Hochi Mama

I love the idea of tapas, nothing beats getting to try a range of dishes without breaking the bank. That’s probably why I was so taken by Rice Paper Scissors a few years ago. After hearing that the restaurant next door – Hochi Mama has a menu in a similar fashion, I was very excited to visit it on a balmy weekday night.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

The menu is divided into smaller, larger, side, and desserts. For the $59 for two deal that we went with, you get two selections from smaller, two from larger, and one side, all to share.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Rice Paper Rolls w/ Grilled Eggplant and Fresh Vegetables

Given that our other choices were more substantial, it was a good thing that we started with the DIY rice paper rolls.

The grilled eggplant were undoubtly the star of this dish, having been marinated in a tentalising paste, with just the right amount of char coming through.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe perks of DIY rice paper roll is that you can choose what you want to put in it, and how much of each ingredient you’d like. Being a somewhat picky eater, this was definitely a positive for me, as it meant I could neglect the carrots altogether.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Hochi Chicken Bahn Bao

Onto the fried things. The chicken was as good as fried chicken goes, crunchy but light batter, and juicy meat on the inside. I especially loved the fermented chilli beans on top, a nod at the Chinese cuisine that baos originate from.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Hanoi Style Crispy Beef Ribs

This is the first time I’ve tried fried beef ribs, and it did not disappoint. Continuing to showcase the kitchen’s control of the deep frier, the meat certainly was succulent and falling off the bone with very little batter involved. The salad did seem a little thrown together to me, on the other hand, but offered a palate cleanser nonetheless.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetI somehow lost the photo of the last larger dish that we had – the Southside Tofu Curry, so you’ll just have to have a look at the group photo for now. Being a fan of a wide variety of curries, I did enjoy the sweeter version here at Hochi Mama. The large amount of sauce was also appreciated, as it went well with the side of Coconut Rice.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Being situated next to Rice Paper Scissors is a double edged sword for Hochi Mama, especially when they’re both serving up some sort of Asian fusion. Although the restaurant was quite filled up throughout the night, it does not have a huge line extending onto the alleyway like Rice Paper Scissors.

It might come as a surprise to some, but I actually think that Hochi Mama is just as good as Rice Paper Scissors, if not better. The prices of each individual dish also meant that getting the $59 deal actually can save you up to $20. So next time when there’s a ridiculous wait time next door, why not head into Hochi Mama and see it for yourself?

How to get there:
Hochi Mama is located on Liverpool Street, get off at Parliament Station, and the restaurant is three minutes walk away.

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

Jaidee Thai

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Thai food seems to be a bit of a hit and miss in Melbourne; whilst a pad thai is available in every food court, authentic papaya salads are hard to come by. One of my Thai friends gave a glorious recommendation of Jaidee Thai, and I was more than willing to give it a try.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Som Tum Thai – $12.00

Piled high with thinly sliced papaya, with pieces of of tomato, snake bean and peanuts mixed through, this papaya salad is probably my favourite rendition of the dish. The dressing was very balanced, with hints of acidity, sweetness and heat. The little pieces of roasted peanuts were my favourite, adding more dimension to the salad.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Nam Thok (Pork) – $15.00

The grilled pork salad was something I had never tried before. The pork were a bit dry than usual, according to my friend, however it was still quite flavoursome, with the help of the sweet and sour dressing. The mint leaves and red onion kept the dish on the refreshing side, and it helped to lighten up some of the heavier dishes we had ordered.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Green Curry with Chicken – $14.90

Can you really go to a Thai restaurant and not order the green curry? Not in my book. The curry sauce was light and fragrant, with a good amount of fresh vegetables thrown in, and the large portion was another plus, which went perfectly with the coconut rice on the side.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Coconut Rice

Speaking of which, the coconut was rice was a bit overcooked for my liking, however the coconut flavour was quite prominent, and there was even coconut meat thrown into the mix!

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Pad Se Ew with Chicken – $14.90

More carbs came in the form of the Pad Se Ew, and it was a much more exciting affair. The stretchy and thick noodles provided the perfect base to soak up all the flavour of the soy based sauce, and the fresh Chinese broccoli ensured that we felt good about eating our vegies.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Mango with Sticky Rice – $7.50

Even though we were pretty full by this point, some dessert never hurt anyone. The simple mango with sticky rice, drowning in coconut cream, was the perfect way to end our meal. The sticky rice was a bit salty, which helped to offset the richness of the cream, and the slightly hard slices of mango rounded the dessert off.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Jaidee Thai may seem like a run of the mill neighbourhood Thai restaurant at first glance, however its extensive menu and authentic flavours have won me over. In fact, I am willing to overlook the lackluster service to try out other items on the menu. The restaurant stayed relatively quiet during our visit, so if you’re ever in the area and don’t feel like waiting for Jinda Thai, this is a great alternative.

How to get here:
Jaidee Thai is located on Victoria Street, catch the train on the Hurstbridge and South Morang line, and get off at North Richmond, and the restaurant is two minutes walk away.

Jaidee Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nara Thai Street Food

Nara Thai Street Food is one of the newer additions to South Melbourne, although it’s pretty much in the CBD. It’s filled with knick-knacks that are reminiscent of the street of Thailand – not that I’ve been, but hey, I’ve seen plenty of pictures. Over the top of the restaurant, there was a rainbow pennant, giving the space an inviting and playful vibe.

Nara Thai’s menu was pretty long, and had some traditional offerings, such as green curry and tom yum, to some less well-known Thai dishes. We tried to order a bit of everything, and as always, ended up over ordering.

Pad Thai (Chicken) – $12.90

We started things off on the traditional side of things, with a serving of chicken pad thai. Does anyone remember that ridiculous song about chow mein or fried rice or whatever it was btw? No? Just me? All good. Anyway, the pad thai was piled up high (that rhyme though), and was tempting us with its glistening noodles. There is also an assortment of accompaniments on the side, that you could mix in if you wish.

Pad Thai (Chicken) – $12.90

We just ahead and mixed everything together, ’cause #yolo. The result was amazing, in fact, this is probably the best pad thai I’ve ever had. The noodle had a nice stretch to them, the ingredients were fresh, and the flavour was right on the brink of being the perfect kind of sweet yet sour.

Fried Whole Snapper w/ Mango Salad – $20.50

The chef at Nara Thai were very kind, and the giant plate of fried whole snapper was placed in front of us on the house. The snapper had a light cornflour batter, and the large chunks of flesh were mostly very succulent, however, there were drier pieces in the mix. The mango salad on the side was very refreshing, and I loved the addition of roast almonds, which added both texture and flavour to the salad.

“Tom Sap” – Spicy Pork Soft Bone Soup – $14.90

Tom Sap is something that I’ve never heard of before, but I am familiar with my mum’s home cooked pork soft bone soup. This was nothing like my mum’s version though, with a myriad of spice and herbs added into the soup, which gave it a ton of dimension flavour wise. It was more on the stew side of things, with plenty of pork soft bone to be crunched on. The soup was very sour, and not overly spicy, despite the scary looking dry chillies.

Tasty Fried Garlic Pork – $15.90

If you don’t know already, I am a garlic fanatic. So when I spotted the fried garlic pork, it was a no brainer to order it. The pork was lightly fried, before being tossed with some diced fried garlic, and the result was tasty pieces of meat, with quite a bite to it. If you don’t like things that requires some jaw workout, then this is not for you. Personally, I did enjoy it, although I didn’t think it was particularly Thai flavour wise.

Green Beef Curry – $13.90

We originally wanted to try the Massaman curry, which was sold out on the day unfortunately, so we settled on the green beef curry instead. It’s actually something I’ve never had before, since it’s typically green chicken curry that’s on the menu. The large chunks of beef has been stewed over a long period of time, resulting in some extremely tender meat, which broke apart at the probe of some chopsticks. The curry was darker than usual, and was very fragrant and spicy, great for mixing with some steamed rice!

Smoke Coconut served with Sticky Black Rice topped with Peanuts – $6.90

The generosity of the restaurant continues with a complimentary dessert, which comes in the form of sticky black rice and coconut ice cream, a classic combination. The rice was, you guessed, sticky, and a little salty, which actually paired perfectly with the sweet and creamy coconut ice cream.

Nara Thai was a pleasant surprise, the flavours kept true to traditional Thai food – what I know of it anyway, and the servings were very generous. The restaurant remained relatively empty throughout the night, so next time you have to wait for a good 30 minutes at Jinda Thai, why not take a detour and come to South Melbourne instead?

How to get there:
Catch any tram from the Federation Square/Swanston Street stop that’s heading out of the city, and get off at stop #20 Domain Interchange/St Kilda Road, and the restaurant is 3 minutes walk away.

Nara Thai Street Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rice Paper Scissors

Rice Paper Scissors has been on my to visit list for what seems like forever, but long lines are just not my thing under normal circumstances. When they opened up a new store in Fitzroy though, I was determined to hit it up before the new year approaches.

And it was a success! We arrived around 1pm on a weekday, and the restaurant was pretty empty. Although that did leave me in a bit of a doubt, what if the food isn’t as good?!

Vietnamese Iced Coffee – $3.50

The Vietnamese iced coffee was a promising way to start however, the mason jar had a generous coating of condensed milk, and were filled to the brim with the coffee. After mixing the condensed milk thoroughly, we were rewarded with some delicious icy cold coffee.

BBQ Lamb Ribs

Like most other people, we opted for the 5 for $55 deal, most of the dishes were around the $11 to
$15 mark. The BBQ lamb ribs were the first to arrive. The glaze on the ribs itself was sticky and scrumptious, and there were plenty of crispy edges on the ribs. Although I did feel like the lamb flavour was a bit lost, due to the overwhelming sweetness from the glaze.

Twice Cooked Pork Belly w/ Chilli Caramel Sauce

It’s no secret that I love my pork belly by this stage, so ordering this was a no brainer. The large cubes of pork belly was stewed until the meat is tender, then fried to get the exterior nice and crispy. The chilli caramel sauce took the whole thing one step further, the only negative about this dish is how long it would take on the treadmill to burn all that calories. But hey, this is not the place for #health #inspo.

I think this is not on their new menu though, what a shame 😦

Crying Tiger

Crying tiger is a dish I’ve only tried before, and all I could remember was how spicy it was. The beef had some beautiful char marks, and were topped off with some chilli and herb salsa.

 After wrapping it up in the lettuce leafs, this was a light yet flavoursome little morsel.

Thai Fried Chicken

The fried chicken came in these adorable little paper cartons, and the golden brown colour was so alluring.

The batter was extremely crispy and the inside remained tender and moist, however, I didn’t find it particularly Thai.

Barramundi w/ Apple and Herbs Salad 

We originally ordered something else that was sold out on the day, and changed to the barramundi instead, and this was definitely my favourite dish of the day. I love it when things work out like that. The barramundi was coated in a light batter and fried perfectly – they sure know how to work that deep fryer here – but what really blew me away was the salad on top. And this is quite a statement coming from me, since I’m not a huge salad person at all. The various Asian herbs created a complex yet refreshing salad, that was extremely punchy in flavour, which pretty much sums up what I think of when it comes to food from some parts of Asia.

The restaurant remained relatively quiet the whole time we were here, which was a surprise. Although some dishes were quite average, the stand outs really did just that, stand out, making the overall experience very enjoyable. With a menu that seems to change quite regularly, Rice Paper Scissors is somewhere I’d happily return to.

How to get there:
Rice Paper Scissors is located on Brunswick Street, catch tram #11 and get off at stop #16 Brunswick St/Johnson St, and it’s one minute walk away.

Rice Paper Scissors Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jinda Thai

Everyone and their mum has been to Jinda Thai. In fact, I think it’s probably the most reviewed Thai restaurant on Zomato, and that’s saying something.

My friend and I finally made a trip down to Jinda Thai to see if it was as amazing as I remembered from a year ago, and God I forgot how busy they are now. We arrived around 5 from memory and there was already quite a few people in the restaurant! Definitely make a booking if you want to eat at a normal hour haha.

Boat Noodle (Beef) – $9.00 w Glass Noodle – $1 extra

Starting things off with what made me fall in love with Jinda Thai the first time, their boat noodle! I’ve only tried boat noodle from Jinda, but man it’s so tasty! The dark and aromatic soup is made from pig’s blood according to my Thai friend, and has an earthy and rich flavour. You can tell that it was cooked with a bunch of herbs and spices over a long time.

There was fish balls, beef, and pork crackling sitting on top of the glass noodle. And you’re given (well we had to ask for one since the waitress forgot to give us one) a little tray of seasonings and pickles that you could add to the noodle! The only letdown of the dish was the fact that the waitress didn’t tell us about the extra dollar that’s charged for the glass noodle, not that we minded but would’ve been nice to be told beforehand.

Green Curry Chicken – $16.90

The green curry chicken was fragrant, and I couldn’t wait to pour some of that sauce over some coconut rice ($4.00). Although the sauce was a bit thin, it was full of flavour. Apart from chicken, there was eggplant and bamboo shoot, and I loved how the eggplant could soak up all the sauce! However, the serving was definitely on the smaller side of things.

Mmmmmmm crepe cakes.

Pandan Crepe Cake with Ice cream – $8.50

The crepe cake was phenomenal. Layers of crepes were filled with pandan flavoured cream in between, and add a humongus amount of pandan sauce on top, it just took the whole thing to the next level. The coconut ice cream was lovely too, with chunks of coconut flesh thrown into the mix.

Thai Milk Tea Crepe Cake with Icecream – $8.50

And because two people can’t just share ONE cake, we got the Thai milk tea one too. These two are probably my favourite flavours. The distinctive creamy and sweet flavour from the Thai milk tea was delicious, and I was as happy as a person can be by the last bite.

There are a couple things that Jinda could improve on – customer service and serving size. Even for Melbourne, Jinda Thai’s serving size is noticeably small, especially coupled with the steep price of things. Customer service is a bit touch-and-go, which I can understand when it’s a full house, but when we first arrived the restaurant was barely half filled, and the there was still a long wait to order, long wait for water – just a lot of waiting in general.

Is it the best Thai restaurant in Melbourne? Watch this space, I’ve got a blog post about a strong contender coming up.

How to get there:
Jinda Thai is located on Ferguson Street in Abbotsford, catch a train on the South Morang line and get off at North Richmond station, or catch tram #12 or #109 and get off at North Richmond Station, and the restaurant is 2 minutes walk away!

Jinda Thai Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato