Thursday, 18 December 2014

Cumulus Up

Address: 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Vic 3000
Phone: (03) 9650 1445

Cumulus Up is one of many ventures owned by the talented Andrew McConnell, who has redefined the Melbourne dining scene with restaurants such Supernormal, Moon Under water, Luxembourg Bar and Bistro and Cumulus Inc. Cumulus Up, an extension of Cumulus Inc., is a fancy wine bar, which also serves fine foods to be shared between guests. 

When catching up with Ada, a friend I hadn't seen in a long time, I suggested Cumulus Up because I thought it'd be fun to test a variety of dishes while we talked about all the things that had happened this year. I'd been to Cumulus Up for the first time not long before and I was keen to try some of the dishes I didn't get to try last time because everything sounded so good.

We started off with the Grilled King Prawn with Creme Freche and Lemon. The tender prawn meat was enhanced by the creamy, zesty flavours it was served with. Really a delicious entree dish. The only issue I had was scooping the meat from the shell - every bite required a bit of work. But I suppose that what you get when you order prawns!

The next dish we tried was the Duck Waffle with Foie Gras and Prune. I'd tried the Duck Waffle on my first visit and fell in love, which was why I recommended that Ada order it too. This is the dish that you go to Cumulus Up for. Rich, buttery, melt-in-your mouth foie gras is served with sweet, prune jam on top of a light and crispy waffle that has tiny, shredded duck pieces folded into the batter. It's a rich dish, but so flavoursome and delightful that I'm pretty sure it'd be a sin to come to Cumulus and avoid this one.

After the duck waffle, our mains came. I'd picked the first two dishes, so it seemed only fair to make Ada choose something too. (And honestly, I hate making decisions when everything looks good!) Ada ended up picking the Pork Rack, which came out beautifully presented.

The pork belly was so soft and tender with a thin brittle layer of cracking above. The meat was flavoured by the basil, parsley and olive oil green sauce or Salsa Verde. It really added a salty and herbyedge to the white bean puree and the pork cuts. On the topic of the puree, I really enjoyed it. As a thick, creamy paste, it added a smooth texture to the the dish.

To go with the Pork Rack, we also ordered a Roast Potato side. I generally love potatoes (even though they bring on the carbs), but these were really something. They were covered with a thick Confit Garlic sauce, which added a strong salty taste to the soft, warm potato flesh in their crackling skins. 

I think Ada enjoyed her meal...and I know most certainly did. Maybe it could be accredited to good company know what they say, good company makes good food better.

In terms of the restaurant, the interior was beautiful with jagged mirrors, flowers and wine bottles lining the walls. On this visit, we also had a really friendly waiter, who came to our table three times (as we kept forgetting to look at the menu, getting deep into conversation) without showing any attitude. He was patient and smiley, which really made a good impression on me. He also gave us a cheery good-bye and thank you when we paid for our meal. 

I feel I should also talk a bit about my first visit too although that was about a month ago. It was a meet-up with high school friends who seen Cumulus on a list of Must-Tries for Melbourne. Although it was a catch up with a group of people, I somehow manged to weasel my way into taking some nice food pictures, even with the lack of natural light inside the restaurant (We were dining at 8pm) and the 10 people who had to wait for me to do the happy snaps before they could dig in.

On that night, I started off with a cocktail - I can't remember the name of it, but it was not my cup of tea (Or rather, glass of gin). It tasted a lot like cough syrup, unfortunately. Though it did have a lovely misty purple hue to it.

We tried the Duck Waffles and the Roast Potatoes on my first visit, as I mentioned before. But we also shared a number of other dishes including the Spanner Crab and Brioche...These were crunchy, toasted brioche fingers, oozing with oil and topped with a creamy Spanner crab and salmon mixture. Definitely rich, but in their tiny size, a good amount to excite the taste buds without being too much for the stomach.

Another dish we tried was the Ricotta Dumplings with Burnt Butter and Pine Nuts. In my mind, dumplings are always filled with meat...probably because I grew up on Asian-styled pork dumplings. So I was initially weary of this dish. But it turned out to be delicious - round parcels of thin skin that melted with the fluffy ricotta filling. It had the lovely aroma of pine nuts and melted butter. Again, rich, but delicious with a small tasting.

We then got into the Whole Rock Flathead and Mussels En Papillote with Herb Salad. Perhaps it's because I don't know if I like Mussels or not, but this one didn't have as much pulling power over me. The fish was fresh and tender and the herbs flavoured the subtle taste of the fish. But I can't say much about the mussels - I didn't try any. I guess I enjoyed the dish, but perhaps not as much as the others.

Finally, we tried the dried aged 600gr. rib fillet. My friends kind of dug into it by accident before I got a picture. But it was delicious...and kind of difficult to share with friends because you wanted to go back in for another piece.

All in all, I really liked dining at Cumulus Up. It serves some interesting dishes, unique to the venue, and really balances subtle flavours with more rich and tasteful elements. It can be a bit pricey depending on what you're ordering and how many people you're dining with, but I tell you that you'll have an experience worth every dollar paid and more.


Service: 7.5/10
Ambiance: 8/10
Food: 19/20

Worth Visiting? many delicious dishes. Easy, classy shared dining.
Price: $$$ (You're looking at servings from $7 per piece to dishes priced $12-$68. You'll need to order a few dishes to fill up, but it's great for trying all the different options.)

Cumulus Up on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


Address: World Trade Centre, 18-32 Siddeley Street, Melbourne, Vic 3000
Phone: (03) 9614 6400
Facebook: Byblos

About a week ago, I was lucky enough to be invited by Clemance Harvey PR to dine at Byblos, one of the eateries forming the row of restaurants next to the river at the WTC Wharf. Byblos originated from the sunny state of Queensland and has been known for its exotic Lebanese cuisine and award-winning bar, so I was quite excited for lunch. I arrived at Byblos at 2 o'clock for a late afternoon meal, so it took awhile to flag a waiter given the quiet hour at the restaurant. But once I did get his attention, he was very friendly and recommended a delicious dish from the grill menu. 

I was told that the grilled prawn and fish skewers were not to be missed, so I took up the recommendation. I also selected a chicken skewer, a lamb cutlet and a vegetable skewer for variety....And what a great selection it was...

The char-grilled jumbo prawn was succulent and flavoursome, marinated in olive oil, lime and garlic. The dory fish was also fresh and tender, flavoured with lemon juice, spices and coriander, flame-grilled to perfection. It was surprising my favourite of the skewers as I just loved the way the fish fell tenderly from its stick. The chicken was tender and lightly seasoned with oregano and pepper. It was pleasant, although I preferred the seafood skewers more. There was also a sweet capsicum, mushroom and tomato veggie skewer which went well with the lamb cutlet.

The platter also came with pickles, a corriander and tomato salad and a large bowl of pita bread to dip into the creamy house-made garlic dip. The hummus and olive oil combination was also quite delicious. I was thoroughly impressed with the size of the plate because it was a good amount of food - a generous serving of skewers, bread and salad, although you'd definately be able to order a few more side dishes if you really wanted to try out some of their other interesting entrees. 

I also tried one of the syrups on offer - The rose and lychee syrup. It was a beautiful colour with a soft, rose scent that was quite lovely. But it was very, very sweet. Perhaps a little too sweet for my usual tastes as I couldn't finish it. But if you like very sweet drinks, this one's for you!

I was also fascinated with their platter for two, which looked like a Lebanese high tea, so the waiter let me take a photo of one coming out to be served. If you're dining with a friend, these tiered dishes offer a good variety of Byblos' popular dishes to share, with 2 of each of the Rekakat, Fatayer, Lahim bil Ajeen, Sambusek, Shish Tawook and Lahim Meshwi. The next time I feel like Lebanese, I'm bringing a friend to try this with me! 

In the end, I had a great time and enjoyed the delicious meal. The food was nicely presented and came out quickly and the restaurant itself was quite pretty with its decadent lamps and curtains - a great place for grabbing lunch if you happen to work around the WTC Wharf. Although the restaurant is hidden away next to the Crowne Plaza Hotel, it's got some delicious grilled food, so make sure you check it out if you're around that side of town.

Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of Clemance Harvey PR and Byblos. This post reflects my honest experiences and opinions at the time of my visit. Please note, I'm a blogger who enjoys food and photography, not a professional critic for a particular media organisation or company.


Service: 7.5/10
Ambience: 6.5/10 
Food: 18/20

Worth Visiting? Yes, that grill is just perfect.
Price: $$ (You're looking at about $20-$30 plates that will fill you up quite well)

Byblos on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Paramount Coffee Project

Address: 80 Commonwealth Street, Surrey Hills, Sydney 2010
Phone: (02) 9211 1122

Ah, Sydney. So many brunch spots, so little time. I ended up walking past The Paramount Coffee Project shortly after dining at Reuben Hills (Apparently, this is another cafe owned by the dudes who set up Reuben Hills). It was relatively quiet, as it was past the lunchtime rush, and I knew that I'd probably have difficulty getting in the next day (being a Saturday) I decided I'd step in to try a sweet dish.

Believe me, I was seriously tempted to try the Sweet Waffle with Peanut Butter Ice-cream...but in the end, my love for cooked bananas won out. In this case, not only were they cooked, they were bruleed bananas. Fancy...So I ended up ordering Banana Bread with Bruleed bananas, Marscapone and Macademia nuts.

The little bread loaf was quite cute. It came out in a bowl, drizzled with maple syrup, flanked by a serving of caramelised bananas and macademia nuts and topped with a dollop of marscapone.

I love banana bread, but I often feel like that it's very sweet. Even sweeter than a lot of cakes. In fact, I can't really tell the diffference between banana bread and banana cake most of the time. But at The Paramount Coffee Project, this wasn't the case at all. The banana bread was perfect. Served warm, I was greeted with the wafting scent of baked bananas. The marscapone was light and creamy, which served as a 'butter' for the bread, while the macademia nuts added a contrasting crunch in every bite which complemented the soft textures of the dish. All in all, the banana bread was beautiful.

I wish I'd been able to try other dishes. Aside from the Sweet Waffle, I was also seriously tempted to try the Coca Cola Ox Cheek Waffle. What a strange combination, right? But I was well fed after a whole morning of eating, so I gave it a pass. I'll definately be back though.

In regards to the actual cafe, the waitress who served me was quite friendly...though some of the waiters who came to 'check in' on me seemed to give off the disinterested hipster vibe. The space was wide and open with a lot of communal tables - a little tough for a lone traveller - but luckily I ended up with my own window table in the corner. Anoher thing to note is that people kept on coming into the cafe - I must have come in during the lull because it picked up again not long after I was served. So your best bet would be to come early if you're planning a brunch date at The Paramount Coffee Project.


Service: 7/10
Ambiance: 6.5/10

Worth visiting? Yeiiish, for it's pretty dishes, open communal dining space and nice service.
Price range: $$ (You're looking at $9-$10 for smaller dishes, $10-$20 for slightly larger dishes. A bit pricey, but worth it if you're sharing with friends)

The Paramount Coffee Project on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Reuben Hills

Address: 61 Albion Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Phone: (02) 9211 5556
Facebook: Reuben Hills

Been busy zooming back and forth to Sydney recently, so I've been lucky enough to try out some of the awesome cafes and eateries in the CBD. When planning my trip, my first move was to check out Urbanspoon to see where I should eat for the next couple of days....

One of the trending cafes was Reuben Hills, a place with quirky, Mexican-inspired flavours. I almost missed the cafe on my way up the Albion Street hill because it had such a simple shopfront...but it was a cool, chic little space with plants and lights adorning the brick walls and a roller-door exit on the far end where the sun poured into the room. I look a seat at this end of the cafe to peruse the menu. There were a lot of interesting dishes, all with an exotic twist...but in the end it was the crab that got me. I love soft-shell crab, so it was the tostada for me.

This is by far one of the best Soft shell crabs I've had. The exterior was crispy, but the crab itself was fleshy, soft and sweet. I also liked that it was plated in its original shape. The slaw was very flavoursome with all the tastes and colour that a Mexican dish should have. It was wonderfully fruity, tangy and spicy and went well with the Queso Fresco cheese, creamy black bean paste and tostada shells. All in all, a very delightful and filling dish which I had with a Nutella Hot Chocolate.

It had a pleasant hazelnut-Nutella scent and was warm and bubbly. It wasn't as thick as I hoped (I think my taste buds in regards to hot chocolate have been spoilt by the hot chocolate I had at Angelina's in France. Since then, I've only ever wanted thick hot chocolate...) But it was a pretty good drink. The girl who served me was very friendly and very conversational about everything: the food, my photo-taking and the weather. She was so pleasant that I felt it added to my first experience.

The second time I visited Reuben Hills was for lunch the very next day. Too tired to look for a new place for lunch after going on a looong present-shopping trip, I wondered back to Reuben Hills for a bit of lunch. It was late, probably about 3 o'clock, so I was pretty hungry...and had a weak spot for the fried chicken. Also, I really liked the name given to the dish on the menu: 'Really F*cking Great Chicken...'

And it was pretty damn delicious. Tender chicken, lightly fried (it was good chicken too with no fatty pieces) served with lime juice, ranch sauce and some kind of spicy salsa? Sooo good. There were also some green chili pieces...but I left those well alone given my lack of tolerance for hot food...Though the chicken was pretty addictive, I had to leave some of it because it was quite filling and I'd also decided to order the Brioche and Dulce De Leche.

The Brioche bun was OK. Not as soft as I thought it might be. The Dulce De Leche was delicious and thick. It tasted like condensed milk, but with a caramel texture. This dish was a bit plain, and you can get the Dulce De Leche in a couple of other desserts, so I recommend ordering those instead...unless you're having two dishes. This was just the right amount of sweetness after the fried chicken, so I was quite happy with that.

The service was pretty awesome on my second visit too. The waitress who showed me to my seat was a little bit indifferent, but the two guys that served me when I paid for my meal were very friendly and joked around with me. Overall, I had a super good experience and loved the food. Look forward to visiting again the next time I'm up in Sydney!


Service: 9/10
Ambience: 6/10
Food: 19/20

Is it worth visiting? Delicious Mexicana dishes served with a friendly vibe.
Price range: $$ (You're looking at about $8-$18.50 for dish) 

Reuben Hills on Urbanspoon

Friday, 29 August 2014

Cupcake Central

Address: Level 2 Dining Hall, Melbourne Central, Melbourne 3000
Phone: (03) 9077 4542
Facebook: Cupcake Central

Winter has done bad things to me...I haven't been able to get up early enough for brunch dates and I've been craving cupcakes. So I've decided to write about Cupcake Central as I've made two visits on my way home from work recently. Cupcake Central has an original store in Hawthorn and since the re-vamp of Melbourne Central, they've also occupied a large corner of the Level 2 Dining Hall. 

The thing I like most about the store is that they also have quirky cupcake flavours. For my first visit in a looong time, I decided not to go with something too outrageous and ended up with a Banoffee Pie cupcake. Who doesn't love Banoffee Pie? It was a nice banana cake dotted with melted toffee chips and served with cream cheese frosting. I liked it alot, though I couldn't finish it as I realised Cupcake Central has cakes that are dense and rich (I don't do too well with richness, unfortunately). But I liked the delicious flavour combination. It went perfectly with a chocolate-flaked cappuccino.

There's something really beautiful about the store itself. Lots of lights and whites and flowers with a bit of a retro feel, given that it has a milkshake and soda bar...

The second time I visited, I got tempted by an unusual cupcake...The Potato Head. I don't usually like chocolate desserts that look like they might be too rich, but I was fascinated with the idea of a potato cupcake that I decided I'd give it a go. 

I wasn't sure if it was a cake made with potato, or a cake with potato chips in it (judging from the chip on top), but both seemed like interesting ideas. It turned out to be the latter - chocolate cake with white-chocolate coated potato chips embedded in the mixture. Again I underestimated my judgement for rich cakes and couldn't finish it, but for chocolate-dessert lovers, you would definately find this very chocolate-y. For me, I loved the potato chip idea. It was salty and sweet and added a funny crunch to the dessert. Overall, I enjoyed the quirky menu at Cupcake Central, but have to add that I felt that the cupcakes were a bit dry compared to some other places that I'd visited before. They were also quite dense and rich, as mentioned before. While I prefer my cupcakes soft, some of my friends really like the cupcakes from I leave the final verdict in your hands after you try it!

The first time I visited was a Sunday, hence the morning lull. But the second time I came around, it was quite busy, so I suggest a morning visit if you want to enjoy the pretty settings. The service was relatively friendly and fast, though it does seem to depend on the number of people that are there and the person doing the serving...But there are definately some friendly faces...see one waving in my picture? 


Service: 6.5/10
Ambience: 9/10
Food: 14/20

Is it worth visiting? It's in a convienent location and offers a range of quirky flavours
Price range: $ (You're looking at less than $5 per cupcake depending on size) 

Cupcake Central on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Shizuku Ramen

Address: 309 Victoria St, Abbottsford, Vic, 3067
Phone: (03) 9995 8180
Facebook: Shizuku Ramen

Have you ever heard of a ramen burger? It's a pretty cool idea - they make the burger buns out of fried ramen! I first heard of the ramen burger from a friend who seen the concept in New York and kept a mental note to myself to go find this unusual burger when I hit the States. But recently I noticed that some restaurants in Melbourne had brought the concept down under...

Last week I was kindly invited by the staff at Shizuku Ramen to come try out their new menu which included...the ramen burger! I was super excited,of course! As was my sister, a lover of all things Japanese, who I brought along with me for this food adventure. We got to Shizuku at 5:30pm - the openning time for their dinner session - and found a cute little restaurant with a lovely display of Japanese drinks and ambient lighting all around.

The staff were very friendly and proactive. They sat us down and provided us with some curried popcorn in the cutest little daisy bowl while they went to get us some tea.

I was pretty dead set on my ramen burger and my sister had decided on a ramen dish when we were offered the option of ordering some entrees. We perused the menu and finally settled on the lobster slider and crab meat croquettes.

My sister and I really liked the lobster slider. The kewpie salad and sweet lobster filling was combined with some crunchy pickled carrots and radishes, which offset its richness and made it a creamy and refreshing snack. All this was wedged between briche-y bun goodness, making it a delicious combination.

The croquettes were filled with creamy, thick crab chowder, with little golden corn kennels tucked within. They were lightly crumbed and given an additional flavour punch with the sweet plum sauce. I probably should have ripped one in half and captured the way they looked with crab chowder on the inside, but I was
slightly afraid that it would drop on my ramen burger. That's right, my ramen burger and my sister's ramen dish had arrived pretty much at the same time. Pretty efficient service!

I tried the gyoza from my sister's bowl, but not much else as my sister was pretty ravenous. There's honestly nothing like freshly cooked gyoza when you're hungry. These ones were some of the nicest gyozas I've had in awhile. The silky dumpling skins were wrapped around a lot of ginger and mince. My sister also loved the soft, gooey yolk of her boiled egg. But I've saved the most exciting dish of the night for last. I've even labelled it all for you...

I actually took awhile figuring how to eat my ramen burger at first because it was pretty big! I wonder if the waiters saw me awkwardly tackling this - I tried chopsticking and spooning it apart and ended up with mayo everywhere. Then my sister said, why don't you just lift it up with the wrapper? It's great to have a sister with common sense. So that's what I ended up doing.

It was soooo good. The pork belly was sticky, sweet and tender - not too fatty or lean. It pretty much came apart in a bite and melted in my mouth. The pickled salad and mayo was also pretty refreshing. As for the ramen buns? Unusual - like my noodles had turned into one massive pancake! It was a little bit too gummy for my teeth (I have to be careful due to dental work :/), but it was a fun experience. Once the burger sauce seeped into the patties it broke them apart, so it turned into a more conventional noodle eating experience. Well, sort of, as I was still eating it from the wrapper! Overall, I was pretty pleased with the burger, especially with its candied pork belly.

All in all, my sister and I had an enjoyable night at Shizuku Ramen. Totally wished I could have tried their pudding desserts, but we were so full by the time we'd finished! I'd like to go back one day to try out their other dishes. In terms of service, there were a few small order mix-ups due to there being so many tables of twos, perhaps a little too close together. But the waiter who first served us was really friendly. He made us feel quite comfortable, so I'd say you're in good hands if you guys are looking for some tasty Japanese food in Abbottsford!

Disclaimer: My sister, A, and I were invited to dine as guests of Shizuku Ramen. This blog post reflects my honest experiences and opinions at the time of my visit. Please note that I am a blogger who has eaten a lot and enjoys food photography, not a professional critic for any particular media or institution.


Service: 8/10
Ambience: 7.5/10
Food: 17/20

Is it worth visiting? Yes! A modern twist on Japanese cuisine.
Price range: $$ (You're looking at $5-20 for entrees and about $15-$20 for mains)

Shizuku Ramen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Magnum Pleasure Store

Sorry for the looong hiatus! It's been a hectic year so far - I've been studying, interning, working and volunteering, which has taken up all my time. But I'm going to make time for food, brunch and blogging again! I'm working out a system to fit everything in and looking for foodie friends to hang with me (I'm in an odd situation where most of my friends are either not foodies or not in Melbourne. It's v. sad :( If you'd like to make friends with a lonely foodie, please contact me!)

Despite my lack of food adventures of late, I've been hanging around the Magnum Pleasure Store at the Myer Emporium. It's a pop-up shop that makes customised magnum ice-creams. You choose your ice-cream flavour, what chocolate you want to dip it in and then top it up with 3-4 toppings and decide what chocolate you want to drizzle over it. It's already been to many cities across the world including Rome, Paris, Shanghai and Sydney...but we finally have it in Melbourne until the 10th of August, 2014!

Have you guys been yet? I'm going to admit sheepishly that I've been a few times already because my sister wanted to go after I'd already been. Here's what we created...

This pretty dark chocolate one was my sister's. She loves pistachios and dark chocolate, but her design was inspired by a design made by some guy before us in the queue who had many admiring gazes due to the nice colour palette of his Magnum. I opted for white chocolate and went crazy with toppings cause I couldn't make a decision and wanted to try everything! But here's what I ended up with:

It was an explosion of tangy blueberry chips, crunchy pistachio pieces and fragrant roses. Rich and chocolately, sweet and tangy, crunchy with lots of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate and cool vanilla ice-cream. So Delicious. So. Much. Joy. No wonder they call it a Pleasure store.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, I'd been to the Magnum pop-up shop once before I went with my sister. It was the second time that I'd visited the Emporium and I'd just taken the lift up when I found the store. So of course I had to try it! This was my first pick - a mass of milk chocolate, honeycomb chips, coconut, rose petals and vanilla crumble. I liked this combination - sweet and super crunchy with honeycomb and vanilla everywhere! The large coconut flakes and chocolate also reminded me of a Bounty bar (which is one of my favourites).

Each ice-cream costs $8 to design and the staff take you through the options. There's all sorts of cool toppings  - including dried pineapple, salted pretzels and roasted almonds.

The store is pretty easy to find if you enter into the Emporium from Lonsdale Street - just take the esculator up and you'll find it there waiting for you... But be prepared to queue if you visit after work or on the weekends. The line seems to be getting longer these days. But maybe it's because the clock is mentioned before, it's only on until the 10th of August!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Event: White Night Melbourne 2014

White Night is upon us once again! Make sure you head down to the city tonight for light projections, performances and free art exhibitions...activities will take place all around the city, particularly at Federation square, Flinders Street and Southbank. This year Metro has even organised public transport for the masses

Many of Melbourne's art institutions, including ACMI (The Australian Centre for the Moving Image) and the NGV (The National Gallery of Victoria) will be open for 24 hours, so you'll be able to pop in to watch free films and visit free exhibitions. More information can be found at the official White Night website. Have a look at some of last year's festivities...

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Rice Workshop

Address: 238 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, Vic, 3000
Phone: (03) 9650 6663

Due to one of my weekly volunteer activities, I've always walked up Chinatown and passed Rice Workshop. As I'd been curious about it for a long time, I went to try it out this week. Rice Workshop is probably best described as quick-eat Japanese restaurant with a self-serve component; you select a dish, it gets served to you, then you pick out the sides you want to eat it with. On my first visit, I tried the Ontama beef with a side of potato salad. 

The potato salad was pretty much mashed potato with little vegetable pieces in it. It was quite Japanese styled - slightly more tart and less creamy than traditional mash. I felt pretty neutral about it - it wasn't bad, but it wasn't the best mash I'd ever had. The Ontama Beef bowl, on the otherhand was good value for money and quite tasty too. The beef was thinly-sliced and served with a delicious sauce. There was also a perfect little soft boiled egg with the dish (the Malaysian in me really enjoys a good soft boiled egg), which added a nice runny yolk to the rice.

On my next visit, I tried the Chicken Karaage with spicey mayo. The fried chicken was crispy and the mayo, a tart and spicey affair. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I enjoyed the Chicken Karaage at Shuyun.

I also tried the desserts...the tiramisu mochi and the green tea soft serve ice-cream. The mochi was devoured before I remembered to take a photo, but it didn't have too much going for it. The bean paste filling was nice and creamy, but the mochi shell was hard and stale - rather disappointing given that mochi is pretty much the softest dessert you can get! I did, however, like the green tea soft serve...for $2, you can get a generous hit of matcha. A nice little dessert for the end of summer.

Rice workshop has a pretty little dining space for you to finish your meal in. There's even an upstairs area if you prefer your privacy. And it's complete with interesting lights in almost every corner...

The restaurant also provides the quintessential Melbourne alleyway experience - if you enter through their side entrance, you can see some pretty graffti decorating their walls. Just what every Melbourne-based quick-eatery should have :)

In conclusion, Rice Workshop is a great place for you to eat if you're on the run - it's cheap and easy with a comfortable space to dine's also pretty central in the CBD (right at the start of Chinatown from Swanston Street), so you won't have a hard time finding it. Service is pretty quick and quite friendly (the waitress even told me that she liked my t-shirt). In terms of food, I'd recommend the Ontama beef and the green tea ice-cream, but not the mochi (even though I liked the filling. No one should have to eat hard mochi). All in all, the meals were filling and pleasant.


Service: 9/10
Ambience: 8/10
Food: 15/20

Is it worth visiting? Yes, if you're in search of a quick bite or a casual, Asian eatery.
Price range: $ (You're looking at $7-$10 a bowl and about $2 for sides)

Rice Workshop on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Brunswick Mess Hall

Address: 400 Sydney Road, Brunswick, Vic, 3056
Phone: (03) 9388 0297

To say bye to one of my close buddies moving to Canberra, I visited The Brunswick Mess Hall for a group dinner. For some weird reason, I'd always walked past this joint in Brunswick and thought it was more of a formal function space than a casual restaurant or bar. But I'm glad my friend suggested The Brunswick Mess Hall because it was a really nice venue with flavoursome Asian cuisine!

Between the six or so of us, we shared a couple of dishes. My favourite of the night was the Szechuan Pepper Squid. The squid pieces were lightly battered and fried, so it was crunchy and there was more squid than batter to enjoy. I didn't actually taste too much pepper, let alone that of the Sze-chuan variety (the real hot stuff), but I liked it better that way as I could eat it with lime and sweet chilli sauce instead. The little bed of salad was delicious with its mint, onion and lime juice combination...spicy, sweet and sour....

I also put down the order for some Yakatori sticks. They came quickly enough and looked great on the plate...

But they were a little too salty for my liking. It was nice chicken, though it would have done better with a little less sauce. We also tried the Pad Thai, both vegatarian and non-vegetarian. (I feel like there was a photo... but I don't know where. I'll upload if found). Both were quite hot, so I'd recommend it only if you enjoy spicy food. I feel like it differed a lot from my favourite type of Pad Thai, but it was still quite tasty with lots of beanshoots.

During the night, we found it a tad bit difficult to catch the attention of the bar staff to which we were suppose to hand in our order (self-tick order sheet system)...But it was a busy, busy Friday night and the staff were really attentive and nice when they had the time. Also, our cocktails came out reasonably quickly. I ordered a 'Tromba Cooler' from the menu mainly because I saw the words 'pandan vanilla syrup' and the Malaysian in me got really excited...

I liked the Tromba Cooler because you could really smell and taste the Pandan Vanilla syrup. So it felt like a pandan chiffon cake had been pleasantly blended into my drink. On the flip side, I couldn't really taste any pineapple. Still, it was a pleasant, tropical cocktail and I enjoyed the pandan too much to have any real complaints.

A few nights later, when I found myself in the same area, I wondered in to try the other cocktail that I had been eying over: The Sakura Fizz. It was a pretty little thing and was quite fragrant due to the rose and honey elements. If egg white sounds odd as an ingredient, have no fear! It does nothing to the taste. You only get the tequila and fruitiness of all it all - a good drink for summer, particularly if you enjoy sour flavours. The second visit was on a Wednesday night and there were far fewer people. The staff were even more attentive and friendly on that day and the speed of service improved dramatically.

The venue itself was something to enjoy with its creeping vines, animal projections and dangling lights. There was a DJ on the Friday night spinning tracks at the back, but you could enjoy a more intimate conversation up front, in one of the comfortable little rooms...

All in all, The Brunswick Mess Hall was great fun....colourful, vibrant and messy in a good way. This applied also to the food and drinks. I enjoyed the cocktails, with their inclusion of fun Eastern elements and patterned straws. I also thought the food menu offered a good selection of old favourites. While I wouldn't call it the best Asian food I've tasted, nor the most creative, I will say that they offer flavoursome, crowd-pleasing I'd recommend The Brunswick Mess Hall for functions or big dinners, where there's a lotta crowd-pleasing and entertaining to be done!


Service: 8/10
Ambience: 9/10
Food: 15/20

Is it worth visiting? Sure, it's a cool, vibrant space with flavoursome old favourites.
Price range: $$$ (You're looking at $12-$28 per dish)

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