Miznon

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Has anyone tried Israeli food? If the answer is no, then you’re not the only one. Miznon promises to bring Israeli street food to Australia, and I was keen to see what it was all about.

Although Miznon is a new addition to the Melbourne food scene, the restaurant has already set up shop in Paris, New York, Vienna, and Tel Aviv. Opened by Israeli Masterchef Judge Eyal Shani back in 2011, its worldwide expansion meant that I went in with some high expectations.Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetUpon entering the restaurant, we were taken away by the lively and buzzing atmosphere, and the extremely friendly kitchen staff.

We got some of the best seats in the house, the table being right next to the free nibbles station, which included pita off-cuts, sauerkraut, tahini, tzatziki and some sort of chilli sauce. It was also a dangerous spot to be in, it was extremely hard for us to stop ourselves from eating the endless supply of pitas.

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The first of many oops

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White Spritz – $12.00

We had some cocktails to accompany the pita. The mixture of rose, soda and orange made the White Spritz a light and refreshing drink.

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Red Spritz – $12.00

The Red Spritz, on the other hand, was a lot more intense, with the addition of Campari, and the fresh plucked sage leaves.

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Clockwise: Sweet Potato, Calamari Plate, Sabich

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Sweet Potato – $8.00

Onto the food. We started off quite simple with a piping hot sweet potato straight from the oven, it was tender and sweet, and I’m so going to steal the idea of eating it with sour cream on the side, as it prevented the sweet potato itself from getting too heavy.

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Sabich – $12.00

Sabich is a traditional Israeli dish, featuring eggplant, topped with tahini, tomato perfume, and a sliced hard boiled egg. Sabich actually reminded me of the Japanese dish, Nasu Dengaku, i.e. miso glazed eggplant. Though the cooking technique is somewhat similar, Sabich had a much more earthy flavour, especially because of the tahini. The chilli on the side, though unassuming, was very spicy, so tread with caution.

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Calamari Plate – $15.00

The calamari plate was exactly that, lightly grilled calamari served with a salsa of sorts, made up of cucumber, tomato, onion and parsley. The dish was extremely refreshing, and the calamari was cooked perfectly. Although quite simple, the elements all complimented each other, and it was executed with care. My friend hates seafood (I know), but she actually ate a few pieces of the calamari, an indication of how good it was.

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Baby Cauliflower Flower – $13.00

The baby cauliflower flower is sort of a legend at Miznon, being featured heavily in its instagram feed. The whole head of cauliflower is boiled the grilled until tender, and every part of it is edible, including the leaves, which I liked more than I care to admit. The cauliflower falls apart at the prick of a fork, and after dipping it in some tahini and Atlantic salt, it’s simply irresistible, even if you’re not usually a vegetable lover.

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Clockwise: Pita with a Bone, Sac de Coque

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Pita with a Bone – $19.00

Although we were already becoming full at this point, more food were on its way. The pita with a bone is another dish I had been looking forward to all night, being a big fan of well-cooked lamb. The bones were plucked out with minimal effort, and the meat was so soft and juicy. The pita bread itself was perfectly airy, having earlier been deemed as the best pita I’ve had, based on the off cuts alone. Although I wished there was some sort of spice or acidity to lift the flavours a little, this was still a very satisfying experience.

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Sac de Coque – $14.00

Sac de Coque is Miznon’s take on a chicken salad, or at least that’s how it felt like to me. The pieces of the roasted chicken were a little dry, but it was made better by the aioli. Although this was not a stand out salad, it was a good way to sneak some green leaves into the meal to make us feel better about ourselves.

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Miznon was everything I expected and more, from the lively kitchen yelling out orders all night, to the prominent use of lunch bags and cardboards over plates, it had an extremely welcoming atmosphere. The flavours of the food were also top-notch, and I was happy to tick Israeli cuisine off my list. The only drawback is probably the price tag; for a restaurant that features street food, it certainly is on the higher end of things.

Although the menu at Miznon is only one page long, the variation of exotic dishes and pita pockets means that a future visit is required; maybe when I am no longer stuck in the full time student status.

Miznon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

How to get here:
Miznon is located on Hardware Lane, a short five minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

I dined as a guest of Miznon.

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JAPAN 2017 | Osaka: Universal Studios

My second day in Osaka was dedicated to one activity only – Universal Studios. I was excited beyond words. I had bought the ticket online the day before on the Universal Studios website, the Japanese version, you actually can’t buy tickets from the English website. The process was all done in Japanese, and being a non-Japanese speaker, it would have been near impossible to navigate. However, there are a number of useful tutorials floating around the internet, and I followed this one to purchase the ticket.Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetI arrived at 9.30am, and the theme park was already filled with people! I knew where I was heading into though – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! You have to first get a numbered ticket, which assigns you a time to enter WWHP, I’ve heard that if you get in late, you may not be able to enter until 5 or 6pm, which is not ideal, because waiting for the ride – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – alone takes two hours. I was lucky enough to have gotten the early-ish ticket, and the line entering WWHP wasn’t too bad either.Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetAfter walking through some hedges, the Flying Ford Anglia is waiting for you at the corner. Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe feeling of entering WWHP is indescribable. I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter, it being the first series that actually got me into reading, and then patiently waiting for each movie to come out every year. It definitely felt like I was entering somewhere magical. Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetYou can choose to have the Butterbeer hot or cold, in a plastic cup or in a collectable mug, I chose the latter, because it was definitely one of the cheaper memoraphilias.Processed with VSCO with a6 presetAfter a quick browse around, I joined the line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and although the wait was two hours long, there was plenty to see every time you entered a new area, making things interesting throughout.Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetThe ride was incredible, hands down my favourite experience in Universal Studios. I’m not going to say too much about it because I think it’s better to go in blind, but trust me, it is worth the wait.Processed with VSCO with kk1 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb1 presetThere are plenty of shops to browse through in WWHP, including Honey Dukes, Ollivanders, Zonkos’, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Owl Post and Owlery, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium of Confisticated Goods. The souvenirs do get repetitive after you’ve entered a few shops, but it was fun nonetheless. The one thing I was set on buying is the knitted jumper that Mrs Weasley handmakes for all of the Weasleys, Harry and Hermione, but it unfortunately was unavailable in Japan. I settled for a Ravenclaw scarf.

Some other fun things to do in WWHP include the life demonstration at Ollivanders, it was interesting to hear the American man perform the scene from the first Harry Potter movie in Japanese. There is also a live performance of the Hogwarts Choir in the square.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetI bought food from 7/11 in the morning, knowing that dining at the theme park itself would be extremely pricey, and there wasn’t any place I wanted to try in particular. However, I couldn’t resist the $5 minion bun, but hey, that’s not too steep for a solit photo op.Processed with VSCO with a6 presetBesides WWHP, Universal Studios is divided into seven sections: Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Amity Village. Water World and Universal Wonderland; with rides including The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man 4K3D, Hollywood Dream. Jurassic Park. Jaws, Terminator 2: 3-D and Backdraft.

There are obviously plenty to do and see, and you’re not going to be able to go on all the rides in just a day, especially with long waiting time for each ride, so it is worth planning your day ahead, and decide where you want to spend your time. You also have the option to purchase the Express Pass 7 or Express Pass 4 to shorten your wait time significantly. However, keep in mind that these passes can cost as much as the ticket itself.

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Me in my new scarf taking incredibly cheesy photos at the direction of the guides on-site

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetI went on a couple more rides in the afternoon, and just walked around different areas, soaking everything in. Given that I visited Universal Studios in mid-January (yup, January 2017), the Christmas light show was still on every night, and that was spectacular in itself.Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

After spending the entire day in Universal Studios, I was tired, hungry, but filled with joy. There is a plaza-like area just outside of Universal Studios, with plenty of dining options available. I settled for some udon with fried goods. The handmade udon is better than any that I’ve had in Australia, with various toppings available, and you have the option to add soup from the soup dispenser. Unfortunately, because the fried goods had been sitting there for a while, it was not as crispy as I had hoped. The meal was satisfying nonetheless.

Osaka provided me with some of the most amazing experiences, and I picked up some takoyaki on the way back to my hostel to commemorate my last night here. Onto Kyoto we go!

Spending Tracker

7/11: 1005JPY ~ 12.4AUD
Butterbeet: 1100JPY ~ 13.6AUD
Harry Potter postcard: 700JPY ~ 8.2AUD
Minion bun: 550JPY ~ 6.8AUD
Udon: 940JPY ~ 11.6AUD
Takoyaki: 450JPY ~ 5.6AUD

Total: 4745JPY ~ 58.2AUD

Hochi Mama

I love the idea of tapas, nothing beats getting to try a range of dishes without breaking the bank. That’s probably why I was so taken by Rice Paper Scissors a few years ago. After hearing that the restaurant next door – Hochi Mama has a menu in a similar fashion, I was very excited to visit it on a balmy weekday night.

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The menu is divided into smaller, larger, side, and desserts. For the $59 for two deal that we went with, you get two selections from smaller, two from larger, and one side, all to share.

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Rice Paper Rolls w/ Grilled Eggplant and Fresh Vegetables

Given that our other choices were more substantial, it was a good thing that we started with the DIY rice paper rolls.

The grilled eggplant were undoubtly the star of this dish, having been marinated in a tentalising paste, with just the right amount of char coming through.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe perks of DIY rice paper roll is that you can choose what you want to put in it, and how much of each ingredient you’d like. Being a somewhat picky eater, this was definitely a positive for me, as it meant I could neglect the carrots altogether.

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Hochi Chicken Bahn Bao

Onto the fried things. The chicken was as good as fried chicken goes, crunchy but light batter, and juicy meat on the inside. I especially loved the fermented chilli beans on top, a nod at the Chinese cuisine that baos originate from.

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Hanoi Style Crispy Beef Ribs

This is the first time I’ve tried fried beef ribs, and it did not disappoint. Continuing to showcase the kitchen’s control of the deep frier, the meat certainly was succulent and falling off the bone with very little batter involved. The salad did seem a little thrown together to me, on the other hand, but offered a palate cleanser nonetheless.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetI somehow lost the photo of the last larger dish that we had – the Southside Tofu Curry, so you’ll just have to have a look at the group photo for now. Being a fan of a wide variety of curries, I did enjoy the sweeter version here at Hochi Mama. The large amount of sauce was also appreciated, as it went well with the side of Coconut Rice.

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Being situated next to Rice Paper Scissors is a double edged sword for Hochi Mama, especially when they’re both serving up some sort of Asian fusion. Although the restaurant was quite filled up throughout the night, it does not have a huge line extending onto the alleyway like Rice Paper Scissors.

It might come as a surprise to some, but I actually think that Hochi Mama is just as good as Rice Paper Scissors, if not better. The prices of each individual dish also meant that getting the $59 deal actually can save you up to $20. So next time when there’s a ridiculous wait time next door, why not head into Hochi Mama and see it for yourself?

How to get there:
Hochi Mama is located on Liverpool Street, get off at Parliament Station, and the restaurant is three minutes walk away.

Hochi Mama Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Massive Wieners

Ah Massive Wieners. Specialising in massive hot dogs (12″ being the exact measurement) and fries, I’ve wanted to try it out for a while now, if only to say that I had a massive wiener. I know, so mature and professional of me.

One of my friend lived in Prahran a couple years back, and I’ve literally asked her to come to Massive Wieners with me a dozen of times, but for one reason or another, we never made it there. And then one day last year, I was determined to make it happen, but realised that it was actually under renovation.

After making sure that it was indeed, open, we visited the hot dog joint on a sunny Sunday. The space was quite grungy and bare, and it was actually smaller than what I had expected. Orders are placed at the counter, and then brought out to your table by a friendly staff.

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Kraut (Average Joe) – $7.00

All hot dogs come with the basics – ketchup, mustard, onion and cheese. There are a range of toppings you can choose to add to the basic combination, and I chose kraut. Although deceptively simple, the hot dog was actually very tasty. You can tell that a lot of thought was put into the selection of ingredient, from the toasty bun, to the hot dog itself, which was a lot more meaty and had a firmer texture than cheaper hotdogs elsewhere. The kraut was addictively sour, and lent some extra crunch to the wiener.

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Classic (Average Joe) – $6.00

My friend went for the classic, and it was equally as delicious. We both went for the Average Joe, a 6″ wiener, and it was more than enough. Did we want to give the massive wiener a shot? Sure, but we also wanted to play things safe and save room for some fries on the side.

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Disco Fries (Average) – $7.00

Out of the three fries options, we went for the disco fries; crispy fries topped with gravy, cheese and onion. This is the type of fries that can only be eaten with a fork, and taste best when you can get a mouthful of all the elements.

Massive Wieners delivers exactly what it promised; hot dogs and fries, done with love and care. The straight-forward offerings means that it is perfect for a quick bite to eat, especially after a night out, which is perfect given that it is open until 4am on a Friday night. So next time, trade your kebabs for some hot dogs, and I guarantee that you will thank yourself the next day.

Massive Wieners Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Moon Dog Brewery Bar

The end of Summer means that there is an exponential decrease of number of outdoor activities that is available. Other than the real outdoorsy ones – hiking and camping –  I will also miss is outdoor cinemas, rooftop bars and cosy breweries.

Breweries are something that I’ve only started going to last year. They’re fun, relaxing, and creates a vacuum of endless conversations. The most recent brewery that I had visited is Moon Dog, which specialises in a number quirky flavoured beers. We went on quite a warm day, and the intimate almost lounge room-esque area was filled out by people.Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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Son of a Spritz – $15.00

Sunny days calls for refreshing cocktails, and Moon Dog’s version of the classic Aperol Spritz was perfect for the occasion. A little more tart than the traditional version, it was hard to stop at one with this drink.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetFood wise, on top of the free popcorn available from the bar (just ask, they have an addictive seasoning!), there’s a pizza truck outside of the lounge area.

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There ain’t no mushroom in this town for… – $16.00

We started off with the cheesy and earthy mushroom pizza on the menu. Mushrooms are some of my favourite ingredients, and the trio of field, shimeji and porcini mushrooms really hit the spot. Being on a garlic base further accentuated the umani coming through, and the dough was thin and crispy enough, but still held onto the toppings quite well.

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Pimp My Marg – $14.00

A good margherita pizza is deceptively simple, but full of flavour, and this was a prime example of that. The vibrant combination of tomato, basil, ricotta and mozzarella really came together. The dough was slightly thicker, which was perfect considering the toppings were considerably more weighty compared to its mushroom counterpart.

The laid back atmosphere at Moon Dog stood out to me from the get go, and the quirky drinks available on tap ensured that everyone can find one that suits them. Whether you’re looking for a destination for pre-dinner drink or spending a relaxing few hours playing Jenga while gauging on popcorns, Moon Dog is the place to be.

How to get there:
Moon Dog is located on Duke Street in Abbotsford. Catch tram #109 from Parliament station towards Box Hill, and get off at McKay St/Victoria St, and the brewery is a short 3 minutes walk away.

Moon Dog Brewery Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dexter

I know I know, I’ve been gone for the longest time. Let’s leave that aside for a second and focus on the topic at hand – the amazing meal I had at Dexter.

The American-style eatery featuring various types of BBQ has been on my list to try for a while now (what’s new), and after a lackluster meal my friend had there (not because of the food), I made it my mission to visit the joint as soon as I was back in the country (travel post coming up soon I swear).Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

The location was quite discrete, in fact, the only thing that gave it away was the X above its door. The warm and romantic lighting, minimal designs incorporating the airy space, and the overall sophisticated atmosphere certainly is not what I had in mind for a American BBQ restaurant, but I was pleasantly surprised. Upon realising that there were only seats available at the bar in the indoor area, we opted to eat outside instead.

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KFC (Kentucky Fried Cauliflower) – $9.00

This was our healthiest dish of the night, I mean yes it is deep fried, but there are large pieces of cauliflower being encrusted in the batter, definition of a balanced meal. Although extremely crunchy, the cauliflower was actually a little bland, but the red sauce on the side did help to bring some flavour to the dish.

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Hot Meat Donuts – $12.00

Here they are, the oh-so-famous meat donuts. The concept sounded pretty magical, but it wasn’t until I took my first bite into the sugar-dusted donut that I knew what I was in for.

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Hot Meat Donuts – $12.00

The tender and juicy beef brisket was as delicious as it can be, and the light donut batter took the whole thing to the next level. The concept of the hot meat donut kind of remind me of Chinese meat buns, or the dim sum Ham Sui Gok, but obviously with a American BBQ twist. The flavour and texture of the donut and the meat filling worked so well together that it took some serious self-restraint to order another 3.

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Cured Pork Neck – $27.00 and Caramel Short Rib – $32.00

Moving onto the more substantial dishes, we ordered two of the large dishes to share. The caramel short rib was hands down, the best ribs I’ve ever had. The complex combination of the caramel marinade and the the smokiness of the rib meant that the flavour had seeped through every bite of the meat. It was also very tender, but not too much so.

The cured pork neck was overshadowed by the short rib, but then again, what wouldn’t be. Being a less fatty piece of meat, its flavour was not as rich as the rib, but it was still delicious nonetheless, especially after being doused in the gravy.

Although the meats are the star of the show, the accompanying sides were also distinctly more tasty than your run-of-the-mill mash, pickles and bread. My favourite was the bone marrow mash, the bone marrow adds so much flavour to the smooth mash, making a simple dish into a decadent extravaganza.

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Shoestring Fries – $7.00

The fries were tasty, but I don’t think even the best of fries could reach the unbelievably standard set by the previous potato dish. The serving was quite generous though, and they didn’t charge us for extra sauce, which is always nice.

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My dining experience in Dexter was better than I could ever imagined, it challenged my understanding of what American BBQ is, and how tasty it can be, in the best ways possible. I would happily return and try some of their other meats, but it’s going to be hard to not order the caramel short ribs every single time.

Given the limited space of the restaurant, I’d highly recommend to book ahead, and while I’m handing out tips, ditch the fries and order an extra serving of the bone marrow mash, you won’t regret it.

How to get here:
Dexter is on High Street in Preston, catch a train on the South Morang line and get off at Preston, and the restaurant is about 7 minutes walk away.

Dexter Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jaidee Thai

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Thai food seems to be a bit of a hit and miss in Melbourne; whilst a pad thai is available in every food court, authentic papaya salads are hard to come by. One of my Thai friends gave a glorious recommendation of Jaidee Thai, and I was more than willing to give it a try.

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Som Tum Thai – $12.00

Piled high with thinly sliced papaya, with pieces of of tomato, snake bean and peanuts mixed through, this papaya salad is probably my favourite rendition of the dish. The dressing was very balanced, with hints of acidity, sweetness and heat. The little pieces of roasted peanuts were my favourite, adding more dimension to the salad.

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Nam Thok (Pork) – $15.00

The grilled pork salad was something I had never tried before. The pork were a bit dry than usual, according to my friend, however it was still quite flavoursome, with the help of the sweet and sour dressing. The mint leaves and red onion kept the dish on the refreshing side, and it helped to lighten up some of the heavier dishes we had ordered.

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Green Curry with Chicken – $14.90

Can you really go to a Thai restaurant and not order the green curry? Not in my book. The curry sauce was light and fragrant, with a good amount of fresh vegetables thrown in, and the large portion was another plus, which went perfectly with the coconut rice on the side.

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Coconut Rice

Speaking of which, the coconut was rice was a bit overcooked for my liking, however the coconut flavour was quite prominent, and there was even coconut meat thrown into the mix!

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Pad Se Ew with Chicken – $14.90

More carbs came in the form of the Pad Se Ew, and it was a much more exciting affair. The stretchy and thick noodles provided the perfect base to soak up all the flavour of the soy based sauce, and the fresh Chinese broccoli ensured that we felt good about eating our vegies.

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Mango with Sticky Rice – $7.50

Even though we were pretty full by this point, some dessert never hurt anyone. The simple mango with sticky rice, drowning in coconut cream, was the perfect way to end our meal. The sticky rice was a bit salty, which helped to offset the richness of the cream, and the slightly hard slices of mango rounded the dessert off.

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Jaidee Thai may seem like a run of the mill neighbourhood Thai restaurant at first glance, however its extensive menu and authentic flavours have won me over. In fact, I am willing to overlook the lackluster service to try out other items on the menu. The restaurant stayed relatively quiet during our visit, so if you’re ever in the area and don’t feel like waiting for Jinda Thai, this is a great alternative.

How to get here:
Jaidee Thai is located on Victoria Street, catch the train on the Hurstbridge and South Morang line, and get off at North Richmond, and the restaurant is two minutes walk away.

Jaidee Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato