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Tag Archives: japanese

One Plus Piece Café (Balwyn, Melbourne) – a Review

Melbourne is an awesome city for brunch lovers like me. I love to sleep in on weekends and wake up rather late into the day and so I get excited everytime I hear of a café offering an amazing breakfast/brunch/lunch menu.

I have one complaint though; most places have less choice when it comes to savoury breakfasts when compared to the sweeter counterparts. And even when savoury is offered, there’s not much interesting going on beyond the egg bacon routine. But I have met my match at One Plus Piece Café; these guys love savoury and they do it just my way!

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Situated on Whitehorse Road, Balwyn, One Plus Piece Café is a quaint, unassuming space from the outside. But inside, it’s a Japanese anime lover’s paradise. Now I am not a big fan of Japanese anime but I do love the little figurines, dolls and art work. The interiors reminded me so much of the Dojo Ramen Bar, though on a smaller scale.

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On the menu is a nice little description on what ‘One Plus Piece’ stands for, a little pirate story that my son enjoyed reading and then trying to connect it with the décor around. The glasses that arrived on the table were rustic, pirate themed cans much to his delight!

There’s plenty of regular breakfast fare on the menu for those who want something familiar. But what sets this place really apart from the many cafes around is the Asian influence and twists to many of the dishes and these are what you need to really try out.

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I have heard that the coffee here is really good; a custom house blend roasted by 5 Senses. Usually I don’t let go of any opportunity to have a coffee but a few other signature drinks here beckoned me. It was a super hot day and so I chose the Tik Tok, a refreshing blend of apple, carrot, cucumber, celery, beetroot and ginger. It was delicious, ticked all the boxes for me especially with my love for vegetable juices. It was cold, delicious, refreshing and so good for you. I totally recommend this one.

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The boys decided to try out S.A.M – the only reason being the big fella’s name is Sam and the little fella loves sparkling apple juice. S.A.M was a very colourful drink, a signature drink made from organic sparkling apple juice and organic Japanese matcha. It was really good but I preferred the Tik Tok more; not a big fan of matcha yet.

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I was invited to try out the menu at One Plus Piece so we ordered only the drinks. The food we had was pre-selected by Chef Ryan who definitely seemed to understand our taste buds.

The highlight of the brunch experience was this dish – Mr. Franky which is a couple of roti rolls with ham and cheese, two perfectly fried eggs and topped with smashed avocado, sour cream, tomato salsa and a final drizzle of organic tomato relish. An absolute cracker of a dish, this is how I would love to brunch everyday. It was those toppings that took a very humble roti with eggs to a whole new level. It was spicy but just right, gooey runny eggs and that tomato relish was to die for. My son went totally gaga over this one and declared it his favourite dish ever.

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I am a big fan of Karage (Japanese fried chicken) and so I was thrilled when I got the Japanese fried chicken burger with chipotle mayo, cheese and mayo. The chicken was splendid; juicy inside with that crunchy exterior (the Japanese sure know how to fry stuff) but it was the chipotle mayo that I loved. You could actually taste the heat of the chipotle heat which made this a winning dish for me. Often when you order chipotle mayo, you do notice a colour difference but there’s hardly any flavour or heat kick. This one was full of flavour with that nice spicy kick which does wonders on your taste buds.

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The final dish we had was the One Piece – double chilli beef, double bacon, double cheese, caramelized onions, mushroom, lettuce and a secret 1 piece sauce. This is how burgers must be; meaty, juicy, cheesy and also spicy! Loved the burger but it was way too much for me to finish but the big boy was happy to oblige; in fact he was not keen on sharing it in the first place. Again a well made burger hitting all the right spots.

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Vegetarians need not get disappointed; there are quite good options on the menu like a mushroom omelette with chilli oil. Portobello mushroom burger, kale antioxidant salad etc and also some healthy smoothies to choose from. In fact, next time I am going to try out the mushroom omelette.

To summarize my experience, One Plus Piece is a great place to catch up for brunch with friends or family. Go beyond the regular fare and try out their signature Asian influenced dishes which are really amazing.  Definitely one to add to my brunch list.

One Plus Piece

266 Whitehorse Rd
Balwyn
VIC 3103

Phone no: (03) 9830 4459

Website:  facebook.com/pages/1-Piece

Timings:
Mon: 8 am to 5 pm
Tue: 8 am to 5 pm
Wed: 8 am to 5 pm
Thu: 8 am to 9 pm
Fri: 8 am to 9 pm
Sat: 8 am to 9 pm
Sun: 8 am to 5 pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of One Plus Piece and The World Loves Melbourne, but all the opinions expressed are entirely mine.

One Plus Piece Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

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Mr. Ramen San (Melbourne CBD) – a Review

Located on Bourke Street inside the Mid City Arcade (Chinatown precinct), Mr. Ramen San is easily one of Melbourne’s best ramen restaurants.

Mr. Ramen San has a rather unpretentious exterior and can be a tad difficult to spot if you aren’t familiar with the Chinatown precinct. The best way is to look out for the Mid City Arcade on Bourke Street and you can find the restaurant on the ground floor. But trust me; it will be well worth the effort!

Mr. Ramen San, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

The moment you enter the restaurant, you will be greeted with a smile and ‘Irasshaimase’ (welcome in Japanese). Customer service is taken seriously at Mr. Ramen San and the staff is extremely friendly and willing to help out all the time.

Mr. Ramen San, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

We were seated immediately and the menu cards were bought out promptly. The staff took time to explain the menu and how to order the ramen customizing it to your taste preferences. The first step is to choose the main topping; you have five selections – Charsu, Teriyaki Charsu, Beef Miso, Spicy Chicken and Fresh Seafood. Next you choose the soup base and the selections for this are Tonkotsu, Spicy Tonkotsu, Shoyu and Miso.

Mr. Ramen San, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

The signature dish at Mr. Ramen San is the Charsu Tonkotsu Ramen and what makes it so unique is the intensely flavourful white cloudy broth that is obtained from slow cooking pork bones and collagen for ten hours. The charsu is again stewed for several hours that it becomes melt-in-your-mouth (and I can vouch for its tenderness). No MSG, no artificial stock in the stock but the purest of ingredients cooked with expertise and passion by Head Chef Roystan who has exclusively trained with Japanese ramen masters.

The style of ramen that is served here comes from Kyushu, the picturesque southwestern most island of Japan. While I have always been a fan of ramen, I wasn’t particularly knowledgeable about the different types of ramen or the geographical differences. So I asked the staff to explain this bit to me which they gladly did. Indeed wonderful customer service.

Another unique feature of the ramen here is that the noodles are made fresh each day in the restaurant. The noodles are thin and have a wonderfully soft and chewy texture which makes it a rather unique experience. The ramen comes with a generous quantity of noodles but if you want more, just ask away; it’s totally free!

The drinks menu is limited but the perfect match for the food. You can choose from some great Japanese beers, cocktail draft beers or sake. For the non-alcohol drinkers, try the Japanese rice tea. While the hubby went for Sapporo draft beer (on tap), I went for a bottle of sake. The ice cold sake and the hot, delicious ramen was a match made in heaven.

Mr. Ramen San, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Mr. Ramen San, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

There is a small selection of side dishes but carefully thought of Japanese classics, all of which are easy on the palate preparing it for the ramen. It was a tad bit difficult to choose as all my favourites like Japanese gyoza and Edamame was on the menu, but the assorted Japanese mushrooms stood out. This is a cold side dish with an assortment of mushrooms cooked to perfection. My hubby who is not too fond of mushrooms loved it. A dainty looking dish with delicious texture and flavour, it worked as the perfect palate cleanser for the main meal. Totally recommended.

Mr. Ramen San, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

And now it was time for the glorious ramen.

I had to try out the spicy Tonkotsu Charsu ramen; if it’s got spice in it, I need to have it. And I wasn’t disappointed at all. All the painstaking work and love that went into making that broth worked wonders on my palate. It was rich, intense, packed with flavour and spicy, oh yes. Fresh noodles, perfectly cooked eggs, greens, bamboo shoots, mushrooms and the charsu which just melted on my taste buds. I loved the spicy flavour and totally recommend this one to all those who love that kick of heat.

Mr. Ramen San, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

The hubby, also wanting to try out the Tonkotsu went for the Spicy Chicken Tonkotsu Ramen. The broths were similar, the only difference being the ‘spice’ in mine. The chicken was light and delicious, a great non vegetarian alternative for those who do not eat pork or beef.

Mr. Ramen San, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

While the mum and dad were going gaga over the tonkotsu, the little fella decided to order on his own. He pointed at the menu and said he was going to have the Tsukemen ‘dipping’ ramen. I tried dissuading him as he wouldn’t do justice to the quantity of ramen served but he remained staunch. Well, the good thing was that I got to sample the much acclaimed Tsukemen but felt a tad bit guilty that he was able to only eat half.

Now are you wondering what is Tsukemen? Well, the main difference from the ramen is that the noodles and accompaniments are served in one bowl and the dipping broth in another. The broth is more meaty and intense than Tonkotsu. The staff also bought over a bottle of dashi and we were advised to pour some of it into the broth once he was done with the dipping. Then the broth gets thinned out and can be enjoyed as a light soup.

Mr. Ramen San, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Vegetarian and vegan options also available.

So make this your weekend project; especially recommended after a day of Christmas shopping in the CBD.

My rating – 8.5/10

Mr. Ramen San

Shop 12, 200 Bourke Street
(MidCity Centre)
Melbourne
Victoria 3000
Australia

Tel: (03) 9042 1588

Website: http://www.mrramensan.com.au/

Timings: Open every day; 11am to 3pm, 4pm to 9.30pm

Mr. Ramen San Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – We were guests at Mr. Ramen San but all the opinions expressed are entirely mine.

The Dojo Ramen Bar, Northcote (Melbourne) – a Review

Northcote is one of the foodie suburbs of Melbourne with a distinct sense of character and plenty of restaurants to choose from.

We were out shopping for a new camera in Northcote and that’s how we ended up at The Dojo Ramen Bar. Like I have said before, I do not read reviews of most restaurants I walk into. This is my way of keeping an open mind and not get influenced by what I have read. Not an exercise you should indulge in if you are not adventurous like I am.

The Dojo Ramen Bar has an unassuming exterior and is one of the several Asian restaurants that line High Street. Now, I don’t enjoy Japanese cuisine unless it is done well. So it is with a bit of trepidation that we entered the place.

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Once inside, I could feel my nerves calming down. It was not crowded for a busy weekday afternoon but the ambience was warm and inviting and I noticed that the few people inside were quite engrossed in their food. A good sign so far….

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The Dojo Ramen has a contemporary interior; modern meets traditional Japanese. There were plenty of Japanese animation figurines lining every nook and corner of the resto but done tastefully without being intrusive. The walls were covered with scenes from Japanese history and blended in well to the modern yet rustic ambience of the place.

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The waitress seated us immediately and bought over the menus.

For drinks, both of us decided to go the sake route. Dojo has a good collection of Japanese craft beers; the place even has a small area designated as the beer garden exclusively for the beverage lovers. But for us, it was sake….. While S decided on a glass of warm Dojo sake, I decided to try out the new Dojo sake punch, refreshing sake cocktail with mixed berries and lemonade punch.

Warm Dojo sake

Warm Dojo sake

Dojo sake punch

Dojo sake punch

While ordering the sake, S was asked if he preferred it warm or cold; he asked for the opinion of the waitress who encouraged to try the warm especially given that it was a cold afternoon. A suggestion S was willing to try and quite happy with the result too.

Same goes for the sake punch, it was refreshing and a delightful companion to the meal.
Then came the Cheesey rolls, deep fried cheese spring rolls with a dipping sauce. The first thought that I had was, ‘these are so small’ but this was quickly forgotten as the rolls were delicious and very moreish. Totally recommended especially if you have little children with you….

Cheesey rolls

Cheesey rolls

The next dish we ordered was the Japanese fried chicken or the Karaage chicken with a miso mayo dipping sauce. The quantity issue bothered me; I felt the price was slightly on the expensive side when compared to the quantity. But the chicken was spot on; fried to perfection, juicy and succulent inside. The dipping sauce with its salty miso taste paired beautifully with the chicken.

Japanese fried chicken with a miso mayo dipping sauce

Japanese fried chicken with a miso mayo dipping sauce

The final starter was the tempura prawns which disappointed me a bit. I make quite a good tempura myself so was disappointed that it did not match my expectations in a Japanese restaurant. The batter seemed fine but there was no flavour, it tasted a bit bland even with the dipping sauce.

Tempura prawns

Tempura prawns

Finally, it was time for the ramen. We ordered the Chilli Miso ramen; Miso tare with chilli mixed with The Dojo broth and topped with cha shu pork, ajitama egg, spring onion, nori seaweed and bamboo shots. Good quantity but just enough for one person without the starters. The broth was delicious, especially mentioning the pork and ajitama egg. Got an extra egg which at $2 for half an egg was a bit pricey. But the ramen is totally recommended.

Chilli Miso ramen (this is not the picture of the complete ramen, forgot to click a pic so this is after I divided the ramen into 3 bowls)

Chilli Miso ramen (this is not the picture of the complete ramen, forgot to click a pic so this is after I divided the ramen into 3 bowls)

Overall, a good experience. Though I do feel the food was a little pricey when compared to the quantity, I will still visit this place again for the ramen. It was indeed a fulfilling experience.

My rating: 7.5/10

The Dojo Ramen Bar

Address:
333 High St,
Northcote
Victoria 3070

Phone no: 03 9482-1247

http://www.dojoramen.com.au
http://www.facebook.com/dojoramen

Timings:

Tuesday – Friday: 5.00pm to late
Saturday, Sunday: 12pm to late

The Dojo Ramen Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer: Not a sponsored post; all the food and drinks were paid for by me.

Japanese Shrimp Fry (Ebi Fry) with Katsu Sauce

Suddenly there is this eerie silence at home! A new academic year has started and my son went ‘back’ to school today.

Though this is a going back, I experienced the same anxiety, excitement, silent nervousness that I felt last year when he started school for the very first time. It’s going to be a new class, new teacher, many new friends….hope he won’t miss his old teacher much, hope he will make new friends fast, hope he likes his new teacher……the list goes on.

Feelings that every mother goes through, especially paranoid ones like me. No, that’s not true. All mothers are paranoid. Period.

Personally, the best way for me to handle this inner turmoil is to engage myself in activities that I enjoy. And what more than cooking…..

Today, I am stepping out totally from my comfort zone and trying my hand at a Japanese dish. I am a newborn to this cuisine, yet to understand or experience its foundations. Japanese cuisine is a highly refined one and still remains an enigma to most except for sushi and sashimi and the occasional don.

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I am doing an easy one today, a classic that is totally befitting a beginner. Japanese shrimp fry with katsu sauce.

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Japanese always use Panko breadcrumbs as opposed to ordinary bread crumbs which provide a crispier texture. Panko is made from crustless bread and hence has large, airy granules which absorb less grease and thereby give more crunch to the finished product. Panko crumbs are commonly available these days at all mainstream supermarkets and also in Asian stores.

Use it next time you want to deep fry something and you will be amazed at the texture.

These fried shrimp can be paired with any dip but to make it more Japanese, I am going with the katsu sauce. This is an easier version of the traditional one but the flavours are strikingly similar.

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An extremely easy dish that appeals to all palates, this Japanese style fried shrimp with katsu sauce is an excellent starter to any meal. And perfectly paired with the ‘Boy meets Girl Pinot Grigio 2013 by Adrian and Rebecca Santolin from Naked wines.

To quote the winemaker, ‘Slightly blushed with a hint of colour, this wine stays true to varietal form. Modelled on the European styles, it is savoury and textural yet smooth and full on the palate.’

And in my words….a delicious, crisp but not too dry white wine.

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Ingredients:

1. 15 large shrimps, peeled and deveined leaving the tails intact
2. 1 – 1 ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
3. ½ cup plain flour
4. 1 egg, beaten
5. Salt, to season
6. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
7. Shredded cabbage, to serve with the shrimp
8. Vegetable oil, to deep fry the shrimp

For the Katsu sauce:

1. ½ cup tomato ketchup
2. 2 tsp mustard (use powder or paste)
3. 1 tsp garlic powder
4. 1 tsp black pepper
5. 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce


Method:

1. To prepare the katsu sauce, mix all the ingredients, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for the flavours to develop.
2. Heat oil in a pan to fry the shrimps.
3. Season the shrimps with salt and pepper.
4. Flour the shrimps lightly, dip in beaten egg and cover well with the Panko crumbs.
5. Deep fry till golden brown.
6. Serve hot on a bed of shredded cabbage with katsu.
7. Enjoy!

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This recipe for Japanese shrimp fry comes from here.

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