Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tower Sushi, Melbourne CBD

With a knack for picking locations, Tower Sushi has managed to mark its presence at one of Flinders St station, Southern Cross station and in Southern Cross Lane near where I work. Southern Cross Lane is one of the busiest laneways during the working week, due to its close proximity to the nearby office buildings.  
Tower Sushi is an easy choice because it caters to both the health conscious and the less health conscious eater. Sushis here are average sized, and fairly priced. There is also a good selection of snacks here, including my most relied upon and trusted source of comfort, the okokomiyaki, for under five bucks.
In fact, the food here is always good value for money, and always tasty. Tower Sushi has done well over the last few years to fend off increasing competition from new names which have set up shop in Southern Cross Lane. Compared to its closest competitor, Dumpling King, which is located next door, it seems to run a far more effective business, getting people in and out of the door with far more expediency which is crucial in a volume driven business.
Tower Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wood N Chimney, Melbourne Central

For no good reason, I was craving a pizza and some calamari. I ordered eagerly just a little after 4:00pm, and chose 5:15pm as my appointed time for delivery. I received a text at 4:16pm, confirming that my order would be delivered at 5:15pm. I waited in exciting anticipation for my cravings to be satiated. At 5:05pm, I completed my daily trading update. At 5:31pm, I was growing irritable, and called the restaurant to enquire. The person who answered my phone told me that the order had already left and would be there “any minute now”. Well it wasn’t there. In fact, it took another ten minutes for my food to be delivered, at 5:41pm – a good 26 minutes after the specified and confirmed time of delivery.

Here is a lesson in managing expectations. There were three opportunities to manage my expectations. (1) At the outset, 5:15pm should not have been offered on the Menulog platform, if the business may struggle to cope with meeting such a demand. (2) Once they received my order, the business should have assessed their ability to meet this deadline and made any revisions accordingly. (3) When I called to inquire about the status of the order, it would have been a good time explain to me the cause of any delay, and give me an accurate ETA rather than another ambiguous estimate.

As for the food itself, I liked the calamari, and the pizza, but wasn’t too convinced by the chorizo and avocado salad. The combination sounded great in theory, but didn’t taste as sensational as it could have. One issue was the lack of creamy avocado pieces to bring it all together. On their own, the hard dryness of the rocket leaves, and the firmness of the chorizo meat, didn’t complement each other so well.  By contrast, the pizza had a balanced ratio of toppings to crust, and even the crust itself was highly edible.  The calamari was no longer crispy when it arrived, however still tasted quite robust, and even came with a wedge of lemon and a little tub of tartare sauce.

From a presentation perspective, I was less than impressed with the ill-chosen containers, and crumpled plastic bags. Thoughtful packaging is an indication of an inherent respect and passion for food, but I didn’t get a sense of this with these vendors.

Wood 'n Chimney Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sam Sam, Melbourne CBD

Located on one of the busiest parts of Swanston St, Sam Sam automatically benefits from an incessant flurry of foot traffic. 

It is certainly popular and even when we came by for an early week night dinner, we were told that all the seats near the back were taken. Never mind, we perched ourselves on some seats near the front and got ourselves some menus.
The place was starting to fill up quickly, and to beat the crowds, we made our choices pretty quickly. I ordered at the counter in my eagerness to accelerate the process and soon enough our drinks arrived. This was a good sign. I had ordered a black soy bean drink for myself and a coconut jelly drink for T, and both were quite delicious. T was so taken with MY drink, that we ended up swapping, because of the marvellously kind human being that I am.  

Halfway through our drinking, we had to flag down a waitress for some water. The drinks, whilst delicious, were also potently sweet. Not too long after that, a sizzling plate of fried tofu and rice, topped with chili vegetables was delivered to our table. It smelled wonderful and we tucked in with gusto. The tofu was nicely done, the rice was satisfying and the chilli vegetables on top were tasty. I would have preferred a touch more salt in addition to the spiciness, but that might have just been my personal preference.
We ate slowly and frugally through the spicy tofu as we were still waiting on the sweet soy chicken that I had ordered. As we got halfway through it, there were still no signs of my dish.
Sam Sam Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

No1 Spicy Pot, Melbourne CBD

This is another one of my recent discoveries on Menulog. Online ordering taps into a new wave of restaurants taking advantage of e-commerce opportunities. 

It's a fantastic way for these smaller, lesser known operators to increase their exposure to a much larger pool of potential customers, than they would otherwise have access to. 

NO 1. Spicy Pot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

ACMI Lounge, Melbourne CBD

We were pleasantly surprised that a museum cafe without table service could serve up such excellent dishes. We were merely there for the convenience and the ambiance, but the dishes impressed us with their quality, generosity and presentation.

ACMI Lounge Café and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Roti Road, Noodle Market

Just after the rain stopped one cool Friday night, we wandered into the Noodle Markets. as we had anticipated, the crowds were thin and we did the rounds assessing the best option to try out.  

We did the round sand settled on Roti Road as there was already an impressive little gathering, to give us confidence that their offering was good enough to attract some custom. Although, being one of the more sizable operations, we hoped that would mean more staff and less waiting time. 

Sure enough, T had barely had time to put his change back into his pocket, and our order was all ready. For a mere $10, we received 4x fragrant satay chicken skewers that were juicy and tender.

Roti Road Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Kawaii Japanese Curry, Melbourne CBD

Discovered this convenient Japanese curry specialist via Menulog. I was experiencing a particularly insufferable patch at the office, and craved some rice to soothe the soul. I knew that brown rice, or basmati rice, or jasmine rice just wasn't going to cut it, because, what my wretched soul was really craving was some familiar plump white rice. 

There weren't many viable options that were going to offer me that at barely 5 minutes past 5, and Kawaii was one of the few which themselves as open. I ordered and then received a text message advising me the order would be delivered at 6:40pm. An already trying day suddenly just became a lot worse. In my hangry state, I lodged a complain with Menulog, and had the order cancelled. Instead I got myself some soothing spicy dishes from a Chinese vendor.

However, I was given credit to use with Kawaii, and ordered from them the next night, as the week was only becoming more excruciating. I ordered a few things from the menu and applied my credit, and waited patiently for an estimated time of delivery. At it turned out, some of the items available on the Menulog website wasn't actually available, and so I had to change my order. I wasn't too happy about that, but I was however placated by their speedy communication and their suggestions.

When the food did arrive, it was delicious, and proved to be very good value for money. Their nameplate dish, Japanese curry on rice was rich, flavourful, and nourishing. I had chosen mine with chicken katsu which presented itself extraordinarily well. I enjoyed both the thick and juicy piece of chicken, and the perfectly golden layer of crispy crumbing. To complete the combination, there was also a generous dose of corn and cheese which I had requested as extra toppings. 

As sides, I had an oknomiyaki, and some takoyaki balls. Both tasted nice, but were perhaps a  bit skimp on fillings. Compared to the curry, these seemed rather ordinary. I was reminded in this instance that sometimes, it's better to honor elected specialties, and not to stray too far from the nameplate.

 Kawaii Japanese Curry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Robert Burns, Collingwood

Named after a Scottish poet, this pub is actually specialises in Spanish food. The venue still looks like an old Scottish pub, with a well-stocked bar, comfortable sofas, and a roaring fire. Upstairs is a function room with its own private bar, which N and E had booked for their baby shower lunch. 

As soon as the group had assembled, sangria was brought out to whet the appetite. The sweet sweet nectar was a welcome replenishment. We were also offered wine, and soon enough, an abundance of tapas. 

There was plenty of cured meats and piping hot croquettes, served on rustic wooden boards. My favourite of the lot was the beautifully crumbed calamari, which was soft to bite into, but firm enough to chew for taste, and came hot and crunchy.

There was also a serve of nicoise salad, which whilst having dubious Spanish connections, was a nice and refreshing option for the health conscious amongst the group. At this point, we were all feeling rather content.  

But then, out came these HUGE steaming pots of paella, filled with rice, chicken, prawns, mussels, pipi's, calamari, and other delicious things. 

Robert Burns Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Trattoria Emilia, Melbourne CBD

What was once Gill's Diner has been transformed into the new Trattoria Emilia. With the promise of fine Italian food, we were of course rather keen to give it a go. But alas, I was besieged by work, and with the diminishing hope of dinner,  I had stuffed my face with desk-food to get me through the day. 

However, at the very last minute, the veil of darkness finally lifted itself and a light appeared at the end of the tunnel for my escape. Luckily for C, this meant that she didn't have to scale the impenetrable fortress of the 120 building to unchain me from my desk, something which she had kindly offered / threatened to do. I made it to dinner, but being utterly full (yes, something  that I AM able to achieve, under extreme stress and duress), I couldn't partake in the eating part of dinner.

The other girls had ordered and I was pretty happy to sit and enjoy the fine company. As a food enthusiast, there is certainly something quite sombre, yet sobering about being a mere observer to a meal . 

A couple of general observations: intimate venue, lovely ambience, let down by a very average waiter. The food tries to emulate a rather rustic homely feel. Some dishes, such as the lasagne, were quite well received. However others, like the spaghetti bolognese wasn't really liked as much. Two girls at the table ordered it and neither finished their dish. This disappointment was only escalated when our waiter didn't even bother asking how they liked it. 

Trattoria Emilia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Pho n Roll, Richmond

One Friday night, T and I were too lazy to cook, move, or do anything really, except to eat. So we decided to order some takeaway to be delivered to our abode. We initially wanted Miss Chu, but after calling them, and being left to ring for too long, we decided to choose something off Menulog. Pho n Roll was one of the first to pop up in the area, and the menu seemed so similar to Miss Chu, so we went for it.

We got ourselves a feast of rice paper rolls, spring rolls, a bao for T, and mixed skewers, all of which came to ~$40, including delivery. It was certainly a bargain, and a bit cheaper than what might have been at Chu Chu's,

We ordered at a little past 8:30, and the order arrived by 9:25. Even more pleasantly surprising, was the fact that they successfully followed our comments, and managed to locate our notoriously difficult-to-find apartment in a huge block of illogically-numbered apartments. T and I were hugely impressed.

We were similarly impressed with the food which were well made, with good ingredients. The rice paper rolls were filled with filling, in reasonable proportion to the vermicelli, and the skewers used a diverse mix.  I also loved the fact that we were bestowed with an abundance of sauces and condiments - with Chu Chu's, I always seem to run out of sauce too early and too soon. in fact, the serving sizes were so generous, that we were left with plenty of left overs for the next day.

Pho n Roll offered a relaxed experience and a fantastic meal, and I would no doubt order from here again. 

Pho n Roll Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Gurkhas, Melbourne CBD

I ordered Gukhas takeaway off Menulog one night, and was surprisingly delighted by the food that came. The dumpling skin was light and the filling was tasty. The nann bread was soft and chewy  and filled with a dense potato filling. I had also ordered a scallops curry, and it was rich, and perfectly on point! 

Gurkhas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Hunky Dory, South Melbourne

One of the most popular hangouts in South Melbourne, it's always packed with both visitors and residents alike. We were lucky to snatch a table on a busy Sunday night, and as were right near the front entrance, we were given menus straight away. 

There was so much to choose from, and I of course wanted to try one of everything! However we were neither very hungry and in my case, I was kind of almost full, having gorged my way through, circular references, #VALUE's, #REF's and an altogether difficult Sunday at the office. 

Nevertheless, we shared a grilled fish, with salad and brown rice. T was in a healthy mood, and I went along with it as I thought his choices provided me with a fine barometer for measuring the freshness of the ingredients. There's just no hiding, without batter or crumbing. 

Ordering is done at the counter, and we got a number for the table. Despite how busy it was, our food arrived reasonably quickly and we were not disappointed with the quality of the taste. The serving portion was also quite generous and we congratulated ourselves on not over-ordering.

Hunky Dory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato