Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Secret Kitchen Express, Doncaster by Obelix

Secret Kitchen Express is an off shoot of Secret Kitchen, the yum cha place situated on the top floor of the renovated Westfield Doncaster.  It is literally adjacent to the more formal Secret Kitchen.  The yum cha offerings are exactly the same, the only difference being is that no booking is required and the decor is more low key.  This works for people like me who on a whim on a Sunday decide I must have yum cha now!  Usually without a booking, that is near on impossible to execute with the exception of Secret Kitchen Express.

Secret Kitchen Express, Doncaster, scallop dumplings
Scallop dumplings

The service was rapid.  In fact almost too rapid.  As soon as we were seated, two trolleys laden with dumplings simultaneously arrived at our table and we were struggling to hear the two waiters talk over each other listing their wares.  At the time, I was in my element, ordering up a storm.  Something about yum cha brings out my competitiveness and dare I say animalian instinct to claim all the resources.  It was later when I reflected (feeling bloated and gluttonous) that perhaps a more staggered measured approach would have been better so that I can best monitor my fullness, savour the dumplings and map out what we were ordering rather than have a crazy amount of food arrive all at the same time.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

ShanDong MaMa, Melbourne CBD by Rockstar

I love dumplings. I like cheap and cheerful dumplings. I like more refined dumplings. I just like dumplings - Chinese dumplings, Polish ones, Lebanese ones… I'm not picky! 

When a fellow dumpling lover from interstate comes to visit, I felt it was time to visit ShanDong MaMa!

ShanDong MaMa, Melbourne CBD, mackerel dumplings
Ms Dumpling and I arrived just before 6pm; just before it got busy. And busy it did get, quickly.  We chose some of their specialities. The fish dumplings (mackerel) boiled were a bit different - a soft tasty fishy mousse inside soft thin skinned dumplings. I quite enjoyed them but think they would have been better fried to create some textural contrast.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

All People Chinese Restaurant, Burwood East by Obelix

I've always had a chuckle with the name of All People Chinese Restaurant.  It sounds simultaneously all-inclusive and propaganda-ish.  Would a patron there be swallowed up in a group hug or asked to recite from Mao's Little Red Book?

All People Chinese Restaurant, Burwood East, Chinese greens with tofu and mushroom
Chinese greens with tofu and mushroom

P has been to dine in at All People a few times with his friends and recommended we order take away from there one night when we were both too disorganised to cook anything.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Grand Richmond’s Italian Yum Cha, Richmond by Ruby Grapefruit

The Italian yum cha lunch event was created by the Grand Richmond for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and has been such a success that it is now held on the first weekend of every month. We were very intrigued by the concept and were pleased to discover that we would be having a range of Italian sharing plates. If you’re worried that it will be some sort of weird fusion cuisine, don’t be. 

The Grand Richmond, Italian Yum Cha, Richmond, squid ink risotto
Squid ink risotto

In fact the dishes are classic Italian with some modern flourishes. Some of the items are available on their regular menu, although these are in smaller servings, so you get to taste a larger range of dishes. These events are held in the dining room so expect to have the full luxe experience of fine tableware and linen.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Miznon Melbourne, Melbourne CBD by Rockstar

I'd read the raving reviews and seen the social media hype, but wasn't quite sure what to expect from Miznon Melbourne when I convinced the Cultured Couple to have lunch with me there before we headed to the National Gallery of Victoria. I knew that this was the sixth Miznon worldwide after the original one in Tel Aviv. I knew that here in Melbourne they've partnered with a local middle eastern restaurant to make their pita bread that's the star of their street food; a great example of a multi faith collaboration. 

Miznon Melbourne, Melbourne, calamari pita, ocean trout pita
Calamari pita and ocean trout pita

It's a funky two storey place in busy Hardware Lane - unlike others in the street there's no spruiking for business. I entered and knew I'd arrived as all I could smell was their famed cauliflower - not great considering half of the Cultured Couple and I aren't cauliflower fans - a rarity in this world I think! I quickly forgot the smell in amidst the slightly chaotic but fabulously fun energy. The staff are just fantastic and we were offered free strawberry drink and samples of the fillings that were currently cooking. Sitting downstairs with a view of the kitchen and the staff is like the prime seat at the theatre!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Girl and the Goat, Surrey Hills by Obelix

I love a place with a whimsical story attached.  The story behind The Girl And The Goat is that a young girl found a stray goat and adopted it leading to many-a-goats in the family in the years to come.  The Girl And The Goat features Caribbean fare in the unlikely place of Union Road, Surrey Hills.  It was once the Watt's Cooking cafe and I was delighted when it opened as it made for a diverse change from the usual cafe dominant scene in this neck of the woods.

The Girl and the Goat, Surrey Hills, West Indian goat curry
West Indian goat curry... maybe with some goat head?

I was excited to see West Indian Goat Curry on the menu because when in Rome, or rather when in the Caribbean, one must goat.  I recall reading an amusing anecdote by David Goodman, author of Compost Everything - The Extreme Guide To Composting who wrote of driving to Amish country to procure a goat head with the sole purpose of cooking up a pot of curry goat.  After being shown how to bludgeon the goat head by a forthright Jamaican mama, he chickened out of the prep process and ended up composting the goat head instead.  Despite the lack of curry goat, David gained a beautiful productive garden.  Okay, that was a long aside.  But it explained my excitement at meeting my plate of food.  Will it be a plate of broken skull pieces floating in curry?  Or will be it a comforting plate of slow cooked meat?