Tag Archives: pork belly

Gingerboy

With Melbourne’s crazy and unpredictable weather, I still haven’t managed to start Mission #2. Although what have I been eyeing? Well the Hideaway pop up at QV for one – it’s curated by Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and includes some special events and workshops, whilst acting as a cafe (Milky Joe) during the day. That was my go-to coffee back in my interning days! Continue reading

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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

Lady Bower

Lady Bower is located in an area of Reservoir that you wouldn’t expect to turn into. On one side is a main road but if you enter from the other side, you will drive past such an everyday suburban street that you might wonder if you’re in the right place.

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It’s your typical small and cosy suburban cafe and I enjoyed that our water was served to us in a wine bottle. We were swiftly offered the menus, specials and drink orders but I had to change my order of a latte after I spotted the display below…

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The display provides a common vintage influence, along with the feeling that you’re looking at patterns straight out of your nana’s house. Upon our request, the staff let us move inside when a table became free due to the chilly and windy weather.

20140421_130912 My hand shaken salted caramel milkshake ($4.50) came in a tall 420mL jar and looked quite pale. It tasted very milky at first, but as I got used to the taste, the salted caramel became more apparent later on. You can also get a lamington version if that sounds more appetising! Meanwhile my friends ordered a latte and cappuccino.

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Whilst we waited for our food, I observed the interior was quite minimal except for the curvy lights and the wall at the back, with a tea set that continued the cute, nana sort of theme.

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Some seats also had a knit blanket (like the corner seats above), which we assumed was to cushion the plastic seat if you wanted, but may have just been there for decoration. The tables inside were mainly small and catered to two to four people, with one large table, but I’m sure some of them can be pushed together to cater for more!

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My other friend suddenly decided she wanted a hot chocolate ($3.50), which looked like your usual. Finally we received our food, which all looked amazing. Their menu had many items, which are not your usual breakfast and lunch items, so it felt like a refreshing change.

IMG-20140422-WA0003One of us ordered the Meatballs, smokey sauce, swiss cheese, rocket salad, on a turkish bread ($9.50, above). I had a taste of one of the meatballs and it tasted cheesy and a little spicy.

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My other two friends ordered the Pork Belly roll with apple coleslaw and sriracha mayo ($12, above) with extra rosemary mushrooms ($3). I found the pork nice and tender and really flavoursome. The sriracha gave it some extra spice in a good way too. I think it’s very filling for $12, so much that I had to help one of my friend’s finish it.

Finally, I decided to go with one of the March specials, Rosemary mushrooms, pate, brioche, truffle oil and autumn leaves with poached eggs ($17.50, below). I was very curious as to what they classify as autumn leaves, but it was pretty standard.

20140421_132154I think it was a good balance between various ingredients but the truffle oil wasn’t that evident and the pate wasn’t that great. I’ve tasted better pate at Rice Paper Scissors. It made the dish a tad salty, but I managed to balance it out with the salad. Overall, it’s a great looking and filling dish and the eggs were perfect, but maybe few more elements need to be refined.

It’s not a surprise as to why Lady Bower is such a popular place in an area that is a little short in quality cafes. I think their prices are decent and the staff are friendly and attentive, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t drop by especially if you live around the area.

Lady Bower is located at 1A Marchant Avenue, Reservoir and is open Tue-Sun 8am-4pm. Check out their current menu here.

Lady Bower Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham is building up a reputation around the southern most part of St Kilda Rd. Many go for the coffee, others for the friendly smiles and service that greet you at the door. The first time I went to get something for lunch they didn’t make a good impression – they kind of stuffed up my order. But my colleagues and I decided to go for a dine-in lunch and I thought I would give it another chance.
20140327_125202 Their menu is quite simple and succinct, as can be seen by their breakfast menu here. They were a bit busy as we sat ourselves down, so we went to get the menus ourselves from the bench above. I ended up choosing a wrap from the display window rather than the menu, as the last time I ordered a tandoori chicken one for takeaway it was great – it was just the service that was the problem.

20140327_130336It’s friendly yet kind of strange that a staff member floats around the door and the front counter to greet you. That’s from in front of the counter – not behind. So when you order, you find yourself standing right next to the person serving you and asking what you would like. There’s not really anything wrong with it, but you will find it a change to your conventional processes of having a barrier between the server and customer.

I ordered a Korean beef wrap ($9) with a side of chips (I think it was about $3). I loved the presentation of everything, the bonus salad and the cute basket of french fries (below).

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My wrap was full of plenty of beef but it didn’t really have that spicy tang of Korean flavour I’m so used to. I was kind of expecting something similar to say a Koba BBQ burrito, a blend of spicy flavours, as the tandoori chicken wrap last time tasted exactly like it would in a meal. This is not to say the beef didn’t taste good, it just wasn’t what I expected.

It may seem silly but small aspects such as their glasses and brown sugar impressed us with their aesthetics. Unfortunately, what wasn’t simple was their special of the day. We were eyeing a few other meals with a large mug and wandering what everyone was getting.

It was not until we heard a waitress say that it’s their special that we noticed the sign high above on the wall, opposite the counter and not entirely noticeable. Another customer on our communal table highly recommended it, thus my friends who were in line, suddenly changed their minds to order the special.

Unfortunately one of my friends ordered the last one! It included a large mug of pumpkin soup and a sandwich with some pieces of bread to dip into the soup. My friend said she doesn’t usually like pumpkin soup but she liked this one, and continued to finish every little bit of the meal.

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Finally, my other friend was eyeing a teriyaki tofu wrap ($8.50) in the display. I love tofu as well, so teriyaki tofu definitely sounded appetising. In the end she went with the teriyaki tofu salad ($8.50) with extra chicken ($3.50) and the result below looked amazing and definitely worth the value!
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This cafe has evidently located itself to cater to the corporates, only being open during the week. It’s either full of people on their lunch break or those dropping by to get their daily fix of coffee. The staff are friendly but considering we had to get a menu ourselves, I think it would be a great idea to have a menu on the wall considering it’s quite short. Perhaps a sign indicating you need to order at the counter would also be good to invest in, to avoid any confusion.

Overall, I do enjoy their interesting variety of wraps and what they are trying to accomplish, so I hope they continue to find their feet in the coming months.

Green Eggs and Ham is located at 22 St Kilda Road and they are open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm. You can see their breakfast menu here, but you’ll have to check their lunch menu in store and their special’s board so you don’t miss out on anything like this!

Green Eggs and Ham 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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Brother Alec

If you’re familiar with the northern suburbs, you’ll know that High St is not lacking in places to eat and cafes. The other weekend I decided to try Brother Alec, even though I’d read a review that they hardly stood out from other cafes on the street.

The place is quite small, normal for a local cafe. The service was exceptional the moment we walked in. Whilst we decided whether we should sit inside or out, they mistook our hesitation as want for a better table (we would be sitting at a shared table indoors). Thus a couple they had just seated were moved to the communal table, allowing us our own table for three people. Of course we felt bad, but it’s good to know how accommodating they can be and their eagerness to satisfy customers.

Our drink orders were taken and I went for a standard iced coffee for the summer heat ($5), my friend got her normal latte but my other friend went for an adventurous choice – the Alaska (#4.5, bottom left).

This was a glass of iced water with double espresso along with milk and sugar syrup on the side to add at her own leisure. As with DIY hot chocolates, I love the ability to mix your own drink and I liked how they went for something different to a hot chocolate, a cold drink.

I really enjoyed my iced coffee as often they come too bitter, thus the order is always a risk for me and sometimes I prefer the iced chocolate as I definitely know they’ll be sweet. But this wasn’t too bitter and the ice-cream scoop mixed well into the coffee, resulting in a very happy me!

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When it came to the menu we noticed their signature dish to have a Mexican sound, the Huevos Rancheros ($17). They even had a staff leaderboard of who had eaten this dish the quickest. I did notice a slight Mexican influence as they had Mexican sauces on their shelf and they had items such as nachos and housemade chipotle black bean chilli on the menu.

I was also curious as to what “housemade chorizo crumble” was, as listed with the tomato poached eggs. I was told that it was diced chorizo, then cooked together to make pieces of crumble (something like that, I’m no cook). Luckily, their latest menu includes this in their “extras” section so I could order it as a side with my Pork Belly (below) dish, which is not on their latest menu on their website.

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This included pork belly slices, cornbread, poached eggs and diced cucumber and tomato. The bread was nice and fluffy, ensuring it plays a big part in filling you up. The pork was perfectly cooked, tender and not too hard to cut at all. I also enjoyed the diced ingredients on the side to balance out the heaviness of the pork and bread.

The chorizo crumble (the small plate in the middle) looked a little similar to popcorn chicken but it was great – crunchy and crispy but still with that distinctive taste of chorizo. It was a bit salty so I think it needs to be eaten with more bread and vegies, but of course, as I ordered it on the side and already had meat this was bound to happen.

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Both of my friends ordered sandwiches, but they were quite different. One got the Breakfast Roll – Turkish roll, omelette, housemade basil mayo and tomato relish with bacon or spinach (12.50, top left). She also added mushrooms as a lover of mushrooms. It was definitely very tasty, I think the sauces and breakfast ingredients made it rich in flavour compared to a plain sandwich.

My other friend got a classic BLAT, which you can get with bacon or haloumi and she went with bacon ($13.50). You can also add a fried egg so it came to $15. I didn’t taste this but it does have a lot of rocket in it, so if you’re not a fan of rocket stray far away!

The service was very attentive and I enjoyed all aspects of the meal, which I feel I have found rare in my latest posts. The staff cleared our clean plates very soon after we were done but not with the feeling that they wanted us out. When we went to pay, the waiter who had been looking after us squeezed himself in front of the counter in front of his fellow staff member in order to sort out our bill swiftly.

Brother Alec is located at 719 High St, Thornbury and are open 7am-3.30pm on weekdays and 8am-3pm on weekends. Their Autumn menu from last year can be found here but they have a more up to date one for summer I think!

Brother Alec 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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