Tag Archives: fusion

Suda

I must admit, Suda was a great find. A small modern Korean restaurant serving tapas dishes and more, this place is everything a small and unique restaurant should be.

20140619_181225It’s located on a laneway in the quieter end of the city, just off Lonsdale St. Healeys Lane has a strip of eateries to choose from and Suda’s cosy decor and warm atmosphere make a good bid for customers.

My first visit was on a Thursday night, and business was quite steady with their largest table reserved. There’s only about four-five larger tables and a few smaller ones for two, so I’d suggest booking in case. There is also an L-shaped bench in the corner.

Owner of Suda, Kayoung Alice, was such a great host that I came back for a second visit. She is playful and talkative, and said her restaurant had only been open for about two-three months.

She encouraged us to try modern Korean dishes that young Korean people eat, rather than traditional dishes such as bibimbap, which we were about to order. She made a good point – so we followed her advice.

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I enjoyed her passion for this modern cuisine, which was a refreshing change from other common Korean restaurants. Both my visits and her Instagram page prove many young Koreans frequent the restaurant, thus this culture seems prominent.

Due to my two visits, I’ll be comparing dishes from both experiences.

Drinks – menu
Suda has a drinks menu full of reasonable prices. For example their soju cocktails are only $6 compared to $17 at Joomak. However, it is a only a tall glass at Suda, whereas Joomak is a small jug. Still, if you were only after a drink or two, Suda would be great.

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As I was driving, and I liked the sound of their iced teas, I went with a plum mint iced tea ($4, above). They brew these flavours earlier in the day so the drink comes out quickly. You have to stir a bit for the plum and mint to combine, but these ingredients seem to really compliment each other.

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Alice also kindly provided two complimentary glasses of their own sangria, which she insisted was mild. I still let my friend have both and she enjoyed it as it wasn’t as strong as your typical sangria. I find this a good trait, because I personally dislike the wine-like taste of sangria. A jug of Suda’s sangria would only cost you $19.

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My second visit, I felt the need to try another combination of flavours. Once again the designated driver for the night, I went with an orange yuzu ade ($4.50, top left). I was told yuzu is another citrusy fruit. Somehow my drink still tasted alcoholic, so I’m not sure if that was a result of the yuzu or what they use for the ades.

Meanwhile, my friend had a lemon ginger soju cocktail ($6, top right) which looked nice and easy to drink. I remember my lychee cocktail at Joomak was quite strong, so if I was after something light to have alongside dinner, this would be suitable for a laidback night.

Tapas – dinner menu
Suda is quite proud of its unique Korean tapas menu, and its understandable when you have a read through. We were curious as to what the kimchi fritters ($10, below) would taste like and how it would come served.

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Upon questioning Alice, she was happy to provide us a complimentary half-serve, so the above picture is not a full serve. They were pretty much fried balls of goodness, full of compressed calamari and kimchi and steaming hot inside.

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The second time, I was eager to try the mini burgers. There is a tofu burger and also a tteok-galbi (like a beef patty/meatball) burger ($4.50 each), which both demonstrate different flavours.

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The tofu burger has your familiar taste of kimchi, whilst the tofu itself was a large juicy chunk. It’s not bland and seems marinated or cooked in something that provides a bit more flavour.

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The tteok-galbi immediately had my friend’s approval. It was so tender and beautifully demonstrated the power of Korean marinated food. I’d say this burger was the winner for our tapas dishes and is a must order.

Pasta
When we were dissuaded from bibimbap which “you can order anywhere”, the Korean pasta section caught our eye and seemed worth a try.

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We went with the beef bulgogi pasta ($15, above) with shitake mushroom and shredded egg. I loved the presentation of it and it definitely exemplified this modern Korean cuisine.

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The beef at Suda seems to be a standout, so any dish including it is a safe choice. We also ordered the fried beef udon ($12, below) the second time, which was a bit saucier served with sweet soy. Both dishes had a bit of a chilli for those who like a bit of spice.

I prefer the pasta, as it feels lighter so you have more room to enjoy the beef, whereas the udon reminds me more of Chinese takeaway restaurants. The udon wasn’t part of the pasta menu but I felt it was suitable to compare with.
20140627_175509-newAnother dish on the pasta menu, but more rice based, was the tteok-galbi and kimchi gratin ($16). I’d seen this one on the Instagram and became attracted by the cheesy goodness. The cheese covers the top whilst underneath you’ll find some spicy, kimchi rice.

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It’s served with only two pieces of tteok-galbi, which I cut into smaller pieces and mixed it with the rice. I enjoyed this dish mainly because of the layer of cheese. My friend who is not a fan of red Korean sauces preferred the beef udon.

Miscellaneous
The other dishes I tried include the crumbed seafood pancake ($13, below). I liked the thickness of the pancake and the use of bread crumbs. You do need a bit of the sauce for the more batter-y parts of the pancake and it does have a lot of spring onion, so if you don’t like them, steer clear!

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Due to the cold weather lately, I also gave into the tempation of the spicy tteokboki soup ($15, below) or spicy ricecakes. It also came with an interesting side of dumplings, a prawn and an egg.

The stew was a medium level of spicy and had a good amount of tteokboki to satisfy my hunger. The other two soups sound appetising too – slow cooked pork belly with kimchi or tofu and seafood soup sound like they’ll be on my list for next time.20140619_184717-new

If you know me, you’ve probably already heard me rave about how cute this place is and how friendly the owner is. I love the different experience and I’m glad I can see them getting more popular. Last Friday almost all the tables seemed reserved.
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I am yet to figure out their fascination with snails, but its provides a nice quirk to the decor. It’s also admirable that Alice embraces social media for her restaurant even though English is not her first language. I remember her confessing that she found Instagram quite confusing, but to me she seems to be getting the hang of it.
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You’ll find from their social media that Suda often holds small functions too. Alice also runs a blog in Korean and mentions that many Korean friends or partners like to show it and translate to other people. If you’re one of those people, click here.

Suda is located at 550 Lonsdale St, but you will need to turn into Healeys Lane and spot their sign. They are open Mon-Sat for lunch and dinner until 11pm and only for dinner on Sundays.
You might need to check with them for specific times as Urbanspoon, Facebook and their menu say slightly different things.

Suda on Urbanspoon

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Heirloom

In the mood for Japanese, but something different from your standard dons and bentos, I decided to try Heirloom, a bit of a higher-class and modern take on Japanese cuisine. When you pass it on Bourke St, you won’t realise it’s Japanese and might mistake it for an upper class bar.

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Well, perhaps it is, but with a strong focus on Japanese food and drinks. The service was prompt and faultless. Our waitress did not have the best English skills but she was attentive and willing to help. The overwhelming part was when she provided us with about five different menus. This might be an area that they want to brush up in. One standard booklet would be sufficient rather than separate sheets with her explanation of what each one was.

You’re probably curious as to what they were – they included small and large tapas, some degustation courses, sushi degustation, bar food and their drinks menu. She also pulled a sheet out of her pocket and started to recite the specials. It might be helpful to display this somewhere for forgetful minds like us!

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After pondering over the many menus and finalising our order, I realised I might want some greens. So our first dish we received was the tofu salad (above). I feel their menu is quite more extensive than their current menus online. I can’t remember prices but this dish was fairly cheap at $10 or less.

The dressing was light and the tofu chunks were large and cold. Thus the tofu was understandably plain but I found it the perfect dish to have on the side, especially to balance out any accidental tasting of wasabi. My friend on the other hand wasn’t a big fan. Usually, I tend to like cooked tofu in nice sauces, but this did the trick as a healthy side dish.

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The wasabi happened to be in our order of salmon sushi aburi shio nigri (top, $7.50 per 2 pieces). This means the salmon is slightly grilled and I really enjoy that Japanese style of cooking, which provides a subtle smoky feel. There were bits of wasabi hidden underneath the salmon. I know they are making it traditional but perhaps they should ask about it in the future, as I know a lot of people who prefer no wasabi (yes we’re weak).

I also ordered a drink but not wanting to splurge on a cocktail, I noticed that they had an offer of shochu (Japanese spirit) mixed with various fruity flavours and soda for $9. I picked the lychee flavour and both my friend and I enjoyed it, along with an actual lychee.

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Next up were the sliders. I was tempted to have these after seeing another friend’s photos. I think they were only $5 each or so. We had the ebikatsu (fried and crumbed prawn, left) and pork belly (right). They were both so delicious that we couldn’t quite figure out which one was our favourite. They are both complimented by shreds of slaw and their own, rich sauces in soft brioche buns. There’s not too much of anything and the sizes are perfect for a non-messy fare.

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After trying the nigiri sushi with the salmon on top, we went for the soft shell crab sushi roll (above, $14 for 4 pieces). Each end seemed to have a great deal of crab, whereas the middle pieces seemed to only have avocado and a tiny piece of crab. This wasn’t too special and I preferred the nigiri.

In addition, I almost we forgot we had the wagyu kaburi skewer ($4 for about 3-4 pieces of scotch fillet). By itself, the skewer is pretty plain. For skewers I would try somewhere like Pabu Grill and Sake, as it’s more of their specialty.

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We managed to remember one of the specials, so we ordered the teriyaki salmon ($18). It was served with orange/mandarin pieces, which I found a bit weird drizzled in teriyaki sauce. However, I really enjoyed the sauce, which seemed to have an extra sweet kick from the mandarins, and the salmon was cooked perfectly.

These dishes didn’t exactly leave us hungry or full so we dived in for one last dish – dessert. We went with the Houji tea sticky date pudding (below, $13). This included caramel apple pieces, vanilla ice cream, (Japanese) nikka whisky caramel sauce topped with a sort of biscuit. The staff were happy to provide the whisky sauce on the side, so my friend wouldn’t need to avoid the alcohol.

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The sauce had a strong taste of whisky. I enjoyed it as it still had a base of caramel, but I couldn’t have too much of it, otherwise it felt too rich and strong. I enjoyed the addition of the biscuit on top to provide some crunchier texture and to lessen the sweetness of the dish. The Houji tea (a roasted green tea) made the sticky date a bit drier but with an interesting taste, so the ice-cream and sauce provide the needed cover, and I think it was an innovative take on the classic dessert.

20140411_194519Overall, Heirloom really delivers the service and food for a good night. If you go by your instincts and order what sounds good you’ll most likely be fine. The lights provide a great setting whilst they project anime on a screen in the distance. Service is attentive and swift, so I feel like it’s always going to be a place where you know you will be looked after. It’s not the cheapest but we paid less than $50 per person, so I feel like it’s a reasonable price for the quality.

Heirloom is located at 131 Bourke St, Melbourne CBD. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They serve a buffet breakfast (who knew!) Mon-Fri 7-10am and 7.30-10.30am on weekends.

They have daily specials for lunch, Mon-Fri 12-3pm and serve bar food 3-6pm. Finally, they serve dinner 6pm-10pm on weekdays and 6pm-10.30pm on weekends. Check out their menus here, but as I mentioned I think they have more items than this now.

Heirloom on Urbanspoon

Koba K-BBQ

Koba KBBQ provides some excellent fusion takeaway food to go, with a blend of Mexican and Korean. Who knew the flavours would combine so effortlessly? Located in the laneways of Melbourne, it’s hard competition when Hardware Societe is located directly opposite you. However, it provides an entirely different option, more of a place to get food on your lunch break or enjoy a deliciously messy meal.

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Having work myself, the only option was to visit on a Saturday and it wasn’t too busy. The small tables, benches and some outdoor seats once again suggest a takeaway feel or the type of meal where you eat and do not linger.

The menu is simple enough – burrito, tacos or rice bowl with your choice of Korean filling. You can even get kimchi fried rice instead of normal rice, however I thought this might be too chilli for my weak tastebuds, as I was already planning to try the ultimate Korean filling – spicy pork.

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I ended up going for spicy pork tacos whilst my sister got a chicken burrito. It’s unfortunate you can’t get different meats in your taco set, but understable for practicality reasons. They asked if we wanted spicy sauce on either meals, but as I said, I had to give any extra spiciness a miss!

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What I could not give a miss was the kimchi fries ($7, above). The fries come covered in cheese, caramelised onions, kimchi, onion relish and sour cream. This is similar to say, having nachos covered in salsa but with more of a Korean feel. For me, the flavours really worked and nothing felt unnatural. In fact my sister, struggling with her burrito, didn’t eat many fries, so I finished them off with all their cheesy kimchi goodness.

20140222_132022The fries weren’t really spicy but the large chicken burrito ($9.50, sorry for blurry picture) was slightly so. It was packed with fresh ingredients, evident as the ingredients were visible at the counter and we had seen them making it from where we were sitting. I enjoyed a bite and could see why my sister was getting so full.

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My tacos came in a set of three ($9.90) with cheese, kimchi, salsa and more, looking tasty and fresh. I loved the fact that the cold ingredients were packed in to balance out the spicy pork and the smokey barbecue sauce was also subtle enough to compliment the tastes and not overpower the pork. However, I felt the burrito provided more value as it seemed more filling and cheaper than my tacos.

Of course it was messy – we may have used half of their serviettes, but boy it was good. If you’re a fan of Korean sauces and meat and Mexican food, this is the place for you. I think it would be great if they stayed open a bit later when they get more popular, as people like me who don’t work in the city can’t visit at lunch. But then again, the atmosphere seems to suit lunch more!

Koba KBBQ is open Mon-Sat 11.30-4.30pm. It is located at 119 Hardware St, Melbourne CBD.

Koba K-BBQ on Urbanspoon

Wabi Sabi Garden

I’ve been wanting to blog about this place ever since I started work around the area. To start with, it’s most of the office’s go-to lunch time source of sushi. When I stumbled upon it via Google Maps, I was fascinated by the lovely gem I had found. All I wanted was sushi after all – so how exciting could it be?

But their sushi was not your typical flavours, coming with unique Australian fish and tofu in interesting sauces. The variety and wonderful fresh flavours ensure a loyal corporate following at lunchtime.

Furthermore, after deciding I would eat my sushi in and observing their stools shaped as cupped hands at the front, I was led to a whole other room where people were dining, with the intricate lamp above provided a warming atmosphere.

The place was full of surprises. They even brought up my sushi rolls to me nicely sliced, and here I thought I was going to have a casual sushi lunch. I really enjoyed their fish sushi, somehow it just provided a lovely flaky and tasty sensation and I do reckon it has something to do with the fish they used.

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I did notice a back area that looked nicer from where I was dining but assumed it was more for functions and dinner time. However, on another visit my coworker walked right to the back area, through and past the little Japanese garden and pond.

There was only one other couple sitting here, perhaps another two people who knew they would not be refused their request to sit there by the lovely Japanese owners. The area was an open section looking over the mini garden and we were told we could even order from the dinner menu if we like.

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I already knew I wanted the wagyu meatballs, but was also tempted by the tender pork belly as I’d just recently had a wagyu burger that week. But, I couldn’t resist the sound of the Western idea of meatballs accompanied by a combination of Japanese red miso and demi-glace (rich, brown French) sauce. Even better, we were told that the this meal was the “Meat Bento” ($16) of the day, thus all of us ordered this rather than just the the meatballs with rice ($19).

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Another benefit of this place is the option to have brown rice, a win for many of you health freaks out there, as I did above. I enjoyed having the option of a bento as it meant a bit more variety in the meal. They aren’t too quick with food but still fast enough to have for your one hour lunch break. The dumpling in the top right was a little hard, and I was a bit confused if it was from being frozen or the resulting crunchy texture was on purpose. I think they were going for crunchy – but I’m still a little confused.

The meatballs were really lovely and then made me regret having a bento because I wanted more! There were only four in the bento. It was a dark and rich sauce, but not too much of it, and it provided a peppery aftertaste. I also enjoyed the touch of mayonnaise on the vegies. It was a good value meal that I was happy with but not something I feel the need to rave about.

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However, I do recommend this place, for their ambience and decor, their friendliness and fresh sushi. I reckon their dine-in meals might be hit and miss, although I haven’t tried their dinner menu. I enjoy that they are trying to experiment and especially enjoy the display seating in the above picture.

This section is always empty so I assume it must be reserved for special occasions as the other dining sections do not have this traditional setting and seating. More information on the venue and the Japanese owners/chef can be found in this article if you’re interested!

Wabi Sabi Garden is located at 17 Wellington St, St Kilda (just off St Kilda Road). They also have a branch called Wabi Sabi Salon in Collingwood/Fitzroy.

Wabi Sabi Garden on Urbanspoon