Colourful Yunnan

Colourful Yunnan was a pioneer in bringing Yunnan cuisine to Melbourne. Starting off with its Carlton location, the restaurant has since expanded into the suburbs. Even in Box Hill, where there are Chinese restaurants sprawled in every corner, Colourful Yunnan has found its footing, and attracts a moderate following on any day of the week.

Pao Lu Da – $6.50

As far as I’m aware, Pao Lu Da can only be found in Colourful Yunnan. Originating from Thailand and Myanmar, the coconut drink contains sago and torn pieces of baguette, which soaks up the creaminess of the drink. If you’re a fan of coconut, this is definitely worth trying.

Rice Noodle Soup with Stewed Pork Intestines – $13.80

Now this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but pork intestine, when done right, is something that I am quite fond of. The intestine can be a bit fatty at times, however, the spiciness of the soup does a good job of balancing that out. Although I wish there wasn’t so much chili oil floating on top, which I actually scooped out into a bowl so that I’m not drinking oil the whole time.

With its updated interior and expansive menu, it’s easy to see that Colourful Yunnan has found a winning formula of a restaurant. However, I do think that the quality of food is better at Tina’s Noodles right around the corner, with each variation of soup having a distinctive flavour at a similar price point.

How to get here:
Colourful Yunan is located inside Box Hill Shopping, get off at Box Hill Station and head upstairs, and the restaurant can be found in the same complex.

Colourful Yunnan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shaanxi-Style Restaurant

It’s been a while since I’ve paid a visit to Shaanxi-Style Restaurant, it used to be a family favourite, especially when my grandma was here, but nowadays we tend do eat in a lot more often, and when we are eating out, there is an endless list of restaurants to try out, making returning to an old favourite something of a novelty.

I was craving lamb skewers after a day trip in the Macedon ranges, and no place does them quite like Shaanxi-Style, hence how we ended up having dinner here. Nothing much has changed in terms of both the decor and the menu, and by that I mean extremely minimal decor, but pleasant enough. The menu may be quite daunting if you are unfamiliar with Shaanxi cuisine, it’s heavy with spice, noodles, and all sorts of soups, and if you really don’t know what to order, at least there’s some photos on the menu to guide you.

1

Special Pork Feet – $7.00

We had some trotters to start, now if you’ve never tried pork trotters, this may not be the best place to start. The trotters were braised in what is commonly known as ‘lu shui’, a master stock of kind, it usually has a mixture of soy, cinnamon, star anise, clove and cardamom, and what ever secret ingredient each restaurant has up their sleeve, the braising liquid is used over and over again, turning it into an extremely flavoursome concoction. This was served warm, which is something I’m not used to, since we always have it cold at home, giving it more of a bite. The skin and the tendon of the trotter were cooked down to a gelatinous state, and were a delight to eat.

2

Lamb Noodle Soup – $10.90

Melbourne’s weather suddenly took a dip, and what better way to combat that than to have a big bowl of hot noodle soup?

This was the first time we had the lamb noodle soup, and the soup itself had a distinctive lamb flavour, with the addition, of bok choi, tofu puffs, black fungus and bits of lamb.

3

I originally expected the noodles to be handmade, but unfortunately, this was not the case. The noodle lacked the bite that handmade noodles have, but it was quite moreish nonetheless.

4

Lamb Skewers – $2.50 each

Onto the reason that we ended up in the restaurant at all, the lamb skewers! I will always have a soft spot for these in my heart, and on this night, Shaanxi-Style delivered again. The large chunks of lamb were grilled over charcoal, with a generous seasoning of salt, cumin and chilli powder, my favourite part about these skewers are the charred edges, especially with the more fattier bits, where the fat has gone completely crispy.

Shaanxi-Style may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are sick of fried rice and dumplings, or just feeling a bit adventurous, then give it a go, then at least you’ll know for sure whether you are a fan or not!

How to get here:
Shaanxi-Style is located on Whitehorse Road, five minutes walk from Box Hill Station, which is on the Belgrave and Lilydale line.

Shaanxi-Style Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Golistan

Afghan food is pretty foreign to me, and out of all places, I did not expect Box Hill to be the home of an authentic Afghan restaurant, but that just goes to tell you how diverse Melbourne truly is.

We were a bit confused when we first got to the restaurant, after parking at the rear of the restaurant, we had to walk through the kitchen to arrive at the tables. But after the confusion was over, the whift of freshly baked goods and grilled meat made us feel at home, although the decor was minimal, and there were a few tables plastered around in the small space.

1

Complimentary Afghan Bread

After looking through the menu, Afghani food appeared to be similar to Lebanese and Persian food, all of which I love. The basket of complimentary Afghan bread that was made in the house was placed in front of us after we had placed our order, and man, these are some of the best free bread going around! Crispy and chewy, these bread were great on their own, but even better when had with the grilled meats!

2

Chicken Tikka – $16.00

The chicken pieces were marinated in a mix of mild spices before being freshly grilled, and man, these were good! Each piece was full of flavour and extremely tender, although I don’t know what spices were involved, it’s definitely a well balanced mix.

3

Lamb Tikka Kebab – $16.00

The lamb tikka were even better! The spice mix seems to be less intense than the chicken version, allowing the meaty flavour of the lamb to shine through. Although the servings were quite generous, we still had to fight for the last piece!

4

Manto – $14.00

Onto something more unusual, we tried out the manto. These were reminiscent of dumplings, with a filling of lamb mince, and were served with a tangy yoghurt sauce on top. The filling was a bit bland for my liking, but the sauce compensated for that.

5

With its ample use of spice and occasional sighting of vegetables (look at that sad salad), Afghan food is right up my alley! Given its convenient location, I’ll definitely be back for more.

How to get there:
Golistan is located on Station Street, a 10 minutes walk from Box Hill Station, which is inside Box Hill Central

Golistan Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Simon’s Peking Duck

Peking Duck is a traditional Chinese dish from Beijing, duh! It involves roasting an entire duck by hanging it onto metal hooks, the entire process is quite complicated, I think you have to fill the duck with water for a long time to ensure that the skin is expanded, and that’s the secret to crispy skin apparently?

Simon’s Peking Duck is said to serve some of the best Peking Duck in Melbourne, and we finally paid it a visit earlier this year with the whole family.

1

The man himself, throwing pancakes like it’s no big deal.

2

Peking Duck

It seems silly to order anything other than Peking Duck, given that there was nine of us, we opted for three whole ducks, one duck is usually enough to share between two or three. Each duck comes with the duck itself, duck meat stir fried with your choice of noodles or with bean shoot, and duck bone soup with beancurd, which I didn’t manage to get a photo of. The noodles set is $64.80 per duck, while the bean shoot version will set you back $54.80 per duck, which is very reasonably priced imo.

3

Cucumbers and Spring Onion

4

Wrapping in action

For those of you who have not had Peking Duck before, it does take a bit of DIY. Simon will show you how it’s done at the beginning, so make sure you watch what he does closely! But basically, place one piece of cucumber, one piece of spring onion, and one (or two, if you’re feeling like double meat) piece of duck onto the pancake, and spoon some of the Peking sauce on top. And then just wrap it like how you would a burrito!

5

All wrapped up

When you’ve got the little wrap happening, it’s time to shove it all in your mouth! The crispiness of the duck, with the oil oozing out of every bite, complemented by the crunchy cucumber and spring onion, and sweetened by the Peking sauce, it’s seriously a flavour explosion in your mouth. You’ll finish this in less than a minute and making your second one right away, trust me. Each set comes with 15 pancakes, which means that there’s plenty for everyone!

6

Duck Meat Stir Fried with Handmade Noodles

The noodles were a bit overcooked, and they’re a lot less rustic than I expected. The flavour was still good though, and the shitake mushroom added some earthiness to the dish.

7

Duck Meat Stir Fried with Hor Fun (Thick)

The hor fun actually tasted better than the handmade noodles, which I did not expect tbh haha. I think it’s because it wasn’t as saucey, which meant the hor fun still had a bit of bite to it.

8

Duck Meat Stir Fried with Bean Shoot

The bean shoot version of the stir fry was certainly a lot lighter, and the crunch of the bean shoot created some interest to the dish.9

The atmosphere at Simon’s Peking Duck is definitely on the loud end, approaching obnoxious even. Service wise, besides Simon himself, I actually found the staff quite rude, we had a few questions about the types of noodles to use in the stir fry, and the maître d (I’m assuming) answered us very impatiently and almost forced us to order something, there’s a difference between a suggestion and pushing a choice onto the diners, and he definitely took the latter approach. This unfortunately tainted our dining experience.

If you are to visit Simon’s Peking Duck however, make sure you make a booking beforehand and tell them how many ducks you wish to order, as they often do run out on a busy night!

How to get there:
Catch the bus #733 and get off at Aldinga St/Middleborough Rd, and the restaurant is two minutes walk away.

Simon's Peking Duck Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

First Taste

First Taste is a place that a lot of people from my high school went to, and when catching up with a couple of friends the other day, we decided to pay it a visit for old time’s sake.
Satay Beef Fillet with Rice – $10.50

Good ol’ satay beef. This really took us on a trip down memory lane. The beef were tender and flavoursome, and the satay sauce had a good amount of peanuts.

But the best part about these claypot rice is when you mix things up, and the bottom of the pot would have the crispy bits of rice. We asked for extra satay sauce, and they happily gave us a small bowl of it at no extra cost, which is always nice.

First Taste remains how I remember it, comfort food with little frills. There’s also a bunch of soups that have various health benefits, so if that’s your sort of thing, hit it up.

How to get there:
First Taste is located on Station Street, 5 minutes walk from Box Hill Station.

First Taste Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Grill Place

BBQ lamb skewers is one of the things I miss the most about China, sizzling over an open charcoal grill to the point where the fat is dripping, with copious amount of cumin on top, things really don’t get much better than that. When we spotted Grill Place on the way home one day, I made a mental note to visit it, and the day was finally here!

With $25.90 per head, you’re given a piece of paper with all the items, from cold dishes, grilled items, to more substantial offerings such as dumplings noodles, and after marking all the things you want, hand over the piece of paper, and your dishes will start piling out!

Clockwise: Peanuts, Enoki Mushrooms with Cucumber, Chicken Feet, Flat Rice Noodle Salad, Chicken Giblets

We started things off with a selection of cold dishes. The peanuts were morish, and the chicken feet were cooked in a mixture with rice wine, giving it a light yet spicy taste. The chicken giblets were mixed with some chill sauce, and had a nice bite to it. My mum’s favourite was the rice noodle salad, it was acidic and refreshing, and a great palette cleanser. My favourite, on the other hand, was the enoki mushrooms with cucumber, I love enoki mushrooms, they have such a great texture, and the cucumber added some more crunch.

Chicken Skin & Lamb Skewers

Onto the main show of the light, the BBQ skewers! The lamb skewers were marinated first in cumin seeds and chilli powder, and after being put on the hot plate, it smelt absolutely divine (such an old school word haha). Each bite was delicious, the only thing that would have made it better was MORE CUMIN, because you can never have enough. The chicken skin, on the other hand, took a lot longer to cook, and although tasty, it didn’t crisp up like I hoped it would.

Sausage, Tendon, Yellow Croaker, Pork Chop

More BBQing ’cause yolo. The fish was the standout from this bunch, it was very tender after being lightly grilled. The tendon tasted a bit funny from grilling, because it was all kind of sloppy and yeh, the texture was just strange.

Chives, Sausage, Pork Chops

Time to get our vegetable intake of the day yay. It was pretty much like a regular stir fried chives in a wok, which is always a winner in my book. The sausage and pork chops on the other hand, were unremarkable, I wish they caramelised more easily!

Steamed Dumplings

We got a plate of dumplings to finish things off, and by this point, I was pretty darn full, but I still managed to squeeze in a couple of them. The skin was slightly overcooked, but it was thin nonetheless. The filling of pork and cabbage were pleasant, although nothing extraordinary.

If you crave lamb skewers like I do, or if you just wanna give it a go, Grill Place is the perfect restaurant to visit. Just make sure you’re not wearing your Sunday best, since things do tend to get pretty smoky in there!

How to get there:
Grill Place is located on Canterbury Road, catch bus #732 from Box Hill station, and get off at Canterbury Road/Station Street, and the restaurant is one minute walk away!

Grill Place Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fancy Oriental

Late dinner options are pretty limited in the suburbs, we don’t have the luxury of having Stalactites around the corner, so it’s pretty much either pizza or, well, good ol’ Chinese food, hence how we ended up in Fancy Oriental one night.
Just a side note, their menu is all in Chinese, but I’ll try my best to translate the dishes we ordered!
镇江焗肉排 / Zhenjiang Baked Pork Ribs – $16.80

And because no one feels like healthy food at 9’o clock at night, we started things off with some sweet and sticky ribs. The ribs were fried in a thick-ish batter, before being tossed in some sweet and sour sauce. It reminded me of sweet and sour pork, in a good way. The ribs were fatty and full of flavour, and the portion was huge!

游水鲍鱼仔(蒜蓉)/ Abalones with Minced Garlic – $12.00 for 3

My mum insisted on some abalones, ’cause, well, Asians. The abalones were plumb and juicy, and the minced garlic added a lot of flavour.

琥珀碧绿虾仁 / Walnuts, Broccoli, Black Fungus, Prawns – $22.80

We saw another table having this dish, and the colours looked so appetising so we ordered it too. The flavours were a lot more subtle in this dish, the prawns were succulent, and the candied walnuts added dimensions in both flavour and texture.

黄金软壳蟹 / Salted Egg Yolk Soft Shell Crab – $20.80

Remember when I said we don’t feel like eating anything healthy? Well, this is kind of the epitome of that. Compared to other batter, the salted egg yolk takes things to the next level, if you’ve never had salted egg before, you’re missing out. It’s salty and creamy and all so delicious.

招牌瑶柱淡菜滑片粥 / Signature Congee w/ Conpoy, Mussel and Sliced Fish – $8.80

Because the dishes we ordered were quite heavy, we also got a congee to balance it out. There’s obviously a few different types of seafood in this congee, but it didn’t taste too fishy overall. The consistency was a little watery for me, but the rice was cooked down pretty well.

The thing that stood out the most to me about Fancy Oriental was the service, it really isn’t all that often that you can get some semi-decent service in a Chinese restaurant in Box Hill, but our waitress was extremely helpful, and always had a smile on her face! Such a rare sight haha.

How to get there:
Fancy Oriental is located on Station Street, 5 minutes walk from Box Hill station.

Fancy Oriental Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato