Jaidee Thai, Melbourne 12-2015 & 01-2016

One late evening just before Christmas I was wondering around Victoria Street by myself looking for dinner. I ended up being distracted by some friends coincidentally there and so by the time I tried to eat dinner it was already 9pm. I sought out Jinda Thai (it was closed for the holidays), Arisoo (closed already), Seoul Soul (about to close) and walked past a few slightly open Vietnamese and Laotian places all on the verge of shutting down. Hmmm. The options were limited. I hadn't been to Jaidee Thai before but it was still serving, small enough to be cute and not mass producing food, and seemed like I could get some peace in there.

- Som Tum Thai Bpuu (papaya salad with Thai pickled crabs) $11
- Guay-Tiew Jaidee (rice noodle in beef stock with tender beef) $8.5

The food was very nice. The beef noodle soup was a bargain for the price and although not as complex in terms of spices and herbs, a comparable alternative to the pho surrounding the area. The papaya salad was medium spice - much too hot for me and I reaffirmed my previous dislike of crabs in the salad as being crunchy bits of shell and not palatable. Next time I would get mild or no chilli at all in the dishes.

A few weeks later I found myself having dinner there again this time in a more controlled time fashion. For the second time over the holiday period I tried Jinda Thai only to realise they were (still) closed. The decision came between my old favourite ISpicy 2 (although not having eaten there since 2011) and Jaidee. My dining companion hadn't tried Jaidee before and so it was set.

- Crying Tiger (chargrilled marinated beef with pepper & garlic sauce) $14.9 - a bit of a letdown with reasonably tender beef but not much flavour. The sauce was fine but nothing that special to me;
- Pua Toa Fu Makhru (stirfried beancurd, eggplant, garlic, chilli, basil) $13.9
- Steamed Barramundi (with garlic & chilli in spicy lemon sauce) $26.9 - I usually get whole fried fish at Thai restaurants (since I don't like deepfrying at home) but opted for a healthier version this time. It was a nicely cooked fish, not dry and with good sauce to complement the coconut rice.

Milk tea was a fluorescent bright drink quite sweet but not sickeningly so.

Overall I prefer the meal dishes at Jinda Thai or ISpicy 2 and would opt for their next time. However I'd definitely go back for the cheap beef noodle soup.

Jaidee Thai Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Moulin Noir, Melbourne 04-2015

For some reason I've never been to Port Melbourne. And that's despite one of my best friends living there for a while. Funnily enough my first visit to the area wasn't because of her.

It was a brunch catchup with a friend not seen for probably nearly 10 years and her suggestion to come to the area.

- Baked Eggs – 2 x Eggs, Sugo (Italian Tomato Sauce), Chorizo $17
- Moulin Noir Big Breakfast w/ Egg, Bacon, Chorizo, Mushroom, Tomato & Hash Brown $23

The highlights were good bread, tasty chorizo and crispy hash browns (the extra side was too much in the end). All in all a nice breakfast but nothing that seemed special compared to the haunts more local to me.

Moulin Noir European Bistro Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Jimmy Grants, Melbourne 09-2015

Even though Smith Street isn't far from Abbotsford, finding out about the more recent Church Street branch was great as it meant I could catch one tram rather than walking (or driving) to Smith Street. The best opportunity arose whilst deciding what to have for dinner coming back on a tram from Box Hill. It's been a long time but the thought of souvlaki always seems to excite me and I'm more enamoured with Jimmy's since my first visit (http://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/jimmy-grants-melbourne-01-2014).

The Richmond branch is larger and has more restaurant/cafe feel to it than the tiny Collingwood one. The food is identical and delicious. Mr. Papadopoulos has excellent tender meat and wrapped in thick pita. The grain salad isn't as good as what I remember from Hellenic Republic, perhaps due to less honey and no pomegranate. The chips with feta and garlic oil are nicely seasoned. Loukomades are sweet, crunchy and a good finish.

Although the prices seem to be going up but the size and quality still remains at least. I haven't been to Stalactites in years and with this around I don't think I need to.

Jimmy Grants Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

I Love Pho 264, Melbourne 12-2015

There's always been 2 pho places in Victoria Street that I visited - Pho Chu The (one of my favourites but the longest walk) and Pho Hung Vuong 2. On Christmas Day there were always going to be limited eating options, but the reliable Asian work ethic means Victoria Street is as good as any (and apparently why the Jews in America all eat Chinese food for Christmas).

I saw I Love Pho 264 have many articles talking about how much people enjoyed their food - David Chang was a notable name in there. But for some reason the articles all stated Pho Chu The. It wasn't after a little reading that I discovered both these places are run by the same people. Why they have both of these restaurants a couple of doors down away with different names escapes me.

The pho is good, the articles admit using "just a bit" of MSG. The meat is fine and the brisket has very little fat which is great. The 3 colour drink is fine but there's probably too much ice even though at least it is shaved finely.

Best of all, they accept credit card - I'll be back.

I Love Pho 264 Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Dainty Sichuan, Melbourne 12-2016

My first experience with Dainty Sichuan was quite a disappointing one (http://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/dainty-sichuan-food-melbourne-01-2014). It was the Box Hill branch and for lunch we had a hotpot that seemed more MSG than quality. I left wondering how this chain had received accolades proclaiming some of the best food in Melbourne and if their a la carte dishes would be better. Since then I have enjoyed Hunan and Sichuan food more. I enjoy it much more than the typical Cantonese that most people associate with Chinese food. Even though Mao's on Brunswick Street and their fried mantou only lives in my dreams, the many dumpling places and Red Chilli Sichuan (http://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/red-chilli-sichuan-canberra-12-2013) helped this along much over the past 2 years.

Finally I booked at the mothership in South Yarra to see

- Bang Bang Chicken (chilli & Szechuan pepper, sweet & sour) $19.8 - a cold dish of delicious chicken and vegetables slivered together;
- Cumin lamb ribs $26.8 - as usual my favourite with thick (fatty) pieces of meat and great potent flavour;
- Fish-flavoured eggplant (pickled chilli, sweet & sour) $19.8 - not really fishy, but just good eggplant fried with soft insides;
- Fried pork slices $28.8 - tasty pork without too much fat served with chewy bits of bread;
- Fried fish $42.8 - the fish was nice and like many Sichuan places, when served with that many chillies, they aren't actually hot. Some of the vegetables in it are a little oddly textured.

It may be obvious that the ribs and eggplant were my choice (as would mapo tofu if I had my way) and I liked these dishes the best. I don't mind pork belly and fried fish but have noticed in Sichuan places I don't tend to like them as much (and if the added bits like vegetables and breads aren't that good, the price becomes higher than it already is).

I think it would be silly to suggest they don't enhance flavours with the good old 621. I've even heard suggestions that some of these restaurants (not Dainty Sichuan specifically) may re-use chillies (otherwise they go through a LOT) and that could be why some dishes with so many chillies aren't actually that hot. I couldn't refute either of these claims but suffice to say the food tastes very good and I'll be back hopefully at a time when I have more control over the ordering.

In the meantime, where's my Fuchsia Dunlop books?

Dainty Sichuan Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Arisoo, Melbourne 12-2015

I've found myself a favourite new traditional Korean food place in Melbourne. Honestly I haven't been to that many, but Arisoo has taken over Seoul Soul as my local in Abbotsford and so until I find another I'll be happy here.

I'd walked past a few times and it was good to see some diversity opening in Victoria Street instead of the endless similar Vietnamese cuisines. There's even a Singaporean place near eLounge which I thought the area was missing for a while. One of the things that attracted me to Arisoo in the first place was the offer of fried chicken, which Seoul Soul doesn't have. Chimac has it too but for some reason it seems to be closed quite often when I'm around and the normal Korean dishes appeal more to me than Chimac's fusion Mexican fare.

I've started drinking sikhye (Korean rice punch) at most places which here reminds me of a sweet barley drink. In other places it tasted more cinnamon like horchata. The Korean meal tradition of giving out lots of little accompaniments is preserved here with tangy kimchi, beanshoots and some crunchy vegetables.

- Kimchi Pancakes with onions & soy sauce $10 - nice crisp outsides with chewy middles. These were fine but I don't tend to be much of a pancake person generally;
- Vegetable japchae (stirfried sweet potato starch noodles with mushrooms, chives, carrots & onions) $13 - I really like the distinct chewy gummy texture of sweet potato noodles. No others I've had are like it and I'm a growing fan;
- Spicy soft tofu stew with seafood $15 - delicious piping hot broth to ladle over rice with small bite-sized pieces of seafood;
- Original & soy garlic fried chicken $17 - very good crunchy outsides and lovely thick sauce on the soy & garlic. I preferred the flavoured over original but either is fine. I'd be interested to try the seasoned (spicy) but I do tend to find spicy KFC too hot for me generally.

The food is extremely good. I probably wouldn't get the pancakes again (they usually aren't my preference) but any of the other 3 dishes along with the hot stone bibimbap or tteokbokki rice cakes would be perfect.

Arisoo Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Kingsley's Chicken, Canberra 11-2015

There was a brief period in late 2014 I was partially addicted to the chips from Kingston's Chicken Gourmet, which are served insanely hot, crispy fresh and smothered in fluorescent chicken salt. It seemed to be around the late AFL season and finals period where my standard halftime ritual would be to walk and get some chips to ease the tension.

After reading online about Kingsley's having the best chips in Canberra and an outlet in Woden, I tried several times to find it, eventually realising it must have closed down in the foodcourt and not that I was blind. Eventually my affair with Chicken Gourmet ended after a few substandard burgers (even with the 2-for-1 entertainment book discount).

Many months later I saw the ad for Kingsley's about to (re-)open in Woden. Conveniently this was located in the fresh food market area which I often frequented. One November lunch, I decided to succumb and try. What can I say - the burger chicken was reasonable but the dry white bun and other ingredients remind me why I don't particularly eat KFC burgers or Hungry Jacks anymore (and not for years). My burger and bread standards have changed. The fried chicken was nice and better than Chicken Gourmet's equivalent, but below KFC and my memories of Whitechapel's Royal PFC. The chips are crinkle and well cooked with unnecessary thick gravy. Interestingly they don't have chicken salt available.

I think I'm too old for this type of food anymore. Maybe I'll only just settle for the chips next time.

(The Woden zomato is delisted, so I'll have to settle for this one.)

Kingsleys Chicken Erindale Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Grazing, Gundaroo 11-2015

After a long late night out, lunch at Grazing started with a sobering 30km drive from Canberra. The scenery was peaceful with not many cars on the road. A brief walk down the main road at Gundaroo didn't reveal much and so perhaps the restaurant is really the only thing to specifically come here for.

The setting is an a quaint corner house and the menu is seasonal.

- Layered scallop mousse with squid ink pasta, heirloom tomato and micro basil $17 - a beautifully presented dish with intense black and mildly ink-flavoured soft pasta and a lovely distinctive scallop gel;
- Deboned quail with black pudding, roasted pear and parsley root puree $17 - impeccable meat enjoying quail without having to pull it from the bones. The black pudding sauce was potent and rich and excellent;
- Saltwater Barramundi with butter poached prawns, white cabbage, fennel and red wine reduction $33 - perfectly cooked fish, nice crisp skin, well seasoned;
- Pork belly with loin - soft tender meat, quite nice overall, but perhaps overshadowed by my recent memories of the quail;
- Roast pineapple pavlova with sticky meringue, coconut curd and passion fruit gelée $17 - very sweet flavours, perhaps a little too much for me, but nice.

Overall an outstanding meal with exceptional skill and ingredients. I don't know if I'll ever be back in the area but if I am it'll be an easy stop.

Grazing Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Addict Food & Coffee, Melbourne 12-2015

On Christmas eve I revisited the old haunt of Gertrude Street in search of breakfast. The intent was to try Archie's (closed), then Hammer & Tong (also closed) and so ended up at a less frequented area to the corner shop of Addict.

- Potato hash & mushroom duxelle (with roasted field mushroom, a poached egg & caramelised onion) $18 - I first heard of a mushroom duxelle during the 1st season of Junior Masterchef (cooked during a beef wellington from memory). I succumb to fried potatoes in all forms and so the dish seemed appropriate. The duxelle wasn't too strong a flavour and the hash was quite mild too (possibly a result of being thick and so less fried surface area). It seemed a little small to satisfy me (or maybe I'm used to huge breakfast plates).

Soy chai was served in pot. It smelled spiced but wasn't very strong and didn't detect much ginger.

I'm still keen to try their breakfast for 2 and the Ssamjang glazed roast pork belly.

Addict Food  Coffee Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen, Melbourne 12-2015

As I progressively and slowly eat my way through each of Melbourne's ramen places (it's harder than you think when you don't live in the same city).

One of the more interesting things I'd read was the yuzu tonkotsu which I haven't heard of previously, and the bright green eye-catching broth.

It was a quiet weekday lunch just before Christmas and I plonked myself in a corner at the front counter to keep nicely in my own solitude. I'd mention the multitude of customisations offered but you can clearly see it in the photo.

The yuzu tonkotsu broth is different and excellent (what the hell happened to my photo??? - now replaced with a later eggless version with pork belly instead). There's a distinctive spicy pepper with a touch of citrus. It's quite delicious. The broth was reasonably thick, but I'd need to order the baseline tonkotsu to directly compare it to Bone Daddies. The chashu is nice, soft and not overly fatty. What's more impressive is the free serve of extra noodles if you want it - just to ensure you are as full as possible. The extra serve is delivered when requested and piping hot to even warm up the broth again slightly.

Of the places in Melbourne tried thusfar, Hakate Gensuke is my favourite standard tonkotsu but that could well be only because I haven't tried it at Ikkoryu. The yuzu version could well be my overall favourite. I still want to try their original tonkotsu (set the standard), black garlic (because I always crush extra raw garlic into my tonkotsu) and spicy tobanjan (always reminds me of Iron Chef Chen Kenichi) so I'm going to have to be social and go with other people so I don't miss out.


I went back one evening to try the black garlic. It reaffirmed the quality of broth, decent noodles and meat and overall satisfaction. The black garlic has a deep savoury flavour as compared to the yuzu that is spicy and tart. I can't say which one I like better, but overall probably I'd give the slight edge to the yuzu.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato