Situated right by the beach, Radio Mexico is a great place to hit up for dinner after a day in the sun. In saying that, the changing weather at Melbourne didn’t stop us from satisfying our taco cravings.
Radio Mexico is said to have some of the best guacamole in town, making it a must-order for us. The guacamole was probably some of the smoothest I’ve had, and was also light and refreshing. The homemade corn chips were delightful too, but really, I would eat that guacamole all on its own off a spoon if I could.
I love anything mushroom, and this mushroom taco was definitely a winner. The roasted mushrooms were dark and flavoursome, with the creaminess from the crema poblano acting as its perfect counterpart.
The BBQ hanger steak was juicy and tender, and although less intense in flavour when compared to the Hongos, it was a simple but delicious taco nonetheless.
There was definitely plenty of crackle to go around in the BBQ Pork Belly taco, giving it a giant boost of texture. Pineapple is a common partner of pork in Mexican cuisine, and it did a great job of adding some sweetness to the taco.
Radio Mexico’s take on nachos came in the form of chilaquiles, and we went for the slow cooked beef option. The beef packed some heat thanks to the ancho chilli, and the lettuce helped to cool it down when things got a little too spicy.
The ever humble roast chicken was not so humble at Radio Mexico, being served in a mushroom and jalapeno broth, which was absolutely delicious, and great to spoon over the green rice.
We knew that the pork Belly Al Pastor would be good after the pork belly taco, however, this still blew my mind away. The dark broth was full of flavour, and the meat, having been roasted first and then placed in the broth, was able to take on the flavours extremely well.
Radio Mexico has been a popular dining spot for both locals and tourists, and it’s not hard to see why. Serving up some of the best Mexican food I’ve had to date, it’s definitely a place I’d venture out to more often, especially when Summer comes around again.
How to get here: Catch tram #16, heading towards St Kilda Beach, from Flinders St or Melbourne Central, and get off at Luna Park/Cavell Street, and the restaurant is two minutes walk away.
Papa Gino’s is a no-frill Italian restaurant in a sea of Italian restaurants on Lygon Street, and we decided to drop in for a quick lunch on a weekday.
Feeling like a white sauce, we ordered the mushroom in creamy sauce with penne. The penne were perfectly al dente, and although the mushroom sauce was quite run-of-the-mill, it was reminiscent of a comforting home-cooked meal nonetheless.
The capricciosa was also quite pleasant. Its base was crispy enough to create texture, but sturdy enough to not sink under the topping of mushroom, ham, olives and cheese. Again, nothing to write home about, but it did the job.
Papa Gino’s does not pride itself in offering gourmet and authentic Italian food, however, its selling point are its family-friendly atmosphere, no-frill menu and friendly service, making it perfect for large gatherings of sorts.
How to get here: Papa Gino’s is located on Lygon Street, catch any of Swanston Street trams heading out of the city from Flinders Street Station or Melbourne Central and get off at University of Melbourne, and Papa Gino’s is 5 minutes walk away.
It usually takes a new cafe a bit of time to find its footing in Melbourne’s ever-saturating brunch scene, however, being the brainchild of Jia Wang, co-owner of WhiteMojo, and Valerie Wang, florist of White Mojo, Flovie sure had an edge. That is also a double-edged sword in itself though, with great reputation comes great responsibility, and my expectations were high from the moment I set foot into Flovie, especially given the long line of people waiting to be seated outside the cafe.
The interior is one of a kind, with more floral arrangement than your eyes could feast on, and adorable mismatched chairs and tables scattered across the floor. The overall atmosphere was magical and comforting, especially with the incoming colder seasons.
After some long and serious pondering, I landed on the Snow White from the four choices of Flovie perfume mocktails. When the drink landed on the table, I knew I had made the decision in choosing the most extra drink in town.
After pouring the butterfly pea and lychee syrup into the glass while trying to get some decent boomerangs for the ‘gram, the end result was something that was light and sweet, and not too overly floral, which was something that I was afraid of.
The coffee was on par with Melbourne’s best too, silky and nutty, with a hint of chocolate, this was just what I needed on the drewry morning.
Back on the unique side was the rose tea latte, which was more of a milk tea than a latte in my opinion. Nevertheless, the combination of rose tea, pistachio and coconut milk worked well in unison, and this is a must-order if you’re a fan of rose.
Onto the food front we go. We decided to go with one savoury and one sweet option to share, in order to get the best of both worlds. First up was the Eggs Benny, featuring char siu pulled pork, mandarin hollandaise and fried mantou – a Chinese style bun, as the base. The pulled pork was insanely tender and flavoursome, clearly been cooked for hours before being pulled apart. The crunchiness of the fried mantou is something that is not usually found in eggs benny, and I really appreciated the additional texture brought on by it.
Excuse the obscene number of photos coming up, the Black Forest Hotcakes has that effect on you. Not having too much of a sweet tooth myself, I was initially hesitant in ordering the hotcakes, but knowing that this is one of the signature dishes at Flovie, I decided to give it a shot.
Stunning presentation aside, each element on the plate served the dish well, and there was nothing that was placed on the plate simply to make it insta-worthy – a pet peeve of mine.
The stack of hotcakes was nice and fluffy with just enough chocolate flavour coming through, and the cherry compote was so much better than maraschino cherries that are typically found in a black forest cake, the acidity contrasted well with the richness of the smooth chocolate creme anglaise. The quenelle of mascarpone chantilly was thicker in consistency than the heavy cream version, and the slight tang complimented the acidity of the cherries well.
The hotcakes look a bit more destroyed over here, however it is a testament to just how light and fluffy it is. The airiness is what sets hotcakes apart from your regular pancakes, and this stack definitely delivered on that front.
The obligatory side order of chips was a more-than-generous serving, and the chips were perfectly crunchy with an addictive herb seasoning. If you did find the chips a bit too heavy, the cool yoghurt dip on the side is a sure way to remedy that.
It’s time for the final verdict, is Flovie worth the hype? And the answer is a resounding yes from my visit. Sure, the wait is long, but that is far outweighed by the beautiful interior, unique menu, and well-executed dishes that are not only photo-worthy, but taste amazing too. On top of all that, you can also pick up a fresh bouquet of flowers on your way out, killing two birds with one stone.
How to get here: Catch any of the Swanston Street trams heading out of the city from Flinders Street Station or Melbourne Central and get off at Queensberry Street/Swanston Street, and the cafe is 5 minutes walk away.
After packing up everything in the hostel in the morning, and having a quick breakfast in the kitchen, I headed out for my last action-packed day in Kyoto.
My first stop of the day was Fushimi Inari-Taisha, probably one of the most famous shrines in Kyoto, if not all of Japan.
Walking through the famous torii gates is a must-do, and the higher up you go, the less people there are, allowing you to soak up the serenity all on your own.
The total hike takes around three hours, which I decided to skip out on due to the tight schedule I had, but I would imagine it to be quite enjoyable if you’re looking to spend a whole day in the area!
Just outside of the Shrine is a restaurant that specialises in unagi don, i.e. grilled eel on rice. Although there was only two pieces of eel being given in the set that I ordered, there was a perfect amount of caramelisation resulting from the grill, and the quality cannot be faulted. The eel liver soup on the side sounded like a bit of an oddity, but it didn’t actually have any distinctive flavours.
Arashimaya Bamboo Grove
After spending another hour on public transport, I arrived at the famous Arashimaya Bamboo Grove!
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve seen so many photos and heard so much about the bamboo grove beforehand, but I actually found it quite underwhelming. I mean sure, there was a lot of bamboo, but the walk lasted for maybe ten minutes, before transforming into a regular forest, which was still nice and all, but I personally didn’t find it to be anything special.
Tenryu-Ji was closeby to the Bamboo Grove, so I decided to check it out. But to be honest, by this point of the trip, I was pretty much templed/shrined out, being not religious myself, I found the experience to have become a little stagnant and repetitive. Although I understand that objectively the temple is built beautifully, it was hard for me to not feel like I was going through the motion and actually appreciate the temples more, which was a shame,
Knowing that I had a booking at Kichi Kichi Omurice for dinner in just over an hour by the time I got to Nishiki Market, I decided to just take a walk around, and save the food for next time.
Although significantly smaller than Kuromon Ichiba Market in Osaka, Nishiki Market had its own charm, and it seemed to be more like a local market rather than a tourist attraction. Kyoto is famous for its matcha, and I picked up a couple bottles of matcha spread to take back home, which I later found out is actually stocked at Calia for two times the price!
Kichi Kichi Omurice
Kichi Kichi Omurice has been made famous through variousviralvideosover the last few years, and I knew it was definitely somewhere I wanted to visit on this trip.
Bookings can be made up to four weeks advance, which means it’s something that you definitely need to plan ahead for. The restaurant is open for both lunch (weekends and public holidays) and dinner (everyday except for the holidays listed on the restaurant’s website), and only seats 8 people, which means that the one-hour-long reservations often fly out of the window. The reservation is made on the restaurant’s website, and it’s a relatively fuss free process, with every step translated in English. Reservations opens on 3pm GPT+9 Sunday, and my only tip is, be ready to book immediately after reservation opens so that you secure yourself a spot! Click here to be directed over to Kichi Kichi Omurice’s website.
So the question now is, was all that planning ahead worth it? And honestly, the answer is yes. The fried rice is perfectly separated fluffiness of the omelette is out of this world, and the demi-glace that’s poured over top ties it altogether. I did think it was slightly under-seasoned, but that’s really just me starting to nick-pick a good thing.
The omurice isn’t even the best part. Chef Motokichi Yukimura is truly one of a kind, he’s so good at what he does, loves doing it, and is definitely not camera shy. Although I saw it happen in front of my own eyes maybe five times that day, I still don’t understand how exactly the omelette is made, but he seriously made it look effortless. On top of being an excellent chef, he was also a great entertainer, and was more than happy to take photos with each of the 8 diners at the end of the hour. It was really an experience that’s not to be missed, and I’m glad that this was the final note of my short stay in Kyoto.
I left Kyoto with some mixed feelings. Having heard so many people rave about this city beforehand, I didn’t think I vibed particularly well with the city. That being said, there were some real highlights too, and I’m glad I paid Kyoto a visit regardless. After picking up some snacks for the road, I hopped onto the last Shinkansen of the trip, and headed back to Tokyo for my last day in Japan!
American BBQ was all the craze a few years back, and Ribs & Burgers was one of the first few restaurant that introduced the cuisine to Melbourne. A lot has changed since then, and Ribs & Burgers is a fully fledged chain restaurant at this point, with four joints sprawled across Melbourne.
The full rack of baby back ribs smelt amazing when it landed on our table. The meat was falling off the bone, and the sweet caramelisation from the grill added an extra layer of flavour to the ribs. This was definitely worth the inevitable sticky fingers.
The chips were nothing to be scoffed at either, golden and crunchy, this may push the meal from being rich to decadent, but hey, you’ll never find me complaining about chips this good.
The beef ribs were basted in the same signature BBQ sauce of Ribs & Burgers, but the result was completely different. The meaty flavour was a lot stronger in this case, and although it lacked the tenderness of the pork baby back, it would be ideal for someone who is a serious carnivore.
Balance is key, and the crisp and light apple and cabbage salad was the logical counterpart to the rich beef ribs. Eating bites of the salad between the ribs ensured that your arteries aren’t too overly clogged by the end of the meal.
Compared to some of the more upscale steakhouses, Ribs & Burgers is a no-frill sort of deal, and the ribs remain tasty after all this time. It may not be an ideal setting if you’re trying to seriously impress someone, however, the laid-back vibe makes it perfect for a quick weekday dinner, and that’s clearly been working out for Ribs and Burgers.
How to get here: I visited Ribs & Burgers at its Hawthorn location, which is located on Glenferrie Road, about 10 minutes walk from Glenferrie Station.
Enter Neighbour has recently celebrated its first birthday, situated in Camberwell, where there are plenty of cafes, it certainly takes something special to stand out. In an attempt to do so, Enter Neighbour revamped their menu to focus on high quality produce, while also jumping on the boozy brunch train, where for $35, you are able to have an unlimited number of cocktails with your food.
The space may initially seem small, however, there is another room down the back as well as a courtyard, allowing the cafe to accommodate both smaller and larger groups.
I’ve recently changed my coffee order to soy flat white, purely because I enjoy the nuttiness from soy milk, but also not enough to have it in the fridge at home, not being a soy milk drinker myself. Although there was no fancy rosetta present due to the difficulty of creating decent foam with soy milk, Enter Neighbour uses quality beans from Axil Coffee Roasters, and the resulting drink is full and robust.
Onto the boozier side of things, we had the cocktail special called Summer Passion. This was seriously Summer in a cup, or rather, a cute jar in this case. A mix of passionfruit, pineapple, gin and spritz, it was light, refreshing, and easy to drink without being overly sweet.
The Nanban Chicken at Enter Neighbour has all the essential elements that are present in the traditional Japanese dish, however, the changes made by the chef meant that it was a lot lighter and healthier. From the light batter of the chicken to the use of black rice, which also added a ton of texture to the plate. The gribiche sauce, which is typically found in French cuisine, went surprisingly well with the dish, offering some acidity to brighten everything up, and tied it all together nicely.
The benedict featured pulled lamb, which was tender and flavoursome, and I also really enjoyed the contrast between the pickled cabbage and the rich hollandaise. Although the hollandaise did lack the sweetness from the saffron which was promised on the menu. The pumpkin puree also felt like an afterthought, which I don’t think matched particularly well with the other flavours on the plate. However, each element was executed well, and with some small changes, this has the potential of being a winning dish.
The chips at Enter Neighbour were of the rustic variety, and while they were cooked well, and the centre was quite fluffy, I did find the portion size to be on the smaller side, especially considering the price tag, which was surprising considering that everything else we’ve tried by this point was quite well-priced.
Being away from the hustle and bustle of Camberwell means that Enter Neighbour has the benefit of holding the charm of a local cafe, but with a menu that is much more sophisticated than your average brunch hotspot down the road. The offering of boozy brunch gives it another edge, and is something that will be especially enjoyable for a birthday celebration or the like.
If you are feeling like avoiding the crowd, why not venture out a bit further and give Enter Neighbour a go?
How to get here: Enter Neighbour is located on Camberwell Road, catch tram #75 and get off at Summerhill Road/Toorak Road, and the cafe is just two minutes walk away.
It’s crazy to think that not that long ago, it was near impossible to get a good bowl of ramen in Melbourne. The situation is definitely a lot loss dire now, with ramenjoints popping out all across town. Fukuryu Ramen was, however, one of the first decent restaurants that specialises in ramen, and I was interested to see how it fares against the newcomers some years later.
Wanting something with some kick, I went for the Red Dragon Ramen, which is said to be the spiciest ramen on offer. The noodles were slightly curly, and had a good bite to it. The soup was indeed, quite spicy, definitely capable of making you sweat as the heat builds up. Besides the spiciness though, the soup base was also full of umami, and quite thick, benefiting from a long and slow simmer of the pork bone broth. The trimmings of chashu were fatty and satisfying, and the egg was also cooked perfectly.
I’m happy to report that Fukuryu Ramen has stood the test of time, and is a reliable place to visit for a good ol’ bowl of ramen, especially now that we’re finally getting some cooler weather!
How to get here: Fukuryu Ramen is located on Corrs Lane, which is just off Little Bourke Street; a short 7 minutes walk from Melbourne Central.