cuisine

Chinese Roast Pork Belly ***

Pork Belly

Happy Roast Pork Belly Day!

Okay, so it’s actually Valentine’s Day, but c’moooooon. Roast Pork Belly Day is about as arbitrary, right?

Besides, Valentine’s Day is completely wasted on me. I’m not into getting flowers (they die… and I can buy my own), or chocolates (I only really like plain dark chocolate… and I can buy my own), or jewellery (I don’t like gold or diamonds… and I can buy my own).

You can deduce a couple of things from that.

1: I don’t like receiving gifts. (Though I appreciate the thought and all.)
2: I’m terribly unromantic.

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Mr Huang Jin

Remember when Melbourne was xiao long bao mad a couple of years ago?

That’s one food trend I’m happy to consume. And when Sarah posted about Mr Huang Jin’s XLBs recently, I was keen to check them out after an average XLB experience the previous week.

Mr Huang Jin are located in the Rialto tower on Collins Street, and haven’t been open for terribly long. And I feel the need to get this out of the way first: they’re not your typical dumpling restaurant where you can eat until you burst for $10. A serve of dumplings at Mr Huang Jin is $18-$20. Is it worth the extra money when you can go to a cheap cheerful place for much, much less? Well: read on.

I rocked up with Alastair and Bro on a warm Wednesday evening. We were the only table, so service was attentive, and very sweet.

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Gami Chicken and Beer

A life without fried chicken is a life not worth living.

It’s true.

It’s a shame that fried chicken has been marred by the trashiness of KFC because when it’s done well, it’s a thing of delicious, delicious beauty.

At Gami, which I *finally* visited the other week, they serve Korean fried chicken and beer. While there are other dishes on the menu, with a name like Gami Chicken and Beer, what else would you be there for?

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Fonda Mexican

Note: scheduled post. Still on holiday. Back soon though. Boo!

I’ve heard that Fonda, a Mexican style cantina in Richmond, is always busy, with lines down the street. I don’t spend much time in Richmond, so I can’t confirm whether or not this is true, but with the popularity of Mexican food in Melbourne, I can believe it.

Before we went on holiday, Alastair and I had an early dinner with Hazzie and Gazman. We rocked up at 6pm and were seated straight away – hooray to not lining up. We quickly looked through the menu and ordered at the counter.

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Akachochin: set lunch

Ever since our first visit to Akachochin in South Wharf, I’ve been dying to go back. The only thing that prevented a second visit was my rather sad attempts at austerity (which hasn’t been going so well but let’s not dwell on it). But the perfect opportunity came up for a revisit the other weekend when Celeste was in town for a conference. Along with Haz and Gazman, we all headed down to South Wharf for a long overdue catch up with Celeste.

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Heirloom

Disclosure: Alastair and I dined courtesy of Heirloom.

I think it’s fair to say that Heirloom has suffered from a confused identity. When they first opened about a year and a half ago, the cuisine was marketed as Japanese-French fusion. Fusion food, fairly or unfairly, seems to have a negative connotation, so to market yourself with that label is a brave (or naive) move.

Well, Heirloom realised that the fusion thing wasn’t really working, and at the beginning of this year they quietly rebranded themselves into a modern Japanese izakaya with a total change to their menu.

Alastair and I were invited along to a bloggers’ dinner last week to try out the food.

Located on Bourke Street on the ground floor of the Citadines Hotel, Heirloom is a vast space with concrete walls, lots of black and clean lines. Due to the hotel, they are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with breakfast mostly being a more traditional Western style affair. Lunch and dinner are more interesting, showcasing their take on Japanese izakaya food.

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Gypsy & Pig

Tucked away in Little Lonsdale Street between Elizabeth and Queen Street is a sweet little Japanese restaurant. I visited this week thanks to a tip off from a reader (Hi Gavin!), dragging along Alastair, Hazzie and Ashley for a spot of dinner. Gypsy and Pig is a small restaurant – about 24 seats or so – and unfortunately when we arrived there weren’t four seats available together. Faced with this, I agreed to us being split into two groups – so Alastair and I had an impromptu date, as did Ashley and Hazzie. :)

As well as being small, the restaurant is modest and understated. There’s a lot of black – the staff are dressed in black, and the walls are painted a matt black, broken up by large timber framed windows. Half of the seating is arranged bar-style in a big square around the open kitchen.

With a name like Gypsy & Pig, it’s no surprise that they specialise in pork dishes – specifically kurobuta, the Japanese name for a breed of pig known as Black Berkshire. Kurobuta is highly prized for its sweet, rich flavour, tenderness and juiciness.

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1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles

You wouldn’t expect lamb skewers to be the best thing on the menu at a restaurant named 1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles. But if you make it to this casual restaurant in Footscray and don’t eat at least two lamb skewers each, you’re missing out.

1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles has been around for quite a while. Located on Hopkins Street, across from the Footscray Market, they serve north western Chinese / Xinjiang food. Food in the Xinjiang region of China generally uses quite a bit of lamb/mutton and no pork because it’s a region with a high proportion of Muslims, due to the geographic nearness of the Middle East. Noodles are primarily made with wheat flour and cumin is a common spice.

I hadn’t eaten at 1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles in quite a few years (for some reason I thought they had closed!) and was pleased to find on my latest visit with Maztech, Bro, Bro’s gf, and Alastair, that not much had changed. The walls had been painted, and there was now a helpful photo menu, but it was still the same casual joint that I remembered. And the lamb skewers were still on the menu. Win win win.

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MoVida: wine selectors dinner

Disclosure: I dined courtesy of Wine Selectors.

Movida, Movida, Movida. Last week was my first visit to the original Movida. I’d only previously had a lovely lunch at Movida Next Door but never visited the original. The reason for my visit was due to Wine Selectors – along with Haz and Thanh, we were there to try Frank Camorra’s signature wine that had been produced in association with Wine Selectors.

Wine Selectors started 35 years ago as a small retail space in the Hunter Valley and has morphed into Australia’s largest independent direct marketer of wine. Recently, they teamed up with several chefs and wine producers to create a wine collection designed to match each of the chefs’ cuisine styles.

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Touche Hombre

Disclosure: I dined courtesy of Touche Hombre.

The Melbourne craze for Mexican food continues full steam ahead, with Touché Hombre being one of the latest to open in the past month or so. The team behind it, Maison Davis, have obviously had a bit of fun putting the restaurant together. There’s many tongue in cheek references to be found: from the tag line “héroes de medio caparazón” (heroes in a half shell), to the arcade games at the entrance, to the “who ya gonna call?” neon sign, and the big cheery chicken jugs that pour cocktails out of the beak, just to name a few.

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