hofbräuhaus

My husband one day came up with the idea of finding the best schnitzel in town. He, after some research came up with hofbräuhaus in Market Lane.

I was surprised!

Who would ever imagine a German restaurant inside a quite alley in China Town??

We both headed there for dinner on a Friday night. Ordered a schnitzel, beer and some starters.

Few months later we visited again. This time we ordered pork knuckle and beers.

The summary!

1. Schweinshax’n (4.5/5)

Bavarian pickled roasted pork knuckle, sauerkraut and mashed potato served with haus-made pork jus and Bavarian mustard.

A generous portion of perfectly roasted pork enough for 4 to share. A well balanced combo. The sauerkraut perfectly cuts through the heaviness of meat in this dish.

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2. Hähnchenschnitzel (4.5/5)

Viennese style freshly crumbed marinated chicken breast  served with creamy forest mushroom sauce, chips and side salad

This too is a very generous portion. Evenly crumbed, crisp and still maintained the softness and juiciness of meat.

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3. Aubergine Pommes (3.5/5)

Crispy eggplant chips coated in polenta, served with mayonnaise

Crispy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. I lost interest in them after 2 pieces. There isn’t anything in this combination that pursue your taste buds to take the next bite. A recipe executed well but failed to impress.

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The generous portions and a good selection of beers might be the reason for this place to be a favourite among large groups. The friendly staff here dress up in Bavarian costumes. I know nothing about Bavarian cuisine but I enjoyed the ambience and buzz of this place!

hofbräuhaus, I am glad I found you!

 

 

 

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La Camera

It is never easy to pick a restaurant when you are spoiled for choice.

I ask the obvious question, what do you like to have?

But this time its Kyle’s turn to answer. Because he is the Birthday boy! He doesn’t mind the food but all he cares about is the view. Pragnya recollects a suggestion from her friend and googles images of La Camera. All three of us are pretty pleased with the menu and location. We go ahead and make a reservation.

 


Birthday Dinner

1. SPAGHETTI ALLA PUTTANESCA (3.5/5)

Garlic, chilli, semi-dried tomatoes, olives and basil. Pretty bland!

pasta

2. VERDURE (4/5)

Sautéed greens in garlic and olive oil. Retained colour and crunchiness. Just enough garlic and salt. It gave me a healthy feel 😀

saueted greens

3. SPACCATELLE CON GUANCIALE DI MANZO (4/5)

Pasta stirred in tender beef cheek, root veggies and mushroom ragu. Couldn’t spot mushroom and veggies but there was a balance of taste and flavours.

beef pasta

4. ENTRECOTE 300 gr with Salad (3.5/5)

Eye fillet because scotch fillet got sold out!

eye fillet

5. RISOTTO AI FRUTTI DI MARE (4/5)

Risotto of scallop, calamari, fresh mussels, squid, fresh herbs, onion and garlic cooked in a saffron seafood broth and topped with grilled Australian prawns.

Strong ocean taste!

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6. POLLETTO RUSPANTE (4/5)

Free range half chicken from Hazeldene’s, Bendigo VIC cooked sou vide with light herbs and spices to enhance the natural flavours, simply served in its own juice and braised lentils.

Beautiful tender meat!

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7. BRASATO DI AGNELLO (4.5/5)

Slow cooked lamb with root vegetables, tomato and white wine with a hint of sage, topped with toasted breadcrumb then served with braised kale and olive oil.

Perfectly cooked tender and juicy lamb. Well balanced gravy. The crunch of kale and bread crumbs elevates this dish to the next level. A must try!

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8. Pavlova (4/5)

Pretty plating. Light crisp crust and a soft inside meringue placed on a cream base. Decorated with fruits and edible flowers. A complete treat to the eye!

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9. Tarte Au Citron (4/5)

Vanilla tart shell piped with zesty lemon curd, smooth meringue & a praline choux pastry.

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10. Heaven For Two – Chocolate Ecstasy (3/5)

Warm triple chocolate brownie, served with vanilla and noughat ice-cream, fresh cream, summer berries, butterscotch snap and Dulce de Leche.

Really huge portion to make you sugar high. The tube like crisp and sweet thingy you can spot here left a grainy after taste. The brownies had a brick like texture, too hard to bite!

 

 

It was a beautiful night with so much fun and laughter. Wishing many more of such happiness and joy in all the many years to come, Happy Birthday Kyle!

 

Pok Pok Junior

 

Pad Thai is one of my recent favourites.

I love the sweet, sour and slightly hot nature of the sauce that coats the not so thick strands of the rice noodles. The freshness of coriander leaves and the crunchiness of bean sprouts. Some broken roasted peanuts to give a nutty twist. Squeeze a wedge of lemon on a warm plate of it and there you go! yuuuummm….

My first introduction to Pad Thai was by my friend Sreelakshmi. She came home one evening with a bottle of fish sauce and a printed recipe. Even though the recipe demanded rice noodles we substituted it with the readily available egg noodle. Being not so sure about the actual taste of Pad Thai, we adjusted the quantity of ingredients to suit our palate. I think we ended up making noodles instead of pad thai 😀

Years later I moved to Melbourne and got to taste the real Pad Thai. The taste slightly varies in each restaurant may be because they use their own style of sauce. If I ever visit a Thai place, I always end up ordering Pad Thai and so did last Tuesday.

Pok Pok Jr on Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD was the closest option for a quick lunch. They claim to serve hawker style thai street food that tastes like it was made in Bangkok.

Dishes ordered

  1. Chicken Pad Thai  (2.5/5)Pad ThaiThe sauce wasn’t good enough and was too little to adequately coat the noodles. It lacked the slight hit of chilli which if was there would have made me crave the next bite. It was good enough to settle my appetite but I wouldn’t say its the best available in town.
  2. Thai Green Curry with Vegetables (3.5/5)Thai Green Curry with riceCooked vegetables retained their crunch and colour. A slightly sweet and hot creamy curry.
  3. Khao mok gai (Muslim chicken rice with tumeric spiced rice, green chilli & ginger relish)  (3.5/5)img_8367-e1524102472636.jpgSlightly sweet and spicy but not hot at all! Chicken was well cooked, the fried onions added some crunch and the sweet ginger sauce complemented it well. The rice could be less sweet though!
  4. Bangkok Street Noodle (3/5)img_8362.jpgPorchetta pork, pork crackling, dried shrimp, tofu, shitake mushrooms, five spice, fried shallots & sticky chilli soy! It turned out too sweet!!

All the dishes had a tinge of sweetness to it. Some were really sweet while others were mildly sweet.

Is this how Hawker style Thai street food tastes like? I am not sure!

Akasaka Umaya Shinjukku

It was my last night in Tokyo and I lay tired in my bed around 10 at night. I make a call to the reception to order some food from the restaurant downstairs. The receptionist was very sweet. In her sweetest and most polite way possible informed me that the hotel does not provide room service and the restaurant will close in 30 minutes.

I had to rush.

I got 5 minutes to checkout a Japanese menu with English translations. And here is  what I ordered.

  1. Sake ( Japanese rice wine ) – I am not a wine expert and so I can not comment much on that. All I can say is it tasted good and went well with the dishes I ordered.
  2. Karashi Renkon  ( Japanese mustard filled lotus roots fried )  – It has a very strong burning spicy taste that is strong enough to shoot through your nose. The lotus roots were crispy. I will never try it again!
  3. Hakata Hot Pot – Motsunabe ( Stew made with pork/beef intenstines ) – I never knew what I ate until I googled it for this blog entry. I was totally sold just by its picture on the menu. It was so flavourful and tasty that I slurped even the last drop.
  4. Assorted Pickles  – Japanese style pickled carrot, cucumber, radish and some sea weed. Crunchy, sweet and sour.
  5. Caramel Pudding – I can never end a meal without something sweet. Caramel pudding is my latest love among puddings. People apply different cooking methods to prepare it. You can bake it in a water bath, steam it or add a gelling agent and allow to cool. Not sure how the one I had was made. It was smooth, mildly sweet and totally my kind of dessert!

Japanese Food Goals

I lived long twenty years of my life negligent about the Country of Japan.

I came across Hiroshima and Nagasaki during History lessons. But it only painted a very sad picture in my mind, strong enough to disturb my thoughts as a child.

It was my Dad who totally changed my perception about Japan. He happened to introduce me movies of Akira Kurosawa – A Japanese film maker during my early twenties. The scenery of Japan from his movies got inked in me. A sudden interest in Japan sprung up and over the years it grew strong, spread its roots deep down in my heart.

I explored Japanese cuisine. Read books of Japanese authors. I watched a lot of documentaries and travel blogs on Japan. But to really know it, you should live it.

And I did! I visited Tokyo for less than a week,  roamed around the busy streets a bit and climbed the iconic Mt. Fuji. I also got to taste some of the incredible foods on the entire planet! I went with a list of food items to try but I could not cross off all. Sharing the few I tried.

  1. Katsu curry rice  – Crumb fried pork cutlets with Japanese curry over rice. Served with shredded cabbage salad. A must try! IMG_6083.jpg
  2. Tempura set meal – Batter fried vegetables over rice. A bowl of udon (thick wheat flour noodles). Stir fried spinach garnished with bonito flakes (katsuobushi – dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna). Soft boiled eggIMG_6080.jpg
  3. Potato sticks – Deep fried potato chips with Garlic mayo.  Nothing special. Bought them just because of their shape.  IMG_6124.jpg
  4. A set meal – A bowl of rice. Grilled mackerel with lime and grated radish. Egg plant stir fried with pork. Silk tofu. A bowl of miso soup and some pickles. This meal had too many dishes that I struggled to get them in one single frame!  IMG_6119.jpg
  5. Chicken Yakitori – Japanese style skewered chicken. Served with some cabbage and spring onions. IMG_6117.jpg
  6. Gyoza – Dumplings filled with pork meat served with soy sauce.IMG_6118.jpg
  7. Rainbow cotton candy  – I did this out of nostalgia. A huge colourful cotton candy is like living a dream. I should admit that I couldn’t finish it though!IMG_5985.jpg
  8. Soba – Japanese buckwheat noodles served with vegetable tempura, fried tofu and some wild vegetables in a flavourful broth. I licked the bowl clean! The most satisfying meal I have ever had! This was my first meal after I descended Mt. Fuji! No wonder this was the best! ( This is all in your head :p )IMG_6116.jpg
  9. French toast with fruits – To be honest it doesn’t taste exceptional. Its a normal french toast but done well and presented well. The fruits were fresh and ideal for a healthy breakfast.IMG_5995.jpg
  10. Karaage rice bowl – Deep fried chicken on rice with cabbage salad and mayo. Served with some complementary tea, pickles and sauces.IMG_5824.jpg
  11. Cream filled Doughnuts – I found them on Takeshita street when I decided to find shelter from rain. I joined a very long queue and ended up in front of these and some ice – creams. Without a second thought, I ordered one. Crispy outer shell and on each bite the gooey custard just explodes in your mouth.

     

  12. Baumkuchen – (Tree cake) It is a German style of cake popular in Japan. The layered cake resembles a tree bark. I had it for breakfast with a cheese toast and soy milk tea. IMG_5754.jpg
  13. Melonpan – Last but not the least. Japanese sweet buns with a crispy cookie crust. They are soft at the same time crispy. I ate those lots! IMG_5788.jpg

Everything I ate in Japan maintained a high level of quality. No matter from where you ate, food always turned out fantastic.

Thank you JAPAN for keeping my respect and belief for you and your people intact.   Until we meet again for the next Hanami (Cherry blossom festival)

ありがとうございました  ( Thank you)   &  またね  (Bye, see you later) 

,

 

Mong’s Kitchen

If you ask me what would make me happy on my birthday without a second thought I would say a grand feast for lunch. Because that’s the way I am brought up. Birthdays bring me fond memories of my mom feeding me the best hand crafted delicacies that perfectly suit my palate. More than ten curries with Kerala’s brown rice and two types of dessert served on a freshly cut banana leaf is a divine experience especially when served by the one who brought you to this world!

But on birthdays in Melbourne especially when mom is not around, I never even dream of having a birthday feast. Instead, having dinner with friends on my birthday is something that I look forward to. This year just like the previous year we all gathered around a dinner table. Infact I was very much happy to see the numbers increase as years pass ❤

It was my choice to dine at Mong’s Kitchen. My friend and colleague Pragnya always spoke highly of their kimchi pancakes. I did make an attempt to try it out once but unfortunately they were closed on that day.  A perfect crispy pancake would be an unforgettable  experience especially on a birthday!

So here goes the birthday dinner menu:

  1. Edamame seasoned with chilli  : The previous day I watched John’s ( OnlyinJapan YouTube channel) video on Edamame so it was a natural instinct to try edamame at different places 😛 They tasted pretty good.
  2.  Korean rice cake seasoned with Korean style chilli sauce : Ellen (My colleague turned friend) planted in me an interest to try this out during one of our conversations on food. I guess they are made of sticky rice. They are very chewy. I like its feel in the mouth and the sweet and sour sauce.
  3. Kimchi pancake : Of course that’s what I am here for! Crispy and flavourful. Loved every bite of it ❤
  4. Prawn dumplings : I personally didn’t try it! I am allergic to prawns. What a shame 😦 Few minutes after it arrived, none was left on plate. I think that needs no further explanation.
  5. Vegetables Bibimbab : Served on a hot stone bowl. Vegetables and rice topped with a perfectly fried egg.
  6. Chicken Bulgogi : Tender and juicy chicken pieces stir fried in Korean sauces.
  7. Korean fried chicken : Crisp and juicy at the same time.

 

 

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The star of the day! Kimchi Pancake ❤

 

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I was pretty happy with what I was served.

The hot stone bowls in which the Bibimbaps were served really made an impression. It added a crispy crust to the last grains of rice at the bottom of my bowl. It took me back to a childhood memory of me waiting for the Upma (a savoury semolina dish usually made for breakfast in South India) crusts that would stick to the bottom of a thick Iron skillet.

The place wasn’t crowded on the day we visited. It gave me a relaxed feeling and presented itself as a place where I would like to sit back and enjoy a nice meal. Not all birthdays are the same. The memories each bring are to be treasured and to be grateful for having a life that is worth living. On this birthday my search for Korean pancakes has come to a savoury end.

YES! This is indeed the right place for a crispy yummy KIMCHI PANCAKE ❤

 

Big Boy BBQ

I am not a fan of Burgers.

I think I am not against burgers but I am against the size of burgers. Don’t know if it’s a blessing or curse,  I have comparatively a smaller mouth opening! And it totally ruins my burger experience.

A burger is a careful compilation. A stack of complementary flavours. In each bite  you are supposed to get a little bit of everything in the stack. Only then you get to enjoy the jolly ride starting from the soft burger buns to a juicy patty via greens and fresh-cut or pickled veggies along side a melted cheese road. (A very common stacking pattern!)

For the above mentioned reason, I totally avoid burger places to the best of my ability. If at all I happened to step into one, I make sure to ask for cutlery along with my order just to avoid embarrassment while eating. ( There had been a couple of burger joint visits in the past where I would unwrap a burger to its individual components and devour them individually) So I hope you understand how I fail miserably in tasting a burger to its fullest.

Last week  on a rainy afternoon I walked through the Hardware lane in the CBD along with two of my colleagues(turned friends) hoping to grab a quick-lunch. Big Boy was unanimously chosen as the Japanese place we aimed at was closed for no reason. The place might be great to try out BBQ as the menu had a handful of good choices for it. But in spite of it all three of us ordered burgers.

The burgers we ordered:

  • Aussie chicken burger: Juicy meat. Soft bun. But the sour taste from the sauce overpowered rest of the flavours.
  • The 2 meat burger:  A generous portion of two types of meat (chicken and lamb)
  • The zee man burger: The fried onions did really make a difference.
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Zee man burger

The overall experiecne was good except for my choice of burger. But I am very much convinced that this place has something more to offer than just burgers. So I in the near future will make sometime to visit this place again for a smoked BBQ.

Unitl then its a good bye Big Boy!

 

Suda

In recent years, I have noticed a trend where restaurants add the word ‘Modern’ to the cuisine they serve and I must whole heartedly agree that I am a huge fan of such endeavours. Because according to me, the moment you add ‘Modern’ to a cuisine, it wide opens the door to creativity. It gives the liberty to improvise, experiment and invent your own interpretations of a cuisine.

When visiting restaurants of these kind I do not expect authenticity of a traditional dish. I am there with the excitement and joy of a ten year old who is waiting to unbox a birthday gift. All that I expect is a surprise! A huge surprise!

On 13th July , almost around 1 in the afternoon, I eagerly waited for that surprise with a couple of my colleagues (turned friends) at SUDA – A modern Korean eatery. The place has its own character. The lighting, black board with some cute drawings and above all what really caught my eye was a small book shelf in one of its corners. The wait did not last long, the items we ordered arrived. Most of us had ordered the School lunch tray – rice with various side dishes! I have no clue how school lunches are served in Korea or a lunch in general to make a comparison.

IMG_5413My lunch tray had

 

  • a portion of rice
  • spicy chicken
  • salad greens
  • rolled omelette
  • crispy fried dumplings with sweet chilli sauce
  • lotus root chips with chilli mayo (ordered separate)

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All that I can say is that I loved every bite of it ❤

A totally satisfying meal. There was simplicity and colourfulness in the presentation along with a balance of various tastes and textures. Do they really do justice to the word modern is a question up for debate but who wants to debate when your belly as well as your heart is content ?

Queen Victoria Night Market

Almost every Saturday I try not to miss my alarm because I very much look forward to be at The Queen Victoria Market before rush hours. The market opens at 6.a.m, so if you manage to wake up early and be there by 8ish you are safe! I usually reach by 8:30, grab a warm Borek or Golzeme for breakfast, then head to the stalls for shopping while enjoying my breakfast. It does not take me more than an hour or so to sort out everything that I would require for a week or twos cooking. But if I am late the story is different! So rise and shine 🙂 ( I learnt it the hard way!)

The one and only thing that brings me back here every saturday is its variety. The variety of choices that no supermarket in the city can provide. Be it any cuisine you choose to find ingredients for, I am sure QVM won’t dissapoint you.

She is indeed the Queen of all markets!! ❤

Not only she serves as a fresh produce paradise for culinary enthusiasts and home cooks, she also hosts the much happening night market in winters and summers. As Melbourne is experiencing winter now, the Winter market is on every Wednesday. Last Wednesday I got a sneak peak of the fun and food here. The lighting, the aroma of meat grills, live music and the carnival atmosphere is totally a new world. A total transformation from what you see on a usual market morning. There are a wide variety of grills, mulled wine, beer,soups and what not! Here too QVM surprises me (equally confuses me) with the variety of choices. The golden rule of being early applies here as well. The queues to order at popular stalls are indeed very long.

Tried:

 

  • Fried bread ( Nepalese ) : Mildly sweet, deep fried. A good snack with a hot cup of Indian milk tea.
  • Lentil soup in a bread bowl (Soup factory) : A generous amount of yumminess.
  • Chicken skewers ( Malaysian style) : Soft and lightly sweet.
  • Churros with hot chocolate and Ice cream (Spanish) : Waited for 10minutes to grab a bowl. Over sweet for my taste.

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The fun, buzz, hot food and drinks at the market are sure to bring a smile on your face. What else can you ask for on a cold winter evening!

 

Saravana Bhavan

Mostly after morning yoga, I crave for Indian breakfast. Steaming hot soft Idlis with chutney and sambar or a crispy ghee roast. But City of Melbourne makes it impossible unless I put my apron on and cook!

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Recently my colleague and friend mentioned about Saravana Bhavan opening a new branch here in the city. Yesterday we both after work made a quick plan to explore the place. Conveniently located on King street(131 King St, Melbourne VIC 3000), it’s a quick walk from our workplace. I sometimes wonder just like how Little Bourke is called China Town, King street must be called Little India. There are a couple of other Indian restaurants and an Indian grocery store besides the new Saravana Bhavan on Kings street.

They do not open for breakfast. So I need not be very excited about an early morning dosa or a cup of Madras coffee. Opens at 11.30 am just in time for lunch. Offers various combo meals and a good selection of dosas.

Ordered:

  • Poori Masala: Good pooris with decent potato masala.
  • Rava dosa: Crispy and came with sambar and three types of chutneys.
  • Vada: Crispy and light.
  • Madras Coffee: Very strong filter coffee! Just perfect with a plate of vada.

The overall experience is average. Friendly staff. Easy accessibility for city dwellers.

Will I come here again?

hmmm….. May be!