Tuesday, June 30, 2009

J-Pub Shogun

Location: 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Cuisine: Japanese

Dropped by one night after dinner for a quick drink of Shoju and some edamame beans...

The first serving was still warm, straight from the pot - lightly salted and very very addictive! We ordered a second basket and this time it was cold, like it should be I assume.

I wasn't so impressed with the shoju, but I'm so going back for those beans!

Overall Impression: 9/10

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dessert House Eatery

Location: 313 Swanston Street
Cuisine: Chinese

Bad service, but great food - if you order the right thing!! Having been once to the Dessert House in Mid-City Arcade and finding it rather average, I was reluctant to venture into the one on Swanston Street.

This time, Alex recommended the salt & pepper spare ribs on rice, and it was actually really good!

Crunchy on the outside, slightly chewy but tender on the inside, the spare ribs were quite tasty! There was just enough salt and pepper to make it quite authentic. Nothing to say for the rice though, I didn't like the soy sauce infused part of the rice - it clashed with the salt and pepper flavour of the meat. I wouldn've liked to see some vegies on the dish though, even if was a few slices of fresh tomato or cucumber, just to break up the dryness of the dish (and make it look prettier).

Service was pretty bad, but the place was bustling and we had to wait outside in the cold for around 15 minutes before a table freed up. In light of it, the waiter was convinced a table would free up soon and took our orders outside!

Overall Impression: 7/10 Dessert House Eatery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Stalactites Again

Location: 177 - 183 Lonsdale Street
Link: http://www.stalactites.com.au/
Cuisine: Greek
Previous reviews: Stalactites

The complimentary bread that was supposed to go with the moussaka but ended up going with the dips

This came out quite early, and sat at our table for a very long time while we waited for the dips to arrive. By the time they did, the bread was cold.

Dips: (clockwise from top-left) hommus, eggplant, tzatziki, caviar

These dips were fantastic! The hommus was pretty average, but the other three were very well done. The caviar was popular, smooth and creamy in texture. The tzatziki and eggplant were fresh and full of flavour.

Pita bread

The pita was toasted so that it was slightly crispy and warmed. Went very well with the dips!

Moussaka - Greek traditional dish of baked layers of potatoes, minced beef & eggplant topped with bechamel cream sauce served with baked vegetables & rice

I had never had moussaka before, so this was a new dish to try. I wasn't as impressed, it didn't turn out the way I had imagined it to be - there wasn't nearly enough bechamel sauce and I half-expected it to taste like a lasagne with potatoes instead of the pasta sheets. The baked vegies and rice were amazing though. The vegies were nicely baked, sweet and tender. The rice was somewhat similar to the spicy rice at Nando's, just without the spice.

Small lamb giro (sic) platter

By the time we got to this, we were simply too full to continue eating. However, the lamb did smell great when it first arrived at our table, and the few pieces I managed to squeeze in were just as good as expected.

Service was ridiculously slow, especially since the dips took about as long as the moussaka to come out - one would expect the dips to arrive well before the rest of the mains!

Overall Impression: 7.5/10

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Oriental Spoon: Korean BBQ

Location: 254 Latrobe Street
Cuisine: Korean, BBQ
Previous Review: Oriental Spoon

Complimentary kimchi and side dishes


The only requirements for the BBQ are that you have to choose a minimum of two dishes - I suspect that they don't really want to have to clean the BBQ plate for just one dish!! We chose the marinated beef (bulgogi) and marinated prime beef ribs. The ribs came with a king prawn, mushrooms, sliced sweet potato (the white oval shaped thing in the corner) and onions (the round white thing in front of the mushrooms). Beef was marinated and very juicy - just like I had expected!! The sweet potato on the other hand, could have been cooked a little longer as they were still rather crunchy when the waitress turned off the BBQ.

Which takes me to my next point. The service. Now the past few times I've been to Oriental Spoon, the service has been excellent. Today I was a little disappointed by the fact that the waitress didn't alert us to the fact that the cooking was done, and instead waited to come back and tell us that it was burning. Other than that, it was all good!!

Pricing was reasonable. Slightly cheaper than I was expecting (especially after my experience at Hwaro) but there was definitely plenty of food!

Overall Rating: 9/10
Oriental Spoon on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 5, 2009

HuTong Dumpling Bar

Location: 14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne
Cuisine: Chinese, Dumplings

Having heard great reviews about this recently opened dumpling place, we decided to give it a shot to see if it lived up to its reputation for xiao long baos (see below) and test out their food in general. It's a fair way to walk up Chinatown from the general Swanston / Elizabeth Streets area, but well worth. If you want to try the full extent of the menu, show up earlier to beat the peak hour rush.

Xiao Long Bao

The true reason behind out visit to HuTong... these were AMAZING!!! And you can tell given that I only remembered to take a photo when there was one left...of the second batch!! Not only was the wrapper thin and tender, they actually had soup inside them! I've had xiao long bao before that were so dry inside they might as well have been dumplings for all I knew!! Although a bit on the pricey side (about $9 for 8), I'll definitely be back for more of these!!

Wonton soup

As simple as it may sound and look, the flavours were very nicely balanced. The wontons filled with soft juicy meat, a subtle-flavoured broth and the seaweed and spring onion garnish just perfect.

Radish pastry

A little on the disappointing side. The pastry was thick and a little too flaky, and there wasn't much of a filling. Proper radish pastry should be overflowing with radish, with a very thin crunchy outer casing. Think of it this way, would you like a sausage roll with 1cm of pastry surrounding filling that was only 1cm in diameter? I rest my case.

Steamed dumplings

Ideally, we would have ordered the fried dumplings, commonly also known as 'potstickers' (literal translation from '锅贴', but alas we arrived a little too late, right after the peak hour lunch rush, and they had 'no more' of them. Funny how all they needed to do was to fry the steamed ones though... In any case, the dumplings were quite good, plenty of meat inside and the outer wrapper wasn't too thin or tough.

Pricewise, HuTong is a little on the expensive side for these types of foods, but it is definitely worth trying it out once in a while. It's good quality dumplings, and very different to the crowded and somewhat greasy likes of Camy's (don't take this the wrong way, Camy's is still awesome as a quick and cheap dumpling feast!)

Overall Impression: 9/10
HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Happy Cook

Location: 156 Springvale Road, Nunawading
Cuisine: Chinese

Crispy grilled lamb

Very crispy and aromatic, tasted great when hot but extremely oily once it went cold. It could have been drained a little better.

Steamed spring pancake

Fried spring pancake

These pancakes were basically the same thing, except one was steamed and the other was fried. The inside is what separates these from other buns and pancakes - the inside is formed of noodle-like strips of dough so that when you pull the pancake apart, you can pull out little strips of pancake. It went well with the lamb.

Salted-egg-yolk fried tofu

If ever a dish was supposed to be salty, this was it. Unfortunately, it wasn't anywhere near salty. In fact, I highly doubt that the egg-yolk was from a salted-egg. It tasted more like normal egg-yolk, mixed with a bit (but not quite enough) salt. When we alerted the waiter, he had the chef make us another serving - which was only just a slight bit saltier than the first.

A message to the chef: If you don't have salted-egg, just tell us and we won't order it. Don't try and make it something it is not, because I have a better sense of taste than you have a sense of 'brains'...

Chinese broccoli with garlic sauce

Ironically, this was my favourite dish of the meal, despite me being a carnivore at heart. Light and fresh, with a strong garlic sauce, the vegies were a good way to break up a meal largely consisting of fatty or fried foods.

Special combination noodles on sizzling plate

I was a little disappointed in this as my parents had spoken very highly of this dish the last time they went but when I tried it for myself, it just tasted like normal fried noodles anywhere else. The only thing the sizzling plate did was keep the noodles warm - there was no smokey BBQ flavour at all!

Salt and pepper fried fish

This wasn't too bad, but I've had better. The fish was perhaps a little over-cooked, with some parts of the fish being crunchy, and therefore edible, through to the bone. The topping of salt, chilli, capsicum, garlic and onion was particularly tasty.

Menu was overpriced for the quality and amount of food we were given. We paid $95 for 5 people at this place, whilst paying $85 for 7 people at Tan Tan in Box Hill (review to come). Service was friendly though, and they tried to be helpful despite their failings.

Overall Impression: 7.5/10
Happy Cook Peking Chinese on Urbanspoon

Fu Long: Now Serving Ice-Cream!!

Location: 942 Whitehorse Rd, Box Hill [near Station Street]
Cuisine: Chinese
Previous Reviews: Fu Long

The usual complimentary red bean soup and fruit has now been replaced with...

... choc-chip ice-cream and fruit!!!

Overall Impression: 10/10!!

Fu Long on Urbanspoon


Location: Level 1, West End, Crown Entertainment Complex
Link: www.steakoutatcrown.com.au
Cuisine: Grill, Modern Australian

Prawn cocktail - king prawns with cocktail sauce

Fresh prawns with a tangy mayo/yoghurt style sauce and a squeeze of lemon...mmmm..... The only downside with this appetiser was the size!

Cold seafood platter - combination of prawns, oysters, calamari, smoked salmon

The platter really was amazing... there was so much food!! Everything was really really fresh, the prawns were sweet and juicy, the calamari tender and the smoked salmon full of flavour. The tartare sauce was zingy and a perfect match for the seafood.

Oysters Kilpatrick - bacon and Worcestershire sauce

My first time eating oysters Kilpatrick and I've fallen in love. The bacon was smokey and the sauce was full of flavour, complimenting freshly steamed oysters. I found a couple of granules of rock salt inside the oyster and still cannot work out whether it was deliberate or not (they were served on a bed of rock salt).

Mixed grill - beef tenderloin, chicken breast, special Steakout sausage, farmhouse bacon and grilled tomato

I only tried the bacon on this, but it was very nicely down - slightly crispy and smokey, but not quite burnt or charred. I didn't hear any complaints about this meal.

Grilled lamb chops with oven-roasted rosemary chat potatoes and butter glazed mixed vegetables

Butter glazed...what more can you say apart from how amazing the vegetables tasted?! I never eat cauliflower (except in cheese) and devoured a piece of this like any other vegie. The lamb chops were slightly charred, perhaps a little overdone. The potatoes were aromatic and tender. The main was perhaps the most balanced main of the table!

Porterhouse steak with fries

This was the special of the day - 200g Porterhouse steak + pot/soft-drink for $15!! However, you do get what you pay for, and the steak was a little too on the stringy side and chewy at times. The mushroom sauce was very nice but could have done with a slight bit more flavour. The fries however, were some of the best I have ever had - crunchy to the end, even when they had gone cold, and perfectly salted.

Pancakes with deep fried banana and ice cream

The bananas were crunchy and sticky on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside, just like they should have been. The pancakes were somewhat average - I've had better at Pancake Parlour - and the serving of ice-cream could have been better. The berry sauce was sweet and refreshing, adding some freshness to a fairly heavy dessert.

Crown’s smallest sundae - scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with hot chocolate sauce

Simple yet delicious. Seriously, you can't go wrong with ice cream with hot chocolate sauce!

Prices weren't too bad, steaks ranged from $15 (special) to $37 (tenderloin), seafood priced from $25 (grilled snapper) through to $66 (whole crayfish). Then there was a range of pastas and other mains at the standard $20 - $30 price range. In addition, Steakout has daily specials from Monday to Thursday and special drinks prices on Friday and Sunday nights.

Overall Impression: 9/10


Location: Level 3, Melbourne Central
Link: www.tomodachi.com.au/
Cuisine: Japanese



BBQ Beef

The serving was HUGE!! The meat was tender and had a nice smokey BBQ flavour, which was kept warm by the sizzling plate. Came with a huge bowl of rice.

Overall Impression: 8.5/10


Location: Shop 23A, Federation Square, Swanston Street
Link: www.feddish.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian

Chips with tomato sauce and garlic aioli

The chips were crunchy and quite well done for typical fat chips. The tomato sauce was just tomato sauce, but the aioli was amazing.

Leg ham, chicken and pineapple pizza

Very balanced flavours, plenty of topping and juicy pineapples - the perfect pizza!

Marinated lamb back straps in tortilla basket with yoghurt

Lamb was a little overcooked and chewy, but the salad and yoghurt were fresh and zingy. The tortilla basket was a first for us, so we found it a little amusing. It was crispy and freshly baked, and the perfect accompaniment with the Greek yoghurt.

Penne aribiatta with bacon, olives and tomato with garlic bread

The sauce was bursting with flavour - rich tomato base - and the bacon and olives added to the flavour burst. I would have liked it more if it had some blander ingredients in there to break it up a little. Mushrooms or onions would have been ideal. On the other hand, the garlic bread was beautifully done that we couldn't get enough of it!

Pan-fried salmon on green beans and roquette

The serving was a little on the small side, but since it came out last, we weren't really that hungry. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, the salmon was fresh and very nicely done. Very fitting for a dinner overlooking the Yarra River! I'm not a fan of rocket, but the green beans were tender and full of flavour.

The service was quite good, although they did forget to make the salmon until we prompted them. Just as well we were sharing the dishes. The dessert menu was unimpressive, so we headed off for crepes at Melbourne Central.

Overall Impression: 8/10

Happy and Lucky Family Chinese Restaurant

Location: 23-25 Anderson Creek Road, Doncaster East
Cuisine: Chinese, Yum Cha
Previous Reviews: 12/04/09

Complimentary Soup

As with most Chinese restaurants in the suburbs, the meal starter is a complimentary bowl of [what you would call] 'house' soup. This one was the same as most others.

3.5pound crab with noodles in garlic and ginger sauce

At $14.80 per pound, the crab was quite fresh and the sauce nicely done. Not quite enough meat on the crab itself though, as the shell was quite thick and heavy.

fish fillet with vegetables

A simple dish with simple flavours, fish fillets were tender and fresh, stir-fried with carrots and Chinese broccoli.

Lamb Casserole

One of the special highlights of the restaurant. The casserole was brought out with a camping stove and a plate of fresh bok-choy. Soup was full of flavour, and there was endless lamb and dried bean curd. Having the vegies separate means that you can literally blanche it before you eat it, or have it soaked in the soup for as long as you like. Serving was huge. Price was around $27.

Happy and Lucky Special Chicken

We were a little disappointed about this dish - not because of the flavours, but because of the service. By the time this dish came out, we had pretty much finished our meal, and then when we saw the chicken (which was meant to be half a chicken), it didn't even look like half a chicken's worth. In fact, it seemed to be missing certain types of pieces, such as the thinner sections from the chicken's back, to the point where it was almost as though they had run out of whole chickens and just threw in bits and pieces of chicken breast meat, a wing and possibly a drumstick (I didn't see one, but someone may have eaten it).

Apart from that, the chicken skin was extremely crispy, and the golden brown topping of fried garlic, shallots and some chilli was aromatic and crunchy too.

Overall Impression: 7/10