Tag Archives: restaurant australia

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. 

MoVida Original (Hosier Lane, Melbourne) – a Review

I can’t really call this a review, but rather an experience because MoVida is one of those landmark restaurants of Melbourne that needs no introduction to any food lover.

It’s been on our list for quite a while now but it finally came to be on Father’s Day. The place is slightly on the expensive side so a planned visit is ideal. And make sure you have made prior bookings too.

While there are other MoVida restaurants, we wanted to visit the original MoVida Bar de Tapas situated inside the iconic Hosier Lane. Frank Camorra and his team had visualized an intimate bar ambience focusing on traditional Spanish tapas style food with modern influences and an equally great wine list to match. And that’s exactly what you get at MoVida Original.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

We were lucky to be seated at a corner table which only added to the intimate experience for the three of us since we were looking to spend some quality family time over a slow, relaxed dinner.

The staff was extremely friendly and very attentive. After enquiring if this was our first time at MoVida, she explained about the menu also offering us wine pairing suggestions based on our order. Tapas is what MoVida is most famous for and we wanted to taste most of the dishes so our order was heavily from the tapas section. As for drinks, we went with the staff’s recommendation since we didn’t know much about Spanish wines.

(All the details of the dish described under each photograph)

MoVida (Melbourne), a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

2015 Ladairo Mencia Monterrei – with an intense raspberry colour, it had fresh and fruity aromas, quite soft on the palate and paired beautifully with all the dishes we ordered.

MoVida (Melbourne), a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Bread, warm and fresh from the oven to start off the meal….

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

GAMBA – Crisp Potato with Slices of Poached Prawn & Parsley Aioli. Amazing flavours and textures with super thin and crisp potato slices. Delicate yet packed a punch and a great way to start the meal. Highly recommended!

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

COGOLLOS – Baby Cos Lettuce with Anchovy & Pickled Garlic. Light and fresh, this was quite an interesting dish. Garlic and anchovy are strong flavours but when topped on the freshest cos lettuce, it was a delight and not overpowering at all.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

TOSTADA – Pressed Pork Sandwich, Red Onion Jam & Quail’s Egg. So different from the tostadas that we are used to at most Spanish restos. Again a super thin and crispy base, hardly get the flavour of pork but the onion jam was simply stunning

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

VEIRA – Port Phillip Bay Scallop Baked in its Half Shell with a Jamon &Garlic Sauce. It’s hard to go past scallops and we are so glad that we decided to order it. Perfectly cooked, plump sweet scallops in the most delicious jamon and garlic sauce.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

ANCHOA – Hand-filleted Cantabrian Artisan Anchovy on 
Crouton with Smoked Tomato Sorbet. Anchovies are an acquired taste so if you are new to it, you might be a bit hesitant about the flavours of this dish. But if you love it, then this would be a great one to try. I was so blown away by the flavours of the smoked tomato sorbet.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

CABALLA AHUMADA – House Cold Smoked Spanish Mackerel with Pine Nut Gazpacho Sorbet. Our first smoked mackerel experience. This one arrived in with a bit of theatre at the table; the little fellow was squeaking with delight watching the smoke escape as the lids were lifted.

Since we had feasted many rounds on the tapas, we decided to order just one main and a side.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

BROCCOLINI – Chargrilled Broccolini with Manchego Custard and Soft boiled eggs. Never have I tasted broccolini so delicious. That creamy custard and soft boiled eggs oozes over the broccolini resulting in sheer magic on the tastebuds.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

CARRILLERA DE BUEY – Slowly Braised Beef Cheek in Pedro Ximenez on Cauliflower Puree. Absolutely melt in the mouth beef cheeks in a creamy cauliflower puree with a sticky reduced Ximenez jus.

And we completed the meal with one of the best desserts I have had in a long time.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress..com

ACEDERA – Sorrel Sorbet with Kiwi, Citrus, Blood Orange and White Chocolate. A celebration of native Australian flavours with a modern interpretation. Every mouthful was a delight and I could go back just to have this again.

MoVida is a beautiful and delicious experience for any food lover. And it’s definitely a place I would be returning to.

MoVida

1 Hosier Lane, (off Flinders St)
Melbourne
VIC 3000
Melb. Office Tel:
+61 3 9663 3038

Timings:

Open Mon to Sun 12pm ’til late

MoVida Bar De Tapas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Bonfire Cafe (Springvale) – a Review

A visit to this restaurant has been on the cards for a long time as one of our friends had been there and suggested it’s a good place to try North Indian and Pakistani cuisine.

The Bonfire Restaurant (the café in the title is a misnomer!) is located in Springvale and is a rather small place nestled among many other Indian, Asian and fast food joints. The place is more famous for takeaways rather than dine-in due to the small space and not so appealing service. The food leans more heavily towards Pakistani style of cooking which is rather similar to the cuisine of old Delhi and parts of Punjab and North Frontier.

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We arrived there around 8.00pm on a Saturday evening and the place was only half full. Since it’s mostly a takeaway joint, you are likely to find place even on weekends but if you are part of a large group, I totally recommend calling ahead of time as the place can get really cramped, even with a few diners.

Though I have read mixed reviews about this place on Zomato, I kept an open mind and not get influenced by what I have read. The menu was refreshingly different and did not offer the same kind of dishes that are offered by most Indian restaurants. Like I said, this was because the menu leaned towards the Pakistani style of cooking; so that expectations were really high as I know that Pakistani cuisine is an incredibly delicious one, rich and packed with flavour.

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Since there were very few diners, we got seated fairly quickly and the menus were bought out. There was a good variety of dishes across all categories and I liked the fact that each dish carries a little note about the origin or history of the dish along with a description of the actual dish. This can be really helpful for those who do not understand the traditional names and can get confused on what to order.

For starters, we got the Chapli Kebabs which is a specialty of the region; lamb mince kebabs flavoured with coriander and dry pomegranate seeds. The kebabs were served with a mint raita and sliced cucumbers. Absolutely delicious and a must try…unanimously voted as the best dish of the day by all of us. There is a strong coriander flavour just as the description mentioned but it was beautiful and not too hot.

Chapli Kebabs

Chapli Kebabs

Mint raita and cucumber salad

Mint raita and cucumber salad

We also got a piece of Chicken tikka for the non-lamb eater in the group. Unlike many other restaurants where tikka is served as skewers, here you get a quarter piece of chicken marinated with a flavourful tikka sauce and a generous squeeze of lemon. Well cooked, not too dry with good flavours.

Chicken Tikka

Chicken Tikka

Next, we ordered some flatbreads/Naan along with a vegetarian and non-vegetarian side. For vegetarian, we chose the Paneer Jalfarezi and Beef Nihari for the non-vegetarian option. The flatbreads were a bit dry to my liking but not too hard. A bit of butter would have helped. The Paneer Jalfarezi was delicious and mopped up in no time at all. It is an excellent choice for vegetarians and also for anyone who is looking for a less spicy dish.

Flatbreads

Flatbreads

Paneer Jalfarezi

Paneer Jalfarezi

Though I have heard plenty about Nihari (a traditional dish dating from the 18th century Mughal cuisine and now considered to be the national dish of Pakistan), this is my first time actually experiencing the dish. Since I have no prior experience, I won’t claim it to be authentic etc…simply because I do not know. But what I do know is that it was delicious with the most tender and succulent pieces of beef I have ever eaten. The only complaint was that there were very few beef pieces and plenty of gravy. But nevertheless, a good dish.

Beef Nihari

Beef Nihari

The final dish was the lamb biryani. Of course you have to sample the biryani when out at an Indian restaurant and this one didn’t disappoint. The Pakistani style of biryani is much lighter than the typical Indian version; it is more flavourful but less spicy. And this makes it perfect as it does not fill you up completely allowing room for other dishes to be sampled. I wouldn’t say this was a great biryani; average but not disappointing.

Lamb Biryani

Lamb Biryani

If there’s anything to fault with this place, it’s the service. There’s none to speak of……

My rating – 7.5/10 (just because the food is good). So if you live nearby, a takeaway would be ideal if you do not wish to experience the non-existent service. For others, if a good meal counts over the service, then you will want to give it a go.

Bonfire Cafe

Shop 1
27-31 Springvale Road,
Springvale
Victoria

Phone no: (03) 9546 8445
http://www.bonfirecafe.com.au

Timings:

Open 7 days – 12.00pm to 12.00am
Breakfast available – Saturday and Sunday (8.00am to 1.00pm)

Click to add a blog post for BonFire Cafe on Zomato

Disclaimer – All the food and drinks were paid for by me!

Feast of Merit, Richmond – a Review

Enter Swan Street and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to food.

There are so many cuisines to choose from, interesting looking cafes and restaurants, quirky spaces, hot spots…plenty to choose from which can be a bit daunting. But if you are willing to take a chance and follow your instincts, then you are likely to end up with some great food and equally great experiences.

That is exactly what happened last week while we were out shopping in Richmond. Seeing the number of choices, our first instinct was to pull out our phones for the Zomato app and check for good restos which we did too. But then it got a bit overwhelming because of the vast number of choices so we decided to do our random test. Walk into a place that catches our fancy, an experiment of sorts guided by our instincts.

And that’s how we ended up outside Feast of Merit; a quick look at its front door and we decided that this was the place for us.

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Stepping inside Feast of Merit was like stepping inside another world. From the din and bustle of the outside world, the ambience of this restaurant offers you an escape into a relaxed, peaceful and content atmosphere. There is a distinct charm to the place that comes collectively from the décor, service, food and drinks.

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We came to learn that Feast of Merit is a communal dining space and a YGAP initiative. YGAP is a social organization that focuses on education and youth programmes in several different countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, Rwanda, Malawi and Australia.

The concept of a communal dining space was inspired by a practice called ‘Feast of Merit’ practiced in Nagaland, a state in North East India. There is a beautiful hand written board inside for the readers to understand more about this concept and what it means.

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Since we walked in early evening, the staff informed us that lunch time was over but there was a small snacks menu that we could choose from. We were comfortably seated though we would have preferred a larger table; when the dishes eventually came, there was a fair bit of juggling happening.

There is a well stocked bar with a really good mix of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks; also on the menu were healthy options like smoothies (for breakfast) and kombucha.

The menu is predominantly Middle Eastern with a touch of Modern Australian; a delicious combination I must say.

Sam opted for the Bicycle Beer while I chose a glass of ’14 Alta ‘for Elise’ Pinot Noir Rose. The wine was refreshing, light and went beautifully with the snack menu while Sam couldn’t stop raving about the beer.

Bicycle Beer, ’14 Alta ‘for Elise’ Pinot Noir Rose

Bicycle Beer, ’14 Alta ‘for Elise’ Pinot Noir Rose

From the snacks menu, we opted for a couple of dishes since the portions were small. The first to arrive was za’atar flatbread with hummus and beetroot dip. Oh my! Delicious is the word. I fell in love with the bread which was soft, generously spiced with za’atar and olive oil. I make a great hummus myself so was impressed with the quality of this one too. But it was the beetroot dip that stole my heart. Luscious, sweet and spiced just right to bring out the sweetness of the beets.

za’atar flatbread with hummus and beetroot dip

za’atar flatbread with hummus and beetroot dip

The next dish we ordered was the soup of the moment (like the surprise factor!), again served with the delicious za’atar flatbread. The soup turned out to be a delicious carrot soup, yet another dish to fall in love with. Luscious, creamy, sweet and spicy, I totally recommend this one if you are a soup lover.

Carrot soup with za'atar flatbread

Carrot soup with za’atar flatbread

Next was the Makaneh sausage with tahini labneh and pickled onions. Absolutely delicious, this one took me back to my childhood, the aroma of old Dubai. There is a fair bit of spice in the sausage which goes beautifully against the labneh; another great dish to sample.

Makaneh sausage with tahini labneh and pickled onions

Makaneh sausage with tahini labneh and pickled onions

And finally came the triple cooked spiced lamb croquettes with whey dressing….yet another delicious dish to complete the meal. We also got a plate of pickled vegetables to accompany this amazing feast. The croquettes were crispy with a delicious lamb filling and spiced just perfectly.

triple cooked spiced lamb croquettes with whey dressing

triple cooked spiced lamb croquettes with whey dressing

Overall, an amazing experience. We thoroughly enjoyed the food and drinks making it a point to visit again for lunch or dinner. The prices are on the slightly higher end but with a good cause being supported, we were only glad to contribute. A place I would totally recommend to all those who love Middle Eastern flavours.

And an event to attend if any of you are interested;

4

My rating – 8/10

Feast of Merit

117 Swan Street
Richmond
Melbourne, Victoria

Phone no. 03 9428 8480
Website: http://www.feastofmerit.com/

Timings:

Monday: 7.30am to 3.00pm
Tuesday to Friday: 7.30am to 11.30pm
Saturday, Sunday: 8.00am to 11.30pm

Click to add a blog post for Feast of Merit on Zomato

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

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