Saturday, December 29, 2012

Roast Duck Inn

Location: Carrington Road, Box Hill, VIC
Cuisine: Cantonese

It's been a while since I've been very impressed with a Cantonese eatery. New ones crop up all the time in Box Hill, only to disappear months later due to mediocre food, bad service, or simply just bad management.

So when I say I was impressed with the recently opened Roast Duck Inn in Box Hill, I was very much impressed.

It started from the moment we were seated. Polite waitresses brought out not only complimentary tea but also a bowl of complimentary soup each. Little gestures that don't necessarily cost the restaurant much, but can impress their patrons. Too many restaurants these days charge exorbitant amounts of money for tea that costs next to nothing to provide. The soup is a classic Cantonese starter and goes down a treat as we read the menu. 

Classic Cantonese starter soup

The menu is only 2-3 pages and sports all the classic roast meats (duck, roast pork, BBQ pork etc), as well as all the usual Cantonese noodle and rice dishes. We order a beef brisket noodle soup and a char kuay teow to share. About a minute or so after we order, the manager comes over to check if we've had our orders taken. The attention to detail is overwhelming for a little cafe like this.

Food comes out pretty quickly. The beef brisket noodle soup arrives and you can immediately smell the aromas of the herbs and spices that the brisket has been stewing. The meat is fall-apart tender, the tendon is cooked to perfection - soft, slippery and full of flavour. A nest of egg noodles, some greens and aromatic broth. Simple and brilliant.

beef brisket noodle soup

The char kuay teow is also beautifully executed. The all-too-famous wok-smell is evident as it hits the table, and the dish is loaded full of rice noodles, prawns, chicken, fish cake, cuttlefish and Chinese sausage. Just enough seasoning to lift the dish, but not so much as to overpower it. 

char kuay teow

And to top it all off, the meal came to approximately $20. This is the epitome of Box Hill food. Classic dishes, thoughtful management, attentive waitresses and generous serves at decent prices. I wouldn't hesitate to go again.

Overall Impression: 9/10
[someone needs to create an Urbanspoon account for this place]

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Henry and the Fox

Location: 525 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9614 3277
Cuisine: Modern Australian

So it's been a while since my last post. And no, it's like I haven't been eating, but it's more the fact that Canberran food tends to be mediocre compared the culinary superiority of Melbourne and Sydney. And so I return.

First venture into the CBD this trip and this time, it's for lunch at Henry and the Fox. It's got a fun name, which sounds more like the name of an inn from a fantasy novel than the name of a modern day restaurant in Melbourne. But modern day restaurant it is, with the polished wooden decor, outdoor seating and simple menu.

Service is pleasant, the food is fresh and cooked to perfection, and the place just has a nice casual ambiance with plenty of space between tables.

scallops, jamon, pea risotto
Risotto the way it should be. You can see and feel the individual rice grains swimming with some fresh green peas in a subtle creamy sauce. The scallops are perfectly seared, lightly crispy on the edges, soft and delicate and sweet inside. The dish is garnished with shards of crisp jamon, which add the salt element to the dish.

Unlike most risottos, which tend to be very heavy, the dish was well-balanced and the portion size was perfect for lunch.

chocolate brownie, salted caramel, hazelnut,
freeze-dried strawberries, burnt fig ice cream
Soft gooey chocolate brownies, cubed for presentation purposes, is matched with intense hits of sweet and sour from the freeze-dried strawberries, salted caramel, hazelnut and a creamy burnt fig ice cream. A brilliant balance of flavours and textures, and again not too heavy, a trap many chocolate based desserts tend to fall into.

The place is great for both small and large gatherings, or even just for a few after work drinks in the outdoor seating area. My only gripe is that the complimentary starter bread is cold. But that is negligible issue when the meals themselves are of such high quality.

Overall Impression: 8.5/10
Henry and the Fox on Urbanspoon