Tag Archives: cocktails

Burma Lane

I’m still surprised, that Red Spice Road‘s sister restaurant is not well known. But “not well known” still seems hard to define – most of the people around me had not heard of it, but the place was booked out the night we went.

20140712_192004

As with Red Spice Road, the service is always friendly and accommodating. I altered the number of guests a few times and they were neither annoyed nor snobbish. We also came quite late but my friends already present did not mention being rushed or questioned.

20140712_200108_

It’s a nice place to enjoy a cocktail or some mocktails with your food and I always enjoy a good drink with experimental and Asian-inspired mixes.

RSR impressed me with a mocktail once, so I eagerly tried and enjoyed a THAI DAI ($9, right) which had lychee juice, pomegranate, kaffir lime. It even had a pomegranate in it, which was impressive. The lychee gave it a good degree of sweetness and the minty taste was not overpowering as it is in some drinks, allowing the pomegranate to shine.

20140712_192007

The food is a Western take of Burmese food with South-East Asian and Indian influences. We pretty much ordered all the meat since it was a large group, the top photo being the Lamb slow cooked in Yoghurt w/ Green Pea and Tomato Biryani ($27) and Rich Beef, Sweet Potato & Pickled Lime Curry ($28).

They were both so-so dishes, not amazing us, but exhibiting some different tastes. My friends were not fans of the beef. With its big tender chunks, it still seemed a tad dry and uninteresting. Unfortunately, a lot of expectations come with dining here and this take on Burmese cuisine does not seem to have the boldest flavours.

20140712_191956

We were excited to try their Roasted Pork Belly w/ Spiced Caramel Sauce & Herbal Salad ($29), after all, the most popular dish at RSR is their caramelised pork belly with apple slaw.

There was nothing wrong with the dish, but it had the same issue with comparison – the caramelised taste felt subtler than RSR, whilst the salad was nothing special. Even as a stand alone dish, I would find the pork belly acceptable but not a standout.

20140712_191938

I did enjoy the Prawn Dry Red Curry w/ Fried Cauliflower & Coriander ($29), as the sauce was nice and it had a tiny hint of spice. I think I was too busy enjoying the night to even notice the fried cauliflower!

We did notice that a lot of the dishes looked hot with the scattered chillies but none of them seemed to really be spicy except the chicken noodle dish below ($24). This was a little bland once again, besides the mint leaves and chilli tang.

20140712_192545

Despite similar prices to Red Spice Road, the food didn’t feel as satisfying. It’s possibly due to the weaker flavours and also servings are a bit smaller, as the restaurant is located on the Paris end of town.

We ordered a second round of food for the table so ended up with pretty much the remaining meat dishes and…

The Mushrooms stir-fried w/ Shan Tofu, Greens, Yellow Noodles & Coriander ($25, below.) This did not feel like the mushrooms were the main attraction of the dish but rather the tofu. Shan tofu is a Burmese tofu, and the inside texture and taste were almost like potato.

20140712_200302

We also had the interesting sounding Chicken Aloo-Rolled Chicken w/ Potatoes, Tomato, Spices, Lemongrass & Coriander ($28). The flavour was slightly different, the sauce seemed to demonstrate more vegetable flavours with a hint of Asian herbs. I enjoyed the chicken but felt like there was very little of it.

20140712_200308

Finally, we also had some classic calamari but it seemed quite plain compared to the fancy description of Calamari w/ Apple, Sweet Pork, Tomato & Herb Salad ($28). To me, it just felt like calamari, tomato and a few leaves…

20140712_200230

Unfortunately, this place did not live up to the hype. That is the unfortunate thing about having such a popular restaurant chain already, but may also explain why some people still haven’t heard of Burma Lane. The service and people are always top notch at both RSR and Burma Lane, but unfortunately this “contemporary” take on Burmese food has not won me over.

Burma Lane is located 118 Little Collins St and is open 12-3pm for lunch and 6pm-late for dinner. Check out their menu here.

Burma Lane on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Anju Bar and Restaurant

Lately, I’ve been discussing and pondering over the idea of themes on my blog. Someone recently commented that I often blog about the same sort of places. Thus, next month I’ll be starting a new idea – so watch out!

For this month, let’s just say I’ll continue with my “usual” places, which I have realised consists of mainly Asian or modern Asian joints! (Check out this category, and it becomes even more apparent).

20140710_181208

Following my recent discovery of modern Korean restaurant Suda, I happened to discover another similar restaurant called Anju Bar and Restaurant via the procrastination that is Instagram.

20140710_181506

A friend mentioned it wasn’t busy last time she went, but with only two people, my friend and I still had to be seated at the bar on a Thursday night. It seemed most of the larger tables were taken or booked so I was happy that we were still able to squeeze in.

20140710_181647The menu is divided into traditional and modern dishes (click on picture above). I was surprisingly not overly hungry and decided to order the dishes that I’d heard most about, the sliders and the mother and son omelette.

20140710_181800

They also have plenty of Korean alcoholic drinks (click above) to go alongside your dish, from soju cocktails (again!) to rice wine (makgeolli).

You’ll notice, I drive often, so I had to go for a more tame pear juice ($4, below). I’m not sure if they make it themselves or not, but it came in the current trend of a mason jar mug, and had a nice, light and slightly diluted taste of pear.
20140710_182406

I have also seen pictures of an interesting ice-cream soju cocktail, as seen on The Bake-a-nista’s post, but I didn’t spot it on the menu above. It seems to involve dipping an ice-cream (on a stick) into your drink, so I hope they bring it back! It may have been a summer item.

20140710_183030Since all the sliders sounded amazing, we decided to order four of them. This included the soft shell crab (right), beef bulgogi (centre), pork bulgogi (spicy pork, left) and panko ebi (crumbed prawn, back). All sliders were $6 except the soft shell crab, $8.

Service was swift and attentive. It could be because we were right at the bar and in front of the register, but I’ve heard many good accounts. We asked for a knife to split our sliders and one was provided a mere few seconds later.

20140710_183347

Each slider had its own unique taste to match the filling. The prawn and soft shell crab had mayonnaise type of sauces and a slaw filling to match their crispy exteriors. I think I enjoyed the soft shell crab the most. It was crunchy and slightly juicy whilst complimented by the slaw and sauces.

The beef bulgogi meat was nice and sweet too, but a bit plain with not much else in there. The spicy pork felt a bit similar, but also didn’t feel suitable in a burger for me.

20140710_183403

Above is the mother and son omelette ($26), which was an oven baked omelette with cheese, bean shoots and spicy chicken inside. This was very cheesy, but I enjoy my cheese so it wasn’t a problem. The chicken pieces are a little hard to find but the cheese and egg make it a filling dish.

20140710_183556

The prices are more expensive than you would usually pay for Korean fare, especially as you get to the meatier options, but this is not your typical Korean restaurant. I’d gladly return for the lovely setting and service to try a few more items (and drinks), as it’s something a little different. But for now, I haven’t left with the desire to come rushing back immediately.

Warning: you will smell strongly of food when you leave, as the picture above shows how open the cooking area is at Anju!

Anju Bar and Restaurant is located at 18 Little Latrobe St and is open Mon to Fri 11:30am-2:30pm and Mon to Sun 5:30-11:00 pm.

Anju Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Joomak

Joomak is a nifty, little Korean place located in a spot that you probably walk past everyday. In fact, it’s located immediately across the university I attended for three years, and I still never noticed!

20140523_180730

Of course, there’s a reason for that. It’s located downstairs, with the only signage evident after you poke your head into a random doorway and spot the pictured Joomak signs.

20140523_180755

Once you walk down the random stairway, not sure what to expect, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when some warm blue lights and private booths greet you. There are smaller tables out in the open, but we made a reservation, so we were led to a spacious booth.

20140523_180953

For a place I hear of so often, the menu seemed quite succinct (click image for larger picture). We were actually hoping for Korean BBQ but didn’t realise that they don’t offer it.

On the brightside, this made it easier to choose as we were especially hungry.

20140523_182427

I can never pass on most Korean pancakes. I usually order the seafood but as one friend wasn’t a fan of seafood, we thought we’d try the kimchi and pork.

20140523_182435

This was not bad, a little thin, but it was good to have a bit of meat in there. Of course it tasted better with a bit of dipping sauce (bottom dish), which seemed to be some mix of soy and sesame? Not an expert on the sauces that come with Korean food, but I know that I like them! You also get a bundle of kimchi (above the sauce) and interestingly a side dish akin to a pasta salad.20140523_182608 We ordered a few more dishes, and as often with Korean food it’s all about their marinated meat. Pictured above is the mild pan-fried pork ($15). It looks a bit small compared to other restaurants and for the price, and it also didn’t look as red as other places, which usually comes from some classic, spicy Korean sauce.

However, we did ask for mild and despite the appearance, I could taste a similar flavour to that red Korean sauce. It wasn’t really spicy at all, but that familiar Korean pork flavour demonstrates that it’s hard to go wrong with this dish.

20140523_182714

I preferred the pork to our beef bulgogi ($33, above), which has less of a flavour but kept me coming back because it has some Korean noodles underneath. This helped to satisfy one of my friends and I, as we were disappointed we couldn’t find japchae, sweet potato noodles, on the menu.

We also ordered the deep fried chicken drummettes ($15 for 7 pieces). This came with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Like The BakeanistaI found this similar to a Chinese fried chicken, the skin not as crunchy and crumbed as most contenders in this new KFC/Korean Fried Chicken craze.

20140523_183158

But, what really got us was the drinks. Unsurprisingly, Joomak is also a popular bar, thus the small tables are available to those just after a few drinks, or there are some stools along the side. Above, you will see a strawberry soju cocktail that one friend ordered, with a little shot-like glass hiding behind it.

Another friend ordered the pineapple, and they both taste quite fruity with the alcohol not obvious. My friend and I received a lychee version for two, and for some reason it tasted a lot a stronger (but still good). I think they were about $17, so they really add up in your bill!

This place was not a standout to me, surprisingly after so many raving reviews. But, I’ve decided that after I saw this Instagram post from Food For My Belly that I’ll definitely need to return for the rice cakes with cheese and seafood. Looks devilishly good!

Joomak is located at 407/409 Swanston St, Melbourne CBD and is open Mon-Tue 5pm-1am, Wed–Thurs 5pm-3am and Fri-Sun 5pm-5am according to their Facebook.

Joomak on Urbanspoon

Father’s Office

I’ve heard the place Father’s Office thrown around many times, but always thought of it as more of a bar. Upon arrival it has a noisy bar section on one side, but a lovely dining section to your left.

Father’s Office Speakeasy Bar and Restaurant actually has a 1920’s theme, which I wasn’t aware of until I saw the waitresses dressed in sparking black dresses with fancy headpieces. “Speakeasy” refers to places that served alcohol illegally in the 20’s in America, as it was prohibited.
20140322_185132

It was early in the night, so still a little empty, but it allowed me to admire the decor, with the main wall’s photo (above) providing a true vintage feel. In addition to this, the blue water glasses really provided a nice colour that subtly complimented the colour of the walls.

Continuing with the theme, the menu is presented like an olden day newspaper with the unique cocktails on the front whilst the inside is full of various American and pub meals..and plenty more drinks. The menu had a similar feel to my previous visit to New Orleans inspired Po’ Boy Quarter, with items such as New Orleans Cajun Chicken Wings, however Father’s Office’s influences felt a little broader.

20140322_185127

20140322_190857Their drinks menu had some entertaining descriptions and I thought I couldn’t drop by this place without trying a drink. So I went for a Granny’s Blackberry Press ($15, right), perhaps swayed by the description “An instant favourite with some of our prettier customers”, allowing me to deduce that its popular with the ladies! It consists of blackberry, creme de mure, limoncello, apple juice and mint. All those flavours mixed so well, with the prime flavour being blackberry. It’s quite fruity and was presented in a lovely fashion, so my other friend ditched her sparkling wine and we ordered another one!

We all ended up getting burgers – I was particularly determined on getting one as I had been craving one that week. It was a tough choice, but I went with the pork belly burger ($19, below), which included brioche bun, apple and pear compote, cos lettuce, Dijonaise dressing and Victorian pork belly. Secretly, I was hoping that it would live up to the pork belly burger at Strange Wolf, which has sadly closed.

20140322_192126

In my excitement, I didn’t realise the apple part was “compote”, usually pieces of fruit soaked in syrup and spices. It provided a strange mushy texture to my burger, which I didn’t enjoy too much. I was expecting crunchy pieces of apple, but that’s my fault for not reading properly (and maybe not knowing what compote meant until I wrote this blog). The pork belly was not bad but didn’t feature as much crackling as I would have liked.

20140322_192132

The chips were classic French fries and were addictive, but I’ve always preferred my chips thickly cut. I know this isn’t the tradition for American food though but I did love the the accompanying mayo in a cute little jar on the side.

My other friend chose the fried chicken burger ($15, above), crispy buttermilk battered chicken thigh with purple pickled coleslaw and Dijonaise mayonnaise. The chicken lived up to its description as it was cooked just right, it was crispy, juicy and buttery. My friend absolutely loved it, whilst I had a try and felt the same, but she felt there was too much of the purple coleslaw.

20140322_192139

Finally, I had joked to my friends about the ‘Man burger’ and next thing you know two of them ordered it! The Man burger ($20, above) comes with fried Dijon mustard, black Angus patty, Swiss cheese, beer battered fries, more cheese, a fried egg and bacon. I looked at my burger, and then their’s and instantly felt the food envy. It looked great, but my friends felt the taste of the Dijon mustard was a bit overwhelming in the burger.

20140322_193504

Overall, the meals and atmosphere were great. The burgers were good and although they weren’t as big or amazing as I expected, they satisfied our burger cravings and made us content. There are little things in the burgers that didn’t suit us as individuals, but seem unique from other places and seem to be pleasing the crowds.

Father’s Office is located at 249 Little Lonsdale St and is open Mon-Thurs 11am-1am, Fri-Sat 11am-3am and Sun 11am-midnight. You can find their menus here.

Father's Office Speakeasy Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Modern Asian Restaurants: Rice Paper Scissors

I walked past this place on my visit to Longrain, a new and upcoming place it was immediately put on my list of places to go. It was always going to be a risk though, with a modern take on various Asian and a lot of Vietnamese dishes, it would definitely challenge my notion of traditional Vietnamese food.

However, I’m very open to modern Asian restaurants as long as they provide dishes that taste good! It looked busy inside when we arrived around 6.30pm on a weeknight, so we chose to sit outside in true Asian hawker style with a wooden crate table. Service started off well and we chose to have the tempting offer of five dishes from the menu for $45 all up. 20140226_185001 The first dish that came out included two mini versions of banh xeoa take on the traditional Vietnamese pancake ($9, above). The English name said coconut crispy wafers filled with pork, prawn, bean shoots and fresh herbs, thus it was definitely crispier than the usual folded, large pancake.

The waiter recommended we eat it wrapped in the lettuce, which is a hard feat when the wafer is hard, but I managed by folding it up similar to a taco. This results in a messy, saucy meal but the crunch of lettuce and wafer, and the filling, provided a tasty mix of familiar Asian flavours yet something new. My friend wasn’t entirely happy when she decided not to use the lettuce and the waiter told her she should eat it with it, as it would be hard to eat otherwise. A recommendation is welcome, but being told you are eating the food wrong feels slightly rude. 20140226_185449 We didn’t take it too personally and moved on to our galloping horses, a Thai dish called ma hor, involving caramelised pork, prawn and peanut on sour pineapple ($9, above). From reviews, it seems like this is a favourite of many. I don’t usually like pineapple, but the taste of sour pineapple was easy to eat. The mix of filling on top sounds good on paper, but didn’t quite do it for us. The mix tasted a bit weird and salty and you don’t quite recognise what you are eating, but I guess it works for a lot of other people.

We also ordered a non-alcoholic drink, a crush of cranberry, lime and coriander ($6.50, above). Refreshing as it was, it had a bit of an odd aftertaste but it was not too bad and helped to cool down if you had too much chilli. I hear their cocktails are pretty good though so you can check out their drinks menu here. 20140226_194359 From this point, the small restaurant became full and I heard visitors being told it would be a 45 minute wait. Impressive for a new place, but at the same time our meal encountered an extremely long break.

After some prompts and apologies, our next dish of prawn crackers, using the Indonesian style and name, krupuk udang ($8, above) arrived. It came with king prawn, spicy sausage, soy caviar and sriracha mayo atop the large crackers. I discovered how tasty Indonesian prawn crackers are last year, as they’re larger, crunchier and more flavoursome but the presentation of scattered ingredients felt a bit random. It did taste quite good with the hints of chilli mayo, but it’s nothing amazing, especially after you’ve been waiting so long for it.

20140226_195445 Finally we had the mini Vietnamese baguettes, or banh mi ($9, above). It comes with free range bbq pork, pickled vegetables, herbs and homemade pate. I was dubious as they merely looked like mini hamburgers, but this was forgotten after I took a bite – the soft bread and pate burst with unique, inviting flavours.

For our fifth meal, they mistakenly brought out the coconut wafers again and not our betel leaves with duck. The wait was so long after that, we decided to leave and pay for four dishes. The waiter slightly apologised and rounded off our bill, however thought it was partially our fault for not correcting him when he had tried to check what we were waiting on. He had spoken quickly and we nodded because we assumed he was just asking if we were still waiting for dishes – and I’m not sure it’s our fault that they did not tick off the correct dishes.

Some of the food was impressive but weighed up against the long wait and service, I won’t be in a rush to come back. I didn’t leave full and don’t think I would have been, even after a fifth dish. But feel free to give it a try for some small bites and drinks, the food impresses many and you might experience better service than me!

Rice Paper Scissors is open Mon-Fri 12-3pm for lunch and 6pm-late for dinner. They are open 5pm-late on Saturdays and closed on Sundays. View their menu here.

Rice Paper Scissors on Urbanspoon

Modern Asian Restaurants: Seamstress

Another night, another modern asian place, but at least this time the flavours were slightly more unique and varied from the other places in this series. Seamstress is easy to walk straight past, located upstairs on Lonsdale St with its coffee shop Drystore Espresso on the ground floor and its bar Sweatshop located underneath.

It’s relatively small with the skinny room apparently being able to fit about fifty people. However, it didn’t give off a vibe of feeling cramped and we enjoyed the flowers hanging in test tube vases from the ceiling (unfortunately didn’t get a good photo as can be seen below). We were seated promptly as I had booked and I found their service swift and enjoyable all night.

IMAG6214

With two of my friends, we chose a dish each and agreed on one more. One aspect of the service that slightly concerned me was that they have a small, large and medium size of each dish, which seemed quite convenient at first. But instead of asking you to choose, they say they will judge on our behalf after they look over our order and proceeded to ask how hungry we are on a scale of 1-10. Although this could be seen as handy to some people, I don’t think a restaurant can ever judge how much I can eat…but more on that later.

9231edfe5b9611e3b90c1211b6281a69_8

The first dish was the most inventive and its taste did not disappoint, the duck rice crepe money bag, roast duck breast, black garlic, & plum sauce (above). It was styled exactly like a money bag, tied with some greens. The crepes were nice and soft and the plum sauce was not overwhelming and sweet, but just a touch was enough to compliment the dish.

IMAG6211

Keen on some seafood, we also had the maple seared scallops, smoked rainbow trout, crispy shallot, apple salad with a Nam Jim dressing. The scallops were pleasantly juicy and the apple was quite dominant in the salad, providing a light and refreshing meal.

IMAG6217_1

Perhaps I have an underlying desire in my subconscious to try all the pork belly dishes in Melbourne because I went with the 12 hour braised Berkshire pork belly, jicama salad & kohlrabi kimchi (above). The pork was OK, not flavoursome on its own, and a little chewy to my friends. On the other hand I found the texture fine and I enjoyed the crackling. The kimchi was lightly spicy and the sauce tasted like any ordinary Asian chilli sauce, thus I think the best part of the dish was the kimchi, which wasn’t just traditional kimchi.

IMAG6218_1

Last up was the caramelised eggplant with red miso & silken tofu sauce, crispy spice crusted firm tofu & toasted sesame seeds. It had plenty of soft, eggplant pieces and and some hidden pieces of tofu. The flavour mainly came from the silken tofu sauce, which proved to be as sweet as we expected the plum sauce in the first dish to be. Consequently, this was a bit too sweet for us to eat without rice to balance it out, although it did ensure we were full by the end of the night.

IMAG6212

I also enjoyed a cocktail from their extensive drinks list called Apricot Rickey ($15, bad picture above), a delicious thirst-quencher with Apricot Liqueur and fresh lime juice served tall with soda water. It was a nice fruity, mixed drink, perfect for a weak person like me.

I could have had room for  dessert but my friends were quite full after the last sweet dish, proving that Seamstress’ sizing for meals was quite accurate for normal people like my friends, but perhaps not me. They were attentive for most of the night, although our meal slowed down a little midway and we were getting a bit hungry, but as our concerns heightened, the dishes came out.

Seamstress is open Mon-Fri 12-3pm for lunch, Mon-Thurs 5.30-9pm and Fri-Sat 5.30-10.30pm. Check out their website for their other opening hours for their various levels and their menu.

Seamstress on Urbanspoon

Chuckle Park

IMG-20131210-WA0024

In the mood for something other than Asian but not too pricey, I discovered this hip little place on a laneway on Little Collins. Wandering along Little Collins, this laneway of hipsters and Friday night drinkers burst with animation from the everyday streets of Melbourne.

IMG-20131210-WA0022

The tiny laneway is lit up by strings of jars, with the Chuckle Park truck at the end for you to order food. Wooden tables with plants and bright red stools are scattered for a limited number of people to sit.

Chuckle Park is owned by and located next to the bar, New Guernica. Luckily for us, they were full of people for Christmas celebrations, and we received tickets for a complimentary drink on the way in to the Chuckle Park laneway. We were informed at the bar that this would be a shot, we have no idea what it was but we enjoyed it because it tasted nice like apple (they called it their appletiser promo on their entrance board).

IMG-20131210-WA0002

After this we went back downstairs to loiter in the laneway and wait for a table at Chuckle Park. It didn’t take too long and we swooped in on a table as some people were leaving. Then came the usual tough decision of what to eat!

IMG-20131210-WA0007

Their menu can be described as Spanish-inspired, with a short yet simple selection. We ended up with three pulled pork rolls and one meatball wrap and our table number was provided on a pebble (above). We also couldn’t resist their fantastic looking cocktail jars so we ordered a jar of raspberry mojito (Bacardi, raspberry liqueur, fresh lime and mint, $35) and a fruity mocktail.

IMG-20131210-WA0011

The pulled pork roll was surprisingly quite spicy, and we discovered the meatball wrap was too. On closer inspection the items are more detailedly described as pulled pork roll with slow spicy pork, cheese, walnut, fennel and slaw ($10) and tasty meatballs in pita wrap with authentic tomato spiced sauce, cheese and spinach ($10).

They didn’t seem to cut back on any ingredients and it proved a naturally messy meal. As they didn’t hold back on the meat, the spicy fillings satisfied our bellies. The pork was nice and tender and the burgers oozed with a bit of sauce as we tried to keep them together, thus the wrap wasn’t as troublesome.

IMG-20131210-WA0018

The cocktail jar may look large, but it technically holds around four or five drinks, so it was easily shared between three of us. There’s lots of ice so the raspberry flavour was more outdone by the mint leaves.

I asked if they did mocktails and so they provided their standard drink, with all their fruit juices and more mixed together. The flavour is hard to describe with so many juices involved but with an abundance of fruity fragrances and a dash of sour aftertaste, it seemed to taste more interesting than the cocktail.

IMG-20131210-WA0008

Overall, it’s a great little place and provides a unique vibe compared to a standard bar or restaurant. If you can’t stand smokers you might find it a little claustrophobic being in such a small, enclosed space yet outdoors. The meals are impressive for a small outfit and the idea seems to have proved popular.

Chuckle Park is open Mon-Thurs 12pm-late and Fri-Sun 12pm-1am. See their menu here.

Chuckle Park Bar and Cafe on Urbanspoon