Chilli time at Chin Chin…

Another dunch at another no-bookings restaurant… Dunch is a 3pm Friday lunch that allows us to get into the super popular restaurants and means we don’t have to go back to work!

Finally Frank goes to Chin Chin!

With the Friday lunch gang who survived the habenero chilli incident at Mamasita we were looking forward to more hot dishes ahead of us. The restaurant was absolutely packed. Even at 3pm. According to the waitress Chin Chin is actually packed from the minute it opens until the minute it closes every day. I believe her. Unlike our Mamasita experience we were not even slightly rushed through our meal. We sat at our table until 7pm stuffing ourselves with the ‘feed me’ menu (highly recommended but make sure you are hungry!)

A cocktail on a arrival… Do it!

Kingfish Sashimi with lime, chilli, coconut and thai basil

The papaya salad was really hot! We thought we could handle it and to our credit no one ordered milk but it was def the hottest dish of the day. The girls needed a ciggie break after this one just to calm the palate…?

Spicy hot green papaya salad with chargrilled red chilli, prawn floss and peanuts

Organic pork satay with cucumber, pineapple, crushed peanuts and 3 flavour sauce

Crispy skin duck with pickled cucumber and ginger salad and sesame salt and fresh lemon

Organic silken tofu salad with thai basil and hot, sweet, bitter dressing

The tofu was my favourite dish. Fried tofu is one of my favourite things ever and in combination with chilli and the dressing it was an absolute winner.

Massaman Curry – Hopkins River braised beef brisket with pink fir apple potatoes and crispy shallots

This was the first time I have tried Massaman curry. Another one of those times I wonder why the hell it took me so long. I have had it at least three times since!

Palm sugar ice-cream sundae with salted honeycomb and lime syrup

An obligatory dessert of course. YUM! We actually had two desserts the sundae above and the grilled banana roti bread with condensed milk and cinnamon sugar which was sensational but looked pretty average in my photo so just trust me, It’s a must-order. Now you understand why you need to be hungry to order ‘feed me’in fact, I think there was meant to be another course but we just couldn’t fit it in and still have room for dessert.

Chin Chin was every bit as good as the hype! I hate waiting for restaurants but I probably would wait in the cool downstairs bar for this one…. Or go again for Friday dunch of course.

Chin Chin on Urbanspoon

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The Super Six at Ocha…

I had heard a lot about this local gem of a restaurant Ocha, in it’s old form in Kew. Now in a shiny new premises on Barker’s Rd Hawthorn, I organised a gang together to do the monthy Mon night degustation. This normally occurs on the last Monday of each month and consists of a 10 course menu at $120 per head. Unfortunately for us, we scheduled in a month where a famous noodle chef decided to visit from Japan and the degustation night got moved to a date we were unable to attend. So rather than reschedule a whole month away, we decided to make the most of the very reasonable $7 per head BYO policy on the Friday night instead.

The menu was very long, so many choices, don’t want to stuff up! So, as per my preferred way of ordering, we let the staff take control. We thought this would deliver the best degustation experience without actually having to spend $120 per head… pretty smart right? Here is a selection of what we ate… Yep, we were very hungry…

Japanese meatball

wasabi infused salmon tartare on homemade potato crisp with flying fish roe

Crunchy prawn dumpling served with green tea salt

Grilled scallop in its shell with Ocha’s hollandaise sauce

Crunchy calamari “legs“ tossed with fresh chilli and garlic

Pork belly special

Sushi & sashimi platter with soft shell crab rolls

Miso marinated black cod, grilled and served on salad

“Would you like dessert?”

Silly question really… The dessert menu is definitely worth a look, once again there are lots of choices! We went with this super crispy banana fritter and a perfect “ooey, gooey, chocolate pudding”.

deep fried crunchy rice flake covered banana with chocolate sauce & green tea icecream

One side of the table also had free entertainment as we watched the SUPER AWKWARD action of a new couple (arguably a first date) unfold. A seriously over the top date, with both participants dressed to the nines, with perfect ringlets and dripping in jewellery. He even reached across and kissed her hand over their meals. Cute right? Or gross! Ha!

One thing we hadn’t accounted for on this Friday night was just how thirsty we would actually be. We brought along 3 bottles of wine but the boys decided it was premium japanese beer night and proceeded to drink 10 steins between them… I am not bringing this up to shame them, us girls ordered at least another bottle (and I think a couple of glasses) of delicious german reisling, but rather to explain the size of the bill; it equated to $125 per person which shocked us until we delved a little deeper into our hydration habits. We were certainly satisfied though by the amount and the quality of food.

I was unsatisfied the next morning however, when I woke up with a humungous hangover, only to be informed by smartypants Ben, that German reisling has a higher sulphur level than most white wines, and should really be drunk in moderation (like all wines obviously)… I informed Ben right back, that this information would have been super handy to have accompanied his wine reccomendations (all German reislings) at the time, the night before…
Ocha on Urbanspoon

First try of Hanoi Hannah

A quick run through of our lunch trip today. Hanoi Hannah on High St, Prahran. There has been a lot of hype about this tiny restaurant/bar. The Facebook page had numerous fans before it officially open a week or so ago. A friend told me they walked past on Tuesday night at 10pm and the place was pumping, with Melbourne celebrities sitting out the front. To say I was excited about good, cheap, Vietnamese food on the south side would be a massive understatement. Reading the menu increased excitement levels… Yummy, springy, spring rolls, pho, something called ‘a pork belly slider’ which I was super intrigued by and spiced quail, my favourite!

Unfortunately it was not to be. Don’t get me wrong, the rice paper rolls and spring rolls were fine and I can definitely see myself cruising by to pick some up on the way home from work. The chilli prawn salad looked great and tasted great according to my dining buddy.

Prawn & chilli salad

The other two Vietnamese salads were okay but devastatingly the pork belly sliders and quail were on the *dinner menu only* dammit! The bar area is cool and the cocktails are apparently awesome but it was the last day of Feb (THANK GOD) so no cocktails for us… Overall the meal was good but not like Quan 88, it just seemed to be missing the flavour kick, whether that means spice, or herbs, or something… it was missing…. But, we paid 15 bucks each for lunch which is pretty rare and I will def go back to try the *dinner menu only* dishes that I am now officially craving! I will keep you posted…
Hanoi Hannah on Urbanspoon

Seafood delight at the Waterfront

Social Saturday part 3…

After pilates, a 3 course Eurotrash lunch at Caffe e Cucina and a stinking hot engagement party in the late afternoon sun, it was back in the car to Waterfront at Station Pier, Port Melbourne… I considered a Red Bull…. Anyway, we wouldn’t normally do family dinner at such a flashy restaurant but with a super special guest in town (my aunt from the UK), not to mention my Canberrian sister and boyfriend, it seemed a good excuse to try out my parent’s local. And flashy it was! It is a HUGE restaurant, so big that when I arrived a little late from my previous engagement, and flustered after not being able to find a car park anywhere, I was unable to find my family. Even after three laps around the restaurant I actually had to call Dad to come out to the front to find me… Loser… It feels like a very ‘Sydney’ space. Not exactly intimate, but we seemed to have a small back room to ourselves. A little private function for six. A spectacular room over the water, with never-ending horizons due to some cleverly placed mirrors. I would definitely request this room if you can!

A magnificent view from the dinner table

Waterfront is known to be pretty exy so expect to spend over $100 a head for 2-3 courses and wine. We had great service and the food looked very pretty when it arrived. The menu is seafood focused with asian influence. For my second three course meal of the day, I decided on an entree of scallops with duck breast and a light, steamed barramundi for main. I also shared a number of tastes around the table. The 14 hour cooked pork belly was pretty spesh!

Seared scallops, smoked duck breast & cauliflower puree

14 hour cooked pork belly with scallop, a beetroot crisp & apple puree

Whole Snapper with caper butter & roasted chat potatoes

Seared snapper fillets with spinach, asian mushrooms & pureed jerusalem artichoke

The standout dish of the night was the paella for two. Though, I would have thought you could easily share it between three! It was deliciously flavoured with just the right amount of heat (spice) and most importantly, the thing that commonly ruins a paella for me, just enough saffron to colour the dish, as opposed to take over the flavour.

Seafood paella for two

I can’t ever go past a Bombe Alaska on the dessert menu and this one looked beautiful… I ate most of it as nobody else actually wanted dessert… though they consented to me ordering one for the table. It maybe tasted a little artificial but that didn’t stop me dammit!

Bombe Alaska for two

We had a great night! Be prepared to pay a lot which is harder to justify these days with so much GREAT competition out there but the ambience of the back room really made it.

Perfect for a special event night if you know what I mean…

Waterfront on Urbanspoon

2011 part 3 – Gingerboy’s famous Son in Law eggs

A short post here because I don’t actually have any photos of our meal at Gingerboy but there is definitely a small lesson to be learned to avoid serious embarrassment at the very least…

We booked as a group of four and were led upstairs through the SUPER busy restaurant. Like, seriously busy and seriously squished-in (my only complaint from the evening was how squished we were and often getting bumped by other diners or the waitstaff). Absolutely no complaints about the food. South East Asian influenced, hawker style sharing plates. My perfect dinner… mainly because I am not shy… or polite when it comes to taking the last piece…

Probably the most talked about dish at Gingerboy is the son-in-law eggs which we were very excited to try. Whole eggs, lightly battered and then deep fried, served with delish herbs, spices & chilli jam (a pic I borrowed from somewhere else..).

Gingerboy's famous son-in-law eggs

We asked how do we eat these? (I was concerned about losing any of the melty goodness myself) and were told to put the whole thing into our mouths… A whole egg? I wasn’t sure…. even though it was soft inside it seemed like a lot to put in all in one go… At this point I will tell you that I have done a lot of research since, across numerous food blogs and reviews and what happened next doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident so definitely worthy of a warning…

We all put the eggs in our mouths and for most of us, it was a highly enjoyable, if slightly suffocating moment… Unfortunately for one of us it wasn’t so enjoyable as my friend tried to breathe and accidentally sucked a little egg into her windpipe… this was followed by some intense choking (and laughing which didn’t help the situation), all the while trying desperately to keep this whole egg in her mouth… yolk started to run down her chin…. Ben and I were in tears with laughter, and concern obviously… my concern was that yolk would start coming out her noes. Her boyfriend was not amused, displaying a combination of disgust and embarrassment which made the whole situation even funnier… Finally she managed to catch her breath, wipe or swallow most of the egg and take a big gulp of wine to wash away the whole experience… I think for next time we will be using cutlery…

Overall, it was a great night. Gingerboy is busy and noisy, with a bar-like atmostphere. The wine list felt pretty exy in comparison with the food but we did drink quite a bit to try and block out ‘the incident”…

Gingerboy on Urbanspoon

2011 part 2 – The fine food of Bali…

Okay another flashback but not too far this time…

Six months ago, on an amazing girls trip to Bali, I got my eat on in a serious way! It was such an amazing trip that we have booked in again for 2012 so you can expect another posting like this later in the year. We visited a few old favourites and some newbies…

KU DE TA is still my favourite place for daytime nibbles by the beach, 10 years after the first time I visited. This time around, we stayed in Uluwatu, far from the hustle and bustle which was wonderful but it made our trips in to Seminyak less frequent and therefore much busier. On this occasion we had spent the morning at Bodyworks for pampering sessions and were re-fuelling before an afternoon of shopping. See what I mean about busy? Perfect day really!

tomato gazpacho with shredded prawns, cucumber, peppers & sourdough croutons

soft shell crab salad with green beans, cherry tomatoes, chilli, lime leaf, mint, coriander, peanuts, & nham jim

tuna carpaccio with preserved lemon, fried capers, chilli and salmoriglio dressing

lobster & pork gyoza with spring onion & black pepper vinegar

The view from KU DE TA at our lunch..

Next up is Sarong which was my favourite dinner spot for the last trip. We had to book for this one. Frikkin awesome asian food served up in a heavily decorative room… Think red velvet drapes, gold brocade and heaps of chandeliers. Amazing ambience. I can’t remember the exact dishes but I can tell you it was the best pork belly I have ever had… and believe me, I have had a lot!

incredible pork belly - crap pic unfortunately

... can't remember what this was... very green though!

pretty lights

lightly cooked fish from the coconut grill with chilli vinegarette

chilli prawns with pink grapefruit and mint. This was SERIOUSLY HOT in the chilli way! YUM

empty plates

Finally, two pictures from our favourite place in Bali… Nammos Beach Club at Karma Kandara Resort. We spent way too many days lazing on this beach, munching on the incredible parmesan truffle fries and delicious pizzas and drinking Coronas or Bintang…. Can’t wait to be back here…

the beach club

my fav nammos pizza - fig, gorgonzola & prosciutto

And that it all on Bali… for now…