Monday, November 30, 2009

Wealth Garden Chinese Seafood Restaurant

Location: 862-866 Doncaster Road, Doncaster East
Cuisine: Chinese, Yum Cha

Previously called New Panda, this restaurant has recently come under new management and has since changed it's name. Apparently one of the chefs is from Taipan - a good sign!

So somewhat curious about what this new restaurant would be like, we headed there for dinner.

Snow pea sprouts stir-fried with garlic

I love snow pea sprouts - they have a texture that other greens just can't mimic. The older sprouts are very stringy and are nearly inedible, so it's very easy to differentiate between good and bad. These were quite good, very little stringiness with a slight crunch and very strong garlic and smoky wok flavour.

Crispy pork with sticky orange sauce

We ordered this dish at the waiter's recommendation without actually knowing what it was as it had a very fancy name in the menu. We were slightly surprised when the dish arrived as it just looked like sweet and sour pork with random orange slices placed around the plate. But it was amazing. The pork was perfectly cooked, the batter was crispy and the meat was tender and juicy. The sauce was heaven! It tasted like orange and honey combined, sweet, tangy and sticky. I am so ordering this dish again!

Steamed barramundi with ginger and spring onions - after de-boning

I'm generally not a fan of ordering steamed fish when eating out because it can often be overpriced for something we can make ourselves at home, but we opted to give it a go this time. I was quite pleased - the meat fell off the bone (when the waiter de-boned it in front of us) and was very soft and smooth. There was also plenty of sauce to spoon over the fish and the finely sliced ginger and spring onions added a good strong flavour to each bite.

Fried stuffed pipa tofu

Another simple dish that can go terribly wrong at a restaurant and this place did it beautifully. The fried tofu was studded with what tasted like water chestnuts and spring onions, and had a very familiar taste I still can't put my finger on. The sauce was nicely thickened to cling to the tofu and broccoli pieces.

Overall, the service was very pleasant and friendly. The dishes came out quite promptly and there were a few familiar waiters from other nearby Chinese restaurants (these waiters tend to work for any number of restaurants on different days of the week) who were clearly very good at their jobs and knew how to cater to customers.

The one negative was when we asked for the bill and someone had randomly added banana fritters (which we never ordered) to our bill and also charged us for tea (no decent Chinese restaurant will charge you for tea during dinner)! When we asked about it, the waiter immediately took it out the back and had the fritters removed, but said he could not remove the charge for tea. It wasn't until we mentioned this to the lady at the counter on paying the bill that they agreed to remove the charge.

It was one of the nicer of the Doncaster group of Chinese restaurants. Tables were well spread out and not too cluttered. There wasn't much of a noise level (we went on a Wednesday night) but given the spacing of tables, it probably wouldn't be all that loud on a Friday or Saturday night either.

Overall Impression: 9.5/10
Wealth Garden Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Location: 243 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Cuisine: Bar

Chicken parmigiana - tender chicken breast fillet, corn-crumbed, covered in ham, lavished in napoli sauce and finished with melted cheese. Served with a fresh garden salad and cajun fries

Rich and creamy chicken and mushroom pie served with a side of cajun fries and salad

The pie was a bit of a disappointment - it certainly wasn't rich and creamy, instead, the whole pie seemed to be too dry. The pastry was flaky and crisp, but that was probably what dried up the rest of the pie. The flavour of the filling was quite nice though, would have tasted a lot nicer with a little bit more sauce.

Burger Royale - home made beef pattie with capers topped with swiss chesse, fresh lettuce, onion relish and jalepenos. Served with a side of cajun fries

You order at the bar like most pubs. The food took a little while to arrive, and seemed all the much longer as we were quite hungry after our last exam

We sat outside on the balcony and being a sunny day with a light breeze, it was quite pleasant and casual. A good place to sit back and relax.

Pretty average, mains ranging from $15 to $20. Pretty large serves so good value for money.

Overall Impression: 7/10
The Lounge on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vialetto Ristorante

Location: 75 Hardware Lane, Melbourne
Cuisine: Italian

Having tried booking a restaurant for 10 people on a Friday night at very short notice, we tried numerous places with no success. I mean, seriously, as if you don't make an effort to set up a table of 10? Imagine all the money!! Then I gave Vialetto a call and they were more than happy to set up a table for us.

Seafood linguini: linguini tossed with garlic prawns, mussels, calamari, pipis, complimented with fresh tomato, Tuscan olive oil and fresh herb salad

Lamb shank: braised lamb shank served with its braising vegetables on herb mashed potato

Beef lasagne: rich meat and tomato sauce layered with fresh pasta sheets, herbs, bechamel sauce topped with fresh parmesan

Atlantic salmon: pan seared salmon fillet served on a Russian potato salad with horseradish mayo and beetroot jus, finished with fresh herbs

Warm strawberry crepe splashed with Grand Marnier and served with vanilla bean ice-cream

Chocolate macadamia brownie served with dark chocolate sauce, mascarpone & coulis

We originally wanted the chocolate mousse they had on their specials menu for the day but they had run out. So we opted for the chocolate brownie instead. The brownie was nice and gooey on the inside, very cakey on the outside. The chocolate sauce was rich and thick, and went well with the mascarpone and coulis. We had asked for ice-cream on the side but it seems that the waiter forgot to mention that to the chef.

Service was pleasant as always - polite, friendly and happy to oblige with most requests. The food came out rather quickly which kept us happy.

Overall Impression: 9/10
Vialetto Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Cafe Era

Location: Menzies Alley, Melbourne Central
Cuisine: Greek, Modern Australian

The food was generally quite good:

Smoked salmon salad with Spanish onions, cherry tomatoes, capers and aioli

Tuna linguine

Penne with chicken, sundried tomatoes and cream


The service at Era is generally quite good, but this one visit we had a particularly rude and slow waitress. We waited 10 minutes before she 'remembered' that she was getting us the bill, and she semi-snapped at us when we reminded her about the bill.

Overall Impression: 7/10
Cafe Era on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 20, 2009

Balsamic: the best ribs ever!

Location: Level 3, Eastland Shopping Centre, Ringwood
Cuisine: Modern Australian

Having spent the night before one of my exams craving BBQ ribs, we ended up going to Balsamic for dinner after the exam.

First up, entrée. We ordered a garlic pizza to nibble on and curb our hunger while we waited for the mains.

Garlic pizza served with a side of olive oil, balsamic reductIon & spiced sea salt

This was a disappointment. The pizza tasted like it had been left in the over for too long and was rather dry and only a tad bit crunchy. There was also not quite enough garlic taste, and I was very glad it had come with the salt.

Next up, we ordered a chicken Caesar salad and BBQ pork ribs.

Chicken Caesar salad - grilled chicken, baby cos, shaved parmesan, candied bacon & a hard boiled egg, topped with a crouton & dressed with house made Caesar dressing

The Caesar looked somewhat incomplete. I'm used to the ingredients being cut up and tossed together, but this dish just looked like it was half-finished. The egg was halved, the chicken not cut up and instead of croutons, it had a slice of bread topped with bacon. I heard no complaints about the taste itself though.

And now for the most awesome dish...

Rack of pork ribs glazed in a honey BBQ sauce, served with wedges & salad

These ribs were perfect. The glaze was sweet and sticky and tasted good not just on the ribs, buth with the wedges and salad as well. The meat itself was soft, moist and tender, and fell off the bone very easily. There were very little stringy bits and despite it being a rack of ribs, there was plenty of meat attached. The wedges were crispy on the outside and you could hear the crunch, it was a pity that the ribs were so tasty I didn't end up finishing the wedges.

Service was pleasant although very slow. Our entrée took forever to arrive (perhaps they forgot that it was in the oven) and the mains took even longer. We also waited about 10 to 15 minutes for some water. At least the wait for the mains was worth it!!

Overall Impression: 9/10
Balsamic on Urbanspoon

University Café

Location: 257 Lygon St Carlton 3053
Cuisine: Italian

Risotto con funghi

This mushroom risotto was very well-cooked and had the perfect amount of flavour. There were plenty of sizeable pieces of mushrooms and the caramelised onion added a nice contrasting texture. It didn't taste too creamy or too bland.

Service was pretty fast and pleasant, no complaints there. The only downsides were the seating arrangement inside (a bit on the crowded side) and the location of the toilets (it seemed like they were in the backyard).

The meals were also a little on the pricey side compared to other Lygon Street restaurants, but it was a nice way to relax after a 3.5 hour exam.

Overall Impression: 8.5/10
University Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fu Long: Lunch Specials

Location: 942 Whitehorse Rd, Box Hill [near Station Street]
Cuisine: Chinese

Dad and I went to Fu Long for lunch one weekday for their lunchtime specials. On weekends they have yum cha, but during the week they've taken to copying the surrounding restaurants and serving cheap and quick meals. Well, it was supposed to be quick.

We ordered a roast duck on rice and a pork and century egg congee with fried dough stick (for the congee). The lot totalled under $15 and we even had a bit to take away!

The only negative was that the congee took over half an hour to come out - we have a feeling they forgot about the order. In any case, it was worth the wait in the end because it came out in a little claypot and used roast pork instead of bland plain pork. I was an instant fan!

Am so going back for the specials again!

Overall Impression: 9/10
Fu Long on Urbanspoon