Friday, November 22, 2013

Hot Star Large Fried Chicken - 豪大大雞排, Melbourne CBD

Nothing beats Large Fried Chicken from Hot Star.  It is one of my favourites from the famous Taiwanese night market in Shih-Lin 士林 and I am super excited that it has finally made it over to Australian, and in MELBOURNE! 

What is so special about this Fried Chicken you ask? It is pretty much a large piece of chicken breast (with some rib bones still attached) flattened out to about 30cm in length & 10cm in width (I know it's HUGE) coated with delicious 5 spices and what I believe corn flour.  It is then deep fried to perfection, crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside, gosh it is so delicious! If people have tried and enjoyed Taiwanese style Salt and Pepper Fried Chicken pieces "鹽酥雞" before you would love this since it pretty much similar coating but you get a MASSIVE piece of chicken.

A piece of this chicken and bubble tea from Gong Cha next door I could picture myself back in one of those night markets in Taiwan, and you could too!
Hot Star Large Fried Chicken on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hammer and Tong, Fitzory, Melbourne

What an experience!  Delicious food, great coffee, friendly staff, and buzzing atmosphere, I think I have just found a new favourite place for Sunday brunch!  I have been searching high and low from East to West for that perfect brioche for a long time and here at Hammer and Tong I think I have finally found it.  The brioche was buttery, light and fluffy, not too dense or crumbly, oh it was heavenly.  Overall the duck with asparagus, truffle butter and Parmesan briont was fantastic and the flavours were very well balanced.  The richness of the duck egg yolk with the creamy truffle butter served on top of the thick sliced brioche was perfection on a plate.  My belly was definitely satisfied with all the richness goodies but if you have a bigger appetite, this dish may not be filling enough for you.  My friend had the French toast, peanut butter, raspberry yoghurt ice cream, banana caramel, although I didn't sample it personally but she say it was very good.  The menu selection might be small but every dish sounds very appetising, I will definitely have to return to try out their egg's Benedict's and soft shell crab burger!


FOOD: YUM! That's all I need to say.
PRICE: Reasonable cafe food price.
SERVICE: The service was top notch here, tentative and very friendly.
ATMOSPHERE: A lively little place with great vibes. 

Summary:  One of the most memorable cafe I have been to for a while, will definitely come back to try out other things, very soon!

Hammer and Tong on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chez Dre, South Melbourne

Chocolate tart: chocolate ganache, peanut-cocoa nib tuile, 
chocolate mousse. Make sure you do not leave here without 
one of these babies!
I first came to this hidden gem while browsing for a new cafe for delicious cake and coffee.  After reading some online reviews I was hooked.  It is conveniently located near the South Melbourne Market and easily accessible by trams.  I love the decor, sort of revamp of an old industrial building with an open kitchen located in the heart of the restaurant.  There is a small outdoor area which is heated in the cold Melbourne winter - bonus!

One you passed through by the busy diners and hectic kitchen you will arrive at the cake display - oh wow what a selection!  There is a vast range of delightful cakes, petite macaroons and to die-for croissants available.  The first time I came here we shared cakes and quiche and later returned for brunch the second time.  To be honest that the cakes and the quiche were FANTASTIC, BUT...I was disappointed with the brunch food and their specialty hot chocolate (Ganache Chocolate is still the best in my personal opinion).  I suppose I was expecting more from their food with such good cakes available, this is why it is always dangerous to have high expectations...  If you're a fussy brunch eater like me this probably isn't the place for you.  However, I will definitely return for more cake and coffee once in a blue moon. The cakes are delicious but expensive, $8.50 per cake according to their menu online which I believe is an older version and think it was $9.00 when I went last week.  I will just have to add this place to the collection of my "treat list" for special occasions, since it is always so hard to resist delicious Gateaux!

Hazelnut-Praline Crunch: hazelnut dacquoise, gianduja mousse, hazelnut and chocolate crumble.  10/10 for desert.  Crunchy base, smooth creamy 
mouse and was definitely nutty from the hazelnut.
Quiche of the day: ham and cheese with salad. 
The pastry was so amazing my mouth waters just 
thinking about it.

Braised Mushroom Ragu: Swiss field and button mushrooms, soft polenta, poached egg & truffle oil.
This dish was delicious but lacked seasoning. I wish there was slightly more acidity to balance out the dish.  Towards the end of the meal it I found it was too rich to finish.
Brioche French Toast: caramelized pecan, vanilla mascarpone & berry compote.  The brioche was excellent and pecan nut were very delicious.  Individually they are fantastic but when you combined them it was sugar overload.  Maybe slightly more salt in the brioche, more acidic berry or more sauce could have helped.


FOOD: Coffee and cakes are delicious, not so convinced by their breakfast menu items.
PRICE: Cakes are expensive and brunch food price is on the high end or pricey.
SERVICE: Services have always been good with tentative and friendly staff members.
ATMOSPHERE: This is definitely a hip brunch place and it is also family friendly and a great place to catch up with friends on a lazy Sunday morning.

Summary:  Coffee and cake is all I need to say!

Chez Dré on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chef Lagenda, Flemington, Melbourne

This place was highly recommended by a friend of mine and I knew I had to come here when she told me their chef used to work at Laksa King couple of doors down.  Another authentic Malaysian restaurant that is fully-packed during rush hours and I could definitely see why after being satisfied everything I come here.  So first let's look at their laska - here at Chef Lagenda they don't do duck curry laksa :( so I had to try their chicken curry laksa which I did find slightly different - the curry itself is much thicker compared to Laksa Kings' but other than that it's pretty much the same and equally as good.  I do enjoy the thicker curry myself however I am bias every time when it comes to duck so I shall forever return to Laksa King for their Duck Curry Laksa.

Now let's look at another iconic Malaysian dish - the Hainanese Chicken Rice.  The chicken is very tender and flavoured with sauces.  The idea is to put the whole chicken into a boiling stock then turn the heat off.  With a heavy lid on top of the pot, leave the chicken in the stock for an hour and allow it to slowly cook and what you get is the most incredibly tender and juicy chicken, one of my all time favourite!  They do it very well here in Chef Lagenda and once again equally well in Laksa King.

Lastly the Beef Rendang with Roti Canai - YUM! Absolutely love their Roti, top class.  I could sit there and eat their roti canai all afternoon!  Their beef rendang is really delicious, packed with spices and full of flavour.  The only thing I have to say is in the past coupe of time their beef has been either over cooked or reheated badly so it's very dry and tough, an unpleasant texture...
An iconic dish here at Chef Lagenda that I have not provide a picture of here is their Roti Chicken Roll which is a must try when you come here.  No photo of this delicious roll but you just have to take my word for it and go try it for yourself!


FOOD: Delicious!
PRICE: This would be one of the cheap eats in Melbourne.
SERVICE: Average.  Nothing spectacularly good or bad, just a typical eatery service.
ATMOSPHERE: If you are looking for a romatic dinner then this wouldn't be the place.  The space is tight inside and usually crowded and full of people. You come, you eat and you leave!

Summary:  Great place to venture out for lunch every now and then and try their variety of delicious Malaysian cuisines on offer.

Chef Lagenda on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cumulus - Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD

Cumulus is pretty high up there with the clouds and is by far the best find since I moved over to Melbourne, and brunch has gone from great to beyond amazing with Cumulus on a lazy Sat/Sun morning.  Just thinking about this place while writing makes me salivate and cannot wait for another visit!

This place has been jammed packed every time I visited but never had to wait long for a table. I love their decor and open plan-kitchen, there is just something sexy about open-plan kitchen that I cannot put into words. If you come here in small numbers, definitely sit on the bar stool facing the kitchen - so intriguing watching the chefs working away and if you are there when they changeover from breakfast to lunch service, you would be amazed how they transform the kitchen!  

Now about their food, the picture says a thousand words! But I will still talk a little about it. I have to-date sampled many of their delightful creations and I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with their "Grilled Lyonnaise sausage, parsley & shallot salad 65/65 egg". This scrumptious egg and haricot beans dish will hit the spot every time. If you enjoy grapefruit, they do freshly squeezed grapefruit juice here and is a fantastic combo with the grilled Lyonnaise sausage.

The thing that I look forward to the most is their delectable Madeleine with lemon curd. It is made-to-order so always freshly baked from the oven and filled with cooled rich lemony curd, the Madeleine is soft and fluffy and absolutely perfect with a cup of coffee and a fantastic way to finish the brunch.  Make sure you don't leave without sampling one of these babies!


FOOD: Fantastic!
PRICE: The cafe is on the pricey side, but their food is really worth it.
SERVICE: Friendly.
ATMOSPHERE: The open kitchen is fantastic.

Summary:  Great food and service, this place is lazy weekend brunch at its best.

Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon

House made crumpets, whipped ricotta & rooftop honey
Selection of fresh fruits and minty yoghurt.
Shakshouka-baked eggs with roasted peppers and shanklish
Toasted honey granola & poached rhubarb with vanilla yoghurt

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Laurent Boulangerie Patisserie - Little Collins St

Having cravings all day for that delicious pastry?  Give into temptation and come to Laurent Boulangerie Patisserie.  This place has a wide range selection of delightful pastries to satisfy any taste-buds (sweet and savoury) - though it does come with a price...  This is a place I come for a treat (once in a blue moon) and I just love their Tarts - golden-brown buttery shortbread pastry filled with citrusy passionfruit/lemon curd - oh perfection with a cup of coffee!  I only dined-in once and will probably do it again as I really enjoyed the ambience which reminds me of cafes back in Europe.  One negative note apart from the price tag is I did find their coffee rather average and my friend found their hot chocolate not the best either.  

What I usually do is I grab a take-away of whichever I desired the most on the day, go and get my coffee elsewhere and then find myself a spot on the bench along the Yarra river nearby and soak up some sun.  This is when I take a moment to treat myself and do absolutely nothing other than savouring every last bite of my tart and sip of my coffee, and I hope you can do the same as well :)

Laurent Boulangerie Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Hardware Society Cafe - Hardware Street, Melbourne CBD

There is nothing better than a good brunch in my book.  The Hardware Society Cafe came highly recommended by several of my Melbourne friends.  This place is fully packed during the weekend so be prepared to wait for about 30 min for a table!  On a weekday morning this place was absolutely buzzing so naturally I was very excited when I arrived. The decor of this place is really amazing, it is warm and rustic and just full of character.  You will feel relaxed and comfortable while you read a newspaper and drinking your coffee.  The staffs here were really friendly and it was great to see them kindly addressing the family sitting next to us that they were in fact putting salt instead of sugar into their, and a new pot of tea (minus the salt) was immediately brought over!

We ordered the baked eggs with chorizo and scrambled eggs with chorizo.  The food arrived quickly and I really like how they served the food - baked eggs came in a small cast iron casserole and the scrambled eggs was served in a mini iron skillet, both placed on top of a block of wood lined with baking paper.  Rustic and yet classic, just love it!  The scrambled eggs were just under-cooked, the way I like it with delicious and not too spicy chorizos, though could do without the cold sandwich that came with it, for me I would much prefer the sandwich to had been toasted or at least warmed-up.  The baked eggs was awesome and hits just the right spot in my belly - if you like egg and chorizo, this is definitely the dish for you.

A cup of coffee from a cafe means a lot, and here is just me being fussy.  I did like their coffee, it was good but wasn't great - this is just something personal as I find the coffee from Cafe Andiamo on Degraves Street suiting more my taste.  Their hot chocolate - WOW! It was served in a cup filled with melted milk chocolate accompanied with a pot of warmed chocolate milk - absolutely loved it!  To eat or to drink the chocolate, that is the dilemma I will leave for you to solve.  Both the coffee and hot chocolate came with a mini deep fried doughnut coated with cinnamon sugar - YUM!

Next time if you have a lazy morning to spare, definitely head to Hardware Society Cafe, give them your name and go for a 30 min stroll (while you wait for a table) then come back and enjoy a fabulous brunch ^_^

Hot Chocolate

Scrambled Eggs with Chorizo


FOOD: Delicious cafe food and love their hot chocolate.
PRICE: Moderate pricing for cafe food.
SERVICE: Friendly.
ATMOSPHERE: Warm and relaxing, and can be quite busy.

Summary:  A great place for a lazy morning brunch and you will walk away with not only a satisfied belly but also an unique experience.

The Hardware Societe on Urbanspoon