1 kit & kafoodle: June 2015

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Little Tommy Tucker

Finally there are the beginning  twinglings of good quality brunch places opening up south-side. Little Tommy Tucker is on the relatively busy side of Centre Rd in Bentleigh, very close to the station (so noone has an excuse not to hike out to suburbia!) It is a lovely set up inside with enough open space and light to remain friendly and open, coupled with a random/cute wooden cubby down the back where the kitchen operates.

Iced Coffee ($5.5) had a nice dollop of icecream, which made the coffee kick less intense.

The Chocolate Milkshake ($6.0) was not quite rich enough for me, very milky milkshake.

Lamb Sausages, Chilli Fried Eggs, Braised Baby Onions, Sourdough Toast, Celeriac Remoulade ($18.0) was the Big Breakfast option which I have vowed to never try - unless I am able to sample someone elses! The lamb sausage was meaty and dense, and I really liked the twist on the chilli eggs though they were not quite spicy enough for me. The sweet pickled onions were a nice lift on the dish, as was the creamy radish salad. 

The Crumbed Barramundi, Pea & Radish Salad, Herbed Couscous, House-made Tartare Sauce ($19.0) was soft on the inside and crispy battered on the outside. The tartar sauce wasn't too sour and the addition of the savoury sago balls was unexpected, but went surprisingly well with the dish. The salad was light and lightly seasoned; a nice healthy option.

The Kali Drinking Chocolate ($4.0) was on the bitter side, and quite a significant size too!

Tommy Tucker Wagyu Burger, Cheese, Lettuce, Pickled Cucumber, Mustard Aioli, Tomato Relish & Kipfler Wedges ($19.0) is a stocky, chunky burger, like those dudes you see coming out of the gym. It is packed with a juicy wagyu beef patty and pretty decent wedges. It probably isn't the soppiest burger I've had, so I would go elsewhere if I needed a burger hit.

This unassuming Pulled Otway Pork Roll, Fried Egg, Tomato Relish, Watercress ($13.0) was quite delicious. The pork was tender and tasty, and the tomato relish had a nice sweet kick to it. It was a nice simple little dish which ended up being surprisingly filling.

If you are looking for a traditional dessert dish, I would avoid the Cold Coconut & Chia Pudding, Maple Syrup, Banana & Walnut Crumb ($13.0). This was very strange, mostly due to the chia seeds being drenched in coconut milk and turned into a pudding that was almost too gluggy. That isn't to say it wasn't nice, but the taste definitely came as a bit of a surprise. It was a very light, refreshing dessert - almost not sweet enough for my liking, and the banana was slightly under-ripe, but I'm glad I stepped out of my comfort dessert zone. 

TL;DR Ultimately better food than Merchants Guild, though less variety. I'd return in a heartbeat - a small selection done well. 

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Friday, 26 June 2015

Shanghai Street Dumpling

I first noticed Shanghai Street Dumpling when eating next door at Little Ramen Bar, or rather, tried to see what shop was behind the massive line waiting every night. I'm glad we planned to hit this joint though, as it was quite delicious considering the sheer amount of dumplings out there. 

I really liked the Traditional Shanghai mini wonton soup ($6.8/15pcs) because they were tiny tasty dumplings bobbing in a chicken broth. A nice simple dish, and if you wanted to eat a quick lunch, adding noodles would fill you up for the day. 

I'll be honest, dumplings don't usually make for great photos, but these XLB are pretty damn photogenic. Look at that perfect curl. The Homemade traditional steamed Shanghai XiaoLongBao - pork ($9.8/8pcs) were a good substitute whilst we wait for the Din Tai Fung lines to die down, and I can guarantee these will be a lot cheaper too. Perfect pork filling, full of flavour and no weird chewy bits. You could easily smash a bowlful of these.

Homemade traditional steamed Shanghai XiaoLongBao - crab & pork ($11.8/8pcs) and chicken & prawn ($10.8/8pcs) both of these variations were delicious; tasty fillings, spilling hot piping soup when you bit into them and the skin wasn't too thick.

This broth was much the same as the tiny dumplings, but I feel like these Pork & Prawn Wonton in noodle soup ($8.8/8pcs) were slightly more tasty. The pieces of pork floating in the broth probably did that, I don't think there was a drop left over by the end of the night.

TL;DR A good cheap, very very tasty dumpling option in da city.

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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Operator 25

You can identify Operator 25 in it's little CBD lane by the massive queue of asians standing outside on a brisk Melbourne morning. Yeah, the wait is worth it. They nail the asian-fusion in a brunch style in a way it hasn't been perfected before. Make sure you walk inside the door to put your name down on the list. And I wouldn't be accurate unless I mention the coffee puns, my favourite would have to be "It brew my mind" for the double pun of asian accent and coffee.

This Hot Chocolate ($4.0) was visually stunning - because LOOK AT HIS LIDDOL FACE! I have never seen a barista create bear coffee/hot chocolate art before and it totally worked for me. The hot chocolate was delicious, warm, chocolatey, and not too bitter or thin.

Three Rice Congee with pressed duck confit, pickled ginger, puffed buckwheat, lotus crisps and soy poched egg ($18.0) was the perfect dish for a cold day. It reminded me of a (way) fancier version of the congee asian moms make for you when you're feeling under the weather with a cold. The nicely broiled rice with barley and puffed rice, with a beautiful slab of tender confit duck tasted like a warm hug, and envoked similar memories. The roasted lotus roots are tasty and add a nice crunch to the dish, like an asian potato chip. I can see where the pickled ginger fits in, but I moved it to the side as it was quite strong compared to the other parts of the dish.

(Poached) Eggs Your Way on (Sourdough) Toast with a side of Thick cut streaky bacon ($10.0 + $7.0) was a very generic dish done well. The bacon kind of blew my mind; the perfect amount of fat and salty goodness. The sourdough wasn't repulsively sour, and the poached eggs broke open perfectly.

The Chicken a la Normande with braised apples, pickled shallots, kipfler potatoes, green beans and almond crunch ($ 17.0) called to me from the menu, and I couldn't go past it. It was definitely more a lunch dish rather than a breakfast/brunch dish in that it was quite filling. The chicken was tender and delicious, cooked in the creamy buttery sauce. The braised apples and beans, added a nice sweetness, combined with the earthy potato and almond crunch, finished off the dish. So much love for this dish, especially because they didn't skimp on the chicken.

This Balinese Pulled Pork Burger with fried egg, chilli mayo, coriander, cabbage and carrot slaw served with sweet potato wedges ($20.0) was surprisingly spicy. A very asian tumeric cumin spice inspired pork dish. I enjoyed the twist on your normal pulled pork burger, and the bun was semi-sweet too, which I always prefer. The sweet potato chips were quite nice (though I would still go normal fries), especially with the aioli; I told myself it's healthier than normal potato anyway. I would definitely recommend this dish.

As all good lamb dishes should be, the Slow Cooked Lamb with a vegetable medley, parsnip puree, pepitas and cranberry gel ($20.0) was tender and succulent. The parsnip puree was almost sweet in taste, especially if asted with the cranberry gel. This was definitely a more traditional tasting dish, with not as much depth or creativity in flavour combinations as the Chicken.

And a Happy 2nd Birthday to Operator 25! They included all their customers in the celebration by serving up complimentary mini cupcakes from Cupcake Central! Oreo was a choc chip base with oreo icing, White Chocolate Matcha (yaaas gaga yaaaas) a soft green tea base, icing and kit-kat type chocolate wafer to finish, and Tiramisu. Delightful. Free food = winning.

TL;DR A beautiful asian-inspired brunch spot with none of the normal brunch fare dishes. Love it; but be prepared to withstand the queues.

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Monday, 22 June 2015

The Park Hotel

Way out west in Werribee, there was an unassuming pub encased in an upmarket shell on the corner of main street. The Park Hotel was its name and gastropub was its game, and boy did it play that game well. The menu is simple but plentiful, the serves are huge and the desserts cause much desire despite the fear of the waistline. 

I wanted to try a lot of the dishes, but luckily I didn't because the Parma w/ double smoked ham, napoli, mozarella, fries & salad ($22.0) was a gigantic serving. On top of that, it tasted delicious; tender chicken breast with copious amounts of robust napoli sauce and stringy mozarella. The fries were amazing, crispy fried fluffiness and they threw in a pot of aioli. The salad was not the main attraction, but complemented the dish with a green colouring and the pretence that you had your serve of vegies for the night. 

The barstaff had never made a Bloody Mary ($6.0) before, and for their first time, they pretty much nailed it. Not too sweet, but not overly thick either, The Park Hotel's first Bloody Mary was the perfect amount of spice and deliciousness. 

TL;DR Actually considering driving back there...
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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters

After wandering down Hardware Lane and being told there was a 40 minute wait to another brunch place, we got antsy and decided to check out the multitude of hip looking new cafes that had popped up over the course of a few months. 

We settled on # (Hash) a warm, inviting, minimally decorated space which utilised all the space without becoming too crowded, and definitely keeping with the hip(ster) vibe. That, and the menu was too tempting to walk away from (and there was no wait! HUZZAH! Disclaimer: this will change, very, very soon, trust me.)

# have only been open for five weeks, but good lord they are doing well for themselves. The menu offers your standard brunch fare like smashed avocado and pork belly, but the extreme quality the chefs in the kitchen take this too is incredible.

HASH Hot Chocolate
The first thing that blew me away was the presentation of their HASH Hot Chocolate ($6.0), which looked like it was straight out of Heston's kitchen. Presented with a sky scraping tower of freshly spun white fairy floss, and a conical flask of MORK Dark 85% Cacao Chocolate next to it, served on a wooden board, there's no way you're beating this beast on presentation. When the hot choc is poured over the floss, it melts away like some crazy CGI-vampire bursting into flames on the big screen, into a puddle of sweetened hot choc. Beautiful and sweet and delicious in a way that normal sugar just won't produce. This drink was incredible. It is on par with Seven Seeds' hot chocolate, though in a totally different way. /endgush 

[Protip: Though visually stunning, the actual act of pouring requires a bit of finesse, as the fairy floss will end up buckling and spilling all over the table. Be careful as you pour otherwise you've lost all the sweet.]

Leek & Cheddar Croquettes
I was tossing up between so many dishes on #'s menu, but eventually settled for the Leek and cheddar croquettes, cauliflower puree, ham hock, caolo nero and a tumeric poached egg ($19.5) and was not disappointed. The croquettes were perfectly fried, with a crispy outside and a fluffy inner, which was full of flavour from the cheddar and more subtle leek. Add onto that, the smooth cauliflower puree and ham hock to finish off the full flavours of a very satisfying dish. The only flavour that was lost on me was the tumeric poached egg, I couldn't taste it at all, but it did make for a very pretty yellow stained poached egg.

Crushed Avocado
Crisp corn arepas & crushed avocado, dressed w/ cherry tomatoes, chili, coriander & grilled lime ($16.5). This had a pretty cool mexican style twist to the normal smashed avocado you see around town; light and fragrant avocado mix due to the lime, and served with crunchy flatbread arepas made from maize dough. This dish definitely needs a side of bacon if you're a meat lover. 

Chorizo, Scallops+Egg
I've never seen a brunch place go the full hog and serve up a class surf'n'turf like #'s Chorizo, seared scallops on toasted s'dough w/ a fried egg, chili and a white bean spread ($20.5). Though this sounds like a whopping meal, it is done tastefully. This may not be the most cohesive and creative dish that # has, but how can you go wrong with perfectly fried chorizo slices and seared tender, plump scallops. The white bean spread is subtle, hiding under the fried egg, but all together the dish is a winner, if you're after a dish which can't lose.

Slow Roasted Pork Belly
This Slow roasted pork belly, goat's cheese, pickled mustard seeds, hazelnuts & textures of apple ($20.5) was quite impressive. I feel there was a lot of deconstruction and molecular gastronomy that went into this dish. The textures of apple consisted of freeze dried apple pieces placed upright in goat's cheese (stunning), accompanied by apple sauce and poached apple pieces. The pork belly was succulent and fatty, the only complaint being the skin wasn't as crispy as other pork bellys. The mustard seeds added a nice kick and the hazelnuts, though erroneous, participated in the game everyone plays called texture. 

Grilled Banana & Pecan Loaf
This was everything a dessert ever needed to attain perfection. Grilled banana & pecan loaf with macadamias, milk crumbs, blueberries & burnt honey marscapone, white chocolate custard ($18.5). Sinfully soft banana loaf with a crusty exterior, slightly candied with caramelised sugar and lots of nutty crunch to add to the texture. The burnt honey marscapone was not over-bearingly sweet, so you could use as much or as little to tone down the dish. Similarly, the white chocolate custard was the added sweetness, and though I could drink this up every day, if you wanted to avoid adding more sugar to the dish, you didn't have to touch it. I could eat this every day, gain 5000kgs and not regret a thing. 

TL;DR I'm counting down the days till I can feel this satisfied in my belly again. Sorry Seven Seeds, the Lannisters send their regards. 

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Saturday, 20 June 2015

Charlie Dumpling

Charlie Dumpling lives in Prahran, near a lot of other asian fusion restaurants, but you will notice that on most nights, it is always packed. Experiencing the food makes you realise why, as the creators of this asian-fusion have hit all the right buttons in your taste console.

The Yellowfin tuna sashimi, pink lady apple, radish, goats cheese, white soy ($19.0) was very fresh, and being a fan of puffed brown rice, it was a nice way to bring crackle to the dish. The sweet apple pieces combined with smooth goat's cheese really completed the dish. I'd definitely order this again.

‘The Chimichanga’ Ora King Salmon Tartare, nori taco, bonito, pickles, seasoned rice ($18.0) was a fantastic choice, an asian spin on a mexican classic. The staff were lovely enough to give us an extra few nori tacos, but the serving was quite small as they didn't increase the size of the actual fillings. The salmon was tasty and obviously went really well with the dill pickle and flavoured spicy rice. The taco shell didn't actually taste that great on it's own, but it did look appealing with its battered layer. 

'Cos we're Ballers, we ordered the most expensive bao on the menu, the Crispy Prawn Bao, cucumber, shallot, kewpie, lettuce ($10.0 each) which was ok I guess, but truly nothing special. The prawn was fried in a crispy batter, which was nice, but there wasn't a lot of kewpie mayo or anything that made it appealing. I'd skip this for better options on the menu.

The Cola braised beef cheek, jalapeƱo orange salad, pickles and steamed buns ($26.0) was a tender pile of beef which pulled apart easily and as we stuffed the bao buns with the radish pickle salad, our mouths definitely started watering. The pieces of chilli and orange mixed through brought even more flavours to the dish. 

Kuromitsu salmon, green tea soba noodles, radish, miso, wasabi peas ($16.0) I expected a lot more out of this dish; on paper it sounded easy to combine and enjoy, however I felt the soba noodles were too heavy for the salad, and the salmon in the dish was few and far between, and not that fresh. 

These Coconut braised Flinders Island Lamb gyoza, massaman and peanut curry ($14.0) were presented really well. They essentially looked like giant mushrooms, with a fried disk sitting on top of the dumpling. However, the filling didn't really appeal to me - it tasted quite dry and overcooked and the peanut sauce ended up having most of the flavour.

‘Burrawong Gaian’ Peking Duck Dumplings, burnt mandarin and Sichuan caramel ($14.0) were the best dumpling out of the trio we picked. They had a nice tasty filling which was moist and had a nice accompanying sweet sauce.

Finally, the Snapper, chilli, lime and blackbean savoury dumplings ($13.50) had quite a lot of filling inside, and the skin wasn't too thick or sticky. However, given the price, and the fact the snapper didn't really burst with flavour like most (cheaper) typical dumplings, I wouldn't be in a rush to order these.

I first got introduced into these neat little morsels at the Street Feud last year, and in fact, due to my vote (and others) it won them the competition. Milk chocolate dumplings with raspberry-chilli sorbet ($13.50) are deep fried dumplings which burst apart to release a smooth milk chocolate ganache filling inside. The tart raspberry-chilli sorbet has a peppery aftertaste and is an interesting combination to the chocolate. 

I really expected myself to not enjoy these Coconut and lime mochi, poached pears, salted caramel ($13.5) however, they are pretty great. The soft, squishy mochi skins encase a cold coconut and lime ice-cream, with generous swirls of salted caramel and sweet poached pears.

‘Hazelnut jaffa’ Callebaut chocolate bombe, mandarin sorbet, toasted rice ($14.0) was probably my least favourite out of three great desserts. I think compared to the others, this was just too plain for my liking, the chocolate bombe was smooth and very rich, and the mandarin sorbet very sour. The toasted rice didn't particularly add much apart from texture, but I'm not complaining.

TL;DR I quite like this asian-fusion dumpling place, though the serves are small and it is very pricey.

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