1 kit & kafoodle: May 2014

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Sugarhit: Bollywood

Sugarhit is a clever trio of monthly events dubbed as a “pop up festival with music and dessert” according to varying Asian inspired themes – Bangkok, Bollywood and K-Pop. These nights are put together by a trio of close businesses, Mork Chocolate, N2 Extreme Gelato and Lux Bite, working together to create something bigger than all of them individually. I was lucky to remember the Bollywood night was on and managed to arrive before everything was sold out and closed up for the night.

Set in a small space off Guilford Lane in Melbourne, Sugarhit fill up the space with a DJ and many people clamouring to get their hands on the limited edition concoctions. There are a few market-type stalls on the peripheries, as well as some savoury food provided by Krimper but I made a B-line straight for Mork’s Hot Chocolate station and ordered a Cardamom infused dark 70% hot chocolate with warm orange custard ($6). This truly was a dark and bitter 70% chocolate mix. The hint of orange came through but mostly as an aftertaste at the end. The cardamom flavour definitely made the drink more ethnic in line with the theme, but I wouldn’t go back for this hot chocolate. (My friend said it was the worst hot chocolate he had ever tasted in his life lol).

Moving on undeterred, I excitedly placed my order for all of LuxBite’s special desserts, as well as the LuxBitexN2 collab dessert. Looking back I probably should've opted for one of the special N2 ice-creams which sounded pretty interesting:
  • Tea Orgy: Darjeeling milk tea gelato with Ceylon shortbread, whipped assam tea cream & an orange pekoe tea caramel syringe (I love syringes!!)
  • Bombay Alaska: Mango sorbet, toasted coconut threads, meringue shards, tamarind & a torched meringue swirl.

The warm baba, citrus syrup, sweet neem leaves, custard, saffron honey gelato by N2, raisin, mukhwas, and yourself ($10) was a pricy dessert considering the serve you got. You only got half a small baba on your plate, and as expected it was very sweet and saturated with syrup. The saffron honey gelato was delicious and the best part of the dish. The custard helped bring down the sugharhit (ha!) but I feel the raisins didn’t add anything but a cheap attempt at adding texture to the dish.

The vanilla & cardamom rice pudding chocolate tart, pistachio cream, caramelised almond and awesome jalebi ($9) was strange. I don’t think the chocolate mixture had enough clarity to stand on its own, and there were a lot of nuts dispersed through the filling which meant you had to chew a lot rather than enjoy its taste. Everything just seemed to get lost amongst itself. The awesome jalebi was indeed awesome however; I can picture myself eating a whole lot of these snacks if I can figure out where to get them. The Jalebi is essentially a deep fried indian pretzel soaked in sugar syrup – the end result is a savoury sweet tasting morsel. That was a very nice inventive addition to the tart in line with the theme.

The tube of orange blossom panna cotta, mint compressed cucumber, watermelon yoghurt mousse, pistachio crumble and jasmine macaron ($9) was the best dish of the night. I am hesitant to lather praise on this idea as it seems very similar to what the titans of the tube, Burch & Purchese, are known for… except not as refined. But what’s good is good. The panna cotta was creamy, lovely and light and the cucumber crunch went really well with the whole dish (vegies in dessert whodathunk it! Pierre Roelof that’s who). The watermelon mousse really had a burst of watermelon flavour in it which was great, and the jasmine macaron tasted really nice.

I also bought The Wondersnack Co.’s limited edition Curried Popcorn with cold-brew & brown sugar caramel ($4) which was delicious and gone before I even realised I was nearing the end of the pack. There was a very strong curry flavour which made it strange initially, but then the cold brew caramel kicked in and it was a great flavour combination! I could snack on these all night long if only they weren't so expensive.

I am excited to see what the K-Pop theme has in store next month (6:30 - 11:30pm June 6th 2014).

TL;DR Check it out if you are a fan of any of the three stores, or are in need for a late night sugar hit!
LuxBite on Urbanspoon N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

Monday, 26 May 2014

Doughboys Donuts

Always a fan of the carb and of the donut, I trundled along to the semi-hidden leafy rooftop establishment which housed Doughboys (after hitting Queen Vic’s first of many monthly art markets, NEW CRAFT @ Queen Victoria Market). The set up was simple but effective, the display already setting my tastebuds in motion. We opted for a box of four ‘cos YOLOSWAGYOLO (and we couldn’t choose just one flavour).

Doughboys Donuts ($5.80) are not American Styled a-la-Krispy Kreme, but more a hulking dense doughnut on the mildly sweet side. Now they don’t come out hot (at least mine didn't) so they’re not like the other American Donut stand at Queen Vic churning out hot jam donuts to the waiting masses, but they are big and tasty, but only with the toppings.

The PBJ is a double dip favourite of peanut butter and fresh blueberry jam, finished off with roasted and crushed nuts. This was the sweetest in terms of the jam dip with berries, but I wished it had been dunked more.

Next up was Monkey Magic, a concoction of roast banana churned through Callebaut White Belgian chocolate icing with melted milk chocolate and Monsieur Truffe cocoa dusting. Yeah, it was as good as it sounds; my favourite donut of the day. You definitely got that taste of banana biting in, and chocolate always goes so well with banana.

The Charlie Brown chocolate pretzel and toasted nut brownie mixed into a Monsieur Truffe cocoa icing was decadent to say the least. I did want lots more brownie though, instead of the crumbs they sprinkled on top. I was expecting to get the brownie mixed into the donut batter, now THAT would be epic.

Lime Toast was a lovely subtle lemon and lime zested icing with toasted coconut, it was the tamest of the four but definitely had a nice kick to each bite. Surprisingly enjoyed this one, which shows you don’t need chocolate lathered onto your donuts to enjoy them!

TL;DR Get in early to get your donut hit, I'm hanging out to try Maple Bacon and Turkish Doughlight.

Doughboys Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

Friday, 23 May 2014

Basilico (for dessert)

After our Waya dinner, we drove a short distance to Basilico, as recommended by a fellow food blogging friend. We sat down to business, immediately ordering the two woodfired pizzette dolci (dessert pizzas!).

The Belgian dark chocolate & strawberry pizza was rich and enjoyable, but in the end I feel Max Brenner’s dessert pizza base wins out – being more soft and sweet to this crispy and not-as-sweet.

The banana & honey pizza was nice too, but again, nothing to write home about. They did however use good quality vanilla ice-cream, which is always appreciated.

TL;DR Give it a miss.
Basilico on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Waya Japanese Restaurant

We arrived at Waya on a Friday night and had to line up using their ticketing system - so remember to walk in and ask to be placed on the waiting list! Despite that, the wait wasn't too long and we were seated within half an hour.

The mixed large sashimi (15pc - $14) was deliciously fresh; the salmon and tuna were so sweet and tender, the scallop and surf clam were succulent. This is what Japanese dining is all about.

The Agedashi Tofu ($6) here is good, but nothing spectacular. The tofu is crispy on the outside and silken on the inside, and the broth plus bonito flakes finishes the dish off. Always a favourite of mine.

The Ebi Wasabi Mayonnaise ($9) deep fried prawns and mixed salad served in special wasabi mayonnaise were delicious if only for the saying “if it tastes good it’s bad for you”. Crunchy prawns drenched in bitey wasabi mayonnaise –need I say more?

Iced Matcha with Vanilla Ice-Cream ($5) super delicious and could have stood as a dessert alone. Think of it like a green tea milkshake, but not as thick.

The Geso Karaage ($7) is deep fried octopus tentacles served with mayonnaise and though it may sound delicious, I found Waya’s version to be slightly dried out and a little too crunchy without any real taste of the octopus underneath. Worst dish of the night, I would skip it next time.

I love Japanese croquettes (I fondly remember stumbling upon a tiny shop dedicated to croquettes – needless to say we went to town). These Deep Fried Crab Cream Croquette ($7) served with Japanese Vegetable Sauce were satisfactorily creamy and thus ticked my croquette box, but the vegetable sauce they were served with seemed a bit out of place and a bit too tangy for my liking.

The Takoyaki ($6.5) is one of my staples in a Japanese restaurant (and is kinda how I judge them, among other things). These takoyaki were pretty good, well done on the outside, not too soggy or squishy on the inside and with enough chunky octopus inside to satisfy.

Waya Maki ($12.5) essentially an inside out roll with salmon, cucumber, avocado, tobiko and spicy sauce. This is another of the greats of sushi rolls. Everything goes together so well, but really it’s the creamy sauce that brings this all together – and the pop of the roe tops it off!

The Chicken Skewers ($7) are tender and barbequed well, but are essentially just grilled chicken.

The Waya Chips ($6) with wasabi mayo are just some chips, nothing special.

TL;DR A nice Japanese establishment in Glenny, but beware the line.

Waya Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Waffle Club

I passed by this tuck-shop looking eaterie by chance when I was at the Queen Vic Market for the new monthly Sunday Craft Market. I of course, couldn't go past a store dedicated to waffles, so we stopped in for a quick snack (or two!).

The first dish I ordered was the Coconut Pandan Waffle with butter and kaya (sweet coconut spread), I was dubious but it looked like a special edition, so I gave it a shot. Turned out to be a great decision; the waffle was piping hot and crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside – cooked to perfection. The pandan flavour was evident and went so well with the melting butter and sweet kaya. I loved it.

Feeling like more sweetness, I ordered the Liege Banana Deluxe ($6) with chocolate topping, fresh banana, ice cream and almond flakes. This was unfortunately nowhere near as nice as the Pandan Waffle. It seemed to be harder in texture, not as sweet and had a stringy feel about the dough. It was sweet and the toppings were great but I prefer the Max Brenner Waffle recipe better.  

TL;DR Every time I am in the vicinity and they are open (seems to be only Fri-Sun) I will grab a Pandan Waffle, I suggest you do too!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Fish Shop - Sydney

I love burgers. I especially love trying new burgers. If I hear about a burger that will supposedly make my tastebuds go full Pharrell, it goes onto the burger list until such a time when I can finally cross it off, no matter the distance I have to travel or the weeks, months or years I have to wait. This is how a decade has passed and I’m still waiting for an In-N-Out burger.

Dan Hong’s cheeseburger had been on the list, ever since The Da and I first tried to eat Sydney in early 2012 (when we were young and naïve and thought it could be done in less than a week). Unfortunately, as we’d calorie-packed our schedule rather tight, we didn’t have time to visit erstwhile Merivale joint, Lotus, and I thought I’d missed my chance when they closed not too long after. Fear not, for the Merivale giants opened another restaurant in its place and permanently placed Dan’s famous cheeseburger on The Fish Shop’s menu. Apparently, it’s just that good. 

Still, it took me more than two years after that to finally get around to meeting it, face to burger. Of course, on the day of our date, the only time I could get to Potts Point was in the two-hour block jammed in-between my post-lunch snack and my degustation dinner. (No one can say I’m not dedicated to honing my craft…mmm, Kraft!) And it was already taking at least an hour to get there, on foot and full stomach. Likely, it was the Skinny Gods attempting to sway me from my gluttonous path, to do the right thing by my waistband and simply wait for my eight-course evening meal (it in itself already frowned upon by those judgemental bony deities), to save me from the diabeetus down the track. 

So of course, I pushed on in the way I never do at the gym. 

The Fish Shop is like a big, bright hole in the wall – which, frankly, is the best kind of wall-hole really – half-beach shack, half-fish and chippery. Funnily enough, fish motifs can be found aplenty here. 

  Naturally, I claimed the octopus, so as to not be one with the crowd.
Individuality is my burden to bear.

As previously agreed upon, one cheeseburger was ordered to share, although The Om almost caved at the crumbed fish, bacon and chilli burger also on the menu. It was, however, too late for the Moreton bay bug roll, which had caught our greedy little eyes when we sat down, and so it had to be ordered too. It appeared to be the size of my fist, I rationalised; it would almost be like not eating a second item at all! The Skinny Gods jutted their pointy chins out at me in disgust.    

 Moreton bay bug roll - $12.50

My fist, while almost hilariously tiny, was packed with flavour from first to second (and last) bite. Fresh and zingy, with the creamy mayo bringing out the sweetness of the flesh, it made for a good appetiser. And then I tried the Moreton bay bug roll. HAHA JOKES.

Dan’s cheeseburger came with some great chips, and great chips as an accompaniment are too few and far between. These were lovely things, all thick-cut, crunchy and well-seasoned. Good chips pave the way for great burgers, but great chips can elevate good burgers.

Dan's famous cheeseburger - $18

And this cheeseburger? It was a good burger. The parade of flavours and seasonings rolled on here and delivered a tasty, rare beef patty, slapped together with some bacon, pickles, caramelised onions, tasty cheese, sauce and mayo, in a soft bun. It wasn’t the product of some gastronomical experiment, nor did it boast of fancy ingredients – it was simply all the elements of a burger done well. For the sake of nit-picking, the bun didn’t hold up until the end, becoming a tad soggy for the last few bites. Not soggy enough for me to leave it to die on the plate though, mind you. The Skinny Gods licked their cracked, lipid-deficient lips in envy.

TL;DR - Would Dan’s famous cheeseburger warrant another visit to The Fish Shop? Probably. If I can still fit into my pants.

The Fish Shop on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Tea Cosy - Sydney

Trips to Sydney in my adulthood have always meant only one thing: food. (It also goes without saying that trips to Sydney always mean something else: fat.) While Melbourne, no doubt, is an established foodie’s wet dream, going to Sydney solely to pig out on carefully selected and researched items, one right after the other, does tend to colour the latter city more flavoursome, more mouth-watering, and altogether more foodie-ful, particularly in hindsight. It’s as if Sydney is nothing but a giant, delicious smorgasbord. (For tourists and the like, Sydney is probably more than just food porn. Pity the fools.)

The most recent trip kicked off with a hike to The Rocks to score me some scones from a twee little house-shop, the Tea Cosy. These scones had been on a list leftover from my last visit and they were supposed to be pretty damn good bits of baked dough – like Nana used to make! Even though I never had a ‘Nana’! We showed up in the early afternoon on a surprisingly warm autumn day, and walked into a very dark, slightly stuffy townhouse, the front part of which appeared to be some sort of gift shop – I don’t know, I was there for scones. The back part housed the tea room: a kitchen, a dining room, and shelves of owl-shaped tea cosies. 

Squinting in the dark to read the menu, we decided to get Devonshire Tea ($12.50 per person) and opted to get one of each scone for our basket – plain, cherry and almond, currant, cheddar and thyme. Our jam selections were apricot (even though I urged The Om to pick fig and ginger) and paw paw, lime and passionfruit (which I had been eyeing on the menu for about six months, no lie). Being that the day was unseasonably warm, we bypassed the traditional hot tea and opted for the iced varieties: mixed berry, and the lemongrass and ginger with apple. It was then that we were notified the power had gone out, which at least means they don’t usually sit their customers in the dark and un-airconditioned. 

But you can still make me some scones, right?

We took a seat out back, where we could enjoy fresh air, natural sunlight and delightful Irish signage, which we proceeded to loudly mangle the pronunciation of, because we’re great fun for diners all around us. Here, one of the waitresses came to say that with no power, they could not produce the lemongrass and ginger with apple iced tea. Could we please pick another? We supplemented with the lemon lime chiller, which, like the mixed berry, has a lemon tea base, while the lemongrass has a herbal base. Perhaps the herbal base teas have to be electronically blitzed or something – I don’t know, bring on the scones, the ones like (my imaginary) Nana used to make!

The drinks were fine. Just fine. (In hindsight, it was a taste of things to come. Hardy-har-har, so punny.)

 Lemon lime chiller; mixed berry - $4

And then, the power outage took away our scones. It took. Away. THE SCONES.

Actually, it just took away our choice. We were informed they could only make plain ones now, so we’d get four plain. I was slightly disappointed in my imaginary Nana, so I garbled some more Irish sounds to make myself feel better. When our Devonshire Tea finally arrived, I was ready to nom them scones up, but being a ‘foodie’, I had to first take my requisite photos. (I’m also a ‘breathie’, in case you’re interested.)  

The scones were pleasantly crusty on the outside and decently fluffy on the inside, kind of like the opposite of me. I am, however, dusted with a fine coating of icing sugar just like these were. It just seeps from my pores, au naturale like that. 

Smeared with cream and jam, the much-waited for scones made for a perfectly fine snack. They were light and tasty and were a good vehicle for the accompaniments, which I suppose is quite important for a scone, in the grand scheme of Devonshire teas. Did they blow my mind? No. Have I had better? Yes. Were they like Nana used to make? I’ll never know. Would I return? Probably not. Might I find myself in the vicinity on a day when there are no power outages to interfere with their output? I'd put my money and my mouth elsewhere.

And while the paw paw, lime and passionfruit jam sounded awfully enticing in theory, it was rather subdued and one-noted (mild passionfruit) and altogether a disappointing choice. Apricot jam was simply apricot jam – no better, no worse. Fig and ginger, I regret not having you. 

TL; DR - It just goes to show, not even the most well-planned food adventure can be without their moments of just fine. The Tea Cosy, essentially, is just that: just fine.  

The Tea Cosy on Urbanspoon

Rue & Co.

The temporary urban space in the middle of Melbourne’s bustling CBD has been transformed into a relaxing, chill-out eatery lined with faux grass and fairy lights twisting around trees on a background of a massive multi-storey mural of artist Rone’s enigmatic muse, model Teresa Oman. The title of this  70 hour work is L'Inconnue De La Rue - the unknown girl of the street.

Following the French theme,  welcome to Rue & Co. (Rue, French for street and Co, short for Collins) the area which will be a 6-month pop-up home for three of Melbourne’s biggest names: St. Ali trading under the Church of Secular Coffee, Jimmy Grant’s and Kong, until something more permanent but equally as tasty is built.

I started off with St. Ali’s breakfast menu, trying the Daddy ($10) and #hashtag crispy potato hash ($7).

The Daddy breakfast bun with cumberland sausage, english-style bacon, fried egg & homemade brown sauce was great, the relish was sweet and tangy and went well with the patty and fried egg. The only changes would be to put it together on a brioche bun instead.

The Hash with smoked salmon & pepe saya dill crème fraîche was amazing. So well done (better than maccas!); crispy, fried potato-y goodness, and the salmon and crème fraîche were a great topping choice.

There is a space close to the corner of Collins and Exhibition which conveniently has a tree to anchor your dog to and is perfect to just sit against the wall and marvel at the beautiful weather, art and food in front of you. It just feels so comfortable, despite being in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city.

Returning for lunch, I doubted I could be even more impressed by what was presented. How wrong I was. Kong is da fuckin’ bomb, I am so keen to eat the shit out of their restaurant when they open up in Richmond in late May.

We tried the Steamed buns (2pc $11) 16hr smoked brisket, kewpie, walnut ssamjang & wombok kimchi which were so damn good. The dough is perfect: soft, fluffy and semi-sweet – I was tempted to ask for the plain bun on its own. The filling was great and the sesame sauce with the chilli sauce popped the flavours well. The brisket meat was tender and there wasn’t too much carrot to overpower the tastier additions to the bun. I have been dreaming of these since I left.

I wanted to get another Steamed bun but decided to try the other options on the menu; enter the Kong Bo Ssam peanut butter crusted tofu, pickled cucumber & spring onion served with kimchi, ssam jang & butter lettuce. The tofu at first wasn’t anything special, but the subtle peanut crust made things quite interesting. It was quite a firm piece of tofu steak, rather than my preferred silken tofu option. The stand out was the Ssang Bo sauce, I can’t fan girl enough over its amazingness. So much spice with depths of pan-fried flavours, I would buy this alone if I could. The radish was refreshing and the kim chi was appropriately spicy and tasted great. I suspect this dish was meant to be put together on a lettuce leaf like a San Choi Bao but I just ate it separate which worked fine.

Lastly were the Korean fried wings with honey, garlic & sesame. These were fried to perfection but so plump with lots of meat to enjoy. The sauce was sticky sweet, hinting the Peking duck sauce, but heavier in body due to the savoury garlic. This sauce got everywhere but was delicious to lick off your fingers, so win-win.

TL;DR I can’t wait to return to Rue & Co. to continue eating my way through the stalls.