Monday, September 24, 2012

Nshry @ Albert Park, Melbourne

We are always on the hunt for breakfast places and one weekend lead us to Nshry (pronounced as noshery). A little cafe down by the beach side at Albert Park / Port Melbourne, it features an a list of breakfast items made interesting with some subtle asian elements, although it is probably more famous for their umami burger which has featured in the Age. Writing about this now reminds me that we need to go back to try the famed burger. 

Now back to breakfast.

We were lucky to have popped by on a rare sunny winter morning and it was nice with the glass walls as we could enjoy the sun minus the chill, coupled with a view that had water, sand and people jogging. 


Besides the usual milk coffee, they also do a decent syphon coffee. 


Or if you want to be healthy, grab a juice like the Wife did, from the picture I believe this must have been a watermelon, mint and a hint of ginger. 


On to breakfast. Remember I said subtle asian elements? The corn fritters are battered with panko crumbs which makes it extra crispy and its paired with dots of kewpie mayo. Apart from that, everything is familiar, mashed avocado, smoked salmon and a perfectly round poached egg. One of the nicer versions I had in Melbourne to date. 


Poached eggs are paired with chili oil, the kind you get in yum cha or at dumplings but matched again with familiar items like chorizo and spinach. The chilies give this normal combination a little punch. 

The place ticks all the right boxes for us, nearby, interesting and delicious breakfast dishes and easy enough to get a table without queuing. With the weather warming up, we can't wait to go back to enjoy a little sun while having breakfast or oh yes, the umami burger for lunch.

Address and contact details:

Nshry on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. We found nothing wrong about the view of water and sand, a view that not many cafes can boast about, with good food too may I add. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Auntie's Dumpling @ Carnegie, Melbourne

We have driven past Carnegie numerous times on our way to Chadstone but have never thought of stopping by to check the eateries. Traditionally known as the "Korean side of town", the main street being Koornang road actually houses eateries of all kinds. We spotted Japanese, Chinese, Italian and even a Bagel shop (which was awesome by the way)!

We were told by a friend to give this cheap and awesome dumpling place in the area a try. So that's exactly what we did and after the meal we couldn't believe we had not discovered Auntie's Dumplings earlier. 

Don't expect luxury when you enter this no frills place. Take your pick of filling from pork, beef, prawn, vegetables, or a mixture of both to be in your dumpling, decide whether you want them boiled or pan fried and wait. Or if you think that dumplings is not enough, there's a variety of buns, noodles, rice and more traditional chinese dishes to pick from as well. 


I was craving for chilli oil wanton and while this was not exactly what I had in mind with the chili oil being rather tasteless, the wantons had a good prawn filling.


Can't go past some classic pan fried pork dumplings. Looking at the picture, I can imagine having a plate of this for dinner everyday.


At this stage, we realised that we shouldn't have ordered anything more but if you had to order one item here it has to be the "san cheen bao" which is like a hybrid between bun and dumpling with a generous pork filling. Be careful when you bite into it with meat juices squirting out like a "xiao long bao".  


The dish that we shouldn't have ordered but didn't regret ordering. The shanghai fried noodles came with what tasted like home made noodles. Slightly chewier than normal yellow noodles, it was stir fried in what tasted like a simple soy based sauce with a little sugar. Oh the simple pleasures in life.  

With so many different dumplings on offer, we can't wait to go back again. 

Address and contact details:

  Auntie's Dumpling on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. No frills place for some affordable dumplings. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wayside Inn @ South Melbourne

I am sure this is not the first time I have mentioned this before but it has taken me awhile to find a steakhouse in Melbourne similar to the ones that you will get in Brisbane (i.e. in a pub, choose your meats, off to the grill, eat with nice chunky chips and wash it down with a beer and minus all the fancy ambience and big price tag). Then again, we are in Melbourne where everything is a little posher, classier and more expensive, so to look for something that is a little more affordable was always a harder thing to do. Coupled by the fact that I am always side tracked with phases where we either crave for all things Asian or busy experimenting in the kitchen, it has finally taken 8 months to visit our first Melbourne steakhouse.    

Wayside Inn was our venue for the night. From the outside, it looks like some run down pub (especially in the dark) but walk in and you are greeted with a minimalist and modern dining area, which was pleasant but didn't seem to gel in with the facade. 


Apart from a small selection of grain fed and grass fed cuts, they have a rotisserie menu which serves a different meat everyday. I can't wait to go back on a Friday to have their suckling pig.


Complimentary bread and butter is always a plus in my books, especially butter since the Wife has been encouraging me to spread my bread with some less fat margarine at home. 


They have quite a selection of oysters and we ordered a variety of 12 with a shallot vinegar. The names of the oysters escapes my mind at the moment but if I must recommend, ask for the smaller and expensive ones (I am sure they will let you know which ones).


We came here for steak and steak is what we got. A generous 500gram grass fed rib eye on bone with bernaise sauce. I didn't ask if their meats were dry aged but it lacked a little intensity that you get with dry aged meat. As with some places, there was a lack of seasoning (I love my steak with a nice crust of salt and pepper). 

Unfortunately with any finer restaurant in town, you have to order separate sides as all you get is a handful of salad leaves, albeit with a beautiful tangy dressing. We had a hand cut chips to go with it but we had better (no way near what we had in Aria even though the prices were comparable). 

However all that being said, I am happy to have paid $42 for the steak (no stinking of the whole apartment, cleaning up the pan and complaints of my meat being cooked a little rare). 


By the end of my protein fix, we were stuffed but I couldn't resist ordering an ice-cream sandwich. I remember it was a classic combination of chocolate and peanut butter (there was no need to listen on before I wanted one) and we polished it off pretty quickly. 

While the place got quite busy by the time we left, it wasn't terribly noisy and service was pretty good. It was nice to know that we could escape for a good meal, just merely a 10 minute drive away from home. 

Matter of fact, we were so happy with the place, we popped up the week after for their happy hour (3-6pm) oyster special; half dozen oysters and a drink for $14. 


No amount of oysters was going to fill me up for dinner so we shared a fish and chips (off the bar menu). No complaints except maybe for $24, I originally expected a bigger serve of fish (forgetting that it was a gastropub after all). 

However now that we are on a semi diet before our trip to the US of A meaning less red meat for the time being, which may mean not seeing ourselves coming back too soon, Wayside Inn is definitely on our list of places to go back to.  

Address and contact details:

  Wayside Inn on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Something about the place that both the Wife and I love and when steak is on the menu, I am always a happy man.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Madam Kwong @ Boxhill, Victoria

Discovering Madam Kwong last weekend was like unearthing treasure to me. So how does a humble little cosy place compare to treasure when it is not a hatted restaurant or requires a reservation months in advance? Well by serving up Penang chee cheong fun, complete with sweet sauce and shrimp paste.  


I have been a fan of chee cheong fun since I was a little kid, whether it is rolled up, flat and thin, eaten with yong tau foo and sweet sauce or steam with prawns like you will get in yum cha. However since being introduced to the Penang version where it comes with shrimp paste, sweet sauce and sesame seeds, it ranks supreme. Trouble is, apart from yum cha, I have nver found a place that serves chee cheong fun on the menu, well until we popped into Madam Kwong. So what if it is a 30 minute drive and sets me back $7, I know where I am going when I want some chee cheong fun. 

So what if you don't like chee cheong fun? There's a whole range of Penang delights like the char kuey teow, prawn mee and assam laksa. To top it up, there's a whole range of kuih-muih too!


Besides the chee cheong fun, we had a bubur cha cha, a coconut based dessert with a mix of orange and sweet potato, yam and black eye beans. Sweet with a tinge of pandan, it was the perfect pick me up. 


If finding chee cheong fun was like finding treasure, how about Nasi Lemak wrapped in banana leaf? While the sambal was more sweet rather than spicy and I would have prefer more coconut milk in the rice, it amazing to find something so traditional (in packaging) in Melbourne, let alone in Malaysia (where I hear is now wrapped with plastic and newspaper because banana leaves are too expensive). One packet here though will get you at least 6 packets in Malaysia.   


The Wife had the Assam Laksa, slightly spicy and sour, complete with the see through laksa noodle. The soup base is much clearer than versions I have seen that are murky with fish but definitely not light on flavour. 

Apart from dishing up some good old Penang classics, their fridge is stocked up with some amazing stuff from frozen curry and rendang pastes to frozen Malaysian durians! Looks like the next time I am coming here, I might as well do my groceries too!

Address and contact details:   

Madam Kwong's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Guaranteed to bring a smile to any Malaysian who hasn't had a decent meal that screams home. Perfect place to go to if you are missing home (if home is Malaysia, of course).