The Foodstore Cafe

The Foodstore Cafe recently launched their Autumn menu, and we were excited to try out all the new things that were on offer.

Iced Latte – $4.50

The iced latte was well-rounded and refreshing, there was some additional milk on the side that you could use to adjust the coffee, but I thought it was fine as is.

Soy Flat White – $4.50

I really appreciated the latte art on my soy flat white, considering that soy milk is much harder to froth to a thick consistency similar to regular milk’s. Besides the superb presentation, the coffee did a great job waking me up too, which a strong nutty flavour coming from the soy milk.

Big Breakfast – $19.00

Although the big breakfast seems less exciting than the other dishes on the menu, each element was done well, and the freshness of the quality ingredients were able to shine.

Salmon Omelette – $18.00

There was a generous serving of salmon in the omelette, and if you’re looking for something protein-heavy, then this is the perfect thing to order. I did think that the salmon was a little dry though.

Corn & Pumpkin Fritters – $18.00

Corn fritters are some of my favourite things to eat, and the addition of pumpkin gave The Foodstore Cafe’s version an Autumnal touch. The fritters were sweet and crunchy, with additional crispness coming from the fennel and zucchini slaw. The fritters were lavished with lime tahini yoghurt, adding some earthiness to the dish.

Mushroom Toast – $18.00

Being a huge fan of mushrooms, I find it hard not to choose a dish that prominently features mushroom when it’s on the menu, and I’ve gotta say, this is probably the best mushroom dish I’ve had in awhile. The mushrooms was perfectly cooked with a good hit of thyme and garlic, and they were perfectly plump without being watery. The spiced cauliflower added some Middle Eastern flair to the dish, and the hummus was creamy and flavoursome. The toppings of pomegranate and mixed nuts reminded me of the famous grain salad from Jimmy Grants, and added both texture and flavour to the already action-packed dish. There may seem to be a lot going on, but everything on the plate was well thought-out, and this was hands down my favourite dish of the day.

Chicken and Halloumi Salad – $18.00

The elegant presentation continues with the chicken and halloumi salad. The chicken was grilled perfectly, and paired well with the fresh slaw underneath. What really stood out to me though was the grilled halloumi, having been made in-house, the halloumi was a lot softer and less salty than the store-bought variety, and is a testament to the level of care and patience that the kitchen takes in the execution of each dish.

Eggs Benedict – $18.00

The eggs benedict came on top of a sweet potato rosti, which was a nice low-carb alternative to the traditional English muffin.

Eggs Benedict – $18.00

The slow cooked brisket was juicy and tender, and the lemon zest hollandaise had just enough of an extra acidity kick than your average hollandaise to balance out the richness of the beef brisket. And yes, the eggs also delivered in the #eggporn department.

Middle Eastern Lamb Salad – $18.50

The Middle Eastern theme returned with the lamb salad, the chunks of lamb were juicy and flavoursome, and there were enough on the plate to make this a substantial salad.

Middle Eastern Lamb Salad – $18.50

Although I didn’t try the roasted carrots, being a carrot-hater and all, I have it on good authority that the carrots were even better than the lamb, and that’s saying something.

Orange Blossom Pancakes – $18.00

Last but certainly not least, we ended the meal with some orange blossom pancakes.

Orange Blossom Pancakes – $18.00

The red colour of the pancakes lured us into thinking that it’s red velvet flavoured, however, one bite was all that was needed for us to taste the citrus note and realise that they were the much less commonly seen orange blossom pancakes instead.

Orange Blossom Pancakes – $18.00

Although it looks just slightly over the top, the pancakes were sweet without being too sweet, and the fresh strawberries certainly helped in adding some dimension of flavour to the dish. This is probably one that’s best for sharing in order to be sensible, but go ahead and order a whole plate for yourself if you have a sweet tooth. Life’s too short for sensibility when it comes to pancakes.

The Foodstore Cafe ticks all the boxes when it comes to the quintessential neighbourhood cafe – friendly service, interesting and reasonably priced menu, and some outdoor tables to bring your furry friends when it’s not raining. If you’re ever wanting to try a cafe that’s a little more hidden away, then The Foodstore Cafe is the place to be.

How to get here:
The Foodstore Cafe is located on Auburn Road, catch bus #624 and get off at Airedale Avenue, the cafe is a minute walk away.

I dined as a guest of The Foodstore Cafe.

The Foodstore Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Melina on the Rooftop

Melbourne has entered into the depth of Winter without a warning, but here I am, still clinging onto rooftop bars. Although it’s nothing like bathing in the Summer sunshine with a cocktail in your hand, there is still something charming about sitting snugly under some heaters with a view. All that is to say, we decided to have dinner at Melina on the Rooftop recently.

Crispy Saganaki Cheese – $18.00

We decided to grabbed a few dishes to graze on, with the first being the crispy saganaki. The crunchy batter on the saganaki added some texture to the soft cheese, and the sweetness from the drizzle of the balsamic glaze paired nicely prevented the saganaki from becoming overly salty.

Fries – $12.00

The shoestring fries was golden brown, and the Greek season on the fries were quite addictive. The feta cheese dip on the side was an interesting addition, although the crumbly texture and the thinness of the fries meant that it wasn’t the easiest to dip in.

Antipasto – $34.00

The antipasto had your usual suspects with a Middle Eastern twist with the addition of some grilled halloumi. The meats were all quite average, with the smoked ham seriously tasting like it was bought from a supermarket deli. It was nothing really worth writing home about altogether. The bread served on the side was also quite dry, and the balsamic glaze drizzled over top seems like more of an afterthought.

There’s no question that the vibe is quite intimate and romantic at Melina on the Rooftop, definitely a place that’s good enough to take a date. That being said though, I did find the food to be quite overpriced, especially considering the portion size. We made a booking on EatClub, which took 30% off our bill, making it quite reasonable. I still think that the food was quite average even after the discount. All in all, Melina on the Rooftop might be better suited for a couple of drinks after dinner than a proper sit-down meal.

How to get here:
Melina on the Rooftop is located on Lonsdale Street, a 5 minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

Melina on the Rooftop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Radio Mexico

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.

Guacamole – $10.00

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.

Hongos – $7.50

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.

Carne Asada – $7.50

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.

BBQ Pork Belly – $7.50

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.

Babacoa De Res – $17.00

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.

Roast Chicken – $20.00

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.

Pork Belly Al Pastor – $24.00

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.

Radio Mexico Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

JAPAN 2017 | Kyoto: Fushimi Inari Taisha; Arashiyama; Nishiki Market; Kichi Kichi Omurice

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.

Fushimi Inari-Taisha

Snack break!

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!

Snack break round 2

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

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,

Snack break round 3

Nishiki Market

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 various viral videos over 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.

the Omurice itself

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.

Snack round four

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!

Spending Tracker

Public transport: 210JPY ~ 2.6AUD
Beef skewer: 500JPY ~ 6.3AUD
Yam omelette: 300JPY ~ 3.7AUD
Eel rice set: 2100JPY ~ 25.9AUD
Tenryu-Ji ticket: 500JPY ~ 6.2AUD
Ice cream: 300JPY ~ 3.7AUD
Drugstore: 5655JPY ~ 70AUD
Sesame: 600JPY ~ 7.4AUD
Green tea lollies: 1230JPY ~ 16.2AUD
Green tea jam: 2500JPY ~ 30.9AUD
Omurice: 2700JPY ~ 33.5AUD
Loft: 1128JPY ~ 13.9AUD
Green tea waffle: 151JPY ~ 1.9AUD
Total: 17874JPY ~ 228.5AUD

Enter Neighbour

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.

Soy Flat White – $4.30

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.

Summer Passion

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.

Nanban Chicken – $18.5

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.

Benedict Cumberbatch – $19.00

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.

Hand Cut Chips w/ Sriracha Aioli – $7.5

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.

I dined as a guest of Enter Neighbour.

Enter Neighbour Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fukuryu Ramen

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 ramen joints 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.

Red Dragon Ramen – $15.90

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.

Fukuryu Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

NL House

NL House is a small shop that has a succinct menu that features Malaysian classics. Bright and modern, it’s mainly a place where people seem to be picking up takeaways, but there are a few seats available both in and outside of the restaurant if you’re choosing to dine in.

Fried Chicken Nasi Lemak w/ Traditional Sambal – $12.80

Being the namesake for the restaurant, it would be remiss of me to not order a plate of nasi lemak. I went for the fried chicken version, and before long, a plate that held all the components of nasi lemak was placed down on the table. The chicken was dry and crispy on the outside, encasing a tender and juicy inside. The traditional sambal had just enough of a kick to it to make me sweat while mixing it through with the rice, and did a terrific job of tying everything together.

Although nothing fancy, NL House is certainly promising when it comes to delivering authentic Malaysian food. Word on the block is that it also serves a killer chicken laksa, which I’m definitely keen to try out once the weather cools down.

How to get here:
NL House is located on Grattan Street, catch any of the trams on Swanston Street from Flinders Street or Melbourne Central heading towards Melbourne University and get off at Melbourne University, and the restaurant is a short three minutes walk away.

Nasi Lemak House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato