Tonkatsu and Zakuro Shabu Shabu

We have been staying at Tokyo Park Hotel which is around a 10 min walk from Shimbashi station (JR line). Every day when we walk to the station, we saw this shop underneath the Shimbashi station complex. They sell onigiris and rice soup. It’s designed for a quick eat going to and fro work. There is a vending machine and you choose your meal and they ask whether you want a big rice or small rice. We just wanted to share this rice with some salmon and seaweed. It’s a nice breakfast.

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Rice Soup with Salmon and Seaweed

It was a shopping day today, so we went to Shinjuku and checked out some of the department stores. IK wanted to eat Tonkatsu, so we ventured up Takashimaya department store to Katsukura. We ordered a Rosu Cut Tonkatsu set. Rosu is the more fattier cut, whilst HI RE is the leaner cut. Obviously tastes better when its fat. There’s a few appetisers included in the set. Some veges to start.

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Appetisers

IK wanted the tofu.

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Tofu Appetiser

all these Tonkatsu restaurants usually comes with a Tonkatsu sauce and sesame that you grind first and dip in. Also is a ponzu sauce for the sliced cabbage. (I can eat a kilo of this I reckon)

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Condiments

You can see the fat lining one side of the pork. It was divine. Crunchy on the outside, the fat rendering gives that juice and makes the pork much more moist.

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Rosu Tonkatsu

It was a rainy day so there wasn’t much excitement. We were meeting up with my host family which I was quite excited about. They took us to have Shabu Shabu in Nihonbashi station called Zakuro. It was quite hidden, you had to walk down some stairs to get to this place. I knew it was going to be an expensive place as the staff come and greet you and take your belongings to store. It’s a place where lots of businessmen take their clients and do some PRing.

Started off with some sesame Tofu.

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Sesame Tofu

Some more fish testicles…. Shirako with lemon. Love this stuff. Just love fish balls.

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Shirako (Fish Milt)

Now I have totally forgotten what I ate here. It was a savoury jelly. I couldn’t remember what was in it though…

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Jelly appetiser.

Check out these big pots where you shabu shabu in them. Host family told us its called shabu shabu because it mimics the sound when you move the meat around the hot pot.

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Shabu Shabu Pot

Lady pouring some more hot water in.

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Lady pouring more hot water in.

Just love the shabu pot.

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Shabu Shabu pot

Comes with a few sauces when you have the wagyu meat. The sesame or the ponzu sauce. Both were nice.

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Sauces that come with it

Look at the warble of the meat. Snow in meat.

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Marbling

And more just for you.

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More marbling

I really don’t know how this gadget works but it is just fascinating. The water has to be boiling hot.

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Looks like a little chimney

Had some noodles as well to finish off. this was cooked in the shabu shabu pot after we finished our meat.

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Egg noodles

Some pickles with the noodles.

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Pickles

Dessert to finish off. Red bean with mochi.

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Red bean with mochi

Group shot!Oh yes, we had aprons as well!

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I’ve been to better shabu shabu places, but it was nice to have a meal and catch up with your loved ones. My host brother hasn’t changed too much, still really couldn’t understand his english at times!

Next up we’re going back to Hongkers! JAL first class lounge review and Cathay 777 First Class review.

Part 2 – Hong Kong to Sapporo.

So we had 1 day in HK before flying off to Sapporo. I’ve been to Japan numerous times, but never to Sapporo. One of the places I really wanted to go for a long time. Now this part is interesting, I used dividend miles to pay for this round trip HK<>Japan. If you have never heard of dividend miles, you should. Well… they are merging with AAdvantage this year so this trip may not be as cheap as when I bought it. Theres many blogs and forums to teach you how to book these cheap business class/first class tickets.

Points required for this trip? 35 k dividend mile points each so 70k all up. How much is that in AUD? – around 800AUD per person. Which is a friggin steal for first class. I bought these points when they had a 100% bonus special. So if you bought 40k points, you get 80 k points etc. I won’t delve in too much how you can book them, because you gotta call their call centre in the US and the agents are pretty hopeless. read around about it and you’ll know why.

I didn’t really want to come back first class but I had no choice. The day I leave only had first class or really early flights which didn’t suit us.

So checked in, went to the airport earlier because i was reading about this nifty lounge. “The Bridge”. Its located above gate 35 or something, once you have taken the train in the airport.

The Bridge Lounge
The Bridge Lounge

Cathay’s new logo. I think it’s quite modern.

New Cathay Logo
New Cathay Logo

Dunno what this is. A bird or something? Anyway cool looking.

What's this?
What’s this?

We were pretty hungry and the Bridge differentiates from the other lounges is that they have a bakery. Perfect for breakfast. It was quite busy as it was around 8am.

The Bridge Bakery
The Bridge Bakery

Yes I was hungry. Selections include dim sums, the white noodles, steamed egg, and pastries like croissants and danishes.

Light breakfast
Light breakfast

My breakfast just got bigger, some salad as well. I wouldn’t say the pastries are freshly baked, but its ok. Nothing beats a good pastry shop in Melb.

Bigger Breakfast
Bigger Breakfast

Wonder when they start to phase our these big 747 fleets. Massive planes indeed.

The Cathay 747!
The Cathay 747!

Not as long as the bar at the Wing, but just as good. This filipino bar tender was pretty good. Fancy champagne for breakfast? I do!

The Long Bar
The Long Bar

heres the menu. Selection of Mocktails, non alcoholic beverages, hot, cold drinks, tea, and most importantly the GROG. So had the Piper Cuvee Brut.

The Bridge Bar Menu
The Bridge Bar Menu

Here It is.

Some Champagne to start
Some Champagne to start

Crispy and delicious.

Champagne
Champagne

I couldn’t have another champagne because I need to drive once I get to Japan… So went for a tropical mocktail which was pineapple based. Pretty damn good.

Pineapple Mocktail
Pineapple Mocktail

After lounging for a bit, we went to the gate. This plane is a 747, even though there are first class seats, they werent for sale. So only business , econ etc. I have read online that you can request for the first class seat but you may need status. I went up to the counter but they said it was full. I should have asked the people at the lounge. anyway I wanted to review the coffin class anyway.

Flight to Sapporo
Flight to Sapporo

See why it’s called coffin class? Quite narrow compared to the reversed herringbone seat. but not bad over all. The business class seats are mainly on the upper deck of the 747s. Which is known to be better as its more quiet.

The reknown Coffin Class
The reknown Coffin Class

Heres a whole chunk of them. I was actually quite surprised by the amount of people of B class. I mean for a 3-4 hour trip, honkys never go on business class. There was a group of like 8 who were going to Sapporo. The guy next to me fell asleep straight away and didn’t have his meal till like 2 hours into the flight. So she sat where you rest your foot and helped cut up part of his meal so he can eat. I mean god sake just cut your own meals and eat it yourself. I just want to flip his meal in his face when I saw that. Friggin honkies. lol.

Upper Deck B class
Upper Deck B class

I can’t remember what plane this was. But here you go.

Window view
Window view

Don’t like the design of the TV in the 747 B class. Once you open this up, you can’t leave your seat unless you stow it away.

Cathay Entertainment
Cathay Entertainment

Electronic buttons are slightly different. This one has a massage function! Don’t know why they didn’t retain it in their new 333s.

Buttons
Buttons

I was offered a drink to start, how about a Bloody Mary? The flight attendant asked whether I would like it very spicy or just a little. I went for just a little. Also some japanese nuts in a BOWL. lol read about the nutty korean airline executive if you know what I mean.

Fancy some Bloody Mary?
Fancy some Bloody Mary?

Menus! This time I did keep them.

Cathay Menu
Cathay Menu

Entree to start, the prawns were good. perfect size.

Pesto Marinated Prawns with tomato, French beans and roasted peppers
Pesto Marinated Prawns with tomato, French beans and roasted peppers

The main was pretty good too, loved the fish. Also came with some soba salad and some dips as well.

Baked Sea Bream with ginger soy sauce, Japanese rice and vegetables
Baked Sea Bream with ginger soy sauce, Japanese rice and vegetables

Finally got my CHEESE and fruit this time round. Up yours overnight 333 flight.

Cheese Selection
Cheese Selection

Haagen Daz icecream and CHOCOLATEs which I refused.

Haagen Daaz Ice-cream
Haagen Daaz Ice-cream

It was time to descend into New Chitose and you can see quite a bit of snow around the area! Can’t wait!

The chitose airport is quite interesting. There are alot of shops around and it links to the domestic terminal. Took a while to find the post office to pick up my wifi dongle. Once we got there, we were ready to drive to Otaru.

Bottom Line

  • I do prefer the reversed herringbone seat as its more spacious, coffin class does seem very narrow even though you can lie flat.
  • Don’t like the TVs as it gets in the way of alot of things.
  • Not good if you’re travelling together, We sat across each other and you can’t talk or see each other. I was happy with that actually.
  • It seems the upper deck was the choice if you’re travelling B class
  • Food was excellent on a day flight, so is the service
  • The Bridge lounge was excellent.

Await for my next post. Otaru!

Brisbane to Hong Kong Cathay Business Class Review

Hoarding points and accumulating points can be fun. I’ll explain more later on. Time for a holiday! So here is the itinerary for the first part of our holiday/wedding stuff we had to do. I’ll review the Mel to BNE in this post.

  • MEL -> BNE (Qantas Domestic)
  • BNE -> HKG (Business)
  • HKG -> CTS (Business)
  • CTS -> NRT (Jetstar Domestic)
  • NRT -> HKG (First Class)

I’m pretty obsessed with points nowadays. You want to think about what credit cards to use at each merchant and you tell IK NO don’t use that card for god sake thats only $1 to 1 ! It seems like role reversal nowadays. The males likes to get the best deals, and the women just don’t give a damn. Anyway after accumulating alot of points, We’ve decided to go B class to HK. Easier said than done.

Firstly, its peak season during December, getting a award spot on the days you want is like winning lottery. Almost IMPOSSIBLE. So I had no choice but to take a flight from Melb to Brisbane to transit to HK. At least we’ll get there. So off we went and checked our baggages in the qantas domestic counters and told them we’re going to HK. Luckily since they’re one world, the bags will just go straight through. THEN we got a message from my travel agent saying “your flight to HK has been delayed for 2 + hours now”. I was like WTF… It means our departure time is around 3:30am Melb time. GREAT… He told me you should complain etc. anyway I was able to get something out of this (But I’ll tell you later). So we got plenty of time and the flight from Melb got delayed due to wild thunderstorms. So we went into the Qantas Club. This is the 2nd time here and it’s not bad. We used 2 x Qantas Club passes we get every year from the Westpac Earth credit cards. The international qantas business class lounge is better I have to say. Started off with some champagne and some pasta and salad. Not much variety in the lounge, just some sandwiches and currys.

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Some pasta and champagne in the lounge

You do get a nice view of the tarmac and the domestic Qantas planes at the lounge.

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Qantas Club Lounge

The lounge gets fairly busy even on a weekday. Other than a qantas passes, you can get in if you have status with Qantas or oneworld airlines. Don’t think I’ll ever fly enough to get status. So after a few champagnes and some food, we went to Brisbane.

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Qantas Club

One thing I don’t like about Brisbane airport if you’re transiting is that you have to take a bus to the international terminal. Bit like Sydney. If you’re not flying with qantas, you have to pay as well! I think $5/ person. Get real! anyway, Brisbane was stinking hot and wet. We got to the international terminal and it was fairly pleasant and modern. Since we already checked in and got our boarding passes, immigration wasn’t a big wait and was able to get into the Qantas business Lounge. There is no Cathay Lounge in Brisbane so they share it with the Qantas Lounge. Since we have like 3-4 hours to kill, we were worried the lounge may close at a certain time. We asked the attendant and they said we’ll close when you leave. How’s that for customer service. I feel for them, I mean you don’t get to leave until 2-3 in the morning.

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International Business Class food options

 

Theres much more options with food here. There was a curry rice, lots of grog, bar snacks, cheeses, self serve grog in the fridge etc. They even had a shower. My mate loves his lounge showers and I definitely needed one. Getting here after work and waiting for hours doesn’t help. Showers were nice, clean, but the water wasn’t that strong which was a shame.

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Another Champagne and curry rice

Had some beef curry rice, pasta and mini pies with champagne. Nice little supper meal before the flight!

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Seats were fairly comfortable and there were a few MAC computers you can use as well. You get a bit of a view from the top of the shops and bit of the planes through the windows.

Finally, it was boarding time we went and lined up to get into this beauty. Cathay is reknown for it’s business class seats and I have to say its a very solid product. Last time I was on business was from Seoul to HK and it was wayyy too short. This time 8 hrs or so, so looking forward. So this is the Airbus 333. It has Business Class seats, Premium Economy and Economy. Doesn’t have first class in these planes.

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Cathay Airbus 333

Few things I like about the new CX B class seats rather than the coffin class (I’ll review later)

  • Reversed herringbone seats so the seats angle in. So you get that privacy from other passengers.
  • Lie flat seats (I mean 181cm, and still had a bit more room left)
  • Good entertainment and big screen

Here’s what it looks like.

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Seat Pitch

Got the usual, remote, little light, and controls for the seat. Seat controls can be a bit fiddly at times I found. You can also charge your phone/computer and a AV port. (dont know why you need that). There was also plenty of room for your computer / ipad etc on the side table.

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Seat Controls, remote and light on Cathay B Class

CX lillies for each seat. Nice touch.

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Lillies

Theres this indent in each seat, so it makes it quite private. The arm rest does come up otherwise it makes it a relatively spacious business class seat.

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Row of B classes on CX

Yay flying to HK after a long long delay…

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Flight Map

So I got pretty comfy quite quickly, watching a few movies with the CX noise cancellation headphones.

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Ready for some movies, feet up!

Ahhh, proper menus in business class. I apologise, I did take the menu, but didn’t know where it went since I’ve been back from my trip.

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Cathay Menu

They also give out Agnes B Amenity kits. Includes jurlique lip balm, day care lotion and the cirtrus hand cream. Other things include socks, eye shades, shoe horn and tooth brush/paste.

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Agnes B Amenity kit

I’m pretty full but I want to try a bit of everything as I’m on holidays.

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Heres the menu….

A bottle of water for my trip as well nu pure spring!

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Bottle of nu pure spring

Menu is quite large indeed.

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Menu

Alright here it comes. Table cloth is a must, glass of water is a must. Started off with some appetisers, fruit, crackers with dips.

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Appetisers

CX is well known for its bread. I chose garlic bread.

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CX Garlic Bread

For the mains, I had some prawns and fish I think it was…

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Main Course

This is a must on any cathay pacific flight. on B class and F class only ofcourse. This is the Cathay Delight. Which is a combination of kiwifruit and coconut milk mocktail. I could down a few of these any day.

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Cathay Delight

After supper I was expecting dessert and cheese. Didn’t even come… My god, I wouldn’t be happy if I was paying for a full price B class ticket worth 4-6k return. So went to sleep in lie flat mode and watched a few movies.

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Breakfast is served

Breakfast was pretty good. Again fruit, toast, yoghurt, FRESH OJ, another Cathay Delight and had some omlette with sausages. I find the mains in cathay just so so, the appetisers and the little things around it are usually pretty good.

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Omlette, sausages, beans and bacon

The B class is a SOLID product indeed. I slept a few hours at least and didn’t have much trouble.

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Airbus 333 B class

Heres what the seat looks like.

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Cathay B Class seat

 

Now I did mention before that our fight got delayed right? My travel agent said you should complain about it. I thought, no point complaining to the staff at the qantas lounge, and we already checked in so I went on the website and wrote a letter a week or so later outlining the following

  • Delayed for 2.5 hours without reason / warning. I mean my travel agent told me! Waited HOURS in the airport.
  • No cheese / Dessert served. (I even got evidence !) No pics of cheese or dessert! You owe me Cathay!

So What reply did I get? They were apologetic and I was given 5k Asian miles points in compensation. Do you think thats a reasonable compensation? I wrote another letter for IK a few weeks after and she got 100USD Cathay voucher. I think I’d rather 5k points.

Anyway once we got to HK, the best little perk about HK airport is, if you’re travelling Business, First of have status, you can go into the ARRIVALS lounge. Yes lounge when you get to your destination. How good is that?! This is located underneath the Airport Express. One, I wanted to check it out and two, the beauty about the arrivals lounge is you can have a nice shower before you hit town. Given we arrived fairly early, it was a good excuse to have a shower first.

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CX Arrivals Lounge

Much smaller than all the other lounges, but theres a few computers there, small selection of foods, and most importantly SHOWERS. there’s even a shower attendant you mops up your mess and puts a new bath mat and towel and other amenities as well. (Tooth brush, cotton, Q tips etc) Showers had good stream and had the iconic stone all over it.

Food selection were pretty poor I have to say. But not to worry, plenty to eat in HK!

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Inside the Arrivals Lounge

 

Bottom Line

  • Despite the long wait, I enjoyed the B class product. Maybe better flying during the day to enjoy ZA AMBIANCE a bit more
  • Qantas lounge in BNE aint bad, not as good as Melb one though or sydney.
  • Points required for this – 80k asian miles or 120k Qantas I think. If you play the right cards, get the credit card sign ups its not that hard to do . Hard to swallow because I also forked out 12000 points to get to Brisbane. So bloody steep!
  • Love the idea of Arrivals Lounge. 2 lounges during one trip! (well 3 really including my qantas club visit)
  • Would I fly Cathay again? No brainer. HK is a great place to transit to other destinations, plus its my home town, so good to go back here and then.

Luxembourg Review

Another Andrew McConnell’s empire we wanted to conquer. Use to be where Golden Fields was. Don’t know if it was just rebranding their restaurant, or the old golden fields turned into supernormal. Something their marketing department has obviously decided to do. This French inspired restaurant still has similar layout as the old Golden Fields. Long bar table right across the restaurant (similar to Supernormal). The food from McConnell’s restaurants seem all to have great quality. We’re hoping much the same this time round.DSCF2096

One page menu with a range of small snacks, raw seafood, charcuterie, small and large plates. Like all restaurants nowadays, typical sharing type menu.  Couldn’t really choose so we decided to go for the Chef’s menu. We did have some oysters which were half price because we had it before 6:30 or something.

 

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Luxumbourg Menu

couldn’t go past some 1/2 priced oysters so ordered 1/2 a dozen. Came with some tabasco, red wine vinaigrette shallots and horseradish. think some where some Claire De Clune oysters. (same oysters we had at Supernormal  (see review here ).

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Oyster condiments
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1/2 priced Oysters!
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Happily demolished them

Another common theme with the McConnell’s empire is raw dishes. Here we have sea bream sashimi, horseradish, buttermilk and dill. chefs who were preparing it were right in front of us, so our mouths were salivating like no tomorrow. Could do with some more sauce i felt. Can be a bit dry with horse radish. Refreshing regardless.

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Sea bream sashimi, horseradish, buttermilk & dill

Comparable to the lobster roll at Supernormal. Think their lobster roll is better, but just looking back at this photo, remembered how tasty this was. Crunchy soft shell crab and some nice tartare to go with it. nom nom!

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Soft shell crab sandwich, tartare & iceberg

We were practically full after having this charcuterie. The terrine was massive.

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Selection of charcuterie

Quite liked our pre main dish. Smoked duck with 2 types of radicchio (as you can it can be quite bitter) some cooked, some fresh. Add some acidity with the grapes does make a killing combination. Probably the dish of the day for me.

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Radicchio, smoked duck breast, grapes & walnut

Could hardly hold my stomach now but still got this to go through. Now we asians are picky when eating chicken. Westerners always like having the breast, asians the thigh. They did wrap chicken thigh in a fillet which was extremely succulent and soft. I thought the breast part was going to be a bit rough and dry, but they poached this to perfect. It was soft, juicy and had great flavour as well. Brussell Sprouts is not IK’s favourite but i liked it because i hardly eat it!

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½ roast chicken, bacon, Brussels sprouts & chestnut

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Forgot we had some salad to accompany it. So full right now.

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Mixed leaf salad

Ok IK obviously saved some space for the desserts. This Mille-feuille was delicious, crunchy. I wished they had bit more sauce again. Quince and creme was delicious as well.

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Mille-feuille, spiced quince & brown sugar cream

how about pumpkin for dessert? Haven’t had a pumpkin dessert for a while, but shows savoury ingredients can make good desserts as well. Great idea to use the pumpkin seeds to add some texture to the dish. Ice-cream on the side. Probably the better dessert out of the two.

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Pumpkin tart with ice-cream

IK was in desperate need for a coffee. not bad for restaurant quality coffee.

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Rating – 14.5/20

What we thought – You’d wonder whether the more restaurants you open, the quality will start to go downhill. I think Andrew McConnell is quite clever to seem to make every restaurant slightly different. They all seem like a different restaurant but when you look closely they have subtle similarities with the menu/decor.  The Food was overall quite good. Did prefer a bit more sauce with some of their dishes. Especially if its a European/French restaurant. Also thought the chef’s menu was a bit too much especially after the Charcuterie.

Will I come back again – Yes probably!

Deal of the day – 1/2 price oysters.

Luxembourg on Urbanspoon

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.

IMG_0164
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.

IMG_0170
Cassoulet
IMG_0166
CRABE & CELERI REMOULADE – shredded celeriac with mayonnaise and crab meat
IMG_0167
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.