Monday, October 22, 2012

The Table Restaurant, St Kilda

Daisy, Julie and I
LOL at Mr GG's photo bomb at the right hahaha...
Photo creds to Julie (Gourmet Getaways)! 

The past few months for me has been seriously fantastic. I'm sure that most bloggers would agree that one of the best things about what we do is getting the chance to meet other amazing people in the community. Every single person I've been fortunate enough to meet so far has been nothing short of friendly, encouraging and just downright cool to hang out with. 

This was no exception when Daisy and I finally got the chance to catch up with Julie (of Gourmet Getaways), during her recent weekend trip to Melbourne. I was particularly excited about this get-together because I've gotten to know Julie for quite sometime now and she's one of the kindest people I've gotten to know through this blog!

Also, I was really glad to finally dine at The Table Restaurant because I seriously could NOT stop thinking about this place after Yasmeen first told me about it when we caught up a few weeks back. It was a great afternoon spent. We had a nice looong lunch (about 3.5 hrs or longer lol) and just couldn't stop chatting away. It was also really great to have Brett (Julie's husband), Rachel & Scott (Julie's friends) and Ricky (Daisy's partner) there that day........

..........Yep. I was was the 7th Wheel that afternoon hahahah....... Not my first time, my friend... ANYWAY.

2010 Poggiotondo, Rosato (Rose) Toscana, Italy -- $42.00

Nice! Really light and smooth, makes for a great "day time" wine. Good choice by Julie. 

House Made Warm Blue & White Corn Tortillas with Three Salsa's & Guacamole -- $18.50

This was absolutely SMASHING!! The salsas were all so fresh and vibrant, I almost felt like the flavours were dancing off my palates. 

But the BEST thing about these were those darn homemade tortillas. Hot dang... They were AMAZING. Thick, crunchy and piping hot. Perfect for scooping up the salsas without breaking.

They were very similar to the homemade chinese prawn crackers I grew up with, where it's made almost like a biscuit dough at first, before it's sliced up then fried. Brett actually saw them making it when they walked in too, how cool. Seriously good. We ordered an extra bowl as soon as we finished the first one. Please order this.


Poached Scampi in Agave and Tequila with Avocado Panna Cotta & Radish -- $8.00

GREAT. Scampis were delicious and had so much flavour from the poaching liquid, while retaining the natural sweetness of the crustacean. Everything else came together beautifully, loved this so much.

Confit Duck with Smoked Chipotle, Roasted Tomato & Savoy Cabbage -- $6.50

DELICOUS. So moist, flavourful. Everything married together beautifully, once again.

Braised Beef Cheek in Mole & Fried Plantain with White Bean Puree & Coriander -- $6.50

Awesome! It really was. Nice finish from the coriander too.

Masa Harina Battered Pinky Snapper, Avocado Puree & Pico de Gallo -- $6.00

Seriously good. Great quality dish and leaves you wanting more. Ohhh and the sauce... Another winner of a dish. YUM.

Salmon with Flaked Quinoa Crumble, Agave & Chipotle Glaze, Crème Fraîche Parfait -- $15.00

Amazing! I could eat the chipotle and crème fraîche all day long and the salmon bits were perfectly crunchy and chewy. Delish~

Roasted Duck Breast, Duck Rillettes Tostada, Agave Cabbage, Date & Tequila Puree -- $36.00

Omg can you see how the duck is so delicately pink and glistening? The duck breasts were honestly cooked to perfection, not one second too early or too late. Also, the agave cabbage was a creative and delicious idea. Generous portions too!

Crispy Pork Belly, Scallop, White Bean & Manchego Sopes, Quinoa, Mango & Jalapeno Puree -- $37.50

Flippin' awesome! We were saying how we loved that for once, they gave us a huge slab of pork belly, instead of a few measly slices (as many places do). They were great. Skin was slightly charred, just the way I like it.

BEST part was pairing the pork with the sweet, sticky, yummy Mango & Jalapeno puree. Another innovative feat on their part. I so preferred this 10 folds over the usual pork and apple puree combo. BEST.

Those scallops melted with cheese in a biscuit case things were cute too.

Patzcuaro Hot Chocolate with Milagro Anejo, Bahlrona Chocolate Fondant & Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream -- $19.00

Strictly for adults only. Rich, hot chocolate spiked with tequila... WAHEYYYY!

Cardamom Spiced Pana Cotta with Tequile & Agave Poached Figs, Hazelnut Tortilla -- $17.00

GREAT!! I always prefer my panna cottas like these, in semi-liquid form. Can't stand the overly stiff, waxy and rubbery ones with too much gelatin. This was perfect, like an almost set custard with great flavours. Moreish and hard to put our spoons down.

Fried Corn & Coconut Tamale with Coconut Ice Cream with Wild Berry Compote & Blood Orange Consomme -- $16.50

YUM! The crispy fried corn tamale was nicely paired with the ice cream (in great ratio too, I thought). Refreshing compote and consomme too.

I couldn't believe that ALL those amazing food was prepared by that single chef in this tiny, open kitchen. RESPECT!!!

Capping off an excellent meal...
Photo creds to Julie (Gourmet Getaways)! 

Overall, GREAT Modern Mexican food experience (lots of agave, tequila and chipotle in the cooking woo-hoo). I truly enjoyed each and every dish we had that day. There was nothing I liked more than the other, they were ALL top notch. Unique, different, perfectly executed and very, very well thought out. Even down to the idea and ingredients they used (just read the description of each dish). There were a lot of things you wouldn't get anywhere else, like quinoa crumble, jalapeno puree, scampi in agave & tequila, manchego sopes, etc etc... 

Anyhoo, this place is more on the pricey end but if you actually look at how much effort went into each and every single component of the dish, it's really worth it. For me, I don't mind paying a little extra for meals that are different and interesting, like this. Once in a blue moon, anyway. 

Also, the food was WAY more sophisticated than the decor gave it credit for. I'll be honest, when I first walked in, I did find it to look a biiiiiit tacky haha... But man, the food really knocked it out of the park. One of the best meals I've had in a long time and it's been awhile since I walked away from a restaurant with this feeling. Will DEFINITELY be back for more.

Though, thing that boggles me is why tacos in Melbourne are all so damn expensive. $6.00-$7.00 for something smaller than the palm of my hand. Seems like it's the same everywhere else. Granted, the tacos here were all absolute winners in their own right and so delicious I'd happily order them all again. Not even surprised if some may say this is the best Mexican in Melbourne.

Wanna thank Julie, Daisy and everyone else again for their fantastic company! I really had an unforgettable time with you both and I'm so glad that Food Blogging brought us all together. Definitely look forward to the next time we get to eat together again.

If you like, do check out Julie's post on The Table Restaurant: here. Her photos are incredible!

Till next time... Peace!

The Table Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tokyo Teppanyaki, South Yarra + Groupon GIVEAWAY!!

Teppanyaki, baby!


When Groupon first approached me to kindly ask if I would review one of their restaurants so that they could assess the restaurant options they're listing, I wasn't sure how I felt about that to be honest. On one hand, I liked the idea of helping them improve the quality of offerings to customers. On the other, there seem to be an unspoken "taboo" from the blogosphere for participating in too many sponsored posts for fear of being labelled "commercialised". It's true...

After (very) much thought, I realised it was really silly to not do something if your only concern was what others might say about you, when you yourself know perfectly well what your blog stands for, more than anyone else. At the same time, I was very persuaded to do this because I personally know people who actually buy Groupon vouchers regularly and that this would really interest them and actually be a huge benefit to them, in one way or another. That, to me, makes it all worth it. Plus, it's always great to work with different people and build connections, IMO...

Can you see how it really is a journey when it comes to (re)-discovering and (re)-affirming the identity of our blog? 

Anyway, SO glad that I went because I got to experience my very first live Teppanyaki dining experience (where the chef cooked and does awesome tricks/games in front of you). Always wanted to go! Also got to make a FUN day out of it as I brought 3 of my really good friends to dine with me at Tokyo Teppanyaki in Chapel Street on a nice, sunny afternoon... Hurrah! 

BIG shoutout to my mate Julian for putting a video together just for this post so we could share our uber fun Teppanyaki meal with you guys. Love itttt...!!

The voucher was for the Osaka Set which usually costs $65 per head (without sake) but on Groupon it costs $27 per person INCLUDING SAKE. Here's what we had... =)

Course #1: Spring Roll, Salmon and Avocado Sushi, Chicken Karaage

LOVE the concept of having an assortment of entrees on individual plates, just feels more cute and personal. Loved everything on the plate. Chicken: good. Sushi: good. But the spring rolls.... YUM!! After that, I was so tempted to ask the waitress if I could have like 10 more of them rolls lol.

Course #2: Miso Soup

Good as well. Right amount of Miso/saltiness and always comforting to have...

Hot sake!

Love sake!! Doesn't burn down your throat (despite being hot) like most liquor but it's smooth and excellent to slowly sip on throughout the meal.

Course #3: King Prawns

Omg these prawns were SO darn tender and succulent. Awesome knife skillz were involved when making this too. It was perfectly cooked and every mouthful was a delight, with a slight crunch too. LOVE.

Course #4: Tenderloin Steak

Wait till you see you see what happens next...


Lots of "ooohs, aaaahs" and camera action going on for sure

So beautiful...


I read somewhere that the BEST way to enjoy good quality beef (like Wagyu) was in strips or cubes, then seared all over so that the meat juices caramelises the meat, which is exactly what happened here. Let me tell you, that blazing flame really did wonders to the flavour/texture of this beautiful piece of meat! Wow.

Meat was SO darn tender that it was effortless to bite apart, and it was nice and bouncy too! Was savouring each piece so much. Some of us even wondered if it could be Wagyu because it was SO tender. Friggin amazing, this one.

Course #5: Calamari

Enjoyed this a lot too!! Thick, but still chewy and springy, which I enjoy. Great smokey flavour from the teppanyaki plate. Yum.

Then, midway through our meal, the chef did something unexpected...

We were wondering what it was until he told us it was omelette rolls for a game he'd like to play with us... LOL

The game was SO funny you'll have to watch the video at the end to see what games we played... It was hilarious!

Course #6: Chicken Thighs

Nice. Juicy, tender and perfectly glazed with teriyaki and garlic butter. 

After this, the chef asked if we were ready for our next game. And here's the funny bit: When it came to my turn, he asked me to stand far away at the counter near the entrance. I thought he was joking so I laughed along, but apparently he wasn't. LOL. The challenge was for me to catch a bowl of fried rice from halfway across the room! NUTS!! Again, you gotta checkout the vid below to see how it all went down...

Course #7: Teppanyaki Fried Rice

Lovely. Beautiful smokiness from the scorching hot grill, which elevated an otherwise plain bowl of fried rice to a whole new level. Loved how the rice was slightly nice and buttery too, mmm...

Course #8: Beansprouts

Another simple, yet deliciously cooked dish. Wouldn't have this veg any other way. 


The aftermath from another table...


To cap off, I really, really enjoyed the meal here at Tokyo Teppanyaki. It was fun, interactive and most of all... DELICIOUS. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of meats too, to be honest! Every dish was great but the winner really was, without a doubt, the AMAZING beef tenderloin... Whoahhh. 

Will I be back? Most definitely! In fact, I think it's a great place to celebrate a birthday, with 6 - 7 of your good friends while sharing laughs/games over delicious food and sake. Also found out that they've actually been open for more than 20 years. Anyway, I'd definitely recommend people looking out for the voucher at Groupon so they can enjoy this meal at a very affordable price! Thank you, Groupon for such a splendid meal. We really had a great time here.

For more information on Groupon's deals in Melbourne, click: HERE
If you'd like to find other Japanese restaurant deals in Melbourne, click: HERE

Finally, do check out the short video Juls put together of all our games that day for all of you to enjoy... See whether I embarrassed myself in public or not, HAHA!!

Tokyo Teppanyaki on Urbanspoon



On top of that, Groupon would also like to giveaway a $50 voucher to any of YOU!! Woooo-hooooo~~

And all you need to do is leave a comment below for a chance to win! 

Now, the rules:
- Competition closes 7pm, 31st October
- Open to Australian residents only
- May enter once a day, as many times throughout competition
- Winner will be chosen at random and announced on my Facebook page

Gooood luck!! =)

Disclaimer: Winston and friends dined at Tokyo Teppanyaki courtesy of a voucher from Groupon. All opinions are honest and based on own personal experience at the time.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cumulus Inc, CBD


Apologies for my lack of updates of late. It's almost the end of semester and things are seriously getting outta controooool... As much as I find this to be the most interesting/enjoyable semester I've ever had, I honestly cannot wait to graduate in December and move on from uni for good. Let's just say, it's been a long ride and I'm ready for my next chapter. 

Question: How many of you working folks actually prefer studying over work?

Anyhoo, a few of my friends and I got together a while ago to celebrate our friend Ming's birthday. Seemed like a fitting place for a special occasion. Plus, we thought it'd be fun/delicious to get the famous roasted lamb shoulder to share. 

The first time I came to Cumulus was actually 3 years ago (long time, I know), and it was for lunch with my mate Chris. We ordered the braised/crumbed pig's tail and rabbit stew from the specials menu that day and it was DELICIOUS. So, I was quite interested in coming back to see how it'd fair since then... 

 Complimentary bread to start

These went quickly from the table. Partly because we were starving from being seated so late. Also, it was lovely. 

Moonlight en Surface -- $4.50
The Rusty Wire -- $5.00

I'll admit, the only reason why I wanted to try the moonlight oyster was because I thought it sounded cool (what a sucker lol). I loved the slippery and crunchy texture of the oyster. Very clean and natural flavours too. Good.

Rusty Wire:
Tasted quite strong of briny water of the sea. It wasn't bad but I still preferred the first one.

Grilled octopus, smoked paprika & basil -- $10.00

Liked this! Chewy but not tough little bite sized pieces which went well with the aioli-like sauce. The smoked paprika really shone through in this one for me. Nice.

Tuna tartare with crushed green pea salad -- $32.00

GREAT!! Nicely sized chunks for you to really taste the tuna. Crunchy fresh peas and goats cheese curd was seriously delicious. Not as sharp, tart or strong but adds creaminess and flavour against the tuna. Nice. But pricey =/

Boudin noir, smoked tomato & parsley salad -- $14.00

Slightly creamier than most of the other blood sausages I've had but still as rich and flavourful. Only wished they had introduced a mort tart or acidic salad/slaw to counter the intensity of the sausage. Or maybe a light drizzle of vinaigrette would be JUST nice. Just to add moisture to the dish too.

Fried soft-shelled crab with lettuce and kimchi mayo -- $21.00

This was really disappointing to me. My piece was really soggy and a tad salty. Also so undercooked that I swear I could've mistaken it for rubbery, uncooked flour/batter, seriously. Whyyyyyyyy...

 I didn't like the taste of the kimchi mayo too and thought it wasn't right for the dish. The lettuce really didn't do much for me, either. Bad crabs and weird combo all round. 

Whole slow roasted lamb shoulder to share -- $69.00

Finally! The dish we've been waiting for...

It was... Nice. Except for the outer edges of the shank, every part of the lamb was really moist and tender. I saved the skin till the end and it made me soooo happy when I put it in my mouth. Crunchy and melting fats. 

Though, I must say that the roast lamb I had at Porteño in Sydney last year reaaaally set the bar quite high. Still the best I ever had, by far. Still, I quite enjoyed this. Though, I couldn't help but feel it was a bit too simple of a dish (very much doable at home) to be charging us $69.

Would've been nice to have some sides/salads to complement the amount of meat we were having. The small serve of picked onions in red wine vinegar was good, but not enough to go around.

Spiced eggplant, sheep's milk yoghurt & pomegranate -- $16.00

Lots of flavour from the spices. Served cold and the dollops of yogurt and scattered pomegranate fruit went quite pleasantly together. Interesting.

To cap off, damage was $45.00 per person. Fair (I guess), considering we ate a lot. Though, I still found the tuna and lamb shoulder a bit overpriced. 

Am I particularly fond/crazy over Cumulus Inc? Surprisingly not. 

The truth of the matter is that I definitely had a bit of trouble deciding what I'd like from the menu, because the choices for the mains were really limited and there wasn't much else that particularly excited me from the menu. Even though I really enjoyed the octopus and tuna dish, it wasn't enough to make me say it was a great meal. Everything else was........okay. Even the lamb was good but nothing fantastic, I feel. Just baked with salt for a very long time.

In fact, I really wish they'd bring back those 2 dishes I had a looong time ago (the pig's tail and rabbit stew) because those were SOOOO good and would've made the menu a lot more interesting. I still think about them till now. They cook the food well (apart from the soft-shelled crab), but still not too big a fan of the usual dinner menu. Just sayin'.

Anyway, hope you're all eating well wherever you are... Please stay tuned for the next post because it's going to be an EXCITING one, weeeeeeee~! 

Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon