Friday, 30 September 2016

Rice Workshop Knox

When I lived in Japan it was a tradition for the gaijin (me and the American teacher I worked with) to go to Yoshinoya once a week for a beef bowl - shaved beef and onion, cooked with some kind of broth and served with rice and sometimes other stuff like veggies if you were feeling splurgey. It had a very distinct taste, sweet and salty at the same time, and the beef was always very long and thin and soft. I missed it when I left.

When I saw that Rice Workshop had opened at Westfield Knox AND they were offering entry into a draw for a trip for two to Japan I was like OH YES I'LL BE IN ON THAT. At the time I could eat a little, but still no rice, so I ordered the beef bowl with extra veggies and a poached egg (why not pack a bit more protein into it?). They really meant it when they said extra veggies to make up for it! It was like a dense foliage of greens with a generous scoop of beef and a runny egg on top. Authentic and yum!

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CHECK OUT THAT RUNNINESS

I couldn't eat heaps of it at the time, but it made three decent meals for me over two days - plus the Khocolateman tried some and decided it was pretty good. I went back and got the tonkatsu with Japanese curry for him the next time I was there, which he unfortunately devoured before I got to take a photo of it but he seemed to think it was pretty good (and for a guy who MAKES CURRY IN A BIG WAY this is BIG PRAISE). I got that in a combo with their takoyaki (picture perfect, a little tough on the outside... but oh, those tasty little octopus balls!).

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See? Picture perfect in glossy hi-def detail

I think I have a new favourite in the food court!

Rice Workshop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Foreigner, Ivanhoe

While where I live is very much the eastern suburbs, I have friends scattered across the city and when it's time to catch up I much prefer to go to them rather than having them come to me (unless they live close by in which case all bets are off and we go to Knox!).

One of these fabulous amazing friends is a teacher buddy from old school who suggested we meet at The Foreigner in Ivanhoe for a coffee over the holidays. What a lovely space! AND IT HAD PARKING OUT THE FRONT! The staff were laid back and entertaining (there was an impromptu dance going on at one point which was very engaging) as well as really knowing their stuff about the menu items.

Being as it is I couldn't eat, I ordered a chai latte. Imagine my surprise when they asked 'Leaf or powder?' I pounced on that - a rarity - and was presented with a lovely pot of PROPER chai latte. The flavour was distinct but not overpowering and the milk not too frothy and not too boiled but just right. It was the Goldilocks of chai tea latte.

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Mmmm proper chai for the first time in forever!

My teacher buddy had a coffee but also ordered the ricotta and honey pancakes with a side of bacon. They came out with a generous scoop of ice cream, a fairy floss garnish and a sprinkling of crushed pistachios - a beautifully presented plate full of colour and different textures. I am assured it was just as tasty as it was pretty - and it was very, very pretty.

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FLOOFY

If I was closer to the area I think this would become my regular haunt. As it is, I can guarantee I'll be back during the term at least once - it's too good not to have a repeat visit!

The Foreigner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 26 September 2016

Badda-Bing Boy!

This post was a long time coming! A while back I visited Bing Boy at Wantirna as I'd heard lots of different things (both good and bad) about their omuwraps (omelette wrapped around fillings) from different people, and I wanted to try it for myself before passing judgement. I ordered a prawn wrap with extra meat (who wouldn't ask for extra meat if given the opportunity?? except maybe vegetarians...).

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CHECK OUT ALL THE FILLINGS
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MOAR FILLINGS

I didn't mind it! The prawns were juicy and tender, the omuwrap was warm and not too dry, and the sauce was simultaneously sweet and salty - a good combination with the multitude of different sliced, diced and rolled veggies they packed into the wrap. The price was reasonable for the large-ish serving, and the staff were quick, polite and well-presented. I don't necessarily think I'd go out of my way to do it every day but it certainly wouldn't be my last choice of place at Knox either. I'll be watching out for them wherever else I end up too!

Bing Boy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 25 September 2016

A Match (& Co) made in heaven..!

Earlier this year I was a bit despondent as I couldn't find somewhere to get my chai from in the morning that rivalled any of the joints I'd enjoyed while I was working in Mitcham. Mona's Bakehouse was okay, but their specialty is baked stuff - their chai was okay but not something I'd go out of my way for.

Imagine my happy when I noticed Match & Co had opened their doors.

Chai contains enough sugar and milk to get me going for the day, and it tastes awesome into the bargain. It's hard to find good chai - and while Match & Co use powder it's pretty good - definitely not a generic one, not too sweet but not weak either. It's a very reasonable $4.50 for a medium one. I've picked up coffee for my co-teacher as well - she likes a skinny cap with sugar - and I am assured their coffee is amazing too.

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Oooh, pretty!

Their displays are always picture perfect - croissants, petit fours, biscuits, slices... sniffle - they look so good! While I can't enjoy their sweets, I've bought one of the chef's fresh breakfast muffins and eaten the middle out of it. There's something I can't quite put my finger on - I think it's that they use some kind of special sauce on it that adds a real zing to the bacon, egg and cheese.

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Mmm, proteinfull muffin innards

The only down side to their amazing operation is that they don't open on Monday and I REALLY NEED A CHAI BEFORE SCHOOL ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK. Still, you can't blame them - they need a break after being busy over the weekend! If you're in Dingley Village, this is THE place to hit up for your hot drink and brunchy stuff fix.

Match & Co  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gold Leaf

We visited Gold Leaf in Burwood for Yum Cha a while back (pre-surgery for both the Khocolateman and I... so a really long time ago!) with two of our friends (the owners of two of Dalek's best doggy friends, Toebes and Theo). I'd been there once before for an end of year function and I liked the food then, but their yum cha put that to shame!

My favourite yum cha dish is always the chicken feet. They get done a couple of different ways for yum cha at different restaurants - at Gold Leaf it was savoury (though it didn't taste like a black bean sauce as you usually get though) and they were very sticky, but not so much so that the texture of the meat was lost. Yum. The Khocolateman REALLY likes the steamed BBQ pork buns and went through several plates, much to the amusement of all watching, and reported that they were satisfying and adequate. Nothing to be given Michelin stars over, but certainly very edible.

NOW USUALLY if we go out together we steer clear of seafood as the Khocolateman has a nasty allergy and we like him alive and kicking. On this day, though, the seafood lovers outnumbered him three to one - so dumplings with scallops, and dumplings with prawns, and tofu thingies (sorry I don't know the actual name... I will pay more attention next time) with more scallops were the order of the day. There were a lot of them.

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ALL OF THE SEAFOOD THINGS

All up, a very satisfying meal for a very reasonable price. It does get very busy so I do recommend booking ahead, especially on weekends.

Gold Leaf Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 19 September 2016

Kumamoto

I hit up Kumamoto before work on a Saturday. I was in a hurry, I didn't want to cruise the food court at Knox looking for something else that may or may not exist - something high in protein, small enough to fit into my stomach and easy to eat on the way to work - and the Khocolateman had found something yummy there the previous week.

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Yakitori skewer... sticky goodness

Yakitori skewers are a Japanese food. They're pretty basic - chicken and onion basted with a thick, sticky marinade and grilled until they're cooked through. Usually, they're soft and squishy, sweet and salty, a post-beer snack or izakaya/Japanese pub food or something you grab from a street stall before jumping on the train to commute home.

This one didn't exactly disappoint - the flavour was good, and at $3 per chunky skewer it hit the mark for value. The chunkiness told a story of the lean chicken pieces making a protein-packed snack. The texture was a little dry but overall, not bad - especially for food court food! I'll be hitting them up again for another skewer soon.

Kumamoto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pappa Rich - the father of fish soup!

I caught up with the lovely Bu Glenda for an impromptu dinner of Malaysian hawker food at Pappa Rich in Ozone at Knox a little while back. Most of the menu is off-limits to me now - no rice, no noodles, no bread - so I gravitated towards soup. At the time, I wasn't able to get much solid food down so when I saw a soup that had silken tofu in it the 'DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER' lights and sirens went off in my head, and I knew what I was getting.

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Fishy! Why are you so yummy?

This enormous bowl of fish fillet soup (minus the noodles) landed on the table. It was a clear broth that I was worried on sight might be too oniony - but I was pleasantly surprised, as it was salty and fishy (funny that). The fillets were crispy but sogged up the soup after a bit, and the tofu was almost infused by the broth by the time I got it. The veggies in the broth were fresh and provided a point of contrast in the taste and texture of the other elements.

I liked Pappa Rich before, but now I like them even more. They're happy to change some of their menu items so they're sleeve-friendly (remove the noodles from the soup, for example) and are prepared with copious varieties of take-away containers so the leftovers can be accommodated. To top it off, they're very inexpensive and if you choose right from their ENORMOUS menu their food can be healthy and high in protein.

PappaRich Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 5 September 2016

Happy hotpot to you...!

We celebrated my brother in law's seventeenth birthday not that long ago, and for something different Akki suggested we try a place in Abbotsford that I hadn't heard of before but boy am I glad I have now!

FOF (Full Of Food) Rotary Hotpot is like a combination of a shabushabu restaurant and a sushi train. Each place setting has a hot plate where you warm your personal soup (you can choose from four), and then you choose the meat, veggies, noodles and other yummies from the 'train' and cook to your heart's content.


Not my video - made by the eminent Youtuber Katerina Kotsakis - skip to about the two-minute mark to see how the actual hot pot train works!

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Meaty hot pot select-for-yourself goodness

The Khocolateman and I decided on the Chinese spicy hotpot. We chose a couple of 'special' items from the menu to be served with it, and once the soup was served went about adding what we felt like to it. The Khocolateman was definitely in the mood for red meat - ox tongue, strips of beef and pork, quail eggs, etc. On my other side, Malli (my brother in law) had chosen a miso soup base and was loading it with noodles and veggies.

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Oh dear Lord. It killed me.

They also had fridges of sushi and bain maries of hot food. Imagine my OMGWTFBBQ reaction when I found they had takoyaki! I wasn't quite game to try noodles or rice, but the little fried dough octopus balls absolutely made my night.

The cost of the evening came to $28.80 per adult (all you can eat! nice!), plus drinks, however I showed them my VSG card and explained I was not long out of surgery, and they agreed to charge me kids price as I'd only be picking at other people's food. They were very obliging and very sensitive and I would highly recommend them as a VSG-friendly venue.

VSG note: The Chinese spicy soup was not a good fit for me, and ended up losing quite a lot of it about half an hour in (even after going for a walk... and maybe playing a spot of Pokemon Go... trying to get my stomach to settle). The miso soup was a good fit, and a little of the broth thickened after the addition of other yumminess like meat and noodles was definitely a win. This place deserves massive kudos - even as a buffet they are VSG friendly - but I would recommend going with others as they do have a sign that says they charge for wasted food and I don't think it's the kind of thing that would take-away well.

FOF Rotary Hotpot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Republica at the St Kilda Baths

A few weeks ago we celebrated a friend's birthday at Republica, a lovely restaurant on the St Kilda foreshore. It's located in the same building complex as the St Kilda Baths, just underneath Captain Baxter.

Side note: as a result, walking from the carpark is enough to freeze your tootsies off if you are not dressed warmly for a Melbourne winter's night. Do dress warmly for that short walk in. I did not.

Once you're inside, the space is warm and inviting with a fire up one end, flat screens unobtrusively mounted in strategic positions (showing AFL instead of the Bledisloe the night we were there but really, who could blame them) and a well-appointed bar between the two ends of a sort of L-shaped dining area. As a large group, we were seated closest to the door, but it was an easy table to get into and out of, and the fire being next to us kept the area cozy and comfortable.

The Khocolateman and I decided to share the entree of fried chicken with jalapeno and lime-infused mayo/creamy dipping sauce of yumminess, and a side serving of the eggplant chips with salted ricotta. The birthday girl and I also ordered a pitcher of traditional lemonade to go with the meal.

The meals came out quickly and together (always nice when you're with a large group), only a short while after our drinks. The lemonade was the ideal palate cleanser - not too sweet, but with the bitterness of the vodka masked with an even balance of sugar and lemon. I had only a little - maybe two half glasses - but it was well worth it. The chicken deserved a clean slate, as the coating was crunchy and smokey, with some of the flavour filtering down into the tender meat below. The mayo was a good pairing - the jalapenos were really finely minced and well-mixed into the sauce. I couldn't taste the lime so much but I didn't mind - I prefer jalapeno anyway.

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Mmmmchicken

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Oh dear lord they're huge.
And excuse the shonky lighting. Not my best shots.

The eggplant chips were ENORMOUS. Delicately crumbed and fried lightly, they would make a good side to most menu items. The salted ricotta was drier than I expected, and kind of shreddy rather than crumbly like you usually get. The flavour was good though, and I have to admit to eating it separately to the chips.

While they don't split bills, Republica is sensible enough to have an ATM right next to the cash register so you can sort out bills effortlessly. What a good idea! More places should do that.

VSG note: I got in one piece of chicken, a tablespoon of mayo, and ate one chip cut into eight pieces... and lost almost all of it half an hour later as this was the beginning of my sleeve kinking on itself again and me not being able to eat solid food again. Man was it worth it in the meantime though! Highly deserving of praise and you should definitely try it as their portions are small and resonabley priced!

Republica Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 2 September 2016

Hiatus and The Bet

In the month between posts I've had a second revision to Patrice (my newly sleeved stomach) and moved house - as well as having the longest stretch of 'busy' weekends in a row that I can remember! Weddings, birthdays, family gatherings, work - it's that time of the term.

The busyness of my life gets in the way of being good to myself sometimes, and one of my favourite easy ways to unwind is to read. I have an undergraduate major in literary studies and I think books tend to sense this... and breed on my shelves when I'm not looking. Personally, I love it. Surround me with good incarnations of the written word, and I'm a happy little Vegemite.

Mind Blown

heh.

Unfortunately, the Khocolateman gets lumped with shifting boxes of these books every time we move, after I've lovingly packed them into styrofoam crates to stop their corners getting dinged or their pages torn.

This time around, this manouevering took place at ten thirty on a Sunday night, after two solid days of moving furniture and other badly packed boxes (and still no breakages... hell yeah, and touch wood!). He was tired, hot and cross. I was tired, hot and cross. Debate ensued.

HIM: Do you even need these books? Have you even read any of them in the last twelve months?
ME: Of course. I pick them up and read the bits I want to remember whenever they come into my head.
HIM: REALLY? *meaningful look*
ME: REALLY! *level stare back*
HIM: Okay. Here's the deal: you have to read fifty of these in the next twelve months, or I get to chuck the lot!
ME: *about to protest, then remembers that in 2008 I read a hundred adult fiction books in ten months and then got started on the children's fiction library at work... and reconsiders* Okaaayyyyy... and if I do it, I get to keep them?
HIM: Deal.

SO. That's how The Bet came about. How shallst I make myself accountable? First thing I did was tell my class at school. They like a challenge. A few of them have read more books than me this year (lucky them!). Now I have about five coming to tell me whenever they finish a novel. They keep track of theirs and pay me out when they're kicking my butt - HOWEVER I also feel the need for some adult accountability - so here is my first month's efforts for the benefit of my blogging family:

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Mmmm hallucinogens

Of that list, I have decided I can part with four.

The unintended consequence of The Bet is that I've realised I may have... outgrown? grown away from? some of these old friends. I may need to pass them on to others who will give them a second much-loved home. From the 27th of next month, I'll start sharing the list of books I'm going to give up, and if anyone reading this would like them, I'll cover the postage to get them to you. It'll make me feel much less guilty about saying goodbye to them.

Side note: I'm not planning on giving up the food blogging, but it is going to be a little less frequent while my stomach sorts itself out. I hope you'll forgive me and go back and feast your eyes on older posts, and look forward to having you join me at the metaphoric table again soon!