Hawker Hall

Hawker Hall is part of the ever-growing Lucas Group family, and it’s been on my radar for the last couple of years, along with the rest of Melbourne. Based on the name alone, it’s not hard to see where Chris Lucas drew inspiration from when it came to Hawker Hall, the bustling hawker centres that are sprawled across Malaysia and Singapore of course. Being partial to Singaporean food myself, I had high expectations for Hawker Hall’s offerings.

Given my lack of enthusiasm when it comes to lining up in the colder months, we decided to go for lunch on a Sunday, and were able to snag up a couple of seats at the bar in a flash.

Milk and Coconut Crush

Since we were sat at the bar, I expected the drink to be the first thing that landed on the table, so it was a little weird that the milo and coconut crush only arrived after almost all of the savoury dishes.

Timing aside, the drink was a nice twist on the traditional milo dinosaur, and went quite well with the heavier set of dishes we had ordered.

Salt & Pepper Tofu Fries w/ Sesame Mayo – $9.50

The salt and pepper tofu fries sounded interesting on paper, but it was an unfortunately bland delivery. The tofu themselves were pretty flavourless with none of the salt and pepper promised, the epitome of a subpar tofu dish in my opinion. The batter also left me wishing for more crunchiness. The sesame mayo was average as far as dipping sauces go, but was definitely the best thing on the plate.

Nyonya Style Fried Popcorn Chicken – $14.50

I’ve never had Nyonya food myself, but my friend has, and said that acidity was a prominent flavour in the cuisine, which left me feeling a little wary of how the popcorn chicken would taste. They tasted, um, like popcorn chicken I guess? But not the good kind. Again, it didn’t have any particularly strong or unique flavour coming through, and the batter was a little too floury with not enough crispiness to boot.

On another note, for almost $15, I expected more than a barely filled bowl of fried chicken.

Butter Chicken Curry Puffs – $11.50

The butter chicken curry puffs was another one that sounded interesting on paper. The pastry was quite flakey, and the butter chicken mixture inside was decent enough without any punch per se.

Roti Paratha, Eggplant Tomato Sambal, Smoked Yoghurt – $9.50

The roti paratha was probably the best of the savoury dishes, but is that really saying much at this point? The flaky pastry was topped off with a tangy eggplant tomato sambal, which could have been elevated by a kick of chilli. The smoked yoghurt tasted a bit like Greek yoghurt, and would have made more sense had the sambal been spicier.

Fried Apple Pie w/ Chai Ice Cream – $14.50

We were quite full by this point, but we had our eyes on the fried apple pie since the beginning, and given the low probability of us returning at this point, we decided to bite the bullet and order the dessert to share.

This turned out to be a great move, as the fried apple pie was hands down the best dish of the day. The large chunks of stewed apples with a good hit of cinnamon was encased in the flakey roti pastry similar to the butter chicken curry puff. The chai ice cream was also a winner, with enough ginger, cardamom and clove flavour coming through and complimenting the sweetness of the apples and the richness of the pastry.

As you can probably tell by this point, I found the whole experience at Hawker Hall to be quite underwhelming. The food was average at best, with the apple pie being the saving price, and none of it could really justify the hefty price tag attached.

I’ve only really heard good things about Hawker Hall, but it all just seemed a little too extra and pretentious to me, exactly the opposite of what comes to mind when I’m thinking of Singaporean and Malaysian street food.Maybe our approach to select some smaller plates to try didn’t work out in our favour? Regardless, I am in absolutely no rush to return.

How to get here:
Hawker Hall is located on Chapel Street, three minutes walk from Windsor Station, or catch tram #6 and get off at High Street/Chapel Street, and you’ll also be three minutes walk away from the restaurant.

Hawker Hall Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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4 Fingers Crispy Chicken

The fried chicken search continues, and today we find ourselves in 4 Fingers Crispy Chicken, a fast food chain that’s headquartered in Singapore.

Both the decor and service were nice enough for a fast food restaurant, after ordering from the counter, we sat down waiting with a buzzer in hand.

3 Wings and 1 Leg (Mixed) Meal – $16.00

Wanting to try out the classics, I opted for the 3 Wings and 1 Leg option, adding $6 to make it a meal with a side of sweet potato fries and a can of sprite. The chicken were indeed, very crispy. Benefiting from a dry batter, the texture remained even with the addition of the soy garlic and hot sauce. The hot sauce was actually pretty spicy, and the soy garlic had that addictive balance of salty and sweet.

3 Wings and 1 Leg (Mixed) Meal – $16.00

The side of sweet potato fries fared well too. 4 Fingers has clearly mastered the use of the deep fryer, and these fries were light and crunchy, with a fluffy interior.

Fried chicken by itself may not be all that exciting, hence why 4 Fingers has ventured out into a range of burgers and rice boxes for variety. My overall experience at 4 Fingers was quite pleasant, and I would be keen to return for a quick meal and try out some of the other food on offer.

How to get here:
4 Fingers is located on Bourke Street, seven minutes walk away from Parliament station.

4 Fingers Crispy Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Ang Ang

My adventure around Town Square of Eastland continues, and today, we chose to have dinner at Ang Ang, an Asian eatery opened by the people behind Chinta Ria Soul. 
Beef Rendang w/ Roti – $13.00

I felt like something hearty, and picked the beef rendang. The rendang sauce was quite thick, and the flavour was pretty standard. The beef was braised until it was tender. The roti was a bit cold and hard on the other hand, and that was kind of a let down.

Curry Laksa – $12.00

My friend chose the curry laksa, and unfortunately, this soup was too oily for her liking, and lacked a depth in flavour that good laksa has. There was a generous serving of chicken and seafood in the big bowl though, and she was content with the meal overall.

Salt and Pepper Prawns – $22.00

Another friend ordered the salt and pepper prawns, and she really enjoyed it. The prawn were fried in a light batter, and the scattering of chillies, onions and spring onions added some flavour to the prawns. Some sort of vegetable or salad with dish would have been nice, to balance out the fried prawns.

Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with Ang Ang, the food was pretty much the same standard as what you would get at a food court, and the price was pretty steep considering the quality.

How to get there:
Ang Ang is located in Town Square of Eastland, which is right opposite Ringwood station.

Ang Ang by Chinta Ria Soul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

FOOD DIARY | Bali

As usual, we ate out pretty much every meal in Bali. Being a city in Southeast Asia meant that the food were all very affordable, compared to Australian standard that is. You can get a meal for as little as 5AUD, however, if you do choose to eat at more westernised restaurants, the prices does go up quite a bit.

Warung Kecil
https://www.facebook.com/warungkecilbali
Jl. Drupadi II no. 10, Denpasar, Bali 80361, Indonesia
+62 851 0002 0002

This is hands down our favourite place to eat in Bali, pretty sure we went back four or five times. They do a great selection of brunch dishes, as well as some more traditional Balinese food, which come in the form of Nasi Campur, where you get to choose one, two, or three dishes, and it comes with either brown, white or yellow rice.

Papaya Juice
Top: Banana Pancakes
Bottom: Zucchini and Rocket Frittata
Nasi Campur – Black Pepper Beef, Long Beans and Eggplant with Brown Rice
Top: Yellow Vegetable Curry
Bottom: Nasi Campur
Drinks: Fresh Coconut
French Toast
Strawberry and Romaine Lettuce Salad
Egg Breakfast
The food were great themselves, but what kept us coming back was the service, specifically, a waiter named Indra. He was just so friendly and kind, and made the restaurant feel like home to us.
Potato Head
Jl. Petitenget No. 51B, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 83061, Indonesia
+62 361 4737979

Beef Nachos
Potato Head is one of the many beach clubs in Bali, and probably one of the most famous ones at that. To get a cabana-esque seats by the beach, the minimum spending is roughly around 50AUD, and it’s pretty easy to reach. The ambience was very relaxing, and they had a great selection of music. Make sure you put on plenty of sunscreen though!

The Cabin Coffee Shop
Jl. Drupadi Gg. Rukun no.1 Badung, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Iced Mocha
Steak Sandwich
Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich
Onion Rings

This was another coffee shop close to where we stayed, in fact, it was literally right around the corner. The food were pretty average, and the portions were quite small. The onion rings were good though, with a light crispy batter that puffed up a little.

Warung Ladhu
Jl. Dhyana Pura (Camplung Tanduk), Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia
+62 812 4618 1812

Left: Strawberry Juice
Right: Pineapple Juice
Gado Gado
Mee Goreng
Bintang
Banana Fritters
We came here for dinner because of their outdoor seatings. It kind of reminded me of picnic tables, and just gave off a really chill vibe. We ordered a couple of the Indonesian dishes, which didn’t taste very authentic. The banana fritters we ordered for dessert was great however, it was different from the usual banana fritters, and had a much thicker and crispier batter.

Random Street Food #1

We were getting pedicures at a beauty salon, and the workers were getting these Gado Gados from a vendor that was riding around in a bicycle outside. We were very curious and they were kind enough to give us some bowls and spoons so we could try it out! This is much better than the Gado Gado I had at Warung Ladhu, the sauce was very flavoursome, and the fresh chilli sure packed some heat!

Coco Cafe & Grill
https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Restaurant_Review-g469404-d3626543-Reviews-Coco_Cafe_Grill-Seminyak_Bali.html
Jl. Kayu Aya, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia
62734503

Lemon Bintang
Deep Fried Duck
Nasi Campur
Left: Banana Fritters
Right: Dadar Gulung
Dadar Gulung
Banana Fritters
Shisha
Coco Cafe & Grill was located on quite a busy street, I was really excited to see the deep fried duck on the menu, as I’ve heard that it’s a Balinese specialty. The duck leg had a very dense batter, and was fried until crispy. I was expecting a more flavoursome batter with plenty of herbs and spices, regardless, it was still yummy to eat, but then again, what deep fried thing isn’t?
Nameless Restaurant #1
Babi Guling

Babi guling is one of the food I was most excited to try in Bali! It’s essentially a myriad of pork related dishes served with rice. There was curry roast pork, crackling, puffed up crackling, pork jerky of some sort, and a stir fry of pork with some sort of pickled vegetables. The roast pork was a little dry, but the stir fry was amazing! It was packed full of flavour, and I could seriously just eat that with the rice. The soup is also an essential, and my friend thought it tasted like a fish soup her mum makes at home.

Wahaha
http://www.wahaharibs.com/
Jl. Sunset Road Barat 1689 | Barat No.1689, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia
+62 361 8475655

We wanted some more babi guling but didn’t know where to go, so we seeked help from our taxi driver. There must’ve been some miscommunication though, since he drove us to Wahaha, which was famous for their American style pork ribs. Since we were there already, we settled and just ordered a couple dishes from the menu, since neither of us felt like ribs. The meals were unmemorable, but the soup I had did have a similar flavour to a lot of other Balinese dishes I’ve tried.

Warung Motivation
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Warung-Motivation/1596561297241216
Jln Camplung Tanduk No. 74 Seminyak Kuta Bali

I can’t find anything besides a Facebook page for this restaurant, but it was located close to our villa, and had a sign out front that said they had babi guling! Of course we chose to dine here for our last meal. The babi guling had a nicer presentation than the one we had on the side of the street, and a few more elements were included. However, the flavours were less punchy, but it was still nice to eat.

Ku De Ta
http://www.kudeta.net/
Jl. Kayu Aya, Seminyak, Bali
+62 361 736969

Right: Vanilla Passion Foam

This was another beach club that we paid a visit to. The ambience was quite different, as the crowd was older here. We already had a meal previously, so we just settled for a couple of drinks. The only one that I remember distinctly is the vanilla passion foam, the foam was very fruity and sweet, and seriously tasted like unicorns.

We did take a look at their menu, and things were very pricey, even for Australian standard, so that’s a thing you gotta keep in mind!

Nameless Restaurant #2

Long Island Iced Tea

Before our flight, we had a couple of hours to kill, and what better way to end a trip than some drinks and shisha? The Long Island was on the weaker side of things, which was good I guess. The shisha had a milk, instead of water base, which meant that it was a lot creamier than usual!

And that’s a wrap! If you’ve read my travel diary in Bali, you would know my thoughts on Bali as a whole already. But I gotta say, some of the food were delicious regardless, especially the more traditional ones!

Rice Paper Scissors

Rice Paper Scissors has been on my to visit list for what seems like forever, but long lines are just not my thing under normal circumstances. When they opened up a new store in Fitzroy though, I was determined to hit it up before the new year approaches.

And it was a success! We arrived around 1pm on a weekday, and the restaurant was pretty empty. Although that did leave me in a bit of a doubt, what if the food isn’t as good?!

Vietnamese Iced Coffee – $3.50

The Vietnamese iced coffee was a promising way to start however, the mason jar had a generous coating of condensed milk, and were filled to the brim with the coffee. After mixing the condensed milk thoroughly, we were rewarded with some delicious icy cold coffee.

BBQ Lamb Ribs

Like most other people, we opted for the 5 for $55 deal, most of the dishes were around the $11 to
$15 mark. The BBQ lamb ribs were the first to arrive. The glaze on the ribs itself was sticky and scrumptious, and there were plenty of crispy edges on the ribs. Although I did feel like the lamb flavour was a bit lost, due to the overwhelming sweetness from the glaze.

Twice Cooked Pork Belly w/ Chilli Caramel Sauce

It’s no secret that I love my pork belly by this stage, so ordering this was a no brainer. The large cubes of pork belly was stewed until the meat is tender, then fried to get the exterior nice and crispy. The chilli caramel sauce took the whole thing one step further, the only negative about this dish is how long it would take on the treadmill to burn all that calories. But hey, this is not the place for #health #inspo.

I think this is not on their new menu though, what a shame 😦

Crying Tiger

Crying tiger is a dish I’ve only tried before, and all I could remember was how spicy it was. The beef had some beautiful char marks, and were topped off with some chilli and herb salsa.

 After wrapping it up in the lettuce leafs, this was a light yet flavoursome little morsel.

Thai Fried Chicken

The fried chicken came in these adorable little paper cartons, and the golden brown colour was so alluring.

The batter was extremely crispy and the inside remained tender and moist, however, I didn’t find it particularly Thai.

Barramundi w/ Apple and Herbs Salad 

We originally ordered something else that was sold out on the day, and changed to the barramundi instead, and this was definitely my favourite dish of the day. I love it when things work out like that. The barramundi was coated in a light batter and fried perfectly – they sure know how to work that deep fryer here – but what really blew me away was the salad on top. And this is quite a statement coming from me, since I’m not a huge salad person at all. The various Asian herbs created a complex yet refreshing salad, that was extremely punchy in flavour, which pretty much sums up what I think of when it comes to food from some parts of Asia.

The restaurant remained relatively quiet the whole time we were here, which was a surprise. Although some dishes were quite average, the stand outs really did just that, stand out, making the overall experience very enjoyable. With a menu that seems to change quite regularly, Rice Paper Scissors is somewhere I’d happily return to.

How to get there:
Rice Paper Scissors is located on Brunswick Street, catch tram #11 and get off at stop #16 Brunswick St/Johnson St, and it’s one minute walk away.

Rice Paper Scissors Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Conservatory

Happy blogiversary to me! I can’t believe it’s been one year already since I started this blog haha, we’ve definitely come a long way.

Given the significance of this post, I thought it would only be fitting for me to blog about a special restaurant. And Conservatory certainly fills that criteria; ever since I started coming here on my birthday three years ago, it kind of became a tradition.

With a view of the riverbank, high ceilings, plush leather chairs and spacious setting, Conservatory fits right in amongst some other spectacular restaurants inside Crown. A booking is pretty much a requirement, as the restaurant is always filled, no matter what time of day.

There was a cute little bread basket already waiting for us, and some lemon water for us to wash our hands in after digging in some seafood, and thus, the night began.

Conservatory is divided into three main sections; cold meats and cheese, seafood and salad bar; the hot food section, and then the desserts. Here is some of the sushi that was on offer.

Oysters, Prawns, Crab

The prawns are always gigantic, and the meat remains tight and succulent. The crabs were my favourite of the seafood though, the meat was extremely sweet, and although it takes a bit more work, the end result is definitely worth it!

Scallop Ceviche, Cold Cuts, Bocconcini, Duck Salad, Bread, Bread Sticks

I also got some salad and cold meats. The spongey bocconcini balls were delightful, and the sheer novelty of the bread sticks made them fun to eat. The highlight, however, was the shredded duck salad, as the dressing was extremely fragrant, and complimented the duck perfectly.

Prawns, Oysters

The oysters come and go like crazy, since everyone’s obsessed with them. They were relatively fresh, and with a light squeeze of lemon juice over the top, they were ready to be slurped up.

Roast pork, Calamari, Pork Rib, Roast Pork (HK style), Garlic and Cheese Naan, Tandoori Chicken, Pumpkin, Mashed Potato

It was time to move onto the hot food. There was so much to choose from, so I got a bit of everything. The roast pork was a bit dry, but I couldn’t be bothered to go back for more gravy. The other type of roast pork was lovely though, with its fatty meat and crispy skin. My favourite is always the garlic and cheese naan though, because it’s cooked in front of you, the cheese is still gooey by the time I get my hands on them, and it’s seriously addictive, especially when paired with the tandoori chicken.

Roast Potato, Chicken, Roast Beef, Roast Lamb, Green Beans

The second plate was a lot less memorable, just because I was getting pretty full by this point, and yeh, you know when you start eating for the sake of eating? That kind of happened here 😦 I do remember enjoying the roast beef though, it was still pink in the centre, and with some of that crushed black salt, the beef was tender and delicious.

We received two glasses of complimentary champagne since it was my birthday haha.

As you can tell, they take their desserts very seriously here at Conservatory. From chocolate fondue and ice cream, to fruits and tiny cute little cakes and slices, no expenses are spared.

I managed to take 21 desserts, since I was turning 21 HAHAHA I’m so cool I know. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to finish the desserts, as much as I wanted to. My favourites were the eclairs and the fruit cups.

While we were stuffing our face with the decadent desserts, the waitress placed down a cake for us, also complimentary. It would’ve been a hard task to finish the cake between the two of us on a good day, let alone the fact that we were literally filled to the brim. I did manage to try a tiny little slice, and from memory, it was an orange and chocolate cake.

Conservatory will always hold a special place in my heart, if you haven’t noticed already, I love birthdays. With the incredulous amount of food on offer, Conservatory is definitely one of the best buffet in Melbourne. The service is always on point too, as expected. With a beautiful setting, and even better food, Conservatory is great for any special occasion, or if you just feel like a treat 😉

How to get there:
Conservatory is located inside Crown, which is accessible by tram #96, #12 and #109 from Southern Cross Station.

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