Thursday, April 26, 2012

Reading Room Cafe, Footscray

Reading Room Cafe... Not your usual "uni cafe", no!

Honestly, I don't know what I like more. The fact that Reading Room Cafe is a uni cafe, or that for 8 weeks, they're donating a fraction of their proceeds to charity. Having been involved with Engineers Without Borders for a good part of my uni life, I think I'd go with the latter because community development is something that I have always fully supported.

After hearing so much about this new Pop Up Charity event at a uni cafe for few weeks now, I'm so glad I finally went last Saturday! The weather was perfect, we had a nice big group (with 8 of us + 1 toddler), so off to Footscray we went...

We felt almost just as good and comfortable sitting inside as we would if we sat outside. Just because all four walls was almost completely made of glass with lots and lots of light coming in. I like it.

Can't believe everything was prepared from this tiny little kitchen! #impressed

Good stuff.

A very "Zumbo" looking barrista, kidding... ;p He made great coffee, though!

HAVE to come back to try their cold drip coffee, looked AMAZING!

Soy Piccolo

AWESOME coffee! The milk was just the right consistency and it still had the fullness and creaminess I enjoy (which can be quite hard for soy milk). The Chompy blend by Sensory Lab I had was delicious. Definitely having the Chompy again next time I'm here.


How pretty is the coffee art? Nice touch that definitely puts people in a better mood... =)

The BFG -- $14.50
Brioche French toast with a generous serve of crispy bacon, candied walnuts and maple syrup

Really good! The candied nuts were great. I was expecting candied bacon too but glad they didn't do that. It was regular bacon but neither salty nor candied, so the BFG was quite a perfectly balanced sweet (from the nuts and syrup) and savoury dish on its own! So much so that it was hard for me to classify it as sweet or savoury... Really interesting, I like it! The thick brioche was soaked all the way through and moist, which made it soft to eat too.

Definitely one of their most famous item in the menu =)

Fritter's Lane -- $14.50
Sweet corn, pumpkin and coriander fritters, poached eggs, avocado, tomato chutney

Only had a small taste of this but the chutney was delish! Full of spices and flavour. I liked the creaminess the pumpkin gave to the fritters. Another specialty of the cafe.

Crackle & Pop -- $16.50
Roasted pork belly, apple and zuchini remoulade, coriander, chilli jam and toasted flatbread

LOVED THIS!!! My favourite dish of the day, actually. First, I really liked how they served it with flatbread instead of baguette because I find the latter tough to eat, more often than not. The pork belly that day was fantastic as well. Meat was so moist and the crackling was thick and crunchy (but not hard), just the way I like it. MMMmmmMMMmmm...

DELICIOUS chilli jam and flatbread!

Another closer look at the pork belleh... Yeahhh~

Also, all the condiments went REALLY well together. The chilli jam was amazing, sweet and punching in flavour. The remoulade was SO good too. Now, imagine... Pork belly, chilli jam, remoulade and flatbread... All in one bite. Killer combo and so delicious. YUMMM...!!

Step 1: Slather some chilli jam on flatbread

Step 2: Top generously with remoulade

Step 3: Grab chunky piece of pork belleh and ENJOY!!

Repeat Steps 1 - 3 to your heart's content

Patas Bravas -- $7.00
Light spiced fried potato with garlic aioli

Man... I cannot begin to describe to you how cute it was when my friend's toddler got so excited as soon as the Patas Bravas hit the table. Murmuring words of excitement, clapping and all... Who doesn't love fried potato? WHO?! Let's just say that "the young one" and "once young"enjoyed this all the same... =]

Overall, I think the owners, Eleena and Michael, did everything right when it came to setting up this Pop Up For Charity Cafe. From getting the right chef, to designing the right menu and even marketing it to the right people (influential bloggers et. al). But, credit where credit is due because they did do a great job in every aspect. Well, I'm saying this based on my experience anyway. It is for that reason that every single table (both indoors and out) were completely occupied by the time we finished our meal. It's always even better too when the owners are such friendly and approachable people, which they are.

To cap it off, the food was generous and it was tasty. Coffee was really good too. And how many times have you come across a place that serves both good food and coffee these days? Plus, I feel like I've only just scratched the surface because there's SO much more food I want to try from their menu and those on display. Had my eyes set on some delectable goodies on my way out. Anyway, I'm definitely coming back to Reading Room Cafe very soon and I do hope that they continue their weekend menu even after the Charity event is over (which I'm sure they will, given the amazing response).

So why not you join me and eat for a good cause? There's about 3 more weeks (I believe?) to give back to the community so do try it soon! Peace! =)

Reading Room Cafe (Victoria University) on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cacao Green, CBD

Cacao Green's newly opened Bourke Street store

Last Sunday, I attended a food tasting session with a few fellow bloggers at the new Cacao Green store on Bourke Street. They were introducing a whole set of menu items to their outlets, beginning with this store, and we were basically invited to try and give our honest opinion on each of them. Even though most of these were breakfast items, they are sold throughout the day (and night).

I was happy to go because I thought it'd be a good opportunity to FINALLY pay Cacao Green a visit and try their Fro-Yo after hearing about it from so many people. Seriously, the Swanston Street store has been open for so long and yet, I was probably one of the last few people who still hasn't been. Sad...

And I must say, I really like the interior of this new store. We were indoors but it has quite a "garden feel" to it with the little potted plants/flowers, wooden accents and ample natural lighting. I felt quite comfortable being in the store. Plenty of seats too.


Mixed Berry; Tropical Parfaits -- $6.90

First, I thought it was quite interesting how the crumble tasted like blended granola (with hints of oats and seeds) which gave it a natural crunch. Compote (that was made themselves) wasn't too sweet and the froyo itself was pretty good. It was light, smooth and acted as a good vessel to all the other ingredients in the parfait.

Ahhh... Was glad I finally tried their froyo for myself and it was thankfully delightful =)

Organic Yogurts:

L - R (from top): Fruit 'n Crunch; Apple 'n Passionfruit; Orange 'n Honey Yogurt -- $6.00

It was good to know that they only used 100% Organic Yogurt here in the store. I think out of the 3, my favourite would have to be the Orange 'n Honey. I just liked the combo of tartness of the fruit against the sprinkled cinnamon. The others were a bit simple and straightforward.

Bircher Muesli:

Mixed Berry; Tropical Bircher Muesli -- $8.00

Now, the birchers... I LOVED. First, I liked how they used finely rolled oats which made it easier to be soaked and eaten. Also, the flavours were much more exciting because they were soaked in orange (and a bit of lemon) juice instead of milk, apple juice or what not. Interesting... Enjoyed the Tropical more because it had dried fruits and organic chia seeds too. The whole bowl just felt so healthy, mmm...

Honey Bread:

Honey Bread with Mixed Berries -- $8.00

Well... I thought this was just okay. Was the same compote as earlier, which I liked and the almonds were toasted really well. But, it was just a bit thick so it was still chewy in the middle. And so the sides weren't toasted enough for my liking too.

The toast was also drizzled in agave syrup, which they seem to use in quite a few of their other items as well. Good because this means that Diabetic people wouldn't have to worry about cane syrup or any other harmful sweeteners. We had a small spoonful of this to taste too, lol...

Gourmet Waffles:

Blueberry Almond Waffle -- $9.00

Hmmm... Personally, I've never really preferred waffles with fruits in general. Still like to have them with peanut butter, chocolate, Nutella or something along those lines. The waffles itself could have been a tad sweeter but overall, it was alright.

Quinoa Pudding:

Warm Quinoa Pudding with Strawberries -- $7.50

First, I'm glad that they're getting with the program and have quinoa in their menu too. I mean, Quinoa really is everywhere these days (not that I'm complaining). I like the stuff and it's such a versatile ingredient too. But what I loved most about this is that it's made with coconut milk and palm sugar, aka "Gula Melaka"! Blame my Asian palette and upbringing. Still, this was delicious and I enjoyed it a lot also because it was warm and comforting.

The final shot of the "crime scene". So, so much food!

Another thing I noticed was that the owner really knew the facts of his products and ingredients inside and out. He knew exactly what he wanted in each dish and why, which is always reassuring to customers. Also, I particularly enjoyed listening to his ideas and inspirations behind each dish.

By the end of it, we felt SO stuffed to the brim but was glad to be able to sample all of the new items at Cacao Green. Though, we felt quite bad because we barely finished half of it even though we tried, sorry! We really were just being served and eating non-stop which was fun haha...

I think Cacao Green's new expansion towards a health-centric and breakfast driven crowd is a good direction for the brand. At this point, I think most customers still go for Froyo-to-go but there were quite a few things that I particularly liked (namely the Bircher and Quinoa). That said, this is definitely a place I'd return more often from now on. Also makes for a great place for healthy dessert option, which is not something you get every day ;)

Finally, just want to thank Josh and Jesse again from Cacao Green for attending to us the whole time and being such wonderful hosts. Had a great afternoon chatting with you both and wish you all the best with the launch of this new menu and store!

So tell me, what do YOU normally like to get when you're at Cacao Green? =)

Disclaimer: Winston attended the Cacao Green Tasting as a Guest. All opinions are honest and based on own personal experience at the time.

Cacao Green Bourke Street on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 13, 2012

Kuala Lumpur Restaurant, Carnegie

A fair amount of good Asian restaurants in this Southeastern suburb and close to Monash Caulfield too

NOTE: Glad I'm FINALLY getting around to introducing a new series of posts featured on this blog, called "Wince's Faves", beginning with this post. Basically, it's just a compilation of places that I absolutely LOVE to eat at around Melbourne. Most of which, I've honestly visited more than 10 times in my 4 years here and can still never get tired of. That's how much I love it. Hope you enjoy! =D

Hey guys! How are we all doing?

Can I just start off by saying how excited I am about sharing this place with you guys today?! Whenever my parents visit Australia, the last thing that they'd want to eat is Malaysian food. Only because they don't see the point of eating the same food that they can get back home (for muuuuuuch cheaper too) and probably why they have VERY high standards for it. Let's just say, that out of all the Malaysian restaurants in Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur Restaurant in Carnegie is the only place that can get them to make a rare exception, because it's THAT good. And all for ONE specific dish. Mmmmm....

You see, my cousins are total foodies and rely on word-of-mouth and experience more than food blogs for good food. A lot of places that they've recommended to me have become some of my ultimate favourite places to eat, and this is one of them. I've been hooked since the first time they brought me here for a family dinner in my First Year back in '08.

And the ONE DISH that me, my parents and relos all come back for is the Claypot Curry Fish Head (!!!!). It's seriously delicious and let me tell you why...

Claypot Fish Head Curry (!!!)

The ultimate HERO of every meal we have here. Even after growing up in Malaysia, I seriously have never tasted a Fish Head Curry that's better than this. Hands down. No questions asked. The flavours hit you instantly and you will know that this is no ordinary bowl of Fish Head Curry.

The sauce is exactly like how all Malaysian curries should be. Thick and flavourful, almost like a gravy, and we call it "kuah" in Malaysia. Not too mild, not too hot, this was absolutely perfect to DROWN your bowl of rice in. SO good...

Normally I drown it with even more sauce

Only fresh Rockling fish is used for the curry and anybody will tell you that it's because they're the most delicious fish heads to eat. Big, meaty and full of collagen. The point is to suck out all the skin and collagen from every single bone. Delicioussss~~~

I LOVE the eggplant and long beans in the curries too. Trust me, this dish does NOT disappoint!

Buttermilk Prawns

Another signature dish of the restaurant that you absolutely must try. Their Buttermilk Prawns really do surpass all else. First, they use the freshest Queensland prawns they can find and it makes a difference. It's huge, succulent and the wok fire really brought out the flavours of the prawns into the sauce.

Personally, I almost never, ever order prawns in restaurants Melbourne. Only because 90% of the time they're too tasteless, bland and artificially tender from being overladen with bicarb soda, I can't stand it. THANKFULLY, there's none of that nonsense here at all in this restaurant!

Now, the sauce... The ohhh sooo good and delectable sauce. Thick, slightly sticky with just the right amount of sweetness. Lip smackingly good! I highly recommend a plate of Roti to accompany soaking up the amazing sauce of the curry and prawns.

Crispy, flaky Roti. For your sauce-soaking pleasure

Sizzling Homemade Egg Tofu

A dish that I still enjoy eating even though the skin is slightly soggy. They serve it on a bed of spinach and mushrooms which is nice. Tofus are homemade too.

Sambal Kangkung

What I like most about this is that their kangkung dishes is that they're never overcooked and still crunchy. Also, the sauce is fantastic. More flavourful because the sambal is made with more "Belachan" aka "fermented shrimp paste" than chillies. One of the better Sambal Kangkungs in Melbourne, I say.

Deep-Fried Ice Cream

Oh man, if you haven't had Deep-Fried Ice Cream before, you're missing out. Perfect dessert to end a fantastic meal. Their batter is thick, soft but still crispy. As for the Vanilla ice cream, they've added shredded coconuts too, just to make it more Malaysian. Finally, the dessert is drizzled in a bit of honey which blends in so well with everything else. Love this.

Overall, we couldn't be more satisfied with our meal here. It's got all our hometown favourite dishes but done exceptionally well. Every time I bring people to eat here for their first time, our table always seems to be filled with moans and excitement from people going, "MMMmmmMMM" or "YUM!!!" it's kinda funny lol.

This restaurant thrives so well for a few reasons:
1) The food is seriously good and quality is consistent!
2) It's a small, family-owned restaurant where the Mum and Daughter still works the front of house every night
3) They take pride in using the best and freshest ingredients, especially the fish and prawns

This place is really somewhere my Family and I never fail to enjoy, and I'm so glad to be able to share it with you today. You know what, I've actually been back here the past two Sundays haha. With two different groups of friends, of course. Anyway, if you're looking for a really good Malaysian restaurant in Melbourne, look no further because this is it.

- Come here for Dinner
- Pre-booking of the Claypot Curry Fish Head is ESSENTIAL
- The pot of curry is big and feeds about 4 - 6 eaters
- There's a difference between Coconut Butter Prawns and Buttermilk Prawns (made this mistake before and the latter is the one you want!)
- The Claypot Curry Fish Head & Buttermilk Prawns aren't actually on the menu but written in Chinese on the menu on the wall. You have to order these dishes! Otherwise, you'd be missing out...

I hope you give this place a go one day because I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Have a good one, everybody. Peace!

Kuala Lumpur on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 6, 2012

Chin Chin, CBD

NOTE: ALL the photos in this post was taken by my cousin and VERY-soon-to-be hubby (but edited by me), because I accidentally deleted ALL my photos of this meal from my camera before uploading them to my computer. Bah!! Aren't they boootifuuul...? All credits for these amazing photos goes to both of them =]

Howdy, y'all!

I know I'm a little late to the party, but I'm glad I FINALLY got the chance to blog about Chin Chin even though this meal happened over 6 months ago (along with the butt load of other reviews still sitting in my drafts folder). It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I hadn't caught up with my cousin for so long. And neither of us had tried Chin Chin before so we were all really looking forward to it.

Okay, seriously. Who hasn't heard of this place? It's been the talk of the town on Urbanspoon and also word-of-mouth from friends for yonks. But, I must be honest. When I think of Chin Chin, I can't help but think of Ms G's in Sydney too, and vice versa. These two restaurants are soooo similar to one another in too many ways and I'll explain why another day. Another restaurant that I have yet to blog about (because it's awesome!!!).

First of all, I think the whole interior is set out really well. High ceilings, good table layout with an even better bar. The buzz of the restaurant really does bode well with its reputation of being a "hip and happening" restaurant in Melbourne's CBD.

Now, let's get on to the FOOD...


Kingfish Sashimi with Lime, Chilli, Coconut and Thai Basil -- $14

Beautiful dish. Fish was fresh and so were the strong contrasting flavours that seemed to come together in absolute harmony. Nice.


Chin Chin Pork "Roll Ups" -- $18
(red braised suckling pigs with pancakes, slaw and sour herbs)

This was really tasty. The pork had just enough of fats to give it more moisture and flavour without being too rich.

Oh and you should know that our table was pretty funny because the 3 of us had our Canon DSLRs and was crazily snapping away at everything in sight lol. That's me at the right ;p


Crispy Skinned Mandarin Duck -- $33
(braised in Master Stock with yellow bean)

Beautiful on the plate. Skin was still crisp and the meat was just alright with the wings a tad overcooked. This dish wasn't bad but neither was it "wow".

"Scud City" That's Real Hot! Jungle Curry -- $30
(with Moreton Bay Bugs, pickled garlic and ginger)

I'm sorry that we didn't have a nicer photo of this! I did have a really good one but it got lost UGH. Shame...

Anyway, this dish was a huge miss. I get that it wasn't the creamy curry but that we're normally used to but more so like a light broth with a lot of aromatics in it. Similar to the Northeastern Thai cuisine I had at House in Sydney. Still, it was only spicy but really tasteless. Bugs were so mushy, unfresh and bland as well.

The additional roti that we ordered was pretty fail too. Not heated through properly and still tough and doughy. Really...?


Palm Sugar Ice Cream Sundae -- $14
(with salted honeycomb and lime syrup)

This was amazing. The texture of the ice cream was phenomenal unlike anything I've had before. It was so smooth and creamy yet had sort of a chewy, elastic bite. And the addition of lime syrup to this dessert was pure genius.

Overall, I'm glad I finally got to give this place a go because now I know. However, there's a couple of reasons why I actually WON'T be coming back, at least not anytime soon.

First, even though we went there just as they opened for lunch and before it got busy, there was a 1.5 hour wait JUST for our first entree to arrive. Then about another 30min for the rest to come. Even though we had a great time catching up, it was seriously WTH. This was WAY too long... C'mon. And I don't think many people could afford to take more than a 2 hour lunch, honestly. Thank goodness I had fantastic company with me. Still, this was quite a huge turn off.

And though they had a few good and some okay dishes (with the dessert being most memorable), but the mains were a pretty big flop. They really are better for their entrees and dessert. Still, it's not like this place was super cheap or as affordable to make me want to come back again anyway. And I'm not some hissy diner who can't wait for a table, because I'm not. I've waited way longer than this before. I just found that this time round, it wasn't as worth the wait as compared to, say, my meal at Porteño.

I know, I know that there really are some signature dishes that I didn't get to taste but given the price and the wait and not-so-great dining experience, I think I'll pass because I don't think I'd be too keen to try them soon anyway. Let's just say I'm prolly one of the few people who's not really on the "Chin Chin-fanboy-bandwagon" for now. Sorry...?

Hope no one is too taken aback by what I'm saying here. It's just my personal opinion but I did realise later that there's a fair number of people who felt the same way about this place too. Despite everything, I really did have an AMAZING catch up with J and H (who's getting MARRIED tomorrow omg!!), so I appreciated that a lot. We had a blast just chatting away even though our food took forever to come.

So there you go. My "verdict" on Melbourne's most talked about restaurant. My meal at Ms G's (whom I regard as Chin Chin's Sydney counterpart), however, was something else. Must say that it was a lot better (food et al.). Seriously can't wait to blog about that someday, so stay tuned! Hope you're having a fantastic long Easter weekend, everybody!

Chin Chin on Urbanspoon