Dessert Story

Dessert Story serves up a range of Taiwanese desserts, and has opened up several stores in Melbourne over the years. My friend and I popped into the one on Swanston Street for some quick dessert after it started pouring one night.

Coconut Colada with Aloe Vera and Diced Mango – $5.90

I was really thirsty and decided to get a drink, this was actually the first time I’ve tried a drink from Dessert Story. The coconut colada had a distinctive coconut taste, and the aloe vera and diced mango both added some textual interest to the drink. I do wish that the colada itself was a bit thinner in consistency though, so that it would be easier to drink through the straw.

Salty Crispy Popcorn Chicken (Spicy) – $6.80

Nothing spectacular about these popcorn chicken, but they were still quite nice to eat regardless. It wasn’t really spicy though, more chilli powder please!

Red Bean Milk Crushed Ice – $8.90

Red bean syrup and condensed milk were poured over a tall pile of crushed ice, and there was plenty of red beans at the bottom too. The ice can get hard sometimes, which is why I’ve always preferred the snow ice over regular crushed ice. The sweetness of the condensed milk and red bean was not overwhelming, and it was a nice combination of flavours.

Dessert Story is a place that serves up a selection of decent renditions of Taiwanese desserts, I always know exactly what to expect when I come in, and that reassurance is probably one of the main reasons that I return to Dessert Story regularly.

How to get here:
Dessert Story is located on Swanston Street, 5 minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

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Satu Produk Durian

Satu Produk Durian is a new Asian styled dessert place in Chinatown. It’s pretty easy to miss, since there’s no obvious signs or anything, but it was actually pretty busy when we visited on a weekday night.

Durian Mille Crepe – $6.80 

Durian crepe cake? Yes, please! There was too much cream for my liking however, which weakened the durian flavour.

Durian Balls in Iced Milk (Part of Meal 3) – $10.80 

The durian balls in iced milk may sound strange on paper, but it was hands down our favourite of the night. It was literally durian chunks in cold milk, with slices of frozen milk too, and who knew that durian would taste so good with milk? I guess durian milkshake is a thing for a reason. The cold milk stopped the durian from being too rich, and added a refreshing touch.

Durian Pancake (Part of Meal 3) – $10.80

The durian pancake was part of a set meal with the durian balls in iced milk, and it’s tinyyyyy, photos just don’t show the proportion properly.

This was pretty much the durian mille crepe in a different form, but had a little more durian once you split open the two halves.

Satu Produk Durian originated from Macau, and has a number of franchises in China already, this was its first Australian location. If you like durian, definitely come and try out some desserts, since it’s something that’s not easily accessible as of now.

How to get here:
Satu Produk Durian is located on the Ground Floor of Mid City Arcade in Chinatown, two blocks down from Melbourne Central.

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Nine Taiwanese Dessert House

Straying away from the usual choice of Dessert House, we ventured out to Nine Taiwanese Dessert House after our meal at Jimmy Grants one night.

Soy Tofu No.5 – $7.70

The taro and sweet balls were nice and chewy, but the mashed taro was a little lumpy. The soy tofu was very smooth, although it was a little bland because the the soup itself lacked flavour.

Mango Silk Tofu Pudding – $7.50

This icy cold dessert went down a treat in the long gone Summer nights. Mixing the mango through the sugar syrup definitely elevates the silk tofu to the next level.

Sago No. 4 – $7.00

On the photo shown on the menu there was fresh mango on top of the sago, and we were quite disappointed when the mango wasn’t there. Regardless, the sago in coconut milk was quite pleasant and refreshing, and the mango coulis of some sort was a nice extra touch.

Nine Taiwanese Dessert House was not all that memorable, but I’m glad at least I gave it a go I guess. Oh yeh, the floor’s super slanted inside the restaurant which weirded me out a little.

How to get there:
Nine Taiwanese Dessert House is located on Swanston Street, 5 minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

Nine Taiwanese dessert house on Urbanspoon

Straits Cafe

Straits Cafe has been a family favourite for years. It may not look like much from the outside, but it serves up some of the best Malaysian food in Melbourne.
Sar Hor Fun – $12.00

Best Sar Hor Fun in Melbourne, enough said haha. But seriously, the egg sauce on top is full of flavour, and I loveeee the tiny pieces of crispy pork fat (it’s not crackling, since it’s got no skin just the fat) and the pickled jalapeño cut through the richness of the sauce perfectly, I always ask for extra!

Sar Hor Fun – $12.00

Underneath that amazing sauce, the hor fun has ample amount of wok hei – omnomnom, with a range of the usual accompaniments – chicken, bok choi, fish cake, prawn, calamari, I can eat this all day everyday.

Straits offers a simple menu, but everything we’ve tried has been delicious! That’s when I’m able to stray away from the Sar Hor Fun LOL. Definitely a hidden gem on Stud Road!

How to get there:
Straits Cafe is located at the Studfield Shopping Centre on Stud Road, catch the bus 664 and get off at Studfield Shopping Centre/Stud Road, or alternatively, catch 737 and get off at Stud Road/Coleman Road, both bus stops are less than 5 minutes walk away from the restaurant.

Straits Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Waya

How quaint is the little water tap?

There are quite a few Japanese restaurants popping out in Glen Waverley, I’ve heard great things about Waya from a couple of friends, and decided it was time for me to try it out.

Panoramic ’cause that’s how much we ordered LOL

Waya had a nice selection of sushi, sashimi, snacks, bentos and ramen, the long menu meant that we literally took half an hour deciding what to order, because we wanted to try a little bit of everything.

Waya Sushi | 4 California rolls, 2 grilled salmon nigiri, 1 prawn nigiri, 1 tamago nigiri – $12.50
One of my friends really wanted some California rolls, but instead of ordering a whole plate of that, we decided to order a nice platter that gave us a selection of several sushis and nigiris. The standout was the grilled salmon nigiri for me, the salmon was nicely blow-torched, with a little bit of sweet soy drizzled on top.
Waya Maki | Inside out rolls with salmon, cucumber and avocado topped with tobiko and spicy sauce | $12.50
I love tobiko, they have such an unique texture, and added a lot to these rolls. The salmon didn’t taste too fresh though, but once doused in soy and wasabi, it was barely noticeable.
Wafu Salad | Mixed vegetables with tomato, cucumber, onion, corn served with special Japanese sesame sauce – $7
To counter-balance all the fried food we ordered, we decided to get one salad at least. The sesame dressing didn’t have a strong sesame flavour, which was a shame. Although it was not stated on the menu, most of the bowl was filled with shredded cabbage. The salad was pretty average, but more dressing definitely would’ve helped. Oh yeh, fun fact of the day – apparently corns don’t get digested at all.
Takoyaki | Deep fried octopus balls with special sauce and mayonnaise, topped with boniko flakes – $6.50
There was certainly a lot of boniko with the takoyaki, it fascinated me everytime when the flakes curl up due to the heat. The takoyaki that were hidden underneath were quite tasty, with plenty of octopus pieces.
Seafood Nuggets | Deep fried scallops served with mayonnaise – $8
After seeing seafood nuggets on the menu, I thought it would be fried crab stick or something, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they were actually scallops that has been deep fried, with a crumbly batter! The scallops were plump and juicy, and paired perfectly with the kewpie.
Chicken Teriyaki Bento – $13.80
We decided to order a bento as well, ’cause you know, we need more food. The bento was served with teriyaki chicken, two pieces of califonia rolls, tamago, seaweed salad, yakito, and a salad. The teriyaki chicken was average, tasted pretty similar to one that you could get from the food court to me, and the yakitori had a similar sauce to the teriyaki chicken, but it was a lot drier, probably our own fault for eating it last haha.
Waya
The eating experience at Waya was quite pleasant overall, they served up some nice dishes, and the booths towards the back of the restaurant felt quite secluded and gave us some privacy to laugh at stupid things without disturbing the other customers (or so we thought). It’s not authentic by all means, but then again, I haven’t visited Japan, so my expectations aren’t that high, yet.

Also, just a side note. UNAGI.

How to get there:
Waya is on Kingsway, a couple doors down from Century City Walk, which is 5 minutes walk away from Glen Waverley Station

Waya Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Ajisen Ramen

The first time I ever had Ajisen Ramen was in Hong Kong International Airport back in 2009, I remember it so vividly LOL, not the actual food, but just how hot and stuffy it was in the airport, and why the hell did I choose to eat a big hot bowl of ramen?!

Memories aside, I’ve tried out the Ajisen Ramen in Melbourne Central. We were at Glen Waverley one afternoon, none of us felt like Chinese food, but we still wanted to keep it reasonably cheap, so we went for Ajisen Ramen.

Tonkatsu Ramen | Ramen served with deep fried pork. egg, and vegetables – $12.50

Tonkatsu Ramen | Ramen served with deep fried pork, egg and vegetables

The service at Ajisen Ramen was pretty minimal, but the food came out real fast. The tonkatsu was decent, how can anything deep fried in batter not be? The pork was a bit dry, but once soaked in the soup it was all good. I hate that they put cabbage in this though, it just taste so bland, because it was probably just blanched in some water and dumped in the soup. The ramen itself was alright, the noodle a litter over-cooked, and the broth on the salty side, but strong with the pork flavour.

Spicy Miso Ramen | Ramen served with spicy meat, egg & vegetables in miso broth – $11.50

Spicy Miso Ramen | Ramen served with spicy meat, egg & vegetables in miso broth – $11.50

This didn’t taste that spicy when I first had some, but the more I ate, the spicier it got. The miso broth had a much milder flavour in comparison to the tonkotsu broth that the other ramen was served in. I like the vegetables in this ramen a lot better, shredded seaweed and bean shoot, there were still some cabbage but I just ignored those.

Nasu Dengaku | Deep fried eggplant served with miso sauce – $6.50

I don’t think the eggplant was deep fried, probably just grilled. Nonetheless, it had a silky texture, and paired perfectly with the miso sauce.

Ajisen Ramen in Glen Waverley was exactly what I expected, authentic by no means, but still manages to offer some decent renditions of Japanese for a reasonable price. When I can’t be bothered to travel far for a bowl of ramen, I’ll be happy to hit up Ajisen Ramen

How to get there:
Ajisen Ramen is located next to Century City Walk, a short 5 minutes walk from Glen Waverley Station.

Ajisen Ramen on Urbanspoon

Night Noodle Markets

Night Noodle Market

I never noticed before just how many markets are opened at this time of the year, whether it be food, antiques, clothes, or just any other nicknacks. The Night Noodle Market is another food event of The Age Good Food Month that was introduced last year, and in 2014, it’s brought back to us in a brand new location, with over 50 food stalls and food trucks. I actually missed out on the Night Noodle Market last year, because I was volunteering overseas, so this year, I was all like MUST NOT MISS OUT AGAIN LOL.

Longrain
Spiced chicken with Turmeric Rice and a Chilli and Mint Relish – $15

This was super duper disappointing. I’ve actually never visited Longrain myself, but I have heard great things about it, which might be why my expectations were so high for this dish. It was rather bland, and did not leave a strong impression on me. The chicken was a bit dry, the rice was a little undercooked, the cucumbers were just your average sliced cucumbers, and the ‘relish’ didn’t bring much to the dish either, actually it just tasted like fish sauce to me.

Longrain Melbourne on Urbanspoon

Izakaya Den
Den Fried Chicken (Small) – $8

There were 341982312765134 stalls/trucks selling fried chicken, and we chose the ones from Izakaya Den to start things off. The popcorn sized chicken were piping hot, straight from the deep fryer I’m assuming. Crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside, what more do you need? It was served with regular mayo rather than kewpie, which I think made all the difference, but oh well, I was already satisfied.

Izakaya Den on Urbanspoon

Mr Miyagi
Miyagi Fried Chicken (6 pcs) – $10

More fried chicken because why the hell not? MFC was all over instagram according to my friend, so we had to join the hype. Garlic, amongst other herbs, was the strongest flavour I could taste from the crispy batter, and it tasted divine. My friend claimed this to be the best fried chicken she’s had, I’m yet to try a couple more restaurants out, so I don’t want to say anything too early, but yes, they were pretty amazing. The two pieces on the top were the biggest, and they got pretty tiny towards the bottom, that’s just what’s expected from these types of places I guess haha. Again, mayo instead of kewpie, but these tasty chicken drumettes did not need any accompaniment, except maybe a cold beer (YWCFTS reference DUH).

Mr. Miyagi on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina
Street Hawker | Lime and chocolate brownie, peanut gelato, coconut and caramel jam, fortune cookie clusters, peanut cookie – $9 

This is seriously what turned my night upside down. No, I am not exaggerating. Messina was what I looked forward to the most at the Noodle Market. After they finally opened up a store on Smith Street, I have been there on numerous occasions, and it never failed to disappoint. Don’t get me wrong, the peanut gelato was amazing, the components all worked pretty well together, albeit a bit sweet, but that’s nothing I can’t handle. The biggest let down was the brownie, which was at the bottom of the gelato. Now, I’m no expert on physics, but I’m going to take a wild guess and say that the coldness of the gelato and the warmth of the brownie did not work well together, and made the brownie stuck the container. And by stuck, I mean stuck, for reals. Maybe if I had a knife I would be able to cut through the brownie, but all I was given was an useless plastic spoon. So yeh, it was a traumatising experience to say the least.
My friend got the Bangkok Holla and absolutely loved it, so by all means, do join the long queue at Messina, just don’t make the same mistake I did and order the Street Hawker T_____T

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

Hoy Pinoy
Inihaw Na Baboy | BBQ pork belly with banana ketchup glaze – 2 for $10

Under normal circumstances, I would not have gone for these skewers, not because they didn’t look delicious, but I already tried the things I had my eyes on, and would be happy to call it a night. However, the disaster at Messina left me feeling a little sad, and I needed these skewers to cheer me up. Hoy Pinoy had a stall at the Queen Victoria Night Market too, but they didn’t have these skewers. They tasted exactly how I imagined them to – the fat oozing out of the smoky pork belly, the banana ketchup glaze taking the whole thing to the next level. Needless to say, this led to the happy ending of my night. One thing though, they were lukewarm, possibly due to the long queue, and so they had to makes heaps in advance, the skewers are perfect otherwise.

Hoy Pinoy on Urbanspoon

Night Noodle Market

Was the market fun? Yes. Was the food amazing? No. Is it worth it? Meh. I mean, still go just to see what the fuss is all about, but don’t have high expectations for restaurants that usually serve up great food, just because it is a different environment, and chefs may not be able to demonstrate their forte. I’m still glad I went though, since you know, #noragrets

Details:
The Night Noodle Market is actually finishing this Sunday, so get in quick! It’s open 4pm-10pm on Saturday, and 4pm-9pm on Sunday!

How to get there:
The Night Noodle Market is located in Birrarung Marr this year, which is a short 5 minutes walk from Federation Square.