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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Tim Ho Wan

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Tim Ho Wan, the Michelin-starred yum cha restaurant finally opened its doors to the public after various delays, and to say that Melbourne was excited is an understatement. The line that snaked outside restaurant meant that a wait is always expected, although it actually moves rather quickly.2

I’ve visited several times now, and can confirm that the quality is very consistent, and on par with its restaurant across the ocean. The concept at Tim Ho Wan is similar to Hong Kong Dim Sum, where you’re given a sheet of paper to mark what you wish to order, plates of food will magically start appearing in front of you after you hand the paper to one of the waiters.

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Braised Chicken Feet with Abalone Sauce – $6.80

The chicken feet is a milder rendition of the classic dish. Instead of being fried and then steamed, the chicken feet were simply braised in abalone sauce, resulting in, well, a milder flavour profile.

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Spring Roll with Egg White – $6.00

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Usually I would never order spring rolls, since it is such a pedestrian dish, but because we had a pescatarian amongst us, we had to take advantage of all the vegetarian and seafood options. It was a pleasant surprise though, the filling of egg white was very fluffy, and the spring roll was crunchy, but not overly oily as they tend to be.

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Baked Bun with BBQ Pork – $7.80

The signature dish of Tim Ho Wan, literally every table had a plate (or two) of the buns, and I can definitely see why. The crunchy shell paired with the sweet BBQ pork filling, give me three of these and lunch is sorted.

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Beancurd Skin Roll with Shrimp – $6.80

I passed on these since they had carrots inside, but according to those who tried it, although pleasant, it was nothing out of the ordinary.

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Prawn Dumplings – $8.30

The prawn dumplings were perfect, the skin were translucent but not gluggy, and the filling had a nice ratio of prawn to bamboo shoots.

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Spinach Dumplings with Shrimp – $7.80

The bright green colour of the spinach dumplings made them so pleasing to look at, and they tasted just as delicious. Another surprise favourite.

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Steamed Egg Cake – $5.80

I loved the fluffiness and delicate nature of this cake, however, one of my friend did find it too eggy.

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Vermicelli Roll with Shrimp – $7.80

The vermicelli roll, although not ground breaking, was executed well, the roll itself had integrity, and the filling, well, there was a lot of prawns.

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Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumplings – $7.80

Still confused about where exactly the salad is in this dish, but the crunchiness of the dumplings were delightful. I wish the wasabi mayo had more of a kick though.

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Vermicelli Roll with Pig’s Liver – $7.50

Another member of the four heavenly kings, the filling of pig’s liver, although unusual, was actually a bit dry.

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Tonic Medlar & Osmanthus Cake – $5.80

Besides looking extremely pretty, these slightly acidic cakes, with the floral aroma from the osmanthus, were a light but sweet end to the meal.

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Mango Sago Pomelo – $6.00

My pick for dessert though would be the mango sago pomelo, there was nothing to fault with this classic combination of flavours, and the thickness of it all made me think that they actually used a lot of real mangoes!

1617Overall, there’s not much to fault with Tim Ho Wan in terms of the quality of the food, however, its menu is quite limited compared to other yum cha places, and the price is definitely higher. With that in mind, I’d still return, even if it were just for the baked BBQ pork buns alone, yup, they’re that good.

How to get there:

Tim Ho Wan is located in Village Centre Arcade in Chinatown, a short 10 minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

Tim Ho Wan 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.

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

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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.

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Cucumbers and Spring Onion

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

Dainty Sichuan

The chilly weather in Melbourne right now calls for food that warms up the soul, and Sichuan food, with its ample use of chilli and spices, fulfils that requirement perfectly, hence why we headed to Dainty Sichuan for a family dinner one night.

Spicy Beef Heart and Tongue Slices – $17.80

Wow this translation really does not make the dish sound that appetising does it? This is a classic cold dish of Sichuan, it’s basically a mix of cold cuts – beef lungs and tongues – drenched in a dressing with chilli oil, peppercorns, and a bunch of other spices that gives it a unique lip-tingling spicy flavour.

Cumin Lamb Slices – $28.80

My love for cumin continues, and this timeless combination of lamb and cumin tasted amazing as per usual. The addition of garlic shoots was a pleasant surprise, and the flavour profiles worked in harmony.

Egg and Beef Soup – $15.80

My grandma always needs a soup with a meal, although Dainty Sichuan did not have a large selection, we ended up picking the egg and beef soup. This was nothing memorable, but the soup did have a nice non-MSG flavour.

Pork Threads with Teatree Mushrooms – $26.80

We got our share of vegetables of the night through the teatree mushrooms with pork strips. Teatree mushroom grows in the higher mountains of the Sichuan province, and is one of the many different types of fungus from that region. This dish went really well with the rice, and was a nice change after some of the heavier dishes.

Hot and Spicy Fish Slices – $29.80

Another traditional Sichuan dish, the hot and spicy fish slices came out in a large copper pot, with the oil splattering and the chilli aroma was so tentalising. The fish slices were extremely tender, and although scary looking, this dish wasn’t overly spicy!

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the dishes we tried at Dainty Sichuan, and my uncle and aunty, who came for a visit from China, said that they couldn’t even find Sichuan food this authentic in their city, which highlighted the high quality of both the cooking and the produce even more for me.

If you’re a fan of Sichuan food, or just foods that’s spicy in general, definitely head down to Dainty Sichuan for an authentic Sichuan food experience.

Dainty Sichuan Food 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

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