Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dae Jang Geum Korean BBQ

1/235 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne 3000, Australia
Phone: (03) 9662 9445

Another unofficial birthday dinner saw myself and the boys (Kevin, Jacky and Dennis) at Dae Jang Geum in Chinatown. We walked up the stairs to find this absolutely humungous hall with table so sparesely located you could park cars between them. It actually felt too big a space and quite empty and isolated.

Dae Jang Geum is a Korean BBQ restaurant, which means you order a stack load of meat, cook it yourself and gorge until you can't move anymore. We did just that.

We got a Kimchi Pancake as Jacky was curious and never tried one. It was quite good, although I prefer the usual seafood pancake.

The Beef Tartare was also quite good in terms of flavours. But the texture was awful as the meat was still on the verge of being frozen. Even by the end of the night, the beef was still like icicles.

We ordered an array of meats and each was ok without anything really standing out. If you want really good Korean BBQ, go try Hwaro BBQ. The price is about the same but the meat is of a better quality and also cooked over coals.

The service was quite good as far as Asian restaurants go. The staff actually kept cooking the meats for us and requests for things were promptly done. The ambience is a strange feel. The tables are so far apart and the wooden floors make it feel like you're on an island by yourself. The actual food was ok but a tad expensive for the quality I think.

Overall Rating: 13/20, Food is ok with fairly good service.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Melbourne Dae Jang Geum Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

Persian Flavours

338 Springvale Rd
Forest Hill, 3131
Ph: (03) 9878 3087

Persian Flavours is a tiny takeaway type shop. Nelly organised a dinner there and Kevin, Minh and myself attended.

The food on the menu looked like a cross between Indian and Lebanese type dishes. The waitress/owner turned out to be Chinese when she heard us speaking Cantonese. She told us about how she had opened the restaurant with her husband who is Iranian.

We ordered a variety of dishes, none of which I really remember the proper names of. We started with some fried puffs that contained spinach and cheese, very nice.

There was Butter Chicken, Chicken and Lamb Kebabs, a Lamb Curry with some vegetable that I now forget. The butter chicken was everyone's favourite. The kebabs were nice and smokey. I loved the Garlic Naan as well.

Desserts were some really strong ice cream flavoured with rose water. A bit too pungent for my liking.

Overall, a nice little place providing some different foods. I'm definitely going back and trying out some other dishes.

Overall Rating: 13/20, Good food and great prices.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Persian Flavours Takeaway & Eat In on Urbanspoon

Horoki - Part 4

19 Liverpool St
Melbourne 3000 VIC
Phone: (03) 9663 2227

Horoki also delivers good food, as I have wrote about previously. Hence, for the first of my unofficial birthday dinners, Jo, Kin, Sey Veng and I decided to go here.

I don't have official birthday dinners anymore as I'm getting old. Here I am looking older and wiser...NOT!

Kin, Sey Veng and myself all with really shiny skin from the extremely strong flash of the camera.

The Octopus with Butter Garlic Sauce is really delicous. I love octopus, and combined with an oozy butter sauce, perfect.

This has to be the best salad in town, the Sashimi Daikon Salad keeps amazing me everytime with the combination of fresh sashimi, marinated daikon, fresh salad, some fish roe, crispy rice strips and crispy seaweed.

The Steak Tartare also is extremely good. Finished with a quail egg, it was so good we had two serves.

The Roast Duck was better this time than last as well. The sauce is still a bit too strong.

The Stewed Pork was quite good, and comforting on a cold night outside.

Cod Roe Butter Noodle is so simple but so good. I wonder what type of noodles they use because I really want to make this myself since it looks so easy.

Lastly, a new dish we hadn't tried before, Crispy Seafood Rice Cake. The waitress had a mixture of cooked seafood and vegetables and then poured it over the crispy rice cakes. The rice cakes absorbed the flavours while still maintaining some crispiness, a great dish.

Horoki also finally has desserts. They used to give you a small but delicious serving of panna cotta for free, but now they have a choice of three desserts. Obviously we get them all. Tiramisu, Panna Cotta with Berries and Creme Brulee are all very good. I go for a second serving of the rich Creme Brulee.

Overall Rating: 15/20, Great food with simple no fuss service.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Horoki Casual Dining Bar on Urbanspoon

Vue de Monde - Part 2

Normanby Chambers
430 Little Collins St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone (03) 9691 3888

When I went to Vue de Monde for the first time, I thought it was the perfect dining experience. I had wanted to go back for a while, and when a friend couldn't make his booking, I gladly accepted his booking and went with Nelly.

The booking was for a Tuesday night and when we first got there, the restaurant was fairly empty. An hour or so later, it was completely filled. The ambience on a Tuesday is a bit different to a weekend. There seemed to be more people there for work functions or at least dining with their work mates. It was still quite rowdy, not serenely quite as you would expect of a top restaurant. I like it with a bit of noise and not eerily silent.

The service is still faultless, from the minute you step through the doors till the moment you leave. The reception lady at Rockpool should take notes from the staff at Vue. We were treated warmly as we entered the room and led straight to our tables. The waiters explained how the menu worked and what options there were. They made suggestions regarding the food and wine.

We opted for 8 courses in the end, which leaves you extremely full. The food is still very good, but the food didn't give me as much "wow" as last time. It could be the dishes as there is a rotation of over 60 dishes I believe, or that I've experienced it before and was hence less surprised.

The amuse bouche of Roti roll with fish cream and vegetables over a tomato consomme was refreshingly light. This was followed by the first course (and I'm going on memory here as it was over two months ago, such is my backlog of posts) of a sandwich of Avocado Jelly, Watermelon and Pumpernickel topped with cured salmon, caviar and sour cream. A side of avocado with some sort of cream finished the dish. Strangely, the watermelon works well with the dish, helping moisten the pumpernickel. It was a nice dish, but not exceptional.

The next dish was what the waiter termed Vue de Monde's "signature dish of sorts". It was the Risotto with King Brown Mushroom and Truffles that I also had the first time. It was still amazingly beautiful in its simplicity and was close to the dish of the night.

We had asked for something with Foie Gras in it and we got a Foie Gras and Witlof Salad. It was very good, the richness of the foie gras balanced by the salad with it's many sweet components such as sultanas and apples and the bitterness of the witlof.

The next dish was a homage to Tetsuya we were told. It was Ocean Trout with Coconut Shell. The trout was cooked slowly in the oven at 60 degrees and finished off with a coconut shell that was burnt and left on the plate to infuse flavour into the fish under the plate lid. You then were suppose to break up the still burning coconut shell and eat it with the fish. As strange as this sounds, it tasted really good and worked well with the fish.

Glenoth Chicken with Mushroom was the next dish. The free range chicken was cooked beautiful and served with a mushroom sacue. Some fried pieces of something (I've forgotten) was wedged together with a chicken mixture. The chicken tasted really flavoursome, much more flavour than normal chicken.

The next dish looked sensational, with elements that worked and some that didn't. The Hare Tasting Plate consisted of a roll of hare jelly encasing a hare mixture, a piece of hare saddle and stuffed tomatoes. The hare jelly didn't taste good, although the mixture inside was nice. The piece of hare by itself was really good, as were the stuffed tomatoes. The beautiful curl is just potatoe. The clam looking thing is potatoe skin (I didn't like it) with a cream.

The now famous Vue Eggnog. There was Prune Eggnog, Pistachio Custard and Chocolate Mousse.

Dessert was sublime, simply a masterpiece of taste and textures. A Pistchio Souffle was served on a bed of light cream sauce. The souffle was so soft and broke apart like clouds when a spoon was dug in. This revealed a soft oozing centre of chocolate. The combination of tastes and various textures and temperatures was thoroughly enjoyed by Nelly and myself, both with sweet tooths.

And finally to finish, some Petit Fours. I loved the Hazelnut Macarons the most, the flavour just kept lingering in my mouth.

Vue de Monde was still a fantastic fine dining experience. The food didn't amaze me as much as last time, but was still extremely good. The service was utterly impeccable, the best service of any restaurant in Melbourne I assert. The atmosphere was still very good, not as good as on Saturday I felt, but still very enjoyable. Overall, I would still come and dine here anytime, money permitting.

Overall Rating: 19/20, A near perfect dining experience with exceptional food and service.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Vue De Monde on Urbanspoon

The Brasserie By Philippe Mouchel - Part 2

Riverside at Crown
Ph: (03) 9292 7808

The lunch deal at The Brasserie is really good value. I had a great meal last time and was looking forward to going again.

A catchup lunch with Visal was the perfect opportunity. We arrived near 12pm and were one of the first customers. We were seated near the high ceiling window overlooking the Yarra, a great view. The weather outside went from sunny to dark skies with 45 degree raindrops and blistering wind all while we were deciding what to order. The glass windows came out of their groove at the bottom and were starting to wobble a lot. After some struggles by the waiters, they temporarily wedged some wooden blocks while moving us to the next table.

All that drama was handled smoothly by the wait staff and provided a bit of excitement for us. Here's Visal sitting calmly before the literal storm where the window looked like it might cave in on her.

I talked Visal into going three courses, and despite her initial fears that she couldn't finish everything, she did. For entrees, she got the Pan Seared Scallops with ginger, chives, cous cous, vegetables and Argan oil. Visal loved it, and I had food envy.

My entree of Spanner Crab Cocktail with eggplante compote and avocado cream sounded better on paper. The crab was nice and there was lots of it, but eggplant compote wasn't good at all and there was so much avocado cream that it was really sickening.

For mains, Visal choose the Gold Band Snapper with eringi mushrom and crushed potatoes. She liked it but said it wasn't amazing. This time it was her turn to have food envy.

My mains of Lamb Rump with capsicum and fennel, olive and anchovy jus was so moist and delicious.

The dish that stole the show though, was one of the side dish. The Oven-roasted vegetables consisted of eggplant and capsicum and was good. But the Sauteed mushrooms with Parisienne gnocchi was amazing. The gnocchi was so addictive and went perfectly with the mushroom.

To finish off the meal, we had the Dessert Tasting Plate. There were many elements to each, all of it very good. There were sorbets, rum baba, panna cotta, semifreddo, chocolate fondants and macarons. A great decadent way to end a great meal.

The atmosphere in The Brasserie is always calm and of casual elegance. Visal and I had a great chat over a very relaxed meal. Service was impeccable and faultless, as it should be at top end restaurant.

Overall Rating: 17/20, A great atmosphere and good, with the lunch special fantastic value for money.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Brasserie By Philippe Mouchel on Urbanspoon


74-76 Kingsway
Glen Waverley 3150
Ph: (03) 9561 9888

Shine is one of those cafe/restaurant that do every type of cuisine imaginable....badly. I've been to it quite a few times (not of my choosing) and never has it been good. The menu reads well but the reality is overprice badly done food.

As an example, here's some dishes we had at our last visit.

Steak and Mash, how can you go wrong right. Well, you go wrong by cooking a medium steak until it's well done and so chewy that it's barely eatable. And who needs that big a pile of mash?

Seafood Linguini is a gluggy and used a lot of frozen seafood. And who needs a massive ring of oil around the plate?

Moroccan Lamb is drier than sand.

Chicken Parma has this huge bubbly mess of cheese on the top. Again, too much.

Chicken and Avocado on bread sounded safe. Wrong. Chicken pieces are a bit dry but still edible. Avocado, well, it's just avocado, who can you ruin that. Bread is ok too. So what went wrong. well, they stick it all together and pour this disgusting sweet chilli sauce thing over it. Where on the menu does it say there is a sweet chilli sauce.

My opinion is stay away from this place if possible. Service is flaky at best, food is not good and overpriced.

Overall Rating: 9/20, If you really can't find anywhere else, eat here as the food is just edible.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Shine Cafe Bar & Lounge on Urbanspoon


15 Glenferrie Road
Malvern VIC 3144
Phone (03) 9500 0665

A work mate had suggested Maris as a place I should try. So, I decided to give it a try. It's a fine dining restaurant on Glenferrie road just off Prince Highway. It seems a bit out of place on that end of Glenferrie road but we turned up to find a packed restaurant with most of the customers dressed nicely in their smart casual wear. I was wearing my Hawks polo. Compare and constrast.

The restaurant has a very cosy feel, as it is narrow and long in length. The interior decor consists of electic art such as wooden toys, tapestry and legs of ham hanging in the window. I liked it all and felt really comfortable.

We were seated, the wine was poured, and then we waited, and waited. Finally, after about 10 minutes, we waved a waiter down and asked for the menu. Here is Sey Veng, Jo and I waiting for the menu and snapping some photos.

Before the entrees, we received some deliciously warm bread served in a cute straw basket shaped like a chicken. Offers for more bread were accepted but quickly forgotten and we never received more bread.

An amuse bouche started the meal. But again, this was a while ago and I've since forgotten what it was completely. I only remember that it was good and did indeed cleanse the palate.

The first entree to share was a Prawn and Calamari dish with pasta with tomato, rocket and native lime foam. This contrast with the tanginess of the lime worked well with the seafood. I really liked this dish.

The second entree was Grilled Quail with barley, soft duck egg and shimeji mushroom. The creaminess of the duck egg enveloped the quail meat and gave it a beautiful silky feel. I wasn't completely sold on the barley.

For mains, Jo got the Yellow Tail Kingfish with crispy Spanish ham, baby leeks, almond and mushrooms. It definitely looked spectacular with the foam and flower petals, but the taste was all a bit strange and didn't work.

Kin got the King George Whiting with braised rice with chorizo and cuttlefish and mussel sauce. The whiting were cooked to perfection and beautiful. But again, the accompanying flavours didn't work well with the fish.

Sey Veng got the Slow Cooked Beef with Swiss chard, olive oil and Parmesan. This dish really worked with the beef so soft and falling apart. The simpler accompany flavours helped compliment the beef instead of overpowering it.

The best mains would be the Free Range Suckling Pig with smokey potato cream and pickled vegetables that I chose. The skin on the pig was crisp without being chewy. The meat was tender and gelatinous in places. The accompanying potato was great with the pork. The pickled vegetables provided the occasional sour contrast. A great dish overall.

Between mains, we waited for them to ask us about desserts. Twenty minutes later and still nothing. We were happy to sit there and talk, but not a single waiter walked over to ask us if we wanted desserts. The waiter who cleared the table didn't ask, our waitress for the night didn't ask, nothing. Finally we asked for the dessert menu, twice.

Before desserts, we got another palate cleanser, which I would have happily had as dessert. It was a Peach Ice Cream with Passionfruit Curd and Passionfruit Pulp. It would seriously have to be one of the best sweet offerings I've had all year. The flavours and textures just worked so amazingly well, and it was only suppose to be a palate cleanser.

Hence, my expectations for dessert was extremely high, and it did not disappoint. The trio of desserts we shared definitely has been the best offering from any restaurant this year so far.

So firstly, there was the Vin Santo Pannacotta with macerated figs and apricots with almond biscuit and ice cream. The texture of the pannacotta was a nice soft smooth feel, with a hint of the wine. The figs and apricots gave the occasional fruity bite, and the ice cream complemented with pannacotta. A fantastic dish.

The Quince and Amaretti Crumble with Moscato jelly, peach ice cream and vanilla was another triumph. Quince crumbles are always good, but this one was amazingly good. The amaretti crumble already lifts the quince, but when you ate it all with the moscato jelly and peach ice cream, the contrast in textures, heat and flavours makes it a near perfect dessert.

Lastly, the Valrhona Chocolate Roll with chocolate ice cream, rum soaked prunes and bitter sweet orange again had me going mmmmm a lot. You can't go too wrong with chocolate, but the rum in the prunes again gave it another dimension. And then to contrast it with the rather bitter orange, genius I say.

Well, how to sum up. It was such a mix bag. I love the ambience and that nice cosy feel. The service was rather shocking. The wait staff looked really confused and were running all over the place. There didn't seem to be a head waiter controlling things.

As for the food, on the whole it was really good. Apart from a couple of the fish mains, everything else was excellent. The desserts were a clear standout for me, but I am more partial to sweet foods. I would go back anyday of the week to eat the suckling pig and desserts again. I would forgive the service as well just because the food was so damn good. This place could easily be a two hat restaurant if only the service was better.

Price wise, the cost is very fair I believe. Mains are around the $30 mark and entrees and desserts between $15 - $18.

Overall Rating: 16/20, Food was spectacular, but service let things down.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Maris on Urbanspoon