Kong

Kong
599 Church Street
Richmond
Vic 3121
+61 3 9427 1307
Kong BBQ on Urbanspoon

kong

Cookie Monster keeps up with food trends and suggested lunch at Kong. I was more than happy to go along with her suggestion.

I zoomed across the south-east suburbs to get to Richmond after work on a Saturday afternoon, rocking up just shy of 2pm. The restaurant was pumping but we managed to get a table rather quickly.

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(Left) Raspberry wine, vodka, fresh lemon, pomegranate, pink grapefruit $17
(Right) Trio of kimchi and pickles $7

A stiff drink was in order albeit a feminine one and I loved every drop of my raspberry wine. A starter of zucchini and daikon kimchi with pickled pumpkin was the appropriate way to awaken the palate. Cookie Monster was really impressed with the pumpkin and I ate it despite not being a fan of the vegetable.

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(Top) Soft shell crab with salted duck egg relish and coriander bun $6
(Middle) Peanut butter salt and pepper tofu with burnt chilli mayo bun $6
(Bottom) Spicy pork belly with pickled cucumber and kong crazy horse chilli bun $6

Cookie Monster and The Angmoh knew what they wanted very quickly. It was the soft shell crab and pork belly buns they were seeking. The Angmoh’s good intentions of letting me sample his pork belly bun disappeared as soon as he bit into it; it was packed with flavour and studded with a perfect crackle. I forgave him as I can only imagine how incredible it was. Cookie Monster and Hughey B had the soft shell crab buns and from the rate of how quickly these were devoured, I concluded they had no complaints. I had a peanut butter tofu bun. I do prefer the softer silken tofu from Wonderbao, but the combination of the nut butter, salty pickled vegetable and kimchi was excellent.

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Pulled pork, slaw, kimchi, burnt chilli mayo ssam roti-roll $12

We couldn’t go past a roti dish after the waiter explained that a heap of time and experimentation were invested into perfecting the recipe for the wrap. It came neatly sliced into 4 portions, blanketing pulled pork, slaw and kimchi. It was pretty good indeed.

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(Left) Bossam – 16hr smoked brisket with sansho pepper and grilled chilli $18
(Right) Wood roasted salmon with crispy skin seaweed salad and kimchi $21

For the first time in my life, I wasn’t bothered by ordering from the mains section in a Korean BBQ restaurant. The food came cooked to order, there was no fussing about with the flame and I wouldn’t leave smelling like charred meat. We shared 3 mains amongst us, a roast salmon, a pork belly soba salad and slow-cooked brisket. The fish and beef were well-executed and cooked to perfection. However the seasonings in both dishes were overwhelming and leant towards salty. I enjoyed the pork belly noodles purely because it did not have an overpowering dressing. Oh wait, the crackling atop the noodles was the most awesome keropok too!

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Bossam – pork belly with soba noodle, nashi and apple soy $18

To offset all that protein we thought something green might work well. We ordered the dashi-cooked spinach because of its tongue-twisting name but were let down by the size and lacklustre simplicity of it. The dashi stock was faint and the overall taste of the dish came from the sesame-dressing. None of us thought it was worth its price tag.

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Oshitashi-dashi poached spinach with sesame, mirin and soy $16

Having enjoyed Chin Chin, I wanted to be wowed by Kong. The Angmoh gave it his thumbs up but the rest of us thought that the marinades and seasonings suffocated the main ingredients in most dishes. The use of miso, spicy bean paste (dou ban jiang) and ssam jang is inevitable in any Korean/Japanese joint but should be used sparingly or thoughtfully balanced out. Don’t get me wrong, that walnut ssam jang was indeed delicious and I am keen to return to Kong to try other dishes but will be choosing wisely from the menu.

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Filed under Richmond, Japanese, Korean, Korean BBQ

Mart 130 Cafe

Mart 130 Cafe
107A Canterbury Road
Middle Park
Vic 3206
+61 3 9690 8831
Mart 130 on Urbanspoon

mart

It’s not often I crave for a proper breakfast on a weekday morning. My usual wakeup meal is a green smoothie or a steaming bowl of honeyed cinnamon porridge. I found myself wanting something crunchy one Friday morning and after taking The Sausage for his morning off-lead run at Albert Park, I headed towards Mart 130, the famous tram stop café, with The Sausage still in tow.

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Crunchy granola topped with poached or fresh fruit and house made vanilla yoghurt $11.90

Well-known for their corn fritters, there’s also a decent variety of egg dishes and sweet breakfasts. I had only one thing on my mind that morning and wouldn’t settle for anything else. My granola came wonderfully crunchy with toasted oats, sunflowers and pepitas. The poached fruit of prunes, berries and pear added a delicious sweetness, counteracted by tangy rhubarb. All of this was bound together with creamy vanilla yoghurt and made it a healthy delectable breakfast.

chai
House brewed Chai Late with soy milk and honey $5

I nursed on my ginger-spiced chai latte as commuters from tramline 96 hopped on and off. Breakfast at Mart 130 was a pleasant affair with amicable warm service and makes a great option for a quick morning bite.

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Filed under Brunch, Chai, Middle Park

Mr Mason, State of Grace

Mr Mason
Shop 10/530 Collins Street
(enter via Little Collins Street)
Melbourne
Vic 3000
+61 3 9614 4500
Mr Mason on Urbanspoon

State of Grace
477 Collins Street
Melbourne Vic 3000
+61 3 8644 7110
State of Grace on Urbanspoon

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French cuisine, dessert and wine make up a perfect night and that’s how it went down last Thursday evening at Mr Mason and State of Grace. They had teamed up to present a wondrous affair of delicious food and heady booze.

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Our evening started off the way every evening should begin, with French bubbles and canapes at Mr Mason. This was enjoyed al fresco with a guitarist serenading. Mumm in one hand, the other was free to snatch up the bite-size morsels circulating about. There was duck rilette with candied walnut, steak tartare, cured salmon on wafer and my favourite, red capsicum and goats cheese crepe.

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Wild mushroom pithivier, madeira, lentil vinaigrette

We were then ushered into the dining section. Black walls, tan leather couches and bronze lamps made up a very sexy masculine room. A short spiel was given on the dishes and wines offered that evening and then we were ready to tuck in. I sat with I-Hua, Ashley and Melissa and their plus-ones and while everyone almost simultaneously concurred that the pork belly was the most alluring item on the menu, Ash and myself swayed away from the carnivorous path and chose a mushroom number.

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Berkshire pork belly, smoked pork loin, cauliflower, raisin

Both were exquisite. I stole a bite of pork from The Angmoh and marvelled at the texture and flavour of the pork loin. It was tender, yet firm, and every bite oozed out a clean porky taste. The crackling was flawless. The mushroom pie had the most amazing balance of flavours with rich buttery pastry housing earthy meaty mushrooms that had been braised in syrupy madeira. This was paired with the 2012 Chant du Midi Rose that had notes of strawberries and cream. It was so wonderful, I’m hunting up a case of it to hoard.

The sides of beetroot with goat’s cheese and bacon on lentils weren’t too shabby either. The beetroot had been smoked, providing an excellent twist on this ubiquitous pairing. Bacon isn’t quite my thing and I steered clear, although I heard others raving about it as we crossed the road to commence on dessert.

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State of Grace is the most eclectic lounge I’ve come across. Decorated with random knick-knacks, it keeps a posh façade lightened by the quirkiest of ornaments. There’s plush Victorian settees, pristine white table cloth and English porcelain, but high up on a wall a giraffe gazes down to watch over all the mishappenings that may be about to occur.

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Dark chocolate mousse, hazelnut, jasmine, mandarin

Dessert comes with more alcohol, hooray! There’s dark chocolate mousse and a pumpkin and hazelnut financier, paired with either a moscato or a sticky botrytis Semillon. Chocolate mousse is The Angmoh’s favourite dessert in the world and he almost licked the whole plate clean. I was lucky enough to spoon away a small portion and it was eye-closingly devine. The financier was dense but lifted up by a fizzling cinnamon sherbet. To be honest, I was too entranced by the plate it sat on and pondered how I could make away with it.

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Pumpkin & hazelnut financier, date, spiced Chantilly, cinnamon sherbet

The night ended with flaming cocktails but alas, The Angmoh and I are aging homebodies and needed to be tucked into bed before the clock struck 10. We missed out on flaming cocktails but not before finding out the bar’s secret, hidden in the depths. We were gifted a goodie bag with drink cards and, mark my words, we’ll be back to complete the night by getting stupendously drunk and falling from grace.

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Behind this lies a secret stairway…

 

Disclaimer: The Hangry Bitch and The Angmoh were invited by The Publican Group Australia to participate in the Mason and Grace event.

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Filed under CBD, French, Sweets

Patch

Patch
32 Bendigo Street
Richmond
Vic 3121
+61 3 9029 0328
Patch on Urbanspoon

patch

Food fads come and go and they all claim to incorporate healthy eating, promote weight loss and boost natural euphoria. The paleo way of life revolves around the consumption of wild animals and plants and avoids foods that man couldn’t properly digest during the Paleolithic times. This means plenty of vegetables, fruit and meat and no dairy, grain or highly processed foods. The paleo diet is often referred to as the “caveman diet”.

The Melbournian brunch scene is so competitive these days that there are cafes option to suit the many varied dietary needs of the Melbournian masses. There’s gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, raw and with Patch Café, there’s paleo.

drinks
(Top) Anushka soy chai $4
(Bottom) Piccolo latte $3.80

Housed in the refurbished Channel Nine building, Patch Café occupies a small but long strip of space. There are minimal indoor seats and maximum outdoor dining is achieved along the corridor, with heaters and warm throws to keep patrons comfortable. Inside, a cute tiled roof hangs over the kitchen, reminding me of the biscuit house from Hansel and Gretel.

After a 40 minute wait on a Saturday morning, The Angmoh and I myself were fortunate to score a table inside. As we warmed ourselves up with drinks, Anushka soy chai latte for myself and a Code Black piccolo latte for him, we checked out the menu. Most of the menu is paleo, although there are non-paleo options for those who like their bread the way it is or simply can’t do without dairy.

roofsweet potato fritters
Poached eggs with sourdough $10
Add avocado $4
Add sweet potato fritter $4

The Angmoh couldn’t decide on what to have and so constructed his brekkie with poached eggs and smashed avocado on toast, with a side of sweet potato fritters. The Angmoh, being a “food dob” (opposite of food snob) thought he was getting potato fritters that had been sweetened. Oh deary me…

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(Left) Baked eggs – tomato, chipotle and chorizo $15
(Right) Paleo bread (by Patch)

Back to the food, his dish was well-executed in each element and I really liked his sweet potato fritters. The 2 of us are believers of “1 slice of bread per egg” and thought the lone slice could use a partner. I was in the mood for something comforting that wintry morning and settled for baked eggs. Patch café does a fantastic version with the eggs retaining a gooey yolk that slicked onto the rich tangy sugo. Once again, the single piece of sourdough was just inadequate to mop up all that sauce. Curious about the paleo bread, I ordered a serve. The paleo version uses almond and tapioca flour and cider vinegar and had a dense and far from chewy texture, almost tasting like an unsweetened cake. I liked it.

acai cheesecake
Raw acai berry cheesecake (by A2G)

I made away with a raw acai cheesecake to savour for afternoon tea and while it lacked the smoothness of real cream cheese, tasted pretty close to the real deal. The berries certainly provided great flavour.

I support the idea of eating less processed foods and having a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. However, I do love my carbs and can’t say no to biting into chewy sourdough, twirling a fork of pesto-coated spaghetti or drizzling gravy all over fragrant Jasmine rice. I suppose it does boil down to discipline and moderation and Patch provides delicious options for those on a tight caveman diet.

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Filed under Brunch, Chai, Coffee, Paleo, Richmond

Epocha

Epocha
49 Rathdowne Street
Carlton
Vic 3053
+61 3 9036 4949
Epocha on Urbanspoon

epocha

I think I’m in love. With Epocha, that is. From the moment I stepped foot into the Victorian terrace and gasped at the rustic tiled tables and the antiquated mantels, my heart was stolen. And as the night progressed, each sip of wine, each deep inhalation, each bite and swallow made my heart skip a beat and had me drowning in a deep pool of heady intoxication.

oysterbeets
(Left) Oyster (shucked to order) $4.50
(Right) Beetroot, goat’s curd, pecan, honey $16

Let’s start off with the bread, such a simple everyday staple and yet wrapped in pale muslin, it was dark and soft, with just a hint of sweet molasses to awaken the palate. Gentle spices of caraway and anise play peek-a-boo and the smear of house-churned butter had me closing my eyes in sheer enjoyment.

crumpets
Mini crumpets, honeycomb $10

The next dish of crumpets was heaven-sent. Each little nugget was warm and steaming and the use of honeycomb made it extra special. I topped my share with more butter, honey and a quick drizzle of salt and popped it in whole. It was like waking up to golden sunshine spilling through the windows… I really could have this for breakfast every day.

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(Left) Cote de Boeuf, 500g $66
(Right) Charred broccoli, roast garlic $9

The seamless marriage of rich goats curd and sweet beets had us ready for our main. The rib eye was perfectly cooked and each sliver of meat blushingly pink, full of flavour and oh so juicy. The accompanying bone marrow jus with subtle notes of currants from the red wine accentuated the entire experience.

dessert tray

A dessert tray is set down and my heart fell, just for an instant, when I was told I had to choose. “What do you mean I can’t have it all?” I wanted to yell and wail like a broken-hearted lovesick damsel. But ever composed, I picked a chocolate number to soothe my sorry heart. It consisted of a crunchy hazelnut base layered with a sweet dense chestnut marzipan paste and crowned with a smooth velvety chocolate mousse and intense ganache. It was chocolate bliss. The crème caramel was marvellous too, eggy and smooth in a moat of tangy citrus syrup.

dessert
(Top) Citrus crème caramel $12
(Bottom) Chocolate and chestnut $12

All good things must come to an end and as I bade Epocha farewell, my heart knew that this night wasn’t over. Epocha, I’ll be calling on you soon.

menu

Oh and by the way, The Angmwas there that night too but because his heart had already been captured by yours truly, he couldn’t quite fall in love the way I did. Still, he had a wondrous time.

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Filed under Carlton, European

Stagger Lee’s

Stagger Lee’s
276 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy
Vic 3065
+61 3 9419 5564

Stagger Lee's on Urbanspoon

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I’ve kinda fallen off the bandwagon keeping up with Melbourne’s newest eateries. There’s always something new and something delicious and I’ll be honest, I’ve gotten jaded. And I also want to re-visit some of the places that I’ve previously been to. There’s just too many places to check out, too many new dishes to try and my ever-expanding wishlist simply can’t keep up.

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Fakebooo told me about Stagger Lee’s and that it was opened by the people behind Proud Mary. Now Proud Mary is one café that I’ll always find time to re-visit and even battle the crazy queues on weekends. The coffee is consistently superb and the brunch fare generously portioned and oh-so-yummy. Stagger Lee’s, I imagine, will definitely not disappoint.

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Chai soy latte $4

Located in a suburb shadowed by her older sis, (seriously where does Fitzroy end and Collingwood start anyway?!) Staggers Lee is an unassuming café on Brunswick Street. From the outside, it looks like a typical neighbourhood café, unpretentious and far from hipsterish. But step inside, and welcome to the world of naked light bulbs and single origin coffees.

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(Top) Piccolo latte $3.80
(Botom) Magic $3.80

Initially crushed that our favourite Proud Mary blends were not available (Angel Wings for Fakebooo, Eagle Vision for myself), we let the barista guide us as to which single origin bean was better with milk. The Brazilian brew promised notes of red cherry, sweet vanilla and creamed honey and within my magic I found hints of melon and caramel. Fakebooobooo (FBB) had a soy chai, which was extremely spicy.

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Mama’s stack – shaved corned beef, pressed potato, black cabbage, soft poached egg, horseradish cream $19

The food menu is inspiring and not just a cut-and-paste from the Collingwood café. Both Fakebooo and I had a slight internal debate while FBB cut straight to the chase with a sweet breakfast dish. In the end, Fakebooo chose a tasty number of corned beef with braised tender Tuscan cabbage. It had all the important food groups and nailed the presentation and taste factors, leaving Fakebooo pretty satisfied.

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Shrooms ‘n’ truffles – pan roasted local pine mushrooms, truffled polenta, poached egg, percorino pepato, farmhouse toast $17.50

As for myself, I had tossed up between grilled asparagus with cashew cheese and mushrooms on truffled polenta. I don’t even know why I had to choose, it was pretty much a no brainer that I’d order the latter. It was perfection, with the meaty pine mushrooms sitting atop soft creamy polenta, all in a haze of truffle perfume.

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Coco pop and salted caramel French toast – Coco pop cream pat, vanilla ice cream, honeycomb and raspberry crumb $15.50

FBB hit the brunch jackpot with his Cocopops French toast. It was an insane concoction of thick-cut buttery brioche topped with sweet vanilla ice cream. This was then slathered over with lush caramel, complete with a sprinkling of honeycomb and Cocopops. The chocolatey rice cereal added great texture and brought back kiddy childhood memories.

No matter how many new restaurants pop up, some places are worth etching deep into memory for re-living over and over again. Stagger Lee’s is most certainly a place I’ll find myself returning to.

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Filed under Brunch, Chai, Coffee, Fitzroy

Maya Tequila Bar & Grill

Maya Tequila Bar & Grill
74 Toorak Road
South Yarra
Vic 3141
+61 3 9866 8836
Maya Tequila Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

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I’m a bit of a sucker of a penny-saving deal. So when Maya Tequila Bar was featured on Living Social, I readily bought a coupon for 2 and was even the first to call to redeem it. For $35, we got to feast on 2 entrees, 2 mains, 1 side dish and 1 dessert. Yup, all of that for just $17.50 per head.

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(Left) Tototopos – El Cielo’s corn chips with guacamole
(Right) Tromba gambas – prawns, tromba blanco, cilantro, tomato salsa

Having made the reservation for 7pm on a Friday night, The Angmoh and I arrived on the dot to find the little Mexican restaurant packed and the waitstaff overwhelmed. We waited at the entrance awkwardly and was told by the chef to head into the dining section to get some table service. Halfway in, we were informed that our table had yet to be ready and we had to sit by the bar. We clambered onto bar stools and started with a couple of sangrias while waiting for about 15 minutes before finally getting a table.

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El cordero asado – roasted spiced lamb ribs, orange, pomegranate 

Food came pretty swiftly thereafter. Spying on the tables around us, it was obvious that the majority of diners were also having the Living Social deal. Our starters were totopos with guacamole, popcorn prawn and lamb ribs. The corn chips were pretty nice although The Angmoh thought the avocado dip had a stale smell of prolonged refrigeration. The prawn popcorn appeared to be deep fried prawn cutlets coated in a lovely seasoning of paprika and spices. Paired with a tangy zesty tomato salsa, these were moreishly good. The lamb ribs were next to grace our table and they were splendidly devine. They were charred, packed with flavour and yet tender enough to slip off the bone. Each pomegranate jewel burst with tangy sweetness, making it a delightful pairing with the succulent meat.

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(Right) Pollo mole burrito – shredded chicken, corn salsa
(Left) Broccoli, cauliflower, orange

The burrito came next with a salad. The chicken had been slow-cooked in mole, a Mexican sauce that contains chocolate. This made for one extremely flavourful burrito and jam-packed with cheese, an extremely filling combination too! Between The Angmoh and myself, we barely ploughed through it, having consumed all the food from before. The salad with its citrus segments helped cut through some of that fullness.

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Chile chocolate mousse

The Angmoh was curious for a shot of tequila and considering that the restaurant does contain the word “tequila” in it, you’d think that a tequila menu was available. This wasn’t the case but the bartender came up, had a quick chat to find out what The Angmoh might like and poured him a couple fingers of liquor. He was served a tequila described by the bartender as a “sipping tequila” rather than a tequila for shooting, and he found it very pleasant. Dessert was a very smooth and rich chocolate mousse with an after kick of chilli. It glided down easily and made for an extremely complete dinner.

The food at Maya could not be faulted although service needs to be worked on. I submitted feedback through Living Social and was impressed to receive a cordial reply that they were working on improving just that. This same deal at Maya is back on again at Living Social and I definitely recommend going for a hit of delicious Mexican food.

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Filed under Mexican, South Yarra