Friday, April 25, 2008


Location: Mt Alexander Rd, Moonee Ponds
Cuisine: Greek
Company: Kate and Katie (high school yeah!)

Mix of modern and traditional Greek fare. Had Entree and Mains.
The dip was average, no better or worse than the tzasiki(sp?) that comes out of a supermarket. At least to my taste buds. The goat cheese starter was awesome though. Really salty but really yummy. You have to squeeze a bit of lemon on it apparently!
Mains were great!
I had moussaka (mince sauce with potatoe, zucchini and eggplant baked under a fluffy cheese blanket). Very yummy and filling but a tad too salty. I think next time I'd get the vegetarian version coz it was the vegies in it that were the best!
Kate had lamb cutlets and they were BEAUTIFUL. Really juicy and tender. Not smelly at all. Loved it.
Katie had the best dish- a seafood risotto. It wasn't at all gluggy and there was heaps of seafood in it. This is what I'm getting next time. Hands down, best dish.
What set this place apart was the fact that all the ingredients were so fresh. You can really taste the quality of the produce they use. Very nice.
Unfortunately, like most Greek food, it tended towards the salty side but hey, that's what you need water and bread for!

~Atmosphere and Service~
Lots of buzz. Lots of people. one man put a menu on his head. :S
Service was a bit too slow, we waited quite a while for mains but lucky we had entrees to keep us occupied. However, the quality of the food made up for the wait time. I like that they don't serve inferior food even though it was soooo busy. Basically the restuarant went from 2/3 empty to full capacity in 20 mins. No wonder the kitchen was stressed out! So the delay was definitely forgivable.

Bit pricey, by uni student standards. Mains about $20-$30 dollars. Risotto was more expensive ($27.00) but considering what you get, its not so bad.
The three of us spent just over $100 inc drinks so it wasn't a cheap meal.

~Fructose friendliness~
Very helpful. When I asked the waitress about making food fructose free she was very nice and said and i quote 'oh, onions is easy. We can just give you unmarinated stuff!"
Contrast this to Jim's Greek Tavern.
They did say we should ring ahead first.

~Overall Impression~
Loved the food- generous servings cooked well using fresh ingredients! (the saltiness seems to be a characteristic of the genre and not the restaurant. it would be like marking an indian place down for being too spicy)
Would have got an extra point if only it wasn't so expensive... I'd definitely go back there. And take friends!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beijing Gourmet (东方水饺)

Location: Whitehorse Road, Box Hill
Cuisine: Chinese... as with most shops in Box Hill
Company: family, family friends

My dad wanted to shout some family friends dinner after they got back from Macau. Being over the whole large restaurant experience, we decided to opt for something a little different.

The place is known for it's snack-like dishes, a similar approach to what you get at yum cha but there are no trolleys. The menu was quite extensive and we ordered a heap of dishes ranging from dumplings to kebabs. Some of the top dishes:
  • Noodle salad - thin flat noodles with preserved carrots etc, the lot was marinated in a slightly spicy, slightly sour dressing...mmm...
  • Dumplings - could be steamed or fried, and came in three or four different varieties such as lamb, seafood etc.
  • Asian-ised sauerkraut soup - served with chicken and vermicelli in a little clay pot
  • Xinjiang kebabs - these were awesome, made a mistake in asking for the spicy ones but still, so very very nice.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Box Hill is not renowned for it's service, and we didn't expect much. The waitresses were able to explain the dishes to us and we got everything we asked for. I consider that decent service.

Some of the dishes were a little pricey in terms of the serving sizes but the dumplings and kebabs were quite cheap in comparison to other places.

~Overall Impression: 8.5/10~
The variety of food means that you can go there even when you're not really hungry, and just nibble on small dishes. It's a good alternative to yum cha if you're sick of it!
Beijing Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Kun Ming

Location: 212 Little Bourke Street (Chinatown, between Swanston and Russell Streets)
Cuisine: Chinese
Company: Christine

When I eat out, I don't eat much Chinese food, usually because we have family dinners at the Chinese restaurants in Doncaster and that since most of my friends are Asian, we're all sick of Asian. The lawyer I did work experience with took me to this place once and I loved the atmosphere and quality of food that I've taken Christine there twice.

The first time we went there was for lunch. We ordered soup, prawns with vegies, and fried chicken with plum sauce and rice. The chicken was awesome and very unique because the sauce wasn't visible - in fact, the chicken had been marinated in it before being coated, so that it was crispy on the outside and sweet on the inside. The bonus of that was that the crispy coating couldn't go soggy like sweet and sour pork does.

Being so impressed with the place, when C came back to Melbourne over the summer, I took her there again, but this time for lobster. We managed to finish a 1.5lbs lobster with noodles and vegies between us, and I finally got to show to her what I had been harping on about for over a year! On top of that, I think I drank too many pots of tea.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Being one of the smaller Chinese restaurants in Chinatown [compared to Dragonboat and the like], the service has always been surprising good. They knew when to approach us and when to stay away.

Compared to the suburbs and maybe some of the smaller restaurants, the prices hint on the expensive side of things. I don't mind paying the extra though, because you can almost guarantee that the food is going to be good, especially if you order their specials.

~Overall Impression: 9.5/10~
I'll always keep this in mind when I'm out for Asian, there aren't many places I'd eat at for Asian in the city, and this certainly tops the list.
Kun Ming Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Groove Train

Location: Level 3, Melbourne Central [near Hoyts]
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Company: various

Groove Train is the place to go to when you don't know what you want to eat. They have an extensive menu ranging from pastas and risottos to satay chicken on rice to steaks, salads and focaccias. The possibilities are endless! Key favourite dishes:
  • Calamari and octopus salad - this has the most awesome dressing... and the calamari is always soft and chewy
  • Fried calamari - mmm, tartare sauce
  • Porterhouse steak - but more of a dinner dish than anything
The food is always of decent quality, although I do tend to stray away from the Asian dishes, you wouldn't order Italian food at a Korean restaurant, likewise I prefer not to order Asian dishes at an Australian restaurant.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The service is always pretty friendly, and it's nice to sit outside on the couches because they leave you alone more, and of course it's more comfortable. Even inside, the atmosphere is relaxing and casual.

Mains around around $15 - $20, more for the steak and some seafoods.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
This place never fails me, there is always something decent to eat and the service is quite good. It's almost a regular place to eat, except that our aim at the moment is to try as many new places as possible!
Groove Train on Urbanspoon

La Camera

Location: Southgate
Cuisine: Italian, Modern Australian
Company: Stace, Mel, Mandy, YC, Anna, Alex, Ed, Peter

Having overlooked the fact that all the restaurants would be full due to Valentine's Day, we spent over an hour searching for a place that would give us a table without having to wait for an hour. Strolled along Southbank, then finally managed to get a table of 9 at La Camera in Southgate. The table was so coolly shaped!!!

Ordered the Pollo Prezemolo which was essentially a piece of chicken stuffed with cheese and sundried tomatoes, wrapped in prosciutto and served with some white wine sauce and mashed sweet potatoes. The chicken was nice, not too dry and the stuffing inside was awesome. The sauce was surprisingly nice for wine [I don't like wine]. The two downfalls were the mash and the serving size. The sweet potato mash tasted more like mashed pumpkin, and the serving was quite tiny... as in, the food would have covered maybe a third of the plate!! However, by the end of it, I was sufficiently full and the dessert filled up that last remaining bit. Mel and Stace ordered tiramisu, which was quite good... Then Anna chose a dark chocolate calzone... oozing with chocolate and served with fresh strawberries...mmmm.... I want more now...

~Atmosphere and Service~
The service went from high to low. When we first inquired about a table, they made one up for us in 10 minutes [compared to these one hour waits at other places] and the waiter was very friendly. Once the food arrived though, the service dropped. Everyone's food all came out at once except for Mel's. And when we asked about it, one waitress said that it was "on it's way", however, another few minutes later, we asked another waitress who went out the back and finally brought it out. When we asked for more water, the waiter took the jug away, and forgot to bring it back. Alhough in comparison to other places we've been, I guess the service was still pretty decent.

Mains were around $20-$25

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
Given that they were able to immediately set up a table for us on a night where we hadn't found any, the place deserves some brownie points. Will recommend this place for a nice dinner.

Cafe Max

Location: Hardware Lane
Cuisine: Italian
Company: Jie

Since Jie had been craving for pasta for almost a week now, we finally went in search of a good place to eat. Stumbled across Cafe Max whilst perusing Menulog for restaurants to add to our growing list of places to eat at. The cafe was one of the many places hidden away in Hardware Lane - a place we always seem to overlook when looking for somewhere to eat - and was surprisingly spacey inside. Ordered a Peking duck risotto and linguine marinara. Although the servings were quite small [in comparison to other places], they had a lot of decent content. The risotto had heaps of duck where other places would sprinkle some on, and the linguine had lots of seafood.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The service was quite good, the waiter who seated us was friendly and didn't mind giving us extra plates [for good old Asian dining lol!].

Somewhat pricey, but for a decent meal, it was worth it.

~Overall Impression~
Will possibly return when we crave good quality food, as for value for money, this is not the place to go.


Location: Menzies Lane, Melbourne Central, next to Max Brenners
Cuisine: Fusion, Thai
Company: Jeanie

Ordered a roast duck curry with roti and Penang prawn noodles. Mmmmm... Still not quite sure whether it is Thai or Malaysian, but the food was awesome and the servings were pretty big - although we finished everything. Not sure if my appetite is growing due to all the eating out I've done!! The water tasted somewhat funny and the waitress showed hints of annoyance when I asked if they flavoured the water. She claimed it was possibly lemon juice, I still think otherwise.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The service [as implicitly as I said it above] was fairly low. From the moment we asked if there were tables upstairs, we got a feeling that the waitress just didn't want to be there! Instead of a quick explanation that it wasn't opened at lunchtime, she bluntly told us that we couldn't go up and had to sit downstairs. Then when we asked for plates to share, she seemed annoyed [at having to wash extra plates?]. The atmosphere was okay, a little crowded since they were cramming everyone in downstairs, but at the same time it was quiet and comfortable.

Somewhat expensive but the food was well worth it.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
There is quite an extensive lunch menu, I can only imagine the dinner one. Location is convenient and assuming there is more seating upstairs, I'd like to try it out for dinner sometime.

Oriental Spoon

Location: La Trobe Street, Melbourne [near Elizabeth Street]
Cuisine: Korean
Company: Stace, Jane, Anna, Alex, YC, YMG, Ed, Peter

Most of us ordered the same thing - the stone bowl bulgogi. There was a good mix of meat, vegies and rice. And the rice even came somewhat crispy where it had been stuck to the stone bowl. It came with that sizzling effect that those sizzling plates of meat usually come with. On the other hand, I still think I prefer Jap food. The service was minimal, no harassment, which was good given that most places we've been to harass you time and time again about ordering and such. Atmosphere was pretty good, we've been there once before ages and ages ago and it hadn't changed much. Just much quieter on a weekday lunch.

~Atmosphere and Service~
As with most Asian places [apart from the expensive dining restaurants], the service is minimal. The highlight for Jane and Alex would have been the Korean waiters...

Cheap for the amount of food there was.

~Overall Impression: 7.5/10~
Quite decent and affordable.
Oriental Spoon on Urbanspoon

Thanh He

Location: Victoria Street, [near Hoddle Street] Richmond
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Company: Dad and aunties

My dad took my aunties and I out to Richmond for lunch at a place called Thanh He. He had been hanging out to try this ‘seven course beef feast’ for almost a year and finally had an excuse to go. It was awesome, basically beef cooked in seven different ways. From memory they were:
  1. Rare beef with lemon juice: basically really thinly sliced beef with carrots and onions marinated in fish sauce and lemon juice. I still think that this was the best dish of them all.
  2. Beef in betel leaves: minced beef wrapped in leaves that tasted very much like banana leaves
  3. Beef on skewers: well, there was no stick, but it looked like it was only one skewer. Can’t remember if the menu had it as plural or if I had just assumed it was another fobby typo.
  4. Beef quiche: well, that was the English translation; the Chinese version called it a beef ball. Apparently the Viet version was something different yet again. I don’t think any of them could really describe it though. Basically it was a flattened ball of beef mince with peanuts and other stuff, covered with some other leaf.
  5. Vinegar-dipping broth: weirdest name but essentially it was a small steam-boat filled with vinegar and sugar. We were given a plate of raw beef and onions, rice paper rounds, lettuce leaves, cucumbers and dipping sauce, and left to our own devices to cook the beef in the broth and then make rice paper rolls out of it…mmm….
  6. Sizzling beef: the usual sizzling plate, but this time empty and with a plate of raw beef and butter. Basically we were supposed to grill the meat and eat it in whichever way struck us fancy. I ended up making more rice paper rolls.
  7. Beef congee: typical viet style congee with beef… nothing spectacular but good to wash down the meal with

~Atmosphere and Service~
Service was a little gruff, but the focus was all on the food. Will so be going back there one day for more.

Quite cheap. The banquet was $20 per person, but between of the four of us, we ordered a three person meal, and had leftovers. Well worth it.

~Overall Impression: 10/10~
Was very impressed by the variety in the ways the beef was cooked. And very surprised I managed to try all of them, given my pickiness with foods.


Location: Causeway Lane, off Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Company: Jenn and Jie

We ordered an Asian tasting platter [mmmm.... dipping sauce.... mmmm....], a Peking duck risotto and a meat lovers pizza. The food was awesome, especially the dipping sauce and the prawns and calamari on the platter. The risotto wasn't too bad. The pizza was especially crispy and stacked with toppings.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Whilst the waitresses were nice, we had to wait OVER HALF AN HOUR before we got our food. Our anger could have been mitigated had the waitress at least apologised and given us an explanation [eg, we expected the pizza to take a while, but certainly not the tasting platter]. But she went from being super-friendly when seating us, to avoiding eye contact while we were waiting for the food. Then when the food finally came, she started being super-friendly again. They didn't even bring poor Jenn's drink out until we questioned them about it!

The standard price you pay for lunch in a cafe these days, around $15-$20 for a main.

~Overall Impression: 7.5/10~
Despite the food being so nice, I doubt we'll be returning there anytime soon, especially not when we have better things to do than wait 30 minutes for a 'quick lunch'.

Universal Pizza, Pasta and Ribs

Location: 141 Lygon Street, Carlton
Cuisine: Italian... what else do you get on Lygon?
Company: Jenn - on one of our Wednesday 3 hour feasts

We had our eyes on the dessert menu, more specifically, the lemon and sugar crepes. So we kept the mains to a minimum - ordered a small pizza and a small pasta. The word 'small' was quite an underestimate. The servings were pretty huge for the description and we nevertheless stuffed ourselves. The pizza was crispy, the pasta was more bland and in my opinion, could have used more sauce. Nevertheless, we finally got around to getting the crepe, which was fantastic.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very casual, nothing like the traditional Italian service where they wait on you constantly. They came if you asked them to, but otherwise left you to your own devices.

Quite cheap, our mains were around $10 each, and the crepe was about $8.

~Overall Impression: 8/10~
I'm going back again, even if it's just for the crepe!!
Universal on Urbanspoon

Jim's Greek Tavern

Location: Collingwood
Genre: Greek
Company: Jeanie

Decor & Atmosphere: It's meant to be authentic greek decor. Little tables, family feel, blue place mats. Very mom and pop type of thing. However, whilst the restaurant itself looked very nice, the atmosphere had a lot to be desired. There is no menu - so you have no idea what there is, or what it costs. The waiters and staff were not nice at all, and attempted to screw you out of as much money as possible by 'suggesting' food that are typically given as side dishes (like a 'SALAD WITH YOUR MEAL'), but in actual fact they sell them as separate dishes. They were not happy that i dared ask if they could serve my food onion-free, and attempted to make me feel guilty when asking for chips because "we have to hand slice them if we do that"...when it turns out that they HAND SLICE THEM ANYWAY (which we found out because the waiter was sucking up to a big family in the table behind us). By the way, don't expect 2 out of 3 of the waiters to understand much english.

The Food: 5/10
I ordered the snapper (with salad) and jeanie ordered lamb. The snapper was nice, but a little dry. The salad contained nothing but lettuce, rocket, and ONION. Jeanie's lamb was very salty, and a bit overcooked. Not what we expected at all from the rave reviews we read in the Good Food Guide.

The Price: Excessive
$30 for the snapper, $10 for the salad, and $25 for the lamb. Utter rip off. What got me was that they charged me for the salad, which they offered with my meal, without telling me that it would cost money. Quite frankly, it was overpriced, and the food wasn't even that good quality.

Fructose Friendliness: Not friendly at all. They didn't seem to understand how not to put an onion into a meal, when specifically told NO ONION. I was sick for 2 days afterward.

Overall Impression: 1/10
If i am going to order a meal, at least give it to me the way i asked. I said i had an allergy, and they not only didn't listen, they did not care. Quite frankly, i don't care if they are 'the oldest greek restauarant in Melbourne', their customer service was absolutely pathetic and there is no way in the depths of Hell that i would ever deign to eat there again, let alone recommend it to my friends.


Location: Crown (gaming area)
Genre: Seafood & grill.
Company: Marky

Decor & Atmosphere: Brown and white. Quite pretty but unobtrusive. Much nicer now, post renovation. We normally rock up there quite early in the evening (coz we're lame and hungry) so our company du jour are old pensioners getting the early bird specials. *embarassing* But the times when we've been later in the evening, its usually full of people from all walks of life. After all, it's Crown. It's not quite fine dining but its very relaxed, buzzing place with the head chef out front yelling orders. That makes you feel like you're watching an episode of Chopping Block or something. Pretty cool.

The Food: 9/10
This is one of my regular haunts. Love this place. Nice, unpretentious food. I've had steaks here (good) but what I normally get is the 2 tier seafood platter. I prefer the hot seafood platter to the cold one coz its better value and hot food is generally yummier. As Mark calls it, it's a Seafood bonanza. They've recently decreased the size of the bonanza sadly but it's still awesome. On the bright side, the quality has improved and the seafood was really succulent last night.
So what's included in this bonaza?
- 1/2 a crayfish (really good. nice and meaty and sweet)
- 1 whole fish (we chose sea bream. YUM! I really liked the snapper last time too)
- 6 oysters (i asked to have them natural. I hate the kilpatrick sauce and overcookness of the hot oysters. Sadly the only cooked oysters worth their salt are the stamed asian style ones in my opinion)
- 6 mussels (average, but still good)
- 4 scallops (a wee bit oily but who doesnt like scallops)
- 1 crab (i think their crab is average, but Mark really likes it)
- 4 prawns (juicy this time! last time was a bit dry)
- 3 pieces of squid (why 3?)
- Bowl of chips
- Bowl of salad
- Dipping sauces (thousand island and tatare)

I love this place. The food is simply grilled and delicious. (Even when it's slightly overdone...) It's great variety and good service. They changed our plates heaps since there were so many shells. I thought our table was slightly too small but meh, can't complain.
I didn't get dessert this time coz we went out for green tea icecream but i also really like their sticky date pudding. Caramel sauce is great.

The Price: Reasonable
At $83 for the two of us it's a bit expensive for students but considering you're getting nothing but seafood it's pretty worth it. It used to be better value for money coz there was about 1/4 more food but considering the quality is better now, I'm still satisfied with it. Quality over quantity (provided there's still enough quantity!)
Plus, we used our entertainment card which meant we paid $55. $55 for all that yummy goodness. We walked away with super big smiles on our faces!

Fructose friendliness:
Like most grills the food is cooked with minimal marinades and fancy stuff. So it is very fructose friendly. The whole hot seafood platter is cooked sans onions and Mark just needed to avoid the sauces. He doesn't really eat salad so it fact that it had tomato and sauce was no big deal.
When we went there previously, the steak can be cooked without sauce as well.

Overall Impressions: 9.5/10
This is still one of my favs. The seafood is always very fresh and high quality. I still wish everything was a little less dry but, hey, that's what a GRILL is. I love the value for money, the laid back atmosphere and the good memories.

Kra Ta Ron

Location: On Lonsdale, Near Swanston
Genre: Thai
Company: Jenster

Decor & Atmosphere:
Very typically Thai. Lots of Batik and scary masks and such. Started off a bit rocky with being seated in front of the door but progressed nicely. The owner/manager lady was so lovely. If i were her, I'd get a pissed off coz we were a bit demanding.

The Food: 8/10
We had Thai barbeque which is like hot pot but you can also grill your food. Heaps of fun. We overcooked our food a bit but, hey, you can't be too careful! The meats and squid were really yummy and the soup was delicious by the end. But the alloted portions for two were not quite enough (although Jen and I do eat a lot). We had to order a few additional plates (the additional plates were worth the money. The servings were quite big. Don't get the baby octopus. It wasnt as much fun as it looked and didn't taste so great either. I'd recommend get the beef and pork but not the chicken (it goes flakey) and get extra stock (i think it's free) coz the soup is delicious! And get lots of egg noodle/ rice noodle to soak up the stock. YUM.
The special Thai beverages weren't all that special though. Next time I'll stick to water.

The Price:
At just on $60 for food & drink. So about $30/ person and you'll walk away VERY full.

Fructose friendliness:
First let me say, the manager/owner was brilliant. She knew what fructose WAS and was very understanding. She explained there was onion in the soup stock but that they could make it for us without onion. I was like :O wow. She also said they could make the stirfries and things without onion also. Very impressed. The placed seemed clean too and all the food prep seemed exceptional. Of course, coconut curries cannot be changed so some of the menu is still off limits but a definite possiblity for the future.

Overall Impressions:
Definitely will go there again. Will recommend to others. Good food, lovely staff and not overpriced for dinner (even if we did cook it for ourselves but that's part of the fun)

Went back here about a week ago. Now hotpot is buffet only. You have to pay $25 and you get all you can eat of the ingredients provided. I dunno if it's as good value coz my parents and i decided to eat normal dishes.

Welcome to Gluttony Gluttony...

One of the seven deadly sins, gluttony surrounds us. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, supper, snacks, the list goes on.

Finally got around to making a blog to store all our feasting adventures. Over the next few weeks, I'll be transferring some of my previous restaurant reviews into this site.