Tag Archives: food

Mission #3: Final Report

Well that is the end of another month, another mission, albeit a much quieter and slow-paced one! It’s amazing how fast time flies but also nice to have time to yourself to rest, especially as it nears towards the end of 2014 and all you need is a break. Continue reading

Mission #3: Mobile Food

It’s my third month experimenting with this theme/mission concept and I’m excited to announce the next one of ‘mobile food’. You might have noticed after my burst of blogs towards the end of September that I am now a little tired. I feel like this mission may be a bit laid back than the first two, so I hope my dear readers are OK with that! Continue reading

Mission #1: Lentil As Anything

You may have heard of Lentil as Anything, as there are several branches in Melbourne. It’s known for its unique payment method – you pay however much you feel it’s worth.

20140810_174059The most popular one is located at Abbotsford Convent, and so I had this in mind for my vegetarian mission. It wasn’t until I started looking it up online that I discovered there was one much closer to home in Preston.

The interior was small and basic, which was expected for a place that runs on donations. However as we were waiting for our food, we decided to check out the courtyard at the back.
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It definitely had that grungy feel with graffiti and dreamcatchers decorating the place, but it also looked like a great spot if you were to drop in for brunch or on a sunny day.

20140810_174527As it was cold, we remained at our table inside, but we were glad we made the effort to see what was hidden at the back.

20140810_175030This branch provides table service, which was prompt. I went with the curry platter, which came with some rice, dhal, curry, salad and pappadum. It wasn’t amazing, and the curry and dhal could have been a lot hotter (temperature-wise and spiciness-wise). To be honest, I’ve tried dhal made by a film festival colleague, which tasted a lot better!
20140810_175023My friend ordered the Indian minestrone soup, which seemed to have a herbal flavour in the soup that wasn’t to my taste. A little towards the end my friend also believed he found a hair in his soup at which point we moved on to the salad…
20140810_175534The Vietnamese salad was surprisingly delicious. I was reluctant to order something Vietnamese at a place like this because, as we are both Vietnamese, I didn’t think it would be up to standard. However the tofu on top was excellent, covered in some nice, sweet sauce.

Our only gripe would be there was not enough tofu!
20140810_180135My friend enjoyed his cappuccino, whilst I ordered a hot chocolate. It looked lovely but took a little while to come out and the froth felt cold.
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And so I’m glad I got to try something out of my comfort zone, which is what the mission is all about. Unfortunately the place did not surprise me with some amazing food, but the people were lovely and attentive. I might give the Abbotsford Convent one a go in the future.

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Lentil As Anything is located at 288 High St, Preston and is open for lunch 12-3pm and dinner 5-9pm everyday. Check out their menu here.

Lentil as Anything on Urbanspoon

As always for this month’s mission, I would like to remind you I have chosen vegetarian as my first adventure to raise awareness of the Environmental Film Festival Melbourne. Our program is now live and you can watch our trailer below!

My Next Mission

Since I started this blog I’ve had many missions. I blogged and blogged to get myself in the top 50 of Urbanspoon, I wrote about places that you wouldn’t have given a second thought, I was eager to hear all your recommendations (see Insiders of the Month on the right hand side) and to get out there and try them!

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So, next month I’ll be starting up something new after a meetup with Consider The Sauce’s Kenny Weir. We had some great chat over some Latino food (still yet to be blogged about – see some food from La Morenita below) and he told me about some feasts that he usually holds.

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Check out one of his latest ones at Ethiopian restaurant Kokeb, with proceeds going to charity.

His ideas to bring people together offline has inspired me to think about how I can similarly do so. There are so many bloggers out there these days – pretty much anyone can be one.

So how do you differentiate yourself from the crowd? With so many people blogging about the same hyped places in Melbourne, the competition continuously grows. What I love about blogging is sharing my experiences, sharing my new finds and sharing my opinion.

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After doing the same thing for nine months, I plan to take this a little further starting in August and in the months to come, so watch out for another post when August hits. I will also be raising awareness about my own little “charity” – just wait and see and hope you can become part of my next mission!

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Note: Images are only vague hints, probably not what you think 😉

The Lane & The Forge Pizzeria

On a completely off note, doesn’t that sound like a dramatic blog post title? Like the name of a fantasy novel, only more like a parody of it…

Anyway, I recently visited Ballarat and explored all there is to do outside of Sovereign Hill. A part of that included wandering the historic town and it led me to the cafe, The Lane.

20140531_111235It’s part of the George Hotel and what drew me in was its spacious layout, its wall of green foliage and its mural at the back.
20140531_122904I sat right in this corner to admire the artwork whilst I waited for my iced coffee. It was quite expensive at $8.50 and I wondered whether it was a result of the tourism of the town or whether the hotel itself was costly.
20140531_103538 copyI like how it was presented in an old fashioned mug. It’s also nice that they give you a proper straw in addition to the striped one for presentation, as it tends to taste a bit like soggy paper.

There wasn’t anything special about it for $8.50 but I enjoyed the serene feeling that emanates from the lovely artwork. You can also get free wi-fi, which is always a plus!

The Lane is located at 27 Lydiard St North, Ballarat. They are open 7am until late on weekdays and 8am until late on weekends.

The Lane on Urbanspoon

Next up was a highly rated and recommended pizza place, The Forge Pizzeria. It appears they have two locations, thus I’ll clarify that I visited the branch on Armstrong St.
20140531_135820It wasn’t extremely busy but seemed steady enough. The seating area is vast and lengthy, so you don’t feel too close to anyone.

20140531_134041Once again the rustic and historic aspects of Ballarat shone through, this time with this music box-like tin for our utensils.
20140531_135829With a fireplace, wood-fired ovens and earthy brown brick walls, this place does not attempt to be something modern, but fits in nicely to Ballarat’s tapestry of vintage spots and its remnants of the mining era.
20140531_140106 20140531_140058 copyThe portraits below were probably the only additional elements to the decor, and they seemed to embrace the multiculturalism of Australia by placing various cultures in a Ballarat background. With the art gallery just a street away, Ballarat seems to be home to quite a bit of historic Australian art.

20140531_140127Service was adequate enough, although with large places sometimes it’s hard to catch the attention of a waitress. They helpfully explained to us the different sizes of pizza and roughly how many pieces they would have.
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Not a fan of pizza, my friend went for a fettuccini carbonara ($14, small) pasta. I’d probably advise against pasta for a place with only three pasta dishes on their menu. The pasta was too cheesy, although I know that’s the nature of the dish, it wasn’t the pleasant sort of flavour. It was difficult to stomach so we didn’t finish it.
20140531_140904The remainder of the menu is, of course, pizza, so we ordered a few to share. The above was the Butchers, with bacon, sausage, shaved ham, salami, mozzarella, tomato and rosemary ($19).

Overall, what I like about the pizza is the soft, doughy crust. No frills such as cheeseburger crusts but not a hard crunchy crust either – just right.

20140531_140955Besides that, the toppings sounded great on paper but nothing really stood out. For some pizzas, such as the pulled pork ($21, above), the cheese had a strong and unique taste that didn’t suit us. It’s possibly because we aren’t accustomed to strong European cheeses.

Upon investigation, the ingredients include sage, mozzarella, gorgonzola dolce, garlic, green apple coleslaw and Flying Brick cider dressing – I suspect we couldn’t appreciate the gorgonzola dolce, a type of blue cheese.

20140531_140940Another was the Blacksmith, with premium pork sausage, mozzarella, mushroom, garlic, parsley ($19, above). The sausage was tasty and the pizza didn’t seem to have any little quirks that we didn’t like.

Our friend also recommended the Shearer’s pizza, a lamb and goat’s cheese pizza ($22, below, top left corner), which the boys enjoyed as it tasted “like a kebab on a pizza”. This and the Blacksmith were probably the most agreeable pizzas for us.
20140531_141000They had a special that day, which was a chilli meatball pizza of Habanero chilli meatballs, San Marzano tomato, basil, buffalo mozzarella, Grana Padano & salsa verde (below). The meatballs gave a chilli aftertaste after a few seconds, but we were a bit put off by the fact that the greens (salsa verde?) were not spread out on the pizza, but placed in lazy looking clumps.
20140531_141155This place has a great variety of pizza, however I can’t say it’s amazing as everyone makes it out to be. The pizzas sounded different and interesting but the results tasted a bit odd. Maybe it’s true to Italian culture with its use of various cheeses, but I can’t really say. Let me know your thoughts in the comments if you’ve been here!

The Forge Pizzeria is located at 14 Armstrong St North, Ballarat and is open 12-10pm seven days a week. See their menu here.

For other activities in Ballarat, don’t forget to check out my Weekendnotes article!

The Forge Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Tree of Us

If you haven’t noticed, I love to take on people’s recommendations. I mean, rather than pondering over mixed reviews on Urbanspoon, that comfort of having the approval come from someone you know just provides that extra weight.

Thus, Tree of Us sits on my list of places to go after The Sunday Oven told me where she thinks the best burgers are at.

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Located on the quiet end of Church St, less lively than the likes of Victoria St (Shizuku, Jinda Thai), it can be identified by this dark, yet intricate artwork on the wall outside. I like that the place embraces this aspect of Melbourne, especially when it’s located in the inner suburbs where street-art is prominent.

As a burger place, they add a few basics to brighten up the interior, such as paintings and simple flowers, but also don’t try too hard because in the end – it’s all about the food!

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For a Saturday night, it seemed a little quiet, but I have noted it seems like a popular breakfast place too. This is understandable when there is a “Not Burgers” menu section which includes meals such as organic muesli, French toast and – wait for it….a breakfast steak!

Speaking of steak, I was extremely hungry (more than usual), so I went with the No Misteak (above, $18), which had scotch fillet, bacon, Swiss cheese, caramelised onion, relish, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. The issue this posed is that the steak was a bit hard to bite off if I used my hands, but if I tried cutting the steak, it made my burger fall apart. First world problems much! In the end I went back to my hands – the steak was actually quite soft and became easier to bite, but I might have preferred it a tiny bit pinker.

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On the bright side, I enjoyed the way the Swiss cheese oozed over my steak and how the chips were like thickly cut potatoes ($4 as a side). I’ve said it before, I like my chips thickly cut, but these were a bit salty after too many.

My friend ordered The Chicken Coop with free range chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, garlic aioli and dill pickle (above, $12). These sounded like your standard burger ingredients, but my friend downed it astonishingly quickly.

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My other two friends ordered the staple Tree House Burger with beef chuck patty, lettuce, relish, mayo and dill pickle ($11). One of them ordered a Bonsai burger, which is a mini version of the burger ($6, above). They also offer this for the Lumberjack and Sweet Pea burgers. I think it’s a great option for people who are not overly hungry.

My friends also enjoyed the delicious and soft brioche buns used with the burgers. If it was earlier in the day, I would have adventurously gone for a milkshake/smoothie and maybe even a Breakfast Burger, but instead I went with a meat fest! Having had about three burger meals in that week, I still feel that Spot on Kebab Station wins in value for money and in the uniqueness of their burgers.

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Tree of Us offers great service, the owner looked after us and even provided a complimentary slice of salted caramel brownie (above) as our group chatted until were the last ones there. The salted flavour was quite strong for me, so I found the bite sized pieces for us a good portion. If you check out their Instagram, it seems that one of their mothers likes to drop by with homemade desserts quite often!

I love the simplicity of the place, the honest and down-to-earth feeling that the staff and shop provide and their ethos of sustainability. I’d be happy to drop by for brunch, as strange as that sounds, for a different and bubbly atmosphere and to try something off their Not Burgers menu!

Tree of Us is located at 71 Church St, Richmond and is open Mon-Tue 7.30am-4pm and Wed-Sun 7.30am-9.30pm. Check out their menu here.

The Tree Of Us on Urbanspoon

Coburg Night Market

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I stumbled upon this goodie whilst searching for the whereabouts of a Filipino food stall, and ended up finding a bunch of other food stalls too! Whilst everyone was at the fancy schmancy Taste Of Melbourne (I only kid, I look forward to trying it next year), I found a lovely warm, community event to enjoy on a Friday night.

Click here for more details on when and where for the Coburg Night Market. I’m not sure if all the stalls are permanent, but this is a review of what I managed to fit in my stomach that night!

Hoy Pinoy

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The main reason I ended up here was because I was looking around Hoy Pinoy’s Facebook. Finding the hits from the hit and misses at Dahon Tea Lounge quite good, and enjoying some other BBQ meat, I was eager to continue trying Filipino food.

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They only had a few options, but it still seemed enough. Above from left to right you will find longganisa, BBQ chicken and BBQ pork belly skewers. I think it all cost about $8. Unfortunately they didn’t have garlic rice as listed on their menu, which was disappointing.

Admittedly, it was very nicely presented on a banana leaf. However we found the longganisa quite dry. The pork belly wasn’t amazing either, no significant bursting BBQ flavour. The most flavoursome was the chicken skewers, which I didn’t mind, but overall it wasn’t amazing.

Hoy Pinoy is a roving food stall that serves Filipino BBQ and street food, so find their next location on their Facebook. They are also often at Queen Victoria Market.

Trailer Made

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I’ve heard Trailer Made’s name here and there, mainly at the recent Trailer Park events. They’re not one specific cuisine, but rather inspired by their travels in places such as Europe, China and Korea. One glance at their menu and you can definitely see this broad influence.

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Having only one dish I can’t comment on the entire outfit, but this steamed sticky beef bun made me feel like by spreading their influence in their menu that the specific flavours aren’t brought out successfully. The slaw was nothing special, lacking any exotic dressing or flavour. The bun itself, for $10, had little meat and thus felt like mainly bread.  Considering their popularity, perhaps their European dishes are done better.

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For more information on Trailer Made visit their website or check their Facebook for their next location.

Trailer Made on Urbanspoon

Nepal Dining Room 

Never having been sure what Nepalese food is, and often coming across it at food festivals, we thought it was about time that we give it a try.

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Although the Chicken Sekuwa (above and $12 as a main with salad) looked tempting, we’d had our share our BBQ for the night. On a mission to try something different, we went with the chicken momo (dumplings, $5 entree size).  

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It may not look like anything special but I think this could have been my favourite for the night. I really enjoyed the sauce, which was Nepalese tomato and sesame chutney according to the menu. I felt like it had a similar taste to some Indian dishes, but still had its own twist, so I’ll be venturing for a proper Nepalese restaurant soon (up for some recommendations too)! I thought five dumplings for $5 was also fairly good value compared to most food stalls.

Vist Nepal Dining Room’s Facebook page for more information.

PS. The mandarin Jarrito drink was from the South American stall, where we didn’t enjoy the free taste-testers enough to buy their meals, but I wanted to try another flavour of the Mexican soft drink, as I enjoyed mango last time at another Mexican place!

The Meatball Company

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So perhaps I lied before – you can never have enough meat. What really caught our eye at The Meatball Company wasn’t this delicious, simmering pan of meatballs but their comedic menu. Of course, you can have a lot of fun with “balls”.

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All the menu items sounded tempting, and their little display made their bun look especially filling. But that’s not what we were after considering we wanted to try as much as we could from all the stalls. Thus, we went for the basic balls on a stick ($8).

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Their two pans were simmering with chicken balls and beef balls with mozzarella cheese. We chose the classic beef balls, yet they tasted quite cheesy. I still enjoyed them and the sauce, but would not have them on their own next time, so I could probably balance out the taste if it was served in bread or with coleslaw.

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Interested in tracking them down? You guessed it, check out The Meatball Company’s Facebook page.

Moo-Baa-Cluck Gourmet Burger Bar

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Getting a little “infoodicated” by this time, (that’s a term we’ve coined that describes a drunk feeling caused by overeating), I was somehow still persuaded into trying a burger, merely because lots of other people were lining up. How easily fooled we are.

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I went with a basic BBQ burger ($11) as I do enjoy my BBQ sauce and I didn’t want anything too heavy. My friend also asked for no lettuce or tomato. Consequently, I did not find the burger quite interesting or gourmet. The beef didn’t taste too different from the norm and was nothing special, the bun was soft but overall the burger just felt plain. I don’t like to be too quick to judge, so if others have tried their other burgers please do let me know your thoughts, but I wouldn’t go back for now.

Find more information on Moo-Baa-Cluck-Burger here on Facebook.

Bianco Latte

And of course there was room in my belly for dessert! I’ve heard of Bianco Latte from reading up on Taste of Melbourne, so felt lucky that they were at this little, local event too! I found the little cart very cute and enjoyed their old-school inspired outfits with bow-ties and all.

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I felt it was decently priced as well. I got the kid’s flavour (one flavour) and that was $4 for the serving below. Besides salted caramel, the other flavours were quite normal, so salted caramel was a non-brainer, in line with the trend that is going around with Melbourne’s desserts.

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I found the flavour not entirely strong, but subtle enough for me to enjoy the whole ice-cream without getting sick. I’m more eager to try some of their more adventurous flavours that I’ve seen on their Facebook, such as salted caramel with coffee/chocolate swirl or banana split, so I’m guessing their more exciting flavours must have been at Taste of Melbourne.

You can visit their website here or check out their Facebook. Like many of the aforementioned stalls, they even do private events.

Overall

It was a lovely night and I was glad to have stumbled upon this event. I’m not sure how I haven’t heard of it before and I find it much more enjoyable than Queen Vic Market as it’s not as crowded. It has more of a local atmosphere, even with music and songs for kiddies as the parents loll and talk on the grass.

Unfortunately, I had to rush off to see a movie so I didn’t get to try everything – I didn’t have time for The Creme Brulee Cart! But as you can see, I finished off the night quite content with my ice-cream (below).

Coburg Night Market is on every Friday until December 20th, so click here for more details!

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