lunch

Station Hotel

I must be getting old(er) because I’ve become a big fan of going out for lunch in the weekend, rather than dinner.

Why? Well, some positives: Lunch is more relaxed. Plus there’s more light in restaurants, which means it’s easier to take photos – always important to a food blogger. It’s nice being home in the evenings, particularly when the weather is shit, as it has been this year. And in addition, lunch tends to be a bit cheaper and some restaurants do lunch specials (oh joy!).

But there are negatives: I can’t eat as much at lunch time. And having a big lunch means I skip dinner. (Although maybe I should put this in the positives column?)

Speaking of big lunches, we recently caught up with Maria and Daz for lunch at the Station Hotel. The Station Hotel in Footscray is in a building that was built in 1864, and was reinvented a few years ago as a gastro pub. Food wise, there’s an emphasis on steak, pub food, and food with French influences.
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Naked for Satan: Siblings who Lunch

Thank goodness for the Melbourne Cup. If it wasn’t for the fact that in Melbourne we get the day off for a horse race, there would be a long, cold stretch between June and December with no public holidays to look forward to. The other good thing about the Melbourne Cup? Since it’s always on a Tuesday, taking the Monday off means a four day weekend. Hooray for long weekends!

Bro and I both took the Monday before Melbourne Cup off, so I suggested we go out for lunch. We headed to Naked for Satan, a newly(ish) opened bar in Fitzroy that serves pintxos. Pintxos are a typical snack of the Basque region in Spain, and are related to tapas – they consist of a mixture of ingredients on top of a small slice of bread and fastened with a toothpick.
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J Café / Sushi Burger

I used to work in the city, but after changing jobs last year, I’m stuck in St Kilda. The pocket of St Kilda where I work is not pretty. For one, there’s elephant sized dog poo everywhere, and there’s also the occasional person squatting in the gutter and taking a piss (yes that really happened, it was DURING THE DAY for goodness sake, and she was female. Super classy.). To make things even worse, the food options are severely limited. Argh! It really makes me pine for the city!

When I worked in the city, one place I used to visit at lunch time was Sushi Burger. Depending on your opinion, J Café/ Sushi Burger is either a bit of frivolous awesomeness, or a food abomination. Alastair and I fall into the first camp!

So what’s a sushi burger? It’s basically a sushi type filling sandwiched between two “buns” of sushi rice and wrapped in seaweed. Awesomeness or abomination? You decide!
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Café Vue at 401 St Kilda Road

It was my Bro’s birthday earlier this month, and we took him out for a spontaneous birthday lunch to celebrate.

I have eaten at the St Kilda Road version of Café Vue a couple of times for breakfast/brunch, but have never ordered off their menu de jour. So a a birthday was the perfect excuse for an indulgent Sunday lunch.

Cafe Vue, St Kilda Road

I’m not sure why, but the bread at Cafe Vue comes in a bag. Strange, but cute. It was pretty good bread too.
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Pier 10: Week of Eats

T'gallant

A while ago now, back when my in-laws Annette and Terry were here, we spent a gorgeous Friday down in the Mornington Peninsula laughing, tasting wines, and enjoying the sunshine.

Lunch at Pier 10
Our lunch time view at Pier 10

After stops at two wineries (T-Gallant and Montalto), our lunch stop was Pier 10. Pier 10 used to be a weekender, and became a vineyard in 1996. It’s a very pleasant spot, with the restaurant looking out over the vines and fields. I seem to remember being told that it’s called Pier 10 because the structure in the front garden used to be part of a pier.

Lunch at Pier 10

After tasting a few wines in the tasting room (where we came across a bucket of seriously gigantic zucchinis that were looking for homes), we headed to the back deck for food.

Lunch at Pier 10

For lunch, we had an antipasto platter to share. It was all pretty good – olives, cured meats, some very good crunchy green beans, marinated vegetables and a bit of smooth pate.

And for the mains, the options were: a wild mushroom risotto, fish and chips, roast chicken breast and pan roasted ocean trout.

Lunch at Pier 10

Alastair, Terry and I, ordered the pan roasted ocean trout, with nicoise salad and basil pesto. We were all pleased with our lunch – the trout was perfectly cooked with crispy skin, and the vegetables and salad were crunchy and fresh. Good boiled egg too!

Lunch at Pier 10

Annette had the roast chicken breast with mashed potato, green beans, and gravy. This looked great – and it was a massive portion!

Lunch at Pier 10

It was a very pleasant lunch – nothing fancy, but the food was well cooked and tasty. And as a bonus, we took a zucchini home for later – I told you they were massive!

Pier 10
10 Shoreham Road
Shoreham 3916
Phone: 5989 8848

Montalto: Anniversary picnic

Picnic at Montalto

Isn’t it interesting how the older you get, the faster time goes by? Three years ago in March, Alastair and I were married (AWWW) but sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday. Should I write something embarrassingly gushy about love and all that jazz? No, I’ll spare you! Be thankful!

Since March is always a very busy month, we waited until April to celebrate our anniversary. I booked us a picnic at Montalto, a winery on the Mornington Peninsula. I have been wanting to picnic there ever since I read about it on Vicious Ange’s blog a couple of years ago. For $70 per person, we were allocated a private picnic spot (there are five) on the winery grounds, with food and other assorted picnic stuff set up for our arrival. We checked in at the cellar door, taking the opportunity to taste a couple of wines, and were then given a map so we could walk down to our picnic spot. Our spot was Half Moon, and would have been a 5-10 minute walk from the cellar door, except we got lost a couple of times and at one point I sent us crashing through the bush in what was pretty much the opposite direction. Now normally I have a fantastic sense of direction, and am very good with maps, but this was a hand drawn one with no sense of scale – what kind of map is that?? Bah! Ultimately, Alastair had to take over and lead the way, figuring out how to get to our secluded spot.

A good picnic is, of course, reliant on the weather and we totally lucked out. It was a beautiful sunny day, with a balmy temperature of about 25°C.

Picnic at Montalto

Our picnic spot was set in a clearing surrounded by trees. When we arrived, a table and umbrella had been set up for us.

Picnic at Montalto

The table was set with white linen, plates and cutlery, and off to one side was a big esky fridge thing (chillybin!) that held the food.

Picnic at Montalto

There was also a picnic basket which was loaded with a picnic blanket, insect repellent and sun screen. The insect repellent was definitely very useful as I started to get bug bites almost straight away – thank goodness it had been provided!

Picnic at Montalto
The esky fridge thing!

At the cellar door, we had ordered a bottle of wine, and someone must have driven it down while we were navigating the winery grounds, because there was a freshly opened, cold bottle waiting for us.

Picnic at Montalto

It didn’t take us long to get stuck into the food. In a covered dish on the table were several chewy bread rolls, and a bowl of nice olive oil.

Picnic at Montalto

On our first platter of food were: slices of terrine, a couple of dips (hummus and capsicum), some very good olives, smoked salmon on lentils, and a cherry tomato and basil salad. Good all round, with both of us particularly enjoying the smoked salmon, terrine and olives.

Picnic at Montalto

After a rest, we pulled out the mains platter. For mains we had duck, roast beef with chutney, and vegetables. The duck, cooked medium, was flavoursome and not too gamey. I also enjoyed the sweetish chutney with the thick slices of beef. But I would have loved more salady stuff – there was a lot of meat on that plate!

Picnic at Montalto

And for dessert, we had two kinds of cheese, crackers, quince paste, a sliced up fig, a couple of seriously fantastic strawberries and raspberries, raisins, a mandarin jelly thing, and a dense and rich chocolate cake.

Picnic at Montalto

It was nice to spend the afternoon hanging out under the trees with the sounds of the bush around us: birds chirping, the breeze blowing, cows mooing in the distance…! Yep, we picnicked to the serene sound of the occasional moooooooooooo. Hilarious.

We finished with a complimentary coffee at the Montalto garden café before we had to head back to Melbourne.

We had a very lovely picnic – it’s such a beautiful spot and great for a special occasion. It was very well organised, and I was impressed that small things had been thought of e.g. insect repellent being provided, the table being set, and our cold bottle of wine being driven down. It was just a shame that we couldn’t spend longer hanging out there!


Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove
33 Shoreham Road, Red Hill South, Victoria 3937
Phone +61 3 5989 8412

Montalto Restaurant and Winery on Urbanspoon

Cutler & Co: Puntastic

We went to Cutler & Co for a leisurely Sunday lunch recently with Maria and Daz from The Gourmet Challenge. On Sundays Cutler & Co have a set menu for $65, which we thought was a great opportunity to try them out.

The fit out of the restaurant is quite stunning, the long room kitted out in dark tones and with a rather flash automatic door to the loos. We were particularly taken with the industrial looking lights with a super long filament that hung above the tables.

There were four courses for the set lunch. We received all of the dishes listed for the first two courses, and then for mains and desserts we selected one dish each from several options.

We started with three small dishes: French breakfast radishes, Clair de Lune oysters, and cured ocean trout toast.

Cutler & Co

Bro started us off on our punny lunch by saying that the radishes were radiscal. Oh dear. I can’t say that the jokes improved from there, but I have recorded them for prosperity anyway! Apart from being radiscal, the rather cute, little crunchy radishes were mild in flavour.

Cutler & Co

The oysters were lovely. Served raw with a squirt of lemon, they were fresh and sweet.

Cutler & Co

The ocean trout toast was also delicious, with little cubes of ocean trout on top of the crispy toast. In Bro’s words: it was troutriffic.

Cutler & Co

The bread was so good that everyone had second or third servings.

Next we received a selection of starters to share.

Cutler & Co

This was beetroot salad with goat’s curd and apple. It was really nice – seemingly simple, but the little beets were sweet and tender, and fortunately for us non-goat-cheese lovers, the goat’s curd was only a little bit “goaty”. It looked beautiful as well.

Cutler & Co

We received a bowl of pearl barley with radicchio and ricotta salata. I quite liked the firmish barley with the salted ricotta and radicchio, although it wasn’t very popular around the table.

Cutler & Co

The next dish was garlic sausage, potato and ravigot. This perked us all up after the barley. Bold and salty sausage and a bit of potato. Nice.

Cutler & Co

Next up: FRIED GREEN TOMATOES. Fried green tomatoes, people! Does anyone remember the movie? I have waited years to eat fried green tomatoes! They were great – crumbed slices of slightly tart green tomato on top of what I think may have been eggplant. I loved the little frying pans they were presented in as well.

Cutler & Co

The last dish before mains was peppers, migas and tuna mayo. This was another nice dish – the peppers were sweet, the bread was crispy, and while the tuna mayonaise sounded strange at first, we all loved it. Alastair said that it was a-mayonaising. Pun of the day!

For mains, there was an option of four dishes:

Cutler & Co

Alastair had the local line caught snapper, tomato, prawn and chorizo. It looked pretty good, particularly the big bursty prawn underneath the fish.

Cutler & Co

Bro and Daz had the roast quail, smoked sausage and sauerkraut. The sauerkraut was served separately in a small pot and it was really something – WOW HELLO PORKY PORK – there was nothing sour about that sauerkraut! (ba bow). It was all bacon porky goodness. Poor boys though, they had the biggest appetites and they received the teeniest dish!

Cutler & Co

Maria and I both had the braised lamb, buckwheat polenta and gremolata. The lamb was very tender although a bit fatty. I liked the soft polenta and the dark wilted greens too.

The fourth mains option was a baked ricotta, eggplant Calabrese and fennel salad, which none of us ordered.

And for dessert, there were three options.

Cutler & Co

Bro and Alastair both had the Earl Grey tea ice cream, chocolate ganache, and macerated prune. I had a little taste and thought it was delicious, and I adored the faint floral bergamot fragrance of the Earl Grey ice cream. Bro said that the ganache was also great, although I didn’t try it.

Cutler & Co

Maria and I both had the quince baba, sheep’s milk yoghurt and cherry. I found the baba a little dry – it was nice, but I was expecting it to be drenched in something. The quinces were gorgeous though. I wouldn’t have minded a massive bowl of just the quinces with the yoghurt!

And Daz had… oh Daz… he selected the Gruyere d’Alpage
and shiraz jelly (which I neglected to take a photo of – because I was in fits of laughter). Why was I in fits of laughter? Because Daz had been expecting dessert… and received cheese and crackers and a teeny dollop of jelly. Oh we laughed at the disappointment on his face (sorry Daz!). If I had been quicker off the mark, I could’ve said, “Gryuere’s your dessert?” (bah bow!) but unfortunately I only thought of that one at home. Isn’t that always the way it goes.

Cutler & Co

We finished off with a round of coffees, which saw us all whip out our phones and google coffee puns. Really, really, REALLY terrible coffee puns ie if you drink a lot of coffee, you’ll be in a latte trouble.

Dear oh dear. Apologies for the terrible puns. At least they kept us amused during lunch. Speaking of lunch, I think the Sunday lunches at Cutler & Co are a definite goer. There were lots of staff working that day – there seemed to be about twenty on the floor – so we didn’t have any issues with service. Apart from a few minor things, overall the food was good (although not mind blowing) and good value for the quality of the dishes. We really enjoyed ourselves and I would be keen to spend a lazy Sunday eating there again.

Cutler & Co
55-57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Phone: 03 9419 4888

Nobu Melbourne

The other month, we headed to lunch at Nobu. Truthfully, I had heard so many mixed reviews about Nobu, combined with reports about how expensive it is, that I had never been that keen to go. But when I found out that they do a deal at lunch time for $57, which includes an entrée, main with miso soup, rice, and dessert, I figured it was worth a shot. So I roped in Maria and Daz from the Gourmet Challenge and off we went.

The menu for Nobu is long and it’s not terribly descriptive, so Bro and I pored over the menu beforehand to ensure that we weren’t caught out on the day (don’t you hate being in a restaurant and ordering hastily and then having food envy when the food arrives?). For the lunch deal, not everything is included – premium items like wagyu, lobster, and the signature black cod with miso aren’t available for example – but that still leaves plenty of choice. The menu isn’t specifically set up in categories like entrees and mains, but we assumed that the first section – “special appetizers” were entrees and the rest of the menu were considered mains.

Nobu Melbourne

Alastair ordered the sashimi tacos with yellowtail tuna, salmon, lobster and crab. I’m not sure what the tacos were made out of, but the crispy shells were filled with fresh sashimi and quite tasty.

Nobu Melbourne

Bro and Maria both ordered the beef fillet tataki, with onion ponzu and garlic chips. This was really nice, the thin slices of rare beef just seared on the outside and served in a sharp, tangy, salty sauce.

Nobu Melbourne

I had the tuna tataki with tosazu. Like the beef, it was just seared on the outside, and the thin, tender slices of tuna were in a vinegary soy sauce.

Nobu Melbourne

We also received a bowl of miso soup, which was pretty standard.

For mains, it wasn’t immediately clear what we could order. I assumed that everything past a certain point was considered a “main” and was part of the deal, barring the exceptions. Turns out, the waiter wasn’t entirely sure as well, but assumed what I assumed!

Nobu Melbourne

Alastair had the soft shell crab kara age. It looked really good, and I didn’t hear any complaints from him about it. I really liked the way it was presented – look at that mushroom!

Nobu Melbourne

Maria had the tempura baby tiger prawn with creamy spicy sauce. This photo cracks me up – when I went to take a photo, Maria flashed the peace sign without warning me. Naturally, I had to include it in this post! Maria’s prawns were cooked really well, and tasted great with the creamy sauce.

Nobu Melbourne

Daz had the wagyu gyoza with goma ponzu. Normally $37, could they be the most expensive dumplings in Melbourne?! I didn’t try any, but they did look and smell good.

Nobu Melbourne

Bro had the wagyu intercostal with seasonal vegetables and wasabi salsa. I think this was the best dish of the day – the beef was super tender with a bit of smokiness and the wasabi salsa gave a nice kick to the dish. It smelt so amazing too. Bro ordered very well!

Nobu Melbourne

And I ordered something from the grill menu – beef sirloin steak. There was a choice between three choices: teriyaki, wasabi pepper or anti-cucho sauce. I selected wasabi pepper.

Nobu Melbourne

I requested it medium rare. It was cooked really well, but it wasn’t as tender as I thought it could have been. I did really like the sauce though, but it was quite a lot of meat for one person and I did end up trying to foist slices on to the others!

The menu at Nobu is really designed for sharing – but with the lunch deal we all ordered our own dishes (tasting one another’s of course). So the timing of dishes, particularly the mains, was off – mine was the last to come out and it was at least 15 minutes after everyone elses. The waiter explained that this was due to the fact that Nobu had seven different kitchens (orly?). If we had been sharing the dishes,we might not have noticed the timing issue, but since we weren’t it really made us wonder about the seven kitchens.

Nobu Melbourne

For dessert, Daz and I both ordered the green tea trifle mousse layered with vanilla brûlée, almond and coconut meringue and milk chocolate ice cream, with lime and vanilla foam. I loved the way it was presented, and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t too sweet, or not too rich, and I found the green tea mousse nice and smooth with the almond and coconut meringue providing some crunchy contrast. I didn’t really eat the toffee, but it was very pretty!

Nobu Melbourne

Alastair had the Suntory whisky cappuccino layered with crunchy coffee cacao, coffee crème brûlée, milk ice cream and Yamazaki whisky foam. His dessert was very small compared to the other ones, and looked just like a coffee.

Nobu Melbourne

Bro had the tofu cheesecake with green tea crumble, berry compote and tuile. When the dessert arrived at the table, the compote was presented in a separate bowl. The waiter, noticing that we were taking photos, offered to pour the compote on top of the dessert for us so we could get a good shot. We all stifled giggles as the compote just plopped on to the dessert in a big blob. Not sexy at all, but points to him for trying!

Nobu Melbourne

Maria had the warm chocolate satandagi filled with pistachio and chocolate ganache in a Japanese bun and served with caramelised pistachios, berry coulis and almond ice cream. They looked like big balls with a chocolate filling!

I thought the lunch deal was good value – but only if you order carefully. I wouldn’t mind going back to Nobu again for lunch. There is a $45 bento box that I noticed other tables ordering that looked good, but I doubt I will ever eat there at dinner time. It is expensive. When I go to a restaurant, particularly a fine dining one, I realise that prices on items are going to be higher because I’m also paying for service, the fit out, etc. And that’s fine – it’s part of the experience. However, there is a point where a mark up just seems to be taking the piss – and Nobu reached that point for me. $40-$50 mains can be okay, but when a bowl of miso soup costs $6.50, a bowl of rice costs $4.50, or a milk coffee is $5.70, as it is at Nobu, it just seems ridiculous. But maybe that’s just me!

See what Maria thought of the meal.

Nobu Melbourne
6 Whiteman St
Southbank VIC 3006
Phone: (03) 9292 7879

Nobu on Urbanspoon

Persimmon: Ron Mueck & Week of Eats

Ron Mueck exhibition - NGV

During the week of eating that we had while my in laws, Annette and Terry, were in town, we went to the Ron Mueck exhibition at the NGV. (My posts are all out of order, but never mind). Has anyone gone to see the exhibition? Wasn’t it fantastic? And if you haven’t gone, it’s closing this weekend, so quick sticks!

Ron Mueck exhibition - NGV

I’m so glad we went, as I loved it. My favourite sculpture was the little old ladies above. Dead Dad (photo at the top) was also fantastic, and I also loved Drift below).

Ron Mueck exhibition - NGV
Ron Mueck exhibition - NGV

If you have time this weekend – go go go.

Ron Mueck exhibition - NGV Ron Mueck exhibition - NGV

After the exhibition, we had lunch at Persimmon. It was Annette and Terry’s last day in Melbourne, so we were hoping for a good last meal with them. I was pretty confident that Persimmon wouldn’t disappoint.

Persimmon

We were given some warm rolls while we decided what to eat. On the board was a selection – brioche, caramelised shallot and pumpkin seed rolls.

Persimmon

For starters, Bro ordered a serve of the soft shell school prawns, with garlic and herb aioli ($15), intending to share it with the table. Everyone else ordered their own starter… and then we ordered ANOTHER serve of the prawns. Greedy, but to be fair, the prawns were great – crunchy, and intensely prawny flavoured.

Persimmon

I had the olive oil poached veal carpaccio, with quail’s eggs, sweetbreads and rocket ($18). The meat was very tender and rare, and I loved the little fried quail’s eggs and sweetbreads.

Persimmon

Alastair had the salmon “mi cuit” with avocado, beetroot & horseradish ($17). Thank goodness for internet enabled phones, we had to google “mi cuit” (which means half/semi cooked). This looked really good, and I loved the teeny little beetroot pieces.

Persimmon

Annette had the chicken liver parfait, apples, pears, raisins & capers and toasted brioche ($26). I didn’t try any, but it sounded like it was a good dish.

Persimmon

Terry ordered the snail’s tempura with pearl barley risotto, parsley and garlic ($17). This was the most interesting dish out of all of them! I tried a bit of a snail, and while it was good, I’m not sure this is a dish I would ever order.

Persimmon

Time for mains. Terry and I both had the lamb’s loin, lamb shoulder, vegetables Provencale and jus gras ($30). Underneath the leaning tower of lamb’s loin slices was a crumbed square of braised lamb shoulder, which I swear tasted almost like something Bro and I used to eat back in New Zealand (a lasagna square for any kiwis out there who remember them!). Oh the memories! Even without the food flashback, I really enjoyed my dish. A fair bit of meat, but it was done well with great flavour.

Persimmon

Alastair and Bro had the scotch fillet, which came with broccoli, white onion & garlic jam, potato crisps and smoked salt ($35). The broccoli was actually pureed – that green bit on the plate. The crisps were behind the greenery, but I think the white onion and garlic jam hadn’t made an appearance on their plates. That, or it was in disguise.

Persimmon

Annette had the butternut pumpkin gnocchi with onions, macadamias, capers and bontazola ($26). This looked absolutely delicious.

Persimmon Persimmon

It was recommended that we order sides, so we selected a salad and green beans. I particularly loved the beans which still had a bit of firm crunch but weren’t squeaky.

Persimmon

Service
was fantastic. And this was true even before the story I’ll tell you in the next paragraph. Our waitress was happy and cheery, and friendly without being OTT. One example – we looked at the dessert menu after our mains, and noticed that some of the desserts had pop rocks. And we discovered that Annette and Terry had never tried pop rocks before (I know, we couldn’t believe it either!). When our waitress come back, we decided not to order dessert but made a passing comment about Annette and Terry’s lack of pop rock experience. And so she insisted that we HAD to try some and came back with a little bowl of pop rocks for us! The left hand side had honey flavoured pop rocks, and the right had chocolate covered ones. Pop rocks go posh!

Okay, so here’s my story. We had a lovely bottle of wine with our mains, a Stefano Lubiana Merlot 2005, and I only remember this because when the sommelier (I believe) came to the table to refill our glasses with the bottle, Annette and Terry requested that I take a photograph of it. And somehow that lead to them outing me as a food blogger (facepalm).

Persimmon

So it may have been due to the blog that we received the following…. complimentary dessert! Which was a peanut butter parfait, with caramelised banana, marshmallow and pistachio ice cream. And chocolate pop rocks – I can’t forget the pop rocks! I have a deep, enduring love affair with peanut butter so it’s no surprise that I loved dessert.

We had such a lovely meal and it was the perfect finale to Annette and Terry’s visit.

Read about a previous visit to Persimmon here.

Persimmon
Café/Bistro
Ground Level
NGV International
180 St Kilda Road
Melbourne

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting

Last Monday, a group of us headed out for an epic ramen hunt in in an effort to find the best ramen in the Melbourne CBD. I was very happy to be part of the group, particularly after eating ramen in Japan.

This is a long post, so settle in! My fellow ramen hunters were Penny from Addictive and Consuming, th0i3, Maria and Daz from The Gourmet Challenge, Adrian from Food Rehab, and Billy from Half-eaten.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: score cards

We ate at seven different restaurants to try out their ramen, and gave scores out of five on three categories – broth, toppings and noodles. Billy put together score cards and scoring sheets for us to use – cute!

Just a quick note, the scores are no indication of the restaurants as a whole, as we were only scoring the ramen.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Menya

Stop 1: Menya
Shop L01 146A, Melbourne Central,
211 LaTrobe Street, Melbourne
Tel: 03 9639 3383

Our quest started at Menya. Because it’s so teeny, we split into two groups. Alastair and I shared a table with Maria and Daz where we tried the Sapporo ramen in shoyu (soy based) soup ($9.20) and Maria and Daz had the chashu (pork) ramen. The two ramen were essentially the same except for a slight variation in toppings.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Menya

The Sapporo ramen came with pork, vegetables, egg and seafood extender.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Menya

Topping wise, I found the egg was too salty. It must have been soaked in soy sauce, judging by the brown colour. I wasn’t fond of the pork either – you know that taste and dryness that boiled pork has? It tasted like soup pork, which is fine if you’re drinking Chinese soup but not for ramen. The broth was thin, although I did write in my notes that it was okay for what it was. The noodles however, were gluggy and overcooked. Not a great start to the ramen hunt, unfortunately.

My scores for Menya were:

Broth: 3/5
Noodles: 2/5
Topping: 2/5
Total: 7/15

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Hanaichi

Stop 2: Hanaichi (unscheduled)
QV Square Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9662 9409

Our next stop was Meshiya in QV. As we were walking there, we passed by Hanaichi, a little shop above the QV food court (where Wagamama used to be located). Someone (I believe it was Billy!) insisted that we had to try it. There was only one ramen on the menu and it was described on the menu as ramen (egg noodle soup) – $6.90.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Hanaichi

As you can see, it came out in paper bowls – this was real food court stuff. The noodles, which you may be able to just see under the pork, were a scary, fluorescent yellow, but were not that bad. At least they weren’t overcooked. However, the pork was tasteless and below average, and the broth, well that was also not great.

My scores for Hanaichi were:

Broth: 2/5
Noodle: 3/5
Toppings: 1/5
Total: 6/15

Stop 3: Meshiya
200 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9654 6242

Our next stop was Meshiya. We sat down, after rearranging their tables to accommodate the nine of us, looked at menus and decided what to order… and then we discovered that Meshiya was OUT OF RAMEN. Whaaaaaaa? How does that happen? We decided not to order anything, apologised, put the tables back and continued on the ramen hunt.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Edoya

Proper Stop 3: Edoya (unscheduled)
138 Russell St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9654 7358)

So on we went, making another unscheduled stop, and went to Edoya. We all got a little side tracked here and everyone ordered items other than ramen. I blame the complimentary edamame and seaweed salad that we received.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Edoya

Alastair and I had some sashimi, while others ordered ox tongue, yukke, and soft shell crab! There was beer too. What a terrible lack of focus. Tsk tsk.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Edoya

In addition to everything else, we did also order two bowls of ramen to share. On the menu, it just said ramen ($14). Sadly, it was another very average bowl of ramen. I thought the noodles were okay, and found that the pork was pretty good, but the broth had a VERY strange taste that I couldn’t stomach. I marked down the broth quite heavily for this.

The other food we ate from Edoya was fine though.

My scores for Edoya were:

Broth: 1/5 (ouch – but I think someone else gave a 0/5…!)
Noodles: 2/5
Topping: 3/5
Total: 6/15

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Ito Noodle Cafe

Stop 4: Ito Japanese Noodle Cafe
122 Bourke St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9663 2788

Stop 4 was Ito Japanese Noodle Cafe, where we ordered three bowls to share between us – the chashu in shoyu, the tori kara in miso, and the tonkatsu in miso (all $9.80) We wanted to order the tonkotsu, but this wasn’t available that day. I wonder how often it’s available to order?

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Ito Noodle Cafe

At this point, Alastair decided he needed to eat lunch and scoffed down a bowl of katsu curry don – apparently the noodles weren’t doing enough to fill him up!

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Ito Noodle Cafe

The rest of us stuck with ramen. This was the chashu ramen in shoyu soup. I thought it was the best out of the three bowls.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Ito Noodle Cafe

The tori kara in miso soup – basically deep fried chicken.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Ito Noodle Cafe

And the tonkatsu in miso soup – deep fried pork cutlet.

Hallejuah! Finally some good ramen. The noodles were good, the toppings were great and overall the broth was tasty. I found the miso soups a bit too salty, but the shoyu was really good. The chashu was really tender, and all the toppings were done well, although there were comments that the bamboo shoots in the bowls had a very strong and distracting flavour.

My scores for Ito Noodle Cafe were:

Broth: 4/5
Noodle: 4/5
Toppings: 4/5
Total: 12/15

Stop 5: Ajisen Ramen
130 Bourke St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9662 1100

Our next stop was just down the road – to be honest we could’ve used a longer walk due to all the noodles already consumed – but we pushed on. Again, we ordered three bowls to share – chargrilled ramen ($12.50), spicy miso ramen ($11) and chashu ramen ($11). I haven’t noted down what soups we had, I assume the chargrilled and chashu ramen were shoyu, and the spicy miso was miso.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Ajisen Ramen

This was the chargrilled ramen – basically seared steak (which we requested to be rare) on top of the noodles. It was rather garlicky.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Ajisen Ramen

And here’s the chashu ramen.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Ajisen Ramen

And finally the spicy miso. In the small bowl to the right is the spicy meat. We were asked if we wanted to keep it separate as it was quite spicy. It did have a fair kick to it, but I’m sure we could’ve coped with it in the big bowl.

The noodles at Ajisen Ramen were really strange – they were similar to spaghetti, not like other ramen noodles at all. While they weren’t bad, they weren’t ramen noodles! Broth-wise, in all three bowls, it was SALTY SALTY SALTY. I would’ve given the broth a higher score if it hadn’t been so FREAKIN’ SALTY as it was rather flavoursome. The toppings were good too, so the broth (and strange noodles) did let Ajisen down.

My scores for Ajisen Ramen were:

Broth: 3/5
Noodle: 3/5
Toppings: 4/5
Total: 10/15

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Ramen Ya

Stop 6: Ramen Ya
Shop 25G Melbourne GPO
350 Bourke St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9654 5838

Ramen Ya was up next. At Ramen Ya, you can select your soup base – tonkotsu (FINALLY!), shoyu or miso. And then the topping – chashu, tsukune (minced chicken), and gyoza. We ordered three bowls – chashu in tonkotsu, chashu in shoyu and tsukune (minced chicken) in miso.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Ramen Ya

This was the tsukune (minced chicken) in miso soup.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Ramen Ya

I’m pretty sure this one was the chashu in tonkotsu.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Ramen Ya

Which would make this the chashu in shoyu.

A hush descended over the table as we started slurping up the noodles. Even though it was our second to last stop we polished off all the bowls, and looking around at the scores, it was obvious that it was the best ramen so far. All the broths were good, particularly the tonkotsu (naturally!), and the toppings were fantastic, although there wasn’t much of the chashu, which was a shame because it was tender and delicious. The noodles were also good – springy with a bit of bite.

My scores for Ramen Ya were:

Broth: 4.5/5
Noodle: 4/5
Toppings: 4.5/5

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting

Stop 7: Chocolate Buddha
Federation Square, Melbourne
Phone:(03) 9654 5688

Our group wandered down to Fed Square for our LAST STOP – Chocolate Buddha. We nabbed a table outside, sitting in the sun and looking over Fed Square. It was a very nice way to end the day!

We ordered two bowls – the gyu ramen ($19.80) and the tori miso ramen ($19.80). There was also a salmon ramen on the menu, but I think our bellies would have burst if we had tried all three. Expectations were high for Chocolate Buddha as the ramen cost twice the amount of other restaurants.

Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Chocolate Buddha

The gyu ramen was nice. The beef was tender and full of flavour, and the broth (a shoyu broth?) was tasty.


Melbourne CBD ramen hunting: Chocolate Buddha

However, the tori miso ramen was a mixed bag. The chicken was really good – juicy and soft. But the broth, oh the broth! It was REALLY sweet. It let the whole bowl down. Disappointing for a $20 bowl of ramen.

My scores for Chocolate Buddha were:

Broth: 3/5
Noodle: 4/5
Toppings: 4/5
Total: 11/15

We completed the ramen hunt by tallying up the scores. Here they are – 5.5 hours and 19 bowls later, we had a very conclusive result.

7th place: Hanaichi – 45/105

6th place: Edoya – 51/105

5th place: Menya – 58/105

4th place: Ajisen – 63/105

3rd place: Chocolate Buddha – 70/105

2nd place: Ito Noodle Cafe – 82/105

And the winner….. the best ramen in the Melbourne CBD was –

1st place: Ramen Ya – 89.5/105

Well I certainly can’t eat ramen again for a while, but I had a great day. I wasn’t particularly surprised that Ramen Ya came out on top, but I hadn’t expected Ito Japanese Noodle Cafe to score so well. A big thanks to my fellow ramen hunters for the company and laughs!

We discussed doing more hunts in the future – any suggestions for what we could do next?