Homemade Tonkotsu Ramen

July 26, 2015

tonkotsu recipe skinnyglutton

Because I can’t seem to get my fill of Japans most famous soup-noodle dish, I decided to try my hand at creating Tonkotsu. Tonkotsu is a silky, pork bone broth that warms the soul. The bone broth requires a lengthy preparation time, with the final product being a creamy emulsion of marrow, fat and connective tissue.

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Aka Siro (Collingwood)

July 12, 2015

“It’s good when food tastes good, it’s kind of like proof you’re alive.”― Haruki Murakami

Since I began working at what is seemingly my dream job in an equally dreamy location for my foodie inclinations, I had thought that I would slowly work my way down Smith st. Luckily, my workplace stresses a great deal of emphasis on the consumption of delicious, life changing meals. In fact, my induction pack included poetry and a list of recommended restaurants and go-to dishes. I had found home.

A team lunch led me off Smith st to Cambridge st, to a cosy Japanese restaurant. I had no idea that such marvellous Japanese food eateries cornered itself in the backstreets of Collingwood but there’s quite the number to choose from and each of them are unique in their offerings. Aka Siro launched me back to one year ago when I wandered the alleyways of Tokyo in search of something to gnaw on.

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Aka Siro has a lunch menu, all around the $17 average price point. Each meal is served with rice, a blend of brown and white, the quintessential miso soup. Whilst I was initially swayed to devour the pork belly – or the chicken kar-rage, I decided upon a lighter option – the salmon with miso. What arrived was generous pink salmon, moated by a thick miso soup with soft pumpkin and fresh green beans. The saltiness of the broth perfectly matched the delicately grilled salmon.

Aka Siro had such a beautiful approach to plating honest, fresh Japanese food that I will be returning to sample the rest of their offerings.

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Pho 365 (Collingwood)

July 12, 2015

“Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.” -Ludwig van Beethoven

Pho, glorious pho. There’s nothing quite like a herby, chicken laced broth to dilute the edge off a Melbourne winters day. On this particular day, I asked for beef and chicken pho (pho ba ga). However, having just been swarmed by the Friday lunchtime crowd, I was out of luck and only the chicken was available. Providence would have it that the chicken pho was exactly what was necessary to discourage the oncoming cold whose tell-tale sniffles I had been experiencing all morning.


Pho365 delivered a clear broth, but what was unexpected was the furore of chicken and herb flavours concealed inside. Large, generous pieces of chicken glided among the added beansprouts, clumps of thai basil and bright red chilli. Condiments were aplenty, just how I like them – chilli oil, hoisin, sriracha – Pho365 ticked all the right boxes.

The tea served in the furnace was robust and I was tempted to ask them what style of tea they were serving.

The outside is unassuming, with a bright LED sign luring passers-by with promises of $9 pho. The interior itself is relatively small but they seemed to have a constant flow of nearby workers taking advantage of their quick takeaway service. Orders of spring rolls, rice paper rolls andpho flew out the door during a weekday lunch. The service is attentive, friendly and you order and pay at the counter.

For a $9 pho, the portion was quite large, the chicken was generous and I was left with a warm, liquid-filled belly – I’m pretty certain that this is someone’s definition of heaven. I could merrily devour the same dish 365 days a year.

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Wabi Sabi (Collingwood)

June 23, 2015

“The Japanese view of life embraced a simple aesthetic
that grew stronger as inessentials were eliminated
and trimmed away.” -Tadao Ando

As you enter Wabi-Sabi, the indoor wooden hut slates make you feel as if you just walked into a small Japanese garden. The sake is warm, the food cooked and plated with that delicate Japanese care that is so rarely found in dining experiences. When such care is experienced, dismantling the meal feels almost wicked. Almost.
Wabi Sabi offers an array of Japanese food and during the day, a sushi counter serves interesting and fresh rolls, including sweet potato for those with a preference to live without meat.

We stopped by for a quick meal after work, and to add a layer of sake to protect against the chill-bone winds that howled outside.
To start;

Jpegtwo sweet, thick, succulent slabs of pork belly, wedged between a soft bao, with hints of pickle and juicy chilli mayo. I could eat these forever.

To follow;

JpegAgadashi tofu; This sweet, concoction of lightly fried tofu and softly caramelised eggplant went down nicely and offset the large fall-off-the-bone slow cooked lamb in plum sauce.

The slow cooked lamb was a daily special etched onto the blackboard and being a bit of a sucker for slow cooked meat, it definitely did not disappoint. A slight lift of the protruding bone caused the tender flesh to seductively fall away. The plum sauce penetrated the lamb and we gleefully soaked up the jus with brown rice.
Wabi Sabi has an extensive drinks list and is ideal for a shared meal or for celebrating those special occasions. The service is pleasant yet professional, with the waiter keenly recommending the right sake to warm our bellies.
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Cibi (Collingwood)

June 21, 2015

Cibi, located on a narrow offshoot street in Collingwood, offers fresh, Japanese dishes for those seeking a flavourful escape. Set in a wonderfully large, airy warehouse – the owners pay homage to architecture that creates clean lines and minimalistic chic. Here you can also shop for artfully crafted homewares such as bags, porcelain, stationary and glass.

meatballs cibi
Lamb meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce. These went particularly well with the soft brown rice as it absorbed the excess sauce dripping from the flavourful morsels of lamb mince containing herbs and pinenuts.

CIBI fish
The fish was delicately coated in spice (perhaps turmeric – but I cannot say for certain). Lightly steamed and served on a bed of salad, this was a perfectly light lunch option. Eaten in between sips of the miso, offered a perfectly salty note.

The served salads consisted of a Japanese potato salad – far more depth of flavour can be found here compared to your run of the mill potato salad. Green beans, brushed with sesame oil perfectly offset the meatiness of the lamb meatballs.

Cibi is open for lunches daily and their menu is quite diverse whilst still offering café staples. Protip: I have only heard good words to describe their take on a Japanese soba salad.

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ChangGo (CBD)

June 21, 2015

ChangGo is located on Little LaTrobe st, tucked behind RMIT’s glass panelled behemoth building. ChangGo is a place that executes Korean BBQ with effortless style. Large copper exhausts dangle over the sizzling hot plates on each table. Whilst normally it requires some preplanning in order to nab one of the tables, we managed to meander in on a late Saturday night and be seated immediately.

ChangGo offers the Korean BBQ take on a degustation; Palsaik. 8 assorted flavours of pork belly with kimchi, rice and a steamy hot hotpot – all for roughly $55, recommended for 2-3 people.

ChangGo Palsaik2

The eight flavours of pork belly were wine, original, ginseng, garlic, herb, curry, miso paste and hot, in order of placement.

ChangGo PalsaikFirst to sizzle on the hot plate laid before us was a collection of beansprouts, spicy kimchi and vegetables.


ChangGo Korean BBQ

At first we kept up with which pork was sizzling on the hot plate, but soon we lost count as staff members would flitter by, expertly lay some pork onto the plate and cut it up into bite size pieces with finesse. The wine and garlic had the most robust flavours penetrate the pork, however, every succulent pork belly slice was perfect and soon we had lost logistics of which pork piece was which.

ChangGo Hotpot

The seafood and tofu stew arrived steaming and brimming with hints of various flavours; seafood, tomato, hot pepper. The addition of mussels and humungous king prawns was definitely a bonus.

ChangGo Sogu

Although this was the first time we had actually Korean BBQ’d together,  the Palsaik at ChangGo definitely sparked the beginnings of a dining addition. Despite the menu claiming it serves 2-3 people, we left rolling out the door due to the copiuous pork and shochu consumption –  a fine way to mark the mid of the weekend.


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Meatball and Wine Bar (Collingwood)

May 24, 2015

Meatball and Wine Bar in Collingwood is one of three of the brand that has popped up all around Melbourne. Lately, I have been a sucker for a good meal deal and on Wednesdays, the Smith St branch offers spaghetti, beef meatballs and garlic bread all for a measly $12.  Meatballs and Wine bar is dimly lit, lively and the music verges on ‘blaring’. The space also contains an impressively long bar where diners were seated sipping on wines from their extensive wine list .

Meatball and spaghetti special

The service is friendly and easy-going. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything of the pretentious kind here. The meatballs were dense, moreish and oh so filling. The sauce was light, sweet and muddled with hints of basil – scooped into the buttery, crusty garlic bread it was the perfect cure to a cold Melbourne evening. Being quite a big eater, even this was quite satisfying.

Meatball and wine co

I find the idea of pasta without a paring of a good wine to be alien. Luckily, Meatballs has a superb wine list. After downing 2 glasses of red during our meal, we opted for wine for dessert as well. The red wine goes down dangerously easily here. We were offered Whoopie Macs for dessert which is your choice of icecream sandwiched between your choice of cookie – but being so full of wine and balls, I’ll definitely be venturing back to sample what sounds like the ultimate ice cream sanga.

Meatball and Wine Bar is comfortable and perfect for escaping the winter chills with a paring of balls and of course, copious glasses of wine.
Meatball & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon


Green Park (Carlton North)

May 2, 2015

Green Park opened up where St Ali North had it’s short debut and it had been on my to-do list for quite some time. I really wanted to fall in love with Green Park with it’s fantastic space, bike friendly location and interesting menu.  I really did.

coffee sign park st

A constant ebb and flow of cyclists grabbing a quick caffeine boost affirms you are indeed in Carlton North, where the coffee is bold and soy is always an option. We ordered the usual; skinny flat white and a chai latte.

Coffee and chai

Rarely in this pocket between Carlton, Brunswick East and Fitzroy, you’ll get a coffee that isn’t top notch. Between overly bitter sips of coffee, slightly dulled by the velvety milk,  I realised that this was an OK coffee – but not great. And the chai? Weak and unexciting. There’s plenty of better options around to get your caffeine fix.

Filled Bagel with Avocado, egg, dill, herbed cream cheese, rocket (v)($12)

Filled Bagel with Avocado, egg, dill, herbed cream cheese, rocket (v)($12)

The filled bagel was served with delightfully crunchy, salty sweet potato chips. The bagel itself was a tad too hard and gnawing on it gave my jaw a good workout. The filling was a simple mix of egg, avocado and rocket and was actually pretty tasty once I managed clamp down on the bagel.

Green Park Bagel

Green Park Big Breakfast

Green Park Breakfast – 63 degree eggs, thick cut bacon, sausage, beans, hash brown & toast ($21)

I watched as the 63 degree egg was penetrated with the fork, revealing a gooey yolk which was quickly absorbed by the bread. Impressive. The smokey bacon was thick with a rind of fat and was the highlight of the breakfast. The sausage, whilst it looked amazing, it lacked any sort of herb or flavour infusion. Asked what he thought about his hash brown, the answer was “Nope”.

green park review

The service was attentive and friendly, and couldn’t be faulted at all. It’s just a shame that the food didn’t match the level of service.

Green Park on Urbanspoon


Sun Moth Canteen & Bar (CBD)

May 1, 2015

Sun Moth Canteen & Bar is a sleek little unit offering interesting takes on breakfast and other old favourites, tucked into Niagara Lane in the heart of the city.


We paid a visit early one Tuesday night, eager to sample the menu in an elegant space that could easily have doubled as an art gallery - with clean lines and a projector spitting out shimmering light like something out of a Nicolas Refn movie.


The team here know their wine, and graciously topped up our glasses of Domaine Lucci after giving us a comprehensive background on its journey here from the soils of South Australia.

I have a great deal of respect for people who are passionate enough about wine to understand the in-depth craft behind it, but sometimes my lack of knowledge resigns me to just nodding enthusiastically instead of actually contributing to the conversation. Wine wine wine, delicious wine.


Fried bread with olives, garlic, chilli, lemon and pecorino.

Fried bread with olives, garlic, chilli, lemon and pecorino.

I’m a sucker for any recipe that turns something nondescript into something amazing. The fried bread starter is no exception – I could eat this on a daily basis.

Duck liver parfait, pear, salted figs and walnuts.

Duck liver parfait, pear, salted figs and walnuts.

Barley risotto with mushrrom.

Barley risotto with mushroom.

Sweet corn and chicken soup with buttermilk dumplings.

Sweet corn and chicken soup with buttermilk dumplings.

Capping off a set of dishes perfect for the chilly evening outside was the sweet corn and chicken soup, a warming concoction of flavours and textures. Next time I feel a headcold coming on, I’m heading straight to this bowl of comforting famililar tastes.

Sweet corn and chicken soup with buttermilk dumplings.



Much respect to the team at Sun Moth for putting together such an interesting menu in an enigmatic space in the middle of the city, and many thanks to the rad guys at Zomato for turning us onto it!

Sun Moth Canteen & Bar on Urbanspoon


Little Ramen Bar (CBD)

April 29, 2015

Ramen solves everything. Even though ramen sprung from China, it was quickly adopted as Japans soul food and is now largely recognised as a Japanese dish on the same level of sushi. Little Ramen Bar has surged in popularity among the ramen slurping community, and for good reason. It’s tiny 30-seater Tshop constantly has a small line of patrons and smells of 12 hour pork bone broth waft out the door.

Little Ramen Bar’s menu is simple and pays tribute to traditional ramen flavours with choice between shio, shoyu and miso varieties for most broths. On top of their ramen offerings you can opt for extras such as a ‘garlic bomb’ to ward off those vampires or extra BBQ pork slices and chilli.

Chashu Tamago

The Chashu Tamago ramen is Little Ramen Bar’s ‘most popular’ and includes all the essential ramen toppings – gooey eggs, 3 slices of bbq pork, bamboo, nori and spring onion. Morsels of fat emulsified in the slow-cooked pork broth and made for a hearty bowl of ramen. The broths consistency was reminiscent of ramen I had in Akihabara, Tokyo and was a very traditional take on tonkotsu. I am aware that the visible fat and richness of the broth can be off-putting to some (especially those punishing themselves on diets) , but it truly is a fantastic rich porky broth and leaves you feeling just fuller than content. The pork was succulent, rimmed with a lovely layer of fat and broke apart when pronged with the chopsticks.  The soft boiled egg wasn’t as “goopey” as I would have liked but still had that pleasant softness to the yolk.

Little ramen bar review

A ramens worth can be measured in two parts – the broth and the noodles. Little Ramen Bar manages to cook the homemade noodles to the perfect point. The springy yellow noodles remained delightfully chewy the entire time I gulped down my bowl of ramen. This is quite the scientific feat – to ensure the noodles keep their firmness whilst swimming in the hot broth.

Garlic Shio Ramen

Across from me was a large bowl of Garlic Shio Ramen. Similar to the Chashu Tamago in broth, the only difference I could pick up was the poignant  garlic injection. I actually preferred the broth of the Garlic Shio Ramen but only because I am a bit of a garlic addict. This Garlic Shio Ramen would be the perfect remedy to ward off a winters cold.

Little Ramen Bar hits the spot pretty well and I’m pretty keen on revisiting for their “Garlic Bomb” to accompany their decadently fatty tonkotsu broth.

Little Ramen Bar on Urbanspoon