Friday, April 25, 2008

Chocolate Buddha @ Federation Square

Tonight I took the time out of work & study to have dinner with my siblings. We decided we wanted something close by and Asian. I don't know why but I can never get sick of eating Asian. Me and my sisters ruled out Italian right at the start in unison and I think it was probably due to the fact that we've had a little bit too much of Italy having had gone there for almost a month couple months back.

I made the bold choice and picked: Chocolate Buddha @ Fed Square. Having read up on this restaurant in the Good Food Guide and from talk of its stylish decor. We agreed to give this place a try.

Sushi Chef

It's pretty obvious how it got its name from - not something you would connect with to a Japanese restaurant. But upon entering the joint, you are greeted by a row of fat buddha figurines all aligned on the wall just beyond the communal tables. It was a busy night since it was Anzac Day, we could see massive crowds inside and outside the restaurant chowing while being entertained by a Anzac war film broadcasted on the big screen tv right in the middle of the square. We were seated almost straight away and was greeted by a paper menu which doubled as a table mat. Browsing through the menu, we were delighted to see many choices to choose from - noodles, rice, bento, sushi/sashimi and many Japanese appetisers. Over the page, a full drinks menu ranging from wines, to spirits, to imported beers and flavored teas were all available.

My sister Laura ordered the 'healthy' dish - Tofu Ankake(?), which was basically tofu simmered in ginger & soy cooked with chinese cabbage, carrots and mushrooms atop warm Japanese rice.

Tofu Ankake

My other sister, Chloe opted for the 'safe' option of Kare Tendon, which consisted of deep-fried panko-crusted ebi (prawns) doused with Japanese curry sauce, garnished with red peppers, mushrooms & onions. And as for me, being a bit more adventurous and garnering quite an appetite ordered the Miso Shiru (miso soup), Edamame (Soy Beans), Chef's Special: Seared Prawns with citrus dressing, Grilled eggplants and another Chef's Special of Beetroot & Mint Sushi.


Beetroot & Mint Sushi

Grilled Eggplants

Service was brisk at the start, but it waned down when the waitresses felt they had already catered to your orders. It was difficult to flag for attention, especially when most of the waitresses seemed to be hanging out back in the kitchen than on the floor. I couldn't help but overhear the couple next to us trying to order glasses of water, which the waitress seemed to brush off as if it wasn't her job to offer any in the first place. We received the same treatment when I ordered extra dishes of Salmon sushi, the grilled eggplants and the beetroot sushi. I would've imagined their willingness to serve since I was spending more money. Taste-wise, the food wasn't too bad - my sisters enjoyed their dishes. I felt my miso soup was a bit bland; the grilled eggplant was oily and had a slight 'numbing' taste to it, and the beetroot sushi a bit tasteless. But the seared prawns were definitely my favourite by far, though its price tag was the bigger attraction (3 banana prawns for $15) - sorry i finished the dish before remembering to take a foto of it! *my bad*.

In total, the whole dinner cost us (3 people) $108 including drinks.

But all in all, it was agreeably better than Wagamama though the service is still questionable. I have to add that when I got my change after paying for the meal, I was speaking to the couple sitting next to us, and can u believe it when the waitress took all the change thinking i left her a big tip? (There was about $45 there!) I felt that it was absurb that she had not ask me whether she could take the change, and the couple agreed. Goes to show the sort of attention they would only give to you - your money!

Chocolate Buddha
Federation Square
cnr Flinders & Swanston St,
Melbourne, Victoria
(03) 9654 9488

P.S. Sorry about the bad photos - had to resort to my sister's 2.0 megapixel camera phone.

Tomorrow Night (hopefully): Oyster Little Bourke! Will try to post up a review & pics!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Steamed bananas.......Mmm


Not much to report these couple of days, because I haven't been going out much due to being:
1. Swamped with assignments - 2 due next week, and another 2 due the week after!

Resulting in me having to....

2. Take a break off work for the next couple of days, which meant I had to be thrifty;

While at the same time....

3. Am forced to save up just enough to fund my birthday 'party' this weekend... dinner + cake + movie *GOSH!*

So basically, as much as I would love to go out, have fun and go indulge my tastebuds, my studies have taken over every aspect of my life. (It's interesting how they're all connected in some way or another.)

On a tastier note, my green plantain (or sugar/cooking) bananas which I bought a few weeks ago have ripened nicely and I was able to make them the way I always do back home in Malaysia - cooked in steam (dont know if that's a Malaysian thing or Chinese thing, but I read that people in Latin America have many uses for them - most of which of course are for consumption). This tastes fantastic when served in warm coconut milk & sago. Or even with ice cream and maple syrup. I personally like them on its own. *YUM*

Beautifully ripened plantain bananas

Blackened skin due to being cooked

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pacific BBQ Cafe, Lonsdale St

Hey foodies (or whoever out there who reads my page anyway),

I know I've been MIA for a bit again. Not entirely excusable, but I don't often have the time to go out to eat so it is quite a rare opportunity for me to blog about a cafe or a restaurant that I come across. And it so happens I was able to try out the new Pacific BBQ House on Lonsdale St (which Mellie reviewed about a week ago. It was a pity I did not bring along a camera, eventhough it was sorta my friend's bday. It wasn't anything big to start with, so it didn't cross my mind to take my camera with me. While waiting to be seated, I could see trays and trays of roast duck, roast pork and 'char siu' (bbq pork) get transported to & from the kitchen almost every 5 minutes. Then there were the waiters who were briskly serving up plates of roast meats, rice and a side of bakchoy to almost every table occupied.

As much as I know how much the roast meats are their speciality, I just wasn't feeling roasts that night so I opted for the very interesting Crocodile Meat in XO Sauce over rice ($12.80). Okay, now I have to say, the XO sauce didn't taste much like XO sauce to me....or maybe they didn't use the Lee Kum Kee brand that my tastebuds have grown accustomed to. It tasted a bit like 'har mai' (dried shrimps) mixed with oyster sauce and chopped chillies and garlic. Maybe that's what XO sauce is made of, but I would've favoured a bit more spice. But anyway, onto the crocodile meat...well...when u look at it, it does resemble fish fillets, only thinner. Taste-wise, there really isn't much to say about it. It doesn't taste fishy or chicken-y or any other meat-type categories you can think of, though the texture did remind me beef? Yeah, it felt pretty rubbery when I was chewing on it. I think at one stage I was even going to gag at a piece that wouldn't break after having gnawed on it for awhile. But don't get me wrong though, I'm not trying to criticise that crocodile meat is inedible. I'm just describing it as it is. It's probably not as tender as other game say, kangaroo, deer or ostrich meat but it is distinct in its own right. And for those who aren't afraid to try something new can and should get a taste of it at Pacific BBQ House. However, I would more likely recommend visiting the Richmond or South Yarra branches as they have more choices. This one though, has its own flair in serving very typical 'cha chan terng' hong kong cafe -type food, such as Roast Meats, Noodles (incl. Vermicelli, Egg, Macaroni, Instant (?!), Flat), Rice Dishes (incl. baked with cheese), Claypots and even Steaks to boot.

Pacific BBQ Cafe
213 Lonsdale Street,
Melbourne 3000
(03) 9663 9288

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Oriental Spoon, La Trobe St

I'm so glad to know I finally have some time to really rediscover the joys of dining out. My previous inhibitions were brought about by guilt from overeating and then there's my painstaking issues with cumbersome allergies. But I've come to realise that I can still enjoy food without crossing those boundaries. So to start off, I shall reestablish my title as a full-fledge flogger by providing an insight into a recent dining experience (it was just tonight, actually) I had at:

Oriental Spoon

Now, I've actually wanted to try this place for a long time now, but somehow or rather, my family & I always end up going back to Seoul House. Sure, Seoul House does Korean BBQ quite well. In fact, they actually have a very extensive menu and give out lots of various free accompaniments. But what made Oriental Spoon special i felt, was its client base - the young & hip. This place seemed to attract them like bees to honey. And the place is huge enough as it is, yet u can see countless people waiting near the entrance trying to get a seat.

Luckily for us, my sister had her friend book a table for us this afternoon. And slowly but surely, we drilled our way through the noisy crowd and onto our table. Since it was our first time there, we were sorta having trouble deciding what to order. But before we came, I did a little research into the restaurant through the reviews made by tummy rumbles a while ago on food recommendations. Based on what I recalled through their post, I made the decision to get the KimChi Pancake, Marinated Meat Set, Baby Octopus Bulgogi and Tofu Casserole. I knew more or less that these were safe bets of things to order. Unfortunately for me, I never expected them to turn out to be so HUGE!! It was too much food for the 4 of us - 3 girls + 1 guy! (And trust me, we are relatively large eaters!)

KimChi Pancake
(The last one left was mine. It was all gone before I could whip out my camera!)

Marinated Meat Set
(with two cute button mushrooms)

Tofu Casserole
(it's actually something like a spicy seafood & tofu soup)

Baby Octopus Bulgogi
(as u can tell, half of the dish is already gone...)

Overall, I would say that this place is within the same calbre of Seoul House in terms of flavor and choice. Taking note that the price ($110 for everything + 4 drinks) and service was unexpectedly better than the aforementioned. However, it's slightly rigid menu which did not allow us to order ox tongue (a favourite of ours) on its own, left us much to desire from.

Oriental Spoon,
Cnr Elizabeth St & (254) La Trobe St,
Melbourne 3000
(03) 9654 9930

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pot Luck @ Nadia's

Hey foodies,
It's been what...almost a year since I last blogged?!?! GOSH, time has flown so quickly. I mean, I was just so busy with my studies that I couldn't even find the time to enjoy all the great food this city has to offer. But nonetheless, I am bringing sexy back - with more pictures and hopefully, more surprises.
And to start it all off, just some pictures from a recent 'pot-luck' at a friend's house, which was exciting and fun as many of them have never "done one of these before".
I was a bit tied up with work and all, so I just ended up bringing salad (and little easter eggs and some lemon cookies from Italy *mmm*). But as u can see, others have made better attempts!

The Group

The Group (again)

Food Galore!

<3 align="left">

Note: I promise I will post up stories of my travels to Europe later on. So keep checking in soon!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Brioche by philip & Eugenie's French Cake Shop, Commercial Road

Payday can be a good thing AND a bad thing. The good thing is, I have money to spend on food and go out to eat; the bad thing is, I usually spend most of it almost too quickly. But enough said, I've always walked by this store (Brioche by philip) on Commercial Road but never had the opportunity to pop in and peruse their selection. The man (Philip Chiang) who owns it used to have a store right in Daimaru when it was still in Melbourne. Taking the chance that I've just got paid, I walked in and took note of the buns & breads they had on offer. An impressive range of buns, breads & pastries, all well-presented and definitely looked gourmet-y. Most of them generously portioned. A funny looking bread "Big Brioche" stood out, as it looked like a huge round bun with a pox growing on top of it (pardon my really bad metaphor). Other delights includes a smaller version brioche, almond croissant (i heard this is really good), read bean an pan, raisin loaf, orange loaf, blue cheese brioche, chocolate sourdough with hazelnuts and sour cherries, etc. Opting for a pick-me-up having had lunch just awhile before, I picked the red bean an pan ($1.50). The bun had freckles of grey sesame seeds, nicely scattered over its smooth shiny top. The top, though slightly toasted which gave it a brown tinge, was soft, while the bottom was stark white with a doughy texture. I don't know if that's how it meant to be, but it made me question the outcome. After getting home I decided to pop it into the oven to toast it a little. 5 minutes in, took it out and took a bite. It did taste better after being toasted - the top was crusty and the whole bun was warm. However, there were a few things about the bun that I couldn't decide whether it faulted. The bun was a bit salty and gave out a little bit of a 'meaty' smell (maybe it could've just been me?). The dough was thick which made the red bean filling scarce. And the red bean filling was also not very sweet. All in all, the presentation was well-done, but the overall taste is very disappointing. I would probably buy it if it was a meat bun. But I would never get myself to buy the bun again.

Red Bean An Pan

While waiting for the tram, I also spotted another cake shop/bakery (Eugenie's French Cake Shop) and popped in to grab something (anything!) Made a bold decision and went for something I wouldn't normally get - orange cake. Honestly, I was kind of attracted by the way it looked. When asking how much it was, was surprised to know that it was rather pricey ($5.50) since the cake was pretty small (palm-size). But I paid for it anyway, because when it comes to food, you can't really put a value to it, unless you know for sure that it's not worth paying for. But then again, that's subjective on each person's opinion. I felt it was sorta worth it because the cakes they sell are authentically French, though I have yet to have a taste of it (will do tonight!) Hopefully, this cake shop will leave me with more to desire from. And just to tantalise ur tastebuds ...

Orange Cake

Brioche by philip
208 Commercial Road,
Prahran (opposite Prahran market)
Tel: (03) 9525 1966.

Eugenie French Cake Shop
192 Commercial Rd,
Tel: (03) 9510 2415

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lazzat & Il Dolce Freddo & Brunetti, Lygon St

Missing home food can really kick the cravings in, so what better way then to seek out the next best option: asian takeaway. After doing some research online (and from faint memories), I decided to check out Boba Pearl, which serves authentic Singaporean/Hokkien food. Also, not to be missed are their delighful 'boba cha' (bubble teas), which I heard are way better than the bubble tea stalls in the city. After giving myself much reason to travel all the way to the other end from where I live, I trudged on to Lygon St while backing in the breezy Saturday afternoon. When I arrived at the address that I found online, I noticed that Boba Pearl had closed down! And in its place, a Thai restaurant called "The Original Thai Restaurant" was there. For a second there, I honestly thought I must've gotten the wrong address. But after checking & rechecking the shop number, there was no doubt that this Thai restaurant used to be Boba Pearl. While preusing the menu, I kept thinking to myself whether I was in the mood for some Thai food. And I was, but I knew if I were to have good Thai food, i'd get it next door at Ying Thai 2. But looking thru the glass windows of Ying Thai 2, it looked as if everyone had the same idea of eating there today. So being as hard-headed as I am, I decided to walk a little further in hope of finding an eatery serving some other Southeastern fare. And to my content, I spotted Lazzat (meaning "tasty").

A small but homey eatery serving Indonesian, Malaysian & Indian food. The menu was extensive enough with the usual suspects such as chicken rice, mee goreng, singapore noodles & laksa, plus some other interesting dishes like mee bandung, roti milo, pecel leleh (spicy fish), as well as the trusty alternative of picking out what you see you like from the bain-marie. You can be sure this place is authentic enough when you see that the huge table in the corner is filled with youngsters speaking in Malay or Indonesian; and the servers eat with their hands (traditional Malay way of eating). Since the bain-marie looked rather inviting, with many curry dishes to choose from, I made my pick of fish curry, lamb rendang and tofu, for only $6.50. ($5-$6 for takeaway) A bargain? I'd say so, considering the amount of food you're being given. The taste isn't too bad either. Actually, I'd say that this is probably one of the better bain-marie places if you were to compare this to other places that serve bain-marie (i.e. Nelayan in Glenferrie, Sophia's in Prahran, Indo Sari in Glenhuntly, etc) from the Cheap Eats/Foodies Guide.

The tofu (middle) was juicy having been drenched in the soupy sauce that tasted like laksa; the fish curry, which I assume is assam (left) was fragrant, spicy and sour as I'd remembered it to be back home; while the rendang (right) was tender though slightly chewy, and did not have that pungent 'lamb' smell at all. Paired with a nice packet of Teh Botol ($1), I couldn't have asked for a more satisfying meal, plus it's easy on your wallet too. A great place to have some quiet lone time, or when u're on a budget.

And what better way to cleanse the palate by stopping next door at Il Dolce Fredoo for gelato? My favourites: Mango, Pandan, Passionfruit, Tiramisu, Cookies & Cream, Lychee & Matcha (Green Tea) - $4 for 2 flavors. This is also the only place in the whole of Melbourne (the world?) that has durian gelato, not ice cream, gelato, AND jackfruit. So it's no wonder international students crowd around this store during the warmer days.

Yes, that is a quartered durian on top of the gelato at the top right corner and they had jackfruit too ! (bottom right)

My picks: Lychee & Pandan

And what would strolling along Lygon be without checking out Brunetti's? Got myself a slice of heaven of course ;) (Yes, I went for the WHOLE experience, minus the Italian food though)

From Brunetti

OMG, I can't start to gush about how decadent this cake is. At first I didn't think it would measure up to Brunetti's other cakes, since it was one of the less expensive ones, plus the fact that it was a generous portion. Since I'm not a chocolate person, there was only a limited amount of choices for me to choose from. As I browsed through the window display, I made sure I watched out for the more popular requests made by people over the counter. The cannoli as I noticed was one, and so were the chocolate type cakes. As I sauntered from one end to the other, I noticed a lonely cake sitting by itself, gleaming under the fluro light of the window display. It seemed to be calling out to me. Watching as there were others waiting behind me, I hastened to grab the waitress' attention that I wanted the Ricotta Strudel ($3.80). Obviously, in my mind I was still thinking whether I had made the right choice. It was risky, I know, coz sometimes a lone cake can be misleading. After paying for it, I made very sure I didn't destroy it as I made my way home. And after dinner that night, it was finally time to unwrap and unravel the delightful sight of my ricotta strudel.

Ricotta Strudel

As I couldn't resist, I grabbed a fork even before it reached the table, and took a bite out of the strudel. The strudel was better than I had hoped, way better. The pastry, though not crunchy, had a part soft, part chewy texture that matched well with the ricotta. It reminded me of Lattice biscuits, which by coincidence, are my favourite. The thin sugar glaze over the pastry that made it glisten was just right, without being too sweet but just enough to let u take in the pastry on its own. And the ricotta, how do I even start commenting about the cheese. It was like eating custard, only airier and had a stickier consistency. Though I admit it did taste a bit like a vanilla slice, but because of the light cheese and it didn't taste too sweet, it definitely didn't feel like I was having a coffee hub version. Another thing I liked about it was the fact that it didn't make me feel like it would do damage to my hips or thighs (haha), and when I had finished the cake, the only thing in my mind was, how much I'd love to go back and have another...
112 Lygon St,
Carlton VIC 3053
Tel: (03) 9639 5951

Il Dolce Freddo
116 Lygon St,
Carlton VIC
Tel: (03) 9639 3344

194 Faraday St,
Tel: (03) 9347 2801

Also at:
214 Flinders Lane,
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9663 8085