Nora

Nora
156 Elgin Street
Carlton
Vic 3053
+61 3 9041 8644
Nora on Urbanspoon

Nora

Fakebooo selected a café for one of our Thursday brunch sessions: Nora. He had yet to sample the famous charcoal-based tarts and promptly needed to rectify that.

welcome

We stepped into the small-spaced café in Carlton and fell in love straight away. It was stark, it was clean, it was cute and the only the presence of the open kitchen and coffee machine prevented the café from appearing like an art gallery.

coffee
Piccolo latte $4

As Fakebooo sipped on his decent Small Batch coffee, we contemplated the menu. It was hard to decide when everything sounded so interesting and alluring. In the end, we made our choices: “Dear Mitchell” for me and “Pig from the Ground it’s Raised From” for Booo.

Pig
Pig from the ground it’s raised from – bacon, scallop, mushroom, watercress & taro puree, radish $18.50

If you thought the names of the dishes belonged to a degustation menu, wait till you see the plating! Fakebooo’s dish was just too beautiful to eat. The taro puree was a gentle smear at the rim, with the zucchini and radish artfully arranged to hide the slab of bacon steak. The taste of the dish was just as amazing. The pork was tender and full of flavour and topped with dehydrated scallop flakes that provided sweetness. The raw vegetables gave a refreshing green taste to counter the richness of the meat and the smooth taro paste bound it all together.

egg
Dear Mitchell – eggs our way, house chilli dressing, shallots, salted shrimps and Thai greens $14.50

Although my dish didn’t appear quite so pretty, it was bloody tasty. The beaten eggs were cooked in a 62 degree fashion, making it softer, more wobbly and more gelatinous than its boring steamed cousin. The dressing of sweet chilli and dried shrimp pumped up the flavours, giving simultaneous little bursts of sweetness and umami. The Asian vegetables of green papaya, Vietnamese mint and spring onion provided a little rawness and a little crunch.

sides

Both our dishes came with a side of wombok and a brown muffin. The wombok was glazed with house-made Thai curry paste, which confounded both Fakebooo and I. It just didn’t seem to go with either of our dishes. The bread on the other hand was well-received. It turned out to be a very eggy Yorkshire pudding-like bread, and it served well as our carb component to our brunch mains.

I loved everything about Nora: from goggling at the (t)art on display, to sipping on sweet tingly sparkling water (did I mention it’s free!), and awakening my tastebuds with the playful but delicious food. What about the tarts you ask?

tart
Charcoal tart – lychee, cheddar, Vegemite $5

This time, I tried the lychee, cheddar and Vegemite tart. The odd combination of ingredients meshed well in a pungent, sweet and salty manner. I liked it, although the true-blue Vegemite-lovin’ Aussie Angmoh refused to take a bite.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Brunch, Carlton, Coffee, Modern, Sweets

Takeaway Special! Pop Up Scrolls, T by Luxbite

scrolls

Pop Up Scroll
86 Smith Street
Collingwood
Vic 3066
+61 4 3384 9281
Pop Up Scroll on Urbanspoon

One Friday night, I turned to The Angmoh and asked him in a most casual manner, “Angmoh*, watcha gonna do tomorrow since I gotta work?” to which he rattled off his usual weekend pattern followed off with a “why? Can I get you something?”

Well, since he asked, I couldn’t say no, could I? And that’s how I got myself 3 delicious scrolls from Eat a Scroll in Collingwood. I left the flavours entirely in the hands of The Angmoh, which tested the waters of our relationship if he’d returned with those filled with ingredients I didn’t like. We haven’t broken up, so he chose well.

The Angmoh made away with a cream cheese scroll, a chocolate and caramel one and finally, one with peanut butter and banana. These 3 were brioche-based, although there are croissant-type ones too. I’ll be honest, I had them on the Monday later. And guess what, they were still fresh and delish. The scroll itself was soft and not too buttery and the filling was gentle with the amount of sugar in it. Even the chocolate and caramel scroll was just right in terms of sugar and richness, leaving you without the feeling of sick.

My absolute favourite scroll of choice is cinnamon and I hope Eat A Scroll will someday create some old-fashioned ones too.

*I do not really call The Angmoh “Angmoh”.

T by Luxbite
2/517 Flinders Lane
Melbourne
Vic 3000
+61 3 9629 9662
T By LuxBite on Urbanspoon

IMG_0757
(Left) Calamansi – jackfruit, chilli salt, longan, meringue, kaffir lime sherbet, vanilla tart $9
(Right) Yuzu – Raspberry, matcha marshmallow, meringue, baby shiso, vanilla tart $8

I swung into T by Luxbite after a shopping spree at Gorman. Shorts, skirt and raincoat poorer but fuelled with adrenaline and serotonin, I oohed and ahhed at the too-pretty-to-eat tarts on display. It was a hot day and already hyped from shopping, I found myself not craving chocolate. Instead, it was the lighter citrusy flavours that I was after.

calamansi

The tarts are priced according to their shape. I chose the Calamansi tart, which is circular, and the Yuzu tart, which is rectangular. Both tarts are filled with a rich citrus curd which is once again not too cloyingly sweet. The prominent taste of jackfruit in the Calamansi tart was very enjoyable. However, some of the flavours are lost on me, such as chilli salt in the former and shiso in the latter.

That tarts are lovely but I’ll wait till it’s much cooler before trying the Chocolate and Kuma tarts, which I’m sure will be fantabulous.

 

2 Comments

Filed under CBD, Collingwood, Pastries, Sweets

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?

Leave a comment

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.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Brunch, Burgers, Hawthorn, Japanese, Matcha

Ora Cafe

Ora Café
156 Pakington Street
Kew
Vic 3101
+61 3 9855 2002
Ora Cafe on Urbanspoon

ora

Fakebooo invited me along to brunch with his colleagues one day. Since we used to work together and we were all in the same industry, I decided to crawl out of my well and do some socialising. The venue was Ora, which both Fakebooo and I last visited at least 2 years ago (on separate occasions). I remembered that the brunch fare was excellent and Fakebooo enjoyed it too, commending the coffee.

coffee
Piccolo latte $3.80

Ora occupies a small space and patrons spill over onto the pavement to dine along the narrow strip. Fortunately for us, we managed to get a table inside and avoided the initial fat raindrops, followed by warm dense humidity. The menu is small but unique with interesting dishes incorporated from Asian flavours, such as sesame prawn toast and spiced tiffin eggs. The coffee is from a roaster I’ve not come across: Maker, and that morning, Fakebooo and I enjoyed our piccolo lattes made from Ethiopia “Konga”, a single origin which boasted notes of blueberry, florals and peach. The blueberry was indeed prominent on the first taste, which mellowed softly into the summer sweetness of the stone fruit.

chai, hotchoc
(Top) Mork hot chocolate $4
(Bottom) Chai $4

Roen, Jac and Jean carpooled to get to the café and as soon as they arrived they swiftly ordered their drinks. Hot chocolate for Jean, a chai latte for Jac and a citrus fizzy for Roen. They too settled quickly on their food choices and once our order was placed we got cracking with our exchange of gossip and ranting. The kitchen service did take a little while but our conversations had us killing time anyway.

eggs n baconprawn toast
(Right) 2 scrambled eggs on sourdough $9, add The Melbourne Pantry bacon $5
(Left) prawn toast – sesame, avocado whip, lime, egg $20

Roen and Jean customised their breakfasts with a simple eggs and bacon on toast, with Roen getting his egg poached and Jean opting for scrambled. Jac had the prawn toasts which, I assume, Ora borrowed the idea from the popular yumcha dish. Unlike the petite dim sum version, Jac’s dish came as a thick sandwich. While I thought the combination of poached egg, avocado mousse and prawn toast a little odd, Jac apparently didn’t find any fault and devoured it without complaint.

salmonbeetroot
(Left) Salmon gravlax – lime, beetroot, cucumber, rye $17, add poached egg $3
(Right) Beetroot on toast – goats curd, beetroot crisp, torn egg $17

Fakebooo’s brunch of rye bread, house-cured salmon with added poached egg was delicate and a perfect dish for summer. I couldn’t go past the combination of beetroot with goats cheese and the beetroot chips were a wonderful way to add texture to the dish.

Ora turned out to be just as good as I’d remembered. Portions while not gargantuan, are not stingy either and the food reflects a well-thought blend of ingredients and flavours.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Brunch, Chai, Coffee, Kew

Chimac, Pidapipo

chimac

Chimac
Shop 1 39-47 Peel Street
West Melbourne
Vic 3003
+61 3 9939 5916
Chimac on Urbanspoon

Chimac has been on Liz’s and my wishlists for a while. After hearing good reviews from Fakebooo, a double dinner date was arranged.

Chimac focuses on fusion Korean street food and with the slogan “I love chicken and beer”, we knew we were at the right place for some finger-licking KFC.

beef
Draft by Jiaro HITE (jug) $18

Apparently Hart is a major lightweight so he stuck to Coke while the rest of us indulged in the appropriate beverage. The Korean draft was pleasant and light, perfect for the deep-fried madness that was to come.

The first dish to grace our table was an interesting combination of melted cheese, firm tofu and kimchi on a hot plate. We loved it. Grilling the kimchi intensified its depth, working well with the neutral tofu.

burritopancake
(Left) Joeeon burrito – spicy pork $15
(Right) Seafood pancake – prawns, squids and scallion $17

We also enjoyed a seafood pancake and a burrito. While the pancake was alright and nothing to shout about, the burrito wrap, Chimac’s take on the popular Mexican snack, made for a delicious mouthful. It was stuffed with rice, jalapenos, sour cream and spicy pork belly and it worked.

fried chickentofu kimchi
(Left) Chimac Chicken (including salad and pickled daikon) – mix and match of Ultra Crispy and Wonder Soy $38
(Right) Tofu on kimchi field – tofu, cheese and caramelised kimchi $22

The star of the night had to be the fried chicken. We chose a mix of “ultra crispy” and “wonder soy”. The latter was a lighter version of teriyaki and still leant towards the sweet side. I do not want to imagine how insanely sweet the ‘bloody sweet’ version will be. We all agreed that the ultra crispy was the preferred choice. No secret herbs and spices needed, this blew us away as soon we crunched in. I loved how little batter is used, as opposed to the usual thick-battered chicken from other Korean joints. Hart even declared it the best Korean fried chicken he’d come across.

Needless to say, all of us had a bloody delicious time at Chimac. Hart’s so smitten by the chicken that he’s already made plans to return the following week. As for myself, I’m curious about the rest of the Mexican/Korean menu (ta-kors anyone?) and I can never say no to good ol’ fried chicken.

pidapipo

Pidapipo
299 Lygon Street
Carlton
Vic 3053
+61 3 9347 4596
Chimac on Urbanspoon

gelato
(Left) Fior di latte $4
(Right) Ricotta, honey and cinnamon $4

Despite being stuffed to the max, I thought ice cream will be the perfect way to fill in the gaps in my stomach. What better place to check out than the newly opened Pidapipo? There was a queue, as expected, but it moved along pretty quick. I got a scoop of the Christmas special: ricotta, honey and cinnamon, while the Angmoh lapped up some fior di latte. Oddly the gelato wasn’t as good as how we’d remembered it. Was it because our expectations were set too high or was the quality truly compromised by the crowd and pressure? I’ll probably let the excitement settle down before heading back for 2nds at Pidapipo.

1 Comment

Filed under Carlton, Gelato, Korean, Mexican, West Melbourne

Happy 2015!

treacle cake

The past few days leading towards the closure of 2014 have been a silly face-stuffing belly-expanding celebration. I hosted a Christmas dinner for 9 and churned out a seafood pie, a summer salad and a layered spiced treacle cake. The Angmoh’s family celebrates Christmas in a traditional manner and there was a full-blown feast of cocktail prawns, turkey, roast pork, pavlova and Christmas pudding. I-Hua then threw a post-Christmas potluck luncheon. She baked an wonderful fluffy bread in just 30 minutes(!), Zeboy made an exquitely tender dish of pork in milk, Tanh (I Eat Therefore I Am) barbecued some fantastic Vietnamese skewers, Agnes (Off The Spork) contributed meatballs in a rich tomato sugo, Kat (Spatula, Spoon and Saturday) made an incredible Thai curry and Fakebooo baked his famous chilli chicken. Kat also brought a mango sticky rice cake that was sensational. I tossed together a salad of mixed leaves, grape tomatoes, sliced avocado, Meredith’s goat cheese and sourdough croutons, dressed in a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil and pomegranate molasses. I’m calling it “the Melbourne Deconstructed Brunch Salad”.

breadsavouries

mango cake

salads

2014 has come and gone in a blink of an eye. Apart from the eating challenge, my dining habits have remained pretty unchanged. There have been plenty of brunches as expected. The Angmoh and I cut down on fancy dinners though we did eat out fairly freqeuntly at cheap Asian diners. The most repetitive dish we ate has to be pho from I Love Pho 264; after all he won a competition for a year’s worth of the comforting noodle soup. The happiest meals were at Easy Tiger and Epocha and the most disappointing was our revisit to Spice Temple. The weirdest thing I’d put in my mouth is a dried cheese that the Bhutanese people chew on over a certain period of time. I can only describe it to be like hard plastic milk.

IMG_0242

As for 2015, I see myself patronising usual favourites like Rose Garden and I Love Pho 264. I also hope to utilise my myriad of cookbooks and attempt more homecooking.

I anticipate that 2015 will be a delicious year ahead and wish everyone a mouth-watering scruumptious happy new year!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized