Let’s face it. There are days where you’ve slugged all day at work, have totally forgotten to take something out of the freezer to defrost and just can’t face heading to the supermarket to buy and much less cook dinner. It’s times like these where something quick, simple, delicious and not to mention, cheap, is highly desired. Take a stab at the following four options: there’s Malaysian, Korean, Japan and French to suit fussy tastebuds.
469 Elizabeth Street
+61 3 9328 2562
It was one of those evenings after gym where I hadn’t prepared any food for dinner and couldn’t be half-assed to buy and cook something. I texted Fakebooo to ask if he had any dinner plans that evening and fortunately for me, he hadn’t and didn’t mind a quick cheap meal after knocking off work.
We decided to meet on the “Asian Food Stretch” of Elizabeth Street. I arrived earlier and started considered my choices, then discovered Kitchen Inn. Fakebooo arrived soon enough and commented that the “Kolo Mee” was pretty good. Since I’d yet to try Kitchen Inn, we decided to give it a go.
Kampua special $11
While many Singaporean and Malaysian dishes overlap, several dishes in Kitchen Inn sounded alien to me. Fakebooo and I braved the unfamiliar and ordered two dishes that we did not recognize. I had the Kampua Noodles while Fakebooo sampled the Sarawak Laksa.
Sarawak Laksa $10.90
My dish appeared as a bowl of dried yellow noodles topped with a small mound of char siew and prawns, garnished with a sprinkling of fried shallots. Some sauce (which I later found out contains pork lard) sits on the bottom of the bowl and all the ingredients are mixed deftly with chopsticks. It was delicious. Fakebooo’s sarawak laksa turned out to be somewhat similar to chicken curry noodles with a sprinkling of five spice. The soup was grainy with peppery bits but the fragrance and flavour made it enjoyable.
It was good crossing into unknown territories that evening and trying new and different Malaysian dishes.
32 A’Beckett Street
+61 3 9639 4456
I love the décor at Tarng. The studded sunflowers on the black wall uplift what would otherwise be a dark and stern appearance for the restaurant.
I was in the mood for kimchi stew that evening. The Angmoh loves his Korean BBQ, and so, ordered from the BBQ set of the menu.
(Left) Kimchi stew – kimchi soup with pork and tofu $12.80
(Right) BBQ pork belly with spicy sauce $15.80
My stew was spicy and tangy, the perfect combination for tempting and whetting my palate. The pork melded into the soup and gave it a rich buttery roundness. The Angmoh’s dish was served on a sizzling hot plate that had the adorable shape of a fish. Unfortunately the ratio of sliced onions to pork was extremely skewed towards the former and it all swam in a pool of oily sweet sauce. I took pity on The Angmoh and graciously shared my stew with him.
While Tarng was a hit and miss this time, my previous visits have been enjoyable. Stick with the hotpots or stews, just to be safe.
241 Flinders Lane
+61 3 9639 0307
Transport away from the busy Melbourne CBD into a romantic alley of France with Roule Galette. It is cute, quaint and saturated with the essence of everything French. The music, the accents and, of course, the food brings back happy memories of Paris and a forlornly sigh in my heart.
It was around lunch time when we stepped foot into the café. The Angmoh’s smoked salmon crepe and my egg and ham galette were delicious and surprisingly filling. The crepes were nicely thin and had good texture. The balance of batter to ingredients was also well-achieved.
(Top) Océane – smoked salmon and fresh yoghurt sauce with lemon and chives $13
(Bottom) Complète – egg, ham and Emmental $10
I have tried the dessert crepes on previous occasions and the one with rose jam is a particular favourite of mine. The jam is not sickeningly sweet and the sweet floral fragrance gives the dish a wonderful perfume.
Roule Galette is a good way to dodge the hustle and bustle of the city for a romantic escape into France.
330 Little Lonsdale Street
+61 3 9670 7113
To commemorate Mid-Autumn Festival, a small gathering was organized by Serena (Pigging Out Around the World) for a mooncake test taste. (I’d eavesdropped on a twitter conversation and shamelessly did a self-invite. Thanks Serena, for arranging this get together.) A group of 7, myself and Fakebooo included, huddled around the QV foodcourt on a cold spring evening and put 7 mooncakes on the line; there were 3 different brands represented across 5 traditional mooncakes and 2 snow skin mooncakes. Amongst the traditional yolk-filled ones, we compared white lotus with yellow lotus pastes.
In the end, Maxim’s white lotus with egg yolk came out tops. It was smooth, not too oily nor sweet and had the wonderful light scent of the lotus seed. The snow skin mooncakes were god-awful and had overpowering chemical fruit flavours in the filling. I shudder at the very recollection of them.
Maxim’s mooncakes are readily available from the Maxim’s bakery in Chinatown but it is not produced by said bakery. The bakery borrows a famous brand from Hong Kong, the very same that produces and exports the delicious mooncakes. These mooncakes can also be bought from various Asian grocers.
After saturating our tastebuds with sugar, oil and lotus paste, Fakebooo and I made our way to Dontoo. We needed something soupy and wholesome to offset the heaviness of our pre-dinner dessert, and so, ramen it was.
Dontoo is by the same people of Don Don, famous for cheap and tasty Japanese rice dishes and bento sets. The former dishes up ramen during weekday nights. When you arrive at Dontoo, mark your order on the sheets provided, grab a table and wait to slurp up some delicious Japanese noodles and broth.
My Kuon ramen dish was the most basic on the menu, with a serve of char-shu, soft boiled egg and vegetables. The soup was rich with dashi (or smoked bonito) and the generous serve of ingredients made it a very filling meal. The soft-boiled egg was gooey and had the delicious aroma of soy while the thick cut charshu was appropriately fatty, soft and sweet.
Kuon ramen – charshu pork slices, vegetables, seaweed and seasoned egg $8.90
Fakebooo likes the Tsukemen at Dontoo and decided to have it again. The cold ramen noodles had a delightfully pronounced bite. They are dipped in a separately served salty soup to provide great flavour.
(Top right) Tsukemen – chilled ramen served separately with “melt in your mouth” pork pieces and dipping sauce $11.90
(Bottom left) Kuon ramen
I suspect different provinces of Japan do ramen differently. I am very used to ramen served with Tonkotsu (pork-based) broths with pickled bamboo shoots. Nevertheless I very much enjoy the ramen at Dontoo. The texture of the noodles and flavour of the ever-important egg and charshu hit the spot for me and hence is one of my recommended ramen bars of Melbourne.