The Last Jar, North Melbourne
Crispy pig's ear - $5
Pot of Sea bounty mussels, cider, parsley and dill - $16
Special of the Day: Fried zucchini flowers
Beer battered fish, chips, tartare sauce and mushy peas - $16
Roasted Milawa chicken, butter roasted potato, ham hock coleslaw - $27
300g Cape Grim grass fed onglet - $26
Dublin coddle - $19
I've developed a strong liking towards The Last Jar after my first visit earlier this year. So much so that I decided to take my Mum and Sister here as well. If you're unfamiliar of this place, The Last Jar is an Irish pub that serves pretty decent food.
On both visits, I think that the standout dishes are the mussels and roast chook. The mussels hit the spot each time. Plump, juicy and succulent. I know that these 3 adjectives mean the same thing, but it was a point that I'd like to stress. I should mention that the sauce was delicious, too. That aside, the Milawa chicken dish is one of the best chicken dishes in Melbourne IMHO. First, it is seriously succulent and has the crispiest skin. The portions are so massive and it is just a dish that is great, great value for money. Most people that come here and have tried would agree. The other dishes are okay but still had room for improvement.
Overall, I think The Last Jar is a very casual, relaxed and fuss free place to come to in the CBD. Few standout dishes with a few more that could be better. Still, decent gastropub affair that is good value for money too. A pretty good spot to come to on a Friday or when you're not sure where to go in the CBD.
Aoba Japanese Cafe, Malvern
Salmon Sashimi Platter (10 pieces) - $13
GK Box - $14.50
(Chicken karaage, gyoza, agedeshi tofu, rice and miso soup)
Chef Special - $15.00
(Chicken karaage, spring rolls and fresh sashimi tuna in spicy sauce)
I catch up with my friend A from time to time. What I like about our hangouts is that it is normally pretty spontaneous. It started last year when we found out that we both were working late on a Friday night and decided to grab dinner together since it was about 8pm and neither of us could be bothered to go home to cook. After that, we started doing this more on a regular basis. The other fun thing about this is that we always end up picking a place that neither of us has ever been before.
Aoba was one of those occasions that happened earlier this year. We were due for our occasional catchup so I did some research and suggested that we gave this place a go since it was highly rated on Urbanspoon and also located in Malvern -- a suburb that we don't venture into enough.
Aoba is a really tiny shop with a few tiny tables squished together. It is solely operated by one waiter and one chef cooking in a tiny kitchen at the back. The setup was very basic, but had a strong personal and inviting touch. It felt as though we were dining in the Japanese couple's home.
As for the food, I think they are quite popular for their bento boxes and rice sets -- which I always enjoy. Food was prepared well and we both enjoyed our meal here. Simple, straight to the point and reasonably priced. Definitely would come back here again.
Fukuryu Ramen, CBD
(thick and creamy)
(rich and savoury with butter)
Pork Gyoza - $5
Pork Belly Plate - $5
It doesn't take long before word goes around that there's a new ramen joint in town. Dave and Lib first told me about Fukuryu Ramen when they first opened. I was there in the first week because they were selling all ramen for only $6 as part of their promotion for their soft launch.
My first impression was that it was nice and spacious with ample room for comfort. Very quiet and relaxed too. There wasn't anyone in line to order so the staff were beaming at you the moment you walked in.
The ramen broth was really good. It was really bold, distinct with strong depth of flavour. I was very impressed by this. The ramen noodles could've been a bit more undercooked or el dente for my liking but it was still tasty nonetheless. There wasn't as much ingredients in my bowl but then again, many ramen places aren't generous in this department as well. Plus, we were only paying $6 per bowl at the time. If that was more than $10 for what I was getting, then I'd have something else to say…
Gyoza was disappointing as it had a lacklustre skin and filling but the grilled pork was amazing. So fragrant and charred to perfection, whilst being so moist and tender. Overall, I was quite impressed by the broth of the ramens here. They gave me a side of the chilli soy bean paste to dip my meat in too, which tasted awesome.
Although, I did come at a really premature stage of the business when barely anyone have heard about them. Ever since then, this place has completely blown up all over the food scene with long lines of people waiting in the streets, running out of ingredients and quality not up to par at times. It sounds rough but I don't blame them one bit. It is very difficult for businesses to keep up with the sudden surge of demand (especially when it hit them all of a sudden) but what I do know is that they try their best. It was good when I went, so I believe they do have potential. I'm sure they still have a bit of a learning curve before they really find their ground but they'll get there.
The other good thing I do enjoy about this place is that they keep things exciting by always introducing new promotions, side dishes and ramen options for people to enjoy (such as nori fries, dry ramen, vegetarian ramen, pork belly rice, etc etc). Initiatives like these always keep customers like us wanting to come back for more. I know that they've only just started out so I wish them all the best in their endeavours.