Saturday, May 31, 2008


Location: 454 Whitehorse Road Mitcham [between Rooks and Mitcham Roads]
Cuisine: Italian
Company: Dan

Went to Majenta once with Jean about a year ago and we both absolutely loved the Tuscan grill, which gave the restaurant a high rating in our opinions. The place is nice and local, but comparatively, could match or even beat many of the places at Crown.

The menu isn't very long, but at the same time it covers a wide variety of food. Dan ordered the Porterhouse steak, I ordered a dish called 'involitini a la romana', which was basically a dish of veal wrapped in prosciutto rolled around some asparagus spears. The veal was really tender and well-marinated. The sauce was also quite tasty, which meant the vegies on the side were also quite nice. The non-alcoholic drinks menu was rather limited, and they didn't stock flavoured San Pelligrino - instead the waitress talked me into ordering a chinota, which tasted awful.

For dessert, Dan ordered a raspberry pizza [although using strawberries instead of raspberries because they had 'run out of raspberries'], and I ordered chocolate mousse. Both were fantastic, but huge!

~Atmosphere and Service~
Nice and classy. You can treat the place as a nice and quiet place for dinner, or a casual family meal. The waiters are quite friendly and helpful, and the food arrived within a reasonable time frame.

Very decently priced as the servings were pretty large and the quality was superb. Definitely Crown restaurant quality, if not better.

~Overall Impression: 9.5/10~
Been there twice now and both times thoroughly enjoyed it. Will definitely be back for more!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Toff in Town

Location: Curtin House, above Cookie on Swanston Street near Lonsdale Street
Cuisine: French, Spanish, Modern Australian
Company: Dan, Stace, YC

The Toff is tucked away at the top of Curtin House. After climbing numerous flights of steps, past Cookie, you arrive at a smallish entrance. In front of you is the bar, to your right is a train-like structure, composed of multiple booths. Each booth has its own doors and blinds for privacy, as well as a 'alert' button for when you require service. Bookings only, the place is nice and warm, with some bands playing in the background.

After some initial confusion and hesitation about the menu - which consisted of a number of French, Italian and Spanish words that we did not understand, we opted to share 3 main dishes, a cheese board and two desserts:
  • Air Dried Wagyu with Parmesan & Artichoke Panna Cotta [$18.50]
  • Brochette of Scallops & Salmon wrapped in Jamon with Almond & Rice Salad [$22.50]
  • Smoked Duck Breast with Spiced Currant & Red Cabbage Salad [$21.50]
  • Cheese board with 3 cheeses, crackers and walnuts [$18.50]
  • Caramelised Orange with Chocolate Mousse & Brandy Snaps [$12.50]
  • Flourless Black Forrest Cake with Morello Cherries [$13.00]
[Caramelised Orange with Chocolate Mousse & Brandy Snaps]

Yes, dishes copied directly from menu, I don't have that good a memory!

This was the first time I have ever tasted Wagyu and it was very well done. Thinly sliced, it tasted a little bit like salami but also it's own unique flavour. The scallops and salmon were extremely well-cooked, the Jamon wrapping it was again thinly sliced and full of flavour. The almonds and rice in the salad gave it a nice texture. The duck breast was fantastic, smokey and not too oily. The salad of currants and red cabbage wasn't too bad either.

The cheese board came with brie, blue vein and a tougher cheese that tasted a bit like parmesan. The crackers were, well, just crackers, the dough pieces were a little nicer. Dessert was token. The black forrest cake was nice and soft, rich with chocolate and drizzled with cream. The brandy snaps and chocolate mousse were devine, the snaps had a nice ginger tang to them.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Nice and secluded, a good sense of privacy, and the waiters were extremely helpful and attentive. It can be a little noisy but with the doors shut, some background noise can be easily cut out.

Slightly on the expensive side [prices listed above already]. The servings were not huge, but as our waiter warned us, there weren't made so much as for a meal as for a 'delicacy'. There were a lot of new flavours we hadn't tried before and probably would not have been game enough to try on our own, but well worth the experience!

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
Absolutely loved the place. Would have liked a slightly more extensive menu, or the inclusion of a few more 'normal' dishes but the atmosphere and the service just make the place that little bit more special compared to other restaurants!

Ghin Khao

Location: Swanston Street, between Lonsdale and Little Bourke Streets
Cuisine: Thai
Company: Mandy

The menu was rather large in size...with the dishes grouped under logical headings such as 'rice' and 'noodles' etc. There were some key dishes such as Tom Yum with variants - chicken, prawns and vegetarian, and some unique dishes too. Mandy went for a fried rice, I opted for the Tom Yum prawns with noodles. The soup was nice, not too spicy, just the right taste. The noodles were like thin rice noodles and carried the flavour of the soup well. The prawns were fresh and there were plenty of them. Mandy's fried rice took a little while to arrive but with a squeeze of lemon, tasted wonderful.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very casual, the waitresses were attentive when you needed them, otherwise they just left you alone. My Tom Yum arrived rather quickly, the fried rice took a little longer.

Slightly on the expensive side compared to the usual $8 - $10 cheap Asian food, but for dishes that were rich in flavour and satisfying, well worth it.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
Good food, rich in flavour, rather quick service.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Seoul House

Location: 234 Russell Street, near corner of Lonsdale
Cuisine: Korean, BBQ
Company: Dan

Seoul House is a hidden on the second floor near the corner of Russell and Lonsdale Streets. Once you make it up the narrow staircase, you will notice that the place is rather spacious, essentially the size of two rooms. seating is comfortable and spaciousThe tables have built in BBQ hot plates.

The menu wasn't too bad. Not extensive, but not so limited that we didn't find anything worth ordering either. The place specialises in Korean BBQ so we ordered a beef bulgogi BBQ along with stir-fried seafood, rice and Korean pancake [which was supposed to be an entree but arrived last of all the dishes!]. As with most Korean places, we also got complimentary side dishes, and there were a lot of them too! The beef was fantastic - well-marinated, tender and had that nice smokey flavour from the BBQ. The pancake was really interesting, reminded me of the fried oyster pancakes from Taiwanese night markets, but was stuffed with a variety of seafood and crispy. A few of the side dishes were quite good, whilst others tasted solely of chilli. The stir-fry was a little ordinary and could have done with more flavour.

[The multitudes of complimentary side dishes]

[Korean pancake stuffed with small bites of seafood]

[Beef bulgogi BBQ]

[Stir-fried seafood with vegetables]

~Atmosphere and Service~
The service was pleasant, fast and non-intrusive. The waitresses were quick to respond to our requests and were very knowledgeable about the menu and the servings. We ordered the pancake on their recommendation and were very pleased with it, although as an entree, it should have come out first but instead came out last.

In comparison with other Korean restaurants, the prices were quite reasonable. Dishes were between $15 to $20. A three person BBQ pack was around $50. Drinks as usual are a little more pricey.

~Overall Impression: 8/10~
Was quite pleased with the food and service provided. Will be returning for the BBQ.
Seoul House Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Vietnamese Grill Restaurant

Location: Swanston Street, between Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Company: Jenn

Both our parents had been to this place already and given us great feedback, so we decided we would try it out for ourselves.

The menu had a range of traditional Vietnamese dishes like betal beef and rice paper rolls, as well as some with more of a Chinese influence like roast duck noodles. There was also a rather extensive range of drinks on the menu too. I ordered the crispy chicken on rice and a coconut and green jelly drink. Jenn ordered crab meat noodles and the same drink. My rice was somewhat ordinary, I guess after ordering I wish I had ordered the betal beef instead. The jelly in the drink was a little tougher than it should have been.

~Atmosphere and Service~
If you want a place with proper service, this is not it. The waitress not only had a limited grasp of English, they were completely clueless. There were special combos on the walls for certain set meals, all of which came with a logan drink. I checked the menu and the jelly drink was the same price, so we both asked to change it. Not only did the waitress say it couldn't be done, she also couldn't give us a reason! Later on we called another waitress over and asked her, she also didn't know.

Quite cheap, around $8 - $10 for mains, about $4 for drinks. Combos were about $13 but quite limited in flexibility.

~Overall Impression: 5.5/10~
May come back for a quick feed if after Viet food - since Mekong was found to have some health issues - but won't be sitting on my top food list.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Why are the servings so much smaller at Jam Factory TGI than at their other outlets.
(It can't be the quality of service since it was quite awful and slow) (It couldn't have been the chef coz my steak was not medium well)

What could it be...?

Monday, May 19, 2008


I'm lazy, so mini-reviews of random places I've been to. Company: various

Location: Box Hill, Station St (next to Time Zone)
Cuisine: Chinese

Large portions, always pretty filling. They have a family buffet which is $52 and which is soup, four mains and dessert. I never leave hungry. The 'spicy beef/fish' (la zhu niu rou/yu-no, i cannot translate from Chinese) is great (not too spicy unless you're from Northern China or Taiwan, and don't eat true cooking) and my brother likes the Sweet n Sour Chicken. Basically it's just the cheapest decent eat I know, pho restaurants aside. 3/5

~Atmosphere and Service~ 2/5
It's a Chinese restaurant and most of the waitstaff look like they're doing arts degrees.

Mains around 12-15 each.

~Overall Impression~
6.8/10. Great value & portions, mediocre service, good location.

Location: Crown
Cuisine: French

~Food~ I loved the food. We chose from the pre-theatre menu which is two courses per person. (Choose from entree, main, dessert.) The entree was chicken liver and foie gras terrine with onion jam. It was a lot more appetising than it sounds. The jam was sweet and subtle and went well with the terrine. Mains were a fillet of John Dory with potato and balsamic vinaigrette and beef sirloin steak with fries. I ordered the steak medium and it was very, very tender. It was just a steak, i.e. nothing else except some bearnaise sauce (I have no idea what that is), but it was filling. Dessert was chocolate marquise (similar to mousse but not as whipped) with vanilla sorbet and some pistachio thingy. Probably the best dish. Small but pretty and very rich. The wine was also good, but pricey. 4.5/5

~Atmosphere and Service~ 3.5/5
There's downstairs & upstairs, inside and out. We ate outside which has a good view of the Yarra and the city's lights. There are heaters so it's not cold except for occasional gusts of wind. The maitre'd had an awesome russian accent and was very helpful, and the waiters were prompt, but very busy.

Pre-theatre menu is $38 a person. Wines about 10-14 per glass.

~Overall Impression~
really liked it. 8/10
The Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Location: Lygon (near Grattan)
Cuisine: Italian/skip
I had the pizza, made with thin crust like the real thing, but without a whole lot of base. Pretty passable but nothing special. The desserts are quite nice, though, particularly the pancakes and ice cream. Servings are large. 3/5

~Atmosphere and Service~ 3.5/5
I just like the fact that this place is nearby, open till late and pretty relaxed. There're always enough people to have some atmosphere but not too many, and there's usually soccer on the TV. Service is prompt and tables are very comfy.

About 8-14 a dish.

~Overall Impression~

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lotus and Bamboo

Location: Carrington Road, Box Hill
Cuisine: Chinese, Taiwanese
Company: family

Having been there once before and quite content with their service, we headed there again after my dad saw new hotpot specials in the Chinese newspaper.

We ordered a 4-person banquet as well as a hotpot... which was definitely over-ordering! The banquet was good as they were flexible with changing some of the meals. We ended up with:
  • Entrees of seaweed ties, fried tofu
  • Sliced belly pork with bamboo shoots and tofu
  • Shredded chicken salad
  • Stewed fish
  • Vegies
  • Rice
  • Hotpot with lamb and assorted vegies
The vegies were a little plain in my opinion, but the rest was quite good. The banquet was very well balanced with a good contrast in flavours, and alone would have been more than enough for us, but given we had also ordered the hotpot, we took a lot of it home.

The hotpot was considerably cheap for what we got, and as with any good hotpot, the soup at the end is absolutely amazing! The lamb was very thinly sliced, albeit a little too fatty (even for me). They actually sliced the corn into around 5mm slices, enabling it to cook much faster and making it more convenient to eat.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Being a Tuesday night, it was rather quiet. The atmosphere is casual, much like many of the small restaurants in Box Hill. The boss himself was out on the floor, and was very flexible with us altering the menu

Very cheap for the amount of food there was. The banquet was $48, the hotpot $15. We also ordered two drinks at the end, bringing the bill to $65. Not bad considering what we took home lasted another meal!

~Overall Impression: 9/10~Will definitely be going back again for another cheap and quick feed! For a small restaurant, the food was much better than anticipated and the service was quite good too.

Lotus and Bamboo on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Oedo Sushi Cafe

Location: a small side street on the south side of Nunawading Station [Link]
Cuisine: Japanese
Company: Jeanie

When we found out that the place we wanted to eat at was closed on Tuesdays, Jeanie and I decided to explore the little shops around the station, in search for a light but filling lunch. Neither of us had eaten breakfast and therefore didn't really feel like KFC.

For a tiny little shop, the food was quite decent. We both ordered the lunchtime bento box, consisting of miso soup, a sushi roll and chicken teriyaki with salad on rice. The miso soup was nice and even comparable to Sushi Monger. The sushi roll was freshly made and the teriyaki sauce was done quite well too. Somewhat concerned that their idea of 'salad' consisted of two pieces of cucumber and two pieces of tomato with a squeeze of mayonnaise! Other than that, quite happy with the food.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Being out in the suburbs, the place was very quiet and casual, with the odd person or two popping in to buy sushi on the go. There isn't much of a view, one look out the window and all you see are little factories and warehouses - dull, grey and boring. The waiter was friendly and helpful, although he didn't have a very good grasp of English and confused Jeanie's order of 'tuna' with 'chicken'.

Cheap. The bento box cost us $8.80 each. The rest of the menu seemed similar.

~Overall Impression: 7/10~
Wasn't too bad for the price and location. The tip when ordering is to keep it simple - basically, point at the menu and they'll understand. They can't remember more than one thing at a time.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Location: Tenancy 9, 800 Bourke Street, Docklands
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Company: Jie's 21st

Jie chose this place off Interestingly when she picked the place, she had never been to it and had no idea where it was. Anyway, Watermark is a bar without a slightly disjointed area for the restaurant. After a certain hour, they clear away the tables and that part becomes an open area for the club.

The menu was rather extensive for what one would expect at a bar, and the food was of really good quality. The skewers at the beginning were really well done, with awesome dipping sauces and creative combinations of vegetables with meat. The mains were fantastic. I ordered the chicken breast, which was really tender inside, and crispy on the outside, the mash was really soft and creamy, The vegies on the other hand, involved steamed beans, and a giant piece of broccoli. The place must love its broccoli! Liz's fish and chips looked fresh and the chips were really good. The menu also included a range of pasta, risotto, steaks and grills. Servings were quite large too, especially the parmagiana.

~Atmosphere and Service~

The waiters were extremely friendly and helpful. They were also quite patient as most of the guests arrived late and we took so long to order and eat. The atmosphere in the restaurant area was very casual, if a little cold due to the open door. The place also overlooked the water, which gave the place a classy feel too.

The club-like atmosphere is probably like all others, given the only other club I've ever been to was F4. There was a hype in the place, and the people there were quite friendly. Cloakroom was a little confusing at the start, and somewhat expensive too, but the overall feel of the place was comfortable.

Average. Menu pricings were very similar to a lot of our regular haunts. Mains ranged between $15 to $30. But given the serving sizes, it can probably be deemed as fairly low-priced..

~Overall Impression: 9.5/10~
A nice place to chill and grab a nice meal before heading into the bar area for drinks if you wish. The place is accessible by tram [down Harbour Esplanade], but before you go, get an idea of where it's exactly located, because it doesn't have a streetfront view.

Friday, May 9, 2008

San Churro

Location: Burnswick St, Knox, Eastlands
Cuisine: Chocolate
Company: Usually Mark

-Best hot chocolate ever! Get a hot and cold, which is hot chocolate with a scoop of icecream. The sensation is so delicious and the hot chocolate is so lush.
- Also a great place for spanish inspired snacks. Spanish donuts called churros dusted with icing sugar and dipped in chocolate are quite unique but VERY filling. I need to try their tasting plate.
- Their boutique chocolate truffles are pretty yummo too.

~Atmosphere and Service~

-Usually very friendly. Can be a bit slow in making the hot chocolate but since it's been the same whenever we go there, I'm assuming making good hot chocolate should take a bit of time to get it to taste so good.

-Reasonable but not cheap. I *think* is $5.50 for a hot and cold. However, they have great loyalty schemes (stamp cards) and if you fill up a stamp card, you get a discount card sent to you on top of that so yay

~Fructose Friendliness~
-High. Chocolate is never a problem and they also have flourless chocolate cake for the fructys.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
- This is one of my favorite hot chocolate places. The hot chocolate is so unique- I love hot and colds coz I've not seen it elsewhere. Also, their hot chocolate is not as sweet as Max Brenner or as heavy as KoKoBlack. I think its pretty perfect!
- The snacks available are interesting and different with a nice Spanish twist but I've had better.
- Go there for a yummy yummy drink and a nice place to sit and hang for a while.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ishikai Japanese Cafe

Location: 177 Russell Street, Melbourne [between Bourke and Little Bourke Streets]
Cuisine: Japanese
Company: Jenn

In accordance with our plan for ramen, Jenn and I headed in search of a good Japanese restaurant to try out. Walked past Ishikai and decided that the dessert and drinks menu was enough to tempt us inside.

I found the servings for the mains quite large. I ordered the Karaage Age Ramen, which was essentially fried chicken marinated in some nice sauce on top of ramen noodle soup. The soup had a nice flavour to it, not to salty to complement the strongly flavoured chicken. But the serving was HUGE! Jenn opted for some sashimi and sushi, then ordered another raw beef entree. The raw beef dish seemed a little small, and came with a raw egg in eggshell and onions on the base. To me it looked like a dish of beef waiting to be put into hotpot.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Friendly and casual enough for our liking. Only drawback was the amount of time they took to get Jenn's dessert order. In the end, we canceled it because it was taking too long.

Very cheap for the serving size. There are a whole range of desserts and drinks for a very reasonable price too.

~Overall Impression: 7.5/10~
It was a good feed, especially on a rather cold day. Will probably go back again for the ramen some time.

Pancake Parlour

Location: Bourke Street Mall
Cuisine: pancakes
Company: Jie and Jenn

Jie was craving pancakes so we decided it was time for another trip to good old PP.

As always, the pancakes are awesome, as are the crepes. The only dish I've had problems with was the fish pancake. We were in for a quick lunch before Jenn had to head back to uni so ordered off the 'Express Lunch' menu, well all except Jie! I ordered the Mexican Beef Crepe, which was something I have never tried before. It surprised me. The filling for the crepe was full of flavour, with a decent taco sauce. The beef was nice and tender and well-marinated, and was mixed with sliced almonds to give it that slightly different texture. The crepe was scattered with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Brilliant. Jenn ordered the Lunchtime Tabriz with Cottage Fries, her only complaint was that the fries didn't have the bacon bits. Jie had the Mozzarella Pancake from the regular menu, and came in a huge serving. No complaints.

~Atmosphere and Service~
We requested 'Express' and that's what we got. The service at PP has always been rather friendly, and most request are usually complied with.

Regular prices, but always seem somewhat overpriced for the serving size. I guess you can't really get pancakes like them anywhere else though.

~Overall Impression: 9.5/10~
Very impressed with the food and service this time around. No need to really elaborate, Jie loves the place for supper at midnight!

Monday, May 5, 2008


Location: Crown
Cuisine: Italian
Company: Mel, Jane, Alex, Peter

Crown is wonderful if you're looking for somewhere to dine. Despite the slight distance from the CBD [which is cured by catching the 96 or 109 trams], there is an atmosphere of class and elegance just from the location. In addition, a number of restaurants there open onto Southbank and the Yarra, which is great in summer. We've been there twice, first for Mel's 20th, and then earlier this year as a post-evidence celebration.

Both times we went, the food was great. Mel's 20th was a little different in that she ordered a whole range of dishes and we just shared it around, so it's a little tricky to recall all the dishes. They have the usual Italian menu, pizzas, pastas, salads and the like. The bruschetta and the seafood pasta were memorable.

Our post-evidence dinner ended up at Automatic because we had strolled along Southbank and found nothing particularly appealing for the night [and Alex wanted something by the Yarra]. The food this time wasn't as good as the first time, perhaps because it was a Monday night. Mel and I ordered a seafood pizza and giant penne. The others ordered pasta from memory. In any case, our pizza was not cooked properly and they had to make us a new one. The good thing was that pizza was half-price that night, so we forgave them for it!

~Atmosphere and Service~
Noisy and fast. There was a buzz to the place, and service was quite fast - if you could get hold of a waiter that is. Very casual dining and there is a bar in the middle of the room for those waiting for a table or just looking for something to drink.

Somewhat overly priced for the size of the dishes, but then pizza is often on half-price, so it does work out. Find out which days they have the specials if you plan to go.

~Overall Impression: 7.5/10~
Would probably go again for the pizzas, but not much chance of going back for their pastas - Lygon Street is probably a better option.

The Pub at Crown

Location: as the name suggests... Crown
Cuisine: pub food, Modern Australian
Company: various

Haven't been to the Pub at Crown for a while, but was going through my food list and happened across it. Went there for my 20th birthday, such a long time ago, but a great experience!

The food was of quite decent quality. I ordered steak, and by well-done, it truly was well-done. Not just well-done in the sense that it was cooked through, by more that it was still tender and juicy. The menu is also very extensive and has a range of dishes from steak, pastas, salads and the traditional pub feed.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The service was quite fast and friendly. They asked what the booking was for when I booked, and when I told them it was for a birthday, they set up helium balloons on our table, which was very nice of them. Wasn't very convenient to have to order and pay at the bar first for our meals, but the timing was rather quick. The only drawback with this place being a pub is that you weren't able to book out a table for the entire night, bookings were limited to around 2 hours and they asked us to start leaving around 8pm. I guess that's the bonus with being at Crown - there's a wealth of entertainment out there, and we spent the rest of the night inside Barcode and the gaming areas.

Decently priced for the dishes served, mains averaging from $15 - $30 depending on what was ordered. Grills tended to be more expensive as usual.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
A little noisy and casual if you're looking for a more formal or classy dinner place, but a great place for a quick bite if you're around at Crown and looking for quick access to alcohol too.