Tag Archives: soft shell crab

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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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Pabu Grill & Sake

Pabu Grill and Sake involves a Vietnamese person putting his modern twist on Japanese izakaya aka tapas dishes. With its dim decor, you could miss it on the underwhelming street of Smith St.

In fact, I thought it looked quiet, but upon stepping in, observed all the tables to be taken and only seats at the bar available. We did book, but the place isn’t entirely big and if it’s only two people, it’s easy to talk and share dishes at the bar. It’s not exactly the same bench as the bar, but a lower bench attached on the side so it’s not too bad.

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We were given menus and also briefed by a staff member about their restaurant’s special characteristics – unsurprisingly their sake and charcoal grilled skewers, as indicated by their name. Their menu is extensive, so it took us while to come up with a selection we were happy with. It was also my birthday, so it was an excuse to go all out! 

The first dish that we chose that seemed special was from the quick tapas menu, the gyu tataki, thin slices of seared porterhouse beef topped with roasted sesame, red ginger, wasabi mayo, spring onion and garlic ginger citrus soy ($14.50).

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It was thin and beautifully presented. The wasabi mayo didn’t have too much of a kick compared to normal wasabi, but still had just enough flavour to spice up the tastebuds – perfect for someone like me who can’t take wasabi.

I also ordered a cocktail, as sake by itself is a bit much for me, thus I ordered a sakurajima mojito ($14), which contained rice shochu and not sake. Shochu is apparently a bit stronger than sake. It was mixed with Barcadi, Sprite, sugar syrup along with lime pieces and mint leaves. I do lean towards drinks with mint as I enjoy the refreshing Asian flavour, but if you are a sake fan you can try a variety by ordering one of their sake tasting flights.

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Back to our meals, next up was the watani kani karaage aka the soft shell crab (below) served with spicy miso, chilli mayo and rocket salad ($11). My friend found this okay, but for some reason this seemed the right degree of crispiness for me and I love pairing it with chilli mayo so I really enjoyed it.

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From the seasonal specials menu we chose two items. Our appetites were drawn towards the ebi soba because the buckwheat noodles were served with two things we love, prawns and mushrooms tossed in garlic, butter and chilli soy ($16, below). This was tasty but not amazing enough to warrant the price tag for the portion, although we know that prawns will always bring up the price, $16 is still enough to buy a decent and more filling meal elsewhere.

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The other choice was the teriyaki chicken, grilled chicken thigh fillet with mash sweet potato served with creamy sweet soy on a hot plate ($16). As the description suggests, this is not your typical takeaway teriyaki chicken, and you can feel the modern influences from the owners shining through.

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The sauce was not the usual light brown sauce teriyaki sauce, but yellow and creamier, and this really seemed to work! The buttery and creamy sauce was so nice we tried to scoop as much as we can to drizzle on our rice and the sweet potato was a nice addition.

Of course, we had to try what they specialise in – charcoal grill. To try a variety, we chose the Pabu Sumiyaki Set ($16.50). This includes five skewers: tsukune (chicken ball), yakitori (chicken thigh), chilli inari kushi (bean curd), gyu kushi (beef) and buta kushi (pork belly).

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Unexpectedly, our favourite one was the non-meat skewer, the chilli bean curd (bottom skewer)! It had a little of a sweet, dark sauce and was sprinkled with chilli powder. This combination was excellent, the sauce was very flavoursome and the chilli just added a touch more excitement.

The chicken skewers came second, mainly due to their decoration of various sauces from teriyaki to chilli mayonnaise. Disappointingly, the ones we were looking forward to, the beef and pork belly, were too plain. They relied more on seasoning for their flavour, thus we only found them chewy and tasteless.

The plan was to order this set…in order to decide what skewers to order more of! And you guessed it – we ordered more of the chilli bean curd ($3.50 each). Eager to try more (or even the whole menu?) we also ordered the sake kushi, grilled salmon with salt, pepper and lemon ($4.50 each) AND the hotate, scallops wrapped in bacon with wasabi mayonnaise ($6 each, only two pieces on a skewer).

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The only problem with waiting for a second round of orders, was that somehow it got busy. I was surprised as I thought it was already busy before that, but it seemed our order found its way behind a large line of dockets. As a result, this left us to digest and we weren’t as hungry when we finally received the skewers. The chilli inari came sprinkled in a lot more chilli than the first time, so weak little me had to brush some off, but they were still as tasty as ever!

The salmon was ok but similarly to the way the beef and pork belly were presented, nothing amazing. Finally, the scallops were interesting and perhaps would be suited for bacon-lovers! Although maybe I would have enjoyed them more if I wasn’t so full.

All up, our experience at Pabu was nice and I really enjoyed some of their experimental flavours and the decor is nice for a place on Smith St. The downside to tapas is the price – some people think it’s nice to have small dishes, but if you have hungry appetites like me the bill will not be pretty.

I also think they may need to find a better way to cope when it gets busy in order to compete with other modern Japanese restaurants in Melbourne. It’s a nice place to visit for some Japanese with a difference, but maybe visit a bit earlier in the evening before they get busy for a decent meal!

Pabu Grill and Sake is open Mon – Thur 10am – 10pm, Friday 10am – late, Saturday 5pm – late and Sunday: 5pm – 10pm. It is located at 190 Smith St, Collingwood.

Pabu Grill & Sake on Urbanspoon

Top Paddock

In a bid to resist unnecessary purchases on Boxing Day, we ventured to Richmond instead to have unnecessary fancy brunch. I’ve heard lots of raving about Top Paddock yet I’ve always been dubious about visiting due to reviews talking about lack of service. But you never know unless you try, and service was not what disappointed me.

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Upon arrival, it was a good sign to see the place packed even on Boxing Day. It was quite large though, so we were seated easily but I hear that weekends have a bit of a wait time. I also enjoyed the homely and floral decor, the openness of the space making it feel akin to a greenhouse. The coffee section (above) was interestingly placed in the middle of the dining area and was separate to the register to pay for meals.

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We were seated right next to the coffee section, whilst this pretty, glowing view (above) greeted us on our other side. The service was swift, after being seated immediately it wasn’t long until our drinks orders were taken. One friend and I got iced coffees ($6, below). I found the ice cream tasted nice, more flavoursome than your regular vanilla scoop, yet the actual coffee a tad bland and diluted.

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For my meal, I was temped by everything from their big breakfast and pork belly dishes to the more experimental, “I don’t even know what that is but it sounds interesting” dishes. I gave in to the latter, having seen so many posts about this place’s interesting and successful dishes that I felt like I could not miss out.

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I chose the purple potato and buffalo ash brie omelette with padron peppers on sourdough, with added chorizo ($3), so it came to $20. The purple potato was not sweet potato as we assumed, but it seemed potato coloured purple. Meanwhile, we discovered the ash brie to be a type of cheese similar to goat’s cheese, which was what they used in the omelette previously.

I really wanted to like it, but I felt the potatoes placed on top for aesthetics did not work that well compared to say, Spanish omelettes where the potato is found inside. The chorizo was too salty, so in addition to the ash brie, the entire dish was too salty for my liking. Nevertheless, it wasn’t horrible and being hungry, I finished the meal.

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My friend chose the ricotta hotcakes with seasonal fruits, which included berries and strawberries, and marscapone ($17). It was nice, sweet and fluffy, or as she put it, like eating a giant muffin.

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After hearing about the soft shell crab burger ($21), my friend ordered this as she really enjoyed the one at Hammer and Tong. It was good and buttery but we felt the one at Hammer and Tong to be richer and tastier with more mayonnaise. It was also cheaper at $16, although a little smaller than this one. However one of my other friends present had a different experience at H&T, saying that the burger there was so salty she could hardly taste the crab, which just goes to show how different people’s experiences can be.

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Sometimes I wonder whether some places disappoint me because I’ve visited on a public holiday, when premium staff members may be on break, or because I come with too high expectations from the hype. It wasn’t as great as I expected and I probably won’t be back.

The decor was pretty and inventive, I especially enjoyed the street sign chairs (above), which are quite representative of signs in the inner suburbs. The teacup lights reminded me of the ones at Three Bags Full and then I realised Top Paddock is brought to us by the same (original) owners of Three Bags Full.

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The service as mentioned earlier was attentive and not at all slow, but I wouldn’t promise this on the weekends. However one waiter did clear my friend’s drink without asking her if she was done, and she had a bit left.

Lots of people have had more positive experiences but unfortunately not me. I was glad we managed to try it when it wasn’t during peak hour on the weekends, yet I thought this would mean more time and attention for our food. The food came out quickly and all at once, but the tastes unfortunately did not satisfy.

Top Paddock is open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm and 8am-4pm on the weekends. See their December 2013 menu here (it’s a bit outdated from the one we saw on Boxing Day which had slight variations.)

Top Paddock on Urbanspoon