Tag Archives: Melbourne

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne)

Box Hill, as we all know has a populous Asian influence, so in my opinion it also becomes one of the best spots to enjoy Asian cuisine. There are plenty of restaurants offering varying styles of Asian food and a visit to Box Hill Central will offer you a glimpse into this world.

I was invited recently by Box Hill Central to check out one of their most popular food joints, Dragon Hot Pot.

Dragon Hot Pot is situated in the North precinct (food court) of Box Hill Central; it’s in the older part of the complex so if you are new, feel free to ask any of the staff for help like we did. Once you are in the North food court, it’s hard to miss Dragon Hot Pot as it’s a rather famous and one of the older eateries of Central.

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

If you are new to the whole Hot Pot culture, then you might need a bit of help to get started. The staff is friendly and having a chat with them is a great idea if you want assistance or recommendations.

Traditionally, a hot pot is a style of cooking in which a large pot of boiling soup stock is placed in the centre of the table surrounded by different raw ingredients which are then dipped into the broth to be cooked and consumed. It’s fun, interactive and diners get to customize and pick their set of preferred ingredients.

At Dragon Hot Pot, the idea remains same though executed slightly different to suit a food court ambience.

The first thing that you notice as you walk into Dragon Hot Pot is rows and columns (lots of them!) of ingredients lined up that you can choose to customize your hot pot. You will be handed a large metal pot into which you can then add your choice of ingredients. It’s so easy to get carried away guys; I literally wanted each and every ingredient in my pot.

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

But that’s not a very wise decision so make sure you exhibit restraint and weigh your pot periodically so that you don’t go over the top. The base stock comes at no extra cost and the ingredients are priced $3.20 per 100g with minimum spend being $12.80 (i.e. 400g). Plus there are also a variety of condiments that you can add to your final hot pot, totally free of cost again.

There are three main stock bases available at Dragon Hot Pot in Box Hill (some other branches have upto 5). The first one is the signature Ma La Tang; cooked with more than 24 wild herbs from the Mount Emei region in Sichuan, China, this one is a must try here. The other stock bases are Sichuan Hot n’ Sour and Collagen Bone Broth.

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne)

Once you hand over your pot of chosen ingredients to the staff, you can then customize it further with your stock base of choice and also the spice level. Finally your hot pot arrives in a beautiful vibrant yellow bowl with all the ingredients simmering in the hot stock base. Feel free to add the toppings too but even without anything extra, the hot pot is just perfect.

The stock bases we chose were the Signature Ma La Tang and Sichuan Hot n’ Sour.

An assault on the senses, the hotpot broth makes your tastebuds come alive in ways you could never imagine. It was hot and spicy with so many different ingredients of your liking; what can be better than a completely customized bowl of soup.

Yes you will be sweating through all pores by the time you finish and get in there, slurp it all up because that’s the way to enjoy a hot pot.

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

We are definitely going back for more bowls in the future!

Dragon Hot Pot

Upper level North Food Court
Box Hill Central
1 Main Street,
Box Hill, VIC – 3128

Timings:

Mon: 9am – 5.30pm
Tue: 9am – 5.30pm
Wed: 9am – 5.30pm
Thurs: 9am – 7.00pm
Fri: 9am – 9.00pm
Sat: 9am – 5.00pm
Sun: 9am – 5.00pm

Disclaimer – As mentioned, I was invited by Box Hill Central to experience the food at Dragon Hot Pot. All the photographs and musings are entirely mine.

Dragon Hot Pot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne)

It’s quite refreshing to see new and interesting restaurants open up in the suburbs, than crowding up in and around the city fringes.

QT Kitchen is  one such new venture headed by young chef Kevin, and specializes in modern Vietnamese cuisine. So I was quite excited to check out the food here when I received an invite from AGFG and QT.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Chef Kevin has been in the industry for about 16 years starting first in Vietnam and then moving to Australia about 10 years ago. After working with several reputed restaurant groups including the Mantra group, he opened QT Kitchen 1.5 years ago.

From the time he began helping out his grandmom in her kitchen, Chef Kevin has always dreamt about having a restaurant of his own, where he can showcase his passion and love for cooking. Formally trained in Italian cuisine, at QT, he has combined that technical knowledge with traditional Vietnamese flavours using local Australian produce.

And his efforts have not gone unnoticed; QT Kitchen was quick to gain popularity as a friendly neighbourhood restaurant where you can go with your family and friends for excellent food, friendly atmosphere and genuine customer service. Perhaps why the restaurant won the 2019 AGFG Reader’s Choice Award!

The restaurant does have a very friendly vibe and that’s one of the first things you notice when you walk in. The staff are super friendly and genuine in their interactions. We were welcomed with colourful balloons imprinted with my blog’s name (I was totally blown away!) and since it was around Christmas time when we visited, there were party crackers for us to have fun with before the food and drinks arrived.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

And this service was not just extended to me; I noticed that the staff were friendly to all customers and went out of their way to make you feel special if you were celebrating or having a get together etc…

The ambience matches the cuisine at QT; contemporary vibes with accents of traditional Vietnamese/Asian décor pieces. Warm and inviting yet modern; Chef Kevin wanted to move away from the image that Vietnamese food is always street hawker style; it can be more and that’s what he has tried to showcase through his food and space.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Now let’s get to the drinks….

(All the details of each dish will be outlined below each image)

The drinks menu is a decent sized one with plenty of Australian wines and standard medley of liquors and cocktails.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

It was a warm day and I opted for the Strawberry Margarita. And just as you would expect, it’s a refreshing light cocktail; perfect for those looking for something sweet and fresh, not necessarily a heady rush.)

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Sam got a glass of the Hollick “The Bard” Cab Sauv 2016, Coonawarra SA. Rich with flavours of wild berries and blackberry, this red is perfect for those who like bold flavours and pairs excellent with the meaty dishes on the menu.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Chef Kevin wanted me to try out one of their signature cocktails, Bonjour Vietnam (Bacardi rum, vodka, Pina colada, blue curacao & pineapple juice). It tasted good but I am not a big fan of Pina colada or blue curacao so not the best choice for me. But if you enjoy tropical flavours, then it’s a cocktail you must try.

And now onto the food…

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Grilled Wagyu Beef in Wild Betel Leaves, with house pickles, peanuts and Sriracha mayo, served on crispy crackers. And absolute cracker of a dish…it delivers everything; presentation, taste, texture. A very traditional dish from Vietnam, it’s one of my favourites and I loved this modern interpretation too. A must try from the small bites menu.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

One of the most interesting dishes on the menu! Bushman Lamb Shank herbs crusted, Victorian beetroot, chestnut, pancetta crisps. I have never tasted a dish like these before; really unique flavours for me. The herb crusting gives it a crunchy exterior though the meat was cooked well but could be a tad bit tender. The combination of beets, chestnuts and pancetta takes the dish to another whole level. Not to mention that roasted garlic; make sure you squeeze it out for that smoky sweetness.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Crispy line caught whole Baby Snapper with citrus salsa and hot tamarind caramel – a signature QT Kitchen dish that is so reminiscent of Vietnamese flavours. Another traditional dish that has been reinvented at QT, the snapper was beautifully cooked, crunchy on the outside but flaky inside. The citrus salsa was brilliant and I loved the caramel but the sourness could have been better balanced. But having said that, I would totally order this one again.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Homemade red curry, aromatic coconut broth, seasonal veggies and lychee with barramundi fillet. The presentation was amazing with an earthen pot of rice on the side. The curry was so flavourful and loved the addition of lychee. It was not spicy enough for me but I guess that’s my taste buds. But another must try at QT.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

And a side that I always buy if it’s available on the menu – marinated cucumbers. A perfect accompaniment to any kind of dish that you order. If you haven’t tried it, you most definitely should.

To summarize, QT Kitchen is a great spot to enjoy a modern take on Vietnamese cuisine. The food is great, the service excellent and I can’t wait to go back.

QT Kitchen

Shop 2/10-12 High Street,
Glen Iris,
Melbourne

Phone no: 03 9885 2009

Website: https://qtkitchen.com.au/

Timings:
 
Mon: Closed
Tue: 5pm – 10pm
Wed: 5pm – 10pm
Thurs: 12pm – 10pm
Fri: 12pm – 10pm
Sat: 12pm – 10pm
Sun: 12pm – 10pm

QT Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of AGFG and QT Kitchen; but all the opinions expressed are entirely mine and unbiased. 

Cherry Gin Spritzer

It feels so nice to finally get back into a routine.

The holidays were fun and memorable, but the ‘flu-on-arrival’ not so much. And our bodies felt so drained and deprived that it was begging for nourishing home cooked food, rest and the monotony of everyday routine. As boring as it sounds, it’s the routine of our everyday life that keeps us sane.

While we missed a large slice of summer this year, glad that the days are still warm and long for us to laze around in the backyard, sip on a drink or two and relax. The days ahead look promising for a backyard party too…

Late last year I had the opportunity to visit the magnificent Yarra Valley Cherry Orchard. They had kindly gifted all of us with a box of the most delicious fresh cherries of the season which I admit pretty much were gobbled up on its own. But I did try out a couple of recipes and this Cherry Gin Spritzer was one of them.

Cherry Gin Spritzer - thespiceadventuress.com

Cherry Gin Spritzer - thespiceadventuress.com

I know cherries are slowly going out of season but this recipe is a keeper, one that you can return to next summer. Or you could take the general idea and replace the cherries with whichever fruit is in season at the moment.

This cocktail is all about refreshment at the end of a long day or on a really warm afternoon. Perfect for parties too; just assemble on the ingredients on a tray with different kinds of fruits and people can make their own drink.

The cherries are muddled with sugar syrup, mixed up with lime juice, gin and topped with soda…that’s it. Just omit the gin if you prefer a non alcoholic version which tastes great too especially if you have children around.

Cherry Gin Spritzer - thespiceadventuress.com

And if you get around to making this Cherry Gin Spritzer, do tag me (#thespiceadventuress) so that I get to see it too.

(Adapted from this website)

Ingredients:

(Makes 1 drink)

  1. 5 fresh cherries; pitted
  2. ½ ounce sugar syrup
  3. ½ ounce lime juice
  4. 2 ounces gin
  5. Soda/sparkling water
  6. Crushed ice
  7. Lime slice and whole cherries, for garnish

Method:

  1. In a tall glass, muddle the cherries with sugar syrup and lime juice.
  2. Add the crushed ice, gin and mix. Top with soda water.
  3. Garnish with fresh cherries and lime slice.
  4. Enjoy responsibly

Cherry Gin Spritzer - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

January Favourites

What a memorable month it has been!

Those who follow me on Instagram would be aware that I was away on a family holiday to India last month to attend my little brother’s wedding. Well, not so little in the eyes of the world, but for me, he’s always going to be the little bro as there’s a good ten year age gap between us. So for me, it was not a sisterly affection but rather a maternal instinct that has always been the predominant emotion at the base of my relationship with him.

I remember being totally besotted with him when he was born, spending hours staring at his innocent face. He was such a happy baby and according to me, the most beautiful one I have laid eyes on. So to have that boy all grown up and getting ready to embark on the next chapter of his life has been quite a bit of an emotional one.

Emotions ofcourse ride high but a wedding also means lotsa shopping which is very enjoyable though hard on the pocket. So I did splurge a bit……after all, have to play the eldest sis role to perfection.

For the engagement, I chose to go Western in a full length couture gown from Jadore Australia, purchased from Demile boutique based in Brunswick. I had to research and spend a lot of time getting this outfit simply because I didn’t know where exactly to look.

For the initial part, I kept looking in shopping centres; while there were plenty of choices for wedding guest outfits, there weren’t many options for full length couture gowns. But after much searching, I realised that I was looking in all the wrong places. One of the best places to go wedding shopping in Melbourne is Sydney Road, Brunswick which has so many boutiques with all kinds of price points. Whether you are a bride, bridesmaid or a guest, there are so many options here. I particularly liked my experience at Demile, because of the customer service and the staff went out of their way to get me the size and colour I needed even when I had very little time.

Jadore gown - thespiceadventuress.com

The best thing about Jadore was the designs were beautiful, plenty to choose from and reasonable priced. If you are looking out for formal wear, then check out their website for designs and then find a stockist that’s nearest to your location as the brand does not sell directly to public.

For the wedding, I decided to go traditional and wore a saree after such a long long time. And also a shot with my boys in too….

It was the first time after so many years that my whole family came together for a holiday. Usually it’s difficult for my siblings and their families to take a holiday at the same time as us since we live in different countries and the vacations never match. But this time owing to the wedding, all of us were there with our kids in tow which made it one of the most memorable holidays ever.

Getting back to life here, I was down with a really bad bout of flu after reaching back which meant that my best laid work plans all went haywire. Finally after a hiatus of about 1.5 months, got back into the kitchen for the first proper homecooked meal of 2019. And I wanted to indulge in a comforting Indian meal

Indian meal - thespiceadventuress.com

Also on the menu for the week ahead is Baid Mutajjan – a Middle Eastern style of fried hard boiled eggs coated with sumac and sesame seeds. It’s a simple dish but works brilliantly as a side to most meals and also as an after school snack for Adi.

Baid Mutajjan - thespiceadventuress.com

2019 is for experimenting and learning more about ancient grains. Starting with this Bajra Khichdi.

Kaima idli….breakfast, snack, lunch box or even a party starter!

A vegan one pot taco spaghetti….sounds unique and delicious.

Korean egg rolls; this is the humble omelette gone gourmet.

A veggie loaded butter chicken curry. Interesting!

I love couscous and forever looking for interesting ways to make it; this recipe definitely on my list.

Have you ever tried the Bohri style Dal Gosht (mutton with lentils)…it’s simply heavenly!

If you have a sweet tooth, then you must definitely check out my Pinterest board for loads of delicious inspiration and recipes.

Continuing on the sweet note, this raspberry pistachio chocolate is to die for….

Eco-friendly steel art for your home! I can’t wait to splurge on some of Lisa’s designs; do check out her IG account.

Time to go knitwear shopping!

 

 

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter)

Food, art, culture…intertwined in a way that is both enjoyable and informative. One of the best culinary themed books I have read in 2018.

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan explores the extraordinary lives of Mirka and Georges Mora, their invaluable contributions to the art and culinary scene of Melbourne.

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

Lesley and Kendrah are senior curators at the Heide Museum of Modern Art (Heidelberg, Melbourne) who have previously co-authored the books, ‘Sunday’s Kitchen: Food & Living at Heide’, ‘Sunday’s Garden: Growing Heide’ and ‘Modern Love: The Lives of John and Sunday Reed’.

I have always been a fan of Heide Museum, visiting whenever time allowed me. It all started when I first took Adi for a holiday program at the museum but it would be fair to say that I fell in love with the space. It’s more than art at Heide; the beautiful expanse of greenery around, the vegetable gardens, the café serving absolutely vibrant delicious food, all of it inspires me to keep returning to the Museum.

The first time I came across the name, Mirka, was also at Heide. There was an exhibition featuring her art works and also copies of this book at the store inside the museum. But I initially dismissed it thinking the book is going to be all about art, not even paying attention to the word ‘culinary’ in the title. Little did I know that ‘A Culinary Affair’ is not just a glorious illustration of Mirka’s works and their life story but also contains lots of classic French recipes that are absolutely brilliant.

A beautiful sky blue hard bound book filled with the most beautiful drawings and illustrations, mostly by Mirka along with many personal photographs adorns the pages. The narrative begins with a brief introduction to Mirka’s childhood in France, growing up during the period of the Second World War, the perils and tragedies faced during the Holocaust, meeting Georges and finally moving to Melbourne in 1951.

‘Bohemian’ is perhaps the best word to describe Mirka’s and Georges’s way of life. Both of them led a very colourful, enterprising, creative, free-spirited lifestyle peppered with sophisticated food, sexual intrigue and artistic endeavours.

Their contributions to the culinary landscape of Melbourne are immense with the Mirka café, Balzac Restaurant and Tolarno French Bistro. The book tells us about their journey into opening each eatery, how it became the hub for rich and famous including the likes of Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck etc…. to name a few.

Mirka and Georges also contributed immensely to the artistic scene of post war Melbourne. Their apartment was often the den for artists and artistic discussions. Today, the name Mora is much revered amongst the culinary and art circle of Melbourne and imprints of it can be seen at Heide Museum, MoMA etc…

The authors have done an excellent job in giving us a glimpse into the culturally rich and vibrant life of the Moras. For a relatively new migrant like me, the book is a peep into the stories of some of the people who have shaped Melbourne as we know today. And the Moras led such an exciting life than parts of it almost feels like fiction to me. I now understand that the post war Melbourne was anything but boring; it was grand, exciting and full of adventures. The only thing similarity that I can draw to the modern times is that this beautiful city that I now call home was welcoming to people from all walks of life from all over the world, just as it is today.

Coming to the recipes outlined in this book, I intend to try out each and every one. But the one that caught my attention was a recipe for Huitres Grillees Aux Amandes or Grilled Oysters with Almonds and Butter.

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 12 fresh oysters
  2. ¼ cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  3. ¼ cup almond meal (or ground almonds)
  4. 1 ½ tsp Grand Marnier (optional or replace with brandy as in original recipe)
  5. 1 small garlic clove; grated
  6. Cayenne pepper
  7. Lemon wedges, to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan forced)
  2. Cream the butter and almond meal; grate in the garlic and add the Grand Marnier. Also add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix well to combine.
  3. Pour off the extra liquid from the oysters and cover each with a tsp of the almond mixture.
  4. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately garnished with a pinch of cayenne pepper

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter)

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne)

The Mt Alexander Rd in Moonee Ponds is a food lover’s paradise; the range and quality of restaurants is really good and one of my favourite places to dine in a Melbourne suburb. While I can’t call myself an expert in the area, I have dined at quite a few places there and never been disappointed.

So when Australian Good Food Guide (AGFG) and Jack’s Satay Bar invited me for a dinner, I was more than happy to accept it.

Jack’s Satay Bar has been around for about 20 years. Initially starting out as a wine bar, it was soon upgraded to a fully fledged restaurant especially being situated in a very promising location. The food is distinctly Malaysian with influences of Chinese, Indian and Malay styles. Inspite of starting out as a wine bar, the current drinks menu is simple and small but there is a strong presence of boutique wines (local and international) and also some good cocktails on the list. Do ask for suggestions….

There’s not much of an ambience to write about; the space is of course warm and comfortable but there’s no distinct style or uniqueness about it. But what’s interesting is the many photographs near the counter from racing events including a jersey from a past winning jockey. With Flemington and Moonee Ponds racecourses nearby, Jack’s Satay Bar is a hot favourite during the spring racing season, often packed with jockeys, trainers and other officials dropping in after the event.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

John Ho, the owner of Jack’s Satay Bar loves a good conversation so if you are interested in knowing more about the photographs, history and anecdotes, he is the man to talk to….

For drinks, we started with cocktails – Burnt Orange Bourbon Sour (special of the week) and a French Gimlet. The cocktails were brilliant and perfectly balanced. Do check out the special board; plenty of interesting options not on the regular menu. And while we were waiting for the drinks, we had a nibbles plate with sambal, fresh cucumber, fried anchovies and peanuts. Absolutely brilliant with the drinks too.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Burnt Orange Bourbon Sour

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

From the entrée list, we tried out three different dishes;

Given the name of the restaurant, we had to definitely try out the Satay so we went with the Prawn Satay. The peanut sauce was one of the most delicious I have had to date….it was perfectly balanced, spicy, sweet with that distinct peanut flavour yet not too overpowering. The prawns were perfectly cooked but I would have preferred it to be grilled with a bit of that smoky char that would have paired even better with the satay sauce.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Since the Roti rolls were highly recommended, we decided to try it as our next dish. Roti rolls are very famous in Malaysia and most restaurants, both traditional and modern ones here have it on the menu. While the basic concept of the dish remains the same, I have noticed that the taste does differ between restaurants as chefs try to put their own spin on it with regard to fillings, flavours etc… The one we tried here had marinated chicken pieces with fresh cucumber and tomatoes wrapped inside the roti served with a spicy peanut sauce. Again an enjoyable dish, I really liked the flavour of the marinated chicken; a great street style dish.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Roti rolls

The third entrée we tried was another traditional dish called Lohkaing. It’s essentially minced prawn and pork wrapped in a crispy beancurd skin that’s served with a tangy sauce. The unique texture of the crispy beancurd skin combined with the soft delicious prawn pork mince was simply divine. One of my favourite dishes from the day and one I highly recommend.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Lohkaing

As I mentioned earlier, the wine list might be small at Jack’s but there are a few surprising boutique wines available. For my 2nd drink, I had placed an order but the Manager came over and suggested me to try a glass of Salatin Pinot Grigio. And I am happy I went with the suggestion as it was a really refreshing, well balanced, medium dry Pinot with citrusy undertones; paired well with the next round of dishes too.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Salatin Pinot Grigio

For mains, we started with a plate of Char Keow Teow – fried flat rice noodles with fresh shrimps, eggs, bean shoots, Chinese sausage and spices. It was rich with a good balance of spices and really delicious. The flavours were distinctly Malaysian and the small bits of pork belly through the noodles made it taste even better.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Char Keow Teow

Usually in a Malaysian restaurant, we invariably end up ordering a curry but this time, we decided to skip that and instead got Ikan Kerisi, steamed rice and Sambal Spinach.

Ikan Kerisi is basically fillets of sea perch steamed in a flavourful broth of ginger, shallots, coriander and light soy sauce. Sea perch is not usually a fish I get to eat at many restaurants but it’s a perfect one for a dish like this. A very light and flavourful dish, the fillets were beautifully cooked, subtle but with loads of flavour from the aromatics. Paired with the sambal spinach, a must try if you love spinach and steamed rice, this was a great mains option.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Sambal Spinach

Skipped dessert as we do often, especially after we have eaten too much.

To summarize, Jack’s Satay Bar is a great neighbourhood restaurant for those living in Moonee Ponds and nearby suburbs. And if you are a racing fan, it’s definitely a place to stop by after the races for drinks and snacks. Don’t forget to check out the racing trivia up on the walls too.

Jack’s Satay Bar

571-573
Mt Alexander Rd
Moonee Ponds, Victoria
Australia, 3039

Ph:   03 9375 3778 & 03 9375 3577

http://www.jacksatay.com.au/

Timings:

Lunch: Tue-Fri
Dinner: Tue-Sun

Closed Monday

Jack's Satay Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of AGFG and Jack’s Satay Bar. All the opinions are purely personal. 

Passage thru Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne)

When we moved into the North Eastern suburbs a couple of weeks ago, one of the most exciting things for me was the fact that there were so many new restaurants for me to explore. And on one of those restaurant expeditions, we first came across Passage thru Malaysia.

It was the logo of the restaurant that drew us initially to this place. Brilliantly designed to depict Malaysia’s culinary amalgamation of traditional Malay, Indian and Chinese influences, the logo is definitely a conversation starter.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

We had a pleasant dinner that day but imagine my surprise when I receive an invite to the restaurant again courtesy Australian Good Food Guide (my go to guide for all the restaurant/hospitality news of Australia).

Situated on the Main Street in Greensborough, Passage thru Malaysia focuses on traditional Malaysian cuisine in a contemporary ambience. Owned by sisters Jerena and Jasmine, the restaurant showcases all the three major influences on modern Malaysian cuisine – Malay, Indian and Chinese.

The restaurant space was earlier a bank but when renovated, they decided to incorporate structures like the vault into the design so you can actually walk into the vault room which is now a private dining area. How cool is that!

The ambience is modern with plenty of traditional touches in the form of artefacts, paintings, cartoons, props etc…all of which take you back to the Malaysian way of life. And if you know the language, you might want to spend some time looking through the drawings too, which Jasmine tells me belong to popular Malaysian artists and cartoonists.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

As I already mentioned, the menu covers familiar and traditional Malaysian food across all the three categories. The staff are super friendly so make sure you ask for suggestions if you are not familiar with Malaysian food.

The drinks menu is a basic one but you will find good house wines, Asian beers and also a few cocktails. But the emphasis is on the fresh and traditional Malaysian non alcoholic drinks which is great especially with the warmer days coming up.

(The description for all the drinks and food we tried out are provided below each photograph)

Ribena Lychee

Ribena Lychee – This is quite a popular drink in Malaysia and quite a famous one in Melbourne too. It’s really delicious, refreshing and those lychees inside are simply to die for. Definitely recommended and our favourite too.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Syrup Bandung – with evaporated milk and rose cordial syrup. Milk based mocktails are not a personal preference of mine especially for dinner so I must admit that I did not enjoy this one immensely. It was made perfectly and would be a great choice for afternoons or if you enjoy milk based drinks. Could be popular among children too.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Syrup Limau – A refreshing sweet grain drink with lime. This is another delicious refresher, one to be had chilled. It’s not too sweet, light and a great drink to start the meal with.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Wonton Cups (with veggies and mayo) – There are plenty of vegetarian starters on the menu and one of the most delicious ones are these Wonton Cups. Crispy cups filled with fresh veggies and mayo, almost like a coleslaw. It’s light, fresh and so delicious that you will want to order more. Highly recommended!

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Curry Puffs – I assumed this would be meat based but to my surprise, it was another vegetarian delight. Not the generic, supermarket tasting puffs, you know this is handmade and fresh from the soft, buttery flakiness of the puffs but warm and crispy straight out of the oven. Filled with the most delicious veggie curry filling, another must try at Passage through Malaysia.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Crispy Shhh Chicken – My absolute favourite dish of the day! The first time we were at the restaurant, we had ordered this thinking it was just fried chicken since the name and description gave nothing away. But imagine our surprise when we found that it was actually fried chicken skin tossed with dry chillies and curry leaves. It was a revelation as I have never had anything like this before and being a chicken skin fan, I was blown away by the taste. We ordered it again the second time and even a non chicken skin lover like my husband was converted. With a nice spicy kick, this dish is an absolute must try and something delicious to munch on while your mains arrive. And of course, don’t forget a chilled beer to accompany.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

For Mains, we were advised to try one dish each highlighting the Chinese, Indian and Malay influences. The first one we tried represented the Chinese influence – Stir fried vermicelli with eggs, bean shoots, shrimps and chicken. This was our favourite mains of the day; the vermicelli was cooked perfectly, the flavours balanced and each mouthful was a delicious one. Again a highly recommended one.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

From the Indian influence, it was Roti Canai served with sambal, chicken curry gravy and dhal (lentil curry). Roti Canai is quite a famous dish in Melbourne and expectations were quite high for this one but unfortunately it was a tad bit disappointing. While the Roti was delicious, flaky and soft, the accompaniments were a letdown for me. The sambal didn’t really have its signature spicy kick, the chicken gravy had more oil than the gravy itself and the lentils were under seasoned.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

And the final dish we tasted was the Nasi Lemak with fried chicken – the National dish of Malaysia, the Nasi Lemak is a complete meal in itself with coconut rice, boiled egg, crispy anchovies, peanuts, fresh cucumber, sambal and fried chicken. While it is not the best Nasi Lemak I have had, it was a really good one. The chicken was fried perfectly, crispy on the outside but soft and juicy inside. The accompaniments were great but the sambal could have more flavour (same one served with Roti Canai). A must try if you want experience Malaysia in a plate.

To summarize, Passage thru Malaysia is a nice neighbourhood restaurant to enjoy Malaysian cuisine. The staff are friendly, beautiful ambience and good food to match, this is a place that we will be visiting often.

Passage thru Malaysia

2/16-22 Main Street
Greensborough, VIC

Phone: 03 9435 4958

https://www.passagethrumalaysia.com.au/

Timings:
Tues – Sun: 12pm – 3pm and 5pm – 10pm
Monday (Closed)

 

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of AGFG and Passage through Malaysia. All the opinions, musings, photographs are entirely mine unless stated otherwise. 

Passage Thru Malaysia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yagiz (South Yarra, Melbourne) – Modern Turkish Flavours

Most of us are familiar with Turkish flavours, but at Yagiz, you will be treated to a unique and modern twist on classic Turkish flavours in a contemporary, warm and friendly ambience.

Yagiz is the dream project of Chef Murat Ovaz who has a wealth of experience working at some of the top restaurants in Melbourne and NSW. He was the Head Chef at Tulum before starting this restaurant which was named after his grandfather. In fact, you cannot miss the beautiful portrait mural of his grandfather inside the restaurant which almost instantly warms you up to the space.

Yagiz (South Yarra, Melbourne) – Modern Turkish Flavours - thespiceadventuress.com

Yagiz (South Yarra, Melbourne) – Modern Turkish Flavours - thespiceadventuress.com

The service and hospitality at Yagiz deserves a special mention. The staff are friendly, keen to help, take great pride in serving you and passionate about Turkish cuisine which was really refreshing to see.

The menu resonates with the restaurant’s philosophy – modern Turkish.

Since there are plenty of Turkish terms on the menu, feel free to discuss with the staff to pick out the right dishes. In fact, the staff are quite proactive in offering you explanations about both the wine list and menu.

The wine list at Yagiz is unique and interesting. Curated by award winning sommelier Christian Maier, there are plenty of Turkish wines that are showcased apart from others from Australia and around the globe. I wonder why we haven’t been exposed to Turkish wines here, because all the ones I tasted were outstanding. Highly recommend to take suggestions and try out some Turkish wines while dining at Yagiz.

Sam decided to try out the cocktails while I tried out the wines. And personally speaking, I think the wines stood out better in comparison.

So let’s get into all the drinks and dishes that we tried out. I have provided the explanation under each photograph as many readers have told me that they find it more useful.

2

Alexander the Traitor – Bison Grass Vodka, Licor 43, ginger, lemon, orange bitters. (The original one has egg white but Sam requested to skip that since he is not fond of the flavour). Sam didn’t find it as enjoyable as the cocktail was a tad bit on the sweeter side.

1

Vinkara Winehouse Öküzgözü 2015 (Ankara, Turkey) – A well balanced medium bodied red is how I would like to describe it. It’s a great starting wine if you don’t want to go for sparkling or white yet need something light to pair with the starting courses of the meal.

Yagiz (South Yarra, Melbourne) – Modern Turkish Flavours - thespiceadventuress.com

It is not uncommon to have bread and butter served at the table at most restaurants these days as something to snack on while the food arrives. But at Yagiz, even this is worth a mention as we were served warm sourdough bread with an absolutely lipsmacking eggplant infused butter. I have never tasted something like this before and the flavour completely blew me away. This can be a course in itself.

Yagiz (South Yarra, Melbourne) – Modern Turkish Flavours - thespiceadventuress.com

Kozde Biber – Charred red bullhorn pepper, buttermilk curd. Loved this modern twist of a much loved classic. It was light, sweet but with that hint of smoky char balanced out by the creaminess of the curd. A great vegetarian starter!

 

 

5

Sigara Boregi – Confit of duck cigar. This is an absolute must try at Yagiz, and my personal favourite. Crispy cigars filled with the most tender, melt in your mouth duck mince that has to be dipped in an Isot spice mix. Isot was a revelation for me, a new spice to add to my list. Sweet spicy chilli flakes with a hint of burnt flavour with chocolate undertones. It’s complex yet subtle and those cigars dipped in it is absolute heaven for your taste buds.

6

Marrons with butter and garlic – One of the specials of the night. When the staff informed us that freshly caught marrons were on the specials that night, we simply couldn’t go past it. A bit pricey but totally worth it because fresh marrons that has been grilled to perfection with just butter and garlic is not an everyday dish and when you get the opportunity, you order and eat it to your heart’s content.

7

It was time for the 2nd round of drinks. Sam got another cocktail; Yeni Eksi – Citrus infused Raki, lemon, sour cherry, sour apple. This was a really enjoyable one; stronger in flavour but perfectly balanced out and quite enjoyable to drink.

8

For round 2, I went for a glass of Suvla Syrah 2017, Gallipoli, Turkey. A full bodied red with hints of spice, this was suggested as a great pairing for the meat dishes to follow. And it definitely didn’t disappoint.

9

Kofte – Now this is a dish that I order whenever I eat at any Middle Eastern restaurant. It’s like the gold standard dish and I wanted to see their take on it. Definitely didn’t disappoint as the kofte was juicy and was paired with smoked eggplant and pickled chilli which made it an excellent one.

10

Dana Kaburga – Beef short ribs, wild mushrooms, parsnip puree. A stunning main dish that I can speak of forever. Loved the fact that each ingredient was treated with so much care and attention. From the perfectly cooked, absolutely tender short ribs to the wild earthy mushrooms and that sweet, lush and creamy puree, this was another excellent dish at Yagiz.

11

Bulgur Pilav – to accompany the mains, we got this pilaf. And I realised that this is a delicious dish in itself and not just a side. Brilliant flavours with that hint of spice!

12

Lokumlu Turta – Turkish delight tart, soft meringue. I have heard so much about this dessert on Instagram that I definitely had to try it out. And I must admit that it tasted better than the traditional Turkish delight. This one’s also on the sweeter side but there’s so much balance and finesse that makes it a delicious way to finish the Yagiz experience.

To summarize, Yagiz is a great place to explore Turkish cuisine in a contemporary setting. It’s not fusion, it’s traditional Turkish cooked and presented with finesse.

Yagiz Restaurant

22 Toorak Road
South Yarra
VIC 3141

Phone: (0)3 9821 4758

https://www.yagiz.com.au/

Timings:

Dinner: Tues to Sat, 5.30pm – 11pm
Lunch: Wed to Fri, 11.30am – 3pm

Yagiz Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

August Favourites

What a month!

Most of you would have heard about the Kerala floods situation. While floods or natural disasters are not uncommon in the world we live in, you realize the scale of devastation and trail of destruction it leaves behind only when it strikes so close to home.

While my immediate family was spared the misery, there were plenty of friends and family who were affected badly. Communication with loved ones became the most difficult thing as many houses and regions were cut off due to the flooding.

There cannot be anything positive when disaster strikes, but the fact that the community came out to help each other was an encouraging one. A sheer testimony to the power of humanity in the face of adversity.

The worst is behind us now but the path of rehabilitation and progress is going to be a slow one for God’s own country.

Banana tree, Kerala - thespiceadventuress.com

Getting onto other topics, a lot of you had messaged me about this Khichdi recipe and how you have been enjoying it immensely. It’s one of my favourites too as it’s a hearty, delicious and super healthy one pot meal.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

As September is almost here, the kiddo is getting excited about his term hols and we have already started planning activities, workshops, play dates and events to attend. One of the events that we are most looking forward to is the Jurassic Creatures.

It’s an interactive walk through event exploring the world of animatronic dinosaurs. With plenty of related activities, sand art, fossil displays, interactive set ups, this is going to be fun for the young and old alike. Jurassic Creatures will run at St Kilda Triangle (adjacent to Palais Theatre) from 15 September – 14 October 2018. So don’t forget to book your tickets soon.

Jurassic Creatures - Melbourne

Well, it’s time to bid adieu but not without sharing all my other favorites for the month. Enjoy reading!

Time for a Whiskey Sour. Cheers!

And if you are into cocktails, then check out these gorgeous glasses.

This Thai style rice soup sounds so hearty and comforting.

Not a big fan of the classic shrimp cocktail but I think infusing Mexican flavours is the secret.

Summer is gonna be here soon and I am saving up all the chicken wings recipes that come my way, starting with this one.

Clam toasts for breakfast! I could eat this everyday….

This is what a summer salad should look like

Speaking of summer, I need to invest in a couple of these dispensers.

This South Indian chicken curry has given me the drools.

Have you tried a beer can chicken before?

Planning any trips to Vietnam? Then you need to read this street food guide.

I love the idea of kitchen islands; adds so much character to the kitchen and can be customized to suit every space.

I can spend hours looking at rugs online; yet a bit crazy but I totally love this one. What do you think?

 

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne)

I have not ventured much into the dining scene of Port Melbourne so I was quite excited when I got an invite from Australian Good Food Guide (AGFG) to check out Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar.

Situated on Rouse Street, Hanoi Mee has a small but vibrant and colourful space. The interiors are tastefully done and represent modern Vietnamese in every nook and corner. Traditional crafts share space with modern industrial vibes to create a beautiful space that’s perfect for after work drinks or dinner with friends and family.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne)  - thespiceadventuress.com

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne)  - thespiceadventuress.com

Chef Ennis Le has created a menu that’s distinctly Vietnamese yet very modern in its approach to flavours. Drawing inspiration from the local produce combined with his flair for creativity and attention to details and presentation, Hanoi Mee is a great dining experience for those seeking to explore Vietnamese flavours in a contemporary style.

For drinks, we ordered the Chilli Mojito (white rum, St. Germain liqueur, lime, chilli, mint, ginger/chilli syrup and soda) and the Port Melbourne Mar-Tea-Ni (tea infused vodka, peach liqueur, mango liqueur, lemon juice and egg white).

The Chilli Mojito was the clear winner; it’s spicy, punchy yet balanced perfectly. Highly recommended!

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The ‘Small Bite’s section of the menu looked so interesting and we wanted to try out quite a few dishes. So instead of a-la-carte, we ordered ‘Best Bits’ which is a selection of seven of the signature starters from the menu. A good way to sample a variety of dishes and a great option for a tapas style dinner.

We started with the Calamari, crab and shrimp spring rolls which were served with lettuce, herbs and nuoc cham. I absolutely love Vietnamese style spring rolls; the best in my opinion and this modern version was super delicious. Super crunchy covering which I think was made from fried noodles; these spring rolls really set the bar high for the remaining meal.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The next dish arrived with much fanfare; Confit salmon with coconut, avocado, granny smith apple and wasabi caviar served in sesame cone. A very modern interpretation of some classic flavours, I was a bit apprehensive of how it would taste. But it was delightful; light and subtle with all the flavours in perfect balance.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Next to arrive were the Steamed prawn dumplings. Now we cannot dine at any Asian themed restaurant without ordering dumplings, that’s like the gold standard. And Hanoi Mee didn’t disappoint; kept it true and delicious.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The next to taste was the Yellow tail king fish, pomelo, young coconut shredded on betel leaves. Another small bite that I would highly recommend; morsels of deliciousness indeed.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

You have to try out the Black pepper sticky pork belly bun with cucumber, spring onion and chilli. The flavours were amazing; the bun was really soft but I felt that the pork belly could have been sliced thin so that the pork didn’t feel overpowering.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Sweet chilli chicken wingettes with crispy shallots and coriander – this one’s for all the chicken wing lovers. Crispy yet tender and juicy inside tossed with Asian flavours of sweet, spicy, tangy; it was a delightful snack.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Another dish that I was quite interested to try was the Sher Wagyu steak tartare with ginger, fried shallots on crispy rice cracker. This is the first time I have tried tartare infused with Asian flavours and I was not at all disappointed. A tad bit salty but the overall taste was amazing especially when paired with the crunch from the crackers.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The final dish that we tried from the Small Bites section was the Spring bay mussels steamed in Hanoi beer with Vietnamese mint, lemongrass, ginger and chilli. I am a huge mussels fan so I was happy to dig into this; subtle yet lots of punch from the aromatics and chilli.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Now these small bites are more than enough to fill you up, but we couldn’t come away without trying out any mains.

So from Mains, we chose the Hanoi Mee signature dish; Caramelised pork hock with tamarind caramel sauce served with cos lettuce, fragrant herbs, pickled carrots and papaya. First of all let me tell you that this is a huge dish that is clearly meant to be shared unless you have a matching appetite.

The caramelized sauce encrusted crispy skin on the pork was just heavenly. The meat was succulent and juicy mostly but owing to its sheer size, there were a few places where the meat had started to get dry. But inspite of that, it was super delicious. The best way to have the dish is to cut out slices of the meat and roll it inside the lettuce topped with the fresh herbs and pickles.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

To go along with the mains, we also got the Crispy soft shell crab, mango and papaya salad with a ginger dressing. The salad works as a dish just by itself and generous portions too. If you love soft shell crab, then do give this salad a try. Again highly recommended.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

In a nutshell, Hanoi Mee is an excellent spot to experience modern Vietnamese cuisine. The flavours are distinctly Vietnamese yet in a contemporary Australian setting; the best of both worlds. I can’t wait to go back.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen & Bar

140 Rouse Street,
Port Melbourne VIC 3207
hanoimee@gmail.com

Phone no: (03) 9042 7921

Timings:

Sunday: 11:30am – 10:00pm
Monday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Tuesday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Wednesday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Thursday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Friday: 5:00mm – 10:00pm
Saturday 5:00pm – 10:00pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest on behalf of AGFG at Hanoi Mee. All the photographs and opinions remain entirely mine.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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