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Gastronomical ramblings

Food adventure @ Shou Sumiyaki

On the 20th day of the 4th month, something amazing happened: I managed to pass my first year Ph.D confirmation, effectively signing over my life as a lab monkey for the next few years or so. To celebrate (or drown my sorrows if I had failed), thehouseofem, pamoola and I decided to try our luck with finding a dinner venue with some decent food, minus a booking on a Friday night. Just as we were about to throw in the towel, we stumbled across Shou Sumiyaki and were promised a table within 20 minutes. 

The bar.

Seated at the bar area and after witnessing the concoction of one too many aesthetically-pleasing cocktails during our wait, a cocktail was the way to go. The bar served as both an area to kill time whilst waiting for a table as well as a dining spot.

Here come the pretty looking cocktails: 

KCR cocktail - melon, lychee, cranberry and vodka. 

My eyes were happy to take in the gorgeous colours and the visually-pleasing presentation while my mind contemplated whether the drink would end up tasting horrible or delightful. Thankfully it was the latter: the flavours were very tropical, with virtually no alcoholic taste. The frothy green part exuded much melon flavour with a pleasant and complementary sour kick. 

Thehouseofem’s cocktail.

No more than 5 minutes after our drink order was placed, we were shown to our seats in an area towards the back of the restaurant. Not visible from the front of the restaurant, Shou Sumiyaki also features a more traditional Japanese dining area: low tables with cushioned seatings in a wooden surrounding. And lastly, shoes off before entering and sitting down. 

Table setting. 

Jumbo oysters (from Tasmania). 

Jumbo? Tick. Fresh? Another tick. Although not something I’ve tasted with oysters before, the taste was familiar. Lemony with a subtle hint of Asian soy flavour. 

Wagyu beef tataki salad - seared raw wagyu beef, mixed green leaf salad, with Japanese salad dressing.

Although I’ve never been keen on beef tataki in the past, I may have to jump on the bandwagon after this experience. Nothing like the cold and raw texture I imagined, the slices of beef tataki were delicately tender and blended in perfectly with the salad. The sesame and slight teriyaki- based flavouring was probably what sealed the deal in my conversion to beef tataki fandom. 

Crab meat spring roll wrap - handpicked Hokkaido snow crab & tiger prawn paste, with water chestnuts, lettuce wrap and spicy mayo. 

Another great tasting starter dish although no different to the usual asian spring rolls, save for the crab meat filling. The occasional run in with the “larger pieces” of crab meat that have survived the paste process exudes great bursts of crab flavour. 

Kani korokke - deep fried crab cream croquette. 

The words crispy, deep fried and creamy instantly comes to mind when I try and think of a description to write for this dish. These words are promptly followed up with an ‘oh so bad yet so good’. The exterior was a very crisp and crumbed texture, to the extent that each crumb in the batter could be detected. Contrastingly and complementary to the crispiness, the filling was creamy to the point that it seemed to melt. 

Three ladies. One barbecue. 

Chicken thigh fillet - chicken thigh fillet without skin, marinated in sauce. 

Wagyu scotch. 

Pork belly - sliced pork belly, marinated with salt. 

The cooking process. 

"Who needs men to barbecue?" We survived the cooking process, all the meats were tasty and no one ended up with food poisoning. The pork belly, wagyu and chicken all tasted very similar (that typical grilled taste) and aside from appearance, could also be distinguished due to varying textures and after tastes. The sauces provided were super tasty and the salt in particular worked really well with the pork belly. 

Thehouseofem: “Yep and there’s heart disease.” 

After writing this post and realising that we piled on salt on top of pork belly that was already marinated with salt, I’m no longer brushing off thehouseofem’s words as a joke.

For something that was so unplanned and last minute, Shou Sumiyaki provided an immensely enjoyable and memorable dining experience. Our palates were continually wowed dish after dish. Truly a perfect end to what was a trying and stressful week. Or rather, weeks.   

Shou Sumiyaki on Urbanspoon

160 Little Bourke St,

Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.

(03) 9654 3933

http://www.shousumiyaki.com.au/

I’m not the biggest fan of meat but this barbecue meal at Shou Sumiyaki was pretty delicious…

Peking duck.

Vietnamese meat balls on rice vermicelli noodles. 

Malaysian barbecue chicken @ Coconut House.

Scenes from a Cambodian New Year’s celebration

New Year’s Day for Australia and most of the world: 1st January 2012. 

Chinese/Vietnamese/Lunar Calendar New Year: 23rd to 25th January 2012. 

I’ve always known about the first two given my Chinese background but thanks to thehouseofem and K, there’s a third New Year’s celebration to add to the list and that being Cambodian/Laotian/Thai/Sri Lankan New Years: 13th to 15th April. 

Susper and I accepted thehouseofem’s invitation to join her at a Cambodian temple’s New Year celebrations and we were both looking forward to the experience. 

We waited for thehouseofem at the wrong temple. The Chinese and Vietnamese writing should have given it away. Duh! 

Upon receiving a call from thehouseofem, we walked over to the correct temple. Oh, and the music, sounds of people and aromas of food lingering in the air should have also given it away. 

Some sort of banana dessert if I remembered correctly. 

Susper bought one to try. While she enjoyed the taste very much, I think she also regretted squeezing it in amongst all the other food that she had already consumed. 

Grilled pork skewer with pickled carrot and turnip. 

Grilled beef skewers with pickled carrot and turnip. 

Various rice and noodle dishes. $5 per bowl!!!

Fried noodles with spring rolls. 

Fried noodles minus the spring rolls. 

Glutinous rice ball with coconut. 

Grilled corn. 

Grilled corn with coconut sauce. Who knew that corn and coconut went hand in hand with one another? Well I didn’t anyway, until I tasted it. DELICIOUS! 

Waffle station.

Waffle, get in our bellies now! 

Minus the stinking hot weather and the throngs of Asian teens throwing shaving cream/silly string at one another (Lunar New Year festivals), this event was actually quite enjoyable. It definitely felt more family-orientated, which was a nice change of pace. The delicious food further added to the positive experience. We were all food coma’d out by the end of the night. I look forward to returning again next year. Oh and getting some more corn lathered in coconut sauce. Mmmm…

Food adventure @ Donwoori

It appears that under thehouseofem’s and chugasm’s thumb, my dalliances with Melbourne’s “carnivorous” venues have increased significantly. This was another one of those occasions: Korean BBQ at Donwoori. 

The interior. There wasn’t much to it but the few knick knacks here and there (including the shelf) provided a very quirky feel. 

Fireeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. 

Complimentary sides/banchan. A lot of pickled veggies.

Better to eat with rice or meat but because we were hungry, we couldn’t help but pick at them. 

We ordered “combo A”, which came with top grade beef rib, topside beef (with salt and pepper), marinated flank beef and soy bean paste ($38).

They happily allowed us to switch the soy bean paste for kimchi hot pot. 

Topside beef.

Top grade beef rib, before and after.

Marinated beef flanks, before and after. 

The colour of the beef flanks and marinade was gorgeous. It’s too bad we ruined it by letting it cook too long. The beef in the after shot was just a tad burnt. Still tasty though… it looked worse than it tasted. 

Oddly enough, all the different beef cuts tasted similar. Super tender and tasty, especially when soaked in sesame and garlic sauce. Mmmmm… 

Kimchi hotpot/stew. 

It doesn’t look like much but a-ju ma-si-sseo-sseo-yo. Delicious 

The kimchi stew tasted like Tom Yum soup meets canh chua (Vietnamese sour soup) with a spicy kick. There’s no other words to describe it. 

Eaten together with rice, perfection! 

When I return to this restaurant, I’m pretty sure I will order a pot of the kimchi stew, dump a bowl of rice in and then go to town on the two. Nom! 

Kimchi pancake. 

Everything about this pancake was perfect. It was not too thick and yet loaded with much fresh seafood ingredients and kimchi. Very flavoursome and the kimchi taste was surprisingly not too overpowering. It possessed a nice fried crispness and reminded me of a soggy chip. It was definitely on the same level of tastiness as the kimchi stew and like the kimchi stew, it’s a must-order.  

Bibimbap.

By this point I was feeling quite full from everything else but from the few bites I tried, it wasn’t bad. On par with the bibimbap dishes I’ve tried from all the other Korean restaurants. 

So many bowls. Between the three of us, we did good. 

Donwoori does excellent Korean BBQ but it was the kimchi stew and kimchi pancake that stole my heart… or rather taste buds and stomach. Friendly and efficient service at a very, VERY affordable price. All that’s left to say is: get yourself to Donwoori ASAP! 

Donwoori on Urbanspoon

Donwoori

276 Victoria St,

North Melbourne, Victoria, 3051.

Phone number apparently non-existent, as with website…

Food adventure @ Tokyo Teppanyaki

To all the Himym fans reading this, there was no sneezing that took place before deciding to go to Tokyo Teppanyaki. Prior to this, I had never experienced teppanyaki dining before and after seeing glimpses on tv shows like The Office and Himym, I was quite excited by the meal ahead. 

By this point I could hardly contain my excitement…

Upon entering the venue, we were greeted with an actual bridge! It’s not something that I have encountered before in a restaurant and I was wowed by its presence. 

Views of the interior. 

The wooden walls and decor typical for an outdoor garden provided a very nice Japanese touch to the restaurant’s interior. It definitely added to the authenticity of the overall dining experience. 

Clean plate, empty seats and clean grill. 

Green tea. 

Notice the candle underneath that keeps the tea warm throughout the meal? Simple but effective. Again, I was fairly amused by the novelty. 

Some pickled bean shoots and carrots to start. The flavour was quite strong and would have easily became sickening if you ate too much of it but I guess that’s why it was given in such a small dose. 

Sushi and sashimi.

Pamoola, chugasm and thehouseofem all opted for the raw fish option. Thehouseofem mentioned that it was fresh and enjoyable. 

Spring roll and chicken skewer. 

No raw fish for me please. The spring roll was very crisp and tasty (especially with the mayonnaise) but unfortunately the same could not be said for the chicken. The chicken was cold, the taste was bland and the only distinctive flavour that could be detected was burnt charcoal. Perhaps I should have tried my luck with raw fish instead…

That’s either some translucent-looking mayonnaise or very old mayonnaise. Hopefully just the former… 

Miso soup. 

GREAT miso soup. The flavours were light and the MSG taste was virtually non-existent. 

Sake. 

Soon after our entrees of spring rolls, sushi/sashimi and shabby skewers, we met the chef who was assigned to our table. His name was Mike and this was apparently his first time. He did good! 

We were all watching in awe as the chef proceeded to devein, de-head and cut the prawns into bite sized pieces in under 10 seconds! That’s some crazy mad skills…

Crazy mad skills! So nimble and quick that the chef’s actions could not even be caught on camera! 

Lamb cutlets - The lamb was very tender and the grilled flavour combined with the herb butter was sure tasty. However it wasn’t enough to mask the potent lamb after taste and unfortunately I couldn’t eat any more. 

Scallops - HUGE! I don’t think I’ve seen them so big before… 

Prawns with garlic herb butter and natural prawn crackers. 

The prawns were very fresh and even minus the shells, possessed a very crisp exterior. The garlic taste in the butter was subtle but effective. They provided a lemon soy sauce to pair with the seafood options. The prawns on their own tasted great but with the lemon soy sauce, sublime. It was odd to be eating prawn heads but the deep fried prawn heads were indeed very similar to prawn crackers. 

Kobe beef steaks with garlic herb butter. 

With the garlic herb butter and seared+crisp outside, the beef tasted virtually similar to the lamb cutlets but minus that lamb aftertaste. The pieces were also surprisingly tender and much easier to chew than the typical steak (although I do eat mine medium/well done) The only downside was that there wasn’t enough! I would have happily eaten more. 

Chicken and a whole heap of bean shoots+veggies. 

Not how I usually fry my eggs. Some mad skills were then used to cut up the egg into tiny pieces. Two thirds were reserved for the fried rice while the other third was used for throwing at people. I was sitting right at the edge of the table so that unfortunately meant playing the role of the guinea pig. It turns out I’m not good at catching the egg with my mouth after all. The first piece hit my face, the second narrowly missed my hair and the third finally made it into my mouth… SCORCHING HOT. I don’t deal well with heat! 

The makings of fried rice. 

The final product. 

Here I played the guinea pig yet again. We had bowls thrown at us and our aim was to catch the bowls with the previous caught bowls (like in the photo) The final bowl was one that was filled with rice so if you were going to drop/miss a bowl, you wouldn’t want it to be the last one… I failed at this also and the bowl of rice landed squarely in my lap. Thankfully I had the napkin over my lap. Almost everyone else on the table was able to catch that last bowl, which made me feel even more hopeless. 

I thought I’d tie up this post with a quote from Chugasm:

"Teppanyaki? More like Teppanyummy!"

Aside from a few items, I couldn’t agree more and I’m already looking forward to the next teppanyaki experience. In addition to the great tasting foods, there is also the added bonus of experiencing the theatrics and “audience participation” that don’t come with other dining styles. 

Tokyo Teppanyaki on Urbanspoon

Tokyo Teppanyaki

536 Chapel St,

South Yarra, Victoria, 3141

(03) 9826 2375

http://www.tokyoteppanyaki.com.au/

Korean BBQ @ Donwoori. Check out the vibrant colours!

Sneak peak: barbecue platter @ Bamboo Basket. Barbecue galore; roast duck, char siu pork AND roast pork belly!