Melbourne

Shop Ramen (Fitzroy)

August 23, 2015

The Japanese say, If the flower is to be beautiful, it must be cultivated. – Lester Cole

R-amen is how I would end every prayer if I had any sort of religious inclination. Shop Ramen offers a non-traditional ramen menu and had been on my to-do list for far too long. Laziness had usually triumphed but one lunchtime I was experiencing a hankering for soupy noodles. Not an unusual emotional state for those close to me.

Shop Ramen has very limited seating and I shuffled onto a table where two dudes were devouring Bao and sake on a Wednesday. My brand of hip-folk.

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I picked the Pork Belly ramen because despite my desire for a progressive state, I can’t move past a good traditional pork belly ramen.  Served with shio, oyster mushroom, watercress and nori. The mouth-watering pork belly pieces penetrated their flavour into the salty broth. However, the broth was depthless and without any complexity.  The egg was either not marinated or hardly marinated and the gooeyness I love to watch pour into my soup was just not there.

Oh Shop Ramen, how I wanted to love you but I just couldn’t. My meal took a good 25-30 minutes to arrive, granted it was quite a busy little hub and for $15, it was expensive on the scale of ramen. I hope I just caught them on an off-day, but having such a myriad of good ramen to choose from, it is difficult to make that concession.  Overall, a very lack lustre experience that I would hesitate to return to.

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Bali, Travel

Fat Bowl (Bali)

August 17, 2015

“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” – Anthony Bourdain

Fat_bowl_menu

Fat Bowl replicates the Asian fusion wave that Melbourne has seemed to only just recover from. Whilst the menu focuses on modern takes on traditional Asian dishes, it spans from Japanese to Indonesian – each dish having a unique take.

Babi Guling with Caesar Salad

Babi Guling with Caesar Salad

Hungering for some Balinese pork, I ordered the Babi Guling with a side of Caesar salad. A strange yet compelling combination. The succulent pork had a crunchy exterior, giving way to an interior that simply melted upon each mouthful. The salad itself was crispy and eased the delectable pork fat that was subsiding in my stomach.

(Front) Pork Belly with Snake Beans, (back) Enoki

(Front) Pork Belly with Snake Beans, (back) Enoki

Joe ordered the pork belly, which arrived in the form very, very similar to my Babi Guling. Deliciously filling and served with a side of creamy turmeric snake beans.

enoki

Enoki Beef Rolls

For entree we had low expectations for the Japanese enoki but were pleasantly surprised. The beef was on the chewier side of the scale, and the mushrooms added a joyful resistance to the small bites laid before use. Served with a chilli, sesame soy, a good way to begin your furore through Fat Bowls menu.

fat bowl legian

Fat Bowl is a good option when you want to try Bali’s take on Modern Asian-Fusion. The menu itself is very incentive and I would love to visit to sample more of Fat Bowls offerings. Alas my time had run out and my consumption of Bali had come to a sudden end.

Bali, Travel

Lacalita Bar (Bali)

August 17, 2015

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.- Lao Tzu

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Spending a few days in Canggu slows ones pace. Canggu is located towards Tanah Lot – a water temple that is an absolute must for any tourist when in Bali. The beach is far more tumultuous than that of Kuta, attracting bronzed surfers that ooze Patrick Swayzes Point Break style.

Skinnyglutton bali

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Melbourne

Two Little Pigs (Brunswick)

August 12, 2015

You can never put too much pork in your mouth as far as I’m concerned. – Lewis Black

Two Little Pigs caught my attention with promises of porky  breakfasts and locals highly rating the coffee they churn out – quite a feat when you are located close to numerous other revered coffee establishments. I was in the mood for a Sunday food coma, a ritual if it were, and Two Little Pigs seemed to offer the meat and cheese laden meals which I so craved.

TwoLittlePigsReview

ChaiLatteTo start, I opted to sip on a chai latte. The chai latte was good, but didn’t have the complex spice component that marks a good Brunswick chai. I have only heard good things about the coffee here but unfortunately I arrived pre-caffeinated.

phillycheesesteak

Since cheese and meat is a combination difficult to pass up, I decided that the Philly Cheese Steak would be a sure way to induce a delightfully decadent food coma. The pan fried beef rump was dripping in cheesey goodness and the slight tang of the onions made for a really well rounded heart attack. It was quite a struggle to keep the innards from oozing out of the sweet crusty bun, and this is definitely not a meal to order on a first date or if you have a fear of food spillage in public. Personally, the messier the better when it comes to a philly cheese roll.

Cubano

Across from me the very on trend Cubano had been proudly plonked on the wooden charcuterie. Pulled pork, pickles, oozey cheese, splashes of mustard and ham, all wedged between two buttery slabs of bread. Whilst this was not as striking in flavour as the Philly Cheese Steak, it was a beautiful medley of complimentary profiles. The crunchy, vinegary pickles highlighted the sweetness of the pulled pork.

Two Little Pigs cheekily plays a homage to charcuterie abundant meals, all brimming with flavour and decadence. Be mindful that after devouring a breakfast at Two Little Pigs, a post food nap may be well deserved!

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Recipes

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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Melbourne

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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Melbourne

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.

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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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Melbourne

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.

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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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Melbourne

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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Melbourne

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.

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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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