Sunday, March 23, 2014

Clearing Out My Backlog - Part 3

Wat Da Pho, South Melbourne

I often refer to this resto as the "hipster pho place", which I totally don't mind it being

Jackfruit Smoothie - $5.50

Da Sticks (with Caramelised Coriander Pork) - $9

Pho (Sliced Beef, Beef Brisket, Beef Balls) - $10.80

I've been to Wat Da Pho on 4 occasions by now. Even though the Pho isn't the best in Australia but there's reasons why I keep coming back and would suggest this place to catchup with friends: location and ambience.

My friends and I always come here to get our own bowl of noodle while we would share the caramelised coriander pork skewers to start. These skewers have been off the chain 3 out of 4 times. Incredibly tender, charred and flavourful, so delicious. Then, there was that one time when it did come out a bit too sweet and tough.

In terms of the Pho, I do like the fact that they don't use MSG in their stock at all (believe it or not). Their Pho is decent in taste and size and does the trick. Sure, I would prefer the stock to be a bit more punchy with the beef flavour but most Pho restaurants fail to do this as well anyway.

Personally, I know the food here isn't nearly as good as the ones in Footscray or Richmond (but sometimes, it's close). But, the fact of the matter is that I LOVE that there's a place now that's close to the city with a clean, cool and comfortable environment for me to enjoy Pho (without having to drive all the way to Footscray at night which I dread and dine at a less than comfortable setting) any night of the week. The place is cool, very cool. I call this the "hipster pho" place and is such a good place to catchup with friends over an easy bowl of pho. 

As much as I like the ones at Footscray, I wouldn't necessarily be able to hang out as long and freely as I could here. Which is why, Wat Da Pho fills the need for people who want to enjoy decent pho but is more forgiving with the food itself since it's a nice place to enjoy your meal.

Wat Da Pho on Urbanspoon

Yokoso Izakaya, Moonee Ponds

Aburi Hotate - $9.00
(Seared scallops with japanese citrus ponzu sauce & spices)

Crispy Wagyu - $10.50
(Crumbed wagyu beef ball with Japanese tartar & BBQ sauce)

Yakiyaki Platter - $18.50
(Tori chicken, Wagyu beef, ebi prawn, sake salmon, kinoko mushroom, yasai vege mix)

Double Salmon Roll - $9.50
(4 pieces of salmon roll with avocado and cucumber topped with seared salmon and mayo)

Chirashi Salad - $18.50
(Mixed sashimi on green salad with tobiko and mayo sauce)

Chocolate Spring Roll - $9.50
(Chocolate spring rolls served with green tea ice cream)

Yokoso Izakaya was a place that I've wanted to try for the longest time as I drove past it to and from work every single day for 1 1/2 years. It's always caught my attention from the outside so I brought Mum here when she was last here in November. First, let me just say getting a parking to eat in the area took us 45 minutes on a Friday night. You would think that it'd be easier as it was 9:30pm by then but noooo it was still near impossible. Definitely never spent so long circling for a parking in my life.

When we walked in, the place was packed and buzzing. Filled with young people and young families out on a Friday night. I liked it. To sum up, I am sad to report that the food here was rather underwhelming in general but did have a few standout dishes.

Highlight was definitely the crumbed wagyu which was incredibly crunchy on the outside and bursting with juices on the inside. Their homemade tartar sauce was so rich and flavourful yet zesty too and it tasted amazing. Mum and I LOVED this. It was great. We also enjoyed the chocolate spring rolls very much and commended them on their clever innovation.

Downside was everything else. The skewer platter was not good at all. Chicken - dry. Prawn - like the frozen peeled ones you get at the supermarket. Salmon roll was bland and the salmon and rice completely lacked flavour. The chirashi salad was most disappointing of all as it looked amazing on the plate but tasted anything but. Sure, I liked the idea of it as it had a variety of seared seafood but we couldn't get past the fact that they put so much of a kind of soy sauce in their dressing that it ruined the dish completely and we couldn't taste anything but the overwhelming saltiness. 

Overall, this place has less hits and more misses so I doubt I'll be back as much as I loved the crumbed wagyu balls. 

Yokoso Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Shandong Mama, CBD 

Noodles with Prawn, Pork, Shredded Cucumber & Coriander in Bean Paste - $10.80

Noodles with Shredded Pork, Egg & Seasonal Vegetbles in Sesame Sauce - $10.80

Spicy Chicken Noodles - $8.90

Chive Omelette

Shandong Mama really is a dumpling restaurant like no other.

I find Chinese cuisine to be especially good when they're regional. And I like how that as you're browsing through the menu, you could tell feel that there's so much love in each dish because the entire menu and restaurant is dedicated to the owner's mother. It's rather endearing.

We completely let ourselves go and ordered so many dumplings, including the following:
- Aussie Lamb Fried Dumplings 
- DILL-icious Pork Fried Dumplings
- Mackarel Fried Fish Dumplings
- Melbourne Fried Dumplings
- Beef Dumplings
- Steamed Dumplings

The dumplings here are definitely different from any other dumpling restaurant that we've been to in terms of flavour and appearance. But boy oh boy were they DAMN good or what. The skin is thin and silky but still retained a chewy bite before being fried till crisp. All the fillings were absolutely delicious. Not too heavy and each had a very distinct personality. Favourite was definitely the mackarel fish dumplings and everything else was a close second. Equally amazing.

The noodles really surprised us as well, to be honest. Absolutely LOVED the bean paste and also sesame sauce noodles. They, too, had a slippery mouthfeel and a slight chewy resistance in the bite. The black bean one was so simple yet flavourful and I liked the little prawn chunks you get in the occasional bite. The sesame one too was very interesting as it had strong nutty flavour and the addition of raw garlic seemed odd but completely lifted the dish to another level. We enjoyed the noodles almost as much as the dumplings.

Shandong Mama has really proven itself to be a frontrunner in the Melbourne food scene. It's simple and fuss free but produces damn good food at a reasonable price. I enjoy my visits here each time and am hoping to come back again soon. You have to try Shandong Mama if you haven't been... You won't regret it.

Shandong Mama on Urbanspoon

Proud Mary, Collingwood

Potato Hash - $18.00
(Charred kale, double smoked bacon and an organic poached egg with bagna cauda)

Roasted Mushrooms - $16.50
(Chipotle butter, brioche, whipped goats cheese and a poached egg)

Crispy Pork Belly Sandwich - $15.00
(with smoked paprika reliash and aioli)

Frank and Beans - $17.50
(House pork and fennel sausage, saffron beans, poached egg, garlic fried sourdough)

Avocado - $16.50
(Avocado on farmhouse toast, charred corn, spanish onion & quinoa tabouleh, goats cheese & chilli oil)

Everybody has been telling me that I should go and try Proud Mary. I didn't actually go for the longest time until last October and have been there 3 times in total to date.

I first tried the famous Potato Hash and do agree that it's a tasty and complete dish. Every element served its purpose to make my tummy happy and satisfied. I do enjoy the roasted mushroom dish too but do sometimes find that they give way too much of the goats cheese and brioche can get very soggy and oily if you don't eat it quickly enough. 

The dishes at Proud Mary do hit the spot so I do see why it is always packed and is a favourite amongst many. The food is consistent in quality and comes out from the kitchen surprisingly quick! It's for these reasons why I do think it is a safe place to take friends and family from out of town here for brunch and chances are they will find something they like here.

But if I were to be perfectly honest, I still prefer the food at Breakfast Thieves or Twenty & Six Espresso despite this place being a crowd favourite.

Proud Mary on Urbanspoon

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