrity chef on TV blah blah. His new restaurant in South Yarra is situated where George’s Calombaris’s old restaurant “Mama Baba” once was. Next to another celebrity chef Adriano Zumbo’s dessert patisserie “Zumbo”. There use to be an entrance on the Chapel St side where you would go down the stairs. They have obviously scrapped that and the entrance was now through the little alleyway where you can go through Clarendon St. They have totally ripped out this whole place and have changed most of the interior.

Peering through the glass window of Le Cirque
Peering through the glass window of Le Cirque

As the name suggests, maybe they’re trying to make you feel like you’re entering a circus?! Well it felt like it. Or maybe felt like entering a night club. I don’t know whether they open for lunch, it would feel a bit weird if they did open then. Once you get to the “booth”, it can see a cloak room so you can hang up your jackets etc. A smartly dressed waiter will greet you wearing a bow tie and suspenders.

Felt like a ticket booth of a circus. Fluorescent booth box, draped curtains.
Felt like a ticket booth of a circus. Fluorescent booth box, draped curtains.

We had to wait a little while as we came a tad earlier than our booking time of 8:45pm. There was a lounge area where we sat whilst waiting for the tables. Whilst we were waiting, we had some chilli popcorn (super hot). There was a popcorn machine with wheels just in the distance. Now I wonder if theres a trapeze or a guy flying upside down whilst we’re having dinner. Maybe Manu flying through rings with fire!

 

Chilli Popcorn
Chilli Popcorn
Popcorn machine
Popcorn machine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were finally led to our table. There was yellow light box in the middle of the restaurant with padded leather seating throughout. The kitchen was still where it was when Mama Baba was. There was Manu, big french man. A lady was taking a photo with him and was putting her hand on his big french breasts. nice…

There's Manu! Big guy!
There’s Manu! Big guy!

Here comes the drinks. Ordered a chicks drink for a change some grapejuice mocktail, whilst “IK” had a alcoholic sparking drink.

Grapejuice mocktail
Grapejuice mocktail
Sparkingling drink with some puree
Sparkingling drink with some puree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There wasn’t too much fancy stuff on the menu of one page. Some cold dishes, mains, and sides. We opted for some escargots, cassoulet (as everyone was having this) and some school prawns.

the Menu
the Menu

School Prawns with aioli. Standard stuff. Chin Chin’s and the old Giuseppe and Arnaldo’s did good school prawns as well.

FRITURE DE CREVETTES - school prawns with aioli
FRITURE DE CREVETTES – school prawns with aioli

French are attentive people. “IK” had a cup with a handle. Cute.

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Cups – handle for the women, normal glass for the men

This is one massive bone marrow. Straight away, I went and googled up is bone marrow fat?! Luckily it came up with things like filled with great nutrients and very healthy for you! I thought if it was all fat it would have been over kill. Somehow, we rather the classical escargot in a little escargot pan with olive oil. It was tasty and the marrow was juicy and rich.

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OS A MOELLE & ESCARGOTS – roasted bone-marrow & snails with parsley and caper berry salad

This casoulet has stewed white beans, toulouese sausages, speck bacon and confit chicken wings. “IK” didn’t like the mashy white beans, made her choke and the combination was a bit plain. Nothing to rave about. Did well with matching the colours of the cast iron pot with the circus theme.

The pomme frittes was disappointing, wasn’t crunchy was on the cold side, probably been sitting on the counter for a while. Finished it nevertheless

The shredded celeraic was very rich. Lots of mayo and some crab meat. Don’t think our combination we ordered was that great to be honest. Too much for our liking.

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Cassoulet
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CRABE & CELERI REMOULADE – shredded celeriac with mayonnaise and crab meat
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pomme frittes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The circus theme made me think theres going to be some spectacle but was sadly disappointed with the quality of the dishes. The escargot and bone marrow was the dish for me, but the rest we ordered were average. Prices were reasonable, neither too expensive or too cheap. The prelude was good, but the ending was sad. I rather Philipe Mouchel’s PM 24 (now closed). The jus and more frenchy dishes were just more appealing to me. Manu may have wanted to introduce more relaxed and a more Australian feel.

Rating – 13/20

Le Grand Cirque on Urbanspoon

Where would you go for French?

 

* This review is totally my and sole opinion. Feel free to disagree or agree with me.

Fukuryu Ramen

Ok. We sort of touched on this new place Fukuryu Ramen in Corrs Lane. Little hidden laneway off China Town. It was hard to find. I think they just had a new signage today or something. You have to go upstairs into this newly renovated level 1 space which you had to line up and pay first. No EFPTOS facility and a fluorescent box menu.

The Menu
The Menu

What surprised me was the price of the Kirin ciders. Fairly popular now especially in some korean restaurants and grocers. $8 for 500mL. Pretty good price. It was fairly packed considering it was a week night, but turn over was pretty quick.

We waited for a bit, there was a little tray of utensils and some condiments like soy sauce and shichimi-togarashi for the ramen obviously. Sitting on little wooden stools, I looked around to check out the decor. There was bike rack I assume to let people put bikes on top? Hmmm bit odd i thought considering you’ll have to weave your way up the stairs with the bike.

Bike Rack
Bike Rack

Anyway onto the food. We both ordered the signature tonkotsu ramen.

Signature Tonkotsu Ramen
Signature Tonkotsu Ramen ($9.90)

Bowls were pretty small. Soup was thick and a little on the fat side. The egg and the veggies were good. However there were plenty of noodles. These are not my favourite noodles for ramen. I prefer the Momotaro ramen which is a bit more curlier and punchier on the palate. It has half an egg, decent size pork and some veggies. We also ordered chicken wings and chicken karaage which came with some mayo sauce. (both were pretty good value $5.90) Since it just opened, there was a special for a free green tea soft serve. Nothing special about this, just sweet and grainy.

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packed for a week day

Crowd seems to be mostly younger people who finished work or people like me who just wanted to try out new stuff.

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Open Kitchen, you can check out these fellas doing their thing to pump out these Ramen. Since its new and maybe some native Japanese, only heard one or two “いらしゃいませ” whilst we were eating there which means “Welcome”. In Japan there is much more vigour and shouting pretty much every patron that walks in the door. You kinda need that atmosphere to really feel you’re in Japan.

Other places to ponder for Ramen

Momotaro Rahmen on Bridge Rd
(personally my long time favourite for Tonkotsu ramen) but also their rice dishes are pretty good

Little Ramen Bar on little bourke st
Only been here once. Long queue when they first opened and limited seating of around 20 only. They have an option of this jumbo sized ramen. (ramen was a bit fat i thought)

Mensousai Mugen in Blingh pl

This new kid on the lock is located in Bligh Pl in the CBD. In the alleyway along with Robot Bar. Also has Tonkotsu ramen and some cold noodles as well. Seems like native Japanese owned, has a good vibe, but still lacks something with their ramen.

Kokoro Ramen

Haven’t tried this place yet. So can’t comment really!

Rating 12/20

There are better options for tastier Tonkotsu ramen. Guess its cheaper and the tapas dishes are cheaper as well. Still yet to find the best Ramen bar in Melbourne.

Where do people go for their Ramen fix?

Fukuryu Ramen on Urbanspoon

Ramen Guide in Melbourne and review of Fukuryu Ramen

I’m going to post up a Ramen guide soon in Melbourne. Recently there has been quite a number of ramen places popping out here and there. Where is the best Ramen place in Melbourne? Theres many out there, and I reckon I have been to a fair share of ramen places. I’m posting this, because theres 2 places which has opened up in the city in the past month or so. Mensousai Mugen in Bligh Pl, the little Tokyo if you like to call it. You have the Robot Bar and Hako restaurant in the same lane as well. We went to this new place called Fukuryu Ramen in Corrs Lane. (Check out Broadsheet’s review for more info) Most of you will be familiar with this dodgy Chinatown valet parking. They pretty much fit every single car side to side like a jigsaw puzzle. If you ever need to touch up on some parking skills, get a job there. Anyway, I’m sure most of you would have gone past Yamato when strolling down Chinatown. Little dark alleyway there and on the right side before you hit the Sze Chuan restaurant, upstairs has this bubbling new ramen place. Apparently, its owned by an Indonesian group who have other Chain ramen restaurants. Inside you have wooden chairs/tables, a small and simple menu of Miso/Tonkotsu ramen, Shio ramen and some little tapas like kaaraage and the good ol’ favourite gyozas. There are a few beers on the menu and drinks. Recently there has been an increase in Japanese Ciders (Kirin) which is pretty cheap $8 for 500ml.

I’ll have a more detailed review next. Stay tuned.