Friday, July 31, 2009


Restaurant: Shoya
Location: 25 Market Lane, Melbourne
On the weekend I gave Shoya a visit for the first time. We had the Shoya Special Lunch Set - UME Set & TAKE Set. My first impressions of the restaurant was pretty good. It was very spacious, almost everyone gets their own section of the restaurant, and the service was quick and timely.

Circular chopstick holders

Now to the most important thing and the reason why we went - the food.

First on the menu was cavoury egg custard and seaweed salad. The egg custard was pretty good, not everyones cup of tea but I enjoyed the creamyness and the bits of prawns and mushrooms in it. The seaweed salad was just average.

Next, Tempura - again pretty average.

Sashimi - Now this was something not so average. The scallop was very sweet and juicy. Best scallop I've ever had, and I'm not a scallop fan. Then I think it was the snapper (wasn't too sure what he said it was, but I think it was the snapper) It was so good. Could have definately gone for seconds. The skin was almost crunchy and the meat was so soft and tasty. The most disappointing was the tuna. It tasted too "bloody" in my opinion.

Grilled Eel - Just enough flavour and a slight crisp on the skin.

Miso Soup and Mixed Rice - Both average, both of which I wouldnt eat again.

Teriyaki Wagyu Beef and Teriyaki Chicken - Both used the same Teriyaki sauce. Chicken was nice and crispy.

Sushi - Very fresh

Before the end of the meal we were all very full - extremely full infact!!

Overall, I was satisfied but not overly satisfied. I would like to try it again and give it another shot, but if it doesnt impress me again I don't think I would go back. Next time though, I'd most likely pick my own food, instead of getting the set menus.

My rating if I had to give it one would be 7/10 (so I was a bit disappointed )

♥ j

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Aromatic Cafe and Restaurant

Location: Orica Building, 1 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne
Cuisine: Café, Quick Lunches

Another café on the Nicholson, Albert, Lonsdale and Spring Streets intersection, this time located on the ground floor of the Orica building, Aromatic is another hot food counter and cafe. Given the close proximity to where I was working, I also found myself at Aromatic a few times. The first meal I had there was a butter chicken on rice. The chicken was done surprisingly well for a takeaway/glass counter dish, and the serving was very generous. My second meal from there was a gnocchi, which was somewhat disappointing to me. The gnocchi was very floury and not quite soft enough. Either that or I'm not a gnocchi fan. Did not get photos for either.

Overall Impression: 7/10

Albert Street Deli

Location: 478 Albert St, East Melbourne
Cuisine: Café, Quick Lunches

Located a little off the intersection of Nicholson, Albert, Lonsdale and Spring Streets, is a little café aptly named 'Albert Street Deli'. More like a miniature food court, the cafe has three main counters: a patisserie, a sandwich/roll counter and a hot food stand.

I dropped into this place a few times during my work experience up that end of town and found that most of the food there wasn't all that great, apart from the soup. The pumpkin soup there was one of the best I have ever had, and at a very cheap price too! For $6.50, you can get a large bowl of hot steaming soup, with a fairly large buttered roll. An awesome comfort food in the middle of freezing winter!

Pumpkin soup with buttered roll

There's barely any waiting time as the soup sits heated in the counter window. The service is okay, at times abrupt, but at such a cheap price, I went back and had this soup three times in two weeks!

Overall Impression: 9.5/10 [for soup only]

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cho Gao - Chicken Pancakes

Location: Level 3, Melbourne Central
Cuisine: Thai, Vietnamese, Asian, Fusion
Previous Posts: Cho Gao

Both a bar and a restaurant, we headed to Cho Gao for Mel's welcome back dinner and drinks.

Chicken pancakes with salted duck egg, spring onions and dipping sauce $18.00

The pancake wrappers

The chicken

Spring onions, salted duck egg and dipping sauce

The pancakes were refreshing and very different. When ordering, I had imagined the pancakes to be more like Japanese okonomiyaki or even Pancake Parlour-like, but it was neither. Instead, it was a modern take on traditional Peking Duck, with all the ingredients separated for you to put together before eating. The chicken was tasty and pretty well-marinated. The duck egg wasn't quite as salted as expected, and was a little odd at the outset, but as it turned out, it worked really well with the chicken and the condiments. The dipping sauce was rather strong, so I chose to put it inside the pancake before eating. Beautiful! Am definitely coming back another time for this!

Dessert platter - chocolate mousse, berry jelly, ice cream, banana fritter, lemon and coconut cheesecake, creamed rice

Close-up of the mousse

We've become quite a fan of desserts, and these desserts were pretty amazing. Splitting it four ways was pretty hard though...especially with the mousse and creamed rice. Not normally a fan of rice in desserts, the creamed rice wasn't all that bad, just a little on the rich side. The banana fritters were a hit with the ice-cream. The jelly had a hint of champagne in it and tasted quite light and fruity. The cheesecake was a little on the odd side though, as the lemon and coconut didnt not seem all that agreeable to me. But as all things chocolate generally do, the mousse topped the list!

Overall Impression:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chocolate Mill

Location: 5451 Midland Hwy, Mt Franklin
Cuisine: Chocolate

If you ever head up towards Daylesford, you have to stop by the Chocolate Mill in Mt Franklin. About 10 to 15 minutes drive north of Daylesford's town centre, and totally worth a visit!

The Mill has one of the largest selections of handmade chocolates and the fillings are also homemade from local produce.

The range of chocolates

Just a small selection of the chocolates

Then there is the Hot Chocolate Cafe...

The Hot Chocolate Cafe

The famous hot chocolate

One of the best hot chocolates I have ever had, and only $5 for such a large cup!! Made of melted chocolate at the bottom, milk, and light creamy froth on top...this was the perfect way to end the day!!

Overall Impression: 10/10

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Food Gallery Café-Bar

Location: 77 Vincent Street, Daylesford
Cuisine: Local

Street view

Of the many restaurants along Vincent Street in Daylesford, we were lured into the Food Gallery by a chalkboard sign outside promoting their famous 'Oh My God' Nachoes and the fact that it was one of the few busier restaurants in the area,

The chalkboard

Tempted by nachoes, we decided to give them a shot. We waited almost 15 minutes before our nachoes finally arrived.

The serving was very large, and it looked somewhat impressive. However, we were disappointed by the sogginess of the nachoes, the average-ness of the sauces and the clumpiness of the cheese. Whilst the edges of the corn chips were still crunchy, many of the ones below were quite soggy. This would have been fine had they been smothered in melted cheese, but there was a lack of cheese in some areas, and clumps of it in others.

To be honest, I've had better nachoes in the food courts of shopping centres for half the price.

Moral of the story: a busy restaurant may not necessarily be a sign of a good restaurant.

Overall Impression: 5.5/10


Location: 45 New Quay Promenade, Docklands
Cuisine: Modern Australian

A random law crew dinner and our first venture out to the newly built Docklands


Fettuccine RaguFettuccine Ragu: a rich beef sauce finished with red wine and fresh thyme

Chicken risottoChicken risotto with caramelised leeks, rosemary and baby spinach

Chicken parmigianaChicken parmigiana served with potato wedges and a garden salad

Chicken involtiniChicken involtini - chicken breast filled with spinach, capsicum, pecorino cheese and prosciutto served with potato mash and spicy tomato relish

I'm always a bit hesitant in ordering chicken out for fear that it may be too dry, but this was done so well. The meat was tender and juicy, and not the least bit dry. The filling inside was just as well done - the spinach and capsicum balanced well against the stronger flavours of the cheese and prosciutto and gave the chicken a nice smokey flavour. The mash was soft and creamy, (but as with most mashes, could have been a little creamier). The relish was fresh and a little sharp, and went well with both the chicken and the mash.

Stick tea - the tea bag is built into the paper stick

The service was quite pleasant. We asked for a table with a view and were given one that overlooked the Yarra. Very nice indeed, something the photos were not able to capture as nicely so I have left it out. The food took a little longer to arrive, but the quality made the wait worthwhile. The atmosphere was very nice and comfortable, and could border on 'fancy' if you so wished the occasion to be. Will be returning again, although after we try out all the other restaurants in NewQuay.

Overall Impression: 9/10

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Universal Restaurant

Location: 141 Lygon Street
Cuisine: Italian
Previous Reviews: Universal Pizza, Pasta and Ribs

Large capricciosa pizza

Good old Italian pizza, the base was thin and crispy, and there was plenty of topping. Flavours balanced perfectly! A word of warning... 'large' means LARGE! We over ordered.

Seafood marinara penne (main size)

One of the few tomato-based sauces on the menu that were not spicy (all the meat ones were cream-based, and most of the other tomato-based ones were spicy). There was a fair bit of seafood (you can see the mussells in the picture) but it would have been better with more fresh prawns and maybe some scallops. The napoli sauce was just strong enough to coat the penne and the seafood without overpowering the dish. Very satisfying dish.

BBQ meat platter for 2

And yes, the highlight of the night. Four of us shared the three dishes and was it a feast!! The meat platter came overloaded with steak, ribs, chicken wings, chicken tenders, meatballs, wedges and salad. The mushroom sauce was excellent, and the perfect accompaniment for the steak and wedges (and for me, also every other meat on the platter!). The ribs and wings were coated in a sweet and tangy sauce which may have been a honey glaze. The meatballs tasted just like the kofta meatballs from BearBrass and seemed a little out of place on the platter but were pretty good nevertheless.

The service was pretty decent, especially since they were dealing with about 15 people, and prices weren't too bad. The three dishes averaged out to $17.50 per person. Drinks extra.

Overall Impression: 10/10

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Location: Southgate
Cuisine: Modern Australian, Tapas
Previous Reviews: BearBrass

Tasting plate 2

One of the entree platters consisting of:
  • Chicken pâté, toasted brioche, onion chilli jam
  • Prosciutto and sage stuffed veal medallions
  • Lamb kofta balls in spicy tomato sauce topped with bocconcini
  • Lemon pepper calamari with homemade aioli
The pâté and onion chilli jam were full of flavour. The pâté was smooth, creamy and easy to spread, the onion jam was sweet and chunky. There wasn't quite enough bread so we ordered more turkish bread to finish it off.

The veal medallions weren't too bad, although there was a lack of prosciutto. The lamb kofta balls were pretty average, but full of flavour. The bocconcini on top was a hit though.

Then there was the calamari - always a favourite with us. The aioli was nice and garlicky, the calamari tender and crunchy on the outside. Perfect!

Spicy chorizo pan fried with olives, garlic and roasted capsicum served with grilled flatbread

The chorizo tasted quite nice, not too spicy and not too dry. There was possibly too much sauce and too little flatbread, but the extra turkish bread we ordered helped us finish it off too.

Pan seared king prawns with a celeriac remoulade and crispy prosciutto

This was both a hit and a disappointment. Disappointingly, the prawns were not peeled, and therefore all the flavour remained on the shell rather than on the flesh of the prawns. The flavours themselves were amazing - smokey and tangy after a squeeze of lemon juice. The celeriac remoulade was crisp and fresh and went well with the prawns. The prosciutto was also a slight disappointment as it was not just crisp, but was dried and quite solid.

Baked spinach fettuccine with lamb meatballs in a spicy napoli sauce and buffalo mozzarella

This was interesting... the fettuccine was green (spinach) and the mozzarella wasn't stirred through. Once we mixed it all up, it actually tasted quite good! The fettuccine was cooked to 'al dente', the napoli sauce was very tomato-ey and the cheese very stringy and tasty.

Smoked chicken with double brie, cranberry jam and spring onions

The waitress managed to get our orders wrong (that's what happens when you don't use a notepad and try to show off your 'fantastic' memory). We actually ordered the salmon pizza, but when this came out we couldn't be bothered arguing and then having to wait for them to make a new one. The pizza wasn't too bad. The cranberry jam worked very well with the smoked chicken, and the brie was melted nicely into the rest of the pizza. Would have been nice to have slightly more brie though.

All in all, the food was great, the service was relatively good (except when she got our pizza wrong) and the atmosphere was nice.

Overall Rating: 9/10