Mesa Verde

There’s a lot of good stuff sprawled across the floors of Curtain House, and Mesa Verde is one of them. The drinks menu here is endless; it’s a no brainer then for the restaurant to be a popular choice for after work drinks, but we were here for the food.

Mesa Verde appears to have had a menu change since I’ve visited a couple of months ago, apologies in advance if you see something that you particularly fancy that isn’t on the current menu!

Tortilla Chips – $12.00

The house made tortilla chips is much better than the supermarket variety, with some added thickness that ensured it wouldn’t crack even when you’re scooping up an obscene amount of guacamole with it. Speaking of, the guacamole was creamy with a zing, and there was more than enough to go around with the chips.

Salmon Tostada – $7.00

Tostadas are great, first of all, it’s just a fun word that rolls off your tongue, and secondly, it’s essentially a crunchy taco, need I say more? The tostadas at Mesa Verde were topped off with the creamiest avocado, that had a mousse-like consistency, which went really well with the plump and fresh slices of salmon. Although this was messy to eat, the flavours meant that it was worth it.

Charred Corn – $8.00

I love charred corns, especially when they’re smothered in morita mayo and cotiya cheese, all lightened up with a squeeze of lime. Again, messy to eat, but well worth it.

School Prawns – $9.00

The school prawns were coated in an addictive layer of spicy seasoning, and would have definitely went well with a margarita. The pickled green chilli hiding behind the prawns had more than just a kick to it, so eat at your own risk.

Pork Taco – $7.00

To finish things off, we shared a couple of tacos. First up was the pork taco. the shredded pork lacked the oomph that I was looking for, but the chilli salsa did help it out, and the pickled radish gave it some texture.

Baja Fish Taco – $7.00

The baja fish taco was my pick of the night, although it took a ridiculous amount of time to pick off all the corianders. The fish itself was cooked in a light batter, and was perfectly tender inside. The herb aioli was quite mild, I think I would’ve preferred the smoke marita mayo here instead.

Given that drinks takes centre stage at Mesa Verde, it was nice to see that the restaurant did not neglect the food either. The bill does add up with tacos here and charred corns there, but it did have a groovy vibe (is this still a thing? asking for a friend), and I can certainly see myself returning and trying out some of the drinks.

How to get here:
Mesa Verde is located on the 6th floor of Curtain, on Swanston Street, just a short five minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

Mesa Verde Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Delhi Streets

Hidden away from the foot traffic, Delhi Streets lures diners in with a tentalising selection of Indian street food. Despite its location, diners were pouring in and out of the restaurant throughout the night. Being the keen beans we were and arriving just after 6pm, we safely secured some bar seats, and were excited to sample what was on offer inside the colourful and contemporary space.

Chaat Platter – $22.00

Being known for serving up street food, it should be no surprise that Delhi Streets had an extensive selection of entrees, some of which I haven’t seen elsewhere. Wanting to try a bit of everything, we opted for the chatt platter, which came filled with four types of chatt, ready to be devoured.

Chaat Platter – $22.00

The pani puri is something has quickly become a must-order for me. The novelty of pouring in the spiced water never seems to wear off, and the combination of the crunchy shell and soft potatoes is a great way to get your tastebuds excited for what’s to come.

Chaat Platter – $22.00

The aloo tikki was light and fluffy, the curry spices bringing layers of flavour to the potatoes.

Chaat Platter – $22.00

Smothered in tamarind chutney and yoghurt, papri chaat is the Indian counterpart to nachos. The flour crackers did the heavy lifting for the chickpea and potatoes, and it was a light and refreshing change to the traditional nachos.

Chaat Platter – $22.00

Bhel puri is reminiscent of a grain salad, and it was seriously texture city, with its combination of puffed rice and sev, i.e. small pieces of fried noodles. The tangy flavours come from the bhel chutney, rounding it up to be a salad not to be missed.

Special Thali – $16.00

The Special Thali is a good dish to order if you can’t decide on one curry to settle on, as you’re given the option to choose three of the available thalis. The butter chicken was thick and creamy, and was really taking comfort food to the next level. The lamb vindaloo, on the other hand, had a nice kick to it, and the chunks of lamb was extremely tender. The vegetarian option came in the form of lentil curry, which was mild and flavoursome. The accompanying naan was soft and pillowy, and were great for soaking up the various sauces. All in all, this was an extremely satisfying platter to share between two.

Taking on a refined and contemporary approach that doesn’t compensate flavour, it is easy to see why Delhi Streets is loved by many, of which now I am one of. I will definitely be back to try more things on its extensive menu.

How to get here:
Delhi Streets is located on Katherine Place, a short six minutes walk from Southern Cross Station.

Delhi Streets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gukbab

Gukbab literally means soup with rice, which is a way that some Korean stews are meant to be had, by mixing the rice through the soup and eating the whole thing together, almost like an instant version of congee. I had the dish a few times when I travelled to Korea (blog posts coming in March!), and was excited to see a restaurant in Melbourne that specialises in it.

It’s easy to miss the restaurant, with no clear signage and being scattered in the same building with a few other restaurants each with bigger signs. However, once you enter through the glass doors, the strong scent of sizzling bulgogi and Army stews will let you know that you’re in the right place.

Banchan

The free banchans consisted of a pasta salad, pickled onion, and your obligatory kimchi. Nothing out of the ordinary here, and they were all fun to munch on after we placed our order.

Kimchi Jiggae – $15.00

Despite there being plenty of soups and stews that were harder to find in other Korean restaurants, we ordered the classic kimchi jiggae on this occasion. I make kimchi jiggae quite often at home, especially during Winter, but this was definitely better than my homemade version. It had a great depth of flavour in the soup itself, that’s made up of more than just kimchi and gochujang, which made for a great base for the sweet potato noodle and pork in the stew.

Japchae – $16.00

Japchae is a common Korean dish that is essentially stir fried sweet potato noodle with thinly sliced veggies, including capsicum, carrots, black fungus, mushrooms and beef. The slippery sweet potato noodles were sweet and salty, with a strong sesame flavour from the ample use of sesame oil, a staple in Korean cuisine. Despite this being a quite pedestrian dish usually, I actually really enjoyed it.

Cheese Bukdak – $19.00

The fiery colour of the stir fried chicken caught our eyes first, and this was actually quite spicy. The chicken pieces were quite tender, and the cheese toned down the spiciness slightly. The strong spicy flavour meant that it was a great dish to have with a plain bowl of rice, but if you can’t handle a lot of heat, I’d say give this a miss, or be prepared to be drinking plenty of water after every bite.

Everything that we tried at Gukbab was quite authentic, and the restaurant is great for a bigger gathering, given the extensiveness of the menu, ranging from stews, fried chicken, bibimbab, hot plates and even bingsu!

The byu-dagi guk bab is said to be the signature dish of the restaurant, and I definitely look forward to trying it out on my next visit, just gotta wait until the 40 degrees days are over.

How to get here:
Gukbab is located on Little Lonsdale Street, just two minutes walk away from Flagstaff station.

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

Shandong Mama

There’s always some frozen homemade dumplings on hand at home, courtesy of my mum, and they’re hands down my favourite dumplings ever. This makes it especially rare for me to eat dumplings when I’m out. I was more than willing to make an exception for Shandong Mama though, given that the restaurant specialises in mackerel dumplings, a filling that I’m entirely unfamiliar with.

Fish Dumplings (boiled, 10 pcs) – $16.80

My heart sank when I saw on the menu that the filling of the fish dumpling was made with coriander and mackerel, being a long-time avid coriander hater. But whatever, I decided to suck it up and order them anyway, since that was the reason we were here.

The dumplings were very floppy looking due to the mousse-like consistency of the fillings. The filling tasted okay, as okay as it can be with the additional coriander at least. If you liked fish and didn’t hate coriander though, I’m sure it would be perfectly pleasant. However, the dumplings were overcooked, which meant that the skin was very soft, and one of them had broken during the cooking process.

Beef Dumplings – Fried (10 pcs) – $13.80

We also tried out the fried beef dumplings. The shape of these dumplings were quite unconventional, gaps were left intentionally on both end of each dumplings, said to allow the juice of the beef filling to flow out and seep into the bottom crispy skin to maximise flavour. The skin of the fried dumplings were a lot thinner than the boiled renditions, and held everything together nicely. These were pretty good, the strong mixture of soy and spring onion meant that these were tasty mouthfuls with a crispy bottom.

I was pretty disappointed with my visit to Shandong Mama to be honest. I couldn’t justify the hefty price tags on these for the slightly above average taste and small portion, only ten dumplings per serving! I’m glad that I was finally able to put an end of my curiosity about the fish dumplings, but I think I’ll stick with my mum’s dumplings for the time being.

How to get here:
Shandong Mama is located in Midcity Arcade between Little Bourke Street and Bourke Street, a ten minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

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

Brim CC

Brim CC is a no-frill Japanese restaurant that serves up a range of home-cooked comfort meals, including their famous curries, which you can have paired with a salad or a soup; omurice, udon and the like.

The decor is minimal to say the least, with tables that could fit around ten to fifteen diners. Although simple, it was very welcoming. There was bookshelf to browse through, and a Japanese map made with stuffed cloth, highlighting some of the attractions you could find in different prefectures of Japan.

Brim CC Bento Box – $12.90

It was quite a humid day, which meant that I had to pass up on the curry to prevent myself from sweating up a storm, and settled for the titular bento box instead.

The bento plate, rather than box, reminded me of how versatile Japanese food can be. The plate was filled with Japanese potato salad, rice balls, meatball, tofu topped with a sweet miso sauce, and a carrot salad.

Brim CC Bento Box – $12.90

Everything was cooked with love and care, and I especially enjoyed the miso sauce. It was a nutritious meal that left me feeling satisfied but not stuffed.

Brim CC is nothing fancy, but the food here reminds me of dishes that can only be cooked by a mum, delicious and nutritious. Maybe it’s not a great place to impress a date, but on nights that you’re not quite feeling up to the task of cooking yourself, this is the perfect place to be. Oh, and the fact that most dishes cost under $15 definitely doesn’t hurt either.

How to get here:
Brim CC is located on Little Collins Street, a short 5 minutes walk from Southern Cross Station.

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

Goodovening

Some food trends come and go, but Korean fried chicken is here to stay, and I’m all for it – nothing brings satisfaction to the table quite like a plate of greasy chicken.

While there are some promising restaurants that can always be counted on, I had wanted to try out Goodovening for a while now. The restaurant had been packed on the few times that I had walked past, so we made sure to book beforehand.

The outdoor seating area was reminiscent of restaurants scattered on the streets of Seoul, being slightly elevated, lit dimly and the tables are set under clear covers, which means diners can sit outside all year round.

Complimentary

I have no idea what these were, and it’s hard to describe the taste. They were sort of tasteless to be honest, and quite hard, but were fun to nibble on nonetheless. We finished chewing on these quickly actually, and the waitress was more than happy to bring us more without us having to ask.

Fried Chicken (16 pcs, half original and half soy garlic) – $34.00

Of course, we had to test out the benchmark first with some fried chicken. The batter looked promising, and indeed had that light airiness that I have become accustomed to. We chose soy garlic for the flavoured half, and although the chicken had less sauce on it than other places, they were sweet and tangy, and the crispy batter was not compromised at all.

The chicken came with a cabbage coleslaw and we also order some chips ($5.00) with it, because hey, if you’re going to be frying chicken then you might as well fry some potatoes on the side!

Hot Chilli Cheese Chicken & Rice Ball – $25.00

Cheese make any food taste better, and Koreans are known for putting cheese over absolutely everything. The spicy chicken pieces were very punchy and had a nice kick to it, and the cheese added some creaminess to the dish.

Hot Chilli Cheese Chicken & Rice Ball – $25.00

Although nothing out of the ordinary, these rice balls were adorable and fun to eat with the chicken, and also helped to tame down the spiciness when needed.

Carbonara Chicken – $35.00

We’ve gone all out at this point, so what’s one more chicken dish? Carbona chicken is exactly as it sounds; the pan was filled with boneless fried chicken, fries and cabbage, all served on top of a thick and creamy carbonara sauce. This was indulgent to say the least, with the crunchy chicken paired especially well with the richness of the sauce. We all thoroughly enjoyed each and every bite of this.

The dinner actually turned out to be a surprise birthday dinner for me, my friends had bought me my favourite cake from Bibelot, and it was a really enjoyable night for all of us. My friend had asked one of the waiter to put the cake in the fridge at the beginning of the meal, along with some candles. At the end of our meal, the same waiter came out and plopped the cake box in the middle of the table, without opening the box or clearing out our chicken bone filled plates first. I was so confused by this point, and my friend had to ask him to bring out the candles and a lighter in two separate attempts. I mean it was a little odd, but we all had a good laugh about it. It probably just came down to a matter of miscommunication, but I guess just make sure that you ask the waiter to bring out the cake more clearly if you were also celebrating a birthday?

We tried out three styles of chicken at Goodovening, and maybe that seems like a lot, but the extensive menu actually made it really difficult to narrow our choices down. I’m definitely looking forward to returning, although it’ll be hard to not order the Chicken Carbonara again, I will try to venture out and try out some of the other chicken dishes on offer.

How to get here:
Goodovening is located on Queen Street, get off at Flagstaff station and the restaurant is around seven minutes walk away.

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

Dex2rose

Dex2rose has been around for a few years now, and joined in all the fun with the nitrogen gelato craze. However, it has since ventured out into a range of other desserts too.

Matcha Crepe Cake – $11.95

Crepe cakes will always have a special place in my heart. I’ve made it a couple of times at home, and it is truly an art getting the same consistently thin crepes each and every time while essentially burning your fingertips.

Matcha Crepe Cake – $11.95

The matcha crepe cake was more decked out then say, the one at Jinda Thai, the plate was completed with a drizzle of matcha patissiere, white chocolate gelato, salted caramel popcorns, dollop of whipped cream, and fresh fruit. The plating was certainly well thought-out, and the flavours all worked well in unison. The red beans scattered through the crepe cake itself meant that there was some additional depth of flavour added to the creamy and silky cake, and the white chocolate gelato was not overly sweet on its own or when paired with the cake.

Mist in the Woods – $16.95

The hot chocolate set was probably the more gimmicky choice of the two desserts we had picked. Recreating something you would enjoy doing by the campfire meant that you could actual roast the marshmallows on the small burner, which was actually really exciting. The hot chocolate itself was lightly spiced, and the salted caramel gelato was a nice addition.

The desserts at Dex2rose were innovative but didn’t compensate in flavour either, a combination that has become harder to comeby in recent times.

I really enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere that Dex2rose offered. Although the space wasn’t too big, it was reasonably easy to grab a table that was made up of crates if you didn’t manage to score a proper table on the side. I will definitely be returning when we are looking for some crepe cakes around the city after dinner next time round.

How to get here:
Dex2rose is located on Little Bourke Street, a short 5 minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

Dex2rose Nitrogen Gelato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato