The friedchicken search continues, and today we find ourselves in 4 Fingers Crispy Chicken, a fast food chain that’s headquartered in Singapore.
Both the decor and service were nice enough for a fast food restaurant, after ordering from the counter, we sat down waiting with a buzzer in hand.
Wanting to try out the classics, I opted for the 3 Wings and 1 Leg option, adding $6 to make it a meal with a side of sweet potato fries and a can of sprite. The chicken were indeed, very crispy. Benefiting from a dry batter, the texture remained even with the addition of the soy garlic and hot sauce. The hot sauce was actually pretty spicy, and the soy garlic had that addictive balance of salty and sweet.
The side of sweet potato fries fared well too. 4 Fingers has clearly mastered the use of the deep fryer, and these fries were light and crunchy, with a fluffy interior.
Fried chicken by itself may not be all that exciting, hence why 4 Fingers has ventured out into a range of burgers and rice boxes for variety. My overall experience at 4 Fingers was quite pleasant, and I would be keen to return for a quick meal and try out some of the other food on offer.
How to get here: 4 Fingers is located on Bourke Street, seven minutes walk away from Parliament station.
Mr Miyagi is probably one of the most talked about restaurant in Melbourne. Ever since it graced the inaugural Night Noodle Market with the now infamous salmon tori taco, the restaurant has gained a more-than-loyal following. The wait can be hour long at times, and the only way to avoid this was to stand by the door around 15 minutes before the opening time.
The Frose train is here to stay, and the pretty pink drink was exactly what you’d expect, rose in slushie form, perfect for those who prefers a sweeter drink.
Although tempted to order the Tori Taco that I enjoyed from Night Noodle Market, I decided to instead venture out and try the eggplant rice paper roll instead. The presentation of the roll was spot on, and the sweet miso glaze reminded me of nasu dengaku, one of my favourite Japanese dishes.
We ordered the tempura broccoli at the recommendation of our waitress, and the lavish shavings of buffalo ricotta looked quite promising when it was laid down on the table. The tempura batter was almost too light though, and the broccoli was overcooked to the point where the florets were on the mushy side. Although sounding great on paper, the execution could have definitely been improved for the dish to shine.
Wanting something a little more substantial, we ended the meal with a box of fried chicken. Japanese fried chicken is typically known for its light and crispy batter, with extremely tender meat inside. The deep-fryer was certainly put to the task in this case, but unfortunately the chef was heavy-handed with the seasoning, resulting in salty chicken pieces.
I seriously don’t get the hype around Mr Miyagi. Admittedly, I went in sceptical after reading the pricey menu and the atrocious wait, but I was open to be wowed by the food, but that just wasn’t the case. Every dish was lacking in one way or another, and the overall atmosphere at the restaurant was also a little strange.
Good Japanese fusion is not hard to find in Melbourne, thus I will not be joining the line outside Mr Miyagi’s door anytime soon, and I wouldn’t recommend for anyone else to do so either.
How to get here: Mr Miyagi is located on Chapel Street, just two minutes walk away from Windsor station.
A Mexican wine bar may not be what you’re expecting to find in Chinatown, however, this is Melbourne, and stranger things have happened.
The lowly-lit Bodega Underground is enigmatic to say the least, I can definitely see it as a place that all walks of life would be seen in. We visited the restaurant for lunch, and as always, food took priority for us over the drinks.
The chargrilled corns were coated generously in a layer of cotija cheese, although it lacked the smoky flavour that I look for. With a fresh squeeze of lime however, each bite was bright and delightful, albeit messy to eat.
Fried chicken is another must-order for me when it’s on the menu. The chicken itself were popcorn-sized, although crunchy enough from the batter, I didn’t find it particularly Mexican. The chipotle mayo did have a bit of a kick, and helped to add some flavour to the chicken pieces. The serving size though, was pretty small.
The questionable serving size continues with the mushroom quesadilla. The presentation was not what I was expecting, rather than the traditional quesadilla, being two tortillas stuffed with mushroom and cheese and grilled, it was sort of like a mushroom salad or stew of sort, with two tiny pieces of tortillas thrown on. Flavour wise, this was also quite average, with everything sort of blending in together, but not in a good way.
We ordered two servings of tacos, with sweet potato being the first choice. The pickled beetroot and vegan jalapeno crema meant that the taco had layers of flavour, however it would have really benefited from some crunchy pieces of sweet potato instead of the soggy ones present.
Crunch was not an issue with the fish tacos, fortunately. In fact, I really liked the contrast between the fresh cabbage slaw and the fried fish, and the green pea guacamole and soft tortilla.
I was rather underwhelmed by Bodega Underground. The menu seemed interesting enough, but I found it to be quite overpriced, even by both Melbourne and Mexican food standard. The high price were not redeemed by the lack of oomph overall in the dishes we had tried.
The meal cost $10 more than a similar spread I had at Mesa Verde, but we still left hungry, and therefore do not see ourselves returning.
How to get here: Bodega Underground is located on Little Bourke Street, two minutes walk away from Parliament station.
I went back to China for a month at the beginning of 2018, and that’s when I realised that Malatang has taken over the world by storm. Combined with meal delivery apps and ride-sharing services, those three things helped me in surviving one of the coldest winters in Nanjing, with more snow than the city had seen in decades.
Malatang joints started popping up in the suburbs with a high concentration of Chinese population first in Melbourne, before taking over the city, to the point where there are pretty much a Malatang restaurant every 50 metres in the CBD.
The idea of malatang is quite ingenious really, I like to think of as hot pot for one. After grabbing a large bowl and a pair of tongs, choose from fresh ingredients including vegetables, meats, seafood, soy-based products and all the balls you can think of are. Once you’ve put in way too much food in your bowl because you want to try a bit of this and a bit of that, walk to the counter where you’ll be asked whether you want everything served in a soup or have it dry, and choose the appropriate spice and tingle level (the sensation that Sichuan peppercorn leaves on your lips), pay for your goods by weight, and then settle back at a table, and before long, a bowl of piping hot Malatang will be set in front of you.
Tanghuo Kungfu hails from China, and was one of the first Malatang restaurants in Melbourne, having opened its Box Hill location in 2017, and expanded into the city last year. The city location is sleek and a lot larger than other Malatang restaurants, complete with a sauce station and self-serve water dispensers. There is no shortage of food selection, and the service was very friendly, with staff greeting you at the door.
Tanghuo Kungfu has an additional tea station, which makes a lot of sense, as Malatang can be on the heavy side due to all the spices, and sipping on green tea throughout the meal helps to lighten things up. The bottles are also cute and portable, meaning that you can take it with you once you’re done and use it as a makeshift water bottle!
Regardless of variety, everything goes for $3 per 100 grams, with the minimum spending of $12 per bowl, making the maths quite easy. I chose the traditional Malatang, with high spice level and medium tingling level. The soup is what differentiates each Malatang restaurant for me, and the version at Tanghuo Gongfu is quite good. It has clearly been boiled for hours, resulting in a complex depth of flavour, and there is a sweet after taste. My favourite toppings to add to malatangs include tofu puffs, seafood money bags, Chinese cabbage, crown daisy, sliced lamb, pork and mushroom balls, bamboo shoot, quail eggs just to name a few. It’s always fun to pick and choose from the selections available, but watch out, as things can get out of hand really quickly!
We also tried the Malaban for the sake of variety. The dressing that all the goodies are doused is primarily made of sesame and chilli oil, and the sweet after taste that I really liked in the soup rendition did not fare as well here, being overly sweet to the point of cloying. We both agreed that Malatang was the better choice in this case.
Malatang is great both as a quick lunch or a late night meal, its versatility being its biggest selling point. You can make it more substantial by adding in some noodles, or keep it light by choosing mainly vegetables, the choice is completely yours. With Tanghuo Kungfu opening from lunchtime to the early hours of the morning daily, it is definitely somewhere worth trying out Malatang at!
How to get here: Tanghuo Kungfu is located on Elizabeth Street, a short five minutes walk from Melbourne Central.
Melbourne’s obsession with donuts continues, and although I’ve already found a go-to, the simple and laid-back interior of Donut Shop drew me in when I had a few hours to kill in the area, and I decided to try them out.
At the friendly suggestion of the waiter, I settled for the mocha crunch. The donut was very soft and airy, which contrasted well with the biscuit crumbs on top, and wasn’t overly sweet. This is one of those donuts that light enough that you don’t feel too guilty after having one as an afternoon pick-me-up.
Donut Shop is a great place to catch up with friend over some coffee and donuts. There was one weird thing: the place is named Burgers & Donuts on Zomato, and as far as I’m aware, no burger appeared on the menu. Mystery aside, good luck deciding between those donut flavours, may the odds be ever in your favour.
How to get here: The Donut Shop is located on Gertrude Street, around a 12 minutes walk from Parliament station.
Colourful Yunnan was a pioneer in bringing Yunnan cuisine to Melbourne. Starting off with its Carlton location, the restaurant has since expanded into the suburbs. Even in Box Hill, where there are Chinese restaurants sprawled in every corner, Colourful Yunnan has found its footing, and attracts a moderate following on any day of the week.
As far as I’m aware, Pao Lu Da can only be found in Colourful Yunnan. Originating from Thailand and Myanmar, the coconut drink contains sago and torn pieces of baguette, which soaks up the creaminess of the drink. If you’re a fan of coconut, this is definitely worth trying.
Now this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but pork intestine, when done right, is something that I am quite fond of. The intestine can be a bit fatty at times, however, the spiciness of the soup does a good job of balancing that out. Although I wish there wasn’t so much chili oil floating on top, which I actually scooped out into a bowl so that I’m not drinking oil the whole time.
With its updated interior and expansive menu, it’s easy to see that Colourful Yunnan has found a winning formula of a restaurant. However, I do think that the quality of food is better at Tina’s Noodles right around the corner, with each variation of soup having a distinctive flavour at a similar price point.
How to get here: Colourful Yunan is located inside Box Hill Shopping, get off at Box Hill Station and head upstairs, and the restaurant can be found in the same complex.
After a quick meal at a tonkatsu restaurant near Shin-Fukushima Station, I caught a shinkansen to Kyoto!
Although this was a chain restaurant, the tonkatsu were quite tender, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was also unlimited rice, which were delicious in itself, with each grain separated, just the way I like them. I may or may not have had three bowls of rice, which was actually great planning on my part, considering that I didn’t eat my next proper meal until around 9pm.
The Kyoto Shinkansen station was located in the middle of my hostel and Kinkakuji, so instead of heading to my hostel first to drop off my backpack, I decided to go straight to Kinkakuji to save some time.
Kinkakuji is probably one of the most iconic temples in Japan, known for its gold leaf covered exterior. The temple was definitely stunning in person, but it was also kind of hilarious as to how many people gathered by the lake to get some identical snaps, myself included.
Regardless, it was quite serene walking around the different areas in the temple. Located near the exit was where you could grab some omamori, which were basically little charms that are said to bring luck. I don’t necessarily believe in it having those powers, but they were very cute, and made for great gifts for family and friends back home, especially given their size. Some people went crazy over them though, buying up to 20!
My hostel was located by Kamo River, and was only a short walk to Kiyomezu-dera, there was plenty to see on the walk too.
The architecture of the temple is stunning, with great amount of details throughout. I’m not an architecture buff by any means, but I was left in awe by various parts of the temple.
The hillside location meant that you could get a great view of the city of Kyoto. I was there during the golden hour, and the view left me speechless.
Another popular souvenir in Kyoto is the Melabranche matcha white chocolate biscuits. I wasn’t planning to go out of my way to buy them, but they were actually on the road that leads directly to Kiyomizu-dera, so I bit the bullet and bought a box on my walk back. And let me tell you, although pricey, they were so good! It was truly a struggle to save some to take home.
A bowl of warm ramen was exactly what I needed after that walk, and I went into the first ramen restaurant that I spotted. Piled high with green onion, this went down a treat.
The river looks even more serene at night time, and I had an early night, in preparation of a day trip to Naoshima the next day, exciting times ahead.