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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Eat. @ Twenty & Six

594 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne ph (03) 9329 0298

Brunch roulette the other Friday landed Bubs and I in North Melbourne, on the doorsteps of Twenty & Six.  We were greeted with a smile and seated near the big coffee machine, and got to stare at the lovely carrot cakes and basket of cookies.

My mocha ($4) was lovely.  I giggled with Hubby via text message that we expect no less in Melbourne nowadays!

I ordered the citrus cured salmon tartare, with pea puree, spring pea and asparagus salad, horseradish cream, poached egg and toast ($19), plus an extra poached egg ($3) for my growing boy!   The cured salmon was delicious, and in fact quite a generous serving.  Even with Bubs eating most of my eggs and toast I was really full after the meal.

Bubs had his heart set on "bacon and eggies" and so we ordered a side of bacon ($5) which was lovely and crispy, just the way I like it.

A great cafe with excellent coffee and a great brekkie dish in North Melbourne.

Twenty & Six on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Eat. @ Nora

156 Elgin St, Carlton 3053 ph (03) 9041 8644

I visited Nora on a "Me-Date" recently and had a lovely coffee, breakfast and of course, some of their famous charcoal tarts to go.  The team behind Nora had been supplying their distinctive tarts to a few select Melbourne cafes to rave reviews and I was really excited to try their Thai inspired interpretation of breakfast and lunch dishes.

I got there at 10am on a Thursday morning but the cafe was already full so I got to admire the display of their "tarts of the day" artistically set up with their ingredients.  

Once I was seated I ordered a coffee.  They don't serve mochas so I had one of my rare cappuccinos ($3.8).

I perused the menu, and each dish is named for one ingredient, which is then followed by a few other ingredients in the dish, in a similar vein to the menus at Estelle Bar and Kitchen.  I chose BACON, onion consomme, rice, pickles, corn ($18) and to be honest I had no idea what would be conjured with these ingredients.   Fortunately what arrived was a beautifully plated dish with surprising interpretation of the ingredients.  The bacon was more of a slowly cooked pork belly, the corn was in the form of young shoots, the onion were tender caramelised rings, and the rice was a finely ground sprinkle that gave the dish a grainy textural contrast. 

It came with a side serve of what looked like a popover, which provided some bready carbs to the dish. I appreciated the depth of thought and the chef's clever handling of the individual elements involved in the dish, and the experience was immensely enjoyable.

Of course I had to have some of the tarts ($5 each), and instead of having to choose one, I got one of each and took them home to share with the gang.  (Best Mum of after school treats I am!)  After I took a million photos first of course!

From the display, the first tart was made with dark chocolate, sesame, and I think this was topped with a sugary honeycomb.

The second tart had white chocolate, pistachio and cherries.

And last but not least a lemon ginger and lemongrass brulee tart.

We all enjoyed the tarts.  The charcoal, made from coconut husks, gave the tarts their distinctive and striking black colour, but was surprisingly mild in flavour and worked well with the lightness of the pastry.  The filling were interesting and the flavours were complementary.  If Nora had been around when I was still at Uni I can guarantee I would've spent a lot of time there getting fat eating tarts to my heart's content.  I envision many future visits, if only to grab some of those yummy tarts on the go if I can't get a table!

Nora on Urbanspoon