Wednesday, 29 August 2007
Dad was in the mood for Italian one night, so we scanned through the Entertainment Book for a nice and near and recommended Italian restaurant. Dad picked La Contadina Cafe, Restaurant & Bar out of the selections we gave him.
La Contadina is a cozy little Italian place. I really like the atmosphere of the place. It's casual and homey - with cluttered pictures on the wall, lots of knickknacks and so on. (Food pictures are a little lacking because of light, unsteady hands and really hungry people, sorry!)
We ordered an entree to share, and since Dad is a huge fan of tomatoes, the Bruschetta Florentino ($15) it is!
Bruschetta on my plate! Ready to be gobbled!
It's honestly lovely. The bread was toasty-crispy with no black/burnt bits (AHAHA) and the tomatoes were VERY seasoned nicely with a mix of herbs. It was not overly soggy or crunchy as the case with some bruschettas. There was just enough tasty cheese to go with the bread and everything went together in a nice crunchy mouthful of bread and tomatoes. Thumbs up!
Dad ordered his main, Panzarut Du' Casa ($22) (Main), which was pasta pockets with spinach ricotta and King Island creamy tomato.
At first Dad thought it wasn't going to be good because he wasn't a fan of pasta pockets, but he was sold after the first bite. The pasta pockets were perfect - not too doughy (Dad's fear) or thick. The spinach ricotta filling was absolutely yummy, never knew that spinach and ricotta goes so well together! And added with the tomato sauce - which was made with fresh tomatoes - Dad was sure satisfied with his meal!
Mum had Vitello Au Furno ($26.90), essentially oven-baked veal parmigiana.
Mum thought the veal was cooked just right - and there was a LOT of veal, around 5 pieces of meat. She certainly enjoyed the accompanying tomatoes and the sauce was very good - hearty and herby and complemented the meat really well.
Me and my sisters ordered two mains to share, because we weren't too hungry. Me and big Sis couldn't resist the Risotto Du' Mar ($32), because it was risotto sauteed with chili garlic prawns, lobster and Morton bay bugs! YUM!
Wowee! We adored it! It was so good! The lobster and bay bug wasn't from-the-sea fresh, but that didn't stop the risotto from being divine. The seafood overtones were toned down by a mixture of herbs and risotto and the risotto was cooked just right, not mushy and not undercooked. A mouthful of creamy risotto, prawn,lobster and bay bug was like WOW. It was just really good. I reckoned it would be even better if the seafood was uber fresh but that would be nitpicking.
Our other shared dish was Rigatone De' Ladri ($22), which was venison and duck dumpling meatballs in "pomodor ragu sauce" (no idea what that is, not Italian).
Also really really good. The meatballs were so tasty - meaty and tangy and the pasta sauce was fantastic. Pasta was cooked right and the whole dish was prepared very well indeed. There's fresh tomato puree with the sauce that makes everything tasted really fresh and savoury and yummy.
We also ordered some veggies - Saltet Spinach Mediteran ($6.90) to share and didn't expect it to be uber small.
It was also VERY good, I think they used some kind of special salt for it, but kinda not worth the $6.90 price tag considering the portion. :x But it's good.
For dessert, no one can resist the Tiramisu! In fact we ordered two to share.
Scrumptious. One of the best tiramisu I've tasted in a very long time - creamy, chocolatey and cold and cake-y...yummy!
I think our experience there was really good. The staff was friendly and efficient and the atmosphere cozy. For the record, Sis reckons the food there was as good as authentic Italian cafes in Italy. She should know, cos she's been to Italy. So yeah, it was that good to her, and it was amazing to the rest of us poor schmucks who has never stepped a foot into Europe (except Mum).
Will definitely go back there with the gang! :D Although I think the price is a little steep considering the portions weren't very big. It fed us full enough but for a couple of my guy friends, it might just be too little.
La Contadina Cafe, Restaurant & Bar
168-170 Rathdowne Street
Phone: (03) 9347 6173
Sunday, 26 August 2007
I ate at some rather good Thai and Korean places last week but due to our recent onslaught of Thai/Korean lately, I'll leave those for last. Hahaha. Haven't had a Chinese review in a while, so how about one of those?
Shark Fin Inn (not to be confused with the popular yum cha place Shark Fin House even if they are owned by the same company) is a place introduced to us by Alf and I have to say that they serve pretty good Chinese food. Therefore my sister and I took our parents and little sister there last week and being unadventurous and kinda hungry, we ordered our usual favourites.
Starting off with the veggies, we ordered the Spinach with Dried Scallops 瑶柱菠菜.
It's my favourite vegetable dish - I love the saucy spinach that manages to maintain the right amount of crunch along with the chewy bits of dried scallop...mmm! Yummy indeed. It might be a little salty to some on its own (i.e. my dad) but eating it with a mouthful of rice makes it a delightful mouthful. The dried scallops added a very nice taste to the vegetables in general, perfect compliment!
Little sis is a huge fan of deer meat, so we ordered the Venison Stir Fry with Spring Onion and Ginger 姜葱鹿肉.
The venison slices were just sliced the right amount of thickness and it's very satisfying to the chew and bite. My only complaint that it was just a little lacking of the gingery taste but the spring onion was a good enough complement to the dish, and the venison retains a little of its gamey-ness. More ginger taste would be great but the dish is still pretty good.
Our personal favourite and house favourite, Fried Tofu 琵琶豆腐. FYI, this dish is not available with the English menu (many items are not in the English menu could be found in the Chinese menu) - and 'Fried Tofu' is really not the most correct way to describe this wonderful dish.
Basically it was bean curd pieces mashed with a little bit of meat (I think, I can't be sure), spring onion, bits and pieces of spices (including mushrooms I think), and then rolled in a very thin layer of flour to be deep-fried. The outcome is a beautiful piece of tofu that was just thinly crunchy to the bite and full of creamy tofu goodness on the inside. It was also wonderfully fragrant and it just tastes really really good. Alf introduced this dish to us and I have had this dish for the past 3-4 times I've been back there.
Just tell them "Pei Pa Tao Fu" (Canto) if you want to order because I really have no friggin' idea of the English name.
Dad is a big big fish person so he spared no expense in ordering a fresh, swimming fish to be steamed in a light soya sauce. I was told that this was a "三刀鱼" (literal translation: Three Knife Fish and I am 101% sure that is NOT the English name) and I have no idea of its English name. The waiter had no idea either. :D I had to zoom in on the fish from my other end of the table so pictures were not that great, sorry.
The fish was quite enormous - close to 4 pounds I think, and steamed to perfection. The fish meat was tangy and chewy and just so fresh to the taste. The accompanying soy sauce was light and nothing fancy and went wonderfully with the simplicity yummy-ness of the steamed fish. However this dish was a whopper in price, I think it would be close to AUD$100. x.x
I forgot how much was each individual dish but the total meal costs us AUD168 ++ and that was just four dishes. I don't think the venison, spinach and tofu would cost more than AUD$20 on their own, even if giving the venison an extra 5 bux to AUD$25.
Quite a costly Chinese restaurant I supposed, but I've never been disappointed with their dishes. The dishes I've tried so far were all in the range of good to excellent, with a lot of dishes in the upper half. Another favourite was the fried chicken and being the dummy I am, I've already forgotten the exact name to it, and also the crunchy prawns.
Next time I go back there, I'll photograph the pages of menu so I can refer to it for my favourite dishes. :D
Shark Fin Inn City
50-52 Little Bourke Street
Phone: (03) 9662 2681
Sunday, 19 August 2007
Anyway! The girls went to Original Thai on Lygon last Monday - planned to have Korean but the restaurant we wanted to go to was closed (story of our lives, WHY). So we stumbled around Lygon Street and randomly barged into a restaurant after one of us suggested Thai. The interior of Original Thai is pretty nice, me thinks.
We were pretty hungry, so we ordered quite some stuff to munch on. First up we had the Mixed Entree ($13.90) which consisted of two Thai fishcakes, two spring rolls, two prawn rolls and two curry puffs.
Everything was pretty good but nothing exceptional or out of ordinary - except the Thai fishcakes in which me and San REALLY liked. Sis felt that it was too "herby/lemon-grassy" for her taste though, but I really like it. It was tangy and spicy and really yummy! The prawn spring rolls were actually whole prawns wrapped and fried in pastry - it tasted quite nice. :)
Everyone wanted Tom Yum, so we ordered a Prawn Tom Yum Soup ($15.90) to share.
Delish! There were a total of nine prawns - VERY generous! And lots of mushrooms and tomatoes to round of the dish. I really like it and so do the girls. The soup was spicy and sour and I think it's really good and authentic tom yum. Recommended indeed, especially nice on a cold winter's day.
I really wanted a curry, preferably green, but the girls opted for red curry as we sort of ALWAYS had green curry, so we had the Chicken Red Curry ($11.90).
Like this one as well, coconut-y enough and curry-ish enough. Plenty of chicken to go around. It's not too hot which suits me fine but Sis and San would prefer it to be hotter, definitely. Those two are like some Chili Spicy Queens or something, where else I'm the Spicy Chicken. Not literally a chicken, yeah.
For our other fish, we had the Beef Pad Prig Gang ($11.90).
Wow, this one definitely suited San! It was REALLY spicy me thinks. I do like it but I had to have lke two glasses of water to go with it. The sauce was sharp and spicy with nice basil overtones. Also I like the beans stir-fried with the fish, that was in our dose of veggies! I would have preferred the beef to be a little more tender, but nothing to really complain about.
Definitely one of the more successful Thai restaurants! And we're happy with the location too, which is a lot nearer than our favourite Thai restaurant. Hahaha. Will go back there with the other guys, some other time!
And oh, post-script, my parents are here for the week (YAY YAY) so I will be eating out quite a bit and hopefully will have a lot of posts. At the same time I am in a dilemma cos I won't have time to blog as much and I really DON'T like to backlog. HOOOW.
I'll sort this out myself.../rambly - enjoy reading the Thai restaurant post. Ignore me, really. :D AND I finished this post in 15 minutes! Yay! Although I'll admit that I cheated cos the photos were edited before then.
122 Lygon Street
Carlton South 3053
Phone: (03) 9663 0493
Friday, 17 August 2007
To start off, Mouse had ordered Mint Hot Chocolate (part of Winter Special Menu) and I had Chai Latte.
Mint Hot Chocolate, $3.50 & Chai Latte, $3.50 as well
I like my Chai Latte. Its one of the better ones tt I had recently =) According to mouse, the mint hot chocolate is a winner - unlike most mint chocolates, the mint was fresh and minty, and does not taste syurpy. The hot chocolate left a really awesome aftertaste of chocolate with a whiff of fresh mint on the tastebuds. So, she said, even if they used mint syrup, that's some high quality mint syrup hence Mouse is very happy indeed. Too bad I can't tolerate mint flavour in coffees, ice-cream and cookies, thus, I can't comprehend how tasty was that =P
Nice little flower on top of my chai. I wonder how they made that...
Yeah, our mains here! Oooo, upon Mouse's recommendation, I ordered the French Toast with bacons & sausages and Mouse had Big Breakfast.
My French Toast with bacons & sausages, $10.90
This breakky came with a bottle of maple syrup where u can pour AS MUCH SYRUP AS U LIKE on the french toast =D OOOoooOOOO I enjoyed this breakky man. Bacons...Eggs... sweet Maple Syrups...!! HAHA. I can't resist those as the bacons are crisp on the egde and the toasts are just scrumptious, esp with some maple syrup on them. Gosh, its almost sinful to have this as breakky as one can only c the combo as greasy, unhealthy, high-blood pressure, fat, too sweet, diabetes, calouries, cholesterol... etc! =D But I can't help myself. LOL. One thing was that the bread was a bit too thick and some of the bacons were burnt (I know some ppl really like those burnt parts but not me =) ). Other than tt, oooooooooo I like!
In brief, both of us just really contented with the food we had. The portion were rather big and we could not finish them (mainly the breads and other bits n pieces). Mouse said that the last time she went, the bread was thinner and hence v crispy and make the portion just nice. B4 I end this, just wanna say that sometimes I wonder yy oily,meaty,crispy food are not healthy. sigh. In regardless, I will definitely go back =)
issus Cafe Bar
8-10 Centre Place
Melbourne 3000 VIC
Phone: (03) 96638844
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
First off, the obligatory appetizer picture! Sorry, a bit senget (crooked) but the best one out of ye olde camera.
Me, Sis and San ordered two dishes to share since we weren't very hungry. We had the Seafood Soft Tofu Jigae ($16.50) and Beef Bulgogi ($15.90).
Love the beef bulgogi - in fact all bugolgi are my favourite in the Korean cuisine. The seafood jigae was spicy and rich and the tofu yummy, but sadly? There was hardly any seafood save for a few teeny prawns and bits of squid. A bit disappointed - have never really tried this before so I don't know are they usually this kiamsiap (stingy) with their seafood or we just got unlucky.
CC and Turtle ordered a Seafood Jeon ($9.50) to share - one of our favourites, a kind of seafood/spring onion pancake that is really yummy. I would've had it if I wasn't sort of full to begin with.
For her main, CC ordered Den Jang Jigae ($13.50), which was also some seafood thing, I think.
Nope, not much seafood for hers either! My conclusion was that they were running out of seafood at 930PM at night. Oh well. That had better be the reason for our meagre seafood anyway.
Turtle had the Stone Bowl (Beef) Bibimbop ($15.90).
He finished everything.
Mad had the same thing as Turtle, but in chicken - Stone Bowl Chicken Bibimbop ($15.90).
The bibimbop sauce came separately so you can choose how spicy you want your dish. And no, I have no idea what bibimbop really means - rice in bowl with meat and eggs?! (Okay, that was just lame)
Worth checking out, this place - but I would recommend you start off with the lunch menu, unless you're prepared to splurge for dinner. :) The Korean Barbecue actually looked REALLY good.
P.S. - Picture credits to my dear sister MM - who took almost all the pictures here. :)
254 Latrobe Street
Phone: (03) 9654 9930
When u r at HJ, just say that u want a " 2-4-1 XXX burger" and you will have the 2nd burger for free. How good is that ? =D The story is that HJ ran a promotion a few years back and forgot to put an expiry date to the deal. Btw, there is no need for a voucher in order for this deal to be accepted. It was said that instead of making public announcement about the mistake (of not having an expiry date), HJ decided to just let the promotion run. The condition of the promotion is that it doesn't work in food courts or shopping centres but works at other Melbourne stores. Also, apparently it doesnt work with cheeseburgers but works with other burgers like whopper, double whopper, bacon deluxe, grilled chicken, aussie burger, whopper with cheese and baguettes.
A few places that was confirmed are:
Southern Cross station, RMIT, Swanston st, Russel st/Burke st, Chapel st/malvern rd, Hoddle st, Nepean hwy, Camberwell, Bulleen plaza, Kings way, Elgar rd/Burwood hwy, Whitehorse rd
I have also went to Zgeek's website to read some comments on this HJ's deal topic and have came across a few people that went to try this deal and it really worked for them.
Another thing that I came across from the forum is that you can walk into Mcdonald and tell them you haven't eaten for 3 days and they will give you a free cheeseburger without a question. It is said that this is their policy. I did not know about this b4 but I think its good to give back to the society esp to help the homeless and those really in need.
Back to HJ's deal. For those that wanna giv the deal a try, hope it works on you and enjoy the free burger =)
EDIT: Due to curiousity (with the hope tt I wont b embarrassed =P) , I went to HJ with skepticism, the one opposite RMIT, today to try out the deal and guess wat....? IT WORKED and I came home with 2 grilled chicken burgers for the price of 1 =) All I said was: Hi, can I have a "2-4-1" grilled chicken burger? and the staff,without saying anything, just shouted to the kitchen and said "2 grilled chicken burgers"! HeHe.
It also worked with the one at Bourke St. and i found out that for some burgers like whopper and double whoppers, u will need to add a bit more $$. eg to get a "2-4-1" whopper, u need to add 40 cents more while for double whoppers u need to add an extra of $1.55. but, still worth it I think.
Monday, 13 August 2007
The Camels Hump is a very very VERY nice cafe/dessert/coffee place that just opened up about three months ago. We found the place with the recommendation of Sis's friends, and trooped down there last Friday for coffee and cakes when Sis had craving. Sis is having cravings like every second of every minute of every hour of every day, I'm beginning to think maybe she's pregnant (no, just kidding).
The first thing we immediately liked was the decor of the place! Camel Hump is decorated very very nicely indeed - with pretty rattan chairs, soft couches, tables with nice tableclothes and discreet camel-themed stuff here and there. Each table was an individual booth, so there's privacy for each party. We took pictures, but didn't come out really well as it was pretty dark in there.
We were served with cute and very delicious white/milk/dark chocolate covered coffee beans/raisins upon arrival.
Sis had an Ice Chocolate ($7.00). Me and San shared a pot of Costa Rica ($8.00) coffee, which was supposedly a very special exotic blend.
Sis thought her drink was good enough but nothing stellar. It wasn't diluted, there's enough taste and it's a NICE ice chocolate but not spectacular. As for our coffee, I really love the aroma of it - it was beautifully aromatic and fresh. Unfortunately, I think there wasn't enough oomph to it, as I think it wasn't thick enough. There wasn't enough COFFEE in the whole thing, but it was a very good blend indeed. San likes her coffee weaker, so she thought it was really nice and fragrant, but yes, I'm anal and griping about the COFFEE-ness of it.
Ordered two cakes to share, first up, Chocolate Wedge ($5.50) - with the description of it being a rich, dark flourless chocolate cake with a hint of cognac, and it's served with your choice of ice-cream or cream. By the way, we ordered the slim slice, a bigger slice is available for $7.00.
WOW. I really love it, and the girls agreed with me. The chocolate was thick and full and loaded without being overloaded. The texture was rich and gorgeous and each bite just literally melted in my mouth. Even more so with the vanilla ice-cream! Yummy indeed.
Baked Cheesecake ($5.50) was our second choice - baked lemon cheesecake powdered in icing sugar.
I'm a huge fan of cheesecakes and am rather picky about them - and this cheesecake gets an A+ from me. It's so delightfully cheesy yet light at the same time, with gentle lemon overtones and great fluffy, cheesy texture. Definitely a great cheesecake!
I apologise for the less than stellar pics - it was quite hard as it was dark and I didn't fancy flash pictures. We sat there chatting and playing cards till late - it really was a superb environment for a quiet girls' night out. And the service was really nice too, the people there were friendly, polite and attentive. I really like it there, so do the girls, and we'll definitely be there soon.
In fact, I really do recommend this place for a nice, quiet night out, especially if you're looking to catch up with a long chat. Great place for it.
EDIT: Camels Hump only opens on Thursday to Sunday, from 8pm till late.
The Camels Hump
531 Nicholson Street
North Carlton 3054
Phone: (03) 9348 0979
Saturday, 11 August 2007
Went to Freddo last weekend, around 5pm, when it had just reopened after closing for a period of time. We all have been missing it, esp MM and JK who have been talking and talking about going to Freddo! Thus here we are =D Altho we were all still quite full due to a late lunch at Nasi Lemak House, obviousy we not gonna let that stop us! lol.
Still remember when Freddo just opened in 2002, it only has a few choices. But now it offers so many different flavours that your brain sometimes just dunno which one should u pick =)
Yea, the durian ice-cream is v popular! and the staff said they have another big tub to replace it =)
After we had satisfied our ice-cream cravings, it just feel so good (despite the durian was a bit dissapointing)! and oOOoo.... MM and I had also each taken away a small tub of ice-cream. Hehe.
Il Dolce Freddo
116 Lygon Street,
Phone: (03) 9639 3344