Friday, 8 June 2007

A1 Café

W lead us to this place late one night, which lays claim to some famous egg chiffon (a light frothy texture). We were warned though, apparently it’s heart attack food and heard the story of a stressed out consultant who ate this meal for lunch and dinner every day for 2 weeks which lead to his substantial weight gain. It sounded intriguing and addictive.

Presented with my dish it resembled something out of “The Blob” with this egg chiffon engulfing the majority of the plate. I’m not surprised that with my first bite, I could feel my cholesterol increasing. My scenes heightened, I felt happier, it was comfort food. The grease from the egg chiffon, combined with the roast pork and dipped into its accompanying light oyster dipping sauce was proving to be a fatal combination. The fluffiness had me floating for a while, until my heart skipped a beat (just joking :P).

2 / 5 yums!


Where? A1 Café, 191 Russell St , Melbourne

What? Average dish $10

Left to Right : Chicken and Egg Chiffon on Rice, BBQ Pork and Egg Chiffon on Rice, Roast Pork (and Extra Beef) Egg Chiffon on Rice, Pork and Egg Hotpot

Malay Chinese

Come for the laksa, leave with a smile on your face and potentially a dry cleaning bill. Those stains are going to be hard to get out.

This is the sister restaurant of the spiritual home of Sydney’s famous Malay Chinese on Castlereagh Street (now taken over by some snotty high designer brand). It doesn’t have the same old school hawker centre feel. Also missing are the shrieks of “number [insert number here]!” in a distinctly Malaysian accent, commanding to pick up your meal… NOW. Pity.

This place feels like a mosh pit at lunchtimes during the working week with the chefs out back woking away. It’s worth the jostle for a seat as the hawker style food here is exquisite, especially the chicken laksa with extra chicken, vegies and mixed noodles of vermicelli and egg (these are extra tweaks). It’s got enough coconut cream for the heaviness, chilli to tingle your tongue and a full curry flavour. I’d drink the broth but I want to live past 25… I think. Why go anywhere else when you can also enjoy a great Har Mee, Mee Goreng, Hainanese Chicken Rice and Char Kway Teow here? Wok on into Malay Chinese… NOW.

4 / 5 yums!


Where? Malay Chinese, Hunter St, Sydney

What? Average dish $8

Left to Right : Har Mee, Mee Goreng, Hainanese Chicken Rice and Char Kway Teow, Curry Laksa

Chong Hing

I have 10 bucks, and 6 mates to eat dinner with. Where the hell would you go in this city for a quick cheap meal? Don’t want to go to Sussex Food Court and not Kura tonight. Landsdowne Hotel… I’ve spent too much trying to win that damn car in the raffle… but those $5 steaks are tempting. Focus… there is an option… head down to Kensington to the ultimate UNSW student haunt Chong Hing!

Oh the value, and the hearty meals. 6 dishes for $58.80 and you get to choose from 20+ dishes. The manager is good value too, he knows us well. “The regulars?” he inquires in Cantonese? Sure! You’re in for a treat when the hotness of the crispy battered spicy salt pork ribs enters your mouth, though you get uninspiring ma-po tofu, standard stir fry mince and beans, chunky tender beef brisket and radish hotpot, fried chicken wings and the chilli & garlic kang kung. Free rice included. I’m stuffed after this meal, same as every other night. I could get used to this once a week.

2.5 / 5 yums!


Where? Chong Hing, 325 Anzac Pde, Kensington

What? 6 dishes for $58.80

Left to Right : Spicy salt pork ribs, ma-po tofu, stir fry mince and vegetables, beef brisket and radish hotpot, fried chicken wings, kang kung.

Trovatino Café

I feel a little like Jesse (Ethan Hawke’s character) in “Before Sunrise”… Why do we have to part so soon after I’ve found you!?!?! At last, a pasta home away from home in Sydney. After tasting the delights at Melbourne’s Cellar Bar, a place in Sydney that’s comparable in both taste and value.

I was excited, one of my last foodie moments in Sydney. My hosts had been telling me for ages about this place. Not knowing where we were going, perhaps they were telling lies… I got edgy… thoughts crept into my head that they were going to tie me up, strip me naked, beat and prod me and leave me in the middle of a field, disoriented and lonely… I wouldn’t put it past these two devious ladies (jokes :D).

I love suburban cafes like this, but where the hell is Wareemba?! This Saturday arvo felt like a lazy Sunday in this simple, chic modern fitted café which also boasts a small fresh produce store. The food? Well done, the bolognaise home style with el dente spaghetti, the gnocchi – soft parcels of potato with a light tomato based sauce and bacon and the penne taking on the slightly tart flavour of sun-dried tomato. The coffee is alright too (could it be… in Sydney?). They sure like to tempt you with the very enticing every colour of the rainbow gelato and cakes display. I restrain. Next time.

This could be the start of a beautiful relationship (whoops, wrong movie). The experience comes to an end… time to move on… places like this which make me love Sydney a little more.

3 / 5 yums!


Where? Trovatino Café , 268 Great North Rd Wareemba

What? Average main $15

Left to Right : Spaghetti Bolognaise, Gnocchi, Penne with sun-dried tomatoes and chicken

Thursday, 7 June 2007


Excuse me waiter, could I please have the eggplant, the chicken karage and salmon and crab sushi. Thanks. Oh! Before you go, another thing, how much for that delightful tea set on the shelf over there? No no, that one is gorgeous too, umm… middle rack, second row, third down. Oh… I see… ok… just the food for now thanks!

Cocoro, a cosy little place which has received recent props in the Epicure and featured in Melbourne’s Cheap Eats guide, is not a bad little place where you can also buy teas and things to put the tea in. The karage was nicely done, not too oily and lightly crisp. The salmon nigirizushi on top of a bundle of perfect sushi rice, the crab gunkanmaki was slightly heavier, this battleship mixed with the right amount of Japanese mayo and the fried eggplant was topped with a light finely chopped radish relish. Adding to the emerging dining Fitzroy dining landscape, a simple, fresh menu and shop to be explored!

3 / 5 yums!


Where? Cocoro Japanese Pottery & Cafe, 117 Smith St, Fitzroy

What? Average main $16

Left to Right : Deep fried eggplant, Salmon and Crab Sushi, Chicken Karage

Vue de Monde

A little like the “that’s me!bourne city” ads, things are a little quirky here. What are these funny little drawings on the plates sitting in front of me? A duck… look, my friend’s got a broken wine bottle and why is there a man in a boat on another? Our table of 10 each has something different. No, I’m not in a crockery shop, but a fine diner of the highest standard, where you feel welcomed, relaxed and unintimidated by your environment.

So you order, or should I say, following a friendly conversation with your friendly maitre’d, they tailor a menu just for you. Don’t you feel special?

And so you wait with baited breath for each course. You can watch the chefs finish each plate via the conveniently angled mirror perched on the roof of the open kitchen. Someone please give me a doggy bowl to pool the drool sprouting from my mouth.

As a precursor to each dish, comes an extravagant announcement and explanation. I love the theatrics. I’d clap and squeal like a Japanese school girl but I’m afraid that might be a bit too weird… And so you are served, you inhale the aromas and engulf.

The quirks continue. You’re asking me to inject what into the Japanese breadcrumbed chicken “a la york”? The abalone in a sweet corn taco shell (is that taco certified?), a vial of essence to pour over the crayfish (I like when my crustacean is a science project), dry ice in a palate cleanser with not so subtle warning to wait before consuming (ooooo the element of danger!), sweet and sour foam with the venison wellington, a falling tower of strawberries and cream. WOW, visually stunning, engaging the diner to be interactive with each dish, not to mention the flavours which dance on the tongue. By the end, I was utterly stuffed and spent, so full in fact that I had to “da bao” (pardon my French) emportez the petit fours …

Be warned… with this 10 course degustation menu, you’re in for an epic. But it’s well worth sitting through and I can’t wait for a repeat performance.

5 / 5 yums!


Where? Vue de Monde, Normanby Chambers, 430 Little Collins Street, Melbourne

What? 10 course degustation (with the “extras”) - $180

Left to Right : Mr Bennett's French Onion Soup, Ormeau servi dans une coquille de taco de maïs, Risotto aux cepes, foie gras au yoghourt, Muge farci À l’Écrevisse et Enveloppe de carottes, Consomme Froid a la tomate, poulet ‘ Á la york’, Chevreuil en Croute, Palate Cleanser : Kiwi Fruit and Mint Jelly, Pre-Dessert - green tea and chocolate mousse, Fraises À la crème (constructed and deconstructed), Souffle au Chocolat, Notre sélection de cafés thés infusions et petits-fours

Sunday, 3 June 2007


Have you ever felt cheated? I certainly did walking towards this place, which from the outside, this Japanese eatery looked like a Chinese restaurant from the 1970s. Floating out of the speakers though, a poppy Japanese tune which put me at ease. Hearing the waiters though, what’s that I hear? Cantonese? I thought we were in a Japanese restaurant! Like many things in Sydney, it’s was all very authentic, genuine and real. Oh wait, I forgot I was in Melbourne… I started to feel cheated again.

That aside, if ever I’ve seen the law of averages at work, this would have to be it. The Agedashi Tofu - ok, Kaki - ok, Horenso Gomae - the highlight, a lovely blend of spinach, carrot and black sesame, disappointing Tatsuta Age, overdone Sea Perch, perfect medium rare Wafu Steak, average Teriyaki, tough Yakiniku, exquisite salmon sashimi, not so tuna, nice Uramaki. If I whipped out a leveller to rate this place, the bubble would be right in the middle.

2.5 / 5 yums!


Where? Asakusa, 127 Waverley Rd, Malvern East

What? Average Entree $10, Mains $ 17

Left to Right: Agedashi Tofu, Kaki no Tempura – Rock oyster, Horenso Gomae – spinach black sesame, Tori No Tatsuta Age, Sea Perch Misoyaki, Wafu Steak, Tori Teriyaki, Yakiniku
Sushi Set, Pork and Ginger

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