Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sean's Kitchen [3]

I caught up with 3 of my good friends (Australia's future doctors ;) ) over lunch at a favourite of mine, Sean's Kitchen. I have been raving about Sean's since my first visit so my friends were very keen to try it out! On my previous visits, I didn't need to make a booking so we decided to meet there at 1:30. Good thing we were all a bit early because it absolutely packed and we were seated at the last free table. You wouldn't think a restaurant as large as Sean's could be that busy for a midweek lunch session, but it was! We decided to each order a dish and share some sides.

 Mac & Cheese $8

I insisted on ordering this because it was amazing last time I had it! I must admit, it tasted better the first time round, but this was still delicious. Creamy and cheesy; the king of comfort food!

 Duck fat chips - 'The Original' $10

The same as last time - delicious while hot but unpleasant once it had cooled down. The spiced tomato ketchup was delicious and the perfect accompaniment to the chips.

 Soft Shell Crab Sandwich $16
Green goddess dressing

Julie L's meal looked so cute! The soft shell crab was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, paired with the green goddess dressing that added freshness to the sandwiches. 

 Sean's Caesar $18

Julie H really enjoyed her caesar but she said it wasn't the best she's ever had. The caesar was sufficiently 'cheesy' (as you can probably tell) but she felt like it needed croutons for the extra crunch. There was a bread crumb sprinkled over the top but it just couldn't replace the croutons.

 Quinoa & Borlotti Bean Summer Salad $18
Freekeh, chia, bean

This sounded and looked super healthy! Jenny said it was tasty but not exactly a satisfying lunch. She thought it would've made a great side dish.

Sweet Pea & Parmesan Risotto $18
"cheesy peas"

I have been wanting to try this dish since I saw it being brought out to a table next to me the first time I dined here! I loved how the dish was presented (check out my Instagram video post here!) which certainly added a flair. The risotto was creamy and had a strong parmesan flavour, but the serving size was perfect so I wasn't left feeling very full and weighed down. 

Sean's Kitchen's Instagram and Facebook pages were advertising these muffins which I was told were freshly baked on the premises that morning, so I picked up one of each flavour to try - apple strudel, and raspberry, white chocolate & macadamia. 

Yum! Both were light and fluffy, and not overly sweet. Wouldn't hesitate to buy more next time if they're still available!

Another fantastic food experience at Sean's. It was my fourth time here and I haven't been disappointed once! Service this time was a little slow, possibly because we were seated outside behind a pillar so it was hard to get the attention of the waitress in charge of our section. Despite being packed to the brim, our food came out at once after about a 15 minute wait. I can't wait to come back and continue trying out the rest of the menu! 

Sean's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Adriano Zumbo Patissier - #MELB2014


Ah, Adriano Zumbo. He needs absolutely no introduction, and I was so excited to visit his Melbourne store especially after seeing all of his amazing creations on Masterchef as well as all over social media.

Zonut $5
Flavour of the week: Spicy chocolate mudcake and marinated cherries

The day this photo was posted on their Facebook and Instagram page was the day before we left for Melbourne so I immediately sent a screenshot to my friends who would be accompanying. Let's just say they weren't too pleased seeing as we had seen flavours such as 'mousse au chocolate with orange and brandy snaps', 'coconut and dark chocolate' and 'spiced mascarpone with caramelised pecans and candied orange' all over their Facebook page. It was actually an absolute delight! I realised I actually enjoy the combination of chilli and chocolate way more than I thought. The mudcake was rich and very chocolatey, and the amount of spice it contained was just right to provide a bit of a kick! The marinated cherries were sweet and reminiscent of jam, a perfect accompaniment to the mudcake. The zonut itself was flakey, buttery and all you could really want from a cronut.

Pars the strawberry gran $9
Strawberry & white chocolate mousse, frangipane, parsley jelly and granola

A super light cake with subtle, fresh flavours. The mousse was light and fluffy while the cake base was spongey. The parsley jelly had a very obvious parsley taste on its own, but when paired with everything else it was barely noticeable. The granola added a crunchy texture and nuttiness into the mix, giving a well rounded dessert. We all shared this but I could have easily eaten the entire thing myself!

Parsley jelly layer!

Zumbarons for the trip home! A dozen for $30

I am so disappointed to report that although they were beautiful, they didn't live up to my expectations. The textures all varied from crumbly and dry to slightly chewy. I found that many of the fillings contained too much butter (I think?) that the flavours weren't coming through very well. For example, the Grape Hubba Bubba (far right). Just look at that filling to biscuit ratio! Honorable mentions go to the Berry Brulee (2nd from the right) and Malted Milkshake (the blue one) which were my favourites in terms of flavour and texture.

I was a little let down by the Zumbarons but the cake and Zonut were fantastic! Can't wait for my next visit so I can try the other beautiful things on display. Service was friendly and efficient, and the store is gorgeous!

Adriano Zumbo Pâtissier on Urbanspoon

James Buns


A long overdue catch up with one of my good friends from high school brought us to James Buns, a place which recently opened up on Gouger St called James Buns to satisfy our dumpling cravings. I had my eye on the xiao long bao because I have always wanted to try them and was very disappointed with the ones I had on my trip to Melbourne.  

Homemade Chinese iced tea $4

I had a sip of Sophie's drink and it was ridiculously sweet. She thought it tasted a bit like bubble tea (which I cannot attest to as I haven't drunk bubble tea years).

Fried rice with prawns $9.50 

I don't usually expect much from fried rice whenever I'm dining out but this was better than I expected. Simple, but a little on the salty side although that could just be my personal preference.

Spicy wonton with pork and Chinese spinach fillings $9.80

So addictive! The dumpling skins were very thin and the sauce was full of flavour, but not very spicy, so this was very easy to eat. My only criticism was that the sauce was far too oily.   

James' pork juicy steam buns $8.80

The moment of truth. The skin of the dumplings weren't too thick, but still thick enough to hold in all the soup. And yes, they contained soup! I think this might be the last time I have something like this for a while however, as I saw that the soup contained a lot of impurities, probably from the meat filling as it was cooked. It looked so unappetising pouring out onto my spoon, I've been completely put off. 

Stir fried vegetables with garlic sauce $6.50

We ordered these just to have some greens on the table. Soggy and disappointing, unfortunately!

Nothing about this meal seemed to have that 'wow' factor. My favourite dish was the spicy wontons, but even they weren't enough to win me over. I read a lot of bad reviews regarding the service so I paid particular attention to this while I was there, and it wasn't bad at all. Not the best I have encountered but the waitresses were friendly and helpful, and the food didn't take very long to come out after we placed our order.
Sorry James Buns, I don't think I'll be seeing you again for a while!

James Buns on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Kutchi Deli Parwana

One of my closest friends is half Afghan, and when we heard this place was opening in town earlier this year, we made a note to try it together as soon as we could! With her studying medicine and me studying optometry, each at different universities with timetables that annoyingly didn't align for lunch, the arrival of holidays meant that we were finally able to catch up properly. 
Kutchi Deli Parwana opens only for lunch and doesn't take bookings, so we were hoping that arriving at around 12:30pm on a Thursday would most likely guarantee us a table. Lucky we did, because by 12:45pm, there wasn't a seat left!

 Details! Loved the vibrant colours on the inside, especially on the bright tiles.

Kutchi Deli Parwana has a simple menu, most of which I will I admit I didn't really recognise. I left the ordering to my friend, and stood by the counter inhaling the amaaazing smells coming from the open kitchen!

 Mantu in lamb mince and yoghurt $12
Steamed dumplings stuffed with onion and carrot

The dumplings had a thin skin that held in the melt-in-your-mouth filling, and tasted incredible with the lamb and yoghurt. It was hard for Natalie to describe the flavours to me, let alone have me describe it, so the best I'll be able to do is the lamb mince in the rich, spiced sauce is what gave most of the dish flavour, which was complimented by the light mint yoghurt. I can definitely seeing myself ordering this again.

Morgh Degee $14
Chicken pieces, marinated in Afghan spices with naan, salad and chutney

The chicken meat was so tender and full of flavour, and both of us could rave about the mint chutney all day!

It was great to try something different for lunch today, and I'm so glad I did because it was incredible. I can't wait to come back and try more of their menu! Natalie is sure her mother will love it, which is a good sign that this place is the real deal. We've made a note to try out the original Parwana on Henley Beach Road some time in the near future!

Kutchi Deli Parwana on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Soda Rock Diner - #MELB2014

Day 3 - Lunch

Already the last day of our super short trip! Today we wanted to fit in a trip to Chapel St as well as go to Adriano Zumbo, Burch & Purchese and possibly even Luxbite. Having already visited Zumbo in the morning, we decided to do a quick, fuss-free lunch. We really struggled to find a place to eat, and ended up here at Soda Rock Diner.

What a claim to make!

50s style booths with cute little jukeboxes. Our waitress was getting around in skates!

Chicken Breast Nuggets $7.95
Chicken breast coated in golden crumbs

Ordered to satisfy the little kid in all of us! I think this was also our first time trying ranch dressing. The nuggets tasted like your typical 'out of the supermarket freezer aisle' nuggets.

Cheese fries $7.95
A bowl of crispy fries smothered in melted tasty cheese

This looked ridiculously good when it arrived at the table. Unfortunately the chips had no salt on them so it was all rather bland.
Hubcap $8.95
Beef patty, lettuce, tomato, pickes, sweet pickle relish, mustard and mayonnaise

Cheeseburger $7.95
Beef patty, double tasty cheese, ketchup

3 of us went for their most popular burger, the Hubcap, and Kym went for something a little simpler, the Cheeseburger. All burgers were tasty but nothing special. The patties were inconsistently cooked, with some of us served very dry beef. I don't know about the claim of being Melbourne's best beef burger! We all thought the bun was going to be very dense and difficult to eat but it was actually very soft yet still held the burger together.

American candy and snacks on the counter by the till

Quite standard food but I really liked the relaxed vibe of the whole restaurant. Can't say it's at the top of my places to revisit the next time I'm back in Melbourne, though!

Soda Rock Diner on Urbanspoon

Monday, 8 December 2014

Shanghai Street Dumpling - #MELB2014

Day 2 - Dinner

I've been wanting to try xiao long bao ever since they first appeared on my instagram feed a while back. I wanted to try out HuTong Dumpling Bar but apparently you have to call and book in advance to secure a table. Instead, my friends and I dropped into Shanghai Street Dumpling which also seems to be rather popular. We decided to have an early dinner after an exhausting shopping expedition at DFO in South Wharf before spending the evening at the Eureka Skydeck and the CBD for more shopping and food, so getting a table was no issue at 5:30pm.

Seafood fried rice $12.80

Nothing really special about this - just your standard fried rice with prawns, fish and crab cake slices. The rice wasn't too soggy which I liked.

Fried pork dumplings $9.80

Tasty but nothing special. I liked how the dumpling skins weren't too thick.

Steamed chicken and prawn dumplings $9.80

These look rather sad, don't they? Again, nothing special!

Steamed chicken and prawn xiao long bao $11.80

I was so excited when these came out because I thought I was finally able to try my first xiao long bao! Imagine my disappointment when I placed one on my spoon and bit into the skin, only to find that there was no soup or even meat juices in it... Such a let down. The filling was identical to the steam chicken and prawn dumplings.

 Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce $11.80

We ordered this just to satisfy our veggie intake for the meal. You can't really screw this up and they didn't! My only criticism was that it was a little oily, but what else do you expect from Chinese food?

Unfortunately, that was a rather average meal and I'm so upset about the xiao long bao! This place would be good to satisfy your Chinese food cravings, as there is a decent menu and the food arrives at the table very efficiently. Warning - do not come here expecting fantastic service because you get the complete opposite. Honestly, the waiters and waitresses all look like they hate their job, and they will just plonk the dishes down on your table (even if the plate doesn't fit) and saunter off. Oh well...  

Shanghai Street Dumpling on Urbanspoon