Brim CC is a no-frill Japanese restaurant that serves up a range of home-cooked comfort meals, including their famous curries, which you can have paired with a salad or a soup; omurice, udon and the like.
The decor is minimal to say the least, with tables that could fit around ten to fifteen diners. Although simple, it was very welcoming. There was bookshelf to browse through, and a Japanese map made with stuffed cloth, highlighting some of the attractions you could find in different prefectures of Japan.
It was quite a humid day, which meant that I had to pass up on the curry to prevent myself from sweating up a storm, and settled for the titular bento box instead.
The bento plate, rather than box, reminded me of how versatile Japanese food can be. The plate was filled with Japanese potato salad, rice balls, meatball, tofu topped with a sweet miso sauce, and a carrot salad.
Everything was cooked with love and care, and I especially enjoyed the miso sauce. It was a nutritious meal that left me feeling satisfied but not stuffed.
Brim CC is nothing fancy, but the food here reminds me of dishes that can only be cooked by a mum, delicious and nutritious. Maybe it’s not a great place to impress a date, but on nights that you’re not quite feeling up to the task of cooking yourself, this is the perfect place to be. Oh, and the fact that most dishes cost under $15 definitely doesn’t hurt either.
How to get here: Brim CC is located on Little Collins Street, a short 5 minutes walk from Southern Cross Station.
Some food trends come and go, but Korean fried chicken is here to stay, and I’m all for it – nothing brings satisfaction to the table quite like a plate of greasy chicken.
While there are some promising restaurants that can always be counted on, I had wanted to try out Goodovening for a while now. The restaurant had been packed on the few times that I had walked past, so we made sure to book beforehand.
The outdoor seating area was reminiscent of restaurants scattered on the streets of Seoul, being slightly elevated, lit dimly and the tables are set under clear covers, which means diners can sit outside all year round.
I have no idea what these were, and it’s hard to describe the taste. They were sort of tasteless to be honest, and quite hard, but were fun to nibble on nonetheless. We finished chewing on these quickly actually, and the waitress was more than happy to bring us more without us having to ask.
Of course, we had to test out the benchmark first with some fried chicken. The batter looked promising, and indeed had that light airiness that I have become accustomed to. We chose soy garlic for the flavoured half, and although the chicken had less sauce on it than other places, they were sweet and tangy, and the crispy batter was not compromised at all.
The chicken came with a cabbage coleslaw and we also order some chips ($5.00) with it, because hey, if you’re going to be frying chicken then you might as well fry some potatoes on the side!
Cheese make any food taste better, and Koreans are known for putting cheese over absolutely everything. The spicy chicken pieces were very punchy and had a nice kick to it, and the cheese added some creaminess to the dish.
Although nothing out of the ordinary, these rice balls were adorable and fun to eat with the chicken, and also helped to tame down the spiciness when needed.
We’ve gone all out at this point, so what’s one more chicken dish? Carbona chicken is exactly as it sounds; the pan was filled with boneless fried chicken, fries and cabbage, all served on top of a thick and creamy carbonara sauce. This was indulgent to say the least, with the crunchy chicken paired especially well with the richness of the sauce. We all thoroughly enjoyed each and every bite of this.
The dinner actually turned out to be a surprise birthday dinner for me, my friends had bought me my favourite cake from Bibelot, and it was a really enjoyable night for all of us. My friend had asked one of the waiter to put the cake in the fridge at the beginning of the meal, along with some candles. At the end of our meal, the same waiter came out and plopped the cake box in the middle of the table, without opening the box or clearing out our chicken bone filled plates first. I was so confused by this point, and my friend had to ask him to bring out the candles and a lighter in two separate attempts. I mean it was a little odd, but we all had a good laugh about it. It probably just came down to a matter of miscommunication, but I guess just make sure that you ask the waiter to bring out the cake more clearly if you were also celebrating a birthday?
We tried out three styles of chicken at Goodovening, and maybe that seems like a lot, but the extensive menu actually made it really difficult to narrow our choices down. I’m definitely looking forward to returning, although it’ll be hard to not order the Chicken Carbonara again, I will try to venture out and try out some of the other chicken dishes on offer.
How to get here: Goodovening is located on Queen Street, get off at Flagstaff station and the restaurant is around seven minutes walk away.
Shanklin Cafe has intrigued me for a while now with its crazy high rating of 4.9 on Zomato. After skipping out on brunching for a while, I decided that it was maybe time to restore my faith in what used to be my favourite meal of the day with a visit to Shanklin.
The interior was right up my alley, being set in a restored Victorian style building, and a front yard that was perfect to bring your furry friend to. The inside was equally as pretty, carrying through the rustic use of exposed bricks, with a feature wall of blue and pink mosaic-esque tiles.
It was quite a warm day, and my dining partner chose to have an iced latte. We were a little confused as to how this was served, with a shot of espresso coupled with a larger glass that seemingly already had some coffee in it. Regardless, it was an icy brew that gave the right amount of caffeine kick.
My usual order of flat white was equally satisfying, being a dark roast that was easy to sip on.
The portobello mushroom is said to be a must-order at Shanklin Cafe, and my friend was more than willing to try the dish, given her love towards mushrooms to start off with. The plate had a lot going on for it; the vibrant colour of the romesco sauce is what first stood out in the dish, which paired well with the earthiness of the juicy portobello mushrooms. The two poached eggs added sustenance, and the zaatar on both the mushrooms themselves and sprinkled over the top brought a Middle-Eastern touch.
Although not marked as such, I think this was a vegetarian dish, and a substantial one at that.
It’s always hard for me to say no when pork belly appears on the menu, and so it was a no-brainer to order the pork benny. The pieces of roasted pork belly was on the fatty side, which means that if you’re a eater of leaner cuts of meat, this may not be right for you. The hollandaise did prevent the dish from being too heavy though, and I did quite enjoy it.
Did I enjoy my meal at Shanklin? Sure. The food was hearty and classic, with innovative elements tied in. I did think that it was on the pricier side though, with most dishes being above the $20 mark, and if you were to order a drink too, the bill would easy rack up to around $30. That’s the thing with a lot of brunch places I think, not exactly over-priced, but not exactly bang for your buck either.
Maybe I’ve just grown out of the brunch phase, but I can’t really justify that sort of spending like I used to. I mean I’m still going to indulge in it here and there, but it certainly isn’t going to be a weekly thing anymore. Oh well, c’est la vie.
How to get here: Shanklin is located on Tooronga Road, catch the #75 tram and get off at Tooronga Road/Riversdale Road, and the cafe is three minutes walk away.
Italian food has become synonymous to summer days for me, since going to Italy itself is not happening anytime soon, I’ve settled for trying out some new Italian restaurants for the time being.
A25 has three locations in Melbourne already, and recently added some vegan options to their menu, which I was more than happy to try. The airy and funky space looked promising, and I was ready to dig in to some good ol’ pizza!
Aperol Spritz is my go-to drink in the warmer weather. It’s light, sparkling and fruity, what more can you ask for?
The truffles fries came with the pungent smell of truffle, which means you’re either going to love them or hate them. I am personally a huge fan of truffle, and thought these were delectable.
Featuring a range of grilled vegies, the pizza surely looked promising. I thought the vegan mozzarella was actually pretty decent, I mean sure, it doesn’t exactly give off the same creamy taste, but it did the job. The vegies were quite sweet after being roasted, especially in the case of the roasted pumpkin and capsicum, and this was offset nicely by the brininess from the olives scattered across the pizza.
With the titular A25 pizza touted as a favourite, I had to give it a go. The combination of prosciutto and fresh mozzarella is always a classic, and the homemade pesto and roasted pine nuts added some earthiness to the pizza.
With deals such as $15 pizza and pasta for weekday lunches, A25 has become a hotspot for those that work in offices closeby. Indeed, the outside terrace was filled with patreons grabbing a quick bite to eat during rush hour.
The expansion of the menu will certainly be appreciated by those that frequent the restaurant, as it means that they are able to bring friends who may have dietary requirements to dine with them, while still being able to get some traditional offerings themselves, a feat that has become harder to accomplish.
So next time you’re in need of a mixture of vagan and non-vegan options, why not give A25 a try in one of its three locations?
How to get here: I visited the South Yarra location of A25, which is on Chapel Street. Catch tram #78 and get off at Malcolm Street/Chapel Street, and the restaurant is right next to the tram stop. Alternatively, catch the train on the Sandringham line and get off at South Yarra, and A25 is around 10 minutes walk away.
I’m always down for a good piece of steak, and what better place to go than a place that has meat in its name?
The Meat and Wine Co specialises in an assorted array of meat dishes, that combines African and Australian cuisine, a fusion that is not commonly found in Melbourne.
The restaurant has several locations in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, and on this occasion, I paid a visit to its Hawthorn East location. The interior was filled with wood and leather, clearly a hub set perfectly for meat lovers.
It was a nice and warm day, and what better way to start your meal than a sweet cocktail. The raspberry beret had a mixture of vermouth and gin, ensuring that there was mixture of sweet and floral notes. The raspberry gave it a summery touch.
We shared an entree of wagyu tartare, something that I have grown to be fond of. The mixture of pickles and smoked yolk, when mixed through with the minced steak, lifted the heaviness of the meat. The addition of crackling meant that there was plenty of texture. My only gripe is the limited pieces of lavosh that the tartare was served with!
The Meat & Wine Co has its own exclusive source of beet – Monte, because why not? There was a range of different cuts available, and unfortunately, our waiter did not offer to explain them all to us. After some reading myself, I chose the 120 days grain fed piece of rump.
The steak certainly looked amazingly, with perfect char marks and all. It was quite juicy and tender, and did not have a strong beef flavour, which is what I expected. I asked for medium-rare, and did think that it was slightly overcooked.
The accompanying chips, on the other hand, were as good as thick cut chips can be, with the contrasting texture of a crunchy exterior paired with a fluffy interior.
We settled on the pork ribs for our other main. THe ribs were cooked perfectly, the sweet and sticky glaze meant that there were plenty bits of meat that were caramelised.
The side farm salad was simply yet refreshing, and prevented us from getting too guilty.
We shared an addition side of mac and cheese, a dish that never disappoints. The rustic interpretation that The Meat & Wine Co offered was quite mild in flavour, with some smokiness coming through from the charred cauliflower.
I certainly did enjoy my meal at The Meat & Wine Co. Although there was nothing especially innovative about the menu, each of the dish was executed well. I’m still on the hunt for that perfect piece of steak though, until next time.
How to get here: The Meat & Wine Co is located on Riversdale Road, around a 7 minutes walk from Camberwell Station; alternatively, catch tram #75 and get off at Camberwell Junction, and the restaurant is a minute walk away.
Dex2rose has been around for a few years now, and joined in all the fun with the nitrogen gelato craze. However, it has since ventured out into a range of other desserts too.
Crepe cakes will always have a special place in my heart. I’ve made it a couple of times at home, and it is truly an art getting the same consistently thin crepes each and every time while essentially burning your fingertips.
The matcha crepe cake was more decked out then say, the one at Jinda Thai, the plate was completed with a drizzle of matcha patissiere, white chocolate gelato, salted caramel popcorns, dollop of whipped cream, and fresh fruit. The plating was certainly well thought-out, and the flavours all worked well in unison. The red beans scattered through the crepe cake itself meant that there was some additional depth of flavour added to the creamy and silky cake, and the white chocolate gelato was not overly sweet on its own or when paired with the cake.
The hot chocolate set was probably the more gimmicky choice of the two desserts we had picked. Recreating something you would enjoy doing by the campfire meant that you could actual roast the marshmallows on the small burner, which was actually really exciting. The hot chocolate itself was lightly spiced, and the salted caramel gelato was a nice addition.
The desserts at Dex2rose were innovative but didn’t compensate in flavour either, a combination that has become harder to comeby in recent times.
I really enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere that Dex2rose offered. Although the space wasn’t too big, it was reasonably easy to grab a table that was made up of crates if you didn’t manage to score a proper table on the side. I will definitely be returning when we are looking for some crepe cakes around the city after dinner next time round.
How to get here: Dex2rose is located on Little Bourke Street, a short 5 minutes walk from Melbourne Central.
Secret Kitchen has been doing well in the Melbourne market, having opened several restaurants, ranging from those that offer a quick bite, to others that serve up a wide array of Chinese dishes in a modern and sleek setting.
Today, I will be recounting my visit to the latter of the two varieties, where I had yum cha on a weekend, something that I definitely don’t do enough. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, yum cha is popular in the Guangzhou province and Hong Kong in particular, the idea is that waiters and waitresses will be pushing carts filled with plates of goodies around the restaurant, and when they reach you, you make pick at your heart’s desire. It can be quite overwhelming at times, given the large variety of dishes, but it is something worth trying.
Braised chicken feet is a must-order for me at yum cha. The chicken feet were deep fried then braised in a sweet soy garlic marinade, and are quite morish to nibble at.
Another classic, the skin of the siu mai was a little too soft, but that was made up with the plump prawn and pork filling.
How can you have siu mai without har gow? These translucent goodies always have me mesmerized. The filling is a lot less finely chopped in comparison to that of the siu mai, which meant you could really taste the plumpness of the prawns.
Onto something more innovative, the prawns in this case were wrapped in a thin, airy and crispy pastry. The wasabi mayo drizzled on top had a good wasabi kick to it, something that a lot of restaurants are lacking.
Back to the more traditional side of things, the tripes had a quite light and delicate flavour.
One of my friend has never tried sticky rice with chicken, so we decided to order it for her sake.
Inside the glutinous rice, there was a filling of chicken and mushrooms that had been braised in soy beforehand. If you were looking for something more carb heavy, this would be a good pick.
The vermicelli rolls were silky smooth, and contrasted well with the freshness of the prawns.
We originally wanted to order some egg tarts for dessert, however they had already sold out unfortunately, which meant we settled for the red bean cake. Nonetheless, these were quite light in texture and not overly sweet.
These buns were quite hard to hunt down, only because the friend that wanted to order them thought they were custard buns rather than salted egg yolk ones, but we did manage to get our hands on them, thankfully.
The crispy top were reminiscent of both the roast pork buns at Tim Ho Wan, and pineapple buns sold in Chinese bakeries. The bun itself was quite sweet, and the salted egg yolk centre was rich and creamy.
Secret Kitchen offers a somewhat less traditional but more enjoyable experience than most yum cha restaurants, and that comes from the atmosphere and service mostly. The food may not be particularly authentic, but they were all enjoyable, and it would be a good place to take those who have never had yum cha before. Remember to make a booking though, especially on the weekend, as the restaurant has become quite popular.
How to get here: Secret Kitchen is located on level 3 of Doncaster Westfield Shoppingtown, which is accessible via many buses.