Category Archives: Japanese

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen

 

 

 

 

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen
Basement
27 Russell Street
Melbourne
Vic 3000
+61 3 9650 3708
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen on Urbanspoon

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The Angmoh and I were invited to attend to dine at Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen. A chorus of “Irrashaimase” hailed upon our descent into the restaurant. Unlike a couple of other basement Japanese restaurants, Ikkuryu Fukuoka spares no expense with lighting. It’s bright, spacious and welcoming.

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Ikkoryu Original Tonkotsu – Ikkoryu original hearty tonkotsu ramen garnished with charshu, green onion, bamboo shoots, woodear and dried seaweed $15

We randomly chose a table to peruse the menu. The ramen offers plenty of customisation: the type of soup, the hardness of noodle, the amount of ramen oil, the amount of shoyu and so on. I decided to have hard noodles in original soup, with light ramen oil and light shoyu. The Angmoh was intrigued by the yuzukosyo spice and had his ramen with the yuzu tama tonkontsu broth and his noodles cooked to the original degree of hardness. As we were one of the first to arrive, we got to enjoy our noodles pretty early and were ushered to sit at the counter to dine on them. Accompanying the noodles were some gyoza which were excellent. The skins were crisp and thin, and the filling juicy with some sweetness coming from the pork.

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Yuzu Tonkotsu – yuzu tama tonkotsu is flavoured with yuzukosyo, one of the spices that the Kyushu region of Japan is known for. A spice experience in ramen like no other $17

Back to our ramen, these were pretty good. The soups were well-balanced with both savoury and sweet notes. The yuzukosyo in The Angmoh’s soup gave it its green appearance and a good kick of peppery spice. The noodles were of good quality, although I thought mine had the exact same bite or hardness to that of The Angmoh’s. The pork was fall apart tender and the shoyu-seasoned soft boiled egg had a gooey yolk. The only let down was the absence of bamboo shoots in both our bowls, one of my favourite ingredients when having ramen. I also thought the portions were a tad small for the price stated on the menu. Perhaps due to the nature of the evening, portions sizes were meant for sampling.

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Apple sake

We were also offered some complimentary apple sake, which was basically apple juice with a shot of sake. It was light and refreshing.

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Gyoza (5 pieces) – $11

However, once we were done with our noodles, we had to give up our counter seats. This got a little awkward as the restaurant had now filled up and not many table seats were left. Guests started shuffling about, so we decided to avoid the chaos and left (which also meant we didn’t get to sample the rest of the sides).

The Angmoh and I thank Ikkoryu for having us on the night of their soft launch. I’m looking forward for a revisit to devour their excellent gyoza and trying out the rest of the ramen menu.

Disclaimer: The Hangry Bitch and The Angmoh were invited to attend Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen’s soft opening of their first Australian Restaurant in Mebourne.

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Filed under CBD, Japanese, Noodles, Ramen

Rice Workshop, Raw Trader

Rice Workshop
238 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne
Vic 3000
+61 3 9650 6663
Rice Workshop on Urbanspoon

rice workshop

Sometimes all I’m after is a quick no-frills tasty meal that is easy on the wallet and super satisfying. Rice Workshop is one such place where the food ticks all those boxes for me.

The concept is simple: choose your staple of rice or noodles, add on the seasoned meat and toppings (ontama egg for me), and if that’s not enough, pick from a selection of deep fried goodies to complete the experience.

beefbowl
Regular kimchi beef $8.50, add ontama egg

My comfort meal at Rick Workshop is the kimchi beef bowl with an added soft-boiled egg. The thin slices of fatty beef are marinated in a sweet soy with slight hints of maple. Paired with slightly spicy vinegary kimchi, it’s a sucker of a combination that gets to me each time. An ooey-gooey egg is cracked over the ricebowl and coats everything with a gelatinous slurpy egg blanket, yum!

Complimentary sides of pickled ginger or radish are available and I always pile my bowl high with the radish. The piquant crunch is irresistible!

A simple soft serve of matcha or black sesame is available for those needing to round up the meal with something sweet.

Raw Trader
10 Sutherland Street
Melbourne
Vic 3000
+61 4 7869 2008
Raw Trader on Urbanspoon

raw trader

For myself, I was hankering for a healthier sweet treat after gobbling up my meal. I crossed a couple blocks to Raw Trader, a healthy café situated near Short Stop Donuts that offers raw, unprocessed, vegan dishes. I indulged in a chai “cheesecake” and enjoyed the fragrant hints of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. The texture of the cake was creamily smooth and made for a wonderful guilt-free way to finish up my day in the city.

chai cheesecake
Chai cheesecake $10

Tummy satisfaction doesn’t always need to be in the form of a fancy degustation. I find that simple pleasures of delicious fuss-free food warms the soul. What’s your go-to meal for a quick soothing?

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Filed under Asian, CBD, Chai, Japanese, Korean, Raw, Sweets

Tana Cafe

Tana Café
36 Church Street
Hawthorn
Vic 3122
+61 4 2196 5656
Tana Cafe on Urbanspoon

tana cafe

Fakebooo and I brunched at Tana Café on one of our RDOs. It’s a small space with a Japanese-inspired menu that offers wholesome breakfast options. You can vouch on how healthy it is when yogis spill over from next door after completing their sun salutations and what not.

matche latte
House made sweet green tea matcha latte $4

Instead of coffee, we had matcha lattes that morning. It comes pre-sweetened but only mildly so. Rich with anti-oxidants and frothy with milk, it was a delicious drink and made for a delightful change from our usual caffeine fix.

tofu salad
Organic tofu salad – organic silken tofu, lettuce, raisin, walnuts, sesame and soybeans served with house made Japanese ume (pickled plum) dressing $12

The menu focuses on light breakfast and lunch meals, with some dishes having a Japanese twist. I chose one such dish, an organic tofu salad drizzled with their house-made dressing of pickled plum (or ume). It was perfect. The alfafa with its grassy notes, the raisins and their sweetness, the almonds and their crunch and the gentle silky tofu came together beautifully. The dressing was slightly sweet, slightly tangy, faintly bitter and just so freaking good that it stunned Fakebooo into muttering out a mangled remark “I love the marination!”

veggie burger
Vegetable burger – avocado, boiled egg, mashed potatoes, tasty cheese, tomato, apple sauce, caramelised onion, lettuce, alfafa, beetroot and dukkah $11

Fakebooo chose the veggie burger, which he remarked to be one of the best he’d come across. It was a mashed potato patty, topped with boiled egg, beetroot, cheese and caramelised onion, nestled between buns that had been slathered with smashed avocado. It made for one very healthy, very messy but very delicious burger.

croque monsieur
Croque monsieur  – miso flavoured bechamel sauce, tasty cheese, ham, caramelised onion, whole grain mustard and sourdough bread $7.50

Being greedy guts that we are, we decided to order another dish to share. We were intrigued by the croque monsieur due to its miso béchamel sauce. The miso couldn’t be detected due to the strong tastes of mustard and cheese but it still made for a decent sandwich. I particularly liked the use of caramelised onion; it provided a sweetness which offset the cheese.

Brunch at Tana was enjoyable. The food was light and nourishing and the café a humble abode. For those needing a change from heavy brunches, I suggest giving Tana café a go.

 

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Filed under Brunch, Burgers, Hawthorn, Japanese, Matcha

Quick Bites: Don Don

Don Don
5 Bank Street
South Melbourne
Vic 3205
+61 3 9696 6682
Don Don on Urbanspoon

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Dining at Don Don brings back student memories of skipping finishing classes and strolling down Swanston Street for a feed. Don Don lures in students like a honey-coated venus flytrap with its delicious Japanese meals that are speedily dished up and extremely easy on the pocket.

Now that I’ve graduated and weaving the laneways of Melbourne is a thing of a past, I’m glad that Don Don had the foresight to branch out into the ‘burbs, especially one that’s near me. My closest Don Don is situated in South Melbourne with her other siblings scattered in the CBD and Carlton. While Don Don mainly features rice dishes as extrapolated from the name, her cousin Don Too offers ramen.

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Chicken curry don $6.90

I stepped into Don Don for a quick feed on a lonely day off. My lunch was the chicken curry don, with chunks of tender grilled chicken, smokey from the teriyaki, cradled in a pool of mild curry. The curry at Don Don is far from sweet and pretty damn good. The meatless version uses charred tofu instead and is perfect for vegetarians and Meatless Mondays. A good mound of rice to soak up the sauce and a sprinkle of pickled radish for crunch and tang complete the dish, making it one of the cheapest and most satisfying meals one can get in Melbourne.

Having tried both the beef sukiyaki don and the salmon sashimi don I can vouch for their scrumptiousness, but it’s the teriyaki chicken curry that beckons me over and over again. For those in need of a quick meal or one that is budget-friendly without compromising taste, I highly recommend that you give Don Don a go.

 

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Filed under Japanese, South Melbourne

A weekend in Sydney

Once a year, I dedicate a weekend to Sydney. One weekend of pure gluttony, where getting full is not an option and optimising every last bit of space in that second stomach is very much mandatory. Last year Fakebooo and I flew up for a weekend of pastries, cakes and brilliant Argentinian food and you can read all about it here. This year my itinerary was pretty much the same, except this time round, The Angmoh came along as my dining companion.

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His only request food-wise was to have yumcha. That’s how we found ourselves in The Eight Restaurant, gorging on prawn dumplings, steamed pork ribs and glutinous rice as soon our plane landed. The restaurant was quiet when we rocked up close to 11am, with trolleys piled high with steaming bamboo baskets. By the time we left though, it was packed and rowdy, the way every reputable yumcha restaurant ought to be. The food was pretty good: slippery fresh prawns housed in silky translucent skins, smooth beef balls with the delicate crunch of water chestnut and velvety soy curd in a gingery syrup.

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We walked out lugging our backpacks and hiked across town towards Woolloomooloo, for the one and only and my Sydney-must-have Flour and Stone. Here I indulged in a rich chocolate tart while The Angmoh nibbled on some fruit toast. Deciding against the panna cotta lamington to save space for dinner, we headed towards our hotel for an afternoon siesta.

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alfajores

At 5pm, we were the first in line for Porteno. Having inadequate figures for a table booking, we decided to be kiasu and started camping an hour before the doors opened. Was the wait worth it? Hell yeah! Porteno panders to every carnivore’s wet dream where meats are grilled to perfection. Served in generous portions by cute waiters in leather aprons, every dish a sight for sore hungry eyes. My absolute favourite item, ironically, is a vegetable one. The grilled peppers are an absolute delight. Their skins blistered from high heat slip off to reveal soft flesh, succulent and sweet. Desserts here are excellent too, and I split an alfajores with The Angmoh. This was an amazing dish with crumbly buttery shortbread sandwiching a sticky caramel-like dulce de leche, all smothered in chocolate and then topped with an incredible brown butter ice cream. I was in dessert heaven.

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IMG_9417The next morning, we squeezed ourselves into a tiny café. Room 10 is a hole-in-the-wall which we’d chanced upon during our brief stroll in Kings’ Cross. We were counting the number of strip joints where a turn led us onto an unassuming laneway which had a handful of cafes and bistros. The morning crowd built quickly and we were lucky to get a table right away. The coffees were served hot and leant towards bitter. While The Angmoh enjoyed a slab of homemade banana bread with Pepe Saya butter, I worked off my morning gym session with a protein-heavy sandwich of smoked ham, triple cheese and smashed egg. Both dishes ticked all our breakfast boxes.

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Next on our agenda was another of my Sydney must-haves: Blackstar Pastry’s strawberry, watermelon cake with rose-scented cream. This has to be one of my all-time favourite cakes. Feminine in description and appearance, this cake is pure heaven with just the right amount of sweetness and perfect combination of floral and fruity flavours. It’s not only this cake that excels at Blackstar. The pastries too, are sensational. The Angmoh, after sampling the sausage roll, declared it to be “the best sausage roll of his life”. The flaky pastry is loaded with butter and filling was packed with flavour and spice, and even retained a resilient chewy texture. We took a couple of these bad boys back to Melbourne and The Angmoh’s dad proclaimed the very same.

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To kill time before dinner, I catched up on my zzz’s while The Angmoh enjoyed “Locke”. These odd arty-farty movies aren’t quite my thing but our final meal totally is. Gumshara Ramen sits in a foodcourt in Chinatown. The broth here is one of the best I’ve come across, with depth and stickiness achieved from boiling pork bones till kingdom come. The noodles and egg are cooked without any fault, retaining bite and wobble respectively. I enjoyed mine with a hit of black garlic and less salt. Needless to say, it went down a treat.

Sadly this concludes our weekend in Sydney. I’m already anticipating another foodie trip that will challenge the waistline and loosen the belt. Please hit me up for any mouth-watering delectable recommendations!

The Eight
9-13 Hay Street,
Haymarket
NSW 2000
+61 2 9282 9988
The Eight Modern Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Porteno
358 Cleveland Street
Surry Hills
NSW 2010
+61 2 8399 1440
Porteño on Urbanspoon

Room 10
10 Llankelly Place
Potts Point
NSW 2011
Room 10 on Urbanspoon

Black Star Pastry
277 Australia Street
Newtown
NSW 2042
+61 2 9557 8656
Black Star Pastry on Urbanspoon

Gumshara Ramen
211/25-29 Dixon Street
Hawmarket
NSW 2000
Gumshara Ramen on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Argentinian, Brunch, Chinese, Coffee, Japanese, Noodles, Pastries, Ramen, Sweets, Sydney, Travels, Yum Cha

Ichi Ni

Ichi Ni
12 The Esplanade
St Kilda
Vic 3182
+61 3 9534 1212
Ichi Ni Izakaya on Urbanspoon

ichi ni

A little while ago, work peeps arranged for an after work dinner at Ichi Ni. You know you work in a great place when you still want to hang out with your colleagues despite being in their company for more than 35hours a week. Oh and the best part: they let you take photos of the food before diving in.

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When I was first informed that dinner was at a Japanese Izakaya in St Kilda, I had trepidations. I thought it was going to be “Crapanese” fusion with items heavy on sweet teriyaki and cloying mayo. But I trudged along good-naturedly and guess what, I probably ate most of the food on the table that night.

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(Left) Beef gyoza – 6 pieces of pan fried beef Japanese dumplings served with soy ponzu sauce $14
(Right) Prawn gyoza – 6 pieces of pan fried prawn Japanese dumplings served with soy ponzu sauce $14

Ichi Ni sits along the tram tracks opposite the St. Kilda Sunday Market. Next to the iconic Etsy, the restaurant is flagged by a petite lantern and the interior resembles a modern temple.

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(Left) Vegetable tempura – 6 pieces lightly battered seasonal vegetables served with ichi Ni original tarte $12.50
(Right top) Ichi ni roll – 8 pieces with lobster, avocado, cucumber. Topped with flamed salmon sashimi and Japanese mayo $25
(Right bottom) Crab roll – 5 pieces soft shell crab tempura roll with lettuce, cucumber, avocado, flying fish roe and Japanese mayo $16.50

Blonde Biker Chick took rein of the ordering and I was told that the gyozas here were a must. We had a vast selection of izakaya dishes, including tempura and yakitori and a few dons to satisfy those with bigger appetites.

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Sashimi small – approx. 10 slices $22

I liked every dish. The gyoza was really good, with soft skins housing a juicy flavoursome filling. The sashimi was fresh but pricey for the amount offered. The vegetable tempura consisted of usual players like mushroom, zucchini and carrot. The batter was far from oily although I’d prefer if the usual dipping sauce was available. I found myself unexpectedly loving a dish of chargrilled rice cakes, drizzled in teriyaki and topped with cheese. The ingredients sound like the oddest combination but you know what, it totally worked! I ate my weight in grilled rice cakes that night, especially with the pickled radish, I just couldn’t stop.

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(Left) Yaki onigiri – 2 grilled rice balls topped with melting cheese $14
(Right) Hitokuchi katsu – crumbed pork belly served with Japanese BBQ sauce and mayonnaise $15.50

The don were served after we had finished more than three-quarters of the izakaya dishes. All of us were getting pretty stuffed by then and our mouths almost hit the ground when 12 bowls of miso soup were initially set down before each of us. BBC had placed an order for 5 don and we thought there was an error in the ordering. Lucky for us, it was just the staff being extremely generous and giving each of us a serve of soup so we didn’t have to share. The don (not photographed) were tasty and served their purpose of filling up the very last of our tummy spaces.

beef skewermushroom
(Left) Gyu yakitori – beef scotch fillet (2 skewers per serve) $9
(Right top) Tori yakitori – chicken thigh (2 skewers per serve) $8
(Right bottom) Field mushroom $10

Every now and again I find myself eating humble pie after forming a pre-judged opinion of a restaurant. Ichi Ni turned out to be more than pleasant and I look forward to visiting again just for those grilled rice cakes!

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Filed under Japanese, St Kilda

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.

brisketsalmon
(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!

bossam
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.

spinach
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 Japanese, Korean, Korean BBQ, Richmond