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Gastronomical ramblings

Food adventure @ Otsumami

Otsumami has been on my to-visit list since 2012, but given its location in Northcote and how little I frequent that side of Melbourne, it’s taken me quite a while to get around to visiting. The opportunity came up recently whilst deciding on a meet up venue with Dr M, who happens to be working practically around the corner. Huzzah!


Salmon Harumaki - salmon, cheese and nori spring rolls, served with wasabi mayo. 

The spring roll wrapper sported much crunch, but it was quite tough and chewy in texture and lacked that delicate crispiness you look for in wrappers.  The salmon itself was overcooked and the distribution of cheese was uneven. The bites with all elements, however, really highlighted how well the flavour combo worked. That hint of wasabi and sweet teriyaki sauce were particularly enjoyable. 


Kani-age - soft shell crab marinated in soy, mirin, ginger & garlic, deep fried and served with chili mayo dipping sauce. 

No complaints from either of us with the soft shell crab. The batter was crispy and delicate (unlike those spring rolls!) and also well seasoned without being overly salty. The flavouring from the creamy sweet chilli mayo accompaniment really rounded out the dish.  


Sweet potato gyoza (left) and tori niku gyoza (right). 

The combination of sweet potato in a gyoza was intriguing, so we decided to give our taste buds the chance to explore something different. Fortunately, it wasn’t all sweet thanks to the addition of chive, giving it a savoury sort of taste. The blend of sweet potato was silky smooth and just melted in the mouth. The wrappers for the chicken gyozas were quite wonton-like. The tender chicken filling was aromatically sweet, and further sweetened by its pairing with a tangy soy and chilli vinegarette sauce. 


Hotate - scallops pan seared in soy, butter and balsamic, with bonito flakes. 


The scallops were gorgeously cooked, translucent in its colouring. Its flavour profile was defined by the fishy bonito flakes, subtle wasabi presence and creamy potato mash. It was quite different to what I have encountered with other scallop dishes but oh so delicious. 


I had been looking forward to Otsumami for quite some time, and the real deal did not disappoint. With only one negative in one of the dishes and big positives encountered with the rest, I would happily drive out of my way for a return visit at some point! 

Otsumami on Urbanspoon


257 High St,

Northcote, Victoria, 3070. 

(03) 9489 6132

Launch Party @ Hophaus Bier Bar Grill


Hophaus Bier Bar Grill has landed at Southgate, adding to Melbourne’s few German and Bavarian eateries. The recent Southgate addition presents itself as a contemporary Bavarian Beer Hall, filled with an expansive selection of beers, including brews from Germany, Austria, Belgium, and a menu that features modern tweaks on classic European bites. I was recently invited to attend their launch party, and I would like to thank Hophaus and Fuller PR for this opportunity to attend


Guests were greeted with several drinks upon entering the establishment. 


And in keeping with the German theme… Jagermeister! 


House cider and crumbed cheese sticks with capers, shallots & lemon. 

The sticks possessed a light, crunchy crumbing while the cheesy centre was soft and oozy (when consumed warm). The capers and shallots added plenty of oomph to the overall flavour profile. 

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Launch Party @ Lady Grange

There is a new lady in town and she goes by the name of Lady Grange. She is one of St Kilda’s latest Modern Australian brunch, lunch and dinner destinations. I was invited to see the lady in action at her launch party, and I would like to thank Lady Grange and Tyrrell Publicity & Promotions for this opportunity. 


Interior of downstairs area. 


Interior of upstairs area. 

Lady Grange sports a fabulously stylish and modern interior, while the outside views don’t go unnoticed. There is much to take in and admire from the upstairs balcony given that the venue stands before the beach and bay. 

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Food adventure @ Naked in the Sky

With Naked in the Sky on our to visit list since last year, themacarondiaries and I finally found some time to cross it off our list recently. 


On a warm summery evening, the outside area, which offers gorgeous views of our lovely city, is the way to go. Unfortunately, this area only offers options from their bar menu and so we had to sacrifice our enjoyment of the great weather for their full menu inside. 


Gorgeous views indeed! 

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Amazing #tapas in #Barcelona

Food adventure @ Little Creatures Dining Hall

If you have ever parked on Grattan Street at 6pm on a Friday evening, you will know of the horrors that traffic brings. Our stomaches grumbling in earnest and faced with a stream of traffic heading in BOTH directions on Grattan St, J and myself decided to fight our way through a shorter distance of traffic and try Little Creatures Dining Hall in Fitzroy. 

Now this is what you call a converted warehouse space! The name should have given it away but I was still gobsmacked by the sheer size of the place, setting in as soon as I stepped foot through the doors. The vast and expansive interior sported a mishmash of table settings: booths, tables that sit you high up from the ground, normal tables and a bar area. On a Friday night, the music was pumped up and rivalled the sounds of chatter from the crowd. Little Creatures Dining Hall is as much a bar/chill spot as it is a restaurant. And a kid-friendly restaurant to boot, with a children’s play area. 

Views of the open kitchen. 

Service was very punctual and efficient; a remarkable trait considering the number of tables and diners! The food started to come out within 10 minutes after ordering. 

Fresh cut chips, garlic aioli. 

The chips, a fatter version of fries, were perfectly salted on top but became progressively saltier as we munched our way towards the bottom. The creamy garlic aioli was bursting with garlic flavour and made one perfect companion for the chips. 

Hummus, dukkah, flat bread. 

Burnt bread: not a good look and not a great taste. Some parts of the freshly-toasted flat bread were edible and served as a great stomach filler. The dukkah provided an oaky taste to the hummus. 

Cheese & bacon croquettes. 

The crumbed layer was crisp and the cheese+bacon flavour emanated throughout the soft, mashed potato interior. The taste was a familiar one that got the wheels in my head turning until it finally dawned on my taste buds: QUICHE LORRAINE! This was very much a pastry-less version quiche lorraine disguised as a croquette.  

Grilled chorizo. 

The chorizos were quite ordinary and probably something I would not order again. I personally felt it was too much chorizo for one sitting, especially when being eaten on its own. Fortunately, we were able to pair the chorizo pieces with the pizza we ordered… 

Spiced meatball pizza - with tomato, oregano & mozzarella. (and let’s not forget the chorizo!)

The spiced meat ball pizza exuded yet another familiar flavour… The texture and flavour of the oozing, stringy melted mozzarella cheese hit quite close to béchamel sauce and combined with the oregano and mince, the dish was just a few lasagne sheets short of being a lasagne on top of a pizza base.

It’s taken a while but I can now report that I have finally taken J to a restaurant that he was happy with. ‘Real’ food in a lively and buzzing setting at a decent cost. And hey, in the time that it took for us to get to Fitzroy+park+order+eat+leave, we probably would have been still stuck in traffic if we had opted to go home instead. Win! 

Little Creatures Dining Hall on Urbanspoon

Little Creatures Dining Hall

222 Brunswick St,

Fitzroy, Victoria, 3065.

(03) 9417 5500

Crispy oyster parcels, served with wasabi mayo and fish roe @ Little Red Pocket. 

Food adventure @ Izakaya Den

Visit number one to Izakaya Den actually took place just over a year ago, before I decided to convert my blog of complaints and ramblings into something more. On the second occasion, some photos were taken of the dishes we had indulged in but at this point, still fresh to the world of food blogging, I had overlooked one very important aspect: taking notes of the flavours and taste. They say the third time’s a charm and that is why I sit here now writing this post. 

Given that I’ve now visited the Den quite a few times, I was definitely no stranger to the culinary delights tucked behind the black veil.

The interior sets the scene for a perfect after work chill and hang scenario. The music enhanced this vibe: jazzy music with low soothing tones. The sort of music that makes you want to shut your eyes, tap and click your fingers along to. The bar extends all the way down the elongated venue, accompanied by tables on one side (more suited for larger groups). Seated at the bar, and myself were privy to much of the cooking action that takes place in Izakaya Den. 

Once seated, we were immediately presented with some warm towels to refresh… our hands. 

I thought I’d include a shot of the little strip of paper that jazzed up the menu. 

We ordered a Peach Oolong Tea and Sakuranbo vert (Japanese cherry with subtle green tea flavour). Both teas were very aromatic with tastes that were much more subtle than they smelt. I personally prefer this, otherwise it’d be too much like drinking… perfume (not that I’ve consumed any sort of perfume before). 

Loving the fishbowl look of the tea cups. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing to look at but they also have practical use in adding another layer of glass and space between your fingers and the hot tea. 

Sweet corn ‘kaki-age’.

I kid you not, this is a must order dish. It’s the one dish that has been ordered one every single occasion that I have eaten here. Deep fried corn kernels in the thinnest and crispiest layer of batter that holds the kernels together. Once you bite into the actual kernels, you get bursts of juicy, sweet corn flavour. The green tea salt itself is very fine and just like the icing on top of a cake, the salty flavour is a MUST eat that suits the battered corn perfectly. 

Note. The salt looked like green tea, and even possessed the faintest trace of green tea flavour when “eaten” on its own, but with the corn it just tasted like super duper fine salt. 

Den fried chicken. 

No different to the fried chicken you can order at most of the other Japanese restaurants. The perk with this dish is that it will feel you up quickly if you’re feeling very hungry.

*Note: exercise caution with the mayo. Little amounts are good for helping to cut the dryness of the chicken, but too much will be sickening. 

Hervey Bay Scallops with garlic butter soy. 

Garlic butter soy. Need I say more? I don’t, but I’m going to anyway :) 

The scallops were definitely very fresh and tasted like soft pillowy clouds of scallop. The flavour was an intense umami meets garlicky butter. 

Pot steamed rice, mushroom and poached egg. 

I love my rice, I love my mushrooms and I love my eggs, so when you put all three in front of me in ONE dish… SOLD. Cooked in what reminded me of a clay pot, the bottom layer of rice possessed a very nice crispy texture. With the poached egg mixed through, the dish hit close to what I would call a glorified form of fried rice. Delicious. 

Hmmm, after writing all of that, I’m feeling an intense hankering for some of that corn (and scallop… and rice…) Perhaps visit number four will take place sooner than anticipated…

Izakaya Den on Urbanspoon

Izakaya Den

114 Russel St,

Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.

(03) 9654 2977

Food adventure @ MoVida Aqui

The past Friday marked a special occasion: Ack-la and I went to what was my first footy match. We decided to forgo the typical Four’N Twenty meat pies with chips (I’m told that’s what is usually eaten at the footy) and had dinner at MoVida Aqui instead. 

A few months earlier, we had tried our luck on a Friday night without a booking and failed (we made a booking this time around!). On our way to and from the venue, we had spied a large crowd of 9am-5pm workers sitting outside and enjoying afterwork drinks. Two months on, there’s not a peep in sight no doubt thanks to the lousy weather. 

The interior looked no different, save for the wet umbrellas in the stand by the door. Same bustling and lively atmosphere with most of the noise coming from the chatter and laughter of restaurant patrons mixed with sizzling and clattering from the open kitchen area. 

Complimentary sourdough bread. 

Olive oil, with salt flakes. 

The crust was coated with a generous layer of flour that left a powdery feel on the fingers. The bread tasted fresh and bouncy, and the sour dough taste was not as potent as previously encountered at MoVida Bar de Tapas. 

The staff who took care of us on the night knew we were under a schedule and were more than accommodating. The food started to come out within 10 minutes of our order being placed and before we knew it, we had a table covered in dishes. 

Ostras - oysters from Coffin Bay, South Australia.

These were some very, VERY fresh oysters. How do we know? Because one of these oysters had a little buddy attached to the side of the shell. A sea creature of some sort. This crawly was promptly removed and the oysters were had. 

Tortilla - Jerusalem artichoke and organic egg tortilla. 

An old favourite that had been ordered previously at MoVida Next Door. 

Bomba - Catalan potato bomb filled with chorizo. 

Another old favourite (the ultimate favourite) that had been ordered previously at MoVida Next Door. It may have been because I had hyped it up in my mind but I remembered these tasting much more “explosive” during the previous encounter. This time around, the filling was very dense and a little overwhelming for the palate. 

Bocadillo de calamares - calamari sandwich with Basque guindilla and mayonnaise. 

Move over bomba, there’s a new favourite in town! To sum up this one dish succinctly: FRESH gourmet calamari mini burger. The bread was very similar to the complimentary sourdough, with a crust that provided more crunch. The amount of calamari in each burger was very generous. The batter was fine, crispy and slightly salted. The calamari itself was tender and a little chewy. The pickle element comes in the form of a pickled snake bean. The mayonnaise was quite creamy and helped cut the strong pickled flavour from the snake bean. 

Buey - Roast biff wagyu, with ‘tocino de cielo’ potato crisps black and pickled garlic. 

"Grab a piece of everything and wrap it all up." 

I figured it’d be easiest to pop the whole thing in my mouth, which resulted in a lot of confusion for the palate. Much like a movie with a large ensemble cast and with the multitude of ingredients and flavours, it either works or it doesn’t. Ack-la loved it. I however found the sweet flavours and occasional pickled onion-like bursts to be an odd choice of companion for the otherwise tasty and tender wagyu beef. To each their own, as Ack-la enjoyed the sweet and savoury combination. 

Butifarra - house-made Catalan pork and pepper sausage, with chikpeas and morcilla. 

I wasn’t thrilled by the appearance of so much meat when the dish was first placed in front of me but it turned out to be quite tasty. Provided that it was eaten in moderation (a third person would have been perfect). There are gourmet sausages and then there’s this. The sausage filling was very tender and juicy, seeping out as we cut into it. The taste was slightly sour, quite salty with a strong pepper presence. The green pesto-like sauce added a coriander and minty element to the sausages. The chickpeas possessed a strong grilled, aromatic, barbecue flavour (as though they had been cooked in the same pan as the sausages).

Helados - housemade ice creams, served with fig bread.

Pear sorbet, Honey saffron and fennel pollen. 

The ice-cream is the quickest to fit in if you’re pressed for time and their selection of unique ice-creams is something you can’t say ‘no’ to. The pear sorbet was just as lovely as I had remembered if from MoVida Bar de Tapas, complete with that pear flesh texture that lingered after the sorbet melted away. The ice-creams were very creamy. Despite my dislike of honey, I warmed to the honey flavour in the presence of a subtle spice from the saffron. The fennel pollen ice-cream was indescribable. The fig bread was very chewy, somewhat bitter, reminded me of Christmas sweets and almost tasted liquorice-like. 

Dining at MoVida Aqui was like a walk down memory lane and new food adventure, both rolled into one. It brought together old favourites from MoVida Next Door and MoVida Bar de Tapas, along with a few extra dishes up their sleeves. Overall, an excellent pre-footy meal, although the aromas of meat pies all around me as I sat and watched the footy have persuaded me to go for the pie next time around. 

MoVida Aqui  on Urbanspoon

MoVida Aqui

500 Bourke St,

Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.

(03) 9663 3038

Food adventure @ MoVida Bar de Tapas

This particular food adventure was two months in the making, with Dr. V making a booking for three people almost two months ago (or perhaps longer?) And despite making a booking oh so long ago, we could only be squeezed in at 8.30pm on a Friday night. Moral of the story: seats are in high demand, especially on busier nights and bookings are highly recommended to avoid disappointment. 

So close that you could almost taste it. Seriously. The aromas wafting into the alley from MoVida are enough to make your mouth water and stomach rumble.  

We arrived 15 minutes earlier and aside from “enjoying” the aromas, there’s also plenty of graffiti art work to appreciate. The vibrant colours are no duller at night! 

After 10 minutes of dancing around from foot to foot in attempts to stay warm, we decided to make our way inside. Fortunately our table was ready for us and it makes me wonder if we could have perhaps entered 10 minutes earlier. The warmth was instantaneous, as soon as we stepped through the threshold. It continued to grow as we moved further away from the table and settled at a nice toasty level of warmth. 

There wasn’t much lighting in the interior and the dull yellow hues from the overhead lighting, combined with the amber glow of the candle light, further enhanced the dimmed atmosphere. Both offered just enough lighting to make out what we were eating but it wasn’t the best environment to take photos in without blinding the other patrons with camera flashes. There was a lot of playing around with the candles and lighting from our phones to avoid the use of the flash. 

This probably gives me the perfect segue to apologise for the poor photos to come…

Our table setting for three. 

The waitress who served us throughout the night was very friendly and always made sure that our water glasses were never empty for too long. She explained that the best way to approach the menu was to select 3 tapas items each and 3 raciones (share dishes).

One person decided to order a lemon lime bitter and the other two follow suit. (I was a follower…)

Complimentary bread: multigrain at the back and sourdough at the front. 

The waitress mentioned that the bread comes from MoVida Bakery, a fairly recent addition to the MoVida empire. The soft and fresh-tasting multigrain tasted very much like sourdough bread with the addition of linseed and nuts. The olive oil made helped to balance out the sourdough flavour to some extent. Dr. V noted that the quality of the olive oil was very fine. The actual sourdough bread was much crisp and firm, and more difficult to break into. It tasted much more sour than the multigrain and I don’t think I have ever appreciated olive oil more than I did in this instance.

Croquetas de choco en su tinta - squid ink croqueta with cuttlefish. 

This is not your typical croquette. Gone is the long, oval shape and is instead replaced by a perfectly round crumbled ball, topped with thin strip of cuttlefish. I’m normally put off by the chewy texture of cuttlefish but the texture here was very similar to a thinner version of a rice noodle: soft and almost… silky? Not a trace of chewiness. The crumbled layer was perfect, not too dry or too oily, and yielded a soft crunch as your fork or teeth broke through the layer. The top layer gave way to a soft and mashed combination of potato and squid ink. The croquette filling, similar to the cuttlefish wrap did not possess an overpowering seafood essence, if any at all. I’m not the biggest fan of seafood and so the croquettes turned out to be a pleasant and delicious surprise. And finally if we had thought the dish could not get any better, there was the dollop of creamy mayo. 100% complimentary to the crisp and crunchy layer. 

Cordero al chilindron - Pyrenees wet roast lamb breast, with fino and paprika sauce. 

I was not a fan due to my aversion of lamb but Dr. V and K both pegged the dish as one of their MoVida favourites. Dr. V is not usually a fan of red meats and the fact that she enjoyed it highlights how tasty the lamb must have been. 

Bunuelos de bacalao con pil-pil - salt cod & potato fritters, with lemon emulsion. 

I was drawn to this dish as soon as I read the word “emulsion”. Additionally, I thought the combination of ingredients were intriguing and if it was interesting that I was looking for, then the dish did not disappoint. Both the lemon and cod flavours were equally potent. A strong party of sour, salty and fishy. The crumbled layer was no different to the croqueta, but tasted bland in comparison to the other flavours. Given how strong the fish and lemon tasted, a bit of bland thrown into the mix was just what the chef ordered and helped to break up the stronger flavours. I would probably bet that you’d enjoy the dish if you normally like … anchovies. 

Pollo escabache al miguel - spiced chicken escabache tapa on crisp crouton. 

This was a dish that continued to grow on me with every bite until the last. Doused with splashes of vinegar, the chicken possessed a strong sweet and sour taste. Unexpected, the first bite packed a surprising punch but the vinegar taste gradually became more pleasant as the shock wore off. Adding to the potency of the flavours was what appeared to be a subtle dose of spiciness that lingered after every bite. With remnants of spice remaining from previous bites, the spice factor continued to heighten and perhaps helped to balance out the vinegar taste. The chicken was very tender and was bathed in a creamy sauce that complimented the vinegar. And if everything that made up the chicken was the ying, then the crouton layers sandwiching the chicken was definitely the yang. Firm with a crispy crunch like a thick cut of potato crisp and lightly salted, the crouton layers was the last piece of the puzzle that tied together the different flavours and textures of the dish. 

Gamba - prawn and Romesco pincho. 

Literally bite sized. Kudos are in order to Dr. V and her success in breaking up this tiny morsel into three tinier pieces. 

The texture was not expected. Dr. V and K both tried it first and mentioned that the texture was very similar to Asian agar jelly. When I finally tried it, savoury jelly was all I could envision as I tried to make my mind up about the texture. Given the small size, and made even smaller when shared between three, it was difficult to make out the different flavours in one teensy bite. I could only pin point nutty and sweet. Interestingly, it didn’t taste like prawn and this thought was likely in part due to the different texture. 

After the tapas were consumed, we faced an intermission period of almost 30 minutes before our shared dishes arrived. This allowed for the food to digest and conversation to flow. 

Raciones for three. (Photo courtesy of Dr. V)

We managed to get away with only using the flash once. There was no other way of showing the delightful green colouring of the wet rice (dish on the right). 

Setas asadas con jerez - oven-roasted Portobello mushrooms, finished with Sherry vinegar. 

Arguably the best mushrooms I’ve eaten yet. They were very tender, succulent and juicy. Geez that sounds like I’m describing a cut of meat! The sherry vinegar taste was very overpowering, especially when your taste buds first make contact. However almost immediately, it fades or blends into the flavours of the mushroom. Tasty. The mushrooms at the bottom were doused in the vinegar and by the time we reached these, vinegar taste > mushroom taste. Much smearing against the plate had to be performed. 

Cecina - air-dried Wagyu, with poached organic egg and truffle foam. 

Prior to leaving the lab, Dr BH had mentioned that this Wagyu dish was a must-order. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say this about a dish but it was truly AH-MAZING. It couldn’t have been the best dish to have in terms of exercising and what not but for the taste buds, it was a delicious delight. It doesn’t get much tastier than this. We were told by the waitress to pierce the egg, mix it thoroughly into the foam and then fold the Wagyu pieces into the mix. I have only every encountered truffle with potatoes before but it looks like the potato has some competition… egg + truffle = match made in heaven. The foam was surprisingly thick and its texture was similar to that of a super duper finely mashed potato. The breaking up and blending in of the poached egg into the foam helped further add ‘substance’ to the foam. The wagyu slices were quite thin and surprisingly tender. Going by the ripples of fat cutting through meat, I expected an explosion of oil as I took my first bite. To my surprise, it wasn’t oily at all. On another note, here’s hoping I was able to burn this off during my run on Sunday… 

One of the specials - wet rice with mussels, calamari and Marron, in a nettle sauce.

As this was a special and not written anywhere else on the wall/menu, we ended up getting the waitress to repeat the description twice (wow, they seem to have the memory capacity of an elephant!). We heard the words paella, risotto and wet rice to describe the dish. It wasn’t quite one or the other and the three terms used together probably gives the best description for the dish. With only a fork and a knife, it was quite a struggle to eat this dish. Using the spoon supplied, getting the rice onto our plates was the easy part. From there… struggle town. Okay, to say we struggled would be a bit of a stretch but it did take much longer to scrape together a forkful. Expect more frequent and tinier-sized bites. As with all other dishes I have tried to date that feature nettle, this one exhibited a vibrant green colour and was very salty. I set aside my qualms with seafood items such as mussels and calamari for this dish because they were necessary to help break up the saltiness. Very fresh tasting. Towards the end, the remainder of rice had soaked up too much of the salty flavour and the absence of seafood meant that we could not finish off the dish. It mattered not anyway because we were trying to make enough room in our stomachs for dessert. 

20 minutes later, we decided we had enough room to share one dish between the three of us. 

Pera - cinnamon sponge, with pear sorbet. (photo courtesy of Dr. V) 

Admittedly I was a little disappointed because the presentation didn’t live up to what I had imagined in my mind as I first read the description on the board. BUT, what this dish lacked in presentation, it made up for in taste. The soft and moist but firm sponge tasted like apple cake (probably because of my association of cinnamon with apples). While the cinnamon flavour was well defined, some bites almost tasted bland due to the thickness of the sponge. The pear sorbet was a stark contrast to the sponge: cold and flavoursome to a different extent. Fruity and very subtly sour. Combine that with the sponge and that’s when a winning combination arose. I wasn’t a fan of the pear pieces because they had been soaked in a vinegar of some sort (so much vinegar on the menu!) but when eaten in tiny portions or in combination with the sponge AND sorbet, it wasn’t too bad.

The next installment of the VKM adventures did not disappoint and may have in fact exceeded my expectations prior to dining at MoVida. With dishes like the truffle Wagyu and squid ink croqueta, MoVida Bar de Tapas takes tapas dining to a whole new level. I walked out of the restaurant tempted to get myself another booking in probably what will be another two months time…

MoVida Bar de Tapas on Urbanspoon

MoVida Bar de Tapas

1 Hosier Lane, 

Melbourne, Victoria, 3000. 

(03) 9663 3038

Food adventure @ Robarta

One of the best dining experiences you can have are those that turn out to be unexpectedly delightful. Robarta was one of those instances. Admittedly, I jumped the gun when I saw the appearance of what looked a couple of tables thrown into a bar setting, as opposed to a proper restaurant setting. It was a classic situation of “don’t judge a book by its cover” or rather, don’t judge a restaurant by its appearance…

The interior. Definitely more bar than restaurant. 

Our eating utensils. I think the last time I encountered chopsticks in a bar setting was overseas and was a little amused by this sight. 

Much of Robarta’s menu is comprised of Asian tapas dishes that are perfect for sharing. Not to mention great-size accompaniments for a few drinks here and there. 

Pork/prawn spring rolls - house made, a light Filo pastry filled with fresh ingredients and sweet chilli dipping sauce. (Vegetarian/chicken option also available)

As you can see here (and what I was surprised to see myself), there was no skimping on the prawns! And they were fresh to boot! Or at least they tasted quite fresh to me. The overall taste resulting from a perfect balance of flavour and prawn-to-pork-to-cabbage ratio was quite impressive for a “westernised” spring roll and probably just fell short of the authentic Vietnamese spring rolls. 

Chicken & pork San Choi Bao - chicken and pork combined with shiitake mushrooms, Chinese wine, soy & oyster sauce, with lime zest, carrot, coriander and bean sprouts.

This dish was Mon’s choosing and I for one am glad that she picked it. I usually lose interest at the word San and don’t bother reading the rest. But after Mon voted to order it, I read the description and the list of ingredients wowed me. The actual product itself did not disappoint. While there were a lot of flavours floating around in the dish, they all complimented one another perfectly. Very Asian-flavoured and light. 

Shanghai dumpling - minced pork, shiitake mushroom, Chinese cabbage, with soy & oyster sauce. 

Yet another pleasant surprise. These dumplings were almost as delicious as the ones served at where I think serves Melbourne’s ultimate dumplings, Shanghai Village. The flavour and texture of the pork fillings were on par but the exterior wasn’t as crispy. Still enjoyable though! 

Crispy skin chicken drummettes - chicken drummettes coated in [their] special spice mix and cooked to a crispy finish. 

Four for four? Home run? Unfortunately no, the delicious streak ended here. The chicken was a bit too oily for our liking. And while the flavour wasn’t too bad, it also wasn’t anything to rave about. Given the extent of how much we had enjoyed the other dishes up until this point, we weren’t feeling to disappointed. 

White chocolate panna cotta - a light, silky-smooth cream & white chocolate custard, with berries & sticky red wine syrup. 

There’s no false advertising when they say light and silky smooth because its texture was what I’d picture a rich vanilla mousse to be. Think crème brûlée but a smidgen bit thicker and fluffier. The vanilla taste was very distinct but not too potent or too sweet. The sticky red wine syrup provided most of the sweetness for the dessert but the fresh fruits helped to balance it out. 

Apple, mango and coconut crumble - stewed apple and mango topped with a golden coconut crumble, served with fresh cream. 

This was definitely unlike any other crumble I had tried. Extra oomph was given to this dessert by the inclusion of mango and coconut. Fortunately for me, the coconut taste was quite subtle (I’m not the biggest fan of coconut) but still detectable. The crumble layer was very crisp and crunchy and provided a nice contrast to the very mooshy mix of fruits. The mango taste was often overpowered by the apple and only distinct in some bites. 

All in all, Mon and myself walked out of Robarta with full stomachs and smiles on our faces. We were pleasantly wowed by how enjoyable our meals turned out and it really just goes to show how a restaurant’s decor is no reflection on how tasty their food is. 

Robarta on Urbanspoon


109 Fitzroy St,

St Kilda, Victoria, 3182

(03) 9534 9041

Brisbane “adventures” part 4

Saturday 25th February 2012. 

When I next opened my eyes after what I deemed to be a great and non-disruptive sleep, the sun appeared to be streaming through the curtains. FINALLY. Some sunshine from the sunny state. 

Apparently this is what a sunny day looks like in Brisbane… Hmmm, Melbourne weather doesn’t seem so bad now.

With no oral presentation to worry about and it being the last day of the conference, I arrived at the exhibition centre enthusiastic and keen to make the most out of the remaining sessions. This lasted for only the first two talks and it wasn’t long before my mind went back to wandering. 

Morning tea selection. 

Lemon custard and meringue pie.

It may have looked like meringue topping but the texture was far from correct. It was very soft and foamy. 

Savoury chicken pie. Not bad and definitely better than the sweet option. 

When it was time for lunch, a few of us had decided to go out to some restaurant close by to the convention centre but then we read their menu… Lunch sounded heaps better than the options from previous days and so we decided to stick around. 

Barbecue chicken caesar salad. Pastrami, mustard, pickles on rye. Baby potato salad, mustard seeds and spring onions. Muesli slice. 

The muesli slice in particular was delicious. It tasted like chocolate cake with a chewy muesli consistency. 

Afternoon tea. 

I couldn’t help but exceed my normal sugar intake. Worth it? Yep. 

Before long, the conference came to an end. Everyone else had either already left or were leaving to catch their flights back to Melbourne and I was left to enjoy the rest of the weekend. Mon and C were a block away from the convention centre at the Museum and I decided to join them there.

I arrived at 20 to 5. 20 minutes to quickly squeeze in as much exhibits as possible. I didn’t even get through one.

I did get to see some dinosaur fossils. 

And butterflies. I’m usually scared of butterflies but I thought some of the colours were quite pretty. Especially the pastel-coloured ones. 

Very vibrant colouring… 

I’m not sure why they’d stock this or how it’s relevant to any of their exhibits but Mon pointed out some button-shaped ceramic thingos at their gift/souvenir shop. I wasn’t impressed. 

The museum closed soon after that and we had to face the pouring rain outside. Mon and C recommended checking out the shopping sites in the CBD area so into the rain we went, using our scarves or cardigans as make shift umbrellas. 

My first glimpse of the Brisbane river. And a close up look of the CBD area.

A few thoughts occurred to me. A. Their river is surprisingly WIDE. So very wide. It makes the Yarra River look like a stream in comparison! B. It was taking ages to walk across the bridge. And then I realised that this was because of point A. And C. I wouldn’t drink from the river. Not that I would drink from any river. But the point is that the water was very very brown. Much browner than the Yarra and therefore not good to drink from. I’ll stop rambling about drinking from rivers now…

The streets of Brisbane CBD. 

This was the first of quite a few stores we had explored and I was already starting to grab virtually everything. That’s what a week or two of shopping-deprivation will do to you I guess. 

I thought this building was very pretty and historical looking. Possibly their Parliament House? It turned out it was the casino in what used to be (or maybe still is) the treasury building. Mon wanted to check it out and try her luck with a few dollars. We were out within 30 minutes. 

As we made the long journey (it seemed like days were going by as we walked back over that huge river) back to the more familiar side of town, we spotted the Wheel of Brisbane and decided it would be nicer to go on it during the night. Better views. 

It’s a very impressive wheel. And nothing like the fail “wheel” we have over here in Docklands, Melbourne. 

Very high up… I felt quite anxious during the ride. You couldn’t see the foundation of the ferris wheel until you were on your way down. So whilst going up, it felt as though the compartment was hovering mid air and rising! My stomach was doing odd flips and my entire body felt tense as I gripped tightly onto the seat. Apparently I don’t do too well with heights also… 

Views from the top of the wheel. Ruined by rain. 

My hands were shaking as I took this shot. 

After the wheel (went around 12 times!), we decided to walk back to the apartment via South Bank rather than the main street. We soon encountered a man-made beach. Smack bang in the middle of South Bank. Free to use by anyone!

The entire place looked amazing. It was huge and there were multiple swimming areas. Hut-like structures. What looked like a stream. SOFT sand. Warm water. FREE. We waded through the shallow parts of the water, not particularly caring that we were holding our bags. With electronic goods ie. phones and cameras in them. I tried to minimise the use of my phone and the photo-taking due to fear that they would have dropped into the water. Fortunately this was not the case. 

We had made bookings for dinner at 9pm and had 20 minutes back at the apartment before needing to head back out. Given that it was our last night here, we decided to check out the venue’s sky deck. Ahh, so that’s where the funky lights were coming from at night. 

We could see quite far out into the distance because we were so high up but views of the city were hindered by other nearby tall apartment buildings. 

After a good ten minutes of taking in the view from all angles on the roof, we rushed off to dinner. 

Dinner was at another one of South Brisbane’s higher ranked restaurants according to Urbanspoon; Granada Cafe Tapas Bar. More details to follow soon. 

For the remainder of our last night in Brisbane… we headed back to our apartment and watched TV. It was a great way to wind down after a week with TWO oral presentations and to give the brain a little bit of a break. Who needs to go out when you have Foxtel? (I think we may need to stay at places that don’t have TVs in future.)

Food adventure @ Gypsy Road

Thehouseofem and susper were leaving for New Yoooooork the next day, so we decided to have dinner nearby to thehouseofem’s turf at Point Cook Town Centre. After a short walk up and down the one strip of restaurants, we settled on tapas at Gypsy Road.

The darkened interior with the various blue tones and lighting provided what can only be described as a soothing and tranquil feel. However this effect was spoiled by the sunlight streaming in and the place probably looks amazing by night. We opted to sit outside. Let thehouseofem and susper soak in as much sunlight before exposure to the winter elements for two weeks overseas. 

Lemon lime bitter and apple juices.

Our selection of tapas.

Teriyaki chicken - chicken supreme with teriyaki sauce.

The chicken was sliced quite thinly, allowing much of it to soak up the flavouring from the sauce. The teriyaki sauce itself wasn’t too salty or potent, resulting in an overall light dish. Good to eat as a salad or with rice (offered as an option under the mains). 

Pork croquettes, with Gribeche sauce. 

The croquettes were typical, crumbed perfectly on the outside with a delicious mashed potato and pork inside. The Gribeche sauce however was something I hadn’t encountered with croquettes yet. The first bite was a familiar taste and it took me a while before I could put my finger on it; egg sandwiches from Japan. As it turns out, Gribeche sauce is a cold mayonnaise sauce with chunks of egg. It went well with the croquettes. Delicious!

Arancini balls - panko crumbed pumpkin, Persian fetta spinach. 

Susper was having a meat-free day and this was one of two vegetarian dishes ordered, so they all had susper’s name. I have since tried these on a separate occasion and wasn’t a fan. While the outside was crisp as it should be, the overall taste was bland. Given the slightly larger size, the stuffing was also too filling and borderline sickening. Well, it would have been sickening if I had eaten more than two-thirds. 

Enchiladas bite (Japanese mini pizza)

Tomato paste, melted cheese and fresh herbs on a crisp base. Need I say more?

Ebi - prawn with creamy garlic and paprika sauce.

These were quite a hit also with the three of us. The prawns tasted fresh and the creamy sauce had a strong garlic taste that went hand in hand with the prawns. If there was bread on the menu, it would have been good to soak up the rest of the sauce. We used the salad instead since we didn’t want to waste such delicious tasting sauce.

Jagamayo - green peas, potato salad, with wasabi mayo.

I love wasabi mayo prawns and the taste of that was what I was expecting from this dish. It wasn’t the same. While the vegetables were good, the dressing was more wasabi than mayo. It might as well have been just smothered in wasabi! Poor susper, she doesn’t handle hot well and we had to leave this dish unfinished. 

As I mentioned previously, I have since returned here for lunch with J. 

The Gypsy Beef Burger - lettuce, tomato, bacon, pineapple, cheese with chips.

Grilled Chicken Burger - lettuce, tomato, cheese, aioli with chips.

Nothing special.

Their tapas selection for dinner was quite delicious and definitely something you could come back for. Lunch on the otherhand was definitely a let-down. Their burgers were mediocre in taste and for the same price, you can get the better version from Grill’D. 

Gypsy Road Tapas Bar & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Gypsy Road

Shop 402a, 1 Main St,

Point Cook Town Centre,

Point Cook, Victoria, 3030.

(03) 9395 7755

Food adventure @ Dig A Pony

J and I decided to explore more his ‘local’ area (10 minutes away, same diff!) and settled on Dig A Pony for dinner. It goes without saying, there were no ponies here in the restaurant or on the menu. Phew. 

Quite a cosy interior. We were here on a Sunday evening so it wasn’t too full, but I can imagine the place filling out on a Friday/Saturday night. 

Who knew a napkin could be so inspiring?

Complimentary bread. Which they happily replenished later on with one of our saucy dishes. 

Normally when it comes to food, I like to save the best for last. Which is STUPID, because you get full and then you can’t enjoy it. Still, I do it and that makes me stupid I suppose. But here, (although we didn’t know it at the time) the best dish came out first:

Chicken breast - stuffed with sweet capsicum, dates and cheddar cheese, served with a creamy saffron sauce. 

Succulent and tender chicken breast with basic herbs. Melted cheddar cheese oozing over the capsicum and dates. They must leave this dish to sit for a while because the chicken soaked up quite a bit of the flavours. And if this wasn’t already perfect, add in the saffron sauce. The creamy saffron sauce. Sold yet? We were when we read that in the description!

Bomba - fried potato croquettes filled with spicy beef mince.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, the definition of bomba is an explosion of flavours in your mouth. This didn’t disappoint. Crisp exterior with a soft and flavoursome potato interior. 

Minted lamb meatballs - with Italian tomato sauce.

And so while the meal started off so well, this is where is started to go down hill. Only because I have such a finicky palate though…

Although drenched in tomato sauce, I could still detect the lamb taste and had to throw in the towel after one bite. I was happy to eat the bread with the sauce (oh, this is when they kindly refilled our bread) and J was happy to polish off the meatballs.

Baked field mushrooms - topped with proscuitto, sage & goats cheese. 

J had turned up his nose when I went ahead and ordered this dish. Strangely enough, he ended up liking it more than I did. I thought the dish was okay but there wasn’t anything special about the taste. J thought the mushrooms were nice and juicy.

Chorizo - pan fried in apple cider & served with mint & picked shallots.

And lastly, another dish that didn’t really stand out. By the time the dish was served, I had forgotten about the pan fried in apple cider bit. I vaguely remember detecting a very very subtle sweetness but didn’t think much of it. It was also a little too oily for my liking. Again, J was very happy to finish it off. 

Chicken, big tick in the must-eat-again column. The bombas can go in there too. Definitely worth coming back for. 

Dig A Pony on Urbanspoon

58 Ballarat St,

Yarraville, Victoria, 3013.