400 Gradi, Melbourne 08-2016

When you win the best pizza in the world award, people will come and try and critique. I suppose it's difficult when you aren't the one actually cooking in the kitchen and your reputation relies on your subordinates to carry across the skill. Either way I'm sure business is fine. I've had plenty a good pizza in Melbourne, Italy, UK and USA in particular. I can't say I've eaten where the world's best is. He wasn't there during the evening I visited the mothership in Brunswick.

- Fiori di Zucca (zucchini flower stuffed with buffalo ricotta, spanner crab & chilli) $19 - very large flowers in a nice salty batter. The filling seemed to be plain ricotta without any detectable crab flavour nor chilli. It was disappointing for that;
- Margherita verace (San Marzano tomato, fior di latte, basil & EVOO) $22 - the specific world winner allowed the mildly chewy crust with some smoky flavour get cleanly sampled. The passata and cheese were ok but perhaps I prefer it a bit more seasoned. The basil added good contrast;
- Frutti di mare (San Marzano tomato, fior di latte, mussels, prawns, clams, scallops & rocket) $29 - this was a more seasoned version due to the topping of a good amount of quality seafood, exemplified most by some juicy crunchy prawns and two large soft scallops;
- Calzone with figs & mascarpone $11 - a dessert sleeper with a core of sweet rich hot fig and the cheese around the sides. I think the inside should have been mixed better but was still a good finish to the meal.

Like most gourmet pizzerias in Melbourne the quality is definitely there. It wasn't my favourite pizza place in the world but the chef that evening wasn't the winner, so I guess that wouldn't be expected either. Nonetheless the food is still worthy of pizza night out.

400 Gradi Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Molto, Canberra 07-2016

Even with the expansion of the Foreshore, I must admit there aren't that many exciting places to eat for dinner. Morks is great, the traditional Thai places are ok, the Chinese places I have never seen anyone inside, C Dine is ok but expensive and then there are the pubs. Meat & Wine is yet to open and will be a big event. Up until that point, there's Molto. I didn't know anything about it but it was the only place at 9pm on a Thursday night that was open and serving and looked like a good feed.

I'd heard the bistecca Fiorentina is a specialty (although I found it in Florence to be huge but not that impressive), but maybe next time if I'm with a bunch of carnivores.

- Millefoglie (eggplant & buffalo mozzarella with basil oil & salted ricotta) $17 - an excellent stack of grilled vegetables that reminded me of how good Remy's ratatouille must have been;
- Special of Spaghetti (cooked in a cheese and butter sauce, topped with a quail egg and slices of black truffle) - it reminds me of tajarin al tartufo blanco I had in Alba (http://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/osteria-dei-sognatori-alba-11-2012), albeit with cheese and a different truffle. The truffle had a mild but distinct flavour, better than my previous year's experience of the local Canberra black truffle. The cheese and butter sauce was thick and congealed on the plate quickly. It didn't look so appetising at that point but still tasted good;
- Special of Suckling Lamb (with slaw & apple sauce) - this was a beautiful piece of meat that simply tasted like quality lamb. What was more impressive was the crisp thin coating of skin that crackled around my teeth and was rich with flavour. Delicious.

The food is good, the setting is nice and the staff on this evening were very friendly. Not a bad addition to the Foreshore.

Molto Italian Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Local Press, Canberra 07-2016

I had to take advantage of a short visit to Canberra to visit my old favourite cafe (http://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/local-press-canberra-12-2015). It's a close call between Local Press and Cupping Room, but the convenient location of Local Press during the daytime makes it easier. The foreshore has opened up a whole new section but I doubt anywhere will be challenging for the brunch mantle in the area soon.

I wonder if the management has changed - I don't recognise any of the staff there currently. And the usual staple of the Green Breaky Plate no longer exists. Maybe just a sign of progression. What hasn't changed is the beautiful colours and presentation, not only of the food but the loosely nautical themed decor.

- LP's Fried Rice (with black & brown rice, brussel sprouts, cavolo nero, purple potato, avo, egg, cashew cream & pumpkin seeds) $22 - if Vegie Bar created a modern fried rice that had no ties to Asia, then this could be it. Although they probably wouldn't do it as well (and wouldn't charge as much). Overall it was a nice savoury flavour with firm rice and a multitude of textures and flavours, not the least some charred brussel sprouts;
- Wild Mushrooms (sauteed in garlic, thyme & sage oil with fried chestnuts, Meredith Chevre, seasonal greens & a poached egg on artisan sourdough) $19 - I happened to order this with kale & almonds (paying homage to the kale in the Green Breaky Plate for an extra $3.5 although they definitely forgot the almonds) and they also gave me feta (extra $2) which I didn't order. The feta in particular wasn't needed as the chevre smeared on the sourdough added a lovely rich tangy flavour, soaking in the oil and mushroom juices. The kale was also very nice and do think without it the dish would have been a bit plain. I'm not sure I found any fried chestnuts either...

The flavours and presentation are still great although there were a few possible mishaps in my mushroom dish. Nonetheless it is still an (expensive &) excellent place for breakfast topped off by soy chai in a large teapot with sweater or a vibrant mango & carrot smoothie.

Local Press Cafe Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Little Advi, Melbourne 08-2016

Advieh has been on my mind recently, firstly because I keep reading the ingredient in some of my cookbooks (mainly The Jewelled Kitchen) and also a highly rated Middle Eastern venture in Seddon. I was surprised pleasantly to find a little offshoot a little way down the road in the next suburb of Yarraville. I haven't (yet) been to Advieh, but after this testing of Little Advi, I can't wait to.

The concept is similar to Kastner & Ovens in Spitalfields or my visit to the original Ottolenghi, in that there's a bunch of delicious salads to pick from and you can also choose a main to complement it. Of course there's some full meal options to keep things more standard. The soy chai pot had a solid 4 serves in it ($6.5) with some nice spice and cardamom aftertaste and not too sweet.

- Homemade baked beans (with cumin & coriander, sprinkle of dukka & finished with a dollop of Tzatziki & sourdough) $13.5 - a wonderful warm and savoury set of beans lifted by the tzatziki, fresh coriander and dill. One of the best renditions of breakfast beans I've had anywhere;
- Falafel Plate (with 3 salads & hummous) $16.5 - warm slightly crisp (could have been more so) falafels with a grainy palpable texture, the best hummous I've had with a deep, savoury and exceptional flavour, a delicious barley salad (very similar to Hellenic Republic's), tabbouleh (using whole parsley leaves rather than chopped and well balanced) and a chickpea salad with eggplant (and a bit too much cumin I think).

I wanted the Moroccan meatballs initially but they were sold out. I'm not sad though as the falafel plate exceeded my expectations. The food was very good. I'll certainly be back (or to try Advieh first).

Little Advi Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Jack B. Nimble, Melbourne 08-2016

Ready to compete with the local cafe sprouts in Footscray, Seddon and Yarraville, Maidstone seems to finally have arrived. Not that there aren't ones already there, but a friend who lives there tells me that up until now there weren't any good ones. JBN seems to have been a welcome arrival and after my first visit, I tend to agree and can now have an option up north of Footscray rather than always south (or east to North Melbourne).

A warming matcha latte (with soy for me) was a nice slightly thicker and sweet version with the green tea flavour unmistakable. It was well balanced and didn't need any additional sugar. They advertise a chai from leaves and spices which I'll have to test next time.

- Omelette (with smoked king prawns, leeks, spiced tomato broth, lemongrass & prawn oil, chilli, lime, Vietnamese mint & crispy tofu puffs) $19 - wet egg folded over and housing some creamy and delicious prawn chunks and surrounded by an unexpectedly nice and savoury tomato soup to soak into the bread. From the salad there was an occasional hit of mint that I could have used more of;
- Roasted Cauliflower (with chickpeas, hommus, kale, sumac-spiced yoghurt, tamarind, cucumber, fresh coriander, pomegranate & crispy quinoa) $16 - a healthy dream of ingredients headed by warmly spiced cauliflower with unexpected crunchy (fried?) chickpeas.

The food and flavours were very good and the other menu options of black pudding and cotechino (whatever that is...) mean I'll definitely be back.

Jack B Nimble Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Nora, Melbourne 07-2016

I hadn't heard of Nora until a friend linked their Facebook post being humbled to be listed as one of the best Melbourne restaurants by Timeout (https://www.timeout.com/melbourne/restaurants/the-best-restaurants-in-melbourne). To keep company with Attica, Brae and Dinner is a remarkable achievable. I read their story about Thai origins and their online menu which gives away absolutely nothing and so immediately made a booking for a few weeks later.

It's a cosy little place and the full glass windows meant I walked straight past it initially trying to look for it. Inside is reasonably heated for winter and there's the choice of private tables, the voyeuristic counter and a communal table where couples avoid looking at the other couples.

The menu is set and only differed to cater for food intolerances. What is interesting is that when each dish is serve, there is no effort to explain what it is. I'm not sure if that's intentional to make our palates discover for ourselves or just an error from the wait staff, but it's certainly different considering each dish's name is cryptic.

Luckily the wait staff are happy to answer questions when asked at the end of each dish and a menu is even emailed afterwards for sentimentality and reminiscing.

what goes up must come down
- a seafood flavoured little snack with great savoury flavour. I could eat these by the handful. Reminded me of either the Chinese prawn chips or the flavour of the grilled dried squid;

beneath the ground
sardine - dirt, root, coriander root, tasty powder
- under the green revealed the fossils of a sardine with bones crisp and chewy. The dirt was a remarkably flavoursome salted chewy bit that was wonderful. I could sprinkle that onto any dish;

tagliatelle of oyster not oyster
chicken heart - onion, shallot
sadao, pomelo, sweet fish sauce
- beautifully sat above non-edible oyster shells was a little non-oyster cupped in a crisp mini non-oyster shell. Simple chewy and nice;

silver lining
silver fish - blue mackerel broth, young coconut, lovage
- a lovely fish ceviche minced and housed within a leaf, followed by a fish broth that I thought lacked impact. Maybe I'm used to the much stronger Thai soups (tom yum/tom kha);

too many italians & only one asian
papaya - sator, cashew, fermented garlic, school prawn
- green papaya salad meets pesto. Interesting to see a new way of Vegeti-style-pasta concepts;

daft punk is playing in my mouth
blue mackerel - chewy watermelon
capsicum annuum, black sesame
- I'm not really sure where the Daft Punk reference comes from (I was going through a mental list of their songs trying to figure it out). Perhaps it is Around the World because the flavours and textures vary from a firm fish sashimi, a tangy watermelon, a chilli sour granita and a strong black sesame past;

childhood bread
freshly milled toasted red rice bread sourdough style
fermented shrimp butter
- how can the simplest homely bread be so good? A warm smoky mist exudes from the claypot and the delectable and unique bread lies within. There's a firm (not crisp) crust and soft medium density interior on which to spread the butter (some thought it was blue cheese spread at the time);

duck and hide
aged air dried roast duck on the bone
fermented lady finger banana & purple kauliflr
- my duck looked quite unimpressive. Others received a piece of much thicker meat. I think this inconsistency is a little rude. Luckily the duck has a crisp skin and nice warm flavour. The banana is very sweet (thought it might be a plantain) but the rice seemed a bit too firm and slightly undercooked;

crying tiger
fermented glutinous rice, red ant eggs
sawtooth coriander, olive oil
- this palate cleanser was odd. There was a shaved ice texture, a gummy half-al-dente rice texture and tasted tart (as cleansers should) but not in a clean way;

12am in the fridge
pumpkin - egg, shrimp, mushroom
- very mixed reactions to this strange slice of firm slightly sweet, slightly savoury pumpkin. Perhaps a more standard fruit with its natural sweetness would complement better?

thai cupcake wanting to become western
king edward potato - chive
- a baked potato disassembled and reassembled to look like a baked potato. The inside of a soft mash potato and chive (couldn't taste the chive) is housed in a delicious crisp potato skin;

the study of perspective
tripe - coconut, kaffir lime
- petit four of ox tripe sweetened and crispened to sweep up the coconut yoghurt dusted with lime (I hoped initially it might be green tea powder).

The food concept is interesting and they've done well to design unusual dishes. I think the experience was good but overall the flavours weren't what I was looking for, and fixed signature menu mean that I don't think I'll come back again (at least not for a while until the menu changes). Perhaps I have a certain concept of bold Thai/SE Asian flavours associated with the cuisine and that I thought these may be parcelled in prettier, skilful and more refined ways. Nora certainly has the pretty, the skill and refinement but not my desired flavour palate (other than that seafood snack and mackerel skeleton).

In any case it's worth trying for yourself especially if you like neo gastronomy.

The wall around the toilet door is a design board of food. I'm not sure the significance of it but I assume it is as cryptic as the menu. I washed my meal down with an elixir of housemade chrysanthenum, lemongrass, corella pear, seaweed. It was an odd tasting drink with all the flavours discernible but not necessary a harmony to me. Perhaps the seaweed added a bit too much salt to a drink I hoped was more sweet. The one with tamarind, star anise and coriander may be more my liking next time.

Nora Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Ovan's, Melbourne 07-2016

I'm pretty sure Ovan's is quite new. I don't know how but it just appeared one day with a distinctively more modern design than the rest of the Vietnamese restaurants in Footscray. The inside partially reminds me of the reputation of Hoi An - designed to look authentic but really just a front for tourists. Ovan's does however seem to be quite authentic inside - the patrons I saw were Vietnamese, the staff are Vietnamese (and may not speak much English), and there was another review claiming issues of hygiene (which I only just saw). How authentic to Asia can you get...

In any case at about 845pm on a Monday, they were still open and willing to serve even though they probably close around 9pm. I like how the menu on the wall is only in Vietnamese. I like how the waitress commended me on my pronunciation of bun thit nuong. It's these little things...

The waitress heard me being indecisive and suggested that day's special of bun bo hue and the xoi. I wasn't in the mood for rice and she thought the bun thit nuong was better than the bun cha.

- Bun bo hue $11 - a nice clean and flavoursome broth with a bit of spice but could have used more. The noodles were thin soft circular ones and not the thicker more chewy hole in the middle that are typical;
- Bun thit nuong $12 - interestingly the nuoc mam sauce was much more savoury than the tangy version I'm used to everywhere else. Perhaps they are Northern and it is different there? The pork was intensely flavoured and absolutely delicious. I would have liked more herbs to really diversify the flavour;
- Che Thai $6 - a nice dessert with durian (on top, which I don't like) and bits of jackfruit, palm seeds, jelly and coconut milk. Next time I'd ask for it without the durian.

I thought the food was overall very good and definitely not inferior to the other places around. I'm very keen to try the Xoi next time.

Ovans Authentic Vietnamese Street Food Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Rudimentary, Melbourne 07-2016

How lucky is it in this current economic and Melbourne property climate is it to have this large a block of land in the middle of hip and happening Footscray? The shipping container thing isn't new to me (ie. Shoreditch) but it's good to see it in Melbourne and doing well. The space of Rudimentary is possibly the finest feature with indoor and outdoor seating, in addition to a vast amount of clean space to sprawl in the sun and tie up the pets/kids.

The soy chai was mildly spiced and slightly weak but at least wasn't overburdened by cinnamon/honey/sugar. It isn't a bad one at all.

Unfortunately on this late lunch day, the most interesting Braised Beans and Poached Kingfish were sold out. The white pudding intrigued me also to see how it compares to one of my favourite breakfast items in black pudding so will have to leave that for next time (with eggs and potato hash).

- Barley porridge (with grilled octopus, pickled vegetables, soft egg, rice crisp) $18 - a savoury dish with Asian elements of octopus, pickled ginger, nori and enoki. It was overall quite nice;
- Pork fillet (smoked kipfler potato, apple puree, braised lentils, jus) $22 - the pork is cooked beautifully with a soft slightly pink core and good seasoning. The smoke is easily discerned in the potatoes and the rest fill the dish.

The cooking is skilful, dishes creative and quite tasty - although I'm not sure I liked them enough to specifically go back for them again. I did think the serves are a little small for the prices too.

Next time I would order Braised Beans with chorizo crumb or otherwise Poached free range eggs with white pudding & mushrooms or potato hash (that would be quite an expensive egg dish in Melbourne at $19 with no vegetables).

Rudimentary Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

I Love Dumplings, Melbourne 07-2016

It's been a long while since I've wandered along Racecourse Road in search of lunch. I've driven a few times and thought I Love Dumplings had closed down this branch (http://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/i-love-dumplings-melbourne-01-2014). In fact I was correct - that branch did close down and a new one sprung up bigger than before such that I didn't realise. The big writing in red should've redirected me but I suppose I wasn't looking in the same place.

Using my last entry as a guide, I didn't have a lot of difficulty in choosing dishes. Fried meat dumplings, lamb ribs and whatever else.

- Wonton noodle soup $9.8 - a typical mild flavoured clear broth with thin egg noodles and soft wontons;
- Pan fried lamb & beef dumplings $9.8 + Sichuan chilli sauce $1 - an excellent dumpling with chewy skin (base could have been that bit more fried and crisp), a deep soft mince meaty core and an outstanding savoury sauce with a bit of tang (black vinegar?) and not enough chilli. I wonder if the sauce has chicken/pork broth added to it?;
- Deepfried lamb ribs with homemade chilli sauce & cumin $24 - the serves seem to be smaller than they used to (my previous picture has at least 2-3 more ribs) and they now serve the cumin salt and cold tangy chilli sauce separately. Still delicious with delectable meat and crisp skin.

On the lunch menu they also offer a quickie of rice & lamb ribs for $10. I wonder how many ribs you'd get for that price and if it is better value for money?

Next time I would order the lamb ribs and more pan fried dumplings to eat with the Sichuan chilli sauce. I suppose for variety the mapo tofu and other Sichuan things may be worth a try.

I Love Dumplings Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Longrain, Melbourne 06-2016

It's been a long time since I was united with Longrain. There's nothing quite like the special birthday reminder to give me any excuse to revisit the beautiful drinks, the atmosphere and the pork hock. There are some visits where I feel the shared tables are too wide to comfortably have a conversation across it, but on this weekday late night, private tables were available.

Since my last Longrain post (http://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/longrain-melbourne-10-2012), I have been once for the pork hock but have also tried many modern Thai contenders, of which the most recent have been in Canberra (http://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/morks-restaurant-canberra-12-2015) and Melbourne (http://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/chin-chin-melbourne-05-2016).

- Caramelised pork hock with five spice & chilli vinegar $23.5 (entree) - as good as I remember. Outstanding mixed textures of meat, sweet thick coating and a little sprinkle of vinegar for contrast and added chilli hit;
- Jaew curry of snapper fillet with baby corn & betel leaf $36 - a much more thin liquid soup base than what I expected as a thicker curry. Nice fish, ingredients and a lighter flavour;
- Braised beef cheek, black vinegar, ginger, Chinese celery (special) - tender beef cheeks in a tangy black vinegar sauce.

The pork hock was still the best dish and flavour. I think partially as my cooking skills have improved, I realise I could possibly make the other two dishes with less difficulty (not to detract anything from the outstanding kitchen). I'd prefer the thicker curries and heavier flavours, as that has always been my association and affinity to Longrain.

Next time I would order the Pork Hock again (perhaps the large size and take the leftovers home). Of the current menu I'd add the Coconut-poached Chicken and Mussaman lamb curry or Red Curry Scotch Fillet (not that interested in scotch but I am in red curry), although I agree it's a heavy meat selection (albeit 4 different meats).

Longrain Melbourne Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato