Thursday, 31 July 2014

Jinda Thai

1-7 Ferguson St 
Abbotsford, VIC 













Cha Yen ($3)



Boat Noodles with Beef and Flat Rice Noodle ($6, small)



Boat Noodles with Beef and Flat Rice Noodle ($6, small)



Chicken Larb ($12.9)



Massaman Curry ($14.9)



Pandan Cake with Ice Cream ($8.5)

Pandan Cake with Ice Cream ($8.5)




Jinda Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Monday, 28 July 2014

Kaprica

19 Lincoln Sq South 
Carlton, VIC


I’ve always been glad to live in a multicultural city, and even more so when I began this food blogging biz. But a part of me has always wondered – what if I was eating the ‘fake’ versions of all the delicious foods on offer around the world? Like that time in China where my grandparents bought me what they thought, honest to god, was real pizza. Except it had corn and frankfurts on it.

No, really. That's the restaurant.

After a couple trips overseas, I decided that what we have over here in terms of Japanese and Malaysian food is pretty good, ramen aside. And when I heard from a co-worker who just got back from Italy that she likes the pizzas at Kaprica just as much as what she had abroad, I was stoked. 




The vibe at Kaprica is to die for. Lazy jazz played in the background of an old warehouse, which has since been converted to a broodingly seductive dining room. We’re in Italy, no doubt about it. And not just any part of Italy – the bohemian part for sure. 


Marinated Olives ($7)

A bowl of Marinated Olives ($7) with a side of good bread works for me the same way wine works for other people, transitioning my day smoothly from work to relaxation. These dark olives were rich and bitter, immersed in a marinade that’s aromatic with garlic, but could’ve done with more citrus. 


Margherita ($10, 10 inch)

I’ll get straight to the point here – the Margherita ($10, 10 inch) is marvellous. The toppings were thrown about with joyful abandon, the fresh basil leaves, pockets of cheese, and ripe tomato paste the only garments the wafer- base needed. 



Salsiccia ($14, 10 inch)

A little more adorned was the Salsiccia ($14, 10 inch), a sausage pizza garnished with lively onion slivers, chunks of pork and fennel sausage that complemented instead of dominated, and (boldly) whole slices of chilli. Scattered on top was shredded parsley, its fresh aroma freed by the heat of the pizza.

I can easily say that these are some of the best pizzas I’ve had the pleasure of eating, and whilst I do like the margherita at Firechief more, there is something to be said about paying a tenner as opposed to more than twice that much. Plus the sausage pizza was plain amazing, and I’ve heard marvellous things about the salmon pizza too. Hidden in plain sight, Kaprica is a gem of a find, even if I wasn’t the one who found it.

Rating: 15/20 – kaptivating.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.

Kaprica on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Yim Yam Thai Laos

415 Mt Alexander Rd 
Ascot Vale, VIC 
http://yimyam.com.au/

Never judge a book by its cover, I say, except I don’t practice what I preach. I reject interesting-sounding books because it has an ugly design more often than I care to admit; I’ve even put down a book simply because I can’t stand the font and layout of the text – true story. And seeing as we’re admitting to personality flaws, I’ll admit to the fact that when I heard the name Yim Yam Thai Laos, I wasn’t exactly preparing myself for an authentic Southeast Asian dining experience.




Still, the restaurant itself is pleasing enough, and seemed to be quite a hit with the locals on a Friday night. The sound bounces off the high ceiling and bare walls, making intimate conversation nigh on impossible, but the overall vibe is one of warmth and comfort. 


Royal Golden Baskets ($8.9, 6pcs)

On first glance, the Royal Golden Baskets ($8.9, 6pcs) seemed to be pandering to the westernised palate, but it surprised me with how tasty it was. The warm chicken mince was alive with chilli and herbs, and was quite a tantalising little appetiser served in the crumbly fried pastry cups. 


Crispy Pork Strips ($11.9)/Yim Yam Sausage ($13.9)

Our platter of Crispy Pork Strips ($11.9) and Yim Yam Sausage ($13.9) was distinctly more folksy, and tastier for it. The house made sausage was pungent with spices and lemongrass, and the chewy strips of pork sported a sweet marinade with a hint of cumin in its smokiness. I knew I should’ve been saving room for dishes to come, but we cleared this plate in no time. 


Tom Yum Rice with Chicken ($13.9)

Speaking of saving room, fried rice is definitely not something I normally save room for. But an exception was made for the Tom Yum Rice with Chicken ($13.9), a dark horse that was arguably the most enjoyable dish of the night. Moist and aromatic, this fried rice presented a great depth of flavour, redolent with the distinctively piquant taste of kaffir lime, lemongrass, and fish sauce. 


Roasted Rice, Pork Sausage, and Coconut Salad ($13.9)

Roasted Rice, Pork Sausage, and Coconut Salad ($13.9)

I was really excited about trying the Roasted Rice, Pork Sausage, and Coconut Salad ($13.9) – Matt Preston’s Favourite! – as the menu proudly proclaimed. And the golden snaps of toasted rice, not unlike the kind you find at the bottom of good paella or bibimbap, was a boisterous play on textures. Tossed through with a mixture of fresh herbs, sausage, and a generous squeeze of lemon (the coconut was mysteriously absent), this was indeed a satisfyingly crunchy and moreish salad.  


Crispy Pork and Chinese Broccoli Stir Fry ($13.9)

We didn’t have a whole lot of room left by this point, so the Crispy Pork and Chinese Broccoli Stir Fry ($13.9) was greeted with a little less enthusiasm then it probably deserved. Despite being a simple dish of crisp vegetables in a chilli-soy base, it had a tantalising hint of peppercorns to it, coupled with strips of streaky pork belly, its skin crunchy from the wok.

So in the end, I wound up having a satisfying dinner at Yim Yam, despite my unfounded preconceptions. Though it’s not quite fully Thai, the menu goes beyond curry puffs to dishes such as papaya salad with salted crab, and their delectable house-made sausage. There are 5 or so branches of Yim Yam scattered all across Melbourne, and frankly, if I had one in my neighbourhood, you’d find me in their takeaway line for sure.

Rating: 14/20 – yim yum.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Moonee Valley City Council, hosted by Yim Yam Thai Laos.

Yim Yam Thai Laos on Urbanspoon

Monday, 21 July 2014

Suda

Healey's Laneway
550 Lonsdale St 
Melbourne 3000, VIC

It gets a bit hard to keep up with all the new and exciting restaurants popping up. Between life and writing my own blog, there’s not always enough time to trawl through news articles and blog posts. So it’s lucky that I ended up in a work place that loves good food just as much as me. So now, instead of going to the recommendations, the recommendations come to me. A recent one that caught my attention was Suda (thanks Mimi!), a Korean restaurant that does things just a little differently.



Though Asian restaurants aren’t usually known for having a focus on service, I have to say that Alice, the owner of Suda, went above and beyond. She was extra friendly and helpful, and just plain great for a chat. It gave the already cosy restaurant an extra bit of warmth and charm. Even Ethan thought so, and he’s been in the hospitality industry for the last 7 years.


Plum Mint Soju Cocktail ($6.5)

I don’t usually waste previous stomach space on drinks, but I’d make an exception for the beautiful Plum Mint Soju Cocktail ($6.5). Once stirred, the layered drink became a sparkling beverage flavoured with plum syrup and sprigs of mint, with just a hint of alcohol towards the end. 


Kimchi Fritters ($10)

The Kimchi Fritters ($10) were a great nibble to go with the drinks. Beneath the crisp exterior were juicy corn kernels and chewy diced calamari, bound with a spicy, fluffy batter.


Tteok-Galbi Skewers ($11)

Unwilling to give up on the snacks, we ordered a serve of Tteok-Galbi Skewers ($11). Marinated in a mix of apple, pineapple, and onions, the skewers of beef short rib were tender and meaty, the smokiness from the grill balanced out by the fruity sweetness in the marinade, and confit vegetables on the side. 



Chilli Seafood Spaghetti ($16)

For mains, we shared an indulgent serve of Chilli Seafood Spaghetti ($16). What that ended up being was a mixture of fresh mussels, charred prawns, and pieces of calamari in a simple tomato sauce. Standard enough, but then there was the addition of pickled chillies and a hint of wok hei. Though unusual, this was one of the most delicious pastas I’ve had for a while.

Suda is a little bit different, but quite a lot of fun.  Portion sizes were more than reasonable, and the food had some intriguing twists and turns whilst knowing its own boundaries. Definitely a gem of a find that’s good for an intimate dinner. And functions – they do those too.

Rating: 14/20 – suda visited sooner.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit. 

Suda on Urbanspoon