Turtle Rock Cafe, Cape Tribulation 06-2022

On our final morning, before the drive to Palm Cove, we had effectively run out of home breakfast options. Given we were flying to Lizard Island the next morning, it wasn't necessary to get more muesli and milk. A quick local search found the Turtle Rock Cafe, with its outdoor/covered seating areas, and even a pool table and table tennis table that would have been a nice way to waste a few evening hours had we discovered it earlier.

- Vegetarian Brekky Roll (hash brown, avo, haloumi, tomato chutney, aioili sauce) $13.5
- Pie

Mason's Cafe, Cape Tribulation 06-2022

On a warm day (which is probably most days) up at Cape Tribulation in the Daintree, there's a few options. Obviously there's the ocean, but inland there are the swimming holes at Emmagen Creek and Mason's Swimming Hole.

Emmagen Creek is well rated, and we tried to get there with our very small hired Suzuki Swift. Although the start was promising, it turns into an offload. A short partway through, we were passed in the opposite direction by a huge number of utes. One of them stopped and told us our plans to continue on that road weren't reasonable (or stupid even). Given the slow speed we were going and the huge holes ahead, we smartly turned around.

Surprisingly (or maybe not to some people), we went to nearby Mason's instead. After an actually delicious lunch, the swimming hole was very pleasant too. Not busy, warm enough, reasonable entry spots into the water, and some fish swimming around too. Very nice.

- Emu burger - a low fat, distinctly drier type of beef mince, with a slight game flavour;
- Crocodile burger (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, seafood sauce) $24 - like a moist, chunky chicken mince;
- Black sapote smoothie - texture like creamy avocado, with a chocolate taste. Unique and delicious.

Lots of crunchy fries accompanied in typical Queensland fashion. Overall I thought this was a delicious meal and would happily go back for food, being one of the fewer places that serves game meat, and also a nice pleasant swim.

Daintree Ice Cream Company 06-2022

The tropics of Queensland mean you can sample the fruit that I normally associate with South-East Asia but in Australia. Although having said that, finding tropical fruit itself to buy and eat fresh was very challenging and few places sold it, which was a shame.

At least this place has some nice options for local gelato flavours.

The signature cup is a bargain at 4 scoops/flavours for $7.5.

Wattleseed tasted similar to almond/hazelnut. Jackfruit had an overripe sweetness to it. Coconut was only mild but with a more distinct aftertaste. Passionfruit was ok and a bit tangy. Overall creamy gelato.

Soursop lemonade sorbet more watery.

Would go back for the generally good quality and interesting flavours.

The Court House Hotel, Port Douglas 06-2022

After a night of eating pretty tasty Indian food, the 2nd night at Port Douglas was a toss up for seafood. We tried Seabean Tapas but they were full and their paella is expensive. Melaleuca looked more upmarket but no particularly unusual seafood items and also expensive. The rest of the places seemed much of a muchness, and we settled on The Court House as it was large enough to not be full, the promise of live music, and also the menu looked alright.

- Courty Seafood Plate (grilled barramundi, green lip mussels, QLD scallops, coconut prawns, lemon pepper calamari, chilled smoked salmon, oysters, whole prawns, chips & dipping sauces) $55.

I have to admit it was quite an underwhelming meal. Tiger prawns were good and oysters sweet. Scallops were overcooked, shriveled, tiny and tasteless. Fish was a slim cut and well overcooked. Coconut prawns fried until too dark. Great chips as everywhere in Queensland. Slaw standard.

Wouldn't come back. Or at least wouldn't order it again.

Lucky Fish, Palm Cove 06-2022

After arriving in Cairns airport and picking up our rental vehicle, the first stop was a drive to Palm Cove. It was a very windy afternoon and the lovely beach was offset somewhat by blustery winds and sand. But like all good beach areas, there has to be a fish and chippery.

They have a simple menu but one that allows fish (battered, grilled or crumbed) and a small selection of fresh local fish to pick from.

The first time was a classic battered barramundi $20. The fish had good flavour and did not have a strong fishy sense. The chips were really excellent - something I soon discovered to be a constant in Queensland. Super salad (kale, broccolini, mint, avocado, quinoa, pepitas, sunflower seeds, Spanish onion, tahini dressing) $14 was nice and balanced. Kaffir lime aioli $2.5 wasn't that necessary but a bit of balance.

The second time a week later, I decided to try the meal deal Lucky Box (battered fish, lime pepper calamari, crumbed prawn cutlets, chips) $33. I wanted to try crumbed fish as something different to battered and they were happy to accommodate. There was a huge amount of coral trout (4 pieces) although I think they were fried a bit long given the colour. It didn't taste burnt at least though. In hindsight it was too much crumb fried in one box, and so battered would have been better to stick to. And given the first visit, battered is better there overall.

Firebird, Melbourne 01-2022

For the first modern Asian dining experience since returning to Melbourne, and also for the new year of 2022, a special occasion of a friend visiting from London and for a 40th birthday, meant I got to tick off one of my new list to try. Other than Firebird, there's also Anchovy and a few Indian/Sri Lankan ones on my list.

It was a quiet drive (considering peak hour although maybe everyone is away) down Church and Chapel Street. The area was quite dead (again maybe because of similar reasons) or that the cases around town are rising. Nonetheless it was exciting to walk in to the industrial fit out with it's thick concrete walls, and once unmasked at the table smell the smokiness in the air, and see a large wood (pizza) oven and a grill where all the magic happens.

Cockailts had a bit of Asian flair to them and for $20 each were ok. I expected some would have smoked ingredients in them, but our waitress said unfortunately none did.

- Grilled squid (with green papaya, hot mint, peanut) $25 - thick tender pieces of squid cut into 1cm slivers, charred to golden (maybe from a fish sauce marinade?) with a much milder flavour than I expected. Served with a green papaya salad and well balanced fish sauce glaze. Probably wasn't as much hot mint as I would like, but nice overall;
- Hot & sour broken rice claypot (mushroom, asparagus, eggplant) $26 - a nice dish with very strongly flavoured (aka salty) dark sauce, grilled vegetables and the broken rich had excellent crunchy base. The flavour got a bit too strong with the soaked liquid end parts and nicer once diluted with some normal rice;
- Extra rich grilled lamb rib curry (pickled baby cucumber) $30 - they say curry but it was really more like an excellent satay, with super soft lamb pulling from a bone and with a bit of pickle, chilli and coconut to add some different flavour/texture. Lovely;
- Fire tossed pipis "canh chua" reduction (charred tomato, pork oil, herbs & grilled chinese donuts) $34 - not quite the strong sour tamarind broth of a canh chua (although it is in "" and is a reduction) with more savoury fish sauce with a lighter citrus tang, that I was sipping spoonfuls of. The pipi meat was a little small for my liking and the Chinese donut didn't have that deepfried flavour of the normal ones;
- Duck l'orange (very slow roasted duck, grilled citrus, Firebird excellent sauce, pickled ginger) $41 for half duck - a beautifully presented dish served with what I think they described as a thick oyster sauce. The duck was good although the flesh didn't have the delicate juiciness that is important in duck. The layer of fat under the skin of the breast also hadn't been fully rendered and so it wasn't that crisp. But the skin on the leg and wing was dessicated and crisp although it meant the meat underneath was drier too. The citrus squeeze didn't seem to add much flavour but it diluted the heavy oyster sauce nicely;
- Wood roasted duck fat & potato gratin, caramelised nuoc mam $15 - a layered potato cube with crispy firm shell with a strong sweet fish sauce to soak in. Very good.

Overall a delicious meal and too much food for 3 of us. The desserts didn't sound too interesting or Asian and we passed on them. It was a meal for a special occasion and I'd go back again to have the lamb rib curry and gratin, could be persuaded for the duck, and also the other missed items of charred cabbage, charcoal chicken, or pork neck with kumquat relish.

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

Malaya Cuisine, Melbourne 12-2021

Victoria Street has never really been one to have any Malaysian food. It was refreshing to see that although sadly some classic restaurants had closed, that it had brought a little bit of new Malaysian blood to the area. Google named one called D'Lemongrass with excellent ratings, but it looks like that closed not long after opening sadly. Malaya is the other highly rated one (4.9 from 10 ratings currently) further toward Church Street.

Our first time there, the two of us ordered 2 dishes - seems quite normal. The Malaya curry fish head noodle soup $15 was delicious, and full of fish (not just bones) and huge serve. Malaya curry laksa $15 was also very good with a rich coconut broth and both vermicelli and thick egg noodles (a tick for that). It was too big to finish and we ended up leaving behind some noodles and broth.

I then brought my (discerning Malaysian-cuisine) parents here on Christmas day lunch. Luckily they were open and it was easy to get seated. They agreed about how generous the curry fish head noodle soup was, and much better than the offerings they get in the Asian east area around Doncaster. Golden egg yolk king prawns $31 were served with fried wonton skins and an item I've enjoyed since an excellent one in a Sichuan restaurant in Canberra, but have so often since been disappointed by either a lack of crispness or a lack of that rich feel and salty seasoning. This one was a huge flavour hit though and lit up all the taste buds simultaneously. Mee goreng $15 was also nice and a more Malay style.

Seals of approval all around and we'll all be back.

La Chanh, Melbourne 12-2021

Coming back to Victoria Street after a long absence, there's a noticeable reduction in Vietnamese restaurants. Some of the old ones have turned over, some are vacant and advertising for new owners, and of course some are still there with variable numbers of patrons. The long stayers have tended to be around the Nicholson Street area, maybe because it's the most frequented by foot traffic and closer to the main tramstops, train station and shopping complex. However the shops toward Church Street have (in my mind at least) always seemed a little bit nicer and newer? Additionally the central ones between Nicholson Street and the train station are (for better or worse) more full with non-Vietnamese people, whatever that implies.

Up toward Church are some new Vietnamese places. On this random December Tuesday, there were a few places open. Co Thu Quan which is supposedly Vietnamese street food was doing a good trade and a table for us would be about 20-30mins away. So we wandered onto the next one, which was the fancier named La Chanh (for some reason it sounded a bit more French to me).

Inside is a pretty standard restaurant, and the host lady was single-handedly managing the entire floor. It was unexpectedly busy for her so she apologised for the food taking a little while. But it was worth the wait.

The beef of bo luc lac with tomato rice $17.5 was sweeter than I'm used to but my favourite version so far. The meat was tender and lovely. Mekong prawn noodle soup $15 was also good and a more unusual dish to find. It had a clean soup boosted by the hot mint. Unfortunately the interesting sounding pho satay is no longer on the menu. 3 colour drink is also an exceptional version with high quality ingredients and ice shaved well rather than chunky bits.

We went again a couple of weeks later. Due to an unexpected busy day time, they had run out of pho and che. The bun thit nuong cha gio had delicious grilled pork and the nuoc mam was well balanced. Fish sauce chicken wings were expertly fried and coated in a sweet savoury sauce.

My favourite (granted the only one I've tried recently other than bun bo hue at Co Do) Vietnamese restaurant around.

La Chanh Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Sunda, Melbourne 12-2019

Another modern Asian restaurant in Melbourne showing it still is the city leading the charge. For my brief stopover to Melbourne I had actually wanted to go to Longrain. However this was chosen as a close nearby place which happened to still be open to cooking for us at 10.30pm. Mind you we had to order within a few minutes, but the short menu made that easy.

- Rock oyster, coconut curry vinaigrette, shallot, Tasmanian pepper leaf $6 ea.
- Wagyu rendang pie, pickled radish, fermented sambal $10;
- Otak otak spanner crab curry, finger lime, rice crisps $29;
- Fremantle octopus, bush tomato, lemongrass sambal, onion;
- Rangers valley wagyu, strawberry gum, carrot, sunrise lime satay $50.

The modern take is using lesser known Australian ingredients into Malaysian/Indonesian fusion. It's beautiful, expensive and pretty good overall. I can't say I would rush to go back though.

Sunda Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato