Food Lately: October & November 2016

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Croquetas: Sweet Corn & Pickled Jalapeno & Chipotle Aioli (Pacos Tacos, Melbourne CBD)

These were perfectly fried, incredibly smooth and creamy on the inside with a great kick of of jalapenos, making it the perfect fried snack.

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Pad Thai: Thin rice noodles stir-fried with homemade Pad Thai sauce with vegetables (Chinese chives, dried shrimp, tofu and minced peanuts) and crispy pork (Nine Elephants, Docklands)

Apparently some people say this is one of the best Pad Thai in Melbourne. I can’t really argue with that. The sauce was so fragrant and balanced, but it also had body from the sweet, sour and (surprisingly) spice. I loved how well everything was coated. The crispy pork was a bit dry and felt like it had been re-fried.

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New Shanghai Xiao Long Bao/Steamed Pork Dumplings (New Shanghai, Melbourne CBD)

This is one of my favourite places for dumpling-style Chinese dishes. It helps that it’s not the hole-in-the-wall kind of place that is my other favourite dumpling place. Being Shanghai-nese, I’m proud of these xiao long bao. The thin, springy, almost-translucent skin houses piping hot meat soup (and meat). Delicious and perfect every time.

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Beef burger: Beef pattie, smoked bacon, beetroot relish, cheese, tomato, lettuce, American mustard, tomato sauce and aioli (The Beer and Burger Bar, Richmond)

I have a small list of my favourite burgers in Melbourne, and I didn’t expect to find this new contender. The size and construction was just right, the patty was delicious, and I loved the addition of the beetroot relish for some extra acidity and sweetness. Unfortunately the generous sauce was spilling everywhere around the halfway point of eating this thing and I was looking like a right mess. (The chips had great seasoning but were too fat for my liking).

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Dragon roll: Iside out roll with seared tuna, cucumber, avocado, tobiko, Japanese mayo, chilli sauce and spring onion (Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya, Fitzroy)

Yes I returned again! Three times in five months is literally unheard of for me as I rarely tend to revisit restaurants. This is one of my favourite rolls they make, especially because the chilli sauce packs a punch and it has all the right textural elements.

Food Lately: August & September 2016

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Takoyaki (Cafe Carpenter, Malvern East)

These takoyaki are the closest to authentic Japanese takoyaki that I’ve had in Melbourne – everywhere else in Melbourne has been a humongous disappointment. Like in Japan, they were soft and had a delightfully gooey consistency. Unlike Japan, there was very little octopus, but the batter itself and being cooked properly on the takoyaki grill already made it pretty darn scrumptious.

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Fish Fingers: White anchovies, tomato butter + parsley oil on toast fingers (Hercules Morse Kitchen + Bar, South Melbourne)

I have no idea why this restaurant is not more well known. It is incredible!!! On the most recent revisit, my favourite new dish was this little number. Since I hate anchovies, it is a huge testament that this ended up not only blowing my mind, but being my firm favourite! The salty and fishy taste was evident but subtle and beautifully balanced with the milder and smoother elements. A winner!

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Salted peanut brittle parfait with bruleed banana + butterscotch sauce (Hercules Morse Kitchen + Bar, South Melbourne)

I already mentioned this dessert last time, but I can’t help that it still stands tall and proud. I’ve proclaimed it is one of my favourite desserts of all time. The lovey (and extremely talented) husband and wife team behind this restaurant say people visit just to eat this. For good reason!

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Soft shell crab with Chimichurri sauce + red salsa (United Kitchen Dining and Tapas, St Kilda)

These were some of the largest and most fleshy soft shell crabs I’ve ever had! They were well fried and simply seasoned, so it was perfect to enjoy the flavour and meatiness of the crabs.

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Nori Taco with grilled salmon belly, sushi rice, spicy napa cabbage, Japanese mayo + chilli oil (Mr Miyagi, Windsor)

I loved this signature dish last time I visited and had been dying to gobble it again. There’s something about how over the top it is, and the combination of sushi elements, rich mayo, spice from the chilli oil, all stuffed into a (adorable) light and crispy seaweed taco, that is kind of irresistible.

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Churros (Mexico City, Bentleigh)

These churros were so crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and wonderful with the chocolate and caramel sauces. Yum!

Food lately: July 2016

Food lately: July 2016

July was an overwhelmingly delicious month of food!

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Prawn Cracker, Chopped Prawn, Bottarga, Seaweed Mayonnaise (Honcho Noodle, CBD)

I mentioned this meal in my money diary. Without harping on too much again, Adam Liston is one of my favourite chefs, and this was our first visit to his new pop-up restaurant while the new permanent restaurant is built (after closing down Northern Light, one of my favourite restaurants). This bite size prawn cracker dish has undergone small changes but remained from the previous restaurant. I’ve ordered it every single time and I still love it! This is such a delicious and perfect bite size dish.

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Spanner Crab Udon, Smoked Crab Butter, Yuzu, Kizami Nori (Honcho Noodle, CBD)

I had to pick another dish! I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a more delicious noodle dish. The juicy and wonderfully chewy udon noodles had absorbed so much flavour from the smoked crab butter and yuzu, which were two incredible and unique flavours when together. The crab and yuzu flavours were just incredible.

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Lemon Meringue Doughnut (Tivoli Road Bakery, South Yarra)

That’s the doughnut at the top. I’m really into lemon curd and seem to be trying to get any lemon curd pastry I see (I should learn how to make it!). I loved the texture of this fluffy doughnut and the strong tang of the lemon curd.

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Soft Shell Crab Taco with Blue Corn Tortilla, Sriracha Mayo & Cabbage Slaw (The Black Toro, Glen Waverley)

On the menu, it sounded pretty standard, but I always think the tiny parcel of a taco is actually quite difficult to get perfect. You need the perfect combination of textures and flavours in the right proportions. These tacos were pretty much right there – the crispy and fluffy soft shell crab, the creamy mayo, the kick from the sriracha, the slight tanginess and crunch from the slaw. As soon as we put the taco in our mouths, T and I looked at each other with a “wow” expression.

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Tako Rice Crisps; House smoked octopus on puffed rice (Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya, Fitzroy)

I visited Ichi Ni Nana (the third in the “Ichi” family, which I’m a huge fan of) for the first time halfway through July and ended up returning at the end of July because I enjoyed it so much! One thing I ordered both times was this (I seem to love these kind of bite size dishes, huh). The octopus had a wonderful smokey flavour, which I loved.

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Tori Soboro; Charcoal grilled rice cake skewers with ground chicken and Teriyaki sauce (Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya, Fitzroy)

The other thing I ordered both times were these skewers. I had actually had them before at the first “Ichi” restaurant (Ichi Ni Izakaya) and adored it then, and was thus excited to see it on the menu here. I’m obsessed with rice cakes, and I love the sweet and spicy ground chicken concoction they pour over the top. It’s so addictive!

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Sweet Potato and Corn Fritters with tomato chutney, poached egg, goats curd, cucumber, herb oil, spring onion, tomato and corn salsa (Operator25, CBD)

Operator25 is one of my favourite brunch restaurants! This was one of the best corn fritter brunch dishes I’ve ever had. I love corn fritters for brunch but have become rather fussy because I used to order it from pretty much every second brunch restaurant (and many dishes are subpar). Every element on this plate was delicious and worked so well together, and it also has pretty much everything I love. The fritters were really tasty with the sweet potato and I especially loved the chutney and goats curd for the contrasting flavours, and the tomato and corn salsa because as a corn lover I can never have enough corn.

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Bastourma & Egg; Armenian air dried beef, quail egg, toasted brioche & garlic jam (Sezar, CBD)

Oh dear why do I love bite size dishes so much?! The brioche and egg were ridiculously soft and light and literally melted in your mouth. Delicious!

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New Style Baklava; Crispy filo, walnut toffee ice cream & salted caramel (Sezar, CBD)

I suppose it had the flavour profile of a baklava, but even without that resemblance this was a mouthwatering dessert. The walnut toffee and salted caramel flavours were done so well and the dessert was satisfying without being too sweet.

Food lately: June 2016

It’s time for another round of iPhone photos featuring my favourite dishes from the past month!

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Spanner Crab, Konbu & Smoked Eel (Estelle by Scott Pickett, Northcote)

This was definitely not an ordinary meal! It was a very special occasion and I still plan on sharing the whole experience on the blog, but gosh I’m no food blogger and I don’t know what to write, so I’ve been procrastinating! Anyway, one of my favourite dishes from the night at ESP was this beauty. My goodness, the spanner crab was so delicate and flavoursome. There was incredible umami in this… big plate of little food (hehe), having the perfect marriage of three distinct seafood flavours that play really smoothly on each other.

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Nihon Nemesis – Delicate chocolate cake, raspberry kanten, matcha, raspberry sorbet, honeycomb (Sake, Southbank)

I don’t think I’m that easily impressed by dessert. But this adorable plate stole my heart! I thought this had everything I could want in a well-crafted dessert – sweetness, acidity, creaminess, crunch, even cooling sorbet! The balance of the main flavours (raspberry and chocolate) was spot on. Plus it looked spot on.

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Pad thai prawn (Sumalee, Bentleigh)

I’ve visited this little Thai place out in the ‘burbs a few times. I always get the pad thai here, because (apart from the fact that I always get pad thai from Thai restaurants) it’s super tasty, generous in ingredients and pretty darn good looking. Now that I’ve learnt that “not all pad thai is good pad thai” after tasting some subpar ones, I’m more appreciative of the really good ones.

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Zangi senbei – Crispy chicken cracker with spicy Kewpie mayo (Ponshu Kiroro, CBD)

Obviously I haven’t tried enough Hokkaido food because I was expecting something more like a senbei. What came out was much softer. It was definitely deep fried, but the inside was quite chewy, almost a halfway towards mochi. So it was like a chewy-crispy cracker… does that even make sense?! It was strangely addictive though, and I would absolutely order this again when I return. But it’s also quite heavy just to eat half of this…

Food: Eating in this long weekend

This long weekend, I decided on T’s and my behalf that we wouldn’t eat out. The previous week we had eaten out a lot for various special occasions and a few unexpected finances had crept up on me, so I was keen to save some money.

Our first genius idea was to buy some ingredients for hot pot. I didn’t even realise T owned some nifty hot pot devices. The sliced lamb and beef was delicious, but the expensive Korean pork neck we got was a fail. We also had the worst dukbokki… as soon as they touched water then broke apart! I’ve never seen such a thing! We ended up splitting everything across two nights of hot pot where we stuffed ourselves silly. It was a lot of food. But we still couldn’t finish the massive wombok! Even though some of what we purchased wasn’t amazing, it was still a super delicious and incredibly fun two meals, and perfect for winter.

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With some of the hot pot broth and a few of the ingredients, we also made a simple soup noodle for lunch. It was great use of the broth, which had amazing flavour.

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Even though we couldn’t have brunch, we made our own simple versions. T made an omelette. I made an easy avo smash with a generous amount of lemon (just how I like it), a tiny strip of bacon, and some scrambled eggs. I couldn’t resist some sriracha on the side… because, well, I always want sriracha.

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This was a light salad I made for myself, with freekeh, cucumber, beetroot and tuna. I did have a hunt for dessert later in the night.

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On the last lunch, we almost gave up but I threw the idea of an easy baked eggs, using canned tomato, some sausage and (of course) eggs. It worked a treat! I had made something like it before, and I think more ingredients do make it better, but even the simplest version makes a hearty brunch dish. I would also go with more toast but only had one slice of bread to share, haha. Frugal life.

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