Monday, 31 August 2009

J.G Dumpling Restaurant

When something is working so well, why not attempt to replicate that success? Hell, why not set up shop in that territory to lure customers, or mop up the scraps (i.e. those without patience at Bob’s)?

J.G Dumpling has been around for quite awhile now in Glenny, and opened up after the extremely popular Bob’s Kitchen. Based on reports by N, Y, W, T in the first two months of opening, it seemed that it wouldn’t be around for too long. Well it’s kicking on strong, especially come dinner time so it must be doing something right.

Scanning the menu, it’s pretty much Bob’s with a few additions and subtractions but the heart of it is there with soup noodles, noodles and of course dumplings. Beef brisket soup noodles tasty enough with large chunks of tender meat. Pork dumplings aren’t too bad either, nicely fried and coloured bases, meat is moist and well seasoned but the casings felt a touch more floury dry than Bob’s.

If I had to choose, I’d rather eat at Bob’s. But given that it hasn’t done anything really bad to embarrass itself, it’s a pretty good backup plan.

2.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 78 Kingsway, Glen Waverley, VIC
What? Under $10

Igloo Zoo

Cadbury’s drum smashing gorilla and eye brow dancing kids. K Oh Seven. Chris and Marie’s plant farm in Emerald. Amazing what a cleverly designed concept and hype can do for a product.

Basically, Igloo Zoo is a funky fresh, non-cursed froghurt bar with the very catchy name and looks to match. It seems to have marketed itself as the saviour for those healthy conscious types out there looking for a naughty but nice alternative sweet treat. The sit in area is Ikea clinical vs Korova, the rounded counter displays the toppings of organic chocolate, seasonal fruit such as mango, berries, toasted museli, coconut just to name a few that are to be piled onto your choice of green tea, pomegranate, and original super chilled yoghurt. At just over $6 for a regular with three choices you’ll probably find yourself with more base than topping at the end if you go the original. Smoothie (Blends) and yoghurt on shaved ice (Crunch) also available.

For a healthier choice, it’s not bad and a pretty good concept. I certainly got suckered in. Definitely won’t need any nudie runs in the garden to get attention.

2.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 195 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern, VIC
What? Around $7

Friday, 28 August 2009

Hung Vuong Saigon

When you see a Viet noodle shack this good looking with it’s clean, shiny veneer table tops, LCD screen showing Viet pop classics and neon lights, you’ve got to treat it like the season’s prospects of the Richmond Tigers. With extreme scepticism. But walk into this busy Footscray Vietnamese food shop and you’ll be greeted by the shouts of conversation and the sounds of something being slurped out of large white bowls in front of them. Probably should have one of those.

Having just reached for the soup spoons and choppers, out comes a white bowl of your own filled with a browny tinged broth, white rice noodles, slices of rare beef garnished with a bit of onion and chopped spring onion. A pho worthy of the machete gauntlet run, the meaty broth has depth, a little on the saltier side as the flavour lingers after a mouthful. Basic pork spring rolls executed well coming with a quality fish dipping sauce.

With so many along Hopkins, it’s one of the better places along the busy street. Unlike that hapless crew from Richmond, it’s one that lingers in the top four.

4 / 5 yums!
Where? 136 Hopkins Street. Footscray, VIC
What? Under $10

Hien Vuong Pastuer

Walk into this busy Footscray Vietnamese food shop and you’ll be greeted by the murmurs of conversation and the sounds of something being slurped out of large white bowls in front of them. Probably should have one of those.

Having just reached for the soup spoons and choppers, out comes a white bowl of your own filled with a browny tinged broth, white rice noodles, slices of rare beef garnished with a bit of coriander and chopped spring onion. Not a pho worthy of the machete gauntlet run, the meaty broth is light, a little on the sweeter side as the flavour disappears quickly after a mouthful. Basic pork spring rolls executed well, the other staple of crispy chicken and tomato rice not so with the meat and skin on the outer extremely dry.

With so many along Hopkins, it’s not one of the better places along the busy street. Certainly won’t be left high and dry with options.

2 / 5 yums!
Where? 144 Hopkins Street. Footscray, VIC
What? Under $10

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Gold Leaf Springvale

Despite the monopoly Gold Leaf has on yum cha in Springy, they certainly don’t drop the ball like Telecom did in the old days. The maitre’d ice amongst the storm, either he is oblivious to the crowd that continually inches towards lectern or he doesn’t give a hoot about the concerns of anxious diners probably wondering how such a large place could be so bloody packed. Don’t worry, as long as he knows you are waiting, you will be looked after.

Once you’re lead to your table by a secret service agent, you can satisfy that appetite with the usual steamed and fried stuff. Prawn flavoured sticky rice balls on sautéed duck webbing is something for the more adventurous to impress or freak out but unfortunately is not too tasty. Tofu Fa has enough syrup sweetness with a hint of ginger, the dessert that totally made this trip is the gooey red bean filled glutinous rice ball. Love it.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 46 Buckingham Ave, Springvale, VIC
What? Around $15

Golden Lake Cake & Roast

Bright, clean, kind of fresh. It’s a good start for any place in Springvale. Run by hands with years of experience, if you can’t make it to yum cha there’s a big range of steamed, fried and baked goodies from char sui bao, red bean sesame balls and egg custard tarts.

But it’s the Vietnamese rolls that I just have to have every time I walk past. There in the heat trays lie heart stopping roast pork or chicken, the sliced pork also an option to put in the crusty bread rolls along with a length of spring onion, coriander, pickled shredded carrot, cucumber, a sprinkle of fresh chilli, and a drizzle of “BBQ” seasoning.

Reckon there’s a better bread roll out there? Let me know, I’ll make the trip.

4 / 5 yums!
Where? Springvale Shopping Centre, Springvale, VIC
What? Under $5

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Eagle Bar, La Trobe University

Every uni has a bar. At La Trobe Uni, tomorrow’s future gets smashed at the Eagle Bar. It’s a bit odd, it could have been a Backyard Blitz makeover with the tile paving under the bistro chairs and tables, and carbon dioxide suckers ensure a constant stream of an oxygen under extended cover. Clear the space and it can turn into the place in Bundoora for a bit of a boogie.

Don’t expect much on the food front though, it’s just pub grub with daily specials. $11 for porterhouse steaks on Tuesdays with chips and salad and choice of pepper, diane, mushroom sauces. Cooked to order, meat tender enough but the gristle could have been cut away.

At Eagle Bar, food is a secondary consideration. Hardly surprising, it is a uni bar after all.

2 / 5 yums!
Where? Kingsbury Drive, Bundoora, VIC
What? Under $15

Connex Sizzle

Wen one of ma homies axed if I wanted 2 go 2 da Connex Sizzle, I was like Hell Yeah fo shizzle ma nizzle. I’m gonna get krunked up on some dope food.

Homie-isms aside, it’s no ordinary $1 for a sausage like in the olden days of primary school. The annual Connex Sizzle BBQ, part of the Melbourne Food and Wine festival treats us lucky Melbournites to some quality dishes designed by 8 of Melbourne’s finest chefs straight off the hot plate.

Appealing to the protein fiend in me, Ezard’s pork slab is lightly marinaded and grilled off that could have done with a bit more colour, with a sweet plum sauce you might get with roast duck at the local Chinese BBQ. Pleasant enough, if only the cut of meat was better. Next up, the gourmet dog featuring a lamb snag flavoured with garlic and rosemary from Adrian Richardson’s La Luna. Things do taste better with Vegeta but presumably left out of this recipe. The red pepper and smoked paprika relish on top has a case to replace tomato sauce as a standard condiment.

We go Moroccan with a Robert Castellani’s chermoula crusted salmon, the herby mixture soft without overkilling the flesh, keeping it Middle Eastern the lamb kebab with a nutty tahini honey mayo. Doesn’t have the impact of the snag, but something you’d happily eat daily. Mr Wilson brings his mini burgers, one I wished was full sized. Using wagyu helps. Dallas Cuddy takes a Japanese approach, the miso marinaded prawns nice, the ponzu drizzled noodles provide a fresh acidic contrast.

I certainly got krunked up on the pretty good food, given the conditions and equipment they had to work with. I can’t wait to see what next year’s Sizzle will bring. Fo Shiz.

4 / 5 yums!
Where? Behind Fed Square

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

College Lawn

I don’t know where the lawn has gone but I definitely don’t see any of the stuff they putt on these premises. And I was so looking forward to sending a little white ball back to its home. What they do have is various spaces, the outdoor courtyard with plenty of covered picnic tables and benches provide a very relaxed, casual atmosphere.

So I’m told this very old man’s pub is a bit of an institution, at which point I understood the weird looks I got from the bartender and customers when I ordered a lite lychee caipiroska and immediately regretted the decision to not get a pot of Melbourne Bitter instead.

As expected, vegan or organic options are missing from the menu but does keep in theme with the venue. Bangers and mash, the thick snags are nicely coloured with caramelised onions and plenty of pan meat juices. Steak sanga uses sesamed burger buns, a tomato relish provides a necessary spark for the gristly fat cut. The chicken parma doesn’t do the plate justice by only filling half of it, the cheese is nicely grilled on top but the napoli tomato sauce is pedestrian. Roast of the day was lamb that comes with some roast veggies, but the meat is tough and slightly cold. If none of that sounded appealing, there are other things on the menu including pizzas, mussel Belgian Beer Café styles, steaks, pasta and risotto.

When the sun comes out, lazy Sunday arvos sipping on a caipiroska could become a lunch fixture. It’s not gastropub but if you choose safe options you should be alright. Leave your golf stick at home too, the only rounds here are the pots of MB.

2 / 5 yums!
Where? 36 Greville Street, Prahran, VIC

Canton Lake

As Simon says, “This is typical Hong Kong cuisine”. Not so typical is the inside of this Box Hill stalwart that probably should be up for a lifetime achievement award or something. It feels more like a 1970s ski cabin with high ceilings, fake wood panelling and the “I can’t believe it’s not real stone” walls. Being in the place makes me feel older, but you can’t deny it does have character.

Back to the tucker and something new for me is the poorer man’s lobster complete with egg noodles. Unfortunately the prawns lacked the bombardment of garlic, ginger and spring onions to compensate. Abalone and mushrooms are simply stir fried, the flavours imparted on each other a proven combo. Grilled beef cubes with a bit of garlic and spring onions safe but it’s the fish hot pot that got the taste buds excited. Random cuts of fish on the bone are battered, deep fried then added to a thick gravy similar to the one missing from the poor man’s lobster and stewed with buk choy, mushrooms. Flavour packed.

So this is the food someone in Hong Kong is enjoying right now. You too could do the same, just head to Canton Lake. Simon says so.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 529 Station St, Box Hill, VIC

Monday, 24 August 2009

Zia Pina

You might have sworn you’d just entered an old man’s pool room as soon as you set foot into Zia Pina. The walls are filled with collected ancient sporting memorabilia, but there is the charming chequered red and white cover tabletops that probably indicate food is served here. A wide ranging typically Italian menu that Fasta Pasta probably modelled itself off, from the margherita to marinara and spag to gnocchi with multiple sauces including napoletana and carbonara.

Lasagne has the meat sauce you might find at the old Pizza Hut’s buffet, a heavy, gluggy, oily tomato sauce with plenty of cheese and a suspiciously reheated slab. Spag could have at least been better drained before the sauce hit the pasta, a sure dish to get splodges on shirts. Penne boscaiola better but the sauce fairly thin.

It’s food that you could easily get from a food court and even then they’d probably do it better. Unlikely that they’d go under due to a constant stream of unknowing tourists but if ever they needed a career change, Zia Pina could always become a sports museum.

1.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 93 George St, The Rocks, NSW
What? Around $20

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