Tag Archives: Chinatown

Fukuryu Ramen ft. Dessert

This place seems to be the new place to be right now in Melbourne, and what better time to launch a new ramen place than when the colder weather is kicking in.

Down a laneway of Chinatown and up a few stairs, you will find yourself in this bustling franchise out of Asia. I’d heard of long waiting times, but lucky for us, it seemed we just arrived before that peak period.

20140412_183434 Besides the wall above, the outfit was pretty standard with your usual basic, faux-wooden tables. When you reach the place, you find yourself walking straight into the line where you order and a standard menu on the wall.

Yes – this means the moment you walk in, you must make your decision. The cashier was very helpful in clarifying the difference between tonkotsu ramen and Shoyu ramen, which resulted in my friend and I reversing our initial choices. More on that later.

20140412_184042The cashier was quite bright and he seemed to know what he was talking about yet his American acccent threw us off a bit. When he told us to have a great meal it seemed very rehearsed and cheesy, but it’s better than showing no interest at all! Along with this, the whole team tend to shout Japanese phrases such as “Welcome!” every now and again, as if to add to the show.

20140412_184853My friend ordered what I initially had in mind, which was their Signature Tonkotsu Ramen ($9.90, above).The broth is pork flavoured, thick and creamy. The hype surrounding this place often mentions this dish, but I can’t stomach large creamy meals without feeling a little off. I had a spoonful of the soup and it definitely had this distinctive, tangy pork flavour.

It was interesting but I don’t think I’d be able to have a whole bowl. Having never tasted authentic tonkotsu, I can’t comment on this aspect, but I’ve read many other reviews proclaiming its authenticity.
20140412_184950I ended up choosing the Shoyu Ramen ($9.90, above). The menu didn’t say much besides ‘Tokyo style’, but we were told that the broth was clearer and based on a chicken and fish flavour. This appealed to me immediately, and I was glad I changed my mind.

The soup was quite addictive and I downed it to the last drop. The noodles are apparently handmade, just slightly thicker than instant noodles. The downfall was the serving size and lack of toppings. You can see the bowls below become slimmer as you reach the bottom and I could probably have had another bowl…or two.20140412_184956

I think more commercialised, and perhaps not as authentic places, such as Ajisen Ramen have set my hopes of serving size too high. The ramen here is cheap at $9.90, but then you’ll only get two pieces of meat.

That being said, the soup was much nicer than the usual oily fare. I’m still yet to try other places such as Kokoro Ramen so would gladly appreciate if anyone would share their experiences of ramen in the comments below!

Fukuryu Ramen is located on Level 1, 22-26 Corrs Lane, Melbourne CBD. They are open everyday for lunch 11.30-2.30pm and dinner 5.30-9.30pm. Their menu can be seen on their website.

Note: Fukuryu Ramen have just informed me they’ll be releasing extended portion sizes and more toppings as of April 16th, so watch out!

Fukuryu Ramen on Urbanspoon

Melbourne Supper Club

Considering we were still hungry, we couldn’t pass up dessert. Melbourne Supper Cub is perfect for a late night meal or sweets, but located on Spring St and up from The European, I have heard they can be a little snobby.

I thought we’d give it a go anyway, as despite this I remember good desserts. We enjoyed sinking into the sofas but struggled to use the small table. They have this dark yet elegant atmosphere (hence this bad photo), where you’ll find people on dates or older groups sitting over wine and chatting. That’s probably why their tables are so small, it’s more for a light shared meal over drinks.

20140412_195801

My friends and I don’t really drink, so we ordered tea, coffee and three desserts, hence the crowded table. My friends who first took me here always raved about the lemon tart ($9), which was a winner on this occasion too. The hard, savoury base and cream on the side balances out the tanginess of the rich lemon tart.

The tiramisu ($11.50) was creamy as expected and nothing too amazing. We did wonder if the three chocolate sticks were placed there purposely to serve us three or if it was part of the staple decoration. The churros con chocolate ($12) were surprisingly addictive, coated lightly in sugar and served with a dark chocolate dip. I don’t enjoy dark chocolate a great deal but it seemed to go with the churros well along with sips of tea. I’ve also tried the sticky date pudding ($11.50) in previous visits and would gladly recommend that too.

Once you get past the atmosphere that tries to emulate the sophisticated nightlife of Europe, the sofas and intimate setting prove great for a laid-back catchup. It started getting busier later on so we did feel the need to leave but didn’t feel we were too pushed to leave in a rush.

Melbourne Supper Club is located at Level 1/161 Spring St and is open 5pm-4am Mon-Thurs and Sunday, and 5pm-6am on Fri-Sat.  You can view their menu here.

The Melbourne Supper Club on Urbanspoon

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Modern Asian Restaurants: Longrain

Well it seems this series will never end, the most popular restaurants in Melbourne just seem to exhibit this modern cuisine. Most restaurants take the best parts of Thai food and put their own twist on it, thus it seems that Thai food has become the easiest to modernise and market. Longrain’s website indicates it takes influences from Thai food and also Southern Chinese food.

I’ll make a brief mention of trying it at the Night Noodle Markets, as I won’t be doing a full post on that event. To be honest, I was not impressed by the markets. Their portions weren’t great and they were overpriced even for what they would serve in the actual restaurants.

Hot and sour pork salad

I tried their hot and sour pork with glass noodle salad and it was roughly $12/$13. Although it’s a salad, I didn’t expect it to be so, so cold. Their pork was more like tiny bits of minced pork hidden in the pile of noodles, almost like finding a needle in a haystack. And I could hardly taste any hint of hot and sour…After lining up for so long I felt like we’d make the wrong decision and wondered if their other dishes were better. Thus I wasn’t put off by the whole outfit, merely the night market idea, and was not afraid to drop by their actual restaurant for dinner.

The restaurant is located further down Little Bourke St, an area that I realised I have not explored, with Christmas signs and tiny Asian restaurants on a little laneway leading me towards Longrain.

A tad late, my friend had already ordered an appetiser (below) so it would come out soon. I’m not sure what it was called but it came with prawn crackers, lettuce and a bowl of salad-type dish with mint, chilli, prawns and more. It had that zing that comes from the strong aromas of chilli and mint and went well when scooped into the crackers. However, they only give you three crackers and lots of filling. You can also use the lettuce but it still didn’t seem enough, and we found it too strong and saucy to finish on its own.

Our appetiser

At this time we were sitting in the waiting area near the bar and not properly seated yet. Despite us telling them that our last friend was about to arrive, they said they couldn’t seat us until she got there. We found this a bit silly but a common trend in the upper restaurants in Melbourne these days, as well as the no bookings for less than 6 people policy.

Finally, we were seated and served by a young waiter who sped through all we needed to know and the specials. Don’t get me wrong, he was very nice and attentive.

Like many restaurants, the dishes are intended for sharing. The menu doesn’t state it, but they can do smaller portions for some of their dishes. The first dish that came out was the char grilled ocean trout with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf (below, $19.50). We were quite hungry, thus when we saw this small portion (this is the normal sized portion), we were quite worried about what the rest of the dishes would bring.

Char grilled ocean trout

We almost forgot about this when we tasted the trout, so soft and covered in Thai-inspired flavours. Despite this refreshing taste, I’m starting to find it difficult to differentiate the flavours from all these modern Asian restaurants as there is a high usage of lemongrass, mint and lime.

Fortunately the char grilled chicken, tumeric, lemongrass, chilli, lime (below) did not look as small. It was similarly flavoured to the previous dish, however I could taste a subtle, smoky BBQ flavour and the sauce added some spice. In fact a tad too much spice for one friend, and our waiter was nice enough to bring some cucumbers out for us to cool our palettes down.

Char grilled chicken

It’s hard to go by these restaurants without trying their respective caramelised pork dishes, thus we tried their caramelised pork hock, five spice, chilli vinegar (below, $33.50). Our verdict remains as it was, that nothing will beat Red Spice Roads pork belly, but this dish still gained a favourite for the night. The caramelised flavour was just strong enough and the pork was perfectly cooked, but there wasn’t really much spice (not complaining).

Caramelised pork hock

Lastly, we ordered a small portion of Mussaman curry (spelt that way) grass-fed beef, kipfler potato and roasted peanuts as one of my friends didn’t want curry. This was quite different from the Massaman curries that I’ve tried, looking a lot redder, thus my friend who prefers Chin Chin did not like it at all. On the other hand, I found it reminded me of some Indian curries, and enjoyed the taste. But besides the beef, I didn’t enjoy the other ingredients in the dish as much.

Mussaman beef curry

Although out waiter was quite nice, we weren’t too impressed by not being able to be seated without our last friend present. The service was initially slow, with the trout coming out by itself and the following dishes taking their time. We pushed them by asking for the remaining dishes to come out together, which happened but after some time.

If I were to compare to the other restaurants in this series, we found it quite similar to Red Spice Road but not as good. Red Spice Road is just as, or not even as, expensive in some areas. They take bookings, they seem to provide more generous servings and I’ve also always been impressed by their swift and faultless service. An upside at Longrain was that they do have the option of brown rice, which we ordered (at $4 per person).

Longrain only takes bookings for lunch and only for groups of 6+ for dinner.
Lunch: Friday 12pm – 3pm, but also Mon-Fri between Dec 2 and Dec 23
Dinner: Mon – Thurs 6pm – late and Friday, Saturday, Sunday 5.30pm – late

They are located 44 Little Bourke St. Visit their website here.

Longrain Melbourne on Urbanspoon

Stay tuned for yet another modern Asian blog soon! Any guesses where it might be?