Friday, July 31, 2009


Initially this is not our first choice to have something to bite in the afternoon (a bit of that later). As my travel is winding down, a little bit of indulgence is called for. This particular lane is populated by cafes, and they are mostly packed. And those of you who are into "authenticity" (pft!), there are a couple of genuine articles behind the counter. Seating is limited to about 5 tables inside, and a couple out on the pavement on this piece of prime real estate.

It pays to study what they have to offer that is plastered on its entrance before entering, because the menu they present inside is non-pictorial; as the Korean from Melbourne U. and his visiting girlfriend from New Zealand marvel at our order, thinking we're regulars even though this is our first visit. The crepes can be had as sweet or savory.

We opt for the sweet; Aumônière (above) is like huge wonton, with Ice cream (Peter's) wrapped inside a crepe, endowed with whipped cream and it sits on a bed of hot chocolate whirl.

The other is
Des Iles flambée; that's braised banana, Flambée au Rhum. (Only caught the tail-end of flame in the photo). Incidentally, Merdeka Palace, Kuching, serves these flambée crepes in its Italian restaurant. If you have a sweet tooth, what's there not to like!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


In his usual vagueness, Julian mentions of some Chinese noodle place he's bringing us to. This place is at yet another Sino-Vietnamese district - more rough and tumble. The minimal non-existent decor it exudes befits its simplistic name. Our waiter (left photo) seems to be some character out of Bedrock, some Chinese neighbor that never got featured in the Flintstones. If the Health Dept. ever vets this place, I think, he'll be the one taken away for his unkempt hairdo and his 3-day old stub.

You may have heard a lot about Xingjian in the news of late
, and the food served in this restaurant is a representation from that region; but more from the Han inhabitants' perspective, as evident from the spicy pig's ear pickled salad (above).

When I order Kueh-Chap, pig's ear is one of the items I strike off the list, because it's hard to chew into. But this one is different; it's crunchy and not rubbery - nicely marinated with enough heat from the chilli bits and sour disposition from the pickled cucumber to make it one hell of an addictive snack food.

The fried julienned potatoes with dried chillies is not something you find on a Chinese daily diet. Surprisingly the potatoes are crunchy, much like the ear slices.

Yet another spicy flavored dish of a fried eggplant. The lamb skwers are very much like satay. We have half spicy hot and half potion with ordinary marinade. Cumin is the prominent spice here; hence, it's reminiscent of an Indian Whatyamacallit.

Its menu is an extension of its no flair demeanor; it calls a spade "a spade", like the noodle above. It's called a "Big Plate noodle" (the Chinese connotation says the same thing), as it come in one huge gigantic plate. It's so big that 7 of us can't even finish it. The noodle is looks like the flat rice noodle in its width, but it's flour based. It has chicken and potatoes. I guess it's their staple dish, which is meant to stuff one up. Like all the dishes, presentation is not in their vocabulary. It's all about empire of the tummy - the way to a man's heart is a filed tummy. And the big plate noodle certainly takes care of that.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


You gauge the popularity of an eatery by
the crowd of its customers, right? What about if the bulk of the customers are Ang Mohs compared to Chings in a Chinese restaurant? You would definitely dismiss it as those Guailows as having no taste-see. But then they might be onto something most of us take for granted, and it's not sweet and sour pork, mind you.

Its specialties are dumplings among other things. And the Ang Mohs are not here for the sweet and sour. Most of them are repeat customers by the way they know their way around getting the utensils, condiments and tea. - better than me a first-timer. So what's the lure of this place besides dumplings? Being cheap! It may not win you any girlfriends, but it sure brings in the dough for them.

The wonton's skin is hand rolled, and its filling is the same as Hu Tong. Its thickness may be a few nanometers thicker, but hardly noticeable.

For the price one pays for it, who cares. A dollar saved here and there, in no time you'll have enough to order some Xiao Lung Bao, which is only $6.50 for six. Or $5 for takeaway for the unsteamed ones.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


After breakfast, we have a long stroll to Brunswck St.; remember, we had the duck pie here. It's an eclectic street with offbeat stores and graffiti walls. On Saturdays, there's even an art market at one of its side streets. It's something like Portobello Rd., but tamer.

While window browsing I notice these mezethes at a
Greek Deli. We pop in to get a bag of five for $3. The dolmades are rice wrapped in grape leaves. It's a bit sour; tastes like the local rice cooked inside a pitcher plant (you didn't hear the last sentence from me). At least, I can say I've tried that.

Monday, July 27, 2009


This is the last time I have to get up really early for breakfast. Luckily, breakfast starts at 9 a.m. on Saturdays, as opposed to 7 a.m. on weekdays. Before 10, queue starts forming at the door. This place serves lunch and dinner too.

Although the place has a big dining area, tables are closely knitted; any privacy afforded is non existence; more so if you're seated at the bar counter. In a way it helps if you speak Hokkien.

As its name implies, like some clouds, the breakfast offerings here vary from the seemingly mundane, like
muesli, and toast & spreads, to the more spectacular... and that's what getting up early and excited, like on a X'mas morning, is all about!

Behind all those clouds
within its breakfast menu, there's a silver lining hidden that brings Andrew McConnell's baby to the fore.

Turkish Baked Eggs, Spiced Tomato, Dukkah, Labne

The baked eggs taste like any soft boiled eggs, but maybe something in between a poached and fried egg; it's what beneath the eggs that makes this dish come into into its own. When you dunk the bread into the creamy egg yolk, it's pure eggstasy!

Tom Cooper's Smoked Salmon, 65/65 Egg, Sorrel, Apple & Dill

Tom Cooper may be some hot shot curer, but one should read too much into the salmon, after all anyone can incorporate it into a dish and come out smelling like roses... or maybe not.

The thing to look out for in this dish is the figure 65/65. It refers to the state of the egg is cooked; at 65°C for 65 minutes - that's sous vide.

It's cracked open in the middle as you would on a normal egg. The egg pops out whole like a hard boiled egg, but not quite; notice the shimmery white at the bottom of the close-up.
The egg yolk is soft and moist, yet it holds up together. When I cut into the egg white (into bitable size), it melts like it's being cut by a hot knife, quivering into a soft boiled egg white. It's a marvel to experience the unexpected from a boiled egg.

... finally a tiny Canalé to finish off. This one is better than the one at Vue Café.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Julian calls to say we'll have an early dinner tonight. Okay! He'll be 'round to pick us up at 4 p.m. Okay?!!!

We have no clue as to what we'll be going, except that there's a mention of pizza. True enough he comes by after picking up the girlfriend from work - early day off.

After a short drive we're at this corner shop with few tables and chairs by the curbside. The place is empty of customers. Four of us must be the first customers of the day. It's a simple setup, with a prominent drinks counter, a red manual meat ladle among the seating area (a working show piece), a showcase of preserved meat and produce, behind which is the pizza oven. For a moderate size parlor, it has a huge crew size that seems overwhelming. I later learn that particular point in time is the calm before the storm; the action begins in the evening, and that's why the early dinner to avoid the crowd.

D.O.C. stands for Denominazione D'origine Controllata. Capire? It's a phrase used by various agricultural government bodies that set and oversee the standards of some Italian foods, most significantly cheese and wine (I nick this from its table menu).Thus sets the standard of the food and drinks served here. It's simple hand drawn and typewritten states: "Welcome back to simple Italian food..." . That's what the food is all about as attested by the ones below...

Insalata Caprese...

... described as vine ripened tomato, D.O.P. Buffalo mozzarella and basil salad. A simple simple salad that highlight the cheese - light, creamy without being cheesy.

Pizza Tiger Prawns...

... as the name implies pizza topped with prawns, tomato, mozzarella, endive and fresh chilli.

Pizza Abruzzese...

... porchetta, montovana fruit mustard, mozzarella and radicchio.

Pizza San Daniele...

... one of its prime choice bake that has San Marzano tomato, D.O.P. buffalo mozzarella, D.O.P. and San Daniele Prosciutto.

Finally the dessert...

Sweet Goat's Cheese Tiramisu With Pavesini & Montenegro

These are all unadulterated stuff prepared by two imports from Naples unlike those bastardized pizzas from the Hut.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Ever since I've been in Melbourne, I've been hearing good vibes on the Taiwanese beef noodle of this establishment. It's been compared to Yang Tai-Tai's noodle from Springs Garden in Kuching. But the only problem is that I haven't been able to sink my teeth into one; they don't make the noodle everyday. I've tried only 3 separate occasions (everytime I pass by) but to no avail. The doc managed to have a bowl the night before when he called to check on its availability. Well, today is our lucky day!

Whatever comparison there is to Kuching's beef noodle, they are wrong on all counts. This one is far superior - the best I've tasted so far. First off, its broth is not of the soy sauce tinted color. Its aroma is subtle, without the hint of star anise, cinnamon or any other spices associated with the broth. Lastly, its chunks of beef are pink in color, like those of corned beef, which exude a flavor that is akin to that the Chinese canned Kou-Yuk
marinade (if you've ever eaten one, you'll know what I mean). Halleluyah... You've got to try to believe!

This place is more of a Chinese books/comics rental place than an eatery. Those familiar with the Star Bookstore will know the concept of the place. The cafe is an extension to the concept, where one can come in and chill out. As the sign below the counter (top right) implies...

Don't do it,
When you gonna come!

Friday, July 24, 2009


Is it the fact that this place is located next to the City Library that it's called Journal Canteen? A canteen because it serves as one for the Centre For Adult Education (CAE) next door too? Whatever the reason, there's a little neon sign with the words "Rosa's Kitchen" hung on its window, which can be seen from the street side; Rosa being "My Cousin Rosa" fame. The kitchen serves Italian meals - Sicilian to be exact.

Its daily menu is displayed on the blackboard downstairs, as well on the inside of the canteen.
The food changes daily; it consists of antipasto, a soup, choice of 4 mains, and dessert with coffee. It's best to opt for the Degustazione if one is hungry, as it consists all the categories (choice of one main). Which is what we have as shown below...


Vegetable Soup

Orecchiette With Pea & Fennel Ragu

... it works out cheaper, as one main course costs $20. The cannoli is nicer than the ones from Brunetti's. And a stove-top percolated coffee comes with it. It's really filling when all the little bits and pieces add up. A very good sampling of what the food is all about here. Where can you get a gauntlet of full course meal for $32?

Ricotta Cannoli

I order a veal chop for myself. It's a simply hearty meal; followed by a coffee, which seems to be f.o.c. The open kitchen is so quiet that one hardly notices the activity going on behind the counter. Despite the crowd, the staff takes things at their leisure stride. No hurry, no worries. Even the lunch crowd takes their sweet time to enjoy their long lunch.

Veal Chops With Capers & Tomatoes

Thursday, July 23, 2009


This is the other end of Little Bourke Street, away from Chinatown; quiet street in the evening, although this part houses numerous eateries. And this split-level Indonesian restaurant has some neat setup without the kitsch. The restaurant is more about its owner, a vagabond of sort, who wanders from his home turf, Blok M, to Bali and meets his Australian girl, marries and sets up shop to remind him of his early days in Indonesia; his tale is inscribed on the board adorning the walls.

By and large the majority of the diners are Indonesians students. Its prices are reasonable, befitting the students' budget. If I'm not mistaken, all of its offerings are one-platers.

Buntut Goreng

We have the deep-fried oxtail with soup, and salad and sambal accompaniment...

Lele Balado

... and deep-fried catfish with hot & spicy sauce. The potions for both items are huge in comparison to the bowl of rice given; by the time the rice is finished, there is still a large chunks of the fish and oxtail left. The sambal is hot and appetizing. A very satisfying meal.
Es Kopyo & Es Alpukat

To finish off, we have an iced coconut Bandung and a avocado smoothie. Just like the ones in Jakarta. Ditto for the food.


As the name implies, it's all about nothing! Kongkaying is like grasping in the air - more like hot air with occasional fartulence. Hopefully, something aromatic will come out of it! If not...

May the Farce be With You!


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