Sunday, 28 August 2011

Nam Loong Chinese Restaurant

223 Russell St
Melbourne, 3000

Not to be confused with Nam Loong Seafood Restaurant, this little hole in the wall on Russel Street serves up some of the best pork buns I’ve had on this side of the world. Sitting in a cabinet at the entrance, you can choose to have them hot out of the steamer, or cold to take home and hoard. 

Pork Bun ($1.80)

And if pork doesn’t float your boat, try chicken.

Chicken Bun ($1.80)
And if chicken (full of delicious mince and mushrooms and corn kernels) still doesn't float your really strange boat, there’s an assortment of other buns you can choose from, including chinese sausage, red bean, and black sesame paste. Now get yourself down there and stock up, they’re open until 2am!

Rating: 14/20 – Best Pork Buns

Nam Loong Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop

234 Russell St
Melbourne, 3000

Well, this is awkward. Somehow, I managed to have forgotten all about this visit, and the photos have been sitting in my blog archive from all the way back in April. Which is weird, considering that I quite enjoyed this meal, and I was proud of the fact that I had pho from a place in the CBD other than Mekong. So without further ado, I present... Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop!

One cold April Friday,
I was craving some pho.
So after uni finished,
Off to the city we go (and yes I know that it’s pronounced ‘fur’, but c’mon, how many words rhyme with fur compared to fo?)

Chris and I shivered,
As we entered the small shop.
But the warm bright interior,
Soon made the shivering stop.

We were quickly acknowledged,
And given a place to sit.
The menu was short and simple,
But we didn’t mind a bit.

Beef Brisket Pho ($8.5, Small)

A little while longer,
I was handed my meal
$8.50 for beef brisket pho?
Oh what a wonderful deal!

To my utter delight,
The soup lacked MSG.
That was evident by the fact,
That I wasn’t oh-so-thirsty.

But wait! I hear you say,
What if my bowl is too small?
An extra dollar will get you medium,
And for another dollar, tall.

Pho Condiments

Pho being what it is,
It has to have some green.
A pile of sprouts and Thai basil,
Scrubbed so very clean.

Grilled Pork Chop, Fried Egg, Shredded Pork with Broken Rice ($9)

Grilled Pork Chop, Fried Egg,
Shredded Pork with Broken Rice,
For a measly 9 dollars,
Chris declared this ‘very nice’.

Juicy pork and a sunny egg,
Some cucumber and pickles too.
This meal is simple but nourishing,
The flavours fresh and true.

Soup and Fish Sauce
Pork, egg, vegetables and rice,
Wasn’t all the last dish had.
Some fish sauce (that we didn’t use),
And a soup that’s not half bad!

We will visit again?
Oh I wager we will.
For some delicious pho,
And a fairly small bill!

Rating: 14/20 – MSG-less pho!

Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 20 August 2011


297 Exhibition St Shop 2
Melbourne, 3000

What’s your idea of a healthy lunch? For me, it’s always been sushi, until I realised how much mayonnaise and fatty cuts of sub-par meat (not all of them, but still an unfortunate majority) they put in there. So rice papers rolls seemed to be the natural switch. To be honest, I didn’t like rice paper rolls until fairly recently, the smell and the taste of the rice paper has always put me off. But something clicked in me practically over-night (this happened with scallops too), and I suddenly find myself making enough rice paper rolls to last me through a medieval siege. So when I heard that Sydney’s MissChu has opened a canteen-styled branch in Melbourne specialising in gourmet rice paper rolls and other little nibbles, I immediately scooped K up, and bundled him off for a spot of early dinner.

Me Amused!

If you had to use one word to describe MissChu, it would be quirky. From the drinks menu designed to look like a nutritional label (look up), to the upturned bowls serving as lamps (look down), the long, dark and narrow space is effortlessly Melbourne, and effortlessly cool. Even the ordering process is different – you tick the dishes you want from the ordering form with the pencils provided, hand it up at the counter, and wait for your food. Alternatively you could give them a call, and they’ll deliver your order to your door, not on motorcycles, but on electric bikes!  

Bad Lighting (and bad pun)

The menu certainly looks promising, comprising of various types of gourmet rice paper rolls (including an intriguing sashimi tuna one), some nibbles that wouldn’t look out of place at yum cha, and a selection of larger dishes, such as Vietnamese warm vermicelli salad, and wagyu beef pho.

Satay Chicken and Coconut Young/Tiger Prawn and Green Mango ($6.5 for 2)

But we’re here for the rice paper rolls. So we ordered a serve of Tiger Prawn and Green Mango rolls, as well as some Satay Chicken and Coconut Young rolls ($6.5 for a serve of 2) to share. To my disappointment, they came pre-packaged, but were thankfully still fresh. I bit into one, expecting a flavour explosion, but all I could taste was salad and the sauce (which was a lovely peanut sauce in a convenient little bottle), and none of the promised exotic ingredients. On the bright side, the rolls weren’t overwhelmed by rice noodles, and the little slip of paper keeping the rolls apart was a nice little touch.

Scallop and Prawn Steamed Dumplings ($6 for 3)

My stomach was reasonably satisfied by then, but K kindly offered me one of his Scallop and Prawn Steamed Dumplings ($6 for 3). They certainly looked the part, sitting on the plate all plump and shiny in a pool of sauce, and came with a much more reasonable price tag. And they would’ve been perfect, if the bottom hadn’t fallen open the moment we tried to pick them up. But I think I can overlook the slightly gluggy skin, for the dumplings themselves were stuffed generously with seafood, and the sauce that came with it was a tastebud-tingling mix of sesame oil and chilli.

Organic Raspberry and Apple Juice ($3.5)

And a Raspberry and Apple Juice ($3.5) for K as well, despite the fact that he’s going to go home after this and have a second dinner.

I’m not sure how sold I am on MissChu. On one hand, their dumplings are enough to bring me back for a repeat visit, but for $6.5, I’d much rather get 4 sub-par rice paper rolls from the food court, than 2 rolls with gourmet ingredients that I couldn’t taste.

Rating: 11/20 – Good Sauces

MissChu on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Laksa King

6 - 12 Pin Oak Crescent
Flemington, 3031

‘Rub my tummy! It’ll bring you good laksa!’ chortled Chris as we walked out of Laksa King. And what could possibly bring CBD-dwellers like us out to Flemington on a cold Friday morning? The promise of fantastic laksa by my good Malaysian friends, Jan and Nick. And whilst I judge most Malaysian restaurants by their Fried Kway Teow, I simply couldn’t go past a dish that was ‘almost the same as it was back home’.


What started out as a dingy little spot down a side alley (or so I’ve heard), Laksa King has since then moved to a newer, bigger (though no less busy) location just around the corner. And despite the canteen-like feel to it, it really is a pleasant, airy space to eat in. The tables are wooden and spacious, the lights hanging from the ceiling are almost artsy, and there’s even a bamboo partition at the back of the restaurant. We were impressed.

Combination Laksa ($9.2)
We ordered a bowl of Combination Curry Laksa (mixed noodle with shrimp, fishcake, and chicken, $9.2) to share. My hopes were raised high as the bowl was placed in front of us, and a sip of the soup confirmed my suspicious – this laksa is, I daresay, the best laksa I’ve ever had! There was just the right amount of spice to keep both chilli-eaters (me) and non-chilli-eaters (Chris) happy, and the coconut milk buoyed the flavours along, as opposed to dragging them under. Toppings were generous, and the noodles weren’t ‘bulked up’ by a stack of bean sprouts at the bottom. Who cares if the old Laksa King was supposedly better, this was more than good enough for us to slurp up every last drop!

Roti ($4.5)

And a serve of (extremely over-exposed) Plain Roti ($4.5) was perfect for dipping into the laksa soup, even if it isn’t ‘proper’ roti.

Will we return? Oh yes, most certainly, even if it’s just for the Laksa, for I doubt either of us would ever want anything else.

Rating: 15/20 – Come and get your laksa tummy!

Laksa King on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Rose Garden BBQ

435 Elizabeth St
Melbourne, 3000

Ignorance is bliss, so forget everything you’ve ever heard about Rose Garden BBQ. Forget rumours of queues out the door (true), forget whispers of grotty floors and zero d├ęcor (also true), and forget tales of sharing a two person sized table with 3 other strangers (also unfortunately true). Instead, remember what Rose Garden BBQ does the best – delicious, fast food at low low prices.

Cripsy Skin Pork Omelette on Rice ($9.5)

I would still be trying to pick what I want from the extensive menu if it weren’t for their ‘top 10’ list of dishes to order, which led us to the Crispy Skin Pork Omelette on Rice ($9.50) – number 4 on the list. What arrived on our table looked bad enough to be called ‘chef’s surprise’, a huge indiscernible lump covered in gravy. And what a delicious indiscernible lump it was! Under the egg omelette and sauce (great for mopping up excess rice and adding extra calories) lay chunks of juicy roast pork, all of the pieces covered in glorious crackling, which stayed miraculously crunchy until the very end.

Wonton Soup ($4.5)

The Wonton Soup ($4.5) left a little more to be desired in the flavour department, but kudos to Rose Garden for not using (much?) MSG in the soup, which meant I wasn’t left reaching for my water bottle after drinking it.

This definitely isn’t the sort of place you bring a first date to; in fact, I wouldn’t even recommend brining a not-so-close friend here, considering how close you'll have to sit. But getting a couple of dishes for take away (50c surcharge for each box) and surprising your sweetheart will definitely earn you brownie points.

Rating: 14.5/20 – take-away

Rose Garden BBQ on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Naked For Satan

285 Brunswick St
Fitzroy, 3065

Let me tell you about last Friday, when Chris and I got Naked.

Naked for Satan that is, the hottest new(ish) bar in Fitzroy. Along with a decent range of drinks, they also do little bite sized snacks called pinxtos (80c/ea during weekday lunch and Monday-Wednesday dinner, $2/ea all other times), which are basically various toppings speared on a slice of baguette with a toothpick.


There’s a good variety of cold pinxtos laid out along the bar for you to take as you please, and every few minutes a waiter will come around with a plate of hot pinxtos. They operate by the honour system here – take your pinxtos, and keep the little toothpick they come with to take up to the counter at the end, and pay for however many you’ve eaten. And whilst you’re free to gorge yourself on as many pinxtos as you want, they recommend that you buy at least one drink so they make enough money to keep themselves in business. And because 12pm is too early to be drinking vodka, we got some Bundaberg Ginger Beer ($4.8) instead, and then proceeded to fill our tummies with pinxtos. Here is a list of all the ones we tried:

Tortilla and Aioli
Smoked Salmon
Chorizo on Cream Cheese
Pea Puree with Scallop
Jamon Serrano
Garlic Field Mushrooms with Carrot Puree
Pork Terrine
Garlic Prawn and Cauliflower
Rice Ball on Cream Cheese

Sweet Corn Croquette
Veal Schnitzel
Lamb Meatball
Tuna Croquette
Beef and Parmesan Meatball
Veggie Stack with Goats Cheese
Green Olive and Chilli Croquette

More Pinxtos

I know I know, we’re pigs, but it can’t be helped when there are so many delectable looking morsels on offer. I’ll say right off the bat that the hot pinxtos are definitely much better than the cold pinxtos, with standouts being the Sweet Corn Croquette for me, and the Veal Schnitzel for the boy, but there are quite a few on that list that I’d be happy to go back for. The cold ones were nice and fresh, but less inspiring, though I did really enjoy the Garlic Field Mushrooms with Carrot Puree, with big meaty slices of juicy mushroom draped across the top.

Vintage Pornography Wallpaper

And even though Chris and I weren’t the ones getting naked, there sure were lots of naked pictures in the bar – on the back of drinks list, covering a whole wall, and even on the plates. Made us wonder why some mums came with their 4 year olds but hey, who are we to tell them how to raise their kids!

Rating: 14/20 – pinxtos! Pinch-osss!

Naked For Satan on Urbanspoon

Friday, 5 August 2011

Cumulus Inc

45 Flinders Ln
Melbourne, 3000

Slow and steady wins the race. Somehow I don’t think that applies here. I’m pretty sure I’m doing nothing but lose by being possibly the last Melbourne foodie to visit Cumulus Inc. This one-hatted eatery is known for unpretentious fine dining, and for using top-notch ingredients. And finally, finally, I’ll get to experience that first-hand on a sunny Friday morning for, you guessed it, brunch.

Alcomohol! At 11am!

 Arriving just in time to join the last of the brunch-goers, we sat down at the tall marble bench that looked right into the open-plan kitchen. Why pay for a meal and a show when you can have both in one go! And everything was perfect, right down to the little bag hooks under the bench, until the waitress came over, placed a couple of menus in front of us, and uttered the words that broke my heart.

Obligatory Menu Shot

‘There is no Reuben Sandwich today’

I may or may not have let out a wail of despair at this point.

Shakshouka (baked eggs with roasted peppers and marinated Persian feta, $16)

But the Reuben sandwich was all but forgotten when the Shakshouka (baked eggs with roasted peppers and marinated Persian feta, $16) landed in front of me. Still bubbling a little in a shallow pan, and served with a thick slice of sourdough toast drizzled liberally with fantastic olive oil, it proved to be absolutely delicious on a cold winter morning. As much as I hate to say this, it leaves the baked eggs at Hardware Societe for dead.

Pain de'epices with Poached Quinces & Prunes, Sheep's Milk Yoghurt ($15)
Pain for breakfast? Absolutely! So after lots of humming and hawing, we decided on the Pain d’epices with Poached Quince & Prunes, Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt ($15), which wiki tells me is a French spice cake. They were generous with the soft poached quince, and whole prunes were used, as opposed to little dicey bits. The cake itself was wonderfully spiced, albeit slightly dry, though the slightly sour sheep’s milk yoghurt was more than enough to counterbalance that. Cake in the morning without a side of guilt? Yes please!

Madeleine Filled with Lemon Curd ($2.5ea)

But wait! There’s more! We couldn’t leave without sampling the much raved about Madeleine Filled with Lemon Curd ($2.5ea). After a 15 minute wait, they were brought out covered with sugary snow. Now, don’t get me wrong, these are very very yummy – warm, buttery, with a pleasantly sour lemon curd inside, but I guess after reading all those fantastic reviews, I was expecting something a little more mind-blowing. All that said though, I would love to have one of these with my morning coffee, especially when they’re so fresh.

Even though they were setting up for lunch by the time we finished our meal, our waitress still asked us if we’d like anything else, maybe some coffee or juice? And I absolutely loved that, not feeling like we’re being rushed out at the end of a meal. Now that’s what I call good service.

Rating: 15.5/20 – Delicioushakshouka

Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon