ESP by Scott Pickett Review

On a roll with the exclusive “degustation only” restaurants. We visited Lume in December then six penny in Sydney and now ESP by Scott Pickett. We’ve been to their sister restaurant Estelle next door ages ago but we were definitely looking forward to this pre “Valentines” dinner. Situated in the busy hippy part of Northcote; it boasts other nice eateries like Merricote, Barry etc. I like the layout of this restaurant, theres tables and then there’s a bar area where you can see how the kitchen runs. It’s nicely done as the kitchen as a good view of what’s going on.

IK booked this place for me. Originally we wanted to invite friends for my big * 0 but they were fully booked. We had to finish by 8 pm tonight.

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ESP Menu

I also looked at the wine list and thought I’d go for a wine pairing instead. (sort of regretted after actually). So here we go.

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Sitting at the bar looking over at the kitchen

Scott was barking orders at times and I like it as it really shows how dedicated you are as a chef and managing the restaurant.

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Bacon and Onion Bread

Does this remind you of Baker’s Delight? Brings back the school days when you bring one of these for lunch. Those days are no more fortunately.

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Homemade butter

Don’t think that needed butter, but here we are anyway. Presented on a “log” so to speak.

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Snacks – Smoked Wallaby & Black Rice

There were a few snacks to start with. All were meticulously presented. First up some smoked wallaby & black rice. Nice and crunchy. Presented on some “aussie bark”.

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Cod Roe, Ink, Boatttarga & Spiced Avocado, Salt & Vinegar Potato

Loved these puffs with avocado inside. Definitely skill making these puffs. The cod roe was also delicious. Perfect starter to the night.

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ESP kitchen

Roaming around you see Josh Pelham (Head Chef) and all the other chefs doing certain dishes. There is definitely order in the kitchen.

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Gosser Champagne

Had a Gosser Champagne to start off my day.

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Lychee & Mint

Lychee and Mint for IK.

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Maidera

A maidera for our next course.

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Kangaroo, Egg Yolk, Saltbush.

I love the use of interesting ingredients like saltbush. Not too salty, very nice dish/soup.

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ESP Cutlery

Apparently the knife was made especially for ESP.
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Started losing track of what wines I had. But i think this was a pino gris

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Kingfish, Cucumber, Radish

Kingfish is almost a must in most restaurants nowadays. Very refreshing.
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The Sommelier said this wine has much more depth of flavour and quite young.

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Moreton Bay Bug, Iberico Jamon & Melon

Served by Josh the head chef; i had my eye on the bug when the chef was pan searing it with butter. Lovely foam and some chickpeas to go with it. tasty.

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Definitely needed a red for the next course.

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Great Ocean Road Duck, Beetroot, Cherries

Probably my favourite dish tonight. Simple ingredients that goes so well together but well executed. There’s some crisps, duck and the sauce was just heaven.

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The boys at work.

Scott to the left and Josh to the right. A nice ambience to the restaurant.

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Beefsteak Tomatoes & Woodside Goats Curt & a Tomato soup

A palate cleanser tomato soup (cold) and 2 tomatoes. Nice indeed.

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Black Fig, Olive Oil & Basil

3 desserts to finish. Firstly we had Olive oil crunch was in nitrogen and sprinkled on top. I loved this dessert.

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Stout

Had a Stout with my dessert. At this point I didn’t think the wine pairing was that great as it seemed little compared to other degustation restaurants i’ve been to.

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coconut, Strawberry, Chocolate

Also had another stout for this dish. Wasn’t as good as the other 2 dishes. Again maybe another type of dessert wine would have been better.

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Passionfruit, Lemon Verbana Sherbert

Sherbert Bombs. Reminds me when I used those spoons that came with the packet, and you put it in your mouth, the burst and sourness and sweetness that goes with it. IK loved this one.

Bottom line

I thought the food was well executed. I don’t mind a quick meal at times, and they timed it to perfection. I thought the wine pairing was not as worth as the cost of it ($130 additional). Should have given a few more esp during the dessert dishes. I loved our Scott interacts with his customers and asks which dish they like the most. Definitely good technique with the dishes and not overly complicated like Lume where I think they still have some fine tuning to do. Definitely need to come back again some time and maybe have more time to enjoy the food.

Rating : 15.5/20

ESP - Estelle by Scott Pickett Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Click here to their contact page to make a reservation.

Hawker Hall Review

I always tend to go try out these new places and despite average reports so far, I wanted to give it a shot. Location wise, I thought Chris Lucas and his team found a gold mine in the new hippy part of Chapel St. This strip has the names like Tokyo Tina, Saigon Sally, Fonda, Messina and other restaurants as well.

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Hawker Hall Interior

We managed to grab a seat outside for 5. It was 6pm and it was packed already. Typical Lucas Group restaurants.

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Hawker Hall

Plates were printed with Hawker Hall. I like how each of Lucas Group’s restaurant have a different theme and cuisine. Rather than having like Chin Chin in different suburbs.

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Hawker Hall Plate

There were alot of beers and a decent sized menu with so called “hawker malaysian food”. They have the feed me menu but we opted for just ordering a la carte.

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Menu

I had the Mildura Honey which was sweet and easy to drink. So good.

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Drinks Menu

IK ordered the coconut watermelon drink.

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Drinks

I don’t know what this guy was doing but he was scribbling on each line for each table. Talk about being frugal. I hope he can read his own writing.

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Waiter scribbling on his notepad.

First up was Nyonya Popcorn chicken with a sauce. I thought maybe some more meat in some of them would have been nice.

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Popcorn Chicken

Food was quick, everything came almost at once which was good. As mentioned we sat outside which was probably good as there was plenty of lighting for my camera.

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Our meal

Gado Gado Salad. CABBAGE‭, ‬SPROUTS‭, ‬SWEET POTATO‭, ‬TOFU‭, ‬EGG‭ & ‬PEANUTS. Vegetarian dish. Perhaps a bit more saucey would have been nice.

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Gado Gado Salad

Here were some satays. Mamak definitely do better satays unfortunately.

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Chicken Pork Satay

Had some Morning Glory with sambal. Again I would have preferred Malaymas for its morning glory. Bit more sambal and wok taste.

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Morning Glory

Very mild tasted curry with vegetables and chickpeas.

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FRAGRANT CURRY OF CHICKPEA & VEGETABLES W. CUMIN YOGHURT

As per the good food website, this was probably one of the better dishes – Economy Noodles. They just used different noodles to cook this and some sambal on the site.

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Economy Noodles

I thought there was way too much sauce for this duck and too little rice. Definitely a bit pricey for this dish. Sauce was also too salty.

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BBQ pepper duck

The roti wasn’t bad, but I feel Mamak is the gold standard in Melbourne.

Overall, it was quite pricey for such “hawker dishes”. However, theres alot of hype and people will still rock up for Lucas’s group. they have created a formula which works. There is a bit of tinkering with the dishes but there are other places where you can get a Malaysian fix.

Rating : 12.5/20

Dish of the day : Economy Noodles and Mildura Honey Beer

Tip : Go early like with all Lucas Group’s venues and wish you luck with finding parking. Also dishes are a bit small. You need to order quite a few dishes.

Hawker Hall Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Entrecote CBD Review

Craving for French and you tend to miss it when you’ve just come back from a massive Europe trip. We are pretty fortunate Melbourne has almost every cuisine you can think of. Was catching with with a friend so decided to try entrecote. There are two entrecotes; one in the city and one in South Yarra. The one here has a no booking policy so you just rock up. Situated between collins and little collins, used to be where Prix Fixe was. All the restaurants who have taken on this premises hadn’t really taken off. I guess the location and is quieter than other streets in the CBD.

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Entrecote

Outside Entrecote.

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Outside Entrecote

We came early thinking we’d need to wait for a while. But nope it was empty as.

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Inside Entrecote

Pretty basic menu. Their speciality is the steak frites, but they do have some traditional French dishes and seafood as well.

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Entrecote Menu

Brings back memories when I had this at the Eiffel Tower.

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1664 Kronenborg

IK was craving for her usual Aperol Spritz.

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Aperol Spritz

Some bread to start.

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Bread

IK wanted French onion Soup and here it is. Nothing fancy like what Vue De Monde serves, but just traditional French onion soup. Nothing memorable but it was nice.

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French onion soup

I shared some escargots with my friend and it was nice as well. Again nothing memorable.

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Escargot

Their signature dish – Steak Frites. So steaks and fries. It was “free flowing fries” so if you have finished the fries, you can ask for more. The steak was nice, but again not the best steak I had.

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Steak Frites

Came with a salad as well which was refreshing.

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Salad

French food always seem to be filling and we were pretty full. However, we had to order a dessert. IK was craving for a Mille-feuille. It was alright, lots of creme fraiche. Luxemborg does a better one though – its crunchier.

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Mille-feuille

Had a little seafood bar in the kitchen.

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Seafood Bar

Some roses as well. You know the French are romantic afterall.

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Red Roses

Overall, it’s nice to have traditional French cuisine every now and again. Maybe we were spoilt with the various French eateries in Paris and you really can’t compare. It is a bit disappointing how this premises hasn’t taken off yet. It has a nice vibe in there but the tables and the space between each table were quite small. You really need to be thin as to get through.

Rating : 12.5/20. Sorry we were too spoilt in France.

Dish of the day : Steak frites. Yup free flowing fries. It is a bit pricey imo $39 bucks for it.

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

Attica Review

I’m on vacation at the moment, so my already infrequent posts will be even more infrequent! I have a few amazing meals during my trip in Hong Kong and Japan which I will definitely blog about. Stay tuned!

4th December was mum’s birthday, it was a “round” number last year and we went to Vue De Monde. As usual, being her picky self didn’t really enjoy the experience. So I thought of Attica, given such raving reviews it has received. I gave them a call a few months ago, knowing that you can only book 3 months in advanced. I don’t think it was quite 3 months maybe less and as expected was booked out. so I was placed on the waiting list probably expecting not to get a call from them. So I booked Kappo again with mum and went yesterday. Find out about my previous Kappo review here. So I had the dilemma, should we go to Kappo and NOT go to Attica? Or should we go to BOTH. It was a no brainer. What chances are there to get a table at attica?!

So I was not sure what to expect, and they didn’t even give me the chance to look forward to this dining experience. I mean you can start telling your friends & colleagues about it etc. But no, I only had a day ! So drove down to ripponlea, located very close to Quat Quatta where we once looked at wedding venues.

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Attica – Entrance

A nice modern but homely feel to this place.

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Attica – Entrance
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Attica – Entrance 2

We were greeted at the door, and were led to our table. One thing I liked about the tables was that they had these spot lights lighting our tables. Perfect for food bloggers like me! I mean its hard to get good lighting to take photos sometimes, most places are quite dark and unless you have a SLR, its impossible to take good photos. They had these decorations in a bowl. I can’t remember what they were but one thing I knew was that you can’t eat this!

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Decorations

Forgot what these were. The waitress told us you can’t eat them just when I was about to put it in my mouth. Couldn’t wait !

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Attica Menu for the night

You don’t have to choose what to eat on the menu. They simply ask if you have any dietary requirements and off you go. So it’s an 8 course menu with the choice of either matched juices or matched wines. I had to work the next day and a trip coming up so I opted for the matched juices.

 

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Rye and sourdough bread

They brought out some fresh butter and some macadamia purée with saltbush to compliment it. Bread was rye and sourdough bread which was warm and crunchy. The purée did compliment well with the bread, mum didn’t say a word which usually means she approves of it.

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Macadamia purée with saltbush

We had a few little appetisers prior to the course. The first bringing out fresh yellow box honeycomb.

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Yellow box honey

This was lathered onto some cows milk cheese with hazelnut oil.

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Cows milk cheese with hazelnut oil

Next up were some baby corn in their husks. Real cute!

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Corn Husk

The last part of our appetiser was some New Zealand flavoured wallaby Pickelets, we were given the recipe for it as well!

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New Zealand flavoured wallaby pickelets
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The recipe! seems like it was handwritten

Finally, some summer flower gardens with steamed mussels in chicken broth, olive oil and fresh beans. Fresh indeed!

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Summer flower gardens with steamed mussels in chicken broth, olive oil and fresh beans
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Cockery in which it was served.

I chose the accompanying fruit juice with the degustation as I had to drive. Wasn’t a bad choice! First came some grapefruit juice.

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Grapefruit Juice

First course was snow crab and sour leaves. So it was a sorrel leave with some crab meat from WA underneath with Australian pepper berry. Pretty much all their ingredients are sourced locally which is one great thing about eating in Australia.

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Snow crab and sour leaves

Next juice – Tomato and verjuice. All the juices were quite “unique”. Its not just a simple tomato juice. It has to be some different depth of flavour to make it special.

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Tomato and Verjuice

Second dish of the day – Salted Kangaroo & Bunya Bunya. Bunya is a native nut plant of Queensland. This dish was served with purple carrots, currants, frozen puree and the bunya nut and a kangaroo which is diced up like in a carpaccio. One of my favourite dishes of the night.

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Salted Kangaroo & Bunya Bunya

JUICE up! Pumpkin and wattle seed juice. Hmmm You wonder if its a juice or a soup. Definitely interesting taste with the wattleseed in it.

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Pumpkin and Wattleseed juice

Another one of my favourite dishes of the night. A potato! Yes, I didn’t know how tasty an ordinary staple was. This potato was JUST cooked through, so its almost like a little raw, but not quite. It has garlic infused cheddar cheese which was fermented for 18 months. Quite an amazing dish.

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Minted Potato, Medium Rare

Beetroot and tamarind. I don’t mind beetroot, it’s meant to be good for your vessels.

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Beetroot and Tamarind juice

Next up was something interesting. On the menu, it says 142 days of earth. I was trying to decipher what this meant. The waiter explained that it was 142 days for this red cabbage before it was harvested. Don’t know why 142 days and why not 141 days! Must be something special about that 142nd day. Anyway they used numerous parts of the cabbage for this dish. Part of it is the heart, the outer leaves and it was served in cabbage sauce and roasted emu fillet and rosella dark wattle seed. I loved the different textures the cabbage gives.

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142 days of earth

Smoked Apple Juice. Yes not just ordinary granny old smith juice – it has to be smoked. My word you can definitely taste the smokeyness of the juice. Loved it.

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Smoked Apple Juice

Oyster king george whiting for the next course. Served in real BARK. there was so much flavour in this fish – there was garlic, butter some herbs and a whole lot of other flavours which is strong and tasty. Can’t beat bush food!

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King George Whiting on paperbark

This knife was taken out of it’s pouch from the waiter. Lots of nice little details in a fine dining restaurant.

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Knife

Next was the pork loin. Mum didn’t really like this dish. Didn’t really explain why, she thought the meat was a bit ropey. I thought the meat was cooked perfectly through medium rare. But it did lack some flavour in it to make you want more and more.

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Pork loin, rotten corn and sorrel leaves

After the mains, we were invited into the herb garden at the back which was great because I needed to walk around a bit to digest the food. There were a few chefs there who explained what was in the garden and we were to choose a bit of everything into a small bowl. Herbs included miniature strawberries, licorice, basil etc.

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The herb garden at Attica

Funky mural on one side of the herb garden.

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Funky Mural

Once we chose our herbs, they scoop out a scoop of condense milk sorbet and add a bit of vinegar.

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Sorbet to finish

Bowls used for the ice-cream. yum!

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Pottery at Attica

There was another section on the way to the herb garden where the chefs make their desserts.

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Dessert area for the chefs

Showing some of their vermouth they’ll use for the following dessert.

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Maidenii Vermouth

 

 

 

Ready for dessert with this huge wooden spoon

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Dessert spoon

Here it is! Pears and Maidenii. Very thoughtful how they found a pear shape wooden plate as well! Extremely tasty with flowers on top. Lovely finish to an amazing night.

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Pears and Maidenii

Almost forgot there was more juice. Next up, slightly bitter orange juice. Very nice indeed.

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Slightly bitter orange juice

Final dessert of the night. Industrious beet it was called. Sorry its been almost a month since i had it, i do remember it had lots of meringue, with sauce in which whole oranges was used. Lovely textures of the meringue and flavours of the oranges. So delicious.

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The Industrious Beet

Instead of the petit of fours, we get an egg. Yes, a Pukeko egg from NZ. It’s actually chocolate with caramel inside it.

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Ben Shewry explaining the egg and his NZ roots

Here it is, even had a nest for it!

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Pukeko egg

That’s it folks! Amazing night, mum enjoyed it thoroughly and had one hell of a culinary experience. We were very lucky to get a table esp leading up to christmas. Sorry for the late post, I’ve got some interesting overseas review including some business class and first class reviews to Japan! Stay tuned!

Rating : 18/20

Would I go back : I really don’t need to answer this question

Dish of the day : I think the potato dish was something special.

Tips : don’t eat too much that day!

Attica on Urbanspoon

Kappo Review

Decided to do a degustation last minute on Friday. Saw Kappo opening up during the week and the concept sounded pretty exciting. Simon Denton opened Verge years ago, and then converted to a day time Japanese eatery Nama Nama. Also opened the Hihou Bar upstairs in 2012. Also has his famous Izakaya Den nearby which is over popular on the weekends. I’ve been to all of these places named above and I can tell you Kappo was the most interesting and fulfilling experience I had.

Called up around lunch time to ask for a table for 2, you have to fill in this form they send you about dietary requirements and many courses you want. Its an omakase menu (meaning leave it to them) of 5, 7 or 9 courses. ($80, $110, $140 respectively). So booked for a 6:00pm booking, but we rang and said we were running late and they were still happy to cater for us. The entrance is no longer in the Spring St entrance even though its very confusing for many people. Its the same hidden entrance as Hihou where you have to press the door bell before heading in. You are greeted in the corridor and they take you in. The capacity is only 25 and most of the seats are over the counter 10 of them, a few high tables and a few behind screens. Kappo is basically over the counter dining which is meant to be an interaction between the chef and the customer. Love the idea.

Before even ordering or seeing the menu, you are welcomed with a warm towel and this marinated Tofu dish wrapped in daikon and lemon rind. Love the Japanese tojiki. This dish was refreshing and unbelievably tasty.

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Marinated Tofu wrapped in daikon with lemon rind.

Here comes the menu now. As I mentioned, its only an omakase menu. They tell you all the ingredients they will use (25-30 of them) and you can tell them whether you dont want anything or really want something. Otherwise, its the choice of 5 or 7 or 9 courses and a choice of matched wines/sake starting from $50. I asked to have a mix of wines and sake. We also opted for the NINE course menu as I thought it might be a once off dining experience for us. (Think that might not happen now!)

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Kappo Menu

Menu is printed on nice almost transparent paper. Very Japanesy.  Forgot to mention, they also came with a welcoming Sake. (Didn’t ask the name, but it was light and easy to drink)

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Kappo Menu

Plate of Lilies. No, not meant to eat this, for decoration obviously but it was right next to me, so i was obliged to take a photo of these pretty flowers.

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Plate of lilies.

Reminds me of Izakaya Chuji where you can choose your own cup. Never had to choose your own chopsticks! Brought in this huge wooden box with these chopsticks. I chose a dark coloured one and IK chose a darker wooden colour one. The others were much the same colour.

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Variety of Japanese chopsticks to choose from

Kentaro Usami (formerly sushi chef at Kenzan) doing his thing. All the ingredients he gets out are carefully taken out from a wooden box with a lid on it. None of the plastic tupperware with crappy labels on it, its all meticulously taken out, lid put back on, back in the fridge etc.

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Chef Kentaro Usami

I decided to do the matched wines and IK just a lemon lime and bitters. Its a champagne from yarra valley. Sorry I’ve tried writing notes on my iphone so apologise if I dont get the names of the wines/sake right. The Sommelier did describe how it was made and what was special about each drink. By the 8th glass/cup of alcohol, I really had no clue or remember what I had!

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Champagne from Yarra Valley

Course 1. dish of tempura fried abalone, New Zealand Potato with miso and marinated squid. Need to work on my depth of field with my camera! The choice of ingredients must be well thought out. Not an easy task to do.

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Tempura Fried Abalone, New Zealand Potato with miso and marinated squid.

The concept of the omakase is lots of fresh and raw ingredients and not alot of meat. Definitely quite a Japanese appetite. This vegetable came with asparagus, corn, long radish, cauliflower and walnut and miso puree. The vegetables go well with the walnut and miso sauce.

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Asparagus, corn, long radish, cauliflower and walnut and miso sauce

Sake no 2! Kameizumi Ginjyo from Kochi Prefecture brewed from rice. Amazing Sake.

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Kameizumi sake from Kochi Prefecture

This was a sesame tofu soup with Shiitake Mushroom with watercress on top. The sesame flavour was rich indeed.

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Sesame tofu soup with Shiitake Mushroom with watercress

A German wine! Fancy that! Shows they outsource different wines from different regions to suit the food. This was a Zilliken Reisling from Germany. More info here. Now he did mention about the slope when growing the grapes. Don’t know but it was definitely something different. Not as sweet as the Reislings you get here.

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2009 Zilliken Saarburger Reisling feinherb

Seafood Tartare. Again the presentation was wonderful. Little individual plates for various ingredients, mix everything in a glass bowl, splash of line and salt and walaah. From right to left you have salmon roe, prawn, sea urchin, squid and hmmm was this bacon? and on top cucumber, seaweed and wakame.

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Seafood Tartare
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Glass cup where you mix everything into. Fun!

End product. What do you think for a DIY job?

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Salmon Tartare completed
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What it looks like when you put it in your mouth !

Now, almost forgot what wine I was up to now. Next is a Rob Dolan savagnin from the Yarra Valley. Quite a fruity taste on the palate.

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Rob Dolan 2012 Savignin Yarra Valley

Next up to complement it is zucchini flower tempura and corn wrapped in seaweed with a bit of yuzu salt. amazing…

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zucchini flower tempura and corn wrapped in seaweed with a bit of yuzu salt

Bit more normal Japanese food. Some sashimi! Salmon, john dory i think.

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Sashimi Platter

Sorry I am getting lost in grog now. This is Sake Zaku from the mie prefecture.

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Sake Zaku from the Mie Prefecture.

Hold on … wheres the other dish! I must be getting lost in grog now..

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Sommelier pouring more sake…

Ahhh Junmai Ginjyo Saika Twelve. As the name suggests… Think this is a local one.

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Junami Ginjyo Saika Twelve.
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Chefs working table.

Next sake (How many did I have?!) is Gangi Junmai from the Kuramoto Prefecture.

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Gangi Junmai Sake

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A Fish dish next. Sea Perch, yuzu and cucumber.

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Sea Perch, yuzu and cucumber

Finally a meet dish is grade EIGHT, Wagyu Rump cap. I’m pretty damn full at this stage, but we’ll soldier away. Has a bit of pickled daikon and Black sesame salt or something.

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Wagyu Rump cap Grade 8

Came with rice with a bit of dill and pea on top.

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Japanese Rice

A Dessert wine next. Its French and I’m struggling to read the label.

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bit of a palate cleanser before the real dessert. A yamamomo granita (or otherwise known as myrica ruba)

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Plum Granita
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IK time.

Now what do we have here…. I’m quite pissed, and I’m on the verge of puking up now. but i still go to fight on, which enabled me to hold back until i walk out the door. I have to consult IK before i write what it is!

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However, this i couldn’t forget. I thought this was the last dish, but NO, you see the size of the box above? Simon Denton came along with the same size with a green tea tiramisu soaked in Japanese Whisky. We were like oh no……… He said you guys seem very scared! Don’t worry, you’ll finish it! This was an amazing dessert with a bit of crumble on top. I wished i was a bit more sober and had another stomach.

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Green Tea tiramisu soaked in whisky.

I really had my quota for grog. Yume shu is one of my favourite Japanese liqueurs around. Too bad I was only able to taste a bit.

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Last type of alcohol – Yume shu!

My god what a long review. Overall we were very pleased with our dishes. It was complex, fun and an amazing night. Topped off with a hangover. Thanks Kappo.

Rating : 17/20

Dish of the day : Lots! but Green tea tiramisu or the marinated tofu was to die for.

Tips : Go for the Omakase 7 or 9 courses and of course with the pair wines…

Open Mon to Sat evenings and Friday Lunch.

Kappo on Urbanspoon

Sezar Review

 

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Sezar Menu

Went past this place after going into the Kelvin Club next door one day during the Melbourne Open house. I’ve been told its pretty good and thus had no choice but to organise a dinner to Sezar. I was told it was Armenian food with a modern twist. I dont’ know what to expect, but usually IK doesn’t like Mediterranean food that much. I didn’t know where Armenia is so quickly googled it up. Next to Turkey and Georgia, obviously was expecting quite similar style food. Located in one of many Melbourne laneways, it wasn’t too hard to find.

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Sezar Menu

With a nice dark ambience, the restaurant is long but narrow. It has 2 floors, kitchen downstairs and a bar upstairs. We were led upstairs for our table for 4. Couldn’t really decide, so we opted for the banquet menu including the dessert tasting plate. We specially asked if we could get the Spanner Crab Manti and the slow cooked lamb. They were friendly and gladly fulfilled our request. So here we go.

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Crispy Potato & Soujak Kofte / Red Pepper Aioli

Like a croquetta, a nice little starter with red pepper aioli.

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Oysters with Compressed apple & anise

Next up was some oysters with apple and anise. Quite like the condiments that came with the oyster, refreshing and sweet dressing.

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Spinach & Feta Boreg / Aleppo Mayo

Quite a crunchy and nice dish with a nice mayo. Spinach and feta can’t go wrong together.

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Light decorations
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CURED OCEAN TROUT / Apple & fennel salad, crème fraiche & roe

Another refreshing dish. Doesn’t seem very mediterranean at the moment. Had a nice fennel and apple salad on top, topped with salmon roe.

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GRAIN SALAD / Toasted nuts, labne and shoots

Starting to get more middle eastern now. Grain Salad with toasted nuts, labne and shoots.

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Bar on the 2nd floor.

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LULE KEBAB / Spiced lamb kebab, sour cherry sauce and baby cos (2pcs)

Lamb skewers. We thought the pita bread was a bit plain. Would have been nice if it was warm or slightly seared before serving.

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SPANNER CRAB MANTI / Armenian dumplings, sumac yoghurt & chilli oil

Spanner Crab dumplings was alright. Sauce was good.

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View from the 2nd floor

Like how you can see from the top, have a peek of what the chefs are doing. I quite like the decor inside. Thats a big part of modern melburnian restaurants nowadays like even the toilet has to be top notch!

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SLOW COOKED LAMB SHOULDER / Sides & sauces

The waitress came over and said it should just pull of just like “this”. and it sure did. Put the fork in, and the meat just pulled away. We couldn’t finish this, we had 2 girls after all.

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SHEPARDS SALAD

Just some salad to go with the main.

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CHERMOULA ZUCCHINI / Buttermilk yoghurt, barberries, fennel & mint

I love the idea of zucchini fritters, but these were a bit soggy, not the real crunch you get. Came with 2 sauces.

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Meat pulling away!

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Dark ambience in Sezar.

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Dessert Tasting Plate

We were eyeing on this when people started ordering desserts. So its a plate of all their desserts.

  • NEW STYLE BAKLAVA / Crispy filo, walnut toffee ice cream & salted caramel. My dish of the day i reckon. I quite like this modernised version of Baklava filled with ice cream and salted caramel. Great combi.
  • VANILLA PARFAIT / Strawberries, pistachio & rose water syrup. This was the dish in the black plate. I’m not sure, the rose water syrup can be overpowering. I think the textures of all these elements were too similar
  • SEMOLINA CAKE / Slow cooked quince, almonds & crème fraiche ice cream
  • SOFTENED CHOCOLATE GANACHE / Cardamom cake, hazelnuts & orange blossom cream. This with the semolina cake worked out well.
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Dessert Tasting Plate
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Demolished

Despite being way too full from the mains, we almost demolished this dessert platter. No one wanted to finish the chocolate ganache…

Overall, it definitely has changed my view on mediterranean cuisine. Some dishes with some modern influences works quite well. I would like to try different mains but definitely made my belly quite happy.

Rating – 15/20

Dish of the day – The Baklava.

Whats hot – the ambience and decor, and friendly staff

Tips – go for the banquet menu. Can’t go wrong.

Sezar on Urbanspoon

Northern Light Bar & Eatery Review

 

 

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Nothern Light menu

Been trying most of these restaurants you book from dimmi recently. Mainly because you get extra bonus qantas points if you book through their website. Basically once you book through the qantas restaurant site, you get 100 QFF points per diner. Since we dined in August, it was 150 QFF points per diner. (They had a special in August). You can also earn points with Velocity through here. Velocity uses bookarestaurant website. In September they have a special earning 500 points per booking. Anyway, thought we will try Northern light, given some good reviews and write ups. Again, we don’t usually like going to asian fusion restaurants. But this experience was a bit different indeed.

Located on the busy Smith St, where Gigibaba once was. mostly bar spots available and a few table spots in the front and back of the restaurant. Staff seemed pretty experienced, and having a meal at the bar means you must have good knowledge about drinks and the food. This American waitress at the bar seemed to know her drinks quite well.

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Sapporo Beer

Just had a beer to start. They had Sapporo on tap. Also have various wines on the menu. Later on I had a gin and tonic with cucumber. (First time i had that with cucumber and was absolutely refreshing).

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Inside Nothern Light

These dangling lights seems to be very popular at most restaurants. I Suits the name of the restaurant as well.

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Air dried Blackmore beef, wasabi, yolk, fried potato

Decided not to go for the tasting menu and ordered what we wanted. This beef tartare i think it is! was delicious. Came with some chargrilled bread definitely gave it a different texture and flavour.

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Chargrilled bread to accompany the beef.
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Smoked Eel, Salmon sushi Croquette
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Yakitori, Free range Bannockburn chicken thigh

Too bad the yakitoris were small, but they were damn tasty. came with a bit of mayo sprinkled with Japanese shichimi togarashi.

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BBQ’d bug meat, scallop, egg noodle, braised daikon, toasted laver

Thought we might try something different for our mains. This bug meat noodle was a bit lacking in seasoning unfortunately. Very clever and inventive dish we thought, but needed more flavour.

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Xin Jiang style Lamb Ribs, BBQ peppers, chilli sauce

Plenty of flavours in this lamb ribs. Obviously using stock and braised well. The meat was off the bone and fairly tasty.

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Yuzu cheesecake, black sesame, blood orange, honeycomb

Ok, time for dessert! The honeycomb worked well with the yuzu cheesecake we thought, gobbled it up in no time.

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Honey Glazed rice cakes with black sesame

Don’t know if i ever mentioned about our experience with korean rice cakes. We went to one of the markets and we had rice cakes at this stall This old lady ended up feeding us with the korean rice cakes with chilli. Those rice cakes were to die for. Chewy and very fresh. These we thought werent as chewy as they should.

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We get a little pack of 7 spice mix as well

We also got a bag of spice mix to take home as well. Overall, there were some interesting dishes we thought were worthy of being “good fusion dishes”. Staff were attentive, and overall had a good range of dishes to sample for the night.

Dish of the day : IK couldn’t recall what she had, so I think looking back at the photos, the lamb seems to be the winner or the beef.

Dish that didn’t live up to the description : Bug meat noodles. Which it had more flavour and seasoning. maybe some more sauce as well.

Drink of the day : Gin and Tonic with cucumber

Will we come back? Yes why not. Whilst writing about this post, realised they changed some of the items on the menu. So worth going back at some stage to try out different things on the menu.

Rating : 15/20

Northern Light on Urbanspoon

Aka Shiro Review

 

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Menu at Aka Shiro

Reminds me of going to Japan when we visit Aka Shiro. I have been to Japan numerous times and love the food, the meticulous nature of how they cook. This little Japanese homely cafe has been our little lunch spot on weekends. Place is Japanese owned and run, menu mainly includes Teishoku (Set menu with rice and miso soup), some curries and main dishes. They also have specials which is written on a lid of a pod which is usually in different colours. Everything in this eatery is based on wooden benches and stools which i think the owner assembled himself i heard him saying once.

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packed on the weekend.

Pretty packed today which is usually the case on weekends. Pretty popular with the locals. They also have dinners on Fri and Saturday nights.

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Entrance

Even the entrance is very Japanesy, “Noren” it is called in Japanese.

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Nice little spot in Collingwood

Some more Japanese arty Deco.

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Grapefruit Juice and Ginger Beer with lime

They have various drinks and a liquor licence. They have a home made lemonade which they soak these sliced lemons in a jar with some dried lemon peel in it. They also have daily special juices, wines, beers as well.

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All Teishoku comes with miso soup and rice

When we first came here, we had the most gigantic Tonkatsu ever. They gradually took it off the menu but still has the Hitokotsu Tonkatsu which is smaller now. I opted for the Teishoku which comes with some super tasty miso soup (which has daikon in it!) and rice. Other items on the menu worthy of trying are the scotch fillet teishoku.

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Karrage Curry

IK opted for the Kaarage curry. The batter they used to fry the chicken thighs were crunchy and delicous. Too bad the portions have decreased since we been here last, maybe becuase they said we go the LAST kaarage order.

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Hitokutsu tonkatsu Teishoku

The set comes with freshly sliced cabbage, some carrot puree and potato salad. As with all Tonkatsu and fried chicken, comes with some hot english mustard and Tonkatsu sauce. Nice and crunchy and very flavoursome. Food here is very homely, something most would eat in a Japanese household.

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Tonkatsu
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Decor

Theres some tables and bench tops you can choose to sit. Staff are friendly and the kitchen is open so you can see what the chef is up to which is a big plus. If you are looking for a homely Japanese food you should come here.

Dish of the day : Always the Tonkatsu or Kaarage and the home made lemonade.

Rating : 15/20

What’s not so good? : don’t take card during lunch (Fair enough!)

Tips: come for lunch, portions for dinner are a bit small.

Aka Siro on Urbanspoon

Addict Review

Happen to drive past this new kid on the block Addict on Johnston Street, Fitzroy. Was meeting up with some friends and suggested to try this place out. After just being here, I was filtering through the top 25 cafes in Melbourne from the Herald Sun, and Addict was in it.

A one page menu with usual breakfast stuff and Lunch items. Also a few specials on the board, which didn’t really tempt me. Coffee is from Clement Coffee, Market Lane and the chefs use to work at St Ali’s. Option for Almond milk is also on the cards.

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Addict Menu

Baristas pumping out coffee with their La Marzocco Linea Machine.

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Pretty good coffee at Addict

Coffee was good, no doubt. The size was a bit smaller than average i thought, maybe by 20ml. Being picky now!.

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Cafe Latte at Addict.

Menu seems quite extensive, well thought out and a bit different to the usual. Could see the corn fritters are back, maybe a little twist or something they learnt at St Ali perhaps? Our friends ordered a breakfast sharing board which is a great option if you’re going with your partner and they’re also a sweet tooth and you’re not sure whether you can order another sweet dish after your savoury.

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Breakfast Sharing board with crumbed mushrooms, hash nuggets, grilled cheese kransky, relish and French toast with berry coulis. + 1 egg!

Definitely a twist from St Ali’s Corn’s fritters with haloumi. I added bacon to mine. Haven’t had corn fritters for a while, and it didn’t disappoint. Corn fritters were not over fried which was a  plus. Maybe a bit more of a sauce would have been an extra plus.

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Corn fritters with kasundi, haloumi, poached eggs & a corianda and mizuna salad.

IK ordered this potato hash. The mushroom duxelles had great flavour, the potato hash was also crunchy and delicious. IK didn’t complain so must have been alright.

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Potato Hash, mushroom duxelles w roasted field mushroom, poached egg & caramelised onion.

Voted as one of the top 25 cafes by the herald sun. Was pretty good food. The service was a bit odd. Maybe its still new, found they were a bit abrupt at times. Easily fixed though im sure. Food was a bit on the slow side as well. However, great food and coffee!

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Rating : 14/20

Dish of the day –  hmm… hard one. maybe the mushrooms / corn fritters.

Would we come back ? – Yes!
Addict Food and Coffee on Urbanspoon

New Shanghai Emporium

I heard about this place from my hairdresser. She knew something about dumplings but couldn’t remember the name. I would have known if Din Tai Fung was coming to Melbourne. So went up to emporium to check it out. Located in the “food court” of emporium ( I know they don’t like calling this). Rather than food court, they like to call it “cafe court”, basically clusters of restaurants, cafes  congregating in one floor. E.g. EARL canteen, Jimmy Grants, Rice Workshop, I Love Pho, Chinta Ria etc. We were lucky there were no one at all lining up here. Theres a glass window where you can peer through and check out the chef’s rolling up the dough to make their Xiao Long Baos. This is our second time coming here, but brought some friends to sample some more dishes. Luckily we booked as there was a massive queue already.

Looking at the menu, found out its actually a chain restaurant based in Sydney. Seems like their speciality are dumplings but also typical Shanghai dishes. Prices are quite reasonable for their dumplings in particular. Xiao Long Bao – $7.50 for 8 pieces!

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Menu

The interior has been done up nicely to mimic old shanghai. With comical posters on the wall and lots of wooden furnishings. Soy sauce and vinegar are a must for the Xiao Long Baos.

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Soy and Vinegar
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Comic posters with random chinese writing on the walls.

Had to have a Tsing Tao with my meal. Reminiscing my time when I visited shanghai ordering beer at a local restaurant.

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Tsing Tao Beer

As with Chinese dishes, theres not sequence to what comes out first. Basically whatever is cooked first comes first.  first comes the Shanghai noodle with shredded pork. Didnt think there was enough pork and was a bit on the oily side. Hu Tong’s Shanghai noodle seems more fulfilling.

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Shanghai noodle stir fried with shredded pork & vegetable – $9.90

Stir-fried beans, another Chinese classic. Again bit oily and lacking some mince.

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Stir fried string bean with dried shrimps & soy sauce – $13.50

Their winning dishes are definitely their dumplings. Pan fried dumplings was crunchy on the bottom, and has nice hot sauce inside. Watch your mouth! What I like about these are that its not just sloppily rolled, but each one are uniform and cooked perfectly.

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Pan fried pork dumpling* (8pcs) – $9.90

This is something we couldn’t order between the two of us. We kept looking what other people ordered and I really think you first eat with your eyes. If everyone is ordering it, you should order it too! This deep fried barramundi had plenty of meat. Again it was oily but had plenty of flavour packed in it. A westerner’s favourite as they love their sweet and sour sauce. Goes well with rice!

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Deep fried barramundi topped with sweet & sour sauce sprinkled with pine nuts & mixed vegetable – $28

Calorie killer this next dish. Salted egg yolk with deep fried tofu. Salted egg goes well with prawns, chicken ribs as well. Never really tried it with Tofu. Very flavoursome but can be a it too fattening.

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Deep fried tofu coated with salted egg yolk – $16.80

We do get extremely picky when it comes to Xiao Long Bao. To this date, apart from when Hu Tong first opened, none of the xiao long bao in Melbourne has got my approval. We used to fly up to Sydney to Din Tai Fung to get our Xiao Long Bao fix. This aint bad, still not comparable to Din Tai fung standard. The skin remains slightly thicker and a bit too much filling inside. However, definitely one of the best you can get in Melbourne.

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New Shanghai Xiao Long Bao – Steamed mini pork bun * (8pcs) – $7.80

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Again, one of my other favourite dishes here. 2 Rules to a good pan fried pork bun. Crispy skin, and nice hot filling with soup inside. ITs hard to perfect it because you can overcook the skin and undercook the meat inside. These massive dumplings are so filling. You really need a couple of friends to join you.

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New Shanghai pan fried pork bun* (8pcs) – $10.50

Slightly disappointed with this dish. The duck was very salty, theres no need to dip it in the spice mix. The steamed buns were nice but thought it was over seasoned.

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Crispy salted and spiced duck served with steamed plain bread (half duck) – $31.80

Very chinese decor inside. don’t know if you’re meant to climb up there or what.

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Inside Decor

Almost demolished our meal.

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Can check out how they roll their dumplings out.

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Overall, I would come here for their dumplings. They have a few good dishes worth trying out as well. If you can’t fly to Sydney for din Tai Fung, its probably the next best alternative.

Tip – Book in advance for a table. Beaware of the opening hours. Stupid really but emporium only opens till like 7or 9pm depending on which day. Also go with more people if you want to try their bigger dishes like the duck and fish. Also don’t over order gluten!

Rating – 14.5/20

Dish of the day – Their pan fried dumplings and xiao long bao.

What doesn’t change ? – the amount of oil we chinese use!

Where else for dumplings ?

Hutong dumpling bar – 14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne. Used to have awesome Xiao Long Baos when they flew the chefs from Din Tai Fung over. Sadly, they couldn’t replicate their standards.

Mr Huang Jin – 525 Collins st, Melbourne. Perhaps the thinnest skin Xiao Long Baos you will get in Melbourne. Rivals to Hu Tong and New Shanghai. They also have the crab meat dumplings as well.

New Shanghai on Urbanspoon