Naked in the Sky

After all these years, Fitzroy remains cool and hip, somethings’ll never change. Naked in the Sky, as many of you may know by now, is the rooftop bar right above Naked for Satan. If you’re looking for some more inventive tapas, have more than a $10 note to spend, and are looking for some breathtaking views, then enter the escalator and all your dreams will come true.

1

Crumbed Eggplant w/ Honey and Blue Cheese

The crumbed eggplant is always a must-order for me. These are kind of like eggplant chips, the crumb is super crunchy, and the mix of honey and blue cheese is perfect, definitely get this if you’re an eggplant fan!

2

Grilled Beef Eyefillet Skewers

The large cubes of eye fillet were quite meaty, and the simple flavouring of salt allowed the meat itself to shine through. My only complaint is that this was on the small side of things.

3

Baked Camembert

I loved the baked camembert! I have tried to bake camembert myself at home, but they always turn out to be too oily. The truffle paste and pieces of chestnut prevented the whole thing from becoming too rich.

4

Popcorn Chicken

The popcorn chicken were unlike the original Taiwanese version, but they were tasty in their own rights! The light dusting of batter was very flavoursome, and the pieces of chicken inside were succulent.

Naked in the Sky is definitely one of my favourite rooftop venues around, and given the unusually warm temperature in Melbourne, you still have plenty of time to give it a visit before the weather gets more chilly! It’s as popular as ever though, and there’s really no guarantee that you’ll get a seat on the limited number of numbers if you arrive around dinner time, but hey, isn’t that half the fun?

How to get there:
Naked in the Sky is located on Brunswick Street, catch tram #11 and get off at stop #17 Johnston Street/Brunswick Street

Naked In the Sky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tall Timber

Brunch and I have a bit of a love hate relationship as of late. With new cafes popping up left, right and center, it’s near impossible to make time and visit some of the old school favourites. But hey, first world problems am I right?

Anyway, my friend and I finally managed to visit Tall Timber after all these years. We went on a cloudy Saturday morning, and the place was absolute packed, but we managed to score a table in the outside area.

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2

Skinny Flat White – $4.00

Given that we arrived before 10am, which is pretty much two hours earlier than my normal brunch time, I had to get a coffee to start things off. The coffee was smooth and went down easy, although nothing out of this world, it was exactly what I needed.

3

Eggs Benedict – $20.90

The eggs benedict is one of the most, if not the most popular dish at Tall Timber, and I had to give it a go. The golden apple cider hollandaise was silky and creamy, with just the right amount of acidity, pulled pork was juicy and flavoursome,  and there was plenty of it; and the eggs were, of course, perfectly poached. Apple and pork is a classic flavour combination, and it was great to see Tall Timber translate a Sunday roast to a breakfast classic.

My only issue with this dish was the bread they used, it read sour dough on the menu, but to me, it was more akin to white bread.

4

I was tempted to grab a butterbing on my way out, but managed to leave without one, self control eh.5

You can tell how bad the weather was in this photo, however, it was still packed full of people, which just goes to show how much people love this place. And just like the rest of Melbourne, brunch is something I’m still always down for, no matter how much I whine about it.

How to get there:
Tall Timber is located on Commercial Road, catch tram #72 from Flinders St Station or Melbourne Central, and get off at stop #29 Braille Library, the cafe is a minute walk away.

Tall Timber Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Oh Deer

Korean food has slowly but surely made its way to my top three favourite cuisines, it’s just so versatile! Their passion for everything cheese is also a plus, and along came Oh Deer, a Korean fusion restaurant serving up a range of specialty food that are hard to find elsewhere in Melbourne.

We were given a menu to browse through, but we had out mind set on the Molton Cheesy Pork Rib set, which came with the pork ribs, kimchi fried rice, and two bowls of miso soup.

1

Miso Soup

The miso soup looked promising with its cloudiness, and tasted quite pleasant.

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Cheesy Pork Ribs

Onto the star of the show, the pork ribs! The waitress put a gas stove top on our table, and placed the big stone pot on top.

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After a while, the cheese started melting, and she checked on us regularly, and cut the ribs up.

Banchan came in the slots on the outer edge of the stone pot, and were cooked in front of our eyes too. There were corn with mayo, omelette, tteokbokki, and mashed sweet potato.

4

Mashed Sweet Potato

My friend and I both really enjoyed the sweet potato. However, I think because the stone pop is larger than the gas top, not all the banchans were heated evenly.

5

After the cheese had completely melted, the waitress came once again, and wrapped the cheese around the pork ribs. The pork rib did not have a lot of meat, but the sauce was very flavoursome, and the cheese added some creaminess and complimented the sweet sauce quite well.

6

Kimchi Fried Rice

After all the cheese was used up, the waitress cooked the kimchi fried rice with the leftover sauce from the pork ribs, and although there were not a lot of kimchi, it was still tasty and filling.

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I think for me, Oh Deer stands out with its novelty, but the food were of average quality overall. If you’re wanting to try something different then go ahead and give it a shot, but otherwise, I’d sit this one out.

How to get there:
Oh Deer is located on Royal Lane off Chinatown, less than ten minutes walk away from Flinders St Station.

Oh Deer Korean Fusion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Crux & Co

My best friend came down to Melbourne for her birthday weekend, and what better way to start off the celebration than a birthday brunch?

The Crux & Co has been on my radar for a while, but it was only when we arrived that I realised it was right opposite Kettle Black, where I celebrated my birthday a couple of years ago, what a coincidence!12

The interior of Crux & Co was spot on, large and airy, with high ceilings and plenty of green plants to go around, the space was chic yet homely.

3

Croissant w/ Smoked Salmon and Ricotta – $16.00

The food came out relatively quick, and of course, being a cafe in South Melbourne, it wouldn’t be complete with some edible flowers thrown into the mix. The croissant itself was buttery and flakey, with layers of smoked salmon hiding underneath a green salad, the creamy ricotta also went well with a salmon, though it’s not a flavour combination that I had seen before.

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There was also plenty of sweet offerings in the glass cabinet, however, I had to head back to uni, and didn’t have a chance to sample anything,. But hey, that just mean I have to make a return soon!

How to get there:
The Crux & Co is located on Albert Road, catch any tram from stop #13 Federation Square/Swanston Street, and get off at stop #20 Domain Interchange/St Kilda Road, and the cafe is three minutes walk away.

The Crux & Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tiba’s Lebanese

I first visited Tiba’s when I was still working in Preston a few years back, and I’ve been meaning to come back time and time again, but since it’s not on my side of town, things were made slightly more difficult.

12Stepping into the restaurant, it was just as I remembered, although the decor isn’t much, it was spacious and clean, and the smell of the grilled meat was so tentalising. After placing our order, a basket of complimentary bread was placed on the table, and the food arrived shortly after.

3

Mixed Grill – $19.50

Tiba’s is known for their massive platters that’s filled with salad, pickles, dips, and meat, and this is a great platter to sample everything.

There was garden salad, tabouli, a yogurt-cucumber dip, hommus, lamb and chicken sharwarma, grilled shish kafta, lamb cutlet, and a sausage.

The grilled shish kafta had a mix of spices and was very morish; the lamb cutlet was so juicy, with a good smoky flavour from the grill. All the other meat were great too, but my personal favourite was the chicken shawarma, I’m always impressed when the chicken is tender and done well, because chicken is harder to get right than say, lamb.

It was fun to try out a mix of things and wrapping it up with the pita bread, my favourite combination was chicken sharwarma, with a bit of tabouli, hommus and rice.

4

Tiba’s House – Entree – $30.00

Tiba’s House was essentially an expanded version of the Mixed Grill, with a larger selection of entree items. The falafel was a bit disappointing for me, although extremely crunchy, the filling of chickpea lacked any distinct flavour.

5

Tiba’s House – Main – $30.00

The main plate had the same item as the mixed grill.

We shared the two set items between the four of us, and although we were starving, there was more than enough food to go around. In fact, we still had a whole take away container full of food left.

Tiba’s was everything I remembered and more, the service was succinct but friendly enough, and the food ticked the boxes in both serving size and quality. My only wish is its location, but I just found out they’ve also opened up a restaurant on Lygon St, which is slightly easier to get to. For a cheap and cheerful Lebanese pick-me-up though, I would always be down to go all the way across town.

How to get there:
Tiba’s Lebanese is located on Sydney Road, catch the tram #19 and get off at stop #23 Victoria Street/Sydney Road, and the restaurant is 100 metres away.

Tiba's Lebanese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friends of Mine

Richmond is filled with good restaurants, so for one to last on the busy strip, they must be doing something right. With that in mind, we headed off to brunch at Friends of Mine.

Unlike the trending all white everything interior a lot of cafes have been going for, Friends of Mine goes for a much more richer tone, with a grand chandelier near the entrance, although not my style, it is nice to see something different once in a while.1

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From Top to Bottom: Latte, Cappuccino, Flat White

We all ordered different coffees, and they were all done properly, and tasted pretty great.

3

Cured Salmon Gravlax – $19.00

The salmon gravlax was on the healthy side of things, while still being quite substantial. The salmon were plump and cut quite thickly, and tasted great when dipped in the egg yolks. I wish there was some sort of carb on the plate too though.

4

Crispy Barramundi

The piece of barramundi was on the small side of things, but the crispy skin was certainly delivered, with a hint of smokiness. The salad that the fish sat on appears to be Asian inspired, with a simple vinaigrette dressing.

5

Red Velvet Hotcakes

This is no longer on the menu as well, but don’t worry, you’re not really missing out. On paper, red velvet hotcakes sounded like perfect, however, these were extremely dry and quite hard. I honestly don’t know how they made these, the outside was almost like a shell? We managed to eat one hotcake between the three of us, and left the other one completely untouched.

6Overall, Friends of Mine seems to be your run-of-the-mill cafe in the suburbs, even that might be a bit generous, given that the brunch quality in the suburbs has improved significantly over the last year.

I really wish I had nicer things to say about Friends of mine, unfortunately, the food we tried were average at best, and in a place like Richmond, where there is an abundance of cafes nearby, I would much rather go somewhere else.

How to get there:
Catch the Belgrave or Lilydale train and get off at Burnley, Friends of Mine is around five minutes walk away.

Friends of Mine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

JAPAN 2017 | Osaka: Osaka Castle; Kuromon Ichiba Market

My first day in Osaka was packed full of activities, and it’s a bit photo heavy, so I’m going to split the day into two separate blog posts!

Osaka Castle

It was raining the entire day, but when you’re  travelling, that’s just something you gotta deal with unfortunately. My first stop was Osaka Castle because I wanted to beat the crowd, it was around half an hour walk away from the closest station, but the walk was very scenic and serene, and I had the ugliest yellow raincoat on to protect myself from the rain.

The castle itself was magnificent, and inside, there were eight levels. It is recommended that you go to the eighth floor first, and then make your way down. There was one level dedicated to artefacts from the Azuchi-Momoyama period, another to the life of Hideyoshi, the lord that was responsible for the construction of the castle.

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Kuromon Ichiba Market

After that long walk, it was time to hit up a market for some food, aka one of my favourite things to do while overseas. I marked down Kuromon Ichiba Market as one of my must-visits the moment I heard about it, and it certainly did not disappoint.

Full of food stalls, random nick-nacks, and fresh produce, I happily spent a couple of hours eating my way around the market.

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Kobe Beef

There are a number of stalls that sold Kobe beef, I picked one that had a large selection of cuts, and was more akin to a butcher shop that locals would frequent. The meat were simply grilled on a hot plate with a light hand of salt and pepper. The moment I took the first bite though, legit died and gone to meat heaven. The meat was so tender yet flavoursome, it’s really something that you have to try at least once!

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Uni

Next, I went to get me some uni, aka sea urchin. Again, I picked a stall that was reasonably priced, and had a range of sizes. After you pay for the seafood of your choice, the uni is prepared in front of your eyes, and then handed to you ten seconds later, it really doesn’t get much fresher than that.

Uni is an acquired taste though, so be prepared for something that’s a little slimey and soft, and very, hmm, ocean-y LOL. If you are a fan of uni already, then make sure you get your hands on these!

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Takoyaki

Takoyaki was next on my radar, do you see the pattern of hot and cold yet? Anyway, Osaka is famous for takoyakis, so I did have high expectations already, but these little balls of heaven blew my mind away.

I’m going to list down three reasons why they are the best things ever, because lists are fun.
1. They were piping hot, and when I say hot, I mean it, I burnt the roof of my mouth because I couldn’t wait, but hey, worth it.
2. The outside was crispy and the inside was so god damn creamy, like legit, the sticks they give you are pretty useless because of the gooeyness inside, so the balls literally just collapse when you try to pick them up, which means you gotta think fast and act even faster in order to shove them in, hence the high chance of burning your mouth.
3. There are legit little octopus pieces inside each ball!! Okay scratch that, they’re not little at all. Because of the creaminess of the batter, the octopus pieces have even more of a contracting texture, making it all-so-delicious.

Have I sold you on these takoyakis yet? Please please please, get some when you’re there. The ones in Melbourne suck so much in comparison, and to think that I used to like them, urgh.

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Tuna Sashimi

The fatty tuna sashimi is another must-eat in Japan, but seriously, everything in the market is a must-eat imo. There’s a stall in the centre of the market that specialises in tuna, and the chef is literally slicing up the sashimi right in front of you. I got the one with three types of tuna, and they were all great in their own ways, but of course, the star of the show was the toro, aka tuna belly, it literally melts in your mouth!

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Wagyu Beef

I wanted to try some wagyu as well, but damn it, I should have gone to the same stall that i got the Kobe from. The skewer was a lot smaller in size, and only a fraction cheaper. That being said though, the beef was still really tasty, and the splash of soy highlighted the umami.

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Croquette

To finish off, I got a random croquette thing, which I also regret tbh. I thought the croquette would be fresh from the fryer, or at least heated through, but it was cold and sad. Although it was still really crunchy, but that was the only good things about this.

And that is the end of my food-venture! For now anyway haha, Osaka is known for being the food capital of Japan, and I can definitely see why! Kuromon Ichiba Market showcases the outstanding produce that Japan has to offer, and is a great place to sample a range of different things in one go. Most of the market was undercover as well, which makes it a great place to visit on a rainy day too.

Spending Tracker

Lawson: 140JPY ~ 1.7AUD
Public transport: 420JPY ~ 5AUD
Osaka Castle ticket: 600JPY ~ 7.4AUD
Osaka Castle Coin: 730JPY ~ 9AUD
Postcard: 50JPY ~ 0.6AUD
Kobe beef: 1555JPY ~ 19.2aud
UniL 1500JPY ~ 18.5AUD
Takoyaki: 450JPY ~ 5.6AUD
Tuna: 1500JPY ~ 18.5AUD
Wagyu: 1000JPY ~ 12AUD
Croquette: 100JPY ~ 1.2AUD

Total: 8045JPY ~ 98.7AUD

Palsaik

Endless choice of meat and fun DIY, what’s not to love about Korean BBQ? I mean okay, the smell lingers for days, but that’s a price worth paying for. Palsaik specialises in Korean BBQ, and has been around for a while now, and I finally made it down there one Monday night with a friend.

The interior was a lot sleeker than I expected, mood lighting all around (which means bad photos unfortunately), and there was plenty of tables. The whole space looked more spacious than Korean restaurants I’m used to.

1

Palsaik Set – $58.80

We get the all-so-famous Palsaik set, also known as the 8 flavour pork belly set! The set included 8 different flavours of pork belly (duh); wine, original, ginseng, garlic, herb, curry, miso paste and red pepper paste; as well as a seafood and soybean paste stew, two steamed rice, and assorted vegetables.

2

Seafood and Soybean Paste Stew

The stew was quite flavourful, and had prawns, mussels and calamari rings.

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Banchan

There was also some lettuce, as well as kimchi, spring onion salad, pickled radish and pickled onion, so that you can wrap up the pork belly in the lettuce, and a combination of whatever sides you fancy.

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But let’s be real, the best part about Korean BBQ is all in the cooking! The sizzle of the meat, and watching them caramelise, it’s just such a satisfying experience. Out of the eight flavours, my personal favourite was garlic and red pepper paste, the garlic was, well, garlicy and delicious, and the red pepper paste lent the pork belly some spiciness, which almost always gets a tick in my book.

We all know the real purpose of those vegetables – to make us feel good about ourselves for eating vegetables, and hey, they did their job.

Although I much prefer having Korean BBQ at home, if you do want to head out into Town for some Korean BBQ, then Palsaik is definitely a great choice! With a decent selection of meat, and a great atmosphere, it’s suitable for both small and large groups.

How to get there:
Palsaik is located on Little Bourke Street, around 10 minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

Palsaik BBQ Korean Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

JAPAN 2017 | Tokyo: University of Tokyo; Yokohama: Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

University of Tokyo

My friend is currently doing her Masters in University of Tokyo, so of course, on my last day with her, she took me on a personal tour after a quick breakfast of oden from 7/11.

I think visiting universities is something that doesn’t get as enough attention in the travelling community, but I personally find it very eye-opening and enjoyable. We took a stroll around the campus, and it was really impressive! Although most of the buildings were more reminiscent of a Western style, the Akamon, aka the Red Gate, is something that was retained from the Edo Era.

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Waterfall (!!)

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Lake opposite the waterfall (!!)

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Akamon

Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

After visiting University of Tokyo, it was time for me to take my first Shinkansen to Yokohama! I had only one place on my list to visit in Yokohama, and it was the Ramen Museum to no one’s surprise.

The museum had three levels, and the bottom floor was set up like traditional Japan in the 1950s. The ordering system is quite simple, there’s a vending machine outside each ramen shop, and you press the button of the item that you want to order, and then insert the cash, take the ticket, upon entering the restaurant, hand the ticket to one of the waiters, and then wait for your ramen to arrive.

There was a total of 9 ramen shops, and I aimed to try three of them, but unfortunately was full to the brim after two, first world problems I know.

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Tonkatsu Ramen from Najima-Tei

The cloudiness of the soup meant that there was a ton of depth to the soup, and the ramen itself was perfectly al-dente. The only negative though was there the soup was extremely salty, which meant that as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t drink all of it.

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Spicy Miso Ramen from Ryu Shanghai Honten

I also tried the spicy miso ramen, since it’s something that’s not as commonly found in Melbourne. After mixing the spicy miso paste to the soup, it did help cut through the richness of the soup, which I didn’t expect! I think this ramen was more akin to traditional ramen, where there is a layer of oil on the soup, and you have to kind of stir the soup around if you don’t want the oily bits.

Spicy Miso Ramen from Ryu Shanghai Honten

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Spicy Miso Ramen from Ryu Shanghai Honten

Hokkaido style ramen was featured here, known for being thick and slightly curly, it had a bit more bite to it than the thin straight kind that I’m used to.

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I arrived in my hostel in Osaka at around 8pm, and was so tired, so instead of my original plan to visit Dotonburi, I decided to stay in the hostel and just have some down time, write in my travel journal, figure out how to buy Universal Studio tickets online, you know, all that good stuff.

Spending Tracker

7/11: 635JPY ~ 7.8AUD
Drug store: 6365JPY ~ 79AUD
Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum Ticket: 310JPY ~ 3.8AUD
Ramen from Najima-Tei: 750JPY ~ 9.3AUD
Ramen from Ryu Shanghai Honten: 870JPY ~ 10.8AUD
Lollies from the traditional lolly shop in the museum: 140JPY ~ 1.7AUD
Postcard: 411JPY ~ 5AUD
Osaka accommodation: 8900JPY ~ 106AUD
Universal Studios Ticket: 7400JPY ~ 89AUD

Total: 25781JPY ~ 312.4AUD

 

Milkcow

Milkcow is an ice cream shop that originated from South Korea, and has since expanded all the way down to Melbourne. It had a pop up store for a while in Emporium, and has since opened up its permanent location on Swanston Street.1

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Milky Honey

Wanting to try something simple, we opted for milky honey. The texture of the ice cream is definitely a lot creamier and silkier than the cheaper alternatives, and the organic honey added just a touch of sweetness.

3

Caramel Pop

The popcorn in caramel pop had the additional crunchy texture from the popcorn, and the caramel was not overly sweet as it tend to be sometimes.

The ice cream in Milkcow err on the delicate side of things, I couldn’t find the prices listed on their website, but from memory, it was around the $6-$10 mark, which is quite pricey for what it is, at least for me, I’d much prefer to spend the same amount on some good quality gelato. However, if soft serve style ice cream is more your cup of tea, then by all means, do visit Milkcow for yourself!

How to get there:
Milkcow is located on Swanston Street, two minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

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