Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Din Tai Fung - Shanghai XinTianDi

I was sent to Shanghai, the land of  XLB for a week. I was expecting to find XLB everywhere and I wasn't disappointed. Ironically when I asked the locals, what they would call the best XLB in Shanghai, they named a Taiwanese chain. I have been to Din Tai Fung in a number of countries/cities and I tend to walk out quite satisfied.

When I was exploring and stumbled across it, I found myself sitting down and happily ordering in a number of minutes. The one thing that really sucks when you are travelling/eating alone, is you are limited in choices when you dine. Anyway, the inner glutton in me took over and I still ordered more than I could finish.


Green beans with mince meat. This was actually served as a cold dish, I was slightly surprised as I am use to this being a hot dish. Crispy green beans and tasty mince meat, only down side was the level of oiliness. 

With the XLB I thought I would go all out and get the crab roe with pork. This was delicate and had a lovely crab sweetness laced with the pork. The soup within the XLB was warm but not so hot that it would burn your tongue. Together with the ginger/vinegar dipping sauce, it made a very satisfying dinner.

Glutenous rice, pork shao mai was an interesting twist of the shao mai that I am familiar with. The glutenous rice made it a filling dish and pork was slightly overshadowed by the rice.

Overall 17.5/20 It was definitely a good meal and the waitress had a higher level of English and service skills than the average in Shanghai. The XLB was definitely one of the better ones that I tasted in Shanghai, however I still think the Din Tai Fung in Hong Kong still ranks at number in my eyes.

Super Bowl Pho & Bun Bo Hue

So this is one of the newest additions in Victoria Street. It's not exactly a food challenge but there is the novelty of a Super large bowl of pho or bun bo hue.

I went with a colleague for lunch but we weren't adventurous/hungry enough to try the superbowl so we just went with the usual size. I got the slice beef pho with no onions and "A" got the bun bo hue.

The pho has a good soup base and was quite generous with their beef slices. The beef was very thinly cut so it cooked once in contact with the soup. 



"A" described it as a well balanced mixture of spiciness and sourness and something he would crave on a cold rainy Melbourne day. I was very tempted to try the bun bo hue too, but since I was sick as a dog, so I refrained from spreading my germs.



Overall 12.5/20, it's a good feed in a relatively clean environment for Victoria Street standards. Sadly to say, non-Asian people do get priority for service. We were clearly ignored a few times when another fellow non-Asian table who put their hand up after us, asked for service.

Super Bowl Pho & Bun Bo Hue on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mamak

Finished work late and needed a cheap feed. I've been to Mamak in Sydney many times and thought it was time to finally try the one in Melbourne.

At 8.30pm on a Friday, the wait wasn't too bad. We managed to get a seat without waiting too long.

Between D and myself we got the roti chanai, maggie goreng and roti planta. 

Roti chanai came as a big fluffy ball, it was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I am not sure if it was because I was so hungry but the serving size felt quite small compared to how I remember it from Sydney. The curry was a bit hot but I like it with a kick, I can see it being too spicy for people who cannot take their spices

Roti planta was quite heavy but very buttery on the inside. It went very well with the dhal and a bit of sambal.

The maggie goreng really hit the spot in my hungry belly that night. Hot wok tossed with fish cake, prawns, eggs and maggie noodle. Just wish they didn't give me a dried up lime and I could have actually squeezed some lime juice on to the noodles


Milo ice and teh tarek is a must have. A bit of milky tea or milo to wash down all that spice and curry.

Overall 14.5/20. It is the perfect, cheap and fast feed.

  Mamak on Urbanspoon

ABC Chicken

I have been told by my Korean friend M, many times that this is the best Korean fried chicken in Melbourne. So finally last night I went to try it with a few friends. Located on the west side of the CBD, it was easy to find as it was right on the corner of Queen and Abeckett.

When I walked in, it felt like I was in Seoul again, the layout was a combination of modern, cute cartoon words and a slightly warehouse feeling. I could smell the sweetness of the sauces at the door, this made me pretty excited. As I said in my previous post, Gami is my favorite but I am always up to see if there is better out there.

The menu gave a varitey of options for fried chicken flavors.


We tried the soy garlic and the sweet chilli. Both the chickens came heavily battered with generous amounts of sauce covering it. The soy garlic had a strong garlic flavour with just the right amount of stickiness. The sweet chilli wasn't exactly sweet. It was pretty spicy even though we ordered mild, but I have a feeling that the waitress didn't put the order through as mild, as her English ability was limited.

Corn cheese is always a must for me, when I get KFC. This corn cheese have very little close to no mayo so it's not as sweet. There was a very generous amount of cheese so when it was hot, it was stringy and cheesy. However, the cheese solidified pretty quickly and wasn't as good anymore.

The boneless sweet chilli chicken with cheese was the highlight out of all the dishes for me. Popcorn chicken bite size with generous amounts of cheese.

Seafood pancake was very quite and had heaps of calamari in the centre. 

Overall 14.5/20 I love the innovation and variety offered. Only disappointment was the cheese corn but that's only a small factor that can be easily rectified.



ABC Chicken on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Takumi

Takumi prides itself in being a waygu expert. They offer a Japanese styled BBQ as well as a range of yakitori and a la carte menu.

We went for the all you can eat waygu BBQ. You get an 1.5 hours to eat as much waygu, ox tongue, salad, vegetable, miso soup and rice. Instead of adding $15 per person, we also order an extra plate of seafood.




The waygu is a decent grade and you can easily cook through 1 plate easily. Very clear marble on the meat.

For those who like something with a little less chew, the ox tongue is great if you just sear it. Make sure you don't overcook it.

You can a salad with sesame dressing a plate of vegetables to keep you going when you don't feel like anymore meat.


They call last order when you are 1 hour into your session.

I read quite a few reviews saying that the service was bad, but we found it quite the opposite. The manager was very friendly and even reminded us that if we dine with 5 people in the future, that we can ask a friend along because the 6th person is free, even with et card.


Overall 14.5/20. It's a bit pricy but if you can eat enough waygu, then it's worth it.

Sorry this post is a bit shorter compared to normal. It's a bit difficult to judge the cooking, when you are cooking it yourself.

Takumi on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 7, 2014

Gami

For those of you who don't know me, I am actually a really big fan of Korean food and in particular, Korean Fried Chicken (KFC). D and I actually went to Seoul a few years back, and searched high and low for the best fried chicken. So, as you can tell, we are quite dedicated. 

Gami was one of the first shops in Melbourne to offer Korean fried chicken and still a place I visit when I get a craving (yes I do get weird cravings). D took me here for date night and I couldn't have been happier (yes, I am all class! Give me fried chicken and I am over the moon!) =P

Gami is a fried chicken and beer shop, so don't come here expecting KBBQ, bibimbap or bulgogi. They have 2 shops on either of the CBD, one on Little Lonsdale towards Spring and another on Healey's Lane near the courts. I generally go to Healey's Lane, as I find it easier to find parking and get a table.


Gami offers a range of different flavours for their fried chicken but my favorite is the sweet soy garlic. The crispy, battered coating is a well balanced garlic soy with just that touch of sweetness. It's finger licking good.

For those who don't like the stickiness, they also offer original which doesn't have a flavoured glaze on top. For others who want something with just a small kick, there is the sweet chilli flavored fried chicken. Though I still think the sweet soy garlic is the best.

Kimchi pancake or seafood pancake: that is something I always struggle choosing. This is a reason why I always try to come as a small group (hehe). This time I went with the kimchi pancake, it wasn't too oily and had ample kimchi in the centre. The only downside was the sauce, far too salty to match the pancake.

Cheese and corn. This is exactly as the name states, CHEESE and CORN..... ok well maybe a bit of mayo too. Something so simple but so good. This is one of the reasons why I always go back to Gami. I have had other cheese corn before but I still think Gami does it the best.

I am normally not a beer drinker but for some reason, when there is KFC, I would reach for beer. However I make it a tad girly by mixing Sprite with it. For those non beer drinkers out there, I would recommend you try the beer/sprite combo with your fried chicken.

Overall 16.5/20 I really like Gami's style and the consistency in their fried chicken. I know some people argue that Kass Kass, ABC and Chimac have better chicken, but Gami has a soft spot in my stomach (heart). I know I will always get what I'm after when I come here, with the crispy chicken and cheese corn to be exactly what I expect it to be. If you haven't tried it before, I definitely recommend it. It's not too expensive and if you grab a few friends, who doesn't like hanging out while feeding on fried chicken and beer?


  Gami at Healeys Lane on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I ♥ Pho 264

If you have ever been to Victoria St in Richmond, you will notice there is an abundance of choice for Vietnamese food. Pho is probably the most well known and popular choice for a lot of people when having Vietnamese dining.


It's not my first time at I ♥ Pho, as it's D's parent's favourite Pho shop on Victoria Street. So when work suggested pho for lunch we naturally gravitated towards it.

I got the fresh beef and beef ball. My colleague A went with the beef special and S went with chicken special noodle soup.

I am not a fan or spring onions so my bowl did not look as colourful as the other 2. When I started eatting, I was disappointed, the soup was not hot enough and the beef was just not fresh. I use to love coming here but it just felt like it's gone downhill. The soup was not as fragrant as it use to be and more just like bland MSG chicken broth. It was just an average bowl of beef soup noodle.

As A was eating his beef special, he mentioned that he was of the same opnion about it not being as good as it use to be.

S had a slight more interesting one. His bowl was not your typical pho, but more vermicelli with chicken, and he seemed to like his, though he did comment that he generally prefers more westernized Vietnamese food.

Finally being the pig that I am, I order prawn springrolls to share. They were fried to a nice golden brown colour with a crisp skin and hot prawn filling. They aren't as good as Indochine's prawn springroll or the ones that O's mum makes, but if I was presented with a plate of these in front of me, I would still clear the plate. (I think I might be turning into a Vietnamese food snob, went to O's wedding on the weekend and I was showered in heaps of yummy home made Vietnamese dishes)

Overall 11/20. Maybe because I have visited this place so many times, but I felt that it didn't live up to my expectations. Not saying the pho was bad, just very average. Guess I'll be going back to Indochine more now, or I just need to visit O's house more often for her mum's cooking. But for what you pay and if you aren't overly picky with your pho, it probably is still one of the better choices on Victoria St.


P.S, I am not sure if it's because of my weak stomach, I did get sick after that meal. S & A were both fine.

I Love Pho 264 on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Maedaya

Walk into Maedaya and you will immediately be hit with the strong smell of BBQ grill smoke that will be sure to set your stomach growling with hunger.

Maedaya specialises in Sake and Grill skewers, so I wouldn't recommend bringing your vegetarian date. 

On this visit, I was fortunate enough to be part of a big group who let me go nuts on the menu and order as much variety as I wanted.

It was actually my good friend KH's birthday that night too and Maedaya does a few birthday specials. We opted for the sushi cake. It looked exactly like a cake, sparklers and all; but it was made up of rice, salmon, tuna, avocado, mayo... it was basically just a giant piece of sushi (sans seaweed). It was equal parts visually delightful and delicious. It made for a really filling start to the meal, but definitely no complaints on our part!

We ordered the following dishes along with a couple of bottles of sake - excuse some of the blurry photos...I already had a few shots of sake by the time the food came out!

The Mixed Sashimi Platter. Super fresh fish, but it was cut slightly too thick. Awesome kingfish too!

The Nasi Dengaku, which is eggplant served in an inari pocket. Really nice chunks of eggplant doused in sweet miso sauce. (sorry - no photo for this one. It was far too blurry.)

Chicken ball skewers. Chicken was nice and tender but out of the five flavours I kept going back for the spicy mayo chicken balls. The black sesame was also really tasty.

Chilli Edmame. I think I prefer the normal salted Edamame over this variation. The Renkon chips were nice and crispy.

The Salmon Salad was the highlight for me. I loved the tangy sesame dressing that was generously drizzled over loads of green salad leaves, fresh salmon and tuna. This is something I will definitely order again, on my next visit.

Pork gyoza had a thin and crispy skin with juicy filling. I wish I had ordered a second plate!

Sumiyaki Mixed Grill Platter. This had a selection of pork, beef and chicken skewers. I would highly recommend getting your hands on the pork ones first if you are sharing!

Finally, the Japanese fried rice was a good filler in between.

Overall 16.5/20. The food wasn't too expensive and there were lots of lovely surprises along the way. The creativity with the sushi cake and the beautiful salad really topped the experience off for me. I am eager to go back and try more of their menu. I also loved their large selection of sake!




Maedaya on Urbanspoon