Monday, March 31, 2014


Finally tried out Joomak on a friend's recommendation.

Joomak is located just north of Melbourne Central and can be a little hard to's hiddne down some stairs in the basement of the building.

The inside has an 'izakaya' type feel, despite not being Japanese. Just inside the entrance there are two small tables designed more as seating for drinks than for a proper meal. Private booths line the hallway leading into the main restaurant area, with round wooden tables and wooden stools on one side, and a long bar down the other.

We haven't booked, so get seated at the small tables to make our orders before eventually being moved to a proper table that frees up just in time as our food arrives.

We get a little carried away with the ordering, partly because Teapot is under a misapprehension that 'share dishes' in every other cuisine are as small as they are for Spanish tapas, and partly because I just think she's super hungry.

too much food?

And to top it off, we order two mango rice wine cocktails, which end up arriving in a giant bowl with a ladle and two small rice bowls to drink from.

mango rice wine
corn and cheese
The 'corn and cheese' is the first to arrive. Kernels of sweet pop-in-the-mouth juicy goodness are piled onto a miniature sizzling plate, loaded with mozzarella cheese and grilled until the cheese melts all over the corn. It may sound a little weird, but the cheese is stringy like on a good pizza and works surprisingly well with the fresh bursts of sweetness from the corn.

fried chicken
The fried chicken is crispy and well seasoned, but it's just fried chicken and nothing Korean about it barring the two sauces on the side - a soy garlicky one and a sweet chilli. The soy garlic does the job for me.

kimchi and pork pancakes

The pancake is crisp and not too heavy. The kimchi flavour seems to have been lost in the batter so it tastes more like a cabbage pancake than kimchi. The pork is used sparingly and doesn't have much flavour. Not the greatest pancake I've had, but eating it with the complimentary side of uncooked kimchi does compensate for the missing flavour.

beef bulgogi

The beef bulgogi is served in a small clay pot like the ones used for single serve soups, rather than a iron sizzling plate as I'm used to. The beef is still thinly sliced, and sits in a light bulgogi broth with onions and some potato noodles. I find it's a little too soupy for my looking, particularly as it's lacking that smokey chargrilled flavour and aroma that is typical of Korean BBQ (and which could have been achieved by serving on a sizzling plate).

cheese egg roll
The cheese egg roll is the least impressive dish for me as it just tastes just like an egg pancake, stuffed with cheese and rolled up, then covered with tomato sauce. There's nothing special about it for me, a little on the bland side, and I tend to be more critical when ketchup is used as a major seasoning base.

Service is reasonably quick despite it being very busy. The wait staff are polite, friendly and responsive. The food is good and that mango rice wine is definitely worth a revisit.

Overall impression: 7/10
Joomak on Urbanspoon

Fukuryu Ramen

Fukuryu Ramen is a new addition to the Melbourne ramen scene. It's only been around for three weeks so  totally worth a visit while they're running some cool promotions.

Located at the corner of Corrs Lane and Little Bourke Street and up some fire stairs, Fukuryu is a trendy modern eatery. The menu is pretty simply - four classic ramens (tonkotsu, miso, shoyu and shio) and three 'modern' varieties (vegetarian, dry oil and 'tam tam'). There's also a couple of izakaya style snacks like karaage and gyoza for those snack-inclined. Order at the counter then pick a table and wait for your food to arrive.

It's still early in the life of this new spot so they're having a smackdown of nori chips and nori tofu. Complimentary samples of both for customers to vote on. It's a little like being on an episode of MasterChef or MKR!

nori tofu vs nori chips 'smackdown'
Both are tasty - the nori really adds a pleasant sublte seaweed flavour to both deep fried snacks. The tofu is slightly crispy on the outside and airy on the inside. Little puffs of tofu-goodness! Not quite crisp enough and there isn't enough seasoning. The chips on the other hand, are crunchy, well-seasoned and a delight to eat. No guesses which one I voted for.

miso ramen
My miso ramen is really good. Nice springy ramen noodles and slices of pork are drowned in a salty miso broth. The half boiled egg still has it's gooey yolk. And my favourite part - the corn tastes like it's been cooked in butter...yum!

tonkotsu ramen
The tonkotsu ramen is also a hit, but lacks the corn. Too bad for H.

As soon as our dishes are cleared away, our complimentary ice cream is brought out.

green tea ice cream
The ice cream is soft and creamy - more like soft serve than ice cream or gelato. There's a strong matcha flavour through it and we're told it's made on site. Such a good way to end a meal! The ice cream promotion ends 7 April, so get in while it's free!

Basically a three course meal at just $9.80 each - it is a very good Friday night feed indeed.

Overall impression: 9/10

Fukuryu Ramen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Supermax Eatery

What was previously known as Cafe de Kikaku recently changed it's name to Supermax Eatery. Being a big fan of the former, I had rather high expectations for its replacement, particularly as it continues to serve the same cuisine.

The beauty of this place is that it's one of the few decent eating spots on the Vic Harbour side of Docklands (Pok Pok and Nine Elephants are two of my other recommends) and only a few minutes walk from work.

The interior hasn't changed much since my last visit. One of my favourite quotes still adorns the back wall: "Sleep until you're hungry; eat until you're sleepy". The menu has changed in content but retains that quirky, almost fusion style of food.

The boys are drawn straight to the KFC (Korean fried chicken) burger but unfortunately 1pm is so late that they've run out of burgers already! Luckily the KFC is still available as a main dish served with rice.

Korean fried chicken

I opt for the galbi Angus short ribs, which are fall-off-the-bone tender and have a subtle smokey chargrilled aroma, while the other two go for sticky honey chicken. The dishes are served with rice, salad, pickled cucumber and kimchi.

galbi Angus short ribs

honey sticky chicken
the 'bold ice-cream collection'
And to finish off - if you're into obscure ice cream flavours, you'll find a good selection including sake and wasabi here. As can be seen from the above photo, the ice cream comes in a cup, on a cone, or in an ice cream burger - your choice! We didn't get around to trying any, but the blackboard certainly made us curious. Too bad the weather's start to cool down, this would have been a nice escape for ice cream in summer.

Supermax's food is just as good as the predecessor's, everyone is full and happy and the proximity is most definitely a bonus.

Overall impression: 8/10

SuperMax on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Choix Creperie Café

Tucked into a little laneway of the western end of Collins Street, Choix Creperie is a 'hole in the wall' kind of cafe with a long wooden bar running the length of the place and small booths along the wall.

Specializing in crepes, the menu sports an extensive list of savoury crepes, and about half a dozen of sweet ones. I order the 'le chateau', which filled with ham, brie and asparagus.

The crepe itself is soft and delicate, and a little crispy on the very edge (which I like). My first mouthful is a little disappointing - the ham and asparagus are cold and the cheese hasn't melted yet. But by the second bite. The warmth of the crepe has heated up the filling and the brie is soft and oozy. Perfect.

Service is quick and the wait staff are attentive and friendly. Great for a quick lunch, but as seating is limited, it's not the best place for big group gatherings.

Overall impression: 7.5/10

Choix Creperie Café on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 14, 2014


A random but good find thanks to Teapot's craving for French food and Urbanspoon.

Service was top notch from the minute we stepped into the quaint French restaurant. The waitress led us in, gave us a choice of tables and brought over the specials board straight away. I must commend this place for having a couple of portable specials boards - it certainly makes it easier than craning necks around corners or over other people's heads to catch a glimpse of the daily specials.

bread & snail shaped butter
We order moscato to kick off the meal then start the difficult task of choosing dishes. We can't go pass the duck terrine from the board, and settle on a gravlax de saumon as our second shared entrée. Then it's ravioli de crabe for me, and confit de canard for Teapot.

duck terrine
What can I say, the duck terrine is perfect. The texture is smooth and holds it shape well. The sweet and slightly sour (cranberry?) jam pairs perfectly with the creaminess of the terrine and the crunch of the toasted baguette slices. My only qualm is that the baguette slices are a little thick and could have been split in two, but that doesn't stop us scoffing the lot down.

gravlax de saumon - gravlax of salmon on toasted brioche with roe salsa
The salmon gravlax is another hit. Slices of smoked salmon are dotted with orange fish roe which provide a cleansing 'pop' of flavour. The toasted brioche is sweet and charred on the outside, complimenting the cured salmon well.

confit de canard - confit of duck thighs with orange glaze & potatoes sarladaise
Teapot's duck confit is "delicious" and "melts in your mouth". The orange sauce is noticeably citrus-y but subtle enough to not be too intense.

ravioli de crabe - crab ravioli with blue swimmer bisque
My crab ravioli in blue swimmer bisque is also a delight to eat. Unlike the Italian variety, the ravioli is delicate and light, almost like a wonton wrapper. There's a generous filling of crab meat inside each one. The little parcels of shellfish goodness sit atop a rich crab bisque with an intense crab flavour and undertones of butter.

pan fried mushrooms
Our side of pan fried mushrooms is deserving of a much fancier name. Whatever the chef has done has brought out the deep earthy flavour of the mushrooms, which has also absorbed the garlicky butter sauce its been cooking in.

Onto dessert and we're both ridiculously full from eating too much bread at the start of the meal, but as all foodies know, you have a second stomach for dessert (just don't ask a doctor to confirm that). We decide to be slightly rational and choose the bombe alaska to share. Which is a fantastic choice if you like your dessert served with a side of theatre. A cute little ice cream gateau covered in meringue arrives, with faint caramelisation down the sides. Then the waitress lights a small pan of Grand Marnier on fire and douses the whole thing in flaming alcohol. Wow.

bombe alaska - ice-cream gâteau with dried fruits on almond biscuit,
covered in meringue & flambéed with Grand Marnier
It's quite a beautiful dessert although the Grand Marnier is very strong and gives you that slight 'burning' sensation. And you can't avoid it, because cutting into the bombe alaska means half the pieces gets dragged through the alcohol. The ice cream is smooth and spotted with 'dried fruits' which seem to have been reconstituted in water and are actually quite juicy. The meringue on the outside is soft on the inside and slightly crispy where it's been caramelised (twice, firstly by a blowtorch, then again by the flaming Grand Marnier).

The service is commendable, particularly from our main waitress of the night. Polite, friendly and happy to chat, she made the dining experience truly enjoyable.

Overall impression: 9.5/10

Bergerac on Urbanspoon

KoKo @ Crown - MFWF Restaurant Express Menu

I don't generally eat out on my own, and definitely not when it's fine dining. But a culmination of having a day off, being too lazy to organise anything with anyone and the fact that the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival has Restaurant Express menus at some of the city's top restaurants changed all that. So I headed down to KoKo's for a leisurely lunch.

The interior of the restaurant is classically Japanese. Polished wooden floorboards surround a shallow pond in the center of the room. And wait for it...there are smooth flat stepping stones so you can walk across the pond!

interior and the miniature pool
As an extrovert, I must confess I actually really enjoyed the experience. I was seated a table by the window, with a view of the Yarra and the Melbourne Aquarium, on a day where it was sunny and the sky was a pretty blue colour. Just sitting there with some amazing food, an endless supply of green tea and calming music while watching the water glistening and rippling, trains going past and the occasional water taxi cruising by.

just look at that view!

chicken meatball in teriyaki sauce
A small appetizer is brought out. Not expected, as it wasn't on the menu. And it's an interesting one. A single chicken meatball with teriyaki sauce served cold. Yes, cold. I've never eaten a cold meatball like that and I'm still trying to decide if I like it.

Eventually my Shokado bento arrives and the waitress carefully sets it down in front of me, and arranges the miso soup, pickles and tempura dipping sauce around it before taking the lid off the box and revealing four impeccably presented dishes.

from top left: grilled Wagyu with onion sauce, tempura
whitebait and vegetables, trio of sashimi, steamed rice
I start with the sashimi. Thinly sliced salmon, tuna and a white flesh fish I'm guessing to be swordfish. Fresh, delicate and just the right portion size. Can't ask for more.

The Wagyu is slightly chewier than I had anticipated but that is partly my fault - in retrospect I probably should have ordered it medium rare instead of medium. But the beef is nicely charred on the outside, tender on the inside. It's served with a fancy type of mushroom in a generous pool of onion sauce. Well seasoned, and the strong flavours of the sauce worked perfectly with the rice.

The tempura comes in a light crispy batter. The whitebait is soft and flakey, the zucchini and sweet potato are both as they should be. The standout for me is the eggplant, which has been cut to resemble a bit of a fan and then battered and fried. Perfectly soft and creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Creative and tasty!

miso soup | Japanese pickles
The accompanying miso soup is also a favorite. Not your typical $2 miso (actually, do they even exist anymore?). This one has a good earthy miso flavour, and is generously loaded with seaweed and tofu. Delicious! The pickles are a refreshing palate cleanser.

All this for $40 and I get to tick off yet another top restaurant in my Good Food Guide. A good way to spend a random mid-week day off!

Overall impression: 8.5/10

Koko on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 7, 2014

High Tea @ The Park Hyatt

At Taste of Melbourne last year, we picked up some discounted vouchers for high tea at the Park Hyatt. We finally got around to using the tickets last weekend.

Despite our booking having disappeared without a trace, the waiters quickly had a table set up for us, and we were soon treated to a wonderful afternoon tea of scones, finger sandwiches and an assortment of petit fours, sparkling wine and our choice of tea from a very extensive menu of jing loose leaf teas.

afternoon tea stand

flowering jasmine peach, green tea

plain scones & fruit scones  w/ orange marmalade, berry jam and vanilla Chantilly cream
We started at the bottom tier and worked our way up. The scones were well made and struck that balance between being soft and fluffy and a more solid crumbly texture. The orange marmalade was a bit too intense  - it had a good flavour but I'm not sure it worked with scones and cream. The berry jam, on the other hand, worked a treat with the smooth Chantilly cream. Sometimes, you just gotta stick with the classic flavour combinations.

finger sandwiches
The second tier was a selection of finger sandwiches: chicken and avocado, egg, smoked salmon and ham, with the smoked salmon being the favourite. 

petit fours 
And to top it off, five different miniature pastries. We didn't quite catch the names of all the items (too busy taking photos) but of particular note was the lemon meringue pie, which had a beautiful short pastry and a smooth and intense lemon curd filling, all topped with nicely caramelised meringue that was light and airy, almost marshmallow-y. The macaron was pretty average (but I may have been spoilt by Adriano Zumbo's macarons). The pecan pie had a good solid chocolate based, smooth chocolate filling and toasted pecans. 

The afternoon was definitely a very enjoyable one. And at $32.50 a head, there was more than enough food to delay eating dinner for a good couple of hours!

Overall impression: 8/10

Radii Restaurant & Bar, Park Hyatt Melbourne on Urbanspoon