What’s your thoughts on the best brunch dish?
How about baked eggs? Baked eggs should definitely be up there, in my opinion.
We eat at Reading Room Cafe so much it’s a wonder we go anywhere else for brunch.
Melbourne has a ton of cooler than cool cafes, and when I asked the Boys for help with an analogy, they said:
“If Melbourne’s hip cafes are the popular kids, Reading Room Cafe is like that nerdy kid that everyone beats up for his/her lunch money. But then s/he grows up and becomes successful and cool, while the ex-popular kids are working at Hungry Jacks.”
I’m not sure they know what an analogy actually is.
However, Reading Room Cafe is solid (and they are definitely *not* the kid that gets beat up). It’s one of my favourites because it ticks all my boxes:
- The food is good and it’s interesting.
- The menu changes seasonally, with weekly specials.
- The coffee is good.
- It’s close to home.
- We can always get a table without having to wait.
We’re spoilt for choice for cafes in Melbourne. Totally spoilt. So much so that making a choice can be slightly overwhelming at times.
(And yes, I know – total first world problem.)
So when faced with making an option, I often defer back to our tried and true places to avoid having to think about it.
The other weekend when Alastair and I went out for brunch, I decided it was time for something other than our usual haunts. I remembered that we hadn’t visited Footscray Milking Station yet, so off we went.
Formerly a milk bar, Footscray Milking Station is located on the corner of a quiet residential street away from any other cafes. The interior contains hints of its former use, along with exposed brick walls, heavy wooden tables, milk bottles reused as water vessels, a cabinet of baked goods, and the occasional spot of bright green. It’s not particularly large inside, though there are tables on the front footpath plus a courtyard at the back. On our visit we managed to snag one of the last inside tables.
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.
PS: Today is my 4th blog birthday!!!1!!1 (Inappropriate use of exclamation marks justified in this situation.) Unlike last year I don’t have cake or candles, but happy blog birthday to me anyway!
The day after our excessive cider consumption at Campari House, Bro, Maria and I wisely booked a day off. We took the opportunity of a free day off work (wheee!) and met for lunch at Station Hotel since we enjoyed our previous visit so much.
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.
We went to the Footscray Lunar New Year Festival recently – Chinese New Year is tomorrow, but the Festival was held a couple of weeks ago. It was a hot and windy day, so we showed up at Footscray early in an effort to beat the heat.
We did a quick lap of all the stalls, and then decided we would have yum cha and then return to the Festival. We headed to our usual yum cha haunt – Dai Duong.
We pretty much ate all our usual stuff. The first two things we had were pork buns and radish cake. Alastair ate both the pork buns, so I don’t know what they were like, but the radish cake was good.
Bro said yes to a basket of tripe. The tripe was really good – lovely flavour and not too chewy. I know most people don’t like tripe, but it’s really so good! We also had some pan fried pork dumplings. I love these with red vinegar.
Next up was a basket of steamed dumplings – I think these had prawn and garlic chives. They were fantastic. The wrappers were smooth and thin, and they had big pieces of prawn in the filling. We also had beef cheong fun, which were fine.
Yum cha isn’t over until Bro has eaten a basket of chicken feet (normally a whole basket by himself) whereas I don’t leave until I’ve eaten an egg tart. There were only two egg tarts per plate, so we had to get two plates so everyone received one. I got to eat the extra one. Wahoo! Alastair finished off with a bowl of dessert tofu.
Read about a previous visit to Dai Duong here.
After filling up on yum cha, we went on a walk through the festival and took some photos. Unfortunately we were too full to eat anything! Waah! There was lots of grilled stuff going on.
More grilled stuff.
I was full, but still bought a drink – this was a basil seed drink with what I think was grass jelly. It was kind of strange. The seeds sort of looked like tadpoles!
There were lots of dodgy looking rides and games.
Some kids looked like they were having fun on the rides, but I don’t know if I’d trust my life on them!
The MFB had a tent, and they were giving out paper models of fire engines – complete with road cones and little paper firemen! Squee!!
We arrived just in time to see the firecrackers being lit, but unfortunately there was a crowd and I couldn’t manage to get a photo. Afterwards there was a lion dance. A stall was also selling funky balloons.
Some more drinks on offer.
And more grilled stuff – corn, betel leaves and meat on skewers.
There was also dried squid hanging up for sale.
This was a big pile of betel leaves stuffed with beef.
And egg cakes (I think! Someone correct me if I’m wrong!)
I have no idea what this was, but it was GREEN. And HIGH. How could I not take a photo??
Happy Chinese/Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day! We aren’t doing anything for CNY (I haven’t even cleaned the house – gasp!) but we are going out tomorrow for a late lunch/early dinner. More later. I hope everyone has an auspicious and love filled day!
On the Sunday of my Bro’s birthday weekend, we went to yum cha. He woke up feeling a bit nauseous (hung over), but when I suggested that we reschedule yum cha, he bravely said that he would eat through the pain.
What a trooper!
When it comes to yum cha, we used to go to Golf Leaf in Sunshine. One day, on a whim, we tried Dai Duong because it was closer to home. Not only is it closer, but the restaurant is huge, so there’s no problem getting a table. Food comes out incredibly quickly, particularly if you get there early, and within five minutes of sitting down, our table is normally full of dim sum.
These photos aren’t actually from our last visit, but we usually eat the same things whenever we have yum cha anyway.
Chicken feet/fung jiao is my Bro’s favourite. We always get two, one basket for him, and one for everyone else.
The prawn dumplings/har gow are pretty good.
Pork dumplings/sui mai – steamed dumplings with a pork filling in a wonton skin. Actually, I don’t know why I always get these. I don’t like them that much, and I could use the stomach space for other things!
Probably my favourite (apart from the egg tarts) – lou mai gai/chicken and sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf.
Deep fried goodness! These taro dumplings / wu gok have a wrapper made from mashed taro, and a savoury filling (pork and other assorted ingredients) inside. I really enjoy the crispy, flakey outside.
Another one of my Bro’s favourites – deep fried crescent dumplins / ham sui gok. These have a similar filling to the taro dumplings, but the wrapper is made with glutinous rice.
Shrimp rice noodle rolls/cheong fun. I’m surprised to see that we got the shrimp ones for a change. I think they didn’t have the beef (which I prefer).
Dessert tofu / dou fu fa – the tofu is pretty silky, but I thought that the sugar syrup could use a little more sweetness and ginger.
And finally, yum cha isn’t over until I’ve had an egg tart. It doesn’t matter how full I am, I can always fit at least one in!
The prices are fairly standard and range from $4.20 – $6.20 for a standard to a deluxe dish.
Dai Duong Restaurant
Shop 5/ 64 Hopkins St
Phone: (03) 9689 9899
The Nobbies – Phillip Island
As mentioned in an earlier post, my mum and dad were over for a visit recently. Mum did manage to find the three surfaces that I had neglected to clean, but since she cleaned up as she complained, that was a-okay! Along with cleaning my poor neglected house, mum and dad also did our laundry… and the vacuuming… and took us out for meals… so I was sad when they left!
The Nobbies – Phillip Island
They entertained themselves most of the time, but we did a couple of touristy things with them. One of those things was driving down to Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade. We got there quite early, and sat on the cold, hard, wet steps for an hour in the intermittent drizzle. Fortunately it didn’t rain too heavily, and because the sky was quite overcast the penguins came clambering out of the water on schedule. They were gorgeous little things, and it was very amusing watching them waddling up the beach.
And, of course, we ate. One evening we all headed down to Chinatown and ended up having a very uninspiring Chinese meal. The food was boring and cliché (think sweet and sour pork, and lemon chicken), prices were expensive for what was received, and service was disjointed and forgetful. Fortunately, mum and dad picked the restaurant, so we didn’t have to bear the complaints about how terrible it was. We only ate there because mum was fixated on eating lobster. After entering the restaurant, we realised that the lobster in the tank was too small, and decided not to have it after all! Goodness!
A different evening found us stopping in Footscray for dinner. Pat and I choose the Hong Kong BBQ & Seafood Chinese Restaurant merely because we have driven past many times and admired the roast ducks hanging in the window.
The bustling, brightly lit room painted with large murals won’t win any interior design awards, and there was a touch of griminess about the place. But there was a Chinese version of the menu, and the wait staff spoke Chinese, so Pat and I hoped that we had made a good choice. The fact that the restaurant was completely full was also a good sign.
Mum noticed a large lobster in the tank as we walked in. She hadn’t satisfied her lobster fixation yet, so we had to have it. The 3 pound lobster was cooked in XO sauce and noodles were $3 extra ($101.40 all up). My mum’s a smartie – before we ordered we had agreed that Alastair and I would pay for the meal!
We also had to try the roast pork ($19) and roast duck ($11.80). I didn’t eat any of the duck, but the roast pork was good! The skin was very crispy and the meat was flavoursome and porky.
Another dish was the deep fried flounder with spicy salt and chilli ($13.80). Oh boy, this was good. The entire fish was battered, deep fried and then covered in chilli laden salt and coriander.
We had a plate of stir fried water spinach (around $12 I think). Pretty simple, but tasty.
And our last dish was a plate of pickled duck’s feet and jellyfish ($14.80). The duck’s feet (at the bottom of the plate in the photo above) were deboned and pickled and I must admit that they were kind of strange. The feet were firm and chewy, and pretty tasteless. I found the webbing between the toes odd too – perhaps because most of my bird feet eating experience is with chicken’s feet, which obviously doesn’t have webbing. Still, the jellyfish and the pickled vegetables were good!
Even with the lobster, the total cost of the meal was still less than the dull one we had in Chinatown. There was a touch too much msg for my liking though, as I had the worst msg thirst that evening – it was like all the moisture had been sucked out of my mouth. Gak.
Hong Kong BBQ & Seafood Chinese Restaurant
118 Hopkins Street
(03) 9687 8488
Whenever we have visitors, we mostly let them sort out their own sightseeing. I love this city, but I find it hard to think of interesting “touristy” things to do. Unlike other cities that have several must-see sights, Melbourne has charms that grow on you over time.
While we’re not good with the sightseeing agenda, we do have a food agenda. This is a list of must-eat items that our visitors need to experience. On the list are things like: dumplings at Camy, a hot chocolate at Koko Black, perhaps a claypot at EC pot (I need to go back and write a post on this place!), a parma, and a big bowl of pho.
On a recent visit to Footscray, we decided to try a different pho restaurant. We walked past one that was packed with customers, always a good sign, so we took our chances and went in. The restaurant was decked out in the usual style – brightly lit with mirrored walls, menu written on the wall, and inexpensive tables and chairs. There’s also two large plasma TVs mounted on the walls, providing something else to focus on apart from your reflection (which was a tad distracting).
The bowls of pho come in three different sizes – small for $6.50, medium for $7.50 and large for $8.50. The rice noodles and meat come swimming in a beef soup that has so much flavour, this is now our pho restaurant of choice. The one pictured here is a large – the Boys were hungry that night!
Apart from the 20 different styles of noodle soup, there’s also the usual spring rolls and pork chops on rice and vermicelli. I believe this bowl of vermicelli was $8 (the price isn’t written on the walls). It was a huge bowl of noodle, and while the sauce wasn’t as tasty as in other places, it wasn’t bad. I had actually ordered it because I had a hankering for some crunchy spring rolls – and didn’t spot the springs rolls on the menu until after I ordered. I was a tad envious of the Boys with their bowls of pho.
The one disappointment is the tea tastes a bit strange. It may be due what they use to clean the thermoses. Both times we visited, the tea had an overwhelming taste and smell of detergent. But with three colour drinks cheaply priced at $2, and a big bowl of soup to drink after you’ve finished scavenging every last meat and noodle scrap from the bowl, who needs tea?
Update: they seem to have fixed the strange tasting tea! It has been fine in subsequent visits.
Hien Vuong Pasteur
144 Hopkins Street
Melbourne , VIC 3011
Phone: 03 9687 9698