Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Secret Kitchen, Melbourne CBD

Secret Kitchen is a relatively new entrant into the Cantonese segment of Chinese restaurants. However in the last 5 years or so, it is has grown to become one of my favorite Chinese restaurants.

With many traditional dishes on the menu, I can confidently bring my parents here and know that they will find more than just Kung Po chicken and Sweet and Sour pork.

Hence, I was exceptionally excited when I received an invite to attend Secret Kitchen's special Road to Coonawarra dinner. This turned out to be an exceptionally memorable six-course dinner featuring exquisite Cantonese dishes, paired with wines from Katnook Estate.

My favourite course was the starter of crispy and succulent suckling pig, paired with slightly chewy jelly fish. Also worth a mention was the wagyu beef in black bean sauce served with Secret Kitchen's signature fried rice. In addition to many glasses of superb wine, we were also privy to the winemakers' secrets, and learnt about aspects of the wine making process. All in all, a great night!

Secret Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

St. Zita's Cafe, Glen Huntly

Funny story about this one. A few months ago, we were at a friend's wedding, chatting to one of my other high school friend's dad. Him and T were talking about T's new venture, and my friend's dad was recounting to T how he did some of his consulting work out of a local cafe.

So imagine our surprise when we visited St Zita's and saw S, my friend's dad, perched near the door, working away. He comes here so much, that he doesn't even order off the menu anymore, as they know exactly what he's after.

Us however, being our first time here, eagerly consulted the menu to assess what was on offer. I decided on the green eggs and ham, in which the green eggs refer to pesto scrambled eggs mixed with Israeli cous cous. The dish is also served with vine tomatoes, a chunky piece of ham steak, and thick slices of toast. A novel combination, which to their credit, works rather well.

St. Zita's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, June 24, 2016

Sartoria, Preston

Recrafted out of an old dressmaking workshop, and located in the recently hip suburb of Preston, Sartoria epitomises everything that has been happening in the area.

The sewing machines, fabric, mannequins and other relics are all still there, but they have become mere reminders.

This has now become a hip cafe with a sophisticated menu, which pays homage to the site's sartorial history. Menu items include The Seamstress, The Designer, and The Machinist.

One of the most popular dishes is The Necchi, consisting of sticky black rice pudding, banana, lychee,  young coconut black chai jelly, and matcha foam. 

Also worth a mention is The J+C. In an impressive feat of culinary correctness, this manages to be V, VG, and GF all at once, with layers of panelle, buffalo mozarella, heirloom tomatoes, topped with 3 basils, black olive wafer, and smashed avocado.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Saint Lucia, Windsor

This is a casually eclectic, cosy wine and tapas bar located in Windsor. The menu is full of Caribbean inspired tastes, such as grilled corn on the cob and fried plantains, as well king fish ceviche and jerk salmon. One of my favorites, salt cod fritters, are also not to be missed. For the health conscious brigade, try the DF, GF and vegan dish of smoky roasted cauliflower served with remoulade sauce. That is before we even get to the rest of the menu.

For something larger to share (or not), try the beef brisket, or the maple chili pork ribs. Pair these with some mac & cheese or some green beans with mole for an even more satisfying feed. The buttermilk fried chicken and the jambalaya both caught my eye as well, and I’ll have to find an excuse to come back soon!

The portion sizes aren’t too big, but the flavors are intense, and the larger dishes are quite dense. Combined with a tantalizing drinks list, this is a perfect venue for an intimate date or a catchup with friends. Run by a devoted husband and wife team, the service is warm and lovely and we almost felt like we were being treated to dinner by some good friends at their new home.

Saint Lucia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Okra, Hawthorn

Okra is a cosy restaurant in Camberwell serving up delicious Malaysian, Thai, and SE Asian cuisine. The menu features a number of traditional dishes, and the weekend menu expands to include many hawker style favorites.

We visited on a Sat night and was happy to see that many locals had the same idea. Soon after our arrival, the space was almost fully filled up. Impressively, two experienced wait staff managed to look after everyone throughout the whole evening dinner service. 

Our selections for the night were the salt and pepper soft shell crab, beef san choi bao, popiah rolls, and a chicken curry. The popiah rolls are absolutely amazing, and only available as a part of the weekend hawker menu, so if you are in on the weekend, make sure you nab a serve.

There are still a number of delicious dishes that I am keen on tasting, and so we will certainly look to come back very soon.

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

Paradise Road, Glen Waverley

Paradise Road is a delightful Thai restaurant in Glen Waverley, serving up a range of authentic and tasty dishes.

The menu includes many traditional favorites such as tom yum soup, fish cakes, and the red duck curry. However it also features many more intriguing options such as pineapple fried rice, served in an actual pineapple half, as well fresh oysters, and impressively whole barramundis. The menu is thoughtfully constructed to appease different diners with ease.

My favorite category, desserts, are just fabulous here. We had two desserts, both of which featured water chestnuts. Lucky for me, I LOVE water chestnuts, especially the sweetly pink, glutinous jelly coated type served at Paradise Road.

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

Thursday, June 9, 2016

East Ivy, Ivanhoe

T got the idea about Ivanhoe around the same time that East Ivy came onto my radar, so it was kind of perfect. We visited two auctions (one for development and one that was way out of our price range, near The Boulevard) before our scheduled brunch, and even though I didn't bid, I was pumping with adrenaline by the time I arrived at East Ivy.

East Ivy is in a well chosen spot, underneath a block of residential apartments, located just around the corner from the main strip of shops. East Ivy provides specialty coffees and a modern menu to a local demographic with plenty of purchasing power and epicurean tastes.

East Ivy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ten One Ate, Essendon

We visited Ten One Ate one weekend to sample the menu after seeing some glorious pictures online. We were also excited to learn that it is one of the area’s few organic cafés.

There are many amazingly photogenic and Instagrammable dishes on the menu, including the extremely spectacularly constructed Nutella French Toast, topped with mascarpone, fresh strawberries, maple syrup, and raspberry dust.

Even more importantly, the café is actually well supported by locals, including many families, who come frequently for a good quality feed. Now there’s a sustainable business strategy.

The green ethos is also reflected in the menu design as well as the décor, which features a green wall of plants and herbs. 

Ten One Ate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato