Is this what you’ve all been waiting for? The foodie post? Well, I’ve gone over the Hiroshima okonomiyaki, yummy tacoyaki among other things at Nishiki Market, and the kaiseki in Kyoto at Gion Nanba, so I’m going to post some pictures here and talk about some of the other nice meals we had. We also had omurice, tempura, ramen, and pizza/pasta but I don’t have pictures or specific memories of those so won’t bore you with nothingness.
So back to Kyoto, between instant noodle and/or toast breakfasts, bento boxes from department store food courts, we managed to squeeze in a visit to the famous Coco Curry. We didn’t quite understand how to order but managed to get ourselves a curry each (including one for Oscar), everyone got a mild curry so it was basically gravy, but it was still yummy, this was probably Oscar’s favourite meal of the whole trip as he ate all of his serve and then some.
I ordered a set meal but this didn’t specify the spice level, while everyone else ordered from the combination menu which allows you to choose a base curry, and select the spice level, and then extras and add-ons to spice up the meal (pun totally intended). And yet they still just went with mild curry, but anyway, it was definitely an easy meal.
The only other picture of a meal I have is from our old favourite udon restaurant in the Porta Shopping mall, just outside Kyoto Station. We had quite a good recollection of eating udon here the last time we were in Kyoto, the memory was so good that we just had to come back. In reality though, we remembered that there was a pretty good udon place in the Porta shopping mall and didn’t want to run any risks as we were kind of in a rush and needed something that Oscar would likely eat.
That’s not to say that the udon here isn’t good, it’s plenty good and very possible that in a similar situation next time we are in Kyoto we may visit again. I had the cold noodles this time with a chicken katsu set, the noodles are so thick and chewy here, I like it.
Even in a relatively small town (or perhaps especially because) like Kawaguchi-ko there are specialties to try. The specialty of the area (Yamanashi) is hoto, which is a type of noodle similar to udon, but the noodles are flatter and wider, the broth is usually filled with seasonal vegies and root vegies (especially pumpkin) and pork based.
So we were strolling around on that cloudy day in Kawaguchi-ko looking for something to eat when we stumbled upon this hoto restaurant just near the train station. We definitely remembered how yummy hoto was, so we stepped right on in and tried this one out (it’s only open from 11am-7pm). Compared to Hoto Kosaku, the actual bowls are a bit bigger (with the amount of food being about the same), there are not as many broth or add-on options here, but it still hits the spot if you’re after pork or vegie based noodle soup. The price for two bowls was about 25$ AUD (or a bit over 2,000¥), I would expect that we would drop by again next time we’re in Kawaguchi-ko :D.
This is the hoto restaurant that the hostel always recommends, and with good reason, the hoto here is bloody good and there are many options for broth (whatever you can think of really) as well as extras. We’re always a little price conscious so we didn’t splurge on the higher priced dishes (can’t remember off the top of my head but maybe something like crab or goose, something kind of exotic), I just got the stock standard pork hoto, and Emmy splurged on the seafood hoto.
This place is super busy but the queue moves quite quickly, you basically walk in and have to put your name down to reserve your spot. Once you’ve got your table though, you should quickly work out what you want and flag a waiter/waitress down to make your order as they’re super busy and not looking for customers with empty tables.
Some tables on the sides have pits where you can dangle your feet but both times we’ve been there we have not had the fortune of such a luxury and had to sit cross legged on the floor. The noodles here are super luxurious, they’re probably wider and flatter than the ones at Hoto Fudo, the broth very sweet and tasty, this is a can’t miss in Kawaguchi-ko. These two bowls cost us about 40$ AUD (or 3,500¥) so a fair bit more pricey than Hoto Fudo for a similar quantity, it’s your own choice whether the extra options are worth your hard earned.
We mostly ate in the shopping mall food courts in Tokyo, but there are plenty of tasty options to be had there as well, although a bit pricier than some of the places you can find elsewhere.
One such place that was actually memorable was this place on the eighth floor (if I remember correctly) of the Lumine Est shopping mall (how many times have we been here?). We were kind of stuck for a place to eat and decided to just pick a place on this floor, there were a couple of good options but in the end we were won over by the plastic food of this place.
I had the roast beef on rice (with a poached egg) and side of sald, while Emmy had some kind of deep fried chicken. The beef was pretty tender, but the slices were pretty big and a bit chewy so it wasn’t the easiest thing to eat (no knife either), but it was quite tasty. Meanwhile, we ordered some dessert for the age-old reason YOLO! I’m never going to argue against waffles, and especially not when they are covered with other delicious walnuts, cream, caramel?, and iced cream. This was only the half dessert option, there’s no way we could have done the whole cake, although I’m sure Oscar would have tried his best.
The highlight of the Tokyo eating time was definitely this place, one which comes with the advantage of knowing a local, as this was a recommendation from Emmy’s friend’s husband. We went looking on a Tuesday night for some izakaya, but his preferred haunts were all full up so we had to settle for a sushi restaurant. Judging by the name this place is in Tsukiji (we were in the Ginza/Tsukiji area), it was definitely worth the money we forked out.
As you can probably tell from the menu pictures, the food pretty much matches the picture (maybe with a variation or two possibly due to seasonality), but the big thing to note is the price. Mine is a ten course omakase for 3,100¥ (approximately 40$ AUD), for the same thing here (albeit perhaps served with a bit more pomp) you’d expect to pay upwards of 90$. So what if it was all served at once on one dish for me, it’s fresh and well made and only 40$. That eel (the big one) on Emmy’s dish had a really tasty sauce on it too.
Finally, we have an unknown okonomiyaki restaurant in Yoyogi, this place was near our accommodation which made it easy enough. Emmy wanted to try out this dish, monjayaki, which is sort of similar to okonomiyaki but has different ingredients, but still fried on a flat grill. As you can see from the picture it pretty much looks like vomit, but I can assure you it tastes a hell of a lot better.
I’m not really sure what’s in there, cabbage, probably egg to bind, I think this was a mountain type or something so it had ingredients that you find on the mountains. We also had a couple of okonomiyakis after this because they weren’t too filling. This was a very Japanese restaurant as there were only locals eating there and the staff (all women interestingly) didn’t speak any English. They did work out that we needed an English menu and that we probably needed them to cook for us though (unlike the locals who grilled for themselves), I think we can probably do it for ourselves next time if we do visit another such establishment. There isn’t that much to it really, just stir it a bit to mix it up real good then pour it on to the pan and flatten it out, let it cook until ready. I actually got to do the flip on one of the okonomiyakis, and it was spectacular!
That’s it, it’s only taken three weeks to complete my holiday rundown, that must be a record. I may add some more picture posts as I go through my photos more thoroughly, but for the most part, I’m done, until next time, and there will be a next time.
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Well, I’ve already talked about the pottery class we did in the morning and our kaiseki dinner in the evening on Emmy’s birthday, so what did we do in between? Well, the plan was to go from the pottery class directly to Nishiki Market and meet the oldies there for lunch, but they took so long getting there from Kyoto Station that we ended up with only an hour or so to speed through the market and get some snacks in before dinner. It was our second time at Nishiki Market and it’s always fun and tasty, there are just so many great stalls selling food (and all sorts of other stuff) you could really spend a day there, but you probably couldn’t move by the end of it!
While waiting for the oldies we weren’t sure whether to get something to eat or not, but decided that we should have some cake for Emmy’s birthday at least, and wandered into the Daimaru food level. These places are bloody amazing, you walk through all of the vendors and you just want to buy everything. The desserts look amazing, the packaged meals don’t look super, but you can bet they’re plenty tasty and better than anything you’ll ever get in Australia. Don’t ever think about walking into one of the bakeries if you don’t want to eat anything, because absolutely everything looks delectable and irresistible. Those croquettes at all of the fried food vendors are so tempting I don’t know how I resisted buying a bag every time we walked past one. We ended up grabbing a strawberry cheese cake which Emmy promptly proclaimed to be the best strawberry cheese cake ever! I won’t argue with here because it was certainly very good and I have very little experience in this field.
It’s so colourful and there are so many people there it makes for some really great photo opportunities as well, one of my personal favourites is the portrait with the people rushing by. It’s not easy handheld but carrying a tripod and planting it in the middle of the market lane is not an option so you do what you can.
It closes pretty early (5pm I think) so we only had about an hour and a half to rush through on this day, but we made sure to snap up anything delicious looking snacks, some grilled squid, all sorts of dried stuff, and of course our favourite from last time, takoyaki. For some reason even though we know the contents are extremely hot we always seem to burn our mouths eating it. We just cannot hold ourselves back and need to eat it fast. There seems to be only one shop in the market selling it ready to eat so it’s always pretty busy but they’re fast so you never need to wait too long.
It was a bit crazy afterwards as we had to go to Gion for dinner but we wanted to take the oldies (and Oscar) there to see it at night. We only managed to get to Pontocho before the rain really started pouring down, so rather than push our luck we quickly grabbed a taxi and packed them in, it was so close anyway.
Afterwards, well, you know the story so I won’t go into that anymore, we went home after dinner and realised just how close we were staying. Next up, our last full day in Kyoto.
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What would a birthday in Japan be without a special dining experience? Let’s get the bad out of the way first, I made reservations online for Gion Nanba (one Michelin star) about two weeks prior to the date which seemed to go smoothly, but when we arrived, they did not have our reservation listed at all. I had the confirmation on my phone though, and fortunately it was a Tuesday so they weren’t so busy that they couldn’t slot us in 45 minutes later, there was no one else eating at the counter that night that we saw. I think somehow it would be best to confirm a day or two prior either via email, phone or even in person if you book online, just to be sure. It’s opposite a Starbucks in Gion so we went across the road and chilled with some frapuccinos until our time had come.
So second time around we got our seats at the counter and by this time ready to gorge (as much as you can gorge eating such a meal), I was so eager I pretty much fell into the leg pit and banged my knee. I didn’t realise there was space to dangle your legs at the counter rather than just sitting cross legged.
We started off by ordering some sake letting the lady recommend us the type, we had it hot. You can probably see from the pictures how nice the dinner ware is, everything is so intricate and pretty, and especially wabi-sabi (my new favourite term!).
Next up were the sushi and sashimi courses, the sashimi consisted of squid, bonito, sea bream, and tuna, while the sushi (and other stuff) had anko fish liver (top right behind the lead), salmon roe, mackerel sushi, and shirako (a river fish) spem sacs (yes, you read that right! Top left with the spring onion garnish). All the usual suspects here except for the fish liver and the fish sperm sacs, the liver didn’t taste like liver but I’ve never had fish liver before so maybe that’s what it normally tastes like, it didn’t seem to taste like mercury at all (:D). The sperm sacs, well this was actually one of the most memorable items on the menu that night, it tasted really good once you forget what it is you’re eating. The texture is like custard and it’s a bit salty, and a bit sweet, the hard part was getting over what I was eating, it wasn’t that hard, I just needed to eat it.
Down to the staples now with soba, rice, and miso soup, clearly turnip is in season as there were two dishes with turnip, and it was really cool that it was done two ways. That petal shaped bowl was very interesting as well.
We finished with some very yummy desserts, especially the wine jelly, it all sounds very sweet but it really wasn’t, just really, really well made, in great harmony and balanced so well as you would expect. I’m not 100% sure if the mochi wasn’t extra (as an apology) or not, I don’t remember seeing the people before us getting that. And then washed down with a traditional tea ceremony style matcha green tea.
This was almost three weeks ago, and you may have noticed that I didn’t actually comment on the taste of the food that much, unfortunately I didn’t take detailed notes on the night (preferring to just be in the moment, I didn’t even take these pictures!) and obviously I can’t remember how most of the dishes tasted now, but I can say this, if there was anything subpar I definitely would remember it. We can safely assume that this meal was a highlight and that we enjoyed everything, except the whole “didn’t have our reservation” issue. It was a great meal, especially seeing the ingredients that were used, you wouldn’t normally think of a lot of this stuff. And watching the chefs at work up close and being able to see the utensils that they use, the pots and pans, and the oven, it was all very cool.
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We only spent one night in Hiroshima, and one morning in Miyajima but we packed in quite a bit. We arrived at Narita Airport on a Friday morning and immediately proceeded to transport ourselves for six and a half hours across the country, and even this didn’t quite go as planned as there was some kind of delay on the train lines (even Japan is not immune). So arriving at Narita at 9am, we didn’t manage to leave until about 11.30am and didn’t get to Hiroshima until about 6pm, tired, sweaty, and smelly. So it was dinner time and we went out and looked for some grub heading back to plan out the day ahead.
At the station we decided to try Okonomiyaki, Hiroshima style, which is basically Okonomiyaki with noodles fried in. It was okay, not great, probably regular Okonomiyaki is more to my liking. The noodles just end up making the pancake fall apart everywhere. But anyway, that was our take on Hiroshima dining, we didn’t spend enough time to try anything else other than instant noodles.
So the plan we decided on with our very precious time, was to visit the nuclear dome and the peace park in the morning then get down to Miyajima for a wander before jumping on a shinkansen to Kyoto in the afternoon. When we woke up the next morning, some of our party had noticed that a lot of people had been streaming past the building where we were staying all morning. So as we were heading to the station with all of our luggage, we saw the streams and streams of people dressed in red walking the other way. They were supporters of the local baseball team, the Hiroshima Carps, it turns out that Hiroshima is a big baseball town, and they had just won the central league championship, this merited a parade and celebration, and we had arrived just in time to see it, but we decided not to.
Without much time, we put our luggage into a locker at the station and caught the first bus to the nuclear dome, we didn’t plan on visiting the museum as that was most likely going to be depressing and take quite some time. We meandered around the dome building and then made our way across the bridge to the Peace Park (which was quite pleasant). We were a little disappointed that the Autumn colours had not arrived yet, but turns out we got it wrong, and Autumn moves from north to south, so Hiroshima is probably colouring right about now! Little did we know that the baseball parade meant that the bus stops on the park side were not operating and we had to go back to the dome bus stop to get back to the train station to get the train to the ferry station to Miyajima, oops.
The ferry to Miyajima is quite a short ride and once on the island we decided to split up with the rest of the group and meet back in a couple hours.
Oysters are a local specialty on Miyajima so we had to try those, even with pesky deer roaming the streets looking for a free feed. This one was nosing around sleeping Oscar and me even though we didn’t have any food, I had to shoo it away before it woke up the little master. On to Itsukushima shrine and the floating torii, it’s quite a nice place to visit and I do wish we had more time there, in my head I have it planned out for next time when we visit Kyushu only. We’ll go and stay in Miyajima for one night and maybe Hiroshima as well (or just visit the Japanese garden there) so that we can walk around the trails around Mount Misen and get all of the best views of the torii with peak light. There are a lot of tourists there during the day, one would imagine in the later afternoon and evening, even in the early morning there would be much less people and a calmer atmosphere.
This was truly a hectic day and half, and travelling to Kyoto as well meant that this second day was as rushed as the first (albeit with some sight-seeing mixed in). We did a fair bit in Kyoto too, so I’ll probably break that up into several posts (possibly one for each day), see ya next time!
We stayed at an airbnb which was so-so, clean (obviously) and with wifi, but nothing great, weird traditional bathroom. I won’t bother linking to it since it was nothing special and you can find anything that will be the same or better.
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So we had a baby shower to get to over the weekend, scheduled for 1pm which is a bit of an awkward time when you have a toddler who has to have lunch and a nap. We were actually wanting to go to Left Field, which is an amazingly popular cafe in Carnegie, but driving past and seeing how busy it was and the queues streaming into the street with more people seemingly appearing everywhere, we decided that we had neither the time, nor the patience to wait. We went to another cafe in Carnegie closer to the main strip that we’ve been to before, Spilt Milk. I only had a very vague memory of this place from the last time (about two years ago), and afterwards I can now safely say I know why.
The food on the menu is peculiarly named, with each dish going by the name of an animal, maybe to make ordering easier. Emmy had the chilli eggs (I can’t remember the animal name) while I went with the donkey aka poached eggs with bacon. Reading the menu, the prices were a bit lower than I’m used to, and then when the meals came out, I could see why, they’re quite small and (for me) more suitable for a pure (first meal of the day) breakfast than a brunch/lunch meal. The chilli eggs looked all right, and while my poached eggs were over cooked, it didn’t ruin the meal, the aioli was quite tasty. I doubt that we’ll be going back to this place though if we can remember this meal, nothing special, and small-ish portions.
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Another week, another foodie post, you get the idea, this has basically become a foodie blog over the past year, I guess that’s where the big bucks are. This cafe is pretty close to our place, like five minutes drive and we didn’t even know it existed. Fortunately for us our friends visiting from Adelaide had brunch here a couple weeks ago and recommended it to us. They also recommended another place to us which I’m sure we’ll visit in the future at some point as well.
Straight into the food, emmy ordered the sweet potato corn fritters which come with poached eggs, she didn’t offer me any so I can only presume that they were indeed very well done. I did have a little crumb from the corn fritters and it was very crunchy indeed, always a good thing. She had a hot chocolate with that, it was on the slightly bitter side which is our preference, so two thumbs up right there.
Having had breakfast not long before we left for brunch, I didn’t feel up for the burger and chips, so I took it easy and settled for the ruben sandwich, a nicely toasted sanga with all those nice salty cold cut meats, cheese, mustard and some pickles on top. I know what you’re thinking, that sounds bloody amazing, and yep, it seems like something that would be pretty hard to stuff up, one more thumb up from me. Look at it, this is obviously a very subdued version but that was perfect for how I was feeling. I also ordered the red rita juice there that had beetroot, ginger, apple, and some other fruity thing blended in, nice and sour, with a bit of sweetness too.
Oscar loved his mushrooms and bread, the scrambled eggs not so much, but I don’t think that was anything to do with the eggs, just his preference on the day. If we had a regular, this would probably be it, I’m sure when we’re feeling lazy this will probably be the place that I vote for. There are a bunch of other sandwiches I need to try (as well as the burger), and probably the eggs benedict too (although it’s ham not salmon).
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On Saturday, it finally happened, I drove to the city on CityLink, oh, and also I got married to my lovely Emmy, but this post isn’t about that (for the most part). I’m here to do another foodie blog, this time one of our favourite go-to Japanese restaurants, Komeyui in Port Melbourne. So without further ado let’s get into it, this was our wedding reception of sorts (just lunch after the simple ceremony at the Old Treasury Building), I was hoping that they would do omakase for lunch, but we had to settle for the Signature Lunch set. This set consisted of five courses:
The first course was a sashimi course consisting of scallops, prawns, tuna belly, salmon, squid (I think), and I can only guess the white fish (possibly kingfish as it is quite common). The winner here I would have to say were the scallops, they were so tender, tuna belly is always a winner, and the squid had a really nice texture. I’m not sure if the prawn was cooked at all, maybe cured a little bit, they were great, and the wasabi was a bit different too, not the normal green one but some kind of (looks like cooked tuna) tan/brown colour, quite mild. I love sashimi :D. Of course those that can’t or won’t eat raw fish got their sashimi replaced with some cooked dish, looked like crayfish and prawns (but I can’t remember), it looked really good too, actually, we had one that does not eat seafood, but I can’t remember what he got.
Follow that great selection with one of my favourite vegetarian dishes, agedashi tofu, the skin has such nice texture and the tofu inside was so soft and creamy, perfect agedashi tofu, no doubt. The sauce was rich and perfectly complimented the fluffy tofu.
On to the main dish, if you can call it that, it was almost like four mains and a dessert. Perfectly cooked wagyu steak (sirloin is Scotch fillet right?) with some crunchy edamame on the side, the edamame was actually really good, it had a really nice fragrance, perhaps grilled with the steak. Keep in mind I had just had steak the previous Wednesday so it was still fresh on my mind, I certainly wouldn’t have minded if the Komeyui chef was cooking my steak at Stefans either :D. I guess I needed to savour it, I probably won’t have steak again for six months as is my tendency.
On to the sushi course which everyone got (except for our non-seafood lover, he got tempura veggies which looked good too!), and the hits just kept coming, I really can’t say enough about this place, they know what they’re doing. I was the lone black sheep, I chose the chirashi which is pretty much the same thing, but instead of bite-sized portions it is one long line of rice with the fish on top. Unfortunately, I’m no fish connoiseur so I can’t tell you what was on it, sea urchin at least, there was salmon roe in the sushi as well as a separate piece of salmon, the chirashi and the cooked sushi (for the non-raw fish lovers) had clam, but as for the rest of the fish, I wouldn’t bother guessing, they were either white or pink fish as you can see for yourself. No complaints from me, but I think I’d go with the sushi instead of chirashi next time, just a bit easier to eat and generally looks more appetising.
Finally, dessert, this picture is actually of Emmy and my special dessert, it had a sparkler in it which I wasn’t able to capture because it fizzled out while I was busy moving glasses out of the way to take my picture :p. Still, you can see that they’ve gone out of their way to spurce up the regular dessert for us (not that we mentioned what the occasion was), it was basically the same as everyone elses except that we got some extra fruit, and our iced cream was on the side rather than in the pastry. I’m not sure if we were the only ones that got some green tea coated chocolate, which went great with the salted caramel iced cream. What a great way to end the meal, I was definitely full after that and I’m pretty sure everyone else was and if there was anybody unhappy with their meal I sure didn’t notice.
I certainly didn’t hear my dad saying that they were Chinese people running the restaurant this time! SMH
Of course it was our special day and I had to have a nice drink to celebrate, and that I did, some black lager from Saitama, which is near Tokyo I believe, Coedo Shikkoku it’s called, and well, as with everything else on the table this was a pleasure to down, it wasn’t cheap that’s for sure, but that was a big reason why we didn’t want a big wedding, so that we could enjoy (perhaps) a higher quality meal with loved ones rather than something that could be mediocre due to stretching a kitchen.
Yeah, we did do that too, a small affair in the Thomas Hyde Room at the Old Treasury Building on Spring St in the CBD. Originally we were thinking of not inviting our parents and just taking a couple of witnesses, but we thought it would be better to take them despite the added hassle of transport. The morning was a little stressful with Emmy DIY-ing her hair and makeup it seemed that we were running late, so we jumped on the Monash Freeway (toll road) and cruised into town, only to realise halfway in that we’d left our passports (required for identification purposes apparently) at home. So there we were, sitting in the car on the freeway fretting about whether to turn around or carry on.
We were on time but if I had to turn around, we would definitely be way late, so in the end I dropped Emmy off to check with the office and they said it was not an issue, so no problems, and a lot of unnecessary stress. Everything went pretty well, I managed to hold myself together (I had to let out a little chuckle at one point to keep myself from losing it all together) and got through all the lines and signing of papers without shedding a single tear. We managed to wrangle our photographer into coming to lunch at Komeyui and taking some photos for us at the beach afterwards. We got a bunch of very nice photos, the weather held up despite the forecast all week predicting showers on Saturday, and maybe some of us ended up getting sunburnt even.
So now I’m a member of the exclusive Tran Pham Clan and life goes on pretty much as it was, but with a bit more debt than before :O. And we also have another anniversary date to remember, my suggestion of going to Komeyui to celebrate annually got shot down pretty fast, so maybe not until we kill some more debt. See you again in a few months after I visit another restaurant (;*^_^*;). Finally, apologies to all the single ladies out there, but this chicken has met his tiger!
I’ve replaced some of my crummy pictures (taken with my phone) with some much nicer ones (probably hard to tell which ones I know :D) taken by our photographer for the day, Chealse.
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A couple of weeks ago we went to this Peking Duck restaurant in the city, apparently it’s a franchise in China, and this was the first branch in Australia. I’ve seen this place a few times as we drove to Queen St a fair bit to park the car when visiting the CBD, but never knew that it was actually a duck restaurant. It’s quite a large space, well, it’s like a two level place but they’ve removed the second floor so it just has a really high ceiling. The setting is nice and the service more upscale than your regular duck restaurant (i.e. Old Kingdom or Simon’s) but it’s not fine dining.
We were six people and ordered two ducks and some fried rice (as two had already eaten something), whereas normally you’d order one duck between two (if it was done three ways), this was supposedly duck done two ways, but we did not get the duck soup (apparently all of the duck bones were bagged for take away by our Chinese speaking companions). The plum sauce, cucumber, and spring onions were individually portioned and more than enough for each of us. The duck however, was sliced a bit too thinly and at that point it is not clear how many slices you should put into your own crepe. I started off with two slices, but then we had leftover duck so I upped it to three slices of duck to each pancake, so in the end it seemed like two bigger slices or three smaller slices per crepe was right, whereas at Simon’s it might just be one slice or two smaller slices to a crepe.
The duck itself was pretty good but the skin lacked the crispness that we’ve enjoyed at Old Kingdom and Simon’s, there was a side dish of fried duck fat which was a novelty. Dip it in a bit of sugar and you have quite the treat, but really, this duck meal was left a bit wanting (the fried rice wasn’t anything to write home about either), it was also about $15 bucks more expensive (78$) than Old Kingdom or Simon’s so that was definitely a thumbs down. On a side note worth noting, there was no need to pre-order the duck as is usually the case at Simon’s and Old Kingdom.
We had some friends over from Adelaide on the weekend and as is our custom, we tried to wow them with something that they might not have tried in Adelaide (or might not even have). We weren’t able to get a preferred time slot (with our kids) so we had to settle with Hoi’s in Camberwell (near our work), we weren’t too sure about it as it’s usually just a take away/quick and dirty lunch place, that has re-branded in the past year or two as a Peking Duck restaurant. But it was our only option on short notice, we ordered two ducks over the phone (for five adults), but we were actually all still quite full from lunch, and then one of the adults dropped out.
We managed to order duck three ways here, so the regular Peking duck with crepes, stir-fry duck bone (really it’s other pieces of duck that have meat on the bone), and some duck fried rice, there are also options of duck and tofu soup, and crispy noodles with duck among others. So they provide a few extra options over the other duck restaurants. The duck was sliced better here and the skin was crispier, there were also a couple of drumsticks on a plate that I happily chomped down, yes, the duck was much better here.
They did however, skimp on the sauce and vegies, and when we asked for a sauce re-fill the waiter was very stingy and only half-filled the dish. We ended up only getting one duck which was probably a good thing because we weren’t hungry enough to take a second (we didn’t bother asking about it), even if we took it with us. So food, quite good, service horrible (not to mention my toddler was messing around on his high chair and the tray collapsed sending him sprawling on the floor!) but not unexpected, at 76$ for everything including a couple of beers and tea, the value was better than Quanjude. But I’d rate it lower than Old Kingdom and Simon’s for quality of food, but they are trying, and giving the extra options (something like six or seven total) is definitely a positive. So, next time our friends come over we’ll either have to take them to Simon’s or work out something else to wow them with, we’ll probably have six months to a year :D.
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This site has almost become a monthly food review blog, but any way, this time I went out with some of the Mighty Boys to eat some old fashioned steak (having missed out on the grand final with a disappointing semi-final loss). We’ve been to this place (in suburban Balwyn) before and it has a pretty good reputation for well cooked, quality steak. The owner, Stefan, grills the steak on his custom grill and has been doing so for what I would guess to be quite a long time. Good on him, still doing what he enjoys I bet, and doing a hell of a job of it I might add. Maybe surprisingly, or probably not, the menu does not have any wagyu or fancy stuff like that (is Angus fancy?). It’s a pretty simple menu, with all the regular cuts, New York cut on request, and you can order a three course menu consisting of entree (soup or sausage), steak, and dessert (apple strudel, black forest cake, or crepes), it also comes with a side of salad and chips. There is also some bread with butter to keep you occupied until the cooked food arrives.
I was just going to have the regular scotch fillet (my go-to cut), but everyone else went for Angus, so I had to follow as my social programming commands me to, and got the Angus Scotch. The sausage came out first (vegetable soup? yeah right… although, maybe next time) and it went down nice and fast with the aide of some tasty mustard. The garden salad is nothing special but it’s dressed well and provides enough salad-y side. The chips are standard steak chips but they’re always a treat with steak! The steak comes out, nicely grilled, and cooked to perfection (medium rare of course!), a beautiful tasty chunk of beef. Somehow I ate and sliced my scotch up so that the last piece left was just fat, well, I’m currently trying to add a bit of bulk so I just downed it for all the flavour it was. It wasn’t wagyu, but a perfectly cooked angus scotch is nothing to sneeze at.
I was pretty full at this point, but the dessert comes with the meal, so I downed the lemon crepes with aplomb, will try the walnut crepes next time on recommendation. Look, it’s a great steak and a definite recommendation because Stefan clearly knows his steak and how to cook it, also, on a Wednesday night I don’t reckon there’s much chance he’s going to make any mistakes due to being busy (which might be the case for some places), I can’t wait for next time :D. The restaurant is nothing to write home about but it’s a nice quiet place and you can see Stefan standing over the grill doing what he does best.
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Is it just me, or do I start every post with, “It’s been a while” or something to that effect? Any way I’m here now, and I’m posting a food review of a French restaurant that I visited with emmy last week to celebrate our fifth anniversary of being together.
I’d read a couple of reviews of this place, and even though I’m not a massive fan of French cuisine, I had a bit of a hankering for steak and chips, and well, there is sort of only one main on the menu at Entrecote (South Yarra), and wouldn’t you know it, Steak Frites. Obviously we didn’t just have steak and chips, although the apparently limitless fries could make that a reasonable option (although you’d have to be a bit of a dick to do that), we did manage to fit in an entree, and also a dessert. We just went with a couple of recommendations for drinks, I had some red wine from Burgundy which was quite nice, and emmy went with a lemony cocktail, France 75 or something, no issues yet! We started with the “King Louis Boulettes” which are croquettes with spiced beef and some other substance (mashed potato-like) in them, the filling was so fluffy and the crunchy exterior very well done.
Following that up with the steak (porterhouse) and fries, with a side of leafy salad (radish, lettuce, and walnuts with vinaigrette). The salad was simple but very well executed, the crunchy lettuce and walnuts great with the dressing. The fries were straight outta Maccas, nothing wrong with that, maccas chips are great, maybe not as fried/crunchy as maccas but shoestring fries are hard to get wrong, and these were good.
My steak (medium rare) was a little dry and over cooked on one edge (fortunately the side I started on), but after a couple slices the tender section appeared and the rest was in my tummy in no time. The buttery herb sauce works on this steak and I had no complaints, also mixed in some French mustard which is always a winner with steak. I was full, but sacrificed what space remained in my stomach to help out emmy by finishing off the last couple pieces of her steak.
We couldn’t leave without ordering dessert, everything looked great, but having had a great lemon tart only the day before, we decided on the chocolate profiteroles. Covered in dark chocolate, both melted and chips, and with a vanilla iced cream centre, these totally hit the spot, even though the spot was nothing but a tiny little speck of air that was being squished from all sides by steak and chips!
That’s it, we were done, could barely move, and ready to doze off into food coma heaven. There were a lot of things we didn’t try that I would’ve liked to, but it was probably a good thing we didn’t over indulge as we were both ready to explode/collapse/pass out (in that order) after a great meal. Chicken liver parfait, steak tartare, smoked salmon, escargot, maybe next time. I’d rate this one over Bistro Thierry, but we didn’t get steak there, and we also ordered too much and ate too much bread – Entrecote don’t serve bread, free or any, for a French restaurant that seems bizarre – so I’d be willing to give Bistro Thierry another try. This place? Put it at the top of the French restaurant list (that’s my list of two) and I’ll be happy to go back and enjoy some of the other dishes, they also do breakfast and lunch, hmmm.
Oh, and something that doesn’t usually rate a mention from Asians (or maybe it’s just me), the table service was very good, very attentive, cleaning up very quickly and getting our food out in reasonable time (we were to get kicked in two hours, so I guess they couldn’t dawdle too much). I’ll also take some time to mention the atmosphere and appearance as well since I’m here, nice, charming, romantic, although a little squeezy, stick to the iphone camera as the focus light of any decent camera might be a bit too much for anyone to bare ;).
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