Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Petaling Street Malaysian Hawker Food

Location: 600 Station Street, Box Hill, VIC
Phone: (03) 9890 0972
Cuisine: Malaysian, Hawker

One of the things I miss most about Melbourne is the hawker style food you get in Box Hill. So when we found out that the place we were heading to was shut, we popped into this place.

The setup of the restaurant was done quite nicely. They managed to renovate the open kitchen to show off the chefs at work (it used to be La Porchetta) and the tables have a cute little drawer were they place serviettes in.

Chicken nasi lemak 

My theory generally is that if you walk into a restaurant which specialises in a particular cuisine, it would be silly to not order something of that cuisine. Hence the nasi lemak - coconut rice with chicken sambal and ikan bilis (dried fish). Can't say much for the ikan bilis as I'm not a huge fan, but it was crispy and tasted like it should. The coconut rice was amazing and went superbly with the chicken sambal which was bursting with flavour and just spicy enough for my liking.

Ipoh horfun 

The Ipoh horfun was also quite good, although I was a little disappointed in the lack of 'things' in the noodle soup. The steamed chicken was tender and full of flavour, although it seemed very much like Hainanese chicken - even the dipping sauce was the same. Was not very impressed when I found a piece of chicken skin which had not been cleaned properly.

Pork ribs claypot rice 

When they warned us that this dish would take longer, I certainly did not expect it to arrive after we had nearly demolished the other two dishes. And it wasn't all that worth the wait. The ribs were well flavoured, but were quite dry and a little on the overcooked side. The rice was the biggest let down though. Claypot rice usually means you get nice bits of crispy rice from the base. In this case, we got slabs of overly sticky and semi-crispy bits of rice. I couldn't work out whether it was caused by the pot it was served in or the method they had cooked it in, but I won't be going back for more claypot rice - we'll leave that for Claypot King!

 Ice kachang

Following on the theme of Malaysian foods, we finished off the meal with a bowl of ice kachang, a generous serve of shaved ice with coconut milk, red bean, grass jelly and various other Malaysian treats. Amazing flavours and the only fault I could find was the fact that they buried all the 'goodies' underneath a tower of ice that kept falling onto the table when we dug into it. 

Service was reasonably fast given how busy they were, and the food was rather impressive (and each dish was less than $10!). Will be going back to try some more of their Malaysian fare next time I'm back in Melbourne!

Overall Impression: 8.5/10
Petaling Street on Urbanspoon

Wang's Lucky Bar (旺旺辛运吧)

Location: 921 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill
Phone: (03) 9899 8558
Cuisine: Chinese

My parents had been talking about this lobster banquet deal for quite some time, so when I finally got back to Melbourne, we decided we would give it a shot.

The deal: $98 for a four person lobster banquet which involved lobster, three dishes and rice.

Shallot and ginger lobster with egg noodles

First up, the lobster was quite fresh and cooked just right. However, the sauce was a bit of a let down. It wasn't nearly as aromatic as I had expected - there was an obvious lack of the strong ginger and shallot flavours that are the champions of the dish. Noodles were just as they should have been.

As for the rest of the dishes, I was too fixated on my lobster to take photos. Not that it matters too much as they were a bit of a let down. I think it started with the poor choice in combination of dishes (the banquet did not offer us any choices, so the dishes were fixed).

The Hainanese chicken, which was supposed to be a key dish of the restaurant, was good but nothing fancy. The chicken was a little on the oversalted side but other than that, was moist and well cooked. The sauces (shallots, and sweet chilli) were quite good accompaniments.

The salt and pepper pork ribs were a completely different story. The batter, whilst light and crispy, was heavily ladened with oil. A sign that the temperature of the oil had not been hot enough to force out all the oil. There was also a distinct lack of flavour. Together this resulted in crispy oily bits batter hanging off some pretty tender but flavourless meat.

Stir fried Chinese broccoli rounded off the meal, Pretty standard but definitely needed after all the oil in the pork dish.

So value-for-money-wise, it was definitely worth it. You don't get cheap lobster all that often, and this was a pretty good deal (we even had leftovers from the dishes). However, if you're looking for quality in what you get, this would not be my first choice.

Overall Impression: 6/10
Wong's lucky bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Location: t18/161 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands
Phone: (03) 8623 9640
Link: www.woolshedpub.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Overall Impression: 6/10

Had the opportunity to try their Christmas dinner menu. This gastropub dishes up delicious food. Everything was plated up beautifully and tasted just as good as it looked! Great for a group function.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Groove Train

Location: Melbourne Central Level 3
Phone: 1300 GROOVE
Link: http://www.groovetrain.com.au/
Cuisine: Pub style
Overall Impression: 5/10

My experiences have varied largely depending on the different Groove Train stores. The thing with Groove Train is its actually pretty pricey for what it is. Take this chicken parma for instance, a regular chicken parma at a pub would be about $15. At Groove Train its $20.90. And the parma was very average.
Chicken Parmigiana $20.90
topped with melted mozzarella cheese, Napoli sauce & parmesan cheese, served with salad & chips

Grilled Barramundi $22.00
served with potatoes, celery and a balsamic reduction

I have however, had pretty good experiences when it comes to their 'specials'. The above Barramundi dish was one such example. Perfectly cooked, and beautifully seasoned, it was worth getting there and rushing back to the office within my one hour lunch break.
Maybe the lesson with Groove Train is to ignore their usual pub grub and stick to what you don't know…
Groove Train on Urbanspoon

The Metropolitan Hotel

Location: 263 William Street (cnr Lt Lonsdale), Melbourne
Phone: 03 9670 1385
Link: http://www.themetropolitanhotel.com.au/
Cuisine: Pub Fare
Overall Impression: 6/10
Char-grilled 300gm Porterhouse, Mash Potato, Broccoli and Pepper Sauce Our “Famous” Parma: Lightly Crumbed Chicken Breast, topped with Virginian Ham, Tomato Napoli and Melted Cheese served with Chips and Salad Char-grilled 300gm Porterhouse, Mash Potato, Wilted spinach and shiraz jus

Consistently good food. Great wood-fired pizzas and pub food. Nice and casual ambience. Friendly and prompt waitstaff. Perfect for a quick lunch or a casual dinner. Highly recommended!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

RA, Collins Quarter

Location: Collins Quarter, 86a Collins St,Melbourne
Phone: (03) 96508500
Link: http://www.collinsquarter.com/
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Overall Impression: 6/10

RA is well known among the younger corporate crowd. Jam packed on a Friday night, this upmarket city pub is tucked away in an alley (in a very Melbourne sort of way). Less known is the fact that they offer delicious food for those seeking to reward their taste buds.
I had the opportunity to sample their Christmas menu…

Turkey Gallotine
Stuffed with Lemon and Oregano served with Tequila cherries and caramalised pistachio
Roast Pork Belly with Bread Stuffing, Grain mustard coleslaw and Roast yellow peaches
Christmas Pudding with Brandy Anglaise

Service was prompt and friendly. The food was wonderfully Christmas-y =) The pork had good crackling, the turkey was tender, the pudding was moist! It was simple and to the point.

Innocent Bystander

Location: 336 Maroondah Highway,Healesville
Phone: (03) 5962 6111 or 03 5962 2533 (after office hours)
Link: http://www.giant-steps.com.au/menus.php
Cuisine: Bistro style
Overall Impression: 5/10

Innocent Bystander is a trendy little café in Heallesville. Its worth dropping by for a free tour of their winery (tour information is on their website). It’s a very relaxed environment with cheerful waitstaff and a good bakery on site.

Pizza: spicy pork sausage, buffalo mozzarella, san marzano tomato & chilli

pizza: roast mushroom, ricotta salata, white truffle oil, garlic & parsley

buxton farm smoked trout salad with witlof, red radish & pickled cucumber
pizza: prosciutto, san marzano tomato, parmesan & parsley
Tarte Tatin & hot chocolate (kennedy+wilson 70% dark with valrhona)
The Salmon salad was at best plain but the pizzas on the other hand were good. The sweets (from what I hear) were yummy. Overall a good casual lunch. Highly recommended if you are going with a small group (around 8 people) as they allow small group bookings.
* I usually don't include pictures of people, but that guy works as a model anyway so I'm sure he won't mind his face being shown :P

Locale, De Bortoli

Location: De Bortoli Winery, Pinnacle Lane, Dixons Creek, VIC 3775
Phone: (03) 5965 2271
Link: http://www.debortoli.com.au/
Cuisine: Italian
Overall Impression: 7/10 (D), 11/10 (J)

J's parents were kind enough to invite me to come along to dinner with them in the Yarra Valley on Saturday night. We had dinner at De Bortoli, J's favourite Italian restaurant.

Highlights, food-wise, was my mouth-watering steak: 'costata' – dry aged & sea salt crusted rib eye of local beef with traditional balsamic & rocket (500gm)

For my entrée I had a delicious tasting but unfortunately undercooked pumpkin risotto. J was very surprised because he has been to Locale a countless number of times and their risotto has always been perfect. I've always been very unlucky with risottos though =( Hopefully my luck will change when we visit Tutto Benne soon.

We had a gelato platter for our dessert. A must have is their caramel gelato. Deliciously salty and sweet, it was such a great way to finish off the meal.

I apologise for the lack of visual stimulants in this blog post. I decided not to take any photos that night because I didn't want J's parents to find out I'm an absolute nutcase. But I've been to De Bortoli for wine/cheese tastings several times and this is what the place looks like by day…

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Simply Spanish

Location: 116 Cecil St, South Melbourne
Phone:(03) 9682 6100
Cuisine: Spanish
Overall Impression: 3.5/10

J and I decided to check out South Melbourne market. And saw a cute little Spanish restaurant around the corner.

We both quickly decided we wanted paella. We tried to get the waitstaff's attention but we were ignored for about 20 minutes. As we had already been seated we thought we might as well give this place a shot. The service may be bad but the food could perhaps make up for the lack of any service.

We finally put our orders through. And then we waited.
And waited.
And waited.
And waited.
Half an hour later.
And the food didn't arrive. So, we asked tried to get any of the waitstaff's attention again and asked about what had happened with our order. We had both ordered the Paella Valenciana (big pot paella)... Which meant it would just come out of the massive pot of paella that was cooking at the front of the restaurant.
And it turned out they had forgotten our orders. The waitress came back in a couple of minutes with our Paellas. Finally.

The paella smelled delicious but as I tasted it. There was something missing. A good paella yields a 'socarrat', a delicious caramelisation of the bottom layer of rice. This was notably absent from the dish. The flavours were good but ordinary.
Simply Spanish on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Jai Ho

Location: 205, Swan Street, Richmond
Phone: 03 90787798
Link: http://www.jaiho-indian-restaurant.com/index.html
Cuisine: Indian
Overall Impression: 5/10
Highly recommend their Fish Curry (Fish fillets cooked in rich coconut and onion gravywith mustard seeds and fresh curry leaves)/ This sets you back a fair $ 17.00.
Simply delicious!

Friendly and prompt service. Very nice ambience. Good food. The portion sizes are very small even for mains so be prepared to order a few dishes. I'd advise you go with a few people so you can order a lot more - to share. And corkage is a mere $2 a head!
Jai Ho Indian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 15, 2010

Kellybrook Winery and Restaurant

Location: Fulford Road Wonga Park 3115 Victoria Australia
Phone: 9722 1304
Link: http://www.kellybrookwinery.com.au/
Cuisine: French
Overall Impression: 4.5/10

I guess I was just dissapointed.
It looked so good on the website. I was salivating just looked through the menu.. checking out what was on offer!

In the restaurant's defence, I am a pretty excitable person. (Is excitable a real word? Wait I just checked, http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=excitable yes it is!) Anybody who knows me, knows how much I enjoy just waiting in anticipation. I enjoy booking weeks in advance and planning what to order like a week before I step into a restaurant. Now that I think about it, I probably have some mental disorder. But I digress…

The point is I was very excited and I already had high expectations for this place. And the prices didn't really help. So, all things considered, including value for money, I think 4.5/10 is a fair score.

Oh and one thing that this place is famous for is Apple Cider! Both J and I really enjoyed the drinks we ordered. I got the Kelly Brothers Sparkling Cider and J got the non-alcoholic cider

Chicken and pistachio terrine served with homemade fig chutney
Caramelised sweet potato and coconut cream soup
Salmon paté – prepared with smoked and fresh salmon, served with dukkah-spiced toasts
Fillet of Blue eye, baked, and served with a minted green pea puree and parsnip crisps
Porterhouse steak, chargrilled, and served with Kellybrook Shiraz jus
Honey and almond tart, served with honey and spice icecream and clotted cream
Apple brandy cheesecake served with brandied apple compote and clotted cream
Nothing was really wrong with the food. It was just very very ordinary. There's nothing wrong with 'ordinary' food per se ,but I didn't think the prices were justified. I was particularly dissapointed with my Salmon paté. It was just way too salty. Which would have been fine if it had been served with a whole lot more bread. The soup and the terrine, on the other hand were both too sweet.
The evening ended on a high though. With a delicious honey and almond tart. What was truly special was the home-made honey and spice ice cream. =)
The place has a really nice ambience. Its not a very long drive from Melbourne but when you get there, it feels like you're miles and miles away. J and I walked through their garden before heading inside for dinner. And it was lovely.