Monday, January 26, 2015

Eat. @ Kong BBQ

599 Church St Richmond 3121 ph (03) 9427 1307

We went and tried out Kong with our "Carnivore" friends Matt and Jo.  Matt works near there and is a veteran but this was our first outing to the "Korean Chin Chin", which has been on our radar but we've not had the chance to visit as yet.  Similar to Chin Chin, Kong has a no reservation policy, and we had a one hour wait from leaving our names at the door to being seated, which was spent pleasantly down the road at the pub.  A coffee martini later we stuck to the exotic but non alcoholic drinks once we got back to Kong. 

Once we've ordered, the food came at a quick but not rushed pace.  We started off with the famous Buns, firstly filled with soft shell crab ($6 each), with a salted duck egg relish and coriander.  The flavours were amazing, and I am most impressed with buns which were fluffy and soft, yet not soggy and not dense, a difficult task apparently as it's more often than not done badly.  These buns were perfect!

Likewise the Spicy Pork Belly with pickleed cucumber and Kong crazy horse chilli ($6 each) were to die for.  The crackling was super crunchy and had us asking for more!

Next we had the Hot wings with Gochujang and Chipotle ($12 for 6 pieces), crispy wings with really a spicy sauce.  I still prefer my standard KFC, but this was a great spicy version.

No Korean meal is complete without some Bulgolgi of course, so we ordered the Bossam Bulgolgi Black Angus ($28).  The BBQ meats here is so beautifully done.  

Did I mention this was a meat-fest?  So of course there were ribs.  BBQ Baby Back ribs ($36 full rack) with that crazy horse chilli again.  Very more-ish, and yes my mouth was on fiiiiire!

We did have a non meat dish, a trio of kimchi ($7) showcasing the different types of pickled cabbages and mushrooms Kong has for offer.

I regretted not having dessert at Chin Chin so even though we were quite full we did not leave without this time!  I did choose the Black sesame ice-cream ($11) thinking it's a refreshing dessert which it is, however there were 4 big scoops (I'm not complaining seriously) so it's a good dessert to share!

Jo and I also both wanted to try the Coconut Sago with passionfruit pineapple triffle ($12), which was a lovely combination and a great asian twist to the traditional triffle.

And last but not least Matt, who is American, had the Apple and Walnut tart ($12) with miso butterscotch and Japanese whiskey ice-cream, amongst jokes of Americans and their apple pies.

Another lovely night out to another great addition to Melbourne's food spots.  Friday nights are hip and noisy and probabaly not very kid friendly, but like Chin Chin, I would be game to bring the kids for early dinner especially since my bunch is really into Korean food right now.  Can't wait to come back and try other things on the menu, and of course for more of those buns!

Kong BBQ on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Eat. @ Providence

497 Rathdowne Street, Carlton 3053 ph (03) 9240 7055

Providence is the new cafe on the block in Carlton, from the dynamic team behind The Grainstore in the CBD and Hero Subs.  Their newest project sits on Rathdowne Street, on the Ground Floor of the brand new Australian Unity Building.  Recently I was invited to attend their launch event and try out some of the items on their menu.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the building is now home to Rathdowne Place Aged Care which has marvellous facilities for retirement living. I work in health care and it's so refreshing to see an aged care facility that caters so well for active senior citizens, with a theatre room and swimming pool amongst the many facilities to keep their residents happy and active.

We were greeted with a selection of drinks, including a delicious berry smooth and deliciously fresh blood orange juice.  

And of course a coffee!

Mini versions of their menu were served up for us to try, during which time both the lovely owners and some of the providores for their locally sourced goodies including Gundowring Ice-Cream and Gamze Bacon and Smallgoods.

One of my favourites for the morning was the Smoked trout, served on bubble and squeak potatoes topped with a poached egg.

The Breakfast Salad was an excellent choice for a healthy breakfast and my favourite part was the slightly caramelised grilled avocados.  

The Egg and Bacon pies were cute and was quite filling even in its miniature version size.

The pumpkin and lentil fritters pack quite a punch with its aromatic herbs.

And of course there is the sweet breakfast berry clafoutis.  A slightly naughty sweet dish with a berry filled pancake topped with some Gundowring rhubarb ice-cream. A crowd favourite!

There were also lots of other goodies available from the counter, good for a quick "grab and go".

We were treated with a goodies bag, and a coupon to check out the local farmer's market at Carlton Primary School.  

Inner suburb markets are such treasure troves of goodies and artisan items, I love having a wander through and checking out what is on offer.  The vendors are often passionate about their wares and are so knowledgeable in their craft, it's such a pleasure to experience!  I eventually used my voucher on some baked goodies from Cannibal Creek, which of course went down well with the family!

Providence is a lovely cafe in this area of Carlton which still has relatively few cafes of its kind.  The Australian Unity Building has opened up my eyes to what retirement living can be like - the food blogger in me will no doubt insist I retire somewhere with easy access to good food!

Providence on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer : I attended the Providence launch event by invitation and courtesy of the team behind Providence Cafe.  Opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eat. @ Hakata Gensuke

168 Russell Street, Melbourne CBD ph (03) 9663 6342

Woohoo!  Melbourne is really stepping up in the Ramen wars, and the latest ramen joint we checked out is the famed Hakata Gensuke.  I've wanted to try their ramen since they opened but have always been deterred by the long queues.  Especially difficult when we have three hungry kids in tow.  Luckily last Saturday we happened upon the shop at around 11:50am, quickly joined the queue and scored a table for 5 when the shop opened for business at midday.  

Not how you usually order!  Excuse the scribbles as we used one of the forms to enterain Bubs and Macaron Monster whilst we waited for the ramen to arrive!

To order you're given an order form per patron and from there you can pick how your bowl of ramen is made.  You start with the base, decide on variations on how you want the noodles and broth to taste, and then add on extras.  In this case we had the Signature Tonkotsu ($13), added Cha-Su ($5 for extra 3 pieces), seaweed ($1 for 3 pieces) and extra noodle ($2).  The broth was meaty, and the noodles cooked perfectly.

My favourite of the day was the Shio Tonkotsu ($13), ordered here with extra seaweed ($1), with the lighter, cleaner broth, as compared to the signature. The base bowl size is quite small and Hubby would definitely need the extra noodles to feel remotely full.

We also tried the Black Tonkotsu ($14) which was a black colored broth with a nutty flavour from the black sesame and roasted garlic paste.

We also ordered some sides.  The Hakata Gyoza (5 for $5, 10 for $9) were little mini morsels of flavoursome dumpling meat wrapped with a light pastry.  Very delicious but each gyoza was quite small and I could easily eat the whole 10 on top of a bowl of ramen!

The Chicken Karaage ($5) was 3 pieces of well fried chicken which was delicious and more-ish.  More, more, more!

Overall we really enjoyed the meal at Hakata Gensuke.  It was noisy, fast, crowded and tasty food.  Despite the small shop size and the busy turnover, the staff are quite accommodating to prams and small children.  My only quibble would be the need to line up, and the fact that it's more expensive - at $13 for a basic, smaller bowl of noodle (with only one thin slice of cha-shu), it costs around $20 to add on to create the same sized bowl of noodles that you can get for around 3/4 of the price at other quite acceptable ramen places in Melbourne.  Nonetheless I liked the delicious broth and the perfectly cooked ramen, and probably will be back as a party of 1 or 2 as the turnover is quite a lot faster for smaller parties.   

Hakata Gensuke on Urbanspoon

Toilets - yes
Highchairs - yes

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Play and Eat. @ Coburg Drive-In Food Truck Festival

155 Newlands Rd, Coburg 3058

Last school holidays I was invited to experience the Coburg and Food Truck Festival.  I was super excited as I hadn't been to a drive-in since my uni days.  It was also excellent timing as the kids have never been and it was something interesting for them to look forward to.  And what could make going to a drive-in even cooler and more awesome?  Food trucks!  You can so tell we are a crazy foodie family.

At each of the festivals there are different food truck parked in a circle surrounding a seating area.  We tried some goodies from most (but not all) of the food trucks that night, in a bit of a food truck buffet of sorts!

The Chilli Billy Burger from Beatbox Kitchen was the perfect food to eat in your car whilst watching a movie.  

Next up pizza from Happy Camper.  We had a half Margherita half BBQ chicken pizza and the kids gobbled that down in the blink of an eye.  

We tried something different at Bigcook Littlecook.  I was quite keen to try these guys as they are often down Yarraville way but it's so far for me to travel!  Their Smoky Chilli Jam Chicken was delicious, and served with a very nice side of salad and rice.  

Then some Taco Truck Tacos were in order to munch through the movie!  We tried their taco place with 2 beef tacos and some nacho chips and they were fantastic, with a good kick from the jalepenos and their special sauce.

Another Yarraville regular was the Gorilla Grill.  We tried both the Gorilla Thriller BBQ Pork ribs and the Fried Chicken Ribs.  Both were finger lickin' good, but I don't have a decent picture of them to show you sorry as it was getting dark and had starting bucketing down with rain.

Lil' Nom Nom was also there but we were pretty full and the movie was starting so I didn't end up trying any of their goodies.  Will have to chase this food truck down next time for some Vietnamese inspired street food!

So we had a ball sitting there watching the movie in the rain, windscreen wipers working away and steamy windows from 2 adults and 3 kids not dampening the mood at all.  It was so much fun, the kids loved the novelty of a midweek movie and I had the luxury of texting with my best friend during the slow bits of the movie which is not something you can do in a theatre!  We watched Planes Fire and Rescue which if you've seen the first one, you'll like this as a more exciting sequel, but probably not the best choice if you don't have kids.  We would've loved to stay for the double feature but the later movies were not as kid-friendly, and really sitting through a whole movie and eating all that food made for a fabulous night out for them already.  There are 3 giant screens each with double features 

After the movie we got some banana and nutella crepes from Rue de Creperie for dessert.   They had excellent service and now have their own non-food truck, bricks and mortar restaurant in Fitzroy.

The kids' verdict - "Best movie night ever!"  The Coburg Drive-In Food Truck Festival is back due to popular demand, with their next session on December 17th and 18th, and further sessions during January.  For tickets and further information visit the Village Cinemas website.

Disclaimer : The Eat.Play.Shop. family attended the Coburg Drive-In Food Truck Festival courtesy of Village Cinemas and Twenty3 Sport + Entertainment.  Food from Gorilla Grill was paid for by myself.  Opinions are my own.

Gorilla Grill on Urbanspoon Big Cook Little Cook on Urbanspoon Taco Truck on Urbanspoon Rue de Crêperie on Urbanspoon Happy Camper Pizza on Urbanspoon Beatbox Kitchen on Urbanspoon