Category Archives: American

Belle’s Hot Chicken

Belle’s Hot Chicken
150-156 Gertrude Street
Fitzroy
Vic 3065
+61 3 9077 0788
Belle's Hot Chicken on Urbanspoon

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After a tiring week, there’s nothing like a tucking into some good calorie-exploding artery-clogging apply-tongue-to-digits Southern fried chicken. The Angmoh and I got seated at the bar at Belle’s on a Friday evening after rocking up without having made a reservation. The restaurant does a modern take on the classic American diner, keeping the neon signage and booths with the latter decked in a handsome tan of treated wood. A turntable spins out some sleek vinyl tunes which is mostly drowned out by the buzz and chatter from patrons.

Belle’s specialises in fried chicken that comes in varying degrees of spice and heat. Never one to back down from a challenge, I ordered the hottest, the five out of five, the “really f***ing hot!”. Having had a spicy Sichuan meal the very night before, The Angmoh had to allow his stomach walls to reline and wussed onto a choice of medium heat. I did get a dipping sauce of ranch, just in case the habanero with ghost peppers were simply too much.

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(Left) House made sweet tea $6
(Right) Tenders, old bay fries $16

As we waited for our food, I sipped on some house-made tea. It was refreshingly icy, sweet and minty, another perfect cooler for the potential mouth-burning experience. Our meals came in little red plastic baskets, with a slice of white bread at the very bottom, possibly to absorb the oil and juices. Fat pickles adorned the meat with our choice of sides placed, well, at the side.

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Dark meat (drumstick and thigh), coleslaw $16
Belles ranch dressing $2

The Angmoh liked his chicken tenders but mentioned that, in future, will get a bone-in cut instead. There was much more going on in my drum and thigh cuts: more flavour, more juices, more crispy skin. As for my seasoning, it was indeed hot enough to induce some nose-sniffling and lip-tingling but I am proud to admit that not once did I reach for my tea and the ranch sauce barely had a dent in it when we left.

Belle’s fried chicken is pretty damn awesome. Grab a few mates who like a heat challenge and split a tub. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

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Filed under American, Fitzroy, Fried Chicken

Ms Katie’s Crab Shack

Miss Katie’s Crab Shack
238 Victoria Street
North Melbourne
Vic 3015
+61 3 9329 9888
Miss Katie's Crab Shack on Urbanspoon

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It was after a wild goose hunt that Cookie Monster, Hughey B, The Angmoh and myself finally found Ms Katie’s Crab Shack. We had keyed in the address into Google maps, which did not have such an address in North Melbourne. We were directed towards Errol Street, which was on the West Melbourne end of Victoria Street. Apple Maps, however, led us back on path and we found ourselves outside The Public Bar, with a greenish hue beckoning us in like a siren’s call.

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Decked in the expected nautical theme, Ms Katie’s Crab Shack was anything but a shipwreck. Despite turquoise light spilling over most of the restaurant, warm amber candles glowed softly; not the best for illuminating food on camera but nevertheless, providing the eatery with a marine ethereal glow. The produce is sourced fresh from Queen Victoria Market, just directly across the road.

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Katie’s Fried Chicken – Secret blend of herb and spices, golden fried with ranch $17

The four of us initially snagged a table with Jaws as our dining companion, but quickly moved to a different table for easier sharing. As the Angmoh made his way to place the order and pay (cash only, by the way), the rest of us were entertained by the newspaper dining mats strewn across the table. Cookie Monster was enlightened by a waistless thong; think of it as an inverted hairband, just with a much narrower middle.

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Katie’s Low Country Boil – Traditional crab boil. Australian blue swimmer crab, corn cob and smoked kranski, Old Bay and garlic butter $25
House Baked Cornbread $3 (each)

First up, the crab boil. This is the signature dish, with a blue swimmer crab, corn and kranski cooked in a delicious garlic and buttery sauce. I loved the sausage, it was spicy and full of flavour. A mallet is provided for hammering away at the crab shell, which I found rather unnecessary and messy. I managed to bite away at the shells; while most dentists will reprimand me for this, it totally got the job done. The meat was flakey, soft and lacked sweetness, entirely due to the type of crab used. I would prefer a mud crab, which of course would be a lot dearer. The sweet corn bread is a must for dipping and soaking up the sauce. It resembles a dense muffin with the occasional corn kernel in it, which thankfully, eluded my mouth.

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Chesapeake Crab Burger – 100g blue swimmer crab cake, fresh slaw, herb mayo, dill pickle, sesame bun $15

Cookie Monster indulged in the crab burger while the carnivores split the fried chicken. The burger turned out to be disappointing, with the patty fragile and crumbling easily and the mayo and slaw too overwhelming. On the other hand, the fried chicken was superb. It was really juicy and the batter perfectly seasoned and not too floury. It came with a light tangy ranch dip, although I instead helped myself to the hot sauce provided at each table and that certainly gave the dish a kick.

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Seasonal Jambalaya – Traditional southern dish consisting of rice, seasonal vegetables and a selection of meats $22

The jumbalaya was most well-received dish that night. Cookie Monster remarked that the texture of the rice resembled congee and I thought it was a watery, overcooked version of paella (in a good way). Either way, the soft rice had soaked up the rich seafood, kranski and tomato flavours, making each a spoon a delicious mouthful.

There were a few hits and misses at Ms Katie’s Crab Shack but the overall ambience, company and corn(free) bread definitely made it an enjoyable experience.

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Filed under American, North Melbourne, Seafood

Burgallection Part 1: The Merrywell, Huxtaburger, Burger Boss, Babu, Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew

In the year of 2013, I achieved a few accomplishments. I finished a continued education course, survived my first overseas trip with The Angmoh (we went to India), started this blog and stuffed my face with many a burger for a collection of burger blogposts.

Burgers… juicy meat slapped betweens perk buns, moistened up with tasty sauce, now that’s what I’m talking about. The Angmoh and I teamed up for this expedition, sometimes joined by Fakebooo and other invited guests. Our first hit was The Merrywell.

The Merrywell
Corner Clarendon Street and Crown Riverside
Southbank
Vic 3006
+61 3 9292 7468
The Merrywell on Urbanspoon

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Situated on the Clarendon side of Crown Casino complex, The Merrywell is a classy pub that does burgers on the ground floor and a popular rowdy restaurant offering American diner fare on the level upstairs. Fakebooo, The Angmoh and I had dined in the restaurant, not aware that items from the lower level could not be ordered in the restaurant. Determined to plough through their burger menu, we revisited during happy hour without reading the fine lines that only certain burgers were subjected to the happy hour promo.

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Nevermind all our mistakes, we still attacked the burgers with gusto, with Fakebooo ordering the Big Blue, The Angmoh having the Oz Burger and the Red Eye for yours truly.

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Oz burger – fried egg, pickled beets, pineapple, cheddar, mayo, damper roll $14

All burgers came cooked rare, with pale pink patties dripping with juices. Fakebooo’s burger had an odd addition of apple and the whole wheat bun was a tad firm. He very much preferred the burger he had upstairs on our previous visit. The Angmoh’s Aussie combi was well-received with The Angmoh giving thumbs up to the bacon. My red eye was hot! The clever use of fresh jalapenos packs an unforseen heat punch, although I thought there was too much sauce, which overwhelmed the overall taste of the burger.

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(Left) Red eye – poblanos, jalapenos, cheddar, chipotle mayo, sriracha, damper roll $15
(Right) Big blue – bacon, gorgonzola, red onion, blue cheese fondue, whole wheat bun $16

The Merrywell was a great way to start our burger adventure. It is conveniently located within walking distance to us and will be a good spur-of-the-moment ditch for desperate burger cravings.

Huxtaburger
106 Smith Street
Collingwood
Vic 3066
+61 3 9417 6328
Huxtaburger on Urbanspoon

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Huxtaburger
201-209 High Street
Prahran
Vic 3181
+61 3 9417  6328
Huxtaburger on Urbanspoon

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The Angmoh and I hit up Huxtaburger for our next burgaventure. I have been previously and I always order The Denise. The burgers have soft soft bread and the patties have a wonderful char and flavour to them. They are easily squished and wolfed down.

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Denise – Huxtaburger with jalapeno, sriracha mayo $9.50 + Crinkle cut chips (small) $2.50

Once again I had the Denise and The Angmoh, who is a true patriot for Aussie flavours, had Bills. Both burgers were consumed in rapid greed, washed down with a thick vanilla milkshake. Our only gripe was that the burgers were on the small side and The Angmoh got hungry in just slightly over an hour. They would be perfect as a snack, or a full blown meal if you had the stomach space of a tiny bird.

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(Left) Bills – Huxtaburger with bacon, egg, pineapple and beetroot $11.50
(Right) Vanilla milkshake

I had huxtacravings pretty soon and was keen to visit the CBD branch one Friday night. It was closed when we got there and the yearning became a memory only to be filed somewhere in the “to-eat” compartment of my brain. Fast forward a few months and we rocked up to Prahran, me ready for the meal in my BlackMilk fastfood leggings. The crowd is unmistakably young and missing the hipster vibe that is part of Collingwood. The seating space is a good deal bigger, and like the original, most of the crowd milling about are awaiting take-aways. We stuck true with our preferred choices and they tasted just the same and just as delicious as those in Collingwood. With consistency across branches, huxtaburger is a keeper. I do recommend pre-ordering online during peak times for it’ll save a good tummy-rumbling.

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(Left) Denise – Huxtaburger with jalapeno, sriracha mayo $9.50 + Crinkle cut chips (small) $2.50
(Right) Bills – Huxtaburger with bacon, egg, pineapple and beetroot $11.50

Burger Boss
334 Highett Street
Highett
Vic 3190
+61 3 9553 3540
Burger Boss on Urbanspoon

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Somewhere in the year as the cold weather showed her icy stare, I was about to close up at work when the thought of getting a burger delivery struck. Unfamiliar to Bayside eats, Burger Boss was recommended by my colleages.  The call was made and so was my order of Big Boss, Sloppy Joe and onion rings. Delivery took approximately 45minutes and as soon as I received my doggy bag, I took off and headed home lickety split.

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Big Boss – Patty, bacon, egg, cheddar cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, fresh tomato, pickles, American mustard and tomato sauce $8.80

Our food had cooled reasonably some by the time we got into it. The burger was distinctly American with pickles, mustard and ketchup and was soft and slightly wet. I loved the sloppy Joe and onion rings. The slow cooked mince was dripping in sauce, rich with spices and the onion rings were crisp and well-seasoned. It brought back childhood memories of tucking into A&W coney dogs, complete with a rootbeer float, of course!

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Sloppy Joe – Spiced, slow cooked, ground beef, with green peppers, double cheese, BBQ and chilli sauce $5.50

Burger Boss is a favourite amongst beachy Bayside peeps. I reckon I’ll swing by after work sometime and slide down another sloppy Joe.

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Crinkle cut chips $3
Onion rings $4.40

Babu Burger Bar with Balls
156 Chapel Street
Windsor
Vic 3181
+61 3 9510 6485
Babu Bar Burger With Balls on Urbanspoon

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The Angmoh and I checked out Babu Burger Bar sometime in the middle of the year. It was oddly quiet on the Friday evening that we visited. Babu offers customized burgers where diners decide how much moo they can chew and what to dress that moo in. Meatballs are also on the menu for those not wanting a full patty.

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(Left) 220g patty with caramelized onion, swiss cheese, fried eg, bacon and beetroot $16.50
(Right) 150g patty with blue cheese and caramelized onion and beetroot $14.20

I had a modest 150g patty with blue cheese, caramelized onion and beetroot. The Angmoh’s stockier 220g came stacked with bacon, egg and beetroot (I did mention his love for Aussie flavours yea?). For a quiet evening, we waited a good half hour before food was served. The burgers were brought out split in two, which threw us off initially. I’m not sure if it facilitates the addition of sauce as flipping the top half back onto it’s lower bit might be messy for the uncoordinated. Both burgers were tasty in their own way but not sufficiently remarkable to deem a re-visit.

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Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew
413 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy
Vic 3065
+61 3 9419 0088
Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew on Urbanspoon

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We needed a good burger memory to satiate and make up for the previous visit. We had a friend’s birthday drinks thing in Fitzroy one Friday evening and decided to pre-burger before drinks. Parking in Fitzroy on any evening is a challenge and on a Friday night, is absolute sheer hell. We U-eed, backtracked and circled frantically before finally spotting a lot. Just as we were about to reverse in, with our indicator and reversing lights beaming like shining beacons, some unkempt trackie-clad teen biatch headed in and stole the lot just under our noses (or butts in this case). The Angmoh has the temperament of a saint and held me back from purchasing a year’s worth of Gladwrap and gifting her with a shiny polyethylene-layered car with possibly deflated tires.

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The neon burger sign of Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew beckoned and somewhat placated our my wrath. The communal table at the very front of the restaurant is huge, bordered by salon-type plush chairs and topped with a rotound terranium. Walk on in and it’s impossible to miss the beers on offer. Every single one is locally crafted beer from independent brewers. I had a pot of Moo brew, which was light with malty flavours.

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(Top) Blue heaven milkshake $7
(Bottom) Moo brew – pale ale (4.9%). Berriedale, Tasmania $6.60

The Angmoh lit up like a child at Christmas when his blue heaven shake was set down. I braced myself and took a tiny sip and actually gave it the nod. It was thick and creamy and the sickly extreme sugary blue heaven flavour was not too overpowering.

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Brother Burger’s menu is diverse and offers burgers of different meats and even vegetarian options. The choice of customizing or modifiying your burger is available for the nit-picky. For those not keen on burgers, there are hotdogs and pulled meats to fall back on.

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Fair Dinkum – 100% Wagyu beef patty, bacon, free-range egg, cheese, house-made: pickles, BBQ sauce, mustard mayo $14.50

The Angmoh once again went predictably Aussie and ordered the Fair Dinkum. I had the “Hot Stuff’ burger with a hit of blue cheese, which was the favourite and highly recommended by the chef. Both burgers were really good. The patties are of extremely high quality, which is not surprising as they are completely full blood wagyu. The fact that the meat is 100% Aussie wins extra points. The Angmoh had no complaints about his burger and attacked in appreciative silence. I loved how my burger came with the wedge of stinky blue on the side. I crumbled in a smidgen of it and the pairing of rich intense cheese with the sweet spicy chilli jam was just sensational.

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Hot Stuff – 100% Wagyu beef patty, double bacon, cheese, house-made: pickles, mustard mayo, chilli jam $13.50
Add blue cheese

I highly recommend heading to Brother Burger for some stuffed buns and a brew. With ingredients locally-sourced and condiments made on-site, it makes a patriotic delicious feed at a very sensible price.

This brings me to half the post. Stay tuned for more burgadventures!

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Filed under American, Bayside, Burgers, Collingwood, Crown Casino, Fitzroy, Highett, Milkshakes, prahran, Southbank, Windsor

Drugstore Espresso, Parlour Diner

The Angmoh is usually a follower when it comes to making decisions about where to eat. Once (or twice) in a blue moon he offers a suggestion and I accommodate most of the time. This post covers 2 places initiated by The Angmoh and they both happen to be around Prahran.

Drugstore Espresso
194 Toorak Road
South Yarra
Vic 3141
+61 3 9827 5058
Drugstore Espresso on Urbanspoon

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Several months ago, The Angmoh suggested Drugstore Espresso as a brunch option. I was going to drag him to Two Birds One Stone but the queue on a mid-Sunday morning in gale force winds was not worth battling. We hopped over to Drugstore and was seated in just 5 minutes.

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Magic

With our table over-looking the ground floor where the baristas are positioned, we had a great view of the comings and goings of the café: the dextrous twists of wrists followed by steady pours of hot steamed milk, the bursts and hiss of white steam pre-queued by the grinding of roasted beans. It was a chaotic symphony of caffeine.

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Having visited with Fakebooo, Ashley and Winston during my pre-blogger days, I recall scrumptious food and decent coffee. After a slight initial misunderstanding between a piccolo latte and a magic, our (correct) coffees were set before us. Brewed from Rosso beans, our coffees were creamy with faint cocoa hints.

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Eastern Eggs – Dukkah poached eggs with sautéed spinach and crumbled feta salsa on quinoa toast $14

The Angmoh spied Dukkah eggs on the menu and immediately settled for it. He does have a weak spot for this particular brunch dish.  The poached eggs bled brilliantly over the Middle Eastern spice blend. While it met The Angmoh’s approval, it didn’t quite match up to the top 3 on his Egyptian eggs list (Gaia, Bluebird and Porgie).

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Ruben by Drugstore – house corned beef with chipotle mayo, slaw and pickles on sourdough $10

My Reuben sandwich was very satisfying. The house-cured beef was tasty and the sandwich had just the right amount of mayo with the chipotle giving a decent kick of heat.

Drugstore Espresso’s fare is pleasant and worth a go if you’re in the area.

Parlour Diner
64 Chapel Street
Windsor
Vic 3181
+61 3 9533 2006
Parlour Diner on Urbanspoon

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The Angmoh does not have a very strong sweet tooth but he is a sucker for milk shakes. His favourite flavour, which confounds the hell out of me, is blue heaven. It is cyan blue, laden with an intolerable amount of sugar and is plain nasty. It’s probably named so due to the quick trip to the gods from a crazed sugar high.

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Jarritos – Grapefruit $4.50

After grocery shopping at Prahran market followed by a mandatory visit to coffee mecca, i.e. Market Lane Coffee, The Angmoh suggested Parlour Diner for lunch. He had read about it from Timeout’s milkshake review.

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Old school chocolate malt shake $6.50

From across the road, Parlour Diner looked dark and dingy but stepping in transplants you into American retro times. Blue vinyl seats, swivel leather bar stools and the smell of hot oil and salt confirms it all.

With only 2 choices of milkshakes (no disgusting blue heaven, thank the Lord), The Angmoh settled for chocolate malt. It was one of the best we’ve ever had. It was nicely thick, with a consistency that did not require strong suction to get it to move up the straw. There was a good depth of chocolate with little traces of malt. The Angmoh savoured it in silent appreciation.

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Jalapeño poppers with paprika avocado dip $12

The jalapeño poppers didn’t quite turn out what I quite had in mind. I was expecting little jalapeño bites, perhaps stuffed with cheese. What I got was 3 whole pickled jalapeños, covered with a thick layer of batter and deep fried. The accompanying paprika aioli and avocado provided some relief against the oily cloying battered chilli.

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Our blue ribbon crispy fried chicken (4 pieces) $20

The plate of chicken set upon us left us beyond words. The four deboned pieces were juicy and god damn tasty. The blend of herbs and spices in the marinade was perfect and I really loved the accompanying tangy green dip. The bed of seasoned curly fries warranted our attention and stomach space. We were floating in deep-fried goodness.

I initially stepped foot into Parlour Diner with some trepidation but it was all washed away by the milkshake and fried chickadee. Neighbouring patrons had tucked into tender finger-licking ribs and towering juicy burgers with cries of “oh my god”, and that is the siren call to tempt me back.

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Filed under American, Brunch, Coffee, Milkshakes, South Yarra, Windsor

Urban Garden Cafe, Gramercy Bistro

Urban Garden Café
Basement 488 Swanston Street
Carlton
Vic 3053
+61 3 9225 9009
Urban Garden Cafe on Urbanspoon
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Social media is a great way of getting news of food. I’ve been stalking Winston on Instagram and when he uploaded pictures of Char Kuay Teow and Durian Brulee, tweeting that he had visited Urban Garden Café three times in one week, I knew I had to go soon. A dinner date was quickly arranged with Fakebooo, Wince and Leaf.

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Jesse’s Char Koay Teow – Wok fried flat noodles with prawn and egg $8.50

Urban Garden resides in the basement of Arrow on Swanston, a serviced apartment complex tailored for students and tourists. It brought back heaps of memories as I spent my first year in Melbourne as a resident in the very same building. The café is a great support to the international students on Arrow, providing a source of income, a social network, food that speaks of home and a hangout/study lounge.

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Durian Brulee – Our premier sweet, a creamy sweet custard made with real durian $5

We ordered a whole heap to share, allowing everyone to get a taste of each dish. While all the dishes were executed well, some of them stood out especially:

  1. Char Kuay Teow: had good “wok hei”, meaning that the noodles were fried in a well-seasoned wok at a high-enough temperature to produce a charcoaly, smoky flavour.
  2. Penang Laksa: had the correct noodles (thick rice vermicelli) and the soup was full of fish and pineapple. I personally prefer more chilli and sourness to the soup.
  3. The pandan panacotta: was smooth and wobbly. It sat on a palm sugar syrup that was rich and sweet.
  4. Durian brulee: was amazing. The rich custard had visible durian strands without the taste of the fruit becoming overwhelmingly chemical.

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(Left) Panda Ninja – Real pandan panna cotta with glossy gula Melaka and fresh fruits $6.90
(Right) Assam Laksa – Peranakan specialty of fat rice noodles in a thick aromatic hot and sour fish broth $8.50

I reminisce about hawker food from back home, and while most Malaysian eateries in Melbourne offers that food, it never tastes the same. Urban Garden didn’t evoke childhood memories but it does fulfill the craving.

Gramercy Bistro
162 Commercial Road
Prahran
Vic 3181
+61 3 9098 1155
Gramercy Bistro on Urbanspoon

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I was offered to dine, courtesy of Gramercy Bistro on their opening “Burger Night”. They had tweeted the launch of their burger menu and offered a free burger for the first 20 to reply. I swooped in eagerly, fingers swiftly tapping out “Hell yeah!” and moments later, was cordially invited to attend and bring along a friend.

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The deal is simple; $20 gets you a burger, hand-cut chips and a drink. The choices of burger range from the usual fillings of beef patty, fried chicken and pulled pork to the interesting choices of beef brisket and Thai fish cake. The Angmoh and I decided to go simple and both get a beef burger; mine being the Downtown, and his, a Manhattan.

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Southern Fried Chicken Ribs with celery and ranch dressing $14

We also ordered a starter of Southern fried chicken as The Angmoh was starving after a long hard day at work. The ribs were hot, juicy and crisp, and what I like to term ‘bloke food’. Bloke food basically is finger food, best served with footy + beer.

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Manhattan – Wagyu beef patty, streaky bacon, lettuce, tomato, Monterey jack and onion rings

The burgers came not too long after. The Manhattan an impressive towering stack of bun, patty, onion rings, tomato and bacon. My Downtown was not too shabby; the combination of pickles, relish and mustard always works for me. We both agreed that the bun was really good and I especially liked how it came studded with seeds and grain. We did provide some feedback to the manager that the burgers could use a little more sauce.

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Downtown – Wagyu beef patty, American mustard, house relish, Monterey jack and pickles

Thursday nights are now good for 3 things: it is just one day before its one day before the weekend, you get paid (well at least I know I do), and you can spend a small fraction of that pay for a deliciously satisfying meal.

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I hear that Gramercy now has a steak night on Tuesday too. I think that’s plenty enough reason for a return.

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Filed under American, Burgers, Carlton, Malaysian, prahran, Singaporean