Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya

From its name, it’s obvious what Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya is, an izakaya, duh. Izakayas are Japanese-style pubs, serving up a range of dishes aimed for sharing.

Unlike izakayas back in Japan, Ichi Ni Nana sprawls over four levels, with the top being a rooftop bar, a good place to grab a few drinks while you’re waiting for a table. There are a range of types of seatings available, including larger tables in the courtyard and intimate booth.

The menu was extensive, ranging from traditional Japanese tapas such as nasu dengaku, chicken karaage and gyozas, to sushis and sashimis, with Western influence throughout.

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Tori Soboro – $14.00

Chicken mince piled on ricecake skewers, this was not something that I’ve had before, and I really enjoyed it. The chicken mince were flavoured with a touch of soy, and were very morish when had with a bite of ricecake.

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Nasu Dengaku – $15.00

This eggplant dish is one of my favourites in Japanese restaurants, and Ichi Ni Nana has put its own twist on the traditional dish. Sections of eggplant were covered in the miso sauce that was oh-so-addictive, and left us wanting more.

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Gyu Tataki – $20.00

The thinly sliced scotch fillet were seared perfectly and very tender. The salad on top added some extra texture, I especially enjoyed the fried garlic pieces that’s hiding underneath the green leaves.

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Soft Shell Crab Tempura – $22.00

Still on the soft shell crab bandwagon, we picked it from the tempura section. The batter was light and crispy, and the soft shell crab were as good as all soft shell crabs, though nothing out of the ordinary. Also, the portion was on the small side.

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Chicken Gyoza – $10.00

We picked two varieties of gyoza on the night, the first being the chicken. The chicken filling was again, light and flavoursome, and the skin was extremely thin.

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Pork Gyoza – $10.00

The pork gyoza were equally as delicious, tasting more meaty than its chicken counterpart. My only complaint about the gyozas is that I wish they had a crispier bottom.

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Soft Shell Crab Roll – $25

Continuing the soft shell crab trend, the first sushis we ordered was the soft shell crab roll. The roll was filled with soft shell crab, avocado and cucumber, and topped with tobiko and Japanese mayo. Although not a traditional sushi, the roll tasted fresh, and the soft shell crab added more texture to the plate.

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Dragon Roll – $25.00

Being an even more untraditional dish, the dragon roll was an inside out sushi roll with seared tuna, cucumber, avocado, and topped with tobiko, Japanese mayo, spring onion and chilli sauce. Every bite of this was a flavour explosion, and dish was also very visually appealing.

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Ichi Ni Nana Platter – $150.00

The star of the night, and probably the most instagrammed dish from Ichi Ni Nana. The platter had all sorts of sushi and sashimi, including but not limited to sashimi in the forms of (because I can’t remember them all oops): salmon, tuna, kingfish, octopus,  cuttlefish and scallops. The sushi included all of the above, as well as tamago, prawn, salmon roe and eel. All the seafood were very fish, and this platter not only looked spectacular, but also left us feeling very content.

Offering a large variety of dishes that accommodates both Japanese lovers and those who are still being introduced to the cuisine, Ichi Ni Nana is a good place for group gathering, intimate dinners and the like. If you are going in a big group or on a busy night, make sure you make a booking ahead of time, or, be prepared to wait for a bit on rooftop bar, which certainly isn’t the worst thing in the world.

How to get here:
Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya is located on Brunswick Street, catch tram #86 towards Bundoora RMIT and get off at the Brunswick Street/Gertrude Street stop, and the restaurant is 350 metres away. Alternatively, catch tram #11 towards West Preston from Parliament Station and get off at the Hanover Street/Brunswick Street stop, and the restaurant is 100 metres away.

Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Miss Katie’s at Rochester Hotel

I’ve been wanting to visit Miss Katie’s since years ago, or it seems that way anyway, when it was still at its original location in North Melbourne in fact. My friend and I finally managed to sort out a dinner date here one fine sunny Summer day (yes my backlog is literally insane, trying to sort that out these holidays).

Set up at the Rochester Hotel, the vibe was chill to say the least, it’s somewhere that you would go out for a drink with your mates after a long day, enjoying the breezy atmosphere and just talking the night away. However, we were here for the food, although unsuspecting, the neon sign of the crab hung outside told us that we were at the right place.

Oysters – $1.00 each
We happened to be there at happy hour for the oysters, which meant that they were only a gold coin each. A dozen of these were the perfect start to our meal.

Fresh and briny, give it a squeeze of lemon before downing the whole thing in your mouth and it’s impeccable.

Katie’s Fried Chicken – $24.00

The only thing as famous as their crab boils would be chicken and waffle. This is actually the first time I’ve tried this Southern classic. The waffles were quite soft, not the crunchy kind that I’m a fan of.

The chicken was definitely the star of this plate, buttermilk, herbs, breadcrumbs and all the other goodness gave the chicken so much flavour and crunch, KFC ain’t going nothing on these! After spreading the bacon butter on the waffle and drowning it in maple syrup, the sweet and savoury combination is one that I’ll definitely come back to.

Crab Boil – $27.00

Onto the main show of the night, the crab boil! Initially I thought the serving was quite small, but man this whole pan of goodness was drowned in herb butter, decadent doesn’t even begin to describe it. The blue swimmer crab was accompanied by corn cobs, chat potatoes and spicy kranski.

This is definitely something you need to eat with your friend, and the plastic bibs that were provided also came in handy. After cracking open the crab with the tools given, we were rewarded from some juicy and tender crab meat, either eat it by itself for the natural seafood sweetness, or dip it in the herb butter pot for some added richness, it was seriously amazing!

I’m so glad I finally managed to visit Miss Katie’s, crab boils is something I’ve never tried before, and it’s such a delicious way to be eating your seafood! I plan on taking my mum here some day, since she’s always complaining about plain boiled crabs being boring, this will definitely change her mind!

How to get here:
Miss Katie’s is located on Johnston Street in Fitzroy, hop on tram #86 and get off at stop #19, Johnston Street/Smith Street, and Rochester Hotel is a short five minutes walk away.

Miss Katie's at Rochester Hotel 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

Richmond Oysters

Anyone that loves seafood would’ve heard of Richmond Oysters. A group of us decided to go there for dinner because there were a few vegetarians amongst us, and seafood would just make things a lot easier.

Bloody Mary Pacific Oyster Shots (3) – $15.00

Ever since I tried out Bloody Mary Oyster Shots from SOS Seafood, they’ve been on my mind. The combination of the punchy, sour and salty Bloody Mary contrasts beautifully with the briny slippery oysters.

Bread Board, Olive Oil, Dip – $7.00

One of my friend is obsessed with bread, so she pretty much smashed down the whole board. The bread was warm and soft inside, with a crispy exterior, and both the olive oil and dip went well with it.

Seafood Risotto – $29.00

The risotto came with a generous selection of seafood – prawn, fish, calamari and mussels. The seafood were all cooked well, but the rice was slightly overcooked, and the dish tasted a little dry overall.

Seafood Platter – $125.00 + Sashimi – $19.00

A bunch of us shared the seafood platter, and although the waitress said it would be enough for two, I think four of us shared it and we were all pretty full by the end of it.

The Moreton Bay bugs were poached perfectly, and its freshness could be tasted without the addition of any sauce. The fresh oysters were lovely when slurped up with a light squeeze of lemon juice. The sashimi was okay, I wish they gave us more wasabi though! The salmon rillettes were a bit on the salty side of things and I wasn’t really a fan.

The mussels were amazing, they were plump and went well with the tomato based sauce. I wish we had some more bread to soak up all that juice!

The prawns and fish were grilled well. The crispiness of the salt and pepper calamari and soft shell crab created a nice balance of textures and flavours for the platter. I loved the baby octopus and the Hervey Bay scallops, there’s really nothing better than the sweetness from the fresh produce themselves.

Fish and Chips (Flake + Crumbed) – $25.00

The three slices of flake were fried amazingly, with a super crunchy batter while the inside remained nice and juicy. The calamari rings were fried in a much lighter batter, and were not rubbery at all!

Although there were a couple of misses, Richmond Oysters does offer a good variety of seafood that are well cooked overall, so you’re a lover of seafood, then hit it up! But if not, then stay away since your options would be super limited.

How to get there:
Richmond Oysters is located on Church Street, one minute walk from East Richmond station, which is on the Glen Waverley line.

Richmond Oysters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

#ZOMATOMEETUP | SOS Charcoal Seafood

SOS Charcoal Seafood is a new restaurant on Glenferrie Road, which my friend pointed out has actually got quite a few great restaurants, must visit more often! George, the owner of SOS Charcoal Seafood explained to us that the restaurant specialises in all forms of seafood, and features the use of a charcoal oven, which can heat up to 1000 degrees! Because of the hotness of the oven, no oil is required, resulting in healthy and delicious seafood.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the most recent Zomato Meetup at SOS Charcoal Seafood, and I had such a blast mingling with my fellow foodies over some amazing Bloody Mary Oyster Shots!

We started at The Fish Shop, where there were four types of tin can seafood being served with some bread.

Clockwise: Pickled Octopus, Sardine in Olive Oil, Bread and Biscuit, Anchovies and Smoked Kieler Sprats

The anchovy was a surprise favourite, briny and fatty, it paired perfectly with the bread!

Bloody Mary Oyster Shots

I was quite skeptical about these oyster shots, I mean, come on, it sounds a little strange right? But omg, these were AMAZING. Like seriously, we kept going back for more haha. They were kind of like cold tomato soup with a hidden surprise, I could barely taste the vodka! Not sure if that’s a good thing though…

Traditional Fried Calamari and Chips

The calamari strips were very fresh and was fried to perfection! A light seasoning of pepper was all that was needed to enhance the flavour.

From Left to Right: White Taramosalata, Mixed Beans Salad, Pickled Octopus, Wakame Seaweed Salad, Kimchi

I really liked the white taramosalata, which was milder than traditional taramosalata. The pickled octopus was acidic and quite a palate cleanser.

Oyster Bar

There was a oyster bar set up for us to have a go at shucking some oysters on our own, and I gotta say, it is so much harder than it looks!

Trying to learn the skills from the master
Failing so hard…

Seriously, it looks deceptively easy, but when I tried to shuck it, the oyster would not open no matter how hard I pushed 😦

Freshly Shucked Oysters

After some help, I was finally awarded with some yummy oysters! The freshness can be tasted, and it was probably some of the best oysters I’ve ever had!

Grilled Octopus with Wild Rice Salad

The octopus was again, grilled perfectly. It was marinated in herbs and spices beforehand, thus having a distinct herbaceous flavour.

Plomari Greek Ouzo

Apparently this is what the Greeks sip on while eating seafood, but it had a strong licorice flavour, which I’m not a fan of unfortunately, so I could not appreciate the drink.

Charcoal Oven

And then it was time for some more DIY, this time we were grillin’ up some fish!

Swordfish with Sea Salt and Cajun Seasoning

Chef Justin prepared the swordfish for us beforehand, and simply seasoned them with sea salt and cajun seasoning.

My friend trying not burn herself HAHAHA

The grill was SO EFFING HOT. Like seriously, you can feel the heat oozing out, and I was actually scared for my life. Guess I’m not masterchef material after all 😦

Grilled Swordfish with Sea Salt and Cajun Seasoning

This is the finished result! The fish only needed three minutes to cook in the oven, and the final dish was quite delicious if I say so myself! The swordfish was plump and tender, and the subtle seasoing allowed the freshness to shine through.

Grilled Salmon and Grilled Australian King Prawns

Eugene and Jenny cooked up these treats for us next! The crispy skin on the salmon stole my heart, and the freshness of the succulent king prawns amazed me yet again.

Seafood San Choi Bao

Neat little green lettuce cups were filled with oysters, mussels and scallops I believe, the mixture was seasoned perfectly and the plumpness of the seafood went well with the crispy lettuce leaves.

Grilled Bananas

Why are the bananas black? It’s to hold the banana together when they’re being grilled! Because of the lack of natural sugar in bananas, although there were char marks, there were no caramelisation, the butterscotch sauce did lend some sweetness to these bananas!

Grilled Pineapples

These pineapples, on the other hand, were much sweeter, and won my pick for dessert of the night!

Good food, good people, what more do you need? I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity to not only enjoy some great seafood, but also meet people who are also passionate about food, coffee, Masterchef (minute of silence for Reynold please), Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and so much more!

Swordfish says hi!

SOS Charcoal Seafood serves up some of the freshest seafood I’ve ever had, and the simple use of the charcoal oven as the primary cooking appliance allows the seafoods’ natural flavours to shine! Simplicity at its best, this is the prime example of less is more. I’m already planning my next visit to order some fresh fish and chips from The Fish Shop!

How to get there:
SOS Charcoal Seafood is located on Glenferrie Road, a short five minutes walk from Glenferrie Station.
I dined as a guest of SOS Charcoal Seafood, courtesy of Zomato

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